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Scene Five
 
 
Four days later. A moonless night. The garden is dark. WAN is seated upon the bed in his room, his head in his hands. YANG stands by his side.

 

WAN
Why should she have answered my poem?
Why should she have asked to see me?
Why did she meet me within
The willows by the western gate
If she did not wish to accept my attentions?
Oh, Yang! Yang!
I do not understand!
 
YANG
How I wish I could help, Wan,
But I cannot.
Meilan is a shy and quiet creature.
In the time I have been
Within these monastery walls,
We have spoken only rarely.
And then it has been
Of an oriole she has seen
Or a poem she has read.
 
WAN
I cannot go back to the capitol!
I cannot face the examinations!
I cannot go on living!
Until I learn why she asked to see me.
I must find the answer.
There has to be an answer!
For I love her!
Oh, Yang, how I love her!
That gentle face
Behind the beautiful mask she wars.
I must touch it!
I must kiss it!
I must belong to it!
 
YANG
My dear boy,
You must not grieve like this.
Remember, you have your studies,
You have your mission
In this temporal world.
You were meant to be a poet,
A fine poet
With a brilliant future.
 
WAN
You speak of not grieving!
Of course, you can say do not grieve!
How could you know, old fool,
How could you know what I feel?
Have you ever been in love? (There is a sting of music as though Wan had struck him. YANG's eyes well with tears and HE turns away.)
YANG
You ask me if I have ever loved.
Oh, Wan, oh, Wan,
If a man has lived
And has not loved
He has not lived at all.
You ask me if I have ever loved,
And as you speak,
I think of her.
And every time
One speaks of love,
I see her smile and hear her sigh.
My hand goes out
To touch what I have loved,
But she is not there,
She is not there!
You ask me if I have ever loved,
And I feel pain
Deep within my breast,
And I feel tears
Invade my eyes.
Oh, yes, oh, Wan,
I have loved.
 
WAN
Forgive me, Yang.
I spoke without thinking.
Of course you have loved.
For you are good and you are kind,
And how love teaches that.
Or else it teaches
Bitterness and hate.
I do not know
Which it will teach me.
 
YANG
All this will pass
And fade into a dream.
At first it will grow bittersweet
And then it will diminish
Further and further
And disappear down a long dark hallway.
 
WAN
It has been four days
Since I saw her
Within the willows by the western gate.
I do not think
I shall live long enough
For it to pass.
 
YANG
Do not speak so.
Do not say such things.
 
WAN
Please go now.
I must be alone.
I must think.
I must stop thinking.
How did all this ever happen? (WAN throws himself on his bed. YANG waits a moment, then leaves.)
WAN
I shall never replace
The apricot tree
Or the nightingale
Or the dawn
Or the shadows. (HE buries his head in the pillow. There is complete silence, except for the distant sound of crickets. After a few moments, we hear the strains of "Speak to Me, Meilan" and BEITESEN appears at the door of the Cheng house. Again she carries a candle. In her upstage hand she holds a pillow. SHE speeds across the garden and opens the monastery door. In a moment, without knocking, SHE is in Wan's room.)
BEITESEN
She is coming! (WAN sits up in bed, startled. BEITESEN places the pillow next to his. Then in the darkened garden we see a figure move swiftly from the Cheng house to the monastery door. BEITESEN quickly leaves. The figure enters the room and is now illuminated by the candlelight. We see it is MEILAN. She stares at Wan for an instant, then blows out the candle. All is dark. The music swells.)

 

 

 

 

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