Scene I, cont’d
(Lights up on the EVERGREENS where SUE stands before the fireplace mantel, holding a wineglass, extravagantly dressed in low-cut gown and jewelry; speaking to people we don’t see. Party noises.)
I was roused about half past four by such strange sounds – wild snortings and huffings. Running to the window, who should I see but our coach horse Tom tearing over the grounds – as fine a warhorse as I ever expect to see! I shall never forget the picture – the moon just over the elms with one star fainting in its light – the east pink with dawn – fresh and dewy as only early morning can be and that great splendid animal exulting in it all, swishing through the wet grass triumphing in his freedom. For a moment it seemed enough to just be Tom. Alas, he was forced to make a most ignoble retreat.
He did no harm, I’m sorry to say.
(Consults her watch.)
I can’t imagine what’s keeping Austin. He’ll eat another cold dinner.
(Drinks, waves a hand)
Or he’s over at the Homestead where decent ladies daren’t go. Those girls have no idea of morality whatever – why, when I went last week I found Emily reclining in Judge Lord’s arms!
(Voices swell with excitement and clatter. Lights out on SUE and up on the HOMESTEAD parlor where the lovers dress.)
If people only realized that the more they try to keep lovers apart, the more they brood and think upon each other! Thoughts that are flames of conflagration greater even when than when they’re together. There would be less of these absurd separations.
If you knew Sue –
I thought I knew her. I wish she loved me. She fascinates me.
Well, she doesn’t fascinate me, and by her own choice. Believe me, I suffer every wound you receive from my family. I will straighten out the matter or smash the machine – I had rather be under the wreck than under what I am. There would be broken heads, certainly, but I would take a chance of coming out on top.
(He ushers MABEL out the door. Light goes up on EMILY writing at her table.)
Dear friend, it is strange that I miss you at night so much when I was never with you – but love invokes you soon as my eyes are shut and I wake warm with the want sleep had almost filled. Should I curb you, say the “Nay” and spoil the child? You know you are happiest when I withhold. Don’t you understand that NO is the wildest word in language? The Stile is God’s my sweet one – for your great sake – not mine – I will not let you cross. But what I am is all yours and when it is right I will lift the bars and lay you in the moss. Oh, my too beloved, save me from the idolatry that would crush us both. T’is a stern winter in my pearl jail.
(Tosses a crumpled page – speaks to herself)
Tell him the page I didn’t write! I am afraid to own a body! I am afraid to own a soul!
(Recites a poem)
A bone has obligations
A being has the same
A marrowless assembly
Is culpabler than shame!
(Writes as she speaks)
I cannot live with you
The sexton keeps the key.
They’d judge us.
I cannot die with you for I must await
The other’s gaze shut down.
How you sought; I could not.
You saturated sight when I had no more eyes.
Were you saved and I condemned
My self were hell to me.
So we must meet apart – you there – I here
With just a door ajar,
There oceans are, and prayer
And that white sustenance
(Lights out. end scene)
To be continued…