Salathiel: What excuse did you tell them this time – to get you out of the house?
Eleanor: O Sal – I did not have to tell a falsehood this time – you where right – the truth is quite alright – I must start using it more often (she chuckles – she has a high girlish laughter which matches her sweet childlike voice). I simply told them that you and I are having a little picnic in the garden and they agreed.
Salathiel: Though your parents are used to your falsehoods I am not – what else happened I always know when you are keeping something from me. It is okay I am quite sure I can take it, but only quite so be swift – I had an eventful first day at school.
(She picks up a cake and starts eating it – she tilts her head to one side as she watches Eleanor)
Eleanor: (Spoken rapidly) Well they erm – they told me to be careful – Emma Middleton of Mir-marsh told her mother that you where telling all the girls they could think for themselves. And that life as we know it shall change and such scandalous things. But of course I told her that you would never say such falsehoods. I told her; (puts on innocent high voice makes her eyes large and fans herself quite dramatically) ‘Mother Emma lies more than I do, she does it for her father’s affection – he is never home you see’ – she was quite astounded by that – my mother doesn’t really like Mrs. Middleton very much anyway, she says she is half French. If you can believe that! But anyway I can stay with you out in the open. I am so glad you are back. I am pleased mother finally let us use this garden the house is rather restricting – I can only converse to you in code – When I am with you I prefer to be free – it is the only way to be.
Salathiel: I am glad partly – to be back. I have missed you – but Eleanor – surely you believe that life will inevitably change? And if not then you must at least believe that women are autonomous beings? You who dream of adventures abroad?
Eleanor: Well yes I do, though I do at times fear such changes – I guess now that I think on it – Emma must have been telling the truth – I simply hated the way she was saying these things – she is quite a piece of work. I guess you are always saying such things to me – it has just been so long – I almost forgot – but forgive me! Your general hopeful nature is not something one forgets easily. You should be a spokeswoman when you are older or maybe an MP or the Prime Minister – You are so incredibly wise – and calm – so full of wisdom – have you thought of what you want to be?
Salathiel: I have never thought of that –
Eleanor: Why not?! I know exactly what I want to do when I am older. If this new world of change shall come then I shall be an explorer; go about the world and conquer it all – all forEngland – I shall civilise all the savages.
Salathiel: How do you know those worlds aren’t civilised already?
Eleanor: How can they be? Some of them live in huts – and wear no clothes – is that not what you said – they live in huts thereby; they are not as smart as us. Therefore they aren’t civilised.
Salathiel: (Low intensity in her voice – which comes whenever she is passionately speaking) Just because they live in huts does not make them uncivil. People never like things they do not understand – so they belittle it. It is wrong! They treat the world as though it is a possession it is not and it certainly cannot be claimed by men or women.
Salathiel has risen and has turned away from Eleanor who sits appearing upset. Salathiel paces.
Eleanor: Is that what they do to you? They belittle you because they don’t understand you.
Salathiel: Nobody understands me – how can they? When even I don’t understand myself; I am a child born to parents who didn’t want me. The entire school shuns me – they call me names they think I am strange – and do you know what I take it – because they are right I am strange, weird, and abnormal. I am a nothing. A blight upon this earth – but I refuse to stand idly by while the world crumbles, to allow the likes of Emma Middleton to believe that she has to accept her fate – no matter how uncivil she is to me. It may seem insignificant to say a word or two but when we give encouragement what wonders it can do. I have hope. I shall make something of myself, and this world – Fate is what we make of it.
Eleanor: Hope? I wish I could feel such things. I want to explore but I know I never will, not in this lifetime – I will marry a suitor and become a docile wife – I shall lose my autonomy if ever I had any – that is the way of the world – so mother always says – nothing can be done – whenever I used to speak of the adventures I used to make up with you to mother – she would simply stare and say; Eleanor it is not a woman’s place to think – it is a woman’s place to give life, to cook, to clean – That is and always shall be the way of the world. At least you still have hope Salathiel – that counts for something.
Salathiel comes to sit beside Eleanor who is weeping – she takes her hand affectionately.
Salathiel: Why can you not be an explorer? You must believe in yourself. Even I who am outcaste have belief that one day my life will change. If you do not have hope then well what is the point? What is the point of life – this life that we are leading – the world which has become rotten – what is the point of it all – we must have hope – if we do not then things will never change they will simply stay the same because people don’t believe they can be different. So you see we have to have hope Elli – it’s the only way.
Eleanor: You are something Salathiel! I have hope for hope – one day things will change – because someone like you deserves it. When I am older I shall like to be exactly like you – especially your hair colour I simply love it. Know come I am freezing – we have spoken the afternoon away – mother – will complain.
(They rise – Eleanor picks up the basket)
You will come again tomorrow – my brother wishes to meet you – he is back – please say you will come! If only to see me again – I shall simply die of boredom – please.
Salathiel: I shall try – I have heard much of your brother – and if he is anything like you – we shall be fast friends – I know it.
Eleanor: You shall – he is better than me – you shall love him as I do – then we can become sisters. It will be perfect – I shall travel with you the next time you go!
Salathiel: We are sisters already. Bye my Elli.
(They hug and exit the stage at opposite ends. Raphael and Isolde come out from behind the tree)