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The Nurse shudders to think of what Creon and Haemon will think, and certainly Antigone's mother will reproach her in the underworld. Antigone bids the Nurse not to cry: she was only teasing. She embraces her "sweet red apple" and swears to her purity. The Nurse must not cry as it turns Antigone into a little girl, and she cannot be a girl today.
Suddenly a sleepless Ismene enters, also asking where Antigone has been. The Nurse chastises them both for rising so early. Antigone sends her away for coffee. She tells Ismene she should not forgo her beauty sleep. She recalls how she was such a beastly sister, flinging mud and worms at her, tying her to a tree and cutting off her hair. How easy it must be to never be unreasonable with all that "smooth silken hair" set around her head.
Ismene abruptly interrupts Antigone, saying they cannot bury Polynices, as Creon will put them to death. But Antigone is unmoved, and replies that it is his purpose, just as theirs is to bury their brother. Ismene insists that she behaves too impulsively. She sort of sees what Creon intends with his edict, and that he must set an example. Antigone rejoins that she, the nasty, willful brat, does not understand. The family has always told her to understand, to not play with water or earth, to not eat from every dish at once, to not run in the wind, or give empty one's pockets for beggars. Ismene warns that Creon has the mob with him, a mob of thousands arms and eyes that will drag them to the scaffold.
Antigone pushes Ismene off. Ismene enjoins her to be sensible, since only men die for ideas. Ismene tells Antigone that Antigone is a young and beautiful girl engaged to be married. Antigone retorts that she is not beautiful. Ismene disagrees, saying that she always gives the little boys and girls pause in the streets. Antigone bids her to go back to bed; the sun is up, and she can do nothing today. Ismene retires.
The Nurse reappears, calling Antigone to breakfast. Antigone asks the Nurse to keep her warm and safe as she always has, explaining that she is too young for what she must endure. The Nurse is stronger than fever, nightmare, shadow, and night. Her powerful hand, which Antigone presses to her check, wards off all evil. The Nurse implores her to explain. Antigone makes a request that the Nurse must never scold her dog Puff again and talk to her as she does, especially if, for whatever reason, she can no longer. If she gets too unhappy, she should put her to sleep. Indignant and perplexed, the Nurse agrees.
Suddenly Haemon enters and the Nurse departs. The betrothed embrace, and Antigone begs his forgiveness. Smiling, Haemon replies that he already had when she stormed out. He wonders from whom she stole the perfume, rouge, powder, and frock. Antigone admits that she filched them from Ismene. She was a fool to waste an evening, especially when they may not have many more. She asks Haemon to hold her with all his strength.
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