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Title: So Runs the World
Author: Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 1846-1916
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Translated by S.C. de SOISSONS









I once read a short story, in which a Slav author had all the lilies
and bells in a forest bending toward each other, whispering and
resounding softly the words: "Glory! Glory! Glory!" until the whole
forest and then the whole world repeated the song of flowers.

Such is to-day the fate of the author of the powerful historical
trilogy: "With Fire and Sword," "The Deluge" and "Pan Michael,"
preceded by short stories, "Lillian Morris," "Yanko the Musician,"
"After Bread," "Hania," "Let Us Follow Him," followed by two problem
novels, "Without Dogma," and "Children of the Soil," and crowned by a
masterpiece of an incomparable artistic beauty, "Quo Vadis." Eleven
good books adopted from the Polish language and set into circulation
are of great importance for the English-reading people--just now I am
emphasizing only this--because these books are written in the most
beautiful language ever written by any Polish author! Eleven books of
masterly, personal, and simple prose! Eleven good books given to
the circulation and received not only with admiration but with
gratitude--books where there are more or less good or sincere pages,
but where there is not one on which original humor, nobleness, charm,
some comforting thoughts, some elevated sentiments do not shine. Some
other author would perhaps have stopped after producing "Quo Vadis,"
without any doubt the best of Sienkiewicz's books. But Sienkiewicz
looks into the future and cares more about works which he is going to
write, than about those which we have already in our libraries, and he
renews his talents, searching, perhaps unknowingly, for new themes and

When one knows how to read a book, then from its pages the author's
face looks out on him, a face not material, but just the same full of
life. Sienkiewicz's face, looking on us from his books, is not always
the same; it changes, and in his last book ("Quo Vadis") it is quite
different, almost new.

There are some people who throw down a book after having read it, as
one leaves a bottle after having drank the wine from it. There are
others who read books with a pencil in their hands, and they mark
the most striking passages. Afterward, in the hours of rest, in the
moments when one needs a stimulant from within and one searches for
harmony, sympathy of a thing apparently so dead and strange as a book
is, they come back to the marked passages, to their own thoughts,
more comprehensible since an author expressed them; to their own
sentiments, stronger and more natural since they found them in
somebody else's words. Because ofttimes it seems to us--the common
readers--that there is no difference between our interior world and
the horizon of great authors, and we flatter ourselves by believing
that we are 'only less daring, less brave than are thinkers and poets,
that some interior lack of courage stopped us from having formulated
our impressions. And in this sentiment there is a great deal of truth.
But while this expression of our thoughts seems to us to be a daring,
to the others it is a need; they even do not suspect how much they are
daring and new. They must, according to the words of a poet, "Spin
out the love, as the silkworm spins its web." That is their capital
distinction from common mortals; we recognize them by it at once; and
that is the reason we put them above the common level. On the pages
of their books we find not the traces of the accidental, deeper
penetrating into the life or more refined feelings, but the whole
harvest of thoughts, impressions, dispositions, written skilfully,
because studied deeply. We also leave something on these pages. Some
people dry flowers on them, the others preserve reminiscences. In
every one of Sienkiewicz's volumes people will deposit a great many
personal impressions, part of their souls; in every one they will find
them again after many years.

There are three periods in Sienkiewicz's literary life. In the
first he wrote short stories, which are masterpieces of grace and
ingenuity--at least some of them. In those stories the reader will
meet frequent thoughts about general problems, deep observations of
life--and notwithstanding his idealism, very truthful about spiritual
moods, expressed with an easy and sincere hand. Speaking about
Sienkiewicz's works, no matter how small it may be, one has always the
feeling that one speaks about a known, living in general memory work.
Almost every one of his stories is like a stone thrown in the midst
of a flock of sparrows gathering in the winter time around barns: one
throw arouses at once a flock of winged reminiscences.

The other characteristics of his stories are uncommonness of his
conceptions, masterly compositions, ofttimes artificial. It happens
also that a story has no plot ("From the Diary of a Tutor in Pozman,"
"Bartek the Victor"), no action, almost no matter ("Yamyol"), but the
reader is rewarded by simplicity, rural theme, humoristic pictures
("Comedy of Errors: A Sketch of American Life"), pity for the little
and poor ("Yanko the Musician"), and those qualities make the reader
remember his stories well. It is almost impossible to forget--under
the general impressions--about his striking and standing-out figures
("The Lighthouse Keeper of Aspinwall"), about the individual
impression they leave on our minds. Apparently they are commonplace,
every-day people, but the author's talent puts on them an original
individuality, a particular stamp, which makes one remember them
forever and afterward apply them to the individuals which one meets
in life. No matter how insignificant socially is the figure chosen by
Sienkiewicz for his story, the great talent of the author magnifies
its striking features, not seen by common people, and makes of it a
masterpiece of literary art.

Although we have a popular saying: _Comparaison n'est pas raison_,
one cannot refrain from stating here that this love for the poor, the
little, and the oppressed, brought out so powerfully in Sienkiewicz's
short stories, constitutes a link between him and François Coppée, who
is so great a friend of the friendless and the oppressed, those who,
without noise, bear the heaviest chains, the pariahs of our happy and
smiling society. The only difference between the short stories of
these two writers is this, that notwithstanding all the mastercraft of
Coppée's work, one forgets the impressions produced by the reading
of his work--while it is almost impossible to forget "The Lighthouse
Keeper" looking on any lighthouse, or "Yanko the Musician" listening
to a poor wandering boy playing on the street, or "Bartek the Victor"
seeing soldiers of which military discipline have made machines rather
than thinking beings, or "The Diary of a Tutor" contemplating the pale
face of children overloaded with studies. Another difference between
those two writers--the comparison is always between their short
stories--is this, that while Sienkiewicz's figures and characters are
universal, international--if one can use this adjective here--and can
be applied to the students of any country, to the soldiers of any
nation, to any wandering musician and to the light-keeper on any sea,
the figures of François Coppée are mostly Parisian and could be hardly
displaced from their Parisian surroundings and conditions.

Sometimes the whole short story is written for the sake of that which
the French call _pointe_. When one has finished the reading of "Zeus's
Sentence," for a moment the charming description of the evening and
Athenian night is lost. And what a beautiful description it is! If
the art of reading were cultivated in America as it is in France
and Germany, I would not be surprised if some American Legouvé or
Strakosch were to add to his répertoire such productions of prose as
this humorously poetic "Zeus's Sentence," or that mystic madrigal, "Be

"But the dusk did not last long," writes Sienkiewicz. "Soon from the
Archipelago appeared the pale Selene and began to sail like a silvery
boat in the heavenly space. And the walls of the Acropolis lighted
again, but they beamed now with a pale green light, and looked more
than ever like the vision of a dream."

But all these, and other equally charming pictures, disappear for a
moment from the memory of the reader. There remains only the final
joke--only Zeus's sentence. "A virtuous woman--especially when she
loves another man--can resist Apollo. But surely and always a stupid
woman will resist him."

Only when one thinks of the story does one see that the ending--that
"immoral conclusion" I should say if I were not able to understand the
joke--does not constitute the essence of the story. Only then we find
a delight in the description of the city for which the wagons cater
the divine barley, and the water is carried by the girls, "with
amphorae poised on their shoulders and lifted hands, going home, light
and graceful, like immortal nymphs."

And then follow such paragraphs as the following, which determine the
real value of the work:

"The voice of the God of Poetry sounded so beautiful that it performed
a miracle. Behold! In the Ambrosian night the gold spear standing on
the Acropolis of Athens trembled, and the marble head of the gigantic
statue turned toward the Acropolis in order to hear better.... Heaven
and earth listened to it; the sea stopped roaring and lay peacefully
near the shores; even pale Selene stopped her night wandering in the
sky and stood motionless over Athens."

"And when Apollo had finished, a light wind arose and carried the song
through the whole of Greece, and wherever a child in the cradle heard
only a tone of it, that child grew into a poet."

What poet? Famed by what song? Will he not perhaps be a lyric poet?

The same happens with "Lux in Tenebris." One reads again and again
the description of the fall of the mist and the splashing of the rain
dropping in the gutter, "the cawing of the crows, migrating to the
city for their winter quarters, and, with flapping of wings, roosting
in the trees." One feels that the whole misery of the first ten pages
was necessary in order to form a background for the two pages of
heavenly light, to bring out the brightness of that light. "Those who
have lost their best beloved," writes Sienkiewicz, "must hang
their lives on something; otherwise they could not exist." In such
sentences--and it is not the prettiest, but the shortest that I have
quoted--resounds, however, the quieting wisdom, the noble love of
that art which poor Kamionka "respected deeply and was always sincere
toward." During the long years of his profession he never cheated nor
wronged it, neither for the sake of fame nor money, nor for praise nor
for criticism. He always wrote as he felt. Were I not like Ruth of
the Bible, doomed to pick the ears of corn instead of being myself a
sower--if God had not made me critic and worshipper but artist and
creator--I could not wish for another necrology than those words of
Sienkiewicz regarding the statuary Kamionka.

Quite another thing is the story "At the Source." None of the stories
except "Let Us Follow Him" possess for me so many transcendent
beauties, although we are right to be angry with the author for having
wished, during the reading of several pages, to make us believe an
impossible thing--that he was deceiving us. It is true that he has
done it in a masterly manner--it is true that he could not have done
otherwise, but at the same time there is a fault in the conception,
and although Sienkiewicz has covered the precipice with flowers,
nevertheless the precipice exists.

On the other hand, it is true that one reading the novel will forget
the trick of the author and will see in it only the picture of an
immense happiness and a hymn in the worship of love. Perhaps the poor
student is right when he says: "Among all the sources of happiness,
that from which I drank during the fever is the clearest and best." "A
life which love has not visited, even in a dream, is still worse."

Love and faith in woman and art are two constantly recurring themes
in "Lux in Tenebris," "At the Source," "Be Blessed," and "Organist of

When Sienkiewicz wrote "Let Us Follow Him," some critics cried angrily
that he lessens his talent and moral worth of the literature; they
regretted that he turned people into the false road of mysticism, long
since left. Having found Christ on his pages, the least religious
people have recollected how gigantic he is in the writings of Heine,
walking over land and sea, carrying a red, burning sun instead of a
heart. They all understood that to introduce Christ not only worthily
or beautifully, but simply and in such a manner that we would not be
obliged to turn away from the picture, would be a great art--almost a

In later times we have made many such attempts. "The Mysticism" became
to-day an article of commerce. The religious tenderness and simplicity
was spread among Parisian newspaper men, playwrights and novelists.
Such as Armand Sylvèstre, such as Theodore de Wyzewa, are playing at
writing up Christian dogmas and legends. And a strange thing! While
the painters try to bring the Christ nearer to the crowd, while
Fritz von Uhde or Lhermitte put the Christ in a country school, in a
workingman's house, the weakling writers, imitating poets, dress Him
in old, faded, traditional clothes and surround Him with a theatrical
light which they dare to call "mysticism." They are crowding the
porticos of the temple, but they are merely merchants. Anatole France
alone cannot be placed in the same crowd.

In "Let Us Follow Him" the situation and characters are known, and
are already to be found in literature. But never were they painted so
simply, so modestly, without romantic complaints and exclamations. In
the first chapters of that story there appears an epic writer with
whom we have for a long time been familiar. We are accustomed to
that uncommon simplicity. But in order to appreciate the narrative
regarding Antea, one must listen attentively to this slow prose and
then one will notice the rhythmic sentences following one after the
other. Then one feels that the author is building a great foundation
for the action. Sometimes there occurs a brief, sharp sentence ending
in a strong, short word, and the result is that Sienkiewicz has given
us a masterpiece which justifies the enthusiasm of a critic, who
called him a Prince of Polish Prose.

In the second period of his literary activity, Sienkiewicz has
produced his remarkable historical trilogy, "The Deluge," "With Fire
and Sword," and "Pan Michael," in which his talent shines forth
powerfully, and which possess absolutely distinctive characters from
his short stories. The admirers of romanticism cannot find any better
books in historical fiction. Some critic has said righteously about
Sienkiewicz, speaking of his "Deluge," that he is "the first of Polish
novelists, past or present, and second to none now living in England,
France, or Germany."

Sienkiewicz being himself a nobleman, therefore naturally in his
historical novels he describes the glorious deeds of the Polish
nobility, who, being located on the frontier of such barbarous nations
as Turks, Kozaks, Tartars, and Wolochs (to-day Roumania), had defended
Europe for centuries from the invasions of barbarism and gave the time
to Germany, France, and England to outstrip Poland in the development
of material welfare and general civilization among the masses--the
nobility being always very refined--though in the fifteenth century
the literature of Poland and her sister Bohemia (Chechy) was richer
than any other European country, except Italy. One should at least
always remember that Nicolaus Kopernicus (Kopernik) was a Pole and
John Huss was a Chech.

Historical novels began in England, or rather in Scotland, by the
genius of Walter Scott, followed in France by Alexandre Dumas _père_.
These two great writers had numerous followers and imitators in all
countries, and every nation can point out some more or less successful
writer in that field, but who never attained the great success of
Sienkiewicz, whose works are translated into many languages, even
into Russian, where the antipathy for the Polish superior degree of
civilization is still very eager.

The superiority of Sienkiewicz's talent is then affirmed by this fact
of translation, and I would dare say that he is superior to the father
of this kind of novels, on account of his historical coloring, so much
emphasized in Walter Scott. This important quality in the historical
novel is truer and more lively in the Polish writer, and then he
possesses that psychological depth about which Walter Scott never
dreamed. Walter Scott never has created such an original and typical
figure as Zagloba is, who is a worthy rival to Shakespeare's Falstaff.
As for the description of duelings, fights, battles, Sienkiewicz's
fantastically heroic pen is without rival.

Alexandre Dumas, notwithstanding the biting criticism of Brunetière,
will always remain a great favorite with the reading masses, who are
searching in his books for pleasure, amusement, and distraction.
Sienkiewicz's historical novels possess all the interesting qualities
of Dumas, and besides that they are full of wholesome food for
thinking minds. His colors are more shining, his brush is broader,
his composition more artful, chiselled, finished, better built, and
executed with more vigor. While Dumas amuses, pleases, distracts,
Sienkiewicz astonishes, surprises, bewitches. All uneasy
preoccupations, the dolorous echoes of eternal problems, which
philosophical doubt imposes with the everlasting anguish of the
human mind, the mystery of the origin, the enigma of destiny, the
inexplicable necessity of suffering, the short, tragical, and sublime
vision of the future of the soul, and the future not less difficult to
be guessed of by the human race in this material world, the torments
of human conscience and responsibility for the deeds, is said by
Sienkiewicz without any pedanticism, without any dryness.

If we say that the great Hungarian author Maurice Jokay, who also
writes historical novels, pales when compared with that fascinating
Pole who leaves far behind him the late lions in the field of
romanticism, Stanley J. Weyman and Anthony Hope, we are through with
that part of Sienkiewicz's literary achievements.

In the third period Sienkiewicz is represented by two problem novels,
"Without Dogma" and "Children of the Soil."

The charm of Sienkiewicz's psychological novels is the synthesis so
seldom realized and as I have already said, the plastic beauty and
abstract thoughts. He possesses also an admirable assurance of
psychological analysis, a mastery in the painting of customs and
characters, and the rarest and most precious faculty of animating
his heroes with intense, personal life, which, though it is only an
illusionary life, appears less deceitful than the real life.

In that field of novels Sienkiewicz differs greatly from Balzac, for
instance, who forced himself to paint the man in his perversity or in
his stupidity. According to his views life is the racing after riches.
The whole of Balzac's philosophy can be resumed in the deification of
the force. All his heroes are "strong men" who disdain humanity and
take advantage of it. Sienkiewicz's psychological novels are not
lacking in the ideal in his conception of life; they are active
powers, forming human souls. The reader finds there, in a
well-balanced proportion, good and bad ideas of life, and he
represents this life as a good thing, worthy of living.

He differs also from Paul Bourget, who as a German savant counts how
many microbes are in a drop of spoiled blood, who is pleased with any
ferment, who does not care for healthy souls, as a doctor does not
care for healthy people--and who is fond of corruption. Sienkiewicz's
analysis of life is not exclusively pathological, and we find in his
novels healthy as well as sick people as in the real life. He takes
colors from twilight and aurora to paint with, and by doing so he
strengthens our energy, he stimulates our ability for thinking about
those eternal problems, difficult to be decided, but which existed and
will exist as long as humanity will exist.

He prefers green fields, the perfume of flowers, health, virtue, to
Zola's liking for crime, sickness, cadaverous putridness, and manure.
He prefers _l'âme humaine_ to _la bête humaine_.

He is never vulgar even when his heroes do not wear any gloves, and he
has these common points with Shakespeare and Molière, that he does not
paint only certain types of humanity, taken from one certain part of
the country, as it is with the majority of French writers who do not
go out of their dear Paris; in Sienkiewicz's novels one can find every
kind of people, beginning with humble peasants and modest noblemen
created by God, and ending with proud lords made by the kings.

In the novel "Without Dogma," there are many keen and sharp
observations, said masterly and briefly; there are many states of the
soul, if not always very deep, at least written with art. And his
merit in that respect is greater than of any other writers, if we
take in consideration that in Poland heroic lyricism and poetical
picturesqueness prevail in the literature.

The one who wishes to find in the modern literature some aphorism
to classify the characteristics of the people, in order to be able
afterward to apply them to their fellow-men, must read "Children of
the Soil."

But the one who is less selfish and wicked, and wishes to collect for
his own use such a library as to be able at any moment to take a book
from a shelf and find in it something which would make him thoughtful
or would make him forget the ordinary life,--he must get "Quo Vadis,"
because there he will find pages which will recomfort him by their
beauty and dignity; it will enable him to go out from his surroundings
and enter into himself, _i.e_., in that better man whom we sometimes
feel in our interior. And while reading this book he ought to leave
on its pages the traces of his readings, some marks made with a lead
pencil or with his whole memory.

It seems that in that book a new man was aroused in Sienkiewicz, and
any praise said about this unrivaled masterpiece will be as pale as
any powerful lamp is pale comparatively with the glory of the sun.
For instance, if I say that Sienkiewicz has made a thorough study of
Nero's epoch, and that his great talent and his plastic imagination
created the most powerful pictures in the historical background, will
it not be a very tame praise, compared with his book--which, while
reading it, one shivers and the blood freezes in one's veins?

In "Quo Vadis" the whole _alta Roma_, beginning with slaves carrying
mosaics for their refined masters, and ending with patricians, who
were so fond of beautiful things that one of them for instance used to
kiss at every moment a superb vase, stands before our eyes as if it
was reconstructed by a magical power from ruins and death.

There is no better description of the burning of Rome in any
literature. While reading it everything turns red in one's eyes, and
immense noises fill one's ears. And the moment when Christ appears
on the hill to the frightened Peter, who is going to leave Rome, not
feeling strong enough to fight with mighty Caesar, will remain one of
the strongest passages of the literature of the whole world.

After having read again and again this great--shall I say the greatest
historical novel?--and having wondered at its deep conception,
masterly execution, beautiful language, powerful painting of the
epoch, plastic description of customs and habits, enthusiasm of
the first followers of Christ, refinement of Roman civilization,
corruption of the old world, the question rises: What is the
dominating idea of the author, spread out all over the whole book? It
is the cry of Christians murdered in circuses: _Pro Christo_!

Sienkiewicz searching always and continually for a tranquil harbor
from the storms of conscience and investigation of the tormented mind,
finds such a harbor in the religious sentiments, in lively Christian
faith. This idea is woven as golden thread in a silk brocade, not only
in "Quo Vadis," but also in all his novels. In "Fire and Sword" his
principal hero is an outlaw; but all his crimes, not only against
society, but also against nature, are redeemed by faith, and as a
consequence of it afterward by good deeds. In the "Children of the
Soul," he takes one of his principal characters upon one of seven
Roman hills, and having displayed before him in the most eloquent way
the might of the old Rome, the might as it never existed before and
perhaps never will exist again, he says: "And from all that nothing
is left only crosses! crosses! crosses!" It seems to us that in "Quo
Vadis" Sienkiewicz strained all his forces to reproduce from one side
all the power, all riches, all refinement, all corruption of the
Roman civilization in order to get a better contrast with the great
advantages of the cry of the living faith: _Pro Christo!_ In that
cry the asphyxiated not only in old times but in our days also find
refreshment; the tormented by doubt, peace. From that cry flows hope,
and naturally people prefer those from whom the blessing comes to
those who curse and doom them.

Sienkiewicz considers the Christian faith as the principal and even
the only help which humanity needs to bear cheerfully the burden and
struggle of every-day life. Equally his personal experience as well as
his studies made him worship Christ. He is not one of those who say
that religion is good for the people at large. He does not admit such
a shade of contempt in a question touching so near the human heart.
He knows that every one is a man in the presence of sorrow and the
conundrum of fate, contradiction of justice, tearing of death, and
uneasiness of hope. He believes that the only way to cross the
precipice is the flight with the wings of faith, the precipice made
between the submission to general and absolute laws and the confidence
in the infinite goodness of the Father.

The time passes and carries with it people and doctrines and systems.
Many authors left as the heritage to civilization rows of books, and
in those books scepticism, indifference, doubt, lack of precision and

But the last symptoms in the literature show us that the Stoicism
is not sufficient for our generation, not satisfied with Marcus
Aurelius's gospel, which was not sufficient even to that brilliant
Sienkiewicz's Roman _arbiter elegantiarum_, the over-refined patrician
Petronius. A nation which desired to live, and does not wish either to
perish in the desert or be drowned in the mud, needs such a great help
which only religion gives. The history is not only _magister vitae_,
but also it is the master of conscience.

Literature has in Sienkiewicz a great poet--epical as well as lyrical.

I shall not mourn, although I appreciate the justified complaint about
objectivity in _belles lettres._ But now there is no question what
poetry will be; there is the question whether it will be, and I
believe that society, being tired with Zola's realism and its
caricature, not with the picturesqueness of Loti, but with catalogues
of painter's colors; not with the depth of Ibsen, but the oddness of
his imitators--it seems to me that society will hate the poetry which
discusses and philosophizes, wishes to paint but does not feel, makes
archeology but does not give impressions, and that people will turn to
the poetry as it was in the beginning, what is in its deepest essence,
to the flight of single words, to the interior melody, to the
song--the art of sounds being the greatest art. I believe that if in
the future the poetry will find listeners, they will repeat to the
poets the words of Paul Verlaine, whom by too summary judgment they
count among incomprehensible originals:

  "_De la musique encore et toujours_."

And nobody need be afraid, from a social point of view, for
Sienkiewicz's objectivity. It is a manly lyricism as well as epic,
made deep by the knowledge of the life, sustained by thinking, until
now perhaps unconscious of itself, the poetry of a writer who walked
many roads, studied many things, knew much bitterness, ridiculed many
triflings, and then he perceived that a man like himself has only one
aim: above human affairs "to spin the love, as the silkworm spins its






I have a great respect for every accomplished work. Every time I put
on the end of any of my works _finis_, I feel satisfied; not because
the work is done, not on account of future success, but on account of
an accomplished deed.

Every book is a deed--bad or good, but at any rate accomplished--and a
series of them, written with a special aim, is an accomplished purpose
of life; it is a feast during which the workers have the right to
receive a wreath, and to sing: "We bring the crop, the crop!"

Evidently the merit depends on the result of the work. The profession
of the writer has its thorns about which the reader does not dream. A
farmer, bringing the crop to his barn, has this absolute surety, that
he brings wheat, rye, barley, or oats which will be useful to the
people. An author, writing even with the best of faith, may have
moments of doubt, whether instead of bread he did not give poison,
whether his work is not a great mistake or a great misdeed, whether it
has brought profit to humanity, or whether, were it not better for the
people and himself, had he not written anything, nothing accomplished.

Such doubts are foes to human peace, but at the same time they are a
filter, which does not pass any dirt. It is bad when there are too
many of them, it is bad when too few; in the first case the ability
for deeds disappears, in the second, the conscience. Hence the
eternal, as humanity, need of exterior regulator.

But the French writers always had more originality and independence
than others, and that regulator, which elsewhere was religion, long
since ceased to exist for them. There were some exceptions, however.
Balzac used to affirm that his aim was to serve religion and monarchy.
But even the works of those who confessed such principles were not in
harmony with themselves. One can say that it pleased the authors to
understand their activity in that way, but the reading masses could
understand it and often understood it as a negation of religious and
ethical principles.

In the last epoch, however, such misunderstanding became impossible,
because the authors began to write, either in the name of their
personal convictions, directly opposite to social principles and ties,
or with objective analysis, which, in its action of life, marks the
good and the evil as manifestations equally necessary and equally
justified. France--and through France the rest of Europe--was
overflowed with a deluge of books, written with such lightheartedness,
so absolute and with such daring, not counting on any responsibility
toward people, that even those who received them without any scruples
began to be overcome with astonishment. It seemed that every author
forced himself to go further than they expected him to. In that way
they succeeded in being called daring thinkers and original artists.
The boldness in touching certain subjects, and the way of interpreting
them, seemed to be the best quality of the writer. To that was joined
bad faith, or unconscious deceiving of himself and others. Analysis!
They analyzed in the name of truth, which apparently must and has the
right to be said, everything, but especially the evil, dirt, human
corruption. They did not notice that this pseudo-analysis ceases to be
an objective analysis, and becomes a sickish liking for rotten things
coming from two causes: in the first place from the corruption of the
taste, then from greater facility of producing striking effects.

They utilized the philological faculty of the senses, on the strength
of which repulsive impressions appear to us stronger and more real
than agreeable, and they abused that property beyond measure.

There was created a certain kind of travelling in putridness, because
the subjects being exhausted very quickly, there was a necessity to
find something new which could attract. The truth itself, in the name
of which it was done, was put in a corner in the presence of such
exigencies. Are you familiar with Zola's "La Terre"? This novel is to
represent a picture of a French village. Try and think of a French
village, or of any other village. How does it look altogether? It is
a gathering of houses, trees, fields, pastures, wild flowers, people,
herds, light, sky, singing, small country business, and work. In all
that, without any doubt, the manure plays an important part, but there
is something more behind it and besides it. But Zola's village looks
as if it was composed exclusively of manure and crime. Therefore
the picture is false, the truth twisted, because in nature the true
relation of things is different. If any one would like to take the
trouble of making a list of the women represented in French novels,
he would persuade himself that at least ninety-five per cent. of
them were fallen women. But in society it is not, and cannot be, so.
Probably even in the countries where they worshipped Astarte, there
were less bad women. Notwithstanding this, the authors try to persuade
us that they are giving a true picture of society, and that their
analysis of customs is an objective one. The lie, exaggeration, liking
for rotten things--such is the exact picture in contemporary novels.
I do not know what profit there is in literature like that, but I
do know that the devil has not lost anything, because through this
channel flows a river of mud and poison, and the moral sense became so
dulled that finally they tolerated such books which a few decades
ago would have brought the author to court. To-day we do not wish to
believe that the author of "Madame Bovary" had two criminal suits. Had
this book been written twenty years later, they would have found it
too modest.

But the human spirit, which does not slumber, and the organism that
wishes to live, does not suffer excess of poison. Finally there came a
moment for hiccoughs of disgust. Some voices began to rise asking for
other spiritual bread; an instinctive sentiment awakes and cries that
it cannot continue any longer in this way, that one must arise, shake
off the mud, clean, change! The people ask for a fresh breeze. The
masses cannot say what they want, but they know what they do not want;
they know they are breathing bad air, and that they are suffocating.
An uneasiness takes hold of their minds. Even in France they are
seeking and crying for something different; they began to protest
against the actual state of affairs. Many writers felt that
uneasiness. They had some moments of doubt, about which I have spoken
already, and those doubts were stronger on account of the uncertainty
of the new roads. Look at the last books of Bourget, Rod, Barrès,
Desjardin, the poetry of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Heredia, Mallarmé, and
even Maeterlinck and his school. What do you find there? The searching
for new essence and new form, feverish seeking for some issue,
uncertainty where to go and where to look for help--in religion or
mysticism, in duty outside of faith, or in patriotism or in humanity?
Above all, however, one sees in them an immense uneasiness. They do
not find any issue, because for it one needs two things: a great idea
and a great talent, and they did not have either of them. Hence the
uneasiness increases, and the same authors who arouse against rough
pessimism of naturalistic direction fell into pessimism themselves,
and by this the principal importance and aim of a reform became
weaker. What remains then? The bizarre form. And in this bizarre form,
whether it is called symbolism or impressionism, they go in deeper and
become more entangled, losing artistic equilibrium, common sense, and
serenity of the soul. Often they fall into the former corruption as
far as the essence is concerned, and almost always into dissonance
with one's self, because they have an honest sentiment that they must
give to the world something new, and they know not what.

Such are the present times! Among those searching in darkness,
wandering and weary ones, one remained quiet, sure of himself and his
doctrine, immovable and almost serious in his pessimism. It was Emile
Zola. A great talent, slow but powerful and a potent force, surprising
objectivism if the question is about a sentiment, because it is equal
to almost complete indifference, such an exceptional gift of seeing
the entire soul of humanity and things that it approaches this
naturalistic writer to mystics--all that gives him a very great and
unusual originality.

The physical figure does not always reproduce the spiritual
individuality. In Zola, this relation comes out very strikingly. A
square face, low forehead covered with wrinkles, rough features, high
shoulders and short neck, give to his person a rough appearance.
Looking at his face and those wrinkles around the eyes, you can guess
that he is a man who can stand much, that he is persevering and
stubborn, not only in his projects but in the realization of them; but
what is mere important, he is so in his thinking also. There is no
keenness in him. At the first glance of the eye one can see that he
is a doctrinarian shut up in himself, who does not embrace large
horizons--sees everything at a certain angle, narrow-mindedly yet
seeing distinctly.

His mind, like a dark lantern, throws a narrow light in only one
direction, and he goes in that direction with immovable surety.
In that way the history of a series of his books called "Les
Rougon-Macquart" becomes clear.

Zola was determined to write the history of a certain family at the
time of the Empire, on the ground of conditions produced by it, in
consideration of the law of heredity.

There was a question even about something more than this
consideration, because this heredity had to become the physiological
foundation of the work. There is a certain contradiction in the
premises. Speaking historically Rougon-Macquart had to be a picture
of French society during its last times. According to their moral
manifestations of life, therefore, they ought to be of themselves more
or less a normal family. But in such a case what shall one do with
heredity? To be sure, moral families are such on the strength of
the law of heredity--but it is impossible to show it in such
conditions--one can do it only in exceptional cases of the normal
type. Therefore the Rougon are in fact a sick family. They are
children of nervousness. It was contracted by the first mother of the
family, and since that time the coming generations, one after another,
followed with the same stigma on their foreheads. This is the way the
author wishes to have it, and one must agree with him. In what way,
however, can a history of one family exceptionally attainted with a
mental disorder be at the same time a picture of French society, the
author does not explain to us. Had he said that during the Empire
all society was sick, it would be a trick. A society can walk in the
perilous road of politics or customs and be sick as a community, and
at the same time have healthy individuals and families. These are two
different things. Therefore one of the two: either the Rougon are
sick, and in that case the cycle of novels about them is not a picture
of French society during the Empire--it is only a psychological
study--or the whole physiological foundations, all this heredity
on which the cycle is based, in a word Zola's whole doctrine, is

I do not know whether any one has paid attention to Zola at this _aut
aut_! It is sure that he never thought of it himself. Probably it
would not have had any influence, as the criticisms had no influence
on his theory of heredity. Critics and physiologists attacked him
ofttimes with an arsenal of irrefutable arguments. It did not do any
good. They affirmed in vain that the theory of heredity is not proved
by any science, and above all it is difficult to grasp it and show it
by facts; they pointed in vain that physiology cannot be fantastical
and its laws cannot depend on the free conception of an author.
Zola listened, continued to write, and in the last volume he gave
a genealogical tree of the family of Rougon-Macquart, with such a
serenity as if no one ever doubted his theory.

At any rate, this tree has one advantage. It is so pretentious, so
ridiculous that it takes away from the theory the seriousness which it
would have given to less individual minds. We learn from it that from
a nervously sick great-grandmother grows a sick family. But the one
who would think that her nervousness is seen in descendants as it is
in the physical field, in a certain similar way, in some inclination
or passion for something, will be greatly mistaken. On the contrary,
the marvellous tree produces different kinds of fruit. You can find
on it red apples, pears, plums, cherries, and everything you might
desire. And all that on account of great-grandmother's nervousness. Is
it the same way in nature? We do not know. Zola himself does not have
any other proofs than clippings from newspapers, describing different
crimes; he preserved these clippings carefully as "human documents,"
and which he uses according to his fancy.

It can be granted to him, but he must not sell us such fancy for
the eternal and immutable laws of nature. Grandmother did have
nervousness, her nearest friends were in the habit of searching for
remedies against ills not in a drug-store, therefore her male and
female descendants are such as they must be--namely, criminals,
thieves, fast women, honest people, saints, politicians, good mothers,
bankers, farmers, murderers, priests, soldiers, ministers--in a word,
everything which in the sphere of the mind, in the sphere of health,
in the sphere of wealth and position, in the sphere of profession, can
be and are men as well as women in the whole world. One is stupefied
voluntarily. What then? And all that on account of grandmother's
nervousness? "Yes!" answers the author. But if Adelaïde Fouqué had not
had it, her descendants would be good or bad just the same and have
the same occupations men and women usually have in this world.
"Certainly!" Zola answers; "but Adelaïde Fouqué had nervousness." And
further discussion is impossible, because one has to do with a man who
his own voluntary fancy takes for a law of nature and his brain cannot
be opened with a key furnished by logic. He built a genealogical tree;
this tree could have been different--but if it was different, he would
sustain that it can be only such as it is--and he would prefer to be
killed rather than be convinced that his theory was worthless.

At any rate, it is such a theory that it is not worth while to
quarrel about it. A long time ago it was said that Zola had one good
thing--his talent; and one bad--his doctrine. If as a consequence of
an inherited nervousness one can become a rascal as well as a good
man, a Sister of Charity as well as Nana, a farmer boy as well as
Achilles--in that case there is an heredity which does not exist. A
man can be that which he wishes to be. The field for good will and
responsibility is open, and all those moral foundations on which human
life is based come out of the fire safely. We could say to the author
that there is too much ado about nothing, and finish with him as one
finishes with a doctrinarian and count only his talent. But he cares
for something else. No matter if his doctrine is empty, he makes from
it other deductions. The entire cycle of his books speaks precisely.
"No matter what you are, saint or criminal, you are such on the
strength of the law of heredity, you are such as you must be, and in
that case you have neither merit nor are you guilty." Here is the
question of responsibility! But we are not going to discuss it. The
philosophy has not yet found the proof of the existence of man, and
when _cogito ergo sum_ of Cartesius was not sufficient for it, the
question is still open. Even if all centuries of philosophy affirm it
or not, the man is intrinsically persuaded that he exists, and no less
persuaded that he is responsible for his whole life, which, without
any regard to his theories, is based on such persuasion. And then even
the science did not decide the question of the whole responsibility.
Against authorities one can quote other authorities, against opinions
one can bring other opinions, against deductions other deductions.
But for Zola such opinion is decided. There is only one grandmother
Adelaïde, or grandfather Jacques, on whom everything depends. From
that point begins, according to my opinion, the bad influence of the
writer, because he not only decides difficult questions to be decided
once and forever, but he popularizes them and facilitates the
corruption of society. No matter if every thief or every murderer can
appeal to a grandmother with nervousness. Courts, notwithstanding the
cycle of Rougon-Macquart, will place them behind bars. The evil is not
in single cases, but in this, that into the human soul a bad pessimism
and depression flows, that the charm of life is destroyed, the hope,
the energy, the liking for life, and therefore all effort in the
direction of good is shattered.

_A quoi bon?_ Such is the question coming by itself. A book is also an
activity, forming human souls. If at least the reader would find
in Zola's book the bad and good side of human life in an equal
proportion, or at least in such as one can find it in reality! Vain
hope! One must climb high in order to get colors from a rainbow or
sunset--but everybody has saliva in his mouth and it is easy to paint
with it. This naturalist prefers cheap effects more than others do; he
prefers mildew to perfumes, _la bête humaine_ to _l'âme humaine!_

If we could bring an inhabitant of Venus or Mars to the earth and ask
him to judge of life on the earth from Zola's novels, he would say
most assuredly: "This life is sometimes quite pure, like 'Le Rève,'
but in general it is a thing which smells bad, is slippery, moist,
dreadful." And even if the theories on which Zola has based his works
were, as they are not, acknowledged truths, what a lack of pity to
represent life in such a way to the people, who must live just the
same! Does he do it in order to ruin, to disgust, to poison every
action, to paralyze every energy, to discourage all thinking? In the
presence of that, we are even sorry that he has a talent. It would
have been better for him, for France, that he had not had it. And one
wonders that he is not frightened, that when a fear seizes even those
who did not lead to corruption, he alone with such a tranquillity
finishes his Rougon-Macquart as if he had strengthened the capacity
for life of the French people instead of having destroyed it. How is
it possible that he cannot understand that people brought up on such
corrupted bread and drinking, such bad water, not only will be unable
to resist the storm, but even they will not have an inclination to do
so! Musset has written in his time this famous verse: "We had already
your German Rhine." Zola brings up his society in such a way that, if
everything that he planted would take root, the second of Musset's
verses would be: "But to-day we will give you even the Seine." But
it is not as bad as that. "La Débâcle" is a remarkable book,
notwithstanding all its faults, but the soldiers, who will read it,
will be defeated by those who in the night sing: "Glory, Glory,

I consider Zola's talent as a national misfortune, and I am glad that
his times are passing away, that even the most zealous pupils abandon
the master who stands alone more and more.

Will humanity remember him in literature? Will his fame pass? We
cannot affirm, but we can doubt! In the cycle of Rougon-Macquart there
are powerful volumes, as "Germinal" or "La Débâcle." But in general,
that which Zola's natural talent made for his immortality was spoiled
by a liking for dirty realism and his filthy language. Literature
cannot use such expressions of which even peasants are ashamed. The
real truth, if the question is about vicious people, can be attained
by other means, by probable reproduction of the state of their souls,
thoughts, deeds, finally by the run of their conversation, but not by
verbal quotation of their swearings and most horrid words. As in the
choice of pictures, so in the choice of expression, exist certain
measures, pointed at by reason and good taste. Zola overstepped it
to such a degree ("La Terre") to which nobody yet dared to approach.
Monsters are killed because they are monsters. A book which is the
cause of disgust must be abandoned. It is the natural order of
things. From old production as of universal literature survive the
forgetfulness of the rough productions, destined to excite laughter
(Aristophanes, Rabelais, etc.), or lascivious things, but written
with an elegance (Boccaccio). Not one book written in order to excite
nausea outlived. Zola, for the sake of the renown caused by his works,
for the sake of the scandal produced by every one of his volumes,
killed his future. On account of that happened a strange thing: it
happened that he, a man writing according to a conceived plan, writing
with deliberation, cold and possessing his subjects as very few
writers are, created good things only when he had the least
opportunity to realize his plans, doctrines, means,--in a word, when
he dominated the subject the least and was dominated by the subject

Such was the case in "Germinal" and "La Débâcle." The immensity of
socialism and the immensity of the war simply crushed Zola with all
his mental apparatus. His doctrines became very small in the presence
of such dimensions, and hardly any one hears of them in the noise of
the deluge, overflowing the mine and in the thundering of Prussian
cannons; only talent remained. Therefore in both those books there are
pages worthy of Dante. Quite a different thing happened with "Docteur
Pascal." Being the last volume of the cycle, it was bound to be the
last deduction, from the whole work the synthesis of the doctrine, the
belfry of the whole building. Consequently in this volume Zola speaks
more about doctrine than in any other previous volume; as the doctrine
is bad, wicked, and false, therefore "Docteur Pascal" is the worst and
most tedious book of all the cycle of Rougon-Macquart. It is a series
of empty leaves on which tediousness is hand in hand with lack of
moral sense, it is a pale picture full of falsehood--such is "Le
Docteur Pascal." Zola wishes to have him an honest man. He is the
outcast of the family Rougon-Macquart. In heredity there happens such
lucky degenerations; the doctor knows about it, he considers himself
as a happy exception, and it is for him a source of continuous inward
pleasure. In the mean while, he loves people, serves them and sells
them his medicine, which cures all possible disease. He is a sweet
sage, who studies life, therefore he gathers "human documents," builds
laboriously the genealogical tree of the family of Rougon-Macquart,
whose descendant he is himself, and on the strength of his
observations he comes to the same conclusion as Zola. To which? It is
difficult to answer the question; but here it is more or less: if any
one is not well, usually he is sick and that heredity exists, but
mothers and fathers who come from other families can bring into the
blood of children new elements; in that way heredity can be modified
to such a degree that strictly speaking it does not exist.

To all that Doctor Pascal is a positivist. He does not wish to affirm
anything, but he does affirm that actual state of science does not
permit of any further deductions than those which on the strength of
the observation of known facts can be deducted, therefore one must
hold them, and neglect the others. In that respect his prejudices do
not tell us anything more than newspaper articles, written by young
positivists. For the people, who are rushing forward, for those
spiritual needs, as strong as thirst and hunger, by which the man felt
such ideas as God, faith, immortality, the doctor has only a smile of
commiseration. And one might wonder at him a little bit. One could
understand him better if he did not acknowledge the possibility of the
disentangling of different abstract questions, but he affirms that the
necessity does not exist--by which he sins against evidence, because
such a necessity exists, not further than under his own roof, in the
person of his niece. This young person, brought up in his principles,
at once loses the ground under her feet. In her soul arose more
questions than the doctor was able to answer. And from this moment
began a drama for both of them.

"I cannot be satisfied with that," cries the niece, "I am choking; I
must know something, and if your science cannot satisfy my necessity,
I am going there where they will not only tranquillize me, not only
explain everything to me, but also will make me happy--I am going to

And she went. The roads of master and pupil diverge more and more.
The pupil comes to the conclusion that the science which is only a
slipknot on the human neck is positively bad and that it would be a
great merit before God to burn those old papers in which the doctor
writes his observations. And the drama becomes stronger, because
notwithstanding the doctor being sixty years old, and Clotilde is only
twenty years old, these two people are in love, not only as relations
are in love, but as a man and woman love each other. This love adds
more bitterness to the fight and prompts the catastrophe.

On a certain night the doctor detected the niece in a criminal deed.
She opened his desk, took out his papers, and she was ready to
burn them up! They began to fight! Beautiful picture! Both are in
nightgowns--they pull each other's hair, they scratch each other. He
is stronger than she; although he has bitten her, she feels a certain
pleasure in that experiment on her maiden skin of the strength of a
man. In that is the whole of Zola. But let us listen, because the
decisive moment approaches. The doctor himself, after having rested a
while, announces it solemnly. The reader shivers. Will the doctor by
the strength of his genius tear the sky and show to her emptiness
beyond the stars? Or will he by the strength of his eloquence ruin her
church, her creed, her ecstasies, her hopes?

In the quietness the doctor's low voice is heard:

"I did not wish to show you that, but it cannot last any longer--the
time has come. Give me the genealogical tree of Rougon-Macquart."

Yes! The genealogical tree of Rougon-Macquart! The reading of it
begins: There was one Adelaïde Fouqué, who married Rougon-Macquart's
friend. Rougon had Eugene Rougon, also Pascal Rougon, also Aristides,
also Sidonie, also Martha. Aristides had Maxyme, Clotilde, Victor, and
Maxyme had Charles, and so on to the end; but Sidonie had a daughter
Angelle, and Martha, who married Mouret, who was from Macquart's
family, had three children, etc.

The night passes, pales, but the reading continues. After Rougons come
Macquarts, then the generations of both families. One name follows
another. They appear bad, good, indifferent, all classes, from
ministers, bankers, great merchants, to simple soldiers or rascals
without any professions--finally the doctor stops reading--and looking
with his eyes of savant at his niece, asks: "Well, what now?"

And beautiful Clotilde throws herself into his arms, crying:
"_Vicisti! Vicisti!_"

And her God, her church, her flight toward ideals, her spiritual needs
disappeared, turned into ashes.

Why? On the ground of what final conclusion? For what good reason?
What could there be in the tree that convinced her? How could it
produce any other impression than that of tediousness? Why did she
not ask the question, which surely must have come to the lips of the
reader: "And what then?"--it is unknown! I never noticed that any
other author could deduct from such a trifling and insignificant
cause such great and immediate consequences. It is as much of an
astonishment as if Zola should order Clotilde's faith and principles
to be turned into ashes after the doctor has read to her an almanac,
time-table, bill of fare, or catalogue of some museum. The
freedom surpasses here all possible limits and becomes absolutely
incomprehensible. The reader asks whether the author deceives himself
or if he wishes to throw some dust into the eyes of the public? And
this climax of the novel is at the same time the downfall of all
doctrine. Clotilde ought to have answered as follows:

"Your theory has no connection with my faith in God and the Church.
Your heredity is so _loose_ and on the strength of it one can be
so much, _everything_, that it becomes _nothing_--therefore the
consequences which you deduct from it also are based upon nothing.
Nana, according to you, is a street-walker, and Angelle is a saint;
the priest Mouret is an ascetic, Jacques Lantier a murderer, and all
that on account of great-grandmother Adelaïde! But I tell you with
more real probability, that the good are good because they have my
faith, because they believe in responsibility and immortality of the
soul, and the bad are bad because they do not believe in anything. How
can you prove that the cause of good and bad is in great-grandmother
Adelaïde Fouqué? Perhaps you will tell me that it is so because it
is so; but I can tell you that the faith and responsibility were for
centuries a stopper for evil, and you cannot deny it, if you wish to
be a positivist, because those are material facts. In a word, I have
objective proofs where you have your personal views, and if it is so,
then leave my faith and throw your fancy into the fire."

But Clotilde does not answer anything like this. On the contrary, she
eats at once the apple from this tree--passes soul and body into the
doctor's camp, and she does it because Zola wishes to have it that
way. There is no other reason for it and cannot be.

Had she done that on account of love for the doctor, had this reason,
which in a woman can play such an important part, acted on her,
everything would be easy to understand. But there is no such thing!
In that case what would become of all of Zola's doctrine? It acts
exclusively upon Clotilde, the author wishes to have only such a
reason. And it happens as he wishes, but at the cost of logic and
common sense. Since that time everything would be permitted: one will
be allowed to persuade the reader that the man who is not loved makes
a woman fall in love with him by means of showing her a price list
of butter or candies. To such results a great and true talent is
conducted by a doctrine.

This doctrine conducts also to perfect atrophy of moral sense. This
heredity is a wall in which one can make as many windows as one
pleases. The doctor is such a window. He considers himself as being
degenerated from the nervousness of the family; it means that he is
a normal man, and as such he would transmit his health to his
descendants. Clotilde thinks also that it would be quite a good idea,
and as they are in love, consequently they take possession of each
other, and they do it as did people in the epoch of caverns. Zola
considered it a perfectly natural thing, Doctor Pascal thinks the
same, and as Clotilde passed into his camp, she did not make any
opposition. This appears a little strange. Clotilde was religious only
a little while ago! Her youth and lack of experience do not justify
her either. Even at eight years, girls have some sentiment of modesty.
At twenty years a young girl always knows what she is doing, and she
cannot be called a sacrifice, and if she departs from the sentiment of
modesty she does it either by love, which makes noble the raptures,
or because she does it by the act of duty, but at the same time
she wishes to be herself a legitimated duty. Even if a woman is an
irreligious being and she refuses to be blessed by religion, she can
desire that her sentiment were legitimated. The priest or _monsieur le
maire_? Clotilde, who loves Doctor Pascal, does not ask for anything.
Marriage, accomplished by a _maire_, seems to her to be a secondary
thing. Here also one cannot understand her, because a true love would
wish to make the knot lasting. That which really happens is quite
different, in the novel, that first separation is the end of the
relation between them. Were they married at least by a _maire_, they
would have remained even in the separation husband and wife, they
would not cease to belong to each other; but as they were not married,
therefore at the moment of her departure he became unmarried, as
formerly, Doctor Pascal, she--seduced Clotilde. Even during their life
in common there happened a thousand disagreeable incidents for both of
them. One time, for instance, Clotilde rushes crying and red, and when
the frightened doctor asks her what is the matter, she answers:

"Ah, those women! Walking in the shade, I closed my parasol and I hurt
a child. In that moment all of the women fell on me and began to shout
such things! Ah, it was so dreadful! that I shall never have any
children, that such things are not for such a dishcloth as I! and many
other things which I cannot repeat; I do not wish to repeat them; I do
not even understand them."

Her breast was moved by sobbings; he became pale, and seizing her by
the shoulders, commenced to cover her face with kisses, saying:

"It's my fault, you suffer through me! Listen, we will go very far
from here, where no one knows us, where everybody will greet you and
you shall be happy."

Only one thing does not come to their minds: to be married. When
Pascal's mother speaks to him about it, they do not listen to it. It
is not dictated to her by woman's modesty, to him by the care for her
and the desire to shelter her from insults. Why? Because Zola likes it
that way.

But perhaps he cares to show what tragical results are produced
by illegitimate marriages? Not at all. He shares the doctor's and
Clotilde's opinion. Were they married, there would be no drama, and
the author wishes to have it. That is the reason.

Then comes the doctor's insolvency. One must separate. This separation
becomes the misfortune of their lives: the doctor will die of it. Both
feel that it will not be the end, they do not wish it--and they do not
think of any means which would forever affirm their mutual dependence
and change the departure for only a momentary separation, but not for
eternal farewells: and they do not marry.

They did not have any religion, therefore they did not wish for any
priest; it is logical, but why did they not wish for a _maire_? The
question remains without an answer.

Here, besides lack of moral sense, there is something more, the lack
of common sense. The novel is not only immoral, but at the same time
it is a bad shanty, built of rotten pieces of wood, not holding
together, unable to suffer any contact with logic and common sense. In
such mud of nonsense even the talent was drowned.

One thing remains: the poison flows as usual in the soul of the
reader, the mind became familiar with the evil and ceased to despise
it. The poison licks, spoils the simplicity of the soul, moral
impressions and that sense of conscience which distinguishes the bad
from the good.

The doctor dies from languishing after Clotilde. She comes back under
the old roof and takes care of the child. Nothing of that which the
doctor sowed in her soul had perished. On the contrary, everything
grows very well. She loved the life, she also loves it now, she is
resigned to it entirely; not through resignation but because she
acknowledges it--and the more she thinks of it, rocking in her lap
the child without a name, she acknowledges more. Such is the end of

But such an end is a new surprise. Here we have before us nineteen
volumes, and in those volumes, as Zola himself says, _tant de boue,
tant de larmes. C'était à se demander si d'un coup de foudre, il
n'aurait pas mieux valu balayer cette fourmilière gatée et miserable_.
And it is true! Any one who will read those volumes comes to the
conclusion that life is a blindly mechanical and exasperating process,
in which one must take part because one cannot avoid it. There is more
mud in it than green grass, more corruption than wholesomeness, more
odor of corpses than perfume of flowers, more illness, more madness,
and more crime than health and virtue. It is a Gehenna not only
dreadful but also abominable. The hair rises on the head, and in the
mean while the mouth is wet and the question comes, will it not be
better that a thunderbolt destroyed _cette fourmilière gatée et

There cannot be any other conclusion, because any other would be a
madman's mental aberration, the breaking of the rules of sense and
logic. And now do you know how the cycle of these novels really ended?
By a hymn in the worship of life.

Here one's hands drop! It will be useless work to show again that the
author comes to a conclusion which is illogical with his whole work.
God bless him! But he must not be astonished if he is abandoned by his
pupils. The people must think according to rules of logic. And as in
the mean while they must live, consequently they wish to get some
consolation in this life. Masters of Zola's kind gave them only
corruption, chaos, disgust for life, and despair. Their rationalism
cannot prove anything else, and if it did, it would be with too much
zeal, it would overstep the limits. To-day the suffocated need some
pure air, the doubting ones some hope, tormented by uneasiness, some
quietude, therefore they are doing well when they turn therefrom where
the hope and peace flow, there where they bless them and where they
say to them as to Lazarus: _Tolle grabatum tuum et ambula_.

By this one can explain to-day's evolutions, whose waves flow to all
parts of the world.

According to my opinion, poetry as well as novels must pass through
it--even more: they must quicken it and make it more powerful. One
cannot continue any longer that way! On an exhausted field, only
weeds grow. The novel must strengthen the life, not shake it; make
it nobler, not soil it; carry good "news," and not bad. It does not
matter whether this which I say here please any one or not, because I
believe that I feel the great and urgent need of the human soul, which
cries for a change.



_A Dramatic Picture in One Act_.


  Jadwiga Karlowiecka.
  Leon--A Painter.
  A Servant.

In the House of Jadwiga Karlowiecka.


Servant.--The lady will be here in a minute.

Leon (alone).--I cannot overcome my emotion nor can I tranquillize the
throbbing of my heart. Three times have I touched the bell and three
times have I wished to retreat. I am troubled. Why does she wish to
see me! (Takes out a letter). "Be so kind as to come to see me on a
very important matter. In spite of all that has happened I hope
you will not refuse to grant the request of--a woman. Jadwiga
Karlowiecka." Perhaps it would have been better and more honest to
have left this letter without an answer. But I see that I have cheated
myself in thinking that nothing will happen, and that it would be
brutal of me not to come. The soul--poor moth--flies toward the light
which may burn, but can neither warm nor light it. What has attracted
me here? Is it love? Can I answer the question as to whether I still
love this woman--so unlike my pure sweetheart of former years--this
half lioness, whose reputation has been torn to shreds by human
tongues? No! It is rather some painful curiosity which has attracted
me here. It is the unmeasurable grief which in two years I have been
unable to appease, that desire for a full explanation: "Why?" has been
repeated over and over during my sleepless nights. And then let her
see this emaciated face--let her look from nearby on that broken life.
I could not resist. Such vengeance is my right. I shall be proud
enough to set my teeth to stifle all groans. What is done cannot be
undone, and I swear to myself that it shall never be done again.


Jadwiga (entering).--You must excuse me for keeping you waiting.

Leon.--It is my fault. I came too early, although I tried to be exact.

Jadwiga.--No, I must be frank and tell you how it happened. In former
times we were such dear friends, and then we have not seen each other
for two years. I asked you to come, but I was not sure that you
would grant my request, therefore--when the bell rang--after two
years--(smiling) I needed a few moments to overcome the emotion. I
thought it was necessary for both of us.

Leon.--I am calm, madam, and I listen to you.

Jadwiga.--I wished also that we should greet each other like people
who have forgotten about the past, who know that it will not return,
and to be at once on the footing of good friends; I do not dare say
like brother and sisters. Therefore, Sir, here is my hand, and now be
seated and tell me if you accept my proposition.

Leon.--I leave that to you.

Jadwiga.--If that is so, then I must tell you that such an agreement,
based on mutual well-wishing, excludes excessive solemnity. We must be
natural, sincere, and frank.

Leon.--Frankly speaking, it will be a little difficult, still.

Jadwiga.--It would be difficult if there were no condition: "Not a
word about the past!" If we both keep to this, a good understanding
will return of itself and in time we may become good friends. What
have you been doing during the past two years?

Leon.--I have been pushing the wheelbarrow of life, as all mortals
do. Every Monday I have thought that in a week there would be another
Monday. I assure you that there is some distraction in seeing the
days spin out like a thread from a ball, and how everything that has
happened goes away and gradually disappears, like a migratory bird.

Jadwiga.--Such distraction is good for those to whom another bird
comes with a song of the future. But otherwise--

Leon.--Otherwise it is perhaps better to think that when all threads
will be spun out from the ball, there will remain nothing. Sometimes
the reminiscences are very painful. Happily time dulls their edge, or
they would prick like thorns.

Jadwiga.--Or would burn like fire.

Leon.--All-wise Nature gives us some remedy for it. A fire which is
not replenished must die, and the ashes do not burn.

Jadwiga.--We are unwillingly chasing a bird which has flown away.
Enough of it! Have you painted much lately?

Leon.--I do nothing else. I think and I paint. It is true that until
now my thoughts have produced nothing, and I have painted a very
little. But it was not my fault. Better be good enough to tell me what
has caused you to call me here.

Jadwiga.--It will come by itself. In the first place, I should be
justified in so doing by a desire to see a great man. You are now an
artist whose fame is world-wide.

Leon--I would appear to be guilty of conceit, but I honestly think
that I was not the last pawn on the chessboard in the drawing-room,
and that is perhaps the reason why I have been thinking during the
past two years and could not understand why I was thrown aside like a
common pawn.

Jadwiga.--And where is our agreement?

Leon.--It is a story told in a subjective way by a third person.
According to the second clause in our agreement--"sincerity"--I must
add that I am already accustomed to my wheelbarrow.

Jadwiga.--We must not speak about it.

Leon.--I warn you--it will be difficult.

Jadwiga.--It should be more easy for you. You, the elect of art and
the pride of the whole nation, and in the mean while its spoiled
child--you can live with your whole soul in the present and in the
future. From the flowers strewn under one's feet, one can always chose
the most beautiful, or not choose at all, but always tread upon them.

Leon.--If one does not stumble.

Jadwiga.--No! To advance toward immortality.

Leon.--Longing for death while on the road.

Jadwiga.--It is an excess of pessimism for a man who says that he is
accustomed to his wheelbarrow.

Leon.--I wish only to show the other side of the medal. And then you
must remember, madam, that to-day pessimism is the mode. You must not
take my words too seriously. In a drawing-room one strings the words
of a conversation like beads on a thread--it is only play.

Jadwiga.--Let us play then (after a while). Ah! How many changes! I
cannot comprehend. If two years ago some one had told me that to-day
we would sit far apart from each other, and chat as we do, and look at
each other with watchful curiosity, like two people perfectly strange
to each other, I could not have believed. Truly, it is utterly

Leon.--It would not be proper for me to remind you of our agreement.

Jadwiga.--But nevertheless you do remind me. Thank you. My nerves are
guilty for this melancholy turn of the conversation. But I feel it is
not becoming to me. But pray be assured that I shall not again enter
that thorny path, if for no other reason than that of self-love. I,
too, amuse myself as best I can, and I return to my reminiscences only
when wearied. For several days I have been greatly wearied.

Leon.--Is that the reason why you asked me to come here? I am afraid
that I will not be an abundant source of distraction. My disposition
is not very gay, and I am too proud, too honest, and--too costly to
become a plaything. Permit me to leave you.

Jadwiga.--You must forgive me. I did not mean to offend you. Without
going back to the past, I can tell you that pride is your greatest
fault, and if it were not for that pride, many sad things would not
have happened.

Leon.--Without going back to the past, I must answer you that it is
the only sail which remained on my boat. The others are torn by the
wind of life. If it were not for this last sail, I should have sunk
long ago.

Jadwiga.--And I think that it was a rock on which has been wrecked
not only your boat--but no matter! So much the worse for those who
believed in fair weather and a smooth sea. We must at least prevent
ourselves from now being carried where we do not wish to sail.

Leon.--And where the sandy banks are sure--

Jadwiga.--What strange conversation! It seems to me that it is a net,
in which the truth lies at the bottom, struggling in vain to break the
meshes. But perhaps it is better so.

Leon.--Much better. Madam, you have written me that you wished to see
me on an important matter. I am listening.

Jadwiga.--Yes (smiling). It is permitted a society woman to have her
fancies and desires--sometimes inexplicable fancies, and it is not
permitted a gentleman to refuse them. Well, then, I wished to see my
portrait, painted by the great painter Leon. Would you be willing to
paint it?


Jadwiga.--Ah! the lion's forehead frowns, as if my wish were an

Leon.--I think that the fancies of a society woman are indeed
inexplicable, and do not look like jokes at all.

Jadwiga.--This question has two sides! The first is the formal side
and it shows itself thus: Mme. Jadwiga Karlowiecka most earnestly asks
the great painter Leon to make her portrait. That is all! The painter
Leon, who, it is known, paints lots of portraits, has no good reason
for refusing. The painter cannot refuse to make a portrait any more
than a physician can refuse his assistance. There remains the other
side--the past. But we agreed that it is a forbidden subject.

Leon.--Permit me, madam--

Jadwiga (interrupting).--Pray, not a word about the past. (She
laughs.) Ah, my woman's diplomacy knows how to tie a knot and draw
tight the ends of it. How your embarrassment pleases me. But there is
something quite different. Let us suppose that I am a vain person,
full of womanly self-love; full of petty jealousy and envy. Well, you
have painted the portrait of Mme. Zofia and of Helena. I wish to have
mine also. One does not refuse the women such things. Reports of your
fame come to me from all sides. I hear all around me the words: "Our
great painter--our master!" Society lionizes you. God knows how many
breasts sigh for you. Every one can have your works, every one can
approach you, see you, be proud of you. I alone, your playmate, your
old friend, I alone am as though excommunicated.

Leon.--But Mme. Jadwiga--

Jadwiga.--Ah, you have called me by my name. I thank you and beg your
pardon. It is the self-love of a woman, nothing more. It is my nerves.
Do not be frightened. You see how dangerous it is to irritate me.
After one of my moods I am unbearable. I will give you three days to
think the matter over. If you do not wish to come, write me then (she
laughs sadly). Only I warn you, that if you will neither come nor
write me, I will tell every one that you are afraid of me, and so
I will satisfy my self-love. In the mean time, for the sake of my
nerves, you must not tell, me that you refuse my request. I am a
little bit ill--consequently capricious.

Leon.--In three days you shall have my answer (rising), and now I will
say good-bye.

Jadwiga.--Wait a moment. This is not so easy as you think. Truly, I
would think you are afraid of me. It is true that they say I am a
coquette, a flirt. I know they talk very badly about me. Besides we
are good acquaintances, who have not seen each other for two years.
Let us then talk a little. Let me take your hat. Yes, that is it!
Now let us talk. I am sure we may become friends again. As for me at
least--what do you intend to do in the future besides painting my

Leon.--The conversation about me would not last long. Let us
take another more interesting subject. You had better talk about
yourself--about your life, your family.

Jadwiga.--As for my husband, he is, as usual, in Chantilly. My mother
is dead! Poor mama! She was so fond of you--she loved you very much
(after a pause). In fact, as you see, I have grown old and changed

Leon.--At your age the words "I have grown old" are only a daring
challenge thrown by a woman who is not afraid that she would be

Jadwiga.--I am twenty-three years old, so I am not talking about age
in years, but age in morals. I feel that to-day I am not like that
Jadwiga of Kalinowice whom you used to know so well. Good gracious!
when I think to-day of that confidence and faith in life--those
girlish illusions--the illusions of a young person who wished to be
happy and make others happy, that enthusiasm for everything good and
noble! where has all that gone--where has it disappeared? And to think
that I was--well, an honest wild-flower--and to-day--

Leon.--And to-day a society woman.

Jadwiga.--To-day, when I see such a sceptical smile as I saw a few
moments ago on your lips, it seems to me that I am ridiculous--very
often so--even always when I sit at some ideal embroidery and when
I begin to work at some withered flowers on the forgotten, despised
canvas of the past. It is a curious and old fashion from times when
faithfulness was not looked seriously on, and people sang of Filon.

Leon.--At that moment you were speaking according to the latest mode.

Jadwiga.--Shall I weep, or try to tie the broken thread? Well, the
times change. I can assure you that I have some better moments, during
which I laugh heartily at everything (handing him a cigarette). Do you

Leon.--No, madam.

Jadwiga.--I do. It is also a distraction. Sometimes I hunt _par force_
with my husband, I read Zola's novels, I make calls and receive
visits, and every morning I ponder as to the best way to kill time.
Sometimes I succeed--sometimes not. Apropos, you know my husband, do
you not?

Leon.--I used to know him.

Jadwiga.--He is very fond of hunting, but only _par force_. We never
hunt otherwise.

Leon.--Let us be frank. You had better drop that false tone.

Jadwiga.--On the contrary. In our days we need impressions which
stir our nerves. The latest music, like life itself, is full of
dissonances. I do not wish to say that I am unhappy with my husband.
It is true that he is always in Chantilly, and I see him only once in
three months, but it proves, on the other hand, that he has confidence
in me. Is it not true?

Leon.--I do not know, and I do not wish to decide about it. But before
all, I should not know anything about it.

Jadwiga.--It seemed to me that you ought to know. Pray believe that I
would not be as frank with any one else as I am with you. And then, I
do not complain. I try to surround myself with youths who pretend they
are in love with me. There is not a penny-worth of truth in all of
it--they all lie, but the form of the lie is beautiful because they
are all well-bred people. The Count Skorzewski visits me also--you
must have heard of him, I am sure. I recommend him to you as a
model for Adonis. Ha! ha! You do not recognize the wild-flower of

Leon.--No, I do not recognize it.

Jadwiga.--No! But the life flower.

Leon.--As a joke--

Jadwiga.--At which one cannot laugh always. If our century was not
sceptical I should think myself wild, romantic, trying to drown
despair. But the romantic times have passed away, therefore, frankly
speaking, I only try to fill up a great nothing. I also spin out my
ball, although not always with pleasure. Sometimes I seem to myself so
miserable and my life so empty that I rush to my prayer-desk, left by
my mother. I weep, I pray--and then I laugh again at my prayers and
tears. And so it goes on--round and round. Do you know that they
gossip about me?

Leon.--I do not listen to the gossip.

Jadwiga.--How good you are! I will tell you then why they gossip. A
missionary asked a negro what, according to his ideas, constituted
evil? The negro thought a while, and then said: "Evil is if some one
were to steal my wife." "And what is good?" asked the missionary.
"Good is when I steal from some one else." My husband's friends are of
the negro's opinion. Every one of them would like to do a good deed
and steal some one's wife.

Leon.--It depends on the wife.

Jadwiga.--Yes, but every word and every look is a bait. If the fish
passes the bait, the fisherman's self-love is wounded. That is why
they slander me (after a while). You great people--you are filled with
simplicity. Then you think it depends on the wife?

Leon.--Yes, it does.

Jadwiga.--_Morbleu!_ as my husband says, and if the wife is weary?

Leon.--I bid you good-bye.

Jadwiga.--Why? Does what I say offend you?

Leon.--It does more than offend me. It hurts me. Maybe it will
seem strange to you, but here in my breast I am carrying some
flowers--although they are withered--dead for a long time. But they
are dear to me and just now you are trampling on them.

Jadwiga (with an outburst).--Oh, if those flowers had not died!

Leon.--They are in my heart--and there is a tomb. Let us leave the
past alone.

Jadwiga.--Yes, you are right. Leave it alone. What is dead cannot
be resuscitated. I wish to speak calmly. Look at my situation. What
defends me--what helps me--what protects me? I am a young woman, and
it seems not ugly, and therefore no one approaches me with an honest,
simple heart, but with a trap in eyes and mouth. What opposition have
I to make? Weariness? Grief? Emptiness? In life even a man must lean
on something, and I, a feeble woman, I am like a boat without a helm,
without oar and without light toward which to sail. And the heart
longs for happiness. You must understand that a woman must be loved
and must love some one in the world, and if she lacks true love she
seizes the first pretext of it--the first shadow.

Leon (with animation).--Poor thing.

Jadwiga.--Do not smile in that ironical way. Be better, be less severe
with me. I do not even have any one to complain, and that is why I do
not drive away Count Skorzewski. I detest his beauty, I despise his
perverse mind, but I do not drive him away because he is a skilful
actor, and because when I see his acting it awakens in me the echo of
former days. (After a while.) How shall I fill my life? Study? Art?
Even if I loved them, they would not love me for they are not
living things. No, truly now! They showed me no duties, no aims, no
foundations. Everything on which other women live--everything which
constitutes their happiness, sincere sorrow, strength, tears, and
smiles, is barred from me. Morally I have nothing to live on--like a
beggar. I have no one to live for--like an orphan. I am not permitted
to yearn for a noble and quiet life; I may only nurture myself with
grief and defend myself with faded, dead flowers, and remembrances
of former pure, honest, and loving Jadwinia. Ah! again I break my
promise, our agreement. I must beg your pardon.

Leon.--Mme. Jadwiga, both our lives are tangled. When I was most
unhappy, when everything abandoned me, there remained with me the love
of an idea--love of the country.

Jadwiga (thoughtfully).--The love of an idea--country. There is
something great in that. You, by each of your pictures, increase the
glory of the country and make famous its name, but I--what can I do?

Leon.--The one who lives simply, suffers and quietly fulfils his
duties--he also serves his country.

Jadwiga.--What duties? Give them to me. For every-day life one great,
ideal love is not enough for me. I am a woman! I must cling to
something--twine about something like the ivy--otherwise truly, sir, I
should fall to the ground and be trampled upon (with an outburst). If
I could only respect him!

Leon.--But, madam, you should remember to whom you are speaking of
such matters. I have no right to know of your family affairs.

Jadwiga.--No. You have not the right, nor are you obliged nor willing.
Only friendly hearts know affliction--only those who suffer can
sympathize. You--looking into the stars--you pass human misery and do
not turn your head even when that misery shouts to you. It is your

Leon.--My fault!

Jadwiga.--Do not frown, and do not close your mouth (beseechingly). I
do not reproach you for anything. I have forgiven you long ago,
and now I, the giddy woman whom the world always sees merry and
laughing--I am really so miserable that I have even no strength left
for hatred.

Leon.--Madam! Enough! I have listened to your story--do not make me
tell you mine. If you should hear it a still heavier burden would fall
on your shoulders.

Jadwiga.--No, no. We could be happy and we are not. It is the fault
of both. How dreadful to think that we separated on account of almost
nothing--on account of one thoughtless word--and we separated forever
(she covers her face with her hands), without hope.

Leon.--That word was nothing for you, but I remember it still with
brain and heart. I was not then what I am to-day. I was poor, unknown,
and you were my whole future, my aim, my riches.

Jadwiga.--Oh, Mr. Leon, Mr. Leon, what a golden dream it was!

Leon.--But I was proud because I knew that there was in me the divine
spark. I loved you dearly, I trusted you--and nothing disturbed the
security around me. Suddenly one evening Mr. Karlowiecki appeared, and
already the second evening you told me that you gave more than you

Jadwiga.--Mr. Leon!

Leon.--What was your reason for giving that wound to my proud misery?
You could not already have loved that man, but as soon as he appeared
you humiliated me. There are wrongs which a man cannot bear with
dignity--so those words were the last I heard from you.

Jadwiga.--Truly. When I listen to you I must keep a strong hand on
my senses. As soon as the other appeared you gave vent to a jealous
outburst. I said that I gave more than I took, and you thought I spoke
of money and not sentiment? Then you could suspect that I was capable
of throwing my riches in your face--you thought I was capable of that?
That is why he could not forgive! That is why he went away! That is
why he has made his life and mine miserable!

Leon.--It is too late to talk about that. Too late! You knew then
and you know to-day that I could not have understood your words
differently. The other man was of your own world--the world of which
you were so fond that sometimes it seemed to me that you cherished it
more than our love. At times when I so doubted you did not calm me.
You were amused by the thought that you were stretching out to me a
hand of courtly condescension, and I, in an excess of humiliation, I
cast aside that hand. You knew it then, and you know it to-day!

Jadwiga.--I know it to-day, but I did not know then. I swear it by my
mother's memory. But suppose it was even as you say. Why could you not
forgive me? Oh God! truly one might go mad. And there was neither time
nor opportunity to explain. He went away and never returned. What
could I do? When you became angry, when you shut yourself up within
yourself, grief pressed my heart. I am ashamed even to-day to say
this. I looked into your eyes like a dog which wishes to disarm the
anger of his master by humility. In vain! Then I thought, when taking
leave, I will shake hands with him so honestly and cordially that he
will finally understand and will forgive me. While parting my hand
dropped, for you only saluted me from afar. I swallowed my tears and
humiliation. I thought still he will return to-morrow. A day passed,
two days, a week, a month.

Leon.--Then you married.

Jadwiga (passionately).--Yes. Useless tears and time made me think it
was forever--therefore anger grew in my heart--anger and a desire
for vengeance on you and myself. I wished to be lost, for I said to
myself, "That man does not love me, has never loved me." I married
in the same spirit that I should have thrown myself through a
window--from despair--because, as I still believe, you never loved me.

Leon.--Madam, do not blaspheme. Do not provoke me. I never loved you!
Look at the precipice which you have opened before me--count the
sleepless nights during which I tore my breast with grief--count the
days on which I called to you as from a cross--look at this thin face,
at these trembling hands, and repeat once more that I never loved you!
What has become of me? What is life for me without you? To-day my
head is crowned with laurels and here in my breast is emptiness
and exhaustless sorrow, and tears not wept--and in my eyes eternal
darkness. Oh, by the living God, I loved you with every drop of my
blood, with my every thought--and I was not able to love differently.
Having lost you, I lost everything--my star, my strength, faith,
hope, desire for life, and not only happiness, but the capacity for
happiness. Woman, do you understand the dreadful meaning of those
words? I have lost the capacity for happiness. I have not loved you!
Oh, despair! God alone knows for how many nights I have cried to Him:
"Lord, take my talent, take my fame, take my life, but return to me
for only one moment my Jadwiga as she was of old!"

Jadwiga.--Enough! Lord, what is the matter with me? Leon, I love you!

Leon.--Oh, my dearest! (He presses her to his breast. A moment of

Jadwiga.--I have found you. I loved you always. Ah! how miserable
I was without you! With love for you I defended myself from all
temptations. You do not know it, but I used to see you. It caused me
grief and joy. I could not live any longer without you, and I asked
you to come--I did it purposely. If you had not come, something
dreadful would have happened. Now we shall never separate. We shall
never be angry--is it not so? (A moment of silence.)

Leon (as though awakening from slumber).--Madam, you must pardon me--I
mistook the present for the past, and permitted myself to be carried
away by an illusion. Pardon me!

Jadwiga.--Leon, what do you mean?

Leon (earnestly).--I forgot for a moment that you are the wife of

Jadwiga.--Oh, you are always honest and loyal. No, there shall be no
guilty love between us. I know you, my great, my noble Leon. The hand
which I stretch out to you is pure--I swear it to you. You must also
forgive me a moment of forgetfulness. Here I stand before you, and
say to you: I will not be yours until I am free. But I know that my
husband will consent to a divorce. I will leave him all my fortune,
and because I formerly offended your pride--it was my fault--yes, my
own fault--you shall take me poor, in this dress only--will it suit
you? Then I will become your lawful wife. Oh, my God! and I shall be
honest, loving, and loved. I have longed for it with my whole soul.
I cannot think of our future without tears. God is so good! When you
return from your studio at night, you will come neither to an empty
room nor to grief. I will share your every joy, your every sorrow--I
will divide with you the last piece of bread. Truly, I cannot speak
for tears. Look, I am not so bad, but I have been so miserable. I
loved you always. Ah, you bad boy, if it were not for your pride we
should have been happy long ago. Tell me once more that you love
me--that you consent to take me when I shall be free--is it not so,

Leon.--No, madam!

Jadwiga.--Leon, my dearest, wait! Perhaps I have not heard well. For I
cannot comprehend that when I am hanging over a precipice of despair,
when I seize the edge with my hands, you, instead of helping me--you
place your feet on my fingers! No! it is impossible. You are too good
for that! Do not thrust me away. My life now would be still worse. I
have nothing in the world but you, and with you I lost happiness--not
alone happiness but everything in me which is good--which cries for a
quiet and saintly life. For now it would be forever. But you do not
know how happy you yourself will be when you will have forgiven me
and rescued me. You have loved me, have you not? You have said it
yourself. I have heard it. Now I stretch out my hands to you like a
drowning person--rescue me!

Leon.--We must finish this mutual torture. Madam, I am a weak man. I
would give way if--but I wish to spare you--if not for the fact that
my sore and dead heart cannot give you anything but tears and pity.

Jadwiga.--You do not love me!

Leon.--I have no strength for happiness. I did love you. My heart
throbbed for a moment with a recollection as of a dead person. But the
other one is dead. I tell you this, madam, in tears and torture. I do
not love you.


Leon.--Have pity on me and forgive me.

Jadwiga.--You do not love me!

Leon.--What is dead cannot be resuscitated. Farewell.

Jadwiga (after a while).--Very well. If you think you have humiliated
me enough, trampled on me, and are sufficiently avenged, leave me then
(to Leon, who wishes to withdraw). No! no! Remain. Have pity on me.

Leon.--May God have pity on us both. (He goes away.)

Jadwiga.--It is done!

A Servant (entering).--Count Skorzewski!

Jadwiga.--Ha! Show him in! Show him in! Ha! ha! ha!



Apollo and Hermes once met toward evening on the rocks of Pnyx and
were looking on Athens.

The evening was charming; the sun was already rolled from the
Archipelago toward the Ionian Sea and had begun to slowly sink its
radiant head in the water which shone turquoise-like. But the summits
of Hymettus and Pentelicus were yet beaming as if melted gold had been
poured over them, and the evening twilight was in the sky. In its
light the whole Acropolis was drowned. The white walls of Propyleos,
Parthenon, and Erechtheum seemed pink and as light as though the
marble had lost all its weight, or as if they were apparitions of a
dream. The point of the spear of the gigantic Athena Promathos shone
in the twilight like a lighted torch over Attica.

In the space hawks were flying toward their nests in the rocks, to
pass the night.

The people returned in crowds from work in the fields. On the road
to Piraeus, mules and donkeys carried baskets full of olives and
wine-grapes; behind them, in the red cloud of dust, marched herds of
nannygoats, before each herd there was a white-bearded buck; on the
sides, watchdogs; in the rear, shepherds, playing flutes of thin

Among the herds chariots slowly passed, carrying holly barlet, pulled
by slow, heavy oxen; here and there passed a detachment of Hoplites or
heavy armed troops, corseleted in copper, going to guard Piraeus and
Athens during the night.

Beneath, the city was full of animation. Around the big fountain at
Poikile, young girls in white dresses drew water, singing, laughing,
or defending themselves from the boys, who threw over them fetters
made of ivy and wild vine. The others, having already drawn the water,
with the amphorae poised on their shoulders, were turned homeward,
light and graceful as immortal nymphs.

A light breeze blowing from the Attic valley carried to the ears of
the two gods the sounds of laughter, singing, kissing. Apollo, in
whose eyes nothing under the sun was fairer than a woman, turned to
Hermes and said:

"O Maya's son, how beautiful are the Athenian women!"

"And virtuous too, my Radiant," answered Hermes; "they are under
Pallas' tutelage."

The Silver-arrowed god became silent, and listening looked into space.
In the mean while the twilight was slowly quenched, movement gradually
stopped. Scythian slaves shut the gates, and finally all became quiet.
The Ambrosian night threw on the Acropolis, city, and environs, a dark
veil embroidered with stars.

But the dusk did not last long. Soon from the Archipelago appeared the
pale Selene, and began to sail like a silvery boat in the heavenly
space. And then the walls of the Acropolis lighted again, only they
beamed now with a pale-green light, and looked even more like a vision
in a dream.

"One must agree," said Apollo, "that Athena has chosen for herself a
charming home."

"Oh, she is very clever! Who could choose better?" answered Hermes.
"Then Zeus has a fancy for her. If she wishes for anything she has
only to caress his beard and immediately he calls her Tritogenia, dear
daughter; he promises her everything and permits everything."

"Tritogenia bores me sometimes," grumbled Latona's son.

"Yes, I have noticed that she becomes very tedious," answered Hermes.

"Like an old peripatetic; and then she is virtuous to the ridiculous,
like my sister Artemis."

"Or as her servants, the Athenian women."

The Radiant turned to the Argo-robber Mercury: "It is the second time
you mention, as though purposely, the virtue of the Athenian women.
Are they really so virtuous?"

"Fabulously so, O son of Latona!"

"Is it possible!" said Apollo. "Do you think that there is in town one
woman who could resist me?"

"I do think so."

"Me, Apollo?"

"You, my Radiant."

"I, who should bewitch her with poetry and charm her with song and

"You, my Radiant."

"If you were an honest god I would be willing to make a wager with
you. But you, Argo-robber, if you should lose, you would disappear
immediately with your sandals and caduceus."

"No, I will put one hand on the earth and another on the sea and swear
by Hades. Such an oath is kept not only by me, but even by the members
of the City Council in Athens."

"Oh, you exaggerate a little. Very well then! If you lose you must
supply me in Trinachija with a herd of long-horned oxen, which you may
steal where you please, as you did when you were only a boy, stealing
my herds in Perea."

"Understood! And what shall I get if I win?"

"You may choose what you please."

"Listen, my Far-aiming archer," said Hermes. "I will be frank with
you, which occurs with me very seldom. Once, being sent on an errand
by Zeus--I don't remember what errand--I was playing just over your
Trinachija, and I perceived Lampecja, who, together with Featusa,
watches your herds there. Since that time I have no peace. The thought
about her is never absent from my mind. I love her and I sigh for her
day and night. If I win, if in Athens there can be found a virtuous
woman, strong enough to resist you, you shall give me Lampecja--I wish
for nothing more."

The Silver-arrowed god began to shake his head.

"It's astonishing that love can nestle in the heart of a
merchants-patron. I am willing to give you Lampecja--the more
so because she is now quarrelling with Featusa. Speaking _intra
parentheses_, both are in love with me--that is why they are

Great joy lighted up the Argo-robber's eyes.

"Then we lay the bet," said he. "One thing more, I shall choose the
woman for you on whom you are to try your godly strength."

"Provided she is beautiful."

"She will be worthy of you."

"I am sure you know some one already."

"Yes, I do."

"A young girl, married, widow, or divorced?"

"Married, of course. Girl, widow, or divorcée, you could capture by
promise of marriage."

"What is her name?"

"Eryfile. She is a baker's wife."

"A baker's wife!" answered the Radiant, making a grimace, "I don't
like that."

"I can't help it. It's the kind of people I know best. Eryfile's
husband is not at home at present; he went to Megara. His wife is the
prettiest woman who ever walked on Mother-Earth."

"I am very anxious to see her."

"One condition more, my Silver-arrowed, you must promise that you will
use only means worthy of you, and that you will not act as would
act such a ruffian as Ares, for instance, or even, speaking between
ourselves, as acts our common father, the Cloud-gathering Zeus."

"For whom do you take me?" asked Apollo.

"Then all conditions are understood, and I can show you Eryfile."

Both gods were immediately carried through the air from Pnyx, and in
a few moments they were over a house situated not far from Stoa. The
Argo-robber raised the whole roof with his powerful hand as easily as
a woman cooking a dinner raises a cover from a saucepan, and pointing
to a woman sitting in a store, closed from the street by a copper
gate, said:


Apollo looked and was astonished.

Never Attica--never the whole of Greece, produced a lovelier flower
than was this woman. She sat by a table on which was a lighted
lamp, and was writing something on marble tables. Her long drooping
eyelashes threw a shadow on her cheeks, but from time to time she
raised her head and her eyes, as though she were trying to remember
what she had to write, and then one could see her beautiful eyes, so
blue that compared with them the turquoise depths of the Archipelago
would look pale and faded. Her face was white as the sea-foam, pink as
the dawn, with purplish Syrian lips and waves of golden hair. She was
beautiful, the most beautiful being on earth--beautiful as the dawn,
as a flower, as light, as song! This was Eryfile.

When she dropped her eyes she appeared quiet and sweet; when she
lifted them, inspired. The Radiant's divine knees began to tremble;
suddenly he leaned his head on Hermes' shoulder, and whispered:

"Hermes, I love her! This one or none!"

Hermes smiled ironically, and would have rubbed his hands for joy
under cover of his robe if he had not held in his right hand the

In the mean while the golden-haired woman took a new tablet and
began to write on it. Her divine lips were disclosed and her voice
whispered; it was like the sound of Apollo's lyre.

"The member of the Areopagus Melanocles for the bread for two months,
forty drachmas and four obols; let us write in round numbers forty-six
drachmas. By Athena! let us write fifty; my husband will be satisfied!
Ah, that Melanocles! If you were not in a position to bother us about
false weight, I never would give you credit. But we must keep peace
with that locust."

Apollo did not listen to the words. He was intoxicated with the
woman's voice, the charm of her figure, and whispered:

"This one or none!"

The golden-haired woman spoke again, writing further:

"Alcibiades, for cakes on honey from Hymettus for Hetera Chrysalis,
three minae. He never verifies bills, and then he once gave me in Stoa
a slap on the shoulder--we will write four minae. He is stupid; let
him pay for it. And then that Chrysalis! She must feed with cakes her
carp in the pond, or perhaps Alcibiades makes her fat purposely, in
order to sell her afterwards to a Phoenician merchant for an ivory
ring for his harness."

Again Apollo paid no attention to the words--he was enchanted with the
voice alone and whispered to Hermes:

"This one or none!"

But Maya's son suddenly covered the house, the apparition disappeared,
and it seemed to the Radiant Apollo that with it disappeared the
stars, that the moon became black, and the whole world was covered
with the darkness of Chimera.

"When shall we decide the wager?" asked Hermes.

"Immediately. To-day!"

"During her husband's absence she sleeps in the store. You can stand
in the street before the door. If she raises the curtain and opens the
gate, I have lost my wager."

"You have lost it already!" exclaimed the Far-darting Apollo.

The summer lightning does not pass from the East to the West as
quickly as he rushed over the salt waves of the Archipelago. There he
asked Amphitrite for an empty turtle-shell, put around it the rays of
the sun, and returned to Athens with a ready formiga.

In the city everything was already quiet. The lights were out, and
only the houses and temples shone white in the light of the moon,
which had risen high in the sky.

The store was dark, and in it, behind a gate and a curtain, the
beautiful Eryfile was asleep. Apollo the Radiant began to touch the
strings of his lyre. Wishing to awake softly his beloved, he played at
first as gently as swarms of mosquitoes singing on a summer evening
on Illis. But the song became gradually stronger like a brook in the
mountain after a rain; then more powerful, sweeter, more intoxicating,
and it filled the air voluptuously.

The secret Athena's bird flew softly from the Acropolis and sat
motionless on the nearest column.

Suddenly a bare arm, worthy of Phidias or Praxiteles, whiter than
Pantelican marble, drew aside the curtain. The Radiant's heart stopped
beating with emotion. And then Eryfile's voice resounded:

"Ha! You booby, why do you wander about and make a noise during the
night? I have been working all day, and now they won't let me sleep!"

"Eryfile! Eryfile!" exclaimed Silver-arrowed. And he began to sing:

  "From lofty peaks of Parnas--where there ring
    In all the glory of light's brilliant rays
  The grand sweet songs which inspired muses sing
    To me, by turns, in rapture and praise--
  I, worshiped god--I fly, fly to thee,
    Eryfile! And on thy bosom white
  I shall rest, and the Eternity will be
    A moment to me--the God of Light!"

"By the holy flour for sacrifices," exclaimed the baker's wife,
"that street boy sings and makes love to me. Will you go home, you

The Radiant, wishing to pursuade her that he was not a common mortal,
threw so much light from his person, that all the earth was lighted.
But Eryfile, seeing this, exclaimed:

"That scurrilous fellow has hidden a lantern under his robe, and he
tries to make me believe that he is a god. O daughter of mighty Dios!
they press us with taxes, but there is no Scythian guard to protect us
from such stupid fellows!"

Apollo, who did not wish yet to acknowledge defeat, sang further:

  "Ah, open thine arms--rounded, gleaming, white--
    To thee eternal glory I will give.
  Over goddess of earth, fair and bright,
    Thy name above immortal shall live.
  I kiss the dainty bloom of thy cheek,
    To thy lustrous eyes the love-light I bring,
  From the masses of thy silken hair I speak,
    To thy beauty, peerless one, I sing.
  White pearls are thy ruby lips between--
    With might of godly words I thee endow;
  An eloquence for which a Grecian queen
    Would gladly give the crown from her brow.
            Ah! Open, open thine arms!

  "The azure from the sea I will take,
    Twilight its wealth of purple shall give too;
  Twinkling stars shall add the sparks which they make,
   And flowers shall yield their perfume and dew.
  By fairy touch, light as a caress,
    Made from all this material so bright,
  My beloved rainbow, in Chipryd's rich dress
    Thou shalt be clothed by the God of Light."

And the voice of the God of Light was so beautiful that it performed a
miracle, for, behold! in the ambrosian night the gold spear standing
on the Acropolis of Athens trembled, and the marble head of the
gigantic statue turned toward the Acropolis in order to hear better.
Heaven and Earth listened to it; the sea stopped roaring and lay
peacefully near the shore; even the pale Selene stopped her night
wandering in the sky and stood motionless over Athens.

And when Apollo had finished, a light wind arose and carried the song
throughout the whole of Greece, and wherever a child in the cradle
heard only a tone of it, that child became a poet.

But before Latona's son had finished his divine singing, the angry
Eryfile began to scream:

"What an ass! He tries to bribe me with flowers and dew; do you think
that you are privileged because my husband is not at home? What a pity
that our servants are not at hand; I would give you a good lesson! But
wait; I will teach you to wander during the night with songs!"

So saying she seized a pot of dough, and, throwing it through the
gate, splashed it over the face, neck, robe, and lyre of the Radiant.
Apollo groaned, and, covering his inspired head with a corner of his
wet robe, he departed in shame and wrath.

Hermes, waiting for him, laughed, turned somersaults, and twirled his
caduceus. But when the sorrowful son of Latona approached him, the
foxy patron of merchants simulated compassion and said:

"I am sorry you have lost, O puissant archer!"

"Go away, you rascal!" answered the angry Apollo.

"I shall go when you give me Lampecja."

"May Cerberus bite your calves. I shall not give you Lampecja, and I
tell you to go away, or I will twist your neck."

The Argo-robber knew that he must not joke when Apollo was angry, so
he stood aside cautiously and said:

"If you wish to cheat me, then in the future be Hermes and I will be
Apollo. I know that you are above me in power, and that you can harm
me, but happily there is some one who is stronger than you and he will
judge us. Radiant, I call you to the judgment of Chronid! Come with

Apollo feared the name of Chronid. He did not care to refuse, and they

In the mean time day began to break. The Attic came out from
the shadows. Pink-fingered dawn had arisen in the sky from the
Archipelago. Zeus passed the night on the summit of Ida, whether
he slept or not, and what he did there no one knew, because,
Fog-carrying, he wrapped himself in such a thick cloud that even Hera
could not see through it. Hermes trembled a little on approaching the
god of gods and of people.

"I am right," he was thinking, "but if Zeus is aroused in a bad humor,
and if, before hearing us, he should take us each by a leg and throw
us some three hundred Athenian stadia, it would be very bad. He has
some consideration for Apollo, but he would treat me without ceremony,
although I am his son too."

But Maya's son feared in vain. Chronid waited joyfully on the earth,
for he had passed a pleasant night, and was gladsomely gazing on the
earthly circle. The Earth, happy beneath the weight of the gods' and
people's father, put forth beneath his feet green grass and young
hyacinths, and he, leaning on it, caressed the curling flowers with
his hand, and was happy in his proud heart.

Seeing this, Maya's son grew quiet, and having saluted the generator,
boldly accused the Radiant.

When he had finished, Zeus was silent a while, and then said:

"Radiant, is it true?"

"It is true, father Chronid," answered Apollo, "but if after the shame
you will order me to pay the bet, I shall descend to Hades and light
the shades."

Zeus became silent and thoughtful.

"Then this woman," said he finally, "remained deaf to your music, to
your songs, and she repudiated you with disdain?"

"She poured on my head a pot of dough, O Thunderer!"

Zeus frowned, and at his frown Ida trembled, pieces of rock began to
roll with a great noise toward the sea, and the trees bent like ears
of wheat.

Both gods awaited with beating hearts his decision.

"Hermes," said Zeus, "you may cheat the people as much as you
like--the people like to be cheated. But leave the gods alone, for if
I become angry I will throw you into the ether, then you will sink so
deep into the depths of the ocean that even my brother Poseidon will
not be able to dig you out with his trident."

Divine fear seized Hermes by his smooth knees; Zeus spoke further,
with stronger voice:

"A virtuous woman, especially if she loves another man, can resist
Apollo. But surely and always a stupid woman will resist him.

"Eryfile is stupid, not virtuous; that's the reason she resisted.
Therefore you cheated the Radiant, and you shall not have Lampecja.
Now go in peace."

The gods departed.

Zeus remained in his joyful glory. For a while he looked after Apollo,

"Oh, yes! A stupid woman is able to resist him."

After that, as he had not slept well the previous night, he called
Sleep, who, sitting on a tree in the form of a hawk, was awaiting the
orders of the Father of gods and people.



_A Drama in Five Acts_.


  Prince Starogrodzki.
  Stella, his daughter.
  George Pretwic, Stella's fiancé.
  Karol Count Drahomir, Pretwic's friend.
  Countess Miliszewska.
  Jan Count Miliszewski.
  Anton Zuk, secretary of the county.
  Dr. Jozwowicz.
  Mrs. Czeska.
  Mr. Podczaski.


The stage represents a drawing-room with the principal door leading to
the garden. There are also side doors to the other rooms.


Princess Stella. Mrs. Czeska.

Czeska.--Why do you tell me this only now? Really, my dear Stella, I
should be angry with you. I live only a mile from here; I was your
teacher before you were put into the hands of English and French
governesses. I see you almost every day. I love my darling with all my
soul, and still you did not tell me that for several weeks you have
been engaged. At least do not torture me any longer, but tell me, who
is he?

Stella.--You must guess, my dear mother.

Czeska.--As long as you call me mother, you must not make me wait.

Stella.--But I wish you to guess and tell me. Naturally it is he and
not another. Believe me, it will flatter and please me.

Czeska.--Count Drahomir, then.


Czeska.--You are blushing. It is true. He has not been here for a long
time, but how sympathetic, how gay he is. Well, my old eyes would be
gladdened by seeing you both together. I should at once think what a
splendid couple. Perhaps there will be something in it.

Stella.--There will be nothing in it, because Count Drahomir, although
very sympathetic, is not my fiancé. I am betrothed to Mr. Pretwic.

Czeska.--Mr. George Pretwic?

Stella.--Yes. Are you surprised?

Czeska.--No, my dear child. May God bless you. Why should I be
surprised? But I am so fond of Count Drahomir, so I thought it was he.
Mr. George Pretwic!--Oh, I am not surprised at all that he should
love you. But it came a little too soon. How long have you known each
other? Living at my Berwinek I do not know anything that goes on in
the neighborhood.

Stella.--Since three months. My fiancé has inherited an estate in this
neighborhood from the Jazlowieckis, and came, as you know, from far
off. He was a near relation of the Jazlowieckis, and he himself comes
of a very good family. Dear madam, have you not heard of the Pretwics?

Czeska.--Nothing at all, my dear Stella. What do I care for heraldry!

Stella.--In former times, centuries ago, the Pretwics were related to
our family. It is a very good family. Otherwise papa would not have
consented. Well then, Mr. Pretwic came here, took possession of the
Jazlowieckis estate, became acquainted with us, and--

Czeska.--And fell in love with you. I should have done the same if I
were in his place. It gives him more value in my eyes.

Stella.--Has he needed it?

Czeska.--No, my little kitten--rest easy. You know I am laughed at for
seeing everything in a rosy hue. He belongs to a good family, he is
young, rich, good-looking, well-bred, but--

Stella.--But what?

Czeska.--A bird must have sung it, because I cannot remember who told
me that he is a little bit like a storm.

Stella.--Yes, his life has been stormy, but he was not broken by it.

Czeska.--So much the better. Listen! Such people are the best--they
are true men. The more I think of it, the more sincerely I
congratulate you.

Stella.--Thank you. I am glad I spoke to you frankly. The fact is that
I am very lonesome here: papa is always ailing and our doctor has been
away for three months.

Czeska.--Let that doctor of yours alone.

Stella.--You never liked him.

Czeska.--You know that I am not easily prejudiced against any one, but
I do not like him.

Stella.--And do you know that he has been offered a professorship
at the university, and that he is anxious to be elected a member of
parliament? Mother, you are really unjust. You know that he sacrificed
himself for us.

He is famous, rich, and a great student, but notwithstanding all that
he remains with us when the whole world is open to him. I would surely
have asked his advice.

Czeska.--Love is not an illness--but no matter about him. May God help
him! You had better tell me, dear kitten--are you very much in love?

Stella.--Do you not see how quickly everything has been done? It is
true that Countess Miliszewska came here with her son. I know it was
a question about me, and I feared, although in vain, that papa might
have the same idea.

Czeska.--You have not answered my question.

Stella.--Because it is a hard matter to speak about. Mother, Mr.
Pretwic's life is full of heroic deeds, sacrifices, and dangers. Once
he was in great peril, and he owes his life to Count Drahomir. But how
dearly he loves him for it. Well, my fiancé bears the marks of distant
deserts, long solitudes, and deep sufferings. But when he begins to
tell me of his life, it seems that I truly love that stalwart man. If
you only knew how timidly, and at the same time how earnestly he told
me of his love, and then he added that he knows his hands are too

Czeska.--Not too rough--for they are honest. After what you have told
me, I am in his favor with all my soul.

Stella.--But in spite of all that, sometimes I feel very unhappy.

Czeska.--What is the matter? Why?

Stella.--Because sometimes we cannot understand each other. There are
two kinds of love--one is strong as the rocks, and the other is like a
brook in which one can see one's self. When I look at George's love,
I see its might, but my soul is not reflected in it like a face in a
limpid brook. I love him, it is true, but sometimes it seems to me
that I could love still more--that all my heart is not in that love,
and then I am unhappy.

Czeska.--But I cannot understand that. I take life simply. I love, or
I do not love. Well Stella, the world is so cleverly constructed, and
God is so good that there is nothing more easy than to be happy. But
one must not make a tangle of God's affairs. Be calm. You are very
much in love indeed. No matter!

Stella.--That confidence in the future is exactly what I need--some of
your optimism. I knew that you would frown and say: No matter! I am
now more happy. Only I am afraid of our doctor. Well (looking through
the window), our gentlemen are coming. Mr. Pretwic and Count Drahomir.

Czeska (looking through the window.)--Your future husband is looking
very well, but so is Count Drahomir. Since when is he with Mr.

Stella (looking through the window).--For the past two weeks. Mr.
Pretwic has invited him. They are coming.

Czeska.--And your little heart is throbbing--

Stella.--Do not tease me again.


Mrs. Czeska. Stella. George Pretwic. Count Drahomir.--The count has
his left arm in a sling.--A servant.

Servant (opening the door).--The princess is in the drawing-room.

Stella.--How late you are to-day!

George.--It is true. The sun is already setting. But we could not come
earlier. Do you not know that there has been a fire in the neighboring
village? We went there.

Czeska.--We have heard of it. It seems that several houses were

George.--The fire began in the morning, and it was extinguished only
now. Some twenty families are without a roof and bread. We are also
late because Karol had an accident.

Stella (with animation).--It is true. Your arm is in a sling!

Drahomir.--Oh, it is a mere trifle. If there were no more serious
wounds in the world, courage would be sold in all the markets. Only a
slight scratch--

Stella.--Mr. Pretwic, how did it happen?

George.--When it happened I was at the other end of the village, and I
could not see anything on account of the smoke. I was only told that
Karol had jumped into a burning house.

Stella.--Oh, Lord!

Drahomir (laughing).--I see that my deed gains with distance.

Czeska.--You must tell us about it yourself.

Drahomir.--They told me that there was a woman in a house of which
the roof had begun to burn. Thinking that this salamander who was not
afraid of fire was some enchanted beauty, I entered the house out of
pure curiosity. It was quite dark owing to the smoke. I looked and
saw that I had no luck, because the salamander was only an old Jewish
woman packing some feathers in a bag. Amidst the cloud of down she
looked like anything you please but an enchantress. I shouted that
there was a fire, and she shouted too, evidently taking me for a
thief--so we both screamed. Finally I seized hold of my salamander,
fainting with fear, and carried her out, not even through a window,
but through the door.

George.--But you omitted to say that the roof fell in and that a spar
struck your hand.

Drahomir.--True--and I destroyed the dam of my modesty, and will add
that one of the selectmen of the village made a speech in my honor. It
seems to me that he made some mention of a monument which they would
erect for me. But pray believe that the fire was quenched by George
and his people. I think they ought to erect two monuments.

Czeska.--I know that you are worthy of each other.

Stella.--Thank God that you have not met with some more serious

Drahomir.--I have met with something very pleasant--your sympathy.

Czeska--You have mine also--as for Mr. Pretwic, I have a bone to pick
with him.

George--Why, dear madam?

Czeska.--Because you are a bad boy. (To Stella and Drahomir.) You had
better go to the Prince, and let us talk for a while.

Stella.--Mother, I see you wish to flirt with Mr. Pretwic.

Czeska.--Be quiet, you giddy thing. May I not compete with you? But
you must remember, you Mayflower, that before every autumn there is a
spring. Well, be off!

Stella (to Drahomir).--Let us go; Papa is in the garden and I am
afraid that he is feeling worse. What a pity it is that the doctor is
not here.


Mrs. Czeska, George, then Stella.

Czeska.--I should scold you, as I have my dear girl, for keeping the
secret. But she has already told me everything, so I only say, may God
bless you both.

George (kissing her hand).--Thank you, madam.

Czeska.--I have reared that child. I was ten years with her, so I know
what a treasure you take, sir. You have said that your hands are too
rough. I have answered her--not too rough, for they are honest. But
Stella is a very delicate flower. She must be loved much, and have
good care taken of her. But you will be able to do it--will you not?

George.--What can I tell you? As far as it is in human power to make
happy that dearest to me girl, so far I wish to assure her happiness
with me.

Czeska.--With all my soul, I say: God bless you!

George.--The Princess Stella loves you like her own mother, so I will
be as frank with you as with a mother. My life has been a very
hard one. There was a moment when my life was suspended by one
thread--Karol rescued me then, and for that I love him as a brother;
and then--

Czeska.--Stella told me. You lived far from here?

George.--I was in the empty steppe, half wild myself, among strangers,
therefore very sad and longing for the country. Sometimes there was
not a living soul around me.

Czeska.--God was over the stars.

George.--That is quite different. But a heart thrown on earth must
love some one. Therefore, with all this capacity for love, I prayed to
God that he permit me to love some one. He has granted my prayer, and
has given her to me. Do you understand me now?

Czeska.--Yes, I do understand you!

George.--How quickly everything has changed. I inherited here an
estate and am able to settle--then I met the princess, and now I love
her--she is everything in this world to me.

Czeska.--My dear Mr. Pretwic, you are worthy of Stella and she will be
happy with you. My dear Stelunia--

Stella (appearing in the doorway leading to the garden. She claps her
hands).--What good news! The doctor is coming. He is already in the
village. Papa will at once be more quiet and is in better humor.

Czeska.--You must not rush. She is already tired. Where is the prince?

Stella.--In the garden. He wishes you to come here.

George.--We will go.

Stella (steps forward--then stops).--But you must not tell the doctor
anything of our affair. I wish to tell him first. I have asked papa
also to keep the secret. (They go out.)


Jozwowicz (enters through the principal door).--Jan, carry my trunk
up-stairs and have the package I left in the antechamber sent at once
to Mr. Anton Zuk, the secretary of the county.

Servant (bows).--Very well, doctor.

Jozwowicz (advances).--At last (servant goes out). After three months
of absence, how quiet this house is always! In a moment I will greet
them as a future member of the parliament. I have thrown six years of
hard work, sleepless nights, fame, and learning into the chasm which
separates us--and now we shall see! (He goes toward the door leading
to the garden.) They are coming--she has not changed at all.


(Through the door enter Stella, Mrs. Czeska, George, followed by
Drahomir, arm and arm with the Prince Starogrodzki.)

Stella.--Here is our doctor! Our dear doctor! How do you do? We were
looking for you!

Czeska (bows ceremoniously).--Especially the prince.

Jozwowicz (kissing Stella's hand).--Good evening, princess. I have
also been anxious to return. I have come to stay for a longer time--to
rest. Ah, the prince! How is Your Highness's health?

Prince (shaking hands).--Dear boy. I am not well. You did well to
come. You must see at once what is the matter with me.

Jozwowicz.--But now Your Highness will introduce me to these

Prince.--It is true. Doctor Jozwowicz, the minister of my interior
affairs--I said it well, did I not? For you do look after my health.
Count Karol Drahomir.

Drahomir.--Your name is familiar to me, therefore, strictly speaking,
I alone ought to introduce myself.


Prince (introducing).--Mr. George Pretwic, our neighbor, and--(Stella
makes a sign) and--I wish to say--

George.--If I am not mistaken, your schoolmate.

Doctor.--I did not wish to be the first to recollect.

George.--I am glad to see you. It is quite a long time since then, but
we were good comrades. Truly, I am very glad, especially after what I
have heard here about you.

Drahomir.--You are the good spirit of this house.

Stella.--Oh, yes!

Prince.--Let me tell you my opinion of him.

George.--How often the best student, Jozwowicz, helped Pretwic with
his exercises.

Doctor.--You have a good memory, sir.

George.--Very good, indeed, for then we did not call each other "sir."
Once more, Stanislaw, I welcome you.

Doctor.--And I return the welcome.

George--But do I not remember that after you went through college you
studied law?

Doctor.--And afterward I became a doctor of medicine.

Prince.--Be seated. Jan, bring the lights.

Stella.--How charming that you are acquainted!

Doctor.--The school-bench, like misery, unites people. But then,
social standing separates them. George's future was assured. I was
obliged to search for mine.

Prince.--He has searched also, and found adventures.

Drahomir.--In two parts of the world.

Czeska.--That is splendid.

Doctor.--Well, he followed his instinct. Even in school he broke the
horses, went shooting and fenced.

George.--Better than I studied.

Doctor (laughing).--Yes--we used to call him the general, because he
commanded us in our student fights.

Drahomir.--George, I recognized you there.

Czeska.--But now, I think, he will stop fighting.

Stella.--Who knows?

George.--I am sure of it.

Doctor.--As for me, I was his worst soldier. I never was fond of
playing that way.

Prince.--Because those are the distractions of the nobility and not of
a doctor.

Doctor.--We begin to quarrel already. You are all proud of the fact
that your ancestors, the knights, killed so many people. But if the
prince knew how many people I have killed with my prescriptions! I can
guarantee you that none of Your Highness's ancestors can be proud of
such great number.

Drahomir.--Bravo. Very good!

Prince.--And he is my doctor!

Stella.--Papa! The doctor is joking.

Prince.--Thanks for such jokes. But it is sure that the world is now

Doctor.--Your Highness, we will live a hundred years more. (To
George.) Come, tell me, what became of you? (They go out.)

Prince.--You would not believe how unhappy I am because I cannot get
along with that man. He is the son of a blacksmith from Stanislawow.
I sent him to school because I wished to make an overseer of him. But
afterwards he went to study at the University.

Drahomir.--He is twice a doctor--he is an intelligent man. One can see
that by merely looking at him.

Stella.--Very much so.

Czeska.--So intelligent that I am afraid of him.

Drahomir.--But the prince must be satisfied.

Prince.--Satisfied, satisfied! He has lost his common sense. He became
a democrat--a _sans culotte_. But he is a good doctor, and I am sick.
I have some stomach trouble. (To Drahomir.) Have you heard of it?

Drahomir.--The prince complained already some time ago.

Czeska.--For twenty years.

Prince.--Sorrow and public service have ruined my health.

Czeska.--But Your Highness is healthy.

Prince (angrily).--I tell you that I am sick. Stella, I am sick--am I

Stella.--But now you will feel better.

Prince.--Because he alone keeps me alive. Stella would have died also
with heart trouble if it had not been for him.

Drahomir.--If that is so, he is a very precious man.

Stella.--We owe him eternal gratitude.

Prince (looking at George).--He will also be necessary to Pretwic.
What, Stella, will he not?

Stella (laughing).--Papa, how can I know that?

Drahomir.--Truly, I sometimes envy those stalwart men. During the
battle they strengthen in themselves the force which lessens and
disappears in us, because nothing nourishes it. Perhaps we are also
made of noble metal, but we are eaten up with rust while they are
hardened in the battle of life. It is a sad necessity.

Czeska.--How about Mr. Pretwic?

Drahomir.--George endured much, it is true, and one feels this
although it is difficult to describe it. Look at those two men. When
the wind blows George resists like a century-old tree, and men like
the doctor subdue it and order it to propel his boat. There is in that
some greater capacity for life, therefore the result is more easy to
be foreseen. The tree is older, and although still strong, the more it
is bitten by the storms, the sooner it will die.

Prince.--I have said many times that we die like old trees. Some other
thicket grows, but it is composed only of bushes.

Stella.--The one who is good has the right to live--we must not doubt
about ourselves.

Drahomir.--I do not doubt, even for the reason that the poet says:
"Saintly is the one who knows how to be a friend" (bows to Stella)
"with saints."

Stella.--If he has not secured their friendship by flattery.

Drahomir.--But I must be permitted not to envy the doctor anything.

Stella.--The friendship is not exclusive, although I look upon the
doctor as a brother.

Prince.--Stella, what are you talking about? He is your brother as I
am a republican. I cannot suffer him, but I cannot get along without

Czeska.--Prince, you are joking--

Drahomir (smiling).--Why should you hate him?

Prince.--Why? Have I not told you? He does with us what he pleases. He
does as he likes in the house, he does not believe anything, and he is
ambitious as the deuce. He is already a professor in the University,
and now he wishes to be a member of parliament. Do you hear?--he will
be a member of parliament! But I would not be a Starogrodzki if I had
permitted it. (Aloud.) Jozwowicz!

Doctor (he is near a window).--Your Highness, what do you order?

Prince.--Is it true that you are trying to become a member of

Doctor.--At your service, Your Highness?

Prince.--Mrs. Czeska. Have you heard--the world is upside down,

Doctor.--What is it, Your Highness?

Prince.--And perhaps you will also become a minister.

Doctor.--It may be.

Prince.--Did you hear? And do you think that I will call you "Your

Doctor.--It would be proper.

Prince.--Jozwowicz, do you wish to give me a stroke of apoplexy?

Doctor.--Be calm, Your Highness. My Excellency will always take care
of your Grace's bile.

Prince.--It is true. The irritation hurts me. What, Jozwowicz--does it
hurt me?

Doctor.--Yes, it excites the bile, but it gives you an appetite. (He
approaches with George.)

Stella.--What were you talking about?

Doctor.--I have been listening to George. Horrible! Dreadful! George
made a mistake by coming into the world two hundred years too late.
Bayards are not appreciated nowadays.

Czeska.--Providence is above all.

Drahomir.--I believe it also.

Doctor.--Were I a mathematician, without contradicting you I would say
that, as in many cases we do not know what X equals, we must take care
of ourselves.

Prince.--What are you saying?

Stella.--Doctor, pray do not talk so sceptically, or there will be a
war--not with papa, but with me.

Doctor.--My scepticism is ended where your words begin, therefore I

Stella.--How gallant--the member of parliament.


The same Servant.

Servant.--Tea is served.

George.--I must bid you good-bye.

Stella.--Why, why are you going so early to-night?

Doctor (aside).--My old schoolmate is at home here.

George.--You must excuse me. I am very happy with you, but to-night I
must be going home. I will leave Drahomir--he will replace me.

Stella.--To be angry with you would be to make you conceited. But you
must tell me why you are going.

George.--The people who have lost their homes by fire are in my house.
I must give some orders and provide for their necessities.

Czeska (aside).--He is sacrificing pleasure to duty. (Aloud.) Stella!

Stella.--What is it?

Czeska.--To-morrow we must make some collections for them, and provide
them with clothing.

Doctor.--I will go with you, ladies. It will be the first case in
which misery did not search for the doctor, but the doctor searched
for misery.

Czeska.--Very clever.

Prince (rapping with the stick).--Pretwic!

George.--Your Highness, what do you order?

Prince.--You say that this rabble is very poor?

George.--Very poor, indeed.

Prince.--You say that they have nothing to eat?

George.--Almost nothing, my prince.

Prince.--God punishes them for voting for such a man (he points to
Jozwowicz) as that one.

Doctor (bows).--They have not elected me yet.


Prince.--What did I want to say? Aha! Pretwic!

George.--I listen to you, my prince.

Prince.--You said that they were starving?

George.--I said--almost.

Prince.--Very well, then. Go to my cashier, Horkiewicz, and tell him
to give that rabble a thousand florins. (He raps with the stick.) They
must know that I will not permit any one to be hungry.

Stella--Dear father!

Drahomir.--I knew it would end that way.

Prince.--Yes, Mr. Jozwowicz! _Noblesse oblige!_ Do you understand,
your Excellency, Mr. Jozwowicz?

Doctor.--I understand, Your Highness.

Prince (giving his arm to Mrs. Czeska).--And now let us take some tea.
(George takes leave and goes out.)

Doctor.--I must also be going. I am tired and I have some letters to

Prince.--Upon my honor, one might think that he was already a
minister. But come to see us--I cannot sleep without you.

Doctor.--I will be at the service of Your Highness.

Prince (muttering).--As soon as this Robespièrre arrived, I
immediately felt better.

Stella.--Doctor, wait a moment. I do not take any tea. I will only put
papa in his place, and then I will be back immediately. I must have a
talk with you.


Jozwowicz alone--then Stella.

Doctor.--What are these people doing here, and what does she wish to
tell me? Is it possible--But no, it is impossible. I am uneasy, but in
a moment everything will be cleared up. What an ass I am! She simply
wishes to talk to me about the prince's health. It is this moonlight
that makes me so dreamy--I ought to have a guitar.

Stella (entering).--Mr. Jozwowicz?

Doctor.--I am here, princess.

Stella.--I did my best not to make you wait too long. Let us be seated
and have a talk, as formerly, when I was small and not well and you
took care of my health. I remember sometimes I used to fall asleep,
and you carried me in your arms to my room.

Doctor.--The darling of every one in the house was very weak then.

Stella.--And to-day, if she is well, it is thanks to you. If she has
any knowledge, it is also thanks to you. I am a plant of which you
have taken good care.

Doctor.--And my greatest pride. There were few calm, genial moments in
my life--and peace I found only in that house.

Stella.--You were always good, and for that reason I look upon you as
an older brother.

Doctor.--Your words form the only smile in my life. I not only respect
you, but I also love you dearly--like a sister, like my own child.

Stella.--Thank you. I have not the same confidence in any one else's
judgment and honesty as I have in yours, so I wished to speak to you
about an important matter. I hope even that what I am going to tell
you will please you as much as it pleases me. Is it true that you are
going to become a member of parliament?

Doctor (with uneasiness).--No, it is only probable. But speak of what
concerns you.

Stella.--Well, then--ah, Lord! But you will not leave papa, will you?

Doctor (breathing heavily).--Oh, you wish to speak of the prince's

Stella.--No, I know that papa is getting better. I did not expect that
it would be difficult--I am afraid of the severe opinion that you have
of people.

Doctor (with simulated ease).--Pray, do not torture my curiosity.

Stella.--Then I will close my eyes and tell you, although it is not
easy for any young girl. You know Mr. George Pretwic well, do you not?

Doctor (uneasily).--I know him.

Stella.--How do you like him? He is my fiancé.

Doctor (rising).--Your fiancé?

Stella.--Good gracious!--then you do not approve of my choice? (A
moment of silence.)

Doctor.--Only one moment. Your choice, princess, if it is of your
heart and will, must be good--only--it was unexpected news to me;
therefore, perhaps, I received it a little too seriously. But I could
not hear it with indifference owing to the affection I have for--your
family. And then, my opinion does not amount to anything in such a
matter. Princess, I congratulate you and wish you all happiness.

Stella.--Thank you. Now I shall be more easy.

Doctor.--You must return to your father. Your news has been so sudden
that it has shocked me a little. I must collect my wits--I must
familiarize myself with the thought. But in any event, I congratulate

Stella.--Good night. (She stops in the door, looks at the Doctor and
goes in.)


Jozwowicz (alone).--Too late!


       *       *       *       *       *


The stage represents the same drawing-room.


Jozwowicz. Anton.

Doctor.--Anton, come here. We can talk quietly, for they are preparing
my room. What news from the city?

Anton.--Good news. In an hour or so a delegation of the voters will be
here. You must say something to them--you understand? Something about
education--public roads, heavy taxes. You know what to say better than
I do.

Doctor.--I know, I know; and how do they like my platform?

Anton.--You have made a great hit. I congratulate you. It is written
with scientific accuracy. The papers of the Conservative party have
gone mad with wrath.

Doctor.--Very good. What more?

Anton.--Three days ago your election was doubtful in the suburbs. I
learned about it, however--gathered the electors and made a speech.
"Citizens," I said, in the end, "I know only one remedy for all your
misery--it is called Jozwowicz. Long live Progress!" I also attacked
the Conservative party.

Doctor.--Anton, you are a great boy. Then there is a hope of victory?

Anton.--Almost a surety. And then, even if we do not win now, the
future is open to us. And do you know why? Because--leaving out the
details of the election, you and I, while talking of our business
affairs, need not laugh at each other, like Roman augurs. Progress and
truth are on our side, and every day makes a new breach in the old
wall. We are only aiding the centuries and we must conquer. I am
talking calmly: Our people, our electors are merely sheep, but we wish
to make men of them, and therein lies our strength. As for me, if I
were not persuaded that in my principles lie truth and progress, I
would spit on everything and become a monk.

Doctor.--But it would be a dreadful thing if we do not win this time.

Anton.--I am sure we will win. You are a fearful candidate for
our adversaries. You have only one antagonist who is at all
dangerous--Husarski, a rich and popular nobleman.

Doctor.--Once I am in parliament, I will try to accomplish something.

Anton.--I believe in you, and for that reason I am working for you.
Ha! ha! "They have already taken from us everything," said Count
Hornicki at the club yesterday, "importance, money--even good
manners." Well, at least I have not taken their good manners from
them. To the devil with them!

Doctor.--No, you have truly not taken their good manners from them.

Anton.--But it is said in the city that your prince has given a
thousand florins to those whose houses were burned. This may be bad
for us. You must do something also.

Doctor.--I did what I could.

Anton.--I must also tell you that yesterday--What is the matter with
you? I am talking to you and you are thinking about something else.

Doctor.--Excuse me. I am in great trouble. I cannot think as calmly as

Anton.--The idea!

Doctor.--You could not understand it.

Anton.--I am the coachman of the carriage in which you are riding--I
must know everything.

Doctor.--No. It does not concern you.

Anton.--It does concern me, because you are losing your energy. We
have no need of any Hamlets.

Doctor (gloomily).--You are mistaken. I have not given up.

Anton.--I see. You close your mouth on this subject. It is not in your
character to give up.

Doctor.--No. You must work to have me elected. I would lose doubly if
we were bitten.

Anton.--They must have burned you like the deuce, for you hiss

Doctor.--An old story. A peasant did not sleep for six years, did not
eat, bent his neck, wounded his hands, and carried logs for a hut.
After six years a lord came along, kicked the hut and said: "My castle
shall stand here." We are sceptical enough to laugh at such things.

Anton.--He was a real lord!

Doctor.--A lord for generations. He carried his head so high that he
did not notice what cracked beneath his feet.

Anton.--I like the story. And what about the peasant?

Doctor.--According to the peasant tradition, he is thinking of a flint
and tinder.

Anton.--Glorious idea! Truly we despise tradition too much. There are
good things in it.

Doctor.--Enough. Let us talk of something else.

Anton (looking around).--An old and rich house. It would make a
splendid cabin.

Doctor.--What do you say?

Anton.--Nothing. Has the old prince a daughter?

Doctor.--Yes. Why?

Anton (laughing).--Ha, ha! Your trouble has the scent of a perfume
used by a lady. I smell here the petticoat of the princess. Behind the
member of parliament is Jozwowicz, just as behind the evening dress
there is the morning gown. What a strong perfume!

Doctor.--You may sell your perspicacity at another market. It is my
personal affair.

Anton.--Not at all, for it means that you put only half your soul into
public affairs. To the deuce with such business! Look at me. They howl
at me in the newspapers, they laugh at me--but I do not care. I will
tell you more! I feel that I shall never rise, although I am not
lacking in strength nor intelligence. I could try to get the first
place in camp to command, but I do not do it. Why? Because I know
myself very well. Because I know that I am lacking in order,
authority, tact. I have been and I am a tool, used by such as you, and
which to-morrow may be kicked aside when it is no more needed. But
my self-love does not blind me. I do not care most for myself--I am
working for my convictions--that is all. Any day I may be ousted from
my position. There is often misery in my house, and although I love my
wife and children--no matter. When it is a question of my convictions,
I will work, act, agitate. I put my whole soul in it. And for you, the
petticoat of a princess bars your way. I did not expect this from you.
Tfu! spit on everything and come with us.

Doctor.--You are mistaken. I have no desire for martyrdom, but for
victory. And the more personal ties there are between me and public
affairs, the more I will serve them with my mind, heart, and
deeds--with all that constitutes a man. Do you understand?

Anton.--Amen. His eyes shine like the eyes of a wolf--now I recognize

Doctor.--What more do you wish?

Anton.--Nothing more. I will only tell you that our motto should be:
Attack the principles, and not the people.

Doctor.--Your virginal virtue may rest assured. I shall not poison any

Anton.--I believe you, but I must tell you that I know you well. I
appreciate your energy, your learning, your common sense, but I should
not like to cross you in anything.

Doctor.--So much the better for me.

Anton.--But if it is a question of the nobility, notwithstanding our
programme I make you a present of them. You shall not cut their heads

Doctor.--To be sure. And now go and get to work for me--or rather, for

Anton.--For us, Jozwowicz. Do not forget that.

Doctor.--I will not swear it to you, but I promise you that I will not

Anton.--But how will you manage that nobleman?

Doctor.--Do you require that I make you my confidant?

Anton.--In the first place, I do not need your confidence, because in
our camp we have sufficient perspicacity. There is the matter of the
prince's daughter--that is all. But I am always afraid that for her
sake you will abandon public affairs. As I am working for you, I am
responsible for you, therefore we must be frank.

Doctor.--Let us be frank.

Anton.--Therefore you have said to yourself: I shall get rid of that
nobleman. Do it then. It is your business--but I ask you once more: Do
you wish to become a member of parliament for us, or for the princess?
That is my business.

Doctor.--I throw my cards on the table. I, you, we are all new people,
and all of us have this quality--we are not dolls, painted with the
same color. There is room in us for convictions, love, hatred--in a
word, as I told you, for everything of which a man of complex nature
is composed. Nature has given me a heart and the right to live,
therefore I desire for happiness; it gave me a mind, therefore I serve
my chosen idea. One does not exclude the other. Why should you mix the
princess with our public affairs--you, an intelligent man? Why do you
wish to replace life by a phrase? I have the right to be happy, and I
shall achieve it. And I shall know how to harmonize the idea with the
life, like a sail with a boat. I shall sail more surely then. You must
understand me; in that is our strength--that we know how to harmonize.
In that lies our superiority over others, for they do not know how to
live. What I will amount to with that woman, I do not know. You call
me a Hamlet--perhaps I may become a Hamlet, but you have no need of

Anton.--It seems to me that you are again right. But thus you will
fight two battles, and your forces will have to be divided.

Doctor.--No! I am strong enough.

Anton.--Say frankly--she is betrothed.


Anton.--And she loves her fiancé.

Doctor.--Or she deceives herself.

Anton.--At any rate, she does not love you.

Doctor.--In the first place, I must get rid of him. In the mean while,
go and work.

Anton (consulting watch).--In a few moments the committee will be here
to see you.

Doctor.--Very well. The prince is coming with the Countess Miliszewska
and her son, my opponent. Let us be going.


Prince, Stella, Mrs. Czeska, Countess Miliszewska, Jan Miliszewski,

Countess.--It is impossible to understand. The world grows wild

Prince.--I say the same. Stella, do I not say so?

Stella.--Very often.

Countess (low to her son).--Sit near the princess and entertain her.
Go ahead!

Jan.--I am going, mamma.

Countess.--There is too much of that audacity. I have sent
Mr. Podczaski to the electors, and they say: "We do not need
representatives without heads." I am only surprised that the prince is
not more indignant. I rush here and there, I pray and work, and they
dare to oppose to my son Mr. Jozwowicz.

Prince.--But madam, what can I do?

Countess.--And who is Mr. Jozwowicz--a physician? What does a
doctor amount to? Jan has influence, importance, social position,
relatives--and what has the doctor? From whence did he come here? Who
ever heard of him? Really, I cannot speak calmly, and I think it must
be the end of the world. Is it not, Mr. Podczaski?

Podczaski (saluting).--Yes, countess, God's wrath. There were never
such loud thunders.

Prince.--Thunders? Mrs. Czeska, what? Have your heard thunder?

Czeska.--It is a very usual thing at the end of spring. Do not mind

Countess (in a low voice).--Jan, go ahead.

Jan.--Yes, mamma, I am going.

Countess.--Prince, you will see that Jan will not be elected purely on
account of the hatred against us. They say that he does not know the
country, and does not understand its needs. But before all we must not
allow such people as Jozwowicz to become important in the country.
Prince, is it not so?

Prince.--He will not ask your permission.

Countess.--That is exactly why the world must be coming to an
end--that such people can do as they please! They dare to say that Jan
will not be able to make a good representative, and that Mr. Jozwowicz
will. Jan was always an excellent student in Metz. Jan, were you not a
good student?

Jan.--Yes, mamma.

Podczaski.--Countess, you are perfectly right. It is the end of the

Stella.--What did you study especially?

Jan.--I, madam? I studied the history of heresy.

Princess.--Mrs. Czeska--what? Have studied what?

Countess.--They reproach us with not having talent, but for diplomacy
one must have talent.

Podczaski.--The count does even look like a diplomat.

Prince (aside).--Well, not very much.

Czeska.--The count does not have much to say.

Jan.--No, madam, but sometimes I speak quite enough.

Countess.--For my part, I declare that if Jan is not elected, we will
leave the country.

Podczaski.--They will be guilty of it.

Countess.--It will be the fault of the prince.


Countess.--How can you permit such as Jozwowicz to compete with
society people? Why do you retain him?

Prince.--Frankly speaking, it is not I who keep him--it is he who
keeps me. If it were not for him, I should long since be (he makes a

Countess (angrily).--By keeping him, you serve the democracy.

Prince.--I--I serve the democracy? Stella, do you hear? (He raps with
his stick.)

Countess.--Every one will say so. Mr. Jozwowicz is the democratic

Prince.--But I am not, and if it is so I will not allow him to be. I
have enough of Mr. Jozwowicz's democracy. They shall not say that I am
the tool of democracy. (He rings the bell. A servant enters.) Ask the
doctor to come here.

Countess.--Now the prince is a true prince.

Prince.--I serve democracy, indeed!

Stella.--Papa, dear.

Countess.--We must bid the prince good-bye. Jan, get ready. Good-bye,
dear Stella. Good-bye, my child. (To her son.) Kiss the princess's


The same.

Jozwowicz.--Your Highness must excuse me if I am too late, but I was
obliged to receive the delegates.

Countess.--What delegates are here? Jan, go ahead.

Doctor (saluting).--Count, you must hasten, they are leaving.

Podczaski.--I am Your Highness's servant. (Countess, Jan, Podczaski go
out. Stella and Mrs. Czeska follow them.)


Jozwowicz. Prince. (A moment of silence.)

Prince (rapping with his stick).--I forbid you to become a member of

Doctor.--I shall not obey.

Prince.--You make me angry.

Doctor.--Your Highness closes to me the future.

Prince (angrily).--I have brought you up.

Doctor.--I preserve Your Highness's life.

Prince.--I have been a second father to you.

Doctor.--Your Highness, let us speak calmly. If you have been to me a
father, I have until now been to you a son. But the father must not
bar to his son the road to distinction.

Prince.--Public distinction is not for such people as you, sir.

Doctor (laughing).--A moment ago Your Highness called me a son.

Prince.--What son?

Doctor.--Your Highness, were I your son I would be rich and have a
title--in a word everything Your Highness possesses. But being a poor
man, I must make my way, and no one has the right to bar it to me,
especially if my road is straight and honest. (Laughing.) Unless Your
Highness would like to adopt me in order to preserve the family.

Prince.--What nonsense you are talking.

Doctor.--I am only joking. Well, Your Highness, let us cease this

Prince.--It is true, it hurts me. Why will you not give up the idea of
becoming a member of parliament?

Doctor.--It is my future.

Prince.--And in the mean time I am vexed by every one on that account.
When I was young I was in many battles and I did not fear. I can show
my decorations. I was not afraid of death on the battlefield, but
those Latin illnesses of yours--Why do you look at me in that way?

Doctor.--I am looking as usual. As for your illness, I will say that
it is more the imagination of Your Highness than anything else. The
constitution is strong, and with my assistance Your Highness will live
to the age of Methusaleh.

Prince.--Are you sure of it?


Prince.--Good boy! And you will not leave me?

Doctor.--Your Highness may be assured of that.

Prince.--Then you may become a member of parliament or whatever you
please. Stella! Oh, she is not here! Upon my honor, that Miliszewski
is an ass. Don't you think so?

Doctor.--I cannot contradict Your Highness.


The same. Stella and Mrs. Czeska.

Stella.--I came because I was afraid you would quarrel. Well, what is
the end of the discussion?

Prince.--Well, that good-for-nothing man will do what he pleases.

Doctor.--The fact is that the prince has approved of my plans and has
granted me permission to try my luck at the election.

Mrs. Czeska.--We had better all go to the garden. Mr. Pretwic and
Count Drahomir are waiting--we are going for a sail on the lake.

Prince.--Then let us be going (they go out). You see, madam, that


Jozwowicz, Stella. Then Drahomir.

Stella.--How is my father's health?

Doctor.--All that can be expected. But you are pale, princess.

Stella.--Oh, I am well.

Doctor.--It is the consequence of the betrothal.

Stella.--It must be.

Doctor.--But health requires one to be merry--to enjoy life.

Stella.--I do not wish for any other distraction.

Doctor.--If not distraction, at least enjoyment. We here are too grave
for you. Perhaps we cannot understand you.

Stella.--You are all too good.

Doctor.--At least solicitous. If you have a moment to spare let us be
seated and have a talk. My solicitude must explain my boldness. With
the dignity of a fiancé, serenity and happiness generally go hand in
hand. When the heart is given willingly, all longing ceases and the
future is viewed with serenity.

Stella.--My future contains something which might cause even the most
valiant to fear.

Doctor.--Of what are you talking? You have called me a sceptic, but it
is I who says: who loves, believes.

Stella.--What then?

Doctor.--Who doubts?


Doctor.--Princess, I do not inquire. There are moments when the
serenity visibly departs from your face, therefore I question you,
which is my duty as a physician and a friend. Be calm. Pray, remember
that this is asked by a man whom a while ago you called "brother," and
who knows how dear to him is the happiness of such a sister! I have no
one in this world--all my love of family is centred in your house. My
heart has also its sorrows. Pray, quiet my apprehensions--that is all
I ask you.

Stella.--What apprehensions?

Doctor.--Apprehensions of which I dare not speak. Since my return I
have watched you constantly, and the more I watch you the more do I
fear. You fear the future--you do not look into it with confidence and

Stella.--Permit me to go.

Doctor.--No, madam. I have the right to ask, and if you fear to look
into the bottom of your heart, then I have the right to say that you
lack courage, and for such sinful weakness one pays later with his own
happiness and the happiness of others. I suffer also--but I must--I
must. Madam, listen to me. If in your heart there is even the shadow
of a doubt, you have mistaken your sentiments.

Stella.--Is it possible to make such a mistake?

Doctor.--Yes. Sometimes--often one mistakes sympathy, pity,
commiseration for love.

Stella.--What a dreadful mistake!

Doctor.--Which one recognizes as soon as the heart flies in another
direction. The dignity of a fiancé is a hidden pain. If I am mistaken,
pray forgive me.

Stella.--Doctor, I do not wish to think of such things.

Doctor.--Then I am not mistaken. Do not look on me with fear. I wish
to save you, my dear child. Where is your heart? The moment that you
recognize you do not love Mr. Pretwic, that moment will tell you whom
you do love. No, I shall not withdraw my question. Where is your
heart? By God, if he is not equal to you, he shall rise to your
height! But no, I have become a madman.

Stella.--I must be going.

Doctor (barring the way).--No, you shall not go until you have given
me an answer. Whom do you love?

Stella.--Doctor, spare me--otherwise I shall doubt everything. Have
pity on me.

Doctor (brutally)--Whom do you love?


The same. Drahomir



Drahomir.--What! Have I frightened you? I came to tell you that the
boats are waiting. What is the matter with you?

Stella.--Nothing. Let us be going.

(Drahomir offers his arm--they go out.)


Doctor (alone--looking after them).--Oh! I--under--stand!


       *       *       *       *       *


The same Drawing-room.


(Mr. Podczaski enters, followed by a servant.)

Podczaski.--Tell the Doctor that Mr. Podczaski wishes to see him on an
important matter.

Servant.--The Doctor is very busy. The princess is ill. But I will
tell him (goes out).

Podczaski (alone).--I have enough of this work for nothing. The
countess sends me about to agitate for her, but when I ask her for
some money, she answers: We shall see about it after the election. She
is an aristocrat and she refuses a hundred florins to a nobleman. To
the deuce with such business. I had better try elsewhere, to serve the
Doctor. He pays because he has common sense. And as he will bite them,
then I will rise in consideration.


Podczaski. Jozwowicz.

Podczaski.--Your servant, sir.

Doctor.--What can I do for you?

Podczaski.--Well, sir, I am going to come right to the point. You know
what services I have rendered the Countess Miliszewski?

Doctor.--Yes, you have been agitating against me in favor of Count
Miliszewski. Podczaski.--No, not at all, sir. Well, sir, it was so,
but I am going to change that, and you may be certain--

Doctor.--In a word, what do you wish, sir?

Podczaski.--God sees, sir, that I served the countess faithfully, and
it cost me quite a little, but on consulting my conscience I have
concluded not to act any more against such a man as you, sir, for the
sake of the country.

Doctor.--I appreciate your sentiments, which are those of a good
citizen. You do not wish to act against me any longer?

Podczaski.--No, sir!

Doctor.--You are right. Then you are with me?

Podczaski.--If I may offer my services--

Doctor.--I accept.

Podczaski (aside).--He is a man--I have a hundred florins in my pocket
already. (Aloud) My gratitude--

Doctor.--Mine will be shown after the election.



The same. Jan Miliszewski--then Anton.

Jan.--Good-morning, doctor. Is my mother here?

Doctor.--The countess is not here.

Jan.--We came together, but mamma went directly to the prince's
apartment. I remained alone and I cannot find my way to the prince's
apartment. (Seeing Podczaski, who bows to him) Ah! Mr. Podczaski, what
are you doing here?

Podczaski.--Your servant, sir. Well, I came to consult the doctor--I
have rheumatism in my feet.

Jan.--Doctor, will you be kind enough to show me to the Prince's

Doctor.--They are in the left wing of the château.

Jan.--Thank you. But later I would like to have a talk with you.

Doctor.--I will be at your service, sir.

(Jan goes toward the door. He knocks against Anton.)

Anton.--I beg your pardon, sir.

Jan.--Pardon (he adjusts his monocle and looks at Anton--then goes

Anton (to Doctor).--I was told you were here and I rushed. Listen, a
matter of great importance. (Seeing Podczaski) What! You are here? Our
adversary here?

Podczaski (speaking in Anton's ear).--I am no longer your adversary.

Anton (looking at him).--So much the better then--but leave us alone
just the same.

Podczaski (aside).--Bad. (Aloud) Gentleman, do not forget me. (Aside)
The devil has taken my hundred florins. (He goes out.)

Anton.--What did he wish?


Anton.--Did you give it to him?


Anton.--You did well. We do not bribe. But no matter about that. What
good luck that they put up Miliszewski for a candidate. Otherwise you
would be lost because Husarski would have had the majority.

Doctor.--Anton, I am sure that we will be defeated.

Anton.--No! What am I for? Uf! How tired I am. Let me rest for five
minutes (he sits down). Good gracious! how soft the furniture is here.
We must donate some money for some public purpose. Have you any money?

Doctor.--I have some.

Anton.--We are going to give that money to build a school.

Doctor.--Here is the key of my desk--you will find some ready money
there, and some checks.

Anton.--Very well, but I must rest a moment. In the mean while what is
the news here? You are not looking well. Your eyes have sunken. Upon
my word, I was not so much in love with my wife. Speak--I will rest in
the mean while--but speak frankly.

Doctor.--I will be frank with you.

Anton.--What more?

Doctor.--That marriage will be broken off.


Doctor.--Because there are times when these people do not succeed in

Anton.--To the garret with those peacocks. And what about that
cannibal Pretwic?

Doctor.--A long story. The princess has mistaken the sympathy which
she feels for him for something more serious. To-day she knows that
she does not love him.

Anton.--That is good. Truly, it looks as though they were pursued by
fate. It is the lot of races that have lived too long.

Doctor.--Implacable logic of things.

Anton.--Then she is not going to marry him. I pity them, but to the
deuce with sentimentality!

Doctor.--She would marry him if it killed her to keep her word. But
there is a third person entangled in the matter--Count Drahomir.

Anton.--At every step one meets a count! He betrays Pretwic?

Doctor.--What a blockhead you are.

Anton.--Well, frankly speaking, I do not care one whit for your
drawing-room affairs.

Doctor.--Drahomir and she do not know that they love each other. But
something attracts them to each other. What is that force? They do not
ask. They are like children.

Anton.--And how will you profit from all this?

Doctor.--Listen, you democrat. When two knights are in love with one
noble damsel, that love usually ends dramatically--and the third party
usually gets the noble damsel.

Anton.--And the knights?

Doctor.--Let them perish.

Anton.--What then do you suppose will happen?

Doctor.--I do not know. Pretwic is a passionate man. He does not
foresee anything--I see only the logic of things which is favorable
to me, and I shall not be stupid enough to place any obstacles to my

Anton.--I am sure you will help it along in case of need.

Doctor.--Well, I am a physician. It is my duty to assist nature.

Anton.--The programme is ready. I know you. I only wish to ask you how
you know what you say is so. Maybe it is only a story.

Doctor.--I can have verification of it through the princess's

Anton.--You must know as soon as possible.

Doctor.--Mrs. Czeska will be here in a moment. I asked her to come

Anton.--Then I am going. Do you know what? Do not help nature too
much, because it would be--


The same. Mrs. Czeska.

Czeska (entering).--You wished to speak to me?

Doctor.--Yes, madam.

Anton (bows to Mrs. Czeska, then speaks to Jozwowicz).--I am going to
get the money and I will be back in a moment.

Doctor.--Very well. (Anton goes out.)

Czeska.--Who is that gentleman?

Doctor.--A pilot.

Czeska.--What do you mean?

Doctor.--He guides the boat in which I am sailing. As for the rest, he
is a horribly honest man.

Czeska.--I do not understand very well. What did you wish to speak to
me about?

Doctor.--About the princess. You are both like mother and daughter,
and you should have her entire confidence. What is the matter with
her? She conceals something--some sorrow. As a doctor I must know
everything, because in order to cure physical disease one must know
the moral cause. (Aside) The spirit of Aesculapius forgive me this

Czeska.--My good sir, what are you asking about?

Doctor.--I have told you that the princess conceals some sorrow.

Czeska.--I do not know.

Doctor.--We both love her; let us then speak frankly.

Czeska.--I am willing.

Doctor.--Then, does she love her fiancé?

Czeska.--How can you ask me such a question? If she did not, she would
not be betrothed to him. It is such a simple thing that even I do not
talk to her about it any more.

Doctor.--You say: "I do not talk about it any more"; so you have
already talked about it.

Czeska.--Yes. She told me that she was afraid she did not love him
enough. But every pure soul fears that it does not fulfil its duty.
Why did you ask me that?

Doctor (saluting her).--I have my reasons. I wished to know. (Aside) I
am wasting my time with her.


The same. Jan Miliszewski.

Jan.--I could not find mamma. Good-morning, madam. Do I intrude?

Czeska.--Not at all, sir. (To Jozwowicz) She will do her duty; rest
assured of that.

Doctor.--Thank you. (Czeska goes out.)


Doctor.--I am listening to you, sir.

Jan.--Let us speak frankly. Mamma wishes me to become a member of
parliament, but I do not care for it.

Doctor.--You are too modest, sir.

Jan.--You are sneering, and I do not know how to defend myself. But
I am frank with you--I would not care a bit about being elected
to parliament if it were not for my mamma. When mamma wishes for
something it must be accomplished. All women of the family of
Srokoszynski are that way, and mamma is of that family.

Doctor.--But, count, you have a will of your own.

Jan.--That is the trouble--the Miliszewskis are all ruled by the
women. It is our family characteristic, sir.

Doctor.--A knightly characteristic indeed! But what can I do for you?

Jan.--I am not going to oppose you.

Doctor.--I must be as frank with you as you are with me. Until now you
have helped me.

Jan.--I don't know how, but if it is so, then you must help me in your

Doctor.--In what?

Jan.--It is a very delicate question. But you must not tell mamma
anything about it.

Doctor.--Certainly not.

Jan.--Mamma wishes me to marry the princess, but I, sir, I do not

Doctor.--You do not want?

Jan.--It astonishes you?

Doctor.--I must be frank--

Jan.--I do not wish to because I do not wish to. When a man does not
feel like marrying, then he does not feel like it. You will suppose
that I am in love with some one else? It may be. But it is not with
the princess. Naturally, when mamma says: "Jan, go ahead," I go ahead,
because I cannot help it. The Miliszewskis knew how to manage the men,
but not the women.

Doctor.--I do not understand--how can I be useful to you?

Jan.--You can do anything in this house, so you must help me secretly,
to be refused.

Doctor.--Count, you may rely on me in that matter.

Jan.--Thank you.

Doctor.--And it will be so much the easier done because the princess
is betrothed.

Jan.--I did not know that any one dared to compete with me.

Doctor (aside).--What an idea! (Aloud) It is Mr. George Pretwic.

Jan.--Then they wished to make sport of me.

Doctor.--Mr. Pretwic is an audacious man. You were perfectly right
when you said the question was a delicate one. The people are afraid
of Mr. Pretwic; if you were to give up, people would say that--

Jan.--That I am also afraid? Then I will not give up. My dear sir, I
see you do not know the Miliszewskis. We do not know how to handle the
women, but there is not a coward in our family. I know that people
laugh at me, but the one who would dare to call me a coward would not
laugh. I will show them at once that I am not a coward. Where is Mr.

Doctor.--He is in the garden (pointing through the window). Do you see
him there, near the lake?



Jozwowicz alone--then Anton.

Doctor.--The men who have not such sons are great! Ha! ha! ha!

Anton (rushing in).--You are here? Here are your receipts for the
money. Why are you laughing?

Doctor.--Miliszewski has gone to challenge Pretwic.

Anton.--Are they crazy?

Doctor.--What an opinion she would have of Pretwic if he were to
quarrel with such an idiot!

Anton.--You have done it.

Doctor.--I told you that I shall assist nature.

Anton.--Do as you please; I withdraw.

Doctor.--Good-bye. Or no, I am going also. I must prevent the
adventure from going too far.

Anton.--I wanted to tell you that I must buy some food for my
children. I will return the money--later on. Is it all right?

Doctor.--How can you ask? (Goes out.)


Stella and Drahomir. (They enter from the garden.)

Stella.--That walk tired me. See how weak I am (sits down). Where is
Mr. Pretwic?

Drahomir.--Young Miliszewski asked to speak to him a moment. The
countess is speaking to the prince. It seems that their conversation
is very animated because the countess did not know that you were
betrothed, and she had some designs on you. But pray excuse me; I
laugh and you suffer by it.

Stella.--I would laugh too if I did not know how much it troubles my
father. And then, I pity Count Miliszewski.

Drahomir.--I understand how a similar situation would be painful to a
man who was in love, but such is not the case with the count. He will
console himself if his mother orders it.

Stella.--Sometimes one may be mistaken about people.

Drahomir.--Do you speak about me or Miliszewski?

Stella.--Let us say it is about you. They told me that you were a
mirror of all perfections.

Drahomir.--And have you discovered that I am the personification of
all faults?

Stella.--I did not say so.

Drahomir.--But you think so. But I am not deceived. Your portrait
drawn by Mr. Pretwic and the Doctor is exactly like you.

Stella.--How was the portrait?

Drahomir.--With wings at the shoulders.

Stella.--That means that I have as much dignity as a butterfly.

Drahomir.--Angels' wings are in harmony with their dignity.

Stella.--True friendship should speak the truth. Tell me some bitter

Drahomir.--Very bitter?

Stella.--As wormwood--or as is sometimes the case--with life.

Drahomir.--Then you are kind to me.

Stella.--For what sin shall I begin penitence?

Drahomir.--For lack of friendship for me.

Stella.--I was the first to appeal for friendship--in what respect am
I untrue to it?

Drahomir.--Because you share with me your joys, sports, laughter, but
when a moment of sorrow comes, you keep those thorns for yourself.
Pray share with me your troubles also.

Stella.--It is not egotism on my part. I do not wish to disturb your

Drahomir.--The source of my serenity does not lie in egotism either.
George told me of you when I came here: "I know only how to look at
her and how to pray to her; you are younger and more mirthful, try to
amuse her." Therefore I brought all my good spirits and laid them at
your feet. But I notice that I have bored you. I see a cloud on your
face--I suspect some hidden sorrow, and being your best friend, I am
ready to give my life to dispel that cloud.

Stella (softly).--You must not talk that way.

Drahomir (clasping his hands).--Let me talk. I was a giddy boy, but I
always followed my heart, and my heart guessed your sorrow. Since that
moment a shadow fell across my joy, but I overcame it. One cannot
recall a tear which has rolled down the cheek, but a friendly hand can
dry it. Therefore I overcame that cloud in order that the tears should
not come to your eyes. If I have been mistaken, if I have chosen the
wrong path, pray forgive me. Your life will be as beautiful as a
bouquet of flowers, therefore be mirthful--be mirthful.

Stella (with emotion, giving him her hand).--I shall be; being near
you, I am capricious, spoiled, and a little bit ill. Sometimes I do
not know myself what is the matter with me, and what I wish. I am
happy; truly I am happy.

Drahomir.--Then, no matter, as Mrs. Czeska says. Let us be merry,
laugh, and run in the garden and play pranks with the countess and her

Stella.--I have discovered the source of your mirth; it is a good

Drahomir.--No, madam. I am a great good-for-nothing. But the source of
true happiness is not in this.

Stella.--Sometimes I think that there is none in this world.

Drahomir.--We cannot grasp it with our common sense, and will not fly
after that winged vision. Sometimes perhaps it flies near us, but
before we discover it, before we stretch out our hands, it is too

Stella.--What sad words--too late!


The same. Jozwowicz.

Doctor (entering, laughs).--Ha! ha! Do you know what has happened?

Stella.--Is it something amusing?

Doctor.--A dreadful, tragic, but before a ridiculous thing.
Miliszewski wished to challenge Pretwic.

Stella.--For Heaven's sake!

Doctor.--You must laugh with me. If there were anything dreadful I
would not frighten you, princess.

Drahomir.--And what has been the end of it?

Doctor.--I was angry with Mr. Pretwic for taking the matter so

Drahomir.--How could he help it?

Doctor.--But it would be shameful for a man like Mr. Pretwic to fight
with such a poor thing.

Stella.--The doctor is right. I do not understand Mr. Pretwic.

Doctor.--Our princess must not be irritated. I have made peace between
them. Mr. Pretwic did not grasp the real situation and his naturally
sanguine disposition carried him away. But now that I have explained
to him, he agrees that it would be too utterly ridiculous.

Drahomir.--And what about Miliszewski?

Doctor.--I have sent him to his mamma. He is a good boy.

Stella.--I shall scold Mr. Pretwic, nevertheless.

Drahomir.--But you must not be too severe.

Stella.--You are laughing, gentlemen. I am sorry that it was necessary
to explain the matter to Mr. Pretwic. I must scold him immediately
(she goes out).


Drahomir. Doctor.

Drahomir.--The princess is a true angel.

Doctor.--Yes, there is not a spot in the crystalline purity of her

Drahomir.--It must be true when even you, a sceptic, speak of her with
such enthusiasm.

Doctor.--I have been here six years. When I came she wore short
dresses. She grew by my side. Six years have their strength--it was
impossible not to become attached to her.

Drahomir.--I believe you. (After a while of silence) Strange, however,
that you self-made people have no hearts.


Drahomir.--Because--I know what you would say about her social
position, but hearts are equal, so it does not matter. Then how did it
happen that you, being so near the princess, did not--

Doctor (interrupting).--What?

Drahomir.--I cannot find an expression.

Doctor.--But I have found it. You are asking me why I did not fall in
love with her?

Drahomir.--I hesitated to pronounce the too bold word.

Doctor.--Truly, if you, count, are lacking in boldness, I am going to
help you out, and I ask you: And you, sir?

Drahomir.--Doctor, be careful.

Doctor.--I hear some lyrical tone.

Drahomir.--Let us finish this conversation.

Doctor.--As you say, although I can speak quietly, and in order to
change the conversation, I prefer to ask you: Do you think she will be
happy with Mr. Pretwic?

Drahomir.--What a question! George loves her dearly.

Doctor.--I do not doubt it, but their natures are so different. Her
thoughts and sentiments are as delicate as cobweb--and George? Have
you noticed how hurt she was that he accepted the challenge?

Drahomir.--Why did you tell her about it?

Doctor.--I was wrong. Therefore George--

Drahomir.--Will be happy with her.

Doctor.--Any one would be happy with her, and to every one one might
give the advice to search for some one like her. Yes, count, search
for some one like her (he goes out).

Drahomir (alone).--Search for some one like her--and if there is some
one like, her--too late (he sits down and covers his face with his


Stella. Drahomir.

Stella (seeing Drahomir, looks at him for a while).--What is the
matter with you?

Drahomir.--You here? (A moment of silence.)

Stella (confused).--I am searching for papa. Excuse me, sir, I must

Drahomir (softly)--Go, madam. (She goes out. At the door she stops,
hesitates for a while and then disappears.) I must get away from here
as soon as possible.


Drahomir. Prince. Finally Jozwowicz.

Prince (rushing in).--She has tormented me until now. Good gracious!
Ah, it is you, Drahomir.

Drahomir.--Yes, prince. Who tormented you?

Prince.--The Countess Miliszewski. My dear boy, how can he be a member
of parliament when he is so densely stupid!

Drahomir.--It is true.

Prince.--Don't you see! And then she proposed to marry him to Stella.
The idea! She is already betrothed. But of course they did not know.

Drahomir.--How did you get rid of her?

Prince.--The doctor helped me out. Jozwowicz is a smart man--he has
more intelligence than all of us together.

Drahomir.--It is true.

Prince.--But you, Drahomir, you are smart also, are you not?

Drahomir.--How can I either affirm or deny? But Jozwowicz is very
intelligent, that much is certain.

Prince.--Yes. I do not like him, and I am afraid of him and I am fond
of him, but I tell you I could not live without him.

Drahomir.--He is an honest man, too.

Prince.--Honest? Very well, then, but you are better because you are
not a democrat. Drahomir, I love you. Stella, I love him--Ah! She is
not here.

Drahomir.--Thank you, prince.

Prince.--If I had another daughter, I would--well--

Drahomir.--Prince, pray do not speak that way. (Aside) I must run

Prince.--Come, have a cigar with me. We will call the others and have
a talk. Jozwowicz! Pretwic!

Doctor (entering).--What are your orders, Your Highness?

Prince.--You, Robespièrre, come and have a cigar. Thank you, my boy.
You have rid me of the countess.

Doctor.--I will send for Pretwic, and we will join you. (He rings the
bell. A servant comes in--the prince and Drahomir go out.) Ask Mr.
Pretwic to come here. (The servant goes out.)

Doctor (alone).--Anton was right. I am helping along the logic. But
I do not like the sap--because I am accustomed to break. (Pretwic


Pretwic. Jozwowicz.

George.--I was looking for you.

Doctor.--The prince has invited us to smoke a cigar with him.

George.--Wait a moment. For God's sake tell me what it means. Stella
changes while looking at her--there is something heavy in the air.
What does it mean?

Doctor.--That melancholy is the mode now.

George.--You are joking with me.

Doctor.--I know nothing.

George.--Excuse me. The blood rushes to my head. I see some
catastrophe hanging over me. I thought you would say something to
pacify me. I thought you were my friend.

Doctor.--Do you doubt it?

George.--Shake hands first. Then give me some advice.

Doctor.--Advice? Are you ill?

George (with an effort).--Truly, you play with me as a cat with a

Doctor.--Because I know nothing of presentiments.

George.--Did you not tell me that she is not ill?

Doctor.--No, she is wearied.

George.--You speak about it in a strange way and you have no
conception of the pain that your words cause me.

Doctor.--Then try to distract her.

George.--What? Who?

Doctor.--Who? Count Drahomir, for instance.

George.--Is she fond of him?

Doctor.--And he of her also. Such poetical souls are always fond of
each other.

George.--What do you mean by that?

Doctor (sharply).--And you--how do you take my words?

George (rises.)--Not another word. You understand me, and you must
know that I do not always forgive.

Doctor (rises also, approaches George and looks into his eyes).--I
believe you wish to frighten me. Besides this, what more do you wish?

George (after a moment of struggle with himself).--You must ask me
what I did wish, because I do not now wish for anything. You have
known her longer than I have, therefore I came to you as her friend
and mine, and for answer you banter with me. In your eyes there shone
hatred for me, although I have never wronged, you. Be the judge
yourself! I would be more than right in asking you: What do you
wish of me, if it were not for the reason (with pride) that it is
immaterial to me. (He goes out.)

Doctor.--We shall see.


Jozwowicz. Servant.

Servant.--A messenger brought this letter from Mr. Anton Zuk.

Doctor.--Give it to me. (The servant goes out. Doctor looks at the
door through which George went out.) Oh, I can no longer control my
hatred. I will crush you into dust; and now I shall not hesitate any
longer. (Opens letter feverishly) Damnation, I must be going there at


Jozwowicz. Mrs. Czeska.

Czeska (enters swiftly).--Doctor, I am looking for you.

Doctor.--What has happened?

Czeska.--Stella is ill. I found her weeping.

Doctor (aside.)--Poor child! (Aloud) I will go to see her at once.
(They go out.)


       *       *       *       *       *


The same Drawing Room.


Jozwowicz. Drahomir.

(Jozwowicz sits at table writing in notebook. Drahomir enters.)

Drahomir.--Doctor, I came to bid you farewell.

Doctor (rising suddenly).--Ah, you are going away?


Doctor.--So suddenly? For long?

Drahomir.--I am returning to-day to Swietlenice, to George; to-morrow
I leave for Paris.

Doctor.--One word--have you said anything to any one of your plans?

Drahomir.--Not yet. I only made up my mind an hour ago.

Doctor.--Then Mr. Pretwic knows nothing about it as yet?

Drahomir.--No; but why do you ask?

Doctor (aside).--I must act now--otherwise everything is lost. (Aloud)
Count, I have not much time to speak to you now, because in a moment I
expect Anton in regard to a matter on which my whole future depends.
Listen to me. I beseech you, for the sake of the peace and health
of the princess, not to mention to any one that you are going away.
Neither to the Prince nor to Mr. Pretwic.

Drahomir.--I do not understand you.

Doctor.--You will understand me. Now I cannot tell you anything more.
In a half hour pray grant me a moment of conversation. Then you will
understand me--that I guarantee you. Here is Anton. You see I cannot
explain now.

Drahomir.--I will see you again. (He goes out.)


Anton. Jozwowicz.

Anton.--The fight is very hot. Have you the address?

Doctor.--Here it is. How goes it?

Anton.--Up to now everything is well, but I repeat--the fight is
very hot. If you had not come the last time, you would have lost the
battle, because Miliszewski has withdrawn and his partisans vote for
Husarski. Podczaski is good for nothing. Your speech in the city hall
was splendid. May thunder strike you! Your address was admired even by
your enemies. Oh, we will at last be able to do something. For three
days I have not slept--I have not eaten--I work and I have plenty of
time, because I have lost my position.

Doctor.--You have lost your position?

Anton.--On account of the agitation against Husarski.

Doctor.--Have you found any means against him?

Anton.--I have-written an article. I have brought it to you. Read it.
He sues me--he will beat me. They will put me in prison, but it will
be only after the election, and my article wronged him very much.

Doctor.--Very well.

Anton.--But when I am in prison you must take care of my wife and
children. I love them dearly. I have three of them. It is too
much--but _natura lex dura_.

Doctor.--Be assured.

Anton.--You would not believe me if I were to tell you that I am
almost happy. Sometimes it seems to me that our country is a moldy
room and that I open the window and let in the fresh air. We will work
very hard. I believe in you, because you are an iron man.

Doctor.--I shall either perish or gain two victories.


Doctor.--Yes; the other one even to-day, here. The events have
surprised me in some way. The facts turned against me, and I was
obliged to build my plans of action only a short while ago.

Anton.--Eh! If we win only there. Do you know what--I would prefer
that you abandon the idea of the other victory.

Doctor.--Anton, you are mistaken.

Anton.--Because you worry a great deal. You have grown awfully thin.
Look in the mirror.

Doctor.--No matter; after I have sprung the mine I shall be calmer and
the mine is ready.

Anton.--But it will cost you too much.

Doctor.--Yes, but I shall not retract.

Anton.--At least be careful and do not smear your hands with the


The same. Stella.

Stella (entering, notices Anton).--Ah, excuse me.

Doctor.--Mr. Anton Zuk, a friend of mine. (Anton bows.) What is your
wish, princess?

Stella.--You told me to stay in bed and it is so hard to lie down.
Mrs. Czeska went to the chapel and I escaped. Do you approve?

Doctor.--I cannot help it, princess, although I would like to scold
you like a disobedient child. A few moments ago some one else begged
for you also.

Stella.--Who was it?

Doctor.--Count Drahomir. And he begged so earnestly that I promised
him that I would allow you to leave the bed. He wishes to have a talk
with you to-day, because he will not be able to see you again.

Stella (aside).--What does it mean?

Doctor.--He will be here at five o'clock.

Stella.--Very well.

Doctor.--And now, pray, return to your room. Your dress is too thin
and you might catch cold.


Jozwowicz. Anton.

Anton.--Ah, that is the princess.

Doctor.--Yes, it is she.

Anton.--Very pretty, but looks as though she was made of mist. As for
me, I prefer women like my wife. From such as your princess you cannot
expect sturdy democrats.

Doctor.--Enough of that.

Anton.--Then I will weigh anchor and sail. I will distribute the
pamphlet with your address, and then I will write another article
against Husarski. If they put me in prison they shall at least have a
reason for it. Good-bye.

Doctor.--If you meet a servant, tell him that I am waiting for Count


Jozwowicz--then Drahomir.

Doctor (alone).--Let that golden-haired page go, but he must see her
before he goes. This leave-taking shall be the red flag for the bull.
(Drahomir enters.) I am waiting for you, sir. Is Mr. Pretwic in the

Drahomir.--He is with the prince.

Doctor.--Count, be seated, and let us talk.

Drahomir (uneasily).--I am listening, sir.

Doctor.--You are in love with the princess.

Drahomir.--Mr. Jozwowicz!

Doctor.--On your honor--yes or no?

Drahomir.--Only God has the right to ask me such a question. I do not
dare to ask myself.

Doctor.--And your conscience?

Drahomir.--And no one else.

Doctor.--Then let us turn the question. She loves you.

Drahomir.--Be silent, sir. Oh, God!

Doctor.--Your pride is broken. You knew of it?

Drahomir.--I did not wish to know it.

Doctor.--But now you are aware of it.

Drahomir.--That is the reason why I am going away from here forever.

Doctor.--It is too late, sir. You have tangled her life and now you
leave her.

Drahomir.--For God's sake, what shall I do, then?

Doctor.--Go away, but not forever, and not without telling her

Drahomir.--Why should I add the last drop to an already overflowing

Doctor.--A beautiful phrase. Can you not understand that it will hurt
her good name if you should go away suddenly without taking leave
of her? And she--she is ill and she may not be able to bear your

Drahomir.--I do not see any remedy--

Doctor.--There is only one. Find some pretext, bid her good-bye
quietly, and tell her that you will be back. Otherwise it will be a
heavy blow for her strength. You must leave her hope. She must not
suspect anything. Perhaps later she will become accustomed to your
absence--perhaps she will forget--

Drahomir.--It will be better for her to forget.

Doctor.--I will do my best, but I shall first throw a handful of earth
on your memory.

Drahomir.--What shall I do, then?

Doctor.--To find a pretext to bid her good-bye, tell every one that
you are going. Then come back--and go away. Mr. Pretwic also must not
know anything.

Drahomir.--When shall I bid her good-bye?

Doctor.--In a moment. I told her. I will manage to be with Pretwic
during that time. She will be here presently.

Drahomir.--I would prefer to die.

Doctor.--No one is certain of to-morrow. Be off now. (Drahomir goes


Jozwowicz. Then a servant.

Doctor.--How warm it is here! My head is splitting. (He rings--a
servant enters.) Ask Mr. Pretwic to come here. (The servant goes out.)
My head is bursting--but then I will have a long peace.


Jozwowicz. George Pretwic.

George (entering).--What do you wish with me?

Doctor.--I wish to give you good advice about the princess's health.

George.--How is she?

Doctor.--Better. I allowed her to leave bed because she and Drahomir
asked me to.


Doctor.--Yes. He wishes to talk with her. They will be here in a
quarter of an hour.

George.--Jozwowicz, I am choking with wrath and pain. Drahomir avoids

Doctor.--But you do not suspect him.

George.--I swear to you that I have defended myself from suspicions as
a man dying on the steppe defends himself from the crows--that I have
bitten my hands with pain and despair--that I still defend myself.
But I cannot any more. I cannot. The evidence pounds on my brain. He
avoids me. He tells me that I have become an idiot--that I have become
a madman, because--

Doctor.--Keep your temper. Even if he were in love with the princess,
nobody rules his own heart.

George.--Enough! You were right when you coupled his name with hers.
At that moment I repulsed the thought, but it was there just the same
(he strikes his breast). The fruit is ripened. Oh, what a ridiculous
and dreadful part I am playing here--

Doctor.--But he saved your life.

George.--In order to take it when it began to have a certain value.
His service is paid with torture, with a slain happiness, with a
broken hope, with destroyed faith in myself, in him and in her.

Doctor.--Be easy.

George.--I loved that man. Tell me that I am a madman and I shall be
calmed. How dreadful to think that it is he! Forgive me everything I
said to you before and help me. Evil thoughts are rushing through my

Doctor.--Be calm--you are mistaken.

George.--Prove to me that I am mistaken and I will kneel before you.

Doctor.--You are mistaken, because Drahomir is going away.

George.--He is going away. (A moment of silence.) Oh, Lord! Then I can
live without such tortures, I may hope!

Doctor (coolly and slowly).--But he is not going away forever. He said
he would return.

George.--You put me on the cross again.

Doctor.--Come to your senses and do not let yourself be carried away
by madness. At any rate you gain time. You can win her heart back

George.--No--it is done. I am sinking into a precipice.

Doctor.--Everything will be straightened out by his absence.

George (with an outburst).--But did you not tell me that he will

Doctor.--Listen: I agree with you that you have repaid Drahomir for
the services of saving your life with your tortures. Drahomir has
betrayed you and has broken the friendship between you by winning her
heart. But I do not think that he is going away in order to avoid your

George.--And to give her time to break her engagement! Yes, yes! I am
cursed. I suspect him now of everything. He avoids me.

Doctor.--Mr. Pretwic.

George.--Enough. I am going to ask him when he will be back. He has
saved my life once, and slain me ten times. (He tries to leave.)

Doctor.--Where are you going?

George.--To ask him how long he is going away.

Doctor.--Wait a moment. How could you ask him such a question? Perhaps
he is innocent, but pride will shut his mouth and everything will be
lost. Stay here--you can leave only over my corpse. I am not afraid of
you!--do you understand? In a moment they will be here. You wish for
proofs--you shall have them. From the piazza you cannot hear them, but
you can see them. You shall be persuaded with your own eyes--perhaps
you will regret your impetuosity.

George (after a while).--Very well, then. May God grant that I was
mistaken! Thank you--but you must not leave me now.

Doctor.--One word more. No matter what happens I shall consider you a
villain if you place her life in peril by any outburst.

George.--Granted. Where shall we go?

Doctor.--On the piazza. But you have fever--you are already shaking.

George.--I am out of breath. Some one is coming. Let us be going.


Drahomir. Then Stella.

Drahomir.--The last evening and the last time. (After a while.) O
Lord, thy will be done!

Stella (enters).--The Doctor told me that you wished to see me.

Drahomir.--Yes, madam. Pray forgive my boldness. A very important
affair calls me home. I come to bid you good-bye.

Stella.--You are going away?

Drahomir.--To day I am going to Swietlenice, to-morrow still further.
(A moment of silence.)

Stella.--Yes, it is necessary.

Drahomir.--Life has flown like a dream--it is time to wake up.

Stella.--Shall we see each other again?

Drahomir.--If God permits it.

Stella.--Then let us shake hands in farewell. I can assure you that
you have a friend in me. Friendship is like an immortal--it is a pale
flower, but does not wither. May God guide you and protect you. The
heart--of a sister--will follow you everywhere. Remember--


Stella.--Farewell. (She goes toward the door. Then suddenly turns.
With a sob in her voice.) Why do you deceive me? You are going

Drahomir.--Have mercy on me.

Stella.--Are you going away forever?

Drahomir.--Yes, then.

Stella.--I guessed it. But perhaps it is better--for both of us.

Drahomir.--Oh, yes. There are things which cannot be expressed,
although the heart is bursting. A while ago you told me that you will
remember--it will be better for you to forget.

Stella.--I cannot. (She weeps.)

Drahomir (passionately).--Then I love you, my dearest, and that is the
reason why I escape. (He presses her to his breast.)

Stella (awakening).--Oh, God! (She rushes, out.)


Drahomir. Jozwowicz. George.

(George stops with Jozwowicz near the door.)

Drahomir.--Ah, it is you, George.

George.--Do not approach me. I have seen all. You are a villain and a


George.--In order not to soil my hand, I throw in your face our broken
friendship, my trampled happiness, lost faith in God and man, endless
contempt for you and myself.


George.--Do not approach me, because I will lose my self-command
and will sprinkle these walls with your brains. No, I shall not do
that--because I have promised. But I slap your face, you villain. Do
you hear me?

Drahomir (after struggling with himself for a moment).--Such an insult
I swear before God and man I will wash out with blood.

George.--Yes, with blood (pointing to the doctor). Here is the witness
of these words.

Doctor.--At your service, gentlemen.


       *       *       *       *       *


The same drawing-room.


Jozwowicz enters reading a dispatch.

The result of the ballotting until now: Jozwowicz, 613; Husarski,
604. At ten o'clock: Jozwowicz, 700; Husarski, 700. At 11 o'clock:
Jozwowicz, 814; Husarski, 750. The fight is hot. The final results
will be known at three o'clock. (He consults his watch.)


Jozwowicz. George.

Doctor.--You are here?

George.--You are as afraid of me as of a ghost.

Doctor.--I thought you were elsewhere.

George.--I am going directly from here to fight. I have still an hour.
The duel will take place at Dombrowa, on the Miliszewski's estate--not
far from here.

Doctor.--Too near from here.

George.--Miliszewski insisted. And then you will be here to prevent
the news from being known until as late as possible.

Doctor.--Doctor Krzycki will be with you?


Doctor.--Ask him to send me the news at once. I would go with you, but
I must be here.

George.--You are right. If I am killed?

Doctor.--You must not think of that.

George.--There are some people who are cursed from the moment they
are born, and for whom death is the only redemption. I belong to that
class. I have thought everything over quietly. God knows that I am
more afraid of life than of death. There is no issue for me. Suppose I
am not killed--tell me what will become of me, if I kill the man whom
she loves? Tell me! I will live without her, cursed by her. Do you
know that when I think of my situation, and what has happened, I think
some bad spirit has mixed with us and entangled everything so that
only death can disentangle it.

Doctor.--A duel is very often ended by a mere wound.

George.--I insulted Drahomir gravely, and such an insult cannot be
wiped out by a wound. Believe me, one of us must die. But I came to
talk with you about something else.

Doctor.--I am listening to you.

George.--Frankly speaking, as I do not know what will become of me,
and whether in an hour I shall be alive or not, I came to have one
more look at her. Because I love her dearly. Perhaps I was too rough
for her--too stupid--but I loved her. May God punish me if I have not
desired her happiness. As you see me here it is true that at this
moment I pity her the most and feel miserable about her future.
Listen: whether I am killed or not, she cannot be mine. Drahomir
cannot marry her, because he could not marry the woman whose fiancé he
has killed. Of the three of us you alone will remain near her. Take
care of her--guard her. Into your hands I give her, the only treasure
I ever possessed.

Doctor (quietly).--I shall carry out your wishes.

George.--And now--I may be killed. I wish to die like a Christian. If
ever I have offended you, forgive me. (They shake hands. George goes

Doctor (alone).--Yes, of the three of us I alone shall remain near


Jozwowicz. Anton.

Anton (rushing in).--Man, have you become an idiot? When every moment
is valuable, you remain here. The results are uncertain. They have put
up big posters--Husarski's partisans are catching the votes in the
streets. For God's sake come with me. A carriage is waiting for us.

Doctor.--I must remain here. I cannot go under any consideration in
the world. Let be what may.

Anton.--I did not expect such conduct from you. Come and show
yourself, if only for a moment, and the victory is ours. I cannot
speak any more. I am dead tired. Have you become a madman? There--we
have worked for him, and he clings to a petticoat and stays here.

Doctor.--Anton! Even if I should lose there I would not stir one step
from here. I cannot and I will not go.



Anton.--Do what you please, then. Very well. My congratulations. (He
walks up and down the room; then he puts his hands in his pockets and
stands before Jozwowicz.) What does it mean?

Doctor.--It means that I must remain here. At this moment Drahomir
stands opposite Pretwic with a pistol. If the news of the fight should
come to the princess, she would pay for it with her life.

Anton.--They are fighting!

Doctor.--For life or death. In a moment the news will come who is
killed. (A moment of silence.)

Anton.--Jozwowicz, you have done all this.

Doctor.--Yes, it is I, I crushed those who were in my way, and I shall
act the same always. You have me such as I am.

Anton.--If so, I am no longer in a hurry. Do you know what I am going
to tell you?

Doctor.--You must go for a while. The princess is coming. (He opens
the door of a side room.) Go in there for a moment.


Jozwowicz and Stella.

Stella.--Doctor, what is the matter in this house?

Doctor.--What do you mean, princess?

Stella.--Mr. Pretwic came to tell me good-bye. He was very much
changed and asked me to forgive him if he ever offended me.

Doctor (aside).--A sentimental ass.

Stella.--He said that he might be obliged to go away in a few days. I
have a presentiment that you are hiding something from me. What does
it mean? Do not torture me any longer. I am so miserable that you
should have pity on me.

Doctor.--Do not let anything worry you. What can there be the matter?
An idle fancy, that is all! The care of loving hearts surrounds you.
Why should you have such a wild imagination? You had better return to
your apartment and do not receive any one. I will come to see you in a

Stella.--Then truly there is nothing bad?

Doctor.--What an idea! Pray believe me, I should be able to remove
anything which would threaten your happiness.

Stella (stretching out her hand to him).--Oh, Mr. Jozwowicz, happiness
is a very difficult thing to take hold of. May only the peace not
leave us. (She goes to enter the room in which Anton is.)

Doctor.--This way, princess. Some one is waiting for me in that room.
In a moment I will come to see you. Pray do not receive any one.
Anton! (The princess goes out.)


Anton, Jozwowicz, then a Servant.

Anton.--Here I am. Poor child!

Doctor.--I cannot go for her sake. I must be here and not let the bad
news reach her, for it would kill her.

Anton.--What! and you, knowing this, you still expose her, and
sacrifice her for yourself?

Doctor (passionately).--I love her and I must have her, even if the
walls of this house should crumble around our heads.

Anton.--Man, you are talking nonsense.

Doctor.--Man, you are talking like a nincompoop, and not like a man.
You have plenty of words in your mouth, but you lack strength--you
cannot face facts. Who would dare say: You have no right to defend

Anton (after a while).--Good-bye.

Doctor.--Where are you going?

Anton.--I return to the city.

Doctor.--Are you with me or against me?

Anton.--I am an honest man.

A servant (enters).--A messenger brought this letter from Miliszewski.

Doctor.--Give it to me. Go (tears the envelop and reads) "Pretwic is
dead." (After a while) Ah--

Anton.--Before I go I must answer your question as to why I am going.
I have served you faithfully. I served you like a dog because I
believed in you. You knew how to use me, or perhaps to use me up. I
knew that I was a tool, but I did not care for that, because--But

Doctor.--You give up the public affair?

Anton.--You do not know me. What would I do if I were to give up my
ideas? And then, do you think that you personify public affairs? I
will not give up because I have been deceived by you. But I care about
something else. I was stupid to have cared for you, and I regret now
that I must tell you that you have heaped up the measure and used
badly the strength which is in you. Oh, I know that perhaps it would
be better for me not to tell you this, perhaps to hold with you would
mean a bright future for such a man as I, who have hardly the money to
buy food for my wife and children. But I cannot. Before God, I cannot!
I am a poor man and I shall remain poor, but I must at least have a
clear conscience. Well, I loved you almost as much as I loved my wife
and children, but from to-day you are only a political number--for
friendship you must look to some one else. You know I have no
scruples; a man rubs among the people and he rubs off many things; but
you have heaped up the measure. May I be hanged if I do not prefer to
love the people than pound them! They say that honesty and politics
are two different things. Elsewhere it may be so, but in our country
we must harmonize them. Why should they not go together? I do not give
up our ideas, but I do not care for our friendship because the man who
says he loves humanity, and then pounds the people threateningly on
their heads--that man is a liar; do you understand me?

Doctor.--I shall not insist upon your giving me back your friendship,
but you must listen to me for the last time. If there shall begin for
me an epoch of calamity, it will begin at the moment when such people
as you begin to desert me. The man who was killed was in my way to
happiness--he took everything from me. He came armed with wealth, good
name, social position, and all the invincible arms which birth and
fortune give. With what arms could I fight him? What could I oppose
to such might? Nothing except the arms of a new man--that bit of
intelligence acquired by hard work and effort. He declared a mute war
on me. I have defended myself. With what? With the arms which nature
has given me. When you step on a worm you must not take it amiss if
the worm bites you; he cannot defend himself otherwise. It is the law
of nature. I placed everything on one card, and I won--or rather it
is not I, but intelligence which has conquered. This force--the new
times--have conquered the old centuries. And you take that amiss? What
do you want? I am faithful, to the principle. You are retreating. I am
not! That woman is necessary for my happiness because I love her. I
need her wealth and her social position for my aims. Give me such
weapons and I will accomplish anything. Do you know what an enormous
work and what important aims I have before me? You wish me to tear
down the wall of darkness, prejudice, laziness, you wish me to breathe
new life into that which is dead. I cry: "Give me the means." You do
not have the means, therefore I wish to get them, or I shall perish.
But what now? Across the road to my plans, to my future--not only mine
but everybody's--there stands a lord, a wandering knight, whose whole
merit lies in the fact that he was born with a coat of arms. And have
I not the right to crush him? And you wish me to fall down on my knees
before him? Before his lordship--to give up everything for his sake?
No! You do not know me. Enough of sentiment. A certain force is
necessary and I have it, and I shall make a road for myself and for
all of you even if I should be obliged to trample over a hundred such
as Pretwic.

Anton.--No, Jozwowicz, you have always done as you wanted with me, but
now you cannot do it. As long as there was a question of convictions I
was with you, but you have attacked some principles which are bigger
than either you or I, more stable and immutable. You cannot explain
this to me, and you yourself must be careful. At the slightest
opportunity you will fall down with all your energy as a man. The
force you are attacking is more powerful than you are. Be careful,
because you will lose. One cannot change a principle: straight honesty
is the same always. Do what you please, but be careful. Do you know
that human blood must always be avenged? It is only a law of nature.
You ask me whether I am going to leave you? Perhaps you would like to
be given the right to fire on the people from behind a fence when it
will suit you. No, sir. From to-day there must be kept between us a
strict account. You will be a member of parliament, but if you think
we are going to serve you, and not you us, you are greatly mistaken.
You thought that the steps of the ladder on which you will ascend are
composed of rascals? Hold on! We, who have elected you--we, in whose
probity you do not believe--we will watch you and judge you. If you
are guilty we will crush you. We have elected you; now you must serve.

Doctor (passionately).--Anton!

Anton.--Quiet. In the evening you must appear before the electors.
Good-bye, Mr. Jozwowicz. (He goes out.)

Doctor (alone).--He is the first.


Jozwowicz. Jan Miliszewski.

Jan (appears in the half-open door).--Pst!

Doctor.--Who is there?

Jan.--It is I, Miliszewski. Are you alone?

Doctor.--You may enter. What then?

Jan.--Everything is over. He did not live five minutes. I have ordered
them to carry the body to Miliszewo.

Doctor.--Your mother is not here?

Jan.--I sent her to the city. To-day is election day and mamma does
not know that I have withdrawn, therefore she will wait for the
evening papers in the hope that she will find my name among those

Doctor.--Did no one see?

Jan.--I am afraid they will see the blood. He bled dreadfully.

Doctor.--A strange thing. He was such a good marksman.

Jan.--He permitted himself to be killed. I saw that very plainly. He
did not fire at Drahomir at all. He did not wish to kill Drahomir. Six
steps--it was too near. It was dreadful to look at his death. Truly,
I would have preferred to be killed myself. They had to fire on
command--one! two! three! We heard the shot, but only one. We
rushed--Pretwic advanced two steps, knelt and tried to speak. The
blood flowed from his mouth. Then he took up the pistol and fired to
one side. We were around him and he said to Drahomir: "You have done
me a favor and I thank you. This life belonged to you, because you
saved it. Forgive me," he said, "brother!" Then he said: "Give me
your hand" and expired. (He wipes his forehead with a handkerchief.)
Drahomir threw himself on his breast--it was dreadful. Poor Princess
Stella. What will become of her now?

Doctor.--For God's sake, not a word in her presence. She is ill.

Jan.--I will be silent.

Doctor.--You must control your emotion.

Jan.--I cannot. My knees are trembling.


The same. The prince leaning on Stella's shoulder, and Mrs. Czeska.

Prince.--I thought Pretwic was with you. Jozwowicz, where is Pretwic?

Doctor.--I do not know.

Stella.--Did he tell you where he was going?

Doctor.--I know nothing about it.

Czeska (to Jan).--Count, what is the matter with you? You are so pale.

Jan.--Nothing. It is on account of the heat.

Prince.--Jozwowicz, Pretwic told me--


(The door opens suddenly. Countess Miliszewska rushes in).

Countess.--Jan, where is my Jan? O God, what is the matter? How

Doctor (rushing toward her).--Be silent, madam.

Stella.--What has happened?

Countess.--Then you have not killed Pretwic? You have not fought?

Doctor.--Madam, be silent.

Stella.--Who is killed?

Countess.--Stella, my dearest, Drahomir has killed Pretwic.

Stella.--Killed! O God!

Doctor.--Princess, it is not true.

Stella.--Killed! (She staggers and falls.)

Doctor.--She has fainted. Let us carry her to her chamber.

Prince.--My child!

Czeska.--Stelunia! (The prince and Jozwowicz carry Stella. The
countess and Czeska follow them.)

Jan (alone).--It is dreadful. Who could have expected that mamma
would return! (The countess appears in the door.) Mamma, how is the

Countess.--The doctor is trying to bring her to her senses. Until now
he has not succeeded. Jan, let us be going.

Jan (in despair).--I shall not go. Why did you return from the city?

Countess.--For you. To-day is election day--have you forgotten it?

Jan.--I do not wish to be a member of parliament. Why did you tell her
that Pretwic was killed?


The same. Jozwowicz.

Countess and Jan together.--What news?

Doctor.--Everything is over. (The bell is heard tolling in the chapel
of the château.)

Jan (frightened).--What, the bell of the chapel? Then she is dead!
(Jozwowicz comes to the front of the stage and sits down.)


The same. Podczaski.

Podczaski (rushing in suddenly).--Victory! Victory! The deputation is
here. (Voices behind the stage) Hurrah! Hurrah! for victory!

Jozwowicz.--I have lost!


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