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Title: The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann - Volume I
Author: Hauptmann, Gerhart, 1862-1946
Language: English
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THE DRAMATIC WORKS

OF

GERHART HAUPTMANN

(Authorized Edition)



Edited By LUDWIG LEWISOHN

Assistant Professor in The Ohio State University



VOLUME ONE: SOCIAL DRAMAS


1912



PREFACE


The present edition of Hauptmann's works contains all of his plays with
the exception of a few inconsiderable fragments and the historical drama
_Florian Geyer_. The latter has been excluded by reason of its great
length, its divergence from the characteristic moods of Hauptmann's art,
and that failure of high success which the author himself has implicitly
acknowledged. The arrangement of the volumes follows, with such
modifications as the increase of material has made necessary, the method
used by Hauptmann in the first and hitherto the only collected edition of
his dramas. Five plays are presented here which that edition did not
include, and hence the present collection gives the completest view now
attainable of Hauptmann's activity as a dramatist.

The translation of the plays, seven of which are written entirely in
dialect, offered a problem of unusual difficulty. The easiest solution,
that namely, of rendering the speech of the Silesian peasants or the
Berlin populace into some existing dialect of English, I was forced to
reject at once. A very definite set of associative values would thus have
been gained for the language of Hauptmann's characters, but of values
radically different from those suggested in the original. I found it
necessary, therefore, to invent a dialect near enough to the English of
the common people to convince the reader or spectator, yet not so near to
the usage of any class or locality as to interpose between him and
Hauptmann's characters an Irish or a Cockney, a Southern or a New England
atmosphere. Into this dialect, with which the work of my collaborators
has been made to conform, I have sought to render as justly and as
exactly as possible the intensely idiomatic speech that Hauptmann
employs. In doing this I have had to take occasional liberties with my
text, but I have tried to reduce these to a minimum, and always to make
them serve a closer interpretation of the original shade of thought or
turn of expression. The rendering of the plays written in normal literary
prose or verse needs no such explanation nor the plea for a measure of
critical indulgence which that explanation implies.

I owe hearty thanks to Dr. Hauptmann for the promptness and cordiality
with which he has either rectified or confirmed my view of the
development and meaning of his thought and art as stated in the
Introduction, and to my wife for faithful assistance in the preparation
of these volumes.


LUDWIG LEWISOHN.

COLUMBUS, O., June, 1912.



CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION
_By the Editor._

BEFORE DAWN (Vor Sonnenaufgang)
_Translated by the Editor._

THE WEAVERS (Die Weber)
_Translated by Mary Morison._

THE BEAVER COAT (Der Biberpelz)
_Translated by the Editor._

THE CONFLAGRATION (Der rote Hahn)
_Translated by the Editor._



INTRODUCTION


I

Gerhart Hauptmann, the most distinguished of modern German dramatists,
was born in the Silesian village of Obersalzbrunn on November 15, 1862.
By descent he springs immediately from the common people of his native
province to whose life he has so often given the graveness of tragedy and
the permanence of literature. His grandfather, Ehrenfried, felt in his
own person the bitter fate of the Silesian weavers and only through
energy and good fortune was enabled to change his trade to that of a
waiter. By 1824 he was an independent inn-keeper and was followed in the
same business by the poet's father, Robert Hauptmann. The latter, a man
of solid and not uncultivated understanding, married Marie Straehler,
daughter of one of the fervent Moravian households of Silesia, and had
become, when his sons Carl and Gerhart were born, the proprietor of a
well-known and prosperous hotel, _Zur Preussischen Krone_.

From the village-school of Obersalzbrunn, where he was but an idle pupil,
Gerhart was sent in 1874 to the _Realschule_ at Breslau. Here, in the
company of his older brothers, Carl and Georg, the lad remained for
nearly four years, having impressed his teachers most strongly, it
appears, by a lack of attention. For this reason, but also perhaps
because his father, injured by competitors and by a change in local
conditions, had lost his independence, Gerhart was withdrawn from school
in 1878. He was next to become a farmer and, to this end, was placed in
the pious family of an uncle. Gradually, however, artistic impulses began
to disengage themselves--he had long modelled in a desultory way--and in
October, 1880, at the advice of his maturer brother Carl Hauptmann
proceeded to Breslau and was enrolled as a student in the Royal College
of Art.

The value of this restless shifting in his early years is apparent. For
the discontent that marked his unquiet youth made for a firm retention of
impressions. Observation, in the saying of Balzac, springs from
suffering, and Hauptmann saw the Silesian country-folk and the artists of
Breslau with an almost morbid exactness of vision. Actual conflict
sharpened his insight. Three weeks after entering the art-school he
received a disciplinary warning and early in 1881 he was rusticated for
eleven weeks. Nevertheless he remained in Breslau until April, 1882, when
he joined his brother Carl and became a special student at the University
of Jena. Here he heard lectures by Liebmann, Eucken and Haeckel. But the
academic life did not hold him long. Scarcely a year passed and Hauptmann
is found at Hamburg, the guest of his future parents-in-law and his
brother's. Thence he set out on an Italian journey, travelling by way of
Spain and the South of France to Genoa, and visiting Naples, Capri and
Rome. Although his delight in these places was diminished by his keen
social consciousness, he returned to Italy the following year (1884) and,
for a time, had a sculptor's studio in Rome. Overtaken here by typhoid
fever, he was nursed back to health by his future wife, Marie Thienemann,
and returned to Germany to gather strength at the Thienemann country
house.

So far, sculpture had held him primarily; it was now that the poetic
impulse asserted itself. Seeking a synthesis of these tendencies in a
third art, Hauptmann determined, for a time, to adopt the calling of an
actor. To this end he went to Berlin. Here, however, the interest in
literature soon grew to dominate every other and, in 1885, the year of
his marriage to Fraulein Thienemann, he published his first work:
_Promethidenlos_.

The poem is romantic and amorphous and gives but the faintest promise of
the masterly handling of verse to be found in _The Sunken Bell_ and
_Henry of Aue_. Its interest resides solely in its confirmation of the
facts of Hauptmann's development. For the hero of _Promethidenlos_
vacillates between poetry and sculpture, but is able to give himself
freely to neither art because of his overwhelming sense of social
injustice and human suffering. And this, in brief, was the state of
Hauptmann's mind when, in the autumn of 1885, he settled with his young
wife in the Berlin suburb of Erkner.

The years of his residence here are memorable and have already become the
subject of study and investigation. And rightly so; for during this time
there took place that impact of the many obscure tendencies of the age
upon the most sensitive and gifted of German minds from which sprang the
naturalistic movement. That movement dominated literature for a few
years. Then, in Hauptmann's own temper and in his own work, arose a
vigorous idealistic reaction which, blending with the severe technique
and incorruptible observation of naturalism, went far toward
producing--for a second time--a new vision and a new art. The conditions
amid which this development originated are essential to a full
understanding of Hauptmann's work.



II

At the end of the Franco-Prussian war, united Germany looked forward to a
literary movement commensurate with her new greatness. That movement did
not appear. It was forgotten that men in the maturity of their years and
powers could not suddenly change character and method and that the rise
of a new generation was needed. So soon, however, as the first members of
that generation became articulate, a bitter and almost merciless warfare
arose in literature and in the drama. The brothers Heinrich and Julius
Hart, vigorous in both critical and creative activity, asserted as early
as 1882 that German literature was then, at its best, the faint imitation
of an outworn classicism, and the German drama a transference of the
basest French models. It is easy to see to-day that their view was
partisan and narrow. Neither Wilbrandt and Heyse, on the one hand, nor
Lindau and L'Arronge, on the other, represented the whole literary
activity of the empire. It is equally easy, however, to understand their
impatience with a literature which, upon the whole, lacked any breath of
greatness, and handled the stuff of human life with so little freshness,
incisiveness and truth.

What direction was the new literature to take? The decisive influence
was, almost necessarily, that of the naturalistic writers of France. For
the tendencies of these men coincided with Germany's growing interest in
science and growing rejection of traditional religion and philosophy.
Tolstoi, Ibsen and Strindberg each contributed his share to the movement.
But all the young critics of the eighties fought the battles of Zola with
him and repeated, sometimes word for word, the memorable creed of French
naturalism formulated long before by the Goncourt brothers: "The
modern--everything for the artist is there: in the sensation, the
intuition of the contemporary, of this spectacle of life with which one
rubs elbows!" Such, with whatever later developments, was the central
doctrine of young Germany in the eighties; such the belief that gradually
expressed itself in a number of definite organisations and publications.

The most noteworthy of these, prior to the founding of the _Freie Bühne_,
were the magazine _Die Gesellschaft_ (1885), edited by Michael Conrad,
the most ardent of German Zolaists, and the society _Durch_ (1886), in
which the revolutionary spirits of Berlin united to promulgate the art
canons of the future. "Literature and criticism," Conrad declared, must
first of all be "liberated from the tyranny of the conventional young
lady:" the programme of _Durch_ announced that the poet must give
creative embodiment to the life of the present, that he shall show us
human beings of flesh and blood and depict their passions with implacable
fidelity; that the ideal of art was no longer the Antique, but the
Modern. Nor was there wanting creative activity in the spirit of these
views. Franzos and Kretzer, to name but a few, originated the modern
realistic novel in Germany, and Liliencron brought back vigour and
concreteness to the lyric.

Into the tense atmosphere of this literary battle Hauptmann was cast when
he took up his residence at Erkner. The house he occupied was the last in
the village, half buried in woods and with far prospects over the heaths
and deep green, melancholy waters of Brandenburg. Hither came, among many
others, the brothers Hart, the novelist Kretzer, Wilhelm Bölsche, the
inexhaustible prophet of the new science and the new art, and finally,
the founder of German naturalism as distinguished from that of
France--Arno Holz, The efforts of all these men harmonised with
Hauptmann's mood. Naturalistic art goes for its subject matter to the
forgotten and disinherited of the earth, and it was with these that
Hauptmann was primarily concerned. He read Darwin and Karl Marx,
Saint-Simon and Zola. He was absorbed not by any problem of art but by
the being and fate of humanity itself.

Under these influences and governed by such thoughts, he began his career
as a man of letters anew. But his progress was slow and uncertain. In
1887 he published in Conrad's _Gesellschaft_ an episodic story,
_Bahnwärter Thiel_, weak in narrative technique and obviously inspired by
Zola. Even the sudden expansion of human characters into demonic symbols
of their ruling passions is imitated. The medium clearly irked him and
gave him no opportunity for personal expression. For many months his
activity was tentative and fruitless. Early in 1889, however, Arno Holz,
known until then only by a volume of brave and resonant verse, visited
Erkner and brought with him his theory of "consistent naturalism" as
illustrated by _Papa Hamlet_ and _Die Familie Selicke_, sketches and a
drama in manuscript. This meeting gave Hauptmann one of those
illuminating technical hints which every creative artist knows. It
brought him an immediate method such as neither Tolstoi nor Dostoievsky
had been able to bring, and decided him for naturalism and for the drama.
He had found himself at last. During a visit to his parents he gave
himself up to intense labour and returned to Berlin in the spring of 1889
with his first drama, _Before Dawn_, completed.

The play might have waited indefinitely for performance, had not Otto
Brahm and Paul Schlenther, both critical thinkers of some significance,
founded the free stage society (_Freie Bühne_) earlier in the same year.
It was the aim of this society to give at least eight annual performances
in the city of Berlin which should be wholly free from the influence of
the censor and from the pressure of economic needs. The greater number of
the first series of performances had already been prepared for by a
selection of foreign plays--Tolstoi, Goncourt, Ibsen, Björnsen,
Strindberg--when, at the last moment, a young German dramatist presented
himself and succeeded in having his play accepted. Thus the society, long
since dead, had the good fortune of fulfilling the function for which it
was created: it launched the naturalistic movement; it cradled the modern
drama of Germany.

The first performance of _Before Dawn_ (Oct. 20, 1889) was tumultuous. It
recalled the famous _Hernani_ battle of French romanticism. But the
victory of Hauptmann was not long in doubt. With his third play he
conquered the national stage of which he has since been, with whatever
variations of immediate success, the undisputed master.



III

The "consistent naturalism" of Holz and his collaborator Johannes Schlaf
is the technical foundation of Hauptmann's work. He has long transcended
its narrow theory and the shallow positivism on which it was based. It
discarded verse and he has written great verse; it banished the past from
art and he has gone to legend and history for his subjects; it forbade
the use of symbols and he has, at times, made an approach to his meaning
unnecessarily difficult. But Hauptmann has never quite abandoned the
practice of that form of art which resulted from the theories of Holz.
From history and poetry he has always returned to the naturalistic drama.
_Rose Bernd_ follows _Henry of Aue_, and _Griselda_ immediately preceded
_The Rats_. Nor is this all. The methods of naturalism have followed him
into the domains of poetry and of the past. His verse is scrupulously
devoid of rhetoric; the psychology of his historic plays is sober and
human. Hence it is clear that an analysis of the consistent naturalism of
German literature is, with whatever modifications, an analysis of
Hauptmann's work in its totality. Like nearly all the greater dramatists
he had his forerunners and his prophets: he proceeds from a school of art
and thought which, even in transcending, he illustrates.

The consistent naturalists, then, aimed not to found a new art but, in
any traditional sense, to abandon it. They desired to reduce the
conventions of technique to a minimum and to eliminate the writer's
personality even where Zola had admitted its necessary presence--in the
choice of subject and in form. For style, the very religion of the French
naturalistic masters, there was held to be no place, since there was to
be, in this new literature, neither direct exposition, however
impersonal, nor narrative. In other words, none of the means of
representation were to be used by which art achieves the illusion of
life; since art, in fact, was no longer to create the illusion of
reality, but to _be_ reality. The founders of the school would have
admitted that the French had done much by the elimination of intrigue and
a liberal choice of theme. They would still have seen--and rightly
according to their premises--creative vision and not truth even in the
oppressive pathology of _Germinie Lacerteux_ and the morbid brutalities
of _La Terre_. The opinion of Flaubert that any subject suffices, if the
treatment be excellent, was modified into: there must be neither
intentional choice of theme nor stylistic treatment. For style supposes
rearrangement, personal vision, unjust selection of detail, and
literature must be an exact rendition of the actual.

Stated so baldly the doctrine of consistent naturalism verges on the
absurd. Eliminate selection of detail and personal vision, and art
becomes not only coextensive with life, but shares its confusion and its
apparent purposelessness. It loses all interpretative power and ceases to
be art. Practically, however, the doctrine led to a very definite
form--the naturalistic drama. For, if all indirect treatment of life be
discarded, nothing is left but the recording of speech and, if possible,
of speech actually overheard. The juxtaposition of such blocks of
scrupulously rendered conversation constitutes, in fact, the earliest
experiments of Arno Holz. Under the creative energy of Hauptmann,
however, the form at once grew into drama, but a drama which sought to
rely as little as possible upon the traditional devices of dramaturgic
technique. There was to be no implication of plot, no culmination of the
resulting struggle in effective scenes, no superior articulateness on the
part of the characters. A succession of simple scenes was to present a
section of life without rearrangement or heightening. There could be no
artistic beginning, for life comes shadowy from life; there could be no
artistic ending, for the play of life ends only in eternity.

The development of the drama in such a direction had, of course, been
foreshadowed. The plays of Ibsen's middle period tend to a simpler
rendering of life, and the cold intellect of Strindberg had rejected the
"symmetrical dialogue" of the French drama in order "to let the brains of
men work unhindered." But Hauptmann carries the same methods
extraordinarily far and achieves a poignant verisimilitude that rivals
the pity and terror of the most memorable drama of the past.

These methods lead, naturally, to the exclusion of several devices. Thus
Hauptmann, like Ibsen and Shaw, avoids the division of acts into scenes.
The coming and going of characters has the unobtrusiveness but seldom
violated in life, and the inevitable artifices are held within rigid
bounds. In some of his earlier dramas he also observed the unities of
time and place, and throughout his work practices a close economy in
these respects. It goes without saying that he rejects the monologue, the
unnatural reading of letters, the _raisonneur_ or commenting and
providential character, the lightly motivised confession--all the
devices, in brief, by which the conventional playwright blandly
transports information across the footlights, or unravels the artificial
knot which he has tied.

In dialogue, the medium of the drama, Hauptmann shows the highest
originality and power. Beside the speech of his characters all other
dramatic speech, that of Ibsen, of Tolstoi in _The Power of Darkness_, or
of Pinero, seems conscious and unhuman. Nor is that power a mere control
of dialect. Johannes Vockerat and Michael Kramer, Dr. Scholz and
Professor Crampton speak with a human raciness and native truth not
surpassed by the weavers or peasants of Silesia. Hauptmann has heard the
inflections of the human voice, the faltering and fugitive eloquence of
the living word not only with his ear but with his soul.

External devices necessarily contribute to this effect. Thus Hauptmann
renders all dialect with phonetic accuracy and correct differentiation.
In _Before Dawn_, Hoffmann, Loth, Dr. Schimmelpfennig and Helen speak
normal High German; all the other characters speak Silesian except the
imported footman Edward, who uses the Berlin dialect. In _The Beaver
Coat_ the various gradations of that dialect are scrupulously set down,
from the impudent vulgarity of Leontine and Adelaide, to the occasional
consonantal slips of Wehrhahn. The egregious Mrs. Wolff, in the same
play, cannot deny her Silesian origin. Far finer shades of character are
indicated by the amiable elisions of Mrs. Vockerat Senior in _Lonely
Lives_, the recurrent crassness of Mrs. Scholz in _The Reconciliation_,
and the solemn reiterations of Michael Kramer. Nor must it be thought
that such characterisation has anything in common with the set phrases of
Dickens. From the richness and variety of German colloquial speech, from
the deep brooding of the German soul over the common things and the
enduring emotions of life, Hauptmann has caught the authentic accents
that change dramatic dialogue into the speech of man.



IV

In the structure of his drama Hauptmann met and solved an even more
difficult problem than in the character of his dialogue. The whole
tradition of structural technique rests upon a more or less arbitrary
rearrangement of life. _Othello_, the noblest of tragedies, no less than
the most trivial French farce, depends for the continuity of its mere
action on an improbable artifice. Desdemona's handkerchief may almost be
taken to symbolise that element in the drama which Hauptmann studiously
denies himself. And he does so by reason of his more intimate contact
with the normal truth of things. In life, for instance, the conflict of
will with will, the passionate crises of human existence are but rarely
concentrated into a brief space of time or culminate in a highly salient
situation. Long and wearing attrition, and crises that are seen to have
been such only in the retrospect of calmer years are the rule. In so
telling a bit of dramatic writing as the final scene in Augier's _Le
gendre de M. Poirier_ the material of life has been dissected into mere
shreds and these have been rewoven into a pattern as little akin to
reality as the flowers and birds of a Persian rug. Instead of such
effective rearrangement Hauptmann contents himself with the austere
simplicity of that succession of action which observation really affords.
He shapes his material as little as possible. The intrusion of a new
force into a given setting, as in _Lonely Lives_, is as violent an
interference with the sober course of things as he admits. From his
noblest successes, _The Weavers_, _Drayman Henschel_, _Michael Kramer_,
the artifice of complication is wholly absent.

It follows that his fables are simple and devoid of plot, that comedy and
tragedy must inhere in character and that conflict must grow from the
clash of character with environment or of character with character in its
totality. In other words: since the adventurous and unwonted are rigidly
excluded, dramatic complication can but rarely, with Hauptmann, proceed
from action. For the life of man is woven of "little, nameless,
unremembered acts" which possess no significance except as they
illustrate character and thus, link by link, forge that fate which is
identical with character. The constant and bitter conflict in the world
does not arise from pointed and opposed notions of honour and duty held
at some rare climacteric moment, but from the far more tragic grinding of
a hostile environment upon man or of the imprisonment of alien souls in
the cage of some social bondage.

These two motives, appearing sometimes singly, sometimes blended, are
fundamental to Hauptmann's work. In _The Reconciliation_ an unnatural
marriage has brought discord and depravity upon earth; in _Lonely Lives_
a seeker after truth is throttled by a murky world; in _The Weavers_ the
whole organization of society drives men to tragic despair; in _Colleague
Crampton_ a cold blooded woman all but destroys the gentle-hearted
painter; in _The Beaver Coat_ the motive is ironically inverted and a
base shrewdness triumphs over the stupid social machine; in _Rose Bernd_
traditional righteousness hounds a pure spirit out of life; and in
_Gabriel Schilling's Flight_, his latest play, Hauptmann returns to a
favourite motive: woman, strong through the narrowness and intensity of
her elemental aims, destroying man, the thinker and dreamer, whose will,
dissipated in a hundred ideal purposes, goes under in the unequal
struggle.

The fable and structure of _Michael Kramer_ illustrate Hauptmann's
typical themes and methods well. The whole of the first act is
exposition. It is not, however, the exposition of antecedent actions or
events, but wholly of character. The conditions of the play are entirely
static. Kramer's greatness of soul broods over the whole act. Mrs.
Kramer, the narrow-minded, nagging wife, and Arnold, the homely, wretched
boy with a spark of genius, quail under it. Michaline, the brave,
whole-hearted girl, stands among these, pitying and comprehending all. In
the second act one of Arnold's sordid and piteous mistakes comes to
light. An inn-keeper's daughter complains to Kramer of his son's
grotesque and annoyingly expressed passion for her. Kramer takes his son
to task and, in one of the noblest scenes in the modern drama, wrestles
with the boy's soul. In the third act the inn is shown. Its rowdy,
semi-educated habitués deride Arnold with coarse gibes. He cannot tear
himself away. Madly sensitive and conscious of his final superiority over
a world that crushes him by its merely brutal advantages, he is goaded to
self-destruction. In the last act, in the presence of his dead son,
Michael Kramer cries out after some reconciliation with the silent
universe. The play is done and nothing has happened. The only action is
Arnold's suicide and that action has no dramatic value. The significance
of the play lies in the unequal marriage between Kramer and his wife, in
Arnold's character--in the fact that such things _are_, and that in our
outlook upon the whole of life we must reckon with them.

Hauptmann's simple management of a pregnant fable may be admirably
observed, finally, by comparing _Lonely Lives_ and _Rosmersholm_.
Hauptmann was undoubtedly indebted to Ibsen for his problem and for the
main elements of the story: a modern thinker is overcome by the orthodox
and conservative world in which he lives. And that world conquers largely
because he cannot be united to the woman who is his inspiration and his
strength. In handling this fable two difficult questions were to be
answered by the craftsman: by what means does the hostile environment
crush the protagonist? Why cannot he take the saving hand that is held
out to him? Ibsen practically shirks the answer to the first question.
For it is not the bitter zealot Kroll, despite his newspaper war and his
scandal-mongering, who breaks Rosmer's strength. It is fate, fate in the
dark and ancient sense. "The dead cling to Rosmersholm"--that is the
keynote of the play. The answer to the second question is interwoven with
an attempt to rationalise the fatality that broods over Rosmersholm. The
dead cling to it because a subtle and nameless wrong has been committed
against them. And that sin has been committed by the woman who could save
Rosmer. At the end of the second act Rebecca refuses to be his wife. The
reason for that refusal, dimly prefigured, absorbs his thoughts, and
through two acts of consummate dramaturgic suspense the sombre history is
gradually unfolded. And no vague phrases concerning the ennobling of
humanity can conceal the central fact: the play derives its power from a
traditional plot and a conventional if sound motive--crime and its
discovery, sin and its retribution.

In _Lonely Lives_ the two questions apparently treated in _Rosmersholm_
are answered, not in the terms of effective dramaturgy, but of life
itself. Johannes Vockerat lives in the midst of the world that must undo
him--subtly irritated by all to which his heart clings. Out of that world
he has grown and he cannot liberate himself from it. His good wife and
his admirable parents are bound to the conventional in no base or
fanatical sense. He dare scarcely tell them that their preoccupations,
that their very love, slay the ideal in his soul. And so the pitiless
attrition goes on. There is no action: there is being. The struggle is
rooted in the deep divisions of men's souls, not in unwonted crime or
plotting. And Anna Mahr, the free woman of a freer world, parts from
Johannes because she recognises their human unfitness to take up the
burden of tragic sorrow which any union between them must create. The
time for such things has not come, and may never come. Thus Johannes is
left desolate, powerless to face the unendurable emptiness and decay that
lie before him, destroyed by the conflicting loyalties to personal and
ideal ends which are fundamental to the life of creative thought.



V

Drama, then, which relies so little upon external action, but finds
action rather in "every inner conflict of passions, every consequence
of diverging thoughts," must stress the obscurest expression of such
passions and such thoughts. Since its fables, furthermore, are to arise
from the immediate data of life, it must equally emphasise the
significant factor of those common things amid which man passes his
struggle. And so the naturalistic drama was forced to introduce elements
of narrative and exposition usually held alien to the _genre_. Briefly,
it has dealt largely and powerfully with atmosphere, environment and
gesture; it has expanded and refined the stage-direction beyond all
precedent and made of it an important element in dramatic art.

The playwrights of the middle of the last century who made an effort to
lead the drama back to reality, knew nothing of this element. Augier
does not even suspect its existence; in Robertson it is a matter of
"properties" and "business." Any appearance of this kind Hauptmann
avoids. The play is not to remind us of the stage, but of life. A
difference in vision and method difficult to estimate divides Robertson's
direction: "Sam. (astonished L. corner)" from Hauptmann's "Mrs. John
rises mechanically and cuts a slice from a loaf of bread, as though under
the influence of suggestion." Robertson indicates the conventionalised
gesture of life; Hauptmann its moral and spiritual density.

The descriptive stage direction, effectively used by Ibsen, is further
expanded by Hauptmann. But it remains impersonal and never becomes direct
comment or even argument as in Shaw. It is used not only to suggest the
scene but, above all, its atmosphere, its mood. Through it Hauptmann
shows his keen sense of the interaction of man and his world and of the
high moral expressiveness of common things. To define the mood more
clearly he indicates the hour and the weather. The action of _Rose Bernd_
opens on a bright Sunday morning in May, that of _Drayman Henschel_
during a bleak February dawn. The desperate souls in _The Reconciliation_
meet on a snow-swept Christmas Eve; the sun has just set over the lake in
which Johannes Vockerat finds final peace. In these indications Hauptmann
rarely aims at either irony or symbolism. He is guided by a sense for the
probabilities of life which he expresses through such interactions
between the moods of man and nature as experience seems to offer. Only in
_The Maidens of the Mount_ has the suave autumnal weather a deeper
meaning, for it was clearly Hauptmann's purpose in this play

  "To build a shadowy isle of bliss
  Midmost the beating of the steely sea."

Hauptmann has also become increasingly exacting in demanding that the
actor simulate the personal appearance of his characters as they arose in
his imagination. In his earlier plays the descriptions of men and women
are at times brief; in _The Rats_ even minor figures are visualised with
remarkable completeness. Pastor Spitta, for instance, is thus introduced:
"Sixty years old. A village parson, somewhat 'countrified.' One might
equally well take him to be a surveyor or a landowner in a small way. He
is of vigorous appearance--short-necked, well-nourished, with a squat,
broad face like Luther's. He wears a slouch hat, spectacles, and carries
a cane and a coat over his arm. His clumsy boots and the state of his
other garments show that they have long been accustomed to wind and
weather." Such directions obviously tax the mimetic art of the stage to
the very verge of its power. Thus, by the precision of his directions
both for the scenery and the persons of each play, and by unmistakable
indications of gesture and expression at all decisive moments of dramatic
action, Hauptmann has placed within narrow limits the activity of both
stage manager and actor. He alone is the creator of his drama, and no
alien factitiousness is allowed to obscure its final aim--the creation of
living men.



VI

In the third act of Hauptmann's latest naturalistic play, _The Rats_
(1911), the ex-stage manager Hassenrenter is drawn by his pupil, young
Spitta, into an argument on the nature of tragedy. "Of the heights of
humanity you know nothing," Hassenrenter hotly declares. "You asserted
the other day that in certain circumstances a barber or a scrubwoman
could as fitly be the subject of tragedy as Lady Macbeth or King Lear."
And Spitta reaffirms his heresy in the sentence: "Before art as before
the law all men are equal." From this doctrine Hauptmann has never
departed, although his interpretation of it has not been fanatical.
Throughout his work, however, there is a careful disregard of several
classes of his countrymen: the nobility, the bureaucracy (with the
notable exception of Wehrhahn in _The Beaver Coat_), the capitalists. He
has devoted himself in his prose plays to the life of the common people,
of the middle classes, and of creative thinkers.

The delineation of all these characters has two constant qualities:
objectivity and justice. The author has not merged the sharp outlines of
humanity into the background of his own idiosyncrasy. Ibsen's characters
speak and act as though they had suddenly stepped from another world and
were still haunted by a breath of their strange doom; the people of Shaw
are often eloquent exponents of a theory of character and society which
would never have entered their minds. Hauptmann's men and women are
themselves. No trick of speech, no lurking similarity of thought unites
them. The nearer any two of them tend to approach a recognisable type,
the more magnificently is the individuality of each vindicated. The
elderly middle-class woman, harassed by ignoble cares ignobly borne,
driven by a lack of fortitude into querulousness, and into injustice by
the selfishness of her affections, is illustrated both in Mrs. Scholz and
Mrs. Kramer. But, in the former, bodily suffering and nervous terror have
slackened the moral fibre, and this abnormality speaks in every word and
gesture. Mrs. Kramer is simply average, with the tenacity and the
corroding power of the average.

Another noteworthy group is that of the three Lutheran clergymen: Kolin
in _Lonely Lives_, Kittelhaus in _The Weavers_, and Spitta in _The Rats_.
Kolin has the utter sincerity which can afford to be trivial and not
cease to be lovable; Kittelhaus is the conscious time-server whose
opinions might be anything; Spitta struggles for his official
convictions, half blinded by the allurements of a world which it is his
duty to denounce. Each is wholly himself; no hint of critical irony
defaces his character; and thus each is able, implicitly, to put his case
with the power inherent in the genuinely and recognisably human. From the
same class of temperaments--one that he does not love--Hauptmann has had
the justice to draw two characters of basic importance in _Lonely Lives_.
The elder Vockerats are excessively limited in their outlook upon life.
It is, indeed, in its time and place, an impossible outlook. These two
people have nothing to recommend them save their goodness, but it is a
goodness so keenly felt, so radiantly human, that the conflict of the
play is deepened and complicated by the question whether the real tragedy
be not the pain felt by these kindly hearts, rather than the destruction
of their more arduous son.

All these may be said to be minor characters. Some of them are, in that
they scarcely affect the fable involved. But in no other sense are there
minor figures in Hauptmann's plays. A few lines suffice, and a human
being stands squarely upon the living earth, with all his mortal
perplexities in his words and voice. Such characters are the tutor
Weinhold in _The Weavers_, the painter Lachmann in _Michael Kramer_, Dr.
Boxer in _The Conflagration_ and Dr. Schimmelpfennig in _Before Dawn_.

In his artists and thinkers Hauptmann has illustrated the excessive
nervousness of the age. Michael Kramer rises above it; Johannes Vockerat
and Gabriel Schilling succumb. And beside these men there usually arises
the sharply realised figure of the destroying woman--innocent and
helpless in Käthe Vockerat, trivial and obtuse in Alwine Lachmann, or
impelled by a devouring sexual egotism in Eveline Schilling and Hanna
Elias.

Hauptmann's creative power culminates, however, as he approaches the
common folk. These are of two kinds: the Berlin populace and the Silesian
peasants. The world of the former in all its shrewdness, impudence and
varied lusts he has set down with quiet and cruel exactness in _The
Beaver Coat_ and _The Conflagration_. Mrs. Wolff, the protagonist of both
plays, rises into a figure of epic breadth--a sordid and finally almost
tragic embodiment of worldliness and cunning. When he approaches the
peasants of his own countryside his touch is less hard, his method not
quite so remorseless. And thus, perhaps, it comes about that in the face
of these characters the art of criticism can only set down a
confirmatory: "They are!" Old Deans in _The Heart of Midlothian_,
Tulliver and the Dodson sisters in _The Mill on the Floss_ illustrate the
nature of Hauptmann's incomparable projection of simple men and women.
Here, in Dryden's phrase, is God's plenty: the morose pathos of Beipst
(_Before Dawn_); the vanity and faithfulness of Friebe (_The
Reconciliation_); the sad fatalism of Hauffe (_Drayman Henschel_); the
instinctive kindliness of the nurse and the humorous fortitude of Mrs.
Lehmann (_Lonely Lives_); the vulgar good nature of Liese Bänsch
(_Michael Kramer_); the trivial despair of Pauline and the primitive
passion of Mrs. John (_The Rats_); the massive greatness of old Hilse's
rock-like patience and the sudden impassioned protest of Luise (_The
Weavers_); the deep trouble of Henschel's simple soul and the hunted
purity of Rose Bernd--these qualities and these characters transcend the
convincingness of mere art. Like the rain drenched mould, the black trees
against the sky, the noise of the earth's waters, they are among the
abiding elements of a native and familiar world.



VII

Such, then, is the naturalistic drama of Hauptmann. By employing the real
speech of man, by emphasising being rather than action, by creating the
very atmosphere and gesture of life, it succeeds in presenting characters
whose vital truth achieves the intellectual beauty and moral energy of
great art.

Early in his career, however, an older impulse stirred in Hauptmann. He
remembered that he was a poet. Pledged to naturalism by personal loyalty
and public combat he broke through its self-set limitations tentatively
and invented for that purpose the dream-technique of _The Assumption of
Hannele_(1893). Pure imagination was outlawed in those years and verse
was a pet aversion of the consistent naturalists. Hence both were
transferred to the world of dreams which has an unquestionable reality,
however subjective, but in which the will cannot govern the shaping
faculties of the soul. The letter of the naturalistic law was adhered to,
though Hannele's visions have a richness and sweetness, the verses of the
angels a winsomeness and majesty which transcend any possible dream of
the poor peasant child, The external encouragement which the attempt met
was great, for with it Hauptmann conquered the Royal Playhouse in Berlin.

Three years later he openly vindicated the possibility of the modern
poetic drama by writing _The Sunken Bell_, his most far-reaching success
both on the stage and in the study. In it appears for the first time the
disciplinary effect of naturalism upon literature in its loftiest mood.
The blank verse is the best in the German drama, the only German blank
verse, in truth, that satisfies an ear trained on the graver and more
flexible harmony of English; the lyrical portions are of sufficient if
inferior beauty. But there is no trace of the pseudo-heroic psychology of
the romantic play. The interpretation of life is thoroughly poetic, but
it is based on fact. The characters have tangible reality; they have the
idiosyncrasies of men. The pastor is profoundly true, and so is Magda,
though the interpretative power of poetry raises both into the realm of
the enduringly significant. Similarly Heinrich is himself, but also the
creative worker of all time. Driven by his ideal from the warm
hearthstones of men, he falters upon that frosty height: seeking to
realise impersonal aims and rising to a hardy rapture, he is broken in
strength at last by the "still, sad music of humanity."

Except for the half humorous and not wholly successful interlude of
_Schluck and Jau_, Hauptmann neglected the poetic drama until 1902, when
he presented on the boards of the famous _Burgtheater_ at Vienna, _Henry
of Aue_. There is little doubt but that this play will ultimately rank as
the most satisfying poetic drama of its time. Less derivative and
uncertain in quality than the plays of Stephen Phillips, less fantastic
and externally brilliant than those of Rostand, it has a soundness of
subject matter, a serene nobility of mood, a solidity of verse technique
above the reach of either the French or the English poet. Hauptmann chose
as his subject the legend known for nearly seven hundred years through
the beautiful Middle High German poem of Hartmann von der Aue--the legend
of that great knight and lord who was smitten with leprosy, and whom,
according to the mediaeval belief, a pure maiden desired to heal through
the shedding of her blood. But God, before the sacrifice could be
consummated, cleansed the knight's body and permitted to him and the
maiden a united temporal happiness. This story Hauptmann takes exactly as
he finds it. But the characters are made to live with a new life. The
stark mediaeval conventions are broken and the old legend becomes living
truth. The maiden is changed from an infant saint fleeing a vale of tears
into a girl in whom the first sweet passions of life blend into an
exaltation half sexual and half religious, but pure with the purity of a
great flame. The miracle too remains, but it is the miracle of love that
subdues the despairing heart, that reconciles man to his universe, and
that slays the imperiousness of self. Thus Henry, firmly individualised
as he is, becomes in some sense, like all the greater protagonists of the
drama, the spirit of man confronting eternal and recurrent problems. The
minor figures--Gottfried, Brigitte, Ottacker--have the homely and
delightful truth that is the gift of naturalism to modern, literature.

Hauptman's next play was a naturalistic tragedy, one of the best in that
order, _Rose Bernd._ Then followed, from 1905 to 1910, a series of plays
in which he let the creative imagination range over time and space. In
_Elga_ he tells the story of an old sorrow by means of the dream-technique
of _Hannele;_ in _And Pippa Dances,_ he lets the flame of life and love
flicker its iridescent glory before man and super-man, savage and artist;
in _The Maidens of the Mount_ he celebrates the dream of life which is
life's dearest part; in _Charlemagne's Hostage_ and in _Griselda_ he
returns to the interpretation and humanising of history and legend.

The last of these plays is the most characteristic and important. It
takes up the old story of patient Grizzel which the Clerk of Oxford told
Chaucer's pilgrims on the way to Canterbury. But a new motive animates
the fable. Not to try her patience, not to edify womankind, does the
count rob Griselda of her child. His burning and exclusive love is
jealous of the pangs and triumphs of her motherhood in which he has no
share. It is passion desiring the utter absorption of its object that
gives rise to the tragic element of the story. But over the whole drama
there plays a blithe and living air in which, once more, authentic human
beings are seen with their smiling or earnest faces.

A stern and militant naturalistic drama, _The Rats_ (1911), and yet
another play of the undoing of the artist through the woman, _Gabriel
Schilling's Flight_ (1912), close, for the present, the tale of
Hauptmann's dramatic works.



VIII

These works, viewed in their totality, take on a higher significance than
resides in the literary power of any one of them. Hauptmann's career
began in the years when the natural sciences, not content with their
proper triumphs, threatened to engulf art, philosophy and religion; in
the years when a keen and tender social consciousness, brooding over the
temporal welfare of man, lost sight of his eternal good. And so Hauptmann
begins by illustrating the laws of heredity and pleading, through a
creative medium, for social justice. The tacit assumptions of these early
plays are stringently positivistic: body and soul are the obverse and
reverse of a single substance; earth is the boundary of man's hopes.

With _The Assumption of Hannele_ a change comes over the spirit of his
work. A thin, faint voice vibrates in that play--the voice of a soul
yearning for a warmer ideal. But the rigorous teachers of Hauptmann's
youth had graven their influence upon him, and the new faith announced by
Heinrich in _The Sunken Bell_ is still a kind of scientific paganism. In
_Michael Kramer_ (1900), however, he has definitely conquered the
positivistic denial of the overwhelming reality of the ultimate problems.
For it is after some solution of these that the great heart of Kramer
cries out. In _Henry of Aue_ the universe, no longer a harsh and
monstrous mechanism, irradiates the human soul with the spirit of its own
divinity. These utterances are, to be sure, dramatic and objective. But
the author chooses his subject, determines the spirit of its treatment
and thus speaks unmistakably.

Nor is directer utterance lacking, "The Green Gleam," Hauptmann writes in
the delicately modelled prose of his _Griechischer Frühling_, "the Green
Gleam, which mariners assert to have witnessed at times, appears at the
last moment before the sun dips below the horizon.... The ancients must
have known the Green Gleam.... I do not know whether that be true, but I
feel a longing within me to behold it. I can imagine some Pure Fool,
whose life consisted but in seeking it over lands and seas, in order to
perish at last in the radiance of that strange and splendid light. Are we
not all, perhaps, upon a similar quest? Are we not beings who have
exhausted the realm of the senses and are athirst for other delights for
both our senses and our souls?" The author of _Before Dawn_ has gone a
long journey in the land of the spirit to the writing of these words, and
of still others in _Gabriel Schilling's Flight_: "Behind this visible
world another is hidden, so near at times that one might knock at its
gate...." But it is the journey which man himself has gone upon during
the intervening years.

Thus Hauptmann's work has not only created a new technique of the drama;
it has not only added unforgettable figures to the world of the
imagination: it has also mirrored and interpreted the intellectual
history of its time. His art sums up an epoch--an epoch full of knowledge
and the restraints of knowledge, still prone, so often, before the
mechanical in life and thought; but throughout all its immedicable
scepticism full of strange yearnings and visited by flickering dreams;
and even in its darkest years and days still stretching out hands in love
of a farther shore. Once more the great artist, his vision fixed
primarily upon his art, has most powerfully interpreted man to his own
mind.

LUDWIG LEWISOHN.



BEFORE DAWN



    _The first performance of this drama took place on October 20 in the
    Lessing Theatre under the management of the Free Stage society. I
    take the occasion of the appearance of a new edition to express my
    hearty thanks to the directors of that society and, more especially,
    to Messrs. Otto Brahm and Paul Schlenther. May the future prove that,
    by defying petty considerations and by helping to give life to a work
    that had its origin in pure motives, they have deserved well of
    German art.

    GERHART HAUPTMANN

    Charlottenburg, October 20, 1889_



_ACTING CHARACTERS_


KRAUSE, _Farmer._

MRS. KRAUSE, _his second wife._

HELEN, MARTHA, _KRAUSE'S daughters by his first marriage._

HOFFMANN, _Engineer, MARTHA'S husband._

WILHELM KAHL, _MRS. KRAUSE'S nephew._

MRS. SPILLER, _MRS. KRAUSE'S companion._

ALFRED LOTH.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG.

BEIPST, _Workingman on KRAUSE'S farm._

GUSTE, LIESE, MARIE _Maid-servants on KRAUSE'S farm._

BAER, _called "Hopping Baer."_

EDWARD, _HOFFMANN'S servant._

MIELE, _MRS. KRAUSE'S housemaid._

THE COACHMAN'S WIFE.

GOLISCH, _a Cowherd._

A PACKET POST CARRIER.



THE FIRST ACT


    _The room is low: the floor is covered with excellent rugs. Modern
    luxury seems grafted upon the bareness of the peasant. On the wall,
    behind the dining-table, hangs a picture which represents a waggon
    with four horses driven by a carter in a blue blouse._

    _MIELE, a vigorous peasant girl with a red, rather slow-witted face,
    opens the middle door and permits ALFRED LOTH to enter. LOTH is of
    middle height, broad-shouldered, thick-set, decided but somewhat
    awkward in his movements. His hair is blond, his eyes blue, his small
    moustache thin and very light; his whole face is bony and has an
    equably serious expression. His clothes are neat but nothing less
    than fashionable: light summer overcoat, a wallet hanging from the
    shoulder; cane._

MIELE

Come in, please. I'll call Mr. Hoffmann right off. Won't you take a seat?

    [_The glass-door that leads to the conservatory is violently thrust
    open, and a peasant woman, her face bluish red with rage, bursts in.
    She is not much better dressed than a washerwoman: naked, red arms,
    blue cotton-skirt and bodice, red dotted kerchief. She is in the
    early forties; her face is hard, sensual, malignant. The whole figure
    is, otherwise, well preserved._

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Screams._] The hussies!... That's right!... The vicious critters!...
Out with you! We don't give nothin'!... [_Half to MIELE, half to LOTH._]
He can work, he's got arms. Get out! You don't get nothin' here!

LOTH

But Mrs.... Surely you will ... my name is Loth ... I am ... I'd like to
... I haven't the slightest in....

MIELE

He wants to speak to Mr. Hoffmann.

MRS. KRAUSE

Oho! beggin' from my son-in-law. We know that kind o' thing! He ain't got
nothin'; everything he's got he gets from us. Nothin' is his'n.

    [_The door to the right is opened and HOFFMANN thrusts his head in._

HOFFMANN

Mother, I must really beg of you! [_He enters and turns to LOTH._] What
can I ... Alfred! Old man! Well, I'll be blessed. You? That certainly is
... well, that certainly is a great notion!

    [_HOFFMANN is thirty-three years old, slender, tall, thin. In his
    dress he affects the latest fashion, his hair is carefully tended; he
    wears costly rings, diamond-studs in his shirt-front and charms on
    his watch chain. His hair and moustache are black; the latter is
    luxurious and is most scrupulously cared for. His face is pointed,
    bird-like, the expression blurred, the eyes dark, lively, at times
    restless._

LOTH

It's by the merest accident, you know ...

HOFFMANN

[_Excited._] Nothing pleasanter could have ... Do take your things off,
first of all! [_He tries to help him off with his wallet._]--Nothing
pleasanter or more unexpected could possibly--[_he has relieved LOTH of
his hat and cane and places both on a chair near the door_]--could
possibly have happened to me just now--[_coming back_]--no, decidedly,
nothing.

LOTH

[_Taking off his wallet himself._] It's by the merest chance that I've
come upon you.

    [_He places his wallet on the table in the foreground._

HOFFMANN

Sit down. You must be tired. Do sit down--please! D'you remember when you
used to come to see me you had a way of throwing yourself full-length on
the sofa so that the springs groaned. Sometimes they broke, too. Very
well, then, old fellow. Do as you used to do.

    [_MRS. KRAUSE'S face has taken on an expression of great
    astonishment. She has withdrawn. LOTH sits down on one of the chairs
    that stand around the table in the foreground._

HOFFMANN

Won't you drink something? Whatever you say? Beer? Wine? Brandy? Coffee?
Tea? Everything's in the house.

    [_HELEN comes reading from the conservatory. Her tall form, somewhat
    too plump, the arrangement of her blond, unusually luxuriant hair,
    the expression of her face, her modern gown, her gestures--in brief,
    her whole appearance cannot quite hide the peasant's daughter._

HELEN

Brother, you might.... [_She discovers LOTH and withdraws quickly._] Oh,
I beg pardon.

    [_Exit._

HOFFMANN

Stay here, do!

LOTH

Your wife?

HOFFMANN

No; her sister. Didn't you hear how she addressed me?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

Good-looking, eh? But now, come on. Make up your mind. Coffee? Tea? Grog?

LOTH

No, nothing, thank you.

HOFFMANN

[_Offers him cigars._] Here's something for you then. No!... Not even
that?

LOTH

No, thank you.

HOFFMANN

Enviable frugality! [_He lights a cigar for himself and speaks the
while._] The ashes ... I meant to say, tobacco ... h-m ... smoke of
course ... doesn't bother you, does it?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

Ah, if I didn't get that much ... Good Lord, life anyhow!--But now, do me
a favour; tell me something. Ten years--you've hardly changed much,
though--ten years, a nasty slice of time. How's Schn ... Schnurz? That's
what we called him, eh? And Fips, and the whole jolly bunch of those
days? Haven't you been able to keep your eye on any of them?

LOTH

Look here, is it possible you don't know?

HOFFMANN

What?

LOTH

That he shot himself.

HOFFMANN

Who? Who's done that sort o' thing again?

LOTH

Fips. Friedrich Hildebrandt.

HOFFMANN

Oh come, that's impossible.

LOTH

It's a fact. Shot himself in the Grunewald, on a very beautiful spot on
the shore of the Havelsee. I was there. You have a view toward Spandau.

HOFFMANN

Hm. Wouldn't have believed it of him. He wasn't much of a hero in other
ways.

LOTH

That's the very reason why he shot himself.--He was conscientious, very
conscientious.

HOFFMANN

Conscientious? I don't see.

LOTH

That was the very reason ... otherwise he would probably not have done
it.

HOFFMANN

I'm still in the dark.

LOTH

Well, you know what the colour of his political views was?

HOFFMANN

Oh, yes--green.

LOTH

Put it so, if you want to. You'll have to admit, at all events, that he
was a very gifted fellow. And yet for five years he had to work as a
stucco-worker, and for another five years he had to starve along, so to
speak, on his own hook, and in addition he modelled his little statues.

HOFFMANN

And they were revolting. I want to be cheered by art ... No, that kind of
art wasn't a bit to my taste.

LOTH

Not exactly to mine either. Certain ideas had bitten themselves into his
mind. However, last spring there was a competition for a monument. Some
two-penny princeling was to be immortalised, I believe. Fips competed
and--won. Shortly afterward, he killed himself.

HOFFMANN

I don't see that that throws any ray of light on his so-called
conscientiousness. I call that sort of thing silly and highfalutin.

LOTH

That is the common view.

HOFFMANN

I'm very sorry, but I'm afraid I can't help sharing it.

LOTH

Well, it can make no difference to him now, what....

HOFFMANN

Oh, anyhow, let's drop the subject. At bottom I'm just as sorry for him
as you can be. But now that he is dead, the good fellow, tell me
something of yourself. What have you been doing? How has the world used
you?

LOTH

It has used me as it was my business to expect. Didn't you hear anything
about me at all? From the papers, I mean?

HOFFMANN

[_Somewhat embarrassed._] Not that I know of.

LOTH

Nothing of that business at Leipzig?

HOFFMANN

Ah, yes, that! Yes, yes ... I believe so ... but nothing definite.

LOTH

Well, then, the matter was as follows--

HOFFMANN

[_Laying his hand on LOTH'S arm._] Before you begin, won't you take
anything at all?

LOTH

Perhaps later.

HOFFMANN

Not even a little glass of brandy?

LOTH

No; that least of all.

HOFFMANN

Well, then I'll take a little ... There's nothing better for the stomach.
[_He gets a bottle and two little glasses from the sideboard and places
them on the table before LOTH._] Grand champagne, finest brand. I can
recommend it. Won't you really?

LOTH

No, thank you.

HOFFMANN

[_Tilting the contents of the glass into his mouth._] Ah-h--well, now I'm
all ears.

LOTH

To put it briefly, I got into a nasty mess.

HOFFMANN

The sentence was two years, wasn't it?

LOTH

Quite right. You seem to be informed after all. Yes, I was sentenced to
two years' imprisonment, and afterwards they expelled me from the
university too. And at that time I was just--twenty-one. However, during
those two years I wrote my first book on economics. In spite of that I
couldn't truthfully say that it was very good fun to be behind the bars.

HOFFMANN

Lord, what idiots we were! It's queer. And we had really taken the thing
into our heads in good earnest. I can't help thinking, old man, that it
was sheer puerility. The idea! A dozen green kids like ourselves to go to
America and found ... _we_ found ... a model state. Delicious notion!

LOTH

Puerility? Ah well, in some ways no doubt it was. We certainly
underestimated the difficulty of such an undertaking.

HOFFMANN

And that you really did go to America, in all seriousness, and with empty
hands ... Why, think, man, what it means to acquire land and foundation
for a model state with empty hands. That was almost cr ... At all events
it was unique in its naïveté.

LOTH

And yet I'm particularly satisfied with the result of my American trip.

HOFFMANN

[_Laughing with a touch of boisterousness._] Cold water treatment. That
was an excellent result, if that's what you mean....

LOTH

It may well be that I cooled down quite a little. But that process is
hardly peculiar to myself. It is one which every human being undergoes.
But it's a far cry from that to failing to realise the value of those ...
well, let's call them, our hotheaded days. And it wasn't so frightfully
simple-minded, as you represent it.

HOFFMANN

Well, I don't know about that.

LOTH

All you have to do is to think of the average silliness that surrounded
us in those days: the fraternity goings on at the universities, the
swilling, the duelling. And what was all the noise about? It was about
Hecuba, as Fips used to say. Well, we at least, didn't make a fuss about
Hecuba; we had our attention, fixed on the highest aims of humanity. And,
in addition to that, those silly times cleared me thoroughly of all
prejudices. I took my leave of sham religion and sham morality and a good
deal else....

HOFFMANN

I'm perfectly prepared to admit that much. If, when all's said and done,
I am an open-minded, enlightened man to-day, I owe it, as I wouldn't
dream of denying, to the days of our intercourse! I am the last man to
deny that. In fact I'm not in _any_ respect a monster. Only you mustn't
try to run your head through a stone wall.--You mustn't try to force out
the evils under which, more's the pity, the present generation suffers,
only to replace them by worse ones. What you've got to do is--to let
things take their natural course. What is to be, will be! You've got to
proceed practically, practically! And you will recall that I emphasised
that just as much in those days as now. And that principle has paid. And
that's just it. All of you, yourself included, proceed in a most
unpractical way.

LOTH

I wish you'd explain just how you mean that.

HOFFMANN

It's as simple as ... You don't make use of your capabilities. Take
yourself, for instance: a fellow with your knowledge, energy and what
not! What road would have been closed to you? Instead of going ahead,
what is it you do? You _compromise_ yourself, at the very start, to
_such_ a degree, that ... well, honestly, old man, didn't you regret it
once in a while?

LOTH

I can't very well regret the fact that I was condemned innocently.

HOFFMANN

As to that, of course, I can't judge.

LOTH

You will be able to do so at once when I tell you that the indictment
declared that I had called our club, "Vancouver Island," into being
purely for purposes of party agitation. In addition I was said to have
collected funds for party purposes. Now you know very well that we were
thoroughly in earnest in regard to our ambitions of founding a colony.
And, as far as collecting money goes--you have said yourself that we were
all empty-handed together. The indictment was a misrepresentation from
beginning to end, and, as a former member, you ought to....

HOFFMANN

Hold on, now. I wasn't really a member. As to the rest, of course, I
believe you. Judges are, after all, only human. You must consider that.
In any event, to proceed quite practically, you should have avoided the
very _appearance_ of that sort of thing. Take it all in all: I have
wondered at you often enough since then--editor of the _Workingmen's
Tribune_, the obscurest of hole and corner sheets--parliamentary
candidate of the dear mob! And what did you get out of it all? Don't
misunderstand me! I am the last man to be lacking in sympathy with the
common people. But _if_ something is to be effected, it must be effected
from above. In fact that's the only way in which anything can be done.
The people never know what they really need. It's this trying to lift
things from beneath that I call--running your head through a stone wall.

LOTH

I'm afraid I don't get a very clear notion of your drift.

HOFFMANN

What I mean? Well now, look at me! My hands are free: I am in a position
to do something for an ideal end.--I think I can say that the practical
part of my programme has been pretty well carried out. And all you
fellows, always with empty hands--what can you do?

LOTH

True. From what one hears you are in a fair way to become a Rothschild.

HOFFMANN

[_Flattered._] You do me too much honour--at least, for the present. Who
said that, anyhow? A man sticks to a good thing, and that, naturally,
brings its reward. But who was it said that?

LOTH

It was over there in Jauer. Two gentlemen were conversing at the next
table.

HOFFMANN

Aha! H-m. I have enemies. And what did they have to say?

LOTH

Nothing of importance. But I heard from them that you had retired for the
present to the estate of your parents-in-law.

HOFFMANN

People have a way of finding things out; haven't they? My dear friend,
you'd never believe how a man in my position is spied on at every step.
That's another one of the evils of wealth ... But it is this way, you
see: I'm expecting the confinement of my wife in the quiet and the
healthy air here.

LOTH

What do you do for a physician? Surely in such cases a good physician is
of the highest importance. And here, in this village....

HOFFMANN

Ah, but that's just it! The physician here is an unusually capable one.
And, do you know, I've found this out: in a doctor, conscientiousness
counts for more than genius.

LOTH

Perhaps it is an essential concomitant of a physician's genius.

HOFFMANN

Maybe so. Anyhow, our doctor _has_ a conscience. He's a bit of an
idealist--more or less our kind. His success among the miners and the
peasants is simply phenomenal! Sometimes, I must say, he isn't an easy
man to bear, he's got a mixture of hardness and sentimentality. But, as I
said before, I know how to value conscientiousness; no doubt about that.
But before I forget ... I do attach some importance to it ... a man ought
to know what he has to look out for ... Listen!... Tell me ... I see it
in your face. Those gentlemen at the next table had nothing good to say
of me? Tell me, please, what they did say.

LOTH

I really ought not to do that, for I was going to beg one hundred crowns
of you, literally beg, for there is hardly any chance of my ever being
able to return them.

HOFFMANN

[_Draws a cheque-book from his inner pocket, makes out a cheque and hands
it to LOTH._] Any branch of the Imperial Bank will cash it ... It's
simply a pleasure....

LOTH

Your promptness surpasses all expectation. Well, I accept it with,
gratitude, and you know--it could be worse spent.

HOFFMANN

[_Somewhat rhetorically._] A labourer is worthy of his hire. But now,
Loth, have the goodness to tell me what the gentlemen in question....

LOTH

I dare say they talked nonsense.

HOFFMANN

Tell me in spite of that, please. I'm simply interested, quite simply
interested--that's all.

LOTH

They discussed the fact that you had violently forced another man out of
his position here--a contractor named Mueller.

HOFFMANN

_Of_ course! The same old story.

LOTH

The man, they said, was betrothed to your present wife.

HOFFMANN

So he was. And what else?

LOTH

I tell you these things just as I heard them, for I assume that it is of
some importance to you to be acquainted with the exact nature of the
slander.

HOFFMANN

Quite right. And so?

LOTH

So far as I could make out this Mueller was said to have had the contract
for the construction of a stretch of mountain railroad here.

HOFFMANN

Yes, with a wretched capital of ten thousand crowns. When he came to see
that the money wouldn't go far enough, he was in haste to make a catch of
one of the Witzdorf farmers' daughters; the honour was to have fallen to
my wife.

LOTH

They said that he had his arrangement with the daughter, and you had made
yours with the father.--Next he shot himself, didn't he?--And you
finished the construction of his section of the road and made a great
deal of money out of it?

HOFFMANN

There's an element of truth in all that. Of course, I could give you a
very different notion of how those things hung together. Perhaps they
knew a few more of these edifying anecdotes.

LOTH

There was one thing, I am bound to tell you, that seemed to excite them
particularly: they computed what an enormous business you were doing in
coal now, and they called you--well, it wasn't exactly flattering. In
short they asserted that you had persuaded the stupid farmers of the
neighbourhood, over some champagne, to sign a contract by which the
exploitation of all the coal mined on their property was turned over to
you at a ridiculously small rental.

HOFFMANN

[_Touched on the raw, gets up._] I'll tell you something, Loth ... Pshaw,
why concern oneself with it at all. I vote that we think of supper. I'm
savagely hungry--yes, quite savagely.

    [_He presses the button of an electric connection, the wire of which
    hangs down over the sofa in the form of a green cord. The ringing of
    an electric bell is heard._

LOTH

Well, if you want to keep me here, then have the kindness ... I'd like to
brush up a bit first.

HOFFMANN

In a moment--everything that's necessary ... [_EDWARD, a servant in
livery, enters._] Edward, take this gentleman to the guest chamber.

EDWARD

Very, well, sir.

HOFFMANN

[_Pressing LOTH'S hand._] I wonder if you'd mind coming down to supper in
about fifteen minutes--at most.

LOTH

That's ample time. See you later.

HOFFMANN

Yes, see you later.

    [_EDWARD opens the door and lets LOTH precede him. Both go out.
    HOFFMANN scratches the back of his head, looks thoughtfully at the
    floor and then approaches the door at the right. He has just touched
    the knob when HELEN, who has entered hastily by the glass door, calls
    to him._

HELEN

Brother! Who was that?

HOFFMANN

That was one of my college chums, in fact, the oldest of them, Alfred
Loth.

HELEN

[_Quickly._] Has he gone again?

HOFFMANN

No; he's going to eat supper with us. Possibly ... yes, possibly he may
spend the night here.

HELEN

Heavens! Then I shan't come to supper.

HOFFMANN

But Helen!

HELEN

What is the use of my meeting cultivated people! I might just as well get
as boorish as all the rest here!

HOFFMANN

Oh, these eternal fancies! In fact you will do me a real favour if you
will order the arrangements for supper. Be so kind. I'd like to have
things a bit festive, because I believe that he has something up his
sleeve.

HELEN

What do you mean by that: has something up his sleeve?

HOFFMANN

Mole's work ... digging, digging.--You can't possibly understand that.
Anyhow, I may be mistaken, for I've avoided touching on that subject so
far. At all events, have everything as inviting as possible. That's the
easiest way, after all, of accomplishing something with people ...
Champagne, of course. Have the lobsters come from Hamburg?

HELEN

I believe they came this morning.

HOFFMANN

Very well. Then--lobsters! [_A violent knocking is heard._] Come in!

PARCEL POST CARRIER

[_Enters with a box under his arm. His voice has a sing-song
inflection._] A box.

HELEN

Where from?

PARCEL POST CARRIER

Ber-lin.

HOFFMANN

Quite right. No doubt the baby's outfit from Hertzog. [_He looks at the
package and takes the bill._] Yes, these are the things from Hertzog.

HELEN

This whole box full. Oh, that's overdoing!

    _HOFFMANN pays the carrier._

PARCEL POST CARRIER

[_Still in his sing-song._] I wish you a good evening.

    [_Exit._

HOFFMANN

Why is that overdoing?

HELEN

Why, because there's enough here to fit out at least three babies.

HOFFMANN

Did you take a walk with my wife?

HELEN

What am I to do if she's so easily tired?

HOFFMANN

Nonsense! Easily tired! She makes me utterly wretched! An hour and a half
... I wish, for goodness' sake, she would do as the doctor orders. What
is the use of having a doctor, if....

HELEN

Then put your foot down and get rid of that Spiller woman! What am I to
do against an old creature like that who always confirms her in her own
notions!

HOFFMANN

But what can I do--a man--a mere man? And, furthermore, you know my
mother-in-law! Don't you?

HELEN

[_Bitterly._] I do.

HOFFMANN

Where is she now?

HELEN

Spiller has been getting her up in grand style ever since Mr. Loth came.
She will probably go through one of her performances at supper.

HOFFMANN

[_Once more absorbed in his own thoughts and pacing the room,
violently._] This is the last time, I give you my word, that I'm going to
await such things in this house--the last time, so help me!

HELEN

Yes, you're lucky. You can go where you please.

HOFFMANN

In my house the wretched relapse into that frightful vice would most
certainly not have occurred.

HELEN

Don't make me responsible for it. She did not get the brandy from me! Get
rid of the Spiller woman, I tell you. Oh, if only I were a man!

HOFFMANN

[_Sighing._] Oh, if only it were over and done with!--[_Speaking from the
door to the right._] Anyhow, sister, do me the favour and have the
supper-table really appetising. I'll just attend to a little matter
meanwhile.

HELEN

[_Rings the electric bell. MIELE enters._] Miele, set the table, and tell
Edward to put champagne on ice and open four dozen oysters.

MIELE

[_With sullen impudence._] You c'n tell him yer-self. He don't take
orders from me. He's always sayin' he was hired by Mr. Hoffmann.

HELEN

Then, at least, send him in to me.

    [_MIELE goes. HELEN steps in front of the mirror and adjusts various
    details in her toilet. In the meantime EDWARD enters._

HELEN

[_Still before the mirror._] Edward, put champagne on ice and open
oysters. Mr. Hoffmann wishes it.

EDWARD

Very well, Miss.

    [_As EDWARD leaves, a knocking is heard at the middle door._

HELEN

[_Startled._] Dear me! [_Timidly._] Come in! [_Louder and more firmly._]
Come in!

LOTH

[_Enters without bowing._] Ah, I beg pardon. I didn't mean to intrude. My
name is Loth.

    _HELEN bows. Her gesture smacks of the dancing school._

HOFFMANN

[_His voice is heard through the closed door._] My dear people: don't be
formal! I'll be with you in a moment. Loth, my sister-in-law, Helen
Krause! And, sister, my friend, Alfred Loth! Please consider yourselves
introduced.

HELEN

Oh, what a way of....

LOTH

I don't take it ill of him. As I have often been told, I am myself more
than half a barbarian when correct manners are concerned. But if I
intruded upon you, I....

HELEN

Not in the least; oh, not in the least, believe me. [_A pause of
constraint._] Indeed, indeed, it is most kind of you to have looked up my
brother-in-law. He often complains that ... rather, regrets that the
friends of his youth have forgotten him so entirely.

LOTH

Yes, it just happened so this time. I've always been in Berlin and
thereabouts and had no idea what had become of Hoffmann. I haven't been
back in Silesia since my student days at Breslau.

HELEN

And so you came upon him quite by chance.

LOTH

Yes, quite--and, what is more, in the very spot where I've got to pursue
my investigations.

HELEN

Investigations in Witzdorf! In this wretched little hole. Ah, you're
jesting. It isn't possible.

LOTH

You say: wretched? Yet there is a very unusual degree of wealth here.

HELEN

Oh, of course, in that respect....

LOTH

I've been continually astonished. I can assure you that such farms are
not to be found elsewhere; they seem literally steeped in abundance.

HELEN

You are quite right. There's more than one stable here in which the cows
and horses feed from marble mangers and racks of German silver! It is all
due to the coal which was found under our fields and which turned the
poor peasants rich almost in the twinkling of an eye. [_She points to the
picture in the background._] Do you see--my grandfather was a freight
carter. The little property here belonged to him, but he could not get a
living out of his bit of soil and so he had to haul freight. That's a
picture of him in his blue blouse; they still wore blouses like that in
those days. My father, when he was young, wore one too.--No! When I said
"wretched" I didn't mean that. Only it's so desolate here. There's
nothing, nothing for the mind. Life is empty ... it's enough to kill one.

    _MIELE and EDWARD pass to and fro, busy laying the table to the right
    in the background._

LOTH

Aren't there balls or parties once in a while?

HELEN

Not even that! The farmers gamble, hunt, drink ... What is there to be
seen all the long day? [_She has approached the window and points out._]
_Such_ figures, mainly.

LOTH

H-m! Miners.

HELEN

Some are going to the mine, some are coming from the mine: all day, all
day ... At least, I seem always to see them. Do you suppose I even care
to go into the street alone? At most I slip through the back gate out
into the fields. And they are such a rough set! The way they stare at
one--so menacing and morose as if one were actually guilty of some crime.
Sometimes, in winter, when we go sleighing, they come in the darkness, in
great gangs, over the hills, through the storm, and, instead of making
way, they walk stubbornly in front of the horses. Then, sometimes the
farmers use the handles of their whips; it's the only way they can get
through. And then the miners curse behind us. Ugh! I've been so terribly
frightened sometimes!

LOTH

And isn't it strange that I have come here for the sake of these very
people of whom you are so much afraid.

HELEN

Oh, surely not....

LOTH

Quite seriously. These people interest me more than any one else here.

HELEN

No one excepted?

LOTH

No one.

HELEN

Not even my brother-in-law?

LOTH

No! For my interest in these people is different and of an altogether
higher nature. But you must forgive me ... You can't be expected to
follow me there.

HELEN

And why not? Indeed, I understand you very well ... [_She drops a letter
inadvertently which LOTH stoops to pick up._] Don't bother ... it's of no
importance; only an indifferent boarding-school correspondence.

LOTH

So you went to boarding-school?

HELEN

Yes, in Herrnhut. You mustn't think that I'm so wholly ... No, no, I do
understand.

LOTH

You see, these workingmen interest me for their own sake.

HELEN

To be sure. And a miner like that is very interesting, if you look upon
him in that way. Why, there are places where you never see one; but If
you have them daily before your eyes ...

LOTH

Even if you have them daily before your eyes, Miss Krause. Indeed. I
think that is necessary if one is to discover what is truly interesting
about them.

HELEN

Dear me! If it's so hard to discover--I mean what is interesting about
them!

LOTH

Well; it is interesting, for instance that these people, as you say,
always look so menacing and so morose.

HELEN

Why do you think that _that_ is particularly interesting?

LOTH

Because it is not the usual thing. The rest of us look that way only
sometimes and by no means always.

HELEN

Yes, but why do they always look so ... so full of hatred and so surly?
There must be some reason for that.

LOTH

Just so. And it is this very reason that I am anxious to discover.

HELEN

Oh, don't!... Now you're making fun of me! What good would it do you,
even if you knew that?

LOTH

One might perhaps find ways and means to remove the cause that makes
these people so joyless and so full of hatred; one might perhaps make
them happier.

HELEN

[_Slightly confused._] I must confess freely that now ... And yet perhaps
just now I begin to understand you a little. Only it is so strange, so
new, so utterly new ...

HOFFMANN

[_Entering through the door at the right. He has a number of letters in
his hand._] Well, here I am again.--Edward, see to it that these letters
reach the post-office before eight o'clock. [_He hands the letters to the
servant, who withdraws._] Well, dear people, now we can eat! Outrageously
hot here! September and such heat! [_He lifts a bottle of champagne from
the cooler. _] Veuve Cliquot! Edward knows my secret passions! [_He turns
to LOTH._] You've had quite a lively argument, eh? [_Approaches the
table, which has now been laid and which groans under delicacies. Rubbing
his hands._] Well, that looks very good indeed! [_With a sly look in
LOTH'S direction._] Don't you think it does?--By the way, sister! We're
going to have company: William Kahl. He has been seen in the yard.

    _HELEN makes a gesture of disgust._

HOFFMANN

My dear girl! You almost act as if I ... How can I help it? D'you suppose
I invited him? [_Heavy steps are heard in the outer hall._] Ah!
"Misfortune strides apace!"

    _KAHL enters without having first knocked. He is twenty-four years
    old: a clumsy peasant who is evidently concerned, so far as possible,
    to make a show not only as a refined but, more especially, as a
    wealthy man. His features are coarse; his predominant expression is
    one of stupid cunning. He wears a green jacket, a gay velvet
    waist-coat, dark trousers and patent-leather top-boots. His
    head-covering is a green forester's hat with a cock's feather. His
    jacket has buttons of stag's horn and stag's teeth depend from his
    watch-chain. He stammers._

KAHL

G-good evening everybody!

    [_He sees LOTH, is much embarrassed and, standing still, cuts a
    rather sorry figure._

HOFFMANN

[_Steps up to him and shakes hands with him encouragingly._] Good
evening, Mr. Kahl.

HELEN

[_Ungraciously._] Good evening.

KAHL

[_Strides with heavy steps diagonally across the room to HELEN and takes
her hand._] Evenin' t'you, Nellie.

HOFFMANN

[_To LOTH._] Permit me to introduce our neighbour's son, Mr. Kahl.

    [_KAHL grins and fidgets with his hat. Constrained silence._

HOFFMANN

Come, let's sit down, then. Is anybody missing? Ah, our mama! Miele,
request Mrs. Krause to come to supper.

    [_MIELE leaves by the middle door._

MIELE

[_Is heard in the hall, calling out._] Missus! Missus!! You're to come
down--to come'n eat!

    [_HELEN and HOFFMANN exchange a look of infinite comprehension and
    laugh. Then, by a common impulse, they look at LOTH._

HOFFMANN

[_To LOTH._] Rustic simplicity!

    _MRS. KRAUSE appears, incredibly overdressed. Silk and costly jewels.
    Her dress and bearing betray hard arrogance, stupid pride and
    half-mad vanity._

HOFFMANN

Ah, there is mama! Permit me to introduce to you my friend Dr. Loth.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Half-curtsies, peasant-fashion._] I take the liberty! [_After a brief
pause._] Eh, but Doctor, you mustn't bear me a grudge, no, you mustn't at
all. I've got to excuse myself before you right away--[_she speaks with
increasing fluency_]--excuse myself on account o' the way I acted a while
ago. You know, y'understan', we' get a powerful lot o' tramps here right
along ... 'Tain't reasonable to believe the trouble we has with them
beggars. And they steals exackly like magpies. It ain't as we're stingy.
We don't have to be thinkin' and thinkin' before we spends a penny, no,
nor before we spends a pound neither. Now, old Louis Krause's wife, she's
a close one, worst kind you see, she wouldn't give a crittur that much!
Her old man died o' rage because he lost a dirty little two-thousand,
playin' cards. No, we ain't that kind. You see that sideboard over there.
That cost me two hundred crowns, not countin' the freight even. Baron
Klinkow hisself couldn't have nothin' better.

    _MRS. SPILLER has entered shortly after MRS. KRAUSE. She is small,
    slightly deformed and gotten up in her mistress's cast-off garments.
    While MRS. KRAUSE is speaking she looks up at her with a certain
    devout attention. She is about fifty-five years old. Every time she
    exhales her breath she utters a gentle moan, which is regularly
    audible, even when she speaks, as a soft_--m.

MRS. SPILLER

[_In a servile, affectedly melancholy, minor tone. Very softly._] His
lordship has exactly the identical sideboard--m--.

HELEN

[_To MRS. KRAUSE._] Mama, don't you think we had better sit down first
and then--

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Turns with lightning-like rapidity to HELEN and transfixes her with a
withering look; harshly and masterfully._] Is that proper?

    [_She is about to sit down but remembers that grace has not been
    said. Mechanically she folds her hands without, however, mastering
    her malignity._

MRS. SPILLER

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. May thy gifts to us be blest.

    [_All take their seats noisily. The embarrassing situation is tided
    over by the passing and repassing of dishes, which takes some time._

HOFFMANN

[_To LOTH._] Help yourself, old fellow, won't you? Oysters?

LOTH

I'll try them. They're the first I've ever eaten.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Has just sucked down an oyster noisily._] This season, you mean.

LOTH

No, I mean at all.

    [_MRS. KRAUSE and MRS. SPILLER exchange a look._

HOFFMANN

[_To KAHL, who is squeezing a lemon with his teeth._] Haven't seen you
for two days, Mr. Kahl. Have you been busy shooting mice?

KAHL

N-naw ...

HOFFMANN

[_To LOTH._] Mr. Kahl, I must tell you, is passionately fond of hunting.

KAHL

M-m-mice is i-infamous amphibies.

HELEN

[_Bursts out._] It's too silly. He can't see anything wild or tame
without killing it.

KAHL

Las' night I sh-shot our ol' s-sow.

LOTH

Then I suppose that shooting is your chief occupation.

MRS. KRAUSE

Mr. Kahl, he just does that fer his own private pleasure.

MRS. SPILLER

Forest, game and women--as his Excellency the Minister von Schadendorf
often used to say.

KAHL

'N d-day after t-t'morrow we're g-goin' t' have p-pigeon sh-sh-shooting.

LOTH

What is that--pigeon shooting?

HELEN

Ah, I can't bear such things. Surely it's a very merciless sport. Rough
boys who throw stones at window panes are better employed.

HOFFMANN

You go too far, Helen.

HELEN

I don't know. According to my feeling it's far more sensible to break
windows, than to tether pigeons to a post and then shoot bullets into
them.

HOFFMANN

Well, Helen, after all, you must consider ...

LOTH

[_Using his knife and fork with energy._] It is a shameful barbarity.

KAHL

Aw! _Them_ few pigeons!

MRS. SPILLER

[_To LOTH._] Mr. Kahl, you know, has m-more than two-hundred of them in
his dove-cote.

LOTH

All hunting is barbarity.

HOFFMANN

But an ineradicable one. Just now, for instance, five hundred live foxes
are wanted in the market, and all foresters in this neighbourhood and in
other parts of Germany are busy snaring the animals.

LOTH

What are all those foxes wanted for?

HOFFMANN

They are sent to England, where they will enjoy the honour of being
hunted from their very cages straight to death by members of the
aristocracy.

LOTH

Mohammedan or Christian--a beast's a beast.

HOFFMANN

May I pass you some lobster, mother?

MRS. KRAUSE

I guess so. They're good this here season.

MRS. SPILLER

Madame has such a delicate palate.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_To LOTH._] I suppose you ain't ever et lobsters neither, Doctor?

LOTH

Yes, I have eaten lobsters now and then--in the North, by the sea, in
Warnemuende, where I was born.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_To KAHL._] Times an' times a person don't know what _to_ eat no more.
Eh, William.

KAHL

Y-y're r-right there, cousin, G-God knows.

EDWARD

[_Is about to pour champagne into LOTH'S glass._] Champagne, sir.

LOTH

[_Covers his glass with his hand._] No, thank you.

HOFFMANN

Come now, don't be absurd.

HELEN

What? Don't you drink?

LOTH

No, Miss Krause.

HOFFMANN

Well, now, look here, old man. That is, you must admit, rather tiresome.

LOTH

If I were to drink I should only grow more tiresome.

HELEN

That is most interesting, Doctor.

LOTH

[_Untactfully._] That I grow even more tiresome when I drink wine?

HELEN

[_Somewhat taken aback._] No, oh, no. But that you do not drink ... do
not drink at all, I mean.

LOTH

And why is that particularly interesting?

HELEN

[_Blushing._] It is not the usual thing.

    [_She grows redder and more embarrassed._

LOTH

[_Clumsily._] You are quite right, unhappily.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_To LOTH._] It costs us fifteen shillin's a bottle. You needn't be
scared to drink it. We gets it straight from Rheims; we ain't givin' you
nothin' cheap; we wouldn't want it ourselves.

MRS. SPILLER

Ah, you can believe--m-me, Doctor: if his Excellency, the Minister von
Schadendorf, had been able to keep _such_ a table ...

KAHL

I couldn't live without my wine.

HELEN

[_To LOTH._] Do tell us why you don't drink?

LOTH

I'll do that very gladly, I ...

HOFFMANN

Oh, pshaw, old fellow. [_He takes the bottle from the servant in order to
press the wine upon LOTH._] Just think how many merry hours we used to
spend in the old days ...

LOTH

Please don't take the trouble ...

HOFFMANN

Drink to-day--this one time.

LOTH

It's quite useless.

HOFFMANN

As a special favour to me.

    [_HOFFMANN is about to pour the wine; LOTH resists. A slight conflict
    ensues._

LOTH

No, no ... as I said before ... No!... no, thank you.

HOFFMANN

Don't be offended, but that, surely, is a mere foolish whim.

KAHL

[_To MRS. SPILLER._] A man that don't want nothin' has had enough.

    [_MRS. SPILLER nods resignedly._

HOFFMANN

Anyhow, if you let a man have his will what more can you do for him. But
I can tell you this much: without a glass of wine at dinner ...

LOTH

And a glass of beer at breakfast ...

HOFFMANN

Very well; why not? A glass of beer is a very healthy thing.

LOTH

And a nip of brandy now and then ...

HOFFMANN

Ah, well, if one couldn't get that much out of life! You'll never succeed
in making an ascetic of me. You can't rob life of every stimulus.

LOTH

I'm not so sure of that. I am thoroughly content with the normal stimuli
that reach my nervous system.

HOFFMANN

And a company that sit together with dry throats always has been and
always will be a damnably weary and boresome one--with which, as a rule,
I'd care to have very little to do.

MRS. KRAUSE

An' all them aristocrats drinks a whole lot.

MRS. SPILLER

[_Devoutly confirming her mistress' remark by an inclination of her
body._] It is easy for gentlemen to drink a great deal of wine.

LOTH

[_To HOFFMANN._] My experience is quite to the contrary. As a rule, I am
bored at a table where a great deal is drunk.

HOFFMANN

Oh, of course, it's got to be done in moderation.

LOTH

What do you call moderation?

HOFFMANN

Well, so long as one is in possession of one's senses ...

LOTH

Aha! Then you do admit that, in general, the consumption of alcohol does
endanger the possession of one's senses? And for that reason, you see, I
find tavern parties such a bore.

HOFFMANN

Are you afraid of losing possession of your senses so easily?

KAHL

T'-t'other d-day I drank a b-bottle o' R-Rhine-wine, _an'_ another o'
ch-champagne. An' on top o' that an-n-nother o' B-Bordeaux--an' I wan't
drunk by half.

LOTH

[_To HOFFMANN._] Oh no. You know well enough that it was I who took you
fellows home when you'd been taking too much. And I still have the same
tough old system. No, I'm not afraid on that account.

HOFFMANN

Well, then, what is it?

HELEN

Yes, why is it really that you don't drink? Do tell us!

LOTH

[_To HOFFMANN._] In order to satisfy you then: I do not drink to-day, if
for no other reason but because I have given my word of honour to avoid
spirituous liquors.

HOFFMANN

In other words, you've sunk to the level of a temperance fanatic.

LOTH

I am a total abstainer.

HOFFMANN

And for how long, may one ask, have you gone in for this--

LOTH

For life.

HOFFMANN

[_Throws down his knife and fork and half starts up from his chair._]
Well, I'll be ... [_He sits down again._] Now, frankly, you must forgive
me, but I never thought you so--childish.

LOTH

You may call it so if you please.

HOFFMANN

But how in the world did you get into that kind of thing?

HELEN

Surely, for such a resolution you must have a very weighty cause--it
seems so to me, at least.

LOTH

Undoubtedly such a reason exists. You probably do not know, Miss Krause,
nor you either, Hoffmann, what an appalling part alcohol plays in modern
life ... Read Bunge, if you desire to gain an idea of it. I happen to
remember the statements of a writer named Everett concerning the
significance of alcohol in the life of the United States. His facts cover
a space of ten years. In these ten years, according to him, alcohol has
devoured directly a sum of three thousand millions of dollars and
indirectly of six hundred millions. It has killed three hundred thousand
people, it has driven thousands of others into prisons and poor-houses;
it has caused two thousand suicides at the least. It has caused the loss
of at least ten millions through fire and violent destruction; it has
rendered no less than twenty thousand women, widows, and no less than one
million children, orphans. Worst of all, however, are the far-reaching
effects of alcohol which extend to the third and fourth generation.--Now,
had I pledged myself never to marry, I might perhaps drink, but as it
is--My ancestors, as I happen to know, were all not only healthy and
robust but thoroughly temperate people. Every movement that I make, every
hardship that I undergo, every breath that I draw brings what I owe them
more deeply home to me. And that, you see, is the point; I am absolutely
determined to transmit undiminished to my posterity this heritage which
is mine.

MRS. KRAUSE

Look here, son-in-law, them miners o' ours do drink a deal too much. I
guess that's true.

KAHL

They swills like pigs.

HELEN

And such, things are hereditary?

LOTH

There are families who are ruined by it--families of dipsomaniacs.

KAHL

[_Half to MRS. KRAUSE; half to HELEN._] Your old man--he's goin' it
pretty fast, too.

HELEN

[_White as a sheet, vehemently._] Oh, don't talk nonsense.

MRS. KRAUSE

Eh, but listen to the impident hussy. You might think she was a princess!
You're tryin' to play bein' a grand lady, I s'ppose! That's the way she
goes fer her future husband. [_To LOTH, pointing to KAHL._] That's him,
you know; they're promised; it's all arranged.

HELEN

[_Jumping up._] Stop! or ... _Stop_, mother, or I ...

MRS. KRAUSE

Well, I do declare! Say, Doctor, is that what you call eddication, eh?
God knows, I treat her as if she was my own child, but that's a little
too much.

HOFFMANN

[_Soothingly._] Ah, mother, do me the favour....

MRS. KRAUSE

No-o! I don't see why. Such a goose like that ... That's an end o' all
justice ... such a sl...!

HOFFMANN

Oh, but mother, I must really beg of you to control--

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Doubly enraged._] Instead o' sich a crittur takin' a hand on the
farm.... God forbid! She pulls her sheets 'way over her ears. But her
Schillers and her Goethes and sich like stinkin' dogs--that can't do
nothin' but lie; they c'n turn her head. It's enough to make you sick!

    [_She stops, quivering with rage._

HOFFMANN

[_Trying to pacify her._] Well, well--she will be all right now ...
perhaps it wasn't quite right ... perhaps....

    [_He beckons to HELEN, who in her excitement has drawn aside, and the
    girl, fighting down her tears, returns to her place._

HOFFMANN

[_Interrupting the painful silence that has followed, to LOTH._] Ah, yes
... what were we talking about? To be sure, of good old alcohol. [_He
raises his glass._] Well, mother, let us have peace. Come,--we'll drink a
toast in peace, and honour alcohol by being peaceful. [_MRS. KRAUSE,
although somewhat rebelliously, clinks glasses with him._] What, Helen,
and your glass is empty.... I say, Loth, you've made a proselyte.

HELEN

Ah ... no ... I....

MRS. SPILLER

But, dear Miss Helen, that looks sus--

HOFFMANN

You weren't always so very particular.

HELEN

[_Pertly._] I simply have no inclination to drink to-day. That's all.

HOFFMANN

Oh, I beg your pardon, very humbly indeed ... Let me see, what were we
talking about?

LOTH

We were saying that there were whole families of dipsomaniacs.

HOFFMANN

[_Embarrassed anew._] To be sure, to be sure, but ... er....

    [_Growing anger is noticeable in the behaviour of MRS. KRAUSE. KAHL
    is obviously hard put to it to restrain his laughter concerning
    something that seems to furnish him immense inner amusement. HELEN
    observes KAHL with burning eyes and her threatening glance has
    repeatedly restrained him from saying something that is clearly on
    the tip of his tongue. LOTH, peeling an apple with a good deal of
    equanimity, has taken no notice of all this._

LOTH

What is more, you seem to be rather blessed with that sort of thing
hereabouts.

HOFFMANN

[_Almost beside himself._] Why? How? Blessed with what?

LOTH

With drunkards, of course.

HOFFMANN

H-m! Do you think so ... ah ... yes ... I dare say--the miners....

LOTH

Not only the miners. Here, in the inn, where I stopped before I came to
you, there sat a fellow, for instance, this way.

    [_He rests both elbows on the table, supports his head, with his
    hands and stares at the table._

HOFFMANN

Really?

    [_His embarrassment has now reached its highest point; MRS. KRAUSE
    coughs; HELEN still commands KAHL with her eyes. His whole body
    quivers with internal laughter, but he is still capable of enough
    self-command not to burst out._

LOTH

I'm surprised that you don't know this, well, one might almost say, this
matchless example of his kind. It's the inn next door to your house. I
was told that the man is an immensely rich farmer of this place who
literally spends his days and years in the same tap-room drinking
whiskey. Of course he's a mere animal to-day. Those frightfully vacant,
drink-bleared eyes with which he stared at me!

    [_KAHL, who has restrained himself up to this point, breaks out in
    coarse, loud, irrepressible laughter, so that LOTH and HOFFMANN, dumb
    with astonishment, stare at him._

KAHL

[_Stammering out through his laughter._] By the Almighty, that was....
Oh, sure, sure--that was the ol' man.

HELEN

[_Jumps up, horrified and indignant. She crushes her napkin and flings it
on the table._] You are.... [_With a gesture of utter loathing._] Oh, you
are....

    [_She withdraws swiftly._

KAHL

[_Violently breaking through the constraint which arises from his
consciousness of having committed a gross blunder._] Oh, pshaw!... It's
too dam' foolish! I'm goin' my own ways. [_He puts on his hat and says,
without turning back:_] Evenin'.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Calls out after him._] Don' know's I c'n blame you, William. [_She
folds her napkin and calls_:] Miele! [_MIELE enters._] Clear the table!
[_To herself, but audibly._] Sich a goose!

HOFFMANN

[_Somewhat angry._] Well, mother, honestly, I must say....

MRS. KRAUSE

You go and...!

    [_Arises; exits quickly._

MRS. SPILLER

Madame--m--has had a good many domestic annoyances to-day--m--. I will
now respectfully take my leave.

    [_She rises, prays silently with upturned eyes for a moment and then
    leaves._

    _MIELE and EDWARD clear the table. HOFFMANN has arisen and comes to
    the foreground. He has a toothpick in his mouth. LOTH follows him._

HOFFMANN

Well, you see, that's the way women are.

LOTH

I can't say that I understand what it was about.

HOFFMANN

It isn't worth mentioning. Things like that happen in the most refined
families. It mustn't keep you from spending a few days with us....

LOTH

I should like to have made your wife's acquaintance. Why doesn't she
appear at all?

HOFFMANN

[_Cutting off the end of a fresh cigar._] Well, in her condition, you
understand ... women won't abandon their vanity. Come, let's go and take
a few turns in the garden.--Edward, serve coffee in the arbour!

EDWARD

Very well, sir.

    [_HOFFMANN and LOTH disappear by way of the conservatory. EDWARD
    leaves by way of the middle door and MIELE, immediately thereafter,
    goes out, carrying a tray of dishes, by the same door. For a few
    seconds the room is empty. Then enters_

HELEN

[_Wrought up, with tear-stained eyes, holding her handkerchief against
her mouth. From the middle door, by which she has entered, she takes a
few hasty steps to the left and listens at the door of HOFFMANN'S room._]
Oh, don't go! [_Hearing nothing there, she hastens over to the door of
the conservatory, where she also listens for a few moments with tense
expression. Folding her hands and in a tone of impassioned beseeching._]
Oh, don't go! Don't go!

THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE SECOND ACT


    _It is about four o'clock in the morning. The windows in the inn are
    still lit. Through the gateway comes in the twilight of a pallid dawn
    which, in the course of the action, develops into a ruddy glow, and
    this, in its turn, gradually melts into bright daylight. Under the
    gateway, on the ground, sits BEIPST and sharpens his scythe. As the
    curtain rises, little more is visible than his dark outline which is
    defined against the morning sky, but one hears the monotonous,
    uninterrupted and regular beat of the scythe hammer on the anvil. For
    some minutes this is the only sound audible. Then follows the solemn
    silence of the morning, broken by the cries of roysterers who are
    leaving the inn. The inn-door is slammed with a crash. The lights in
    the windows go out. A distant barking of dogs is heard and a loud,
    confused crowing of cocks. On the path from the inn to the house a
    dark figure becomes visible which reels in zigzag lines toward the
    farmyard. It is FARMER KRAUSE, who, as always, has been the last to
    leave the inn._

FARMER KRAUSE

[_Has reeled against the fence, clings to it for support with both hands,
and roars with a somewhat nasal, drunken voice back at the inn._] The
garden'sh mine ... the inn'sh mi-ine ... ash of a' inn-keeper! Hi-hee!
[_After mumbling and growling unintelligibly he frees himself from the
fence and staggers into the yard, where, luckily, he gets hold of the
handles of a plough._] The farm'sh mi'ine. [_He drivels, half singing._]
Drink ... o ... lil' brother, drink ... o ... lil' brother ... brandy'sh
good t' give courash. Hi-hee--[_roaring aloud_]--ain' I a han'some man
... Ain' I got a han'some wife?... Ain' I got a couple o' han'some gals?

HELEN

[_Comes swiftly from the house. It is plain that she has only slipped on
such garments as, in her hurry, she could find._] Papa!... dear papa!! Do
come in! [_She supports him by one arm, tries to lead him and draw him
toward the house._] Oh, do come ... do please come ... quick ... quick
... Come, oh, do, _do_ come!

FARMER KRAUSE

[_Has straightened himself up and tries to stand erect. Fumbling with
both hands he succeeds, with great pains, in extracting from his
breeches-pocket a purse bursting with coins. As the morning brightens, it
is possible to see the shabby garb of KRAUSE, which is in no respects
better than that of the commonest field labourer. He is about fifty years
old. His head is bare, his thin, grey hair is uncombed and matted. His
dirty shirt is open down to his waist. His leathern breeches, tied at the
ankles, were once yellow but are now shiny with dirt. They are held up by
a single embroidered suspender. On his naked feet he wears a pair of
embroidered bedroom slippers, the embroidery on which seems to be quite
new. He wears neither coat nor waist-coat and his shirtsleeves are
unbuttoned. After he has finally succeeded in extracting the purse, he
holds it in his right hand and brings it down repeatedly on the palm of
his left so that the coins ring and clatter, At the same time he fixes a
lascivious look on his daughter._] Hi-hee! The money'sh mi-ine! Hey?
How'd y' like couple o' crownsh?

HELEN

Oh, merciful God! [_She makes repeated efforts to drag him with her. At
one of these efforts he embraces her with the clumsiness of a gorilla and
makes several indecent gestures. HELEN utters suppressed cries for
help._] Let go! This minute! Let go-o!! Oh, please, papa, Oh-o!! [_She
weeps, then suddenly cries out in an extremity of fear, loathing and
rage:_] Beast! Swine!

    [_She pushes him from her and KRAUSE falls to his full length on the
    ground. BEIPST comes limping up from his seat under the gateway. He
    and HELEN set about lifting KRAUSE._

FARMER KRAUSE

[_Stammers._] Drink ... o ... lil' brothersh ... drrr ...

    [_KRAUSE is half-lifted up and tumbles into the house, dragging
    BEIPST and HELEN with him. For a moment the stage remains empty. In
    the house voices are heard and the slamming of doors. A single window
    is lit, upon which BEIPST comes out of the house again. He strikes a
    match against his leathern breeches in order to light the short pipe
    that rarely leaves his mouth. While he is thus employed, KAHL is seen
    slinking out of the house. He is in his stocking feet, but has slung
    his coat loosely over his left arm and holds his bedroom slippers in
    his left hand. In his right hand he holds his hat and his collar in
    his teeth. When he has reached the middle of the yard, he sees the
    face of BEIPST turned upon him. For a moment he seems undecided; then
    he manages to grasp his hat and collar also with his left hand, dives
    into his breeches' pocket and going up to BEIPST presses a coin into
    the latter's hand._

KAHL

There, you got a crown ... but shut yer mouth!

    [_He hastens across the yard and climbs over the picket fence at the
    right._

    [_BEIPST has lit his pipe with a fresh match. He limps to the gate,
    sits down and begins sharpening his scythe anew. Again nothing is
    heard for a time but the monotonous hammer blows and the groans of
    the old man, which he interrupts by short oaths when his work will
    not go to his liking. It has grown considerably lighter._

LOTH

[_Steps out of the house door, stands still, stretches himself, and
breathes deeply several times._] Ah! The morning air. [_Slowly he goes
toward the background until he reaches the gateway. To BEIPST._] Good
morning! Up so early?

BEIPST

[_Squinting at LOTH suspiciously. In a surly tone._] 'Mornin'. [_A brief
pause, whereupon BEIPST addresses his scythe which he pulls to and fro in
his indignation._] Crooked beast! Well, are ye goin' to? Eksch! Well,
well, I'll be ...

    [_He continues to sharpen it._

LOTH

[_Has taken a seat between the handles of a cultivator._] I suppose
there's hay harvesting to-day?

BEIPST

[_Roughly._] Dam' fools go a-cuttin' hay this time o' year.

LOTH

Well, but you're sharpening a scythe?

BEIPST

[_To the scythe._] Eksch! You ol'...!

    [_A brief pause._]

LOTH

Won't you tell me, though, why you are sharpening your scythe if it is
not time for the hay harvest?

BEIPST

Eh? Don't you need a scythe to cut fodder?

LOTH

So that's it. You're going to cut fodder?

BEIPST

Well, what else?

LOTH

And is it cut every morning?

BEIPST

Well, d' you want the beasts to starve?

LOTH

You must show me a little forbearance. You see, I'm a city man; and it
isn't possible for me to know things about farming very exactly.

BEIPST

City folks! Eksh! All of 'em I ever saw thought they knew it
all--better'n country folks.

LOTH

That isn't the case with me.--Can you explain to me, for instance, what
kind of an implement this is? I have seen one like it before, to be sure,
but the name--

BEIPST

That thing that ye're sittin' on? Why, they calls that a cultivator.

LOTH

To be sure--a cultivator. Is it used here?

BEIPST

Naw; more's the pity. He lets everything go to hell ... all the land ...
lets it go, the farmer does. A poor man would like to have a bit o'
land--you can't have grain growin' in your beard, you know. But no! He'd
rather let it go to the devil! Nothin' grows excep' weeds an' thistles.

LOTH

Well, but you can get those out with the cultivator, too. I know that the
Icarians had them, too, in order to weed thoroughly the land that had
been cleared.

BEIPST

Where's them I-ca ... what d'you, call 'em?

LOTH

The Icarians? In America.

BEIPST

They've got things like that there, too?

LOTH

Certainly.

BEIPST

What kind of people is them I-I-ca...?

LOTH

The Icarians? They are not a special people at all, but men of all
nations who have united for a common purpose. They own a considerable
tract of land in America which they cultivate together. They share both
the work and the profits equally. None of them is poor and there are no
poor people among them.

BEIPST

[_Whose expression had become a little more friendly, assumes, during
LOTH'S last speech, his former hostile and suspicious look. Without
taking further notice of LOTH he has, during the last few moments, given
his exclusive attention to his work._] Beast of a scythe!

    [_LOTH, still seated, first observes the old man with a quiet smile
    and then looks out into the awakening morning._

    _Through the gateway are visible far stretches of clover field and
    meadow. Between them meanders a brook whose course is marked by
    alders and willows. A single mountain peak towers on the horizon. All
    about, larks have begun their song, and their uninterrupted trilling
    floats, now from near, now from far, into the farm yard._

LOTH

[_Getting up._] One ought to take a walk. The morning is magnificent.

    [_The clatter of wooden shoes is heard. Some one is rapidly coming
    down the stairs that lead from the stable loft. It is GUSTE._

GUSTE

[_A rather stout maid-servant. Her neck is bare, as are her arms and legs
below the knee. Her naked feet are stuck in wooden shoes. She carries a
burning lantern._] Good morning father Beipst!

    [_BEIPST growls._]

GUSTE

[_Shading her eyes with her hand looks after LOTH through the gate._]
What kind of a feller is that?

BEIPST

[_Embittered._] He can make fools o' beggars ... He can lie like a parson
... Jus' let him tell you his stories. [_He gets up._] Get the
wheelbarrows ready, girl!

GUSTE

[_Who has been washing her legs at the well gets through before
disappearing into the cow stable._] Right away, father Beipst.

LOTH

[_Returns and gives BEIPST a tip._] There's something for you. A man can
always use that.

BEIPST

[_Thawing at once, quite changed and with sincere companionableness._]
Yes, yes, you're right there, and I thank ye kindly.--I suppose you're
the company of the son-in-law over there? [_Suddenly very voluble._] You
know, if you want to go walkin' out there, you know, toward the hill,
then you want to keep to the left, real close to the left, because to the
right, there's clefts. My son, he used to say, the reason of it was, he
used to say, was because they didn't board the place up right, the miners
didn't. They gets too little pay, he used to say, and then folks does
things just hit or miss, in the shafts you know.--You see? Over yonder?
Always to the left! There's holes on t'other side. It wasn't but only
last year and a butter woman, just as she was, sudden, sunk down in the
earth, I don't know how many fathoms down. Nobody knew whereto. So I'm
tellin' you--go to the left, to the left and you'll be safe.

    [_A shot is heard. BEIPST starts up as though he had been struck and
    limps out a few paces into the open._

LOTH

Who, do you think, is shooting so early?

BEIPST

Who would it be excep' that rascal of a boy?

LOTH

What boy?

BEIPST

Will Kahl--our neighbour's son here ... You just wait, you! I've seen
him, I tell you. He shoots larks.

LOTH

Why, you limp!

BEIPST

Yes, the Lord pity me. [_He shakes a threatening fist toward the
fields._] Eh, wait, you ... you...!

LOTH

What happened to your leg?

BEIPST

My leg?

LOTH

Yes.

BEIPST

Eh? Somethin' got into it.

LOTH

Do you suffer pain?

BEIPST

[_Grasping his leg._] There's a tugging pain in it, a confounded pain.

LOTH

Do you see a doctor about it?

BEIPST

Doctors? Eh, you know, they're all monkeys--one like another. Only our
doctor here--he's a mighty good man.

LOTH

And did he help you?

BEIPST

A little, maybe, when all's said. He kneaded my leg, you see, he squeezed
it, an' he punched it. But no,'t'ain't on that account. He is ... well, I
tell you, he's got compassion on a human bein', that's it. He buys the
medicine an' asks nothin'. An' he'll come to you any time ...

LOTH

Still, you must have come by that trouble somehow. Or did you always
limp?

BEIPST

Not a bit of it!

LOTH

Then I don't think I quite understand. There must have been some cause
...

BEIPST

How do I know? [_Once more he raises a menacing fist._] You jus' wait,
you--with your rattling!

KAHL

[_Appears within his own garden. In his right hand he carries a rifle by
the barrel, his left hand is closed. He calls across._] Good mornin',
Doctor!

    _LOTH walks diagonally across the yard up to KAHL. In the meantime
    GUSTE as well as another maid-servant named LIESE have each made
    ready a wheel-barrow on which lie rakes and pitch-forks. They trundle
    their wheel-barrows past BEIPST out into the fields. The latter,
    sending menacing glances toward KAHL and making furtive gestures of
    rage, shoulders his scythe and limps after them. BEIPST and the maids
    disappear._

LOTH

[_To KAHL._] Good morning.

KAHL

D'you want for to see somethin' fine?

    [_He stretches his closed hand across the fence._

LOTH

[_Going nearer._] What have you there?

KAHL

Guess!

    [_He opens his hand at once._

LOTH

What? Is it really true--you shoot the larks. You good for nothing! Do
you know that you deserve to be beaten for such mischief?

KAHL

[_Stares at LOTH for some seconds in stupid amazement. Then, clenching
his fist furtively he says:_] You son of a...!

    [_And swinging around, disappears toward the right._

    [_For some moments the yard remains empty._]

    _HELEN steps from the house door. She wears a light-coloured summer
    dress and a large garden hat. She looks all around her, walks a few
    paces toward the gate-way, stands still and gazes out. Hereupon she
    saunters across the yard toward the right and turns into the path
    that leads to the inn. Great bundles of various tea-herbs are slung
    across the fence to dry. She stops to inhale their odours. She also
    bends downward the lower boughs of fruit trees and admires the low
    hanging, red-cheeked apples. When she observes LOTH coming toward her
    from the inn, a yet greater restlessness comes over her, so that she
    finally turns around and reaches the farm yard before LOTH. Here she
    notices that the dove-cote is still closed and goes thither through
    the little gate that leads into the orchard. While she is still busy
    pulling down the cord which, blown about by the wind, has become
    entangled somewhere, she is addressed by LOTH, who has come up in the
    meantime._

LOTH

Good morning, Miss Krause.

HELEN

Good morning. See, the wind has blown the cord up there!

LOTH

Let me help you.

    [_He also passes through the little gate, gets the cord down and
    opens the dove-cote. The pigeons flutter out._

HELEN

Thank you so much!

LOTH

[_Has passed out by the little gate once more and stands there, leaning
against the fence. HELEN is on the other side of it. After a brief
pause._] Do you make a habit of rising so early?

HELEN

I was just going to ask you the same thing.

LOTH

I? Oh, no! But after the first night in a strange place it usually
happens so.

HELEN

Why does that happen?

LOTH

I have never thought about it. To what end?

HELEN

Oh, wouldn't it serve some end?

LOTH

None, at least, that is apparent and practical.

HELEN

And so everything that you do or think must have some practical end in
view.

LOTH

Exactly. Furthermore ...

HELEN

I would not have thought that of you.

LOTH

What, Miss Krause?

HELEN

It was with those very words that, day before yesterday, my stepmother
snatched "The Sorrows of Werther" from my hand.

LOTH

It is a foolish book.

HELEN

Oh, don't say that.

LOTH

Indeed, I must repeat it, Miss Krause. It is a book for weaklings.

HELEN

That may well be.

LOTH

How do you come across just that book? Do you quite understand it?

HELEN

I hope I do--at least, in part. It rests me to read it. [_After a
pause._] But if it _is_ a foolish book, as you say, could you recommend
me a better one?

LOTH

Read ... well, let me see ... do you know Dahn's "Fight for Rome"?

HELEN

No, but I'll buy the book now. Does it serve a practical end?

LOTH

No, but a rational one. It depicts men not as they are but such as, some
day, they ought to be. Thus it sets up an ideal for our imitation.

HELEN

[_Deeply convinced._] Ah, that is noble. [_A brief pause._] But perhaps
you can tell me something else. The papers talk so much about Zola and
Ibsen. Are they great authors?

LOTH

In the sense of being artists they are not authors at all, Miss Krause.
They are necessary evils. I have a genuine thirst for the beautiful and I
demand of art a clear, refreshing draught.--I am not ill; and what Zola
and Ibsen offer me is medicine.

HELEN

[_Quite involuntarily._] Ah, then perhaps, they might help me.

LOTH

[_Who has become gradually absorbed in his vision of the dewy orchard and
who now yields to it wholly._] How very lovely it is here. Look, how the
sun emerges from behind the mountain peak.--And you have so many apples
in your garden--a rich harvest.

HELEN

Three-fourths of them will be stolen this year just as last. There is
such great poverty hereabouts.

LOTH

I can scarcely tell you how deeply I love the country. Alas, the greater
part of _my_ harvest must be sought in cities. But I must try to enjoy
this country holiday thoroughly. A man like myself needs a bit of
sunshine and refreshment more than most people.

HELEN

[_Sighing._] More than others ... In what respect?

LOTH

It is because I am in the midst of a hard conflict, the end of which I
will not live to see.

HELEN

But are we not all engaged in such a conflict?

LOTH

No.

HELEN

Surely we are all engaged in some conflict?

LOTH

Naturally, but in one that may end.

HELEN

It _may_. Yon are right. But why cannot the other end--I mean the one in
which you are engaged, Mr. Loth?

LOTH

Your conflict, after all, can only be one for your personal happiness.
And, so far as is humanly speaking possible, the individual can attain
this. My struggle is a struggle for the happiness of all men. The
condition of my happiness would be the happiness of all; nothing could
content me until I saw an end of sickness and poverty, of servitude and
spiritual meanness. I could take my place at the banquet table of life
only as the last of its guests.

HELEN

[_With deep conviction._] Ah, then you are a truly, truly good, man!

LOTH

[_Somewhat embarrassed._] There is no merit in my attitude: it is an
inborn one. And I must also confess that my struggle in the interest of
progress affords me the highest satisfaction. And the kind of happiness I
thus win is one that I estimate far more highly than the happiness which
contents the ordinary self-seeker.

HELEN

Still there are very few people in whom such a taste is inborn.

LOTH

Perhaps it isn't wholly inborn. I think that we are constrained to it by
the essential wrongness of the conditions of life. Of course, one must
have a sense for that wrongness. There is the point. Now if one has that
sense and suffers consciously under the wrongness of the conditions in
question--why, then one becomes, necessarily, just what I am.

HELEN

Oh, if it were only clearer to me ... Tell me, what conditions, for
instance, do you call wrong?

LOTH

Well, it is wrong, for instance, that he who toils in the sweat of his
brow suffers want while the sluggard lives in luxury. It is wrong to
punish murder in times of peace and reward it in times of war. It is
wrong to despise the hangman and yet, as soldiers do, to bear proudly at
one's side a murderous weapon whether it be rapier or sabre. If the
hangman displayed his axe thus he would doubtless be stoned. It is wrong,
finally, to support as a state religion the faith of Christ which teaches
long-suffering, forgiveness and love, and, on the other hand, to train
whole nations to be destroyers of their own kind. These are but a few
among millions of absurdities. It costs an effort to penetrate to the
true nature of all these things: one must begin early.

HELEN

But how did you succeed in thinking of all this? It seems so simple and
yet one never thinks of it.

LOTH

In various ways: the course of my own personal development, conversation
with friends, reading and independent thinking. I found out the first
absurdity when I was a little boy. I once told a rather flagrant lie and
my father flogged me most soundly. Shortly thereafter I took a railroad
journey with my father and I discovered that my father lied, too, and
seemed to take the action quite as a matter of course. I was five years
old at that time and my father told the conductor that I was not yet four
in order to secure free transportation for me. Again, our teacher said to
us: be industrious, be honourable and you will invariably prosper in
life. But the man had uttered folly, and I discovered that soon enough.
My father was honourable, honest, and thoroughly upright, and yet a
scoundrel who is alive and rich to-day cheated him of his last few
thousands. And my father, driven by want, had to take employment under
this very scoundrel who owned a large soap factory.

HELEN

People like myself hardly dare think of such a thing as wrong. At most
one feels it to be so in silence. Indeed, one feels it often--and then--a
kind of despair takes hold of one.

LOTH

I recall one absurdity which presented itself to me as such with especial
clearness. I had always believed that murder is punished as a crime under
whatever circumstances. After the incident in question, however, it grew
to be clear to me that only the milder forms of murder are unlawful.

HELEN

How is that possible?

LOTH

My father was a boilermaster. We lived hard by the factory and our
windows gave on the factory yard. I saw a good many things there. There
was a workingman, for instance, who had worked in the factory for five
years. He began to have a violent cough and to lose flesh ... I recall
how my father told us about the man at table. His name was Burmeister and
he was threatened with pulmonary consumption if he worked much longer in
the soap factory. The doctor had told him so. But the man had eight
children and, weak and emaciated as he was, he couldn't find other work
anywhere. And so he _had_ to stay In the soap factory and his employer
was quite self-righteous because he kept him. He seemed to himself an
extraordinarily humane person.--One August afternoon--the heat was
frightful--Burmeister dragged himself across the yard with a wheelbarrow
full of lime. I was just looking out of the window when I noticed him
stop, stop again, and finally pitch over headlong on the cobblestones. I
ran up to him--my father came, other workingmen came up, but he could
barely gasp and his month was filled with blood. I helped carry him into
the house. He was a mass of limy rags, reeking with all kinds of
chemicals. Before we had gotten him into the house, he was dead.

HELEN

Ah, that is terrible.

LOTH

Scarcely a week later we pulled his wife out of the river into which the
waste lye of our factory was drained. And, my dear young lady, when one
knows things of that kind as I know them now--believe me--one can find no
rest. A simple little piece of soap, which makes no one else in the world
think of any harm, even a pair of clean, well-cared-for hands are enough
to embitter one thoroughly.

HELEN

I saw something like that once. And oh, it was frightful, frightful!

LOTH

What was that?

HELEN

The son of a workingman was carried in here half-dead. It's about--three
years ago.

LOTH

Had he been injured?

HELEN

Yes, over there in the Bear shaft.

LOTH

So it was a miner?

HELEN

Oh, yes. Most of the young men around here go to work in the mines.
Another son of the same man was also a trammer and also met with an
accident.

LOTH

And were they both killed?

HELEN

Yes, both ... Once the lift broke; the other time it was fire damp.--Old
Beipst has yet a third son and he has gone down to the mine too since
last Easter.

LOTH

Is it possible? And doesn't the father object?

HELEN

No, not at all. Only he is even more morose than he used to be. Haven't
you seen him yet?

LOTH

How could I?

HELEN

Why, he sat near here this morning, under the gateway.

LOTH

Oh! So he works on the farm here?

HELEN

He has been with us for years.

LOTH

Does he limp?

HELEN

Yes, quite badly, indeed.

LOTH

Ah--ha! And what was it that happened to his leg?

HELEN

That's a delicate subject. You have met Mr. Kahl?... But I must tell you
this story very softly. [_She draws nearer to LOTH._] His father, you
know, was just as silly about hunting as he is. When wandering
apprentices came into his yard he shot at them--sometimes only into the
air in order to frighten them. He had a violent temper too, and
especially when he had been drinking. Well, I suppose Beipst grumbled one
day--he likes to grumble, you know--and so the farmer snatched up his
rifle and fired at him. Beipst, you know, used to be coachman at the
Kahls.

LOTH

Outrage and iniquity wherever one goes.

HELEN

[_Growing more uncertain and excited in her speech._] Oh, I've had my own
thoughts often and often ... and I've felt so sick with pity for them
all, for old Beipst and ... When the farmers are so coarse and brutish
like--well, like Streckmann, who--lets his farm hands starve and feeds
sweetmeats to the dogs. I've often felt confused in my mind since I came
home from boarding-school ... I have my burden too!--But I'm talking
nonsense. It can't possibly interest you, and you will only laugh at me
to yourself.

LOTH

But, my dear Miss Krause, how can you think that? Why should I?

HELEN

How can you help it? You'll think anyhow: she's no better than the rest
here!

LOTH

I think ill of no one.

HELEN

Oh, you can't make me believe that--ever!

LOTH

But what occasion have I given, you to make you ...

HELEN

[_Almost in tears._] Oh, don't talk. You despise us; you may be sure that
you do. Why, how can you help despising us--[_tearfully_]--even my
brother-in-law, even me. Indeed, me above all, and you have--oh, you have
truly good reasons for it!

    [_She quickly turns her back to LOTH, no longer able to master her
    emotion, and disappears through the orchard into the background. LOTH
    passes through the little gate and follows her slowly._

MRS. KRAUSE

[_In morning costume, ridiculously over-dressed, comes out of the house.
Her face is crimson with rage. She screams._] The low-lived hussy! Marie!
Marie!! Under my roof! Out with the brazen hussy!

    [_She runs across the yard and disappears in the stable. MRS. SPILLER
    appears in the house-door; she is crocheting. From within the stable
    resound scolding and howling._

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Comes out of the stable driving the howling maid before her._] Slut of
a wench!--[_The maid almost screams._]--Git out o' here this minute! Pack
yer things 'n then git out!

THE MAID

[_Catching sight of MRS. SPILLER, hurls her milking stool and pail from
her._] That's your doin'! I'll git even with you!

    [_Sobbing, she runs up the stairs to the loft._

HELEN

[_Joining MRS. KRAUSE._] Why, what did she do?

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Roughly._] Any o' your business?

HELEN

[_Passionately, almost weeping._] Yes, it is my business.

MRS. SPILLER

[_Coming up quickly._] Dear Miss Helen, it's nothing fit for the ear of a
young lady ...

MRS. KRAUSE

An' I'd like to know why not! She ain't made o' sugar. The wench lay abed
with the hired man. Now you know it!

HELEN

[_In a commanding voice._] The maid shall stay for all that!

MRS. KRAUSE

Wench!

HELEN

Good! Then I'll tell father that you spend your nights just the same way
with William Kahl.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Strikes her full in the face._] There you got a reminder!

HELEN

[_Deathly pale, but even more firmly._] And I say the maid shall stay!
Otherwise I'll make it known--you ... with William Kahl ... your cousin,
my betrothed ... I'll tell the whole world.

MRS. KRAUSE

[_Her assurance breaking down._] Who can say it's so!

HELEN

I can. For I saw him this morning coming out of your bed-room ...

    [_She goes swiftly into the house._

    [_MRS. KRAUSE totters, almost fainting. MRS. SPILLER hurries to her
    with smelling-salts._

MRS. SPILLER

Oh, Madame, Madame!

MRS. KRAUSE

Sp--iller; the maid c'n ss-stay!


THE CURTAIN FALLS QUICKLY



THE THIRD ACT


    _Time: a few minutes after the incident between HELEN and her
    step-mother in the yard. The scene is that of the first act._

    _Dr. SCHIMMELPFENNIG sits at the table in the foreground to the left.
    He is writing a prescription. His slouch hat, cotton gloves and cane
    lie on the table before him. He is short and thick-set of figure; his
    hair is black and clings in small, firm curls to his head; his
    moustache is rather heavy. He wears a black coat after the pattern of
    the Jaeger reform garments. He has the habit of stroking or pulling
    his moustache almost uninterruptedly; the more excited he is, the
    more violent is this gesture. When he speaks to HOFFMANN his
    expression is one of enforced equanimity, but a touch of sarcasm
    hovers about the corners of his mouth. His gestures, which are
    thoroughly natural, are lively, decisive and angular. HOFFMANN walks
    up and down, dressed in a silk dressing-gown and slippers. The table
    in the background to the right is laid for breakfast: costly
    porcelain, dainty rolls, a decanter with rum, etc._

HOFFMANN

Are you satisfied with my wife's appearance, doctor?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

She's looking well enough. Why not?

HOFFMANN

And do you think that everything will pass favourably?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I hope so.

HOFFMANN

[_After a pause, with hesitation._] Doctor, I made up my mind--weeks
ago--to ask your advice in a very definite matter as soon as I came here.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Who has hitherto talked and written at the same time, lays his pen
aside, arises, and hands HOFFMANN the finished prescription._] Here ... I
suppose you'll have that filled quite soon. [_Taking up his hat, cane and
gloves._] Your wife complains of headaches, and so--[_looking into his
hat and adopting a dry, business-like tone_]--and so, before I forget:
try, if possible, to make it clear to your wife that she is in a measure
responsible for the new life that is to come into the world. I have
already said something to her of the consequences of tight lacing.

HOFFMANN

Certainly, doctor ... I'll do my very best to make it clear to her that
...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Bowing somewhat awkwardly._] Good morning. [_He is about to go but
stops again._] Ah, yes, you wanted my advice ...

    [_He regards HOFFMANN coldly._

HOFFMANN

If you can spare me a little while ... [_With a touch of affectation._]
You know about the frightful death of my first boy. You were near enough
to watch it. You know also what my state of mind was.--One doesn't
believe it at first, but--time does heal!... And, after all, I have cause
to be grateful now, since it seems that my dearest wish is about to be
fulfilled. You understand that I must do everything, everything--it has
cost me sleepless nights and yet I don't know yet, not even yet, just
what I must do to guard the unborn child from the terrible fate of its
little brother. And that is what I wanted to ask ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Dryly and business-like._] Separation from the mother is the
indispensable condition of a healthy development.

HOFFMANN

So it is that! Do you mean complete separation?... Is the child not even
to be in the same house with its mother?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Not if you are seriously concerned for the preservation of your child.
And your wealth permits you the greatest freedom of movement in this
respect.

HOFFMANN

Yes, thank God. I have already bought a villa with a very large park in
the neighbourhood of Hirschberg. Only I thought that my wife too ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Pulls at his moustache and stares at the floor. Thoughtfully._] Why
don't you buy a villa somewhere else for your wife?

    [_HOFFMANN shrugs his shoulders._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_As before._] Could you not, perhaps, engage the interest of your
sister-in-law for the task of bringing up this child?

HOFFMANN

If you knew, doctor, how many obstacles ... and, after all, she is a
young, inexperienced girl, and a mother _is_ a mother.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

You have my opinion. Good morning.

HOFFMANN

[_Overwhelming the doctor with excessive courtesy._] Good morning. I am
extremely grateful to you ...

    [_Both withdraw through the middle door._

    _HELEN enters. Her handkerchief is pressed to her mouth; she is
    sobbing, beside herself, and lets herself fall on the sofa in the
    foreground to the left. After a few moments, HOFFMANN reenters, his
    hands full of newspapers._

HOFFMANN

Why, what is that? Tell me, sister, are things to go on this way much
longer? Since I came here not a day has passed on which I haven't seen
you cry.

HELEN

Oh!--what do _you_ know? If you had any sense for such things you'd be
surprised that you ever saw me when I didn't cry!

HOFFMANN

That isn't clear to me.

HELEN

Oh, but it is to me!

HOFFMANN

Look here, something must have happened!

HELEN

[_Jumps up and stamps her foot._] Ugh ... but I won't bear it any longer
... it's got to stop! I won't endure such things any more! I don't see
why ... I ...

    [_Her sobs choke her._

HOFFMANN

Won't you tell me at least what the trouble is, so that I ...

HELEN

[_Bursting out with renewed passion._] I don't care what happens to me!
Nothing worse _could_. I've got a drunkard for a father, a beast--with
whom his ... his own daughter isn't safe.--An adulterous step-mother who
wants to turn me over to her lover ... And this whole life.--No, I don't
see that anyone can force me to be bad in spite of myself. I'm going
away! I'll run away! And if the people here won't let me go, then ...
rope, knife, gun ... I don't care! I don't want to take to drinking
brandy like my sister.

HOFFMANN

[_Frightened, grasps her arm._] Nellie, keep still, I tell you; keep
still about that.

HELEN

I don't care; I don't care one bit! I ... I'm ashamed of it all to the
very bottom of my soul. I wanted to learn something, to be something, to
have a chance--and what am I now?

HOFFMANN

[_Who has not released her arm, begins gradually to dram the girl over
toward the sofa. The tone of his voice now takes on an excessive
softness, an exaggerated, vibrant gentleness._] Nellie! Ah, I know right
well that you have many things to suffer here. But be calm...! You need
not tell one who knows. [_He puts his right hand caressingly upon her
shoulder and brings his face close to hers._] I can't bear to see you
weep. Believe me--it hurts me. But don't, don't see things in a worse
light than is needful--; and then: have you forgotten, that we are
both--you and I--so to speak--in the same position?--I have gotten into
this peasant atmosphere--do I fit into it? As little as you do yourself,
surely.

HELEN

If my--dear little mother had suspected this--when she ... when she
directed--that I should be--educated at Herrnhut! If she had rather ...
rather left me at home, then at least ... at least I wouldn't have known
anything else, and I would have grown up in this corruption, But now ...

HOFFMANN

[_Has gently forced HELEN down upon the sofa and now sits, pressed close,
beside her. In his consolations the sensual element betrays itself more
and more strongly._] Nellie! Look at me; let those things be. Let me be
your consolation, I needn't talk to you about your sister. [_He embraces
her more firmly. Passionately and feelingly._] Oh, if she were what you
are!... But as it is ... tell me: what can she be to me? Did you ever
hear of a man, Nellie, of a cultured man whose wife--[_he almost
whispers_]--is a prey to such an unhappy passion? One is afraid to utter
it aloud: a woman--and--brandy ... Now, do you think I am any happier?...
Think of my little Freddie! Well, am I, when all's said, any better off
than you are?... [_With increasing passion._] And so, you see, fate has
done us one kindness anyhow. It has brought us together. And we belong
together. Our equal sorrows have predestined us to be friends. Isn't it
so, Nellie?

    [_He puts his arms wholly around her. She permits it but with an
    expression which shows that she forces herself to mere endurance. She
    has grown quite silent and seems, with quivering tension of soul, to
    be awaiting some certainty, some consummation that is inevitably
    approaching._

HOFFMANN

[_Tenderly._] You should consent to my plan; you should leave this house
and live with us. The baby that is coming needs a mother. Come and be a
mother to it; otherwise--[_passionately moved and sentimentally_]--it
will have no mother. And then: bring a little, oh, only a very little
brightness into my life! Do that! Oh, do that!

    [_He is about to lean his head upon her breast. She jumps up,
    indignant. In her expression are revealed contempt, surprise,
    loathing and hatred._

HELEN

Oh, but you are, you are ... Now I know you thoroughly! Oh, I've felt it
dimly before. But now I am certain.

HOFFMANN

[_Surprised, put out of countenance._] What? Helen ... you're
unique--really.

HELEN

Now I know that you're not by one hair's breadth better ... indeed,
you're much worse--the worst of them all here!

HOFFMANN

[_Arises. With assumed coldness._] D'you know, your behaviour to-day is
really quite peculiar.

HELEN

[_Approaches him._] You have just one end in view. [_Almost whispering._]
But you have very different weapons from father and from my stepmother,
or from my excellent betrothed--oh, quite different. They are all lambs,
all of them, compared to you. Now, now, suddenly, that has become clear
as day to me.

HOFFMANN

[_With hypocritical indignation._] Helen, you seem really not to be in
your right mind; you're, suffering under a delusion.... [_He interrupts
himself and strikes his forehead._] Good Lord, of course! I see it all.
You have ... it's very early in the day, to be sure, but I'd wager ...
Helen! Have you been talking to Alfred Loth this morning?

HELEN

And why should I not have been talking to him? He is the kind of man
before whom we should all be hiding in shame if things went by rights.

HOFFMANN

So I was right!... That's it ... Aha ... well, to be sure ... then I have
no further cause for surprise. So he actually used the opportunity to go
for his benefactor a bit. Of course, one should really be prepared for
things of that kind.

HELEN

Do you know, I think that is really caddish.

HOFFMANN

I'm inclined to think so myself.

HELEN

He didn't breathe one syllable, not one, about you.

HOFFMANN

[_Slurring HELEN'S argument._] If things have reached that pass, then it
is really my duty, my duty, I say, as a relative toward an inexperienced
young girl like you ...

HELEN

Inexperienced girl! What is the use of this pretence?

HOFFMANN

[_Enraged._] Loth came into this house on my responsibility. Now I want
you to know that he is, to put it mildly, an exceedingly dangerous
fanatic--this Mr. Loth.

HELEN

To hear you saying that of Mr. Loth strikes me as so absurd, so laughably
absurd!

HOFFMANN

And he is a fanatic, furthermore, who has the gift of muddling the heads
not only of women, but even of sensible people,

HELEN

Well, now, you see, that again strikes me as so absurd. I only exchanged
a few words with Mr. Loth and ever since I feel a clearness about things
that does me so much good ...

HOFFMANN

[_In a rebukeful tone._] What I tell you is by no means absurd!

HELEN

One has to have a sense for the absurd, and that's what you haven't.

HOFFMANN

[_In the same manner._] That isn't what we're discussing. I assure you
once more that what I tell you is not at all absurd, but something that I
must ask you to take as actually true ... I have my own experience to
guide me. Notions like that befog one's mind; one rants of universal
brotherhood, of liberty and equality and, of course, transcends every
convention and every moral law.... In those old days, for the sake of
this very nonsense, we were ready to walk over the bodies of our parents
to gain our ends ... Heaven knows it. And he, I tell you, would be
prepared, in a given case, to do the same thing to-day.

HELEN

And how many parents, do you suppose, walk year in and out over the
bodies of their children without anybody's ...

HOFFMANN

[_Interrupting her._] That is _nonsense_! Why, that's the end of all....
I tell you to take care, in every ... I tell you emphatically, in _every_
respect. You won't find a trace of moral scrupulousness in that quarter.

HELEN

Oh, dear, how absurd that sounds again. I tell you, when once you begin
to take notice of things like that ... it's awfully interesting.

HOFFMANN

You may say what you please. I have warned you. Only I will tell you
quite in confidence: at the time of that incident I very nearly got into
the same damnable mess myself.

HELEN

But if he's such a dangerous man, why were you sincerely delighted
yesterday when he ...

HOFFMANN

Good Lord, I knew him when I was young. And how do you know that I didn't
have very definite reasons for ...

HELEN

Reasons? Of what kind?

HOFFMANN

Never mind.--Though, if he came; to-day, and if I knew what I do know
to-day--

HELEN

What is it that you know? I've told you already that he didn't utter one
word about you.

HOFFMANN

Well, you may depend on it that if that had been the case, I would have
thought it all over very carefully, and would probably have taken good
care not to keep him here. Loth is now and always will be a man whose
acquaintance compromises you. The authorities have an eye on him.

HELEN

Why? Has he committed a crime?

HOFFMANN

The less said about it the better. Just let this assurance be sufficient
for you: to go about the world to-day, entertaining his opinions, is far
worse and, above all, far more dangerous than stealing.

HELEN

I will remember.--But now--listen! After all your talk about Mr. Loth,
you needn't ask me any more what I think of you.--Do you hear?

HOFFMANN

[_With cold cynicism._] Do you suppose that I'm so greatly concerned to
know that? [_He presses the electric button._] And, anyhow, I hear him
coming in.

    LOTH _enters._

HOFFMANN

Hallo! Did you sleep well, old man?

LOTH

Well, but not long. Tell me this, though: I saw a gentleman leaving the
house a while ago.

HOFFMANN

Probably the doctor. He was here a while ago. I told you about him,
didn't I?--this queer mixture of hardness and sentimentality.

    _HELEN gives instructions to EDWARD, who has just entered. He leaves
    and returns shortly, serving tea and coffee._

LOTH

This mixture, as you call him, happened to resemble an old friend of my
student days most remarkably. In fact, I could have taken my oath that it
was a certain--Schimmelpfennig.

HOFFMANN

[_Sitting down at the breakfast table._] That's quite
right--Schimmelpfennig.

LOTH

Quite right? You mean?

HOFFMANN

That his name is really Schimmelpfennig.

LOTH

Who? The doctor here?

HOFFMANN

Yes, certainly, the doctor.

LOTH

Now that is really strange enough. Then of course, it's he?

HOFFMANN

Well, you see, beautiful souls find each other on sea and shore. You'll
pardon me, won't you, if I begin? We were just about to sit down to
breakfast. Do take a seat yourself. You haven't had breakfast anywhere
else, have you?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

Very well. Then sit down. [_Remaining seated himself he draws out a chair
for LOTH hereupon addressing EDWARD, who enters with tea and coffee._]
Ah, by the way, is Mrs. Krause coming down?

EDWARD

The madame and Mrs. Spiller are taking their breakfast upstairs.

HOFFMANN

Why, that has never before ...

HELEN

[_Pushing the dishes to rights._] Never mind. There's a reason.

HOFFMANN

Is that so?... Loth, help yourself!... Egg? Tea?

LOTH

I wonder if I could have a glass of milk?

HOFFMANN

With all the pleasure in the world.

HELEN

Edward, tell Miele to get some fresh milk.

HOFFMANN

[_Peeling an egg._] Milk--brrr! Horrible! [_Helping himself to salt and
pepper._] By the way, Loth, what brings you into these parts? Up to now
I've forgotten to ask you.

LOTH

[_Spreading butter on a roll._] I would like to study the local
conditions.

HOFFMANN

[_Looking up sharply._] That so?... What kind of conditions?

LOTH

To be precise: I want to study the condition of your miners.

HOFFMANN

Ah! In general that condition is a very excellent one, surely.

LOTH

Do you think so?--That would be a very pleasant fact ... Before I forget,
however. You can be of some service to me in the matter. You will deserve
very well of political economy, if you ...

HOFFMANN

I? How exactly?

LOTH

Well, you have the sole agency for the local mines?

HOFFMANN

Yes; and what of it?

LOTH

It will be very easy for you, in that case, to obtain permission for me
to inspect the mines. That is to say: I would like to go down into them
daily for at least a month, in order that I may gain a fairly accurate
notion of the management.

HOFFMANN

[_Carelessly._] And then, I suppose, you will describe what you've seen
down there?

LOTH

Yes, my work is to be primarily descriptive.

HOFFMANN

I'm awfully sorry, but I've nothing to do with that side of things. So
you just want to write about the miners, eh?

LOTH

That question shows how little of an economist you are.

HOFFMANN

[_Whose vanity is stung._] I beg your pardon! I hope you don't think ...
Why? I don't see why that isn't a legitimate question?... And, anyhow: it
wouldn't be surprising. One can't know everything.

LOTH

Oh, calm yourself. The matter stands simply thus: if I am to study the
situation of the miners in this district, it is of course unavoidably
necessary that I touch upon all the factors that condition their
situation.

HOFFMANN

Writings of that kind are sometimes full of frightful exaggerations.

LOTH

That is a fault which I hope to guard against.

HOFFMANN

That will be very praiseworthy. [_He has several times already cast brief
and searching glances at HELEN, who hangs with naive devoutness upon
LOTH'S lips. He does so again now and continues._] I say ... it's just
simply too queer for anything--how things will suddenly pop into a man's
mind. I wonder how things like that are brought about in the brain?

LOTH

What is it that has occurred to you so suddenly?

HOFFMANN

It's about you.--I thought of your be--... No, maybe it's tactless to
speak of your heart's secrets in the presence of a young lady.

HELEN

Perhaps it would be better for me to....

LOTH

Please stay. Miss Krause! By all means stay, at least as far as I'm
concerned. I've seen for some time what he's aiming at. There's nothing
in the least dangerous about it. [_To HOFFMANN._] You're thinking of my
betrothal, eh?

HOFFMANN

Since you mention it yourself, yes. I was, as a matter of fact, thinking
of your betrothal to Anna Faber.

LOTH

That was broken off, naturally, when I was sent to prison.

HOFFMANN

That wasn't very nice of your....

LOTH

It was, at least, honest in her! The letter in which she broke with me
showed her true face. Had she shown that before she would have spared
herself and me, too, a great deal.

HOFFMANN

And since that time your affections haven't taken root anywhere?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

_Of_ course! I suppose you've capitulated along the whole line--forsworn
marriage as well as drink, eh? Ah, well, _à chacun son goût_.

LOTH

It's not my taste that decides in this matter, but perhaps my fate. I
told you once before, I believe, that I have made no renunciation in
regard to marriage. What I fear is this, that I won't find a woman who is
suitable for me,

HOFFMAN

That's a big order, Loth!

LOTH

I'm quite serious, though. It may be that one grows too critical as the
years go on and possesses too little healthy instinct. And I consider
instinct the best guarantee of a suitable choice.

HOFFMANN

[_Frivolously._] Oh, it'll be found again some day--[_laughing_]--the
necessary instinct, I mean.

LOTH

And, after all, what have I to offer a woman? I doubt more and more
whether I ought to expect any woman to content herself with that small
part of my personality which does not belong to my life's work. Then,
too, I'm afraid of the cares which a family brings.

HOFFMANN

Wh-at? The cares of a married man? Haven't you a head, and arms, eh?

LOTH

Obviously. But, as I've tried to tell you, my productive power belongs,
for the greater part, to my life's work and will always belong to it.
Hence it is no longer mine. Then, too, there would be peculiar
difficulties ...

HOFFMANN

Listen! Hasn't some one been sounding a gong?

LOTH

You consider all I've said mere phrase-making?

HOFFMANN

Honestly, it does sound a little hollow. After all, other people are not
necessarily savages, even if they are married. But some men act as though
they had a monopoly of all the good deeds that are to be done in the
world.

LOTH

[_With some heat._] Not at all! I'm not thinking of such a thing. If you
hadn't abandoned your life's work, your happy material situation would be
of the greatest assistance ...

HOFFMANN

[_Ironically._] So that would be one of your demands, too?

LOTH

Demands? How? What?

HOFFMANN

I mean that, in marrying, you would have an eye on money.

LOTH

Unquestionably.

HOFFMANN

And then--if I know you at all--there's quite a list of demands still to
come.

LOTH

So there is. The woman, for instance, must have physical and mental
health. That's a _conditio sine qua non_.

HOFFMANN

[_Laughing._] Better and better! I suppose then that a previous medical
examination of the lady would be necessary.

LOTH

[_Quite seriously_.] You must remember that I make demands upon myself
too.

HOFFMANN

[_More and more amused._] I know, I know! I remember your going through
all the literature of love once in order to determine quite
conscientiously whether that which you felt at that time for a certain
lady was really the tender passion. So, let's hear a few more of your
demands.

LOTH

My wife, for instance, would have to practice renunciation.

HELEN

If ... if ... Ah, I don't know whether it's right to ... but I merely
wanted to say that women, as a rule, are accustomed to renounce.

LOTH

For heaven's sake! You understand me quite wrongly. I did not mean
renunciation in the vulgar sense. I would demand renunciation only in so
far, or, rather, I would simply ask my wife to resign voluntarily and
gladly that part of myself which belongs to my chosen work. No, no, in
regard to every thing else, it is my wife who is to make demands--to
demand all that her sex has forfeited in the course of thousands of
years.

HOFFMANN

Oho, oho! Emancipation of woman! Really, that sudden turn was
admirable--now you are in the right channel. Fred Loth, or the agitator
in a vest-pocket edition. How would you formulate your demands in this
respect, or rather: to what degree would yam wife have to be
emancipated?--It really amuses me to hear you talk! Would she have to
smoke cigars? Wear breeches?

LOTH

Hardly that. I would want her, to be sure, to have risen above certain
social conventions. I should not want her, for instance, to hesitate, if
she felt genuine love for me, to be the first to make the avowal.

HOFFMANN

[_Has finished his breakfast. He jumps up in half-humorous, half-serious
indignation._] Do you know? That ... that is a really _shameless_ demand.
And I prophesy, too, that you'll go about with it unfulfilled to your
very end--unless you prefer to drop it first.

HELEN

[_Mastering her deep emotion with difficulty._] If you gentlemen will
excuse me now--the household ... You know [_to HOFFMANN_] that mama is
upstairs and so ...

HOFFMANN

Don't let us keep you.

    _HELEN bows and withdraws._

HOFFMANN

[_Holding a match case in his hand and walking over to the cigar-box
which stands on the table._] There's no doubt ... you do get a man
excited ... it's almost uncanny. [_He takes a cigar from the box and sits
down on the sofa in the foreground, left. He cuts off the end of his
cigar, and, during what follows, he holds the cigar in his left, the
severed end between the fingers of his right hand._] In spite of all that
... it does amuse me. And then, you don't know how good it feels to pass
a few days in the country this way, away from all business matters. If
only to-day this confounded ... how late is it anyhow? Unfortunately I
have to go into town to a dinner to-day. It couldn't be helped: I had to
give this banquet. What are you going to do as a business man? Tit for
tat. The mine officials are used to that sort of thing.--Well, I've got
time enough to smoke another cigar--quite in peace, too.

    [_He carries the cigar end to a cuspidor, sits down on the sofa again
    and lights his cigar._]

LOTH

[_Stands at the table and turns the leaves of a deluxe volume._] "The
Adventures of Count Sandor."

HOFFMANN

You'll find that trash among all the farmers in the neighbourhood.

LOTH

[_Still turning the leaves._] How old is your sister-in-law?

HOFFMANN

She was twenty-one last August.

LOTH

Is she in delicate health?

HOFFMANN

Don't know. I hardly think so, though. Does she make that impression on
you?

LOTH

She really looks rather worried than ill.

HOFFMANN

Well, if you consider all the miseries with her step-mother ...

LOTH

She seems to be rather excitable, too.

HOFFMANN

In such an environment ... I should like to see any one who wouldn't
become excitable.

LOTH

She seems to possess a good deal of energy.

HOFFMANN

Stubbornness.

LOTH

Deep feeling, too?

HOFFMANN

Too much at times ...

LOTH

But if the conditions here are so unfortunate for her, why doesn't your
sister-in-law live with _your_ family?

HOFFMANN

You'd better ask her that! I've often enough made her the offer. Women
have these fancies, that's all. [_Holding the cigar in his mouth,
HOFFMANN takes out a note-book and adds a fete items._] You'll forgive
me, won't you, if I have to leave you alone after a while?

LOTH

Assuredly.

HOFFMANN

How long do you think of stay--

LOTH

I mean to look for a lodging very soon. Where does Schimmelpfennig live?
The best thing would be to go to see him. He would _probably_ be able to
secure one for me. I hope that I'll soon find a suitable place, otherwise
I'll spend the night at the inn next door.

HOFFMANN

Why should you? Of course you'll stay with us till morning, at least. To
be sure, I'm only a guest in this house myself, otherwise I'd naturally
ask you to ... you understand?

LOTH

Perfectly.

HOFFMANN

But do tell me, were you really quite serious when you said ...

LOTH

That I would spend the night at an inn...?

HOFFMANN

Nonsense ... Of course not!... I mean what you mentioned a while
ago--that business about your ridiculous descriptive essay?

LOTH

Why not?

HOFFMANN

I must confess that I thought you were jesting. [_He gets up and speaks
confidentially and half-humorously._] Now, you don't mean to say you're
really capable of undermining the ground here where a friend of yours has
been fortunate enough to get a firm foothold?

LOTH

You may take my word for it, Hoffmann; I had no idea that you were here.
If I had known that ...

HOFFMANN

[_Jumps up, delighted._] Very well, then; very well. If that's the way
things are. And I assure you I'm more than glad that I was not mistaken
in you. So now you do know that I am here. It goes without saying that
I'll make up to you all your travelling expenses and all extras. No, you
needn't be so excessively delicate. It's simply my duty as a friend ...
Now I recognise my excellent old friend again. But I tell you: for a time
I had very serious suspicions of you ... Now you ought to know this,
however. Frankly, I'm not as bad as I sometimes pretend to be, not by any
means. I have always honoured you, you and your sincere, single-minded
efforts. And I'm the last man to fail to attach weight to certain demands
of the exploited, oppressed masses, demands which are, most
unfortunately, only too well justified.--Oh, you may smile. I'll go
further and confess that there is just one party in parliament that has
any true ideals, and that's the party to which you belong! Only--as I
said before--we must go slowly, slowly!--not try to rush things through.
Everything is coming, surely coming about exactly as it ought to. Only
patience! Patience ...

LOTH

One must have patience. That is certain. But one isn't justified on that
account in folding one's hands in idleness.

HOFFMANN

Exactly my opinion.--As a matter of fact my thoughts have oftener been in
accord with you than my words. It's a bad habit of mine, I admit, I fell
into it in intercourse with people to whom I didn't always want to show
my hand.... Take the question, of woman, for instance ... You expressed a
good many things quite strikingly. [_He has, in the meantime, approached
the telephone, taken up the receiver and now speaks alternately into the
telephone and to LOTH._] My little sister-in-law, by the way, was all ear
... [_Into the telephone._] Frank! I want the carriage in ten minutes ...
[_To LOTH._] You made an impression on her ... [_Into the telephone._]
What--oh, nonsense!--well, that beats everything ... Then hitch up the
black horses at once ... [_To LOTH._] And why shouldn't you?... [_Into
the telephone._] Well, upon my...! To the milliner, you say? The madame?
The ma--! Well, very well, then. But at once! Oh, very well! Yes! What's
the--! [_He presses the button of the servants' bell. To LOTH._] You just
wait. Give me a chance to heap up the necessary mountain of shekels, and
maybe you'll see something happen ... [_EDWARD has entered._] Edward, my
leggings, my walking-coat! [_EDWARD withdraws_.] Maybe something will
happen then that you fellows wouldn't believe of me now ... If, at the
end of two or three days--you must stay with us so long by all means--I'd
consider it a real insult if you didn't--[_he slips out of his
dressing-gown_]--if, at the end of two or three days, you're ready to go.
I'll drive you over to the train.

    _EDWARD enters carrying gaiters and walking-coat._

HOFFMANN

[_Permitting himself to be helped on with the coat._] So-o! [_Sitting
down on a chair._] Now the boots. [_After he has pulled on one of them._]
There's number one!

LOTH

Perhaps you didn't quite understand me after all.

HOFFMANN

Surely, that's quite possible. A fellow gets out of touch with things.
Nothing but musty business affairs. Edward, hasn't the mail come yet?
Wait a minute!--Do go up into my room. You'll find a document in a blue
cover on the left side of my desk. Get that and put it into the carriage.

    _EDWARD goes through the door at the right, reappears through the
    middle-door and then withdraws._

LOTH

I simply meant that you hadn't understood me in one particular respect.

HOFFMANN

[_Worrying his foot into the other shoe._] Ouch! There! [_He rises and
stamps his feet._] There we are. Nothing is more disagreeable than tight
shoes ... What were you saying just now?

LOTH

You were speaking of my departure ...

HOFFMANN

Well?

LOTH

But I thought I had explained that I must stay here for a specific
purpose.

HOFFMANN

[_In extreme consternation and thoroughly indignant at once._] Look
here!... That comes near being caddish!--Don't you know what you owe me
as your friend?

LOTH

Not, I hope, the betrayal of my cause!

HOFFMANN

[_Beside himself._] Well then--in that case--I haven't the slightest
motive for treating you as a friend. And so I tell you that I consider
your appearance and demeanour here--to put it mildly--incredibly
impudent.

LOTH

[_Quite calmly._] Perhaps you'll explain what gives you the right to use
such epithets ...

HOFFMANN

Yon want an explanation of that? That is going to an extreme! Not to feel
a thing like that it's necessary to have a rhinoceros-hide instead of
skin on one's back! You come here, enjoy my hospitality, thresh out a few
of your thread-bare phrases, turn my sister-in-law's head, go on about
old friendship and other pleasant things, and then you tell me quite
coolly: you're going to write a descriptive pamphlet about the local
conditions. Why, what do you take me to be, anyhow? D'you suppose I don't
know that these so-called essays are merely shameless libels?... You want
to write a denunciation like that, and about our coal district, of all
places! Are you so blind that you can't see whom such a rag would harm
most keenly? Only me, of course! I tell you, the trade that you
demagogues drive ought to be more firmly stamped out than has been done
up to now! What is it you do? You make the miners discontented,
presumptuous; you stir them up, embitter them, make them rebellious,
disobedient, wretched! Then you delude them with promises of mountains of
gold, and, in the meantime, grab out of their pockets the few pennies
that keep them from starving!

LOTH

Do you consider yourself unmasked now?

HOFFMANN

[_Brutally._] Oh, pshaw! You ridiculous, pompous wind-bag! What do you
suppose I care about being unmasked by you?--Go to work! Leave off this
silly drivelling!--Do something! Get ahead! I don't need to sponge on any
one for two-hundred marks!

    [_He rushes out through the middle door._

    _For several moments LOTH looks calmly after him. Then, no less
    calmly, he draws a card case out of his inner pocket, takes a slip of
    paper therefrom--HOFFMANN'S cheque--and tears it through several
    times. Then he drops the scraps slowly into the coal-bin. Hereupon he
    takes his hat and cane and turns to go. At this moment HELEN appears
    on the threshold of the conservatory._

HELEN

[_Softly._] Mr. Loth!

LOTH

[_Quivers and turns._] Ah, it is you.--Well, then I can at least say
farewell to _you_.

HELEN

[_In spite of herself._] Did you feel the need of doing that?

LOTH

Yes! I did feel it, indeed. Probably, if you were in there, you heard
what has taken place here, and--in that case....

HELEN

I heard everything.

LOTH

In that case it won't astonish you to see me this house with so little
ceremony.

HELEN

No-o! I do understand--! But I should like you to feel less harshly
toward my brother-in-law. He always repents very quickly. I have
often....

LOTH

Quite possibly. But for that very reason what he has said just now
probably expresses his true opinion of me.--In fact, it is undoubtedly
his real opinion.

HELEN

Do you seriously believe that?

LOTH

Oh, yes, quite seriously. And so.... [_He walks toward her and takes her
hand._] I hope that life will be kind to you. [_He turns but at once
stops again._] I don't know...! or rather:--[_he looks calmly and
directly into HELEN'S face_]--I do know, I know--at this moment the
knowledge becomes clear--that it is not so easy for me to go away from
here ... and ... yes ... and ... well, yes...!

HELEN

But if I begged you--begged you truly--from my heart ... to stay a little
longer--

LOTH

So you do not share Hoffmann's opinion?

HELEN

No!--and that--that is just what I wanted to be sure--quite sure to tell
you, before ... before--you--went.

LOTH

[_Grasps her hand once more._] It helps me _much_ to hear you say that.

HELEN

[_Struggling with herself. Her excitement mounts rapidly and to the point
of unconsciousness. She stammers out half-chokingly._] And more, oh, more
I wanted to ... to tell you ... that I esteem and ... and ... honour you
as ... I've done no ... man before ... that I trust ... you ... that I'm
ready to ... to prove that ... that I feel toward you ...

    [_She sinks, swooning into his arms._

LOTH

Helen!


THE CURTAIN DROPS QUICKLY



THE FOURTH ACT


    _The farmyard, as in the second act. Time: a quarter of an hour after
    HELEN'S avowal._

    _MARIE and GOLISCH the cowherd drag a wooden chest down the stairs
    that lead to the loft. LOTH comes from the house. He is dressed for
    travelling and goes slowly and thoughtfully diagonally across the
    yard. Before he turns into the path that leads to the inn, he comes
    upon HOFFMANN, who is hurrying toward him through the gateway._

HOFFMANN

[_In top hat and kid gloves._] Don't be angry with me. [_He obstructs
LOTH'S way and grasps both of his hands._] I take it all back herewith
... Mention any reparation you demand ... I am ready to give you any!...
I'm most truly, most sincerely sorry.

LOTH

That helps neither of us very much.

HOFFMANN

Oh, if you would just ... Look here, now...! A man can't well do more
than that. I assure you that my conscience gave me no rest! I turned back
just before reaching Jauer.... That should convince you of the
seriousness of my feeling. Where were you going?

LOTH

To the inn--for the moment.

HOFFMANN

Oh, that's an affront you simply can't offer me ... no, you
mustn't--simply, I believe that I did hurt you badly, of course. And
probably it's not the kind of thing that can be wiped out with just a few
words. Only don't rob me of any chance ... of every possibility to prove
to you ... D'you hear? Now turn back and stay at least--at least until
to-morrow. Or till ... till I come back. I want to talk it all over with
you at leisure. You can't refuse me that favour.

LOTH

If you set so much store by it all....

HOFFMANN

A great deal!... on my honour!... I care immensely. So come, come! Don't
run away!

    [_He leads LOTH, who offers no further resistance, back into the
    house._

    _The dismissed maid and the boy have, in the meantime, placed the
    chest on a wheelbarrow and GOLISCH has put on the shoulder strap._

MARIE

[_Slipping a coin into GOLISCH'S hand._] There's somethin' fer you.

GOLISCH

[_Refusing it._] Keep yer penny.

MARIE

Aw! Ye donkey!

GOLISCH

Well, I don't care.

    [_He takes the coin and puts it into his leathern purse._

MRS. SPILLER

[_Appears at one of the windows of the house and calls out:_] Marie.

MARIE

What d'ye want now?

MRS. SPILLER

[_Appearing almost immediately at the door of the house._] The madame's
willing to keep you, if you promise....

MARIE

A stinkin' lot I'll promise her. Go on, Golisch!

MRS. SPILLER

[_Approaching._] The madame is willing to increase your wages, if you....
[_Whispering suddenly._] What d'ye care, girl! She just gits kinder
rough now an' then.

MARIE

[_Furiously._] She c'n keep her dirty money to herself!--[_Tearfully._]
I'd rather starve! [_She follows GOLISCH, who has preceded her with the
wheelbarrow._] Naw, just to think of it!--It's enough to make you....

    [_She disappears, as does MRS. SPILLER._

    _Through the great gate comes BAER called HOPPING BAER. He is a lank
    fellow with a vulture's neck and goitre. His feet and head are bare.
    His breeches, badly ravelled at the bottom, scarcely reach below the
    knee. The top of his head is bald. Such hair as he has, brown, dusty,
    and clotted, hangs down over his shoulders. His gait is ostrich-like.
    By a cord he draws behind him a child's toy waggon full of sand. His
    face is beardless. His whole appearance shows him to be a
    god-forsaken peasant lad in the twenties._

BAER

[_With a strangely bleating voice._] Sa--a--and! Sa--a--and!

    _He crosses the yard and disappears between the house and the
    stables. HOFFMANN and HELEN come from the house. HELEN is pale and
    carries an empty glass in her hand._

HOFFMANN

[_To HELEN._] Entertain him a bit! You understand? Don't let him go. I
should hate to have him.--Injured vanity like that!... Good-bye!... Oh,
maybe I oughtn't to go at all? How is Martha doing?--I've got a queer
kind of feeling as if pretty soon.... Nonsense!--Good-bye! ... awful
hurry!... [_Calls out._] Franz! Give the horses their heads!

    [_Leaves rapidly through the main gate._

    _HELEN goes to the pump, fills her glass and empties it at one
    draught. She empties half of another glass. She then sets the glass
    on the pump and then strolls slowly, looking backward from time to
    time, through the gate-may. BAER emerges from between the house and
    the stables and stops with his waggon before the house door, where
    MIELE takes some sand from him. In the meantime KAHL has become
    visible at the right, beyond the dividing fence. He is in
    conversation with MRS. SPILLER, who is on the hither side of the
    fence and therefore close to the entrance of the yard. As the
    conversation proceeds, both walk slowly along the fence._

MRS. SPILLER

[_Mildly agonised._] Ah yes--m--Mr. Kahl! I have--m--many a time thought
of--m--you when ... when our--m--dear Miss Helen ... She is so
to--m--speak betrothed to you and so--m--ah! I--m--must say ... in my
time...!

KAHL

[_Mounts a rustic bench under the oak-tree and fastens a bird trap to the
lowest branch._] When is th-that b-beast of a doctor goin' to git out o'
here? Ha?

MRS. SPILLER

Ah, Mr. Kahl! I don't--m--think so very soon.--Ah, Mr. Kahl, I--m--have,
so to speak, come--m--down in the world, but I--m--know--m--what
refinement is. In this respect, Mr. Kahl, I--must say--dear Miss
Helen isn't--m--acting quite right toward you. No--m--in that
respect, so to speak--m--I've never had anything with which
to--m--reproach myself--m--my conscience, dear Mr. Kahl, is as
pure in that--m--respect--so to speak, as new-fallen snow.

    _BAER has finished the sale of his sand and, at this moment, passes
    by KAHL in order to leave the yard._

KAHL

[_Discovers BAER and calls out._] Heres hopping Baer! Hop a bit!

    _BAER takes a, huge leap._

KAHL

[_Bellowing with laughter._] Here, hopping Baer! Hop again!

MRS. SPILLER

Well--m--Mr. Kahl, what I want to say is--m--I have the
best--m--intentions toward you. You ought to observe very--m--carefully.
Something--m--is going on between our young lady and--m--

KAHL

If I could j-jist git my d-dogs on that son of a--... Jist once!

MRS. SPILLER

[_Mysteriously._] And I'm afraid you--m--don't know what kind of an
individual that--m--is. Oh, I am so--m--truly sorry for our dear young
lady. The wife of the bailiff--she has it straight from the office, I
think. He is said to be a--m--really dangerous person. The woman said her
husband had--m--orders, just think! actually--m--to keep his eye on him.

    _LOTH comes from the house and looks about._

MRS. SPILLER

You see, now he is going--m--after our young lady. Oh, it's _too_
sad--m--for anything.

KAHL

Aw! You wait an' see!

    [_Exit._

    _MRS. SPILLER goes to the door of the house. In passing LOTH she
    makes a deep bow. Then she disappears into the house._

    _LOTH disappears slowly through the gateway. The coachman's wife, an
    emaciated, worried, starved woman, emerges from between the house and
    the stables. She carries a large pot hidden under her apron and
    slinks off toward the cow-shed, looking about fearfully at every
    moment. She disappears into the door of the stable. The two MAIDS,
    each before her a wheel-barrow laden with clover, enter by the gate.
    BEIPST, his pipe in his mouth and his scythe across his shoulder,
    follows them, LIESE has wheeled her barrow in front of the left,
    AUGUSTE hers in front of the right door of the barn, and both begin
    to carry great armfuls of clover into the building._

LIESE

[_Coming back out of the stable._] Guste! D'ye know, Marie is gone.

AUGUSTE

Aw, don' tell me!

LIESE

Go in there'n ask the coachman's wife. She's gittin' her a drop o' milk.

BEIPST

[_Hangs up his scythe on the wall._] Ye'd better not let that Spiller
creature get wind o' it.

AUGUSTE

Oh, Lord, no! Who'd think o' it!

LIESE

A poor woman like that with eight--

AUGUSTE

Eight little brats. They wants to be fed!

LIESE

An' they wouldn't give her a drop o' milk even. It's low, that's what I
calls it.

AUGUSTE

Where is she milkin'?

LIESE

Way back there.

BEIPST

[_Fills his pipe. Holding his tobacco-pouch with his teeth he mumbles._]
Ye say Marie's gone?

LIESE

Yes, it's true an' certain. The parson's hired man slept with her.

BEIPST

[_Replacing the tobacco-pouch in his pocket._] Everybody feels that way
sometimes--even a woman. [_He lights his pipe and disappears through the
gateway. In going:_] I'm goin' fer a bit o' breakfast.

THE COACHMAN'S WIFE

[_Hiding the pot full of milk carefully under her apron, sticks her head
out of the stable door._] Anybody in sight?

LIESE

Ye c'n come if ye'll hurry. There ain't nobody. Come! Hurry!

THE COACHMAN'S WIFE

[_Passing by the maids._] It's fer the nursin' baby.

LIESE

[_Calling out after her._] Hurry! Some one's comin'.

    _THE COACHMAN'S WIFE disappears between the house and the stable._

AUGUSTE

It's only the young Miss.

    _The maids now finish unloading their wheelbarrows and then thrust
    them under the doorway. They both go into the cow-shed._

    _HELEN and LOTH enter by the gate._

LOTH

A disgusting fellow--this Kahl--an insolent sneak.

HELEN

I think in the arbour in front--[_They pass through the small gate into
the little garden by the house and into the arbour._] It's my favourite
place, I'm less disturbed there than anywhere if, sometimes, I want to
read something.

LOTH

It's a pretty place.--Really. [_Both sit down in the arbour, consciously
keeping at some distance from one another. An interval of silence. Then
LOTH._] You have very beautiful and abundant hair.

HELEN

Yes, my brother-in-law says so too. He thought he had scarcely seen
anyone with so much--not even in the city ... The braid at the top is as
thick as my wrist ... When I let it down, it reaches to my knees. Feel
it. It's like silk, isn't it?

LOTH

It is like silk.

    [_A tremour passes through him. He bends down and kisses her hair._

HELEN

[_Frightened._] Ah, don't. If ...

LOTH

Helen! Were you in earnest a while ago?

HELEN

Oh, I am so ashamed--so deeply ashamed. What have I done? Why, I've
thrown myself at you. That's what I've done. I wonder what you take me
for?

LOTH

[_Draws nearer to her and takes her hand in his._] Ah, you mustn't let
_that_ trouble you.

HELEN

[_Sighing._] Oh, if Sister Schmittgen knew of that--I dare not imagine
it.

LOTH

Who is Sister Schmittgen?

HELEN

One of my teachers at boarding-school.

LOTH

How can you worry about Sister Schmittgen!

HELEN

She was very good.

    [_Laughing heartily to herself suddenly._

LOTH

Why do you laugh all at once?

HELEN

[_Half between respect and jest._] Oh, when she stood in the choir and
sang--she had only one long tooth left--then she was supposed to sing:
"Trouble yourselves not, my people!"--and it always sounded like:
"'Rouble, 'rouble yourselves not, my people!" It was too funny. And we
always had to laugh so ... when it sounded through the chapel: "'Rouble,
'rouble!" [_She laughs more and more heartily. LOTH becomes infected by
her mirth. She seems so sweet to him at this moment that he wants to take
the opportunity to put his arms about her. HELEN wards him off._] An, no!
no! Just think! I threw myself at you!

LOTH

Oh, don't say such things!

HELEN

But it isn't my fault; you have only yourself to blame for it. Why do you
demand ...

    _LOTH puts his arm about her once more and draws her closer to him.
    At first she resists a little, then she yields and gazes, with frank
    blessedness, into the joyous face of LOTH which bends above her.
    Involuntarily, in the awkwardness of her very timidity, she kisses
    his mouth. Both grow red; then LOTH returns her kiss. His caress is
    long and heartfelt. A giving and taking of kisses--silent and
    eloquent at once--is, for a time, all that passes between them. LOTH
    is the first to speak._

LOTH

Nellie, dearest! Nellie is your name, isn't it?

HELEN

[_Kisses him._] Call me something else ... call me what you like best ...

LOTH

Dearest!...

    _The exchange of kisses and of mutual contemplation is repeated._

HELEN

[_Held tight in LOTH'S arms, resting her head on his shoulder, looking up
at him with dim, happy eyes, whispers ecstatically._] Oh, how beautiful!
How beautiful!

LOTH

To die with you--thus ...

HELEN

[_Passionately._] To live!... [_She disengages herself from his
embrace._] Why die now?... now ...

LOTH

Yon must not misunderstand me. Always, in happy moments, it has come over
me with a sense of intoxication--the consciousness of the fact that it is
in our power, in my power, to embrace--you understand?

HELEN

To embrace death, if you desired it?

LOTH

[_Quite devoid of sentimentality._] Yes! And the thought of death has
nothing horrible in it for me. On the contrary, it seems like the thought
of a friend. One calls and knows surely that death will come. And so one
can rise above so many, many things--above one's past, above one's future
fate ... [_Looking at HELEN'S hand._] What a lovely hand you have.

    [_He caresses it._

HELEN

Ah, yes!--so!...

    [_She nestles anew in his arms._

LOTH

No, do you know, I haven't really lived--until now!

HELEN

Do you think I have?... And I feel faint--faint with happiness. Dear God,
how suddenly it all came ...

LOTH

Yes, it came all at once ...

HELEN

Listen, I feel this way: all the days of my life are like one day; but
yesterday and to-day are like a year--a whole year!

LOTH

Didn't I come till yesterday?

HELEN

Of course not! Naturally! That's just it!... Oh, and you don't even know
it!

LOTH

And surely it seems to me ...

HELEN

Doesn't it? Like a whole, long year! Doesn't it? [_Half jumping up._]
Wait...! Don't you hear ... [_They move away from each other._] Oh, but
I don't care one bit! I am so full of courage now.

    [_She remains seated and invites LOTH with her eyes to move nearer,
    which he does._

HELEN

[_In LOTH'S arms._] Dear, what are we going to do first?

LOTH

Your step-mother, I suppose, would send me packing.

HELEN

Oh, my step-mother ... that won't matter ... it doesn't even concern her!
I do as I please! I have my mother's fortune, you must know.

LOTH

Did you think on that account ...

HELEN

I am of age; father will have to give me my share.

LOTH

You are not, then, on good terms with everyone here?--Where has your
father gone to?

HELEN

Gone? You have?... Oh, you haven't seen my father yet?

LOTH

No; Hoffmann told me....

HELEN

Surely, you saw him once.

LOTH

Not that I know of. Where, dearest?

HELEN

I.... [_She bursts into tears._] No, I can't. I can't tell you ... it's
too, too fearful!

LOTH

So fearful? But, Helen, is anything wrong with your father?

HELEN

Oh, don't ask me! Not now, at least! Some time...!

LOTH

I will not urge you to tell me anything, dear, that you don't voluntarily
speak of. And, look, as far as the money is concerned ... if the worst
came ... though I don't exactly earn superfluous cash with my
articles--still, in the end, we could both manage to exist on it.

HELEN

And I wouldn't be idle either, would I? But the other way is better. My
inheritance Is more than enough.--And there's your life work ... no,
you're not to give that up under any circumstances ... now less than ever
...! Now you're to have your real chance to pursue it!

LOTH

[_Kissing her tenderly._] Dearest, best ...

HELEN

Oh, do you truly care...? Truly? Truly?

LOTH

Truly.

HELEN

You must say truly a hundred times.

LOTH

Truly and truly and truthfully.

HELEN

Oh, now, you're not playing fair!

LOTH

I am, though. That truthfully is equal to a hundred trulys.

HELEN

Oh? Is that the custom in Berlin?

LOTH

No, but it is here in Witzdorf.

HELEN

Oh! But now, look at my little finger and don't laugh.

LOTH

Gladly.

HELEN

Did you ever love any one before your first betrothed? Oh, now you _are_
laughing!

LOTH

I will tell you in all seriousness, dearest; indeed, I think it is my
duty.... In the course of my life a considerable number of women....

HELEN

[_With a quick and violent start, pressing her hand over his mouth._] For
the love of.... Tell me that some day, later, when we are old, when the
years have passed, when I shall say to you: "now!" Do you hear! Not
before!

LOTH

Just as you will.

HELEN

Rather tell me something sweet now!... Listen: repeat after me:

LOTH

What?

HELEN

I have loved--

LOTH

I have loved--

HELEN

Always you only--

LOTH

Always you only--

HELEN

All the days of my life--

LOTH

All the days of my life--

HELEN

And will love you only as long as I live--

LOTH

And will love you only as long as I live--and that is true so surely as I
am an honest man.

HELEN

[_Joyfully._] I didn't add that!

LOTH

But I did.

    [_They kiss each other._

HELEN

[_Hums very softly._] "Thou in my heart art lying ..."

LOTH

But now you must confess too.

HELEN

Anything you like.

LOTH

Confess now! Am I the first?

HELEN

No.

LOTH

Who?

HELEN

[_Laughing out in the fullness of her joy._] Willy Kahl!

LOTH

[_Laughing._] Who else?

HELEN

Oh, no, there's no one else really. You must believe me ... Truly there
wasn't. Why should I tell you a falsehood?

LOTH

So there _was_ someone else?

HELEN

[_Passionately._] Oh, please, please, please, don't ask me now.

    [_She hides her face in her hands and weeps apparently without any
    reason._

LOTH

But ... but Nellie! I'm not insistent; I don't want to ...

HELEN

Later ... I'll tell you later ... not now!

LOTH

As I said before, dearest.

HELEN

There was some one--I want you to know--whom I ... because ... because
among wicked people he seemed the least wicked. Oh, it is so different
now. [_Weeping against LOTH'S neck: stormily._] Ah, if I only didn't have
to leave you at all any more! Oh, if I could only go away with you right
here on the spot!

LOTH

I suppose you have a very unhappy time in the house here?

HELEN

Oh, dear!--It's just frightful--the things that happen here. It's a life
like--that ... like that of the beasts of the field--Oh, I would have
died without you. I shudder to think of it!

LOTH

I believe it would calm you, dearest, if you would tell me everything
quite openly.

HELEN

Yes, to be sure. But I don't think I can bear to. Not now, at least, not
yet. And I'm really afraid to.

LOTH

You were at boarding-school, weren't you?

HELEN

My mother decided that I be sent--on her death-bed.

LOTH

Was your sister there with you?

HELEN

No, she was always at home ... And so when, four years ago, I came back
from school, I found a father--who ... a step-mother--who ... a sister
... guess, can't you guess what I mean!

LOTH

I suppose your step-mother is quarrelsome? Perhaps jealous? unloving?

HELEN

My father...?

LOTH

Well, in all probability he dances to her music. Perhaps she tyrannises
over him?

HELEN

Oh, if it were nothing else?... No! It is too frightful!--You can't
possibly guess that _that_ ... my father ... that it was _my_ father whom
you ...

LOTH

Don't weep, Nellie!... Look, you almost make me feel as though I ought to
insist that you tell ...

HELEN

No, no, it isn't possible. I haven't the strength!--not yet!

LOTH

But you're wearing yourself out this way!

HELEN

But I'm so ashamed, so boundlessly ashamed! Why, you will drive me from
you in horror...! It's beyond anything...! It's loathsome!

LOTH

Nellie, dear, you don't know me if you can think such things of me!
Repulse you! Drive you from me! Do I seem such a brute to you?

HELEN

My brother-in-law said that you would quite calmly ... But no, no, you
wouldn't? Would you?--You wouldn't just ruthlessly walk over me? Oh! you
won't! You mustn't! I don't know what _would_ become of me!

LOTH

But, dear, it's senseless to talk so. There's no earthly reason!

HELEN

But if there were a reason, it might happen!

LOTH

No! Not at all!

HELEN

But if you could think of a reason?

LOTH

There are reasons, to be sure; but they're not in question.

HELEN

And what kind of reasons?

LOTH

I would have to be ruthless only toward some one who would make me betray
my own most ideal self.

HELEN

And surely, I wouldn't want to do that! And yet I can't rid myself of the
feeling--

LOTH

What feeling, dearest?

HELEN

Perhaps it's just because I'm nothing but a silly girl. There's so little
to me--Why, I don't even know what it is--to have principles! Isn't that
frightful? But I just simply love you so! And you're so good, and so
great, and so very wise! I'm so afraid that you might, sometime,
discover--when I say something foolish, or do something--that it's all a
mistake, that I'm much too silly for you ... I'm really as worthless and
as silly as I can be!

LOTH

What shall I say to all that? You're everything to me, just everything in
the whole world. I can't say more!

HELEN

And I'm very strong and healthy, too ...

LOTH

Tell me, are your parents in good health?

HELEN

Indeed they are. That is, mother died in childbirth. But father is still
well; in fact he must have a very strong constitution. But ...

LOTH

Well, you see. Everything is ...

HELEN

But if my parents were not strong--;

LOTH

[_Kissing HELEN._] But then, they are, dear.

HELEN

But suppose they were not--?

    _MRS. KRAUSE pushes open a window in the house and calls out into the
    yard._

MRS. KRAUSE

Hey! Girls! Gi--rls!

LIESE

[_From within the cow-shed._] Yes, Missis?

MRS. KRAUSE

Run to Mueller's! It's startin'!

LIESE

What! To the midwife, ye mean?

MRS. KRAUSE

Are ye standin' on your ear?

    [_She slams the window._

    _LIESE runs out of the cow-shed with a little shawl over her head and
    then out of the yard._

MRS. SPILLER

[_Calls._] Miss Helen! Oh, Miss Helen!

HELEN

What do you suppose is--?

MRS. SPILLER

[_Approaching the arbour._] Miss Helen!

HELEN

Oh, I know. It's my sister who--You must go, 'round that way!

    [_LOTH withdraws rapidly by the right foreground. HELEN steps out
    from the arbour._

MRS. SPILLER

Oh, Miss, there you are at last!

HELEN

What is it?

MRS. SPILLER

Ah--m--your sister.

    [_She whispers into HELEN'S ear._

HELEN

My brother-in-law ordered that the doctor be sent for at any sign of--

MRS. SPILLER

Oh--m--dear Miss Helen--m--she doesn't really want a doctor. These
doctors--m--oh, these doctors--m--with God's help ...

    _MIELE comes from the house._

HELEN

Miele, go at once for Dr. Schimmelpfennig!

MRS. KRAUSE

[_From the window, arrogantly._] Miele! You come up here!

HELEN

[_In a tone of command._] Miele, you go for the doctor! [_MIELE withdraws
into the house._] Well, then I must go myself ...

    [_She goes into the house and comes back out at once carrying her
    straw hat._

MRS. SPILLER

It'll go wrong--m--If you call the doctor, dear Miss Helen,--m--it will
surely go wrong!

    _HELEN passes her by. MRS. SPILLER withdraws into the house, shaking
    her head. As HELEN turns at the driveway KAHL is standing at the
    boundary fence._

KAHL

[_Calls out to HELEN._] What's the matter over at your place?

    _HELEN does not stop, nor does she deign to notice or answer KAHL._

KAHL

[_Laughing._] I guess ye got a pig killin'?


CURTAIN



THE FIFTH ACT


    _The same room, as in the first act. Time: toward two o'clock in the
    morning. The room is in complete darkness. Through the open middle
    door light penetrates into it from the illuminated hall. The light
    also falls clearly upon the wooden stairway that leads to the upper
    floor. The conversation in this act--with very few exceptions--is
    carried on in a muffled tone._

    _EDWARD enters through the middle door, carrying a light. He lights
    the hanging lamp (it is a gas lamp) over the corner table. While he
    is thus employed, LOTH _also enters by the middle door._

EDWARD

O Lord! Such goin's on! It'd take a monster to be able to close a eye
here!

LOTH

I didn't even try to sleep. I have been writing.

EDWARD

You don't say! [_He succeeds in lighting the lamp._] There! Well, sure, I
guess it's hard enough, too ... Maybe you'd like to have paper and ink,
sir?

LOTH

Perhaps that would be ... If you would be so good, then, Mr. Edward?

EDWARD

[_Placing pen and ink on the table._] I'm always thinkin' that any honest
fellow has got to get all the work there's in every bone for every dirty
penny. You can't even get your rest o' nights. [_More and more
confidentially._] But this crew here! They don't do one thing--a lazy,
worthless crew, a--... I suppose, sir, that you've got to be at it early
and late too, like all honest folks, for your bit o' bread.

LOTH

I wish I didn't have to.

EDWARD

Me too, you betcher.

LOTH

I suppose Miss Helen is with her sister?

EDWARD

Yes, sir, an', honestly, she's a good girl, she is; hasn't budged since
it started.

LOTH

[_Looking at his watch._] The pains began at eleven o'clock in the
morning. So they've already lasted fifteen hours--fifteen long hours--!

EDWARD

Lord, yes!--And that's what they calls the weaker sex. But she's just
barely gaspin'.

LOTH

And is Mr. Hoffmann upstairs, too?

EDWARD

Yes, an' I can tell you, he's goin' on like a woman.

LOTH

Well, I suppose it isn't very easy to have to watch that.

EDWARD

You're right there, indeed. Dr. Schimmelpfennig came just now. There's a
man for you: rough as rough can be--but sugar ain't nothing to his real
feelings. But just tell me what's become of little, old Berlin in all
this ...

    [_He interrupts himself with a_ Gee-rusa-lem! _as HOFFMANN and the
    DOCTOR are seen coming down the stairs._

    _HOFFMANN and DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG enter._

HOFFMANN

Surely--you will stay with us from now on.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Yes, I suppose I will stay now.

HOFFMANN

That's a very, very great consolation to me.--Will you have a glass of
wine? Surely you'll drink a glass of wine, Doctor?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

If you want to do something for me, have a cup of coffee prepared.

HOFFMANN

With pleasure. Edward! Coffee for the doctor! [_EDWARD withdraws._] Are
you...? Are you satisfied with the way things are going?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

So long as your wife's strength keeps up there is, at all events, no
direct danger. But why didn't you call in the young midwife? I remember
having recommended her to you.

HOFFMANN

My mother-in-law...! What is one to do? And, to be frank with you, my
wife has no confidence in the young woman either.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

But your ladies place confidence in this old fossil? Well, I hope they'll
... And I suppose you would like to go back upstairs?

HOFFMANN

Yes, honestly, I can't get much rest down here.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

It would be better undoubtedly if you were to go somewhere--out of the
house.

HOFFMANN

With the best will in the world, I--. [_LOTH arises from the sofa in the
dim foreground and approaches the two._] Hallo, Loth, there you are too!

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Surprised in the extreme._] Well, I'll be--!

LOTH

I heard that you were here. I would have looked you up to-morrow without
fail.

    [_They shake hands cordially. HOFFMANN takes the opportunity to mash
    down a glass of brandy at the side-board and then to creep back
    upstairs on tiptoe._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

So you've evidently forgotten--ha, ha, ha--that ridiculous old affair?

    [_He lays aside his hat and cane._

LOTH

Long ago, Schimmel!

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Well, so have I, as you can well imagine. [_They shake hands once more._]
I've had so few pleasant surprises in this hole, that this one seems
positively queer to me. And it is strange that we should meet just here.
It _is_.

LOTH

And you faded clear out of sight. Otherwise I'd have routed you out long
ago.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Oh, I just dived below the surface like a seal. Made deep-sea
investigations. In about a year and a half I hope to emerge once more. A
man must be financially independent--do you know that?--In order to
achieve anything useful.

LOTH

So you, too, are making money here?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Naturally and as much as possible. What else is there to do here?

LOTH

You might have let some one hear from you!

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I beg your pardon. But if I had been heard from, I would have heard from
you fellows--and I absolutely didn't want to hear. Nothingnothing. That
would simply have kept me from exploiting my diggings here.

    _The two men walk slowly up and down the room._

LOTH

I see. But then you mustn't be surprised to hear that ... well, they all,
without an exception, really gave you up as hopeless.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

That's like them--the scamps! They'll be made to take notice.

LOTH

Schimmel--otherwise the "rough husk"!

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I wish you had had to live here among the farmers for six years.
Hellhounds--every one of them.

LOTH

I can imagine that.--But how in the world did you get to Witzdorf?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

The way such things do happen! You remember I had to skin out from Jena
that time.

LOTH

Was that before my crash?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Yes, a short time after we'd given up living together. So I took up
medicine at Zuerich, first simply so as to have something against a time
of need. But then the thing began to interest me, and now I'm a doctor,
heart and soul.

LOTH

And about this place. How did you get here?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Very simply. When I got through I said to myself: first of all you've got
to have a sufficient pile. I thought of America, South and North America,
of Africa, Australia and the isles of the sea ... In the end it occurred
to me, however, that my escapade had become outlawed; and so I made up my
mind to creep back into the old trap.

LOTH

And how about your Swiss examinations?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Why, I simply had to go through the whole rigmarole once more.

LOTH

Man! You passed the state medical examination twice over?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Yes, luckily I then discovered this fat pasture here.

LOTH

Your toughness is certainly enviable.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

All very well, unless one collapses suddenly.--Well, it wouldn't matter
so greatly after all.

LOTH

Have you a very large practice?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Oh, yes. Occasionally I don't get to bed till five o'clock in the
morning. And at seven my consultation hour begins again.

    _EDWARD comes in, bringing coffee._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Sitting down at the table, to EDWARD._] Thank you, Edward.--[_To
LOTH._]--The way I swill coffee is--uncanny.

LOTH

You'd better give that up.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

What is one to do? [_He takes small swallows._] As I told you awhile
ago--another year; then--all this stops. At least, I hope so.

LOTH

Don't you intend to practice after that at all?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Don't think so. No--no more. [_He pushes back the tray with the dishes
and wipes his mouth._] By the way, let's see your hand. [_LOTH holds up
both his hands for inspection._] I see. You've taken no wife to your
bosom yet. Haven't found one, I suppose. I remember you always wanted
primaeval vigour in the woman of your choice on account of the soundness
of the strain. And you're quite right, too. If one takes a risk, it ought
to be a good one. Or maybe you've become less stringent in that respect.

LOTH

Not a bit! You may take your oath.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I wish the farmers around here had such notions. But they're in a
wretched condition--degeneration along the whole line ... [_He has half
taken his cigar case from his inner pocket but lets it slip back and
arises as a sound penetrates through the door which is only ajar._] Wait
a moment! [_He goes on tiptoe to the door leading to the hall and
listens. A door is heard to open and close, and for several moments the
moans of the woman in labour are audible. The DOCTOR, turning to LOTH,
says softly._] Excuse me!

    [_And goes out._

    _For several seconds, while the slamming of doors is heard and the
    sound of people running up and down the stairs, LOTH paces the room.
    Then he sits down in the arm-chair in the foreground, right. HELEN
    slips in and throws her arms about LOTH, who has not observed her
    coming from, behind._

LOTH

[_Looking around and embracing her in turn._] Nellie! [_He drams her down
upon his knee in spite of her gentle resistance. HELEN weeps under his
kisses._] Don't cry, Nellie! Why are you crying so?

HELEN

Why? Oh, if I knew!... I keep thinking that I won't find you here. Just
now I had such a fright ...

LOTH

But why?

HELEN

Because I heard you go out of your room--Oh, and my sister--we poor, poor
women!--oh, she's suffering too much!

LOTH

The pain is soon forgotten and there is no danger of death.

HELEN

Oh, but she is praying so to die. She wails and wails: Do let me die!...
The doctor!

    [_She jumps up and slips into the conservatory._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_On entering._] I do really wish now that that little woman upstairs
would hurry a bit! [_He sits down beside the table, takes out his cigar
case again, extracts a cigar from it and lays the latter down on the
table._] You'll come over to my house afterward, won't you? I have a
necessary evil with two horses standing out there in which we can drive
straight over. [_He taps his cigar against the edge of the table._] Oh,
the holy state of matrimony! O Lord! [_Striking a match._] So you're
still pure, free, pious and merry?

LOTH

You might better have waited a few more days with that question.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_His cigar is lit now._] Oho! I see!--[_laughing_]--so you've caught on
to my tricks at last!

LOTH

Are you still so frightfully pessimistic in regard to women?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

_Fright_fully! [_Watching the drifting smoke of his cigar._] In other
years I was a pessimist, so to speak, by presentiment....

LOTH

Have you had very special experiences in the meantime?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

That's just it. My shingle reads: Specialist for Diseases of Women.--The
practice of medicine, I assure you, makes a man terribly wise ...
terribly ... sane ...; it's a specific against all kinds of delusions.

LOTH

[_Laughing._] Well, then we can fall back into our old tone at once. I
want you to know ... I haven't caught on to your tricks at all. Less than
ever now ... But I am to understand, I suppose, that you've exchanged
your old hobby?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Hobby?

LOTH

The question of woman was in those days in a certain way your pet
subject.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I see! And why should I have exchanged it?

LOTH

If you think even worse of women than ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Somewhat aroused. He gets up and walks to and fro while he is
speaking._] I don't think evil of women.--Not a bit!--I think evil only
of marrying ... of marriage ... of marriage and--at most, of men ... The
woman question, you think, has ceased to interest me? What do you suppose
I've worked here for, during six years, like a cart horse? Surely in
order to devote at last all the power that is in me to the solution of
that question. Didn't you know that from the beginning?

LOTH

How do you suppose I could have known it?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Well, as I said ... and I've already gathered a lot of very significant
material that will be of some service to me! Sh! I've got the bad habit
of raising my voice. [_He falls silent, listens, goes to the door and
comes back._] But what took you among these gold farmers?

LOTH

I would like to study the local conditions.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_In a repressed tone._] What a notion! [_Still more softly._] I can give
you plenty of material there too.

LOTH

To be sure. You must be thoroughly informed as to the conditions here.
How do things look among the families around here?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Miserable! There's nothing but drunkenness, gluttony, inbreeding and, in
consequence,--degeneration along the whole line.

LOTH

With exceptions, surely?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Hardly.

LOTH

[_Disquieted._] Didn't the temptation ever come to you to ... to marry a
daughter of one of these Witzdorf gold farmers?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

The devil! Man, what do you take me for? You might as well ask whether I
...

LOTH

[_Very pale._] But why ... why?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Because ... Anything wrong with you?

    [_He regards LOTH steadily for several moments._

LOTH

Certainly not. What should be wrong?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Has suddenly become very thoughtful. He stops in his walking suddenly
and whistles softly, glances at LOTH and then mutters to himself._]
That's bad!

LOTH

You act very strangely all of a sudden.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Sh!

    [_He listens carefully and then leaves, the room quickly by the
    middle door._

HELEN

[_Comes at the end of several seconds from the middle door. She cries
out._] Alfred!--Alfred!... You're here. Oh, thank God!

LOTH

Well, dear, did you suppose I had run away?

    [_They embrace each other._

HELEN

[_Bends back. With unmistakable terror in her face._] Alfred!

LOTH

What is it, dearest?

HELEN

Nothing, nothing ...

LOTH

But there must be something.

HELEN

You seemed so cold ... Oh, I have such foolish fancies....

LOTH

How are things going upstairs?

HELEN

The doctor is quarreling with the midwife.

LOTH

Isn't it going to end soon?

HELEN

How do I know? But when it ends, when it ends--then....

LOTH

What then?... Tell me, please, what were you going to say?

HELEN

Then we ought soon to go away from here. At once! Oh, right away!

LOTH

If you think that would really be best, Nellie--

HELEN

It is! it is! We mustn't wait! It's the best thing--for you and for me.
If you don't take me soon, you'll just leave me quite, and then, and then
... It would just be all over with me.

LOTH

How distrustful you are, Nellie.

HELEN

Don't say that, dearest. Anybody would trust you, would just have to
trust you!... When I am your own, oh, then ... then, you surely wouldn't
leave me. [_As if beside herself._] I beseech you! Don't go away! Only
don't leave me! Don't--go, Alfred! If you go away without me, I would
just have to die, just have to die!

LOTH

But you are strange!... And you say you're not distrustful! Or perhaps
they're worrying you, torturing you terribly here--more than ever ... At
all events we'll leave this very night. I am ready. And so, as soon as
you are--we can go.

HELEN

[_Falling around his neck with a cry of joyous gratitude._]
Dear--dearest!

    [_She kisses him madly and hurries out._

    _DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG comes in through the middle door and catches a
    glimpse of HELEN disappearing into the conservatory._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Who was that?--Ah, yes! [_To himself._] Poor thing!

    [_He sits down beside the table with a sigh, finds his old cigar,
    throws it aside, takes a new cigar from the case and starts to knock
    it gently against the edge of the table. Thoughtfully he looks away
    across it._

LOTH

[_Watching him._] That's just the way you used to loosen every cigar
before smoking it eight years ago.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

It's possible--[_When he has lit and begun to smoke the cigar._] Listen
to me!

LOTH

Yes; what is it?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I take it that, so soon as the affair is over, you'll come along with me.

LOTH

Can't be done. I'm sorry.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Once in a while, you know, one does feel like talking oneself out
thoroughly.

LOTH

I feel that need quite as much, as you do. But you can see from just that
how utterly out of my power it is to go ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

But suppose I give you my emphatic and, in a way, solemn assurance that
there is a specific, an extremely important matter that I'd like--no,
that I must discuss with you to-night, Loth!

LOTH

Queer! You don't expect me to take that in deadly earnest. Surely
not!--You've waited to discuss that matter so many years and now it can't
wait one more day? You know me--I'm not pretending.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

So I am right! Well, well ...

    [_He gets up and walks about._

LOTH

What are you right about?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_Standing still before LOTH _and looking straight into his eyes._] So
there is really something between you and Helen Krause?

LOTH

Who said--?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

How in the world did you fall in with this family?

LOTH

How do you know that, Schimmel?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

It wasn't _so_ hard to guess.

LOTH

Well then, for heaven's sake, don't say a word, because ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

So you're quite regularly betrothed?

LOTH

Call it that. At all events, we're agreed.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

But what I want to know is: how did you fall in with this particular
family?

LOTH

Hoffmann's an old college friend of mine. Then, too, he was a
member--though only a corresponding one--of my colonisation society.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I heard about that business at Zuerich.--So he was associated with you.
That explains the wretched half-and-half creature that he is.

LOTH

That describes him, no doubt.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

He isn't even _that_, really.--But, look here, Loth! Is that your honest
intention? I mean this thing with the Krause girl.

LOTH

Of course it is! Can you doubt it? You don't think me such a scoundrel--?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Very well! Don't exert yourself! You've probably changed in all this long
time. And why not? It needn't be entirely a disadvantage. A little bit of
humour couldn't harm you. I don't see why one must look at all things in
that damnably serious way.

LOTH

I take things more seriously than ever. [_He gets up and walks up and
down with SCHIMMELPFENNIG, always keeping slightly behind the latter._]
You can't possibly know, and I can't possibly explain to you, what this
thing means to me.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Hm!

LOTH

Man, you have no notion of the condition I'm in. One doesn't know it by
simply longing for it. If one did, one would simply go mad with yearning.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Let the devil try to understand how you fellows come by this senseless
yearning.

LOTH

You're not safe against an attack yourself yet.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I'd like to see that!

LOTH

You talk as a blind man would of colour.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I wouldn't give a farthing for that bit of intoxication. Ridiculous! And
to build a life-long union on such a foundation. I'd rather trust a heap
of shifting sand.

LOTH

Intoxication! Pshaw! To call it that is simply to show your utter
blindness to it. Intoxication is fleeting. I've had such spells, I admit.
This happens to be something different.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Hm!

LOTH

I'm perfectly sober all through it. Do you imagine that I surround my
darling with a kind of a--well, how shall I put it--a kind of an aureole?
Not In the least. She lias her faults; she isn't remarkably beautiful, at
least--well, she's certainly not exactly homely either. Judging her quite
objectively--of course it's entirely a matter of taste--I haven't seen
such a sweet girl before in my life. So when you talk of mere
intoxication--nonsense! I am as sober as possible. But, my friend, this
is the remarkable thing: I simply can't imagine myself without her any
longer. It seems to me like an amalgam, as when two metals are so
intimately welded together that you can't say any longer, here's the one,
there's the other. And it all seems so utterly inevitable. In
short--maybe I'm talking rot--or what I say may seem rot to you, but so
much is certain: a man who doesn't know _that_ is a kind of cool-blooded
fishy creature. That's the kind of creature I was up till now, and that's
the kind of wretched thing you are still.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

That's a very complete set of symptoms. Queer how you fellows always
slide up to the very ears into the particular things that you've long ago
rejected theoretically--like yourself into marriage. As long as I've
known you, you've struggled with this unhappy mania for marriage.

LOTH

It's instinct with me, sheer instinct. God knows, I can wriggle all I
please--there it is.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

When all's said and done one can fight down even an instinct.

LOTH

Certainly, if there's a good reason, why not?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Is there any good reason for marrying?

LOTH

I should say there is. It has a purpose; it has for me! You don't know
how I've succeeded in struggling along hitherto. I don't want to grow
sentimental. Perhaps I didn't feel it quite so keenly either; perhaps I
wasn't so clearly conscious of it as I am now, that in all my endeavour I
had taken on something desolate, something machine-like. No spirit, no
fire, no life! Heaven knows whether I had any faith left! And all that
has come back to me to-day--with such strange fullness, such primal
energy, such joy ... Pshaw, what's the use ... You don't understand.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

The various things you fellows need to keep you going--faith, love, hope.
I consider all that trash. The thing is simply this: humanity lies in its
death throes and we're merely trying to make the agony as bearable as we
can by administering narcotics.

LOTH

Is that your latest point of view?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

It's five or six years old by this time and I see no reason to change it.

LOTH

I congratulate you on it.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Thank you.

    _A long pause ensues._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

[_After several disquieted and unsuccessful beginnings._] The trouble is
just this. I feel that I'm responsible ... I absolutely owe you an
elucidation. I don't believe that you will be able to marry Helen Krause.

LOTH

[_Frigidly._] Oh, is that what you think?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Yes, that's my opinion. There are obstacles present which just you would
...

LOTH

Look here! Don't for heaven's sake have any scruples on that account. The
conditions, as a matter of fact, aren't so complicated as all that. At
bottom they're really terribly simple.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Simply terrible, you'd better say.

LOTH

I was referring simply to the obstacles.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

So was I, very largely. But take it all in all, I can't imagine that you
really know the conditions as they are.

LOTH

Please, Schimmel, express yourself more clearly.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

You must absolutely have dropped the chief demand which you used to make
in regard to marriage, although you did give me to understand that you
laid as much weight as ever on the propagation of a race sound in mind
and body.

LOTH

Dropped my demand...? Dropped it? But why should I?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I see. Then there's nothing else left me but to ... Then you don't know
the conditions here. You do not know, for instance, that Hoffmann had a
son who perished through alcoholism at the age of three.

LOTH

Wha ... what d'you say?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I'm sorry, Loth, but I've got to tell you. You can do afterward as you
please. But the thing was no joke. They were visiting here just as they
are now. They sent for me--half an hour too late. The little fellow had
bled to death long before I arrived.

    _LOTH drinks in the DOCTOR'S _words with every evidence of profound
    and terrible emotion._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

The silly little chap grabbed for the vinegar bottle, thinking his
beloved rum was in it. The bottle fell and the child tumbled on the
broken glass. Down here, you see, the _vena saphena_, was completely
severed.

LOTH

Whose, _whose_ child was that?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

The child of Hoffmann and of the same woman who again, up there ... And
she drinks too, drinks to the point of unconsciousness, drinks whatever
she can get hold of!

LOTH

So it's not, it's not inherited from Hoffmann?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Not at all. That's the tragic aspect of the man! He suffers under it as
much as he is capable of suffering. To be sure, he knew that he was
marrying into a family of dipsomaniacs. The old farmer simply spends his
life in the tavern.

LOTH

Then, to be sure--I understand many things--No, everything, rather ...
everything! [_After a heavy silence._] Then her life here, Helen's life,
is a ... how shall I express it? I have no words for it; it's ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Utterly horrible. I can judge of that. And I understood from the
beginning how you should cling to her. But, as I said ...

LOTH

It's enough. I understand ... But doesn't...? Couldn't one perhaps
persuade Hoffmann to do something? She ought to be removed from all this
foulness.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Hoffmann?

LOTH

Yes, Hoffmann.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

You don't know him. I don't believe that he has ruined her already, but
he has ruined her reputation even now.

LOTH

[_Flaring up._] If that's true, I'll murder...! D'you really believe
that? Do you think Hoffmann capable...?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

Of anything! I think him capable of anything that might contribute to his
own pleasure.

LOTH

Then she is--the purest creature that ever breathed ...

    _LOTH slowly takes up his hat and cane and hangs his mallet over his
    shoulder._

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

What do you think of doing, Loth?

LOTH

... I mustn't meet her ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

So you're determined?

LOTH

Determined to what?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

To break the connection.

LOTH

How is it possible for me to be other than determined?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I may add, as a physician, that cases are known in which such inherited
evils have been suppressed. And of course you would give your children a
rational up-bringing.

LOTH

Such cases may be known.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

And the chances are not so small but that ...

LOTH

That kind of thing can't help me, Schimmel. There are just three
possibilities in this affair: Either I marry her and then ... no, that
way out simply doesn't exist. Or--the traditional bullet. Of course, that
would mean rest, at least. But we haven't reached that point yet awhile;
can't indulge in that luxury just yet. And so: live! fight!--Farther,
farther! [_His glance falls on the table and he observes the
writing-materials that have been placed there by EDWARD. He sits down,
hesitates and says:_] And yet...?

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I promise you that I'll represent the situation to her as clearly as
possible.

LOTH

Yes, yes! You see--I can't do differently. [_He writes, places his paper
in an envelope and addresses it. Then he arises and shakes hands with
SCHIMMELPFENNIG._] For the rest--I depend on you.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

You're coming over to my house, aren't, you? Let my coachman drive you
right over.

LOTH

Look here! Oughtn't one to try, at least, to get her out of the power of
this ... this person? ... As things are she is sure to become his victim.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

My dear, good fellow! I'm sorry for you. But shall I give you a bit of
advice? Don't rob her of the--little that you still leave her.

LOTH

[_With a deep sigh._] Maybe you're right--perhaps certainly.

    _Hasty steps are heard descending the stairs. In the next moment
    HOFFMANN rushes in._

HOFFMANN

Doctor, I beg you, for heaven's sake ... she is fainting ... the pains
have stopped ... won't you at last ...

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

I'm coming up. [_To LOTH significantly._] We'll see each other later. Mr.
Hoffmann, I must request you ... any interference or disturbance might
prove fatal ... I would much prefer to have you stay here.

HOFFMANN

You ask a great deal, but ... well!

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG

No more than is right.

    [_He goes._

    _HOFFMANN remains behind._

HOFFMANN

[_Observing LOTH._] I'm just trembling in every limb from the excitement.
Tell me, are you leaving?

LOTH

Yes.

HOFFMANN

Now in the middle of the night?

LOTH

I'm only going as far as Schimmelpfennig's.

HOFFMANN

Ah, yes. Well ... as things have shaped themselves, it's of course no
pleasure staying with us any longer ... So, good luck!

LOTH

I thank you for your hospitality.

HOFFMANN

And how about that plan of yours?

LOTH

What plan?

HOFFMANN

I mean that essay of yours, that economic description of our district. I
ought to say ... in fact, as a friend, I would beg of you as insistently
as possible ...

LOTH

Don't worry about that any more. I'll be far away from here by to-morrow.

HOFFMANN

That is really--

    [_He interrupts himself._

LOTH

Kind of you, you were going to say.

HOFFMANN

Oh, I don't know. Well, in a certain respect, yes! And anyhow you must
forgive me; I'm so frightfully upset. Just count on me. Old friends are
always the best! Good-bye, good-bye.

    [_He leaves through the middle door._

LOTH

[_Before going to the door, turns around once more with a long glance as
if to imprint the whole room on his memory. Then to himself:_] I suppose
I can go now ...

    [_After a last glance he leaves._

    _The room remains empty for some seconds. The sound of muffled voices
    and the noise of footfalls is heard. Then HOFFMANN appears. As soon
    as he has closed the door behind him, he takes out his note-book and
    runs over some account with exaggerated calm. He interrupts himself,
    listens, becomes restless again, advances to the door and listens
    there. Suddenly some one runs down the stair and HELEN bursts in._

HELEN

[_Still without._] Brother! [_At the door._] Brother!

HOFFMANN

What's the _matter_?

HELEN

Be brave: still-born!

HOFFMANN

O my God!

    [_He rushes out._

HELEN _alone._

    _She looks about her and calls softly:_ Alfred! Alfred! _As she
    receives no answer, she calls out again more quickly:_ Alfred!
    Alfred! _She has hurried to the door of the conservatory through
    which she gazes anxiously. She goes into the conservatory, but
    reappears shortly._ Alfred! _Her disquiet increases. She peers out of
    the window._ Alfred! _She opens the window and mounts a chair that
    stands before it. At this moment there resounds clearly from the yard
    the shouting of the drunken farmer, her father, who is coming home
    from the inn,_ Hay-hee! Ain' I a han'some feller? Ain' I got a
    fine-lookin' wife? Ain' I got a couple o' han'some gals? Hay-hee!
    _HELEN utters a short cry and runs, like a hunted creature, toward
    the middle door. From there she discovers the letter which LOTH has
    left lying on thee table. She runs to it, tears it open, feverishly
    takes in the contents, of which she audibly utters separate words._
    "Insuperable!" ... "Never again." ... _She lets the letter fall and
    sways._ It's over! _She steadies herself, holds her head with both
    hands and cries out in brief and piercing despair._ It's over! _She
    rushes out through the--middle door. The farmer's voice without,
    drawing nearer._ Hay-hee! Ain' the farm mine? Ain' I got a han'some
    wife? Ain' I a han'some feller? _HELEN, still seeking LOTH
    half-madly, comes from the conservatory and meets EDWARD, who has
    come to fetch something from HOFFMANN'S room. She addresses him:_
    Edward! _He answers:_ Yes, Miss Krause. _She continues:_ I'd like to
    ... like to ... Dr. Loth ... _EDWARD answers:_ Dr. Loth drove away in
    Dr. Schimmelpfennig's carriage. _He disappears into HOFFMANN'S room._
    True! _HELEN cries out and holds herself erect with difficulty. In
    the next moment a desperate energy takes hold of her. She runs to the
    foreground and seizes the hunting knife with its belt which is
    fastened to the stag's antlers above the sofa. She hides the weapon
    and stays quietly in the dark foreground until EDWARD, coming from
    HOFFMANN'S room, has disappeared through the middle door. The
    farmer's voice resounds more clearly from moment to moment._ Hay-hee!
    Ain' I a han'some feller? _At this sound, as at a signal, HELEN
    starts and runs, in her turn, into HOFFMANN'S room. The main room is
    empty but one continues to hear the farmer's voice:_ Ain' I got the
    finest teeth? Ain' I got a fine farm? _MIELE comes through the middle
    door and looks searchingly about. She calls:_ Miss Helen! Miss Helen!
    _Meanwhile the farmer's voice:_ The money 'sh mi-ine! _Without
    further hesitation MIELE has disappeared into HOFFMANN'S room, the
    door of which she leaves open. In the next moment she rushes out with
    every sign of insane terror. Screaming she spins around
    twice--thrice--screaming she flies through the middle door. Her
    uninterrupted screaming, softening as it recedes, is audible for
    several seconds. Last there is heard the opening and resonant
    slamming of the heavy house door, the tread of the farmer stumbling
    about in the hall, and his coarse, nasal, thick-tongued drunkard's
    voice echoes through the room:_ Hay-hee! Ain' I got a couple o'
    han'some gals?

CURTAIN



THE WEAVERS



    _I DEDICATE THIS DRAMA TO MY FATHER

    ROBERT HAUPTMANN.

    You, dear father, know what feelings lead me to dedicate this work to
    you, and I am not called upon to analyse them here.

    Your stories of my grandfather, who in his young days sat at the
    loom, a poor weaver like those here depicted, contained the germ of
    my drama. Whether it possesses the vigour of life or is rotten at the
    core, it is the best, "so poor a man as Hamlet is" can offer.

    Your

    GERHART_



COMPLETE LIST OF CHARACTERS


DREISSIGER, _fustian manufacturer._

MRS. DREISSIGER.

PFEIFER, _manager in DREISSIGER'S employment._

NEUMANN, _cashier in DREISSIGER'S employment._

AN APPRENTICE _in DREISSIGER'S employment._

JOHN, _coachman in DREISSIGER'S employment._

A MAID _in DREISSIGER'S employment._

WEINHOLD, _tutor to DREISSIGER'S sons._

PASTOR KITTELHAUS.

MRS. KITTELHAUS.

HEIDE, _Police Superintendent._

KUTSCHE, _policeman._

WELZEL, _publican._

MRS. WELZEL.

ANNA WELZEL.

WIEGAND, _joiner._

A COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER.

A PEASANT.

A FORESTER.

SCHMIDT, _surgeon._

HORNIG, _rag dealer._

WITTIG, _smith._


WEAVERS.


BECKER.

MORITZ JAEGER.

OLD BAUMERT.

MOTHER BAUMERT.

BERTHA BAUMERT

EMMA BAUMERT

FRITZ, EMMA'S _son (four years old)._

AUGUST BAUMERT.

OLD ANSORGE.

MRS. HEINRICH.

OLD HILSE.

MOTHER HILSE.

GOTTLIEB HILSE.

LUISE, GOTTLIEB'S _wife._

MIELCHEN, _their daughter (six years old)._

REIMANN, _weaver._

HELEN, _weaver._

A WEAVER'S WIFE.

_A number of weavers, young and old, of both sexes._


The action passes in the Forties, at Kaschbach, Peterswaldau and
Langenbielau, in the Eulengebirge.



THE FIRST ACT


    _A large whitewashed room on the ground floor of DREISSIGER'S house
    at Peterswaldau, where the weavers deliver their finished webs and
    the fustian is stored. To the left are uncurtained windows, in the
    back mall there is a glass door, and to the right another glass door,
    through which weavers, male and female, and children, are passing in
    and out. All three walls are lined with shelves for the storing of
    the fustian. Against the right wall stands a long bench, on which a
    number of weavers have already spread out their cloth. In the order
    of arrival each presents his piece to be examined by PFEIFER,
    DREISSIGER'S manager, who stands, with compass and magnifying-glass,
    behind a large table, on which the web to be inspected is laid. When
    PFEIFER has satisfied himself, the weaver lays the fustian on the
    scale, and an office apprentice tests its weight. The same boy stores
    the accepted pieces on the shelves. PFEIFER calls out the payment due
    in each case to NEUMANN, the cashier, who is seated at a small
    table._

    _It is a sultry day towards the end of May. The clock is on the
    stroke of twelve. Most of the waiting work-people have the air of
    standing before the bar of justice, in torturing expectation of a
    decision that means life or death to them. They are marked too by the
    anxious timidity characteristic of the receiver of charity, who has
    suffered many humiliations, and, conscious that he is barely
    tolerated, has acquired the habit of self-effacement. Add to this a
    rigid expression on every face that tells of constant, fruitless
    brooding. There is a general resemblance among the men. They have
    something about them of the dwarf, something of the schoolmaster. The
    majority are flat-breasted, short-minded, sallow, and poor
    looking--creatures of the loom, their knees bent with much silting.
    At a, first glance the women show fewer typical traits. They look
    over-driven, worried, reckless, whereas the men still make some show
    of a pitiful self-respect; and their clothes are ragged, while the
    men's are patched and mended. Some of the young girls are not without
    a certain charm, consisting in a wax-like pallor, a slender figure,
    and large, projecting, melancholy eyes._

NEUMANN

[_Counting out money._] Comes to one and seven-pence halfpenny.

WEAVER'S WIFE

[_About thirty, emaciated, takes up the money with trembling fingers._]
Thank you, sir.

NEUMANN

[_Seeing that she does not move on._] Well, something wrong this time,
too?

WEAVER'S WIFE

[_Agitated, imploringly._] Do you think I might have a few pence in
advance, sir? I need it that bad.

NEUMANN

And I need a few pounds. If it was only a question of needing it--!
[_Already occupied in counting out another weaver's money, gruffly._]
It's Mr. Dreissiger who settles about pay in advance.

WEAVER'S WIFE

Couldn't I speak to Mr. Dreissiger himself, then, sir?

PFEIFER

[_Now manager, formerly weaver. The type is unmistakable, only he is well
fed, well dressed, clean shaven; also takes snuff copiously. He calls out
roughly._] Mr. Dreissiger would have enough to do if he had to attend to
every trifle himself. That's what we are here for. [_He measures, and
then examines through the magnifying-glass._] Mercy on us! what a
draught! [_Puts a thick muffler round his neck._] Shut the door, whoever
comes in.

APPRENTICE

[_Loudly to PFEIFER._] You might as well talk to stocks and stones.

PFEIFER

That's done!--Weigh! [_The weaver places his web on the scales._] If you
only understood your business a little better! Full of lumps again.... I
hardly need to look at the cloth to see them. Call yourself a weaver, and
"draw as long a bow" as you've done there!

    _BECKER has entered. A young, exceptionally powerfully-built weaver;
    offhand, almost bold in manner. PFEIFER, NEUMANN, and the APPRENTICE
    exchange looks of mutual understanding as he comes in._

BECKER

Devil take it! This is a sweatin' job, and no mistake.

FIRST WEAVER

[_In a low voice._] This blazin' heat means rain.

    [_OLD BAUMERT forces his way in at the glass door on the right,
    through which the crowd of weavers can be seen, standing shoulder to
    shoulder, waiting their turn. The old man stumbles forward and lays
    his bundle on the bench, beside BECKER'S. He sits down by it, and
    wipes the sweat from his face._

OLD BAUMERT

A man has a right to a rest after that.

BECKER

Rest's better than money.

OLD BAUMERT

Yes, but we _needs_ the money too. Good mornin' to you, Becker!

BECKER

Mornin', father Baumert! Goodness knows how long we'll have to stand here
again.

FIRST WEAVER

That don't matter. What's to hinder a weaver waitin' for an hour, or for
a day? What else is he there for?

PFEIFER

Silence there! We can't hear our own voices.

BECKER

[_In a low voice._] This is one of his bad days.

PFEIFER

[_To the weaver standing before him._] How often have I told you that you
must bring cleaner cloth? What sort of mess is this? Knots, and straw,
and all kinds of dirt.

REIMANN

It's for want of a new picker, sir.

APPRENTICE

[_Has weighed the piece._] Short weight, too.

PFEIFER

I never saw such weavers. I hate to give out the yarn to them. It was
another story in my day! I'd have caught it finely from my master for
work like that. The business was carried on in different style then. A
man had to know his trade--that's the last thing that's thought of
nowadays. Reimann, one shilling.

REIMANN

But there's always a pound allowed for waste.

PFEIFER

I've no time. Next man!--What have you to show?

HEIBER

[_Lays his web on the table. While PFEIFER is examining it, he goes close
up to him; eagerly in a low tone._] Beg pardon, Mr. Pfeifer, but I wanted
to ask you, sir, if you would perhaps be so very kind an' do me the
favour an' not take my advance money off this week's pay.

PFEIFER

[_Measuring and examining the texture; jeeringly._] Well! What next, I
wonder? This looks very much as if half the weft had stuck to the bobbins
again.

HEIBER

[_Continues._] I'll be sure to make it all right next week, sir. But this
last week I've had to put in two days' work on the estate. And my missus
is ill in bed....

PFEIFER

[_Giving the web to be weighed._] Another piece of real slop-work.
[_Already examining a new web._] What a selvage! Here it's broad, there
it's narrow; here it's drawn in by the wefts goodness knows how tight,
and there it's torn out again by the temples. And hardly seventy threads
weft to the inch. What's come of the rest? Do you call this honest work?
I never saw anything like it.

    [_HEIBER, repressing tears, stands humiliated and helpless._

BECKER

[_In a low voice to BAUMERT._] To please that brute you'd have to pay for
extra yarn out o' your own pocket.

WEAVER'S WIFE

[_Who has remained standing near the cashier's table, from time to time
looking round appealingly, takes courage and once more turns imploringly
to the cashier._] I don't know what's to come o' me, sir, if you won't
give me a little advance this time ... O Lord, O Lord!

PFEIFER

[_Calls across._] It's no good whining, or dragging the Lord's name into
the matter. You're not so anxious about Him at other times. You look
after your husband and see that he's not to be found so often lounging in
the public-house. We can give no pay in advance. We have to account for
every penny. It's not our money. People that are industrious, and
understand their work, and do it in the fear of God, never need their pay
in advance. So now you know.

NEUMANN

If a Bielau weaver got four times as much pay, he would squander it four
times over and be in debt into the bargain.

WEAVER'S WIFE

[_In a loud voice, as if appealing to the general sense of justice._] No
one can't call me idle, but I'm not fit now for what I once was. I've
twice had a miscarriage. And as to John, he's but a poor creature. He's
been to the shepherd at Zerlau, but he couldn't do him no good, and ...
you can't do more than you've strength for.... We works as hard as ever
we can. This many a week I've been at it till far on into the night. An'
we'll keep our heads above water right enough if I can just get a bit o'
strength into me. But you must have pity on us, Mr. Pfeifer, sir.
[_Eagerly, coaxingly._] You'll please be so very kind as to let me have a
few pence on the next job, sir?

PFEIFER

[_Paying no attention._] Fiedler, one and twopence.

WEAVER'S WIFE

Only a few pence, to buy bread with. We can't get no more credit. We've a
lot o' little ones.

NEUMANN

[_Half aside to the APPRENTICE, in a serio-comic-tone._] "Every year
brings a child to the linen-weaver's wife, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh."

APPRENTICE

[_Takes up the rhyme, half singing._] "And the little brat it's blind the
first weeks of its life, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh."

REIMANN

[_Not touching the money which the cashier has counted out to him._]
We've always got one and fourpence for the web.

PFEIFER

[_Calls across._] If our terms don't suit you, Reimann, you have only to
say so. There's no scarcity of weavers--especially of your sort. For full
weight we give full pay.

REIMANN

How anything can be wrong with the weight o' this...!

PFEIFER

You bring a piece of fustian with no faults in it, and there will be no
fault in the pay.

REIMANN

It's clean impossible that there's too many knots in this web.

PFEIFER

[_Examining._] If you want to live well, then be sure you weave well.

HEIBER

[_Has remained standing near PFEIFER, so as to seize on any favourable
opportunity. He laughs at PFEIFER'S little witticism, then steps forward
and again addresses him._] I wanted to ask you, sir, if you would perhaps
have the great kindness not to take my advance of sixpence off to-day's
pay? My missus has been bedridden since February, She can't do a hand's
turn for me, an' I've to pay a bobbin girl. An' so ...

PFEIFER

[_Takes a pinch of snuff._] Heiber do you think I have no one to attend
to but you? The others must have their turn.

REIMANN

As the warp was given me I took it home and fastened it to the beam. I
can't bring back no better yarn than I gets.

PFEIFER

If you're not satisfied, you need come for no more. There are plenty
ready to tramp the soles off their shoes to get it.

NEUMANN

[_To REIMANN._] Don't you want your money?

REIMANN

I can't bring myself to take such pay.

NEUMANN

[_Paying no further attention to REIMANN._] Heiber, one shilling. Deduct
sixpence for pay it advance. Leaves sixpence.

HEIBER

[_Goes up to the table, looks at the money, stands shaking his head as if
unable to believe his eyes, then slowly takes it up._] Well, I never!--
[_Sighing._] Oh dear, oh dear!

OLD BAUMERT

[_Looking into HEIBER'S face._] Yes, Franz, that's so! There's matter
enough for sighing.

HEIBER

[_Speaking with difficulty._] I've a girl lyin' sick at home too, an' she
needs a bottle of medicine.

OLD BAUMERT

What's wrong with her?

HEIBER

Well, you see, she's always been a sickly bit of a thing. I don't know
... I needn't mind tellin' you--she brought her trouble with her. It's in
her blood, and it breaks out here, there, and everywhere.

OLD BAUMERT

It's always the way. Let folks be poor, and one trouble comes to them on
the top of another. There's no help for it and there's no end to it.

HEIBER

What are you carryin' in that cloth, fatter. Baumert?

OLD BAUMERT

We haven't so much as a bite in the house, and so I've had the little dog
killed. There's not much on him, for the poor beast was half starved. A
nice little dog he was! I couldn't kill him myself. I hadn't the heart to
do it.

PFEIFER

[_Has inspected BECKER'S web and calls._] Becker, one and threepence.

BECKER

That's what you might give to a beggar; it's not pay.

PFEIFER

Every one who has been attended to must clear out. We haven't room to
turn round in.

BECKER

[_To those standing near, without lowering his voice._] It's a beggarly
pittance, nothing else. A man works his treadle from early morning till
late at night, an' when he's bent over his loom for days an' days, tired
to death every evening, sick with the dust and the heat, he finds he's
made a beggarly one and threepence!

PFEIFER

No impudence allowed here.

BECKER

If you think I'll hold my tongue for your tellin', you're much mistaken.

PFEIFER

[_Exclaims._] We'll see about that! [_Rushes to the glass door and calls
into the office._] Mr. Dreissiger, Mr. Dreissiger, will you be good
enough to come here?

    _Enter DREISSIGER. About forty, full-bodied, asthmatic. Looks
    severe._

DREISSIGER

What is it, Pfeifer?

PFEIFER

[_Spitefully._] Becker says he won't be told to hold his tongue.

DREISSIGER

[_Draws himself up, throws back his head, stares at BECKER; his nostrils
tremble._] Oh, indeed!--Becker. [_To PFEIFER.] Is he the man?...

    [_The clerks nod._

BECKER

[_Insolently._] Yes, Mr. Dreissiger, yes! [_Pointing to himself._] This
is the man. [_Pointing to DREISSIGER._] And that's a man too!

DREISSIGER

[_Angrily._] Fellow, how dare you?

PFEIFER

He's too well off. He'll go dancing on the ice once too often, though.

BECKER

[_Recklessly._] You shut up, you Jack-in-the-box. Your mother must have
gone dancing once too often with Satan to have got such a devil for a
son.

DREISSIGER

[_Now in a violent passion, roars._] Hold your tongue this moment, sir,
or ...

    [_He trembles and takes a fere steps forward._

BECKER

[_Holding his ground steadily._] I'm not deaf. My hearing's quite good
yet.

DREISSIGER

[_Controls himself, asks in an apparently cool business tone._] Was this
fellow not one of the pack...?

PFEIFER

He's a Bielau weaver. When there's any mischief going, they're sure to be
in it.

DREISSIGER

[_Trembling._] Well, I give you all warning: if the same thing happens
again as last night--a troop of half-drunken cubs marching past my
windows singing that low song ...

BECKER

Is it "Bloody Justice" you mean?

DREISSIGER

You know well enough what I mean. I tell you that if I hear it again I'll
get hold of one of you, and--mind, I'm not joking--before the justice he
shall go. And if I can find out who it was that made up that vile
doggerel ...

BECKER

It's a grand song, that's what it is!

DREISSIGER

Another word and I send for the police on the spot, without more ado.
I'll make short work with you young fellows. I've got the better of very
different men before now.

BECKER

I believe you there. A real thoroughbred manufacturer will get the better
of two or three hundred weavers in the time it takes you to turn
round--swallow 'em up, and not leave as much as a bone. He's got four
stomachs like a cow, and teeth like a wolf. That's nothing to him at all!

DREISSIGER

[_To his clerks._] That man gets no more work from us.

BECKER

It's all the same to me whether I starve at my loom or by the roadside.

DREISSIGER

Out you go, then, this moment!

BECKER

[_Determinedly._] Not without my pay.

DREISSIGER

How much is owing to the fellow, Neumann?

NEUMANN

One and threepence.

DREISSIGER

[_Takes the money hurriedly ont of the cashier's hand, and flings it on
the table, so that some of the coins roll off on to the floor._] There
you are, then; and now, out of my sight with you!

BECKER

Not without my pay.

DREISSIGER

Don't you see it lying there? If you don't take it and go ... It's
exactly twelve now ... The dyers are coming out for their dinner ...

BECKER

I gets my pay into my hand--here--that's where!

    [_Points with the fingers of his right hand at the palm of his left._

DREISSIGER

[_To the APPRENTICE._] Pick up the money, Tilgner.

    [_The APPRENTICE lifts the money and puts it into BECKER'S hand._

BECKER

Everything in proper order.

    [_Deliberately takes an old purse out of his pocket and puts the
    money into it._

DREISSIGER

[_As BECKER still does not move away._] Well? Do you want me to come and
help you?

    [_Signs of agitation are observable among the crowd of weavers. A
    long, loud sigh is heard, and then a fall. General interest is at
    once diverted to this new event._

DREISSIGER

What's the matter there?

CHORUS OF WEAVERS AND WOMEN

"Some one's fainted."--"It's a little sickly boy."--"Is it a fit, or what?"

DREISSIGER

What do you say? Fainted?

    [_He goes nearer._

OLD WEAVER

There he lies, any way.

    [_They make room. A boy of about eight is seen lying on the floor as
    if dead._

DREISSIGER

Does any one know the boy?

OLD WEAVER

He's not from our village.

OLD BAUMERT

He's like one of weaver Heinrich's boys. [_Looks at him more closely._]
Yes, that's Heinrich's little Philip.

DREISSIGER

Where do they live?

OLD BAUMERT

Up near us in Kaschbach, sir. He goes round playin' music in the
evenings, and all day he's at the loom. They've nine children an' a tenth
a coming.

CHORUS OF WEAVERS AND WOMEN

"They're terrible put to it."--"The rain comes through their roof."--"The
woman hasn't two shirts among the nine."

OLD BAUMERT

[_Taking the boy by the arm._] Now then, lad, what's wrong with you? Wake
up, lad.

DREISSIGER

Some of you help me, and we'll get him up. It's disgraceful to send a
sickly child this distance. Bring some water, Pfeifer.

WOMAN

[_Helping to lift the boy._] Sure you're not goin' to be foolish and die,
lad!

DREISSIGER

Brandy, Pfeifer, brandy will be better.

BECKER

[_Forgotten by all, has stood looking on. With his hand on the
door-latch, he now calls loudly and tauntingly._] Give him something to
eat, an' he'll soon be all right.

    [_Goes out._

DREISSIGER

That fellow will come to a bad end.--Take him under the arm, Neumann.
Easy now, easy; we'll get him into my room. What?

NEUMANN

He said something, Mr. Dreissiger. His lips are moving.

DREISSIGER

What--what is it, boy?

BOY

[_Whispers._] I'm h-hungry.

WOMAN

I think he says--

DREISSIGER

We'll find out. Don't stop. Let us get him into my room. He can lie on
the sofa there, We'll hear what the doctor says.

    _DREISSIGER, NEUMANN, and the woman lead the boy into the office. The
    weavers begin to behave like school-children when their master has
    left the classroom. They stretch themselves, whisper, move from one
    foot to the other, and in the course of a few moments are conversing
    loudly._

OLD BAUMERT

I believe as how Becker was right.

CHORUS OF WEAVERS AND WOMEN

"He did say something like that."--"It's nothin' new here to fall down
from hunger."--"God knows what's to come of 'em in winter if this cuttin'
down o' wages goes on."--"An' this year the potatoes aren't no good at
all."--"Things'll get worse and worse till we're all done for together."

OLD BAUMERT

The best thing a man could do would be to put a rope round his neck and
hang hisself on his own loom, like weaver Nentwich. [_To another old
weaver._] Here, take a pinch. I was at Neurode yesterday. My
brother-in-law, he works in the snuff factory there, and he give me a
grain or two. Have you anything good in your kerchief?

OLD WEAVER

Only a little pearl barley. I was coming along behind Ulbrich the
miller's cart, and there was a slit in one of the sacks. I can tell you
we'll be glad of it.

OLD BAUMERT

There's twenty-two mills in Peterswaldau, but of all they grind, there's
never nothin' comes our way.

OLD WEAVER

We must keep up heart. There's always somethin' comes to help us on
again.

HEIBER

Yes, when we're hungry, we can pray to all the saints to help us, and if
that don't fill our bellies we can put a pebble in our mouths and suck
it. Eh, Baumert?

    _Re-enter DREISSIGER, PFEIFER, AND NEUMANN._

DREISSIGER

It was nothing serious. The boy is all right again. [_Walks about
excitedly, panting._] But all the same it's a disgrace. The child's so
weak that a puff of wind would blow him over. How people, how any parents
can be so thoughtless is what passes my comprehension. Loading him with
two heavy pieces of fustian to carry six good miles! No one would believe
it that hadn't seen it. It simply means that I shall have to make a rule
that no goods brought by children will be taken over. [_He walks up and
down silently for a few moments._] I sincerely trust such a thing will
not occur again.--Who gets all the blame for it? Why, of course the
manufacturer. It's entirely our fault. If some poor little fellow sticks
in the snow in winter and goes to sleep, a special correspondent arrives
post-haste, and in two days we have a blood-curdling story served up in
all the papers. Is any blame laid on the father, the parents, that send
such a child?--Not a bit of it. How should they be to blame? It's all the
manufacturer's fault--he's made the scapegoat. They flatter the weaver,
and give the manufacturer nothing but abuse--he's a cruel man, with a
heart like a stone, a dangerous fellow, at whose calves every cur of a
journalist may take a bite. He lives on the fat of the land, and pays the
poor weavers starvation wages. In the flow of his eloquence the writer
forgets to mention that such a man has his cares too and his sleepless
nights; that he runs risks of which the workman never dreams; that he is
often driven distracted by all the calculations he has to make, and all
the different things he has to take into account; that he has to struggle
for his very life against competition; and that no day passes without
some annoyance or some loss. And think of the manufacturer's
responsibilities, think of the numbers that depend on him, that look to
him for their daily bread. No, No! none of you need wish yourselves in my
shoes--you would soon have enough of it. [_After a moment's reflection._]
You all saw how that fellow, that scoundrel Becker, behaved. Now he'll go
and spread about all sorts of tales of my hard-heartedness, of how my
weavers are turned off for a mere trifle, without a moment's notice. Is
that true? Am I so very unmerciful?

CHORUS OF VOICES

No, sir.

DREISSIGER

It doesn't seem to me that I am. And yet these ne'er-do-wells come round
singing low songs about us manufacturers--prating about hunger, with
enough in their pockets to pay for quarts of bad brandy. If they would
like to know what want is, let them go and ask the linen-weavers: they
can tell something about it. But you here, you fustian-weavers, have
every reason to thank God that things are no worse than they are. And I
put it to all the old, industrious weavers present: Is a good workman
able to gain a living in my employment, or is he not?

MANY VOICES

Yes, sir; he is, sir.

DREISSIGER

There now! You see! Of course such a fellow as that Becker can't. I
advise you to keep these young lads in check. If there's much more of
this sort of thing, I'll shut up shop--give up the business altogether,
and then you can shift for yourselves, get work where you like--perhaps
Mr. Becker will provide it.

FIRST WEAVER'S WIFE

[_Has come close to DREISSIGER, and removes a little dust from his coat
with creeping servility._] You've been an' rubbed agin something, sir.

DREISSIGER

Business is as bad as it can be just now, you know that yourselves.
Instead of making money, I am losing it every day. If, in spite of this,
I take care that my weavers are kept in work, I look for some little
gratitude from them. I have thousands of pieces of cloth in stock, and
don't know if I'll ever be able to sell them. Well, now, I've heard how
many weavers hereabouts are out of work, and--I'll leave Pfeifer to give
the particulars--but this much I'll tell you, just to show you my good
will.... I can't deal out charity all round; I'm not rich enough for
that; but I can give the people who are out of work the chance of earning
at any rate a little. It's a great business risk I run by doing it, but
that's my affair. I say to myself: Better that a man should work for a
bite of bread than that, he should starve altogether, Am I not right?

CHORUS OF VOICES

Yes, yes, sir.

DREISSIGER

And therefore I am ready to give employment to two hundred more weavers.
Pfeifer will tell you on what conditions.

    [_He turns to go._

FIRST WEAVER'S WIFE

[_Comes between him and the door, speaks hurriedly, eagerly,
imploringly._] Oh, if you please, sir, will you let me ask you if you'll
be so good ... I've been twice laid up for ...

DREISSIGER

[_Hastily._] Speak to Pfeifer, good woman. I'm too late as it is.

    [_Passes on, leaving her standing._

REIMANN

[_Stops him again. In an injured, complaining tone._] I have a complaint
to make, if you please, sir. Mr. Pfeifer refuses to ... I've always got
one and two-pence for a web ...

DREISSIGER

[_Interrupts him._] Mr. Pfeifer's my manager. There he is. Apply to him.

HEIBER

[_Detaining DREISSIGER; hurriedly and confusedly._] O sir, I wanted to
ask if you would p'r'aps, if I might p'r'aps ... if Mr. Pfeifer might ...
might ...

DREISSIGER

What is it you want?

HEIBER

That advance pay I had last time, sir; I thought p'r'aps you would kindly
...

DREISSIGER

I have no idea what you are talking about.

HEIBER

I'm awful hard up, sir, because ...

DREISSIGER

These are things Pfeifer must look into--I really have not the time.
Arrange the matter with Pfeifer.

    [_He escapes into the office._

    [_The supplicants look helplessly at one another, sigh, and take
    their places again among the others._

PFEIFER

[_Resuming his task of inspection._] Well, Annie, let as see what yours
is like.

OLD BAUMERT

How much is we to get for the web, then, Mr. Pfeifer?

PFEIFER

One shilling a web.

OLD BAUMERT

Has it come to that!

    [_Excited whispering and murmuring among the weavers._


END OF THE FIRST ACT



THE SECOND ACT


    _A small room in the house of WILHELM ANSORGE, weaver and cottager in
    the village of Kaschbach, in the Eulengebirge._

    _In this room, which does not measure six feet from the dilapidated
    wooden floor to the smoke-blackened rafters, sit four people. Two
    young girls, EMMA and BERTHA BAUMERT, are working at their looms;
    MOTHER BAUMERT, a decrepit old woman, sits on a stool beside the bed,
    with a winding-wheel in front of her; her idiot son AUGUST sits on a
    foot-stool, also winding. He is twenty, has a small body and head,
    and long, spider-like legs and arms._

    _Faint, rosy evening light makes its way through two small windows in
    the right wall, which have their broken panes pasted over with paper
    or stuffed with straw. It lights up the flaxen hair of the girls,
    which falls loose on their slender white necks and thin bare
    shoulders, and their coarse chemises. These, with a short petticoat
    of the roughest linen, form their whole attire. The warm glow falls
    on the old woman's face, neck, and breast--a face worn away to a
    skeleton, with shrivelled skin and sunken eyes, red and watery with
    smoke, dust, and working by lamplight--a long goître neck, wrinkled
    and sinewy--a hollow breast covered with faded, ragged shawls._

    _Part of the right wall is also lighted up, with stove, stove-bench,
    bedstead, and one or two gaudily coloured sacred prints. On the stove
    rail rags are hanging to dry, and behind the stove is a collection of
    worthless lumber. On the bench stand some old pots and cooking
    utensils, and potato parings are laid out on it, on paper, to dry.
    Hanks of yarn and reels hang from the rafters; baskets of bobbins
    stand beside the looms. In the back wall there is a low door without
    fastening. Beside it a bundle of willow wands is set up against the
    wall, and beyond them lie some damaged quarter-bushel baskets._

    _The room is full of sound--the rhythmic thud of the looms, shaking
    floor and walls, the click and rattle of the shuttles passing back
    and forward, and the steady whirr of the winding-wheels, like the hum
    of gigantic bees._

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_In a querulous, feeble voice, as the girls stop weaving and bend over
their webs._] Got to make knots again already, have you?

EMMA

[_The elder of the two girls, about twenty-two, tying a broken thread_]
It's the plagueyest web, this!

BERTHA

[_Fifteen._] Yes, it's real bad yarn they've given us this time.

EMMA

What can have happened to father? He's been away since nine.

MOTHER BAUMERT

That he has! yes. Where in the wide world c'n he be?

BERTHA

Don't you worry yourself, mother.

MOTHER BAUMERT

I can't help it, Bertha lass.

    [_EMMA begins to weave again._

BERTHA

Stop a minute, Emma!

EMMA

What is it!

BERTHA

I thought I heard some one.

EMMA

It'll be Ansorge comin' home.

    _Enter FRITZ, a little, barefooted, ragged boy of four._

FRITZ

[_Whimpering._] I'm hungry, mother.

EMMA

Wait, Fritzel, wait a bit! Gran'father'll be here very soon, an' he's
bringin' bread along with him, an' coffee too.

FRITZ

But I'm awful hungry, mother.

EMMA

Be a good boy now, Fritz. Listen to what I'm tellin' you. He'll be here
this minute. He's bringin' nice bread an' nice corn-coffee; an' when we
stops workin' mother'll take the tater peelin's and carry them to the
farmer, and the farmer'll give her a drop o' good buttermilk for her
little boy.

FRITZ

Where's grandfather gone?

EMMA

To the manufacturer, Fritz, with a web.

FRITZ

To the manufacturer?

EMMA

Yes, yes, Fritz, down to Dreissiger's at Peterswaldau.

FRITZ

Is it there he gets the bread?

EMMA

Yes; Dreissiger gives him money, and then he buys the bread.

FRITZ

Does he give him a heap of money?

EMMA

[_Impatiently._] Oh, stop that chatter, boy.

    [_She and BERTHA go on weaving for a time, and then both stop again._

BERTHA

August, go and ask Ansorge if he'll give us a light.

    [_AUGUST goes out accompanied by FRITZ._

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_Overcome by her childish apprehension, whimpers._] Emma! Bertha! where
c'n the man be stay-in'?

BERTHA

Maybe he looked in to see Hauffe.

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_Crying._] What if he's sittin' drinkin' in the public-house?

EMMA

Don't cry, mother! You know well enough father's not the man to do that.

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_Half distracted by a multitude of gloomy forebodings._] What ... what
... what's to become of us if he don't come home? if he drinks the money,
an' don't bring us nothin' at all? There's not so much as a handful o'
salt in the house--not a bite o' bread, nor a bit o' wood for the fire.

BERTHA

Wait a bit, mother! It's moonlight just now. We'll take August with us
and go into the wood and get some sticks.

MOTHER BAUMERT

Yes, an' be caught by the forester.

    _ANSORGE, an old weaver of gigantic stature, who has to bend down to
    get into the room, puts his head and shoulders in at the door. Long,
    unkempt hair and beard._

ANSORGE

What's wanted?

BERTHA

Light, if you please.

ANSORGE

[_In a muffled voice, as if speaking' in a sick-room._] There's good
daylight yet.

MOTHER BAUMERT

Is we to sit in the dark next?

ANSORGE

I've to do the same mayself.

    [_Goes out._

BERTHA

It's easy to see that he's a miser.

EMMA

Well, there's nothin' for it but to sit an' wait his pleasure.

    _Enter MRS. HEINRICH, a woman of thirty, heavy with child; an
    expression of torturing anxiety and apprehension on her worn face._

MRS. HEINRICH

Good evenin' t'you all.

MOTHER BAUMERT

Well, Jenny, and what's your news?

MRS. HEINRICH

[_Who limps._] I've got a piece o' glass into my foot.

BERTHA

Come an' sit down, then, an' I'll see if I c'n get it out.

    [_MRS. HEINRICH seats herself, BERTHA kneels down, in front of her,
    and examines her foot._

MOTHER BAUMERT

How are ye all at home, Jenny?

MRS. HEINRICH

[_Breaks out despairingly._] Things is in a terrible way with us!

    [_She struggles in vain, against a rush of tears; then weeps
    silently._

MOTHER BAUMERT

The best thing as could happen to the likes o' us, Jenny, would be if God
had pity on us an' took us away out o' this weary world.

MRS. HEINRICH

[_No longer able to control herself, screams, still crying._] My
children's starvin'. [_Sobs and moans._] I don't know what to do no more!
I c'n work till I drops--I'm more dead'n alive--things don't get
different! There's nine hungry mouths to fill! We got a bit o' bread last
night, but it wasn't enough even for the two smallest ones. Who was I to
give it to, eh? They all cried; Me, me, mother! give it to me!... An' if
it's like this while I'm still on my feet, what'll it be when I've to
take to bed? Our few taters was washed away. We haven't a thing to put in
our mouths.

BERTHA

[_Has removed the bit of glass and washed the wound._] We'll put a rag
round it. Emma, see if you can find one.

MOTHER BAUMERT

We're no better off'n you, Jenny.

MRS. HEINRICH

You has your girls, any way. You've a husband as c'n work. Mine was taken
with one o' his fits last week again--so bad that I didn't know what to
do with him, and was half out o' my mind with fright. And when he's had a
turn like that, he can't stir out o' bed under a week.

MOTHER BAUMERT

Mine's no better. He's goin' to pieces, too. He's breathin's bad now as
well as his back. An' there's not a farthin' nor a farthin's worth in the
house. If he don't bring a few pence with him today, I don't know what
we're to do.

EMMA

It's the truth she's tellin' you, Jenny. We had to let father take the
little dog with him to-day, to have him killed, that we might get a bite
into our stomachs again!

MRS. HEINRICH

Haven't you got as much as a handful o' flour to spare?

MOTHER BAUMERT

An' that we haven't, Jenny. There's not as much as a grain o' salt in the
house.

MRS. HEINRICH

Well, then, I don't know ... [_Rises, stands still, brooding._] I don't
know what'll be the end o' this! It's more'n I c'n bear. [_Screams in
rage and despair._] I'd be contented if it was nothin' but pigs'
food!--But I can't go home again empty-handed--that I can't. God forgive
me, I see no other way out of it.

    [_She limps quickly out._

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_Calls after her in a warning voice._] Jenny, Jenny! don't you be doin'
anything foolish, now!

BERTHA

She'll do herself no harm, mother. You needn't be afraid.

EMMA

That's the way she always goes on.

    [_Seats herself at the loom and weaves for a few seconds._

    _AUGUST enters, carrying a tallow candle, and lighting his father,
    OLD BAUMERT, who follows close behind him, staggering under a heavy
    bundle of yarn._

MOTHER BAUMERT

Oh, father, where have you been all this long time? Where have you been?

OLD BAUMERT

Come now, mother, don't fall on a man like that. Give me time to get my
breath first. An' look who I've brought with me.

    _MORITZ JAEGER comes stooping in at the low door. Reserve soldier,
    newly discharged. Middle height, rosy-cheeked, military carriage. His
    cap on the side of his head, hussar fashion, whole clothes and shoes,
    a clean shirt without collar. Draws himself up and salutes._

JAEGER

[_In a hearty voice._] Good-evenin', auntie Baumert!

MOTHER BAUMERT

Well, well now! and to think you've got back! An' you've not forgotten
us? Take a chair, then, lad.

EMMA

[_Wiping a wooden chair with her apron, and pushing it towards MORITZ._]
An' so you've come to see what poor folks is like again, Moritz?

JAEGER

I say, Emma, is it true that you've got a boy nearly old enough to be a
soldier? Where did you get hold o' him, eh?

    [_BERTHA, having taken the small supply of provisions which her
    father has brought, puts meat into a saucepan, and shoves it into the
    oven, while AUGUST lights the fire._

BERTHA

You knew weaver Finger, didn't you?

MOTHER BAUMERT

We had him here in the house with us. He was ready enough to marry her;
but he was too far gone in consumption; he was as good as a dead man. It
didn't happen for want o' warnin' from me. But do you think she would
listen? Not she. Now he's dead an' forgotten long ago, an' she's left
with the boy to provide for as best she can. But now tell us how you've
been gettin' on, Moritz.

OLD BAUMERT

You've only to look at him, mother, to know that. He's had luck. It'll be
about as much as he can do to speak to the likes o' us. He's got clothes
like a prince, an' a silver watch, an' thirty shillings in his pocket
into the bargain.

JAEGER

[_Stretching himself consequentially, a knowing smile on his face._] I
can't complain, I didn't get on so badly in the regiment.

OLD BAUMERT

He was the major's own servant. Just listen to him--he speaks like a
gentleman.

JAEGER

I've got so accustomed to it that I can't help it.

MOTHER BAUMERT

Well, now, to think that such a good-for-nothin' as you was should have
come to be a rich man. For there wasn't nothin' to be made of you. You
would never sit still to wind more than a hank of yarn at a time, that
you wouldn't. Off you went to your tomtit boxes an' your robin redbreast
snares--they was all you cared about. Isn't it the truth I'm telling?

JAEGER

Yes, yes, auntie, it's true enough. It wasn't only redbreasts. I went
after swallows too.

EMMA

Though we were always tellin' you that swallows was poison.

JAEGER

What did I care?--But how have you all been gettin' on, auntie Baumert?

MOTHER BAUMERT

Oh, badly, lad, badly these last four years. I've had the
rheumatics--just look at them hands. An' it's more than likely as I've
had a stroke o' some kind too, I'm that helpless. I can hardly move a
limb, an' nobody knows the pains I suffers.

OLD BAUMERT

She's in a bad way, she is. She'll not hold out long.

BERTHA

We've to dress her in the mornin' an' undress her at night, an' to feed
her like a baby.

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_Speaking in a complaining, tearful voice._] Not a thing c'n I do for
myself. It's far worse than bein' ill. For it's not only a burden to
myself I am, but to every one else. Often and often do I pray to God to
take me. For oh! mine's a weary life. I don't know ... p'r'aps they think
... but I'm one that's been a hard worker all my days. An' I've always
been able to do my turn too; but now, all at once, [_she vainly attempts
to rise_] I can't do nothin'.--I've a good husband an' good children, but
to have to sit here and see them...! Look at the girls! There's hardly
any blood left in them--faces the colour of a sheet. But on they must
work at these weary looms whether they earn enough to keep theirselves or
not. What sort o' life is it they lead? Their feet never off the treadle
from year's end to year's end. An' with it all they can't scrape together
as much as'll buy them clothes that they can let theirselves be seen in;
never a step can they go to church, to hear a word o' comfort. They're
liker scarecrows than young girls of fifteen and twenty.

BERTHA

[_At the stove._] It's beginnin' to smoke again!

OLD BAUMERT

There now; look at that smoke. And we can't do nothin' for it. The whole
stove's goin' to pieces. We must let it fall, and swallow the soot. We're
coughin' already, one worse than the other. We may cough till we choke,
or till we cough our lungs up--nobody cares.

JAEGER

But this here is Ansorge's business; he must see to the stove.

BERTHA

He'll see us out o' the house first; he has plenty against us without
that.

MOTHER BAUMERT

We've only been in his way this long time past.

OLD BAUMERT

One word of a complaint an' out we go. He's had no rent from us this last
half-year.

MOTHER BAUMERT

A well-off man like him needn't be so hard.

OLD BAUMERT

He's no better off than we is, mother. He's hard put to it too, for all
he holds his tongue about it.

MOTHER BAUMERT

He's got his house.

OLD BAUMERT

What are you talkin' about, mother? Not one stone in the wall is the
man's own.

JAEGER

[_Has seated himself, and taken a short pipe with gay tassels out of one
coat-pocket, and a quart bottle of brandy out of another._] Things can't
go on like this. I'm dumfoundered when I see the life the people live
here. The very dogs in the towns live better.

OLD BAUMERT

[_Eagerly._] That's what I says! Eh? eh? You know it too! But if you say
that here, they'll tell you that it's only bad times.

    _Enter ANSORGE, an earthenware pan with soup in one hand, in the
    other a half-finished quarter-bushel basket._

ANSORGE

Glad to see you again, Moritz!

JAEGER

Thank you, father Ansorge--same to you!

ANSORGE

[_Shoving his pan into the oven._] Why, lad you look like a duke!

OLD BAUMERT

Show him your watch, Moritz. An' he's got a new suit of clothes, an'
thirty shillings cash.

ANSORGE

[_Shaking his head._] Is that so? Well, well!

EMMA

[_Puts the potato-parings into a bag._] I must be off; I'll maybe get a
drop o' buttermilk for these.

    [_Goes out._

JAEGER

[_The others hanging intently and devoutly on his words._] You know how
you all used to be down on me. It was always: Wait, Moritz, till your
soldierin' time comes--you'll catch it then. But you see how well I've
got on. At the end o' the first half-year I had my good conduct stripes.
You've got to be willin'--that's where the secret lies. I brushed the
sergeant's boots; I groomed his horse; I fetched his beer. I was as sharp
as a needle. Always ready, accoutrements clean and shinin'--first at
stables, first at roll-call, first in the saddle. An' when the bugle
sounded to the assault--why, then, blood and thunder, and ride to the
devil with you!! I was as keen as a pointer. Says I to myself: There's no
help for it now, my boy, it's got to be done; and I set my mind to it and
did it. Till at last the major said before the whole squadron: There's a
hussar now that shows you what a hussar should be!

    [_Silence. He lights his pipe._

ANSORGE

[_Shaking his head._] Well, well, well! You had luck with you, Moritz!

    [_Sits down on the floor, with his willow twigs beside him, and
    continues mending the basket, which he holds between his legs._

OLD BAUMERT

Let's hope you've brought some of it to us.--Are we to have a drop to
drink your health in?

JAEGER

Of course you are, father Baumert. And when this bottle's done, we'll
send for more.

    [_He flings a coin on the table._

ANSORGE

[_Open mouthed with amusement._] Oh my! Oh my! What goings on to be sure!
Roast meat frizzlin' in the oven! A bottle o' brandy on the table! [_He
drinks out of the bottle._] Here's to you, Moritz!--Well, well, well!

    [_The bottle circulates freely after this._

OLD BAUMERT

If we could any way have a bit o' meat on Sundays and holidays, instead
o' never seein' the sight of it from year's end to year's end! Now we'll
have to wait till another poor little dog finds its way into the house
like this one did four weeks gone by--an' that's not likely to happen
soon again.

ANSORGE

Have you killed the little dog?

OLD BAUMERT

We had to do that or starve.

ANSORGE

Well, well! That's so!

MOTHER BAUMERT

A nice, kind little beast he was, too!

JAEGER

Are you as keen as ever on roast dog hereabouts?

OLD BAUMERT

Lord, if we could only get enough of it!

MOTHER BAUMERT

A nice little bit o' meat like that does you a lot o' good.

OLD BAUMERT

Have you lost the taste for it, Moritz? Stay with us a bit, and it'll
soon come back to you.

ANSORGE

[_Sniffing._] Yes, yes! That will be a tasty bite--what a good smell it
has!

OLD BAUMERT

[_Sniffing._] Fine as spice, you might say.

ANSORGE

Come, then, Moritz, tell us your opinion, you that's been out and seen
the world. Is things at all like to improve for us weavers, eh?

JAEGER

They would need to.

ANSORGE

We're in an awful state here. It's not livin' an' it's not dyin'. A man
fights to the bitter end, but he's bound to be beat at last--to be left
without a roof over his head, you may say without ground under his feet.
As long as he can work at the loom he can earn some sort o poor,
miserable livin'. But it's many a day since I've been able to get that
sort o' job. Now I tries to put a bite into my mouth with this here
basket-mak-in'. I sits at it late into the night, and by the time I
tumbles into bed I've earned three-halfpence. I puts it to you as knows
things, if a man can live on that, when everything's so dear? Nine
shillin' goes in one lump for house tax, three shillin' for land tax,
nine shillin' for mortgage interest--that makes one pound one. I may
reckon my year's earnin' at just double that money, and that leaves me
twenty-one shillin' for a whole year's food, an' fire, an' clothes, an'
shoes; and I've got to keep up some sort of a place to live in. An'
there's odds an' ends. Is it a wonder if I'm behindhand with my interest
payments?

OLD BAUMERT

Some one would need to go to Berlin an' tell the King how hard put to it
we are.

JAEGER

Little good that would do, father Baumert. There's been plenty written
about it in the news-papers. But the rich people, they can turn and twist
things round ... as cunning as the devil himself.

OLD BAUMERT

[_Shaking his head._] To think they've no more sense than that in Berlin.

ANSORGE

And is it really true, Moritz? Is there no law to help us? If a man
hasn't been able to scrape together enough to pay his mortgage interest,
though he's worked the very skin off his hands, must his house be taken
from him? The peasant that's lent the money on it, he wants his
rights--what else can you look for from him? But what's to be the end of
it all, I don't know.--If I'm put out o' the house ... [_In a voice
choked by tears._] I was born here, and here my father sat at his loom
for more than forty year. Many was the time he said to mother: Mother,
when I'm gone, keep hold o' the house. I've worked hard for it. Every
nail means a night's weavin', every plank a year's dry bread. A man would
think that ...

JAEGER

They're just as like to take the last bite out of your mouth--that's what
they are.

ANSORGE

Well, well, well! I would rather be carried out than have to walk out now
in my old days. Who minds dyin'? My father, he was glad to die. At the
very end he got frightened, but I crept into bed beside him, an' he
quieted down again. Think of it; I was a lad of thirteen then. I was
tired and fell asleep beside him--I knew no better--and when I woke he
was quite cold.

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_After a pause._] Give Ansorge his soup out o' the oven, Bertha.

BERTHA

Here, father Ansorge, it'll do you good.

ANSORGE

[_Eating and shedding tears._] Well, well, well!

    [_OLD BAUMERT has begun to eat the meat out of the saucepan._

MOTHER BAUMERT

Father, father, can't you have patience an' let Bertha serve it up
properly?

OLD BAUMERT

[_Chewing._] It's two years now since I took the sacrament. I went
straight after that an' sold my Sunday coat, an' we bought a good bit o'
pork, an' since then never a mouthful of meat has passed my lips till
to-night.

JAEGER

_We_ don't need no meat! The manufacturers eats it for us. It's the fat
o' the land _they_ lives on. Whoever don't believe that has only to go
down to Bielau and Peterswaldau. He'll see fine things there--palace upon
palace, with towers and iron railings and plate-glass windows. Who do
they all belong to? Why, of course, the manufacturers! No signs of bad
times there! Baked and boiled and fried--horses and carriages and
governesses--they've money to pay for all that and goodness knows how
much more. They're swelled out to burstin' with pride and good livin'.

ANSORGE

Things was different in my young days. Then the manufacturers let the
weaver have his share. Now they keeps everything to theirselves. An'
would you like to know what's at the bottom of it all? It's that the fine
folks nowadays believes neither in God nor devil. What do they care about
commandments or punishments? And so they steals our last scrap o' bread,
an' leaves us no chance of earnin' the barest living. For it's their
fault. If our manufacturers was good men, there would be no bad times for
us.

JAEGER

Listen, then, and I'll read you something that will please you. [_He
takes one or two loose papers from his pocket._] I say, August, run and
fetch another quart from the public-house. Eh, boy, do you laugh all day
long?

MOTHER BAUMERT

No one knows why, but our August's always happy--grins an' laughs, come
what may. Off with you then, quick! [_Exit AUGUST with the empty
brandy-bottle._] You've got something good now, eh, father?

OLD BAUMERT

[_Still chewing; his spirits are rising from the effect of food and
drink._] Moritz, you're the very man we want. You can read an' write. You
understand the weavin' trade, and you've a heart to feel for the poor
weavers' sufferin's. You should stand up for us here.

JAEGER

I'd do that quick enough! There's nothing I'd like better than to give
the manufacturers round here a bit of a fright--dogs that they are! I'm
an easy-goin' fellow, but let me once get worked up into a real rage, and
I'll take Dreissiger in the one hand and Dittrich in the other, and knock
their heads together till the sparks fly out o' their eyes.--If we could
only arrange all to join together, we'd soon give the manufacturers a
proper lesson ... we wouldn't need no King an' no Government ... all we'd
have to do would be to say: We wants this and that, and we don't want the
other thing. There would be a change of days then. As soon as they see
that there's some pluck in us, they'll cave in. I know the rascals;
they're a pack o' cowardly hounds.

MOTHER BAUMERT

There's some truth in what you say. I'm not a bad woman. I've always been
the one to say as how there must be rich folks as well as poor. But when
things come to such a pass as this ...

JAEGER

The devil may take them all, for what I care. It would be no more than
they deserves.

    [_OLD BAUMERT has quietly gone out._

BERTHA

Where's father?

MOTHER BAUMERT

I don't know where he can have gone.

BERTHA

Do you think he's not been able to stomach the meat, with not gettin'
none for so long?

MOTHER BAUMERT

[_In distress, crying._] There now, there! He's not even able to keep it
down when he's got it. Up it comes again, the only bite o' good food as
he's tasted this many a day.

    _Re-enter OLD BAUMERT, crying with rage._

OLD BAUMERT

It's no good! I'm too far gone! Now that I've at last got hold of
somethin' with a taste in it, my stomach won't keep it.

    [_He sits down on the bench by the stove crying._

JAEGER

[_With a sudden violent ebullition of rage._] An' yet there's people not
far from here, justices they call themselves too, over-fed brutes, that
have nothing to do all the year round but invent new ways of wastin'
their time. An' these people say that the weavers would be quite well off
if only they wasn't so lazy.

ANSORGE

The men as says that are no men at all, they're monsters.

JAEGER

Never mind, father Ansorge; we're makin' the place hot for 'em. Becker
and I have been and given Dreissiger a piece of our mind, and before we
came away we sang him "Bloody Justice."

ANSORGE

Good Lord! Is that the song?

JAEGER

Yes; I have it here.

ANSORGE

They calls it Dreissiger's song, don't they?

JAEGER

I'll read it to you,

MOTHER BAUMERT

Who wrote it?

JAEGER

That's what nobody knows. Now listen.

    [_He reads, hesitating like a schoolboy, with incorrect accentuation,
    but unmistakably strong feeling. Despair, suffering, rage, hatred,
    thirst for revenge, all find utterance._

  The justice to us weavers dealt
    Is bloody, cruel, and hateful;
  Our life's one torture, long drawn out:
    For Lynch law we'd be grateful.

  Stretched on the rack day after day,
    Hearts sick and bodies aching,
  Our heavy sighs their witness bear
    To spirit slowly breaking.

    [_The words of the song make a strong impression on OLD BAUMERT.
    Deeply agitated, he struggles against the temptation to interrupt
    JAEGER. At last he can keep quiet no longer._

OLD BAUMERT [_To his wife, half laughing, half crying, stammering._]
Stretched on the rack day after day. Whoever wrote that, mother, wrote
the truth. You can bear witness ... eh, how does it go? "Our heavy sighs
their witness bear" ... What's the rest?

JAEGER

  "To spirit slowly breaking."

OLD BAUMERT

You know the way we sigh, mother, day and night, sleepin' and wakin'.

    [_ANSORGE had stopped working, and cowers on the floor, strongly
    agitated. MOTHER BAUMERT and BERTHA wipe their eyes frequently during
    the course of the reading._

JAEGER

[_Continues to read._]

  The Dreissigers true hangmen are,
    Servants no whit behind them;
  Masters and men with one accord
    Set on the poor to grind them.

  You villains all, you brood of hell ...

OLD BAUMERT

[_Trembling with rage, stamping on the floor._] Yes, brood of hell!!!

JAEGER

[_Reads._]

    You fiends in fashion human,
  A curse will fall on all like you,
    Who prey on man and woman.

ANSORGE

Yes, yes, a curse upon them!

OLD BAUMERT

[_Clenching his fist, threateningly._] You prey on man and woman.

JAEGER

[_Reads._]

  The suppliant knows he asks in vain,
    Vain every word that's spoken.
  "If not content, then go and starve--
    Our rules cannot be broken."

OLD BAUMERT

What is it? "The suppliant knows he asks in vain"? Every word of it's
true ... every word ... as true as the Bible. He knows he asks in vain.

ANSORGE

Yes, yes! It's all no good.

JAEGER

[_Reads._]

  Then think of all our woe and want,
    O ye who hear this ditty!
  Our struggle vain for daily bread
    Hard hearts would move to pity.

  But pity's what _you've_ never known,
    You'd take both skin and clothing,
  You cannibals, whose cruel deeds
    Fill all good men with loathing.

OLD BAUMERT

[_Jumps up, beside himself with excitement._] Both skin and clothing.
It's true, it's all true! Here I stands, Robert Baumert, master-weaver of
Kaschbach. Who can bring up anything against me?... I've been an honest,
hard-workin' man all my life long, an' look at me now! What have I to
show for it? Look at me! See what they've made of me! Stretched on the
rack day after day, [_He holds out his arms._] Feel that! Skin and bone!
"You villains all, you brood of hell!!"

    [_He sinks down on a chair, weeping with rage and despair._

ANSORGE

[_Flings his basket from him into a corner, rises, his whole body
trembling with rage, gasps._] An' the time's come now for a change, I
say. We'll stand it no longer! We'll stand it no longer! Come what may!


END OF THE SECOND ACT



THE THIRD ACT


    _The common-room of the principal public-house in Peterswaldau. A
    large room with a raftered roof supported by a central wooden pillar,
    round which a table runs. In the back mall, a little to the right of
    the pillar, is the entrance-door, through the opening of which the
    spacious lobby or outer room is seen, with barrels and brewing
    utensils. To the right of this door, in the corner, is the bar--a
    high wooden counter with receptacles for beer-mugs, glasses, etc.; a
    cupboard with rows of brandy and liqueur bottles on the wall behind,
    and between counter and cupboard a narrow space for the barkeeper. In
    front of the bar stands a table with a gay-coloured cover, a pretty
    lamp hanging above it, and several cane chairs placed around it. Not
    far off, in the right wall, is a door with the inscription: Bar
    Parlour. Nearer the front on the same side an old eight-day clock
    stands ticking. At the back, to the left of the entrance-door, is a
    table with bottles and glasses, and beyond this, in the corner, is
    the great tile-oven. In the left wall there are three small windows.
    Below them runs a long bench; and in front of each stands a large
    oblong wooden table, with the end towards the wall. There are benches
    with backs along the sides of these tables, and at the end of each
    facing the window stands a wooden chair. The walls are washed blue
    and decorated with advertisements, coloured prints and oleographs,
    among the latter a portrait of Frederick William IV._

    _WELZEL, the publican, a good-natured giant, upwards of fifty, stands
    behind the counter, letting beer run from a barrel into a glass._

    _MRS. WELZEL is ironing by the stove. She is a handsome, tidily
    dressed woman in her thirty-fifth year._

    _ANNA WELZEL, a good-looking girl of seventeen, with a quantity of
    beautiful, fair, reddish hair, sits, neatly dressed, with her
    embroidery, at the table with the coloured cover. She looks up from
    her work for a moment and listens, as the sound of a funeral hymn
    sung by school-children is heard in the distance._

    _WIEGAND, the joiner, in his working clothes, is sitting at the same
    table, with a glass of Bavarian beer before him. His face shows that
    he understands what the world requires of a man if he is to attain
    his ends--namely, craftiness, swiftness, and relentless pushing
    forward._

    _A COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER is seated at the pillar-table, vigorously
    masticating a beef-steak. He is of middle height, stout and
    thriving-looking, inclined to jocosity, lively, and impudent. He is
    dressed in the fashion of the day, and his portmanteau, pattern-case,
    umbrella, overcoat, and travelling rug lie on chairs beside him._

WELZEL

[_Carrying a glass of beer to the TRAVELLER, but addressing WIEGAND._]
The devil's broke loose in Peterswaldau to-day.

WIEGAND

[_In a sharp, shrill voice._] That's because it's delivery day at
Dreissiger's.

MRS. WELZEL

But they don't generally make such an awful row.

WIEGAND

It's may be because of the two hundred new weavers that he's going to
take on.

MRS. WELZEL

[_At her ironing._] Yes, yes, that'll be it. If he wants two hundred, six
hundred's sure to have come. There's no lack of _them_.

WIEGAND

No, they'll last. There's no fear of their dying out, let them be ever so
badly off. They bring more children into the world than we know what to
do with. [_The strains of the funeral hymn are suddenly heard more
distinctly._] There's a funeral to-day too. Weaver Nentwich is dead, you
know.

WELZEL

He's been long enough about it. He's been goin' about like a livin' ghost
this many a long day.

WIEGAND

You never saw such a little coffin, Welzel; it was the tiniest,
miserablest little thing I ever glued together. And what a corpse! It
didn't weigh ninety pounds.

TRAVELLER

[_His mouth full._] What I don't understand's this.... Take up whatever
paper you like and you'll find the most heartrending accounts of the
destitution among the weavers. You get the impression that three-quarters
of the people in this neighbourhood are starving. Then you come and see a
funeral like what's going on just now. I met it as I came into the
village. Brass band, schoolmaster, school children, pastor, and such a
procession behind them that you would think it was the Emperor of China
that was getting buried. If the people have money to spend on this sort
of thing, well...! [_He takes a drink of beer; puts down the glass;
suddenly and jocosely._] What do you say to it, Miss? Don't you agree
with me?

    [ANNA _gives an embarrassed laugh, and goes on working busily._

TRAVELLER

Now, I'll take a bet that these are slippers for papa.

WELZEL

You're wrong, then; I wouldn't put such things on my feet.

TRAVELLER

You don't say so! Now, I would give half of what I'm worth if these
slippers were for me.

MRS. WELZEL

Oh, he don't know nothing about such things.

WIEGAND

[_Has coughed once or twice, moved his chair, and prepared himself to
speak._] You were sayin', sir, that you wondered to see such a funeral as
this. I tell you, and Mrs. Welzel here will bear me out, that it's quite
a small funeral.

TRAVELLER

But, my good man ... what a monstrous lot of money it must cost! Where
does all that come from?

WIEGAND

If you'll excuse me for saying so, sir, there's a deal of foolishness
among the poorer working people hereabouts. They have a kind of
inordinate idea, if I may say so, of the respect an' duty an' honour
they're bound to show to such as is taken from their midst. And when it
comes to be a case of parents, then there's no bounds whatever to their
superstitiousness. The children and the nearest family scrapes together
every farthing they can call their own, an' what's still wanting, that
they borrow from some rich man. They run themselves into debt over head
and ears; they're owing money to the pastor, to the sexton, and to all
concerned. Then there's the victuals, an' the drink, an' such like. No,
sir, I'm far from speaking against dutifulness to parents; but it's too
much when it goes the length of the mourners having to bear the weight of
it for the rest of their lives.

TRAVELLER

But surely the pastor might reason them out of such foolishness.

WIEGAND

Begging your pardon, sir, but I must mention that every little place
hereabouts has its church an' its reverend pastor to support. These
honourable gentlemen has their advantages from big funerals. The larger
the attendance is, the larger the offertory is bound to be. Whoever knows
the circumstances connected with the working classes here, sir, will
assure you that the pastors are strong against quiet funerals.

    _Enter HORNIG, the rag dealer, a little bandy-legged old man, with a
    strap round his chest._

HORNIG

Good-mornin', ladies and gentlemen! A glass o' schnapps, if you please,
Mr. Welzel. Has the young mistress anything for me to-day? I've got
beautiful ribbons in my cart, Miss Anna, an' tapes, an' garters, an' the
very best of pins an' hairpins an' hooks an' eyes. An' all in exchange
for a few rags. [_In a changed voice._] An'out of them rags fine white
paper's to be made, for your sweetheart to write you a letter on.

ANNA

Thank you, but I've nothing to do with sweethearts.

MRS. WELZEL

[_Putting a bolt into her iron._] No, she's not that kind. She'll not
hear of marrying.

TRAVELLER

[_Jumps up, affecting delighted surprise, goes forward to ANNA'S table,
and holds out his hand to her across it._] That's sensible, Miss. You and
I think alike in this matter. Give me your hand on it. We'll both remain
single.

ANNA

[_Blushing scarlet, gives him her hand._] But you are married already!

TRAVELLER

Not a bit of it. I only pretend to be. You think so because I wear a
ring. I only have it on my finger to protect my charms against shameless
attacks. I'm not afraid of you, though. [_He puts the ring into his
pocket._] But tell me, truly, Miss, are you quite determined never,
never, never, to marry?

ANNA

[_Shakes her head._] Oh, get along with you!

MRS. WELZEL

You may trust her to remain single unless something very extra good turns
up.

TRAVELLER

And why shouldn't it? I know of a rich Silesian proprietor who married
his mother's lady's maid. And there's Dreissiger, the rich manufacturer,
his wife is an innkeeper's daughter too, and not half so pretty as you,
Miss, though she rides in her carriage now, with servants in livery. And
why not? [_He marches about, stretching himself, and stamping his feet._]
Let me have a cup of coffee, please.

    _Enter ANSORGE and OLD BAUMERT, each with a bundle. They seat
    themselves meekly and silently beside HORNIG, at the front table to
    the left._

WELZEL

How are you, father Ansorge? Glad to see you once again.

HORNIG

Yes, it's not often as you crawl down from that smoky old nest.

ANSORGE

[_Visibly embarrassed, mumbles._] I've been fetchin' myself a web again.

BAUMER

He's goin' to work at a shilling the web.

ANSORGE

I wouldn't ha' done it, but there's no more to be made now by
basket-weaving'.

WIEGAND

It's always better than nothin'. He does it only to give you employment.
I know Dreissiger very well. When I was up there takin' out his double
windows last week we were talkin' about it, him and me. It's out of pity
that he does it.

ANSORGE

Well, well, well! That may be so.

WELZEL

[_Setting a glass of schnapps on the table before each of the weavers._]
Here you are, then. I say, Ansorge, how long is it since you had a shave?
The gentleman over there would like to know.

TRAVELLER

[_Calls across._] Now, Mr. Welzel, you know I didn't say that. I was only
struck by the venerable appearance of the master-weaver. It isn't often
one sees such a gigantic figure.

ANSORGE

[_Scratching his head, embarrassed._] Well, well!

TRAVELLER

Such specimens of primitive strength are rare nowadays. We're all rubbed
smooth by civilisation ... but I can still take pleasure in nature
untampered with.... These bushy eyebrows! That tangled length of beard!

HORNIG

Let me tell you, sir, that them people haven't the money to pay a barber,
and as to a razor for themselves, that's altogether beyond them. What
grows, grows. They haven't nothing to throw away on their outsides.

TRAVELLER

My good friend, you surely don't imagine that I would ... [_Aside to
WELZEL._] Do you think I might offer the hairy one a glass of beer?

WELZEL

No, no; you mustn't do that. He wouldn't take it. He's got some queer
ideas in that head o' his.

TRAVELLER

All right, then, I won't. With your permission, Miss. [_He seats himself
at ANNA'S table._] I declare, Miss, that I've not been able to take my
eyes off your hair since I came in--such glossy softness, such a splendid
quantity! [_Ecstatically kisses his finger-tips._] And what a colour!...
like ripe wheat. Come to Berlin with that hair and you'll create no end
of a sensation. On my honour, with hair like that you may go to Court....
[_Leans back, looking at it._] Glorious, simply glorious!

WIEGAND

They've given her a fine name because of it.

TRAVELLER

And what may that be?

ANNA

[_Laughing quietly to herself._] Oh, don't listen to that!

HORNIG

The chestnut filly, isn't it?

WELZEL

Come now, we've had enough o' this. I'm not goin' to have the girl's head
turned altogether. She's had a-plenty of silly notions put into it
already. She'll hear of nothing under a count today, and to-morrow it'll
be a prince.

MRS. WELZEL

Don't abuse the girl, father. There's no harm in wantin' to rise in the
world. It's as well that people don't all think as you do, or nobody
would get on at all. If Dreissiger's grandfather had been of your way of
thinkin', they would be poor weavers still. And now they're rollin' in
wealth. An' look at old Tromtra. He was nothing but a weaver, too, and
now he owns twelve estates, an' he's been made a nobleman into the
bargain.

WIEGAND

Yes, Welzel, you must look at the thing fairly. Your wife's in the right
this time. I can answer for that. I'd never be where I am, with seven
workmen under me, if I had thought like you.

HORNIG

Yes, you understand the way to get on; that your worst enemy must allow.
Before the weaver has taken to bed, you're gettin' his coffin ready.

WIEGAND

A man must stick to his business if he's to get on.

HORNIG

No fear of you for that. You know before the doctor when death's on the
way to knock at a weaver's door.

WIEGAND

[_Attempting to laugh, suddenly furious._] And you know better'n the
police where the thieves are among the weavers, that keep back two or
three bobbins full every week. It's rags you ask for but you don't say
No, if there's a little yarn among them.

HORNIG

An' your corn grows in the churchyard. The more that are bedded on the
sawdust, the better for you. When you see the rows o' little children's
graves, you pats yourself on the belly and says you: This has been a good
year; the little brats have fallen like cockchafers off the trees. I can
allow myself a quart extra in the week again.

WIEGAND

And supposin' this is all true, it still don't make me a receiver of
stolen goods.

HORNIG

No; perhaps the worst you do is to send in an account twice to the rich
fustian manufacturers, or to help yourself to a plank or two at
Dreissiger's when there's building goin' on and the moon happens not to
be shinin'.

WIEGAND

[_Turning his back._] Talk to any one you like, but not to me. [_Then
suddenly._] Hornig the liar!

HORNIG

Wiegand the coffin-jobber!

WIEGAND

[_To the rest of the company._] He knows charms for bewitching cattle.

HORNIG

If you don't look out, I'll try one of 'em on you.

    [_WIEGAND turns pale._

MRS. WELZEL

[_Had gone out; now returns with the TRAVELLER'S coffee; in the act of
putting it on the table._] Perhaps you would rather have it in the
parlour, sir?

TRAVELLER

Most certainly not! [_With a languishing look at ANNA._] I could sit here
till I die.

    _Enter a YOUNG FORESTER and a PEASANT, the latter carrying a whip.
    They wish the others_ "Good Morning," _and remain standing at the
    counter._

PEASANT

Two brandies, if you please.

WELZEL

Good-morning to you, gentlemen.

    [_He pours out their beverage; the two touch glasses, take a
    mouthful, and then set the glasses down on the counter._

TRAVELLER

[_To FORESTER._] Come far this morning, sir?

FORESTER

From Steinseiffersdorf--that's a good step.

    _Two old WEAVERS enter, and seat themselves beside ANSORGE, BAUMERT,
    and HORNIG._

TRAVELLER

Excuse me asking, but are you in Count Hochheim's service?

FORESTER

No. I'm in Count Keil's.

TRAVELLER

Yes, yes, of course--that was what I meant. One gets confused here among
all the counts and barons and other gentlemen. It would take a giant's
memory to remember them all. Why do you carry an axe, if I may ask?

FORESTER

I've just taken this one from a man who was stealing wood.

OLD BAUMERT

Yes, their lordships are mighty strict with us about a few sticks for the
fire.

TRAVELLER

You must allow that if every one were to help himself to what he wanted
...

OLD BAUMERT

By your leave, sir, but there's a difference made here as elsewhere
between the big an' the little thieves. There's some here as deals in
stolen wood wholesale, and grows rich on it. But if a poor weaver ...

FIRST OLD WEAVER

[_Interrupts BAUMERT._] We're forbid to take a single branch; but their
lordships, they take the very skin off of us--we've assurance money to
pay, an' spinning-money, an' charges in kind--we must go here an' go
there, an' do so an' so much field work, all willy-nilly.

ANSORGE

That's just how it is--what the manufacturer leaves us, their lordships
takes from us.

SECOND OLD WEAVER

[_Has taken a seat at the next table._] I've said it to his lordship
hisself. By your leave, my lord, says I, it's not possible for me to work
on the estate so many days this year. I comes right out with it. For
why--my own bit of ground, my lord, it's been next to carried away by the
rains. I've to work night and day if I'm to live at all. For oh, what a
flood that was...! There I stood an' wrung my hands, an' watched the good
soil come pourin' down the hill, into the very house! And all that dear,
fine seed!... I could do nothin' but roar an' cry until I couldn't see
out o' my eyes for a week. And then I had to start an' wheel eighty heavy
barrow-loads of earth up that hill, till my back was all but broken.

PEASANT

[_Roughly._] You weavers here make such an awful outcry. As if we hadn't
all to put up with what Heaven sends us. An' if you _are_ badly off just
now, whose fault is it but your own? What did you do when trade was good?
Drank an' squandered all you made. If you had saved a bit then, you'd
have it to fall back on now when times is bad, and not need to be goin'
stealin' yarn and wood.

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

[_Standing with several comrades in the lobby or outer room, calls in at
the door._] What's a peasant but a peasant, though he lies in bed till
nine?

FIRST OLD WEAVER

The peasant an' the count, it's the same story with 'em both. Says the
peasant when a weaver wants a house: I'll give you a little bit of a hole
to live in, an' you'll pay me so much rent in money, an' the rest of it
you'll make up by helpin' me to get in my hay an' my corn--and if that
don't please you, why, then you may go elsewhere. He tries another, and
to the second he says the same as to the first.

BAUMERT

[_Angrily._] The weaver's like a bone that every dog takes a gnaw at.

PEASANT

[_Furious._] You starvin' curs, you're no good for anything. Can you yoke
a plough? Can you draw a straight furrow or throw a bundle of sheaves on
to a cart. You're fit for nothing but to idle about an' go after the
women. A pack of scoundrelly ne'er-do-wells!

    [_He has paid and now goes out._

    [_The FORESTER follows, laughing. WELZEL, the joiner, and MRS. WELZEL
    laugh aloud; the TRAVELLER laughs to himself. Then there is a
    moment's silence._

HORNIG

A peasant like that's as stupid as his own ox. As if I didn't know all
about the distress in the villages round here. Sad sights I've seen! Four
and five lyin' naked on one sack of straw.

TRAVELLER

[_In a mildly remonstrative tone._] Allow me to remark, my good man, that
there's a great difference of opinion as to the amount of distress here
in the Eulengebirge. If you can read....

HORNIG

I can read straight off, as well as you. An' I know what I've seen with
my own eyes. It would be queer if a man that's travelled the country with
a pack on his back these forty years an' more didn't know something about
it. There was the Fullers, now. You saw the children scrapin' about among
the dung-heaps with the peasants' geese. The people up there died naked,
on the bare stone floors. In their sore need they ate the stinking
weavers' glue. Hunger carried 'em off by the hundred.

TRAVELLER

You must be aware, since you are able to read, that strict investigation
has been made by the Government, and that....

HORNIG

Yes, yes, we all know what that means. They send a gentleman that knows
all about it already better nor if he had seen it, an' he goes about a
bit in the village where the brook flows broad an' the best houses is. He
don't want to dirty his shinin' boots. Thinks he to hisself: All the
rest'll be the same as this. An' so he steps into his carriage, an'
drives away home again, an' then writes to Berlin that there's no
distress in the place at all. If he had but taken the trouble to go
higher up into a village like that, to where the stream comes in, or
across the stream on to the narrow side--or, better still, if he'd gone
up to the little out-o'-the-way hovels on the hill above, some of 'em
that black an' tumble-down as it would be the waste of a good match to
set fire to 'em--it's another kind o' report he'd have sent to Berlin.
They should ha' come to me, these government gentlemen that wouldn't
believe there was no distress here. I would ha' shown 'em something. I'd
have opened their eyes for 'em in some of these starvation holes.

    [_The strains of the Weavers' Song are heard, sung outside._

WELZEL

There they are, roaring at that devil's song again.

WIEGAND

They're turning the whole place upside down.

MRS. WELZEL

You'd think there was something in the air.

    _JAEGER and BECKER arm in arm, at the head of a troop of young
    weavers, march noisily through the outer room and enter the bar._

JAEGER

Halt! To your places!

    [_The new arrivals sit down at the various tables, and begin to talk
    to other weavers already seated there._

HORNIG

[_Calls out to BECKER._] What's up now, Becker, that you've got together
a crowd like this?

BECKER

[_Significantly._] Who knows but something may be goin' to happen? Eh,
Moritz?

HORNIG

Come, come, lads. Don't you be a-gettin' of yourselves into mischief.

BECKER

Blood's flowed already. Would you like to see it?

    [_He pulls up his sleeve and shows bleeding tattoo-marks on the upper
    part of his arm. Many of the other young weavers do the same._

BECKER

We've been at barber Schmidt's gettin' ourselves vaccinated.

HORNIG

Now the thing's explained. Little wonder there's such an uproar in the
place, with a band of young rapscallions like you paradin' round.

JAEGER

[_Consequentially, in a loud voice._] You may bring two quarts at once,
Welzel! I pay. Perhaps you think I haven't got the needful. You're wrong,
then. If we wanted we could sit an' drink your best brandy an' swill
coffee till to-morrow morning with any bagman in the land.

    [_Laughter among the young weavers._

TRAVELLER

[_Affecting comic surprise._] Is the young gentleman kind enough to take
notice of me?

    [_Host, hostess, and their daughter, WIEGAND, and the TRAVELLER all
    laugh._

JAEGER

If the cap fits, wear it.

TRAVELLER

Your affairs seem to be in a thriving condition, young man, if I may be
allowed to say so.

JAEGER

I can't complain. I'm a traveller in made-up goods. I go shares with the
manufacturers. The nearer starvation the weaver is, the better I fare.
His want butters my bread.

BECKER

Well done, Moritz! You gave it him that time. Here's to you!

    [_WELZEL has brought the corn-brandy. On his way back to the counter
    he stops, turns round slowly, and stands, an embodiment of phlegmatic
    strength, facing the weavers._

WELZEL

[_Calmly but emphatically._] You let the gentleman alone. He's done you
no harm.

YOUNG WEAVERS

And we're doing him no harm.

    [_MRS. WELZEL has exchanged a few words with the TRAVELLER. She takes
    the cup with the remains of his coffee and carries it into the
    parlour. The TRAVELLER follows her amidst the laughter of the
    weavers._

YOUNG WEAVERS

[_Singing._] "The Dreissigers the hangmen are, Servants no whit behind
them."

WELZEL

Hush-sh! Sing that song anywhere else you like, but not in my house.

FIRST OLD WEAVER

He's quite right. Stop that singin', lads.

BECKER

[_Roars._] But we must march past Dreissiger's, boys, and let him hear it
ones more.

WIEGAND

You'd better take care--you may march once too often!

    [_Laughter and cries of_ Ho, ho!

    _WITTIG has entered; a grey-haired old smith, bareheaded, with
    leather apron and wooden shoes, sooty from the smithy. He is standing
    at the counter waiting for his schnapps._

WITTIG

Let 'em go on with their doin's. The dogs as barks most, bites least.

OLD WEAVERS

Wittig, Wittig!

WITTIG

Here he is. What do you want with him?

OLD WEAVERS

"It's Wittig!"--"Wittig, Wittig!"--"Come here, Wittig."--"Sit beside us,
Wittig."

WITTIG

Do you think I would sit beside a set of rascals like you?

JAEGER

Come and take a glass with us.

WITTIG

Keep your brandy to yourselves. I pay for my own drink. [_Takes his glass
and sits down beside BAUMERT and ANSORGE. Clapping the latter on the
stomach._] What's the weavers' food so nice? Sauerkraut and roasted lice!

OLD BAUMERT

[_Drunk with excitement._] But what would you say now if they'd made up
their minds as how they would put up with it no longer.

WITTIG

[_With pretended astonishment, staring open-mouthed at the old weaver._]
Heinerle! you don't mean to tell me that that's you? [_Laughs
immoderately._] O Lord, O Lord! I could laugh myself to death. Old
Baumert risin' in rebellion! We'll have the tailors at it next, and then
there'll be a rebellion among the baa-lambs, and the rats and the mice.
Damn it all, but we'll see some sport.

    [_He nearly splits with laughter._

OLD BAUMERT

You needn't go on like that, Wittig. I'm the same man I've always been. I
still say 'twould be better if things could be put right peaceably.

WITTIG

Rot! How could it be done peaceably? Did they do it peaceably in France?
Did Robespeer tickle the rich men's palms? No! It was: Away with them,
every one! To the gilyoteen with 'em! Allongs onfong! You've got your
work before you. The geese'll not fly ready roasted into your mouths.

OLD BAUMERT

If I could make even half a livin' ...

FIRST OLD WEAVER

The water's up to our chins now, Wittig.

SECOND OLD WEAVER

We're afraid to go home. It's all the same whether we works or whether we
lies abed; it's starvation both ways.

FIRST OLD WEAVER

A man's like to go mad at home.

OLD ANSORGE

I've come to that pass now that I don't care how things goes.

OLD WEAVERS

[_With increasing excitement._] "We've no peace anywhere."--"We've no
spirit left to work."--"Up with us in Steenkunzendorf you can see a
weaver sittin' by the stream washin' hisself the whole day long, naked as
God made him. It's driven him clean out of his mind."

THIRD OLD WEAVER

[_Moved by the spirit, stands up and begins to "speak with tongues,"
stretching out his hand threateningly._] Judgement is at hand! Have no
dealings with the rich and the great! Judgement is at hand! The Lord God
of Sabaoth ...

    [_Some of the weavers laugh. He is pulled down on to his seat._

WELZEL

That's a chap that can't stand a single glass--he gets wild at once.

THIRD OLD WEAVER

[_Jumps up again._] But they--they believe not in God, not in hell, not
in heaven. They mock at religion....

FIRST OLD WEAVER

Come, come now, that's enough!

BECKER

You let him do his little bit o' preaching. There's many a one would be
the better for takin' it to heart.

VOICES

[_In excited confusion._] "Let him alone!" "Let him speak!"

THIRD OLD WEAVER

[_Raising his voice._] But hell is opened, saith the Lord; its jaws are
gaping wide, to swallow up all those that oppress the afflicted and
pervert judgement in the cause of the poor. [_Wild excitement._]

THIRD OLD WEAVER

[_Suddenly declaiming schoolboy fashion._]

  When one has thought upon it well,
  It's still more difficult to tell
  Why they the linen-weaver's work despise.

BECKER

But we're fustian-weavers, man.

    [_Laughter._

HORNIG

The linen-weavers is ever so much worse off than you. They're wanderin'
about among the hills like ghosts. You people here have still got the
pluck left in you to kick up a row.

WITTIG

Do you suppose the worst's over here? It won't be long till the
manufacturers drain away that little bit of strength they still has left
in their bodies.

BECKER

You know what he said: It will come to the weavers workin' for a bite of
bread.

    [_Uproar._

SEVERAL OLD AND YOUNG WEAVERS

Who said that?

BECKER

Dreissiger said it.

A YOUNG WEAVER

The damned rascal should be hung up by the heels.

JAEGER

Look here, Wittig. You've always jawed such a lot about the French
Revolution, and a good deal too about your own doings. A time may be
coming, and that before long, when every one will have a chance to show
whether he's a braggart or a true man.

WITTIG

[_Flaring up angrily._] Say another word if you dare! Has you heard the
whistle o' bullets? Has you done outpost duty in an enemy's country?

JAEGER

You needn't get angry about it. We're comrades. I meant no harm.

WITTIG

None of your comradeship for me, you impudent young fool.

    _Enter KUTSCHE, the policeman._

SEVERAL VOICES

Hush--sh! Police!

    [_This calling goes on for some time, till at last there is complete
    silence, amidst which KUTSCHE takes his place at the central pillar
    table._

KUTSCHE

A small brandy, please.

    [_Again complete silence._]

WITTIG

I suppose you've come to see if we're all behavin' ourselves, Kutsche?

KUTSCHE

[_Paying no attention to WITTIG._] Good-morning, Mr. Wiegand.

WIEGAND

[_Still in the corner in front of the counter._] Good morning t'you.

KUTSCHE

How's trade?

WIEGAND

Thank you, much as usual.

BECKER

The chief constable's sent him to see if we're spoilin' our stomach on
these big wages we're gettin'.

    [_Laughter._

JAEGER

I say, Welzel, you will tell him how we've been feastin' on roast pork
an' sauce an' dumplings and sauerkraut, and now we're sittin' at our
champagne wine.

    [_Laughter._

WELZEL.

The world's upside down with them to-day.

KUTSCHE

An' even if you had the champagne wine and the roast meat, you wouldn't
be satisfied. I've to get on without champagne wine as well as you.

BECKER

[_Referring to KUTSCHE'S nose._] He waters his beet-root with brandy and
gin. An' it thrives on it too.

    [_Laughter._

WITTIG

A p'liceman like that has a hard life. Now it's a starving beggar boy he
has to lock up, then it's a pretty weaver girl he has to lead astray;
then he has to get roarin' drunk an' beat his wife till she goes
screamin' to the neighbours for help; and there's the ridin' about on
horseback and the lyin' in bed till nine--nay, faith, but it's no easy
job!

KUTSCHE

Jaw away; you'll jaw a rope round your neck in time. It's long been known
what sort of a fellow you are. The magistrates knows all about that
rebellious tongue o' yours, I know who'll drink wife and child into the
poorhouse an' himself into gaol before long, who it is that'll go on
agitatin' and agitatin' till he brings down judgment on himself and all
concerned.

WITTIG

[_Laughs bitterly._] It's true enough--no one knows what'll be the end of
it. You may be right yet. [_Bursts out in fury._] But if it does come to
that, I know who I've got to thank for it, who it is that's blabbed to
the manufacturers an' all the gentlemen round, an' blackened my character
to that extent that they never give me a hand's turn of work to do--an'
set the peasants an' the millers against me, so that I'm often a whole
week without a horse to shoe or a wheel to put a tyre on. I know who's
done it. I once pulled the damned brute off his horse, because he was
givin' a little stupid boy the most awful flogging for stealin' a few
unripe pears. But I tell you this, Kutsche, and you know me--if you get
me put into prison, you may make your own will. If I hears as much as a
whisper of it. I'll take the first thing as comes handy, whether it's a
horseshoe or a hammer, a wheel-spoke or a pail; I'll get hold of you if
I've to drag you out of bed from beside your wife, and I'll beat in your
brains, as sure as my name's Wittig.

    [_He has jumped up and is going to rush at KUTSCHE._]

OLD AND YOUNG WEAVERS

[_Holding him back._] Wittig, Wittig! Don't lose your head!

KUTSCHE

[_Has risen involuntarily, his face pale. He backs towards the door while
speaking. The nearer the door the higher his courage rises. He speaks the
last words on the threshold, and then instantly disappears._] What are
you goin' on at me about? I didn't meddle with you. I came to say
somethin' to the weavers. My business is with them an' not with you, and
I've done nothing to you. But I've this to say to you weavers: The
superintendent of police herewith forbids the singing of that
song--Dreissiger's song, or whatever it is you calls it. And if the
yelling of it on the streets isn't stopped at once, he'll provide you
with plenty of time and leisure for goin' on with it in gaol. You may
sing there, on bread an' water, to your hearts' content.

    [_Goes out._

WITTIG

[_Roars after him._] He's no right to forbid, it--not if we was to roar
till the windows shook an' they could hear us at Reichenbach--not if we
sang till the manufacturers' houses tumbled about their ears an' all the
superintendents' helmets danced on the top of their heads. It's nobody's
business but our own.

    [_BECKER has in the meantime got up, made a signal for singing, and
    now leads off, the others joining in._

  The justice to us weavers dealt
    Is bloody, cruel, and hateful;
  Our life's one torture, long drawn out;
    For Lynch law we'd be grateful.

    [_WELZEL attempts to quiet them, but they pay no attention to him.
    WIEGAND puts his hands to his ears and rushes off. During the singing
    of the next stanza the weavers rise and form, into procession behind
    BECKER and WITTIG, who have given pantomimic signs for a general
    break-up._

  Stretched on the rack, day after day,
    Hearts sick and bodies aching,
  Our heavy sighs their witness bear
    To spirit slowly breaking.

    [_Most of the weavers sing the following stanza, out on the street,
    only a few young fellows, who are paying, being still in the bar. At
    the conclusion of the stanza no one is left in the room except WELZEL
    and his wife and daughter, HORNIG, and OLD BAUMERT._

  You villains all, you brood of hell,
    You fiends in fashion human,
  A curse will fall on all like you
    Who prey on man and woman.

WELZEL

[_Phlegmatically collecting the glasses._] Their backs are up to-day, an'
no mistake.

HORNIG

[_To OLD BAUMERT, who is preparing to go._] What in the name of Heaven
are they up to, Baumert?

BAUMERT

They're goin' to Dreissiger's to make him add something on to the pay.

WELZEL

And are you joining in these foolish goings on?

OLD BAUMERT

I've no choice, Welzel. The young men may an' the old men must.

    [_Goes out rather shamefacedly._

HORNIG

It'll not surprise me if this ends badly.

WELZEL

To think that even old fellows like him are goin' right off their heads!

HORNIG

We all set our hearts on something!


END OF THE THIRD ACT



THE FOURTH ACT


    _Peterswaldau.--Private room of DREISSIGER, _the fustian
    manufacturer--luxuriously furnished in the chilly taste of the first
    half of this century. Ceiling, doors, and stove are white, and the
    wall paper, with its small, straight-lined floral pattern, is dull
    and cold in tone. The furniture is mahogany, richly-carved, and
    upholstered in red. On the right, between two windows with crimson
    damask curtains, stands the writing-table, a high bureau with falling
    flap. Directly opposite to this is the sofa, with the strong-box;
    beside it; in front of the sofa a table, with chairs and easy-chairs
    arranged about it. Against the back wall is a gun-rack. All three
    walls are decorated with bad pictures in gilt frames. Above the sofa
    is a mirror with a heavily gilt rococo frame. On the left an ordinary
    door leads into the hall. An open folding door at the back shows the
    drawing-room, over-furnished in the same style of comfortless
    ostentation. Two ladies, MRS. DREISSIGER and MRS. KITTELHAUS, the
    Pastor's wife, are seen in the drawing-room, looking at pictures.
    PASTOR KITTELHAUS is there too, engaged in conversation with
    WEINHOLD, the tutor, a theological graduate._

KITTELHAUS

[_A kindly little elderly man, enters the front room, smoking and
chatting familiarly with the tutor, who is also smoking; he looks round
and shakes his head in surprise at finding the room empty._] You are
young, Mr. Weinhold, which explains everything. At your age we old
fellows held--well, I won't say the same opinions--but certainly opinions
of the same tendency. And there's something fine about youth--youth with
its grand ideals. But unfortunately, Mr. Weinhold, they don't last; they
are as fleeting as April sunshine. Wait till you are my age. When a man
has said his say from the pulpit for thirty years--fifty-two times every
year, not including saints' days--he has inevitably calmed down. Think of
me, Mr. Weinhold, when you come to that pass.

WEINHOLD

[_Nineteen, pale, thin, tall, with lanky fair hair; restless and nervous
in his movements._] With all due respect, Mr. Kittelhaus.... I can't
think ... people have such different natures.

KITTELHAUS

My dear Mr. Weinhold, however restless-minded and unsettled, a man may
be--[_in a tone of reproof_]--and you are a case in point--however
violently and wantonly he may attack the existing order of things, he
calms down in the end. I grant you, certainly, that among our
professional brethren individuals are to be found, who, at a fairly
advanced age, still play youthful pranks. One preaches against the drink
evil and founds temperance societies, another publishes appeals which
undoubtedly read most effectively. But what good do they do? The distress
among the weavers, where it does exist, is in no way lessened--but the
peace of society is undermined. No, no; one feels inclined in such cases
to say: Cobbler, stick to your last; don't take to caring for the belly,
you who have the care of souls. Preach the pure Word of God, and leave
all else to Him who provides shelter and food for the birds, and clothes
the lilies of the field.--But I should like to know where our good host,
Mr. Dreissiger, has suddenly disappeared to.

    [_MRS. DREISSIGER, followed by MRS. KITTELHAUS, now comes forward.
    She is a pretty woman of thirty, of a healthy, florid type. A certain
    discrepancy is noticeable between her deportment and way of
    expressing herself and her rich, elegant toilette._]

MRS. DREISSIGER

That's what I want to know too, Mr. Kittelhaus. But it's what William
always does. No sooner does a thing come into his head than off he goes
and leaves me in the lurch. I've said enough about it, but it does no
good.

KITTELHAUS

It's always the way with business men, my dear Mrs. Dreissiger.

WEINHOLD

I'm almost certain that something has happened downstairs.

    _DREISSIGER enters, hot and excited._

DREISSIGER

Well, Rosa, is coffee served?

MRS. DREISSIGER

[_Sulkily._] Fancy your needing to run away again!

DREISSIGER

[_Carelessly._] Ah! these are things you don't understand.

KITTELHAUS

Excuse me--has anything happened to annoy you, Mr. Dreissiger?

DREISSIGER

Never a day passes without that, my dear sir. I am accustomed to it. What
about that coffee, Rosa?

    [_MRS. DREISSIGER goes ill-humouredly and gives one or two violent
    tugs at the broad embroidered bell-pull._

DREISSIGER

I wish you had been downstairs just now, Mr. Weinhold. You'd have gained
a little experience. Besides.... But now let us have our game of whist.

KITTELHAUS

By all means, sir. Shake off the dust and burden of the day, Mr.
Dreissiger; forget it in our company.

DREISSIGER

[_Has gone to the window, pushed aside a curtain, and is looking out.
Involuntarily._] Vile rabble!! Come here. Rosa! [_She goes to the
window._] Look ... that tall red-haired fellow there!...

KITTELHAUS

That's the man they call Red Becker.

DREISSIGER

Is he the man that insulted you the day before yesterday? You remember
what you told me--when John was helping you into the carriage?

MRS. DREISSIGER

[_Pouting, drawls._] I'm sure I don't know.

DREISSIGER

Come now, drop that offended air! I must know. I am thoroughly tired of
their impudence. If he's the man, I mean to have him arrested. [_The
strains of the Weavers' Song are heard._] Listen to that! Just listen!

KITTELHAUS

[_Highly incensed._] Is there to be no end to this nuisance? I must
acknowledge now that it is time for the police to interfere. Permit me.
[_He goes forward to the window._] See, see, Mr. Weinhold! These are not
only young people. There are numbers of steady-going old weavers among
them, men whom I have known for years and looked upon as most deserving
and God-fearing. There they are, taking part in this unheard-of mischief,
trampling God's law under foot. Do you mean to tell me that you still
defend these people?

WEINHOLD

Certainly not, Mr. Kittelhaus. That is, sir ... _cum grano salis_. For
after all, they are hungry and they are ignorant. They are giving
expression to their dissatisfaction in the only way they understand. I
don't expect that such people....

MRS. KITTELHAUS

[_Short, thin, faded, more like an old maid than a married woman._] Mr.
Weinhold, Mr. Weinhold, how can you?

DREISSIGER

Mr. Weinhold, I am sorry to be obliged to.... I didn't bring you into my
house to give me lectures on philanthropy, and I must request that you
will confine yourself to the education of my boys, and leave my other
affairs entirely to me--entirely! Do you understand?

WEINHOLD

[_Stands for a moment rigid and deathly pale, then bows, with a strained
smile. In a low voice._] Certainly, of course I understand. I have seen
this coming. It is my wish too.

    [_Goes out._

DREISSIGER

[_Rudely._] As soon as possible then, please. We require the room.

MRS. DREISSIGER

William, William!

DREISSIGER

Have you lost your senses, Rosa, that you're taking the part of a man who
defends a low, blackguardly libel like that song?

MRS. DREISSIGER

But, William, he didn't defend it.

DREISSIGER

Mr. Kittelhaus, did he defend it or did he not?

KITTELHAUS

His youth must be his excuse, Mr. Dreissiger.

MRS. KITTELHAUS

I can't understand it. The young man comes of such a good, respectable
family. His father held a public appointment for forty years, without a
breath on his reputation. His mother was overjoyed at his getting this
good situation here. And now ... he himself shows so little appreciation
of it.

PFEIFER

[_Suddenly opens the door leading from the hall and shouts in._] Mr.
Dreissiger, Mr. Dreissiger! they've got him! Will you come, please?
They've caught one of 'em.

DREISSIGER

[_Hastily._] Has some one gone for the police?

PFEIFER

The superintendent's on his way upstairs.

DREISSIGER

[_At the door._] Glad to see you, sir. We want you here.

    [_KITTELHAUS makes signs to the ladies that it will be better for
    them to retire. He, his wife, and MRS. DREISSIGER disappear into the
    drawing-room._

DREISSIGER

[_Exasperated, to the POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, who has now entered._] I
have at last had one of the ringleaders seized by my dyers. I could stand
it no longer--their insolence was beyond all bounds--quite unbearable. I
have visitors in my house, and these blackguards dare to.... They insult
my wife whenever she shows herself; my boys' lives are not safe. My
visitors run the risk of being jostled and cuffed. Is it possible that in
a well-ordered community incessant public insult offered to unoffending
people like myself and my family should pass unpunished? If so ... then
... then I must confess that I have other ideas of law and order.

SUPERINTENDENT

[_A man of fifty, middle height, corpulent, full-blooded. He wears
cavalry uniform with a long sword and spurs._] No, no, Mr. Dreissiger ...
certainly not! I am entirely at your disposal. Make your mind easy on the
subject. Dispose of me as you will. What you have done is quite right. I
am delighted that you have had one of the ringleaders arrested. I am very
glad indeed that a day of reckoning has come. There are a few disturbers
of the peace here whom I have long had my eye on.

DREISSIGER

Yes, one or two raw lads, lazy vagabonds, that shirk every kind of work,
and lead a life of low dissipation, hanging about the public-houses until
they've sent their last half-penny down their throats. But I'm determined
to put a stop to the trade of these professional blackguards once and for
all. It's in the public interest to do so, not only my private interest.

SUPERINTENDENT

Of course it is! Most undoubtedly, Mr. Dreissiger! No one can possibly
blame you. And everything that lies in my power....

DREISSIGER

The cat-o'-nine tails is what should be taken to the beggarly pack.

SUPERINTENDENT

You're right, quite right. We must institute an example.

    _KUTSCHE, the policeman, enters and salutes. The door is open, and
    the sound of heavy steps stumbling up the stair is heard._

KUTSCHE

I have to inform you, sir, that we have arrested a man.

DREISSIGER

[_To SUPERINTENDENT._] Do you wish to see the fellow?

SUPERINTENDENT

Certainly, most certainly. We must begin by having a look at him at close
quarters. Oblige me, Mr. Dreissiger, by not speaking to him at present.
I'll see to it that you get complete satisfaction, or my name's not
Heide.

DREISSIGER

That's not enough for me, though. He goes before the magistrates. My
mind's made up.

    _JAEGER is led in by five dyers, who have come straight from their
    work--faces, hands, and clothes stained with dye. The prisoner, his
    cap set jauntily on the side of his head, presents an appearance of
    impudent gaiety; he is excited by the brandy he has just drunk._

JAEGER

Hounds that you are!--Call yourselves working men!--Pretend to be
comrades! Before I would do such a thing as lay hands on a mate, I'd see
my hand rot off my arm!

    [_At a sign from the SUPERINTENDENT KUTSCHE orders the dyers to let
    go their victim. JAEGER straightens himself up, quite free and easy.
    Both doors are guarded._

SUPERINTENDENT

[_Shouts to JAEGER._] Off with your cap, lout! [_JAEGER takes it off, but
very slowly, still with an impudent grin on his face._] What's your name?

JAEGER

What's yours? I'm not your swineherd.

    [_Great excitement is produced among the audience by this reply._

DREISSIGER

This is too much of a good thing.

SUPERINTENDENT

[_Changes colour, is on the point of breaking out furiously, but controls
his rage._] We'll see about this afterwards.--Once more, what's your
name? [_Receiving no answer, furiously._] If you don't answer at once,
fellow, I'll have you flogged on the spot.

JAEGER

[_Perfectly cheerful, not showing by so much as the twitch of an eyelid
that he has heard the SUPERINTENDENT'S angry words, calls over the heads
of those around him to a pretty servant girl, who has brought in the
coffee and is standing open-mouthed with astonishment at the unexpected
sight._] Hillo, Emmy, do you belong to this company now? The sooner you
find your way out of it, then, the better. A wind may begin to blow here,
an' blow everything away overnight.

    [_The girl stares at JAEGER, and as soon as she comprehends that it
    is to her he is speaking, blushes with shame, covers her eyes with
    her hands, and rushes out, leaving the coffee things in confusion on
    the table. Renewed excitement among those present._

SUPERINTENDENT

[_Half beside himself, to DREISSIGER._] Never in all my long service ...
a case of such shameless effrontery.... [_JAEGER spits on the floor._

DREISSIGER

You're not in a stable, fellow! Do you understand?

SUPERINTENDENT

My patience is at an end now. For the last time: What's your name?

    _KITTELHAUS who has been peering out at the partly opened
    drawing-room door, listening to what has been going on, can no longer
    refrain from coming forward to interfere. He is trembling with
    excitement._

KITTELHAUS

His name is Jaeger, sir. Moritz ... is it not? Moritz Jaeger. [_To
JAEGER._] And, Jaeger, you know me.

JAEGER

[_Seriously._] You are Pastor Kittelhaus.

KITTELHAUS

Yes, I am your pastor, Jaeger! It was I who received you, a babe in
swaddling clothes, into the Church of Christ. From my hands you took for
the first time the body of the Lord. Do you remember that, and how I
toiled and strove to bring God's Word home to your heart? Is this your
gratitude?

JAEGER

[_Like a scolded schoolboy. In a surly voice._] I paid my half-crown like
the rest.

KITTELHAUS

Money, money.... Do you imagine that the miserable little bit of
money.... Such utter nonsense! I'd much rather you kept your money. Be a
good man, be a Christian! Think of what you promised. Keep God's law.
Money, money...!

JAEGER

I'm a Quaker now, sir. I don't believe in nothing.

KITTELHAUS

Quaker! What are you talking about? Try to behave yourself, and don't use
words you don't understand. Quaker, indeed! They are good Christian
people, and not heathens like you.

SUPERINTENDENT

Mr. Kittelhaus, I must ask you.... [_He comes between the Pastor and
JAEGER._] Kutsche! tie his hands!

    [_Wild yelling outside:_ "Jaeger. Jaeger! come out!"

DREISSIGER

[_Like the others, slightly startled, goes instinctively to the window._]
What's the meaning of this next?

SUPERINTENDENT

Oh, I understand well enough. It means that they want to have the
blackguard out among them again. But we're not going to oblige them.
Kutsche, you have your orders. He goes to the lock-up.

KUTSCHE

[_With the rope in his hand, hesitating._] By your leave, sir, but it'll
not be an easy job. There's a confounded big crowd out there--a pack of
raging devils. They've got Becker with them, and the smith....

KITTELHAUS

Allow me one more word!--So as not to rouse still worse feeling, would it
not be better if we tried to arrange things peaceably? Perhaps Jaeger
will give his word to go with us quietly, or....

SUPERINTENDENT

Quite impossible! Think of my responsibility. I couldn't allow such a
thing. Come, Kutsche! lose no more time.

JAEGER

[_Putting his hands together, and holding them, out._] Tight, tight, as
tight as ever you can! It's not for long.

    [_KUTSCHE, assisted by the workmen, ties his hands._

SUPERINTENDENT

Now off with you, march! [_To DREISSIGER._] If you feel anxious, let six
of the weavers go with them. They can walk on each side of him, I'll ride
in front, and Kutsche will bring up the rear. Whoever blocks the way will
be cut down.

    [_Cries from below:_ "Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo-oo! Bow, wow, wow!"

SUPERINTENDENT

[_With a threatening gesture in the direction of the window._] You
rascals, I'll cock-a-doodle-doo and bow-wow you! Forward! March!

    [_He marches out first, with drawn sword; the others, with JAEGER,
    follow._

JAEGER

[_Shouts as he goes._] An' Mrs. Dreissiger there may play the lady as
proud as she likes, but for all that she's no better than us. Many a
hundred times she's served my father with a halfpenny-worth of schnapps.
Left wheel--march!

    [_Exit laughing._

DREISSIGER

[_ After a pause, with apparent calmness._] Well, Mr. Kittelhaus, shall
we have our game now? I think there will be no further Interruption. [_He
lights a cigar, giving short laughs as he does so; when it is lighted,
bursts into a regular fit of laughing._] I'm beginning now to think the
whole thing very funny. That fellow! [_Still laughing nervously._] It
really is too comical: first came the dispute at dinner with
Weinhold--five minutes after that he takes leave--off to the other end of
the world; then this affair crops up--and now we'll proceed with our
whist.

KITTELHAUS

Yes, but ... [_Roaring is heard outside._] Yes, but ... that's a terrible
uproar they're making outside.

DREISSIGER

All we have to do is to go into the other room; it won't disturb us in
the least there.

KITTELHAUS

[_Shaking his head._] I wish I knew what has come over these people. In
so far I must agree with Mr. Weinhold, or at least till quite lately I
was of his opinion, that the weavers were a patient, humble, easily-led
class. Was it not your idea of them, too, Mr. Dreissiger?

DREISSIGER

Most certainly that is what they used to be--patient, easily managed,
well-behaved and orderly people. They were that as long as these
so-called humanitarians let them alone. But for ever so long now they've
had the awful misery of their condition held up to them. Think of all the
societies and associations for the alleviation of the distress among the
weavers. At last the weaver believes in it himself, and his head's
turned. Some of them had better come and turn it back again, for now he's
fairly set a-going there's no end to his complaining. This doesn't please
him, and that doesn't please him. He must have everything of the best.

    [_A loud roar of_ "Hurrah!" _is heard from, the crowd._

KITTELHAUS

So that with all their humanitarianism they have only succeeded in almost
literally turning lambs over night into wolves.

DREISSIGER

I won't say that, sir. When you take time to think of the matter coolly,
it's possible that some good may come of it yet. Such occurrences as this
will not pass unnoticed by those in authority, and may lead them to see
that things can't be allowed to go on as they are doing--that means must
be taken to prevent the utter ruin of our home industries.

KITTELHAUS

Possibly. But what is the cause, then, of this terrible falling off of
trade?

DREISSIGER

Our best markets have been closed to us by the heavy import duties
foreign countries have laid on our goods. At home the competition is a
struggle of life and death, for we have no protection, none whatever.

PFEIFER

[_Staggers in, pale and breathless._] Mr. Dreissiger, Mr. Dreissiger!

DREISSIGER

[_In the act of walking into the drawing-room, turns round, annoyed._]
Well, Pfeifer, what now?

PFEIFER

Oh, sir! Oh, sir!... It's worse than ever!

DREISSIGER

What are they up to next?

KITTELHAUS

You're really alarming us--what is it?

PFEIFER

[_Still confused._] I never saw the like. Good Lord--The superintendent
himself ... they'll catch it for this yet.

DREISSIGER

What's the matter with you, in the devil's name? Is any one's neck
broken?

PFEIFER

[_Almost crying with fear, screams._] They've set Moritz Jaeger
free--they've thrashed the superintendent and driven him away--they've
thrashed the policeman and sent him off too--without his helmet ... his
sword broken ... Oh dear, oh dear!

DREISSIGER

I think you've gone crazy, Pfeifer.

KITTELHAUS

This is actual riot.

PFEIFER

[_Sitting on a chair, his whole body trembling._] It's turning serious,
Mr. Dreissiger! Mr. Dreissiger, it's serious now!

DREISSIGER

Well, if that's all the police ...

PFEIFER

Mr. Dreissiger, it's serious now!

DREISSIGER

Damn it all, Pfeifer, will you hold your tongue?

MRS. DREISSIGER

[_Coming out of the drawing-room with MRS. KITTELHAUS._] This is really
too bad, William. Our whole pleasant evening's being spoiled. Here's Mrs.
Kittelhaus saying that she'd better go home.

KITTELHAUS

You mustn't take it amiss, dear Mrs. Dreissiger, but perhaps, under the
circumstances, it _would_ be better ...

MRS. DREISSIGER

But, William, why in the world don't you go out and put a stop to it?

DREISSIGER

You go and see if you can do it. Try! Go and speak to them! [_Standing in
front of the pastor, abruptly._] Am I such a tyrant? Am I a cruel master?

    _Enter JOHN the coachman._

JOHN

If you please, m'm, I've put to the horses. Mr. Weinhold's put Georgie
and Charlie into the carriage. If it comes to the worst, we're ready to
be off.

MRS. DREISSIGER

If what comes to the worst?

JOHN

I'm sure I don't know, m'm. But I'm thinkin' this way: The crowd's
gettin' bigger and bigger, an' they've sent the superintendent an' the
p'liceman to the right-about.

PFEIFER

It's gettin' serious now, Mr. Dreissiger! It's serious!

MRS. DREISSIGER

[_With increasing alarm._] What's going to happen?--What do the people
want?--They're never going to attack us, John?

JOHN

There's some rascally hounds among 'em, ma'am.

PFEIFER

It's serious now! serious!

DREISSIGER

Hold your tongue, fool!--Are the doors barred?

KITTELHAUS

I ask you as a favour, Mr. Dreissiger ... as a favour ... I am determined
to ... I ask you as a favour ... [_To JOHN._] What demands are the people
making?

JOHN

[_Awkwardly._] It's higher wages they're after, the blackguards.

KITTELHAUS

Good, good!--I shall go out and do my duty. I shall speak seriously to
these people.

JOHN

Oh sir, please sir, don't do any such thing. Words is quite useless.

KITTELHAUS

One little favour, Mr. Dreissiger. May I ask you to post men behind the
door, and to have it closed at once after me?

MRS. KITTELHAUS

O Joseph, Joseph! you're not really going out?

KITTELHAUS

I am. Indeed I am. I know what I'm doing. Don't be afraid. God will
protect me.

    [_MRS. KITTELHAUS presses his hand, draws back, and wipes tears from
    her eyes._

KITTELHAUS

[_While the dull murmur of a great, excited crowd is heard
uninterruptedly outside._] I'll go ... I'll go out as if I were simply on
my way home. I shall see if my sacred office ... if the people have not
sufficient respect for me left to ... I shall try ... [_He takes his hat
and stick._] Forward, then, in God's name!

    [_Goes out accompanied by DREISSIGER, PFEIFER and JOHN._

MRS. KITTELHAUS

Oh, dear Mrs. Dreissiger! [_She bursts into tears and embraces her._] I
do trust nothing will happen to him.

MRS. DREISSIGER

[_Absently._] I don't know how it is, Mrs. Kittelhaus, but I ... I can't
tell you how I feel. I didn't think such a thing was possible. It's ...
it's as if it was a sin to be rich. If I had been told about all this
beforehand, Mrs. Kittelhaus, I don't know but what I would rather have
been left in my own humble position.

MRS. KITTELHAUS

There are troubles and disappointments in every condition of life, Mrs.
Dreissiger.

MRS. DREISSIGER

True, true, I can well believe that. And suppose we have more than other
people ... goodness me! we didn't steal it. It's been honestly got, every
penny of it. It's not possible that the people can be goin' to attack us!
If trade's bad, that's not William's fault, is it?

    [_A tumult of roaring is heard outside. While the two women stand
    gazing at each other, pale and startled, DREISSIGER rushes in._

DREISSIGER

Quick, Rosa--put on something, and get into the carriage. I'll be after
you this moment.

    [_He rushes to the strong-box, and takes out papers and various
    articles of value._

    _Enter JOHN._

JOHN

We're ready to start. But come quickly, before they gets round to the
back door.

MRS. DREISSIGER

[_In a transport of fear, throwing her arms around JOHN'S neck._] John,
John, dear, good John! Save us, John. Save my boys! Oh, what is to become
of us?

DREISSIGER

Rosa, try to keep your head. Let John go.

JOHN

Yes, yes, ma'am! Don't you be frightened. Our good horses'll soon leave
them all behind; an' whoever doesn't get out of the way'll be driven
over.

MRS. KITTELHAUS

[_In helpless anxiety._] But my husband ... my husband? But, Mr.
Dreissiger, my husband?

DREISSIGER

He's in safety now, Mrs. Kittelhaus. Don't alarm yourself; he's all
right.

MRS. KITTELHAUS

Something dreadful has happened to him. I know it. You needn't try to
keep it from me.

DREISSIGER

You mustn't take it to heart--they'll be sorry for it yet. I know exactly
whose fault it was. Such an unspeakable, shameful outrage will not go
unpunished. A community laying hands on its own pastor and maltreating
him--abominable! Mad dogs they are--raging brutes--and they'll be treated
as such. [_To his wife who still stands petrified._] Go, Rosa, go
quickly! [_Heavy blows at the lower door are heard._] Don't you hear?
They've gone stark mad! [_The clatter of window-panes being smashed on
the ground-floor is heard._] They've gone crazy. There's nothing for it
but to get away as fast as we can.

    [_Cries of_ "Pfeifer, come out!"--"We want Pfeifer!"--"Pfeifer, come
    out!" _are heard._

MRS. DREISSIGER

Pfeifer, Pfeifer, they want Pfeifer!

PFEIFER

[_Dashes in._] Mr. Dreissiger, there are people at the back gate already,
and the house door won't hold much longer. The smith's battering at it
like a maniac with a stable pail.

    [_The cry sounds louder and clearer_: "Pfeifer! Pfeifer! Pfeifer!
    come out!" _MRS. DREISSIGER rushes off as if pursued. MRS. KITTELHAUS
    follows. PFEIFER listens, and changes colour as he hears what the cry
    is. A perfect panic of fear seizes him; he weeps, entreats, whimpers,
    writhes, all at the same moment. He overwhelms DREISSIGER with
    childish caresses, strokes his cheeks and arms, kisses his hands, and
    at last, like a drowning man, throws his arms round him and prevents
    him moving._

PFEIFER

Dear, good, kind Mr. Dreissiger, don't leave me behind. I've always
served you faithfully. I've always treated the people well. I couldn't
give 'em more wages than the fixed rate. Don't leave me here--they'll do
for me! If they finds me, they'll kill me. O God! O God! My wife, my
children!

DREISSIGER

[_Making his way out, vainly endeavouring to free himself from PFEIFER'S
clutch._] Can't you let me go, fellow? It'll be all right; it'll be all
right.

    _For a few seconds the room is empty. Windows are shattered in the
    drawing-room. A loud crash resounds through the house, followed by a
    roaring_ "Hurrah!" _For an instant there is silence. Then gentle,
    cautious steps are heard on the stair, then timid, hushed
    ejaculations_: "To the left!"--"Up with you!"--"Hush!"--"Slow,
    slow!"--"Don't shove like that!"--"It's a wedding we're goin'
    to!"--"Stop that crowdin'!"--"You go first!"--"No, you go!"

    _Young weavers and weaver girls appear at the door leading from the
    hall, not daring to enter, but each trying to shove the other in. In
    the course of a few moments their timidity is overcome, and the poor,
    thin, ragged or patched figures, many of them sickly-looking,
    disperse themselves through DREISSIGER'S room and the drawing-room,
    first gazing timidly and curiously at everything, then beginning to
    touch things. Girls sit down on the sofas, whole groups admire
    themselves in the mirrors, men stand up on chairs, examine the
    pictures and take them down. There is a steady influx of
    miserable-looking creatures from the hall._

FIRST OLD WEAVER

[_Entering._] No, no, this is carryin' it too far. They've started
smashin' things downstairs. There's no sense nor reason in that. There'll
be a bad end to it. No man in his wits would do that. I'll keep clear of
such goings on.

    _JAEGER, BECKER, WITTIG carrying a wooden pail, BAUMERT, and a number
    of other old and young weavers, rush in as if in pursuit of
    something, shouting hoarsely._

JAEGER

Where has he gone?

BECKER

Where's the cruel brute?

BAUMERT

If we can eat grass he may eat sawdust.

WITTIG

We'll hang him when we catch him.

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

We'll take him by the legs and fling him out at the window, on to the
stones. He'll never get up again.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

[_Enters._] He's off!

ALL

Who?

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

Dreissiger.

BECKER

Pfeifer too?

VOICES

Let's get hold o' Pfeifer! Look for Pfeifer!

BAUMERT

Yes, yes! Pfeifer! Tell him there's a weaver here for him to starve.

    [_Laughter._

JAEGER

If we can't lay hands on that brute Dreissiger himself ... we'll make him
poor!

BAUMERT

As poor as a church mouse ... we'll see to that!

    [_All, bent on the work of destruction, rush towards the drawing-room
    door._

BECKER

[_Who is leading, turns round and stops the others._] Halt! Listen to me!
This is nothing but a beginnin'. When we're done here, we'll go straight
to Bielau, to Dittrich's, where the steam power-looms is. The whole
mischief's done by them factories.

OLD ANSORGE

[_Enters from hall. Takes a few steps, then stops and looks round,
scarcely believing his eyes; shakes his head, taps his forehead._] Who am
I? Weaver Anton Ansorge. Has he gone mad, Old Ansorge? My head's goin'
round like a humming-top, sure enough. What's he doin' here. He'll do
whatever he's a mind to. Where is Ansorge? [_He taps his forehead
repeatedly._] Something's wrong! I'm not answerable! I'm off my head! Off
with you, off with you, rioters that you are! Heads off, legs off, hands
off! If you takes my house, I takes your house. Forward, forward!

    [_Goes yelling into the drawing-room, followed by a yelling, laughing
    mob._


END OF THE FOURTH ACT



FIFTH ACT


    _Langen-Bielau,--OLD WEAVER HILSE'S workroom. On the left a small
    window, in front of which stands the loom. On the right a bed, with a
    table pushed close to it. Stove, with stove-bench, in the right-hand
    corner. Family worship is going on. HILSE, his old, blind, and almost
    deaf wife, his son GOTTLIEB, and LUISE, GOTTLIEB'S wife, are sitting
    at the table, on the bed and wooden stools. A winding-wheel and
    bobbins on the floor between table and loom. Old spinning, weaving,
    and winding implements are disposed of on the smoky rafters; hanks of
    yarn are hanging down. There is much useless lumber in the low narrow
    room. The door, which is in the back wall, and leads into the big
    outer passage, or entry-room of the house, stands open. Through
    another open door on the opposite side of the passage, a second, in
    most respects similar weaver's room is seen. The large passage, or
    entry-room of the house, is paved with stone, has damaged plaster,
    and a tumble-down wooden stair-case leading to the attics; a
    washing-tub on a stool is partly visible; linen of the most miserable
    description and poor household utensils lie about untidily. The light
    falls from the left into all three apartments._

    _OLD HILSE is a bearded man of strong build, but bent and wasted with
    age, toil, sickness, and hardship. He is an old soldier, and has lost
    an arm. His nose is sharp, his complexion ashen-grey, and he shakes;
    he is nothing but skin and bone, and has the deep-set, sore weaver's
    eyes._

OLD HILSE

[_Stands up, as do his son and daughter-in-law; prays._] O Lord, we know
not how to be thankful enough to Thee, for that Thou hast spared us this
night again in Thy goodness ... an' hast had pity on us ... an' hast
suffered us to take no harm. Thou art the All-merciful, an' we are poor,
sinful children of men--that bad that we are not worthy to be trampled
under Thy feet. Yet Thou art our loving Father, an' Thou will look upon
us an' accept us for the sake of Thy dear Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. "Jesus' blood and righteousness, Our covering is and glorious
dress." An' if we're sometimes too sore cast down under Thy
chastening--when the fire of Thy purification burns too ragin' hot--oh,
lay it not to our charge; forgive us our sin. Give us patience, heavenly
Father, that after all these sufferin's we may be made partakers of Thy
eternal blessedness. Amen.

MOTHER HILSE

[_Who has been bending forward, trying hard to hear._] What a beautiful
prayer you do say, father!

    [_LUISE goes off to the washtub, GOTTLIEB to the room on the other
    side of the passage._

OLD HILSE

Where's the little lass?

LUISE

She's gone to Peterswaldau, to Dreissiger's. She finished all she had to
wind last night.

OLD HILSE

[_Speaking very loud._] You'd like the wheel now, mother, eh?

MOTHER HILSE

Yes, father, I'm quite ready.

OLD HILSE

[_Setting it down before her._] I wish I could do the work for you.

MOTHER HILSE

An' what would be the good o' that, father? There would I be, sittin' not
knowin' what to do.

OLD HILSE

I'll give your fingers a wipe, then, so that they'll not grease the yarn.

    [_He wipes her hands with a rag._

LUISE

[_At her tub._] If there's grease on her hands, it's not from what she's
eaten.

OLD HILSE

If we've no butter, we can eat dry bread--when we've no bread, we can eat
potatoes--when there's no potatoes left, we can eat bran.

LUISE

[_Saucily._] An' when that's all eaten, we'll do as the Wenglers
did--we'll find out where the skinner's buried some stinking old horse,
an' we'll dig it up an' live for a week or two on rotten carrion--how
nice that'll be!

GOTTLIEB

[_From the other room._] There you are, lettin' that tongue of yours run
away with you again.

OLD HILSE

You should think twice, lass, before you talk that godless way. [_He goes
to his loom, calls._] Can you give me a hand, Gottlieb?--there's a few
threads to pull through.

LUISE

[_From her tub._] Gottlieb, you're wanted to help father.

    [_GOTTLIEB comes in, and he and his father set themselves to the
    troublesome task of "drawing and slaying," that is, pulling the
    strands of the warp through the "heddles" and "reed" of the loom.
    They have hardly begun to do this when HORNIG appears in the outer
    room._

HORNIG

[_At the door._] Good luck to your work!

HILSE AND HIS SON

Thank you, Hornig.

OLD HILSE

I say, Hornig, when do you take your sleep? You're on your rounds all
day, an' on watch all night.

HORNIG

Sleep's gone from me nowadays.

LUISE

Glad to see you, Hornig!

OLD HILSE

An' what's the news?

HORNIG

It's queer news this mornin'. The weavers at Peterswaldau has taken the
law into their own hands, an' chased Dreissiger an' his whole family out
of the place.

LUISE

[_Perceptibly agitated._] Hornig's at his lies again.

HORNIG

No, missus, not this time, not to-day.--I've some beautiful pinafores in
my cart,--No, it's God's truth I'm tellin' you. They've sent him to the
right-about. He came down to Reichenbach last night, but, Lord love you!
they daren't take him in there, for fear of the weavers--off he had to go
again, all the way to Schweidnitz.

OLD HILSE

[_Has been carefully lifting threads of the web and approaching them to
the holes, through which, from the other side, GOTTLIEB pushes a wire
hook, with which he catches them and draws them through._] It's about
time you were stoppin' now, Hornig!

HORNIG

It's as sure as I'm a livin' man. Every child in the place'll soon tell
you the same story.

OLD HILSE

Either your wits are a-wool-gatherin' or mine are.

HORNIG

Not mine. What I'm tellin' you's as true as the Bible. I wouldn't believe
it myself if I hadn't stood there an' seen it with my own eyes--as I see
you now, Gottlieb. They've wrecked his house from the cellar to the roof.
The good china came flyin' out at the garret windows, rattlin' down the
roof. God only knows how many pieces of fustian are lying soakin' in the
river! The water can't get away for them--it's running over the banks,
the colour of washin'-blue with all the indigo they've poured out at the
windows. Clouds of sky-blue dust was flyin' along. Oh, it's a terrible
destruction they've worked! And it's not only the house ... it's the
dye-works too ... an' the stores! They've broken the stair rails, they've
torn up the fine flooring--smashed the lookin'-glasses--cut an' hacked
an' torn an' smashed the sofas an' the chairs.--It's awful--it's worse
than war.

OLD HILSE

An' you would have me believe that my fellow weavers did all that?

    [_He shakes his head incredulously._

    [_Other tenants of the house have collected at the door and are
    listening eagerly._

HORNIG

Who else, I'd like to know? I could put names to every one of 'em. It was
me took the sheriff through the house, an' I spoke to a whole lot of 'em,
an' they answered me back--quite friendly like. They did their business
with little noise, but my word! they did it well. The sheriff spoke to
'em, and they answered him mannerly, as they always do. But there wasn't
no stoppin' of them. They hacked on at the beautiful furniture as if they
was workin' for wages.

OLD HILSE

_You_ took the sheriff through the house?

HORNIG

An' what would I be frightened of? Every one knows me. I'm always turnin'
up, like a bad penny. But no one has anything agin' me. They're all glad
to see me. Yes, I went the rounds with him, as sure as my name's Hornig.
An' you may believe me or not as you like, but my heart's sore yet from
the sight--an' I could see by the sheriff's face that he felt queer
enough too. For why? Not a livin' word did we hear--they was doin' their
work and holdin' their tongues. It was a solemn an' a woeful sight to see
the poor starvin' creatures for once in a way takin' their revenge.

LUISE

[_With irrepressible excitement, trembling, wiping her eyes with her
apron._] An' right they are! It's only what should be!

VOICES AMONG THE CROWD AT THE DOOR

"There's some of the same sort here."--"There's one no farther away than
across the river."--"He's got four horses in his stable an' six
carriages, an' he starves his weavers to keep 'em."

OLD HILSE

[_Still incredulous._] What was it set them off?

HORNIG

Who knows? who knows? One says this, another says that.

OLD HILSE

What do they say?

HORNIG

The story as most of 'em tells is that it began with Dreissiger sayin'
that if the weavers was hungry they might eat grass. But I don't rightly
know.

    [_Excitement at the door, as one person repeats this to the other,
    with signs of indignation._

OLD HILSE

Well now, Hornig--if you was to say to me: Father Hilse, says you, you'll
die to-morrow, I would answer back: That may be--an' why not? You might
even go to the length of saying: You'll have a visit to-morrow from the
King of Prussia. But to tell me that weavers, men like me an' my son,
have done such things as that--never! I'll never in this world believe
it.

MIELCHEN

[_A pretty girl of seven, with long, loose flaxen hair, carrying a basket
on her arm, comes running in, holding out a silver spoon to her mother._]
Mammy, mammy! look what I've got! An' you're to buy me a new frock with
it.

LUISE

What d'you come tearing in like that for, girl? [_With increased
excitement and curiosity._] An' what's that you've got hold of now?
You've been runnin' yourself out o' breath, an' there--if the bobbins
aren't in her basket yet? What's all this about?

OLD HILSE

Mielchen, where did that spoon come from?

LUISE

She found it, maybe.

HORNIG

It's worth its seven or eight shillin's at least.

OLD HILSE

[_In distressed excitement._] Off with you, lass--out of the house this
moment--unless you want a lickin'! Take that spoon back where you got it
from. Out you go! Do you want to make thieves of us all, eh? I'll soon
drive that out o' you.

    [_He looks round for something to beat her with._

MIELCHEN

[_Clinging to her mother's skirts, crying._] No, grandfather, no! don't
lick me! We--we _did_ find it. All the other bob--bobbin ... girls has
... has some too.

LUISE

[_Half frightened, half excited._] I was right, you see. She found it.
Where did you find it, Mielchen?

MIELCHEN

[_Sobbing._] At--at Peterswal--dau. We--we found them in front of--in
front of Drei--Dreissiger's house.

OLD HILSE

This is worse an' worse! Get off with you this moment, unless you want me
to help you.

MOTHER HILSE

What's all the to-do about?

HORNIG

I'll tell you what, father Hilse. The best way'll be for Gottlieb to put
on his coat an' take the spoon to the police-office.

OLD HILSE

Gottlieb, put on year coat.

GOTTLIEB

[_Pulling it on, eagerly._] Yes, an' I'll go right in to the office an'
say they're not to blame us for it, for how c'n a child like that
understand about it? an' I brought the spoon back at once. Stop your
crying now, Mielchen!

    [_The crying child is taken into the opposite room by her mother, who
    shuts her in and comes back._

HORNIG

I believe it's worth as much as nine shillin's.

GOTTLIEB

Give us a cloth to wrap it in, Luise, so that it'll take no harm. To
think of the thing bein' worth all that money!

    [_Tears come into his eyes while he is wrapping up the spoon._

LUISE

If it was only ours, we could live on it for many a day.

OLD HILSE

Hurry up, now! Look sharp! As quick as ever you can. A fine state o'
matters, this! Get that devil's spoon out o' the house.

    [_GOTTLIEB goes off with the spoon._

HORNIG

I must be off now too.

    [_He goes, is seen talking to the people in the entry-room before he
    leaves the house._

SURGEON SCHMIDT

[_A jerky little ball of a man, with a red, knowing face, comes into the
entry-room._] Good-morning, all! These are fine goings on! Take care!
take care! [_Threatening with his finger._] You're a sly lot--that's what
you are. [_At HILSE'S door without coming in._] Morning, father Hilse.
[_To a woman in the outer room._] And how are the pains, mother? Better,
eh? Well, well. And how's all with you, father Hilse? [_Enters._] Why the
deuce! what's the matter with mother?

LUISE

It's the eye veins, sir--they've dried up, so as she can't see at all
now.

SURGEON SCHMIDT

That's from the dust and weaving by candlelight. Will you tell me what it
means that all Peterswaldau's on the way here? I set off on my rounds
this morning as usual, thinking no harm; but it wasn't long till I had my
eyes opened. Strange doings these! What in the devil's name has taken
possession of them, Hilse? They're like a pack of raging wolves.
Riot--why, it's revolution! they're getting refractory--plundering and
laying waste right and left ... Mielchen! where's Mielchen? [_MIELCHEN,
her face red with crying, is pushed in by her mother._] Here, Mielchen,
put your hand into my coat pocket. [_MIELCHEN does so._] The ginger-bread
nuts are for you. Not all at once, though, you baggage! And a song first!
The fox jumped up on a ... come, now ... The fox jumped up ... on a
moonlight ... Mind, I've heard what you did. You called the sparrows on
the churchyard hedge a nasty name, and they're gone and told the pastor.
Did any one ever hear the like? Fifteen hundred of them agog--men, women,
and children. [_Distant bells are heard._] That's at Reichenbach--
alarm-bells! Fifteen hundred people! Uncomfortably like the world coming
to an end!

OLD HILSE

An' is it true that they're on their way to Bielau?

SURGEON SCHMIDT

That's just what I'm telling you, I've driven through the middle of the
whole crowd. What I'd have liked to do would have been to get down and
give each of them a pill there and then. They were following on each
other's heels like misery itself, and their singing was more than enough
to turn a man's stomach. I was nearly sick, and Frederick was shaking on
the box like an old woman. We had to take a stiff glass at the first
opportunity. I wouldn't be a manufacturer, not though I could drive my
carriage and pair. [_Distant singing._] Listen to that! It's for all the
world as if they were beating at some broken old boiler. We'll have them
here in five minutes, friends. Good-bye! Don't you be foolish. The troops
will be upon them in no time. Keep your wits about you. The Peterswaldau
people have lost theirs. [_Bells ring close at hand._] Good gracious!
There are our bells ringing too! Every one's going mad.

    [_He goes upstairs._

GOTTLIEB

[_Comes back. In the entry-room, out of breath._] I've seen 'em, I've
seen 'em! [_To a woman._] They're here, auntie, they're here! [_At the
door._] They're here, father, they're here! They've got bean-poles, an'
ox-goads, an' axes. They're standin' outside the upper Dittrich's kickin'
up an awful row. I think he's payin' 'em money. O Lord! whatever's goin'
to happen? What a crowd! Oh, you never saw such a crowd! Dash it all--if
once they makes a rush, our manufacturers'll be hard put to it.

OLD HILSE

What have you been runnin' like that for? You'll go racin' till you bring
on your old trouble, and then we'll have you on your back again,
strugglin' for breath.

GOTTLIEB

[_Almost joyously excited._] I had to run, or they would ha' caught me
an' kept me. They was all roarin' to me to join 'em. Father Baumert was
there too, and says he to me: You come an' get your sixpence with the
rest--you're a poor starvin' weaver too. An' I was to tell you, father,
from him, that you was to come an' help to pay out the manufacturers for
their grindin' of us down. [_Passionately._] Other times is comin', he
says. There's goin' to be a change of days for us weavers. An' we're all
to come an' help to bring it about. We're to have our half-pound o' meat
on Sundays, and now and again on a holiday sausage with our cabbage. Yes,
things is to be quite different, by what he tells me.

OLD HILSE

[_With repressed indignation._] An' that man calls hisself your
godfather! and he bids you take part in such works o' wickedness? Have
nothing to do with them, Gottlieb. They've let themselves be tempted by
Satan, an' it's his works they're doin'.

LUISE

[_No longer able to restrain her passionate excitement, vehemently._]
Yes, Gottlieb, get into the chimney corner, an' take a spoon in your
hand, an' a dish o' skim milk on your knee, an' pat on a petticoat an'
say your prayers, and then father'll be pleased with you. And _he_ sets
up to be a man!

    [_Laughter from the people in the entry-room._

OLD HILSE

[_Quivering with suppressed rage._] An' you set up to be a good wife,
'eh? You calls yourself a mother, an' let your evil tongue run away with
you like that? You think yourself fit to teach your girl, you that would
egg on your husband to crime an' wickedness?

LUISE

[_Has lost all control of herself._] You an' your piety an' religion--did
they serve to keep the life in my poor children? In rags an' dirt they
lay, all the four--it didn't as much as keep 'em dry. Yes! I sets up to
be a mother, that's what I do--an' if you'd like to know it, that's why
I'd send all the manufacturers to hell--because I'm a mother!--Not one of
the four could I keep in life! It was cryin' more than breathin' with me
from the time each poor little thing came into the world till death took
pity on it. The devil a bit you cared! You sat there prayin' and singin',
and let me run about till my feet bled, tryin' to get one little drop o'
skim milk. How many hundred nights has I lain an' racked my head to think
what I could do to cheat the churchyard of my little one? What harm has a
baby like that done that it must come to such a miserable end--eh? An'
over there at Dittrich's they're bathed in wine an' washed in milk. No!
you may talk as you like, but if they begins here, ten horses won't hold
me back. An' what's more--if there's a rush on Dittrich's, you'll see me
in the forefront of it--an' pity the man as tries to prevent me--I've
stood it long enough, so now you know it.

OLD HILSE

You're a lost soul--there's no help for you.

LUISE

[_Frenzied._] It's you that there's no help for! Tatter-breeched
scarecrows--that's what you are--an' not men at all. Whey-faced
gutter-scrapers that take to your heels at the sound of a child's rattle.
Fellows that says "thank you" to the man as gives you a hidin'. They've
not left that much blood in you as that you can turn red in the face. You
should have the whip taken to you, an' a little pluck flogged into your
rotten bones.

    [_She goes out quickly._

    [_Embarrassed pause._]

MOTHER HILSE

What's the matter with Liesl, father?

OLD HILSE

Nothin', mother! What should be the matter with her?

MOTHER HILSE

Father, is it only me that's thinkin' it, or is the bells ringin'?

OLD HILSE

It'll be a funeral, mother.

MOTHER HILSE

An' I've got to sit waitin' here yet. Why must I be so long a-dyin',
father? [_Pause._]

OLD HILSE

[_Leaves his work, holds himself up straight; solemnly._] Gottlieb!--you
heard all your wife said to us. Look here, Gottlieb! [_He bares his
breast._] Here they cut out a bullet as big as a thimble. The King knows
where I lost my arm. It wasn't the mice as ate it. [_He walks up and
down._] Before that wife of yours was ever thought of, I had spilled my
blood by the quart for King an' country. So let her call what names she
likes--an' welcome! It does me no harm--Frightened? Me frightened? What
would I be frightened of, will you tell me that? Of the few soldiers,
maybe, that'll be comin' after the rioters? Good gracious me! That would
be a lot to be frightened at! No, no, lad; I may be a bit stiff in the
back, but there's some strength left in the old bones; I've got the stuff
in me yet to make a stand against a few rubbishin' bay'nets.--An' if it
came to the worst! Willin', willin' would I be to say good-bye to this
weary world. Death'd be welcome--welcomer to me to-day than to-morrow.
For what is it we leave behind? That old bundle of aches an' pains we
call our body, the care an' the oppression we call by the name o' life.
We may be glad to get away from it,--But there's something to come after,
Gottlieb!--an' if we've done ourselves out o' that too--why, then it's
all over with us!

GOTTLIEB

Who knows what's to come after? Nobody's seen it.

OLD HILSE

Gottlieb! don't you be throwin' doubts on the one comfort us poor people
have. Why has I sat here an' worked my treadle like a slave this forty
year an' more?--sat still an' looked on at him over yonder livin' in
pride an' wastefulness--why? Because I have a better hope, something as
supports me in all my troubles. [_Points out at the window._] You have
your good things in this world--I'll have mine in the next. That's been
my thought. An' I'm that certain of it--I'd let myself be torn to pieces.
Have we not His promise? There's a Day of Judgment comin'; but it's not
us as are the judges--no: Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.

    [_A cry of_ "Weavers, come out!" _is heard outside the window._

OLD HILSE

Do what you will for me. [_He seats himself at his loom._] I stay here.

GOTTLIEB

[_After a short struggle._] I'm going to work too--come what may.

    [_Goes out._

    [_The Weavers' Song is heard, sung by hundreds of voices quite close
    at hand; it sounds like a dull, monotonous wail._

INMATES OF THE HOUSE

[_In the entry-room._] "Oh, mercy on us! there they come swarmin' like
ants!"--"Where can all these weavers be from?"--"Don't shove like that, I
want to see too."--"Look at that great maypole of a woman leadin' on in
front!"--"Gracious! they're comin' thicker an' thicker."

HORNIG

[_Comes into the entry-room from outside._] There's a theayter play for
you now! That's what you don't see every day. But you should go up to the
other Dittrich's an' look what they've done there. It's been no half
work. He's got no house now, nor no factory, nor no wine-cellar, nor
nothin'. They're drinkin' out o' the bottles--not so much as takin' the
time to get out the corks. One, two, three, an' off with the neck, an' no
matter whether they cuts their mouths or not. There's some of 'em runnin'
about bleedin' like stuck pigs.--Now they're goin' to do for Dittrich
here.

    [_The singing has stopped._

INMATES OF THE HOUSE

There's nothin' so very wicked like about them.

HORNIG

You wait a bit! you'll soon see! All they're doin' just now is makin' up
their minds where they'll begin. Look, they're inspectin' the palace from
every side. Do you see that little stout man there, him with the stable
pail? That's the smith from Peterswaldau--an' a dangerous little chap he
is. He batters in the thickest doors as if they were made o' pie-crust.
If a manufacturer was to fall into his hands it would be all over with
him!

HOUSE INMATES

"That was a crack!"--"There went a stone through the window!"--"There's
old Dittrich, shakin' with fright."--"He's hangin' out a
board."--"Hangin' out a board?"--"What's written on it?"--"Can't you
read?"--"It'd be a bad job for me if I couldn't read!"--"Well, read it,
then!"--"'You--shall have--full--satis-fac-tion! You--you shall have full
satisfaction.'"

HORNIG

He might ha' spared hisself the trouble--_that_ won't help him. It's
something else they've set their minds on here. It's the factories.
They're goin' to smash up the power-looms. For it's them that is ruinin'
the hand-loom weaver. Even a blind man might see that. No! the good folks
knows what they're after, an' no sheriff an' no p'lice superintendent'll
bring them to reason--much less a bit of a board. Him as has seen 'em at
work already knows what's comin'.

HOUSE INMATES

"Did any one ever see such a crowd!"--"What can _these_ be
wantin'?"--[_Hastily._] "They're crossin' the bridge!"--[_Anxiously._]
"They're never comin' over on this side, are they?"--[_In excitement and
terror._] "It's to us they're comin'! They're comin' to us! They're
comin' to fetch the weavers out o' their houses!"

    [_General flight. The entry-room is empty. A crowd of dirty, dusty
    rioters rush in, their faces scarlet with brandy, and excitement;
    tattered, untidy-looking, as if they had been up all night. With the
    shout:_ "Weavers, come out!" _they disperse themselves through the
    house. BECKER and several other young weavers, armed with cudgels and
    poles, come into OLD HILSE'S room. When they see the old man at his
    loom they start, and cool down a little._

BECKER

Come, father Hilse, stop that. Leave your work to them as wants to work.
There's no need now for you to be doin' yourself harm. You'll be well
taken care of.

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

You'll never need to go hungry to bed again.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

The weaver's goin' to have a roof over his head an' a shirt on his back
once more.

OLD HILSE

An' what's the devil sendin' you to do now, with your poles an' axes?

BECKER

These are what we're goin' to break on Dittrich's back.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

We'll heat 'em red hot an' stick 'em down the manufacturers' throats, so
as they'll feel for once what burnin' hunger tastes like.

THIRD YOUNG WEAVER

Come along, father Hilse! We'll give no quarter.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

No one had mercy on us--neither God nor man. Now we're standin' up for
our rights ourselves.

    _OLD BAUMERT enters, somewhat shaky on the legs, a newly killed cock
    under his arm._

OLD BAUMERT

[_Stretching out his arms._] My brothers--we're all brothers! Come to my
arms, brothers!

    [_Laughter._

OLD HILSE

And that's the state you're in, Willem?

OLD BAUMERT

Gustav, is it you? My poor starvin' friend. Come to my arms, Gustav!

OLD HILSE

[_Mutters._] Let me alone.

OLD BAUMERT

I'll tell you what, Gustav. It's nothin' but luck that's wanted. You look
at me. What do I look like? Luck's what's wanted. Don't I look like a
lord? [_Pats his stomach._] Guess what's in there! There's food fit for a
prince in that belly. When luck's with him a man gets roast hare to eat
an' champagne wine to drink.--I'll tell you all something: We've made a
big mistake--we must help ourselves.

ALL

[_Speaking at once._] We must help ourselves, hurrah!

OLD BAUMERT

As soon as we gets the first good bite inside us we're different men.
Damn it all! but you feels the power comin' into you till you're like an
ox, an' that wild with strength that you hit out right an' left without
as much as takin' time to look. Dash it, but it's grand!

JAEGER

[_At the door, armed with an old cavalry sword._] We've made one or two
first-rate attacks.

BECKER

We knows how to set about it now. One, two, three, an' we're inside the
house. Then, at it like lightnin'--bang, crack, shiver! till the sparks
are flyin' as if it was a smithy.

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

It wouldn't be half bad to light a bit o' fire.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

Let's march to Reichenbach an' burn the rich folks' houses over their
heads!

JAEGER

That would be nothin' but butterin' their bread, Think of all the
insurance money they'd get.

    [_Laughter._

BECKER

No, from here we'll go to Freiburg, to Tromtra's.

JAEGER

What would you say to givin' all them as holds Government appointments a
lesson? I've read somewhere as how all our troubles come from them
birocrats, as they calls them.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

Before long we'll go to Breslau, for more an' more'll be joinin' us.

OLD BAUMERT

[_To HILSE._] Won't you take a drop, Gustav?

OLD HILSE

I never touches it.

OLD BAUMERT

That was in the old world; we're in a new world to-day, Gustav.

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

Christmas comes but once a year.

    [_Laughter._

OLD HILSE

[_Impatiently._] What is it you want in my house, you limbs of Satan?

OLD BAUMERT

[_A little intimidated, coaxingly._] I was bringin' you a chicken,
Gustav. I thought it would make a drop o' soup for mother.

OLD HILSE

[_Embarrassed, almost friendly._] Well, you can tell mother yourself.

MOTHER HILSE

[_Who has been making efforts to hear, her hand at her ear, motions them
off._] Let me alone. I don't want no chicken soup.

OLD HILSE

That's right, mother. An' I want none, an' least of all that sort. An'
let me say this much to you, Baumert: The devil stands on his head for
joy when he hears the old ones jabberin' and talkin' as if they was
infants. An' to you all I say--to every one of you: Me and you, we've got
nothing to do with each other. It's not with my will that you're here. In
law an' justice you've no right to be in my house.

A VOICE

Him that's not with us is against us.

JAEGER

[_Roughly and threateningly._] You're on the wrong track, old chap, I'd
have you remember that we're not thieves.

A VOICE

We're hungry men, that's all.

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

We wants to _live_--that's all. An' so we've cut the rope we was hung up
with.

JAEGER

And we was in our right! [_Holding his fist in front of the old man's
face_.] Say another word, and I'll give you one between the eyes.

BECKER

Come, now, Jaeger, be quiet. Let the old man alone.--What we say to
ourselves, father Hilse, is this: Better dead than begin the old life
again.

OLD HILSE

Have I not lived that life for sixty years an' more?

BECKER

That doesn't help us--there's _got_ to be a change.

OLD HILSE

On the Judgment Day.

BECKER

What they'll not give us willingly we're goin' to take by force.

OLD HILSE

By force. [_Laughs._] You may as well go an' dig your graves at once.
They'll not be long showin' you where the force lies. Wait a bit, lad!

JAEGER

Is it the soldiers you're meanin'? We've been soldiers too. We'll soon do
for a company or two of 'em.

OLD HILSE

With your tongues, maybe. But supposin' you did--for two that you'd beat
off, ten'll come back.

VOICES

[_Call through the window._] The soldiers are comin! Look out!

    [_General, sudden silence. For a moment a faint sound of fifes and
    drums is heard; in the ensuing silence a short, involuntary
    exclamation:_ "The devil! I'm off!" _followed by general laughter._

BECKER

Who was that? Who speaks of runnin' away?

JAEGER

Which of you is it that's afraid of a few paltry helmets? You have me to
command you, and I've been in the trade. I knows their tricks.

OLD HILSE

An' what are you goin' to shoot with? Your sticks, eh?

FIRST YOUNG WEAVER

Never mind that old chap; he's wrong in the upper storey.

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

Yes, he's a bit off his head.

GOTTLIEB

[_Has made his way unnoticed among the rioters; catches hold of the
speaker._] Would you give your impudence to an old man like him?

SECOND YOUNG WEAVER

Let me alone. 'Twasn't anything bad I said.

OLD HILSE

[_Interfering._] Let him jaw, Gottlieb. What. would you be meddlin' with
him for? He'll soon see who it is that's been off his head to-day, him or
me.

BECKER

Are you comin', Gottlieb?

OLD HILSE

No, he's goin' to do no such thing.

LUISE

[_Comes into the entry-room, calls._] What are you puttin' off your time
with prayin' hypocrites like them for? Come quick to where you're wanted!
Quick! Father Baumert, run all you can! The major's speakin' to the crowd
from horseback. They're to go home. If you don't hurry up, it'll be all
over.

JAEGER

[_As he goes out._] That's a brave husband o' yours.

LUISE

Where is he? I've got no husband!

    [_Some of the people in the entry-room sing_:

  Once on a time a man so small,
      Heigh-ho, heigh!
  Set his heart on a wife so tall,
      Heigh diddle-di-dum-di!

WITTIG, THE SMITH

[_Comes downstairs, still carrying the stable pail; stops on his way
through the entry-room._] Come On! all of you that is not cowardly
scoundrels!--hurrah!

    [_He dashes out, followed by LUISE, JAEGER, and others, all shouting_
    "Hurrah!"

BECKER

Good-bye, then, father Hilse; well see each other again.

    [_Is going._

OLD HILSE

I doubt that. I've not five years to live, and that'll be the soonest
you'll get out.

BECKER

[_Stops, not understanding._] Out o' what, father Hilse?

OLD HILSE

Out o' prison--where else?

BECKER

[_Laughs wildly._] Do you think I'd mind that? There's bread to be had
there anyhow!

    [_Goes out._

OLD BAUMERT

[_Has been cowering on a low stool, painfully beating his brains; he now
gets up._] It's true, Gustav, as I've had a drop too much. But for all
that I knows what I'm about. You think one way in this here matter; I
think another. I say Becker's right: even if it ends in chains an'
ropes--we'll be better off in prison than at home. You're cared for
there, an' you don't need to starve. I wouldn't have joined 'em, Gustav,
if I could ha' let it be; but once in a lifetime a man's got to show what
he feels. [_Goes slowly towards the door._] Good-bye, Gustav. If anything
happens, mind you put in a word for me in your prayers.

    [_Goes out._

    [_The rioters are now all gone. The entry-room, gradually fills again
    with curious onlookers from the different rooms of the house. OLD
    HILSE knots at his web. GOTTLIEB has taken an axe from behind the
    stove and is unconsciously feeling its edge. He and the old man are
    silently agitated. The hum and roar of a great crowd penetrate into
    the room._

MOTHER HILSE

The very boards is shakin', father--what's goin' on? What's goin' to
happen to us?

    [_Pause._]

OLD HILSE

Gottlieb!

GOTTLIEB

What is it?

OLD HILSE

Let that axe alone.

GOTTLIEB

Who's to split the wood, then?

    [_He leans the axe against the stove._

    [_Pause._]

MOTHER HILSE

Gottlieb, you listen, to what father says to you.

    [_Some one sings outside the window:_

  Our little man does all that he can,
      Heigh-ho, heigh!
  At home he cleans the pots an' the pan,
      Heigh-diddle-di-dum-di!

    [_Passes on._

GOTTLIEB

[_Jumps up, shakes his clenched fist at the window._] Beast! Don't drive
me crazy!

    [_A volley of musketry is heard._

MOTHER HILSE

[_Starts and trembles._] Good Lord! Is that thunder again?

OLD HILSE

[_Instinctively folding his hands._] Oh, our Father in heaven! defend the
poor weavers, protect my poor brothers.

    [_A short pause ensues._

OLD HILSE

[_To himself, painfully agitated._] There's blood flowin' now.

GOTTLIEB

[_Had started up and grasped the axe when the shooting was heard; deathly
pale, almost beside himself with excitement._] An' am I to lie to heel
like a dog still?

A GIRL

[_Calls from the entry-room._] Father Hilse, father Hilse! get away from
the window. A bullet's just flown in at ours upstairs.

    [_Disappears._

MIELCHEN

[_Puts her head in at the window, laughing._] Gran'father, gran'father,
they've shot with their guns. Two or three's been knocked down, an' one
of 'em's turnin' round and round like a top, an' one's twistin' hisself
like a sparrow when its head's bein' pulled of. An' oh, if you saw all
the blood that came pourin'--!

    [_Disappears._

A WEAVER'S WIFE

Yes, there's two or three'll never get up again.

AN OLD WEAVER

[_In the entry-room._] Look out! They're goin' to make a rush on the
soldiers.

A SECOND WEAVER

[_Wildly._] Look, look, look at the women! skirts up, an' spittin' in the
soldiers' faces already!

A WEAVER'S WIFE

[_Calls in._] Gottlieb, look at your wife. She's more pluck in her than
you. She's jumpin' about in front o' the bay'nets as if she was dancin'
to music.

    [_Four men carry a wounded rioter through the entry-room. Silence,
    which is broken by some one saying in a distinct voice,_ "It's weaver
    Ulbrich." _Once more silence for a few seconds, when the same voice
    is heard again:_ "It's all over with him; he's got a bullet in his
    ear." _The men are heard climbing the wooden stair. Sudden shouting
    outside:_ "Hurrah, hurrah!"

VOICES IN THE ENTRY-ROOM

"Where did they get the stones from?"--"Yes, it's time you were
off!"--"From the new road."--"Ta-ta, soldiers!"--"It's rainin'
paving-stones."

    [_Shrieks of terror and loud roaring outside, taken up by those in
    the entry-room. There is a cry of fear, and the house door is shut
    with a bang._

VOICES IN THE ENTRY-ROOM

"They're loadin' again."--"They'll fire another volley this
minute."--"Father Hilse, get away from that window."

GOTTLIEB

[_Clutches the axe._] What! is we mad dogs? Is we to eat powder an' shot
now instead o' bread? [_Hesitating an instant to the old man._] Would you
have me sit here an' see my wife shot? Never! [_As he rushes out._] Look
out! I'm coming!

OLD HILSE

Gottlieb, Gottlieb!

MOTHER HILSE

Where's Gottlieb gone?

OLD HILSE

He's gone to the devil.

VOICES FROM THE ENTRY-ROOM

Go away from the window, father Hilse.

OLD HILSE

Not I! Not if you all goes crazy together! [_To MOTHER HILSE, with rapt
excitement._] My heavenly Father has placed me here. Isn't that so,
mother? Here we'll sit, an' do our bounden duty--ay, though the snow was
to go on fire.

    [_He begins to weave._

    [_Rattle of another volley. OLD HILSE, mortally wounded, starts to
    his feet and then falls forward over the loom. At the same moment
    loud shouting of_ "Hurrah!" _is heard. The people who till now have
    been standing in the entry-room dash out, joining in the cry. The old
    woman repeatedly asks:_ "Father, father, what's wrong with you?" _The
    continued shouting dies away gradually in the distance. MIELCHEN
    comes rushing in._

MIELCHEN

Gran'father, gran'father, they're drivin' the soldiers out o' the
village; they've got into Dittrich's house, an' they're doin' what they
did at Dreissiger's. Gran'father! [_The child grows frightened, notices
that something has happened, puts her finger in her mouth, and goes up
cautiously to the dead man._] Gran'father!

MOTHER HILSE

Come now, father, can't you say something? You're frightenin' me.


THE END



THE BEAVER COAT

A THIEVES' COMEDY



LIST OF CHARACTERS


VON WEHRHAHN, _Justice._

KRUEGER, _Capitalist in a small way._

DR. FLEISCHER.

PHILIP, _his son._

MOTES.

MRS. MOTES.

MRS. WOLFF, _Washerwoman._

JULIUS WOLFF, _her husband._

LEONTINE, ADELAIDE, _her daughters._

WULKOW, _Lighterman._

GLASENAPP, _Clerk in the Justice's court._

MITTELDORF, _Constable._

Scene of the action: anywhere in the neighbourhood of Berlin.



THE FIRST ACT


    _A small, blue-tinted kitchen with low ceiling; a window at the left;
    at the right a door of rough boards leading out into the open; in the
    rear mall an empty casing from which the door has been lifted.--In
    the left corner a flat oven, above which hang kitchen utensils in a
    wooden frame; in the right corner oars and other boating implements.
    Rough, stubby pieces of hewn wood lie in a heap under the window. An
    old kitchen bench, several stools, etc.--Through the empty casing in
    the rear a second room is visible. In it stands a high, neatly, made
    bed; above it hang cheap photographs in still cheaper frames, small
    chromolithographs, etc. A chair of soft mood stands with its back
    against the bed.--It is winter and moonlight. On the oven a
    tallow-candle is burning in a candle-stick of tin. LEONTINE WOLFF has
    fallen asleep on a stool by the oven and rests her head and arms on
    it. She is a pretty, fair girl of seventeen in the working garb of a
    domestic servant. A woolen shawl is tied over her cotton jacket.--For
    several seconds there is silence. Then someone is heard trying to
    unlock the door from without. But the key is in the lock and a
    knocking follows._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Unseen, from without._] Adelaide! Adelaide! [_There is no answer and a
loud knocking is heard at the window._] Are you goin' to open or not?

LEONTINE

[_Drowsily._] No, no, I'm not goin' to be abused that way!

MRS. WOLFF

Open, girl, or I'll come in through the window!

    [_She raps violently at the panes._

LEONTINE

[_Waking up._] Oh, it's you, mama! I'm coming now!

    [_She unlocks the door from within._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Without laying down a sack which she carries over her shoulder._] What
are _you_ doin' here?

LEONTINE

[_Sleepily._] Evenin', mama.

MRS. WOLFF

How did you get in here, eh?

LEONTINE

Well, wasn't the key lyin' on the goat shed?

MRS. WOLFF

But what do you want here at home?

LEONTINE

[_Awkwardly affected and aggrieved._] So you don't want me to come no
more at all?

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, you just go ahead and put on that way! I'm so fond o' that! [_She
lets the sack drop from her shoulder._] You don't know nothin', I
s'ppose, about how late it's gettin'? You hurry and go back to your
mistress.

LEONTINE

It matters a whole lot, don't it, if I get back there a little too late?

MRS. WOLFF

You want to be lookin' out, y'understand? You see to it that you go, or
you'll catch it!

LEONTINE

[_Tearfully and defiantly._] I ain't goin' back to them people no more,
mama!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Astonished._] Not goin'?... [_Ironically._] Oh, no! That's somethin'
quite new!

LEONTINE

Well, I don't _have_ to let myself be abused that way!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Busy extracting a piece of venison from the sack._] So the Kruegers
abuse you, do they? Aw, the poor child that you are!--Don't you come
round me with such fool talk! A wench like a dragoon...! Here, lend a
hand with this sack, at the bottom. You can't act more like a fool, eh?
You won't get no good out o' me that way! You can't learn lazyin' around,
here, at all. [_They hang up the venison on the door._] Now I tell you
for the last time....

LEONTINE

I ain't goin' back to them people, I tell you. I'd jump in the river
first!

MRS. WOLFF

See that you don't catch a cold doin' it.

LEONTINE

I'll jump in the river!

MRS. WOLFF

Go ahead. Let me know about it and I'll give you a shove so you don't
miss it.

LEONTINE

[_Screaming._] Do I have to stand for that, that I gotta drag in two
loads o' wood at night!

MRS. WOLFF

[_In mock astonishment._] Well, now, that's pretty awful, ain't it? You
gotta drag in wood? Such people, I tell you!

LEONTINE

... An' I gets twenty crowns for the whole year. I'm to get my hands
frost-bitten for that, am I? An' not enough potatoes and herring to go
round!

MRS. WOLFF

You needn't go fussin' about that, you silly girl. Here's the key; go,
cut yourself some bread. An' when you've had enough, go your way,
y'understand? The plum butter's in the top cupboard.

LEONTINE

[_Takes a large loaf of bread from a drawer and cuts some slices._] An'
Juste gets forty crowns a year from the Schulze's an'....

MRS. WOLFF

Don't you try to be goin' too fast.--You ain't goin' to stay with them
people always; you ain't hired out to 'em forever.--Leave 'em on the
first of April, for all I care.--But up to then, you sticks to your
place.--Now that you got your Christmas present in your pocket, you want
to run away, do you? That's no way. I have dealin's with them people, an'
I ain't goin' to have that kind o' thing held against me.

LEONTINE

These bits o' rag that I got on here?

MRS. WOLFF

You're forgettin' the cash you got?

LEONTINE

Yes! Six shillin's. That was a whole lot!

MRS. WOLFF

Cash is cash! You needn't kick.

LEONTINE

But if I can go an' make more?

MRS. WOLFF

Yes, talkin'!

LEONTINE

No, sewin'! I can go in to Berlin and sew cloaks. Emily Stechow's been
doin' that ever since New Year.

MRS. WOLFF

Don't come tellin' me about that slattern! I'd like to get my hands on
her, that's all. I'd give that crittur a piece o' my mind! You'd like to
be promoted into her class, would you? To go sportin' all night with the
fellows? Just to be thinkin' o' that makes me feel that I'd like to beat
you so you can't hardly stand up.--Now papa's comin' an' you'd better
look out!

LEONTINE

If papa thrashes me, I'll run away. I'll see how I can get along!

MRS. WOLFF

Shut up now! Go an' feed the goats. They ain't been milked yet to-night
neither. An' give the rabbits a handful o' hay.

    _LEONTINE tries to make her escape. In the door, however, she runs
    into her father, but slips quickly by him with a perfunctory_
    Evenin'.

    _JULIUS WOLFF, the father, is a shipwright. A tall man, with dull
    eyes and slothful gestures, about forty-three years old.--He places
    two long oars, which he has brought in across his shoulder in a
    corner and silently throws down his shipwright's tools._

MRS. WOLFF

Did you meet Emil?

JULIUS _growls._

MRS. WOLFF

Can't you talk? Yes or no? Is he goin' to come around, eh?

JULIUS

[_Irritated._] Go right ahead! Scream all you want to!

MRS. WOLFF

You're a fine, brave fellow, ain't you? An' all the while you forget to
shut the door.

JULIUS

[_Closes the door._] What's up again with Leontine?

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, nothin'.--What kind of a load did Emil have?

JULIUS

Bricks again. What d'you suppose he took in?--But what's up with that
girl again?

MRS. WOLFF

Did he have half a load or a whole load?

JULIUS

[_Flying into a rage._] What's up with the wench, I asks you?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Outdoing him in violence._] An' I want to know how big a load Emil
had--a half or a whole boat full?

JULIUS

That's right! Go on! The whole thing full.

MRS. WOLFF

Sst! Julius!

    [_Suddenly frightened she shoots the window latch._

JULIUS

[_Scared and staring at her, is silent. After a few moments, softly._]
It's a young forester from Rixdorf.

MRS. WOLFF

Go an' creep under the bed, Julius. [_After a pause._] If only you wasn't
such an awful fool. You don't open your mouth but what you act like a
regular tramp. You don't understand nothin' o' such things, if you want
to know it. You let me look out for the girls. That ain't no part o' your
concern. That's a part of my concern. With boys that'd be a different
thing. I wouldn't so much as give you advice. But everybody's got their
own concerns.

JULIUS

Then don't let her come runnin' straight across my way.

MRS. WOLFF

I guess you want to beat her till she can't walk. Don't you take nothin'
like that into your head. Don't you think I'm goin' to allow anythin'
like that! I let her be beaten black an' blue? We c'n make our fortune
with that girl. I wish you had sense about some things!

JULIUS

Well, then let her go an' see how she gets along!

MRS. WOLFF

Nobody needn't be scared about that, Julius. I ain't sayin' but what
you'll live to see things. That girl will be livin' up on the first floor
some day and we'll be glad to have her condescend to know us. What is it
the doctor said to me? Your daughter, he says, is a handsome girl; she'd
make a stir on the stage.

JULIUS

Then let her see about gettin' there.

MRS. WOLFF

You got no education, Julius. Yon ain't got a trace of it. Lord, if it
hadn't been for me! What would ha' become o' those girls! I brought 'em
up to be educated, y'understand? Education is the main thing these days.
But things don't come off all of a sudden. One thing after another--step
by step. Now she's in service an' that'll learn her somethin'. Then
maybe, for my part, she can go into Berlin. She's much too young for the
stage yet.

    [_During MRS. WOLFF'S speech repeated knocking has been heard. Now
    ADELAIDE'S voice comes in._ Mama! Mama! Please, do open! _MRS. WOLFF
    opens the door, ADELAIDE comes in. She is a somewhat overgrown
    schoolgirl of fourteen with a pretty, child-like face. The expression
    of her eyes, however, betrays premature corruption._

Why didn't you open the door, mama? I nearly got my hands and feet
frozen!

MRS. WOLFF

Don't stand there jabberin' nonsense. Light a fire in the oven and you'll
soon be warm. Where've you been all this long time, anyhow?

ADELAIDE

Why, didn't I have to go and fetch the boots for father?

MRS. WOLFF

An' you staid out two hours doin' it!

ADELAIDE

Well, I didn't start to go till seven.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, you went at seven, did you? It's half past ten now. You don't know
that, eh? So you've been gone three hours an' a half. That ain't much.
Oh, no. Well now you just listen good to what I've got to tell you. If
you go an' stay that long again, and specially with that lousy cobbler of
a Fielitz--then watch out an' see! That's all I says.

ADELAIDE

Oh, I guess I ain't to do nothin' except just mope around at home.

MRS. WOLFF

Now you keep still an' don't let me hear no more.

ADELAIDE

An' even if I do go over to Fielitz's sometime....

MRS. WOLFF

Are you goin' to keep still, I'd like to know? You teach me to know
Fielitz! He needn't be putting on's far as I know. He's got another trade
exceptin' just repairin' shoes. When a man's been twice in the
penitentiary....

ADELAIDE

That ain't true at all.... That's all just a set o' lies. He told me all
about it himself, mama!

MRS. WOLFF

As if the whole village didn't know, you fool girl! That man! I know what
he is. He's a pi--

ADELAIDE

Oh, but he's friends even with the justice!

MRS WOLFF

I don't doubt it. He's a spy. And what's more, he's a _dee_nouncer!

ADELAIDE

What's that--a _dee_nouncer?

JULIUS

[_From the next room, into which he has gone._] I'm just waitin' to hear
two words more.

    [_ADELAIDE turns pale and at once and silently she sets about
    building a fire in the oven._

    _LEONTINE comes in._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Has opened the stag. She takes out the heart, liver, etc, and hands
them to LEONTINE._] There, hurry, wash that off. An' keep still, or
somethin'll happen yet.

    [_LEONTINE, obviously intimidated, goes at her task. The girls
    whisper together._

MRS. WOLFF

Say, Julius. What are you doin' in there? I guess you'll go an' forget
again. Didn't I tell you this mornin' about the board that's come loose?

JULIUS

What kind o' board?

MRS. WOLFF

You don't know, eh? Behind there, by the goat-shed. The wind loosened it
las' night. You better get out there an' drive a few nails in,
y'understand?

JULIUS

Aw, to-morrow mornin'll be another day, too.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, no. Don't take to thinkin' that way. We ain't goin' to make that kind
of a start--not we. [_JULIUS comes into the room growling._] There, take,
the hammer! Here's your nails! Now hurry an' get it done.

JULIUS

You're a bit off' your head.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Calling out after him._] When Wulkow comes what d'you want me to ask?

JULIUS

About twelve shillin's sure.

    [_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Contemptuously._] Aw, twelve shillin's. [_A pause._] Now you just hurry
so that papa gets his supper.

    [_A brief pause._

ADELAIDE

[_Looking at the stag._] What's that anyhow, mama?

MRS. WOLFF

A stork.

    [_Both girls laugh._

ADELAIDE

A stork, eh? A stork ain't got horns. I know what that is--that's a stag!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, if you know why d'you go an' ask?

LEONTINE

Did papa shoot it, mama?

MRS. WOLFF

That's right! Go and scream it through the village: Papa's shot a stag!

ADELAIDE

I'll take mighty good care not to. That'd mean the cop!

LEONTINE

Aw, I ain't scared o' policeman Schulz. He chucked me under the chin
onct.

MRS. WOLFF

He c'n come anyhow. We ain't doin' nothin' wrong. If a stag's full o'
lead and lays there dyin' an' nobody finds it, what happens? The ravens
eat it. Well now, if the ravens eat it or we eat it, it's goin' to be
eaten anyhow. [_A brief pause._] Well now, tell me: You was axed to carry
wood in?

LEONTINE

Yes, in this frost! Two loads o' regular clumps! An' that when a person
is tired as a dog, at half past nine in the evenin'!

MRS. WOLFF

An' now I suppose that wood is lyin' there in the street?

LEONTINE

It's lyin' in front o' the garden gate. That's all I know.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, but supposin' somebody goes and steals that wood? What's goin'
to happen in the mornin' then?

LEONTINE

I ain't goin' there no more!

MRS. WOLFF

Are those clumps green or dry?

LEONTINE

They're fine, dry ones! [_She yawns again and again._] Oh, mama, I'm that
tired! I've just had to work myself to pieces.

    [_She sits down with every sign of utter exhaustion._

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a brief silence._] You c'n stay at home tonight for all I care.
I've thought it all out a bit different. An' to-morrow mornin' we c'n
see.

LEONTINE

I've just got as thin as can be, mama! My clothes is just hangin' on to
me.

MRS. WOLFF

You hurry now and go in to bed or papa'll raise a row yet. He ain't got
no understandin' for things like that.

ADELAIDE

Papa always speaks so uneducated!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, he didn't learn to have no education. An' that'd be just the same
thing with you if I hadn't brought you up to be educated. [_Holding a
saucepan over the oven: to LEONTINE:_] Come now, put it in! [_LEONTINE
places the pieces of washed venison into the sauce-pan._] So, now go to
bed.

LEONTINE

[_Goes into the next room. While she is still visible, she says:_] Oh,
mama, Motes has moved away from Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

I guess he didn't pay no rent.

LEONTINE

It was just like pullin' a tooth every time, Mr. Krueger says, but he
paid. Anyhow, he says, he had to kick him out. He's such a lyin'
loudmouthed fellow, and always so high and mighty toward Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

If I had been in Mr. Krueger's place I wouldn't ha' kept him that long.

LEONTINE

Because Mr. Krueger used to be a carpenter onct, that's why Motes always
acts so contemptuous. And then, too, he quarrelled with Dr. Fleischer.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, anybody that'll quarrel with _him_...! I ain't sayin' anythin', but
them people wouldn't harm a fly!

LEONTINE

They won't let him come to the Fleischers no more.

MRS. WOLFF

If you could get a chanct to work for them people some day!

LEONTINE

They treat the girls like they was their own children.

MRS. WOLFF

And his brother in Berlin, he's cashier in a theatre.

WULKOW

[_Has knocked at the door repeatedly and now calls out in a hoarse
voice._] Ain't you goin' to have the kindness to let me in.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, I should say! Why not! Walk right in!

WULKOW

[_Comes in. He is a lighterman on the Spree river, near sixty years old,
bent, with a greyish-yellow beard that frames his head from ear to ear
but leaves his weather-beaten face free._] I wish you a very good
evenin'.

MRS. WOLFF

Look at him comin' along again to take in a woman a little bit.

WULKOW

I've give up tryin' that this long while!

MRS. WOLFF

Maybe, but that's the way it's goin' to be anyhow.

WULKOW

T'other way roun', you mean.

MRS. WOLFF

What'll it be next?--Here it's hangin'! A grand feller, eh?

WULKOW

I tell you, Julius ought to be lookin' out sharp. They's gettin' to be
pretty keen again.

MRS. WOLFF

What are you goin' to give us for it, that's the main thing. What's the
use o' jabberin'?

WULKOW

Well, I'm tellin' you. I'm straight from Gruenau. An' there I heard it
for certain. They shot Fritz Weber. They just about filled his breeches
with lead.

MRS. WOLFF

What are you goin' to give? That's the main thing.

WULKOW

[_Feeling the stag._] The trouble is I got four o' them bucks lyin' at
home now.

MRS. WOLFF

That ain't goin' to make your boat sink.

WULKOW

An' I don't want her to do that. That wouldn't be no joke. But what's the
good if I get stuck with the things here. I've gotta get 'em in to
Berlin. It's been hard enough work on the river all day, an' if it goes
on freezin' this way, there'll be no gettin' along to-morrow. Then I c'n
sit in the ice with my boat, an' then I've got these things for fun.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Apparently changing her mind._] Girl, you run down to Schulze. Say
how-dee-do an' he's to come up a while, cause mother has somethin' to
sell.

WULKOW

Did I say as I wasn't goin' to buy it?

MRS. WOLFF

It's all the same to me who buys it.

WULKOW

Well, I'm willin' to.

MRS. WOLFF

Any one that don't want it can let it be.

WULKOW

I'll buy this feller! What's he worth?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Touching the venison._] This here piece weighs a good thirty pounds.
Every bit of it, I c'n tell you. Well, Adelaide! You was here. We could
hardly lift it up.

ADELAIDE

[_Who had not been present at all._] I pretty near sprained myself
liftin' it.

WULKOW

Thirteen shillin's will pay for it, then. An' I won't be makin' ten pence
on that bargain!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Acts amazed. She busies herself at the oven as though she had forgotten
WULKOW'S presence. Then, as though suddenly becoming aware of it again,
she says:_] I wish you a very pleasant trip.

WULKOW

Well. I can't give more than thirteen!

MRS. WOLFF

That's right. Let it alone.

WULKOW

I'm just buyin' it for the sake o' your custom. God strike me dead, but
it's as true as I'm standin' here. I don't make _that_ much with the
whole business. An' even if I was wantin' to say: fourteen, I'd be
puttin' up money, I'd be out one shillin'. But I ain't goin' to let that
stand between us. Just so you see my good intentions, I'll say
fourteen....

I can't give no more. I'm tellin' you facts.

MRS. WOLFF

That's all right! That's all right! We c'n get rid o' this stag. We won't
have to keep it till morning.

WULKOW

Yes, if only nobody don't see it hangin' here. Money wouldn't do no good
then.

MRS. WOLFF

This stag here, we found it dead.

WULKOW

Yes, in a trap. I believe you.

MRS. WOLFF

You needn't try to get around us that way. That ain't goin' to do _no_
good! You want to gobble up everythin' for nothin'! We works till we got
no breath. Hours an' hours soakin' in the snow, not to speak o' the risk,
there in the pitch dark. That's no joke, I tell you.

WULKOW

The only trouble is that I got four of 'em already. Or I'd say fifteen
shillin's quick enough.

MRS. WOLFF

No, Wulkow, we can't do business together today. You c'n be easy an' go a
door further. We just dragged ourselves across the lake ... a hairbreadth
an' we would've been stuck in the ice. We couldn't get forward an' we
couldn't get backward. You can't give away somethin' you got so hard.

WULKOW

Well, what do I get out of it all, I want to know! This here lighter
business ain't a natural thing. An' poachin', that's a bad job. If you
all get nabbed, I'd be the first one to fly in. I been worryin' along
these forty years. What've I got to-day? The rheumatiz--that's what! When
I get up o' mornin's early, I gotta whine like a puppy dog. Years an'
years I been wantin' to buy myself a fur-coat. That's what all doctors
has advised me to do, because I'm that sensitive. But I ain't been able
to buy me none. Not to this day. An' that's as true as I'm standin' here.

ADELAIDE

[_To her mother._] Did you hear what Leontine said?

WULKOW

But anyhow. Let it go. I'll say sixteen.

MRS. WOLFF

No, it's no good. Eighteen! [_To ADELAIDE._] What's that you was talkin'
about?

ADELAIDE

Mrs. Krueger has bought a fur-coat that cost pretty near a hundred
crowns. It's a beaver coat.

WULKOW

A beaver coat?

MRS. WOLFF

_Who_ bought it?

ADELAIDE

Why, Mrs. Krueger, I tell you, as a Christmas present for Mr. Krueger.

WULKOW

Is that girl in service with the Kruegers?

ADELAIDE

Not me, but my sister, I ain't goin' in service like that at all.

WULKOW

Well now, if I could have somethin' like that! That's the kind o' thing I
been tryin' to get hold of all this time. I'd gladly be givin' sixty
crowns for it. All this money that goes to doctors and druggists, I'd
much rather spend it for furs. I'd get some pleasure out of that at
least.

MRS. WOLFF

All you gotta do is to go there, Wulkow. Maybe Kruger'll make you a
present of the coat.

WULKOW

I don't suppose he'd do it kindly. But's I said: I'm interested in that
sort o' thing.

MRS. WOLFF

I believes you. I wouldn't mind havin' a thing like that myself.

WULKOW

How do we stand now? Sixteen?

MRS. WOLFF

Nothin' less'n eighteen'll do. Not under eighteen--that's what Julius
said. I wouldn't dare show up with sixteen. No, sir. When that man takes
somethin' like that into his head! [_JULIUS comes in._] Well, Julius, you
said eighteen shillin's, didn't you?

JULIUS

What's that I said?

MRS. WOLFF

Are you hard o' hearin' again for a change? You said yourself: not under
eighteen. You told me not to sell the stag for less.

JULIUS

I said?... Oh, yes, that there piece o' venison! That's right. H-m. An'
that ain't a bit too much; either.

WULKOW

[_Taking' out money and counting it._] We'll make an end o' this.
Seventeen shillin's. Is it a bargain?

MRS. WOLFF

You're a great feller, you are! That's what I said exactly: he don't
hardly have to come in the door but a person is taken in!

WULKOW

[_Has unrolled a sack which had been hidden about his person._] Now help
me shoot it right in here. [_MRS. WOLFF helps him place the venison in
the sack._] An' if by some chanst you should come to hear o' somethin'
like that--what I means is, just f'r instance--a--fur coat like that, f'r
instance. Say, sixty or seventy crowns. I could raise that, an' I
wouldn't mind investin' it.

MRS. WOLFF

I guess you ain't right in your head...! How should _we_ come by a coat
like that?

A MAN'S VOICE

[_Calls from without._] Mrs. Wolff! Oh, Mrs. Wolff! Are you still up?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Sharing the consternation of the others, rapidly, tensely._] Slip it
in! Slip it in! And get in the other room!

    [_She crowds them all into the rear room and locks the door._

A MAN'S VOICE

Mrs. Wolff! Oh, Mrs. Wolff! Have you gone to bed?

    _MRS. WOLFF extinguishes the light._

A MAN'S VOICE

Mrs. Wolff! Mrs. Wolff! Are you still up? [_The voice recedes singing:_]

  "Morningre-ed, morningre-ed,
  Thou wilt shine when I am dea-ead!"

LEONTINE

Aw, that's only old "Morningred," mama!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Listens for a while, opens the door softly and listens again. When she
is satisfied she closes the door and lights the candle. Thereupon she
admits the others again._] 'Twas only the constable Mitteldorf.

WULKOW

The devil, you say. That's nice acquaintances for you to have.

MRS. WOLFF

Go on about your way now! Hurry!

ADELAIDE

Mama, Mino has been barkin'.

MRS. WOLFF

Hurry, hurry, Wulkow! Get out now! An' the back way through the vegetable
garden! Julius will open for you. Go on, Julius, an' open the gate.

WULKOW

An's I said, if somethin' like such a beaver coat _was_ to turn up, why--

MRS. WOLFF

Sure. Just make haste now.

WULKOW

If the Spree don't freeze over, I'll be gettin' back in, say, three or
four days from Berlin. An' I'll be lyin' with my boat down there.

MRS. WOLFF

By the big bridge?

WULKOW

Where I always lies. Well, Julius, toddle ahead!

    [_Exit._

ADELAIDE

Mama, Mino has been barkin' again.

MRS. WOLFF

[_At the oven._] Oh, let him bark!

    [_A long-drawn call is heard in the distance._ "Ferry over!"]

ADELAIDE

Somebody wants to get across the river, mama!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, go'n tell papa. He's down there by the river.--["Ferry over!"] An'
take him his oars. But he ought to let Wulkow get a bit of a start first.

    _ADELAIDE goes out with the oars. For a little while MRS. WOLFF is
    alone. She marks energetically. Then ADELAIDE returns._

ADELAIDE

Papa's got his oars down in the boat.

MRS. WOLFF

Who wants to get across the river this time o' night?

ADELAIDE

I believe, mama, it's that stoopid Motes!

MRS. WOLFF

What? Who is't you say?

ADELAIDE

I think the voice was Motes's voice.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Vehemently._] Go down! Ran! Tell papa to come up! That fool Motes can
stay on the other side. He don't need to come sniffin' around in the
house here.

    _ADELAIDE exits. MRS. WOLFF hides and clears away everything that
    could in any degree suggest the episode of the stag. She covers the
    sauce-pan with an apron. ADELAIDE comes back._

ADELAIDE

Mama, I got down there too late. I hear 'em talkin' a'ready.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, who is it then?

ADELAIDE

I've been tellin' you: Motes.

    _MR. and MRS. MOTES appear in turn in the doorway. Both are of medium
    height. She is an alert young woman of about thirty, modestly and
    neatly dressed. He wears a green forester's overcoat; his face is
    healthy but insignificant; his left eye is concealed by a black
    bandage._

MRS. MOTES

[_Calls in._] We nearly got our noses frozen, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

Why do you go walkin' at night. You got time enough when it's bright day.

MOTES

It's nice and warm here.--Who's that who has time by day?

MRS. WOLFF

Why, you!

MOTES

I suppose you think I live on my fortune.

MRS. WOLFF

I don't know; I ain't sayin' what you live on.

MRS. MOTES

Heavens, you needn't be so cross. We simply wanted to ask about our bill.

MRS. WOLFF

You've asked about that a good deal more'n once.

MRS. MOTES

Very well. So we're asking again. Anything wrong with that? We have to
pay sometime, you know?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Astonished._] You wants to pay?

MRS. MOTES

Of course, we do. Naturally.

MOTES

You act as if you were quite overwhelmed. Did you think we'd run off
without paying?

MRS. WOLFF

I ain't given to thinkin' such things. If you want to be so good then.
Here, we can arrange right now. The amount is eleven shillin's, six
pence.

MRS. MOTES

Oh, yes. Mrs. Wolff. We're going to get money. The people around here
will open their eyes wide.

MOTES

There's a smell of roasted hare here.

MRS. WOLFF

Burned hair! That'd be more likely.

MOTES

Let's take a look and see.

    [_He is about to take the cover from the sauce-pan._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Prevents him._] No sniffin' 'round in my pots.

MRS. MOTES

[_Who has observed everything distrustfully._] Mrs. Wolff, we've found
something, too.

MRS. WOLFF

I ain't lost nothin'.

MRS. MOTES

There, look at these.

    [_She shows her several wire snares._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Without losing her equanimity in the slightest._] I suppose them are
snares?

MRS. MOTES

We found them quite in the neighbourhood here! Scarcely twenty paces from
your garden.

MRS. WOLFF

Lord love you! The amount of poachin' that's done here!

MRS. MOTES

If you were to keep a sharp lookout, you might actually catch the poacher
some day.

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, such things is no concern o' mine.

MOTES

If I could just get hold of a rascal like that. First, I'd give him
something to remember me by, and then I'd mercilessly turn him over to
the police.

MRS. MOTES

Mrs. Wolff have you got a few fresh eggs?

MRS. WOLFF

Now, in the middle of winter? They're pretty scarce!

MOTES

[_To JULIUS, who has just come in._] Forester Seidel has nabbed a poacher
again. He'll be taken to the detention prison to-morrow. There's an
officer with style about him. If I hadn't had my misfortune, I could have
been a head forester to-day. I'd go after those dogs even more
energetically.

MRS. WOLFF

There's many a one has had to pay for doin' that!

MOTES

Yes, if he's afraid. I'm not! I've denounced quite a few already.
[_Fixing his gaze keenly on MRS. WOLFF and her husband in turn._] And
there are a few others whose time is coming. They'll run straight into my
grip some day. These setters of snares needn't think that I don't know
them. I know them very well.

MRS. MOTES

Have you been baking, perhaps, Mrs. Wolff? We're so tired of baker's
bread.

MRS. WOLFF

I thought you was goin' to square your account.

MRS. MOTES

On Saturday, as I've told you, Mrs. Wolff. My husband has been appointed
editor of the magazine "Chase and Forest."

MRS. WOLFF

Aha, yes. I know what that means.

MRS. MOTES

But if I assure you, Mrs. Wolff! We've moved away from the Kruegers
already.

MRS. WOLFF

Yes, you moved because you had to.

MRS. MOTES

We had to? Hubby, listen to this!--[_She gives a forced laugh._]--Mrs.
Wolff says that we had to move from Kruegers.

MOTES

[_Crimson with rage._] The reason why I moved away from that place?
You'll find it out some day. The man is a usurer and a cutthroat!

MRS. WOLFF

I don't know nothin' about that; I can't say nothin' about that.

MOTES

I'm just waiting to get hold of positive proof. That, man had better be
careful where I'm concerned--he and his bosom friend, Dr. Fleischer. The
latter more especially. If I just wanted to say it--one word and that man
would be under lock and key.

    [_From the beginning of his speech on he has gradually withdrawn and
    speaks the last words from without._

MRS. WOLFF

I suppose the men got to quarrelin' again?

MRS. MOTES

[_Apparently confidential._] There's no jesting with my husband. If he
determines on anything, he doesn't let go till it's done. And he stands
very well with the justice.--But how about the eggs and the bread?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Reluctantly._] Well, I happen to have five eggs lyin' here. An' a piece
o' bread. [_MRS. MOTES puts the eggs and the half of a loaf into her
basket._] Are you satisfied now?

MRS. MOTES

Certainly; of course. I suppose the eggs are fresh?

MRS. WOLFF

As fresh as my chickens can lay 'em.

MRS. MOTES

[_Hastening in order to catch up with her husband._] Well, good-night.
You'll get your money next Saturday.

    [_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

All right; that'll be all right enough! [_She closes the door and speaks
softly to herself._] Get outta here, you! Got nothin' but debts with
everybody around. [_Over her sauce-pan._] What business o' theirs is it
what we eat? Let 'em spy into their own affairs. Go to bed, child!

ADELAIDE

Good night, mama.

    [_She kisses her._

MRS. WOLFF

Well, ain't you goin' to kiss papa good-night?

ADELAIDE

Good night, papa.

    [_She kisses him, at which he growls. ADELAIDE, exit._

MRS. WOLFF

You always gotta say that to her special!

    [_A pause._

JULIUS

Why do'you go an' give the eggs to them people?

MRS. WOLFF

I suppose you want me to make an enemy o' that feller? You just go ahead
an' get him down on you! I tell you, that's a dangerous feller. He ain't
got nothin' to do except spy on people. Come. Sit down. Eat. Here's a
fork for you. You don't understand much about such things. You take care
o' the things that belongs to you! Did you have to go an' lay the snares
right behind the garden? They was yours, wasn't they?

JULIUS [_Annoyed._] Go right ahead!

MRS. WOLFF

An', o' course, that fool of a Motes had to find 'em first thing. Here
near the house you ain't goin' to lay no more snares at all!
Y'understan'? Next thing'll be that people say we laid 'em.

JULIUS

Aw, you stop your jawin'.

    [_Both eat._

MRS. WOLFF

Look here, Julius, we're out of wood, too.

JULIUS

An' you want me to go this minute, I suppose?

MRS. WOLFF

It'd be best if we got busy right off.

JULIUS

I don't feel my own bones no more. Anybody that wants to go c'n go. I
ain't.

MRS. WOLFF

You men folks always does a whole lot o' talkin', an' when it comes to
the point, you can't do nothin'. I'd work enough to put the crowd of you
in a hole and drag you out again too. If you ain't willin' to go to-night
by no means, why, you've got to go to-morrow anyhow. So what good is it?
How are the climbin' irons? Sharp?

JULIUS

I loaned 'em to Karl Machnow.

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a pause._] If only you wasn't such a coward!--We might get a few
loads o' wood in a hurry, an' we wouldn't have to work ourselves blue in
the face neither.--No, nor we wouldn't have to go very far for 'em.

JULIUS

Aw, let me eat a bite, will you?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Punches his head amicably._] Don't always be so rough, I'm goin' to be
good to you now for onct. You watch. [_Fetching a bottle of whiskey and
showing it to him._] Here! See? I brought that for you. Now you c'n make
a friendly face, all right.

    [_She fills a glass for her husband._

JULIUS

[_Drinks._] That's fine--in this cold weather--fine.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you see? Don't I take care o' you?

JULIUS

That was pretty good, pretty good all right.

    [_He fills the glass anew and drinks._

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a pause. She is splitting kindling wood and eating a bite now and
then._] Wulkow--that feller--he's a regular rascal--. He always--acts--as
if he was hard up.

JULIUS

Aw, he'd better shut up--he with his trade!

MRS. WOLFF

You heard that about the beaver coat, didn't you?

JULIUS

Naw, I didn't hear nothin'.

MRS. WOLFF

[_With assumed carelessness._] Didn't you hear the girl tell how Mrs.
Krueger has given Krueger a fur coat?

JULIUS

Well, them people has the money.

MRS. WOLFF

That's true. An' then Wulkow was sayin' ... you musta heard ... that if
he could get hold of a coat like that some day, he'd give as much as a
seventy crowns for it.

JULIUS

You just let him go and get into trouble his own self.

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a pause, refilling her husband's glass._] Come now, you c'n stand
another.

JULIUS

Well, go ahead, go ahead! What in...!

    _MRS. WOLFF gets out a little note book and turns over the leaves._

JULIUS

How much is it we put aside since July?

MRS. WOLFF

About thirty crowns has been paid off.

JULIUS

An' that'll leave ... leave ...

MRS. WOLFF

That'll still leave seventy. You don't get along very fast this way.
Fifty, sixty crowns--all in a lump; if you could add that onct! Then the
lot would be paid for all right. Then maybe we could borrow a couple o'
hundred and build up a few pretty rooms. We can't take no summer boarders
like this an' it's the summer boarders what brings the money.

JULIUS

Well, go ahead! What are you ...

MRS. WOLFF

[_Resolutely._] My, but you're a slow crittur, Julius! Would _you've_
gone an' bought that lot? An' if we wanted to go an' sell it now, we
could be gettin' twice over what we paid for it! I got a different kind
of a nature! Lord, if you had one like it!

JULIUS

I'm workin' all right. What's the good o' all that?

MRS. WOLFF

You ain't goin' to get very far with all your work.

JULIUS

Well, I can't steal. I can't go an' get into trouble!

MRS. WOLFF

You're just stoopid, an' that's the way you'll always be. Nobody here
ain't been talkin' o' stealin'. But if you don't risk nothin', you don't
get nothin'. An' when onct you're rich, Julius, an' c'n go and sit in
your own carridge, there ain't nobody what's goin' to ask where you got
it! Sure, if we was to take it from poor people! But now suppose
really--suppose we went over to the Kruegers and put the two loads o'
wood on a sleigh an' took 'em into our shed--them people ain't no poorer
on that account!

JULIUS

Wood? What you startin' after again now with wood?

MRS. WOLFF

Now that shows how you don't take notice o' nothin'! They c'n work your
daughter till she drops; they c'n try an' make her drag in wood at ten
o'clock in the evenin'. That's why she run away. An' you take that kind
o' thing an' say thank you. Maybe you'd give the child a hidin' and send
her back to the people.

JULIUS

Sure!--That's what!--What d'you think ...

MRS. WOLFF

Things like that hadn't ought to go unpunished. If anybody hits me, I'll
hit him back. That's what I says.

JULIUS

Well, did they go an' hit the girl?

MRS. WOLFF

Why should she be runnin' away, Julius? But no, there ain't no use tryin'
to do anything with you. Now the wood is lyin' out there in the alley.
An' if I was to say: all right, you abuse my children, I'll take your
wood--a nice face you'd make.

JULIUS

I wouldn't do no such thing ... I don't give a--! I c'n do more'n eat,
too. I'd like to see! I wouldn't stand for nothin' like that. Beatin'!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, then, don't talk so much. Go an' get your cord. Show them people
that you got some cuteness! The whole thing will be over in an hour. Then
we c'n go to bed an' it's all right. An' you don't have to go out in the
woods to-morrow. We'll have more fuel than we need.

JULIUS

Well, if it leaks out, it'll be all the same to me.

MRS. WOLFF

There ain't no reason why it should. But don't wake the girls.

MITTELDORF

[_From without._] Mrs. Wolff! Mrs. Wolff! Are you still up?

MRS. WOLFF

Sure, Mitteldorf! Come right in!

    [_She opens the door._

MITTELDORF

[_Enters. He has an overcoat over his shabby uniform. His face has a
Mephistophelian cast. His nose betrays an alcoholic colouring. His
demeanour is gentle, almost timid. His speech is slow and dragging and
unaccompanied by any change in expression._] Good evenin', Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

I guess you mean to say: Good night!

MITTELDORF

I was around here once before a while ago. First I thought I saw a light,
an' then, all of a sudden, it was dark again. Nobody didn't answer me
neither. But this time there was a light an' no mistake; an' so I came
back once more.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, what have you got for me now, Mitteldorf?

MITTELDORF

[_Has taken a seat, thinks a while and then says:_] That's what I came
here for. I got a message for you from the justice's wife.

MRS. WOLFF

She ain't wantin' me to do washin'?

MITTELDORF

[_Raises his eye-brows thoughtfully._] That she does.

MRS. WOLFF

An' when?

MITTELDORF

To-morrow.--To-morrow mornin'.

MRS. WOLFF

An' you come in tellin' me that twelve o'clock at night?

MITTELDORF

But to-morrow is the missis' wash day.

MRS. WOLFF

But a person ought to know that a few days ahead o' time.

MITTELDORF

That' a fac'. But don't go makin' a noise. I just plumb forgot all about
it again. I got so many things to think of with my poor head, that
sometimes I just naturally forgets things.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, Mitteldorf, I'll try an' arrange it. We always was good friends.
You got enough on your shoulders, I suppose, with them twelve children o'
yours at home, eh? You ain't got no call to make yourself out worse'n you
are.

MITTELDORF

If you don't come in the mornin', I'll have a pretty tough time of it!

MRS. WOLFF

I'll come. You needn't go worryin'. There, take a drink. I guess you need
it this weather. [_She gives him a glass of toddy._] I just happened to
have a bit o' hot water. You know, we gotta take a trip yet to-night--for
fat geese over to Treptow. You don't get no time in the day. That can't
be helped in this kind of a life. Poor people is got to work themselves
sick day an' night, an' rich people lies in bed snorin'.

MITTELDORF

I been given notice. Did you know that? The justice has given me notice.
I ain't keen enough after the people.

MRS. WOLFF

They wants you to be like an old watch dog, I suppose.

MITTELDORF

I'd rather not go home at all. When I gets there, it'll be nothin' but
quarrelin'. She just drives me crazy with her reproaches.

MRS. WOLFF

Put your fingers in your ears!

MITTELDORF

An' then a man goes to the tavern a bit, so that the worries don't down
him altogether; an' now he ain't to do that no more neither! He ain't to
do nothin'. An' now I just come from a bit of a time there. A feller
treated to a little keg.

MRS. WOLFF

You ain't goin' to be scared of a woman? If she scolds, scold harder; an'
if she beats you, beat her back. Come here now--you're taller'n me--get
me down them things off the shelf. An' Julius, you get the sleigh ready!
[_JULIUS exit._] How often have I got to tell you? [_MITTELDORF has taken
cords and pulley lines front the high shelf on the wall._] Get ready the
big sleigh! You c'n hand them cords right down to him.

JULIUS

[_From without._] I can't see!

MRS. WOLFF

What can't you do?

JULIUS

[_Appears in the doorway._] I can't get that sleigh out alone! Everythin'
is all mixed up in a heap here. An' there ain't nothin' to be done
without a light.

MRS. WOLFF

Now you're helpless again--like always. [_Rapidly she puts shawls about
her head and chest._] You must wait, I'll come an' lend a hand. There's
the lantern, Mitteldorf. [_MITTELDORF slowly takes a lantern and hands it
to MRS. WOLFF.] There! thank you. [_She puts the burning candle into the
lantern._] We'll put that in here an' then we c'n go. Now I'll help you
drag out the sleigh. [_She goes ahead with the lantern. MITTELDORF
follows her. In the door she turns around and hands the lantern to
MITTELDORF._] You c'n come an' hold the light for us a bit!

MITTELDORF

[_Holding the light and humming to himself:_]

  "Morningre-ed, morningre-ed ..."


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE SECOND ACT


    _Court room of Justice VON WEHRHAHN. A great, bare, white-washed room
    with three windows in the rear wall. The main door is in the left
    wall. Along the wall to the right stands the long official table
    covered with books, legal documents, etc.; behind it the chair of the
    justice. Near the centre window are the clerk's chair and table. To
    the right is a bookcase of white wood, so arranged that it is within
    reach of the justice when he sits in his chair. The left wall is
    hidden by cases containing documents. In the foreground, beginning at
    the wall to the left, six chairs stand in a row. Their occupants
    would be seen by the spectator from behind.--It is a bright forenoon
    in Winter. The clerk GLASENAPP sits scribbling at his table. He is a
    poverty-stricken, spectacled person. Justice VON WEHRHAHN, carrying a
    roll of documents under his arm, enters rapidly. WEHRHAHN is about
    forty years old and wears a monocle. He makes the impression of a son
    of the landed nobility of Prussia. His official garb consists of a
    buttoned, black walking coat, and very tall boots put on over his
    trousers. He speaks in what is almost a falsetto voice and carefully
    cultivates a military brevity of expression._

WEHRHAHN

[_By the way, like one crushed by the weight of affairs._] Mornin'.

GLASENAPP

Servant, sir.

WEHRHAHN

Anything happened, Glasenapp?

GLASENAPP

[_Standing and looking through some papers._] I've got to report, your
honour--there was first, oh, yes,--the innkeeper Fiebig. He begs for
permission, your honour, to have music and dancing at his inn next
Sunday.

WEHRHAHN

Isn't that ... perhaps you can tell me. Fiebig? There was some one who
recently rented his hall...?

GLASENAPP

To the liberals. Quite right, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

This same Fiebig?

GLASENAPP

Yes, my lord.

WEHRHAHN

We'll have to put a check-rein on him for a while.

    _The constable MITTELDORF enters._

MITTELDORF

Servant, my lord.

WEHRHAHN

Listen here: once and for all--officially I am simply the justice.

MITTELDORF

Yes, sir. As you wish, my--your honour, I meant to say.

WEHRHAHN

I wish you would try to understand this fact: my being a baron is purely
by the way. Is not, at all events, to be considered here. [_To
GLASENAPP._] Now I'd like to hear further, please. Wasn't the author
Motes here?

GLASENAPP

Yes, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Aha! So he _was_ here! I confess that I am very curious. I hope that it
was his intention to come back?

GLASENAPP

He intended to be back here about half past eleven.

WEHRHAHN

Did he by any chance tell you anything?

GLASENAPP

He came in the matter of Dr. Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

Well, now, you may as well tell me--are you acquainted with this Dr.
Fleischer?

GLASENAPP

All I know is that he lives in the Villa Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

And how long has he been living in this place?

GLASENAPP

Well, I've been here since Michaelmas.

WEHRHAHN

To be sure, you came here at the same time with me; about four months
ago.

GLASENAPP

[_Looking toward MITTELDORF for information._] From what I hear the man
has been living here about two years.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MITTELDORF._] I don't suppose you can give us any information?

MITTELDORF

Beggin' your pardon, he came Michaelmas a year ago.

WEHRHAHN

At that time he moved here?

MITTELDORF

Exactly, your honour--from Berlin.

WEHRHAHN

Have you any more intimate information about this individual?

MITTELDORF

All I know is his brother is cashier of a theatre.

WEHRHAHN

I didn't ask for information concerning his brother! What is his
occupation?--What does he himself do? What is he?

MITTELDORF

I don't know as I can say anythin' particular. People do say that he's
sick. I suppose he suffers from diabetes.

WEHRHAHN

I'm quite indifferent as to the character of his malady. He can sweat
syrup if it amuses him. _What_ is he?

GLASENAPP

[_Shrugging his shoulders._] He calls himself a free spear in
scholarship.

WEHRHAHN

Lance! Lance! Not spear! A free lance.

GLASENAPP

The bookbinder Hugk always does work for him; he has some books bound
every week.

WEHRHAHN

I wouldn't mind seeing what an individual of that kind reads.

GLASENAPP

The postman thinks he must take in about twenty newspapers. Democratic
ones, too.

WEHRHAHN

You may summon Hugk to this court some time.

GLASENAPP

Right away?

WEHRHAHN

No, at a more convenient time. To-morrow or the next day. Let him bring a
few of the books in question with him. [_To MITTELDORF._] You seem to
take naps all day. Or perhaps the man has good cigars and knows how to
invest them!

MITTELDORF

Your honour...!

WEHRHAHN

Never mind! Never mind! I will inspect the necessary persons myself. My
honourable predecessor has permitted a state of affairs to obtain
that...! We will change all that by degrees--It is simply disgraceful for
a police official to permit himself to be deceived by any one. That is,
of course, entirely beyond your comprehension. [_To GLASENAPP._] Didn't
Motes say anything definite?

GLASENAPP

I can't say that he did--nothing definite. He was of the opinion that
your honour was informed....

WEHRHAHN

In a very general way, I am. I have had my eye on the man in question for
some time--on this Dr. Fleischer I mean. Mr. Motes simply confirmed me in
my own entirely correct judgment of his peculiar character.--What kind of
a reputation has Motes himself? [_GLASENAPP and_ MITTELDORF exchange
glances and GLASENAPP shrugs his shoulders._] Lives largely on credit,
eh?

GLASENAPP

He says he has a pension.

WEHRHAHN

Pension?

GLASENAPP

Well, you know he got shot in the eye.

WEHRHAHN

So his pension is really paid as damages.

GLASENAPP

Beggin' your honour's pardon, but if it's a question of damages the man
inflicts more than he's ever received. Nobody's ever seen him have a
penny for anything.

WEHRHAHN

[_Amused._] Is there anything else of importance?

GLASENAPP

Nothing but minor matters, your honour--somebody giving notice--

WEHRHAHN

That'll do; that'll do. Do you happen ever to have heard any reports to
the effect that this Dr. Fleischer does not guard his tongue with
particular care?

GLASENAPP

Not that I know of at this moment.

WEHRHAHN

Because that is the information that has come to me. He is said to have
made illegal remarks concerning a number of exalted personages. However,
all that will appear in good time. We can set to work now. Mitteldorf,
have you anything to report?

MITTELDORF

They tell me that a theft has been committed during the night.

WEHRHAHN

A theft? Where?

MITTELDORF

In the Villa Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

What has been stolen?

MITTELDORF

Some firewood.

WEHRHAHN

Last night, or when?

MITTELDORF

Just last night.

WEHRHAHN

From whom does your information come?

MITTELDORF

My information? It come from ... from....

WEHRHAHN

Well, from whom? Out with it!

MITTELDORF

I heard it from--I got it from Dr. Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

Aha! You're in the habit then of conversing with him?

MITTELDORF

Mr. Krueger told me about it himself too.

WEHRHAHN

The man is a nuisance with his perpetual complaints. He writes me about
three letters a week. Either he has been cheated, or some one has broken
his fence, or else some one has trespassed on his property. Nothing but
one annoyance after another.

MOTES

[_Enters. He laughs almost continually in a nervous way._] Beg to bid you
a good morning, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Ah, there you are. Very glad you came in. You can help me out with some
information at once. A theft is said to have been committed at the Villa
Krueger.

MOTES

I don't live there any longer.

WEHRHAHN

And nothing has come to your ears either?

MOTES

Oh, I heard something about it, but nothing definite. As I was just
passing by the Villa I saw them both looking for traces in the snow.

WEHRHAHN

Is that so? Dr. Fleischer is assisting him. I take it for granted then
that they're pretty thick together?

MOTES

Inseparable in every sense, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Aha! As far as Fleischer is concerned--he interests me most of all. Take
a seat, please. I confess that I didn't sleep more than half the night.
This matter simply wouldn't let me sleep. The letter that you wrote me
excited me to an extraordinary degree.--That is a matter of temperament,
to be sure. The slumbers of my predecessor would scarcely have been
disturbed.--As far as I am concerned I have made up my mind, so to speak,
to go the whole way.--It is my function here to make careful tests and to
exterminate undesirable elements.--Under the protection of my honourable
predecessor the sphere of our activity has become a receptacle for refuse
of various kinds: lives that cannot bear the light--outlawed individuals,
enemies of royalty and of the realm. These people must be made to
suffer.--As for yourself, Mr. Motes, you are an author?

MOTES

I write on subjects connected with forestry and game.

WEHRHAHN

In the appropriate technical journals, I take it. _A propos_: do you
manage to make a living that way?

MOTES

If one is well known, it can be done. I may gratefully say that I earn an
excellent competency.

WEHRHAHN

So you are a forester by profession?

MOTES

I studied at the academy, your honour, and pursued my studies in
Eberswalde. Shortly before the final examinations I met with this
misfortune....

WEHRHAHN

Ah, yes; I see you wear a bandage.

MOTES

I lost an eye while hunting. Some bird shot flew into my right eye. The
responsibility for the accident could not, unfortunately, be placed. And
so I had to give up my career.

WEHRHAHN

Then you do not receive a pension?

MOTES

No. But I have fought my way through pretty well now. My name is getting
to be known in a good many quarters.

WEHRHAHN

H-m.--Are you by any chance acquainted with my brother-in-law?

MOTES

Yes, indeed--Chief Forester von Wachsmann. I correspond a good deal with
him and furthermore we are fellow members of the society for the breeding
of pointers.

WEHRHAHN

[_Somewhat relieved._] Ah, so you are really acquainted with him? I'm
very glad indeed to hear that. That makes the whole matter easier of
adjustment and lays a foundation for mutual confidence. It serves to
remove any possible obstacle.--You wrote me in your letter, you recall,
that you had had the opportunity of observing this Dr. Fleischer. Now
tell me, please, what you know.

MOTES

[_Coughs._] When I--about a year ago--took up my residence in the Villa
Krueger, I had naturally no suspicion of the character of the people with
whom I was to dwell under one roof.

WEHRHAHN

Yon were acquainted with neither Krueger nor Fleischer?

MOTES

No; but you know how things go. Living in one house with them I couldn't
keep to myself entirely.

WEHRHAHN

And what kind of people visited the house?

MOTES

[_With a significant gesture._] Ah!

WEHRHAHN

I understand.

MOTES

Tom, Dick and Harry--democrats, of course.

WEHRHAHN

Were regular meetings held?

MOTES

Every Thursday, so far as I could learn.

WEHRHAHN

That will certainly bear watching.--And you no longer associate with
those people?

MOTES

A point was reached where intercourse with them became impossible, your
honour.

WEHRHAHN

You were repelled, eh?

MOTES

The whole business became utterly repulsive to me.

WEHRHAHN

The unlawful atmosphere that obtained there, the impudent jeering at
exalted personages--all that, I take it, you could no longer endure?

MOTES

I stayed simply because I thought it might serve some good purpose.

WEHRHAHN

But finally you gave notice after all?

MOTES

I moved out, yes, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

And finally you made up your mind to--

MOTES

I considered it my duty--

WEHRHAHN

To lodge notice with the authorities.--I consider that very worthy in
you.--So he used a certain kind of expression--we will make a record of
all that later, of course--a certain kind of expression in reference to a
personage whose exalted station demands our reverence.

MOTES

He certainly did that, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

You would be willing, if necessary, to confirm that by oath.

MOTES

I would be willing to confirm it.

WEHRHAHN

In fact, you will be obliged to make such confirmation.

MOTES

Yes, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Of course it would be best if we could procure an additional witness.

MOTES

I would have to look about. The trouble is, though, that the man is very
prodigal of his money.

WEHRHAHN

Ah, just wait a minute. Krueger is coming in now. I will first attend to
his business. At all events I am very grateful to you for your active
assistance. One is absolutely dependent on such assistance if one desires
to accomplish anything nowadays.

KRUEGER

[_Enters hastily and excitedly._] O Lord, O Lord! Good day, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MOTES._] Pardon me just a moment. [_In an arrogant and inquisitorial
tone to KRUEGER._] What is it you want?

    _KRUEGER is a small man, somewhat hard of hearing and nearly seventy
    years old. He is slightly bowed with age; his left shoulder hangs
    somewhat. Otherwise he is still very vigorous and emphasises his
    remarks by violent gesticulations. He wears a fur cap which he is now
    holding in his hand, a brown winter overcoat and a thick woolen shawl
    around his neck._

KRUEGER

[_Literally charged with rage, explodes:_] I've been robbed, your honour.

    [_Getting his breath, he wipes the perspiration from his forehead
    with a handkerchief and, after the manner of people with impaired
    hearing, stares straight at the mouth of the justice._

WEHRHAHN

Robbed, eh?

KRUEGER

[_Already exasperated._] Robbed is what I said. I have been robbed. Two
whole loads of wood have been stolen from me.

WEHRHAHN

[_Looking around at those present, half-smiling, says lightly:_] Not the
least thing of that kind has happened here recently.

KRUEGER

[_Putting his hand to his ear._] What? Not the slightest thing? Then
perhaps I came into this office for fun?

WEHRHAHN

You need not become violent. What is your name, by the way?

KRUEGER

[_Taken aback._] My name?

WEHRHAHN

Yes, your name!

KRUEGER

So my name isn't known to you? I thought we had had the pleasure before.

WEHRHAHN

Sorry. Can't say that I have a clear recollection. And that wouldn't
matter officially anyhow.

KRUEGER

[_Resignedly._] My name is Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

Capitalist by any chance?

KRUEGER

[_With extreme and ironic vehemence._] Exactly--capitalist and houseowner
here.

WEHRHAHN

Identify yourself, please.

KRUEGER

I--Identify myself! My name is Krueger. I don't think we need go to any
further trouble. I've been living here for thirty years. Every child in
the place knows me.

WEHRHAHN

The length of your residence here doesn't concern me. It is my business
merely to ascertain your identity. Is this gentleman known to you--Mr.
Motes?

    _MOTES half rises with an angry expression._

WEHRHAHN

Ah, yes, I understand. Kindly sit down. Well, Glasenapp?

GLASENAPP

Yes, at your service. It is Mr. Krueger all right.

WEHRHAHN

Very well.--So you have been robbed of wood?

KRUEGER

Of wood, exactly. Two loads of pine wood.

WEHRHAHN

Did you have the wood stored in your shed?

KRUEGER

[_Growing violent again._] That's quite a separate matter. That's the
substance of another complaint I have to make.

WEHRHAHN

[_With an ironic laugh and looking at the others._] Still another one?

KRUEGER

What do you mean?

WEHRHAHN

Nothing. You may go ahead with your statement. The wood, it appears, was
not in your shed?

KRUEGER

The wood was in the garden, that is, in front of the garden.

WEHRHAHN

In other words: it lay in the street.

KRUEGER

It lay in front of the garden on my property.

WEHRHAHN

So that any one could pick it up without further ado?

KRUEGER

And that is just the fault of the servant-girl. She was to take the wood
in last night.

WEHRHAHN

And it dropped out of her mind.

KRUEGER

She refused to do it. And when I insisted on her doing it, she ended by
running away. I intend to bring suit against her parents. I intend to
claim full damages.

WEHRHAHN

You may do about that as you please. It isn't likely to help you very
greatly.--Now is there any one whom you suspect of the theft?

KRUEGER

No. They're all a set of thieves around here.

WEHRHAHN

You will please to avoid such general imputations. You must surely be
able to offer me a clue of some kind.

KRUEGER

Well, you can't expect me to accuse any one at random.

WEHRHAHN

Who lives in your house beside yourself?

KRUEGER

Dr. Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

[_As if trying to recall something._] Dr. Fleischer? Dr. Fleischer? Why,
he is a--What is he, anyhow?

KRUEGER

He is a thoroughly learned man, that's what he is--thoroughly learned.

WEHRHAHN

And I suppose that you and he are very intimate with each other.

KRUEGER

That is my business, with whom I happen to be intimate. That has no
bearing on the matter in hand, it seems to me.

WEHRHAHN

How is one to discover anything under such circumstances? You must give
me a hint, at least!

KRUEGER

Must I? Goodness, gracious me! Must I? Two loads of wood have been stolen
from me! I simply come to give information concerning the theft....

WEHRHAHN

But you must have a theory of some kind. The wood must necessarily have
been stolen by somebody.

KRUEGER

Wha.... Yes ... well, I didn't do it! I of all people didn't do it!

WEHRHAHN

But my dear man....

KRUEGER

Wha...? My name is Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

[_Interrupting and apparently bored._] M-yes.--Well, Glasenapp, just make
a record of the facts.--And now, Mr. Krueger, what's this business about
your maid? The girl, you say, ran away?

KRUEGER

Yes, that's exactly what she did--ran off to her parents.

WEHRHAHN

Do her parents live in this place?

KRUEGER

[_Not having heard correctly._] I'm not concerned with her face.

WEHRHAHN

I asked whether the parents of the girl live here?

GLASENAPP

She's the daughter of the washerwoman Wolff.

WEHRHAHN

Wolff--the same one who's washing for us today, Glasenapp?

GLASENAPP

The same, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

[_Shaking his head._] Very strange indeed!--She's a very honest and a
very industrious woman.--[_To KRUEGER._] Is that a fact? Is she the
daughter of the woman in question?

KRUEGER

She is the daughter of the washerwoman Wolff.

WEHRHAHN

And has the girl come back?

KRUEGER

Up to the present time the girl has not come back.

WEHRHAHN

Then suppose we call in Mrs. Wolff herself. Mitteldorf! You act as though
you were very tired. Well, go across the yard. Mrs. Wolff is to come to
me at once. I beg you to be seated, Mr. Krueger.

KRUEGER

[_Sitting down and sighing._] O Lord! O Lord! What a life!

WEHRHAHN

[_Softly to GLASENAPP and MOTES._] I'm rather curious to see what will
develop. There's something more than meets the eye in all this. I think a
great deal of Mrs. Wolff. The woman works enough for four men. My wife
assures me that if Wolff doesn't come she has to hire two women in her
place.--Her opinions aren't half bad either.

MOTES

She wants her daughters to go on the operatic stage....

WEHRHAHN

Oh, of course, she may have a screw loose in that respect. But that's no
fault of character. What have you hanging there, Mr. Motes?

MOTES

They're some wire snares. I'm taking them to the forester Seidel.

WEHRHAHN

Do let me see one of those things. [_He takes one and looks at it
closely._] And in these things the poor beasts are slowly throttled to
death.

    _MRS. WOLFF enters, followed by MITTELDORF. She is drying her hands,
    which are still moist from the wash tub._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Unembarrassed, cheerfully, with a swift glance at the snares._] Here I
am. What's up now? What'm I bein' wanted for?

WEHRHAHN

Mrs. Wolff, is this gentleman known to you?

MRS. WOLFF

Which one of 'em? [_Pointing with her finger at KRUEGER._] This here,
this is Mr. Krueger. I guess I know him all right. Good mornin', Mr.
Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

Your daughter is in Mr. Krueger's service?

MRS. WOLFF

Who? My daughter? That's so--Leontine. [_To KRUEGER._] But then, she run
away from you, didn't she?

KRUEGER

[_Enraged._] She did indeed.

WEHRHAHN

[_Interrupting._] Now wait a moment.

MRS. WOLFF

What kind o' trouble did you have together?

WEHRHAHN

Mrs. Wolff, you listen to me. Your daughter must return to Mr. Krueger at
once.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, no, we'd rather keep her at home now.

WEHRHAHN

That can't be done quite so easily as you think. Mr. Krueger has the
right, if he wishes to exert it, of calling in the help, of the police.
In that case we would have to take your daughter back by force.

MRS. WOLFF

But my husband just happened to take it into his head. He's just made up
his mind not to let the girl go no more. An' when my husband takes a
notion like that into his head.... The trouble is: all you men has such
awful tempers!

WEHRHAHN

Suppose you let that go, for the moment, Mrs. Wolff. How long has your
daughter been, at home?

MRS. WOLFF

She came back last night.

WEHRHAHN

Last night? Very well. She had been told to carry wood into the shed and
she refused.

MRS. WOLFF

Eh, is that so? Refused? That girl o' mine don't refuse to do work. An' I
wouldn't advise her to do that kind o' thing neither.

WEHRHAHN

You hear what Mrs. Wolff says.

MRS. WOLFF

That girl has always been a willin' girl. If she'd ever refused to lend a
hand....

KRUEGER

She simply refused to carry in the wood!

MRS. WOLFF

Yes, drag in wood! At half past ten at night! People who asks such a
thing of a child like that--

WEHRHAHN

The essential thing, however, Mrs. Wolff, is this: the wood was left out
over night and has been stolen. And so....

KRUEGER

[_Losing self-control._] You will replace that wood, Mrs. Wolff.

WEHRHAHN

All that remains to be seen, if you will wait.

KRUEGER

You will indemnify me for that wood to the last farthing!

MRS. WOLFF

An' is that so? That'd be a new way o' doin' things! Did I, maybe, go an'
steal your wood?

WEHRHAHN

You had better let the man calm down, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

No, when Mr. Krueger comes round me with things like that, payin' for
wood and such like, he ain't goin' to have no luck. I always been
friendly with them people--that's sure. Nobody can't complain o' nothin'
'sfar 's I'm concerned. But if things gets to this point, then I'd rather
up and says my say just exactly how I feel, you know. I do my dooty and
that's enough. There ain't nobody in the whole village what c'n say
anythin' against me. But I ain't goin' to let _nobody_ walk all over me!

WEHRHAHN

You need not wear yourself out, Mrs. Wolff. You have absolutely no cause
for it. Just remain calm, quite calm. You're not entirely unknown to me,
after all. There isn't a human being who would undertake to deny your
industry and honesty. So let us hear what you have to say in answer to
the plaintiff.

KRUEGER

The woman can't possibly have anything to say!

MRS. WOLFF

Hol' on, now, everybody! How's that, I'd like to know? Ain't the girl my
daughter? An' I'm not to have anythin' to say! You gotta go an' look for
some kind of a fool! You don't know much about me. I don't has to hide
what I thinks from no one--no, not from his honour hisself, an' a good
deal less from you, you may take your oath on that!

WEHRHAHN

I quite understand your excitement, Mrs. Wolff. But if you desire to
serve the cause at issue, I would advise you to remain calm.

MRS. WOLFF

That's what a person gets. I been washin' clothes for them people these
ten years. All that time we ain't had a fallin' out. An' now, all of a
sudden, they treat you this way. I ain't comin' to your house no more,
you c'n believe me.

KRUEGER

You don't need to. There are other washerwomen.

MRS. WOLFF

An' the vegetables an' the fruit out o' your garden--you c'n just go an'
get somebody else to sell 'em for you.

KRUEGER

I can get rid of all that. There's no fear. All you needed to have done
was to have taken a stick to that girl of yours and sent her back.

MRS. WOLFF

I won't have no daughter of mine abused.

KRUEGER

Who has been abusing your daughter, I'd like to know!

MRS. WOLFF

[_To WEHRHAHN._] The girl came back to me no better'n a skeleton.

KRUEGER

Then let her not spend all her nights dancing.

MRS. WOLFF

She sleeps like the dead all day.

WEHRHAHN

[_Past MRS. WOLFF to KRUEGER._] By the way, where did you buy the wood in
question?

MRS. WOLFF

Is this thing goin' to last much longer?

WEHRHAHN

Why, Mrs. Wolff?

MRS. WOLFF

Why, on account o' the washin'. If I wastes my time standin' round here,
I can't get done.

WEHRHAHN

We can't take that into consideration here, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

An' your wife? What's she goin' to say? You c'n go an' settle it with
her, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

It will only last another minute, anyhow.--You tell us frankly, Mrs.
Wolff--you know the whole village. Whom do you consider capable of the
crime in question? Who could possibly have stolen the wood?

MRS. WOLFF

I can't tell you nothin' about that, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

And nothing suspicious came to your attention?

MRS. WOLFF

I wasn't even at home last night. I had to go over to Treptow to buy
geese.

WEHRHAHN

At what time was that?

MRS. WOLFF

A little after ten. Mitteldorf, he was there when we started.

WEHRHAHN

And no team carrying wood met you?

MRS. WOLFF

No, nothin' like that.

WEHRHAHN

How about you, Mitteldorf, did you notice nothing?

MITTELDORF

[_After some thought._] No, I didn't notice nothin' suspicious.

WEHRHAHN

Of course not, I might have known that. [_To KRUEGER._] Well, where did
you buy the wood?

KRUEGER

Why do you have to know that?

WEHRHAHN

You will kindly leave that to me.

KRUEGER

I naturally bought the wood from the department of forestry.

WEHRHAHN

Why naturally? I don't see that at all. There are, for instance, private
wood yards. Personally I buy my wood from Sandberg. Why shouldn't you buy
yours from a dealer? One really almost gets a better bargain.

KRUEGER

[_Impatiently._] I haven't any more time, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

What do you mean by that? Time? You have no time? Have you come to me, or
do I come to you? Am I taking up your time or are you taking up mine?

KRUEGER

That's your business. That's what you're here for.

WEHRHAHN

Perhaps I'm your bootblack, eh?

KRUEGER

Perhaps I've stolen silver spoons! I forbid you to use that tone to me.
You're not a corporal and I'm not a recruit.

WEHRHAHN

Well, that passes.... Don't shout so!

KRUEGER

It is you who do all the shouting.

WEHRHAHN

You are half deaf. It is necessary for me to shout.

KRUEGER

You shout all the time. You shout at every one who comes in here.

WEHRHAHN

I don't shout at any one. Be silent.

KRUEGER

You carry on as if you were heaven knows what! You annoy the whole place
with your chicanery!

WEHRHAHN

I'm only making a beginning. I'll make you a good deal more uncomfortable
before I get through.

KRUEGER

That doesn't make the slightest impression on me. You're a pretentious
nobody--nothing else. You simply want to cut a big figure. As though you
were the king himself, you....

WEHRHAHN

I _am_ king in this place.

KRUEGER

[_Laughs heartily._] You'd better let that be. In my estimation you're
nothing at all. You're nothing but an ordinary justice of the peace. In
fact, you've got to learn to be one first.

WEHRHAHN

Sir, if you don't hold your tongue this minute....

KRUEGER

Then, I suppose, you'll have me arrested. I wouldn't advise you to go to
such lengths after all. You might put yourself into a dangerous position.

WEHRHAHN

Dangerous? [_To MOTES._] Did you hear that? [_To KRUEGER._] And however
much you intrigue, you and your admirable followers, and however you try
to undermine my position--you won't force me to abandon my station.

KRUEGER

Good heavens! _I_ try to undermine your position? Your whole personality
is far too unimportant. But you may take my word for this, that if you
don't change your tactics completely, you will cause so much trouble that
you will make yourself quite impossible.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MOTES._] I suppose, Mr. Motes, that one must consider his age.

KRUEGER

I beg to have my complaint recorded.

WEHRHAHN

[_Turning over the papers on his table._] You will please to send in your
complaint in writing. I have no time at this moment.

    _KRUEGER looks at him in consternation, turns around vigorously, and
    leaves the office without a word._

WEHRHAHN

[_After a pause of embarrassment._] That's the way people annoy me with
trifles.--Ugh!--[_To MRS. WOLFF._] You'd better get back to your
washing.--I tell you, my dear Motes, a position like mine is made hard
enough. If one were not conscious of what one represents here--one might
sometimes be tempted to throw up the whole business. But as it is, one's
motto must be to stand one's ground bravely. For, after all, what is it
that we are defending? The most sacred goods of the nation!--


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE THIRD ACT


    _It is about eight o'clock in the morning. The scene is the dwelling
    of MRS. WOLFF. Water for coffee is boiling on the oven. MRS. WOLFF is
    sitting on a footstool and counting out money on the seat of a chair.
    JULIUS enters, carrying a slaughtered rabbit._

JULIUS

You better go an' hide that there money!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Absorbed in her calculations, gruffly:_] Don't bother me!

    [_Silence._

    _JULIUS throws the rabbit on a stool. He wanders about irresolutely,
    picking up one object after another. Finally he sets about blacking a
    boot. From afar the blowing of a huntsman's horn is heard._

JULIUS

[_Listens. Anxious and excited._] I axed you to go an' hide that there
money!

MRS. WOLFF

An' I'm tellin' you not to bother me, Julius. Just let that fool Motes
tootle all he wants. He's out in the woods an' ain't thinkin' o' nothin'.

JULIUS

You go right ahead and land us in gaol!

MRS. WOLFF

Don't talk that fool talk. The girl's comin'.

ADELAIDE

[_Comes in, just out of bed._] Good mornin', mama.

MRS. WOLFF

Did you sleep well?

ADELAIDE

You was out in the night, wasn't you?

MRS. WOLFF

I guess you musta been dreamin'. Hurry now! Bring in some wood, an' be
quick about it!

    _ADELAIDE, playing ball with an orange, goes toward the door._

MRS. WOLFF

Where did you get that?

ADELAIDE

Schoebel gave it to me out o' his shop.

    [_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

I don't want you to take no presents from that feller.--Come here,
Julius! Listen to me! Here I got ninety-nine crowns! That's always the
same old way with Wulkow. He just cheated us out o' one, because he
promised to give a hundred.--I'm puttin' the money in this bag,
y'understand? Now go an' get a hoe and dig a hole in the goatshed--but
right under the manger where it's dry. An' then you c'n put the bag into
the hole. D'you hear me? An' take a flat stone an' put it across. But
don't be so long doin' it.

JULIUS

I thought you was goin' to pay an instalment to Fischer!

MRS. WOLFF

Can't you never do what I tell you to? Don't poke round so long,
y'understand?

JULIUS

Don't you go an' rile me or I'll give you somethin' to make you stop. I
don't hold with that money stayin' in this here house.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, what's goin' to be done with it?

JULIUS

You take it an' you carry it over to Fischer. You said we was goin' to
use it to make a payment to him.

MRS. WOLFF

You're stoopid enough to make a person sick. If it wasn't for me you'd
just go to the dogs.

JULIUS

Go on with your screamin'! That's right.

MRS. WOLFF

A person can't help screamin', you're such a fool. If you had some sense,
I wouldn't have to scream. If we go an' takes that money to Fischer now,
you look out an' see what happens!

JULIUS

That's what I say. Look at the whole dam' business. What's the good of it
to me if I gotta go to gaol!

MRS. WOLFF

Now it's about time you was keepin' still.

JULIUS

You can't scream no louder, can you?

MRS. WOLFF

I ain't goin' to get me a new tongue on your account. You raise a row ...
just as hard as you can, all on account o' this bit o' business. You just
look out for yourself an' not for me. Did you throw the key in the river?

JULIUS

Has I had a chanst to get down there yet?

MRS. WOLFF

Then it's about time you was gettin' there! D'you want 'em to find the
key on you? [_JULIUS is about to go._] Oh, wait a minute, Julius. Let me
have the key!

JULIUS

What you goin' to do with it?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Hiding the key about her person._] That ain't no business o' yours;
that's mine. [_She pours coffee beans into the hand-mill and begins to
grind._] Now you go out to the shed; then you c'n come back an' drink
your coffee.

JULIUS

If I'd ha' known all that before. Aw!

    [_JULIUS exit. ADELAIDE enters, carrying a large apron full of
    firewood._

MRS. WOLFF

Where d'you go an' get that wood?

ADELAIDE

Why, from the new blocks o' pine.

MRS. WOLFF

You wasn't to use that new wood yet.

ADELAIDE

[_Dropping the wood on the floor in front of the oven._] That don't do no
harm, mama, if it's burned up!

MRS. WOLFF

You think you know a lot! What are you foolin' about? You grow up a bit
an' then talk!

ADELAIDE

I know where it comes from!

MRS. WOLFF

What do you mean, girl?

ADELAIDE

I mean the wood.

MRS. WOLFF

Don't go jabberin' now; we bought that at a auction.

ADELAIDE

[_Playing ball with her orange._] Oh, Lord, if that was true! But you
just went and took it!

MRS. WOLFF

What's that you say?

ADELAIDE

It's just taken. That's the wood from Krueger's, mama. Leontine told me.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Cuffs her head._] There you got an answer. We ain't no thieves. Now go
an' get your lessons. An' do 'em nice! I'll come an' look 'em over later!

ADELAIDE

[_Exit. From the adjoining room._] I thought I could go skatin'.

MRS. WOLFF

An' your lessons for your confirmation? I guess you forgot them!

ADELAIDE

That don't come till Tuesday.

MRS. WOLFF

It's to-morrow! You go an' study your verses. I'll come in an' hear you
say 'em later.

ADELAIDE'S

[_Loud yawning is heard from the adjoining room. Then she says:_]

  "Jesus to his disciples said,
  Use your fingers to eat your bread."

    _JULIUS comes back._

MRS. WOLFF

Well, Julius, did you go an' do what I told you?

JULIUS

If you don't like my way o' doin', go an' do things yourself.

MRS. WOLFF

God knows that _is_ the best way--always. [_She pours out two cupfuls of
coffee, one for him and one for herself, and places the two cups with
bread and butter on a wooden chair._] Here, drink your coffee.

JULIUS

[_Sitting down and cutting himself some bread._] I hope Wulkow's been
able to get away!

MRS. WOLFF

In this thaw!

JULIUS

Even if it is thawin', you can't tell.

MRS. WOLFF

An' you needn't care if it do freeze a bit; he ain't goin' to be stuck. I
guess he's a good way up the canal by this time.

JULIUS

Well, I hope he ain't lyin' under the bridge this minute.

MRS. WOLFF

For my part he can be lyin' where he wants to.

JULIUS

You c'n take it from me, y'understan'? That there man Wulkow is goin' to
get into a hell of a hole some day.

MRS. WOLFF

That's his business; that ain't none o' ours.

JULIUS

Trouble is we'd all be in the same hole. You just let 'em go an' find
that coat on him!

MRS. WOLFF

What coat are you talkin' about?

JULIUS

Krueger's, o' course!

MRS. WOLFF

Don't you go talkin' rot like that, y'understan'? An' don't go an' give
yourself a black eye on account o' other people's affairs!

JULIUS

I guess them things concerns me!

MRS. WOLFF

Concerns you--rot! That don't concern you at all. That's my business an'
not yours. You ain't no man at all; you're nothin' but an old
woman!--Here you got some change. Now hurry an' get out o' here. Go over
to Fiebig and take a drink. I don't care if you have a good time all day
Sunday. [_A knocking is heard._] Come right in! Come right in, any one
that wants to!

    _DR. FLEISCHER enters, leading his little son of five by the hand.
    FLEISCHER is twenty-seven years old. He wears one of the Jaeger
    reform suits. His hair, beard and moustache are all coal-black. His
    eyes are deep-set; his voice, as a rule, gentle. He displays, at
    every moment, a touching anxiety for the child._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Jubilantly._] Lord! Is little Philip comin' to see us once more! Now,
ain't that fine? Now I really feel proud o' that! [_She gets hold of the
child and takes off his overcoat._] Come now an' take off your coat. It's
warm back here an' you ain't goin' to be cold.

FLEISCHER

Mrs. Wolff, there's a draught. I believe there's a draught.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, he ain't so weak as all that. A bit o' draught, ain't goin' to hurt
this little feller!

FLEISCHER

Oh, but it will, I assure you. You have no idea. He catches cold so
easily! Exercise, Philip! Keep moving a little.

    _PHILIP jerks his shoulders back with a pettish exclamation._

FLEISCHER

Come now, Philip. You'll end by being ill. All you have to do is to walk
slowly up and down.

PHILIP

[_Naughtily._] But, I don't want to.

MRS. WOLFF

Let him do like he wants to.

FLEISCHER

Well, good morning, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

Good morning, Doctor. I'm glad to see you comin' in onct more.

FLEISCHER

Good morning, Mr. Wolff.

JULIUS

Good mornin', Mr. Fleischer.

MRS. WOLFF

You're very welcome. Please sit down.

FLEISCHER

We have just a few minutes to stay.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, if we has such a fine visit paid us so early in the mornin', we're
sure to have a lucky day this day. [_Kneeling down by the child._] Ain't
it so, my boy? You'll bring us good luck, won't you?

PHILIP

[_Excitedly._] I went to ze zological darden; I saw ze storks zere, an'
zey bit each ozzer wis zeir dolden bills.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, you don't mean to say so! You're tellin' me a little fib, ain't
you? [_Hugging and kissing the child._] Lord, child, I could just eat you
up, eat you right up. Mr. Fleischer, I'm goin' to keep this boy. This is
my boy. You're my boy, ain't you? An' how's your mother, eh?

PHILIP

She's well an' she sends her redards an' you'll please tome in ze morning
to wash.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, just listen to that. A little feller like that an' he can give
all that message already! [_To FLEISCHER._] Won't you sit down, just a
bit?

FLEISCHER

The boy bothers me about boating. Is it possible to go?

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, sure. The Spree is open. My girl there c'n row you out a way.

FLEISCHER

The boy won't stop about it! He's just taken that into his head.

ADELAIDE

[_Showing herself in the door that leads to the next room, beckons to
PHILIP._] Come, Philip, I'll show you somethin' real fine!

    _PHILIP gives a stubborn screech._

FLEISCHER

Now, Philip, you musn't be naughty!

ADELAIDE

Just look at that fine orange!

    _PHILIP'S face is wreathed in smiles. He takes a few steps in
    ADELAIDE's direction._

FLEISCHER

Go ahead, but don't beg!

ADELAIDE

Come on! Come on! We'll eat this orange together now.

    [_She walks in the child's direction, takes him by the hand, holds up
    the orange temptingly, and both go, now quite at one, into the next
    room._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Following the child with her eyes._] No, that boy, I could just sit an'
look at him. I don't know, when I see a boy like that ... [_She takes up
a corner of her apron and wipes her eyes._] ... I feel as if I had to
howl right out.

FLEISCHER

Did you have a boy like that once?

MRS. WOLFF

That I had. But what's the use o' all that. You can't make people come
back to life. You see--things like that--that's life....

    _A pause._

FLEISCHER

One can't be careful enough with children,

MRS. WOLFF

You can go an' be as careful as you want to be. What is to be, will be.
[_A pause.--Shaking her head._] What trouble did you have with Mr. Motes?

FLEISCHER

I? None at all! What trouble should I have had with him?

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, I was just thinkin'.

FLEISCHER

How old is your daughter anyhow?

MRS. WOLFF

She'll be out o' school this Easter. Why? Would you like to have her? I
wouldn't mind her goin' into service if it's with you.

FLEISCHER

I don't see why not. That wouldn't be half bad.

MRS. WOLFF

She's grown up to be a strong kind o' body. Even if she is a bit young,
she c'n work most as well as any one, I tell you. An' I tell you another
thing. She's a scamp now an' then; she don't always do right. But she
ain't no fool. That girl's got genius.

FLEISCHER

That's quite possible, no doubt.

MRS. WOLFF

You just let her go an' recite a single piece for you--just once--a pome,
or somethin'. An' I tell you, Doctor, you ain't goin' to be able to get
through shiverin'. You c'n possibly call her in some day when you got
visitors from Berlin. All kinds o' writers comes to your house, I
believe. An' she ain't backward; she'll sail right in. Oh, she does say
pieces _that_ beautiful.--[_With a sudden change of manner._] Now I want
to give you a bit o' advice; only you musn't be offended.

FLEISCHER

I'm never offended by good advice.

MRS. WOLFF

First thing, then: Don't give away so much. Nobody ain't goin' to thank
you for it. You don't get nothin' but ingratitude.

FLEISCHER

Why, I don't give away very much, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

That's all right, I know. An' the more you talk, the more scared people
gets. First thing they says: that's a demercrat. Yon can't be too careful
talkin'.

FLEISCHER

In what way am I to take all that, Mrs. Wolff?

MRS. WOLFF

Yon c'n go an' you c'n think what you please. But you gotta be careful
when it comes to talkin', or you sit in gaol before you know it.

FLEISCHER

[_Turns pale._] Well, now, look here, but that's nonsense, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

No, no. I tell you that's serious. An' be careful o' that feller,
whatever you do!

FLEISCHER

Whom do you mean by that?

MRS. WOLFF

The same man we was talkin' about a while ago.

FLEISCHER

Motes, you mean?

MRS. WOLFF

I ain't namin' no names. You must ha' had some kind o' trouble with that
feller.

FLEISCHER

I don't even associate with him any longer.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you see, that's just what I've been think-in'.

FLEISCHER

Nobody could possibly blame me for that, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

An' I ain't blamin' you for it.

FLEISCHER

It would be a fine thing, wouldn't it--to associate with a swindler, a
notorious swindler.

MRS. WOLFF

That man is a swindler; you're right there.

FLEISCHER

Now he moved over to Dreier's. That poor woman will have a hard time
getting her rent. And whatever she has, she'll get rid of it. Why, a
fellow like that--he's a regular gaol-bird.

MRS. WOLFF

Sometimes, you know, he'll say things ...

FLEISCHER

Is that so? About me? Well, I _am_ curious.

MRS. WOLFF

I believe you was heard to say somethin' bad about some high person, or
somethin' like that.

FLEISCHER

H-m. You don't know anything definite, I dare say?

MRS. WOLFF

He's mighty thick with Wehrhahn, that's certain. But I tell you what. You
go over to old mother Dreier. That old witch is beginnin' to smell a rat.
First they was as nice as can be to her; now they're eatin' her outta
house and home!

FLEISCHER

Oh, pshaw! The whole thing is nonsense.

MRS. WOLFF

You c'n go to the Dreier woman. That don't do no harm. She c'n tell you a
story ... He wanted to get her into givin' false witness.... That shows
the kind o' man you gotta deal with.

FLEISCHER

Of course, I might go there. It can do no harm. But, in the end, the
whole matter is indifferent to me. It would be the deuce of a world, if a
fellow like that.... You just let him come!--Here, Philip, Philip! Where
are you? We've got to go.

ADELAIDE'S VOICE

Oh, we're lookin' at such pretty pictures.

FLEISCHER

What do you think of that other business, anyhow?

MRS. WOLFF

What business?

FLEISCHER

Haven't you heard anything yet?

MRS. WOLFF [_Restlessly._] Well, what was I sayin'?... [_Impatiently._]
Hurry, Julius, an' go, so's you c'n get back in time for dinner. [_To
FLEISCHER._] We killed' a rabbit for dinner to-day. Ain't you ready yet,
Julius?

JULIUS

Well, give me a chanst to find my cap.

MRS. WOLFF

I can't stand seein' anybody just foolin' round that way, as if it didn't
make no difference about to-day or to-morrow, I like to see things move
along.

FLEISCHER

Why, last night, at Krueger's, they ...

MRS. WOLFF

Do me a favour, Doctor, an' don't talk to me about that there man. I'm
that angry at him! That man hurt my feelin's too bad. The way we was--him
an' me, for so long--an' then he goes and tries to blacken my character
with all them people. [_To JULIUS._] Are you goin' or not?

JULIUS

I'm goin' all right; don't get so huffy. Good mornin' to you, Mr.
Fleischer.

FLEISCHER

Good morning, Mr. Wolff.

    [_JULIUS exit._

MRS. WOLFF

Well, as I was sayin' ...

FLEISCHER

That time when his wood was stolen, I suppose he quarreled with you. But
he's repented of that long since.

MRS. WOLFF

That man and repent!

FLEISCHER

You may believe me all the same, Mrs. Wolff. And especially after this
last affair. He has a very high opinion of you indeed. The best thing
would be if you were to be reconciled.

MRS. WOLFF

We might ha' talked together like sensible people, but for him to go an'
run straight to the police--no, no!

FLEISCHER

Well, the poor little old couple is having bad luck: only a week ago
their wood, and now the fur coat....

MRS. WOLFF

Are you comin' to your great news now? Out with it!

FLEISCHER

Well, it's a clear case of burglary.

MRS. WOLFF

Some more stealin'? Don't make fun o' me!

FLEISCHER

Yes, and this time it's a perfectly new fur coat.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, you know, pretty soon I'll move away from here. That's a crowd
round here! Why, a person ain't sare o' their lives. Tst! Tst! Such
folks! It ain't hardly to be believed!

FLEISCHER

You can form an idea of the noise they're making.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you can't hardly blame the people.

FLEISCHER

And really, it was, a very expensive garment--of mink, I believe.

MRS. WOLFF

Ain't that somethin' like beaver, Mr. Fleischer?

FLEISCHER

Perhaps it was beaver, for all I know. Anyhow, they were real proud of
it.--I admit, I laughed to myself over the business. When something like
that is discovered it always has a comic effect.

MRS. WOLFF

You're a cruel man, really, Doctor. I can't go an' laugh about things
like that.

FLEISCHER

You mustn't think that I'm not sorry for the man, for all that.

MRS. WOLFF

Them must be pretty strange people. I don't know. There ain't no way o'
understandin' that. Just to go an' rob other people o' what's theirs--no,
then it's better to work till you drop.

FLEISCHER

You might perhaps make a point of keeping your ears open. I believe the
coat is supposed to be in the village.

MRS. WOLFF

Has they got any suspicion o' anybody?

FLEISCHER

Oh, there was a washerwoman working at the Krueger's....

MRS. WOLFF

By the name o' Miller?

FLEISCHER

And she has a very large family...?

MRS. WOLFF

The woman's got a large family, that's so, but to steal that way ... no!
She might take some little thing, yes.

FLEISCHER

Of course Krueger put her out.

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, that's bound to come out. My goodness, the devil hisself'd have to be
back o' that if it don't. I wish I was justice here. But the man is that
stoopid!--well! I c'n see better'n the dark than he can by day with his
glass eye.

FLEISCHER

I almost believe you could.

MRS. WOLFF

I c'n tell you, if I had to, I could steal the chair from under that
man's behind.

FLEISCHER

[_Has arisen and calls, laughingly, into the adjoining room._] Come,
Philip, come! We've got to go! Good-bye, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

You get dressed, Adelaide. You c'n go an' row Mr. Fleischer a ways.

ADELAIDE

[_Enters, buttoning the last buttons at her throat and leading PHILIP by
the hand._] I'm all ready. [_To PHILIP._] You come right here; I'll take
you on my arm.

FLEISCHER

[_Anxiously helping the boy on with his coat._] He's got to be wrapped up
well; he's so delicate, and no doubt it's windy out on the river.

ADELAIDE

I better go ahead an' get the boat ready.

MRS. WOLFF

Is your health better these days?

FLEISCHER

Much better since I'm living out here.

ADELAIDE

[_Calls back in from the door._] Mama, Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

Who's comin'?

ADELAIDE

Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

It ain't possible!

FLEISCHER

He meant to come to you during the forenoon.

    [_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Throws a swift glance at the heap of fire wood and vigorously sets
about clearing it away._] Come on, now, help me get this wood out o'
sight.

ADELAIDE

Why, mama? Oh, on account o' Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, what for d'you suppose? Is this a proper way for a place to look,
the way this one is look-in'? Is that decent an' on Sunday mornin', too?
What is Mr. Krueger goin' to think of us? [_KRUEGER appears, exhausted by
his walk. MRS. WOLFF calls out to him._] Mr. Krueger, please don't look
'round. This place is in a terrible state!

KRUEGER

[_Impetuously._] Good morning! Good morning! Don't worry about that at
all! You go to work every week and your house can't be expected to be
perfect on Sunday. You are an excellent woman, Mrs. Wolff, and a very
honest one. And I think we might do very well to forget whatever has
happened between us.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Is moved, and dries her eyes from time to time with a corner of her
apron._] I never had nothin' against you in the world. I always liked to
work for you. But you went an' got so rough like, you know, that a
person's temper couldn't hardly help gettin' away with 'em. Lord, a
person is sorry for that kind o' thing soon enough.

KRUEGER

You just come back and wash for us. Where is your daughter Leontine?

MRS. WOLFF

She went to take some cabbage to the postmaster.

KRUEGER

You just let us have that girl again. She can have thirty crowns wages
instead of twenty. We were always quite satisfied with her in other
respects. Let's forgive and forget the whole affair.

    [_He holds out his hand to MRS. WOLFF, who takes it heartily._

MRS. WOLFF

All that hadn't no need to happen. The girl, you see, is still foolish
like a child. We old people always did get along together.

KRUEGER

Well, then, the matter is settled. [_Gradually regaining his
breath._]--Well, then, my mind is at rest about that, anyhow.--But now,
do tell me! This thing that's happened to me! What do you say to that?

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, well, you know--what _can_ a person say about such things?

KRUEGER

And there we got that Mr. von Wehrhahn! He's very well when it comes to
annoying honest citizens and thinking out all sorts of chicanery and
persecution, but--That man, what doesn't he stick his inquisitive nose
into!

MRS. WOLFF

Into everything exceptin' what he ought to.

KRUEGER

I'm going to him now to give formal notice. I won't rest! This thing has
got to be discovered.

MRS. WOLFF

You oughtn't by no means to let a thing o' that kind go.

KRUEGER

And if I've got to turn everything upside down--I'll get back my coat,
Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

What this place needs is a good cleanin' out. We won't get no rest in the
village till then. They'll end up by stealin' the roof from over a
person's head.

KRUEGER

I ask you to consider, for heaven's sake--two robberies in the course of
two weeks! Two loads of wood, just like the wood you have there. [_He
takes up a piece that is lying on the floor._] Such good and expensive
wood, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

It's enough to make a person get blue in the face with rage. The kind o'
crowd we gotta live with here! Aw, things like that! No, you know! Just
leave me alone with it!

KRUEGER

[_Irately gesticulating with the piece of wood._] And if it costs me a
thousand crowns, I'll see to it that those thieves are hunted down. They
won't escape the penitentiary this time.

MRS. WOLFF

An' that'd be a blessin' too, as sure's we're alive!


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE FOURTH ACT


    _The court room. GLASENAPP is sitting at his table. MRS. WOLFF and
    ADELAIDE are waiting for the justice. ADELAIDE holds on her lap a
    small package wrapped in linen._

MRS. WOLFF

He's takin' his time again to-day.

GLASENAPP

[_Writing._] Patience! Patience!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, if he's goin' to be so late again to-day, he won't have no more
time for us.

GLASENAPP

Goodness! You an' your trifles! We got different kinds o' things to deal
with here.

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, I guess they're fine things you got to do.

GLASENAPP

That's no way to talk. That ain't proper here!

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, act a little more grand, will you? Krueger hisself sent my girl here!

GLASENAPP

The same old story about the coat, I suppose.

MRS. WOLFF

An' why not!

GLASENAPP

Now the old fellow's got somethin' for sure. Now he can go stirrin'
things up--the knock-kneed old nuisance.

MRS. WOLFF

You c'n use your tongue. You better see about findin' out somethin'.

MITTELDORF

[_Appears in the doorway._] You're to come right over, Glasenapp. His
honour wants to ax you somethin'.

GLASENAPP

Has I got to interrupt myself again?

    [_He throws down his pen and goes out._

MRS. WOLFF

Good mornin', Mitteldorf.

MITTELDORF

Good mornin'.

MRS. WOLFF

What's keepin' the justice all this while?

MITTELDORF

He's writin' pages an' pages! An' them must be important things, I c'n
tell you that. [_Confidentially._] An' lemme tell you: there's somethin'
in the air.--I ain't sayin' I know exactly what. But there's somethin'--I
know that as sure 's ... You just look out, that's all, and you'll live
to see it. It's goin' to come down--somethin'--and when it do--look out.
That's all I say. No, I don't pretend to understand them things. It's all
new doin's to me. That's what they calls modern. An' I don't know nothin'
about that. But somethin's got to happen. Things can't go on this way.
The whole place is got to be cleaned out. I can't say 's I gets the hang
of it. I'm too old. But talk about the justice what died. Why, he wan't
nothin' but a dam' fool to this one. I could go an' tell you all kinds o'
things, but I ain't got no time. The baron'll be missin' me. [_He goes
but, having arrived at the door, he turns back._] The lightenin' is goin'
to strike, Mrs. Wolff. Take my word for that!

MRS. WOLFF

I guess a screw's come loose somewhere with him.

    [_Pause._

ADELAIDE

What's that I gotta say? I forgot.

MRS. WOLFF

What did you say to Mr. Krueger?

ADELAIDE

Why, I said that I found this here package.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you don't need to say nothin' but that here neither. Only say it
right out strong an' sure. You ain't such a mouse other times.

WULKOW

[_Comes in._] I wish you a good morning.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Stares at WULKOW. She is speechless for a moment. Then:_] No, Wulkow, I
guess you lost _your_ mind! What are you doin' here?

WULKOW

Well, my wife, she has a baby ...

MRS. WOLFF

What's that she's got?

WULKOW

A little girl. So I gotta go to the public registry an' make the
announcement.

MRS. WOLFF

I thought you'd be out on the canal by this time.

WULKOW

An' I wouldn't mind it one little bit if I was! An' so I _would_ be, if
it depended on me. Didn't I go an' starts out the very minute? But when I
come to the locks there wasn't no gettin' farther. I waited an' waited
for the Spree to open up. Two days an' nights I lay there till this thing
with my wife came along. There wasn't no use howlin' then. I had to come
back.

MRS. WOLFF

So your boat is down by the bridge again?

WULKOW

That's where it is. I ain't got no other place, has I?

MRS. WOLFF

Well, don't come to me, if ...

WULKOW

I hope they ain't caught on to nothin', at least.

MRS. WOLFF

Go to the shop an' get three cents' worth o' thread.

ADELAIDE

I'll go for that when we get home.

MRS. WOLFF

Do's I tell you an' don't answer back.

ADELAIDE

Aw, I ain't no baby no more.

    [_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Eagerly._] An' so you lay there by the locks?

WULKOW

Two whole days, as I been tellin' you.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you ain't much good for this kind o' thing. You're a fine feller to
go an' put on that coat in bright daylight!

WULKOW

Put it on? Me?

MRS. WOLFF

Yes, you put it on, an' in bright daylight, so's the whole place c'n know
straight off what a fine fur coat you got.

WULKOW

Aw, that was 'way out in the middle o' the--

MRS. WOLFF

It was a quarter of a hour from our house. My girl saw you sittin' there.
She had to go an' row Dr. Fleischer out an' he went an' had his suspicion
that minute.

WULKOW

I don't know nothin' about that. That ain't none o' my business.

    [_Some one is heard approaching._

MRS. WOLFF

Sh! You want to be on the lookout now, that's all.

GLASENAPP

[_Enters hurriedly with an attempt to imitate the manner of the justice.
He asks WULKOW condescendingly:_] What business have you?

WEHRHAHN

[_Still without._] What do you want, girl? You're looking for me? Come
in, then. [_WEHRHAHN permits ADELAIDE to precede him and then enters._] I
have very little time to-day. Ah, yes, aren't you Mrs. Wolff's little
girl? Well, then, sit down. What have you there?

ADELAIDE

I got a package ...

WEHRHAHN

Wait a moment first ... [_To WULKOW._] What do you want?

WULKOW

I'd like to report the birth of ...

WEHRHAHN

Matter of the public registry. The books, Glasenapp. That is to say, I'll
attend to the other affair first. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] What's the trouble
about your daughter? Did Mr. Krueger box her ears again?

MRS. WOLFF

Well, he didn't go that far no time.

WEHRHAHN

What's the trouble, then?

MRS. WOLFF

It's about this here package ...

WEHRHAHN

[_To GLASENAPP._] Hasn't Motes been here yet?

GLASENAPP

Not up to this time.

WEHRHAHN

That's incomprehensible. Well, girl, what do you want?

GLASENAPP

It's in the matter of the stolen fur coat, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Is that so? Can't possibly attend to that today. No one can do everything
at once. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] She may come in to-morrow.

MRS. WOLFF

She's tried to talk to you a couple o' times already.

WEHRHAHN

Then let her try for a third time to-morrow.

MRS. WOLFF

But Mr. Krueger don't give her no peace no more.

WEHRHAHN

What has Mr. Krueger to do with it?

MRS. WOLFF

The girl went to him with the package.

WEHRHAHN

What kind of a rag is that? Let me see it.

MRS. WOLFF

It's all connected with the business of the fur coat. Leastways that's
what Mr. Krueger thinks.

WEHRHAHN

What's wrapped up in those rags, eh?

MRS. WOLFF

There's a green waist-coat what belongs to Mr. Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

And you found that?

ADELAIDE

I found it, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Where did you find it?

ADELAIDE

That was when I was goin' to the train with mama. I was walkin' along
this way and there ...

WEHRHAHN

Never mind about that now. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] Make your deposition some
time soon. We can come back to this matter to-morrow.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, _I'm_ willin' enough ...

WEHRHAHN

Well, who isn't then?

MRS. WOLFF

Mr. Krueger is so very anxious about it.

WEHRHAHN

Mr. Krueger, Mr. Krueger--I care very little about him. The man just
simply annoys me. Things like this cannot be adjusted in a day. He has
offered a reward and the matter has been published in the official paper.

MRS. WOLFF

You can't never do enough for him, though.

WEHRHAHN

What does that mean: we can't do enough for him? We have recorded the
facts in the case. His suspicions fell upon his washerwoman and we have
searched her house. What more does he want? The man ought to keep quiet.
But, as I said, to-morrow I'm at the service of this affair again.

MRS. WOLFF

It's all the same to us. We c'n come back.

WEHRHAHN

Very well, then. To-morrow morning.

MRS. WOLFF

Good mornin'.

ADELAIDE

[_Dropping a courtsey._] Good mornin'.

    _MRS. WOLFF and ADELAIDE exeunt._

WEHRHAHN

[_Turning over some documents. To GLASENAPP._] I'm curious to see what
the result of all this will be. Mr. Motes has finally agreed to offer
witnesses. He says the Dreier woman, that old witch of a pastry cook,
once stood within earshot when Fleischer expressed himself
disrespectfully. How old is the woman, anyhow?

GLASENAPP

Somewhere around seventy, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

A bit confused in her upper story, eh?

GLASENAPP

Depends on how you look at it. She's fairly sensible yet.

WEHRHAHN

I can assure you, Glasenapp, that it would be no end of a satisfaction to
me to flutter these dove-cotes here pretty thoroughly. These people ought
to be made to feel that they're dealing with somebody, after all. Who
absented himself from the festivities on the emperor's birthday?
Fleischer, of course. The man is simply capable of anything. He can put
on all the innocent expressions he pleases. We know these wolves in
sheep's clothing. They're too sweet-tempered to harm a fly, but if they
think the occasion has come, the hounds can blow up a whole place. Well,
here, at least, it will be made too hot for them!

MOTES

[_Comes in._] Your servant.

WEHRHAHN

Well, how are things going?

MOTES

Mrs. Dreier said that she would be here around eleven.

WEHRHAHN

This matter will attract quite a little notice. It will, is fact, make a
good deal of noise. I know what will be said: "That man Wehrhahn pokes
his nose into everything." Well, thank heaven, I'm prepared for that. I'm
not standing in this place for my private amusement. I haven't been put
here for jest. People think--a justice, why he's nothing but a superior
kind of gaoler. In that case they can put some one else here. The
gentlemen, to be sure, who appointed me know very well with whom they are
dealing. They know to the full the seriousness with which I conceive of
my duties. I consider my office in the light of a sacred calling.
[_Pause._] I have reduced my report to the public prosecutor to writing.
If I send it off at noon to-day, the command of arrest can reach us by
day after to-morrow.

MOTES

Now everybody will be coming down on me.

WEHRHAHN

You know I have an uncle who is a chamberlain. I'll talk to him about
you. Confound it all! There comes Fleischer! What does that fellow want?
Does he smell a rat by any chance? [_A knocking is heard and WEHRHAHN
shouts:_] Come in!

FLEISCHER

[_Enters, pale and excited._] Good morning! [_He receives no answer._] I
should like to lodge information which has reference to the robbery
recently committed here.

WEHRHAHN

[_With his most penetrating official glance._] You are Dr. Joseph
Fleischer?

FLEISCHER

Quite right. My name is Joseph Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

And you come to give me some information.

FLEISCHER

If you will permit me, that is what I should like to do. I have made an
observation which may, quite possibly, help the authorities to track down
the thief in question.

WEHRHAHN

[_Drums on the table with his fingers. He looks around at the others with
an expression of affected surprise which tempts them to laughter._] What
is this important observation which you have made?

FLEISCHER

Of course, if you have previously made up your mind to attach no
importance to my evidence, I should prefer ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Quickly and arrogantly._] What would you prefer?

FLEISCHER

To hold my peace.

WEHRHAHN

[_Turns to MOTES with a look expressive of inability to understand
FLEISCHER'S motives. Then, in a changed tone, with very superficial
interest._] My time is rather fully occupied. I would request you to be
as brief as possible.

FLEISCHER

My time is no less preëmpted. Nevertheless I considered it my duty ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Interrupting._] You considered it your duty. Very well. Now tell us
what you know.

FLEISCHER

[_Conquering himself._] I went boating yesterday. I had taken Mrs.
Wolff's boat and her daughter was rowing.

WEHRHAHN

Are these details necessarily pertinent to the business in hand?

FLEISCHER

They certainly are--in my opinion.

WEHRHAHN

[_Drumming impatiently on the table._] Very well! Very well! Let's get
on!

FLEISCHER

We rowed to the neighbourhood of the locks. A lighter lay at anchor
there. The ice, we were able to observe, was piled up there. The lighter
had probably not been able to proceed.

WEHRHAHN

H-m. Is that so? That interests us rather less. What is the kernel of
this whole story?

FLEISCHER

[_Keeping his temper by main force._] I must confess that this method of
... I have come here quite voluntarily to offer a voluntary service to
the authorities.

GLASENAPP

[_Impudently._] His honour is pressed for time. You are to talk less and
state what you have to say briefly and compactly.

WEHRHAHN

[_Vehemently._] Let's get to business at once. What is it you want?

FLEISCHER

[_Still mastering himself._] I am concerned that the matter be cleared
up. And in the interest of old Mr. Krueger, I will ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Yawning and bored._] The light dazzles me; do pull down the shades.

FLEISCHER

On the lighter was an old boatman--probably the owner of the vessel.

WEHRHAHN

[_Yawning as before._] Yes, most probably.

FLEISCHER

This man sat on his deck in a fur coat which, at a distance, I considered
a beaver coat.

WEHRHAHN

[_Bored._] I might have taken it to be marten.

FLEISCHER

I pulled as close up to him as possible and thus gained a very good view.
The man was a poverty-stricken, slovenly boatman and the fur coat seemed
by no means appropriate. It was, in addition, a perfectly new coat ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Apparently recollecting himself._] I am listening, I am listening!
Well? What else?

FLEISCHER

What else? Nothing.

WEHRHAHN

[_Waking up thoroughly._] I thought you wanted to lodge some information.
You mentioned something important.

FLEISCHER

I have said all that I had to say.

WEHRHAHN

You have told us an anecdote about a boatman who wears a fur coat. Well,
boatmen do, no doubt, now and then wear such coats. There is nothing new
or interesting about that.

FLEISCHER

You may think about that as you please. In such circumstances I have no
more to say.

    [_Exit._

WEHRHAHN

Well now, did you ever see anything like that? Moreover, the fellow is a
thorough fool. A boatman had on a fur coat! Why, has the man gone mad? I
possess a beaver coat myself. Surely that doesn't make me a
thief.--Confound it all! What's that again? I suppose I am to get no rest
to-day at all! [_To MITTELDORF, who is standing by the door._] Don't let
anyone else in now! Mr. Motes, do me the favour of going over to my
apartment. We can have our discussion there without interruptions.
There's Krueger for the hundred and first time. He acts as though he'd
been stung by a tarantula. If that old ass continues to plague me, I'll
kick him straight out of this room some day.

    _In the open door KRUEGER becomes visible, together with FLEISCHER
    and MRS. WOLFF._

MITTELDORF

[_To KRUEGER._] His honour can't be seen, Mr. Krueger.

KRUEGER

Nonsense! Not to be seen! I don't care for such talk at all. [_To the
others._] Go right on, right on! I'd like to see!

    _All enter, KRUEGER leading the way._

WEHRHAHN

I must request that there be somewhat more quiet. As you see, I am having
a conference at present.

KRUEGER

Go right ahead with it. We can wait. Later you can then have a conference
with us.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MOTES._] Over in my apartment, then, if you please. And if you see
Mrs. Dreier, tell her I had rather question her there too. You see for
yourself: it isn't possible here.

KRUEGER

[_Pointing to FLEISCHER._] This gentleman knows something about Mrs.
Dreier too. He has some documentary evidence.

MOTES

Your honour's servant. I take my leave.

    [_Exit._

KRUEGER

That's a good thing for _that_ man to take.

WEHRHAHN

You will kindly omit remarks of that nature.

KRUEGER

I'll say that again. The man is a swindler.

WEHRHAHN

[_As though he had not heard, to WULKOW._] Well, what is it? I'll get rid
of you first. The records, Glasenapp!--Wait, though! I'll relieve myself
of this business first. [_To KRUEGER._] I will first attend to your
affair.

KRUEGER

Yes, I must ask you very insistently to do so.

WEHRHAHN

Suppose we leave that "insistently" quite out of consideration. What
request have you to make?

KRUEGER

None at all. I have no request to make. I am here in order to demand what
is my right.

WEHRHAHN

Your right? Ah, what is that, exactly?

KRUEGER

My good right. I have been robbed and it is my right that the local
authorities aid me in recovering my stolen possessions.

WEHRHAHN

Have you been refused such assistance?

KRUEGER

Certainly not. And that is not possible. Nevertheless, it is quite clear
that nothing is being done. The whole affair is making no progress.

WEHRHAHN

You imagine that things like that can be done in a day or two.

KRUEGER

I don't imagine anything, your honour. I have very definite proofs. You
are taking no interest in my affairs.

WEHRHAHN

I could interrupt you at this very point. It lies entirely beyond the
duties of my office to listen to imputations of that nature. For the
present, however, you may continue.

KRUEGER

You could not interrupt me at all. As a citizen of the Prussian state I
have my rights. And even if you interrupt me here, there are other places
where I could make my complaint. I repeat that you are not showing any
interest in my affair.

WEHRHAHN

[_Apparently calm._] Suppose you prove that.

KRUEGER

[_Pointing to MRS. WOLFF and her daughter._] This woman here came to you.
Her daughter made a find. She didn't shirk the way, your honour, although
she is a poor woman. You turned her off once before and she came back
to-day ...

MRS. WOLFF

But his honour didn't have no time, you know.

WEHRHAHN

Go on, please!

KRUEGER

I will. I'm not through yet by any means. What did you say to the woman?
You said to her quite simply that you had no time for the matter in
question. You did not even question her daughter. You don't know the
slightest circumstance: you don't know anything about the entire
occurrence.

WEHRHAHN

I will have to ask you to moderate yourself a little.

KRUEGER

My expressions are moderate; they are extremely moderate. I am far too
moderate, your honour. My entire character is far too full of moderation.
If it were not, what do you think I would say? What kind of an
investigation is this? This gentleman here, Dr. Fleischer, came to you to
report an observation which he has made. A boatman wears a beaver coat
...

WEHRHAHN

[_Raising his hand._] Just wait a moment. [_To WULKOW._] You are a
boatman, aren't you?

WULKOW

I been out on the river for thirty years.

WEHRHAHN

Are you nervous? You seem to twitch.

WULKOW

I reely did have a little scare. That's a fac'.

WEHRHAHN

Do the boatmen on the Spree frequently wear fur coats?

WULKOW

A good many of 'em has fur coats. That's right enough.

WEHRHAHN

This gentleman saw a boatman who stood on his deck wearing a fur coat.

WULKOW

There ain't nothin' suspicious about that, your honour. There's many as
has fine coats. I got one myself, in fac'.

WEHRHAHN

You observe: the man himself owns a fur coat.

FLEISCHER

But then he hasn't exactly a beaver coat.

WEHRHAHN

You were not in a position to discover that.

KRUEGER

What? Has this man a beaver coat?

WULKOW

There's many of 'em, I c'n tell you, as has the finest beaver coats. An'
why not? We makes enough.

WEHRHAHN

[_Filled with a sense of triumph but pretending indifference._] Exactly.
[_Lightly._] Now, please go on, Mr. Krueger. That was only a little
side-play. I simply wanted to make clear to you the value of that
so-called "observation."--You see now that this man himself owns a fur
coat. [_More violently._] Would it therefore occur to us in our wildest
moments to assert that he has stolen the coat? That would simply be an
absurdity.

KRUEGER

Wha--? I don't understand a word.

WEHRHAHN

Then I must talk somewhat louder still. And since I am talking to you
now, there's something else I might as well say to you--not in my
capacity as justice, but simply man to man, Mr. Krueger. A man who is
after all an honourable citizen should be more chary of his
confidence--he should not adduce the evidence of people ...

KRUEGER

Are you talking about my associates? _My_ associates?

WEHRHAHN

Exactly that.

KRUEGER

In that case you had better take care of yourself. People like Motes,
with whom you associate, were kicked out of my house.

FLEISCHER

I was obliged to show the door to this person whom you receive in your
private apartment!

KRUEGER

He cheated me out of my rent.

MRS. WOLFF

There ain't many in this village that that man ain't cheated all
ways--cheated out o' pennies an' shillin's, an' crowns an' gold pieces.

KRUEGER

He has a regular system of exacting tribute.

FLEISCHER

[_Pulling a document out of his pocket._] More than that, the fellow is
ripe for the public prosecutor. [_He places the document on the table._]
I would request you to read this through.

KRUEGER

Mrs. Dreier has signed that paper herself. Motes tried to inveigle her
into committing perjury.

FLEISCHER

She was to give evidence against me.

KRUEGER

[_Putting his hand on FLEISCHER'S arm._] This gentleman is of unblemished
conduct and that scoundrel wanted to get him into trouble. And you lend
your assistance to such things!

**All speak at once.**

WEHRHAHN

My patience is exhausted now. Whatever dealings you may have with Motes
don't concern me and are entirely indifferent to me. [_To FLEISCHER._]
You'll be good enough to remove that rag!

KRUEGER

[_Alternately to MRS. WOLFF and to GLASENAPP._] That man is his honour's
friend: that is his source of information. A fine situation. We might
better call him a source of defamation!

FLEISCHER

[_To MITTELDORF._] I'm not accountable to any one. It's my own business
what I do; it's my own business with whom I associate; it's my own
business what I choose to think and write!

GLASENAPP

Why you can't hear your own words in this place no more! Your honour,
shall I go an' fetch a policeman? I can run right over and get one.
Mitteldorf!...

**End all**

WEHRHAHN

Quiet, please! [_Quiet is restored. To FLEISCHER._] You will please
remove that rag.

FLEISCHER

[_Obeys._] That rag, as you call it, will be forwarded to the public
prosecutor.

WEHRHAHN

You may do about that exactly as you please. [_He arises and takes from a
case in the wall the package brought by MRS. WOLFF._] Let us finally
dispose of this matter, then. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] Where did you find this
thing?

MRS. WOLFF

It ain't me that found it at all.

WEHRHAHN

Well, who did find it?

MRS. WOLFF

My youngest daughter.

WEHRHAHN

Well, why didn't you bring her with you then?

MRS. WOLFF

She was here, all right, your honour. An' then, I c'n go over an' fetch
her in a minute.

WEHRHAHN

That would only serve to delay the whole business again. Didn't the girl
tell you anything about it?

KRUEGER

You said it was found on the way to the railway station.

WEHRHAHN

In that case the thief is probably in Berlin, That won't make our search
any easier.

KRUEGER

I don't believe that at all, your honour, Mr. Fleischer seems to me to
have an entirely correct opinion. The whole business with the package is
a trick meant to mislead us.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, well. That's mighty possible.

WEHRHAHN

Now, Mrs. Wolff, you're not so stupid as a rule. Things that are stolen
here go in to Berlin. That fur coat was sold in Berlin before we even
knew that it was stolen.

MRS. WOLFF

No, your honour, I can't help it, but I ain't quite, not quite of the
same opinion. If the thief is in Berlin, why, I ax, does he have to go
an' lose a package like that?

WEHRHAHN

Such things are not always lost intentionally.

MRS. WOLFF

Just look at that there package. It's all packed up so nice--the vest,
the key, an' the bit o' paper ...

KRUEGER

I believe the thief to be in this very place.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Confirming him._] Well, you see, Mr. Krueger.

KRUEGER

I firmly believe it.

WEHRHAHN

Sorry, but I do not incline to that opinion. My experience is far too
long ...

KRUEGER

What? A long experience? H-m!

WEHRHAHN

Certainly. And on the basis of that experience I know that the chance of
the coat being here need scarcely be taken into account.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, well, we shouldn't go an' deny things that way, your honour.

KRUEGER

[_Referring to FLEISCHER._] And then he saw the boatman ...

WEHRHAHN

Don't bother me with that story. I'd have to go searching people's houses
every day with twenty constables and policemen, I'd have to search every
house in the village.

MRS. WOLFF

Then you better go an' start with my house, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Well, isn't that ridiculous? No, no, gentlemen: that's not the way. That
method will lead us nowhither, now or later. You must give me entire
freedom of action. I have my own suspicions and will continue to make my
observations. There are a number of shady characters here on whom I have
my eye. Early in the morning they ride in to Berlin with heavy baskets on
their backs, and in the evening they bring home the same baskets empty.

KRUEGER

I suppose you mean the vegetable hucksters. That's what they do.

WEHRHAHN

Not only the vegetable hucksters, Mr. Krueger. And I have no doubt but
that your coat travelled in the same way.

MRS. WOLFF

That's possible, all right. There ain't nothin' impossible in _this_
world, I tell you.

WEHRHAHN

Well, then! Now, what did you want to announce?

WULKOW

A little girl, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

I will do all that is possible.

KRUEGER

I won't let the matter rest until I get back my coat.

WEHRHAHN

Well, whatever can be done will be done. Mrs. Wolff can use her ears a
little.

MRS. WOLFF

The trouble is I don't know how to act like a spy. But if things like
that don't come out--there ain't no sayin' what's safe no more.

KRUEGER

You are quite right, Mrs. Wolff, quite right. [_To WEHRHAHN._] I must ask
you to examine that package carefully. The handwriting on the slip that
was found in it may lead to a discovery. And day after to-morrow morning,
your honour, I will take the liberty of troubling you again. Good
morning!

    [_Exit._

FLEISCHER

Good morning.

    [_Exit._

WEHRHAHN

[_To WULKOW._] How old are you?--There's something wrong with those two
fellows up here. [_He touches his forehead. To WULKOW._] What is your
name?

WULKOW

August Philip Wulkow.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MITTELDORF._] Go over to my apartment. That Motes is still sitting
there and waiting. Tell him I am sorry but I have other things to do this
morning.

MITTELDORF

An' you don't want him to wait?

WEHRHAHN

[_Harshly._] No, he needn't wait!

    [_MITTELDORF, exit._

WEHRHAHN

[_To MRS. WOLFF._] Do you know this author Motes?

MRS. WOLFF

When it comes to people like that, your honour, I'd rather go an' hold my
tongue. There ain't much good that I could tell you.

WEHRHAHN

[_Ironically._] But you could tell me a great deal that's good about
Fleischer.

MRS. WOLFF

He ain't no bad sort, an' that's a fac'.

WEHRHAHN

I suppose you're trying to be a bit careful in what you say.

MRS. WOLFF

No, I ain't much good at that. I'm right out with things, your honour. If
I hadn't always gone an' been right out with what I got to say, I might
ha' been a good bit further along in the world.

WEHRHAHN

That policy has never done you any harm with me.

MRS. WOLFF

No, not with you, your honour. You c'n stand bein' spoken to honest.
Nobody don't need to be sneaky 'round you.

WEHRHAHN

In short: Fleischer is a man of honour.

MRS. WOLFF

That he is! That he is!

WEHRHAHN

Well, you remember my words of to-day.

MRS. WOLFF

An' you remember mine.

WEHRHAHN

Very well. The future will show. [_He stretches himself, gets up, and
stamps his feet gently on the floor. To WULKOW._] This is our excellent
washerwoman. She thinks that all people are like herself. [_To MRS.
WOLFF._] But unfortunately the world is differently made. You see human
beings from the outside; a man like myself has learned to look a little
deeper. [_He takes a few paces, then stops before her and lays his hand
on her shoulder._] And as surely as it is true when I say: Mrs. Wolff is
an honest woman; so surely I tell you: this Dr. Fleischer of yours, of
whom we were speaking, is a thoroughly dangerous person!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Shaking her head resignedly._] Well, then I don't know no more what to
think ...


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE CONFLAGRATION



PERSONS:


FIELITZ, _Shoemaker and Spy. Near sixty years old._

MRS. FIELITZ, _formerly MRS. WOLFF, his wife. Of the same age._

LEONTINE, _her oldest daughter by her first marriage; unmarried; near
thirty._

SCHMAROWSKI, _Architect._

LANGHEINRICH, _Smith. Thirty years old._

RAUCHHAUPT, _retired Prussian Constable._

GUSTAV, _his oldest son, a congenital imbecile._

MIEZE, LOTTE, TRUDE, LENCHEN, LIESCHEN, MARIECHEN, TIENCHEN, HANNCHEN,
_his daughters._

DR. BOXER, _a vigorous man of thirty-six. Physician. Of Jewish birth._

VON WEHRHAHN, _Justice._

EDE, _Journeyman at LANGHEINRICH'S._

GLASENAPP, _Clerk in the Justice's Court._

SCHULZE, _Constable._

MRS. SCHULZE, _his aunt._

TSCHACHE, _Constable._

A FIREMAN.

A BOY.

JANITOR OF THE COURT.

VILLAGE PEOPLE.

Scene: Anywhere in the neighbourhood of Berlin.



THE FIRST ACT


    _The work shop of the shoemaker FIELITZ. A low room with blue tinted
    walls. A window to the right. In each of the other walls a door.
    Under the window at the right a small platform. Upon it a cobbler's
    bench and a small table. On the latter a stand upholding three
    spheres of glass filled with water. Near them stands an unlit
    coal-oil lamp. In the corner, left, a brown tile oven surrounded by a
    bench and kitchen utensils of various kinds._

    _SHOEMAKER FIELITZ is still crouching over his work. On the platform
    and around it old shoes and boots of every size are heaped up.
    FIELITZ is hammering a piece of leather into flexibility._

    _MRS. FIELITZ (formerly MRS. WOLFF) is thoughtfully turning over in
    her hands a little wooden box and a stearin candle. It is toward
    evening, at the end of September._

FIELITZ

You get outta this here shop. Go on now!

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Briefly and contemptuously._] Who d'you think'll come in here now? It's
past six.

FIELITZ

You get outta the shop with that trash o' yours.

MRS. FIELITZ

I wish you wouldn't act so like a fool. What's wrong about this here
little box, eh? A little box like this ain't no harm.

FIELITZ

[_Working with enraged violence._] It's somethin' good, ain't it now?

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Still thoughtfully and half in jest._] The sawdust comes up to here ...
An' then they go an' put a candle plumb in the middle here ...

FIELITZ

Look here, ma, you're too smart for me! If that there smartness o' yours
keeps on, I see myself in gaol one o' these days.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Harshly._] I s'ppose you can't listen a bit when a person talks to you.
You might pay some attention when I talks to you. Things like that
interest a body.

FIELITZ

I takes an interest in my boots, an' I don't take no interest in nothin'
else.

MRS. FIELITZ

That's it! O Lordy! That'd be a nice state for us. We'd all go an' starve
together. Your cobblin'--there's a lot o' good in that!--They puts the
candle in here. Y'understand? This here little box ain't big enough
neither. That one over there would be more like. Let's throw them
children's shoes out.

    [_She turns a box full of children's shoes upside down._

FIELITZ

[_Frightened._] Don't you go in for no nonsense, y'understand?

MRS. FIELITZ

An' then when they've lit the candle--... then they stands it up in the
middle o' the box, so's it can't burn the top, o' course. Then you puts
it, reel still, up in some attic--Grabow didn't do that different
neither--right straight in a heap o' old trash--an' then you goes quiet
to Berlin, an' when you comes back ...

FIELITZ

Ssh! Somebody's comin'! Ssh!

MRS. FIELITZ

An' the devil hisself can't go an' prove nothin' against you.

    [_A protracted silence._

FIELITZ

If it was as simple as all that! But that ain't noways as easy as you
thinks. First of all there's got to be air-holes in here. O' course this
here awl--: that'll do for a drill. That thing's got to have a draught,
if you want it to catch! If there ain't no draught, it just smothers!
Fire's gotta have a draught or it won't burn. Somebody's got to lend a
hand here as knows somethin'.

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, that'd be an easy thing for you!

FIELITZ

[_Forgetting his point of view in his growing zeal._] There's gotta be a
draught here an' another here! An' it's all gotta be done just right! An'
then sawdust an' rags here. An' then you go an' pour some kerosene right
in.--There ain't nothin' new in all that. I was out in the world for six
years.

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, exactly. That's what I been sayin'.

FIELITZ

You c'n do that with a sponge an' you c'n do that with a string. All you
gotta do is to steep 'em good an' hard in saltpetre. An' you c'n light
that with burning glasses. It c'n be done twenty steps away!--All that's
been done before now. There ain't nothin' new in all that to me. I know
all about it.

MRS. FIELITZ

An' Grabow's built up again. If he hadn't gone an' taken his courage in
both hands, he'd ha' been in the street long ago.

FIELITZ

That's all right, if a man's in trouble like water up to his neck an' is
goin' to be drowned. Maybe then ...

MRS. FIELITZ

An' there's many as lets the time slip till he is drowned.

    [_The doorbell rings._

FIELITZ

Go an' put the box away an' then open the door.

    _JUSTICE VON WEHRHAHN enters, wearing a thick overcoat, tall boots
    and a fur cap._

WEHRHAHN

Evening, Fielitz! How about those boots?

FIELITZ

They's all right, your honour.

MRS. FIELITZ

You better go an' get a little light so's Mr. von Wehrhahn can see
somethin'.

WEHRHAHN

Well, how is everything and what are you doing, Mrs. Wolff?

MRS. FIELITZ

I ain't no Mrs. Wolff no more.

WEHRHAHN

She's grown very proud, eh, Fielitz? She carries her head very high? She
feels quite set up?

MRS. FIELITZ

Hear that! Marryin's gone to my head? I could ha' lived much better as a
widder.

FIELITZ

[_Who has drawn the lasts out of WEHRHAHN'S boots._] Then you might ha'
gone an' stayed a widder.

MRS. FIELITZ

If I'd ha' known what kind of a feller you are, I wouldn't ha' been in no
hurry. I could ha' gotten an old bandy-legged crittur like you any day o'
the week.

WEHRHAHN

Gently, gently!

FIELITZ

Never you mind her. [_With almost creeping servility._] If you'll be so
very kind, your honour, an' have the goodness to pull off your right
boot. If you'll let me; I c'n do that. So. An' if you'll be so good now
an' put your foot on this here box.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Holding the burning lamp._] An' how is the Missis, Baron?

WEHRHAHN

Thank you, she's quite well. But she's still lamenting her Mrs. Wolff ...

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, you see, I couldn't do that no more reely. I washed thirty years
an' over for you. You c'n get enough o' anything in that time, I tell
you. I c'n show you my legs some day. The veins is standin' out on 'em,
thick as your fist. That comes from the everlastin' standin' up at the
tub! An' I got frost boils all over me and the rheumatiz in every limb.
They ain't no end to the doctorin' I gotta do! I just gotta wrap myself
up in cotton, an' anyhow I'm cold all day.

WEHRHAHN

Certainly, Mrs. Wolff, I can well believe that.

MRS. FIELITZ

There was a time an' I'd work against anybody. I had a constitootion! You
couldn't ha' found one in ten like it. But nowadays ... O Lord! Things is
lookin' different.

FIELITZ

You c'n holler a little louder if you want to.

WEHRHAHN

I can't blame you, of course, Mrs. Fielitz. Any one who has worked as you
have may well consider herself entitled to some rest.

MRS. FIELITZ

An' then, you see, things keep goin'. We got our livin' right along.
[_She give FIELITZ a friendly nudge on the head._] An' he does his part
all right now. We ain't neither of us lazy, so to speak. If only a body
could keep reel well! But Saturday I gotta go to the doctor again. He
goes and electrilises me with his electrilising machine, you know. I
ain't sayin' but what it helps me. But first of all there's the expenses
of the trip in to Berlin an' then every time he electrilises me that
costs five shillin's. Sometimes, you know, a person, don't know where to
get the money.

FIELITZ

You go ahead an' ram your money down doctors' throats!

WEHRHAHN

[_Treads firmly with his new shoe._] None of us are getting any younger,
Mrs. Fielitz. I'm beginning to feel that quite distinctly myself.
Perfectly natural. Nothing to be done about it. We've simply got to make
up our minds to that.--And, anyhow, you oughtn't to complain. I heard it
said a while ago that your son-in-law had passed his examinations very
well. In that case everything is going according to your wishes.

MRS. FIELITZ

That's true, of course, an' it did make me reel happy too. In the first
place he'll be able to get along much better now that he's somethin' like
an architect ... an' then, he deserved it all ways.--The kind o' time he
had when he was a child! Well, I ain't had no easy time neither, but a
father like that ...

WEHRHAHN

Schmarowski is a fellow of solid worth. I never had any fears for him.
Your Adelaide was very lucky there.--You remember my telling you so at
the time. You came running over to me that time, you recall, when the
engagement was almost broken, and I sent you to Pastor Friederici:--that
shows you the value of spiritual advice. A young man is a young man and
however Christian and upright his life, he's apt to forget himself once
in a while. That's where the natural function of the spiritual adviser
comes in.

MRS. FIELITZ

Yes, yes, I s'ppose you're right enough there. An' I'll never forget what
the pastor did for us that time! If Schmarowski had gone an' left the
girl, she'd never have lived through it, that's certain.

WEHRHAHN

There we've got an instance of what happens when a church and a pastor
are in a place. The house of God that we've built together has brought
many a blessing. So, good evening and good luck to you.--Oh, what I was
going to say, Fielitz: the celebration takes place on Monday morning. You
will be there surely?

MRS. FIELITZ

Naturally he'll come.

FIELITZ

Sure an' certain.

WEHRHAHN

I would hardly know what to do without you, Fielitz. In the meantime,
come in for a moment on Sunday, I'm proposing certain points ... certain
very marked points, and we must pull together vigorously. So, good
evening! Don't forget--we've got to have a strong parade.

FIELITZ

That's right. You can't do them things without one.

    [_Exit WEHRHAHN._

FIELITZ

You go an' take that candle out! Will you, please?

MRS. FIELITZ

You're as easy scared as a rabbit, Anton! That's what you are--a reg'lar
rabbit.

    _She takes the candle out of the little box. Almost at the same
    moment RAUCHHAUPT opens the door and looks in._

RAUCHHAUPT

Good evenin'. Am I intrudin'?

FIELITZ

-- -- -- --

MRS. FIELITZ

Aw, come right into our parlour!

RAUCHHAUPT

Ain't Langheinrich the smith come in yet?

MRS. FIELITZ

Was he goin' to come? No, he ain't been here.

RAUCHHAUPT

We made a special engagement.--I brought along the cross too. Here,
Gustav! Bring that there cross in! [_GUSTAV brings in a cross of cast
iron with an inscription on it._] Go an' put it down on that there box.

FIELITZ

[_Quickly._] No, never mind, Edward, that'll break.

RAUCHHAUPT

Then you c'n just lean it against the wall.

MRS. FIELITZ

So you got through with it at last. [_Calls out through the door._]
Leontine! You come down a minute!

RAUCHHAUPT

Trouble is I had so much to do. I'm buildin' a new hot house, you know.

MRS. FIELITZ

Another one, eh? Ain't that a man for you! You're a reg'lar mole,
Rauchhaupt. The way that man keeps diggin' around in the ground.

RAUCHHAUPT

A man feels best when he's doin' that. That's what we're all made
of--earth: an that's what we're all goin' to turn to again. Why shouldn't
we be diggin' around in the earth? [_He helps himself from the snuff-box
which FIELITZ holds out to him._] That's got a earthy smell, too,
Fielitz. That smells like good, fresh earth.

    _LEONTINE enters. A pair of scissors hangs by her side; she has a
    thimble on her finger._

LEONTINE

Here I am, mama. What's up?

MRS. FIELITZ

He just brought in papa his hephitaph.

    _LEONTINE and MRS. FIELITZ regard the cross thoughtfully._

MRS. FIELITZ

Light the candle for me, girl. [_She hands her the tallow-candle with
which she has been experimenting._] We wants to study the writin' a bit.

RAUCHHAUPT

I fooled around with that thing a whole lot. But I got it to please me in
the end. You c'n go an' look through the whole cemetery three times over
and you'll come away knowin' this is the finest inscription you c'n get.
I went an' convinced myself of that.

    [_He sits down on the low platform and fills his nose anew with
    snuff._

    _MRS. FIELITZ holds the lighted lamp and puzzles out the
    inscription._

MRS. FIELITZ

Here rests in ...

LEONTINE

[_Reading on._] In God.

RAUCHHAUPT

That's what I said: in God. I was goin' to write first: in the Lord. But
that's gettin' to be so common.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Reads on with trembling voice._] Here rests in God the unforgotten
carpenter ... [_Weeping aloud._] Oh, no, I tell you, it's too awful! That
man--he was the best man in the world, he was. A man like that, you c'n
take my word for it, you ain't likely to find no more these days.

LEONTINE

[_Reading on._] ... the unforgotten carpenter Mr. Julian Wolff ...

    [_She snivels._

FIELITZ

--Don't you be takin' on now, y'understand? No corpse ain't goin' to come
to life for all your howlin'. [_He hands the whiskey bottle to
RAUCHHAUPT._] Here, Edward, that'll do you good. Them goin's on don't.

    [_He gets up and brushes off his blue apron with the air of a man who
    has completed his day's work._

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Pointing with the bottle._] Them lines there I made up myself. I'll say
'em over for you; listen now:

  "The hearts of all to sin confess" ...

'Tain't everybody c'n do that neither!--

  "The hearts of all to sin confess,
  The beggar's and the king's no less.
  But this man's heart from year to year
  Was spotless and like water clear."

[_The women weep more copiously. He continues._] I gotta go over that
with white paint. An' this part here about God is goin' to be Prussian
blue.

    [_He drinks._

    _The smith LANGHEINRICH enters._

LANGHEINRICH

[_Regarding LEONTINE desirously._] Well now, look here, Rauchhaupt, old
man, I been lookin' for you half an hour! I thought I was to come an'
fetch you, you chucklehead.--Well, are you pleased with the job?

MRS. FIELITZ

Oh, go an' don't bother me, any of you! If a person loses a man like that
one, how's she goin' to get along with you jackasses afterwards!

FIELITZ

Come on, man, an' pull up a stool. You just let her get back to her right
mind.

LANGHEINRICH

[_With sly merriment._] That's right, I always said so myself: this here
dyin' is a invention of the devil.

MRS. FIELITZ

We was married for twenty years an' more. An' there wasn't so much as one
angry word between us. An' the way that man was honest. Not a penny,
no,--he never cheated any man of a penny in all his days. An' sober! He
didn't so much as know what whiskey was like. You could go an' put the
bottle before him an' he wouldn't look at it. An' the way he brought up
his children! What _d'you_ think about, but playin' cards and swillin'
liquor ...

LEONTINE

Gustav is poking out his tongue at me.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Takes hold of a cobbler's last and throws himself enragedly upon
GUSTAV, who has been making faces at LEONTINE and has poked out his
tongue at her.] You varmint! Ill break your bones!--That rotten crittur
is goin' to be the death o' me yet. I just gets so mad sometimes I think
it's goin' to be the death o' me.

LANGHEINRICH

The poor crittur ain't got his right senses.

RAUCHHAUPT

I wish to God the dam' brat was dead. I'll get so dam' wild some day, if
he ain't, that I'll go an' kill my own flesh an' blood.

FIELITZ

I'd go an' have him locked up in the asylum. Then you don't have the
worry of him no more. D'you want me to write out a petition for you?

RAUCHHAUPT

Don't I know all about petitions? What does they say then: he ain't
dangerous bein' at large.--The whole world ain't nothin' but a asylum. It
ain't dangerous, o' course, that he fires bricks at me, an' unscrews
locks and steals house keys--oh, no, that ain't considered dangerous. No,
an' it's all right for him to eat my tulip bulbs. I c'n just go ahead an'
do the best I can.

MRS. FIELITZ

How did that happen at Grabow's the other day--I mean when his inn the
"Prussian Eagle" burned down?

LANGHEINRICH

Aw, Grabow, he needed just that. It wasn't no Gustav that set that there
fire. He wasn't needed there.

MRS. FIELITZ

They say he's always playin' with matches.

RAUCHHAUPT

Gustav an' matches? Aw, that's all right. If he c'n just go an' hunt up
matches some place, trouble ain't very far off. You know I needs
coverin's for my hot house plants; so I built a kind of a shed. I stored
the straw in there. Well, I tell you, Mrs. Fielitz, that there idjit went
an' burned the shed down. It was bright day an' o' course nobody wasn't
thinkin', an' I got loose boards all over my lot. The shed crackled right
off. It wasn't more'n a puff! But Grabow--he took care o' his fire
hisself.

MRS. FIELITZ

I'd give notice about a thing like that, Rauchhaupt--I mean burnin' down
the shed.

RAUCHHAUPT

I don't get along so very well with Constable Schulze. That's often the
way with people in your own profession. I was honourably retired. He
don't like that. He ain't sooted with that. All right; all that may be
so. An' that I own my own lot, an' that my old woman died. Sure, it ain't
no use denyin' it! I made a few crowns outta all that. An' that my
gardenin' brings in somethin'--well, he don't like to see it. So then
it's easy to say: Rauchhaupt? He don't need no help. He c'n take care o'
hisself. An' that's the end of it.

MRS. FIELITZ

Fred Grabow, he's all right now!

LANGHEINRICH

[_Eagerly._] An' he's got me to thank for it. Only thing is, I pretty
near got into a dam' mess myself that time. You see, I'm captain of the
hook an' ladder. Well, I says to my boys, says I:--I don't know but I
must ha' had more'n I could carry. The whole crowd was pretty well
full!--Well, I says to my boys: Sail right in an' see that there ain't a
stone left standin', 'cause if there is, Grabow'll get one reduction of
insurance after another an' then the whole thing ain't no good to him. I
guess I hollered that out a bit too loud. So when I takes a step or two
backward I thinks all hell's broke loose, 'cause there stands Constable
Schulze an' stares at me. Your health, says I, your health,
captain!--Grabow, you know, was treatin' to beer!--An' then Schulze was
real sociable and took a drink with me.

MRS. FIELITZ

It's queer that nothin' don't come out there. That fellow ain't a bit
cute. How did he manage to do it?

LANGHEINRICH

Everybody likes Fritz Grabow.

MRS. FIELITZ

He ain't got sense enough to count up to three. An' anyhow he had to go
an' take oath.

RAUCHHAUPT

Takin' oath? Aw, that ain't so much! I'll just tell you how 'tis, 'cause
you never can't tell. Who knows about it? Anybody might have to do that
some day. All you do is to twist off one o' your breeches buttons while
you goes ahead and swears reel quiet. You just try it. That's easy as
slidin'.

    [_General laughter._

MRS. FIELITZ

He's got one o' his jokin' spells again. I won't have to go an' twist off
a button, I c'n tell you. Things can't get that way with me.--But tell me
this: whose turn is it goin' to be now? It's about time for somebody, you
know. Somethin's got to burn pretty soon now.

LANGHEINRICH

It could be most anybody. Things is lookin' pretty poor over at
Strombergers. The rain's comin' right down into his sittin' room,--Well,
good evenin'. A man's got to have his joke.

MRS. FIELITZ

But who's goin' to drink my hot toddy now?

FIELITZ

You stay right where you are!

LANGHEINRICH

Can't be done. I gotta be goin'. [_He puts an arm around LEONTINE, who
frees herself carelessly and with a contemptuous expression._]--If mother
don't hear my hammerin' downstairs she'll be swimmin' away in tears an'
the bed with her when I gets home.

LEONTINE

That's nothin' but jealousy, mama.

MRS. FIELITZ

Maybe it is, an' maybe she's got reason. You go on up to your work.--How
is the Missis?

LANGHEINRICH

Pretty low. What c'n you expect?

LEONTINE

You'll be drivin' me to work till I gets consumption.

MRS. FIELITZ

If you get consumption, it won't be your dress-makin' that's the cause of
it. You act as much like a ninny as if you was a man.

LANGHEINRICH

[_Putting his arms around MRS. FIELITZ._] Come now, young woman, don't be
so cross! Young people wants to have their fling--that's all. An' they'll
have it, if it's only with Constable Schulze.

    [_Exit._

MRS. FIELITZ

Now what's the meanin' o' that?

RAUCHHAUPT

Wait there a minute an' I'll join you.

    [_He gets up and motions to GUSTAV, who lifts the iron cross again._

MRS. FIELITZ

Why d'you go an' run off all of a sudden?

RAUCHHAUPT

I gotta go an' get rid o' some work.

    [_Exit with GUSTAV.

MRS. FIELITZ

What's the trouble with you an' Langheinrich again? You act like a
fool--that's what you do!

LEONTINE

There ain't no trouble. I want him to leave me alone.

MRS. FIELITZ

He'll be willin' to do that all right! If you're goin' to turn up your
nose an' wriggle around that way, you won't have to take much trouble to
get rid o' him. He don't need nothin' like that!

LEONTINE

But he's a married man.

MRS. FIELITZ

So he is. Let him be. You got no sense 'cause you was born a fool. You
got a baby and no husband; Adelaide's got a husband an' no baby.

    [_LEONTINE goes slowly out._

MRS. FIELITZ

If she'd only go an' take advantage o' her chances. There ain't no
tellin' how soon Langheinrich'll be a widower.

FIELITZ

I don't know's I like to see the way Constable Schulze runs after that
girl.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Sententiously._] You can't run your head through no stone walls. [_She
sits down, takes out a little notebook and turns its leaves._] You got a
office. All right. Why shouldn't you have? Things is _as_ they is. But
havin' a office you got to look out all around. You just let Constable
Schulze alone! Did you read the letter from Schmarowski?

FIELITZ

Aw, yes, sure. I got enough o' him all right. I wish somebody'd given me
the money--half the money--that feller's had the use of. But no: nobody
never paid no attention to me. Nobody sent me to no school o'
architecture.

MRS. FIELITZ

I'd like to know what you got against Schmarowski! You're pickin' at him
all the time.

FIELITZ

Hold on! Not me! He ain't no concern o' mine. But every time you open
your mouth I gets ready to bet ten pairs o' boots that you're goin' to
talk about Schmarowski.

MRS. FIELITZ

Did he do you any harm, eh? Well?

FIELITZ

No, I can't say as he has. Not that I know. An' I wouldn't advise him to
try neither. Only when I sees him I gets kind o' sick at my stomick. You
oughta have married him yourself.

MRS. FIELITZ

If I had been thirty years younger--sure enough.

FIELITZ

Well, why don't you go an' move over to your daughter then! Go right on!
Hurry all you can an' go to Adelaide's. Then they got hold of you good
and tight an' you c'n get rid o' your savin's.

MRS. FIELITZ

That's an ambitious man. He don't have to wait, for me; that's
sure!--there ain't no gettin' ahead with your kind. Instead o' you
fellows helpin' each other, you're always hittin' out at each other. Now
Schmarowski--he's a wide-awake kind o' man. No money ain't been wasted on
him. You needn't be scared: he'll make his way all right.--But if you
knew just a speck o' somethin' about life, you'd know what you'd be doin'
too.

FIELITZ

Me? How's that? Why me exactly?

MRS. FIELITZ

What was it that there bricklayer boss told me? I saw him one day when he
was full; they was just raisin' that church. He says: Schmarowski, says
he, that's a sly dog. An' he knew why he was sayin' that. Them plans o'
his takes 'em all in.

FIELITZ

I ain't got no objection to his takin' 'em in.

MRS. FIELITZ

He ain't the kind o' man to sit an' draw till he's blind an' let the
bricklayers get all the profit.

FIELITZ

Well, I ain't made the world.

MRS. FIELITZ

No, nor you ain't goin' to stop it neither.

FIELITZ

An' I don't want to.

MRS. FIELITZ

You ain't goin' to stop it, Fielitz--not the world an' not me. That's
settled.--

    [_She has said this in a slightly ironical way, yet with a half
    embarrassed laugh. She now puts away her little book excitedly._

FIELITZ

I can't get to understand reel straight. I'm always thinkin' there's
somethin' wrong with you.

MRS. FIELITZ

Maybe there was somethin' wrong with Grabow too, eh? I s'ppose that's the
reason he's livin' in his new house this day.--I wish there'd be
somethin' like that wrong with you onct in a while. But if somebody don't
pull an' poke at you, you'd grow fast to the stool you're sittin' on.

FIELITZ

[_With decision._] Mother, put that there thing outta your mind. I tell
you that in kindness now. I ain't goin' to lend my help to no such thing.
Because why? I knows what that means. Is I goin' to jump into that kind
of a mess again? No, I ain't young enough for that no more.

MRS. FIELITZ

Just because you're an old feller you oughta be thinkin' about it all the
more. How long are you goin' to be able to work along here. You don't get
around to much no more now. You cobbled around on Wehrhahn's shoes! It
took more'n two weeks.

FIELITZ

Well, mother, you needn't lie that way.

MRS. FIELITZ

That cobblin' o' yours--that ain't worth a damn. I ain't much good no
more an' you ain't. That's a fact. I don't excep' myself at all. An' if
people like us don't go an' get somethin' they c'n fall back on, they got
to go beggin' in the end anyhow. You c'n kick against that all you want
to.

FIELITZ

It's a queer thing about you, mother. It's just like as if the devil
hisself got a hold o' you. First it just sort o' peeps up, an' God knows
where it comes from. Sometimes it's there an' sometimes it's gone. An'
then it'll come back again sudden like an' then it gets hold o' you an'
don't let you go no more. I've known some tough customers in my time,
mother, but when you gets took that way--then I tell you, you makes the
cold shivers run down my back.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Has taken out her notebook again and become absorbed in it._] What did
you think about all this? We're insured here for seven thousand.

FIELITZ

What I thought? I didn't think nothin'.

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, there ain't any value to this place excep' what's in the lot
itself.

FIELITZ

[_Gets up and puts on his coat._] You just leave me alone, y'understand?

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, ain't it true? You just stop your foolin'. I seen that long ago,
before we was ever married. Schmarowski told me that ten times over, that
this here is the proper place for a big house. An' anybody as has any
sense c'n see that it's so. Now just look for yourself: over there,
that's the drug shop! An' a bit across the way to the left is the post
office. An' then a little ways on is the baker an' he's built hisself a
nice new shop. Four noo villas has gone up and if, some day, we gets the
tramway out here--we'll be right in the midst o' things.

FIELITZ

[_About to go._] Good evenin'.

MRS. FIELITZ

Are you goin' out this time o' day?

FIELITZ

Yes, 'cause I can't stand that no more.--If I'd known the kind of a
crittur you are ... only I didn't know nothin' about it ... I'd ha'
thought this here marryin' over a good bit--yes, a good bit.

MRS. FIELITZ

You? Is that what you'd ha' thought over, eh?

FIELITZ

Is I goin' to let myself be put up to things like that?...

MRS. FIELITZ

A whole lot o' thinkin' over you'd ha' done! You ain't done any thinkin'
all the days o' your life. A great donkey like you ... an' thinkin'.
Well! A fine mess would come of it if you took to thinkin'.

FIELITZ

Mother, I axes you to consider that ...

MRS. FIELITZ

Put you up? To what? What is I puttin' you up to?--This here old shed is
goin' to burn down sometime. It's goin' to burn down one time or 'nother,
if it don't first come topplin' down over our heads. It's squeezed in
here between the other houses in a way to make a person feel ashamed, if
he looks at it.

FIELITZ

Mother, I axes you to consider ...

MRS. FIELITZ

Aw, I wish you'd clear out o' the front door this minute! I'm goin' to
pack up my things pretty soon too. An' you c'n go over to the justice for
all I care. I been puttin' you up to things, you know!

FIELITZ

Mother, I axes you to consider that ... Look out that you don't go an'
get a black eye! 'Cause I, if I ...

MRS. FIELITZ

[_With a gesture as though about to push him out._] Get out! Just get
out! It'll be good riddance! The sooner the better! What are you dawdlin'
for?

FIELITZ

[_Beside himself._] Mother, I'll hit you one across the ... You're goin'
to put me out, eh? What? Outta my shop? Is this here your shop? I'll
learn you! Just wait!

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, I'm waitin'. Why don't you start? You're that kind of a man, are
you? Come right on! Come on now! You got the courage! I'll hold my breath
or maybe I'd blow you right into Berlin.

FIELITZ

[_Hurls a boot against the wall in his impotent rage._] I'll break every
stick in this here shop! To hell with the whole business: that's what I
says! I must ha' been just ravin' mad! There I goes an' burdens myself
with a devil of a woman like that, an' I might ha' lived as comfortable
as can be! She killed off one husband an' now I'm dam' idjit enough, to
take his place! But you're goin' to find out! It ain't goin' to be so
easy this time! I'll first kick you out before I'll let you get the best
o' me! Not me! No, sir! You c'n believe that!

MRS. FIELITZ

You needn't exert yourself that much, Fielitz ...

FIELITZ

Not me! Not me! You c'n depend on that! You ain't agoin' to down me! You
c'n take my word for it.

    [_He sits down, exhausted._

MRS. FIELITZ

Maybe you might like throwin' some more boots. There's plenty of 'em
around here--I s'ppose you married me for love, eh?

FIELITZ

God knows why I did!

MRS. FIELITZ

If you'll go an' study it out, maybe you'll know why. Maybe it was out o'
pity? Eh? Maybe not.--Or maybe it was the money I had loaned out?--Well,
you see! I s'ppose that was it.--You c'n live a hundred years for my
part! But it's always the same thing. 'Twasn't much different with Julius
neither. If things had gone his way, I wouldn't have nothin' saved this
day neither. The trouble is a person is too good to you fellers.

FIELITZ

An' outta goodness you want me to go an' take a match an' set fire to the
roof over my head?

MRS. FIELITZ

You knew that you'd have to go an' build. I said that to myself right
off, an' buildin' costs money. There ain't no gettin' away from that
fact. An' the few pennies we has ain't more'n a beginnin'. If we had what
you might call a real house here ... Schmarowski, he'd build us one
that'd make all the others look like nothin' ... you could have a fine
shop here. We might put a few hundred dollars into it an' sell factory
shoes. If you'd want to take in repairing you could get a journeyman an'
put him here. An' if you wanted to go an' make some new shoes yourself,
you could take the time for all I care.

FIELITZ

I don't know! I s'ppose I ain't got sense enough for them things. I
thought I'd get hold o' a bit o' money ... I thought I'd be able to lay
out a bit o' money! Buildin' a little annex of a shop--that's good fun. I
thought it all out to myself like--with nice shelves and things like that
... an' I planned to hang up a big clock an' such. An' now you sit on
your money bag like an old watch dog.

MRS. FIELITZ

That money--it ain't to be thrown away so easy. 'Twas earned too bitter
hard for that.

FIELITZ

... You forgets that I've been in trouble before. Is I to go an' get
locked up again?

MRS. FIELITZ

Never mind, Fielitz, to-morrow is another day. A person mustn't go an'
take things that serious! I was more'n half jokin' anyhow.--Go over to
Grabow's an' drink a glass o' beer!... We must all be satisfied's best we
can. An' even if you can't go an' open a shoe shop, an' even if you gotta
worry along cobblin' an' can't buy no clock--well, a good conscience is
worth somethin' too.

THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE SECOND ACT


    _The smithy of LANGHEINRICH. The little house protrudes at an angle
    into the village street. The shed that projects over the smithy is
    supported by wooden posts. The empty space below the shed is used for
    the storage of tools and materials. Wheels are leaned against the
    wood, a plough, wheel-tyres, pieces of pig iron, etc. An anvil stands
    in the open, too, and several working stools. From behind the house,
    jutting out diagonally, a wooden wagon is visible. The left front
    wheel has been taken off and a windlass supports the axle._

    _Through the door that leads to the shop one sees smithy fires and
    bellows._

    _Opposite the smithy, on the left side of the village street which,
    taking a turn, is lost to view in the background, there is a board
    fence. A small locked gate opens upon the street._

    _A cloudy, windy day._

    _DR. BOXER, in a slouch hat and light overcoat, stands holding a
    heavy smith's hammer at arm's length. EDE has a horseshoe in his
    right hand, a smaller hammer in his left, and is looking on._

EDE

[_Counts._] ... twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four an' one makes
twenty-five an' another makes twenty-six.--Great guns, you're ahead o' me
now. An' twenty-seven, an' twenty-eight, an' twenty-nine an' thirty. My
respects, Doctor. That's all right. Is that the effect o' the sea air?

DR. BOXER

It may be. You see I haven't quite forgotten the trick.

EDE

No, you haven't. That's pretty good. Now let's try it with weights,
though. I c'n hold up a hundred an' fifty pounds, Doctor. How about
yourself?

DR. BOXER

I don't know. It remains to be seen.

EDE

What? You think you c'n lift a hundred weight an' a half? You're a little
bit of a giant, ain't you? You didn't learn that on board ship. I thought
you travelled as a sawbones an' not as a strong man!--Look at that little
man over there goin' into Mrs. Fielitz' house. That's her son-in-law.

DR. BOXER

He looks very much like a bishop.

EDE

Right enough! That's what he is--Bishop Schmarowski.--You c'n knock! The
old woman's out and she took her cobbler with her. There won't be nothin'
to get there to-day.--You see, Doctor, when that fellow goes there he
wants money. If he weren't hard up he wouldn't come.

DR. BOXER

The Fielitzes went in to Berlin to-day; I met them this morning at the
railway station. Tell me: _he_ isn't quite right in his mind, is he?

EDE

How so? That wasn't never noticed. He's a pretty keen fellow ... No, I
couldn't say that _he's_ crazy.

DR. BOXER

He talked a mixture of idiotic nonsense and looked away from me while he
was talking. The fellow looked like an evil conscience personified. But I
don't suppose he has a conscience.

EDE

By the way: that time they came down on you an' made a search in your
house--that fellow Fielitz had his hand in it. He helped get you into
that pickle.

    [_MRS. SCHULZE puts her head out at the attic window._

MRS. SCHULZE

Ede!

EDE

What?

MRS. SCHULZE

Ain't Mr. Langheinrich back yet?

EDE

Well, o' course he is, naturally. [_MRS. SCHULZE disappears and EDE
withdraws under the shed._] Quick! Take this hammer, will you, Doctor,
an' hammer away a bit. If you kept up your strength the way you have, you
ain't forgot about that neither.

DR. BOXER

I went at locksmith's work like the deuce when there was nothing to do on
board ship. That gave me a very good chance.

EDE

You're a doctor an' you're a smith an' ... I guess you're a sausage maker
too!

DR. BOXER

I even made sausages once.

EDE

Nobody didn't want to eat them, I guess.

DR. BOXER

I wouldn't have advised any one to do so either. The sausages were mainly
filled with arsenic. The rats scarcely left us space to turn around in.

EDE

[_About to set to work._] Ugh! That wouldn't be no kind o' sausage for
me. Come now, Doctor, go at it! We wants the missis to think that two
people is workin' here or she'll never stop axin' questions.

DR. BOXER

Where did Langheinrich go so early?

EDE

That's a secret all right--the kind o' secret that all the sparrows on
the gutters is chirpin'.--Doctor, roll that wheel over here, will you?
You got a chance now to deserve well, as they says, o' the Prussian
state, 'cause this here waggon belongs to the government forester.--That
sort o' thing can't do you no harm.

DR. BOXER

No. And anyhow I ought to stand in with people.

    [_He rolls the wheel slowly along; it escapes him and glides
    backwards._

EDE

That ain't so easy. Them people has long memories. [_He catches the
wheel._] Hold on there! No goin' backward! I'm for progress, I am,
Doctor! I'm willin' to fight for that!

DR. BOXER

But you must be careful of your fingers. [_He puts on a leathern apron._]
Is Langheinrich going to be gone long?

EDE

[_Whistles._] That depends on how hard it is!

DR. BOXER

Why do you whistle so significantly?

EDE

That's a gift o' my family. All my eleven brothers an' sisters is
musicians. I'm the only one that's a smith. [_For a space both work at
the wheel in silence. Then EDE continues._] 'Twouldn't be a bad stage
play, I tell you. You wouldn't have to be scared o' riskin' somethin' on
that. You'd make money! That's somethin' fine--specially for young
people! You been away here a good long while, that's the reason you don't
know what's what. I could tell you a few little things that happen around
here in bright daylight.--D'you know that Leontine?

DR. BOXER

Very sorry indeed, but I don't.

EDE

No? An' then you pretend that this is your home an' don't know that girl.
Somethin' wrong with you!

DR. BOXER

Oh, yes, yes, Leontine! Mrs. Wolff's daughter! I once got the deuce of a
flogging on her account.

EDE

Well, I wish you'd ha' been here two hours ago. Well, first of all that
same girl slouched by here ... No! First of all her mother an' father
went away ...'twasn't more'n dawn yet! Then Leontine at about eight. She
looked all around an' waited an' made lovin' eyes in this direction an'
then walked by. You should ha' seen Langheinrich. "Sweetheart, where are
you goin'?"--Then, after a while comes Constable Schulze and goes after
her.--That was too much for Langheinrich. Off with his apron an' there he
goes, quick 's a stag. That's the way it was. You could ha' observed
that: the rest ain't to be observed.--There's Langheinrich hurryin' back
now. [_He at once sets zealously to work and pretends to discover
LANGHEINRICH, who is approaching hastily and vigorously at this moment._]
Well, at last! Good thing you're here! No end o' askin' after you. Did
you catch her?

LANGHEINRICH

[_Brusquely._] Catch what?

EDE

I meant the 'bus.

LANGHEINRICH

Hold your...! I had business to attend to.--Well now, I'll give a dollar
if this here ain't Dr. Boxer! Why, how are you? How are things goin'? An'
what are you doin' nowadays? Did your ship come in? You been away
now--lemme see--that must be three years, eh? Sure. That's ... well, time
passes.

DR. BOXER

I want to settle down here, Langheinrich. That is to say, I have that
intention if it's possible. I should like to try my luck at home for a
change.

LANGHEINRICH

Things is best at home, that's right. O' course, there's one here now, a
doctor I mean, but he ain't good for much. They say somethin' queer
happened to him onct--got his ears boxed too hard or somethin'. An' they
say that made him kind o' melancholious. That ain't much good for his
patients! No sick man can't get well through that. I'll send for you,
Doctor, if I need help.

DR. BOXER

I'll extract my first dozen wisdom teeth free of charge. So you'll be
glad if you don't need me soon.

LANGHEINRICH

Well, I ... fact is ... my wife is sick.

    _MRS. SCHULZE comes hurriedly from the house._

MRS. SCHULZE

It's a mighty good thing that you're here. D'you hear? That whimperin'
goes right on.

LANGHEINRICH

Doctor, I'm goin' to ax you somethin' now: d'you know any cure for
jealousy? You see, it's this way: We had a baby, an' I'd be lyin' if I
said I wasn't mighty well pleased. An' why shouldn't I be? But now my
wife is sick. She can't get up an' she don't want me to budge from the
side o' her bed. She screams an' she scolds an' she reproaches me.
Sometimes I reely don't know what to do no more.

MRS. SCHULZE

You better go upstairs a bit first.

EDE

Do give him a chance to get his breath!

LANGHEINRICH

Oh, pshaw! Never you mind! I c'n attend to that right off.

    [_After he has taken off his hat and coat and slipped on wooden shoes
    he hurries into the house._

EDE

Well, what d'you think o' that?

DR. BOXER

He's a cheerful soul--more so, if possible, than he used to be. It does
one good to find a man that way.

EDE

Only that I axed after Leontine, that riled him more'n a little bit all
right.

MRS. SCHULZE

[_To EDE, watchfully:_] Where was the boss so early this mornin'?

EDE

In Lichtenberg, attendin' a dance.

MRS. SCHULZE

The treatment that woman's gettin' is all wrong, Doctor. I don't mix in
what don't concern me. But the way she's treated, that ain't no kind o'
treatment, I c'n tell you. I told that Majunke man too that the missis
was goin' to the dogs this way.

DR. BOXER

But Dr. Majunke is very capable. I know him to be an excellent physician.

MRS. SCHULZE

[_Interrupting._] Sure, sure, an' that's true. 'Course he's capable.
That's right, an' so he is. But, you see, he just won't prescribe nothin'
...

DR. BOXER

What should he prescribe? Let the people save their money.

MRS. SCHULZE

But that's just what people don't want to do. It's like this: medicine's
got to be. If there ain't none they says: how c'n the doctor help us?

DR. BOXER

Mrs. Langheinrich never was strong. Even years ago when she used to sew
for us ...

MRS. SCHULZE

That's the way it is. She's a little bit humpbacked; that's right. That's
the way women is, though, Doctor! A seamstress--that's what she was...!
She sewed an' she sewed and saved up a little money...! An' what kind of
a bargain is it she's got now. A handsome feller an' sickness an' worry
an' no rest no more by day or night.

    _LANGHEINRICH returns from the house._

LANGHEINRICH

[_Tapping MRS. SCHULZE'S shoulder somewhat roughly._] Hurry now! Go on
up! It's all arranged an' settled. To-morrow I'm goin' to take her to the
clinic.

MRS. SCHULZE

That ain't goin' to be no easy work!

LANGHEINRICH

[_Lifts a great can of water to his mouth._] I can't help that. Things is
as they is. [_He takes an enormously long draught from the tin can.
Putting it down:_] Ede, drive them ducks away!

EDE

[_Acting as though he were driving away ducks, flaps his leathern apron
and rattles his wooden shoes._] Shoo! Shoo! Shoo! Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!

    _MRS. SCHULZE retires into the house, shaking her head._

LANGHEINRICH

Them ducks is your regular fire eaters. There don't need nothin' but for
some sparks to fly off an', right straight off, they gobbles 'em down.
Then we gets what you might call roast duck that never meant to be
roasted. An' my old woman she ain't no friend o' that.

    _RAUCHHAUPT looks over the fence to the left._

LANGHEINRICH

There's been a big fire again over there behind Landsberg. All the houses
on a great estate is ashes.

RAUCHHAUPT

Did you maybe see Gustav anywhere?

LANGHEINRICH

Mornin', old boy! No, not me! Has he gone an' run off again?

RAUCHHAUPT

I ordered him to go over to the Fielitzes.

LANGHEINRICH

The Fielitzes have all gone in to town.

RAUCHHAUPT

I don't know, but there's a kind o' burned smell in the air ... Ouch!
[_He distorts his face in pain and grasps his leg._] Ain't Leontine here?

LANGHEINRICH

Naw, she had to go to court to-day. Always the same trouble with the
alimony. That confounded feller, he don't pay.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Calls out._] Gustav! [_He listens and then turns leisurely back to the
little gate. The wind worries and drives him._] Gustav!

LANGHEINRICH

Stiff wind coming up, all right! [_RAUCHHAUPT disappears._] Ede!

EDE

All right.

LANGHEINRICH

Let's get to work now! [_He spits into his hands and sets to work
vigorously._] Well, Doctor, where've you been runnin' about? Did you get
as far as the Chinese? You gotta tell us all about that some day when we
got plenty o' time for it.

DR. BOXER

Surely, I've been all over.

LANGHEINRICH

Did you see the sea-serpent too?

Da. BOXER

Surely, Langheinrich, far down in the South Seas.

LANGHEINRICH

An' it's true that it feeds on dill pickles?

DR. BOXER

Several hundred dozen a day.

LANGHEINRICH

[_Laughing._] That's all right then. An' when, you see that serpent
again, just give her my best regards.

DR. BOXER

I doubt whether I'll ever get so far again in life.

LANGHEINRICH

I guess you got all you wanted o' that? Now you see. Doctor, you just got
to the point where I am exactly an' I didn't have to move from this
spot.--Well, I guess your old mother, she'll be glad. She's gettin' along
all right. Doin' reel well. I always looked in a bit now an' then,
helpin' to see that things was all right.

DR. BOXER

And that was very good in you, Langheinrich.

LANGHEINRICH

Naw! Pshaw! I ain't sayin' it on that account. By the way, though, before
I forget. I got a little account standin' with your good mother--for
taffeta an' silk an' needles an' thread. Some cloth, too. My wife used
'em sewing. I'll straighten that up very soon.

DR. BOXER

[_Deprecatingly._] Never mind. That matter will be arranged.

LANGHEINRICH

Ede!

EDE

All right?

LANGHEINRICH

Hurry along now! [_He takes up a heavy hammer._] If I don't go right on
workin' I'll end by bustin' out o' my skin.

    _EDE approaches with a white hot piece of iron in the tongs and holds
    it on the anvil._

LANGHEINRICH

Now we're goin' to start, Doctor! Down on it! Hit it now! [_He and DR.
BOXER beat the iron, keeping time with each other._] Well, you see! It's
got to go evenly. Doctor! Then I tell you the work's smooth as butter.

    [_They stop hammering; EDE takes up the iron again, takes it into the
    smithy and holds it into the flame._

LANGHEINRICH

[_Takes up the water can again and sets it to his lips._] There ain't
much to this!

    [_Drinks._

EDE

Things like that makes you thirsty.

    _LANGHEINRICH puts the can down._

LANGHEINRICH

You c'n believe me, Doctor: it was fine anyhow.

DR. BOXER

What was it that was go very fine?

LANGHEINRICH

Lord! I don't know! I don't know nothin' much. But when I met Constable
Schulze I had a devil of a good time--that's what!

EDE

An' now a glass o' beer from Grabow over there. That's what I could stand
fine just now.

LANGHEINRICH

Hurry! Get three steins! Dr. Boxer will pay for 'em.

    _EDE wipes his hands on his apron and goes._

LANGHEINRICH

An' so you want to settle down here now! That ain't no bad idea neither.
Only this: you got to be up to all kinds o' tricks here. An' if you want
my advice, Doctor, don't go to people for nothin'.

DR. BOXER

Do you think that I'll be unmolested in other respects?

LANGHEINRICH

Aw, them old stories! Them's all outlawed by now. An' then, nowadays they
can't worry people so much no more as they used to do under the old laws.

DR. BOXER

Well, at all events I'll make the attempt ... My political ardour has
cooled off. If these people annoy me in spite of that, I'll simply trudge
off again. I'll go back to sea, or I'll let myself be engaged ...

LANGHEINRICH

Pretty easy drownin' on water!

DR. BOXER

[_Continuing._] ... Then I'll let myself be engaged to go to Brazil with
the Russian Jews.

LANGHEINRICH

What would you get out o' that?

DR. BOXER

Yellow fever, perhaps.

LANGHEINRICH

Anything else. Doctor? That wouldn't be nothin' for me!

DR. BOXER

I believe that.

LANGHEINRICH

Me go an' wear myself out for other people? Not me! No, sir! I don't do
nothin' like that. An' why should I? Nobody don't give me nothin'. I tell
you people in this world is a pretty sly set. I've had time to find that
out.

DR. BOXER

You're a regular heathen: you're not a Christian at all!

LANGHEINRICH

That kind o' talk don't do much good with me. I'm a Christian just like
all the rest is! The people that sit in the new church here ... 'cause
they built a new church here now!... if them is Christians, the Lord
forgive 'em.

DR. BOXER

That's easily said, Langheinrich. But one ought not to be a Pharisee.
Where is your Christian long-suffering?

LANGHEINRICH

No, I ain't goin' in for long-sufferin'. I'm a sinner myself; that's true
all right. But now you take this Dalchow here for instance! It'd take the
devil to be long-sufferin' where _he's_ concerned! What did he do with
that son o' his. He kicked him out, that's what, by night, in winter.
Then he tied him up and beat him till he couldn't gasp. An' then he
apprenticed the little feller to a butcher so that he had to drive out
the sheep! An' all the time jabbin' at him an' overworkin' him till in
the end the poor little crittur went an' drowned hisself in the lake.
Just shook his head an' kept still an' then dived down an' that was the
end.

DR. BOXER

[_Ironically._] I don't see what you've got against Dalchow,
Langheinrich? He's a man who seems to understand his business
magnificently.

LANGHEINRICH

Yes, ruinin' girls an' that sort o' thing, that's what. An' then beatin'
his hat around their heads an' sayin': Out with the low strumpet! That's
what they is all of a sudden when it's he that made 'em--_what_ they
is!--Oh, an' then he's a great friend o' Wehrhahn's an' grunts out like a
swine in public meetin's: There ain't no more morality these days ... an'
there ought to be laws against such doin's ... an' so on, an' so on ...
an' if you'd like to go to church, there the old rotten sinner sits an'
turns up his eyes. [_A distant ringing of church bells if heard._] Listen
to that! The sparrow is singin'.--I always calls that the sparrow,
Doctor. I always says: the sparrow sings. I mean when them bells is
ringin'. An' ain't I right that it's the sparrow that sings? 'Cause since
Wehrhahn got that bird in his buttonhole them bells has begun to ring.
An' if the bells didn't go an' ring, why he wouldn't have no decoration
neither.

    _EDE comes in grinning and carrying three steins of beer._

EDE

Oho, listen there, the sparrow is singin'.

LANGHEINRICH

Well, you see, he don't call it nothin' else no more. [_Each of the three
holds a stein. They knock them together._] Your health! An' welcome back
to the old country! [_They drink._] That's a fine evenin' this mornin'.
I'd like to see this night by day.

DR. BOXER

Now I'm goin' to blaspheme a bit. I'm not opposed to the building of
churches at all.

LANGHEINRICH

An' I ain't neither. People gets work! I didn't get any this time,
though. An' even if there's a little trouble now an' then, Pastor
Friderici an' a bit o' nonsense with coloured windows an' altar
cloths--that don't do no harm. People has to have a little.

DR. BOXER

Yes, those people are entitled to cultivate their own pleasures. And
then, Langheinrich, a higher principle has to be represented somehow.

LANGHEINRICH

Sure, an' it brings people out here too, you c'n believe me. Buildin'
lots has gone up considerable.

EDE

That's so. An' there was a man onct that didn't have no roof over his
head ... No, that ain't the way to begin what I want to say.--I was onct
out on the heath--far out. All of a sudden: what d'you think I heard,
Doctor! I heard a dickens of a screechin'.--I goes up to it. Crows! Yes,
sir. There was a feller hangin' high up in a pine tree--tailor's
journeyman from over in Berkenbruck: he hanged hisself on account o'
starvation--hanged hisself high up.--Yes, there's always got to be
somethin' higher!

    [_While they finish drinking their beer the long-drawn cries of pain
    of a man's voice are heard from some distance. The wind has risen
    considerably._

DR. BOXER

What is that?

EDE

Rauchhaupt. Nothin' to worry about.

LANGHEINRICH

Sounds kind o' gruesome, don't it? 'Tain't nothin' very lovely neither.
When that feller's pains in his leg gets hold o' him an' he roars out
that way o' nights--that goes right through an' through any one. No,
before I'd stand pain like that I'd go an' put a bullet through my head.

EDE

Gee-rusalem! That's a wind again. Look out, Doctor, that your hat don't
fly away.

    _A hat is whirled by the wind along the street. SCHMAROWSKI, hatless,
    a roll of paper in his hand, runs chasing it._

EDE

Run along, sonny! Right on there! Show us what you c'n do!

DR. BOXER

That hat is tired of his position: wants a holiday.

SCHMAROWSKI

[_Who has recovered his hat, turns angrily to DR. BOXER._] What was that
very appropriate remark you made just now?

DR. BOXER

That you are an excellent runner.

SCHMAROWSKI

Schmarowski!

DR. BOXER

Boxer!

SCHMAROWSKI

Much pleased.--Now I'd like to ask you a question. Do you know what a
fathead is?

DR. BOXER

No.

SCHMAROWSKI

You don't? Neither do I. But now tell me: you know what a _schlemihl_ is,
I suppose.

LANGHEINRICH

Nothin' broke loose here? What's all this about? Easy now, easy! Howdy
do, Mr. Schmarowski? How are you? Have you come to visit your
mother-in-law?

SCHMAROWSKI

I have business here!--And before I forget it, I should like to say: Have
the goodness to be more careful.

DR. BOXER

Who is this amusing gentleman, Langheinrich?

EDE

That's Mrs. Wolff's son-in-law.

SCHMAROWSKI

I'll have no dealings with you at all.

EDE

Naw, you better not.

SCHMAROWSKI

Not with you--[_Turning to DR. BOXER._] But if you don't know who I am,
you can get information from Baron von Wehrhahn, the Right Reverend
Bishop, the Baroness Bielschewski and the Countess Strach.

DR. BOXER

You want me to go around and get information from all those people?

SCHMAROWSKI

That's what you're to do--just that an' nothing else. Then maybe you can
be more careful in future an' look people over before you talk.

LANGHEINRICH

What's gotten into you to-day? You're so dam' touchy!

SCHMAROWSKI

[_To DR. BOXER, who has glanced at EDE and LANGHEINRICH alternately with
serene laughter._] You just be so good an' be more careful: we ain't so
soft. We don't take jokes so easy, especially not from the race to which
you ...

LANGHEINRICH

Hold on, Mr. Schmarowski! That's enough! Nothin' like that here. That's
enough an' too much, Mr. Schmarowski. You just see about gettin' along on
your way now.

SCHMAROWSKI

Do you know where I am going straight from here?

LANGHEINRICH

You c'n go straight ahead to the Lord hisself! You c'n go where you want
to, Schmarowski; only, don't be keepin' me from my work. We ain't got no
time to lose here!--Ede, put that axle in!

    _SCHMAROWSKI exit, enraged._

EDE

Good-bye!

DR. BOXER

So that was Mr. Schmarowski, the envied pillar of the church? Why, he's a
poisonous little devil!

LANGHEINRICH

Yes, you're right there! Pois'nous is what he is. So you didn't, know
him, Dr. Boxer? Well, then you've seen him now--nothin' but a little,
sly, venomous pup! But you ought to go an' watch him when he gets in with
that pious crowd. Then he lets his ears hang, so 'umble his own mother
wouldn't hardly know him, like as if he was sayin': I ain't goin' to live
more'n two weeks at--most an' then I'm goin' to heaven to be with Jesus.
Yes! Likely! There's another place where he's goin'. But that won't be
soon. He ain't thinkin' of it much yet. An' in the meantime he rolls his
eyes upward 'cause somethin' might be hangin' round that he c'n make a
profit on.

EDE

Well, you c'n look out now! Yon ain't goin' to get no work on the new
institution.

LANGHEINRICH

I know that. Can't be helped. Things is as they is. Can't hold' my tongue
at things like that. I won't learn that in a lifetime.

DR. BOXER

Have you many of that kind hereabouts now?

LANGHEINRICH

So, so. Enough to last for the winter.

    _RAUCHHAUPT has come out of the little gate. He faces the wind,
    shades his eyes with his hand and peers around._

RAUCHHAUPT

Lord A'mighty! Well, well! Things is goin' the queerest way to-day! When
is they comin' back--them Fielitzes?

LANGHEINRICH

That ain't goin' to be so very soon to-day. They've gone to buy a
seven-day clock, a regulator. What are you upset about to-day?

RAUCHHAUPT

Wha'? Fielitz goin' to buy that kind of a clock? I don't believe's he c'n
survive that. [_Calls._] Gustav!

LANGHEINRICH

Ain't he come back yet? I guess he's listenin' to the bells. You know how
he sits an' listens when they ring.

RAUCHHAUPT

I don't know. Things is goin' queer to-day. Mrs. Fielitz sent for him to
come over. Horseradish seed is what she said she wanted. An' then she
goes an' leaves for the city.

    [_Exit, shaking his head._

EDE

They been stalkin' about since four o'clock in the mornin'. Up an' down
they went with their bull's-eye lantern. I don't believe they went to bed
at all.

LANGHEINRICH

Well, if Fielitz has gone to buy a clock you can't expect him to eat or
drink or sleep.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Behind the fence._] Gustav!

DR. BOXER

The boy is coming now, running along.

LANGHEINRICH

That's right. Rauchhaupt! Here's Gustav!

    _GUSTAV comes prancing up, highly excited, gesticulating violently.
    He points in the direction from which he has come._

EDE

Is that there a war dance you're tryin' to perform? Looks like the
cannibals' goin's on. I believe that brat feeds on human flesh.

LANGHEINRICH

Hurry now an' run to your father.

EDE

Go on now!

LANGHEINRICH

Get along with your horse-radish.

    _GUSTAV gesticulating, puts his hollow hand to his mouth and toots in
    imitation of a trumpet. Laughter._

EDE

Where's the fire, you little firebrand?

LANGHEINRICH

Ede, catch hold o' him!

EDE

All right. [_He tries to creep up to GUSTAV. The latter observes this,
gives a loud toot and, still tooting, hurries away, dropping a box of
matches as he does so._] Hallo!

LANGHEINRICH

What's that?

EDE

Just what I need.

LANGHEINRICH

What?

EDE

Safetys! A whole box full.

    _MRS. SCHULZE comes rushing down the stairs._

MRS. SCHULZE

Mr. Langheinrich!

LANGHEINRICH

Well, what?

MRS. SCHULZE

Mr. Langheinrich!

LANGHEINRICH

Here I is!

MRS. SCHULZE

It's ... it's ... it's ... over at ...

LANGHEINRICH

Anything about the missis?

MRS. SCHULZE

No, at Fielitzes'.

LANGHEINRICH

Is that so? Nothin' about my wife? Well, then,--[_he shakes her_]--just
stop to get your breath. Things is as they is. I'm prepared for
anythin'--life an' death. I gotta stand it.

MRS. SCHULZE

The engine!

LANGHEINRICH

What kind o' talk is that? Anythin' wrong with you?

MRS. SCHULZE

No; it's burnin'!

LANGHEINRICH

Go an' blow it out then!--Where is it burnin'!

MRS. SCHULZE

At the Fielitzes'!

LANGHEINRICH

Good Lord! That ain't possible!

    [_He drops the iron file and some nails which he has been holding._

EDE

Where's the fire?

MRS. SCHULZE

At Fielitzes'; the flame is comin' out o' the skylight.

DR. BOXER

[_Has stepped forward._] Confound it all, but it's smoky! Come here! You
can see it well from here.

EDE

[_Also stares in the direction of the fire. His expression shows that a
complete understanding of the situation has come to him, which he
expresses by a conscious whistling._] There ain't no words for this; I
just gotta whistle.

LANGHEINRICH

Ede! Run over to Scheibler's! Run! Get the horses for the engine! That
smoke's comin' up thick over the gable.

    [_He rushes into the smithy, throws his apron aside, puts on a
    fireman's helmet, belt, etc._

MRS. SCHULZE

An' nobody at home there, goodness gracious!

DR. BOXER

That's the lucky part of it, after all.

    _The roaring of the fire alarm trumpet is heard._

MRS. SCHULZE

You hear, Doctor? They're tootin' already!

LANGHEINRICH

[_Reappears in his fireman's uniform._] You get out o' the way here, old
lady. Go an' attend to things upstairs. Nothin' to be done here with a
syringe. You go up to my wife. Hold on! We gotta have the key to the
engine house. The devil!

    _MRS. SCHULZE withdraws into the house. RAUCHHAUPT'S head reappears
    on the other side of the fence._

RAUCHHAUPT

My, but there's a smell o' burnin' in the air.

LANGHEINRICH

Sure it smells that way. There's a fire at the Fielitzes'.

RAUCHHAUPT

The devil! I didn't know nothin' about that!

LANGHEINRICH

That's all right, old man. Wasn't you a constable onct?

    [_He rushes away._

    _A fourteen-year-old boy comes madly hurrying up._

THE BOY

[_To DR. BOXER._] Master! The key to the engine house! They can't get in
to the engine.

DR. BOXER

I'm not the fireman! Just keep cool!

THE BOY

They wants you to come to the engine right off.

DR. BOXER

You didn't hear what I told you.

THE BOY

There's a fire!

DR. BOXER

I know that. The engine master has left. He's reached the engine long
ago.

THE BOY

There's a fire. They wants you to come down to the engine!

    [_He runs away._

    _RAUCHHAUPT appears at the gate. Two LITTLE GIRLS cling to his rags._

RAUCHHAUPT

I'm used to that! It don't excite me a bit! Mieze! Lottie! You c'n come
an' see somethin'.--I seen hundreds an' hundreds o' fires,

DR. BOXER

[_Takes off the leathern apron._] It's a very sad thing for those people,
though!

RAUCHHAUPT

Everythin' is sad in this here world. It's all a question o' how you
looks at it! The same thing that's sad c'n be mighty cheerin'. Now
there's me: I raises pineapples, an' my hothouse wall ... it's right up
against Fielitzes' back wall. Now I won't have to keep no fire goin' for
three days.

    _A somewhat OLDER GIRL also comes out through the gate and nestles
    close up to the others. MRS. SCHULZE leans out from the window in the
    gable._

MRS. SCHULZE

[_Addressing someone in the room behind her._] Missis, you c'n be reel
quiet! The wind's blowin' from the other side.

    [_She disappears._

RAUCHHAUPT

Did you see that there old witch? She always knows where the wind comes
from.--I retired from all that, yessir! I didn't want to be a old
bloodhound right along. I don't mix in them things no more. But that
woman--she could be a keen one. [_A fireman, blowing his horn very
excitedly, walks by._] Go it easy, August! Patience! Look out, or your
breeches will bust!

THE FIREMAN

[_Enraged._] Aw, shut up! Go an' hide yourself in the holes you're always
diggin.

    [_Exit._

    _A FOURTH and a FIFTH GIRL, aged nine and ten years respectively,
    join the old man._

DR. BOXER

[_Laughing._] That's quite a fierce fellow.

RAUCHHAUPT

Gussie, Nelly, gimme your hand.--That's all nothin' but hurry. That
feller don't know what's goin' on in this world. He's blowin' the trumpet
of Jericho, I'm thinkin', or maybe even the trump o' Judgment Day!--

DR. BOXER

I don't think I quite take your meaning, Mr. Rauchhaupt.

RAUCHHAUPT

Maybe Mrs. Wolff was only tryin' to scorch roaches. All right. Maybe, for
all I care, 'twas somethin' else. But if Mrs. Wolff ever puts _her_ hand
to somethin'--there ain't very much left.

DR. BOXER

What do you mean by that?

RAUCHHAUPT

Oh, I was just thinkin'.

    [_He withdraws, together with the children._


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE THIRD ACT


    _The court-room of JUSTICE VON WEHRHAHN. A large, white-washed room
    level with the ground. The main door is in the left wall. Along the
    wall to the right is the large official table covered with books,
    documents, etc. Behind it stands the chair of the justice. By the
    middle window, small table and chair for the clerk of the court. In
    the foreground, right, a book case of soft wood, and on the left
    wall, shelves for documents and records. A small door in the
    background. Several chairs._

    _GLASENAPP sits at his small table. The JUSTICE'S chair is
    unoccupied._

    _In front of the official table DR. BOXER, LANGHEINRICH in his
    uniform of a captain of the fire brigade, EDE and THREE FIREMEN are
    waiting. They are engaged in a rather excited conversation. All are
    red with heat, stained with mud, wet and sooty._

    _MRS. SCHULZE, somewhat pale, is resting in a chair and waiting
    likewise. She is in a very thoughtful mood. Repeatedly she takes off
    her headkerchief and puts it on again and arranges her grey hair._

    _The action takes place on the same day as that of the first act,
    five hours later._

    _The conversation suddenly ceases._

    _JUSTICE VON WEHRHAHN enters betraying a high degree of official
    zeal. He covers his left eye with his left hand as though in pain,
    sits down behind the table, takes his hand from his eye, which
    twitches painfully, and begins._

WEHRHAHN

Well, what's the result of this wretched mess?

LANGHEINRICH

[_Noticeably stimulated by exertion, whiskey and beer._] I've come to
announce, Baron, that the whole business is burned down.

WEHRHAHN

[_Throwing down on the table an object which he has brought with him. It
is seen to be a photograph in a frame of deer feet._] That's because
you're all only half awake! You're all made that way. Yon drowse around
and do nothing. We're not three miles distant from Berlin; our entire
activity should have a different air!

EDE

[_Softly to DR. BOXER._] The fire did have air enough, eh?

LANGHEINRICH

Your honour....

WEHRHAHN

Never mind. I know all about it.

    [_He pulls out his handkerchief, wipes the perspiration from his
    forehead and taps his eye._

LANGHEINRICH

Your honour, I'd like to lay claim, humbly, to some credit ... We did our
part honestly. We was on the spot with the engine.

WEHRHAHN

Then get a better engine!

LANGHEINRICH

But if you can't get no water!

WEHRHAHN

You managed to get plenty of beer.

LANGHEINRICH

-----------?

EDE

Puttin' out a fire makes you thirsty!

WEHRHAHN

That seems undoubtedly to have been the case.--Glasenapp, will you come
and look? Something flew into my eye. [_GLASENAPP jumps up and
investigates._] I had just examined Mrs. Schulze when the north gable
caved in. It must have been a spark or something like that.--By the way,
hasn't Mrs. Schulze been here?

MRS. SCHULZE

Here I is.

GLASENAPP

Yes, Baron.

    _WEHRHAHN motions him away. GLASENAPP steps back and goes over to his
    table._

WEHRHAHN

To proceed, then. It has come to my ears ... Mrs. Schulze has informed
me, that a certain incident took place in front of your smithy.--It seems
that you saw that worthless boy immediately before the flame rose and
that he had a box of matches. How is it now with this story of the
matches? Tell us what you know!

LANGHEINRICH

He had a box o' matches. That's so.

WEHRHAHN

And he let it fall.

EDE

An' I picked it up. Yessir.

WEHRHAHN

You?

EDE

Me. Same person you see. Here's the box. All the matches ain't there no
more 'cause I smoked several times ...

    [_He places the box of matches on the official table._]

WEHRHAHN

[_Unpleasantly impressed by EDE'S manner, takes up the box and fixes his
eyes upon him._] You helped along vigorously, I suppose?

EDE

You bet! 'Tain't no fun otherwise.

WEHRHAHN

I meant especially in the consumption of beer.

EDE

That's what I thought you meant. Yessir!

WEHRHAHN

You seem to be in a very playful mood.

EDE

Merry an' larky--that's my motto, your honour!

WEHRHAHN

Delighted to hear that, I must say.--Look here, are you Dr. Boxer?

DR. BOXER

Quite right. Dr. Boxer.

WEHRHAHN

So you are he! Aha! I would hardly have recognised you. Your mother still
has the little notion shop here.... Your father was a--er--tradesman--?

DR. BOXER

[_Voluntarily misunderstanding him._] Yes, my father was in the reserve
forces and was decorated with the Iron Cross in 1870.

WEHRHAHN

Ah, yes. Of course. I recall.--Your mother came running to my office
recently and brought along several stones. Her kitchen windows had been
broken, I believe. Mischievous boys, no doubt. I investigated, of course.
I'm told you want to settle down here?--There's a very good physician
here now--formerly of the army staff--very capable.

DR. BOXER

I don't doubt that for a moment.

WEHRHAHN

To be quite frank--as things are now--I wonder whether this is an
appropriate territory for you?

DR. BOXER

I can take some time to discover that.

WEHRHAHN

Naturally. So can we. So continue, please.--What was it that you
observed, Dr. Boxer?

DR. BOXER

The incident of the matches certainly.

WEHRHAHN

The incident of the horn blowing and of the matches.

DR. BOXER

Certainly.

WEHRHAHN

Where were you when all this took place?

DR. BOXER

I stood in front of Langheinrich's smithy.

WEHRHAHN

Did you have any particular business there?--You needn't get impatient at
all. I understand that it doesn't concern me at present. Your sympathetic
affinity for the working classes is known to us from of old.--The boy
will be arrested now. I imagine that Constable Tschache has captured him.
At all events--is on his trail. He was seen, in Rahnsdorf too. Please
call in Sadowa!

    [_GLASENAPP withdraws by the rear door._

DR. BOXER

Am I dismissed now, your honour?

WEHRHAHN

Extremely sorry; no. Kindly wait.--Mrs. Schulze, where is your nephew
keeping himself today? I haven't seen him all day long. Does any one know
where Constable Schulze is?

EDE

[_Softly._] He might send out a warrant after him.

WEHRHAHN

Doesn't any one know where Constable Schulze is?--Has any one interviewed
Mrs. Fielitz? Or hasn't she returned from Berlin yet?--I want somebody to
go to Councillor Reinberg.--[_To GLASENAPP, who is just returning._] Mr.
Schmarowski, Mrs. Fielitz's son-in-law, is there submitting his
building-plans. The news should be broken to him gently.

EDE

[_Softly to BOXER and LANGHEINRICH._] Yes, gently, so he don't stumble
over the church steeple.

    [_DR. BOXER and LANGHEINRICH restrain their laughter with
    difficulty._]

WEHRHAHN

[_Observing this._] Does that strike you as very amusing?--I don't know
what other reason you should have to laugh, Langheinrich. When people are
hardworking and ambitious and a fright like this comes to them--a
visitation from God--we might properly say: God protect us from such
things! I see nothing to laugh at.--Did you have the impression ... did
the boy seem to you ... I mean, in reference to this affair--as if things
were not quite right with him?

EDE

[_Softly to BOXER and LANGHEINRICH._] We knows where he ain't quite
right!

WEHRHAHN

Did he arouse your suspicion? Yes or no? Or did the thought actually
occur to you that he might have started the fire?

DR. BOXER

No. I have become too much of a stranger here. The conditions seem to
overwhelm me.

WEHRHAHN

In what respect?

DR. BOXER

[_With assumed seriousness._] I have returned from a very narrow life.
Out on the ocean one becomes accustomed to a certain narrowness of
outlook. And so, as I said, I hardly feel capable of any comment for the
present and must ask for the necessary consideration.

WEHRHAHN

We're not discussing conditions. The thing that lies before us is a
concrete case. For instance: whether the boy tootled or not--what has
that to do with narrowness or breadth of outlook?

DR. BOXER

Quite right. I haven't been able to get a general view yet. I can't so
suddenly find my way again. I feel, naturally, the importance, the
seriousness of the conditions here at home and that makes me feel
hesitant.

WEHRHAHN

He did tootle this way, through his hand, didn't he? You heard that too,
didn't you, Langheinrich?

LANGHEINRICH

Sure, he did it right out loud.

EDE

When a feller tootles so tootin'ly that you c'n rightly say he's
tootlin', then you c'n hear that there tootlin' tootin'ly.

WEHRHAHN

[_To LANGHEINRICH._] Did you observe anything else that aroused your
suspicions? I mean, while you were extinguishing the fire? Were there any
indications that pointed in another direction, or that might, at least,
point in another direction? [_LANGHEINRICH thinks for a moment, then
shakes his head._] You didn't get inside of the house, did you?

LANGHEINRICH

I just barely glanced into the room. Then the ceiling came crashin' down.
A hair's breadth sooner an' I'd ha' been smothered.

WEHRHAHN

The fire was started from without. Constable Tschache is quite right in
that supposition. Probably from behind where the goatshed is. That would
also be in agreement with your evidence, Mrs. Schulze! You saw him creep
around the house. Right above the goatshed there is a window from which,
as a rule, straw was sticking out. I myself made that observation. And
this window gives on Rauchhaupt's garden. This window tempted the boy. It
tempted him because he had it daily before his eyes. So he simply climbed
on the roof of the shed and from there reached the sky-light. Very
pleasant neighbour to have--I must say!--Who's that crossing the street
and howling so?

GLASENAPP

[_Looks through the window._] Shoemaker Fielitz and his wife.

WEHRHAHN

What? Is that Mrs. Fielitz who comes howling so? It's enough to melt the
heart of a stone.

    _MRS. FIELITZ, whose loud, convulsive weeping has been audible before
    she appeared, enters, leaning upon the SEXTON and followed by HER
    HUSBAND, who carries a large, new clock carefully in his arms.
    FIELITZ and HIS WIFE are both in their Sunday clothes._

WEHRHAHN

Well, heavens and earth, Mrs. Fielitz! Trust in the Lord! Our trust in
the Lord--that's the main thing! This isn't a killing matter.--Get a
drink of brandy, Nickel! Go over and ask my wife for it. Mrs. Fielitz has
got to be brought to her senses first.--Do me a favour, Mrs. Fielitz, and
stop your outburst of tears. I can feel for you, when it comes to that.
Quite a severe blow of fate. Have any valuables been destroyed? [_MRS.
FIELITZ weeps more violently._] Mrs. Fielitz! Mrs. Fielitz! Listen to me!
Please listen to what I say to you! Kindly don't lose your reason! D'you
understand? Don't lose your head! You're generally a sensible
woman.--Well, if you won't, you won't.--[_NICKEL, who has been gone for a
moment, returns with a brandy bottle and a small glass._]--Give her the
brandy; quick,--I'll address myself to you, Fielitz. I see that you're
quite collected, at least. That's the way a man ought to be, you
understand. In any situation--be that what it may. So, Fielitz, you give
me some information! I'll put the same question to you first: Have any
valuables been destroyed?

FIELITZ

[_He is only partially successful in restraining the convulsive sobs that
attack him while he speaks._] Yes. Six bills ... banknotes!

WEHRHAHN

Well, I'll be blessed! Is that true? And, of course, you don't even know
the numbers! My gracious, but you're careless people! One ought to think
of such things! But that does no good now. Fielitz, do you hear me! One
ought to take some thought.--Now he's beginning to howl too! Do you
understand me? The place for ready money is a bank! And anyhow--the whole
business! One doesn't leave one's property alone like that! One shouldn't
leave it quite unprotected, especially with such a crowd in the
neighbourhood as we have here!

FIELITZ

I ... aw ... who'd ha' thought o' such a thing, your honour?

WEHRHAHN

Why don't you lay that clock down?

FIELITZ

I'm a peaceable man, your honour. I--I--I--I--Oh, Lordy, Lordy! I can't
tell you nothin', how that there thing happened.--I'm on good terms with
people; I don't quarrel with nobody ... I has made mistakes in my life.
That happens when a man ain't got no good companions. But that people
should go an' treat me this way! No, I ain't never deserved that.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Weeping._] Fielitz, what has I always been tellin' you? Who's right
now, eh? Tell me that: who's right now? You didn't make no enemies on
_our_ account. Them's very different stories--them is. An' I guess Mr.
von Wehrhahn knows somethin' about that!

FIELITZ

Aw, mother, keep still. That there, that was my dooty.

    [_EDE, half seriously, half in jest, makes a threatening gesture
    behind FIELITZ. WEHRHAHN observes this._

WEHRHAHN

Look here, you there! What's that you did? You stood behind Fielitz and
shook your fist over his head.

EDE

Maybe I'm weak in the chest, but I don't rightly know.

WEHRHAHN

Listen: I'll tell you something. The place for insane people is the
asylum. But if you behave with any more impudence, you'll first be taken
to gaol!--I didn't understand you quite rightly, Mrs. Fielitz. You
insinuated something just now. Have you any suspicions in that direction?
I don't care to express myself more clearly. But do you suspect a--how
shall I express it--an act of, so to speak, political reprisal? In that
case you must be absolutely open. We shall then certainly get to the
bottom of it.

MRS. FIELITZ

No, no, no! I ain't got no suspicion. I'd rather go an' beg on the public
roads. I don't want to accuse no human being. I don't know. I can't make
nothin' of it at all. That's what I says again an' again. I don't know
nothin'.--Everythin' was locked up. We went away. The kitchen fire was
out; the top o' the oven was cold. Well, how did it happen? I can't
understand it, nohow. I don't know. But you see, that a feller like that
there feller c'n sit here an' make insinerations--that does hurt a body
right to the soul!

WEHRHAHN

Don't permit that to make any impression on you! Where would any of us
be, if we let such things affect us? Any one who goes to church nowadays
has the whole world hooting him. You just stick to me. [_He rummages
among the papers on his table._] By the way, I succeeded in saving
something here--a picture of your late husband. At least, I believe that
that's what it is. It was framed in deer's feet. [_He finds the picture
and hands it to MRS. FIELITZ._] Here!

    _MRS. FIELITZ takes the picture, grasps WEHRHAHN'S hand with a swift
    motion and kisses it, weeping._

EDE

[_Audibly._] Has anybody maybe got a bit o' sponge in his pocket, 'cause,
you see, stockin's don't absorb so much water.

WEHRHAHN

Make a note of that fellow, Glasenapp! Out with him! At once! You are to
withdraw!

    _EDE withdraws with absurd gestures of his arms and legs. Suppressed
    laughter._

WEHRHAHN

I'm really very much surprised at you, Langheinrich. That fellow has a
regular felon's face. One of those knife ruffians; a regular socialist.
He's been in gaol several times on account of street brawls. And that's
the kind of a man that you take into your shop and home.

LANGHEINRICH

All that don't concern me, your honour. I don't mix in politics.

WEHRHAHN

Oh, is that so? We can afford to wait and see.

LANGHEINRICH

If a feller goes an' does his work all right ...

WEHRHAHN

Nonsense! Mere twaddle! Let any one tell me with whom he associates and I
will tell him who he is.

    _The murmuring and chattering of a crowd is heard. Constable SCHULZE
    enters in full uniform._

WEHRHAHN

Where have you been all day?

SCHULZE

[_Utterly disconcerted for some moments. Then:_] We nabbed the boy, your
honour.

WEHRHAHN

Is that so? Who did it?

SCHULZE

Me and Tschache.

WEHRHAHN

Where?

SCHULZE

Right near here; by the church.

GLASENAPP

He always sits there and listens to the bells.

WEHRHAHN

Why didn't you tell us that before? Did he try to escape? Did he run from
you?

SCHULZE

He sat in the ditch an' didn't notice us. Tschache could ride close up to
him. An' then we got him by the scruff an' had him tight.

    [_He steps back and grasps GUSTAV, whom_ TSCHACHE is leading in.
    Members of the crowd press forward._

WEHRHAHN

H-m! At all events he is here. I'm rather sorry, I must say. He's the son
of a former Prussian constable ... Has any one informed old Rauchhaupt?
Somebody had better go for him.

MRS. SCHULZE

I'm takin' care of a sick person, your honour. Maybe I might be able to
get off now?

WEHRHAHN

Prepare the record, Glasenapp. No, Mrs. Schulze, you'll have to remain
here for the present. The matter will be finished soon enough.--So let us
prepare the record ...

    [_He leans back in his chair and stares at the ceiling as if
    collecting his thoughts for the purpose of dictating._

LANGHEINRICH

[_Softly to DR. BOXER._] Look at Mrs. Fielitz, will you, Doctor? Eh?
Ain't she grown yellow as a lemon peel?--If only that thing don't go
crooked, I tell you. [_He shows to DR. BOXER, who wards him off with a
gesture, something secretly in his hollow hand._] D'you want to see
somethin'? Eh? That's a fuse, that's what.

DR. BOXER

[_Softly._] Where did you get that from?

LANGHEINRICH

It ain't me that knows! That might come from anywhere in the world. It
might even come from Fielitz's cellar. Yessir. Maybe you don't believe
that? An' if I wanted to be nasty, Doctor ...

WEHRHAHN

Private conversation is not permitted here.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Tugs at LANGHEINRICH'S sleeve and asks softly:_] Didn't you meet
Leontine to-day? Where was it?

LANGHEINRICH

[_With a triumphant glance at SCHULZE._] Over in Woltersdorf.

WEHRHAHN

Well, then, Glasenapp ... This is a horrible state of affairs--the
seventh conflagration this Autumn. And these people pretend to constitute
a civilised society! These firebrands pretend to be Christians. One need
merely step out on one's balcony to see the reflection of a fire
somewhere in the heavens. Now and then in clear nights I have counted the
reflections of as many as five. Contempt of judges and laws--that's what
it is! And that has taken such hold of these scoundrels that arson has
become a kind of diversion.--But they had better go slow. Just a little
patience, ladies and gentlemen! We know the tracks! We are on the right
scent! And the people in question will have a terrible awakening when,
quite suddenly, discovery and retribution come upon them. Any one who is
at all versed in the procedure of criminal justice knows that it goes
ahead slowly and surely and finally lays hold upon the guilty.--But as
Commissioner von Stoeckel quite rightly observed: The whole moral
downfall of our time, its actual return to savagery is a consequence of
the lack of religion! Educated people do not hesitate to undermine the
divine foundations upon which the structure of salvation rests.--But,
thank God, we're always to be found at our place! We are, so to speak,
always on our watch-tower!--And, I tell you, boy: There is a God! Do you
understand? There is a God in Heaven from whom no evil deed remains
hidden. Brotherly love! Christian spirit! What your kind needs is to have
your breeches drawn tight and your behind flogged! I'd make you sick of
playing with fires, you infamous little scamp!--Yes, Dr. Boxer, that is
exactly my conviction. You can shrug your shoulders all you please; that
doesn't disturb me in the slightest degree. You can even take up your pen
and raise the cry of cruelty and unfeelingness in the public prints!
Flogging! Christian discipline--that's what is needed, and no sentimental
slopping around! You understand!

GUSTAV

[_Has become more and more excited by the rising enthusiasm of the
speaker. At the end of WEHRHAHN'S oratorical effort he can restrain
himself no longer and breaks out in a loud, deceptively exact imitation
of an ass's bray._] I! a! a! a! I! a! a! a!

    [_General embarrassment._

WEHRHAHN

[_Also embarrassed._] What does that mean?

GLASENAPP

I really don't know.

LANGHEINRICH

That's Gustav's art, your honour. He's famous for imitatin' animals'
voices.

WEHRHAHN

Is that so? And what animal was this supposed to be?

LANGHEINRICH

I guess a lion, all right.--

    [_General laughter._

    _WEHRHAHN shrugs his shoulders, laughs jeeringly and goes to his
    seat. Silence. Then renewed laughter._

WEHRHAHN

I must request silence. This is no place for laughter! We are not
indulging in horse-play for your benefit. We are not trying to amuse any
one. The things we are discussing here are of a deadly seriousness. This
isn't a circus.

    _RAUCHHAUPT enters and stares helplessly about him._

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Tugs at the coat of SCHULZE, who stands near her but with his back
turned. He faces her and she asks with a sorrowful expression._] Did you
see my girl to-day?

    _SCHULZE nods and turns back again._

MRS. FIELITZ

[_As before._] You did see Leontine this morning?

    _SCHULZE nods again and turns away._

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Repeating the action._] An' where did you meet her, Constable?

SCHULZE

[_Almost without moving his lips._] It was over beyond Woltersdorf.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_To LANGHEINRICH._] What's the matter here? What's all this here about?

WEHRHAHN

[_Observes RAUCHHAUPT._] You are a retired Prussian constable?

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Having failed to hear the question._] Say, Schulze, what's all this
for?

SCHULZE

His honour axed you somethin'. I can't go an' give you no information.
That's against orders. If you'd only ha' kept a better watch on that
there boy! I preached to you about that often enough.

RAUCHHAUPT

I don't know what you been preachin'! You ol' mush head! Go on preachin'!

SCHULZE

I begs to have it recorded that Rauchhaupt insulted me officially.

RAUCHHAUPT

What? 'Cause you're such a old idjit? That's the reason why I insults you
officially....

WEHRHAHN

Man alive! Do you know where you are? Or have you just dropped here out
of the clouds! Confound it all! Stand still! Obey orders!

RAUCHHAUPT

Here I is, your honour, an' I humbly announces ...

WEHRHAHN

That you are recalcitrant and disorderly! You are trying to get into
trouble! How long have you been retired?

RAUCHHAUPT

Eleven years.

WEHRHAHN

In addition your memory is probably injured. And anyhow--your whole
appearance! The devil! To think of a former constable looking like that
... I thought I knew all types!

RAUCHHAUPT

That's 'cause I am ... You'll kindly excuse ...

WEHRHAHN

Nothing is excused here! D'you understand? You actually smell! You
contaminate the air!

RAUCHHAUPT

'Tain't nothin' but the smell o' earth ...

WEHRHAHN

Horse dung!

RAUCHHAUPT

That must be from them pineapples.--

    [_Laughter._

WEHRHAHN

In short: make haste to get out as soon as possible; otherwise, as I said
... Out! Out! You have probably seen now what is taking place here, and
now you have nothing further to do.--Here are the papers. Constable! Take
them right over to the court.

    [_He hands the papers to SCHULZE. The officers clash their sabres,
    grasp GUSTAV more firmly and prepare to lead him out. RAUCHHAUPT
    glares about in helpless and growing terror._

DR. BOXER

I have the impression, your honour, that this boy is really a patient.
You will forgive me for mingling ...

LANGHEINRICH

The boy's a imbecile--clean daft!

MRS. SCHULZE

No, no, Doctor! Oh, no, Mr. Langheinrich, that there boy knows what he's
doin'. I had a hen onct an' she went an' hatched out eleven little chicks
and he goes an' takes bricks an' kills seven of 'em.

SCHULZE

That's right, aunt. An' how about that other business, about the little
purse what he stole?

MRS. SCHULZE

The little purse, yes, an' what was in it. An' the way he went about that
there thing ... nobody as is well could ha' done it more clever.

SCHULZE

An' then, aunt, the shawl ...

MRS. SCHULZE

Naw, an' then that there pistol. That boy's got all the good sense he
needs. I'm a old an' experienced woman.

RAUCHHAUPT

What's that you is? What? A ole witch with a low, lousy tongue in her
head! You go an' sweep in front o' your own door before you go an' accuse
other people. If somebody was to go an' watch your trade--takin' care o'
babies an' such like an' seein' to it that there ain't no shortage o'
angels in heaven--all kinds o' things might come out an' you wouldn't
know how to see or hear no more.--What's this? What's the matter with
Gustav? I gotta know that--what all this here is!

WEHRHAHN

Hold your tongue! [_To the constable._] Right about--march!

RAUCHHAUPT

Hold on, I says! Hold on, now! That's no way! Things like that ain't
mentioned in Scripter! I'm the father o' this here child! What's he done?
What do people think he's done? Gustav! What is they accusin' you of? I
went through the Schleswig-Holstein campaign; I was under fire in
'sixty-six; I was wounded in 'seventy. Here's my leg an' here is my
scars. I served the King of Prussia ...

WEHRHAHN

Those are old stories that you're telling us.

RAUCHHAUPT

... With God for King and Fatherland! But this thing here, no, sir; I
can't allow that. I wants to know what this thing here with Gustav is
about!

WEHRHAHN

Look here, my man, you had better come to your senses! I have told you
that once before. In consideration of your service to the state I have
overlooked several things as it is. Well now, I'll do one thing more.
Listen to me! This fine little product--this son of yours, has committed
arson. At least, he is under the very strongest suspicion. Now step out
of the way and don't interfere with the officers in the performance of
their duty. Go on, Schulze!

RAUCHHAUPT

Committed arson? That there boy? Over there? At Fielitz's? Gustav? This
here boy? This here little feller? O Lordy! But that makes me laugh! An'
that they ain't all laughin'--that's the funny part. Here, Schulze, don't
you go in for no foolishness! I wore them brass buttons myself
onct!--Howdy-do, Mrs. Fielitz! Well, Fielitz, how are you? Where are you
goin' to hang up that clock o' yours?

MRS. FIELITZ

Now he's jeerin' at us atop o' our troubles.

RAUCHHAUPT

Not a bit. Why should I be jeerin' at you anyhow? It's a misfortune, you
think! Lord, Lord, so it is! Cats die around in sheds an' the birds they
falls down dead to the earth. No, I ain't jeerin' at you! Anyhow: I ain't
scared o' many things. I've gone for some tough customers in my
time--fellers that none o' the other constables wanted to tackle! This
here finger is bitten through. Yessir! But before I tackles any one like
you--I'll go an' hang myself.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Almost grey in the face, with trembling lips, yet with considerable
vehemence and energy._] What's that man goin' for me like that for? What
did I ever do to him, I'd like to know! Can I help it that things has
turned out this way? I ain't seen nothin'! I wasn't there! I ain't cast
no suspicions on no one! An' if they went an' arrested that boy o'
yours--I didn't know no more about that than you!

RAUCHHAUPT

Woman! Woman! Look at me!

MRS. FIELITZ

Rot! Stop botherin' me. Leave me in peace an' don't go showin' off that
way! I got enough trouble to go through. The doctor tells a person not to
get excited, 'cause you might go just like that! An' a man like you ...
We don't know where to lie down! We don't know where we're goin' to sleep
to-night! We're lyin' in the street, you might say, half dead an' all
broken up ...

RAUCHHAUPT

Woman! Woman! Can you look at me?

MRS. FIELITZ

Leave me alone an' go where you belongs. I don't let nobody treat me like
that! I c'n look at you all right! Why not? I c'n look at you three days
an' three nights an' see nothin' but a donkey before me! If this here
thing is put off on your boy now, whose fault is it mostly? How did you
go an' talk about the boy? You says, says you: he steals, he sets fire to
your straw shed--an' now you're surprised that things turns out this way!
You beat this here poor boy ... he used to come runnin' over to me with
so many blue spots on his body that there wasn't a place on him that
wasn't sore. An' now you acts all of a sudden like a crazy man!

    _WEHRHAHN has motioned the officers who grasp GUSTAV more firmly and
    lead him toward the door. RAUCHHAUPT observes this and jumps with
    lightning-like rapidity in front of GUSTAV, placing his hands on the
    latter's shoulders and holding him fast._

RAUCHHAUPT

Can't be done! I can't allow that, your honour. My Gustav ain't no
criminal! I lived along reel quiet all to myself an' now I got into this
here conspiracy. There's got to be proofs first of all! [_To
LANGHEINRICH._] Could it ha' been he, d'you think? [_LANGHEINRICH shrugs
his shoulders._] Them's all a crowd o' thieves around here--that's what
... Gustav, don't you cry! They can't, in God's name--they can't do
nothin' to you ...

WEHRHAHN

Hands off! Or ... Hands off!

RAUCHHAUPT

Your honour, I'll take my oath o' office, that's what I'll take, that my
boy here is innercent!

WEHRHAHN

_Tempi passati_. You're getting yourself into trouble. For the last time:
Hands off!

RAUCHHAUPT

Then I'd rather kill him right here on the spot, your honour!

WEHRHAHN

[_Steps between and separates RAUCHHAUPT from his son._] Move' on! You're
not to touch the boy! If you dare the constable will draw his sabre!

RAUCHHAUPT

[_White as chalk, half maddened with excitement, has loosened his hold on
GUSTAV and plants himself in front of the main door._] Don't do that to
me, your honour, for God's sake, for Christ's sake--don't! That's a point
o' honour with me--a point o' honour! Anythin' exceptin' that! I'll go
instead. I c'n furnish bail. I'll run an' get bail. I c'n get back here
right away! Eh? C'n I? Or can't that be done now?

WEHRHAHN

Stuff and nonsense. Move out of the way!

RAUCHHAUPT

I knows who it was that did it!

    _WEHRHAHN thrusts RAUCHHAUPT aside and the two officers conduct
    GUSTAV out. DR. BOXER and LANGHEINRICH support and restrain
    RAUCHHAUPT at the same time. He falls into a state of dull collapse.
    Silence ensues. Without saying a word WEHRHAHN returns to his table,
    blows his nose, glances swiftly at RAUCHHAUPT and MRS. FIELITZ and
    sits down._

WEHRHAHN

Let us have some light, Glasenapp.

    _GLASENAPP lights a lamp on the table._

MRS. FIELITZ

No, no, I tell you; it's bad, bad! A man like that! He goes an' accuses
everybody in the whole place.

WEHRHAHN

You! Mrs. Schulze! You can go your ways!

    _MRS. SCHULZE withdraws rapidly._

MRS. FIELITZ

I'd like to ax your honour ... we don't even know where we're goin' to
sleep to-night.

WEHRHAHN

Are you asleep now, Fielitz?

FIELITZ

[_Frightened from the contemplation of his clock._] Not me, your honour!

WEHRHAHN

I thought you were because your head drooped so.

FIELITZ

[_With childish bashfulness._] I was just lookin' at the hands.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MRS. FIELITZ._] You want to go?

MRS. FIELITZ

If it's maybe possible ... I can't hardly stand on them two legs o' mine
no more.

WEHRHAHN

I believe that. When did you get up this morning?

MRS. FIELITZ

-- -- --?

FIELITZ

We both got up around eight o'clock.

WEHRHAHN

Do you always get up so late?

MRS. FIELITZ

Sure not! That there man is confused to-day in his mind. We got up at
five. We always get up at five!

WEHRHAHN

Well, Mrs. Fielitz, you go on home now.--I should be mighty sorry in some
respects ... However, justice goes its way. Murder will out. Criminals
come to a fearful end! The eternal Judge doesn't forget. And--you [_To
RAUCHHAUPT._] might as well go home. Go home and wait to see how things
turn out. I'll let things go this time. Your paternal feeling robbed you
of your senses.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Steps forward._] I should like 'umbly to report, your honour ...

WEHRHAHN

Go on! Go on! What else do you want? Let us have no more nonsense, my
good man.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Goes close up to MRS. FIELITZ._] God is my witness! I'll show you up!


THE CURTAIN FALLS



THE FOURTH ACT


    _The attic room over LANGHEINRICH'S smithy. To the left, two small,
    curtained windows. At one of the windows an arm-chair on which MRS.
    FIELITZ is sitting. She has aged perceptibly and grown thinner.--At
    the second window stands a sewing-machine with a chair beside it. A
    skirt at which some one has been working is thrown across the chair.
    A bodice lies on the machine itself. A door in the rear wall leads to
    a little sleeping-chamber immediately under the roof. To the left of
    this door a brown tile-oven; to its right, a yellow wardrobe. In the
    right wall there is likewise a door which opens upon the hall. Behind
    this door a neatly made bed and a yellow chest of drawers. Above this
    chest hangs a seven-day clock. The SHOEMAKER FIELITZ stands in his
    stocking feet upon the chest of drawers and winds the clock._

    _In the middle of the room an extension table. A hanging lamp above
    it. Four yellow chairs surround the table, a fifth--of the same set
    stands near the bed. LANGHEINRICH and EDE, _dressed in their
    working-clothes, are busy at the table. LANGHEINRICH holds an iron
    weather-vane which EDE is painting red._

    _EDE and LANGHEINRICH break out in loud laugh._

FIELITZ

[_Who has been minding the clock while the others have been laughing._]
Somebody's been pokin' around here again.

LANGHEINRICH

You c'n bet on that. I s'ppose that's what's happened. You'd better watch
out more.

    [_Renewed laughter._

FIELITZ

All I say is: let me catch some one at it! An' I won't care what happens
neither!

LANGHEINRICH

That's right! That's the way! Don't you care who it is, neither. I think
it was Leontine.

MRS. FIELITZ

The girl ain't been near that there clock!

LANGHEINRICH

Oh, oh!

FIELITZ

Somethin's goin' to happen some day. I don't take no jokes o' that kind.

EDE

You gotta save that to put it in the shop.

LANGHEINRICH

That's the truth! That's what I always been sayin'! That corner shop'll
soon be built now, an' then maybe he won't have no clock to hang up in
it. How could he go an' start a business then!

FIELITZ

Firebrands! Pack o' thieves! Laugh if you wants to! You can't never get
the better o' me!

LANGHEINRICH

Not a bit, can they! An' that wouldn't do. How many contracts has you
been makin'? I mean about furnishin' people with shoes. You got to have
somethin' to start with!

MRS. FIELITZ

Can't you leave the man in peace!

FIELITZ

You just go in my room; there you c'n see letters an' contracts lyin'
around--packages an' heaps o' them!

EDE

[_Looks into the adjoining room._] I don't see nothin'.

LANGHEINRICH

Tear up the floorin': you'll find the docyments hidden there. People has
got to have their business secrets!

FIELITZ

O' course they has! An' whippersnappers don't know much about that. Go
an' learn how to read an' write before you go an' mix in my business.

MRS. FIELITZ

Come, Fielitz, let them be! Don't lose your temper. You know as
Langheinrich has got to have his joke! That's the way the man is made.

LANGHEINRICH

I do feel pretty jolly to-day, an' that's a fac'! I got a piece o' work
done. An' if I don't go an' fall down from the steeple when I puts it
up--I'll go an' christen this here occasion. An' I won't use water.

MRS. FIELITZ

Are you goin' to put it up yourself?

LANGHEINRICH

You c'n take your oath on that! An' why not? Schmarowski, he designed it.
But I forged it an' I'll put it up.

    _LEONTINE enters._

LEONTINE

You better let Schmarowski do that himself.

EDE

Schmarowski ain't afraid o' anything shaky.

LANGHEINRICH

No, that's as true as can be, I know. He ain't afraid o' God nor the
devil. That little man ... I tell you, Bismarck is just a coward
alongside o' him!

FIELITZ

I'd like to make a inquiry: who is it that built that there new house?

LANGHEINRICH

Well, who did?

FIELITZ

Me! An' not Schmarowski.

EDE

Well, that's certain! We all knows that, Mr. Fielitz.

FIELITZ

Right up from the foundation! Me an' nobody but me! That there is my
land, my bricks, my money! All the insurance money's been sunk into that.
Ax mother here if that ain't the fac'!

    [_Laughter._

MRS. FIELITZ

Oh, Lord, Fielitz! Can't you let that be? Has you got to tell them old
stories all over again?

FIELITZ

That I has! I got to prove that, mother! I got to let them people know
who I is! Watch out, I tell you, when I makes my speech to-day!

MRS. FIELITZ

Schmarowski says there ain't goin' to be no speech makin'.

FIELITZ

You can't go an' tie up my tongue, an' Schmarowski can't do it neither!

    [_He withdraws into the adjoining little room._

LANGHEINRICH

You better look out, ole lady, an' see that there ain't no bloody row
raised. There's talk now o' some people wantin' to get ugly. Better be a
bit careful!

MRS. FIELITZ

All you gotta do is to keep your eye on him a bit. Treat him to drinks
from the beginnin'. I can't keep that man in order to-day. He's bound to
go to the festival.

LANGHEINRICH

Schmarowski got a drubbin' yesterday.

EDE

Last night, yes, after the people's meetin'.

MRS. FIELITZ

Maybe he went an' gave it to 'em a bit too hot.

LANGHEINRICH

That's what he did. That little scamp talked, Mrs. Fielitz! The whole
meetin' just shouted! An' he didn't mind callin' a spade a spade neither.

MRS. FIELITZ

He oughtn't to be so hot, I think.

LANGHEINRICH

That he ought, just that! An' why not? Do what you can an' go ahead!
That's the way! That whole crowd don't deserve no better. Not Wehrhahn
an' not Friderici. An' anyhow, it was a good thing, Mrs. Fielitz. It was
done just in the nick o' time! Now he's gone an' broken with them
fellers, an' everybody knows it. There ain't no goin' back now. Now he
belongs to us, Mrs. Fielitz, an' I never would ha' thought it of him!

MRS. FIELITZ

You got reason to be satisfied with him, I'm thinkin'. Look at the noise
in your workshop with four journeymen ...

LANGHEINRICH

That's true, too, an' I'm not denyin' it. He put money in circulation. I
couldn't make friends with Pastor Friderici's collection plate. Couldn't
do it. Now everything's arranged.--Now I want you to keep your eyes open
at the window when I gets up to the top o' the steeple. I'll wave an'
sing out an'--jump down!

    _LANGHEINRICH and EDE exeunt with the weather vane. A brief silence._

MRS. FIELITZ

I wonder if Rauchhaupt will be comin' in to-day?

LEONTINE

I don't see, mother, why you're so frightened all the time. Rauchhaupt
ain't nothin' but an old fool. Let him come all he pleases an' jabber
away! Let him, mother. Nobody don't pay no attention to his nonsense!

MRS. FIELITZ

They says as he's been talkin' around a lot.

LEONTINE

Well, let him! I got letters too. Here's one of 'em again, mother. [_She
throws down a letter in its envelope._] But I don't worry about that. An'
anyhow it's only that assistant at the railroad.

MRS. FIELITZ

It might ha' been Constable Schulze, too.

LEONTINE

Or that assistant teacher Lehnert--if you want to go on guessin'!

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, let 'em! Them fellers is jealous--an' envious o' Schmarowski an'
his new house! They'd like to go an' lay somethin' at our door. But no!
'Tain't so simple as that!

LEONTINE

[_Who has been sewing at her machine for a moment._] Look, mama, I found
this here!

MRS. FIELITZ

Hurry now, hurry! Don't go an' lose time now. That dress has got to be
ready by two. Adelaide has been sendin' over again!--The one thing you
ought to do is to go down to the cellar an' get that couple o' bottles o'
wine, so's we can drink their health when they come up! You c'n see,
they'll soon be through.

LEONTINE

That thing was the Missis' spine supporter.

MRS. FIELITZ

She was a poor, wretched crittur: strappin' herself an' tyin' herself an'
squeezin' herself, an' yet she couldn't get rid o' her hump.

LEONTINE

Well, why did she have to be so vain!

MRS. FIELITZ

Don't grudge her her rest. She's deserved it.

LEONTINE

They says that her ghost keeps rappin' up in the top attic where
Langheinrich sleeps.

MRS. FIELITZ

Let her be! Let her be! Don't talk no more. Maybe he was a bit rough with
her for all she brought money to him. She had to sew an' sew an' earn
money.... No wonder she can't find no rest.

LEONTINE

Why did she have to go an' marry Langheinrich?

MRS. FIELITZ

Let them old stories be! I don't like to hear about 'em. My head's full
enough o' trouble without 'em. I don't know what's wrong with me anyhow.
A body sees ghosts enough now an' then without thinkin' o' the past.

LEONTINE

I must say, though, that if he's unfaithful to me that way....

MRS. FIELITZ

Langheinrich? Let him go an' be. When it comes to that, there ain't no
man that's any good. If there was to be a single one whom you could go
an' depend on when it comes to that--it'd be somethin' new to me.--Main
thing is to be at your post. The man ain't bad. He means reel well. Be
savin'. You know how careful he is! An' take care o' his bit o' clothes
an' be good to his little girl. He don't object to your boy. [_FIELITZ
re-enters clad in his long, black Sunday coat._] You can't go to that
dinner lookin' like that. Come here an' I'll sew on that there button.

FIELITZ

'Tain't possible you'll do that much! Don't go an' hurt yourself now.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Holds his garment with her left hand and sews, still seated._] It ain't
nobody's fault if a body can't get around so quick no more. You gets well
enough taken care of.

FIELITZ

Aw, them times is past! You needn't lie atop of it all! I'm like a old
bootjack--kicked in a corner.--Has anybody been shovin' my clock?

LEONTINE

It's likely. He's got a screw loose.

    [_Exit._

FIELITZ

You just wait!

MRS. FIELITZ

Langheinrich was just jokin'?

FIELITZ

I'll show the whole crowd o' you somethin' now that I got on top. I c'n
go an' stand up to any man yet!

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, o' course. There ain't nobody doubts that.

FIELITZ

I just want you to wait two years an' see who it'll be that has made the
most money: Schmarowski, Langheinrich or me!

MRS. FIELITZ

I don't see what grudge you got against Langheinrich? He went an' took us
into his house....

FIELITZ

He did that 'cause he's got his reason an' 'cause he wants a high rent.

MRS. FIELITZ

You better be glad he is the way he is.

FIELITZ

On account o' that bit o' business with the fuse? You go right ahead an'
let him trample on you.

MRS. FIELITZ

What was that there about a fuse?

FIELITZ

That business? What d'you s'ppose? Dr. Boxer talked about it too.

MRS. FIELITZ

I don't know nothin' about them affairs o' yours.

FIELITZ

Mother, I got a good conscience.

MRS. FIELITZ

You c'n go an' put it in a glass case.

FIELITZ

Mother, I ain't sayin' nothin' else right now ...

MRS. FIELITZ

That's all foolishness!

FIELITZ

All right.

MRS. FIELITZ

Schmarowski was here. How's that now with, the mortgage?

FIELITZ

You mean that my mortgage is now the fourth?

MRS. FIELITZ

Anybody knows that a buildin' like that costs money.

FIELITZ

Schmarowski is sinkin' all his money in bricks an' mortar.

MRS. FIELITZ

Nonsense!

FIELITZ

It's a fac'! That thing has taken hold o' him like a sickness.

MRS. FIELITZ

Main thing is that you agrees. Don't you?

FIELITZ

Not a bit! I don't agree to nothin'. I been a agent in my time an' took
care o' the most complexcated affairs. Yes, an' Wehrhahn patted me on the
back an' was mighty jolly 'cause I'd been so sly ... No, mother, I ain't
so green.--I c'n keep accounts! I knows how to use my pen! I'm more'n
half a lawyer! That feller ain't goin' to get the better o' me.

    _SCHMAROWSKI enters very bustling. He has changed the style of his
    garments considerably--light Spring overcoat, elegant little hat and
    cane. He carries a roll of building plans._

SCHMAROWSKI

Mornin', Mrs. Fielitz. How are you now? Did you get over that slight
cold?

MRS. FIELITZ

Thank you kindly; I gets along. Take a seat.

SCHMAROWSKI

Yes, I will. I've reely deserved it. I've been on my feet since four
o'clock this morning! Lord only knows how I succeed in staggerin' along.

FIELITZ

Mornin'. I'm here too, you know.

SCHMAROWSKI

Good mornin'. Didn't notice you at all. I have my head so full these days
...

FIELITZ

Me too.

SCHMAROWSKI

Certainly. Don't doubt it! Have you anything to say to me? If so, go
ahead, please!

FIELITZ

Not this here moment! I got other things to attend to just now. I gotta
go an' meet a gentleman at the station on account o' them Russian rubber
shoes. Later. Sure. But not just now.

    [_He stalks out excitedly._

SCHMAROWSKI

That cobbler makes us all look ridiculous. He plays off in all the public
houses. The other day this thing happened out there in the waiting-room
where all the best people were sittin': he just made his way to 'em an'
talked all kinds of rot about the factories he was goin' to build and
such like.

MRS. FIELITZ

The man acts as if he didn't have his right mind no more.

SCHMAROWSKI

But you're gettin' along all right.

MRS. FIELITZ

Tolerable. Oh, yes. Only I can't hardly stand the hammerin' no more. I
wish we was out o' this here house!

SCHMAROWSKI

Patience! For Heaven's sake, have patience now! Things have gone pretty
smoothly so far. Don't let's begin to hurry now. Just a little patience.
I'm as anxious as any one for us to get settled. But I can't do no
wonders. I'm glad the roof is on. I know what that cost me--an' then all
these annoyances atop o' that. [_He shows her a number of opened
letters._] Anonymous, all of 'em, of course. The meanest accusations of
Fielitz, of you, an', of course, of myself.

MRS. FIELITZ

I don't know what them people wants. When you got trouble you needn't go
huntin' for insult. That's the way things is, an' different they won't
be. They questioned us up an' down. Three times I had to go an' run to
court. If there'd been anythin' to find out, they'd ha' found it out long
ago.

SCHMAROWSKI

I don't want to offer no opinion about that. That's your affair; that
don't concern me. 'S far as I'm concerned, I gave the people to
understand what I am. When people want to get rid o' me, they got to take
the consequences. That's what Pastor Friderici had better remember. I saw
through his game.--But to come to the point, as I'm in a hurry, as you
see. Everything's goin' very 'well--but cash is needed--cash!

MRS. FIELITZ

But Fielitz ain't willin'.

SCHMAROWSKI

Mr. Fielitz will have to be!

MRS. FIELITZ

He's still thinkin' about that corner shop o' his. Can't you keep a bit
o' space for it?

SCHMAROWSKI

Can't be done! How'd I end if I begin that way? You got sense enough to
see that yourself. No. There wasn't no such agreement. We can't be
thinkin' o' things like that.--A banker is comin' to this dinner, Mrs.
Fielitz, an' I ought to know what to expect exactly. Everything is bein'
straightened out now. If I'm left to stick in the mud now...!

MRS. FIELITZ

I'll see to it. Don't bother.

SCHMAROWSKI

Very well. An' now there's something else. Have you heard anything from
Rauchhaupt again?

MRS. FIELITZ

Yes, I hears that he don't want to hold his tongue an' that he goes about
holdin' us up to contempt. That's the same thing like with Wehrhahn. I
never did nothin' but kindnesses to Rauchhaupt. An' now he comes here day
in an' day out an' makes a body sick an' sore with his old stories that
never was nowhere but in his head. Maybe ... my goodness ... a man like
that ... he c'n go an' keep on an' on, till, in the end ... well, well
...

SCHMAROWSKI

Don't be afraid, Mrs. Fielitz. Things don't go no further now that the
noise is quieted down.--By the way, I see that the carpenters are
assemblin'. I got to go over there an' rattle off my bit o' speech. It's
just this: if Rauchhaupt should come in again, you just question him
carefully a little. There's a new affair bein' started. Got a political
side to it. Immense piece o' business. 'Course I got my finger in that
pie, as I has in all the others now. We'd like to get Rauchhaupt's land
... He bought it for a song in the old days. If we c'n get it--the whole
of it an' not parcelled--there'd be a cool million in it.

MRS. FIELITZ

An' here I got two savin's bank books.

SCHMAROWSKI

Thank you. Just what I need. There are times when a man can't be sparin'
o' money ...

MRS. FIELITZ

The girl is comin'. Hurry an' slip 'em into your pocket.

    _SCHMAROWSKI hastily puts the bankbooks into his pocket, nods to MRS.
    FIELITZ and withdraws rapidly._

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Half rising from her chair and looking anxiously out through the
window._] If only they don't go' an' make trouble this day. There's a
great crowd o' people standin' around.

    _LEONTINE returns with the three bottles of wine and the glasses._

LEONTINE

Mama! Mama! He's downstairs again. That fool of a Rauchhaupt is down
there.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Frightened._] Who?

LEONTINE

Rauchhaupt. He's comin' in right behind me.

    [_She places the bottles and glasses on the table._

MRS. FIELITZ

[_With sudden determination._] Let him! He c'n come up for all I cares.
I'll tell him the reel truth for onct.

    [_RAUCHHAUPT puts his head in at the door._

RAUCHHAUPT

Is I disturbing you, Mrs. Fielitz?

MRS. FIELITZ

No, you ain't disturbin' me.

RAUCHHAUPT

Is I disturbin' anybody else then?

MRS. FIELITZ

I don't know about that. It depends.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Enters. His appearance is not quite so neglected as formerly._] My
congratulations. I'm comin' in to see if things is goin' right again.

MRS. FIELITZ

[_With forced joviality._] You got a fine instinct for them things,
Rauchhaupt.

RAUCHHAUPT

[_Staring at her, emphatically._] That I has, certainly! That I has!--I
just met Dr. Boxer, too. He's goin' to come up and see you in a minute,
too. An' I axed him about a certain matter, too.

MRS. FIELITZ

What kind o' thing was that?

RAUCHHAUPT

About that time, you know! They says that he said somethin' to
Langheinrich that time an' Langheinrich said somethin' to him, too.

MRS. FIELITZ

I ain't concerned with them affairs o' yours. Leontine! Go an' get a
piece o' sausage so that they c'n have a bite o' food when they comes
over afterwards.

RAUCHHAUPT

The world don't stop movin'.

MRS. FIELITZ

No, it don't. That's so.

LEONTINE

Wouldn't you like for me to stay here now?

RAUCHHAUPT

Yon better be goin' an' buy some silk stockin's.

MRS. FIELITZ

What's the meanin' o' that?

RAUCHHAUPT

That don't mean, nothin' much. You might think she was a
countess--standin' there at Mrs. Boxer's:--Adelaide, I mean, what's now
Mrs. Schmarowski. There she stood in the shop an' chaffered about a
yellow petticoat. She's a great lady nowadays an' one as wears red silk
stockin's.

LEONTINE

People like us don't hardly have enough to buy cotton, ones.

    [_Exit._

MRS. FIELITZ

I wonder what people will say about Adelaide in the end?

RAUCHHAUPT

That ain't just talkin'. Them's facts. T'other day the beer waggon
unloaded some beer at Mrs. Kehrwieder's--Mrs. Kehrwieder that's a
washerwoman hereabouts. Well, my lady comes rustlin' up--that's what she
does--an' turns up her nose--she ain't no beastly snob, oh, no!--an' then
she asks Mrs. Kehrwieder: is it reely true that the poor drinks beer?

MRS. FIELITZ

You needn't come to me with your rot an' your gossip.

RAUCHHAUPT

Anyhow, what I was goin' to tell you is this: I'm on a new scent!

MRS. FIELITZ

What kind of a scent is that you're on?

RAUCHHAUPT

Mum's the word! I gotta be careful. I can't say nothin'; I don't pretend
to know nothin'. But I kept my eyes open pretty wide, I tell you. There's
detectives workin', too. I been to Wehrhahn, too, an' he told me to go
right on!

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Knitting._] O Lordy! Wehrhahn. He's goin' to do you a lot o' good,
ain't he? It'll cost some more o' your money--that's what!

RAUCHHAUPT

Mrs. Fielitz, the things we has found out, I'll show 'em up clear as day,
I tell you. You c'n get hold o' the smallest secret. The public
prosecutor hisself pricked up his ears. An' the way you does it is this:
first you draws big circles, Mrs. Fielitz, an' then you draws littler
ones an' littler ones an' then--then somebody is caught! Who? Why, them
criminals what set fire to the house. O' course I don't mean you, Mrs.
Fielitz.

MRS. FIELITZ

I'd give the matter a rest if I was you. Nothin' ain't goin' to come out.

RAUCHHAUPT

How much you bet, Missis? I'll take you up.

MRS. FIELITZ

If nothin' didn't come out at first ...

RAUCHHAUPT

How much you bet, Missis? Come now, an' bet. All a body's gotta be is
patient. You ordered Gustav to come over at eleven o'clock with the
seeds. An' just then Mrs. Schulze passed by your door. No, I don't take
my nose off the scent.

MRS. FIELITZ

Now I'll tell you something Rauchhaupt. I don't care nothin' about your
nose. But I tell you, if you don't stop but go on sniffin' around here
all the blessed time.... I tell you, some day my patience'll be at an
end!

RAUCHHAUPT

Why don't you go an' sue me, Mrs. Fielitz?

MRS. FIELITZ

For my part you c'n say right out what you has to say. Then a person'll
know what to answer you. But don't go plannin' your stinkin' plans with
that Schulze woman! I put that there woman outta here! She comes here an'
tries to talk me into lettin' Leontine come over to her. The constable,
he'd like that pretty well. My girl ain't that kind, though. An' now, o'
course, the old witch'd like to give us a dig. Before that she wanted to
do the same to you!--I don't know anyhow what you're makin' so much noise
about! I don't see as anythin' bad has happened to that boy o' yours!
He's taken care of. He's got a good home! He gets nursin' an' good food!

RAUCHHAUPT

No, no, that don't do me no good inside. I don't let that there rest on
me--not on me an' not on Gustav. Can't be done! That keeps bitin' into
me. I can't let that go. It cost me ten years o' my life. I knows that! I
knows what I went through that time when I tried to hang myself. I ain't
never goin' to get over that, 's long's I live! I'll find out who was at
the bottom of it all! I made up my mind to that!

FIELITZ

Good Lord, an' why not? Go ahead an' do it! Keep peggin' away at it. What
business is it o' mine? Has I got to have myself excited this way all the
time when, the doctor told me how bad it is for me....

RAUCHHAUPT

Missis, there ain't a soul as knows what that was. I knows it. I just ran
home, blind.... couldn't see nothin'! I didn't know nothin' no more o'
God or the world. I just kept pantin' for air! An' then there I lay--like
a dead person on the bed. They rubbed me with towels an' they brushed me
with brushes, an' sprayed camphor all over me an' such stuff! Then I came
back to life.

MRS. FIELITZ

How many hundreds o' times has you been tellin' me that? I knows,
Rauchhaupt, that you went off o' your head. Well, what about that? Look
at me! My hair didn't get no blacker from that there business; I didn't
get no stronger from it neither. Who's worse off right now--you or me?
That's what I'd like to know. You got your health; you're lookin'
prosperous! An' me? What am I to-day? An' how does I look? Well, then,
what more d'you want?--I dreamed o' my own funeral, already!--What do you
want more'n that? I ain't goin' to bother nobody much longer. There ain't
much good to be got by houndin' me!... An' that's the truth.--An' anyhow,
you're a foolish kind o' a man, Rauchhaupt. You're so crazy, nobody
wouldn't hardly believe it. First you was always wantin' to get rid o'
the boy ...

RAUCHHAUPT

Oh, you don't know Gustav, that you don't! What that there boy could do
when I had him ... an' the way he was kind to children an' such like! An'
the way he c'n sing! An' the thoughts he's got in his head! That there
time when he ran away from the asylum, he went an' he sat down in front
o' the church where he was always listenin' to the bells, an' there he
sat reel still, waitin'. You ought to ha' seen the boy then, Mrs.
Fielitz, the way all that shows in his face. That's somethin'! Only thing
is, he can't get it out the way the likes o' us c'n do it.

MRS. FIELITZ

Rauchhaupt, I had worse things 'n that. Yes. I lost a boy--an' he was the
best thing I had in this world. Well, you see? You c'n go an' stare at me
now! My life--it ain't been no joke neither.--Go right on starin' at me!
Maybe you'll lose your taste for this kind o' thing the way you did onct
before.

RAUCHHAUPT

Mrs. Fielitz, I'm a peaceable man, but that there ... I'm peaceable,
Missis. I never liked bein' a constable, but ...

MRS. FIELITZ

Well, then! Everybody knows that! On that very account! An' now there
ain't nobody as bad as you! You're actin' like a reg'lar bloodhound! Why?
You've always been as good as gold, Rauchhaupt! Every child in the place
knows that! An' now, what's all this about?--You c'n go an' open one o'
them there bottles. Why shouldn't we go an' drink a bit o' a drop
together? [_RAUCHHAUPT wipes his eyes and then walks across to draw the
cork of one of the bottles._]--Fightin' c'n begin again afterwards. I
s'ppose life ain't no different from that.--An' we can't change it. There
ain't nothin' but foolishness around. An' when you want to go an' open
people's eyes--you can't do it! Foolishness--that's what rules this
world.--What are we: you an' me an' all of us? We has had to go worryin'
and workin' all our lives--every one of us has! Well, then! We ought to
know how things reely is! If you don't join the scramble--you're lazy: if
you do--you're bad.--An' everythin' we does get, we gets out o' the dirt.
People like us has to turn their hands to anythin'! An' they, they tells
you: be good, be good! How? What chanct has we got? But no, we don't even
live in peace with each other.--I wanted to get on--that's true. An'
ain't it natural? We all wants to get out o' this here mud in which we
all fights an' scratches around ... Out o' it ... away from it ... higher
up, if you wants to call it that ... Is it true as you're wantin' to move
away from here, Rauchhaupt?

RAUCHHAUPT

Yes, Mrs. Fielitz, I been havin' that in my mind. An' why? Dr. Boxer an'
me, we knows why. [_He groans sorrowfully._] It ain't only on account o'
my wantin' to be nearer to Gustav. No, no! I don't feel well in this here
neighbourhood no more. Everybody looks at me kind o' queer nowadays.

    [_The bottle has now been uncorked and RAUCHHAUPT fills two glasses._

MRS. FIELITZ

That's another thing. Why does we care what people think?

RAUCHHAUPT

No, no! When a man has done what I has--that's different. When a man's
gone that length--an' a former officer at that--that he's gone an' taken
a rope an' tried.... I don't understand, Missis, I don't understand how I
could ha' done that.--But they cut me down ... that they did.

    [_He drinks._

MRS. FIELITZ

Is it reely true what people says about it?

RAUCHHAUPT

You see, it got out, an' people knows! An' that--me bein' a former
officer--when I think o' that! No, no rain an' no wind can't wash that
blot off o' me.

    [_He drinks._

MRS. FIELITZ

I say: let's drink to our health. I don't care about people nor what they
thinks.--But if, maybe, you do want to sell some day--who knows?... I c'n
talk to Schmarowski. You two might agree.

    _DR. BOXER, EDE and LEONTINE enter._

DR. BOXER

You're having a very jolly time here, Mrs. Fielitz.

MRS. FIELITZ

Just to-day. It's an exception; that it is!

EDE

Young lady! Hey, there! You want to see somethin'? Langheinrich is
dancin' around on the church-steeple!

    _MRS. FIELITZ rises with difficulty and looks out._

LEONTINE

I can't bear to look at things like that even.

EDE

Let him fall! He won't fall nowhere but on his feet; he's just like a
cat.

DR. BOXER

[_Softly and half-humorously threatening RAUCHHAUPT._] Stop exciting my
patient all the time. A deuce of a lot of good all my doctoring will do
then!

MRS. FIELITZ

You c'n leave the man be, Doctor. People has put him up to things.
Otherwise he's the best feller in the world.

DR. BOXER

Very well, then! And beyond that, Mrs. Fielitz, how do you feel?

MRS. FIELITZ

Well enough. 'Tis true,--[_she points to her breast_]--somethin's cracked
inside o' here. But then! Everybody's gotta get out o' the world
sometime. I've lived quite a while!

DR. BOXER

You musn't talk so much! You must keep still longer. [_To RAUCHHAUPT._]
I've got an invitation for you. Mr. Schmarowski saw you going in here,
and so he stopped me and asked me to say that he'd like to have you come
over to the dinner!

MRS. FIELITZ

Rauchhaupt--well, o' course. Why not?

RAUCHHAUPT

An' I won't go givin' nothin' away yet.

MRS. FIELITZ

And you, Doctor?

DR. BOXER

[_Quickly._] Heaven forbid! Not I?

MRS. FIELITZ

An' why not? Do you bear him a grudge about anythin'?

DR. BOXER

I? Bear a grudge? I never do that. But, do you see, I'm a lost man as far
as all this is concerned. I don't deny that it amuses me to watch all
these doings here, but I can't join in them. I'll never learn to do
that.--I will probably go away again, too.

MRS. FIELITZ

An' give up such a good practice?

DR. BOXER

Sea-faring--that gives a man true health. That is the best practice for
one, Mrs. Fielitz, who is in some respects so little practical.

MRS. FIELITZ

You ain't very practical, that's true.

DR. BOXER

No, I am not.--Listen, listen, how they're letting themselves go! [_Many
voices are heard in enthusiastic shouting._] Great enthusiasm again! In a
moment they will raise Schmarowski and carry him on their shoulders. They
were about to do it a moment ago. [_A great, confused noise of huzzaing
voices floats into the room._] Well, do you see? Isn't that truly
uplifting?

LEONTINE

Mother, look, look who the workin'men is raisin' up! The workin'men is
raisin' him up!

MRS. FIELITZ

Who?

    [_She rises convulsively and stares out._

LEONTINE

Don't you see who it is?

RAUCHHAUPT

Schmarowski.

EDE

That's how it is. I couldn't bear to see that there feller. But now ...
well ... he's got some sense an' he's fightin' for sensible
ideas--against arbitrary an' police power--now, well, I'll drink to his
health, too.

DR. BOXER

Well, of course, Ede, naturally you will!

    _FIELITZ enters highly excited._

FIELITZ

Me ... me ... me ... me ... it was me that did it! Go on an' shout, an'
shout! It's that there feller that they lifts up! Let 'em. But I don't
make no speeches like that! Character, conscience--them's the main
things. Yes, it was me as paid an' me as built. But even if Wehrhahn went
an' dropped me--I don't let go my sound opinions! There's gotta be order!
There's gotta be morality! I'm for the monarchy right down to my marrow!
I don't envy him that there triumph!

DR. BOXER

Look here, Fielitz! Come over here to the light, will you? I'd like to
examine your eyes.--Don't your pupils move at all?

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Pants swiftly and convulsively, throws her hands high up as if in joy,
and cries out half in rapture, half in terror:_] Julius!

LEONTINE

Mama! Mama!

EDE

She's gone to sleep.

LEONTINE

[_Appealing to the DOCTOR._] Mother is swingin' her arms around so!

DR. BOXER

Who? Where? Mrs. Fielitz?

LEONTINE

Look! Look!

EDE

[_Laughing._] Is she tryin' to catch sparrows in the air?

    _DR. BOXER has turned from FIELITZ to MRS. FIELITZ._

DR. BOXER

Mrs. Fielitz!

    _FIELITZ unconcerned by the events in the room, walks excitedly up
    and down in the background. RAUCHHAUPT is tensely watching from the
    window what takes place without._

LEONTINE

What is it? Mother won't answer at all!

RAUCHHAUPT

I believe they're goin' to end by comin' over here!

DR. BOXER

What is it, Mrs. Fielitz? What are you trying to do? Why do you move your
hands about in that way?

MRS. FIELITZ

[_Reaching out strangely with both hands._] You reaches ... you reaches
... always this way ...

DR. BOXER

After what?

MRS. FIELITZ

[_As before._] You always reaches out after ... somethin' ...

    [_Her arms drop and she falls silent._

LEONTINE

[_To DR. BOXER._] Is she sleepin'?

DR. BOXER

[_Seriously._] Yes, she has fallen asleep. But keep all those people back
now.

RAUCHHAUPT

The whole crowd is comin' over here.

DR. BOXER

[_Emphatically._] Keep them back! Ede! Turn them back at once!

    _EDE runs out._

LEONTINE

Doctor, what's happened to mother?

DR. BOXER

Your mother has ...

LEONTINE

What, what?

DR. BOXER

[_Significantly._] Has fallen asleep.

LEONTINE'S

[_Face assumes an expression of horror; she is about to shriek. DR. BOXER
takes hold of her vigorously and puts his hand over her mouth. She
regains a measure of self-control._] But, Doctor, she was talkin' just
now...?

DR. BOXER

[_Gently draws LEONTINE forward with his left hand and places his right
upon the forehead of the dead woman._] So she was. And from now on she
takes her fill of silence.

    _In the background FIELITZ, careless of what has happened, regards
    his eyes sharply and intently in a hand mirror._


THE CURTAIN FALLS





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