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The Stronger
by [?]

Translator: Edith and Warner Oland

CHARACTERS

MME. X., an actress, married
MLLE. Y., an actress, unmarried
A WAITRESS

[SCENE–The corner of a ladies’ cafe. Two little iron tables, a red velvet sofa, several chairs. Enter Mme. X., dressed in winter clothes, carrying a Japanese basket on her arm.]

[MLLE. Y. sits with a half empty beer bottle before her, reading an illustrated paper, which she changes later for another.]

MME. X.
Good afternoon, Amelie. You’re sitting here alone on Christmas eve like a poor bachelor!

MLLE. Y.
[Looks up, nods, and resumes her reading.]

MME. X.
Do you know it really hurts me to see you like this, alone, in a cafe, and on Christmas eve, too. It makes me feel as I did one time when I saw a bridal party in a Paris restaurant, and the bride sat reading a comic paper, while the groom played billiards with the witnesses. Huh, thought I, with such a beginning, what will follow, and what will be the end? He played billiards on his wedding eve! [Mlle. Y. starts to speak]. And she read a comic paper, you mean? Well, they are not altogether the same thing.

[A waitress enters, places a cup of chocolate before Mme. X. and goes out.]

MME. X.
You know what, Amelie! I believe you would have done better to have kept him! Do you remember, I was the first to say “Forgive him?” Do you remember that? You would be married now and have a home. Remember that Christmas when you went out to visit your fiance’s parents in the country? How you gloried in the happiness of home life and really longed to quit the theatre forever? Yes, Amelie dear, home is the best of all, the theatre next and children–well, you don’t understand that.

MLLE. Y.
[Looks up scornfully.]

[Mme. X. sips a few spoonfuls out of the cup, then opens her basket and shows Christmas presents.]

MME. X.
Now you shall see what I bought for my piggywigs. [Takes up a doll.] Look at this! This is for Lisa, ha! Do you see how she can roll her eyes and turn her head, eh? And here is Maja’s popgun. [Loads it and shoots at Mlle. Y.]

MLLE. Y.
[Makes a startled gesture.]

MME. X.
Did I frighten you? Do you think I would like to shoot you, eh? On my soul, if I don’t think you did! If you wanted to shoot me it wouldn’t be so surprising, because I stood in your way–and I know you can never forget that–although I was absolutely innocent. You still believe I intrigued and got you out of the Stora theatre, but I didn’t. I didn’t do that, although you think so. Well, it doesn’t make any difference what I say to you. You still believe I did it. [Takes up a pair of embroidered slippers.] And these are for my better half. I embroidered them myself–I can’t bear tulips, but he wants tulips on everything.

MLLE. Y.
[Looks up ironically and curiously.]

MME. X.
[Putting a hand in each slipper.] What little feet Bob has! What? And you should see what a splendid stride he has! You’ve never seen him in slippers! [Mlle. Y. laughs aloud.] Look! [She makes the slippers walk on the table. Mlle. Y. laughs loudly.] And when he is grumpy he stamps like this with his foot. “What! damn those servants who can never learn to make coffee. Oh, now those creatures haven’t trimmed the lamp wick properly!” And then there are draughts on the floor and his feet are cold. “Ugh, how cold it is; the stupid idiots can never keep the fire going.” [She rubs the slippers together, one sole over the other.]