Yet, sure, to suffer for the faith is sweet!
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 385
Is one to suffer for one's bridegroom's faith ?
That is a rather novel point of view.
[To the ladies.
Ladies, attend! r^ ? a Â»
[ Takes Anna s arm.
Now listen; then repeat
For his instruction what he has to do.
[They go into the background and out to the right
in eager talk with several of the ladies; the
other guests disperse in groups about the
garden. Falk stops Strawman, whose xcife
and children keep close to him. Guldstad
goes to and fro duri?ig the following conver-
Come, pastor, help young fervour in its fight,
Before they lure Miss Anna from her vows.
[In clerical cadence.]
The wife must be submissive to the spouse; â
But if I apprehended him aright.
His Call's a problematical affair,
The Offering altogether in the air â
Pray do not judge so rashly. I can give
You absolute assurance, as I live,
His Call is definite and incontestable â
386 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
[Seeing it in a new light.]
Ah â if there's something fixed â investable â
Per a n n u m â then I've nothing more to say.
You think the most of what I count the least;
I mean the inspiration , â not the pay!
[With an unctuous smile.]
Pay is the first condition of a priest
In Asia, Africa, America,
Or where you will. Ah yes, if he were free,
My dear young friend, I willingly agree.
The thing might pass; but, being pledged and bound.
He'll scarcely find the venture very sound.
Reflect, he's young and vigorous, sure to found
A little family in time; assume his will
To be the very best on earth â but still
The means, my friend â ? 'Build not upon the
Says Scripture. If, upon the other hand.
That's no trifle, I'm aware.
Ah, come â that wholly alters the affair.
When men are zealous in their Offering,
And liberal â
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 387
There he far surpasses most.
" He " say you ? How ? In virtue of his post
The Offering is not what he has to bring
But what he has to get.
[Looking towards the backgroujid.]
They're sitting there.
[After staring a moment in amazement, suddenly under-
stands and bursts out laughing.]
Hurrah for Offerings â the ones that caper
And strut â on Holy-daysâ in bulging paper!
All the year round the curb and bit we bear,
But Whitsuntide and Christmas make things square.
Why then, provided only there's enough of it,
Even family-founders will obey their Calls.
Of course; a man assured the quaiitum suff. of it
Will preach the Gospel to the cannibals.
â¢fc' [Sotto voce.
88 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
Now I must see if she cannot be led,
[To one of the little girls.
My little Mattie, fetch me out my head â
My pipe-head I should say, my little dear â
[Feels in his coat-tail 'pocket.
Nay, wait a moment tho': I have it here.
[Goes across and Jills his pipe, followed by his
icife and children.
You seem to play the part of serpent in
This paradise of lovers.
O, the pips
Upon the tree of knowledge are too green
To be a lure for anybody's lips.
[To LiND, ivho comes in from the right.
In Heaven's name, who's been ravaging
Our sanctum .'' There the lamp lies dashed
To pieces, curtain dragged to floor, pen smashed,
And on the mantelpiece the ink pot splashed â
[Clapping him on the shoulder.]
This wreck's the first announcement of my spring;
No more behind drawn curtains I will sit.
Making pen poetry with lamp alit;
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY
My dull domestic poctising's done,
I'll walk by day, and glory in the sun:
My spring has come, my soul has broken free,
Action henceforth shall be my poetry.
Make poetry of what you please for me;
But how if Mrs. Halm should take amiss
Your breaking of her furniture to pieces ?
What!â she, who lays her daughters and her nieces
Upon the altar of her boarders' bliss,â
She frown at such a bagatelle as this!
It's utterly outrageous and unfair.
And compromises me as well as you!
But that's her business, settle it with her.
The lamp was mine, tho', shade and burner tooâ
Tut, on that head, I've no account to render;
You have God's summer sunshine in its splendour,â
What would you with the lamp ?
You are grotesque;
You utterly forget that summer passes;
If I'm to make a figure in my classes
At Christmas I must buckle to mv desk.
390 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
[Staring at him.]
What, you look forward ?
To be sure I do.
The examination's amply worth it too.
Ah but â you 'only sit and live' â remember!
Drunk with the moment, you demand no more â
Not even a modest third-class next December.
You've caught the bird of Fortune fair and fleet.
You feel as if the world with all its store
Were scattered in profusion at your feet.
Those were my words; they must be understood.
Of course, cum grano sails â
Very good !
In the forenoons I will enjoy my bliss;
That I am quite resolved on â
I have my round of visits to the clan;
Time will run anyhow to waste in this;
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 391
But any further dislocation of
My study-plan I strongly disapprove.
A week ago, however, you were bent
On going out into God's world with song.
Yes, but I thought the tour a little long;
The fourteen days might well be better spent.
Nay, but you had another argument
For staying; how the lovely dale for you
Was mountain air and winged warble too.
Yes, to be sure, this air is unalloyed;
But all its benefits may be enjoyed
Over one's book without the slightest bar.
But it was just the Book which failed, you see.
As Jacob's ladder â
How perverse you are:
That is what people say when they are f r e e â
[Looking at him and folding his hands in silent amaze-
Thou also, Brutus!
392 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
[With a shade of confusion and annoyance.]
Pray remember, do!
That I have other duties now than you;
I have my fiancee. Every pHghted pair.
Those of prolonged experience not excepted, â
Whose evidence you would not wish rejected, â
Will tell you, that if two are bound to fare
Through life together, they must â
The comment; who supplied it?
Well, we'll say
Stiver, he's honest surely; and Miss Jay,
Who has such very great experience here.
She says â
Well, but the Parson and his â dear?
Yes, they're remarkable. There broods above
Them such placidity, such quietude, â
Conceive, she can't remember being wooed,
Has quite forgotten what is meant by love.
Ah yes, when one has slumber'd over long,
The birds of memory refuse their song.
[Laying his hand on Lind's shoulder, with an
You, Lind, slept sound last night, I guarantee ?
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 393
And long. I went to bed in such depression,
And yet with such a fever in my brain,
I almost doubted if I could be sane.
Ah yes, a sort of witchery, you see.
Thank God I woke in perfect self-possession.
[During the foregoing scene Strawman has been
seen from time to time walking in the back-
ground in lively conversation with Anna;
Mrs. Strawman and the children follow.
Miss Jay noiv appears also, and with lier
Mrs. Halm and otJier ladies.
[Before she enters.]
Ah, Mr. Lind.
They're after me again!
Come, let us go.
Nay, nay, you must remain.
Let us make speedy end of the division
That has crept in between your love and you.
Are we divided ?
394 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
[Pointing to Anna, who is standing further off in the
Gather the decision
From yon red eyes. The foreign mission drew
But heavens, she was glad to go â
Yes, to be sure, one would imagine so!
No, my dear Lind, you'll take another view
When you have heard the whole affair discussed.
But then this warfare for the faith, you know.
Is my most cherished dream!
O who would build
On dreaming in this century of light ?
Why, Stiver had a dream the other night;
There came a letter singularly sealed â
It's treasure such a dream prognosticates.
Yes, and next day they sued him for the rates.
[The ladies make a circle round Lind and go in
conversation with him into the garden.
ACT 11] LOVE'S COMEDY 395
[Continuing, to Anna, who faintly tries to escape.]
From these considerations, daughter mine,
From these considerations, buttressed all
With reason, morals, and the Word Divine,
You now perceive that to desert your Call
Were absolutelv inexcusable.
Oh! I'm so young â
And it is natural,
I own, that one should hesitate to thrid
These perils, dare the snares that there lie hid;
From doubt's entanglement you must break free, â
Be of good cheer and follow Moll and me!
Yes, your dear mother tells me that I too
Was just as inconsolable as you
When we received our Call â
And for like cause â
The fascination of the town â it was;
But when a little money had come in.
And the first pairs of infants, twin by twin.
She quite got over it.
396 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
[Sotto voce to Strawman.]
Bravo, you able
[Nodding to him and turning again to Anna.]
Now you've promised me, be stable.
Shall man renounce his work ? Falk says the Call
Is not so very slender after all.
Did you not, Falk ?
Nay, pastor â
To be sure â !
Of something then at least you are secure.
What's gained by giving up, if that is so ?
Look back into the ages long ago,
See, Adam, Eve â the Ark, see, pair by pair.
Birds in the field â the lilies in the air.
The little birds^ â the little birds â the fishes â
[Continues in a loiver tone, as lie withdraws
[Miss Jay ayid the Aunts return with Lind.]
Hurrah! Here come the veterans in array;
The old guard charging to retrieve the day!
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 397
All, in exact accordance with our wishes! [Aside.
We have him, Falk ! â Now let us tackle her!
[With a deprecating motion.]
She needs no secular solicitation;
The Spirit has spoken, what can Earth bestead â .'
If in some small degree my words have sped.
Power was vouchsafed me â !
Come, no more evasion,
Bring them together!
Ah, how exquisite!
Yes, can there be a heart so dull and dead
As not to be entranced at such a sig-ht!
It is so thrilling and so penetrating,
So lacerating, so exhilarating.
To see an innocent babe devoutly lay
Its offering on Duty's altar.
Her family have also done their part.
398 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
I and the Aunts â I should imagine so.
You, Lind, may have the key to Anna's heart,
[Presses his hand.
But we possess a picklock, you must know.
Able to open where the key avails not.
And if in years to come, cares throng and thwart,
Only apply to us, our friendship fails not.
Yes, we shall hover round you all your life, â
And shield you from the fiend of wedded strife.
Enchanting group ! Love, friendship, hour of glad-
Yet so pathetically touched with sadness.
[Turning to Lind.
But now, young man, pray make an end of this.
[Leading Anna to him.
Take thy betrothed â receive her â with a kiss!
[Giving his hand to Anna.]
I stay at home !
[At the same moment.]
I go with you!
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 399
You stay ?
You go with me ?
[With a helpless glatice at the company.]
Why, then, we are divided as before!
What's this ?
What now ?
Our wills are all at war â
She gave her solemn word to cross the sea
And he gave his to slay ashore
They both complied; what would you more!
400 LOVE'S COMEDY [actii
These complications are too much for me.
[Goes towards the background.
[To one another.]
How in the world came they to disagree ?
[To GuLDSTAD and Stiver, who have been walking
in the garden and now approach.]
The spirit of discord's in possession here.
[Talks aside to them.
[To Miss Jay, noticing that the table is being laid.]
There comes the tea.
Hurrah! a cheer
For love and friendship, maiden aunts and tea!
But if the case stands thus, the whole proceeding
May easily be ended with a laugh;
All turns upon a single paragraph,
Which bids the wife attend the spouse. No pleading
Can wrest an ordinance so clearly stated â
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY
Doubtless, but does that help us to agree ?
She must obey a law that heaven dictated.
But Lind cau circumvent that law, you see.
Put oflF your journey, and thenâ budge no jot.
Yes, that's the way.
That cuts the knot.
[SvANHiLD and the maids have meantime laid
the tea-table beside the verandah steps. At
Mrs. Halm's invitation the ladies sit down.
Tlie rest of the company take their places,
partly on the verandah and in the summer-
house, partly in the garden. Falk sits on the
verandah. During the following scene thei,
And so our little storm is overblown.
Such summer showers do good when they are gone;
402 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
The sunshine greets us with a double boon.
And promises a cloudless afternoon.
Ah yes, Love's blossom without rainy skies
Would never thrive according to our wishes.
In dry land set it, and it forthwith dies;
For in so far the flowers are like the fishes â
Nay, for Love lives, you know, upon the air â
Which is the death of fishes â
So I say.
Aha, we've put a bridle on you there!
The tea is good, one knows by the bouquet.
Well, let us keep the simile you chose.
Love is a flower; for if heaven's blessed rain
Fall short, it all but pines to deathâ [Pauses.
What then ?
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 403
[With a gallant bow.]
Then come the aunts with the reviving hose. â
But poets have this simile employed.
And men for scores of centuries enjoyed, â
Yet hardly one its secret sense has hit;
For flowers are manifold and infinite.
Say, then, what flower is love.? Name me, who
The flower most like it ?
Why, it is the rose;
Good gracious, that's exceedingly well known; â
Love, all agree, lends life a rosy tone.
A Young Lady.
It is the snowdrop; growing, snow enfurled;
Till it peer forth, undreamt of by the world.
It is the dandelion, â made robust
By dint of human heel and horse hoof thrust;
Nay, shooting forth afresh when it is smitten.
As Pedersen so charmingly has written.
It is the bluebell, â ringing in for all
Young hearts life's joyous Whitsun festival.
No, 'tis an evergreen, â as fresh and gay
In desolate December as in May.
404 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
No, Iceland moss, dry gathered, â far the best
Cure for young ladies with a wounded breast.
No, the wild chestnut tree, â in high repute
For household fuel, but with a bitter fruit.
No, a camelia; at our balls, 'tis said,
The chief adornment of a lady's head.
No, it is like a flower, O such a bright one; â
Stay now â a blue one, no, it was a white one â
What i s its name â ? Dear me â the one I met â ;
Well it is singular how I forget!
None of these flower similitudes will run.
The flowerp o t is a likelier candidate.
There's only room in it, at once, for one;
But by progressive stages it holds eight.
[With his little girls round him.]
No, love's a pear tree; in the spring like snow
With myriad blossoms, which in summer grow
To pearlets; in the parent's sap each shares; â
And with God's help they'll all alike prove pears.
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 405
So many heads, so many sentences!
No, you all grope and blunder off the line.
Each simile's at fault; I'll tell you mine; â
You're free to turn and wrest it as you please.
[Rises as if to make a speech.
In the remotest east there grows a plant ;^
And the sun's cousin's garden is its haunt â
Ah, it's the tea-plant!
His voice is so
Like Strawman's when he â
Don't disturb his flow.
It has its home in fabled lands serene;
Thousands of miles of desert lie between; â
Fill up, Lind! â So. â Now in a tea-oration,
I'll show of tea and Love the true relation.
[The guests cluster round him.
It has its home in the romantic land;
Alas, Love's home is also in Romance,
Only the Sun's descendants understand
The herb's right cultivation and advance.
*See Notes, page 483.
406 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
With Love it is not otherwise than so.
Blood of the Sun along the veins must flow
If Love indeed therein is to strike root.
And burgeon into blossom, into fruit.
But China is an ancient land; you hold
In consequence that tea is very old â
Past question antecedent to Jerusalem.
Yes, 'twas already famous when Methusalem
His picture-books and rattles tore and flung â
And Love is in its very nature young!
To find a likeness there is pretty bold.
No; Love, in truth, is also very old;
That principle we here no more dispute
Than do the folks of Rio or Bey rout.
Nay, there are those from Cayenne to Caithness,
Who stand upon its everlastingness; â
Well, that may be a slight exaggeration.
But old it is beyond all estimation.
But Love is all alike; whereas we see
Both good and bad and middling kinds of tea!
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 407
Yes, they sell tea of many qualities.
The green spring shoots I count the very first â
Those serve to quench celestial daughters' thirst.
A Young Lady.
Witching as ether fumes they say it is â
Balmy as lotus, sweet as almond, clear â
That's not an article we deal in here.
[Who has meanwhile come down from the verandah.]
Ah, ladies, every mortal has a small
Private celestial empire in his heart.
There bud such shoots in thousands, kept apart
By Shyness's soon shatter'd Chinese Wall.
But in her dim fantastic temple bower
The little Chinese puppet sits and sighs,
A dream of far-off wonders in her eyes â
And in her hand a golden tulip flower.
For her the tender firstling tendrils grew; â
Rich crop or meagre, what is that to you ?
Instead of it we get an after crop
They kick the tree for, dust and stalk and stem, â
As hemp to silk beside what goes to them â
408 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
That is the black tea,
That's what fills the shop.
There's beef tea too, that Holberg says a word ofâ
To modern taste entirely out of date.
And a beef love has equally been heard of.
Wont â in romances â to browbeat its mate,
And still they say its trace may be detected
Amongst the henpecked of the married state.
In short there's likeness where 'twas least expected.
So, as you know, an ancient proverb tells,
That something ever passes from the tea
Of the bouquet that lodges in its cells.
If it be carried hither over sea.
It must across the desert and the hills, â
Pay toll to Cossack and to Russian tills; â
It gets their stamp and licence, that's enough,
"We buy it as the true and genuine stuff.
But has not Love the self-same path to fare ?
Across Life's desert ? How the world would rave
And shriek if you or I should boldly bear
ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY
Our Love by way of Freedom's ocean wave!
I' Good heavens, his moral savour's passed away,
"And quite dispersed LegaHty's bouquet!"â
Yes, happily,â in every moral land
Such wares continue to be contraband!
Yes, to pass current here. Love must have cross'd
The great Siberian waste of regulations,
Fann'd by no breath of ocean to its cost;
It must produce official attestations
From friends and kindred, devils of relations.
From church curators, organist and clerk.
And other fine folksâ over and above
The primal licence which God gave to Love.â
And then the last great point of likeness;â mark
How heavily the hand of culture weighs
Upon that far Celestial domain;
Its power is shatter 'd, and its wall decays.
The last true Mandarin's strangled; hands profane
Already are put forth to share the spoil;
Soon the Sun's realm will be a legend vain,
An idle tale incredible to sense;
The world is gray in grayâ we've flung tlie soil
On buried Faery,â we have made her mound.
But if we have,â then where can Love be found ?
Alas, Love also is departed hence! [Lifts his cup.
Well let him go, since so the times decree;â
A health to Amor, late of Earth,â in tea!
[He drains his cup; indignant murmurs amongst
410 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ii
A very odd expression! "Dead" indeed!
To say that Love is dead â !
Why, here you see
Him sitting, rosy, round and sound, at tea.
In all conditions! Here in her sable weed
The widow â
Here a couple, true and tried, â
With many ample pledges fortified.
Then Love's light cavalry, of maid and man.
The plighted pairs in order â
In the van
The veterans, whose troth has laughed to scorn
The tooth of Time-
And then the babes new-born â
The little novices of yester-morn â
ACT II] ' LOVE'S COMEDY 411
Spring, summer, autumn, winter, in a word.
Are here; the truth is patent, past all doubt.
It can be clutched and handled, seen and heard, â
What then ?
And yet you want to thrust it out!
Madam, you quite mistake. In all I spoke
I cast no doubt on anything you claim;
But I would fain remind you that, from smoke.
We cannot logically argue flame.
That men are married, and have children, I
Have no desire whatever to deny;
Nor do I dream of doubting that such things
Are in the world as troth and wedding-rings;
That billets-doux some tender hands indite
And seal with pairs of turtle doves that â fight;
That sweethearts swarm in cottage and in hall.
That chocolate rewards the wedding-call;
That usage and convention have decreed.
In every point, how "Lovers" shall proceed: â
But, heavens! We've majors also by the score.
Arsenals heaped with muniments of war.
With spurs and howitzers and drums and shot.
But what does that permit us to infer?
That we have men who dangle swords, but not
That they will wield the weapons that they wear.
Tho' all the plain with gleaming tents you crowd.
Does that make heroes of the men they shroud ?
412 LO^^E'S COMEDY - [act n
Well, all in moderation; I must o-^n.
It is not quite conducive to the truth
That we should paint the enamourment of youth
So bright, as if â ahem â it stood alone.
Love-making still a frail foundation is.
Only the snuggery of wedded bliss
Provides a rock where Love may builded be
In unassailable security.
There I entirelv differ. In mv view,
A free accord of lovers, heart with heart,
Who hold together, having leave to part.
Gives the best warrant that their love is true.
O no â Love's bond when it is fresh and young
Is of a stuff more precious and more strong.
Possibly the ideal flower may blow.
Even as that snowdrop, â hidden by the snow.