[With a touch of jesting bitterness.] From the moment I realised that I had given away to you something rather indispensable, Arnold. Something one ought never to part with.
[Bowing his head.] Yes, that is bitterly true. You gave me three or four years of your youth.
More, more than that I gave you—spend-thrift as I then was.
Yes, you were prodigal, Irene. You gave me all your naked loveliness—–
—to gaze upon—–
—and to glorify—–
Yes, for your own glorification.—And the child’s.
And yours too, Irene.
But you have forgotten the most precious gift.
The most precious—? What gift was that?
I gave you my young, living soul. And that gift left me empty within —soulless. [Looking at him with a fixed stare.] It was that I died of, Arnold.
[The SISTER OF MERCY opens
the door wide and makes room for her.
She goes into the pavilion.
[Stands and looks after her; then whispers.] Irene!
[Near a mountain resort. The landscape stretches,
in the form of
an immense treeless upland, towards a long mountain lake. Beyond
the lake rises a range of peaks with blue-white snow in the clefts.
In the foreground on the left a purling brook falls in severed
streamlets down a steep wall of rock, and thence flows smoothly
over the upland until it disappears to the right. Dwarf trees,
plants, and stones along the course of the brook. In the
foreground on the right a hillock, with a stone bench on the
top of it. It is a summer afternoon, towards sunset.
[At some distance over the upland, on the other side
of the brook,
a troop of children is singing, dancing, and playing. Some are
dressed in peasant costume, others in town-made clothes. Their
happy laughter is heard, softened by distance, during the
[PROFESSOR RUBEK is sitting on the bench, with a plaid
shoulders, and looking down at the children’s play.