Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Prince Hagen by Upton Sinclair

Part 2 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

. and in the saloon that dreadful night. We ought never to have gone
to that place! I knew as soon as I laid eyes on the man that he'd do
us harm.

IS. We must keep out of his power. We must save what we can from the
wreck and learn to do with it. You'll have to give up your Newport
plans this year.

MRS. IS. [Aghast.] What!

IS. We won't be able to open the house.

MRS. IS. You're mad!

IS. My dear . . .

MRS. IS. Now, John Isman, you listen to me! I was quite sure you had
some such idea in your mind! And I tell you right now, I simply will
not hear of it! I . . .

IS. But what can we do, my dear?

MRS. IS. I don't know what we can do! But you'll have to raise money
somehow. I will not surrender my social position to Mrs. Bagley-Willis
. . . not for all the Wall Street panics in the world. Oh, that man is
a fiend! I tell you, John Isman . . .

IS. Control yourself!

HAGEN. [Off right.] Very well! I shall be charmed, I'm sure. [Enters.]
Oh! How do you do, Mrs. Isman?

MRS. IS. Oh, Prince Hagen, a most beautiful evening you've given us.

HAGEN. Ah ! I'm glad if you've enjoyed it.

MRS. IS. Yes, indeed . . .

IS. Prince Hagen, may I have a few words with you?

HAGEN. Why, surely . . . if you wish . . .

IS. I do.

MRS. IS. Prince Hagen will excuse me. [Exit, left.]

HAGEN. [Goes to table, centre, and sits opposite ISMAN.] Well?

IS. Prince Hagen, what do you want with me?

HAGEN. [Surprised.] Why . . . the pleasure of your company.

IS. I mean in the Street.

HAGEN. Oh! Have you been hit?

IS. Don't mock me. You have used your resources deliberately to ruin
me. You have followed me . . . you have taken every railroad in which
I am interested, and driven it to the wall. And I ask you, man to man,
what do you want?

HAGEN. [After some thought.] Isman, listen to me. You remember four
months ago I offered you a business alliance ?

IS. I had no idea of your resources then. Had I known, I should not
have rejected your offer. Am I being punished for that?

HAGEN. No, Isman . . . it isn't punishment. Had you gone into the
alliance with me it would have been just the same. It was my purpose
to get you into my power.

IS. Oh!

HAGEN. To bring you here . . . to make you sit down before me, and
ask, What do you want? . . . And so I will tell you what I want, man
to man! [A pause.] I want your daughter.

IS. [Starts.] What!

HAGEN. I want your daughter.

IS. Good God!

HAGEN. Do you understand now?

IS. [Whispering.] I understand!

HAGEN. Isman, you are a man of the world, and we can talk together. I
love your daughter, and I wish to make her my wife.

IS. And so you ruined me!

HAGEN. Four months ago I was an interloper and an adventurer. In a
month or two I shall be the master of your financial and political
world. Then I had nothing to offer your daughter. Now I can make her
the first lady of the land.

IS. But, man, we don't sell our children . . . not in America.

HAGEN. Don't talk to me like a fool, Isman. I never have anything to
do with your shams.

IS. But the girl! She must consent!

HAGEN. I'll attend to that. Meantime, I want you to know what I mean.
On the day that your daughter marries me I will put you at the head of
my interests, and make you the second richest man in America. You

IS. [Weakly.] I understand.

HAGEN. Very well. And don't forget to tell your wife about it. [He

IS. Is that all?

HAGEN. No; one thing more. Your daughter is not here to-night.

IS. No.

HAGEN. I wish her to come.

IS. But . . . she is indisposed!

HAGEN. That is a pretext. She did not want to come.

IS. Possibly . . .

HAGEN. Tell her to come.

IS. [Startled.] What? Now? It is too late!

HAGEN. Nonsense. Your home is only a block away. Telephone to her.

IS. [Dismayed.] But . . . she will not be ready.

HAGEN. Tell her to come! Whatever she is wearing, she will outshine
them all. [ISMAN hesitates a moment, as if to speak, then goes off,
right, half dazed; the other watches him, laughing silently to
himself.] That's all right! [Sees Calkins.] Ah, Calkins!

CALKINS. [Enters with an armful of papers.] Here are the morning
papers, Prince.

HAGEN. Ah! [Takes them.] Still moist! Did you think I wanted them that

CAL. Promptness never harms.

HAGEN. [Opening papers.] That's true. Ah, they hardly knew which was
more important . . . the ball or the panic! We filled them up pretty
full. Did you see if they followed the proofs?

CAL. There are no material changes.

HAGEN. Ha! Ha! Cartoons! Prince Hagen invites the Four Hundred with
one hand and knocks them down with the other! Pretty good! Pretty
good! What's this? Three millions to decorate his palaces . . . half a
million for a single ball?

CAL. I suppose they couldn't credit the figures.

HAGEN. Humph! We'll educate them! [Sweeps papers out of the way.] So
much for that! Were all the orders for the London opening gone over?

CAL. All correct, Prince.

HAGEN. Very good! That's all. [CAL. exit.] They're all anxious about
London . . . I can see it! Ah, Gerald!

GER. [Enters, right.] Hello!

HAGEN. [Smiling.] You see, they came to my party!

GER. Yes.

HAGEN. They smile and chatter . . . they bow and cringe to me . . .
and I have not preached any of your Christian virtues, either!

GER. No. I grant it. It's a very painful sight. [After a pause.] That
was a pleasant fancy . . . to have a panic on the eve of your ball!

HAGEN. It wasn't nearly as bad as I meant it to be. Wait and see

GER. What's the end of it all?

HAGEN. The end? Why have an end? I didn't make this game . . . I play
it according to other men's rules. I buy and sell stocks, and make
what money I can. The end may take care of itself.

GER. It's rather hard on the helpless people, isn't it?

HAGEN. Humph ! The people! [After a pause.] Gerald, this world of
yours has always seemed to me like a barrel full of rats. There's only
room for a certain number on top, and the rest must sweat for it till
they die.

GER. It's not a very pleasant image to think of.

HAGEN. I don't think of it. I simply happen to find myself on top, and
I stay there and enjoy the view. [Seats himself at table.] As a matter
of fact, Gerald, one of the things I intend to do with this world is
to clean it up. Don't imagine that I will tolerate such stupid waste
as we have at present . . . everybody trying to cheat everybody else,
and nobody to keep the streets clean. It's as if a dozen mere should
go out into a field to catch a horse, and spend all their time in
trying to keep each other from catching it. When I take charge they'll
catch the horse.

GER. [Drily.] And you'll ride him.

HAGEN. And I'll ride him. [Laughs.]

GER. [After a pause.] At first I couldn't make out why you bothered
with this Society game. Now I begin to understand. You wanted to see

HAGEN. I wanted to watch them wriggle! I wanted to take them, one by
one, and strip off their shams! Take that fellow Rutherford, the steel
man! Or Plimpton, the coal baron, casting his eyes up to heaven, and
singing psalms through his nose! The instant I laid eyes on that
whining old hypocrite, I hated him; and I vowed I'd never rest again
till I'd shown him as he is . . . a coward and a knave! And I tell
you, Gerald, before I get through with him . . . Ah, there he is!

PLIM. [Off.] Hello, Isman!

HAGEN. Come. [Draws back with GERALD.]

IS. [Entering, right, with PLIMPTON and RUTHERFORD.] Any word yet?

PLIM. Nothing yet!

RUTH. Such a night as this has been!

IS. If the thing keeps up today the Exchange will have to close . . .
there will be no help for it.

PLIM. We are in the hands of a madman!

RUTH. We must have a conference with him . . . we must find out what
he wants.

IS. Did you speak to him, Plimpton?

PLIM. I tried to. I might as well have butted my head against a stone
wall. "I have money," he said, "and I wish to buy and sell stocks.
Isn't that my right?"

RUTH. He's a fiend! A fiend!

PLIM. He smiled as he shook my hand . . . and he knows that if coal
stocks go down another ten points I'll be utterly ruined!

IS. Terrible! Terrible!

PLIM. [To RUTHERFORD.] Rutherford, have you learned any more about
where his money comes from?

RUTH. I meant to tell you . . . I've had another report. The mystery
deepens every hour. It's always the same thing . . . the man takes a
train and goes out into the country; he gathers all the wagons for
miles around, and goes to some place in the woods . . . and there is a
pile of gold, fifty tons of it, maybe, covered over with brush. Nobody
knows how it got there, nobody has time to ask. He loads it into the
wagons, takes it aboard the train, and brings it to the Sub-treasury.

IS. The man's an alchemist! He's been manufacturing it and getting

RUTH. Perhaps. Who can tell? All I know is the Sub-treasury has bought
over two billion dollars' worth of gold bullion in the last four
months . . . and what can we do in the face of that?

PLIM. No wonder that prices went up to the skies!

RUTH. I had the White House on the 'phone this afternoon. We can
demonetize gold . . . the government can refuse to buy any more.

IS. But then what would become of credit?

PLIM. [Vehemently.] No, no . . . that will not help! [Gazes about
nervously.] There's only one thing. [Whispers.] That man must be

RUTH. [Horrified.] Ah!

IS. No.

PLIM. Just that! Nothing else will help! And instantly . . . or it
will be too late.

IS. Plimpton!

PLIM. He must not be alive when the Exchange opens this morning!

RUTH. But how?

PLIM. I don't know . . . but we must find a way! We owe it as a public
duty . . . the man is a menace to society. Rutherford, you are with me?

RUTH. By God! I am!

IS. You're mad!

PLIM. You don't agree with me?

IS. It's not to be thought of! You're forgetting yourself, Plimpton .
. . ,

PLIM. [Gazing about.] This is no place to discuss it. But I tell you
that if there is no support from London . . .

RUTH. [Starting.] Come . . . perhaps there may be word! [They start
left.] We may beat them yet . . . who can tell?


HAGEN. [Emerges with GERALD from shadows, shaking with laughter.] Hat
ha! ha! Love and self-sacrifice! You see, Gerald!

GER. Yes . . . I see! [Looks right . . . then starts violently.] My


GER. What does this mean?

HAGEN. [To ESTELLE, who enters, right, evidently agitated.] Miss Isman!

EST. My father said . . .

HAGEN. Yes. Won't you sit down?

EST. [Hesitatingly.] Why . . . I suppose so . . .

HAGEN. [To GERALD.] Will you excuse us, please, Gerald?

GER. [Amazed.] Why, yes . . . but Estelle . . .

EST. [In a faint voice.] Please go, Gerald.

GER. Oh! very well. [Exit, left.]

EST. You wished to see me.

HAGEN. Yes. [Sitting opposite.] How do you like it all?

EST. It is very beautiful.

HAGEN. Do you really think so?

EST. [Wondering.] Don't you?


EST. Truly ?


EST. Then why did you do it?

HAGEN. To please you.

EST. [Shrinks.] Oh!

HAGEN. [Fixes his gaze on her, and slowly leans across table; with
intensity.] Haven't you discovered yet that you are mine?

EST. [Half rising.] Prince Hagen!

HAGEN. How long will it be before you know it?

EST. How dare you?

HAGEN. Listen. I am a man accustomed to command. I have no time to
play with conventions . . . I cannot dally and plead. But I love you.
I cannot live without you! And I will shake the foundations of the
world to get you!

EST. [Staring, fascinated; whispers.] Prince Hagen!

HAGEN. All this . . . [waving his hand] I did in the hope that it
would bring you here . . . so that I might have a chance to tell you.
Simply for that one purpose. I have broken the business world to my
will . . . that also was to make you mine!

EST. [Wildly.] You have ruined my father!

HAGEN. Your father has played this game, and his path is strewn with
the rivals he has ruined. He knows that, and you know it. Now I have
played the game; and I have beaten him. It took me one day to bring
him down . . . [Laughs.] It will take me less time to put him back

EST. But why, why?

HAGEN. Listen, Estelle. I came to this civilization of yours, and
looked at it. It seemed to me that it was built upon knavery and fraud
. . . that it was altogether a vile thing . . . rotten to the core of
it! And I said I would smash it, as a child smashes a toy; I would
toss it about . . . as your brother the poet tosses his metaphors. But
then I saw you, and in a flash all that was changed. You were
beautiful . . . you were interesting. You were something in the world
worth winning . . . something I had not known about before. But you
stood upon the pinnacle of Privilege . . . you gathered the clouds
about your head. How should I climb to you?

EST. [Frightened.] I see!

HAGEN. I came to your home . . . I was turned from the door. So I set
to work to break my way to you.

EST. I see!

HAGEN. And that is how I love you. You are all there is in the game to
me. I bring the world and lay it at your feet. It is all yours. You do
not like what I do with it, perhaps. Very well . . . take it and do
better. The power is yours for the asking! Power without end! [He
reaches out his arms to her; a pause.] You do not like my way of love-
making, perhaps. You find me harsh and rude. But I love you. And
where, among the men that you know, will you find one who can feel for
you what I feel . . . who would dare for you what I have dared? [Gazes
at her with intensity.] Take your time. I have no wish to hurry you.
But you must know that, wherever you go, my hand is upon you. All that
I do, I do for the love of you.

EST. [Weakly.] I . . . you frighten me!

HAGEN. All the world I lay at your feet! You shall see.

PLIM. [Off left.] Prince Hagen!

HAGEN. [Starting.] Ah!

PLIM. [Enters, running, in great agitation, with a telegram.] Prince

HAGEN. Well?

PLIM. I have a report from London. The market has gone all to pieces!


PLIM. Pennsylvania coal is down twenty-five points in the first half
hour. I'm lost . . . everything is lost!

RUTH. [Running on.] Prince Hagen! Steel is down to four! And the Bank
of England suspends payments! What...

PLIM. What do you want with us? What are you trying to do?

RUTH. [Wildly.] You've crushed us! We're helpless, utterly helpless !

PLIM. Have you no mercy? Aren't you satisfied when you've got us down?

RUTH. Are you going to ruin everybody? Are you a madman?

PLIM. What are you trying to do? What do you want?

HAGEN. [Has been listening in silence. Suddenly he leaps into action,
an expression of furious rage coming upon his face. His eyes gleam,
and he raises his hand as if to strike the two.] Get down on your


RUTH. What?

HAGEN. [Louder.] Get down on your knees! [PLIMPTON sinks in horror.

RUTH. [Sinking.] Mercy!

HAGEN. [As they kneel before him, his anger vanishes; he steps back.]
There! [Waving his hand.] You asked me what I wanted? I wanted this .
. . to see you there . . . upon your knees! [To spectators, who appear
right and left.] Behold!

RUTH. Oh! [Starts to rise.]

HAGEN. [Savagely.] Stay where you are! . . . To see you on your knees!
To hear you crying for mercy, which you will not get! You pious
plunderers! Devourers of the people! Assassins of women and helpless
children! Who made the rules of this game . . . you or I? Who cast the
halo of righteousness about it . . . who sanctified it by the laws of
God and man? Property! Property was holy! Property must rule! You
carved it into your constitutions . . . you taught it in your
newspapers, you preached it from your pulpits! You screwed down wages,
you screwed up prices . . . it must be right, because it paid! Money
was the test . . . money was the end! You were business men! Practical
men! Don't you know the phrases? Money talks! Business is business!
The gold standard . . . ha, ha, ha! The gold standard! Now someone has
come who has more gold than you. You were masters . . . now I am the
master! And what you have done to the people I will do to you! You
shall drink the cup that you have poured out for them . . . you shall
drink it to the dregs!

PLIM. [Starting to rise.] Monster!

HAGEN. Stay where you are! Cringe and grovel and whine! [Draws a
Nibelung whip from under his coat.] I will put the lash upon your
backs! I will strip your shams from you . . . I will see you as you
are! I will take away your wealth, that you have wrung from others!
Before I get through with you you shall sweat with the toilers in the
trenches! For I am the master now! I have the gold! I own the
property! The world is mine! You were lords and barons . . . you ruled
in your little principalities! But I shall rule everywhere . . .
every- thing . . . all civilization! I shall be king! King! [With
exultant gesture.] Make way for the king! Make way for the king!



[The scene shows a spacious room, fitted with luxurious rusticity. To
the right of centre are a couple of broad windows, leading to a
veranda. In the corner, right is a table, with a telephone. In the
centre of the room is a large table, with a lamp and books, and a
leather arm-chair at each side. To the left of centre is a spacious
stone fireplace, having within it a trap door opening downward. At the
left a piano with a violin upon it. There are exposed oak beams;
antlers, rifles, snowshoes, etc., upon the walls. Entrances right and

[At rise: CALKINS, standing by the desk, arranging some papers.]

CALKINS. [As 'phone rings.] Hello! Yes, this is the Isman camp. Prince
Hagen is staying here. This is his secretary speaking. No, Prince
Hagen does not receive telephone calls. No, not under any
circumstances whatever. It doesn't make any difference. If the
President of the United States has anything to say to Prince Hagen,
let him communicate with Mr. Isman at his New York office, and the
message will reach him. I am sorry . . . those are my instructions.
Good-bye. [To HICKS, who enters with telegram.] Hicks, for the future,
Prince Hagen wishes all messages for him to be taken to my office.
That applies to letters, telegrams . . . everything.

HICKS. Very good, sir. [Exit.]

CAL. [Opening a telegram.] More appeals for mercy.

HAGEN. [Enters from veranda, wearing white flannels, cool and alert.]
Well, Calkins?

CAL. Nothing important, sir.

HAGEN. The market continues to fall?

CAL. Copper is off five points, sir.


CAL. The President of the United States tried to get you on the 'phone
just now.

HAGEN. Humph! Anything else?

CAL. There has been another mob on Fifth Avenue this morning. They
seem to be threatening your palace.

HAGEN. I see. You wrote to the mayor, as I told you?

CAL. Yes, sir.

HAGEN. Well, you'd best put in another hundred guards. And they're to
be instructed to shoot.

CAL. Yes, sir.

HAGEN. Let them be men we can depend on . . . I don't want any mistake
about it. I don't care about the building, but I mean to make a test
of it.

CAL. I'll see to it, sir.

HAGEN. Anything else?

CAL. A message from a delegation from the National Unemployment
Conference. They are to call tomorrow morning.

HAGEN. Ah, yes. Make a note, please . . . I sympathize with their
purpose, and contribute half a million. [To GERALD, who enters, left.]
Hello, Gerald . . . how are you? Make yourself at home. [To CALKINS.]
I attribute the present desperate situation to the anarchical
struggles of rival financial interests. I am assuming control, and
straightening out the tangle as rapidly as I can. The worst of the
crisis is over . . . the opposition is capitulating, and I expect soon
to order a general resumption of industry. Prepare me an address of
five hundred words . . . sharp and snappy. Then see the head of the
delegation, and have it understood that the affair is not to occupy
more than fifteen minutes.

CAL. Very good, sir.

HAGEN. And stir up our Press Bureau. We must have strong, conservative
editorials this week . . . It's the crucial period. Our institutions
are at stake . . . the national honor is imperilled . . . order must
be preserved at any hazard . . . all that sort of thing.

CAL. Yes, sir . . . I understand.

HAGEN. Very good. That will be all.

CAL. Yes, sir.

[Exit, right.]

GER. You're putting the screws on, are you?

HAGEN. Humph! Yes. It's funny to hear these financial men . . . their
one idea in life has been to dominate . . . and now they cry out
against tyranny!

GER. I can imagine it.

HAGEN. Here's Plimpton, making speeches about American democracy!
These fellows have got so used to making pretenses that they actually
deceive themselves.

GER. I've noticed that you make a few yourself now.

HAGEN. Yes . . . don't I do it well? [Thoughtfully.] You know, Gerald,
pretenses are the greatest device that your civilization had to teach

GER. Indeed?

HAGEN. We never made any pretenses in Nibelheim; and when I first met
you, your talk about virtue and morality and self-sacrifice was simply
incomprehensible to me. It seemed something quite apart from life. But
now I've come to perceive that this is what makes possible the system
under which you live.

GER. Explain yourself.

HAGEN. Here is this civilization . . . simply appalling in its
vastness. The countless millions of your people, the wealth you have
piled up . . . it seems like a huge bubble that may burst any minute.
And the one device by which it is all kept together . . . is pretense!

GER. Why do you think that?

HAGEN. Life, Gerald, is the survival of the strong. I care not if it
be in a jungle or in a city, it is the warfare of each against all.
But in the former case it's brute force, and in the latter it's power
of mind. And don't you see that the ingenious device which makes the
animal of the slums the docile slave of the man who can outwit him . .
. is this Morality . . . this absolutely sublimest invention, this
most daring conception that ever flashed across the mind of man?

GER. Oh, I see.

HAGEN. I used to wonder at it down there on the Bowery. The poor are a
thousand to your one, and the best that is might be theirs, if they
chose to take it; but there is Morality! They call it their virtue.
And so the rich man may have his vices in peace. By heaven, if that is
not a wondrous achievement, I have not seen one!

GER. You believe this morality was invented by the rich.

HAGEN. I don't know. It seems to be a congenital disease.

GER. Some people believe it was implanted in man by God.

HAGEN. [Shrugging his shoulders.] Perhaps. Or by a devil. Men might
have lived in holes, like woodchucks, and been fat and happy; but now
they have Morality, and toil and die for some other man's delight.

CAL. [Enters, right.] Are you at leisure, sir?


CAL. Mr. Isman wants you on the 'phone.

HAGEN. Oh! All right . . . [Goes to 'phone.]

GER. [Rises.] Perhaps I . . ,

HAGEN. No, that's all right. [Sits at 'phone.] Hello! Is that Isman?
How are you? [To CALKINS.] Calkins!

CAL. Yes, sir.

[Sits and takes notes.]

HAGEN. How about Intercontinental? [Imperiously.] But I can! I said
the stock was to go to sixty-four, and I want it to go. I don't care
what it costs, Isman . . . let it go in the morning . . . and don't
ever let this happen again. I have sent word you are to have another
hundred million by nine-thirty. Will that do? Don't take chances. Oh,
Rutherford! Tell Rutherford my terms are that the directors of the
Fidelity Life Insurance Company are to resign, and he is to go to
China for six months. Yes. I mean that literally . . . Plimpton? What
do I want with his banks . . . I've got my own money . . . And, oh, by
the way, Isman . . . call up the White House again, and tell the
President that the regulars will be needed in New York . . . . No, I
understand you . . . I think I've fixed matters up at this end. I've
got two hundred guards up here, and they're picked men . . . they'll
shoot if there's need. I'm not talking about it, naturally . . . but
I'm taking care of myself. You keep your nerve, Isman. It'll all be
over in a month or two more . . . these fellows are used to having
their own way, and they make a fuss. And, by the way, as to the
newspapers . . . we'll turn out that paper trust crowd, and stop
selling paper to the ones that are making trouble. That'll put an end
to it, I fancy. You had best get after it yourself, and have it
attended to promptly. You might think of little things like that
yourself, Isman . . . no, you're all right; only you haven't got
enough imagination. But just get onto this job, and let me hear that
it's done before morn- ing. Good-bye. [Hangs up receiver.] Humph! [To
GERALD.] They've about got your father's nerve.

GER. I can't say that I blame him very much. [In somber thought.]
Really, you know, Prince Hagen, this can't go on. What's to be the end
of it?

HAGEN. [Laughing.] Oh, come, come, Gerald . . . don't bother your head
with things like that! You're a poet . . . you must keep your
imagination free from such dismal matters . . . . See, I've got a job
for you. [Pointing to books on table.] Do you notice the titles?

GER. [Has been handling the books absent-mindedly; now looks at
titles.] The Saints' Everlasting Rest. Pilgrim's Progress. The Life of
St. Ignatius. . . . What does that mean?

HAGEN. I'm studying up on religion. I want to know the language.

GER. I See!

HAGEN. But I don't seem to get hold of it very well. I think it's the
job for you.

GER. How do you mean?

HAGEN. I'm getting ready to introduce Morality into Nibelheim.

GER. What?

HAGEN. [Playfully.] You remember you talked to me about it a long time
ago. And now I've come to your way of thinking. Suppose I gave you a
chance to civilize the place, to teach those wretched creatures to
love beauty and virtue?

GER. It would depend upon what your motive was in inviting me.

HAGEN. My Motive? What has that to do with it? Virtue is virtue, is it
not? . . . No matter what I think about it?

GER. Yes.

HAGEN. And virtue is its own reward?

GER. Perhaps so.

HAGEN. Let us grant that the consequences of educating and elevating
the Nibelungs . . . of teaching them to love righteousness . . . would
be that they were deprived of all their gold, and forced to labor at
getting more for a wicked capitalist like me. Would it not still be
right to teach them?

GER. It might, perhaps.

HAGEN. Then you will try it?

GER. No . . . I'm afraid not.

HAGEN. Why not?

GER. [Gravely.] Well . . . for one thing . . . I have weighty reasons
for doubting the perfectibility of the Nibelungs.

HAGEN. [Gazes at him; then shakes with laughter.] Really, Gerald, that
is the one clever thing I've heard you say !

GER. [Laughing.] Thank you!

HAGEN. [Rises and looks at watch.] Your mother was coming down. Ah !
Mrs. Isman !

MRS. IS. [Enters, left.] Good afternoon, Prince Hagen.

HAGEN. And how go things?

MRS. IS. I've just had a telegram from my brother. He says that the
Archbishop of Canterbury never goes abroad, and was shocked at the
suggestion; but he thinks two million might fetch him.

HAGEN. Very well . . . offer it.

MRS. IS. Do you really think it's worth that?

HAGEN. My dear lady, it is worth anything if it will make you happy
and add to the eclat of the wedding. There's nothing too good for

MRS. IS. Ah, what a wonderful man you are. [Eyeing him.] I was
wondering how rose pink would go with your complexion.

HAGEN. Dear me! Am I to wear rose pink?

MRS. IS. No, but I'm planning the decoration for the wedding breakfast
. . . . And I'm puzzled about the flowers. I'm weary of orchids and la
France roses . . . Mrs. Bagley-Willis had her ball room swamped with
them last week.

HAGEN. We must certainly not imitate Mrs. Bagley-Willis.

MRS. IS. [Complacently.] I fancy she's pretty nearly at the end of her
rope. My maid tells me she couldn't pay her grocer's bill till she got
that million from you!

HAGEN. Ha, ha, ha!

MRS. IS. I wish you'd come with me for a moment . . . I have some
designs for the breakfast menu . . .

HAGEN. Delighted, I'm sure. [They go off, left.]

GER. Oh, my God!

EST. [Enters in a beautiful afternoon gown, and carrying an armful of
roses; she is nervous and preoccupied.] Ah! Gerald!

GER. Estelle. [He watches her in silence; she arranges flowers.]

EST. How goes the poem, Gerald?

GER. The poem! Who could think of a poem at a time like this?
[Advancing toward her.] Estelle! I can bear it no longer!

EST. What?

GER. This crime! I tell you it's a crime you're committing!

EST. Oh, Gerald! Don't begin that again. You know it's too late. And
it tears me to pieces!

GER. I can't help it. I must say it!

EST. [Hurrying toward him.] Brother ! You must not say another word to
me! I tell you you must not . . . I can't bear it!

GER. Estelle . . .

EST. No, I say . . . no! I've given my word! My honor is pledged, and
it's too late to turn back. I have permitted father to incur
obligations before all the world

GER. But, Estelle, you don't know. If you understood all ...all...

EST. [With sudden intensity.] Gerald! I know what you mean! I have
felt it! You know more about Prince Hagen than you have told me. There
is some secret- something strange. [She stares at him wildly.] I don't
want to know it! Gerald . . . don't you understand? We are in that
man's hands! We are at his mercy! Don't you know that he would never
give me up? He would follow me to the end of the earth! He would wreck
the whole world to get me! I am in a cage with a wild beast!

[They stare at each other.]

GER. [In sudden excitement.] Estelle!

EST. What?

GER. Can it be that you love this man?

EST. [Startled.] I don't know! How can I tell? He terrifies me. He
fascinates me. I don't know what to make of him. And I don't dare to
think. [Wildly.] And what difference does it make? I have promised to
marry him!

[MRS. ISMAN enters, left, and listens.]

EST. And I must keep my word! You must not try to dissuade me . . .

MRS. IS. Estelle!

EST. Mother!

MRS. IS. Has Gerald been tormenting you again? My child, my child . .
. I implore you, don't let that madness take hold of you! Think of our
position. [Attempts to embrace her.] I know how it is . . . I went
through with it myself. We women all have to go through with it. I did
not care for your father . . . it nearly broke my heart. I was madly
in love at the time . . . truly I was! But think what will become of
us . . .

EST. [Vehemently, pushing her away.] Mother! I forbid you to speak
another word to me! I will not bear it! I will keep my bargain. I will
do what I have said I will do. But I will not have you talk to me
about it . . . Do you understand me?

MRS. IS. My dear!

EST. Please go! Both of you! I wish to be alone!

MRS. IS. [In great agitation.] Oh, dear me! dear me!

[Exit, left.]

GER. Good-bye!

[Exit, right; ESTELLE recovers herself by an effort; stands by table
in thought. Twilight has begun to gather.]

HAGEN. [Enters by veranda.] Ah ! Estelle! [Comes toward her.] My
beautiful! [Makes to embrace her.] Not yet?

EST. [Faintly.] Prince Hagen, I told you . . .

HAGEN. I know, I know! But how much longer? I love you! The sight of
you is fire in my veins. Have I not been patient? The time is very
short . . . when will you let me . . .


EST. [Gasping.] Give me . . . give me till tomorrow!

HAGEN. [Gripping his hands.] To-morrow! Very well! [Turns to table.]
Ah, flowers! Do you like the new poppies?

EST. They are exquisite!

HAGEN. [Sits in chair.] Well, we've had a busy day today.

EST. Yes. You must be tired.

HAGEN. In your house? No!

EST. Rest, even so. [Goes to piano.] I will play for you. [Sits, and
takes Rheingold score.] One of Gerald's scores.

[Plays a little, then sounds the Nibelung theme. PRINCE HAGEN starts.
She repeats it.]

HAGEN. No . . . no!

EST. Why-what's the matter?

HAGEN. That music! What is it?

EST. It's some of the Nibelung music. Gerald had it here.

HAGEN. Don't play it! [Hesitating.] Music jars on me now . . . I've
too much on my mind.

EST. [Rising.] Oh . . . very well. It is time for tea, anyway. Have
you talked with father today?

HAGEN. Three times. He is in the thick of the fight. He plays the game

EST. He has played it a long time.

HAGEN. Yes. ['Phone rings.] Ah! What is that? [Takes receiver.] Hello!
Yes . . . oh, Isman ! I see' More trouble in Fifth Avenue, hey? Well,
are the regulars there? Why don't they fire? Women and children in
front! Do they expect to accomplish anything by that? No, don't call
me up about matters like that, Isman. The orders have been given. No .
. . not an inch! Let the orders be carried out. That is all. Good-bye.
Hangs up receiver.

EST. [Has been listening in terror.] Prince Hagen!

HAGEN. Well?

EST. What does that mean?

HAGEN. It means that the slums are pouring into Fifth Avenue.

EST. [A pause.] What do they want?

HAGEN. Apparently they want to burn my palace.

EST. And the orders . . . what are the orders?

HAGEN. The orders are to shoot, and to shoot straight.

EST. Is it for me that you are doing this?

HAGEN. How do you mean?

EST. You told me you brought all the world and laid it at my feet. Is
this part of the process?

HAGEN. Yes, this is part.

EST. [Stares at him intently; whispers.] How do you do it?

HAGEN. What?

EST. What is the secret of your power? They are millions, and you are
only one . . . yet you have them bound! Is it some spell that you have
woven? [A pause; HAGEN stares at her. She goes on, with growing
intensity and excitement.] They are afraid of your gold! Afraid of
your gold! All the world is afraid of it! It is nothing -it is a dream
. . . it is a nightmare! If they would defy you . . . if they would
open their eyes . . . it would go as all nightmares go! But you have
made them believe in it! They cower and cringe before it! They toil
and slave for it! They take up arms and murder their brothers for it !
They sell their minds and their souls for it! And all because no one
dares to defy you! No one! No one! [In a sudden transport of passion.]
I defy you! [PRINCE HAGEN starts; she gazes at him wildly.] I will not
marry you! I will not sell myself to you! Not for any price that you
can offer . . . not for any threat that you can make! Not in order
that my mother may plan wedding breakfasts and triumph over Mrs.
Bagley-Willis! Not in order that my father may rule in Wall Street and
command the slaughter of women and children! Nor yet for the fear of
anything that you can do!

HAGEN. [In a low voice.] Have you any idea what I will do?

EST. [Desperately.] I know what you mean . . . you have me at your
mercy! You have your guards - I am in a trap! And you mean force . . .
I have felt it in all your actions . . . behind all your words. Very
well! There is a way of escape, even from that; and I will take it!
You can compel me to kill myself; but you can never compel me to marry
you! Not with all the power you can summon . . . not with all the
wealth of the world! Do you understand me? [They stare at each other.]
I have heard you talk with my brother, and I know what are your ideas.
You came to our civilization, and tried it, and found it a lie. Virtue
and honor . . . justice and mercy . . . all these things were
pretenses . . . snares for the unwary. There was no one you could not
frighten with your gold! That is your creed, and so far it has served
you . . . but no farther! There is one thing in the world you cannot
get . . . one thing that is beyond the reach of all your cunning! And
that is a woman's soul. [With a gesture of exultant triumph.] You
cannot buy me!

HAGEN. Estelle!

EST. Go!

HAGEN. [Stretching out his arms to her.] I love you!

EST. You love me! The slave driver . . . with his golden whip!

HAGEN. Even so . . . I love you.

EST. What do you know of love? What does the word mean to you? Before
love must come justice and honor, with it come mercy and self-
sacrifice . . . all things that you deride and trample on. What have
you to do with love?

HAGEN. [With intensity.] I love you! More than anything else in all
the world . . . I love you !

EST. [Stares at him.] More than your power?

HAGEN. Estelle! Listen to me! You do not know what my life has been!
But I can say this for myself . . . I have sought the best that I
know. I have sought Reality. [A pause.] I seek your love! I seek those
things which you have, and which I have not. [Fiercely.] Do you think
that I have not felt the difference?

EST. [In a startled whisper.] No!

HAGEN. That which you have, and which I have not, has become all the
world to me! I love you . . . I cannot live without you. I will follow
you wherever you command. Only teach me how to win your love.

EST. I cannot make terms with you. I will not hear of love from you
while you have force in your hands.

HAGEN. I will leave your home. I will set you free. I will humble
myself before you. What else can I do?

EST. You can lay down your power.

HAGEN. Estelle! Those are mere words.

EST. No!

HAGEN. Who is to take up the power? Shall I hand it back to those who
had it before? Are Plimpton and Rutherford better fitted to wield it
than I?

EST. [Vehemently.] Give it to the people!

HAGEN. The people! Do you believe that in that mass of ignorance and
corruption which you call the people there is the power to rule the

EST. What is it that has made the people corrupt? What is it that has
kept them in ignorance? What is it but your gold? It lies upon them
like a mountain's weight! It crushes every aspiration for freedom...
every effort after light! Teach them... help them... then see if they
cannot govern themselves!

HAGEN. I meant to do it...

EST. Yes... so does every rich man! When only he has the time to think
of it! When only his power is secure! I have heard my father say it...
a score of times. But there are always new rivals to trample... new
foes to fight... new wrongs and horrors to be perpetrated! The time to
do it is now... NOW!

HAGEN. Estelle...

CAL. [Enters hurriedly.] Prince Hagen!

HAGEN. What is it?

CAL. A message from Isman. There is bad news from Washington.

HAGEN. Well?

CAL. A. bill has been introduced in Congress... it is expected to pass
both houses to-night... your property is to be confiscated!

HAGEN. What!

CAL. The sources of natural wealth... the land and the mines and the
railroads... all are to become public property. It is to take effect
at once!

EST. [Pointing at him in exultation.] Aha! It has come!

[They stare at each other.]

CAL. I tried to get more information... but I was cut off...

HAGEN. Cut off!

CAL. I think the wires are down... I can't get any response.

HAGEN. I see! [Stands in deep thought; laughs.] Well... [To ESTELLE.]
At least Plimpton and Rutherford are buried with me! [To CALKINS.]
Send to town at once and have the wires seen to. And try to learn what
you can.

CAL. Yes, sir... at once! [Exit.]

EST. They have done it themselves, you see!

HAGEN. Yes... I see.

GER. [Enters, centre; stands looking from one to the other.] Well,
Prince Hagen... it looks as if the game was up.

HAGEN. You've heard the news?

GER. From Washington? Yes. And more than that. Your guards have

HAGEN. What! Here?

GER. Yes. We're prisoners of war, it seems.

EST. Gerald!

HAGEN. How do you know?

GER. They've sent a delegation to tell us. They've cut the telephone
wires, blocked the roads, and shut us in.

HAGEN. What do they want?

GER. They don't condescend to tell us that. They simply inform us that
the woods are guarded, and that anyone who tries to leave the camp
will be shot.

EST. [In fright.] Prince Hagen!

[HAGEN stands motionless.]

GER. [Solemnly.] Hagen, the game is up!

HAGEN. [In deep thought.] Yes. The game is up. [A pause.] Gerald!

GER. Well?

HAGEN. [Points to violin.] Play!

GER. [Startled.] No!

HAGEN. Play!

GER. You will go?

HAGEN. Yes. I will go. But I will come back! Play! [GERALD takes the
violin and plays the Nibelung theme.] Louder!

GERALD plays the Nibelung music, which is taken up by the orchestra
and mounts to a climax, in the midst of which HAGEN pronounces a sort
of incantation.

Mimi! Mimi! Open the gates of wonderland! Bring back the mood of
phantasy, and wake us from our evil dream!

Silence. Then answering echoes of the music are heard, faintly, from
the fireplace. There are rappings and murmurings underground, rumbling
and patter of feet, and all the sounds of Nibelheim. As the music
swells louder, the trap doors slide open, and MIMI appears, amid steam
and glare of light. ESTELLE sees him, and recoils in terror. A company
of Nibelungs emerge one by one. They peer about timidly, recognize
HAGEN, and with much trepidation approach him. MIMI clasps his hand,
and they surround him with joyful cries. He moves toward the
fireplace, and the steam envelops him.

EST. [Starts toward him, stretching out her arms to him.] Prince

HAGEN. Farewell!

He gradually retires, and disappears with the Nibelungs. The orchestra
sounds the motive of Siegfried Triumphant.


Book of the day: