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       Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Marble Faun
                                A Play in Two Acts
                                                    by
                                       Daniel F. McNeill
                     (Production contact: dmcneillstuff@gmail.com)




                                                                         Act One

(Scene 1. The actor playing Nathaniel Hawthorne appears and walks to the center of the stage. He is dressed in a 19th century type suit with a vest.)


                                                                                                                          
                                                          Nathaniel

Good evening. I’m playing the part of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Tonight I’m going to present with the help of five actors the main scenes of my novel, The Marble Faun. The Marble Faun takes place in Italy in 1858. As usual in my works I contrast good and evil, light and darkness, holiness and sin.

                                                               (Four actors are coming on stage.)

                                                            Miriam

I play Miriam.

                                                              (She is a beautiful, dark-haired woman of 24. She       
                                                               looks at Nathaniel.)

I represent darkness and evil but you make me act and speak for the most part like a good person, even a lovable person.

                                                          Hilda

                                                               (She is a pretty, light-haired girl of 22.)

I play Hilda. I represent goodness and holiness and I love Miriam. She’s my dear friend.

                                                         Miriam

And I love my friend Hilda. But why is it, Nathaniel, that you give me a dark background that remains mysterious throughout your novel because you never explain clearly to your readers what kind of life I led before I settled in Rome as an artist. Also, something in my past  haunts me but whatever it is remains as mysterious as my background.

                                                     Nathaniel

I try not to give evil in my works some precise and exact expression. Think of the witch trials that once took place here in Salem. The men who thought themselves holy and righteous were out to catch evil and put a human face on it. Trying to find evil in others made themselves victims of evil. I did not want, Miriam, my readers to know the details of your background or the exact nature of the evil that haunts you. Instead I gave my readers several possibilities of your life before you settled in Rome and became an artist. Ah, speaking of art here you are three artists and your friend Donatello at the Capitoline museum in Rome admiring Praxiteles statue of a faun.

                                                      Donatello
                                                           
                                                             (He is a handsome man of 22 with long black hair.)

I’m Donatello an Italian. I love Miriam and I love her more than just as a friend. My friends believe I resemble the statue of the faun.

                                                    Kenyon

                                                          (He is 24, intelligent and artistic with a strong           
                                                           presence.)

I’m Kenyon, an American sculptor.You do indeed resemble it..
                                                                   
                                                                  
                                                                  (The picture of the sculpture comes on in the                  
                                                                    background)

                                                     Nathaniel

Here we have four friends, the main characters of my novel, together at the Capitoline museum in Rome.

                                                                  (Nathaniel exits. All look at the picture of the faun.)

                                                                 Miriam

Confess, Kenyon, that you never chiseled out of marble a more vivid likeness than this. The portraiture is perfect in character, sentiment and feature. Our friend Donatello is the very Faun of Praxiteles. Is it not true, Hilda?

                                                               Hilda

Not quite. Almost. Yes, I really think so. If there is any difference between the two faces, the reason may be that the Faun dwelt in woods and fields and consorted with his like whereas Donatello has known cities a little and such people as ourselves. But the resemblance is very close and very strange.

                                                           Miriam

                                                                     (Mischievously)

Not so strange. For no faun in Arcadia was ever a greater simpleton than Donatello. He has hardly a man’s share of wit. It is a pity there are no longer any of this congenial race of rustic creatures for our friend to consort with.

                                                         Hilda

Hush, naughty one. You are very ungrateful for you well know he has wit enough to worship you.

                                                        Miriam

                                                                 (Bitterly)

Then the greater fool he is.

                                                      Hilda

You said that so bitterly, dear Miriam, that it startled me.

                                                         Miriam

I said it bitterly because I was told to say it bitterly to play my role correctly.

                                                                      (Looking off stage, shouting)

Nathaniel. Come here please. I need to know more about the character I’m playing. Why am I bitter because a young man is in love with me?

                                                      Nathaniel

You’re beautiful and generous and kind so that your friends love you. But they don’t know anything about the evil that haunts you.

                                                      Miriam

Tell me the origin of this evil so I can play Miriam with full knowledge. Who am I and where do I come from?

                                                       Nathaniel

I suggest possibilities about where you come from but I never confirm any of them. I write that you might be the daughter of a great Jewish banker and you might have run away from your home to escape marriage with a cousin. I suggest that you might be a German princess who ran away to escape a marriage for reasons of state to an old man. Another possibility is that you’re the wife of an English nobleman who gave up her position in society and ran away to Rome to devote herself to art.

                                                      Miriam

But none of those possibilities explain the evil that haunts me and makes me bitter. What causes it?

                                                      Nathaniel

You are not at all like the faun, Miriam. The faun represents animal-man. He enjoys the warm, earthy side of nature. He revels in the merriment of woods and streams enjoying the wildness and happiness of what human life was perhaps like in its innocent childhood before sin, sorrow, or morality itself had ever been thought of. Look closely at the statue. Do you see that the faun has pointed ears like an animal? You do not have pointed ears, Miriam. The Faun had no conscience, no remorse, no burden on his heart, no troublesome recollections as do you.

                                                        Miriam

What recollections do I have? What darkness lives in my soul?

                                                        Nathaniel

I won’t tell you. I don’t try in my novel to put your evil on trial before my readers so they can examine it in all its details and decide you’re a witch. Try to be merry as best you can like the faun. Evil and darkness surround all of us. It’s best not to dwell upon evil and escape it as best we can by seeking light. Look at Donatello. Play with him and see if your play can change the darkness in your soul to light.
                                                                  
                                                             (Nathaniel walks quickly off stage.)

                                                       Miriam

Donatello, do not leave us in this perplexity. Shake aside those brown curls, my friend and let us see if this marvelous resemblance extends to the very tips of your ears.

                                                                    (She reaches playfully towards his head. He skips
                                                                      quickly a few steps away.)

                                                     Donatello

No, no, dearest signorina. I beg you to take for granted that I have tips to my ears like the faun.
                        
                                                                    (As he speaks, he skips away from her          
                                                                     outstretched hand.)

I shall become like a wolf of the Apennine mountains if you touch my ears ever so softly.

                                                  Miriam

Your tender point, your two tender points if you have tips to your ears, shall be safe as far as I am concerned. But how strange this likeness is and how delightful if it really includes pointed ears. What is this nameless charm I feel, Hilda, associating a simple man like Donatello with a rustic creature living on the verge of nature and yet within it?

                                                       Hilda

It perplexes me. Neither do I quite like to think about it.
                                                        
                                                                Kenyon

But surely you agree with Miriam and me that there is something very touching and impressive in this statue of a faun. In some long-past age he must really have existed. Nature needed and still  needs this beautiful creature standing between man and animal sympathizing with each. What a pity he has forever vanished from the hard and dusty paths of life unless Donatello be actually he.

                                                      Miriam

Imagine a real being similar to this mythic faun. How happy, how genial, how satisfactory would be his life. He would have no dark past, no dark future and he would never know suffering or remorse or sin.

                                                     Kenyon

What a tragic tone you’ve taken. How suddenly this dark mood has come over you.

                                                     Miriam

Let it go as it came like a thunder shower in this Roman sky. All is sunshine again.

                                                                    (Donatello has come close to her with concern.
                                                                      He takes her hand gazing silently into her eyes
                                                                       somewhat like a pet dog. She gives him a kind  
                                                                       of caress, a tap of the fingers as a mark of                     
                                                                       fondness such as one might give a pet. It gives
                                                                       him exquisite pleasure and he begins dancing
                                                                       all around showing his delight.)

It is the very step of the dancing faun. What a child or what a simpleton he is. How old should you think him, Hilda?

                                                   Hilda

Twenty years perhaps but indeed I can not tell. He has nothing to do with time but has a look of eternal youth on his face.

                                                   Miriam

                                                                    (Scornfully)

All people with no wit have that look. What age have you Donatello?
                                                                      
                                                                 (He has stopped dancing and come near her.)
                                                  
                                                    Donatello

Signorina, I do not know. No great age however for I have only lived since I met you.

                                                   Miriam

What a happy ignorance you have not to know your age. It is equivalent to being immortal on earth. If only I could forget mine.

                                                 Kenyon

It is too soon to wish that. You are scarcely older than Donatello looks.

                                                Miriam

I shall be happy then if I could only forget one day of all my life.

                                                                 (The strange man appears. He has a mustache
                                                                   and a beard and is dressed casually as the
                                                                   others. Donatello spots him and walks towards                                        
                                                                   him with an angry expression. The man stands
                                                                   near  the right entrance. Donatello
                                                                   stops at a short distance and stares at him
                                                                   menacingly. Miriam speaks after a few moments
                                                                   of silence to Hilda with Kenyon listening.)

Do you know, I doubt the reality of this likeness of Donatello to the faun. Truthfully, it never struck me so forcibly as it did Kenyon and yourself although I was pleased to fancy it for a while.

                                              Hilda

I was certainly in earnest and you seemed equally so.

                                                               (She looks at Donatello at a distance facing the            
                                                                strange man.)

But faces change so much from hour to hour. And look how sad and sombre Donatello has grown all of a sudden.

                                                         Miriam

It is anger much more than sadness. I have seen Donatello in this mood once or twice before. If you look well, you can observe an odd mixture of the bulldog, or some other equally fierce brute in our friend’s composition, a trait of savageness hardly to be expected in such a gentle creature as he usually is. Donatello is a very strange young man. I wish he would not haunt my footsteps so continually.

                                                         Kenyon

                                                                           (With a laugh)

You have bewitched the poor lad. You have a faculty of bewitching people and it is providing you with an unusual train of followers. I see another of them over there, that strange man. It is his presence that has aroused Donatello’s anger,

                                                        Hilda

                                                                          (A little startled looking at the strange man)

Miriam, that strange man looks like one of your models.

                                                                          (Lights out)

(Scene 2. Nathaniel appears.)

                                                     Nathaniel

A strange man, the same man who appeared in the previous scene and drew Donatello’s anger, haunts Miriam’s footsteps. He sometimes vanishes for a few days but he always reappears, gliding after her through the narrow streets of Rome or climbing the steps up to her artist’s studio and sitting at her threshold. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why does he haunt her footsteps? That must remain a mystery. But let us go now to below ground with our four friends and visit the dark and gloomy catacombs that they had visited before the scene at the museum that we just saw.. There is where Miriam wandering alone in the darkness met by fate the strange man who became her model and haunts her footsteps ever after.  

                                                                   ( The lights go out completely. Then the light              
                                                                     illuminates only a third of the stage to the right.        
                                                                     The four friends are nearly invisible in
                                                                     the darkness of two thirds of the stage left.)

                                                      Hilda

How dismal all this is. I do not know why we came here, nor why we should stay a moment longer.

                                                        Donatello

I hate it all. Dear friends, let us hasten back up into the blessed daylight.

                                                       Miriam

What a child you are, poor Donatello. You are afraid of ghosts.

                                                      Donatello

Yes, signorina, terribly afraid.

                                                     Miriam

I also believe in ghosts and could tremble at them in a suitable place. But these tombs are so old and these skulls and ashes so dry that I think they have ceased to be haunted. The most awful idea of these catacombs is their endless extent and the possibility of getting lost in this labyrinth of darkness.

                                                   Kenyon

                                                           (He and Donatello and Hilda reach the lighted area.)

They say a pagan of old Rome hid out here to spy out and betray the blessed saints who then dwelt and worshipped in these dismal places. They say a miracle happened to the accursed pagan and he has been wandering here ever since for 16 centuries groping in the darkness seeking a way out of the catacombs.

                                                              
                                                              (As he talks, Miriam walks away into the darkness.
                                                               The three do not notice at once her absence.)

                                                Hilda

I wonder if he has ever been seen. But since we have reached this holy underground chapel, it’s certain he’ll never appear here.

                                                           (A pause. She looks about.)

Why, where is Miriam?

                                               Kenyon

Surely she can not be lost. It is but a few moments since she was speaking.

                                               Hilda

                                                         (Greatly alarmed)

She was behind us and it is a while since we have heard her voice.

                                                   Donatello

I will get a torch and seek her, be the darkness ever so dismal.

                                                            (Kenyon holds him back.)

                                                     Kenyon

Don’t leave with a torch. The only way we can help her is by shouting as loud as possible. There’s a good chance that our sounds will go very far along these narrow passages and hearing them, Miriam can retrace her steps.

                                                           (They all start shouting for a long time.
                                                             At last they hear a call in a female voice.)

                                                    Donatello

It was the signorina.

                                                     Hilda

Yes, it was certainly dear Miriam’s voice. And here she comes. Thank heaven.

                                                            (Miriam comes forward into the light.
                                                             She is not elated to see them and seems
                                                             absorbed in thought and self-concentrated.)

Dearest, dearest, Miriam.

                                                           (She throws her arms around Miriam.)

Where have you been straying from us? Blessed be God’s Providence which has rescued you out of that miserable darkness.

                                                 Miriam

Hush, dear Hilda.

                                                      (She makes a strange little laugh.)

Are you quite sure it was heaven’s guidance that brought me back? If so, it was by an odd messenger, as you must admit. See. There he stands.

                                                   (The strange man appears at the very edge of the light.
                                                     Kenyon goes towards him to get a close look.
                                                     He wears a large cloak of leather and a pair of goatskin              
                                                     breeches. He has a conical, wide-brimmed hat above
                                                     a wild expression on a face with a mustache and beard.)

                                                Kenyon

What are you? And how long have you been wandering here?

                                                 Donatello

                                                      (Alarmed)

It is a phantom. Ah, dearest signora, what a fearful thing has beset you in these dark corridors.

                                                 Kenyon

Nonsense, Donatello. The man is no more a phantom than yourself. The only marvel is how he comes to be hiding himself in the catacombs.

                                                      (The strange man approaches just a step and lays his   
                                                       hand on Kenyon’s arm.)

                                              The Strange Man

                                                       (In a hoarse and harsh voice)

Inquire not what I am, nor wherefore I abide in the darkness. Henceforth I am nothing but a shadow behind her footsteps. She came to me just now in a dark corridor when I sought her naught. She has called me forth and must abide the consequences of my reappearance in the world.

                                                       (All lights out)

                                                           

(Scene 3. Nathaniel appears in regular stage light.)

                                                     Nathaniel

You saw in our last scene the stage all in darkness except that one section was full of light. That light represented for this our stage production a Christian chapel in the catacombs. The contrast between the darkness, a symbol of evil, and the light in the Christian chapel, a symbol of holiness, will help me to explain to you Hilda’s character. Hilda is my creation of a modern, 19th-century holy woman.

                                                            (Darkness suddenly and then the same light as in the
                                                              previous scene with Hilda standing motionless in    
                                                              the light.)

Miriam wandered lost in the darkness of the catacombs. Donatello was ready to rush off into the darkness. The strange man appeared with Miriam from the darkness of the catacombs and stood at the edge of the light but not in it. Kenyon moved close to him so we can believe he would have entered the darkness if necessary. Hilda however remained in the light. She is a creature of light. She is a New England girl with a pure and holy spirit.

                                                          Hilda

I am an artist like Miriam. But she paints dark and sorrowful scenes of human tragedy in her studio. I have given up my ideal of painting scenes of everyday life. Instead I set up my easel in various museums and churches in Rome and copy the masters of Italian painting who expressed the divine in their works. I do not just copy their works mechanically as do other copyists. I am truly happy only when something stirs in my soul that gives me a feeling of being close to God. Copying the masters and expressing the divine in the painting that is the result fills my heart with genuine religious inspiration.

                                                   Nathaniel

Hilda lives in rooms at the very top of an old tower. Near her window on the tower is a statue of the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that the building will collapse if her flame ever goes out. Hilda tends the flame, a Christian virgin acting somewhat like the Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome who tended the sacred, eternal fire in Vesta’s temple.

                                                                   (The light on Hilda goes out. Normal stage light.
                                                                     Miriam appears.)

Lets listen to the two friends as they talk up high in the tower where my saintly virgin Hilda lives.

                                                                 (He exits.)

                                                            Miriam

What a hermitage you have found for yourself, dear Hilda. You breathe sweet air above all the evil scents of Rome. In your maiden elevation you dwell above our vanities and passions, our moral dust and mud with the doves and the angels for your nearest neighbors. I should not wonder if the Catholics were to make a saint of you especially as you have almost avowed yourself of their religion by keeping the fire going in the lamp before the Virgin Mary’s shrine.

                                                       Hilda

No,no, Miriam. You must not call me a Catholic. A Christian girl, a daughter of the New England Puritans, may surely pay honor to the idea of divine womanhood without giving up the faith of her forefathers. But how kind you are to climb all the way up to my dovecote.

                                                      Miriam

It is no trifling proof of friendship. I should think there were three hundred stairs at least.

                                                     Hilda

But it will do you good. The air at this height of fifty feet above the roofs of Rome so exhilarates my spirits that sometimes I feel half inclined to attempt a flight from the top of my tower in the faith that I would float upward.

                                                     Miriam

                                                               (Laughing)

Please don’t try it. If it should turn out that you are less than an angel, you would find the stones of the Roman pavement very hard. And if an angel, I am afraid you would never come down among us again.

                                                               (A pause)

But how lucky that you are home today. I have a favor to ask you, a commission to put into your charge.

                                                              (An easel is carried out and set up as she talks. It is
                                                               set with its back to the audience. Miriam discovers
                                                               a painting on it and examines it.}

But what picture is this?

                                                            Hilda

Examine it. I wanted your opinion of it.

                                                           Miriam

I recognize it at once. It’s a copy of Guido’s Beatrice Cenci. If your copy has succeeded, it will be the greatest miracle you have yet achieved.

                                                               (Silence as she studies the copy on the easel. A full      
                                                                enlarged copy of Guido’s masterpiece comes up in
                                                                the rear, the face of a beautiful girl.)

Yes, Hilda, you have done nothing so wonderful as this. But how have you obtained leave to copy Guido’s masterpiece? It’s owner, Prince Barberini, has never allowed anyone to sit before it and copy it. The impossibility of getting a genuine copy has filled the Roman picture shops with Beatrices gay, grievous or coquettish, but never a true one among them.

                                                            Hilda

I had no resource but to sit down before the picture, day after day, and let it sink into my heart. I do believe it is now photographed there. It is a sad face to keep so close to one’s heart. Only what is so very  beautiful can never be quite a pain. Well, after studying it this way, I know not how many times, I came home, and have done my best to transfer the image to canvas.

                                                          Miriam

Here it is then. Everywhere we see oil paintings, crayon sketches, cameos, engravings pretending to be Beatrice's and representing the poor girl with blubbered eyes, a leer of coquetry, a merry look as if she were dancing, a piteous look as if she were beaten, and twenty other modes of fantastic mistake. But here is Guido’s very Beatrice, she that slept in a dungeon and awoke to walk up onto a scaffold to be hung. And now that you have done it, Hilda, can you interpret what the feeling is that gives the picture such a mysterious force? For my part, though deeply sensible to its influence, I cannot seize it.

                                                          Hilda

She knows that her sorrow is so strange and so immense that she ought to be solitary forever. This is the reason we feel such a distance between Beatrice and ourselves when our eyes meet hers. It is infinitely heartbreaking to meet her glance and to feel that nothing can be done to help or comfort her. She does not ask for help or comfort knowing the hopelessness of her case better than we do. She is a fallen angel, fallen and yet sinless. And it is only this depth of sorrow, with its weight and darkness, that keeps her down upon the earth and brings her within our view even while it sets her beyond our reach.

                                                       Miriam

You deem her sinless? That is not so plain to me. She gazes so strangely and sadly at us that Beatrice’s own conscience seems to me not to be free of something evil and never  to be forgotten,

                                                     Hilda

Sorrow as black and deep as hers oppresses her very nearly as sin would.

                                                    Miriam

Do you think then that there was no sin in the deed for which she suffered?

                                                     Hilda

                                                            (Shuddering)

I really had quite forgotten Beatrice’s story. I was thinking of her only as the picture seems to reveal her character. Yes, yes, it was terrible guilt, an inexpiable crime and she feels it to be so. That is why the forlorn creature so longs to elude our eyes and forever vanish into nothingness. Her doom is just.

                                                  Miriam

Hilda, your innocence is like a sharp steel sword. Your judgments are often terribly severe even though you seem all made up of gentleness and mercy. Beatrice’s sin may not have been so great. Perhaps it was no sin at all but the best virtue possible in the circumstances. If she viewed it as a sin, it may have been because her nature was too feeble for the fate imposed upon her.

                                                                (Suddenly very passionate)

Ah, if I could only get within her consciousness, if I could but clasp Beatrice’s ghost and draw it into myself. I would give my life to know whether she thought herself innocent or the one great criminal since time began.

                                                Hilda

My god, Miriam, I observed as you said that that your expression became almost exactly that of the portrait as though for a moment at least your struggle to penetrate poor Beatrice’s mystery had been successful. Ah, but now you are yourself again.

                                                               (Hilda kisses her.)

                                                                Miriam

Cover up your magical picture then or else I will never be able to look away from it. It is so strange, dear Hilda, how an innocent, delicate, white soul like yours has been able to seize the subtle mystery of this portrait, but we will not talk of it anymore. I have come to you this morning on a small matter of business. Will you undertake it for me?

                                                                  Hilda

Oh, certainly, if you choose to trust me with business.

                                                                 Miriam

Take charge of this packet and keep it for me a while.

                                                                 Hilda

But why not keep it yourself?

                                                         Miriam

Partly because it will be safer in your charge. It may be I shall not ask you for it again. In a week or two I am leaving Rome to escape the summer heat. Four months from now, unless you hear from me again, I would have you deliver the packet according to the address.

                                                     Hilda

It’s for Luca Barboni at the palazzo Cenci. I will deliver it four months from today unless you bid me not to. Perhaps I shall meet the ghost of Beatrice in that grim old palace of her forefathers.

                                                     Miriam

Then do not fail to speak to her and win her confidence. Poor thing, she would be all the better for pouring out her heart freely. It irks my brain and heart to think of her all shut up within herself.

                                                            (She moves before the easel examining it again.)

Poor sister Beatrice. For she was still a woman, Hilda, still a sister, even with her sin or her sorrow. If a woman had painted the original picture, there might have been something in it which we miss now. I have a great mind to undertake a copy myself and try to give it what it lacks. Well. good-bye. I’m off for a walk on the grounds of the Villa Borghese. Will you come with me?

                                                 Hilda

Ah, not today, dearest Miriam. I have set my heart on giving another touch or two to this picture.

                                                  Miriam

Farewell, then. I leave you in your dovecote. What a sweet, strange life you lead here, conversing with the souls of the old master painters, feeding and fondling your sister doves and tending the Virgin Mary’s lamp. Hilda, do you ever pray to the Virgin while you tend her shrine?

                                                        Hilda

Sometimes I have been moved to do so. She was a woman once. Do you think it would be wrong?

                                                 Miriam

Nay, that is for you to judge. But when you pray next, dear friend, remember me.

                                                          (She walks off the stage leaving Hilda alone.)

                                                   (Lights out)

(Scene 4. A large image of the gardens of the Villa Borghese park in Rome appears. There is a Roman building with classical columns, trees, a body of water. Nathaniel comes on stage with regular light. )

                                                   Nathaniel

This is an image of the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome, a wonderful park full of beautiful trees, classical-style buildings, fountains streaming into marble basins and delightful walkways. Donatello is already there waiting for Miriam. He is so delighted to walk about in these grounds that in his excitement he dances about happily like the wild, sweet, playful, rustic creature, the faun to whose marble image I have compared him. He is up in a tree when he sees Miriam walking below. He jumps down.

                                                              (Nathaniel exits. Miriam appears right and starts                
                                                               walking across the stage followed by Donatello.)
                                                   

                                                     Miriam

                                                              (She stops and turns as he comes up behind her.)

I hardly know  whether you have sprouted out of the earth or fallen from the clouds. In either case you are welcome.

                                                             (The two walk side by side from one end of the
                                                              stage to the other and turn back and continue             
                                                              walking from one end to the other stopping
                                                              occasionally  and gesturing as they walk and talk.)

What are you, my friend? If you are a faun, make me known to your kindred. Knock on that tree and summon forth from within the dryad. Ask a water nymph to rise dripping from yonder fountain. Even if a hairy satyr should come capering on his goat legs and ask me to dance, don’t fear that I will shrink from dancing. Perhaps Bacchus will meet us as we walk and squeeze rich grapes into his cup for you and me.

                                                        (A pause. She stops and looks at him closely. He stands         
                                                         before her smiling broadly.)

Donatello, you seem very happy. What makes you so?

                                                        Donatello

Because I love you.

                                                       Miriam

Why should you love me, foolish boy? We have no points of sympathy at all. There are not two creatures more unlike in this wide world than you and I.

                                                      Donatello

You are yourself and I am Donatello. Therefore I love you. There needs no other reason.

                                                      Miriam

If you were wiser, Donatello, you would think me a dangerous person. If you follow my footsteps, they will lead you to no good. You ought to fear me.

                                                      (She begins again walking. He follows her quickly.)

                                                   Donatello

I would as soon think of fearing the air we breathe.

                                                    Miriam

                                                       (As she walks. In a harsh voice.)

Those who come too near me are in danger of great mischiefs. It is a sad fatality that has brought you from your pleasant home among the Apennine mountains to my side. You have had a happy life up till now, have you not?

                                                  Donatello
                                                       ( He darts forward and about her playfully dancing
                                                          as he speaks)

I have danced with peasant girls at village feasts. I have tasted new sweet wines. I have devoured great luscious figs and apricots, peaches, cherries and melons. I have been very happy in the woods too with hounds and horses and very happy  watching all sorts of creatures and birds that haunt the leafy solitudes. But never half so happy as now.

                                                  Miriam

In this beautiful place with its delightful groves?

                                                 Donatello

Here and with you. Just as we are now.

                                                  Miriam

But, Donatello, how long will this happiness last?

                                                  Donatello

How long? Why should it have any end? How long? Forever. Forever. Forever.

                                                 Miriam

For your own sake leave me. It is not such a happy thing as you imagine it to wander in these woods with me, a girl from another land, burdened with a doom that she tells to no one. I might make you fear me, perhaps hate me, if I choose, and I must choose, if I find you loving me too well.

                                              Donatello

I fear nothing. I love always.

                                                       (They are at one edge and turn. The strange man             
                                                         appears and stands at the other edge. The two
                                                         see him and stop.)

                                               Miriam

                                                        (In a very commanding voice.)

You must leave me. Go and look not behind you.

                                              Donatello

                                                       (He grasps her hand forcibly.)

Who is it that stands yonder beckoning you to follow him?

                                              Miriam

Hush. Leave me. Your hour has past. His hour has come.

                                               Donatello

I hate him.

                                               Miriam

Be satisfied. I hate him too.

                                            Donatello

                                                        (In a savage voice, reacting to Miriam’s pain.)

Shall I clutch him by the throat? Bid me do so and we are rid of him forever.

                                             Miriam

In heaven’s name, no violence. Have pity on me, but follow me no farther. Henceforth leave me to my doom.

                                                          Donatello

Not follow you? What other path have I?

                                                     Miriam

We will talk of it once again, soon, tomorrow, when you will.

                                                     (She pushes him towards the exit left.)

Please leave me now.

                                                   (The strange man has been standing two steps
                                                    from the right exit looking at them. He
                                                    does not move. Miriam now alone takes five
                                                    steps towards him and stops. The two stand
                                                    motionless in silence looking at each other.
                                                   Nathaniel comes on stage left. They do not
                                                   move as he speaks.)

                                                  Nathaniel

There is a moral estrangement, a wholly unsympathetic estrangement, a chilling remoteness between Miriam and this sinister person who has dogged her footsteps ever since her visit to the catacombs. Between them many words of deep significance, many entire sentences, and those possibly the most important ones, have flown too far away on the winged breeze for me to recover. But I must at least present to you some of their words to one another even if they are not the most important ones so that my story may not arrive at certain inevitable catastrophes without due warning of their imminence.

                                                    (He is silent and looks at them a long time. They do not
                                                      move.)

There is a sadly mysterious fascination in the influence of this ill-omened person over Miriam. It is such as beasts and reptiles of subtle and evil nature sometimes exercise upon their victims. Miriam is hopelessly enslaved by him. Her slavery must have been forged in some unholy furnace that is only kindled by evil passions and fed by evil deeds.

                                                        (He walks off-stage. The strange man takes three steps                        
                                                         forward and stops. Miriam does not move.The two      
                                                         begin speaking.)

                                                       Miriam

You follow me too closely. You allow me too scanty room to draw my breath. Do you know what will be the end of this?

                                                     Model

I know well what must be the end.

                                                    Miriam

Tell me then that I may compare your foreboding with my own. Mine is a very dark one.

                                                    Model

There can be but one result and that soon. You must throw off your present mask and assume another. You must vanish out of the scene, quit Rome with me and leave no trace whereby to follow you. It is in my power, as you well know, to compel your acquiescence in my bidding. You are aware of the penalty of a refusal.

                                                  Miriam

There is another penalty than yours that may be not so grievous.

                                                   Model

What is the other?

                                                    Miriam

Death. Simply death.

                                                    Model

Death is not so simple and opportune a thing as you imagine. You are strong and warm with life. Sensitive and irritable as your spirit is, these many months of trouble, this slavery in which I hold you, have scarcely made your cheek paler than I saw it in your girlhood. Miriam, for I will not use another name that would make these leaves above our heads shiver, Miriam you cannot die.

                                                 Miriam

Might not a dagger find my heart? Would not poison make an end of me? Will not the Tiber drown me?

                                                 Model

It might for I allow that you are mortal. But, Miriam, believe me, it is not your fate to die while there remains so much to be sinned and suffered in the world. We have a destiny that we must needs fulfill together. I too have struggled to escape it. I was as anxious as yourself to break the tie between us, to make it impossible that we should ever meet and what was the result? Our strange meeting in the catacombs that day in the bowels of the earth convinced me of the futility of my design to escape from you.

                                               Miriam

What a fatal chance meeting!

                                                            Model

Your heart trembled with horror when you recognized me but you did not guess that there was an equal horror in mine own.

                                                           Miriam

                                                                   (With a cry)

Why would not the weight of the earth above our heads have crumbled down upon us both, forcing us apart, but burying us equally? I wish we could have wandered in those dismal passages until we both perished, taking opposite paths in the darkness so that when we lay down to die our last breaths might not mingle.

                                                       Model

It were vain to wish it. In all that labyrinth of midnight, we would have found one another out to live or die together. Our fates cross and are entangled. The threads of our fate are twisted into a strong cord which is dragging us to an evil doom. We can neither of us untie these knots that bind us. We must submit.

                                                     Miriam

                                                              (With a shout)

Pray for rescue as I have. Pray for deliverance from me since I am your evil genius, as you are mine. Dark as your life has been, I have known you to pray in times past. I would not give you pain. Your Catholic faith allows you the consolations of penance and absolution. Try what help there may be in these and leave me to myself.

                                                  Model

Do not think it, Miriam. We are bound together and can never part.

                                                   Miriam

Why should it seem so impossible? Think how I had escaped from all the past. I had made for myself a new sphere, and found new friends, new occupations, new hopes and enjoyments. My heart was almost unburdened as if there had been no miserable life behind me. Let us keep apart and all may go well for both.

                                                  Model

We fancied ourselves forever separated yet we met in the bowels of the catacombs and were we to part now, our fates would fling us together again in a desert, on a mountaintop, or in whatever spot seemed safest.

                                                      Miriam

You mistake your own will for an iron necessity. Otherwise you might have allowed me to glide past you like a ghost in the catacombs when we met among those ghosts of ancient days. Even now you might bid me pass as freely.

                                                     Model

                                                          (Strongly)

Never. Your reappearance has destroyed the work of years. You know the power I have over you. Obey my bidding or within a short time it will be exercised. I will not cease to haunt you until the moment comes.

                                                     Miriam

Then I foresee the end and have already warned you of it. It will be death.

                                                    Model

Your own death, Miriam, or mine?

                                                    Miriam

                                                        (Shuddering)

Do you imagine me a murderess? You at least have no right to think me so.

                                                   Model

Yet men have said that this white hand of yours had once a reddish stain.

                                                     (He takes her hand and holds it up to the
                                                      light as she struggles with repugnance to
                                                      regain it.)

It looks very white but I have known hands as white which all the water in the ocean would not have washed clean.

                                                       Miriam

                                                           (Bitterly)

I had no stain on my hand until you grasped it in your own.

                                                         (They exit right, Miriam following the Model.
                                                            Nathaniel appears left watching them leave.)

                                                     Nathaniel

They went together towards the town and on their way continued to make reference to some strange and dreadful history of their former life belonging equally to this strange dark man and to the fair and youthful woman whom he persecuted.

                                                    (Lights out)
(Scene 5. Nathaniel comes on stage.)

                                                    Nathaniel

It is a night in Rome when the moonlight is resplendent. Our four friends are at a gathering of artists and sculptors. They examine a sketch of Guido’s picture of the Archangel Michael setting his foot upon the demon. They express various opinions about the sketch and then agree to meet the following morning to examine the original work in the Church of the Cappuccini. A little past ten o’clock, members of their company propose they all take a ramble through the streets among the ruins of Rome which produce their best results under the full Italian moon. Donatello as usual is at Miriam’s side. They reach the piazza containing the grand fountain of Trevi. Miriam leans over the water and the moon flings her shadow to the bottom of the basin. But she sees there as well as her shadow two more shadows of people who had followed her standing one on either side of her.

                                                            (A picture of the fountain of Trevi comes up.
                                                             Nathaniel exits. Miriam appears and at the
                                                             center, turns her back to the audience and leans       
                                                             forward. Donatello comes up beside her, stands      
                                                             beside on her right and leans forward. The
                                                             model comes up at the same time and leans
                                                             forward standing beside her at her left.)
                               

                                                         Miriam

                                                         (Looking forward and down as though at the water.
                                                          With a shout)

Three shadows. Three separate shadows, all so black and heavy that they sink in the water. There they lie at the bottom as if all three were drowned together. This shadow at my right is Donatello. I know him by his curls and the turn of his head. My left-handed companion puzzles me, a shapeless mass, as indistinct as the premonition in my mind of calamity.
                                                         
                                                       (She leans back straight and turns to the left.)

Ah.

                                                         (The model leans back straight and faces her.
                                                           Donatello stands straight and turns standing
                                                           three feet away facing him.)

In the name of all the saints, vanish demon and let me be free of you now and forever.

                                                         Donatello

Tell me to drown him. You shall hear his death gurgle in another instant.

                                                         Miriam

Peace, peace, Donatello. Do him no mischief. He is mad and we are as mad as he if we let ourselves be disturbed by his antics. Be peaceful, foolish boy.

                                                          (The model leans forward again. Miriam and Donatello
                                                            move a few feet away and stand facing each other.)

                                                       Donatello

Signorina, do I look as when you first knew me? I think there has been a change upon me these many months, and more and more these last few days. The joy has gone out of my life. It is gone, all gone. Feel my hand.
                                                                (He offers his hand and she holds it a moment.)

Is it not very hot? Ah, and my heart burns hotter still.

                                                        Miriam

My poor Donatello, you are ill. This melancholy and sickly Rome is stealing away the rich, joyous life that belongs to you. Go back, my dear friend, to your home among the hills where your days were filled with simple and blameless delights. Tell me truly, Donatello, have you found anything in the world that is worth what you there enjoyed?

                                                     Donatello

Yes.

                                                       Miriam

And what, in Heaven’s name, have you found?

                                                     Donatello

This burning pain in my heart of love because you are always in the middle of it.

                                                      (Darkness)

(Scene 6. Nathaniel on stage.)

The group wanders through streets in the moonlight and enters the Coliseum. They sit some on a fallen column, some on a pagan altar or the steps of a Christian shrine, enjoying the moonlight and the shadows. Youths and maidens are running merry races and playing at hide-and-seek in the very area of the Coliseum where so many gladiators and wild beasts had once fought and died.  A Christian cross is in the center and a circle of shrines. A man, dressed as a monk, is going round the whole circle of shrines on his knees praying at each one with great fervency. When he came close to the area where Miriam was sitting. he turned towards her and she recognized him.

                                                               ( A classical arch appears.Miriam comes out right       
                                                                 and stands before it with a distraught look.)

It was the strange man, the model. Miriam got up from her seat  and shrunk back away from her friends into the obscurity of a dark arch.

                                                           (Miriam begins to gesticulate extravagantly, gnashing   
                                                             her teeth,flinging her arms wildly abroad, stamping
                                                             her foot unaware that Donatello appears right,
                                                             stops and watches her with deep concern.)

                                                        Nathaniel

                                                            (Looking all the while at Miriam.)

Miriam does not scream but she has lost her self-control. We may now consider  that Miriam is a mad woman, that she is concentrating the elements of a long insanity into these few instants. Donatello recognizes the full depth of her insanity.

                                                           (Nathaniel exits. Donatello approaches her.)

                                                     Donatello

                                                            (Shouting)

Signorina. Signorina. Have pity on me. The way you seem to be suffering is too terrible for me.

                                                   Miriam

How dare you look at me. Men have been struck dead for a less offense.

                                                   Donatello

                                                         (Humbly)

If you desire it or need it, I shall not be loath to die.

                                                   Miriam

                                                         (She moves close to him.)

Donatello, if you love yourself, if you desire those earthly blessings such as you of all men were made for, if you would come to a good old age among your olive orchards and your Tuscan vines, if you would leave children to enjoy the same peaceful, happy, innocent life, then flee from me. Look not behind you. Get you gone without another word.

                                                   
                                                      ( A long pause. He looks steadily at her without moving.)

I tell you there is great evil hanging over me. I know it. I see it in the sky. I feel it in the air. It will overwhelm me as utterly as if this arch should crumble down upon our heads.
It will crush you too if you stand at my side. Depart then and make the sign of the cross, as your faith bids you, when an evil spirit is near. Cast me off or you are lost forever.

                                                    Donatello

                                                              (With a new deeper feeling, with new dignity)

I will never leave you. You cannot drive me from you.

                                                    Miriam

                                                              (In a milder tone, sympathetic)

Is there no other that seeks me out, follows me, is obstinate to share my affection and my doom but only you? They call me beautiful and I used to fancy that I could bring the whole world to my feet. Here now is my greatest need and my beauty and my gifts have brought me only you, a poor, simple boy. You are fit for nothing but to be happy, but I accept your help. Tomorrow, tomorrow I will tell you everything. But what a sin it will be to stain your joyous nature with the blackness of a woe like mine.

                                                                (Darkness)

(Scene 7. Nathaniel appears.)

                                                        Nathaniel

The group leaves the Coliseum and wanders through the Roman forum and then up to the top of the Capitoline hill which is next to the forum. At the top they enter a courtyard and discover they have reached one side of the Tarpeian Rock. The four friends lean over the edge of a cliff and see that there is a steep plunge straight downward onto a stone-paved court.

                                                            (He exits.)

                                                              Hilda

                                                               (The four are gathered at the right looking
                                                                towards the exit and down as though they
                                                                were at the edge of a cliff.)

What a beautiful view of the city.

                                                         Kenyon

It was from this point that many a famous Roman caught his last glimpse of his native city. This is one of the sides of the Tarpeian Rock where traitors and criminals were thrown down to their death.

                                                       Hilda

It’s midnight and I don’t like being at the edge of a precipice. I’m off for home.

                                                     Kenyon

Then I’m off too to accompany you.

                                                    Miriam

Good night, dear friends. Until tomorrow morning at the church of the Cappuccini.

                                                  
                                                              (Donatello and Miriam have moved away from
                                                               the edge of the cliff towards Hilda and Kenyon.
                                                               They exchange goodbyes and Donatello and
                                                               Miriam again go to the edge of the cliff at the
                                                                right exit as though looking over.)

It would be a fatal fall. A human body would fall heavily enough upon those stones
to shake all its joints asunder.

                                                            (Silence. They move back towards the center
                                                             of the stage.)

What are you thinking?

                                                 Donatello

Who are they who have been flung over that cliff in days gone by?

                                                   Miriam

Men that cumbered the world. Men whose lives were the bane of their fellow creatures. Men who poisoned the air, which belongs to everybody, for their own selfish purposes.

                                                              (The model appears right dressed in monk’s clothes.
                                                                He stops and watches them with a smile. They
                                                                 do not notice him.)

There was short work with such men in Roman times. A hand, like the hand of an
avenging giant, clutched them, and dashed the wretches down that precipice.

                                                         Donatello

Was it well done?

                                                         Miriam

It was well done. Innocent persons were saved by the destruction of a guilty one who deserved his doom.

                                                            (Miriam turns as she speaks and sees the model.
                                                             Just at that moment Hilda enters left and stops
                                                             looking on. Donatello turns following Miriam’s
                                                             turn of the head and discovers the Model. He
                                                             rushes to him, overpowers him holding him
                                                             wrapped in his arms. He pulls him towards the
                                                             edge near the exit to throw him off the cliff but stops   
                                                            just before doing it and looks a few moments
                                                             at Miriam steadily. She looks back at him steadily.
                                                             Then he moves the model towards the
                                                              edge and pushes him violently out of sight.
                                                              Hilda turns and exits left. Donatello leaves
                                                              the edge, walks over and stops facing
                                                              Miriam.)

                                                          Miriam

                                                              (Horror-stricken)

What have you done?

                                                         Donatello

I did what ought to be done to a traitor. I did what your eyes bade me to do when I asked them with mine as I held the wretch over the precipice.

                                                       Miriam    

And my eyes bade you do it.

                                                            (Silence. Both walk to the edge and look over
                                                             the precipice.)

You have killed him, Donatello. He is quite dead. Stone dead. Would that I were too.

                                                           (They move back away from the edge.)

                                                    Donatello

                                                          (He has a new manly voice as he glows with a new                         
                                                           deeper intelligence because of his passion.)

Did you not mean that he should die? There was short time to weigh the matter but he had his trial in those few moments while I held him over the cliff. He had his death sentence in that one glance when your eyes responded to mine. Say that I have slain him against your will, say that he died without your whole consent, and in another moment you will see me lying dead beside him.

                                                    Miriam

                                                          (Full of excitement and passion)

Oh, never. My one own friend. Never, never, never.

                                                           (She throws her arms around him and presses
                                                            him close with all her strength. Their hearts
                                                             are together so that the horror and agony
                                                             of each combines into one emotion, a rapture.)

Yes, Donatello. You speak the truth. My heart consented to what you did. We both
slew the wretch. The deed knots us together for time and eternity like the coil of a serpent.  

                                                          (They hold the embrace in silence. Nathaniel
                                                            appears.)

                                                     Nathaniel

The two lovers, for now they are lovers, lovers fatally united by an evil passion, go to the cliff and take a glance down at the heap of death below to assure themselves that the body was still there since the whole thing has been so like a dream.

                                                         (They go to the edge and look over as he speaks.)

Then they walk arm in arm, heart in heart, downward from the Capitoline hill. Perhaps they hold onto one another so tightly for fear of the deadly chill that would thenceforth
wait for them in solitude. The crime which Donatello committed and Miriam accepted with the look in her eyes before the murder has wreathed itself, as Miriam just said, like a serpent in inextricable links about both their souls and drawn them into one united being by its terrible contractile power. It was closer than a marriage bond.

                                                       (He exits. Miriam and Donatello stand arm in arm.)

                                                        Miriam

Oh, friend are you conscious, as I am, of this companionship that knits our heart-strings together?

                                                      Donatello

I feel it Miriam. We draw one breath. We live one life.

                                                    Miriam

Only yesterday, no, only a short half hour ago, I shivered in an icy solitude. No friendship, no sisterhood could come near enough to keep  warmth within my heart. In an instant all is changed. There can be no more loneliness.

                                                    Donatello

None, Miriam.

                                                     Miriam

None, my beautiful one. None my innocent one. Surely, it is no crime that we have committed. One wretched and worthless life has been sacrificed to cement two other lives for evermore.

                                                    Donatello

For evermore, Miriam. Cemented in blood.

                                                   Miriam

                                                            (Strongly, sensing the pain in his heart)

Forget it. Cast it all behind you. The deed has done its office and has no existence any more.

                                                            (They walk arm in arm towards the exit left
                                                              and stop looking about the area around them.)

A great deed was done here long ago. A deed of blood like ours. We are near the very spot where Caesar was murdered. Who knows but we may meet in our imagination the high and ever-sad fraternity of Caesar’s murderers  and exchange a salutation.

                                                  Donatello

They are our brethren now.

                                                  Miriam

Yes, all of them. And many an other whom the world little dreams of has been made our brother or our sister by what we have done within this hour.

                                                             (Darkness)

(Scene 8. Nathaniel appears.)

                                                       Nathaniel

I said in the last scene that the bond between Miriam and Donatello because of the murder is as close as a marriage bond. But can their evil bond last? Is  the seclusion, the remoteness, the strange lonesome bond into which Miriam and her one companion have been transported by their crime a solid refuge for them? Is  there a happy escape from evil for evildoers or only life on a crowded street jostling with a mob of criminals? Whatever hand has a bloodstain on it, whatever hand has poured out poison, has strangled a baby at its birth,  or clutched at a grandfather’s throat while sleeping and robbed him of his last few breathes-  do beings with such hands have the right to offer themselves in fellowship with anyone? It is a terrible thought that an individual wrongdoing melts into the great mass of human crime and makes us, who dream only of our own little separate sin, guilty of the whole. Miriam and her lover are not an isolated pair but now members of an innumerable confraternity of guilty ones all shuddering at each other.
    It is now the morning following the crime. Let us go to the Church of the Capuccini where is on display Guido’s picture of the holy Archangel Michael setting his divine foot on the head of his evil adversary, the demon that is the source of all evil.

                                                                     (The picture comes on in the background.
                                                                       Kenyon, Miriam and Donatello appear and
                                                                       stand examining the picture.)

                                                         Kenyon

What an expression of heavenly severity in the Archangel’s face, There is a degree of pain, trouble and  disgust at being brought in contact with sin, even for the purpose of quelling and punishing it, yet a celestial tranquility pervades his whole being.

                                                       Miriam

I have never been able to admire this picture nearly so much as Hilda does. If her soul were less white and pure, she could be a more competent critic of it. I see its defects today more clearly than ever before.

                                                      Kenyon

What are some of them?

                                                      Miriam

How fair the Archangel looks with his unruffled wings, with his unhacked sword, dressed in his bright armor and that exquisitely fitting sky-blue tunic cut in the latest Paradisiacal style. What a dainty air he has as though belonging to the very highest rank of celestial society. With what half-scornful delicacy he sets his prettily sandaled foot on the head of his prostrate foe.

                                                          (She is silent a moment. She looks at Kenyon for a
                                                            comment as a reaction but he offers none.She
                                                            speaks boldly with her passion rising as she talks.)

Is that how virtue looks the moment after its death struggle with evil? A third of the Archangel’s feathers should have been torn from his wings. His sword should be streaming with blood. His armor should be crushed, his robes should be torn, his breast should be gory with a bleeding gash on his forehead. He should press his foot hard down upon the serpent as if his very soul depended on it, feeling him squirm mightily and doubting whether the fight were over or whether he will gain the victory. And with all this fierceness, this grimness, this unspeakable horror, there should still  be something high, tender and holy in Michael’s eyes.

                                                          Kenyon

                                                                   (Astonished by her passion)

Miriam, you should yourself paint the picture of man’s struggle against sin according to these ideas. I think it will be a masterpiece.

                                                        Miriam

                                                                 (Now in a sad mood)

If I painted it, I am sadly afraid victory would fall on the wrong side. Just imagine a smoke-blackened, fiery-eyed demon stepping on that nice young angel, clutching his white throat with his claw and giving a triumphant wag of his scaly tail.

                                                                 (A slight pause. Very sadly.)

That is what they risk, poor souls, who do battle with Michael’s enemy.

                                                                 (The picture vanishes and in the dark background
                                                                   the body of the dead Cappuccine monk appears.
                                                                   It is stretched out on a slab with three candles.)

                                                        Donatello

Look at the dead Cappuccine monk.

                                                       Miriam

Take courage my friend. Let us approach the dead monk.

                                                     Kenyon

Not I.  I’m very concerned that Hilda did not join us here as she agreed. She never misses an appointment. I must visit her tower and assure myself that she is well.

                                                   Miriam

Good-bye, friend. Give greetings for me to Hilda.

                                                    Donatello

Good-bye.

                                                       (Kenyon leaves. Miriam takes Donatello’s arm
                                                         and they walk to the body and look at it closely.)

                                                  Miriam

My God. What is this?

                                                   Donatello

                                                      (In a trembling frightened voice.)

The face, his face. It is the same face that glared at me last night at midnight when I threw him to his death off the precipice.

                                                  Miriam

There’s no doubt it’s he but take courage. Stare the ugly horror right in the face. Don’t look to the side or give it a half-look for that will only give this frightful thing its most frightful aspect.

                                                 Donatello

I cannot. I am afraid to look at it.

                                                  Miriam

                                                       (She takes his arm and they walk away slowly.)

Lean on me, dearest friend. My heart is very strong for both of us. Be brave and all is well.

                                                 Donatello

I cannot stay another moment in this foul place.

                                                 Miriam

Go then. Wait for me in the Medici Gardens in the sunshine. I must go back and look again at the evil sight to assure myself that I am not dreaming.

                                                Donatello

I will wait for you there.

                                                       (He leaves. Miriam walks back and looks at the body.)

                                               Miriam

It is thou indeed. But art thou real or a vision?

                                                      (She touches one of his folded hands with her finger.)

It is thou.

                                                       (She touches his forehead.)

There is the scar that I know so well on your brow. Thou art no dream or vision. Thou art palpable to my touch. I will question the fact no longer but deal with it as best I can.

                                                    (She turns and walks away from the body as the lights go             
                                                      out.)

(Scene 9. Nathaniel appears.)

I said when I first came out to speak to you that when you put a face on evil it slips away. It slips away but it does not go away ever from evildoers. It merely takes some new form. But for a few moments Miriam and Donatello did look at the face of their evil by looking at the dead face of the strange man who haunted Miriam. The two evildoers now love one another joined by evil, but will their strange love be able to live normally like other lovers? Let us watch them as they meet in the Medici Gardens after having looked at the dead eyes of the the man they murdered.

                                                   (A picture of the Medici Gardens comes up. Donatello
                                                    is sitting in one of two chairs waiting. Miriam arrives
                                                     and he stands to greet her but they do not touch.)

                                                     Miriam

What can I do for you my beloved friend? You are shaking as with the cold fit of the Roman fever.

                                                    Donatello

Yes, my heart shivers.

                                                  Miraim

Sit, my sweet friend.

                                                      (He sits and she sits beside him taking one of his hands
                                                       in both of hers.)

What can I say to comfort you?

                                                  Donatello

Nothing. Nothing will ever comfort me.

                                                  Miriam

I accept my own misery, my own guilt, if guilt it be. Whether it’s guilt or misery I shall know how to deal with it. But you, dearest friend, that were the rarest creature in all this world, so like the marble statue of the faun, a being to whom sorrow could not cling, you whom I half fancied to belong to a race that had  vanished forever and only surviving to show mankind how genial and joyous life used to be in some long-gone age, what had you to do with grief or crime?

                                                 Donatello

They came to me as to other men. Doubtless I was born to them.

                                                 Miriam

No,no, they came with me. Mine is the responsibility. Why was I born? Why did we ever meet? Why did I not drive you from me knowing in my heart that the cloud in which I walked would likewise envelop you?

                                                         (A long silence. Donatello places his hand still held in
                                                           Miriam’s hand over his heart.)

                                                Donatello

I have a great weight here.

                                                       Miriam

Rest your heart on me, dearest one. I am well able to bear it’s weight for I am a woman and I love you. I love you, Donatello. Is there no comfort for you in this admission? Gaze into my eyes. Gaze into my soul. Search as deeply as you may, you can never see half the tenderness and the devotion that I cherish for you. All that I ask is that you accept the utter self-sacrifice by which I seek to remedy the evil you have incurred for my sake.

                                                            (A long heavy silence)

Speak to me. Only promise me to be in a little while at least a little happy.

                                                     Donatello

Happy? Never again. Never again.

                                                     Miriam

Never? That is a terrible word to say to me. A terrible word to let fall upon a woman’s heart when she loves you and is conscious of having caused your misery. If you love me, Donatello, speak it not again. And surely you did love me?

                                                      Donatello

                                                             (Gloomily and absently)

I did.

                                                             (He changes his position, breaking from her touch
                                                               and clasping both his hands over his forehead.)

                                                          Miriam

                                                              (She gets up and stands before him.)

Donatello, we must part. Leave me. Go back to your home in the Apennines that you have told me about overlooking a green valley. Then everything that has happened will become like an ugly dream. The deed you seemed to do last night was no more real than a dream.

                                                        Donatello

                                                                (In deep despair)

It was like a dream until I gazed this morning at that face, that terrible face. Do you call that unreal?

                                                    Miriam

Yes, because you looked at it with dreaming eyes. It was unreal and that you may feel it so you must not see this face of mine anymore. Once you thought it beautiful. Now it has lost it’s charm but it has still enough power to bring back the past illusion and with it the remorse and anguish that would darken all your life. Leave me therefore and forget me.

                                                   Donatello

                                                              (Aroused somewhat from his despair)

Forget you, Miriam? If I could remember you, and behold you, apart from that frightful face that stares at me over your shoulder, that were a consolation at least, if not a joy.

                                                 Miriam

But since that face of the man we murdered haunts you along with mine, we must part. Farewell. But if ever you need a life to be given to you wholly, only to make your own a little easier, then summon me. But now you find me of little worth so fling me away. You may never need me more. But if not, a wish will bring me to you.

                                                             (She looks at Donatello in silence waiting for
                                                               a reply. But he looks down and says nothing.)

That hour when you may wish me may never come so farewell. Farewell forever.

                                                   Donatello

Farewell.

                                                      (Darkness)

(Scene 10. Nathaniel appears.)

Hilda has not slept all night. Her pillow has been wet with the tears that an innocent girl pours forth at its first actual discovery that sin is in the world. The young and pure at heart are not apt to find out that miserable truth until it is brought forth to them by the guiltiness of some trusted friend. Hilda reverences her friend Miriam too highly and now she has taught Hilda a terrible lesson, that sin in the world is perpetual, that Adam falls again and again, that paradise is lost again and again.

                                                                    (Hilda appears left.)

Hilda hears footsteps on the stairs leading up to her dovecot. Knowing it must be Miriam, her first impulse is to spring to the door and fasten it with lock and bolt. But her second thought is that this would be cowardly and that Miriam has a right to know the state of her feelings.

                                                                   (Nathaniel exits. Miriam enters.).

                                                            Miriam

                                                                     (With a shout)

Dearest, darling Hilda. It gives me new life to see you.

                                                                    (Hilda is standing left of center. When Miriam       
                                                                     takes two steps towards her, Hilda puts forth
                                                                     her hands with a repellent gesture. Miriam is
                                                                     shocked but takes one more step and stops.)

                                                           Hilda
                                                                    
                                                                   (With sorrow but firmly)

Do not come nearer, Miriam.

                                                          Miriam

What has happened between us, Hilda? Are we not friends?

                                                          Hilda

                                                                 (Shuddering)

No, no.

                                                       Miriam

We were friends. I loved you dearly. I love you still. We were dearer than sisters of the same blood because we were so lonely and because the whole world pressed us together by its solitude and strangeness.

                                                               (She reaches out her hand.)

Will you not touch my hand? Am I not the same as yesterday?

                                                       Hilda

Alas, no, Miriam.

                                                       Miriam

Yes, the same. Were you to touch my hand, you would find it as warm to your grasp as ever. Yet now Hilda your very look seems to put me beyond the limits of the normal human world.

                                                     Hilda

It is not I, Miriam, not I that have done this.

                                                    Miriam

                                                          (Stirred up to defend herself)

You and you only,Hilda. I am a woman as I was yesterday, endowed with the same warmth of heart, the same genuine and earnest love, which you have  always known in me. I am not changed. When a human being has chosen a friend out of all the world, it is only  faithlessness between themselves, making true friendship impossible, that can justify either friend in breaking the bond. Have I deceived you? Then cast me off. Have I wronged you personally? Then forgive me if you can. Have I sinned against God and man? Then be more my friend than ever for I need you more.

                                                  Hilda

                                                        (Loudly)

Do not bewilder me, Miriam. If I were one of God’s angels with a nature incapable of stain, I would keep ever at your side and try to lead you upward. But I am a poor lonely girl whom God has set here in an evil world and given her only a white robe  and bid her wear it back to him as white as when she put it on. Your powerful magnetism is too much for me. The pure white atmosphere in which I try to discern which things are good and true could be discolored by you. And therefore, Miriam, before it is too late, I mean to put faith in this awful painful feeling that has captured my heart which warns me henceforth to avoid you.

                                                     Miriam

Ah, this is hard. Ah, this is terrible.

                                                        (Silence as she drops her forehead to her hands.
                                                          Then she looks up with a composed look.)

I always said, Hilda, that you were merciless. I sensed it even while you loved me best. You have no sin and no conception of what it is and therefore you are so terribly severe. As an angel, you are not out of place. But as a human being and a woman among earthly men and women, you need a sin to soften  you.

                                                     Hilda

God forgive me if I have said a needlessly cruel word.

                                                      Miriam

Let it pass. I whose heart it has struck forgive you. But tell me, before we part forever, what have you seen or known of me since we last met?

                                                     Hilda

A terrible thing, Miriam.

                                                     Miriam

                                                           (Somewhat scornful)

Did you see it written in my face or painted in my eyes? How does it happen that eyewitnesses watch us when we believe ourselves acting in the remotest privacy?
Did all of Rome see it then or at least our merry company of artists that we wandered about with last night? Was there some bloodstain on me or some death scent on my clothes? They say that monstrous deformities sprout out of fiends who were once lovely angels. Tell me, Hilda, by our past friendship, all you know.

                                                    Hilda

After Kenyon and I left you and Donatello, I went back alone to speak to you for there seemed to be a trouble on your mind and I wished to share it with you. When I came near the Tarpeian Rock, I saw you and Donatello and a third person. He approached you. I saw Donatello spring upon him. I would have shrieked but my throat was dry. I would have rushed forward but my legs seemed rooted to the ground. Then there was like a flash of lightning as a look passed from your eyes to Donatello’s, a look…

                                                   Miriam

                                                              (Interrupting excitedly)

Yes, Hilda, yes. Do not stop now. That look?

                                                  Hilda

It revealed all your heart, Miriam. A look of hate, triumph, vengeance and joy at some unhoped-for relief.

                                                  Miriam

Ah. Donatello was right, then. My eyes bade him do it. Go on, Hilda.

                                                 Hilda

It all passed so quickly like a glare of lightning and yet it seemed that Donatello had paused for as much time as needed. But that look on your face. Ah, Miriam, spare me. Need I tell more?

                                                Miriam

No more. There needs no more, Hilda. It is enough. You have satisfied my mind on a point where it was greatly disturbed. From now on, I shall be quiet. Thank you, Hilda.

                                                     (She turns and takes steps to leave but stops and
                                                       turns back.)

This is a terrible secret to be kept by a young girl. What will you do with it, my child?

                                              Hilda

Heaven help and guide me for the burden crushes me to the earth. It is a crime to know of such a thing and keep it to myself. It knocks within my heart continually, threatening, imploring, insisting to be let out. And I have no dear friend or a mother to tell this dark secret to. I am alone, alone. Miriam, you were my dearest, only friend. Advise me what to do.

                                                     Miriam

If I deemed it good for your peace of mind to bear testimony to the authorities for this deed, no consideration for myself would weigh with me for an instant. But I believe you would find no relief in such a course. What men call justice would not be satisfactory to a soul like yours. I cannot be fairly tried before an earthly court and what have you to do with earthly justice which lies chiefly in outward formalities? But I would not want you, Hilda, to keep my secret imprisoned in your heart if it tries to leap out and sting you like some wild poisonous snake when you thrust it back again into your heart. Have you no other friend now that you have been forced to give me up?

                                                     Hilda

No other.

                                                    Miriam

Not even Kenyon?
                                                     Hilda

He cannot be my friend because...because I have fancied that he sought to be something more.

                                                   Miriam

Don’t be afraid to tell him. This story will frighten his newborn love out of its little life if that be what you wish. Tell him the secret then and take his wise and honorable counsel as to what should next be done.

                                                   Hilda

I never dreamed - how could you think it?- of betraying you to justice which is what Kenyon would surely want me to do. I see how it is, Miriam. I must keep your secret and die of it unless God sends me relief by methods that are now beyond my power to imagine. It is very dreadful. Now I understand how the sins of generations past have created an atmosphere of sin for those that follow. While there is a single guilty person in the universe, each innocent person must feel his innocence tortured by that guilt. Your deed, Miriam, has darkened the whole sky.

                                                        ( Nathaniel appears left and watches Hilda get on her             
                                                          knees.)

                                                            Nathaniel
                                                          
Poor Hilda turned away from her unhappy friend and sinking to her knees would not say another word. Miriam looked back before the door and said good-bye to this dove’s nest, this one little nook of pure thoughts and innocent enthusiasms into which she had brought such trouble. So it is that every crime once again destroys the paradise full of divine goodness that God created for us. This end to the innocence of Donatello and now to the innocence of Hilda ends the first act of my drama.

                                                           (Darkness)


                                                                 ACT TWO

(Scene 1. Nathaniel appears.)

As I wrote my novel, I had always somewhere in my mind and soul a vision of a divine woman. I tried to create such a woman in the person of Hilda. I placed her in a high tower next to a statue of the Virgin Mary. She walked fearlessly all over Rome alone searching  inspiration for her virgin soul copying the flashes of divinity she discovered in the works of famous Italian artists. But my divine woman had human legs with feet that walked on the dirty streets of Rome. At night on the Tarpeian Rock a look of evil on her friend’s face seared into her soul a dark flash of evil. The holiness she felt in her soul  that sustained her innocence suddenly flew away and her solitary life in Rome became no longer inspired by the divine.
   Donatello also met evil face to face and lost his innocence. He is no longer carefree like the marble faun of the sculptor Praxiteles. It is now summer and he has left Rome and retired to his huge country house in the Apennine mountains of Tuscany. A large high tower is the main feature of the property. Like Hilda he spends his days and nights at the top of a tower in a lonely and sorrowful state of mind. But when Kenyon arrived, the two friends rambled together among the neighboring woods and hills. One day they came across a little dell hollowed in among the hills. A fountain had its birth in the dell and fell into a marble basin. In the midst of the small stream stood a marble nymph holding an urn. In former times, long ago, this lady of the fountain had received the infant tide from the stream in her urn and poured it into the marble basin. But now the urn had a great crack from top to bottom and the unhappy nymph was forced to see the basin fill itself through a channel she could not control with the water that had been long ago consecrated to her. For this reason the nymph looked terribly unhappy and you might have fancied that the whole fountain was but the overflow of her lonely tears.

                                                                   (An image of a nymph at a spring comes up.
                                                                     Hawthorne turns and examines it. He leaves
                                                                     left as Donatello and Kenyon enter and stand
                                                                     a few moments examining the image.)

                                                         Donatello

This was a place that I used greatly to delight in. As a child and as a boy, I have been very happy here.

                                                        Kenyon

It is a place for a poet to dream in and people it with beings of his imagination.

                                                      Donatello

It is said that a faun, my oldest forefather, brought home to this very spot a human maiden whom he loved and wedded. This spring of delicious water was their household well. And I know another story connected with this spot that is sorrowful and sad.

                                                      Kenyon

Tell me it.

                                                      Donatello
One of my ancestors from long ago, maybe from thousands of years ago, made        acquaintance with a fair creature belonging to this fountain. Whether she was a woman or a spirit is a mystery as was everything else about her except that her life and soul were somehow interfused throughout the gushing water. The fountain woman  loved the youth and she taught him how to call her forth from her pebbly waters. Often as he sat waiting for her at the spring she would suddenly fall down around him in a shower of sunny raindrops and gather herself up into the likeness of a beautiful girl, laughing to see the youth’s amazement. She made the hot summer atmosphere become deliciously cool and fragrant for her young knight. And sometimes when he knelt down to drink out of the spring, a pair of rosy lips would come up out of the water and touch his mouth with the thrill of a sweet, cool, dewy kiss.

                                                       Kenyon

It is a delightful story for the hot noon of your Tuscan summer. But the behavior of the watery lady must have had a most chilling influence in winter. Her lover would find it very literally a cold reception.

                                                    Donatello

I suppose you are making fun of the story. But I find nothing to laugh about in the thing itself. The knight found infinite pleasure and comfort in the friendship of the fountain nymph. But one day - let’s see if you’ll make fun of this too - one day the young knight came rushing with hasty and irregular steps to the accustomed fountain. He called the nymph but because there was something unusual and frightful in his tone, she did not appear nor answer him. He washed his hands and bathed his feverish brow in the cool pure water. And then there was a sound of suffering in a woman’s voice. The water shrank away from the youth’s hands and left his brow as dry and feverish as before.

                                                   Kenyon

                                                            (Aroused and very serious)

Why did the water shrink from this unhappy knight?

                                                 Donatello

                                                           (Horror-stricken, in a low voice)

Because he had tried to wash off a bloodstain. The guilty man had polluted the pure water. The nymph might have comforted him in sorrow but could not cleanse his conscience of a crime.

                                                 Kenyon

And did he ever behold her again?

                                                 Donatello

He never beheld her blessed face but once again and then there was a bloodstain on the poor nymph’s brow. It was the stain his guilt had left in the fountain where he tried to wash it off. He mourned for her his whole life and employed the best sculptor of the time to carve this statue of the nymph from his description of her look.

                                               Kenyon

I think that you by your natural qualities are as well entitled to her favor as ever your forefather could have been. Why have you not summoned her?

                                              Donatello

I called her often when I was a silly child.

                                               Kenyon

Then you never saw her?

                                             Donatello

I have not seen the nymph but here by her fountain I used to make many strange acquaintances. From my earliest childhood I was familiar with whatever creatures haunt the woods. Yes, I had friends among the wild nimble things that reckon man their deadliest enemy. How it was taught to me I cannot tell but I had a voice, a murmur, a kind of song by which I called the woodland inhabitants, the furry people and the feathered people in a language that they seemed to understand.

                                          Kenyon

I have heard of such a gift. Please try to make the sounds and in case I should frighten your friends away, I will withdraw into this little thicket and merely peep at them.

                                                            (He moves to the exit and stands with his head visible
                                                              looking.)

                                                Donatello

I doubt whether they will remember my voice. It changes as the boy grows towards manhood.

                                                         (He makes  wild, rude yet harmonious sounds. It is a
                                                           kind of strange but natural speech. It is a singing of
                                                           a wordless song, a natural melodious humming. He
                                                           makes the sounds over and over loudly. Then he
                                                            makes a loud sorrowful cry and flings himself
                                                            onto the ground. Kenyon comes out of the exit
                                                            and stoops over Donatello.)

                                                     Kenyon

What has happened to you?

                                                    Donatello

                                                                     (Very loud and very sorrowful sobbing)

Death, death. They know it.

                                                  Kenyon

Who know it? And what is it they know?

                                                  Donatello

They know it. They shun me. All nature shrinks from me and shudders at me. I live in a curse that hems me around in a circle of fire. No innocent thing can come near me.

                                                 Kenyon

                                                         (He kneels beside him.)

You labor under some illusion but no curse. I am satisfied that you still possess this strange natural spell that you have been exercising. I was not hidden well enough from the innocent creatures. I scared away your forest friends.

                                               Donatello

                                                              (Unaffected)

They are friends of mine no longer.

                                            Kenyon

We all of us as we grow older lose something of our nearness to nature. It is the price we pay for experience.

                                              Donatello

                                                            (In a new solid voice rising from the ground.)

A heavy price. But we will speak of it no longer. Forget this scene. In your eyes it must look very absurd. It is a grief for all men to find the pleasant privileges and properties of early life leaving them. That grief has now  befallen me. Well, I shall waste no more tears for such a cause.

                                                           {He walks towards the exit with a strong defiant look.
                                                             Kenyon follows him.)

                                              Curtain.

(Scene 2. Hawthorne appears.)

Has a holy divine woman ever appeared and walked among us humans? In the classical world in pagan times Aphrodite, the goddess of love. and Athena, the goddess of wisdom, divine women, were worshiped in temples and sometimes seen in visions. In Christian times, Mary, the holy mother of god, became so full of God’s grace that she was worshiped as a divine woman. Donatello’s ancestor called forth a divine being at the spring in the woods. But Donatello too like his ancestor is bloodstained. Evil has cut him off from all hope of contact with divinity in a woman. However Kenyon, as the days go by during his residence in Donatello’s huge country house, discovers that there is a woman present. Miriam is living in the huge house, hidden, without any contact with Donatello who spends his days and nights at the top of a high tower. One day  Donatello’s servant tells Kenyon that a woman wishes to meet with him in a room next to a room that was long ago used as a chapel but is now in disuse. Kenyon goes to the room and discovers Miriam.

                                                                (Hawthorne leaves. Kenyon has appeared and then
                                                                  Miriam.)

                                                      Kenyon

You are very ill, Miriam.

                                                     Miriam

No, not so ill as I seem but I am ill enough to die unless some change speedily occurs.

                                               Kenyon

What then is your disorder and what the remedy?

                                                   Miriam

The disorder? There is none that I know of except too much life and strength without a purpose. My energy is slowly, or perhaps rapidly, wearing me away because I can apply it to no use. The object which I am bound to consider my only one on earth fails me utterly. The sacrifice that I yearn to make of myself, my hopes, my everything is coldly put aside. Nothing is left for me but to brood, brood, brood all day, all night, in unprofitable longings.

                                                 Kenyon

This is very sad, Miriam. With all the activity of mind, so fertile in plans as I have known you, can you imagine no method of bringing your resources into play?

                                                  Miriam

                                                          (Cold and indifferent)

My mind is not active any longer. It deals with one thought and no more. One recollection paralyzes it. Do not think it is remorse. I feel neither regret nor penitence on my own behalf. But what benumbs me, what robs me of all power - it is not a secret a woman should tell a man, but I do not care that you know it - is the certainty that I am and must ever be an object of horror in Donatello’s sight.

                                               Kenyon

                                                       (Startled)

How have you become so certain about what you speak?

                                               Miriam

By a sure token. It was merely a gesture, a shudder, a cold shiver that ran through him one sunny morning when his hand happened to touch mine. But it was enough.

                                                  Kenyon

I firmly believe he loves you still. I have enough knowledge of Donatello and you to be sure I have a true insight. He not only loves you still but with a force and depth caused by a stronger grasp of his faculties. Donatello has developed before my eyes into a new fuller more well proportioned man.

                                                 Miriam

Do not deceive me.

                                                Kenyon

I would not deceive you for the world. There was a period when the horror of some calamity threw Donatello into a stupor of misery. He was in intolerable pain and he felt repugnance towards all the circumstances and surroundings of the event that so terribly affected him. Was his dearest friend involved within the horror of that moment? He would shrink from her as he shrank most of all from himself. But as his mind aroused itself, as it rose to a higher life than he had previously experienced, whatever had been true and permanent within him revived by the self same impulse. So has it been with his love.

                                                Miriam

But surely he knows that I am here. Why then except that I am hateful to him does he not bid me welcome?

                                                Kenyon

He is aware of your presence here. But the more passionately he longs for you, the more religiously he thinks himself bound to avoid you. The idea of a lifelong penance has taken strong possession of Donatello.

                                                Miriam

But he loves me. Yes, he loves me.

                                                                       (She turns away as though embarrassed to
                                                                        show him her sudden warm emotion.
                                                                        Then after a pause she turns back to him.)

In other respects, is he much changed?

                                                             Kenyon

A wonderful process is going forward in Donatello’s mind.  The world of thought
is disclosing itself to him. He startles me at times with his perception of deep truths.It’s as though out of his bitter agony, a soul and intellect have been inspired into him.

                                                            Miriam

I could help him. It would be a sweet toil to bend and adapt my whole nature to do him good. Who else has the tender sympathy which he requires? Who else except a woman who shares the same dread secret, who shares the same identical guilt could meet him on such terms of intimate equality as the case demands? With this object before me, I might feel a right to live. Without it, it is a shame for me to have lived so long.

                                                            Kenyon

Your true place is by his side.

                                                           Miriam

Yes. Donatello is entitled to my complete self-sacrifice for his sake. My only hope of happiness lies in the good that he can gain from our being together. But he rejects me. His heart tells him that she who beguiled him into evil might guide him to a higher innocence than that from which he fell, but he does not listen to his heart. What can I do to get around this great difficulty?

                                                          Kenyon

You can do away with the difficulty by climbing up at any moment to Donatello’s tower and meeting him there offering under the eye of God a gift of yourself.

                                                         Miriam

I dare not. No, I dare not.

                                                         Kenyon

Do you fear breaking some religious or moral law?

                                                        Miriam

No, because my motive would be pure. I fear not offending God but of offending Donatello. I am a weaker woman than you may think. I am greatly in dread of Donatello. Once he shuddered at my touch. If he shudder once again or frown, I die. Do you see my weakness? What I need now is some opportunity to show my strength.

                                                         Kenyon

I think the time has come when Donatello should be removed from the complete seclusion in which he buries himself here. His mind is awakened now. His heart, though full of pain, is no longer benumbed. He needs some variety to his thoughts and a variety of scenes by travelling away from the solitude of his lonely tower. Solitude has done what it could for him. Now let him be enticed into the outer world.

                                                        Miriam.

What is your plan then?

                                                          Kenyon

Simply to persuade Donatello to be my companion in a ramble among these hills and valleys. He will recreate the world by the new eyes he will need to find to look at a variety of scenes. He will escape, I hope, out of a morbid life and find his way into a healthy one.

                                                        Miriam

And what is to  be my part in this process? You are taking him from me. You are putting yourself and all manner of living interests into the place which I ought to fill.

                                                       Kenyon

Fill it then. I am a man and can not give another man any intimate help. You can. Become his mother and his sister and his wife. Go to him and give yourself to him.

                                                        Miriam

It is not kind to taunt me. I have told you I can not do what you say because I  dare not.

                                                       Kenyon

Very well, then adapt yourself to my plan. The incidents of a journey often fling people together. If you were to take the same route we take, a reunion with Donatello along the way might happen almost as though providence had a hand in it.

                                                    Miriam

You know the bronze statue of Pope Julius in the great square of Perugia? I remember standing before that statue and being impressed by its paternal aspect. I even fancied that a blessing fell upon me from the outstretched hand of the pope. Ever since, I have had a superstition that if I waited long enough at that same spot, some good event would come to pass. Well, precisely in two weeks, bring Donatello at noon to the base of the statue. You will find me there.

                                                 Kenyon

I will bring him.

                                                                        (A long pause. Kenyon looks at Miriam
                                                                         admiringly.)

May I tell you, Miriam, that you are still as beautiful as ever?

                                               Miriam

Perhaps my faded bloom has been revived by the hopes you give me. You think me beautiful? Whatever beauty I possess shall be one of the instruments I use to educate and elevate Donatello, to whose good I solely dedicate myself.

                                                                        ( A pause as she hesitates before continuing.)

You are a man of refined tastes. Tell me frankly, have I not shocked you many times during this interview by my betrayal of a woman’s cause, my lack of feminine modesty, my reckless, passionate, indecorous confession that I live only in the life of one who perhaps scorns and shudders at me?

                                                   Kenyon

You have shocked me. Yes.

                                                       Miriam

I knew it. I revealed to you what little remains of my finer nature. When you go back to Rome, tell Hilda what her severity towards me has done. She was all womanhood to me. When she cast me off from her friendship, I had no longer any solid means to keep with the reserves and decorums of my sex. Hilda has set me free. Tell her so from Miriam and thank her.

                                                               Kenyon

I shall tell Hilda nothing that will give her pain. I know not what passed between her and yourself but I feel nonetheless that she was right. You have a thousand admirable qualities. Whatever mass of evil may have fallen into your life, you are still as capable as ever of many high and heroic virtues. But the white shining purity of Hilda’s nature is a thing apart. She is bound by the undefiled material of which God moulded her  to keep that severity which I as well as you have recognized.

                                                              Miriam

Oh, you are right. I never questioned it but when she cast me off from her good nature, It cut off some of the few remaining bonds between me and decorous womanhood. But were there anything to forgive, I do forgive her. I hope you win her virgin heart. I think there are few men in this evil world who are more worthy of her than yourself.

                                                             (Darkness)


(Scene 3. Hawthorne appears.)

                                                            Hawthorne

Kenyon and Donatello have been travelling by horseback among the hills and valleys and plains of Tuscany for two weeks. They arrive at the great hill town of Perugia a few minutes before noon at its great square on a market day.

                                                                   (A large copy of the statue of Pope Julius the                     
                                                                    third appears in the background. Hawthorne
                                                                     turns to it pointing.)

Here in the square is the great bronze statue three centuries old of Pope Julius the third. He sits in his bronze chair elevated high above the pavement with an authoritarian but kindly look watching the turmoil around his seat. Notice that his right hand is raised and spread abroad as if in the act of shedding forth a benediction.  

                                                                    (Hawthorne leaves. Kenyon and Donatello                  
                                                                     appear and approach the statue. They
                                                                     stop before it admiring it.)

                                                             Kenyon

I never come to Perugia without spending as much time as I can spare in studying this statue of Pope Julius the third. Those sculptors of the Middle Ages have fitter lessons for the professors of my art than the masterpieces of the Greeks. They belong to our Christian civilization and they always express some spiritual quality which we do not get from ancient sculpture.

                                                            Donatello

I see that the statue is bestowing a benediction and I have a feeling in my heart that I am being permitted to share it.

                                                           Kenyon

The pope’s blessing then has fallen upon you.

                                                            Donatello

Yes,my dear friend, I feel his blessing upon my spirit.

                                                            Kenyon

That’s wonderful. It’s wonderful to think how long the influence of a good man may be powerful even after his death. How great must have been the power of this excellent pope’s blessing while he was alive.  

                                                            Donatello

I have heard that there was a bronze image set up in the wilderness, the sight of which healed the Israelites of their poisonous wounds. Why should not this holy bronze image before us do me equally good?

                                                             (A woman enters right her head covered in a shawl.
                                                               She stops to the right at a distance from the two.
                                                                Kenyon sees her and moves to the right towards
                                                                her. Donatello, still looking up at the statue, does             
                                                                not look towards the woman. He continues           
                                                               speaking.)

A wound has long been rankling in my soul and filling it with poison.

                                                          Kenyon

Miriam, is it yourself?

                                                         Miriam

It is I. I am faithful to my engagement though with many fears.

                                                        Kenyon

You are most welcome, Miriam. Come, let me lead you to Donatello.

                                                        Miriam

                                                            (In a lower voice.)

No, Kenyon, no.

                                                          (The two withdraw to the right out of Donatello’s   
                                                           hearing.)

Unless of his own accord he speaks my name - unless he tells me to stay - no word will ever pass between him and me. Don’t think it is because of my pride. Among all my other female qualities, I threw away also my pride when Hilda cast me off.

                                                     Kenyon

If not pride, what else holds you back? This is no time for fear. If we let him leave you without a word, your opportunity to do him inestimable good is lost forever.

                                                    Miriam

True, it will be lost forever. But  will it be my fault? I would willingly fling my pride at his feet. But - do you not see? - his heart must be left to its own decision whether to recognize me. On his voluntary choice depends the whole question whether my devotion to him will do him harm or good. If he does not feel an infinite need of me, I am a burden and fatal obstruction to him.

                                                   Kenyon

Take your own course then. The crisis being what it is, your spirit knows better about its emergencies than mine.

                                                    Miriam

                                                               (Donatello remains to the left looking away from  
                                                                Miriam. She pauses. She does not dare to look            
                                                                over at him.)

I wished to meet you for more than one reason, News has come to me about a friend of ours. No, not of mine. I dare not call her a friend of mine.

                                                Kenyon

Do you speak of Hilda? Has anything happened to her? When I last heard, she was in Rome and well.

                                                         Miriam

Hilda remains in Rome. She is not physically ill but she is very depressed in her spirits.
She lives all alone in her  dovecote. She has no one in Rome, not one friend near her. I fear for her health if she continue long in such solitude. A despondency is preying upon her mind. I tell you this knowing the great influence the rare beauty of her character has over you.

                                                         Kenyon

I will go to Rome. Hilda has never allowed me to express anything more than friendship towards her but she can not prevent me from watching over her at a humble distance. I will leave for Rome at this very hour.

                                                         Miriam

Do not leave us now.

                                                              (She puts her hand on his arm.)

One moment more.

                                                              (She pauses looking towards Donatello. He
                                                                does not look at her.)

Ah, he has no word for me.

                                                              (She turns and looks away from him.}

                                                          Donatello

                                                             (He turns to her as she turns from him.
                                                              Loud and with emotion.)

Miriam.

                                                          Miriam

You have called me.

                                                          Donatello

Because my deepest heart has need of you. Forgive, Miriam, my coldness and hardness when I left you. I was bewildered with strange horror and gloom.

                                                          Miriam

It was I that brought it on you. What self-sacrifice on my part can atone for the infinite wrong I caused you? There was something so sacred in the innocent and joyous life you were leading. The happy person you were was such an unaccustomed and holy creature in this sad world. It was my doom to bring you down from your innocent world into the world of sin and sorrow. Tell me to leave, Donatello. Cast me away. No good through my agency can follow upon such a mighty evil.

                                                          Donatello

Our lot lies together. Is it not so? Tell me in heaven’s name if it be otherwise.

                                                                (A long silence. The two stand facing each other
                                                                 as though bewildered as to what to do.)

                                                          Kenyon

I know I can not offer you words that will include some absolute truth. But Miriam, Donatello is someone whom a terrible misfortune has begun to educate. He has left because of your agency a happy innocent state which he can never find again on earth. You have a responsibility towards him that you can never just throw away. And here is someone, Donatello, intimately connected with your destiny. She has rich gifts of heart and mind and a sympathetic knowledge which, religiously exercised, are what your condition needs. The bond between you is a true one and should never except by God be broken.

                                                        Donatello

He has spoken the truth.

                                                                  (He takes Miriam’s hand.)

                                                     Miriam

The very truth, dear friend.

                                                     Kenyon

But I must warn you. You love one another but you are joined together wrapped in black threads that you must never look upon as like the ties that unite other loving souls. Your union is for mutual support, for one another’s final good, for effort, for sacrifice but not for earthly happiness. If you seek happiness, my friends, it were better to release each other’s hands at this sad moment. There can be no holy sanction on your wedded life.

                                                     Donatello

None. We know it well.

                                                     Miriam

None. United by a bond of guilt, even if our union were for eternity, I would remain conscious of his horror.

                                                      Kenyon

You take each other’s hands not for happiness but for mutual elevation and encouragement towards a severe and painful life. And if out of toil, sacrifice,prayer.penitence and honest effort towards right things, there comes some day a sober and thoughtful happiness, taste it and thank heaven. It will not be a permanent happiness but heaven’s gracious gift and a token that it recognizes your earthly union.

                                                     Miriam

Have you no more to say? There is matter of sorrow and lofty consolation strangely mingled in your words.

                                                    Kenyon

Only this, dear Miriam. If ever in your lives the highest duty should require from either of you the sacrifice of the other, meet the occasion without shrinking. This is all. Farewell. I go to Rome.

                                                                        (He moves towards the exit, then exits.)

                                                             Miriam

Farewell, true friend.

                                                              Donatello

Farewell. May you be happy. You have no guilt to make you shrink from happiness.

                                                                       (They exit holding hands. Hawthorne appears
                                                                         left. He looks up at the image of the Pope
                                                                         and then turns to address the audience. )

                                                            Hawthorne

My novel is a romance. I try to look farther and deeper into external objects and human actions than normal and discover for my readers things that can not be seen by merely rational observation. Look at the statue of Pope Julius. The majestic figure stretches out the hand of benediction to us just as it stretched out moments before the same hand blessing the union of Donatello and Miriam, a couple guilty of great evil. Did Kenyon and the couple, did the three of them imagine as they looked up that the bronze pope was endowed with spiritual life? Did they feel a blessing descending upon them from his outstretched hand? A murder produced the marriage of Donatello and Miriam that we just witnessed. Did the bronze pope approve by a look and a gesture the pledge of eternal union they made to one another?

                                                                  (He turns and contemplates the image. Silence a   
                                                                    few moments. Then the lights go out.)



(Scene 4.  Hawthorne appears.}

                                                      Hawthorne

The great evil that Donatello and Miriam have committed and that Hilda has observed has caused a crushing weight of gloom in her soul. A torpor has taken possession of the poor girl as though a half-dead snake were wrapping its cold body about her innocent limbs. It was that peculiar despair, that chill and heavy misery, which only the innocent can experience with all the gloomy characteristics that mark a sense of guilt. It was that sudden  dismal certainty of the existence of evil in the world. When that knowledge comes, it is as if a cloud had suddenly gathered over the morning light, a cloud so dark that there seems to be no longer any sunshine behind or above it. Hilda’s situation was made infinitely more wretched by the necessity of keeping all her trouble within her own consciousness. What a relief it would have been to share her dreadful secret with a friend. But she had no friend in Rome and experienced nothing but an awful loneliness. It enveloped her wherever she went. It was a shadow in the sunshine of festal days, a chill dungeon which kept her in its gray twilight and fed her with its unwholesome air. She stumbled again and again over the idea of her moral guilt. She was a sufferer who longed for relief from another’s sin.

                                                                  (Hilda appears right as a picture of a confessional
                                                                    appears in the center rear. She walks towards it.)

For Catholics, confession to a priest is a relief from sin. Hilda is a New England puritan, a member of a religious group that long ago broke with the practice of confessing a sin to a priest in a confessional.

                                                             (Hawthorne moves to the side but stands observing
                                                              her.)

                                                             Hilda
                                                             
                                                                (She stands before the confessional. Then she
                                                                 turns and speaks looking straight ahead.
                                                                 Loudly and soulfully.)

Does not confession belong to Christianity itself? Is the confessional not a blessing which the church can bestow on all mankind? Can the faith in which I was born and bred be perfect if it leave a weak girl like me to wander desolate with this great trouble in my soul crushing me down?

                                                                (A pause. Silence a moment. Very soulfully.)

Oh, help. Help! I can not bear it.

                                                                (She turns and falls to her knees on the kneeler      
                                                                 beside the confessional. She speaks to the priest
                                                                  in the confessional. What she says can not be  
                                                                  heard clearly. After she speaks a few moments her
                                                                  sobs are heard. Kenyon appears right at a good  
                                                                  distance and observes the scene.)  
                                                                 

                                                               Hawthorne

Poor Hilda is no longer thinking. She is only feeling. In her heart is a great need. She is opening her heart. She pours out the dark story which had infused its poison into her life to the confessional and to the priest inside.

                                                               (He pauses and watches her sobbing. She remains  
                                                                kneeling.  Hawthorne turns back.)

What a relief! What a torture has passed away from her soul! It is all gone. She  has confessed her guilt as though it were a sin.What a miracle it is that her heart is as pure now again as in her childhood!

                                                               (Hawthorne leaves. Hilda remains on her knees.
                                                                An old priest steps out of the confessional. He      
                                                                speaks looking down at her kneeling in a mild           
                                                                 voice.)

                                                            Priest

Stand up, my daughter. What we have further to say must be spoken face to face.

                                                               (Hilda stands and looks at him confidently.)

It has not escaped my observation, daughter, that this is your first acquaintance with the confessional. How is this?

                                                           Hilda

                                                               (Her calm voice reflects the peace within her.)

Father, I am of New England birth, and was bred as what you call a heretic.

                                                           Priest

From New England! It was my own birthplace although I have been absent from it 50 years. But a heretic! And are you reconciled to the church?

                                                            Hilda

                                                                 (Strongly)

Never, father.

                                                          Priest

And, that being the case, on what ground, my daughter, have you sought to avail yourself of these blessed privileges, confined exclusively to members of the one true church, of confession and absolution?

                                                        Hilda

                                                           (Surprised. She shrinks back.)

Absolution, father? Oh no, no! I never dreamed of that! Only our heavenly father can forgive our sins. It is only by sincere repentance of whatever wrong I may have done, and by my own best efforts towards a higher life, that I can hope for his forgiveness.
God forbid that I should ask absolution from mortal man.

                                                            Priest

Then why have you taken possession, as I may term it, of  this holy ordinance being a heretic? You are not seeking to share, nor do you  have faith in, the unspeakable advantages which the church offers to its penitents.

                                                           Hilda

                                                            (Strong and truthfully)

Father, I am a motherless girl and a stranger here in Italy. I had only God to take care of me and be my closest friend. The terrible, terrible crime which I have just now revealed to you, thrust itself between God and me. I groped for him in the darkness  and found him not. I found nothing but a dreadful solitude and this crime in the midst of it! I could not bear it. It seemed as if I made the awful guilt my own by keeping it hidden in my heart. I became a fearful thing to myself. I was going mad.

                                                            Priest

It was a grievous trial, my poor child. Your relief, I trust, will prove to be greater than you yet know.

                                                           Hilda

                                                             (Looking gratefully to his face.)

I feel already how immense it is! Surely, father, it was the hand of providence that led me here and made me feel that Saint Peter’s church, this vast temple of Christianity, this great home of religion, must needs contain some cure, some ease at least, for my unutterable anguish. And it has proved so. I have told you just now the hideous secret hidden in my heart, told it to you under the sacred seal of the confessional. Now it will burn my heart no more.

                                                        Priest

                                                            (Despite being moved by her)

But, daughter, you forget, you mistake, you claim a privilege to which you have not entitled yourself! The seal of the confessional, you say? God forbid that it should ever be broken where it has been fairly impressed! But it applies only to matters that have been confided to a priest for its keeping in a certain prescribed method and by persons, moreover, who have faith in the sanctity of the confessional. I hold myself free to disclose all the particulars of what you term your confession as if they had come to my knowledge in a secular way.


                                                     Hilda

That is not right, father!

                                                    Priest

Do you not see,child, with all your nicety of conscience cannot you recognize that it is my duty to make the story you confessed to me known to the proper authorities? A great crime against public justice is involved and further evil consequences are likely to follow.

                                                         Hilda

No, father no! Trust a girl’s simple heart sooner than the rules of your church! Trust your own heart, too! I came to your confessional, as I devoutly believe, by the direct impulse of heaven with its mercy and love to relieve me of a torture I could no longer bear. I trusted in the pledge that your church has always held sacred between the priest and the human soul. What I have confided to you lies sacredly between God and yourself. Let it rest there, father, for it is right. If you do otherwise you will perpetuate a great wrong, both as a priest and as a man.  And believe me nothing will ever force my lips to speak what would be necessary in order to make my confession available publically towards the punishment of the guilty ones. Leave providence to deal with them.

                                                          Priest

My quiet little countrywoman, I see you can pluck up a spirit when you fancy an occasion for one.

                                                        Hilda

I have spirit only to do what I think right. Otherwise I am timorous.

                                                         Priest

Set your spirit at rest. There is no probable need for me to reveal the matter. What you have told me is already known in the quarter which it most concerns.

                                                        Hilda

Known! Known to the authorities of Rome! And what will be the consequence?

                                                         Priest

Hush! I tell you only my supposition. Rest assured, it is no assertion of a fact so that you may go the more cheerfully on your way, not deeming yourself burdened with any responsibility as concerns this dark deed. And now, daughter, what have you to give in return to an old man’s kindness and sympathy?

                                                         Hilda

My grateful remembrance as long as I live.

                                                          Priest

And nothing more? Will you not allow me to bring you as a stray lamb into the true fold? You have experienced some little taste of the relief and comfort which
the Catholic church keeps abundantly in store for all its faithful children. Come home poor child, poor wanderer, come home and be at rest.

                                                        Hilda

Father, I dare not come a step farther than providence shall guide me. Do not let it grieve you that I shall never return to the confessional. I am a daughter of the New England puritans. But in spite of my heresy, you may one day  see the poor girl to whom you have done this great Christian kindness coming to remind you of it and thank you for it in the better land.

                                                         (She gets down on her knees.)

For now, please give a fellow Christian your priestly blessing.

                                                         (The priest moves his hands over her blessing her.
                                                           The priest leaves left. Hilda advances straight ahead
                                                            as Kenyon moves towards her. She discovers him.)

                                                        Hilda

It is you! I am so happy!

                                                       Kenyon

Yes, Hilda, I see that you are very happy.

                                                        Hilda

I know how it is that saints above are touched by the sorrows of distressed people on earth and yet are never made wretched by them. The heart grows so large and so rich when it has as I have now a sense of religious bliss.

                                                       Kenyon

Hilda, I saw you at the confessional!

                                                       Hilda

If you think it wrong, you must forgive me because it saved my reason and made me very happy. But I think I shall never go to the confessional again for there can hardly come such a painful trial twice in my life. It was the sin of others that drove me there. I must have done what you saw me do or go mad.

                                                      Kenyon

Then you are not a Catholic?

                                                      Hilda

Really, I do not quite know what I am. Why should I not be a Catholic, if I find there what I need and what I cannot find elsewhere? If its priests were but a little more than human, above all error, pure from all evil, what a religion it would be!

                                                  Kenyon

Ah, Hilda. Your heart is all purity and rectitude and so saintly that you do not know what a mixture of good there may be in things evil. The greatest criminals may not  seem so unquestionably guilty after all.

                                                 Hilda

                                                  (Sharply and critically)

You have in mind Miriam and Donatello. It was precisely their evil that almost drove me mad.

                                                Kenyon

They were partners in what we must call awful guilt. But think of the original cause, the motives, the feelings, the sudden concurrence of circumstances thrusting them onwards, the urgency of the moment, and the sublime unselfishness of both of them. I cannot distinguish their actions much from what the world calls heroism.

                                                          Hilda

I can never think like that! There is only one right and one wrong. I do not understand how two things so totally unlike can be mistaken for one another. Two mortal enemies, right and wrong, can never work together in the same deed. This is my faith. I should be led astray if you could persuade me to give it up.

                                                        Kenyon

You are a terribly severe judge. You need no mercy and therefore know not how to show any.

                                                      Hilda

That sounds like a bitter gibe.

                                                       Kenyon

I’m sorry, my dear Hilda. But you seem to me so removed in your religious bliss from any purely human feelings that I am moved to try to take you down from your lofty spiritual pedestal so that you may perhaps have in your heart that loves God room to also love me.

                                                        Hilda

Here in the climate of this great church of Saint Peter I can feel in my heart only its manifestation of sanctity. If there be any such dreadful mixture of good and evil as you affirm, then there is no sanctity on earth and the good is turned to poison, not the evil to wholesomeness.

                                                      Kenyon

You have found in this glorious church after a great anguish sweet peace. I am sorry if I disturbed it.

                                                     Hilda.

You have not. And you remain my only friend in Rome.

                                                     Kenyon

Will you leave the sanctity of this church and dare to walk with your friend outside through streets teeming with common humanity?

                                                     Hilda

Accompanied by a true friend like you, I dare to go anywhere.

                                                      (They leave smiling walking side by side. Darkness)

(Scene 5.)

                                                         Hawthorne

The friendship between Kenyon and Hilda has grown as warm as a girl’s friendship can ever be without absolutely and avowedly blooming into love. They were both very happy. Kenyon worked at his sculptures. Hilda returned to her customary occupations in picture galleries with a fresh love for paintings yet with a deeper look into the heart of things because she had passed through days of such gloom. Days passed. Then one night Kenyon looked up from the street at Hilda’s tower and saw no light beside the statue of the Virgin Mary. Kenyon rushed up the many stairs to her lodgings. She was not there. Hilda was gone. For days his only occupation was searching for her. But she was found nowhere. She had disappeared. Soon it was Carnival time. The streets of Rome were full of merriment with people dressed in fantastic costumes. Kenyon continued his search for Hilda and found by chance on the streets not Hilda but Donatello and Miriam.

                                                                    (Hawthorne leaves. Kenyon appears. Then  
                                                                     Miriam and Donatello.)

                                                                 Kenyon

Ah, Miriam and Donatello. What a wonderful surprise to meet you. But I fear that neither of you or anything else can cure my despondency because Hilda, my dear Hilda, has disappeared. Imagination and the love of art have both died out in me with her disappearance.

                                                                 Donatello

Miriam, why should we keep our friend in suspense? We know what anxiety he feels. Let us give him what intelligence of Hilda we have.

                                                                Kenyon

Tell me of Hilda. Tell me only that she is safe and keep back what else you will.

                                                                 Miriam

Hilda is safe. An evil deed has spread out its dark branches so widely that the shadow fell on her innocence as well as our guilt. There was one slight link that connected your sweet Hilda with a crime which it was her unhappy fortune to witness. No matter now what the consequence has been. Providence is working purposely for her. You shall have your lost Hilda back sometime today.

                                                                Kenyon

Exactly when and where and how?

                                                                Miriam

A little patience. You have more time to spare than Donatello and I. When we leave you, he will turn himself over to authorities for his punishment and you will see me no more. We will talk of Hilda by and by. First, listen to something that I must tell. I am of English parentage on my mother’s side, but with a vein likewise of Jewish blood. Through my mother’s father I am connected with a princely family of southern Italy. It has a name that  only a few years ago was familiar to the world in connection with a mysterious and terrible event. I see I make you shudder.

                                                            Kenyon

No, you were innocent. I shudder at the fatality that seems to haunt your footsteps and throws a shadow of crime about your path, you being guiltless.

                                                            Miriam

There was such a fatality. Yes, the shadow fell upon me innocent, but I went astray in it and wandered, as Hilda could tell you, into crime.

                                                           (A pause.)

I lost my mother while yet a child. When very young, a contract for marriage was made with an old count, from another branch of my father’s house. It was odious to me and besides there were traits of evil in his character so evil, so treacherous, so vile which could only be accounted for by insanity. I repudiated the marriage. Some time afterwards occurred the terrible event that I alluded to, frightful and mysterious, that still has not found a satisfactory explanation. But you know that I am innocent!

                                                           Kenyon

I know it by my deepest consciousness and I know it by Hilda’s trust and entire affection, which you could never have won had you been capable of guilt.

                                                               Miriam

                                                                   (With tears beginning)

That is sure ground indeed for pronouncing me innocent. Yet I have since become a horror to your saintlike Hilda by a crime that she herself saw me help to perpetrate.

                                                                     (A pause)

I fled here to Rome to escape the guilt imputed falsely to me in the terrible event in my family’s background. I created a new sphere for myself in which Hilda’s gentle purity, your sensibility, and Donatello’s genial simplicity gave me almost my first experience of happiness. Then came the ill-omened adventure in the catacombs. Need I tell you more? My persecutor had gone to the catacombs for penance but followed me forth with fresh impulses to crime. He had me in his power. Mad as he was, and wicked as he was he could have blasted me in the belief of all the world. In your belief and Hilda’s! Even Donatell would have shrunk from me in horror.

                                                            Donatello

Never! My instinct would have known you innocent.

                                                             Kenyon

Hilda and Donatello and myself would have acquitted you, let the world say what it might. Ah, Miriam, you should have told us this sad story sooner.

                                                            Miriam

I thought often of revealing it to you. It sometimes seemed about to leap out of my heart, but I thrust it back again. Had I obeyed my first impulse, all would have turned out differently.

                                                            Kenyon

And Hilda! What can have been her connection with all these dark incidents?

                                                           Miriam

She will doubtless tell you today with her own lips. Through sources of information which I possess in Rome I can assure you of her safety. I will tell you where to go to rejoin her as soon as Donatello and I leave you.

                                                          Kenyon

I will be so happy. And somehow I feel that when I rejoin her, she will give her heart to me and we shall be happy together and soon married.

                                                          Miriam

Ah, you are cruel now expressing your future happiness, more cruel than you know. Spare your poor friends.

                                                          Kenyon

I know not what you mean, Miriam.

                                                        Miriam

No Matter. You will understand later. Here is Donatello haunted with remorse and an unbreakable resolve to obtain what he calls justice for himself. He fancies that when a wrong has been done, the doer is bound to submit himself to whatever tribunal takes cognizance of such things and abide its judgment.

                                                    Donatello

I will not argue the point again. I have no need for argument but only a sense, an impulse, an instinct, I believe, that sometimes leads me right.

                                                   Miriam

Is he not beautiful? So changed, yet still in a deeper sense so much the same. He has travelled in a circle as all things heavenly and earthly do, and now comes back to his original self, with an inestimable treasure of improvement won from an experience of pain. Was our crime a means of education, bringing a simple and imperfect nature to a point of feeling and intelligence which it could have reached under no other discipline?

                                                  Kenyon

You stir up deep and dangerous matter, Miriam. I dare not follow you into the deep abysses where you are tending.

                                                  MIriam

I delight to brood on the verge of this great mystery. The story of the fall of man. Is it not repeated in our romance? Was that very sin by which Adam precipitated himself and all his race, was it the destined means by which over a long pathway of toil and sorrow, we are to attain a higher, brighter and profounder happiness than our lost birthright gave? Will not this idea account for the permitted existence of sin as no other theory can?

                                                   Kenyon

It is too dangerous, Miriam! I cannot follow you. Mortal man has no right to walk on the ground where you now set your feet.

                                                  Miriam

Ask Hilda what she thinks of it. At least she might conclude that sin, which man chose instead of good, has been so beneficently handled by omniscience and omnipotence that, although the devil, our dark enemy, sought to destroy us by it, it has really become an instrument most effective in the education of intellect and soul. In any case, I believe her knowledge of the sinful world in her recent experience has made her heart ernest to become your bride.

                                                              (A pause. She takes his hand in token of farewell.     
                                                               Donatello comes near and takes it also.)

Your marriage is about to begin just as ours is about to end because Donatello has chosen to walk on a path to a prison. Go to the Corso and stand in front of the fifth house on your left beyond the Antonine column. Look up at the balcony among the crowd of dignities that gather there and you will find your future bride. She will smile brightly when she sees you and she will descend to you and take your hand. Farewell.

                                                       Donatello

Farewell.

                                                        Kenyon

                                                          (He stands watching them leave.)

Farewell, dear friends.

                                                           (Lights out. A long pause with nothing happening.
                                                             Hawthorne appears.)

                                                     Hawthorne

Alas, dear friends, I must also say farewell. Farewell to you all for this is the end of my drama. Alas, I must also say farewell to myself in my role tonight as Nathaniel Hawthorne. Henceforth I am not he but a mere actor. Here are my fellow actors.

                                                      (The five actors come out for applause. At the end of the
                                                        applause the Kenyon actor speaks to the audience.)

Please my friends remain with us just a few moments more. We actors want to leave you with a taste of the descriptive genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Listen as the six of us recite for you one great long sentence of his describing his experience of Rome in his great novel, The Marble Faun.

                                                     (The 6 line up in the sequence Hawthorne, Miriam, Donatello, Hilda, Kenyon, Model.)

                                                           Hawthorne

When we have once known Rome and left her where she lies

                                                            Miriam

like a long-decaying corpse retaining a trace of the noble shape it was

                                                             Donatello

but with accumulated dust and fungous growth overspreading all its more admirable features

                                                             Hilda

Left her in utter weariness, no doubt, of her narrow, crooked, intricate streets

                                                             Kenyon

So uncomfortably paved with little rock squares that to tread over them is a penitential pilgrimage

                                                            Model

So indescribably ugly, moreover, so cold, so alley-like, into which the sun never falls

                                                            Hawthorne

And where a chill wind forces its deadly breath into our lungs

                                                             Miriam

Left Rome, tired of the sight of those seven-storied, yellow-washed hovels

                                                              Donatello

Or call them palaces, where all that is dreary in domestic life seems magnified and multiplied

                                                             Hilda

And weary of climbing those staircases, which ascend from a ground floor of cookshops, cobbler’s stalls, stables, and regiments of cavalry

                                                             Kenyon

To a middle region of princes, cardinals and ambassadors, and an upper tier of artists, just beneath the unattainable sky

                                                          Model

Left Rome worn out with shivering at the cheerless and smoky fireside by day

                                                              Hewthorne

and feasting with our bodies the ravenous bed bugs of a Roman bed at night

                                                              Miriem

Left Rome, sick at heart of Italian trickery

                                                             Donatello

Which has uprooted whatever faith in man’s integrity had endured till now

                                                              Hilda

And sick at stomach of sour bread, sour wine, rancid butter and bad cookery needlessly bestowed on evil meats

                                                              Kenyon

Left her, disgusted with the pretence of holiness and the reality of nastiness, each equally omnipresent

                                                              Model

Left her, half lifeless from the languid atmosphere, the vital principle of which has been used up long ago, or corrupted by myriads of slaughters

                                                              Hawthorne

Left her, crushed down in spirit with the desolation of her ruin, and the hopelessness of her future

                                                              Miriam

Left her, in short, hating her with all our might

                                                                  Donatello

And adding our individual curse to the infinite anathema which her old crimes have unmistakably brought down

                                                                 Hilda

When we have left Rome in such a mood as this

                                                                 Kenyon

We are astonished by the discovery, by and by

                                                                  (in the background a great image of Rome in her
                                                                   glory comes up.)

                                                                Model

That our heartstrings have mysteriously attached themselves to the Eternal City

                                                                 Hawthorne

And are drawing us there again, as if it were more familiar, more intimately our home than even the spot where we were born.

                                                                (The actors bow and the lights go down.)

   


                              

                                                           





                                                               
                                                                                    


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