Act I, Scene 4
(Before curtain. In a small garden. Sounds of departing guests offstage. DIANA and ELISABETH enter stage right.)
DIANA: What a beautiful ball! So elegant.Wasn’t Peter cute? He said, “I’d walk you to the garden and nibble on your ear…if I could reach it.” (Giggles.) If only he were a little older!
ELISABETH: And Bertram of Adler had an eye for you.
DIANA: Nonsense! He didn’t say more than five words to me all evening.
ELISABETH: Which is at least three more than he said to anyone else.
DIANA: You think so? He is cute—but too serious. I think he’s the only one at the ball who didn’t have a good time tonight.
ELISABETH: (Short laugh.) You weren’t looking at Markus then.
DIANA: (Giggling). He shouldn’t take Lea so seriously. Of course she’s going to insult Gunda and Karina.
ELISABETH: And refuse to talk to Stefan?
DIANA: Well, she’s in love with Ulrich.
ELISABETH: And that explains her telling Odo of Brandt that he shouldn’t exhale his pipe smoke?
DIANA: He’s so cheap he probably appreciated the advice.
ELISABETH: And telling Karl of Grunwald that his mother should mend his oratory because his bombast was showing?
DIANA: His what?
ELISABETH: His bombast. His long windedness. His pomposity.
DIANA: (Laughing) I’m sorry. I adore Lea. “His momma should mend his oratory…
ELISABETH: (Laughing) because he bombast was showing.”
(LEA enters from rear.)
LEA: Oh, catch me before I float away. Tonight was so fantastic. Didn’t Ulrich look handsome? Doesn’t he dance divinely? He raved about my perfume.
DIANA: You two were together a lot. He didn’t dance twice with anyone but you and Gunda.
LEA: Why did you have to mention that old cow when I was feeling so happy?
ELISABETH: You know the jewels cast a spell on him.
LEA: I wish Markus and Ulrich would settle on the dowry. Then I could quit worrying.
(Offstage MARKUS calls for Lea and then enters garden from the rear.)
MARKUS: Lea, I need to talk with you.
LEA: You’ve talked with Ulrich?
MARKUS: Diana, Elisabeth, if you don’t mind.
(DIANA and ELISABETH exit stage right.)
MARKUS: Stefan came a long way to meet you.
LEA: He’s short and ugly; his beard looks like a bird’s nest; and he’s as dark as a peasant.
MARKUS: And he’s witty and responsible and my friend. You could have been polite.
LEA: And let my friends down? They expect me to have the taste and refinement to recognize a boar when I see one.
MARKUS: Taste and refinement? You? Vanity and ignorance is more like it.
LEA: So get rid of me. Talk with Ulrich.
MARKUS: Ulrich just turned down the villa with 100 head of sheep, 20 matched horses, ad 20 head of cattle. There are princesses who marry with less.
LEA: You lie! Ulrich loves me. He’d marry me if I had such a dowry.
MARKUS: (Shaking head.) I don’t know whether to be angry with you or pity you. How can you not see that deceiving fop for what he is? He cares for nothing except money.
LEA: You don’t want me to marry Ulrich. You want me here, begging you for favors and simpering with gratitude.
MARKUS: You? Simpering? That’s a laugh. I’ll make it 25 cows if I have to.
LEA: Thirty? Think of having dear sweet Karina here with you night and day.
MARKUS: Thirty if I have to.
(MARKUS leaves center back. LEA, happy, swirls toward stage right. ULRICH enters stage right.)
ULRICH: Lea, how delightful to see you here. (Reaches back to stage right where GUNDA enters.) Gunda, doesn’t our Lea look lovely.
GUNDA: (Looking only at Ulrich) If you say so, dear. Do tell her of our bethrothal.
LEA: Betrothal. You and….her?
GUNDA: Yes, me. Ulrich, have you been a naughty boy, leading other maidens on?
ULRICH: But I have cared only for you, my sweet.
GUNDA: I know, dearest. You are so worth a villa with 100 head of sheep, 20 matched horses, and 20 head of cattle.
ULRICH: Twenty-one head of cattle.
GUNDA: Oh, yes, twenty-one head of cattle.
LEA: A villa with 1oo head of sheep, 20 matched horses, and 21 head of cattle?
GUNDA: Yes, a dowry fit for my handsome love. (Makes kissy, kissy motions.)
LEA: Doesn’t it upset you to know you had to buy a husband?
GUNDA: (Laughing) Oh, isn’t our Lea a bit peevish tonight? (Takes Ulrich’s arm and moves toward stage right exit). I’ve heard old maids get like that.
(GUNDA AND ULRICH exit.)
LEA: One cow. One cow. Ulrich threw me over for one cow! So I’m the old maid now. We’ll see. I’ll marry before that bovine biddy. I’ll marry tomorrow. Markus! Markus! (Runs off stage left.)