Part 6 out of 12
If the cap fits, wear it.
Your affairs seem to be in a thriving condition, young man, if I may be
allowed to say so.
I can't complain. I'm a traveller in made-up goods. I go shares with the
manufacturers. The nearer starvation the weaver is, the better I fare.
His want butters my bread.
Well done, Moritz! You gave it him that time. Here's to you!
[_WELZEL has brought the corn-brandy. On his way back to the counter
he stops, turns round slowly, and stands, an embodiment of phlegmatic
strength, facing the weavers._
[_Calmly but emphatically._] You let the gentleman alone. He's done you
And we're doing him no harm.
[_MRS. WELZEL has exchanged a few words with the TRAVELLER. She takes
the cup with the remains of his coffee and carries it into the
parlour. The TRAVELLER follows her amidst the laughter of the
[_Singing._] "The Dreissigers the hangmen are, Servants no whit behind
Hush-sh! Sing that song anywhere else you like, but not in my house.
FIRST OLD WEAVER
He's quite right. Stop that singin', lads.
[_Roars._] But we must march past Dreissiger's, boys, and let him hear it
You'd better take care--you may march once too often!
[_Laughter and cries of_ Ho, ho!
_WITTIG has entered; a grey-haired old smith, bareheaded, with
leather apron and wooden shoes, sooty from the smithy. He is standing
at the counter waiting for his schnapps._
Let 'em go on with their doin's. The dogs as barks most, bites least.
Here he is. What do you want with him?
"It's Wittig!"--"Wittig, Wittig!"--"Come here, Wittig."--"Sit beside us,
Do you think I would sit beside a set of rascals like you?
Come and take a glass with us.
Keep your brandy to yourselves. I pay for my own drink. [_Takes his glass
and sits down beside BAUMERT and ANSORGE. Clapping the latter on the
stomach._] What's the weavers' food so nice? Sauerkraut and roasted lice!
[_Drunk with excitement._] But what would you say now if they'd made up
their minds as how they would put up with it no longer.
[_With pretended astonishment, staring open-mouthed at the old weaver._]
Heinerle! you don't mean to tell me that that's you? [_Laughs
immoderately._] O Lord, O Lord! I could laugh myself to death. Old
Baumert risin' in rebellion! We'll have the tailors at it next, and then
there'll be a rebellion among the baa-lambs, and the rats and the mice.
Damn it all, but we'll see some sport.
[_He nearly splits with laughter._
You needn't go on like that, Wittig. I'm the same man I've always been. I
still say 'twould be better if things could be put right peaceably.
Rot! How could it be done peaceably? Did they do it peaceably in France?
Did Robespeer tickle the rich men's palms? No! It was: Away with them,
every one! To the gilyoteen with 'em! Allongs onfong! You've got your
work before you. The geese'll not fly ready roasted into your mouths.
If I could make even half a livin' ...
FIRST OLD WEAVER
The water's up to our chins now, Wittig.
SECOND OLD WEAVER
We're afraid to go home. It's all the same whether we works or whether we
lies abed; it's starvation both ways.
FIRST OLD WEAVER
A man's like to go mad at home.
I've come to that pass now that I don't care how things goes.
[_With increasing excitement._] "We've no peace anywhere."--"We've no
spirit left to work."--"Up with us in Steenkunzendorf you can see a
weaver sittin' by the stream washin' hisself the whole day long, naked as
God made him. It's driven him clean out of his mind."
THIRD OLD WEAVER
[_Moved by the spirit, stands up and begins to "speak with tongues,"
stretching out his hand threateningly._] Judgement is at hand! Have no
dealings with the rich and the great! Judgement is at hand! The Lord God
of Sabaoth ...
[_Some of the weavers laugh. He is pulled down on to his seat._
That's a chap that can't stand a single glass--he gets wild at once.
THIRD OLD WEAVER
[_Jumps up again._] But they--they believe not in God, not in hell, not
in heaven. They mock at religion....
FIRST OLD WEAVER
Come, come now, that's enough!
You let him do his little bit o' preaching. There's many a one would be
the better for takin' it to heart.
[_In excited confusion._] "Let him alone!" "Let him speak!"
THIRD OLD WEAVER
[_Raising his voice._] But hell is opened, saith the Lord; its jaws are
gaping wide, to swallow up all those that oppress the afflicted and
pervert judgement in the cause of the poor. [_Wild excitement._]
THIRD OLD WEAVER
[_Suddenly declaiming schoolboy fashion._]
When one has thought upon it well,
It's still more difficult to tell
Why they the linen-weaver's work despise.
But we're fustian-weavers, man.
The linen-weavers is ever so much worse off than you. They're wanderin'
about among the hills like ghosts. You people here have still got the
pluck left in you to kick up a row.
Do you suppose the worst's over here? It won't be long till the
manufacturers drain away that little bit of strength they still has left
in their bodies.
You know what he said: It will come to the weavers workin' for a bite of
SEVERAL OLD AND YOUNG WEAVERS
Who said that?
Dreissiger said it.
A YOUNG WEAVER
The damned rascal should be hung up by the heels.
Look here, Wittig. You've always jawed such a lot about the French
Revolution, and a good deal too about your own doings. A time may be
coming, and that before long, when every one will have a chance to show
whether he's a braggart or a true man.
[_Flaring up angrily._] Say another word if you dare! Has you heard the
whistle o' bullets? Has you done outpost duty in an enemy's country?
You needn't get angry about it. We're comrades. I meant no harm.
None of your comradeship for me, you impudent young fool.
_Enter KUTSCHE, the policeman._
[_This calling goes on for some time, till at last there is complete
silence, amidst which KUTSCHE takes his place at the central pillar
A small brandy, please.
[_Again complete silence._]
I suppose you've come to see if we're all behavin' ourselves, Kutsche?
[_Paying no attention to WITTIG._] Good-morning, Mr. Wiegand.
[_Still in the corner in front of the counter._] Good morning t'you.
Thank you, much as usual.
The chief constable's sent him to see if we're spoilin' our stomach on
these big wages we're gettin'.
I say, Welzel, you will tell him how we've been feastin' on roast pork
an' sauce an' dumplings and sauerkraut, and now we're sittin' at our
The world's upside down with them to-day.
An' even if you had the champagne wine and the roast meat, you wouldn't
be satisfied. I've to get on without champagne wine as well as you.
[_Referring to KUTSCHE'S nose._] He waters his beet-root with brandy and
gin. An' it thrives on it too.
A p'liceman like that has a hard life. Now it's a starving beggar boy he
has to lock up, then it's a pretty weaver girl he has to lead astray;
then he has to get roarin' drunk an' beat his wife till she goes
screamin' to the neighbours for help; and there's the ridin' about on
horseback and the lyin' in bed till nine--nay, faith, but it's no easy
Jaw away; you'll jaw a rope round your neck in time. It's long been known
what sort of a fellow you are. The magistrates knows all about that
rebellious tongue o' yours, I know who'll drink wife and child into the
poorhouse an' himself into gaol before long, who it is that'll go on
agitatin' and agitatin' till he brings down judgment on himself and all
[_Laughs bitterly._] It's true enough--no one knows what'll be the end of
it. You may be right yet. [_Bursts out in fury._] But if it does come to
that, I know who I've got to thank for it, who it is that's blabbed to
the manufacturers an' all the gentlemen round, an' blackened my character
to that extent that they never give me a hand's turn of work to do--an'
set the peasants an' the millers against me, so that I'm often a whole
week without a horse to shoe or a wheel to put a tyre on. I know who's
done it. I once pulled the damned brute off his horse, because he was
givin' a little stupid boy the most awful flogging for stealin' a few
unripe pears. But I tell you this, Kutsche, and you know me--if you get
me put into prison, you may make your own will. If I hears as much as a
whisper of it. I'll take the first thing as comes handy, whether it's a
horseshoe or a hammer, a wheel-spoke or a pail; I'll get hold of you if
I've to drag you out of bed from beside your wife, and I'll beat in your
brains, as sure as my name's Wittig.
[_He has jumped up and is going to rush at KUTSCHE._]
OLD AND YOUNG WEAVERS
[_Holding him back._] Wittig, Wittig! Don't lose your head!
[_Has risen involuntarily, his face pale. He backs towards the door while
speaking. The nearer the door the higher his courage rises. He speaks the
last words on the threshold, and then instantly disappears._] What are
you goin' on at me about? I didn't meddle with you. I came to say
somethin' to the weavers. My business is with them an' not with you, and
I've done nothing to you. But I've this to say to you weavers: The
superintendent of police herewith forbids the singing of that
song--Dreissiger's song, or whatever it is you calls it. And if the
yelling of it on the streets isn't stopped at once, he'll provide you
with plenty of time and leisure for goin' on with it in gaol. You may
sing there, on bread an' water, to your hearts' content.
[_Roars after him._] He's no right to forbid, it--not if we was to roar
till the windows shook an' they could hear us at Reichenbach--not if we
sang till the manufacturers' houses tumbled about their ears an' all the
superintendents' helmets danced on the top of their heads. It's nobody's
business but our own.
[_BECKER has in the meantime got up, made a signal for singing, and
now leads off, the others joining in._
The justice to us weavers dealt
Is bloody, cruel, and hateful;
Our life's one torture, long drawn out;
For Lynch law we'd be grateful.
[_WELZEL attempts to quiet them, but they pay no attention to him.
WIEGAND puts his hands to his ears and rushes off. During the singing
of the next stanza the weavers rise and form, into procession behind
BECKER and WITTIG, who have given pantomimic signs for a general
Stretched on the rack, day after day,
Hearts sick and bodies aching,
Our heavy sighs their witness bear
To spirit slowly breaking.
[_Most of the weavers sing the following stanza, out on the street,
only a few young fellows, who are paying, being still in the bar. At
the conclusion of the stanza no one is left in the room except WELZEL
and his wife and daughter, HORNIG, and OLD BAUMERT._
You villains all, you brood of hell,
You fiends in fashion human,
A curse will fall on all like you
Who prey on man and woman.
[_Phlegmatically collecting the glasses._] Their backs are up to-day, an'
[_To OLD BAUMERT, who is preparing to go._] What in the name of Heaven
are they up to, Baumert?
They're goin' to Dreissiger's to make him add something on to the pay.
And are you joining in these foolish goings on?
I've no choice, Welzel. The young men may an' the old men must.
[_Goes out rather shamefacedly._
It'll not surprise me if this ends badly.
To think that even old fellows like him are goin' right off their heads!
We all set our hearts on something!
END OF THE THIRD ACT
THE FOURTH ACT
_Peterswaldau.--Private room of DREISSIGER, _the fustian
manufacturer--luxuriously furnished in the chilly taste of the first
half of this century. Ceiling, doors, and stove are white, and the
wall paper, with its small, straight-lined floral pattern, is dull
and cold in tone. The furniture is mahogany, richly-carved, and
upholstered in red. On the right, between two windows with crimson
damask curtains, stands the writing-table, a high bureau with falling
flap. Directly opposite to this is the sofa, with the strong-box;
beside it; in front of the sofa a table, with chairs and easy-chairs
arranged about it. Against the back wall is a gun-rack. All three
walls are decorated with bad pictures in gilt frames. Above the sofa
is a mirror with a heavily gilt rococo frame. On the left an ordinary
door leads into the hall. An open folding door at the back shows the
drawing-room, over-furnished in the same style of comfortless
ostentation. Two ladies, MRS. DREISSIGER and MRS. KITTELHAUS, the
Pastor's wife, are seen in the drawing-room, looking at pictures.
PASTOR KITTELHAUS is there too, engaged in conversation with
WEINHOLD, the tutor, a theological graduate._
[_A kindly little elderly man, enters the front room, smoking and
chatting familiarly with the tutor, who is also smoking; he looks round
and shakes his head in surprise at finding the room empty._] You are
young, Mr. Weinhold, which explains everything. At your age we old
fellows held--well, I won't say the same opinions--but certainly opinions
of the same tendency. And there's something fine about youth--youth with
its grand ideals. But unfortunately, Mr. Weinhold, they don't last; they
are as fleeting as April sunshine. Wait till you are my age. When a man
has said his say from the pulpit for thirty years--fifty-two times every
year, not including saints' days--he has inevitably calmed down. Think of
me, Mr. Weinhold, when you come to that pass.
[_Nineteen, pale, thin, tall, with lanky fair hair; restless and nervous
in his movements._] With all due respect, Mr. Kittelhaus.... I can't
think ... people have such different natures.
My dear Mr. Weinhold, however restless-minded and unsettled, a man may
be--[_in a tone of reproof_]--and you are a case in point--however
violently and wantonly he may attack the existing order of things, he
calms down in the end. I grant you, certainly, that among our
professional brethren individuals are to be found, who, at a fairly
advanced age, still play youthful pranks. One preaches against the drink
evil and founds temperance societies, another publishes appeals which
undoubtedly read most effectively. But what good do they do? The distress
among the weavers, where it does exist, is in no way lessened--but the
peace of society is undermined. No, no; one feels inclined in such cases
to say: Cobbler, stick to your last; don't take to caring for the belly,
you who have the care of souls. Preach the pure Word of God, and leave
all else to Him who provides shelter and food for the birds, and clothes
the lilies of the field.--But I should like to know where our good host,
Mr. Dreissiger, has suddenly disappeared to.
[_MRS. DREISSIGER, followed by MRS. KITTELHAUS, now comes forward.
She is a pretty woman of thirty, of a healthy, florid type. A certain
discrepancy is noticeable between her deportment and way of
expressing herself and her rich, elegant toilette._]
That's what I want to know too, Mr. Kittelhaus. But it's what William
always does. No sooner does a thing come into his head than off he goes
and leaves me in the lurch. I've said enough about it, but it does no
It's always the way with business men, my dear Mrs. Dreissiger.
I'm almost certain that something has happened downstairs.
_DREISSIGER enters, hot and excited._
Well, Rosa, is coffee served?
[_Sulkily._] Fancy your needing to run away again!
[_Carelessly._] Ah! these are things you don't understand.
Excuse me--has anything happened to annoy you, Mr. Dreissiger?
Never a day passes without that, my dear sir. I am accustomed to it. What
about that coffee, Rosa?
[_MRS. DREISSIGER goes ill-humouredly and gives one or two violent
tugs at the broad embroidered bell-pull._
I wish you had been downstairs just now, Mr. Weinhold. You'd have gained
a little experience. Besides.... But now let us have our game of whist.
By all means, sir. Shake off the dust and burden of the day, Mr.
Dreissiger; forget it in our company.
[_Has gone to the window, pushed aside a curtain, and is looking out.
Involuntarily._] Vile rabble!! Come here. Rosa! [_She goes to the
window._] Look ... that tall red-haired fellow there!...
That's the man they call Red Becker.
Is he the man that insulted you the day before yesterday? You remember
what you told me--when John was helping you into the carriage?
[_Pouting, drawls._] I'm sure I don't know.
Come now, drop that offended air! I must know. I am thoroughly tired of
their impudence. If he's the man, I mean to have him arrested. [_The
strains of the Weavers' Song are heard._] Listen to that! Just listen!
[_Highly incensed._] Is there to be no end to this nuisance? I must
acknowledge now that it is time for the police to interfere. Permit me.
[_He goes forward to the window._] See, see, Mr. Weinhold! These are not
only young people. There are numbers of steady-going old weavers among
them, men whom I have known for years and looked upon as most deserving
and God-fearing. There they are, taking part in this unheard-of mischief,
trampling God's law under foot. Do you mean to tell me that you still
defend these people?
Certainly not, Mr. Kittelhaus. That is, sir ... _cum grano salis_. For
after all, they are hungry and they are ignorant. They are giving
expression to their dissatisfaction in the only way they understand. I
don't expect that such people....
[_Short, thin, faded, more like an old maid than a married woman._] Mr.
Weinhold, Mr. Weinhold, how can you?
Mr. Weinhold, I am sorry to be obliged to.... I didn't bring you into my
house to give me lectures on philanthropy, and I must request that you
will confine yourself to the education of my boys, and leave my other
affairs entirely to me--entirely! Do you understand?
[_Stands for a moment rigid and deathly pale, then bows, with a strained
smile. In a low voice._] Certainly, of course I understand. I have seen
this coming. It is my wish too.
[_Rudely._] As soon as possible then, please. We require the room.
Have you lost your senses, Rosa, that you're taking the part of a man who
defends a low, blackguardly libel like that song?
But, William, he didn't defend it.
Mr. Kittelhaus, did he defend it or did he not?
His youth must be his excuse, Mr. Dreissiger.
I can't understand it. The young man comes of such a good, respectable
family. His father held a public appointment for forty years, without a
breath on his reputation. His mother was overjoyed at his getting this
good situation here. And now ... he himself shows so little appreciation
[_Suddenly opens the door leading from the hall and shouts in._] Mr.
Dreissiger, Mr. Dreissiger! they've got him! Will you come, please?
They've caught one of 'em.
[_Hastily._] Has some one gone for the police?
The superintendent's on his way upstairs.
[_At the door._] Glad to see you, sir. We want you here.
[_KITTELHAUS makes signs to the ladies that it will be better for
them to retire. He, his wife, and MRS. DREISSIGER disappear into the
[_Exasperated, to the POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, who has now entered._] I
have at last had one of the ringleaders seized by my dyers. I could stand
it no longer--their insolence was beyond all bounds--quite unbearable. I
have visitors in my house, and these blackguards dare to.... They insult
my wife whenever she shows herself; my boys' lives are not safe. My
visitors run the risk of being jostled and cuffed. Is it possible that in
a well-ordered community incessant public insult offered to unoffending
people like myself and my family should pass unpunished? If so ... then
... then I must confess that I have other ideas of law and order.
[_A man of fifty, middle height, corpulent, full-blooded. He wears
cavalry uniform with a long sword and spurs._] No, no, Mr. Dreissiger ...
certainly not! I am entirely at your disposal. Make your mind easy on the
subject. Dispose of me as you will. What you have done is quite right. I
am delighted that you have had one of the ringleaders arrested. I am very
glad indeed that a day of reckoning has come. There are a few disturbers
of the peace here whom I have long had my eye on.
Yes, one or two raw lads, lazy vagabonds, that shirk every kind of work,
and lead a life of low dissipation, hanging about the public-houses until
they've sent their last half-penny down their throats. But I'm determined
to put a stop to the trade of these professional blackguards once and for
all. It's in the public interest to do so, not only my private interest.
Of course it is! Most undoubtedly, Mr. Dreissiger! No one can possibly
blame you. And everything that lies in my power....
The cat-o'-nine tails is what should be taken to the beggarly pack.
You're right, quite right. We must institute an example.
_KUTSCHE, the policeman, enters and salutes. The door is open, and
the sound of heavy steps stumbling up the stair is heard._
I have to inform you, sir, that we have arrested a man.
[_To SUPERINTENDENT._] Do you wish to see the fellow?
Certainly, most certainly. We must begin by having a look at him at close
quarters. Oblige me, Mr. Dreissiger, by not speaking to him at present.
I'll see to it that you get complete satisfaction, or my name's not
That's not enough for me, though. He goes before the magistrates. My
mind's made up.
_JAEGER is led in by five dyers, who have come straight from their
work--faces, hands, and clothes stained with dye. The prisoner, his
cap set jauntily on the side of his head, presents an appearance of
impudent gaiety; he is excited by the brandy he has just drunk._
Hounds that you are!--Call yourselves working men!--Pretend to be
comrades! Before I would do such a thing as lay hands on a mate, I'd see
my hand rot off my arm!
[_At a sign from the SUPERINTENDENT KUTSCHE orders the dyers to let
go their victim. JAEGER straightens himself up, quite free and easy.
Both doors are guarded._
[_Shouts to JAEGER._] Off with your cap, lout! [_JAEGER takes it off, but
very slowly, still with an impudent grin on his face._] What's your name?
What's yours? I'm not your swineherd.
[_Great excitement is produced among the audience by this reply._
This is too much of a good thing.
[_Changes colour, is on the point of breaking out furiously, but controls
his rage._] We'll see about this afterwards.--Once more, what's your
name? [_Receiving no answer, furiously._] If you don't answer at once,
fellow, I'll have you flogged on the spot.
[_Perfectly cheerful, not showing by so much as the twitch of an eyelid
that he has heard the SUPERINTENDENT'S angry words, calls over the heads
of those around him to a pretty servant girl, who has brought in the
coffee and is standing open-mouthed with astonishment at the unexpected
sight._] Hillo, Emmy, do you belong to this company now? The sooner you
find your way out of it, then, the better. A wind may begin to blow here,
an' blow everything away overnight.
[_The girl stares at JAEGER, and as soon as she comprehends that it
is to her he is speaking, blushes with shame, covers her eyes with
her hands, and rushes out, leaving the coffee things in confusion on
the table. Renewed excitement among those present._
[_Half beside himself, to DREISSIGER._] Never in all my long service ...
a case of such shameless effrontery.... [_JAEGER spits on the floor._
You're not in a stable, fellow! Do you understand?
My patience is at an end now. For the last time: What's your name?
_KITTELHAUS who has been peering out at the partly opened
drawing-room door, listening to what has been going on, can no longer
refrain from coming forward to interfere. He is trembling with
His name is Jaeger, sir. Moritz ... is it not? Moritz Jaeger. [_To
JAEGER._] And, Jaeger, you know me.
[_Seriously._] You are Pastor Kittelhaus.
Yes, I am your pastor, Jaeger! It was I who received you, a babe in
swaddling clothes, into the Church of Christ. From my hands you took for
the first time the body of the Lord. Do you remember that, and how I
toiled and strove to bring God's Word home to your heart? Is this your
[_Like a scolded schoolboy. In a surly voice._] I paid my half-crown like
Money, money.... Do you imagine that the miserable little bit of
money.... Such utter nonsense! I'd much rather you kept your money. Be a
good man, be a Christian! Think of what you promised. Keep God's law.
I'm a Quaker now, sir. I don't believe in nothing.
Quaker! What are you talking about? Try to behave yourself, and don't use
words you don't understand. Quaker, indeed! They are good Christian
people, and not heathens like you.
Mr. Kittelhaus, I must ask you.... [_He comes between the Pastor and
JAEGER._] Kutsche! tie his hands!
[_Wild yelling outside:_ "Jaeger. Jaeger! come out!"
[_Like the others, slightly startled, goes instinctively to the window._]
What's the meaning of this next?
Oh, I understand well enough. It means that they want to have the
blackguard out among them again. But we're not going to oblige them.
Kutsche, you have your orders. He goes to the lock-up.
[_With the rope in his hand, hesitating._] By your leave, sir, but it'll
not be an easy job. There's a confounded big crowd out there--a pack of
raging devils. They've got Becker with them, and the smith....
Allow me one more word!--So as not to rouse still worse feeling, would it
not be better if we tried to arrange things peaceably? Perhaps Jaeger
will give his word to go with us quietly, or....
Quite impossible! Think of my responsibility. I couldn't allow such a
thing. Come, Kutsche! lose no more time.
[_Putting his hands together, and holding them, out._] Tight, tight, as
tight as ever you can! It's not for long.
[_KUTSCHE, assisted by the workmen, ties his hands._
Now off with you, march! [_To DREISSIGER._] If you feel anxious, let six
of the weavers go with them. They can walk on each side of him, I'll ride
in front, and Kutsche will bring up the rear. Whoever blocks the way will
be cut down.
[_Cries from below:_ "Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo-oo! Bow, wow, wow!"
[_With a threatening gesture in the direction of the window._] You
rascals, I'll cock-a-doodle-doo and bow-wow you! Forward! March!
[_He marches out first, with drawn sword; the others, with JAEGER,
[_Shouts as he goes._] An' Mrs. Dreissiger there may play the lady as
proud as she likes, but for all that she's no better than us. Many a
hundred times she's served my father with a halfpenny-worth of schnapps.
[_ After a pause, with apparent calmness._] Well, Mr. Kittelhaus, shall
we have our game now? I think there will be no further Interruption. [_He
lights a cigar, giving short laughs as he does so; when it is lighted,
bursts into a regular fit of laughing._] I'm beginning now to think the
whole thing very funny. That fellow! [_Still laughing nervously._] It
really is too comical: first came the dispute at dinner with
Weinhold--five minutes after that he takes leave--off to the other end of
the world; then this affair crops up--and now we'll proceed with our
Yes, but ... [_Roaring is heard outside._] Yes, but ... that's a terrible
uproar they're making outside.
All we have to do is to go into the other room; it won't disturb us in
the least there.
[_Shaking his head._] I wish I knew what has come over these people. In
so far I must agree with Mr. Weinhold, or at least till quite lately I
was of his opinion, that the weavers were a patient, humble, easily-led
class. Was it not your idea of them, too, Mr. Dreissiger?
Most certainly that is what they used to be--patient, easily managed,
well-behaved and orderly people. They were that as long as these
so-called humanitarians let them alone. But for ever so long now they've
had the awful misery of their condition held up to them. Think of all the
societies and associations for the alleviation of the distress among the
weavers. At last the weaver believes in it himself, and his head's
turned. Some of them had better come and turn it back again, for now he's
fairly set a-going there's no end to his complaining. This doesn't please
him, and that doesn't please him. He must have everything of the best.
[_A loud roar of_ "Hurrah!" _is heard from, the crowd._
So that with all their humanitarianism they have only succeeded in almost
literally turning lambs over night into wolves.
I won't say that, sir. When you take time to think of the matter coolly,
it's possible that some good may come of it yet. Such occurrences as this
will not pass unnoticed by those in authority, and may lead them to see
that things can't be allowed to go on as they are doing--that means must
be taken to prevent the utter ruin of our home industries.
Possibly. But what is the cause, then, of this terrible falling off of
Our best markets have been closed to us by the heavy import duties
foreign countries have laid on our goods. At home the competition is a
struggle of life and death, for we have no protection, none whatever.
[_Staggers in, pale and breathless._] Mr. Dreissiger, Mr. Dreissiger!
[_In the act of walking into the drawing-room, turns round, annoyed._]
Well, Pfeifer, what now?
Oh, sir! Oh, sir!... It's worse than ever!
What are they up to next?
You're really alarming us--what is it?
[_Still confused._] I never saw the like. Good Lord--The superintendent
himself ... they'll catch it for this yet.
What's the matter with you, in the devil's name? Is any one's neck
[_Almost crying with fear, screams._] They've set Moritz Jaeger
free--they've thrashed the superintendent and driven him away--they've
thrashed the policeman and sent him off too--without his helmet ... his
sword broken ... Oh dear, oh dear!
I think you've gone crazy, Pfeifer.
This is actual riot.
[_Sitting on a chair, his whole body trembling._] It's turning serious,
Mr. Dreissiger! Mr. Dreissiger, it's serious now!
Well, if that's all the police ...
Mr. Dreissiger, it's serious now!
Damn it all, Pfeifer, will you hold your tongue?
[_Coming out of the drawing-room with MRS. KITTELHAUS._] This is really
too bad, William. Our whole pleasant evening's being spoiled. Here's Mrs.
Kittelhaus saying that she'd better go home.
You mustn't take it amiss, dear Mrs. Dreissiger, but perhaps, under the
circumstances, it _would_ be better ...
But, William, why in the world don't you go out and put a stop to it?
You go and see if you can do it. Try! Go and speak to them! [_Standing in
front of the pastor, abruptly._] Am I such a tyrant? Am I a cruel master?
_Enter JOHN the coachman._
If you please, m'm, I've put to the horses. Mr. Weinhold's put Georgie
and Charlie into the carriage. If it comes to the worst, we're ready to
If what comes to the worst?
I'm sure I don't know, m'm. But I'm thinkin' this way: The crowd's
gettin' bigger and bigger, an' they've sent the superintendent an' the
p'liceman to the right-about.
It's gettin' serious now, Mr. Dreissiger! It's serious!
[_With increasing alarm._] What's going to happen?--What do the people
want?--They're never going to attack us, John?
There's some rascally hounds among 'em, ma'am.
It's serious now! serious!
Hold your tongue, fool!--Are the doors barred?
I ask you as a favour, Mr. Dreissiger ... as a favour ... I am determined
to ... I ask you as a favour ... [_To JOHN._] What demands are the people
[_Awkwardly._] It's higher wages they're after, the blackguards.
Good, good!--I shall go out and do my duty. I shall speak seriously to
Oh sir, please sir, don't do any such thing. Words is quite useless.
One little favour, Mr. Dreissiger. May I ask you to post men behind the
door, and to have it closed at once after me?
O Joseph, Joseph! you're not really going out?
I am. Indeed I am. I know what I'm doing. Don't be afraid. God will
[_MRS. KITTELHAUS presses his hand, draws back, and wipes tears from
[_While the dull murmur of a great, excited crowd is heard
uninterruptedly outside._] I'll go ... I'll go out as if I were simply on
my way home. I shall see if my sacred office ... if the people have not
sufficient respect for me left to ... I shall try ... [_He takes his hat
and stick._] Forward, then, in God's name!
[_Goes out accompanied by DREISSIGER, PFEIFER and JOHN._
Oh, dear Mrs. Dreissiger! [_She bursts into tears and embraces her._] I
do trust nothing will happen to him.
[_Absently._] I don't know how it is, Mrs. Kittelhaus, but I ... I can't
tell you how I feel. I didn't think such a thing was possible. It's ...
it's as if it was a sin to be rich. If I had been told about all this
beforehand, Mrs. Kittelhaus, I don't know but what I would rather have
been left in my own humble position.
There are troubles and disappointments in every condition of life, Mrs.
True, true, I can well believe that. And suppose we have more than other
people ... goodness me! we didn't steal it. It's been honestly got, every
penny of it. It's not possible that the people can be goin' to attack us!
If trade's bad, that's not William's fault, is it?
[_A tumult of roaring is heard outside. While the two women stand
gazing at each other, pale and startled, DREISSIGER rushes in._
Quick, Rosa--put on something, and get into the carriage. I'll be after
you this moment.
[_He rushes to the strong-box, and takes out papers and various
articles of value._
We're ready to start. But come quickly, before they gets round to the
[_In a transport of fear, throwing her arms around JOHN'S neck._] John,
John, dear, good John! Save us, John. Save my boys! Oh, what is to become
Rosa, try to keep your head. Let John go.
Yes, yes, ma'am! Don't you be frightened. Our good horses'll soon leave
them all behind; an' whoever doesn't get out of the way'll be driven
[_In helpless anxiety._] But my husband ... my husband? But, Mr.
Dreissiger, my husband?
He's in safety now, Mrs. Kittelhaus. Don't alarm yourself; he's all
Something dreadful has happened to him. I know it. You needn't try to
keep it from me.
You mustn't take it to heart--they'll be sorry for it yet. I know exactly
whose fault it was. Such an unspeakable, shameful outrage will not go
unpunished. A community laying hands on its own pastor and maltreating
him--abominable! Mad dogs they are--raging brutes--and they'll be treated
as such. [_To his wife who still stands petrified._] Go, Rosa, go
quickly! [_Heavy blows at the lower door are heard._] Don't you hear?
They've gone stark mad! [_The clatter of window-panes being smashed on
the ground-floor is heard._] They've gone crazy. There's nothing for it
but to get away as fast as we can.
[_Cries of_ "Pfeifer, come out!"--"We want Pfeifer!"--"Pfeifer, come
out!" _are heard._
Pfeifer, Pfeifer, they want Pfeifer!
[_Dashes in._] Mr. Dreissiger, there are people at the back gate already,
and the house door won't hold much longer. The smith's battering at it
like a maniac with a stable pail.
[_The cry sounds louder and clearer_: "Pfeifer! Pfeifer! Pfeifer!
come out!" _MRS. DREISSIGER rushes off as if pursued. MRS. KITTELHAUS
follows. PFEIFER listens, and changes colour as he hears what the cry
is. A perfect panic of fear seizes him; he weeps, entreats, whimpers,
writhes, all at the same moment. He overwhelms DREISSIGER with
childish caresses, strokes his cheeks and arms, kisses his hands, and
at last, like a drowning man, throws his arms round him and prevents
Dear, good, kind Mr. Dreissiger, don't leave me behind. I've always
served you faithfully. I've always treated the people well. I couldn't
give 'em more wages than the fixed rate. Don't leave me here--they'll do
for me! If they finds me, they'll kill me. O God! O God! My wife, my
[_Making his way out, vainly endeavouring to free himself from PFEIFER'S
clutch._] Can't you let me go, fellow? It'll be all right; it'll be all
_For a few seconds the room is empty. Windows are shattered in the
drawing-room. A loud crash resounds through the house, followed by a
roaring_ "Hurrah!" _For an instant there is silence. Then gentle,
cautious steps are heard on the stair, then timid, hushed
ejaculations_: "To the left!"--"Up with you!"--"Hush!"--"Slow,
slow!"--"Don't shove like that!"--"It's a wedding we're goin'
to!"--"Stop that crowdin'!"--"You go first!"--"No, you go!"
_Young weavers and weaver girls appear at the door leading from the
hall, not daring to enter, but each trying to shove the other in. In
the course of a few moments their timidity is overcome, and the poor,
thin, ragged or patched figures, many of them sickly-looking,
disperse themselves through DREISSIGER'S room and the drawing-room,
first gazing timidly and curiously at everything, then beginning to
touch things. Girls sit down on the sofas, whole groups admire
themselves in the mirrors, men stand up on chairs, examine the
pictures and take them down. There is a steady influx of
miserable-looking creatures from the hall._
FIRST OLD WEAVER
[_Entering._] No, no, this is carryin' it too far. They've started
smashin' things downstairs. There's no sense nor reason in that. There'll
be a bad end to it. No man in his wits would do that. I'll keep clear of
such goings on.
_JAEGER, BECKER, WITTIG carrying a wooden pail, BAUMERT, and a number
of other old and young weavers, rush in as if in pursuit of
something, shouting hoarsely._
Where has he gone?
Where's the cruel brute?
If we can eat grass he may eat sawdust.
We'll hang him when we catch him.
FIRST YOUNG WEAVER
We'll take him by the legs and fling him out at the window, on to the
stones. He'll never get up again.
SECOND YOUNG WEAVER
[_Enters._] He's off!
SECOND YOUNG WEAVER
Let's get hold o' Pfeifer! Look for Pfeifer!
Yes, yes! Pfeifer! Tell him there's a weaver here for him to starve.
If we can't lay hands on that brute Dreissiger himself ... we'll make him
As poor as a church mouse ... we'll see to that!
[_All, bent on the work of destruction, rush towards the drawing-room
[_Who is leading, turns round and stops the others._] Halt! Listen to me!
This is nothing but a beginnin'. When we're done here, we'll go straight
to Bielau, to Dittrich's, where the steam power-looms is. The whole
mischief's done by them factories.
[_Enters from hall. Takes a few steps, then stops and looks round,
scarcely believing his eyes; shakes his head, taps his forehead._] Who am
I? Weaver Anton Ansorge. Has he gone mad, Old Ansorge? My head's goin'
round like a humming-top, sure enough. What's he doin' here. He'll do
whatever he's a mind to. Where is Ansorge? [_He taps his forehead
repeatedly._] Something's wrong! I'm not answerable! I'm off my head! Off
with you, off with you, rioters that you are! Heads off, legs off, hands
off! If you takes my house, I takes your house. Forward, forward!
[_Goes yelling into the drawing-room, followed by a yelling, laughing
END OF THE FOURTH ACT
_Langen-Bielau,--OLD WEAVER HILSE'S workroom. On the left a small
window, in front of which stands the loom. On the right a bed, with a
table pushed close to it. Stove, with stove-bench, in the right-hand
corner. Family worship is going on. HILSE, his old, blind, and almost
deaf wife, his son GOTTLIEB, and LUISE, GOTTLIEB'S wife, are sitting
at the table, on the bed and wooden stools. A winding-wheel and
bobbins on the floor between table and loom. Old spinning, weaving,
and winding implements are disposed of on the smoky rafters; hanks of
yarn are hanging down. There is much useless lumber in the low narrow
room. The door, which is in the back wall, and leads into the big
outer passage, or entry-room of the house, stands open. Through
another open door on the opposite side of the passage, a second, in
most respects similar weaver's room is seen. The large passage, or
entry-room of the house, is paved with stone, has damaged plaster,
and a tumble-down wooden stair-case leading to the attics; a
washing-tub on a stool is partly visible; linen of the most miserable
description and poor household utensils lie about untidily. The light
falls from the left into all three apartments._
_OLD HILSE is a bearded man of strong build, but bent and wasted with
age, toil, sickness, and hardship. He is an old soldier, and has lost
an arm. His nose is sharp, his complexion ashen-grey, and he shakes;
he is nothing but skin and bone, and has the deep-set, sore weaver's
[_Stands up, as do his son and daughter-in-law; prays._] O Lord, we know
not how to be thankful enough to Thee, for that Thou hast spared us this
night again in Thy goodness ... an' hast had pity on us ... an' hast
suffered us to take no harm. Thou art the All-merciful, an' we are poor,
sinful children of men--that bad that we are not worthy to be trampled
under Thy feet. Yet Thou art our loving Father, an' Thou will look upon
us an' accept us for the sake of Thy dear Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. "Jesus' blood and righteousness, Our covering is and glorious
dress." An' if we're sometimes too sore cast down under Thy
chastening--when the fire of Thy purification burns too ragin' hot--oh,
lay it not to our charge; forgive us our sin. Give us patience, heavenly
Father, that after all these sufferin's we may be made partakers of Thy
eternal blessedness. Amen.
[_Who has been bending forward, trying hard to hear._] What a beautiful
prayer you do say, father!
[_LUISE goes off to the washtub, GOTTLIEB to the room on the other
side of the passage._
Where's the little lass?
She's gone to Peterswaldau, to Dreissiger's. She finished all she had to
wind last night.
[_Speaking very loud._] You'd like the wheel now, mother, eh?
Yes, father, I'm quite ready.
[_Setting it down before her._] I wish I could do the work for you.
An' what would be the good o' that, father? There would I be, sittin' not
knowin' what to do.
I'll give your fingers a wipe, then, so that they'll not grease the yarn.
[_He wipes her hands with a rag._
[_At her tub._] If there's grease on her hands, it's not from what she's
If we've no butter, we can eat dry bread--when we've no bread, we can eat
potatoes--when there's no potatoes left, we can eat bran.
[_Saucily._] An' when that's all eaten, we'll do as the Wenglers
did--we'll find out where the skinner's buried some stinking old horse,
an' we'll dig it up an' live for a week or two on rotten carrion--how
nice that'll be!
[_From the other room._] There you are, lettin' that tongue of yours run
away with you again.
You should think twice, lass, before you talk that godless way. [_He goes
to his loom, calls._] Can you give me a hand, Gottlieb?--there's a few
threads to pull through.
[_From her tub._] Gottlieb, you're wanted to help father.
[_GOTTLIEB comes in, and he and his father set themselves to the
troublesome task of "drawing and slaying," that is, pulling the
strands of the warp through the "heddles" and "reed" of the loom.
They have hardly begun to do this when HORNIG appears in the outer
[_At the door._] Good luck to your work!
HILSE AND HIS SON
Thank you, Hornig.
I say, Hornig, when do you take your sleep? You're on your rounds all
day, an' on watch all night.
Sleep's gone from me nowadays.
Glad to see you, Hornig!
An' what's the news?
It's queer news this mornin'. The weavers at Peterswaldau has taken the
law into their own hands, an' chased Dreissiger an' his whole family out
of the place.
[_Perceptibly agitated._] Hornig's at his lies again.
No, missus, not this time, not to-day.--I've some beautiful pinafores in
my cart,--No, it's God's truth I'm tellin' you. They've sent him to the
right-about. He came down to Reichenbach last night, but, Lord love you!
they daren't take him in there, for fear of the weavers--off he had to go
again, all the way to Schweidnitz.
[_Has been carefully lifting threads of the web and approaching them to
the holes, through which, from the other side, GOTTLIEB pushes a wire
hook, with which he catches them and draws them through._] It's about
time you were stoppin' now, Hornig!
It's as sure as I'm a livin' man. Every child in the place'll soon tell
you the same story.
Either your wits are a-wool-gatherin' or mine are.
Not mine. What I'm tellin' you's as true as the Bible. I wouldn't believe
it myself if I hadn't stood there an' seen it with my own eyes--as I see
you now, Gottlieb. They've wrecked his house from the cellar to the roof.
The good china came flyin' out at the garret windows, rattlin' down the
roof. God only knows how many pieces of fustian are lying soakin' in the
river! The water can't get away for them--it's running over the banks,
the colour of washin'-blue with all the indigo they've poured out at the
windows. Clouds of sky-blue dust was flyin' along. Oh, it's a terrible
destruction they've worked! And it's not only the house ... it's the
dye-works too ... an' the stores! They've broken the stair rails, they've
torn up the fine flooring--smashed the lookin'-glasses--cut an' hacked
an' torn an' smashed the sofas an' the chairs.--It's awful--it's worse
An' you would have me believe that my fellow weavers did all that?
[_He shakes his head incredulously._
[_Other tenants of the house have collected at the door and are
Who else, I'd like to know? I could put names to every one of 'em. It was
me took the sheriff through the house, an' I spoke to a whole lot of 'em,
an' they answered me back--quite friendly like. They did their business
with little noise, but my word! they did it well. The sheriff spoke to
'em, and they answered him mannerly, as they always do. But there wasn't
no stoppin' of them. They hacked on at the beautiful furniture as if they
was workin' for wages.
_You_ took the sheriff through the house?
An' what would I be frightened of? Every one knows me. I'm always turnin'
up, like a bad penny. But no one has anything agin' me. They're all glad
to see me. Yes, I went the rounds with him, as sure as my name's Hornig.
An' you may believe me or not as you like, but my heart's sore yet from
the sight--an' I could see by the sheriff's face that he felt queer
enough too. For why? Not a livin' word did we hear--they was doin' their
work and holdin' their tongues. It was a solemn an' a woeful sight to see
the poor starvin' creatures for once in a way takin' their revenge.
[_With irrepressible excitement, trembling, wiping her eyes with her
apron._] An' right they are! It's only what should be!
VOICES AMONG THE CROWD AT THE DOOR
"There's some of the same sort here."--"There's one no farther away than
across the river."--"He's got four horses in his stable an' six
carriages, an' he starves his weavers to keep 'em."
[_Still incredulous._] What was it set them off?
Who knows? who knows? One says this, another says that.
What do they say?
The story as most of 'em tells is that it began with Dreissiger sayin'
that if the weavers was hungry they might eat grass. But I don't rightly
[_Excitement at the door, as one person repeats this to the other,
with signs of indignation._
Well now, Hornig--if you was to say to me: Father Hilse, says you, you'll
die to-morrow, I would answer back: That may be--an' why not? You might
even go to the length of saying: You'll have a visit to-morrow from the
King of Prussia. But to tell me that weavers, men like me an' my son,
have done such things as that--never! I'll never in this world believe
[_A pretty girl of seven, with long, loose flaxen hair, carrying a basket
on her arm, comes running in, holding out a silver spoon to her mother._]
Mammy, mammy! look what I've got! An' you're to buy me a new frock with
What d'you come tearing in like that for, girl? [_With increased
excitement and curiosity._] An' what's that you've got hold of now?
You've been runnin' yourself out o' breath, an' there--if the bobbins
aren't in her basket yet? What's all this about?
Mielchen, where did that spoon come from?
She found it, maybe.
It's worth its seven or eight shillin's at least.
[_In distressed excitement._] Off with you, lass--out of the house this
moment--unless you want a lickin'! Take that spoon back where you got it
from. Out you go! Do you want to make thieves of us all, eh? I'll soon
drive that out o' you.
[_He looks round for something to beat her with._
[_Clinging to her mother's skirts, crying._] No, grandfather, no! don't
lick me! We--we _did_ find it. All the other bob--bobbin ... girls has
... has some too.
[_Half frightened, half excited._] I was right, you see. She found it.
Where did you find it, Mielchen?
[_Sobbing._] At--at Peterswal--dau. We--we found them in front of--in
front of Drei--Dreissiger's house.
This is worse an' worse! Get off with you this moment, unless you want me
to help you.
What's all the to-do about?
I'll tell you what, father Hilse. The best way'll be for Gottlieb to put
on his coat an' take the spoon to the police-office.
Gottlieb, put on year coat.
[_Pulling it on, eagerly._] Yes, an' I'll go right in to the office an'
say they're not to blame us for it, for how c'n a child like that
understand about it? an' I brought the spoon back at once. Stop your
crying now, Mielchen!
[_The crying child is taken into the opposite room by her mother, who
shuts her in and comes back._
I believe it's worth as much as nine shillin's.
Give us a cloth to wrap it in, Luise, so that it'll take no harm. To
think of the thing bein' worth all that money!
[_Tears come into his eyes while he is wrapping up the spoon._
If it was only ours, we could live on it for many a day.
Hurry up, now! Look sharp! As quick as ever you can. A fine state o'
matters, this! Get that devil's spoon out o' the house.
[_GOTTLIEB goes off with the spoon._
I must be off now too.
[_He goes, is seen talking to the people in the entry-room before he
leaves the house._
[_A jerky little ball of a man, with a red, knowing face, comes into the
entry-room._] Good-morning, all! These are fine goings on! Take care!
take care! [_Threatening with his finger._] You're a sly lot--that's what
you are. [_At HILSE'S door without coming in._] Morning, father Hilse.
[_To a woman in the outer room._] And how are the pains, mother? Better,
eh? Well, well. And how's all with you, father Hilse? [_Enters._] Why the
deuce! what's the matter with mother?
It's the eye veins, sir--they've dried up, so as she can't see at all
That's from the dust and weaving by candlelight. Will you tell me what it
means that all Peterswaldau's on the way here? I set off on my rounds
this morning as usual, thinking no harm; but it wasn't long till I had my
eyes opened. Strange doings these! What in the devil's name has taken
possession of them, Hilse? They're like a pack of raging wolves.
Riot--why, it's revolution! they're getting refractory--plundering and
laying waste right and left ... Mielchen! where's Mielchen? [_MIELCHEN,
her face red with crying, is pushed in by her mother._] Here, Mielchen,
put your hand into my coat pocket. [_MIELCHEN does so._] The ginger-bread
nuts are for you. Not all at once, though, you baggage! And a song first!
The fox jumped up on a ... come, now ... The fox jumped up ... on a
moonlight ... Mind, I've heard what you did. You called the sparrows on
the churchyard hedge a nasty name, and they're gone and told the pastor.
Did any one ever hear the like? Fifteen hundred of them agog--men, women,
and children. [_Distant bells are heard._] That's at Reichenbach--
alarm-bells! Fifteen hundred people! Uncomfortably like the world coming
to an end!
An' is it true that they're on their way to Bielau?
That's just what I'm telling you, I've driven through the middle of the
whole crowd. What I'd have liked to do would have been to get down and
give each of them a pill there and then. They were following on each
other's heels like misery itself, and their singing was more than enough
to turn a man's stomach. I was nearly sick, and Frederick was shaking on
the box like an old woman. We had to take a stiff glass at the first
opportunity. I wouldn't be a manufacturer, not though I could drive my
carriage and pair. [_Distant singing._] Listen to that! It's for all the
world as if they were beating at some broken old boiler. We'll have them
here in five minutes, friends. Good-bye! Don't you be foolish. The troops
will be upon them in no time. Keep your wits about you. The Peterswaldau
people have lost theirs. [_Bells ring close at hand._] Good gracious!
There are our bells ringing too! Every one's going mad.
[_He goes upstairs._
[_Comes back. In the entry-room, out of breath._] I've seen 'em, I've
seen 'em! [_To a woman._] They're here, auntie, they're here! [_At the
door._] They're here, father, they're here! They've got bean-poles, an'
ox-goads, an' axes. They're standin' outside the upper Dittrich's kickin'
up an awful row. I think he's payin' 'em money. O Lord! whatever's goin'
to happen? What a crowd! Oh, you never saw such a crowd! Dash it all--if
once they makes a rush, our manufacturers'll be hard put to it.
What have you been runnin' like that for? You'll go racin' till you bring
on your old trouble, and then we'll have you on your back again,
strugglin' for breath.
[_Almost joyously excited._] I had to run, or they would ha' caught me
an' kept me. They was all roarin' to me to join 'em. Father Baumert was
there too, and says he to me: You come an' get your sixpence with the
rest--you're a poor starvin' weaver too. An' I was to tell you, father,
from him, that you was to come an' help to pay out the manufacturers for
their grindin' of us down. [_Passionately._] Other times is comin', he
says. There's goin' to be a change of days for us weavers. An' we're all
to come an' help to bring it about. We're to have our half-pound o' meat
on Sundays, and now and again on a holiday sausage with our cabbage. Yes,
things is to be quite different, by what he tells me.
[_With repressed indignation._] An' that man calls hisself your
godfather! and he bids you take part in such works o' wickedness? Have
nothing to do with them, Gottlieb. They've let themselves be tempted by
Satan, an' it's his works they're doin'.
[_No longer able to restrain her passionate excitement, vehemently._]
Yes, Gottlieb, get into the chimney corner, an' take a spoon in your
hand, an' a dish o' skim milk on your knee, an' pat on a petticoat an'
say your prayers, and then father'll be pleased with you. And _he_ sets
up to be a man!
[_Laughter from the people in the entry-room._
[_Quivering with suppressed rage._] An' you set up to be a good wife,
'eh? You calls yourself a mother, an' let your evil tongue run away with
you like that? You think yourself fit to teach your girl, you that would
egg on your husband to crime an' wickedness?
[_Has lost all control of herself._] You an' your piety an' religion--did
they serve to keep the life in my poor children? In rags an' dirt they
lay, all the four--it didn't as much as keep 'em dry. Yes! I sets up to
be a mother, that's what I do--an' if you'd like to know it, that's why
I'd send all the manufacturers to hell--because I'm a mother!--Not one of
the four could I keep in life! It was cryin' more than breathin' with me
from the time each poor little thing came into the world till death took
pity on it. The devil a bit you cared! You sat there prayin' and singin',
and let me run about till my feet bled, tryin' to get one little drop o'
skim milk. How many hundred nights has I lain an' racked my head to think
what I could do to cheat the churchyard of my little one? What harm has a
baby like that done that it must come to such a miserable end--eh? An'
over there at Dittrich's they're bathed in wine an' washed in milk. No!
you may talk as you like, but if they begins here, ten horses won't hold
me back. An' what's more--if there's a rush on Dittrich's, you'll see me
in the forefront of it--an' pity the man as tries to prevent me--I've
stood it long enough, so now you know it.
You're a lost soul--there's no help for you.
[_Frenzied._] It's you that there's no help for! Tatter-breeched
scarecrows--that's what you are--an' not men at all. Whey-faced
gutter-scrapers that take to your heels at the sound of a child's rattle.
Fellows that says "thank you" to the man as gives you a hidin'. They've
not left that much blood in you as that you can turn red in the face. You
should have the whip taken to you, an' a little pluck flogged into your
[_She goes out quickly._
What's the matter with Liesl, father?
Nothin', mother! What should be the matter with her?
Father, is it only me that's thinkin' it, or is the bells ringin'?
It'll be a funeral, mother.
An' I've got to sit waitin' here yet. Why must I be so long a-dyin',
[_Leaves his work, holds himself up straight; solemnly._] Gottlieb!--you
heard all your wife said to us. Look here, Gottlieb! [_He bares his
breast._] Here they cut out a bullet as big as a thimble. The King knows
where I lost my arm. It wasn't the mice as ate it. [_He walks up and
down._] Before that wife of yours was ever thought of, I had spilled my
blood by the quart for King an' country. So let her call what names she
likes--an' welcome! It does me no harm--Frightened? Me frightened? What
would I be frightened of, will you tell me that? Of the few soldiers,
maybe, that'll be comin' after the rioters? Good gracious me! That would
be a lot to be frightened at! No, no, lad; I may be a bit stiff in the
back, but there's some strength left in the old bones; I've got the stuff
in me yet to make a stand against a few rubbishin' bay'nets.--An' if it
came to the worst! Willin', willin' would I be to say good-bye to this
weary world. Death'd be welcome--welcomer to me to-day than to-morrow.
For what is it we leave behind? That old bundle of aches an' pains we
call our body, the care an' the oppression we call by the name o' life.
We may be glad to get away from it,--But there's something to come after,
Gottlieb!--an' if we've done ourselves out o' that too--why, then it's
all over with us!
Who knows what's to come after? Nobody's seen it.
Gottlieb! don't you be throwin' doubts on the one comfort us poor people
have. Why has I sat here an' worked my treadle like a slave this forty
year an' more?--sat still an' looked on at him over yonder livin' in
pride an' wastefulness--why? Because I have a better hope, something as
supports me in all my troubles. [_Points out at the window._] You have
your good things in this world--I'll have mine in the next. That's been
my thought. An' I'm that certain of it--I'd let myself be torn to pieces.
Have we not His promise? There's a Day of Judgment comin'; but it's not
us as are the judges--no: Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.
[_A cry of_ "Weavers, come out!" _is heard outside the window._