Shadow On Solitude

Shadow on Solitude
A Play in One Act
by Claro M. Recto

The original of this book is in
the Cornell University Library,
PR 9900.P5R31

Characters :

Gabriela - The Wife

Andres - The husband

Marina - The sister

Don Narciso - The uncle

Luisa ' - The family friend

The Scene i3 a living room marked by simplicity, good taste, and
the atmosphere of the cultured middle class'. Door at left leads
into the clinic and laboratory of Andres; two doors at right lead
into the bedrooms and, the rest of the house. At rear, center,
between wide sunny windows, is the main door, which opens into a
wide hall*

It is "five o'clock on an April afternoon in 1917 •

As curtain opens, Andres sits reading, Gabriela sits knitting, and
Don Narciso is Just coming in through the main door.

GABRIELA
Good afternoon, Tio Narciso I

ANDRES
(rising and making a gesture tcr kiss the older man's hand): Hola,
Tio Narciso.

D. NARCISO
What news, children? I have come to be informed-. And Marina —
Where is she,

;■ GABRIELA.
Very busy with her patients. Oh* she hasn't been, still a minute
since she came back. Everybody, who is sick wants to have her,
especially the menfolk. I do believe some of them even pretend to
be ill. You hasre no idea how popular she is.

D. NARCISO

« And how was her vacation in Zamboanga?.

GABRIELA
Just wonderful. She has come back looking gorgeous — and
with such a lovely color. Don't you think so, Andres?

ANDRES
(dryly) I really hadn't noticed.

D. KARCISO
And you, Andres — how did you get that scratch? And how is
your heart, Gabriela? Now, look — one must not trifle with
the emotions; the human heatt is most untrustworthy. And
\at any moment at. all… Oh, all right, all right~.-I am
"'glad it was nothing. But, caramba, it seems to be the talk
of the town. Look Andres — would you like to tell me how it
all began?

■>"> ANDRES

Quite simply. Last night, at the club, that scoundrel of a
Flores thought fit to amuse his friends by hinting that…
Oh, nothing; A vile slander! The kind of rumor that's so
nasty you could nhoke people for uttering it. . But you know
how It is here in Manila. There's so much mud-slinging no
reputation can consider itself safe.

D. NARCISO :■ .
But what was the rumor? Tell me. ' .-

It's .unspeakable'.

ANDRES

GABRIELA
Oh, tell him, Andres. Why worry, No sensible person be-
lieves it.

ANDRES
Well— -the rumor is that between Marina and me… Oh it's
outrageous 1 You know what I mean, TIo Narciso.

B. NARCISO
yes, yes, I understand. And Flores dared to imply that?
Without any basis?

, ANDRES
To vilify Is not difficult. And one can always invent a
reason to Justify oneself. Well — I grabbed him by the neck
as soon as I heard what he was saying. I was so blind with
rage I- didn't even notice he had knifed me.

' - . • - 2 -

D. NARCISO
And those who were present? ^

ANDRES
They separated us .

D. NARCISO
I mean, how did they take what Flores said?

ANDRES
Well, you can imgine. A few seemdd to be shocked. But
the others — the majority — could hardly conceal , their de-
light. Naturally. A new topic for gossip, another home
for the brutes .

D. NARCISO
2nd Gabriel?

ANDRES
—Oh, she had already been informed of the incident, by
telephone, even before I came home from the club. And so
she had this heart-attack which could have cost us so much
anguish. You know how excitable she is. Fortunately it was.
nothing serious.

GABRIEL*!
, If these scandalmongers would only think of the harm they
- do* -

D. NARCISO
It is good not to give occasion for gossip.

ANDRES _;

But even better not to pay any attention to it. Let them
talk. What else can we do? The world lives on slander and,-=
like Satura§.ydevours its own children.

D. NARCISO
Let us be fair, .Andres . Gossip often serves the cause of
morality. The fear of what they will say is like a sword
of Damocles and stops us from committing a lot of follies.
Ultimately, .gossip is a necessary evil. However, the world
usually does not molest you — unless you defy it first.

ANDRES
And who is defying it?

GABRJELA
What do you mean,- Tio Narciso,

D* NARCISO
That we are all slaves of convention; and that if we wish
the world to leave us alone, we must act according to those
conventions . The world has its rules —

ANDRES 7
Its prejudices, you mean.

D. NARCISO .
Perhaps. But what do you call, so disdainfully, prejudices?
Ideas which may have become somewhat old-fashioned but which
were new once, and which are, perhaps, more worthy of our
respect than these ideas now in vogue, these new ideas whose
novelty enraptures a handful of idiots. Do not despise any-
thing because it is old, Andres. There are certain princi-
ples the splendor of which endures, no matter what unheavals
the world may suffer, like those' cliffs which resist the
blows of the lightning.

ANDRES
As an orator and a sophist, you are certainly not middling,
sir.

D. NARCISO
Hombre, as an orator, I will not say that I am not capable,
every now and then of spouting a fine peroration; but as
for being a sphist, I would say that he fits the role bet-
ter who insists that the world should not be what it is:
prejudices (as you would say), conventionalism, social con-
siderations — all the things that, together, make life, not
the life we dream of but this life we live. :

, ANDRES

(smouldering) And are we to resign ourselves to carrying
this yoke, sacrificing our ideas and our sentiments? A fine
theory! If it depended on- you, sir, we would still be in
fig leaves 1

GABRIELA
Andres is right.

D. NARCISO
We who are just plain nobodies should let the world run its
natural course, until the operation of chance, or some other
stronger element, pushes it into a new direction^. If anyone
rashly tries to alter the course of the world out of mere
vanity or presumption…or to justify a folly… it will be
merely justice should he be crushed to death. And there, are
certain acts which, in any kind of society, constitute a
brazen provocation which oo society should tolerate.

ANDRES
(visibly stuhg) But of what am I accused by this society
which you seem to represent at this moment? Of believing
the way I do? Let me say that if I should ever find myself
caught in a conflict between the dictates of society and
those of my own conscience, I would follow what my conscience
commanded— and society can go to…to wherever it pleases 1
Why not speak plainly, Tio Naricso?

GABRIELA •
For God's sake, Andres, don't lose your temper*

- D. NARCISO
If you think I have come to investigate your actions, Andres,
you are .foolishly mistaken. I was speaking of people in gene*
ral and. of no one in particular.

GABRIELA'
That's right, Andres. Tio Narciso did not mean to offend
you.. He was merely teasing you— as usual. But you have
made yourself so nervous-. Hny should you care what other
people think as long as I am sure of your love?

' ANDRES

That you, Gabriela — you're right. You're only one who should
judge me. And as long as you do not say that I do wrong, I
can be confident that my behaviour is without reproach.

D. NARCISO
(aside) An excellent ideal '

GABRIELA r

Andres loves me very much, Tio Narciso, and he will never
be capable of stabbing me here. This heart is too sensitive
and fragile. He knows that, he is a doctor— don't you,
Andres, Between you and deception stands this fortress.
You know how weak it is. But on it I rely, because I know
you would never darw to storm it if you saw you wore destroy-
ing it…

ANDRES
That's onough, that's enough. Don't say anything more.
You can be tranquil onthat score.

D. NARCISO
(aside) Something grips her in tho heart… Poor Gabriela I

GABRIELA
Vory well, I'll leave you a monfont— but, careful, no quar-
reling, eh?

ANDRES
Wbare^are you gfcing Gabriela?

GABRIELS
To the hosgital, to visit Chafdto Medina. I've just heard
she had another attack. You know that she and I suffer
from the same sickness. And it looks as if this time the
poor dear is going… Would you like to come with me to
the hospital, Tlo Narciso;

D. NARCISO
Why not?

GABRIELA
Then wait here just a moment, and while you and Andres are

straightening up the world — or upsetting it I'll go out

to |he garden and cut a few roses for Charito. Haven't you
noticed, Tio, Narciso, that my roses are in bloom? They are
a heavenly sight. How about you, Andres— will you be coming
with us to the hospital?

ANDRES
(irritable and uneasy) Yes, yes, darling. You better hurry,
it's getting late. (Exit GABRIEIA through front door. ANDRES
moves towqrd his laboratory.) Do make yourself at home, Tio
Narciso. And you'll have to excuse me, I have to go and bury
myself in my clinic. There's a very urgent case I have to
study. I don't believe I can accompany you to the hospital.
With your permission, sir.

■D. NARCISO
Very well, don't let me keep you. But, frankly, I came to
have a few words with you — if that is not too much of a
bother,

ANDRES
I waited until Gabriela hdd left us alone. She must not know
anything. It would be criminal to rob that hapless woman of
her illusions. She is so in love with you, so blindly in

love. And for her — a romantic and a sentimentalist

the blow could be fatal. But that is how she has been brought
up— for a good love, a good home, a good life, nothing more.
She is not strong enough to grapple with the difficulties of
modern life, like you, or like Marina.. .,

ANDRES
(mockingly) Yes, yes — you don't have to continue, I know
what's coming. I am a 'practical man and I always see the
point at "once. Are you one of those who have been throwing
to the greedy dogs of society this bit of home to crunch?

- 6 -

You are insulting me, Andres. If this matter did not in-
volve these orphans, these daughters, of my only sifeter, I
would not waste my time here. I expected, before I Came,
that I would be a mere voice crying in the wilderness*

ANDRES
But you seem to be just as airid as everyone else, sir, to
lick up this latest piece of smut. , :

■'"' Dv'NaRCISO
A little more decency, 'Andres. Your house is not a brothel…

ANDRES
Oh, come nowi sir— just why have you, come? To lecture me on

how to behave?"

  • , , /_ ■ -

D. NARCISO
No, but on something more important*, how to live among de-
cent people. A. fince scandal you have raised; and you have
dragged down not only your name but the dignity of other
people — a dignity that deserved all your respect, since you
had so little respect for you own. I cannot ask you not to
have mistresses; that is ■something; only your conscience can
decide. But have you become so heartless, so unscrupulous,
that you could corrupt this. ; girl who should have been sacred
to'you, because she is the sister of your wife and, therefore,
your own sister? " Marina—

j»NDRES
Lies, lies, lies J How is it possible that you can join these
people so envious of our position and our happiness that they
are now spitefully trying to destroy my home?

DN. NARCISO
(contemptuously) You have destroyed your home, hypocrite!

ANDRES
You can think .what you will of me, sir- But you can do
nothing, because Gabriela believes in me and has faith in
my love. You would not dare to kill her with a lie.;

■ D.., NARCISO
Stop clowning! (Solemnly} I*n the name of my forefathers,
who lived and died with honor, and of all my kinsmen, who
are bound to keep intact that heritage of honor, I demand
that you make reparation — no, not reparation; that is not
possible, for how can water thrown into a pigsty be made*
clean again?.— but a stop, yes; a stop to your madness, by

wearing a strait jacket if necessary, for the good of all of

- 7 -

VLB, and to save Gabriela, who, if she should discover your
iniquity, would die of horror and shame. And I do not speak
of a metaphorical death. She would actually die— and don't
you doubt it.

ANDRES
Enough of lies, enough of liesl It's easy to make an accu-
sation but it's not enough to point one's finger. Where are
your proofs? Youhear a piece of gossip and start raging. I
beg you, sir, to quiet your nerves and believe in my innocence.

D. NARCISO
That is why I came — to convince myself that you had sunk so
low.' Unfortunately > it is" useless to plead innocent. I have
proofs.

ANDRES
Then tell me, sir, what they are.

said D. NARCISO
I should not have/proofs — since there is only one, although
it is worth a iot, because it is a living proof, a vital
proof…. Shall I go on, The fruit of your iniquity!

ANDRES
Oh, that is false, Don Narciso 1 . Go forgive you and all
thpse who join you to slander me!

D. NARCISO *
Ask forgiveness for yourself, you need it. I will not sfcay
more. You will soon crash to the ground, for you are walking
on a lightrbpe and you are a poor acrobat. (Andress flees
into his clinic as DON NAR€ISQ goes toward front door, where
he encounters MARINA entering, in her nurse's uniform.)

MARINA
Good afternoon, Tlo Narciso. Are you leaving?

D. NARCISO
(drily j already outside) Yes, but I'll be back at once.
Goodbye .

(Exit DON NARCISO. Enter GABRIELA
at right, with a sheaf of roses in
her arms . )

GABRIELA
(placing roses on the table) Where's Tio Narciso?

- 8 -

MfiRINA
When I arrived, he was just leaving. He looked mAd.

GABRIELA
The usual row with Andres, over Ideas. They can't seem
to. agree on anything. Well, and how was It at the hospital?

GABRIELA
There was no scandal? They say her father almost killed her.

MARINA
(indifferently) No, no scandal.

GABRIELA
I am shocked by the nerve of these modern girls. But with
this freedom to go out alone whenever they piease, this
mixing of the sexes in the schools' (co-education, they call ,
it),' these provocative movies — what other result can you
expect?

MARINA
Young people in other countries enjoy greater freedom, but
the atmosphere there is all security and confidence. This
free air nowadays seems more healthy and wholesome than the
cloistered safety of our grandmothers. The girls of today
are learning to be strong.

GABRIELA
Very strong indeed. We see now in what their strength (consists.

MARINA
If they fall, it is because they want to.

GABRIEL
I see no difference between stumbling on purpose and stumb-
ling by accident. You twist your ankle just the same, or
maybe break a. leg, and that is what we try to avoid. And
thatgltfls of today seem to be more steady… We were
educated differently in the old days.

MARINA
How one is educated does not matter. There haVe been cases
of "stumbling" too, among girls who never stepped out of
their houses.. And that was in the old days, under the old
system.

GABRIELA
Yes, I know. But not In such alarming numbers. Those were
isolated cases, products of the human condition. These of

- 9 -

today have become a plague. And if it's true that many of
these girls, to save their honor, result to criminal means…
Ugh, how horrible! That's where all this progress and modern-
ity have bf ought us. and the sad thing, is that nobody se^ms
eager to correct the situation,

MSRINA -'
Now, don't start blaming the system of education. Falling
into film, does not form part of the curriculum.

GABRIELA
What's wrong is that there is too much laxity, and not enough
religious* training-'- and so we have indecency and shameless-
ness. The decay of our customs is a consequence of this
lack of balance. Perhaps that is considered good in other
x/ countries, but here the effect one sees is disastrous. It is
too Bareign to our traditional upbringing, to our way of life.
And ^hen these countrymen of ours are so. prone to exaggeration;
when they start copying, they turn into unhappy caricatures;
of their models. It's really amazing: this talent of ours for
imitating precisely what is bad. 4s Tio Narciso once remoteked,
when it comes to importing new fashions, our policy is free
entry for the. bad, a high tariff for the good.

MARINA
The remarks of Tio Narciso have an absolute authority for you.
You repeat them as if they were Holy Scriptures . I prefer
to think and to act on my own account.

GABRIELA
They are not just remarks, Marina. They are maximes, old
proverbs that carrja the folk wisdom of our fathers. Who
will not listen to them goes through the sea of life on a
rudderless boat, adrift, and in peril of shattering against
the first rock.

MARINA
Just a carbon copy of Tio Narciso 1

(Enter LUISA through the. front
door.)

Good afternoonl
Hola, LuisaJ

LUISA
GABRIEL*

MSRINA
Luis a, you here? A miracle!

- 10 -

. LUISA
How goes every thing here? I heard that Marina has- just
returned from Zamboanga, and I have come to. greet her- Oh,
and also, like a good friend of all of you, to learn Just
exactly what happened at the club last nigh;b.

GABRIELA
Oh, nothing. Andres got a scratch. I had a, little scare.
It's ovdr now. It all started with a joke by that rascal
of a Flores. And now you know everything.

LUISA
Well, I'm glad it was nothing. (To MARINA) How you have
treated me, you wicked girl 1 . Five months away and not even
a post card. When you suddencly left for Zamboanga,- every-
body was surprised — naturally, since you didn't tell any
of your friends. And how was it down there? You must have
liked it, to have been able to stand five months of that
boring banishment. Do you mean to go back?

Who knows?

Luisal How are you?

MARINA

(Enter ANDRES from left)
ANDRES

LUISA
Fine, .Andres, thank you. (To MARINA) How about sweethearts-
any news in that department?

MARINA
Oh, stop' teasing me. Sweethearts, indeed.. I don't have
.the time nor the talent for that sort of silliness.

GABRIEIA
You know how she is, Luisa. Romance does not interest her.
That is where she and I differ. She thinks I am silly, and
old-fashioned, and maybe she is right. 'I'm only seven
years older than she is, but we are half a . century apart
in the way we regard life.

LUISA
As for me, I have chosen the middle course, and nothing
"Ban make me budge from there. I represent the transition — -
half Gabriela half Marina — a compromise between two vicious
extremes. I am not all heart like Gabriela, nor all brains
like Marina. For the heart, Marina, must also be given its
due.

- N ll -

Marina will give her heart iris due when the messenger she
awaits knocks on her door. In the meantime, none of these
silly fantasies which are so useless. She has received a
puactical education, this modern "education that is going to
make us strong, that will teach us to overcome everything
and everybody, to attain a certain ideal in this life.

gABRIELA
Andres has an answer to everything. He is a fine doctor
but .he would have made an even finer lawyer. For him,
there is no lost cause; when he wants to, he can defend,
with equal ardor and ability, both sides of an argument..
When he was making love to me, for instance, and when we
were first married,, he was arguing in'a different manner.

ANDRES
I was not speaking of us, Gabriela. With you, I am always
the same; we have passed the formative years. I was referring
to 'the youth of today, and of the need to give them a strong
education, so that they may learn to depend on themselves.

LUISA
But there's a lot of egoism in this' education that you praise
so much.

ANDRES
And why shouldn't there be? Happiness is egoism. I know
that you'll ask in a burst of charity: And what about other
people? Well, let them find their own happiness and be egoists
too. By this method, the time will come when everybody, without
any exception, will be happy— and what will it matter then
if they are egoists? :.s a matter of fact, nothing will be
lift of egoism except our name for it, since in a worldwhere
happiness is the common lot, everyone will hwve just whtthis
neighbor has and—

LUISA
And until that time, what? Is it not Just that those who
have achieved happiness should lend, as it were, some of
their happiness to others?

ANDRES
In that case, the method will lose its efficacy, for either
this method is rigorously applied or it is not applied at
all. There is always, too much cunning and not enough desire
to work; and if you start lending, or giving away happiness,
'few people will trouble to struggle for it. There will be

- 12 -

in this, as in everything else, a lot of cadgers and beg-
gars — don't you doubt it. But shut the door on these
parasites and they will be in the struggle, of course, but
others will rise to take their place — and always they will
be moving closer to the ideal: each and everyone with
Mtfc-own share of happiness. Let's stop calling this world
"§: Galley of tears." Actually, it is a battlefield, and
it belongs to the strong ones., to Caasar and Alexander,
and not to the weeping ones, like Job or Jeremiah — or that
Moorish king BoaBdil, who lost Granada because all he could
do was weep.

GABRIELA
Say what you. will, this world will always be for me'-the
abode of the unfortunate. There will always be more people
conquered than conquering. I prefer my Christian ideal: -
to share what I haveS with others .

ANDRES
Fundamentally, this charity of yours is egoism. You would
like to be the custodian of happiness, ' so that you can
administer and distribute it as you. please, keeping, of
course, the lion's share for yourself…. But haven't we
drifted^ away .from our original topic? Let me see now… -
yes, we were talking of a practical education. These
"fantastical" girls who spend their time chasing the dra-
gonflies of tt their dreams are* in constant 'danger of
bumping their noses against that big hard post of life;

reality.

GASRIELa
Jesus , Andres, don't say that I "The ones who are always
bumping hard and getting the ^iggest bumps are precisely
these modern tomboys of yours .

LUISA
Or tomcats. It's all the same.

s MARINA
That tongue of yours, Luisa, that tongue of yours.

GABRIELA
Tomboys or tomcats — what's the difference? The fact is
that the virtues of yesterday are now down on the ground.

LUISA *
Or up in the clouds. Anyway" they are not where they should
be— in people.

- 13 -

ANDRES
you two are terrible!

GABRIELA
All right, we have chattered enough and… Luisa, what
have you heard about Gharlto?

LUISA
I hear^ she is in a very serious condition.

MBBIN&
I just came from there. The doctors have given up hope 1

GABRIEL.*
Oh, poor dear, I must go. see her right away. Will you
comd with me Andres?

■■* ;:

ANDRES'
I'd like to, ^Gabriela, but I have to finish studying a
clinical case tonight.

GABRIELu
Oh, I see. Will you excuse, me, Luisa?

LUISA
Of course, dear. Don't be so formal.

GABRIELA
I'll see you soon. v "■'■•

(Exit GABRIELA with her roses.)

LUISA
This Gabriela never changes. -She seems to live in a world
apart— a world of goodness and illusions. But you, Marina—
every day you become more aloof and less communicative', and
your friends have reason to be worried.

ANDRES
But yhat you're doing, Luisa, is inexcusable.

LUISA
(startled) What?

ANDRES
Not coming here more often, where you know you have friends
who appreciate you.,

-i i,

MARINA
That's xtefcy true.

LUISA
Well, thanks— but you have set the example. Look, one of
my brothers got married "today and you people were cons-
picuous by your absence,.

ANDRES
You will have forgiven us already. You know why we could
not come. And nasty coincidence.

LUIfiA
Jfes, I guessed that was the reason. Everyone already knew
last night. That sort of news travels faster than sound.

ANDRES
Oh, this society of ours is intolerable 1 The peace of our
homes seems to dejbend on whether some blackguard wakes up
in good or bad humor. The smallest spark that e charlatan
happens to let drop, instantly bursts, into flame, and
before you know it, you are caughtr in the midst of a raging
fire. It's only here that people have to live so closely
spfeed upon. The day may come when it will be necessary
to appear at the window very early in the morning to ask
of each passdrby: "Listen, my good man, is it all right
for me to live? Do you give your permission?" Ah, all
this is very depressing, Luisa. Well, I must leave you
alone with Marina for a moment. With your permission?

Certainly, my lofd*

LUISA

(Exit ANDRES at left.)

MARINA
Well, now we are alone, Have you anything to tell me?

LUISA
How can you ask? You know that when two women meet,
they always have so much to tell each other they could
talk a horse's head off.

MARINA - .

Oh, let's leave the head on the poor horse and talk about
ourselves. What, have you got a sweetheart?

- 15 -

. LUISA
My dear 'g irl s y° u don't know what it means to have a sweet-
he-art, just a single one, in these days of general scarcity.
No mac^ proposes and only God disposes, as they say, The
situation. is desperate.

• MARINA
Really? Frankly, I had no idea. You know the matter does
not dEEKE interest me. Why, what ails the enchanted king-
dom of the romantics? ,

LUISA,
Well, the main trouble is that it has become difficult to
find young men who are worth the trouble. Oh, a few daz- ,
zle by their elegance, but pluck off a few feathers and you
find some very anemic chickens'. Spiritual anemia, I mean.

MARINA
Do be serious, Luisa.

LUISA
Well, then, let me tell you that there's a lot of false
gold around. ; The genuine varieties are not in circulation
I mean, you never see them at dances or gatherings, which
are the marts where the gypsies of our society go to hawk
the virtues of their damaged merchandise.,

MARINA
Whether you speak mockingly, or seriously, you are not only- v
just as good as Andres and Tio Narciso at tongue-lashing,
but you leave blisters too. So, you are still hot in the
pursuit of—

LUISA
No, truly— not any more. I, have a sweetheart. And he is
pure gold, of the kind that's not in circulation, and which
it is as rare a s fortune to find as ancient coins*

MARINA
May one know .who he is?

LUISA
I don't see why not. You/ know I have no secrets from you:
and, besides, there's no reason to keep it secret. .He is
Arturo, the poet.

MARINA
You're not Joking? Because it seems to me that a poet, at
the rate things are going —

LUISA
My ideas are different, Marina*

MARINA
I can see you are in love and I won't say anything more.
One cannot argue over love. The lovers are always right.
So, congra tuitions 1 And what-<-you love each other?

LUISA
Very much, with a ve'ry sweet love — fehe love of two souls
that understand each other; that delight in the same spirit-
ual food, and that spar as one into the infinite, embarrassed
by no earthly fetter.

MARINA
You haven't been able to escape infection,
a poet.

You talk like

LUISA
I'm so happy with this love. I have even convinced myself
that I am no longer myself but another— the very soul of
Arturo •

MARINA '
Well, well, well — up in the clouds. And here's wishing
it will be a long time before you land.

LUISA
Don't you worry* And how about you? You're the same as
always— very secretive about yourself. We who are your
friends know nothing about you. Well, do we hear all
these things — what they say about you and Andres, which
of course, we do not believe. But, look, people are
gossiping and they say you are too independent and that
this modern education you have had is no protection against
the violence of passion.

Let them talk.

MARINA
Gossip soon loses its hews ifcalue.

LUISA
All right— but what, actually, is your life?

MARINA
My life? As you see: indifferent as life itself. I have
learned to live it in my own way, without great illusions,
to spare myself the disappointments that ambush us at
every turn. It's a life that you would call dull, but
which I would not change for 'any other.

- 17 -

LUISA
Ah, "but I want a life of great Joys and great sorrows, for
the soul fulfills itself as much in pain as in pleasure.
Life with its honey and its gall, its cruelties and its
consolations— -that is the life I want to have. My soul
was made for r§.ge and rapture but not for indifference-
no, never, for indifference 1 .

MARINA
And may such a life make you happy, Luisal

»,'

LUISA
Thank you, dear friend. And now I must go. Say goodbye
for me to Andres, .and to Gabriela when she comes back.
And when are you coming to the house?

MARINA
When you least expect me. Give my regards "to your mother.

LUISA
She shall receive them. Goodbye, MStrina.

Goodbye, Luisa.

Ah, you are alone?

MARINA

(Exit LUISA, accompanied to the
door by MARINA. Enter ANDRES *
as MARINA turns away- from the
door . )

ANDRES

MARINA
(instantly moving away): Yes, Luisa just left.

ANDRES
( anxiously ) Marina I

MARINA
What is it, Andres? Speak, for God's sake! You make me
nervous. Has anything happened?

ANDRES
Yes. Don*t you know?

MARINA
What? j

- 18 **

ANDRES
Fate has begun to pursue us. Now more than ever, we should
stand as one to defend our love from everything.

MARINA

God I What are you saying? Has Gabriela found out?

ANDRES
Gabriela, no*

MARINA
But she- suspects?

ANDRES
Nothing. But the dogs that go hunting for scandals in the
streets and the clubs are now barring at our door- Gabriela
will become alarmed, and then will follow suspicion — • and
suspicion is worse than certainty. He who knows the truth
be it, sweet or bitter, is «at rest. But suspicion is a sea
without shores, a sea wracked by the worst of tempests, a
wild sea raging in the skull. I am undisturbed, but I fear
for you. Your love must not be frightened into flight when

1 need it most.

MARINA
You don't know whit I go through. Since. I came back, I
have not been living. When I go out to the street or when
I enter those houses where my services are needed— always
those same eyes that fix me with a prying or a malicious
look; always those same scarcely veiled hints… And all
this inquisition torments me; in vain I pretend to be in-
different; and I would gladly abandon mankind and go live
with the beasts, who seem kinder, or bury myself sixty
miles under the earth!

ANDRES
You were educated to be strong to rise above these monkish
scruples.

MARINA
Of no use has that education been to me. Gabriela is right.
I was arguing with her just a moment ago, because I wanted
to bolster my own spirit, but in vain. How many times have
I Invoked that spirit so that it might say to me: You did
well to sacrifice others for the sake of this Ideal of your
life. But I was merely deceiving myself, like a sacred
child wistling as he walks past a graveyard at night. No
Andres— a soul is not re-educated in a couple of years, es-
pecially when, like ours, it was forged by three centuries
in the heat of the ancient principles i This new education

- 19 -

is a costume that is too big or too small for us, that
bursts at the seams the moment we are careless or that
flaps loosely in the wind, revealing us as we really are.
Fools and boors applaud us, but we are the laughing stock
of the prudent. ' >

ANDRES
It's not that, Marina. What ha happened is that you
have been so crushed by all the prejudices in the air about
us that you now think it easier to turn your back on the
enemy. It would be__ dismal to let what i^hey say prevail
over the voice of our conscience.

MARINA
My conscience has spoken, Andres; it has already' judged
me, and it condemns me.

ANDRES
That conscience is not yours, Marina, but of the people who
have been waging war on your spirit and have now- succeeded
in making it say these preposterous things. We must
fight, Marina — fight!

MARINA
No, Andres, it is madness. This is their camp; we are the
intruders, the imposters. We cannot throw them out" be-
cause they are right. It is madness to fight— madness !

ANDRES
They are not strong, Marina. They are shadows, phantoms —
nothing more. We are the light,, because we are reality,
which is the only truth in life. : Tradition is obsolete,,
the shadow of the past, the ghost of the night. It will
fade away as soon as the, dawn breaks again on your cons-
cience. It can scare only babies.

MARINA
Say what you will, You are a man and you're wise and
you can argue better than I. But it is not the mind that
should speak now— not the mind, which is cunning and cor-
rupt EHpi which creates paradoxes and mixes truth with
falsehood— but the conscience, which alone knows how to
speak the tru^h. My conscience has spoken, Andres, and
it says that 'I have trespassed on other people's affections.

'- . ANDRES - ■ .. ,

God, Marina— that is the voice of the siren! Do not
listen Jo it!

- 20 -

MARINA . • -

We have strangled without pity the happiness of another
person, of Gabriela, and your own happiness, ,too, for the
joy I gave you was false,. The truth is the love of Gab-
riela, the true love of your love.

ANDRES
You're ravingi The only truth in my life is your love.
Gabriela is good, but she has nBVer understood me. Never
between her and me was that fusion of ' thought and feeling
which is the secret,, of happiness,. I have always lived in
her heart like a stranfeer. But I called to your hSart • *
and I found my true home there, and,iB&3fcBJB3sfeEE£Hc now I „
know that I cannot live unless I live in your life. Nature
refuse to recognize my union with Gabriela, but if has
blessed our lpVe, your love and mine," with a son,_our son

MARINA
For God's sake, Andres — don't ravish my heart, which has
been the cause of so much misfortune! The f heart is selfish —
and I no longer wish to be so . The time has come to make
amends. I will do penance for you, for both of us, but go
back to Gabriela while there is^time. Let us not make our
crime worse with our wilf ullnes's . ' I have my son, and I
ishall live for him, for him alone.

ANDRES
We shall* both live for him. I will do penance, if God
wills it, but at your side — beside you and the child of
our, loins, of our two souls fused in the fire of love!
What do we care about other people?

MARINA
Don't be cruel, Andres. We have bden cruel enough.

ANDRES
It would be more cruel to part from eapb other, because
our union is the happiness of our son/ Rather than be
cruel to him, let us be cituel to others. Yes. Marina,
life is cruel; we cannot remedy that. If you're in a
shipwreck, it's lawful to kill to save yourself 'or to
save those you love. Think of' our child. Look: the
caravan of the happy is passing at this moment. Let us
Join it, bearing our child like a trophy,. and forget
everybody else. May they forgive us I Let us/ run away
from here!

MARINA
No, Andres! No-'l It is a crime! Oh, fear the justice
of God!

- 21 -

ANDRES
Turn your eyes away from the shadows and look there, in
the distance — life "triumphant …the future…our son…

MARINA

Yes, our. son, my little Andres… He bears your name my

son… Yes, we must save him, we must save him first I We
must be ruthless for the sake of .our son…. Where are you,
Andres? I can't see you… I'm troubled, I'm afraid.

ANDRES
Here I am; fear nothing, for nothing is stronger than
love. And should evil break your spirit or the spirit of
my son, I wpuld destroy' my own soul first. Marina, come
to my arms (Embracing her) Like this; always together)

MARINA
For me, Andres— —only for me I

ANDRES
Yes, for you, only for you and for your son*

(As the stand clasped together
speaking those last words, GABRIELA
appears in the front door, stares
a moment at the lovers, then sways
and presses a hand to her heart
and silently withdraws, unnoticed
by the lovers.. )

■ MARINA
(suddenly and savagelyftbreaking away) No, .Andres— stop
it! God will punish us 1

ANDRES
God has willed it. If he is Just, he will not punish us.

MKHEBft
£todres, please I Do not mock at God, n§* he may -punish
us through our son. Let us be willing to sacrifice ourselves
so that our son may live and be happy.

• " ANDRES

I can't go on without you. I have had no life of my own
since you became my life. You never loved me, -Marina I

- 22 -

/

.. MARINA ,
You will know the greatness of my love when you understand
the greatness of my sacrifice. Andres, the hours of plea'-*
sure are over. Let us think no more of ourselves; let us
think of our son and how we may apare him from evil through
repentance and, sacrifice. If I did not have' him, I would…
who knows? But I an the mother of my son rather than the
lover of Andres . .

ANDRES
The shadows have you in their power againl

MARINA
Shadows 1 If only you were right V But even if you were, I
know that, for the sake of my son, I must deny myself,
immolate myself, offer myself in expiation. And if you
love me, as you say, you, too would share this holocaust.

ANDRES
We can offer another, vittim and God would accept her!

MARINA
That's enough! This is your selfishness speaking. Now
is the time to be strong for ,thls is the -hour of sacrifice.
If you are seared, Aridres, leave me alongl

Marina 1'.

Leave me alone 1

Marina 1

No, Andres 1 Go away I

I shall wait.

ANDRES
MARINA
ANDRES
MARINA
ANDRES

MARINA
(resolutely) No, Andres — never{

(Exit ANDRES at left. Marina sits
down and bursts into tears, covering
her face with her hands. Then she
rises andwwalks toward right as
one of the doors there opens and
GABRIELA enters,, looking exhausted.)

- 23 -

MARINA
(alarmed} . My God'. What's the matter, Gabriela? What
has happened to you?

GABRIELS
Nothing… A shock… Charito is dead. I saw her die.
That scene at the hospital… No, nothing. Will you
fetch me a glass of water? Where is Andres? Don't
tell him anything.

(Exit MARINA, returning at once
with the glass of water.)

MARINA
Here it is. I put some, lemon in it.

9 (As MARINA sits down beside her

sister, there's a moment's
awkward silence, broken only
by GABRIELA's labored breathing.)

GABRIELA
I feel better. Stand up, Marina. (Marina rises) Stand
back a little. That's enough. (She gazes admiringly at
MARINA) You have a fi.ne figure. And such poise. (With
a touch of admiring envy) And that uniform accentuates
your slenderness. And that coiffure suits you perfectly;
makes you look like an angel. How men must feel when they
look at you…Qn the other hand, Just see how dowdy I
have become, (StBdgting herself pityingly) I look like a
sack of potatoes. When I married, I didn't look so awful.
But now ….

MARINA
(interrupting) You were lovely and you still are.

GABRIELA
(hardly noticing the interruption) I stopped taking care
of myself to take care of this house, and to make Andres
happy, in my own way, and I have failed. I learn too late
that, when a woman marries, she should not only become a
wife but should go on being a sweetheart, to keep the fire
of love burning. Sit down, Marina-*- no, closer. You
know what? (MARINA stares at her with anxiety and f ear. )
Ijfc's fouy years today that Mama died and now we hardly
remember her. How impious we are! This day,, which should
have, been sacred to her memory, I had intended to pass very
gaily — and God has punished me by sending me this sorrow.
How true is the old saying that a -daughter do£s not begin
to pay the debt of love she owes her mother until she be-

- 24 ~

-comes a mother herself. And I'm not a mother 1 . God has
not wanted me to pay the full price of love I should have
paid to my mother. (Beginning to weep) Marina, do you
remember Mama?

MARINA
Why not? But don't go on like this. You'll make your-
self ill with these thoughts. We will feay a ro«ary for
Mama and she will be pleaojd. And you will feel a great
relief, you will stop wo-"vying.

GABRIELA

(not listening to MARINA) Poor dear, how she loved us

and you especially. I remember everything as if it were
yesterday.. .Papa would buy u-'j toys; you had yours and I
had mine, so we' wouldn't fircht. But you always wanted
my toys too, and when I wouldn't give them up, you cried,
and Mama would scold me and take away my toys and give
them to you, and she would tell me that you were younger
and that I should always give in to you. Then I would creep
to a corner with my little hear,t broken, and weep all

■alone., Gne time?— remember? the Three Kings brought

me" a big doll that moved its eyes and its arms and said ma-
ma, papa. But I had- that doll only for an instant because
you took it frr.m me too, and I wept like never before.
Oh, "I wanted to -die, I couldn't explain such an injustice
to myself. But afterwards I forgot all about it. Child-
ren do not hold grudges. Then the years passed — and now
I understand. , It was not Mama but life itself that Is
unjust. It breaks all your illusions, even tne poor little
lamp you need to light y°u when you are unhappy…

MARINA . •> -.

(vainljr pretending not to understand) Childhood silli-
ness 1 Why make such a fuss over it? All children. are
selfish. (Aside; Does she know or does she suspect?)
Besides, I always gave you back the toys I took from you.

GABRIELA
Yes, — -after you had broken them, like that doll… —

MARINA
No, Gabriela., nfci I gave them back to you unbroken^.

(Seeing Don KARCISO qoming,
she quickly leaves the room
through door at right. )

- 25 -

• D. NARCISO
Here I am, back.

GABRIELA
Why do late? I worried waiting for youi

D. 1JARCIS0
Why, my child? What does my dear niece want from her

old uncle? (Looking at her more closely) But what's
the matter? You have been crying. Yes, tell me what has
happened .

GABRIELA
Nothing. We were talking about Mama, who, four years
ago today, left us orphans.

D. NARCISO
(sitting down) But why ay. these memories? You raja's t
want to make yourself suffer- - Look, I am going to scold
you as if you were a little girl again.

GABRIEL*!
Yes, do scold me as if I were a little girl, I want to be,
pne again, to retreat into the cradle, to dream that I
have many, many toys and nobody to take them away from

me I

a

D. NARCISO'
But what is this, Gabriela? My child, you are not well
look, I am going to call Andres.

GABRIELA
Oh, please don't call him. (Making an effort to smile)
I'm. not crying any more — look.

D. NARCISO . v

Efo, Gabriela, you can't deceive me. A storm ra&es inside
you. Tell me your troubles, my child, and this old man
will go to the ends of the earth to find a remedy ixfiHsx
for them. If you try to hide them from me, I shall think
that you do not love me.

GABRIELA L ,

You're the only one I have in the world! Love me auch,
Tio Narciso, very much. I need-* — if I am to go on living —
love.

- 26 -

D. MRCISO
Gabriela, for God's sake— you will have me crying)?

G^BRIEM
Then cry — cjry with me so I, won't be along in my grief.
How good you are. How you love me. The others have n&
heart..,

D. N^RCISO
Open your heart to me, Gabriela. If not, you will hurt
me deeply. Sorrow, when shared, becomes lighter -

GABRIELA
Yes, yes, I will speak — but" you shouldn't leave me.
This life is a greajt burden and I need a good love like
yours to lean on.

,. D. NARCISO

What has happened, my child?

G..BRIEI4 ^
You must haye known and you never told me. I was being
robbed of love, and you knew it raocita and kept quiet.

D. I\V»RCISO
I know what you refer to . But there are no proofs .♦ £ny-
'way, it is a mere trifle; not worth bothering about.

GiiBRIEL.*
It is all my -life, Tio Narciso.

D. NARCISO
Very well—but no reason to work yourself up like t,his,
frightening those who love you. I can understand how,*
in this state of mind, you have been able to torment
yourself because of a' mere suspicion.

GABRIELA
No, Tio Narciso. It is not a suspicion.

D. NARCISO
Then, it is a calumny, mere envy of your happiness.
Nobody has any proofs .

GABRIELA ' x

I do.

- 27 -

■ ' D. KARCISO

rinpD.§sil>l&S alt's not half an hour since I came. With
whom have you been talking since then?

GABRIELA
¥ ith no one. But they hwve been so careless and I have
seen them. Yes, I surprised them in each other's arms,
Marina and Andres, and so drunk with their joy they did
not even notice my presence. Ah — and they were speaking
of their love and — yes, I remember — of a child also, a
son, their son'.

D. NARCISO
My Gqd— what are you saying'. Gabriela, you are delirious r

GABRIELS
It's not delirium, no. It's the brutal truth tearing away
tfefels. Andres had no pity. He stormed this fortress and
destroyed it. Oh, I can't breathe! Love… It doesn't
matter now… Air, air, Tio-Narciso! I'm choking! I for-
give them… Mother, Mother, forgive me for believing
you were unjust'. You never were. It is life itself that
is cruel…

9 (She. collapses in Don Naricso's

arms . )

D, MRCISO
Gabriela! Oh, my God! ( KfeBKjfecBgiesMBSfcBS&c (he feels
her heart) She is dead! (shouting) Marina! Andres!
(He lays the dead woman on the Sofa) Murderers!

(Enter running, ^MARINA from righfe
Andres from left.)

ANDRES
What happened? She has had another attack! Gabriela!

MARINA
Gabriela! My sister!

V

D. NARCISO
(wardin off both of them) You, no. It is too late.

ANDRES
Dead? (He flings himsslf upon the dean woman; Marina
kneels down beside the sofa)

-28 -

D. NARCISO
Useless now your science. Andres, and your pity, Marina,
with which you can give de^th but hot life. Your inauity
has been so brazen'.

MARINA
God, forgive me 1 . Forgive me, Gabrielai

(Andres sobs, holding the dead
woman's hands in his)

D. NARCISO
But Gab'riela,died as she lived, without a word of hate
for those who killed her, loving and forgiving them.
Marina, let us go away from here. God have mercy' on you,
Andres ; and pray that your worst punishment shall not be
to go wttagtering through the world, feeling as though you
carried on your shoulders, hour after hour, the unburied
body of your wife. <

9 (Marina staggers up, sobbing and

follows Don Narciso to the door
Andres springs up and runs after
them . )

ANDRES
(imploringly) TionNarciso, Marina — do not leave me
alone I I am afraid.

•(The room has been steadily
darkening)

D. NARCISO
(mockingly) They are merely shadows and phantoms,
Andrea". They never scared you, Marina must ncfct remain
a minute longer here—in this house that was the clean
home of your marriage, and which you turned into the
theatre of your treachery, and that is now a house of
death. AH abyss has opened between you and Marina. No
it is not Gabriela's heart — that weak fortress, so easy
to conquer and betray. It is death, mistress of thw
world {: Come Marina i

(Exeunt Dam Narciso and Marina
The room is now in darkness.
Andress stands gazing at the
body of his wife. )

- 29 -

ANDRE8S
Gabriela, .forgive me…. (Falling on his knees and
clasping bis hands together) Lord, you have conquered 1 .
They were not shadows, not phantomes; they were your
commandments!— your laws for all- eternity! (glancing
around him in terror) Alone, God! Alone in the
dark!

He buries his face in his hands as

CURTAINS FALL