Short summary - Interior
The old garden, in the willow garden. At the back of the house, three windows on the lower floor are illuminated. The father is sitting by the fireside. Mother is leaning on the table and looking into emptiness. Two young girls in white are embroidering. Leaning its head on the mother's left hand, the child is dozing. The Old Man and the Stranger cautiously enter the garden.
They look to see if everyone is at home and talk, deciding how best to inform them about the death of the third sister. The old man believes that it is necessary to go together: the misfortune, which is reported by more than one person, is not so difficult. He looks for words to tell about what happened: “When she was found, she was floating on the river, and her hands were folded ...” The stranger corrects him - the girl's arms were extended along the body. It was the Stranger who noticed and pulled out the drowned woman. The old man recalls how he met the drowned girl in the morning at the church, - "she smiled like those who do not want to speak, who are afraid that they will not be solved ...". Each person has many reasons not to live, the Old Man argues. You cannot look into the soul as into a room. The Stranger and the Old Man watch the peaceful, ordinary life of the family. A family that thinks they are safe: there are bars on the windows, the doors are bolted. The stranger tries to go and tell about what happened, fearing that someone will break the news without preparing his family. Enter the Old Man's granddaughter, Maria. She reports that the peasants are walking and carrying a drowned woman on a stretcher from the branches. The old man tells Maria to look out the window: "You will at least understand a little what life is ..."
Inside the house, the sisters come up to the windows and peer into the darkness. Then they kiss the mother. The eldest strokes the child, but he does not wake up. The girls come up to their father. These simple, mean movements fascinate the watchers from the garden of the Old Man, his granddaughter and the Stranger. Now Maria asks her grandfather not to inform the relatives of the deceased girl about the misfortune. The old man is ready to agree with her and not tell them anything until morning, but too late - the crowd with the body has already approached the house. The Old Man's other granddaughter, Martha, appears. Realizing that her grandfather has not said anything yet, she is ready to go into the house with the bad news herself. The old man tells her to stay and not look out the window, so as not to see "what a human face becomes when death passes before her eyes."
Prayers are heard. Part of the crowd enters the garden. Muffled footsteps and quiet talk are heard. The old man goes into the house. Martha and Maria are sitting on a bench with their backs to the windows. The stranger looks out the window and comments on what is happening. Everyone is listening - probably it was the Old Man who knocked on the door. The father goes to open it. Everyone gets up, only the child, with his head tilted to one side, is asleep in a chair. The old man hesitates. But at last the terrible words are spoken. Mother, father and both girls rush to the door, but the father does not immediately manage to open it. The old man tries to restrain his mother. The crowd in the garden dissipates. Only the Stranger continues to stand under the window. Finally, the doors of the house are thrown wide open, everyone leaves at the same time. In the light of the stars and the moon, you can see how the drowned woman is being carried on a stretcher. And in the middle of an empty room, in an armchair, the child still sleeps sweetly. Silence. "The child has not woken up!" - says the Stranger and leaves.