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The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann by Gerhart Hauptmann

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JULIUS

Aw, you stop your jawin'.

[_Both eat._

MRS. WOLFF

Look here, Julius, we're out of wood, too.

JULIUS

An' you want me to go this minute, I suppose?

MRS. WOLFF

It'd be best if we got busy right off.

JULIUS

I don't feel my own bones no more. Anybody that wants to go c'n go. I
ain't.

MRS. WOLFF

You men folks always does a whole lot o' talkin', an' when it comes to
the point, you can't do nothin'. I'd work enough to put the crowd of you
in a hole and drag you out again too. If you ain't willin' to go to-night
by no means, why, you've got to go to-morrow anyhow. So what good is it?
How are the climbin' irons? Sharp?

JULIUS

I loaned 'em to Karl Machnow.

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a pause._] If only you wasn't such a coward!--We might get a few
loads o' wood in a hurry, an' we wouldn't have to work ourselves blue in
the face neither.--No, nor we wouldn't have to go very far for 'em.

JULIUS

Aw, let me eat a bite, will you?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Punches his head amicably._] Don't always be so rough, I'm goin' to be
good to you now for onct. You watch. [_Fetching a bottle of whiskey and
showing it to him._] Here! See? I brought that for you. Now you c'n make
a friendly face, all right.

[_She fills a glass for her husband._

JULIUS

[_Drinks._] That's fine--in this cold weather--fine.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you see? Don't I take care o' you?

JULIUS

That was pretty good, pretty good all right.

[_He fills the glass anew and drinks._

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a pause. She is splitting kindling wood and eating a bite now and
then._] Wulkow--that feller--he's a regular rascal--. He always--acts--as
if he was hard up.

JULIUS

Aw, he'd better shut up--he with his trade!

MRS. WOLFF

You heard that about the beaver coat, didn't you?

JULIUS

Naw, I didn't hear nothin'.

MRS. WOLFF

[_With assumed carelessness._] Didn't you hear the girl tell how Mrs.
Krueger has given Krueger a fur coat?

JULIUS

Well, them people has the money.

MRS. WOLFF

That's true. An' then Wulkow was sayin' ... you musta heard ... that if
he could get hold of a coat like that some day, he'd give as much as a
seventy crowns for it.

JULIUS

You just let him go and get into trouble his own self.

MRS. WOLFF

[_After a pause, refilling her husband's glass._] Come now, you c'n stand
another.

JULIUS

Well, go ahead, go ahead! What in...!

_MRS. WOLFF gets out a little note book and turns over the leaves._

JULIUS

How much is it we put aside since July?

MRS. WOLFF

About thirty crowns has been paid off.

JULIUS

An' that'll leave ... leave ...

MRS. WOLFF

That'll still leave seventy. You don't get along very fast this way.
Fifty, sixty crowns--all in a lump; if you could add that onct! Then the
lot would be paid for all right. Then maybe we could borrow a couple o'
hundred and build up a few pretty rooms. We can't take no summer boarders
like this an' it's the summer boarders what brings the money.

JULIUS

Well, go ahead! What are you ...

MRS. WOLFF

[_Resolutely._] My, but you're a slow crittur, Julius! Would _you've_
gone an' bought that lot? An' if we wanted to go an' sell it now, we
could be gettin' twice over what we paid for it! I got a different kind
of a nature! Lord, if you had one like it!

JULIUS

I'm workin' all right. What's the good o' all that?

MRS. WOLFF

You ain't goin' to get very far with all your work.

JULIUS

Well, I can't steal. I can't go an' get into trouble!

MRS. WOLFF

You're just stoopid, an' that's the way you'll always be. Nobody here
ain't been talkin' o' stealin'. But if you don't risk nothin', you don't
get nothin'. An' when onct you're rich, Julius, an' c'n go and sit in
your own carridge, there ain't nobody what's goin' to ask where you got
it! Sure, if we was to take it from poor people! But now suppose
really--suppose we went over to the Kruegers and put the two loads o'
wood on a sleigh an' took 'em into our shed--them people ain't no poorer
on that account!

JULIUS

Wood? What you startin' after again now with wood?

MRS. WOLFF

Now that shows how you don't take notice o' nothin'! They c'n work your
daughter till she drops; they c'n try an' make her drag in wood at ten
o'clock in the evenin'. That's why she run away. An' you take that kind
o' thing an' say thank you. Maybe you'd give the child a hidin' and send
her back to the people.

JULIUS

Sure!--That's what!--What d'you think ...

MRS. WOLFF

Things like that hadn't ought to go unpunished. If anybody hits me, I'll
hit him back. That's what I says.

JULIUS

Well, did they go an' hit the girl?

MRS. WOLFF

Why should she be runnin' away, Julius? But no, there ain't no use tryin'
to do anything with you. Now the wood is lyin' out there in the alley.
An' if I was to say: all right, you abuse my children, I'll take your
wood--a nice face you'd make.

JULIUS

I wouldn't do no such thing ... I don't give a--! I c'n do more'n eat,
too. I'd like to see! I wouldn't stand for nothin' like that. Beatin'!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, then, don't talk so much. Go an' get your cord. Show them people
that you got some cuteness! The whole thing will be over in an hour. Then
we c'n go to bed an' it's all right. An' you don't have to go out in the
woods to-morrow. We'll have more fuel than we need.

JULIUS

Well, if it leaks out, it'll be all the same to me.

MRS. WOLFF

There ain't no reason why it should. But don't wake the girls.

MITTELDORF

[_From without._] Mrs. Wolff! Mrs. Wolff! Are you still up?

MRS. WOLFF

Sure, Mitteldorf! Come right in!

[_She opens the door._

MITTELDORF

[_Enters. He has an overcoat over his shabby uniform. His face has a
Mephistophelian cast. His nose betrays an alcoholic colouring. His
demeanour is gentle, almost timid. His speech is slow and dragging and
unaccompanied by any change in expression._] Good evenin', Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

I guess you mean to say: Good night!

MITTELDORF

I was around here once before a while ago. First I thought I saw a light,
an' then, all of a sudden, it was dark again. Nobody didn't answer me
neither. But this time there was a light an' no mistake; an' so I came
back once more.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, what have you got for me now, Mitteldorf?

MITTELDORF

[_Has taken a seat, thinks a while and then says:_] That's what I came
here for. I got a message for you from the justice's wife.

MRS. WOLFF

She ain't wantin' me to do washin'?

MITTELDORF

[_Raises his eye-brows thoughtfully._] That she does.

MRS. WOLFF

An' when?

MITTELDORF

To-morrow.--To-morrow mornin'.

MRS. WOLFF

An' you come in tellin' me that twelve o'clock at night?

MITTELDORF

But to-morrow is the missis' wash day.

MRS. WOLFF

But a person ought to know that a few days ahead o' time.

MITTELDORF

That' a fac'. But don't go makin' a noise. I just plumb forgot all about
it again. I got so many things to think of with my poor head, that
sometimes I just naturally forgets things.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, Mitteldorf, I'll try an' arrange it. We always was good friends.
You got enough on your shoulders, I suppose, with them twelve children o'
yours at home, eh? You ain't got no call to make yourself out worse'n you
are.

MITTELDORF

If you don't come in the mornin', I'll have a pretty tough time of it!

MRS. WOLFF

I'll come. You needn't go worryin'. There, take a drink. I guess you need
it this weather. [_She gives him a glass of toddy._] I just happened to
have a bit o' hot water. You know, we gotta take a trip yet to-night--for
fat geese over to Treptow. You don't get no time in the day. That can't
be helped in this kind of a life. Poor people is got to work themselves
sick day an' night, an' rich people lies in bed snorin'.

MITTELDORF

I been given notice. Did you know that? The justice has given me notice.
I ain't keen enough after the people.

MRS. WOLFF

They wants you to be like an old watch dog, I suppose.

MITTELDORF

I'd rather not go home at all. When I gets there, it'll be nothin' but
quarrelin'. She just drives me crazy with her reproaches.

MRS. WOLFF

Put your fingers in your ears!

MITTELDORF

An' then a man goes to the tavern a bit, so that the worries don't down
him altogether; an' now he ain't to do that no more neither! He ain't to
do nothin'. An' now I just come from a bit of a time there. A feller
treated to a little keg.

MRS. WOLFF

You ain't goin' to be scared of a woman? If she scolds, scold harder; an'
if she beats you, beat her back. Come here now--you're taller'n me--get
me down them things off the shelf. An' Julius, you get the sleigh ready!
[_JULIUS exit._] How often have I got to tell you? [_MITTELDORF has taken
cords and pulley lines front the high shelf on the wall._] Get ready the
big sleigh! You c'n hand them cords right down to him.

JULIUS

[_From without._] I can't see!

MRS. WOLFF

What can't you do?

JULIUS

[_Appears in the doorway._] I can't get that sleigh out alone! Everythin'
is all mixed up in a heap here. An' there ain't nothin' to be done
without a light.

MRS. WOLFF

Now you're helpless again--like always. [_Rapidly she puts shawls about
her head and chest._] You must wait, I'll come an' lend a hand. There's
the lantern, Mitteldorf. [_MITTELDORF slowly takes a lantern and hands it
to MRS. WOLFF.] There! thank you. [_She puts the burning candle into the
lantern._] We'll put that in here an' then we c'n go. Now I'll help you
drag out the sleigh. [_She goes ahead with the lantern. MITTELDORF
follows her. In the door she turns around and hands the lantern to
MITTELDORF._] You c'n come an' hold the light for us a bit!

MITTELDORF

[_Holding the light and humming to himself:_]

"Morningre-ed, morningre-ed ..."

THE CURTAIN FALLS

THE SECOND ACT

_Court room of Justice VON WEHRHAHN. A great, bare, white-washed room
with three windows in the rear wall. The main door is in the left
wall. Along the wall to the right stands the long official table
covered with books, legal documents, etc.; behind it the chair of the
justice. Near the centre window are the clerk's chair and table. To
the right is a bookcase of white wood, so arranged that it is within
reach of the justice when he sits in his chair. The left wall is
hidden by cases containing documents. In the foreground, beginning at
the wall to the left, six chairs stand in a row. Their occupants
would be seen by the spectator from behind.--It is a bright forenoon
in Winter. The clerk GLASENAPP sits scribbling at his table. He is a
poverty-stricken, spectacled person. Justice VON WEHRHAHN, carrying a
roll of documents under his arm, enters rapidly. WEHRHAHN is about
forty years old and wears a monocle. He makes the impression of a son
of the landed nobility of Prussia. His official garb consists of a
buttoned, black walking coat, and very tall boots put on over his
trousers. He speaks in what is almost a falsetto voice and carefully
cultivates a military brevity of expression._

WEHRHAHN

[_By the way, like one crushed by the weight of affairs._] Mornin'.

GLASENAPP

Servant, sir.

WEHRHAHN

Anything happened, Glasenapp?

GLASENAPP

[_Standing and looking through some papers._] I've got to report, your
honour--there was first, oh, yes,--the innkeeper Fiebig. He begs for
permission, your honour, to have music and dancing at his inn next
Sunday.

WEHRHAHN

Isn't that ... perhaps you can tell me. Fiebig? There was some one who
recently rented his hall...?

GLASENAPP

To the liberals. Quite right, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

This same Fiebig?

GLASENAPP

Yes, my lord.

WEHRHAHN

We'll have to put a check-rein on him for a while.

_The constable MITTELDORF enters._

MITTELDORF

Servant, my lord.

WEHRHAHN

Listen here: once and for all--officially I am simply the justice.

MITTELDORF

Yes, sir. As you wish, my--your honour, I meant to say.

WEHRHAHN

I wish you would try to understand this fact: my being a baron is purely
by the way. Is not, at all events, to be considered here. [_To
GLASENAPP._] Now I'd like to hear further, please. Wasn't the author
Motes here?

GLASENAPP

Yes, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Aha! So he _was_ here! I confess that I am very curious. I hope that it
was his intention to come back?

GLASENAPP

He intended to be back here about half past eleven.

WEHRHAHN

Did he by any chance tell you anything?

GLASENAPP

He came in the matter of Dr. Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

Well, now, you may as well tell me--are you acquainted with this Dr.
Fleischer?

GLASENAPP

All I know is that he lives in the Villa Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

And how long has he been living in this place?

GLASENAPP

Well, I've been here since Michaelmas.

WEHRHAHN

To be sure, you came here at the same time with me; about four months
ago.

GLASENAPP

[_Looking toward MITTELDORF for information._] From what I hear the man
has been living here about two years.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MITTELDORF._] I don't suppose you can give us any information?

MITTELDORF

Beggin' your pardon, he came Michaelmas a year ago.

WEHRHAHN

At that time he moved here?

MITTELDORF

Exactly, your honour--from Berlin.

WEHRHAHN

Have you any more intimate information about this individual?

MITTELDORF

All I know is his brother is cashier of a theatre.

WEHRHAHN

I didn't ask for information concerning his brother! What is his
occupation?--What does he himself do? What is he?

MITTELDORF

I don't know as I can say anythin' particular. People do say that he's
sick. I suppose he suffers from diabetes.

WEHRHAHN

I'm quite indifferent as to the character of his malady. He can sweat
syrup if it amuses him. _What_ is he?

GLASENAPP

[_Shrugging his shoulders._] He calls himself a free spear in
scholarship.

WEHRHAHN

Lance! Lance! Not spear! A free lance.

GLASENAPP

The bookbinder Hugk always does work for him; he has some books bound
every week.

WEHRHAHN

I wouldn't mind seeing what an individual of that kind reads.

GLASENAPP

The postman thinks he must take in about twenty newspapers. Democratic
ones, too.

WEHRHAHN

You may summon Hugk to this court some time.

GLASENAPP

Right away?

WEHRHAHN

No, at a more convenient time. To-morrow or the next day. Let him bring a
few of the books in question with him. [_To MITTELDORF._] You seem to
take naps all day. Or perhaps the man has good cigars and knows how to
invest them!

MITTELDORF

Your honour...!

WEHRHAHN

Never mind! Never mind! I will inspect the necessary persons myself. My
honourable predecessor has permitted a state of affairs to obtain
that...! We will change all that by degrees--It is simply disgraceful for
a police official to permit himself to be deceived by any one. That is,
of course, entirely beyond your comprehension. [_To GLASENAPP._] Didn't
Motes say anything definite?

GLASENAPP

I can't say that he did--nothing definite. He was of the opinion that
your honour was informed....

WEHRHAHN

In a very general way, I am. I have had my eye on the man in question for
some time--on this Dr. Fleischer I mean. Mr. Motes simply confirmed me in
my own entirely correct judgment of his peculiar character.--What kind of
a reputation has Motes himself? [_GLASENAPP and_ MITTELDORF exchange
glances and GLASENAPP shrugs his shoulders._] Lives largely on credit,
eh?

GLASENAPP

He says he has a pension.

WEHRHAHN

Pension?

GLASENAPP

Well, you know he got shot in the eye.

WEHRHAHN

So his pension is really paid as damages.

GLASENAPP

Beggin' your honour's pardon, but if it's a question of damages the man
inflicts more than he's ever received. Nobody's ever seen him have a
penny for anything.

WEHRHAHN

[_Amused._] Is there anything else of importance?

GLASENAPP

Nothing but minor matters, your honour--somebody giving notice--

WEHRHAHN

That'll do; that'll do. Do you happen ever to have heard any reports to
the effect that this Dr. Fleischer does not guard his tongue with
particular care?

GLASENAPP

Not that I know of at this moment.

WEHRHAHN

Because that is the information that has come to me. He is said to have
made illegal remarks concerning a number of exalted personages. However,
all that will appear in good time. We can set to work now. Mitteldorf,
have you anything to report?

MITTELDORF

They tell me that a theft has been committed during the night.

WEHRHAHN

A theft? Where?

MITTELDORF

In the Villa Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

What has been stolen?

MITTELDORF

Some firewood.

WEHRHAHN

Last night, or when?

MITTELDORF

Just last night.

WEHRHAHN

From whom does your information come?

MITTELDORF

My information? It come from ... from....

WEHRHAHN

Well, from whom? Out with it!

MITTELDORF

I heard it from--I got it from Dr. Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

Aha! You're in the habit then of conversing with him?

MITTELDORF

Mr. Krueger told me about it himself too.

WEHRHAHN

The man is a nuisance with his perpetual complaints. He writes me about
three letters a week. Either he has been cheated, or some one has broken
his fence, or else some one has trespassed on his property. Nothing but
one annoyance after another.

MOTES

[_Enters. He laughs almost continually in a nervous way._] Beg to bid you
a good morning, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Ah, there you are. Very glad you came in. You can help me out with some
information at once. A theft is said to have been committed at the Villa
Krueger.

MOTES

I don't live there any longer.

WEHRHAHN

And nothing has come to your ears either?

MOTES

Oh, I heard something about it, but nothing definite. As I was just
passing by the Villa I saw them both looking for traces in the snow.

WEHRHAHN

Is that so? Dr. Fleischer is assisting him. I take it for granted then
that they're pretty thick together?

MOTES

Inseparable in every sense, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Aha! As far as Fleischer is concerned--he interests me most of all. Take
a seat, please. I confess that I didn't sleep more than half the night.
This matter simply wouldn't let me sleep. The letter that you wrote me
excited me to an extraordinary degree.--That is a matter of temperament,
to be sure. The slumbers of my predecessor would scarcely have been
disturbed.--As far as I am concerned I have made up my mind, so to speak,
to go the whole way.--It is my function here to make careful tests and to
exterminate undesirable elements.--Under the protection of my honourable
predecessor the sphere of our activity has become a receptacle for refuse
of various kinds: lives that cannot bear the light--outlawed individuals,
enemies of royalty and of the realm. These people must be made to
suffer.--As for yourself, Mr. Motes, you are an author?

MOTES

I write on subjects connected with forestry and game.

WEHRHAHN

In the appropriate technical journals, I take it. _A propos_: do you
manage to make a living that way?

MOTES

If one is well known, it can be done. I may gratefully say that I earn an
excellent competency.

WEHRHAHN

So you are a forester by profession?

MOTES

I studied at the academy, your honour, and pursued my studies in
Eberswalde. Shortly before the final examinations I met with this
misfortune....

WEHRHAHN

Ah, yes; I see you wear a bandage.

MOTES

I lost an eye while hunting. Some bird shot flew into my right eye. The
responsibility for the accident could not, unfortunately, be placed. And
so I had to give up my career.

WEHRHAHN

Then you do not receive a pension?

MOTES

No. But I have fought my way through pretty well now. My name is getting
to be known in a good many quarters.

WEHRHAHN

H-m.--Are you by any chance acquainted with my brother-in-law?

MOTES

Yes, indeed--Chief Forester von Wachsmann. I correspond a good deal with
him and furthermore we are fellow members of the society for the breeding
of pointers.

WEHRHAHN

[_Somewhat relieved._] Ah, so you are really acquainted with him? I'm
very glad indeed to hear that. That makes the whole matter easier of
adjustment and lays a foundation for mutual confidence. It serves to
remove any possible obstacle.--You wrote me in your letter, you recall,
that you had had the opportunity of observing this Dr. Fleischer. Now
tell me, please, what you know.

MOTES

[_Coughs._] When I--about a year ago--took up my residence in the Villa
Krueger, I had naturally no suspicion of the character of the people with
whom I was to dwell under one roof.

WEHRHAHN

Yon were acquainted with neither Krueger nor Fleischer?

MOTES

No; but you know how things go. Living in one house with them I couldn't
keep to myself entirely.

WEHRHAHN

And what kind of people visited the house?

MOTES

[_With a significant gesture._] Ah!

WEHRHAHN

I understand.

MOTES

Tom, Dick and Harry--democrats, of course.

WEHRHAHN

Were regular meetings held?

MOTES

Every Thursday, so far as I could learn.

WEHRHAHN

That will certainly bear watching.--And you no longer associate with
those people?

MOTES

A point was reached where intercourse with them became impossible, your
honour.

WEHRHAHN

You were repelled, eh?

MOTES

The whole business became utterly repulsive to me.

WEHRHAHN

The unlawful atmosphere that obtained there, the impudent jeering at
exalted personages--all that, I take it, you could no longer endure?

MOTES

I stayed simply because I thought it might serve some good purpose.

WEHRHAHN

But finally you gave notice after all?

MOTES

I moved out, yes, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

And finally you made up your mind to--

MOTES

I considered it my duty--

WEHRHAHN

To lodge notice with the authorities.--I consider that very worthy in
you.--So he used a certain kind of expression--we will make a record of
all that later, of course--a certain kind of expression in reference to a
personage whose exalted station demands our reverence.

MOTES

He certainly did that, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

You would be willing, if necessary, to confirm that by oath.

MOTES

I would be willing to confirm it.

WEHRHAHN

In fact, you will be obliged to make such confirmation.

MOTES

Yes, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Of course it would be best if we could procure an additional witness.

MOTES

I would have to look about. The trouble is, though, that the man is very
prodigal of his money.

WEHRHAHN

Ah, just wait a minute. Krueger is coming in now. I will first attend to
his business. At all events I am very grateful to you for your active
assistance. One is absolutely dependent on such assistance if one desires
to accomplish anything nowadays.

KRUEGER

[_Enters hastily and excitedly._] O Lord, O Lord! Good day, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MOTES._] Pardon me just a moment. [_In an arrogant and inquisitorial
tone to KRUEGER._] What is it you want?

_KRUEGER is a small man, somewhat hard of hearing and nearly seventy
years old. He is slightly bowed with age; his left shoulder hangs
somewhat. Otherwise he is still very vigorous and emphasises his
remarks by violent gesticulations. He wears a fur cap which he is now
holding in his hand, a brown winter overcoat and a thick woolen shawl
around his neck._

KRUEGER

[_Literally charged with rage, explodes:_] I've been robbed, your honour.

[_Getting his breath, he wipes the perspiration from his forehead
with a handkerchief and, after the manner of people with impaired
hearing, stares straight at the mouth of the justice._

WEHRHAHN

Robbed, eh?

KRUEGER

[_Already exasperated._] Robbed is what I said. I have been robbed. Two
whole loads of wood have been stolen from me.

WEHRHAHN

[_Looking around at those present, half-smiling, says lightly:_] Not the
least thing of that kind has happened here recently.

KRUEGER

[_Putting his hand to his ear._] What? Not the slightest thing? Then
perhaps I came into this office for fun?

WEHRHAHN

You need not become violent. What is your name, by the way?

KRUEGER

[_Taken aback._] My name?

WEHRHAHN

Yes, your name!

KRUEGER

So my name isn't known to you? I thought we had had the pleasure before.

WEHRHAHN

Sorry. Can't say that I have a clear recollection. And that wouldn't
matter officially anyhow.

KRUEGER

[_Resignedly._] My name is Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

Capitalist by any chance?

KRUEGER

[_With extreme and ironic vehemence._] Exactly--capitalist and houseowner
here.

WEHRHAHN

Identify yourself, please.

KRUEGER

I--Identify myself! My name is Krueger. I don't think we need go to any
further trouble. I've been living here for thirty years. Every child in
the place knows me.

WEHRHAHN

The length of your residence here doesn't concern me. It is my business
merely to ascertain your identity. Is this gentleman known to you--Mr.
Motes?

_MOTES half rises with an angry expression._

WEHRHAHN

Ah, yes, I understand. Kindly sit down. Well, Glasenapp?

GLASENAPP

Yes, at your service. It is Mr. Krueger all right.

WEHRHAHN

Very well.--So you have been robbed of wood?

KRUEGER

Of wood, exactly. Two loads of pine wood.

WEHRHAHN

Did you have the wood stored in your shed?

KRUEGER

[_Growing violent again._] That's quite a separate matter. That's the
substance of another complaint I have to make.

WEHRHAHN

[_With an ironic laugh and looking at the others._] Still another one?

KRUEGER

What do you mean?

WEHRHAHN

Nothing. You may go ahead with your statement. The wood, it appears, was
not in your shed?

KRUEGER

The wood was in the garden, that is, in front of the garden.

WEHRHAHN

In other words: it lay in the street.

KRUEGER

It lay in front of the garden on my property.

WEHRHAHN

So that any one could pick it up without further ado?

KRUEGER

And that is just the fault of the servant-girl. She was to take the wood
in last night.

WEHRHAHN

And it dropped out of her mind.

KRUEGER

She refused to do it. And when I insisted on her doing it, she ended by
running away. I intend to bring suit against her parents. I intend to
claim full damages.

WEHRHAHN

You may do about that as you please. It isn't likely to help you very
greatly.--Now is there any one whom you suspect of the theft?

KRUEGER

No. They're all a set of thieves around here.

WEHRHAHN

You will please to avoid such general imputations. You must surely be
able to offer me a clue of some kind.

KRUEGER

Well, you can't expect me to accuse any one at random.

WEHRHAHN

Who lives in your house beside yourself?

KRUEGER

Dr. Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

[_As if trying to recall something._] Dr. Fleischer? Dr. Fleischer? Why,
he is a--What is he, anyhow?

KRUEGER

He is a thoroughly learned man, that's what he is--thoroughly learned.

WEHRHAHN

And I suppose that you and he are very intimate with each other.

KRUEGER

That is my business, with whom I happen to be intimate. That has no
bearing on the matter in hand, it seems to me.

WEHRHAHN

How is one to discover anything under such circumstances? You must give
me a hint, at least!

KRUEGER

Must I? Goodness, gracious me! Must I? Two loads of wood have been stolen
from me! I simply come to give information concerning the theft....

WEHRHAHN

But you must have a theory of some kind. The wood must necessarily have
been stolen by somebody.

KRUEGER

Wha.... Yes ... well, I didn't do it! I of all people didn't do it!

WEHRHAHN

But my dear man....

KRUEGER

Wha...? My name is Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

[_Interrupting and apparently bored._] M-yes.--Well, Glasenapp, just make
a record of the facts.--And now, Mr. Krueger, what's this business about
your maid? The girl, you say, ran away?

KRUEGER

Yes, that's exactly what she did--ran off to her parents.

WEHRHAHN

Do her parents live in this place?

KRUEGER

[_Not having heard correctly._] I'm not concerned with her face.

WEHRHAHN

I asked whether the parents of the girl live here?

GLASENAPP

She's the daughter of the washerwoman Wolff.

WEHRHAHN

Wolff--the same one who's washing for us today, Glasenapp?

GLASENAPP

The same, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

[_Shaking his head._] Very strange indeed!--She's a very honest and a
very industrious woman.--[_To KRUEGER._] Is that a fact? Is she the
daughter of the woman in question?

KRUEGER

She is the daughter of the washerwoman Wolff.

WEHRHAHN

And has the girl come back?

KRUEGER

Up to the present time the girl has not come back.

WEHRHAHN

Then suppose we call in Mrs. Wolff herself. Mitteldorf! You act as though
you were very tired. Well, go across the yard. Mrs. Wolff is to come to
me at once. I beg you to be seated, Mr. Krueger.

KRUEGER

[_Sitting down and sighing._] O Lord! O Lord! What a life!

WEHRHAHN

[_Softly to GLASENAPP and MOTES._] I'm rather curious to see what will
develop. There's something more than meets the eye in all this. I think a
great deal of Mrs. Wolff. The woman works enough for four men. My wife
assures me that if Wolff doesn't come she has to hire two women in her
place.--Her opinions aren't half bad either.

MOTES

She wants her daughters to go on the operatic stage....

WEHRHAHN

Oh, of course, she may have a screw loose in that respect. But that's no
fault of character. What have you hanging there, Mr. Motes?

MOTES

They're some wire snares. I'm taking them to the forester Seidel.

WEHRHAHN

Do let me see one of those things. [_He takes one and looks at it
closely._] And in these things the poor beasts are slowly throttled to
death.

_MRS. WOLFF enters, followed by MITTELDORF. She is drying her hands,
which are still moist from the wash tub._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Unembarrassed, cheerfully, with a swift glance at the snares._] Here I
am. What's up now? What'm I bein' wanted for?

WEHRHAHN

Mrs. Wolff, is this gentleman known to you?

MRS. WOLFF

Which one of 'em? [_Pointing with her finger at KRUEGER._] This here,
this is Mr. Krueger. I guess I know him all right. Good mornin', Mr.
Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

Your daughter is in Mr. Krueger's service?

MRS. WOLFF

Who? My daughter? That's so--Leontine. [_To KRUEGER._] But then, she run
away from you, didn't she?

KRUEGER

[_Enraged._] She did indeed.

WEHRHAHN

[_Interrupting._] Now wait a moment.

MRS. WOLFF

What kind o' trouble did you have together?

WEHRHAHN

Mrs. Wolff, you listen to me. Your daughter must return to Mr. Krueger at
once.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, no, we'd rather keep her at home now.

WEHRHAHN

That can't be done quite so easily as you think. Mr. Krueger has the
right, if he wishes to exert it, of calling in the help, of the police.
In that case we would have to take your daughter back by force.

MRS. WOLFF

But my husband just happened to take it into his head. He's just made up
his mind not to let the girl go no more. An' when my husband takes a
notion like that into his head.... The trouble is: all you men has such
awful tempers!

WEHRHAHN

Suppose you let that go, for the moment, Mrs. Wolff. How long has your
daughter been, at home?

MRS. WOLFF

She came back last night.

WEHRHAHN

Last night? Very well. She had been told to carry wood into the shed and
she refused.

MRS. WOLFF

Eh, is that so? Refused? That girl o' mine don't refuse to do work. An' I
wouldn't advise her to do that kind o' thing neither.

WEHRHAHN

You hear what Mrs. Wolff says.

MRS. WOLFF

That girl has always been a willin' girl. If she'd ever refused to lend a
hand....

KRUEGER

She simply refused to carry in the wood!

MRS. WOLFF

Yes, drag in wood! At half past ten at night! People who asks such a
thing of a child like that--

WEHRHAHN

The essential thing, however, Mrs. Wolff, is this: the wood was left out
over night and has been stolen. And so....

KRUEGER

[_Losing self-control._] You will replace that wood, Mrs. Wolff.

WEHRHAHN

All that remains to be seen, if you will wait.

KRUEGER

You will indemnify me for that wood to the last farthing!

MRS. WOLFF

An' is that so? That'd be a new way o' doin' things! Did I, maybe, go an'
steal your wood?

WEHRHAHN

You had better let the man calm down, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

No, when Mr. Krueger comes round me with things like that, payin' for
wood and such like, he ain't goin' to have no luck. I always been
friendly with them people--that's sure. Nobody can't complain o' nothin'
'sfar 's I'm concerned. But if things gets to this point, then I'd rather
up and says my say just exactly how I feel, you know. I do my dooty and
that's enough. There ain't nobody in the whole village what c'n say
anythin' against me. But I ain't goin' to let _nobody_ walk all over me!

WEHRHAHN

You need not wear yourself out, Mrs. Wolff. You have absolutely no cause
for it. Just remain calm, quite calm. You're not entirely unknown to me,
after all. There isn't a human being who would undertake to deny your
industry and honesty. So let us hear what you have to say in answer to
the plaintiff.

KRUEGER

The woman can't possibly have anything to say!

MRS. WOLFF

Hol' on, now, everybody! How's that, I'd like to know? Ain't the girl my
daughter? An' I'm not to have anythin' to say! You gotta go an' look for
some kind of a fool! You don't know much about me. I don't has to hide
what I thinks from no one--no, not from his honour hisself, an' a good
deal less from you, you may take your oath on that!

WEHRHAHN

I quite understand your excitement, Mrs. Wolff. But if you desire to
serve the cause at issue, I would advise you to remain calm.

MRS. WOLFF

That's what a person gets. I been washin' clothes for them people these
ten years. All that time we ain't had a fallin' out. An' now, all of a
sudden, they treat you this way. I ain't comin' to your house no more,
you c'n believe me.

KRUEGER

You don't need to. There are other washerwomen.

MRS. WOLFF

An' the vegetables an' the fruit out o' your garden--you c'n just go an'
get somebody else to sell 'em for you.

KRUEGER

I can get rid of all that. There's no fear. All you needed to have done
was to have taken a stick to that girl of yours and sent her back.

MRS. WOLFF

I won't have no daughter of mine abused.

KRUEGER

Who has been abusing your daughter, I'd like to know!

MRS. WOLFF

[_To WEHRHAHN._] The girl came back to me no better'n a skeleton.

KRUEGER

Then let her not spend all her nights dancing.

MRS. WOLFF

She sleeps like the dead all day.

WEHRHAHN

[_Past MRS. WOLFF to KRUEGER._] By the way, where did you buy the wood in
question?

MRS. WOLFF

Is this thing goin' to last much longer?

WEHRHAHN

Why, Mrs. Wolff?

MRS. WOLFF

Why, on account o' the washin'. If I wastes my time standin' round here,
I can't get done.

WEHRHAHN

We can't take that into consideration here, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

An' your wife? What's she goin' to say? You c'n go an' settle it with
her, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

It will only last another minute, anyhow.--You tell us frankly, Mrs.
Wolff--you know the whole village. Whom do you consider capable of the
crime in question? Who could possibly have stolen the wood?

MRS. WOLFF

I can't tell you nothin' about that, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

And nothing suspicious came to your attention?

MRS. WOLFF

I wasn't even at home last night. I had to go over to Treptow to buy
geese.

WEHRHAHN

At what time was that?

MRS. WOLFF

A little after ten. Mitteldorf, he was there when we started.

WEHRHAHN

And no team carrying wood met you?

MRS. WOLFF

No, nothin' like that.

WEHRHAHN

How about you, Mitteldorf, did you notice nothing?

MITTELDORF

[_After some thought._] No, I didn't notice nothin' suspicious.

WEHRHAHN

Of course not, I might have known that. [_To KRUEGER._] Well, where did
you buy the wood?

KRUEGER

Why do you have to know that?

WEHRHAHN

You will kindly leave that to me.

KRUEGER

I naturally bought the wood from the department of forestry.

WEHRHAHN

Why naturally? I don't see that at all. There are, for instance, private
wood yards. Personally I buy my wood from Sandberg. Why shouldn't you buy
yours from a dealer? One really almost gets a better bargain.

KRUEGER

[_Impatiently._] I haven't any more time, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

What do you mean by that? Time? You have no time? Have you come to me, or
do I come to you? Am I taking up your time or are you taking up mine?

KRUEGER

That's your business. That's what you're here for.

WEHRHAHN

Perhaps I'm your bootblack, eh?

KRUEGER

Perhaps I've stolen silver spoons! I forbid you to use that tone to me.
You're not a corporal and I'm not a recruit.

WEHRHAHN

Well, that passes.... Don't shout so!

KRUEGER

It is you who do all the shouting.

WEHRHAHN

You are half deaf. It is necessary for me to shout.

KRUEGER

You shout all the time. You shout at every one who comes in here.

WEHRHAHN

I don't shout at any one. Be silent.

KRUEGER

You carry on as if you were heaven knows what! You annoy the whole place
with your chicanery!

WEHRHAHN

I'm only making a beginning. I'll make you a good deal more uncomfortable
before I get through.

KRUEGER

That doesn't make the slightest impression on me. You're a pretentious
nobody--nothing else. You simply want to cut a big figure. As though you
were the king himself, you....

WEHRHAHN

I _am_ king in this place.

KRUEGER

[_Laughs heartily._] You'd better let that be. In my estimation you're
nothing at all. You're nothing but an ordinary justice of the peace. In
fact, you've got to learn to be one first.

WEHRHAHN

Sir, if you don't hold your tongue this minute....

KRUEGER

Then, I suppose, you'll have me arrested. I wouldn't advise you to go to
such lengths after all. You might put yourself into a dangerous position.

WEHRHAHN

Dangerous? [_To MOTES._] Did you hear that? [_To KRUEGER._] And however
much you intrigue, you and your admirable followers, and however you try
to undermine my position--you won't force me to abandon my station.

KRUEGER

Good heavens! _I_ try to undermine your position? Your whole personality
is far too unimportant. But you may take my word for this, that if you
don't change your tactics completely, you will cause so much trouble that
you will make yourself quite impossible.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MOTES._] I suppose, Mr. Motes, that one must consider his age.

KRUEGER

I beg to have my complaint recorded.

WEHRHAHN

[_Turning over the papers on his table._] You will please to send in your
complaint in writing. I have no time at this moment.

_KRUEGER looks at him in consternation, turns around vigorously, and
leaves the office without a word._

WEHRHAHN

[_After a pause of embarrassment._] That's the way people annoy me with
trifles.--Ugh!--[_To MRS. WOLFF._] You'd better get back to your
washing.--I tell you, my dear Motes, a position like mine is made hard
enough. If one were not conscious of what one represents here--one might
sometimes be tempted to throw up the whole business. But as it is, one's
motto must be to stand one's ground bravely. For, after all, what is it
that we are defending? The most sacred goods of the nation!--

THE CURTAIN FALLS

THE THIRD ACT

_It is about eight o'clock in the morning. The scene is the dwelling
of MRS. WOLFF. Water for coffee is boiling on the oven. MRS. WOLFF is
sitting on a footstool and counting out money on the seat of a chair.
JULIUS enters, carrying a slaughtered rabbit._

JULIUS

You better go an' hide that there money!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Absorbed in her calculations, gruffly:_] Don't bother me!

[_Silence._

_JULIUS throws the rabbit on a stool. He wanders about irresolutely,
picking up one object after another. Finally he sets about blacking a
boot. From afar the blowing of a huntsman's horn is heard._

JULIUS

[_Listens. Anxious and excited._] I axed you to go an' hide that there
money!

MRS. WOLFF

An' I'm tellin' you not to bother me, Julius. Just let that fool Motes
tootle all he wants. He's out in the woods an' ain't thinkin' o' nothin'.

JULIUS

You go right ahead and land us in gaol!

MRS. WOLFF

Don't talk that fool talk. The girl's comin'.

ADELAIDE

[_Comes in, just out of bed._] Good mornin', mama.

MRS. WOLFF

Did you sleep well?

ADELAIDE

You was out in the night, wasn't you?

MRS. WOLFF

I guess you musta been dreamin'. Hurry now! Bring in some wood, an' be
quick about it!

_ADELAIDE, playing ball with an orange, goes toward the door._

MRS. WOLFF

Where did you get that?

ADELAIDE

Schoebel gave it to me out o' his shop.

[_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

I don't want you to take no presents from that feller.--Come here,
Julius! Listen to me! Here I got ninety-nine crowns! That's always the
same old way with Wulkow. He just cheated us out o' one, because he
promised to give a hundred.--I'm puttin' the money in this bag,
y'understand? Now go an' get a hoe and dig a hole in the goatshed--but
right under the manger where it's dry. An' then you c'n put the bag into
the hole. D'you hear me? An' take a flat stone an' put it across. But
don't be so long doin' it.

JULIUS

I thought you was goin' to pay an instalment to Fischer!

MRS. WOLFF

Can't you never do what I tell you to? Don't poke round so long,
y'understand?

JULIUS

Don't you go an' rile me or I'll give you somethin' to make you stop. I
don't hold with that money stayin' in this here house.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, what's goin' to be done with it?

JULIUS

You take it an' you carry it over to Fischer. You said we was goin' to
use it to make a payment to him.

MRS. WOLFF

You're stoopid enough to make a person sick. If it wasn't for me you'd
just go to the dogs.

JULIUS

Go on with your screamin'! That's right.

MRS. WOLFF

A person can't help screamin', you're such a fool. If you had some sense,
I wouldn't have to scream. If we go an' takes that money to Fischer now,
you look out an' see what happens!

JULIUS

That's what I say. Look at the whole dam' business. What's the good of it
to me if I gotta go to gaol!

MRS. WOLFF

Now it's about time you was keepin' still.

JULIUS

You can't scream no louder, can you?

MRS. WOLFF

I ain't goin' to get me a new tongue on your account. You raise a row ...
just as hard as you can, all on account o' this bit o' business. You just
look out for yourself an' not for me. Did you throw the key in the river?

JULIUS

Has I had a chanst to get down there yet?

MRS. WOLFF

Then it's about time you was gettin' there! D'you want 'em to find the
key on you? [_JULIUS is about to go._] Oh, wait a minute, Julius. Let me
have the key!

JULIUS

What you goin' to do with it?

MRS. WOLFF

[_Hiding the key about her person._] That ain't no business o' yours;
that's mine. [_She pours coffee beans into the hand-mill and begins to
grind._] Now you go out to the shed; then you c'n come back an' drink
your coffee.

JULIUS

If I'd ha' known all that before. Aw!

[_JULIUS exit. ADELAIDE enters, carrying a large apron full of
firewood._

MRS. WOLFF

Where d'you go an' get that wood?

ADELAIDE

Why, from the new blocks o' pine.

MRS. WOLFF

You wasn't to use that new wood yet.

ADELAIDE

[_Dropping the wood on the floor in front of the oven._] That don't do no
harm, mama, if it's burned up!

MRS. WOLFF

You think you know a lot! What are you foolin' about? You grow up a bit
an' then talk!

ADELAIDE

I know where it comes from!

MRS. WOLFF

What do you mean, girl?

ADELAIDE

I mean the wood.

MRS. WOLFF

Don't go jabberin' now; we bought that at a auction.

ADELAIDE

[_Playing ball with her orange._] Oh, Lord, if that was true! But you
just went and took it!

MRS. WOLFF

What's that you say?

ADELAIDE

It's just taken. That's the wood from Krueger's, mama. Leontine told me.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Cuffs her head._] There you got an answer. We ain't no thieves. Now go
an' get your lessons. An' do 'em nice! I'll come an' look 'em over later!

ADELAIDE

[_Exit. From the adjoining room._] I thought I could go skatin'.

MRS. WOLFF

An' your lessons for your confirmation? I guess you forgot them!

ADELAIDE

That don't come till Tuesday.

MRS. WOLFF

It's to-morrow! You go an' study your verses. I'll come in an' hear you
say 'em later.

ADELAIDE'S

[_Loud yawning is heard from the adjoining room. Then she says:_]

"Jesus to his disciples said,
Use your fingers to eat your bread."

_JULIUS comes back._

MRS. WOLFF

Well, Julius, did you go an' do what I told you?

JULIUS

If you don't like my way o' doin', go an' do things yourself.

MRS. WOLFF

God knows that _is_ the best way--always. [_She pours out two cupfuls of
coffee, one for him and one for herself, and places the two cups with
bread and butter on a wooden chair._] Here, drink your coffee.

JULIUS

[_Sitting down and cutting himself some bread._] I hope Wulkow's been
able to get away!

MRS. WOLFF

In this thaw!

JULIUS

Even if it is thawin', you can't tell.

MRS. WOLFF

An' you needn't care if it do freeze a bit; he ain't goin' to be stuck. I
guess he's a good way up the canal by this time.

JULIUS

Well, I hope he ain't lyin' under the bridge this minute.

MRS. WOLFF

For my part he can be lyin' where he wants to.

JULIUS

You c'n take it from me, y'understan'? That there man Wulkow is goin' to
get into a hell of a hole some day.

MRS. WOLFF

That's his business; that ain't none o' ours.

JULIUS

Trouble is we'd all be in the same hole. You just let 'em go an' find
that coat on him!

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