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Title: Plays by August Strindberg, Fourth Series - The Bridal Crown, The Spook Sonata, The First Warning, Gustavus Vasa
Author: Strindberg, August, 1849-1912
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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PLAYS

BY

AUGUST STRINDBERG


FOURTH SERIES


    THE BRIDAL CROWN
    THE SPOOK SONATA
    THE FIRST WARNING
    GUSTAVUS VASA


TRANSLATED WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY

EDWIN BJÖRKMAN

AUTHORIZED EDITION

NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1916



CONTENTS

    INTRODUCTION
    THE BRIDAL CROWN
    THE SPOOK SONATA
    THE FIRST WARNING
    GUSTAVUS VASA
    MUSICAL APPENDIX TO "THE BRIDAL CROWN"



INTRODUCTION


The province of Dalecarlia has often been called the heart of Sweden.
It is a centrally located inland province, said to contain a sample
of everything the country can offer in the way of natural beauty. For
centuries it played a remarkable part in Swedish history, taking the
leadership time and again in the long struggle to rid the nation of a
perverted and abused union with Denmark and Norway. It has preserved
the original stock, the original language, and the original customs
of the race as no other province. The dialects used in Dalecarlia are
among the most difficult to understand for outsiders and have an air of
antiquity that irresistibly leads the thought back to old Norse. The
picturesque costumes characteristic of the different parishes are still
in use, and one of these--that of Rättvik--has almost become _the_
national costume of Sweden.

The people are simple and shrewd, stem and kindly, energetic and
obstinate, loyal and independent. They have much in common with the
old New England stock, but possess, in spite of their unmistakably
Puritanical outlook, a great store of spontaneous and pleasant joy
in life. They are thinkers in their own humble way, but not morbid.
In their attitude toward each other and toward the family they are
distinctly and quaintly patriarchal, and in this respect, too, they
preserve a quality that used to be characteristic of the whole
Scandinavian north. It is impossible to read "The Bridal Crown," with
its typical Dalecarlian atmosphere and setting, without being struck
at once by the extent to which the individual plays the part of a
link in the unbroken chain of generations rather than of an isolated,
all-important point of personality. And the same impression is obtained
from Selma Lagerlöf's contemporaneous novel, "Jerusalem."

Always a very religious race, though not always good church-goers, the
Dalecarlians have long had and still have the Puritanical closeness to
the Bible as _the_ book, and they talk naturally in quotations from
that source. At the same time the old Norse stores of legend and homely
wisdom survive among them to an extent that is perhaps paralleled only
in Iceland. And when Strindberg in this play makes his characters quote
the old poetic Edda he violates no law of probability, although it is
doubtful whether the expression in question would actually come in
just such a form from living lips. I mean that the sentiment of such
a phrase as "Vagrant women make bread of mould for their men as only
food" survives among the people, while it is likely to have gradually
changed into a form more wholly their own.

No matter from where the inspiration of their utterances may come,
the Dalecarlians are apt to express themselves picturesquely,
and this inclination to lapse into rhyme and alliteration is
noticeable--sometimes in quoting old saws dating back to heathen times
and sometimes in improvising. Strindberg has used this tendency in
both ways. When the old grandfather says to the bride that she is
"comely as he is homely," he is merely repeating a phrase dear to the
heart of a people strongly bound up in traditions. When, on the other
hand, he lets the fisherman in the last scene answer, "Krummedikke's
castle and Krummedikke's lake, Krummedikke's church, and soon it will
break," he is probably illustrating the tendency toward roughly rhymed
improvisations.

A typical feature of Dalecarlian life has always been the sending of
the cattle to upland pastures during the summer months in care of young
men and women, who, in communication among themselves as well as with
the people at the home farm, have availed themselves of the ancient
alpenhorn, or _lur_, made out of wood and birch bark, as well as of the
horn made out of the natural horn of the ox. And instinctively they
have realised that melodious utterance carries farther than ordinary
speech, and so they have come to sing or hum their communications.
Furthermore, they have grown accustomed to use some song already
familiar to the listener rather than what they might improvise, and
have thus learned to pass on simple pieces of news, or a mere mood,
perhaps, in what might be called a code.

Throughout Sweden such songs and snatches and tunes, made up in olden
days by some more than usually audacious village genius, survived until
far into the past century, and in Dalecarlia and a few neighbouring
provinces they have survived to the present day in actual use. With the
flaring up of a true historical interest that followed the Romantic
movement of the early nineteenth century came a recognition of the
beauty and value of those old songs and tunes. The first man in Sweden
to make a systematic collection of them was Richard Dybeck, who,
during the years 1842-50 published a periodical for lovers of the old
which he called _Runa_--"The Rune." In 1846 the same man published a
separate collection of the folk-material just referred to under the
name of _Svenska Vallvisor och Hornlåtar_--"Swedish Herd-Songs and
Horn-Melodies."

Both this little volume and the issues of "The Rune" must have come
under the attention of Strindberg at an early period, and to both he
remained strongly attached throughout life. In the pages of those
two Dybeck publications he found almost everything that makes "The
Bridal Crown" what it is--a remarkable picture of the external life and
internal spirit of the Dalecarlian people. The musical duet between
_Kersti_ and _Mats_ in the first scene is the basis of the whole play.
It is found in Dybeck's work just as Strindberg has used it--both the
music and the words. The legend has it that a young man and a young
woman, herding cattle in adjoining pastures, fell in love with each
other. The girl bore a child, which they nursed together as they best
could, having tried to legitimise it by going through a simple wedding
ceremony of their own improvisation. Once, when the girl could not get
back to the pasture at night, she used her alpenhorn to communicate
that fact to her lover and ask him to look after the baby. This legend
is found all over Sweden in very slightly modified form.

To the old legend Strindberg has added the still more ancient Montecchi
and Capuletti theme from "Romeo and Juliet," making the two lovers the
offspring of mutually jealous and hostile families, and thereby giving
the play the tragical twist which his mood required. How he was turned
in this direction I don't know, but his work on the historical play,
"Gustavus Vasa"--it was written in 1899, and "The Bridal Crown" seems
to have been completed in the winter of 1900-1--had taken his mind to
Dalecarlia, where its first act is laid. And the idea of a play built
on Swedish folk-themes seems to have been long present in his mind.

For folk-colour as well as for local verisimilitude, he drew freely
both on Dybeck and on other repositories of old Swedish lore and
legend and superstition. One of the beauties of the play is that so
many of the extranatural figures and elements introduced are common
to the whole country. The Neck, or the Man of the Rapids, or the
Brookman (_Necken, Forskarlen_, or _Bäckamannen_) exists in popular
fancy wherever a peasant has put his plough into Swedish soil. He
is a creature of the thousand rivers and brooks that beribbon the
land from the arctic circle down to the fertile planes of Scania, and
always he is associated with an unusual gift of music and with the
fallen angel's longing for the lost Paradise. From Norrland to Scania
is told the anecdote of the tot who heard the Neck sing the song
used by Strindberg--"I am hoping, I am hoping that my Redeemer still
liveth"--and who called out to him: "There is no Redeemer for you." On
returning home, the child told his parents of what had happened and
was ordered to go back with a less discouraging message to the wailing
spirit of the waters.

The _Midwife_, half human, half extranatural, is another familiar
figure, mostly called the Wood-Imp (_Skogsrå_). The queer snatches
uttered by her from time to time are old Swedish riddles or
"guess-rhymes," which Strindberg also found in Dybeck's work, and which
he has employed very effectively as spells or incantations. That quaint
dualistic revenant, which is called the _Mewler_ as an apparition,
and the _Mocker_ as a bodiless voice, exists in the imagination of
the people all over Sweden. It is a creation of the moral instinct,
designed for the discouragement of poor maidens who have born a child
"in hiding," as the old phrase puts it, and who may be tempted into
ridding themselves of such a burden--a crime that has figured too
frequently in the criminal annals of the country.

The word _Myling_, which I have had to translate as _Mewler,_ is said
to come from a verb meaning to kill, to choke, to bury, or to cover
up. It is related to _mylla_, mould, however, and when we find the
same term, _mylingar, Mewlings_, applied to the relatives of _Kersti_,
this characterises them not as "murtherlings," as Strindberg's German
translator would have it, but as "mouldings," as people delving in the
soil. In the original text, the name applied both to the apparition of
_Kersti's_ dead baby and to her relatives is the same. I have thought
this too confusing for English-speaking readers, and have made two
terms to get the needed dearness and distinction.

It remains finally to say a word about the keystone to the whole
dramatic conflict in the play--the desire of _Kersti_ to wear a crown
at her wedding--to be a "crown-bride," as the Swedish phrase and the
name of the original text both have it. The chief ornaments of a
Swedish bride have always been the crown, the wreath, and the veil--and
so they are to this very day. The wreath is generally made out of
myrtle. The crown is nowadays almost invariably made out of the same
material. But it used to be of metal, richly ornamented, and kept ready
for use in every country church throughout the land. It was another
device meant to encourage morality, the convention being that only
a chaste young woman could wear the crown at her wedding--only one
"worthy" of it, as the old phrase had-it. To go to church without that
ornament was, of course, a most humiliating confession, and tended to
detract largely from the riotous joy of the festivity which the Swedish
peasants have always placed above all others--the wedding. Originally
the crown also served another purpose, however. It was, as I have
already said, kept in the church and lent only with the sanction of the
clergy. In other words, it was reserved for the bride whose relatives
consented to have a church wedding at a time when the sacramental
character of the ceremony had not yet become popularly recognised. For
ages the Swedish wedding was wholly a secular ceremony based on the old
custom of bride-barter, and it took the Catholic Church many centuries
to turn it into a religious rite.

There are a few minor points that need some clearing up, too. The
position of _Kersti's_ father, the _Soldier_, must be a puzzle to
non-Swedish readers. The presence of the picture of King Charles XV on
the wall of the _Soldier's_ cottage indicates that the action takes
place in the eighteen-sixties, before the reorganisation of the Swedish
army on the basis of universal conscription had been carried out. At
that time each province had to furnish one or more regiments. The
maintenance of this soldiery fell directly on the small landholders,
and from two to ten of these formed a _rote_ or "file" having to
employ, equip, and maintain one soldier. Each soldier had a cottage
and a small patch of soil furnished him by the men responsible for his
up-keep. Under such circumstances the soldier would seem likely to fall
into the position of a servant living under his masters, but that was
not at all the case. The warlike qualities and traditions of the nation
probably counteracted tendencies in that direction. Instead the soldier
became one of the recognised honoratiores of his district, ranking next
to the sexton and often filling the place of that functionary when the
office was vacant.

The use of the name of Krummedikke in connection with the lake is
a mystery I have not been able to clear up. The noble family of
Krummedige or Krummedike belonged originally in the duchy of Holstein,
but moved from there into Denmark and spread gradually into southern
Sweden and Norway. During the period of Sweden's union with Denmark
and Norway two members of that family held the famous old fortress
of Baahus (now Bohus) on behalf of the Danish king. Other members
controlled fortified places in Småland and the province of Halland
along the west coast of present Sweden. But there is no record of any
Krummedike having a "castle" in the northern part of Sweden. Whether
legends connected with this family have actually spread from southern
Sweden to Dalecarlia or the name, simply happened to catch Strindberg's
fancy I cannot tell.

The play in its entirety is one of the most impersonal Strindberg ever
wrote. Echoes of his private life are very rare--which is remarkable,
considering how plentiful they are in such a work as the historical
drama "Gustavus Vasa." In this respect "The Bridal Crown" connects
logically with Strindberg's novels and stories from the islands outside
of Stockholm: "The People at Hemsö," "Fisher Folks," and "At the Edge
of the Sea." It seems that nothing helped more to take him out of
himself and his morbid introspection than a study of the life of the
common people.

How successful he was in that study is indicated by the wide popularity
of the novels and stories in question as well as by the stage history
of "The Bridal Crown." This play has been one of the most frequently
produced of all his dramatic works. The first performance took place
on September 14, 1907, at the Swedish Theatre, Stockholm, and since
that time it has been played more than one hundred times in Stockholm
alone--which is a great deal in Sweden.

       *       *       *       *       *

The list of characters will suffice to indicate what a weird thing "The
Spook Sonata" is. Rarely has Strindberg's peculiar fancy carried him
further without bringing him to outright disaster. Mingling extreme
realism of portrayal with a symbolism that frequently borders on the
extravagant and the impossible, he has nevertheless produced a work
that bites into the consciousness of the reader and challenges his
thought to an unusual degree. The best characterisation of the play as
a whole might be to call it a symbolistic mosaic pieced together with
fragments of real life.

Reminiscences of the author's own life in all its periods recur
constantly, and yet the play cannot be called autobiographical in any
narrow sense. Not even its general tendency--if it can be said to have
one--is particularly tied up with Strindberg's view of his own fate.
No, the play is in all its aspects a generalisation along the lines
of "The Dream Play," but brought nearer to the level and superficial
appearance of every-day life.

One of its purposes is to illustrate the mysterious relationship
between seemingly disconnected things and events which Strindberg
during his latest period was so prone to discover everywhere.--When in
this super-Swedenborgian mood, he was inclined to regard the slightest
incident of daily life as a mere symbol meant to shadow or foreshadow
vaster incidents on higher levels. It would be dangerous to accept his
readings of life in this mood as so many formulations of truth, but,
on the other hand, it would be unwise to discard them as meaningless.
What must be remembered first and last in the study of Strindberg's
work is that he was primarily, if not wholly, a bearer of suggestions
rather than of final truths. We cannot go to him for knowledge of what
life actually is, but we may be sure of never reading one of his pages
without finding some new angle of approach, the use of which will help
our own thought to enlarge our knowledge of actual life. Those who
demand predigested thought will always be lost in the mazes of his
irresponsible fancy. Those who ask nothing more of literature than to
be set thinking will always find him one of the most fruitful writers
produced by modern times.

For this very reason it would be futile to attempt any explanatory
analysis of "The Spook Sonata." There must, in fact, be a separate
analysis of that kind for every thinking reader. One may say, of
course, that its name as well as the strange function which forms
its central scene, points to an interpretation of all human life as a
ghostly reflection of wasted and buried possibilities. But there is
charity as well as bitterness in the play, and it seems to preach the
lesson that we owe tolerance to every man but him who thinks himself
better than the rest. It warns, too, against that interference with
other lives which seems to have been one of the haunting spectres of
Strindberg's own existence. In other words, the play may be regarded as
a final passionate expression of his will to live his own life in his
own way and of his resentment against real or fancied efforts to balk I
that will.

Dramatically this play is well worthy of study, It contains some points
that, whether successful or no in this particular connection, should
not be passed over by future playwrights. Such a point, for instance,
is the continued presence on the stage of several dumb characters
during almost the entire first scene. I do not know whether it will
come home to readers of the play that, while the conversation is going
on between the _Student_ and _Old Hummel_, for example, the _Janitress_
and the _Dark Lady_ are all the time present in the background as
living reminders of the secret threads of human life underlying the
conflict between the two men that do the talking. And the idea of
trying to render simultaneous portrayal of life within and without a
human habitation has again been tried by Strindberg in this play with
very remarkable and suggestive results.

There are several signs which indicate that Strindberg changed his plan
of the play while he was writing it. There is one character present
on the list of characters in the Swedish text that never appears--the
_Janitor_. On the other hand, that list does not contain the name of
the _Cook_, who plays such a strange part in the final scene--a sort of
infernalised Greek chorus with a Japanese soy bottle for its Dionysian
emblem. The arrangement of the stage directions in the Swedish original
indicates, too, that he intended a single setting to serve for the
whole play. He hoped probably to be able to let the action laid within
the house be seen from the outside, but, warned by his strong sense of
theatrical feasibility, he changed his plans unhesitatingly, and with
them his scenery.

Several of the minor themes running through the play may to the reader
seem not only minor but hopelessly trivial. I am thinking principally
of the constantly recurring charge against servants that they take
the nourishment out of food before serving it to their masters. This
suspicion seems to have been one of Strindberg's fixed ideas, occurring
in almost every work where the relationship between masters and
servants is at all mentioned. I think he has harped too much on this
theme, both in "The Spook Sonata" and elsewhere. I think, too, that he
is wrong in placing the responsibility with the servants. On the other
hand, I think one of his services is that he works with modern science
to bring us a better realisation of the dose interrelation between
the material basis of our existences and the more important spiritual
overtones.

"The Spook Sonata" was written and published in 1907. It was played for
the first time on January 27, 1908, at the Intimate Theatre, Stockholm,
reaching a total of twelve performances.

       *       *       *       *       *

The little scene named "The First Warning" is frankly autobiographical.
It relates an actual incident from Strindberg's first marriage, to
which, I think, he makes reference in "A Fool's Confession"--a work, by
the bye, which should really be named "A Fool's Plea" in English.

In spite of sinister undertones, "The First Warning" is distinctly
a comedy, and practically the only short thing in a lighter vein
written by Strindberg. At first he named it "The First Tooth," but he
had adopted the present title before the original publication--with
three other one-act plays--occurred, in 1893. In Germany the play is
known under the name "Signs of Autumn" (_Herbstzeichen_). Beginning on
September 10, 1910, it was given eight times in all at the Intimate
Theatre, Stockholm, but long before that time it had been played a
number of times on various German stages.

       *       *       *       *       *

King Gustavus I, founder of the Vasa dynasty, which reigned over Sweden
until 1818, has rightly been called the "father" of his country and the
builder of modern Sweden. He finished the war of liberation, by which
the hampering and unsatisfactory union between Sweden and the other two
Scandinavian kingdoms was finally severed. But he did much more. He
reorganised the whole country, in all its departments, on such a basis
of efficiency that it became able to play the part of a great European
power for more than a century. Some have pictured him as a sort of
superman. Others have called him a mere country squire, applying the
methods of stable and barn to a whole country. Both those views of him
are probably correct as well as incorrect. He was undoubtedly first of
all an able and conscientious peasant on a large scale, but as such he
was very much in place at a time when agriculture was the only source
of income that could be called national. And his cares on behalf of
commerce and mining show him to have had a very broad and foresighted
view of husbandry.

The figure of the first Vasa took an early hold of Strindberg's
imagination. He introduced it in the first version of his first great
play, "Master Olov." But there the king was a subordinate character--so
much so, in fact, that he did not appear at all in the final metrical
version of the play, completed in 1877. At that time Strindberg was
more interested in _Master Olov_, the dreaming idealist who placed
religious reform above political and economical reorganisation. When,
in 1899, he returned to "old King Gustav," his interest had shifted,
and in this play, said to be his greatest historical drama--and one of
the greatest of its kind in the annals of modern literature--the royal
figure dominates absolute.

When I first contemplated a translation of this play I feared it would
be necessary to preface it with a condensed history of Sweden during
the early sixteenth century. Having finished my task, I find that an
elaborate historical introduction would merely be a duplication of the
work done by the playwright. Barring a few minor points that have been
illuminated by notes, all the history needed for the understanding of
the play will be found within the play itself. The truth of the matter
is that Strindberg was not writing history but poetry, and that he
was more anxious to portray human character than to set forth all too
familiar historical events.

He portrayed his main character in more than one way and sense,
however. The _King_, as we find him in the drama, is a wonderfully
vivid and faithful reconstruction of a great man that has writ
himself in large letters on the map of his country. But he is also
a symbolisation of a type that will always remain one of the most
fascinating of all that people the earth: that of the ruler who is
conscious both his mission and of the price that must be paid for its
fulfilment. The problem of Strindberg's play might be said to be this:
granted such a mission, how much has a man the right to pay for its
proper fulfilment? And as behoves a poet Strindberg has brought this
problem to no triumphant "Q.E.D." His ambiguous, yet tremendously
significant, answer seems to be: "Such a man has the right to do
whatever his mission demands, even though it may go against his grain
as an individual, but he must be humble about it and not confuse
himself with Providence." _Gustavus_ is humbled and made to suffer, not
because of this or that act, but because of an inclination to consider
his own mission the only one in sight.

A few words need to be said about the chronology of the play. In
accordance with his theories in regard to historical playwriting
Strindberg has dealt very freely with dates and facts. The play
occupies a period of about two years, which length of time separates
the first act from the four last. These take place within a few days.
The historical events that enter as material into the play were spread
over nearly twenty years, and Strindberg has not hesitated to introduce
them in reversed order either. This license must be considered in
the light of what I have already said about his intentions. His main
concern was to show how the principal character would act under certain
given circumstances, and to use those circumstances in the manner most
apt to throw light on the character in question. And in this respect he
has undoubtedly been successful.

The Swedes think so, at least. "Gustavus Vasa" has drawn grudging
approval from Strindberg's worst enemies among his own countrymen. The
first performance of the play, which took place on October 17, 1899,
at the Swedish Theatre, Stockholm, turned at the time into a national
event. The play has since then been revived several times, particularly
in connection with the celebration of its author's sixtieth and
sixty-third birthday anniversaries, in 1909 and 1912. In all, the play
has been performed about one hundred times in Stockholm alone, and it
has been given on several German stages with striking success.

       *       *       *       *       *

A word should be said concerning the spelling of Swedish names used in
this volume. It can hardly be called a system at all. It is neither
Swedish nor English. It is a frank compromise, designed exclusively to
make the reading of the plays as easy as possible to English-speaking
readers. Some time in the future, when the knowledge of the
Scandinavian literatures and languages has reached a more advanced
stage in this country, I should like to see a revised edition with the
original Swedish spelling of all names preserved throughout.



THE BRIDAL CROWN

(KRONBRUDEN)

A FOLK-PLAY IN SIX SCENES

1902



CHARACTERS

    MATS
    KERSTI
    _The_ MOTHER _of_ KERSTI
    _The_ SOLDIER, _her father_
    _The_ VERGER, _her grandfather_
    BRITA, _the grown-up sister of_ MATS
    _The_ GRANDFATHER }
    _The_ GRANDMOTHER }
    _The_ FATHER      } _of_ MATS
    _The_ MOTHER      }
    ANNA      }
    LIT-KAREN } _younger sisters of_ MATS
    LIT-MATS, _the small brother of_ MATS
    _The_ SHERIFF
    _The_ PASTOR
    _The_ FISHERMAN
    _The_ MIDWIFE
    _The_ NECK
    _The_ CHILD IN WHITE
    _The_ MEWLER (_Mylingen_), _an apparition_
    _The_ MOCKER (_Skratten_), _a voice_
    _The_ HEADSMAN
    MATS'S RELATIVES, _called the_ MILL-FOLK
    KERSTI'S RELATIVES, _called the_ MEWLINGS (_Mylingarne_)
    FOUR BRIDESMAIDS
    SIX SERVANT-GIRLS
    TWO FIDDLERS
    TWO SOLDIERS


SCENARIO

    SCENE   I.  THE HILL PASTURE
    SCENE  II.  THE FAMILY COUNCIL AT THE MILL
    SCENE III.  THE SOLDIER'S HOUSE ON THE EVE OF THE WEDDING
    SCENE  IV.  THE WEDDING AT THE MILL
    SCENE   V.  AT THE CHURCH: THE PENANCE OF KERSTI
    SCENE  VI.  ON THE ICE OF THE LAKE

FIRST SCENE


        _A hill pasture in Dalecarlia. A hut of rough-hewn boards,
        painted red, Stands at the left. Beside it grow two birches
        with trunks that are white clear down to the ground_.

        _On the right-hand side appears a sloping hillside covered
        with spruces. The hillside is cut by a large brook forming a
        waterfall. At the foot of it is a tarn covered by water-lilies.
        The background shows a big lake bordered by blue hills. A
        church is visible across the lake_.

        _A grindstone set in a wooden frame stands in the foreground by
        the corner of the hut_.

        _It is Sunday evening, about sunset time_.

        KERSTI'S MOTHER _sits on a wooden block outside the hut,
        smoking her pipe_.

        KERSTI _enters with an alpenhorn in her hand. She stops in
        front of her_ MOTHER.


MOTHER. Where have you been all this time, daughter?

KERSTI. In the woods, mother.

MOTHER. Picking strawberries, I suppose. Your lips are so red.

KERSTI. Why did you call me, mother?

MOTHER. The woods were full of noises, child, and of stealthy
footfalls. Could it be the bear?

KERSTI. Can't tell.

MOTHER. I thought I heard the strokes of an axe, but maybe I was
mistaken.

KERSTI. The bear uses no axe, mother.

MOTHER. Why dressed up in your best, daughter?

KERSTI. It's Sunday, mother.

MOTHER. There is milk on your tucker, child. Have you been milking
May-dew or Starbright?

KERSTI. Could I but milk the stars--and the moon, O!

MOTHER. While it's night, O!

KERSTI. Day and night!

MOTHER. Night and day!--Yes, I know! Beware of the bear!

KERSTI. Do you think he would tear my pet cow?

MOTHER. Have you lost her?

KERSTI. Shall I ask Anna?

MOTHER. You had better!

KERSTI. [_Picks up her alpenhorn and sounds a melody; see musical
appendix, Melody No_. 1. _Then she sings; see Melody No_. 2]

"Too-la-loo, Ann at Boorness!
Do you see my cosset cow
Over there at your place?"

MATS. [_Answering from a distance in a dear tenor voice; see musical
appendix, Melody No_. 3]

"Too-la-loo, so I do.
Come at once:
Cosset cow is here now!"

MOTHER. What a deep voice Anna has got!

KERSTI. She has been calling her cows since the sun began to set.

MOTHER. What do you hear down there in the valley, child?

KERSTI. The big bell of the cow, the low bell of the goat....

MOTHER. Oh, no!

KERSTI. I can hear the cock crowing and the dog barking, the gun
banging and the cart clanking, and the oars saying "duck-duck" in the
rowlocks.

MOTHER. Whose cock do you mean, and whose dog?

KERSTI. The miller's.

MOTHER. What's his name? Is it Anna?

        KERSTI _looks embarrassed and does not answer_.

MOTHER. What do you see down there in the valley?

KERSTI. The water-wheel in the mill-race, the smoke from the chimney....

MOTHER. Whose chimney? The mill-folk's, I suppose?

KERSTI. It's growing dark, mother.

MOTHER. I _am_ going--before it grows still darker! [_She rises to her
feet_] This has been the longest Sunday in all my life!--What kind of a
smell is that?

KERSTI. I smell the woods; I smell the cattle; I smell the hay.

MOTHER. No, it was tattle-berries you were picking! [_For a while she
stands still, lost in thought; then she sings; see musical appendix,
Melody No_. 4]

    "The joy that was mine
    Has been turned into woe!"

KERSTI. It is growing dark, mother!

MOTHER. So I see, daughter mine. The darkness is coming down on us
heavy as a pall, and downward goes my path now--ever downward! But you
must stay to watch the curds. And trust me to see if you let the fire
go out.

KERSTI. Trust me to see that the fire won't go out, mother.

MOTHER. Good night, then. And don't forget your evening prayers!

KERSTI. Good night, mother.

MOTHER. "The joy that was mine has been turned into woe!" Don't forget
your evening prayers!

        [_She goes out to the left_.

KERSTI _opens the door of the hut. A big pot is seen hanging over the
fire, on which she puts more wood; coming out again, she looks around
to make sure that her mother is gone; then she picks up the alpenhorn
and sounds another wordless melody on it. [See musical appendix, Melody
No_. 5.]

MATS. [_Is heard singing outside, on the right-hand side; see musical
appendix, Melody No_. 6]

    "Kersti dearest,
    Kersti dearest,
    Baby sleeps in the forest."

KERSTI. [_Answers in the same way; see Melody No_. 7]

    "Dillery-dell!
    Fareth he well,
    Fareth he well
    Far in the forest?"

MATS. [_Answers as before; see Melody No_. 8]

    "Nothing to fear!
    Nothing to fear!
    Baby sleeps in his cradle here,
    Far, far, in the forest!"


KERSTI. [_Singing; see Melody No_. 9]

    "Haste to the house and milk the cows,
    And see that baby lacks nothing.
    I cannot come, must stay at home,
    Helping my folks with the baking."

MATS. [_Answers as before; see Melody No_. 10]

    "Birches nod in the blowing breeze,
    But baby slumbers in perfect peace,
    Kersti, Kersti, dearest!"

        _A strong wind springs up. The centre of the stage grows dark,
        but the sun is still shining on the tops of spruces on the
        hillside_.

        _Very faintly at first, then more and more clearly, the yells
        and cries of a gang of game beaters are heard. These are
        followed by the snapping of branches, the baying of hounds, the
        trampling of horses in trot and gallop, the cracking of guns,
        the snarling of rattles, the crashing of trees that fall, and,
        above all, the constantly rising roar of the waterfall_.

        _Finally a canon is sounded by ten hunting-horns, the first
        horn repeating its theme while the rest join in one by one.
        [See musical appendix, Melody No_. 11.]

        _Badly frightened_, KERSTI _stands staring in every direction
        while the noise lasts. When it has died away in the distance
        and the woods are silent again, she brings bunches of spruce
        branches and spreads them on the ground, covering them at last
        with a brightly coloured rag carpet. Next she fetches two young
        spruce-trees that have been stripped of branches and bark, so
        that only their tops remain green. These she places beside the
        door of the hut, one on either side. Then she goes to the tarn
        and picks a number of white water-lilies, which she binds into
        a wreath_.

        MATS _enters from the left, carrying a baby in a cradle of
        leather with straps attached to it_.


KERSTI. Baby, baby darling! Is he still asleep?

MATS. Indeed he is!

KERSTI. Bring him here, and we'll let the trees rock him.

        _They hang the cradle between the two birches that are swayed
        gently by the wind_.

KERSTI. [_Humming_] "Birches nod in the blowing breeze, but baby
slumbers in perfect peace.".... Did you hear the hunt, Mats?

MATS. No hunt at this time of day, girl!

KERSTI. But I heard it!

MATS. Hardly!--What did your mother have to say?

KERSTI. She bothered me until I thought she would bother the life out
of me.

MATS. Yes, dear, there can be no peace or happiness for us until our
union has been hallowed and our baby baptised.

KERSTI. As long as the old folk resist there can be no wedding. But we
must pray the Lord to bless our union before we give baby a name.

MATS. So we have agreed, and now it may as well be done.

KERSTI. Everything is ready, as you see.

MATS. It's well done, but--we're a sorry couple for all that, and a
sorry wedding we're having.

KERSTI. Let the Lord look into our minds and hearts, and if they hold
no evil--what matters the rest? Have you brought the Book?

MATS. I have. But are you sure, dear, that what we mean to do is not
sinful?

KERSTI. Why should it be? Don't you know that the midwife can baptise
in case of need?

MATS. Well, that's the midwife!

KERSTI. [_Putting the wreath on her head_] Let us begin!

MATS. In the name of the Lord! And may we never come to regret it!
[_They kneel on the carpet, facing each other_; MATS _takes out a
ring, which they hold between them while he is reading out of the
prayer-book_] "I, Mats Anders Larsson, take you, Kersti Margaret
Hansdaughter, to be my wedded wife, whom I will love in good days and
bad, and in token thereof I give you this ring."

KERSTI. "I, Kersti Margaret Hansdaughter, take you, Mats Anders
Larsson, to be my wedded husband, whom I will love in good days and
bad, and in token thereof I give you this ring."

        _They pray in silence for a while; then they rise and take hold
        of each other's hands, but they do not kiss each other_.

MATS. Now you are mine in the sight of God, dear, and after this we
won't mind what people may say.

KERSTI. That remains to be seen.

MATS. And what have we to eat, dear.

KERSTI. Nothing at all, Mats.

MATS. Then there is nothing left but to smoke.

        _They seat themselves on two small, three-legged stools and we
        flint and steel to light their pipes_.

MATS. [_When they have smoked a while in silence_] What was that you
said about the hunt just now?

KERSTI. I haven't the heart to tell, Mats. I haven't the heart since I
guessed what folk they were.

MATS. Better not, maybe!... Look at the cradle--going as if it could
rock itself.

KERSTI. That's the wind, Mats; the wind in the birches.

MATS. But there is no wind in the spruces over there.

KERSTI. So I see. Surely the evil ones are abroad to-night.

MATS. Don't talk of them!

KERSTI. Do you see my smoke going northward?

MATS. And mine southward!

KERSTI. The gnats are dancing....

MATS. Which means a wedding....

KERSTI. Do you think we are happier now?

MATS. Hardly!

KERSTI. Do you hear the cry of the blackcock?

MATS. A sure sign of wedding....

KERSTI. But not a single church bell to be heard MATS. It's Sunday, and
the ringing during the day has made them tired What shall we call the
little one?

KERSTI. [_In wild rebellion_] Burden and Ill-luck and Un-asked and
crown-thief....

MATS. Why crown-thief?

KERSTI. Because and because and because Even if we get a real wedding,
I can wear no crown! What should he be called? Bride-spoil, Mother-woe,
Forest-find!

MATS. Badly fares who badly does!

KERSTI. Yes, that's for you to say!

_The_ MOTHER _of_ KERSTI _appears on the hillside among the spruces and
stands looking at_ MATS _and her daughter_.

MATS. There are evil eyes about!

KERSTI. And evil thoughts.... What you brew I have to drink. What you
grind I have to bake.

        _The_ MOTHER _disappears_.

MATS. Can you tell what made our families hate each other so fiercely?

KERSTI. It had to do with land--with bought favours, and ill-gotten
gains, and corrupt judges, and--everything that's bad, bad, bad!

MATS. And then the hatred turned into liking, love, lust....

KERSTI. All of it poisoned....

MATS. How dark it turns when the hatred breaks through!

KERSTI. [_Throwing her wreath into the tarn_] Well may you say so! The
devil take the wreath, as I can't have a crown....

MATS. Don't say that!

KERSTI. We hold wedding like beggars, and rascals, and roving folk....
What is it you cannot eat or drink, but that tastes good for all that?
It's tobacco--and that's all you get for a wedding-feast! The fire
under the kettle is going out, Mats. Go and fetch some wood. It's all
the dancing there will be.

MATS. If tokens tell the truth, you were born to be a queen!

KERSTI. Maybe! Surely not to milk the cows!

MATS. And the baby, the baby, the dear little thing!

KERSTI. The poor dear! Oh, what will become of us? What can be in store
for us? Get some wood, Mats! Mother will beat me if the milk doesn't
curdle. Go, Mats!

MATS. There was a time when you served my father, KERSTI, and now it's
my turn to serve you. Because he was harsh to you, I'll be good to you!

KERSTI. Yes, Mats, you are good, but I am not. If I only were!

MATS. Try to be!

KERSTI. Try to be bad, Mats, and we'll see if you can.

MATS. You don't mean it!

KERSTI. Who can tell?--Get away from here, Mats, and hurry up! Somebody
is coming. I know her steps. It's mother!

MATS. Your mother?--And how about the baby?

KERSHI. [_Picks up the carpet and throws it across the cradle; then she
takes her sheepskin coat that has been hanging on the outside wall of
the hut and spreads it on top of the carpet_] Go, go, go!

MATS. Be careful about baby--be careful now!

        [_He goes out_.

KERSTI. Of course, of course!

MOTHER. [_Entering from the left_] Was it Anna that was here?

KERSTI. It was.

MOTHER. [_Looking hard at_ KERSTI] And she left when I came?--What a
voice she has!

KERSTI. Yes, has she not?

MOTHER. And she cut the wedding poles, too, and spread the spruce?

KERSTI. What is strange about that?

MOTHER. [_Pulling_ KERSTI _by the hair_] Storyteller, hussy,
strumpet....

KERSTI. [_Raising her hand against her_ MOTHER] Take care!

MOTHER. Will you lay hand on your own mother, you trull? Is that what
Mats has been teaching you? His father drove us from house and home,
and now you take the son in your arms, daughter mine.... O!

KERSTI. That such things can be said.... O!

MOTHER. [_Pointing to the cradle_] What have you there?

KERSTI. Clothes to be aired.

MOTHER. Small ones, I guess.

KERSTI. Not so very.

MOTHER. And inside the cradle?

KERSTI. Small wash--not for small ones.

MOTHER. The child is there!

KERSTI. What child?

MOTHER. Yours!

KERSTI. There is no such thing!

MOTHER. Will you swear?

KERSTI. I swear! May the Neck get me if I lie!

MOTHER. You shouldn't swear by the evil one.

KERSTI. I will swear by no one else!

MOTHER. [_Seating herself_] There is talk in the village.

KERSTI. Indeed?

MOTHER. A queer sort of talk.

KERSTI. No, really?

MOTHER. They say that Mats is to have the mill.

KERSTI [_Rising_] Is it true?

MOTHER. As true as it is that rashness always gets into trouble.

KERSTI. So Mats gets the mill? Then he will marry, I guess?

MOTHER. They talk of that, too.

KERSTI. Whom do you think?

MOTHER. Whoever it be that his fancy will take--the crown she must
surely be able to wear.

KERSTI. Oh!

MOTHER. Oh, indeed!--There is gold on your finger.

KERSTI. There is.

MOTHER. Are you pledged?

KERSTI. I am.

MOTHER. And the crown? [KERSTI _does not reply_] Have you lost it?

KERSTI. [_Walking back and forth restlessly_] You know, it was foretold
that I should wear a crown.

MOTHER. Stuff and nonsense! A virgin's crown is more beautiful than a
queen's. And happy is she who wears it with honour!

KERSTI. Oh!

MOTHER. And oh, indeed!--Little we had. Wrong we suffered. Badly we
fared. Alas the day!

KERSTI. Little we had, but shall have plenty! Luck is near!

MOTHER. Race against race, hating and hated; fire and water: now it's
coming to a boil.

KERSTI. Water may cool what the fire has heated. All will be well!

MOTHER. [_Rising to leave_] "The joy that was mine has been turned into
woe." [_She goes toward the right_] There is a wreath floating on the
water--where's the crown?

        [_She goes out_.

KERSTI. It will come, it will come!

NECK. [_Appears at the foot of the falls surrounded by a bright, white
light; he wears a red cap, and a silvery tunic fastened about the
waist with a green sash; he is young and fair, with blond hair that is
falling down his back; he has a fiddle of gold with a bow of silver,
and plays to his own singing; see musical appendix, Melody No_. 12] "I
am hoping, I am hoping that my Redeemer still liveth."

KERSTI. [_Who has been lost in thought, becomes aware of the_ Neck;
_when he has repeated his song twice, she remarks sneeringly_] There is
no redeemer for you, I can tell you!

        _The_ NECK _pauses for a while and looks sadly at her; then he
        repeats the same song twice again_.

KERSTI. If you'll keep quiet I'll let you play at my wedding.

        _The_ NECK _nods assent and vanishes into the rock behind the
        falls_.

MIDWIFE. [_Enters from behind the hut wearing a wide Hack cloak and a
close-fitting black hood; she carries a bag under her cloak, and she is
very careful never to let her back be seen_] Good evening, my dear. I
hope my visit is not inconvenient.

KERSTI. You are the midwife--Mrs. Larsson--are you not?

MIDWIFE. Of course, I am. It was I that helped you, my dear....

KERSTI. Oh, yes; but you promised never to speak of it.

MIDWIFE. And we won't! How--is the little one doing?

KERSTI. [_Impatiently_] Oh, well enough!

MIDWIFE. Better not be too impatient, dear....

KERSTI. Who says I am?

MIDWIFE. The snappy voice and the tap of the little foot! But now there
is gold on your finger, I see. Then I shall be asked to a wedding
shortly, I think.

KERSTI. You?

MIDWIFE. I am always at the baptism, but can never get to a
wedding--and I think it would be such fun!

KERSTI. No doubt it would!

MIDWIFE. Of all human virtues, there is one I value above the rest....

KERSTI. I don't suppose it is chastity.

MIDWIFE. What no one has, is beyond value. That which I put value on is
gratitude.

KERSTI. You were paid, were you not?

MIDWIFE. There are services that money can't pay.

KERSTI. And people you cannot get rid of.

MIDWIFE. Exactly, my dear, and of those I am one....

KERSTI. So I find.

MIDWIFE. And there is another,

KERSTI. Who can that be?

MIDWIFE. The Sheriff!

KERSTI. [_Startled_] The Sheriff?

MIDWIFE. Yes, the Sheriff. He is a very remarkable man, and I have
heard of no one who knows the law as he does, from cover to cover....
You and I could never get all that into our heads, but--there is
one chapter I have to know by heart, being a midwife.... And a
most remarkable chapter it is, with a most remarkable number of
paragraphs.... What's the matter?

KERSTI. [_Agitated_] Tell me what you know.

MIDWIFE. Nothing at all I am nothing but a poor old woman who has come
here to get lodging for the night....

KERSTI. Lodging here?

MIDWIFE. Right here.

KERSTI. Begone!

MIDWIFE. I can't be walking the woods in the dark of the night.

KERSTI. [_Threatening her with a stick_] If you won't walk, I'll make
you run.

MIDWIFE. [_Moving back a couple of steps without turning about_] Have
we got that far now? You had better leave the stick alone, or....

KERSTI. Or what?

MIDWIFE. The Sheriff, of course, and that chapter I spoke of....

KERSTI [_With the stick raised for a blow_] Go to the devil, you cursed
witch! [_The stick breaks into small pieces_.

MIDWIFE. Ha-ha! Ha-ha!

KERSTI. [_Picks up the flint and steel, and strikes fire_] In the name
of Christ and His Passion, get thee gone!

MIDWIFE. [_Turns and runs out with the galloping movement of a wild
thing; her back, which then becomes visible, looks like that of a fox
and ends in a sweeping, bushy tail; she hisses rather than speaks_]
We'll meet at the wedding, bid or unbid! And the Sheriff, too! Ad-zee!
Ad-zee! Ad-zee!

        KERSTI _takes a few faltering steps in direction of the tarn,
        as if she meant to throw herself into the water_.

        _Then she begins to walk up and down in front of the cradle.
        After a while she takes off the round Dalecarlian jacket she
        is wearing and puts it on top of the clothing already covering
        the cradle. Finally she sits down on one of the stools by the
        corner of the hut and buries her face in her hands_.

        _The grindstone begins to whirl with a hissing sound. Little
        bells, like those worn by goats, are heard ringing in the
        woods. Little white flames appear among the spruces on the
        hillside. Cow-bells are heard dose by. The_ NECK _appears as
        before and sings the same song_.

        KERSTI _rises horror-stricken and stands like a statue_.

        _Tones like those produced by a harmonica are heard from the
        tarn. Unseen by_ KERSTI, _the_ CHILD IN WHITE _emerges from
        among the water-lilies and goes to the cradle. Then all sounds
        die out. The grindstone comes to a stop. The_ NECK _disappears.
        All the will-o'-the-wisps but one go out_.

        _Still unseen by_ KERSTI, _the_ CHILD IN WHITE _rocks the
        cradle gently, puts his ear dose to it, and draws back with an
        expression of great sadness. At last he bursts into tears and
        covers his face with one arm. During this scene the beltlike
        tones from the tarn continue_.

        _The_ CHILD IN WHITE _picks several water-lilies to pieces and
        strews them on the cradle, which he finally kisses before he
        descends into the tarn again. Then the last will-o'-the-wisp
        disappears and the harmonica can no longer be heard_.

MIDWIFE. [_Enters again, carrying her bag so that it can be seen_]
Perhaps I shall be more welcome this time. Does the fair maiden care to
see the midwife now?

KERSTI. What do you bring?

MIDWIFE. [_Taking a bridal crown from her bag_] This!

KERSTI. What do you take?

MIDWIFE. [_Pointing toward the cradle_] "You see it, I see it, the
whole world sees it, and yet it is not there."[1]

KERSTI. Take it, then!

MIDWIFE. [_Goes to the cradle_] I have it. [_She takes stealthily
something from the cradle and drops it into her bag, which she then
hides under her cloak again_] Can I come to the wedding now?

KERSTI. Yes, come.

MIDWIFE. You must say that I'll be welcome.

KERSTI. That would be a lie.

MIDWIFE. You must practise....

KERSTI. Welcome, then--if you'll only leave me now!

MIDWIFE. [_Withdrawing backwards_]

    "Four that whirl and twirl;
    Eight that hurl and purl;
    Four that flip-flap in a row;
    Four that question where to go."[2]

        [_She disappears_.

MATS. [_Is heard singing triumphantly outside; see musical appendix,
Melody No_. 13] "Come, cosset, cosset, cosset; come, cosset, cosset!"

        _As_ KERSTI _hears him a happy look comes into her face, and
        she seems to swell with pride and new courage_. MATS _enters,
        with an armful of wood, looking joyful_.

KERSTI. [_Going to meet him_] Did you see anybody?

MATS. I did!--Now for the wedding! [_He dumps the wood into the hut_]
Let the kettle boil over--I am boiling, too.

KERSTI. Was it your father?

MATS. Father and mother. And I get the mill!

KERSTI. [_Showing her crown_] Do you see what I...?

MATS. Where did you get it?

KERSTI. Mother brought it for me.

MATS. Has she been here?

KERSTI. Happy as anything!

MATS. But the baby, the baby!

KERSTI. Sit down, Mats! Sit down! You know I can always find a way!

MATS. [_Seating himself_] But the baby!

KERSTI. There now!--Listen! Now, when trouble is on the wane and life
is smiling, don't you think a little patience might carry us very
far....

MATS. If only the course be straight....

KERSTI. Of course, straight and short.

MATS. What are you after?

KERSTI. If the big fish is to be hooked, the small ones must be
overlooked.

MATS. Can't you talk plainly?

KERSTI. Wait a little!

MATS. I am waiting.

KERSTI. The old folks make conditions.

MATS. Yes, I know.

KERSTI. They want a croton bride. What does that mean if not a bride
that wears a crown?

MATS. And wears it with honour!

KERSTI. With or without! What no one sees and no one knows does not
exist.

MATS. Let me think. [_He sits silent for a few moments_] All right! And
furthermore?

KERSTI. To hook what's big, you must overlook what's less.

MATS. Which does not mean the little one!

KERSTI. Do you mean to prove false?

MATS. I don't! Not to you, Kersti!

KERSTI. Suppose now--the banns have been read, the wedding is under
way, but the little one sleeps in the forest. Who will haste to the
house, and milk the cows, and see that baby lacks nothing? Who, I ask?

MATS. Well may you ask! [_He broods a while_] If we only dared.... What
was that you said?

KERSTI. Not a word.

MATS. It seems to me.... If we only dared....

KERSTI. What? Say it!

MATS. Say it yourself!

KERSTI. No, it's for you!

MATS. Somebody must take care of the little one.

KERSTI. Who?

MATS. There is only one.

KERSTI. Then it's easy to guess who!

MATS. Tell whom you mean.

KERSTI. No, you must tell.

MATS. Beside ourselves, there is only one who knows about the baby.

KERSTI. Who is that?

MATS. If you know, why don't you tell?

KERSTI. Because I want you to tell.

MATS. It's the midwife. Was that what you said?

KERSTI. I said nothing, but you did--and, as you know, I do what you
say.

MATS. I have my doubts.

KERSTI. But what you said I have done already. The baby can't stay
in the woods. It must have shelter when the nights grow cold. And if
anything should happen, then comes--the Sheriff!

MATS. The Sheriff, you say? Yes, so he does!

KERSTI. [_Leaping to her feet_] Is he coming, you say?

MATS. Yes, if something should happen.... Well, where's the midwife to
be found?

KERSTI. Would you like to call her?

MATS. I wish she were here!

KERSTI. And what do you want her to do?

MATS. Give the baby a home.

KERSTI. With whom?

MATS. With herself.

KERSTI. For how long?

MATS. Till the wedding is over.

KERSTI. But if he were taken sick while with her?

MATS. Better than have him freeze in the woods--better than have him
freeze to death! Take a look at the cradle. I think I heard him!

KERSTI. No, he's asleep....

MATS. Hush--I heard him.

KERSTI. No, you didn't!

MATS. Yes, I did. [_He rises_.

KERSTI. [_Placing herself in front of the cradle_] Don't you wake him!
If he should cry, somebody might hear.

MATS. Oh.... Do you think any one has--that your mother may have heard
him? Oh, Kersti, we should never have done what we have!

KERSTI. Undone were better!

MATS. [_Dejectedly_] We must take him to the midwife to-night. I must
go to the village.

KERSTI. I'll take him!

MATS. [_Going to the cradle_] Do!

KERSTI. But don't wake him!

MATS. Can't I bid him good night?

KERSTI. Don't touch him!

MATS. Think if I should never see him again!

KERSTI. Then it would be the will of Him whose will we cannot change.

MATS. His will be done!

KERSTI. Now you have said it!

MATS. What have I said that could please you like that?

KERSTI. That--that--you submit to the will of Him that performeth all
things.

MATS. [_Simply_] Yes, whatever may happen is His will, of course.

KERSTI. Of course!

MATS. Good night, then, Kersti dear, and good night, baby! [_He goes
out_.

KERSTI. Good night, Mats.

        KERSTI _loosens the empty cradle from its fastenings and drops
        it into the tarn, from the waters of which the_ CHILD IN WHITE
        _rises to threaten her with raised forefinger. At the sight of
        him_ KERSTI _shrinks back._ NECK. [_Appears in the same spot as
        before, but now bareheaded and carrying a golden harp, on which
        he accompanies himself; he has a threatening look as he sings;
        see musical appendix, Melody No_. 20]

    "Stilled are the waters, dark grows the sky:
    Dark grows the sky.
    Once in the world of the ages I lived,
    Blessed by the sun.
    Gone is the light,
    Conquered by night.
    Deep is my sin,
    Black as the tarn.
    Joy there is none;
    Plenty of woe.
    Torture and Shame must I name my abode:
    O!"

        _While the_ NECK _is singing_, KERSTI _hides the bridal crown
        in the hid. Then she puts out the fire under the pot. As she
        does so, the smoke pours in large quantities from the chimney,
        forming a dark background against which appear fantastically
        shaped and vividly coloured snakes, dragons, birds, etc_.

        _When_ KERSTI _comes out of the hut again, she has on a short
        Dalecarlian jacket and is carrying a bag and the alpenhorn. She
        locks the door of the hut and walks across the stage with proud
        bearing and firm steps just as the_ NECK _is singing the last
        line_.

_Curtain_.

[1] Old Swedish folk-riddle, the real solution of which is: the horizon.

[2] An old Swedish folk-riddle, the answer of which is: a carriage. The
four lines describe respectively: (1) the wheels; (2) the hoofs of the
horses; (3) their ears; (4) their eyes.



SECOND SCENE


        _The living-room of the mill. Everything is covered by white
        dust. In the background, on the right-hand side, is an open
        trap-door, showing part of the water-wheel. The end of the
        flour chute, with a bag attached to it, is protruding from the
        right wall not far from the trap-door. Near it appears a lever
        used for starting and stopping the water-wheel._

        _Large gates occupy the centre of the real wall. Heavy wooden
        shutters dose another opening farther to the left and half-way
        from the floor_.

        _In the foreground, at the right, is a huge open fireplace, in
        which a coal-fire is burning. An iron pot is hanging over the
        fire. On the left-hand side appear a bedstead, a hand-loom, a
        bobbin, a red, and a spinning-wheel. There is a door in the
        right wall_.

        _The following members of the family are seated in a circle in
        front of the fireplace: the_ GRANDFATHER; _the_ GRANDMOTHER;
        _the_ FATHER _and_ MOTHER _of_ MATS; _his sisters_, BRITA, _who
        is full-grown_, ANNA, _who is half-grown, and_ LIT-KAREN, _who
        is still a child; and his brother_, LIT-MATS, _who is also a
        mere boy. All are smoking out of small pipes with iron bowls
        and looking very serious_. BRITA _is plaiting a chain out of
        human hair_. LIT-KAREN _and_ LIT-MATS _are playing with two
        dolls_.


BRITA. [_To_ LIT-KAREN] Where did you get the doll?

LIT-KAREN. Kersti gave it to me.

BRITA. [_Taking the doll from her_] Away with it! [_To_ LIT-MATS] Where
did you get your doll?

LIT-MATS. Kersti gave it to me.

BRITA. [_Taking the doll_] Out with it!

FATHER. Hush! Hush! Grandfather is thinking. [_Silence_.

MOTHER. [_To_ BRITA] What are you doing?

BRITA. A watch-chain, but there is hardly hair enough.

MOTHER. Where can you get any?

BRITA. I know where it ought to be pulled.

MOTHER. Horses pull.

BRITA. Hens are picked, pigs give bristles, and maidens are
combed.--Combed hair is good, but cut is better.

FATHER. Hush, hush, grandfather is thinking. [_Silence_.

ANNA. [_In a low voice to_ BRITA] What is he thinking of?

BRITA. You'll hear by and by. And all will have to swallow.

ANNA. Is it about Mats? [BRITA _makes no answer_] And Kersti? Will
there be a wedding?

FATHER. Hush, hush, grandfather is thinking. [_Silence_.

ANNA. [_To_ BRITA] I'll give you some of my hair.

BRITA. Not the right colour.

ANNA. Who's got it? [BRITA _does not answer_] Is it Kersti you mean?

BRITA. Don't mention her. [_Silence_.

GRANDMOTHER. [_To_ GRANDFATHER] Have you thought it out?

GRANDFATHER. [_Who has been sitting with the Bible and the hymn-book in
his lap, lost in thought, wakes up_] I have! [_He opens the hymn-book
at haphazard and says to the others_] It is No. 278, the fourth verse:
"All at birth and death." Let us have it!

ALL. [_Read in unison like children at school_]

    "All at birth and death are equals,
    As the graveyard bones proclaim,
    Poor and rich and low and mighty
    In the end appear the same;
    And the naked new-born baby
    Brings no evidence to prove
    Whether poverty or fortune
    Will attend its fated groove."

GRANDFATHER. It is settled! "He that hath an ear, let him hear."--Is it
settled?

GRANDMOTHER. Not yet.

FATHER. Not quite.

MOTHER. The Lord beholdeth!

BRITA. What does the Scripture, say?

ANNA. "Doth God pervert judgment, or doth the Almighty pervert justice?"

LIT-KAREN. What do you want me to say?

GRANDFATHER. You must give us your advice, child, although we may not
take it. Out of the mouth of babes may come the truth.... Shall Kersti
have Mats?

LIT-KAREN. If they want each other.

GRANDFATHER. Well spoken! [_To_ LIT-MATS] And you, Lit-Mats?

LIT-MATS. [_With his fingers in his mouth_] I want my doll!

GRANDFATHER. And Mats wants his. Shall he have her?

LIT-MATS. If it is Kersti, he may, for she gave me the doll.

BRITA. Listen to him!

GRANDFATHER. Let us search the Scripture. [_He opens the Bible and
reads_] Genesis, thirty-fourth chapter and eighth verse. "And Hamor
communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your
daughter: I pray you give her him to wife." Is that enough?

GRANDMOTHER. Enough and to spare!

FATHER. There wasn't anything about the mill.

MOTHER. Let His will be done!

BRITA. [_Abruptly_] Amen.

ANNA. Verily, it shall be done!

LIT-KAREN. I like Kersti because she's nice.

LIT-MATS. Me, too!

FATHER. Hush, hush, grandfather is thinking. [_Silence_.

GRANDFATHER. [_To_ FATHER] Ask your brother-in-law to come in.

        _The_ FATHER _goes to the door in the background, where he
        stops_.

GRANDFATHER. [_Goes to the bed, pulls a box from under it, takes a
bundle of papers from the box, and turns to the_ FATHER _again_] Let
him come!

FATHER. [_Opening the door in the background_] Come in, Stig Matsson.

SHERIFF. [_Enters, dressed in uniform_] The peace of God be with you!

ALL. [_Rising_] And his blessing on you!

GRANDFATHER. It is I who have called you, Stig Matsson, and you know
the reason. Kersti Margaret Hansdaughter--[_He sighs_]--is to become
the wife of Mats Anders Larsson, my grandson. The two families have
fought and fumed at each other for a long time--all too long! At
this late hour I have come to feel that an end should be put to all
strife and ill will before my eyes are closed and I am carried to my
last rest. Take a look at these papers. [_He hands the bundle to the_
SHERIFF, _who opens it and glances at some of the papers_] They are
legal documents, deeds, wills, receipts, authorisations--belonging to
suits that have been settled or are still unsettled. Have you looked
them over?

SHERIFF. I have.

GRANDFATHER. [_Takes back the bundle_] All right! Then I shall throw
them into the fire. There is a time to hate and a time to love. The
time of hatred must come to an end I am longing for peace. Therefore,
I beg you, my next of kin, to regard all that has happened in the
past as if it had not happened at all--and I ask you: Will you forget
everything, and will you meet your new relatives without grudge or
guile, and greet them as friends? Answer me!

ALL. We will!

GRANDFATHER. Then I shall let the fire consume what is left of past
evils. [_He throws the bundle of papers into the fire, pulls the iron
lid in front of the grate, and opens three small ventilators in the
lid_] Let us be seated!

        _All seat themselves in front of the fireplace, staring at the
        red glare from the three ventilators_.

ANNA. [_To_ BRITA, _in a low voice_] Do you hear it sing?

BRITA. No, it moans. And within me it's aching!

        _The_ GRANDFATHER _rises. Then all the rest follow his example_.

GRANDFATHER. [_To the_ FATHER] Bring them in!

        _The_ FATHER _goes to the door at the right and brings in_ MATS.

        _The_ MOTHER _goes to the door in the rear and opens it_.
        KERSTI _enters, accompanied by her_ MOTHER, _her father, the_
        SOLDIER, _who is wearing the old full-dress uniform of the
        Swedish infantry of the line, and her grandfather, the_ VERGER.

GRANDFATHER. May God bless you! And be seated, please!

        _All seat themselves except_ MATS, KERSTI, _and the_ SHERIFF.
        MATS _has taken hold of_ KERSTI _by both hands. Long silence_.

GRANDFATHER. When is the wedding to be?

MATS. In a fortnight, as soon as the banns have been read the third
time.

GRANDFATHER. What is the hurry?

        KERSTI _shows evidence of being offended_.

MATS. Haven't we waited long enough?

GRANDFATHER. Maybe you have!

MATS. [_To his relatives_] Have you no word to say to Kersti? [_Pause_]
Not one of you?

SHERIFF. [_Goes to_ KERSTI _and takes her by the hands with evident
friendliness_] Let us welcome the new child!

        _Panic-stricken_, KERSTI _tries to tear herself loose_.

SHERIFF. You are not afraid of me, are you?--Oh, no!--Look me in the
face, Kersti. I have dandled you on my knees when you were a little
child, and I have held your pretty head in my hands.... Yes, you have a
very pretty head, and a forehead that makes me think of a bull. That's
why you are having your own way now, I suppose.

        [_He lets go of her_.

GRANDFATHER. Let us leave the young ones alone!

        _Alt rise, walk past_ MATS _and_ KERSTI, _and disappear through
        the door in the rear_.

BRITA. [_Who is the last to leave, spits scornfully as she passes_
KERSTI] Fie!

MATS. [_Spitting in the same way_] Fie yourself!

        KERSTI _and_ MATS _are left alone_.

MATS. I hope you will feel at home with me, Kersti!

KERSTI. With you, yes!

MATS. What have you to do with the others?

KERSTI. That's the question.

MATS. You are not marrying the family.

KERSTI. But into it.

MATS. Of course, we are not very soft or cuddlesome.

KERSTI. That's plain.... Is this the place where we are to live?

MATS. Yes, what do you think of it?

KERSTI. Everything is white....

MATS. It's the flour, you see. Do you object?

KERSTI. And damp....

MATS. It's the mill-race....

KERSTI. And cold, too....

MATS. It's the water....

KERSTI. Shall we have new furniture?

MATS. There will be nothing new. Everything is handed down from one
generation to another.

KERSTI. But we can sweep, can't we?

MATS. No, we can't! The dust in a mill is like the coating in a pipe.
Mustn't be touched!

KERSTI. Is that the wheel?

MATS. That's the wheel.

        _He pulls the lever, whereupon the rushing of the water through
        the race is heard, and the wheel begins to turn_.

KERSTI. Ugh! Have we to listen to that noise?

MATS. It's ours! And we should be thankful as long as we hear it,
because that means we have grist for the mill.

KERSTI. And the sun never gets here?

MATS. Never! How could it?

KERSTI. And nothing grows here--except that green stuff on the wheel.

MATS. But we catch eels here and lampreys.

KERSTI. Ugh! I like it better in the pasture, where the wind is
blowing....

MATS. And the birches rock....

KERSTI. [_Covering her face with the apron and weeping_] Must I live in
a place like this, beneath the water, at the bottom of the sea?

MATS. I was born here.

KERSTI. And here we are to die--O!

MATS. Why "O"?

KERSTI. Stop the wheel at least.

MATS. Well, if you can't get along with the wheel, then....

KERSTI. [_Opening a trap-door in the floor_] What's down here?

MATS. The river.

KERSTI. Please stop that wheel!

MATS. [_Labours with the lever, but is unable to stop the wheel]_ Well!
There must be mischief abroad!--It won't stop!

KERSTI. I shall die here!

MATS. I must go outside to stop it! There is mischief abroad, I tell
you!

KERSTI. And at home?

MATS. Oh, dear!

KERSTI. "Meow, said the cat."[1]

MATS. What is the matter?

KERSTI. Merely that I have got what I wanted.

MATS. And it was not worth having? [_The noise made by the wheel has
become, deafening, and the wheel itself has begun to turn in the
opposite direction_] Christ Jesus, help! The wheel is turning backward!

        [_He runs out through the rear door_.

        KERSTI _remains alone_.

        _The handloom starts. The bobbin, the reel, and the
        spinning-wheel begin to turn, each one in its own manner. The
        stage becomes brightly illumined as if with sunlight. Then
        the room turns very dark. The fireplace swings around so that
        the glare from the ventilators confronts_ KERSTI _like three
        burning eyes. It looks as if the fireplace were chasing her.
        Then it drops back into its accustomed place. The roar of the
        water-wheel increases again. The_ NECK _appears in the wheel
        with the red cap on his head, and the golden fiddle in his
        hand. Be sings and plays as before, repeating the brief tune
        several times_.

        NECK. "I am hoping, I am hoping, that my Redeemer still liveth!"

        KERSTI. [_Running out through the rear door_] Mats, Mats!

        _The_ NECK _disappears, but his song is still heard for a
        while, as it gradually dies away in the distance_.

MIDWIFE. [_Enters, opens the small trap-door in the floor, and drops
her leather bag through it_] "If you come back, it's all off, and if
you don't, it's all on!" Now that's done! And I shall dance at the
wedding!

        _She takes some dance steps, but without letting her back be
        seen. The hand-loom begins to rap in waltz time, accompanied by
        the bobbin, the reel, and the spinning-wheel. Then the_ MIDWIFE
        _disappears through the rear door, showing her back with the
        fox tail for a brief moment. The handloom, the bobbin, the
        reel, and the spinning-wheel keep right on as before_.

        KERSTI _enters, and at once everything stops. A moment later
        the_ VERGER _enters_.

KERSTI. Is that you, grandfather?

VERGER. Yes, girl, I forgot something.

        _He picks up a large leather bag which he dropped on the bed at
        his first entrance_.

KERSTI. What have you there?

VERGER. I come from the sacristy, and I am taking home the numbers to
be polished.

KERSTI. What numbers?

VERGER. Those that show the hymns you are to sing, don't you know?

KERSTI. Let me see!

VERGER. [_Takes out of his bag a small black board, such as is found
in every Swedish church; it has a number of nails on which are hung
numbers made of brass_] Here you can see.... What's the matter,
sweetheart?

KERSTI. I don't know, grandfather, but I think I should never have come
here....

VERGER. What talk is that, child?

KERSTI. There is mischief astir in this house....

VERGER. Oh, mercy, no...; No, my dear....

KERSTI. Oh, oh, oh! Everything has grown so strange all of a sudden....

VERGER. But how is this going to end, Kersti?

KERSTI. Yes, tell me, tell me!

VERGER. I must go now, child. I must go back to the church and get the
crown so I can send it to a goldsmith. It has to be cleaned with cream
of tartar....

KERSTI. All right, grandfather....

VERGER. It is for your sake the crown is to be cleaned--for your own
sake, don't you know?...

        [_He goes out by the rear door_.

        _The_ SOLDIER _enters immediately afterward_.

KERSTI. Is that you, father?

SOLDIER. Yes, it's only me. I want my chaco, which I left in here.

        [_He picks up the chaco_.

KERSTI. Oh, father, father, I am so unhappy....

SOLDIER. [_Drily_] What has happened?

KERSTI. Nothing!

SOLDIER. Why should you be unhappy, then?

KERSTI. You don't understand!

SOLDIER. [_Brusquely, as he adjusts the chin-strap of the chaco_] Come
to your senses, child!

KERSTI. Don't go, father!

SOLDIER. The sorrows of love pass quickly--Come to your senses is my
advice. Do come to your senses! [_He goes out._

        BRITA _enters_.

KERSTI. And what have _you_ forgotten?

BRITA. I never forget anything.

KERSTI. What are you looking for?

BRITA. You!

KERSTI. How kindly!

BRITA. Yes, is it not?

KERSTI. You hateful thing!

BRITA. You hussy!

KERSTI. You--sister-in-law!

BRITA. Who knows?

KERSTI. Are you telling my fortune, you witch?

BRITA. Yes--a rope!

KERSTI. Should not be mentioned in the house of a hanged man!

BRITA. [_Goes to the bag attached to the end of the flour chute_] Now
I shall tell your fortune! You get the mill, and the grist will be
accordingly. [_She takes from the bag a handful of black mould out of
which she forms a small mound on the floor; then she says_]

    "Vagrant women
    Grind for their men
    Meal out of mould
    As only food."[1]

KERSTI. A witch you are, indeed!

BRITA. Yes, and one who can find buried treasures! Perhaps you will let
me find a little treasure for you?

KERSTI. Take care, you witch! Have you no shame? It's mortal sin you
are practising now! You should be burned by fire, for I am sure you
would float if thrown in the water!

BRITA. [_Taking a pinch of mould from the bag and pouring it on_
KERSTI'S _head_] To the dust I wed you, and a crown of dirt shall you
wear, so that your shame may find you out!

KERSTI. Fie on you! Fie!

VOICE. [_Like that of a small child, repeats after her_] Fie!

KERSTI. Who was that?

VOICE. Who was that?

BRITA. Guess!--That was the Mocker!

KERSTI. Who is the Mocker?

VOICE. The Mocker!

BRITA. The Mocker is the Mocker. Don't you know the Mewler?

KERSTI. The Mewler, you say? What have I got to do with that one?

VOICE. With that one!

BRITA. The wages of sin is death!

KERSTI. [_Calling through the door_] Mats!

VOICE. Mats!

KERSTI. [_In despair_] Oh! Oh! [_She unfastens one of her red garters
and ties it about her own neck_] Let me die! Let me die!

BRITA. You shall have your wish!

KERSTI. Hang me to a tree!

VOICE. To a tree!

BRITA. Not I!

MATS. [_Is heard singing outside_] "Kersti dear, is baby asleep?"

BRITA. "Far in the forest!" Fie on you! [_She goes out_.

MATS. [_Enters, looking very happy_] "Far, far, in the forest!" [_He
comes up behind_ KERSTI _and puts his hands over her eyes_] Guess who
it is!

KERSTI. Oh, you hurt me!

MATS. [_Taking hold of the garter which is still about the neck of_
KERSTI] What kind of necklace is this?

KERSTI. Let go!

MATS. [_Pulling playfully at the garter_] Now I have you! Now you are
my prisoner, my dove, my goat that I bought for a groat! [_He leads
her about by the garter_] My little white kid! My little pet cow!
[_Singing_] "Come, cosset, cosset, cosset! Come, cosset, cosset!"

KERSTI. Yes, you can be happy, Mats!

MATS. I am, and guess why?

KERSTI. Can't any longer!

MATS. Because I met the midwife, and she brought word of the little one.

KERSTI. Did she?

MATS. She did! He's sleeping, she said, so quietly, so quietly.

KERSTI. Oh!

MATS. Far in the forest!--What's that in your hair?

KERSTI. Mould.

MATS. Have you been buried?

KERSTI. Yes, already!

MATS. [_Brushing the mould out of her hair_] Ugh! Who did that?

KERSTI. Can't you tell?

MATS. Brita with the evil eye?

KERSTI. Can't you blind it?

MATS. Not I! The only one who can is Jesus Christ!

        _A church-bell sounds the call to even-song_.

KERSTI. Fray for me!

MATS. One must do that for oneself.

KERSTI. But suppose you can't?

MATS. You can if your conscience is clear.

KERSTI. But when _is_ it?

MATS. Do you hear the even-song bell?

KERSTI. No!

MATS. But I do; so you must hear it, too.

KERSTI. I don't, I don't! Alas the day!

MATS. Can you hear the rapids?

KERSTI. The roar of the rapids, the beat of the flail, the tinkle of
cowbells--but of holy bells not a sound!

MATS. That's a bad sign! I remember when the bells were rung at the
burial of our former sheriff--we could see them move, but not a sound
was heard. A bad sign!

KERSTI. Brita put a spell on me!

MATS. It will be worst for herself.

KERSTI. Come to the pasture! I must see the sun!

MATS. I will--Kersti dear!

KERSTI. Oh!

MATS. [_Putting his arms about her and pressing her head to his
breast_] Oh!

_Curtain_.


[1] Part of an old saw, the rest of which reads as follows: "when it
was spanked for licking up the cream."



THIRD SCENE


        _The eve of the wedding. The house of_ KERSTI'S _parents_.

        _Above the door in the rear hangs a smalt tin plate on
        which are painted the_ SOLDIER'S _regimental number and the
        coat-of-arms of Dalecarlia. There is a window on either side
        of the door, both filled with potted plants. The floor is of
        pine boards, full of knot-holes and nail-heads, but scrubbed
        immaculately dean_.

        _Half-way down the left wall is an open fireplace with a hood.
        On the same side, nearer the footlights, stands a wooden seat
        covered with brightly coloured home-made draperies_.

        _Against the opposite wall stands a chest of drawers surmounted
        by a mirror, over which a white veil has been draped. A pair of
        candlesticks and a few simple ornaments are arranged in front
        of the mirror. A table and a wooden seat are placed between the
        chest and the footlights. On the wall above this seat hangs
        the_ SOLDIER'S _old-fashioned musket, with stock of birch wood,
        stained yellow, red leather sling, and percussion-lock. His
        chaco, cartridge-case, and white bandoleer with bayonet are
        grouped around the musket. Below appears a portrait of King
        Charles XV of Sweden in full uniform_.

        _A landscape with stacks of sheaves in the fields can be seen
        through the windows and the open door in the rear_.

        _When the curtain rises, a maid servant is at work by the
        fireplace scouring and polishing copper pans, iron pots, and
        coffee-kettles_.

        _The_ VERGER _is seated at the table on the right-hand side
        engaged in polishing the brass numbers of the hymn-board,
        which is lying on the table beside him. There lies also the
        collection-bag of red velvet with embroideries in silver and
        a small bell attached to the bottom of it for the rousing of
        sleeping worshippers_.

        _The_ SOLDIER, _in undress uniform and forage-cap, is seated at
        the same table, looking over some papers on which he is making
        notes with a pencil, the point of which he wets from time to
        time_.

        LIT-KAREN _and_ LIT-MATS _stand beside the table, with their
        chins resting on the edge of it, watching the_ VERGER. _Their
        eyes are agog, and their fingers in their mouths. The_ VERGER
        _smiles at them and strokes their hair from time to time. The_
        MOTHER _is standing by the fireplace drying a couple of towels.
        As the curtain rises, the merry singing of girls is heard from
        the outside, but the atmosphere in the room is oppressive, and
        everybody is trying to lose himself in what he has at hand,
        forgetful of the rest_.


GIRLS. [_Singing outside; see musical appendix, Melody No_. 14]

    "When I was a little lassie, herding on the hill,
    One day I lost the bell-cow and Gossamer, too.
    I stood upon a rock and called and cried with a will,
    Till I heard Gossamer begin to moo
    In a pasture far, far away.
    'Hush,' said Pine-tree,
    'She will surely find thee,'
    Hemlock told me not to stumble;
    Willow asked me not to grumble;
    Birch-tree said I could not hope to miss a spanking."

SOLDIER. [_Looks up from his work and remarks phlegmatically to the_
MOTHER] Say, Mother!

MOTHER. We-ell?

SOLDIER. Was it three quarters we got off the place last year?

MOTHER. Yes, that's right.

VERGER. Haven't the girls come out of the bath yet?

MOTHER. No.... This business of the wedding takes a lot of people....
We should be bringing in the oats.... And it will soon be time to pick
berries....

VERGER. Yes, the dog-days are most over. You can see it on the flies;
they're kind of drowsy.... Will there be a lot of berries this year?

MOTHER. Yes. [_Silence_.

SOLDIER. Will those girls never come back?

MOTHER. I don't know what can be keeping them so long.

SOLDIER. It's hot.

VERGER. It must be bad in camp.

SOLDIER. Well, it isn't so very hard on the infantry....

VERGER. You were lucky to get leave.

SOLDIER. I guess I was!

MOTHER. Now they are coming.

SOLDIER. Did you see that they had something to eat and drink?

MOTHER. Yes, right in the bath, and plenty of it. [_Silence_.

        _The girls are heard outside, talking and laughing_. KERSTI
        _enters first, white-faced, with her wet hair streaming down
        her back. She is followed by_ BRITA, ANNA, _and the four
        bridesmaids_, ELSA, RICKA, GRETA, _and_ LISA. _The maids are
        carrying jars and wine-glasses which they put down by the
        fireplace_. KERSTI, BRITA, _and_ ANNA _carry long bath-towels
        with coloured borders, which they hang up by the door_.

        _The_ MOTHER _puts a chair in the middle of the floor and
        makes_ KERSTI _sit on it_. KERSTI'S _hair having first been
        carefully dried with towels, the_ MOTHER _begins to comb
        it. The maids duster on the bench at the left_. BRITA _seats
        herself so that she can stare at_ KERSTI. _No greetings are
        exchanged, and no emotion of any hind is shown_.

MOTHER. Give me the mirror.

KERSTI. Don't! I don't want any mirror.

BRITA. You ought to look at yourself, as you won't let anybody else see
you.

KERSTI. What do you mean?

BRITA. Hard to tell, isn't it?--Nice hair you've got. Can I have it, if
it should come off?

KERSTI. No, you can't!

MOTHER. What would you do with it?

BRITA. Watch-chain for Mats.

MOTHER. [_To her daughter_] Won't you let Mats have it?

KERSTI. No, I won't!

BRITA. [_Taking from her skirt-bag the same piece of work on which she
was employed in the previous scene_] I'll never be able to match the
colour.

KERSTI. You can have it when I am dead.

BRITA. That's a promise, but will you keep it?

KERSTI. I will! [_Silence_.

SOLDIER. Say, Mother.... Please keep quiet a while, children.... Do you
know if the sergeant has been asked?

MOTHER. Vesterlund? Of course!

SOLDIER. It's to be at four o'clock in the church, isn't it?

MOTHER. That's right.

SOLDIER. [_Putting his papers together_] Then I'll go and see the
Pastor now.... And I'll go right on to the sexton.... [_To himself_]
Hm-hm! That was that! Hm-hm!

        [_He goes out pensively without greeting anybody. Silence_.

VERGER. Now, my dears, I hope you won't touch anything.

LIT-KAREN. I'll look after Lit-Mats and see that he doesn't.

VERGER. So you're going to look after him, are you?

MOTHER. Where are you going, father?

VERGER. To the store to get the crown, which should be back from the
city by this time.

BRITA. [_Sneeringly_] Oh--the crown!

VERGER. [_Rising_] The goldsmith has had it, you know--to clean it with
cream of tartar. That's what you do with silver: you boil it in cream
of tartar.

BRITA. [_As before_] Ha-ha!

MOTHER. [_To the_ Verger] Wait a moment, and I'll go along to the store.

VERGER. Is it safe to leave the children alone?

BRITA. What do you fear might happen?

MOTHER. Why, they are grown-up people!

BRITA. And Kersti likes to be alone for that matter. She can't stand
having anybody look at her....

MOTHER. Now, now!

BRITA. When she is bathing, she doesn't want any company at all. But,
of course, she's grown-up, so she doesn't have to be afraid....

        KERSTI _is turning and twisting to escape the stare of BRITA_.

MOTHER. Keep still, girl!

BRITA. No, she's no longer any child. She's outgrown that, and a lot
more. Perhaps the crown won't fit her even? Have you tried it on?

VERGER. [_Quietly_] That's what we are going to do in a little while.

        _He goes out accompanied by the_ MOTHER. _Silence_.

        KERSTI _seats herself at the table on the right-hand side and
        begins to play with the brass numbers_.

BRITA. [_Pursuing_ KERSTI _with her stare_] A merry wedding eve, isn't
it?

KERSTI. Do you want to play games?

BRITA. We might play "papa and mamma and the children."

KERSTI. Would you like to guess riddles?

BRITA. I have already guessed....

KERSTI. Or sing?

BRITA. "Hush-a-bye, baby," I suppose you mean?... No, let us read the
Bible.

KERSTI. The Bible, you say?

BRITA. Yes--Genesis, thirty-fourth and eight.

KERSTI. About Shechem, you mean?

BRITA. Exactly, and about Dinah, for whom his heart was longing.... Do
you know who Dinah was?

KERSTI. She was the daughter of Jacob and Leah.

BRITA. That's right. And do you know what she was?

KERSTI. Is that a riddle?

BRITA. Not at all. Do you know what she was?

KERSTI. No.

BRITA. She was a little--spoiled!

KERSTI. Is that a play on words?

BRITA. More than that!

        KERSTI _lets her head fall forward as if wishing to hide her
        face_.

BRITA. Do you understand? [_Pause_] Is Mrs. Larsson the only one _you_
have asked?

KERSTI. Have I asked?... The midwife, you say?

BRITA. Well, so she says.

KERSTI. Then she is lying!

BRITA. As midwife she has been sworn, although I couldn't tell whether
her oath be false or fair. Just now she swears that she doesn't lie.

        KERSTI _lets her head droop again_.

BRITA. Hold up your head! Can't you look people in the face?

KERSTI. [_To the other girls_] Say something, girls! [_Silence_.

BRITA. It's hard to say anything when one has seen nothing. But
nevertheless--one knows what one knows!

SHERIFF. [_Appearing in the doorway_] I am making free.... It won't matter
if an old fellow like me gets in to the girls--although the boys have
to keep out!

BRITA. [_Shaking her fist in the face of_ KERSTI] But you'll never wear
the crown!

KERSTI. You don't say!

        BRITA _goes out_.

        _The_ SHERIFF _pulls up a chair and sits down beside_ KERSTI.

        _The girls sneak out of the room one by one_. LIT-MATS _stays
        behind, clinging to the skirt of_ KERSTI.

        _It is plain that the intentions of the_ SHERIFF _are kindly,
        and so are his words, but the more discreet he tries to be,
        the more awkward he becomes, and so all his words assume an
        ambiguous meaning_.

SHERIFF. [_Taking one of_ KERSTI'S _hands and looking her straight in
the eyes_] What sort of a bride is this, looking so sad when she is
getting her heart's desire? What is the matter?

KERSTI. With what?

SHERIFF. Is that the way to answer an old friend who will be a kinsman
by this hour to-morrow? There is more than one lass who envies you, and
who would like to get to the altar ahead of you to-morrow.

KERSTI. Maybe there is.

SHERIFF. And there is the new life ahead of you, in mill and kitchen.
No more running about in the woods, where "birches nod in the blowing
breeze." No more dancing in the barns on Saturday nights. You'll be
busy 'tending your pots, and watching the cradle, and having the meals
on the table when Mats comes home, and--keeping an even temper when the
dark days arrive--for after sunshine there is sure to be a little rain.
Does it scare you to find life so serious, dear? It isn't as bad as it
looks. It merely helps to make life kind of solemn.

KERSTI. Oh!

SHERIFF. What are you oh-ing about, girl?--There seems to be something
in the air that has no place in the thoughts of a young girl--something
amiss. Now, my dear, let me see if I can't straighten it out.
[_Jestingly_] The guardian of the law knows how to get the truth out of
all sorts of people. What's on your mind, dear? Has Mats been nasty to
you?

KERSTI. Oh, mercy!

SHERIFF. Has the family been playing the high-and-mighty? What have you
to do with the family anyhow?

        LIT-MATS _climbs into the lap of_ KERSTI, _puts his arms about
        her, nestles up to her as close as he can get, and falls
        asleep_.

SHERIFF. Look at that little chap now! He likes his sister-in-law, and
that's a good sign. Children always know their real friends. Are you
fond of children, Kersti?

KERSTI. [_Suspiciously_] Why do you ask?

SHERIFF. That's not the right kind of an answer!... Don't you think
it's nice to have a little thing like that--to hold it on your lap
and feel how it trusts you--just as if there could never be any harm
or deceit in the bosom that shelters it.... I think he's falling
asleep. Helpless as he is, he's not afraid of trusting his sleep to a
stranger--who means nothing but well by him, I am sure.

KERSTI. Have you seen anything of Mats?

SHERIFF. He was busy with the boys making the mill ready for the dance
to-morrow. [_Silence_] It's some time since we saw a crown bride in
this place.

KERSTI. Is that so?

SHERIFF. Yes, indeed. The old ways are gone, and new ones have come
in--from the cities and the camps....

KERSTI. [_Pertly_] They used to blame the fellows who came to buy the
timber.

SHERIFF. Yes, but if it hadn't been for them, there would have been no
mill....

KERSTI. They are always putting the blame on somebody else....

SHERIFF. You are getting a nice husband, Kersti....

KERSTI. Yes, he's fine--too fine for me!

SHERIFF. That's a bitter answer to a kind word!

KERSTI. There was nothing bitter about it--nothing but the truth....

SHERIFF. Why should it be so hard for us to understand each other? It
looks almost as if you didn't want us to be friends?

KERSTI. Why do you think so?

SHERIFF. What is well meant, you take badly, and the other way around.
Well--that happens frequently when there is something amiss.

KERSTI. What's amiss?

SHERIFF. I don't know.

KERSTI. Neither do I, but it isn't customary to say things like that to
a young girl.

SHERIFF. Now, now!--Where there's no sick conscience, you don't have to
walk in your stocking feet--but, but, but....

KERSTI. Has the examination begun already?

SHERIFF. I didn't mean....

KERSTI. The--"guardian of the law" doesn't know how to talk to ladies.

SHERIFF. [_Sharply_] Kersti!

KERSTI. What is it?

SHERIFF. [_Looking hard at her_] What do you mean? KERSTI. What do you
mean yourself?

SHERIFF. Lo and behold! That's just the kind of questions asked by _my_
ladies when they want to find out whether I know anything.

KERSTI. What could there be to know?

SHERIFF. Whew--is the wind in that corner? Well, well! [_Silence_]
Well--I guess I'll be going! Yes, I had better be going!

        _He goes out by the rear door, stepping very softly and putting
        his forefinger across his lips as if meaning to enforce silence
        on himself_.

        KERSTI, _left alone, kisses the head of the sleeping_ LIT-MATS.

        MATS _appears at the right-hand window_.

        _The twilight has come, but it is the lingering, luminous
        twilight of the northern summer night_.

MATS. Hey!

KERSTI. Mats! Oh, come here!

MATS. I mustn't come in--I have promised.

KERSTI. Yes, do!

MATS. No, no!--Is the little one asleep?

KERSTI. This one--yes!--Hush! Hush!

        _A bugle-call is faintly heard in the distance. It is the
        summons to evening service in the camp of the regiment to
        which_ KERSTI'S _father belongs. (See the musical appendix,
        Melody No_. 15.)

KERSTI. [_Scared_] Are they hunting again?

MATS. No, who would be hunting at this time of day?

KERSTI. What is it?

MATS. A soldier's daughter you are, and don't know!

KERSTI. Tell me!

MATS. That's at the camp, you know. They are calling them to evening
prayers.

KERSTI. Of course--but everything seems strange and confused!

MATS. Come to the window, Kersti.

KERSTI. I think.... I'll just put the little one away.

MATS. The little one, you say?

KERSTI. [_Rises very carefully and carries_ LIT-MATS _to the bench by
the fireplace, where she pulls him down and covers him up_] Hushaby,
hushaby!

        _The singing of a hymn in unison is heard from the camp_.
        KERSTI _kneels beside the bench and tries to pray, bid merely
        wrings her hands in despair. At last she kisses the shoes of
        the sleeping child, struggles to her feet, and goes to window_.

MATS. There is something nice about children, isn't there?

KERSTI. Yes--yes!

MATS. Are you alone?

KERSTI. Yes, they left! Hating me--all of them!

MATS. To-morrow is our wedding-day!

KERSTI. Yes--think of it!

MATS. Yes, think of it--to-morrow is our wedding-day!

KERSTI. And I shall be living in the mill!

MATS. In the mill with me!

KERSTI. Till death us do part!

MATS. Which won't be soon!

KERSTI. Oh!

_Curtain_.



FOURTH SCENE


        _The wedding. The living-room at the mill has been cleared
        for the occasion. The big doors in the rear stand wide open.
        Through the doorway is seen a large loft, where a number
        of tables have been spread for the impending feast, of
        which coffee is to form one of the principal features. The
        shutters covering the rectangular opening to the left of the
        main doorway are also open, disclosing a table with several
        candlesticks on it. On this table the fiddlers subsequently
        take up their position_.

        _The opening to the water-wheel appears to the right of the
        main door. The hand-loom, the bobbin, the reel, and the
        spinning-wheel have disappeared_.

        _On the floor, beneath the place reserved for the fiddlers,
        stands the "old men's table," with a full equipment of jugs,
        mugs, pipes, and playing-cards_.

        _A number of chairs and benches occupy the middle of the floor,
        and on these are spread clean white sheets, pillow-cases, and
        towels for drying_.

        _As the curtain rises, six servant-girls are busily grinding
        coffee on as many hand-mills, while from the outside are heard
        the ringing of church-bells and a bridal march played on
        violins. When the coffee is ground, the girls begin to gather
        up the linen and sing while they are doing so_.

        GIRLS. [_Singing; see musical appendix, Melody No_. 16]

    "Dillery-deering!
    Twelve in the clearing:
    Twelve men glare at me,
    Twelve swords flare at me.
    Kine they are slaughtering;
    Sheep they are quartering;
    Naught but my life they're leaving:
    Dillery-deering!"


        _The bridal procession is drawing near. The girls put the
        benches and chairs where they belong and go out with their
        burdens of linen_.

        _The stage is left empty for a few moments, all the sounds
        previously heard having died out_.

        _Then the song of the_ NECK _is heard from the water-wheel,
        while he himself remains unseen_.

NECK. [_Singing outside_] "I am hoping, I am hoping, that my Redeemer
still liveth."

        _The trap-door in the floor is raised and the_ MEWLER _ascends
        from the hole: a blurred mass of white veils beneath which
        the outlines of a small infant in long clothes are barely
        discernible. This apparition remains hovering above the opening
        in the floor_.

        _Then the bridal march is again heard outside. The song of
        the_ NECK _ceases, and the_ MEWLER _disappears, the trap-door
        falling back into its wonted position_.

        _The bridal procession enters the room. First come the
        fiddlers, then the bridesmaids and bridesmen. After these come
        the bride and the groom, and then follow the_ PASTOR, _the
        parents of the couple, the members of both families, friends,
        and young people. Everybody seems depressed, and the entrance
        is made in gloomy silence_.

        _The bride is led to a chair in the middle of the floor, placed
        so that she must face the trap-door in the floor. She is very
        pale and does not look up at all. The guests pass in front of
        her as in review. Now and then one stops and says a few words
        to her. Little by little they disappear into the loft in the
        rear_.

MATS. [_To_ KERSTI] Now the worst is over, Kersti.

        [_He goes out_.

BRITA. [_Heading the bridesmaids, to_ KERSTI] You have got the
crown--see that you keep it! [_She and the maids go out_.

KERSTI'S MOTHER. [_Making sure that the crown is on straight_] Keep
your back straight and your head high, girl!

        [_She goes out_.

SOLDIER. [_To_ KERSTI] God bless you! [_Goes out_.

VERGER. [_To_ KERSTI] And protect you! [_Goes out_.

MATS'S GRANDFATHER. [_To_ KERSTI] Comely you are as I am homely! [_Goes
out_.

MATS'S MOTHER. [_To_ KERSTI] Your new family bids you welcome! [_She
goes out_.

MATS'S FATHER. [_To_ KERSTI] _My_ daughter now--the old ties have been
loosed! [_He goes out_.

SHERUT. [_To_ KERSTI] Why so pale? What draws all the blood to your
heart? What is weighing on it?

KERSTI. [_Raising her head at last to give the_ SHERIFF _a furious
look_] Nothing!

SHERIFF. So little is a lot!

KERSTI. Go!

SHERIFF. When you ride, I'll go ahead of you--but we won't be headed
for the same place. When you kneel, I shall be standing, but the cold
steel you'll taste won't be in my hands.

KERSTI. Oh, I wish you'd break your neck!

SHERIFF. [_Putting the palm of his hand on her neck_] Take care of your
own! [_He goes out_.

        _The rest of_ MATS'S _relatives file past her, greeting her
        coldly_.

        _The fiddlers have in the meantime taken their places, and
        several old men have sat down at the table reserved for them
        and begun to smoke. Now the fiddlers strike up an old Swedish
        polka. (See the musical appendix, Melody No_. 17.)

        _At the same time the_ NECK _begins to play the melody heard
        in the first scene, but so powerfully that it sounds like two
        violins. (See musical appendix, Melody No_. 18.)

        _As soon as the dance music is heard, cries of_ "Off with
        the crown!" _are raised, first in the loft, and then in the
        living-room_.

        KERSTI _becomes alarmed_.

        _The_ PASTOR _goes up to her_.

FIDDLERS. [_Crying, as they become aware of the playing of the_ NECK]
Who is cutting in?

ALL. [_Repeat without looking at the water-wheel or knowing from whence
the strange music is heard_] Who is cutting in?

        _Then the_ NECK _ceases playing, while the fiddlers continue.
        The_ PASTOR _takes the bride by the hand and begins to lead her
        around the room in a stately and solemn manner. Just as he puts
        his arm about_ KERSTI'S _waist in order to open the dance with
        her the_ NECK _begins to play again_.

KERSTI. [_Dropping the crown, which rolls into the mill-race_] Jesus
Christ!

        _All the people in the living-room get on their feet and cry_:
        "The crown's in the mill-race!"

        _Those in the rear room shout back_: "What's up?"

        _Those in the living-room repeat_: "The crown's in the
        mill-race!"

        _The fiddlers suddenly stop their playing. The whole place is
        in wild commotion_.

MATS. [_Appearing in the doorway_] We must look for it!

ALL. We must look for it!

PASTOR. God help us and protect us!

ALL. God help us and protect us!

SHERIFF. Let us look for it!

ALL. Let us look for it!

MATS. Yes, let's look!

        _All disappear by the rear door, leaving_ KERSTI _alone on the
        stage. She seats herself on the same chair as before. In the
        meantime the stage has gradually been darkened._

        _The water-wheel begins to turn_.

NECK. [_Appears in the wheel with his harp, and sings_]

    "Stilled are the waters, dark grows the sky:
    Dark grows the sky.
    Once in the world of the ages I lived,
    Blessed by the sun.
    Gone is the light,
    Conquered by night.
    Deep is my sin,
    Black as the tarn.
    Joy there is none;
    Plenty of woe.
    Torture and Shame must I name my abode:
    O!"

        _When the_ NECK _begins to sing, the trap-door flies open right
        at the feet of_ KERSTI, _and the_ MEWLER _appears as before_.

        _At first_ KERSTI _stares at the apparition with horror. Then
        she seizes it and presses it to her breast_.

        _The_ NECK _stops his song and disappears. Instead the voice of
        a child (the_ MOCKER) _is heard from the opening in the floor_.

MOCKER. Cold is the river; warm is my mother's bosom. Nothing you gave
me in life: in death I take what is mine!

KERSTI. [_Who has been rocking the_ MEWLER _on her arm_, _puts a hand
to her breast as if feeling acute pain_] Oh, help! Save me!

MIDWIFE. [_Trips in fussily_] Here I am! Here I am! Mustn't take on
like that! [_She takes the_ MEWLER _from_ KERSTI _and drops it through
the hole in the floor_] I know how to handle little ones! I help them
into the world and out of it.... And I got to the wedding after all!

        BRITA _has in the meantime appeared where the fiddlers were
        seated before, and she has seen the_ MIDWIFE _hide something
        under the floor_.

MIDWIFE. The Neck was also asked, I understand. Did he come?

KERSTI. What will you take to get out of here?

MIDWIFE. What you have lost!

KERSTI. You mean the crown?

MIDWIFE. Not exactly.... Hush!... I think I heard somebody! Then I'll
hide in the fireplace for a while.... I got here after all, as you see!

        _She steps into the fireplace and closes the iron shutters
        behind her_.

BRITA. [_Enters and goes up to_ KERSTI] Now it's you or me!

KERSTI. You, then!

BRITA. A present is waiting for you.

KERSTI. Let's see!

BRITA. Bracelets--but not from me! [_Silence_] Bracelets of steel!
[_She places herself on the trap-door_] Now my foot is on your head
and on your heart! Now I shall stamp your secret out of the earth, or
the water, or the fire--wherever it may be! [_Silence_] Now I shall
have your hair for my watch-chain, which is not what it seems. Where
is the Midwife? Where is the guest of honour at this virginal wedding?
You stole the crown, and the Neck stole it from you. You have stolen
the mill, but it will be returned. Shechem's Dinah has proved not only
spoiled, but soiled! The little one is asleep, not in the forest, but
in the river! You have put my brother to shame, and our whole family,
and the name that we bear! And now you shall die!

KERSTI. [_Submissively_] I am dead! I have been dying for days.... Are
you satisfied now?

BRITA. No, you shall go on dying for days to come! You shall die for
perjury, falsehood, murder, theft, slander, deceit! You shall die six
times over! And when you really die the seventh time, it will seem so
only! You shall not rest in consecrated ground! You shall have no black
coffin with stars of silver on it! You shall have no spruce strewn and
no bells rung....

KERSTI. I suppose not!

BRITA. Therefore.... [_Heavy steps are heard outside_] Do you hear
those steps? Count them! [_She counts in time with the approaching
steps of the_ SHERIFF] One, two, three, four, five, six....

        _The_ SHERIFF _enters from the rear_. BRITA _goes to him and
        whispers something in his ear_.

SHERIFF. It's here, you say?

BRITA. Not the crown, I guess!

SHERIFF. Something else, then! [_He raises the trap-door and looks
down_] No, it is not the crown! Poor Kersti! Did you put it there?

KERSTI. I did not!

SHERIFF. No?--Tell the truth!

KERSTI. I did not put it there!

BRITA. [_Striking her on the mouth_] The truth!

KERSTI. I did not put it there!

BRITA. [_Putting her hand in the_ SHERIFF'S _pocket and taking out a
pair of handcuffs_] On with the bracelets!

SHERIFF. [_To_ BRITA] Born executioner--that's what _you_ are! [_He
puts his hands to his face and weeps_] God have mercy on us!

PASTOR. [_Entering from the rear_] Has it been found?

SHERIFF. Not that, but....

PASTOR. Say no more! I know.... [_Putting his hands to his face and
weeping_] God have mercy on us!

SOLDIER. [_Entering from the rear_] Have you found the crown?

SHERIFF. Not that, but....

SOLDIER. Enough! I know....

        [_Begins to weep, with his hands to his face_.

KERSTI'S MOTHER. [_Entering from the rear_] Have you found the crown?

SHERIFF. No, no!

MOTHER. Oh!

        _She looks hard at_ KERSTI, _who is holding out her hands to
        meet the handcuffs, which_ BRITA _puts on her_.

MOTHER. [_Screaming_] Oh!

        _Snatching up a pair of shears, she cuts off_ KERSTI'S _hair
        and throws it to_ BRITA, _who catches it and sniffs at it as if
        enjoying its odour. The_ MOTHER _then strips her daughter of
        the veil and other bridal ornaments. At last she throws a shawl
        over her head_.

MATS. [_Entering from the rear, stops in front of_ KERSTI _and looks at
her in surprise_] Who is that?

BRITA. Look well!

MATS. [_Looking more closely at_ KERSTI] She reminds me of somebody!

BRITA. Look well!

MATS. I don't know her.

BRITA. Grant God you never had!

MATS. The eyes are different.... But the mouth--that sweet mouth--and
the little chin.... No, it is not she! [_He turns away from_ KERSTI
_and catches sight of the open trap-door_] What's that? You are
standing here as if it were a grave....

BRITA. It is a grave!

MATS. Of what?

BRITA. Of everything--everything that made your life worth while!

MATS. That means the little one!--Who did it?

BRITA. [_Pointing to_ KERSTI] She, and she, and she!

MATS. It is not true!

        _All who were in the room at the beginning and who left to look
        for the crown, have gradually returned, and are now crowded
        together in the background, no one saying a word or making the
        least noise_.

BRITA. It is true!

MATS. You liar!

SOLDIER. [_To_ BRITA] You liar born of liars!

MATS'S RELATIVES. [_Gathering on the left side of_ KERSTI] You liar
born of thieves and liars! That's you!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES [_Gathering on her right side_] No, that's you!

PASTOR. Peace! Peace! In the name of the Lord!

ALL. Peace.

SHERIFF. No one must be condemned untried!

ALL. Let us hear!

SHERIFF. Who brings the charge?

ALL. Who brings the charge?

BRITA. I, Brita Lisa Larsson.

ALL. Brita Lisa Larsson brings the charge. Against whom?

BRITA. Against Kersti Margaret Hansdaughter.

ALL. Against Kersti Margaret Hansdaughter!--What is the charge?

BRITA. If bride be spoiled, the crown is forfeit!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. And your evidence?

BRITA. Two witnesses make valid evidence.

MATS'S RELATIVES. Two witnesses make valid evidence!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. We challenge them!

SHERIFF. No challenging without good cause!

BRITA. "If unmarried woman puts away child that comes to its death, the
life of the mother shall be forfeit!"

MATS'S RELATIVES. Her life is forfeit!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. [_Drawing closer with menacing gestures_]
"Empty-headed men and meanly tempered never know that they are far from
faultless."[1]--The fault is Mats's!

MATS'S RELATIVES. The fault is not Mats's!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. The fault is his who did the deed!

MATS'S RELATIVES. [_With raised fists_] What deed? You had better ask
Kersti!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. Ask her!

SHERIFF. [_To_ KERSTI] Did you kill the child?

KERSTI. I did!

MATS'S RELATIVES. There you hear!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. God have mercy!

MATS'S RELATIVES. Now you can hear!

        MATS _has been standing at the fireplace lost in thought, with
        his back to the rest. Suddenly he tears off everything that
        indicates his character of bridegroom. After a brief moment of
        hesitation, he leaps like mad on the table in the rear and
        disappears through the opening where the fiddlers were seated
        before_.

PASTOR. [_Who has been weeping silently, with his hands covering his
face, goes to the open trap-door and says_]

    "To the dead
    Give peace, O Lord,
    And console
    The living!"[2]

        _All bend their heads, shade their faces with one hand, and
        pray in silence, as the custom is when the Lord's Prayer is
        read in a Swedish church or at a grave_.

PASTOR. May the Lord bless you and protect you!

ALL. [_With their faces buried in their hands_] Amen!

        _Everybody leaves silently and sadly. When_ KERSTI _alone
        remains, the_ SHERIFF _locks the doors in the rear. Then he
        fastens the shutters covering the opening where the fiddlers
        were seated_.

        _From the fireplace is heard a loud noise as of thunder_.

NECK. [_Appears in the water-wheel with his fiddle and plays and sings
as before_] "I am hoping, I am hoping that thy Redeemer still liveth."

        _This he repeats several times, while_ KERSTI _is kneeling on
        the floor with her handcuffed arms raised toward heaven._

        _The_ CHILD IN WHITE _enters from behind the fireplace with a
        basket full of spruce branches and flowers_.

        _The_ NECK _stops singing and disappears_.

        _The_ CHILD IN WHITE _strews the spruce branches on the floor
        so that a green path is formed to the edge of the trap-door.
        When he has reached this, he drops flowers into the hole, from
        which the bell-like notes of the harmonica are heard_.

        _Unseen by_ KERSTI, _he goes up to her, places his hands on her
        head and stands still with upturned face as if in prayer_.

        _The face of_ KERSTI, _which until then has shown deep despair,
        assumes an expression of quiet happiness_.

_Curtain_.


[1] From the Poetic Edda: "The Song of the High One." See introduction.

[2] From the Poetic Edda: "The Song of the Sun." See introduction.



FIFTH SCENE


        _The porch of a country church appears at the right in the
        foreground. It is brilliantly white, with a roof of black
        shingle_. Near the entrance is a sort of pillory, at the foot
        of which KERSTI _lies in penitential garb, with the hood pulled
        forward to cover her face_.

        _A big lake, surrounded by a typical Dalecarlian landscape,
        forms the background. At the foot of the open place before the
        church is a boat-landing. A point of land projects into the
        lake at the right, and there stands the scaffold, consisting
        of a simple wooden platform with a block on it. Two soldiers,
        fully armed, stand "at ease" by the entrance to the porch, from
        within which an organ prelude is heard when the curtain rises_.

        _Two large "church-boats" (of the kind used on Lake Siljan in
        Dalecarlia) gliding slowly forward from opposite directions,
        arrive at the landing simultaneously. The rowers have raised
        their oars and appear to be disputing about the right of
        landing_.

        MATS'S RELATIVES _are in the boat at the left_; KERSTI'S
        RELATIVES _in the boat at the right_.


MATS'S RELATIVES. Look out, Mewlings!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. Look out, millers!

MATS'S RELATIVES. [_Raising their oars in menace_] Look out!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. [_In the same way_] Look out!

MATS'S RELATIVES. Can you match us with eight pairs?

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. With sixteen, if needs be! Come on!

MATS'S RELATIVES. At 'em! At 'em!

        _They begin to fight with the oars_.

PASTOR. [_Standing bareheaded in prow of the boat at the left_] Peace!
Peace in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

KERSTI'S RELATIVES. Peace!

MATS'S RELATIVES. War! War on life and death!

PASTOR. Peace!

MATS'S RELATIVES. War!

        _The_ VERGER _comes running from the porch, seizes the
        bell-rope and begins to toll the bell_.

        _At the first stroke, all oars are lowered, the boats are
        brought to the landing and tied up side by side. The_ PASTOR
        _is the first one to leave the boat at the left. He is followed
        by_ MATS, _who carries a small white coffin trimmed with lace.
        Then the relatives and friends of_ MATS _gradually step on
        shore_.

        _The_ SOLDIER _leaves the other boat ahead of all the rest and
        is followed by his wife. Then come the relatives and friends
        of_ KERSTI.

        _The people on both sides adjust their clothing while throwing
        angry glances at their opponents_.

        _At last_ MATS _with the coffin leads the way up to the church,
        followed by the_ PASTOR.

MATS. [_Whose face shows intense despair, stops in front of_ KERSTI]
Here is the little one now. He's so light--as light as the mind of a
bad woman. He's asleep--and soon you will be sleeping, too.

KERSTI. [_Raising her head so that the hood falls back_] O!

Mats. "O," indeed! It's the end, while A is the beginning. Between
those two lie many letters, but the last one of all is O. Cry "O"
again--the last time of all--so that the little one may hear it. He
will tell the Lord and the Saviour, and ask them to forgive you! No?
Well, kiss his white coffin then--kiss it where his small feet are
resting--the small, small feet that never had a chance to tread this
sinful earth! [KERSTI _kisses the coffin_] That's right! Now we'll take
him into the church and play and sing and toll the bells over him--but
no clergyman can read him into his grave--because of you! I will speak
the words myself when we get to the grave. We'll plant him in the sod
like a seed in order that he may sprout and grow into a winged blossom.
Some day, perhaps, he will spread his wings and fly to heaven--lifted
by the wind when the midsummer sun is shining!

PASTOR. [_Taking_ MATS _by the arm and drawing him toward the church_]
That's enough, Mats! Come now!

MATS. I am coming.

        _They disappear into the porch, followed gradually by the rest_.

SOLDIER. [_Stops in front of_ KERSTI, _shakes his head sadly and
tries to find words_] Well.... Well....

        [_He goes into the church_.

KERSTI'S MOTHER. [_Speaking drily, with a vain attempt to show
emotion_] Yes, here we are now!--Was it bad in the Castle?

        KERSTI _shakes her head_.

MOTHER. Is there anything you want? To eat or drink--you can have
it now, you know.... Did they give you any tobacco while you were in the
Castle?

        KERSTI _shakes her head_.

MOTHER. Keep your head high, Kersti, and don't let the mill-folk put us
to shame. Don't weep so much either. Your father is a man of war, you
know, and he can't stand that kind of thing. [_Handing her daughter
a hymn-book_] Take this book--and read where I have put the mark. And
look at the mark--I got it from some one--some one who is thinking of
you in your moment of need. And it is a sure cure against the shakes
Farther than this I won't keep you company, Kersti.... I can't--I
really can't, being as old as I am....

KERSTI. Do what you feel like, mother. I have found my comforter! I
know that my Redeemer still liveth!

MOTHER. It's all right, then, child. That's all I wanted to know....
And you don't want me to go with you?

KERSTI. No, mother, you must spare yourself.... You have had enough
trouble on my account as it is.

MOTHER. Then I'll take your word for it, so that the mill-folk won't
have anything to talk about. I take your word for it, so that I can
tell them: "Kersti didn't want it--it was her own will, and of course
her last will was as good as law to me!" And that's just what it is!

        [_She goes into the church._


BRITA. [_Stops in front of_ KERSTI _and points toward the scaffold_]
A queen you were, and a crown you wore: there's your throne now, with
heaven above and hell beneath!--Now you would be glad enough to be
milking cows! Now you wouldn't mind picking wood, and scouring pots,
and cleaning shoes, and rocking the cradle--now, when you have brought
shame on my family and your own, on our parish and our province, so
that the whole country is talking of it! Fie on you!

        KERSTI _bends lower and lower over the hymn-book._


BRITA. My brother must carry your brat to the grave-_my_ brother! But
I shall keep you company to the block when you get spanked! I shall
be your bridesmaid when you're wedded to the axe! "There's a corpse
that isn't dead, and a babe that wasn't bred, and a bride without a
wedding!"

LIT-MATS. Hush up, Brita! Kersti is nice!

BRITA. Indeed!

LIT-MATS. Yes, she is! But I don't like her to have on that ugly
cloak.... That would be right for you, Brita! Oh, Kersti, why are
you lying here? Are you waiting for Communion? And why did you run
away from the wedding? Who is lying in the white box? Is all this a
fairy-tale? Do you know that I lost my doll--the one you gave me?...
Oh, Kersti dear, why are you so sorry?

        [_He throws his arms about her neck_.

KERSTI. [_Taking him on her lap and kissing his shoes_] Oh, Lit-Mats,
Lit-Mats!

BRITA. [_To the soldiers_] Is that allowed?

        _The soldiers stand at attention, but make no reply_.

BRITA. [_Taking_ LIT-MATS _away from_ KERSTI] Come on now!

KERSTI. [_To_ LIT-MATS] Go with your sister, Lit-Mats! And you had
better keep away from me!

        [_She begins to read in a low voice out of the hymn-book_.

BRITA. [_To_ KERSTI] Shall I tell him?

KERSTI. For God's sake, don't tell the child!

BRITA. For the child's sake, I won't!

KERSTI. Thank you, Brita--for the child's sake!

        BRITA _goes into the church with_ LIT-MATS. _The only ones that
        remain outside are_ KERSTI _and the two soldiers_.

        _The_ HEADSMAN _enters from the right, carrying a black box. He
        keeps in the background and does not look in the direction of_
        KERSTI.

KERSTI. [_Catching sight of him_] Christ Jesus, Saviour of the world,
help me for the sake of Thy passion and death!

MIDWIFE. [_Enters from the left and goes up to the_ HEADSMAN] Listen,
my dear man.... If it comes off, would you mind my getting quite close
to it?... I need a little of that red stuff, you know--for a sick
person--one who has the falling sickness....

        _The_ HEADSMAN _goes out to the left without answering_.

MIDWIFE. Oh, he is of the kind that won't listen. [_Going to_ KERSTI]
Ah, there you are, my dear....

KERSTI. [_With a deprecatory gesture_] Begone!

MIDWIFE. [_Keeping behind the pillory so that she cannot be seen by the
soldiers_] Wait a little! Wait a little! Listen now, my dear! I can do
what others can't! The hour is near, and the black one is waiting!

KERSTI. In the name of Christ Jesus, begone!

MIDWIFE. Listen! I can do what others can't! I can set you free!

KERSTI. I have found my Saviour! His name is Christ Jesus!

MIDWIFE. I can make the judge as soft as wax....

KERSTI. He who shall judge the quick and the dead; He who is the
resurrection and the life: He has sentenced me to death in the flesh,
and to--life everlasting.

MIDWIFE. Look at the soldiers! They have gone to sleep! Take my cloak
and run!

KERSTI. Are the soldiers asleep?

MIDWIFE. Their eyes are closed!--Run, run, run!

        KERSTI _rises and looks at the soldiers, who have closed their
        eyes_.

MIDWIFE. Run, run, run!

KERSTI. [_Lying down again_] No, much better is it to fall into the
hands of the living God!--Depart from me!

        _She raises the hymn-book so that the golden cross on its front
        cover faces the_ MIDWIFE.

MIDWIFE. [_Shrinking back_] Shall we meet a Thursday night at the
crossroads?

KERSTI. On the path to the cross I shall meet with my Redeemer, but not
with you! Depart!

MIDWIFE. [_Drawing away_] There is a boat down at the shore--horse and
carriage are waiting on the other side Mats is there, but the Sheriff
not.... Run, run, run!

KERSTI [_Struggling with herself_] O Lord, lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil!

MIDWIFE. Shash-ash-ash-ash! Horse and carriage!

        KERSTI _seizes the bell-rope and pulls it three times. At the
        third stroke of the bell, the_ MIDWIFE _takes flight_.


MIDWIFE. Ad-zee! Ad-zee! Ad-zee! [_She disappears_.

        _The_ CHILD IN WHITE _comes forward from behind one of the
        pillars of the porch. His dress is that worn by girls at
        Rättvik, Dalecarlia (the one with liberty cap, white waist and
        striped apron, which is probably more familiar to foreigners
        than any other Swedish peasant costume), but all its parts are
        white, including the shoes_.

KERSTI. [_As if blinded by his appearance_] Who are you, child--you who
come when the evil one departs?

        _The_ CHILD IN WHITE _puts a finger across his lips_.

KERSTI. White as snow, and white as linen.... Why are you so white?

CHILD IN WHITE [_In a low voice_] Thy faith has saved thee! Out of
faith has sprung hope! [_He goes toward_ KERSTI.

KERSTI. Please, dear, don't step on the ant!

CHILD IN WHITE. [_Stoops and picks up something on a leaf_] But the
greatest of these be love--love of all living things, great or small!
Now I shall send this ant into the woods to tell the king of all the
ants, so that the little people may come here and gnaw the ropes to
pieces, and you will be set free.

KERSTI. No, no! Don't talk like that!

CHILD IN WHITE. Doubt not--but believe! Believe, Kersti!--Believe!

KERSTI. How can I?

CHILD IN WHITE. Believe!

        _He steps behind the pillar again and disappears_.

        _The stage grows darker_.

NECK. [_Appears with his harp in the middle of the lake and sings
to the same melody as before_] "I am hoping, I am hoping, that thy
Redeemer still liveth!"

KERSTI. He sings of _my_ Redeemer! He brings hope to me, who denied it
to him!

        _The_ NECK _sinks beneath the waters_.

SHERIFF. [_Enters reading a document; he approaches a few steps at a
time, now looking at the ground, and now at the paper in his hand_]
Kersti!

        KERSTI _looks up, only to drop her head at once_.

SHERIFF. [_Slowly and with frequent pauses_] Behold the Sheriff!--You
are only scared by him!--Do you think everybody feels like that?
Suppose that the Sheriff has been summoned to help some one in a moment
of dire need. Do you think he will be welcome then? Of course, he
will!... Did you ever see such a lot of ants, Kersti?

        KERSTI _raises her head again and becomes attentive_.

SHERIFF. Look at them! Files of them, and whole hosts! Look!--Do you
know what that means? It is a good omen! But, of course, you never
expect anything good to come from me. You wouldn't believe it _that_
time either--and that's what led to your exposure! Look at those ants!
Look at them! They are making straight for you, Kersti. Are you not
afraid of them?

KERSTI. I used to be, but I am not.

SHERIFF. Big wood-ants, and I think the ant-king himself is with them.
Do you know what can be done by the King, and by no other authority?
Do you know that? All other authorities can pass judgment--all of them
can do that--harshly or mercifully; but there is only one that can
grant pardon. That's the King!--Shall we ask the antking if he will
grant pardon? [_He puts his hand to his ear as if to hear better_]
Would your Majesty be willing to pardon her--that is, in regard to the
worst part?... Did you hear what he answered? I thought he said yes.
But I may have been mistaken.... And being the Sheriff, I can't go by
hearsays, but must have everything in writing. Let us ask the ant-king
to write it down. He has plenty of pens--sharp as needles--and he has
ink of his own, that burns. If we could only find a piece of paper!
[_He pretends to search his pockets, and finally he brings out the
paper he was reading when he entered_] Oh, here we are! Look at this!
The King has written it with his own hand. Do you see? C-A-R-L, which
makes Carl. [_He raises his cap for a moment in salute_] You haven't
seen such big letters since you went to school, Kersti. And look at the
red seal--that smelled like resin in the woods when the sealing-wax
still was warm. And look at the silken cords, yellow and blue--and all
these lions and crowns.... That's royal, every bit of it!... Read it
yourself, Kersti, while I give my orders to the soldiers.

        KERSTI _takes the paper from his hand and reads_.

        _The_ SHERIFF _turns to the soldiers and says something that
        cannot be heard by the public_.

        _The soldiers leave_.

        _When_ KERSTI _has finished reading she hands the document back
        to the_ SHERIFF _in a quiet, dignified manner_.

SHERIFF. Are you glad, Kersti?

KERSTI. I am thankful that my family and yours will be spared the
greatest shame of all. I cannot be glad, for eternal life is better
than a life in fetters.

SHERIFF. Regard it as a time of preparation.

KERSTI. I will!

SHERIFF. Are you still afraid of me?

KERSTI. Having looked death in the face, I fear nothing else.

SHERIFF. Come with me, then.

KERSTI. You must set me free first.

        _The_ SHERIFF _unties the ropes with which she has been bound_.

        _An organ prelude is heard from the church_.

        KERSTI _stretches her arms toward heaven_.

_Curtain_.


SIXTH SCENE


        _The stage represents the frozen surface of a big lake, the
        shores of which form the background. Deep snow covers the ice.
        Tall pine branches stuck into the snow serve to mark the tracks
        used in crossing the lake_.

        _In the centre of the stage, toward the background, a large
        rectangular opening has been cut in the ice. A number of small
        spruce-trees have been set along the edges of it to warn
        against danger_.

        _Long-tailed ducks_ (Heralda glacialis _or_ Clangula glacialis)
        _are floating on the open water. Now and then one of them
        utters its peculiarly melodious cry. (See musical appendix,
        Melody No_. 19.)

        _A number of short fishing-rods are placed along the edges of
        the open water, with their lines out_.

        _A gloomy old structure with turrets and battlements appears on
        the shore in the background. It is known as the "Castle", but
        is in reality a penitentiary_.

        _It is about daybreak_.

        _The_ FISHERMAN _enters from the right dressed in a sheepskin
        coat and hauling a sledge on which lies an ice-hook. All the
        ducks dive when he comes in sight. He begins to examine his
        fishlines_.

MIDWIFE. [_Entering from the left_] How dare you fish on Easter Sunday?

FISHERMAN. I am not fishing--I'm just looking.

MIDWIFE. Perhaps you, who are so clever, can also tell a poor, strayed
old woman where she is?

FISHERMAN. If you give me a light.

MIDWIFE. If you have flint and steel.

FISHERMAN. [_Handing her two pieces of ice_] Here they are.

MIDWIFE. Ice? Well, water is fire, and fire is water!

        _She tears off a piece of her cloak to serve as tinder; then,
        she strikes the two pieces of ice against each other; hiving
        set the tinder on fire in that way, she hands it to the_
        FISHERMAN, _who lights his pipe with it_.

FISHERMAN. Oh, you are that kind? Then I know where I am.

MIDWIFE. But where am I?

FISHERMAN. In the middle of Krummedikke's lake, and over there you see
his castle. He was a king who lived long, long ago, and, like Herod, he
caused all male babes to be slain because he was afraid for his crown.
But now his castle holds all the girls who have not been afraid for
theirs.

MIDWIFE. What are they doing in there?

FISHERMAN. Spinning flax.

MIDWIFE. That's the jail, then?

FISHERMAN. That's what it is.

MIDWIFE. And the lake?

FISHERMAN. Oh, it's a good one! There used to be dry land where the
lake is now, and on that piece of land stood a church, and that church
started a feud. It was a question of pews, you see. The mill-folk, who
thought themselves above the rest, wanted to sit next to the altar, but
the Mewlings were the stronger. One Easter Sunday it broke loose, right
in the nave, and blood was shed. The church was profaned so that it
could never be cleansed again. Instead it was closed up and deserted,
and by and by it sank into the earth, and now there are fifty feet of
water above the weathercock on the spire. By this time the lake has
been washing it and washing it these many hundred years, but as long
as mill-folk and Mewlings keep on fighting, the temple will never be
cleansed.

MIDWIFE. Why are they called Mewlings?

FISHERMAN. Because they are descended from Krummedikke, who slew the
infants.

MIDWIFE. And they are still fighting?

FISHERMAN. Still fighting, and still slaying.... You remember, don't
you, Kersti, the soldier's daughter?

MIDWIFE. Of course, I do.

FISHERMAN. She is in the Castle, but to-day she will be out to do her
yearly public penance at the church.

MIDWIFE. Is that so?

FISHERMAN. The Mewlings are coming to bring her over, and the mill-folk
are coming to look on.

MIDWIFE. Do you hear the ice tuning up?

FISHERMAN. I do.

MIDWIFE. Does it mean thaw?

FISHERMAN. Maybe.

MIDWIFE. Then the ice will begin to break from the shore?

FISHERMAN. Quite likely. But if the water should rise, the rapids down
there will carry it off.

MIDWIFE. Are the rapids far from here?

FISHERMAN. Naw! You can hear the Neck quite plainly. To-day he will be
up betimes, as he is expecting something.

MIDWIFE. What can he be expecting?

FISHERMAN. Oh, you know!

MIDWIFE. No, I don't. Please tell me.

FISHERMAN. This is what they tell: Every Easter Sunday morning, at
the hour when the Saviour ascended from his grave, the church of
Krummedikke rises out of the lake. And he who gets a look at it has
peace in his soul for the rest of the year.

MIDWIFE. [_Gallops out toward the right_] Ad-zee! Ad-zee! Ad-zee!

FISHERMAN. That was a bad meeting.... [_He lands a fish and takes it
from the hook_] I got you!

        _The fish slips out of his hand and leaps into the water. The_
        FISHERMAN _tries to catch it with his dip-net. Then a whole row
        of fish-heads appear above the water_.

FISHERMAN. Dumb, but not deaf! "What roars more loudly than a crane?
What is whiter by far than a swan?"[1]

CHILD IN WHITE. [_Dressed as in the preceding scene, enters on skis,
carrying a torch_;] The thunder of heaven roars more loudly than the
crane, and he who does no evil is whiter than the swan.

        _The fish-heads disappear_.

FISHERMAN. Who read my riddle?

CHILD IN WHITE. Who can free the prisoner from his bonds and set the
tongue of the fish talking?

FISHERMAN. No one!

CHILD IN WHITE. No man by man begotten, but one born of the
all-creative God.... He who has built the bridge of glass can break it,
too!... Beware!

        [_He goes out to the right_.

        _The_ FISHERMAN _begins to gather up his implements_.

        _The_ MILL-FOLK (MATS'S _relatives) enter from the left; all
        are on skis and carry long staffs_. MATS _carries a torch_.

MATS. Where is the winter road?

FISHERMAN. Do you mean the road of the fish in the water?

MATS. No, the road of the horse on the snow.

FISHERMAN. Does it lead to court or church?

MILL-FOLK. To church.

FISHERMAN. For the man who has lost his way, all roads lead to the
rapids. [_A rumbling noise is made by the ice_] The roof is cracking!

MILL-FOLK. Where is the road to the church?

FISHERMAN. Everywhere!

MILL-FOLK. Where is the church?

FISHERMAN. You are standing on it, and walking over it, and soon it
will be here.

MILL-FOLK. Is this Krummedikke's lake?

FISHERMAN. It's Krummedikke's castle and Krummedikke's lake; it's
Krummedikke's church, and soon it will break.

MILL-FOLK. Lord have mercy! [_They go out to the right_.

        _The_ MEWLINGS (KERSTI'S _relatives) enter from the left_, on
        _skis and carrying staffs. The_ SOLDIER _carries a torch_.

MEWLINGS. Is this the road to the church?

FISHERMAN. This is the road to the rapids! Turn back!

MEWLINGS. Ridges and open water everywhere! The floe is breaking loose!

FISHERMAN. Go eastward! The sun is tarrying.

MEWLINGS. Let's go eastward! [_They go out to the right_.

        _The_ MILL-FOLK _return from the right_.

FISHERMAN. Turn back! The floe has broken loose down that way!

MILL-FOLK. And eastward, too! Let's turn northward!

FISHERMAN. There's the river!

MILL-FOLK. Southward, then!

FISHERMAN. There are the rapids!

MILL-FOLK. [_Leaning dejectedly on their staffs_] God have mercy on us!

MATS. The Mewlings put us on the wrong track.

BRITA. As they have always done!

FATHER. And they'll be first at church!

GRANDFATHER. Never mind! But I can't help regretting the day when I
burned the papers.

MOTHER. Will there ever be peace?

GRANDMOTHER. "Men who are mild and gentle live in peace and know but
little sorrow."[2]

MILL-FOLK. [_Raising their staffs_] The Mewlings!

MEWLINGS. [_Entering from the right, with raised staffs]_ Will you bide
now, mill-folk? You put us on the wrong track!

MILL-FOLK. You liars!

MEWLINGS. The same to you!

MILL-FOLK. Quibblers!

MEWLINGS. And what are you?

        _The ice begins to crash and rumble_.

FISHERMAN. Peace in the name of Christ Jesus! The water is rising!

ALL. [_Crying aloud_] The water is rising!

MATS'S GRANDFATHER. The ice is sinking. Stay where you are!

MATS'S GRANDMOTHER. To-day we must die, and then comes the day of
judgment!

        _The_ MILL-FOLK _embrace each other. The women pick up the
        children into their arms. The_ MEWLINGS _do likewise_.

MATS'S MOTHER. [_To_ Mats] For the sake of your foolish fondness, we
must die!

KERSTI'S MOTHER. "Another's love should by no one be blamed: wise men
are often snared by beauty, but fools never."[2]

SOLDIER. "This fault of his should by no one be blamed: love, in its
might, will often turn the sons of men from wisdom to folly."[3]

MATS. [_Holding out his hand to the_ SOLDIER] Thank you for those
words! You are the man I named father for a brief while!

SOLDIER. "All at birth and death are equals."

MATS'S FATHER. There you took the word away from me! Your hand!

SOLDIER. [_Giving his hand after a little hesitation_] Here it is! We
are all Christians, and this is the great day of atonement. Let not the
sun rise on our wrath!

MEWLINGS. Let us have peace!

MILL-FOLK. Yes, let us have peace!

        _The two parties are approaching each other with hands
        stretched out, when a terrific crash is heard, and the ice
        opens at their feet, separating them from each other_.

MATS'S GRANDFATHER. Parted in life and parted in death!

MATS'S GRANDMOTHER. The bridge has broken under the burden of crime.

MATS'S MOTHER. Where is Kersti?

MILL-FOLK. Where is Kersti?

MEWLINGS. Where is Kersti?

SOLDIER. "And lo, it was expedient that one should die for the people."

MATS'S GRANDFATHER. "Then said they unto him: What shall we do unto
thee, that the sea may be calm unto us?"

KERSTI'S MOTHER. "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea: for I
know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."

MATS'S GRANDMOTHER. Is it settled?

ALL. It is settled!

KERSTI'S MOTHER. "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb
for a burnt offering?"

MEWLINGS. Where is Kersti?

MILL-FOLK. Where is Kersti?

        _The_ PASTOR _enters, followed by the_ VERGER.

PASTOR. [_To the_ Soldier] "And the Lord said: Lay not thine hand upon
the child, for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not
withheld thine only child from me."

ALL. [_To the_ Minister] Save us!

PASTOR. "There is but one God, the Saviour!" Let us pray!

        _All kneel on the ice_.

PASTOR. "Out of the depths I cry unto thee, O Lord!"

ALL. "Lord, hear my voice!"

PASTOR. O Lord, have mercy!

ALL. Christ, have mercy!

        _The_ SHERIFF _enters from the rear with a torch in his hand.
        He is followed by four soldiers, carrying the dead body of_
        KERSTI _between them_.

        _All get on their feet_.

PASTOR. Whom are you bringing with you?

SHERIFF. We are bringing the crown bride--Kersti!

PASTOR. Is she alive?

SHERIFF. She is dead. The waters took her!

PASTOR. May the Lord take her soul!

SOLDIER. O Lord, have respect unto our offering, as thou hast given
thyself for us an offering.

PASTOR. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son!"

BRITA. The water is falling!

ALL. The water is falling!

        _The gap in the ice is closed up again_.

        MATS _and_ BRITA _walk over to the_ MEWLINGS, _break branches
        from the spruces set in the snow, and spread these over the
        body of_ KERSTI.

PASTOR. Will there be peace after this?

ALL. Peace and reconciliation!

PASTOR. [_Beside the body of_ KERSTI]

    "To the dead
    Give peace, O Lord,
    And console
    The living!"

        _In the background a church is seen rising out of the lake:
        first the gilded weathercock; then the cross resting on a
        globe; and finally the spire, the roof covered with black
        shingles, and the white walls of the round-arched church_.

NECK. [_Is heard playing and singing in the distance, but now his
melody has been transposed into D minor_] "I am hoping, I am hoping,
that my Redeemer still liveth."

PASTOR. Let us give praise and thanks unto the Lord!

ALL. We thank and praise thee, O Lord!

MATS _and_ BRITA _kneel beside the body of_ KERSTI. _All the rest kneel
around them and sing No_. 6 _from the "Old" _Swedish Hymn-Book_ (which
is a free rendering of Luther's_ "Herr Gott, dich loben wir," _and
practically identical with the Ambrosian_ "Te Deum laudamus").

        ALL. [_Singing_]

"O God, we give thee praise! O Lord, we give thee thanks! Eternal
Father, whom the whole world worships!

Thy praise is sung by angels and all the heavenly powers; By Cherubim
and Seraphim thy praise is sung incessantly: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God
of Sabaoth!"

_Curtain_.


[1] Old Swedish folk-riddle, the expected answers to the questions
being respectively: the thunder and an angel.

[2] From the Poetic Edda: "The Song of the High One." See Introduction.

[3] id. note 2.



THE SPOOK SONATA

(SPÖK-SONATEN)

CHAMBER PLAYS: OPUS III

1907


CHARACTERS

    OLD HUMMEL
    _The_ STUDENT, _named Arkenholtz_
    _The_ MILKMAID, _an apparition_
    _The_ JANITRESS
    _The_ GHOST _of the Consul_
    _The_ DARK LADY, _daughter of the Consul and the_ JANITRESS
    _The_ COLONEL
    _The_ MUMMY, _wife of the_ COLONEL
    _The_ YOUNG LADY, _supposedly the_ COLONEL'S _daughter_,
       _but in reality the daughter of_ OLD HUMMEL
    _The_ DANDY, _called Baron Skansenkorge and engaged to
       the_ DARK LADY
    JOHANSSON, _in the service of_ HUMMEL
    BENGTSSON, _the valet of the_ COLONEL
    _The_ FIANCÉE, _a white-haired old woman, formerly engaged
       to_ HUMMEL
    _The_ COOK
    _A_ SERVANT-GIRL
    BEGGARS


FIRST SCENE


        _The stage shows the first and second stories of a modern
        corner home. At the left, the house continues into the wings;
        at the right, it faces on a street supposed to be running at
        right angle to the footlights_.

        _The apartment on the ground floor ends at the corner in a
        round room, above which is a balcony belonging to the apartment
        on the second floor. A flagstaff is fixed to the balcony_.

        _When the shades are raised in the windows of the Round Room, a
        statue of a young woman in white marble becomes visible inside,
        strongly illumined by sunlight. It is surrounded by palms. The
        windows on the left side of the Round Room contain a number of
        flower-pots, in which grow blue, white, and red hyacinths_.

        _A bedquilt of blue silk and two pillows in white cases are
        hung over the railing of the balcony on the second floor. The
        windows at the left of the balcony are covered with white
        sheets on the inside_.

        _A green bench stands on the sidewalk in front of the house.
        The right corner of the foreground is occupied by a drinking
        fountain; the corner at the left, by an advertising column_.

        _The main entrance to the house is near the left wing. Through
        the open doorway appears the foot of the stairway, with
        steps of white marble and a banister of mahogany with brass
        trimmings. On the sidewalk, flanking the entrance, stand two
        laurel-trees in wooden tubs_.

        _At the left of the entrance, there is a window on the ground
        floor, with a window-mirror outside_.

        _It is a bright Sunday morning_.

        _When the curtain rises, the bells of several churches are
        heard ringing in the distance_.

        _The doors of the entrance are wide open, and on the lowest
        step of the stairway stands the_ DARK LADY. _She does not make
        the slightest movement_.

        _The_ JANITRESS _is sweeping the hallway. Then she polishes the
        brass knobs on the doors. Finally she waters the laurel-trees_.

        _Near the advertising column_, OLD HUMMEL _is reading his
        paper, seated in an invalid's chair on wheels. His hair and
        beard are white, and he wears spectacles_.

        _The_ MILKMAID _enters from the side street, carrying
        milk-bottles in a crate of wire-work. She wears a light dress,
        brown shoes, black stockings, and a white cap_.

        _She takes off her cap and hangs it on the fountain; wipes the
        perspiration from her forehead; drinks out of the cup; washes
        her hands in the basin, and arranges her hair, using the water
        in the basin as a mirror_.

        _A steamship-bell is heard outside. Then the silence is broken
        fitfully by a few bass notes from the organ in the nearest
        church_.

        _When silence reigns again, and the_ MILKMAID _has finished
        her toilet, the_ STUDENT _enters from the left, unshaved and
        showing plainly that he has spent a sleepless night. He goes
        straight to the fountain. A pause ensues_.

STUDENT. Can I have the cup?

        _The_ MILKMAID _draws back with the cup_.

STUDENT. Are you not almost done?

        _The_ MILKMAID _stares at him with horror_.

HUMMEL. [_To himself_] With whom is he talking? I don't see anybody.
Wonder if he's crazy?

        [_He continues to look at them with evident surprise_.

STUDENT. Why do you stare at me? Do I look so terrible--It is true
that I haven't slept at all, and I suppose you think I have been making
a night of it....

        _The_ MILKMAID _remains as before_.

STUDENT. You think I have been drinking, do you? Do I smell of liquor?

        _The_ MILKMAID _remains as before_.

STUDENT. I haven't shaved, of course.... Oh, give me a drink of water,
girl. I have earned it. [_Pause_] Well? Must I then tell you myself
that I have spent the night dressing wounds and nursing the injured?
You see, I was present when that house collapsed last night.... Now you
know all about it.

        _The_ MILKMAID _rinses the cup, fills it with water, and hands
        it to him_.

STUDENT. Thanks!

        _The_ MILKMAID _stands immovable_.

STUDENT. [_Hesitatingly_] Would you do me a favour? [_Pause_] My eyes
are inflamed, as you can see, and my hands have touched wounds and
corpses. To touch my eyes with them would be dangerous.... Will you
take my handkerchief, which is clean, dip it in the fresh water, and
bathe my poor eyes with it?--Will you do that?--Won't you play the good
Samaritan?

        _The_ MILKMAID _hesitates at first, but does finally what he
        has asked_.

STUDENT. Thank you! [_He takes out his purse_.

        _The_ MILKMAID _makes a deprecatory gesture_.

STUDENT. Pardon my absent-mindedness. I am not awake, you see....

        _The_ MILKMAID _disappears_.

Hummel. [_To the_ STUDENT] Excuse a stranger, but I heard you mention
last night's accident.... I was just reading about it in the paper....

STUDENT. Is it already in the papers?

HUMMEL. All about it. Even your portrait. They are sorry, though, that
they have not been able to learn the name of the young student who did
such splendid work....

STUDENT. [_Glancing at the paper_] Oh, is that me? Well!

HUMMEL. Whom were you talking to a while ago?

STUDENT. Didn't you see? [_Pause_.

HUMMEL. Would it be impertinent--to ask--your estimable name?

STUDENT. What does it matter? I don't care for publicity. Blame is
always mixed into any praise you may get. The art of belittling is so
highly developed. And besides, I ask no reward....

HUMMEL. Wealthy, I suppose?

STUDENT. Not at all--on the contrary--poor as a durmouse!

HUMMEL. Look here.... It seems to me as if I recognised your voice.
When I was young, I had a friend who always said "dur" instead of
door. Until now he was the one person I had ever heard using that
pronunciation. You are the only other one.... Could you possibly be a
relative of the late Mr. Arkenholtz, the merchant?

STUDENT. He was my father.

HUMMEL. Wonderful are the ways of life.... I have seen you when you
were a small child, under very trying circumstances....

STUDENT. Yes, I have been told that I was born just after my father had
gone bankrupt.

HUMMEL. So you were.

STUDENT. May I ask your name?

HUMMEL. I am Mr. Hummel.

STUDENT. You are? Then I remember....

HUMMEL. Have you often heard my name mentioned at home?

STUDENT. I have.

HUMMEL. And not in a pleasant way, I suppose?

        _The_ STUDENT _remains silent_.

HUMMEL. That's what I expected.--You were told, I suppose, that I had
ruined your father?--All who are ruined by ill-advised speculations
think themselves ruined by those whom they couldn't fool. [_Pause_]
The fact of it is, however, that your father robbed me of seventeen
thousand crowns, which represented all my savings at that time.

STUDENT. It is queer how the same story can be told in quite different
ways.

HUMMEL. You don't think that I am telling the truth?

STUDENT. How can I tell what to think? My father was not in the habit
of lying.

HUMMEL. No, that's right, a father never lies.... But I am also a
father, and for that reason....

STUDENT. What are you aiming at?

HUMMEL. I saved your father from misery, and he repaid me with the
ruthless hatred that is born out of obligation.... He taught his family
to speak ill of me.

STUDENT. Perhaps you made him ungrateful by poisoning your assistance
with needless humiliation.

HUMMEL. All assistance is humiliating, sir.

STUDENT. And what do you ask of me now?

HUMMEL. Not the money back. But if you will render me a small service
now and then, I shall consider myself well paid. I am a cripple, as you
see. Some people say it is my own fault. Others lay it to my parents.
I prefer to blame life itself, with its snares. To escape one of these
snares is to walk headlong into another. As it is, I cannot climb
stairways or ring door-bells, and for that reason I ask you: will you
help me a little?

STUDENT. What can I do for you?

HUMMEL. Give my chair a push, to begin with, so that I can read the
bills on that column. I wish to see what they are playing to-night.

STUDENT. [_Pushing the chair as directed_] Have you no attendant?

HUMMEL. Yes, but he is doing an errand. He'll be back soon. Are you a
medical student?

STUDENT. No, I am studying philology, but I don't know what profession
to choose....

HUMMEL. Well, well! Are you good at mathematics?

STUDENT. Reasonably so.

HUMMEL. That's good! Would you care to accept a position?

STUDENT. Yes, why not?

HUMMEL. Fine! [_Studying the playbills_] They are playing "The Valkyr"
at the matinee.... Then the Colonel will be there with his daughter,
and as he always has the end seat in the sixth row, I'll put you next
to him.... Will you please go over to that telephone kiosk and order a
ticket for seat eighty-two, in the sixth row?

STUDENT. Must I go to the opera in the middle of the day?

HUMMEL. Yes. Obey me, and you'll prosper. I wish to see you happy,
rich, and honoured. Your début last night in the part of the brave
rescuer will have made you famous by to-morrow, and then your name
will be worth a great deal.

STUDENT. [_On his way out to telephone_] What a ludicrous adventure!

HUMMEL. Are you a sportsman?

STUDENT. Yes, that has been my misfortune.

HUMMEL. Then we'll turn it into good fortune.--Go and telephone now.

        _The_ STUDENT _goes out_. HUMMEL _begins to read his paper
        again. In the meantime the_ DARK LADY _has come out on the
        sidewalk and stands talking to the_ JANITRESS. HUMMEL _is
        taking in their conversation, of which, however, nothing is
        audible to the public_. _After a while the_ STUDENT _returns_.

HUMMEL. Ready?

STUDENT. It's done.

HUMMEL. Have you noticed this house?

STUDENT. Yes, I have been watching it.... I happened to pass by
yesterday, when the sun was making every window-pane glitter.... And
thinking of all the beauty and luxury that must be found within, I
said to my companion: "Wouldn't it be nice to have an apartment on the
fifth floor, a beautiful young wife, two pretty little children, and an
income of twenty thousand crowns?"...

HUMMEL. So you said that? Did you really? Well, well! I am very fond of
this house, too....

STUDENT. Do you speculate in houses?

HUMMEL. Mm-yah! But not in the way you mean.

STUDENT. Do you know the people who live here?

HUMMEL. All of them. A man of my age knows everybody, including
their parents and grandparents, and in some manner he always finds
himself related to every one else. I am just eighty--but nobody knows
_me_--not through and through. I am very much interested in human
destinies.

        _At that moment the shades are raised in the Round Room on the
        ground floor, and the_ COLONEL _becomes visible, dressed in
        civilian clothes. He goes to one of the windows to study the
        thermometer outside. Then he turns back into the room and stops
        in front of the marble statue_.

HUMMEL. There's the Colonel now, who will sit next to you at the opera
this afternoon.

STUDENT. Is _he_--the Colonel? I don't understand this at all, but it's
like a fairy-tale.

HUMMEL. All my life has been like a collection of fairy-tales, my dear
sir. Although the tales read differently, they are all strung on a
common thread, and the dominant theme recurs constantly.

STUDENT. Whom does that statue represent?

HUMMEL. His wife, of course.

STUDENT. Was she very lovely?

HUMMEL. Mm-yah--well....

STUDENT. Speak out.

HUMMEL. Oh, we can't form any judgment about people, my dear boy. And
if I told you that she left him, that he beat her, that she returned to
him, that she married him a second time, and that she is living there
now in the shape of a mummy, worshipping her own statue--then you would
think me crazy.

STUDENT. I don't understand at all.

HUMMEL. I didn't expect you would. Then there is the window with the
hyacinths. That's where his daughter lives? She is out for a ride now,
but she will be home in a few moments.

STUDENT. And who is the dark lady talking to the janitress?

HUMMEL. The answer is rather complicated, but it is connected with the
dead man on the second floor, where you see the white sheets.

STUDENT. Who was he?

HUMMEL. A human being like you or me, but the most conspicuous thing
about him was his vanity.... If you were born on a Sunday, you might
soon see him come down the stairway and go out on the sidewalk to make
sure that the flag of the consulate is half-masted. You see, he was
a consul, and he revelled in coronets and lions and plumed hats and
coloured ribbons.

STUDENT. You spoke of being born on a Sunday.... So was I, I understand.

HUMMEL. No! Really?... Oh, I should have known.... The colour of your
eyes shows it.... Then you can see what other people can't. Have you
noticed anything of that kind?

STUDENT. Of course, I can't tell what other people see or don't see,
but at times.... Oh, such things you don't talk of!

HUMMEL. I was sure of it! And you can talk to me, because I--I
understand--things of that kind....

STUDENT. Yesterday, for instance.... I was drawn to that little side
street where the house fell down afterward.... When I got there, I
stopped in front of the house, which I had never seen before....
Then I noticed a crack in the wall.... I could hear the floor beams
snapping.... I rushed forward and picked up a child that was walking
in front of the house at the time.... In another moment the house came
tumbling down.... I was saved, but in my arms, which I thought held
the child, there was nothing at all....

HUMMEL. Well, I must say!... Much as I have heard.... Please tell me
one thing: what made you act as you did by the fountain a while ago?
Why were you talking to yourself?

STUDENT. Didn't you see the Milkmaid to whom I was talking?

HUMMEL. [_Horrified_] A milkmaid?

STUDENT. Yes, the girl who handed me the cup.

HUMMEL. Oh, that's what it was.... Well, I haven't that kind of sight,
but there are other things....

        _A white-haired old woman is seen at the window beside the
        entrance, looking into the window-mirror_.

HUMMEL. Look at that old woman in the window. Do you see her?--Well,
she was my fiancée once upon a time, sixty years ago.... I was twenty
at that time.... Never mind, she does not recognise me. We see each
other every day, and I hardly notice her--although once we vowed to
love each other eternally.... Eternally!

STUDENT. How senseless you were in those days! We don't talk to our
girls like that.

HUMMEL. Forgive us, young man! We didn't know better.--Can you see
that she was young and pretty once?

STUDENT. It doesn't show.... Oh, yes, she has a beautiful way of
looking at things, although I can't see her eyes clearly.

        _The_ JANITRESS _comes out with a basket on her arm and begins
        to cover the sidewalk with chopped hemlock branches, as is
        usual in Sweden when a funeral is to be held_.

HUMMEL. And the Janitress--hm! That Dark Lady is her daughter and the
dead man's, and that's why her husband was made janitor.... But the
Dark Lady has a lover, who is a dandy with great expectations. He is
now getting a divorce from his present wife, who is giving him an
apartment-house to get rid of him. This elegant lover is the son-in-law
of the dead man, and you can see his bedclothes being aired on the
balcony up there.... That's a bit complicated, I should say!

STUDENT. Yes, it's fearfully complicated.

HUMMEL. It certainly is, inside and outside, no matter how simple it
may look.

STUDENT. But who was the dead man?

Hummel. So you asked me a while ago, and I answered you. If you could
look around the corner, where the servants' entrance is, you would see
a lot of poor people whom he used to help--when he was in the mood....

STUDENT. He was a kindly man, then?

HUMMEL. Yes--at times.

STUDENT. Not always?

HUMMEL. No-o.... People are like that!--Will you please move the chair
a little, so that I get into the sunlight? I am always cold. You see,
the blood congeals when you can't move about.... Death isn't far away
from me, I know, but I have a few things to do before it comes.... Just
take hold of my hand and feel how cold I am.

STUDENT. [_Taking his hand_] I should say so!

        [_He shrinks back_.

HUMMEL. Don't leave me! I am tired now, and lonely, but I haven't
always been like this, you know. I have an endlessly long life back
of--enormously long.... I have made people unhappy, and other people
have made me unhappy, and one thing has to be put against the other,
but before I die, I wish to see you happy.... Our destinies have become
intertwined, thanks to your father--and many other things....

STUDENT. Let go my hand! You are taking all my strength! You are
freezing me! What do you want of me?

HUMMEL. Patience, and you'll see, and understand.... There comes the
Young Lady now....

STUDENT. The Colonel's daughter?

HUMMEL. His daughter--yes! Look at her!--Did you ever see such a
masterpiece?

STUDENT. She resembles the marble statue in there.

HUMMEL. It's her mother.

STUDENT. You are right.... Never did I see such a woman of woman
born!--Happy the man who may lead her to the altar and to his home!

HUMMEL. You see it, then? Her beauty is not discovered by everybody....
Then it is written in the book of life!

        _The_ YOUNG LADY _enters from the left, wearing a close-fitting
        English riding-suit. Without looking at any one, she walks
        slowly to the entrance, where she stops and exchanges a few
        words with the_ JANITRESS. _Then she disappears into the house.
        The_ STUDENT _covers his eyes with his hand_.

HUMMEL. Are you crying?

STUDENT. Can you meet what is hopeless with anything but despair?

HUMMEL. I have the power of opening doors and hearts, if I can only
find an arm to do my will.... Serve me, and you shall also have
power....

STUDENT. Is it to be a bargain? Do you want me to sell my soul?

HUMMEL. Don't sell anything!... You see, all my life I have been used
to _take_. Now I have a craving to give--to give! But no one will
accept.... I am rich, very rich, but have no heirs except a scamp who
is tormenting the life out of me.... Become my son! Inherit me while
I am still alive! Enjoy life, and let me look on--from a distance, at
least!

STUDENT. What am I to do?

HUMMEL. Go and hear "The Valkyr" first of all.

STUDENT. That's settled--but what more?

HUMMEL. This evening you shall be in the Round Room.

STUDENT. How am I to get there?

HUMMEL. Through "The Valkyr."

STUDENT. Why have you picked me to be your instrument? Did you know me
before?

HUMMEL. Of course, I did! I have had my eyes on you for a long
time.... Look at the balcony now, where the Maid is raising the flag
at half-mast in honour of the consul.... And then she turns the
bedclothes.... Do you notice that blue quilt? It was made to cover
two, and now it is only covering one.... [_The_ YOUNG LADY _appears
at her window, having changed dress in the meantime; she waters the
hyacinths_] There is my little girl now. Look at her--look! She is
talking to her flowers, and she herself looks like a blue hyacinth.
She slakes their thirst--with pure water only--and they transform the
water into colour and fragrance.... There comes the Colonel with the
newspaper! He shows her the story about the house that fell down--and
he points at your portrait! She is not indifferent--she reads of your
deeds.... It's clouding up, I think.... I wonder if it's going to
rain? Then I shall be in a nice fix, unless Johansson comes back soon
[_The sun has disappeared, and now the stage is growing darker; the
white-haired old woman closes her window_] Now my fiancée is closing
her window.... She is seventy-nine--and the only mirror she uses is
the window-mirror, because there she sees not herself, but the world
around her--and she sees it from two sides--but it has not occurred to
her that she can be seen by the world, too.... A handsome old lady,
after all....

        _Now the_ GHOST, _wrapped in winding sheets, comes out of the
        entrance_.

STUDENT. Good God, what is that I see?

HUMMEL. What _do_ you see?

STUDENT. Don't _you_ see?... There, at the entrance.... The dead man?

HUMMEL. I see nothing at all, but that was what I expected. Tell me....

STUDENT. He comes out in the street.... [_Pause_] Now he turns his head
to look at the flag.

HUMMEL. What did I tell you? And you may be sure that he will count the
wreaths and study the visiting-cards attached to them.... And I pity
anybody that is missing!

STUDENT. Now he goes around the corner....

HUMMEL. He wants to count the poor at the other entrance.... The poor are
so decorative, you know.... "Followed by the blessings of many".... But
he won't get any blessing from me!--Between us, he was a big rascal!

STUDENT. But charitable....

HUMMEL. A charitable rascal, who always had in mind the splendid
funeral he expected to get.... When he knew that his end was near, he
cheated the state out of fifty thousand crowns.... And now his daughter
goes about with ... another woman's husband, and wonders what is in his
will.... Yes, the rascal can hear every word we say, and he is welcome
to it!--There comes Johansson now.

        JOHANSSON _enters from the left_.

HUMMEL. Report!

        JOHANSSON _can be seen speaking, but not a word of what he says
        is heard_.

HUMMEL. Not at home, you say? Oh, you are no good!--Any telegram?--Not
a thing.... Go on!--Six o'clock to-night?--That's fine!--An extra, you
say?--With his full name?--Arkenholtz, a student, yes.... Born....
Parents.... That's splendid! I think it's beginning to rain.... What
did he say?--Is that so?--He won't?--Well, then he must!--Here comes
the Dandy.... Push me around the corner, Johansson, so I can hear what
the poor people have to say.... [_To the_ STUDENT] And you had better
wait for me here, Arkenholtz.... Do you understand?--[_To_ JOHANSSON]
Hurry up now, hurry up!

        JOHANSSON _pushes the chair into the side street and out of
        sight. The_ STUDENT _remains on the same spot, looking at the_
        YOUNG LADY, _who is using a small rake to loosen up the earth
        in her pots. The_ DANDY _enters and joins the_ DARK LADY, _who
        has been walking back and forth on the sidewalk. He is in
        mourning_.

DANDY. Well, what is there to do about it? We simply have to wait.

DARK LADY. But I can't wait!

DANDY. Is that so? Then you'll have to go to the country.

DARK LADY. I don't want to!

DANDY. Come this way, or they'll hear what we are saying.

        _They go toward the advertising column and continue their talk
        inaudibly_.

JOHANSSON. [_Entering from the right; to the_ STUDENT] My master asks
you not to forget that other thing.

STUDENT. [_Dragging his words_] Look here.... Tell me, please.... Who
_is_ your master?

JOHANSSON. Oh, he's so many things, and he has been everything....

STUDENT. Is he in his right mind?

JOHANSSON. Who can tell?--All his life he has been looking for one born
on Sunday, he says--which does not mean that it must be true....

STUDENT. What is he after? Is he a miser?

JOHANSSON. He wants to rule.... The whole day long he travels about in
his chair like the god of thunder himself He looks at houses, tears
them down, opens up new streets, fills the squares with buildings....
At the same time he breaks into houses, sneaks through open windows,
plays havoc with human destinies, kills his enemies, and refuses to
forgive anything.... Can you imagine that a cripple like him has been a
Don Juan--but one who has always lost the women he loved?

STUDENT. How can you make those things go together?

JOHANSSON. He is so full of guile that he can make the women leave
him when he is tired of them.... Just now he is like a horse thief
practising at a slave-market.... He steals human beings, and in all
sorts of ways.... He has literally stolen me out of the hands of the
law.... Hm.... yes.... I had been guilty of a slip. And no one but he
knew of it. Instead of putting me in jail, he made a slave of me. All I
get for my slavery is the food I eat, which might be better at that....

STUDENT. And what does he wish to do in this house here?

JOHANSSON. No, I don't want to tell! It's too complicated....

STUDENT. I think I'll run away from the whole story....

        _The_ YOUNG LADY _drops a bracelet out of the window so that it
        falls on the sidewalk_.

JOHANSSON. Did you see the Young Lady drop her bracelet out of the
window?

        _Without haste, the_ STUDENT _picks up the bracelet and hands
        it to the_ YOUNG LADY, _who thanks him rather stiffly; then he
        returns to_ JOHANSSON.

JOHANSSON. So you want to run away? That is more easily said than done
when _he_ has got you in his net.... And he fears nothing between
heaven and earth except one thing or one person rather....

STUDENT. Wait--I think I know!

JOHANSSON. How could you?

STUDENT. I can guess! Is it not--a little milkmaid that he fears?

JOHANSSON. He turns his head away whenever he meets a milk wagon....
And at times he talks in his sleep.... He must have been in Hamburg at
one time, I think....

STUDENT. Is this man to be trusted?

JOHANSSON. You may trust him--to do anything!

STUDENT. What is he doing around the corner now?

JOHANSSON. Watching the poor dropping a word here and a word there....
loosening a stone at a time ... until the whole house comes tumbling
down, metaphorically speaking.... You see, I am an educated man, and I
used to be a book dealer.... Are you going now?

STUDENT. I find it hard to be ungrateful.... Once upon a time he saved
my father, and now he asks a small service in return....

JOHANSSON. What is it?

STUDENT. To go and see "The Valkyr"....

JOHANSSON. That's beyond me.... But he is always up to new tricks....
Look at him now, talking to the police-man! He is always thick with the
police. He uses them. He snares them in their own interests. He ties
their hands by arousing their expectations with false promises--while
all the time he is pumping them.... You'll see that he is received in
the Round Room before the day is over!

STUDENT. What does he want there? What has he to do with the Colonel?

JOHANSSON. I think I can guess, but know nothing with certainty. But
you'll see for yourself when you get there!

STUDENT. I'll never get there.

JOHANSSON. That depends on yourself!--Go to "The Valkyr."

STUDENT. Is that the road?

JOHANSSON. Yes, if he has said so--Look at him there--look at him in
his war chariot, drawn in triumph by the Beggars, who get nothing for
their pains but a hint of a great treat to be had at his funeral.

        OLD HUMMEL _appears standing in his invalid's chair, which is
        drawn by one of the_ BEGGARS, _and followed by the rest_.

HUMMEL. Give honour to the noble youth who, at the risk of his
own, saved so many lives in yesterday's accident! Three cheers for
Arkenholtz!

        _The_ BEGGARS _bare their heads, but do not cheer. The_ YOUNG
        LADY _appears at her window, waving her handkerchief. The_
        COLONEL _gazes at the scene from a window in the Round Room.
        The_ FIANCÉE _rises at her window. The_ MAID _appears on the
        balcony and hoists the flag to the top_.

HUMMEL. Applaud, citizens! It is Sunday, of course, but the ass in the
pit and the ear in the field will absolve us. Although I was not born
on a Sunday, I have the gift of prophecy and of healing, and on one
occasion I brought a drowned person back to life.... That happened in
Hamburg on a Sunday morning just like this....

        _The_ MILKMAID _enters, seen only by the_ STUDENT _and_ HUMMEL.
        _She raises her arms with the movement of a drowning person,
        while gazing fixedly at_ HUMMEL.

HUMMEL. [_Sits down; then he crumbles in a heap, stricken with horror_]
Get me out of here, Johansson! Quick!--Arkenholtz, don't forget "The
Valkyr!"

STUDENT. What is the meaning of all this?

JOHANSSON. We'll see! We'll see!

_Curtain_.



SECOND SCENE


        _In the Round Room. An oven of white, glazed bricks occupies
        the centre of the background. The mantelpiece is covered by a
        large mirror. An ornamental clock and candelabra stand on the
        mantelshelf_.

        _At the right of the mantelpiece is a door leading into a
        hallway, back of which may be seen a room papered in green,
        with mahogany furniture. The_ COLONEL _is seated at a
        writing-desk, so that only his back is visible to the public_.

        _The statue stands at the left, surrounded by palms and with
        draperies arranged so that it can be hidden entirely_.

        _A door at the left of the mantelpiece opens on the Hyacinth
        Room, where the_ YOUNG LADY _is seen reading a book_.

        BENGTSSON, _the valet, enters from the hallway, dressed in
        livery. He is followed by_ JOHANSSON _in evening dress with
        white tie_.


BENGTSSON. Now you'll have to do the waiting, Johansson, while I take
the overclothes. Do you know how to do it?

JOHANSSON. Although I am pushing a war chariot in the daytime, as you
know, I wait in private houses at night, and I have always dreamt of
getting into this place.... Queer sort of people, hm?

BENGTSSON. Yes, a little out of the ordinary, one might say.

JOHANSSON. Is it a musicale, or what is it?

BENGTSSON. The usual spook supper, as we call it. They drink tea and
don't say a word, or else the Colonel does all the talking. And then
they munch their biscuits, all at the same time, so that it sounds like
the gnawing of a lot of rats in an attic.

JOHANSSON. Why do you call it a spook supper?

BENGTSSON. Because they look like spooks.... And they have kept this
up for twenty years--always the same people, saying the same things or
keeping silent entirely, lest they be put to shame.

JOHANSSON. Is there not a lady in the house, too?

BENGTSSON. Yes, but she is a little cracked. She sits all the time in a
closet, because her eyes can't bear the light. [_He points at a papered
door_] She is in there now.

JOHANSSON. In there, you say?

BENGTSSON. I told you they were a little out of the ordinary....

JOHANSSON. How does she look?

BENGTSSON. Like a mummy.... Would you care to look at her? [_He opens
the papered door_] There she is now!

JOHANSSON. Mercy!

MUMMY. [_Talking baby talk_] Why does he open the door? Haven't I told
him to keep it closed?

BENGTSSON. [_In the same way_] Ta-ta-ta-ta! Polly must be nice now.
Then she'll get something good. Pretty polly!

MUMMY. [_Imitating a parrot_] Pretty polly! Are you there, Jacob?
Currrrr!

BENGTSSON. She thinks herself a parrot, and maybe she's right [_To the_
MUMMY] Whistle for us, Polly.

        _The_ MUMMY _whistles_.

JOHANSSON. Much I have seen, but never the like of it!

BENGTSSON. Well, you see, a house gets mouldy when it grows old, and
when people are too much together, tormenting each other all the time,
they lose their reason. The lady of this house.... Shut up, Polly!...
That mummy has been living here forty years--with the same husband, the
same furniture, the same relatives, the same friends.... [_He closes
the papered door_] And the happenings this house has witnessed! Well,
it's beyond me.... Look at that statue. That's the selfsame lady in her
youth.

JOHANSSON. Good Lord! Can that be the Mummy?

BENGTSSON. Yes, it's enough to make you weep!--And somehow, carried
away by her own imagination, perhaps, she has developed some of the
traits of the talkative parrot.... She can't stand cripples or sick
people, for instance.... She can't bear the sight of her own daughter,
because she is sick....

JOHANSSON. Is the Young Lady sick?

BENGTSSON. Don't you know that?

JOHANSSON. No.--And the Colonel--who is he?

BENGTSSON. That remains to be seen!

JOHANSSON. [_Looking at the statue_] It's horrible to think that....
How old is she now?

BENGTSSON. Nobody knows. But at thirty-five she is said to have looked
like nineteen, and that's the age she gave to the Colonel.... In this
house.... Do you know what that Japanese screen by the couch is used
for? They call it the Death Screen, and it is placed in front of the
bed when somebody is dying, just as they do in hospitals....

JOHANSSON. This must be an awful house! And the Student was longing for
it as for paradise....

BENGTSSON. What student? Oh, I know! The young chap who is coming here
to-night.... The Colonel and the Young Lady met him at the opera and
took a great fancy to him at once.... Hm!... But now it's my turn to
ask questions. Who's your master? The man in the invalid's chair?...

JOHANSSON. Well, well! Is he coming here, too?

BENGTSSON. He has not been invited.

JOHANSSON. He'll come without invitation--if necessary.

        OLD HUMMEL _appears in the hallway, dressed in frock coat and
        high hat. He uses crutches, but moves without a noise, so that
        he is able to listen to the two servants._

BENGTSSON. He's a sly old guy, isn't he?

JOHANSSON. Yes, he's a good one!

BENGTSSON. He looks like the very devil.

JOHANSSON. He's a regular wizard, I think because he can pass through
locked doors....

HUMMEL. [_Comes forward and pinches the ear of_ JOHANSSON] Look out,
you scoundrel! [_To_ BENGTSSON] Tell the Colonel I am here.

BENGTSSON. We expect company....

HUMMEL. I know, but my visit is as good as expected, too, although not
exactly desired, perhaps....

BENGTSSON. I see! What's the name? Mr. Hummel?

HUMMEL. That's right.

        BENGTSSON _crosses the hallway to the Green Room, the door of
        which he closes behind him_.

HUMMEL. [_To_ JOHANSSON] Vanish!

JOHANSSON _hesitates_.

HUMMEL. Vanish, I say!

        JOHANSSON _disappears through the hallway_.

HUMMEL. [_Looking around and finally stopping in front of the statue,
evidently much surprised_] Amelia!--It is she!--She!

        _He takes another turn about the room, picking up various
        objects to look at them; then he stops in front of the mirror
        to arrange his wig; finally he returns to the statue_.

MUMMY. [_In the closet_] Prrretty Polly!

HUMMEL. [_Startled_] What was that? Is there a parrot in the room? I
don't see it!

MUMMY. Are you there, Jacob?

HUMMEL. The place is haunted!

MUMMY. Jacob!

HUMMEL. Now I am scared!... So that's the kind of secrets they have
been keeping in this house! [_He stops in front of a picture with his
back turned to the closet_] And that's he.... He!

MUMMY. [_Comes out of the closet and pulls the wig of_ HUMMEL] Currrrr!
Is that Currrrr?

HUMMEL. [_Almost lifted off his feet by fright_] Good Lord in
heaven!... Who are you?

MUMMY. [_Speaking in a normal voice_] Is that you, Jacob?

HUMMEL. Yes, my name is Jacob....

MUMMY. [_Deeply moved_] And my name is Amelia!

HUMMEL. Oh, no, no, no!--Merciful heavens!...

MUMMY. How I look! That's right!--And _have_ looked like that!
[_Pointing to the statue_] Life is a pleasant thing, is it not?... I
live mostly in the closet, both in order to see nothing and not to be
seen.... But, Jacob, what do you want here?

HUMMEL. My child our child....

MUMMY. There she sits.

HUMMEL. Where?

MUMMY. There--in the Hyacinth Room.

HUMMEL. [_Looking at the_ YOUNG LADY] Yes, that is she! [_Pause_] And
what does her father say.... I mean the Colonel.... your husband?

MUMMY. Once, when I was angry with him, I told him everything....

HUMMEL. And?...

MUMMY. He didn't believe me. All he said was: "That's what all women
say when they wish to kill their husbands."--It is a dreadful crime,
nevertheless. His whole life has been turned into a lie--his family
tree, too. Sometimes I take a look in the peerage, and then I say to
myself: "Here she is going about with a false birth certificate, just
like any runaway servant-girl, and for such things people are sent to
the reformatory."

HUMMEL. Well, it's quite common. I think I recall a certain
incorrectness in regard to the date of your own birth.

MUMMY. It was my mother who started that.... I was not to blame for
it.... And it was you, after all, who had the greater share in our
guilt....

HUMMEL. No, what wrong we did was provoked by your husband when he took
my fiancée away from me! I was born a man who cannot forgive until he
has punished. To punish has always seemed an imperative duty to me--and
so it seems still!

MUMMY. What are you looking for in this house? What do you want? How
did you get in?--Does it concern my daughter? If you touch her, you
must die!

HUMMEL. I mean well by her!

MUMMY. And you have to spare her father!

HUMMEL. No!

MUMMY. Then you must die ... in this very room ... back of that
screen....

HUMMEL. Perhaps.... but I can't let go when I have got my teeth in a
thing....

MUMMY. You wish to marry her to the Student? Why? He is nothing and has
nothing.

HUMMEL. He will be rich, thanks to me.

MUMMY. Have you been invited for to-night?

HUMMEL. No, but I intend to get an invitation for your spook supper.

MUMMY. Do you know who will be here?

HUMMEL. Not quite.

MUMMY. The Baron--he who lives above us, and whose father-in-law was
buried this afternoon....

HUMMEL. The man who is getting a divorce to marry the daughter of the
Janitress.... The man who used to be--your lover!

MUMMY. Another guest will be your former fiancée, who was seduced by my
husband....

HUMMEL. Very select company!

MUMMY. If the Lord would let us die! Oh, that we might only die!

HUMMEL. But why do you continue to associate?

MUMMY. Crime and guilt and secrets bind us together, don't you know?
Our ties have snapped so that we have slipped apart innumerable times,
but we are always drawn together again....

HUMMEL. I think the Colonel is coming.

MUMMY. I'll go in to Adèle, then.... [_Pause_] Consider what you do,
Jacob! Spare him....

        [_Pause; then she goes out_.

COLONEL. [_Enters, haughty and reserved_] Won't you be seated, please?

        HUMMEL _seats himself with great deliberation; pause_.

COLONEL. [_Staring at his visitor_] You wrote this letter, sir?

HUMMEL. I did.

COLONEL. Your name is Hummel?

HUMMEL. It is. [_Pause_.

COLONEL. As I learn that you have bought up all my unpaid and overdue
notes, I conclude that I am at your mercy. What do you want?

HUMMEL. Payment--in one way or another.

COLONEL. In what way?

HUMMEL. A very simple one. Let us not talk of the money. All you have
to do is to admit me as a guest....

COLONEL. If a little thing like that will satisfy you....

HUMMEL. I thank you.

COLONEL. Anything more?

HUMMEL. Discharge Bengtsson.

COLONEL. Why should I do so? My devoted servant, who has been with me a
lifetime, and who has the medal for long and faithful service.... Why
should I discharge him?

HUMMEL. Those wonderful merits exist only in your imagination. He is
not the man he seems to be.

COLONEL. _Who is_?

HUMMEL. [_Taken back_] True!--But Bengtsson must go!

COLONEL. Do you mean to order my household?

HUMMEL. I do ... as everything visible here belongs to me ...
furniture, draperies, dinner ware, linen and other things!

COLONEL. What other things?

HUMMEL. Everything! All that is to be seen is mine! I own it!

COLONEL. Granted! But for all that, my coat of arms and my unspotted
name belong to myself.

HUMMEL. No--not even that much! [_Pause_] You are not a nobleman!

COLONEL. Take care!

HUMMEL. [_Producing a document_] If you'll read this extract from the
armorial, you will see that the family whose name you are using has
been extinct for a century.

COLONEL. [_Reading the document_] I have heard rumours to that effect,
but the name was my father's before it was mine.... [_Reading again_]
That's right! Yes, you are right--I am not a nobleman! Not even
that!--Then I may as well take off my signet-ring.... Oh, I remember
now.... It belongs to you.... If you please!

HUMMEL. [_Accepting the ring and putting it into his pocket_] We had
better continue. You are no colonel, either.

COLONEL. Am I not?

HUMMEL. No, you have simply held the title of colonel in the American
volunteer service by special appointment. After the war in Cuba and the
reorganisation of the army, all titles of that kind were abolished....

COLONEL. Is that true?

HUMMEL. [_With a gesture toward his pocket_] Do you wish to see for
yourself?

COLONEL. No, it won't be necessary.--Who are you, anyhow, and with what
right are you stripping me naked in this fashion?

HUMMEL. You'll see by and by. As to stripping you naked--do you know
who you are in reality?

COLONEL. How dare you?

HUMMEL. Take off that wig, and have a look at yourself in the mirror.
Take out that set of false teeth and shave off your moustache, too. Let
Bengtsson remove the iron stays--and perhaps a certain X Y Z, a lackey,
may begin to recognise himself--the man who used to visit the maid's
chamber in a certain house for a bite of something good....

        _The_ COLONEL _makes a movement toward a table on which stands
        a bell, but is checked by_ HUMMEL.

HUMMEL. Don't touch that bell, and don't call Bengtsson! If you do,
I'll have him arrested.... Now the guests are beginning to arrive....
Keep your composure, and let us continue to play our old parts for a
while.

COLONEL. Who are you? Your eyes and your voice remind me of somebody....

HUMMEL. Don't try to find out! Keep silent and obey!

STUDENT. [_Enters and bows to the_ COLONEL] Colonel!

COLONEL. I bid you welcome to my house, young man. Your splendid
behaviour in connection with that great disaster has brought your name
to everybody's lips, and I count it an honour to receive you here....

STUDENT. Being a man of humble birth, Colonel and considering your name
and position....

COLONEL. May I introduce?--Mr. Arkenholtz--Mr. Hummel. The ladies are
in there, Mr. Arkenholtz--if you please--I have a few more things to
talk over with Mr. Hummel....

        _Guided by the_ COLONEL, _the_ STUDENT _goes into the Hyacinth
        Room, where he remains visible, standing beside the_ YOUNG LADY
        _and talking very timidly to her_.

COLONEL. A splendid young chap--very musical--sings, and writes
poetry.... If he were only a nobleman--if he belonged to our class, I
don't think I should object....

HUMMEL. To what?

COLONEL. Oh, my daughter....

HUMMEL. _Your_ daughter, you say?--But apropos of that, why is she
always sitting in that room?

COLONEL. She has to spend all her time in the Hyacinth Room when she is
not out. That is a peculiarity of hers.... Here comes Miss Betty von
Holstein-Kron--a charming woman--a Secular Canoness, with just enough
money of her own to suit her birth and position....

Hummel. [_To__himself_] My fiancée!

        _The_ FIANCÉE _enters. She is white-haired, and her looks
        indicate a slightly unbalanced mind_.

COLONEL. Miss von Holstein-Kron--Mr. Hummel.

        _The_ FIANCÉE _curtseys in old-fashioned manner and takes a
        seat. The_ DANDY _enters and seats himself; he is in mourning
        and has a very mysterious look._

COLONEL. Baron Skansenkorge....

HUMMEL. [_Aside, without rising_] That's the jewelry thief, I think....
[_To the_ COLONEL] If you bring in the Mummy, our gathering will be
complete.

COLONEL. [_Going to the door of the Hyacinth Room_] Polly!

MUMMY. [_Enters_] Currrrr!

COLONEL. How about the young people?

HUMMEL. No, not the young people! They must be spared.

        _The company is seated in a circle, no one saying a word for a
        while_.

COLONEL. Shall we order the tea now?

HUMMEL. What's the use? No one cares for tea, and I can't see the need
of pretending. [_Pause_.

COLONEL. Shall we make conversation?

HUMMEL. [_Speaking slowly and with frequent pauses._] Talk of the
weather, which we know all about? Ask one another's state of health,
which we know just as well? I prefer silence. Then thoughts become
audible, and we can see the past. Silence can hide nothing--but words
can. I read the other day that the differentiation of languages had its
origin in the desire among savage peoples to keep their tribal secrets
hidden from outsiders. This means that every language is a code, and
he who finds the universal key can understand every language in the
world--which does not prevent the secret from becoming revealed without
any key at times, and especially when the fact of paternity is to be
proved--but, of course, legal proof is a different matter. Two false
witnesses suffice to prove, anything on which they agree, but you don't
bring any witnesses along on the kind of expedition I have in mind.
Nature herself has planted in man a sense of modesty, which tends to
hide that which should be hidden. But we slip into situations unawares,
and now and then a favourable chance will reveal the most cherished
secret, stripping the impostor of his mask, and exposing the villain....

        _Long pause during which everybody is subject to silent
        scrutiny by all the rest_.

HUMMEL. How silent everybody is! [_Long silence_] Here, for instance,
in this respectable house, this attractive home, where beauty and
erudition and wealth have joined hands.... [_Long silence_] All of
us sitting here now--we know who we are, don't we? I don't need to
tell.... And all of you know me, although you pretend ignorance.... In
the next room is my daughter--_mine_, as you know perfectly well. She
has lost the desire to live without knowing why.... The fact is that
she has been pining away in this air charged with crime and deceit and
falsehood of every kind.... That is the reason why I have looked for
a friend in whose company she may enjoy the light and heat radiated
by noble deeds [_Long silence_] Here is my mission in this house: to
tear up the weeds, to expose the crimes, to settle all accounts, so
that those young people may start life with a clean slate in a home
that is my gift to them. [_Long silence_] Now I grant you safe retreat.
Everybody may leave in his due turn. Whoever stays will be arrested.
[_Long silence_] Do you hear that clock ticking like the deathwatch
hidden in a wall? Can you hear what it says?--"It's time! It's
time!"--When it strikes in a few seconds, your time will be up, and
then you can go, but not before. You may notice, too, that the clock
shakes its fist at you before it strikes. Listen! There it is! "Better
beware," it says.... And I can strike, too [_He raps the top of a table
with one of his crutches_] Do you hear?

        _For a while everybody remains silent_.

MUMMY. [_Goes up to the dock and stops it; then she speaks in a normal
and dignified tone_] But I can stop time in its course. I can wipe
out the past and undo what is done. Bribes won't do that, nor will
threats--but suffering and repentance will [_She goes to_ HUMMEL] We
are miserable human creatures, and we know it. We have erred and we
have sinned--we, like everybody else. We are not what we seem, but
at bottom we are better than ourselves because we disapprove of our
own misdeeds. And when you, Jacob Hummel, with your assumed name,
propose to sit in judgment on us, you merely prove yourself worse than
all the rest. You are not the one you seem to be--no more than we!
You are a thief of human souls! You stole mine once upon a time by
means of false promises. You killed the Consul, whom they buried this
afternoon--strangling him with debts. You are now trying to steal the
soul of the Student with the help of an imaginary claim against his
father, who never owed you a farthing....

        _Having vainly tried to rise and say something_, HUMMEL _sinks
        back into his chair; as the_ MUMMY _continues her speech he
        seems to shrink and lose volume more and more_.

MUMMY. There is one dark spot in your life concerning which I am not
certain, although I have my suspicions.... I believe Bengtsson can
throw light on it.

        [_She rings the table-bell_.

HUMMEL. No! Not Bengtsson! Not him!

MUMMY. So he _does_ know? [_She rings again_.

        _The_ MILKMAID _appears in the hallway, but is only seen by_
        HUMMEL, _who shrinks back in horror. Then_ BENGTSSON _enters,
        and the_ MILKMAID _disappears_.

MUMMY. Do you know this man, Bengtsson?

BENGTSSON. Oh yes, I know him, and he knows me. Life has its ups and
downs, as you know. I have been in his service, and he has been in
mine. For two years he came regularly to our kitchen to be fed by our
cook. Because he had to be at work at a certain hour, she made the
dinner far ahead of time, and we had to be satisfied with the warmed-up
leavings of that beast. He drank the soup-stock, so that we got nothing
but water. Like a vampire, the sucked the house of all nourishment,
until we became reduced to mere skeletons--and he nearly got us into
jail when we dared to call the cook a thief. Later I met that man in
Hamburg, where he had another name. Then he was a money-lender, a
regular leech. While there, he was accused of having lured a young girl
out on the ice in order to drown her, because she had seen him commit a
crime, and he was afraid of being exposed....

MUMMY. [_Making a pass with her hand over the face of_ HUMMEL _as if
removing a mask_] That's you! And now, give up the notes and the will!

        JOHANSSON _appears in the hallway and watches the scene with
        great interest, knowing that his slavery will now come to an
        end_.

        HUMMEL _produces a bundle of papers and throws them on the
        table_.

MUMMY. [_Stroking the back of_ HUMMEL] Polly! Are you there, Jacob?

HUMMEL. [_Talking like a parrot_] Here is Jacob!--Pretty Polly! Currrr!

MUMMY. May the clock strike?

HUMMEL. [_With a clucking noise like that of a clock preparing to
strike_] The dock may strike! [_Imitating a cuckoo-clock]_ Cuckoo,
cuckoo, cuckoo....

MUMMY. [_Opening the closet door_] Now the clock has struck! Rise and
enter the closet where I have spent twenty years bewailing our evil
deed. There you will find a rope that may represent the one with which
you strangled the Consul as well as the one with which you meant to
strangle your benefactor.... Go!

        HUMMEL _enters the closet_.

MUMMY. [_Closes the door after him_] Put up the screen, Bengtsson....
The Death Screen!

        BENGTSSON _places the screen in front of the door._

MUMMY. It is finished! God have mercy on his soul!

ALL. Amen!

        _Long silence. Then the_ YOUNG LADY _appears in the Hyacinth
        Room with the_ STUDENT. _She seats herself at a harp and begins
        a prelude, which changes into an accompaniment to the following
        recitative_:

STUDENT. [_Singing_]

    "Seeing the sun, it seemed to my fancy
    That I beheld the Spirit that's hidden.
    Man must for ever reap what he planted:
    Happy is he who has done no evil.
    Wrong that was wrought in moments of anger
    Never by added wrong can be righted.
    Kindness shown to the man whose sorrow
    Sprang from your deed, will serve you better.
    Fear and guilt have their home together:
    Happy indeed is the guiltless man!"


_Curtain_.


THIRD SCENE


        _A room furnished in rather bizarre fashion. The general effect
        of it is Oriental. Hyacinths of different colours are scattered
        everywhere. On the mantelshelf of the fireplace is seen a huge,
        seated Buddha, in whose lap rests a bulb. From that bulb rises
        the stalk of a shallot_ (Allium Ascalonicum), _spreading aloft
        its almost globular cluster of white, starlike flowers_.

        _An open door in the rear wall, toward the right-hand side,
        leads to the Round Room, where the_ COLONEL _and the_ MUMMY
        _are seated. They don't stir and don't utter a word. A part of
        the Death Screen is also visible_.

        _Another door, at the left, leads to the pantry and the
        kitchen. The_ YOUNG LADY _[Adèle] and the_ STUDENT _are
        discovered near a table. She is seated at her harp, and he
        stands beside her_.


YOUNG LADY. Sing to my flowers.

STUDENT. Is this the flower of your soul?

YOUNG LADY. The one and only.--Are you fond of the hyacinth?

STUDENT. I love it above all other flowers. I love its virginal shape
rising straight and slender out of the bulb that rests on the water and
sends its pure white rootlets down into the colourless fluid. I love
the colour of it, whether innocently white as snow or sweetly yellow
as honey; whether youthfully pink or maturely red; but above all if
blue--with the deep-eyed, faith-inspiring blue of the morning sky. I
love these flowers, one and all; love them more than pearls or gold,
and have loved them ever since I was a child. I have always admired
them, too, because they possess every handsome quality that I lack....
And yet....

YOUNG LADY. What?

STUDENT. My love is unrequited. These beautiful blossoms hate me.

YOUNG LADY. How do you mean?

STUDENT. Their fragrance, powerful and pure as the winds of early
spring, which have passed over melting snow--it seems to confuse my
senses, to make me deaf and blind, to crowd me out of the room, to
bombard me with poisoned arrows that hurt my heart and set my head on
fire. Do you know the legend of that flower?

YOUNG LADY. Tell me about it.

STUDENT. Let us first interpret its symbolism. The bulb is the earth,
resting on the water or buried in the soil. From that the stalk rises,
straight as the axis of the universe. At its upper end appear the
six-pointed, starlike flowers.

YOUNG LADY. Above the earth--the stars! What lofty thought! Where did
you find it? How did you discover it?

STUDENT. Let me think.... In your eyes!--It is, therefore, an image of
the Cosmos. And that is the reason why Buddha is holding the earth-bulb
in his lap, brooding on it with a steady gaze, in order that he may
behold it spread outward and upward as it becomes transformed into a
heaven.... This poor earth must turn into a heaven! That is what Buddha
is waiting for!

YOUNG LADY. I see now.... Are not the snow crystals six-pointed, too,
like the hyacinth-lily?

STUDENT. You are right! Thus the snow crystal is a falling star....

YOUNG LADY. And the snowdrop is a star of snow--grown out of the snow.

STUDENT. But the largest and most beautiful of all the stars in the
firmament, the red and yellow Sirius, is the narcissus, with its
yellow-and-red cup and its six white rays....

YOUNG LADY. Have you seen the shallot bloom?

STUDENT. Indeed, I have! It hides its flowers within a ball, a globe
resembling the celestial one, and strewn, like that, with white
stars....

YOUNG LADY. What a tremendous thought! Whose was it?

STUDENT. Yours!

YOUNG LADY. No, yours!

STUDENT. Ours, then! We have jointly given birth to something: we are
wedded....

YOUNG LADY. Not yet.

STUDENT. What more remains?

YOUNG LADY. To await the coming ordeal in patience!

STUDENT. I am ready for it. [_Pause_] Tell me! Why do your parents sit
there so silently, without saying a single word?

YOUNG LADY. Because they have nothing to say to each other, and because
neither one believes what the other says. This is the way my father
puts it: "What is the use of talking, when you can't fool each other
anyhow?"

STUDENT. That's horrible....

YOUNG LADY. Here comes the Cook.... Look! how big and fat she is!

STUDENT. What does she want?

YOUNG LADY. Ask me about the dinner.... You see, I am looking after the
house during my mother's illness.

STUDENT. Have we to bother about the kitchen, too?

YOUNG LADY. We must eat.... Look at that Cook.... I can't bear the
sight of her....

STUDENT. What kind of a monster is she?

Young Lady. She belongs to the Hummel family of vampires. She is eating
us alive.

STUDENT. Why don't you discharge her?

YOUNG LADY. Because she won't leave. We can do nothing with her, and
we have got her for the sake of our sins.... Don't you see that we are
pining and wasting away?

STUDENT. Don't you get enough to eat?

YOUNG LADY. Plenty of dishes, but with all the nourishment gone from
the food. She boils the life out of the beef, and drinks the stock
herself, while we get nothing but fibres and water. In the same way,
when we have roast, she squeezes it dry. Then she eats the gravy and
drinks the juice herself. She takes the strength and savour out of
everything she touches. It is as if her eyes were leeches. When she has
had coffee, we get the grounds. She drinks the wine and puts water into
the bottles....

STUDENT. Kick her out!

YOUNG LADY. We can't!

STUDENT. Why not?

YOUNG LADY. We don't know! But she won't leave! And nobody can do
anything with her. She has taken all our strength away from us.

STUDENT. Will you let me dispose of her?

YOUNG LADY. No! It has to be as it is, I suppose.--Here she is now. She
will ask me what I wish for dinner, and I tell her, and then she will
make objections, and in the end she has her own way.

STUDENT. Why don't you leave it to her entirely?

YOUNG LADY. She won't let me.

STUDENT. What a strange house! It seems to be bewitched!

YOUNG LADY. It is!--Now she turned back on seeing you here.

COOK. [_Appearing suddenly in the doorway at that very moment_] Naw,
that was not the reason.

        [_She grins so that every tooth can be seen_.

STUDENT. Get out of here!

COOK. When it suits me! [_Pause_] Now it does suit me!

        [_She disappears_.

YOUNG LADY. Don't lose your temper! You must practise patience.
She is part of the ordeal we have to face in this house. We have a
chambermaid, too, after whom we have to put everything back where it
belongs.

STUDENT. Now I am sinking! _Cor in aethere!_ Music!

YOUNG LADY. Wait!

STUDENT. Music!

YOUNG LADY. Patience!--This is named the Room of Ordeal.... It is
beautiful to look at, but is full of imperfections.

STUDENT. Incredible! Yet such things have to be borne. It is very
beautiful, although a little cold. Why don't you have a fire?

YOUNG LADY. Because the smoke comes into the room.

STUDENT. Have the chimney swept!

YOUNG LADY. It doesn't help.--Do you see that writing-table?

STUDENT. Remarkably handsome!

YOUNG LADY. But one leg is too short. Every day I put a piece of cork
under that leg. Every day the chambermaid takes it away when she sweeps
the room. Every day I have to cut a new piece. Both my penholder and my
inkstand are covered with ink every morning, and I have to clean them
after that woman--as sure as the sun rises. [_Pause]_ What is the worst
thing you can think of?

STUDENT. To count the wash. Ugh!

YOUNG LADY. That's what I have to do. Ugh!

STUDENT. Anything else?

YOUNG LADY. To be waked out of your sleep and have to get up and dose
the window--which the chambermaid has left unlatched.

STUDENT. Anything else?

YOUNG LADY. To get up on a ladder and tie on the cord which the
chambermaid has torn from the window-shade.

STUDENT. Anything else?

YOUNG LADY. To sweep after her; to dust after her; to start the fire
again, after she has merely thrown some wood into the fireplace! To
watch the damper in the fireplace; to wipe every glass; to set the
table over again; to open the wine-bottles; to see that the rooms are
aired; to make over your bed; to rinse the water-bottle that is green
with sediment; to buy matches and soap, which are always lacking; to
wipe the chimneys and cut the wicks in order to keep the lamps from
smoking and in order to keep them from going out when we have company,
I have to fill them myself....

STUDENT. Music!

YOUNG LADY. Wait! The labour comes first--the labour of keeping the
filth of life at a distance.

STUDENT. But you are wealthy, and you have two servants?

YOUNG LADY. What does that help? What would it help to have three? It
is troublesome to live, and at times I get tired.... Think, then, of
adding a nursery!

STUDENT. The greatest of joys....

YOUNG LADY. And the costliest.... Is life really worth so much trouble?

STUDENT. It depends on the reward you expect for your labours.... To
win your hand I would face anything.

YOUNG LADY. Don't talk like that. You can never get me.

STUDENT. Why?

YOUNG LADY. You mustn't ask.

        [_Pause_.

STUDENT. You dropped your bracelet out of the window....

YOUNG LADY. Yes, because my hand has grown too small....

        [_Pause_.

        _The_ COOK _appears with a bottle of Japanese soy in her hand_.

YOUNG LADY. There is the one that eats me and all the rest alive.

STUDENT. What has she in her hand?

COOK. This is my colouring bottle that has letters on it looking like
scorpions. It's the soy that turns water into bouillon, and that takes
the place of gravy. You can make cabbage soup out of it, or mock-turtle
soup, if you prefer.

STUDENT. Out with you!

COOK. You take the sap out of us, and we out of you. We keep the blood
for ourselves and leave you the water--with the colouring. It's the
colour that counts! Now I shall leave, but I stay just the same--as
long as I please!

        [_She goes out_.

STUDENT. Why has Bengtsson got a medal?

YOUNG LADY. On account of his great merits.

STUDENT. Has he no faults?

YOUNG LADY. Yes, great ones, but faults bring you no medals, you know.

        [_Both smile_.

STUDENT. You have a lot of secrets in this house....

YOUNG LADY. As in all houses.... Permit us to keep ours! [_Pause_.

STUDENT. Do you care for frankness?

YOUNG LADY. Within reason.

STUDENT. At times I am seized with a passionate craving to say all
I think.... Yet I know that the world would go to pieces if perfect
frankness were the rule. [_Pause_ I attended a funeral the other
day--in one of the churches--and it was very solemn and beautiful.

YOUNG LADY. That of Mr. Hummel?

STUDENT. Yes, that of my pretended benefactor. An elderly friend of the
deceased acted as mace-bearer and stood at the head of the coffin. I
was particularly impressed by the dignified manner and moving words of
the minister. I had to cry--everybody cried.... A number of us went to
a restaurant afterward, and there I learned that the man with the mace
had been rather too friendly with the dead man's son....

        _The_ YOUNG LADY _stares at him, trying to make out the meaning
        of his words_.

STUDENT. I learned, too, that the dead man had borrowed money of his
son's devoted friend.... [_Pause_] And the next day the minister was
arrested for embezzling the church funds.--Nice, isn't it?

YOUNG LADY. Oh! [_Pause_.

STUDENT. Do you know what I am thinking of you now?

YOUNG LADY. Don't tell, or I'll die!

STUDENT. I must, lest _I_ die!

YOUNG LADY. It is only in the asylum you say all that you think....

STUDENT. Exactly! My father died in a madhouse....

YOUNG LADY. Was he sick?

STUDENT. No, perfectly well, and yet mad. It broke out at last, and
these were the circumstances. Like all of us, he was surrounded by
a circle of acquaintances whom he called friends for the sake of
convenience, and they were a lot of scoundrels, of course, as most
people are. He had to have some society, however, as he couldn't sit
all alone. As you know, no one tells people what he thinks of them
under ordinary circumstances, and my father didn't do so either.
He knew that they were false, and he knew the full extent of their
perfidy, but, being a wise man and well brought up, he remained
always polite. One day he gave a big party.... It was in the evening,
naturally, and he was tired out by a hard day's work. Then the strain
of keeping his thoughts to himself while talking a lot of damned rot
to his guests.... [_The_ YOUNG LADY _is visibly shocked_] Well, while
they were still at the table, he rapped for silence, raised his glass,
and began to speak.... Then something loosed the trigger, and in a long
speech he stripped the whole company naked, one by one, telling them
all he knew about their treacheries. At last, when utterly tired out,
he sat down on the table itself and told them all to go to hell!

YOUNG LADY. Oh!

STUDENT. I was present, and I shall never forget what happened after
that. My parents had a fight, the guests rushed for the doors--and
my father was taken to a madhouse, where he died! [_Pause_] To keep
silent too long is like letting water stagnate so that it rots. That is
what has happened in this house. There is something rotten here. And
yet I thought it paradise itself when I saw you enter here the first
time.... It was a Sunday morning, and I stood gazing into these rooms.
Here I saw a Colonel who was no colonel. I had a generous benefactor
who was a robber and had to hang himself. I saw a Mummy who was not a
mummy, and a maiden--how about the maidenhood, by the by?... Where is
beauty to be found? In nature, and in my own mind when it has donned
its Sunday clothes. Where do we find honour and faith? In fairy-tales
and childish fancies. Where can I find anything that keeps its promise?
Only in my own imagination!... Your flowers have poisoned me and now
I am squirting their poison back at you.... I asked you to become my
wife in a home full of poetry, and song, and music; and then the
Cook appeared.... _Sursum corda!_ Try once more to strike fire and
purple out of the golden harp.... Try, I ask you, I implore you on my
knees.... [_As she does not move_] Then I must do it myself! [_He picks
up the harp, but is unable to make its strings sound_] It has grown
deaf and dumb! Only think that the most beautiful flower of all can
be so poisonous--that it can be more poisonous than any other one....
There must be a curse on all creation and on life itself.... Why did
you not want to become my bride? Because the very well-spring of life
within you has been sickened.... Now I can feel how that vampire in
the kitchen is sucking my life juices.... She must be a Lamia, one of
those that suck the blood of children. It is always in the servants'
quarters that the seed-leaves of the children are nipped, if it has
not already happened in the bedroom.... There are poisons that blind
you, and others that open your eyes more widely. I must have been born
with that second kind of poison, I fear, for I cannot regard what is
ugly as beautiful, or call evil good--I cannot! They say that Jesus
Christ descended into hell. It refers merely to his wanderings on this
earth--his descent into that madhouse, that jail, that morgue, the
earth. The madmen killed him when he wished to liberate them, but the
robber was set free. It is always the robber who gets sympathy! Woe!
Woe is all of us! Saviour of the World, save us--we are perishing!

        _Toward the end of the_ STUDENT'S _speech, the_ YOUNG LADY
        _has drooped more and more. She seems to be dying. At last she
        manages to reach a bell and rings for_ BENGTSSON, _who enters
        shortly afterward_.

YOUNG LADY. Bring the screen! Quick! I am dying!

        BENGTSSON _fetches the screen, opens it and places it so that
        the_ YOUNG LADY _is completely hidden behind_.

STUDENT. The liberator is approaching! Be welcome, thou pale and gentle
one!--Sleep, you beauteous, unhappy and innocent creature, who have
done nothing to deserve your own sufferings! Sleep without dreaming,
and when you wake again--may you be greeted by a sun that does not
burn, by a home without dust, by friends without stain, by a love
without flaw! Thou wise and gentle Buddha, who sitst waiting there to
see a heaven sprout from this earth, endow us with patience in the hour
of trial, and with purity of will, so that thy hope be not put to shame!

        _The strings of the harp begin to hum softly, and a white light
        pours into the room_.

STUDENT. [_Singing_]

    "Seeing the sun, it seemed to my fancy
    That I beheld the Spirit that's hidden.
    Man must for ever reap what he planted:
    Happy is he who has done no evil.
    Wrong that was wrought in moments of anger
    Never by added wrong can be righted.
    Kindness shown to the man whose sorrow
    Sprang from your deed, will serve you better.
    Fear and guilt have their home together:
    Happy indeed is the guiltless man!"[1]

        _A faint moaning sound is heard from behind the screen_.

STUDENT. You poor little child--you child of a world of illusion,
guilt, suffering, and death--a world of eternal change,
disappointment, and pain--may the Lord of Heaven deal mercifully with
you on your journey!

        _The whole room disappears, and in its place appears Boecklin's
        "The Island of Death" Soft music, very quiet and pleasantly
        wistful, is heard from without_.

_Curtain_.


[1] The lines recited by the _STUDENT_ are a paraphrase of several
passages from "The Song of the Sun" in the Poetic Edda. It is
characteristic of Strindberg's attitude during his final period that
this Eddic poem, which apparently has occupied his mind great deal, as
he has used it a number of times in "The Bridal Crown" also, is the
only one of that ancient collection which is unmistakably Christian
in its colouring. It has a certain apocryphal reputation and is not
regarded on a par with the other contents of the Poetic Edda.



THE FIRST WARNING

(FÖRSTA VARNINGEN)

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

1893


CHARACTERS

    _The_ HUSBAND, _thirty-seven (Axel Brunner)_
    _The_ WIFE, _thirty-six (Olga Brunner)_
    ROSE, _fifteen_
    _The_ BARONESS, _her mother, forty-seven_
    _A_ MAID


_The scene is laid in Germany, about_ 1890.


        _A German dining-room, with a rectangular dinner-table
        occupying the middle of the floor. A huge wardrobe stands at
        the right. There is an oven of glazed bricks_.

        _The door in the background stands open, disclosing a landscape
        with vineyards, above which appears a church spire_.

        _At the left is a door papered like the rest of the wait. A
        travelling-bag is placed on a chair by the wardrobe_.

        _The_ WIFE _is writing at the table, on which lie a bunch of
        flowers and a pair of gloves_.


HUSBAND. [_Entering_] Good morning--although it's noon already. Did you
sleep well?

WIFE. Splendidly, considering the circumstances.

HUSBAND. Yes, we might have broken away a little earlier from that
party last night....

WIFE. I seem to remember that you made the same remark a number of
times during the night....

HUSBAND. [_Playing with the flowers_] Do you really remember that much?

WIFE. I remember also that you got mad because I sang too much....
Please don't spoil my flowers!

HUSBAND. Which previously belonged to the Captain, I suppose?

WIFE. Yes, and which probably belonged to the gardener before the
florist got them. But now they are mine.

HUSBAND. [_Throwing away the flowers_] It's a nice habit they have in
this place--of sending flowers to other people's wives.

WIFE. I think it would have been well for you to go to bed a little
earlier.

HUSBAND. I am perfectly convinced that the Captain was of the same
opinion. But as my one choice was to stay and be made ridiculous, or go
home alone and be made equally ridiculous, I preferred to stay....

WIFE. ... And make yourself ridiculous.

HUSBAND. Can you explain why you care to be the wife of a ridiculous
man? I should never care to be the husband of a ridiculous woman.

WIFE. You are to be pitied!

HUSBAND. Right you are. Frequently I have thought so myself. But do you
know what is the most tragical feature of my ridiculousness?

WIFE. I am sure your own answer will be much cleverer than any one I
could give.

HUSBAND. It is--that I am in love with my wife after fifteen years of
marriage....

WIFE. Fifteen years! Have you begun to use a pedometer?

HUSBAND. For the measurement of my thorny path, you mean? No. But you,
who are dancing on roses, might do well in counting your steps To me
you are still as young as ever--unfortunately--while my own hair is
turning grey. But as we are of the same age, my looks should tell you
that you must be growing old yourself....

WIFE. And that is what you are waiting for?

HUSBAND. Exactly. How many times have I not wished that you were old
and ugly, that you were pock-marked, that your teeth were gone, just to
have you to myself and be rid of this worry which never leaves me!

WIFE. How charming! And once you had me old and ugly, then everything
would be so very peaceful until you began to worry about somebody
else, and I was left to enjoy all that peace alone, by myself.

HUSBAND. No!

WIFE. Yes! It has been well proved that your love loses its fervour the
moment you have no reason to be jealous. Do you remember last summer,
when there was not a soul on that island but we two? You were away all
day, fishing, hunting, getting up an appetite, putting on flesh--and
developing a self-assurance that was almost insulting.

HUSBAND. And yet I recall being jealous--of the hired man.

WIFE. Merciful Heavens!

HUSBAND. Yes, I noticed that you couldn't give him an order without
making conversation; that you couldn't send him out to cut some wood
without first having inquired about the state of his health, his future
prospects, and his love-affairs.... You are blushing, I think?

WIFE. Because I am ashamed of you....

HUSBAND ... Who....

WIFE. ... Have no sense of shame whatever.

HUSBAND. Yes, so you say. But will you please tell me why you hate me?

WIFE. I don't hate you. I simply despise you! Why? Probably for the
same reason that makes me despise all men as soon as they--what do you
call it?--are in love with me. I am like that, and I can't tell why.

HUSBAND. So I have observed, and my warmest wish has been that I might
hate you, so that you might love me. Woe is the man who loves his own
wife!

WIFE. Yes, you are to be pitied, and so am I, but what can be done?

HUSBAND. Nothing. We have roved and roamed for seven years, hoping that
some circumstance, some chance, might bring about a change. I have
tried to fall in love with others, and have failed. In the meantime
your eternal contempt and my own continued ridiculousness have stripped
me of all courage, all faith in myself, all power to act. Six times I
have run away from you--and now I shall make my seventh attempt. [_He
rises and picks up the travelling-bag_.

WIFE. So those little trips of yours were attempts to run away?

HUSBAND. Futile attempts! The last time I got as far as Genoa. I went
to the galleries, but saw no pictures--only you. I went to the opera,
but heard nobody--only your voice back of every note. I went to a
Pompeian café, and the one woman that pleased me looked like you--or
seemed to do so later.

WIFE. [_Revolted_] You have visited places of that kind?

HUSBAND. Yes, that far have I been carried by my love--and by my
virtue, which has embarrassed me by making me ridiculous.

WIFE. That's the end of everything between us two!

HUSBAND. So I suppose, as I can't make you jealous.

WIFE. No, I don't know what it is to be jealous--not even of Rose, who
loves you to distraction.

HUSBAND. How ungrateful of me not to notice it! On the other hand, I
have had my suspicions of the old Baroness, who is all the time finding
excuses for visiting that big wardrobe over there. But as she is our
landlady, and the furniture belongs to her, I may be mistaken as to
the motive that makes our rooms so attractive to her.... Now I'll get
dressed, and in half an hour I shall be gone--without any farewells, if
you please!

WIFE. You seem rather afraid of farewells.

HUSBAND. Particularly when you are concerned in them!

        _He goes out. The_ WIFE _remains alone a few moments. Then_
        ROSE _enters. She is carelessly dressed, and her hair is down.
        A scarf wrapped about her head and covering her cheeks and chin
        indicates toothache. There is a hole on the left sleeve of her
        dress, which ends half-way between her knees and her ankles_.

WIFE. Well, Rose!--What's the matter, child?

ROSE. Good morning, Mrs. Brunner. I have such a toothache that I wish I
were dead!

WIFE. Poor little thing!

ROSE. To-morrow is the Corpus Christi festival, and I was to walk in
the procession--and to-day I should be binding my wreath of roses, and
Mr. Axel has promised to help me with it.... Oh, those teeth!

WIFE. Let me see if there are any signs of decay--open your mouth
now!--What wonderful teeth you have! Perfect pearls, my dear child!
[_She kisses_ ROSE _on the mouth_.

ROSE. [_Annoyed_] You mustn't kiss me, Mrs. Olga! You mustn't! I don't
want it! [_She climbs up on the table and puts her feet on one of the
chairs_ ] Really, I don't know what I want! I should have liked to
go to that party yesterday--but I was forced to stay at home all by
myself in order to get my lessons done--just as if I were nothing but
a child--and then I have to sit on the same bench with those kids!
But all the same I won't let the Captain chuck me under the chin any
longer, for I am no child! No, I am not! And if my mother tries to pull
my hair again--I don't know what I'll do to her!

WIFE. What's the matter, my dear Rose? What has happened, anyhow?

ROSE. I don't know what is the matter, but I have shooting pains in
my head and in my teeth, and I feel as if I had a red-hot iron in my
back--and I am disgusted with life. I should like to drown myself. I
should like to run away, and go from one fair to another, and sing,
and be insulted by all sorts of impudent fellows....

WIFE. Listen, Rose! Listen to me now!

ROSE. I wish I had a baby! Oh, I wish it were not such an awful
shame to have a baby! Oh, Mrs. Olga [_She catches sight of the
travelling-bag_] Who is going away?

WIFE. My ... my husband.

ROSE. Then you have been nasty to him again, Mrs. Olga.--Where is he
going? Is he going far away? When will he be back?

WIFE. I--_I_ know nothing at all!

ROSE. Oh, you don't? Haven't you asked him even? [_She begins to
ransack the bag_] But I--_I_ can see that he is going far away, because
here is his passport. Very far, I am sure! How far, do you think?--Oh,
Mrs. Olga, why can't you be nice to him, when he is so kind to you?

        [_She throws herself weeping into the arms of Mrs. Brunner_.

WIFE. Now, now, my dear child! Poor little girl--is she crying? Poor,
innocent heart!

ROSE. I like Mr. Axel so much!

WIFE. And you are not ashamed of saying so to his own wife? And you
want me to console you--you, who are my little rival?--Well, have a
good cry, my dear child. That helps a whole lot.

ROSE. [_Tearing herself away_] No! If I don't want to cry, I don't have
to! And if it suits me to pick up what you are throwing away, I'll do
so!--I don't ask any one's permission to like anybody or anything!

WIFE. Well, well, well! But are you so sure that he likes you?

ROSE. [_Throwing herself into the elder woman's arms again, weeping_]
No, I am not.

WIFE. [_Tenderly, as if talking to a baby_] And now perhaps you want
me to ask Mr. Axel to like you? Is that what Mrs. Olga has to do?

ROSE. [_Weeping_] Ye-es!--And he mustn't go away! He mustn't!--Please
be nice to him, Mrs. Olga! Then he won't go away.

WIFE. What in the world am I going to do, you little silly?

ROSE. I don't know. But you might let him kiss you as much as he
wishes.... I was watching you in the garden the other day, when he
wanted, and you didn't--and then I thought....

BARONESS. [_Entering_] Sorry to disturb you, madam, but with your
permission I should like to get into the wardrobe.

WIFE. [_Rising_] You're perfectly welcome, Baroness.

BARONESS. Oh, there is Rose.--So you are up again, and I thought you
were in bed!--Go back to your lessons at once.

ROSE. But you know, mamma, we have no school to-morrow because of the
festival.

BARONESS. You had better go anyhow, and don't bother Mr. and Mrs.
Brunner all the time.

WIFE. [_Edging toward the door in the background_] Oh, Rose is not
bothering us at all. We couldn't be better friends than we are.... We
were just going into the garden to pick some flowers, and then we meant
to try on the white dress Rose is to wear to-morrow.

ROSE. [_Disappears through the door in the background with a nod of
secret understanding to the_ WIFE] Thank you!

BARONESS. You are spoiling Rose fearfully.

WIFE. A little kindness won't spoil anybody, and least of all a girl
like Rose, who has a remarkable heart and a head to match it.

        _The_ BARONESS _is digging around in the wardrobe for
        something. The_ WIFE _stands in the doorway in the rear.
        Entering by the door at the left with a number of packages,
        the_ HUSBAND _exchanges a glance of mutual understanding with
        his wife. Then hath watch the_ BARONESS _smilingly for a
        moment. At last the_ WIFE _goes out, and the_ HUSBAND _begins
        to put his packages into the travelling-bag_.

BARONESS. Pardon me for disturbing you.... I'll be through in a
moment....

HUSBAND. Please don't mind me, Baroness.

BARONESS. [_Emerging from the wardrobe_] Are you going away again, Mr.
Brunner?

HUSBAND. I am.

BARONESS. Far?

HUSBAND. Perhaps--and perhaps not.

BARONESS. Don't you know?

HUSBAND. I never know anything about my own fate after having placed it
in the hands of another person.

BARONESS. Will you pardon me a momentary impertinence, Mr. Brunner?

HUSBAND. That depends.... You are very friendly with my wife, are you
not?

BARONESS. As friendly as two women can be with each other. But my
age, my experience of life, my temperament.... [_She checks herself
abruptly_] However--I have seen that you are unhappy, and as I have
suffered in the same way myself, I know that nothing but time will cure
your disease.

HUSBAND. Is it really I who am diseased? Is not my behaviour quite
normal? And is not my suffering caused by seeing other people behave
abnormally or--pathologically?

BARONESS. I was married to a man whom I loved.... Yes, you smile! You
think a woman cannot love because.... But I did love him, and he loved
me, and yet--he loved others, too. I suffered from jealousy so that--so
that--I made myself insufferable. He went into the war--being an
officer, you know--and he has never returned. I was told that he had
been killed, but his body was never found, and now I imagine that he
is alive and bound to another woman.--Think of it! I am still jealous
of my dead husband. At night I see him in my dreams together with that
other woman.... Have you ever known torments like that, Mr. Brunner?

HUSBAND. You may be sure I have!--But what makes you think that he is
still alive?

        [_He begins to arrange his things in the travelling-bag_.

BARONESS. A number of circumstances combined to arouse my suspicions at
one time, but for years nothing happened to revive them. Then you came
here four months ago, and, as a strange fate would have it, I noticed
at once a strong resemblance between you and my husband. It served me
as a reminder. And as my dreams took on flesh and blood, so to speak,
my old suspicions turned into certainty, and now I really believe that
he is alive? I am in a constant torment of jealousy--and that has
enabled me to understand you.

HUSBAND. [_Becoming attentive, after having listened for a while with
apparent indifference_] You say that I resemble your husband.--Won't
you be seated, Baroness?

BARONESS. [_Sits down at the table with her back to the public; the_
HUSBAND _takes a chair beside her_] He looked like you, and--barring
certain weaknesses--his character also....

HUSBAND. He was about ten years older than I.... And he had a scar on
his right cheek that looked as if it had been made by a needle....

BARONESS. That's right!

HUSBAND. Then I met your husband one night in London.

BARONESS. Is he alive?

HUSBAND. I have to figure it out--for the moment I can't tell.... Let's
see! That was five years ago--in London, as I told you. I had been to
a party--men and women--and the atmosphere had been rather depressed.
On leaving the place, I joined the first man who gave me a chance to
unburden myself. We were _en rapport_ at once, and our chat developed
into one of those endless sidewalk conversations, during which he let
me have his entire history--having first found out that I came from his
own district.

BARONESS. Then he is alive?...

HUSBAND. He was not killed in the war--that much is certain--because
he was taken prisoner. Then he fell in love with the mayor's daughter,
ran away with her to England, was deserted by his fair lady, and began
to gamble--with constant bad luck. When we separated in the morning
hours, he gave me the impression of being doomed. He made me promise
that if chance should ever put you in my way after a year had gone by,
and provided that he had not in the meantime communicated with me by
advertisement in a newspaper I am always reading, I was to consider
him dead. And when I met you, I was to kiss you on the hand, and your
daughter on the brow, saying on his behalf: "Forgive!"

        _As he kisses the hand of the_ BARONESS, ROSE _appears on the
        veranda, outside the open door, and watches them with evident
        excitement_.

BARONESS. [_Agitated_] Then he is dead?

HUSBAND. Yes, and I should have given you his message a little more
promptly, if I had not long ago forgotten the man's name as well as
the man himself. [_The_ BARONESS _is pulling at her handkerchief,
apparently unable to decide what to say or do_] Do you feel better now?

BARONESS. Yes, in a way, but all hope is gone, too.

HUSBAND. The hope of suffering those sweet torments again....

BARONESS. Besides my girl, I had nothing to interest me but my
anxiety.... How strange it is that even suffering can be missed!

HUSBAND. You'll have to pardon me, but I do think that you miss your
jealousy more than your lost husband.

BARONESS. Perhaps--because my jealousy was the invisible tie connecting
me with that image of my dreams.... And now, when I have nothing left
[_She takes hold of his hand_] You, who have brought me his last
message--you, who are a living reminder of him, and who have suffered
like me....

HUSBAND. [_Becomes restless, rises and looks at his watch_] Pardon me,
but I have to take the next train--really, I must!

BARONESS. I was going to ask you not to do so. Why should you go? Don't
you feel at home here?

        ROSE _disappears from the veranda_.

HUSBAND. Your house has brought me some of the best hours I have
experienced during these stormy years, and I leave you with the
greatest regret--but I must Baroness. On account of what happened last
night?

HUSBAND. Not that alone--it was merely the last straw.... And now I
must pack, if you'll pardon me.

        [_He turns his attention to the travelling-bag again_.

BARONESS. If your decision is irrevocable.... won't you let me help
you, as no one else is doing so?

HUSBAND. I thank you ever so much, my dear Baroness, but I am almost
done.... And I shall ask you to make our leave-taking less painful by
making it short.... In the midst of all trouble, your tender cares have
been a sweet consolation to me, and I find it almost as painful to
part from you as_--[The_ BARONESS _looks deeply moved_]--from a good
mother. I have read compassion in your glances, even when discretion
compelled you to remain silent, and I have thought at times that your
presence tended to improve my domestic happiness--as your age permitted
you to say things that a younger woman would not like to hear from one
of her own generation....

BARONESS. [_With some hesitation_] You must forgive me for saying that
your wife is no longer young....

HUSBAND. In my eyes she is.

BARONESS. But not in the eyes of the world.

HUSBAND. So much the better, although, on the other hand, I find her
coquetry the more disgusting the less her attractions correspond to her
pretensions--and if a moment comes when they begin to laugh at her....

BARONESS. They are doing so already.

HUSBAND. Really? Poor Olga! [_He looks thoughtful; then, as a single
stroke of a bell is heard from the church tower outside, he pulls
himself together_] The clock struck. I must leave in half an hour.

BARONESS. But you cannot leave without your breakfast.

HUSBAND. I am not hungry. As always, when starting on a journey, I am
so excited that my nerves tremble like telephone wires in very cold
weather....

BARONESS. Then I'll make you a cup of coffee. You'll let me do that,
won't you? And I'll send up the maid to help you pack.

HUSBAND. Your kindness is so great, Baroness, that I fear being tempted
into weaknesses that I should have to regret later on.

BARONESS. You would never regret following my advice--if you only
would! [_She goes out_.

        _The_ HUSBAND _remains alone for a few moments. Then_ ROSE
        _enters from the rear_ with a basketful of roses.

HUSBAND. Good morning, Miss Rose. What's the matter?

ROSE. Why?

HUSBAND. Why.... Because you have your head wrapped up like that.

ROSE. [_Tearing off the scarf and hiding it within her dress_] There is
nothing the matter with me. I am perfectly well. Are you going away?

HUSBAND. Yes, I am.

        _The_ MAID _enters_.

ROSE. What do you want?

MAID. The Baroness said I should help Mr. Brunner to pack.

ROSE. It isn't necessary. You can go!

        _The_ MAID _hesitates_.

ROSE. Go, I tell you!

        _The_ MAID _goes out_.

HUSBAND. Isn't that rather impolite to me, Miss Rose?

ROSE. No, it is not. I wanted to help you myself. But you are impolite
when you run away from your promise to help me with the flowers for
to-morrow's festival. Not that I care a bit--as I am not going to the
festival to-morrow, because--I don't know where I may be to-morrow.

HUSBAND. What does that mean?

ROSE. Can't I help you with something, Mr. Axel? Won't you let me brush
your hat?

        [_She picks up his hat and begins to brush it_.

HUSBAND. No, I can't let you do that, Miss Rose.

        [_He tries to take the hat away from her_.

ROSE. Let me alone! [_She puts her fingers into the hole on her sleeve
and tears it open_] There, now! You tore my dress!

HUSBAND. You are so peculiar to-day, Miss Rose, and I think your
restiveness is troubling your mother.

ROSE. Well, what do I care? I am glad if it troubles her, although I
suppose that will hurt _you_. But I don't care any more for you than
I care for the cat in the kitchen or the rats in the cellar. And if I
were your wife, I should despise you, and go so far away that you could
never find me again!--You should be ashamed of kissing another woman!
Shame on you!

HUSBAND. Oh, you saw me kissing your mother's hand, did you? Then
I must tell you that it was nothing but a final greeting from your
father, whom I met abroad after you had seen him for the last time. And
I have a greeting for you, too....

        _He goes to_ ROSE _and puts his hands about her head in order
        to kiss her brow, but_ ROSE _throws her head back so that
        her lips meet his. At that moment the_ WIFE _appears on the
        veranda, shrinks back at what she sees and disappears again_.

HUSBAND. My dear child, I meant only to give you an innocent kiss on
the brow.

ROSE. Innocent? Ha-ha! Yes, very innocent!--And you believe those
fairy-tales mother tells about father, who died several years ago! That
was a man, I tell you, who knew how to love, and who dared to make
love! He didn't tremble at the thought of a kiss, and he didn't wait
until he was asked! If you won't believe me, come with me into the
attic, and I'll let you read the letters he wrote to his mistresses....
Come! [_She opens the papered door, so that the stairs leading to the
attic become visible_] Ha-ha-ha! You're afraid that I am going to
seduce you, and you look awfully surprised ... surprised because a
girl like me, who has been a woman for three years, knows that there
is nothing innocent about love! Do you imagine that I think children
are born through the ear? Now I can see that you despise me, but you
shouldn't do that, for I am neither worse nor better than anybody
else.... I am like this!

HUSBAND. Go and change your dress before your mother comes, Miss Rose.

ROSE. Do you think I have such ugly arms? Or don't you dare to look at
them?--Now I think I know why why your wife why you are so jealous of
your wife!

HUSBAND. Well, if that isn't the limit!

ROSE. Look at him blush! On my behalf, or on your own? Do you know how
many times I have been in love?

HUSBAND. Never!

ROSE. Never with a bashful fellow like you!--Tell me, does that make
you despise me again?

HUSBAND. A little!--Take care of your heart, and don't put it where the
birds can pick at it, and where it gets--dirty. You call yourself a
woman, but you are a very young woman--a girl, in other words....

ROSE. And for that reason just for that reason.... But I can become a
woman....

HUSBAND. Until you have--I think we had better postpone conversations
of this kind. Shake hands on that, Miss Rose!

ROSE. [_With tears of anger_] Never! Never! Oh, you!

HUSBAND. Are we not going to part as friends--we who have had so many
pleasant days together during the gloomy winter and the slow spring?

WIFE. [_Enters, carrying a tray with the coffee things on it; she seems
embarrassed and pretends not to notice_ ROSE] I thought you might have
time to drink a nice cup of coffee before you leave. [ROSE _tries to
take the tray away from her_] No, my little girl, I can attend to this
myself.

HUSBAND. [_Watching his wife in a questioning and somewhat ironic
manner_] That was an excellent idea of yours....

WIFE. [_Evading his glance_] I am glad ... that....

ROSE. Perhaps I had better say good-bye now--to Mr. Brunner....

HUSBAND. So you mean to desert me now, Miss Rose....

ROSE. I suppose I must ... because ... your wife is angry with me.

WIFE. I? Why in the world....

ROSE. You promised to try on my dress....

WIFE. Not at this time, child. You can see that I have other things to
do now. Or perhaps you wish to keep my husband company while I get the
dress ready?

HUSBAND. Olga!

WIFE. What is it?

        ROSE _puts her fingers into her mouth, looking at once
        embarrassed and angry_.

WIFE. You had better dress decently, my dear young lady, if you are to
go with us to the train.

        ROSE _remains as before_.

WIFE. And suppose you take your flowers with you, if there is to be any
demonstration....

HUSBAND. That's cruel, Olga!

ROSE. [_Dropping a curtsey_] Good-bye, Mr. Brunner.

HUSBAND. [_Shaking hands with her_] Good-bye, Miss Rose. I hope you
will be happy, and that you will be a big girl soon-a very big girl.

ROSE. [_Picking up her flowers_] Good-bye, Mrs. Brunner. [_As she gets
no answer_] Good-bye! [_She runs out_.

        HUSBAND _and_ WIFE _look equally embarrassed; she tries to
        avoid looking him in the face_.

WIFE. Can I be of any help?

HUSBAND. No, thank you, I am practically done.

WIFE. And there are so many others to help you.

HUSBAND. Let me have a look at you!

        [_He tries to take hold of her head_.

WIFE. [_Escaping him_] No, leave me alone.

HUSBAND. What is it?

WIFE. Perhaps you think that I am--that I am jealous?

HUSBAND. I think so when you say it, but I could never have believed it
before.

WIFE. Of a schoolgirl like that--ugh!

HUSBAND. The character of the object seems immaterial in cases of this
kind. I felt jealous of a hired man You saw, then, that....

WIFE. That you kissed her!

HUSBAND. No, it was she who kissed me.

WIFE. How shameless! But minxes like her are regular apes!

HUSBAND. Yes, they take after the grown-up people.

WIFE. You seem to be pleased by her attentions anyhow.

HUSBAND. Little used as I am to such attentions....

WIFE. On the part of young ladies, perhaps--but you seem less timid
with the old ones....

HUSBAND. You saw that, too, did you?

WIFE. No, but Rose told me. Apparently you are quite a lady-killer.

HUSBAND. So it seems. It's too bad that I can't profit by it.

WIFE. You'll soon be free to choose a younger and prettier wife.

HUSBAND. I am not aware of any such freedom.

WIFE. Now when I am old and ugly!

HUSBAND. I can't make out what has happened. Let me have another look
at you. [_He comes close to her_.

WIFE. [_Hiding her face at his bosom_] You mustn't look at me!

HUSBAND. What in the world does this mean? You are not jealous of a
little schoolgirl or an old widow....

WIFE. I have broken--one of my front teeth. Please don't look at me!

HUSBAND. Oh, you child!--With pain comes the first tooth, and with pain
the first one goes.

WIFE. And now you'll leave me, of course?

HUSBAND. Not on your life! [_Closing the bag with a snap_] To-morrow
we'll start for Augsburg to get you a new tooth of gold.

WIFE. But we'll never come back here.

HUSBAND. Not if you say so.

WIFE. And now your fears are gone?

HUSBAND. Yes--for another week.

BARONESS. [_Enters carrying a tray; looks very embarrassed at seeing
them together_] Excuse me, but I thought....

HUSBAND. Thank you, Baroness, I have had coffee already, but for your
sake I'll have another cup. And if you--[ROSE, _dressed in white,
appears in the doorway at that moment_] and Miss Rose care to keep us
company, we have no objection. On the contrary, nothing could please
us better, as my wife and I are leaving on the first train to-morrow
morning.

_Curtain_.



GUSTAVUS VASA

(GUSTAF VASA)

HISTORIC DRAMA IN FIVE ACTS

1899


CHARACTERS


    GUSTAVUS I, _King of Sweden_
    MARGARET LEIJONHUFVUD (_Lion-Head_), _his second Queen_
    PRINCE ERIC, _the only son of the King's first marriage_
    PRINCE JOHAN, _eldest son of the King's second marriage_
    EBBA CARLSDAUGHTER, _a nun at the convent of Vreta and
       mother-in-law of the King_
    MASTER OLAVUS PETRI, _commonly known as Master Olof_
    CHRISTINE, _his wife_
    REGINALD, _their son_
    HERMAN ISRAEL, a _councillor of the free city of Luebeck_
    JACOB ISRAEL, _his son_
    MONS NILSSON OF ASPEBODA     }
    ANDERS PERSSON OF RANKHYTTAN } _free miners of Dalecarlia_
    INGHEL HANSSON               }
    NILS OF SÖDERBY              }
    JORGHEN PERSSON, _secretary to_ PRINCE ERIC
    MASTER STIG, _pastor at Copperberg (Falun), Dalecarlia_
    MONS NILSSON'S WIFE
    BARBRO, _his daughter_
    AGDA, a _barmaid_
    KARIN MONSDAUGHTER, a _flower girl_
    MARCUS }
    DAVID  } _Hanseatic clerks_
    ENGELBRECHT, a _free miner who was one of the Dalecarlian
    ski-runners that overtook_ GUSTAVUS VASA _on his flight to
    Norway and brought him back to head the Dalecarlian revolt
    against King Christian II of Denmark_
    CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD
    A COURTIER
    A MESSENGER
    TWO BEGGARS


SCENARIO

    ACT   I.           THE HOUSE OF MONS NILSSON AT COPPERBERG
    ACT  II. SCENE  I. THE HANSEATIC OFFICE AT STOCKHOLM
             SCENE II. THE BLUE DOVE INN
    ACT III.           THE KING'S STUDY
    ACT  IV. SCENE  I. SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE HANSEATIC OFFICE
             SCENE II. THE STUDY OF MASTER OLAVUS
    ACT   V.           THE GARDEN TERRACE IN FRONT OF THE ROYAL PALACE
                         AT STOCKHOLM


ACT I


        _The main living-room in_ MONS NILSSON'S _house at Copperberg
        (which is the old name of the present city of Falun in
        Dalecarlia)._

        _There is a door in the rear, with a window on either side,
        through which are visible small city houses with snow-covered
        roofs and the flames belching from many blast-furnaces. A large
        open fireplace with mantelpiece occupies the center of the
        right wall. A fine log fire is going in the fireplace. On the
        same side, nearer the footlights, is a door_.

        _A long tablefills the middle of the floor. At its farther
        end stands an armchair with cushions on the seat and bright
        textiles draped over the back and the arm supports. Wooden
        benches run along the two long sides of the table_.

        _Wooden seats are placed along the left wall_.

        _Above the wainscotting of the walls appear large, simple
        frescoes depicting the adventures of_ GUSTAVUS VASA _in
        Dalecarlia (at the beginning of the war of liberation). The one
        at the left of the rear door shows him at the home of Master
        John at Svärdsjö; the one at the right pictures him threshing
        in the barn of_ ANDERS PERSSON OF RANKHYTTAN _(while Danish
        soldiers are searching the place for him)_.

        _The ringing of a church-bell is heard from the outside as the
        curtain rises_.

        MONS NILSSON _is seated at the table, writing. His_ WIFE _is
        arranging tankards and beakers of silver on the mantelshelf_.


MONS. That's four o'clock, is it not?

WIFE. Of course.

MONS. Sounds like fire.

WIFE. Is that any special sound?

MONS. Yes, it sounds like "help-help, help-help!"

WIFE. That's the way it has sounded ever since the King carried off our
bells, it seems to me.

MONS. Be quiet! And don't talk behind anybody's back. The King will
soon be here himself.

WIFE. Has the King sent word of his visit, as you have put everything
in order to receive him?

MONS. Not exactly, but when he sends word that he is coming to
Copperberg, it is not to be expected that he will pass by his friend
Mons Nilsson, who helped him in the days of trial, and who has stood by
him both against Master Knut and Peder the Chancellor, not to speak of
the False Sture.[1] And he acted as godfather for my girl besides.

WIFE. That was a good while ago; but when the King's bailiff came here
to get the bells two years ago, you helped to kill him.

MONS. That was two years ago, and I guess he was set on having our
heads at that time. But just then King Christian broke into the country
from Norway. Our own King turned meek as a lamb at once, and when he
asked us for help, we Dalecarlians stood by him like one man, and gave
him all the help he wanted. So I think we can call it even.

WIFE. So _you_ think, but the King never calls it even except when it
is to his own advantage.

MONS. Perhaps not. But as long as Christian still is free, he will not
dare to break with us.

WIFE. Well, is Christian still free?

MONS. I have heard nothing to the contrary. Anyhow, the King owes us
such a lot of money that, leaving old friendship aside....

WIFE. God bless you! And I hope He will protect you from the friend
that is always breaking his word and safe-conduct!

MONS. Don't open the old wounds, but let bygones be bygones.

WIFE. If you do that, and he won't, you can hardly call it a
reconciliation. Take care!

MONS. The sound of that bell is really dreadful!

WIFE. So it is to my ears, because it always reminds me of the big
Mary, which the bailiff took away. Do you remember when the Mary was
cast out of the best refined copper and the whole town brought milk and
cream to give the clay of the form more firmness--and then, when the
melt was ready, we threw in one-half of our table silver to improve the
tone? It was baptised at Candlemas and rung for the first time at the
burial of my father.... And then it went to Herman Israel at Luebeck,
who made coin out of it.

MONS. All that is perfectly true, but now it _must_ be forgotten--or we
shall never have peace.

BARBRO, _their daughter, enters with a basket full of finely chopped
spruce branches; she is dressed in black and white, and so are several
younger children who follow her, also carrying baskets. All of them
begin to spread the chopped spruce over the floor_.

WIFE. [_To_ MONS] Is there to be a funeral?

MONS. No, but not being the season, we couldn't get any leaves.

WIFE. I think the children might put off their mourning at least.

MONS. No, that's just what they should not do, because when the King
asks whom they are mourning--well, what are you to answer, Barbro?

BARBRO. "We mourn our beloved teacher, Pastor John at Svärdsjö."

MONS. And what are you to say, if the King asks you why?

BARBRO. "Because he was an early friend of King Gustavus and saved his
precious life for our country."

MONS. What year was that?

BARBRO. "The very year when Christian the Tyrant cut the head off the
Swedish nobility."[2]

MONS. That's right, children. And over there you see the picture of
Master John when he is holding the towel for the outlaw who has been
threshing in the barn. [_To his_ WIFE] On the other hand, it is not
necessary to tell the children that the King took his friend's head two
years ago.

WIFE. Have you really that much sense left?--Do you think the King
likes any reminder of a deed that has brought him so little honour?

MONS. Let him like it or dislike it, he'll have to swallow it. It was
an ugly deed, and Master John was a saint and a martyr, who died for
his faith--the faith of his childhood, which he would not forswear.

BARBRO. [_Standing by the armchair at the end of the table_] Is the
King to sit here?

MONS. Yes, child, that's where the marvellous man of God is to sit
when he visits his friend Mons Nilsson of Aspeboda. His whole life is
like a miracle story, children: how the Lord guided him out of a Danish
prison up to Dalecarlia, and how, after many hardships, he finally
freed his country from oppression. Those pictures on the walls tell you
the whole story, down to the moment when the ski-runner overtook him at
Sälen, close by the Norwegian border-line.

BARBRO. [_Looking at the picture just indicated_] Is it true, father,
that the ski-runner was named Engelbrecht, like the great chieftain we
had in the past century?

MONS. Yes, it's true, child, and we used to speak of it as "the finger
of God," but now we call it mere superstition.

WIFE. Don't put that sort of thing into the children's heads!

MONS. Oh, keep quiet! I teach the children nothing but what is right
and proper.--And bear in mind, little girls, that, no matter what you
may hear, you must never believe or say anything bad of the King. Earth
bears no heavier burden than a thankless man. And for that reason you
must sing the ballad of King Gustav when he comes here. Do you still
remember it?

BARBRO. Oh, yes!

MONS. Let me hear you read it then.

BARBRO. [_Reciting_],

    "King Gustav, he rode his trusty steed
       Across the battle-field;
     Have thanks, my brave Dalecarlians,
       For your true loyalty."

CHILDREN. [_In chorus_],

    "Have thanks, my brave Dalecarlians,
       For your true loyalty!"

BARBRO.

    "You have by my side been fighting
       Like faithful Swedish men.
     If God will spare my life-blood,
       I'll do you good in stead."

CHILDREN.

    "If God will spare my life-blood,
       I'll do you good in stead!"

MONS. That's good, children. Go back to your own room now, and be ready
when the time comes.

BARBRO _and the_ CHILDREN. [_As they start to go out to the right_] But
won't the King frighten us?

MONS. Oh, he is not at all dangerous, and he is very fond of children.
Besides, he is your godfather, Barbro.

        BARBRO _and the_ CHILDREN _leave the room_.

WIFE. Do you know what you are doing?

MONS. Hope so! Of course, I know what you mean?

WIFE. What do I mean?

MONS. That I should take your advice. So I have done in the past, and
it has ended badly every time.

WIFE. Try it once more!

MONS. No!

WIFE. Then--may the will of God be done! [_Pause_,

MONS. That's the longest afternoon I have ever lived through!--And my
friends don't seem to be coming.

WIFE. Yes, I think I hear them outside.

MONS. Well, you were right that time!

        _The stamping of feet is heard from the hallway outside_. _Then
        enter_: ANDERS PERSSON OF RANKHYTTAN, NILS SÖDERBY, INGHEL
        HANSSON, _and_ MASTER STIG [_in clerical costume_]. _Each one
        says as he comes into the room_: "Good evening, everybody!"

MONS. [_Shaking hands with them_] God be with you, Anders Persson! God
be with you, Nils Söderby! God be with you, Inghel Hansson! God be with
you, Master Stig! Come forward and be seated.

        _All seat themselves at the long table_.

ANDERS. You are getting ready, I see.

MONS. So we are.--And where's the King?

ANDERS. The other side of the hill, says the ski-runner that just
returned.

MONS. As near as that?--And what errand is supposed to bring him here?

ANDERS. Ask Nils of Söderby.

NILS. They say he is headed for Norway to fight Christian.

INGHEL. There are others who think that he is coming to thank us
Dalecarlians for the good help rendered in his last fight.

STIG. That would not be like him.

ANDERS. To thank anybody--no, indeed!

MONS. Do you think there is any cause for fear?

NILS. Not while Christian is still free.

INGHEL. It's queer that we should have to look to Christian for safety.

STIG. We knew what we had, but not what we might get. Christian took
the heads of the noble lords and left the people alone. This one leaves
the lords alone and rides roughshod over the people. Who should be
called a tyrant?

MONS. Be quiet now!

ANDERS. In other words, the last war of liberation was fought _against_
our liberator. Did we know at all what we were doing at that time?

INGHEL. We were to clear the country of the Danes; and the first man to
raise his hand for the King against the Danes in our parts was Rasmus
Dane, who killed Nils Westgoth. That was a strange beginning....

NILS. A strange beginning, indeed, but just like the ending. [_To_
MONS'S WIFE] Look out for the silver, goodwife!

        _She turns and looks inquiringly at him_.

NILS. The King is coming.

MONS. In the name of the Lord, be quiet! That kind of talk will bring
no peace.--All that you say is true, of course, but what has happened
was the will of Providence--

STIG. Which let the children have their will in order that they should
see their own folly.

ANDERS. Are you quite sure that the King will visit you, Mons Nilsson?

MONS. What a question!

ANDERS. Remember Master John!

MONS. Let us forget! Everything must be forgotten.

ANDERS. No wonder if you and NILS want to forget that you burned the
King's house at Hedemora and looted Räfvelstad two years ago! But _he_
will never forget it.

        _The roll of muffled drums is heard from the outside_.

ALL. [_Leaping to their feet_] What's that?

MONS. Don't you know the hornet that buzzes before it stings?

ANDERS. That's the kind of noise he made that Ash Wednesday at Tuna
Flat.

INGHEL. Don't mention that blood-bath, or I can't control myself.
[_Passionately_] Don't talk of it!

NILS. Hear him spinning, spinning like a cat! No, don't trust him!

        _The roll of the drums comes nearer_.

STIG. Might it not be wise for you, as personal friends of the King, to
meet him and bid the stem master welcome?

MONS. I wonder. Then he might not come here afterward....

WIFE. Stay, Mons! Stay where you are!

MONS. Oh, the place smells of spruce, and the drums are flattened
as for a funeral. [_Somebody raps three times at the door from the
outside_] Who's that?

        [_He goes to the door and opens it_.

WIFE. [_To_ Master Stig _as she leaves the room by the door_ _at__the
right_] Pray for us!

        MASTER OLAVUS _and_ HERMAN ISRAEL _enter_.

MONS. Who is doing me the honour?

OLAVUS. I am the acting secretary of his Highness, the King. And this
is the venerable representative of the free city of Luebeck.

MONS. Come in, my good sirs, and--let us hear the news!

OLAVUS. The King is here and has pitched his camp on Falu Flat.
Personally he has taken his abode at the Gildhall of Saint Jorghen.

MONS. What is the errand that has made the King cross Långhed Forest
and Brunbeck Ford without permission and safe-conduct?[3]

OLAVUS. He hasn't told.

MONS. Then I had better go and ask him.

OLAVUS. With your leave, this is the message our gracious lord, the
King, sends you through us: "Greetings to the goodly miners of the
Copperberg, and let every man stay in his own house." If he desires
speech with any one, that one will be called.

MONS. What is the meaning of it?

OLAVUS. [_Seating himself_] I don't know. [_Pause_.

ANDERS. Has the Danish war come to an end, sir?

OLAVUS. I don't know.

ANDERS. Do you know with whom you are talking?

OLAVUS. No, I don't.

ANDERS. I am Anders Persson of Rankhyttan. Have you ever heard that
name before?

OLAVUS. Yes--it's a good name.

        HERMAN ISRAEL _has in the meantime been studying the wall
        paintings and the silver on the mantelpiece. He wears a pair of
        large, horn-rimmed eye-glasses. At last he seats himself in the
        armchair at the end of the table_.

MONS. [_Indicating_ ISRAEL _to_ OLAVUS] Is that chap from Luebeck a
royal person, too?

OLAVUS. [_In a low voice_] No, he is not, but he is in charge of the
national debt, and we must never forget that our gracious King was able
to free our country of the Danes _only_ with the help of Luebeck.

MONS. With the help of Luebeck _only_? And how about the Dalecarlians?

OLAVUS. Oh, of course, they helped, too.

MONS. Does he speak Swedish?

OLAVUS. I don't think so, but I am not sure of it.

MONS. Is that so?

OLAVUS. We happened to arrive together, but I have not yet spoken to
him.

MONS. Very strange! I suppose the King has sent him?

OLAVUS. Probably.

MONS. Perhaps he is the fellow who buys up the bells?

OLAVUS. Perhaps.

MONS. And the church silver?

OLAVUS. And the church silver, too!

MONS. What was his name again?

OLAVUS. Herman Israel.

MONS. Oh, Israel!

        _He whispers to_ ANDERS PERSSON, _who in turn whispers to the
        rest_.

        _A rap at the door is heard_. MASTER OLAVUS _gets up quickly
        and opens the door_.

        _A_ MESSENGER _in full armour enters, whispers something to_
        MASTER OLAVUS, _and leaves again_.

OLAVUS. Our gracious lord, the King, requests Inghel Hansson to meet
him at Saint Jorghen's Gild.

INGHEL. [_Rising_] Well, well, am I to be the first?

NILS. The oldest first.

MONS. Stand up for yourself, Inghel, and tell the truth. The King is a
gracious gentleman who won't mind a plain word in proper time.

INGHEL. Don't you worry. I have said my say to kings before now. [_He
goes out_.

OLAVUS. Well, Nils, how is the mining nowadays?

NILS. Not bad, thank you. The last fall flood left a little water in
the mine, but otherwise we have nothing to complain of.

OLAVUS. Times are good, then?

NILS. Well, you might say so.... Hm! Good times will mean better taxes,
I suppose?

OLAVUS. I know nothing about the taxes. [_Pause; then to_ ANDERS
PERSSON] And how about the crops? I hear you have plenty of tilled
ground, too.

ANDERS. Oh, yes, and plenty of cattle in the pastures, too.

OLAVUS. Old Dalecarlia is a pretty good country, is it not?

MONS. [_Giving_ ANDERS _a poke with his elbow_] Yes, everything is fat
here--dripping with fat, so that one can eat the bark off the trees
even.

OLAVUS. Yes, they have told me that you have to eat bark and chew
resin now and then. Is that a common thing or does it happen only once
in a while?

NILS. When the famine comes, you have to eat what you can get.

OLAVUS. [_To_ MASTER STIG, _who has been keeping in the background_]
There is something you should know, Master Stig. How was it during the
last famine, when the King sent grain to be distributed here: did it go
to those who needed it?

STIG. Yes, it did, although there was not enough of it.

OLAVUS. [_To_ ANDERS] Was there not enough of it?

ANDERS. That depends on what you mean by "enough."

OLAVUS. [_To_ MONS] Do you know what is meant by "enough," Mons Nilsson?

MONS. Oh, well, everybody knows that.

OLAVUS. [_To_ STIG] As we now know what is meant by "enough," I ask
you, Master Stig Larsson, if anybody perished from hunger during the
last famine?

STIG. Man doth not live by bread only....

OLAVUS. There you spoke a true word, Master Stig, but....

        _A rap on the door is heard_. MASTER OLAVUS _opens. The same_
        MESSENGER _appears, whispers to him, and leaves again_.

OLAVUS. The King requests Nils Söderby to meet him at Saint Jorghen's
Gildhall.

NILS. Won't Inghel Hansson come back first?

OLAVUS. I don't know.

NILS. Well, nobody is afraid here, and....

OLAVUS. What have you to be afraid of?

NILS. Nothing! [_To his friends_] The big bell at Mora has not been
taken out of Siljan valley yet, Anders Persson and Mons Nilsson. That's
a devil of a bell, and when it begins to tinkle, they can hear it way
over in Norway, and fourteen thousand men stand like one!

OLAVUS. I don't understand what you mean.

NILS. [_Shaking hands with_ ANDERS _and_ MONS] But you two understand!
God bless you and defend you!

MONS. What do you mean?

ANDERS. What are you thinking of, Nils?

NILS. Oh, my thoughts are running so fast that I can't keep up with
them. But one thing I am sure of: that it's going hard with Inghel
Hansson. [_He goes out_.

OLAVUS. Is this sulphur smoke always hanging over the place?

MONS. Mostly when the wind is in the east.

        MONS _and_ ANDERS _withdraw to the left corner of the room
        and sit down there. Master Stig shows plainly that he is much
        alarmed_.

OLAVUS. Is it the quartz or the pyrites that make the worst smoke?

ANDERS. Why do you ask?

OLAVUS. That's a poor answer!

MONS. May I ask you in return whether King Christian still is free?

OLAVUS. [_Looking hard at him_] Do you put your trust in the enemy?
[_Pause_] What kind of a man is Nils of Söderby?

MONS. His friends think him better and his enemies worse than anybody
else.

OLAVUS. What kind of a bell in the Siljan valley was that you spoke of?

MONS. It's the largest one in all Dalecarlia.

OLAVUS. Have you many bells of that kind?

ANDERS. Of the kind that calls the people to arms we have still a lot.

        MONS _pokes him warningly_.

OLAVUS. I am glad to hear it, and I am sure it will please his Highness
still more.--Are the people attending church diligently, Master Stig?

STIG. I can't say that they are.

OLAVUS. Are the priests bad, or is the pure word of God not preached
here?

STIG. There are no bad priests here, and nothing but the pure word of
God is preached!

OLAVUS. That's the best thing I have heard yet! Nothing but the pure
word of God, you say! [_Pause_] Nils intimated a while ago that
fourteen thousand men will take up arms when you ring the big bell at
Mora. That was mere boasting, I suppose?

MONS. Oh, if you ring it the right way, I think sixteen thousand will
come. What do you say, Anders Persson?

ANDERS. Sixteen, you say? I should say eighteen!

OLAVUS. Fine! Then we shall ring it the right way when the Dane comes
next time. Only seven thousand answered the last call--to fight the
_enemies_ of our country.

MONS. [_To_ ANDERS] That fellow is dangerous. We had better keep quiet
after this.

STIG. [_To_ OLAVUS] Why has Inghel Hansson not come back?

OLAVUS. I don't know.

STIG. Then I'll go and find out.

        _He goes to the door and opens it, but is stopped by the_
        MESSENGER, _who is now accompanied by several pike-men_.

        MASTER OLAVUS _meets the_ MESSENGER, _who whispers to him_.

OLAVUS. Master Stig Larsson is commanded before the King at once!

STIG. Commanded? Who commands here?

OLAVUS. The King.

MONS. [_Leaping to his feet_] Treachery!

OLAVUS. Exactly: treachery and traitors!--If you don't go at once,
Master Stig, you'll ride bareback!

STIG. To hell!

OLAVUS. Yes, _to_ hell!--Away!

        MONS _and_ ANDERS _rise and start for the door_.

MONS. Do you know who I am--that I am a free miner and a friend of the
King?

OLAVUS. Be seated then, and keep your peace. If you are a friend of
the King, there has been a mistake. Sit down, Anders Persson and Mons
Nilsson! No harm will befall you or anybody else who is innocent.
Let Master Stig go, and don't get excited. Where does the thought of
violence come from, if not from your own bad conscience?

STIG. That's true. We have done nothing wrong, and no one has
threatened us.--Be quiet, friends. I shall soon be back. [_He goes out_.

MONS. That's right!

OLAVUS. Throw a stick at the pack, and the one that is hit will yelp.

ANDERS. [_To_ MONS] That was stupid of us! Let us keep calm! [_Aloud_]
You see, doctor, one gets suspicious as one grows old, particularly
after having seen so many broken words and promises....

OLAVUS. I understand. In these days, when people change masters as
the snake changes its skin, a certain instability of mind is easily
produced. In young men it may be pardonable, but it is absolutely
unpardonable in old and experienced persons.

MONS. As far as age is concerned, there is nothing to say about the
King, who still is in his best years....

OLAVUS. And for that reason pardonable....

MONS. [_To_ ANDERS] I think he must be the devil himself!

ANDERS. [_To_ OLAVUS] How long are we to wait here? And what are we to
wait for?

OLAVUS. The King's commands, as you ought to know.

MONS. Are we regarded as prisoners, then?

OLAVUS. By no means, but it is not wise to venture out for a while yet.

        MONS _and_ ANDERS _move from one chair to another and give
        other evidence of agitation_.

MONS. Some great evil is afoot. I can feel it within me.

ANDERS. It must be very hot in here.... I am sweating. Would you like a
glass of beer, doctor?

OLAVUS. No, thank you.

ANDERS. Or a glass of wine?

OLAVUS. Not for me, thanks!

MONS. But it's real hock.

        MASTER OLAVUS _shakes his head. At that moment drum-beats are
        heard outside_.

ANDERS. [_Beyond himself_] In the name of Christ, will this never come
to an end?

OLAVUS. [_Rising_] Yes, this is the end!

        _He goes to the door and opens it_.

        _The_ MESSENGER _enters and throws on the table the
        bloodstained coats of_ INGHEL HANSSON, NILS OF SÖDERBY, _and_
        MASTER STIG.

OLAVUS. Look!

MONS _and_ ANDERS. Another blood-bath!

MONS. Without trial or hearing!

OLAVUS. The trial took place two years age, and sentence was passed.
But the King put mercy above justice and let the traitors remain
at large to see whether their repentance was seriously meant. When
he learned that they remained incorrigible and went on with their
rebellious talk as before, he decided to execute the sentences. That's
how the matter looks when presented truthfully.

MONS. And yet there was a lot of talk about everything being forgiven
and forgotten....

OLAVUS. So it was, provided the same offence was not repeated. But it
was repeated, and what might have been forgotten was again remembered.
All that is clear as logic. [_To_ HERMAN ISRAEL] These two trustworthy
men.... [_To_ MONS _and_ ANDERS] You are trustworthy, are you not?

MONS _and_ ANDERS. Hope so!

OLAVUS. Answer yes or no! Are you trustworthy?

MONS _and_ ANDERS. Yes!

OLAVUS. [_To_ ISRAEL] In the presence of you as my witness, syndic,
these two trustworthy men have given a true report of conditions in
Dalecarlia. They have unanimously assured us that the mines are being
worked profitably; that agriculture and cattle-breeding prosper no
less than the mining; that famines occur but rarely, and that, during
the last one, our gracious King distributed grain in quantities not
insufficient, which went to those that really were in need. These
trustworthy and upright miners have also confirmed the following
facts: that bells to summon the congregations still remain in all the
churches; that no bad priests are spreading devices of men, and that
nothing is preached here but the pure word of God. You have likewise
heard them say, syndic, that the province of Dalecarlia can raise from
sixteen to eighteen thousand men capable of bearing arms--the figures
vary as their courage falls or rises. Being in charge of the current
debt, and for that reason entitled to know the actual _status_ of the
country, you have now heard the people declare with their own lips,
that all the Dalecarlian grievances are unwarranted, and that those who
have spread reports to the contrary are traitors and liars.

MONS. _Veto!_

ANDERS. I deny it!

OLAVUS. If you deny your own words, then you are liars twice over!

MONS. He is drawing the noose tighter! Better keep silent!

ANDERS. No, I most speak. [_To_ OLAVUS] I want to know what our fate is
to be.

OLAVUS. So you shall. Your fate is in your own hands. You are invited
to Stockholm and given full safe-conduct. You can travel freely by
yourselves. This is granted you as old friends of the King, to whom he
acknowledges a great debt of gratitude.

MONS. More guile!

OLAVUS. No guile at all. Here is the King's safe-conduct, signed by his
own hand.

ANDERS. We know all about his safe-conducts!

MONS. [_To_ ANDERS] We must consent and submit in order to gain time!
[_To_ OLAVUS] Will you let us go into the next room and talk the matter
over?

OLAVUS. You can now go wherever you want--except to the King.

        MONS _and_ ANDERS _go toward the left_.

MONS. [_As he opens the door_] We'll bring you an answer shortly.

OLAVUS. As you please, and when you please.

        MONS _and_ ANDERS _go out_.

OLAVUS. [_To_ ISRAEL] A stiff-necked people, true as gold, but full of
distrust.

ISRAEL. A very fine people.

OLAVUS. Rather stupid, however. Did you notice how I trapped them?

ISRAEL. That was good work. How did you learn to do it?

OLAVUS. By long observation of innumerable human beings I have been led
to conclude at last that vanity the primal sin and mother of all the
vices. To get the truth out of criminals, I have merely to set them
boasting.

ISRAEL. What wisdom! What wisdom! And you are not yet an old man!--But
there are modest people, too, and out of these you cannot get the
truth, according to what you have just said.

OLAVUS. Modest people boast of their modesty, so that is all one.

ISRAEL. [_Looking attentively at him_] If you'll pardon me--Master
Olavus was your name, I think? You cannot be Olavus Petri?

OLAVUS. I am.

ISRAEL. [_Surprised_] Who carried out the Reformation?

OLAVUS. I am that man.

ISRAEL. And who was subsequently tried for high treason on suspicion of
having known about a plot against the King's life?

OLAVUS. Confidences given me under the seal of confession, so that I
had no right to betray them.

ISRAEL. [_Gazing curiously at_ OLAVUS] Hm-hm! [_Pause_] A mysterious
story it was, nevertheless.

OLAVUS. No, I don't think so. Gorius Holst and Hans Bökman were found
guilty. And it was so little of a secret, that the people of Hamburg
heard of the King's murder as an accomplished fact long before the plot
was exposed at Stockholm.

ISRAEL. That is just what I call mysterious, especially as we knew
nothing about it at Luebeck.

OLAVUS. Yes, I call that mysterious, too, because the road to Hamburg
goes through Luebeck as a rule. [ISRAEL _makes no reply_] And it was
rumoured at the time, that Marcus Meyer and Juerghen Wollenweber were
no strangers to the plot.

ISRAEL. I have never heard of it, and I don't believe it. [_Pause;
then, pointing to the blood-stained coats_] Must those things stay here?

OLAVUS. Yes, for the present.

ISRAEL. It seems to me that these royal visits are rather sanguinary
affairs.

OLAVUS. I don't allow myself to pass judgment on the actions of my
King, partly because I am not capable of doing so, and partly because I
know there is a judge above too, who guides his destiny.

ISRAEL. That is beautifully said and thought. Have you always been
equally wise?

OLAVUS. No, but what you have not been you frequently become. [_Pause_.

ISRAEL. Won't those people in there try to get away?

OLAVUS. That, too, has been foreseen, just as their desire to discuss
the matter had been reckoned with. Do you know what they are talking of?

ISRAEL. No, I have not the slightest idea.

OLAVUS. They still imagine that King Christian is free, and they are
planning to seek help from him.

ISRAEL. What a senseless thought!

OLAVUS. Especially as Christian is a prisoner.

ISRAEL. It sounds like madness, but when you hear how devoted these
good men of the mining districts are to their King, it cannot surprise
you that they may have in mind the oath binding them to their only
lawful sovereign....

OLAVUS. Now, with your pardon, I _am_ surprised....

ISRAEL. Oh, mercy, I am merely putting myself in their place.

OLAVUS. It is always dangerous to put oneself in the place of traitors.
[_Pause_.

BARBRO. [_Entering from the right, followed by the smaller children_]
Is father here? [_She looks around and discovers_ ISRAEL _seated in the
armchair prepared for the King_] Goodness, here is the King!

        [_She kneels, the other children following her example_.

ISRAEL. No, no, dear children, I am not the King. I am only a poor
merchant from Luebeck.

OLAVUS. A noble answer! [_To the children_] This is Herman Israel, the
far-famed and influential councillor, who, with Cord König and Nils
Bröms, saved our King out of Danish captivity and enabled him to carry
out the war of liberation. You will find him on the picture in Saint
Jorghen's Gildhall which represents Gustavus Vasa appearing before the
City Council of Luebeck. Honour to the man who has honour deserved.
Give homage to the friend of your country and your King.

        BARBRO _and the_ CHILDREN _clap their hands_.

ISRAEL. [_Rises, evidently touched_] My dear little friends.... All I
can do is to thank you.... I have really not deserved this.... You see,
a merchant does nothing except for payment, and I have been richly paid.

OLAVUS. Don't believe him! But bear in mind that there are services
that can never be paid, and beautiful deeds that can never be wiped out
by ingratitude or forgetfulness.--Go back to your own room now. Your
father will come in a moment.

        BARBRO _and the_ CHILDREN _go out to the right_.

ISRAEL. I had never expected such a thing of you, doctor.

OLAVUS. I think I understand why. However, my dear syndic, don't ever
compel us to become ungrateful. Ingratitude is such a heavy burden to
carry.

ISRAEL. What is the use of talking of it? There is nothing of that kind
to be feared.

        MONS NILSSON _and_ ANDERS PERSSON _enter from the left_.

MONS. After talking it over, we have decided to go to Stockholm with
the King's good word and safe-conduct, so that we can quietly discuss
the matter with him and the lords of the realm.

OLAVUS. Then my errand here is done, and both of us can leave. I wish
you, Mons Nilsson, and you, Anders Persson, welcome to the capital.

MONS. Thank you, doctor.

        MASTER OLAVUS _and_ HERMAN ISRAEL _go out_.

MONS. [_Picking up the bloodstained coats as soon as they are out of
sight_] These shall be our blood-stained banners! King Christian will
furnish the staffs, and then--on to Stockholm!

ANDERS. And down with it!

OLAVUS. [_Returning unexpectedly_] There was one thing I forgot to tell
you. Do you hear?

ANDERS. [_Angrily_] Well!

OLAVUS. King Christian has been captured and made a prisoner at
Sonderborg Castle, in the island of Als.

        MONS _and_ ANDERS _show how deeply the news hits them; neither
        one has a word to say_.

OLAVUS. You understand, don't you?--Stinderborg Castle, in the island
of Als?

_Curtain_.


[1] Peder Jacobsson Sunnanväder, bishop at Vesterås, and his
archdeacon, Master Knut, both members of the old Catholic clergy, tried
to raise the Dalecarlians against the King in 1524-5, when his hold
on the new throne was still very precarious. The False Sture was a
young Dalecarlian named John Hansson, who had acquired gentle manners
as a servant in noble houses and who posed as the natural son of Sten
Sture the Younger, "National Director" of Sweden until 1520. This
pretender, who headed another Dalecarlian uprising in 1527, figures
also in Ibsen's early historical drama, "Lady Inger." The taking of the
church-bells mentioned by Mons Nilsson's wife took place in 1531 and
resulted in the killing of several of the King's representatives by the
Dalecarlians.

[2] In 1520 Christian II of Denmark made a temporarily successful
effort to bring Sweden back into the union with the other two
Scandinavian kingdoms. Having defeated the Swedish "National Director,"
Sten Sture the Younger, and been admitted to the city of Stockholm,
he caused about eighty of the most influential members of the Swedish
nobility to be beheaded in a single day. That was the "Blood-bath of
Stockholm," by which King Gustavus lost his father and brother-in-law.
On the same occasion his mother and sister were imprisoned, and both
died before they could be set free.

[3] Långheden is a wooded upland plain on the southern border of
Dalecarlia. Brunbeck Ferry or Ford was for centuries the main crossing
point of the Dal River for all who entered the province of Dalecarlia
from the south. Rendered arrogant by the part they had played in
the wars of liberation between 1434 and 1524, the Dalecarlians had
established a claim that not even the King himself had the right to
pass those two border points at the head of an armed force without
first having obtained their permission.



ACT II



FIRST SCENE


        _The office of_ HERMAN ISRAEL. _A large room, the walls of
        which are covered by cupboards. Door in the rear; doors in both
        side walls; few windows, and these very small. A fireplace on
        the left-hand side. A large table in the middle of the floor;
        armchairs about it. Above the rear door and the fireplace
        appears the coat of arms of Luebeck, in black, red, and silver_.

        _At the right, a desk with writing material and a pair of
        scales. The room contains also several sets of shelves filled
        with goods in bundles_.

        _One of the cupboard doors stands open, disclosing a number of
        altar vessels of gold and silver_.

        MARCUS _is weighing some of the vessels at the desk, while_
        DAVID _is noting down the weights given him_.


MARCUS. A crucifix of silver, gilded; weighs twelve ounces.

DAVID. [_Writing_] Twelve ounces....

MARCUS. Item: a monstrance of gold--a perfect thumper. Weighs.... Let
me see now.... Oh, it's hollow--and the base is filled with lead....
Put down a question-mark.

DAVID. Question-mark it is.

MARCUS. A paten of silver--well, I don't know. [_He tests the vessel
with his teeth_] It tastes like copper at least. Put it down as "white
metallic substance."

DAVID. White metallic substance.--Do you think those rustics are
cheating us?

MARCUS. Us? Nobody can cheat us!

DAVID. Don't be too certain. Niegels Bröms, the goldsmith, says that
interlopers from Holland are going through the country selling church
vessels full of coggery, probably meant to be exchanged for the genuine
goods.

MARCUS. We'll have to get it back on the bells, which contain a lot of
silver, according to old traditions.

DAVID. The bells--yes, they were to go to Luebeck, but instead they are
going to the royal gun-foundry to be cast into culverins and bombards.

MARCUS. So it is said. If only the Dalecarlians knew of it, they would
come galloping across the border forests, I suppose.

DAVID. I think their galloping came to an end with the recent fall
slaughter.

MARCUS. No, there will be no end to it while the two blackest rogues
are still at leisure....

DAVID. You mean Mons Nilsson of Aspeboda and Anders Persson of
Rankhyttan, who are still hanging about the town, hoping to get an
audience with the King?

MARCUS. Those are the ones.

DAVID. Calling them rogues is rather an exaggeration, and our Principal
seems to put great store on them.

MARCUS. Now, David, don't forget the first and last duty of a Hanseatic
clerk--which is to keep his mouth closed. And bear in mind the
number of talkative young fellows who have vanished for ever through
water-gates and cellar holes. You had better remember!

DAVID. I'll try, although it seems about time for the Hansa itself to
be thinking of the great silence. [_Pause_.

MARCUS. Do you know where the Principal is?

DAVID. With the King, I suppose, taking an inventory of Eskil's
Chamber.[1]

JACOB ISRAEL. [_Enters; he is the son of_ HERMAN ISRAEL; _a richly
dressed young man, carrying a racket in his hand; his forehead is
bandaged_] Is my father here?

MARCUS. No, he is not. I think the Principal is with the King.

JACOB. Then I'll sit down here and wait. Go on with your writing. I
won't disturb you.

        [_He seats himself at the big table_.

PRINCE ERIC. [_Enters; he is somewhat older than_ JACOB] Why did you
leave me, Jacob?

JACOB. I was tired of playing.

ERIC. I don't think that was the reason. Some one offended you--some
one who is not my friend.

JACOB. No one has offended me, Prince, but I have such a strong feeling
that I ought not to appear at court.

ERIC. Oh, Jacob, my friend, why do you cease to call your old
schoolmate by name? And why do you look at me like a stranger? Give
me your hand You won't? And I, who have been lonely and deserted ever
since my mother died; who am hated by my stepmother, by my father, and
by my half-brother; I am begging for the friendship which you gave me
once and which you are now taking back.

JACOB. I am not taking back anything, Eric, but we are not allowed
to be friends. The fact that we two, as mere boys, formed ties of
friendship that were nursed by common sufferings, has been ignored or
tolerated by our fathers so far. Now, when you are about to marry a
foreign princess and take possession of a duchy, it has been deemed
politic to separate us.

ERIC. Your words are stilted, as if you meant to hide your own
thoughts, but your feelings are not to be concealed....

JACOB. Pardon me, Eric, but this is not the place for a conversation
like this....

ERIC. Because this is a place for trading, you mean--as if the parties
to such a transaction were degraded by it? I don't object to it,
although I am rather inclined to think the seller more broad-minded
than the buyer.

        JACOB _indicates by a gesture the presence of the two clerks_.

ERIC. Oh, let them hear. Marcus and I are old friends, and we met at
the Blue Dove last night.

JACOB. Ugh! Why do you visit a vulgar place like that, Prince?

ERIC. Where can I go? I have no one to talk with at home; and it
seems to me, for that matter, that people are equally good or bad
everywhere--although I prefer what is generally called bad company.--Do
you know John Andersson?

JACOB. [_Embarrassed_] I have never heard his name even. Who is he?

        MARCUS _and_ DAVID _go quietly out to the left_.

ERIC. A man from Småland who is full of sensible ideas.--Do you still
need to have your forehead bandaged?

JACOB. Do you think I wear the bandage as an ornament, or as a souvenir
of the city mob?

ERIC. You should not bear a grudge against the good folk because some
scamp has misbehaved himself.

JACOB. I don't, my friend, and I know perfectly well what a stranger
must expect in a hostile country. If you come to Luebeck, you will see
how they stone Swedes.

ERIC. You talk just like Jorghen Persson. Do you know him?

JACOB. I don't.

ERIC. He looks at everything in the same way as you do.

JACOB. How do you mean?

ERIC. He thinks every one is right, and that whatever happens is
_juste_. There is something sensible and enlightened in his view of
life. That's why my father hates him....

JACOB. Don't talk badly of your father. It sounds dreadful--if you will
pardon me!

ERIC. But if he acts badly, why shouldn't I say so? And I hate him, for
that matter!

JACOB. Don't say that--don't! The greatness of your royal father is so
boundless that you can't grasp it.

ERIC. It only looks that way--I know! Last night he came up to me and
put his arm around my shoulders--for the first time in my life--and I,
who have been living in the belief that I barely came up to his hip,
found to my surprise that I am as tall as he. But as soon as I looked
at him from a distance again, he grew taller and turned into a giant.

JACOB. That's what he is. And he resembles one of Buonarotti's
prophets--Isaiah, I think. And, verily, the Lord on high is with him.

ERIC. Do you really believe in God?

JACOB. Are you not ashamed of yourself?

ERIC. Well, what are you to believe in times like these, when kings and
priests persecute the faithful and profane everything that used to be
held sacred. And yet they call themselves "defenders of the faith."

JACOB. Can't we talk of something else? Please, let us!

ERIC. That's what the King always says when I go after him, and for
that reason I hate him still more--as he hates me! Do you know that it
was your father who brought my mother to him from Lauenburg?[2]

JACOB. No, I didn't know that.

ERIC. Yes, but the marriage turned out badly. They hated each other
beyond all bounds--and one day [_he rises in a state of great
agitation_] I saw him raise his stick against her--[_roaring out the
words_] against my mother--and he struck her! That day I lost my
youth[3]--and I can never forgive him--never!

JACOB. [_Leaps to his feet and put his arms about_ Eric] Look at me,
Eric! Look at me! I have a stepmother, too--who is always tormenting me
when I am at home--but hush, hush! If it can help you to hear that I am
worse off than you--very much worse--then--you know it now! Remember
that it won't last for ever, as we are growing up to freedom....

ERIC. And you don't hate her?

JACOB. Such a feeling has no place beside the new one that is now
filling my soul.

ERIC. That means--you are in love.

JACOB. That's what we may call it.... And when your own time comes,
you, too, will see your hatred change form and vanish.

ERIC. I wonder!--Perhaps you are right The lovelessness in which I was
born and brought up has turned into a flame that is consuming my soul.
My blood was poisoned at my birth, and I doubt the existence of an
antidote.... Why do you leave me?

JACOB. Because ... because we are not allowed to be friends--because we
cannot be friends.

ERIC. Do you think me so vile?

JACOB. No, no!--But I mustn't say anything more. Let us part. I shall
always watch your fate with sympathy, for I think you were born to
misfortune.

ERIC. What makes you utter what I have thought so many times?--Do you
know that I was also born to be in the way? I stand in the way of my
father's desire to see Johan on the throne. I stand in the way of his
wish to forget the hated German woman. My mind has not the true Swedish
quality, and the fault lies in my German blood. Although I am a Vasa, I
am Saxony, too, and Lauenburg, and Brunswick. I am so little of a Swede
that it gives me pleasure when the free city of Luebeck imposes a penal
tax on my country--and keeps it humiliated.

JACOB. [_Looking hard at him_] Is that the truth, or do you merely talk
like that out of politeness?

ERIC. [_Puts his hand to his sword, bid regains self-control
immediately_] Do you notice how much I love you, seeing that I
pardon such a question?--Yes, my friend, the first words taught me
by my mother were German, and in German I learned to say my evening
prayers--that old and beautiful "Heil dir, Maria, Mutter Gottes"....
Oh, that time--that time.... [_He weeps_] Oh, damn it! I am crying, I
think!--Come to the Blue Dove to-night, Jacob There you'll find Rhine
wine and merry maidens! Jorghen will be there, too. He's a man you
should know.

JACOB. [_Coldly and shrewdly_] I--shall--come.

ERIC. Thank you, friend! [_Rising_] Really, the place has a look of
pawn-shop.

JACOB. [_Sharply_] That was just what I had in mind before.

ERIC. Well, then we agree to that extent at least. Until to-night,
then! Do you know Agda?

JACOB. [_Brusquely_] No!

ERIC. [_Haughtily, giving him two fingers to shake_, JACOB _pretending
not to notice it_] Farewell!--What became of those two little
pawnbrokers?

        JACOB _does not answer_.

ERIC. [_Arrogantly_] Good-bye, then, Baruch!--Have you read the Book of
Baruch?

        _Going toward the background, he jingles the altar vessels as
        he passes them_.

    "The ring of gold, and rattling dice,
    And wine brings light to tipsy eyes.
    But in the night that light must lack,
    To wenches leads each crooked track."

That's a good one, isn't it? I made it myself!

        [_He goes out through the rear door_.

HERMAN ISRAEL. [_Enters from the right_] Are you alone?

JACOB. Yes, father.

ISRAEL. I heard somebody speaking.

JACOB. That was the Heir Apparent.

ISRAEL. What did he want?

JACOB. I don't think he has the slightest idea of what he wants.

ISRAEL. Is he your friend?

JACOB. Yes, so he calls himself, but I am not his. Because he thinks
that he is honouring me with his friendship, he flatters himself with
the belief that I return it.

ISRAEL. You are frightfully wise for a young man of your age.

JACOB. Why, it's an axiom in the art of living, that you must not be
the friend of your enemy.

ISRAEL. Can he be made useful?

JACOB. Running errands, perhaps, provided you keep him wholesomely
ignorant of the matter at stake. Otherwise I don't think I ever saw an
heir apparent more useless than this one.

ISRAEL. Do you hate him?

JACOB. No, I pity him too much for that. He is more unfortunate than
he deserves. That he will end badly, seems pretty certain. It seems
clear to himself, too, and to such an extent that he appears anxious to
hasten the catastrophe.

ISRAEL. Listen, my son. I have long noticed that I can keep no secrets
from you, and so I think it is better for me to tell you everything.
Sit down and give me your attention while I walk back and forth.... I
can think only when I am walking....

JACOB. Talk away, father. I am thinking all the time.

ISRAEL. You have probably guessed that some great event is preparing
under the surface You have probably noticed that our free city of
Luebeck is fighting for its rights here in the North. I speak of
rights, because we have the right of the pioneer who has broken new
roads--roads of trade in this case--to demand compensation and profit
from the country on which he has spent his energy. We have taught these
people to employ their natural products and to exchange them with
profit; and we have set Sweden free. Having used us, they wish now to
cast us aside. That's always the way: use--and cast aside! But there
are greater and more powerful interests than those of trade that should
compel the North to join hands with the free cities. The Emperor and
the Pope are one. Our free cities made themselves independent first
of the Emperor and then of the Pope. Now, when this country has been
helped by us and its great King to do the same, we must, willy-nilly,
remain allies against the common enemy. And until quite recently we did
stick together. Then an evil spirit seemed to take possession of this
Vasa. Whether misled by pride or fatigue, he wishes now to enter a path
that must lead us all to disaster.

JACOB. Wait a little.--All of us, you say? You had better say "us of
Luebeck," for the Swedes will gain by entering that path.

ISRAEL. Are you on their side?

JACOB. No, I am not. But I can perfectly well see where their advantage
lies. And I beg you, father, don't try to fight against Vasa, for he is
guided by the hand of the Lord! Have you not recognised that already?

ISRAEL. I wonder how I could be such a fool as to give my confidence to
one still in his nonage!

JACOB. It won't hurt you to have your plans discussed from another
point of view than your own while there is still time to correct them.
And you know, of course, that you can rely on me. Go on, now!

ISRAEL. No, I can't now.

JACOB. The pen won't write when its point has been broken. If you will
not get angry, I can tell you a little more myself.

MARCUS. [_Enters_] The one you have been waiting for is outside, sir.

JACOB. I suppose it is John Andersson.

ISRAEL. Let him wait. [_Motions_ MARCUS _out of the room; then to_
Jacob] Do you know him, too?

JACOB. I have never seen him, but now I can figure out who he is.

ISRAEL. [_Astounded_] You can figure it out, you say?

JACOB. I merely add one thing to another. Now, when the Dalecarlians
have been squelched, a new beginning will have to be made with the good
folk of Småland.

ISRAEL. Of Småland, you say?

JACOB. Yes, I understand that this John Andersson is from Småland. I
don't think his name is John Andersson, however, but--[_in a lower
voice_] Nils Dacke![4]

ISRAEL. Have you been spying?

JACOB. No, I merely listen, and look, and add together.

ISRAEL. Well, you have made a false calculation this time.

JACOB. Thus you tell me that there are two persons concerned in the
matter, and that Nils Dacke is the silent partner who will not appear
until the war has begun.

ISRAEL. I am afraid of you.

JACOB. You shouldn't be, father. I dare not do anything wrong, because
then I am always made to suffer.

ISRAEL. Do you think I am doing anything wrong?

JACOB. You are more likely than I to do so, because, like Prince Eric,
you believe in nothing.

ISRAEL. And such a thing I must hear from my own child!

JACOB. It is better than to hear it from other people's children--later
on.

MARCUS. [_Enters_] Two Dalecarlians ask to see you.

ISRAEL. Tell them to wait.

        MARCUS _goes out_.

JACOB. They'll pay for it with their heads.

ISRAEL. Who are they, then?

JACOB. Anders Persson of Rankhyttan and Mons Nilsson of Aspeboda, who
have tried in vain to get an audience with the King, and who are now
moved by their futile anger to turn to you for revenge.

ISRAEL. So you know that, too?

JACOB. Without wishing to show you any disrespect, father--how can a
man of your age believe that secrets exist?

ISRAEL. Time has run away from me. I don't know any longer where I
stand.

JACOB. Now you speak the truth! And I don't think that you estimate the
results of your venture correctly.

ISRAEL. That will appear in due time. But now you must go, for even if
you know of my venture, you must not become involved in it.

JACOB. I shall obey, but you must listen to me.

ISRAEL. No, you must listen to me! Tell Marcus that I shall expect my
visitors in the hall of state. You stay here with David and pack all
valuables into boxes ready to be sent southward.

JACOB. Father!

ISRAEL. Silence!

JACOB. One word: don't rely on me if you should do anything wrong!

ISRAEL. There is one thing _you_ may rely on; that, having power of
life and death in this house, I shall see that every traitor is tried
and executed, whether he be my own son or no. First comes my country,
then my family; but first and last--my Arty! [_He puts his hand on his
sword_] And now--go!

_Curtain_.



SECOND SCENE


        _A large room in the Blue Dove Inn. Wainscotted walls, with
        tankards and jugs ranged along the shelf above the panels.
        Benches fastened to the walls and covered with cushions and
        draperies. In the background, a corner-stand with potted
        flowers and bird-cages. Sconces containing wax candles are
        hung on the walls; candelabra stand on a table that also
        contains bowls of fruit, beakers, goblets, tumblers, dice,
        playing-cards, and a lute_.

        _It is night_. PRINCE ERIC _and_ JORGHEN PERSSON _are seated
        at the table. They are looking pale and tired, and have ceased
        drinking_.


ERIC. You want to go to sleep, Jorghen, and I prefer to dream while
still awake. To go to bed is to me like dying: to be swathed in linen
sheets and stretch out in a long bed like a coffin. And then the corpse
has the trouble of washing itself and reading its own burial service.

JORGHEN. Are you afraid of death, Prince?

ERIC. As the children are afraid of going to bed, and I am sure I'll
cry like a child when my turn comes. If I only knew what death is!

JORGHEN. Some call it a sleep, and others an awakening, but no one
knows anything with certainty.

ERIC. How could we possibly know anything of that other life, when we
know so little of this one?

JORGHEN. Yes, what is life?

ERIC. One large madhouse, it seems to me! Think of my sane and shrewd
and sensible father--doesn't he act like a madman? He rids the
country of foreigners and takes the heads of those that helped him. He
rids the country of foreigners only to drag in a lot of others, like
Peutinger and Norman,[5] whom he puts above the lords of the realm
and all other authorities. He is mad, of course!--He rids the Church
of human inventions only to demand the acceptance of new inventions
at the penalty of death. This liberator is the greatest tyrant that
ever lived, and yet this tyrant is the greatest liberator that ever
lived! This evening, you know, he wanted to prohibit me from coming
here; and when I insisted on going all the same, he threw his Hungarian
war-hammer after me, as if he had been the god Thor chasing the trolls.
He came within an inch of killing me, just as it is said--which you may
not have heard--that he killed my mother.

JORGHEN. [_Becoming attentive_] No, I never heard of that.

ERIC. That's what they say. And I can understand it. There is greatness
in it. To feel raised above all human considerations; to kill whatever
stands in the way? and trample everything else.... Sometimes, you know,
when I see him coming in his big, soft hat and his blue cloak, using
his boar-spear in place of a stick, I think he is Odin himself. When he
is angry, the people say that they can hear him from the top story down
to the cellars, and that the sound of it is like thunder. But I am not
afraid of him, and that's why he hates me. At the same time he has a
great deal of respect for me. [JORGHEN _smiles sceptically_] Yes, you
may smile! That's only because you have no respect for anything; not,
even for yourself.

JORGHEN. That least of all.

ERIC. Are you really such a beast?

JORGHEN. That's what every one thinks me, so I suppose I must believe
it.

ERIC. [_Returning to his previous idea_] And.... There is a thought
that pursues me.... He looks like old Odin, I said: Odin who has
returned to despoil the temples of the Christians just as they once
robbed his temples.... You should have seen them weighing and counting
church treasures at Herman Israel's yesterday. It was ghastly!...
And do you know, he is lucky in everything he undertakes. There is
favourable wind whenever he goes sailing; the fish bite whenever he
goes fishing; he wins whenever he gambles. They say that he was born
with a caul....

JORGHEN. A most unusual man.

ERIC. Do you know young Jacob, the son of Herman Israel? He promised to
come here to-night. Rather precocious, perhaps, but with sensible ideas
on certain subjects--and I think I admire some of his qualities because
I lack them myself.

JORGHEN. Is that so?

ERIC. Otherwise he is probably a perfect rascal like his father.

JORGHEN. Then I shall be pleased to make his acquaintance.

ERIC. Because he is a rascal?--Ha-ha!

JORGHEN. In spite of it!

AGDA. [_Enters from the left_] Did you call me, Prince?

ERIC. No, but you are always welcome. Sit down here.

AGDA. The honour is too great for me.

ERIC. Of course, it is!

AGDA. And so I leave--to save my honour.

ERIC. Dare you sting, you gnat?

AGDA. That's your fancy only. I am too sensible and humble to hurt the
feelings of a great lord like yourself, my Prince.

ERIC. Very good! Very good, indeed! Come here and talk to me a little
more.

AGDA. If your lordship commands, I must talk, of course, but....

ERIC. Give me the love that I have begged for so long!

AGDA. What one does not have one cannot give away.

ERIC. Alas!

AGDA. Not loving your lordship, I cannot give you any love.

ERIC. _Diantre_!--Give me your favour, then!

AGDA. Favours are not given away, but sold.

ERIC. Listen to that! It is as if I heard my wise Jacob himself
philosophising. [_To_ JORGHEN] Did you ever hear anything like it?

JORGHEN. All wenches learn that kind of patter from their lovers.

ERIC. Don't talk like that! This girl has won my heart.

JORGHEN. And some one else has won hers.

ERIC. How do you know?

JORGHEN. You can hear it at once, even though the proofs be not visible.

ERIC. Do you believe in love?

JORGHEN. In its existence, yes, but not in its duration.

ERIC. Do you know how a woman's love is to be won?

JORGHEN. All that's necessary is to be "the right one." If you are not,
your case is hopeless.

ERIC. That's a riddle.

JORGHEN. One of the greatest.

ERIC. Who do you think can be my rival?

JORGHEN. Some clerk, or pikeman, or rich horsemonger.

ERIC. And I who am not afraid of tossing my handkerchief to the proud
virgin-queen that rules Britannia!

JORGHEN. Yet it's true.

ERIC. Perhaps Agda is too modest--and does not dare to believe in the
sincerity of my feelings?

JORGHEN. I don't believe anything of the kind.

        _A noise is heard outside the door in the rear_.

PRINCE JOHAN [_Enters_] I hope my dear brother will pardon my intrusion
at this late hour, but I have been sent by our father out of fond
concern for my dear brother's....

ERIC. Be quick and brief, Jöns, or sit down and use a beaker as
punctuation mark! The sum of it is: the old man wants me to come home
and go to bed. Reply: the Heir Apparent decides for himself when he is
to sleep.

JOHAN. I shall not convey such a reply, especially as my dear brother's
disobedience may have serious results in this case.

ERIC. Won't you sit down and drink a goblet, Duke?

JOHAN. Thank you, Prince, but I don't wish to cause my father sorrow.

ERIC. How dreadfully serious that sounds!

JOHAN. It is serious. Our father has new and greater worries to face
because disturbances have been reported from the southern provinces,
especially from Småland.... And as it is possible that the King may
have to leave his capital, he looks to the Heir Apparent for assistance
in the administration of the government.

ERIC. Half of which is nothing but lies, of course--and then there are
such a lot of people governing already. Go in peace, my brother. I
shall come when I come.

JOHAN. My duty is done, and all I regret is being unable to gain more
of my brother's ear; of his heart I possess no part at all! [_He goes
out_.

ERIC. [_To_ JORGHEN] Can you make anything out of that boy?

JORGHEN. I can't.

ERIC. I wonder if he believes in his own preachings?

JORGHEN. That is just the worst of it. Ordinary rascals like you and
me, who don't believe in anything, can't get words of that kind over
their lips; and for that reason we can never deceive anybody.

ERIC. You _are_ a beast, Jorghen.

JORGHEN. Of course, I am.

ERIC. Is there nothing good in you at all?

JORGHEN. Not a trace! And besides--what is good? [_Pause_] My mother
was always saying that I should end on the gallows. Do you think one's
destiny is predetermined?

ERIC. That's what Master Dionysius asserts--the Calvinist who uses Holy
Writ to prove that the dispensation of grace is not at all dependent on
man.

JORGHEN. Come on with the gallows then! That's the grace dispensed to
me.

ERIC. That fellow Jacob says always that I was born to misfortune, and
that's what father says, too, when he gets angry. What do you think my
end will be?

JORGHEN. Was it not Saint Augustine who said that he who has been
coined into a groat can never become a ducat?

ERIC. That's right. But I don't think we have drunk enough to make
us start any theological disputes. Here we have been disputing for a
lifetime now, and every prophet has been fighting all the rest. Luther
has refuted Augustine, Calvin has refuted Luther, Zwingli has refuted
Calvin, and John of Leyden has refuted all of them. So we know now just
where we stand!

JORGHEN. Yes, it's nothing but humbug, and if it were not for that kind
of humbug, I should never have been born.

ERIC. What do you mean?

JORGHEN. Oh, you know perfectly well that my father was a monk who went
off and got married when they closed the monasteries. It means that
I'm a product of perjury and incest, as my father broke his oath and
established an illicit relationship like any unclean sheep.

ERIC. You _are_ a beast, Jorghen!

JORGHEN. Have I ever denied it?

ERIC. No, but there are limits....

JORGHEN. Where?

ERIC. Here and there! A certain innate sense of propriety generally
suggests the--approximate limits.

JORGHEN. Are you dreaming again, you dreamer?

ERIC. Take care! There are limits even to friendship....

JORGHEN. No, mine is limitless!

        JACOB _is shown into the room by_ AGDA, _whose hand he presses_.

ERIC. [_Rising_] There you are at last, Jacob! You have kept me waiting
a long time, and just now I was longing for you.

JACOB. Pardon me, Prince, but my thoughts were so heavy that I did not
wish to bring them into a merry gathering.

ERIC. Yes, we are devilishly merry, Jorghen and I! This is Jorghen
Persson, you see--my secretary, and a very enlightened and clever man,
but a perfect rascal otherwise, as you can judge from his horrible
looks and treacherous eyes.

JORGHEN. At your service, my dear sir!

ERIC. Sit down and philosophise with us, Jacob. Of course, I promised
you pretty maidens, but we have only one here, and she is engaged.

JACOB. [_Startled_] What do you mean by--engaged?

ERIC. That she has bestowed her heart on somebody, so that you may save
yourself the trouble of searching her bosom for it.

JACOB. Are you talking of Agda?

ERIC. Do you know Agda the Chaste, who has told us that she would sell
her favours, but never give them away?

AGDA. My God, I never, never meant anything of the kind!

JACOB. No, she cannot possibly have meant it that way.

ERIC. She has said it.

JACOB. It must be a lie.

ERIC. [_His hand on his sword-hilt_] The devil, you say!

JORGHEN. A tavern brawl of the finest water! The words have been given
almost correctly, but they were not understood as they were meant.

ERIC. Do you dare to takes sides against me, you rascal?

JORGHEN. Listen, friends....

ERIC. _With_ a hussy _against_ your master....

JACOB. She's no hussy!

AGDA. Thank you, Jacob! Please tell them everything....

ERIC. Oh, there is something to tell, then? Well, well! [_To_ JORGHEN]
And you must needs appear as the defender of innocence!

        _He makes a lunge at_ JORGHEN, _who barely manages to get out
        of the way_.

JORGHEN. Why the deuce must you always come poking after me when
somebody else has made a fool of himself? Stop it, damn you!

Eric. [_To_ JACOB] So this is my rival! Ha-ha-ha! A fellow like you!
_Ventre-saint-gris!_

        _He loses all control of himself and finally sinks on a chair,
        seized with an epileptic fit_.

JACOB. Once you honoured me with your friendship, Prince, for which I
could only give you pity in return. As I did not wish to be false, I
asked you to let me go....

ERIC. [_Leaping to his feet_] Go to the devil!

JACOB. Yes, I am going, but first you must hear what I and Agda have in
common--something you can never understand, as you understand nothing
but hatred, and for that reason never can win love....

ERIC. _Diantre!_ And I who can have the virgin-queen, the proud maiden
of Britannia, at my feet any time I care ha-ha, ha-ha!

JACOB. King David had five hundred proud maidens, but for happiness he
turned to his humble servant's only wife....

ERIC. Must I hear more of that sort of thing?

JACOB. A great deal more!

ERIC. [_Rushing at_ JACOB] Die, then!

        _The guard enters by the rear door_.

CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD [_An old, white-bearded_ man]. Your sword, if you
please, Prince Eric!

ERIC. What is this?

CAPTAIN. [_Handing_ ERIC _a document_] The King's order. You are under
arrest....

ERIC. Go to the devil, old Stenbock!

CAPTAIN. That's not a princely answer to a royal command!

ERIC. Yes, talk away!

CAPTAIN. [_Goes up to_ ERIC _and forests the sword out of his hand;
then he turns him over to the guard_] Away with him! And put him in the
tower! That's order number one! [ERIC _is led toward the door_] Then
comes number two--Mr. Secretary! [_To the guard_] Put on the handcuffs!
And then--to the Green Vault with him! To-morrow at cockcrow--ten
strokes of the rod!

JORGHEN. [_As he is seized by the guard_] Must I be spanked because
_he_ won't go to bed?

ERIC. Do you dare to lay hands on the Heir Apparent? 'Sdeath!

CAPTAIN. God is still alive, and so is the King!--March on!----

        ERIC _and_ JORGHEN _are led out by the guard_.

CAPTAIN. [_To_ AGDA] And now you'll close your drink-shop. That's the
final word. And as there is no question about it, you need not make any
answer.

        _He goes out after the guard and the prisoners_.

JACOB. Always this titanic hand that is never seen and always felt!
Now it has been thrust out of a cloud to alter our humble fates. The
liberator of the country has descended during the darkness of night to
set my little bird free.--Will you take flight with me?

AGDA. Yes, with you--and far away!

JACOB. But where?

AGDA. The world is wide!

JACOB. Come, then!

_Curtain_.


[1] A subterranean vault in the Royal Palace at Stockholm used by the
thrifty King Gustavus for the storing of gold and silver and other
valuables. Compare the warning of Nils Söderby to Mons Nilsson's wife
in the first act: "Look out for the silver--the King is coming."

[2] The first wife of Gustavus was the Princess Catherine of
Saxe-Lauenburg, whom he married in 1531, and who died in 1535. She was
of a very peculiar temperament and caused much trouble between the King
and his relatives by her reckless talk. Prince Eric was born in 1533.

[3] This is an excellent illustration of the freedom taken by
Strindberg in regard to the actual chronology of the historical facts
he is using. Eric was little more than a year old when his mother died.
Strindberg knew perfectly well what he was doing, his reason being that
the motive ascribed to Eric's hatred of his father strengthens the
dramatic quality of the play in a very high degree.

[4] A peasant chieftain, who headed the most dangerous rebellion
Gustavus had to contend with during his entire reign. The southern
province of Småland had for years been the scene of peasant
disturbances when, in 1541, Dacke took command of the scattered
flocks and merged them into an army which defied the King's troops
for nearly two years. Dacke was as able as he was ambitious. He was
in communication with the German Emperor and other foreign enemies of
Gustavus, and on one occasion the latter had actually to enter into
negotiations with the rebel. In accordance with his invariable custom,
Gustavus did not rely on hired soldiery, but turned to the people of
the other provinces, explaining and appealing to them with such success
that a sufficient army was raised and Dacke beaten and killed in 1543.

[5] In his effort to reorganise the country and its administration
on a businesslike basis, Gustavus turned first to Swedes like Olavus
Petri and Laurentius Andreæ, his first chancellor. But these were as
independent of mind as he was himself, and there was not a sufficient
number of them. Then Gustavus turned to Germany, whence a host of
adventurers as well as able, honest men swarmed into the country. The
two best known and most trusted of these foreigners were Georg Norman,
who rendered valuable services in organising the civil administration,
and Conrad von Pyhy, said to be a plain charlatan named Peutinger, who
was made Chancellor of the Realm.



ACT III


        _The King's study. The background consists almost wholly of
        large windows, some of which have panes of stained glass.
        Several of the windows are open, and through these may be seen
        trees in the first green of spring. Mast tops with flying
        flags, and church spires are visible above the tops of the
        trees_.

        _Beneath the windows are benches set in the walls. Their seats
        are covered by many-coloured cushions_.

        _At the right, a huge open fireplace, richly decorated.
        The recently adopted national coat of arms appears on the
        mantelpiece. A door on the same side leads to the waiting-room_.

        _A chair of state with canopy occupies the centre of the left
        wall. In front of it stands a long oak table covered with
        green cloth. On the table are a folio Bible, an inkstand,
        candlesticks, a war-hammer, and a number of other things. A
        door on the same side, nearer the background, leads to the
        royal apartments_.

        _The floor is covered with animal skins and rugs_.

        _The walls display paintings of Old Testament subjects. The
        most conspicuous of these represents "The Lord appearing unto
        Abraham in the plains of Mamre." The picture of Abraham bears a
        strong resemblance to the King_.

        _An Arabian water-bottle of clay and a silver cup stand on a
        small cabinet_.

        _Near the door at the right hang a long and wide blue cloak and
        a big black felt hat. A short boar-spear is leaned against the
        wall_.

        _The_ KING, _lost in thought, stands by one of the open windows
        where the full sunlight pours over him. He has on a black dress
        of Spanish cut, with yellow linings that show in the seams and
        through a number of slits. Over his shoulders is thrown a short
        cloak trimmed with sable. His hair is blond, and his tremendous
        beard, reaching almost to his waist, is still lighter in
        colour._

        _The_ QUEEN _enters from the left. She wears a yellow dress
        with black trimmings_.


KING. [_Kissing her brow_] Good morrow, my rose!

QUEEN. A splendid morning!

KING. The first spring day after a long winter.

QUEEN. Is my King in a gracious mood to-day?

KING. My graciousness is not dependent on weather or wind.--Go on now!
Is it a question of Eric?

QUEEN. It is.

KING. Well, he has my good grace once more after having slept himself
sober in the tower. And Jorghen comes next, I suppose?

QUEEN. Yes.

KING. He, on the other hand, will not have my good grace until he
reforms.

QUEEN. But....

KING. He is bad through and through, and he is spoiling Eric. Whatever
may be the cause of his badness, I cannot dispose of it, but I can
check the effects. Have you any more protégés of the same kind?

QUEEN. I won't say anything more now.

KING. Then we can talk of something else. How is my mother-in-law?

QUEEN. Oh, you know.

KING. And Johan? Where is Johan?

QUEEN. He is not far away.

KING. I wish he were still nearer--nearer to me--so near that he could
succeed me when the time comes.

QUEEN. It is not right to think like that, and still less to talk like
that, when a higher Providence has already decided in favour of Prince
Eric.

KING. Well, I can't tell whether it was vanity that fooled me into
looking for a foreign princess or wisdom that kept me away from the
homes of our Swedish nobility--one hardly ever knows what one is doing.

QUEEN. That's true.

KING. But the feet that I became the brother-in-law of the Danish
king helped the country to get peace, and so nobody has any right to
complain.

QUEEN. The country first!

KING. The country first and last. That's why Eric must be married.

QUEEN. Do you really think he has any hopes with the English queen.

KING. I don't know, but we must find out--that is, without risking the
honour of the country. It is not impossible. We have had a British
princess on the throne before.

QUEEN. Who was that?

KING. Don't you know that Queen Philippa was a daughter of King Henry
IV?[1]

QUEEN. No, I didn't know that.

KING. Then I suppose you don't know, either, that the Folkungs were
among your ancestors, and that you are also descended from King
Waldemar, the Conqueror of Denmark?[2]

QUEEN. No, no! I thought the bloody tale of the Folkungs was ended long
ago.

KING. Let us hope it is! But your maternal ancestor was nevertheless
a daughter of Eric Ploughpenny of Denmark and had a son with her
brother-in-law, King Waldemar of Sweden, the son of Earl Birger....

QUEEN. Why do you tell me all these dreadful stories?

KING. I thought it might amuse you to know that you have royal blood in
your veins, while I have peasant blood. You are too modest, Margaret,
and I wish to see you exalted--so high that that fool Eric will be
forced to respect you.

QUEEN. To have sprung from a crime should make one more modest.

KING. Well, that's enough about that. Was there anything else?

        _The_ QUEEN _hesitates_.

KING. You are thinking of Anders Persson and Mons Nilsson, but I won't
let you talk of them.

        _The_ QUEEN _kneels before him_.

KING. Please, get up! [_As she remains on her knees_] Then I must leave
you. [_He goes out to the left_.

        PRINCE ERIC _enters from the right; he is pale and unkempt, and
        his face retains evidence of the night's carouse_.

        _The_ QUEEN _rises, frightened_.

ERIC. Did I scare you?

QUEEN. Not exactly.

ERIC. I can take myself out of the way. I was only looking for a glass
of water.

        _He goes to the water-bottle, fills a cup full of water and
        gulps it down; then another, and still another_.

QUEEN. Are you sick?

ERIC. [_Impertinently_] Only a little leaky.

QUEEN. What do you mean?

ERIC. Well, dry, if you please. The more wine you drink, the dryer gets
your throat. The wetter, the dryer--that's madness, like everything
else.

QUEEN. Why do you hate me?

ERIC. [_Cynically_] Because I am not allowed to love you. [_In the
meantime he continues to pour down one glass of water after the other_]
You must not be in love with your step-mother and yet you must love
her: that's madness, too.

QUEEN. Why do you call me stepmother?

ERIC. Because that's the word, and that's what you are. Is that clear?
If it is, then that isn't madness at least.

QUEEN. You have the tongue of a viper.

ERIC. And the reason, too.

QUEEN, But no heart!

ERIC. What could I do with it? Throw it at the feet of the women to be
defiled by them?--My heart lies buried in my mother's coffin in the
vault of the Upsala cathedral. I was only four years old when it was
put there, but there it lies with her, and they tell me there was a
hole in her head as if she had been struck by the hammer of Thor--which
I did not see, however. When I asked to see my mother for the last
time at the burial, they had already screwed on the coffin lid. Well,
there lies my heart--the only one I ever had What have you to do with
my entrails, for that matter? Or with my feelings?--Look out for my
reason; that's all! I grasp your thoughts before you have squeezed
them out of yourself. I understand perfectly that you would like to
see the crown placed on the red hair of that red devil whom you call
son, and whom I must needs call brother. He insists that he has more
ancestors than I, and that he is descended from Danish kings. If that's
so, he has a lot of fine relatives. Eric Ploughpenny had his head cut
off. Abel killed his brother and was killed in turn. Christoffer was
poisoned. Eric the Blinking was stuck like a pig.--I have no elegant
relatives like those, but if heredity counts, I must keep an eye on my
dear brother.

QUEEN. Nobody can talk of anything but blood and poison to-day. The sun
must have risen on the wrong side this fine morning!

ERIC. The sun is a deceiver; don't trust it. Blood will be shed in this
place before nightfall. Eric and Abel were the names of those elegant
relatives; not Cain and Abel! And that time it was Abel who killed
Cain--no, Eric, I mean! That's a fine omen to start with! Eric was
killed! Poor Eric!

QUEEN. Alas, alas!

ERIC. But it is of no use to take any stock in superstition, as I
entered this vale of misery with my fist full of blood.

QUEEN. Now you do scare me!

ERIC. [_Laughing_] That's more than Jorghen would believe--that I
could scare anybody.

QUEEN. What blood is to be shed here to-day?

ERIC. I am not sure, but it is said that those Dalecarlians will have
their heads cut off.

QUEEN. Can it not be prevented?

ERIC. If it is to be, it cannot be prevented, but must come as thunder
must come after lightning. And besides, what does it matter? Heads are
dropping off here like ripe apples.

        _The_ KING _enters reading a document. The_ QUEEN _meets him
        with a supplicating look_.

KING. [_Hotly_] If you have any faith in me at all, Margaret, cease
your efforts to judge in matters of state. I have been investigating
for two years without being able to make up my mind. How can you, then,
hope to grasp this matter?--Go in to the children now. I have a word
to say to Eric!

        _The_ QUEEN _goes out_.

KING. If you could see yourself as you are now, Eric, you would despise
yourself!

ERIC. So I do anyhow!

KING. Nothing but talk! If you did despise yourself, you would change
your ways.

ERIC. I cannot make myself over.

KING. Have you ever tried?

ERIC. I have.

KING. Then your bad company must counteract your good intentions.

ERIC. Jorghen is no worse than anybody else, but he has the merit of
knowing himself no better than the rest.

KING. Do you bear in mind that you are to be king some time?

ERIC. Once I am king, the old slips will be forgotten.

KING. There you are mistaken again. I am still paying for old slips.
However, if you are not willing to obey me as a son, you must obey me
as a subordinate.

ERIC. The Heir Apparent is no subject!

KING. That's why I used the word "subordinate." And all are subordinate
to the King.

ERIC. Must I obey blindly?

KING. As long as you are blind, you must obey blindly. When you get
your sight, you will obey with open eyes. But obey you must!--Wait only
till you have begun to command, and you will soon see how much more
difficult that is, and how much more burdensome.

ERIC. [_Pertly_] Pooh!

KING. [_Angrily_] Idiot!--Go and wash the dirt off yourself, and see
that your hair is combed. And rinse that filthy mouth of yours first of
all, so that you don't stink up my rooms. Go now--or I'll give you a
week in the tower to sober up. And if that should not be enough, I'll
take off your ears, so that you can never wear a crown. Are those words
plain enough?

ERIC. The law of succession....

KING. I make laws of that kind to suit myself! Do you understand
now?--That's all!--Away!

        PRINCE ERIC _goes out_.

COURTIER. [_Enters from the right_] Herman Israel, Councillor of
Luebeck!

KING. Let him come.

        _The_ COURTIER _goes out_. HERMAN ISRAEL _enters shortly
        afterward_.

KING. [_Meets him and shakes his hand; then he puts his arm about his
neck and leads him across the floor in that manner]_ Good day, my dear
old friend, and welcome! Sit down, sit down! [_He seats himself on the
chair of state, and_ ISRAEL _sits down across the table_] So you have
just come from Dalecarlia?

ISRAEL. That's where I was lately.

KING. I was there, too, as you know, to straighten out the mess left
after the False Sture and the fight about the bells, but you stayed on
when I left.--Did you keep an eye on Master Olavus Petri? What sort of
a man has he turned out? Can I trust him?

ISRAEL. Absolutely! He is not only the most faithful, but the cleverest
negotiator I have seen.

KING. Really, Herman? I am glad to hear that. Do you really think so,
Herman? Well, you know the old affair between him and me, and how that
was settled. But it _was_ settled!--So much for that. Let us talk of
our affairs now.

ISRAEL. As you say. But let us keep our words as well as actions under
control.

KING. [_Playing with the war-hammer_] All right! Control yours as much
as you please.

ISRAEL. [_Pointing at the hammer_] For the sake of old friendship and
good faith, can't we put that away?

KING. Ha-ha! With pleasure, if you are afraid of it, Herman!--Go on
now! But cut it short!

ISRAEL. Then I'll start at the end. The country's debt to Luebeck has
been paid, and we are about to part.

KING. That sounds like writing! However, we shall part as friends.

ISRAEL. As allies rather....

KING. So _that's_ what you are aiming at, Israel?--No, I have had
enough of dependence.

ISRAEL. Listen, your Highness, or Majesty, or whatever I am to call
you....

KING. Call me Gustav, as you used to do when I called you father.

ISRAEL. Well, my son, there are many things that drive us apart--many,
indeed--but there is one thing that keeps us together: our common,
legitimate opposition to the Emperor....

KING. Right you are! And that's the reason why we can rely on each
other without any written treaties.

ISRAEL. You forget one thing, my son: that I am a merchant....

KING. And I the customer. Have you been paid?

ISRAEL. Paid? Yes.... But there are things that cannot be paid in
money....

KING. It is for me to speak of the gratitude I owe you and the free
city of Luebeck ever since the day I first came to you--a young man
who thought himself deserted by God, and who knew himself deserted
by all humanity. Be satisfied to find my gratitude expressed in the
friendly feelings I harbour and show toward you. A debt like that
cannot be paid in money, and still less in treaties.--Why do you want
any treaties? In order to tie me and the country for a future of
uncertain duration?--Don't force me to become ungrateful, Herman! On my
soul, I have enough as it is to burden me--far too much!

ISRAEL. What is weighing on you, my son?

KING. This.... Oh, will you believe me, Herman, old friend, that
lawyer form a decision or pass a judgment without having turned to the
Eternal and Almighty Lord for advice? When, after fasting, prayer, and
meditation, I have got the answer from above that I was asking for,
then I strike gladly, even if it be my own heart-roots that must be cut
off. But you remember Master John.... John, the old friend of my youth,
who assisted me in that first bout with Christian? He changed heart and
incited the Dalecarlians to rise against me. His head had to fall, and
it did fall! [_Rising_] Since that day my peace is gone. My nearest and
dearest don't look at me in the same way they used to do. My own wife,
my beloved Margaret.... She turns away from me when I want to kiss her
pure brow, and can you imagine? Yesterday, at the dinner-table, she
kept looking at my hand as if she had seen blood on it!--I don't regret
what I did. I have no right to regret it. I was right--by God, I was
right! But nevertheless--my peace is gone!

ISRAEL. [_Pensively_] Those feelings are an honour to your heart, my
son, and I must admit that I didn't think you quite as sensitive....

KING. Never mind! It was not meant as a boast. But now I find myself in
the same situation again. Tell me, Herman, what you think of Anders
Persson and Mons Nilsson.

ISRAEL. [_Disturbed_] Will my opinion have any influence on their fate,
or have you already made up your mind?

KING. I am still in doubts, as you ought to know.

ISRAEL. Then I must ask permission to remain silent.

KING. Are you my friend?

ISRAEL. Yes, up to a certain point. But you must not trust me too far,
as I am not my own master and have no right to give away what is not
mine.

KING. Fie on such astuteness!

ISRAEL. You should get some of it yourself!

KING. I'll try.--First of all you must give me a final receipt for the
country's paid-up debt.

ISRAEL. I don't carry such documents with me, and the receipt has to be
signed by the Council in regular session.

KING. [_Smiting the table with the hammer_] Herman!

ISRAEL. Please put that thing away!

KING. I can see that you wish to lead me where I don't want to go. You
have some purpose in mind that I can't make out. Speak out, old man, or
you'll have me in a rage! You want to coax me into signing some kind of
paper. What is it?

ISRAEL. Nothing but a treaty providing for mutual friendship and mutual
trade. That's all!

KING. And that I will never sign! I know all about Luebeck's friendship
as well as its trade. Talk of something else!

ISRAEL. I have nothing else to talk of. Why don't you believe me?

KING. Because you lie!

ISRAEL. Because you are unfortunate enough to think that I lie, you
will never know the truth.

KING. Yes, unfortunate, indeed--as unfortunate as a man can be, for I
have not a single friend.

ISRAEL. It hurts me to hear you talk like that, Gustav, and--and it
makes me sad to see that your greatness and your exalted office have
brought you so little true happiness. I shall say nothing more about
gratitude, because the idea of it is too vague in human minds, but I
have loved you like a son ever since that hour when the Lord of Hosts
put your fate in my hands. I have followed your brilliant course as
if it had been my own. I have joyed over your successes, and I have
sorrowed over your sorrows.... Frequently my duties toward my own
people have kept me from lending you a helping hand. Frequently, too,
your own hardness has stood between us. But now, when I behold you so
deeply crushed, and when you have treated me with a confidence that
I may well call filial, I shall forget for a moment that I am your
enemy--which I must be as a man of Luebeck, while as Herman Israel I am
your friend. I shall forget that I am a merchant, and--[_Pause_] I hope
that I may never regret it--[_Pause_] and--and.... Do you know John
Andersson?

KING. I don't.

ISRAEL. But I do, and I know Anders Persson and Mons Nilsson, too! They
called on me yesterday, and--to-morrow the southern provinces will rise
in rebellion!

KING. So _that's_ what was coming? Oh! Who is John Andersson?

ISRAEL. Hard to tell. But back of his face appears another one that
looks like the devil's own. Have you heard the name of Dacke?

KING. Yes, but only in a sort of dream. Dacke?--Dacke?--It sounds like
the cawing of a jackdaw.--Who is he?

ISRAEL. Nobody knows. It is the name of one invisible, whom all know
and none have seen. But that name has been seen on a letter signed
by--the Emperor.

KING. The Emperor?

ISRAEL. The Emperor of the Holy Roman and German Empire!

KING. Fairy-tales!

ISRAEL. You won't believe me? Investigate!

KING. I believe you and I thank you!--You say that Anders Persson and
Mons Nilsson have been plotting with the rebels right here in my own
city?

ISRAEL. As surely as I have ears to hear with.

KING. My God! My God!--Then I know what to do with them! Two years of
struggle with myself and my conscience, and at last I know what to do
with them! At last!

COURTIER. [_Bringing in_ JACOB ISRAEL] Jacob Israel of Luebeck!

KING. Who dares to disturb me?

JACOB. [_Throwing himself at the_ KING'S _feet without noticing his
father_] My noble King, an humble youth has ventured to disturb you
because your life is at stake!

KING. Speak up! What more? Who are you?

JACOB. I am Jacob Israel, your Highness.

KING, [_to_ ISRAEL] It's your Jacob, is it not?

        JACOB _is thunderstruck at the sight of his father_.

ISRAEL. It's my boy.

KING. What do you want? Speak quickly, or away with you!

        JACOB _does not answer_.

KING. Who is after my life? If you mean John Andersson or Dacke, I know
it already.--For the sake of your good intention and your youth, but
particularly for the sake of your father, I shall forgive you.

ISRAEL. But I have no right to forgive so quickly.--You came here to
accuse your father? Answer me yes or no.

JACOB. Yes!

ISRAEL. Go then, and take my curse with you!

JACOB. [_Kneeling before_ ISRAEL] Forgive, father!

ISRAEL. No more your father! You silly, impudent youth, who think that
you understand the art of statesmanship and the laws of honour better
than he who brought you into the world! What you did not foresee was
that I might change my mind.

KING. Oh, forgive him, Herman!

ISRAEL. I have forgiven him already, but our sacred laws will never
do so. Take this ring, Jacob, and go to--you know whom!--But bid me
good-bye first.

JACOB. [_Throwing himself into the arms of his father_] Take away your
curse, father!

        ISRAEL _wets one of his fingers, makes a sign with it on his
        son's forehead, and mutters a few inaudible words. Then he
        kisses_ JACOB _on both cheeks and leads him to the door at the
        right, through which the young man disappears_.

KING. What are you two doing?

ISRAEL. [_Deeply stirred_] That is a family secret. Now we can go on.

KING. Or quit. You have given me proof of your unswerving friendship,
Herman, and I thank you for the last time. Give me your hand!

ISRAEL. Not to promise anything that cannot be kept!

KING. No promises, then! Farewell, and peace be with you!

ISRAEL. [_Moved_] I thank you!

KING. What is that? You are crying?

ISRAEL. Perhaps, for now I am your equal in misfortune. I have lost my
son!

KING. He'll come back to you.

ISRAEL. [_As he is leaving_] Never!--Good-bye!

KING. [_Escorting him to the door_] Good-bye, Herman, old friend!

        HERMAN ISRAEL _goes out_.

        _The_ KING'S MOTHER-IN-LAW _enters from the left in the white
        dress of a Cistercian nun_.

KING. [_Greeting her kindly_] Good morning, mother-in-law.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Are you busy?

KING. Very much so.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. But not so much that you cannot hear the justified
complaint of a subject.

KING. You are too modest. However, let me decide whether your complaint
be justified or no. I must hear too many unjustified ones, God wot!

MOTHER-IN-LAW. If I condescend to make a complaint, you may be sure
that I have reasons for it.

KING. But they must be good. Most reasons are no good at all.--Is it a
question of Anders Persson and Mons Nilsson?

MOTHER-IN-LAW. No, of myself.

KING. Then you should be well informed at least.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Is there law and justice in this country?

KING. Both law and justice, but also a lot of wrong-doing.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Do you know that the Queen's mother--that is, I--has
been insulted by the mob?

KING. No, I didn't know, but I have long expected it, as I have told
you before this.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. You think it right, then?...

KING. No, I think it wrong of you to wear that dress in public, when
it is forbidden. And it is only out of respect for yourself and
your--hm!--sex, that I have not long ago ordered you to be stripped of
it.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Ha-ha!

KING. And it has been wrong of me to leave the Convent of Vreta
standing for you to live in, when the law demands that it be tom down.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Ha-ha!

KING. Since you, by persuading me into letting the convent remain, have
placed me before the public in the awkward position of a perverter
of justice, you should, at least, show me the consideration of not
appearing on the streets in that dress. And as I have given you
permission to come here _at your own risk_, you must bear that risk
yourself. To show you that justice exists, however, I shall see that
those who insulted you be found--they had no right to insult you, even
if you had been the humblest woman of the people. Now that matter is
settled! [_He goes to the door at the right and summons the_ COURTIER,
_who appears in the doorway_] Call four of the guards. Put two at
that door [_indicating the door at the left_] and two at the other
[_indicating the right-hand door_.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Thus I am treated like a thief and a murderer by my own
kinsman....

KING. No, you are not! But no one knows what may happen.... It depends
on your own conduct.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. [_With a threat in her glance_] Do you call that freedom?

KING. It is freedom for me--to be free from unreasonable people.

        _Two guards enter from the right_.

KING. [_Pointing at the left-hand door_] Outside that door. And no
one can get in here; literally no one! [_As the guards hesitate_]
If anybody should come, whoever it be--whoever it be, mind you--and
try to force his way in here, cut him down--cut him down! [_To his_
MOTHER-IN-LAW] I cannot show you the door, but I must warn you that two
executions will take place in this room within a few minutes.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Here?

KING. Yes, here! Do you wish to look on?

MOTHER-IN-LAW. [_Approaching the door at the left_] I shall go in a
moment, but first you must hear something for your own benefit....

KING. If it is for _my_ benefit, I can guess the nature of it. Well,
spit it out now!

MOTHER-IN-LAW. This man Herman Israel, whom you regard as a friend, is
speaking ill of you on your back.

KING. When I do what's ill, he has the right to speak ill of me--has he
not?

MOTHER-EN-LAW. [_Going out in a huff_] Oh, it's impossible to reason
with you!

KING. Have you really discovered that at last?--At last! [_He goes to
the door at the right_] Let Master Olavus Petri come in.

        MASTER OLAVUS _enters_.

KING. Good day, Olof. I have read your report on the conditions at
Copperberg, and I am pleased with you.--Have Anders Persson and Mons
Nilsson been arrested?

OLAVUS. They have been locked up since last night.

KING. [_Goes to the door at the right_] Order Anders Persson and Mons
Nilsson to be brought up here at once. [_To_ OLAVUS] Have you any proof
that the prisoners have been plotting with John Andersson?

OLAVUS. Proof and witnesses.

KING. Good!--Tell me something What do you think of Herman Israel--as a
man, and more particularly in his relationship to me?

OLAVUS. He seems to me a good and faithful friend of your Highness.
As a private person he is honest in every respect, big-minded, and
straight in all his actions.

KING. I am glad to hear it just now, when I have all but lost my faith
in friendship. So you think I can rely on him?

OLAVUS. Absolutely.

KING. Have you heard of the restlessness in the southern provinces?

OLAVUS. Yes, I am sorry to say.

KING. They say that it is pretty serious.

OLAVUS. So serious that nothing but quick and determined action can
save the country.

KING. Have you heard the Emperor's name mentioned in this connection?

OLAVUS. I have.

KING. I want a piece of advice, although I may not take it. What would
you, in my place, do with Anders Persson and Mons Nilsson?

OLAVUS. Have them executed before the sun has set.

KING. You are a stem man, Olof!

OLAVUS. Yes, why not?

KING. Do you think you could sleep nights--having shown that kind
of--sternness?

OLAVUS. Only then should I be able to sleep in peace....

KING. Very well!--Have you anything to ask me about?

OLAVUS. I have--but it's a delicate question.

KING. Let's see!

OLAVUS. It concerns the mother of the Queen....

KING. The people are muttering?

OLAVUS. The people think that when the King has ordered the
introduction of a new faith, he should not for family reasons overlook
the violation of the established law....

KING. It's not the people, but you, who are saying that....

OLAVUS. Suppose I took the liberty of telling my King the truth....

KING. You're no court fool who needs to run about dropping truths
wherever you go! [_Pause_] Now, I am willing to admit that the
indiscretion of my gracious mother-in-law puts me in a false position
toward the adherents of the new faith.... But this is not the
bedchamber, and we'll let that question stay where it belongs; back of
the bed curtains. Is there anything else?

OLAVUS. Nothing else. But this question....

KING. [_Hotly_] I'll solve myself!

OLAVUS. Can your Highness solve it?

KING. I think you ask too many questions!

OLAVUS. If it were a private matter, yes--but as it concerns the whole
country....

KING. Which I am looking after! I am looking after the whole country.
And if you must know, I have just settled that very question, so that
your advice is a little belated. The Convent of Vreta will be closed
before you have time to write another sermon. Do you realise now that I
have a right to be angry with your needless and unsolicited questions?

OLAVUS. I stand corrected!

KING. I have got you on account of my sins, and I suppose I must take
your faults with your merits, which are great. Now we are done with
_that I_ Go back and roar in your pulpit now. Here I do the roaring!

        MASTER OLAVUS _goes out by the door at the right_.

KING. [_Standing in front of that door with folded hands and speaking
in a barely audible voice_] Eternal Lord, who rules the destinies of
princes and of peoples, illumine my mind and strengthen my will, so
that I may not judge unrighteously! [_He makes the sign of the cross
and mutters a brief prayer; then he opens the door_] Bring in the
prisoners!

        _The door remains open while the_ KING _seats himself in the
        chair of state_.

        ANDERS PERSSON _and_ MONS NILSSON _are brought in_. _They look
        around the room uneasily at first; then they start toward the_
        KING.

KING. Stay where you are! [_Pause_] Once I called you my friends,
Anders Persson and Mons Nilsson. You know why. But that was long ago.
I let you keep life and goods when you had forfeited both, and thus
Providence rid me mercifully of the debt of gratitude I had come to owe
you. Two years ago you withdrew your oath of loyalty and opened war on
me for the sake of those bells. Being victorious, I had a right to your
heads, but I let you go. That's how my debt was paid. Your ingratitude
wiped out my gratitude, and so _that_ bill was settled. Now the time
has come for a new settlement, and this time the balance is against
you. To find out just where you stood, I invited you to my capital, and
you might have guessed that I would keep my eyes on you. My ears have
been open, too, and I have learned that you have begun plotting all
over again. Do you know John Andersson?

ANDERS _and_ MONS. No!

KING. [_Rising and approaching them angrily_] Do you know Dacke?

ANDERS _and_ MONS. [_Falling on their knees_] Mercy!

KING. Yes, mercy! But there will be no more mercy. You have had it
once, and twice is too much.

        ANDERS _and_ MONS _make movements to speak_.

KING. Silence! I am doing the speaking now! You were going to talk
about friendship, of course. I cannot be the friend of my enemies,
and having cancelled your acquaintance, I don't even know you. Were
I to let old devotion influence my judgment, I should not be acting
as an unbiassed judge. And he who has incurred the disfavour of the
law cannot be helped by any favour of mine! That's enough words spent
on this matter! [_Goes to the door at the right_] Take away these
culprits, guard!

ANDERS. What is the sentence?

KING. That you lose life, honour, and property.

        MONS _makes a gesture as if wishing to shake hands with the_
        KING.

KING. _My_ hand? Oh, no! Shake hands with the heads-man, and kiss the
block--that's good enough for you!

ANDERS. One word!

KING. Not one!

        ANDERS PERSSON _and_ MONS NILSSON _are led out_.

        _The_ KING _turns his back on them and goes to the chair of
        state, where he sinks down, burying his face in his hands_.

_Curtain_.


[1] Philippa of England, who died in 1430, was the queen of Eric of
Pomerania, who succeeded the great Queen Margaret on the united thrones
of the three Scandinavian kingdoms. She was as sweet and fine as he was
stupid and worthless, and to this day her memory survives among the
people.

[2] The Folkungs were the descendants of the puissant Earl Birger of
Håtuna, who, as an uncrowned king, ruled Sweden in very much the same
spirit as King Gustavus himself. The Folkung dynasty reigned from 1250
to 1389--and spent much of that time in fighting among themselves. King
Waldemar II gained the name of "Conqueror" by adding Esthonia and other
Baltic districts to Denmark.



ACT IV



FIRST SCENE


        _A square at the foot of Brunkeberg, A fountain stands in the
        centre. The Hansa House appears at the right. It is built of
        red bricks, with windows in Gothic style. The windows are
        barred outside and have shutters within. The gates are fastened
        with heavy wooden beams. Above the gateway appear the flag and
        coat of arms of Luebeck._

        _At the left is a tavern with a sign-board bearing the
        inscription: "The Golden Apple." There are trees in front of
        it, and under these tables and benches. Next the foreground is
        a bower with a table and benches within it_.

        _The hillside of Brunkeberg forms the background. It contains a
        number of gallows, wheels, and similar paraphernalia._

        _There is a bench in front of the Hanseatic office_.

        AGDA _and_ KARIN _are standing at the fountain when the curtain
        rises_. AGDA _carries a water-jar, while_ KARIN _has a basket
        full of flowers and wreaths_.


AGDA. You ask what that big red house is? It used to be the Convent of
St. Clara. Now it is the Hanseatic office.

KAREN. Do they ever buy any flowers there?

AGDA. Not now, I think. I used to bring flowers there when an image of
the Virgin Mary stood at the corner.--I wish she were there still!

KARIN. What do they do in that house? They tell so many queer stories
about it, and no one is ever admitted....

AGDA. Have you heard that, too? I suppose they buy and sell, like all
that come from Luebeck.

KARIN. Of course, but they say that people have disappeared in that
house and that those who live there are heathens who sacrifice....

AGDA. You have heard that, too? But it can't be true! Do you think so?

KARIN. How could I tell? And why are you so disturbed by those stories?
[AGDA _does not reply_] Gossip says that you used to have a friend in
there. Is it true?

AGDA. Well, as you have heard about it But whether he still be there
Oh, if I only knew!

KARIN. I'll ring and ask.

AGDA. No, no! You don't know what kind of people they are!

KARIN. Do you think they'll eat me? [_She goes up to the gateway and
putts a string; a bell is heard ringing inside_] Listen! That's the old
vesper bell! I know it! Bing-bong! Bing-bong!

AGDA. Stop it! Somebody might come.

KARIN. Isn't that what we want? But no one does come, my dear.--It's
a gruesome place. And I shall leave it alone now.--Do you know Prince
Eric, Agda?

AGDA. Yes, it was on his account they closed up the Blue Dove. Now I am
working over there, at the Golden Apple.

KARIN. They say that he used to be very polite to you.

AGDA. No, he was most impolite, not to say nasty.

KARIN. He had been drinking then. Otherwise he is merely miserable,
they say.

AGDA. Do you know him?

KARIN. No, I have only seen him, but I cannot forget his sad eyes and
his long face. He looks so much like a doll I had once--I called it
Blinkie Bloodless.... I suppose they are not kind to him at home,
either.

AGDA. Probably not, but a man has no right to act like a brute because
he is unhappy.

KARIN. Why do you talk like that? He drinks a lot of wine, like most
young men and Hush! Somebody is coming....

AGDA. Good-bye, Karin. I have to run....

        [_She hurries into the tavern at the left_.

KARIN. [_As she goes to the right_] I'll be back.

        PRINCE ERIC _and_ JORGHEN PERSSON _enter from the rear_.

ERIC. Here's my new well-spring of wine. Come quick to the bower here.

JORGHEN. And Agda is here, too!

ERIC. Well, what of it? [_Rapping on the table_.

        AGDA _appears_.

ERIC. [_To_ AGDA] Bring us some Rhine wine and then make yourself
invisible. [_To_ JORGHEN] You know, Jorghen, I am facing a crucial
moment and must be ready to act at once. The King has lost his reason
and is committing acts that cannot be defended! Yesterday he cut off
the heads of those Dalecarlians. To-day comes the news that his troops
have been beaten by the peasants of Småland, who are now crossing
Holaved Forest.[1] Now the Dalecarlians will rise, of course, and
everything is lost.

JORGHEN. What does that concern us? Let the world perish, and I shall
laugh at it.

ERIC. But this is what beats everything else for madness. Finding his
treasury empty, the King, in his incredible simplicity, tries to borrow
money from these Luebeckians, who are his enemies.

JORGHEN. Well, if you need money, your enemies are the best ones to
take it from.

ERIC. If I am not crazy already, you'll make me so! Please be serious a
moment!

JORGHEN. [_Recites_]

    "The ring of gold, and rattling dice,
    And wine brings light to tipsy eyes.
    But in the night, that light must lack,
    To wenches leads each crooked track."

        _At that moment_ AGDA _appears with the wine_.

ERIC. [_Laughing idiotically at_ JORGHEN'S _recitation_] Ha-ha! That's
a good one. But then, I made it myself.--Well, Agda, or Magda, or what
it is, where's your pawnbroker to-day?

        AGDA _does not reply_.

ERIC. Do you know that those Hanseatic people are in the habit of
butchering little boys and selling them to the Turk?

        AGDA. Is that true?

ERIC. There is some truth in it, I think.

JORGHEN. Let the maiden go before she begins to cry. I can't bear tears.

ERIC. I suppose you have never cried, Jorghen?

JORGHEN. Twice: when I was born, and once after that--out of rage.

ERIC. You are a beast, Jorghen.

        AGDA _goes back into the tavern_.

JORGHEN. However--you wish to figure out what is to happen, and to
form a decision on the basis of your false calculations. Have you not
noticed how all our plans are foiled? That's the game of the gods.
Sometimes we act wisely, and everything goes to the devil, and then
we act like fools, and everything turns out right. It's nothing but
humbug--all of it!

ERIC. I think so, too, and yet there must be some sort of sense in it.

JORGHEN. Not as far as I can see. It's just like dicing.

ERIC. Let the dice rattle, then!

JORGHEN. Let them rattle! That's the right word for it. Now it's a
question of head or tail, however--whether the King is to be the tail,
and the man from Småland the head.... Look, who comes here!

        KARIN _enters from the right_.

ERIC. [_Staring at her_] Who--is--that?

JORGHEN. A flower girl.

ERIC. No--this is--something else! Do you see?

JORGHEN. What?

ERIC. What I see--but, of course, you can't.

        KARIN _comes forward, kneels before_ ERIC _and offers him a
        wreath_.

ERIC. [_Rises, takes the wreath and places it on the head of_ KAREN;
_then to_ JORGHEN] Look! Now the wreath has been added to the crown.[2]

JORGHEN. What crown?

ERIC. Didn't you see? [_To_ KARIN] Get up, child! You should not be
kneeling to me, but I to you. I don't want to ask your name, for I
know who you are, although I have never seen you or heard of you
before.--What do you ask of me? Speak!

KAREN. [_Unaffectedly_] That your Grace buy my flowers.

ERIC. Put your flowers there. [_He takes a ring from one cf his fingers
and gives it to her_] There!

KARIN. No, I cannot wear that ring, your Grace--it's much too grand for
me. And if I try to sell it, I shall be seized as a thief.

ERIC. You are as wise as you are beautiful.

        [_He gives her money_.

KARIN. I thank your Grace, but it is too much.

ERIC. As you named no price, I can do so myself.

        KARIN _goes out. A long pause follows_.

ERIC. Did you see?

JORGHEN. Not a thing.

ERIC. Didn't you hear, either? Didn't you notice her voice?

JORGHEN. A voice like that of any jade--rather pert.

ERIC. Stop your tongue, Jorghen! I love her!

JORGHEN. She is not the first.

ERIC. Yes, the first, and the only one!

JORGHEN. Well, seduce her if you must.

ERIC. [_Drawing his sword_] Take care, or by God!...

JORGHEN. Have we now got to the poking point again?

ERIC. I don't know what has happened, but this moment has made me
despise you. The same city can't hold you and me. Your eyes defile me,
and your whole being stinks. I shall leave you, and I don't want to
see you face to face again.--It is as if an angel had come to take me
away from the habitations of the damned. I despise my whole past, as I
despise you and myself.

        [_He goes out in the same direction as_ KARIN _went before_.

JORGHEN. Seems to be serious this time. But I guess you'll come back.
[_He raps on the table_.

        AGDA _appears_.

JORGHEN. Do you know Karin, the flower girl?

AGDA. Yes, I do.

JORGHEN. What kind of a piece is she?

AGDA. A nice and decent girl, of whom I have never heard anything bad.

JORGHEN. Can you see anything beautiful about her?

AGDA. No, but she is rather pretty, and there is like a halo of
sweetness about her.

JORGHEN. Oh, it was that he saw, then!

AGDA. Tell me, secretary, are you really as hard as people say?

JORGHEN. I am not hard to anybody, child, but the world has been hard
to me ever since I was born.

AGDA. Why don't you always speak like that?

JORGHEN However, the Prince is enamoured, bewitched.

AGDA. Poor fellow!--Tell me, secretary, is the Prince quite right?

JORGHEN. You and your questions are very amusing. Let me ask you one
now. Hm! Do you think a woman could possibly--hm!--love me?

AGDA. No, I don't. [JORGHEN _looks offended_] Not unless you try to be
good.

JORGHEN. How the devil is that to be done?

AGDA. Shame! Shame!

JORGHEN. If you never see anything good, how can you believe in it?

AGDA. Tell me, secretary, did the Prince mean what he said about the
Hanseatic people and what they are doing in that house?

JORGHEN. No, child! That was only a cruel jest. But no Swedish
authority can interfere with what they are doing in there. That much
you should know, if you are worrying about your Jacob.

AGDA. Will you do me a favour? It won't cost you anything.

JORGHEN. With the greatest pleasure, my dear girl.

AGDA. Find Jacob for me! He had promised to meet me, and he never came.
We have been ringing the bell at the door, but no one answers.

JORGHEN. I don't want to hurt you, Agda, but unfortunately I have
reason to believe that all the Luebeck people have gone away on account
of the new rebellion.

AGDA. And he won't come back, you think?

JORGHEN. I don't like to prophesy, because it generally turns out the
other way, but I don't think he will be back soon.

AGDA. [_Sinking to the ground_] Lord Jesus!

JORGHEN. [_Rises and helps her to her feet_] What is it, girl?--Tell
me! [_in a lower voice_] A child?

AGDA. He had given me his promise.

JORGHEN. [_Genuinely moved_] Poor woman!

        AGDA _watches him closely_.

JORGHEN. Misery, always misery, wherever love gets in its work!

AGDA. And you don't despise me?

JORGHEN. I pity you, as I pity all of us.

AGDA. Can you see now that good exists?

JORGHEN. Where?

AGDA. Within yourself.

JORGHEN. Pooh!--Is there anything else I can do for you?

AGDA. Yes, secretary, if you would write to Luebeck and ask Jacob....

JORGHEN. I have not much use for love-affairs, but I'll write,
nevertheless, provided we find that he really has gone away.

AGDA. [_Tries to kiss his hand, which he pulls away_] Thank you!

JORGHEN. What are you doing, woman? I am no bishop!--But hush! Here
comes illustrious company. So I think I'll sneak off!

        _The stage has grown darker in the meantime_.

AGDA. Please, secretary, don't forget me now!

JORGHEN. So you don't trust me? Well, there is not much to trust in!
[_He goes out to the left_.

        _The_ KING _enters, wearing his big blue cloak and his soft
        black hat. He is using his boarspear as a staff._

        PRINCE JOHAN _is with him, dressed very simply, as if to avoid
        recognition_.

KING. [_Looking about_] Do you think we have been recognised?

JOHAN. No, I don't think so, father.

KING. Bing, then.

JOHAN. [_Putts the bell-rope outside the Hanseatic office]_ The bell
does not ring.

KING. Knock.

JOHAN. [_Rapping on the door_] Nobody seems to answer.

KING. [_Seating himself on the bench outside_] I must get hold of
Herman Israel this very evening--I must!

JOHAN. You are worried, father?

KING. I am certainly not at ease. [_Pause_.

JOHAN. Money cares again?

KING. Oh, don't talk of it!--Knock again.

JOHAN. [_Rapping at the door_] There is no one there.

        _A crowd of beggars enter and kneel in front of the_ KING _with
        hands held out in supplication_.

KING. Are you mocking me?

FIRST BEGGAR. We are perishing, my noble lord!

KING. I am perishing, too!--Why are you begging, anyhow?

SECOND BEGGAR. I'll tell you. Because the King has seized the tithes
that went to the poor before. And when he did so, he said: "You can
beg!"

KING. And what is he doing with the tithes of the poor?

FIRST BEGGAR. Paying Prince Eric's le-lecheries!

KING. No, paying the country's debt, you knaves! [_To_ JOHAN] Give them
money, so we get rid of them.

JOHAN. [_Distributing coins_] You'll have to share it between you, and
then away--at once!

        _The beggars leave_.

KING. I wonder who sent them? Somebody must have sent them!--Knock
again. [JOHAN _does so_] What unspeakable humiliation! You see, my son,
that no matter how high up you get, new and then you have to climb down
again. But of anything like this I never dreamt.

        [_He takes off his hat and wipes his forehead_.

JOHAN. May I speak?

KING. No, you may not, for I know what you mean to say.

        MONS NILSSON'S _widow enters, led by_ BARBRO. _Both are in
        mourning, and_ BARBRO _carries a document in her hand_.

BARBRO. [_To her mother_] That must be the Councillor himself.

WIDOW. Can that be Herman Israel who is sitting there? My eyes have
grown blind with sorrow.

BARBRO. It must be him.

        _The two women approach the_ KING.

BARBRO. [To _the_ KING] Are you the Councillor?

KING. What do you want of him?

BARBRO. Mr. Syndic, we are the bereaved dependents of Mons Nilsson, and
we have come to pray that you put in a good word for us with the King.

KING. Why do you think the Councillor's word will be of any help?

BARBRO. We have been told that he is the King's only friend, and we
thought he might help us to get back the property of which we have been
unjustly deprived.

KING. Unjustly, you say? As a traitor, Mons Nilsson was judged forfeit
of life _and_ goods--which was only just!

BARBRO. But the dower of the innocent widow should not have been taken
with the rest.

KING. What is your name?

BARBRO. I was baptised with the name of Barbro, and the King himself
acted as my godfather when he was in Dalecarlia at that time.

KING. [_Rises, but sits down again immediately_] Barbro?--Have you ever
seen the King?

BARBRO. Not since I was too small to know him. But the last time he
visited Copperberg, my father was expecting him, and we children were
to greet him with a song.

KING. What song was that?

BARBRO. I cannot sing since my father came to his death so miserably,
but it was a song about King Gustavus and the Dalecarlians, and this is
the way it ended:

    "You have by my side been fighting
    Like sturdy Swedish men.
    If God will spare my life-blood,
    I'll do you good in stead."

KING. Say something really bad about the King!

BARBRO. No, father told us we must never do that, no matter what we
might hear other people say.

KING. Did your father tell you that?

BARBRO. Yes, he did.

KING. Go in peace now. I shall speak to the King, and you shall have
your rights, for he wants to do right, and he tries to do it.

BARBRO. [_Kneels and takes hold of the_ KING'S _hand, which she
kisses_] If the King were as gracious as you are, Councillor, there
would be no cause for worry.

KING. [_Placing his hand on_ BARBRO'S _head_] He is, my child, and I
know that he won't refuse his goddaughter anything. Go in peace now!

        _The two women leave_.

KING. [_To_ JOHAN] Who can have sent them? Who?--Here I have to sit
like a defendant--I, the highest judge of the land!

JOHAN. May I say a word?

KING. No, because I can tell myself what you want to say. I can tell
that the hand of the Lord has been laid heavily upon me, although I
cannot tell why. If the Lord speaks through conscience and prayer, then
it is he who has made me act as I have acted. Why my obedience should
be punished, I cannot grasp. But I submit to a higher wisdom that lies
beyond my reason.--That girl was my goddaughter, and her father was my
friend, and I had to take his head.... Oh, cruel life, that has to be
lived nevertheless! [_Pause_] Knock again.

MARCUS. [_In travelling clothes, enters from the right_] Your Highness!
[_He kneels_.

KING. Still more?

MARCUS. A message from Herman Israel.

KING. At last!--Speak!

MARCUS. Herman Israel has this afternoon set sail for Luebeck.

KING. [_Rising_] Then I am lost!--God help me!

JOHAN. And all of us!

        _The_ KING _and_ JOHAN _go out_. MARCUS _goes over to the
        tavern and raps on one of the tables_.

AGDA. [_Appearing_] Is that you, Marcus?

MARCUS. Yes, Agda, it's me.

AGDA. Where is Jacob?

MARCUS. He has started on a journey--a very long one.

AGDA. Where?

MARCUS. I cannot tell. But he asked me to bring you his greeting and to
give you this ring.

AGDA. As a keepsake only, or as a plight of his troth?

MARCUS. Read what it says.

AGDA. [_Studying the ring_] Yes, I can spell a little "For ever," it
says. What does it mean?

MARCUS. I fear it means--farewell for ever.

AGDA. [_With a cry_] No, no, it means that he is dead!

        MARCUS _does not answer_.

AGDA. Who killed him?

MARCUS. The law and his own crime. He rebelled against his father and
his country.

AGDA. To save mine!--Oh, what is to become of me?

MARCUS. [_Shrugging his shoulders_] That's the way of the world.
Nothing but deceit and uncertainty.

AGDA. Alas, he was like all the rest!

MARCUS. Yes, all human beings are pretty much alike. He who is no worse
than the rest is no better, either. Good-bye!

_Curtain_.



SECOND SCENE


        _The study of_ MASTER OLAVUS PETRI. _There is a door on either
        side of the room_.

        OLAVUS _is writing at a table_.

        CHRISTINE _is standing beside the table with a letter in her
        hand._


CHRISTINE. Do I disturb you?

OLAVUS. [_Quietly and coldly_] Naturally, as I am writing.

CHRISTINE. Are you sure that you are writing?

OLAVUS. Absolutely sure.

CHRISTINE. But I have not seen your pen move for a long while.

OLAVUS. That was because I was thinking.

CHRISTINE. Once....

OLAVUS. Yes, once upon a time!

CHRISTINE. Can Reginald come in and say good-bye?

OLAVUS. Are we that far already?

CHRISTINE. The carriage is waiting and all his things have been packed.

OLAVUS. Let him come, then.

CHRISTINE. Are you certain that he is going to Wittenberg to study?

OLAVUS. I have seen too much uncertainty, as you know, to be certain of
anything. If you have reason to doubt the feasibility of his plans, you
had better say so.

CHRISTINE. If I had any doubts, I would not disturb you with them.

OLAVUS. Always equally amiable! Will you please ask Reginald to come
here?

CHRISTINE. I'll do whatever you command.

OLAVUS. And as I never command, but merely ask....

CHRISTINE. If you would command your precious son now and then, he
might be a little more polite and obedient to his mother.

OLAVUS. Reginald is hard, I admit, but you do wrong in trying to
educate him to suit your own high pleasure.

CHRISTINE. Do you side with the children against their parents?

OLAVUS. If I am not mistaken, I have always done so when the natural
rights of the children were concerned.

CHRISTINE. Have the children any natural rights to anything?

OLAVUS. Of course, they have! You haven't forgotten how we....

CHRISTINE. Yes, I have forgotten every bit of that old tommy-rot! I
have forgotten how you swore to love me. I have forgotten the noise
made about the pope's beard, and the stealing of the church silver,
and the humbug with the bells, and the _pure_ faith, and roast ducks
and cackling swans, and martyrs with a taste for fighting, and the
following of Christ with wine and women, and the scratching of eyes and
tearing of hair, until we now have twenty-five brand new faiths in
place of a holy Catholic Church.... I have forgotten every bit of it!

OLAVUS. Perhaps that was the best thing you could do. And will you
please ask Reginald to come here now?

CHRISTINE. Certainly, I'll ask him to come here, and it will be a great
pleasure to do so. [_She goes out to the left_.

OLAVUS. [_Alone, speaking to himself_] Happy she, who has been able to
forget! I remember everything!

CHRISTINE _returns with_ REGINALD.

REGINALD. I want mother to go out, because I can't talk when she is
here.

OLAVUS. There won't be so very much to talk about.

CHRISTINE. I won't say a word; only listen--and look at you. [_She
seats herself_.

REGINALD. No, you mustn't look at us.

OLAVUS. Be quiet, boy, and be civil to your mother! When you go
travelling, there is no telling whether you ever come back.

REGINALD. So much the better!

OLAVUS. [_Painfully impressed_] What's that?

REGINALD. I am tired of everything, and I just wish I were dead!

OLAVUS. Yes, that's the way youth talks nowadays!

REGINALD. And why? Because we don't know what to believe!

OLAVUS. Oh, you don't? And how about the articles of confession? Don't
you believe in them?

REGINALD. Believe, you say? Don't you know that belief comes as a grace
of God?

OLAVUS. Are you a Calvinist?

REGINALD. I don't know what I am. When I talk with Prince Johan, he
says I am a papist, and when I meet Prince Eric, he tells me I am a
follower of Zwingli.

OLAVUS. And now you wish to go to Wittenberg to learn the true faith
from Doctor Martin Luther?

REGINALD. I know his teachings and don't believe in them,

OLAVUS. Is that so?

REGINALD. To him belief is everything, and deeds nothing. I have
believed, but it didn't make my deeds any better at all, and so I felt
like a perfect hypocrite in the end.

OLAVUS. Is Prince Johan a Catholic?

REGINALD. So he must be, as he sticks to deeds, which ought to be the
main thing.

OLAVUS. And Prince Eric belongs to the Reformed Church, you say?

REGINALD. Yes, in so far as he believes in the dispensation of grace.
And Jorghen Persson must be a Satanist, I think. And young Sture is
absolutely an Anabaptist....

OLAVUS. Well, this is news to me! I thought the days of schism were
past....

REGINALD. Schism, yes--that's the word Prince Johan is using always. We
had a Catholic Church, and then....

OLAVUS. Oh, shut your mouth and go to Wittenberg!

REGINALD. As it is your wish, father--but I won't study any more
theology.

OLAVUS. Why not?

REGINALD. I think it is device of the devil to make people hate each
other.

CHRISTINE. Good for you, Reginald!

OLAVUS. And it had to come to this in my own house! _Pulchre, bene,
rede!_--Who, Reginald, do you think has caused this dissension under
which you young people are suffering now?

REGINALD. That's easily answered.

OLAVUS. Of course! We old ones, you mean? But we, too, were children of
our time, and were stripped of our faith by our prophets. Who is, then,
to blame?

REGINALD. No one.

OLAVUS. And what do you mean to do with your future?

REGINALD. My future? It appears to me like a grey mist without a ray
of sunlight. And should a ray ever break through, it will at once be
proved a will-o'-the-wisp leading us astray.

OLAVUS. That's just how I felt once! At your age I could see my whole
future as in vision. I foresaw the bitter cup and the pillory. And yet
I had to go on. I had to enter the mist, and I myself had to carry the
will-o'-the-wisp that _must_ lead the wanderers astray. I foretold this
very moment, even, when my son would stand before me saying: "Thus I
am, because thus you have made me!" You noticed, perhaps, that I was
not surprised--and this is the reason.

REGINALD. What am I to do? Advise me!

OLAVUS. You, no more than I, will follow the advices given you.

REGINALD. Inform me, then! Tell me: what is life?

OLAVUS. That's more than I know. But I think it must be a punishment
or an ordeal. At your years I thought I knew everything and understood
everything. Now I know nothing and understand nothing. For that reason
I rest satisfied with doing my duty and bearing what comes my way.

REGINALD. But I want to know!

OLAVUS. You want to know what is not allowed to be known. Try to know
and you will perish!--However, do you want to go or stay?

REGINALD. I am going to Wittenberg to pull Luther to pieces!

OLAVUS. [_Wholly without irony_] That's the way to speak! O thou
splendid youth with thy Alexandrian regret that there are no more
things to pull to pieces!

REGINALD. Are you not a Lutheran?

OLAVUS. I am a Protestant.

CHRISTINE. If you have finished now, I shall ask permission to tell in
a single word what Luther is--just one word!

OLAVUS. Oh, do, before you burst!

CHRISTINE. Luther is dead!

OLAVUS. Dead?

CHRISTINE. That's what my brother-in-law writes me in this letter from
Magdeburg.

OLAVUS. [_Rising_] Dead! [_To_ REGINALD] My poor Alexander, what will
you pull to pieces now?

REGINALD. First the universe, and then myself.

OLAVUS. [_Pushing him toward the door at the left_] Go ahead, then, but
begin with yourself. The universe will always remain.

CHRISTINE. [_As she rises and is about to go out with_ REGINALD] Will
there be peace on earth now?

OLAVUS. That will never be!--Let me have that letter.

        CHRISTINE _and_ REGINALD _go out to the left_.

        _While_ OLAVUS _is reading the letter, a hard knock is heard at
        the right-hand door_.

OLAVUS. Come!

        _The knock is repeated_. OLAVUS _goes to the door and opens it.
        The_ KING _enters, wearing his big hat and his cloak, which he
        throws of_.

OLAVUS. The King!

KING. [_Very excited_] Yes, but for how long? Do you know who Dacke
is?--A farm labourer who has killed a bailiff; a common thief and
incendiary, who is now writing to me with a demand of answer. I am
to take pen in hand and open correspondence with a scamp like him!
Do you know that he has crossed the Kolmord Forests and stands with
one foot in West Gothia and the other in East Gothia?--Who is back
of him? The Emperor, the Elector Frederick of the Palatinate, Magnus
Haraldsson, the runaway Bishop of Skara, the Duke of Mecklenburg. The
Emperor wishes to put the children of Christian the Tyrant back on the
throne.[3] But what troubles me more than anything else is to find the
Luebeckians and Herman Israel on the same side--my old friend Herman! I
ask you how it can be possible. And who has done this to me? Who?--Have
you not a word to say?

OLAVUS. What can I say, and what--_may_ I say?

KING. Don't be hard on me, Olof, and don't be vengeful, I am nothing
but an unfortunate human creature who has had to drink humiliation like
water, and I come to you as my spiritual guide. I am in despair because
I fear that the Lord has deserted me for ever.--What an infernal notion
of mine that was to take the head of the Dalecarlians just now, when I
am in such need of them! Do you think that deed was displeasing to the
Lord? But if I have sinned like David, you must be my Nathan.

OLAVUS. I have lost the power of prophecy, and I am not the right man
to inflict punishment.

KING. Console me, then, Olof.

OLAVUS. I cannot, because only those who repent can accept consolation.

KING. You mean that I have transgressed--that I have gone too far?
Speak up! But do it like a servant of the Lord, and not like a
conceited schoolmaster.... Have I gone too far?

OLAVUS. That is not the way to put the question. The proper way is to
ask whether the others have any right on their side.

KING. Go ahead and ask!

OLAVUS. Dacke is the mouthpiece of warranted dissatisfaction. Being
the brother-in-law of Christian II, the Emperor is the guardian of his
children, and they have inherited a claim to the Swedish throne, as
the constitution cannot be cancelled by a rebellion.[4] Bishop Magnus
Haraldsson is the spokesman of all the illegally exiled bishops.

KING. Illegally, you say?

OLAVUS. [_Raising his voice_] Yes, because the law of Sweden does not
drive any man away on account of his faith.

KING. Take care!

OLAVUS. Too late now!--The dissatisfaction of the peasants is
warranted, because the Riksdag at Vesterås authorised the King to seize
only the property of bishops and convents. When he took what belonged
to parish churches and private persons, he became guilty of a crime.

KING. You are a daring man!

OLAVUS. Nothing compared with what I used to be!--As far as Herman
Israel is concerned, he called recently on the King to offer a treaty
of friendship, and it was stupid of the King to reject it.

KING. Stop!

OLAVUS. Not yet!--The gold and silver of the churches was meant to pay
the debt to Luebeck, and much of it was used for that purpose, but a
considerable part found its way to Eskil's Chamber under the Royal
Palace, and has since been wasted on Prince Eric's silly courtships
among other things....

KING. The devil you say!

OLAVUS. Well, Queen Elizabeth is merely making fun of him.

KING. Do you know that?

OLAVUS. I do.--The bells were also to be used in payment of the debt to
Luebeck, but a part of them went to the foundry and were turned into
cannon, which was not right.

KING. Is that so?

OLAVUS. Add also that the Convent of Vreta was left unmolested
in violation of the ordinance concerning the closing of all such
places--and for no other reason than that the King's mother-in-law
happened to be a Catholic. This is a cowardly and mischievous omission
that has caused much bad blood.

KING. The convent is to be closed.

OLAVUS. It should be closed _now_, and it is not!--If I were to sum
up what is reprehensible in my great King, I should call it a lack of
piety.

KING. That's the worst yet! What do you mean?

OLAVUS. Piety is the respect shown by the stronger even if he be a man
of destiny--for the feelings of the weaker, when these spring from a
childlike, and for that reason religious, mind.

KING. Oh, is that what it is?

OLAVUS. Now I have said my say.

KING. Yes, so you have--time and again.

OLAVUS. And if my King had been willing to listen now and then, he
would have learned a great deal more. But it is a common fault of
princes that they won't listen to anybody but themselves.

KING. Well, I never heard the like of it! I am astounded--most of all
because I haven't killed you on the spot!

OLAVUS. Why don't you?

KING. [_Rises and goes toward_ OLAVUS, _who remains standing unabashed,
looking firmly at the approaching_ KING; _the latter withdraws backward
and sits down again; for a few moments the two men stare at each other
in silence; then the_ KING _says]_ Who are you?

OLAVUS. A humble instrument of the Lord, shaped to serve what is really
great--that marvellous man of God, to whom it was granted to unite all
Swedish men and lands.

KING. That was granted Engelbrecht, too, and his reward was the axe
that split his head.[5] Is that to be my reward, too?

OLAVUS. I don't think so, your Highness, but it depends on yourself.

KING. What am I to do?

OLAVUS. What you advised me to do when I was carried away by the zeal
of my youth.

KING. And you think it necessary to return that advice to me now?

OLAVUS. Why not? I have learned from life, and you have forgotten.

KING. What am I to do?

OLAVUS. Answer Dacke's letter.

KING. Never! Am I to bow down to a vagabond?

OLAVUS. The Lord sometimes uses mere vagabonds for our humiliation.
Picture it to yourself as an ordeal by fire.

KING. [_Rising and walking the floor_] There is truth in what you say.
I can feel it, but it does not fetch bottom in my mind. Say one word
more.

OLAVUS. Dacke will be right as long as you are in the wrong, and God
will be with him until you take your place on the side of right.

KING. I can't bend!

OLAVUS. Then you'll be broken by someone else.

KING. [_Walking back and forth_] Are you thinking of the Dalecarlians?
Have you heard of a rising among them on account of the executions?

OLAVUS. Such a thing has been rumoured.

KING. I am lost.

OLAVUS. Write to Dacke!

KING. [_Without conviction_] I won't.

OLAVUS. The Emperor does.

KING. That's true! If the Emperor can write to him, why shouldn't
I?--But it is perfectly senseless. Who is this mysterious man who never
appears?

OLAVUS. Perhaps another marvellous man of God--in his own way.

KING. I must see him face to face. I'll write and offer him
safe-conduct, so that I can talk with him. That's what I'll do.--Bring
me pen and paper! Or you write, and I'll dictate.

        OLAVUS _seats himself at the table_.

KING. How do we begin? What am I to call him?

OLAVUS. Let us merely put down "To Nils Dacke."

KING. Oh, his name is Nils? After St. Nicolaus, who comes with rods for
children on the sixth of December?[6] [_Pause_] Write now.... No, I'll
go home and do the writing myself.... Have you heard that Luther is
dead?

OLAVUS. I have, your Highness.

KING. He was a splendid man! May he rest in peace!--Yes, such as he
was, he was a fine man, but we got rather too much of him.

OLAVUS. Too many dogmas and not enough of religion.

KING. He was an obstinate fellow and went too far. What he needed was
a taskmaster like you to call him to terms now and then.

OLAVUS. I hope the time of schism and dissension will come to an end
now.

KING. A time of dissension you may well call it!--Good-bye, Olof. [_As_
OLAVUS _makes a mien of saying something_] Yes, yes, I _will_ write!

_Curtain_.


[1] A rough and inaccessible forest region on the eastern shore of Lake
Vettern, marking the border-line between the province of Småland in the
south and Ostergötland (East Gothia) in the north.

[2] As far back as we know the two principal ornaments of a Swedish
bride have been the crown--sometimes woven out of myrtle and sometimes
made of metal and semi-precious stones--and the wreath, always made of
myrtle.

[3] The Elector Frederick was a son-in-law of the deposed Christian II
of Denmark, and also one of the trusted liegemen of Emperor Charles V,
who hoped to see him the head of a reunited Scandinavia dominated by
German influences.

[4] Christian II was married to Isabelle, sister of Charles V.

[5] Engelbrecht Engelbrechtsson, a free miner of Dalecarlia, was the
first one of a series of notable chieftains who led the Swedish people
in their determination to rid the country of the Danish kings after
these had shown a growing inclination to treat Sweden as a Danish
province, and not as an independent kingdom, united on equal terms
with Denmark and Norway. At the head of the Dalecarlians, Engelbrecht
began the work of liberation in 1434, and was remarkably successful
in a short time. Unfortunately, he was treacherously and shamefully
killed while crossing the Lake Maelaren only two years later. To the
Swedes he has ever since been the symbol of their national independence
and unity, and he, the simple country squire, remains to this day one
of the most beloved and revered figures in Swedish history. It is to
him Barbro refers in the opening scenes of the play, and his name is
heard again in the closing scenes, with the appearance of his simpler
namesake.

[6] An old Swedish custom and superstition, prescribing that every
child must be spanked on the date mentioned in order to insure its
obedience during the whole ensuing year. That custom still survived
when the translator was a child, although for many decades the spanking
had been a mere formality serving as an excuse for some little gift or
treat.



ACT V



        _The terrace in front of the Royal Palace, with trimmed hedges,
        statuary, and a fountain. Chairs, benches, and tables are
        placed about. The near background shows a balustrade with
        Tuscan columns, on which are placed flowers in faïence pots.
        Beyond the balustrade appear tree tops, and over these tower
        the tops of masts, from which blue and yellow flags are flying.
        In the far background, a number of church spires_.

        _The_ MOTHER-IN-LAW _of the_ KING _is on the terrace in her
        Cistercian dress_.


QUEEN. [_Enters_] For the last time I beg you, mother, don't wear that
dress!

MOTHER-IN-LAW. It is my festive garb, and I am as proud of it as you of
your ermine robe.

QUEEN. What is the use of being proud? The day of disaster is upon us
all, and we must hold together.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Let us do so then, and have peace.

QUEEN. Yes, so you say, but you won't even change dress for the sake of
the country's peace.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. I don't change faith as you change clothes, and there is
a solemn vow to God connected with this dress. The people are making
threats against my life. Let them take it! I have my grave-clothes on.

QUEEN. Don't you know that we may have to flee this very day, if the
news should prove as bad as yesterday?

MOTHER-IN-LAW. I will not flee.

QUEEN. Everything has already been packed by order of the King, and our
sloop lies at the foot of the southern hills, ready to hoist sail.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. I have nothing to pack, because I own nothing. "Be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." That's what
I used to learn. But you have sold your birthright for a crown which
soon will no longer be yours.

QUEEN. Go on and punish me; it feels like a relief.

        PRINCE ERIC _appears on the terrace; his dress and appearance
        are orderly, and his mien subdued_.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Can you tell me what has come over Eric these last days?
He looks quite submissive, and something new has come into his face
that used to be so hard.

QUEEN. I don't know, but they say that he has changed his ways and
cannot bear the company of Jorghen. I have heard whispers about a
serious affection....

MOTHER-IN-LAW. No!

QUEEN. [_To_ ERIC] What news do you bring?

ERIC. [_Gently and respectfully_] No news at all, mother.

QUEEN. [_To her mother_] He called me mother! [_To_ ERIC] How fare you,
Eric? Is life heavy?

ERIC. Heavier than it was the day before yesterday.

QUEEN. What happened yesterday?

ERIC. What happens to a human being only once in a lifetime.--Are you
much wiser now?

QUEEN. [_To her mother_] How childlike he has grown! [_To_ Eric] Have
you heard anything of your friend Jacob?

ERIC. Yes, he was my real friend, and so they took his head.

QUEEN. Now you are unjust. There has been no attempt to take the head
of Jorghen....

ERIC. He is no longer my friend. [_Peevishly_] But now I don't want to
be questioned any longer, least of all about my secrets--that is, about
the secrets of my heart.

Queen. [_To her mother_] He is quite charming in his childishness.
Apparently he would love to talk of his secret.

        PRINCE JOHAN _enters_.

ERIC. [_Going to meet him_] Soon we may have nothing left to fight
over, brother Johan, and so--it seems to me we may as well be friends.

JOHAN. With a right good heart, brother! Nothing could give me greater
pleasure.

ERIC. Give me your hand! [_They shake hands_] I don't want to be the
enemy of any human being after this.

        [_He goes out, deeply moved_.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. [_To_ Johan] What's the matter with Eric?

JOHAN. He has found a sweetheart, they say.

QUEEN. What did I say?

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Are you coming with me to the mass in the chapel, Johan?
[_When_ JOHAN _hesitates and does not answer, she says sharply_] Johan!

QUEEN. Mother!

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Is he free to follow his conscience, or is he not?

QUEEN. If you will leave his conscience alone, he will be free.

MOTHER-IN-LAW. Well, I am going, and you know where, Johan. [_She goes
out_.

QUEEN. Johan!

JOHAN. What do you wish?

QUEEN. That you do not desert your childhood faith.

JOHAN. My childhood faith, which I got from my nurse, and not from you,
was also the childhood faith of my father. Why did you not give me
yours?

QUEEN. Yes, punish me. You have a right to do so. Everything comes home
to us now. I was young then. Life was nothing but a game. The King
demanded my company at banquets and festivities, and so your cradle was
left unattended and unguarded. Those were the days when we were drunk
with victory and happiness. And now!--Go where you find it possible to
worship, Johan, and pray for your mother!

JOHAN. If it hurts my gracious mother, I won't go.

QUEEN. Pray for us all! [_In a lowered voice_] I do not know the new
prayers and must not use the old ones!--Hush now! The King is coming.

        PRINCE JOHAN _goes in the direction previously taken by the_
        KING'S MOTHER-IN-LAW.

        _The_ KING _enters, holding a letter in his hand. He is
        accompanied by_ MASTER OLAVUS PETRI.

KING. [_To the_ QUEEN] Have everything ready for the start. We are lost!

QUEEN. The will of God be done!

KING. That's what seems to be happening. Go and look after your house,
child.

        _The_ QUEEN _goes out_.

KING. [_To_ OLAVUS] This is the situation. Dacke answers that he
does not care to see "that rebel, and perjurer, and breaker of
safe-conducts, Ericsson." He rails me Ericsson, mind you. His people
have reached as far north as Södermanland--which means that they are
right at our gates! Furthermore, two thousand Dalecarlians are encamped
at the North Gate. Their intentions are not known, but can easily be
guessed. A fine prophet you are, Olof!

OLAVUS. We have not seen the end yet.

KING. Where do you get your confidence from?

OLAVUS. That's more than I can tell, but I know that everything will
end well.

KING. You say that you know? How do you know? I have ceased to believe
anything--except in the wrath of God, which has been turned against me.
I am now waiting for the axe. Good and well! I have done my service
and am now to be discharged. That's why I wish to leave before I am
kicked out.--Do you know what day it is to-day? Nobody has thought of
it, and I didn't remember until just now.... It is Midsummer Day: _my_
day, which no one celebrates. A generation ago I made my entry into
the capital on this day. That was the greatest moment of my life. I
thought the work of liberation was done, and I thanked God for it!--But
it had not been done, and I am not done with it yet.--The Dalecarlians
rose. I subdued them, and thought that I was done, which I was not.
Twice more they rose, and each time I gave thanks to God, thinking I
had done--which was not the case. The lords of West Gothia rose. I
squelched them, and was happy, thinking that I surely must have done
by that time--which I had not. And now, Olof?--We are never done until
done for--and that's where I am now!

OLAVUS. Oh, no, there is a whole lot left.

KING. Where do you get your fixed ideas from? Have you heard some bird
sing, or have you been dreaming?

OLAVUS. Neither.

KING. [_Listening_] Listen! That's the sound of birch-horns. Do they
mean to give me a crown of birch, like the one I gave to Peder the
Chancellor and Master Knut? Or is it the scaffold that.... that?...

OLAVUS. Oh, don't!

KING. What was it you called that thing--piety? Much it would have
availed me to have piety at Larv Heath or Tuna Plain![1]--No, I have
been right, right, right, so God help me, amen!

        OLAVUS _makes no answer_.

KING. [_Listening_] They have drums, too.--Oh, everything comes
home!--Do you think I can get out of this, Olof?

OLAVUS. I do! And let me give you a final piece of advice: don't leave!

KING. I don't see how it can be avoided. Do you think I'll let them
take my head?--Do you know, I can actually hear the tramp-tramp of
their feet as they come marching through the North Gate. And that's the
Dalecarlians--my own Dalecarlians! Oh, life is cruel! Can you hear it?
Tramp--tramp--tramp! Do you think I can get out of this?

OLAVUS. I do.

KING. When the sun rises to-morrow I shall know my fate. I wish I were
that far already!--Now I hear something else! [_The reading of a litany
in Latin is faintly heard from the outside_] What is that?

OLAVUS. [_Goes to the balustrade and looks over it_] The Queen's mother
is reading the Romish litany.

KING. But I hear a male voice, too.

OLAVUS. That's Prince Johan.

KING. Johan?--So I must drink that cup, too! I wonder if the cup is
full yet? Is everything that I have built to be torn down?

OLAVUS. Everything you have torn down must be built up again.

KING. Johan a papist, and Eric a Calvinist!--Do you remember the days
when we were crying in the words of Von Hutten: "The souls are waking
up, and it is a joy to live"? A joy to live, indeed--ha-ha! And the
souls woke up to find their feet on the pillows! Was it you who said
that the gods are playing with us?--Hush! I was mistaken a while ago!
It's the North Bridge they are crossing! Can't you hear their heavy
tread on the planking of the bridge? Let us fly! [_He puts a document
on a table_] Here I place my resignation.

OLAVUS. [_Seizing the document_] I'll take care of that. I'll keep
it--as a memento! And now we'll hoist a flag of truce.

        _He pulls a white cloth from one of the tables and ties it to
        the branch of a tree_.

PRINCE ERIC. [_Enters_] Father!

KING. Croak away, raven!

ERIC. Our last hope is gone! The sloop has dragged its anchor and gone
ashore.

KING. [_In desperation_] And lightning has struck the nursery, and the
grasshoppers have eaten the crops, and the waters are rising, and....

ERIC. The Dalecarlians are negotiating with the palace guards, and they
are awfully drunk.

KING. [_Sitting down_] Come on, death!

ERIC. [_Listening_] I can hear their wooden shoes on the garden stairs!
[_He goes to the balustrade_.

KING. [_Counting on his fingers_] Anders Persson, Mons Nilsson, Master
John.

ERIC. [_Drawing his sword_] Now he is here!

        _He can be seen following somebody on the other side of the
        balustrade with his eyes_.

KING. [_As before_] Inghel Hansson, Master Stig, Nils of Söderby. God
is just!

ENGELBRECHT. [_Enters; he is in the happy stage of intoxication, but
in full control of his movements for all that; he looks about with a
broad grin on his face, a little embarrassed, and yet pleased; then he
says to_ ERIC] Are you the King?

        _He puts his hat on the ground and takes off his wooden shoes_.

KING. [_Rising and pushing_ ERIC _aside_] No, I am the King!

ENGELBRECHT. Yes, so I see now!

KING. Who are you?

ENGELBRECHT. [_Faltering_] Don't you know me?...

KING. I don't.

ENGELBRECHT. [_Pulls a dagger with silver handle out of his long
stocking and shows it to the_ KING, _grinning more broadly than ever_]
Well, don't you know this one?

KING. I don't understand at all. What is your name?

ENGELBRECHT. Well--it happens to be Engelbrecht!

KING. Eng-el-brecht?

ENGELBRECHT. It sounds mighty big, but I am not of _that_ family.--You
see, it was like this--once upon a time the King--who was no king at
all then--oh, mercy, but I am drunk!... Well, it was me who followed
you on skis to the border of Norway, and that time you gave me this
here dagger and said: "If you ever need me, come on!" Now I've come,
and here I am! And I wish only that I was not so frightfully drunk!

KING. And what do you want?

ENGELBRECHT. What I want?--I want to fight that man Dacke, of course,
and that's what the rest of them want, too.

KING. You want to _fight_ Dacke?

ENGELBRECHT. Why do you think we have come, anyhow?

KING. [_Raising his arms toward heaven_] Eternal God, now you have
punished me!

ENGELBRECHT. Is it all right? You see, the rest are down there and
they'd like to do something to celebrate the day.

KING. _Is it all right?_--Ask me for a favour!

ENGELBRECHT. [_After thinking hard_] I'd like to shake hands!

        _The_ KING _holds out his hand_.

ENGELBRECHT. [_Looking at the_ King's _hand_] My, what a fist! Hard as
nails, but clean! Yes, and a devil of a fellow you are, all in all!--I
must say I was rather scared when I came here!

KING. Are all the rest of them as drunk as you are?

ENGELBRECHT. About the same! But they can toot the horns for all that.
[_He goes to the balustrade, waves his hand and utters the yell used by
the Dalecarlians in calling their cows_] Poo-ala! Poo-ala! Poo Oy-ala!
Oy-ala! Oy!

        _The blowing of horns and beating of drums is heard from the
        outside_.

        _The_ KING _goes to the balustrade and waxes his hand_.

        _The_ MOTHER-IN-LAW _appears in court dress_.

        _The_ QUEEN _enters and goes to the_ KING, _who folds her in
        his arms_.

        PRINCE JOHAN _enters and goes to the balustrade_.

KING. [_With raised arms_] You have punished me, O Lord, and I thank
thee!

_Curtain_


[1] Larv Heath was the place where the dissatisfied lords
of West Gothia summoned the peasants to meet them in 1529, when they
tried to raise the province against the King. Tuna Plain, to which Mons
Nilsson and his friends refer a number of times in the first act, was
the place where Gustav settled his first score with the obstreperous
Dalecarlians.



MUSICAL APPENDIX TO "THE BRIDAL CROWN"

    MELODY No. 1.--Kersti plays on the alpenhorn
    MELODY No. 2.--Kersti sings through the horn
    MELODY No. 3.--Mats sings in the distance
    MELODY No. 4.--The Mother Sings
    MELODY No. 5.--Kersti plays on the alpenhorn
    MELODY No. 6.--Mats sings in the distance
    MELODY No. 7.--Kersti sings
    MELODY No. 8.--Mats sings
    MELODY No. 9.--Kersti sings
    MELODY No. 10.--Mats sings
    MELODY No. 11.--Canon played by ten hunting-horns
    MELODY No. 12.--The Neck sings and plays
    MELODY No. 13.--Mats sings outside
    MELODY No. 14.--Bridesmaids sing outside
    MELODY No. 15.--Bugle-call in the distance
    MELODY No. 16.--Six girls sing
    MELODY No. 17.--Swedish Dance played by fiddlers
    MELODY No. 18.--Neck plays (two violins)
    MELODY No. 19.--Song of the long-tailed duck
    MELODY No. 20.--The Neck sings to the harp

NOTE TO THE MUSIC

The song of the long-tailed duck is given by Strindberg in the first
part of his "The Swedish People in War and Peace."

Melody No. 20 does not appear in the Swedish edition of the play. It
is given by Emil Schering in an appendix to his German version of
it--apparently from a manuscript placed at his disposal by Strindberg
himself.

Melodies Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 17
have been taken by Strindberg--without any changes--from Richard
Dybeck's "Svenska Vallvisor och Hornlåtar" ("Swedish Herd-Songs and
Horn-Melodies"), Stockholm, 1846.





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