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Plays: The Father; Countess Julie; The Outlaw; The Stronger by August Strindberg

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goes to the door at left and opens it slightly.]

CAPTAIN. Come in, and we'll talk. I heard you out there listening.
[Laura, embarrassed. Captain sits at desk.] It is late, but we must
come to some decision. Sit down. [Pause.] I have been at the post
office tonight to get my letters. From these it appears that you
have been keeping back my mail, both coming and going. The
consequence of which is that the loss of time has its good as
destroyed the result I expected from my work.

LAURA. It was an act of kindness on my part, as you neglected the
service for this other work.

CAPTAIN. It was hardly kindness, for you were quite sure that some
day I should win more honor from that, than from the service; but
you were particularly anxious that I should not win such honors,
for fear your own insignificance would be emphasized by it. In
consequence of all this I have intercepted letters addressed to
you.

LAURA. That was a noble act.

CAPTAIN. You see, you have, as you might say, a high opinion of me.
It appears from these letters that, for some time past you have
been arraying my old friends against me by spreading reports about
my mental condition. And you Dave succeeded in your efforts, for
now not more than one person exists from the Colonel down to the
cook, who believes that I am sane. Now these are the facts about my
illness; my mind is sound, as you know, so that I can take care of
my duties in the service as well its my responsibilities as a
father; my feelings are more or less under my control, as my will
has not been completely undermined; but you have gnawed and nibbled
at it so that it will soon slip the cogs, and then the whole
mechanism will slip and go to smash. I will not appeal to your
feelings, for you have none; that is your strength; but I will
appeal to your interests.

LAURA. Let me hear.

CAPTAIN. You have succeeded in arousing my suspicions to such an
extent that my judgment is no longer clear, and my thoughts begin
to wander. This is the approaching insanity that you are waiting
for, which may come at any time now. So you are face to face with
the question whether it is more to your interest that I should be
sane or insane. Consider. If I go under I shall lose the service,
and where will you be then? If I die, my life insurance will fall
to you. But if I take my own life, you will get nothing.
Consequently, it is to your interest that I should live out my
life.

LAURA. Is this a trap?

CAPTAIN. To be sure. But it rests with you whether you will run
around it or stick your head into it.

LAURA. You say that you will kill yourself! You won't do that!

CAPTAIN. Are you sure? Do you think a man can live when he has
nothing and no one to live for?

LAURA. You surrender, then?

CAPTAIN. No, I offer peace.

LAURA. The conditions?

CAPTAIN. That I may keep my reason. Free me from my suspicions and
I give up the conflict.

LAURA. What suspicions?

CAPTAIN. About Bertha's origin.

LAURA. Are there any doubts about that?

CAPTAIN. Yes, I have doubts, and you have awakened them.

LAURA. I?

CAPTAIN. Yes, you have dropped them like henbane in my ears, and
circumstances have strengthened them. Free me from the uncertainty;
tell me outright that it is true and I will forgive you beforehand.

LAURA. How can I acknowledge a sin that I have not committed?

CAPTAIN. What does it matter when you know that I shall not divulge
it? Do you think a man would go and spread his own shame broadcast?

LAURA. If I say it isn't true, you won't be convinced; but if I say
it is, then you will be convinced. You seem to hope it is true!

CAPTAIN. Yes, strangely enough; it must be, because the first
supposition can't be proved; the latter can be.

LAURA. Have you tiny ground for your suspicions?

CAPTAIN. Yes, and no.

LAURA. I believe you want to prove me guilty, so that you can get
rid of me and then have absolute control over the child. But you
won't catch me in any such snare.

CAPTAIN. Do you think that I would want to be responsible for
another man's child, if I were convinced of your guilt?

LAURA. No, I'm sure you wouldn't, and that's what makes me know you
lied just now when you said that you would forgive me beforehand.

CAPTAIN. [Rises]. Laura, save me and my reason. You don't seem to
understand what I say. If the child is not mine I have no control
over her and don't want to have any, and that is precisely what you
do want, isn't it? But perhaps you want even more--to have power
over the child, but still have me to support you.

LAURA. Power, yes! What has this whole life and death struggle been
for but power?

CAPTAIN. To me it has meant more. I do not believe in a hereafter;
the child was my future life. That was my conception of
immortality, and perhaps the only one that has any analogy in
reality. If you take that away from me, you cut off my life.

LAURA. Why didn't we separate in time?

CAPTAIN. Because the child bound us together; but the link became a
chain. And how did it happen; how? I have never thought about this,
but now memories rise up accusingly, condemningly perhaps. We had
been married two years, and had no children; you know why. I fell
ill and lay at the point of death. During a conscious interval of
the fever I heard voices out in the drawing-room. It was you and
the lawyer talking about the fortune that I still possessed. He
explained that you could inherit nothing because we had no
children, and he asked you if you were expecting to become a
mother. I did not hear your reply. I recovered and we had a child.
Who is its father?

LAURA. You.

CAPTAIN. No, I am not. Here is a buried crime that begins to
stench, and what a hellish crime! You women have been compassionate
enough to free the black slaves, but you have kept the white ones.
I have worked and slaved for you, your child, your mother, your
servants; I have sacrificed promotion and career; I have endured
torture, flaggellation, sleeplessness, worry for your sake, until
my hair has grown gray; and all that you might enjoy a life without
care, and when you grew old, enjoy life over again in your child. I
have borne everything without complaint, because I thought myself
the father of your child. This is the commonest kind of theft, the
most brutal slavery. I have had seventeen years of penal servitude
and have been innocent. What can you give me in return for that?

LAURA. Now you are quite mad.

CAPTAIN. That is your hope!--And I see how you have labored to
conceal your crime. I sympathized with you because I did not
understand your grief. I have often lulled your evil conscience to
rest when I thought I was driving away morbid thoughts. I have
heard you cry out in your sleep and not wanted to listen. I
remember now night before last--Bertha's birthday--it was between
two and three in the morning, and I was sitting up reading; you
shrieked, "Don't, don't!" as if someone were strangling you; I
knocked on the wall--I didn't want to hear any more. I have had my
suspicions for a long time but I did not dare to hear them
confirmed. All this I have suffered for you. What will you do for
me?

LAURA. What can I do? I will swear by God and all I hold sacred
that you are Bertha's father.

CAPTAIN. What use is that when you have often said that a mother
can and ought to commit any crime for her child? I implore you as a
wounded man begs for a death blow, to tell me all. Don't you see
I'm as helpless as a child? Don't you hear me complaining as to a
mother? Won't you forget that I am a man, that I am a soldier who
can tame men and beasts with a word? Like a sick man I only ask for
compassion. I lay down the tokens of my power and implore you to
have mercy on my life.

[Laura approaches him and lays her hand on his brow.]

LAURA. What! You are crying, man!

CAPTAIN. Yes, I am crying although I am a man. But has not a man
eyes! Has not a man hands, limbs, senses, thoughts, passions? Is he
not fed with the wine food, hurt by the same weapons, warmed and
cooled by the same summer and winter as a woman? If you prick us do
we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? And if you poison
us, do we not die? Why shouldn't a man complain, a soldier weep?
Because it is unmanly? Why is it unmanly?

LAURA. Weep then, my child, as if you were with your mother once
more. Do you remember when I first came into your life, I was like
a second mother? Your great strong body needed nerves; you were a
giant child that had either come too early into the world, or
perhaps was not wanted at all.

CAPTAIN. Yes, that's how it was. My father's and my mother's will
was against my coming into the world, and consequently I was born
without a will. I thought I was completing myself when you and I
became one, and therefore you were allowed to rule, and I, the
commander at the barracks and before the troops, became obedient to
you, grew through you, looked up to you as to it more highly-gifted
being, listened to you as if I had been your undeveloped child.

LAURA. Yes, that's the way it was, and therefore I loved you as my
child. But you know, you must have seen, when the nature of your
feelings changed and you appeared as my lover that I blushed, and
your embraces were joy that was followed by a remorseful conscience
as if my blood were ashamed. The mother became the mistress. Ugh!

CAPTAIN. I saw it, but I did not understand. I believed you
despised me for my unmanliness, and I wanted to win you as a woman
by being a man.

LAURA. Yes, but there was the mistake. The mother was your friend,
you see, but the woman was your enemy, and love between the sexes
is strife. Do not think that I gave myself; I did not give, but I
took--what I wanted. But you had one advantage. I felt that, and I
wanted you to feel it.

CAPTAIN. You always had the advantage. You could hypnotize me when
I was wide awake, so that I neither saw nor heard, but merely
obeyed; you could give me a raw potato and make me imagine it was a
peach; you could force me to admire your foolish caprices as though
they were strokes of genius. You could have influenced me to crime,
yes, even to mean, paltry deeds. Because you lacked intelligence,
instead of carrying out my ideas you acted on your own judgment.
But when at last I awoke, I realized that my honor had been
corrupted and I wanted to blot out the memory by a great deed, an
achievement, a discovery, or an honorable suicide. I wanted to go
to war, but was not permitted. It was then that I threw myself into
science. And now when I was about to reach out my hand to gather in
its fruits, you chop off my arm. Now I am dishonored and can live
no longer, for a man cannot live without honor.

LAURA. But a woman?

CAPTAIN. Yes, for she has her children, which he has not. But, like
the rest of mankind, we lived our lives unconscious as children,
full of imagination, ideals, and illusions, and then we awoke; it
was all over. But we awoke with our feet on the pillow, and he who
waked us was himself a sleep-walker. When women grow old and cease
to be women, they get beards on their chins; I wonder what men get
when they grow old and cease to be men. Those who crowed were no
longer cocks but capons, and the pullets answered their call, so
that when we thought the sun was about to rise we found ourselves
in the bright moon light amid ruins, just as in the good old times.
It had only been a little morning slumber with wild dreams, and
there was no awakening.

LAURA. Do you know, you should have been a poet!

CAPTAIN. Who knows.

LAURA. Now I am sleepy, so if you have any more fantastic visions
keep them till to-morrow.

CAPTAIN. First, a word more about realities. Do you hate me?

LAURA. Yes, sometimes, when you are a man.

CAPTAIN. This is like race hatred. If it is true that we are
descended from monkeys, at least it must be from two separate
species. We are certainly not like one another, are we?

LAURA. What do you mean to say by all this?

CAPTAIN. I feel that one of us must go under in this struggle.

LAURA. Which?

CAPTAIN. The weaker, of course.

LAURA. And the stronger will be in the right?

CAPTAIN. Always, since he has the power.

LAURA. Then I am in the right.

CAPTAIN. Have you the power already then?

LAURA. Yes, and a legal power with which I shall put you under the
control of a guardian.

CAPTAIN. Under a guardian?

LAURA. And then I shall educate my child without listening to your
fantastic notions.

CAPTAIN. And who will pay for the education when I am no longer
here?

LAURA. Your pension will pay for it.

CAPTAIN [Threateningly]. How can you have me put under a guardian?

LAURA [Takes out a letter]. With this letter of which an attested
copy is in the hands of the board of lunacy.

CAPTAIN. What letter?

LAURA [Moving backward toward the door left]. Yours! Your
declaration to the doctor that you are insane. [The Captain stares
at her in silence.] Now you have fulfilled your function as an
unfortunately necessary father and breadwinner, you are not needed
any longer and you must go. You must go, since you have realized
that my intellect is as strong as my will, and since you will not
stay and acknowledge it.

[The Captain goes to the table, seizes the lighted lamp and hurls
it at Laura, who disappears backward through the door.]

CURTAIN DROP.

ACT III.

[Same Scene. Another lamp on the table. The private door is
barricaded with a chair.]

LAURA [to Nurse]. Did he give you the keys?

NURSE. Give them to me, no! God help me, but I took them from the
master's clothes that Noejd had out to brush.

LAURA. Oh, Noejd is on duty today?

NURSE. Yes, Noejd.

LAURA. Give me the keys.

NURSE. Yes, but this seems like downright stealing. Do you hear him
walking up there, Ma'am? Back and forth, back and forth.

LAURA. Is the door well barred?

NURSE. Oh, yes, it's barred well enough!

LAURA. Control your feelings, Margret. We must be calm if we are to
be saved. [Knock.] Who is it?

NURSE [Opens door to hall]. It is Noejd.

LAURA. Let him come in.

NOEJD [Comes in]. A message from the Colonel.

LAURA. Give it to me [Reads] Ah!--Noejd, have you taken all the
cartridges out of the guns and pouches?

NOEJD. Yes, Ma'am.

LAURA. Good, wait outside while I answer the Colonel's letter.
[Noejd goes. Laura writes.]

NURSE. Listen. What in the world is he doing up there now?

LAURA. Be quiet while I write.

[The sound of sawing is heard.]

NURSE [Half to herself]. Oh, God have mercy on us all! Where will
this end!

LAURA. Here, give this to Noejd. And my mother must not know
anything about all this. Do you hear?

[Nurse goes out, Laura opens drawers in desk and takes out papers.
The Pastor comes in, he takes a chair and sits near Laura by the
desk.]

PASTOR. Good evening, sister. I have been away all day, as you
know, and only just got back. Terrible things have been happening
here.

LAURA. Yes, brother, never have I gone through such a night and
such a day.

PASTOR. I see that you are none the worse for it all.

LAURA. No, God be praised, but think what might have happened!

PASTOR. Tell me one thing, how did it begin? I have heard so many
different versions.

LAURA. It began with his wild idea of not being Bertha's father,
and ended with his throwing the lighted lamp in my face.

PASTOR. But this is dreadful! It is fully developed insanity. And
what is to be done now?

LAURA. We must try to prevent further violence and the doctor has
sent to the hospital for a straightjacket. In the meantime I have
sent a message to the Colonel, and I am now trying to straighten
out the affairs of the household, which he has carried on in a most
reprehensible manner.

PASTOR. This is a deplorable story, but I have always expected
something of the sort. Fire and powder must end in an explosion.
What have you got in the drawer there?

LAURA [Has pulled out a drawer in the desk]. Look, he has hidden
everything here.

PASTOR [Looking into drawer]. Good Heavens, here is your doll and
here is your christening cap and Bertha's rattle; and your letters;
and the locket. [Wipes his eyes.] After all he must have loved you
very dearly, Laura. I never kept such things!

LAURA. I believe he used to love me, but time--time changes so many
things.

PASTOR. What is that big paper? The receipt for a grave! Yes,
better the grave than the lunatic asylum! Laura, tell me, are you
blameless in all this?

LAURA. I? Why should I be to blame because a man goes out of his
mind?

PASTOR. Well, well, I shan't say anything. After all, blood is
thicker than water.

LAURA. What do you dare to intimate?

PASTOR [Looking at her penetratingly]. Now, listen!

LAURA. Yes?

PASTOR. You can hardly deny that it suits you pretty well to be
able to educate your child as you wish?

LAURA. I don't understand.

PASTOR. How I admire you!

LAURA. Me? H'm!

PASTOR. And I am to become the guardian of that free-thinker! Do
you know I have always looked on him as a weed in our garden.

[Laura gives a short laugh, and then becomes suddenly serious.]

LAURA. And you dare say that to me--his wife?

PASTOR. You are strong, Laura, incredibly strong. You are like a
fox in a trap, you would rather gnaw off your own leg than let
yourself be caught! Like a master thief--no accomplice, not even
your own conscience. Look at yourself in the glass! You dare not!

LAURA. I never use a looking glass!

PASTOR. No, you dare not! Let me look at your hand. Not a tell-tale
blood stain, not a trace of insidious poison! A little innocent
murder that the law cannot reach, an unconscious crime--
unconscious! What a splendid idea! Do you hear how he is working up
there? Take care! If that man gets loose he will make short work of
you.

LAURA. You talk so much, you must have a bad conscience. Accuse me
if you can!

PASTOR. I cannot.

LAURA. You see! You cannot, and therefore I am innocent. You take
care of your ward, and I will take care of mine! Here's the doctor.

[Doctor comes in.]

LAURA [Rising]. Good evening, Doctor. You at least will help me,
won't you? But unfortunately there is not much that can be done. Do
you hear how he is carrying on up there? Are you convinced now?

DOCTOR. I am convinced that an act of violence has been committed,
but the question now is whether that act of violence can be
considered an outbreak of passion or madness.

PASTOR. But apart from the actual outbreak, you must acknowledge
that he has "fixed ideas."

DOCTOR. I think that your ideas, Pastor, are much more fixed.

PASTOR. My settled views about the highest things are--

DOCTOR. We'll leave settled views out of this. Madam, it rests with
you to decide whether your husband is guilty to the extent of
imprisonment and fine or should be put in an asylum! How do you
class his behavior?

LAURA. I cannot answer that now.

DOCTOR. That is to say you have no decided opinion as to what will
be most advantageous to the interests of the family? What do you
say, Pastor?

PASTOR. Well, there will be a scandal in either case. It is not
easy to say.

LAURA. But if he is only sentenced to a fine for violence, he will
be able to repeat the violence.

DOCTOR. And if he is sent to prison he will soon be out again.
Therefore we consider it most advantageous for all parties that he
should be immediately treated as insane. Where is the nurse?

LAURA. Why?

DOCTOR. She must put the straightjacket on the patient when I have
talked to him and given the order! But not before. I have--the--
garment out here. [Goes out into the hall rind returns with a large
bundle.] Please ask the nurse to come in here.

[Laura rings.]

PASTOR. Dreadful! Dreadful!

[Nurse comes in.]

DOCTOR [Takes out the straightjacket]. I want you to pay attention
to this. We want you to slip this jacket on the Captain, from
behind, you understand, when I find it necessary to prevent another
outbreak of violence. You notice it has very long sleeves to
prevent his moving and they are to be tied at the back. Here are
two straps that go through buckles which are afterwards fastened to
the arm of a chair or the sofa or whatever is convenient. Will you
do it?

NURSE. No, Doctor, I can't do that; I can't.

LAURA. Why don't you do it yourself, Doctor?

DOCTOR. Because the patient distrusts me. You, Madam, would seem to
be the one to do it, but I fear he distrusts even you.

[Laura's face changes for an instant.]

DOCTOR. Perhaps you, Pastor--

PASTOR. No, I must ask to be excused.

[Noejd comes in.]

LAURA. Have you delivered the message already?

NOEJD. Yes, Madam.

DOCTOR. Oh, is it you, Noejd? You know the circumstances here; you
know that the Captain is out of his mind and you must help us to
take care of him.

NOEJD. If there is anything I can do for the Captain, you may be
sure I will do it.

DOCTOR. You must put this jacket on him--

NURSE. No, he shan't touch him. Noejd might hurt him. I would rather
do it myself, very, very gently. But Noejd can wait outside and help
me if necessary. He can do that.

[There is loud knocking on the private door.]

DOCTOR. There he is! Put the jacket under your shawl on the chair,
and you must all go out for the time being and the Pastor and I
will receive him, for that door will not hold out many minutes. Now
go.

NURSE [Going out left.] The Lord help us!

[Laura locks desk, then goes out left. Noejd goes out back. After a
moment the private door is forced open, with such violence that the
lock is broken and the chair is thrown into the middle of the room.
The Captain comes in with a pile of books under his arm, which he
puts on the table.]

CAPTAIN. The whole thing is to be read here, in every book. So I
wasn't out of my mind after all! Here it is in the Odyssey, book
first, verse 215, page 6 of the Upsala translation. It is
Telemachus speaking to Athene. "My mother indeed maintains that he,
Odysseus, is my father, but I myself know it not, for no man yet
hath known his own origin." And this suspicion is harbored by
Telemachus about Penelope, the most virtuous of women! Beautiful,
eh? And here we have the prophet Ezekiel: "The fool saith; behold
here is my father, but who can tell whose loins engendered him."
That's quite clear! And what have we here? The History of Russian
Literature by Merslaekow. Alexander Puschkin, Russia's greatest
poet, died of torture front the reports circulated about his wife's
unfaithfulness rather than by the bullet in his breast, from a
duel. On his death-bed he swore she was innocent. Ass, ass! How
could he swear to it? You see, I read my books. Ah, Jonas, art you
here? and the doctor, naturally. Have you heard what I answered
when an English lady complained about Irishmen who used to throw
lighted lamps in their wives' faces? "God, what women," I cried.
"Women," she gasped. "Yes, of course," I answered. "When things go
so far that a man, a man who loved and worshipped a woman, takes a
lighted lamp and throws it in her face, then one may know."

PASTOR. Know what?

CAPTAIN. Nothing. One never knows anything. One only believes.
Isn't that true, Jonas? One believes and then one is saved! Yes, to
be sure. No, I know that one can be damned by his faith. I know
that.

DOCTOR. Captain!

CAPTAIN. Silence! I don't want to talk to you; I won't listen to
you repeating their chatter in there, like a telephone! In there!
You know! Look here, Jonas; do you believe that you are the father
of your children? I remember that you had a tutor in your house who
had a handsome face, and the people gossiped about him.

PASTOR. Adolf, take care!

CAPTAIN. Grope under your toupee and feel if there are not two
bumps there. By my soul, I believe he turns pale! Yes, yes, they
will talk; but, good Lord, they talk so much. Still we are a lot of
ridiculous dupes, we married men. Isn't that true, Doctor? How was
it with your marriage bed? Didn't you have a lieutenant in the
house, eh? Wait a moment and I will make a guess--his name was--
[whispers in the Doctor's ear]. You see he turns pale, too! Don't
be disturbed. She is dead and buried and what is done can't be
undone. I knew him well, by the way, and he is now--look at me,
Doctor--No, straight in my eyes--a major in the cavalry! By God, if
I don't believe he has horns, too.

DOCTOR [Tortured]. Captain, won't you talk about something else?

CAPTAIN. Do you see? He immediately wants to talk of something else
when I mention horns.

PASTOR. Do you know, Adolf, that you are insane?

CAPTAIN. Yes; I know that well enough. But if I only had the
handling of your illustrious brains for awhile I'd soon have you
shut up, too! I am mad, but how did I become so? That doesn't
concern you, and it doesn't concern anyone. But you want to talk of
something else now. [Takes the photograph album from the table.]
Good Lord, that is my child! Mine? We can never know. Do you know
what we would have to do to make sure? First, one should marry to
get the respect of society, then be divorced soon after and become
lovers, and finally adopt the children. Then one would at least be
sure that they were one's adopted children. Isn't that right? But
how can all that help us now? What can keep me now that you have
taken my conception of immortality from me, what use is science and
philosophy to me when I have nothing to live for, what can I do
with life when I am dishonored? I grafted my right arm, half my
brain, half my marrow on another trunk, for I believed they would
knit themselves together and grow into a more perfect tree, and
then someone came with a knife and cut below the graft, and now I
am only half a tree. But the other half goes on growing with my arm
and half my brain, while I wither and die, for they were the best
parts I gave away. Now I want to die. Do with me as you will. I am
no more.

[Buries his head on his arms on table. The Doctor whispers to the
Pastor, and they go out through the door left. Soon after Bertha
comes in.]

BERTRA [Goes up to Captain]. Are you ill, Father?

CAPTAIN [Looks up dazed]. I?

BERTHA. Do you know what you have done? Do you know that you threw
the lamp at Mother?

CAPTAIN. Did I?

BERTHA. Yes, you did. Just think if she had been hurt.

CAPTAIN. What would that have mattered?

BERTHA. You are not my father when you talk like that.

CAPTAIN. What do you say? Am I not your father? How do you know
that? Who told you that? And who is your father, then? Who?

BERTHA. Not you at any rate.

CAPTAIN. Still not I? Who, then? Who? You seem to be well informed.
Who told you? That I should live to see my child come and tell me
to my face that I am not her father! But don't you know that you
disgrace your mother when you say that? Don't you know that it is
to her shame if it is so?

BERTHA. Don't say anything bad about Mother; do you hear?

CAPTAIN. No; you hold together, every one of you, against me! and
you have always done so.

BERTHA. Father!

CAPTAIN. Don't use that word again!

BERTHA. Father, father!

CAPTAIN [Draws her to him]. Bertha, dear, dear child, you are my
child! Yes, Yes; it cannot be otherwise. It is so. The other was
only sickly thoughts that come with the wind like pestilence and
fever. Look at me that I may see my soul in your eyes!--But I see
her soul, too! You have two souls and you love me with one and hate
me with the other. But you must only love me! You must have only
one soul, or you will never have peace, nor I either. You must have
only one mind, which is the child of my mind and one will, which is
my will.

BERTHA. But I don't want to, I want to be myself.

CAPTAIN. You must not. You see, I am a cannibal, and I want to eat
you. Your mother wanted to eat me, but she was not allowed to. I am
Saturn who ate his children because it had been prophesied that
they would eat him. To eat or be eaten! That is the question. If I
do not eat you, you will eat me, and you have already shown your
teeth! But don't be frightened my dear child; I won't harm you.
[Goes and takes a revolver from the wall.]

BERTHA [Trying to escape]. Help, Mother, help, he wants to kill me.

NURSE [Comes in]. Mr. Adolf, what is it?

CAPTAIN [Examining revolver]. Have you taken out the cartridges?

NURSE. Yes, I put them away when I was tidying up, but sit down and
be quiet and I'll get them out again!

[She takes the Captain by the arm and gets him into a chair, into
which he sinks feebly. Then she takes out the straitjacket and goes
behind the chair. Bertha slips out left.]

NURSE. Mr. Adolf, do you remember when you were my dear little boy
and I tucked you in at night and used to repeat: "God who holds his
children dear" to you, and do you remember how I used to get up in
the night and give you a drink, how I would light the candle and
tell you stories when you had bad dreams and couldn't sleep? Do you
remember all that?

CAPTAIN. Go on talking, Margret, it soothes my head so. Tell me
some more.

NURSE. O yes, but you must listen then! Do you remember when you
took the big kitchen knife and wanted to cut out boats with it, and
how I came in and had to get the knife away by fooling you? You
were just a little child who didn't understand, so I had to fool
you, for you didn't know that it was for your own good. "Give me
that snake," I said, "or it will bite you!" and then you let go of
the knife. [Takes the revolver out of the Captain's hand.] And then
when you had to be dressed and didn't want to, I had to coax you
and say that you should have a coat of gold and be dressed like a
prince. And then I took your little blouse that was just made of
green wool and held it in front of you and said: "In with both
arms," and then I said, "Now sit nice and still while I button it
down the back," [She puts the straightjacket on] and then I said,
"Get up now, and walk across the floor like a good boy so I can see
how it fits." [She leads him to the sofa.] And then I said, "Now
you must go to bed."

CAPTAIN. What did you say? Was I to go to bed when I was dressed--
damnation! what have you done to me? [Tries to get free.] Ah! you
cunning devil of a woman! Who would have thought you had so much
wit. [Lies down on sofa.] Trapped, shorn, outwitted, and not to be
able to die!

NURSE. Forgive me, Mr. Adolf, forgive me, but I wanted to keep you
from killing your child.

CAPTAIN. Why didn't you let me? You say life is hell and death the
kingdom of heaven, and children belong to heaven.

NURSE. How do you know what comes after death?

CAPTAIN. That is the only thing we do know, but of life we know
nothing! Oh, if one had only known from the beginning.

NURSE. Mr. Adolf, humble your hard heart and cry to God for mercy;
it is not yet too late. It was not too late for the thief on the
cross, when the Saviour said, "Today shalt thou be with me in
Paradise."

CAPTAIN. Are you croaking for a corpse already, you old crow?

[Nurse takes a hymnbook out of her pocket.]

CAPTAIN [Calls]. Noejd, is Noejd out there?

[Noejd comes in.]

CAPTAIN. Throw this woman out! She wants to suffocate me with her
hymn-book. Throw her out of the window, or up the chimney, or
anywhere.

NOEJD. [Looks at Nurse]. Heaven help you, Captain, but I can't do
that, I can't. If it were only six men, but a woman!

CAPTAIN. Can't you manage one woman, eh?

NOEJD. Of course I can,--but--well, you see, it's queer, but one
never wants to lay hands on a woman.

CAPTAIN. Why not? Haven't they laid hands on me?

NOEJD. Yes, but I can't, Captain. It's just as if you asked me to
strike the Pastor. It's second nature, like religion, I can't!

[Laura comes in, she motions Noejd to go.]

CAPTAIN. Omphale, Omphale! Now you play with the club while
Hercules spins your wool.

LAURA [Goes to sofa]. Adolf, look at me. Do you believe that I am
your enemy?

CAPTAIN. Yes, I do. I believe that you are all my enemies! My
mother was my enemy when she did not want to bring me into the
world because I was to be born with pain, and she robbed my
embryonic life of its nourishment, and made a weakling of me. My
sister was my enemy when she taught me that I must be submissive to
her. The first woman I embraced was my enemy, for she gave me ten
years of illness in return for the love I gave her. My daughter
became my enemy when she had to choose between me and you. And you,
my wife, you have been my arch enemy, because you never let up on
me till I lay here lifeless.

LAURA. I don't know that. I ever thought or even intended what you
think I did. It may be that a dim desire to get rid of you as an
obstacle lay at the bottom of it, and if you see any design in my
behavior, it is possible that it existed, although I was
unconscious of it. I have never thought how it all came about,
but it is the result of the course you yourself laid out, and
before God and my conscience I feel that I am innocent, even if I
am not. Your existence has lain like a stone on my heart--lain so
heavily that I tried to shake off the oppressive burden. This is
the truth, and if I have unconsciously struck you down, I ask your
forgiveness.

CAPTAIN. All that sounds plausible. But how does it help me? And
whose fault is it? Perhaps spiritual marriages! Formerly one
married a wife, now, one enters into partnership with a business
woman, or goes to live with a friend--and then one ruins the
partner, and dishonors the friend!--What has become of love,
healthy sensuous love? It died in the transformation. And what is
the result of this love in shares, payable to the bearer without
joint liability? Who is the bearer when the crash comes? Who is the
fleshly father of the spiritual child?

LAURA. And as for your suspicions about the child, they are
absolutely groundless.

CAPTAIN. That's just what makes it so horrible. If at least there
were any grounds for them, it would be something to get hold of, to
cling to. Now there are only shadows that hide themselves in the
bushes, and stick out their heads and grin; it is like fighting
with the air, or firing blank cartridges in a sham fight. A fatal
reality would have called forth resistance, stirred life and soul
to action; but now my thoughts dissolve into air, and my brain
grinds a void until it is on fire.--Put a pillow under my head,
and throw something over me, I am cold. I am terribly cold!

[Laura takes her shawl and spreads it over him. Nurse goes to get a
pillow.]

LAURA. Give me your hand, friend.

CAPTAIN. My band! The hand that you have bound! Omphale! Omphale!--
But I feel your shawl against my mouth; it is as warm and soft as
your arm, and it smells of vanilla, like your hair when you were
young! Laura, when you were young, and we walked in the birch
woods, with the primroses and the thrushes--glorious, glorious!
Think how beautiful life was, and what it is now. You didn't want
to have it like this, nor did I, and yet it happened. Who then
rules over life?

LAURA. God alone rules--

CAPTAIN. The God of strife then! Or the Goddess perhaps, nowadays.--
Take away the cat that is lying on me! Take it away!

[Nurse brings in a pillow and takes the shawl away.]

CAPTAIN. Give me my army coat!--Throw it over me! [Nurse gets the
coat and puts it over him.] Ah, my rough lion skin that, you wanted
to take away from me! Omphale! Omphale! You cunning woman, champion
of peace and contriver of man's disarmament. Wake, Hercules, before
they take your club away from you! You would wile our armor from us
too, and make believe that it is nothing but glittering finery. No,
it was iron, let me tell you, before it ever glittered. In olden
days the smith made the armor, now it is the needle woman. Omphale!
Omphale! Rude strength has fallen before treacherous weakness. Out
on you infernal woman, and damnation on your sex! [He raises
himself to spit but falls back on the sofa.] What have you given me
for a pillow, Margret? It is so hard, and so cold, so cold. Come
and sit near me. There. May I put my head on your knee? So!--This
is warm! Bend over me so that I can feel your breast! Oh, it is
sweet to sleep against a woman's breast, a mother's, or a
mistress's, but the mother's is sweetest.

LAURA. Would you like to see your child, Adolf?

CAPTAIN. My child? A man has no children, it is only woman who has
children, and therefore the future is hers when we die childless.
Oh, God, who holds his children dear!

NURSE. Listen, he is praying to God.

CAPTAIN. No, to you to put me to sleep, for I am tired, so tired.
Good night, Margret, and blessed be you among women.

[He raises himself, but falls with a cry on the nurses's lap. Laura
goes to left and calls the Doctor who comes in with the Pastor.]

LAURA. Help us, Doctor, if it isn't too late. Look, he has stopped
breathing.

DOCTOR [Feels the Captain's pulse.] It is a stroke.

PASTOR. Is he dead?

DOCTOR. No, he may yet cone back to life, but to what an awakening
we cannot tell.

PASTOR. "First death, and then the judgment."

DOCTOR. No judgment, and no accusations, you who believe that a God
shapes man's destiny must go to him about this.

NURSE. Ah, Pastor, with his last breath he prayed to God.

PASTOR [To Laura]. Is that true?

LAURA. It is.

DOCTOR. In that case, which I can understand as little as the cause
of his illness, my skill is at an end. You try yours now, Pastor.

LAURA. Is that all you have to say at this death-bed, Doctor?

DOCTOR. That is all! I know no more. Let him speak who knows more.

[Bertha comes in from left and runs to her mother.]

BERTHA. Mother, Mother!

LAURA. My child, my own child!

PASTOR. Amen.

CURTAIN.

COUNTESS JULIE

CHARACTERS

COUNTESS JULIE, twenty-five years old
JEAN, a valet, thirty
KRISTIN, a cook, thirty-five
FARM SERVANTS

The action takes place on Saint John's night, the mid-summer
festival surviving from pagan times.

COUNTESS JULIE

[SCENE.--A large kitchen. The ceiling and walls are partially
covered by draperies and greens. The back wall slants upward from
left side of scene. On back wall, left, are two shelves filled with
copper kettles, iron casseroles and tin pans. The shelves are
trimmed with fancy scalloped paper. To right of middle a large
arched entrance with glass doors through which one sees a fountain
with a statue of Cupid, syringa bushes in bloom and tall poplars.
To left corner of scene a large stove with hood decorated with
birch branches. To right, servants' dining table of white pine and
a few chairs. On the cud of table stands a Japanese jar filled with
syringa blossoms. The floor is strewn with juniper branches.]

[Near stove, an ice-box, sink and dish-table. A large old-fashioned
bell, hangs over the door, to left of door a speaking tube.]

[Kristin stands at stork engaged in cooking something. She wears a
light cotton dress and kitchen apron. Jean comes in wearing livery;
he carries a large pair of riding-boots with spurs, which he puts
on floor.]

JEAN. Tonight Miss Julie is crazy again, perfectly crazy.

KRISTIN. So--you're back at last.

JEAN. I went to the station with the Count and coming back I went
in to the barn and danced and then I discovered Miss Julie there
leading the dance with the gamekeeper. When she spied me, she
rushed right toward me and asked me to waltz, and then she waltzed
so--never in my life have I seen anything like it! Ah--she is crazy
tonight.

KRISTIN. She has always been. But never so much as in the last
fortnight, since her engagement was broken off.

JEAN. Yes, what about that gossip? He seemed like a fine fellow
although he wasn't rich! Ach! they have so much nonsense about
them. [Seats himself at table.] It's queer about Miss Julie though--
to prefer staying here at home among these people, eh, to going
away with her father to visit her relatives, eh?

KRISTIN. She's probably shamefaced about breaking off with her
intended.

JEAN. No doubt! but he was a likely sort just the same. Do you
know, Kristin, how it happened? I saw it, although I didn't let on.

KRISTIN. No--did you see it?

JEAN. Yes, indeed, I did. They were out in the stable yard one
evening and she was "training" him as she called it. Do you know
what happened? She made him leap over her riding whip, the way you
teach a dog to jump. He jumped it twice and got a lash each time;
but the third time he snatched the whip from her hand and broke it
into pieces. And then he vanished!

KRISTIN. Was that the way it happened? No, you don't say so!

JEAN. Yes, that's the way the thing happened. But what have you got
to give me that's good, Kristin?

KRISTIN. [She takes things from the pans on stove and serves them
to him.] Oh, it's only a bit of kidney that I cut out of the veal
steak for you.

JEAN [Smelling the food]. Splendid! My favorite delicacy. [Feeling
of plate]. But you might have warmed the plate.

KRISTIN. You're fussier than the Count, when you get started.
[Tweaks his hair.]

JEAN. Don't pull my hair! You know how sensitive I am.

KRISTIN. Oh--there, there! you know I was only loving you.

[Jean eats, and Kristin opens bottle of beer.]

JEAN. Beer on midsummer night--thank you, no! I have something
better than that myself. [Takes bottle of wine from drawer of
table.] Yellow seal, how's that? Now give me a glass--a wine glass
you understand, of course, when one drinks the genuine.

KRISTIN. [Fetches a glass. Then goes to stove and puts on
casserole.] Heaven help the woman who gets you for her husband.
Such a fuss budget!

JEAN. Oh, talk! You ought to be glad to get such a fine fellow as I
am. And I don't think it's done you any harm because I'm considered
your intended. [Tastes wine.] Excellent, very excellent! Just a
little too cold. [Warms glass with hands]. We bought this at Dijon.
It stood at four francs a litre in the bulk; then of course there
was the duty besides. What are you cooking now that smells so
infernally?

KRISTIN. Oh, it's some devil's mess that Miss Julie must have for
Diana.

JEAN. Take care of your words, Kristin. But why should you stand
there cooking for that damned dog on a holiday evening? Is it sick,
eh?

KRISTIN. Yes, it's sick. Diana sneaked out with the gatekeeper's
mongrels and now something is wrong. Miss Julie can't stand that.

JEAN. Miss Julie has a great deal of pride about some things--but
not enough about others! Just like her mother in her lifetime; she
thrived best in the kitchen or the stable, but she must always
drive tandem--never one horse! She would go about with soiled cuffs
but she had to have the Count's crest on her cuff buttons. And as
for Miss Julie, she doesn't take much care of her appearance
either. I should say she isn't refined. Why just now out there she
pulled the forester from Anna's side and asked him to dance with
her. We wouldn't do things that way. But when the highborn wish to
unbend they become vulgar. Splendid she is though! Magnificent!
Ah, such shoulders and--

KRISTIN. Oh, don't exaggerate. I've heard what Clara says who
dresses her sometimes, I have.

JEAN. Ha! Clara--you women are always jealous of each other. I
who've been out riding with her--!!! And such a dancer!

KRISTIN. Come now, Jean, don't you want to dance with me when I'm
through?

JEAN. Of course I want to.

KRISTIN. That is a promise?

JEAN. Promise! When I say I will do a thing I do it! Thanks for the
supper--it was excellent.

[Pushes cork in the bottle with a bang. Miss Julie appears in
doorway, speaking to someone outside.]

JULIE. I'll be back soon, but don't let things wait for me.

[Jean quickly puts bottle in table drawer and rises very
respectfully.]

[Enter Miss Julie and goes to Kristin.]

JULIE. Is it done?

[Kristin indicating Jean's presence.]

JEAN [Gallantly]. Have you secrets between you?

JULIE. [Flipping handkerchief in his face]. Curious, are you?

JEAN. How sweet that violet perfume is!

JULIE [Coquettishly]. Impudence! Do you appreciate perfumes too?
Dance--that you can do splendidly. [Jean looks towards the cooking
store]. Don't look. Away with you.

JEAN [Inquisitive but polite]. Is it some troll's dish that you are
both concocting for midsummer night? Something to pierce the future
with and evoke the face of your intended?

JULIE [Sharply]. To see him one must have sharp eyes. [To Kristin].
Put it into a bottle and cork it tight. Come now, Jean and dance a
schottische with me.

[Jean hesitates.]

JEAN. I don't wish to be impolite to anyone but--this dance I
promised to Kristin.

JULIE. Oh, she can have another--isn't that so, Kristin? Won't you
lend Jean to me.

KRISTIN. It's not for me to say, if Miss Julie is so gracious it's
not for me to say no. [To Jean]. Go you and be grateful for the
honor.

JEAN. Well said--but not wishing any offense I wonder if it is
prudent for Miss Julie to dance twice in succession with her
servant, especially as people are never slow to find meaning in--

JULIE [Breaking out]. In what? What sort of meaning? What were you
going to say?

JEAN [Taken aback]. Since Miss Julie does not understand I must
speak plainly. It may look strange to prefer one of your--
underlings--to others who covet the same honor--

JULIE. To prefer--what a thought! I, the lady of the house! I honor
the people with my presence and now that I feel like dancing I want
to have a partner who knows how to lead to avoid being ridiculous.

JEAN. As Miss Julie commands. I'm here to serve.

JULIE [Mildly]. You mustn't look upon that as a command. Tonight we
are all in holiday spirits--full of gladness and rank is flung
aside. So, give me your arm! Don't be alarmed, Kristin, I shall not
take your sweetheart away from you.

[Jean offers arm. They exit.]

[PANTOMIME.--Played as though the actress were really alone. Turns
her back to the audience when necessary. Does not look out into the
auditorium. Does not hurry as though fearing the audience might
grow restless. Soft violin music from the distance, schottische
time. Kristin hums with the music. She cleans the table; washes
plate, wipes it and puts it in the china closet. Takes off her
apron and then opens drawer of table and takes a small hand glass
and strands it against a flower pot on table. Lights a candle and
heats a hair pin with which she crimps her hair around her
forehead. After that she goes to door at back and listens. Then she
returns to table and sees the Countess' handkerchief, picks it up,
smells of it, then smooths it out and folds it. Enter Jean.]

JEAN. She is crazy I tell you! To dance like that! And the people
stand grinning at her behind the doors. What do you say to that,
Kristin?

KRISTIN. Oh, didn't I say she's been acting queer lately? But isn't
it my turn to dance now?

JEAN. You are not angry because I let myself be led by the
forelock?

KRISTIN. No, not for such a little thing. That you know well
enough. And I know my place too--

JEAN [Puts arm around her waist]. You're a pretty smart girl,
Kristin, and you ought to make a good wife.

[Enter Miss Julie.]

JULIE [Disagreeably surprised, but with forced gaiety]. You're a
charming cavalier to run away from your partner.

JEAN. On the contrary, Miss Julie, I have hastened to my neglected
one as you see.

JULIE [Changing subject]. Do you know, you dance wonderfully well!
But why are you in livery on a holiday night? Take it off
immediately.

JEAN. Will you excuse me--my coat hangs there. [Goes R. and takes
coat.]

JULIE. Does it embarrass you to change your coat in my presence?
Go to your room then--or else stay and I'll turn my back.

JEAN. With your permission, Miss Julie.

[Exit Jean R. One sees his arm as he changes coat.]

JULIE [To Kristin]. Is Jean your sweetheart, that he is so devoted?

KRISTIN. Sweetheart? Yes, may it please you. Sweetheart--that's
what they call it.

JULIE. Call it?

KRISTIN. Oh Miss Julie has herself had a sweetheart and--

JULIE. Yes, we were engaged--

KRISTIN. But it came to nothing.

[Enter Jean in black frock coat.]

JULIE. Tres gentil, Monsieur Jean, tres gentil.

JEAN. Vous voulez plaisanter, Mademoiselle.

JULIE. Et vous voulez parler francais? Where did you learn that?

JEAN. In Switzerland where I was butler in the largest hotel at
Lucerne.

JULIE. Why, you look like a gentleman in your frock coat. Charmant!
[Seats herself by table.]

JEAN. You flatter me!

JULIE. Flatter! [Picking him up on the word.]

JEAN. My natural modesty forbids me to believe that you could mean
these pleasant things that you say to a--such its I am--and
therefore I allowed myself to fancy that you overrate or, as it is
called, flatter.

JULIE. Where did you learn to use words like that? Have you
frequented the theatres much?

JEAN. I have frequented many places, I have!

JULIE. But you were born here in this neighborhood?

JEAN. My father was a deputy under the public prosecutor, and I saw
Miss Julie as a child--although she didn't see me!

JULIE. No, really?

JEAN. Yes, I remember one time in particular. But I mustn't talk
about that.

JULIE. Oh yes, do, when was it?

JEAN. No really--not now, another time perhaps.

JULIE. "Another time" is a good for nothing. Is it so dreadful
then?

JEAN. Not dreadful--but it goes against the grain. [Turns and
points to Kristin, who has fallen asleep in a chair near stove].
Look at her.

JULIE. She'll make a charming wife! Does she snore too?

JEAN. No, but she talks in her sleep.

JULIE [Cynically]. How do you know that she talks in her sleep?

JEAN [Boldly]. I have heard her.[Pause and they look at each
other.]

JULIE. Why don't you sit down?

JEAN. I can't allow myself to do so in your presence.

JULIE. But if I command you?

JEAN. Then I obey.

JULIE. Sit down then. But wait--can't you get me something to drink
first?

JEAN. I don't know what there is in the icebox. Nothing but beer,
probably.

JULIE. Is beer nothing? My taste is so simple that I prefer it to
wine.

[Jean takes out beer and serves it on plate.]

JEAN. Allow me.

JULIE. Won't you drink too?

JEAN. I am no friend to beer--but if Miss Julie commands.

JULIE [Gaily]. Commands! I should think as a polite cavalier you
might join your lady.

JEAN. Looking at it in that way you are quite right. [Opens another
bottle of beer and fills glass.]

JULIE. Give me a toast!

[Jean hesitates.]

JULIE [Mockingly]. Old as he is, I believe the man is bashful!

JEAN [On his knee with mock gallantry, raises glass]. A health to
my lady of the house!

JULIE. Bravo! Now you must kiss my slipper. Then the thing is
perfect.

[Jean hesitates and then seizes her foot and kisses it lightly.]

JULIE. Splendid! You should have been an actor.

JEAN [Rising]. But this mustn't go any further, Miss Julie. What if
someone should come in and see us?

JULIE. What harm would that do?

JEAN. Simply that it would give them a chance to gossip. And if
Miss Julie only knew how their tongues wagged just now--then--

JULIE. What did they say? Tell me. And sit down now.

JEAN [Sitting]. I don't wish to hurt you, but they used an
expression--threw hints of a certain kind--but you are not a child,
you can understand. When one sees a lady drinking alone with a man--
let alone a servant--at night--then--

JULIE. Then what? And for that matter, we are not alone. Kristin is
here.

JEAN. Sleeping! Yes.

JULIE. Then I shall wake her. [Rises]. Kristin, are you asleep?

KRISTIN. [In her sleep]. Bla--bla--bla--bla.

JULIE. Kristin! She certainly can sleep. [Goes to Kristin.]

KRISTIN. [In her sleep]. The Count's boots are polished--put on the
coffee--soon--soon--soon. Oh--h-h-h--puh! [Breathes heavily. Julie
takes her by the nose.]

JULIE. Won't you wake up?

JEAN [Sternly]. Don't disturb the sleeping.

JULIE [Sharply]. What?

JEAN. Anyone who has stood over the hot stove all day long is tired
when night comes. One should respect the weary.

JULIE. That's a kind thought--and I honor it. [Offers her hand.]
Thanks for the suggestion. Come out with me now and pick some
syringas.

[Kristin has awakened and goes to her room, right, in a sort of
sleep stupified way.]

JEAN. With Miss Julie?

JULIE. With me.

JEAN. But that wouldn't do--decidedly not.

JULIE. I don't understand you. Is it possible that you fancy that
I--

JEAN. No--not I, but people.

JULIE. What? That I'm in love with my coachman?

JEAN. I am not presumptuous, but we have seen instances--and with
the people nothing is sacred.

JULIE. I believe he is an aristocrat!

JEAN. Yes, I am.

JULIE. But I step down-- --

JEAN. Don't step down, Miss Julie. Listen to me--no one would
believe that you stepped down of your own accord; people always say
that one falls down.

JULIE. I think better of the people than you do. Come--and try
them--come!

[Dares him with a look.]

JEAN. Do you know that you are wonderful?

JULIE. Perhaps. But you are too. Everything is wonderful for that
matter. Life, people--everything. Everything is wreckage, that
drifts over the water until it sinks, sinks. I have the same dream
every now and then and at this moment I am reminded of it. I find
myself seated at the top of a high pillar and I see no possible way
to get down. I grow dizzy when I look down, but down I must. But
I'm not brave enough to throw myself; I cannot hold fast and I long
to fall--but I don't fall. And yet I can find no rest or peace
until I shall come down to earth; and if I came down to earth I
would wish myself down in the ground. Have you ever felt like that?

JEAN. No, I dream that I'm lying in a dark wood under a tall tree
and I would up--up to the top, where I can look far over the fair
landscape, where the sun is shining. I climb--climb, to plunder the
birds' nests up there where the golden eggs lie, but the tree trunk
is so thick, so smooth, and the first limb is so high! But I know
if I reached the first limb I should climb as though on a ladder,
to the top. I haven't reached it yet, but I shall reach it, if only
in the dream.

JULIE. Here I stand talking about dreams with you. Come now, just
out in the park.

[She offers her arm and they start.]

JEAN. We should sleep on nine midsummer flowers tonight and then
our dreams would come true.

[She turns, Jean quickly holds a hand over his eye.]

JULIE. What is it, something in your eye?

JEAN. Oh, it is nothing--just a speck. It will be all right in
a moment.

JULIE. It was some dust from my sleeve that brushed against you.
Now sit down and let me look for it. [Pulls him into a chair, looks
into his eye.] Now sit still, perfectly still. [Uses corner of her
handkerchief in his eye. Strikes his hand.] So--will you mind? I
believe you are trembling, strong man that you are. [Touching his
arm.] And such arms!

JEAN [Warningly.] Miss Julie!

JULIE. Yes, Monsieur Jean!

JEAN. Attention. Je ne suis qu'un homme!

JULIE. Will you sit Still! So, now it is gone! Kiss my hand and
thank me!

[Jean rises.]

JEAN. Miss Julie, listen to me. Kristin has gone to bed now--will
you listen to me--

JULIE. Kiss my hand first.

JEAN. Listen to me--

JULIE. Kiss my hand first.

JEAN. Yes, but blame yourself.

JULIE. For what?

JEAN. For what? Are you a child at twenty-five? Don't you know that
it is dangerous to play with fire?

JULIE. Not for me. I am insured!

JEAN. No, you are not. But even if you are, there is inflammable
material in the neighborhood.

JULIE. Might that be you?

JEAN. Yes, not because it is I, but because I'm a young man--

JULIE [Scornfully]. With a grand opportunity--what inconceivable
presumption! A Don Juan perhaps! Or a Joseph! On my soul, I believe
he is a Joseph!

JEAN. You do?

JULIE. Almost.

[Jean rushes towards her and tries to take her in his arms to kiss
her.]

JULIE [Gives him a box on the ear]. Shame on you.

JEAN. Are you in earnest, or fooling?

JULIE. In earnest.

JEAN. Then you were in earnest a moment ago, too. You play too
seriously with what is dangerous. Now I'm tired of playing and beg
to be excused that I may go on with my work. The Count must have
his boots in time, and it is long past midnight. [Jean picks up
boots.]

JULIE. Put those boots away.

JEAN. No, that is my work which it is my duty to do, but I was not
hired to be your play thing and that I shall never be. I think too
well of myself for that.

JULIE. You are proud.

JEAN. In some things--not in others.

JULIE. Were you ever in love?

JEAN. We do not use that word, but I have liked many girls. One
time I was sick because I couldn't have the one I wanted--sick,
you understand, like the princesses in the Arabian Nights who could
not eat nor drink for love sickness.

JULIE. Who was she? [Jean is silent.] Who was she?

JEAN. That you could not make me tell.

JULIE. Not if I ask you as an equal, as a--friend? Who was she?

JEAN. It was you!

[Julie seats herself.]

JULIE. How extravagant!

JEAN. Yes, if you will, it was ridiculous. That was the story I
hesitated to tell, but now I'm going to tell it. Do you know how
people in high life look from the under world? No, of course you
don't. They look like hawks and eagles whose backs one seldom sees,
for they soar up above. I lived in a hovel provided by the state,
with seven brothers and sisters and a pig; out on a barren stretch
where nothing grew, not even a tree, but from the window I could
see the Count's park walls with apple trees rising above them. That
was the garden of paradise; and there stood many angry angels with
flaming swords protecting it; but for all that I and other boys
found the way to the tree of life--now you despise me.

JULIE. Oh, all boys steal apples.

JEAN. You say that, but you despise me all the same. No matter! One
time I entered the garden of paradise--it was to weed the onion
beds with my mother! Near the orchard stood a Turkish pavilion,
shaded and overgrown with jessamine and honeysuckle. I didn't know
what it was used for and I had never seen anything so beautiful.
People passed in and out and one day--the door was left open. I
sneaked in and beheld walls covered with pictures of kings and
emperors and there were red-fringed curtains at the windows--now
you understand what I mean--I--[Breaks off a spray of syringes and
puts it to her nostrils.] I had never been in the castle and how my
thoughts leaped--and there they returned ever after. Little by
little the longing came over me to experience for once the pleasure
of--enfin, I sneaked in and was bewildered. But then I heard
someone coming--there was only one exit for the great folk, but for
me there was another, and I had to choose that. [Julie who has
taken the syringa lets it fall on table.] Once out I started to
run, scrambled through a raspberry hedge, rushed over a strawberry
bed and came to a stop on the rose terrace. For there I saw a
figure in a white dress and white slippers and stockings--it was
you! I hid under a heap of weeds, under, you understand, where the
thistles pricked me, and lay on the damp, rank earth. I gazed at
you walking among the roses. And I thought if it is true that the
thief on the cross could enter heaven and dwell among the angels it
was strange that a pauper child on God's earth could not go into
the castle park and play with the Countess' daughter.

JULIE [Pensively]. Do you believe that all poor children would have
such thoughts under those conditions?

JEAN [Hesitates, then in a positive voice]. That all poor children--
yes, of course, of course!

JULIE. It must be a terrible misfortune to be poor.

JEAN [With deep pain and great chagrin]. Oh, Miss Julie, a dog may
lie on the couch of a Countess, a horse may be caressed by a lady's
hand, but a servant--yes, yes, sometimes there is stuff enough in a
man, whatever he be, to swing himself up in the world, but how
often does that happen! But to return to the story, do you know
what I did? I ran down to the mill dam and threw myself in with my
clothes on--and was pulled out and got a thrashing. But the
following Sunday when all the family went to visit my grandmother I
contrived to stay at home; I scrubbed myself well, put on my best
dollies, such its they were, and went to church so that I might see
you. I saw you. Then I went home with my mind made up to put, an
cud to myself. But I wanted to do it beautifully and without pain.
Then I happened to remember that elderberry blossoms are poisonous.
I knew where there was a big elderberry bush in full bloom and I
stripped it of its riches and made a bed of it in the oat-bin. Have
you ever noticed how smooth and glossy oats are? As soft as a
woman's arm.--Well, I got in and let down the cover, fell asleep,
and when I awoke I was very ill, but didn't die--as you see. What I
wanted--I don't know. You were unattainable, but through the vision
of you I was made to realize how hopeless it was to rise above the
conditions of my birth.

JULIE. You tell it well! Were you ever at school?

JEAN. A little, but I have read a good deal and gone to the
theatres. And besides, I have always heard the talk of fine folks
and from them I have learned most.

JULIE. Do you listen then to what we are saying?

JEAN. Yes, indeed, I do. And I have heard much when I've been on
the coachbox. One time I heard Miss Julie and a lady--

JULIE. Oh, what was it you heard?

JEAN. Hm! that's not so easy to tell. But I was astonished and
could not understand where you had heard such things. Well, perhaps
at bottom there's not so much difference between people and--people.

JULIE. Oh, shame! We don't behave as you do when we are engaged.

JEAN. [Eyeing her]. Are you sure of that? It isn't worthwhile to
play the innocent with me.

JULIE. I gave my love to a rascal.

JEAN. That's what they always say afterward.

JULIE. Always?

JEAN. Always, I believe, as I have heard the expression many times
before under the same circumstances.

JULIE. What circumstances?

JEAN. Those we've been talking about. The last time I-- --

JULIE. Silence. I don't wish to hear any more.

JEAN. Well, then I beg to be excused so I may go to bed.

JULIE. Go to bed! On midsummer night?

JEAN. Yes, for dancing out there with that pack has not amused me.

JULIE. Then get the key for the boat and row me out over the lake.
I want to see the sun rise.

JEAN. Is that prudent?

JULIE. One would think that, you were afraid of your reputation.

JEAN. Why not? I don't want to be made ridiculous. I am not willing
to be driven out without references, now that I am going to settle
down. And I feel I owe something to Kristin.

JULIE. Oh, so it's Kristin now--

JEAN. Yes, but you too. Take my advice, go up and go to bed.

JULIE. Shall I obey you?

JEAN. For once--for your own sake. I beg of you. Night is crawling
along, sleepiness makes one irresponsible and the brain grows hot.
Go to your room. In fact--if I hear rightly some of the people are
coming for me. If they find us here--then you are lost.

[Chorus is heard approaching, singing.]

"There came two ladies out of the woods
Tridiridi-ralla tridiridi-ra.
One of them had wet her foot,
Tridiridi-ralla-la.

"They talked of a hundred dollars,
Tridiridi-ralla tridiridi-ra.
But neither had hardly a dollar,
Tridiridi-ralla-la.

"The mitten I'm going to send you,
Tridirichi-ralla tridiridi-ra.
For another I'm going to jilt you,
Tridiridi-ralla tridiridi-ra."

JULIE. I know the people and I love them and they respect me. Let
them come, you shall see.

JEAN. No, Miss Julie, they don't love you. They take your food and
spit upon your kindness, believe me. Listen to them, listen to what
they're singing! No! Don't listen!

JULIE [Listening]. What are they singing?

JEAN. It's something suggestive, about you and me.

JULIE. Infamous! Oh horrible! And how cowardly!

JEAN. The pack is always cowardly. And in such a battle one can
only run away.

JULIE. Run away? Where? We can't get out and we can't go to
Kristin.

JEAN. Into my room then. Necessity knows no law. You can depend on
me for I am your real, genuine, respectful friend.

JULIE. But think if they found you there.

JEAN. I will turn the key and if they try to break in I'll shoot.
Come--come!

JULIE. [Meaningly]. You promise me--?

JEAN. I swear ...

[She exits R. Jean follows her.]

[BALLET.--The farm folk enter in holiday dress with flowers in
their hats, a fiddler in the lead. They carry a keg of home-brewed
beer and a smaller keg of gin, both decorated with greens which are
placed on the table. They help themselves to glasses and drink.
Then they sing and dance a country dance to the melody of "There
came two ladies out of the woods." When that is over they go out,
singing.]

[Enter Julie alone, sees the havoc the visitors have made, clasps
her hands, takes out powder box and powders her face. Enter Jean
exuberant.]

JEAN. There, you see, and you heard them. Do you think it's
possible for us to remain here any longer?

JULIE. No, I don't. But what's to be done?

JEAN. Fly! Travel--far from here!

JULIE. Travel--yes--but where?

JEAN. To Switzerland--to the Italian lakes. You have never been
there?

JULIE. No--is it beautiful there?

JEAN. Oh, an eternal summer! Oranges, trees, laurels--oh!

JULIE. But what shall we do there?

JEAN. I'll open a first-class hotel for first-class patrons.

JULIE. Hotel?

JEAN. That is life--you shall see! New faces constantly, different
languages. Not a moment for boredom. Always something to do night
and day--the bell ringing, the trains whistling, the omnibus coming
and going and all the time the gold pieces rolling into the till--
that is life!

JULIE. Yes, that is life. And I--?

JEAN. The mistress of the establishment--the ornament of the house.
With your looks--and your manners--oh, it's a sure success!
Colossal! You could sit like a queen in the office and set the
slaves in action by touching an electric button. The guests line up
before your throne and shyly lay their riches on your desk. You
can't believe how people tremble when they get their bills--I can
salt the bills and you can sweeten them with your most bewitching
smile--ha, let us get away from here--[Takes a time table from his
pocket] immediately--by the next train. We can be at Malmoe at
6.30, Hamburg at 8.40 tomorrow morning, Frankfort the day after
and at Como by the St. Gothard route in about--let me see, three
days. Three days!

JULIE. All that is well enough, but Jean--you must give me courage.
Take me in your arms and tell me that you love me.

JEAN [Hesitatingly]. I will--but I daren't--not again in this
house. I love you of course--do you doubt that?

JULIE [Shyly and with womanliness]. You! Say thou to me! Between us
there can be no more formality. Say thou.

JEAN. I can't--There must be formality between us--as long as we
are in this house. There is the memory of the past--and there is
the Count, your father. I have never known anyone else for whom I
have such respect. I need only to see his gloves lying in a chair
to feel my own insignificance. I have only to hear his bell to
start like a nervous horse--and now as I see his boots standing
there so stiff and proper I feel like bowing and scraping. [Gives
boots a kick]. Superstitions and prejudices taught in childhood
can't be uprooted in a moment. Let us go to a country that is it
republic where they'll stand on their heads for my coachman's
livery--on their heads shall they stand--but I shall not. I am
not, born to bow and scrape, for there's stuff in me--character. If
I only get hold of the first limb, you shall see me climb. I'm a
coachman today, but next year I shall be a proprietor, in two years
a gentleman of income; then for Roumania where I'll let them
decorate me and can, mark you, _can_ end a count!

JULIE. Beautiful, beautiful!

JEAN. Oh, in Roumania, one can buy a title cheap--and so you can be
a countess just the same--my countess!

JULIE. What do I care for all that--which I now cast behind me. Say
that you love me--else, what am I, without it?

JEAN. I'll say it a thousand times afterwards, but not here. Above
all, let us have no sentimentality now or everything will fall
through. We must look at this matter coldly like sensible people.
[Takes out a cigar and lights it.] Now sit down there and I'll sit
here and we'll take it over as if nothing had happened.

JULIE [Staggered]. Oh, my God, have you no feeling?

JEAN. I? No one living has more feeling than I but I can restrain
myself.

JULIE. A moment ago you could kiss my slipper and now--

JEAN [Harshly]. That was--then. Now we have other things to think
about.

JULIE. Don't speak harshly to me.

JEAN. Not harshly, but wisely. One folly has been committed--commit
no more. The Count may be here at any moment, and before he comes,
our fate must be settled. How do my plans for the future strike
you? Do you approve of them?

JULIE. They seem acceptable enough. But one question. For such a
great undertaking a large capital is necessary, have you that?

JEAN [Chewing his cigar]. I? To be sure. I have my regular
occupation, my unusual experience, my knowledge of different
languages--that is capital that counts, I should say.

JULIE. But with all that you could not buy a railway ticket.

JEAN. That's true, and for that reason I'm looking for a backer who
can furnish the funds.

JULIE. How can that be done at a moment's notice?

JEAN. That is for you to say, if you wish to be my companion.

JULIE. I can't--as I have nothing myself.

[A pause.]

JEAN. Then the whole matter drops-- --

JULIE. And-- --

JEAN. Things remain as they are.

JULIE. Do you think I could remain under this roof after----Do you
think I will allow the people to point at me in scorn, or that I
can ever look my father in the face again? Never! Take me away from
this humiliation and dishonor. Oh, what have I done! Oh, my God,
what have I done! [Weeping.]

JEAN. So, you are beginning in that tune now. What have you done?
The same as many before you.

JULIE. And now you despise me. I am falling! I am falling!

JEAN. Fall down to my level, I'll lift you up afterwards.

JULIE. What strange power drew me to you--the weak to the strong--
the falling to the rising, or is this love! This--love! Do you know
what love is?

JEAN. I? Yes! Do you think it's the first time?

JULIE. What language, what thoughts.

JEAN. I am what life has made me. Don't be nervous and play the
high and mighty, for now we are on the same level. Look here, my
little girl, let me offer you a glass of something extra fine.
[Opens drawer of table and takes out wine bottle, then fills
two glasses that have been already used.]

JULIE. Where did you get that wine?

JEAN. From the cellar.

JULIE. My father's Burgundy.

JEAN. What's the matter, isn't that good enough for the son-in-law?

JULIE. And I drink beer--I!

JEAN. That only goes to prove that your taste is poorer than mine.

JULIE. Thief!

JEAN. Do you intend to tattle?

JULIE. Oh ho! Accomplice to a house thief. Was I intoxicated--have
I been walking in my sleep this night--midsummer night, the night
for innocent play--

JEAN. Innocent, eh!

JULIE [Pacing back and forth]. Is there a being on earth so
miserable as I.

JEAN. Why are you, after such a conquest. Think of Kristin in
there, don't you think she has feelings too?

JULIE. I thought so a little while ago, but I don't any more. A
servant is a servant.

JEAN. And a whore is a whore.

JULIE [Falls on her knees with clasped hands]. Oh, God in heaven,
end my wretched life, save me from this mire into which I'm
sinking--Oh save me, save me.

JEAN. I can't deny that it hurts me to see you like this.

JULIE. And you who wanted to die for me.

JEAN. In the oat-bin? Oh, that was only talk.

JULIE. That is to say--a lie!

JEAN [Beginning to show sleepiness]. Er--er almost. I believe I
read something of the sort in a newspaper about a chimney-sweep
who made a death bed for himself of syringa blossoms in a wood-bin--
[laughs] because they were going to arrest him for non-support of
his children.

JULIE. So you are such a--

JEAN. What better could I have hit on! One must always be romantic
to capture a woman.

JULIE. Wretch! Now you have seen the eagle's back, and I suppose I
am to be the first limb--

JEAN. And the limb is rotten--

JULIE [Without seeming to hear]. And I am to be the hotel's
signboard--

JEAN. And I the hotel--

JULIE. And sit behind the desk and allure guests and overcharge
them--

JEAN. Oh, that'll be my business.

JULIE. That a soul can be so degraded!

JEAN. Look to your own soul.

JULIE. Lackey! Servant! Stand up when I speak.

JEAN. Don't you dare to moralize to me. Lackey, eh! Do you think
you have shown yourself finer than any maid-servant tonight?

JULIE [Crushed]. That is right, strike me, trample on me, I deserve
nothing better. I have done wrong, but help me now. Help me out of
this if there is any possible way.

JEAN [Softens somewhat]. I don't care to shirk my share of the
blame, but do you think any one of my position would ever have
dared to raise his eyes to you if you yourself had not invited it?
Even now I am astonished--

JULIE. And proud.

JEAN. Why not? Although I must confess that the conquest was too
easy to be exciting.

JULIE. Go on, strike me again--

JEAN [Rising]. No, forgive me, rather, for what I said. I do not
strike the unarmed, least of all, a woman. But I can't deny that
from a certain point of view it gives me satisfaction to know that
it is the glitter of brass, not gold, that dazzles us from below,
and that the eagle's back is grey like the rest of him. On the
other hand, I'm sorry to have to realize that all that I have
looked up to is not worth while, and it pains me to see you fallen
lower than your cook as it pains me to see autumn blossoms whipped
to pieces by the cold rain and transformed into--dirt!

JULIE. You speak as though you were already my superior.

JEAN. And so I am! For I can make you a countess and you could
never make me a count.

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