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The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann by Gerhart Hauptmann

Part 9 out of 12

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MRS. WOLFF

What coat are you talkin' about?

JULIUS

Krueger's, o' course!

MRS. WOLFF

Don't you go talkin' rot like that, y'understan'? An' don't go an' give
yourself a black eye on account o' other people's affairs!

JULIUS

I guess them things concerns me!

MRS. WOLFF

Concerns you--rot! That don't concern you at all. That's my business an'
not yours. You ain't no man at all; you're nothin' but an old
woman!--Here you got some change. Now hurry an' get out o' here. Go over
to Fiebig and take a drink. I don't care if you have a good time all day
Sunday. [_A knocking is heard._] Come right in! Come right in, any one
that wants to!

_DR. FLEISCHER enters, leading his little son of five by the hand.
FLEISCHER is twenty-seven years old. He wears one of the Jaeger
reform suits. His hair, beard and moustache are all coal-black. His
eyes are deep-set; his voice, as a rule, gentle. He displays, at
every moment, a touching anxiety for the child._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Jubilantly._] Lord! Is little Philip comin' to see us once more! Now,
ain't that fine? Now I really feel proud o' that! [_She gets hold of the
child and takes off his overcoat._] Come now an' take off your coat. It's
warm back here an' you ain't goin' to be cold.

FLEISCHER

Mrs. Wolff, there's a draught. I believe there's a draught.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, he ain't so weak as all that. A bit o' draught, ain't goin' to hurt
this little feller!

FLEISCHER

Oh, but it will, I assure you. You have no idea. He catches cold so
easily! Exercise, Philip! Keep moving a little.

_PHILIP jerks his shoulders back with a pettish exclamation._

FLEISCHER

Come now, Philip. You'll end by being ill. All you have to do is to walk
slowly up and down.

PHILIP

[_Naughtily._] But, I don't want to.

MRS. WOLFF

Let him do like he wants to.

FLEISCHER

Well, good morning, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

Good morning, Doctor. I'm glad to see you comin' in onct more.

FLEISCHER

Good morning, Mr. Wolff.

JULIUS

Good mornin', Mr. Fleischer.

MRS. WOLFF

You're very welcome. Please sit down.

FLEISCHER

We have just a few minutes to stay.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, if we has such a fine visit paid us so early in the mornin', we're
sure to have a lucky day this day. [_Kneeling down by the child._] Ain't
it so, my boy? You'll bring us good luck, won't you?

PHILIP

[_Excitedly._] I went to ze zological darden; I saw ze storks zere, an'
zey bit each ozzer wis zeir dolden bills.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, you don't mean to say so! You're tellin' me a little fib, ain't
you? [_Hugging and kissing the child._] Lord, child, I could just eat you
up, eat you right up. Mr. Fleischer, I'm goin' to keep this boy. This is
my boy. You're my boy, ain't you? An' how's your mother, eh?

PHILIP

She's well an' she sends her redards an' you'll please tome in ze morning
to wash.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, just listen to that. A little feller like that an' he can give
all that message already! [_To FLEISCHER._] Won't you sit down, just a
bit?

FLEISCHER

The boy bothers me about boating. Is it possible to go?

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, sure. The Spree is open. My girl there c'n row you out a way.

FLEISCHER

The boy won't stop about it! He's just taken that into his head.

ADELAIDE

[_Showing herself in the door that leads to the next room, beckons to
PHILIP._] Come, Philip, I'll show you somethin' real fine!

_PHILIP gives a stubborn screech._

FLEISCHER

Now, Philip, you musn't be naughty!

ADELAIDE

Just look at that fine orange!

_PHILIP'S face is wreathed in smiles. He takes a few steps in
ADELAIDE's direction._

FLEISCHER

Go ahead, but don't beg!

ADELAIDE

Come on! Come on! We'll eat this orange together now.

[_She walks in the child's direction, takes him by the hand, holds up
the orange temptingly, and both go, now quite at one, into the next
room._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Following the child with her eyes._] No, that boy, I could just sit an'
look at him. I don't know, when I see a boy like that ... [_She takes up
a corner of her apron and wipes her eyes._] ... I feel as if I had to
howl right out.

FLEISCHER

Did you have a boy like that once?

MRS. WOLFF

That I had. But what's the use o' all that. You can't make people come
back to life. You see--things like that--that's life....

_A pause._

FLEISCHER

One can't be careful enough with children,

MRS. WOLFF

You can go an' be as careful as you want to be. What is to be, will be.
[_A pause.--Shaking her head._] What trouble did you have with Mr. Motes?

FLEISCHER

I? None at all! What trouble should I have had with him?

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, I was just thinkin'.

FLEISCHER

How old is your daughter anyhow?

MRS. WOLFF

She'll be out o' school this Easter. Why? Would you like to have her? I
wouldn't mind her goin' into service if it's with you.

FLEISCHER

I don't see why not. That wouldn't be half bad.

MRS. WOLFF

She's grown up to be a strong kind o' body. Even if she is a bit young,
she c'n work most as well as any one, I tell you. An' I tell you another
thing. She's a scamp now an' then; she don't always do right. But she
ain't no fool. That girl's got genius.

FLEISCHER

That's quite possible, no doubt.

MRS. WOLFF

You just let her go an' recite a single piece for you--just once--a pome,
or somethin'. An' I tell you, Doctor, you ain't goin' to be able to get
through shiverin'. You c'n possibly call her in some day when you got
visitors from Berlin. All kinds o' writers comes to your house, I
believe. An' she ain't backward; she'll sail right in. Oh, she does say
pieces _that_ beautiful.--[_With a sudden change of manner._] Now I want
to give you a bit o' advice; only you musn't be offended.

FLEISCHER

I'm never offended by good advice.

MRS. WOLFF

First thing, then: Don't give away so much. Nobody ain't goin' to thank
you for it. You don't get nothin' but ingratitude.

FLEISCHER

Why, I don't give away very much, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

That's all right, I know. An' the more you talk, the more scared people
gets. First thing they says: that's a demercrat. Yon can't be too careful
talkin'.

FLEISCHER

In what way am I to take all that, Mrs. Wolff?

MRS. WOLFF

Yon c'n go an' you c'n think what you please. But you gotta be careful
when it comes to talkin', or you sit in gaol before you know it.

FLEISCHER

[_Turns pale._] Well, now, look here, but that's nonsense, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

No, no. I tell you that's serious. An' be careful o' that feller,
whatever you do!

FLEISCHER

Whom do you mean by that?

MRS. WOLFF

The same man we was talkin' about a while ago.

FLEISCHER

Motes, you mean?

MRS. WOLFF

I ain't namin' no names. You must ha' had some kind o' trouble with that
feller.

FLEISCHER

I don't even associate with him any longer.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you see, that's just what I've been think-in'.

FLEISCHER

Nobody could possibly blame me for that, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

An' I ain't blamin' you for it.

FLEISCHER

It would be a fine thing, wouldn't it--to associate with a swindler, a
notorious swindler.

MRS. WOLFF

That man is a swindler; you're right there.

FLEISCHER

Now he moved over to Dreier's. That poor woman will have a hard time
getting her rent. And whatever she has, she'll get rid of it. Why, a
fellow like that--he's a regular gaol-bird.

MRS. WOLFF

Sometimes, you know, he'll say things ...

FLEISCHER

Is that so? About me? Well, I _am_ curious.

MRS. WOLFF

I believe you was heard to say somethin' bad about some high person, or
somethin' like that.

FLEISCHER

H-m. You don't know anything definite, I dare say?

MRS. WOLFF

He's mighty thick with Wehrhahn, that's certain. But I tell you what. You
go over to old mother Dreier. That old witch is beginnin' to smell a rat.
First they was as nice as can be to her; now they're eatin' her outta
house and home!

FLEISCHER

Oh, pshaw! The whole thing is nonsense.

MRS. WOLFF

You c'n go to the Dreier woman. That don't do no harm. She c'n tell you a
story ... He wanted to get her into givin' false witness.... That shows
the kind o' man you gotta deal with.

FLEISCHER

Of course, I might go there. It can do no harm. But, in the end, the
whole matter is indifferent to me. It would be the deuce of a world, if a
fellow like that.... You just let him come!--Here, Philip, Philip! Where
are you? We've got to go.

ADELAIDE'S VOICE

Oh, we're lookin' at such pretty pictures.

FLEISCHER

What do you think of that other business, anyhow?

MRS. WOLFF

What business?

FLEISCHER

Haven't you heard anything yet?

MRS. WOLFF [_Restlessly._] Well, what was I sayin'?... [_Impatiently._]
Hurry, Julius, an' go, so's you c'n get back in time for dinner. [_To
FLEISCHER._] We killed' a rabbit for dinner to-day. Ain't you ready yet,
Julius?

JULIUS

Well, give me a chanst to find my cap.

MRS. WOLFF

I can't stand seein' anybody just foolin' round that way, as if it didn't
make no difference about to-day or to-morrow, I like to see things move
along.

FLEISCHER

Why, last night, at Krueger's, they ...

MRS. WOLFF

Do me a favour, Doctor, an' don't talk to me about that there man. I'm
that angry at him! That man hurt my feelin's too bad. The way we was--him
an' me, for so long--an' then he goes and tries to blacken my character
with all them people. [_To JULIUS._] Are you goin' or not?

JULIUS

I'm goin' all right; don't get so huffy. Good mornin' to you, Mr.
Fleischer.

FLEISCHER

Good morning, Mr. Wolff.

[_JULIUS exit._

MRS. WOLFF

Well, as I was sayin' ...

FLEISCHER

That time when his wood was stolen, I suppose he quarreled with you. But
he's repented of that long since.

MRS. WOLFF

That man and repent!

FLEISCHER

You may believe me all the same, Mrs. Wolff. And especially after this
last affair. He has a very high opinion of you indeed. The best thing
would be if you were to be reconciled.

MRS. WOLFF

We might ha' talked together like sensible people, but for him to go an'
run straight to the police--no, no!

FLEISCHER

Well, the poor little old couple is having bad luck: only a week ago
their wood, and now the fur coat....

MRS. WOLFF

Are you comin' to your great news now? Out with it!

FLEISCHER

Well, it's a clear case of burglary.

MRS. WOLFF

Some more stealin'? Don't make fun o' me!

FLEISCHER

Yes, and this time it's a perfectly new fur coat.

MRS. WOLFF

Well now, you know, pretty soon I'll move away from here. That's a crowd
round here! Why, a person ain't sare o' their lives. Tst! Tst! Such
folks! It ain't hardly to be believed!

FLEISCHER

You can form an idea of the noise they're making.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you can't hardly blame the people.

FLEISCHER

And really, it was, a very expensive garment--of mink, I believe.

MRS. WOLFF

Ain't that somethin' like beaver, Mr. Fleischer?

FLEISCHER

Perhaps it was beaver, for all I know. Anyhow, they were real proud of
it.--I admit, I laughed to myself over the business. When something like
that is discovered it always has a comic effect.

MRS. WOLFF

You're a cruel man, really, Doctor. I can't go an' laugh about things
like that.

FLEISCHER

You mustn't think that I'm not sorry for the man, for all that.

MRS. WOLFF

Them must be pretty strange people. I don't know. There ain't no way o'
understandin' that. Just to go an' rob other people o' what's theirs--no,
then it's better to work till you drop.

FLEISCHER

You might perhaps make a point of keeping your ears open. I believe the
coat is supposed to be in the village.

MRS. WOLFF

Has they got any suspicion o' anybody?

FLEISCHER

Oh, there was a washerwoman working at the Krueger's....

MRS. WOLFF

By the name o' Miller?

FLEISCHER

And she has a very large family...?

MRS. WOLFF

The woman's got a large family, that's so, but to steal that way ... no!
She might take some little thing, yes.

FLEISCHER

Of course Krueger put her out.

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, that's bound to come out. My goodness, the devil hisself'd have to be
back o' that if it don't. I wish I was justice here. But the man is that
stoopid!--well! I c'n see better'n the dark than he can by day with his
glass eye.

FLEISCHER

I almost believe you could.

MRS. WOLFF

I c'n tell you, if I had to, I could steal the chair from under that
man's behind.

FLEISCHER

[_Has arisen and calls, laughingly, into the adjoining room._] Come,
Philip, come! We've got to go! Good-bye, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

You get dressed, Adelaide. You c'n go an' row Mr. Fleischer a ways.

ADELAIDE

[_Enters, buttoning the last buttons at her throat and leading PHILIP by
the hand._] I'm all ready. [_To PHILIP._] You come right here; I'll take
you on my arm.

FLEISCHER

[_Anxiously helping the boy on with his coat._] He's got to be wrapped up
well; he's so delicate, and no doubt it's windy out on the river.

ADELAIDE

I better go ahead an' get the boat ready.

MRS. WOLFF

Is your health better these days?

FLEISCHER

Much better since I'm living out here.

ADELAIDE

[_Calls back in from the door._] Mama, Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

Who's comin'?

ADELAIDE

Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

It ain't possible!

FLEISCHER

He meant to come to you during the forenoon.

[_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Throws a swift glance at the heap of fire wood and vigorously sets
about clearing it away._] Come on, now, help me get this wood out o'
sight.

ADELAIDE

Why, mama? Oh, on account o' Mr. Krueger.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, what for d'you suppose? Is this a proper way for a place to look,
the way this one is look-in'? Is that decent an' on Sunday mornin', too?
What is Mr. Krueger goin' to think of us? [_KRUEGER appears, exhausted by
his walk. MRS. WOLFF calls out to him._] Mr. Krueger, please don't look
'round. This place is in a terrible state!

KRUEGER

[_Impetuously._] Good morning! Good morning! Don't worry about that at
all! You go to work every week and your house can't be expected to be
perfect on Sunday. You are an excellent woman, Mrs. Wolff, and a very
honest one. And I think we might do very well to forget whatever has
happened between us.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Is moved, and dries her eyes from time to time with a corner of her
apron._] I never had nothin' against you in the world. I always liked to
work for you. But you went an' got so rough like, you know, that a
person's temper couldn't hardly help gettin' away with 'em. Lord, a
person is sorry for that kind o' thing soon enough.

KRUEGER

You just come back and wash for us. Where is your daughter Leontine?

MRS. WOLFF

She went to take some cabbage to the postmaster.

KRUEGER

You just let us have that girl again. She can have thirty crowns wages
instead of twenty. We were always quite satisfied with her in other
respects. Let's forgive and forget the whole affair.

[_He holds out his hand to MRS. WOLFF, who takes it heartily._

MRS. WOLFF

All that hadn't no need to happen. The girl, you see, is still foolish
like a child. We old people always did get along together.

KRUEGER

Well, then, the matter is settled. [_Gradually regaining his
breath._]--Well, then, my mind is at rest about that, anyhow.--But now,
do tell me! This thing that's happened to me! What do you say to that?

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, well, you know--what _can_ a person say about such things?

KRUEGER

And there we got that Mr. von Wehrhahn! He's very well when it comes to
annoying honest citizens and thinking out all sorts of chicanery and
persecution, but--That man, what doesn't he stick his inquisitive nose
into!

MRS. WOLFF

Into everything exceptin' what he ought to.

KRUEGER

I'm going to him now to give formal notice. I won't rest! This thing has
got to be discovered.

MRS. WOLFF

You oughtn't by no means to let a thing o' that kind go.

KRUEGER

And if I've got to turn everything upside down--I'll get back my coat,
Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

What this place needs is a good cleanin' out. We won't get no rest in the
village till then. They'll end up by stealin' the roof from over a
person's head.

KRUEGER

I ask you to consider, for heaven's sake--two robberies in the course of
two weeks! Two loads of wood, just like the wood you have there. [_He
takes up a piece that is lying on the floor._] Such good and expensive
wood, Mrs. Wolff.

MRS. WOLFF

It's enough to make a person get blue in the face with rage. The kind o'
crowd we gotta live with here! Aw, things like that! No, you know! Just
leave me alone with it!

KRUEGER

[_Irately gesticulating with the piece of wood._] And if it costs me a
thousand crowns, I'll see to it that those thieves are hunted down. They
won't escape the penitentiary this time.

MRS. WOLFF

An' that'd be a blessin' too, as sure's we're alive!

THE CURTAIN FALLS

THE FOURTH ACT

_The court room. GLASENAPP is sitting at his table. MRS. WOLFF and
ADELAIDE are waiting for the justice. ADELAIDE holds on her lap a
small package wrapped in linen._

MRS. WOLFF

He's takin' his time again to-day.

GLASENAPP

[_Writing._] Patience! Patience!

MRS. WOLFF

Well, if he's goin' to be so late again to-day, he won't have no more
time for us.

GLASENAPP

Goodness! You an' your trifles! We got different kinds o' things to deal
with here.

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, I guess they're fine things you got to do.

GLASENAPP

That's no way to talk. That ain't proper here!

MRS. WOLFF

Aw, act a little more grand, will you? Krueger hisself sent my girl here!

GLASENAPP

The same old story about the coat, I suppose.

MRS. WOLFF

An' why not!

GLASENAPP

Now the old fellow's got somethin' for sure. Now he can go stirrin'
things up--the knock-kneed old nuisance.

MRS. WOLFF

You c'n use your tongue. You better see about findin' out somethin'.

MITTELDORF

[_Appears in the doorway._] You're to come right over, Glasenapp. His
honour wants to ax you somethin'.

GLASENAPP

Has I got to interrupt myself again?

[_He throws down his pen and goes out._

MRS. WOLFF

Good mornin', Mitteldorf.

MITTELDORF

Good mornin'.

MRS. WOLFF

What's keepin' the justice all this while?

MITTELDORF

He's writin' pages an' pages! An' them must be important things, I c'n
tell you that. [_Confidentially._] An' lemme tell you: there's somethin'
in the air.--I ain't sayin' I know exactly what. But there's somethin'--I
know that as sure 's ... You just look out, that's all, and you'll live
to see it. It's goin' to come down--somethin'--and when it do--look out.
That's all I say. No, I don't pretend to understand them things. It's all
new doin's to me. That's what they calls modern. An' I don't know nothin'
about that. But somethin's got to happen. Things can't go on this way.
The whole place is got to be cleaned out. I can't say 's I gets the hang
of it. I'm too old. But talk about the justice what died. Why, he wan't
nothin' but a dam' fool to this one. I could go an' tell you all kinds o'
things, but I ain't got no time. The baron'll be missin' me. [_He goes
but, having arrived at the door, he turns back._] The lightenin' is goin'
to strike, Mrs. Wolff. Take my word for that!

MRS. WOLFF

I guess a screw's come loose somewhere with him.

[_Pause._

ADELAIDE

What's that I gotta say? I forgot.

MRS. WOLFF

What did you say to Mr. Krueger?

ADELAIDE

Why, I said that I found this here package.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you don't need to say nothin' but that here neither. Only say it
right out strong an' sure. You ain't such a mouse other times.

WULKOW

[_Comes in._] I wish you a good morning.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Stares at WULKOW. She is speechless for a moment. Then:_] No, Wulkow, I
guess you lost _your_ mind! What are you doin' here?

WULKOW

Well, my wife, she has a baby ...

MRS. WOLFF

What's that she's got?

WULKOW

A little girl. So I gotta go to the public registry an' make the
announcement.

MRS. WOLFF

I thought you'd be out on the canal by this time.

WULKOW

An' I wouldn't mind it one little bit if I was! An' so I _would_ be, if
it depended on me. Didn't I go an' starts out the very minute? But when I
come to the locks there wasn't no gettin' farther. I waited an' waited
for the Spree to open up. Two days an' nights I lay there till this thing
with my wife came along. There wasn't no use howlin' then. I had to come
back.

MRS. WOLFF

So your boat is down by the bridge again?

WULKOW

That's where it is. I ain't got no other place, has I?

MRS. WOLFF

Well, don't come to me, if ...

WULKOW

I hope they ain't caught on to nothin', at least.

MRS. WOLFF

Go to the shop an' get three cents' worth o' thread.

ADELAIDE

I'll go for that when we get home.

MRS. WOLFF

Do's I tell you an' don't answer back.

ADELAIDE

Aw, I ain't no baby no more.

[_Exit._

MRS. WOLFF

[_Eagerly._] An' so you lay there by the locks?

WULKOW

Two whole days, as I been tellin' you.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, you ain't much good for this kind o' thing. You're a fine feller to
go an' put on that coat in bright daylight!

WULKOW

Put it on? Me?

MRS. WOLFF

Yes, you put it on, an' in bright daylight, so's the whole place c'n know
straight off what a fine fur coat you got.

WULKOW

Aw, that was 'way out in the middle o' the--

MRS. WOLFF

It was a quarter of a hour from our house. My girl saw you sittin' there.
She had to go an' row Dr. Fleischer out an' he went an' had his suspicion
that minute.

WULKOW

I don't know nothin' about that. That ain't none o' my business.

[_Some one is heard approaching._

MRS. WOLFF

Sh! You want to be on the lookout now, that's all.

GLASENAPP

[_Enters hurriedly with an attempt to imitate the manner of the justice.
He asks WULKOW condescendingly:_] What business have you?

WEHRHAHN

[_Still without._] What do you want, girl? You're looking for me? Come
in, then. [_WEHRHAHN permits ADELAIDE to precede him and then enters._] I
have very little time to-day. Ah, yes, aren't you Mrs. Wolff's little
girl? Well, then, sit down. What have you there?

ADELAIDE

I got a package ...

WEHRHAHN

Wait a moment first ... [_To WULKOW._] What do you want?

WULKOW

I'd like to report the birth of ...

WEHRHAHN

Matter of the public registry. The books, Glasenapp. That is to say, I'll
attend to the other affair first. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] What's the trouble
about your daughter? Did Mr. Krueger box her ears again?

MRS. WOLFF

Well, he didn't go that far no time.

WEHRHAHN

What's the trouble, then?

MRS. WOLFF

It's about this here package ...

WEHRHAHN

[_To GLASENAPP._] Hasn't Motes been here yet?

GLASENAPP

Not up to this time.

WEHRHAHN

That's incomprehensible. Well, girl, what do you want?

GLASENAPP

It's in the matter of the stolen fur coat, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Is that so? Can't possibly attend to that today. No one can do everything
at once. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] She may come in to-morrow.

MRS. WOLFF

She's tried to talk to you a couple o' times already.

WEHRHAHN

Then let her try for a third time to-morrow.

MRS. WOLFF

But Mr. Krueger don't give her no peace no more.

WEHRHAHN

What has Mr. Krueger to do with it?

MRS. WOLFF

The girl went to him with the package.

WEHRHAHN

What kind of a rag is that? Let me see it.

MRS. WOLFF

It's all connected with the business of the fur coat. Leastways that's
what Mr. Krueger thinks.

WEHRHAHN

What's wrapped up in those rags, eh?

MRS. WOLFF

There's a green waist-coat what belongs to Mr. Krueger.

WEHRHAHN

And you found that?

ADELAIDE

I found it, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Where did you find it?

ADELAIDE

That was when I was goin' to the train with mama. I was walkin' along
this way and there ...

WEHRHAHN

Never mind about that now. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] Make your deposition some
time soon. We can come back to this matter to-morrow.

MRS. WOLFF

Oh, _I'm_ willin' enough ...

WEHRHAHN

Well, who isn't then?

MRS. WOLFF

Mr. Krueger is so very anxious about it.

WEHRHAHN

Mr. Krueger, Mr. Krueger--I care very little about him. The man just
simply annoys me. Things like this cannot be adjusted in a day. He has
offered a reward and the matter has been published in the official paper.

MRS. WOLFF

You can't never do enough for him, though.

WEHRHAHN

What does that mean: we can't do enough for him? We have recorded the
facts in the case. His suspicions fell upon his washerwoman and we have
searched her house. What more does he want? The man ought to keep quiet.
But, as I said, to-morrow I'm at the service of this affair again.

MRS. WOLFF

It's all the same to us. We c'n come back.

WEHRHAHN

Very well, then. To-morrow morning.

MRS. WOLFF

Good mornin'.

ADELAIDE

[_Dropping a courtsey._] Good mornin'.

_MRS. WOLFF and ADELAIDE exeunt._

WEHRHAHN

[_Turning over some documents. To GLASENAPP._] I'm curious to see what
the result of all this will be. Mr. Motes has finally agreed to offer
witnesses. He says the Dreier woman, that old witch of a pastry cook,
once stood within earshot when Fleischer expressed himself
disrespectfully. How old is the woman, anyhow?

GLASENAPP

Somewhere around seventy, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

A bit confused in her upper story, eh?

GLASENAPP

Depends on how you look at it. She's fairly sensible yet.

WEHRHAHN

I can assure you, Glasenapp, that it would be no end of a satisfaction to
me to flutter these dove-cotes here pretty thoroughly. These people ought
to be made to feel that they're dealing with somebody, after all. Who
absented himself from the festivities on the emperor's birthday?
Fleischer, of course. The man is simply capable of anything. He can put
on all the innocent expressions he pleases. We know these wolves in
sheep's clothing. They're too sweet-tempered to harm a fly, but if they
think the occasion has come, the hounds can blow up a whole place. Well,
here, at least, it will be made too hot for them!

MOTES

[_Comes in._] Your servant.

WEHRHAHN

Well, how are things going?

MOTES

Mrs. Dreier said that she would be here around eleven.

WEHRHAHN

This matter will attract quite a little notice. It will, is fact, make a
good deal of noise. I know what will be said: "That man Wehrhahn pokes
his nose into everything." Well, thank heaven, I'm prepared for that. I'm
not standing in this place for my private amusement. I haven't been put
here for jest. People think--a justice, why he's nothing but a superior
kind of gaoler. In that case they can put some one else here. The
gentlemen, to be sure, who appointed me know very well with whom they are
dealing. They know to the full the seriousness with which I conceive of
my duties. I consider my office in the light of a sacred calling.
[_Pause._] I have reduced my report to the public prosecutor to writing.
If I send it off at noon to-day, the command of arrest can reach us by
day after to-morrow.

MOTES

Now everybody will be coming down on me.

WEHRHAHN

You know I have an uncle who is a chamberlain. I'll talk to him about
you. Confound it all! There comes Fleischer! What does that fellow want?
Does he smell a rat by any chance? [_A knocking is heard and WEHRHAHN
shouts:_] Come in!

FLEISCHER

[_Enters, pale and excited._] Good morning! [_He receives no answer._] I
should like to lodge information which has reference to the robbery
recently committed here.

WEHRHAHN

[_With his most penetrating official glance._] You are Dr. Joseph
Fleischer?

FLEISCHER

Quite right. My name is Joseph Fleischer.

WEHRHAHN

And you come to give me some information.

FLEISCHER

If you will permit me, that is what I should like to do. I have made an
observation which may, quite possibly, help the authorities to track down
the thief in question.

WEHRHAHN

[_Drums on the table with his fingers. He looks around at the others with
an expression of affected surprise which tempts them to laughter._] What
is this important observation which you have made?

FLEISCHER

Of course, if you have previously made up your mind to attach no
importance to my evidence, I should prefer ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Quickly and arrogantly._] What would you prefer?

FLEISCHER

To hold my peace.

WEHRHAHN

[_Turns to MOTES with a look expressive of inability to understand
FLEISCHER'S motives. Then, in a changed tone, with very superficial
interest._] My time is rather fully occupied. I would request you to be
as brief as possible.

FLEISCHER

My time is no less preŽmpted. Nevertheless I considered it my duty ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Interrupting._] You considered it your duty. Very well. Now tell us
what you know.

FLEISCHER

[_Conquering himself._] I went boating yesterday. I had taken Mrs.
Wolff's boat and her daughter was rowing.

WEHRHAHN

Are these details necessarily pertinent to the business in hand?

FLEISCHER

They certainly are--in my opinion.

WEHRHAHN

[_Drumming impatiently on the table._] Very well! Very well! Let's get
on!

FLEISCHER

We rowed to the neighbourhood of the locks. A lighter lay at anchor
there. The ice, we were able to observe, was piled up there. The lighter
had probably not been able to proceed.

WEHRHAHN

H-m. Is that so? That interests us rather less. What is the kernel of
this whole story?

FLEISCHER

[_Keeping his temper by main force._] I must confess that this method of
... I have come here quite voluntarily to offer a voluntary service to
the authorities.

GLASENAPP

[_Impudently._] His honour is pressed for time. You are to talk less and
state what you have to say briefly and compactly.

WEHRHAHN

[_Vehemently._] Let's get to business at once. What is it you want?

FLEISCHER

[_Still mastering himself._] I am concerned that the matter be cleared
up. And in the interest of old Mr. Krueger, I will ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Yawning and bored._] The light dazzles me; do pull down the shades.

FLEISCHER

On the lighter was an old boatman--probably the owner of the vessel.

WEHRHAHN

[_Yawning as before._] Yes, most probably.

FLEISCHER

This man sat on his deck in a fur coat which, at a distance, I considered
a beaver coat.

WEHRHAHN

[_Bored._] I might have taken it to be marten.

FLEISCHER

I pulled as close up to him as possible and thus gained a very good view.
The man was a poverty-stricken, slovenly boatman and the fur coat seemed
by no means appropriate. It was, in addition, a perfectly new coat ...

WEHRHAHN

[_Apparently recollecting himself._] I am listening, I am listening!
Well? What else?

FLEISCHER

What else? Nothing.

WEHRHAHN

[_Waking up thoroughly._] I thought you wanted to lodge some information.
You mentioned something important.

FLEISCHER

I have said all that I had to say.

WEHRHAHN

You have told us an anecdote about a boatman who wears a fur coat. Well,
boatmen do, no doubt, now and then wear such coats. There is nothing new
or interesting about that.

FLEISCHER

You may think about that as you please. In such circumstances I have no
more to say.

[_Exit._

WEHRHAHN

Well now, did you ever see anything like that? Moreover, the fellow is a
thorough fool. A boatman had on a fur coat! Why, has the man gone mad? I
possess a beaver coat myself. Surely that doesn't make me a
thief.--Confound it all! What's that again? I suppose I am to get no rest
to-day at all! [_To MITTELDORF, who is standing by the door._] Don't let
anyone else in now! Mr. Motes, do me the favour of going over to my
apartment. We can have our discussion there without interruptions.
There's Krueger for the hundred and first time. He acts as though he'd
been stung by a tarantula. If that old ass continues to plague me, I'll
kick him straight out of this room some day.

_In the open door KRUEGER becomes visible, together with FLEISCHER
and MRS. WOLFF._

MITTELDORF

[_To KRUEGER._] His honour can't be seen, Mr. Krueger.

KRUEGER

Nonsense! Not to be seen! I don't care for such talk at all. [_To the
others._] Go right on, right on! I'd like to see!

_All enter, KRUEGER leading the way._

WEHRHAHN

I must request that there be somewhat more quiet. As you see, I am having
a conference at present.

KRUEGER

Go right ahead with it. We can wait. Later you can then have a conference
with us.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MOTES._] Over in my apartment, then, if you please. And if you see
Mrs. Dreier, tell her I had rather question her there too. You see for
yourself: it isn't possible here.

KRUEGER

[_Pointing to FLEISCHER._] This gentleman knows something about Mrs.
Dreier too. He has some documentary evidence.

MOTES

Your honour's servant. I take my leave.

[_Exit._

KRUEGER

That's a good thing for _that_ man to take.

WEHRHAHN

You will kindly omit remarks of that nature.

KRUEGER

I'll say that again. The man is a swindler.

WEHRHAHN

[_As though he had not heard, to WULKOW._] Well, what is it? I'll get rid
of you first. The records, Glasenapp!--Wait, though! I'll relieve myself
of this business first. [_To KRUEGER._] I will first attend to your
affair.

KRUEGER

Yes, I must ask you very insistently to do so.

WEHRHAHN

Suppose we leave that "insistently" quite out of consideration. What
request have you to make?

KRUEGER

None at all. I have no request to make. I am here in order to demand what
is my right.

WEHRHAHN

Your right? Ah, what is that, exactly?

KRUEGER

My good right. I have been robbed and it is my right that the local
authorities aid me in recovering my stolen possessions.

WEHRHAHN

Have you been refused such assistance?

KRUEGER

Certainly not. And that is not possible. Nevertheless, it is quite clear
that nothing is being done. The whole affair is making no progress.

WEHRHAHN

You imagine that things like that can be done in a day or two.

KRUEGER

I don't imagine anything, your honour. I have very definite proofs. You
are taking no interest in my affairs.

WEHRHAHN

I could interrupt you at this very point. It lies entirely beyond the
duties of my office to listen to imputations of that nature. For the
present, however, you may continue.

KRUEGER

You could not interrupt me at all. As a citizen of the Prussian state I
have my rights. And even if you interrupt me here, there are other places
where I could make my complaint. I repeat that you are not showing any
interest in my affair.

WEHRHAHN

[_Apparently calm._] Suppose you prove that.

KRUEGER

[_Pointing to MRS. WOLFF and her daughter._] This woman here came to you.
Her daughter made a find. She didn't shirk the way, your honour, although
she is a poor woman. You turned her off once before and she came back
to-day ...

MRS. WOLFF

But his honour didn't have no time, you know.

WEHRHAHN

Go on, please!

KRUEGER

I will. I'm not through yet by any means. What did you say to the woman?
You said to her quite simply that you had no time for the matter in
question. You did not even question her daughter. You don't know the
slightest circumstance: you don't know anything about the entire
occurrence.

WEHRHAHN

I will have to ask you to moderate yourself a little.

KRUEGER

My expressions are moderate; they are extremely moderate. I am far too
moderate, your honour. My entire character is far too full of moderation.
If it were not, what do you think I would say? What kind of an
investigation is this? This gentleman here, Dr. Fleischer, came to you to
report an observation which he has made. A boatman wears a beaver coat
...

WEHRHAHN

[_Raising his hand._] Just wait a moment. [_To WULKOW._] You are a
boatman, aren't you?

WULKOW

I been out on the river for thirty years.

WEHRHAHN

Are you nervous? You seem to twitch.

WULKOW

I reely did have a little scare. That's a fac'.

WEHRHAHN

Do the boatmen on the Spree frequently wear fur coats?

WULKOW

A good many of 'em has fur coats. That's right enough.

WEHRHAHN

This gentleman saw a boatman who stood on his deck wearing a fur coat.

WULKOW

There ain't nothin' suspicious about that, your honour. There's many as
has fine coats. I got one myself, in fac'.

WEHRHAHN

You observe: the man himself owns a fur coat.

FLEISCHER

But then he hasn't exactly a beaver coat.

WEHRHAHN

You were not in a position to discover that.

KRUEGER

What? Has this man a beaver coat?

WULKOW

There's many of 'em, I c'n tell you, as has the finest beaver coats. An'
why not? We makes enough.

WEHRHAHN

[_Filled with a sense of triumph but pretending indifference._] Exactly.
[_Lightly._] Now, please go on, Mr. Krueger. That was only a little
side-play. I simply wanted to make clear to you the value of that
so-called "observation."--You see now that this man himself owns a fur
coat. [_More violently._] Would it therefore occur to us in our wildest
moments to assert that he has stolen the coat? That would simply be an
absurdity.

KRUEGER

Wha--? I don't understand a word.

WEHRHAHN

Then I must talk somewhat louder still. And since I am talking to you
now, there's something else I might as well say to you--not in my
capacity as justice, but simply man to man, Mr. Krueger. A man who is
after all an honourable citizen should be more chary of his
confidence--he should not adduce the evidence of people ...

KRUEGER

Are you talking about my associates? _My_ associates?

WEHRHAHN

Exactly that.

KRUEGER

In that case you had better take care of yourself. People like Motes,
with whom you associate, were kicked out of my house.

FLEISCHER

I was obliged to show the door to this person whom you receive in your
private apartment!

KRUEGER

He cheated me out of my rent.

MRS. WOLFF

There ain't many in this village that that man ain't cheated all
ways--cheated out o' pennies an' shillin's, an' crowns an' gold pieces.

KRUEGER

He has a regular system of exacting tribute.

FLEISCHER

[_Pulling a document out of his pocket._] More than that, the fellow is
ripe for the public prosecutor. [_He places the document on the table._]
I would request you to read this through.

KRUEGER

Mrs. Dreier has signed that paper herself. Motes tried to inveigle her
into committing perjury.

FLEISCHER

She was to give evidence against me.

KRUEGER

[_Putting his hand on FLEISCHER'S arm._] This gentleman is of unblemished
conduct and that scoundrel wanted to get him into trouble. And you lend
your assistance to such things!

**All speak at once.**

WEHRHAHN

My patience is exhausted now. Whatever dealings you may have with Motes
don't concern me and are entirely indifferent to me. [_To FLEISCHER._]
You'll be good enough to remove that rag!

KRUEGER

[_Alternately to MRS. WOLFF and to GLASENAPP._] That man is his honour's
friend: that is his source of information. A fine situation. We might
better call him a source of defamation!

FLEISCHER

[_To MITTELDORF._] I'm not accountable to any one. It's my own business
what I do; it's my own business with whom I associate; it's my own
business what I choose to think and write!

GLASENAPP

Why you can't hear your own words in this place no more! Your honour,
shall I go an' fetch a policeman? I can run right over and get one.
Mitteldorf!...

**End all**

WEHRHAHN

Quiet, please! [_Quiet is restored. To FLEISCHER._] You will please
remove that rag.

FLEISCHER

[_Obeys._] That rag, as you call it, will be forwarded to the public
prosecutor.

WEHRHAHN

You may do about that exactly as you please. [_He arises and takes from a
case in the wall the package brought by MRS. WOLFF._] Let us finally
dispose of this matter, then. [_To MRS. WOLFF._] Where did you find this
thing?

MRS. WOLFF

It ain't me that found it at all.

WEHRHAHN

Well, who did find it?

MRS. WOLFF

My youngest daughter.

WEHRHAHN

Well, why didn't you bring her with you then?

MRS. WOLFF

She was here, all right, your honour. An' then, I c'n go over an' fetch
her in a minute.

WEHRHAHN

That would only serve to delay the whole business again. Didn't the girl
tell you anything about it?

KRUEGER

You said it was found on the way to the railway station.

WEHRHAHN

In that case the thief is probably in Berlin, That won't make our search
any easier.

KRUEGER

I don't believe that at all, your honour, Mr. Fleischer seems to me to
have an entirely correct opinion. The whole business with the package is
a trick meant to mislead us.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, well. That's mighty possible.

WEHRHAHN

Now, Mrs. Wolff, you're not so stupid as a rule. Things that are stolen
here go in to Berlin. That fur coat was sold in Berlin before we even
knew that it was stolen.

MRS. WOLFF

No, your honour, I can't help it, but I ain't quite, not quite of the
same opinion. If the thief is in Berlin, why, I ax, does he have to go
an' lose a package like that?

WEHRHAHN

Such things are not always lost intentionally.

MRS. WOLFF

Just look at that there package. It's all packed up so nice--the vest,
the key, an' the bit o' paper ...

KRUEGER

I believe the thief to be in this very place.

MRS. WOLFF

[_Confirming him._] Well, you see, Mr. Krueger.

KRUEGER

I firmly believe it.

WEHRHAHN

Sorry, but I do not incline to that opinion. My experience is far too
long ...

KRUEGER

What? A long experience? H-m!

WEHRHAHN

Certainly. And on the basis of that experience I know that the chance of
the coat being here need scarcely be taken into account.

MRS. WOLFF

Well, well, we shouldn't go an' deny things that way, your honour.

KRUEGER

[_Referring to FLEISCHER._] And then he saw the boatman ...

WEHRHAHN

Don't bother me with that story. I'd have to go searching people's houses
every day with twenty constables and policemen, I'd have to search every
house in the village.

MRS. WOLFF

Then you better go an' start with my house, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

Well, isn't that ridiculous? No, no, gentlemen: that's not the way. That
method will lead us nowhither, now or later. You must give me entire
freedom of action. I have my own suspicions and will continue to make my
observations. There are a number of shady characters here on whom I have
my eye. Early in the morning they ride in to Berlin with heavy baskets on
their backs, and in the evening they bring home the same baskets empty.

KRUEGER

I suppose you mean the vegetable hucksters. That's what they do.

WEHRHAHN

Not only the vegetable hucksters, Mr. Krueger. And I have no doubt but
that your coat travelled in the same way.

MRS. WOLFF

That's possible, all right. There ain't nothin' impossible in _this_
world, I tell you.

WEHRHAHN

Well, then! Now, what did you want to announce?

WULKOW

A little girl, your honour.

WEHRHAHN

I will do all that is possible.

KRUEGER

I won't let the matter rest until I get back my coat.

WEHRHAHN

Well, whatever can be done will be done. Mrs. Wolff can use her ears a
little.

MRS. WOLFF

The trouble is I don't know how to act like a spy. But if things like
that don't come out--there ain't no sayin' what's safe no more.

KRUEGER

You are quite right, Mrs. Wolff, quite right. [_To WEHRHAHN._] I must ask
you to examine that package carefully. The handwriting on the slip that
was found in it may lead to a discovery. And day after to-morrow morning,
your honour, I will take the liberty of troubling you again. Good
morning!

[_Exit._

FLEISCHER

Good morning.

[_Exit._

WEHRHAHN

[_To WULKOW._] How old are you?--There's something wrong with those two
fellows up here. [_He touches his forehead. To WULKOW._] What is your
name?

WULKOW

August Philip Wulkow.

WEHRHAHN

[_To MITTELDORF._] Go over to my apartment. That Motes is still sitting
there and waiting. Tell him I am sorry but I have other things to do this
morning.

MITTELDORF

An' you don't want him to wait?

WEHRHAHN

[_Harshly._] No, he needn't wait!

[_MITTELDORF, exit._

WEHRHAHN

[_To MRS. WOLFF._] Do you know this author Motes?

MRS. WOLFF

When it comes to people like that, your honour, I'd rather go an' hold my
tongue. There ain't much good that I could tell you.

WEHRHAHN

[_Ironically._] But you could tell me a great deal that's good about
Fleischer.

MRS. WOLFF

He ain't no bad sort, an' that's a fac'.

WEHRHAHN

I suppose you're trying to be a bit careful in what you say.

MRS. WOLFF

No, I ain't much good at that. I'm right out with things, your honour. If
I hadn't always gone an' been right out with what I got to say, I might
ha' been a good bit further along in the world.

WEHRHAHN

That policy has never done you any harm with me.

MRS. WOLFF

No, not with you, your honour. You c'n stand bein' spoken to honest.
Nobody don't need to be sneaky 'round you.

WEHRHAHN

In short: Fleischer is a man of honour.

MRS. WOLFF

That he is! That he is!

WEHRHAHN

Well, you remember my words of to-day.

MRS. WOLFF

An' you remember mine.

WEHRHAHN

Very well. The future will show. [_He stretches himself, gets up, and
stamps his feet gently on the floor. To WULKOW._] This is our excellent
washerwoman. She thinks that all people are like herself. [_To MRS.
WOLFF._] But unfortunately the world is differently made. You see human
beings from the outside; a man like myself has learned to look a little
deeper. [_He takes a few paces, then stops before her and lays his hand
on her shoulder._] And as surely as it is true when I say: Mrs. Wolff is
an honest woman; so surely I tell you: this Dr. Fleischer of yours, of
whom we were speaking, is a thoroughly dangerous person!

MRS. WOLFF

[_Shaking her head resignedly._] Well, then I don't know no more what to
think ...

THE CURTAIN FALLS

THE CONFLAGRATION

PERSONS:

FIELITZ, _Shoemaker and Spy. Near sixty years old._

MRS. FIELITZ, _formerly MRS. WOLFF, his wife. Of the same age._

LEONTINE, _her oldest daughter by her first marriage; unmarried; near
thirty._

SCHMAROWSKI, _Architect._

LANGHEINRICH, _Smith. Thirty years old._

RAUCHHAUPT, _retired Prussian Constable._

GUSTAV, _his oldest son, a congenital imbecile._

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