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Scene Three
 

 

 

The lights rise in Wan's room in the monastery. It is an hour later. WAN is pacing the floor waiting impatiently. He holds a sheet of paper in his hands which he refers to constantly.

There is a knock on the door. HE rushes to open it.

 

BEITESEN
I have come, sir.
 
WAN
Here is the poem.
I trust you
To deliver this safely.
 
BEITESEN
I will that, sir.  (SHE turns to go.)  
WAN
Wait!
I must have word of anything
She will do or say.
The slightest change on her face
Or in her voice
When she reads what I have written.
For lovers exist
On the flicker of the eyes
And the movement of the mouth
And the sigh upon the lips.
 
BEITESEN
I shall watch and listen closely.
 
WAN
Go now,
For I have waited too long.
  (BEITESEN leaves through the door of his room. WAN continues to pace in agony. HE goes to the window and sees BEITESEN appear from the monastery door and make her way across the garden. HE looks down as if to say "Hurry, damnit!" The lights rise in the Chen house. MEILAN is alone on the sofa, reading. BEITESEN enters.)  
BEITESEN
Forgive me, my mistress.
I am so sorry to disturb you
But I have come with a message.
It is from your cousin, Wan Lei.
  (SHE hands the paper to Meilan, who opens it and reads. As she does, WAN, from his room, sings the poem. BEITESEN watches closely for any alteration in Meilan's face.)  
WAN
I know every leaf on the apricot tree
Which gently guards your window.
I know the nightingale
Who comes to rest in the branches.
I know the stillness of the dawn
As it vies with the sound of the shadows
In keeping vigil.
If I could but replace the apricot tree
And the nightingale
And the shadows
And the dawn.
  (MEILAN's face does not change expression. SHE stares out the window as BEITESEN waits for her to speak.)  
BEITESEN
Mistress?
 
MEILAN
There is no answer.
 
BEITESEN
Yes, mistress.
 
                                                                              MEILAN
Wait! (SHE goes to the table, takes a quill pen and a sheet of paper and writes rapidly. SHE then folds it and hands it to Beitesen.) To my cousin who writes poetry,
This is my answer.
BEITESEN
 (eagerly) Oh, yes, mistress!
  (SHE rushes quickly across the garden again. WAN is now waiting for her at the monastery door.)  
BEITESEN
She has sent you a message!

 

WAN
Quickly!  (HE snatches it from her hands, nervously unfolds it and reads.) Neither the apricot tree
Nor the nightingale
Nor the shadows
Nor the dawn
Will guard the willows by the western gate
On the fourth of the second moon. (almost in disbelief) Beitesen!
She will see me!
She has consented to see me
On the fourth of the second moon.
The fourth!
That is tomorrow!
Tomorrow, she will see me!
But where are the willows by the western gate?
 
BEITESEN
Tomorrow when the moon is full,
I will come for you
And take you there.
   WAN She will see me!
At last she will see me
And speak to me!
Oh, Beitesen!
  (BEITESEN gazes at the ecstatic WAN with affection.)  

 

LIGHTS FADE