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Title: Morituri: Three One-Act Plays - Teja—Fritzchen—The Eternal Masculine
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 "Morituri: Three One-Act Plays - Teja—Fritzchen—The Eternal Masculine" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source:
      http://www.archive.org/details/moriturithreeone00sudeiala

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].

   3. See footnote 3 explaining correction of printing error.



                           *   *   *   *   *

                       BOOKS BY HERMANN SUDERMANN
                  Published By CHARLES SCRIBNER'S Sons


The Joy of Living (_Es Lebe das Leben_). A Play in Five Acts.
Translated from the German by Edith Wharton. _net_ $1.25

Roses. Four One-Act Plays. Translated from the German by Grace Frank.
_net_ $1.25

Morituri. Three One-Act Plays. Translated from the German by Archibald
Alexander. _net_ $1.25

                           *   *   *   *   *



                                MORITURI



                                MORITURI

                             THREE ONE-ACT PLAYS

                 TEJA--FRITZCHEN--THE ETERNAL MASCULINE


                                   BY

                           HERMANN SUDERMANN



                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN

                                   BY

                          ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER



                        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
                 NEW YORK::::::::::::::::::::::::1910



                          Copyright, 1910, by

                        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

                       Published September, 1910



                                CONTENTS


      Teja

      Fritzchen

      The Eternal Masculine



                                   I

                                  TEJA

                           A DRAMA IN ONE ACT



                                PERSONS

      Teja, King of the Goths.
      Balthilda, Queen.
      Amalaberga, her mother.
      Agila, Bishop.
      Euric             \
      Theodemir          >Lords in the former kingdom of the Goths.
      Athanaric         /
      Ildibad, spearbearer of the King.
      Haribalt, a warrior.
      Two Camp Watchers.



                                  TEJA


_The scene represents the King's tent. The curtains are open in the
background and permit a view through the camp of the Gothic warriors,
over toward Vesuvius, and the distant sea, which shine in the splendour
of the setting sun. On the left stands the rudely constructed throne of
the King. In the centre, a table with seats around it. On the right,
the King's couch, consisting of skins pieced together; above, a rack
holding many kinds of weapons. Link torches on the right and left._


                             _FIRST SCENE_.

                           TWO CAMP WATCHERS.

                          First Camp Watcher.

Ho thou! Art thou fallen asleep?

                          Second Camp Watcher.

Why should I be fallen asleep?

                          First Camp Watcher.

Because thou leanest so limber upon thy spear, bent like the bow of a
Hun.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

I stand so bent, because thus hunger gripes me less.

                          First Camp Watcher.

'Tis of no avail. It availeth as little as thy belt. Afterward, in
standing upright, it is the more severe.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

How long is this to last?

                          First Camp Watcher.

Until the ships come--that is simple indeed.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

Yea, but when are the ships coming?

                          First Camp Watcher.

How can I know that? Look toward the heights. There, high upon the
Milchberg, there standeth the watch, and overlooketh the sea for twenty
miles. If he knoweth not! There, behind the Misenian hills, there they
must be coming.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

Verily, if the Byzantian let them pass.

                          First Camp Watcher.

The Byzantian hath no ships.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

The Byzantian hath so many ships that he can surround the whole Italian
world with them as with a hedge; as close as the Byzantian Eunuch hath
surrounded us, these seven weeks.

                          First Camp Watcher.

These seven weeks!

                          Second Camp Watcher.

Knowest thou what I got for nourishment, at noon this day? The same
rind of bacon on which I brake my teeth eight days ago. Forsooth, I had
cut my three crosses, with my knife. That was a meeting again! But
to-day, I devoured it ... a noble feast for a king's marriage day!

                          First Camp Watcher.

Think'st thou the King had more?

                          Second Camp Watcher.

And think'st thou we would suffer ourselves to be beaten to death,
suffer ourselves to be broken on the wheel, to be thrust through and
put to shame, if he had more than we? Think'st thou we would lie here
like chained dogs, and watch, did we not know that there is nothing to
watch?

                          First Camp Watcher.

There is gold enough.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

Gold! Pah, gold! Of gold I have enough myself. In my cellar at
Canusium, I have buried a treasure--eh! ... thou! The wives behind
there in the Wagenburg must have meat left ... wine too, they must
still have.

                          First Camp Watcher.

Yea, the wives are there well enough--thou hast none, I suppose.

                          Second Camp Watcher.

A Greek dishonoured mine, and I stabbed him to death! (_Pauses_.) Good!
The wives must have meat; they must have wine too. But how long that--
(_Noise and clash of weapons, slowly approaching_.) There, the marriage
is surely ended.

                          First Camp Watcher.

Silence! There cometh the aged Ildibad--with the King's shield. (_Both
put themselves on guard_.)


                            _SECOND SCENE_.

                           THE SAME. Ildibad.

                                Ildibad.

(_Hangs the shield in its place, and puts away the weapons lying
about_.) Hath any news been sent down?

                          First Camp Watcher.

Nay!

                                Ildibad.

Are ye hungry?

                          Second Camp Watcher.

Oh, yea.

                                Ildibad.

Hunger is for women--mark ye that! And show not such dark faces to our
young Queen. That becometh not a marriage day.


                             _THIRD SCENE_.

_Surrounded by noisy people_, Teja _and_ Balthilda _have appeared in
front of the tent. They enter led by_ Bishop Agila. _Before them, two
choir-boys swinging censers. Behind them_, Amalaberga, Euric,
Athanaric, Theodemir, _and other lords and military leaders. The tent
covers are let down. Exeunt the watchers_.

(Bishop _lets go the hands of the bridal pair, and turns back to_
Amalaberga.)

(Teja _stands gloomy and brooding_. Balthilda _casts a shy imploring
look around her. Painful silence_.)

                          Ildibad (_softly_).

Now must thou say something, King, to welcome thy young wife.

                            Teja (_softly_).

Must I? (_Taking one of the choir-boys by the nape of the neck_.) Not
so vehemently, boy; the smoke cometh up into our nostrils. What dost
thou when thou wieldest not thy censer?

                                  Boy.

I wield my sword, King.

                                 Teja.

That is right. But make ye haste with wielding the sword, or ye may
easily be too late. (_Softly_.) Nothing to be seen of the ships,
Ildibad?

                                Ildibad.

Nothing, my King. But thou must speak to thy young wife.

                                 Teja.

Yea ... so now I have a wife, Bishop?

                                Bishop.

Here standeth thy wife. King, and waiteth on thy word.

                                 Teja.

Forgive me, Queen, if I find not this word. I have been brought up in
the midst of battles, and other dwelling-place have I not known. It
will be hard for thee to share this with me.

                               Balthilda.

King ... my mother ... taught me ... (_She stops_.)

                    Teja (_with assumed kindness_).

And what taught thee thy mother?

                              Amalaberga.

That a wife belongeth to her husband--above all, in the hour of
distress; she taught her that, King.

                                 Teja.

That may indeed be true and holy to ye wives.... If only the husband
also belonged to his wife in the hour of distress. And yet one thing,
Amalaberga. It hath been told me that in the morning, cocks crow near
ye wives yonder in the Wagenburg. For weeks, the warriors have eaten no
meat. I counsel ye, give them the cocks. (Amalaberga _bows_.)

                                Bishop.

My King!

                                 Teja.

Heh! Thou hast but now spoken so beautifully at the field-altar,
Bishop. Dost thou desire to preach so soon again?

                                Bishop.

I will speak to thee, because bitterness devoureth thy soul.

                                 Teja.

Verily? Thou thinkest it? Then I give ear.

                                Bishop.

Behold, like the spirit of divine wrath, so hast thou risen up among
us, young man.... Not thy years did the nation count, only thy
deeds.... Old men bowed willingly to thy youth, and since thou hadst
yet a long time to serve, as one of the humblest, wert thou already our
ruler. From the golden throne of Theoderic, where mercy had sat in
judgment, where Totilas bestowed pardon with a smile, rang out sternly
thy bloody word ... And woe clave to us as a poisoned wound.... Pursued
hither and thither beneath the hot outpourings of Vesuvius, we are now
encamped with women and children; while Byzantium, with its hireling
soldiers, holdeth us surrounded.

                                 Teja.

That it surely doth, ha, ha! Not a mouse can come through.

                                Bishop.

Our gaze wandereth wistfully seaward: for thence hath God promised us
bread.

                                 Teja.

No tidings of the ships?

                           Ildibad (softly).

Nothing.

                                Bishop.

Before we armed ourselves for a new war with misery, as free men, true
to the ancient law, we determined to choose thee a wife, for in his own
body should the King taste why the Goth loveth death.

                                 Teja.

Found ye that your King loved life overmuch?

                                Bishop.

My King!

                                 Teja.

Nay, that dared ye not, for every hour of this life would hold ye up to
mockery.... And even if the ancient law required it, why must ye weld
me with this young thing which, trembling for fear before me and ye,
hideth in her mother's skirts? And especially on so fitting a day, when
hunger doth furnish the marriage music.... Look upon me, Queen--I must
call thee by thy title of a half-hour, for, by God! I hardly yet know
thy name. I pray thee, look upon me! Dost thou know me?

                               Balthilda.

Thou art the King, Sire.

                                 Teja.

Yea. But for thee I should be man, not King.... And knowest thou what
manner of man standeth here before thee?... Behold! These arms have
been hitherto plunged in reeking blood, not the blood of men shed in
manly strife, I speak not of that, that honoureth the man--blood of
unarmed pale children, of--(_shudders_)--Thou shalt have great joy, if
I come with these arms to wind them about thy neck.... Dost thou indeed
hear me? Have I not a beautiful voice, a sweet voice? Only it is a
little hoarse. It is weary with screaming loud commands to murder....
Peculiar pleasure shall be thine when thou hearest tender words with
this bewitching hoarseness. Am I not truly a born lover? These wise men
knew that; therefore they taught me my calling.... Or believe ye, it
was your duty to beguile your King in the weariness of camp life; as
the great Justinian dallied in golden Byzantium, and sent forth his
eunuchs to slay Gothic men? Ha, ha, ha!

                                Bishop.

My King, take heed lest thou be angry.

                                 Teja.

I thank thee, friend. Yet that signifieth nothing. It is but my
marriage humour.... But now I will speak to ye in earnest--(_Ascends to
the high seat of the throne_.) On the golden throne of Theoderic, where
mercy sat in judgment, can I, alas! not take my place; for that is
being chopped into firewood at Byzantium.... Neither smiling like
Totilas can I pardon, for no one longer desireth our pardon.... From
the glorious nation of the Goths, there hath sprung a horde of hungry
wolves therefore it needeth a wolf as master. Thou, Bishop, didst call
me the spirit of divine wrath, which I am not.... I am but the spirit
of your despair. As one who all his life hath hoped for nothing, hath
wished for nothing, I stand before you, and so I shall fall before you.
That ye knew, and therefore ye are wrong, ye men, to reproach me
secretly. Contradict me not!... I read it clearly enough between your
lowering brows.... Because it goeth ill with us, make not a scapegoat
of me--that I counsel ye.

                               Theodemir.

King, wound us not.... The last drop of our blood belongeth to thee.
Cast us not into the pot with these old men.

                                 Euric.

We old men fight as well as they; and love, young man, as well as they.

                                 Teja.

Then let that suffice. Your Queen shall soon enough learn how, in
misfortune, friends quarrel among themselves. And as ye pass through
the camp, tell the warriors, the only thing that frets the King this
day this day of joy, is it not?--is that he hath not the power to offer
them a worthy marriage feast ... or yet perchance-- Ildibad.

                                Ildibad.

(_Who on the right has secretly spoken in bewilderment to a watcher who
has just entered_.) Yea, Sire.

                                 Teja.

What have we still in our stores, old man?

                  Ildibad (_controlling his emotion_).

Truly, thou hast given away almost all thy provisions.

                                 Teja.

I ask thee, what remaineth?

                                Ildibad.

A jar of fermented milk, and two stale crusts of bread.

                                 Teja.

Ha, ha, ha! Now thou seest, Queen, what a poor husband thou hast got.
Yet if the ships be there, as the people say, then will I do royal
honours to every one, even as is his due. Yet tell it not, that would
mar their joy. But if they hear the trumpets sound, then tell them
there will be meat and wine on the long tables, so much as--

(_To_ Ildibad, _who glides across the stage to his side_) What is it?

                          Ildibad (_softly_).

The watch departeth. The ships are lost.

                                 Teja.

(_Without the least change of countenance_.) Lost--how--in what way?

                                Ildibad.

Treason.

                                 Teja.

Yea, verily! Yea--meat and wine so much as each one will, at long white
tables--I shall have it divided--and Sicilian fruits for the women, and
sweetmeats from Massilia. (_Sinks reeling upon the seat of the throne,
and gazes absently into the distance_.)

                                The Men.

What aileth the King? Look to the King!

                               Balthilda.

Surely he is hungry, mother. (_Approaches him. The men draw back_.) My
King!

                                 Teja.

Who art thou, woman? What wilt thou, woman?

                               Balthilda.

Can I help thee, Sire?

                                 Teja.

Ah, it is thou, the Queen! Pardon me; and pardon me, also, ye men.
(_Rises_.)

                                Bishop.

King, thou must husband thy strength.

                               Theoderic.

Yea, King, for the sake of us all.

                                The Men.

For the sake of us all.

                                 Teja.

In truth, ye warn me rightly. Women, I pray ye, return to your
encampment. We have to take counsel. Do thou, Bishop, see well to their
safe conduct.

                         Amalaberga (_softly_).

Make thy obeisance, child!

                         Balthilda (_softly_).

Mother, will he speak no more to me?

                              Amalaberga.

Make thy obeisance! (_Balthilda obeys_.)

                                 Teja.

Fare ye well! (_Exeunt_ Balthilda, Amalaberga, Bishop. _Shouts of
applause without, greet them_.)


                            _FOURTH SCENE_.

                                 Teja.

Theodemir. Euric. Ildibad. The Watcher. The Lords.

                                 Teja.

I have sent away the women and the priest; for what comes now
concerneth us warriors alone. Where is the watcher? Come forth, man.

                          The Men (muttering).

The watcher from the hill! The watcher!

                                 Teja.

Hereby ye know, men: the ships are lost. (_Tumult. Cries of horror_.)

                                 Teja.

Quiet, friends, quiet! Thy name is Haribalt.

                                Watcher.

Yea, Sire!

                                 Teja.

How long hast thou stood at thy post?

                                Watcher.

Since early yesterday, Sire.

                                 Teja.

Where are thy two companions?

                                Watcher.

They remain above, as thou hast commanded, Sire.

                                 Teja.

Good, then what saw ye?

                                Watcher.

The smoke of Vesuvius, Sire, descended upon the sea, beyond the
promontory of Misenum. Thus we saw nothing until to-day about the sixth
hour of the evening. Then suddenly the ships appeared five in number
quite near the shore, there where it is said a city of the Romans lies
buried in ruins.... One of us determined to hasten away, since----

                                 Teja.

Stay! What signal bare the ships?

                                Watcher.

The foresail bound crosswise and----

                                 Teja.

And?

                                Watcher.

A palm branch at the stern.

                                 Teja.

Ye saw the palm branch?

                                Watcher.

As I see thee, Sire.

                                 Teja.

Good, go on.

                                Watcher.

Then we perceived that the fishing-boats with which the Byzantians take
their food, closely surrounded the ships, and then----

                                 Teja.

What then?

                                Watcher.

Verily, Sire, they steered quite peaceably toward the camp of the
enemy. There they unloaded. (_The men cover their heads. Silence_.)

                                 Teja.

(_Who looks, smiling, from one to the other_.) It is good.... That is:
thou shalt say nothing there without.... From me they should learn it.
(_Exit Watcher_.)


                             _FIFTH SCENE_.

       TEJA. THEODEMIR. EURIC. ATHANARIC _and the_ OTHERS. LORDS.

                                 Teja.

Your counsel, ye men!

                               Theodemir.

Sire, we have none to give.

                                 Teja.

And thou, Euric, with all thy wisdom?

                                 Euric.

Sire, I have served the great Theoderic. And yet he would have had none
to give.

                                 Teja.
Come then, I know.... It is easy and quick to be understood: Die!...
Why look ye at me with such mistrust?... Do ye not yet understand me?
Think ye I require ye to wrap yourselves in your mantles, like cowardly
Greeks, and beg your neighbours for a thrust in the back? Be calm:
I will protect you against shame, since I can no more lead you to
honour.--Our place here cannot be taken, so long as thirty of us have
power to wield our spears. But the hour shall come--and at no distant
time--when the last arm, crippled by hunger, can no more be
outstretched to beg quarter of the invading murderers.

                               Theodemir.

No Gothic man doeth that, King!

                                 Teja.

For what thou art, thou canst give surety; for what thou shalt become,
thou givest no surety to me. So I counsel and command ye to prepare
yourselves for the last conflict. In the first gray of the morning, we
shall burst forth from the clefts, and array ourselves against the
Byzantian in open field.

                                  All.

Sire, that is impossible.

                               Theodemir.

King, consider, we are one against a hundred.

                                 Teja.

And thou, Euric?

                                 Euric.

Sire, thou leadest us to destruction.

                                 Teja.

Yea, verily. Said I anything else? Do ye believe me to be so untried in
things of war that I know not that? Why then halt ye? When Totilas led
us, we were more than a hundred thousand. Now we are but five. They all
knew how to die, and can we, a miserable remnant, have forgotten it?

                                  All.

Nay, King, nay!

                                 Euric.

Sire, grant us time to accustom ourselves to that horrible thing.

                                 Teja.

Horrible? What seemeth horrible to ye? I speak not indeed to Romans who
reel from the mass to the lupanar, and from the lupanar to the mass.
Yet there is not one among ye whose breast is not covered with scars
like an old stone with moss. These twenty years ye have made sport of
death, and now it cometh in earnest, doth a Gothic man speak of
"horrible"? What will ye? Will ye lie and hunger? Will ye devour one
the other, like rats? Good. But I shall not do it with ye! Not I!
To-morrow, I take spear and shield, and go to gain on my own account
the bit of death for which I long and languish like a thief since ye
made me leader of your lost cause.--And thou at least, my old
companion, thou comest with me--eh?

                  Ildibad (_falling down before him_).

I thank thee, Sire! Why ask whether I come!

                                  All.

We too, King. We all, we all!

                               Theodemir.

Thou shouldst be praised, King, that thou hast pointed to us the way of
happiness. And be not angry with us, if we were not able straightway to
follow thee. Now I perceive clearly thy great thought. From grief and
discord and despair, we rise, we do not go down to death.... Laughing,
treadeth each on the other's corpse, in order laughing to sink down
like him.... A light will go forth from us over the wide world.... Ah,
that will be a draught from golden goblets--that will be a riot of
exultant joy. Thank thee, my King. Often have I envied thee thy crown,
now I venture to envy it no more.

                                 Teja.

The thing will come to pass for the most part otherwise than thou dost
imagine it, Theodemir. Yet I am glad that among the Goths, such
inspiration still abideth.

                                 Euric.

Also to me, King, grudge not a word; for I have indeed seen golden
days.... Thou art not only the boldest, thou art also the wisest of
all.... Had we now faltered, so should we all have fallen without
defence, by the murderer's sword ... And not only we, but the sick--and
the children--and the wives.

                                 Teja.

Ay, indeed, the wives! Of them I had not thought at all.

                                 Euric.

But now to-morrow, we shall stand in battle, and on the second and
third day, if we hold out so long, so that astonishment and fear at the
miracle will lay hold on the Byzantian and all the rabble of Huns and
Suevians which he draggeth after him.... We cannot utterly destroy
them, but we can bait them with our blood till they be weary.... And
when no one on that side is able to hold spear and bow, then shall the
hour come when the Eunuch will have it said: "Depart in peace." How
many of ye are then still left? I fear not many----

                           Teja (_laughing_).

We, surely not!

                      All (_with cruel laughter_).

Nay, we surely not!

                                 Euric.

Then shall they take wives and children into the midst of them, and,
head high, with naked swords, descend straight through the Byzantian
camp toward Naples, to buy a piece of bread. And I tell ye, with such
fear shall they be gazed at, that not even once shall a dog of the Huns
dare to bark at them.

                                 Teja.

Wife and child! Wife and child! What have we to do with them?

                               Athanaric.

King, thou revilest the dearest of our possessions.

                                 Teja.

Maybe!--I know only that there were too many mouths in the morning when
the rations were divided. Otherwise we might have been able to support
ourselves. And yet, this one thing I say to ye--and I shall enjoin it
on the men without, upon their word as warriors--that none of the women
know aught of our purpose. I will not that even one man be softened by
the tears and cries of women.

                               Athanaric.

Sire, that is inhuman which thou requirest, to take no leave of our
wives.

                                 Teja.

Take leave of them, me notwithstanding, but remain dumb as ye do it. He
that hath wife and child here, let him go to the Wagenburg, and provide
himself food and drink, for the women delight to keep a remnant between
their fingers. This let him share with the unmarried, and be joyful
when he can.

                                 Euric.

And what should they say to their wives, Sire, since already thou hast
strictly forbidden communication?

                                 Teja.

Say ye, it happens because of my marriage! Or the ships are there, if
that sounds more worthy of belief. Say what ye will. Only that one
thing, keep for yourselves.

                               Theodemir.

And wilt thou thyself nevermore see thy young wife?

                                 Teja.

Eh? Nay.... I mark not the least desire to. Surely now I shall speak to
the people. I would that I had thy tongue, Theodemir.--The errand is
troublesome to me, for I should speak great words, and I feel them not.
Come! (_Exeunt all, with_ Ildibad _slowly following_.)


                             _SIXTH SCENE_.


_The stage remains unoccupied for a short time. The voice of the King
is heard, who is received with acclamation. Then after a few seconds,
subdued cries of woe_. Ildibad _returns and sits down upon a stump near
the curtain. Then he lights two torches which he puts into the links,
and prepares the weapons of the King. Outside arises a shout of
enthusiasm, which again is subdued_.


                            _SEVENTH SCENE_.

ILDIBAD. BISHOP AGILA (_tottering in with exhaustion and excitement_).

                                Ildibad.

Wilt thou not be seated, most worthy lord?

                                Bishop.

And goest thou not to hear what the King saith?

                                Ildibad.

That hath naught to do with me, most worthy lord. The King and I--for a
long time, we are united in action.

                                Bishop.

Verily, he standeth there like the angel of death.

                                Ildibad.

Whether angel or devil, it is the same for me. (_The shout of
enthusiasm rises anew and approaches the tent_.)


                            _EIGHTH SCENE_.

     THE SAME. THE KING (_with flaming eyes, pale yet calm_).

                                 Teja.

Are the weapons in order?--Ah, 'tis thou, Bishop!

                                Bishop.

King, my King!

                                 Teja.

Surely, thou shall now be driven to seek another flock, Bishop. Wilt
thou but give me thy blessing, pray give it quickly.... Theodemir is
about to come.

                                Bishop.

And dost thou know thyself to be free, my son, from the trembling of
every dying creature?

                                 Teja.

Bishop, I have been a good servant of thy church. To dedicate her
temples, as once Totilas did, have I not been able; but what there was
to kill, I have killed for her welfare. Shall I perform a posture for
the blessed Arius?

                                Bishop.

My son, I understand thee not.

                                 Teja.

For that I am sorry, my father.

                                Bishop.

And hast thou taken leave?

                                 Teja.

Leave--of whom? Rather have I a mind to cry "welcome"; but yet nothing
is there!

                        Bishop (_indignantly_).

I speak of thy wife, Sire.

                                 Teja.

At this hour, I know only men, Bishop. Of wives I know nothing.
Farewell! (_Enter_ Theodemir _and_ Ildibad.)

                                Bishop.

Farewell--and God be gracious to thy soul!

                                 Teja.

I thank thee, Bishop.... Ah, there art thou, Theodemir. (_Exit_ Bishop
Agila.)


                             _NINTH SCENE_.

Teja. Theodemir. Ildibad (_in the background, occupied with the King's
weapons, going noiselessly in and out_).

                                 Teja.

What are the warriors doing?

                               Theodemir.

They who have their wives here, are gone to the Wagenburg.... There
they will surely eat and drink and play with their children.

                                 Teja.

And is thy wife here also?

                               Theodemir.

Yea, Sire!

                                 Teja.

And thy children?

                               Theodemir.

Two boys, Sire!

                                 Teja.

And thou didst not go?

                               Theodemir.

I waited on thy call, Sire.

                                 Teja.

What hour is it?

                               Theodemir.

The ninth, Sire.

                                 Teja.

And what do they who are free--the unmarried, and they whose wives are
not here?

                               Theodemir.

They lie by the fires and are silent.

                           (_Exit_ Ildibad.)

                                 Teja.

See to it that something is brought to them also. I already ordered it.
Will they sleep?

                               Theodemir.

No one will sleep.

                                 Teja.

At midnight, come and fetch me.

                               Theodemir.

Yea, Sire. (_Makes as if to go_.)

                   Teja (_with a shade of anxiety_).

Theodemir, stay!... Thou hast always been my adversary.

                               Theodemir.

I was, Sire. For a long time I have ceased to be.

                    Teja (_stretches out his arms_).

Come! (_They hold each other in a close embrace; then they clasp
hands_.) I would fain hold thee here, but truly thou must go to thy
wife. (Ildibad _again enters_.) And forget not to have food brought to
those who are gazing at the fires. They should have occupation.
Brooding profiteth not in such an hour.

                               Theodemir.

Yea, Sire. (_Exit_.)


                             _TENTH SCENE_.

                             TEJA. ILDIBAD.

                                 Teja.

Now, my old man, we should have nothing further to do upon this earth.
Shall we talk?

                                Ildibad.

Sire, if I might beg a favour for myself.

                                 Teja.

Still favours, at this time?... I believe thou wouldst flatter me, old
companion!

                                Ildibad.

Sire, I am old. My arm would grow weary with bearing a spear, more
quickly than is good for thy life. And by my fault shouldst thou not
fall, Sire.... If no one else sleeps, think not evil of me, and let me
sleep away the two hours.

                                 Teja.

(_With a new gleam of deep anxiety_.) Go, but not far away.

                                Ildibad.

Surely, Sire, I have always lain as a dog before thy tent. In respect
of that, on this last night, nothing will be changed.... Hast thou
orders to give, Sire?

                                 Teja.

Good-night! (_Exit_ Ildibad.)


                           _ELEVENTH SCENE_.

TEJA. _Afterward_ BALTHILDA. (TEJA _left alone, throws himself on his
couch, staring straight before him with a bitter, wearied smile_.
BALTHILDA _enters shyly. In one hand she carries a basket containing
meat, bread, and fruits; in the other, a golden tankard of wine. She
advances a few steps toward the table_.)

                         Teja (_half rising_).

Who art thou?

                   Balthilda (_feebly and timidly_).

Knowest thou me not, King?

                    Teja (_rising from his couch_).

The torches burn dimly.... Thy voice I have heard before!... What wilt
thou of me?

                               Balthilda.

I am indeed thy wife, King.

                       Teja (_after a silence_).

And what wilt thou of me?

                               Balthilda.

My mother sendeth me. I am to bring thee food and wine. The others eat
and drink, and so my mother saith---- (_She stops_.)

                                 Teja.

How didst thou enter here?... Did not the watch forbid thee to enter?

                   Balthilda (_drawing herself up_).

I am the Queen, Sire.

                                 Teja.

Yea, verily. And Ildibad, what said he?

                               Balthilda.

Thy old spearbearer lay and slept. I stepped across him, Sire.

                                 Teja.

I thank thee, Balthilda.... I am not hungry. I thank thee. (_Silence_.
Balthilda _stands and looks tearfully at him_.)

                                 Teja.

I see, thou hast still a request to make of me. I pray thee, speak!

                               Balthilda.

My King, if I return home with a well-filled basket, then shall I be
mocked by all the women.... And the men shall say----

                           Teja (_smiling_).

And what shall the men say?

                               Balthilda.

He esteemeth her so little that--he consenteth not to take food from
her hand.

                                 Teja.

On my word, I assure thee, Balthilda, the men have other things to
think on ... yet nevertheless ... reproach thou shalt not suffer
through me. Set thy basket there.... Have ye still much of such things?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, these two weeks have my mother and I and the women about us put
aside the best of our share--flour and fruits--and the fowls have we
not killed till this very day.

                                 Teja.

Then indeed must ye have been mightily hungry, ye women?

                               Balthilda.

Ah, it hath done us no hurt, Sire.... It was for a feast.

                                 Teja.

In truth? Ye believed we should celebrate a feast to-day?

                               Balthilda.

Well ... is it then not a feast, Sire?

                                 Teja.

(_Is silent and bites his nether lip, examining her furtively_.) Wilt
thou not be seated, Balthilda?... I should not yet let thee go home!
That too would be a reproach, would it not?

                (Balthilda _is silent and looks down_.)

                                 Teja.

And if I bade thee, wouldst thou wish to stay?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, how should a wife not wish to stay beside her husband?

                                 Teja.

Hast thou then the feeling in thy heart, that I--am--thy--husband?

                               Balthilda.

Indeed, how could it be otherwise? The Bishop hath joined us together.

                                 Teja.

And wert thou glad when he did it?

                               Balthilda.

Yea.... Nay, I was not glad then.

                                 Teja.

Why not?

                  Balthilda (_with a bright glance_).

Perhaps because, because ... I was afraid, Sire, and I was praying.

                                 Teja.

What didst thou pray?

                               Balthilda.

That God would grant to me, his humble handmaid, the power to bring
thee the happiness which thou needest, and which thou awaitest from me.

                                 Teja.

Which I from thee--that didst thou pray?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, may I not offer thee the food, and the wine?

                                 Teja.

Nay, nay!... Hearken, Balthilda: without, by our fires, are
warriors--they are hungry--I am not hungry.

                               Balthilda.

Sire, give them what thou pleasest ... give them everything!

                                 Teja.

I thank thee, Balthilda. (_Raising the curtain_.) Ho there, watch! Come
in, but prudently so as not to wake the old man.... (_Watcher enters_.)
Here, take this basket with food and wine, and divide it honestly....
Say your Queen sends it.

                                Watcher.

May I thank the Queen, Sire?

        (Teja _nods_. Watcher _shakes her hand heartily. Exit_.)

                                 Teja.

Go--and bring me to eat!

                        Balthilda (_perplexed_).

Sire--why--mockest thou--me?

                                 Teja.

Dost thou then not understand me? If thou wilt be my wife, thou must
offer me my property, not thine!

                               Balthilda.

Is not all of mine thy property, Sire?

                                 Teja.

Hm! (_Silence. He takes her hands._) Call me not Sire and call me not
King.... Knowest thou not my name?

                               Balthilda.

Thy name is Teja!

                                 Teja.

Say it yet once again!

                  Balthilda (_softly, turning away_).

Teja!

                                 Teja.

Is the name so strange to thee?

                     (Balthilda _shakes her head_.)

                                 Teja.

Then why hesitate?

                               Balthilda.

Not for that, Sire! Since I knew that I was to serve thee as thy wife,
I have often named thee by day and in the night. Only I never said it
aloud....

                                 Teja.

And before thou knewest it, what was then thy thought?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, why dost thou ask?

                                 Teja.

And why dost thou not answer?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, when I heard of thy bloody commands, and the others feared
thee--then I often thought: How unhappy must he be that the destiny of
the Goths compelleth him to such deeds!

                                 Teja.

That hast thou thought?--That hast thou----?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, was it wrong that I should think it?

                                 Teja.

Thou hadst never seen my face, and thou didst understand me? And they
who were around me, the wise men and tried soldiers, they understood me
not!... Who art thou, woman? Who hath taught thee to read my heart?
Thee, thee alone of all?

                               Balthilda.

Sire--I----

                                 Teja.

All shuddered and muttering hid themselves from me in corners--and saw
not the way, the only way which haply might still have saved them. When
the butcher's knife was already at their throat, they still told
themselves some tale of compromise. And then came the crafty Greeks,
measured themselves with them, and killed them one by one. Thus
perished the hundred thousand. And I wrapped myself in grief and
anger--I cast hope away from me like a bloody rag, I sprang into the
breach with scornful laughter. I sowed horrors about me, when my own
heart was convulsed with horror of myself. I have not once been drunk
with all the blood. I have killed, killed, and still knew all the
while: it is in vain! (_He sinks to his seat overcome with anguish, and
stares straight before him_.)

             Balthilda (_with a shy attempt at a caress_).

My poor dear King! Dear Teja!

                                 Teja.

(_Raises his head and looks confusedly around him_.) My God, what do I
here?... Why do I tell all this to thee? Thou must not despise me
because I am such a babbler.... Nor must thou believe that it is aught
of remorse that compels me to this confession.... Perhaps I feel pity
for the victims, but my conscience stands high above all that!... Far
higher than my poor Gothic throne.... Look not upon me so.... There is
in thy eye something that compels me to reveal my inmost thought to
thee.... Who hath endued thee with this power over me?... Begone!...
Nay, stay ... Stay! I wish to tell thee yet something, quite in secret,
before thou goest.... Besides, I should not cry out so, otherwise the
watch may hear.... Incline thine ear to me. Never yet have I confessed
it to any man, nor have I held it possible that I should ever confess
it.... I bear an envy within me which devoureth my heart, whenever I
think--knowest thou toward whom?... Toward Totilas.... Yea, toward
Totilas in his grave.... They called him the "shining" Totilas and
their affection still cleaveth to him to-day.... Their eyes still flash
when they even think of him.

                               Balthilda.

Ah, Sire, how thou dost fret thyself!

                          Teja (_anxiously_).

Didst thou ever see him?

                               Balthilda.

Never.

                                 Teja.

God be thanked! For hadst thou ever seen him as I saw him on the
morning of the battle in which he fell ... arrayed in golden armour ...
and the white steed pranced beneath him, and his yellow locks streamed
like sunlight about him. And he laughed the foe in the face.... Laughed
like a child!... Ah, laughing to die like him!

                               Balthilda.

His lot was easy, Sire! He went from hence, but left to thee as an
inheritance the half-destroyed kingdom.... How shouldst thou then have
laughed?

                           Teja (_eagerly_).

Is it not so?--Is it not so?--How ... Ah, that doeth good! (_Stretching
himself_.) Ah, thou doest me good!

                               Balthilda.

How proud thou makest me, Sire!

                                 Teja.

But hadst thou seen him and compared him to me, thou wouldst spit upon
me!

                        Balthilda (_fervently_).

I should have seen only thee, Sire dear, dear Sire!

(Teja _looks askance at her, shyly and distrustfully, then walks
silently to the left, sinks down before the seat on the throne, and
burying his face in the chair, weeps bitterly_.)

                               Balthilda.

(_Follows him shyly and kneels down beside him_.) Teja, beloved, if I
hurt thee, pardon me!

                   Teja (_rises and grasps her arm_).

Tell it to no one!

                               Balthilda.

What, Sire?

                                 Teja.

That thou hast seen me weep! Swear it to me!

                               Balthilda.

It hath been told me that I am now even as a piece of thy body--and of
thy soul also!... Wherefore should I swear?

                                 Teja.

If thou art a piece of my body, then come nearer to me, that thou mayst
not see my tears.

                               Balthilda.

Let me dry them for thee! See, for this cause am I here.

                                 Teja.

Ah, 'tis well with me.... I must indeed have died of shame, for never
yet hath a Gothic man been seen to weep. Even when we buried Totilas,
we wept not.... Yet I am not ashamed.... If I but knew why suddenly it
is so well with me!... Balthilda, I will tell thee something. But thou
must not laugh me to scorn.

                               Balthilda.

How should I laugh at thee, beloved?

                                 Teja.

I am hungry.

                Balthilda (_springing up in surprise_).

Alas, surely thou hast given everything away!

                                 Teja.

Oh, by no means! Go just over there, wilt thou? (_She obeys_.) Behind
my couch--seest thou the fireplace?

                               Balthilda.

Here where the ashes lie?

                                 Teja.

There standeth a chest?

                               Balthilda.

Yea.

                                 Teja.

Wilt thou open the lid?

                               Balthilda.

Ah, it is heavy!

                                 Teja.

Now feel within! Deep, deep!... There Ildibad the old miser--well?

                     Balthilda (_disappointedly_).

A couple of bread crusts; is that all, Sire?

                                 Teja.

There is indeed nothing more.

                               Balthilda.

May I not then go quickly over to the Wagenburg?... Perhaps still ...

                                 Teja.

Oh nay.... They themselves need the fragments.... Bring that hither! As
brothers we shall share it--eh? And then there is sufficient for both.
Wilt thou?

                               Balthilda.

Yea. (_She sits beside him_.)

                                 Teja.

So, now give to me! Ah, that is good to the taste! Is it not good to
the taste? But ah, thou also must eat.

                               Balthilda.

I fear there is not enough for thee.

                                 Teja.

Nay, that is against the agreement.... So.... Is it not good to the
taste?

                               Balthilda.

To me nothing hath ever tasted half so sweet.

                                 Teja.

Pray come nearer to me ... I will take the crumbs from thy lap ...
So--why is it that suddenly I am hungry? See, now we celebrate our
marriage feast.

                               Balthilda.

And better than those without, with meat and wine--do we not?

                                 Teja.

Well, did I not tell thee?... But thou hast a bad seat!

                               Balthilda.

Nay, I am seated well!

                                 Teja.

Come, stand up! Pray, stand up!

                         Balthilda (_rising_).

Well?

                                 Teja.

Sit there, just above!

                        Balthilda (_terrified_).

Upon the throne--for God's sake--how dare I----?

                                 Teja.

Art thou not then the Queen?

                        Balthilda (_decidedly_).

If I must sit there in earnest! But in jest--nay!

                                 Teja.

Ah, the stupid bit of wood! (_He hurls down the throne_.) At least it
should be of use for something!... So now lean against it!

                               Balthilda.

Beloved, doest thou justly?

                          Teja (_surprised_).

Nay! (_He sets the throne up again, leads her to her former place,
and places her head against the seat_.) There indeed thou art well
seated--yea!... And we trespass not against this trash. If the Bishop
had seen that--he, ha, ha, ha! Wait, I will eat again!

                               Balthilda.

There, take!

                                 Teja.

Still--remain quite still! I shall fetch it for myself. (_He kneels
upon the podium beside her_.) Now I am quite upon my knees before
thee.... What is there that we do not learn!... Thou art beautiful!...
I never knew my mother!

                               Balthilda.

Never knew!

                                 Teja.

Never had a sister.... No one.... Never played in my life.... That I am
surely learning last not least.

                               Balthilda.

Why last not least?

                                 Teja.

Ask not--nay? Ah thou, thou! Ha, ha, ha! Pray eat! Bite from mine--yea?
Obediently--thou knowest what the Bishop said?

                Balthilda (_bites and then springs up_).

But wilt thou not also drink?

                                 Teja.

Ah, surely! Bring me only the milk jar! Bring me only the milk jar....
Thou knowest the one that Ildibad told us of.

                  Balthilda (_who has walked across_).

Is this the one?

                            Teja (_rising_).

That is indeed it. But thou also must drink.

                               Balthilda.

Is it fitting so?

                                 Teja.

I know not. It should be!

                               Balthilda.

So be it, then. (_She drinks and shakes with laughter_.) Ugh! That hath
a bad taste.

                                 Teja.

Give it to me. (_He drinks_.) Nay! (_He drinks again_.) Go!... Art thou
then such a despiser of nourishment?... Yea, who art thou then? And how
comest thou hither? And just what wilt thou of me?

                               Balthilda.

I will love thee!

                                 Teja.

Thou--my wife! Thou ... (_They fly into one another's arms. Softly_.)
And wilt thou not kiss me?

                (Balthilda _shakes her head, ashamed_.)

                                 Teja.

Why not?

                  (Balthilda _again shakes her head_.)

                                 Teja.

Yet tell me, why not?

                               Balthilda.

I will tell thee in thine ear.

                                 Teja.

Well?

                               Balthilda.

Thou hast a downy beard.[1]

                                 Teja.

(_Wipes his month in terror, then in assumed anger_.) What have I?
Knowest thou not who I am? How then dost thou suffer thyself to tell
thy King he--say it yet once more! I will but see.

                        Balthilda (_laughing_).

A--downy--beard.

                           Teja (_laughing_).

Now, wait!


                            _TWELFTH SCENE_.

                           THE SAME. ILDIBAD.

                                Ildibad.

Sire, thou calledst? (_He stands rigid with astonishment, and is about
to retire silently_.)

                                 Teja.

(_Collects himself abruptly. He appears to wake out of a dream. His
manners and bearing revert to the gloomy energy which previously had
the ascendency_.) Stop, stay, what happens without?

                                Ildibad.

The warriors return from the Wagenburg, sire, and most of the wives
come with them.

                                 Teja.

Are the leaders assembled?

                                Ildibad.

Yea, Sire.

                                 Teja.

They might have patience for a moment more.

                                Ildibad.

Yea, Sire.

                                 Teja.

For I also have a wife.

                                Ildibad.

Yea, verily, Sire.

                               [_Exit_.]


                          _THIRTEENTH SCENE_.

                            TEJA. BALTHILDA.

                               Balthilda.

Teja, beloved, what happeneth to thee?

                                 Teja.

(_Remains standing before her and takes her head in his hands_.) To me,
it is as if in this hour we had strayed hand in hand through a whole
world of joy and sorrow. That disappeareth--all disappeareth. I am
again the--I was--nay, I am not he.--But be thou high above all the
women, the Queen ... Wilt thou?

                               Balthilda.

Sire, what dost thou require of me?

                                 Teja.

Thou wilt not entreat and wilt not cry out?

                               Balthilda.

Nay, Sire.

                                 Teja.

The day draweth nigh. Before us standeth death.

                               Balthilda.

Sire, I understand thee not. None can attack us, and until the ships
come----

                                 Teja.

The ships come never more.

(Balthilda _strokes herself on the cheeks, and then stands
motionless_.)

                                 Teja.

But we men are going forth upon the field, to fight.

                               Balthilda.

That can ye not do--that is surely--impossible.

                                 Teja.

We must. Art thou the Queen, and perceivest not that we must?

                               Balthilda.

Yea--I--per--ceive--it.

                                 Teja.

The King fights in the foremost rank, and we shall see each other no
more alive.... Knowest thou that?

                               Balthilda.

Yea, I know it!... (_Silence. They look at each other_.)

                                 Teja.

Thy blessing will I have upon the way. (_He sinks on his knees before
her; she lays her hands upon his head, bends down to him, trembling,
and kisses him on the forehead_.)

                                 Teja.

(_Springs up and tears back the curtain_.) Enter, who waiteth there!


                          _FOURTEENTH SCENE_.

THE SAME. AMALABERGA, EURIC, AGILA, ATHANARIC, THEODEMIR, _and other
leaders_.

                              Amalaberga.

King, I sent my child to thee.... I hear ye men have to act.... Give
her again to me.

                                 Teja.

Here hast thou thy child! (_Exeunt_ Amalaberga _and_ Balthilda.)


                           _FIFTEENTH SCENE_.

             THE SAME. _Except_ AMALABERGA _and_ BALTHILDA.

                                 Teja.

(_Stares after them, rouses himself, and perceives the Bishop_.)
Bishop, I treated thee basely this evening. Forgive me and have my
thanks, for surely I also know why the Goth loveth death.... (_Grasps
his sword_.) Now be ye ready? Have the farewells been said?

                               Theodemir.

Sire, we have disobeyed thy command. Which of our wives betrayed it,
and which of us told it, that cannot be determined. Enough, they all
know it.

                                 Teja.

And then have cried ah and woe?

                               Theodemir.

Sire, they have silently kissed the blessing of death upon our brows.

                   Teja (_exclaims half to himself_).

They also! (_Aloud_.) Truly we are a nation of kings. It is our
misfortune. So come! (_He strides to the background. The others follow.
Amid the noisy cries of the people greeting the King, the curtain
falls_.)



                                   II

                               FRITZCHEN

                           A DRAMA IN ONE ACT



                                PERSONS

      Herr von Drosse, Major (retired), Lord of the Manor.
      Helene, his wife.
      Fritz, their son.
      Agnes, niece of Frau von Drosse.
      Von Hallerpfort, lieutenant.
      Stephan, overseer.
      Wilhelm, servant.



                               FRITZCHEN

_The action takes place on Herr von Drosse's estate. Time, the
present_.

_The scene represents a drawing-room on the ground floor. In the rear
are wide glass doors which stand open, and permit a view of the terrace
and splendid park lying beyond. Windows to the right and left. On the
right side, a sofa with table and chairs; on the left, a secretary with
writing materials. Handsome old-fashioned decorations, pictures of
battles, portraits in oval frames, racing prints, etc. The terrace is
sheltered by a broad awning which slightly subdues the glare of the
bright summer afternoon._


                             _FIRST SCENE_.

Wilhelm (_servant over sixty, in half livery, is engaged in arranging
the samovar for the afternoon coffee_). Agnes (_extremely slender,
nervous, with traces of mental distress--twenty years of age--blonde
hair smoothed on the temples, light muslin gown, a garden hat in her
hand--enters from the terrace_).

                                 Agnes.

Wilhelm, has the postman been here?

                          Wilhelm (_sighing_).

Yes, yes, he was here.

                                 Agnes.

Where are the things?

                                Wilhelm.

They are on the table, Fräulein.

                                 Agnes.

(_Goes quickly to the table and with feverish haste looks through the
small pile of newspapers and letters lying there_.) Again, nothing!

                                Wilhelm.

Yes, indeed--and this is the seventh day. Ah, it is really
heart-breaking.

                                 Agnes.

Are your master and mistress still taking their afternoon nap?

                                Wilhelm.

I have just heard the Major. He will be here directly--there he is now!


                            _SECOND SCENE_.

THE SAME. MAJOR VON DROSSE (_about fifty, tall, broad-shouldered,
rather stout. Dark-grayish full beard parted in the middle, waving
right and left over his shoulders. In the full, well-browned face with
flashing eyes and bushy eyebrows, there are energy and abundant
vitality, controlled by the self-command and chivalric manner of an old
officer. Brief in speech, domineering, but never without a gleam of
inner kindness_).

                                 Major.

Afternoon, Agnes!

                                 Agnes.

Afternoon, uncle!

                                 Major.

(_Goes to the table, examines the letters, sits down and looks straight
before him for a little while_.) Wilhelm!

                                Wilhelm.

What does the Major wish?

                                 Major.

Stephan is to come at once to the castle.

                                Wilhelm.

Very well, Major. (_Exit_.)

                                 Major.

Agnes, my child, just listen to me ... You are a reasonable creature
... One that I can talk to.... So the rascal has again not written.
He should have come to us, day before yesterday. Has made no
excuses--doesn't write--nothing. That has not happened during the six
years that he has been away from home. I ordered him most strictly to
send a letter, or at least a card, every day--for with her illness,
your aunt must be guarded against the slightest anxiety or excitement.
He knows that, and moreover has always observed it conscientiously. I
can't any longer be responsible for your aunt and her weakened heart.
Unless we use every means to keep her in her--visionary life, she will
go to pieces.

                                 Agnes.

Uncle!

                                 Major.

We must make up our minds to that, Agnes. Really, I do what I can.
Yesterday I even forged a telegram to her--you know that, eh! I did
intend to write to his intimate friend Hallerpfort, but thought better
of it. I shall drive into town directly after dark. Without your aunt
knowing it, of course--for now, during the harvest, that would upset
her still more. So you will stay all night with her, and er--well, the
rest I will arrange with Stephan.

                                 Agnes.

Very well, dear uncle.

                                 Major.

Just come here, girl, look me in the face ... We two know each other
and ... Eh?

                     (Agnes _casts down her eyes_.)

                                 Major.

Now see, I know very well that for two years you have been secretly
corresponding with Fritz.

                                 Agnes.

Uncle! (_Presses her hands to her face_.)

                                 Major.

There, that will do, that will do, that will do.... You can well
believe, if I had been opposed to it on principle, I should have
long since put an end to the business, shouldn't I?... But there are
things--well, in short, that you don't understand. Well, I should not
have begun about the matter to-day, but necessity knows no law, eh? And
if I go to see him this evening, I don't wish to grope altogether in
the dark.... So--on the basis of what has just been said--have you,
perhaps, by any chance had a letter from him?

                                 Agnes.

No, uncle!

                                 Major.

Hm!

                   Agnes (_hesitating, embarrassed_).

For some time we have not corresponded.

                                 Major.

So?--Ho, ho ...! Who is to blame for that?

                                 Agnes.

Ah, let us not talk about that, uncle. But from another quarter, I have
had news of him.

                                 Major.

When?

                                 Agnes.

Yesterday.

                                 Major.

And that you have----?

                                 Agnes.

(_Taking a letter from her pocket_.) Please read--and I think you will
not reproach me.

                    Major (_unfolding the letter_).

Ah, from the little Frohn! Now then, what does the little Frohn write?
(_Reads, muttering_.) Lanskis--Steinhof--met cousin--danced (_aloud_).
Indeed, then he could dance, but not write, that is a nice business--I
should not have believed it of him at all.... (_Reads further,
muttering_.) Eyes for the so-called beautiful Frau von Lanski ... The
whole regiment is talking of it.... Hm! eh, what! Such a goose! What
things such a goose does cackle!... Regiment has other things to bother
itself about.... But such a regulation goose ... If a young lieutenant
like that isn't all the time trotting after them. And when he once
shows attention to a lady who doesn't belong to the regiment ...
Besides, the Lanski is nearly forty ... Such idiocy! Then he might at
least--hm--hm--eh, pardon! Now then, what is it?... My poor old girl
... Yes, yes, jealousy ... You have borne up disgracefully since
yesterday.

                                 Agnes.

I think I have controlled myself, uncle?

                                 Major.

Yes, very true, girl, no one has noticed anything.


                             _THIRD SCENE_.

        THE SAME. WILHELM. _Afterward_ STEPHAN, _the overseer_.

                  Wilhelm (_entering from the right_).

Herr Stephan is there, Major.

                                 Major.

Come in!

                           (_Enter_ Stephan.)

Very well, my dear Stephen, I must drive into town directly after
dark. Unless I should be detained, I shall be here early to-morrow
morning--four and a half and four and a half more miles--nine miles....
The coach horses have been exercised to-day?

                                Stephan.

Yes, indeed, Major.

                                 Major.

Which are in better condition now, the browns or the whites?

                                Stephan.

That I don't permit myself to decide, Major. They have all had it
severely!

                                 Major.

Well, I will just go and have a look myself. Wilhelm--cap!

                                Wilhelm.

Very well, Major. (_Exit to the right_.)

                                 Major.

And at half after nine this evening, send a message to my wife and have
her told that I must stay all night at the brick kilns--eh, you
remember (_softly, looking around at_ Agnes) how we managed it the
other times when I was out at night.

                                Stephan.

All right, Major.

                                 Major.

Where is that fellow stopping with my cap? (_Enter_ Wilhelm.) Where
were you hiding, man? (Wilhelm _hands him the cap_.) And he is
tottering on his old legs! What are you tottering so for?

                                Wilhelm.

Indeed I am not tottering, Major.

                                 Major.

Well, come on, Stephan! (_Exeunt_ Major, Stephan, _through the garden
door_.)


                            _FOURTH SCENE_.

        AGNES. WILHELM. _Afterward_ LIEUTENANT VON HALLERPFORT.

                          Wilhelm (_softly_).

Fräulein, just now as I went out, Lieutenant von Hallerpfort was
standing there and wished to speak with Fräulein, privately. Neither
the master nor the mistress is to know anything of it ... God, Fräulein
is deadly pale!

                                 Agnes.

Ask the lieutenant to come in, and keep a lookout, if my aunt comes.

(Wilhelm _opens the door on the right, and disappears through the door
on the left hand_.)

                                 Agnes.

(_Meeting the lieutenant as he enters_.) Herr von Hallerpfort, what has
happened to Fritz?

                              Hallerpfort.

Nothing, Fräulein, not the least thing.... I am surprised that he is
not yet here.

                       Agnes (_rising joyfully_).

Ah! (_With a sigh of relief_.) Ha!

                              Hallerpfort.

I beg pardon a thousand times if I startled you.

                                 Agnes.

Will you please take a seat.

                              Hallerpfort.

Thank you, most humbly! (_They are seated_.) Your uncle and aunt, I
hope, will not----

                                 Agnes.

Uncle has just gone to the stables, and aunt's coming will be announced
to us.

                              Hallerpfort.

How is your aunt?

                                 Agnes.

Oh, I thank you, much as usual.--Herr von Hallerpfort, be frank with
me: What is this all about?

                              Hallerpfort.

Oh, absolutely nothing of any consequence. A little surprise--nothing
further--nothing further!

                                 Agnes.

To be sure, if he is really on his way here--didn't you ride here
together?

                              Hallerpfort.

No, I came by the way of the levee, and thought to overtake him. He
will have ridden by the highway.

                                 Agnes.

Then what is the object of this secrecy?

                              Hallerpfort.

That will soon be cleared up, Fräulein.... At this moment, in Fritz's
interest, I have to ask a great favour of you.... It is now (_takes out
his watch_) three forty-five o'clock. At four o'clock let us say five
minutes after four--even if we take into account some unforeseen
delay--yes--he must be here.... How long does it take to go to the
village to Braun's inn?

                                 Agnes.

Ten minutes--that is, by a short cut through the park, about five.

                              Hallerpfort.

Thank you most humbly. Then will you have the great kindness to reckon
by your watch a half hour from the moment when he comes in here, and
then send me a message to Braun's where I am stopping?

                                 Agnes.

At Braun's? I think you know, Herr von Hallerpfort, that this house----

                              Hallerpfort.

Oh, certainly that I know!... I only made the mistake of putting my
horse at the entrance to Braun's, and as he doesn't belong to me, it is
my duty to look after him.

                                 Agnes.

And all that is the truth?

                              Hallerpfort.

Absolutely.

                                 Agnes.

I should not be so persistent--forgive me for it--but here we have all
been so distressed about him. For nearly a week, we have sat and waited
for news.... Tell me truly.

                   Wilhelm (_entering at the left_).

Fräulein, your aunt.

                     Hallerpfort (_springing up_).

Good-bye, then! And be reassured, it is all about a joke--about----

                                 Agnes.

If only your face were not so serious.

                              Hallerpfort.

Oh, that--that is deceptive. (_Exit quickly to the right_.)


                             _FIFTH SCENE_.

AGNES. FRAU VON DROSSE (_extremely delicate in appearance, forty,
suffering--with girlish complexion--gay, absent smile--dreamy, gentle
expression--gliding, careful walk--breathing deeply_).

                                 Agnes.

(_Hastens to meet her, to support her_.) Forgive me, aunt, that I did
not go to fetch you.

                            Frau von Drosse.

No matter, darling ... I could manage.... Is there any news?

                       (Agnes _shakes her head_.)

                      Frau von Drosse (_sighing_).

Ah, yes.

                                 Agnes.

Do you know, aunt, I have a sort of presentiment that he will soon be
here himself.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Yes, if things happened according to presentiments!


                             _SIXTH SCENE_.

                       THE SAME. MAJOR. WILHELM.

                                 Major.

Well, darling, are you in good spirits?... No!... Well, what is it
then? What is it then?

                            Frau von Drosse.

Ah, Richard, you surely know.

                                 Major.

Oh, nonsense! Don't worry yourself uselessly.... A young badger like
that--service and casino and what not! I used not to do any better
myself ... Eh, Wilhelm, that you will have remembered even in your
booziness? Many a time I didn't write for four weeks.

                 Wilhelm (_who is handing the coffee_).

Yes, Major.

                                 Major.

And were you at all worried then?

                                Wilhelm.

Yes, Major.

                                 Major.

Old donkey.... Well, you see how it is ... The same old story.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Richard, do you know, last night a thought came to me. They all idolise
him--that boy.

                                 Major.

Yes?

                            Frau von Drosse.

Well, with the ladies of the regiment, it is no great wonder....

                                 Major.

So far as they wish to get married--no.

                            Frau von Drosse.

But there is another who takes a very special interest in
him--motherly, as one might say.... No, motherly is not just the right
word, but at any rate, purely human, purely spiritual--you know what I
mean. At the last ball in Wartenstein, she questioned me at length
about him, about his childhood, and everything possible. At the time I
was really rather indignant, but now it pleases me.... I shall write to
her to-day and ask her to keep an eye upon him. For you see, a woman's
influence--that is what he needs.

                                 Major.

Ah, the poor devil! And for that purpose, one of the kind.... Who then
is it?

                            Frau von Drosse.

Why! You surely know her ... Frau von Lanski of Steinhof.

                           (Agnes _winces_.)

                                 Major.

Ah, indeed--well, to be sure, hm--that is quite probable.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Their estate is quite close to the city ... There he could always go in
the evenings ... If only the husband were not so rude. I should be
afraid of him.

                                 Major.

Well, you are not a lieutenant of hussars, darling.

                                 Agnes.

Won't you drink your coffee, aunt? It will be quite cold.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Ah, the stupid fig-coffee. To be sure, your health is good, you don't
need anything of the kind! (_drinks_) Richard, do you know, last night
I saw a vision.

                                 Major.

Well, what did you see this time, darling?

                            Frau von Drosse.

There was a wide chamber with many mirrors and lights--perhaps it was
Versailles--perhaps the castle at Berlin. And hundreds of generals
stood there and waited.... (_Excitedly_.) And suddenly the door was
opened wide and at the side of the Emperor----

                                 Agnes.

Drink, aunt--tell about it later--it excites you.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Yes, my sweet one, yes. (_Drinks and leans back exhausted_.) You know,
Richard, perhaps they are to increase his pay.

                                 Major.

Surely he has enough, darling. Do you wish him to gamble it away?

                            Frau von Drosse.

Very well, then, let him gamble it away. I find that in general we pay
so little heed to him.... I am obliged to think all the time how he
acted in a roundabout way in the matter of Foxblaze. He didn't trust
himself even to tell it.

                          Major (_laughing_).

No, child--but just stop.... Besides the charger he already has two
others ... And one of them is Mohammed! Such a big stable--it is only a
nuisance to him.... Just consider!

                            Frau von Drosse.

Ah, it is surely only restlessness. Ah, I wish he were only----

                                Wilhelm.

(_Who had gone out, appears excitedly at the door on the right and
calls softly_.) Major, Major!

                        Major (_springing up_).

What is it?

                       Wilhelm (_in a whisper_).

The--the--young master!

              Frau von Drosse (_turning round suddenly_).

What is it about the young master?

               Major (_rushes out. His voice is heard_).

Boy, boy, boy!

          (Frau von Drosse _breaks out in ecstatic laughter_.)

                                 Agnes.

Quietly, aunt! Quietly! Don't excite yourself!


                            _SEVENTH SCENE_.

THE SAME. FRITZ VON DROSSE (_in hussar uniform, his mother's son,
slender, delicate, very youthful, blond to the roots of his closely
cropped hair, small curled moustache, erratic person. Uneasiness is
veiled beneath a noisy cheerfulness_).

                            Frau von Drosse.

(_Goes to meet him with outstretched arms_.) My God! there he really
is!

                                 Fritz.

I should think he was! (_Presses her to his heart and strokes her hair,
closes his eyes a moment, as if overcome with faintness_.) But be
seated, mamma, be seated. Confound it, but I have ridden! And on the
way, my horse lost another shoe.

                                 Major.

Mohammed?

                                 Fritz.

No, I am riding the Spy.

                                 Major.

Where did it happen?

                                 Fritz.

Thank God! just near Gehlsdorf.... I wasted twenty-five minutes at the
blacksmith's.... But then--when--you should have seen!... Yes, Wilhelm,
just see to it that the horse is well scraped and rubbed down. And
don't let him stand just now--first lead him about properly.... An
hour, feeding time--understand, old chap?... There, give me your
paw--so!--don't be so agitated.... And now, go on, out with you!

                           (_Exit_ Wilhelm.)

                            Frau von Drosse.

Come here, my Fritzchen, sit beside me!

                                 Fritz.

Very well, mamma, let us, very well!

                            Frau von Drosse.

You see, Agnes she had a presentiment about you.

                                 Fritz.

Ah! Good-day, Agnes!

                                 Agnes.

Good-day, Fritz!

                                 Fritz.

You are so formal!

                                 Agnes.

I?... Ah, no, dear Fritz.... Would you not like to drink something?

               (Fritz _stares at her, without replying_.)

                                 Major.

Fritz!

                         Fritz (_starting up_).

Yes, father!

                                 Major.

You are asked a question.

                                 Fritz.

To be sure, pardon me!... Pardon me, dear Agnes!... It is the heat ...
It makes one quite idiotic.... Please bring me anything you like....
No, bring me rather some Rhine wine.... Bring some of the '64.

                          Major (_laughing_).

You go eagerly at the stuff, my son....

                                 Fritz.

Forgive me, father, if I was too bold. I don't know how I came to do
it.

                          Major (_to_ Agnes).

Just bring it, bring it.

(Agnes _takes the keys from the shelf and goes out to the right_.)

                            Frau von Drosse.

How long have you furlough, my boy?

                                 Fritz.

Furlough? Ha, ha, furlough ... No furlough at all. Sixty precious
minutes, I have spared for you (_stretching himself_) then it is over!
(_Throws himself into a chair standing near the place where his mother
is sitting_.)

                                 Major.

It is "over," what does that mean? Are you then on duty?

                                 Fritz.

On duty?... Well, yes indeed, I am on duty--to be sure--of course.

                                 Major.

What duty can that be?

                                 Fritz.

Well, a patrol ride, of course.

                                 Major.

When did you set out?

                                 Fritz.

At noon, father.

                                 Major.

Remarkable. In my time, the cavalry rode in patrol service rather about
midnight.

                                 Fritz.

Yes, the old man[2] does such things.... It is all one to him. If he
can give petty annoyance. Yes.

                                 Major.

How do you have time to stop in here?

                                 Fritz.

Well, I had to unsaddle, and anyhow have ridden four and a half miles.
It was only the question whether I should feed the horse at Braun's at
the entrance where one gets merely water or----

                                 Major.

Of course you are right about that.

                Frau von Drosse (_stroking his hands_).

See what brown hands the boy has got.... I wonder how they can be
burned through the gloves ... Just look, Richard, he has the white mark
on his forehead, there where it is shaded. The last time, it was not
there. My boy, my boy! (_Bends down her head and kisses him on the
forehead_.)

(Fritz _closes his eyes and utters a low whimpering exclamation of
pain_.)

                            Frau von Drosse.

What was it? Did I hurt you, my boy?

                  Fritz (_with embarrassed laughter_).

Oh, no--no!

                                 Major.

Control yourself, Fritz!

                                 Fritz.

Yes, father!

                            Frau von Drosse.

Let him alone, Richard! Remember he has to leave directly.

                 Fritz (_staring straight before him_).

Yes, I must go directly.

               Major (_shaking his head, examines him_).

Remarkable!

            Agnes (_who returns with a bottle and glasses_).

There is the wine, dear Fritz.

                                 Fritz.

Ah, if only the wine is there! (_Hurries to the table and pours the
wine_.) Does no one touch glasses with me?

                                 Major.

Just wait, I will touch glasses with you.

                                 Fritz.

Then long life to us, friends! May we live happily.... Long may we
live.... (_Musing_.) May we live as long as possible!

                                 Major.

But you are not drinking.

                                 Fritz.

Yes, yes. (_Tosses down a glass_.)

                                 Major.

Well, I should like to take this occasion to ask you just why you don't
write to us any more.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Please, Richard, please say nothing to him--he telegraphed.

                     Fritz (_starting anxiously_).

Telegraphed? What did I telegraph?

        (Major _makes signals to him behind his mother's back_.)

                                 Fritz.

Yes, of course. You see, father, I telegraphed.... And then, not long
ago, I fell from the trapeze and sprained my arm a bit.

                            Frau von Drosse.

You see, Richard, that is what hurt him just now; and yet you scolded
him.

                                 Fritz.

Mamma, father is right.... A soldier is not allowed to show signs of
pain--he has no pain. That is something which doesn't happen, it is
something which doesn't happen at all, does it, Agnes?

                                 Agnes.

Why do you ask _me_, Fritz?

                                 Major.

Remarkable!... You know, darling, the boy would like something to eat.
In such cases, you always see to it yourself--eh?

                                 Fritz.

No, indeed, mother--stay here, mother. (_He grasps her hands_.)

                    Frau von Drosse (_imploringly_).

Richard, the time is just now so short.

                                 Major.

Won't do, child! I have to speak to him about something.

                                 Fritz.

What is it, father? There is indeed no question of ...

              Frau von Drosse (_standing up and sighing_).

Don't be too long, Richard. Remember I wish to have something more of
him. (_Goes with_ Agnes _to the door on the left, where she turns
again_.) My boy, don't you look at me any more?

                                 Fritz.

(_Who has been standing with averted face, biting his lips, turns
suddenly_.) At your service, mother!

                            Frau von Drosse.

Now he is on his "at your service" footing, even with me.

                 (_Exit_ Frau von Drosse _with_ Agnes.)


                            _EIGHTH SCENE_.

                             MAJOR. FRITZ.

                                 Major.

Well, Fritz, my boy, here we are now alone, just out with what you have
to say ... Exactly what is the matter?

                                 Fritz.

Nothing, father, absolutely nothing ... What should be the matter?

                                 Major.

You know, this story about the sprained arm and the patrol ride, that
is simply a lie!

                                 Fritz.

How so?

                                 Major.

Will you smoke a cigar with me?

                                 Fritz.

If you please ... That is, I should like a glass of water. (_Tosses
down two glasses of water_.)

                      Major (_lights his cigar_).

Just see, Fritz, in your rage you fail to notice that I am insulting
you here.

                                 Fritz.

How can a father be said to insult his son? If you don't believe me,
then you just don't believe me.

                                 Major.

But we are both officers, my son.... Well, let us set that
aside--besides that, we are a couple of good friends from time
immemorial.... Isn't that the case--are we not?

                                 Fritz.

Oh, to be sure.

                                 Major.

And when I see you running about here--in ecstasy or despair--I can
make nothing out of it. Yes, I should like to advise you to put a
little more confidence in me.... The affair is surely not so bad that a
man of experience cannot put it in order again.... So just sit down
here a while.... Have you gambled?

                                 Fritz.

Yes, I have gambled too.

                                 Major.

Have you lost?

                                 Fritz.

No, I have won.

                                 Major.

Then, as to women--how is it about women?

                    Fritz (_shrugs his shoulders_).

Ah!

                                 Major.

Boy, don't be so hard in the mouth.... Do you think I don't know you
are in love?...

                                 Fritz.

In love? Ah, good God!

                                 Major.

Just think, my boy, only a year and a half ago, you came to me one fine
day and explained to me that you wished to engage yourself to Agnes....
You know that I have not the slightest objection to Agnes. She will
make an excellent Frau von Drosse.

                                 Fritz.

Indeed? Do you believe it?

                                 Major.

But your twenty-one years and, ah, good God!... You still carry about
with you most merrily the eggshells on your back--as the infantry
carries the knapsack. You hadn't the slightest idea of what are
commonly called "women"--of course, I don't count barmaids and such
people.... So I said to you: "My boy, let this interview be buried--and
above all, so far as Agnes is concerned.... Do as your father and your
grandfather did! Get some experience and--then come again." Don't you
remember that?

                                 Fritz.

I should think I did remember it.

                           Major (_smiling_).

And now, it seems to me, you have had some experience.

                                 Fritz.

Oh, yes, there is no denying that.

                        Major (_still smiling_).

You have in the end had a so-called "passion," or are stuck in the
middle of it; which of the two I don't know. Yet to judge from the
discontinuance of your letters, the latter is the case.... Since we are
here together as two men, I will not expostulate with you further....
You know perhaps the story of that abbé who, in society, once excused
the absence of his bishop with the words: "Monseigneur est en retard à
cause d'amour." To a certain extent, this holds good in every case....
But in spite of that, on your mother's account, don't do it again. That
is my advice to you.... There! And now we'll enter at once upon the
matter itself.... Just see, Frau von Lanski is, it will be admitted, a
very charming woman, but----

                         Fritz (_impetuously_).

Father, how do you come to refer to Frau von Lanski?

                                 Major.

There, there, there, only take it calmly, only take it calmly.... I
know just what there is to know about such affairs, and I don't by any
means wish to pry into your secrets ... But so far as the grand passion
is concerned, be calm.... I can cure you again ... Be quite calm.

                                 Fritz.

That I can well believe, father, if only you have the time necessary to
do it.

                           Major (_smiling_).

Well, why haven't I?

                                 Fritz.

Because, in twenty-four hours, I shall be a dead man.

                                 Major.

(_Springing up, and taking him by the shoulder_.) Boy!

                                 Fritz.

Father, I did not wish to tell anything. I came here only to take
farewell of you in silence. But you have drawn it out of me, father.

                    Major (_flying into a passion_).

So, there's a scandal.... You had to carry it to the point of making a
scandal--you damned fool! (_More calmly_.) Lanski has challenged you?

                         (Fritz _nods assent_.)

                                 Major.

Well, yes--and it is well known--Lanski is a dead shot. He is perhaps
the best shot anywhere hereabouts.... But still your wrist is in good
order. How can one throw the thing away like that? I have fought three
duels, and two of them under difficult conditions--eh--and--there, see
here! How can one say such a thing? How can one, man?

                                 Fritz.

Father, the affair at this moment is in such a state that, after all, I
don't know whether I shall be granted a duel!

                          Major (_hoarsely_).

I don't understand that, Fritz.

                                 Fritz.

Then don't ask me!... I can't say it, father.... I had rather bite off
my tongue. (_Pauses_.)

                                 Major.

(_Goes to the door on the left, opens it, looks out, and closes it
again_.) Now speak! (_Wildly_.) Speak or----

                                 Fritz.

For me, father, there is no more any "or." ... Whether you turn me out
or not, it is all the same.

                 Major (_softly, grinding his teeth_).

Do you wish to drive me mad, boy?

                         (Fritz _crying out_).

He whipped me--across the courtyard--out into the street--whipped me
like a beast!

                       Major (_after a silence_).

Where was your sabre? You could have run him through.

                 (Fritz _silent, with downcast eyes_.)

                                 Major.

Where was your sabre, I ask you?

                                 Fritz.

It was--not--at hand, father.

                                 Major.

It was not at hand.... Hm!... Now I understand it all. Surely there is
nothing left to wish! And this catastrophe occurred when?

                                 Fritz.

Yesterday evening, father!

                                 Major.

At what time?

                                 Fritz.

It was still--daylight!

                                 Major.

Ha, ha!

                                 Fritz.

Father, only don't laugh! Have pity on me!

                                 Major.

Have you had pity on me?... Or on your mother? or on--on.... Just look,
look about you ... All that was made for you!... All that was waiting
for you.... For two centuries we Drosses have struggled and scraped
together and fought with death and devil merely for you.... The house
of Drosse was resting on your two shoulders, my son.... And you have
let it fall into the mire, and now you would like to be pitied!

                                 Fritz.

Dear father, listen.... Since you have known it, I am quite calm....
What you say is all very true, but I cannot bear the responsibility
alone. Listen; when I came to you that time, on account of Agnes, my
whole heart was attached to her. So far as I was concerned, other men's
wives could go to the devil.

                                 Major.

Did I drive you, then, after other men's wives?

                                 Fritz.

Yes, father, otherwise what does that mean: "Get some experience,
ripen, do as your father and grandfather did"?... In the regiment, they
still call you the wild Drosse, and tales are still told of your former
love adventures.... They tell some such stories even of a late date....
For my part, I had not the least taste for such diversions. I used to
see in every woman who did not belong to me, a sort of holy thing....
That may have been a green way of looking at it, but you would have
allowed it; and with Agnes, I should have quietly----

                                 Major.

Stop! Have pity! Stop!

                                 Fritz.

See, now you say to me all at once, "have pity"--Father, I am a dying
man, I did not come here to make reproaches, but do you make none to
me!

                                 Major.

(_Embracing him, and stroking his hair_.) My son--my all--my boy--I
don't permit--I will not----

                                 Fritz.

Silence, silence, father! Mother should not hear that.

                                 Major.

Yes, forgive me for giving way. It shall not happen again.... So how
does the affair stand now?

                                 Fritz.

I reported myself to the old man, that very night.

                                 Major.

My God! Whatever did the old Frohn say?

                                 Fritz.

Spare me that, father.... Of course, I obtained the usual furlough at
once, until the discharge comes. Well, that doesn't matter now.... It
does not last long, thus.... This morning, the court of honor had a
sitting. After my hearing, I rode away at once, so as to lose no time.
I gave Mohammed to Hallerpfort in order to have him follow me as soon
as judgment was pronounced. He may be here at any moment.

                                 Major.

Why did you summon a court of honor?

                                 Fritz.

What was I to do, father, after Lanski declared to those who delivered
my challenge that I was no longer--capable of having satisfaction?

                                 Major.

Ah! I will shoot the dog dead for that.

                                 Fritz.

Well, I hope they will decide favourably to me.

                                 Major.

If not, the dev-- (_Softly_.) And then I will tell you a couple of
measures to take so as to have a steady hand. Sleep properly, and don't
eat a bite, and then tell the doctor----

                                 Fritz.

Enough, enough, father, that is of no further use.

                                 Major.

What does that mean? Is it possible that you will--to Lanski?----

                                 Fritz.

Lanski will hit me. Depend upon it....

                                 Major.

Man, are you--are you----?

                                 Fritz.

Lanski will hit me. Depend upon it....

                                 Major.

Man, yet have--yet consider----

                                 Fritz.

I will not, father! And if you had seen the spectacle which the people
of Wartenstein saw yesterday (_shudders_), you would demand nothing
more of life for me than a half-respectable death....

                          Major (_brokenly_).

Perhaps--they will not--grant you--the duel.

                                 Fritz.

Well, if we have got to that last hope, father, then we are indeed in
bad straits.... Shall I perhaps open a dram-shop in Chicago, or a
cattle business with my paternal capital? Yes? Would you have done it?

                          Major (_perplexed_).

I?

                                 Fritz.

Say then say!

                     Major (_drawing himself up_).

No! (_Sinks down in his chair_.)

                                 Fritz.

So you see, father--so or so--your Fritz is done for.

                   Major (_sunk in gloomy reverie_).

My fault!--my----


                             _NINTH SCENE_.

       THE SAME. WILHELM. _Afterward_ LIEUTENANT VON HALLERPFORT.

                                 Fritz.

What is it?

                                Wilhelm.

Lieutenant von Hallerpfort wishes to speak to the young master.

                                 Fritz.

(_Hurrying past him to the door_.) Well?

(Hallerpfort _shakes hands with him and the_ Major, _and casts a glance
at_ Wilhelm, _who forthwith disappears_.)

                                 Fritz.

Well?

                              Hallerpfort.

Does your father know?

                                 Major.

Yes, my dear Hallerpfort, I know.--Granted?

                              Hallerpfort.

To-morrow morning, half after four o'clock behind the large
drill-ground.

                                 Fritz.

Thank God!

                                 Major.

Thank God! (_They embrace_.)

                     Fritz (_disengaging himself_).

Conditions?

                              Hallerpfort.

Fifteen paces--advance--five paces barrier--exchange of shots----

                                 Fritz.

To a finish?

                              Hallerpfort.

To a finish.

                                 Fritz.

Very well!

(Major _turns toward the door, and presses his hands to his face_.)

                    Hallerpfort (_approaching him_).

Major, as your son's best friend----

                     Major (_grasping his hands_).

I thank you, my dear Hallerpfort, I thank you.... You will ride away at
once, will you not?

                              Hallerpfort.

Unfortunately we must, Major.

                                 Major.

Then just listen.... I will pass the hours until the duel, with my
son.... That you can understand, can't you?... My carriage is hitched
up but I cannot go away with you for fear of making my sick wife
uneasy. Wait for me at the end of half an hour in Schrander's inn....
Don't fear. We shall be on time....

                              Hallerpfort.

It will be as you order, Major.

                                 Major.

And now, courage, Fritz!

                                 Fritz.

That is understood, father!

                                 Major.

(_Holding open the door on the left, in a different tone_.) Now, boys,
just come quickly in! Only think, darling----


                             _TENTH SCENE_.

                       THE SAME. FRAU VON DROSSE.

                            Frau von Drosse.

Ah--Herr von Hallerpfort! (_He kisses her hand_.) How does this happen?
Two lieutenants in the house at the same time--if that doesn't bring
luck!

                           Fritz (_quickly_).

We have orders together, mamma.

                              Hallerpfort.

And alas, madam, we have to be off this very minute.

                            Frau von Drosse.

How is that? Then I don't have my full hour? And now everything is so
beautifully arranged.... Fritz, my dear Hallerpfort--just a bite, won't
you?... Richard, dear, come to my aid.

                                 Major.

But, dear child, service is service.

                     Fritz (_with quick decision_).

So, good-bye, mamma!

                   Frau von Drosse (_embracing him_).

My boy--you will soon have furlough, won't you?

                                 Fritz.

Yes indeed, mamma! After the man[oe]uvres. Then we are free. Then we
will be merry!

                            Frau von Drosse.

And Hallerpfort is coming with you, isn't he?

                              Hallerpfort.

With your permission, madam.

                      Major (_softly, to_ Agnes).

Take leave of him! You will never see him again!

                                 Fritz.

(_Stretching out his hand cheerfully to her_.) Dear Ag-- (_Looks into
her face, and understands that she knows. Softly, earnestly_.)
Farewell, then.

                                 Agnes.

Farewell, Fritz!

                                 Fritz.

I love you.

                                 Agnes.

I shall always love you, Fritz!

                                 Fritz.

Away then, Hallerpfort! Au revoir, papa! Au revoir! Revoir! (_Starts
for the door on the right_.)

                            Frau von Drosse.

Go by the park, boys--there I have you longer in sight.

                                 Fritz.

Very well, mamma, we will do it! (_Passes with_ Hallerpfort _through
the door at the centre; on the terrace, he turns with a cheerful
gesture, and calls once more_.) Au revoir! (_His voice is still
audible_.) Au revoir!

(Frau von Drosse _throws kisses after him, and waves her handkerchief,
then presses her hand wearily to her heart and sighs heavily_.)


                           _ELEVENTH SCENE_.

                     MAJOR. FRAU VON DROSSE. AGNES.

(Agnes _hurries to her, and leads her to a chair, then goes over to
the_ Major, _who, with heaving breast is lost in thought_.)

                            Frau von Drosse.

Thank you, my darling!--Already, I am quite well again!... God, the
boy! How handsome he looked! And so brown and so healthy.... You see, I
saw him exactly like that last night.... No, that is no illusion! And I
told you how the Emperor led him in among all the generals! And the
emperor said (_More softly, looking far away with a beatific smile_.)
And the Emperor said----



                                CURTAIN.



                                  III

                         THE ETERNAL MASCULINE

                           A PLAY IN ONE ACT



                                PERSONS


      The Queen.
      The Marshal.
      The Painter.
      The Valet de Chambre.
      The Marquis in Pink.
      The Marquis in Pale Blue.
      The Sleepy Maid of Honour.
      The Deaf Maid of Honour.
      A Child as Cupid.

Several other Marquises and Maids of Honour.



                         THE ETERNAL MASCULINE

_The scene represents a state apartment in a royal castle. On the left,
a throne in baroque style. On the right, in the background a screen
with a table and chairs beside it. In the centre, an easel._


                             _FIRST SCENE_.

THE QUEEN _in a plaited coronation robe, on the throne_. THE PAINTER
_with palette in hand, painting_. A CHILD _as_ CUPID, _suspended by the
waist, swings on_ THE QUEEN'S _left, holding a crown over her head. The
background and the right of the stage are occupied by ladies and
gentlemen of the court, among them_ THE DEAF MAID OF HONOUR, THE SLEEPY
MAID OF HONOUR, THE MARQUIS IN PINK, and MARQUIS IN PALE BLUE.

                      SONG OF THE MAIDS OF HONOUR.

                   (Led by The Marquis in Pale Blue.)

            Zephyr rises at the dawn
            From the budding pillows of the roses.
            Lo, he will cool his hot desire
            In the silvery dew,
            Since he must console himself
            That his dream still fans the flame,
            And that Luna's icy kiss
            Does but touch his parched mouth.

            And Aurora's violet passion
            Looks on him with floods of tears.
            Ah! What matters Luna's favour?--
            She knows not how to kiss.

                         The Queen (_yawning_).

The pretty verses which you have just sung to sweeten this long posing
for me, grieve me slightly. Yet--aside from that--accept my thanks.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Oh, your Majesty!

                               The Queen.

Are you a poet, Marquis?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Oh, your Majesty, up to this time I have not been; but who should not
speak in verse where this magic enthrals us, where our hearts are
habitually broken, and Cupid himself bears the royal crown?

                        (Cupid _begins to cry_).

                         First Maid of Honour.

What is the matter with him?

                         Second Maid of Honour.

Ah, the sweet child!

                         First Maid of Honour.

Be good! Nice and good! Here is a sweetmeat!

                                 Cupid.

I want to get down! My legs are cold.

                               The Queen.

Oh, fie! The word offends my ears.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Pardon him, your Majesty, the saucy child surely does not know that in
your presence one can speak only of roses, lilies, and such delicate
things.

                               The Queen.

It seems to me that the little fellow lacks education.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Hereafter, only children from superior families should be chosen for
this purpose.

                               The Queen.

And you, respected artist, have no word to say?

                              The Painter.

It is not fitting that every one should speak. I am engaged to paint,
not to make speeches. Still, may I ask you to send the boy away?

(The Queen _laughing, makes a sign. Two maids of honour set him free_.)

                          The Marquis In Pink.

What a way of speaking!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

What a plebeian!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

 How self-conscious!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

And she dotes on him!

                               The Queen.

Nay, dear master, speak! For rarely do I have the pleasure of finding
my thought sympathetically stimulated by the thought of another. I do
so like to think--I like to _feel_ perhaps even better--yet these
gentlemen talk as if they were in a fever.

                             The Marquises.

Oh, your Majesty!

                               The Queen.

Yes, indeed! Look for the man who without hope of meretricious gain
knows how to devote himself faithfully to noble service, and who
without honeyed phrases gracefully pursues what is dear to his soul; as
for you--you could borrow for yourselves a little of love's fire merely
from the confectioner's kitchen.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Oh, that is severe!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Oh, that is almost deadly!

                               The Queen.

Then resist, and do not drag along inoffensively the burden, new every
day, of my old contempt which I bestow upon you, because it pleases me
to, like the ordinance of God. But let him expect my reward who can say
worthily and honourably: Behold, oh Queen, I am a man!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

I am one!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

So am I!

                               The Queen.

I don't think ill of you! I like you. You don't disturb my repose--yet,
dear master, what say you to that?

                              The Painter.

I pray, your Majesty, still a little farther to the right.

                         The Queen (_smiling_).

And is that all? Does nothing which may occur in this room interest
you?

                              The Painter.

Pardon me, your Majesty, the daylight is scanty, and besides--I am
painting.

                               The Queen.

Look at him! A ray of light is of more value to him than all the
foolish, gaudy songs of love. Is it not true? See, his very silence and
bow betoken decided resistance.

                              The Painter.

Madam, forgive me if my words and bearing were an occasion and reason
for misunderstanding. I speak now, because you call on me to speak.
Every ray of light is a ray of love, and if its portrayer were to shut
it out, I should like to know what would remain of this poor art which
derives its sublimest power from the sources of desire. If our heart
does not tremble in our hand, if into the flood of forms which stream
from it, no flash of inner lightning shines, how shall we express in
these colours life's image, the storm of the passions, the shy play of
slight feeling, the desperate vacillation of exhausted hope, and all
the rest of our inner life? In these seven blotched colours (_points to
the palette_) where the whole wide universe is portrayed, where if our
senses are starving for truth, is phantasy to look for food and
deliverance? Yet if we have to speak with wisdom, elegantly and
cleverly, then the mysterious volition is silent and the promised land
recedes far away from us. Therefore, madam, leave me what belongs to us
who are poor, the sacred right to create and to be silent.

                               The Queen.

You call yourself poor and yet you are rich. You might be equal to the
rulers of this earth. Yet what avails the kingdom of your vision? The
splendid gift of confidence is wanting to you.

                              The Painter.

How, your Majesty?

                               The Queen.

Like a Harpagon, you guard the treasures of your soul, lest any
of your feelings should be stolen. No one risks it--Jean, give me my
smelling-bottle.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

She inflames him.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

On the contrary, she cools him off.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Just to inflame him anew.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

I wonder if she truly loves him?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

At any rate, she wishes to excite him.

                               The Queen.

There, Jean, _merci_.... Yet what was I about to say, has no one seen
anything of our Marshal?

                    The Marquis in Pink (_softly_).

Is he still missing?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Why does she want _him_, too?

                               The Queen.

I really believe the good Marshal is offended. It is three days since I
spoke to him graciously at the state reception.... That seems long to
me.

                 The Painter (_turning to_ The Queen).

Is the Marshal back? The Marshal here?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

May it please your Majesty, a gentleman of the court met him to-day. He
was standing in a pouring rain, and trying a new sword.

                      The Painter (_to himself_).

The Marshal.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

(_Half aloud to_ The Painter.) Admit, sir, that his coming is
inconvenient to you?

                               The Queen.

Do you know him, master?

                              The Painter.

Your Majesty, I have never seen him.

                               The Queen.

Yet you would like to make his acquaintance?

                              The Painter.

That I don't know.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

(_Softly to_ The Marquis in Pale Blue.) How the coward betrays himself!

                              The Painter.

Too often I have heard his name spoken in wonder, here with disfavour,
there with enthusiasm, yet always as if a miracle was happening to me,
too often for me not to view with apprehension the nearness of this
powerful man.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

What did I say? He is afraid.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

That is splendid!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

We must see to that and profit by it. (_Aloud_.) Yet I advise you, dear
master, hold your own. He has a habit sometimes of running people
through. Yet----

                              The Painter.

As one impales flies--of an afternoon--on the wall? My felicitations,
Marquis! Happily for you, it is plain that he has never been bored.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

How do you intend that?

                               The Queen.

Gentlemen, I must beg you! At court, the master has good company. It
amuses me when he meets your insolence with wit and spirit, and gives
you a return thrust. Only try the experiment! I am waiting.... Please,
Jean, my handkerchief!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

I have a right to be angry!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Yes, indeed, you have been insulted!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Ha! Fearful is a man in anger! What do you think--can the dauber defend
himself?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Attack him first from behind, then to his face.

                               The Queen.

I thank you, Jean.... Well, now, you dear men, you whisper, sulk, and
mutter to each other. What is the use of my kindling your wit? I don't
strike even a little spark from the stone. So you are dismissed....
Take a holiday. And do you, my children, go home. But in a little
while, master, let us talk together, after our hearts' desire! The
ladies of the suite--they will not disturb you.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

I believe it. One of them is asleep.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

The other can't hear.

                               The Queen.

Good-bye! I wish you to go home to do penance for your sins of love.
(_Goes to the door on the right_.) One thing more. When you see the
good Marshal, give him my greetings. (_Exit, followed by the ladies.
Only the sleepy lady remains, sitting_.)

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

(_Softly to the deaf lady_.) Pst! Wake her! (_She nods to him
pleasantly and goes out_.) Ah, yes, she is deaf!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

(_Pointing at the lady asleep_.) Pluck her by the sleeve.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Fräulein, allow me?

                       The Sleepy Maid Of Honour.

(_Springs up with a little cry, makes a low curtsey to_ The Marquis,
_which he returns in kind, then follows the other ladies_.)


                            _SECOND SCENE_.

                      THE MARQUISES. THE PAINTER.

(The Painter _paints, without noticing the others, then takes a
buttered roll from his pocket and eats_.)

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Ha, now I am going to kill him!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Don't you know it is forbidden? The punishment would be severe. They
say, too, that he wields a keen blade, and before you know it you are
dead as a mouse.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

I am surprised at that. Yet whether we love or hate him, one thing is
as clear to me as day: he must not be allowed to quit this palace
alive.

                            Another Marquis.

Pardon me, Marquis, why not?

                          The Marquis In Pink.

You don't see deeply into this, Marquis. It seems almost as if you were
a simpleton. Has she not mocked us, and exclaimed at our cooing,
rustling, sweet speaking, and whimpering? Yet she delights to have him
paint her; and as a reward, she loves him.

                          The Second Marquis.

Ha, terrible!

                           The Third Marquis.

Who told you that?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Have pity on us, friend, and give us proofs!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Well, his Majesty (_all bow_) is, alas, well on in years! (_All assent
sorrowfully_.) Whom else does she love? There must at any rate be some
one!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

For God's sake, be prudent and speak softly!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

What is he doing there?

                          The Second Marquis.

He is eating.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Fie, how vulgar!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

What will happen to the Marshal?

                          The Marquis In Pink.

That seems to me doubtful. Sometimes she is pleasant with him,
sometimes ill-humoured. I have tried to get rid of him, but he still
stays by me. He causes me the pangs of jealousy. She must love one of
us. We are here for that purpose. Yet inasmuch as this wandering fellow
has stolen her heart, he must die--and that on the spot.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Patience, Marquis, patience! Of all the means of shaking off this
insolent fellow, there is one which is really exquisite. Without
breaking the laws, if we set the Marshal on him, instead of being
disturbers of the peace, we shall escape scot-free. He dies, of course,
and it would be a wonder--yet what am I saying?--He is already as good
as a dead sparrow.

                            (_All chuckle_.)

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Dead sparrow is excellent!

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

This murder--listen--is bound to put the other one into disfavour. The
King's Majesty (_all bow_) will shorten his leave of absence, and we,
we shall be freed of him.

                            (_All chuckle_.)

                              The Painter.

What are they about? Alas, if they are glad, perhaps that means the
ruin of some man of honour. Perhaps they are meditating some ribaldry.
But in truth, what matters to me this vermin?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Now let us send out a message hastily to the Marshal, that we are
gathered in the antechamber, and while this poor dead mouse--no, pardon
me sparrow!--stammers his love to her, he, driven by us to extremes,
will burst in unannounced--and this fellow is detected.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Very good! But if things turn out differently, what then?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Never mind! Take advantage of the right moment. No more is needed. For
she cannot refrain, she must see people kneel to her.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Famous! Brilliant! A splendid plan! (_To_ The Painter, _with a low bow
which all imitate_.) Honoured sir, permit us to greet you!

                     The Painter (_very politely_).

My greeting implies the esteem of which you are aware.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

We lay our esteem at your feet! (_After further bows, which_ The
Painter _good-humouredly returns_, The Marquises _depart at the
centre_.)

              (The Painter _smiling, continues to paint_.)


                             _THIRD SCENE_.

THE PAINTER. THE VALET DE CHAMBRE. _Then_ THE DEAF MAID OF HONOUR. THE
SLEEPY MAID OF HONOUR. THE QUEEN.

(The Valet _entering from the left, greets_ The Painter _with
condescending nods, and walks over to the throne_.)

                              The Painter.

Eh!--what?... Ah, indeed! (_Laughs aloud_.) Strange world, where the
lackey carries his head the highest!

(Valet _after arranging the cushions, places himself before the easel,
and ogles the portrait_.)

                              The Painter.

What is it?

                               The Valet.

(_Pleasantly, as a connoisseur_.) Ah these little furrows in the
cheeks! (_Benevolently_.) It can't be expected, sir, of you that your
brush should do justice to every fine point. Yet--aside from that--the
likeness is good.

                   The Painter (_laughing heartily_).

Indeed?

                               The Valet.

(_Opening the door on the left, announces_.) Her Majesty!

                              The Painter.

I scent trouble in this, and a voice says to me flee! I have already
committed many a folly, but I never loved a queen! Take heed to
yourself!

(The Two Maids of Honour _have entered during this soliloquy, and have
taken their positions to the right and left of the door_.)

                               The Queen.

(_Nods cordially to_ The Painter, _and takes her seat on the throne, as
before_.) My dear Jean, I must dispense with you now. Don't stay too
late.

                             (_Exit Jean_.)


                            _FOURTH SCENE_.

THE QUEEN. THE PAINTER. THE DEAF MAID OF HONOUR (_who seats herself
behind the screen_). THE SLEEPY MAID OF HONOUR (_who falls asleep
directly on a chair near the door on the left_).

                               The Queen.

Well, master, tell me: what is Genius doing?

                              The Painter.

Oh, your Majesty, he is pursuing Beauty.

                               The Queen.

Yet since Beauty lingers no more on earth, your genius will soon grow
weary.

                              The Painter.

How so? Does your Majesty think it roams in the sky? It lingers just at
the goal and cries: Oh behold! and what thou beholdest, that give to
eternity!

                               The Queen.

I did not know, my dear master, that you were so ready with your
compliments. Very well! As a man of many travels and of great
reputation, you tread continually on the scorn of men; and since we are
here chatting in confidence, take heart and tell me without reserve,
tell me quite frankly: am I really beautiful?

                              The Painter.

If I were to speak as a man, every word would be presumptuous. Yet you
ask the painter only. And he says that his hand is withered with
anxiety lest on this canvas there will be found only a pale blotted
vapour seen by a blind man.

                               The Queen.

There spoke the painter. But what says the man?

                              The Painter.

He has no opinion, your Majesty!

                               The Queen.

What a pity! One hears now and then this thing and that thing, yet that
seems to me insipid above all things. And one must be strict and always
be suppressing--suppressing. You don't need that. So I tell you
discreetly, I can't resist the suspicion that my beauty is leaving me.
Yes, indeed. And besides that, I am growing old. Yes, indeed. I am
almost thirty, and the matron has to go to the rear. I indeed do what I
can. They take great pains with me. And my late brother used to send me
a beauty powder from the holy sepulchre which was good for my
complexion. Then it is my habit to wash myself with the extract of
lilies, and off and on to nibble at arsenic bonbons. That is very
good--the eyes flash, and the blood comes to the cheeks....
(_Alarmed_.) It seems to me I am confiding in you.

                              The Painter.

Consider me as a thing--as a slave!

                               The Queen.

And you know how to be silent? Tell me--swear!

                              The Painter.

What you did not will me to hear, that I have not heard. What I did not
hear, I cannot keep as a secret.

                               The Queen.

Lofty sentiment and noble will find expression in you. So, in all
silence, I may show your heart what favours are granted to you.

                      The Painter (_tremulously_).

Am I worth it? And if you regret it to-morrow?

                               The Queen.

I do not know a to-morrow nor a to-day. My weary sense with crippled
wing never strays into the far future, for ah! I, poor, poor Queen,
suffer from intense melancholy. I have too much feeling. I have told
you that already, and then I am tired of my throne in this world of
dreary elegance, where----

                              The Painter.

Your Majesty! Remember the ladies there!

                               The Queen.

Ah, the ladies! No chance favours me. That you have perceived already.
Yet there is no question of the ladies. One doesn't hear a word; the
other sleeps, even while standing up.

                              The Painter.

Sure enough.... Yet when I consider----

                               The Queen.

Consider nothing.... Give me only a consoling word, which in the
sultriness of this perverted nature may penetrate my soul like a breath
from the forest. You are a man!

                  The Painter (_laughing to himself_).

Who has lost his head!

                               The Queen.

So I saw him in my dreams. I feel, too, that you could quite overflow,
and I am a little afraid of it.

                              The Painter.

(_Controlling himself with difficulty_.) Oh, fear nothing. I know very
well the barrier between me and the height of your throne. Not a
desire, not a thought, rises to you.

                               The Queen.

And yet you think that I am beautiful?

                      The Painter (_impulsively_).

Yes, you are beautiful! You--(_restraining himself_). Your Majesty, I
beg you to turn a little more to the left.

                               The Queen.

(_Turns her head quite to the left_.) So?

                              The Painter.

Yes.

                               The Queen.

What are you painting now?

                              The Painter.

Your hand.

                  The Queen (_pointing to her face_).

And it is for that, that I am to turn to the left?

                              The Painter.

I meant, just to the centre.

                               The Queen.

Is the hand well posed?

                              The Painter.

Very well.

                               The Queen.

Can you see it from where you sit?

                              The Painter.

No, yes--(_she laughs_). Forgive me if I am talking nonsense.

                 The Queen (_spreading out her hand_).

Here you have it! How the sapphire sparkles! A beautiful stone!... You
praised my face, but yet you don't say whether you like my hand.

                              The Painter.

Instead of finding fault with me, look! I have painted it.

                         The Queen (_pouting_).

You have indeed painted it, but you have not kissed it. From that I
conclude that it is not attractive.

                              The Painter.

And forgive me, if I transgress the rules of your court, more from
shyness than from want of intelligence. Even so, the sailor knows well
the laws of the stars' movements and yet must often sail a false
course.

                               The Queen.

It seems as if you wished to avoid the subject. I was speaking of a
hand--you speak of stars.

                              The Painter.

You were speaking of your hand and that is so far from me that even the
eternal will, the might which compels the starry heaven, brings it not
one inch nearer to me.

                               The Queen.

Indeed, do you believe that? (_She rises and goes to the easel_.) Now
pray what happened? You willed nothing and compelled nothing, yet
please observe--the hand is there.

                              The Painter.

Madam, where others fell down before you, here it is my duty to warn
you. I am not a simple shepherd, and never do I let people make game of
me.

                               The Queen.

Ah, now it becomes interesting! You look at me as savagely as if a
hatred quite unappeased and unappeasable possessed you.

                              The Painter.

A hatred? No, what I laughingly veiled from you was not hatred, no--yet
_if_ I hate, I hate myself, because, dazzled with splendour, like a
drowning man I grasp at the little words which you mockingly deal out
to me; because, after the manner of a venal courtier, I quite forgot
the pride of the man, and by your favour ate sweetmeats greedily from
these hands! Yes, just show them--the white fairy[3] hands laden with
the splendid tokens of love: yet stop--think of the end, by the holy
God--I recognise myself no more.

                               The Queen.

Never yet did I hear such words.

                              The Painter.

When did you ever bow yourself to force? When did passion build you a
throne on the ruins of the universe, the only throne to win which is
more than an idle pastime, on which in splendid grandeur, instead of
all the queens, sits Woman! And if a drone playing in colours ever
indeed won a smile from you, take from me but your crown, for I, oh
Queen, am--a man!

                               The Queen.

(_Shrinking back to the throne_.) Enough, I should not listen to you
any longer.

                              The Painter.

You must. You have so willed it.

                               The Queen.

I will beg you, sir, I will conjure you.

                              The Painter.

Too late. You offered me love's pay as you would throw a gold piece
into the cap of a beggar crouching in the street, and if I, thrilled
now by hot desire, employ the only moment of life which commits you
into my hands, I will not have you play with me any longer. I will, and
you--you--must--before this throne our alliance is ratified. Take away
the hand. That, others may kiss, but I, Queen, will have the mouth. I
will----


                             _FIFTH SCENE_.

                         THE SAME. THE MARSHAL.

                               The Queen.

(_Who until now has listened, anxious but not altogether unfriendly,
collects herself, and draws herself up in sudden anger_.) I deliver
this insolent fellow to you, Marshal. Deal with him as he deserves.
(_She goes to the door. There she stops, and gives_ The Sleepy Maid of
Honour _two angry little blows with her fan. The latter springs up,
bows, and goes out gravely behind_ The Queen, _with_ The Deaf Maid of
Honour, _who has risen_.)


                             _SIXTH SCENE_.

                       THE MARSHAL. THE PAINTER.

                              The Marshal.

Sir, if you wish to say a paternoster, make haste with it.

                              The Painter.

Your magnanimity affects me deeply, Marshal. But my soul carries light
baggage. Even so, it will journey to heaven. And instead of a last
testament, I present this portrait to you, so that, in the confusion,
no serious danger may happen to it.

                              The Marshal.

By your will, it has become mine, and I will gladly keep it. So, draw
your sword!

                              The Painter.

I, sir?

                              The Marshal.

So, draw!

                              The Painter.

No, that you will never live to see!

                              The Marshal.

Then why do you wear a sword?

                              The Painter.

Because I choose to.

                              The Marshal.

You are a coward.

                              The Painter.

(_Controlling himself, with a smiling bow_.) And you are a hero! (_In
the meanwhile the door at the centre is opened_. The Marquises _put
their heads in, listening_. The Painter _observes it and takes his
sword from the table where he has just laid it_.) See! As the traveller
uses the staff to defend himself against dogs, so I must wield it. Such
people are to be found at all doors where small men work and lie in
wait and play the parasite. (The Marquises _draw back. The door at the
centre is suddenly closed_.) Yet ever to bare the sword against you,
with whom, out of a timid trustfulness, a bond, a splendid bond of
pride, entwined me; whom of all the incompletely great men, I
admiringly called the only great man--if ever I were to be guilty of
such ignominy, I should not find my small share of peace even in the
shade of the most beautiful church-yard lindens.

                              The Marshal.

Are you still young?

                              The Painter.

I am not exactly old, yet my fortune has been so checkered and various
that I joyfully had given seven every-day lives for _one_ surfeit of
this. And in the end--however one may work and strive, it is man's
destiny: he dies of Woman. Therefore, instead of passing away slowly
by my own, I will quickly find my end by the wife of another. My
chariot of victory stops indeed suddenly. I greet its well-appointed
driver--and I greet my judge. Thrust on!

                              The Marshal.

I may be a judge, but I am not an executioner. So do me the favour----

                              The Painter.

And fighting, let you run me through? No, Marshal! That I must refuse.
See! Each of us two has his art. You employ the sword, I the palette.
How would it be if I should say to you now in accordance with the
practice of my craft: Come, we will paint on a wager? And you do not
know the merest precept of light-value, azure, modelling. Very well,
you are a dead man for me. Afterward you might--that is allowed
you--come to life into the bargain, if you liked.

                              The Marshal.

You are mocking me, surely!

                              The Painter.

Surely, no! Yet every fight should be a fight on a wager. Because in a
fight between men you are a complete man, I should like to show that I
too can do something. You are laughing.

                              The Marshal.

One who is so nimble with his tongue has, it is said, a sure hand.
Perhaps, too, many a device unknown to me is concealed in the wielding
of your sword. So be quick, I pray you. I hear the sound of footsteps.
Do you stare at me in silence?

                              The Painter.

Still a little farther to the right!

                              The Marshal.

What does that mean?

                              The Painter.

So!--And that may not be looked at, because one is mouldering away! I
cannot get over it. Never yet have I found lines like those, never yet
a working so gloriously true in the frontal plexus of veins, in the
eyebrows, as if one by pure will became a giant. The body delicate--the
cheeks thin; for Nature when she fashions her best, makes no boast of
vigorous strength.... The wish overpowers me--Before I die, sir, I must
paint you.

                              The Marshal.

You seem altogether mad.

                              The Painter.

I beg you to grant me a respite. I shall be glad to let you kill me,
yet only after your portrait is finished.

                              The Marshal.

And by your creation, you hope to obtain all manner of favour, and
quietly to escape. You are cunning indeed.

                              The Painter.

It is the peculiar pleasure of magnanimity to suspect the magnanimity
of others.

                              The Marshal.

Are you reading me a lecture?

                              The Painter.

It seems that I must. I must make an effort to win your heart's esteem,
which is worth more to me than any amount of foolish play with briskly
wielded swords.

                              The Marshal.

By heaven, sir, you risk a great deal!

                              The Painter.

I risk nothing. I am a man of death. The world lies behind me--a
many-colored picture which God has bestrewed with crumbs of white
bread, where each one snatches up and devours and yet does not satisfy
his appetite. Only in intoxication can a child of fortune know how the
flowers beneath bloom and wither. I have been able to, and my soul with
every new work drank to satiety. What matters it if life has deceived
me? I asked nothing of it--that was my strength. You see I am
pronouncing my obituary. Yet I depart gladly.... Already the new host
approaches and swarms for me in forests and on plains: What matters it
that this hand was mortal; for the portraying is as eternal as the
image.

                              The Marshal.

You are mistaken. Only the deed is eternal. If with bloody sword it did
not teach mankind to remember, I should perish like a seed sown by the
wind.

                              The Painter.

It is you who are mistaken, sir. Not your deed has life. It soon
follows you into the grave. The portrait of the dead which we give to
posterity, in song and form, in parchment and stone, this it is which
belongs to immortality. By this you shall be hereafter loved and
hated.--So even if Achilles destroys the whole world, he has but to let
Homer live.

                              The Marshal.

And so I, you? Yet no song tells us that Homer ever kneeled before
Helen.

                              The Painter.

Not that. But every child knows why: the poor singer was blind.

                              The Marshal.

Your brush, alas, will not help you at all. Yet I should be well
disposed toward you. For he who in death seems to remain a trifler, has
taken life in earnest.

                              The Painter.

That is true.

                              The Marshal.

I am sorry for you.

                              The Painter.

Without cause, I assure you!

                              The Marshal.

And why could you not be silent? How did you so dare, contrary to good
reason to climb to your Queen? Did nothing within you say: this is a
crime?

                              The Painter.

You call it crime--I call it folly!

                              The Marshal.

Do you pursue your secret pleasures, then, like a sly, cold-hearted
thief? The one thing fails which spoke in your favour, the almighty
love which disturbs the brain!

                              The Painter.

Marshal, see, love is a tribute which we piously pay to eternal
beauty; and since Nature in creative pride has poured it forth out of
her fulness, how should we in fretful resignation say: "This one I
love--not that one"? In my love, I love only the picture which proceeds
from the lap of pure forms; even as this Queen bestows it as a favour,
so it sheds its light far and near; and wherever a picture invites me
to a banquet, my heart is present without delay.

                              The Marshal.

Yet I ask you whether _this_ picture invited you to a banquet. Speak
quickly--by my sword!

                              The Painter.

You know very well that no gallant man should move an eyelash at such a
question.

                              The Marshal.

You do not love her--only like a faun you make bold to court her madly.
(_Taking hold of him_.) But I love her, and for this reason, you must
die.

                              The Painter.

Forgive me if I am surprised at your logic. It is a great honour
for me to know whom you love; moreover, you have already told
me repeatedly that I must die; yet that you are confused as to
this--is--indeed--only--temper. And see, it is but proper that you love
her. The contrary--according to court manners and practice--would be
unnatural. Yet the more important question seems to be: does she love
you? You look away. Very well, I will tell you. She has met you with
smiles and furtive questions, with sweet glances, half longingly, has
promised you a thousand delights and gradually has subdued you and your
obstinacy. Yet if it involved keeping her promises, she would
understand how to wrap herself in her innocence.----It was so--was it
not? You are silent, because you are ashamed of the game. Pardon me,
sir, if I irritate your wounds.

                              The Marshal.

It seems you set spies at the door!

                              The Painter.

Why spies? Eve's old practice, that, Marshal, I know well. Yet what
lies behind it, whether true love or not, for you or me, cannot be
deciphered. If I should survive the duel, she would probably love _me_:
yet because it is decreed that by your arm, you should be the victor in
this absurd quarrel, she will love you, Marshal. Where woman's glory
rules the world, that is the law--so says natural history. Do you say
nothing?

                              The Marshal.

A poison is distilled from your words which eats into the very marrow
of my soul.

                              The Painter.

Only the truth! I swear it, I promise it! And since against my wish I
am still very much alive, because of your favour, be of use to me, sir,
in an experiment.

                              The Marshal.

Explain yourself!

                              The Painter.

In order to know exactly how you are thought of in the highest place,
you must perish in the duel.

                              The Marshal.

In the duel?

                              The Painter.

Understand me rightly: only in appearance.

                              The Marshal.

And my reputation as a swordsman goes with it into the bargain.

                              The Painter.

Oh, not at all! You will get up again.

                       The Marshal (_laughing_).

My friend, I am not sorry that you are still alive. I have become
reconciled with you, and I who have dared a great deal in toil and
strife, am astonished at the extent of your courage. Very well, what
your cunning mind has devised for your escape, I accept. Yet woe to you
if this time you do not win! And now to the work!

                              The Painter.

Come on!... Yet no, by your leave! So that they may believe the
incredible about me, I will arrange the thing in naturalistic fashion.
(_He draws his sword_.) Is the door locked? (_He walks to the door at
the centre, and points his sword at the keyhole_.) Eyes away! I am
going to thrust! (_A scream is uttered in the antechamber_.) And now
look out! I am going to mark horrid pools of spilt blood! (_He mixes
colours on the palette, and hands the_ Marshal _his sword_.) Hold it, I
beg you. (_He smears the sword blade with his brush_.)

                              The Marshal.

My blood!

                              The Painter.

Without doubt! _Merci_. (_Takes back his sword_.) Just one tap upon the
breast. Yet in case you wish that I spare the waistcoat?

                              The Marshal.

By no means! That would be too much loss of blood!

                              The Painter.

Just as you please. (_He moves the easel and table to one side.
Softly_.) And make no mistake, the door will open at the first clash of
blades.

                              The Marshal.

Are you ready?

                (The Painter _nods assent. They fence_.)

                              The Marshal.

Famous.... Do you know that feint?

                              The Painter.

It is a good one, is it not?

                              The Marshal.

Who taught you that?

                              The Painter.

And this!...

                              The Marshal.

There you missed the quint.

                              The Painter.

Damnation!...

                              The Marshal.

Ah, that was admirable!

                              The Painter.

Yet at painting I do better.... Is any one listening?

                              The Marshal.

They are huddled together in a confused group.

                              The Painter.

Now, if you please!

                              The Marshal.

Only be at it!

                              The Painter.

Be careful of the throne, or you will get a bump if you fall! (_He
lunges at_ The Marshal, _far under the armpit_. The Marshal _falls_.
The Marquises _who are pressing in at the half-open door, draw back in
horror_.)


                            _SEVENTH SCENE_.

THE SAME. THE MARQUIS IN PINK. THE MARQUIS IN PALE BLUE. THE OTHER
MARQUISES.

                              The Painter.

Listen to me, gentlemen! What are you about in there? Stay and bear
witness to what you saw.

              The Marquis In Pink (_approaching timidly_).

We stand benumbed at such a glorious deed.

                 The Marquis In Pale Blue (_likewise_).

And we are almost beside ourself with admiration.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

What? Really dead?

                      The Painter (_tauntingly_).

Sir, you seem to be in doubt?

                          The Marquis In Pink.

Oh, dear man, how could you think it? I wished only to afford myself
the rapture of seeing whether you had altogether freed us.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Yes, indeed, freed! For even although you hated him, you can never
imagine how, in the chambers of this castle, he has trodden on our
dignity.

                          The Marquis In Pink.

He stalked about, puffed up with self-conceit, and when we were rising
in the esteem of his or her majesty----

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Then came this man with a couple of new triumphs.

                              The Painter.

How odious!

                          The Marquis In Pink.

If you please, sir, how we have laughed when his dear name rang through
all the streets after some brand-new fight! As the clever man is aware,
fools advertise fools. And without going too near him, I will----

                              The Marshal.

There, wait!

               (All The Marquises _starting With fear_.)

                   The Marquis In Pink (_trembling_).

You said?

                              The Painter.

I said nothing at all.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

Yet plainly----


                            _EIGHTH SCENE_.

THE SAME. THE VALET DE CHAMBRE. THE QUEEN. THE DEAF MAID OF HONOUR. THE
SLEEPY MAID OF HONOUR.

                        The Valet (_announces_).

Her Majesty!

                               The Queen.

I heard a rumour which greatly displeased me and troubled my peace of
mind extremely. Is it true?... There lies the great hero; and truly, in
death he seems even more insignificant than he was--as insignificant as
one of the most insignificant. Yet mourn with me! We have had a great
loss. Even if ambition urge you on with a double spur, many a fine day
will come and go before his like will be born to us.

               (The Marshal _clears his throat softly_.)

                               The Queen.

May his courtliness, too, be pleasantly remembered! After his campaign
he always brought back to his Queen the best of the splendid spoil of
his booty. That touched my royal heart and will be cited as a glorious
example. And yet now to you ... What did they say to me? It sounds
almost untrue and unnatural: are you the David of our Goliath? I use
the term "Goliath" only figuratively. For though we are mourning at his
bier, it cannot be said that he was a giant. Yet we know his
disposition was haughty. (The Marquises _eagerly assent_.) Surely he
broke in upon you in sudden anger? You are silent out of generosity. So
I will graciously forgive this fault and another fault too. (The
Painter _clears his throat softly. She stretches out her hand to him,
which he kisses_.) And be not grieved! (_To_ The Marquises.) Does not
what has happened seem almost like a judgment of God?

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

It is true! Here a higher power has been at work.

                        The Deaf Maid Of Honour.

Pardon me, your Majesty! The Marshal is laughing.

                 The Marquises (_muttering in horror_).

Is he laughing? Is he laughing? (_Silence_.)

                        The Marshal (_rising_).

Madam, forgive me! In the fight a sudden fainting fit overcame me.

                       The Marquis in Pale Blue.

(_Pointing at_ The Painter's _sword lying on the floor_.) And what is
this blood? (_Movement by_ The Painter.)

                              The Marshal.

Until the return to my senses relieved me (_with emphasis_) of _this_
trouble and _another_ trouble.

                               The Queen.

(_Quickly collecting herself. Sharply_.) My congratulations, sir! And
my sympathy as well! What has happened to you gives me unspeakable
distress. The court atmosphere is indeed rather close, and seems
insupportable to great conquerors; which often betrays itself in wrong
fancies and swoons. Therefore I am obliged to exercise my power as
Queen, and protect your good health against danger. Jean, announce me
to his Majesty! (_Exit_ Jean _on the left_. The Queen, _punishing_ The
Painter _with a glance of unspeakable scorn, follows slowly. The two
Maids of Honour go after her_.)


                             _NINTH SCENE_.

THE MARSHAL. THE PAINTER. THE MARQUISES (_in the background_).

                              The Marshal.

I thank you, sir! The mists are dissipated. The eye sees clearly once
more; the will has a free hand.

                              The Painter.

But I was silently executed. Did you notice her look?

               The Marshal (_pointing at_ The Marquises).

Of looks, there are sufficient.

                The Painter (_snatching up his sword_).

Oho! I am always expecting foul play.

                              The Marshal.

For what reason? Get along with you! Get along with you! Be quick!

                              The Painter.

It is true. You are right. Here, we are ruined.

                              The Marshal.

And what is to become of you?

                              The Painter.

That has never troubled me. The world is wide. One can walk about it,
and find something to sketch by the way.

                              The Marshal.

How would it be if you went with me?

                              The Painter.

Where?

                              The Marshal.

To the camp.

                              The Painter.

Yes, and what is there?

                              The Marshal.

Plenty for you! You will find gay fare, and pastimes and diversions. As
much as you want.

                              The Painter.

And are there fights too?

                              The Marshal.

Indeed, there are!

                              The Painter.

And will there be a bold reconnoissance by night?

                              The Marshal.

Often.

                              The Painter.

Capital! I will ride with you. In my mind's eye I see already golden
moonrise, and silver vapour on the dark alder bush.... Are there also
songs and notes of the mandolin?

                              The Marshal.

Plenty of them!

                              The Painter.

Hurrah! There is music too!

                              The Marshal.

And in the story-telling by night at the camp-fire many a tale of human
destiny will be unfolded to you.

                              The Painter.

A world of pictures! (_More softly_.) And love adventures?

                              The Marshal.

If you choose to call them "adventures."

                              The Painter.

Agreed, sir! And an excess of happiness will flow out of my soul like a
prayer.--Yet it seems I am forgetting the greatest happiness. I shall
be with you. I may paint you.

                              The Marshal.

Take care!


                             _TENTH SCENE_.

THE SAME. THE VALET DE CHAMBRE. THE QUEEN. THE TWO MAIDS OF HONOUR.

                                 Valet.

Your Majesty!

(The Queen _rustles over from the left to the right, without bestowing
a glance on the two men. At the door on the right she gives the_ Valet
_a scroll with which he advances. Then she goes out, followed by the
Maids of Honour_.)

                              The Marshal.

Now the hastily contrived reward of our misdeeds is at hand. (_To_
Jean.) My noble sir, bestir yourself. (_To_ The Painter.) That is the
handsome Jean as an angel of justice! (_He unfolds the scroll and
reads, laughing_.)

                              The Painter.

And to me, what do you bring to me?

                               The Valet.

(_With an expression of awkward contempt_.) You?--Nothing!

                              The Painter.

Exquisite!

                               The Valet.

But yes! Your reward shall be meted out to you in the office of the
Marshal of the court.

                        The Painter (_amused_).

Indeed?

                               The Valet.

Yes! (_Behind the scenes on the right are heard cries of "Jean!
Jean!"_)

                        The Deaf Maid of Honour.

(_Hurries in from the right_.) Jean! Have you forgotten her Majesty?

                         The Valet (_sweetly_).

Oh, no! Tell her Majesty I am coming directly.

                      The Painter and The Marshal.

          (_Look at each other, and break out into laughter_.)

                              The Marshal.

Look, look, my friend! He seems to have got into bad habits.

                    The Painter (_pointing at him_).

It is rightly so. I had almost begged him, at the court where we men
are forbidden, proudly to represent the eternal masculine. (_Laughing,
they both bow to him_.)

                          (_Exit_ The Valet.)

                              The Painter.

But we are going into the flowery open, to our merry pursuits.

                              The Marshal.

And to combat! (_They walk arm in arm, bowing right and left, toward
the door, past_ The Marquises, _who, without hiding their disrespect,
nevertheless recognise them in a not uncourtly fashion_.)



                                Curtain.



                               FOOTNOTE:

[Footnote 1: Milchbart--literally "milky beard."]

[Footnote 2: The colonel.]

[Footnote 3: The document is defective here--showing "--iry." I have
inserted the word "fairy" based on context.--Transcriber]





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