The dark scene again becomes glamorous. SEELCHEN is seen with her hand stretched out towards the Piazza of a little town, with a plane tree on one side, a wall on the other, and from the open doorway of an Inn a pale path of light. Over the Inn hangs a full golden moon. Against the wall, under the glimmer of a lamp, leans a youth with the face of THE WINE HORN, in a crimson dock, thrumming a mandolin, and singing:
"Little star soul
Through the frost fields of night
Roaming alone, disconsolate--
From out the cold
I call thee in
Striking my dark mandolin
Beneath this moon of gold."
From the Inn comes a burst of laughter, and the sound of dancing.
[Whispering] It is the big world!
The Youth of THE WINE HORN sings On:
"Pretty grey moth,
Where the strange candles shine,
Seeking for warmth, so desperate--
Ah! fluttering dove
I bid thee win
Striking my dark mandolin
The crimson flame of love."
[Gazing enraptured at the Inn] They are dancing!
As SHE speaks, from either side come moth-children, meeting and fluttering up the path of light to the Inn doorway; then wheeling aside, they form again, and again flutter forward.
[Holding out her hands] They are real! Their wings are windy.
The Youth of THE WINE HORN sings on;
"Lips of my song,
To the white maiden's heart
Go ye, and whisper, passionate.
These words that burn
'O listening one!
Love that flieth past is gone
Nor ever may return!'"
SEELCHEN runs towards him--but the light above him fades; he has become shadow. She turns bewildered to the dancing moth- children--but they vanish before her. At the door of the Inn stands LAMOND in a dark cloak.
It is you!
Without my little soul I am cold. Come! [He holds out his arms to her]
Shall I be safe?
What is safety? Are you safe in your mountains?
Where am I, here?
Smiling, he points to the doorway. And silent as shadows there come dancing out, two by two, two girls and two youths. The first girl is dressed in white satin and jewels; and the first youth in black velvet. The second girl is in rags, and a shawl; and the second youth in shirt and corduroys. They dance gravely, each couple as if in a world apart.
[Whispering] In the mountains all dance together. Do they never change partners?
How could they, little one? Those are rich, these poor. But see!
A CORYBANTIC COUPLE come dancing forth. The girl has bare limbs. a flame-coloured shift, and hair bound with red flowers; the youth wears a panther-skin. They pursue not only each other. but the other girls and youths. For a moment all is a furious medley. Then the Corybantic Couple vanish into the Inn, and the first two couples are left, slowly, solemnly dancing, apart from each other as before.
[Shuddering] Shall I one day dance like that?
The Youth of THE WINE HORN appears again beneath the lamp. He strikes a loud chord; then as SEELCHEN moves towards that sound the lamp goes out; there is again only blue shadow; but the couples have disappeared into the Inn, and the doorway has grown dark.
Ah! What I do not like, he will not let me see.
Will you not come, then, little soul?
Always to dance?
THE SHUTTERS of the houses are suddenly thrown wide. In a lighted room on one aide of the Inn are seen two pale men and a woman, amongst many clicking machines. On the other side of the Inn, in a forge, are visible two women and a man, but half clothed, making chains.
[Recoiling from both sights, in turn] How sad they look --all! What are they making?
In the dark doorway of the Inn a light shines out, and in it is seen a figure, visible only from the waist up, clad in gold-cloth studded with jewels, with a flushed complacent face, holding in one hand a glass of golden wine.
It is beautiful. What is it?
What is it standing on? I cannot see.
Unseen, THE WINE HORN'S mandolin twangs out.
For that do not look, little soul.
Can it not walk? [He shakes his head] Is that all they make here with their sadness?
But again the mandolin twangs out; the shutters fall over the houses; the door of the Inn grows dark.
What is it, then, you would have? Is it learning? There are books here, that, piled on each other, would reach to the stars! [But SEELCHEN shakes her head] There is religion so deep that no man knows what it means. [But SEELCHEN shakes her head] There is religion so shallow, you may have it by turning a handle. We have everything.
Is God here?
Who knows? Is God with your goats? [But SEELCHEN shakes her head] What then do you want?
The mandolin twangs out.
[Pointing to his breast] There is but one road to life.
Ah! but I do not love.
When a feather dies, is it not loving the wind--the unknown? When the day brings not new things, we are children of sorrow. If darkness and light did not change, could we breathe? Child! To live is to love, to love is to live-seeking for wonder. [And as she draws nearer] See! To love is to peer over the edge, and, spying the little grey flower, to climb down! It has wings; it has flown--again you must climb; it shivers, 'tis but air in your hand--you must crawl, you must cling, you must leap, and still it is there and not there--for the grey flower flits like a moth, and the wind of its wings is all you shall catch. But your eyes shall be shining, your cheeks shall be burning, your breast shall be panting--Ah! little heart! [The scene falls darker] And when the night comes--there it is still, thistledown blown on the dark, and your white hands will reach for it, and your honey breath waft it, and never, never, shall you grasp that wanton thing--but life shall be lovely. [His voice dies to a whisper. He stretches out his arms]
[Touching his breast] I will come.
[Drawing her to the dark doorway] Love me!
The mandolin twangs out, the doorway for a moment is all glamorous; and they pass through. Illumined by the glimmer of the lamp the Youth of THE WINE Hour is seen again. And slowly to the chords of his mandolin he begins to sing:
"The windy hours through darkness fly
Canst hear them little heart?
New loves are born, and old loves die,
And kissing lips must part.
The dusky bees of passing years
Canst see them, soul of mine--
From flower and flower supping tears,
And pale sweet honey wine?
[His voice grown strange and passionate]
O flame that treads the marsh of time.
Flitting for ever low.
Where, through the black enchanted slime.
We, desperate, following go
Untimely fire, we bid thee stay!
Into dark air above.
The golden gipsy thins away--
So has it been with love!"
While he is singing, the moon grows pale, and dies. It falls dark, save for the glimmer of the lamp beneath which he stands. But as his song ends, the dawn breaks over the houses, the lamp goes out--THE WINE HORN becomes shadow. Then from the doorway of the Inn, in the shrill grey light SEELCHEN comes forth. She is pale, as if wan with living; her eyes like pitch against the powdery whiteness of her face.
My heart is old.
But as she speaks, from far away is heard a faint chiming of COWBELLS; and while she stands listening, LAMOND appears in the doorway of the Inn.
You! Always you!
I have new wonders.
I swear it! You have not tired of me, that am never the same? It cannot be.
The chime of THE COWBELLS is heard again.
[Jealously] The music' of dull sleep! Has life, then, with me been sorrow?
I do not regret.
[Pointing-to her breast] The bird is tired with flying. [Touching her lips] The flowers have no dew.
Would you leave me?
There, in a streak of the dawn, against the plane tree is seen the Shepherd of THE COW HORN, standing wrapped in his mountain cloak.
What is it?
There is nothing. [He holds her fast] I have shown you the marvels of my town--the gay, the bitter wonders. We have known life. If with you I may no longer live, then let us die! See! Here are sweet Deaths by Slumber and by Drowning!
The mandolin twangs out, and from the dim doorway of the Inn come forth the shadowy forms. DEATH BY SLUMBER, and DEATH BY DROWNING. who to a ghostly twanging of mandolins dance slowly towards SEELCHEN. stand smiling at her, and as slowly dance away.
[Following] Yes. They are good and sweet.
While she moves towards the Inn. LAMOND'S face becomes transfigured with joy. But just as she reaches the doorway. there is a distant chiming of bells and blowing of pipes, and the Shepherd of THE COW HORN sings:
"To the wild grass come, and the dull far roar
Of the falling rock; to the flowery meads
Of thy mountain home, where the eagles soar,
And the grizzled flock in the sunshine feeds.
To the Alp, where I, in the pale light crowned
With the moon's thin horns, to my pasture roam;
To the silent sky, and the wistful sound
Of the rosy dawns---my daughter, come!"
While HE sings, the sun has risen; and SEELCHEN has turned. with parted lips, and hands stretched out; and the forms of death have vanished.
[Clasping her knees] Little soul! Must I then die, like a gnat when the sun goes down? Without you I am nothing.
[Releasing herself] Poor heart--I am gone!
It is dark. [He covers his face with his cloak].
Then as SEELCHEN reaches the Shepherd of THE COW HORN, there is blown a long note of a pipe; the scene falls back; and there rises a far, continual, mingled sound of Cowbells, and Flower Bells, and Pipes.