Act III, Scene 4
(In the ballroom. MUSICIANS are in the background. GUESTS mingle and converse. ELIZABETH and DIANA, KARL and KARL’S MOMMA, ULRICH and GUNDA, MARKUS and STEFAN are all on stage. Jugglers, mimes and others may entertain between conversations.)
(Spotlight on DIANA and ELIZABETH, stage right front.)
DIANA: Markus sounded as though everything is going to be the same as before Lea left. The marriage to Lanzo will be anulled and Lea will come back to Ritter House.
ELIZABETH: Markus cannot expecting everything to be the same—not with Lea and Karina under the same roof.
DIANA: I wonder if Lea has changed? I will just die if she’s boring.
ELISABETH: I wonder…a summer of hardships had to change her.
(Spotlight on KARL and KARL’S MOMMA, stage left front.)
KARL’S MOMMA: A boat! I can’t believe you said “a boat.” What have I done to deserve a simpleton for a son?
KARL: But Momma….
KARL’S MOMMA: Maybe it’s all for the better. I imagine a summer of peasant life has silenced that shrew’s tongue.
KARL: But Momma..
KARL’S MOMMA: Well, she should appreciate you more now. (Straightens Karl’s collar.)
KARL: But, Momma, I don’t like Lea.
KARL’S MOMMA: So? You like villas and horses and cattle, don’t you?
KARL: (Sighs) Yes, Momma.
(Spotlight on Karina, center front.)
KARINA: Why did I ever listen to Markus? We’ll get Lea married, he said. She’ll be out of the house by Christmas, he said. You alone will be mistress of Ritter House, he said. Well, now all I hear is “Poor Lea, she has been hungry.” “Poor Lea, she has walked for weeks.” Well, I’m poor Lea’d out!”
(Spotlight on ULRICH and GUNDA, left of KARINA at center front.)
GUNDA: I’ve heard that Lea is coming to the ball.
ULRICH: I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing her.
GUNDA. Hmph. I’ve heard that Markus is having her marriage annulled.
GUNDA: (Eyes ULRICH carefully) Strange you didn’t know. I’ve heard that you and Markus have come to agreement about her dowry.
ULRICH: Me? You know I’m devoted to you.
GUNDA: (Takes off a ring and gives it to Ulrich) I’d love to see her rejected once more.
ULRICH: (Eyes ring, then puts it in a pocket) As good as done, my dear.
(MARKUS and LEA enter stage right. DIANA and ELISABETH rush to her.)
DIANA: (Throws arms around LEA) We’ve missed you so much!
ELISABETH: You’re moving back to Ritter House?
DIANA: And living with dear, sweet Karina.
ELISABETH: Diana. Don’t goad her.
LEA: I’ve missed Karina.
MARKUS: And Karina’s so relieved to know we’ve found our Lea.
(KARINA approaches, takes MARKUS’s arm and eyes Lea.)
KARINA: As you said, Markus, Lea looks well.
LEA: Why thank you, Karina. You look well yourself.
KARINA: What do you mean by that?
LEA: Why, just that marriage seems to agree with you.
KARINA: Well, remember, I am mistress of Ritter House now.
MARKUS: And looking forward to having Lea come to visit.
KARINA: Yes, visit. I’d love to help you plan a real wedding, dear.
LEA: How nice of you, Karina.
DIANA: (To Elisabeth) It’s worse than I feared.
ELISABETH: She did seem to let Karina walk right over her.
(ALL move to center. KARL approaches.)
KARL: Lea. Momma told me to say how glad we are to see you.
LEA: Why, thank you, Karl.
KARL: Momma said your hardships have probably tamed your tongue.
LEA: So kind of her to think of me.
KARL: Momma says that later I have to ask you to dance.
LEA: I’ll look forward to it.
KARL: Really? I’ll tell Momma. (Returns to stage left)
DIANA: (To Elisabeth) Oh, no!
ELISABETH: It won’t last. It just can’t.
(DIANA, ELISABETH and LEA move left toward GUNDA and ULRICH. KARINA holds MARKUS back and talks to him seriously.)
ULRICH: Lea, how lovely you look. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you looking more lovely.
LEA: How nice of you to say so.
ULRICH: It’s nice to have you back. We’ve missed you.
LEA: Lovely of you to say so.
ULRICH: Markus and I will be talking tomorrow.
LEA: You are interested in marriage then?
ULRICH: Of course, my dearest.
LEA: So nice to hear you say that.
ULRICH: And so lovely to hear you say that.
LEA: So lovely..(Pauses. Looks at Ulrich. Shrieks.) I sound like a bit of puffery. (Points at Ulrich.) You two-faced, spineless, money-grubbing excuse for a man. You deserve (points to Gunda) that pompous, pretentious Gorgon.
(ALL turn to watch. Some horrified. Some amused.)
And, Karl, (hesitates until she sees him) are you ever going to muzzle your mother? I’d rather scrub every floor in this house than dance with you.
And, Karina (turns toward her), you silly and insecure and you…you..you deserve my dullard brother.
STEFAN: And me, my sweet?
(LEA turns. STEFAN hums “Greensleeves.” LEA’s eyes grow big and she runs off stage right. Lights dim.)