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The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann by Gerhart Hauptmann

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and more strongly._] Nellie! Look at me; let those things be. Let me be
your consolation, I needn't talk to you about your sister. [_He embraces
her more firmly. Passionately and feelingly._] Oh, if she were what you
are!... But as it is ... tell me: what can she be to me? Did you ever
hear of a man, Nellie, of a cultured man whose wife--[_he almost
whispers_]--is a prey to such an unhappy passion? One is afraid to utter
it aloud: a woman--and--brandy ... Now, do you think I am any happier?...
Think of my little Freddie! Well, am I, when all's said, any better off
than you are?... [_With increasing passion._] And so, you see, fate has
done us one kindness anyhow. It has brought us together. And we belong
together. Our equal sorrows have predestined us to be friends. Isn't it
so, Nellie?

[_He puts his arms wholly around her. She permits it but with an
expression which shows that she forces herself to mere endurance. She
has grown quite silent and seems, with quivering tension of soul, to
be awaiting some certainty, some consummation that is inevitably
approaching._

HOFFMANN

[_Tenderly._] You should consent to my plan; you should leave this house
and live with us. The baby that is coming needs a mother. Come and be a
mother to it; otherwise--[_passionately moved and sentimentally_]--it
will have no mother. And then: bring a little, oh, only a very little
brightness into my life! Do that! Oh, do that!

[_He is about to lean his head upon her breast. She jumps up,
indignant. In her expression are revealed contempt, surprise,
loathing and hatred._

HELEN

Oh, but you are, you are ... Now I know you thoroughly! Oh, I've felt it
dimly before. But now I am certain.

HOFFMANN

[_Surprised, put out of countenance._] What? Helen ... you're
unique--really.

HELEN

Now I know that you're not by one hair's breadth better ... indeed,
you're much worse--the worst of them all here!

HOFFMANN

[_Arises. With assumed coldness._] D'you know, your behaviour to-day is
really quite peculiar.

HELEN

[_Approaches him._] You have just one end in view. [_Almost whispering._]
But you have very different weapons from father and from my stepmother,
or from my excellent betrothed--oh, quite different. They are all lambs,
all of them, compared to you. Now, now, suddenly, that has become clear
as day to me.

HOFFMANN

[_With hypocritical indignation._] Helen, you seem really not to be in
your right mind; you're, suffering under a delusion.... [_He interrupts
himself and strikes his forehead._] Good Lord, of course! I see it all.
You have ... it's very early in the day, to be sure, but I'd wager ...
Helen! Have you been talking to Alfred Loth this morning?

HELEN

And why should I not have been talking to him? He is the kind of man
before whom we should all be hiding in shame if things went by rights.

HOFFMANN

So I was right!... That's it ... Aha ... well, to be sure ... then I have
no further cause for surprise. So he actually used the opportunity to go
for his benefactor a bit. Of course, one should really be prepared for
things of that kind.

HELEN

Do you know, I think that is really caddish.

HOFFMANN

I'm inclined to think so myself.

HELEN

He didn't breathe one syllable, not one, about you.

HOFFMANN

[_Slurring HELEN'S argument._] If things have reached that pass, then it
is really my duty, my duty, I say, as a relative toward an inexperienced
young girl like you ...

HELEN

Inexperienced girl! What is the use of this pretence?

HOFFMANN

[_Enraged._] Loth came into this house on my responsibility. Now I want
you to know that he is, to put it mildly, an exceedingly dangerous
fanatic--this Mr. Loth.

HELEN

To hear you saying that of Mr. Loth strikes me as so absurd, so laughably
absurd!

HOFFMANN

And he is a fanatic, furthermore, who has the gift of muddling the heads
not only of women, but even of sensible people,

HELEN

Well, now, you see, that again strikes me as so absurd. I only exchanged
a few words with Mr. Loth and ever since I feel a clearness about things
that does me so much good ...

HOFFMANN

[_In a rebukeful tone._] What I tell you is by no means absurd!

HELEN

One has to have a sense for the absurd, and that's what you haven't.

HOFFMANN

[_In the same manner._] That isn't what we're discussing. I assure you
once more that what I tell you is not at all absurd, but something that I
must ask you to take as actually true ... I have my own experience to
guide me. Notions like that befog one's mind; one rants of universal
brotherhood, of liberty and equality and, of course, transcends every
convention and every moral law.... In those old days, for the sake of
this very nonsense, we were ready to walk over the bodies of our parents
to gain our ends ... Heaven knows it. And he, I tell you, would be
prepared, in a given case, to do the same thing to-day.

HELEN

And how many parents, do you suppose, walk year in and out over the
bodies of their children without anybody's ...

HOFFMANN

[_Interrupting her._] That is _nonsense_! Why, that's the end of all....
I tell you to take care, in every ... I tell you emphatically, in _every_
respect. You won't find a trace of moral scrupulousness in that quarter.

HELEN

Oh, dear, how absurd that sounds again. I tell you, when once you begin
to take notice of things like that ... it's awfully interesting.

HOFFMANN

You may say what you please. I have warned you. Only I will tell you
quite in confidence: at the time of that incident I very nearly got into
the same damnable mess myself.

HELEN

But if he's such a dangerous man, why were you sincerely delighted
yesterday when he ...

HOFFMANN

Good Lord, I knew him when I was young. And how do you know that I didn't
have very definite reasons for ...

HELEN

Reasons? Of what kind?

HOFFMANN

Never mind.--Though, if he came; to-day, and if I knew what I do know
to-day--

HELEN

What is it that you know? I've told you already that he didn't utter one
word about you.

HOFFMANN

Well, you may depend on it that if that had been the case, I would have
thought it all over very carefully, and would probably have taken good
care not to keep him here. Loth is now and always will be a man whose
acquaintance compromises you. The authorities have an eye on him.

HELEN

Why? Has he committed a crime?

HOFFMANN

The less said about it the better. Just let this assurance be sufficient
for you: to go about the world to-day, entertaining his opinions, is far
worse and, above all, far more dangerous than stealing.

HELEN

I will remember.--But now--listen! After all your talk about Mr. Loth,
you needn't ask me any more what I think of you.--Do you hear?

HOFFMANN

[_With cold cynicism._] Do you suppose that I'm so greatly concerned to
know that? [_He presses the electric button._] And, anyhow, I hear him
coming in.

LOTH _enters._

HOFFMANN

Hallo! Did you sleep well, old man?

LOTH

Well, but not long. Tell me this, though: I saw a gentleman leaving the
house a while ago.

HOFFMANN

Probably the doctor. He was here a while ago. I told you about him,
didn't I?--this queer mixture of hardness and sentimentality.

_HELEN gives instructions to EDWARD, who has just entered. He leaves
and returns shortly, serving tea and coffee._

LOTH

This mixture, as you call him, happened to resemble an old friend of my
student days most remarkably. In fact, I could have taken my oath that it
was a certain--Schimmelpfennig.

HOFFMANN

[_Sitting down at the breakfast table._] That's quite
right--Schimmelpfennig.

LOTH

Quite right? You mean?

HOFFMANN

That his name is really Schimmelpfennig.

LOTH

Who? The doctor here?

HOFFMANN

Yes, certainly, the doctor.

LOTH

Now that is really strange enough. Then of course, it's he?

HOFFMANN

Well, you see, beautiful souls find each other on sea and shore. You'll
pardon me, won't you, if I begin? We were just about to sit down to
breakfast. Do take a seat yourself. You haven't had breakfast anywhere
else, have you?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

Very well. Then sit down. [_Remaining seated himself he draws out a chair
for LOTH hereupon addressing EDWARD, who enters with tea and coffee._]
Ah, by the way, is Mrs. Krause coming down?

EDWARD

The madame and Mrs. Spiller are taking their breakfast upstairs.

HOFFMANN

Why, that has never before ...

HELEN

[_Pushing the dishes to rights._] Never mind. There's a reason.

HOFFMANN

Is that so?... Loth, help yourself!... Egg? Tea?

LOTH

I wonder if I could have a glass of milk?

HOFFMANN

With all the pleasure in the world.

HELEN

Edward, tell Miele to get some fresh milk.

HOFFMANN

[_Peeling an egg._] Milk--brrr! Horrible! [_Helping himself to salt and
pepper._] By the way, Loth, what brings you into these parts? Up to now
I've forgotten to ask you.

LOTH

[_Spreading butter on a roll._] I would like to study the local
conditions.

HOFFMANN

[_Looking up sharply._] That so?... What kind of conditions?

LOTH

To be precise: I want to study the condition of your miners.

HOFFMANN

Ah! In general that condition is a very excellent one, surely.

LOTH

Do you think so?--That would be a very pleasant fact ... Before I forget,
however. You can be of some service to me in the matter. You will deserve
very well of political economy, if you ...

HOFFMANN

I? How exactly?

LOTH

Well, you have the sole agency for the local mines?

HOFFMANN

Yes; and what of it?

LOTH

It will be very easy for you, in that case, to obtain permission for me
to inspect the mines. That is to say: I would like to go down into them
daily for at least a month, in order that I may gain a fairly accurate
notion of the management.

HOFFMANN

[_Carelessly._] And then, I suppose, you will describe what you've seen
down there?

LOTH

Yes, my work is to be primarily descriptive.

HOFFMANN

I'm awfully sorry, but I've nothing to do with that side of things. So
you just want to write about the miners, eh?

LOTH

That question shows how little of an economist you are.

HOFFMANN

[_Whose vanity is stung._] I beg your pardon! I hope you don't think ...
Why? I don't see why that isn't a legitimate question?... And, anyhow: it
wouldn't be surprising. One can't know everything.

LOTH

Oh, calm yourself. The matter stands simply thus: if I am to study the
situation of the miners in this district, it is of course unavoidably
necessary that I touch upon all the factors that condition their
situation.

HOFFMANN

Writings of that kind are sometimes full of frightful exaggerations.

LOTH

That is a fault which I hope to guard against.

HOFFMANN

That will be very praiseworthy. [_He has several times already cast brief
and searching glances at HELEN, who hangs with naive devoutness upon
LOTH'S lips. He does so again now and continues._] I say ... it's just
simply too queer for anything--how things will suddenly pop into a man's
mind. I wonder how things like that are brought about in the brain?

LOTH

What is it that has occurred to you so suddenly?

HOFFMANN

It's about you.--I thought of your be--... No, maybe it's tactless to
speak of your heart's secrets in the presence of a young lady.

HELEN

Perhaps it would be better for me to....

LOTH

Please stay. Miss Krause! By all means stay, at least as far as I'm
concerned. I've seen for some time what he's aiming at. There's nothing
in the least dangerous about it. [_To HOFFMANN._] You're thinking of my
betrothal, eh?

HOFFMANN

Since you mention it yourself, yes. I was, as a matter of fact, thinking
of your betrothal to Anna Faber.

LOTH

That was broken off, naturally, when I was sent to prison.

HOFFMANN

That wasn't very nice of your....

LOTH

It was, at least, honest in her! The letter in which she broke with me
showed her true face. Had she shown that before she would have spared
herself and me, too, a great deal.

HOFFMANN

And since that time your affections haven't taken root anywhere?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

_Of_ course! I suppose you've capitulated along the whole line--forsworn
marriage as well as drink, eh? Ah, well, _ chacun son got_.

LOTH

It's not my taste that decides in this matter, but perhaps my fate. I
told you once before, I believe, that I have made no renunciation in
regard to marriage. What I fear is this, that I won't find a woman who is
suitable for me,

HOFFMAN

That's a big order, Loth!

LOTH

I'm quite serious, though. It may be that one grows too critical as the
years go on and possesses too little healthy instinct. And I consider
instinct the best guarantee of a suitable choice.

HOFFMANN

[_Frivolously._] Oh, it'll be found again some day--[_laughing_]--the
necessary instinct, I mean.

LOTH

And, after all, what have I to offer a woman? I doubt more and more
whether I ought to expect any woman to content herself with that small
part of my personality which does not belong to my life's work. Then,
too, I'm afraid of the cares which a family brings.

HOFFMANN

Wh-at? The cares of a married man? Haven't you a head, and arms, eh?

LOTH

Obviously. But, as I've tried to tell you, my productive power belongs,
for the greater part, to my life's work and will always belong to it.
Hence it is no longer mine. Then, too, there would be peculiar
difficulties ...

HOFFMANN

Listen! Hasn't some one been sounding a gong?

LOTH

You consider all I've said mere phrase-making?

HOFFMANN

Honestly, it does sound a little hollow. After all, other people are not
necessarily savages, even if they are married. But some men act as though
they had a monopoly of all the good deeds that are to be done in the
world.

LOTH

[_With some heat._] Not at all! I'm not thinking of such a thing. If you
hadn't abandoned your life's work, your happy material situation would be
of the greatest assistance ...

HOFFMANN

[_Ironically._] So that would be one of your demands, too?

LOTH

Demands? How? What?

HOFFMANN

I mean that, in marrying, you would have an eye on money.

LOTH

Unquestionably.

HOFFMANN

And then--if I know you at all--there's quite a list of demands still to
come.

LOTH

So there is. The woman, for instance, must have physical and mental
health. That's a _conditio sine qua non_.

HOFFMANN

[_Laughing._] Better and better! I suppose then that a previous medical
examination of the lady would be necessary.

LOTH

[_Quite seriously_.] You must remember that I make demands upon myself
too.

HOFFMANN

[_More and more amused._] I know, I know! I remember your going through
all the literature of love once in order to determine quite
conscientiously whether that which you felt at that time for a certain
lady was really the tender passion. So, let's hear a few more of your
demands.

LOTH

My wife, for instance, would have to practice renunciation.

HELEN

If ... if ... Ah, I don't know whether it's right to ... but I merely
wanted to say that women, as a rule, are accustomed to renounce.

LOTH

For heaven's sake! You understand me quite wrongly. I did not mean
renunciation in the vulgar sense. I would demand renunciation only in so
far, or, rather, I would simply ask my wife to resign voluntarily and
gladly that part of myself which belongs to my chosen work. No, no, in
regard to every thing else, it is my wife who is to make demands--to
demand all that her sex has forfeited in the course of thousands of
years.

HOFFMANN

Oho, oho! Emancipation of woman! Really, that sudden turn was
admirable--now you are in the right channel. Fred Loth, or the agitator
in a vest-pocket edition. How would you formulate your demands in this
respect, or rather: to what degree would yam wife have to be
emancipated?--It really amuses me to hear you talk! Would she have to
smoke cigars? Wear breeches?

LOTH

Hardly that. I would want her, to be sure, to have risen above certain
social conventions. I should not want her, for instance, to hesitate, if
she felt genuine love for me, to be the first to make the avowal.

HOFFMANN

[_Has finished his breakfast. He jumps up in half-humorous, half-serious
indignation._] Do you know? That ... that is a really _shameless_ demand.
And I prophesy, too, that you'll go about with it unfulfilled to your
very end--unless you prefer to drop it first.

HELEN

[_Mastering her deep emotion with difficulty._] If you gentlemen will
excuse me now--the household ... You know [_to HOFFMANN_] that mama is
upstairs and so ...

HOFFMANN

Don't let us keep you.

_HELEN bows and withdraws._

HOFFMANN

[_Holding a match case in his hand and walking over to the cigar-box
which stands on the table._] There's no doubt ... you do get a man
excited ... it's almost uncanny. [_He takes a cigar from the box and sits
down on the sofa in the foreground, left. He cuts off the end of his
cigar, and, during what follows, he holds the cigar in his left, the
severed end between the fingers of his right hand._] In spite of all that
... it does amuse me. And then, you don't know how good it feels to pass
a few days in the country this way, away from all business matters. If
only to-day this confounded ... how late is it anyhow? Unfortunately I
have to go into town to a dinner to-day. It couldn't be helped: I had to
give this banquet. What are you going to do as a business man? Tit for
tat. The mine officials are used to that sort of thing.--Well, I've got
time enough to smoke another cigar--quite in peace, too.

[_He carries the cigar end to a cuspidor, sits down on the sofa again
and lights his cigar._]

LOTH

[_Stands at the table and turns the leaves of a deluxe volume._] "The
Adventures of Count Sandor."

HOFFMANN

You'll find that trash among all the farmers in the neighbourhood.

LOTH

[_Still turning the leaves._] How old is your sister-in-law?

HOFFMANN

She was twenty-one last August.

LOTH

Is she in delicate health?

HOFFMANN

Don't know. I hardly think so, though. Does she make that impression on
you?

LOTH

She really looks rather worried than ill.

HOFFMANN

Well, if you consider all the miseries with her step-mother ...

LOTH

She seems to be rather excitable, too.

HOFFMANN

In such an environment ... I should like to see any one who wouldn't
become excitable.

LOTH

She seems to possess a good deal of energy.

HOFFMANN

Stubbornness.

LOTH

Deep feeling, too?

HOFFMANN

Too much at times ...

LOTH

But if the conditions here are so unfortunate for her, why doesn't your
sister-in-law live with _your_ family?

HOFFMANN

You'd better ask her that! I've often enough made her the offer. Women
have these fancies, that's all. [_Holding the cigar in his mouth,
HOFFMANN takes out a note-book and adds a fete items._] You'll forgive
me, won't you, if I have to leave you alone after a while?

LOTH

Assuredly.

HOFFMANN

How long do you think of stay--

LOTH

I mean to look for a lodging very soon. Where does Schimmelpfennig live?
The best thing would be to go to see him. He would _probably_ be able to
secure one for me. I hope that I'll soon find a suitable place, otherwise
I'll spend the night at the inn next door.

HOFFMANN

Why should you? Of course you'll stay with us till morning, at least. To
be sure, I'm only a guest in this house myself, otherwise I'd naturally
ask you to ... you understand?

LOTH

Perfectly.

HOFFMANN

But do tell me, were you really quite serious when you said ...

LOTH

That I would spend the night at an inn...?

HOFFMANN

Nonsense ... Of course not!... I mean what you mentioned a while
ago--that business about your ridiculous descriptive essay?

LOTH

Why not?

HOFFMANN

I must confess that I thought you were jesting. [_He gets up and speaks
confidentially and half-humorously._] Now, you don't mean to say you're
really capable of undermining the ground here where a friend of yours has
been fortunate enough to get a firm foothold?

LOTH

You may take my word for it, Hoffmann; I had no idea that you were here.
If I had known that ...

HOFFMANN

[_Jumps up, delighted._] Very well, then; very well. If that's the way
things are. And I assure you I'm more than glad that I was not mistaken
in you. So now you do know that I am here. It goes without saying that
I'll make up to you all your travelling expenses and all extras. No, you
needn't be so excessively delicate. It's simply my duty as a friend ...
Now I recognise my excellent old friend again. But I tell you: for a time
I had very serious suspicions of you ... Now you ought to know this,
however. Frankly, I'm not as bad as I sometimes pretend to be, not by any
means. I have always honoured you, you and your sincere, single-minded
efforts. And I'm the last man to fail to attach weight to certain demands
of the exploited, oppressed masses, demands which are, most
unfortunately, only too well justified.--Oh, you may smile. I'll go
further and confess that there is just one party in parliament that has
any true ideals, and that's the party to which you belong! Only--as I
said before--we must go slowly, slowly!--not try to rush things through.
Everything is coming, surely coming about exactly as it ought to. Only
patience! Patience ...

LOTH

One must have patience. That is certain. But one isn't justified on that
account in folding one's hands in idleness.

HOFFMANN

Exactly my opinion.--As a matter of fact my thoughts have oftener been in
accord with you than my words. It's a bad habit of mine, I admit, I fell
into it in intercourse with people to whom I didn't always want to show
my hand.... Take the question, of woman, for instance ... You expressed a
good many things quite strikingly. [_He has, in the meantime, approached
the telephone, taken up the receiver and now speaks alternately into the
telephone and to LOTH._] My little sister-in-law, by the way, was all ear
... [_Into the telephone._] Frank! I want the carriage in ten minutes ...
[_To LOTH._] You made an impression on her ... [_Into the telephone._]
What--oh, nonsense!--well, that beats everything ... Then hitch up the
black horses at once ... [_To LOTH._] And why shouldn't you?... [_Into
the telephone._] Well, upon my...! To the milliner, you say? The madame?
The ma--! Well, very well, then. But at once! Oh, very well! Yes! What's
the--! [_He presses the button of the servants' bell. To LOTH._] You just
wait. Give me a chance to heap up the necessary mountain of shekels, and
maybe you'll see something happen ... [_EDWARD has entered._] Edward, my
leggings, my walking-coat! [_EDWARD withdraws_.] Maybe something will
happen then that you fellows wouldn't believe of me now ... If, at the
end of two or three days--you must stay with us so long by all means--I'd
consider it a real insult if you didn't--[_he slips out of his
dressing-gown_]--if, at the end of two or three days, you're ready to go.
I'll drive you over to the train.

_EDWARD enters carrying gaiters and walking-coat._

HOFFMANN

[_Permitting himself to be helped on with the coat._] So-o! [_Sitting
down on a chair._] Now the boots. [_After he has pulled on one of them._]
There's number one!

LOTH

Perhaps you didn't quite understand me after all.

HOFFMANN

Surely, that's quite possible. A fellow gets out of touch with things.
Nothing but musty business affairs. Edward, hasn't the mail come yet?
Wait a minute!--Do go up into my room. You'll find a document in a blue
cover on the left side of my desk. Get that and put it into the carriage.

_EDWARD goes through the door at the right, reappears through the
middle-door and then withdraws._

LOTH

I simply meant that you hadn't understood me in one particular respect.

HOFFMANN

[_Worrying his foot into the other shoe._] Ouch! There! [_He rises and
stamps his feet._] There we are. Nothing is more disagreeable than tight
shoes ... What were you saying just now?

LOTH

You were speaking of my departure ...

HOFFMANN

Well?

LOTH

But I thought I had explained that I must stay here for a specific
purpose.

HOFFMANN

[_In extreme consternation and thoroughly indignant at once._] Look
here!... That comes near being caddish!--Don't you know what you owe me
as your friend?

LOTH

Not, I hope, the betrayal of my cause!

HOFFMANN

[_Beside himself._] Well then--in that case--I haven't the slightest
motive for treating you as a friend. And so I tell you that I consider
your appearance and demeanour here--to put it mildly--incredibly
impudent.

LOTH

[_Quite calmly._] Perhaps you'll explain what gives you the right to use
such epithets ...

HOFFMANN

Yon want an explanation of that? That is going to an extreme! Not to feel
a thing like that it's necessary to have a rhinoceros-hide instead of
skin on one's back! You come here, enjoy my hospitality, thresh out a few
of your thread-bare phrases, turn my sister-in-law's head, go on about
old friendship and other pleasant things, and then you tell me quite
coolly: you're going to write a descriptive pamphlet about the local
conditions. Why, what do you take me to be, anyhow? D'you suppose I don't
know that these so-called essays are merely shameless libels?... You want
to write a denunciation like that, and about our coal district, of all
places! Are you so blind that you can't see whom such a rag would harm
most keenly? Only me, of course! I tell you, the trade that you
demagogues drive ought to be more firmly stamped out than has been done
up to now! What is it you do? You make the miners discontented,
presumptuous; you stir them up, embitter them, make them rebellious,
disobedient, wretched! Then you delude them with promises of mountains of
gold, and, in the meantime, grab out of their pockets the few pennies
that keep them from starving!

LOTH

Do you consider yourself unmasked now?

HOFFMANN

[_Brutally._] Oh, pshaw! You ridiculous, pompous wind-bag! What do you
suppose I care about being unmasked by you?--Go to work! Leave off this
silly drivelling!--Do something! Get ahead! I don't need to sponge on any
one for two-hundred marks!

[_He rushes out through the middle door._

_For several moments LOTH looks calmly after him. Then, no less
calmly, he draws a card case out of his inner pocket, takes a slip of
paper therefrom--HOFFMANN'S cheque--and tears it through several
times. Then he drops the scraps slowly into the coal-bin. Hereupon he
takes his hat and cane and turns to go. At this moment HELEN appears
on the threshold of the conservatory._

HELEN

[_Softly._] Mr. Loth!

LOTH

[_Quivers and turns._] Ah, it is you.--Well, then I can at least say
farewell to _you_.

HELEN

[_In spite of herself._] Did you feel the need of doing that?

LOTH

Yes! I did feel it, indeed. Probably, if you were in there, you heard
what has taken place here, and--in that case....

HELEN

I heard everything.

LOTH

In that case it won't astonish you to see me this house with so little
ceremony.

HELEN

No-o! I do understand--! But I should like you to feel less harshly
toward my brother-in-law. He always repents very quickly. I have
often....

LOTH

Quite possibly. But for that very reason what he has said just now
probably expresses his true opinion of me.--In fact, it is undoubtedly
his real opinion.

HELEN

Do you seriously believe that?

LOTH

Oh, yes, quite seriously. And so.... [_He walks toward her and takes her
hand._] I hope that life will be kind to you. [_He turns but at once
stops again._] I don't know...! or rather:--[_he looks calmly and
directly into HELEN'S face_]--I do know, I know--at this moment the
knowledge becomes clear--that it is not so easy for me to go away from
here ... and ... yes ... and ... well, yes...!

HELEN

But if I begged you--begged you truly--from my heart ... to stay a little
longer--

LOTH

So you do not share Hoffmann's opinion?

HELEN

No!--and that--that is just what I wanted to be sure--quite sure to tell
you, before ... before--you--went.

LOTH

[_Grasps her hand once more._] It helps me _much_ to hear you say that.

HELEN

[_Struggling with herself. Her excitement mounts rapidly and to the point
of unconsciousness. She stammers out half-chokingly._] And more, oh, more
I wanted to ... to tell you ... that I esteem and ... and ... honour you
as ... I've done no ... man before ... that I trust ... you ... that I'm
ready to ... to prove that ... that I feel toward you ...

[_She sinks, swooning into his arms._

LOTH

Helen!

THE CURTAIN DROPS QUICKLY

THE FOURTH ACT

_The farmyard, as in the second act. Time: a quarter of an hour after
HELEN'S avowal._

_MARIE and GOLISCH the cowherd drag a wooden chest down the stairs
that lead to the loft. LOTH comes from the house. He is dressed for
travelling and goes slowly and thoughtfully diagonally across the
yard. Before he turns into the path that leads to the inn, he comes
upon HOFFMANN, who is hurrying toward him through the gateway._

HOFFMANN

[_In top hat and kid gloves._] Don't be angry with me. [_He obstructs
LOTH'S way and grasps both of his hands._] I take it all back herewith
... Mention any reparation you demand ... I am ready to give you any!...
I'm most truly, most sincerely sorry.

LOTH

That helps neither of us very much.

HOFFMANN

Oh, if you would just ... Look here, now...! A man can't well do more
than that. I assure you that my conscience gave me no rest! I turned back
just before reaching Jauer.... That should convince you of the
seriousness of my feeling. Where were you going?

LOTH

To the inn--for the moment.

HOFFMANN

Oh, that's an affront you simply can't offer me ... no, you
mustn't--simply, I believe that I did hurt you badly, of course. And
probably it's not the kind of thing that can be wiped out with just a few
words. Only don't rob me of any chance ... of every possibility to prove
to you ... D'you hear? Now turn back and stay at least--at least until
to-morrow. Or till ... till I come back. I want to talk it all over with
you at leisure. You can't refuse me that favour.

LOTH

If you set so much store by it all....

HOFFMANN

A great deal!... on my honour!... I care immensely. So come, come! Don't
run away!

[_He leads LOTH, who offers no further resistance, back into the
house._

_The dismissed maid and the boy have, in the meantime, placed the
chest on a wheelbarrow and GOLISCH has put on the shoulder strap._

MARIE

[_Slipping a coin into GOLISCH'S hand._] There's somethin' fer you.

GOLISCH

[_Refusing it._] Keep yer penny.

MARIE

Aw! Ye donkey!

GOLISCH

Well, I don't care.

[_He takes the coin and puts it into his leathern purse._

MRS. SPILLER

[_Appears at one of the windows of the house and calls out:_] Marie.

MARIE

What d'ye want now?

MRS. SPILLER

[_Appearing almost immediately at the door of the house._] The madame's
willing to keep you, if you promise....

MARIE

A stinkin' lot I'll promise her. Go on, Golisch!

MRS. SPILLER

[_Approaching._] The madame is willing to increase your wages, if you....
[_Whispering suddenly._] What d'ye care, girl! She just gits kinder
rough now an' then.

MARIE

[_Furiously._] She c'n keep her dirty money to herself!--[_Tearfully._]
I'd rather starve! [_She follows GOLISCH, who has preceded her with the
wheelbarrow._] Naw, just to think of it!--It's enough to make you....

[_She disappears, as does MRS. SPILLER._

_Through the great gate comes BAER called HOPPING BAER. He is a lank
fellow with a vulture's neck and goitre. His feet and head are bare.
His breeches, badly ravelled at the bottom, scarcely reach below the
knee. The top of his head is bald. Such hair as he has, brown, dusty,
and clotted, hangs down over his shoulders. His gait is ostrich-like.
By a cord he draws behind him a child's toy waggon full of sand. His
face is beardless. His whole appearance shows him to be a
god-forsaken peasant lad in the twenties._

BAER

[_With a strangely bleating voice._] Sa--a--and! Sa--a--and!

_He crosses the yard and disappears between the house and the
stables. HOFFMANN and HELEN come from the house. HELEN is pale and
carries an empty glass in her hand._

HOFFMANN

[_To HELEN._] Entertain him a bit! You understand? Don't let him go. I
should hate to have him.--Injured vanity like that!... Good-bye!... Oh,
maybe I oughtn't to go at all? How is Martha doing?--I've got a queer
kind of feeling as if pretty soon.... Nonsense!--Good-bye! ... awful
hurry!... [_Calls out._] Franz! Give the horses their heads!

[_Leaves rapidly through the main gate._

_HELEN goes to the pump, fills her glass and empties it at one
draught. She empties half of another glass. She then sets the glass
on the pump and then strolls slowly, looking backward from time to
time, through the gate-may. BAER emerges from between the house and
the stables and stops with his waggon before the house door, where
MIELE takes some sand from him. In the meantime KAHL has become
visible at the right, beyond the dividing fence. He is in
conversation with MRS. SPILLER, who is on the hither side of the
fence and therefore close to the entrance of the yard. As the
conversation proceeds, both walk slowly along the fence._

MRS. SPILLER

[_Mildly agonised._] Ah yes--m--Mr. Kahl! I have--m--many a time thought
of--m--you when ... when our--m--dear Miss Helen ... She is so
to--m--speak betrothed to you and so--m--ah! I--m--must say ... in my
time...!

KAHL

[_Mounts a rustic bench under the oak-tree and fastens a bird trap to the
lowest branch._] When is th-that b-beast of a doctor goin' to git out o'
here? Ha?

MRS. SPILLER

Ah, Mr. Kahl! I don't--m--think so very soon.--Ah, Mr. Kahl, I--m--have,
so to speak, come--m--down in the world, but I--m--know--m--what
refinement is. In this respect, Mr. Kahl, I--must say--dear Miss
Helen isn't--m--acting quite right toward you. No--m--in that
respect, so to speak--m--I've never had anything with which
to--m--reproach myself--m--my conscience, dear Mr. Kahl, is as
pure in that--m--respect--so to speak, as new-fallen snow.

_BAER has finished the sale of his sand and, at this moment, passes
by KAHL in order to leave the yard._

KAHL

[_Discovers BAER and calls out._] Heres hopping Baer! Hop a bit!

_BAER takes a, huge leap._

KAHL

[_Bellowing with laughter._] Here, hopping Baer! Hop again!

MRS. SPILLER

Well--m--Mr. Kahl, what I want to say is--m--I have the
best--m--intentions toward you. You ought to observe very--m--carefully.
Something--m--is going on between our young lady and--m--

KAHL

If I could j-jist git my d-dogs on that son of a--... Jist once!

MRS. SPILLER

[_Mysteriously._] And I'm afraid you--m--don't know what kind of an
individual that--m--is. Oh, I am so--m--truly sorry for our dear young
lady. The wife of the bailiff--she has it straight from the office, I
think. He is said to be a--m--really dangerous person. The woman said her
husband had--m--orders, just think! actually--m--to keep his eye on him.

_LOTH comes from the house and looks about._

MRS. SPILLER

You see, now he is going--m--after our young lady. Oh, it's _too_
sad--m--for anything.

KAHL

Aw! You wait an' see!

[_Exit._

_MRS. SPILLER goes to the door of the house. In passing LOTH she
makes a deep bow. Then she disappears into the house._

_LOTH disappears slowly through the gateway. The coachman's wife, an
emaciated, worried, starved woman, emerges from between the house and
the stables. She carries a large pot hidden under her apron and
slinks off toward the cow-shed, looking about fearfully at every
moment. She disappears into the door of the stable. The two MAIDS,
each before her a wheel-barrow laden with clover, enter by the gate.
BEIPST, his pipe in his mouth and his scythe across his shoulder,
follows them, LIESE has wheeled her barrow in front of the left,
AUGUSTE hers in front of the right door of the barn, and both begin
to carry great armfuls of clover into the building._

LIESE

[_Coming back out of the stable._] Guste! D'ye know, Marie is gone.

AUGUSTE

Aw, don' tell me!

LIESE

Go in there'n ask the coachman's wife. She's gittin' her a drop o' milk.

BEIPST

[_Hangs up his scythe on the wall._] Ye'd better not let that Spiller
creature get wind o' it.

AUGUSTE

Oh, Lord, no! Who'd think o' it!

LIESE

A poor woman like that with eight--

AUGUSTE

Eight little brats. They wants to be fed!

LIESE

An' they wouldn't give her a drop o' milk even. It's low, that's what I
calls it.

AUGUSTE

Where is she milkin'?

LIESE

Way back there.

BEIPST

[_Fills his pipe. Holding his tobacco-pouch with his teeth he mumbles._]
Ye say Marie's gone?

LIESE

Yes, it's true an' certain. The parson's hired man slept with her.

BEIPST

[_Replacing the tobacco-pouch in his pocket._] Everybody feels that way
sometimes--even a woman. [_He lights his pipe and disappears through the
gateway. In going:_] I'm goin' fer a bit o' breakfast.

THE COACHMAN'S WIFE

[_Hiding the pot full of milk carefully under her apron, sticks her head
out of the stable door._] Anybody in sight?

LIESE

Ye c'n come if ye'll hurry. There ain't nobody. Come! Hurry!

THE COACHMAN'S WIFE

[_Passing by the maids._] It's fer the nursin' baby.

LIESE

[_Calling out after her._] Hurry! Some one's comin'.

_THE COACHMAN'S WIFE disappears between the house and the stable._

AUGUSTE

It's only the young Miss.

_The maids now finish unloading their wheelbarrows and then thrust
them under the doorway. They both go into the cow-shed._

_HELEN and LOTH enter by the gate._

LOTH

A disgusting fellow--this Kahl--an insolent sneak.

HELEN

I think in the arbour in front--[_They pass through the small gate into
the little garden by the house and into the arbour._] It's my favourite
place, I'm less disturbed there than anywhere if, sometimes, I want to
read something.

LOTH

It's a pretty place.--Really. [_Both sit down in the arbour, consciously
keeping at some distance from one another. An interval of silence. Then
LOTH._] You have very beautiful and abundant hair.

HELEN

Yes, my brother-in-law says so too. He thought he had scarcely seen
anyone with so much--not even in the city ... The braid at the top is as
thick as my wrist ... When I let it down, it reaches to my knees. Feel
it. It's like silk, isn't it?

LOTH

It is like silk.

[_A tremour passes through him. He bends down and kisses her hair._

HELEN

[_Frightened._] Ah, don't. If ...

LOTH

Helen! Were you in earnest a while ago?

HELEN

Oh, I am so ashamed--so deeply ashamed. What have I done? Why, I've
thrown myself at you. That's what I've done. I wonder what you take me
for?

LOTH

[_Draws nearer to her and takes her hand in his._] Ah, you mustn't let
_that_ trouble you.

HELEN

[_Sighing._] Oh, if Sister Schmittgen knew of that--I dare not imagine
it.

LOTH

Who is Sister Schmittgen?

HELEN

One of my teachers at boarding-school.

LOTH

How can you worry about Sister Schmittgen!

HELEN

She was very good.

[_Laughing heartily to herself suddenly._

LOTH

Why do you laugh all at once?

HELEN

[_Half between respect and jest._] Oh, when she stood in the choir and
sang--she had only one long tooth left--then she was supposed to sing:
"Trouble yourselves not, my people!"--and it always sounded like:
"'Rouble, 'rouble yourselves not, my people!" It was too funny. And we
always had to laugh so ... when it sounded through the chapel: "'Rouble,
'rouble!" [_She laughs more and more heartily. LOTH becomes infected by
her mirth. She seems so sweet to him at this moment that he wants to take
the opportunity to put his arms about her. HELEN wards him off._] An, no!
no! Just think! I threw myself at you!

LOTH

Oh, don't say such things!

HELEN

But it isn't my fault; you have only yourself to blame for it. Why do you
demand ...

_LOTH puts his arm about her once more and draws her closer to him.
At first she resists a little, then she yields and gazes, with frank
blessedness, into the joyous face of LOTH which bends above her.
Involuntarily, in the awkwardness of her very timidity, she kisses
his mouth. Both grow red; then LOTH returns her kiss. His caress is
long and heartfelt. A giving and taking of kisses--silent and
eloquent at once--is, for a time, all that passes between them. LOTH
is the first to speak._

LOTH

Nellie, dearest! Nellie is your name, isn't it?

HELEN

[_Kisses him._] Call me something else ... call me what you like best ...

LOTH

Dearest!...

_The exchange of kisses and of mutual contemplation is repeated._

HELEN

[_Held tight in LOTH'S arms, resting her head on his shoulder, looking up
at him with dim, happy eyes, whispers ecstatically._] Oh, how beautiful!
How beautiful!

LOTH

To die with you--thus ...

HELEN

[_Passionately._] To live!... [_She disengages herself from his
embrace._] Why die now?... now ...

LOTH

Yon must not misunderstand me. Always, in happy moments, it has come over
me with a sense of intoxication--the consciousness of the fact that it is
in our power, in my power, to embrace--you understand?

HELEN

To embrace death, if you desired it?

LOTH

[_Quite devoid of sentimentality._] Yes! And the thought of death has
nothing horrible in it for me. On the contrary, it seems like the thought
of a friend. One calls and knows surely that death will come. And so one
can rise above so many, many things--above one's past, above one's future
fate ... [_Looking at HELEN'S hand._] What a lovely hand you have.

[_He caresses it._

HELEN

Ah, yes!--so!...

[_She nestles anew in his arms._

LOTH

No, do you know, I haven't really lived--until now!

HELEN

Do you think I have?... And I feel faint--faint with happiness. Dear God,
how suddenly it all came ...

LOTH

Yes, it came all at once ...

HELEN

Listen, I feel this way: all the days of my life are like one day; but
yesterday and to-day are like a year--a whole year!

LOTH

Didn't I come till yesterday?

HELEN

Of course not! Naturally! That's just it!... Oh, and you don't even know
it!

LOTH

And surely it seems to me ...

HELEN

Doesn't it? Like a whole, long year! Doesn't it? [_Half jumping up._]
Wait...! Don't you hear ... [_They move away from each other._] Oh, but
I don't care one bit! I am so full of courage now.

[_She remains seated and invites LOTH with her eyes to move nearer,
which he does._

HELEN

[_In LOTH'S arms._] Dear, what are we going to do first?

LOTH

Your step-mother, I suppose, would send me packing.

HELEN

Oh, my step-mother ... that won't matter ... it doesn't even concern her!
I do as I please! I have my mother's fortune, you must know.

LOTH

Did you think on that account ...

HELEN

I am of age; father will have to give me my share.

LOTH

You are not, then, on good terms with everyone here?--Where has your
father gone to?

HELEN

Gone? You have?... Oh, you haven't seen my father yet?

LOTH

No; Hoffmann told me....

HELEN

Surely, you saw him once.

LOTH

Not that I know of. Where, dearest?

HELEN

I.... [_She bursts into tears._] No, I can't. I can't tell you ... it's
too, too fearful!

LOTH

So fearful? But, Helen, is anything wrong with your father?

HELEN

Oh, don't ask me! Not now, at least! Some time...!

LOTH

I will not urge you to tell me anything, dear, that you don't voluntarily
speak of. And, look, as far as the money is concerned ... if the worst
came ... though I don't exactly earn superfluous cash with my
articles--still, in the end, we could both manage to exist on it.

HELEN

And I wouldn't be idle either, would I? But the other way is better. My
inheritance Is more than enough.--And there's your life work ... no,
you're not to give that up under any circumstances ... now less than ever
...! Now you're to have your real chance to pursue it!

LOTH

[_Kissing her tenderly._] Dearest, best ...

HELEN

Oh, do you truly care...? Truly? Truly?

LOTH

Truly.

HELEN

You must say truly a hundred times.

LOTH

Truly and truly and truthfully.

HELEN

Oh, now, you're not playing fair!

LOTH

I am, though. That truthfully is equal to a hundred trulys.

HELEN

Oh? Is that the custom in Berlin?

LOTH

No, but it is here in Witzdorf.

HELEN

Oh! But now, look at my little finger and don't laugh.

LOTH

Gladly.

HELEN

Did you ever love any one before your first betrothed? Oh, now you _are_
laughing!

LOTH

I will tell you in all seriousness, dearest; indeed, I think it is my
duty.... In the course of my life a considerable number of women....

HELEN

[_With a quick and violent start, pressing her hand over his mouth._] For
the love of.... Tell me that some day, later, when we are old, when the
years have passed, when I shall say to you: "now!" Do you hear! Not
before!

LOTH

Just as you will.

HELEN

Rather tell me something sweet now!... Listen: repeat after me:

LOTH

What?

HELEN

I have loved--

LOTH

I have loved--

HELEN

Always you only--

LOTH

Always you only--

HELEN

All the days of my life--

LOTH

All the days of my life--

HELEN

And will love you only as long as I live--

LOTH

And will love you only as long as I live--and that is true so surely as I
am an honest man.

HELEN

[_Joyfully._] I didn't add that!

LOTH

But I did.

[_They kiss each other._

HELEN

[_Hums very softly._] "Thou in my heart art lying ..."

LOTH

But now you must confess too.

HELEN

Anything you like.

LOTH

Confess now! Am I the first?

HELEN

No.

LOTH

Who?

HELEN

[_Laughing out in the fullness of her joy._] Willy Kahl!

LOTH

[_Laughing._] Who else?

HELEN

Oh, no, there's no one else really. You must believe me ... Truly there
wasn't. Why should I tell you a falsehood?

LOTH

So there _was_ someone else?

HELEN

[_Passionately._] Oh, please, please, please, don't ask me now.

[_She hides her face in her hands and weeps apparently without any
reason._

LOTH

But ... but Nellie! I'm not insistent; I don't want to ...

HELEN

Later ... I'll tell you later ... not now!

LOTH

As I said before, dearest.

HELEN

There was some one--I want you to know--whom I ... because ... because
among wicked people he seemed the least wicked. Oh, it is so different
now. [_Weeping against LOTH'S neck: stormily._] Ah, if I only didn't have
to leave you at all any more! Oh, if I could only go away with you right
here on the spot!

LOTH

I suppose you have a very unhappy time in the house here?

HELEN

Oh, dear!--It's just frightful--the things that happen here. It's a life
like--that ... like that of the beasts of the field--Oh, I would have
died without you. I shudder to think of it!

LOTH

I believe it would calm you, dearest, if you would tell me everything
quite openly.

HELEN

Yes, to be sure. But I don't think I can bear to. Not now, at least, not
yet. And I'm really afraid to.

LOTH

You were at boarding-school, weren't you?

HELEN

My mother decided that I be sent--on her death-bed.

LOTH

Was your sister there with you?

HELEN

No, she was always at home ... And so when, four years ago, I came back
from school, I found a father--who ... a step-mother--who ... a sister
... guess, can't you guess what I mean!

LOTH

I suppose your step-mother is quarrelsome? Perhaps jealous? unloving?

HELEN

My father...?

LOTH

Well, in all probability he dances to her music. Perhaps she tyrannises
over him?

HELEN

Oh, if it were nothing else?... No! It is too frightful!--You can't
possibly guess that _that_ ... my father ... that it was _my_ father whom
you ...

LOTH

Don't weep, Nellie!... Look, you almost make me feel as though I ought to
insist that you tell ...

HELEN

No, no, it isn't possible. I haven't the strength!--not yet!

LOTH

But you're wearing yourself out this way!

HELEN

But I'm so ashamed, so boundlessly ashamed! Why, you will drive me from
you in horror...! It's beyond anything...! It's loathsome!

LOTH

Nellie, dear, you don't know me if you can think such things of me!
Repulse you! Drive you from me! Do I seem such a brute to you?

HELEN

My brother-in-law said that you would quite calmly ... But no, no, you
wouldn't? Would you?--You wouldn't just ruthlessly walk over me? Oh! you
won't! You mustn't! I don't know what _would_ become of me!

LOTH

But, dear, it's senseless to talk so. There's no earthly reason!

HELEN

But if there were a reason, it might happen!

LOTH

No! Not at all!

HELEN

But if you could think of a reason?

LOTH

There are reasons, to be sure; but they're not in question.

HELEN

And what kind of reasons?

LOTH

I would have to be ruthless only toward some one who would make me betray
my own most ideal self.

HELEN

And surely, I wouldn't want to do that! And yet I can't rid myself of the
feeling--

LOTH

What feeling, dearest?

HELEN

Perhaps it's just because I'm nothing but a silly girl. There's so little
to me--Why, I don't even know what it is--to have principles! Isn't that
frightful? But I just simply love you so! And you're so good, and so
great, and so very wise! I'm so afraid that you might, sometime,
discover--when I say something foolish, or do something--that it's all a
mistake, that I'm much too silly for you ... I'm really as worthless and
as silly as I can be!

LOTH

What shall I say to all that? You're everything to me, just everything in
the whole world. I can't say more!

HELEN

And I'm very strong and healthy, too ...

LOTH

Tell me, are your parents in good health?

HELEN

Indeed they are. That is, mother died in childbirth. But father is still
well; in fact he must have a very strong constitution. But ...

LOTH

Well, you see. Everything is ...

HELEN

But if my parents were not strong--;

LOTH

[_Kissing HELEN._] But then, they are, dear.

HELEN

But suppose they were not--?

_MRS. KRAUSE pushes open a window in the house and calls out into the
yard._

MRS. KRAUSE

Hey! Girls! Gi--rls!

LIESE

[_From within the cow-shed._] Yes, Missis?

MRS. KRAUSE

Run to Mueller's! It's startin'!

LIESE

What! To the midwife, ye mean?

MRS. KRAUSE

Are ye standin' on your ear?

[_She slams the window._

_LIESE runs out of the cow-shed with a little shawl over her head and
then out of the yard._

MRS. SPILLER

[_Calls._] Miss Helen! Oh, Miss Helen!

HELEN

What do you suppose is--?

MRS. SPILLER

[_Approaching the arbour._] Miss Helen!

HELEN

Oh, I know. It's my sister who--You must go, 'round that way!

[_LOTH withdraws rapidly by the right foreground. HELEN steps out
from the arbour._

MRS. SPILLER

Oh, Miss, there you are at last!

HELEN

What is it?

MRS. SPILLER

Ah--m--your sister.

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