Page:Poet Lore, At the Chasm, volume 24, 1913.pdf/21

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Karel.—You could never forgive me, could you?

Cilka.—What are you thinking of?

Karel.—And this duty is not the marble mask of daily custom, but it is the kind expression of your true and faithful love. Say, isn't it?

Cilka.—Just as you say.

Karel.—And our love is just as great and firm as before, if not greater. Is that true?

Cilka.—Yes, greater, because—(her head on his shoulder) I am the mother of your child.

Karel.—Is that also true? (Embracing her.) Then the whole letter is true? But, be it truth or not, does it contain the assurance of your sincere faithfulness, your noble conception of duty—my fortune, that after years we will have a child? (Excited.) But no, no, no, that letter is not true, but its contents are true, that great important sentence, that our duty is our life, that it is our honor and our love at the same time, if we are whole and perfect. And for that I am immensely grateful to you, and will keep that letter as the dearest treasure.

Cilka (in tears).—My dear husband.

(Bohdan enters.)

Bohdan.—Why, are you home already—or did you not go?

Karel.—I was too late for the first act, and you know how pedantic I am in this particular. One second after the rising of the curtain and I lose interest in the entire play, especially if it is a novelty.

Bohdan.—So much the better; I will at least be able to tell you my adventure with Bystrina.

Karel and Cilka.—With Bystrina?

Bohdan (sitting down).—Why, yes, and it's quite out of the ordinary. I went over to the club-house and was in the middle of a brilliant billiard party, when I heard that Bystrina was leaving tonight for Paris. Some old friends of his went to escort him, so I joined them.

Cilka.—So he is gone.

Karel.—Artist like, he has many friends; there is nothing exceptional in that. Well, you went to escort him.

Bohdan.—We thought that he would be surprised and pleased when he saw so many of us together, but we were greatly disappointed; he was almost frightened, and on the way he began to avoid us and hardly noted our greetings.

Karel.—Well, he was always eccentric in everything. Cilka will forgive me this, but I don't know what she herself would call such behavior.

Cilka (very restless).—And what happened? Is he gone?