—The engineer and his wife. Their old place was chilly and damp. They complained to the landlord several times, but he paid no attention.
—I think it’s better to live in a small place that’s warm than in a large place that’s damp. You are liable to catch your death of cold and rheumatism if you live in a damp house.
—I have a friend, too, who lives in a very damp house. And I too. Very damp.
—There are so many damp places nowadays.
—Tell me, please—I’ve been wanting to ask you a long time—how do you remove a grease stain from light-colored material?
[The child’s crying is heard behind the scene.
—Take a piece of ice and rub it on the spot hard. Then take a hot iron and press the spot.
—No? Fancy, how simple! I heard benzine was better.
—No, benzine is good for dark material. For light goods ice is better.
—I wonder whether smoking is allowed here. Somehow at never occurred to me before whether one may or may not smoke where there is a new-born baby.
—It never occurred to me either. How strange! I know it isn’t proper to smoke at funerals, but here—
—Nonsense! Of course you may smoke.
—Smoking is a bad habit just the same. You are still a very young man and ought to take good care of your health. There are many occasions in life when good health is highly essential.
—But smoking stimulates.
—Believe me, it’s a very unhealthy stimulant. When I was young and reckless, I was also guilty of using, or rather abusing, tobacco—
—Mamma, listen to him crying. My, how he’s crying! Does he want milk, mamma?
[The young men burst out laughing. The Elderly Woman looks at them sternly.
THE SECOND SCENE
LOVE AND POVERTY
The entire place is filled with a warm, bright light. A large, very poor room, high walls, the color of old rose, covered here and there with beautiful, fantastic, roughly drawn designs. To the right are two lofty windows, eight panes in each, with the darkness of night glooming through them. Two poor beds, two chairs, and a bare table, on which stands a half-broken pitcher of water and a pretty bunch of flowers.
In the darkest corner stands Someone in Gray, the candle in His hand now reduced by a third, but the flame still very bright, high, and white. It throws a powerful light on His face and chin.
Enter the Neighbors, dressed in light, gay dresses, their hands full of flowers, grasses, and fresh branches of oak and birch. They run about the room, scattering them. Their faces are merry, simple, and good-natured._