The curtain rises on the living room of a sixteenth century cottage. The walls and ceiling are of black beams and white-washed plaster. On the left is a large oven fireplace with logs burning. Beyond it is a door. At the back is another door and a mullioned window half open giving a glimpse of bare garden hedge and winter sky. On the right wall is a staircase running down from the ceiling into the room, a dresser and a light shelf holding a book or two. Under the shelf is a small table piled with papers, ink-stand, sand box and so on. At it sits Shakespeare, his elbows on his papers, his head in his hands, absorbed. He is a boy of twenty but looks older. He is dark and slight. His voice is low, but, he speaks very clearly. Behind him Anne Hathaway moves to and fro from dresser to the central table, laying a meal. She is a slender, pale woman with reddish hair. Her movements are quick and furtive and she has a high sweet voice that shrills too easily.
Anne [hesitating, with little pauses between the sentences]. Supper is ready, Will! Will, did you hear?A farm-bird—Mother brought it. Won’t you come? She’s crying in for the basket presently. First primroses! Here, smell! Sweet, aren’t they? Bread? Are the snow wreaths gone from the fields? Did you go far? Are you wet? Was it cold? There’s black frost in the air, My mother says, and spring hangs dead on the boughs— Oh, you might answer when I speak to you! Shakespeare gets up quickly.Where are you going?