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Title: Fires of St. John - A Drama in Four Acts
Author: Sudermann, Hermann, 1857-1928
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fires of St. John - A Drama in Four Acts" ***

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Transcriber's Note:
  1. Page scan source:
  http://books.google.com/books?id=UM85AAAAMAAJ&printsec



[Illustration: _Miss Nance O'Neil_
_From a Sketch by J. J. Hazelton_]



                                FIRES OF
                                ST. JOHN



                          A DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS
                           FROM THE GERMAN OF

                           HERMANN SUDERMANN

                      _Author of "Magda," "The Joy
                    of Living," "Sodom's End," Etc._



                    AS PRESENTED FOR THE FIRST TIME
                        ON THE AMERICAN STAGE IN
                           BOSTON ON JANUARY
                              TWENTY-FIRST
                                NINETEEN
                                HUNDRED
                                   &
                                   4



                         Translated and Adapted
                          by CHARLES SWICKARD



                          BOSTON, JOHN W. LUCE
                           and COMPANY, 1904



                      COPYRIGHT NOTICE and WARNING

This play is fully protected by the copyright law, all requirements of
which have been fully complied with. In its present form it is
dedicated to the reading public only, and no performance may be given
without the permission of the publishers, owners of the acting rights.

¶ Copyright, 1903, by Charles Swickard.

¶ Copyright, 1904, by John W. Luce and Company.

¶ All rights reserved.



                            PUBLISHERS' NOTE


¶ This translation and adaptation of "Johannisfeuer" was made by
special permission from Herr Sudermann, and is the only authorized
English version.


                           *   *   *   *   *


¶ By arrangement with the publishers, Miss Nance O'Neil, who first
produced this play in English, as here given, will continue to use Mr.
Swickard's adaptation exclusively.



                           FIRES OF ST. JOHN
                    WAS FIRST PRESENTED IN ENGLISH,
                      IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, ON
                       JANUARY TWENTY-FIRST, 1904,
                        WITH THE FOLLOWING CAST


                           *   *   *   *   *


      Mr. Brauer                    Mr. George C. Staley
      Mrs. Brauer                   Mrs. Charles W. Brooks
      Gertrude                      Miss Blanche Stoddard
      George Von Harten             Mr. E. J. Ratcliffe
      An old Gypsy Woman            Miss Ricca Allen
      Haffner                       Mr. Norwell McGregor
      Mr. Paul                      Mr. Frederick Sullivan
      Katie                         Miss Fannie Cannon

                            and

      Marie                         Miss Nance O'Neil



                           CAST OF CHARACTERS

      Mr. Brauer              Proprietor of a large country estate
      Mrs. Brauer             His wife
      Gertrude                Their daughter
      George Von Harten       Their nephew
      An old Gypsy Woman
      Haffner                 Assistant Pastor
      Mr. Paul                Overseer
      Katie                   Housekeeper
      Servant Girl

                     _and_

      Marie                   A Foundling

            _Time of action, about 1880_

            _Place of action, Pomerania_ (_Prussia_)



                         THE FIRES OF ST. JOHN



                                ACT ONE

_Breakfast-room at the Brauer residence. The back wall is formed by
three glass doors, separated by marble pillars. Behind this, the
veranda is visible, and balustrade, hung with fine rug, and stairs,
leading into the garden. The glass doors have practical, solid wooden
shutters, with bars, fastening inside. Doors R. and L. Large table C.
with breakfast laid. Front, to the left, sofa, table and easy-chair. To
the right, sewing-machine, and basket filled with table-linen.
Old-fashioned photos and engravings on walls. Otherwise, well-to-do
family home._

_Time of day: Morning._


                              [Gertrude _busy at breakfast-table_.]

                                Brauer.

[_Enters with_ Paul, _from R_.] Confound it! Everything seems to go
wrong this morning!

                             [_Throws his cap on chair, angrily_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Happily_.] Good-morning, papa!

                                Brauer.

Morning, my child. Such carelessness! You ought to be ashamed of
yourself. If this thing had happened earlier in the season, out on the
meadows--but at this time of the year--!!! Oh! Confound it all,
anyway!!!!! It is inexcusable!!!

                               Gertrude.

What is the matter, papa?

                                Brauer.

The black cow has been overfed. But of course, when Marie is not about
to look after everything, things go to rack and ruin. Well, man, what
excuse are you going to make?

                                 Paul.

None, Mr. Brauer.

                                Brauer.

Now that's the most sensible thing you have said this morning. Here,
take a cigar and get to work; but mind! send for the veterinary surgeon
at once. Have you had breakfast?

                                 Paul.

Yes, sir!

                                Brauer.

Then what the devil are you waiting for?

                                 Paul.

I--I--I wanted to excuse myself, and----

                                Brauer.

[_Impatiently_.] It's all right! it's all right!

                                 Paul.

[_Remains--hesitatingly_.] G--Good-morning!!

                                Brauer.

Well?

                                 Paul.

I--I have something else to tell you----

                                Brauer.

Then out with it.

                                 Paul.


[_With a glance at_ Gertrude.] But----

                                Brauer.

H'm! Gertrude, darling, will you please see if it is still threatening
rain?

                               Gertrude.

Yes, papa!                            [_Goes out on the veranda_.]

                                Brauer.

Well?

                                 Paul.

[_Confidentially_.] The old hag has turned up again.

                                Brauer.

[_Alarmed_.] Wha---- The devil you say! H'm! Who--who has seen her?

                                 Paul.

She was seen begging in the village--and last night, one of my men
observed her creeping stealthily around the sheds yonder.

                                Brauer.

[_Scratching his head_.] Yes, yes! I had almost forgotten. She has
served her last sentence--fully five years!--we have been free from her
annoying presence and now, she has returned. Well, what does she want?

                                 Paul.

She has heard her daughter is about to be married, she says.

                                Brauer.

[_Laughs_.] _Her_ daughter? ha, ha! I see! no doubt she has learned of
Gertrude's betrothal. Well? and----

                                 Paul.

And so she has come to get her share of the wedding-cake--so she says;
but she dare not venture here.

                                 Brauer.

Well, I should advise her to keep a respectful distance. Take good
care, Mr. Paul, that she approaches no one of this house. Do you hear?
No one. I will see the constable myself; and perhaps we'll soon get rid
of her again. Good-morning.

                                 Paul.

Good-morning, Mr. Brauer.                                [_Exit_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Enters_.] Shall I pour your coffee, papa?

                                Brauer.

What? My little one looking after the breakfast, eh? Can you do all
that?

                               Gertrude.

Oh papa! if I couldn't do even that----

                                Brauer.

But Marie?

                               Gertrude.


Oh, of course--not as well as she--you must have patience with me,
papa!

                                Brauer.

Why certainly, my pet! [_Embraces her_.] And now, let me see--how many
days are you left to me?

                               Gertrude.

Only four more days, papa.

                                Brauer.

Now, you rascal! must you leave me? must you go and marry, eh? must
you?

                               Gertrude.

But papa, dear, it is all your own arrangement!

                                Brauer.

Of course, of course! what is a poor old man to do? Have you seen
George this morning? [Gertrude _shakes her head_.] Such sloth! He does
nothing but sleep, sleep, sleep.

                               Gertrude.

He worked until very late last night, papa. At dawn this morning I saw
his light still burning; and then it was past three o'clock.

                                Brauer.

Yes, I must admit, he is diligent and industrious--but also
stubborn--damned stubborn. [_The last is said almost to himself.
Aloud_.] Has mama been down?

                               Gertrude.

No, not yet.

                                Brauer.

And Marie? has she returned?

                               Gertrude.

She arrived by the early morning train.

                                Brauer.

And how nearly finished is the lover's nest, eh?

                               Gertrude.

Only one more trip to the city, I believe she said.

                                Brauer.

Well, and do you like the arrangement?

                               Gertrude.

I don't know, papa dear. I am kept entirely in the dark. It is to be a
surprise to me. Oh, I will like it very much indeed, I think.

                                Brauer.

And are you happy, my pet?

                               Gertrude.

Oh, papa, dear, I sometimes feel as if I didn't deserve all this
happiness.

                                Brauer.

Well, my dear, a housewife who calls these soft-boiled eggs, certainly
does not deserve such happiness.

                               Gertrude.

[_Embarrassed_.] I only boiled them about three-quarters of an hour----

                                Brauer.

Ha, ha, ha, ha!

                               Gertrude.

Oh, I beg your pardon, papa, I will----

                                Brauer.

There, there, I was only joking; never mind it. And Marie, I suppose,
is taking her rest now?

                               Gertrude.

If she only would do so. Papa, you must compel her to take a rest. No
one can endure such a strain. One day she is looking after this house,
and the next day she is in the city, furnishing our new home; and the
nights she passes on the train. I am sure she will break down.

                                Brauer.

Well, well, I will look after that.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Enters from L_.] Good-morning!

                                Brauer.

Morning! Well?

                               Gertrude.

[_Throws her arms around her mother_.] Good-morning, mama dear!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Caressing her_.] My sweet! my pet! only four more good-mornings, and
then----

                               Gertrude.

You must come to visit me soon, mama!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Crying_.] Visit? ah, yes!

                                Brauer.

No tears now, no tears, I beg of you! Tears on an empty
stomach--b-r-r-r-r-r, that's poison.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

My darling, who dressed your hair last night?

                               Gertrude.

The housekeeper.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

There! I knew Marie could not have done that. But do you know--Marie--a
few moments ago I opened her door softly, to see how she was resting,
and found her still fully dressed, just as she came from the train,
seated at the open window, a book in her lap, and staring out into
space.

                                Brauer.

Well, well, well! I thought her passion for novels had passed away long
ago.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

I've been thinking--we must watch her more closely.

                                Brauer.

She needs no one to watch over her! She is well able to take care of
herself; but we must spare her----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

But, Henry, just now--three days before the wedding--who could think of
sparing one's self?

                                Brauer.

Well, you know--h'm----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Henry, you know how I love the girl; but, good gracious, she is not our
own dear, sweet one----

                               Gertrude.

Oh, she is more than that, mama dear.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

You are entirely too modest, my darling.

                               Gertrude.

Well, just imagine, mama dear, she was going to be married--and I
remained at home----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Then we would retain our sunshine, our consolation, our---- [_Looking
at breakfast table with a questioning expression_.] But, children, I
can't understand----

                               Gertrude.

What, mama dear?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Gracious! Everything is so--so-- [_Topsy-turvy indicated by action_.]
If she is not going to sleep, she may as well come down here----

                               Gertrude.

[_Laughingly caressing her mama_.] There, you see, mama, dear, not even
a single meal can you eat without her.

                                      [George von Harten _enters_.]

                                Brauer.

Well, at last you have aroused yourself; you----

                                George.

[_Interrupts him, tapping his hand_.] There, softly, softly, dear
uncle; don't begin scolding so early in the morning.

                                Brauer.

Don't you think it's pretty near time to call me father, my boy?

                                George.

Not until after the wedding, dear uncle.--Good-morning, auntie.

[_Kissing her hand_.] Well, little one? [_Kissing her_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Leans on him lovingly_.] My George. [_Laughs suddenly_.] Oh, just
look! he is simply covered with hay!

                                George.

Then you may make yourself useful by brushing me off.

                                Brauer.

The hayloft seems to be your favorite sleeping-place lately.

                                George.

Sleep? Heavens! who could sleep in this weather? I roam about. Lord
knows where, over meadows and fields. Such St. John days!!! It's enough
to drive one mad. The days never seem to end. Late last night I was
sitting in front of my window. Said I to myself: "No sleep for me
to-night, until that cursed nightingale runs out of melody"--when
suddenly a meadow-lark announces the break of day--and there, it's
morning. To the left, the twilight: to the right, the dawn, peacefully
together. From glow to glow a new day arises. Children, I tell you, it
was beautiful. Give me a cup of coffee.

                                Brauer.

But, tell me! Are you going to remain here now?

                                George.

Why, certainly, until after the wedding.

                                Brauer.

But the propriety of such a thing----

                               Gertrude.

[_Imploringly_.] Oh, papa dear----

                                George.

Its immaterial to me. Under no circumstances do I desire to offend your
sense of propriety; but then I will stay down at the inn, as the
nearest place.

                                Brauer.

And in the morning you will bring us the house full of fleas.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

But, Henry----

                                Brauer.

Well, it's so.

                                George.

If you will allow me! The wedding was set for the twentieth; therefore
I obtained my first furlough from the nineteenth--and I trust you
realize that I can't change the dates to suit myself. I arrived on the
twentieth--and the wedding, of course--it was postponed.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

But, George dear, neither your home, nor anything else was ready.

                                George.

And besides, where am I to go? My own home is broken up; Marie has had
everything torn up. By the way, has she returned?

                               Gertrude.

[_Nods_.]

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Why, what's the matter? Have you two had another quarrel?

                                George.

No, certainly not; but I should not have allowed the girl to make a
drudge of herself for my sake. I almost wish I had remained at home.

                               Gertrude.

Why, she is not doing all this for your sake, but for mine.

                                George.

Now there, don't be conceited.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Caressing her_.] I think she has cause to be conceited.

                                George.

As my future wife, she certainly has cause to be that.

                                Brauer.

There, there, don't you overrate yourself.

                                George.

I don't, dear uncle; I am too practical for that.

                                Brauer.

So, so, you are too practical, eh? then what the devil possessed you to
leave this piece of paper on my desk? eh?

                                George.

Uncle, I beg of you, don't let us begin quarreling so early in the day.

                                Brauer.

[_Angry still_.] Very well, but what does it mean?

                                George.

It is simply a statement of my affairs. I am a free and independent
man, and that is to show you that I am not only willing but also able
to properly support my wife.

                                Brauer.

[_Still worked up_.] But I tell you----

                                 Marie.

[_Enters R_.] Oh--pardon me, papa--good-morning!

                               Gertrude.

[_Throws arms around her_.] Marie!

                                 Marie.

[_Kisses her_.] My darling!

                     [_She goes to_ Brauer _and kisses his hand_.]

                                Brauer.

You are back all right, I see! Here, here! [_Puts hand under her
chin_.] Head thrown back, I say--why, what's the matter? anything gone
wrong with you, eh?

                                 Marie.

[_Uncertain_.] N--no!

                                Brauer.

[_To his wife_.] Look at her--she is positively livid.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

What is the matter, my child?

                                 Marie.

Mama, dear, I sat up all night in the train and have had no sleep at
all.

                                Brauer.

And how much longer will it take you----?

                                 Marie.

Only one more trip to town,--but pardon me, papa, the new assistant
pastor is at the gate and----

                                Brauer.

Who?

                                 Marie.

The new assistant pastor.

                                            [Gertrude _snickers_.]

                                Brauer.

[_To_ Gertrude.] What are you laughing at?

                               Gertrude.

[_Pulling at_ Marie's _skirt and can hardly keep from bursting out
laughing_.] I--I--oh, I am not laughing.

                                Brauer.

[_To_ Marie.] But what does he want?

                                 Marie.

He says he does not wish to disturb the ladies so early in the morning,
and asks you to please come out----

                                Brauer.

Nonsense! tell him to come in.

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa.

                                George.

Good-morning, Marie.

                                 Marie.

Good-morning, George.                                    [_Exit_.]

                                Brauer.

Gertrude, come here. Now remember, my dear, such conduct is not at all
becoming to a full-grown young lady.

                               Gertrude.

My dear, sweet papa, I am so ashamed of myself--I--I'll never do it
again--never. But it's so funny--ha, ha, ha! he is gone on Marie----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

My dear, remember you are now a bride and it would be far more proper
to say----

                                George.

Smitten with her?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Somewhat reproachfully_.] George!!!

                                Brauer.

Sh, sh--silence!

      [_During following scene_, Marie _noiselessly clears off the
      table_.]

                                Pastor.

[_Enters_.] I should not have dared to annoy the ladies at this early
hour, if----

                                Brauer.

[_Laughingly_.] Eight o'clock is not so very early in the country, my
dear Pastor; you will soon learn that here.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

And how is the good old pastor?

                                Pastor.

[_Doubtfully shrugging his shoulders_.] Well!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Alarmed_.] He is not worse, I hope?

                                Pastor.

At the age of eighty, my dear lady, one cannot be said to be growing
stronger.

                                Brauer.

Ah, I see, Pastor, you are somewhat of a philosopher. Will you take
something?

                                Pastor.

You are very kind. A good glass of brandy is half the morning sun.

                                Brauer.

Now that is a manly word, Pastor.

                                Pastor.

Oh! thank you! Your health!                            [_Drinks_.]

                                Brauer.

Will you take something, George?

                                George.

No thank you, uncle, not now.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

When did you arrive, Pastor?

                                Pastor.

Just three weeks ago.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

And do you like our town?

                                Pastor.

Very much indeed, thank you. I find the whole world beautiful; but the
surroundings here are exceptionally so. Yes, this place to me seems
doubly attractive, for here every one seems smiling and happy----
Pardon me. Miss, you have dropped the napkin.

                      [Marie _smilingly bows her acknowledgment_.]

                              [Gertrude _exits, stifling a laugh_.]

                                Brauer.

Pastor, you will pardon this rudeness, she is still a child.

                                Pastor.

Oh, certainly, certainly; for she is right. I have not yet been able
to overcome my old tendency to play the gallant in the presence of
ladies--and in this frock--I know--I must look somewhat ridiculous.

                                Brauer.

Tell me. Pastor, how did you happen to obtain this position?

                                Pastor.

Well, you see, that, too, is partly connected with this coat. There
were four of us, classmates--who, after graduating, were eagerly
awaiting the call to save the sinful world--and among them, myself the
only one who was, what you might say, in fairly good financial
circumstances. We were now and then compelled, first one and then the
other, to present ourselves at the board of directors--and as a
consequence my coat suffered severely. Now it really never fitted any
one of my comrades and at my suggestion we finally purchased a coat,
that came nearer fitting each of us, striking a happy medium, as it
were, to every one's satisfaction. Then, about four weeks ago, an
ex-fellow-student--the curate of the cathedral--came to us, with this
information: "Ye holy men, list ye to me. In yon Lithuanian mountains
lives a minister of the gospel, who, on account of his extreme age and
feebleness, is incapacitated from properly performing his duties. And
as there are four of you, I propose that you draw straws and leave it
to chance who shall be the favored one." At that the others unanimously
declared: "No, he who has shared with us his clothing shall be the
favored one"--and--well, here I am and, I fear, not half as pious as I
look.

                                Brauer.

Ah, courage, Pastor, courage----

                                Pastor.

Pray do not think that I am ashamed of my calling; believe me, like our
Lord and Master, my heart aches for suffering humanity, and therefore
it has ever been my desire to follow in His footsteps. Besides,
it was my father's wish. You must know my father is a well-to-do
farmer--there are no really large estates in the lowlands--but he has
considerable--yes, I might say, a great deal of money--and owing to my
early surroundings, I'm afraid I am much better suited for a farmer
than a minister of the gospel. But I will not give up, and continue to
struggle and rid myself of all my bad habits. Your health!

                                Brauer.

Do you know, Pastor, I am beginning to like you! Do you wish to remain
here and take the old pastor's place?

                                Pastor.

I really would like----

                                Brauer.

Very well, my vote you shall have!

                                Pastor.

You are very kind, indeed. With such a position I should be quite
content, and to complete my happiness----but, by-the-bye, the object of
my visit was, really, the bridal-sermon. I am afraid our good old
pastor will not be able now----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Ah----

                                Brauer.

[_Simultaneously_.] Will not be equal to the exertion, you mean; ah--I
feared as much.

                                Pastor.

Therefore, if you will allow me--unless you desired some one else----

                                Brauer.

Pastor, if we had not already heard you in the pulpit I would deny your
request, point blank, as you are practically a stranger to us. But your
ways and sentiments please me, and therefore--what say you, wife? [_She
nods_.]--And you, George?

                                George.

Oh, I don't know; but unless I am very much mistaken, there is already
a great deal of sympathy between us, eh, Pastor?

                                Pastor.

Now I must confess that is rather meaningless, at least so far as I am
concerned; for my sympathy extends towards the whole world.

                                George.

At any rate I am glad----

                                Pastor.

[_Jestingly_.] Then will you kindly leave us for awhile? I desire to
inquire into your past record.

                                George.

[_Shakes his finger laughingly_.] With pleasure, if you promise not to
be too severe on me.                                     [_Exit_.]

                                Pastor.

Now, then, with your kind permission, I will take a few notes----

                                Brauer.

Certainly, Pastor!

                                Pastor.

This young gentleman, your nephew, is especially close to the family,
is he not?

                                Brauer.

Correct!

                                Pastor.

Pardon me, but may I ask in what way?

                                Brauer.

I will tell you. Pastor. It was in the year '67, when we had here in
East Prussia, a terrible drought--a year of distress and--do you
remember anything about it?

                                Pastor.

Very little, as I was then still quite young.

                                Brauer.

Ah, it was terrible! Potatoes and fodder rotted before ripening. Of
wheat and rye hardly a trace. We farmers, I tell you--! Then it was,
when my brother-in-law, the husband of my sainted sister, whose estates
were in the neighboring township yonder, realized one day his financial
ruin and with all his aristocratic pride--you understand--he saw no
other way--he resorted to the pistol--he committed suicide.

                                Pastor.

And the--your sister, still lives?

                                Brauer.

Thank God, no! but from that day----

                                Pastor.

Pardon the interruption; but I have heard your daughter, Miss Marie,
called "the calamity child" by some of the villagers. Has that any
connection with this year of distress?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

And you didn't know that, Pastor--how she came into our house? Well,
during that same terrible winter, we were returning one night, my
husband and myself, from the town, where we had at our own expense
erected a soup-kitchen--when suddenly, at the corner of the woods
yonder, where the road makes a sharp turn, our horses shied--and there,
in the middle of the road, we saw lying, a woman, with a child pressed
closely to her bosom. She refused to stir and begged us to put her out
of her misery. Of course, we took her into the sleigh at once--ah, she
was in an awful condition----

                                Brauer.

I tell you, Pastor, it was months before we could rid the blankets of
vermin.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

And the child, the poor little thing----! But after being bathed and
fed, and lying there, between the clean white covers, we both stood
over its bed--the little thing, with its pinched face, laughed at us
and stretched out its tiny hands--my husband said to me: "Wife, I
believe this is our share of all this sorrow and misery that heaven has
sent us."

                                Brauer.

For you must know. Pastor, that our own daughter, Gertrude was then
not yet born.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

No, not until three years later. Well, we bought the child from that
miserable, drunken woman, in proper, legal form--determined and glad to
get rid of her, for she did smell so of gin, I could not endure it any
longer.

                                Brauer.

That is what the worst drunkards in these parts prefer to brandy.

                                Pastor.

Unfortunately!!!

                                Brauer.

But to come back to my nephew----

                                Pastor.

Pardon me, another question. What became of the mother?

                                Brauer.

Ah, that is a bad story--and just to-day----

                                Pastor.

Yes----

                                Brauer.

Oh--nothing, nothing. Anyway--that woman really did return, and as we
did not want the child to see her, we gave her more money. Of course
she remembered that and so finally she became a positive plague.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Oh, Henry, I have often thought since, perhaps a mother's heart
prompted her----

                                Brauer.

You think so, eh? Then perhaps a mother's heart also prompted her to
steal at the same time! for every time she honored us with a visit,
something or other disappeared, until I grew suspicious, had her
watched, she was caught red-handed--and, of course, a long term in
prison was the result.

                                Pastor.

And the girl--does she know or suspect anything at all?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

We told her, her mother was dead. But one day she really did see her.

                                Pastor.

How did that misfortune happen?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

It was on her confirmation day, just as the girls left the church in a
body, when we heard a cry. What had happened? Why, that woman had been
lying in wait for the procession; when suddenly she appeared, seized
her child, and kneeling before her in the road, passionately covered
her hands and feet with kisses.

                                Pastor.

[_Shuddering_.] Horrible!!!!!!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

I tore the child from her arms, of course, and carried her into the
house. We had to make some kind of an explanation; a drunken vagabond,
I told her! Did she believe it?--H'm?--Then she fell ill----

                                Pastor.

And how is it now?

                                Brauer.

[_Humorously_.] Why, Pastor, you seem very much interested.

                                George.

[_Enters_. Gertrude _follows him in_.] I presume I am pretty well done
by this time.

                                Brauer.

We haven't even started with your case. The pastor is interested in
something of far greater importance.

                                Pastor.

[_With meaning and moved_.] You must not believe that, Mr. von
Harten; but there are lives whose fates are surrounded by so much
mystery---- [_with a glance at_ Marie, _who enters L. with package of
linen_.]

                                George.

[_Who follows his glance_.] Yes, yes, you are right.

                                Pastor.

If you will allow me, I will call again about the sermon.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Giving him her hand_.] Pastor, you know you are always welcome in
this house.

                                Brauer.

Give my regards to our good old pastor. Towards evening we will see
him, as usual.

                                Pastor.

Oh, I had almost forgotten! He desires me to ask you kindly, should you
again favor him with eggnog, to please add a little more sugar, for the
last was a trifle tart.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Why, of course, the poor old soul.

                                Pastor.

Do not say that, madame; for when the time has come when all our wishes
and hopes and desires are concentrated upon a small quantity of sweets,
our sufferings are near the end. And now, adieu. Miss Marie, adieu.

                                 Marie.

[_Preoccupied_.] Adieu.

                          [Pastor _exits, accompanied by_ Brauer.]

                                              [Gertrude _enters_.]

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Don't be afraid dear, no one will scold you.

                               Gertrude.

Oh mama, I'm so ashamed of myself. When he arrived he seemed so
jolly--and now--I am sure he is offended.

                                George.

He was not offended, dear, only a little grave.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

At any rate, what do you think of him, Marie?

                                 Marie.

[_Glancing up from her work, sorting linen_.] Of whom, mama dear?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Why, the new pastor.

                                 Marie.

Oh mama, my mind is so occupied, I hadn't given him a thought.

                               Gertrude.

[_Aside to_ George.] Now you tell her, George.

                                 Marie.

Gertrude, how about our manzanillo-tree--any blossoms this morning?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

You don't mean to say you haven't looked after that beloved tree of
yours this morning?

                                 Marie.

I have had no time, mama dear.

                               Gertrude.

[_To_ George.] Now tell her.

                                George.

Marie, both Gertrude and myself insist, that you cease this endless
drudgery for our sakes; it isn't right.

               [Marie, _humming, pays no heed--looks into space_.]

                               Gertrude.

See, she is not even listening.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

What's that you are singing?

                                 Marie.

I--? Was I singing?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Well then, humming.

                                 Marie.

Oh yes, last night at the station I heard a strange song--some one in a
fourth-class coach was singing. Listen. [_Sings_.]

"Zwirio czenay, zwirio tenay--kam'mano bernyczo--Rid wid wil dai
dai--Ne'r mano bernyczo."

                                George.

And the Lithuanian text--you memorized it just from hearing it?

                                 Marie.

Certainly.

                                George.

Well, where did you learn all that?

                                 Marie.

Why, I have always known it.

                                George.

And could you translate it readily?

                                 Marie.

Oh, it means nothing, really--[_makes one or two
attempts_.]--"here"--no!

"I look here and I look there--where may be my lover? Rid wid will dai
dai--Nowhere is my lover!"

                                Brauer.

[_Enters during this, unseen by her, puts arms around her. She
shrieks_.] There, there--[_caressing her_.] Patience, my darling, some
day you will have one--perhaps very soon. Why, what's the matter, dear?

                                 Marie.

[_Leans on him in tearless sobbing_.] Oh, you have frightened me so!

                                Brauer.

What is the matter with you this morning? What has happened?

                                 Marie.

I have already told you, nothing.

                                Brauer.

Tut, tut! something has gone wrong! I can see it--and now, I demand
that you tell me the truth.

                                 Marie.

Well, then--yes!

                                Brauer.

What is it? Come, come, out with it.

                                 Marie.

Some one attacked me.

                                Brauer.

Attacked you?

                                 Marie.

Not far from here.

                                Brauer.

As you came from the station?

                                 Marie.

Yes.

                                Brauer.

Well, I never--but everyone around here knows you and your character;
how did he look? was it a vagabond?

                                 Marie.

[_Hesitatingly._] N--No. It was--a gentleman----

                                Brauer.

Did he lay hands on you, or even try to touch you?

                                 Marie.

No.

                                Brauer.

But you say he attacked you?

                                 Marie.

Attacked me--yes!

                                Brauer.

You mean he followed you?

                                 Marie.

Yes.

                                Brauer.

How far?

                                 Marie.

As far as the gate, which I opened quickly and then he disappeared.

                                Brauer.

[_To the others_.] Now, what do you say to that? [George _shrugs his
shoulders_.] There is something queer about it all. [_To_ Marie.] And
that is what upset you so?

                                 Marie.

Oh, I am already much composed.

                                Brauer.

[_Raises her head_.] Yes--you look it.

                               Gertrude.

Oh, papa, don't torment her so.

                                Brauer.

Now, then, go and take a good nap.

                                 Marie.

Not yet, papa dear, I can't. I must speak with George first. About the
large bookcase--I really don't know where to place it.

                                Brauer.

But you can do that later, can't you?

                                 Marie.

I fear I might forget it.

                                Brauer.

Very well; I am going down to look after the cow. Will you come, wife?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Rising and putting up her handwork_.] Yes, dear.

                                Brauer.

[_To_ Marie.] And one thing more,--don't you put your foot outside of
the gate without an escort hereafter! Understand? Not once!

                                 Marie.

But why not, papa dear?

                                Brauer.

After what has happened? But I never heard of such a thing--never, as
long as I----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

But, Henry, in broad daylight, it is hardly necessary----

                                Brauer.

No matter; I have my reasons for that; besides--well, I'll tell you
later.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_In passing taps_ Marie _on cheek_.] Now, pet, go and take a good
rest.                                               [_Both exit_.]

                                 Marie.

You must go, too, Gertrude!

                               Gertrude.

[_Peevishly_.] But why should I?

                                 Marie.

You know, dear, your future home----

                               Gertrude.

Ah, yes; those stupid furnishings! Do you know, I don't think a wedding
half so much fun as Christmas. Now don't be long, will you? [_Exit_.]

                                                        [_Pause_.]

                                George.

Why so deep in thought, suddenly?

                                 Marie.

I--? Oh, I was thinking. I was picturing to myself that cosy little
nook, your corner room!

                                George.

Marie, dear, how can I ever thank you for all the----

                                 Marie.

Don't speak of it, George, for I take great delight in having the
furniture moved about; and then, I say to myself: "Here is where they
will take their tea, and there they will while away their leisure
hours"--so---- But, what I meant to tell you! Yesterday we had an
accident--the large mirror in the parlor was broken. I know it portends
ill----

                                George.

What care I, so long as our friendship will not be broken.

                                 Marie.

But why should it?

                                George.

It shall never be my fault, Marie.

                                 Marie.

Certainly never mine. But what I wanted to say,--I had the large
mahogany bookcase repolished. Is that satisfactory?

                                George.

Anything you choose to do is satisfactory to me.

                                 Marie.

[_Hesitatingly_.] And then--I must tell you, George, something
important. When I unpacked the bookcase, I found a blue manuscript.

                                George.

[_Unsuspecting_.] What kind of a manuscript?

                                 Marie.

George, you must not leave that lying around--not even hidden behind
the books, especially now, when you take your wife to your home.

                                George.

In heaven's name, what manuscript?

                                 Marie.

I believe--it contains some poems----

                                George.

You believe--it contains some poems. I have missed it since early last
winter; I thought I had lost it. Marie, now tell me truthfully, have
you read its contents?

                                 Marie.

N--no!

                                George.

Then why do you tell me not to leave it around?

                                 Marie.

Well, I read the first part, and had begun on the second, when I
concluded to go no further.

                                George.

And you really looked no further than the first? Absolutely no further?

                                 Marie.

No.

                                George.

Can you swear to that?

                                 Marie.

I can!

                                George.

Then swear!

                                 Marie.

I swear! Are you satisfied?

                                George.

Yes, thank heaven! But you must not imagine for a moment that the book
contains anything I am ashamed of; on the contrary, I consider it so
sacred I would not have it desecrated by a stranger's eye. About four
years ago, something occurred within me--within my soul. No one
knows--no one could even guess, and no one shall ever know.

                                 Marie.

No one? Not even I?

                                George.


No, not even you. But where is the book? Give it to me!

                                 Marie.

[_Turns up stage and takes it from her bosom_.] Here it is.

                                George.

How shall I ever thank you?

                                 Marie.

I want you to do me one favor. Will you promise me?

                                George.

If it's in my power, certainly!

                                 Marie.

Then I must first confess to you. A few moments ago, when papa
questioned me, I deceived him. I was attacked last night--yes--but not
by a man, but by a woman--a Lithuanian woman. George, that woman was my
mother!

                                George.

But I understood your mother was dead.

                                 Marie.

No, no; that is not so. Not one of you ever told me the truth. On the
day of my confirmation I was waylaid by that very same woman--I cannot
have been mistaken.

                                George.

Come, tell me, how did it happen?

                                 Marie.

I was walking along quietly--'twas already dawning--when suddenly a
gaunt form arose from the ditch beside the road. I looked, and saw
before me a miserable beggarwoman, who called out to me in a trembling
voice: "Marie--Madame--Daughter!" I turned cold in fear and horror,
and, unable to utter one sound, I began to run; and I ran, ran, ran,
and behind me I only heard her agonizing call: "My Marie--my daughter!"
And so, I ran away from my own mother. And now, after a few hours'
thought, I realize I did wrong. I must see her and speak to her, and
learn from her own lips who and what I am; and as papa has forbidden me
to leave this house--I would go in spite of him, but I have a fear--I
beg of you, George, dear, go to her, I implore you, find her for
me--she cannot be far away, and----

                                George.

And then?

                                 Marie.

Then bring her to me, into the garden, or, better still, into this room
towards evening, when papa and mama are calling on the old pastor----

                                George.

Marie, I cannot do that!

                                 Marie.

The first time I ask a favor of you--and you say you cannot do it?

                                George.

Marie, dear, listen to me! You have been so kind to me of late--and
that has not always been so; but if you had sacrificed for me even more
than your own comfort and rest, I--I could not do it--I could not
deceive your father and mother, for I fear the consequences.

                                 Marie.

Then can't you understand that, a foundling though I am, a desire might
come over me to see my own mother, though she be but a common beggar
and an outcast? That I might want to lay my head on her shoulder and be
petted and fondled, and cry myself to sleep on mine--on my own mother's
breast?

                                George.

Are you not fondled, are you not petted--has mama not always been kind
to you?

                                 Marie.

Yes, but it is not the same--not the same. Never have I felt the
desire, the demand within me for my own flesh and blood, as just now.

                                George.

But why just now?

                                 Marie.

[_Imploringly_.] Because my heart is bursting. Oh, George!

                                George.

I cannot. I dare not do it!

                                 Marie.

Then you refuse me?

                                George.

You know I must!!

                                 Marie.

Then have you forgotten what took place in there, in your heart, four
years ago?

                                                        [_Pause_.]

                                George.

Marie, you have read my manuscript!

                                 Marie.

Yes, I read it. Will you do it now?

                                George.

Marie, you have sworn falsely!!!

                                 Marie.

[_Shrugging her shoulders_.] Will you do as I ask?

                                George.

'Tis well! I will do as you ask!!!!

                                                      [_Curtain_.]



                         END OF THE FIRST ACT.



                                ACT TWO

_The same scene as Act I_.

[Marie, _seated, with some linen in her lap, at the sewing-machine,
looking dreamily out of the window_.]

                           Housekeeper Katie.

                                                    [_In door R_.]
May I come in, Miss Marie?

                                 Marie.

Oh, is that you? Yes, come in!

                                 Katie.

I see you are working on Miss Gertrude's wedding outfit. How beautiful,
fit for a princess. But what I wanted to ask you: Madame has given me
the menu for the wedding feast, and as to fish, it calls for carp. Now
you know I am economical, but carp--common carp----

                                 Marie.

Why, carp is a very fine fish----

                                 Katie.

Oh yes, and good enough for--say--your wedding feast; but not good
enough for Miss Gertrude.

                                 Marie.

For my wedding feast even carp is too good.

                                 Katie.

Oh no; carp is not too good for you, though it may be good enough--and
do you know I will prepare a special Polish sauce--but Miss
Gertrude--she must have deep sea fish. Now will you see Madame about
that, please?

                                 Marie.

Very well, I will speak to mama about it.

                                 Katie.

And you are not offended?

                                 Marie.

Oh no!

                                 Katie.

For, after all, you know, you are only a foundling.

                                 Marie.

Oh yes, I know.

                                 Katie.

But we all love you, Miss Marie, and----

                                 Marie.

Thank you. But have you seen Mr. von Harten this morning?

                                 Katie.

No, I have not! But I have some good news for you--the assistant pastor
has fallen deeply in love with you.

                                 Marie.

Yes?

                                 Katie.

And he is going to ask for your hand!!! I always said you were a lucky
girl. Just think, you may be a St. John's-bride.

                                 Marie.

And what is a St. John's-bride?

                                 Katie.

_You_ don't know that, Miss Marie? Well, I'll tell you. It is written
in the new seal of Solomonis: "Whoever shall give or receive their
first kiss on St. John's eve, their love is sealed and they will be
faithful unto death." So it is written in the new seal of Solomonis.

                               Gertrude.

                     [_Enter C., hands behind her, with bouquet_.]

Marie, I have something for you. No, first I want Katie to leave the
room. Go now, go!!!

                                 Katie.

Oh, I am going--I am going!!!!!!!!!                      [_Exit_.]

                               Gertrude.

Shut your eyes now! [Marie _does so, as_ Gertrude _holds bouquet to_
Marie's _face_.] Now what is it?

                                 Marie.

The tulip-tree! the first blossoms from our manzanillo-tree! It
blooms--it blooms!!! [_Burying her face in the flowers_.]

                               Gertrude.

Are you glad, Marie?

                                 Marie.

Yes, darling, so glad!!! Thank you!

                               Gertrude.

And do you know who picked them?--George!

                                 Marie.

For me?

                               Gertrude.

Why, of course, for you!

                                 Marie.

He--did this--for me?

                               Gertrude.

He would do even more than that for me, I am sure!

                                 Marie.

Oh yes, certainly! But where is he now?

                               Gertrude.

I don't know!

                                 Marie.

Did he say he had to go somewhere?

                               Gertrude.

Yes, he had to go out on the fields, he said--and that was quite some
time ago. I wanted to accompany him, I begged and begged, but he flatly
refused to let me go.

                                 Marie.

[_Breathing heavily_.] Oh!!!!!!!!

                               Gertrude.

I don't know how it is; but to-day he is acting so strangely. Papa has
asked for him several times--and do you know, dear, at times he is not
at all pleasant to me!

                                 Marie.

But why should he----

                               Gertrude.

That's just it! why should he? Oh, if I only knew--if I was only
certain he loved me--and then, another thing--I don't know if I should
tell you--I have a growing fear, some other girl will take him away
from me.

                                 Marie.

[_With forced laugh_.] Away from you, dear? how could that be possible?

                               Gertrude.

Oh yes, you may laugh; but at times, when he looks at me, I see a
strange look come in his eyes. Half affection--half pity--and I don't
want to be pitied! Why should he? Am I not happy?

                                 Marie.

[_Caressing her_.] Yes, dear; you ought to be very, very happy.

                               Gertrude.

But I cannot rid myself of the fear, perhaps he really loves another
and is only taking compassion on me! Oh, if I only knew----

                                 Marie.

But, my darling----

                               Gertrude.

For you see, I am still so young--and think, how ill-mannered I was
only this morning! I was so sorry afterwards--but I do love to laugh.
[_Laughs_.]

                                 Marie.

[_With strange y desperate tone of voice_.] And you shall
laugh--laugh--laugh--so--so!!!!!!!

                               Gertrude.

Mama, too, insists that my love for him is only that of a child and not
of a woman and a bride; but you see she would rather I'd not marry at
all and so remain at home with her all my life. But you will be good to
her, won't you? You will soon be her only one.

                                 Marie.

I----?

                               Gertrude.

Why yes!

                                 Marie.

I shall soon know whose only one I am!

                               Gertrude.

What are you saying?

                                 Marie.

[_As_ George _enters_.] There he is!

     [Gertrude _runs towards him_. Marie _takes a few steps, then
      hesitates and stops_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Pulling him, as she runs towards him_.] Oh, George!!! [_Then_]
Confound you!

                                George.

[_Reproachfully_.] _Gertrude!!!!!!_

                               Gertrude.

[_Crushed_.] Why, what did I say?

                                George.

[_Lovingly_.] Now listen to me, little one. Such language may be
excusable in your papa, but never in my bride.

                               Gertrude.

[_Pouting_.] Everything I say seems to displease you. You never find
fault with Marie! You can go and marry her!!!

                                George.

Marie does not want to marry me.

                                 Marie.

My very best thanks, George!

                                George.

For what?

                                 Marie.

[_Picking up bouquet_.] For this!

                                George.

Oh, don't mention it.

                                 Marie.

Were you out in the fields?

                                George.

Yes.

                               Gertrude.

Yes, papa is angry with you, too. He is looking for you!

                                George.

Oh yes--I know----! Well?

                                 Marie.

In what direction did you go?

                                George.

I have been everywhere.

                                 Marie.

And have you found----?

                               Gertrude.

What was he to find?

                                George.

Yes, what was I to find? But, children, your tulip-tree is certainly a
strange fellow. There he stands, blooming alone, like the last rose of
summer----

                               Gertrude.

My great-grandfather brought it from South America!

                                George.

[_To_ Marie.] And that is why you love it so, because it is so foreign
and strange?

                                 Marie.

[_Busy with linen_.] Perhaps!

                               Gertrude.

No, that is not the reason----

                                 Marie.

Well then, what is it?

                               Gertrude.

I'm going to tell on you. One day papa took her to the Opera, down in
the city; there they saw the African----

                                George.

"L'Africaine," you mean?

                               Gertrude.

Yes, yes, that's what she called it.

                                 Marie.

Gertrude, please don't----

                               Gertrude.

In that play occurs a poison-tree--I think----

                                George.

Yes, a manzanillo-tree!

                               Gertrude.

Yes, yes; and whosoever inhales the odor of its blossoms must die. And
do you know what she did? Oh, yes, I did the same--we would go to this
tree, smell of its blossoms, and lay down----

                                George.

To die?

                               Gertrude.

To die.

                                 Marie.

Now you can imagine, George, how long ago that must have been.

                               Gertrude.

Yes, it was long, long ago. But about four years ago, one day Marie
really wanted to die very badly.

                     [Marie _casts a frightened glance at_ George,
                      _who returns it thoughtfully_.]

                               Gertrude.

But we didn't.

                                George.

No, no, thank heaven. Now, little one, run along and tell papa that I
am here.

                               Gertrude.

Marie, will you come, too?

                                 Marie.

No; I think I will remain here a little while longer.

                               Gertrude.

Then I'll stay, too.

                                George.

Now, little one----

                                   [Gertrude _exits with a sigh_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Quickly and suppressed_.] Did you find her? [George _nods_.] Will she
come? Why don't you answer?

                                George.

Marie, when you exacted this promise from me this morning, I did not
realize what it meant. I had never seen your--I don't want to speak
that word--I had never seen this person until to-day. She must not come
to this house, secretly--she must not!!!

                                 Marie.

George!!!

                                George.

Take uncle into your confidence, at least.

                                 Marie.

No, no one--no one but you!!

                                George.

What do you want with her? You know you belong to this house. Here you
have everything your heart desires. Here you have love--here you
have----

                                 Marie.

[_Interrupts him_.] Bread! Why don't you say it? Yes, here I have
bread!

                                George.

I did not mean to say that.

                                 Marie.

No; but I did! And do I not earn it, as well as the little love I
obtain in this house? I am "The Calamity Child"--and I do not ask for
charity.

                                George.

You seem to be possessed of the very devil to-day!

                                 Marie.

Perhaps!

                                George.

I implore you, do not insist. I fear the consequence. You will see! for
whatever is done against nature, punishes itself.

                                 Marie.

And is it against nature when a child cries out for its own mother?

                                George.

She is not your mother; your mother is in this house.

                                 Marie.

Gertrude's mother is in this house, not mine. A mother must feel for
her child, she must see----

                                George.

Sh--sh!

                                               [_Enter_ Gertrude.]

                               Gertrude.

You two are continually talking in whispers; can't you tell _me_? It
makes me so unhappy!

                                 Marie.

[_Caressing her_.] But darling, it is all done for your sake!

      [_During this_, George _looks at her disapprovingly, while_ Marie
      _casts a timid glance at him_.]

                                Brauer.

[_Enters_.] At last you have come. Where in thunder have you been all
day? It almost seemed to me as if you were trying to avoid me!

                                George.

But, uncle----

                                Brauer.

Well, girls, have you prepared the pastor's eggnog?

                                 Marie.

Oh, I had entirely forgotten it.

                                Brauer.

Then see to it at once. And don't forget the sugar, you know.

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa.

                                Brauer.

And Gertrude dear, you can go and help her. It is time you were
learning to do something yourself.

                               Gertrude.

Yes, papa!

                                 Marie.

I hardly think it will be ready in time to take with you and mama.

                                Brauer.

Then bring it later--yourself.

                                 Marie.

[_With a glance at_ George.] Could not Gertrude bring it, papa? I have
so much work to do!

                               Gertrude.

No, no, papa!!!

                                Brauer.

Yes, yes, you shall!--bring it up when done; and mind, you remain at
the pastor's as long as your mother and I, this time. Understand?

                               Gertrude.

Oh, papa dear! The last time, the old pastor insisted upon holding my
hand in his so long; and they are so cold and clammy, so shriveled and
hairy, like the hands of the dead!

                                Brauer.

Come here, my child. Those hairy hands once christened you, and at your
confirmation the same shriveled hands were laid upon your head and
invoked for you the blessings of heaven; and would you, after all that,
refuse to hold them in your own warm young hands? My daughter, I do not
wish to hear that again. [_Kisses her_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Slowly has approached_ George. _Softly, aside to him_.] You will do
as I ask?

                                Brauer.

And now, leave us.

                                     [Marie _and_ Gertrude _exit_.]

"Now, then, comes your turn," says the stork to the worm.

                                George.

[_Looking after the girls, turns_.] I suppose so, but take a care,
uncle, I am not so easily digested.

                                Brauer.

We shall see! We shall see!

                                George.

What do you want with me? My financial condition is satisfactory. I
have a good position, and my future is assured. I desire to enjoy the
results of my own labors, not those of yours.

                                Brauer.

So, so!

                                George.

Yes, dear uncle. If you were so determined upon giving a large dowry,
you should have found another husband for Gertrude than myself.

                                Brauer.

[_Riled_.] Oh, hang you and your confounded pride!

                                George.

Yes, I am proud; and because of my pride and determination, and, I may
say, defiance, I have become what I am!

                                Brauer.

[_Rather arrogantly_.] And was there no diligence?

                                George.

That, also, was nothing but defiance.

                                Brauer.

I almost believe you are determined to create another rumpus, as you
did twelve years ago.

                                George.

If necessary, yes!

                                Brauer.

And was it necessary, even then?

                                George.


You ask me that question? When one day I came here, during vacation
from college, you insisted upon my attending your church. I refused.
You gave me my choice, either to do as you asked, or have my allowance
cut off. Then I resolved in my mind never to comply with your command,
in spite of everything. Oh, it is no pleasure to hunger, as I was
forced to do then; but you may believe me, as I stand before you now, a
free and independent man, I owe all of it to my stubborn confidence in
myself, looking neither to right nor left, but straight ahead, without
concessions, without falsehoods, always able to look every man straight
in the face. And this good conscience is my proudest possession. From
it do I draw all my strength, and I will never give it up.

                                Brauer.

Well, who the devil asked you to give it up?

                                George.

And one thing more. Of course, I belong to this house; fate has made it
my lot. Therefore it has ever been far from my mind to seek a wife
elsewhere, so strongly attached do I feel myself to this house; and
that would have been impossible, had I not from that day been a free
man. And now, dear uncle, you are at heart a good and kind man; but
your hand is heavy, and it must not lie upon me again as that of the
master. For that reason do I refuse to touch even one penny of the
dowry, now or any other time.

                                Brauer.

So, so! Then you are really afraid of me?

                                George.

Afraid of you? Bah!!!

                                Brauer.

And at heart you are nothing but a coward!!

                                George.

Uncle, I forbid you----

                                Brauer.

_You_ forbid me? Ha! This is my house, and here I am the master!

                                  [George _shrugs his shoulders_.]

                                Brauer.

Yes, yes; it seems to annoy you to have any one keep an eye on you and
your conduct----

                                George.

My life has been as an open book to this day.

                                Brauer.

But after to-day--what about that? Who can look into the future? Who
can look into your heart and read your thoughts? Who knows what may
happen over night, eh?

                                George.

Uncle, these are insults I will not endure, even from you----

                                Brauer.

_Well_! What then! Come on! [_Jumps up, facing him, ready to fight_.]

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Enters, ready to go out, dressed_.] Henry, what on earth have you
done to Gertrude? She is in her room, crying as if her heart would
break.

                      [Marie _has also come in with_ Mrs. Brauer.]

                                Brauer.

How is the eggnog getting on, Marie?

                                 Marie.

It is not quite done, papa!

                                Brauer.

Then let her have her cry; she can bring it up later.

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

And are you ready?

                                Brauer.

Ready for what?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Are you ready to go now?

                                Brauer.

Well, wait for me out on the veranda; we have something to settle
first, we two!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

What's the matter with George?

                                Brauer.

Oh, I have just asked him for an explanation, and that does not seem to
please him.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Caressing him_.] Don't you mind him, George dear. After the wedding
you can laugh at him.

                                Brauer.

Well, we shall see about that!!!

                                 [Mrs. Brauer _and_ Marie _exit_.]

                                Brauer.

We can't go on like this, for I fear the consequences; but,
nevertheless, I shall handle you without gloves.

                                George.

Well?

                                Brauer.

My child loves you. You are her ideal, her all, and the wedding must
take place. But tell me, what right have you to all this pride--I might
even say arrogance?

                                George.

Must I perhaps ask your permission----?

                                Brauer.

That is the same old defiance, the same unreasonable stubbornness of
your father's!!!!!

                                George.

[_Starts_.] My father has been dead these twenty years--what do you
want of him now?

                                Brauer.

What do I want of him? That he left you to me, to bring up from
childhood, I will hardly mention; although that ought to be sufficient
to temper your untamable pride--at least towards me; but----

                                George.

Uncle, you may abuse me as much as you please, but my father I will not
have disturbed! My father--you shall let him rest in peace!

                                Brauer.

And who was it--who took care--who made it possible, that he could rest
in peace?

                                George.

Uncle, what do you mean?

                                Brauer.

Well then, who was it, when he laid there, dead, before us, who paid
his debts of honor and saved your father's name from disgrace?

                                                        [_Pause_.]

                                George.

Uncle, you should not have said that!

            [_Sinks in chair and covers his face with his hands_.]

                                Brauer.

My boy----[_Emotion stops him from saying more--walks about_.] See
here----[_Again the same--tries to light a cigar, breaks it and throws
it away_.]

                                George.

You should not have said that, uncle! No, no----

                                Brauer.

My God, you knew of it?

                                George.

Yes, I knew of it, and yet you should not have said it; you should not
have repeated it. Twelve years ago, in our quarrel, when you raised
your whip to me--and I reached for the carving-knife--no, no--I should
not have done that. You should not have raised your whip, nor I the
knife. That is the reason I refused anything from you at all. Now you
know it. From that day I swore to scratch the gold from the ground
with my finger nails and fling it in your face. From that day I hated
you--and rightly so!

                                Brauer.

And all that because I saved your and your father's name from dishonor
and disgrace?

                                George.

_No!_ But because you turned that same deed into a weapon to crush my
youthful pride.

                                Brauer.

My boy, one uses the weapon nearest to hand.

                                George.

[_Bitterly_.] Even if it is only a whip. But then, I see my mistake. I
have no right to pride; my fatherly inheritance does not permit it.
Give me your gold! I'll take it! All--all!

                                Brauer.

No, no; in your present state of mind I will force nothing on you. You
might again turn to hating me.

                                George.

Ah no, dear uncle, that is past. Hereafter, I will swallow my pride.

                                Brauer.

My boy----

                                 Marie.

[_Enters_.] Pardon me papa, but mama asks, if you are not yet ready to
go?

                                Brauer.

[_With a glance at_ George.] Well, as far as I am concerned, I am ready
now! [_Takes his hat_.] Marie, give him a glass of brandy to brace him
up. [_Goes to door and returns_.]. George?

                                George.

Uncle? [Brauer _offers his hand_.] My hand I cannot refuse you.

                                Brauer.

[_Goes to door. In door_.] Yes, and your heart, too, I will win
again--or I'll be damned!!!!

                                         [_Exits, slamming door_.]

                                 Marie.

What did he say to you, George?

                                George.

Do not ask me, do not ask me! [_Walks about_.] All these years I have
struggled and deprived myself with only one thing in view--to be
free--free--and yet I must bow--I must bow. If it were not for the sake
of this beautiful child, who is innocent of it all, I would be tempted
to---- But the die is cast, the yoke is ready--and so am I!!!!!!!

                                 Marie.

[_Softly and hesitating_.] But, George, dear, here in this house, I see
nothing for you but love--the yoke seems so light----

                                George.

How pious and tame you have suddenly become!

                                 Marie.

I am not pious.

                                George.

What was that you said a few moments ago? "I am the calamity child. I
am the child of misery; but I do not ask for charity." That is what you
said of yourself, and it is also true of me. I, too, am a child of
misery, a calamity child; but I am a subject of charity. I accept all
they have to give--all--all--ha, ha, ha----!

                                 Marie.

You, George, a calamity child?

                                George.

Yes! Was I not picked up from the street, as my uncle so kindly
informed me for the second time--like yourself? Do I not belong to this
house, and am I not smothered with the damnable charity of my
benefactors, like yourself?

                                 Marie.

I receive my share with thanks.

                                George.

And you enjoy serving----

                                 Marie.

I enjoy serving!!

                                George.

But I--I wish to rule--to command!!!

                                 Marie.

And you shall rule--you shall command----

                                George.

[_Walking about and ironically_.] Ah yes!!!

                                 Marie.

[_Timidly_.] George?

                                George.

Well?

                                 Marie.

[_The same_.] Pardon me; but have you forgotten--?

                                George.

Oh, I see!

                                 Marie.

I know it is wrong in me to annoy you at this time, when you are so
occupied with affairs of your own---- Besides, you have already refused
me once----

                                George.

Wha--yes, now in spite of them all, I am my own master. I am
responsible to no one. I have promised you--I shall keep my word!!!!!

                                 Marie.

Thank you, George!

                                George.

Oh, don't thank me----



                                 Marie.

Where is she now?

                                George.

She is waiting, behind yonder garden hedge.

                                 Marie.

My God! Do not keep her waiting any longer; call her in here.

                                George.

Gertrude is still in the house.

                                 Marie.

I will get her out of the way. When I appear out there on the veranda,
the coast is clear!!

                                George.

Marie, for your own sake, I warn you for the last time; discovery means
certain disaster.

                                 Marie.

One disaster more or less, it matters little!

                                George.

Is that your last word? Very well, I will bring her to you. [_Gets his
hat and goes out centre door_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Opens door L. and calls out_.] Gertrude! Gertrude!

                                      [_A door is heard to open_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Outside with crying voice_.] What is it?

                                 Marie.

Come quickly, or papa will be angry!

                               Gertrude.

[_After a moment's pause_.] I am coming! [_Another short pause and she
appears in door_.]

                                 Marie.

How red your eyes are! You have been crying! What's the matter, dear?
[_Caressing her_.]

                               Gertrude.

Where is George?

                                 Marie.

[_Lightly_.] He went out again a few moments ago.

                               Gertrude.

And he didn't ask to see me?

                                 Marie.

He heard you were crying and did not want to disturb you.

                               Gertrude.

But, Marie, what is the matter with your own eyes? And you look so
queerly----

                                 Marie.

My pet, they are the eyes that God has given me and----

                               Gertrude.

[_Suspiciously_.] What?

                                     [_A knock at door is heard_.]

                                 Marie.

Come in!

                             Maid Servant.

[_Enters with basket_.] Here are the eggnog and cakes, for the pastor.
Now be careful and don't crush them!

                                 Marie.

Very well!

                                                 [_Exit_ Servant.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Taking basket_.] Good-bye, Marie!

                                 Marie.

Good-bye, Gertie dear!

                          [Gertrude _starts towards centre door_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Frightened_.] Where are you going?

                               Gertrude.

I am going through the garden across the fields; perhaps I will meet
George.

                                 Marie.

[_Concerned_.] No, no; you must not walk across the fields alone. Papa
has forbidden it.

                               Gertrude.

But I may meet George.

                                 Marie.

But if you shouldn't, what then? No, no, I will not allow it! I will
not! I had such a fright last night.

                               Gertrude.

[_Goes up to the other door and turns back once more_.]
Marie, you are not angry with me?

                                 Marie.

[_Embracing her_.] My darling!!!

                               Gertrude.

Then I will go that way! [_Looks all around_.] Give my love to George!

                                 Marie.

But I won't see him, dear----

                               Gertrude.

Well, perhaps you may!

                                 Marie.

In that case, I will tell him----

                               Gertrude.

Very well.

                                                       [_Exit R_.]

    [Marie _goes out on veranda--gives sign--returns--locks doors R.
      and L.--then at C. door--in terror, with searching eyes, she
      slowly retreats backwards, her eyes glued on the outer
      darkness--until she finally covers her face with her hands, and
      is standing against the wall_.]

                                George.

[_Enters_.] Here she is!!

                                 Gypsy.

[_Enters_. George _goes out on veranda, looking off_.] Mine lady, mine
daughter--yes--don't be afraid. Oh, you are such a fine lady--you have
lover--you marry, they say----?

                                 Marie.

[_Forcing herself to speak_.] No; I'm not to be married! It is
Gertrude, my foster sister.

                                 Gypsy.

You no marry, eh? Never mind--you marry some day--some day [_Examining_
Marie's _dress with her fingers_.] What a fine dress you have, and all
wool---- [_Same with apron_.] Oh, and a silk apron--all silk! Give me,
give me?

                       [Marie _takes it off and gives it to her_.]

                                 Gypsy.

Thank you--thank you!!! [_Kisses_ Marie's _sleeve and dress, but when
she would kiss her hand_, Marie _withdraws it quickly_.]

                                 Marie.

No, no! _Ne dosu ranka!_

                                 Gypsy.

All right, all right! You are fine lady. [_Looks about_.] Is the old
man home, eh?

                                 Marie.

No, he is out.

                                 Gypsy.


That is good, that is good! He is an old devil--is the old man! All
Prussians are devils. But he have fine house, he have! Like a prince!!!
[_Rubs her hand over table cover_.] Ah, nice shawl that would
make---- [_Sees linen_.] And what fine linen--[_Motions to_ Marie.] Come
here!

                                 Marie.

[_Approaching her_.] What do you want?

                                 Gypsy.

[_Pointing with thumb_.] Give me an drink--just an little drink!
[_Indicates with finger and thumb_.]

                [_While_ Marie _turns to sideboard, she quickly
                  takes two or three pieces of linen and with
                  left hand holds them hidden under her apron_.]

                                 Gypsy.

[_After taking drink from Marie_.] Thanks, mine daughter, thanks!
[_After drinking, rubs her stomach_.] Ah, that's good, that's
good!--Give me another! [Marie _fills another glass for her--she drinks
it_.] Thank you, thank you!! But now I must be going!

                [_In her anxiety to get out she drops one piece, while
                  going to the door_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Horrified_.] Mo--mo--what were you trying to do?

                                 Gypsy.

[_Pretending surprise_.] My, my--just see! I found this out on the
field. [_Picks it up and puts it under her arm_.]

                                 Marie.

Put that down, it is not yours.

                                 Gypsy.

[_Doing so_.] All right, all right--my--my--my----

                                 Marie.

Put down all you have!

                                 Gypsy.

I have no more, no, no more, I swear!

                                 Marie.

[_Goes quickly to door and calls_.] George!

                                George.

[_Enters._] Well?

                                 Marie.

Give me some money! [_He gives her a gold piece_.] [Marie _to her
mother_.] Here, here is money; now give me the linen----

                                 Gypsy.

[_Takes the money as she gives up the linen, greedily_.] A ducat! A
whole ducat! A golden ducat! Mine daughter, thank you!

                                 Marie.

And now, go!

                                 Gypsy.

[_Goes anxiously to the door_.] Alright, alright!!!

                     [_Throws a kiss to_ Marie, _and quick exit_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Quickly takes key from board_.] George, take this key and lock the
garden gate after her, so she does not return.

[George _exits_. Marie _looks after them, then slowly returns to the
table, leans against same, and stares vacantly. Knock is heard at door
L_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Mechanically_.] Come in!

                                Servant.

[_Trying the door from the outside_.] The door is locked!

                                         [Marie _opens the door_.]

                                Servant.

[_Enters with dishes_.] It is time to lay the table for supper--will
you help me, please? Why, what's the matter? You are not listening to
me----

                                 Marie.

Never mind, Lena, I will set the table myself!

                                Servant.

Will you? Very well!!! [_Exit_ Servant.]

                                George.

[_Enters. To_ Marie, _who does not stir_.] Remember what I told you.
But come, come, this will never do! Don't stare at me like that----

                                 Marie.

[_Leaning on him and weeping_.] Oh, George!

                                George.

[_Stroking her hair_.] That's it, dear, the tears will relieve you! Ah,
I well know the anguish of an aching heart!

                                 Marie.

Yes, you know, you know all! Now I have no one in this whole world but
you--you alone. [_As she bursts out crying she throws herself on his
breast_.]

                                George.

[_Stroking her hair_.] Yes, yes; we two understand each other. We two
were meant, were intended for each other. Were we not, dear?

                                 Marie.

My God! Yes!!

                                George.

And we will ever remember this day--the day that brought us together.
It is the day before St. John's Eve. Will you remember it, dear?

  [_Short pause_. Marie _silent, then struggles to free herself_.]

                                 Marie.

Don't, George! Go away! Please don't!

                                George.

[_Embarrassed_.] But why should I suddenly go away, Marie?

                                 Marie.

Go, George, I beg of you! I must lay the table!! Now go!

                                George.

Marie, you said yourself you had no one but me!

                                 Marie.

If you do not want to despise me, please go----

                                George.

[_With forced laugh_.] I despise you? Very well--I'll go----

           [_Turns once more in the door and hesitatingly exits_.]

                                   [Marie _breaks down, weeping_.]

                                                      [_Curtain_.]



                         END OF THE SECOND ACT.



                               ACT THREE

_Same setting. Above the centre table a lighted hanging-lamp. Another
lamp on table, L. The glass doors to garden are open. Full moonshine
falls partly into the room. At rise of curtain, at table, L., are_
Brauer, Mrs. Brauer _and_ Pastor. _At centre table_, Gertrude _and_
George. _It is evening_.


                                Brauer.

Now, then, tell Marie to bring the bowl!

                                Pastor.

Ah! you are going to have a bowl?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Why, of course, Pastor. This is St. John's Eve. The villagers will set
off tar-barrels and bonfires, and we will celebrate it with a bowl.

                                Brauer.

[_Mischievously_.] But perhaps this festival is too heathenish for the
clergy----

                                Pastor.

Bless you, that all depends. If you have not the clergy's sanction,
then it is wicked and heathenish----

                                Brauer.

But if they are invited, then it is Christianly and good? Ha, ha----!

                                Pastor.

Well, I did not say that. You had better apply to the consistory, they
are better able to decide that point.

                                Brauer.

Ah, Pastor, you are a diplomat. Well, what are you two doing over
there? You are not saying a word.

                               Gertrude.

George is too lazy. He is drawing little men, and I am writing.

                                Brauer.

In his place I think I would prefer to draw little women. Eh, Pastor?

                                George.

Just as you say, uncle!

                                Brauer.

[_Aside_.] What the devil is the matter with him to-day? Come,
children, be jolly, this is St. John's Eve! Ah, here is the punch! Now,
then, Gertrude, lend a hand!

                  [Marie _has entered with the bowl and glasses_.]

                               Gertrude.

Yes, papa.

                                Brauer.

[_Drinks_.] Excellent, Marie! Superb! I tell you, Pastor, whoever gets
her for a wife will be a lucky man indeed.

                               Gertrude.

[_With a glass to_ George, _who has gone back and is looking out_.]

Don't you want some, George?

                                George.

[_Caressing her, with a shy glance at_ Marie.] Why, yes, little one,
thank you! Look, how bright and beautiful the moon shines to-night!
Everything wrapped as in silvery spider web! How beautiful!

                                 Marie.

[_Oppressed_.] They will soon set off the bonfires.

                                Brauer.

See, see--at last you have spoken; I feared you had lost your tongue.
Come here, my child. Get your glasses, all of you---- Your health! The
Pastor shall give us a toast; yes, yes, Pastor!--a genuine pagan toast,
well suited to this night! Now, tell me, my child, are you obliged to
go to the city again to-night?

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa dear.

                                Brauer.

But if I will not allow it?

                                 Marie.

You gave your permission quite two weeks ago, papa dear!

                                Brauer.

But not to go in the middle of the night!

                                 Marie.

I must go, papa. The men are to be there at seven in the morning, and
if I am not there to give instructions the house will never be finished
in time.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Never mind, Henry, there is no help for it.

                                Brauer.

But look at her!

                                 Marie.

Why, papa, there is nothing the matter with me. I am well and merry----

                                Brauer.

You are merry, eh? Let me hear you laugh!

                                 Marie.

[_Tries to laugh_.] Ha, ha, ha----!

                                Brauer.

[_Imitating her_.] Yes, yes--ha, ha, ha----!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Come here, my child. [_Strokes her hair_.] Did you sleep well last
night?

                                 Marie.

Yes, mama.

                                Brauer.

But if this stranger should attack you again?

                                Pastor.

Pardon me, but what do I hear?

                                Brauer.

Oh, nothing of importance, Pastor. [_To_ Marie.] You will take the one
o'clock train----

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa.

                                Brauer.

There is another--at four--t'will be daylight then----

                                 Marie.

But I would not reach the city in time.

                                Brauer.

Very well, you needn't go to bed, then. George can take you to the
depot.

                                 Marie.

[_Startled_.] George?

                                George.

[_Startled and simultaneously_.] What--I?

                                Brauer.

Certainly! Why not?

                                Pastor.

Pray do not think me obtrusive; but I am at your service.

                                Brauer.

No, no, thank you. Pastor; your time will come some other day.
[_Aside_.] It will at least give him something to do. [_Meaning_
George.]

                               Gertrude.

I want to go too, papa! I love moonshine promenades.

                                Brauer.

No, no, my pet. In the first place, it is very improper for lovers to
be out so late at night, without a chaperon.

                                 Marie.

I would much prefer to go alone. I am not at all afraid--and I do not
wish to trouble George--or any one else----

                                Brauer.

Any one else is out of the question, for in this house every one rises
at five in the morning. [_To_ George.] Now, then, what excuse have you
to offer?

                                George.

Excuse? I? Why, none at all, except that she does not want me to go.
You heard it yourself!

                                Brauer.

Have you two been quarreling again?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Don't insist, Henry, if they don't want to----

                                Brauer.

By the way, send for Mr. Paul--I wish to speak to him. Pastor, your
health! [_Drinks_.]

      [_At this_ Marie _and_ Gertrude _go to door C., and speak to
        some one outside in pantomime. A voice is heard_.]

                                 Voice.

Mr. Paul! Mr. Paul!

                                 Paul.

[_From behind scene_.] I am coming in one moment! [_Short pause. He
enters_.] Here I am!

                                Brauer.

Ah, there you are! Give him a glass of punch!

                                 Paul.

Thank you, I have just had a glass of beer.

                                Brauer.

Very well! Now, don't let us disturb you, children! Pastor, this is the
time to prepare your toast. [_Aside to_ Paul.] Well, have you learned
anything of this stranger?

                                 Paul.

Not a sign of one, excepting two tramps at the inn, the gendarme placed
under arrest; but that was the day before yesterday.

                                Brauer.

H'm! If I had ever had the slightest reason to doubt her
word---- Marie, my child, come here to me.

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa!

                                Brauer.

[_Looks at her sharply_.] Never mind, now.

                                 Paul.

[_Aside to_ Brauer.] By the way, I saw the old woman again!

                                Brauer.

Sh! not so loud! Where?

                                 Paul.

She had money, too----

                                Brauer.

I wonder where she stole it?

                                 Paul.

I wonder! The innkeeper said she had a gold piece. But don't you worry,
Mr. Brauer. She will soon give us cause to have her locked up again.
She is incorrigible!

                                Brauer.

Does she sleep at the inn?

                                 Paul.

No, sir! At night she leaves there, only to reappear in the morning.

                                Brauer.

H'm! that would almost be sufficient reason---- George!

                                George.

Uncle?

                                Brauer.

I have changed my mind. You must accompany Marie!

                                George.

Just as you say, uncle!

                                Brauer.

And no quarreling this time, Marie!

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa.

                               Gertrude.

[_On the veranda_.] There, there, look! The first bonfire!!

      [_Singing and laughter is heard in distance. A red glow is
        seen_.]

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Have you taken care, Mr. Paul, to keep them far enough away from the
sheds?

                                 Paul.

Yes, Mrs. Brauer!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

For you must know. Pastor, last year the sparks came very near setting
fire to the straw roofs.

                               Gertrude.

There is a second one now, and there on the hill, another. See, George,
see! How beautiful!

                                George.

Yes, yes, darling, I see!

                               Gertrude.

[_Pulls him forward softly_.] Why do you call me darling to-day?

                                George.

Well, shan't I?

                               Gertrude.

Oh, of course; but do you love me more to-day?

                                George.

I love you always, my pet!

                               Gertrude.

[_Softly and with emotion_.] But you usually call me "little one," and
to-day nothing but "darling."

                                Brauer.

Now, then, Pastor, we are ready for the toast! Take up your glass, and
fire away!

                                Pastor.

I am afraid it will be hardly as wicked and heathenish as you seem to
expect.

                                Brauer.

Come, come, Pastor, don't keep us waiting!

                                Pastor.

Well, what shall I say? I am not going to preach you a sermon!

                                Brauer.

No, no, Pastor; we are content to wait for that till Sunday.

                                Pastor.

Well, then, you see, on a beautiful and dreamy night like this--may I
say dreamy?

                                Brauer.

You may, Pastor, you may!

                                Pastor.

For we all dream at times, more or less, both young and old!

                                Brauer.

Ah, yes! that is a failing we all have!!!

                                Pastor.

On such a dreamy night, different emotions are aroused within us. We
seem to be able to look into the future, and imagine ourselves able to
fathom all mystery and heal all wounds. The common becomes elevated,
our wishes become fate; and now we ask ourselves: What is it that
causes all this within us--all these desires and wishes? It is _love_,
brotherly love, that has been planted in our souls, that fills our
lives; and, it is life itself. Am I not right? And now, with one bound,
I will come to the point. In the revelation you will find: "God is
love." Yes, God is love; and that is the most beautiful trait of our
religion--that the best, the most beautiful within us, has been granted
us by _Him_ above. Then how could I, this very evening, so overcome
with feeling for my fellow-man--how could I pass _Him_ by? Therefore,
Mr. Brauer, no matter, whether pastor or layman, I must confess my
inability to grant your wish, and decline to give you a genuine pagan
toast----

                                Brauer.

[_Grasps his hand_.] That was well spoken, Pastor! Pardon me, I was
only jesting!

                                George.

No, no, dear uncle, not altogether. There I must defend you against
yourself. A devout and pious man like yourself, t'was not entire
wantonness, your desire to hear something other than religious, and
since the Pastor has so eloquently withdrawn, I will give you a toast.
For, you see, my dear Pastor, something of the old pagan, a spark of
heathenism, is still glowing somewhere within us all. It has outlived
century after century, from the time of the old Teutons. Once every
year that spark is fanned into flame--it flames up high, and then it is
called "The Fires of St. John." Once every year we have "free night."
Then the witches ride upon their brooms--the same brooms with which
their witchcraft was once driven out of them--with scornful laughter
the wild hordes sweep across the tree-tops, up, up, high upon the
Blocksberg! Then it is, when in our hearts awake those wild desires
which our fates could not fulfill--and, understand me well, dared not
fulfill--then, no matter what may be the name of the law that governs
the world on that day, in order that that one single wish may become a
reality, by whose grace we prolong our miserable existence, thousand
others must miserably perish. Part because they were never attainable;
but the others, yes, the others, because we allowed them to escape us
like wild birds, which, though already in our hands, but too listless
to profit by opportunity, we failed to grasp at the right moment. But
no matter. Once every year we have "free night." And yonder tongues of
fire shooting up towards the heavens--do you know what they are? They
are the spirits of our dead and perished wishes! That is the red
plumage of our birds of paradise we might have petted and nursed
through our entire lives, but have escaped us! That is the old chaos,
the heathenism within us; and though we be happy in sunshine and
according to law, to-night is St. John's night. To its ancient pagan
fires I empty this glass. To-night they shall burn and flame up
high--high--and again high! Will no one drink to my toast?

                                                        [_Pause_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Trembling_.] I will!

           [_They look into each other's eyes and clink glasses_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Hesitatingly_.] I, too, George!

                                George.

[_Stroking her hair sadly, patronizing_.] Yes, yes; you, too.

                                Brauer.

[_Suddenly bursting out_.] You--you idiots! What do you know about it,
anyway? I--I didn't understand it myself, but I have a presentiment
there is something sinful about it all!

                                Pastor.

My dear Mr. von Harten, above all your heathenism watches our good old
God, our Father, and therefore I fearlessly drink to your toast.

                                Brauer.

Well, well, I'll not be the only exception. [_Drinks also. A glow much
nearer, behind the trees. Louder yelling and laughter_.] Well, what is
it now?

                                 Paul.

They are dangerously near the sheds now.

                                Brauer.

Didn't I tell you to take the proper precautions?

                                 Paul.

I did. They had only three tar-barrels early this evening. Where they
got the fourth from, I don't know.

                                Brauer.

I'll wager they found the barrel of axle-grease! Why didn't you lock it
up?

                                 Paul.

You know yourself, on this day no lock or key is of any avail.

                                Brauer.

Don't talk nonsense, but see what's to be done. I will be there myself,
presently. Be quick! [Paul _exits_.] I can't depend on anybody these
days! Where is my hat? [Marie _gets it_.]

                               Gertrude.

Can't we go, too, papa?

                                Brauer.

Will you come, wife?

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Yes, gladly, but stop scolding. There isn't a breath of air stirring,
and therefore no danger.

                                Brauer.

Come along, Pastor!

              [_Exit_ Brauer, George, Gertrude _and_ Mrs. Brauer.]

                                Pastor.

Won't you accompany us, Miss Marie?

                                 Marie.

No, thank you, Pastor!

                                Pastor.

Then may I remain with you for a while?

                            Several Voices.

[_Outside, calling_.] Pastor, Pastor!

                                Pastor.

[_Speaks through door_.] I will be with you in a moment! [_To_ Marie.]
Well, may I!

                                 Marie.

Why, certainly, if it gives you pleasure!

                                Pastor.

Pleasure is hardly the proper word. I wanted to thank you for insisting
upon my writing the bridal-poem. It has been a work of pleasure, I
assure you. Do you like it?

                                 Marie.

It is very nice. Pastor!

                                Pastor.

Have you memorized it already?

                                 Marie.

I think so!

                                Pastor.

Then would you mind reciting it for me? Come, I will assist you: "The
flowers, the beautiful blossoms"---- Well?---- "are a maiden's----"

                                 Marie.

No, Pastor!

                                Pastor.

You are acting so strangely to-day! You are so shy--so----

                                 Marie.

The St. John's night oppresses me!

                                Pastor.

That will soon be over.

                                 Marie.

Would that it were over now!

                                Pastor.

Perhaps the thought of traveling alone at night has something to do
with it?

                                 Marie.

Oh! [_Recovering herself--lightly_.] You are right, Pastor; but it
can't be helped!

                                Pastor.

Shall I come with you? Oh, I'll find something to be done in the city.
I won't even have to ask permission. Anyway, I am longing for a glimpse
of the good old town. I will inform the old pastor--I don't think he
has retired as yet----

                                 Marie.

Then please tell him---- I usually visit him myself every day, but now,
just before the wedding, it's impossible for me to call. Will you
please tell him that? I am so fond of him! Tell him that, and in
thought I kiss his hand.

                                Pastor.

Certainly. And may I accompany you!

                                 Marie.

No, thank you. Pastor!

                                Pastor.

Now let us speak openly, Miss Marie. I have been watching you all the
evening. You appear to me--what shall I call it--like a mouse before a
cat! You need a protector; some one in whom you can confide, some
one----

                                 Marie.

And so you would like to be my father confessor! Eh, Pastor?

                                Pastor.

You know very well we do not have that institution in the Protestant
Church, though at times it might prove a blessing----

                                 Marie.

[_Mischievously_.] And then again it might not?

                                Pastor.

You are quite right. We should all rely more upon ourselves----

                                 Marie.

[_With emphasis_.] I do that, Pastor, I do!

                                Pastor.

Yes, my dear Marie--pardon me, I should not have said that--and yet I
must speak frankly with you; you seem to have a fear--a dread----

                                 Marie.

Of the cat?

                                Pastor.

I wish I knew!!!

                                 Marie.

But supposing I were the cat, who would then be the mouse?

                                Pastor.

That would be sinful and wicked in you!!!

                                 Marie.

But one cannot be the cat and the mouse at the same time?

                                Pastor.

Yes, one can! But he who does, plays with his own destruction!

                                 Marie.

And if one destroys one's self, who cares?

                                Pastor.

You should not talk like that, Miss Marie.

                                 Marie.

Oh, it is all nonsense, all nonsense, for to-night is St. John's night.
Do you see that fire yonder. Pastor? They had to put it out! But there,
on the hill--look, there, there! How beautiful! How wild!

                                Pastor.

Yes, and when you look closely, it is nothing more than a mass of dirty
lumber.

                                 Marie.

For shame, Pastor!

                                Pastor.

Like everything that blazes, except the sun----

                                 Marie.

You should not have said that, Pastor--you should not. I don't want it!
I will not have you slander my St. John's fires! I want to enjoy it
once--only once--then nevermore!!!

                                Pastor.

[_Disturbed_.] My dear Miss Marie, I do not understand the reason for
your agitation, and I will not question you! But of your struggles--you
shall know that you have a friend near you, on whom you can rely, now
and for all time to come. Marie, I don't know how to express myself;
but I desire to shield and protect you all your life--I will worship
you----

                                 Marie.

Pastor, do you know who and what I am?

                                Pastor.

I do!

                                 Marie.

And who my mother is?

                                Pastor.

I know all!

                                 Marie.

Pastor, how am I to understand this?

                                Pastor.

Marie, I know I should not have spoken, at least not now. I should have
waited--it was stupid of me, I know; but I have such a fear--a fear for
you. You are going to the city to-night and I don't know what may
happen! But you shall know before you go, where you belong and that
your future is assured!

                                 Marie.

[_With a sigh of relief--almost a sob_.] Ah--ah--ah----!

                                Pastor.

Marie, I do not want an answer now. Besides, I must first notify
my father. Though he is but a simple farmer, he shall not be
slighted-- Marie----

                                 Marie.

[_Shrinking--dully_.] Yes, that is--perhaps--what I need--ah! [_Sinks
in chair_.]

                                Pastor.

Why, what is the matter? Shall I get you a glass of water? Or would you
prefer wine?

                                 Marie.

[_With an effort_.] Wine--wine--there--in the bowl! [_He helps her--she
drinks_.] Thank you! [_Stirred_.] No one has ever waited on me before!

                                Pastor.

I will carry you upon my hands

                                 Marie.

Very well, Pastor; but no one must know before the wedding!

                                Pastor.

Perhaps on the wedding day--at the wedding feast? Papa might make the
announcement; that would be such a fitting occasion!

                                 Marie.

No, no! I will have to much to do then.

                                Pastor.

Then, when the happy pair have gone?

                                 Marie.

[_With sudden, impulsive decision_.] Yes, when they have gone!

                                Pastor.

[_Takes her hand_.] Thank you. Miss Marie.

                                     [_Voices are heard outside_.]

                                 Marie.

Sh--[_Withdrawing her hand_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Enters_.] Ah, here you are, Pastor; we have been looking for you
everywhere!

                                Pastor.

I am coming now, Miss Gertrude.

                               Gertrude.

It's too late, Pastor, they are all returning!

                                Pastor.

Impossible! Well, well, how the time passes, and one hardly knows how!

                                                  [_Exit_ Pastor.]

                                 Marie.

[_Embracing_ Gertrude.] Will you forgive me, darling?

                               Gertrude.

[_Timidly_.] I have nothing to forgive!

                                 Marie.

Do not say that! I have done everything--everything--you must----

                                                    [_Enter all_.]

                                 Brauer.

Well, my dear Pastor, time stands still for no one; so you had better
stop excusing yourself and empty your glass. 'Twill all come out right
in the end.

                                Pastor.

I think I had better go now; for here every one is making fun of me.

                                Brauer.

Pastor, I need hardly tell you, that you are always welcome in this
house.

                                Pastor.

I am sure of it, Mr. Brauer! If I did not think so, I would not take
that matter so lightly----

                                Brauer.

[_Jokingly threatens him with finger_.] Pastor----

                                Pastor.

[_With a happy glance at_ Marie.] Good-night. [_Shakes hands with
all_.]

                                Brauer.

Good-night!

                                Pastor.

Good-night, Miss Marie!

                                 Marie.

[_Shaking his hand_.] Good-night, Pastor!

    [George, _with a questioning glance, advances a step or two_.]

                                Brauer.

George, see the Pastor to the gate!

                                George.

[_As though awakening_.] Yes, uncle.

                                                    [_Both exit_.]

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Well, Henry, everything has quieted down!

                                Brauer.

It's about time, too! Why, its eleven o'clock! Come, let's to bed.

                               Gertrude.

Good-night, papa!

                                Brauer.

[_Affectionately_.] Good-night, my pet!

                                 Marie.

Good-night!

                                Brauer.

By the bye--when will you be back?

                                 Marie.

To-morrow, about ten, papa!

                                Brauer.

Now be careful; no unnecessary exertions--understand? The day of the
wedding will be hard enough on all of us.

                                 Marie.

Yes, papa dear! [_Kisses him_.]

                                George.

[_Enters at this moment_.] We have still an hour and a quarter till
train time. I will wait for you here, Marie.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

You might help each other pass away the time.

                               Gertrude.

I want to sit up, too.

                                Brauer.

Tut, tut, ray pet; you go to bed, you need the rest.

                               Gertrude.

[_Whiningly_.] Well then, good-night.

                                 Marie.


[_In silent fear_.] I can't stay here---- Mama, I want to ask you about
something----

                                George.

Then you will come down in time for the train?

                                 Marie.

Yes, in time for the train.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Good-night, George.

                                George.

Good-night, auntie!

                       [_Exit_ Mrs. Brauer, Gertrude _and_ Marie.]

                                Brauer.

You know where my cigars are?

                                George.

Yes!

                                Brauer.

And if you need anything to keep you awake--I have left the key----

                                George.

[_In monosyllables_.] Thank you!

                                Brauer.

Well, what in----

                                George.

What's the matter---- Oh, my dear uncle, if I have failed to pay you
the necessary respect, I beg your pardon.

                                Brauer.

Respect? Oh, damn you and your respect!

                                George.

Uncle----

                                Brauer.

See here, perhaps I did wrong?

                                George.

You--wrong? How?

                                Brauer.

Have you forgotten what passed between us yesterday?

                                George.

My dear uncle, that seems to me so far, far away!

                                Brauer.

It strikes me you are going at a pretty fast gait!

                                George.

At any rate, uncle, do not worry about it. It will all come out right
in the end. [_As he is listening towards the door, gives a sudden
start_.]

                                Brauer.

What's the matter?

                                George.

I thought I heard some one----

                                Brauer.

Some one of the family perhaps, upstairs. Very well, then all is well,
my boy! Good-night, my son.

                                George.

Good-night, uncle!
                               [Brauer _exits, shaking his head_.]

                                George.

[_Sits at table--tries to read--listens, goes to door C.--calls out
softly into the garden_.] Who is there? [_Still softer_.] Is that you,
Marie?

                               Gertrude.

[_Whining outside_.] It's only me!

                                George.

[_Surprised_.] Gertrude, what do you want?

                               Gertrude.

[Gertrude _enters in nightgown and flowing hair_.] I am so uneasy,
George dear; I just wanted to look at you once more before going to
sleep.

                                George.

But, little one, if papa should see you like this---- Quick, go back to
your room.

                               Gertrude.

I cannot, my heart is so heavy.

                                George.

How so, dear?

                               Gertrude.

George, I have been thinking; I really am not good enough to be your
wife.

                                George.

Wha--what nonsense----

                               Gertrude.

I am too silly--oh, yes; I never know what to say to you! I am so
stupid.

                                George.

Why, my child--darling--pet----

                               Gertrude.

A while ago, out in the garden, and the moon shining so brightly, you
walked by my side in deep silence----

                                George.

Why, mama was with us----

                               Gertrude.

George, it is yet time. If you love some one else----

                                George.

In heaven's name, child, have you ever mentioned this to any one?

                               Gertrude.

Only to papa; he was very angry and scolded me dreadfully.

                                George.

H'm! Now listen to me, my pet----

                               Gertrude.

Rather than make you unhappy, I would jump into the river----

                                George.

In the first place, your presence here in this condition is decidedly
improper----

                               Gertrude.

But we are to be married in three days----

                                George.

So much more reason. [_Stroking her hair_.] What beautiful hair
you have, dear!

                               Gertrude.

[_Happily_.] Do you like it?

                                George.

And in the second place, I will have none other than you. We will
love each other very much. At first you will be my playmate--and
then--later, perhaps--my real mate. Are you satisfied?

                               Gertrude.

Yes, dear!

                                George.

And now, you must go to bed!

                               Gertrude.

Then I will wrap myself in my hair--and I will dream of you and what
you said--that it is beautiful--and so I will fall asleep. Good-night,
George dear!

                                George.

[_Kisses her on the forehead_.] Good-night!

      [_He gloomily takes position at table with a sigh when_ Gertrude
      _exits, covering his face with his hands_. Marie _enters
      softly_.]

                                George.

Marie, you have come----

                                 Marie.

It is early yet, is it not?

                                George.

We have a full hour more. Have they all gone to bed?

                                 Marie.

I think so. All the lights are out.

                                George.

Come, sit here----

                                 Marie.

I--I--I think I will go back upstairs!

                                George.

No, no; here is something to read! You see, I'm reading myself.

                                 Marie.

Very well. [_Sits_.] But, George, I would really prefer to go to the
depot alone.

                                George.

[_Softly_.] Marie! [_She shuts her eyes_.] Are you tired? [_She shakes
her head_.] One whole hour I will have you all to myself!

                                 Marie.

George----

                                George.

Marie!!!

                                 Marie.

The fires have all gone out, I suppose?

                                George.

Ah, yes; a small pyre of wood--it is soon burned down!

                                 Marie.

And then it's as dark as ever!!! But, George, how beautifully you spoke
this evening! I have never heard anything like it before.

                                George.

You were the only one who understood me.

                                 Marie.

No wonder! It was as though I spoke the words myself--that is, I don't
mean to say----

                                George.

What, dear?

                                 Marie.

Oh, you know!

                                George.

But I don't know!

                                 Marie.

[_After a pause_.] George, I have something to confess to you. In fact,
that is why I came down here so soon. You shall know it, you alone. I
have this day given my hand----

                                George.

[_With a start_.] _Marie!!!!_

                                 Marie.

[_Astonished_.] Well?

                                George.

To whom?

                                 Marie.

Why, to the pastor! Who else could it be? There is no one else!

                                George.

[_Reproachfully_.] Why did you do that? Why did you?

                                 Marie.

I have my whole life before me, and the fires [_pointing to fields and
to heart_] will not burn forever----

                                George.

[_Bitterly_.] You should not have done it--you--it is a----

                                 Marie.

Sh--not so loud!

                                George.

But you do not love him at all!!!!

                                 Marie.

How do you know?

                                George.

[_Bitterly_,] How? Of course, how should I? I don't know! Pardon me!
Well, I congratulate you!

                                 Marie.

[_Quietly_.] Thank you!

                                George.

But why am I the first one to be taken into your confidence? Why not
uncle? We two have not been so intimate as----

                                 Marie.

No, we two have not been very intimate--I only thought----

                                George.


So, then, we have both our burden; and we soon will have to part.
Therefore we can now safely speak of the past. My manuscript you read!
You even went so far as to perjure yourself on account of it. Oh, you
don't mind a little thing like that! I wish I were the same! You know
the subject of my verses, and we must now understand each other fully.
Now, tell me openly, why, why did you treat me so unkindly, to say
nothing worse, in former days?

                                 Marie.

Did I, George?

                                George.

'Tis hardly necessary to remind you of all the indignities you heaped
upon me. It almost seemed to me as if you purposely intended to drive
me mad. Do you remember the day when I followed you into the cellar,
and you turned and ran out and locked the door, and compelled me to
remain there all night?

                                 Marie.

[_Smiling_.] Yes, I remember!

                                George.

Why did you do that?

                                 Marie.

That is very simple. You are Count von Harten--and I?--I am but a poor
Lithuanian foundling--aye, worse than that. If you follow such a one
into the cellar, she knows, or at least thinks she knows, your purpose.

                                George.

So, that was the reason! And at the same time you went under your
manzanillo-tree to die?

                                 Marie.

[_Nods_.]

                                George.

And did you never realize the real state of things? Gertrude was then
still a child--and because I could not win you, I took her. Did that
thought never occur to you?

                                 Marie.

How could I ever dare to think that?

                                George.

But later?

                                 Marie.

The day before yesterday, when I read your book, I felt it for the
first time.

                                George.

And now, it is too late----

                                 Marie.

Yes, now it is too late! Had I felt then as I do now, I would not have
resisted you----

                                George.

Marie, do you know what you are saying?

                                 Marie.

[_Breaking out_.] Oh I don't care, I don't care! It is my fate. You
must rule and govern--and I--I must serve; and in the end--we both must
die----

                                George.

Marie, you should be loved, you must be loved--beyond all senses--loved
beyond all measure!

                                 Marie.

[_Pointing towards R_.] He loves me!

                                George.

He?--Bah!!!

                                 Marie.

Don't be angry, George dear; you don't dare love me yourself. You can
never be anything to me!

                                George.

No, never; for this house must be kept clean. No, no, this house must
not be soiled. We would both suffocate in our shame. But we can think
of what might have been; that is not sin, is it?

                                 Marie.

What were your words? "They are the wild birds of paradise, that have
escaped us." That was it, was it not? How beautiful!

                                George.

I don't remember!

                                 Marie.

But I am not a wild bird, George; I am tame--so tame----

                                George.

You are tame?

                                 Marie.

For you, George dear, only for you!!!

                                George.

_Marie_, my love! [_Strokes her hair affectionally, then moves away_.]
No, no, we must be strong! Only a few minutes ago, Gertrude came softly
down those stairs; if she should come again--my God----!

                                 Marie.

What did she want?

                                George.

You can imagine----

                                 Marie.

The poor thing! But you will love her?

                                George.

As well as possible! But then I must not think of you.

                                 Marie.

But you must not think of me--and I will try and not think of you!

                                George.

Never, Marie?

                                 Marie.

Only occasionally--on holidays----

                                George.

Only then?

                                 Marie.

And on St. John's eve----

                                George.

When the fires are burning?

                                 Marie.

Yes, and when the fires are out, then I shall cry----

                                George.

Marie!!!!

                                 Marie.

No, no, George, sit still--I will sit here. Some one might be in the
garden, after all.

                                George.

They are all sound asleep!

                                 Marie.

Even so! We must be brave; not for mine--but for your sake, George.

                                George.

Why did you say that? What do you think of me?

                                 Marie.

I think you are hard-hearted.

                                George.

And yet you love me?

                                 Marie.

Yes, I love you, for your own sake. For you have had to struggle and
fight--and that is what made you what you are. I have also fought and
struggled; but I have lost faith in myself--lost faith in everything.
If you only knew!! Sometimes I am afraid of myself--sometimes I would
commit murder, so restless and without peace I am.

                                George.

With me you would have found peace. We would have worked together and
planned through half the nights--and you know how ambitious I am.

                                 Marie.

And so am I, for you! You should be the first and greatest. They all
shall bow before you--I myself will kneel before you and say to you:
"You love to rule and command? Now rule--now command!!!!!!"

      [_Throws herself before him--her arms around his knees, looking
      up_.]

                                George.

Marie, in heaven's name rise! If any one should see you so----

                                 Marie.

Let them see me----

                                George.

_Marie!!_

                                 Marie.

[_Rising_.] You are right. It was low in me. But he who originates
where I do, is low--so low----

                                George.

Don't think of it, Marie! Think of this house and all the love it has
given you!

                                 Marie.

How quiet everything is--not a sound to be heard--as silent as the
grave----

                                George.

Then be content, for they have buried us together!

                                 Marie.

If they only had----!

                                George.

And see the pale moon--how it throws its silvery rays over the
garden--and yonder is your manzanillo-tree.

                                 Marie.

Yes, yes, do you see it?

                                George.

And its white, trembling leaves; see, see, each one seems alive--though
not a breath of air is stirring. Come, let us go to it.

                                 Marie.

[_Cowering_.] No, no, I think it is time--we must----

                                George.

Sh!--Sh!----

                                 Marie.

What is it?

                                George.

There--something moved. It must be Gertrude. [_Goes to door C. and
calls_.] "Gertrude!!!"

                                                  [_Short pause_.]

                                 Marie.

You must have been mistaken!

                                George.

No, no; I saw a shadow. "Gertrude!" Remain here, I'll go see! [_Exit
into garden_.]

                                 Marie.

Oh, I'm so afraid, George--so afraid----!

                                                        [_Pause_.]

            [George _returns, pale and agitated, trying to control
             himself_.]

                                 Marie.

Who was it? Who was it?

                                George.

Oh, no one--no one----

                                 Marie.

Yes, there was--I can see it in your face!! Was it Gertrude?

                                George.

No.

                                 Marie.

Then it was papa?

                                George.

No, no.

                                 Marie.

George, you are as pale as death; What has happened? Tell me!

                                George.

Nothing, nothing! There was a stranger in the garden--I sent him away.

                                 Marie.

What stranger?

                                George.

[_Pained_.] Do not ask me!

                                 Marie.

[_Dully_.] Oh, I know--I know! It was--my mother----

                                George.

Well, since you have said it----

                                 Marie.

What did she want? But why do I ask? [_Covers her face with her
hands_.] Oh, my God--my God!!!!

                                George.

_Marie_!

                                 Marie.

[_Suddenly_.] Close the blinds--I have a fear--tight--so!! Now put up
the bars--so--and here, so--so----

                                George.

[_Embracing her_.] _Marie_! my darling!!!!

                                 Marie.

Hold me tight!!!

                                George.

Like this?

                                 Marie.

Yes, like that! [_She moves close to him_.] Here I want to sit
still----

                                George.

[_Looks at watch_.] If we only have time to catch that train---- [_The
whistle of a locomotive is heard in the distance. He starts_.] Did you
hear that?

                                 Marie.

[_Smilingly_.] Yes!

                                George.

What was it?

                                 Marie.

It was the train!

                                George.

Can you hear it this far?

                                 Marie.

At night you can!

                                George.

               [_Sinks into chair L. of table, back to audience_.]

My God! what shall we do now?

                                 Marie.


[_Softly_.] I will tell you what we will do! We will sit still
here--quietly--till the next train--till four o'clock!!!!

      [_Throws herself upon George, passionately kissing him_.]

                                George.

Marie! My love, my all! [_Kisses her_.]

                                 Marie.

Kiss me again! Now, then, do you understand me? I am my own master, and
care not for myself---- To-night is St. John's night!!!!!!!

                                George.

And the fires are burning low----

                                 Marie.

No, no; let them burn----

                                George.

Yes, yes; let them burn--they shall burn!!!!!

                                     [Marie _disengages herself_.]

                                 Marie.

Kiss me no more--let me kiss you--I will take all upon myself--I will
take all the consequences--_my mother is a thief, and so am I!
George_--

           [_Throws herself into his arms with complete abandon_.]

                                          [_Lights out. Curtain_.]



                         END OF THE THIRD ACT.



                                ACT FOUR

_Same setting. Morning. Centre table is decorated with flowers_.
Brauer, George _and_ Gertrude _are on veranda at rise of curtain. In
open door, C._, Mrs. Brauer. _All listening to quartet, singing, "This
is the day of our Lord" by Kreutzer. As curtain rises_, Katie _enters,
L., listens also, and dries her eyes. At the end of the serenade_,
Brauer _starts to make an address, and with_ George _and_ Gertrude
_leaves the veranda_.


                                 Katie.

Mrs. Brauer, I would like to speak to you a moment.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Wiping her eyes_.] What is it, Katie?

                                 Katie.

[_Sniveling_.] Oh, I'm so happy----

                [_Church bells are heard softly in the distance_.]

                              Mrs. Brauer.

There go the church bells. Have you put plenty of wine and luncheon in
the arbor?

                                 Katie.

Yes, ma'am! Miss Marie and I have prepared a lot!

                              Mrs. Brauer.

What did you want to see me about?

                                 Katie.

I wanted to ask you about the roast; shall we put it in the oven now,
and just warm it up for dinner? Miss Marie thinks----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Never mind! I'll be down in the kitchen in a moment!

                                 Katie.

And another thing, Mrs. Brauer; won't you please try and get Miss Marie
to take a little rest? She has been hard at work since two o'clock this
morning, and all day yesterday she was in the city. She can't stand it.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Oh, on a day like this, we must all put our shoulders to the wheel.

                                 Katie.

Ah, Mrs. Brauer, you and I are old, and not much good for anything but
work; but we must spare our young people. Why, at times she almost
gives out.

                              Mrs. Brauer.

Well, I will come and see for myself.

                                 Katie.

Thank you!!! Oh, such a day!!! I am so happy---- [_Exit both L_.]

                                Brauer.

[_Enters with_ George _and_ Gertrude.] Thank goodness, that's over. Let
me see: first it was the old soldiers, then the Turners, and now
the Singing Society---- But do you know, I am so sick of all this
wine--give me a brandy.

                               Gertrude.

[_Gets drink from sideboard_.] Yes, papa!

                                Brauer.

[_To_ George.] And what's the matter with you?

                                George.

[_With a sigh_.] Nothing!

                                Brauer.

[_Imitating him_.] Nothing!!! I can't quite make you out---- Here, have
a drink?

                                George.

No, thank you!

                                Brauer.

Well, then, don't! Your health, my pet!

                               Gertrude.

Drink hearty, papa!

                                Brauer.

[_Rises_.] The carriage will arrive here sharply at ten! Understand?

                                George.

Yes!

                                Brauer.

And your friend from the city--we will find him at the station?

                                George.

Yes; he arrives quarter to ten.

                                Brauer.

For we must have two witnesses.--Do you know what I would like?
[_Tapping him on breast_.] I would like to be able to look in there.

                               Gertrude.

Oh, let him alone, papa! He is now my George. If I am satisfied with
him----

                                Brauer.

You are right! He who gets my child can laugh--but he also shall laugh.
Understand?                                            [_Exit R_.]

                               Gertrude.

Never mind him, George dear. You need not laugh if you don't want to.
Not on my account. [_Bells_.] Do you hear, George? The church bells,
ringing softly, singing, like human voices!!!! That is for you and me!!

                                George.

Why for us?

                               Gertrude.

It is the old pastor's desire; half an hour this morning, and then
again this afternoon, when we exchange rings. Do you know, George, mama
says a bride's dream the night before her wedding is surely an omen.
Do you believe that?

                                George.

[_Preoccupied_.] Yes.

                               Gertrude.

I dreamed last night of a large, yellow wheat-field, in which a poor
little rabbit had hidden itself; and high above, in the air, I saw a
large hawk. Then it appeared to me that I was the little rabbit, and in
fear and dread I called out "George! George!" when suddenly it shot
down upon me!--just think----

                                George.

And then?

                               Gertrude.

Then I awoke. The cold perspiration stood thickly upon my brow---- Oh,
George dear, you will protect me? You won't let any one hurt me, will
you? For I am only a poor little rabbit, after all----

                                George.

[_Staring before him_.] My God!

                               Gertrude.

George, I wanted to ask you something.

                                George.

Well?

                               Gertrude.

You don't love some one else, do you?

                                George.

[_Disturbed_.] But, my child----

                               Gertrude.

Well, you know that if a bride cannot laugh on her wedding day, she
loves another----

                                George.

Why, nonsense----

                               Gertrude.

[_Unshaken_.] Oh, yes, George; I read it myself. And even if you do,
George, I feel so--my love for you is so great, it could move
mountains. I love you so dearly---- She will surely learn to forget
you, I will love you so much.

                                George.

But, my pet----

                               Gertrude.

No, no, George. You see, I don't blame you so much. How could I? For
what am I, compared to other women?--George, does she love you so very
much?

                                George.

Who?

                               Gertrude.


Oh, you know. But don't worry, George dear; she will forget you in
time! Don't you remember Robert, our neighbor's son? He threatened to
kill himself if I didn't marry him, and he has already forgotten me!
And to-day, when we stand at the altar, at the Doxology and the
exchange of rings, I will nudge you softly, and then we will both pray
to our good Father in heaven to make it easy for her; for no one shall
be unhappy on this day! Why, George, you are crying!!!!

                                George.

Crying--I?

                               Gertrude.

Why, yes! Here are two large tears running down your cheek. [_Wipes his
eyes with her handkerchief_.] So there----

                                George.

Tell me, my pet; and if we should be parted, after all?

                               Gertrude.

How could that be possible?

                                George.

If I should die--or----

                               Gertrude.

[_Embracing him_.] No, no! Don't say that! Don't say that!!!

                        [Marie _appears in door, seeing embrace_.]

                                George.

[_Startled_.] Some one is here----

                               Gertrude.

It is only Marie.

                                 Marie.

[_Pointedly_.] You seem to be particularly affectionate to-day.

                               Gertrude.

[_Miffed_.] We always love each other. Oh, perhaps that doesn't please
you----

                                 Marie.

It is nothing to me!

                               Gertrude.

[_Half Jesting_.] Besides, what do you want here? Isn't there anything
to do in the kitchen?

                                 Marie.

[_Stung, but controlling herself_.] Mama has sent me----

                               Gertrude.

Yes, yes, dear; you are just in time to dress my hair. Have you
hairpins?

                                 Marie.

[_Shaking her head_.] I will get some. [_Reels_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Affectionately_.] What's the matter, dear? Oh, you must be tired!

                                 Marie.

I am not tired.

                               Gertrude.

Yes, yes, you are. Now you sit down here. I will fetch them myself.
[_Quick exit_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Full of fear_.] Gertrude!!!

                                George.

I must speak with you!

                                 Marie.

Speak; I am listening.

                                George.

Why this tone? Does it perhaps mean that between us all is over?

                                 Marie.

If it is or is not, it matters little.

                                George.

Am I, then, to understand----

                                 Marie.

My God! Have you not Gertrude? But now I saw her in your arms! What do
you want with me?

                                George.

I must speak with you----

                                 Marie.

Not now----

                               Gertrude.

[_Re-enters_.] Here are the hairpins. [Marie _takes them_.] I have also
brought my dressing-sacque and combs. Now we will excuse you for a
little while, George dear. You can give your judgment later.

                                George.

[_With a glance at_ Marie.] May I not remain?

                               Gertrude.

No, no. You would criticise and find fault, and embarrass Marie, and
me, too. Now be good, George, and go into the garden. [George _exits_.]

                                 Marie.

[_Holding sacque_.] Will you put this on?

                               Gertrude.

No, I will put it around me.

                                 Marie.

As you please. How do you want your hair dressed, high or low?

                               Gertrude.

But Marie, we had decided upon that! Have you forgotten?

                                 Marie.

Oh, pardon me--I--of course we had!

                               Gertrude.

Then give me a kiss!

      [Marie _suddenly takes her head in both hands and stares at her_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Frightened_.] Why do you look at me so strangely?

                                 Marie.

[_Embraces her fiercely_] My darling!!!!

                               Gertrude.

Oh, you hurt me!

                                 Marie.

Perhaps you hurt me, too----

                               Gertrude.

I? How so?

                                 Marie.

[_Has begun to comb_.] How can you ask? You are about to be
married--and--and--I--I am jealous of you!

                               Gertrude.

Just wait, Marie, dear. [_Sings_.]

"In a year, in a year, when the nightingale comes----"

                                 Marie.

[_Intensely_.] When the nightingale comes?

                               Gertrude.

You will be Pastor's wife. [_Laughs_.]

      [Marie, _with one braid in her hand, bending back, laughing
        loudly and forced_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_In pain_.] Oh, you are pulling my hair----

                                 Marie.

Any one as happy as you should be able to bear a little pain. There! I
will braid it into your hair--for you are happy, are you not? Very
happy?

                               Gertrude.

Yes! I am--that is--I would like to be--but George--he is so sad.

                                 Marie.

_George_?

                               Gertrude.

Yes!

                                 Marie.

[_Lurkingly_.] Perhaps you were right! Perhaps he _does_ love another!

                               Gertrude.

[_Softly groaning_.] Oh, why did you say that?

                                 Marie.

Because---- No, no--how could he? That was wicked in me, wasn't it? How
could he think of another, when he looks at you?

                               Gertrude.

No, no, Marie, you are right! I told him so myself!

                                 Marie.

[_Slowly and marked_.] And what did he say?

                               Gertrude.

He?--He said nothing! And then--he cried----

                                 Marie.

[_Triumphantly_.] He cried? George cried? Have you ever seen him do
that before?

                               Gertrude.

No, never!

                                 Marie.

[_To herself_.] He cried----

                               Gertrude.

And then he said: "What if we should be parted, after all?"

                                 Marie.

If who should be parted--you and he?

                               Gertrude.

Yes--if he should die----

                                 Marie.

If he--oh, that is what he meant! Oh, well, he just wanted to say
something. [_With forced lightness_.]

                               Gertrude.

Of course he did. But what about the other woman? Oh, I didn't let him
see that I cared--and for the time I didn't care, really; but now, when
I think of it! My God!--if it were really so! If I only knew!!!!!!!

                                 Marie.

Of course, he would not tell you!

                               Gertrude.

Do you think he would tell any one else?

                                 Marie.

Yes, sooner than tell you.

                               Gertrude.

Yes! I suppose so!

                                 Marie.

Shall I ask him?

                               Gertrude.

Oh, if you would do that for me----

                                 Marie.

There now, it is done. Here is the comb and the rest of the hairpins.
Now go!

                               Gertrude.

And do you really think he would tell you?

                                 Marie.

I am sure he will.

                               Gertrude.

Oh, Marie, how grateful I shall be to you----

                                 Marie.

[_Pushes her out of the door_.] Go now, go! [_Stretches herself_.]
Ah--ah--ah---- [_Calls softly_.] George! [_There is a knock at the
door_.] Come in!

                                 Paul.

[_Enters_.] Pardon me, Miss Marie; is Mr. Brauer in?

                                 Marie.

No, Mr. Paul!

                                 Paul.

The assistant pastor would like to speak to him--but here he is,
himself.

                                Pastor.

[_Enters_.] Good-morning, Miss Marie!

                                 Marie.

[_Offers her hand hesitatingly_.] Good-morning!

                                Pastor.

I will wait here, Mr. Paul!

                                 Paul.

Then, Miss Marie, will you please give me the key to the cellar? I want
to put the beer on the ice.

                                 Marie.

[_Gets key from keyboard_.] Here it is.

                                 Paul.

Thank you!

                                                         [_Exit_.]

                                                        [_Pause_.]

                                Pastor.

And have you nothing to say to me?

                                 Marie.

What shall I say, Pastor?

                                Pastor.

Are you not happy this day?

                                 Marie.

[_Hard_.] No!

                                Pastor.

Not even on account of our betrothal?

                                 Marie.

We will have no betrothal, Pastor!

                                Pastor.

What are you saying?

                                 Marie.

I shall leave this place----

                                Pastor.

_You_----

                                 Marie.

To-day, I leave this house!

                                Pastor.

Pardon me, if I have forced my attentions upon you----

                                 Marie.

No! You have not!

                                Pastor.

My attentions were honorable, I assure you----

                                 Marie.

Thank you, Pastor, I know that; but----

                                Pastor.

Then it is not on my account you are leaving?

                                 Marie.

Certainly not!

                                Pastor.

Does any one here know of your intention?

                                 Marie.

No one!

                                Pastor.

Miss Marie, I am still a young man; if I should mention such a word as
"life's happiness," it would, perhaps, sound absurd. Therefore, I will
not speak of myself. My fate is in my own hands. But if you realize
this moment what you owe to this house--and I say this not for mine,
nor for their sake, I say it for yours and yours alone; though I am but
a poor mortal--it pains me--but be that as it may--Marie, if you cause
a discord in this house, the blame will rest upon yourself.

                                 Marie.

Perhaps!

                                Pastor.

Pardon me--I will not question you. I wish to know nothing; that, in
the end, is always the best. Did I not love you as well as myself, I
would not speak another word; but as matters stand now, I will say
one--aye, one more word--I would not have dared to say otherwise. The
greatest, the highest thing one possesses in this world, is his life's
_melody_--a certain strain that ever vibrates, that his soul forever
sings--waking or dreaming, loudly or softly, internally or externally.
Others may say: "His temperament or his character is so, or so." He
only smiles, for he knows his melody and he knows it alone. You see,
Miss Marie, my life's happiness you have destroyed, but my life's
melody you can not take from me. That is pure and will always remain
so. And now I say to you, Miss Marie, if you fill this house, where you
have obtained everything you possess--honor, bread, and love--if you
fill this house with sorrow--if you dare to sin against your father and
your mother----

                                 Marie.

One moment, Pastor. My father and my mother--what do you know about
them? My father I don't know myself, but my mother? Ah yes, I know her
well; and from her I have inherited my life's melody. This melody has a
beautiful text. Do you want to know what it is, Pastor? It is, "_Thou
shalt steal_. Steal everything for thyself--thy life's happiness--thy
love--all--all. Only others will enjoy it in the end." Yes, Pastor, my
mother is a thief. On St. John's eve she came stealthily over yonder
garden hedge; and as my mother, so am I! And now, Pastor, ask me no
more; I need all my senses, for to-day my entire happiness is at stake!
There--now you know all!

                                Pastor.

Yes, now I know! Farewell, Miss Marie. I will forget this day, perhaps;
_you_--never----

                                                         [_Exit_.]

                                Gertrude.

[_Enters door L._] Was that George, who just now left?

                                 Marie.

Were you at that door, listening?

                               Gertrude.

_Marie_!--For shame!!!!!

                                 Marie.

Now go and dress yourself; I will call George. Go now, go!

                               Gertrude.

And will you come and tell me at once?

                                 Marie.

At once! Yes!! [Gertrude _exits_.] [Marie _calling softly_.] George!
George!

                                George.

[_Enters from veranda_.] Are you alone?

                                 Marie.

[_Nods_.]

                                George.

Have you arranged it so?

                                 Marie.

You wished to speak to me, so I have arranged it!

                                George.

Marie, I wished to tell you. One hour more I am a free man--and my mind
is made up. It is yet time to change our fates. What will you answer
me?

                                 Marie.

Answer you? Why, I don't know what you want.

                                George.

You know it well enough. I want _you_! Do you hear me? _You_, who
belong to me for life--I want you!

                                 Marie.

[_Softly--happily_.] I thought the fires were out--and you had
forgotten me--and now you want me?

                                George.

[_Softly_.] Are you not mine? Are you not my wife in the eyes of
heaven?

                                 Marie.

Yes, but in the eyes of the world it is _Gertrude_!

                                George.

Must it, then, be so?

                                 Marie.

[_Doubtingly_.] Go--go--you love her----

                                George.

Yes, I do love her. How could I help that? Do you not also love her?

                                 Marie.

[_Bitterly_.] Ah, I don't know. A few moments ago, when I saw her in
your arms--and you wept, too--only, because you love her!! Oh, but I
can bear it!! I will bear it like--like--ah!---- But there--that is no
one's affair but mine----

                                George.

So, so, that is no one's affair but yours, eh? You might have invented
a sweeter torture. I meant to remain an honorable man all my life; if
unable--well, there are plenty of bullets left.

                                 Marie.

And do you wish to die?

                                George.

I do not want to, I must!

                                 Marie.

_George_, then take me with you? [_He shakes his head_.] For years I
have carried the wish in my heart--to kill you! Then I would kiss and
love you like mad--and then follow you into eternity----

                                George.

Nonsense, girl, nonsense! Can't you see, how one turns round and round
and round in a circle, till at last to find no other escape than death?

                                 Marie.

I am not afraid to die; though with you, I'd rather live----

                                George.

To live, dear, will require more courage for both of us.

                                 Marie.

How so?

                                George.

Can you ask? Here in this house, to which we owe everything--both you
and I? Where they gave us food, shelter and love? After all that, would
you have the courage to destroy their happiness?

                                 Marie.

The good old pastor used to say: "You must have the courage to do
everything, except to do wrong." I would even have the courage to do
wrong.

                                George.

Shall I put you to the test?

                                 Marie.

If you will give me your hand now and say to me: "Come, we will run
away, through yonder garden gate--just as we are--now, this very
moment"--you shall see how I will run!

                                George.

What?--Secretly--without telling any one? Is that what you mean?

                                 Marie.

Don't you?

                                George.

[_Laughs bitterly_.] No, no!

                                 Marie.

Well, what then?

                                George.

Face to face, like a man. There he stands--I here. If he will give me
back my word, 'tis well. If he refuses [_determined_], 'tis also well.

                                 Marie.

My God! You know his temper! He will kill us--he will kill us both!

                                George.

'Tis death either way----

                                 Marie.

George--think----

                                George.

Oh, I have thought of it for two days and two nights. One is madness
and the other insanity. There is no other way. [_Pained_.] Only the
thought of the child gives me pain----

                                 Marie.


Of course, if your feelings for Gertrude----

                                George.

Then it is your desire? [_She nods assent_.] Very well! So be it! But
remember, it is a question of life and death!--And, therefore, you
yourself must be present.

                                 Marie.

[_In terror_.] I?--I be present when you ask him?

                                George.

What?--You, who wish to become my helpmate and partner in life, and
share all my life's troubles--you would desert me now--desert me in
this hour?--and I very much fear, not the worst in store for us?

                                 Marie.

No, no, George; it's not that--not that! But you know how we have
feared him and have trembled for years--and now I should----

                                George.

If you can't even do that----

                                 Marie.

If necessary--yes I--I will do it.

                                George.

Then--as soon as he returns. [Brauer _is heard breathing heavily_.] Ah,
here he is!

                                Brauer.

[_Enters_.] Why, that is almost an old-time Biblical miracle. Just
think, children, think of it---- But where is Gertrude? Well? Can't you
speak?

                                 Marie.

[_Trembling_.] I think she is dressing!

                                Brauer.

Well, it will interest you also, so listen: I met the assistant pastor
as he came from the house here, and he told me, rather piqued, that our
good old pastor had suddenly risen from his bed and limpingly insisted
upon delivering the wedding discourse himself. Well--what's the matter?
Aren't you glad?

                                George.

H'm----

                                Brauer.

Of course, you are a perfect heathen! But I say, our assistant pastor
must have been terribly put out. He had been preparing for that same
address for days. He looked rather crestfallen; but then, there is no
help for it.

                                George.

Pardon me, uncle; in order to save time, I must ask you for an
interview.

                                Brauer.

What, again? Can't you wait till afternoon?

                                George.

No! Before the ceremony, if you please.

                                Brauer.

[_Startled_.] Wha--oh, I see. I suppose now you will demand more than I
am willing to give? Marie, leave us [Paul _enters_.] Well, what now?

                                 Paul.

[_Gives him a sign_.]

                                Brauer.

There, look at him! Well, have you lost your tongue, man? Why don't you
speak?

                                 Paul.

No, no, Mr. Brauer, I have something to say to you--alone.

                                Brauer.

Then why don't you come nearer?

                                 Paul.

[_Whispering_.] We have just now caught the old woman.

                                Brauer.

[_With a glance at_ Marie.] What? Marie, you may remain and chat with
George for awhile; he is a very interesting young man. [_Softly, to_
Paul.] Where?

                                 Paul.

Down in the cellar; just as I wanted to put the beer on the ice, I
found her there in a dark corner, loaded down with plunder!

                                Brauer.

Is she there now?

                                 Paul.

Yes, struggling like a demon.

                                Brauer.

Undoubtedly this offense will earn her a good long term in prison and
we will be rid of her for a long time! But how to get her out of the
house?

                                 Paul.

Leave that to me Mr. Brauer; I know a way to keep her quiet.

                                Brauer.

Yes, yes, and in the meantime I will make out the papers and we will
hand her over to the Gendarme; that will be the best. Children, I will
be busy for a moment! Wait here until I return.

                                George.

Don't forget, uncle!

                                Brauer.

No, no. I'll be back in a moment. Come, Mr. Paul!

                                                    [_Both exit_.]

                                George.

You are trembling----

                                 Marie.

Am I?

                                George.

Marie dear, I am with you. No one shall harm you!

                                 Marie.

Oh, it is not that.

                                George.

What, then?

                                 Marie.

Oh, I don't know. It has suddenly come over me so---- [_Starts_.] Sh!
He's coming!

      [_Noise. Scuffling of feet and smothered cries are heard_.]

                                George.

What is it?

                                 Marie.

In God's name, be still!

                                 Gypsy.

[_Calling for help_.] Mine daughter! Mine Mamie! My Mamie!!

                                 Marie.

Hear? Hear? _My mother_! They are taking her away--to prison! Sh! Be
still! No, no; don't open the door! Be quiet! Be quiet!

                                 Gypsy.

[_Not as loud as before_.] Oh, mine daughter! My Mamie--my Mamie----!
[_Dying out_.]

                                George.

Will you not go out to her, no matter what she has done?

                                 Marie.

How can I? How can I? I am afraid--afraid----

                                George.

Then shall I go?

                                 Marie.

[_Frightened_.] No, no; don't leave me!! Sh! Be quiet! So, quiet! Now
they have gone! Thank heaven! [_Again wailing, but very distant_.]
Hear? Hear? Let her shriek! Let her call! I cannot help her! I am a
thief, the same as she. I, too, have come to this house, and I have
stolen. But oh, my God, what have I stolen? What have I stolen?

                                George.

Come, Marie, control yourself! Think of what we have before us!

                                 Marie.

Yes, yes--I'll be quiet! What have we before us? No, no; I will not--I
cannot--I----

                                George.

Do you mean to----

                                Brauer.

[_In door_.] Did you hear anything, children? Any noise?

                                George.

We heard screams and a scuffle. What was the matter?

                                Brauer.

Oh, nothing of any consequence. Don't mind it. An old vagabond of a
woman, that's all. I have only to sign the papers now, then I'll be
back. [_Exit_.]

                                George.

_Marie_!

                                 Marie.

Hush, not a word, not a word! She out there must go her way, and I must
go mine!

                                George.

What do you mean?

                                 Marie.

You said it yourself. 'Tis madness! Yes, yes; 'tis madness!
_All_--_all_! What we do--what we desire--all--all!

                                George.

Marie!

                                 Marie.

Or do you imagine for one moment we could be happy together? No, I know
you too well. I know the certain result. You would never forgive
yourself nor me, and in the end life would become a burden to me, if
only because I was in your way. Yes, yes, that would be the end of it
all----

                                George.

_Marie_, I will be faithful to you forever, let come what may, be it
good or bad; you know that!

                                 Marie.

Yes, thank God!--yes!

                                George.

If there was only the slightest possibility of a chance to escape from
all this whirl--then we might be free, we might---- But no matter what
we begin, we cannot shake off nor disregard our obligations to this
house; never, as long as we live!

                                 Marie.

Therefore, what more can you desire? Everything on earth we possess,
all that was beautiful, all the love, all--all, we gave to each other.
There is nothing more to give, for either one of us. St. John's night
is past, the fires are out, are dead----

                                George.

And what shall become of us?

                                 Marie.

Of you? That I can't tell. Perhaps you will be happy, perhaps not; that
must all rest with yourself. And I? Oh, be content. I will take care of
myself. As soon as possible I shall leave this house. Not to-day, as I
would like--it might create suspicion----

                                George.

And where will you go?

                                 Marie.

Ah, the world is large. I shall go far, far away, where no one will
ever find me. No, no, not even you, George.

                                George.

And if you should go to ruin out there?

                                 Marie.

Do not fear. I am the calamity child, the foundling. My hands are hard
and callous--see, see! Just like my heart is, now. I will work and
work, and toil, until I fall exhausted--then I will sleep and rest,
until it is time for work again; and thus I will perhaps maintain a
miserable existence.

                                George.

You say you are a calamity child! Well, so am I. But our accounts do
not harmonize. You are going out into the world and misery, and it was
I who drove you to it. Even did I not love you as I do, that thought
would follow me forever and embitter my entire life. But, be it so. We
are both children of misery! Therefore let us grit our teeth, shake
each other by the hand--and say farewell!

                                 Marie.

[_Softly_.] Good-bye, Georgie dear--and--don't be afraid--he is not yet
coming--and forgive me--do you hear? From to-day--you understand? Did I
not love you as much as I do, this would not have been quite so hard;
but there--there--'tis all right now--I know; I can never be entirely
poor now; for once, at least, the fires of St. John have burned for
me--once--just once----

                                George.

Marie----

                                 Marie.

[_Glancing around_.] Don't--don't----

                              Mrs. Brauer.

[_Enters, followed by_ Gertrude.] Hasn't the carriage arrived yet,
children? And where is papa? It is time to go.

                                 Marie.

He is coming now, I believe.

                                Brauer.

[_Enters_.] So there, I am ready to go! But, that is, you wanted to
speak to me first?

                                George.

[_With a glance at_ Marie.] It is all settled now, thank you.

                                Brauer.

Then come, wife, my coat, quick!

      [_She helps him with frocks after he has divested himself of
        jacket_.]

                               Gertrude.

[_Aside to_ Marie.] Did you ask him?

                                 Marie.

[_Nods_.]

                               Gertrude.

And what did he say?

                                 Marie.

It was all nonsense, my pet. He loves you and only you. He never has
loved any one else--he says--and he will be very happy--so he says----

                               Gertrude.

[_Embraces him joyfully_.] My darling George----

                                Brauer.

Come, come, my child--time enough for that after the ceremony. Come!

      [_All follow him to the door. When_ George _reaches door he turns,
        and as he takes one parting glance at_ Marie, Brauer _pushes
        him off_. Marie _stands motionless, looking after them,
        handkerchief in mouth, nervously forcing it between her
        teeth_.]

                                                      [_Curtain_.]



                              END OF PLAY.





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