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Title: The Sorrows of Belgium - A Play in Six Scenes
Author: Andreyev, Leonid
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Sorrows of Belgium - A Play in Six Scenes" ***

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THE

SORROWS OF BELGIUM

A PLAY IN SIX SCENES

LEONID ANDREYEV

AUTHOR OF "ANATHEMA" "THE SEVEN WHO WERE HANGED," ETC.

AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION BY

HERMAN BERNSTEIN

NEW YORK

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1915



INTRODUCTION


Leonid Andreyev, the great Russian writer, whose "Anathema,"
"The Seven Who Were Hanged," "The Life of Man" and "Red
Laughter" have attracted universal attention, has now written
the story of the sorrows of the Belgian people. He delineates
the tragedy of Belgium as reflected in the home of the foremost
Belgian poet and thinker--regarded as the conscience of the
Belgian nation.

Leonid Andreyev feels deeply and keenly for the oppressed and
weaker nationalities. He has depicted the victims of this war
with profound sympathy,--the Belgians, and in another literary
masterpiece he analyzed the sufferings of the Jews in Russia
as a result of this war. He described vividly the sense of
shame of the Russian people on account of the Russian official
anti-Jewish policies.

In both these works Leonid Andreyev holds German militarism and
German influences responsible for the wrongs committed against
smaller nationalities.

In his treatise on the tragedy of the Jews in Russia, he writes
of "Russian barbarians" and "German barbarians" as follows:

"If for the Jews themselves the Pale of Settlement, the per cent
norm and other restrictions were a fatal fact, which distorted
all their life, it has been for me, a Russian, something like a
hunch on my back, a monstrous growth, which I received I know
not when and under what conditions. But wherever I may go and
whatever I may do the hunch is always with me; it has disturbed
my sleep at night, and in my waking hours, in the presence of
people, it has filled me with a sensation of confusion and
shame....

"It is necessary for all to understand that the end of Jewish
sufferings is the beginning of our self-respect, without which
Russia cannot live. The dark days of the war will pass and the
German barbarians' of today will once more become cultured
Germans whose voice will again be heard throughout the world.
And it is essential that neither their voice nor any other voice
should call us loudly 'Russian barbarians.'"

Aside from its literary and dramatic value, if this volume
on the sorrows of Belgium will tend to arouse a little more
sympathy for the sufferings of the victims of the war, or if it
will help to call forth in the minds of the people a stronger
abhorrence of the horrors of war, it will have served an
important and worthy purpose.

HERMAN BERNSTEIN.

_May 25, 1915._



THE SORROWS OF BELGIUM


    CHARACTERS

    _Count Clairmont._
    _Emil Grelieu_--A Famous Belgian Author.
    _Jeanne_--His Wife.
    _Pierre_  } Their sons.
    _Maurice_ }
    _Lagard_--Member of the Cabinet.
    _General_--Adjutant to Count Clairmont.
    _Insane Girl._
    _François_--Gardener.
    _Henrietta_ } Grelieu's Servants.
    _Silvina_   }
    _Commander of the German Armies in Belgium_.
    _Von Blumenfeld._
    _Von Ritzau_  }
    _Von Stein_   } Officers.
    _Von Schauss_ }
    _Kloetz_--Military Engineer.
    _Zigler_--Telegraphist.
    _Greitzer._
    _German Officer._
    _Belgian Peasant_.
    _Doctor Langloi._
    _A Chauffeur_--A Belgian.



SCENE I


_The action takes place in Belgium, at the beginning of the war
of 1914. The scene represents a garden near the villa of the
famous Belgian author, Emil Grelieu. Beyond the tops of low
trees, beyond the stone fence which divides Grelieu's estate
from the neighboring gardens, are seen the outlines of the red
roofs of the houses in the small town, of the Town Hall, and of
an ancient church. There the people already know about the war;
there the church bells are ringing uneasily, while in the garden
there is still peace. A small, splendidly kept flower garden;
beautiful and fragrant flowers; shrubbery in bloom; a nook of
a hothouse. The glass covers are half open. The sun is shining
softly; there is in the air the bluish mist of a warm and quiet
day, and all colors seem tenderly soft; only in the foreground
the colors of the flowers stand out in sharp relief._

_François is sitting and clipping roses at one of the flower
beds. He is an old and deaf, stern Belgian, with long, gray
hair. He holds in his mouth an earthen pipe. François is
working. He does not hear the tolling of the bells. He is alone
in the garden, and it seems to him that all is calm and quiet._

_But something fills him with faint alarm. He hears an
indistinct call. He looks around--but sees no one. He hums to
himself a song without words. Suddenly he stops, straightens
himself, holding the scissors in his hands, and looks around
again_.


FRANÇOIS

Who has called me?

_He sees no one. He looks at the hothouse--it seems to him that
some one is calling him from there._

I hear you, Monsieur Emil, I am here.

_He sees no one. He frowns and cries angrily._

Who is calling me? No one here.

_He looks at the sky, then at the flowers, and resumes his work
quietly._

They say I am deaf. But I heard some one calling
me twice: "François!" "François!" No, perhaps
it is my blood, making a noise in my ears.

_Silence. But his uneasiness does not subside; he listens again._

I can still hear some one calling me: "François!"

Very well; here is François, and if anyone needs me he may
call me again. I shall not run. I can't hear the chirping of
the birds; the birds have long since become silent for me. What
nonsense--these birds! Very well, I am deaf--does anyone think I
am going to cry over it?

_Twitches his mouth into a smile._

And my eyes? That is another matter. My eyes! Why are you
forever silent, François? Why should I speak if I do not hear
your foolish answer? It is all nonsense--to talk and to listen.
I can see more than you can hear.

_Laughs._

Yes, I see this. This does not talk either, but bend down to it
and you will learn more than Solomon ever knew. That is what
the Bible says--Solomon. To you the earth is noise and prattle,
while to me it is like a Madonna in colors upon a picture. Like
a Madonna in colors.

_The bell is ringing. In the distance a youthful voice calls
"Papa!" "Papa!" Then, "François!" Maurice, Emil Grelieu's
younger son, a youth of about 17, appears, coming quickly from
the house. He calls François once more, but François does not
hear. Finally he shouts right next to his ear._

MAURICE

François, what is the matter with you? I am calling you. I am
calling you. Haven't you seen papa?

FRANÇOIS

_Calmly, without turning around._

Did you call me, Maurice? I heard your call long ago.

MAURICE

You heard me, but did not respond. How obstinate you are!
Haven't you seen papa? I am looking for him everywhere. Quick!
Where is papa?

FRANÇOIS

Papa?

MAURICE

_Shouts._

Where is papa? Haven't you seen him? Silvina says he went to the
hothouse. Do you hear?

FRANÇOIS

He is not there. I spoke to Monsieur this morning, but since
then I have not seen him. No.

MAURICE

What is to be done? How they are tolling! François, what is to
be done--do you hear them tolling?

FRANÇOIS

Ah! I hear. Will you take some roses, my boy?

MAURICE

You don't understand anything--you are beyond endurance! They
are running in the streets, they are all running there, and papa
is not here. I will run over there, too, at once. Perhaps he is
there. What a day!

FRANÇOIS

Who is running?

MAURICE

You don't understand anything!

_Shouts._

They have entered Belgium!

FRANÇOIS

Who has entered Belgium?

MAURICE

They--the Prussians. Can't you understand? It's war! War!
Imagine what will happen. Pierre will have to go, and so will I
go. I will not stay here under any circumstances.

FRANÇOIS

_Straightening himself, dropping the scissors._

War? What nonsense, my boy! Who has entered Belgium?

MAURICE

They--the Prussians. Pierre will go now, and I will go--I will
not stay away under any circumstances, understand? What will
become of Belgium now?--it is hard to conceive it. They entered
Belgium yesterday--do you understand--what scoundrels!

_In the distance, along the narrow streets of the town, an
uneasy sound of footsteps and wheels is growing rapidly.
Distinct voices and outcries blend into a dull, suppressed,
ominous noise, full of alarm. The tolling, as though tired, now
subsides, now turns almost to a shriek. François tries vainly to
hear something. Then he takes up the scissors again angrily._

MAURICE

François!

FRANÇOIS

_Sternly._

That's all nonsense! What are you prating, my boy? There is no
war--that is impossible.

MAURICE

You are a foolish old man, yourself! They have entered
Belgium--do you understand--they are here already.

FRANÇOIS

That's not true.

MAURICE

Why isn't it true?

FRANÇOIS

Because that is impossible. The newspapers print nonsense, and
they have all gone mad. Fools, and nothing more--madmen. What
Prussians? Young man, you have no right to make sport of me like
this.

MAURICE

But listen--

FRANÇOIS

Prussians! What Prussians? I don't know any Prussians, and I
don't want to know them.

MAURICE

But understand, old man, they are already bombarding Liège!

FRANÇOIS

No!

MAURICE

They have killed many people. What a strange man you are! Don't
you hear the tolling of the bells? The people are on the square.
They are all running. The women are crying. What is that?

FRANÇOIS

_Angrily._

You are stepping on the flower bed. Get off!

MAURICE

Don't bother me! Why are they shouting so loudly? Something has
happened there.

_The sound of a trumpet is heard in the distance. The shouting
of the crowd is growing ever louder. Sounds of the Belgian hymn
are heard faintly. Suddenly an ominous silence follows the
noise, and then the lone sound of the tolling bells._

MAURICE

Now they are quiet.... What does it mean?

FRANÇOIS

Nonsense, nonsense!

_Infuriated._

You are stepping on the flower bed again. Get off! You have all
lost your reason! Go, go! The Prussians!...

MAURICE

You have lost your reason!

FRANÇOIS

I am seventy years old, and you tell me about the Prussians. Go!

_Again the shouting of the crowd is heard. Silvina, the
chambermaid, runs out of the house and calls: "Monsieur
Maurice!"_

SILVINA

Please, come into the house. Madame Jeanne is calling you.
Madame is going away. Please, come.

MAURICE

And papa?

SILVINA

He isn't here yet. Come!

_Both move away. François sits down at the flower bed
impatiently._

MAURICE

You don't understand, Silvina. He does not believe that there is
a war.

SILVINA

It is very dreadful, Monsieur Maurice. I am afraid--

_They go out. François looks after them angrily, adjusts his
apron, and prepares to resume his work._

FRANÇOIS

Madmen! I am seventy years old. I am seventy years old, and they
want me to believe a story about Prussians. Nonsense, they are
crazy! Prussians! But it is true that I don't hear anything.

_Rising, he listens attentively._

No, not a sound. Or do I hear something? Oh, the devil take it!
I can't hear a sound. Impossible! No, no, impossible! But what
is that? How could I believe that in this calm sky--in this calm
sky--

_The din of battle is growing. François listens again and hears
it. He grows thoughtful. His eyes express fright. He looks as
though he had suddenly solved a terrible problem. He moves
to and fro, his head bent down, as though trying to catch the
sounds. Suddenly he throws down the scissors. He is seized with
a feeling of terror. He raises his hands._

I hear it. No. No. Now I don't hear a sound. Oh, God, give me
the power to hear!

_He tries again to catch the fleeting sounds, his head bent,
his neck outstretched. His hair is disheveled. His eyes stare.
Suddenly, by a great effort, he hears the tolling of the bells
and voices full of despair. He retreats and raises his hands
again._

My God! They are tolling! They are crying! War! What war? What
war? Eh, who is there--who is shouting "War!"?

_The sound of the bells and the cries grows louder. Emil Grelieu
appears, walking quickly in the alley_.

EMIL GRELIEU

What are you shouting, François? Where is Maurice? No one is in
the house.

FRANÇOIS

Is it war?


EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, yes, it is war. The Prussians have entered Belgium. But you
don't hear anything.

FRANÇOIS

_Painfully trying to catch the sounds._

I hear, I hear; are they killing?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, they are killing. The Prussians have entered Belgium. Where
is Maurice?

FRANÇOIS

But, Monsieur Emil--but, Monsieur, what Prussians? Pardon me; I
am seventy years old, and I lost my sense of hearing long ago.

_Weeps._

Is it really a war?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, it is a real war. I can't understand it either. But the
fighting has already commenced. I can't realize it myself, but
it is war, old man.

FRANÇOIS

Tell me, Monsieur. Tell me about it. I believe you as I believe
God. Tell me. I can hear you. Are they killing?

EMIL GRELIEU

It is war! What horror, François. It is very hard to understand
it--yes, very hard.

_Frowns and rubs his high, pale forehead nervously_.

FRANÇOIS

_Bent, weeps, his head shaking._

And the flowers? Our flowers?

EMIL GRELIEU

_Absentmindedly._

Our flowers? Don't cry, François--ah, what is that?

_The tolling of the bells subsides. The crying and the
shouting of the crowd changes, into a harmonious volume of
sound--somebody is hailed in the distance. An important
announcement seems to have been made there_.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Absentmindedly._

Our people are expecting the King there--he is on his way to
Liège! Yes, yes--

_Silence. Suddenly there is a sound like the crash of thunder.
Then it changes into a song--the crowd is singing the Belgian
hymn._

_Curtain_



SCENE II


_The reception hall in Emil Grelieu's villa. Plenty of air,
light, and flowers. Large, windows overlooking the garden in
bloom. One small window is almost entirely covered with the
leaves of vines._

_In the room are Emil Grelieu and his elder son, Pierre, a
handsome, pale, and frail-looking young man. He is dressed in
military uniform. They pace up and down the room slowly. It
is evident that Pierre is anxious to walk faster, but out of
respect for his father he slackens his pace._


EMIL GRELIEU

How many kilometers?

PIERRE

Twenty-five or thirty kilometers to Tirlemont--and here--

EMIL GRELIEU

Seventy-four or five--

PIERRE

Seventy-five--yes, about a hundred kilometers. It's not far,
father.

EMIL GRELIEU

Not far. It seemed to me that I heard cannonading. I heard it
last night.

PIERRE

No, it's hardly possible.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, I was mistaken. But the rays of the searchlights could be
seen. They must be very powerful searchlights. Mamma saw them
too.

PIERRE

Really? You are suffering from insomnia again, father?

EMIL GRELIEU

I sleep well. A hundred kilometers--a hundred kilometers--

_Silence. Pierre looks at his father attentively._

PIERRE

Father!

EMIL GRELIEU

Well? It's too early for you, Pierre--you have three hours yet
before your train starts. I am watching the time.

PIERRE

I know, father. No, I am thinking of something else--. Father,
tell me, have you still any hopes?

_Silence._

I am hesitating, I feel somewhat embarrassed to speak to
you--you are so much wiser, so far above me, father.... Yes,
yes, it's nonsense, of course, but that which I have learned in
the army during these days gives me very little hope. They are
coming in such a compact mass of people, of iron, machines, arms
and horses, that there is no possibility of stopping them. It
seems to me that seismographs must indicate the place over which
they pass--they press the ground with such force. And we are so
few in number!

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, we are very few in number.

PIERRE

Very, very few, father! Dreadfully few! Even if we were
invulnerable and deathless, even if we kept killing them off
day and night, day and night, we would drop from fatigue and
exhaustion before we stopped them. But we are mortal--and they
have terrible guns, father! You are silent? You are thinking of
our Maurice--I have caused you pain?

EMIL GRELIEU

There is little of the human in their movements. Do not think
of Maurice--he will live. A human being has a face, Pierre.
Every human being has his own face, but they have no faces.
When I try to picture them to myself, I see only the lights,
projectors, automobiles--those terrible guns--and something
walking, walking. And those vulgar mustaches of Wilhelm--but
that is a mask, an immobile mask, which has stood over Europe
for a quarter of a century--what is behind it? Those vulgar
mustaches--and suddenly so much misery, so much bloodshed and
destruction! It is a mask!

PIERRE

_Almost to himself._

If there were only not so many of them, not so many--. Father, I
believe that Maurice will live. He is a lucky boy. But what does
mamma think about it?

EMIL GRELIEU

What mamma thinks?

_Enter François. Sternly, without looking at anyone, he waters
the flowers._

And what does he think? Look at him.

PIERRE

He can hardly hear anything. François!

EMIL GRELIEU

I don't know whether he hears anything or not. But there was a
time when he did hear. He is silent, Pierre, and he furiously
denies war. He denies it by work--he works alone in the garden
as if nothing had happened. Our house is full of refugees.
Mamma and everyone else in the house are busy, feeding them,
washing the children--mamma is washing them--but he does not
seem to notice anything. He denies war! Now he is bursting from
anxiety to hear or guess what we are saying, but do you see the
expression of his face? If you start to talk to him he will go
away.

PIERRE

François!

EMIL GRELIEU

Don't bother him. He wants to be crafty. Perhaps he hears us.
You ask me what mother is thinking of. Do I know? Who can tell?
You see that she is not here, and yet these are your last hours
at home. Yes, in this house--I am speaking of the house. She
is young and resolute as ever, she walks just as lightly and is
just as clear-headed, but she is not here. She is simply not
here, Pierre.

PIERRE

Is she concealing something?

EMIL GRELIEU

No, she is not concealing anything, but she has gone into the
depths of her own self, where all is silence and mystery. She is
living through her motherhood again, from the very beginning--do
you understand? when you and Maurice were not yet born--but
in this she is crafty, like François. Sometimes I see clearly
that she is suffering unbearably, that she is terrified by the
war--. But she smiles in answer and then I see something else--I
see how there has suddenly awakened in her the prehistoric
woman--the woman who handed her husband the fighting club--.
Wait, the soldiers are coming again!

_Military music is heard in the distance, nearing._

PIERRE

Yes, according to the assignment, it is the Ninth Regiment.

EMIL GRELIEU

Let us hear it, Pierre. I hear this music several times a day.
There it starts on the right, and there it dies down. Always
there.

_They listen._

But they are brave fellows!

PIERRE

Yes.

_Both listen attentively at the window. François looks at them
askance and tries in vain to hear. The music begins to die out._

EMIL GRELIEU

_Walking away from the window._

Yesterday they played the "Marseillaise." But they are brave
fellows!

_Emil Grelieu's wife enters quickly._

JEANNE

Do you hear it? How beautiful! Even our refugees smiled when
they heard it. Emil, I have brought you some telegrams, here. I
have read them.

EMIL GRELIEU

What is it? Let me have them!

_Reading the telegrams, he staggers to an armchair and sinks
into it. He turns pale._

PIERRE

What is it, father?

EMIL GRELIEU

Read!

_Pierre reads it over the shoulder of his father. The woman
looks at them with an enigmatical expression upon her face.
She sits calmly, her beautiful head thrown back. Emil Grelieu
rises quickly, and both he and his son start to pace the room in
opposite directions._

PIERRE

Do you see?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes.

PIERRE

Do you see?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes! Yes!

JEANNE

_As though indifferently._

Emil, was that an interesting library which they have destroyed?
I don't know.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, very. But what are you asking me, Jeanne? How can you speak?

JEANNE

Oh, I speak only of those books! Tell me, were there many books
there?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, many, many!

JEANNE

And they've burned them?

_She hums softly in afresh, strong voice._

"Only the halo of the arts crowns law, liberty, and the
King!--Law--"

EMIL GRELIEU

Books, books.

JEANNE

And there was also a Cathedral there. Oh, I remember it! Isn't
it true, Emil, that it was a beautiful structure?

_Hums._

"Law, liberty, and the King--"

PIERRE

Father!

What?

EMIL GRELIEU

_He walks up and down the room._

JEANNE

Pierre, it will soon be time for you to leave. I'll give you
something to eat at once. Pierre, do you think it is true that
they are killing women and children? I don't know.

PIERRE

It is true, mother.

EMIL GRELIEU

How can you say it, Jeanne? You don't know?

JEANNE

I say this on account of the children. Yes, there they write
that they are killing children, so they write there. And
all this was crowded upon that little slip of paper--and the
children, as well as the fire--

_Rises quickly and walks away, humming._

EMIL GRELIEU

Where are you going, Jeanne?

JEANNE

Nowhere in particular. François, do you hear? They are murdering
our women and children. François! François!

_Without turning around, François walks out, his shoulders bent.
All look after him. Jeanne goes to the other door with a strange
half-smile._

PIERRE

Mamma!

JEANNE

I will return directly.

EMIL GRELIEU

What shall I call them? What can I call them? My dear Pierre, my
boy, what shall I call them?

PIERRE

You are greatly agitated, father.

EMIL GRELIEU

I have always thought, I have always been convinced that words
were at my command, but here I stand before this monstrous,
inexplicable--I don't know, I don't know what to call them. My
heart is crying out, I hear its voice, but the word! Pierre,
you are a student, you are young, your words are direct and
pure--Pierre, find the word!

PIERRE

You want me to find it, father? Yes, I was a student, and I knew
certain words: Peace, Right, Humanity. But now you see! My heart
is crying too, but I do not know what to call these scoundrels.
Scoundrels? That is not sufficient.

_In despair._

Not sufficient.

EMIL GRELIEU

That is not strong enough. Pierre, I have decided--

PIERRE

Decided?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, I am going.

PIERRE

You, father?

EMIL GRELIEU

I decided to do it several days ago--even then, at the very
beginning. And I really don't know why I--. Oh, yes, I had to
overcome within me--my love for flowers.

_Ironically._

Yes, Pierre, my love for flowers. Oh, my boy, it is so hard to
change from flowers to iron and blood!

PIERRE

Father, I dare not contradict you.

EMIL GRELIEU

No, no, you dare not. It is not necessary. Listen, Pierre, you
must examine me as a physician.

PIERRE

I am only a student, father.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, but you know enough to say--. You see, Pierre, I must
not burden our little army with a single superfluous sick or
weak man. Isn't that so? I must bring with me strength and
power, not shattered health. Isn't that so? And I am asking
you, Pierre, to examine me, simply as a physician, as a young
physician. But I feel somewhat embarrassed with you--. Must I
take this off, or can you do it without removing this?

PIERRE

It can be done this way.

EMIL GRELIEU

I think so, too. And--must I tell you everything, or--? At any
rate, I will tell you that I have not had any serious ailments,
and for my years I am a rather strong, healthy man. You know
what a life I am leading.

PIERRE

That is unnecessary, father.

EMIL GRELIEU

It is necessary. You are a physician. I want to say that in my
life there were none of those unwholesome--and bad excesses. Oh,
the devil take it, how hard it is to speak of it.

PIERRE

Papa, I know all this.

_Quickly kisses his father's hand. Silence._

EMIL GRELIEU

But it is necessary to take my pulse, Pierre, I beg of you.

PIERRE

_Smiling faintly._

It isn't necessary to do even that. As a physician, I can tell
you that you are healthy, but--you are unfit for war, you are
unfit for war, father! I am listening to you and I feel like
crying, father.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Thoughtfully._

Yes, yes. But perhaps it is not necessary to cry. Do you think,
Pierre, that I should not kill? Pierre, you think, that I, Emil
Grelieu, must not kill under any circumstances and at any time?

PIERRE

_Softly._

I dare not touch upon your conscience, father.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, that is a terrible question for a man. I must kill,
Pierre. Of course, I could take your gun, but not to fire--no,
that would have been disgusting, a sacrilegious deception! When
my humble people are condemned to kill, who am I that I should
keep my hands clean? That would be disgusting cleanliness,
obnoxious saintliness. My humble nation did not desire to kill,
but it was forced, and it has become a murderer. So I, too, must
become a murderer, together with my nation. Upon whose shoulders
will I place the sin--upon the shoulders of our youths and
children? No, Pierre. And if ever the Higher Conscience of the
world will call my dear people to the terrible accounting, if
it will call you and Maurice, my children, and will say to you:
"What have you done? You have murdered!" I will come forward and
will say: "First you must judge me; I have also murdered--and
you know that I am an honest man!"

_Pierre sits motionless, his face covered with his hands. Enter
Jeanne, unnoticed._

PIERRE

_Uncovering his face._

But you must not die! You have no right!

EMIL GRELIEU

_Loudly, and with contempt._

Oh, death!

_They notice Jeanne, and grow silent. Jeanne sits down and
speaks in the same tone of strange, almost cheerful calm._

JEANNE

Emil, she is here again.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes? She is here again. Where has she been the last two nights?

JEANNE

She does not know herself. Emil, her dress and her hands were in
blood.

EMIL GRELIEU

She is wounded?

JEANNE

No, it is not her own blood, and by the color I could not tell
whose blood it is.

PIERRE

Who is that, mother?

JEANNE

A girl. Just a girl. She's insane. I have combed her hair and
put a clean dress on her. She has beautiful hair. Emil, I have
heard something--I understand that you want to go--?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes.

JEANNE

Together with your children, Emil?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes. Pierre has examined me and finds that I am fit to enter the
ranks.

JEANNE

You intend to go tomorrow?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes.

JEANNE

You cannot manage it today. Pierre, you have only an hour and a
half left.

_Silence._

PIERRE

Mamma! Tell him that he must not--Forgive me, father!--that he
should not go. Isn't that true, mother? Tell him! He has given
to the nation his two sons--what more should he give? He has no
right to give more.

JEANNE

More, Pierre?

PIERRE

Yes,--his life. You love him; you, yourself, would die if he
were killed--tell him that, mother!

JEANNE

Yes, I love him. I love you, too.

PIERRE

Oh, what are we, Maurice and I? But he! Just as they have no
right to destroy temples in war or to bum libraries, just as
they have no right to touch the eternal, so he--he--has no right
to die. I am speaking not as your son, no; but to kill Emil
Grelieu--that would be worse than to bum books. Listen to me!
You have brought me into this world. Listen to me!--although I
am young and should be silent--Listen to me! They have already
robbed us. They have deprived us of our land and of the air;
they have destroyed our treasures which have been created
by the genius of our people, and now we would cast our best
men into their jaws! What does that mean? What will remain of
us? Let them kill us all, let our land be turned into a waste
desert, let all living creatures be burned to death, but as long
as he lives, Belgium is alive! What is Belgium without him? Oh,
do not be silent, mother! Tell him!

_Silence._

EMIL GRELIEU

_Somewhat sternly._

Calm yourself, Pierre!

JEANNE

Yesterday I--no, Pierre, that isn't what I was going to say--I
don't know anything about it. How could I know? But yesterday
I--it is hard to get vegetables, and even bread, here--so I went
to town, and for some reason we did not go in that direction,
but nearer the field of battle--. How strange it is that we
found ourselves there! And there I saw them coming--

EMIL GRELIEU

Whom?

JEANNE

Our soldiers. They were coming from there--where the battle
raged for four days. There were not many of them--about a
hundred or two hundred. But we all--there were so many people in
the streets--we all stepped back to the wall in order to make
way for them. Emil, just think of it; how strange! They did not
see us, and we would have been in their way! They were black
from smoke, from mud, from dried blood, and they were swaying
from fatigue. They were all thin--as consumptives. But that is
nothing, that is all nothing. Their eyes--what was it, Emil?
They did not see their surroundings, they still reflected that
which they had seen there--fire and smoke and death--and what
else? Some one said: "Here are people returning from hell." We
all bowed to them, we bowed to them, but they did not see that
either. Is that possible, Emil?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, Jeanne, that is possible.

PIERRE

And he will go to that inferno?

_Silence. Emil Grelieu walks over to his wife and kisses her
hand. She looks at his head with a smile. Suddenly she rises._

JEANNE

Forgive me; there is something else I must say--

_She moves quickly and lightly, but suddenly, as though
stumbling over an invisible obstacle, falls on one knee. Then
she tries to rise, kneels, pale and still smiling, bending to
one side. They rush over to her and lift her from the ground._

PIERRE

Mamma! Mamma!

EMIL GRELIEU

You have a headache? Jeanne, my dearest, what ails you?

_She pushes them aside, stands up firmly, trying to conceal her
nervousness._

JEANNE

What is it? What? Don't trouble, Emil! My head? No, no! My foot
slipped--you know, the one that pained me. You see, I can walk
now.

EMIL GRELIEU

A glass of water, Pierre.

JEANNE

What for? How absurd!

_But Pierre had already gone out. Jeanne sits down, hangs her
head, as one guilty, endeavoring not to look into his eyes._

JEANNE

What an excitable youth--your Pierre! Did you hear what he said?

EMIL GRELIEU

_Significantly._

Jeanne!

JEANNE

What? No, no--why do you look at me this way? No--I am telling
you.

_Pierre brings her water, but Jeanne does not drink it._

JEANNE

Thank you, Pierre, but I don't want it.

_Silence._

How fragrant the flowers are. Pierre, please give me that
rose--yes, that one. Thank you. How fresh it is, Emil, and what
a fine fragrance--come over here, Emil!

_Emil Grelieu goes over to her and kisses the hand in which she
holds the rose. Looks at her._

JEANNE

_Lowering her hand._

No; I have asked for this flower simply because its fragrance
seems to me immortal--it is always the same--as the sky. How
strange it is, always the same. And when you bring it close to
your face, and close to your eyes, it seems to you that there is
nothing except this red rose and the blue sky. Nothing but the
red rose and the distant, pale--very pale--blue sky....

EMIL GRELIEU

Pierre! Listen to me, my boy! People speak of this only at
night, when they are alone with their souls--and she knows it,
but you do not know it yet. Don't you know it, Jeanne?

JEANNE

_Trembling, opening her eyes._

Yes, I know, Emil.

EMIL GRELIEU

The life of the poet does not belong to him. The roof over the
heads of people, which shelters them--all that is a phantom for
me, and my life does not belong to me. I am always far away, not
here--I am always where I am not. You think of finding me among
the living, while I am dead; you are afraid of finding me in
death, mute, cold, doomed to decay, while I live and sing aloud
from my grave. Death which makes people mute, which leaves the
imprint of silence upon the bravest lips, restores the voice
to the poet. Dead, I speak more loudly than alive. Dead, I am
alive! Am I--just think of it, Pierre, my boy,--am I to fear
death when in my most persistent searches I could not find the
boundary between life and death, when in my feelings I mix life
and death into one--as two strong, rare kinds of wine? Just
think of it, my boy!

_Silence. Emil Grelieu looks at his son, smiling. Pierre has
covered his face with his hands. The woman is apparently calm.
She turns her eyes from her weeping son to her husband._

PIERRE

_Uncovering his face._

Forgive me, father!

JEANNE

Take this rose, Pierre, and when it fades and falls apart tear
down another rose--it will have the same fragrance as this one.
You are a foolish little boy, Pierre, but I am also foolish,
although Emil is so kind that he thinks differently. Will you be
in the same regiment, Emil?

EMIL GRELIEU

No, hardly, Jeanne.

PIERRE

Father, it is better that we be in the same regiment. I will
arrange it, father--will you permit me? And I will teach you how
to march--. You know, I am going to be your superior officer.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Smiling._

Very well.

JEANNE

_Goes out singing in a low voice._

"Only the halo of the arts is crowning--law, liberty, and the
King." Who is that? Ah, you! Look, Pierre, here is the girl you
wished to see. Come in, come in, my dear child! Don't be afraid,
come in! You know him. That's my husband. He is a very good man
and will do you no harm. And this is my son, Pierre. Give him
your hand.

_A girl enters; she is frail, very pale, and beautiful. She
wears a black dress, her hair is combed neatly, and she is
modest in her demeanor. Her eyes reflect fright and sorrow. She
is followed by the chambermaid, Silvina, a kind, elderly woman
in a white cap; by Madame Henrietta, and another woman in the
service of the Grelieu household. They stop at the threshold
and watch the girl curiously. The elder woman is weeping as she
looks at her._

GIRL

_Stretching forth her hand to Pierre._

Oh, that is a soldier! Be so kind, soldier, tell me how to go to
Lonua. I have lost my way.

PIERRE

_Confused._

I do not know, Mademoiselle.

GIRL

_Looking at everybody mournfully._

Who knows? It is time for me to go.

JEANNE

_Cautiously and tenderly leading her to a seat._

Sit down, child, take a rest, my dear, give your poor feet a
rest. Pierre, her feet are wounded, yet she wants to walk all
the time.

ELDERLY WOMAN

I wanted to stop her, Monsieur Pierre, but it is impossible to
stop her. If we close the door before her the poor girl beats
her head against the walls, like a bird in a cage. Poor girl!

_Dries her tears. François enters from the garden and occupies
himself again with the flowers. He glances at the girl from time
to time. It is evident that he is making painful efforts to hear
and understand what is going on._

GIRL

It is time for me to go.

JEANNE

Rest yourself, here, my child! Why should you leave? At night it
is so terrible on the roads. There, in the dark air, bullets are
buzzing instead of our dear bees; there wicked people, vicious
beasts are roaming. And there is no one who can tell you, for
there is no one who knows how to go to Lonua.

GIRL

Don't you know how I could find my way to Lonua?

PIERRE

_Softly._

What is she asking?

Emil GRELIEU

Oh, you may speak louder; she can hear as little as François.
She is asking about the village which the Prussians have set on
fire. Her home used to be there--now there are only ruins and
corpses there. There is no road that leads to Lonua!

GIRL

Don't you know it, either? No one knows. I have asked everybody,
and no one can tell me how to find my way to Lonua. I must
hurry. They are waiting for me there.

_She rises quickly and walks over to François._

Tell me; you are kindhearted! Don't you know the way to Lonua?

_François looks at her intently. Silently he turns away and
walks out, stooping._

JEANNE

_Seating her again._

Sit down, little girl. He does not know.

GIRL

_Sadly._

I am asking, and they are silent.

EMIL GRELIEU

I suppose she is also asking the bodies of the dead that lie in
the fields and in the ditches how to go to Lonua.

JEANNE

Her hands and her dress were bloodstained. She was walking all
night. Take a rest, my little one! I will hold you in my arms,
and you will feel better and more comfortable, my little child.

GIRL

_Softly._

Tell me, how can I find my way to Lonua?

JEANNE

Yes, yes, come! Emil, I will go with her to my room. There she
will feel more comfortable. Come along, my dear. I'll hold you.
Come!

_They go out. The other women follow them. Emil Grelieu and
Pierre remain._

EMIL GRELIEU

Lonua! A quiet little village which no one ever noticed
before--houses, trees, and flowers. Where is it now? Who knows
the way to that little village? Pierre, the soul of our people
is roaming about in the watches of the night, asking the dead
how to find the way to Lonua! Pierre, I cannot endure it any
longer! I am suffocating from hatred and anger! Oh, weep,
you German Nation--bitter will be the fate of your children,
terrible will be your disgrace before the judgment of the free
nations!

_Curtain_



SCENE III


_Night. The dark silhouette of Emil Grelieu's villa stands
out in the background. The gatekeeper's house is seen among
the trees, a dim light in the window. At the cast-iron fence
frightened women are huddled together, watching the fire in the
distance. An alarming redness has covered the sky; only in the
zenith is the sky dark. The reflection of the fire falls upon
objects and people, casting strange shadows against the mirrors
of the mute and dark villa. The voices sound muffled and timid;
there are frequent pauses and prolonged sighs. Three women_.

HENRIETTA

My God, my God! How terrible it is! It is burning and burning,
and there is no end to the fire!

SECOND WOMAN

Yesterday it was burning further away, and tonight the fire is
nearer. It is growing nearer. O Lord!

HENRIETTA

It is burning and burning, there is no end to the fire! Today
the sun was covered in a mist.

SECOND WOMAN

It is forever burning, and the sun is growing ever darker! Now
it is lighter at night than in the daytime!

SILVINA

I am afraid!

HENRIETTA

Be silent, Silvina, be silent!

_Silence._

SECOND WOMAN

I can't hear a sound. What is binning there? If I close my eyes
it seems to me that nothing is going on there. It is so quiet!
Even the dogs are not barking!

HENRIETTA

I can see all that is going on there even with my eyes closed.
Look; it seems the fire is spreading!

SILVINA

Oh, I am afraid!

SECOND WOMAN

Where is it burning?

HENRIETTA

I don't know. It is burning and burning, and there is no end to
the fire! It may be that they have all perished by this time.
It may be that something terrible is going on there, and we are
looking on and know nothing.

_A fourth woman approaches them quietly._

FOURTH WOMAN

Good evening!

SILVINA

_With restraint._

Oh!

HENRIETTA

Oh, you have frightened us! Good evening, neighbor!

FOURTH WOMAN

Good evening, Madame Henrietta! Never mind my coming here--it
is terrible to stay in the house! I guessed that you were not
sleeping, but here, watching. You can see well from this spot.
Don't you know where the fire is?

SECOND WOMAN

No. And we can't hear a sound--how quiet!

HENRIETTA

It is burning and burning. Haven't you heard anything about your
husband?

FOURTH WOMAN

No, nothing. I have already stopped weeping.

HENRIETTA

And with whom are your children just now?

FOURTH WOMAN

Alone. They are asleep. Is it true that Monsieur Pierre was
killed? I've heard about it.

HENRIETTA

_Agitated._

Just imagine! I don't know! I simply cannot understand what is
going on! You see, there is no one in the house now, and we are
afraid to sleep there--

SECOND WOMAN

The three of us sleep here, in the gatekeeper's house.

HENRIETTA

I am afraid to look into that house even in the daytime--the
house is so large and so empty! And there are no men there, not
a soul--

FOURTH WOMAN

Is it true that François has gone to shoot the Prussians? I have
heard about it.

HENRIETTA

Maybe. Everybody is talking about it, but we don't know. He
disappeared quietly, like a mouse.

FOURTH WOMAN

He will be hanged--the Prussians hang such people!

HENRIETTA

Wait, wait! Today, while I was in the garden, I heard the
telephone ringing in the house; it was ringing for a long time.
I was frightened, but I went in after all--and, just think of
it! Some one said: "Monsieur Pierre was killed!"

SECOND WOMAN

And nothing more?

HENRIETTA

Nothing more; not a word! All grew quiet again. I felt so bad
and was so frightened that I could hardly run out. Now I will
not enter that house for anything!

FOURTH WOMAN

Whose voice was it?

SECOND WOMAN

Madame Henrietta says it was an unfamiliar voice.

HENRIETTA

Yes, an unfamiliar voice.

FOURTH WOMAN

Look! There seems to be a light in the windows of the
house--somebody is there!

SILVINA

Oh, I am afraid! I can't bear it!

HENRIETTA

Oh, what are you saying; what are you saying? There is no one
there!

SECOND WOMAN

That's from the redness of the sky!

FOURTH WOMAN

What if some one is ringing there again?

HENRIETTA

How is that possible? At night?

_All listen. Silence._

SECOND WOMAN

What will become of us? They are coming this way, and there is
nothing that can stop them!

FOURTH WOMAN

I wish I might die now! When you are dead, you don't hear or see
anything.

HENRIETTA

It keeps on all night like this--it is burning and burning! And
in the daytime it will again be hard to see things on account of
the smoke; and the bread will smell of burning! What is going on
there?

FOURTH WOMAN

They have killed Monsieur Pierre.

SECOND WOMAN

They have killed him? Killed him?

SILVINA

You must not speak of it! My God, whither should I go! I cannot
bear this. I cannot understand it!

_Weeps softly._

FOURTH WOMAN

They say there are twenty millions of them, and they have
already set Paris on fire. They say they have cannon which can
hit a hundred kilometers away.

HENRIETTA

My God, my God! And all that is coming upon us!

SECOND WOMAN

Merciful God, have pity on us!

FOURTH WOMAN

And they are flying and they are hurling bombs from
airships--terrible bombs, which destroy entire cities!

HENRIETTA

My God! What have they done with the sky! Before this You were
alone in the sky, and now those base Prussians are there too!

SECOND WOMAN

Before this, when my soul wanted rest and joy I looked at the
sky, but now there is no place where a poor soul can find rest
and joy!

FOURTH WOMAN

They have taken everything away from our Belgium--even the sky!
I wish I could die at once! There is no air to breathe now!

_Suddenly frightened._

Listen! Don't you think that now my husband, my husband--

HENRIETTA

No, no!

FOURTH WOMAN

Why is the sky so red? What is it that is burning there?

SECOND WOMAN

Have mercy on us, O God! The fire seems to be moving toward us!

_Silence. The redness of the flames seems to be swaying over the
earth._

_Curtain_



SCENE IV


_Dawn. The sun has already risen, but it is hidden behind the
heavy mist and smoke._

_A large room in Emil Grelieu's villa, which has been turned
into a sickroom. There are two wounded there, Grelieu himself,
with a serious wound in his shoulder, and his son Maurice, with
a light wound on his right arm. The large window, covered with
half transparent curtains, admits a faint bluish light. The
wounded appear to be asleep. In an armchair at the bedside of
Grelieu there is a motionless figure in white, Jeanne_.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Softly._

Jeanne!

_She leans over the bed quickly_.

JEANNE

Shall I give you some water?

EMIL GRELIEU

No. You are tired.

JEANNE

Oh, no, not at all. I was dozing all night. Can't you fall
asleep, Emil?

EMIL GRELIEU

What time is it?

_She goes over to the window quietly, and pushing the curtain
aside slightly, looks at her little watch. Then she returns just
as quietly._

JEANNE

It is still early. Perhaps you will try to fall asleep, Emil? It
seems to me that you have been suffering great pain; you have
been groaning all night.

EMIL GRELIEU

No, I am feeling better. How is the weather this morning?

JEANNE

Nasty weather, Emil; you can't see the sun. Try to sleep.

_Silence. Suddenly Maurice utters a cry in his sleep; the cry
turns into a groan and indistinct mumbling. Jeanne walks over to
him and listens, then returns to her seat._

EMIL GRELIEU

Is the boy getting on well?

JEANNE

Don't worry, Emil. He only said a few words in his sleep.

EMIL GRELIEU

He has done it several times tonight.

JEANNE

I am afraid that he is disturbing you. We can have him removed
to another room and Henrietta will stay with him. The boy's
blood is in good condition. In another week, I believe, we shall
be able to remove the bandage from his arm.

EMIL GRELIEU

No, let him stay here, Jeanne.

JEANNE

What is it, my dear?

_She kneels at his bed and kisses his hand carefully._

EMIL GRELIEU

Jeanne!

JEANNE

I think your fever has gone down, my dear.

_Impresses another kiss upon his hand and clings to it._

EMIL GRELIEU

You are my love, Jeanne.

JEANNE

Do not speak, do not speak. Don't agitate yourself.

_A brief moment of silence._

EMIL GRELIEU

_Moving his head restlessly._

It is so hard to breathe here, the air----

JEANNE

The window has been open all night, my dear. There is not a
breeze outside.

EMIL GRELIEU

There is smoke.

JEANNE

Yes.

MAURICE

_Utters a cry once more, then mutters_--

Stop, stop, stop!

_Again indistinctly._

It is burning, it is burning! Oh! Who is going to the battery,
who is going to the battery----

_He mutters and then grows silent._

EMIL GRELIEU

What painful dreams!

JEANNE

That's nothing; the boy always used to talk in his sleep.
Yesterday he looked so well.

EMIL GRELIEU

Jeanne!

JEANNE

What is it, my dear?

EMIL GRELIEU

Sit down.

JEANNE

Very well.

EMIL GRELIEU

Jeanne.... Are you thinking about Pierre?

_Silence._

JEANNE

_Softly._

Don't speak of him.

EMIL GRELIEU

You are right. Death is not so terrible. Isn't that true, Jeanne?

JEANNE

_After a brief pause._

That's true.

EMIL GRELIEU

We shall follow him later. He will not come here, but we shall
go to him. I was thinking of it at night. It is so clear. Do you
remember the red rose which you gave him? I remember it.

JEANNE

Yes.

EMIL GRELIEU

It is so clear. Jeanne, lean over me. You are the best woman in
the world.

_Silence._

EMIL GRELIEU

_Tossing about in his bed._

It is so hard to breathe.

JEANNE

My dear----

EMIL GRELIEU

No, that's nothing. The night is tormenting me. Jeanne, was I
dreaming, or have I really heard cannonading?

JEANNE

You really heard it, at about five o'clock. But very far away,
Emil--it was hardly audible. Close your eyes, my dear, rest
yourself.

_Silence_

MAURICE

_Faintly._

Mamma!

_Jeanne walks over to him quietly._

JEANNE

Are you awake?

MAURICE

Yes. I have slept enough. How is father?

JEANNE

He is awake.

EMIL GRELIEU

Good morning, Maurice.

MAURICE

Good morning, papa. How do you feel? I am feeling well.

EMIL GRELIEU

I, too, am feeling well. Jeanne, you may draw the curtain aside.
I can't sleep any longer.

JEANNE

Very well. What a nasty day! Still it will be easier for you to
breathe when it is light.

_She draws the curtain aside slowly, so as not to make it too
light at once. Beyond the large window vague silhouettes of the
trees are seen at the window frames and several withered, bent
flowers. Maurice is trying to adjust the screen._

JEANNE

What are you doing, Maurice?

MAURICE

My coat--Never mind, I'll fix it myself.

_Guiltily._

No, mamma, you had better help me.

JEANNE

_Going behind the screen._

What a foolish boy you are, Maurice.

_Behind the screen._

Be careful, be careful, that's the way. Don't hurry, be careful.

MAURICE

_Behind the screen._

Pin this for me right here, as you did yesterday. That's very
good.

JEANNE

_Behind the screen._

Of course. Wait, you'll kiss me later--. Well? That's the way.

_Maurice comes out, his right arm dressed in a bandage. He goes
over to his father and first kisses his hand, then, upon a sign
from his eyes, he kisses him on the lips._

EMIL GRELIEU

Good morning, good morning, my dear boy.

MAURICE

_Looking around at the screen, where his mother is putting the
bed in order._

Papa, look!

_He takes his hand out of the bandage and straightens it
quickly. Then he puts it back just as quickly. Emil Grelieu
threatens him with his finger. Jeanne puts the screen aside, and
the bed is already in order._

JEANNE

I am through now. Maurice, come to the bathroom. I'll wash you.

MAURICE

Oh, no; under no circumstances. I'll wash myself today. Last
night I washed myself with my left hand and it was very fine.

_Walking over to the open window._

How nasty it is. These scoundrels have spoiled the day. Still,
it is warm and there is the smell of flowers. It's good, papa;
it is very fine.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, it is pleasant.

MAURICE

Well, I am going.

JEANNE

Clean your teeth; you didn't do it yesterday, Maurice.

MAURICE

_Grumbling. _

What's the use of it now? Very well, I'll do it.

_At the door. _

Papa, do you know, well have good news today; I feel it.

_He is heard calling in a ringing voice, "Silvina."_

EMIL GRELIEU

I feel better.

JEANNE

I'll let you have your coffee directly. You are looking much
better today, much better.

EMIL GRELIEU

What is this?

JEANNE

Perfume, with water. I'll bathe your face with it That's the
way. Now I again have little children to wash. You see how
pleasant it feels.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes. What did he say about good news?

JEANNE

He didn't mean anything. He is very happy because he is a hero.

EMIL GRELIEU

Do you know any news?

JEANNE

_Irresolutely._

Nothing. What news could there be?

EMIL GRELIEU

Tell me, Jeanne; you were firmer before. Tell me my dear.

JEANNE

Was I firmer? Perhaps.... I have grown accustomed to talk to
you softly at night. Well--how shall I tell it to you? They are
coming.

EMIL GRELIEU

Coming?

JEANNE

Yes. You know their numbers and ours. Don't be excited, but I
think that it will be necessary for us to leave for Antwerp
today.

EMIL GRELIEU

Are they near?

JEANNE

Yes, they are near. Very near.

_Sings softly._

"Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté." Very near. I have not told you
that the King inquired yesterday about your health. I answered
that you were feeling better and that you will be able to leave
today.

EMIL GRELIEU

Of course I am able to leave today. And what did he say about
them?

JEANNE

What did the King say?

_Singing the same tune._

He said that their numbers were too great.

EMIL GRELIEU

What else did he say? What else, Jeanne?

JEANNE

What else? He said that there was a God and there was
righteousness. That's what I believe I heard him say--that there
was still a God and that righteousness was still in existence.
How old these words are, Emil! But it is so good that they still
exist.

_Silence._

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, in the daytime you are so different. Where do you get so
much strength, Jeanne?

JEANNE

Where?

EMIL GRELIEU

I am forever looking at your hair. I am wondering why it hasn't
turned gray.

JEANNE

I dye it at night, Emil. I'll bring in some more flowers. Now
it is very cozy here. Oh, yes, I haven't told you yet--some one
will be here to see you today--Secretary Lagard and some one
else by the name of Count Clairmont.

EMIL GRELIEU

Count Clairmont? I don't know him.

JEANNE

It is not necessary that you should know him. He is simply known
as Count Clairmont, Count Clairmont--. That's a good name for a
very good man.

EMIL GRELIEU

I know a very good man in Belgium--

JEANNE

Tsh! You must not know anything. You must only remember--Count
Clairmont. They have some important matters to discuss with you,
I believe. And they'll send you an automobile, to take you to
Antwerp.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Smiling._

Count Clairmont?

JEANNE

_Also smiling._

Yes. You are loved by everybody, but if I were a King, I would
have sent you an aeroplane.

_Throwing back her hands in sorrow which she is trying vainly to
suppress._

Ah, how good it would be now to rise from the ground and
fly--and fly for a long, long time.

_Enter Maurice._

MAURICE

I am ready now, I have cleaned my teeth. I've even taken a walk
in the garden. But I have never before noticed that we have such
a beautiful garden! Papa, our garden is wonderfully beautiful!

JEANNE

Coffee will be ready directly. If he disturbs you with his talk,
call me, Emil.

MAURICE

Oh, I did not mean to disturb you. Forgive me, papa. I'll not
disturb you any more.

EMIL GRELIEU

You may speak, speak. I am feeling quite well, quite well.

JEANNE

But you must save your strength, don't forget that, Emil.

_Exit._

MAURICE

_Sitting down quietly at the window._

Perhaps I really ought not to speak, papa?

EMIL GRELIEU

_Smiling faintly._

Can you be silent?

MAURICE

_Blushing._

No, father, I cannot just now. I suppose I seem to you very
young.

EMIL GRELIEU

And what do you think of it yourself?

MAURICE

_Blushing again._

I am no longer as young as I was three weeks ago. Yes, only
three weeks ago--I remember the tolling of the bells in our
church, I remember how I teased François. How strange that
François has been lost and no one knows where he is. What does
it mean that a human being is lost and no one knows where he is?
Before, one could see everything on earth.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes.

MAURICE

Papa! Why do they hang such people as François? That is cruel
and stupid. Forgive me for speaking so harshly. But need an old
man love his fatherland less than I love it, for instance? The
old people love it even more intensely. Let everyone fight as he
can. I am not tiring you, am I? An old man came to us, he was
very feeble, he asked for bullets--well, let them hang me too--I
gave him bullets. A few of our regiment made sport of him, but
he said: "If only one Prussian bullet will strike me, it means
that the Prussians will have one bullet less." That appealed to
me.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, that appeals to me, too. Have you heard the cannonading at
dawn?

MAURICE

No. Why, was there any cannonading?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes. I heard cannonading. Did mamma tell you that they are
coming nearer and nearer? They are approaching.

MAURICE

_Rising._

Really? Impossible!

EMIL GRELIEU

They are coming, and we must leave for Antwerp today.

MAURICE

Yes.

_He rises and walks back and forth, forgetting his wounded arm.
He is greatly agitated. Clenches his fist._

MAURICE

Father, tell me: What do you think of the present state of
affairs?

EMIL GRELIEU

Mamma says there is a God and there is righteousness.

MAURICE

_Raising his hand._

Mamma says----Let God bless mamma! I don't know--I--. Very
well, very well. We shall see; we shall see!

_His face twitches like a child's face. He is trying to repress
his tears._

MAURICE

I still owe them something for Pierre. Forgive me, father; I
don't know whether I have a right to say this or not, but I am
altogether different from you. It is wicked but I can't help it.
I was looking this morning at your flowers in the garden and I
felt so sorry--sorry for you, because you had grown them. Those
rascals!

EMIL GRELIEU

Maurice!

MAURICE

The scoundrels! I don't want to consider them human beings, and
I shall not consider them human beings.

_Enter Jeanne._

JEANNE

What is it, Maurice? That isn't right.

MAURICE

Very well.

_As he passes he embraces his mother with his left hand and
kisses her._

JEANNE

You had better sit down. It is dangerous for your health to walk
around this way.

EMIL GRELIEU

Sit down, Maurice.

_Maurice sits down at the window facing the garden. Emil Grelieu
smiles sadly and closes his eyes. Silvina, the maid, brings in
coffee and sets it on the table near Grelieu's bed._

SILVINA

Good morning, Monsieur Emil.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Opening his eyes._

Good morning, Silvina.

_Exit Silvina._

JEANNE

Go and have your breakfast, Maurice.

MAURICE

_Without turning around._

I don't want any breakfast. Mamma, I'll take off my bandage
tomorrow.

JEANNE

_Laughing._

Soldier, is it possible that you are capricious?

_Silence. Jeanne helps Emil Grelieu with his coffee._

JEANNE

That's the way. Is it convenient for you this way, or do you
want to drink it with a spoon?

EMIL GRELIEU

Oh, my poor head, it is so weak--

MAURICE

_Going over to him._

Forgive me, father, I'll not do it any more. I was foolishly
excited, but do you know I could not endure it. May I have a
cup, mamma?

JEANNE

Yes, this is yours. You feel better now?

MAURICE

Yes, I do.

EMIL GRELIEU

I am feeling perfectly well today, Jeanne. When is the bandage
to be changed?

JEANNE

Later. Count Clairmont will bring his surgeon along with him.

MAURICE

Who is that, mamma? Have I seen him?

JEANNE

You'll see him. But, please, Maurice, when you see him, don't
open your mouth so wide. You have a habit--you open your mouth
and then you forget about it.

MAURICE

_Blushing._

You are both looking at me and smiling. But I have time yet to
grow. I have time yet to grow.

_The sound of automobiles is heard._

JEANNE

_Rising quickly._

I think they are here. Maurice, this is only Count Clairmont,
don't forget. I'll be back directly. They will speak with you
about a very, very important matter, Emil, but you must not be
agitated.

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes, I know.

JEANNE

_Kissing him quickly._

I am going.

_Exit, almost colliding with Silvina, who is excited._

MAURICE

_Whispering._

Who is it, Silvina?

_Silvina makes some answer in mingled delight and awe. Maurice's
face assumes the same expression as Silvina's. Silvina goes out.
Maurice walks quickly to the window and raises his left hand to
his forehead, straightening himself in military fashion. Thus he
stands until the others notice him._

_Enter Jeanne, Count Clairmont, followed by Secretary Lagard and
the Count's adjudant, an elderly General of stem appearance,
with numerous decorations upon his chest. The Count himself
is tall, well built and young, in a modest officer's uniform,
without any medals to signify his high station. He carries
himself very modestly, almost bashfully, but overcoming his
first uneasiness, he speaks warmly and powerfully and freely.
His gestures are swift. All treat him with profound respect._

_Lagard is a strong old man with a leonine gray head. He speaks
simply, his gestures are calm and resolute. It is evident that
he is in the habit of speaking from a platform._

_Jeanne holds a large bouquet of flowers in her hands. Count
Clairmont walks directly toward Grelieu's bedside._

COUNT CLAIRMONT

_Confused._

I have come to shake hands with you, my dear master. Oh, but
do not make a single unnecessary movement, not a single one,
otherwise I shall be very unhappy!

EMIL GRELIEU

I am deeply moved, I am happy.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

No, no, don't speak that way. Here stands before you only a man
who has learned to think from your books. But see what they have
done to you--look, Lagard!

LAGARD

How are you, Grelieu? I, too, want to shake your hand. Today I
am a Secretary by the will of Fate, but yesterday I was only a
physician, and I may congratulate you--you have a kind hand. Let
me feel your pulse.

GENERAL

_Coming forward modestly._

Allow me, too, in the name of this entire army of ours to
express to you our admiration, Monsieur Grelieu!

EMIL GRELIEU

I thank you. I am feeling perfectly well, Lagard.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

But perhaps it is necessary to have a surgeon?

JEANNE

He can listen and talk, Count. He is smiling--he can listen.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

_Noticing Maurice, confused._

Oh! who is this? Please put down your hand--you are wounded.

MAURICE

I am so happy, Count.

JEANNE

This is our second son. Our first son, Pierre, was killed at
Liège--

COUNT CLAIRMONT

I dare not console you, Madame Grelieu. Give me your hand,
Maurice.

MAURICE

Oh, Count! I am only a soldier. I dare not--

COUNT CLAIRMONT

My dear young man, I, too, am nothing but a soldier now. Your
hand, comrade. That's the way. Master! My children and my wife
have sent you flowers--but where are they? Oh! how absentminded
I am.

JEANNE

Here they are, Count.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

Thank you. But I did not know that your flowers were better than
mine, for my flowers smell of smoke.

LAGARD

Like all Belgium.

_To Count Clairmont._

His pulse is good. Grelieu, we have come to you not only to
express our sympathy. Through me all the working people of
Belgium are shaking your hand.

EMIL GRELIEU

I am proud of it, Lagard.

LAGARD

But we are just as proud. Yes; there is something we must
discuss with you. Count Clairmont did not wish to disturb you,
but I said: "Let him die, but before that we must speak to him."
Isn't that so, comrade?

EMIL GRELIEU

I am not dying. Maurice, I think you had better go out.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

_Quickly._

Oh, no, no. He is your son, Grelieu, and he should be present to
hear what his father will say. Oh, I should have been proud to
have such a father.

LAGARD

Our Count is a very fine young man--Pardon me, Count, I have
again upset our--

COUNT CLAIRMONT

That's nothing, I have already grown accustomed to it. Master,
it is necessary for you and your family to leave for Antwerp
today.

EMIL GRELIEU

Are our affairs in such a critical condition?

LAGARD

What is there to tell? Things are in bad shape, very bad. That
horde of Huns is coming upon us like the tide of the sea. Today
they are still there, but tomorrow they will flood your house,
Grelieu. They are coming toward Antwerp. To what can we resort
in our defence? On this side are they, and there is the sea.
Only very little is left of Belgium, Grelieu. Very soon there
will be no room even for my beard here. Isn't that so, Count?

_Silence. Dull sounds of cannonading are heard in the distance.
All turn their eyes to the window._

EMIL GRELIEU

Is that a battle?

COUNT CLAIRMONT

_Listening, calmly._

No, that is only the beginning. But tomorrow they will carry
their devilish weapons past your house. Do you know they are
real iron monsters, under whose weight our earth is quaking
and groaning. They are moving slowly, like amphibia that have
crawled out at night from the abyss--but they are moving!
Another few days will pass, and they will crawl over to Antwerp,
they will turn their jaws to the city, to the churches--Woe to
Belgium, master! Woe to Belgium!

LAGARD

Yes, it is very bad. We are an honest and peaceful people
despising bloodshed, for war is such a stupid affair! And we
should not have had a single soldier long ago were it not for
this accursed neighbor, this den of murderers.

GENERAL

And what would we have done without any soldiers, Monsieur
Lagard?

LAGARD

And what can we do with soldiers, Monsieur General?

COUNT CLAIRMONT

You are wrong, Lagard. With our little army there is still one
possibility--to die as freemen die. But without an army we would
have been bootblacks, Lagard!

LAGARD

_Grumbling._

Well, I would not clean anybody's boots. Things are in bad
shape, Grelieu, in very bad shape. And there is but one remedy
left for us--. True, it is a terrible remedy.

EMIL GRELIEU

I know.

LAGARD

Yes? What is it?

EMIL GRELIEU

The dam.

_Jeanne and Emil shudder and look at each other with terror in
their eyes._

COUNT CLAIRMONT

You shuddered, you are shuddering, madame. But what am I to do,
what are we to do, we who dare not shudder?

JEANNE

Oh, I simply thought of a girl who was trying to find her way to
Lonua. She will never find her way to Lonua.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

But what is to be done? What is to be done?

_All become thoughtful. The Count steps away to the window
and looks out, nervously twitching his mustaches. Maurice has
moved aside and, as before, stands at attention. Jeanne stands
a little distance away from him, with her shoulder leaning
against the wall, her beautiful pale head thrown back. Lagard is
sitting at the bedside as before, stroking his gray, disheveled
beard. The General is absorbed in gloomy thoughts._

COUNT CLAIRMONT

_Turning around resolutely._

I am a peaceful man, but I can understand why people take up
arms. Arms! That means a sword, a gun, explosive contrivances.
That is fire. Fire is killing people, but at the same time it
also gives light. Fire cleanses. There is something of the
ancient sacrifice in it. But water! cold, dark, silent, covering
with mire, causing bodies to swell--water, which was the
beginning of chaos; water, which is guarding the earth by day
and night in order to rush upon it. My friend, believe me, I am
quite a daring man, but I am afraid of water! Lagard, what would
you say to that?

LAGARD

We Belgians have too long been struggling against the water not
to have learned to fear it. I am also afraid of water.

JEANNE

But what is more terrible, the Prussians or water?

GENERAL

_Bowing._

Madame is right. The Prussians are not more terrible, but they
are worse.

LAGARD

Yes. We have no other choice. It is terrible to release water
from captivity, the beast from its den, nevertheless it is a
better friend to us than the Prussians. I would prefer to see
the whole of Belgium covered with water rather than extend a
hand of reconciliation to a scoundrel! Neither they nor we shall
live to see that, even if the entire Atlantic Ocean rush over
our heads.

_Brief pause._

GENERAL

But I hope that we shall not come to that. Meanwhile it is
necessary for us to flood only part of our territory. That is
not so terrible.

JEANNE

_Her eyes closed, her head hanging down._

And what is to be done with those who could not abandon their
homes, who are deaf, who are sick and alone? What will become of
our children?

_Silence._

JEANNE

There in the fields and in the ditches are the wounded. There
the shadows of people are wandering about, but in their veins
there is still warm blood. What will become of them? Oh, don't
look at me like that, Emil; you had better not listen to what I
am saying. I have spoken so only because my heart is wrung with
pain--it isn't necessary to listen to me at all, Count.

_Count Clairmont walks over to Grelieu's bed quickly and firmly.
At first he speaks confusedly, seeking the right word; then he
speaks ever more boldly and firmly._

COUNT CLAIRMONT

My dear and honored master! We would not have dared to take
from you even a drop of your health, if--if it were not for the
assurance that serving your people may give new strength to your
heroic soul! Yesterday, it was resolved at our council to break
the dams and flood part of our kingdom, but I could not, I dared
not, give my full consent before I knew what you had to say to
this plan. I did not sleep all night long, thinking--oh, how
terrible, how inexpressibly sad my thoughts were! We are the
body, we are the hands, we are the head--while you, Grelieu, you
are the conscience of our people. Blinded by the war, we may
unwillingly, unwittingly, altogether against our will, violate
man-made laws. Let your noble heart tell us the truth. My
friend! We are driven to despair, we have no Belgium any longer,
it is trampled by our enemies, but in your breast, Emil Grelieu,
the heart of all Belgium is beating--and your answer will be the
answer of our tormented, blood-stained, unfortunate land!

_He turns away to the window. Maurice is crying, looking at his
father._

LAGARD

_Softly._

Bravo, Belgium!

_Silence. The sound of cannonading is heard._

JEANNE

_Softly, to Maurice._

Sit down, Maurice, it is hard for you to stand.

MAURICE

Oh, mamma! I am so happy to stand here now--

LAGARD

Now I shall add a few words. As you know, Grelieu, I am a man of
the people. I know the price the people pay for their hard work.
I know the cost of all these gardens, orchards and factories
which we shall bury under the water. They have cost us sweat
and health and tears, Grelieu. These are our sufferings which
will be transformed into joy for our children. But as a nation
that loves and respects liberty above its sweat and blood and
tears--as a nation, I say, I would prefer that sea waves should
seethe here over our heads rather than that we should have to
black the boots of the Prussians. And if nothing but islands
remain of Belgium they will be known as "honest islands," and
the islanders will be Belgians as before.

_All are agitated._

EMIL GRELIEU

And what do the engineers say?

GENERAL

_Respectfully waiting for the Count's answer._

Monsieur Grelieu, they say this can be done in two hours.

LAGARD

_Grumbles._

In two hours! In two hours! How many years have we been building
it!

GENERAL

The engineers were crying when they said it, Monsieur.

LAGARD

The engineers were crying? But how could they help crying? Think
of it, Grelieu!

_Suddenly he bursts into sobs, and slowly takes a handkerchief
from his pocket._

COUNT CLAIRMONT

We are awaiting your answer impatiently, Grelieu. You are
charged with a grave responsibility to your fatherland--to lift
your hand against your own fatherland.

EMIL GRELIEU Have we no other defence?

_Silence. All stand in poses of painful anxiety. Lagard dries
his eyes and slowly answers with a sigh_.

LAGARD

No.

GENERAL

No.

JEANNE

_Shaking her head._

No.

COUNT CLAIRMONT

_Rapidly._

We must gain time, Grelieu. By the power of all our lives,
thrown in the fields, we cannot stop them.

_Stamping his foot._

Time, time! We must steal from fate a small part of eternity--a
few days, a week! They are hastening to us. The Russians are
coming to us from the East. The German steel has already
penetrated to the heart of the French land--and infuriated with
pain, the French eagle is rising over the Germans' bayonets
and is coming toward us! The noble knights of the sea--the
British--are already rushing toward us, and to Belgium are their
powerful arms stretched out over the abyss. But, time, time!
Give us time, Grelieu. Belgium is praying for a few days, for
a few hours! You have already given to Belgium your blood,
Grelieu, and you have the right to lift your hand against your
blood-stained fatherland!

_Brief pause._

EMIL GRELIEU

We must break the dams.

_Curtain_



SCENE V


_Night. A small house occupied by the German staff. A sentinel
on guard at the door leading to the rooms occupied by the
Commander of the army. All the doors and windows are open. The
room is illuminated with candles. Two officers on duty are
talking lazily, suffering apparently from the heat. All is quiet
in the camp. Only from time to time the measured footsteps of
pickets are heard, and muffled voices and angry exclamations._

VON RITZAU

Do you feel sleepy, von Stein?

VON STEIN

I don't feel sleepy, but I feel like smoking.

RITZAU

A bad habit! But you may smoke near the window.

STEIN

But what if _he_ should come in? Thank you, von Ritzau. What
a stifling night! Not a breath of pure air enters the lungs.
The air is poisoned with the smell of smoke. We must invent
something against this obnoxious odor. Take it up, Ritzau.

RITZAU

I am not an inventor. First of all it is necessary to wring out
the air as they wring the clothes they wash, and dry it in the
sun. It is so moist, I feel as though I were diving in it. Do
you know whether _he_ is in a good mood today?

STEIN

Why, is he subject to moods, good or bad?

RITZAU

Great self-restraint!

STEIN

Have you ever seen him undressed--or half-dressed? Or have you
ever seen his hair in disorder? He is a wonderful old man!

RITZAU

He speaks so devilishly little, Stein.

STEIN

He prefers to have his cannon speak. It is quite a powerful
voice, isn't it, Ritzau?

_They laugh softly. A tall, handsome officer enters quickly and
goes toward the door leading to the room of the Commander._

Blumenfeld! Any news?

_The tall officer waves his hand and opens the door cautiously,
ready to make his bow._

He is malting his career!

RITZAU

He is a good fellow. I can't bear it, Stein. I am suffocating
here.

STEIN

Would you rather be in Paris?

RITZAU

I would prefer any less unbearable country to this. How dull it
must be here in the winter time.

STEIN

But we have saved them from dullness for a long time to come.
Were you ever in the Montmartre cafés, Ritzau?

RITZAU

Of course!

STEIN

Doesn't one find there a wonderful refinement, culture and
innate elegance? Unfortunately, our Berlin people are far
different.

RITZAU

Oh, of course. Great!

_The tall officer comes out of the door, stepping backward. He
heaves a sigh of relief and sits down near the two officers.
Takes out a cigar._

VON BLUMENFELD How are things?

RITZAU

Very well. We were talking of Paris.

STEIN

Then I am going to smoke too.

BLUMENFELD

You may smoke. He is not coming out Do you want to hear
important news?

STEIN

Well?

BLUMENFELD He laughed just now I

STEIN

Really!

BLUMENFELD

Upon my word of honor! And he touched my shoulder with two
fingers--do you understand?

STEIN

_With envy._

Of course! I suppose you brought him good news, Blumenfeld?

_The military telegraphist, standing at attention, hands
Blumenfeld a folded paper._

TELEGRAPHIST

A radiogram, Lieutenant!

BLUMENFELD

Let me have it.

_Slowly he puts his cigar on the window sill and enters the
Commander's room cautiously._

STEIN

He's a lucky fellow. You may say what you please about luck,
but it exists. Who is this Blumenfeld? Von?--Did you know his
father? Or his grandfather?

RITZAU

I have reason to believe that he had no grandfather at all. But
he is a good comrade.

_Blumenfeld comes out and rejoins the two officers, taking up
his cigar._

STEIN

Another military secret?

BLUMENFELD

Of course. Everything that is said and done here is a military
secret. But I may tell you about it. The information we have
received concerns our new siege guns--they are advancing
successfully.

STEIN

Oho!

BLUMENFELD

Yes, successfully. They have just passed the most difficult part
of the road--you know where the swamps are--

STEIN

Oh, yes.

RITZAU

Great!

BLUMENFELD

The road could not support the heavy weight and caved in.
Our commander was very uneasy. He ordered a report about the
movement at each and every kilometer.

STEIN

Now he will sleep in peace.

BLUMENFELD

He never sleeps, von Stein.

STEIN

That's true.

BLUMENFELD

He never sleeps, von Stein! When he is not listening to
reports or issuing commands, he is thinking. As the personal
correspondent of his Highness I have the honor to know many
things which others are not allowed to know--Oh, gentlemen, he
has a wonderful mind!

RITZAU

Great!

_Another very young officer enters, stands at attention before
Blumenfeld._

BLUMENFELD

Sit down, von Schauss. I am talking about our Commander.

SCHAUSS

Oh!

BLUMENFELD

He has a German philosophical mind which manages guns as
Leibnitz managed ideas. Everything is preconceived, everything
is prearranged, the movement of our millions of people has been
elaborated into such a remarkable system that Kant himself
would have been proud of it. Gentlemen, we are led forward by
indomitable logic and by an iron will. We are inexorable as Fate.

_The officers express their approval by subdued exclamations of
"bravo."_

BLUMENFELD

How can he sleep, if the movement of our armies is but the
movement of parts of his brains! And what is the use of sleep
in general? I sleep very little myself, and I advise you,
gentlemen, not to indulge in foolish sleep.

RITZAU

But our human organism requires sleep.

BLUMENFELD

Nonsense! Organism--that is something invented by the doctors
who are looking for practice among the fools. I know of no
organism. I know only my desires and my will, which says:
"Gerhardt, do this! Gerhardt, go there! Gerhardt, take this!"
And I take it!

RITZAU

Great!

SCHAUSS

Will you permit me to take down your words in my notebook?

BLUMENFELD

Please, Schauss. What is it you want, Zigler?

_The telegraphist has entered._

ZIGLER

I really don't know, but something strange has happened. It
seems that we are being interfered with, I can't understand
anything.

BLUMENFELD

What is it? What is the matter?

ZIGLER

We can make out one word, "Water"--but after that all is
incomprehensible. And then again, "Water"--

BLUMENFELD

What water? You are intoxicated, Zigler. That must be wine, not
water. Is the engineer there?

ZIGLER

He is also surprised and cannot understand.

BLUMENFELD

You are a donkey, Zigler! We'll have to call out--

_The Commander comes out. He is a tall, erect old man. His face
is pale. His voice is dry and unimpassioned._

COMMANDER

Blumenfeld!

_All jump up, straighten themselves, as if petrified._

What is this?

BLUMENFELD

I have not yet investigated it, your Highness. Zigler is
reporting--

COMMANDER

What is it, Zigler?

ZIGLER

Your Highness, we are being interfered with. I don't know what
it is, but I can't understand anything. We have been able to
make out only one word--"Water." Then again--"Water."

COMMANDER

_Turning around._

See what it is, Blumenfeld, and report to me--

_Engineer runs in._

ENGINEER

Where is Blumenfeld? I beg your pardon, your Highness!

COMMANDER

_Pausing._

What has happened there, Kloetz?

ENGINEER

They don't respond to our calls, your Highness. They are silent
like the dead. Something has happened there.

COMMANDER

You think something serious has happened?

ENGINEER

I dare not think so, your Highness, but I am alarmed. Silence is
the only answer to our most energetic calls. But Greitzer wishes
to say something. ... Well? What is it, Greitzer?

_The second telegraphist has entered quietly._

GREITZER

They are silent, your Highness.

_Brief pause._

COMMANDER

_Again turning to the door._

Please investigate this, Lieutenant.

_He advances a step to the door, then stops. There is a
commotion behind the windows--a noise and the sound of voices.
The word "water" is repeated frequently. The noise keeps
growing, turning at times into a loud roar._

What is that?

_All turn to the window. An officer, bareheaded, rushes in
excitedly, his hair disheveled, his face pale._

OFFICER

I want to see his Highness. I want to see his Highness!

BLUMENFELD

_Hissing._

You are insane!

COMMANDER

Calm yourself, officer.

OFFICER

Your Highness! I have the honor to report to you that the
Belgians have burst the dams, and our armies are flooded. Water!

_With horror._

We must hurry, your Highness!

COMMANDER

Hurry! I ask you to calm yourself, officer. What about our guns?

OFFICER

They are flooded, your Highness.

COMMANDER

Compose yourself, you are not behaving properly! I am asking you
about our field guns--

OFFICER

They are flooded, your Highness. The water is coming this
way. We must hurry, your Highness, we are in a valley. This
place is very low. They have broken the dams; and the water is
rushing this way violently. It is only five kilometers away from
here--and we can hardly--. I beg your pardon, your Highness!

_Silence. The commotion without is growing louder. Glimmering
lights appear. The beginning of a terrible panic is felt,
embracing the entire camp. All watch impatiently the reddening
face of the Commander._

COMMANDER

But this is--

_He strikes the table with his fist forcibly._

Absurd!

_He looks at them with cold fury, but all lower their eyes. The
frightened officer is trembling and gazing at the window. The
lights grow brighter outside--it is evident that a building has
been set on fire. The voices without have turned into a roar. A
dull noise, then the crash of shots is heard. The discipline is
disappearing gradually._

BLUMENFELD

They have gone mad!

OFFICER

They are firing! It is an attack!

STEIN

But that can't be the Belgians!

RITZAU

They may have availed themselves--

BLUMENFELD

Aren't you ashamed, Stein? Aren't you ashamed, gentlemen?

COMMANDER Silence! I beg of you--

_Suddenly a piercing, wild sound of a horn is heard ordering to
retreat. The roaring sound is growing rapidly._

COMMANDER

_Shots._

Who has commanded to retreat? Who dares command when I am here?
What a disgrace, Blumenfeld! Order them to return!

_Blumenfeld lowers his head._

COMMANDER

This is not the German Army! You are unworthy of being called
soldiers! Shame! I am ashamed to call myself your general!
Cowards!

BLUMENFELD

_Stepping forward, with dignity._

Your Highness!

OFFICER

Eh! We are not fishes to swim in the water!

_Runs out, followed by two or three others. The panic is
growing._

BLUMENFELD

Your Highness! We ask you--. Your life is in danger--your
Highness.

_Some one else runs out. The room is almost empty. Only the
sentinel remains in the position of one petrified._

BLUMENFELD

Your Highness! I implore you. Your life--I am afraid that
another minute, and it will be too late! Oh, your Highness!

COMMANDER

But this is--

_Again strikes the table with his fist._

But this is absurd, Blumenfeld!

_Curtain_



SCENE VI


_The same hour of night. In the darkness it is difficult to
discern the silhouettes of the ruined buildings and of the
trees. At the right, a half-destroyed bridge. In the distance a
fire is burning. From time to time the German flashlights are
seen across the dark sky. Near the bridge, an automobile in
which the wounded Emil Grelieu and his son are being carried to
Antwerp. Jeanne and a young physician are with them. Something
has broken down in the automobile and a soldier-chauffeur is
bustling about with a lantern trying to repair it. Dr. Langloi
stands near him._


DOCTOR

_Uneasily._

Well? How is it?

CHAUFFEUR

_Examining._

I don't know yet.

DOCTOR

Is it a serious break?

CHAUFFEUR

No--I don't know.

MAURICE

_From the automobile._

What is it, Doctor? Can't we start?

CHAUFFEUR

_Angrily._

We'll start!

DOCTOR

I don't know. Something is out of order. He says it isn't
serious.

MAURICE

Shall we stay here long?

DOCTOR

_To the chauffeur._

Shall we stay here long?

CHAUFFEUR

_Angrily._

How do I know? About ten minutes I think. Please hold the light
for me.

_Hands the lantern to the doctor._

MAURICE

Then I will come out.

JEANNE

You had better stay here, Maurice. You may hurt your arm.

MAURICE

No, mother, I am careful. Where is the step? How inconvenient.
Why don't they throw the flashlight here?

_Jumps off and watches the chauffeur at work._

MAURICE

How unfortunate that we are stuck here!

CHAUFFEUR

_Grumbling._

A bridge! How can anybody drive across such a bridge?

DOCTOR

Yes, it is unfortunate. We should have started out earlier.

MAURICE

_Shrugging his shoulders._

Father did not want to leave. How could we start? Mamina, do
you think our people are already in Antwerp?

JEANNE

Yes, I think so. Emil, aren't you cold?

EMIL GRELIEU

No. It is very pleasant to breathe the fresh air. I feel
stronger.

DOCTOR

_To Maurice._

I think we are still in the region which--

MAURICE

Yes. What time is it, Doctor?

DOCTOR

_Looking at his watch._

Twenty--a quarter of ten.

MAURICE

Then it is a quarter of an hour since the bursting of the dams.
Yes! Mamma, do you hear, it is a quarter of ten now!

JEANNE

Yes, I hear.

MAURICE

But it is strange that we haven't heard any explosions.

DOCTOR

How can you say that, Monsieur Maurice? It is very far away.

MAURICE

I thought that such explosions would be heard a hundred
kilometers away. My God, how strange it is! Our house and our
garden will soon be flooded! I wonder how high the water will
rise. Do you think it will reach up to the second story?

DOCTOR

Possibly. Well, how are things moving?

CHAUFFEUR

_Grumbling._

I am working.

MAURICE

Look, look! Mamma, see how the searchlights are working. They
seem to be frightened. Father, do you see them?

EMIL GRELIEU

Jeanne, lift me a little.

JEANNE

My dear, I don't know whether I am allowed to do it.

DOCTOR

You may lift him a little, if it isn't very painful. The bandage
is tight.

JEANNE

Do you feel any pain?

EMIL GRELIEU

No. They are frightened.

MAURICE

Father, they are flashing the searchlights across the sky like
madmen. Look, look!

_A bluish light is flashed over them, faintly illuminating the
whole group._

MAURICE

Right into my eyes! Does that come from an elevation, father?

EMIL GRELIEU

I suppose so. Either they have been warned, or the water is
reaching them by this time.

JEANNE

Do you think so, Emil?

EMIL GRELIEU

Yes. It seems to me that I hear the sound of the water from that
side.

_All listen and look in the direction from which the noise came._

DOCTOR

_Uneasily._

How unpleasant this is! We should have started out sooner. We
are too late.

MAURICE

Father, it seems to me I hear voices. Listen--it sounds as
though they are crying there. Many, many people. Father, the
Prussians are crying. It is they!

_A distant, dull roaring of a crowd is heard. Then the crash of
shots resounds. Sobs of military horns. The searchlights are
swaying from side to side._

EMIL GRELIEU

It is they.

DOCTOR

If we don't start in a quarter of an hour--

EMIL GRELIEU

In half an hour, Doctor.

MAURICE

Father, how beautiful and how terrible it is! Give me your hand,
mother.

JEANNE

What is it?

MAURICE

I want to kiss it. Mother, you have no gloves on!

JEANNE

What a foolish little boy you are, Maurice.

MAURICE

Monsieur Langloi said that in three days from now I may remove
my bandage. Just think of it, in three days I shall be able to
take up my gun again!... Oh, who is that? Look, who is that?

_All near the automobile assume defensive positions. The
chauffeur and the doctor draw their revolvers. A figure appears
from the field, approaching from one of the ditches. A peasant,
wounded in the leg, comes up slowly, leaning upon a cane._

MAURICE

Who is there?

PEASANT

Our own, our own. And who are you? Are you going to the city?

MAURICE

Yes, we're going to the city. Our car has broken down, we're
repairing it. What are you doing here?

PEASANT

What am I doing here?

_Examines the unfamiliar faces curiously. They also look at him
attentively, by the light of the lantern._

CHAUFFEUR

Give me the light!

PEASANT

Are you carrying a wounded man? I am also wounded, in my leg. I
cannot walk, it is very hard. I must lean on my cane. Are you
going to the city? I lay there in the ditch and when I heard you
speak French I crawled out. My name is Jaqular.

DOCTOR

How were you wounded?

PEASANT

I was walking in the field and they shot me. They must have
thought I was a rabbit.

_Laughs hoarsely._

They must have thought I was a rabbit. What is the news,
gentlemen? Is our Belgium lost?

_Laughs._

Eh? Is our Belgium lost?

MAURICE

Don't you know?

PEASANT

What can I know? I lay there and looked at the sky--that's all I
know. Did you see the sky? Just look at it, I have been watching
it all the time. What is that I see in the sky, eh? How would
you explain it?

EMIL GRELIEU

Sit down near us.

MAURICE

Listen, sit down here. It seems you haven't heard anything. You
must get away from here. Do you know that the dams are broken?
Do you understand? The dams!

PEASANT

The dams?

MAURICE

Yes. Don't you hear the cries over there? Listen! They are
crying there--the Prussians!

PEASANT

Water?

MAURICE

Water. It must be reaching them now. They must have learned of
it by this time. Listen, it is so far, and yet we can hear!

_The peasant laughs hoarsely._

MAURICE

Sit down, right here, the automobile is large. Doctor, help him.
I will hold the lantern.

CHAUFFEUR

_Muttering._

Sit down, sit down! Eh!

DOCTOR

_Uneasily._

What is it? Bad? Chauffeur, be quick! We can't stay here! The
water is coming. We should have started out earlier.

MAURICE

What an unfortunate mishap!

JEANNE

_Agitated._

They shot you like a rabbit? Do you hear, Emil--they thought a
rabbit was running! Did you resemble a rabbit so closely?

_She laughs loudly, the peasant also laughs._

PEASANT

I look like a rabbit! Exactly like a rabbit.

JEANNE

Do you hear, Emil? He says he looks exactly like a rabbit!

_Laughs._

EMIL GRELIEU

Jeanne!

MAURICE

Mamma!

JEANNE

It makes me laugh--it seems so comical to me that they mistake
us for rabbits. And now, what are we now--water rats? Emil, just
picture to yourself, water rats in an automobile!

MAURICE

Mamma!

JEANNE

No, no, I am not laughing any more, Maurice!

_Laughs._

And what else are we? Moles? Must we hide in the ground?

PEASANT

_Laughs._

And now we must hide in the ground--

JEANNE

_In the same tone._

And they will remain on the ground? Emil, do you hear?

EMIL GRELIEU

My dear! My dear!

MAURICE

_To the doctor._

Listen, you must do something. Haven't you anything? Listen!
Mamma, we are starting directly, my dear!

JEANNE

No, never mind, I am not laughing any more. How foolish you are.
Maurice, I simply felt like talking. I was silent too long. I
was forever silent, but just now I felt like chattering. Emil,
I am not disturbing you with my talk, am I? Why is the water so
quiet, Emil? It was the King who said, "The water is silent,"
was it not? But I should like to see it roar, crash like
thunder.... No, I cannot, I cannot bear this silence! Ah, why is
it so quiet--I cannot bear it!

MAURICE

_To the chauffeur._

My dear fellow, please hurry up!

CHAUFFEUR

Yes, yes! I'm working, I'm working. We'll start soon.

JEANNE

_Suddenly cries, threatening._

But I cannot bear it! I cannot!

_Covers her mouth with her hands; sobs._

I cannot!

MAURICE

Mamma!

EMIL GRELIEU

All will end well, Jeanne. All will end well. I know. I also
feel as you do. But all will end well, Jeanne!

JEANNE

_Sobbing, but calming herself somewhat._

I cannot bear it!

EMIL GRELIEU

All will end well, Jeanne! Belgium will live! The sun will
shine! I am suffering, but I know this, Jeanne!

MAURICE

Quicker! Quicker!

CHAUFFEUR

In a moment, in a moment. Now it is fixed, in a moment.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Faintly._

Jeanne!

JEANNE

Yes, yes, I know.... Forgive me, forgive me, I will soon--

_A loud, somewhat hoarse voice of a girl comes from the dark._

GIRL

Tell me how I can find my way to Lonua!

_Exclamations of surprise._

MAURICE

Who is that?

JEANNE

Emil, it is that girl!

_Laughs._

She is also like a rabbit!

DOCTOR

_Grumbles._

What is it, what is it--Who?

_Throws the light on the girl. Her dress is torn, her eyes look
wild. The peasant is laughing._

PEASANT

She is here again?

CHAUFFEUR

Let me have the light!

DOCTOR

Very well!

GIRL

_Loudly._

How can I find my way to Lonua?

EMIL GRELIEU

Maurice, you must stop her! My child, my child! Doctor, you--

CHAUFFEUR

Put down the lantern! The devil take this!

GIRL

_Shouts._

Hands off! No, no, you will not dare--

MAURICE

You can't catch her--

_The girl runs away._

EMIL GRELIEU

Doctor, you must catch her! She will perish here, quick--

_She runs away. The doctor follows her in the dark._

PEASANT

She asked me, too, how to go to Lonua. How am I to know? Lonua!

_The girl's voice resounds in the dark and then there is
silence._

EMIL GRELIEU

You must catch her! What is it? You must!

MAURICE

But how, father?

_They listen. Silence. Dull cries of a mob resound. Jeanne
breaks into muffled laughter._

MAURICE

_Mutters._

Now he is gone! Oh, my God!

CHAUFFEUR

_Triumphantly._

Take your seats! Ready!

MAURICE

But the doctor isn't here. Oh, my God! Father, what shall we do
now?

CHAUFFEUR

Let us call him. Eh!

_Maurice and the chauffeur call: "Doctor! Eh! Langloi!"_

CHAUFFEUR

_Angrily._

I must deliver Monsieur Grelieu, and I will deliver him. Take
your seats!

MAURICE

_Shouts._

Langloi!

_A faint echo in the distance._

Come! Doctor!

_The response is nearer._

PEASANT

He did not catch her. You cannot catch her. She asked me, too,
about the road to Lonua. She is insane.

_Laughs._

There are many like her now.

EMIL GRELIEU

_Imploringly._

Jeanne!

JEANNE

But I cannot, Emil. What is it? I cannot understand. What is
it? Where are we? My God, I don't understand anything. I used
to understand, I used to understand, but now--Where is Pierre?
_Firmly._

Where is Pierre?

MAURICE

Oh, will he be here soon? Mother dear, we'll start in a moment!

JEANNE

Yes, yes, we'll start in a moment! But I don't understand
anything. Where are we? Why such a dream, why such a dream? I
can't understand! Who has come? My head is aching. Who has come?
Why has it happened?

_A mice from the darkness, quite near._

JEANNE

_Frightened._

Who is shouting? What a strange dream, what a terrible,
terrible, terrible dream. Where is Pierre?

MAURICE

Mother!

JEANNE

I cannot!

_Lowering her voice._

I cannot--why are you torturing me? Where is Pierre?

EMIL GRELIEU

He is dead, Jeanne!

JEANNE

No!!!

EMIL GRELIEU

He is dead, Jeanne. But I swear to you by God, Jeanne!--Belgium
will live. Weep, sob, you are a mother. I too am crying with
you--But I swear by God: Belgium will live! God has given me the
light to see, and I can see. Songs will resound here. Jeanne!
A new Spring will come here, the trees will be covered with
blossoms--I swear to you, Jeanne, they will be covered with
blossoms! And mothers will caress their children, and the sun
will shine upon their heads, upon their golden-haired little
heads! Jeanne! There will be no more bloodshed. I see a new
world, Jeanne! I see my nation: Here it is advancing with palm
leaves to meet God who has come to earth again. Weep, Jeanne,
you are a mother! Weep, unfortunate mother--God weeps with you.
But there will be happy mothers here again--I see a new world,
Jeanne, I see a new life!

_Curtain_





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