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Title: Roses: Four One-Act Plays - Streaks of Light—The Last Visit—Margot—The Far-away Princess
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.

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                           *   *   *   *   *

                       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

                           *   *   *   *   *



                                 ROSES



                                 ROSES

                           FOUR ONE-ACT PLAYS

                    STREAKS OF LIGHT--THE LAST VISIT
                    --MARGOT--THE FAR-AWAY PRINCESS


                                   BY

                           HERMANN SUDERMANN



                       TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
                                   BY
                              GRACE FRANK


                        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
                 NEW YORK:::::::::::::::::::::::: 1909



                          Copyright, 1909, by
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
                       Published September, 1909



                                CONTENTS


      Streaks Of Light

      Margot

      The Last Visit

      The Far-away Princess



                                   I

                            STREAKS OF LIGHT

                           A PLAY IN ONE ACT



                               CHARACTERS

                        Julia.
                        Pierre.
                        Wittich.


                            The Present Day


_The action takes place at a small pavilion situated in the park
belonging to an old castle_.



                            STREAKS OF LIGHT

_An octagonal pavilion of the Rococo period, the three front walls of
which are cut off by the proscenium. Ceiling and walls are cracked and
spotted by rain, and bear the marks of long disuse. At the back, in the
centre, a large doorway. The glass door is thrown wide open; the
shutters behind are closed. On the right and left, in the oblique walls
of the room, are windows, the shutters of which are also closed.
Through the blinds at the door and the right window, sunbeams in
streaks of light penetrate the semi-darkness of the room._

_On the left, in the foreground, a Louis Sixteenth sofa with table and
gilded chairs to match. On the wall above, an old mirror. Near the
sofa, a tapestried doorway. A chandelier wrapped in a dusty gauze
covering is suspended from the ceiling. A four-post bed with hangings
of light net takes up the right side of the stage. In the foreground,
in front of the bed, a table with plates, glasses, wine-decanters, and
provisions on it. A coffee percolator stands under the table. In the
middle of the stage, a little to the right, a chaise-longue. At the
head of it, a small table. Between the large door and the windows,
dusty marble busts on dilapidated pedestals. Above them, on the walls,
a collection of various sorts of weapons. The Oriental rugs which are
thrown about the floor and over the chaise-longue contrast strangely
with the faded splendour of the past._

_The whole room is decorated with roses. On the table at the left is a
bronze vessel of antique design overflowing with roses. Garlands of
roses hang from the chandelier and encircle the bedposts. On the small
table near the chaise-longue, a large, flat dish, also filled with
roses. In fact wherever there is any place for these flowers, they have
been used in profusion._

_Part of the table which stands in front of the sofa is covered by a
napkin, upon which are seen a bottle of wine and the remains of a
luncheon for one. It is a sultry afternoon in midsummer._

Julia _lies on the chaise-longue, asleep. She is a beautiful woman,
about twenty-five years of age, intractable and passionate, with traces
of a bourgeois desire to be "romantic." She is dressed in white,
flowing draperies, fantastically arranged._

_A tower clock strikes four. Then the bells of the castle are heard
ringing. Both seem to be at a distance of about two hundred paces._

Pierre _enters cautiously through the tapestried doorway at the left.
He is a fashionably dressed, aristocratic young fellow who has been
petted and spoiled. He is effeminate, cowardly, arrogant, and is trying
to play the passionate man, although inwardly cold and nervous._

                                 Julia.

(_Laughs in her sleep. Her laughter dies out in groans._) Pierre!
Pierre! Help! Pierre!

                      Pierre (_bending over her_).

Yes, yes. What is it?

                                 Julia.

Nothing-- (_Laughs and goes on sleeping_).

                      Pierre (_straightening up_).

Whew How hot it is! (_He stares at_ Julia, _his face distorted by fear
and anger, and beats his forehead. Then indicating the outstretched
form of the woman._) Beautiful!--You beautiful animal--you! (_Kneels_.
Julia _holds out her arms to him, but he evades her embrace._) Stop!
Wake up!

                          Julia (_tearfully_).

Please let me sleep.

                                Pierre.

No! Wake up! I've only come for a moment. It's tea-time, and I have to
go back to the house.

                                 Julia.

Please stay!

                                Pierre.

No, mamma will be asking for me. I have to be there for tea.

                          Julia (_pettishly_).

I have a headache. I want some black coffee!

                                Pierre.

Then make it yourself. The gardener is cleaning the orchid rooms in the
hot-house, and he has no time for you now.

                                 Julia.

He never has time for me!--And the meals that his wife cooks are simply
abominable!--And the wine is always warm!--Do, for mercy's sake, steal
the key to the icehouse!

                                Pierre.

But you know that I can't!--I always bring you all the ice that I can
manage to take from the table. If I insist upon having the key, the
housekeeper will tell mamma.

                                 Julia.

But I won't drink warm wine--so there! That's what gives me these
headaches.

                                Pierre.

Your headaches, I want to tell you, come from the roses. Ugh!--this
nasty smell from the withered ones--sour--like stale tobacco
smoke--why, it burns the brains out of one's head!

                                 Julia.

See here, dearie, you let the roses alone! That was our agreement, you
know--basketsful, every morning! I wish the gardener would bring even
more! That's what he's bribed for.--More! More! Always more!

                                Pierre.

See here, if you were only reasonable----

                                 Julia.

But I'm not reasonable! O you--you-- (_She holds out her arms to him.
He comes to her. They kiss._) More!--More!--No end!--Ah, to die!----

                      Pierre (_freeing himself_).

Oh!

                                 Julia.

To die!

                     Pierre (_with hidden scorn_).

Yes--to die. (_Yawning nervously._) Pardon me!--It's as hot as an oven
in here.

                                 Julia.

And the shutters are always closed! For eight long days I've seen
nothing of the sun except these streaks of light. Do open the
shutters--just once!

                                Pierre.

For Heaven's sake!

                                 Julia.

Just for a second!

                                Pierre.

But don't you realize that the pavilion is locked and that not a soul
ever crosses the threshold?

                                 Julia.

Oh, yes, I know--because your lovely, reckless great-grandmother lost
her life here a hundred years ago! That's one of those old-wives' tales
that everyone knows.--Who can tell? Perhaps my fate will be the same as
hers.--But do open the shutters!

                                Pierre.

Do be reasonable! You know that in order to come in here by the side
door without being seen I have to crawl through the woods for a hundred
yards. The same performance twice a day--for a week! Now, if I should
open the shutters and one of the gardener's men should see it, why,
he'd come, and then----

                                 Julia.

Let him come! I'll smile at him--and he's no man if he doesn't keep
quiet after that! Why, your old gardener would cut his hand off
for me any day of his life--just for a bit of wheedling!--It can't be
helped--they all love me!

                           Pierre (_aside_).

Beast!

                                 Julia.

What were you muttering then? (Pierre _throws himself down before her
and weeps._) Pierre! Crying?--Oh!--Please don't--or I'll cry too. And
my head aches so!

            Pierre (_softly but nervously and with hatred_).

Do you know what I'd like to do? Strangle you!

                                 Julia.

Ha! Ha! Ha!--(_pityingly_) Dear me! Those soft fingers--so weak!--My
little boy has read in a naughty book that people strangle their
loves--and so he wants to do some strangling too!

                           Pierre (_rising_).

Well, what's to become of you? How much longer is the game to last in
this pavilion?

                                 Julia.

As long as the roses bloom--that was agreed, you know.

                                Pierre.

And then?

                                 Julia.

Bah! Then!--Why think of it? I'm here now, here under the protection of
your lovely, ghostly great-grandmother. No one suspects--no one dreams!
My husband is searching for me the whole world over!--That was a clever
notion of mine--writing him from Brussels--Nora, last act, last
scene--and then coming straight back again! I'll wager he's in Paris
now, sitting at the Café des Anglais, and looking up and down the
street--now toward the Place de l'Opera, now toward the Madeleine. Will
you wager? I'll go you anything you say. Well, go on, wager!

                                Pierre.

On anything else you wish--but not on that!

                                 Julia.

Why not?

                                Pierre.

Because your husband was at the castle this morning.

                       Julia (_rising hastily_).

My husband--was--at the castle----?

                                Pierre.

What's so surprising about that? He always used to come, you know--our
nearest neighbour--and all that sort of thing.

                                 Julia.

Did he have a reason for coming?

                                Pierre.

A special reason?--No.

                                 Julia.

Pierre--you're concealing something from me!

                         Pierre (_hesitating_).

Nothing that I know of. No.

                                 Julia.

Why didn't you come at once? And now--why have you waited to tell me?

                          Pierre (_sullenly_).

You're hearing it soon enough.

                                 Julia.

Pierre, what happened? Tell me, exactly!

                                Pierre.

Well, he came in the little runabout--without a groom--and asked for
mamma. I naturally pretended to be going out. But you know how she
always insists on my staying with her.

                                 Julia.

And how was he was he--just the same as ever?

                                Pierre.

Oh, no, I wouldn't say that.

                                 Julia.

How did he look? Tell me, tell me!

                                Pierre.

In the first place, he wore black gloves--like a gravedigger.

                                 Julia.

Ha! Ha! And what else?

                                Pierre.

In the second place, he was everlastingly twitching his legs.

                                 Julia.

And what else? What else?

                                Pierre.

Oh, he explained that you were at a Hungarian watering-place, that you
were improving, and that you were expected home soon. (Julia _bursts
out laughing._) Yes, (_gloomily_) it's screamingly funny, isn't it.

                                 Julia.

So I'm at a Hungarian watering-place! Ha! Ha! Ha!

                                Pierre.

But he looked at me so questioningly, so--so mournfully--why, it was
really most annoying the way he looked at me.

                                 Julia.

At a Hungarian watering-place!

                                Pierre.

And then, later, mamma said to him, "It's a dreadful pity your dear
wife isn't here just now. She does so love the roses."

                                 Julia.

And what did he say?

                                Pierre.

"Our roses are not thriving very well this year," said he.

                                 Julia.

But his turnips!--They always thrive!--And then----?

                                Pierre.

Then a strange thing occurred that I can't help worrying about.
Suddenly mamma said to him, "Something very peculiar is happening on
our estate this year. Now I can see from where I sit that the whole
place is one mass of roses. And yet, if at any time I ask for a few
more than usual, there are none to be had!"

                                 Julia.

Why, you must have been shaking in your boots! Did you do anything to
betray us?

                                Pierre.

Oh, I think I know how to take care of myself!--But suddenly he grew
absolutely rigid--as if--as if he had been reflecting. He acted like a
man who sleeps with his eyes open. Mamma asked him a question three
times, and he never answered a word!

                                 Julia.

I say, did you come here to frighten me?

                        Pierre (_bursting out_).

What is your fear compared to what I had to stand! Compared to my
biting, nauseous shame as I sat there opposite him?--I scorned the man
inwardly, and yet I felt as if I ought to lick the dust on his boots.
When mamma said to him, "You don't look very well, Herr Wittich--are
you ill?"--her words were like the box on the ear that she gave me
when, as a lad of fifteen, I got into mischief with the steward's
daughter.--Why did you drag me into this loathsome business? I don't
like it!--I won't stand it!--I like to feel straight! I want my hands
clean!--I want to look down on the people that I meet!--I owe that to
myself.

                                 Julia.

Reproaches?--I'd like to know who has the guilty conscience in this
case, you or I?

                                Pierre.

How long have you been concerned about your conscience?

                                 Julia.

Pierre, you know I had never belonged to any other man--except him.

                                Pierre.

But you've showered sweet glances right and left. You've flirted with
every man who would look at you--even the stable-boy wasn't beneath
your notice!

                                 Julia.

And he was better than you!--For he wanted nothing more than to follow
me with his eyes. But you, Pierre, you were not so easily satisfied.
No, the young Count was more exacting. Corrupt to the core--in spite of
his twenty years----

                          Pierre (_proudly_).

I am not a bit corrupt. I am a dreamer. My twenty years excuse that!

                                 Julia.

But your dreams are poisonous. You want a woman to be your mistress and
yet be chaste--to keep the blush of maidenhood and yet be as passionate
as yourself.--And what have you learned from your experience in the
world? Nothing, except how to scent and track out the sins that lie
hidden in one's inmost soul, the secret sins that one dares not admit
to oneself.--And when the prey is in reach, then you fire away with
your "rights of the modern woman," your "sovereignty of the freed
individuality"--and whatever the rest of the phrases may be.--Ah! You
knew better than I that we all have the Scarlet Woman's blood in our
veins!--Blow away the halo--and the saint is gone!

                                Pierre.

It seems to me you found a great deal of pleasure in your sin!

                                 Julia.

Yes--at least that's what one tells oneself--perhaps one feels it,
too.--It depends--more in the evening than the morning--more in March
than October.--But the dread, the horror of it, is always there.--The
weight of such love is like the weight of one's own coffin-lid.--And
you soon discovered that, Pierre.--Then you began softly, gently, to
bind me to you with glances and caresses that were like chains of
roses!--Yes, and that I become maddened by roses as cats by valerian,
that, too, you soon found out.--Then--then you began to speak to me of
the lover's pavilion--all covered with roses--where your ancestors
spent happy, pastoral hours in wooing their loves--the pavilion that
had been waiting so long for a new mistress. You spoke of adorning it
with beautiful hangings--of filling it full of roses. Oh you, you
Pierre, how well you understood!--Do have some black coffee made for
me! If the gardener can't do it, make it yourself! Please, please!

                                Pierre.

But, I tell you, I have to go back to mamma.

                                 Julia.

Nowadays, you always "have to go back to mamma." Shall I tell you
something--a big secret? You are tired of me! You want to get rid
of me--only you don't know how!

                                Pierre.

Your notions are offensive, my dear.

                                 Julia.

Pierre, I know my fate. I know I am doomed to the gutter. But not
yet! Don't leave me yet! Care for me a little while longer--so the
fall won't be too sudden.--Let me stay here as long as the roses
bloom--here, where _he_ can't find me! Oh, if I leave this place I
shall die of fear!--Nowhere else am I safe from those two great fists
of his!--Pierre, Pierre, you don't know his fists--they're like two
iron bolts!--You, too--beware of him!

                      Pierre (_half to himself_).

Why do you say that to me?

                                 Julia.

He was always jealous of you. When you sent the hothouse roses in
April, he became suspicious. Ever since then, he has continually had
the notion of an admirer in his head. That was the danger-signal!
Pierre, if he surmised--then you would be the first--and I would come
afterward! Pierre, if you drive me to desperation, I'll give you up to
him!----

                                Pierre.

Are you mad?

                                 Julia.

I'll write him a letter something like this: "If you want to find the
traces of my flight, search the rubbish heap behind the lover's
pavilion. Search for the faded petals of the roses upon which, night
after night, Pierre and I celebrated our union. Search the highway for
the bloody prints of my bare feet after he turned me out. Then search
the dregs of the brothels where I found a refuge. And then--then avenge
me!"

                                Pierre.

You'll do nothing of the kind, you-- (_Seizes her by the wrists._)

                          Julia (_laughing_).

Nonsense! You have no strength! (_Disengages herself without
difficulty._)

                                Pierre.

You've taken it out of me, you beast!

                                 Julia.

Beast?--You've been muttering that word now for a couple of days. This
is the first time that you have flung it in my face.--What have I done
that was bestial except to throw my young life at your feet?--And so
this is the end of our rose-fête?----

         Pierre (_in a low voice, breathing with difficulty_).

No, not yet--the end is still to come!

                                 Julia.

I dare say.

                                Pierre.

In fact--you must--leave here.

                                 Julia.

I dare say.

                                Pierre.

Do you understand?--You must leave this place--at once!

                                 Julia.

H'm--just so.

                                Pierre.

For--you must know--you are no longer safe here.

                        Julia (_turning pale_).

Not here either?--Not even here?----

                                Pierre.

I didn't tell you everything, before.

                                 Julia.

Are you up to some new trick now?

                                Pierre.

After I had accompanied him down the steps, he asked--very suddenly--to
see the park.

                                 Julia.

The park----?

                                Pierre.

Yes. And he seemed to be searching every rose-bush as if to count
the number of blossoms that had been cut from it. Then--in the linden
lane--I kept pushing to the left--he kept pushing to the right,
straight for the pavilion. And as it stood before us----

                          Julia (_terrified_).

The pavilion?

                                Pierre.

Certainly.

                         Julia (_shuddering_).

So near!

                                Pierre.

He said he'd like to see the old thing once, from the inside.

                                 Julia.

Good heavens! But he knows that's impossible--he knows your family
history!

                                Pierre.

And you may be sure that's how I put it to him.

                                 Julia.

And what did he----?

                                Pierre.

He was silent--and went back.

                                 Julia.

Went back! But he'll return!----


                                Pierre.

You've dumped me into a pretty mess, you have!

                                 Julia.

Do, for goodness' sake, stop pitying yourself, and tell me what's to be
done.

                                Pierre.

Haven't I told you?

                                 Julia.

I'll not go away! I will not go away! He can't come in here! I will not
leave this place!

                                Pierre.

Listen! I'll have a carriage here--at one o'clock in the night--behind
the park wall. Take it as far as the station.--Listen, I tell you!

                                 Julia.

No, no, no! As soon as I step into the street, I'm lost. And you, too!
You don't know him! Gentle and tractable as he seems, when once he's
angry, his blood boils over!--If I hadn't taken the cartridges out of
his revolver in those days, he-- Why, I've seen him pick up two
unmanageable boys on our place and swing them over his shoulder into
the mill stream! And they would have been ground to pieces, too, if he
hadn't braced himself against the shaft. Pierre, Pierre, never get into
his way again. He's merciless!

                   Pierre (_feigning indifference_).

Oh, nonsense! I can hit the ace of hearts at twenty paces! I'll show
him!

                                 Julia.

Yes, you'll "show him"! Do you suppose that he's going to wait until
you take a shot at him?--Devilish much he cares about your duels! He'd
make a clod of earth out of you before you'd have time to take off your
hat!--I tell you, bolt the gate, lock every room in the house, hide
behind your mother's chair,--and even there you won't be safe from him!

                                Pierre.

(_Struggling against his growing apprehension._) If that's the case,
then--h'm, then the best thing for me to do is to disappear for a time.

                   Julia (_trying to cling to him_).

Yes, let's go away together!

                        Pierre (_moving aside_).

That might suit you.

                                 Julia.

But, after all, it would do no good. We could hide among crowds of
people--in Piccadilly or in Batignolles--we could go to India or to
Texas--and yet, if he took it into his head, he would find us none the
less. Even if we should evade him--some day, sooner or later, you would
have to return--and then--you would have to pay the penalty!

                         Pierre (_stammering_).

I--would--have to----

                           Julia (_wildly_).

So stay--stay here! Go and shoot him down!--at night--from behind!--It
doesn't matter! Only--let--me--breathe--again.

                                Pierre.

Do you want to drive me mad? Don't you see that I'm trembling all over?

                                 Julia.

Because you're a cad and a coward--because----

                                Pierre.

Yes, yes--anything, for all I care! But go! Leave my property! Insult
me, spit on me,--but go!

                                 Julia.

And what then? What then?

                                Pierre.

Can't you write to him? Tell him that you have come back from your
little journey--that you have reconsidered--that you can't live without
him. Tell him to forget--and all shall be as it was before.--Now,
wouldn't that be splendid?

                                 Julia.

Now when he suspects?--When he can follow me, step by step, here to
this pavilion and back again? (_Contemptuously._) Splendid!

                                Pierre.

Then try something else!--Oh, now I have it! Now I have it!

                                 Julia.

Speak, Pierre, for God's sake, speak! I'll love you as--! Speak! Speak!

                                Pierre.

You know him. His heart is soft?

                                 Julia.

Yes, except when he's in a rage, then----

                                Pierre.

And you are sure that he loves you deeply?

                                 Julia.

If he didn't love me so much, what need we fear?

                                Pierre.

Good! Well then, take a carriage at the station and drive home; throw
yourself at his feet and tell him everything. Tell him, for all I care,
that you hate me--that you loathe me--I don't mind--grovel before him
until he raises you. And then all will be well!

                                 Julia.

Ah, if it were possible!--It would be deliverance--it would be heaven!
I should be safe once more--a human being!--I should see the sun again,
instead of these streaks of light!--I should breathe the fresh air,
instead of this musty odour of dead roses!--I shouldn't have to sink
down, down into the filth!--I shouldn't have to be a bad woman--even if
I am one!--There would be a respectable divorce--or perhaps merely a
separation. For, I no longer dare hope to live with him as his wife,
even if I were satisfied to be no better than his dog for the rest of
my days!--Ah, but it cannot be! It cannot be! You don't know him. You
don't know what he's like when the veins stand out on his forehead!--He
would kill me!--Rather than that--kill me yourself!--Here--now--this
moment!--Get your duelling pistols. Oh no! There--there--there are
plenty of weapons! (_She pulls at the weapons on the wall, several of
which fall clattering upon the floor._) Swords--daggers--here! (_Throws
an armful on the chaise-longue._) They are rusty--but that doesn't
matter.--Take one! Stab me first--then--do as you please!--Live if you
can--do!--live as happily as you can! Your life is in your hands.

                                Pierre.

Yes--I dare say. Live!--But how? Where? (_Sobs chokingly._)

                                 Julia.

Come, then--we'll die together--together! (_They sink into each other's
arms and remain motionless in mute despair. After a time_, Julia
_raises her head cautiously and looks about her._) Pierre!

                          Pierre (_troubled_).

Well?

                                 Julia.

Has it occurred to you? Perhaps it isn't so, after all!

                                Pierre.

What do you mean?

                                 Julia.

Perhaps we've just been talking ourselves into this notion, little by
little--think so?

                                Pierre.

You mean that he really wanted to do nothing but--look at the pavilion?

                                 Julia.

Well, it's possible, you know.

                                Pierre.

Yes--at least nothing very unusual occurred.

                                 Julia.

But your naughty, naughty conscience came and asserted itself. Ha! Ha!
What a silly little boy it is! A downright stupid little boy!

                                Pierre.

My imagination was always rather easily aroused. I----

                 Julia (_laughing without restraint_).

Such a stupid boy!--Pierre, let's make some coffee--for a change, eh?

                                Pierre.

But you know--I have to----

                                 Julia.

Dear me, mamma has had her tea long ago. Tell her you sat down in the
shade--and fell asleep--anything! It's growing a bit shady here now.
See there! The streaks of light have gone. (_Indicates a corner of the
room in which the streaks of light have just grown dim._) Ah! but how
hot it is! (_Tears her dress open at the throat, breathing heavily._)
Will you bring me the coffee-pot, like a good boy?

                         Pierre (_listlessly_).

Oh, well--all right. (_Carries the coffee-pot to the table._)

                                 Julia.

Pierre, you--you couldn't open the small door just a tiny bit? No one
would look into the shrubbery.

                                Pierre.

Well, out there in the shrubbery, it's even hotter than in here.

                                 Julia.

Oh, just try it--won't you?

                                Pierre.

Well, you'll see! (_Opens the door at the left._)

                                 Julia.

Whew! It's like a blast from a furnace! And that disgusting odour--a
mixture of perspiration and bad perfume--ugh!

                                Pierre.

That's from the roses of our by-gone days--they lie out there in great
heaps.

                                 Julia.

Close the door! Hurry--close it!

                          Pierre (_does so_).

I told you how it would be!

                                 Julia.

Well, perhaps you could adjust the shutters at the large door so that
we'd get more fresh air in here.

                                Pierre.

Even that would be dangerous. If some one happened to be looking this
way and saw the movement----

                      Julia (_going to the door_).

One has to do it slowly, ve-ry slow-ly-- (_She starts, uttering a low
cry of fear, and retreats to the foreground, her arms outstretched as
if she were warding off a ghost._)

                                Pierre.

What's the matter?

                                 Julia.

Sh! Sh! (_Approaches him cautiously, then softly._) There's a man--out
there.

                                Pierre.

Where?

                                 Julia.

Hush! Come here you can see it against the light. (_They cautiously
change places_. Pierre _utters a low shriek, then_ Julia, _softly,
despairingly_) Pierre!

                                Pierre.

It must be the gardener.

                                 Julia.

It's not--the--gardener.

                                Pierre.

Who is it then?

                                 Julia.

Creep around--and lock--the glass door.

                      Pierre (_weak from fright_).

I can't.

                                 Julia.

Then I will. (_She has taken but a few steps toward the door when the
streaks of light again become visible._) He's gone now!

                                Pierre.

How--gone?

                                 Julia.

There--there--nothing----

                                Pierre.

Seize the opportunity--and go.

                                 Julia.

Where?

                                Pierre.

To the gardener's house--quick--before he comes back.

                                 Julia.

In broad daylight--half dressed as I am?

                                Pierre.

Throw on a wrap--anything--hurry! (_Knocking at the door on the left.
They both stand rooted to the spot. The knocking is repeated. Then_
Pierre, _in a choking voice_) Come in.

(Wittich _enters. He is a large, burly man of about forty, whose whole
appearance betrays neglect; his sandy-coloured hair is pushed back from
his forehead in damp strands; his beard is straggling and unkempt; his
face is haggard and perspiring, his eyes lustreless. He staggers
heavily in walking. He speaks in a stammering, hesitating voice; he
gives the impression, in sum, of a man who is deathly ill, but is
making an intense effort to hold himself together._)

                                Wittich.

I beg your pardon if I am disturbing you. (_Both stare at him without
venturing to move._)

                        Pierre (_taking heart_).

Oh--p-p-please----

                                Wittich.

I see you were about to make coffee. Really--I don't want to----

                         Pierre (_stammering_).

P-p-please--th-there's no--hurry----

                                Wittich.

Well, then we may as well--settle--our affair--first. (Julia, _who has
been standing quite still, panting, utters a low groan. At the sound of
her voice_, Wittich _catches his breath as if suffocating, then sinks
into one of the chairs at the left and stares vacantly at the floor._)

              Pierre (_edging up to_ Julia _then softly_).

Can you understand this?

               Julia (_glancing back--aside to_ Pierre).

Keep near the weapons!

                     Pierre (_as_ Wittich _moves_).

Hush!

                                Wittich.

You must forgive me--I only wanted to--look after--my--wife. (_Breaks
down again._)

                       Pierre (_aside to_ Julia).

Why, he's quite out of his mind!

                                 Julia.

Keep near the weapons!

                                Wittich.

I don't care--to settle--this matter--by means of a--so-called--affair
of honour. I'm a plain man. I only know about such things from hearsay.
And any way--I don't see that they help--m-matters much. (_Breaks into
tearless sobs._)

                           Pierre (_aside_).

He won't hurt us.

                         Julia (_stammering_).

I simply--don't--understand it--at all!

                     Pierre (_pointing to_ Wittich).

Try it! Go to him!

                                 Julia.

He's not a bit like himself.

                                Pierre.

Go on! Go on!

                                 Julia.

(_Who has timidly approached her husband, bid has drawn back at a
movement of his, suddenly throws herself at his feet with great
emotion._) George! George!--I am guilty!--I have sinned before
God and you!--I acknowledge my crime!--My life is in your hands!--Crush
me--grind me to dust!--But God knows, I only obeyed a wretched impulse.
My love for you has never left my heart.--My one desire is to die. Kill
me!--Here!--Now!--But forgive me! Ah, forgive me!

                  Wittich (_staring straight ahead_).

Yes, they always talk like that--in books, at least.

                                 Julia.

Forgive me!

                                Wittich.

There is nothing to forgive. And I am not going to kill any one. What
good would it do? (Julia _sobs, hiding her face in her hands._)

                                Pierre.

Well, then--don't kneel there--like that--Julia, dear!

                                 Julia.

I shall lie here until he raises me. Raise me! Take me in your arms!
Oh, George----

                                Wittich.

Yes, that's what they always say. (_Sinks into reverie again._)

                        Pierre (_aside to her_).

Hush! Stand up! (_She does so._) Well--h'm--I suppose I may assume,
Herr Wittich, that you had some purpose in seeking this interview?

                                Wittich.

Yes--yes. (_Looking about him._) I can well imagine that my
wife--er--that the lady must find it very pleasant here.

                                Pierre.

Oh, yes--we needn't hesitate to say that, need we, Julia, dear?

                Julia (_uncertainly adopting his tone_).

No, indeed, Pierre, dear.

                                Wittich.

At least--she seems to have plenty of roses here.

                      Julia (_laughing nervously_).

Oh, yes--plenty.

                                Wittich.

May I ask whether the lady has made any arrangements for the future?

                        Julia (_still timidly_).

I was thinking of making my home in Paris, wasn't I, Pierre?

                                Pierre.

Yes. You see, Julia wants to live a life suited to her tastes and
inclinations--a life such as she cannot have even here--a life
consecrated to Beauty and Art.

                                Wittich.

They say that an existence of that sort comes high. Has my
wife--er--has the lady made any provision for her expenses?

                        Pierre (_embarrassed_).

From the moment that I become of age I shall be in a position
to--h'm--h'm----

                                Wittich.

I see. But _until_ that moment--?

                                Pierre.

I--er----

                                Wittich.

Well, I consider it my duty--and mine alone--to protect the woman
whom--until recently--I called my wife. And to save her from ruin, I am
willing to make any sacrifice whatsoever.

                                Pierre.

Oh, as for that, of course----

                                Wittich.

I intend to put no obstacle in the way of your desire to legitimize
your relations.

                                Pierre.

Very kind of you--really--very thoughtful indeed.

                                Wittich.

Not because--not that I don't dare insist upon _my_ rights in this
affair, but because I want to guard _her_ from lifelong misery.

                                Pierre.

Really, you wouldn't believe how often we have discussed this
question--would he, Julia, dear?

                                 Julia.

But I am never going to grant your wish, Pierre, dear. You shall keep
your liberty--you shall be free! Even as I ask nothing better than to
follow my own inclinations. If I am ruined because of them--well, it's
no one's concern but my own--no one's! (_Tosses her head._)

                                Wittich.

May I inquire what those inclinations are?

                                 Julia.

It's hard to say--off-hand.--You must feel it--you must-- Well, I want
to be free!--I want to hold my fate in my own hands!--I want-- Oh, why
talk about it? What is one poor, human life?--especially a life like
mine!--I am branded--doomed to the gutter!--One need use no ceremony
with me now!

                                Wittich.

Really! Well--h'm--if I had known that you felt that way about it--I
should have made you--a different proposition--Julia, dear.

                                 Julia.

Tell me! Please!

                                Pierre.

Yes--tell us--please!

                                Wittich.

I suppose I may assume that the people at the castle know nothing of
this little adventure of the young Count's?

                                Pierre.

You may rest assured, my dear sir, that I know what is due a woman's
honour.

                                Wittich.

Ah--really!--Well, I'm sure no one saw me coming here. So then, there
need be no scandal.

                                Pierre.

That would certainly be most agreeable to all parties concerned.

                                Wittich.

But--how did the lady propose to leave here without being seen?

                                Pierre.

Pray, my dear sir, let that be my concern.

                                Wittich.

That concern, however, I shall share with you--my dear sir. And it
seems to me that the best plan would be for the lady to put on a decent
dress, walk through the grounds with me, and pay a visit to the
Countess at the castle.

                                Pierre.

What!--my mother--? What's the use of that?

                                Wittich.

It will look as if she'd returned--and we'd--somehow--met here.

                                Pierre.

Do you think any one is going to believe that?

                          Wittich (_proudly_).

What else should they believe?

                       Julia (_frightened anew_).

Oh, but I don't want to! I don't want to do that! Pierre! I want to
stay with you! I am under your protection, Pierre!

                                Pierre.

See here, my dear sir, let us suppose that your plan is
successful--what then?

                                 Julia.

Yes--yes--afterward--what then?

                                Wittich.

Then?--Then-- (_Looks from one to the other, uncertainly, almost
imploringly, and breaks down again._)

                                Pierre.

Well--won't you go on with your proposition?

                                Wittich.

Yes, I suppose that when a man has acted as I have acted here, he must
have lost--his sense of pride--and honour--and all the rest of it--long
ago.--Then nothing is left him but--his duty.--And the thing that seems
to me my--duty--I am going to do.--Let the Count sneer at me--I no
longer----

                                Pierre.

Oh, please--I say!

                                Wittich.

Well, then, let me tell you something, Julia. After I had read the
letter from Brussels, I had two rooms prepared for you--in the left
wing--quite apart; so that some day, in case--you ever--came back-- Oh,
well--it doesn't matter now. But the rooms--are--still there--and if
you would like to come home with me now--straight off--well, you might
be spared--some annoyance.

                                Pierre.

H'm--so you're willing--? (_Shrugs his shoulders and laughs._) I
suppose that sort of thing is all a matter of taste--but I can
understand----

                                Wittich.

I am speaking to you, Julia.

                                 Julia.

Oh, I thank you most heartily, George. It's certainly very noble
of you--and--I deeply appreciate it. But after--this, I should
always feel ashamed before you--I should feel that I was just being
tolerated--I-- No. Thank you, George--but I couldn't stand it.

                       Pierre (_correcting her_).

That is--! (_Aside to_ Julia.) Don't be a fool!

                  Wittich (_without noticing_ Pierre).

You shall never hear a word of reproach from my lips, Julia, dear.

                                 Julia.

But--if I should actually accept--we never could go on as we did
before, you know. I must be free to do exactly as I please--to go
away--come back--just as I like. There is such a thing as the
sovereignty of the individuality, my dear George--you can't deny that.

                                Pierre.

Herr Wittich can't possibly deny that!

                                Wittich.

You shall have your own way as far as it lies in my power, Julia, dear.

                                 Julia.

And then, you must try to bring a little more--more beauty into our
life.--I surely have the right to demand that. Just look about you
here. You know how passionately fond of roses I am. My soul demands
something besides--potatoes! Well, I insist upon having roses around
me. That's not unreasonable, is it?

                                Wittich.

You shall have roses enough to smother you.

                         Pierre (_nervously_).

Well, then, Julia, dear, I see no reason why we should not accept this
proposition.

                                Wittich.

What have you got to say about it?

                                Pierre.

I beg your pardon, Herr Wittich. I certainly don't want to offend you.
But--as Julia and I have found so much in each other--haven't we,
Julia, dear?

                                 Julia.

Yes--so very, very much, Pierre, dear.--And to know that we were so
near--and yet could never see each other or talk together, or-- I, for
my part, couldn't endure it, could you, Pierre?

                                Pierre.

Oh--as for that--well, it would be hard, Julia, dear.

                                 Julia.

And what would the world say, dear George, if we should suddenly--and
apparently without any cause--break off all communication with our
neighbors? How would Pierre explain it to his mother? Why, he simply
couldn't! No; if we are to carry out your plan, then everything must
remain outwardly the same as before. Don't you agree with me, Pierre,
dear?

                                Pierre.

(_Hesitating, with an apprehensive glance toward_ Wittich.)
Outwardly--yes, Julia, dear.

                 Wittich (_losing control of himself_).

So that's your condition, is it?

              Julia (_with a sort of nervous impudence_).

Yes, that's our condition--isn't it, Pierre, dear? (Pierre _does not
reply, but looks at_ Wittich.)

                                Wittich.

Really?--Really!--Very well! (_He draws himself to his full height, his
face flushes, and he looks around the room wildly, as if searching for
something._)

                                 Julia.

What are you looking for, George?

                                Wittich.

If you-- (_Gasps as if suffocating._)

                                 Julia.

George! George! What's the matter?

                                Wittich.

There--there--there! (_With a loud cry, he falls upon the weapons and
snatches one of the daggers._)

                                 Julia.

Help! Help! Pierre! Save me!

                      Pierre (_at the same time_).

Help! Help! (_He pushes open the door and escapes, screaming_. Julia
_rushes out through the door at the left_. Wittich _dashes after her. A
piercing shriek is heard. After a short pause_, Julia _appears at the
large door in the centre. She tries to go further, fails, supports
herself against the door posts for an instant, and then reels into the
room. She attempts to lean against the small table in the centre, but
falls to the floor, dying. As she falls the small table is upset,
burying her beneath a shower of roses._

_Through the doorway at the left_, Wittich _is heard, sobbing and
groaning. In the distance_ Pierre _is shouting for help. The sound of
many voices, growing louder as the curtain falls._)



                                   II

                                 MARGOT

                           A PLAY IN ONE ACT



                               CHARACTERS

                  Herr Ebeling, a lawyer.
                  Frau von Yburg.
                  Margot, her daughter.
                  Doctor von Tietz.
                  Bonath, a secretary.
                  A Servant.

                            The Present Day

The scene is laid in a large German city.



                                 MARGOT


_The richly furnished office of a prosperous lawyer. Pictures, bronzes,
carved furniture, costly hangings. In the foreground, on the left, a
window; turned toward it, a writing-table with a writing-chair behind.
Near the window, a leather arm-chair. At the narrow side of the table,
in the foreground, a low seat. On the right, a sofa, table, and chairs.
In the background, a door which, when opened, reveals the clerks
working at long tables. To the right, back, another door. The backward
projection of the writing-table forms a revolving-stand for reference
books. On the writing-table, among documents and writing materials, are
photographs in standing frames and a slender vase filled with dark red
roses._

_It is winter, about six o'clock in the evening. The lamps are
lighted._

Ebeling _is seated in the writing-chair. He is a man of about forty,
attractive, winning in manner, his clothes betokening wealth and
refinement; he wears a short, dark beard, and his hair is slightly gray
at the temples_. Von Tietz, _sitting opposite him in the arm-chair, is
about thirty, very smartly dressed--in appearance a type of the
ordinary drawing-room devotee._

                Ebeling (_holding out a box of cigars_).

There! Now let's chat. Will you smoke?

                     v. Tietz (_helping himself_).

Really now--if I'm disturbing you----

                                Ebeling.

See here, my dear fellow, if you were disturbing me, I'd make short
work of you. But (_looking toward the clock_) my office hours are over.
And we'll find out immediately what else there is. (_He rings._)

               Bonath _appears with a bundle of papers_.

                                Ebeling.

Is any one still there?

                                Bonath.

No, Herr Ebeling, but a lady is expected.

                                Ebeling.

Yes, I know. Well, let me have the papers. (Bonath _lays them before
him._)

                                Ebeling.

(_To_ v. Tietz.) You can go on speaking. These are only
signatures.--Have you a light?

                               v. Tietz.

(_Who has stood up and is looking around the room._) Yes, thank you.

                                Ebeling.

See that this decision is delivered to Baron von Kanoldt at once.

                                Bonath.

Yes, Herr Ebeling.

                               v. Tietz.

You've become a collector, I see.

                          Ebeling (_signing_).

One must have some diversion.

                               v. Tietz.

What's that? Looks like a Terburg. Is it an original?

                          Ebeling (_signing_).

Would you expect it to be a copy?

                               v. Tietz.

H'm, your practice is certainly splendid.

                                Ebeling.

There are a lot of people, though, who think they are cleverer than
I--and take great pains to justify their opinion. (_To_ Bonath.) Will
it be necessary to work overtime?

                                Bonath.

Not to-day, Herr Ebeling.

                                Ebeling.

Then you can announce Frau von Yburg as soon as she comes. (v. Tietz
_listens attentively._)

                                Bonath.

Very well, Herr Ebeling. (_Goes out._)

                               v. Tietz.

The lady you are expecting is Frau von Yburg?

                                Ebeling.

Of course you know that I've been the Yburg's legal adviser for years.

                       v. Tietz (_sitting down_).

Well, really, this is quite a marvellous coincidence. It's on account
of the Yburgs that I've come to see you.

                        Ebeling (_interested_).

Is that so? What's the matter?

                               v. Tietz.

My dear friend, if you hadn't so completely drawn away from all society
since your wife l---- (_alarmed._) I beg your pardon.

                                Ebeling.

Go on! Say it! Left me! Walked out of the house! You may say it. But
then--drop it! Even our old fraternity friendship doesn't oblige us to
be everlastingly putting each other on the grill.

                               v. Tietz.

No, really--it escaped me somehow. I'm awfully sorry.

                                Ebeling.

Oh, well, never mind. You know, I speak of it quite disinterestedly.
And it's a good many years since then. Only--I'd rather not be attacked
unawares.

                               v. Tietz.

Don't worry. I'll be on my guard. But--as we've mentioned it--there's
something I wanted to ask you before--only I hadn't the courage. Tell
me, do you always keep her picture on your table?

                      Ebeling (_in a hard voice_).

Yes.

                               v. Tietz.

Then you still love her?

                                Ebeling.

No. I only keep the picture there to warn me against making a
fool of myself again. So many charming women sit there where you're
sitting, women just on the point of divorce--and therefore in
need of consolation. Every now and then one of them undertakes to
faint--um--and then I have to-- (_Holds out his arms._)

                  v. Tietz (_bursting out laughing_).

Aha! Very interesting! Very interesting!

                                Ebeling.

In short, it does no harm to keep the picture there.

                               v. Tietz.

Of course, everyone knows how much courted you are. For instance, no
matter when I come to see you, I always find those beautiful roses on
your table. They speak for themselves. Heavens! What a luxury! Roses in
January!

                                Ebeling.

Things like that come anonymously. If I knew who the sender was, I
wouldn't accept them.

                               v. Tietz.

Let me with all due modesty give you a piece of advice: you ought to
marry.

                                Ebeling.

(_Ironically, shaking his finger at him across the table._) Thank you.
But didn't you want to speak to me about the Yburgs?

                               V. Tietz.

Yes. What was I going to say?--Oh, yes. Well, if you hadn't taken it
into your head to live like a hermit, you'd know that, for some time
past, I've been a very frequent visitor at the Yburgs's.

                                Ebeling.

Oh, yes, I know. I go there myself sometimes--only not when other
people are around.

                               v. Tietz.

Well, then, to make a long story short--why should I mince matters with
you?--I am courting Margot.

                         Ebeling (_startled_).

Ah--you, too? You're also one of the crowd?

                    v. Tietz (_conceitedly_).

I trust that I stand up a bit above the crowd.

                                Ebeling.

Indeed? I thought perhaps the social glamour of the Yburgs was
attracting you. A thing like that can't help dazzling one. But
that you----

                               v. Tietz.

Is it so surprising? That girl is so bewitching--so--so entirely unlike
these forward, city-bred girls. With her, at least, one knows what one
can count on. She's so--so the essence of everything innocent and
chaste and pure.

                          Ebeling (_quoting_).

"Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow,"--thy dowry shall not
escape me.

                               v. Tietz.

No, no--don't joke. It's out of place. I won't deny that, as an
official without fortune--that would also be very--h'm--but----

                                Ebeling.

Yes, but what have I got to do with it?

                               v. Tietz.

See here, my dear friend, we scattered remnants of the old college
fraternity have grown so accustomed to ask your help in times of need,
to look up to you as a sort of father confessor----

                                Ebeling.

Do you want me to go and propose for you?

                               v. Tietz.

We'll talk of that later. But first I'd like to ask you something. See
here, what rôle is Baron von Kanoldt playing in this family?

                                Ebeling.

So that's it!

                               V. Tietz.

You're his counsel in his divorce proceedings, aren't you?

                                Ebeling.

As the affair has become common talk, I need make no secret of it.

                               v. Tietz.

They say that it is the wife who has been the martyr. And yet, after
fifteen years, _he_ begins the divorce proceedings. Why should he?

                                Ebeling.

My dear fellow, you must put that question to some one who's not so
well informed as I am.

                               v. Tietz.

Oh, see here, I don't want to be indiscreet about it, but the further
the case goes, the more persistent are the rumours that he has designs
on Margot's hand--and, furthermore, that her mother is encouraging him!

                                Ebeling.

Frau von Yburg will be here in a few minutes.--Ask her!

                               v. Tietz.

What do you take me for?

                  Ebeling (_shrugging his shoulders_).

Oh, well then----

                               v. Tietz.

But just think! that man--forty, if he's a day, fat, worn out, a roué
whose amorous adventures are common gossip to every cabby on the
street!

                                Ebeling.

Pardon me, my clients are all virtuous, young, handsome, desirable--of
inestimable pulchritude.

                               v. Tietz.

See here--are you chaffing me?

                                Ebeling.

I'm only trying to make you understand that you've unwittingly walked
into the enemy's camp.

                       v. Tietz (_standing up_).

Very well--if you don't want to----

                                Ebeling.

(_Also stands up, and puts his hand on_ v. Tietz's _shoulder._) My dear
fellow, you're ten years younger than I. You're one of your country's
young hopefuls. Go ahead and do what your heart and pocket-book bid
you.

                               v. Tietz.

I didn't need you to tell me that. (_A knock at the door._)

                                Ebeling.

Come in.

                                Bonath.

Frau von Yburg and----

                                Ebeling.

Ask her in.

(Bonath _stands aside, opening the door. Enter_ Frau v. Yburg _and_
Margot. Frau v. Yburg _is a woman of about forty, dressed simply but
tastefully; her bearing is dignified, self-possessed, refined, and
betrays a natural, unaffected knowledge of the demands of convention;
but hidden behind her assurance, and scarcely noticeable, are the
traces of an old sorrow, a helpless glance, and a forced smile_. Margot
_is a lovely young girl, extremely well-bred, with a somewhat shy,
reserved manner._)

                    v. Tietz (_at sight of Margot_).

Ah!

                             Frau v. Yburg.

I brought my little girl along, Herr Ebeling, to let her catch a
glimpse of the lion's den. I hope that you won't mind.

                     Ebeling (_kissing her hand_).

A thousand times welcome, dear ladies. (_Shakes hands with_ Margot.)

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Good evening, Herr von Tietz. This is indeed a pleasure. (_Gives him
her hand._)

                               v. Tietz.

I'm very happy to meet you both--I hadn't hoped to see Fräulein Yburg
here. But our friend believes in military promptitude. I have just
received permission to take my leave.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

I hope that you will come to see us soon, Herr von Tietz.

                               v. Tietz.

That's very kind of you. (_Bowing to_ Margot.) Fräulein Yburg!

               Ebeling (_accompanying him to the door_).

Good-bye, my dear fellow. No bad feelings now----

                               v. Tietz.

Oh, I say! Of course not! (_Goes out._)

                                Ebeling.

Won't you sit down?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Oh, no. Margot is only going to glance around a bit. Yes, my little
girl, you may well look about. Between these four walls many a fate has
been shaped.

                                Ebeling.

Let us rather say, has been mended.

                Margot (_softly, suddenly looking up_).

Mine, too?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

(_Looking at her with evident disapproval._) Perhaps Margot may call
for me again in half an hour. You won't mind?

                                Ebeling.

It will give me great pleasure.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Then run away, dear, pay your visit, and let the carriage bring you
back again. (_Sits down, right._)

                                Margot.

(_Giving him her hand with social assurance, but a little timidly, none
the less._) Au revoir, Herr Ebeling.

                                Ebeling.

Au revoir, Fräulein Margot. (_Accompanies her to the door, and calls._)
Bonath, see to it that Fräulein Yburg finds her way out. She is coming
back later.

                           _Voice of_ Bonath.

Very well, Herr Ebeling.

(Ebeling _bows to_ Margot, _who is already out of sight, and closes the
door._)

                                Ebeling.

Well, Frau von Yburg, we've brought matters to this point.

                       Frau v. Yburg (_sighing_).

Yes.

                                Ebeling.

The divorce was granted yesterday morning.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Yes, I know.

                                Ebeling.

Well, aren't you pleased?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

My dear Herr Ebeling, my heart is so full of gratitude--really, I don't
know how to thank you--for myself and also for my poor, dear child. But
I'm so helpless--so perplexed--I really don't know--I----

                                Ebeling.

Why, what can be wrong?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Yes--just fancy--well, then--_she won't do it!_

                        Ebeling (_astonished_).

What's that?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Think of the monstrosity of it! She won't do it.

                                Ebeling.

Has she been notified that the divorce has been granted?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Yesterday--just after the proceedings--Baron von Kanoldt--came--with
his proposal.

                                Ebeling.

H'm!--quicker than I had expected.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

My husband, of course, was simply thunderstruck. One can surely
sympathise with him--von Kanoldt--a man in the forties--divorced--with
grown children--and _such_ a reputation! But when he saw that I took
the man's part--I had to do that, didn't I?

                                Ebeling.

That was our only course.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Then his position, his wealth, his connections at court--oh, yes, and
naturally our long friendship-- Of course, my husband doesn't surmise
what this man did to her! In the end, he agreed that Margot herself
should decide.

                                Ebeling.

Well, and--? What----?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

She came, looked him quietly in the face, and asked for time to think
it over.

                                Ebeling.

It seems to me your husband was very clever. Otherwise, he might
perhaps have----

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Yes, but when we were alone, just fancy! she declared quite simply:
"No, I won't do it." I exclaimed, "Why, my dear child, you're out of
your mind! You know that we've done everything for the sake of this
day!" "Yes, I know all about it--but I won't." "You've been wishing it
for three years," I said to her. And what do you suppose she answered!
"I never wished it. You talked it into me--and he."

                                Ebeling.

"He?" Pardon me, who?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

You, Herr Ebeling.

               Ebeling (_standing up in his excitement_).

My dear lady, it was my duty to carry out what you and Fräulein Margot
desired--and what, in short, the circumstances demanded.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Oh, I know! My God, how well I realise it! And what a task you've
accomplished! No--when I remember how much persuasion, how much subtle
reasoning, how much-- Ah, and how I've suffered these three years! See,
my hair is quite gray!--And I still can't understand it! I still look
upon the girl as if she were a stranger, a mysterious being who has
lost her way and accidentally come to me. I--I who was brought up so
strictly, watched, and carefully tended all my life, kept worlds away
from any taint of the unconventional-- And she, too-- No, on that
point, I can't reproach myself. And yet--this horror! No, I shall
never, never understand it! Ah, and to have to bear it all alone! Oh,
yes, I had to do that. My husband, with his long army training, would
have forced him to fight--and then we should all have been dragged in
the dust. Margot's life--our position in society--everything! Ah, if
you hadn't been here, Herr Ebeling! Do you remember how I came to you?
I think I was half dead from wretchedness! With the letter to him in my
hand, the letter that I had taken from her as she lay distracted in my
arms! Do you remember?

                                Ebeling.

Oh, don't speak of it! As I read that handwriting--still so
childish--and that helpless, stammering question: "What has happened to
me?"--God knows, everything turned black before my eyes! Oh! it's too
horrible!

                             Frau v. Yburg.

And then you yourself said to me, "You're right--the blackguard _must_.
I'll make him."

                                Ebeling.

I said it in the heat of the first great indignation. Please take that
into consideration. After I went to work, I religiously kept to my
programme to leave all threats and violence out of the question. Not
only because-- Ah, as I've come to feel now, such a calm method of
procedure would be impossible. But then I had to keep in mind that a
new life--I don't venture to say a happy one--was to be gained through
me. To-day, some one is grateful to me--the very one who at first
opposed me most violently--that poor, wretched wife.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

And now everything would have been forgiven. I can't understand it. I
don't know--I----

                                Ebeling.

So she won't do it?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

And that's why I've fled to you in my need! Later, when she returns, I
want to have gone. You understand? I've arranged it this way so that
you could bring her to her senses. A little heart to heart talk, you
know. But if your influence doesn't help, then I don't know--then----

                    Ebeling (_walking up and down_).

And so she won't do it.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Yes, just explain it to me! The only possible way in which to
rehabilitate herself in her own eyes! And she throws it to the winds!
What can she be thinking of? What----

                                Ebeling.

And so she won't do it!

                             Frau v. Yburg.

What's come over you, Herr Ebeling? You're not listening!

                      Ebeling (_firmly, quietly_).

Very well, then she _shall_ not.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

For God's sake! You, too! You, too, want----

                                Ebeling.

My dear friend, I have done all that lay in my power, often against my
own convictions, I can assure you. She knows what she is doing. She
will not. Very well. I'm not here to bait her to her ruin. I am very
sorry, but this time I must refuse my assistance.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

But what will happen? Must all our work count for nothing--your work,
my work? For I have worked over her with all my powers, I need not
hesitate to say it, worked to place her again on those spiritual
heights where a young girl of family by right belongs. I have led her
back to Religion, for whoever has anything to expiate must possess
Religion. I have read with her only the most carefully selected books,
books that could never, never endanger a young girl's imagination. And
I have taken special care to see to it that when she was in the company
of young people, she should, if possible, be stricter and even more
reserved than the most timid of her friends. For her need of such
behaviour was double theirs, wasn't it? And you yourself will admit
that my efforts have been successful. No one could deny it and look
into those clear, steadfast eyes of hers. (Ebeling _nods assent._) She
has become all soul--all----

                     Ebeling (_doubtingly, sadly_).

Ah!

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Yes, indeed, Herr Ebeling. No clandestine, no unseemly wish finds its
way into her heart. I'll vouch for that. She glides through life like a
silent spirit, cleansed and purified.

                                Ebeling.

And therefore we are to throw her into the jaws of that beast.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Is there any other way? Do you know of any?

                         Ebeling (_tormented_).

H'm! She certainly has suitors enough!

                             Frau v. Yburg.

She'll reject them all--as she has heretofore. She simply says, "I
shall not begin my new life with a lie. I think too much of myself for
that. And to confess, to tell the man, and have him turn his back on
me, or out of pure pity raise me to his own level--I think _entirely_
too much of myself for that."

                                Ebeling.

I believe one can readily appreciate her feelings.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

But what will become of her? Is she to wither and wear away--this
heavenly young creature? (Ebeling _walks about, growing more and more
excited. A pause._) Herr Ebeling, speak! Advise me!

                          Ebeling (_firmly_).

I know of only one solution: she must choose some one who knows it.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Who could that be--except----?

                     Ebeling (_breathing heavily_).

Except that man, there is only one other.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

(_Stares at him uncomprehendingly with her hands clasped, then
stammering._) Oh! oh, God! What a joy that would be!

                                Ebeling.

What more can I say? Such things come and grow great in a man, one
knows not how. She bore _her_ sorrow, _her_ shame, I mine. At first,
perhaps, it was no more than a casual fancy--no, an interest, for my
inclinations were always involved--but to-day it has become a passion,
a passion that, lonely man as I am, gnaws me to the very core of my
being.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

But how have you managed through it all to keep so quiet, so
deliberate, so----?

                                Ebeling.

One learns, little by little, to be master of oneself. And five minutes
ago there was absolutely no hope, (_bursting out_) but if she no longer
wants him--why shouldn't I--oh! (_Hides his face in his hand, trembling
with emotion._)

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Wait! I don't see, after you've led him on to this point, how you'll
ever justify all this to Baron von Kanoldt.

                                Ebeling.

I don't know! Until now, I've led a tolerably respectable life. For, in
the disgrace that _she_ (_pointing to the picture of his wife_) brought
upon me, I played no part.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Oh, yes, everyone in society knows that.

                                Ebeling.

But I haven't once asked myself whether what I am now going to do--or
should like to do--conforms to the prevailing standards of propriety.
One ought to think it over, to let some time elapse--in short, I don't
know! All I can say is that if she doesn't want him, if she won't take
that--(_checking himself_)--him, well, then, the path is open to
any one--to me as well as to another.

                     Frau v. Yburg (_hesitating_).

I feel that I ought to warn you of just one thing more. She has never
seemed to consider you as anything more than a fatherly sort of friend.

                                Ebeling.

H'm! (_Laughs bitterly._) Even though I'm a couple of years younger
than----, I've certainly acted more like a father to her. But you're
probably right. (_Knocking._) Come in. (Bonath _enters._)

                                Bonath.

I've let the clerks go home. Have you any further orders, Herr Ebeling?

                                Ebeling.

You can go, too, Bonath. But tell my man to answer the door.

                                Bonath.

Very well, Herr Ebeling. Good evening. (Bonath _goes out._)

                                Ebeling.

Frau von Yburg, your daughter will return in a few minutes. Meanwhile,
the scene has changed not altogether insignificantly. Do you still
approve of that little private heart to heart talk--or not?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

Ah, my dear friend, I have such boundless confidence in you. You've
been her good angel for so long. I don't hesitate for a moment to leave
her in your hands. And you'll carefully observe all the conventions? Of
course you will.

                                Ebeling.

But what can I say to her?

                             Frau v. Yburg.

You're so skilled in reading the heart. You'll have found a way to
make her confess something before she's aware of it. Only let me beg of
you--if you find nothing in what she says that gives you reason to
hope, then please don't worry her. She has already suffered so much.

                                Ebeling.

Very well, then, I'll proceed upon the assumption that I have only to
comply with the request that brought you to me to-day.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

If you would----

                                Ebeling.

Hush! (_Listens at the door, then pointing to the right._) May I ask
you to go out this door? You know your way.

                             Frau v. Yburg.

And please, please, spare her delicacy. You've no idea how pure she
is--in spite of----

                                Ebeling.

If I didn't know _that_-- (_Knocking. He opens the door, right._)
Good-bye.

                      (Frau v. Yburg _goes out._)

                                Ebeling.

Come in.

                              The Servant.

A young lady is outside. She wants to know whether her mother is still
here.

                                Ebeling.

(_Hurrying to the centre door--vivaciously._) Just fancy Fräulein
Margot, your mother thought you'd no longer be coming, and has only
just left. (Margot _appears at the centre door, and stands there,
hesitating._) But won't you come in for a few moments?

                                Margot.

Gladly, if I may. (_Looking about irresolutely._) Only I don't know
whether I----

                                Ebeling.

What, my dear child?

                                Margot.

It isn't usually mamma's way to go off without me.

                                Ebeling.

Then I'll take you home myself. You need have no fears.

                                Margot.

Oh, I'm not afraid.

                 Ebeling (_inviting her to sit down_).

Won't you----?

                                Margot.

I'd like to look around a bit first; may I? I couldn't a while ago.

                                Ebeling.

I'm only too happy to think that you take some interest in my home.

                                Margot.

Dear me, mamma has so often told me about it. Of late years her visits
to you were our principal topic of conversation. I think I've known
every tiny nook here for a long, long time.

                                Ebeling.

Really?

                                Margot.

Oh, there's the stand with the horrible law books! (_Sighing._) Ah,
Herr Ebeling, everything in life is Law--and everything is in books.

                                Ebeling.

My dear young girl, the hardest laws are never to be found in books.

                                Margot.

Yes, you are right. The laws that drag us down to destruction are the
laws that we make for ourselves. And all those beautiful women! I
suppose one must be very beautiful to join them?

                     Ebeling (_parrying lightly_).

Most of them are clients who have presented me with their pictures as a
token of gratitude.

                                Margot.

Well, but I'm your client, too--and yet I should never dare to offer
you my picture in that way.

                                Ebeling.

If you only----

                          Margot (_startled_).

Oh, and there's your-- (_Looks at him questioningly, confused._)

                                Ebeling.

Yes, that's my former wife.

                                Margot.

I saw her only once in my life. I was a mere child then. She was very
lovely.

                                Ebeling.

Yes, she was lovely.

                                Margot.

Oh, and the wonder--wonderful roses! Mamma has told me that you always
have such lovely roses.

                          Ebeling (_lightly_).

Yes, I have an agreement with a gardener. He keeps me supplied.

                    Margot (_seemingly convinced_).

Oh!

                                Ebeling.

May I present them to you, Fräulein Margot?

                                Margot.

Oh, dear me, no. The gardener who keeps you supplied might be offended.

                         Ebeling (_laughing_).

As you wish.

                                Margot.

And this is the inquisitional chair--where the poor secrets are dragged
out?

                                Ebeling.

Quite the contrary! The secrets come forth of their own accord. I
always have to say "stop."

                                Margot.

Well, then, I needn't hesitate to sit down. (_Does so._) _My_ secret
you know--(_sighing_)--only too well!

                                Ebeling.

My dear Fräulein Margot; the real secret of your life, the law that
governs your thoughts and feelings, I believe no one knows--not even
your mother.

            Margot (_smiling and shrugging her shoulders_).

My good mamma! And I'm here to give you proofs of that fact, am I?

                         Ebeling (_evasively_).

Oh!

                                Margot.

The reason for my being here isn't the one you've given me.

                                Ebeling.

Indeed! What is it?

                                Margot.

I wasn't left here alone for nothing! Please go ahead, Herr Ebeling, do
your duty and talk me nicely into marrying Baron von--(_shudders_).
See?--I've never once been able to bring his name to my lips. And yet
I'm to pass my whole life with that man! Can one picture anything more
horrible? (_Shudders again._) Do you know of any occupation for me,
Herr Ebeling?

                                Ebeling.

Occupation? Why?

                                Margot.

I want to leave home.

                                Ebeling

Is that your earnest intention?

                            Margot (_nods_).

But, unfortunately, I've learned nothing. And then--it has to be an
occupation that wouldn't humiliate me--and that wouldn't spoil my hands
(_takes off her gloves_), for I love my hands. I don't care a bit about
my face, but my hands--they're like two friends. I can keep up long
conversations with them--especially with the left. That one's so weak.
So, something that wouldn't spoil the hands--and would leave me time
for reading--and--well, I want to be alone.

                                Ebeling.

I might have suggested nursing, even though it requires the constant
use of the hands. But, of course, you'd never be alone.

                                Margot.

No. I have no love for my fellow-creatures. I don't want to do anything
for them.

                                Ebeling.

Those are hard words, Fräulein Margot.

                                Margot.

I am hard. What have my fellow-creatures ever done for me?

                                Ebeling.

And--your parents?

                                Margot.

You refer to mamma? Mamma certainly means well. But mamma has torn my
soul from my body. She has made use of the old principle of family
rule--which may have had some sense in the Stone Age--and has turned me
into a doll, a doll-creature that moves its eyes and says _ba_ when you
press its head.--Just watch, Herr Ebeling!--Now haven't I a touching
fashion of casting up my eyes when I look at you in this simple,
thoughtful, innocent way?--And when I let the lids fall again in all
the bashful piety that I still can muster--isn't it simply sweet?

                         Ebeling (_earnestly_).

My dear young girl, I really believe I must begin to say "stop" now!

                                Margot.

Dear me! You're already disgusted with me! But if you had any idea--do
you know what you'd think? "Pity that I wasted such pains on a creature
like her!"

                                Ebeling.

I should never think that, my dear child. I should only pity you and
love you the more.

                                Margot.

I don't want to be pitied! And loved? (_Shakes her head._) At least not
that way--and not the other, either. That's still stupider. When I
listen to my friends--this one loves me, and that one loves me, and
this one kept my glove, and that one kissed my handkerchief--ugh! It
reminds me of the cackling of a lot of hens. Herr Ebeling, do you
believe criminals are scornful?

                                Ebeling.

Why do you ask?

                                Margot.

Please answer.

                                Ebeling.

It's very often true of born criminals.

                                Margot.

Well, then, I've the criminal nature.

                 Ebeling (_laughing against his will_).

Tut, tut, my dear child, why so--all of a sudden?

                                Margot.

Because I inwardly shrug my shoulders at everything that goes by the
name of Innocence. I keep thinking to myself, "You silly sheep, what do
you know about it?"--Ah, and yet, I envy them! At the balls, I see
everything as through a veil. The things that the men chatter about
sound far, far away--oceans off. I always feel like saying, "Don't
trouble about me. Go to that girl over there. She's stupid enough." And
then--after I've come home--I weep, weep from sheer envy and utter
boredom, weep until I have to turn my pillow.--And mamma? Mamma drags
me from ball to ball: I mustn't be unlike the others, you know!

                                Ebeling.

My dear child, if this goes against your nature, why don't you make
some resistance? Why don't you show your mother that you have thoughts
and feelings of your own which must be respected?

                                Margot.

Ah, my dear Herr Ebeling, just be a whipped dog yourself, year in year
out! The dog doesn't resist either--but suddenly, some day--when he's
at the very end of his endurance--he bites his master's hand. I shall
bite soon!

                                Ebeling.

Oh, I'll grant you that your mother has probably made some mistakes.
But only out of love, or because she knew no better. Just ask yourself
what would have become of you if you'd been left to yourself all this
time?

                                Margot.

I should have been embittered just the same--you're right--but I should
not have let myself fall.

                                Ebeling.

Who knows?

                                Margot.

Never! And I'll tell you something to prove it. Severely as I have been
watched--and--surely there's nothing coquettish about me?

                                Ebeling.

Certainly not.

                                Margot.

You can believe me when I say that, in the general moral tone
prevailing over our society just now--and of which our mothers
naturally know nothing--there lurks a temptation which has over and
over again enticed even me. Such things are so personal, so secret--one
cannot describe them. Oh, I could have done whatever I wished! But
I said to myself: the first time, you were ignorant, you were
sacrificed--or, at least, you can talk it into yourself that you were
sacrificed--but if ever again--no, I can't say it after all!

                                Ebeling.

I understand, my child.

                                Margot.

If ever again--then you'll be lost--forever! Then there can be no more
ideals, no more poetry--nothing lofty--nothing for which to work--and,
worst of all, nothing of which to dream. For to dream--ah, one must
dream, mustn't one? When one no longer has _that_!----

                           Ebeling (_moved_).

Yes, dear child.

                                Margot.

But you mustn't think that I'm trying to make myself interesting, or
that I stand here before you beautifully whitened and purified! Oh, no!
What I'm going to say to you now has never been said to any one, to any
man before. And you are going to despise me utterly. But I must say
it--once, once in my life--and then the old hypocrisy can go on again.
Well, I don't know what it is, but it's like a fire in me. No, worse,
much worse! When I think of that frightful man, my heart fairly
shrivels up. And yet--I can never get away from it. There's always a
terror, a horror in me; and yet there is always an eternal--an eternal
hunger. Yes--a restlessness--a search--the whole day long. It's
strongest toward twilight. Then I want to go out--out into the wide
world--to fly to unknown lands. Then I think to myself--out there, no
one knows you; out there, there is no sin. Ah, it's as if I were
lashed! And I heap such reproaches upon myself because of it! Even now
you have not heard the worst. I must tell you the worst, too. Well, you
know how I hate that man--yet, sometimes it seems to me that I must go
to him and say to him--Behold, here I am again!

                 Ebeling (_jumps up, muttering to himself_).

What has he done? The scoundrel! The blackguard!

                                Margot.

There! Now you know on whom you've wasted your sympathy! Now I can go.
(_Stands up, snatches her muff, and prepares to leave._)

                                Ebeling.

(_Who has been silently walking up and down more hotly._) It appears
then that you still love that man.

                Margot (_with a short, cutting laugh_).

Oh, Herr Ebeling, if you've gathered _that_ from all I've said, then I
might just as well have addressed myself to the four walls. I've been
hoping for three long years that you would secretly manage the thing in
such a way that I'd never have to see him again in all my life--never,
never--not even from a distance.

                                Ebeling.

Why did you never confide in me before? Why to-day for the first time?

                                Margot.

_Can_ one do such a thing? Is one ever allowed to? I'm a well-bred
young girl, you know. I must observe the conventions. How I came to do
it to-day, I don't know myself. But formerly when you were alone with
me, did you ever, at any time, give me to understand, even by a glance,
that you--you knew anything--about me? Do you think such an attitude
gives one courage? Ah, and in my need I've prayed so often, "Dear God,
let him see into my soul! If _he_ doesn't free me, no one will."
Instead, you've only plunged me the deeper--pushed me before
you--always deeper into misery--into the arms of that beast--into the
filth. (_Sinks into a chair, sobbing._)

                                Ebeling.

(_Regards her confusedly, then approaches her._) Dear child! That
wasn't my intention! (_Laying his hand on her shoulder caressingly._)
My dear, dear child!

                                Margot.

(_Grasps his hand, and presses her cheek to it. As he tries to free it,
she holds it the more closely._) Oh, don't leave me. I'm so lonely!

                                Ebeling.

My dear, dear child. (_He bends down to her and kisses her on the brow.
She throws her arms about his neck and draws herself close to him. He
kisses her lips. She lets her head fall heavily upon his shoulder and
remains motionless while he caresses her gently. With a sudden impulse
she flings him from her, and sinks back in the chair._) Margot, my
darling. Have I hurt you? Are you offended at what I did? If I've
misunderstood, if I have abused your confidence, I earnestly beg you to
forgive me.

                                Margot.

Oh, I've so hungered--so hungered--for this--kiss!

                Ebeling (_turning eagerly toward her_).

Margot!

                      Margot (_warding him off_).

No! Go away! Go away!

                                Ebeling.

But you don't refuse me? And I'm not too old?

            Margot (_passionately bursting into laughter_).

Oh!

                                Ebeling.

I was never free from the fear that you might not see anything in me
except an image of that wasted, old creature. (_Instead of answering_,
Margot _stretches out her arms to him with a soft cry of longing_.
Ebeling _draws the low stool to the writing-chair on which she is
sitting, sits down upon it, and embraces her._) Margot, my youth, my
whole youth that I've squandered and frittered away comes back to me
once more through you. And now all will be well with you, too. It was
only a nightmare. Your true self had nothing to do with it. Only--you
must take heart again--you must think of yourself now.

                        Margot (_ecstatically_).

Yes, I am equal to anything now. I am not afraid to face the worst.
I can even marry that man. I shall send him my acceptance quite
calmly.--Of course. Why not?

                          Ebeling (_shocked_).

What!

                                Margot.

Why should you be astonished at that? Now that I know you love me? Only
for a year! Perhaps for two! Yes, two! Oh, please, two! Then, later,
when you've left me, let others come! It's all the same, who! For
marriage, of course, I'm entirely spoiled! But I'll be revenged on him!
On him and on Virtue and on Loyalty and on all that stuff with which
they've so long tormented me. And the evening before my wedding--then
may I--come to you again? Toward twilight! It must be on a Sunday. I'll
arrange for that, so we can be alone. Ah, I shall count the days till
then! Why do you look at me like that? (Ebeling _stands up and throws
himself on the sofa, burying his face in his hands. A long pause._)
What can I have done? (_She stands up. Another pause._) Surely I
haven't done you any wrong by loving you?

                                Ebeling.

Go home now, my child.

                                Margot.

I wanted to leave some time ago, but you made me stay. (_She buttons
her coat, throws on her boa, and is about to go out. Then she turns
around resolutely, and places herself before him._) Oh, I know--I'm
disgraced--I'm not worthy of anything better--; but I needn't have had
to endure _such_ scorn and contempt! (Ebeling _rises, looks at her,
groans, buries his face in his hands, and falls back into the chair_.
Margot _kneels beside him, weeping._) Dear--dearest--what is it? What's
wrong, my darling?

             Ebeling (_compelling himself to be composed_).

Stand up! (_She does so._) I am going to tell you. (_Stands up
himself._) I asked your mother's consent to my marrying you to-day.
There, now you know it. Good-bye. (_Sits down in the writing-chair. A
pause._)

                                Margot.

(_Does not move. Her face becomes hard and bitter._) And now that you
see what sort I am----H'm, yes. Ah, well, you'll soon console yourself.
There are so many others. Why should it be just I? Let me suggest one
of my friends--a dear--a pretty girl--with white teeth. Why take it to
heart? It hurts for the moment--but one easily forgets. Such girls as I
deserve nothing better. To them--one does this! (_Plucks the petals
from the roses which are standing before her in the vase._) And then
one throws them away--like this! (_Throws the petals in his face._)

                 Ebeling (_brushing away the petals_).

What have the roses done to you, my child?

                                Margot.

I sent them to you. I, too, may destroy them.

                       Ebeling (_springing up_).

It was you, you who all these years----?

                                Margot.

Good evening, Herr Ebeling. (_She goes out._)

                                Ebeling.

(_Pauses for a moment irresolutely, struggling with himself, then
hurries after her. His voice is heard._) Stay here! Stay here! Come in
here! (_He reappears at the centre door, pulling her by the arm._) Come
in here! Come back!

                                Margot.

What do you want of me? I'll cry for help----

                                Ebeling.

Come here! (_Drags her to the writing-table._)

                                Margot.

Leave me alone!

                                Ebeling.

Be quiet! Be quiet! (_Picks up one of the pictures standing on the
table._) There! That woman dragged my name in the gutter. Will you do
the same? Answer me! (Margot _stands motionless, the tears running down
her cheeks._) Answer, I say.

                     Margot (_slowly and heavily_).

Ah, one thinks and says so much when there's no longer a particle of
hope in one's life.

                                Ebeling.

I understand. (_He throws the picture on the ground; frame and glass
are dashed to pieces._) Let us go to your parents. We'll arrange with
them what's best to be done. (_As she doesn't move._) Well? (Margot
_shakes her head._) You don't want to?

                                Margot.

Not that way! As I am now, humiliated--mortified--disgraced--no, not
that way! I am so tired of playing Magdalen! No! When I come, I'll come
with a free step. I'll be able to look every man in the face! But I
must find out first what I am still worth, and (_looking him full in
the face_) it must be a great, great deal--to be worthy of you.

                           Ebeling (_moved_).

Give me your hands, dear.

                          Margot (_doing so_).

When we see each other again, they'll be red and ugly. (Ebeling _kisses
her hands and presses them to his face._) Good-bye. (_She turns to
go._)


                                Curtain.



                                  III

                             THE LAST VISIT

                           A PLAY IN ONE ACT



                               CHARACTERS

                  The Unknown Lady.
                  Lieutenant Von Wolters.
                  Mulbridge, a horse-trainer.
                  His Wife.
                  Daisy, their daughter.
                  Kellermann.
                  Tempski, an orderly.
                  A Groom.


                            The Present Day.


            _The scene is laid in a large German garrison_.



                             THE LAST VISIT


                            Frau Mulbridge.

Well, now we have seen our poor, dear captain for the last time.

                               Mulbridge.

Yes. He was a good fellow, our captain and--awfully fond of horses.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Why, Daisy, what's the matter, dear? You've been standing here all
alone, and yet, until now, you wouldn't stir from the coffin.

                                 Daisy.

I saw him quite well from here, mother, dear.

                      Mulbridge (_caressing her_).

My girlie--my little girl. Yes--we all loved him.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

(_To_ Tempski, _who is sobbing._) There, there, Tempski, hush now. (_A
bell rings, right._) There's the bell; go and open the door. (Tempski
_goes out at the right._)

                      Mulbridge (_to the_ Groom).

And we'll be off to the stables!

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Sh! The Lieutenant!

                      Mulbridge (_to the Groom_).

Go on! (_Pushes the_ Groom _out, left._)

(Lieutenant von Wolters _enters. He is an attractive young officer,
very smart in appearance, wearing the uniform of an Uhlan_. Kellermann,
_a self-possessed, sharp-eyed man, follows him. While they are
entering_, Tempski _comes in at the right, quietly places a wreath on
one of the piles near the columns, and goes out again._)

                              v. Wolters.

Well, Herr-- (_He puts his hand to his eyes, overcome for the moment,
then stiffly, trying to conceal his emotion._) Herr--Kellermann was the
name, wasn't it?

                              Kellermann.

At your service, Lieutenant.

                              v. Wolters.

You have done everything very satisfactorily. I am much obliged to you.
You understand that the removal of the coffin to the church is to be
accomplished as secretly as possible.

                              Kellermann.

I'm silent as the grave, Lieutenant. My business sort of carries that
with it, don't you know.

                              v. Wolters.

It will be dark about half past five. I have ordered the troops that
are to accompany the casket to be here at half past six. At the
church--the catafalque and the rest--I can confidently leave all that
to you?

                              Kellermann.

Most assuredly, Lieutenant. I shall see that everything is of the
finest.

                              v. Wolters.

But remember your instructions: all superfluous ostentation is to be
rigorously avoided--to-morrow at the funeral procession, also.

                              Kellermann.

I understand, Lieutenant--because of the way he met his death.

                              v. Wolters.

The reason does not concern you. (_Turns to go._)

                               Mulbridge.
Beg pardon, Lieutenant, but may I speak to you? I've been in the
captain's service seven years. I've been in Germany nearly eighteen
years--have a German wife and daughter. I'm not as young as I used to
be. What's going to become of the horses and the racing-stable, and--
the rest?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes, it's really too bad about him, Lieutenant. He's so fond of his
horses. Why, if ever you want to speak to him, you have to go and stay
at the stable. That's the only way I can manage to see him.

                               Mulbridge.

And she's a great help to me, too, Lieutenant.

                              v. Wolters.

I can understand your anxiety, Mulbridge. The captain spoke about you
on our last journey together. He especially commended you and your
family to my care. But, of course, everything will depend upon the
heir.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

And who is the heir, Lieutenant?

                              v. Wolters.

No one knows. He had no relatives. But be assured that whoever it is, I
will do my best to----

                               Mulbridge.

Thank you, Lieutenant! Thank you! (_He says a few words aside to his
wife and goes out, left._)

                              v. Wolters.

Have you anything else to do here, Herr Kellermann?

                              Kellermann.

Yes, indeed, a great many things, Lieutenant. (_Goes out at the centre,
carrying several wreaths, and then returns for more_. Frau Mulbridge
_helps him._)

                              v. Wolters.

Oh, by the way, may I have a word with you, Daisy? (Daisy _comes
forward_, v. Wolters _continues aside to her._) My dear child, I know
that the captain had a great deal of confidence in you.

                                 Daisy.

Yes, he had.

                              v. Wolters.

Well then, listen. Some one wishes to come here before the casket is
removed some one who must not be seen.

                                 Daisy.

Very well. She may.

                         v. Wolters (_amazed_).

What----? She----?

                                 Daisy.

Why, it must be the lady.

                              v. Wolters.

What lady?

                                 Daisy.

The lady for whom he let himself be shot.

                              v. Wolters.

What! You know----?

                                 Daisy.

She had to come, of course. Who else should it be?

                              v. Wolters.

H'm! Well then, listen carefully. If the undertaker--or any other
stranger--should still be here when it begins to grow dark, throw on a
wrap and wait at the door downstairs until a carriage stops. Will you?

                                 Daisy.

Certainly I will. And Tempski?

                              v. Wolters.

Yes, Tempski, faithful as he is----

                                 Daisy.

Tempski was never around in those days.

             v. Wolters (_looking at her in astonishment_).

Oh--so Tempski--was never--around--in those days! H'm! Well then, I'll
undertake to get rid of Tempski myself. Thank you, my child. (_Gives
her his hand, then aloud._) I have another errand, but I'll be back
soon. (_Goes out at the right._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

What did the lieutenant want of you?

                                 Daisy.

Nothing in particular--something about the wreaths.

                Kellermann (_coming in from the back_).

Yes, with all those wreaths, we'll have to have an extra carriage for
the flowers. He was a fine man, he was--a highly respected man! And on
horseback! Why, I've won every time I bet on him! Ah, yes, but sooner
or later they all have to come to me!

                            Frau Mulbridge.

And he was such a kind master! He was just like a child sometimes--so
light-hearted and happy--like a little boy! Lately, to be sure,
he-- (_The bell rings._) Well, Daisy!

                                 Daisy.

(_Who has stood without moving, lost in thought._) I guess Tempski will
go.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes, yes, you're right. Tempski is outside.

                Tempski (_brings in a wreath, sobbing_).

F-from--our--major.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Why, Tempski, it's perfectly natural that the major----

                                Tempski.

From--our--major.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Take the wreath from him, Daisy.

                                 Daisy.

Yes, mother, dear. (_She does so_. Tempski _goes out, crying._)

                Kellermann (_reaching for the wreath_).

From his major that must go on the coffin!

                                 Daisy.

I'll do it.

                        Kellermann (_in doubt_).

Don't you think----?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes, let her; she looks after everything.

                              Kellermann.

But nail it tightly, little lady--else it'll fall off when they're
carrying him to the church.

                                 Daisy.

Yes, yes. (_Goes out back with the wreath. During the following
conversation, the strokes of a hammer are heard._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Everything is so well arranged here. I don't see why they've got to
take him to the church.

                              Kellermann.

The official statement is that it will prevent any demonstration in the
street. You know, the town folks haven't taken very kindly to this
murdering business of late. But, of course, that's not the real reason.
The truth of the matter is that several very influential ladies would
like to attend the funeral without being seen. H'm!--love never dies,
they say. Ah, the captain was no saint, I can tell you!

                            Frau Mulbridge.

What do you know about it?

                              Kellermann.

Oh, well, there's a lot of talk about the veiled figures that used to
go in and out of here at twilight. And if these mirrors could speak--!
That reminds me--I'd almost forgotten--we must cover the mirrors.
(Daisy _appears in front of the curtain. She is staring into space._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

But since the casket is to be taken away in less than an hour--what's
the use?

                              Kellermann.

That doesn't make any difference. The mirrors have got to be draped. It
would be a blemish on my art--and I wouldn't answer for it.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Daisy!

                                 Daisy.

Yes, mother, dear.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Go get a pair of lace curtains to hang over the mirrors.

                                 Daisy.

Yes, mother, dear. (_She does not stir._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Daisy! You're not listening.

                                 Daisy.

Yes I am, mother, dear. You asked me to-- (_Falters._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

I asked you to fetch a pair of lace curtains.

                                 Daisy.

Yes, mother, dear. (_Goes out, left._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Now that the child isn't here--tell me, Herr Kellermann, do you know
anything about the cause of the duel? We're all groping in the dark
here at the house.

                              Kellermann.

Well, they're saying all sorts of things. But the dead are my friends.
I never say anything against them. It's a business principle with me.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes--but the man who shot him, is he still walking around free as air?

                              Kellermann.

Yes, that's the way with these fine folks. They fall upon one another
like highwaymen. Your honour or your life! The man who survives can
laugh. The man who falls--well, he falls into my arms. But, see here,
getting into a duel with that fellow, that Baron Renoir--why it was
nothing short of suicide! I tell you, where that man goes, no grass
grows! On the turf, at the card-table, with the women--always the same
story. That man shot him down like a rabbit. Oh, of course, it's
always a fine thing to lay down your life for a woman. That's a phrase
that----

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Do you really think that a woman----?

                              Kellermann.

Sh! Here comes your little girl. (Daisy _enters with two vases, which
she is carrying very carefully._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

What's that you're bringing?

                                 Daisy.

I stopped and filled them first.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

But you were to get a pair of lace curtains!

                                 Daisy.

Oh, forgive me, mother, dear. I thought you said vases. I'll go (_Exit
with the vases._)

                            Frau Mulbridge.

I don't know what's come over the child! Why, she's been such a help
these days--thought of everything, wanted to do everything herself.

                              Kellermann.

A nice little girl--how old is she?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Seventeen, her last birthday.

                              Kellermann.

Is she at school?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

She's been going to the Art Institute. She wants to teach drawing.

                              Kellermann.

I suppose the captain thought a lot of her?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Oh, dear me, yes. She was always around him from the time that she was
a mere child. They used to play together out in the yard like two
little kittens! Of course, when she grew older, that sort of thing
stopped. But lately, when he seemed so worried, I----

                              Kellermann.

So he seemed worried, did he?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes, indeed. I've had my suspicions for the last two months. Well, when
he seemed so worried, I used to manage to send her in to him pretty
often. She read aloud to him--and so on. (Daisy _enters with a couple
of curtains, and a dark coat on her arm._)

                              Kellermann.

Thanks, thanks, little lady. (_Takes the curtains from her and stands
on a chair under one of the mirrors._) What lovely Venetian lace! Ah,
yes, every mirror comes to this sooner or later!

                                 Daisy.

I'd like to get a breath of fresh air, would you mind, mother, dear? I
feel so----

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes, yes, dear. Go out for a little while. (Daisy _puts on her coat._)

              Kellermann (_in front of the other mirror_).

Why, here's a little bunch of flowers!

                           Daisy (_eagerly_).

Oh, please, please, let me have it.

                  Kellermann (_blowing off the dust_).

If it doesn't fall to pieces. (_Hands it to her._) Ah, yes, many, many
loved him! He had a beautiful life, he had a beautiful death, and, as
for a beautiful funeral--just leave that to Kellermann! (_Takes his
hat._) I'll be back again for the procession. Good evening, ladies.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Good evening. (_To_ Daisy, _seeing her take off her coat._) I thought
you said you were going out?

                                 Daisy.

Oh, well, I've changed my mind now.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

I'm glad, because one feels so--so alone in here.

                   Daisy (_with a glance backward_).

But we are not alone yet.

                Frau Mulbridge (_shuddering slightly_).

That's just it.

                 Daisy (_staring straight before her_).

I'm not afraid.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Tell me something, Daisy, dear. Weren't you in there last night?

                           Daisy (_alarmed_).

Last night? I?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Yes, at the coffin.

                                 Daisy.

What should I be doing at the coffin?

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Well, I thought I heard some one go past the door.

                                 Daisy.

You must have been dreaming, mother, dear.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Very likely. I haven't been sleeping well these nights. See here,
Daisy, perhaps he's left us something--you, at least--tell me, haven't
you been thinking about that sometimes?

              Daisy (_apart, with a glance at the clock_).

If she doesn't come soon----!

                            Frau Mulbridge.

What's that you were saying? (_The bell rings_. Daisy _starts._) Why,
what's the matter with you? (v. Wolters _enters._)

                        v. Wolters (_calling_).

Tempski!

          Tempski (_at the threshold, in military attitude_).

Here, Lieutenant!

                              v. Wolters.

Hurry over to the garrison church and see if everything is ready.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Why, Kellermann will see----

                              v. Wolters.

And then go--or no--stay there until the casket arrives. Do you
understand?

                                Tempski.

At your command, Lieutenant. (_He goes out._)

                              v. Wolters.

That's attended to. And now, my dear Frau Mulbridge, there's something
that I want to confide to you. A visitor is coming here presently--a
lady. (Frau Mulbridge _glances anxiously at_ Daisy, _who nods._) She is
not to be seen by any one--except Daisy. Daisy, it appears, used to
open the door for her sometimes in former days.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Daisy--? What does this mean?

                                 Daisy.

Oh, Tempski might have gossiped, you know.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

And so he let _you_ open the door?

                                 Daisy.

I never gossip, mother.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

I'm finding things out now! Why did I never hear of this before?

                                 Daisy.

Oh, you were always in the stables with father in the evening.

                            Frau Mulbridge.

And there I was trying to keep this child from any knowledge of the
things that went on in here--and he----

                              v. Wolters.

We've no time for that now, Frau Mulbridge. Daisy, you will watch
outside, won't you?

                     Frau Mulbridge (_protesting_).

Oh, that's too----

                           Daisy (_firmly_).

Yes, I'll watch. (_The bell rings softly._) Should I----? (v. Wolters
_nods._)

                  Frau Mulbridge (_calling her back_).

Daisy! (Daisy _goes out without noticing her mother._)

                              v. Wolters.

May I ask, Frau Mulbridge, that you----

                            Frau Mulbridge.

Very well. We have served him faithfully, and I'll not start making any
trouble now at the end. (_Exit, left_. v. Wolters _goes to the door at
the right, listens, and then opens it cautiously_. The Unknown Lady
_enters. She is heavily veiled, dressed entirely in black, and carries
a spray of white roses. As she enters, she staggers slightly and leans
against the writing-table for support._)

             v. Wolters (_who has softly locked the door_).

May I show you the way, Countess? (The Lady _shakes her head and
motions questioningly toward the back_. v. Wolters _nods, and she goes
out through the curtained doorway. After a short pause_, v. Wolters
_opens the door at the right._)

                        v. Wolters (_calling_).

Daisy! (Daisy _appears at the threshold._) Kindly see that no one
enters the house while this lady is here--no one, do you understand?

                                 Daisy.

Oh, yes, I understand very well.

                              v. Wolters.

It may be that she has something else to say to me. If the men should
come for the casket before she has left, take them around the other
way. Keep the main entrance clear.

                                 Daisy.

No, that wouldn't be safe.

                              v. Wolters.

Well, what shall we do?

                      Daisy (_breathing heavily_).

I'll--think of something.

                              v. Wolters.

His death grieves you, too, dear child?

                                 Daisy.

Me? Oh, yes--me too. (_She goes out_. v. Wolters _walks to and fro,
pauses to listen in front of the curtain, turns on the electric lamp,
again walks to and fro, etc. At a slight movement of the curtain, he
stops, expectant_. The Lady, _still veiled, comes forward slowly until
she has reached one of the chairs on the left. A pause._)

                               The Lady.

Ah, Herr von Wolters--to let them close the coffin before I--I had seen
him--I must confess, I had not expected that of you, Herr von Wolters.

                              v. Wolters.

I didn't dare prevent it, Countess--just because of your coming. It was
the only way to have the house to ourselves.

                               The Lady.

Don't call me countess, Herr von Wolters. I am not a countess here.
(_Glancing toward the door._) I am only an unhappy woman whom no one in
this house knows, whom no one is to know.

                              v. Wolters.

Wouldn't you care to rest for a moment?

                               The Lady.

Are we quite safe here?

                              v. Wolters.

Quite. The little girl who, you say, is not unknown to you, is outside
at the entrance. I have told her mother of your visit and she will not
enter the house. If you wish, however, we can lock the door.

                               The Lady.

Yes, do. Or, no, perhaps it would be better not to--in case any one----

                              v. Wolters.

Very well.

                               The Lady.

(_Throws back her veil, revealing a very beautiful face, which is
deathly pale and wears an expression of the deepest affliction. She
sinks into the chair. A pause._) I wanted to lay my roses on his
breast. Ah, Herr von Wolters, I loved that man with an infinite love.
Perhaps grief will give my life a new and holier meaning--who knows? We
seek beauty--and find grief. Tell me, Herr von Wolters, you were his
best friend, did you never suspect----?

                              v. Wolters.

Never, never.

                               The Lady.

And when you received my letter early this morning asking you to come
at once--not even then?

                              v. Wolters.

I could draw--various conclusions--from that.

                               The Lady.

For instance----?

                              v. Wolters.

Oh, please--really, you must excuse me----

                               The Lady.

No, Herr von Wolters. We are here--but why don't you sit down? (_He
does so._) We are here together, you and I, to hold the last rites over
our sainted dead. His friend and his beloved who else has any right to
be here? Herr von Wolters, I have given you my full confidence--I have
made a strange confession to you. You will not betray me?

                              v. Wolters.

Ah!

                               The Lady.

And so, in this sacred hour, there must be no concealment between us.
Answer me now. What does the world say?

                      v. Wolters (_embarrassed_).

The world says so many things, Countess.

                               The Lady.

Tell me, to what extent has my name been associated with this affair?

                              v. Wolters.

I can't conceal the fact from you, Countess. Your name is mentioned.

                       The Lady (_thoughtfully_).

Yes, that's what my husband says.

                              v. Wolters.

But please let me add that not a shadow, not the slightest suspicion,
has ever----

                               The Lady.

But what else can they think?

                              v. Wolters.

My dear Countess, when a woman is as beauti-- I mean, that when a woman
is the centre of so much interest, it's not surprising that some notice
was taken of the attentions which he--

                   The Lady (_somewhat impatiently_).

Yes--but----?

                              v. Wolters.

It naturally was observed that my friend----

                               The Lady.

Our friend had a--what shall I say--a susceptible heart. We knew that,
who knew him so well. This was not the first time he had--been
interested in a woman. And that was why I arranged to have him seen in
our house as little as possible--lately, not at all.

                              v. Wolters.

That fact did not escape notice, Countess. And as Baron Renoir was
frequently seen with you--instead of----

                     The Lady (_somewhat excited_).

Don't mention that name, Herr von Wolters! I can't stand it! What could
have possessed that man Renoir--? But do tell me the rest. I've heard
only the merest details. They've only told me what they thought
necessary.

                              v. Wolters.

No one knows what actually occurred between the two men. He begged me
to ask no questions. You know, he was so reserved of late. It may
be that certain expressions which passed between them a few days
ago--after they had been drinking--had something to do with it--no one
knows. Perhaps there was some insult which was given in private--and
which neither of them would make public. The assurance that the injury,
whatever it may have been, was irreparable, must satisfy us.

                               The Lady.

Oh, how I hate that man Renoir!--quite apart from the trouble which he
has gotten me into! My husband warned me against him long ago. "That
scoundrel will compromise you some day," he said, "and then I'll have
to fight a duel with him." Instead--this! Oh, you poor, poor darling!
And now, when all was so quiet and peaceful between us!

                              v. Wolters.

My dear Countess, if you think that the change which came over him in
the last few months betokened peace and quiet----

                        The Lady (_nervously_).

I don't know anything about that! It wasn't my fault! Was I to blame if
he insisted on having notions? Tell me one thing, Herr von Wolters, did
he die easily?

                              v. Wolters.

No one dies easily, Countess.

                               The Lady.

Was he still living when they reached the house?

                              v. Wolters.

No, he died on the field.

                               The Lady.

Do you know my first name, Herr von Wolters?

                              v. Wolters.

Certainly.

                        The Lady (_hesitating_).

Did he--by any chance--speak--that name?

                              v. Wolters.

That would have betrayed his secret, Countess.

                               The Lady.

I only meant--at the very last--when he was no longer--conscious.

                              v. Wolters.

No, Countess. But--pardon me, I don't want to be indelicate--but did he
ever call you by some little--little term of endearment--some--
(_Stops, embarrassed._)

                               The Lady.

Why do you ask?

                              v. Wolters.

At the very end, he kept murmuring something that sounded like
"Girlie"--or----

                       The Lady (_indignantly_).

My dear Herr von Wolters, our intimacy was of a different sort.

                              v. Wolters.

Pardon me, Countess, but you yourself asked. (_She nods. A short
pause._)

                               The Lady.

Good heavens--these curtains over the mirrors! They make me feel as if
I were looking a blind man in the eyes!

                              v. Wolters.

Would you like to have me remove them?

                               The Lady.

No, no. Never mind. I want to ask you something, Herr von Wolters. Tell
me, what do you think of me?

                        v. Wolters (_confused_).

What do you mean, Countess?

                               The Lady.

I want to know what I have done that I should be doomed to bring so
much sorrow into the lives of others. I had only just left school when
a strange young man shot himself under my window. It was on my account
that my husband was transferred here from his former garrison. Tell me,
what mark of Cain do I bear that all men follow me? I dress as simply
as I can. I never go out without a double veil. Sometimes I have
actually been tempted to throw vitriol in my face!

                        v. Wolters (_candidly_).

Oh, that would have been a shame, Countess!

                         The Lady (_severely_).

Herr von Wolters!

                              v. Wolters.

Yes, Countess, to mar that image of divinity would be a sin--and I do
not hesitate to repeat it beside the coffin of my friend.

                               The Lady.

Don't! (_Reaches him her hand, which he kisses respectfully._) Dear me,
how strange it seems! Yesterday we scarcely knew one another--those few
visits at my house don't count. To-day--this short conversation--and
here we are, sitting side by side, the guardians of a secret which will
be buried forever with him. It will, Herr von Wolters?

                              v. Wolters.

Ah, my dear Countess, please do not offend me.

                               The Lady.

Very well, I shall not worry. Did you love him very dearly?

                              v. Wolters.

I thought a great deal of him, Countess. He took care of me when I was
a young fellow quite alone in the world. He was so-- Really, I don't
know how I shall-- (_breaking down._)

                               The Lady.

Courage, dear friend! We must both try to be brave.

                         v. Wolters (_firmly_).

Thank you, Countess. You will not have to reprove me again.

                               The Lady.

You evaded my question before. Do you consider me very guilty, Herr von
Wolters?

                              v. Wolters.

He loved you, Countess. That makes you holy in my eyes.

                               The Lady.

I thank you for that word--little as I deserve it. It has never been my
way to undervalue myself. But your opinion meant so much to me----

                        v. Wolters (_puzzled_).

What difference could my humble opinion----

                               The Lady.

Don't say that, my dear friend. There are few people--perhaps not even
my own husband--who have ever seen me as you see me at this moment--so
weak, so helpless, so--I had almost said--unguarded. Remember that--and
spare me.

                              v. Wolters.

I hope that I have not been inconsiderate, Countess.

                               The Lady.

(_Putting her hand to her brow, stammering._) No, no, no; it's--it's
grieving for him that makes me lose my wits. The world had so long set
me on a pedestal that I thought I belonged there. Now I feel as if I
were torn down. Now I lie there-- Herr von Wolters, pay no attention to
me!

                              v. Wolters.

If I could only help you, Countess!

                   The Lady (_smiling sorrowfully_).

Help me--you? And yet, why not? His friend and his beloved! It is we,
you and I, who are paying the last honours to the dead. Who could know
his worth better than we? Whose grief could be more eloquent than ours?
No, no, no--I must not talk. Ah, I see him before me now with his
bright, careless smile--his conqueror's smile! I suppose you never were
courted by women as he was?

                              v. Wolters.

My dear Countess, I lead a fairly quiet, uneventful life.

                               The Lady.

But you're not--you're not a Puritan, are you?

                              v. Wolters.

I must let others judge of that, Countess.

                               The Lady.

Oh! I should like to cry out my sorrow to the whole world--say to them
all, "You sordid souls, you couldn't know how much I loved him! What do
I care if you damn me, if you----" (_The bell rings. She starts._)
There's the bell!

                      v. Wolters (_reassuringly_).

Probably just a wreath.

                               The Lady.

And if it's not--a----?

                              v. Wolters.

Why, Daisy is outside. But to make sure-- (_Listens at the door, then
opens it cautiously._) Daisy! (The Lady _drops her veil_. Daisy
_appears at the threshold._)

                                 Daisy.

What is it, Herr von Wolters?

                              v. Wolters.

Who rang?

                                 Daisy.

It was a wreath.

                      v. Wolters (_to_ The Lady).

Just as I supposed.

                               The Lady (_to_ Daisy).

Come here, dear. (Daisy _comes forward._) You used to open the door for
me, didn't you?

                                 Daisy.

Yes.

                               The Lady.

But you don't know who I am?

                                 Daisy.

No.

                               The Lady.

You'll not try to find out?

                                 Daisy.

Oh, no.

                               The Lady.

Was he fond of you?

                                 Daisy.

Oh, yes.

                               The Lady.

And have you been crying since he died?

                                 Daisy.

No.

                               The Lady.

You're a pretty little girl.

                            Daisy (_going_).

Has my lady any more questions?

                               The Lady.

(_Taking out a gold purse, to_ v. Wolters.) Do you think one might give
her anything? (v. Wolters _shakes his head._) Thank you, dear. We shall
see each other again. (_As_ Daisy _lingers._) What is it?

                                 Daisy.

Very well--since I shall see my lady again. (_Goes out._)

                               The Lady.

It did seem though, as if she were waiting for something.

                              v. Wolters.

If you will pardon me for the suggestion, it was surely not--not for
money.

                               The Lady.

By the way, this incident reminds me of something I was just about
to-- Herr von Wolters, are you my friend?

                              v. Wolters.

If you consider me worthy of that distinction, Countess.

                               The Lady.

Most assuredly. Well, Herr von Wolters, there is something that
troubles me--something that desecrates my grief, if I may use the
word. There's the anxiety--the fear that-- Yes, yes--I must tell you
all. Herr von Wolters, he has my letters. Do you understand? (_He
nods._) Didn't he give you something for me--a small, sealed package,
perhaps--nothing?

                              v. Wolters.

You are forgetting, Countess, that I was ignorant of all this until a
short time ago.

                               The Lady.

Yes, that's true. H'm--it's really too bad. Who has the keys?

                              v. Wolters.

Why, he gave them to me just before the duel. I have them with me.

                               The Lady.

You've looked through the writing-table?

                              v. Wolters.

Yes, I had to hand over his papers to the legal authorities. I didn't
consider myself entitled to touch his private correspondence at
present.

                               The Lady.

Why not?

                              v. Wolters.

He made a will the day before the duel.

                               The Lady.

Really? In whose favor?

                              v. Wolters.

I don't know.

                               The Lady.

What! Didn't he make any allusion--nothing----?

                              v. Wolters.

The only thing he said was that he had named me as executor.

                               The Lady.

But he had no relatives. Who is to inherit his large fortune?

                              v. Wolters.

As I've said, I don't know. However, he made a remark that I didn't
quite understand, and that I--pardon me--would rather not repeat, if
you don't mind.

                               The Lady.

Oh, please!

                              v. Wolters.

It might give you pain, Countess.

                          The Lady (_sadly_).

Nothing can give me pain after _this_.

                              v. Wolters.

Well, he said with a decided emphasis--though perhaps he did not intend
that I should notice it--he said, "The one who loved me best shall be
my heir."

                               The Lady.

What! He said that? Who could have loved him best if not I?
(_Terrified._) For God's sake, Herr von Wolters!

                              v. Wolters.

Don't be alarmed, Countess. That would be too grotesque.

                               The Lady.

Perhaps this is his revenge.

                              v. Wolters.

Revenge? On you? What for?

                               The Lady.

No, no--I'm quite out of my senses, I-- But, as you have the keys, you
won't mind doing me this slight favour.

                              v. Wolters.

What favour, Countess?

                               The Lady.

Search for the letters with me--now. It seems to me your duty, not only
as a friend but as a gentleman.

                              v. Wolters.

Pardon me, my dear Countess, you were certainly his last--perhaps his
only great love. But his life was varied--and if we were to open his
desk now--I really don't know what we might find there.

                               The Lady.

You mean there would be letters from other----?

                              v. Wolters.

I must say no more.

                               The Lady.

Well, I'll shut my eyes. I'll only look for my own handwriting.

                              v. Wolters.

The will is to be opened in a few days, Countess. He has doubtless
inserted a clause authorising me as executor to return certain papers
to their owners--or destroy them.

                               The Lady.

Ah, I see you're a Puritan, after all.--No, no, I'll not trouble your
conscience. This loyalty which you bear him to the very grave is
so beautiful, so poetical, and I feel so near to you because of
it--(_Putting her hand over her eyes._) Oh, those curtains in front of
the mirrors! They make me feel as if I were dead myself, (v. Wolters
_is about to tear them down._) No, no--don't. Thanks. Tell me, how long
will it be before the will is opened?

                              v. Wolters.

Unfortunately, the day is not yet appointed.

                               The Lady.

I shall not sleep a moment until then. Not even my love, my grief, can
outweigh this terrible fear. My honour, my future, my life--everything
is at stake!

                         v. Wolters (_amazed_).

Countess!

                               The Lady.

Please stop calling me Countess.

                              v. Wolters.

Forgive me. What should I----?

                               The Lady.

Call me your friend. I want to be that. From this day you become closer
to me than any other being in all the world. Are you not the legacy, as
it were, that our dear dead has left me?--Ah, you and I must become
like brother and sister, two beings who have--nothing--to conceal from
one another. Herr von Wolters, will you be my guide, my confidant--my
friend?

                              v. Wolters.

Countess! My dear, dear Countess!

                          The Lady (_softly_).

But you're not to----

                              v. Wolters.

Forgive me. Your kindness to me makes me feel so--confused--I----

                               The Lady.

Why should it? I feel certain that if he could see us at this moment,
he himself would join our hands together.

                              v. Wolters.

Countess, if you ever need a man who would let himself be torn to
pieces for you----

                               The Lady.

No, not that. I only want you to take this great weight from my soul.

                              v. Wolters.

Ah, Countess, I am a man of my word.

                               The Lady.

And that's what you call being torn to pieces for me?

                       v. Wolters (_trembling_).

Whether I can answer for this to him and to my own conscience--whether
I can ever again think of him--without shame--will depend upon what we
shall find in there.

                               The Lady.

But you will open it? (_A pause._) Herr von Wolters, you'll not let me
die of fear and distraction?

                              v. Wolters.

I'll open it.

                The Lady (_laying her hand on his arm_).

Thanks, thanks! Ah, you are good----

                   v. Wolters (_taking out the key_).

Don't thank me. I feel as if he could hear it in there.

                 The Lady (_shuddering involuntarily_).

No--no! (v. Wolters _turns the key in the keyhole unavailingly._) Won't
it work?--Heavens, why your hand is trembling. Let me have it.

           v. Wolters (_with a last attempt at resistance_).

The keys were entrusted to _me_, Countess.

                        The Lady (_coaxingly_).

Oh, do let me have it. (_Sits at the writing-table and opens the
drawer. With a low cry of surprise._) Empty!

                    v. Wolters (_bending over her_).

Empty?

                               The Lady.

Are you sure that this was----?

                              v. Wolters.

Yes, that was the drawer in which he kept his private papers. I'm sure
of it.

                  The Lady (_staring straight ahead_).

Well, how can you explain----?

                              v. Wolters.

Perhaps he burned everything.

                  The Lady (_springing to her feet_).

And perhaps not!--Who knows?--This is the way he played with the honour
of the woman who gave him all! This is my thanks! This is the action of
a gentleman!

                              v. Wolters.

No gentleman, Countess, can do more than let himself be shot for a
woman.

                               The Lady.

Who asked him to do it? Was it my fault if jealousy of Renoir drove him
mad? And perhaps this is really his revenge! Perhaps we'll live to see
even more interesting disclosures!--This is my reward! This-- (Daisy
_appears at the door in the centre._) What do you want?

                                 Daisy.

I beg your pardon. My lady is looking for--letters?

                               The Lady.

So you've been in there eavesdropping, have you?

                                 Daisy.

I brought in a wreath.

                               The Lady.

Well, what do you know about my letters?

                                 Daisy.

Here they are. (_Takes a small package of letters from her dress and
hands it to_ The Lady.) I intended to give them to you _secretly_ when
you left.

                               The Lady.

(_Snatches the letters from her hand and looks at them._) How do you
happen to have these letters?

                         Daisy (_wonderingly_).

Why, how should I happen to have them? He gave them to me.

                               The Lady.

To you? Who are you? Why to you?

                                 Daisy.

Because he knew that I would do exactly what he told me to do.

                      The Lady (_to_ v. Wolters).

Can you understand this?

                         v. Wolters (_gently_).

What did he tell you to do, Daisy?

                                 Daisy.

He said to me, "These letters belong to the lady who used to come to
see me sometimes. No one is to know about her--not even Herr von
Wolters.--When I am dead, the lady will----

                              v. Wolters.

Did he say that?

                                 Daisy.

Yes. "When I am dead, the lady will probably come here again. If she
does, give her these letters. If she doesn't, then burn them with the
others."

                              v. Wolters.

What others?

                                 Daisy.

Those over there in the stove.

                  The Lady (_examining the letters_).

Look at this! Unsealed! Unwrapped!

                           Daisy (_smiling_).

He knew that I wouldn't read them.

                               The Lady.

I suppose from now on I shall be at _your_ mercy!

                                 Daisy.

I don't know you, my lady. And even if I did, you need have no fear.

                      The Lady (_to_ v. Wolters).

Isn't she kind!

                     Daisy (_always respectfully_).

But I should like to ask you a favour, my lady.

                               The Lady.

By all means. What could I deny you, my dear?

                                 Daisy.

(_Goes into the room behind and returns with the flowers that_ The Lady
_had brought._) Oh please, please take these roses--away--with you.

                               The Lady.

What does this mean?

                         Daisy (_imploringly_).

Oh, please take them!

                               The Lady.

What right have you to make such a shameless request of me?

                                 Daisy.

I heard--forgive me, I didn't want to--I heard the way you spoke about
him before. And it seems to me that your flowers no longer belong upon
his coffin.

                               The Lady.

What do you say to that, Herr von Wolters? This person acts as if she
were the mistress of the house!

                           Daisy (_proudly_).

I am.

                               The Lady.

(_Stares at her through her lorgnette and smiles._) Oh, really!

                 Daisy (_her bearing pure and proud_).

The night before he died I became--his wife. (_A long pause._)

                               The Lady.

I hope you'll come and take tea with me in the near future, Herr von
Wolters.

                              v. Wolters.

Pray, excuse me, but official duties will make it impossible for me
to----

                               The Lady.

(_Taken aback, but quickly recovering herself._) Thank you just the
same. (_A loud ring._)

                Daisy (_starts and looks at the clock_).

There are the troops already.--Would you be so kind, Herr von
Wolters--? Please let no one come in here. (v. Wolters _bows and
hurries out at the right._) May I take you out the back way, my lady?
No one will see you--or at least, only my mother. (_As the heavy steps
of the soldiers are heard, to herself, in suppressed agony._) And
meanwhile--they will--take the coffin--away! (_Regaining possession of
herself._) But wouldn't it be better to drop your veil? (The Lady _does
so._) And your roses--do take them! (The Lady _snatches the roses from
her hand._) This way, please. (_She opens the door at the left and goes
out slowly behind_ The Lady, _her eyes turned longingly toward the room
behind._)


                                Curtain.



                                   IV

                         THE FAR-AWAY PRINCESS

                          A COMEDY IN ONE ACT



                               CHARACTERS


      The Princess von Geldern.
      Baroness von Brook, her maid of honour.
      Frau von Halldorf.
      Liddy      \
                  > her daughters
      Milly      /
      Fritz Strübel, a student.
      Frau Lindemann.
      Rosa, a waitress.
      A Lackey.


                            The Present Day.


_The scene is laid at an inn situated above a watering-place in central
Germany._



                         THE FAR-AWAY PRINCESS


_The veranda of an inn. The right side of the stage and half of the
background represent a framework of glass enclosing the veranda. The
left side and the other half of the background represent the stone
walls of the house. To the left, in the foreground, a door; another
door in the background, at the left. On the left, back, a buffet and
serving-table. Neat little tables and small iron chairs for visitors
are placed about the veranda. On the right, in the centre, a large
telescope, standing on a tripod, is directed through an open window_.
Rosa, _dressed in the costume of the country, is arranging flowers on
the small tables_. Frau Lindemann, _a handsome, stoutish woman in the
thirties, hurries in excitedly from the left_.


                            Frau Lindemann.

There! Now she can come--curtains, bedding--everything fresh and clean
as new! No, this honour, this unexpected honour--! Barons and counts
have been here often enough. Even the Russian princes sometimes come
up from the Springs. I don't bother my head about them--they're just
like--that!--But a princess--a real princess!

                                 Rosa.

Perhaps it isn't a real princess after all.

                    Frau Lindemann (_indignantly_).

What? What do you mean by that!

                                 Rosa.

I was only thinking that a real princess wouldn't be coming to an inn
like this. Real princesses won't lie on anything but silks and velvets.
You just wait and see; it's a trick!

                            Frau Lindemann.

Are you going to pretend that the letter isn't genuine;--that the
letter is a forgery?

                                 Rosa.

Maybe one of the regular customers is playing a joke. That student,
Herr Strübel, he's always joking. (_Giggles._)

                            Frau Lindemann.

When Herr Strübel makes a joke, he makes a decent joke, a real, genuine
joke. Oh, of course one has to pretend to be angry sometimes--but as
for writing a forged letter--My land!--a letter with a gold crown on
it--there! (_She takes a letter from her waist, and reads._) "This
afternoon, Her Highness, the Princess von Geldern, will stop at the
Fairview Inn, to rest an hour or so before making the descent to the
Springs. You are requested to have ready a quiet and comfortable room,
to guard Her Highness from any annoying advances, and, above all, to
maintain the strictest secrecy regarding this event, as otherwise the
royal visit will not be repeated. Baroness von Brook, maid of honour to
Her Highness." Now, what have you got to say?

                                 Rosa.

Herr Strübel lent me a book once. A maid of honour came into that, too.
I'm sure it's a trick!

            Frau Lindemann (_looking out toward the back_).

Dear, dear, isn't that Herr Strübel now, coming up the hill? To-day of
all days! What on earth does he always want up here?

                          Rosa (_pointedly_).

He's in such favour at the Inn.--He won't be leaving here all day.

                            Frau Lindemann.

That won't do at all. He's got to be sent off. If I only knew how I
could--Oh, ho! I'll be disagreeable to him--that's the only way to
manage it!

(Strübel _enters. He is a handsome young fellow without much polish,
but cheerful, unaffected, entirely at his ease, and invariably
good-natured._)

                                Strübel.

Good day, everybody.

                   Frau Lindemann (_sarcastically_).

Charming day.

                 Strübel (_surprised at her coolness_).

I say! What's up? Who's been rubbing you the wrong way? May I have a
glass of beer any way? Glass of beer, if you please!--Several glasses
of beer, if you please.--(_Sits down._) Pestiferously hot this
afternoon.

                   Frau Lindemann (_after a pause_).

H'm, H'm!

                                Strübel.

Landlady Linda, dear, why so quiet to-day?

                            Frau Lindemann.

In the first place, Herr Strübel, I would have you know that my name is
Frau Lindemann.

                                Strübel.

Just so.

                            Frau Lindemann.

And secondly, if you don't stop your familiarity----

                                Strübel.

(_Singing, as_ Rosa _brings him a glass of beer._)
"Beer--beer!"--Heavens and earth, how hot it is! (_Drinks._)

                            Frau Lindemann.

If you find it so hot, why don't you stay quietly down there at the
Springs?

                                Strübel.

Ah, my soul thirsts for the heights--my soul thirsts for the heights
every afternoon. Just as soon as ever my sallow-faced pupil has thrown
himself down on the couch to give his red corpuscles a chance to grow,
"I gayly grasp my Alpine staff and mount to my beloved."

                     Frau Lindemann (_scornfully_).

Bah!

                                Strübel.

Oh, you're thinking that _you_ are my beloved? No, dearest: my beloved
stays down there. But to get nearer to her, I have to come up here--up
to your telescope. With the aid of your telescope I can look right into
her window--see?

                           Rosa (_laughing_).

Oh, so that's why----

                            Frau Lindemann.

Perhaps you think I'm interested in all that?--Besides, I've no more
time for you.--Moreover, I'm going to have this place cleaned right
away. Good-bye, Herr Strübel. (_Goes out._)

                         Strübel (_laughing_).

I certainly caught it that time! See here, Rosa, what's got into her
head?

                         Rosa (_mysteriously_).

Ahem, there are crowned heads and other heads--and--ahem--there are
letters _with_ crowns and letters _without_ crowns.

                                Strübel.

Letters--? Are you----?

                                 Rosa.

There are maids of honour--and other maids! (_Giggles._)

                                Strübel.

Permit me. (_Tapping her forehead lightly with his finger._) Ow! Ow!

                                 Rosa.

What's the matter?

                                Strübel.

Why, your head's on fire! Blow! Blow! And while you are getting some
salve for my burns, I'll just-- (_Goes to the telescope._)

(_Enter_ Frau Von Halldorf, Liddy, _and_ Milly. Frau Von Halldorf _is
an aristocratic woman, somewhat supercilious and affected._)

                                 Liddy.

Here's the telescope, mother. Now you can see for yourself.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

What a pity that it's in use just now.

                       Strübel (_stepping back_).

Oh, I beg of you, ladies--I have plenty of time. I can wait.

                 Frau v. Halldorf (_condescendingly_).

Ah, thanks so much. (_She goes up to the telescope, while Strübel
returns to his former place._) Waitress! Bring us three glasses of
milk.

           Liddy (_as_ Milly _languidly drops into a chair_).

Beyond to the right is the road, mother.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Oh, I have found the road, but I see no carriage--neither a royal
carriage nor any other sort.

                                 Liddy.

Let me look.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Please do.

                                 Liddy.

It has disappeared now.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Are you quite sure that it was a royal carriage?

                                 Liddy.

Oh, one has an instinct for that sort of thing, mother. It comes to one
in the cradle.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

(_As_ Milly _yawns and sighs aloud._) Are you sleepy, dear?

                                 Milly.

No, only tired. I'm always tired.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Well, that's just why we are at the Springs. Do as the princess does:
take the waters religiously.

                                 Milly.

The princess oughtn't to be climbing up such a steep hill either on a
hot day like this.

                   Frau v. Halldorf (_more softly_).

Well, you know why we are taking all this trouble. If, by good luck, we
should happen to meet the princess----

                                 Liddy.

(_Who has been looking through the telescope._) Oh, there it is again!

                     Frau v. Halldorf (_eagerly_).

Where? Where? (_Takes_ Liddy's _place._)

                                 Liddy.

It's just coming around the turn at the top.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Oh, now I see it! Why, there's no one inside!

                                 Liddy.

Well, then she's coming up on foot.

                     Frau v. Halldorf (_to_ Milly).

See, the princess is coming up on foot, too. And she is just as anæmic
as you are.

                                 Milly.

If I were going to marry a grand-duke, and if I could have my own
carriage driven along beside me, I wouldn't complain of having to walk
either.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

I can't see a thing now.

                                 Liddy.

You have to turn the screw, mother.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

I have been turning it right along, but the telescope won't move.

                                 Liddy.

Let me try.

                                Strübel.

(_Who has been throwing little wads of paper at_ Rosa _during the
preceding conversation._) What are they up to?

                                 Liddy.

It seems to me that you've turned the screw too far, mother.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Well, what shall we do about it?

                          Strübel (_rising_).

Permit me to come to your aid, ladies. I've had some experience with
these old screws.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Very kind indeed. (Strübel _busies himself with the instrument._)

                                 Liddy.

Listen, mother. If the carriage has almost reached the top the princess
can't be far off. Wouldn't it be best, then, to watch for them on the
road?

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Certainly, if you think that would be best, dear Liddy.

                                Strübel.

This is not only an old screw, but it's a regular perverted old screw!

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

Ah, really?--(_Aside to her daughters._) And if she should actually
speak to us at this accidental meeting--and if we could present
ourselves as the subjects of her noble fiancé, and tell her that we
live at her future home--just imagine what an advantage that would give
us over the other women of the court!

                                Strübel.

There, ladies! We have now rescued the useful instrument to which the
far-sightedness of mankind is indebted.

                           Frau V. Halldorf.

Thanks, so much.--Pardon me, sir, but have you heard anything about the
report that the princess is going to make the journey up here to-day?

                                Strübel.

The princess? The Princess of the Springs? The Princess of the lonely
villa? The Princess who is expected at the iron spring every morning,
but who has never been seen by a living soul? Why, I am enormously
interested. You wouldn't believe how much interested I am!

                  Liddy (_who has looked out, back_).

There--there--there--it is!

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

The carriage?

                                 Liddy.

It's reached the top already. It is stopping over there at the edge of
the woods.

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

She will surely enter it there, then. Come quickly, my dear children,
so that it will look quite accidental.--Here is your money. (_She
throws a coin to_ Rosa _and unwraps a small package done up in tissue
paper which she has brought with her._) Here is a bouquet for you and
here's one for you. You are to present these to the princess.

                                 Milly.

So that it will look quite accidental--oh, yes! (_All three go out._)

                                Strübel.

Good heavens! Could I--? I don't believe it! Surely she sits--Well,
I'll make sure right away-- (_Goes up to the telescope and stops._) Oh,
I'll go along with them, anyhow. (_Exit after them._)

                      Frau Lindemann (_entering_).

Have they all gone--all of them?

                                 Rosa.

All of them.

              Frau Lindemann (_looking toward the right_).

There--there--two ladies and a lackey are coming up the footpath. Mercy
me! How my heart is beating!--If I had only had the sofa re-covered
last spring!--What am I going to say to them?--Rosa, don't you know a
poem by heart which you could speak to the princess? (Rosa _shrugs her
shoulders._) They're coming through the court now!--Stop putting your
arms under your apron that way, you stupid thing!--oh dear, oh dear----

(_The door opens_. A Lackey _in plain black livery enters, and remains
standing at the door. He precedes_ The Princess _and_ Frau Von Brook.
The Princess _is a pale, sickly, unassuming young girl, wearing a very
simple walking costume and a medium-sized leghorn hat trimmed with
roses_. Frau Von Brook _is a handsome, stately, stern-looking woman, in
the thirties. She is well dressed, but in accordance with the simple
tastes of the North German nobility._)

                             Frau v. Brook.

Who is the proprietor of this place?

                            Frau Lindemann.

At your command, your Highness.

                     Frau v. Brook (_reprovingly_).

I am the maid of honour.--Where is the room that has been ordered?

                Frau Lindemann (_opens the door, left_).

Here--at the head of the stairs--my lady.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Would your Highness care to remain here for a few moments?

                             The Princess.

Very much, dear Frau von Brook.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Edward, order what is needed for Her Highness and see that a room next
to Her Highness is prepared for me. I may assume that these are your
Highness's wishes?

                             The Princess.

Why certainly, dear Frau von Brook. (The Lackey, _who is carrying
shawls and pillows, goes out with_ Rosa, _left._)

                             The Princess.

Mais puisque je te dis, Eugenie, que je n'ai pas sommeil. M'envoyer
coucher comme une enfant, c'est abominable.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Mais je t'implore, chérie, sois sage! Tu sais, que c'est le médecin,
qui----

                             The Princess.

Ah, ton médecin! Toujours cette corvée. Et si je te dis----

                             Frau v. Brook.

Chut! My dear woman, wouldn't it be best for you to superintend the
preparations?

                            Frau Lindemann.

I am entirely at your service. (_About to go out, left._)

                             Frau v. Brook.

One thing more. This veranda, leading from the house to the
grounds--would it be possible to close it to the public?

                            Frau Lindemann.

Oh, certainly. The guests as often as not sit out under the trees.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Very well, then do so, please. (Frau Lindemann _locks the door._) We
may be assured that no one will enter this place?

                            Frau Lindemann.

If it is desired, none of us belonging to the house will come in here
either.

                             Frau v. Brook.

We should like that.

                            Frau Lindemann.

Very well. (_Exit._)

                             Frau v. Brook.

Really, you must be more careful, darling. If that woman had understood
French-- You must be careful!

                             The Princess.

What would have been so dreadful about it?

                             Frau v. Brook.

Oh, my dear child! This mood of yours, which is due to nothing but
your illness--that reminds me, you haven't taken your peptonised milk
yet--this is a secret which we must keep from everyone, above all from
your fiancé. If the Grand-Duke should discover----

               The Princess (_shrugging her shoulders_).

Well, what of it?

                             Frau v. Brook.

A bride's duty is to be a happy bride. Otherwise----

                             The Princess.

Otherwise?

                             Frau v. Brook.

She will be a lonely and an unloved woman.

          The Princess (_with a little smile of resignation_).

Ah!

                             Frau v. Brook.

What is it, dear? (The Princess _shakes her head._) And then think of
the strain of those formal presentations awaiting you in the autumn!
You must grow strong. Remember that you must be equal to the most
exacting demands of life.

                             The Princess.

Of life? Whose life?

                             Frau v. Brook.

What do you mean by that?

                             The Princess.

Ah, what good does it do to talk about it?

                             Frau v. Brook.

Yes, you are right. In my soul, too, there are unhappy and unholy
thoughts that I would rather not utter. From my own experience I know
that it is best to keep strictly within the narrow path of Duty.

                             The Princess.

And to go to sleep.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Ah, it isn't only that.

                             The Princess.

Look out there! See the woods!--Ah, to lie down on the moss, to cover
oneself with leaves, to watch the clouds pass by high above----

                      Frau v. Brook (_softening_).

We can do that, too, sometime.

                    The Princess (_laughing aloud_).

Sometime!

                  (The Lackey _appears at the door_).

                             Frau v. Brook.

Is everything ready? (The Lackey _bows._)

                   The Princess (_aside to_ Frau v. Brook).

But I simply cannot sleep.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Try to, for my sake. (_Aloud._) Does your Highness command----

                 The Princess (_smiling and sighing_).

Yes, I command. (_They go out, left._)

(_The stage remains empty for several moments. Then_ Strübel _is heard
trying the latch of the back door._)

                            Strübel's Voice.

Hullo! What's up! Why is this locked all of a sudden? Rosa!--Open up!
I've got to look through the telescope! Rosa! Won't you?--Oh, well,
I know how to help myself. (_He is seen walking outside of the
glass-covered veranda. Then he puts his head through the open window at
the right._) Not a soul inside?-- (_Climbs over._) Well, here we are.
What on earth has happened to these people? (_Unlocks the back door and
looks out._) Everything deserted. Well, it's all the same to me.
(_Locks the door again._) But let's find out right away what the
carriage has to do with the case. (_Prepares to look through the
telescope_. The Princess _enters cautiously through the door at the
left, her hat in her hand. Without noticing_ Strübel, _who is standing
motionless before the telescope, she goes hurriedly to the door at the
back and unlocks it._)

                                Strübel.

(_Startled at the sound of the key, turns around._) Why, how do you do?
(The Princess, _not venturing to move, glances back at the door through
which she has entered._) Wouldn't you like to look through the
telescope a while? Please do. (The Princess, _undecided as to whether
or not she should answer him, takes a few steps back toward the door at
the left._) Why are you going away? I won't do anything to you.

                      The Princess (_reassured_).

Oh, I'm not going away.

                                Strübel.

That's right. But--where have you come from? The door was locked.
Surely you didn't climb through the window as I did?

                      The Princess (_frightened_).

What?--You came--through the window?----

                                Strübel.

Of course I did.

                   The Princess (_frightened anew_).

Then I had rather (_About to go back._)

                                Strübel.

Oh, my dear young lady, you just stay right here. Why, before I'd drive
you away I'd pitch myself headlong over a precipice!

                  The Princess (_smiling, reassured_).

I only wanted to go out into the woods for half an hour.

                                Strübel.

Oh, then you're a regular guest here at the Inn?

                       The Princess (_quickly_).

Yes--yes, of course.

                                Strübel.

And of course you drink the waters down below?

                  The Princess (_in a friendly way_).

Oh, yes, I drink the waters. And I'm taking the baths, too.

                                Strübel.


Two hundred metres up and down every time! Isn't that very hard on you?
Heavens! And you look so pale! See here, my dear young lady, don't you
do it. It would be better for you to go down there--that is-- Oh,
forgive me! I've been talking without thinking. Of course, you have
your own reasons-- It's decidedly cheaper up here. _I_ know how to
value a thing of that sort. I've never had any money in all my life!

               The Princess (_trying to seem practical_).

But when one comes to a watering-place, one must have money.

               Strübel (_slapping himself on the chest_).

Do I look to you as if I drank iron? Thank Heaven, I can't afford such
luxuries! No; I'm only a poor fellow who earns his miserable pittance
during vacation by acting as a private tutor--that's to say,
"miserable" is only a figure of speech, for in the morning I lie abed
until nine, at noon I eat five, and at night seven, courses; and as for
work, I really haven't a thing to do! My pupil is so anæmic--why,
compared to him, _you're_ fit for a circus rider!

               The Princess (_laughing unrestrainedly_).

Oh, well, I'm rather glad I'm not one.

                                Strübel.

Dear me, it's a business like any other.

                             The Princess.

Like any other? Really, I didn't think that.

                                Strübel.

And pray, what did you think then?

                             The Princess.

Oh, I thought that they were--an entirely different sort of people.

                                Strübel.

My dear young lady, all people are "an entirely different sort." Of
course _we_ two aren't. We get along real well together, don't we? As
poor as church mice, both of us!

                 The Princess (_smiling reflectively_).

Who knows? Perhaps that's true.

                          Strübel (_kindly_).

Do you know what? If you want to stay down there--I'll tell you how one
can live cheaply. I have a friend, a student like myself. He's here to
mend up as you are. I feed him up at the house where I'm staying.
(_Frightened at a peculiar look of_ The Princess's.) Oh, but you
mustn't be-- No, I shouldn't have said it. It wasn't decent of me.
Only, let me tell you, I'm so glad to be able to help the poor fellow
out of my unexpected earnings, that I'd like to be shouting it from the
housetops all the time! Of course, you understand that, don't you?

                             The Princess.

You like to help people, then?

                                Strübel.

Surely--don't you?

                      The Princess (_reflecting_).

No. There's always so much talk about it, and the whole thing
immediately appears in the newspapers.

                                Strübel.

What? If you help some one, that appears----?

              The Princess (_quickly correcting herself_).

I only mean if one takes part in entertainments for charity----

                                Strübel.

Oh, yes, naturally. In those things they always get some woman of rank
to act as patroness, if they can, and she sees to it, you may be sure,
that the newspapers make a fuss over it.

                       The Princess (_demurely_).

Oh, not every----

                                Strübel.

Just try to teach me something I don't know about these titled women!
Besides, my dear young lady, where is your home--in one of the large
cities, or----?

                             The Princess.

Oh, no. In quite a small town--really more like the country.

                                Strübel.

Then, I'm going to show you something that you probably never saw
before in all your life.

                             The Princess.

Oh do! What is it?

                                Strübel.

A princess! H'm--not a make-believe, but a real, true-blue princess!

                             The Princess.

Oh, really?

                                Strübel.

Yes. Our Princess of the Springs.

                             The Princess.

And who may that be?

                                Strübel.

Why, Princess Marie Louise.

                             The Princess.

Of Geldern?

                                Strübel.

Of course.

                             The Princess.

Do you know her?

                                Strübel.

Why, certainly.

                             The Princess.

Really? I thought that she lived in great retirement.

                                Strübel.

Well, that doesn't do her any good. Not a bit of it. And because you
are such a jolly, good fellow, I'm going to tell you my secret. I'm in
love with this princess!

                             The Princess.

Oh!

                                Strübel.

You can't imagine what a comfort it is. The fact is, every young poet
has got to have a princess to love.

                             The Princess.

Are _you_ a poet?

                                Strübel.

Can't you tell that by looking at me?

                             The Princess.

I never saw a poet before.

                                Strübel.

Never saw a poet--never saw a princess! Why, you're learning a heap of
things to-day!

                      The Princess (_assenting_).

H'm--And have you written poems to her?

                                Strübel.

Why, that goes without saying! Quantities of 'em!

                             The Princess.

Oh, please recite some little thing--won't you?

                                Strübel.

No, not yet. Everything at the proper time.

                             The Princess.

Ah, yes, first I should like to see the princess.

                                Strübel.

No, first I am going to tell you the whole story.

                             The Princess.

Oh, yes, yes. Please do. (_Sits down._)

                                Strübel.

Well, then--I had hardly heard that she was here before I was dead in
love with her. It was just as quick as a shot, I tell you. Just as if I
had waited all my life long to fall in love with her. Besides, I also
heard about her beauty--and her sorrow. You see, she had an early love
affair.

                     The Princess (_disconcerted_).

What? Are they saying that?

                                Strübel.

Yes. It was a young officer who went to Africa because of her--and died
there.

                             The Princess.

And they know that, too?

                                Strübel.

What don't they know?--But that's a mere detail--it doesn't concern
me. Even the fact that in six months she will become the bride of a
grand-duke--even that can make no difference to me. For the present she
is _my_ princess.--But you're not listening to me!

                             The Princess.

Oh, yes I am!

                                Strübel.

Do you know what that means--_my_ princess? I'll not give up _my_
princess--not for anything in all the world!

                             The Princess.

But--if you don't even know her----?

                                Strübel.

I don't know her? Why, I know her as well as I know myself!

                             The Princess.

Have you ever met her, then?

                                Strübel.

I don't know of any one who has ever met her. And there's not a soul
that can tell what she looks like. It is said that there were pictures
of her in the shop-windows when she first came, but they were removed
immediately. In the morning a great many people are always lurking
around the Springs trying to catch a glimpse of her. I myself have
gotten up at six o'clock a couple of times--on the same errand--and if
you knew me better, you'd realise what that meant. But not a sign of
her! Either she has the stuff brought to her house, or she has the
power of making herself invisible. (The Princess _turns aside to
conceal a smile._) After that, I used to hang around her garden--every
day, for hours at a time. Until one day the policeman, whom the
managers of the Springs have stationed at the gates, came up to me and
asked me what on earth I was doing there. Well, that was the end of
those methods of approach! Suddenly, however, a happy thought struck
me. Now I can see her, and have her near to me as often as I wish.

                             The Princess.

Why, that's very interesting. How?

                                Strübel.

Yes, that's just the point. H'm, should I risk it? Should I take you
into my confidence?

                             The Princess.

You promised me some time ago that you would show her to me.

                                Strübel.

Wait a second. (_Looks through the telescope._) There she is. Please
look for yourself.

                             The Princess.

But I am-- (_She, too, looks through the telescope._) Actually, there
is the garden as plain as if one were in it.

                                Strübel.

And at the corner window on the left--with the embroidery-frame--that's
she.

                             The Princess.

Are you absolutely certain that that is the princess?

                                Strübel.

Why, who else could it be?

                             The Princess.

Oh, 'round about a princess like that--there are such a lot of people.
For instance, there is her waiting-woman, there's the seamstress and
her assistants, there's----

                                Strübel.

But my dear young lady, if you only understood anything about these
matters, you would have been certain at the very first glance that it
was she--and no one else. Observe the nobility in every motion--the
queenly grace with which she bends over the embroidery-frame----

                             The Princess.

How do you know that it's an embroidery-frame?

                                Strübel.

Why, what should a princess be bending over if not an embroidery-frame?
Do you expect her to be darning stockings?

                             The Princess.

It wouldn't hurt her at all!

                                Strübel.

Now, that's just one of those petty, bourgeois notions which we ought
to suppress. It's not enough that we have to stick in this misery, but
we'd like to drag her down, too--that being far above all earthly
care----

                             The Princess.

Oh, dear me!

                                Strübel.

What are you sighing about so terribly?

                             The Princess

Tell me, wouldn't you like to have a closer acquaintance with your
princess, sometime?

                                Strübel.

Closer? Why should I?--Isn't she close enough to me, my far-away
princess?--for that's what I call her when I talk to myself about her.
And to have her _still_ closer?

                             The Princess.

Why, so that you could talk to her and know what she really was like.

                         Strübel (_terrified_).

Talk to her! Heaven forbid! Goodness gracious, no! Just see here--how
am I to face a princess? I'm an ordinary fellow, the son of poor folks.
I haven't polished manners--I haven't even a decent tailor. A lady like
that--why, she'd measure me from top to toe in one glance.--I've had my
lessons in the fine houses where I've applied as tutor. A glance from
boots to cravat--and you're dismissed!

                             The Princess.

And you think that I--(_correcting herself_)--that this girl is as
superficial as that?

                                Strübel.

"This girl"! Dear me, how that sounds! But, how should I ever succeed
in showing her my real self? And even if I should, what would she
care?--Oh, yes, if she were like you--so nice and simple--and with such
a kindhearted, roguish little twinkle in her eye----!

                             The Princess.

Roguish--I? Why so?

                                Strübel.

Because you are laughing at me in your sleeve. And really I deserve
nothing better.

                             The Princess.

But your princess deserves something better than your opinion of her.

                                Strübel.

How do you know that?

                             The Princess.

You really ought to try to become acquainted with her sometime.

                                Strübel.

No, no, no--and again no! As long as she remains my far-away princess,
she is everything that I want her to be--modest, gracious, loving. She
smiles upon me dreamily. Yes, she even listens when I recite my poems
to her--and that can't be said of many people! And as soon as I have
finished, she sighs, takes a rose from her breast, and casts it down to
the poet.--I wrote a few verses yesterday about that rose, that flower
which represents the pinnacle of my desires, as it were.

                       The Princess (_eagerly_).

Oh, yes. Oh, please, please!

                                Strübel.

Well, then, here goes. H'm--"Twenty roses nestling close----"

                             The Princess.

What? Are there twenty now?

                         Strübel (_severely_).

My princess would not have interrupted me.

                             The Princess.

Oh please--forgive me.

                                Strübel.

I shall begin again.

            Twenty roses nestling close
              Gleam upon thy breast,
            Twenty years of rose-red love
              Upon thy fair cheeks rest.

            Twenty years would I gladly give
              Out of life's brief reign,
            Could I but ask a rose of thee
              And ask it not in vain.

            Twenty roses thou dost not need
              --Why, pearls and rubies are thine!--
            With nineteen thou'dst be just as fair,
              And _one_ would then be _mine_!

            And twenty years of rose-wreathed joy
              Would spring to life for me--
            Yet twenty years could ne'er suffice
              To worship it--and thee!

                             The Princess.

How nice that is! I've never had any verses written to me b----

                                Strübel.

Ah, my dear young lady, ordinary folks like us have to do their own
verse-making!

                             The Princess.

And all for one rose!--Dear me, how soon it fades! And then what is
left you?

                                Strübel.

No, my dear friend, a rose like that never fades--even as my love for
the gracious giver can never die.

                             The Princess.

But you haven't even got it yet!

                                Strübel.

That makes no difference in the end. I'm entirely independent of such
externals. When some day I shall be explaining Ovid to the beginners,
or perhaps even reading Horace with the more advanced classes--no, it's
better for the present not to think of reaching any such dizzy heights
of greatness--well, then I shall always be saying to myself with a
smile of satisfaction, "You, too, were one of those confounded artist
fellows--why, you once went so far as to love a princess!"

                             The Princess.

And that will make you happy?

                                Strübel.

Enormously!--For what makes us happy after all? A bit of happiness?
Great heavens, no! Happiness wears out like an old glove.

                             The Princess.

Well, then, what does?

                                Strübel.

Ah, how should I know! Any kind of a dream--a fancy--a wish
unfulfilled--a sorrow that we coddle--some nothing which suddenly
becomes everything to us. I shall always say to my pupils--"Young men,
if you want to be happy as long as you live, create gods for yourselves
in your own image; these gods will take care of your happiness."

                             The Princess.

And what would the god be like that you would create?

                                Strübel.

_Would be? Is, my dear young lady, is!_--A man of the world, a
gentleman, well bred, smiling, enjoying life--who looks out upon
mankind from under bushy eyebrows, who knows Nietzsche and Stendhal by
heart, and--(_pointing to his shoes_) who isn't down at the heels--a
god, in short, worthy of my princess. I know perfectly well that all my
life long I shall never do anything but crawl around on the ground like
an industrious ant, but I know, too, that the god of my fancy will
always take me by the collar when the proper moment comes and pull me
up again into the clouds. Yes, up there I'm safe.--And your god, or
rather your goddess--what would she look like?

                     The Princess (_thoughtfully_).

That's not easy to say. My goddess would be--a quiet, peaceful woman
who would treasure a secret, little joy like the apple of her eye, who
would know nothing of the world except what she wanted to know, and who
would have the strength to make her own choice when it pleased her.

                                Strübel.

But that doesn't seem to me a particularly lofty aspiration, my dear
young lady.

                             The Princess.

Lofty as the heavens, my friend.

                                Strübel.

My princess would be of a different opinion.

                             The Princess.

Do you think so?

                                Strübel.

For that's merely the ideal of every little country girl.

                             The Princess.

Not her ideal--her daily life which she counts as naught. It is my
ideal because I can never attain it.

                                Strübel.

Oh. I say, my dear young girl! It can't be as bad as that! A young girl
like you--so charming and--I don't want to be forward, but if I could
only help you a bit!

                             The Princess.

Have you got to be helping all the time? Before, it was only a cheap
lunch, now it's actually----

                                Strübel.

Yes, yes, I'm an awful donkey, I know, but----

                       The Princess (_smiling_).

Don't say any more about it, dear friend! I like you that way.

           Strübel (_feeling oppressed by her superiority_).

Really you are an awfully strange person! There's something about you
that--that--

                             The Princess.

Well?

                                Strübel.

I can't exactly define it.--Tell me, weren't you wanting to go into the
woods before? It's so--so oppressive in here.

                             The Princess.

Oppressive? I don't find it so at all--quite the contrary.

                                Strübel.

No, no--I'm restless. I don't know what--at all events, may I not
escort you--? One can chat more freely, one can express himself more
openly--if one-- (_Takes a deep breath._)

                       The Princess (_smiling_).

And you are leaving your far-away princess with such a light heart?

                        Strübel (_carelessly_).

Oh, she! She won't run away. She'll be sitting there tomorrow
again--and the day after, too!

                             The Princess.

And so that is your great, undying love?

                                Strübel.

Yes, but when a girl like you comes across one's path----

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

(_Hurrying in and then drawing back in feigned astonishment._) Oh!

                     Liddy and Milly (_similarly_).

Oh!

                                Strübel.

Well, ladies, didn't I tell you that you wouldn't find her? Princesses
don't grow along the roadside like weeds!

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

(_Disregarding him ceremoniously._) The infinite happiness with which
this glorious event fills our hearts must excuse in some measure the
extraordinary breach of good manners which we are committing in daring
to address your Highness. But, as the fortunate subjects of your
Highness's most noble fiancé, we could not refrain from----

                                Strübel.

Well, well! What's all this?

                           Frau v. Halldorf.

--from offering to our eagerly awaited sovereign a slight token of our
future loyalty. Liddy! Milly! (Liddy _and_ Milly _come forward, and,
with low court bows, offer their bouquets._) My daughters respectfully
present these few flowers to the illustrious princess----

                                Strübel.

I beg your pardon, but who is doing the joking here, you or----?

(Frau v. Brook _enters_. The Princess, _taken unawares, has retreated
more and more helplessly toward the door at the left, undecided whether
to take flight or remain. She greets the arrival of_ Frau v. Brook
_with a happy sigh of relief._)

                       Frau v. Brook (_severely_).

Pardon me, ladies. Apparently you have not taken the proper steps
toward being presented to Her Highness. In matters of this sort one
must first apply to me. I may be addressed every morning from eleven to
twelve, and I shall be happy to consider your desires.

                   Frau v. Halldorf (_with dignity_).

I and my children, madame, were aware of the fact that we were acting
contrary to the usual procedure; but the impulse of loyal hearts is
guided by no rule. I shall be glad to avail myself of your very kind
invitation.

        (_All three go out with low curtsies to_ The Princess.)

                             Frau v. Brook.

What forwardness!--But how could you come down without me?--And what is
that young man over there doing? Does he belong to those people?

(The Princess _shakes her head_. Strübel, _without a word, goes to get
his hat which has been lying on a chair, bows abruptly, and is about to
leave._)

                             The Princess.

Oh, no! That wouldn't be nice. Not that way----

                       Frau v. Brook (_amazed_).

What?--What!--Why, your Highness----!

                             The Princess.

Let me be, Eugenie. This young man and I have become far too good
friends to part in such an unfriendly, yes, almost hostile, fashion.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Your Highness, I am _very_ much----

                      The Princess (_to_ Strübel).

You and I will certainly remember this hour with great pleasure, and I
thank you for it with all my heart. If I only had a rose with me so as
to give you your dear wish!--Eugenie, haven't we any roses with us?

                             Frau v. Brook.

Your Highness, I am _very_ much----

                             The Princess.

(_Examining herself and searching among the vases._) Well, how are we
going to manage it?

                                Strübel.

I most humbly thank--your Highness--for the kind intention.

                             The Princess.

No, no--wait! (_Her glance falls upon the hat which she is holding in
her hand with a sudden thought._) I have it!--But don't think that I'm
joking.--And we'll have to do without scissors! (_She tears one of the
roses from the hat._) I don't know whether there are just twenty
(_Holding out one of the roses to him._) Well?--This rose has the
merit of being just as real as the sentiment of which we were speaking
before--and just as unfading.

                                Strübel.

Is this--to be--my punishment? (The Princess _smilingly shakes her
head._) Or does your Highness mean by it that only the Unreal never
fades?

                             The Princess.

That's exactly what I mean--because the Unreal must always dwell in the
imagination.

                                Strübel.

So that's it! Just as it is only the _far-away_ princesses who are
always near to us.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Permit me to remark, your Highness that it is _high_ time----

                             The Princess.

As you see, those who are near must hurry away. (_Offering him the rose
again._) Well?

                                Strübel.

(_Is about to take it, but lets his hand fall._) With the far-away
princess there--(_pointing down_) it would have been in harmony, but
with the-- (_Shakes his head, then softly and with emotion._) No,
thanks--I'd rather not. (_He bows and goes out._)

                             The Princess.

(_Smiling pensively, throws away the artificial flower._) I'm going to
ask my fiancé to let me send him a rose.

                             Frau v. Brook.

Your Highness, I am _very_ much--surprised!

                             The Princess.

Well, I told you that I wasn't sleepy.



                                Curtain.





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