THE SHADOWED STAR
By Mary MacMillan
Copyright, 1913, by Stewart & Kidd Company.
All rights reserved.
|A Woman, the mother.|
An Old Woman, the grandmother.
Two Girls, the daughters.
A Messenger Boy.
The Shadowed Star is reprinted from "Short Plays" by Mary MacMillan by permission
of Messrs. Stewart & Kidd Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. The acting rights
of this play are reserved by the author. Address all correspondence to the author
in regard to production.
THE SHADOWED STAR
By Mary MacMillan
[A very bare room in a tenement house,
uncarpeted, the boards being much worn,
and from the walls the bluish whitewash
has scaled away; in the front on one side
is a cooking-stove, and farther back on
the same side a window; on the opposite
side is a door opening into a hallway; in
the middle of the room there is a round,
worn dining-room table, on which stands
a stunted, scraggly bit of an evergreen-tree;
at the back of the room, near the
window, stands an old-fashioned safe with
perforated tin front; next it a door opening
into an inner room, and next it in
the corner a bed, on which lies a
woman; another woman, very old, sits in
a rocking-chair in front of the stove and
rocks. There is silence for a long space,
the old woman rocking and the woman on
the bed giving an occasional low sigh or
groan. At last the old woman speaks.]
The Old Woman. David an' Michael
might be kapin' the Christmas wid us to-morrow
night if we hadn't left the ould
counthry. They'd never be crossin' the
sea—all the many weary miles o' wetness
an' fog an' cold to be kapin' it wid
us here in this great house o' brick walls
in a place full o' strange souls. They
would never be for crossin' all that
weary, cold, green wather, groanin' an'
tossin' like it was the grave o' sivin thousan'
divils. Ah, but it would be a black
night at sea! [She remains silent for a
few minutes, staring at the stove and
rocking slowly.] If they hadn't to cross
that wet, cold sea they'd maybe come.
But wouldn't they be afeard o' this great
city, an' would they iver find us here?
Six floors up, an' they niver off the
ground in their lives. What would ye be
thinkin'? [The other woman does not
answer her. She then speaks petulantly.]
What would ye be thinkin'?
Mary, have ye gone clane to slape?
[Turns her chair and peers around the
back of it at the pallid woman on the
bed, who sighs and answers.]
The Woman. No, I on'y wisht I
could. Maybe they'll come—I don't
know, but father an' Michael wasn't
much for thravel. [After a pause and
very wearily.] Maybe they'll not come,
yet [slowly], maybe I'll be kapin' the
Christmas wid them there. [The Old
Woman seems not to notice this, wandering
from her question back to her memories.]
The Old Woman. No, they'll niver be
lavin' the ould land, the green land, the
home land. I'm wishing I was there wid
thim. [Another pause, while she stares
at the stove.] Maybe we'd have a duck
an' potatoes, an' maybe something to
drink to kape us warm against the cold.
An' the boys would all be dancin' an' the
girls have rosy cheeks. [There is another
pause, and then a knock at the
door. "Come in," the two women call,
in reedy, weak voices, and a thin, slatternly
Irish woman enters.]
The Neighbor. God avnin' to ye; I
came in to ask if I might borrow the loan
o' a bit o' tay, not havin' a leaf of it
The Woman. We have a little left,
just enough we was savin' for ourselves
to-night, but you're welcome to it—maybe
the girls will bring some. Will
ye get it for her, mother? Or she can
help herself—it's in the safe. It's on
the lower shelf among the cups an' saucers
an' plates. [The Old Woman and
Neighbor go to the safe and hunt for the
tea, and do not find it readily. The safe
has little in it but a few cracked and
The Neighbor [holding up a tiny paper
bag with an ounce perhaps of tea in it.]
It's just a scrap!
The Old Woman. To be sure! We
use so much tay! We're that exthravagant!
The Neighbor. It hurts me to take it
from ye—maybe I'd better not.
The Old Woman. The girls will bring
more. We always have a cupboard full
o' things. We're always able to lend to
The Neighbor. It's in great luck, ye
are. For some of us be so poor we don't
know where the next bite's comin' from.
An' this winter whin iverything's so high
an' wages not raised, a woman can't find
enough to cook for her man's dinner.
It isn't that ye don't see things—oh,
they're in the markets an' the shops, an'
it makes yer mouth wather as ye walk
along the sthrates this day before the
Christmas to see the turkeys an' the ducks
ye'll niver ate, an' the little pigs an' the
or'nges an' bananies an' cranberries an'
the cakes an' nuts an'—it's worse, I'm
thinkin', to see thim whin there's no
money to buy than it was in the ould
counthry, where there was nothing to buy
wid the money ye didn't have.
The Woman. It's all one to us poor
folk whether there be things to buy or
not. [She speaks gaspingly, as one who
is short of breath.] I'm on'y thinkin' o'
the clane air at home—if I could have
a mornin' o' fresh sunshine—these fogs
an' smoke choke me so. The girls would
take me out to the counthry if they had
time an' I'd get well. But they haven't
time. [She falls into a fit of coughing.]
The Old Woman. But it's like to be
bright on Christmas Day. It wouldn't
iver be cloudy on Christmas Day, an'
maybe even now the stars would be crapin'
out an' the air all clear an' cold an'
the moon a-shinin' an' iverything so sthill
an' quiet an' bleamin' an' breathless
[her voice falls almost to a whisper],
awaitin' on the Blessed Virgin. [She
goes to the window, lifts the blind, and
peers out, then throws up the sash and
leans far out. After a moment she pulls
the sash down again and the blind and
turns to those in the room with the look
of pathetic disappointment in little things,
of the aged.] No, there's not a sthar, not
one little twinklin' sthar, an' how'll the
shepherds find their way? Iverything's
dull an' black an' the clouds are hangin'
down heavy an' sthill. How'll the shepherds
find their way without the sthar
to guide thim? [Then almost whimpering.]
An' David an' Michael will niver
be crossin' that wet, black sea! An' the
girls—how'll they find their way home?
They'll be lost somewhere along by the
hedges. Ohone, ohone!
The Neighbor. Now, grannie, what
would ye be sayin'? There's niver a
hedge anywhere but granite blocks an'
electric light poles an' plenty o' light in
the city for thim to see all their way
home. [Then to the woman.] Ain't
The Woman. They're always late, an'
they kape gettin' lather an' lather.
The Neighbor. Yis, av coorse, the
sthores is all open in the avnin's before
The Woman. They go so early in the
mornin' an' get home so late at night, an'
they're so tired.
The Neighbor [whiningly]. They're
lucky to be young enough to work an'
not be married. I've got to go home
to the childer an' give thim their tay.
Pat's gone to the saloon again, an' to-morrow
bein' Christmas I misdoubt he'll
be terrible dhrunk again, an' me on'y
jist well from the blow in the shoulder
the last time. [She wipes her eyes and
moves towards the door.]
The Old Woman. Sthay an' kape
Christmas wid us. We're goin' to have
our celebratin' to-night on Christmas Eve,
the way folks do here. I like it best on
Christmas Day, the way 'tis in the ould
counthry, but here 'tis Christmas Eve
they kape. We're waitin' for the girls to
come home to start things—they knowin'
how—Mary an' me on'y know how
to kape Christmas Day as 'tis at home.
But the girls'll soon be here, an' they'll
have the three an' do the cookin' an' all,
an' we'll kape up the jollity way into the
The Neighbor [looks questioningly
and surprised at the Woman, whose eyes
are on the mother.] Nay, if Pat came
home dhrunk an' didn't find me, he'd kill
me. We have all to be movin' on to our
own throubles. [She goes out, and the
old woman leaves the Christmas-tree
which she has been fingering and admiring,
and sits down in the rocking-chair
again. After a while she croons to herself
in a high, broken voice. This lasts
some time, when there is the noise of a
slamming door and then of footsteps approaching.]
The Woman. If I could on'y be in
The Old Woman. Maybe that would
be the girls! [She starts tremblingly to
her feet, but the steps come up to the
door and go by.] If David and Michael
was to come now an' go by—there bein'
no sthar to guide thim!
The Woman. Nay, mother, 'twas the
shepherds that was guided by the sthar
an' to the bed o' the Blessed Babe.
The Old Woman. Aye, so 'twas.
What be I thinkin' of? The little Blessed
Babe! [She smiles and sits staring at
the stove again for a little.] But they
could not find Him to-night. 'Tis so
dark an' no sthars shinin.' [After another
pause.] An' what would shepherds
do in a ghreat city? 'Twould be
lost they'd be, quicker than in any bog.
Think ye, Mary, that the boys would be
hootin' thim an' the p'lice, maybe, would
want to be aristin' thim for loitherin'.
They'd niver find the Blessed Babe, an'
they'd have to be movin' on. [Another
pause, and then there is the sound of approaching
footsteps again. The Old
Woman grasps the arms of her chair and
leans forward, intently listening.]—That
would sure be the girls this time! [But
again the footsteps go by. The Old
Woman sighs.] Ah, but 'tis weary
waitin'! [There is another long pause.]
'Twas on that day that David an' me
was plighted—a brave Christmas Day
wid a shinin' sun an' a sky o' blue wid
fair, white clouds. An' David an' me
met at the early mass in the dark o' the
frosty mornin' afore the sun rose—an'
there was all day good times an' a duck
for dinner and puddin's an' a party at the
O'Brady's in the evenin', whin David an'
me danced. Ah, but he was a beautiful
dancer, an' me, too—I was as light on
my feet as a fairy. [She begins to croon
an old dance tune and hobbles to her
feet, and, keeping time with her head,
tries a grotesque and feeble sort of dancing.
Her eyes brighten and she smiles
proudly.] Aye, but I danced like a
fairy, an' there was not another couple
so sprightly an' handsome in all the
country. [She tires, and, looking pitiful
and disappointed, hobbles back to
her chair, and drops into it again.] Ah,
but I be old now, and the strength fails
me. [She falls into silence for a few
minutes.] 'Twas the day before
little man, the little white dove, my
next Christmas that Michael was born—little
son! [There is a moment's pause,
and then the pallid woman on the bed
has a violent fit of coughing.]
The Woman. Mother, could ye get
me a cup o' wather? If the girls was
here to get me a bite to ate, maybe it
would kape the breath in me the night.
The Old Woman [starts and stares at
her daughter, as if she hardly comprehended
the present reality. She gets up
and goes over to the window under which
there is a pail full of water. She dips
some out in a tin cup and carries it to
her bed.] Ye should thry to get up an'
move about some, so ye can enjoy the
Christmas threat. 'Tis bad bein' sick on
Christmas. Thry, now, Mary, to sit up
a bit. The girls'll be wantin' ye to be
merry wid the rest av us.
The Woman [looking at her mother
with a sad wistfulness]. I wouldn't spoil
things for the girls if I could help.
Maybe, mother, if ye'd lift me a little I
could sit up. [The Old Woman tugs at
her, and she herself tries hard to get
into a sitting posture, but after some
effort and panting for breath, she falls
back again. After a pause for rest, she
speaks gaspingly.] Maybe I'll feel
sthronger lather whin the girls come
home—they could help me—[with the
plaint of longing in her voice] they be so
late! [After another pause.] Maybe I'll
be sthrong again in the mornin'—if I'd
had a cup of coffee.—Maybe I could get
up—an' walk about—an' do the cookin'.
[There is a knock at the door, and
again they call, "Come in," in reedy,
weak voices. There enters a little messenger
boy in a ragged overcoat that
reaches almost to his heels. His eyes
are large and bright, his face pale
and dirty, and he is fearfully tired and
The Woman. Why, Tim, boy, come
in. Sit ye down an' rest, ye're lookin'
The Old Woman. Come to the stove,
Timmie, man, an' warm yourself. We
always kape a warm room an' a bright
fire for visitors.
The Boy. I was awful cold an' hungry
an' I come home to get somethin' to
eat before. I started out on another
trip, but my sisters ain't home from the
store yit, an' the fire's gone out in the
stove, an' the room's cold as outside. I
thought maybe ye'd let me come in here
an' git warm.
The Old Woman. Poor orphan! Poor
lamb! To be shure ye shall get warm by
The Boy. The cars are so beastly col'
an' so crowded a feller mostly has to
stand on the back platform. [The Old
Woman takes him by the shoulder and
pushes him toward the stove, but he resists.]
The Boy. No, thank ye—I don't
want to go so near yet; my feet's all
numb an' they allays hurt so when they
warms up fast.
The Old Woman. Thin sit ye down
off from the sthove. [Moves the rocking-chair
farther away from the stove for
The Boy. If ye don't mind I'd rather
stand on 'em 'til they gets a little used
to it. They been numb off an' on mos'
The Woman. Soon as yer sisters
come, Timmie, ye'd betther go to bed—'tis
the best place to get warm.
The Boy. I can't—I got most a
three-hour trip yet. I won't get home
any 'fore midnight if I don't get lost,
and maybe I'll get lost—I did once out
there. I've got to take a box o' 'Merican
Beauty roses to a place eight mile out,
an' the house ain't on the car track, but
nearly a mile off, the boss said. I wisht
they could wait till mornin', but the orders
was they just got to get the roses
to-night. You see, out there they don'
have no gas goin' nights when there's a
moon, an' there'd ought to be a moon
to-night, on'y the clouds is so thick there
ain't no light gets through.
The Old Woman. There's no sthar
shinin' to-night, Tim. [She shakes her
head ominously. She goes to the window
for the second time, opens it as before,
and looks out. Shutting the window,
she comes back and speaks slowly
and sadly.] Niver a sthar. An' the
shepherds will be havin' a hard time,
Tim, like you, findin' their way.
The Boy. Shepherds? In town?
The Woman. She means the shepherds
on Christmas Eve that wint to find
the Blessed Babe, Jesus.
The Old Woman. 'Tis Christmas
Eve, Timmie; ye haven't forgot that, have
The Boy. You bet I ain't. I know
pretty well when Christmas is comin', by
the way I got to hustle, an' the size of the
boxes I got to carry. Seems as if my
legs an' me would like to break up pardnership.
I got to work till midnight
every night, an' I'm so sleepy I drop off
in the cars whenever I get a seat. An'
the girls is at the store so early an' late
they don't get time to cook me nothin'
The Woman. Be ye hungry, Timmie?
The Boy [diffidently and looking at the
floor]. No, I ain't hungry now.
The Woman. Be ye shure, Timmie?
The Boy. Oh, I kin go till I git home.
The Woman. Mother, can't you find
something for him to eat?
The Old Woman. To be shure, to be
shure. [Bustling about.] We always
kapes a full cupboard to thrate our
neighbors wid whin they comes in.
[She goes to the empty safe and fusses
in it to find something. She pretends to
be very busy, and then glances around
at the boy with a sly look and a smile.]
Ah, Timmie, lad, what would ye like to
be havin', now? If you had the wish o'
yer heart for yer Christmas dinner an'
a good fairy to set it all afore ye?
Ye'd be wishin' maybe, for a fine roast
duck, to begin wid, in its own gravies an'
some apple sauce to go wid it; an' ye'd
be thinkin' o' a little bit o' pig nicely
browned an' a plate of potaties; an' the
little fairy woman would be bringin' yer
puddin's an' nuts an' apples an' a dish o'
the swatest tay. [The Boy smiles rather
The Woman. But, mother, you're not
gettin' Tim something to ate.
The Boy. She's makin' me mouth
water all right. [The Old Woman goes
back to her search, but again turns about
with a cunning look, and says to the
The Old Woman. Maybe ye'll meet
that little fairy woman out there in the
counthry road where ye're takin' the
roses! [Nods her head knowingly, turning
to the safe again.] Here's salt an'
here's pepper an' here's mustard an' a
crock full o' sugar, an', oh! Tim, here's
some fine cold bacon—fine, fat, cold
bacon—an' here's half a loaf o' white
wheat bread! Why, Timmie, lad, that's
just the food to make boys fat! Ye'll
grow famously on it. 'Tis a supper,
whin ye add to it a dhrop o' iligant milk,
that's fit for a king. [She bustles about
with great show of being busy and having
much to prepare. Puts the plate of
cold bacon upon the table where stands
the stunted bit of an evergreen-tree, then
brings the half-loaf of bread and cuts it
into slices, laying pieces of bacon on the
slices of bread. Then she pours out a
glass of milk from a dilapidated and
broken pitcher in the safe and brings it
to the table, the Boy all the while watching
her hungrily. At last he says rather
apologetically to the woman.]
The Boy. I ain't had nothin' since a
wienerwurst at eleven o'clock.
The Old Woman. Now, dhraw up,
Timmie, boy, an' ate yer fill; ye're more
thin welcome. [The boy does not sit
down, but stands by the table and eats
a slice of bread and bacon, drinking from
the glass of milk occasionally.]
The Woman. Don't they niver give
ye nothin' to ate at the gran' houses
when ye'd be takin' the roses?
The Boy. Not them. They'd as soon
think o' feedin' a telephone or an automobile
The Woman. But don't they ask ye
in to get warm whin ye've maybe come
The Boy. No, they don't seem to look
at me 'zacly like a caller. They generally
steps out long enough to sign the
receipt-book an' shut the front door behin'
'em so as not to let the house get
col' the length o' time I'm standin' there.
Well, I'm awful much obleeged to ye.
Now, I got to be movin' on.
The Old Woman. Sthop an' cilibrate
the Christmas wid us. We ain't started
to do nothin' yet because the girls
haven't come—they know how [nodding
her head]—an' they're goin' to bring
things—all kinds o' good things to ate
an' a branch of rowan berries—ah, boy,
a great branch o' rowan wid scarlet berries
shinin' [gesticulating and with gleaming
eyes], an' we'll all be merry an' kape
it up late into the night.
The Boy [in a little fear of her]. I
guess it's pretty late now. I got to make
that trip an' I guess when I get home
I'll be so sleepy I'll jus' tumble in.
Ye've been awful good to me, an' it's
the first time I been warm to-day.
Good-by. [He starts toward the door,
but the Old Woman follows him and
speaks to him coaxingly.]
The Old Woman. Ah, don't ye go,
Michael, lad! Now, bide wid us a bit.
[The Boy, surprised at the name, looks
queerly at the Old Woman, who then
stretches out her arms to him, and says
beseechingly:] Ah, boy, ah, Mike, bide
wid us, now ye've come! We've been
that lonesome widout ye!
The Boy [frightened and shaking his
head]. I've got to be movin'.
The Old Woman. No, Michael, little
The Boy [almost terrified, watching
her with staring eyes, and backing out].
I got to go! [The Boy goes out, and
the Old Woman breaks into weeping,
totters over to her old rocking-chair and
drops into it, rocks to and fro, wailing
The Old Woman. Oh, to have him
come an' go again, my little Michael, my
own little lad!
The Woman. Don't ye, dearie; now,
then, don't ye! 'Twas not Michael, but
just our little neighbor boy, Tim. Ye
know, poor lamb, now if ye'll thry to
remember, that father an' Michael is
gone to the betther land an' us is left.
The Old Woman. Nay, nay, 'tis the
fairies that took thim an' have thim now,
kapin' thim an' will not ever give thim
The Woman. Whisht, mother! Spake
not of the little folk on the Holy
Night! [Crosses herself.] Have ye forgot
the time o' all the year it is? Now,
dhry yer eyes, dearie, an' thry to be
cheerful like 'fore the girls be comin'
home. [A noise is heard, the banging of
a door and footsteps.] Thim be the girls
now, shure they be comin' at last. [But
the sound of footsteps dies away.] But
they'll be comin' soon. [Wearily, but
with the inveterate hope.]
[The two women relapse into silence
again, which is undisturbed for a
few minutes. Then there is a
knock at the door, and together
in quavering, reedy voices, they
call, "Come in," as before. There
enters a tall, big, broad-shouldered
woman with a cold, discontented,
hard look upon the face that might
have been handsome some years
back; still, in her eyes, as she
looks at the pallid woman on the
bed, there is something that denotes
a softness underneath it all.]
The Old Woman. Good avnin' to ye!
We're that pleased to see our neighbors!
The Neighbor [without paying any attention
to the Old Woman, but entirely
addressing the woman on the bed.]
How's yer cough?
The Woman. Oh, it's jist the same—maybe
a little betther. If I could on'y
get to the counthry! But the girls must
be workin'—they haven't time to take
me. Sit down, won't ye? [The Neighbor
goes to the bed and sits down on
the foot of it.]
The Neighbor. I'm most dead, I'm
so tired. I did two washin's to-day—went
out and did one this mornin' and
then my own after I come home this
afternoon. I jus' got through sprinklin'
it an' I'll iron to-morrow.
The Woman. Not on Christmas Day!
The Neighbor [with a sneer]. Christmas
Day! Did ye hear 'bout the Beckers?
Well, they was all put out on the
sidewalk this afternoon. Becker's been
sick, ye know, an' ain't paid his rent an'
his wife's got a two weeks' old baby.
It sort o' stunned Mis' Becker, an' she
sat on one of the mattresses out there
an' wouldn't move, an' nobody couldn't
do nothin' with her. But they ain't the
only ones has bad luck—Smith, the
painter, fell off a ladder an' got killed.
They took him to the hospital, but it
wasn't no use—his head was all mashed
in. His wife's got them five boys an'
Smith never saved a cent, though he
warn't a drinkin' man. It's a good thing
Smith's children is boys—they can make
their livin' easier!
The Woman [smiling faintly]. Ain't
ye got no cheerful news to tell? It's
Christmas Eve, ye know.
The Neighbor. Christmas Eve don't
seem to prevent people from dyin' an'
bein' turned out o' house an' home. Did
ye hear how bad the dipthery is? They
say as how if it gits much worse they'll
have to close the school in our ward.
Two o' the Homan children's dead with
it. The first one wasn't sick but two
days, an' they say his face all turned
black 'fore he died. But it's a good
thing they're gone, for the Homans
ain't got enough to feed the other six.
Did ye hear 'bout Jim Kelly drinkin'
again? Swore off for two months, an'
then took to it harder'n ever—perty
near killed the baby one night.
The Woman [with a wan, beseeching
smile]. Won't you please not tell me
any more? It just breaks me heart.
The Neighbor [grimly]. I ain't got
no other kind o' news to tell. I s'pose I
might's well go home.
The Woman. No, don't ye go. I
like to have ye here when ye're kinder.
The Neighbor [fingering the bed
clothes and smoothing them over the
woman]. Well, it's gettin' late, an' I
guess ye ought to go to sleep.
The Woman. Oh, no, I won't go to
slape till the girls come. They'll bring
me somethin' to give me strength. If
they'd on'y come soon.
The Neighbor. Ye ain't goin' to set
up 'til they git home?
The Old Woman. That we are.
We're kapin' the cilebratin' till they
The Neighbor. What celebratin'?
The Old Woman. Why, the Christmas,
to be shure. We're goin' to have
high jinks to-night. In the ould counthry
'tis always Christmas Day, but here
'tis begun on Christmas Eve, an' we're
on'y waitin' for the girls, because they
know how to fix things betther nor Mary
The Neighbor [staring]. But ain't
they workin' in the store?
The Old Woman. Yes, but they're
comin' home early to-night.
The Neighbor [laughing ironically].
Don't ye fool yerselves. Why, they've
got to work harder to-night than any in
the whole year.
The Woman [wistfully]. But they
did say they'd thry to come home early.
The Neighbor. The store's all
crowded to-night. Folks 'at's got money
to spend never remembers it till the last
minute. If they didn't have none they'd
be thinkin' 'bout it long ahead. Well,
I got to be movin'. I wouldn't stay
awake, if I was you.
The Old Woman. Sthay and kape the
Christmas wid us! We'll be havin' high
jinks by an' by. Sthay, now, an' help
us wid our jollity!
The Neighbor. Nay, I left my children
in bed, an' I got to go back to 'em.
An' I got to get some rest myself—I
got that ironin' ahead o' me in the mornin'.
You folks better get yer own rest.
[She rises and walks to the door.]
The Old Woman [beamingly]. David
an' Michael's comin'. [The Neighbor
stands with her back against the door
and her hand on the knob, staring at the
The Old Woman [smiling rapturously].
Yis, we're goin' to have a gran'
time. [The Neighbor looks puzzled and
fearful and troubled, first at the Woman
and then at the Old Woman. Finally,
without a word, she opens the door and
The Old Woman [going about in a
tottering sort of dance]. David an'
Michael's comin' an' the shepherds for
the fairies will show thim the way.
The Woman. If the girls would on'y
come! If they'd give me somethin' so
as I wouldn't be so tired!
The Old Woman. There's niver a
sthar an' there's nobody to give thim a
kind word an' the counthry roads are
dark an' foul, but they've got the little
folk to guide thim! An' whin they
reach the city—the poor, lonesome shepherds
from the hills!—they'll find
naught but coldness an' hardness an'
hurry. [Questioningly.] Will the fairies
show thim the way? Fairies' eyes
be used to darkness, but can they see
where it is black night in one corner an'
a blaze o' light in another? [She goes
to the window for the third time, opens it
and leans far out for a long time, then
turns about and goes on in her monotone,
closing the window.—She seems by
this time quite to have forgotten the
presence of the pallid woman on the bed,
who has closed her eyes, and lies like
The Old Woman. Nay, there's niver
a sthar, an' the clouds are hangin' heavier
an' lower an' the flakes o' snow are
fallin'. Poor little folk guidin' thim poor
lost shepherds, leadin' thim by the hand
so gently because there's no others to be
kind to thim, an' bringin' thim to the
manger o' the Blessed Babe. [She comes
over to her rocking-chair and again sits
down in it, rocks slowly to and fro,
nodding her head in time to the motion.]
Poor little mite of a babe, so cold an'
unwelcome an' forgotten save by the silly
ould shepherds from the hills! The silly
ould shepherds from the strength o' the
hills, who are comin' through the darkness
in the lead o' the little folk! [She
speaks slower and lower, and finally
drops into a quiet crooning—it stops
and the Old Woman has fallen asleep.]
[While the curtain is down the pallid,
sick woman upon the bed dies, the
Old Woman being asleep does not
notice the slight struggle with
death. The fire has gone out in
the stove, and the light in the
lamp, and the stage is in complete
darkness when the two girls come
stumbling in. They are too tired
to speak, too weary to show surprise
that the occupants of the
room are not awake. They fumble
about, trying to find matches
in the darkness, and finally discover
them and a candle in the
safe. They light the candle and
place it upon the table by the
scraggy little evergreen-tree.
They turn about and discern their
grandmother asleep in the rocking-chair.
Hurriedly they turn to
the bed and discover their mother
lying there dead. For a full minute
they stand gazing at her, the
surprise, wonder, awe, misery increasing
in their faces; then with
screams they run to the bed, throw
themselves on their knees and bury
their faces, sobbing, in the bedclothes
at the Woman's feet.]