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WORLD THEATRE FAVORITES Copyright Š 2003 by Lia Beeson All rights reserved. Obtain permission in writing from the copyright owner for all professional or amateur performance, public reading, lecturing, recitation, radio broadcasting, television, motion picture, video or sound taping or translation into foreign languages, and to reproduce or transmit any part of this play in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system. Lia Beeson liabson@yahoo.com More information about Alejandro Casona’s plays in English at www.casonatheatre.com and www.intranslation.org.ar THE LADY OF THE DAWN (LA DAMA DEL ALBA) A Fable Play in Four Acts by Alejandro Casona English version by Lia Beeson 2005 World Premiere Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1944. Translated to French, English, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Greek, Flemish, Czech and Yiddish in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. INTRODUCTION


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Alejandro Casona (1903-1965) belongs as much to the World Theatre as to the Spanish Theatre. He won two top literary prizes. He also won the public around the world. His plays, dealing with perennial human concerns, are timeless and have been translated to eleven main languages. Here, his play was translated not only from language to language but from culture to culture and from century to century as well. Personal experience led Casona to believe that theatre could cause people to think of a better world and improve their lives. “I simply don’t see reality as just anguish, despair, negativity and sex,” he said. In his plays he usually contrasts how one half lives and how the other half lives, so that one may understand the other better. Casona has a series of feminist leads, plus varied strongly assertive female characters. Also, he usually specified some background and onstage music. In most of his works at least one of his characters hums, sings or plays some Spanish folkloric or traditional European tunes. To an interviewer asking what was the secret of his success, Casona once replied, “Perhaps, that I address myself to the heart of the audience.” PLAY OVERVIEW A family lost to sorrow is brought back to life after a young woman wishing to die finds acceptance and love among them. Though Death appears to take from the family a second time, she is waylaid from her mission by three playful children and misses the appointment. Death keeps her promise to the grandfather when she returns once more, but gets creative in who and how she takes what’s hers. Casona dedicated this play to his native land of Asturias, “to its countryside, its people, its spirit. The scene is my native village, the characters are the shepherds and peasants I grew up with, the songs are the first ones I ever sang, and the words, half poetic and half ‘as the saying goes’ are from the old Astur Castilian, good-old grandparent echo.” Featured music: From the old Spanish folklore, the medieval romance “Count Olinos” and the songs “The Clover” and “Master Saint John.” CHARACTERS (Anglicized) The Pilgrim Lady Telva, middle aged The Mother, middle aged Adela, twenty Angelica, the daughter, twenties Doreen, a child Fairgoer girl 1 Fairgoer girl 2 Fairgoer girl 3 Fairgoer girl 4 The Grandfather, seventy Martin Narces, thirties


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Kicko, the mill hand Andrew, a child Falin, a child Boy 1 Boy 2 Boy 3 ACT I A place in Asturias, Northern Spain. No specific period. Main floor of a farmhouse, showing a clean and comfortable living. Solid construction—whitewashed stone and hard woods. At the back, a large main door and a window opening to the fields. To the right, stairs leading to the bedrooms, and in the foreground, exit to the stockyard. To the left, exit to the kitchen and in the foreground a large wood-burning fireplace framed with decorative tile and shelves with country crockery and copper pans reflecting the red shimmer. There’s a scythe against the back wall. Rustic walnut furniture, and an old wall clock. Thick rope floor matting. It’s nighttime. Light from a kerosene lamp. The Mother, Grandfather and grandchildren (Andrew, Doreen and Falin) are finishing their supper. Telva, the old maidservant, waits on them at the table. GRANDFATHER (Breaking the bread.) It’s still warm. And smells of blooming broom. TELVA Broom and dry hickory—there’s no better wood for heating the oven. And what about the golden color? Late harvest wheat from the sunny side. GRANDFATHER Our flour is good, but you help it too. When God gave you those hands He was thinking good bread. TELVA And good biscuits? And good egg toasts? You love those dunked in hot wine in winter. (Looks at the mother, absorbed in thought with her elbows on the table.) Aren’t you having some supper, Ma’am? MOTHER No. (Telva sighs resignedly and pours milk into the children’s bowl.) FALIN Can I break up bread in my milk? ANDREW Can I bring the cat to eat with me?


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DOREEN Her place is the kitchen—her paws are always dirty with ash. ANDREW Who asked you? It’s my cat. DOREEN But I wash the tablecloth. GRANDFATHER Mind your sister. ANDREW Why? I’m older. GRANDFATHER But she’s a woman. ANDREW Always the same. My cat likes eating with me and you won’t let her. I like eating on the floor and you won’t let me either. TELVA When you grow up you’ll run your household, young man. ANDREW Sure. You say that every year. FALIN When are we grown up, Grandpa? GRANDFATHER Soon. When you learn to read and write. ANDREW But if we don’t go to school we’ll never learn. GRANDFATHER (To the mother.) The children are right. They are old enough. They should go to school. MOTHER (Obsessively.) They won’t! They’d have to cross the river to go to school. I don’t want my children anywhere near the river. DOREEN Everyone else goes. Girls too. Why can’t we cross the river?


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MOTHER If only no one in the family had gone near it. TELVA (To the children.) Enough of that. We don’t talk about those things. (To Doreen, while collecting the bowls.) Don’t you want to make corn bread? The oven will be cooling off. ANDREW (Stands up, ready for some action.) We’ll make it red-hot again. I’ll help you. FALIN Me too! DOREEN Can I drizzle it with honey? TELVA And put a fig leaf on the bottom so it doesn’t get scorched. You have to learn these things. Soon you’ll be a young lady—the only one in the house. (Exits with them to the kitchen.) GRANDFATHER You shouldn’t talk like that in front of the little ones. They breathe-in anguish in the air all the time. It stifles them. MOTHER She was their sister. I don’t want them to forget her. GRANDFATHER But they need to have good laughs and run in the sun. A stiff child is not a child. MOTHER At least, by me they are safe. GRANDFATHER Don’t worry, lightning never strikes twice. Stop thinking about it. MOTHER Do you do any different? You don’t mention her but I know what you are thinking when you stay quiet for hours with the cigar cold in your mouth. GRANDFATHER What’s the use of looking back? What happened is over. Life goes on. You have a family that should be as happy as before.


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MOTHER It was easy being happy before—Angelica was here. Where she set foot there was joy. GRANDFATHER You still have the other three. Think of them. MOTHER I can think of nothing but Angelica today. Her anniversary. It was on this day at night, four years ago. GRANDFATHER Four years already! (Sits down by the fire, pensively rolling a cigarette.) ENTER KICKO KICKO (Comes from the stockyard with a rose, grinning.) Great moonlight for riding. The mare is saddled. MOTHER (Raising her head.) Saddled? Who told you to do that? GRANDFATHER I did. MOTHER And who told you? GRANDFATHER Martin wants to go up to the scrub and pick the bullocks for the fair. MOTHER Does it have to be precisely tonight? Tonight he should stay home. GRANDFATHER The fair is tomorrow. MOTHER (Peevishly.) If that’s what he wants to do, fine. ENTER TELVA KICKO You need anything, Ma’am? MOTHER


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Nothing. Are you going to the mill this time of night? KICKO There’s always something to do, Ma’am. And if there isn’t, it feels great being lulled by the wheel and the water. TELVA (Maliciously.) Not to mention that the mill is by the Mayor’s barn and the Mayor has three girls, each one naughtier than the last. They say the girls poisoned their dog because it barked when a man jumped in over the fence at night. KICKO They say, they say. They also say the road to hell is paved with tongues of women. Damn ole’ gossip. God bless, Mistress. (On his way out he puts the rose over his ear, whistling gaily. Exits.) TELVA Sure, sure. Gossip. I wasn’t born yesterday. His eyes are all sparks when he goes to the mill. And he comes back with a jolly exhaustion rolling round his loins. GRANDFATHER Won’t you stop talking, woman? TELVA (Clearing the table.) I don’t mean to gossip. If I talk a bit too much sometimes it’s to loosen up my nerves—like throwing dishes. Is this, living? The mistress, with her eyes pinned to the wall. You, always quiet in a corner. And those dear children, trained to make no noise as if always barefoot. If I don’t talk, who will? MOTHER This is not a day for talking. Remembrance is better in silence. TELVA Do you think I forgot her? But life goes on, Ma’am. What good does it do to draw the drapes and keep yelling it’s dark as night? On the other side of the window every day the sun shines. MOTHER Not for me. TELVA Mind me, Ma’am. Open wide Angelica’s room. Air out all the linen growing cold in that dusty chest. MOTHER


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Not even the sun has the right to disturb her room. That dust is the one thing I have left from her last day with us. GRANDFATHER (To Telva.) Don’t tire yourself out. She has a thorn in her side but won’t let anyone take it out. MOTHER Blessed thorn. I rather have it stinging my flesh than forget about it like you all do. TELVA Not so, Ma’am. Not talking about something doesn’t mean we don’t care. When I married I thought my husband didn’t love me because he didn’t talk sweet to me. But he always brought me the first bunch of grapes from the vineyard. And in the seven years we were together he gave me seven sons. Seven men. Each one expresses himself in his own way. GRANDFATHER Your husband was a fine man of the land. He was upright. TELVA Like an oak. And it would’ve been as tough to thrust an ax into him. But every year he gave out blossoms. MOTHER A husband comes and goes. He’s not flesh of our flesh like one’s child is. TELVA (Stops her work for a moment.) Are you going to tell me what one’s child is? To me! You lost one, Ma’am, and that’s plenty. I lost all my seven the same day. With dirt in their eyes and all black with soot they brought them out of the mine. One by one I washed the seven bodies. So? Was I going to cover my head with a shawl and sit at the door mourning just because? I mourned them on my feet, working. (Her voice falters. Bluntly swipes a tear with the tip of her apron and goes on clearing the table.) As I couldn’t have others, I planted in my yard seven trees, tall and handsome like seven men. (Lowers her voice.) When I sit down to sew in the shade, I don’t feel so lonely. MOTHER It isn’t the same. Yours rest in the ground, where grass and crops grow. Mine is in the water. Can you kiss the water? Can you hug or cry over her grave? That’s what’s eating me. GRANDFATHER The whole town looked for her. The best swimmers dived down to the deepest part. MOTHER


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They didn’t search enough, or they would have found her body. GRANDFATHER It happened other times before. The Deep Hole is bottomless. TELVA Some say there’s a whole town down there, with a church and everything. Sometimes people hear bells underwater on Saint John’s eve. MOTHER Even if there was a palace. I don’t like her in the river where passersby throw stones. The Scriptures say it, "Man is dust and to dust shall return." I won’t rest in peace until she’s found. ENTER MARTIN MARTIN (Young, strong mountaineer, coming downstairs in shirtsleeves and riding boots. Onstage he puts on his fleece-lined coat, which he takes down from a nail on the wall.) Is the mare ready? GRANDFATHER Kicko saddled her before going to the mill. (Telva puts the tablecloth away and takes dishes to the kitchen.) MOTHER Do you have to go to the scrub tonight? MARTIN I want to separate the cattle myself. Eight bullocks with tender hooves and saffron heads that will be the pride of the fair. GRANDFATHER If that’s all, the foreman can do it. MARTIN He doesn’t know them as I do. I fed them salt from my hand as yearlings. They’ll be leaving today. I want to brand them myself. MOTHER (Reproachfully.) Didn’t occur to you that I need you here tonight especially? Have you forgotten what day it is today? ENTER TELVA (With a basket of peas.)


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MARTIN Today? (Looks at Grandfather and Telva. Both lower their heads. Martin understands and lowers his too.) I see. MOTHER I know you don’t like memories. But I’m not asking you to say anything. Sitting quietly by me is all I ask. MARTIN (Evasive.) The foreman is waiting for me. MOTHER Is that so important? MARTIN Even if it wasn’t. It’s better to start a new crop than cry over a lost one. MOTHER I understand. Angelica was your sweetheart two years, but your wife only three days. Too little time for love. MARTIN She was mine and that was enough. In thirty years I couldn’t love her any more than I loved her those days. MOTHER (Goes toward him looking him in the eye.) Then, why don’t you ever mention her? And why, when the whole town was searching for her, did you stay home all tensed up behind close doors? (Moves closer.) And why don’t you look me in the eye when I talk to you about her? MARTIN (Tensely.) That’s enough. (Exits determinedly to the stockyard.) GRANDFATHER You are going to make Martin hate this house. It’s impossible to keep a memory like that. Like an open sore in the raw all the time. MOTHER (Sorrowfully resigned.) You too? No one loves her anymore. No one. (Sits back down, dropping heavily on the seat. Telva sits at her side with the basket of peas between them. Offstage, the dog barks.) TELVA Would you help me shell the peas, Ma’am? It’s like saying a green rosary. Beads slip through your fingers while your thoughts fly. (Pause while both shell.)


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MOTHER Where do yours fly to, Telva? TELVA To my seven tall trees. And yours, Ma’am? MOTHER Mine are fastened to the water. Always. (The dog’s barking is heard again.) TELVA The dog’s barking a lot. GRANDFATHER He’s nervous. Must be a pilgrim. He knows the town folk at a distance. ENTER THE CHILDREN (Rush in excitedly and a bit scared.) DOREEN There’s a woman, Mother. She must’ve lost her way. TELVA Is she passing by or coming here? FALIN Coming here. ANDREW She has a hood on and a walking stick. Like pilgrims. (The heavy doorknocker sounds. Telva looks at the Mother, hesitantly.) MOTHER Open up, Telva. We can’t close the door to a walker in the night. (Telva opens the upper part of the door and the Pilgrim Lady is seen.) ENTER THE PILGRIM LADY LADY God bless this house and deliver all its dwellers from evil. TELVA Amen. Are you looking for lodging? The lodge is on the other side of the river. LADY But there’s no barge crossing this late.


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MOTHER Let her in. Pilgrims are entitled to a fire, and they bring blessings to the house that welcomes them. (The Pilgrim Lady comes in. Telva closes the door.) GRANDFATHER Did you lose your way, Ma’am? LADY Rather the strength to keep on going. I’ve come a long way and a cold wind is blowing hard. GRANDFATHER Sit down by the fire. If we can help you with something, Ma’am. Long roads make a person hungry and thirsty. LADY Thank you. I don’t need anything. The fire will do. (Sits down by the fire.) I knew I’d find a good fire in here. TELVA Not hard to guess. Did you see the smoke out the chimney? LADY No. I saw children at the window. Homes with children are always warm. (Pulls back her hood, showing a pale and beautiful face with a serene smile.) ANDREW (Whispering.) She’s pretty. DOREEN Like a fairy queen. LADY (To Grandfather.) Why are you staring at me? Do I remind you of someone? GRANDFATHER I’m not sure. But I could swear this isn’t the first time we’ve met. LADY It’s possible. I’ve been through many towns, many roads. (To the children, watching her curiously, holding on to Telva’s skirt.) And you? Your eyes are going to grow wide if you keep looking at me like that. Too shy to come closer? TELVA Excuse them, Ma’am. They aren’t used to seeing strangers—especially in such clothes.


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LADY Do I frighten you? ANDREW (Goes toward her, resolved.) Not me. They are younger. FALIN (Goes toward her too, rather shyly.) We never saw a pilgrim before. DOREEN I did. In pictures, with something around their heads. Like saints. ANDREW (With an air of superiority.) Saints are old and bearded. She’s young. Her hair’s like wheat and her hands aren’t tanned—like a lady’s. LADY Do you think I’m beautiful? ANDREW Very. Grandpa says all things beautiful come from far away. LADY (Smiles and fondles his hair.) Thank you, little one. Women will love listening to you when you grow up. (Scans the house.) Grandchildren, grandfather, and a fire going—a happy home. GRANDFATHER So it was. LADY This is the house of Martin Narces, right? MOTHER He is my son-in-law. Do you know him? LADY I heard of him as a hot-blooded young man, gallant at fairs and the best rider in the sierras. ENTER MARTIN MARTIN The mare’s not in the stable. The door was left open. You can hear her neighing in the fields.

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GRANDFATHER What? Kicko left her here saddled up. MARTIN Is he horse blind? The one saddled up is Whitefours. MOTHER The colt? (Stands up determinedly.) Oh, no, you are not riding that wild bundle of nerves that bolts at the slightest flash! MARTIN Why not? Some time has to be the first time. Where is the spur? MOTHER Do not tempt fate, son. The roads are slippery with frost and the Rabion Pass is always dangerous. MARTIN You and your fears. Do you want to keep me in a corner too, like your children? I’m fed up with women guarding me with warnings and hiding my shotguns from me. (Strongly.) Where is the spur? (Telva and Grandfather keep quiet. The Pilgrim Lady simply takes the spur down from the fireplace.) LADY Is this it? MARTIN (Looks at her, surprised, and lowers his voice.) Excuse me for raising my voice. I didn’t see you. (Looks at the others questioningly.) GRANDFATHER She’s a pilgrim on her way. LADY They welcomed me to the fire. I’d like to reciprocate. Humbly. (Kneels down.) May I? (Fits the spur on him.) MARTIN Thank you. (They gaze at each other quietly for a moment, she still on her knees.) LADY The Narces were always good riders. MARTIN


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So they say. Safe journey, Ma’am. I may not see you again. Go to bed and don’t worry, mother. I don’t want anyone waiting for me through the night with a light at the window. ANDREW I’ll hold the stirrup for you. DOREEN I’ll hold the reins. FALIN Me too! (They exit with Martin.) TELVA (To Mother.) It was your fault, Ma’am. Don’t you know men yet? To make them come this way you better tell them go that way. MOTHER Why do women always want sons? Men are for the outdoors and horses. Only a daughter fills the house. (Stands up.) Excuse me, Ma’am. If you want to stay here till morning you are welcome to whatever you need. LADY I need only some time to rest. I have to keep going. TELVA (Walks Mother to the stairs.) Are you going to bed, Ma’am? MOTHER At least to be by myself. Since no one listens to me, I’ll go to my room and pray. (Going up.) Praying is like screaming under your breath. (Pause while she exits. The dog barks again.) TELVA Damn dog. What’s the matter with him tonight? GRANDFATHER He isn’t used to strangers either. (Telva, through with shelling peas, starts knitting.) LADY How do you call the dangerous pass in the sierra? GRANDFATHER The Rabion Pass. LADY


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The Rabion Pass is by the large chestnut tree, right? The one struck by lightning a hundred years ago but still there, a gnarled burnt trunk fast rooted into the rock. GRANDFATHER You know the surroundings quite well for a stranger. LADY I’ve been here several times. Just passing by. GRANDFATHER That’s what I’m trying to remember since you entered. Where did I see you before? When? Don’t you remember me? TELVA Why would she remember you, sir? If you were young and handsome, fine, but old men all look the same. GRANDFATHER It had to be here. I’ve never traveled. When were you in town before? LADY Last time, it was a day of great celebration. Bagpipes, tambourines. From all roads couples on horseback were coming down with green boughs. Picnic tablecloths spread out all over the green. TELVA Milady’s wedding. My God, what a bash. They poured the barrels of hard cider in jets. Villagers from all over came to Big Meadow to dance Giraldillas. LADY I saw it from a distance. I was passing through the woods. GRANDFATHER That was two years ago. And before that? LADY I remember another time. A winter day. Snow was falling so thick there was no trace of the roads. This looked like a village of dwarfs: White chimneys as hoods, icicles as beards. TELVA The Snow Blitz. Never another like it. GRANDFATHER And before that? Much earlier?


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LADY (Remembering with effort.) Before… It was so long ago I hardly remember. A thick smoke hung in the air. Acrid, it hurt the throat. The mine’s siren howled like a dog. Men were running, all tense. Doors stayed open in the night. In the houses women were wailing. Screaming. TELVA (Blesses herself, terrified.) Our Lady of Blessed Memories, deliver me from that one. ENTER THE CHILDREN DOREEN (Joyfully, as the others.) Martin’s shooting full gallop to the sierra. FALIN He’s the best rider in a hundred miles. ANDREW When I grow up I’ll break colts too. TELVA (Puts away her knitting and stands up.) When you grow up we’ll see, but for the time being, to bed. It’s late. You grow up faster in bed. ANDREW It’s too early. The lady has seen so many things! She’ll have stories to tell us. TELVA The sheets story is the best of them all. LADY Let them stay, Ma’am. Children and I are good friends and I’ll be here just a while longer. ANDREW Are you traveling more tonight? I’ll walk you to the raft if you’re afraid of the dark. LADY You! You are still small. ANDREW So? Better a small man than a big woman. Grandpa says so. TELVA Do you hear him? Very devils. Give them a hand, and see how fast they take hand and foot. To bed, I said!


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GRANDFATHER Let them stay, Telva. I’ll stay with them. TELVA Right. On top of it all, undermine my authority and set them a bad example. (Exits grumbling.) He spoke well who said, "What do you think the monks do, if the abbot plays poker?" GRANDFATHER If you are going to Santiago, I can point out the way for you. LADY That won’t be necessary. The way is mapped in the skies with stardust. ANDREW Why do stars map out the way? LADY So that pilgrims going to Santiago won’t get lost. DOREEN Why do pilgrims go to Santiago? LADY Because the tomb of the Apostle is there. FALIN Why is the tomb of the Apostle there? ALL THREE Why? GRANDFATHER Don’t mind them, Ma’am. Children ask more than a sage can answer. (Seeing her crossing her hands inside the sleeves.) The fire is getting low. Are you still cold? LADY My hands are always cold. GRANDFATHER I’ll split some logs and bring some heather—it makes the fire smell good. (Exits to the stockyard. The children rush to surround the pilgrim lady.)

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DOREEN Now that we are alone, would you tell us a story? LADY Doesn’t Grandfather tell you stories? ANDREW Grandpa knows how stories begin but he doesn’t know how they end. His cigar goes out in his mouth and he loses track and then it’s, "hickory-dickory-dory, that’s the end of my story." DOREEN It was different before. Angelica knew hundreds of stories. Even with music. The way she told them was like seeing everything. ANDREW The one about Thumbelina. And the one about the girl fighting in the war dressed as a man. DOREEN And the one about Xana spinning gold by the fountain. FALIN And the one about the blind vixen going to Saint Lucy to cure her eyes. LADY Who was Angelica? DOREEN Our elder sister. The whole town loved her. She was the whole town’s sister. But one night she went down the river. ANDREW Since then we can’t talk loud or play games. FALIN Do you know any games? LADY I’m afraid I forgot them all. But I can learn if you teach me. (They surround her excitedly.) FALIN Let’s play "sawdust saw far, all the woodies Saint John’s are"


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DOREEN No, let’s play "give and take, give and take, off the donkey, it’s my turn." ANDREW No, wait. (To the lady.) Turn your head that way. No cheating, uh? (The Pilgrim Lady covers her eyes with her hands while they whisper, heads touching.) That’s it! First, we sit on the floor. (All do.) Right. Now each one says it first and everyone repeats it. The one that gets it wrong loses, all right? ALL All right. (They start a nursery game alternating solo and chorus, mimicking exaggeratedly what the words describe. The leader in turn stands up. The others respond and mimic in unison, sitting in a circle.) ANDREW This is the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. CHORUS This is the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. FALIN (Stands up while Andrew sits down.) This is the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. CHORUS This is the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. DOREEN (Stands up while Falin sits down.) This is the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. CHORUS This is the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. ANDREW This is the cutter cutting the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. CHORUS This is the cutter cutting the cap capping the cork corking the bottle of wine the innkeeper is keeping at home. LADY (Gradually carried away by the innocent fun of the game, stands up mimicking exaggeratedly a drunkard’s gestures.) And this is a drunkard nabbing the cutter, cutting


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the cap, uncapping the cork, uncorking the bottle, and swigging the bottle of wine the innkeeper was keeping at home. (Bursts into laughter.) CHILDREN (Surround her excitedly pushing her around.) Drunkard! Drunkard! Drunkard! (The Pilgrim Lady laughs harder and harder till she drops. The children do likewise.) LADY (Her laughter goes on a disturbing crescendo to a convulsive guffaw scaring stiff the little ones, who stare at and move away from her. Taken aback by her own outburst, eventually she controls herself.) What am I doing? What’s this, swelling my throat so, shattering crystal in my mouth so? DOREEN (Still scared.) Laughter. LADY Laughter? (Stands up with effort.) How odd. Quakes of joy dart inside me like squirrels in a hollow tree. It crackles round the waist. It weakens the knees. (The children go closer, again at ease.) ANDREW You never laughed before? LADY Never. (Tests her hands.) Funny, it warmed up my hands. What throbs in my wrists? What beats in here? DOREEN Your heart. LADY (Almost afraid.) It can’t be. It’d be wonderful—and terrible. (Staggers, fatigued.) What a delicious fatigue. I never imagined laughing was so powerful. ANDREW Grown ups get tired of it too soon. Do you want to sleep? LADY Later. I can’t now. When the clock chimes nine I have to be awake. Someone’s meeting me at the Rabion Pass. DOREEN We’ll wake you up. (Takes her to the big chair by the fire.) Come, sit down here. LADY


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No. I can’t waste a minute. (Puts her finger on her lips.) Quiet. Don’t you hear a horse galloping in the distance? (The children pay attention and look at each other.) FALIN I hear nothing. DOREEN Must be your heart again. LADY I wish it was. How heavy my lids are. I can’t take it. (Sits down, exhausted.) ANDREW Angelica knew words to put us to sleep. Do you want me to say them to you? LADY Say them. But don’t forget. At nine. ANDREW Close your eyes and repeat without thinking. (Recites slowly.) Way up there, way up high LADY (Repeats, each time weaker.) Way up there, way up high ANDREW There’s a mountain all in white LADY There’s a mountain all in white DOREEN On the mountain there’s a tree LADY On the mountain there’s a tree FALIN On the tree there is a branch LADY On the tree there is a branch ANDREW And on the branch, four nests, Two of silver, two of gold


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LADY (Barely audible by now.) And on the… branch… four… nests ANDREW She fell asleep. DOREEN Poor lady. After all her walking she must be exhausted. ENTER GRANDFATHER (On time to watch the last part of the scene from the threshold. He is carrying the logs and dry branches.) ENTER TELVA TELVA Game over? To bed now. DOREEN (Bidding her silence.) We can’t go now. We have to wake her up at the stroke of nine. GRANDFATHER I’ll do it. Take them with you, Telva. TELVA The problem will be making them sleep now, after all the excitement. Get going (Goes upstairs with them.) DOREEN She’s so pretty. And so nice. Why don’t you ask her to stay? ANDREW She must not have a place to live. Her eyes look so sad. TELVA She better go back same way she came, and quick. I don’t like women doing mystery things walking the roads alone at night. (Exits with the children.) GRANDFATHER (Rekindles the fire, lowers the wick in the lamp so that the scene is now lighted by the fire. He stares at the sleeping lady, trying to remember.) Where have I seen her before? And when? (Sits down and rolls a cigarette. The clock starts chiming nine. The Pilgrim Lady, as in automatic response to a call, makes a weak effort to straighten up. A distant lightning flash dazzles. The Pilgrim Lady’s hands go limp again. She remains asleep. Offstage the dog whines. At the last chime of the clock falls the


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CURTAIN) ACT II Same place, later. The Pilgrim Lady is still asleep. Pause during which the clock’s tick-tock is heard. Grandfather goes closer, stares at her again, struggling to remember. The lady remains still. Telva appears at the top of the stairs. Grandfather steps away and with his lighting steel lights the cigar that has gone out in his mouth. TELVA (Coming downstairs.) It wasn’t easy, but they are sleeping at last. (Grandfather bids her to silence. She lowers her voice.) Damn brats. How quick their heads get full of fancies. That she’s Our Lady Of The Roads. That she’s a queen in disguise. That she wears a gold dress under her wrap. GRANDFATHER (Pensively.) Who knows. Sometimes a child sees further than we grown ups do. I also feel something mysterious entered here with her. TELVA At your age? In old heads flights of fancy go ahead. What next. GRANDFATHER When you opened the door for her, didn’t you feel something in the air? TELVA The bite of the frost. GRANDFATHER And nothing else? TELVA Count me out for tales, sir. I keep my soul in my soul case and my eyes well planted in my face. Never got drunk on tales. GRANDFATHER But her quiet smile, her colorless eyes—like two glass beads—her strange way of talking — TELVA Tricks to cover up what she wants to. (Turns the wick up in the lamp, so the scene is lighted up anew.) I couldn’t stand her the moment she stepped in. I like people with a plucky stride and straight talk. (Looks at him.) Something wrong, sir? You quivered like a baby.


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GRANDFATHER I don’t know. My thoughts frighten me. TELVA Then, stop thinking. Half our troubles come from our head. (Takes her knitting again and sits down.) When a thought bothers me, I pick up my knitting or start singing— miracle cure. GRANDFATHER (Sits down nervously by her.) Help me remember, Telva. When did the woman say she was here before? TELVA The day of The Snow Blitz, when drifts covered the windows all up and all the roads. GRANDFATHER That day the shepherd got lost crossing the ravine, remember? Next morning they found him dead among the sheep. His shirt was frozen hard as an icicle. TELVA (Without interrupting her knitting.) Poor man. He looked like a big Saint Christopher, with his staff and his oakum beard. But when he played his pipes, birds perched on his shoulders. GRANDFATHER And the other time, wasn’t it at milady’s wedding? TELVA That’s what she said. But she wasn’t at the wedding. She just saw it from a distance. GRANDFATHER From the woods. The blacksmith promised to hunt a deer for the newlyweds. When he bent down to drink from the creek his gun went off and he bled to death in the stream. TELVA So it was. And the boys found out when the fountain water began turning red. (Suddenly uneasy, stops her knitting and stares at him.) What are you getting at with all this? GRANDFATHER (Stands up, his voice stifling.) And when the siren sounded the emergency and women were wailing and screaming in their homes? Remember? The day the gas exploded in the mine. Your seven sons, Telva! TELVA (Stands up also, apprehensive.) What are you thinking, for God’s sake?


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GRANDFATHER The truth. Finally! (Worried.) Where are the children? TELVA Sleeping like three angels. GRANDFATHER Go up with them. (Pushes her toward the stairs.) Lock doors and windows. Keep them warm—with your body if you have to. No matter who knocks, let no one in. TELVA Angels of my heart! Oh, Lord, deliver them from evil. (Exits.) GRANDFATHER (Goes decidedly to the lady.) Now I know where I saw you. (Shakes her by the arms forcefully.) Wake up, bad dream. Wake up! LADY (Opening her eyes slowly.) I’m coming. Who is it? GRANDFATHER Look me in the eye and dare say you never saw me before. Remember when the gas exploded in the mine? I was in it too. With fallen rubble on my chest and choking smoke in my throat. You thought my time had come and got too close. When fresh air rushed in at last, I had seen your pale face and felt your icy touch. LADY (Serenely.) I knew this was coming. Those who see me up close once, never forget me. GRANDFATHER What are you waiting for, then? Do you want me to shout your name all over town and have hounds and rocks thrown at you? LADY You wouldn’t do that. It’d be useless. GRANDFATHER You thought you could fool me, uh? I’m too old for that. And I’ve thought a lot about you. LADY Don’t flatter yourself, Grandfather. Your dog doesn’t think and he recognized me before you did. (A single clock chime is heard. The Pilgrim Lady looks at the clock, startled.) What time is it? GRANDFATHER


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Nine thirty. LADY (Desperately.) Why didn’t they wake me up on time? Who enmeshed me in this alluring net I never felt before? (Defeated.) I was dreading this and couldn’t prevent it. It is too late now. GRANDFATHER Blessed be the sleep that blindfolded and cuffed you so. LADY It’s your grandchildren’s fault. I caught their life for a moment. They even made me dream of having a throbbing heart. Only children could have worked the miracle. GRANDFATHER And how badly were you going to repay their hearty welcome. To think they were playing with you. LADY Bah. Children play with Death so many times, unawares. GRANDFATHER Whom did you come for? (Blocks her access to the stairs.) If it is them, it’ll be over my dead body. LADY Who is thinking of your grandchildren, so frail yet? It was a torrent of life that was due me tonight. I saddled his horse and put the spur on him myself. GRANDFATHER Martin? LADY The smartest horseman in the sierra—by the old chestnut tree. GRANDFATHER (Triumphantly.) The old chestnut tree is a mile and a half from here. He’s passed it by now. LADY No one passes me by. You should know that. My dates just get postponed. GRANDFATHER Go away! What are you still here for? LADY


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Nothing, now. I only wish you to bid me goodbye without resentment, with a good word. GRANDFATHER I have nothing to say to you. As hard as life may get, it is still the best thing I know. LADY So you imagine me separate from life? Does one exist without the other? GRANDFATHER Leave my house. I beg you. LADY I’m leaving. But first, listen to me. I am a good friend of the poor and of those with a clear conscience. Why can’t we talk frankly? GRANDFATHER I don’t trust you. If you were so frank you wouldn’t come in disguise to our homes and trespass into rooms of grief at the break of dawn. LADY Who says I have to come in? I’m always in, watching you grow up day by day from behind your mirrors. GRANDFATHER You can’t deny your nature. You are deceitful and cruel. LADY When you people shove me angrily against each other, I am. But when you allow me my own pace, how tenderly I untie the last knot. And how peaceful their smiles are at the break of dawn. GRANDFATHER Stop it. Your voice is sweet. Listening to you is dangerous. LADY I don’t understand you people. All the time I hear you complaining about life. Why are you so afraid to depart from it then? GRANDFATHER It’s not for what we leave behind. We don’t know what is ahead. LADY Same thing happens when you journey the other way. That’s why babies cry at birth. GRANDFATHER (Worried again.) There you go again. You think too much of children.


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LADY I was given this feminine figure for something. If I hurt children at times it isn’t because I mean to. It’s rather a love that never learned to express itself—and maybe it never will. (Lowers her voice to a confidential tone.) Do you know Ole Man Nalon, Grandfather? GRANDFATHER The blind man singing old ballads at fairs? LADY That’s the one. As a child he had the most beautiful eyes on earth—a blue temptation luring me through the distance. One day I couldn’t resist and kissed his eyes. GRANDFATHER Now he plays guitar for alms on holidays, with a tin plate and a seeing guide. LADY I still love him as before. Some day I’ll repay him with two stars for the harm my love caused him. GRANDFATHER Enough. Don’t try to trap me in your words. No matter how good you wish to appear, I know you are the bad weed in the crop and the parasite in the tree. Leave my house. I’ll have no peace until I see you gone. LADY You disappoint me. It’s fine for weaklings to see me as hateful. But your people learned to look me in the eye. Your poets extolled me as a bride, your mystics as redemption. The greatest of your sages called me Freedom. I heard him tell his disciples so as he bled to death in his bath: "Do you know where your true freedom is? The veins in your body can lead you to it." GRANDFATHER I didn’t read books. Of you I know just what the dog and the horse know too. LADY (Emotional.) If you don’t know me well, why do you condemn me then? Why don’t you try to understand me? (Dreamily.) I, too, would like to adorn myself with roses like your country girls do, live among happy children, have a handsome man to love. But when I pick the roses, the garden freezes on me. When children play with me I have to look the other way or they’d go cold if we touch. And what use is it for the finest men to flirt with me on their horses if at my kiss their wasted limbs slip lifeless down my waist? (Desperately.) Do you understand how bitter my destiny is? To witness all sorrows, yet unable to weep. To have womanly feelings, yet unable to indulge them. Doomed to kill forever and ever, and unable to rest in peace. (Drops on a seat, overwhelmed, holding her forehead.)


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GRANDFATHER (Looks at her, moved. Goes to her and puts his hand on her shoulder sympathetically.) Poor woman. LADY Thanks, Grandfather. I asked you for some understanding and you called me woman, the most beautiful word when a man says it. I have nothing else to do in your house tonight and I am expected elsewhere. (Takes the staff she left against the fireplace.) Farewell. (Goes to the door. Martin’s voice is heard offstage, shouting.) MARTIN’S VOICE Telva! Telva! GRANDFATHER Martin! Go out the other door. I don’t want him to find you here. LADY (Puts her staff away again.) And why not? His hour has passed. Don’t be afraid. Open. (Martin’s voice is heard again.) MARTIN’S VOICE (Martin also bangs the door with his foot.) Telva, hurry! ENTER THE MOTHER MOTHER (At the top of the stairs, with a large candle.) Who’s yelling at the door? GRANDFATHER (Going to open.) It’s Martin. MOTHER (Coming downstairs.) So soon? He hasn’t had time to go there and back. (Grandfather opens. Martin carries in his arms a young woman with wet dress and hair.) ENTER MARTIN CARRYING ADELA MOTHER (Shudders as if witnessing a miracle. Stifles a cry and runs to them.) Angelica, daughter! GRANDFATHER (Stopping her.) What are you saying? Are you mad? (Martin places the girl on the seat by the fire.)


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MOTHER (Looks at the girl up close with disappointment.) But then, who is she? MARTIN I don’t know. I saw her fall in the river. I got to her just in time. She fainted, that’s all. (The Pilgrim Lady looks at the girl, puzzled.) MOTHER (Puts her candle on the table, sobbing softly.) It isn’t her. Oh, Lord, why did you make me expect a miracle? GRANDFATHER She’s breathing normally. The heat will help her recover. MARTIN We have to revive her. (To the Pilgrim Lady.) What can we do? LADY (With an impassive smile.) I wouldn’t know. I am not used to this. (She remains immobile in the back, by the scythe.) GRANDFATHER Some vinegar rubs will help her. (Takes a bottle from the mantle.) MOTHER Let me. I’ll do it. I wish I could have done it then. (Kneels by Adela and rubs her forehead and wrists.) GRANDFATHER (To Martin.) What about you? Did anything happen to you? MARTIN Crossing the Rabion Pass a flash startled my horse. We rolled down the ravine, but nothing happened. LADY (Takes a handkerchief out of her bosom and goes to him.) Allow me. MARTIN What is it? LADY A red spot on your forehead. (Cleans it caringly.) There. MARTIN (Looks at her, mesmerized.) Thank you.


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MOTHER She’s coming round. (All go around Adela, except the Pilgrim Lady who watches the scene at some distance, with her perennial smile. Slowly Adela opens her eyes.) GRANDFATHER Don’t be afraid. The danger is over. ADELA (Looks around, confused.) Why am I here? MARTIN I was passing by the river and saw you fall in. ADELA (With sorrowful reproach.) Why did you? I didn’t fall in. It was on purpose. GRANDFATHER At your age? You haven’t had time to experience life yet. ADELA I gathered all my strength to dare. And all in vain! MOTHER Don’t talk. Breathe deep. There. Feel better now? ADELA The air feels heavy as lead in my chest. But in the river it was smooth and easy. LADY (Absently.) They all say the same. It’s like blindfolding their soul with water. MARTIN Courage. Tomorrow it will all be over, like a bad dream. ADELA But I’ll be going alone again. As always. No one to love. Nothing to expect. GRANDFATHER Don’t you have a family? A home? ADELA I never had anything of my own. They say those who drown recall their whole life in a moment. I couldn’t recall a thing. MARTIN

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Of all your days, you never had a happy day? ADELA Once. Long ago. A vacation day at a friend’s house in the country. Sunshine and herds up the mountains. At sunset we sat around the table. They talked about beautiful things. Relaxing things. In the night, the sheets smelled of apples. The window openings filled up with stars. That Sunday was a very short day. (Smiles sorrowfully.) Shame. Of a whole life all that is remembered is one vacation day—with someone else’s family. (Closes her eyes again.) Now, start all over again. GRANDFATHER She lost consciousness again. (Looks anxiously at the Pilgrim Lady.) Her hands are ice cold. I can’t feel her pulse. LADY (Calmly, without looking.) Relax, Grandfather. She just slumbers. MARTIN We can’t leave her like this. We have to take her to bed right away. MOTHER Where? MARTIN There’s only one vacant room in the house. MOTHER (Rebelling at the idea.) Not in Angelica’s room! GRANDFATHER We have to. You can’t shut that door on her. MOTHER No! Ask me to give her my bread and my clothes, anything I have. But not my daughter’s place! GRANDFATHER Think about it. She comes from the same banks, with water from the same river on her hair. And Martin carried her in, in his arms. It’s like God’s command. MOTHER (Bows her head, yielding.) God’s command. (Slowly goes to the table and picks up the candle.) Bring her up. (She leads, lighting the way. Martin follows her, carrying Adela in his arms.) Telva, open the chest and warm up the linen. (Pilgrim Lady and Grandfather watch them till they disappear.)


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GRANDFATHER You are very pensive. LADY More so than you think. GRANDFATHER Tough night for you, huh? You fell asleep on the job. A man in the ravine and a woman in the river escaped you. LADY A man did. I wasn’t expecting her. GRANDFATHER You had her quite close. What would have happened if Martin hadn’t got there in time? LADY Someone else would have rescued her. Or perhaps she herself. This girl isn’t for me—so soon. GRANDFATHER What do you mean “so soon”? LADY (Pensively.) I don’t get this. Someone did rush things way ahead of time. But what is in my book is inevitable. (Goes for her staff.) I’ll come back on my next date. GRANDFATHER Wait. Explain what you just said. LADY It’d be difficult, since I don’t understand it either. I’m facing a mystery beyond my grasp. What pushed this girl before her time? GRANDFATHER Wasn’t it written so in your book? LADY All is as written. Deep river, drowned girl, this place. But not tonight. Seven moons are yet to come. GRANDFATHER Forget all about her. Can’t you let off, for once? LADY I can’t. I don’t make the rules. I follow them.


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GRANDFATHER She is so beautiful. And life gave her so little. Why does she have to die in the prime of youth? LADY Do you think I know? This happens many a time to Life and to me: We don’t know what way, but we always arrive where we are supposed to. (Opens the door and looks at him.) Your hands are trembling again, Grandfather. GRANDFATHER For her. She is alone in the world. She could do so much good in this house, filling the emptiness left by the other. But I’ll receive you in peace. I am seventy. LADY (With gentle irony.) Those seventy you say you are, Grandfather, you were. Now your life is much shorter than that. (Starts to leave.) GRANDFATHER Wait. Let me ask you a last question. LADY Ask. GRANDFATHER When are you scheduled back? LADY Look at the moon. It’s perfectly round. When it gets as round seven more times, I’ll come back to this house. A young woman crowned with flowers will be my return companion down the river. But don’t resent me. If I wouldn’t come then, you’d be calling me yourself, I assure you. That day you’ll bless my name. Don’t you believe me? GRANDFATHER I don’t know. LADY Soon you’ll be convinced. Trust me. Now that you know me better, bid me farewell with no hate or dread. We’ve known each other long enough to be good mates. (Offers him her hand.) Farewell, friend. GRANDFATHER Farewell… friend. (The Pilgrim Lady walks away. Grandfather, absorbed in thought, watches her go while warming up against his chest the hand she shook.)


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CURTAIN ACT III Same place, months later. Late-afternoon light. The winter background of the previous acts has changed now to full-summer greenery. Onstage there is a sewing basket and a large embroidery frame with colorful embroidery, unfinished. Andrew and Doreen prepare a skein. Falin messes around to his heart content. Kicko, the mills’ hand, is onstage like one waiting for orders. Enter Adela from the kitchen. Kicko takes his cap off and looks at her moonstruck. KICKO They told me you want to talk to me. ADELA The usual. The fodder is rotting damp in the shed. Mice are getting in the rye stock. The stable needs fluffing. For heaven’s sake, Kicko, what are you thinking? KICKO Me? Thinking? ADELA Why don’t you get going then? KICKO I don’t know. I like listening to you talk. ADELA Do you need background music to work? KICKO When there’s singing in the cart the oxen get less tired. ADELA Better than a song is a goad. Get going. What are you waiting for? (Seeing he doesn’t move.) Suddenly you’re deaf? KICKO (Fingering his cap around.) I don’t know what’s the matter with me. When the mistress talks to me I hear her fine. When Telva talks to me, too. But you have a way of looking that when you talk I don’t hear what you are saying. ADELA Then, close your eyes and get going. The sun is setting. KICKO


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I’m going, Ma’am. I’m going. (Exits reluctantly, turning back even at the exit to the stockyard. Falin makes a din spilling a tin box full of buttons.) ADELA What are you doing, Barabbas? FALIN I’m helping. ADELA I see. Pick them all up. And while you are at it, practice counting. Count them all one by one. (Sits at the frame to embroider.) DOREEN When you embroider, can you talk and think of something else? ADELA Sure. Why? DOREEN Angelica did too. She told us magic stories that always happen on Saint John’s eve. ANDREW Do you know any? ADELA Many. Old rhymes one learns in childhood and never forgets. Which one do you like? DOREEN There’s one very pretty about the count taking his horse to drink by the seashore. ADELA (Stops her work, raises her head up and recites with absent eyes.) Early did rise Count Olinos On the day of Saint John’s feast To bring his horse to the freshet By the shore of the sea. While his thirsty horse is drinking He sings a most haunting song. All the birds through the sky flying, Their flying stop, and listen. All the walkers who went walking, Their walking stop, and listen. All the sailors who went sailing, Their sailing stop, and listen.

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ANDREW Why did the walkers and the birds stop? ADELA It was a haunting song. Like the mermaids’ song. ANDREW To whom was he singing it? ADELA To Princess-White, the queen’s daughter. FALIN Did they get married? ADELA No. The queen was very jealous. She had them killed. But from her grave a white rosebush grew, and from his, a white hawthorn. And their branches grew till they joined. DOREEN Then the queen cut off the branches, right? ADELA She did. But neither then she could separate them. From her bush rose up a heron, And a falcon rose from his. Through the skies they fly together, As a couple, flying their bliss. ANDREW Those things happened a long time ago. There are no miracles now. ADELA But this one. This is the one that keeps repeating. Because when love is true, not even death can overpower it. DOREEN Angelica knew those, but she sang them. Do you know the music? ADELA I do too. (Sings.) Early did rise Count Olinos On the day of Saint John’s feast To bring his horse to the freshet By the shore of the sea.


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CHILDREN (Joining at the refrain.) By the shore of the sea. ENTER GRANDFATHER (Coming downstairs, stops and watches them.) ADELA (Noticing Grandfather on the stairs.) Do you want something, Grandfather? GRANDFATHER Nothing. I was looking at you with the children, singing those ancient things, and it seemed like out of a dream. (Goes to her. Looks at her.) What dress is this? ADELA Mother wants me to wear it tonight at the fair. Don’t you remember it? GRANDFATHER Could I forget it? Angelica wove it herself and embroidered the seed pearls on the velvet. She wore it for the first time on Saint John’s eve, as today. (Looks at her work.) What are you doing? ADELA I found it in the bottom of the chest, already started. GRANDFATHER Does Mother know you are doing this? ADELA She asked me to finish it. Do you like it? The silk faded a bit after four years. (Looks at him.) Why are you looking at me like that? GRANDFATHER Every day you are changing more, looking more like Angelica. ADELA Must be the way I combed my hair. Mother likes it this way. GRANDFATHER I’d prefer you being yourself always rather than trying to look like someone else. ADELA I wish I were like the one who started this embroidery. GRANDFATHER


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You are who you are and that’s best. Wearing her dress and combing your hair like her you look so much like her, it’s scary. ADELA Scary? Why? GRANDFATHER I don’t know. If someone takes your treasure and you find another, you wouldn’t put it in the same place again. ADELA I don’t follow you, Grandfather. GRANDFATHER Don’t mind me. (Exits by the wide open door at the back and checks the road.) ADELA What’s the matter with Grandfather? DOREEN He’s been checking the road all afternoon. ANDREW If he’s waiting for the bagpiper, it’s still early. The fair doesn’t start till dark. FALIN Are we going to see the bonfire? ADELA And dance, and leap over the flames. ANDREW Really? Before, we couldn’t go. It burned me up to hear the music from here behind closed windows. ADELA No more of that. Tonight we are going all together. FALIN Me too? ADELA (Picks him up in her arms.) You first, like the little man of the house you are. (Smacks him loudly and puts him back on the floor, giving him a pat.) There. Go look for wood for the bonfire. What are you doing in here? The outdoors is meant for running.


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CHILDREN Let’s run. Run! FALIN (Stops short at the door.) Can I throw rocks at the trees? ADELA Why not? FALIN I threw one at the Pastor’s fig tree yesterday and they bawled me out. ADELA Maybe the figs weren’t ripe. FALIN No. The Pastor was under the tree. (They exit laughing. Adela laughs too.) ENTER TELVA TELVA Thank Heavens we hear laughter in the house again. ADELA (Returning to her needlework.) They are wonderful children. TELVA Now yes, since they began going to school and running to their heart’s content. They are ruddier by day and sleepier at night. But going too easy on them isn’t good either. (Starts putting things in order on the kitchen shelves.) ADELA They don’t give cause for harder ways. TELVA Anyway, kisses and games are fine, but a smack on time is as healthy. Honey with lemon tastes sour but it’s good for you. ADELA The sour they get all by themselves. Yesterday Andrew had a fight and came home black and blue all over. TELVA Let them, as long as they do it with others their age. They get strong that way. They who don’t fight as children fight later as grown ups, which is worse. It’s like tadpoles shaking the tail off, keeping at it till it’s off. Do you know what I mean?


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ADELA I have much to learn yet. TELVA Not so much. What you did here in months I couldn’t do it in years. No small feat. A household living in the dark and a gust of wind suddenly opens the windows. You were that. ADELA No matter how much I do, it won’t be enough to repay all I owe them. TELVA (Finished with the shelves, sits by Adela and helps wind a skein.) Could you do any more? Since we lost Angelica, grief went through this house like a knife through a bread loaf. The children quiet in a corner. The spinning wheel all dusty. The mistress fingering rosary beads with absent eyes. The whole house was like a stopped clock. Now it’s ticking again. And with a bird singing the new hours. ADELA They’ve been to me more yet. I had nothing. Not even hope. And when I wanted to die Heavens gave me all at once mother, grandfather, sisters and brothers. A whole life begun by someone was given me to continue. (With darker voice, stopping her work.) Sometimes I think it’s too good to be true and I’ll wake up back in the river, again with nothing. TELVA (Blesses herself quickly.) Stop that, silly girl. What ideas for a holiday. (Gives her the skein.) Why did you get so sad so sudden? ADELA Not sad. I just thought something’s always missing to be completely happy. TELVA Ah. (Looks at her. Confidential tone.) And that something has dark eyes and wears spurs? ADELA Martin. TELVA I knew it. ADELA Everyone else appreciates me. Why is it precisely he, who brought me into the house, the one to see me as an outsider? He never says a good word to me.


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TELVA That’s the way he is. A man’s man is like well-kneaded bread—the crustier the crust, the softer inside. ADELA If we are left alone he always finds an excuse and leaves. Or says nothing. Doesn’t even look at me. TELVA That too? That’s bad. When men eye us a lot, maybe nothing will happen. But when they don’t dare look, everything may happen. ADELA What do you mean? TELVA What you are so intent on hushing. Look, Adela, if you want us to connect, don’t ever come to me beating round the bush. What’s hard to say must be tackled without fear— like handling hot coals. What do you feel for Martin? ADELA I feel eager to repay him somehow what he did for me. I’d like him to need me sometime to light his fire when he is cold, or to share his quiet time when he is down, like brother and sister. TELVA And nothing else? ADELA What else could I expect? TELVA Hasn’t it occurred to you that he is too young to live single? That at his age a sister isn’t needed and a woman wanted? ADELA Telva! (Stands up, startled.) How can you think that? TELVA That’s no nonsense, I’d say. ADELA It’d be something worse—treachery. I’ve been filling in for Angelica all her places one by one without hurting her memory. But there’s a last place, the most sacred, that remains her own. No one should take it. (Daylight begins to wane.)


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ENTER MARTIN MARTIN (Comes from outdoors. Seeing them together, hesitates for a moment. Then, goes to Telva.) Do you have some bandage? TELVA What for? MARTIN I sprained my wrist yesterday. It needs to be held in place. TELVA That’s for you, Adela. ADELA (Tears off a strip of material and goes to him.) Why didn’t you tell us yesterday? MARTIN I didn’t notice. It must have been when unloading the carriage. TELVA Yesterday? Funny. I don’t remember the carriage going out the whole day. MARTIN (Harshly.) Then, when I pruned the nut tree or put the oxen to yoke. Do I have to remember exactly when? TELVA Up to you. It’s your wrist. ADELA (Bandaging with care.) Does it hurt? MARTIN Tighten up. More. (Looks at her while she finishes bandaging.) Why are you wearing this dress? ADELA It wasn’t my idea. But if you don’t like it— MARTIN You don’t need to wear anyone else’s dress. Get as many as you want. Isn’t this your home? (Begins going upstairs. Stops a moment and mellows his voice, hardly looking at her.) Thank you. (Exits.)


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TELVA Better than nothing. What next, bite the hand that heals you? Pity, no hazel rod handy. ADELA (Puts away her needlework, pensively.) When he looks at the wheat fields he isn’t like that. When he fondles his horse, he isn’t like that. Just when it’s me. ENTER THE MOTHER (From outdoors) ADELA I was getting ready to get you. Quite a long walk, uh? MOTHER Up to the vineyards. It’s such a beautiful day. The whole countryside smells of summer. TELVA Did you go to town? MOTHER I did. How different it is now! The blacksmith’s grapevine covers the whole porch. There are new trees in the churchyard. The boys grew up so fast! Some didn’t even know me. TELVA But of course. Did you think the town went to sleep all this time? MOTHER The houses look whiter too. On the mill road wild roses grow. ADELA Did you go to the mill too? MOTHER I did. By the way, I thought it was better cared for. Where’s Kicko? TELVA (Calling out loud.) Kicko! KICKO’S VOICE Coming! MOTHER Let me see you up close, girl. Are my eyes failing or is it too dark?


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ADELA It’s getting dark. (Telva lights the kerosene lamp.) MOTHER Let your hair down a bit more. There. (Does it herself, fondling Adela’s hair and dress.) Let’s see now. (Looks at Adela, squinting.) Yes. She looked like that. Her eyes a bit lighter, but same look. (Kisses Adela’s eyes.) ENTER KICKO KICKO (Carries a festive wreath he is decorating with ribbons.) Ma’am. MOTHER The mill’s dam leaks like a basket. The roof and the wheel are caked with mildew. In the quarry by the orchard you’ll find good tiles. (The young man looks at Adela, moonstruck.) Are you listening? KICKO Uh? Yes, Ma’am. MOTHER For the wheel blades there’s no wood like ashwood. And tomorrow better than the day after. Do you hear me or not? KICKO Uh? Yes, Ma’am. I’ll do as you said. MOTHER Now I’ll get dressed for the fair too. The velvet wrap, my silver earring and pendant set, as in the good old times. TELVA Are you going down to the dance? MOTHER I haven’t seen the bonfire in four years. Don’t you approve? TELVA On the contrary, my blood’s getting bubbly too. If my legs don’t quit on me, those youngsters are going to see how the Perlindango is danced. ADELA (Walks Mother upstairs.) Are you tired? Take my arm. MOTHER


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(On the stairs with her.) Thank you, my child. TELVA The vineyards, the mill, even the night dance at the bonfire. Who saw her then and sees her now! (Changes her tone looking at Kicko, who is still gazing after Adela.) Careful with those eyeballs, lad—or they’ll pop out and roll upstairs. KICKO What’s wrong with looking? TELVA Besides wasting your time, nothing. Did you have your afternoon meal? KICKO And a hearty one. But there’s always room for a pint if you have some. (Telva serves him wine. He goes on decorating his wreath.) Do you like my wreath? Oak, holly and laurel. TELVA Not bad. Just one? The Mayor’s daughters are three. KICKO There you go again. TELVA Of course, the other two can wait. Every feast has its octave. And this one has two: The night of Saint Peter I placed your wreath. At Saint John’s I couldn’t, For I was sick. KICKO It’s not for them. That’s over. TELVA You have a new girl? KICKO I don’t have to. Placing a wreath doesn’t mean courting. TELVA You are not thinking of hanging it on Adela’s window! KICKO Many would like to do just that, but no one dares.


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TELVA No one dares? Why? KICKO Because of Martin. TELVA What does Martin have to do with it? Is he her husband or sweetheart? KICKO I know he isn’t. But people don’t understand some things. TELVA For instance? KICKO For instance, a young man and a young woman, not family, living under the same roof. TELVA I thought I’d heard it all. And it’s you, who know them and eat his bread, who dare think so? (Wielding the jug.) Repeat that—if you are man enough. KICKO Hey, take it easy. I don’t think anything. You were dragging things out of me. I’m saying what they are saying around. TELVA Where around? KICKO Around. The inn. The tavern. TELVA The tavern. Fine parish for a Mass. And fine roof the tavern’s to be throwing rocks at the neighbor’s. (Sits by him and serves him another glass.) Go on. Tell me. What’s that holy preacher saying from her pulpit? KICKO Things. This and that. Everybody knows a woman’s tongue is her switchblade. TELVA That’s all? Simon said, period, huh? In that weak broth there must be some beef. Tell me! KICKO


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That Adela didn’t have a place to drop dead when she came and now she’s the acting lady of the house. That she’s taking up all that was Angelica’s. That if she took Angelica’s place at the table why wouldn’t she take her place in bed too. Last night she was laughing at that one with the head shepherd when Martin came in. TELVA Oh, my God! Martin heard that? KICKO No one could prevent it. He came in unexpectedly. Went pale as wax. Knocked the shepherd down on the table and was making him say Adela’s name on his knees. The others got in it too. And they had some strong words over it. TELVA Mighty strong words had to be, because we had to bandage his wrist. Then, what? KICKO Then nothing. Each one left as they could. Martin stayed drinking alone. And good night. TELVA (Grabs jug and glass.) And good night to you too, lad. Learn your lesson, just in case. And tell that barmaid for me to leave in peace the good name of others and watch her own—if she can manage. That as far as men go, with half the men in her past many honest women would have a future. Get out of here, blackguard! (Shouting from the back door.) And tell her too to add a little more wine to that colored water she pours— the cheat! (Kicko exits. She remains grumbling.) But of course. Where else would the stone be thrown from? The evil eye sees everything bedeviled. How could she stand a happy home without meddling to damn things up. (Heading upstairs.) Poison ivy Bloody Mary damn desert lizard. (Grandfather returns.) ENTER GRANDFATHER GRANDFATHER What are you grumbling about? TELVA (Ill humored.) Do you really want to know? And what’s got into you, with all that coming and going checking the road? Are you expecting someone? GRANDFATHER No. No one. Where is Adela? TELVA I’ll tell her to come down. Cheer her up a bit. A fog is clouding her head lately. (Goes on with her string of names till she disappears.) Old screech-owl hag wicked broomstick


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witch drop dead amen! (Pause. Grandfather, uneasy, goes again to the door and checks the road. Looks up at the sky.) ENTER ADELA ADELA Did you send for me, Grandfather? GRANDFATHER I just want to see you. Be sure you are all right. ADELA What could have happened to me? We saw each other a moment ago. GRANDFATHER Telva was telling me some sad thoughts—I don’t know—were crossing your mind. ADELA Bah. Silly things. Petty things one makes bigger because sometimes it feels good to have a good cry. GRANDFATHER Do you have a complaint? ADELA Me? I’d be tempting providence. I have more than I could ever dream of. Mother is dressing up to take me to the dance. And we are having the most beautiful night of the year. (From the door in the back.) Look, Grandfather. The whole sky twinkles with stars. And the moon is perfectly round. GRANDFATHER (Shudders at her words. Repeats in low voice, obsessively.) Perfectly round. (Goes by her and checks the sky too.) For the seventh time since you came. ADELA That many already? How short the days feel here. GRANDFATHER (Holds her by the arms, looking her in the eye.) For heaven’s sake, tell me the truth. Are you happy really? ADELA As happy as can be. GRANDFATHER You are not holding back anything from me?


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ADELA Why would I? GRANDFATHER There must be something. Perhaps you don’t realize it yet but it’s gathering up inside you—clouds of sorrow that will suddenly burst but would be so easy to break when we have a good friend to confide in on time. ADELA (Getting worried.) I don’t know what you mean, Grandfather. I think I’m not the one holding back something. What’s worrying you? GRANDFATHER Maybe I’m imagining things. If at least I could believe that day I was dreaming. But no. It was the night you came here seven moons ago. And you are here in the flesh. ADELA What dreaming are you talking about? GRANDFATHER Don’t mind me. Just babbling. A great danger is lurking around. I feel it. It’ll pounce on us suddenly and catch us unprepared, not even knowing where it sprang from. Have you ever been alone in the woods when a storm strikes? ADELA Never. GRANDFATHER It’s agony at its worst. You know lightning is up above you like a whip about to lash down on you. Stay put, and it gets you. Run away, and you are signaling where to get you. You can do nothing but hold your breath waiting for the unseen. Fear crawls under your skin, cold and quivery like a horse’s muzzle. ADELA (Looks at him, scared. Calls out loud.) Mother! GRANDFATHER Be quiet. Don’t be scared, child. Why are you calling her? ADELA For your sake. All that you are saying is so strange. GRANDFATHER Relax. It’s over. Say again you are having no dark thoughts, that you are really happy— so I may relax too.


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ADELA I swear. Don’t you believe me? I’m so happy I wouldn’t exchange a minute in this house for all the years I lived before. GRANDFATHER Thank you, Adela. Do me a favor. Don’t you separate from me tonight at the dance. If you hear an unfamiliar voice calling you, hold onto my hand tight. Don’t move from my side. Promise? ADELA Promise. GRANDFATHER (Grasps her hand. Listens attentively.) Did you hear? ADELA Nothing. GRANDFATHER Someone’s coming from the threshing field. ADELA Maybe fairgoers. They are hanging their love wreaths on windows. GRANDFATHER I hope so. (Exits to the stockyard. Adela watches him go, worried. Then, slowly, goes to the door on the back. Stops short, surprised.) ENTER THE PILGRIM LADY LADY (From the entrance door.) Good evening, young lady. ADELA God be with you, Ma’am. Are you looking for someone in the house? LADY (Stepping in.) Grandfather must be expecting me. We are old acquaintances. I’m supposed to be here tonight. Don’t you remember me? ADELA Hardly, Ma’am. LADY


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We saw each other just for a moment. By the fire. When Martin brought you in from the river. Why are you closing your eyes so? ADELA I don’t want to remember that awful moment. My life began the morning after. LADY That night you weren’t talking like that. On the contrary. You said in the water it was more beautiful and easier. ADELA I didn’t mean that. I was desperate then. LADY I understand. Each moment has its truth. Today your eyes are different. You are wearing a festive dress. It’s only natural that your words be festive too. But be careful. Don’t change your words when you change your dress. (Puts her staff aside.) ENTER THE CHILDREN (Rush in and surround the pilgrim lady joyfully.) DOREEN It’s the walker with the white hands! FALIN We thought of you so much! Are you coming to the fair? ANDREW I’m going to leap over the bonfire like the grownups. Are you coming with us? LADY No. When children leap over fire I don’t want to be there. (To Adela) They are my best friends. They’ll be my company. ADELA Anything I can do for you, Ma’am? LADY Not at the moment. Are you going to the dance later? ADELA When they light the bonfires. At midnight. LADY They light the bonfires by the river, right?


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ADELA Right. By The Deep Hole. LADY (Stares at her.) Then I’ll see you—by The Deep Hole. (Adela lowers her eyes intimidated, and exits to the back.) FALIN What took you so long? ANDREW We thought you’d never come back. DOREEN Did you walk a lot? LADY A lot. On snowy mountains. On sandy deserts. In stormy seas. In hundreds of countries. On thousands of roads—all to the same end. DOREEN How nice, traveling so much. FALIN Do you ever take a break? LADY Never. Only once I fell asleep. Here. ANDREW But you can’t sleep tonight. It’s Saint John’s eve. DOREEN Do they light bonfires in other towns too? LADY In all of them. FALIN Why? LADY To honor the sun on the longest day and shortest night of the year. FALIN But the water isn’t like every day?

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LADY It seems it is, but it isn’t the same. ANDREW They say that bathing sheep at midnight saves them from wolves. DOREEN The girl picking the water flower at daybreak gets married within the year. FALIN Why is the water such a miracle tonight? LADY Because it’s the feast of The Baptist. On a day like today Christ was baptized. DOREEN I saw it in a book. Saint John had a deerskin round his waist and The Lord was up to his knees in the sea. ANDREW In the river. DOREEN Same difference. ANDREW It is not. The sea has one shore. The river has two. FALIN But that was long ago and faraway. It wasn’t in this river here. LADY It doesn’t matter. Tonight all the rivers of the world carry a drop of the Jordan River. That’s what makes the water such a miracle. (The children look at her fascinated. She caresses their hair.) ENTER GRANDFATHER GRANDFATHER (Stifles a cry at seeing her with the children.) Leave them alone. Don’t let me see your hands on their heads again. (Distant bagpipe and tambourine music is heard. The children get up, excited.) ANDREW Listen! The bagpipes, Grandpa!


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DOREEN AND FALIN The music! The music’s coming! (They exit running to the back.) GRANDFATHER So, you came back. LADY Weren’t you expecting me? GRANDFATHER I was hoping you’d forget about us. LADY I never break a promise, no matter how painful it may be for me. GRANDFATHER I don’t believe your pain. If you felt it you wouldn’t have chosen the most beautiful night of the year to come. LADY I never choose. I follow orders. GRANDFATHER Liar. Why did you lie to me that day? You told me if you were not coming I’d be calling you myself. Did I call you? Did she call you? LADY The night has just begun. There’s still time. Many things can happen yet. GRANDFATHER Go, I beg you. You harmed this home enough already. LADY I can’t go back empty-handed. GRANDFATHER Then take me. Take my cattle. My crops. Whatever I have. But don’t empty my home again like when you took Angelica. LADY (Trying to remember.) Angelica. Who is this Angelica you all talk about? GRANDFATHER You are asking me that? You, who took her from us?


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LADY Me? GRANDFATHER Don’t you remember? Four years ago. In The Deep Hole. A December night. (Takes a locket out of his chest and shows it to her.) Look at her. She still had the wedding march in her ears and the taste of first love in her lips. What did you do with her? LADY (Looks at the picture.) Beautiful girl. Was she Martin’s wife? GRANDFATHER For three days she was. Why pretend now you don’t remember? Don’t you know? LADY I’m telling you I don’t know her. I’m not pretending, Grandfather. I never saw her before. (Returns the locket to him.) GRANDFATHER (Looks at her puzzled.) You never saw her? LADY Never. GRANDFATHER Then, where is she? (Grabs her arms, deeply emotional.) Tell me! LADY Did you look for her in the river? GRANDFATHER And the whole town with us. We found only the scarf she was wearing. LADY Did Martin look for her too? GRANDFATHER He didn’t. He locked himself up in his room, all tensed up. (Looks at her with a sudden worry.) Why do you ask? LADY I don’t know. There’s something in the dark here we both would like to find out. GRANDFATHER If you don’t know, who knows?


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LADY Whoever was closest to her. GRANDFATHER Who? LADY Perhaps Martin. GRANDFATHER Impossible. Why would he lie to us? LADY That’s the secret. (Whispers, quick.) Quiet, Grandfather. He’s coming down. Leave me now. GRANDFATHER What are you going to do? LADY (Commandingly.) Find out! Leave me. (Grandfather exits to the left. The Pilgrim Lady goes to the back door and calls aloud.) Adela! (Before Martin enters, she slips furtively to the foreground right exit.) ENTER MARTIN (From upstairs) ENTER ADELA ADELA Did you call me? MARTIN I didn’t. ADELA Strange. I thought I heard a call. MARTIN I was looking for you, though. I have something to say to you. ADELA It must be very important to make you look for me. You always avoid me. MARTIN I am a man of few words. What I have to say tonight needs only one. Goodbye.


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ADELA Goodbye? Are you going on a trip? MARTIN Tomorrow. With the herdsmen. To Castile. ADELA That far! Do the others know? MARTIN Not yet. I had to tell you first. ADELA You must know why. Will you be gone for long? MARTIN As long as it takes. It doesn’t depend on me. ADELA I don’t understand. Such a trip is not taken up like this. Suddenly. Secretly. Like an escape. What do you have to do in Castile? MARTIN What does it matter. I’ll buy cattle or new vines. I just need to go away. That’s best for both of us. ADELA Both of us? Am I in your way? MARTIN Not you. The whole town is. We are living under the same roof. I don’t want your name going from mouth to mouth. ADELA What could they say about us? From the first day I’ve regarded you as a brother. If there’s something sacred to me, it’s Angelica’s memory. (Gets closer to him.) No, Martin. You are no coward to run away like this from barking dogs. There has to be more to it. Look me in the eye. Is there more? MARTIN (Evasive.) Leave me alone. ADELA If people’s malice is all there is, I’ll face them on our behalf. I’ll shout to their faces that it’s all a lie.


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MARTIN (In a sudden outburst.) And what use is your shouting that, when I cannot shout it too? If I avoid you when we are alone, if I don’t dare speak to you or look you in the eye it’s because I’m shielding myself against the impossible, against what they knew before I knew myself. What’s the use of biting my arms writhing between the sheets saying "no" when all my innards yell back "yes"? ADELA Martin! MARTIN (Controls himself with effort.) I didn’t mean to say this. It was stronger than me. Forgive me. ADELA (Reacts slowly, as if awakening.) Forgive. How odd it sounds this moment. I am the one who should be asking forgiveness but don’t know whose or why. What’s got into me? I should burst out crying and all my blood is singing in my veins! I was afraid one day you’d say these words to me. Now that I heard you saying it, I want to hear nothing else. MARTIN (Takes her in his arms.) Adela! ADELA (Giving herself.) Nothing else. (Martin kisses her in passionate silence. Pause.) MARTIN What will become of us now? ADELA What does it matter. You told me you love me. Even if it’s an impossible love, hearing you say it this once makes my life worthwhile. Now, if someone should leave this house, it’s me. MARTIN Definitely not. ADELA I must. Do you think Mother would ever accept anything else? Our love to her would be the worst betrayal of Angelica’s memory. MARTIN Do you think if Angelica were a memory she could separate us? The dead don’t command.


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ADELA But she does. Her will remains alive here. I’ll be the first to obey. MARTIN (Resolved.) I can’t take this any longer. Listen to me, Adela. I have to share with someone the truth rotting me inside. Angelica wasn’t the beautiful image you all revere. All the shimmering water charm surrounding her today. All that is a fake. ADELA No, stop it. How can you talk like that about the woman you loved? MARTIN Loved too much. I wish I hadn’t loved her so. But I won’t lie to you. You ought to know that her life was a lie. And her death too. ADELA What do you mean? MARTIN Don’t you understand? Angelica is alive. That’s why she separates us. ADELA No! (Drops on a seat, repeatedly denying the unintelligible idea.) No! MARTIN When we were engaged, it was as they all remember: Constant caring. Clear gaze without a shadow. Wholesome laughs that got you from somewhere out there like the smell of cut grass. Until she made the trip to choose her wedding gown. A few days would have been enough but she took several weeks. She came back a different person. Shifty eyes. A drag in her voice like silt in a stream. Saying her vows in church she was short of breath. When I put the ring on her finger, her hands were trembling. So much so that my manly pride was flattered. I paid no attention to a stranger watching our wedding at some distance, dusting his boots with his riding whip. For three days she had a fever. When she thought I was asleep she cried quietly, biting the pillow. On the third night she went out. I rushed after her. Too late. She had untied the barge by herself and had crossed the river to the other bank. He was waiting there for her with two horses. ADELA (Identifying with his jealous anger.) You let them go just like that? You, best rider in the sierra, left crying among the rushes! MARTIN All night I galloped with the gun at my shoulder, my spurs dripping blood, until the sun hit me in the eye like a stone blow—to no use. ADELA


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Why did you keep quiet? MARTIN Could I have done differently? I didn’t plan to do that. But when they found her shawl in The Deep Hole and word began to spread that she drowned, I realized I should keep quiet. It was best. ADELA For mother’s sake and the children’s? MARTIN No. ADELA For your own sake, your man’s honor? MARTIN No, Adela. Don’t think so poorly of me. I did it for her. Love doesn’t stop all of a sudden. Telling the truth was like exposing her naked before the whole town. Do you understand now why I’m leaving? I love you but I can’t tell you that in all decency. You’d be to me all she wasn’t. And I can’t bear this house where all bless her while I have to damn her twice—for the love she denied me then and for the love she deprives me of now. Goodbye, Adela. (Exits, controlling himself. Adela, alone, bursts into tears.) ENTER THE PILGRIM LADY (She appears on the threshold and watches Adela quietly, with beaming eyes. The distant, joyful sound of the bagpipe is heard again.) ENTER THE CHILDREN FALIN (Rushing to Adela with the others.) They are going to light the first bonfire! DOREEN They are decking the barge to cross the river! ANDREW Girls are coming down singing, crowned with clover! DOREEN The dance is going to start. Are you taking us now? (Adela, holding back her tears, rushes upstairs. Exits. The children look at her go, surprised, and turn to the Pilgrim Lady.) DOREEN

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Why is Adela crying? LADY Because she is twenty years old and it’s such a beautiful night. ANDREW But you are happy. Your eyes sparkle. LADY Because I couldn’t see clearly and now it’s all clear. FALIN What is clear? LADY A true story that sounds like a fairy tale. Some day when you are old you’ll tell it to your grandchildren. Do you want to hear it? CHILDREN Tell us. Tell us. (They sit on the floor in front of her.) LADY Once upon a time there was a little town with a honey-colored herd of cattle and whiteblossomed apple trees in the corn fields. A village as quiet as a flock of sheep by a river. FALIN Like this one? LADY Like this one. There was a deep whirlpool of dry leaves in the river. Children weren’t allowed anywhere near it. It was the village monster. People said there was another town down there in the deep, with a church of green foliage plastered with roots and magic bells that sometimes were heard the night of Saint John’s. ANDREW Like The Deep Hole? LADY Like The Deep Hole. In the village there was a girl of such inner beauty she didn’t seem of this world. Girls copied her hairstyle and dresses. Older men took off their hats when she passed by. Women brought their sick children for her to touch. DOREEN Like Angelica? LADY


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Like Angelica. One day the girl disappeared in the whirlpool. She went to live down in the deep, in the underwater town where fish, like water birds, banged against the windowpanes. The whole town above kept calling out to her but to no avail. She was asleep in a misty slumber, meandering slowly through the moss gardens with her floating hair and her gentle weightless hands. Days and years went by. People forgot about her. Only her mother, with absent eyes, was awaiting her. And a miracle happened. One night of bonfires and songs the sleeping beauty was found in the river, more beautiful than ever. She had been cared for by the river and the fish. Her hair was clean. Her hands were still warm. Her lips were parted in a blissful smile as if the years in the bottom had been only a moment. (The children remain quiet for a moment, impressed.) DOREEN Strange story. When did it happen? LADY It has not happened. It will happen soon. Remember. Tonight all the rivers of the world carry a drop of the Jordan River. CURTAIN ACT IV Same place, hours later. The tablecloth on the table shows that the family has had supper. Before the curtain goes up, highland music is heard in the background, played by bagpipes and tambourines ending with the virile stridence of whoops. The sound of young people—shouts and laughter—approaches. Empty stage. VOICES (Offstage, confusedly heard.) To the Narces home. It’s the last one. They have plenty. Wood for the Saint! A girl for the dance! ENTER THE FAIRGOERS BOY 1 (Bursts in with the whole group.) Hello! Anybody home? Everybody’s sleeping? GIRLS Adela! Adela! ENTER KICKO KICKO (Coming from the stockyard.) No yelling indoors. What do you want?


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BOY 2 Where’s Adela? GIRL 1 Don’t lock her in like the Moor locked up his gold. BOY 1 Let her out, man, we aren’t going to steal her from you. KICKO Am I the man of the house? If Adela wants to go down to the dance she won’t be lacking an escort. GIRL 2 Martin? GIRL 3 I don’t think so. He’s roaming around by himself, looking at the fire from a distance— like a wolf in winter. BOY 1 Why don’t you bring her down? GIRL 1 Shame on you boys. A pretty girl, two young men in the house, and hers is the only single-girl’s window with no wreath. KICKO I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion. If you came looking for a brawl, you can go back. BOY 2 It’s wood we’re looking for. We need more for the bonfire. GIRL 1 This year’s has to be memorable—go up higher than the trees, heat up the river, make people in the sierra think it’s sunrise. KICKO Unless you set the whole wood on fire— BOY 1 Something like that. Milady gave us two carts of dry runners. GIRL 2 The Mayor, all the pruning from the chestnut grove.


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BOY 2 At the mine they uprooted a tree and gave us roots and everything. GIRL 1 They are bringing it down now on their shoulders like hunters bring a bear, cheering and shooting firecrackers. GIRL 3 The Narces house was never any less. What are you giving to the fair? KICKO That’s up to the mistress. VOICES (Shouting.) Telva! Telvona! ENTER TELVA TELVA (Coming downstairs, dressed up and bejeweled, putting on her wrap.) What’s all the shouting about? GIRL 1 Is there something for the saint? TELVA Lower your voice, girl. My ears are very proud and if I am shouted at they stop hearing. KICKO These fairgoers are asking for wood from every house. TELVA That’s fine, but no need to shout for what will be given. BOY 1 What can we take? TELVA In the stockyard there’s a cart full of gorse and a good pair of oxen waiting for the yoke. Go with them, Kicko. (Boys and Kicko exit to the stable.) GIRL 2 Gorse is the greatest for bonfires. It gives out a real red flame and sounds like castanets when it burns.


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GIRL 3 I like purple heather best. It burns quieter and gives off a smell like when you’re napping on the grass. GIRL 2 But broom gives out sparks and coils flames up like green witches. TELVA You’re all very chatty tonight. And smartly dressed, by God. GIRL 1 You are no less. What a comely matron! TELVA Where there was fire, embers remain. Let me see you, let me see. Long live luxury and she who brings it! Anything left in the wardrobe? Or are you wearing the wardrobe? GIRL 1 One special day is one special day. There’s more to life than cotton shirts and aprons. TELVA I see, I see. Moroccan leather shoes, skirt, overskirt, embroidered vest, beaded headdress. A whole year spinning to show off one night. GIRL 3 Pity it’s the shortest night of the year. GIRL 4 As the song goes, Green Saint John has just come, Has just come and it is gone. GIRL 1 But between coming and going each hour can bring you a miracle. TELVA Watch out. Some miracles are the devil’s doing and leave you crying later. GIRL 3 Who’s thinking of crying on a day like today? Weren’t you ever young? TELVA That’s why I say it. The fire dazzles your senses. The bagpipe tickles your loins like heady wine. And getting lost in the balmy moonlit cornfields can be dangerous. GIRL 1


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Joy is what the Saint wants. He won’t watch over those who won’t sing tonight. GIRL 2 I already put salt outdoors for the cows. Feed them salt with dew at dawn and they’ll have female calves for sure. GIRL 3 I hung my shirt out on the dew to bring me a love and be delivered from evil. GIRL 1 I’ll throw all my pins in the water at the crack of dawn. For each pin afloat I’ll have a happy year. TELVA Too many wonders for one night. This year we had four christenings in March. GIRL 1 What does that have to do with it? TELVA Saint John’s feast is in June. Can’t you count the months, girl? GIRL 2 Look at what the malicious old lady comes out with. GIRL 1 She mustn’t have a very clear conscience if she thinks that of others. Everyone puts their tongue on the tooth that hurts. TELVA I can say little about teeth—I just have a few. But my conscience is so clear I only go to confession once a year and with three Hail Marys I’m even. But forty Credos wouldn’t be enough for you. (To the other one.) And you, presumed-innocent, what the heck did you say at the confessional that sent you climbing barefoot up to Our Lady of the Holly? GIRL 4 That wasn’t a penance. It was a vow. I got sick from a foul wind. TELVA Good God! People call it "foul wind" now? GIRL 1 Don’t mind her. Don’t you see all she wants is attention? No wonder they say old people, like ovens, heat up by the mouth. (Laughter. The boys return without Kicko.) BOY 1


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The carriage is ready to leave. Let’s jump in. GIRL 2 Together? TELVA Sure you are not afraid of that. Nor is the Saint. The poor dear is used to this sort of thing. It’s not his fault his feast comes with the first heat wave of summer. (Driving them away like chickens.) Shoo! Heat up at the bonfire and go pick the four-leaf clover. BOY 1 Everybody! You too, Ma’am! (They round her up holding hands, giving her no choice, singing and pushing her on in time with their song.) ALL To pick up the clover, the clover, the clover, To pick up the clover the night of Saint John’s. (Gradually they exit through the back.) To pick up the clover, The clover, the clover. To pick up the clover, My dearest one goes. ENTER MARTIN (From outdoors. From the door he looks at the group going away with Telva amid laughter and whoops.) ENTER ADELA ADELA (Comes downstairs, calling.) Telva! Telva! MARTIN Those leeches got hold of her and dragged her into the carriage. (Entering.) Do you need something from her? ADELA (Coming down.) Just a question, but maybe you can give me a better answer. I opened my bedroom window and it’s bursting with white blossoms. MARTIN Hawthorn and cherry blossoms. Those who see the wreath will know who put it there and what all the white means.


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ADELA Thank you, Martin. I love your thinking of it, but you didn’t have to. MARTIN Would I allow your window to be the only one bare? ADELA You already gave me more than I could hope for with what you said to me before. The cherry blossoms will be gone tomorrow with the wind. Your words won’t. MARTIN Those words will be in my mind all the time and so loud that if you close your eyes you can hear them across the distance. ADELA When are you leaving? MARTIN Tomorrow at dawn. ADELA (Deeply.) Let’s forget tonight is our last night. Perhaps tomorrow you won’t need to go after all. MARTIN Why? Can anyone drive away the shadow between us? Or do you want to see me die of thirst by the fountain? ADELA I’m only asking you to forget it tonight. MARTIN Then let’s forget it together dancing before the whole town. At least for this once, let them all see you in my arms. Let them all see my eyes fastened to yours as my wreath is fastened to your window. ADELA I know, and that’s all I need. Quiet. Someone’s coming down. MARTIN (In low voice, taking her hands.) Wait for you at the dance? ADELA I’ll be there. MARTIN


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Till then, Adela. ADELA Till ever, Martin. (Martin exits through the back.) ENTER THE MOTHER MOTHER (Comes downstairs dressed up with the sober elegance of peasant affluence. Her head isn’t covered. She carries a votive candle and a large kerchief on her arm.) Where’s my mantilla? I can’t find it in any of the drawers. ADELA (Searches for it in the sewing chest.) Here. Are you wearing it to go down to the dance? MOTHER I have to stop at the chapel first. I owe the Saint this candle and have to thank God for many things. (Sits down. Adela pins the mantilla on her while they talk.) ADELA Were you praying for something in particular? MOTHER Many things that perhaps can never happen. But the best of all God gave me without praying the day He brought you here. To think I wasn’t grateful then and almost closed the door on you. ADELA Forget that, Mother. MOTHER Now that it’s over I want to tell you, so you forgive me for the days when I resented you as an intruder. You understand, don’t you? The first time you sat at the table in front of me you didn’t know it was her seat, where no one sat after her death. I was living only to remember. Each word from you robbed me of a moment of silence in her memory. Each kiss the children gave you, was to me a kiss you were taking away from her. ADELA I didn’t realize that until later. That’s why I wanted to leave. MOTHER Then I couldn’t let you go. By then I had learned the lesson: The same river that took away my daughter was giving me back another so that my love wouldn’t be an empty madness. (Pause. Looks at her lovingly. Caresses her hands. Stands up.) See this kerchief? It’s the one Angelica wore on her shoulders her last night. Martin gave it to her. (Puts it on Adela’s shoulders.) Now it’s found its place.


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ADELA (Emotional, in a small voice.) Thank you. MOTHER Adela, tell me truly, woman to woman. What is Martin to you? ADELA (Looks at her with dread.) Why do you ask me that? MOTHER Answer me, please. What is Martin to you? ADELA Nothing, I swear! MOTHER Then, why are you trembling so? Why don’t you look me in the eye as before? ADELA I swear to you, Mother! Neither Martin nor I would betray Angelica’s memory. MOTHER Do I betray it when I call you "my child"? (Puts her hands on Adela’s shoulders, to soothe her.) Listen, Adela. Many times I thought this moment could come. I don’t want you to suffer needlessly on my account. Don’t you know Martin loves you? ADELA No! MOTHER I do. I’ve known for a long time. The first day I saw it in his eyes a shudder shook my whole body down to my fists. It was like Angelica rising up jealous in my blood. It took me time to get used to the idea. That’s all over. ADELA (Anguished.) Not for me. For me it begins now. MOTHER If you don’t feel the same for him, forget everything I said. But if you love him, don’t stifle your love thinking it would hurt me. I accept it now. ADELA (Holding back her tears.) For God’s sake, say no more. You can’t imagine how much it hurts me to hear you say those words—precisely today.


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MOTHER (Takes her candle, ready to leave.) I’m not trying to point you the way. I just wanted to tell you that if you choose that way, I won’t be a stumbling block. Life rules. (Exits. Adela falls overwhelmed into a seat, thinking obsessively, with eyes fixed in space.) ENTER THE PILGRIM LADY (She appears on the threshold at right and watches Adela as if hearing her thinking.) ADELA Choose a way! Why did they take me off the one I’d chosen if they couldn’t put me on a better one? (Pulls the kerchief off her shoulders, anguished.) This chokes me like the water did. (She seems to make a decision suddenly. Puts the kerchief back on and straightens to stand up.) LADY (Placing a commanding hand on Adela’s shoulder, to stop her.) No, Adela. Don’t do it. Do you think a river is the solution? ADELA If only I knew what is! Yesterday everything was so simple. Today all is a wall of shadows closing in on me. LADY Yesterday you didn’t know you were in love. ADELA Is this what love is? LADY No. That’s just the dread of losing it. Love is what you felt up to now unawares. The mysterious mischief filling your veins with needles and your throat with fluttering wings. ADELA Why do they paint it as so blissful, when it hurts so much? Did you ever feel it? LADY Never. But love and I go hand in hand often. How I envy you all, able to feel pain girding your flesh like a belt of nails—that no one wants to take off. ADELA Mine is worse. It’s like a bad burn in my very core, like a stifled scream with no way out. LADY Perhaps. About love I only know the words it gets wrapped in, and not all of them either. I know love is a fondling hand and a whisper in the evening under a tree. But all I ever


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get to hear is love’s desperate last words. Words said to themselves by abandoned women on foggy bridges, eyes fixed in space. Words said on the same pillow by two clenched mouths when gas fills up the room. Words you were saying to yourself a moment ago. ADELA (Stands up, resolved.) Why did you hold me? I’m still in time. LADY (Stopping her.) Stop. ADELA It’s the only way left to me. (The distant glare of bonfires is seen and the fairgoers’ cheers are heard indistinctly.) LADY No. That way isn’t for you. Look, the night has gone wild with bonfires and songs. Martin is waiting for you at the dance. ADELA What about tomorrow? LADY Tomorrow your road shall clear. Have faith, girl. You will be happy. I promise. Tonight will be the most beautiful night you or I have seen. ENTER THE CHILDREN FOLLOWED BY GRANDFATHER ANDREW They lit up the main bonfire and the whole town is dancing around it! DOREEN Hurry, Grandpa, we’ll be late! FALIN (Goes to the Pilgrim Lady with a crown of roses and wheat spikes.) I made this for you. LADY For me? FALIN Women dress up with this tonight. DOREEN Aren’t you coming to the dance?


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LADY I have to be on my way at the break of dawn. Adela will go with you. She won’t leave you for a moment. (Looking commandingly at her.) Right, Adela? ADELA (Lowering her head.) Right. Goodbye, Ma’am. Thank you. ANDREW Are we going to see you again soon? LADY Don’t be in a hurry. Many crops will ripen before then. Goodbye, little ones. CHILDREN Bye, Pilgrim Lady. (They exit with Adela.) GRANDFATHER Why did Adela say "thank you" to you? Does she know who you are? LADY It’ll take her many years to know me. GRANDFATHER Didn’t you come tonight for her? LADY I thought so too. Now I see I was wrong. GRANDFATHER Then, why are you still here? What are you waiting for? LADY I won’t go back alone. I told you a woman of your household will be my companion down the river tonight, crowned with flowers. But don’t worry. You won’t be shedding a single tear over those you already shed. GRANDFATHER (Gazing at her suspiciously.) I don’t believe you. You are after the children. Admit it. LADY Don’t panic, Grandfather. Your grandchildren will have grandchildren. Go with them now. (Picks up her staff and places it against the door jamb.) GRANDFATHER What are you doing?


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LADY Placing my staff at the door as a farewell token. My mission will be over when you come back from the dance. (Final.) Now, leave. This is my last word to you tonight. (Grandfather exits. Pause. The Pilgrim Lady, alone, glances dreamily at her crown of roses. Her eyes brighten up. Puts it on her hair, takes a mirror from Adela’s sewing basket and looks at her reflection with feminine interest. Her smile fades. She drops the mirror, takes off the crown and plucks off some rose petals coldly, with absent eyes. All the while, the popular Saint John’s songs are heard from around the bonfire.) MAN’S VOICE Master Saint John, In the spike, blossoms Are dying to be grain. CHORUS Long live the dancing And all in the ring, Master Saint John. WOMAN’S VOICE Master Saint John, With water flowers Your song I shall sing. CHORUS Long live the dancing And all in the ring, Master Saint John. (There is silence again. The Pilgrim Lady sits facing the audience, elbows on her knees, hands on her face.) ENTER ANGELICA (Steals into the room through the back door. She is a young woman of faded beauty. Her face is half hidden in a small mantilla. She eyes the house, notices The Pilgrim Lady and takes a shy step toward her.) LADY (Without turning.) Angelica. ANGELICA (Steps back, baffled.) How do you know my name? (The Pilgrim Lady stands up and turns.) I’ve never seen you before. LADY


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I’ve never seen you either. But I knew you were coming. I didn’t want you to find an empty house. Did anyone see you? ANGELICA No one. That’s why I waited till night—to hide from everybody. Where are my mother and my sister and brothers? LADY It’s better that they don’t see you either. Would you dare look them in the eye? What could you possibly say to them? ANGELICA I don’t need words. I’ll cry on my knees. They’ll understand. LADY Martin too? ANGELICA (With instinctive fear.) Is he here? LADY He is at the fair, dancing around the fire like everybody else. ANGELICA Wrong. Not everybody. Martin may have forgotten me, but not my mother. I’m sure she’ll wait for me all her life without counting the days. (Calls.) Mother! Mother! LADY No use calling. I told you she is at the fair. ANGELICA I need to see her now. It’s going to be the hardest moment of my life but I can’t avoid it any longer. LADY What did you come here for? ANGELICA For what I had. LADY No one took it from you. You left it. ANGELICA I don’t expect to find a love that is no longer possible. But forgiveness I do. Or at least, a corner to die in peace. I paid for my fault with four bitter years as heavy as a lifetime.


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LADY In that time your life changed much. Haven’t you thought how much theirs may have changed too? ANGELICA This is my house and my family. They can’t close the only door left to me. LADY Are you so desperate? ANGELICA I can’t take it any more. I’ve suffered the worst a woman can suffer. Abandonment. Loneliness. Humiliating long waits at cafe tables. Bitter fatigue without a roof at dawn. Passing from hand to hand like a soiled bill. Only my pride kept me going. I lost it too. I’m a loser. I’m not ashamed to say it. I just need to rest in some cozy corner. LADY Life has humbled you greatly. After having the courage to risk everything for passion you don’t come back craven like a freezing dog to beg crumbs from your own table. Do you think Martin would open his arms to you again? ANGELICA (Desperate.) After all I suffered, how could Martin possibly hurt me further? Slap my face on the double? Fine. At least it’d be a decent pain. Throw my bread down at me? I’ll eat it on the floor, blessing it for coming from him in the home where I was born. No. No one can pull me away from here. I embroidered that tablecloth. I’m home—my home. (Desperately cries over the table. Pause. Again Saint John’s song is heard.) MAN’S VOICE Master Saint John, In the sky, twinkles Can hardly be seen. CHORUS Long live the dancing And all in the ring, Master Saint John. LADY (Approaches Angelica compassionately and caresses her hair. In an intimate voice.) Angelica, on your dark days over there, did you ever think of another way out? ANGELICA (Her elbows on the table, without turning.) All were dead ends. Cities are too large. No one knows anyone over there.


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LADY A gentle way of silence you open for yourself. ANGELICA I had no strength left for anything. (Going deeper within.) The night he left me, though — LADY (In a suggestive tone, like voicing Angelica’s thought.) You thought that beyond, on the other side of fear, there is a place of ultimate forgiveness, of white and tranquil coolness, where there is a peaceful smile on all lips and an infinite peace in all eyes; where it is glorious to rest forever with no pain, no end. ANGELICA (Turns and looks at her, scared.) Who are you, reading me through? LADY A friend. The only one left to you. ANGELICA (Steps back instinctively.) I didn’t ask for your friendship. Or advice. Leave me alone. Don’t look at me like that. LADY Would you rather have your mother and family learning the truth about you? ANGELICA Don’t they know it? LADY They don’t. They imagine you asleep in the bottom of the river, purer than ever. ANGELICA Impossible. Martin followed me to the river. From the grove we saw him galloping, a gun on his shoulder, a death wish in his eye. LADY He controlled himself and kept quiet. ANGELICA Why? LADY Because of you. He loved you. His silence was the last gift of love he could give you.


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ANGELICA Martin did that? For me? (Building up hopes.) Then, he loves me. He still loves me! LADY Too late now. Your place is taken. Don’t you feel another woman’s presence in the house? ANGELICA She won’t rob me of what is mine without a fight. Where is she? LADY No use trying to fight her. You lost already. Your seat at the table, your place by the fire, the love of your family—you lost it all. ANGELICA I can take it back! LADY Too late. Your mother has another daughter; your brothers and sister, another sister. ANGELICA You are lying. LADY (Points to the sewing basket.) See the needle work? ANGELICA It’s mine. I started it. LADY It has new silks now. Someone’s finishing it in your place. Look out the door. Can you see anything by the light of the bonfire? (Angelica goes to the back door. The Pilgrim Lady does not.) ANGELICA The whole town is dancing, holding hands. LADY Can you see Martin? ANGELICA (Pause.) He just passed before the flames. LADY And the girl dancing with him? If you could see her closer you’d recognize your dress and the kerchief around her neck.


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ANGELICA I don’t know her. She isn’t from here. LADY Soon she will be. ANGELICA (Goes back by the Pilgrim Lady.) No, that’s too much. They can’t take everything away from me. There must be something left for me. Can anyone take my mother away from me? LADY She no longer needs you. She has a memory of you worthier than you. ANGELICA What about my brothers and sister? The first word the little one said was my name. I see him sleeping in my arms with a teeny smile on his lips oozing like sap on ripe figs. LADY To them you are just a name. Do you think they would recognize you? Four years are a lot in the life of a child. (Goes to her. Confidentially.) Think about it, Angelica. You destroyed your family once, when you left. Do you want to destroy it again, coming back? ANGELICA (Defeated.) Where else can I go? LADY To salvage the one thing left to you—the memory of you. ANGELICA What for, if it is a false memory? LADY Does it matter? It’s beautiful. Beauty is another sort of truth. ANGELICA How could I salvage it? LADY I’ll show you the way. Come with me, and tomorrow the town will have a legend all its own. (Takes her by the hand.) Shall we? ANGELICA There’s something scary in you. Let go.


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LADY Still that? Take a good look at me. (Remains still with hands crossed.) How do I look now? ANGELICA (Looks at her mesmerized.) Like vast slumber with no eyes to close. More and more beautiful. LADY That’s all the secret: live passionately, die beautifully. (Places the crown of roses on Angelica’s head.) There. As if going to another wedding. Courage, Angelica. A moment’s daring and your memory will stay in the village as deeply rooted as an oak full of nests. Shall we? ANGELICA (Closes her eyes.) Let’s go. (Falters while walking.) LADY Are you still scared? ANGELICA No. No more. My knee just bent under me. LADY (With infinite tenderness.) Lean on me. Put on your best smile for the trip. (Takes her gently by the waist.) I’ll move your barge to the other shore. (Exits with her. Outdoors, the light from the bonfires begins to die down and the last song is heard.) MAN’S VOICE Master Saint John, In your bonfire There’s nothing to burn. CHORUS Long live the dancing And all in the ring, Master Saint John. (Again the bagpipe is heard, amid joyful shouting and sounds of people approaching.) ENTER GIRL 1 AND GRADUALLY ALL OTHERS GIRL 1 (Runs in, chased by the other girls and the boys. Behind them, Adela and Martin.) Hands off! I saw it first.


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GIRL 2 Toss it to me! GIRL 3 To me! I have a sweetheart. GIRL 1 It’s mine, I found it. ADELA What did you find? GIRL 1 The four-leaf clover. BOY 3 It’s no good to you. It’s no luck to the finder but to whom it’s tossed. GIRL 2 Close your eyes and toss it in the air. GIRL 1 To you, Adela. It was in your orchard. ADELA (Catching it in her apron.) Thank you. MARTIN (To Girl 1.) Luck is favoring you this year. In the river you got the water flower and in the cornfield, the red ear. ENTER MOTHER, TELVA AND THEN, GRANDFATHER MOTHER You all grown tired of dancing? TELVA The fire is out but the embers last till dawn. GIRL 1 If I don’t have a break now I’ll collapse. (Sits down.) TELVA

83


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Marshmallow bones! They think they can gobble up the world and they lose their breath while the tambourine still jingles. Don’t even know how to shake hips and aprons at the beat upstairs. In my times—ah! ADELA Are you going to bed, mother? I’ll walk you. MOTHER Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Go back to the dance with her, Martin. Telva, wait on the boys if they want a drink. For the girls we have cherry liqueur in the cupboard. (Starts up the stairs.) MARTIN Whose staff is this by the door? GRANDFATHER (Stopping Adela, ready to leave with Martin.) Wait. Did you see someone here when you came in? ADELA No one, why? GRANDFATHER I don’t know. This may be the shortest night of the year but I’ve never longed so much to see the sunrise. TELVA It won’t be long now. The first streak of dawn’s coming. (Kicko’s voice is heard offstage, shouting.) KICKO’S VOICE Mistress! Mistress! (All turn, startled.) ENTER KICKO KICKO (Speaks emotionally from the threshold. Behind him, men and women with lanterns and torches gradually gather, remaining at the back in respectful silence.) Mistress, what you were waiting for, happened at last. They found Angelica in The Deep Hole. MARTIN What are you saying? KICKO No one could believe it, but they all saw it.


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MOTHER (Runs to him, beaming.) Did you see her? Tell me! KICKO They are bringing her to you, Ma’am, more beautiful than ever. Preserved in the water these four years, crowned with roses, with a peaceful smile as if she just died. VOICES Miracle! Miracle! (Some women fall on their knees, men uncover their heads.) MOTHER (Kisses the ground.) God had to listen to my prayers. At last, dust to dust! (Raises her arms.) Angelica, my dear! My saintly Angelica! WOMEN (Covering their head with their shawls and patting their chests.) A saint. A saint. (Men and women, immobile like figures in a tableau. Distant, Saint John’s bells are heard as if from underwater. At the head of the funeral procession is the Pilgrim Lady, watching the scene with a detached, gentle smile and, taking her staff, goes on her way. Enter the end of the stretcher, covered with green branches. The Mother, extending her arms, bursts out in a harrowing, but also jubilant, cry.) MOTHER Daughter! (The sound of bells heightens to a hallelujah peal. Curtain.) THE END


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******* Casona’s work received enthusiastic reviews in the international press: “An appealing play with a wealth of subtle poetry and a blooming imagination.” (Die Presse, Vienna, Austria) “A play with profound human content, a daring plot bordering on fable and a rich, witty dialogue.” (G. Moiseev, Saint Petersburg, Russia) “Casona reveals another facet of his artistry in this new play in which the picturesque and the extraordinary startlingly marry to produce in a novel way what others had tried before without his excellence.” (O Seculo, Lisbon, Portugal)


Lady of the Dawn  

English translation of La dama del alba

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