Part 10 out of 12
MIEZE, LOTTE, TRUDE, LENCHEN, LIESCHEN, MARIECHEN, TIENCHEN, HANNCHEN,
DR. BOXER, _a vigorous man of thirty-six. Physician. Of Jewish birth._
VON WEHRHAHN, _Justice._
EDE, _Journeyman at LANGHEINRICH'S._
GLASENAPP, _Clerk in the Justice's Court._
MRS. SCHULZE, _his aunt._
JANITOR OF THE COURT.
Scene: Anywhere in the neighbourhood of Berlin.
THE FIRST ACT
_The work shop of the shoemaker FIELITZ. A low room with blue tinted
walls. A window to the right. In each of the other walls a door.
Under the window at the right a small platform. Upon it a cobbler's
bench and a small table. On the latter a stand upholding three
spheres of glass filled with water. Near them stands an unlit
coal-oil lamp. In the corner, left, a brown tile oven surrounded by a
bench and kitchen utensils of various kinds._
_SHOEMAKER FIELITZ is still crouching over his work. On the platform
and around it old shoes and boots of every size are heaped up.
FIELITZ is hammering a piece of leather into flexibility._
_MRS. FIELITZ (formerly MRS. WOLFF) is thoughtfully turning over in
her hands a little wooden box and a stearin candle. It is toward
evening, at the end of September._
You get outta this here shop. Go on now!
[_Briefly and contemptuously._] Who d'you think'll come in here now? It's
You get outta the shop with that trash o' yours.
I wish you wouldn't act so like a fool. What's wrong about this here
little box, eh? A little box like this ain't no harm.
[_Working with enraged violence._] It's somethin' good, ain't it now?
[_Still thoughtfully and half in jest._] The sawdust comes up to here ...
An' then they go an' put a candle plumb in the middle here ...
Look here, ma, you're too smart for me! If that there smartness o' yours
keeps on, I see myself in gaol one o' these days.
[_Harshly._] I s'ppose you can't listen a bit when a person talks to you.
You might pay some attention when I talks to you. Things like that
interest a body.
I takes an interest in my boots, an' I don't take no interest in nothin'
That's it! O Lordy! That'd be a nice state for us. We'd all go an' starve
together. Your cobblin'--there's a lot o' good in that!--They puts the
candle in here. Y'understand? This here little box ain't big enough
neither. That one over there would be more like. Let's throw them
children's shoes out.
[_She turns a box full of children's shoes upside down._
[_Frightened._] Don't you go in for no nonsense, y'understand?
An' then when they've lit the candle--... then they stands it up in the
middle o' the box, so's it can't burn the top, o' course. Then you puts
it, reel still, up in some attic--Grabow didn't do that different
neither--right straight in a heap o' old trash--an' then you goes quiet
to Berlin, an' when you comes back ...
Ssh! Somebody's comin'! Ssh!
An' the devil hisself can't go an' prove nothin' against you.
[_A protracted silence._
If it was as simple as all that! But that ain't noways as easy as you
thinks. First of all there's got to be air-holes in here. O' course this
here awl--: that'll do for a drill. That thing's got to have a draught,
if you want it to catch! If there ain't no draught, it just smothers!
Fire's gotta have a draught or it won't burn. Somebody's got to lend a
hand here as knows somethin'.
Well, that'd be an easy thing for you!
[_Forgetting his point of view in his growing zeal._] There's gotta be a
draught here an' another here! An' it's all gotta be done just right! An'
then sawdust an' rags here. An' then you go an' pour some kerosene right
in.--There ain't nothin' new in all that. I was out in the world for six
Well, exactly. That's what I been sayin'.
You c'n do that with a sponge an' you c'n do that with a string. All you
gotta do is to steep 'em good an' hard in saltpetre. An' you c'n light
that with burning glasses. It c'n be done twenty steps away!--All that's
been done before now. There ain't nothin' new in all that to me. I know
all about it.
An' Grabow's built up again. If he hadn't gone an' taken his courage in
both hands, he'd ha' been in the street long ago.
That's all right, if a man's in trouble like water up to his neck an' is
goin' to be drowned. Maybe then ...
An' there's many as lets the time slip till he is drowned.
[_The doorbell rings._
Go an' put the box away an' then open the door.
_JUSTICE VON WEHRHAHN enters, wearing a thick overcoat, tall boots
and a fur cap._
Evening, Fielitz! How about those boots?
They's all right, your honour.
You better go an' get a little light so's Mr. von Wehrhahn can see
Well, how is everything and what are you doing, Mrs. Wolff?
I ain't no Mrs. Wolff no more.
She's grown very proud, eh, Fielitz? She carries her head very high? She
feels quite set up?
Hear that! Marryin's gone to my head? I could ha' lived much better as a
[_Who has drawn the lasts out of WEHRHAHN'S boots._] Then you might ha'
gone an' stayed a widder.
If I'd ha' known what kind of a feller you are, I wouldn't ha' been in no
hurry. I could ha' gotten an old bandy-legged crittur like you any day o'
Never you mind her. [_With almost creeping servility._] If you'll be so
very kind, your honour, an' have the goodness to pull off your right
boot. If you'll let me; I c'n do that. So. An' if you'll be so good now
an' put your foot on this here box.
[_Holding the burning lamp._] An' how is the Missis, Baron?
Thank you, she's quite well. But she's still lamenting her Mrs. Wolff ...
Well, you see, I couldn't do that no more reely. I washed thirty years
an' over for you. You c'n get enough o' anything in that time, I tell
you. I c'n show you my legs some day. The veins is standin' out on 'em,
thick as your fist. That comes from the everlastin' standin' up at the
tub! An' I got frost boils all over me and the rheumatiz in every limb.
They ain't no end to the doctorin' I gotta do! I just gotta wrap myself
up in cotton, an' anyhow I'm cold all day.
Certainly, Mrs. Wolff, I can well believe that.
There was a time an' I'd work against anybody. I had a constitootion! You
couldn't ha' found one in ten like it. But nowadays ... O Lord! Things is
You c'n holler a little louder if you want to.
I can't blame you, of course, Mrs. Fielitz. Any one who has worked as you
have may well consider herself entitled to some rest.
An' then, you see, things keep goin'. We got our livin' right along.
[_She give FIELITZ a friendly nudge on the head._] An' he does his part
all right now. We ain't neither of us lazy, so to speak. If only a body
could keep reel well! But Saturday I gotta go to the doctor again. He
goes and electrilises me with his electrilising machine, you know. I
ain't sayin' but what it helps me. But first of all there's the expenses
of the trip in to Berlin an' then every time he electrilises me that
costs five shillin's. Sometimes, you know, a person, don't know where to
get the money.
You go ahead an' ram your money down doctors' throats!
[_Treads firmly with his new shoe._] None of us are getting any younger,
Mrs. Fielitz. I'm beginning to feel that quite distinctly myself.
Perfectly natural. Nothing to be done about it. We've simply got to make
up our minds to that.--And, anyhow, you oughtn't to complain. I heard it
said a while ago that your son-in-law had passed his examinations very
well. In that case everything is going according to your wishes.
That's true, of course, an' it did make me reel happy too. In the first
place he'll be able to get along much better now that he's somethin' like
an architect ... an' then, he deserved it all ways.--The kind o' time he
had when he was a child! Well, I ain't had no easy time neither, but a
father like that ...
Schmarowski is a fellow of solid worth. I never had any fears for him.
Your Adelaide was very lucky there.--You remember my telling you so at
the time. You came running over to me that time, you recall, when the
engagement was almost broken, and I sent you to Pastor Friederici:--that
shows you the value of spiritual advice. A young man is a young man and
however Christian and upright his life, he's apt to forget himself once
in a while. That's where the natural function of the spiritual adviser
Yes, yes, I s'ppose you're right enough there. An' I'll never forget what
the pastor did for us that time! If Schmarowski had gone an' left the
girl, she'd never have lived through it, that's certain.
There we've got an instance of what happens when a church and a pastor
are in a place. The house of God that we've built together has brought
many a blessing. So, good evening and good luck to you.--Oh, what I was
going to say, Fielitz: the celebration takes place on Monday morning. You
will be there surely?
Naturally he'll come.
Sure an' certain.
I would hardly know what to do without you, Fielitz. In the meantime,
come in for a moment on Sunday, I'm proposing certain points ... certain
very marked points, and we must pull together vigorously. So, good
evening! Don't forget--we've got to have a strong parade.
That's right. You can't do them things without one.
You go an' take that candle out! Will you, please?
You're as easy scared as a rabbit, Anton! That's what you are--a reg'lar
_She takes the candle out of the little box. Almost at the same
moment RAUCHHAUPT opens the door and looks in._
Good evenin'. Am I intrudin'?
-- -- -- --
Aw, come right into our parlour!
Ain't Langheinrich the smith come in yet?
Was he goin' to come? No, he ain't been here.
We made a special engagement.--I brought along the cross too. Here,
Gustav! Bring that there cross in! [_GUSTAV brings in a cross of cast
iron with an inscription on it._] Go an' put it down on that there box.
[_Quickly._] No, never mind, Edward, that'll break.
Then you c'n just lean it against the wall.
So you got through with it at last. [_Calls out through the door._]
Leontine! You come down a minute!
Trouble is I had so much to do. I'm buildin' a new hot house, you know.
Another one, eh? Ain't that a man for you! You're a reg'lar mole,
Rauchhaupt. The way that man keeps diggin' around in the ground.
A man feels best when he's doin' that. That's what we're all made
of--earth: an that's what we're all goin' to turn to again. Why shouldn't
we be diggin' around in the earth? [_He helps himself from the snuff-box
which FIELITZ holds out to him._] That's got a earthy smell, too,
Fielitz. That smells like good, fresh earth.
_LEONTINE enters. A pair of scissors hangs by her side; she has a
thimble on her finger._
Here I am, mama. What's up?
He just brought in papa his hephitaph.
_LEONTINE and MRS. FIELITZ regard the cross thoughtfully._
Light the candle for me, girl. [_She hands her the tallow-candle with
which she has been experimenting._] We wants to study the writin' a bit.
I fooled around with that thing a whole lot. But I got it to please me in
the end. You c'n go an' look through the whole cemetery three times over
and you'll come away knowin' this is the finest inscription you c'n get.
I went an' convinced myself of that.
[_He sits down on the low platform and fills his nose anew with
_MRS. FIELITZ holds the lighted lamp and puzzles out the
Here rests in ...
[_Reading on._] In God.
That's what I said: in God. I was goin' to write first: in the Lord. But
that's gettin' to be so common.
[_Reads on with trembling voice._] Here rests in God the unforgotten
carpenter ... [_Weeping aloud._] Oh, no, I tell you, it's too awful! That
man--he was the best man in the world, he was. A man like that, you c'n
take my word for it, you ain't likely to find no more these days.
[_Reading on._] ... the unforgotten carpenter Mr. Julian Wolff ...
--Don't you be takin' on now, y'understand? No corpse ain't goin' to come
to life for all your howlin'. [_He hands the whiskey bottle to
RAUCHHAUPT._] Here, Edward, that'll do you good. Them goin's on don't.
[_He gets up and brushes off his blue apron with the air of a man who
has completed his day's work._
[_Pointing with the bottle._] Them lines there I made up myself. I'll say
'em over for you; listen now:
"The hearts of all to sin confess" ...
'Tain't everybody c'n do that neither!--
"The hearts of all to sin confess,
The beggar's and the king's no less.
But this man's heart from year to year
Was spotless and like water clear."
[_The women weep more copiously. He continues._] I gotta go over that
with white paint. An' this part here about God is goin' to be Prussian
_The smith LANGHEINRICH enters._
[_Regarding LEONTINE desirously._] Well now, look here, Rauchhaupt, old
man, I been lookin' for you half an hour! I thought I was to come an'
fetch you, you chucklehead.--Well, are you pleased with the job?
Oh, go an' don't bother me, any of you! If a person loses a man like that
one, how's she goin' to get along with you jackasses afterwards!
Come on, man, an' pull up a stool. You just let her get back to her right
[_With sly merriment._] That's right, I always said so myself: this here
dyin' is a invention of the devil.
We was married for twenty years an' more. An' there wasn't so much as one
angry word between us. An' the way that man was honest. Not a penny,
no,--he never cheated any man of a penny in all his days. An' sober! He
didn't so much as know what whiskey was like. You could go an' put the
bottle before him an' he wouldn't look at it. An' the way he brought up
his children! What _d'you_ think about, but playin' cards and swillin'
Gustav is poking out his tongue at me.
[_Takes hold of a cobbler's last and throws himself enragedly upon
GUSTAV, who has been making faces at LEONTINE and has poked out his
tongue at her.] You varmint! Ill break your bones!--That rotten crittur
is goin' to be the death o' me yet. I just gets so mad sometimes I think
it's goin' to be the death o' me.
The poor crittur ain't got his right senses.
I wish to God the dam' brat was dead. I'll get so dam' wild some day, if
he ain't, that I'll go an' kill my own flesh an' blood.
I'd go an' have him locked up in the asylum. Then you don't have the
worry of him no more. D'you want me to write out a petition for you?
Don't I know all about petitions? What does they say then: he ain't
dangerous bein' at large.--The whole world ain't nothin' but a asylum. It
ain't dangerous, o' course, that he fires bricks at me, an' unscrews
locks and steals house keys--oh, no, that ain't considered dangerous. No,
an' it's all right for him to eat my tulip bulbs. I c'n just go ahead an'
do the best I can.
How did that happen at Grabow's the other day--I mean when his inn the
"Prussian Eagle" burned down?
Aw, Grabow, he needed just that. It wasn't no Gustav that set that there
fire. He wasn't needed there.
They say he's always playin' with matches.
Gustav an' matches? Aw, that's all right. If he c'n just go an' hunt up
matches some place, trouble ain't very far off. You know I needs
coverin's for my hot house plants; so I built a kind of a shed. I stored
the straw in there. Well, I tell you, Mrs. Fielitz, that there idjit went
an' burned the shed down. It was bright day an' o' course nobody wasn't
thinkin', an' I got loose boards all over my lot. The shed crackled right
off. It wasn't more'n a puff! But Grabow--he took care o' his fire
I'd give notice about a thing like that, Rauchhaupt--I mean burnin' down
I don't get along so very well with Constable Schulze. That's often the
way with people in your own profession. I was honourably retired. He
don't like that. He ain't sooted with that. All right; all that may be
so. An' that I own my own lot, an' that my old woman died. Sure, it ain't
no use denyin' it! I made a few crowns outta all that. An' that my
gardenin' brings in somethin'--well, he don't like to see it. So then
it's easy to say: Rauchhaupt? He don't need no help. He c'n take care o'
hisself. An' that's the end of it.
Fred Grabow, he's all right now!
[_Eagerly._] An' he's got me to thank for it. Only thing is, I pretty
near got into a dam' mess myself that time. You see, I'm captain of the
hook an' ladder. Well, I says to my boys, says I:--I don't know but I
must ha' had more'n I could carry. The whole crowd was pretty well
full!--Well, I says to my boys: Sail right in an' see that there ain't a
stone left standin', 'cause if there is, Grabow'll get one reduction of
insurance after another an' then the whole thing ain't no good to him. I
guess I hollered that out a bit too loud. So when I takes a step or two
backward I thinks all hell's broke loose, 'cause there stands Constable
Schulze an' stares at me. Your health, says I, your health,
captain!--Grabow, you know, was treatin' to beer!--An' then Schulze was
real sociable and took a drink with me.
It's queer that nothin' don't come out there. That fellow ain't a bit
cute. How did he manage to do it?
Everybody likes Fritz Grabow.
He ain't got sense enough to count up to three. An' anyhow he had to go
an' take oath.
Takin' oath? Aw, that ain't so much! I'll just tell you how 'tis, 'cause
you never can't tell. Who knows about it? Anybody might have to do that
some day. All you do is to twist off one o' your breeches buttons while
you goes ahead and swears reel quiet. You just try it. That's easy as
He's got one o' his jokin' spells again. I won't have to go an' twist off
a button, I c'n tell you. Things can't get that way with me.--But tell me
this: whose turn is it goin' to be now? It's about time for somebody, you
know. Somethin's got to burn pretty soon now.
It could be most anybody. Things is lookin' pretty poor over at
Strombergers. The rain's comin' right down into his sittin' room,--Well,
good evenin'. A man's got to have his joke.
But who's goin' to drink my hot toddy now?
You stay right where you are!
Can't be done. I gotta be goin'. [_He puts an arm around LEONTINE, who
frees herself carelessly and with a contemptuous expression._]--If mother
don't hear my hammerin' downstairs she'll be swimmin' away in tears an'
the bed with her when I gets home.
That's nothin' but jealousy, mama.
Maybe it is, an' maybe she's got reason. You go on up to your work.--How
is the Missis?
Pretty low. What c'n you expect?
You'll be drivin' me to work till I gets consumption.
If you get consumption, it won't be your dress-makin' that's the cause of
it. You act as much like a ninny as if you was a man.
[_Putting his arms around MRS. FIELITZ._] Come now, young woman, don't be
so cross! Young people wants to have their fling--that's all. An' they'll
have it, if it's only with Constable Schulze.
Now what's the meanin' o' that?
Wait there a minute an' I'll join you.
[_He gets up and motions to GUSTAV, who lifts the iron cross again._
Why d'you go an' run off all of a sudden?
I gotta go an' get rid o' some work.
[_Exit with GUSTAV.
What's the trouble with you an' Langheinrich again? You act like a
fool--that's what you do!
There ain't no trouble. I want him to leave me alone.
He'll be willin' to do that all right! If you're goin' to turn up your
nose an' wriggle around that way, you won't have to take much trouble to
get rid o' him. He don't need nothin' like that!
But he's a married man.
So he is. Let him be. You got no sense 'cause you was born a fool. You
got a baby and no husband; Adelaide's got a husband an' no baby.
[_LEONTINE goes slowly out._
If she'd only go an' take advantage o' her chances. There ain't no
tellin' how soon Langheinrich'll be a widower.
I don't know's I like to see the way Constable Schulze runs after that
[_Sententiously._] You can't run your head through no stone walls. [_She
sits down, takes out a little notebook and turns its leaves._] You got a
office. All right. Why shouldn't you have? Things is _as_ they is. But
havin' a office you got to look out all around. You just let Constable
Schulze alone! Did you read the letter from Schmarowski?
Aw, yes, sure. I got enough o' him all right. I wish somebody'd given me
the money--half the money--that feller's had the use of. But no: nobody
never paid no attention to me. Nobody sent me to no school o'
I'd like to know what you got against Schmarowski! You're pickin' at him
all the time.
Hold on! Not me! He ain't no concern o' mine. But every time you open
your mouth I gets ready to bet ten pairs o' boots that you're goin' to
talk about Schmarowski.
Did he do you any harm, eh? Well?
No, I can't say as he has. Not that I know. An' I wouldn't advise him to
try neither. Only when I sees him I gets kind o' sick at my stomick. You
oughta have married him yourself.
If I had been thirty years younger--sure enough.
Well, why don't you go an' move over to your daughter then! Go right on!
Hurry all you can an' go to Adelaide's. Then they got hold of you good
and tight an' you c'n get rid o' your savin's.
That's an ambitious man. He don't have to wait, for me; that's
sure!--there ain't no gettin' ahead with your kind. Instead o' you
fellows helpin' each other, you're always hittin' out at each other. Now
Schmarowski--he's a wide-awake kind o' man. No money ain't been wasted on
him. You needn't be scared: he'll make his way all right.--But if you
knew just a speck o' somethin' about life, you'd know what you'd be doin'
Me? How's that? Why me exactly?
What was it that there bricklayer boss told me? I saw him one day when he
was full; they was just raisin' that church. He says: Schmarowski, says
he, that's a sly dog. An' he knew why he was sayin' that. Them plans o'
his takes 'em all in.
I ain't got no objection to his takin' 'em in.
He ain't the kind o' man to sit an' draw till he's blind an' let the
bricklayers get all the profit.
Well, I ain't made the world.
No, nor you ain't goin' to stop it neither.
An' I don't want to.
You ain't goin' to stop it, Fielitz--not the world an' not me. That's
[_She has said this in a slightly ironical way, yet with a half
embarrassed laugh. She now puts away her little book excitedly._
I can't get to understand reel straight. I'm always thinkin' there's
somethin' wrong with you.
Maybe there was somethin' wrong with Grabow too, eh? I s'ppose that's the
reason he's livin' in his new house this day.--I wish there'd be
somethin' like that wrong with you onct in a while. But if somebody don't
pull an' poke at you, you'd grow fast to the stool you're sittin' on.
[_With decision._] Mother, put that there thing outta your mind. I tell
you that in kindness now. I ain't goin' to lend my help to no such thing.
Because why? I knows what that means. Is I goin' to jump into that kind
of a mess again? No, I ain't young enough for that no more.
Just because you're an old feller you oughta be thinkin' about it all the
more. How long are you goin' to be able to work along here. You don't get
around to much no more now. You cobbled around on Wehrhahn's shoes! It
took more'n two weeks.
Well, mother, you needn't lie that way.
That cobblin' o' yours--that ain't worth a damn. I ain't much good no
more an' you ain't. That's a fact. I don't excep' myself at all. An' if
people like us don't go an' get somethin' they c'n fall back on, they got
to go beggin' in the end anyhow. You c'n kick against that all you want
It's a queer thing about you, mother. It's just like as if the devil
hisself got a hold o' you. First it just sort o' peeps up, an' God knows
where it comes from. Sometimes it's there an' sometimes it's gone. An'
then it'll come back again sudden like an' then it gets hold o' you an'
don't let you go no more. I've known some tough customers in my time,
mother, but when you gets took that way--then I tell you, you makes the
cold shivers run down my back.
[_Has taken out her notebook again and become absorbed in it._] What did
you think about all this? We're insured here for seven thousand.
What I thought? I didn't think nothin'.
Well, there ain't any value to this place excep' what's in the lot
[_Gets up and puts on his coat._] You just leave me alone, y'understand?
Well, ain't it true? You just stop your foolin'. I seen that long ago,
before we was ever married. Schmarowski told me that ten times over, that
this here is the proper place for a big house. An' anybody as has any
sense c'n see that it's so. Now just look for yourself: over there,
that's the drug shop! An' a bit across the way to the left is the post
office. An' then a little ways on is the baker an' he's built hisself a
nice new shop. Four noo villas has gone up and if, some day, we gets the
tramway out here--we'll be right in the midst o' things.
[_About to go._] Good evenin'.
Are you goin' out this time o' day?
Yes, 'cause I can't stand that no more.--If I'd known the kind of a
crittur you are ... only I didn't know nothin' about it ... I'd ha'
thought this here marryin' over a good bit--yes, a good bit.
You? Is that what you'd ha' thought over, eh?
Is I goin' to let myself be put up to things like that?...
A whole lot o' thinkin' over you'd ha' done! You ain't done any thinkin'
all the days o' your life. A great donkey like you ... an' thinkin'.
Well! A fine mess would come of it if you took to thinkin'.
Mother, I axes you to consider that ...
Put you up? To what? What is I puttin' you up to?--This here old shed is
goin' to burn down sometime. It's goin' to burn down one time or 'nother,
if it don't first come topplin' down over our heads. It's squeezed in
here between the other houses in a way to make a person feel ashamed, if
he looks at it.
Mother, I axes you to consider ...
Aw, I wish you'd clear out o' the front door this minute! I'm goin' to
pack up my things pretty soon too. An' you c'n go over to the justice for
all I care. I been puttin' you up to things, you know!
Mother, I axes you to consider that ... Look out that you don't go an'
get a black eye! 'Cause I, if I ...
[_With a gesture as though about to push him out._] Get out! Just get
out! It'll be good riddance! The sooner the better! What are you dawdlin'
[_Beside himself._] Mother, I'll hit you one across the ... You're goin'
to put me out, eh? What? Outta my shop? Is this here your shop? I'll
learn you! Just wait!
Well, I'm waitin'. Why don't you start? You're that kind of a man, are
you? Come right on! Come on now! You got the courage! I'll hold my breath
or maybe I'd blow you right into Berlin.
[_Hurls a boot against the wall in his impotent rage._] I'll break every
stick in this here shop! To hell with the whole business: that's what I
says! I must ha' been just ravin' mad! There I goes an' burdens myself
with a devil of a woman like that, an' I might ha' lived as comfortable
as can be! She killed off one husband an' now I'm dam' idjit enough, to
take his place! But you're goin' to find out! It ain't goin' to be so
easy this time! I'll first kick you out before I'll let you get the best
o' me! Not me! No, sir! You c'n believe that!
You needn't exert yourself that much, Fielitz ...
Not me! Not me! You c'n depend on that! You ain't agoin' to down me! You
c'n take my word for it.
[_He sits down, exhausted._
Maybe you might like throwin' some more boots. There's plenty of 'em
around here--I s'ppose you married me for love, eh?
God knows why I did!
If you'll go an' study it out, maybe you'll know why. Maybe it was out o'
pity? Eh? Maybe not.--Or maybe it was the money I had loaned out?--Well,
you see! I s'ppose that was it.--You c'n live a hundred years for my
part! But it's always the same thing. 'Twasn't much different with Julius
neither. If things had gone his way, I wouldn't have nothin' saved this
day neither. The trouble is a person is too good to you fellers.
An' outta goodness you want me to go an' take a match an' set fire to the
roof over my head?
You knew that you'd have to go an' build. I said that to myself right
off, an' buildin' costs money. There ain't no gettin' away from that
fact. An' the few pennies we has ain't more'n a beginnin'. If we had what
you might call a real house here ... Schmarowski, he'd build us one
that'd make all the others look like nothin' ... you could have a fine
shop here. We might put a few hundred dollars into it an' sell factory
shoes. If you'd want to take in repairing you could get a journeyman an'
put him here. An' if you wanted to go an' make some new shoes yourself,
you could take the time for all I care.
I don't know! I s'ppose I ain't got sense enough for them things. I
thought I'd get hold o' a bit o' money ... I thought I'd be able to lay
out a bit o' money! Buildin' a little annex of a shop--that's good fun. I
thought it all out to myself like--with nice shelves and things like that
... an' I planned to hang up a big clock an' such. An' now you sit on
your money bag like an old watch dog.
That money--it ain't to be thrown away so easy. 'Twas earned too bitter
hard for that.
... You forgets that I've been in trouble before. Is I to go an' get
locked up again?
Never mind, Fielitz, to-morrow is another day. A person mustn't go an'
take things that serious! I was more'n half jokin' anyhow.--Go over to
Grabow's an' drink a glass o' beer!... We must all be satisfied's best we
can. An' even if you can't go an' open a shoe shop, an' even if you gotta
worry along cobblin' an' can't buy no clock--well, a good conscience is
worth somethin' too.
THE CURTAIN FALLS
THE SECOND ACT
_The smithy of LANGHEINRICH. The little house protrudes at an angle
into the village street. The shed that projects over the smithy is
supported by wooden posts. The empty space below the shed is used for
the storage of tools and materials. Wheels are leaned against the
wood, a plough, wheel-tyres, pieces of pig iron, etc. An anvil stands
in the open, too, and several working stools. From behind the house,
jutting out diagonally, a wooden wagon is visible. The left front
wheel has been taken off and a windlass supports the axle._
_Through the door that leads to the shop one sees smithy fires and
_Opposite the smithy, on the left side of the village street which,
taking a turn, is lost to view in the background, there is a board
fence. A small locked gate opens upon the street._
_A cloudy, windy day._
_DR. BOXER, in a slouch hat and light overcoat, stands holding a
heavy smith's hammer at arm's length. EDE has a horseshoe in his
right hand, a smaller hammer in his left, and is looking on._
[_Counts._] ... twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four an' one makes
twenty-five an' another makes twenty-six.--Great guns, you're ahead o' me
now. An' twenty-seven, an' twenty-eight, an' twenty-nine an' thirty. My
respects, Doctor. That's all right. Is that the effect o' the sea air?
It may be. You see I haven't quite forgotten the trick.
No, you haven't. That's pretty good. Now let's try it with weights,
though. I c'n hold up a hundred an' fifty pounds, Doctor. How about
I don't know. It remains to be seen.
What? You think you c'n lift a hundred weight an' a half? You're a little
bit of a giant, ain't you? You didn't learn that on board ship. I thought
you travelled as a sawbones an' not as a strong man!--Look at that little
man over there goin' into Mrs. Fielitz' house. That's her son-in-law.
He looks very much like a bishop.
Right enough! That's what he is--Bishop Schmarowski.--You c'n knock! The
old woman's out and she took her cobbler with her. There won't be nothin'
to get there to-day.--You see, Doctor, when that fellow goes there he
wants money. If he weren't hard up he wouldn't come.
The Fielitzes went in to Berlin to-day; I met them this morning at the
railway station. Tell me: _he_ isn't quite right in his mind, is he?
How so? That wasn't never noticed. He's a pretty keen fellow ... No, I
couldn't say that _he's_ crazy.
He talked a mixture of idiotic nonsense and looked away from me while he
was talking. The fellow looked like an evil conscience personified. But I
don't suppose he has a conscience.
By the way: that time they came down on you an' made a search in your
house--that fellow Fielitz had his hand in it. He helped get you into
[_MRS. SCHULZE puts her head out at the attic window._
Ain't Mr. Langheinrich back yet?
Well, o' course he is, naturally. [_MRS. SCHULZE disappears and EDE
withdraws under the shed._] Quick! Take this hammer, will you, Doctor,
an' hammer away a bit. If you kept up your strength the way you have, you
ain't forgot about that neither.
I went at locksmith's work like the deuce when there was nothing to do on
board ship. That gave me a very good chance.
You're a doctor an' you're a smith an' ... I guess you're a sausage maker
I even made sausages once.
Nobody didn't want to eat them, I guess.
I wouldn't have advised any one to do so either. The sausages were mainly
filled with arsenic. The rats scarcely left us space to turn around in.
[_About to set to work._] Ugh! That wouldn't be no kind o' sausage for
me. Come now, Doctor, go at it! We wants the missis to think that two
people is workin' here or she'll never stop axin' questions.
Where did Langheinrich go so early?
That's a secret all right--the kind o' secret that all the sparrows on
the gutters is chirpin'.--Doctor, roll that wheel over here, will you?
You got a chance now to deserve well, as they says, o' the Prussian
state, 'cause this here waggon belongs to the government forester.--That
sort o' thing can't do you no harm.
No. And anyhow I ought to stand in with people.
[_He rolls the wheel slowly along; it escapes him and glides
That ain't so easy. Them people has long memories. [_He catches the
wheel._] Hold on there! No goin' backward! I'm for progress, I am,
Doctor! I'm willin' to fight for that!
But you must be careful of your fingers. [_He puts on a leathern apron._]
Is Langheinrich going to be gone long?
[_Whistles._] That depends on how hard it is!
Why do you whistle so significantly?
That's a gift o' my family. All my eleven brothers an' sisters is
musicians. I'm the only one that's a smith. [_For a space both work at
the wheel in silence. Then EDE continues._] 'Twouldn't be a bad stage
play, I tell you. You wouldn't have to be scared o' riskin' somethin' on
that. You'd make money! That's somethin' fine--specially for young
people! You been away here a good long while, that's the reason you don't
know what's what. I could tell you a few little things that happen around
here in bright daylight.--D'you know that Leontine?
Very sorry indeed, but I don't.
No? An' then you pretend that this is your home an' don't know that girl.
Somethin' wrong with you!
Oh, yes, yes, Leontine! Mrs. Wolff's daughter! I once got the deuce of a
flogging on her account.
Well, I wish you'd ha' been here two hours ago. Well, first of all that
same girl slouched by here ... No! First of all her mother an' father
went away ...'twasn't more'n dawn yet! Then Leontine at about eight. She
looked all around an' waited an' made lovin' eyes in this direction an'
then walked by. You should ha' seen Langheinrich. "Sweetheart, where are
you goin'?"--Then, after a while comes Constable Schulze and goes after
her.--That was too much for Langheinrich. Off with his apron an' there he
goes, quick 's a stag. That's the way it was. You could ha' observed
that: the rest ain't to be observed.--There's Langheinrich hurryin' back
now. [_He at once sets zealously to work and pretends to discover
LANGHEINRICH, who is approaching hastily and vigorously at this moment._]
Well, at last! Good thing you're here! No end o' askin' after you. Did
you catch her?
[_Brusquely._] Catch what?
I meant the 'bus.
Hold your...! I had business to attend to.--Well now, I'll give a dollar
if this here ain't Dr. Boxer! Why, how are you? How are things goin'? An'
what are you doin' nowadays? Did your ship come in? You been away
now--lemme see--that must be three years, eh? Sure. That's ... well, time
I want to settle down here, Langheinrich. That is to say, I have that
intention if it's possible. I should like to try my luck at home for a
Things is best at home, that's right. O' course, there's one here now, a
doctor I mean, but he ain't good for much. They say somethin' queer
happened to him onct--got his ears boxed too hard or somethin'. An' they
say that made him kind o' melancholious. That ain't much good for his
patients! No sick man can't get well through that. I'll send for you,
Doctor, if I need help.
I'll extract my first dozen wisdom teeth free of charge. So you'll be
glad if you don't need me soon.
Well, I ... fact is ... my wife is sick.
_MRS. SCHULZE comes hurriedly from the house._
It's a mighty good thing that you're here. D'you hear? That whimperin'
goes right on.
Doctor, I'm goin' to ax you somethin' now: d'you know any cure for
jealousy? You see, it's this way: We had a baby, an' I'd be lyin' if I
said I wasn't mighty well pleased. An' why shouldn't I be? But now my
wife is sick. She can't get up an' she don't want me to budge from the
side o' her bed. She screams an' she scolds an' she reproaches me.
Sometimes I reely don't know what to do no more.
You better go upstairs a bit first.
Do give him a chance to get his breath!
Oh, pshaw! Never you mind! I c'n attend to that right off.
[_After he has taken off his hat and coat and slipped on wooden shoes
he hurries into the house._
Well, what d'you think o' that?
He's a cheerful soul--more so, if possible, than he used to be. It does
one good to find a man that way.
Only that I axed after Leontine, that riled him more'n a little bit all
[_To EDE, watchfully:_] Where was the boss so early this mornin'?
In Lichtenberg, attendin' a dance.
The treatment that woman's gettin' is all wrong, Doctor. I don't mix in
what don't concern me. But the way she's treated, that ain't no kind o'
treatment, I c'n tell you. I told that Majunke man too that the missis
was goin' to the dogs this way.
But Dr. Majunke is very capable. I know him to be an excellent physician.
[_Interrupting._] Sure, sure, an' that's true. 'Course he's capable.
That's right, an' so he is. But, you see, he just won't prescribe nothin'
What should he prescribe? Let the people save their money.
But that's just what people don't want to do. It's like this: medicine's
got to be. If there ain't none they says: how c'n the doctor help us?
Mrs. Langheinrich never was strong. Even years ago when she used to sew
for us ...
That's the way it is. She's a little bit humpbacked; that's right. That's
the way women is, though, Doctor! A seamstress--that's what she was...!
She sewed an' she sewed and saved up a little money...! An' what kind of
a bargain is it she's got now. A handsome feller an' sickness an' worry
an' no rest no more by day or night.
_LANGHEINRICH returns from the house._
[_Tapping MRS. SCHULZE'S shoulder somewhat roughly._] Hurry now! Go on
up! It's all arranged an' settled. To-morrow I'm goin' to take her to the
That ain't goin' to be no easy work!
[_Lifts a great can of water to his mouth._] I can't help that. Things is
as they is. [_He takes an enormously long draught from the tin can.
Putting it down:_] Ede, drive them ducks away!
[_Acting as though he were driving away ducks, flaps his leathern apron
and rattles his wooden shoes._] Shoo! Shoo! Shoo! Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!
_MRS. SCHULZE retires into the house, shaking her head._
Them ducks is your regular fire eaters. There don't need nothin' but for
some sparks to fly off an', right straight off, they gobbles 'em down.
Then we gets what you might call roast duck that never meant to be
roasted. An' my old woman she ain't no friend o' that.
_RAUCHHAUPT looks over the fence to the left._
There's been a big fire again over there behind Landsberg. All the houses
on a great estate is ashes.
Did you maybe see Gustav anywhere?
Mornin', old boy! No, not me! Has he gone an' run off again?
I ordered him to go over to the Fielitzes.
The Fielitzes have all gone in to town.
I don't know, but there's a kind o' burned smell in the air ... Ouch!
[_He distorts his face in pain and grasps his leg._] Ain't Leontine here?
Naw, she had to go to court to-day. Always the same trouble with the
alimony. That confounded feller, he don't pay.
[_Calls out._] Gustav! [_He listens and then turns leisurely back to the
little gate. The wind worries and drives him._] Gustav!
Stiff wind coming up, all right! [_RAUCHHAUPT disappears._] Ede!
Let's get to work now! [_He spits into his hands and sets to work
vigorously._] Well, Doctor, where've you been runnin' about? Did you get
as far as the Chinese? You gotta tell us all about that some day when we
got plenty o' time for it.
Surely, I've been all over.
Did you see the sea-serpent too?
Surely, Langheinrich, far down in the South Seas.
An' it's true that it feeds on dill pickles?
Several hundred dozen a day.
[_Laughing._] That's all right then. An' when, you see that serpent
again, just give her my best regards.
I doubt whether I'll ever get so far again in life.
I guess you got all you wanted o' that? Now you see. Doctor, you just got
to the point where I am exactly an' I didn't have to move from this
spot.--Well, I guess your old mother, she'll be glad. She's gettin' along
all right. Doin' reel well. I always looked in a bit now an' then,
helpin' to see that things was all right.
And that was very good in you, Langheinrich.
Naw! Pshaw! I ain't sayin' it on that account. By the way, though, before
I forget. I got a little account standin' with your good mother--for
taffeta an' silk an' needles an' thread. Some cloth, too. My wife used
'em sewing. I'll straighten that up very soon.
[_Deprecatingly._] Never mind. That matter will be arranged.
Hurry along now! [_He takes up a heavy hammer._] If I don't go right on
workin' I'll end by bustin' out o' my skin.
_EDE approaches with a white hot piece of iron in the tongs and holds
it on the anvil._
Now we're goin' to start, Doctor! Down on it! Hit it now! [_He and DR.
BOXER beat the iron, keeping time with each other._] Well, you see! It's
got to go evenly. Doctor! Then I tell you the work's smooth as butter.
[_They stop hammering; EDE takes up the iron again, takes it into the
smithy and holds it into the flame._
[_Takes up the water can again and sets it to his lips._] There ain't
much to this!
Things like that makes you thirsty.
_LANGHEINRICH puts the can down._
You c'n believe me, Doctor: it was fine anyhow.
What was it that was go very fine?
Lord! I don't know! I don't know nothin' much. But when I met Constable
Schulze I had a devil of a good time--that's what!
An' now a glass o' beer from Grabow over there. That's what I could stand
fine just now.
Hurry! Get three steins! Dr. Boxer will pay for 'em.
_EDE wipes his hands on his apron and goes._
An' so you want to settle down here now! That ain't no bad idea neither.
Only this: you got to be up to all kinds o' tricks here. An' if you want
my advice, Doctor, don't go to people for nothin'.
Do you think that I'll be unmolested in other respects?
Aw, them old stories! Them's all outlawed by now. An' then, nowadays they
can't worry people so much no more as they used to do under the old laws.
Well, at all events I'll make the attempt ... My political ardour has
cooled off. If these people annoy me in spite of that, I'll simply trudge
off again. I'll go back to sea, or I'll let myself be engaged ...
Pretty easy drownin' on water!
[_Continuing._] ... Then I'll let myself be engaged to go to Brazil with
the Russian Jews.
What would you get out o' that?
Yellow fever, perhaps.
Anything else. Doctor? That wouldn't be nothin' for me!
I believe that.
Me go an' wear myself out for other people? Not me! No, sir! I don't do
nothin' like that. An' why should I? Nobody don't give me nothin'. I tell
you people in this world is a pretty sly set. I've had time to find that
You're a regular heathen: you're not a Christian at all!
That kind o' talk don't do much good with me. I'm a Christian just like
all the rest is! The people that sit in the new church here ... 'cause
they built a new church here now!... if them is Christians, the Lord
That's easily said, Langheinrich. But one ought not to be a Pharisee.
Where is your Christian long-suffering?
No, I ain't goin' in for long-sufferin'. I'm a sinner myself; that's true
all right. But now you take this Dalchow here for instance! It'd take the
devil to be long-sufferin' where _he's_ concerned! What did he do with
that son o' his. He kicked him out, that's what, by night, in winter.
Then he tied him up and beat him till he couldn't gasp. An' then he
apprenticed the little feller to a butcher so that he had to drive out
the sheep! An' all the time jabbin' at him an' overworkin' him till in
the end the poor little crittur went an' drowned hisself in the lake.
Just shook his head an' kept still an' then dived down an' that was the
[_Ironically._] I don't see what you've got against Dalchow,
Langheinrich? He's a man who seems to understand his business
Yes, ruinin' girls an' that sort o' thing, that's what. An' then beatin'
his hat around their heads an' sayin': Out with the low strumpet! That's
what they is all of a sudden when it's he that made 'em--_what_ they
is!--Oh, an' then he's a great friend o' Wehrhahn's an' grunts out like a
swine in public meetin's: There ain't no more morality these days ... an'
there ought to be laws against such doin's ... an' so on, an' so on ...
an' if you'd like to go to church, there the old rotten sinner sits an'
turns up his eyes. [_A distant ringing of church bells if heard._] Listen
to that! The sparrow is singin'.--I always calls that the sparrow,
Doctor. I always says: the sparrow sings. I mean when them bells is
ringin'. An' ain't I right that it's the sparrow that sings? 'Cause since
Wehrhahn got that bird in his buttonhole them bells has begun to ring.
An' if the bells didn't go an' ring, why he wouldn't have no decoration
_EDE comes in grinning and carrying three steins of beer._
Oho, listen there, the sparrow is singin'.
Well, you see, he don't call it nothin' else no more. [_Each of the three
holds a stein. They knock them together._] Your health! An' welcome back
to the old country! [_They drink._] That's a fine evenin' this mornin'.
I'd like to see this night by day.
Now I'm goin' to blaspheme a bit. I'm not opposed to the building of
churches at all.
An' I ain't neither. People gets work! I didn't get any this time,
though. An' even if there's a little trouble now an' then, Pastor
Friderici an' a bit o' nonsense with coloured windows an' altar
cloths--that don't do no harm. People has to have a little.
Yes, those people are entitled to cultivate their own pleasures. And
then, Langheinrich, a higher principle has to be represented somehow.
Sure, an' it brings people out here too, you c'n believe me. Buildin'
lots has gone up considerable.
That's so. An' there was a man onct that didn't have no roof over his
head ... No, that ain't the way to begin what I want to say.--I was onct
out on the heath--far out. All of a sudden: what d'you think I heard,
Doctor! I heard a dickens of a screechin'.--I goes up to it. Crows! Yes,
sir. There was a feller hangin' high up in a pine tree--tailor's
journeyman from over in Berkenbruck: he hanged hisself on account o'
starvation--hanged hisself high up.--Yes, there's always got to be
[_While they finish drinking their beer the long-drawn cries of pain
of a man's voice are heard from some distance. The wind has risen
What is that?
Rauchhaupt. Nothin' to worry about.
Sounds kind o' gruesome, don't it? 'Tain't nothin' very lovely neither.
When that feller's pains in his leg gets hold o' him an' he roars out
that way o' nights--that goes right through an' through any one. No,
before I'd stand pain like that I'd go an' put a bullet through my head.
Gee-rusalem! That's a wind again. Look out, Doctor, that your hat don't
_A hat is whirled by the wind along the street. SCHMAROWSKI, hatless,
a roll of paper in his hand, runs chasing it._
Run along, sonny! Right on there! Show us what you c'n do!
That hat is tired of his position: wants a holiday.
[_Who has recovered his hat, turns angrily to DR. BOXER._] What was that
very appropriate remark you made just now?
That you are an excellent runner.
Much pleased.--Now I'd like to ask you a question. Do you know what a
You don't? Neither do I. But now tell me: you know what a _schlemihl_ is,
Nothin' broke loose here? What's all this about? Easy now, easy! Howdy
do, Mr. Schmarowski? How are you? Have you come to visit your
I have business here!--And before I forget it, I should like to say: Have
the goodness to be more careful.
Who is this amusing gentleman, Langheinrich?
That's Mrs. Wolff's son-in-law.
I'll have no dealings with you at all.
Naw, you better not.
Not with you--[_Turning to DR. BOXER._] But if you don't know who I am,
you can get information from Baron von Wehrhahn, the Right Reverend
Bishop, the Baroness Bielschewski and the Countess Strach.
You want me to go around and get information from all those people?
That's what you're to do--just that an' nothing else. Then maybe you can
be more careful in future an' look people over before you talk.
What's gotten into you to-day? You're so dam' touchy!
[_To DR. BOXER, who has glanced at EDE and LANGHEINRICH alternately with
serene laughter._] You just be so good an' be more careful: we ain't so
soft. We don't take jokes so easy, especially not from the race to which
Hold on, Mr. Schmarowski! That's enough! Nothin' like that here. That's
enough an' too much, Mr. Schmarowski. You just see about gettin' along on
your way now.
Do you know where I am going straight from here?
You c'n go straight ahead to the Lord hisself! You c'n go where you want
to, Schmarowski; only, don't be keepin' me from my work. We ain't got no
time to lose here!--Ede, put that axle in!
_SCHMAROWSKI exit, enraged._
So that was Mr. Schmarowski, the envied pillar of the church? Why, he's a
poisonous little devil!
Yes, you're right there! Pois'nous is what he is. So you didn't, know
him, Dr. Boxer? Well, then you've seen him now--nothin' but a little,
sly, venomous pup! But you ought to go an' watch him when he gets in with
that pious crowd. Then he lets his ears hang, so 'umble his own mother
wouldn't hardly know him, like as if he was sayin': I ain't goin' to live
more'n two weeks at--most an' then I'm goin' to heaven to be with Jesus.
Yes! Likely! There's another place where he's goin'. But that won't be
soon. He ain't thinkin' of it much yet. An' in the meantime he rolls his
eyes upward 'cause somethin' might be hangin' round that he c'n make a
Well, you c'n look out now! Yon ain't goin' to get no work on the new
I know that. Can't be helped. Things is as they is. Can't hold' my tongue
at things like that. I won't learn that in a lifetime.
Have you many of that kind hereabouts now?
So, so. Enough to last for the winter.
_RAUCHHAUPT has come out of the little gate. He faces the wind,
shades his eyes with his hand and peers around._
Lord A'mighty! Well, well! Things is goin' the queerest way to-day! When
is they comin' back--them Fielitzes?
That ain't goin' to be so very soon to-day. They've gone to buy a
seven-day clock, a regulator. What are you upset about to-day?
Wha'? Fielitz goin' to buy that kind of a clock? I don't believe's he c'n
survive that. [_Calls._] Gustav!
Ain't he come back yet? I guess he's listenin' to the bells. You know how