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Grotesques

[He turns reluctantly to the Man, who lies inanimate outside the frame. Subtly, glancing at the Audience.] I’ll put his consciousness in fealty.

[He lifts the Man, clothes him in a monastic garb, and places him at the right edge of the decoration. In his hand he places an actual, brilliantly colored flower.] He shall forget the Woman-motive now. Garbed mind has use: it keeps the scene intact.

Man. [Sometimes intoning.] Behold the ancient altar of

this wood.

I cannot quite remember—yet there was
Someone: it was not you.

Capulchard. Though she is fair.

Man. It seems I’ve journeyed here from far away,
From distant plains, great cities, o'er a sea
Where the waves are alternate black and white,
And a black sun shines in a chalk-white sky
Flecked by dark clouds and birds, black, soaring high;
While over the sea ride chequered ships
With white sail fastened to ebon mast.
The ports they make are cities vast,
With spires, minarets, and domes,
All black and white.
Here first the very presence of the gods.

Girl. What have you in your hand?

Man. An offering.

Girl. [Standing very close to him and looking at the flower.] This flower is not real like that one.

[Indicating the conventionalized lotus.] Man. No; it lives. Capulchard. The lotus is like time, misunderstood. Girl. And here and there it's neither black nor white. Man. I know not what that is, which came as I Fashioned the petals. Gift of the gods, a seal Of their benignity. Girl. I like the gods. Man. [Turning towards the Audience.] The gods watch over us, they guard us well; They have no other thought but for our good, And not a bird-sign falls but they behold it. Place now this flower humbly on their shrine; Your hands are pure and stainless as the light Reflected to the moon and seven stars. Girl. You like my hands? Man. [His tone changing.] Why do I find you here? Capulchard. That theme has character; I'll give her words. Girl. It is dark night, and I had lost my way. But now that you are come, I do not care. We are alone: the gods seemed so far off. [She takes the flower, crosses with delicate conventionalized movement to the right of the altar, and kisses the flower. She starts slightly, but does not speak until she has placed it on the altar.] The fragrance—withered. Man. [Not heeding his words.] 'Twas acceptable. Night and the stars, and silence in the wood. And she—

Grotesques

Girl. What do you mean?

Man. I love you.

Girl. Then You will not do me harm.

Capulchard. She creeps away.

[The Man, gaining control of himself, kneels penitently beside the altar.] Somewhat a climax, if we quickly pass. We'll take her off, though that is dangerous; Scenes must progress. [The Girl creeps into the forest, right. Capulchard stands at the edge of the decoration as she falls inert. Presently the Man looks up. A pause.] Man. [In remorse.] Forgive me—oh, forgive! I know that I shall never see her more. Beyond this length of forest all is void. How can the gods stand by and see so fair And innocent a creature perish, yet Raise not one hand to help her or restrain? Do they snatch joy from her unhappiness? [Capulchard places the Woman at the right edge of the decoration.] Nay, they are gods: their silence must have cause— Immortal life! Woman. Death would not then be true. [The Man turns abruptly.] Man. Who are you that have strength to look at grief? Woman. I know grief's pain, the memory's garnering.

Capulchard. Swift let the past sweep backward from their ken,

Completed.

Man. They might will the past restored, Did we appeal, humbly. .

[He looks in mute appeal towards the Audience. A pause. His hope breaks. Capulchard smiles.]

Capulchard. The gods are kind, but wish to be amused. Obey the decoration: be not like The marionette who learned that there were strings And, seeking independence, severed them.

[A silence. Capulchard has removed the monastic garb from the Man.]

Woman. If I, knowing sorrow, could teach happiness—

Capulchard. Await the tang: their search will yield you

tang.

Brief shall the scene be, so with stress designed.

Man. You were their answer.

Woman. Yes. [She starts.] Gods kill at last. .
All moods of life in turn sweep through my heart.
Each sings a moment, passes, and is gone,
Like winds of evening, winds of night, and dawn.

Man. Your heart is not inconstant—

Woman. Not my heart. There is a mystery; I know there waits . .

Man. Our love, deep-grounded in the roots of life, Eternal—

Woman. Flee: I bring unhappiness!

Grotesques

Capulchard. Has he learned not transcience? Let them weave the theme. Man. One weapon—craft. We'll make our own design. Capulchard. Shadows who'd swing the moon. [The Man draws her into a pose suggesting two lovers. This becomes the motive of the design.] Man. [As, with a glance at Capulchard, she yields.] Victory! Capulchard. [Surprised, grimly.] How slight A breath would puff them pell-mell into space, And free the canvas for a different theme! Woman. [After a long pause.] Seize in this one embrace our happiness; Swift to my lips! Capulchard. [Designing.] Now, duty. What, n'importe! Woman. [Quietly, looking past the Man to Capulchard.] I know that you must leave me. Man. Now 2 Woman. The while— That love may so be perfect; ere the gods Destroy; and return to—find—me— [They move to the right edge of the decoration.] Dearest . Man. Wait . . . [He turns aside, left. She smiles, looking upward. Her smiles becomes ecstasy.]

Capulchard. [Abruptly..] The tang!

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