[Looks doubtfully at her.] Did I say “episode”? It is not a word I am in the habit of using.
You said “episode.”
[With assumed cheerfulness.] Well, well—after all, it was in reality an episode.
[Curtly.] At that word I left you.
You take everything so painfully to heart, Irene.
[Drawing her hand over her forehead.] Perhaps you are right. Let us shake off all the hard things that go to the heart. [Plucks off the leaves of a mountain rose and strews them on the brook.] Look there, Arnold. There are our birds swimming.
What birds are they?
Can you not see? Of course they are flamingoes. Are they not rose-red?
Flamingoes do not swim. They only wade.
Then they are not flamingoes. They are sea-gulls.
They may be sea-gulls with red bills, yes. [Plucks broad green leaves and throws them into the brook.] Now I send out my ships after them.
But there must be no harpoon-men on board.
No, there shall be no harpoon-men. [Smiles to her.] Can you remember the summer when we used to sit like this outside the little peasant hut on the Lake of Taunitz?
[Nods.] On Saturday evenings, yes,—when we had finished our week’s work—–
—And taken the train out to the lake—to stay there over Sunday—–
[With an evil gleam of hatred in her eyes.] It was an episode, Arnold.
[As if not hearing.] Then, too, you used to set birds swimming in the brook. They were water-lilies which you—–
They were white swans.