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Scene I

It is just after sunset of an August evening. The scene is a room in a mountain hut, furnished only with a table, benches. and a low broad window seat. Through this window three rocky peaks are seen by the light of a moon which is slowly whitening the last hues of sunset. An oil lamp is burning. SEELCHEN, a mountain girl, eighteen years old, is humming a folk-song, and putting away in a cupboard freshly washed soup-bowls and glasses. She is dressed in a tight-fitting black velvet bodice. square-cut at the neck and partly filled in with a gay handkerchief, coloured rose-pink, blue, and golden, like the alpen-rose, the gentian, and the mountain dandelion; alabaster beads, pale as edelweiss, are round her throat; her stiffened. white linen sleeves finish at the elbow; and her full well-worn skirt is of gentian blue. The two thick plaits of her hair are crossed, and turned round her head. As she puts away the last bowl, there is a knock; and LAMOND opens the outer door. He is young, tanned, and good-looking, dressed like a climber, and carries a plaid, a ruck-sack, and an ice-axe.

LAMOND
Good evening!

SEELCHEN
Good evening, gentle Sir!

LAMOND
My name is Lamond. I'm very late I fear.

SEELCHEN
Do you wish to sleep here?

LAMOND
Please.

SEELCHEN
All the beds are full--it is a pity. I will call Mother.

LAMOND
I've come to go up the Great Horn at sunrise.

SEELCHEN
[Awed] The Great Horn! But he is impossible.

LAMOND
I am going to try that.

SEELCHEN
There is the Wine Horn, and the Cow Horn.

LAMOND
I have climbed them.

SEELCHEN
But he is so dangerous--it is perhaps--death.

LAMOND
Oh! that's all right! One must take one's chance.

SEELCHEN
And father has hurt his foot. For guide, there is only Mans Felsman.

LAMOND
The celebrated Felsman?

SEELCHEN
[Nodding; then looking at him with admiration] Are you that Herr Lamond who has climbed all our little mountains this year?

LAMOND
All but that big fellow.

SEELCHEN
We have heard of you. Will you not wait a day for father's foot?

LAMOND
Ah! no. I must go back home to-morrow.

SEELCHEN
The gracious Sir is in a hurry.

LAMOND
[Looking at her intently] Alas!

SEELCHEN
Are you from London? Is it very big?

LAMOND
Six million souls.

SEELCHEN
Oh! [After a little pause] I have seen Cortina twice.

LAMOND
Do you live here all the year?

SEELCHEN
In winter in the valley.

LAMOND
And don't you want to see the world?

SEELCHEN
Sometimes. [Going to a door, she calls softly] Hans! [Then pointing to another door] There are seven German gentlemen asleep in there!

LAMOND
Oh God!

SEELCHEN
Please? They are here to see the sunrise. [She picks up a little book that has dropped from LAMOND'S pocket] I have read several books.

LAMOND
This is by the great English poet. Do you never make poetry here, and dream dreams, among your mountains?

SEELCHEN
[Slowly shaking her head] See! It is the full moon.

While they stand at the window looking at the moon, there enters a lean, well-built, taciturn young man dressed in Loden.

SEELCHEN
Hans!

FELSMAN
[In a deep voice] The gentleman wishes me?

SEELCHEN
[Awed] The Great Horn for to-morrow! [Whispering to him] It is the celebrated London one.

FELSMAN
The Great Horn is not possible.

LAMOND
You say that? And you're the famous Felsman?

FELSMAN
[Grimly] We start at dawn.

SEELCHEN
It is the first time for years!

LAMOND
[Placing his plaid and rucksack on the window bench] Can I sleep here?

SEELCHEN
I will see; perhaps--

[She runs out up some stairs]

FELSMAN
[Taking blankets from the cupboard and spreading them on the window seat] So!

As he goes out into the air. SEELCHEN comes slipping in again with a lighted candle.

SEELCHEN
There is still one bed. This is too hard for you.

LAMOND
Oh! thanks; but that's all right.

SEELCHEN
To please me!

LAMOND
May I ask your name?

SEELCHEN
Seelchen.

LAMOND
Little soul, that means--doesn't it? To please you I would sleep with seven German gentlemen.

SEELCHEN
Oh! no; it is not necessary.

LAMOND
[With. a grave bow] At your service, then. [He prepares to go]

SEELCHEN
Is it very nice in towns, in the World, where you come from?

LAMOND
When I'm there I would be here; but when I'm here I would be there.

SEELCHEN
[Clasping her hands] That is like me but I am always here.

LAMOND
Ah! yes; there is no one like you in towns.

SEELCHEN
In two places one cannot be. [Suddenly] In the towns there are theatres, and there is beautiful fine work, and--dancing, and--churches--and trains--and all the things in books--and--

LAMOND
Misery.

SEELCHEN
But there is life.

LAMOND
And there is death.

SEELCHEN
To-morrow, when you have climbed--will you not come back?

LAMOND
No.

SEELCHEN
You have all the world; and I have nothing.

LAMOND
Except Felsman, and the mountains.

SEELCHEN
It is not good to eat only bread.

LAMOND
[Looking at her hard] I would like to eat you!

SEELCHEN
But I am not nice; I am full of big wants--like the cheese with holes.

LAMOND
I shall come again.

SEELCHEN
There will be no more hard mountains left to climb. And if it is not exciting, you do not care.

LAMOND
O wise little soul!

SEELCHEN
No. I am not wise. In here it is always aching.

LAMOND
For the moon?

SEELCHEN
Yes. [Then suddenly] From the big world you will remember?

LAMOND
[Taking her hand] There is nothing in the big world so sweet as this.

SEELCHEN
[Wisely] But there is the big world itself.

LAMOND
May I kiss you, for good-night?

She puts her face forward; and he kisses her cheek, and, suddenly, her lips. Then as she draws away.

LAMOND
I am sorry, little soul.

SEELCHEN
That's all right!

LAMOND
[Taking the candle] Dream well! Goodnight!

SEELCHEN
[Softly] Good-night!

FELSMAN
[Coming in from the air, and eyeing them] It is cold--it will be fine.

LAMOND still looking back goes up the stairs; and FELSMAN waits for him to pass.

SEELCHEN
[From the window seat] It was hard for him here. I thought.

He goes up to her, stays a moment looking down then bends and kisses her hungrily.

SEELCHEN
Art thou angry?

He does not answer, but turning out the lamp, goes into an inner room.

SEELCHEN sits gazing through the window at the peaks bathed in full moonlight. Then, drawing the blankets about her, she snuggles doom on the window seat.

SEELCHEN
[In a sleepy voice] They kissed me--both. [She sleeps]

The scene falls quite dark

John Galsworthy

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