Twilight. URSULA spinning. GOTTLIEB asleep in his chair.DARKER and darker! Hardly a glimmer
|Of light comes in at the window-pane;|
|Or is it my eyes are growing dimmer?|
|I cannot disentangle this skein,|
|Nor wind it rightly upon the reel.|| 5|
GOTTLIEB, starting. The stopping of thy wheel
|Has awakened me out of a pleasant dream.|
|I thought I was sitting beside a stream,|
|And heard the grinding of a mill,|
|When suddenly the wheels stood still,|| 10|
|And a voice cried Elsie in my ear!|
|It startled me, it seemed so near.|
URSULA.I was calling her: I want a light.
|I cannot see to spin my flax.|
|Bring the lamp, Elsie. Dost thou hear?|| 15|
ELSIE, within.In a moment!
GOTTLIEB. Where are Bertha and Max?
URSULA.They are sitting with Elsie at the door.
|She is telling them stories of the wood,|
|And the Wolf, and little Red Ridinghood.|
GOTTLIEB.And where is the Prince?
URSULA In his room overhead;
|I heard him walking across the floor,|
|As he always does, with a heavy tread.|
ELSIE comes in with a lamp. MAX and BERTHA follow her; and they all sing the Evening Song on the lighting of the lamps.
EVENING SONG. O gladsome light
| Of the Father Immortal,|
| And of the celestial|| 25|
| Sacred and blessed|
| Jesus, our Saviour!|
| Now to the sunset|
| Again hast thou brought us;|
| And, seeing the evening|| 30|
| Twilight, we bless thee,|
| Praise thee, adore thee!|
| Father omnipotent!|
| Son, the Life-giver!|
| Spirit, the Comforter!|| 35|
| Worthy at all times|
| Of worship and wonder!|
PRINCE HENRY, at the door.Amen!
URSULA. Who was it said Amen?
ELSIEIt was the Prince: he stood at the door,
|And listened a moment, as we chanted|| 40|
|The evening song. He is gone again.|
|I have often seen him there before.|
GOTTLIEB. I thought the house was haunted
|Poor Prince, alas! and yet as mild|
|And patient as the gentlest child!|| 45|
MAX.I love him because he is so good,
|And makes me such fine bows and arrows,|
|To shoot at the robins and the sparrows.|
|And the red squirrels in the wood!|
BERTHA.I love him, too!
GOTTLIEB. Ah, yes! we all
|Love him, from the bottom of our hearts;|
|He gave us the farm, the house, and the grange,|
|He gave us the horses and the carts,|
|And the great oxen in the stall,|
|The vineyard, and the forest range!|| 55|
|We have nothing to give him but our love!|
BERTHA.Did he give us the beautiful stork above
|On the chimney-top, with its large, round nest?|
GOTTLIEB.No, not the stork; by God in heaven,
|As a blessing, the dear white stork was given,|| 60|
|But the Prince has given us all the rest.|
|God bless him, and make him well again.|
ELSIE.Would I could do something for his sake,
|Something to cure his sorrow and pain!|
GOTTLIEB.That no one can; neither thou nor I,
|Nor any one else.|
ELSIE. And must he die?
URSULA.Yes; if the dear God does not take
|Pity upon him, in his distress,|
|And work a miracle!|
GOTTLIEB. Or unless
|Some maiden, of her own accord,|| 70|
|Offers her life for that of her lord,|
|And is willing to die in his stead.|
ELSIE. I will!
URSULA.Prithee, thou foolish child, be still!
|Thou shouldst not say what thou dost not mean!|
ELSIE.I mean it truly!
MAX. O father! this morning,
|Down by the mill, in the ravine,|
|Hans killed a wolf, the very same|
|That in the night to the sheepfold came,|
|And ate up my lamb, that was left outside.|
GOTTLIEB.I am glad he is dead. It will be a warning
|To the wolves in the forest, far and wide.|
MAX.And I am going to have his hide!
BERTHA.I wonder if this is the wolf that ate
|Little Red Ridinghood!|
URSULA. Oh, no!
|That wolf was killed a long while ago.|| 85|
|Come, children, it is growing late.|
MAX.Ah, how I wish I were a man,
|As stout as Hans is, and as strong!|
|I would do nothing else, the whole day long,|
|But just kill wolves.|
GOTTLIEB. Then go to bed,
|And grow as fast as a little boy can.|
|Bertha is half asleep already.|
|See how she nods her heavy head,|
|And her sleepy feet are so unsteady|
|She will hardly be able to creep upstairs.|| 95|
URSULA.Good night, my children. Here s the light.
|And do not forget to say your prayers|
|Before you sleep.|
GOTTLIEB. Good night!
MAX and BERTHA. Good night!
They go out with ELSIE.
URSULA, spinning.She is a strange and wayward child,
|That Elsie of ours. She looks so old,|| 100|
|And thoughts and fancies weird and wild|
|Seem of late to have taken hold|
|Of her heart, that was once so docile and mild!|
GOTTLIEB.She is like all girls.
URSULA. Ah no, forsooth!
|Unlike all I have ever seen.|| 105|
|For she has visions and strange dreams,|
|And in all her words and ways, she seems|
|Much older than she is in truth.|
|Who would think her but fifteen?|
|And there has been of late such a change!|| 110|
|My heart is heavy with fear and doubt|
|That she may not live till the year is out.|
|She is so strange,so strange,so strange!|
GOTTLIEB.I am not troubled with any such fear;
|She will live and thrive for many a year.|| 115|