Lights come up and flood the stage with sunlight. It is early afternoon the following spring. MEILAN again sits alone in the garden. MEILANThe peach blossoms are in bloom again,
And I must watch them by myself.
And I must wade in the stream alone
And see the sun rise by myself.
But, oh, if you had come back to me!
I would have smiled
If you had smiled
And been nearby
In case you called.
All the things I would have done,
If you had come back to me.
I would have brought your tea to drink
And made your bed
And warmed your bed,
If only you had come back to me.
Go dry your eyes
And bury this within your heart.
And maybe someday
When another spring is here,
And caress it
And dream what might have been.
Love does not die.
It lives and grows.
Love does not die for me.
I would have given all of me,
And most of all I would have lived---
Oh, how much I would have lived!---
If you had come back to me.
(SHE turns and walks slowly back into the house and disappears. Lights rise within the Cheng living room. BEITESEN enters, bringing WIDOW CHENG, who is straightening the sideboard, a bouquet of peonies.) WIDOW CHENGThank you, Beitesen. (BEITESEN exits upstage as WIDOW CHENG arranges the flowers in a vase.) WIDOW CHENGThe blossoms grow more fragrant as the years go by
For the plant is more in love as the summers pass…
(As SHE begins to sing the same aria we heard in the opening scene, WAN appears from stage left walking toward the Cheng house. He looks superb; his face is aglow with prosperity, and he is immaculately dressed in a handsome expensive robe. HE knocks on the door. WIDOW CHENG opens it and stares at him for a second in amazement. Then SHE greets him formally.) WIDOW CHENGWan Lei,
I am most surprised.
We did not expect to see you again.
It is indeed a pleasure.
WINDOW CHENGWill you come in?
WANI hope I have not disturbed you
By arriving unannounced.
(glancing about the room)
It is just as when I left.
WIDOW CHENGA year ago.
WANGHas it been a year?
It seems like such a short time.
WIDOW CHENGAs one grows older,
The years pass more quickly.
This past year went by very slowly.
I do not know why.
WANThe countryside is just as green,
The monastery is just as lovely,
And I have heard that the bandits have been routed.
Ah, such tranquility!
If only I had this in the capitol.
WIDOW CHENGYou are looking very well, Wan Lei,
And most prosperous.
WANYou are very kind, Madame Cheng.
Yes, things have gone well with me
These past few months.
You know I failed the examinations.
WIDOW CHENGYes, I had heard.
WANI was pleased to discover
The examinations are not of such vast importance
As I had thought
Or as my father had thought.
I will have another chance at them.
The Emperor will see to that.
WIDOW CHENGThe Emperor?
WANYes, I am most proud.
The Emperor has read some of my poetry.
WIDOW CHENGThat is fine for you, Wan Lei.
Yang has always said
You were fated
To be a poet of renown.
Have you seen Yang?
WANNo, not yet.
I came here first.
I had hoped to see Meilan.
Oh, yes, of course.
If you will excuse me,
I shall call her.
WANIf you would be so kind. (WIDOW CHENG exits into the next room. WAN stands alone on stage deeply moved by the renewal of memories. HE gently touches the flowers and carefully surveys the room.) WANThe room is the same.
It is the same room
I once held sacred.
The apricot trees stand by the window,
And this door leads out
To the willows by the western gate.
Everything is just as it was.
Time has not altered this little house
Or the temple or the garden.
Time has only changed my eyes.
How different it all seems now.
Once I sat in that chair
And waited for a girl to appear,
Waited for her to notice me,
And when she did appear,
I longed for her to speak,
But she did not.
It was the same room
And it is the same today.
But how it has changed!
How it has changed!
I recall the sweetness
And the agony
Of my first love.
How young and tender it was!
How sacred was this room!
Oh, time, time,
How delicately you rule our lives!
How cleverly you change
Apricot trees and willows
And gardens and rooms.
Time, time, time.
How strange it is…
Someday I shall have to write a poem about it.
(WIDOW CHENG reappears from the doorway.)
WIDOW CHENGI am most sorry, Wan.
Meilan begs to be excused.
She is not feeling well.
WIDOW CHENGMay I offer you some tea?
WANThat is most kind of you,
But I have little time.
WIDOW CHENGWhat brings you back
To our province?
WANI had need of a rest.
And I thought it might be pleasant
To leave the capitol for a week or two
And return to the place of some
Of my most treasured memories.
WIDOW CHENGThen you will be at the monastery?
WANNo. I did not want to impose.
I am at an inn
In the neighboring village.
I did hope to see Meilan,
For she was kind enough
To send me a jade ring
Some months ago.
I did not have the chance to thank her.
I wonder if you would.
WIDOW CHENGYes, of course.
WANNow I must take my leave.
WIDOW CHENGI am sorry you must go so soon.
Your visit was much too brief.
Perhaps you will come again
While you are here in the province.
Goodbye, Madame Cheng.
It was so pleasant seeing you again.
WIDOW CHENGGoodbye, Wan Lei. (WAN walks out of the house and into the garden. HE is about to leave through the direction of the willows, but changes his mind and exits the way he came. WIDOW CHENG disappears into the other room. For a moment the stage is empty. Then MEILAN steps from behind the living room screen. SHE rushes to the door and into the garden looking right and then left, trying to catch a glimpse of her former lover.) MEILAN(sobbing in a weak voice)
Oh, Wan! Oh, Wan!(SHE collapses to the ground.)