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THE DRAMATIC WORKS
Edited By LUDWIG LEWISOHN
Assistant Professor in The Ohio State University
VOLUME TWO: SOCIAL DRAMAS
_By the Editor_.
DRAYMAN HENSCHEL (Fuhrmann Henschel)
_Translated by the Editor_.
ROSE BERND (Rose Bernd)
_Translated by the Editor_.
THE RATS (Die Ratten)
_Translated by the Editor_.
The first volume of the present edition of Hauptmann's Dramatic Works is
identical in content with the corresponding volume of the German edition.
In the second volume _The Rats_ has been substituted for two early prose
tales which lie outside of the scope of our undertaking. Hence these two
volumes include that entire group of dramas which Hauptmann himself
specifically calls social. This term must not, of course, be pressed too
rigidly. Only in _Before Dawn_ and in _The Weavers_ can the dramatic
situation be said to arise wholly from social conditions rather than from
the fate of the individual. It is true, however, that in the seven plays
thus far presented all characters are viewed primarily as, in a large
measure, the results of their social environment. This environment is, in
all cases, proportionately stressed. To exhibit it fully Hauptmann uses,
beyond any other dramatist, passages which, though always dramatic in
form, are narrative and, above all, descriptive in intention. The silent
burden of these plays, the ceaseless implication of their fables, is the
injustice and inhumanity of the social order.
Hauptmann, however, has very little of the narrow and acrid temper of the
special pleader. He is content to show humanity. It is quite conceivable
that the future, forgetful of the special social problems and the
humanitarian cult of to-day, may view these plays as simply bodying forth
the passions and events that are timeless and constant in the inevitable
march of human life. The tragedies of _Drayman Henschel_ and of _Rose
Bernd_, at all events, stand in no need of the label of any decade. They
move us by their breadth and energy and fundamental tenderness.
No plays of Hauptmann produce more surely the impression of having been
dipped from the fullness of life. One does not feel that these men and
women--Hanne Sch�l and Siebenhaar, old Bernd and the Flamms--are called
into a brief existence as foils or props of the protagonists. They led
their lives before the plays began: they continue to live in the
imagination long after Henschel and Rose have succumbed. How does
Christopher Flamm, that excellent fellow and most breathing picture of
the average man, adjust his affairs? He is fine enough to be permanently
stirred by the tragedy he has earned, yet coarse enough to fall back into
a merely sensuous life of meaningless pleasures. But at his side sits
that exquisite monitor--his wife. The stream of their lives must flow on.
And one asks how and whither? To apply such almost inevitable questions
to Hauptmann's characters is to be struck at once by the exactness and
largeness of his vision of men. Few other dramatists impress one with an
equal sense of life's fullness and continuity,
"The flowing, flowing, flowing of the world."
The last play in this volume, _The Rats_, appeared in 1911, thirteen
years after _Drayman Henschel_, nine years after _Rose Bernd_. A first
reading of the book is apt to provoke disappointment and confusion. Upon
a closer view, however, the play is seen to be both powerful in itself
and important as a document in criticism and _Kulturgeschichte_. It
stands alone among Hauptmann's works in its inclusion of two separate
actions or plots--the tragedy of Mrs. John and the comedy of the
Hassenreuter group. Nor can the actions be said to be firmly interwoven:
they appear, at first sight, merely juxtaposed. Hauptmann would
undoubtedly assert that, in modern society, the various social classes
live in just such juxtaposition and have contacts of just the kind here
chronicled. His real purpose in combining the two fables is more
significant. Following the great example, though not the precise method,
of Moli�re, who produced _La Critique de l'�cole des Femmes_ on the
boards of his theater five months after the hostile reception of _L'�cole
des Femmes_, Hauptmann gives us a naturalistic tragedy and, at the same
time, its criticism and defense. His tenacity to the ideals of his youth
is impressively illustrated here. In his own work he has created a new
idealism. But let it not be thought that his understanding of tragedy and
his sense of human values have changed. The charwoman may, in very truth,
be a Muse of tragedy, all grief is of an equal sacredness, and even the
incomparable Hassenreuter--wind-bag, chauvinist and consistent
_Goetheaner_--is forced by the essential soundness of his heart to blurt
out an admission of the basic principle of naturalistic dramaturgy.
The group of characters in _The Rats_ is unusually large and varied. The
phantastic note is somewhat strained perhaps in Quaquaro and Mrs. Knobbe.
But the convincingness and earth-rooted humanity of the others is once
more beyond cavil or dispute. The Hassenreuter family, Alice R�tterbusch,
the Spittas, Paul John and Bruno Mechelke, Mrs. Kielbacke and even the
policeman Schierke--all are superbly alive, vigorous and racy in speech
The language of the plays in this volume is again almost wholly
dialectic. The linguistic difficulties are especially great in _The Rats_
where the members of the Berlin populace speak an extraordinarily
degraded jargon. In the translation I have sought, so far as possible, to
differentiate the savour and quaintness of the Silesian dialect from the
coarseness of that of Berlin. But all such attempts must, from their very
nature, achieve only a partial success. The succeeding volumes of this
edition, presenting the plays written in normal literary German, will
offer a fairer if not more fascinating field of interpretation.
_LIST OF PERSONS_
HANNE SCH�L (_later MRS. HENSCHEL_).
HORSE DEALER WALTHER.
Time: Toward the end of the eighteen sixties.
Scene: The "Gray Swan" hotel in a Silesian watering place.
THE FIRST ACT
_A room, furnished peasant fashion, in the basement of the "Grey
Swan" hotel. Through two windows set high in the left wall, the
gloomy light of a late winter afternoon sickers in. Under the windows
there stands a bed of soft wood, varnished yellow, in which MRS.
HENSCHEL is lying ill. She is about thirty-six years of age. Near the
bed her little six-months-old daughter lies in her cradle. A second
bed stands against the back wall which, like the other walls, is
painted blue with a dark, plain border near the ceiling. In front,
toward the right, stands a great tile-oven surrounded by a bench. A
plentiful supply of small split kindling wood is piled up in the
roomy bin. The wall to the right has a door leading to a smaller
room. HANNE SCH�L, a vigorous, young maid servant is very busy in the
room. She has put her wooden pattens aside and walks about in her
thick, blue stockings. She takes from the oven an iron pot in which
food is cooking and puts it back again. Cooking spoons, a twirling
stick and a strainer lie on the bench; also a large, thick
earthenware jug with a thin, firmly corked neck. Beneath the bench
stands the water pitcher. HANNE'S skirts are gathered up in a thick
pad; her bodice is dark grey; her muscular arms are bare. Around the
top of the oven is fastened a square wooden rod, on which long
hunting stockings are hung up to dry, as well as swaddling clothes,
leathern breeches and a pair of tall, water-tight boots. To the right
of the oven stand a clothes press and a chest of drawers--old
fashioned, gaily coloured, Silesian pieces of furniture. Through the
open door in the rear wall one looks out upon a dark, broad,
underground corridor which ends in a glass door with manicoloured
panes. Behind this door wooden steps lead upward. These stairs are
always illuminated by a jet of gas so that the panes of the door
shine brightly. It is in the middle of February; the weather without
_FRANZ, a young fellow in sober coachman's livery, ready to drive
out, looks in._
Is the missis asleep?
What d'you suppose? Don't make so much noise!
There's doors enough slammin' in this house. If that don't wake her up--!
I'm goin' to drive the carriage to Waldenburg.
The madam. She's goin' to buy birthday presents.
Whose birthday is it?
Great goin's on--those. To hitch up the horses on account o' that fool of
a kid an' travel to Waldenburg in such weather!
Well, I has my fur coat!
Those people don't know no more how to get rid o' their money! We got to
_In the passage appears, slowly feeling his may, the veterinarian
GRUNERT. He is a small man in a coat of black sheep's fur, cap and
tall boots. He taps with the handle of his whip against the door post
in order to call attention to his presence._
Isn't Henschel at home yet?
What's wanted of him?
I've come to look at the gelding.
So you're the doctor from Freiburg, eh? Henschel, he's not at home. He
went to Freiburg carryin' freight; seems to me you must ha' met him.
In which stall do you keep the gelding?
'Tis the chestnut horse with the white star on his face, I believe they
put him in the spare stall. [_To FRANZ._] You might go along an' show him
Just go straight across the yard, 's far as you can, under the big hall,
right into the coachman's room. Then you c'n ask Frederic; he'll tell
Well, go along with him.
Haven't you got a few pennies change for me?
I s'pose you want me to sell my skin on your account?
[_Tickling her._] I'd buy it right off.
Franz! Don't you--! D'you want the woman to wake up? You don't feel reel
well, do you, if you can't wring a few farthings out o' me! I'm fair
cleaned out. [_Rummaging for the money._] Here! [_She presses something
into his hand._] Now get out!
[_The bell rings._
[_Frightened._] That's the master. Good-bye.
[_He goes hastily._
[_Has waked up and says weakly._] Girl! Girl! Don't you hear nothin'?
[_Roughly._] What d'you want?
I want you to listen when a body calls you!
I hear all right! But if you don't talk louder I can't hear. I got only
just two ears.
Are you goin' to cut up rough again?
[_Surly._] Ah, what do I--!
Is that right, eh? Is it right o' you to talk rough like that to a sick
Who starts it, I'd like to know! You don't hardly wake up but what you
begin to torment me. Nothin's done right, no matter how you do it!
That's because you don't mind me!
You better be doin' your work yourself. I slaves away all day an' half o'
the night! But if things is that way--I'd rather go about my business!
[_She lets her skirts fall and runs out._
Girl! Girl!--Don't do that to me! What is it I said that was so bad? O
Lord, O Lord! What'll happen when the men folks comes home? They wants to
eat! No, girl ... girl!
[_She sinks back exhausted, moans softly, and begins to rock her
baby's cradle by means of a cord which is within her reach._
_Through the glass door in the rear KARLCHEN squeezes himself in with
some difficulty. He carries a dish full of soup and moves carefully
and timidly toward MRS. HENSCHEL'S bed. There he sets down the dish
on a wooden chair._
Eh, Karlchen, is that you! Do tell me what you're bringin' me there?
Soup! Mother sends her regards and hopes you'll soon feel better and that
you'll like the soup, Mrs. Henschel.
Eh, little lad, you're the best of 'em all. Chicken soup! 'Tis not
possible. Well, tell your mother I thank her most kindly. D'you hear?
Don't go an' forget that! Now I'll tell you somethin', Karlchen! You c'n
do me a favour, will you? See that rag over there? Get on this bench,
will you, an' pull the pot out a bit. The girl's gone off an' she put it
too far in.
[_After he has found the rag mounts the bench cheerfully and looks into
the oven. He asks:_] The black pot or the blue one, Mrs. Henschel?
What's in the blue pot?
[_Agitated._] Pull it out! That'll be boilin' to nothin'!--Eh, what a
girl, what a girl!
[_Has pulled the pot in question forward._] Is this right?
You c'n let it stand that way! Come here a bit now an' I'll give you a
piece o' whip cord. [_She takes the cord from the window-sill and gives
it to him._] An' how is your mother?
She's well. She's gone to Waldenburg to buy things for my birthday.
I'm not well, myself. I think I'm goin' to die!
Oh, no, Mrs. Henschel!
Yes, yes, you c'n believe me; I'm goin' to die. For all I care you can
say so to your mother.
I'm goin' to get a Bashly cap, Mrs. Henschel.
Yes, yes, you c'n believe me. Come over here a bit. Keep reel still an'
listen. D'you hear how it ticks? D'you hear how it ticks in the rotten
[_Whose wrist she holds in her fevered grasp._] I'm afraid, Mrs.
Oh, never mind. We all has to die! D'you hear how it ticks? Do you? What
is that? 'Tis the deathwatch that ticks. [_She falls back._] One ... two
... one ...--Oh, what a girl, what a girl!
_KARLCHEN, released from her grasp, withdraws timidly toward the
door. When his hand is on the knob of the glass door a sudden terror
overtakes him. He tears the door open and slams it behind him with
such force that the panes rattle. Immediately thereupon a vigorous
cracking of whips is heard without. Hearing this noise MRS. HENSCHEL
starts up violently._
That's father comin'!
[_Out in the hallway and yet unseen._] Doctor, what are we goin' to do
with the beast?
[_He and the veterinarian are visible through the doorway._
He won't let you come near him. We'll have to put the twitch on him, I
[_He is a man of athletic build, about forty-five years old. He wears a
fur cap, a jacket of sheep's fur under which his blue carter's blouse is
visible, tall boots, green hunting stockings. He carries a whip and a
burning lantern._] I don't know no more what's wrong with that beast. I
carted some hard coal from the mine yesterday. I came home an' unhitched,
an' put the horses in the stable, an'--that very minute--the beast throws
hisself down an' begins to kick.
[_He puts his long whip in a corner and hangs up his cap._
_HANNE returns and takes up her work again, although visibly
Girl, get a light!
One thing after another!
[_Puts out the light in the lantern and hangs it up._] Heaven only knows
what all this is comin' to. First my wife gets sick! Then this here horse
drops down! It looks as if somethin' or somebody had it in for me! I
bought that gelding Christmas time from Walther. Two weeks after an' the
beast's lame. I'll show him. Two hundred crowns I paid.
Is it rainin' outside?
[_In passing._] Yes, yes, mother; it's rainin'.--An' it's a man's own
brother-in-law that takes him in that way.
[_He sits down on the bench._
_HANNE has lit a tallow candle and puts it into a candle stick of
tin, which she sets on the table._
You're too good, father. That's what it is. You don't think no evil o'
[_Sitting down at the table and writing a prescription._] I'll write down
something for you to get from the chemist.
No, I tell you, if that chestnut dies on top o' everythin' else--! I
don't believe God's meanin' to let that happen!
[_Holding out his leg to HANNE._] Come, pull off my boots for me! That
was a wind that blew down here on the road from Freiburg. People tell me
it unroofed the church in the lower village more'n half, [_To HANNE._]
Just keep on tuggin'! Can't you get it?
[_To HANNE._] I don't know! You don't seem to learn nothin'!
[_HANNE succeeds in pulling off one boot. She puts it aside and
starts on the other._
Keep still, mother! You don't do it any better!
[_Pulls off the second boot and puts it aside. Then in a surly voice to
HENSCHEL._] Did you bring me my apron from Kramsta?
All the things I'm axed to keep in my head! I'm content if I c'n keep my
own bit of business straight an' get my boxes safe to the railroad. What
do I care about women or their apron-strings?
No, you're not famous for caring about them.
An' it'd be a bad thing if he was!
[_Slips on wooden pattens and rises. To HANNE._] Hurry now! Hurry! We got
to get our dinner. This very day we still has to go down to the smithy.
[_Has finished writing his prescription, which he leaves lying on the
table. He slips his note book and pencil back into his pocket and says as
he is about to go:_] You'll hurry this to the chemist's. I'll look in
early in the morning.
[_HENSCHEL sits down at the table._
_HAUFFE comes in slowly. He has wooden pattens on and leathern
breeches and also carries a lighted lantern._
That's dirty weather for you again!
How's it goin' in the stable?
He's goin' to end by knockin' down the whole stall.
[_He blows out the light in the lantern and hangs it up next to
Good night to all of you. All we can do is to wait. We doctors are only
To be sure. We know that without your telling us! Good night; I hope you
won't overturn. [_GRUNERT goes._] Now tell me, mother, how is it with
Oh. I've been worritin' so much again!
What is it that worries you?
Because for all I c'n do, I'm not able to lend a hand even.
_HANNE places a disk of dumplings and one of sauerkraut on the table;
she takes forks from the table drawer and puts them on the table._
The girl's here to do the work!
A girl like her is that thoughtless!
Oh, we gets enough to eat an' everythin' seems to go smoothly.--If you
hadn't got up out o' bed too soon the first time, you might be dancin'
O Lord, me an' dancin'. What an idea!
_HANNE has prepared three plates, putting a small piece of pork on
each. She now draws up a stool for herself and sits down at the
There's not much left o' the oats, neither.
I bought some yesterday; thirty sacks. Saturday a load o' hay'll come
too. The feed gets dearer all the time.
If the beasts is to work they has to eat.
But people thinks they live on air, an' so everybody wants to cut down
the carting charges.
He said somethin' like that to me too.
Who said that--the inspector?
Who else but him? But this time he met the wrong man.
Well, well, I'm not sayin', but that's the end of everythin'! What's to
become of us these hard times?
The inspector of roads was here. He wants you to send him teams for the
big steam roller, I believe. They're in Hinterhartau now.
_Behind the glass door MR. SIEBENHAAR is seen descending the stairs.
He is little over forty. Most carefully dressed; black broadcloth
coat, white waist-coat, light-coloured, English trousers--an elegance
of attire derived from the style of the 'sixties. His hair, already
grey, leaves the top of his head bald; his moustache, on the
contrary, is thick and dark blond. SIEBENHAAR wears gold-rimmed
spectacles. When he desires to see anything with exactness, he must
use, in addition, a pair of eye-glasses which he slips in behind the
lenses of his spectacles. He represents an intelligent type._
[_Approaches the open door of the room. In his right hand he holds a
candle-stick of tin with an unlit candle in it and a bunch of keys; with
his left hand he shades his sensitive eyes._] Has Henschel come back yet?
Yes, Mr. Siebenhaar.
But you're just at your dinner. I have something to do in the cellar. We
can talk that matter over later.
No, no; you needn't put nothin' off on my account. I'm through!
In that case you'd better come up to see me. [_He enters the room and
lights his candle by the one which is burning on the table._] I'll only
get a light here now. We're more undisturbed in my office.--How are you,
Mrs. Henschel? How did you like the chicken-soup?
Oh, goodness, gracious! I clean forgot about it!
Is that so, indeed?
[_Discovering the dish of chicken soup._] That's true; there it stands.
That's the way that woman is! She'd like to get well an' she forgets to
eat and to drink.
[_As a violent gust of wind is felt even indoors._] Do tell me: what do
you think of it? My wife's driven over to Waldenburg, and the weather is
getting wilder and wilder. I'm really beginning to get worried. What's
I s'pose it sounds worse than it is.
Well, well, one shouldn't take such risks. Didn't you hear that rattling?
The wind broke one of the large windows in the dining-hall looking out
over the verandah. You know. It's a tremendous storm!
Who'd ha' thought it!
That'll be costin' you a good bit again!
[_Leaving the room by way of the passage to the left._] There's nothing
inexpensive except death.
He's got his bunch o' troubles like the rest of us.
What do you think he wants o' you again, father?
Nothin'! How c'n I tell? I'll hear what he says.
I do hope he won't be askin' for money again.
Don't begin talkin' nonsense, mother.
But if them people is as hard up as all that, why does the woman has to
have a twenty shillin' hat?
You hold your tongue! No one asked you! You poke your nose over your
kneadin' board an' not into other folks' affairs! It takes somethin' to
keep a hotel like this goin'. Two months in the year he makes money. The
rest o' the time he has to do the best he can.
An' he had to go an' build atop o' that!
An' 'twas that as got him in worse'n ever. He should ha' let it be.
Women don't understand nothin' o' such affairs. He had to build; he
couldn't do no different. We gets more an' more people who come here for
their health nowadays; there wasn't half so many formerly. But in those
times they had money; now they wants everythin' for nothin'. Get the
bottle. I'd like to drink a nip o' whiskey.
[_Slowly clasping his knife and getting ready to rise._] Forty rooms,
three big halls, an' nothin' in 'em excep' rats an' mice. How's he goin'
to raise the interest?
_FRANZISKA WERMELSKIRCH peeps in. She is a pretty, lively girl of
sixteen. She wears her long, dark hair open. Her costume is slightly
eccentric: the skirts white and short, the bodice cut in triangular
shape at the neck, the sash long and gay. Her arms are bare above the
elbows. Around her neck she wears a coloured ribbon from which a
crucifix hangs down._
[_Very vivaciously._] Wasn't Mr. Siebenhaar here just now? I wish you a
pleasant meal, ladies and gentlemen! I merely took the liberty of asking
whether Mr. Siebenhaar hadn't been here just now?
[_Gruffly._] We don't know nothin'. He wasn't with us!
No? I thought he was!
[_She puts her foot coquettishly on the bench and ties her shoe
Mr. Siebenhaar here an' Mr. Siebenhaar there! What are you always wantin'
of the man?
I? nothing! But he's so fond of gooseliver. Mama happens to have some and
so papa sent me to tell him so.--By the way, Mr. Henschel, do you know
that you might drop in to see us again, too!
You just let father bide where he is! That'd be a fine way! He's not
thinkin' about runnin' into taverns these days.
We're broaching a new keg to-day, though.
[_While HAUFFE grins and HANNE laughs._] Mother, you stick to your own
affairs. If I should want to go an' drink a glass o' beer I wouldn't be
askin' nobody's consent, you c'n be sure.
--How are you anyhow, Mrs. Henschel?
Oh, to-morrow I'll be gettin' me a sash too an' take to rope-dancin'.
I'll join you. I can do that splendidly. I always practice on the
So that's the reason why all the shafts are bent!
Do you see, this is the way it's done; this is the way to balance
oneself. [_Imitating the movements of a tight rope dancer, she prances
out by the door._] Right leg! Left leg! _Au revoir!_
[_Taking down his lantern._] She'll go off her head pretty soon if she
don't get no husband.
If she had to lend a hand an' work good an' hard, she'd get over that
She's not allowed to come upstairs. Mrs. Siebenhaar won't have her.
An' she's right there. I wouldn't bear it neither.
She's always chasin' an' sniffin' around Mr. Siebenhaar. I'm willin'
people should please theirselves. But she's goin' it hard.
The Siebenhaars ought to put them people out. The goin's on with the men
an' the wenches.
Aw, what are you talkin' about, mother?
Well, in the tap room.
Well, they has to live same as anybody. D'you want to see 'em put in the
streets? Wermelskirch's not a bad fellow at all.
But the woman's an old witch.
If he pays his rent nothin' won't happen to him on that account. An' not
on account o' the girl by a long way. [_He has arisen and bends over the
cradle._] We've got a little thing like that here too, an' nobody's goin'
to put us out for that!
Eh, that would be ...! She's asleep all the time; she don't seem to want
to wake up!
There's not much strength in her.--Mother, sure you're not goin' to
die!--[_Taking his cap from the nail._] Hanne, I was just foolin' you a
while ago. Your apron is lyin' out there in the waggon.
[_Eagerly._] Where is it?
In the basket. Go an' look for it!
[_HENSCHEL leaves by way of the middle door; HANNE disappears into
the small adjacent room._
So he brought her the apron after all!
_HANNE runs quickly through the room again and goes out by the middle
An' he brought her the apron after all!
_SIEBENHAAR enters carefully, carrying his candle and keys as before
and, in addition, two bottles of claret._
All alone, Mrs. Henschel?
An' he brought the apron ...
It's me, Mrs. Henschel. Did you think it was a stranger?
I don't hardly believe ...
I hope I didn't wake you up. It's me--Siebenhaar.
To be sure. Yes. To be sure.
And I'm bringing you a little wine which you are to drink. It will do you
good.--Is it possible you don't recognize me?
Well, now, that'd be queer. You are, sure--you are our Mr. Siebenhaar.
Things hasn't come to such a pass with me yet. I recognise you all
right!--I don't know: has I been dreamin' or what?
You may have been. How are you otherwise?
But sure enough you're Siebenhaar.
Perhaps you thought I was your husband!
I don't know ... I reely can't say ... I was feelin' so queer ...
Seems to me you're not lying comfortably. Let me straighten your pillows
a bit. Does the doctor see you regularly?
[_With tearful excitement._] I don't know how it is--they just leaves me
alone. No, no, you're Mr. Siebenhaar, I know that. An' I know more'n
that: you was always good to me an' you has a good heart, even if
sometimes you made an angry face. I can tell you: I'm that afraid! I'm
always thinkin': it don't go quick enough for him.
What doesn't go quick enough?
[_Bursting into tears._] I'm livin' too long for him--! But what's to
become o' Gustel?
But, my dear Mrs. Henschel, what kind of talk is that?
[_Sobbing softly to herself._] What's to become o' Gustel if I die?
Mrs. Henschel, you're a sensible woman! And so do listen to me! If one
has to lie quietly in bed, you see, the way you have had to do
unfortunately--week after week--why then one naturally has all kinds of
foolish thoughts come into one's head. One has all sorts of sickly
fancies. But one must resist all that resolutely, Mrs. Henschel! Why,
that would be a fine state of affairs, if that--! Such stuff! Put it out
of your mind, Mrs. Henschel! it's folly!
Dear me, I didn't want to believe it: I know what I says!
That's just what you don't know. That's just what, unfortunately, you
don't know at present. You will simply laugh when you look back upon, it
later. Simply laugh!
[_Breaking out passionately._] Didn't he go an' see her where she sleeps!
[_Utterly astonished but thoroughly incredulous._] Who went to see whom?
Henschel! The girl!
Your husband? And Hanne? Now look here; whoever persuaded you of that is
a rascally liar.
An' when I'm dead he'll marry her anyhow!
_HENSCHEL appears in the doorway._
You're suffering from hallucinations, Mrs. Henschel!
[_In good-natured astonishment._] What's the matter, Malchen? Why are you
Henschel, you mustn't leave your wife alone!
[_Approaches the bed in kindly fashion._] Who's doin' anythin' to you?
[_Throws herself in sullen rage on her other side, turning her back to
HENSCHEL and facing the wall._] ... Aw, leave me in peace!
What's the meanin' o' this?
[_Snarling at him through her sobs._] Oh, go away from me!
_HENSCHEL, visibly taken aback, looks questioningly at SIEBENHAAR,
who polishes his glasses and shakes his head._
[_Softly._] I wouldn't bother her just now.
[_As before._] You're wishin' me into my grave!
[_To HENSCHEL, who is about to fly into a rage._] Sh! Do me the favour to
A body has eyes. A body's not blind! You don't has to let me know
everythin'. I'm no good for nothin' no more; I c'n go!
[_Controlling himself._] What do you mean by that, Malchen?
That's right! Go on pretendin'!
[_Perplexed in the extreme._] Now do tell me--anybody ...!
Things c'n go any way they wants to ... I won't be deceived, an' you c'n
all sneak aroun' all you want to! I c'n see through a stone wall! I c'n
see you for all--yes--for all! You thinks: a woman like that is easy to
deceive. Rot, says I! One thing I tell you now--If I dies, Gustel dies
along with me! I'll take her with me! I'll strangle her before I'd leave
her to a damned wench like that!
But mother, what's come over you?
You're wishin' me into my grave!
Hold on, now, hold on! Or I'll be gettin' wild!
[_Warning him softly._] Be calm, Henschel. The woman is ill.
[_Who has overheard._] Ill? An' who was it made me ill? You two--you an'
Now I'd like to know who in the world put notions like that into your
head? The girl an' I! I don't understand the whole blasted thing! I'm
supposed to have dealin's with her?
Don't you fetch aprons an' ribands for her?
[_With renewed perplexity._] Aprons and ribands?
Yes, aprons and ribands.
Well, that's the queerest thing--!
Don't you think everythin' she does right an' fine? D'you ever give her a
angry word? She's like the missis of the house this very day.
Mother, keep still: I'm advisin' you!
'Tis you that has to keep still, 'cause there's nothin' you c'n say!
[_Standing by the bed._] Mrs. Henschel, you must collect yourself! All
this you're saying is the merest fancy!
You're no better'n he; you don't do no different! An' the poor
women--they dies of it! [_Dissolved in self-pitying tears._] Well, let
_SIEBENHAAR gives a short laugh with an undertone of seriousness,
steps up to the table and opens one of the bottles of wine
[_Sitting on the edge of the bed speaks soothingly_] Mother, mother--you
turn over now an' I'll say a word to you in kindness. [_He turns her over
with kindly violence._] Look at it this way, mother: You've been havin' a
dream. You dreamed--that's it! Our little dog, he dreams queer things too
now an' then. You c'n see it. But now wake up, mother! Y'understan'? The
stuff you been talkin'--if a man wanted to make a load o' that the
strongest freight waggon'd break down. My head's fair spinnin' with it.
[_Having looked for and found a glass which he now fills._] And then you
raked me over the coals too!
Don't take no offence, sir. A woman like that! A man has his troubles
with her.--Now you hurry up, mother, an' get well, or some fine day
you'll be tellin' me I been to Bolkenhain an' stole horses.
Here, drink your wine and try to gain some strength.
If only a body could be sure!
_SIEBENHAAR supports her while she drinks._
What's wrong now again?
[_After she has drunk._] Could you give me a promise?
I'll give you any promise you wants.
If I dies, would you go an' marry her?
Don't ask such fool questions.
Yes or no!
Marry Hanne? [_Jestingly._] O' course I would!
I mean it--serious ...!
Now I just wish you'd listen to this, Mr. Siebenhaar! What's a man to
say? You're not goin' to die!
But if I does?
I won't marry her anyhow! Now you see? An' now you know it! We can make
an end o' this business.
Can you promise it?
That you wouldn't go an' marry the girl!
I'll promise, too; I'm willin' to.
An' you'll give me your hand in token?
I'm tellin' you: Yes. [_He puts his hand into hers._] But now it's all
right. Now don't worry me no more with such stuff.
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
THE SECOND ACT
_A beautiful forenoon in May._
_The same room as in the first act. The bed, in which MRS. HENSCHEL
lay, is no longer there. The window which it covered is wide open.
HANNE, her face toward the window, her sleeves turned up above her
elbows, is busy at the washtub._
_FRANZ, his shirt-sleeves and trousers also rolled up, his bare feet
in wooden pattens, comes in carrying a pail. He has been washing
[_With awkward merriment._] Hanne, I'm comin' to see you! Lord A'mighty!
Has you got such a thing as some warm water?
[_Angrily throwing the piece of linen which she has on the washboard back
into the tub and going over to the oven._] You come in here a sight too
Is that so? What's wrong, eh?
[_Pouring hot water into the pail._] Don't stop to ask questions. I got
I'm washin' waggons; I'm not idlin' neither.
[_Violently._] You're to leave me alone! That's what you're to do! I've
told you that more'n once!
What am I doin' to you?
You're not to keep runnin' after me!
You've forgotten, maybe, how it is with us?
How 'tis with us? No ways; nothin'! You go you way an' I goes mine, an'
that's how it is!
That's somethin' bran' new!
It's mighty old to me!
That's how it seems.--Hanne, what's come between us!
Nothin', nothin'! Only just leave me alone!
Has you anythin' to complain of? I been true to you!
Oh, for all I care! That's none o' my business! Carry on with anybody you
want to! I got nothin' against it!
Since when has you been feelin' that way?
Since the beginnin' o' time!
[_Moved and tearful._] Aw, you're just lyin', Hanne!
You don't need to start that way at me. 'Twon't do you no good with me! I
don't let a feller like you tell me I'm lyin'! An' now I just want you to
know how things is. If your skin's that thick that you can't be made to
notice nothin' I'll tell you right out to your face: It's all over
D'you really mean that, Hanne?
All over--an' I want you to remember that.
I'll remember it all right! [_More and more excited and finally weeping
more than speaking._] You don't need to think I'm such a fool; I noticed
it long before to-day. But I kept thinkin' you'd come to your senses.
That's just what I've done.
It's all the way you look at it. I'm a poor devil--that's certain; an'
Henschel--he's got a chest full o' money. There's one way, come to think
of it, in which maybe you has come to your senses.
You start at me with such talk an' it just makes things worse an' worse.
It's not true, eh? You're not schemin' right on to be Mrs. Henschel? I'm
not right, eh?
That's my business. That don't concern you. We all has to look out for
Well, now, supposin' I was to look out for myself, an' goes to Henschel
an' says: Hanne, she promised to marry me; we was agreed, an' so....
Try it, that's all I says.
[_Almost weeping with pain and rage._] An' I will try it, too! You take
care o' yourself an' I'll take care o' myself. If that's the way you're
goin' to act, I c'n do the same! [_With a sudden change of front._] But I
don't want to have nothin' more to do with you! You c'n throw yourself at
his head for all I cares! A crittur like you isn't good enough for me!
So it worked at last. An' that's all right.
_While HANNE continues busy at her washing, WERMELSKIRCH appears in
the passage at the rear. He is a man in the fifties; the former actor
is unmistakable in him. He wears a thread-bare dressing-gown,
embroidered slippers, and smokes a very long pipe._
[_Having looked in for a while without being noticed by HANNE._] Did you
hear him cough?
Why, a guest--a patient--has arrived upstairs.
'Tis time they began to come. We're in the middle of May.
[_Slowly crosses the threshold and hums throatily._]
A pulmonary subject I,
Tra la la la la, bum bum!
It can't last long until I die,
Tra la la la la, bum bum!
[_HANNE laughs over her washing._] Things like that really do one good.
They show that the summer is coming.
One swallow don't make no summer, though!
[_Clears a space for himself on the bench and sits down._] Where is
Why he went down, to the cemetery to-day.
To be sure, it's his wife's birthday. [_Pause._] It was a deuce of a blow
to him, that's certain.--Tell me, when is he coming back?
I don't know why he had to go an' drive there at all. We needs the horses
like anything an' he took the new coachman with him too.
I tell you, Hanne, anger spoils one's appetite.
Well, I can't help bein' angry! He leaves everythin' in a mess. The 'bus
is to leave on time! An' the one-horse carriage sticks in the mud out
there an' Hauffe can't budge it! The old fellow is as stiff as a goat!
Yes, things are beginning to look busy. The _chef_ upstairs starts in
to-day. It's beginning to look up in the tap-room too.
[_With a short derisive laugh._] You don't look, though, as if you had
much to do!
[_Taking no offence._] Oh, that comes later, at eleven o'clock. But then
I'm like a locomotive engine!
I believe you. There'll be a lot o' smoke. You won't let your pipe get
cold whatever happens.
[_Smiling a little._] You're pleased to be pointed in your
remarks--pointed as a needle.--We've got to-day, for our table music,
wait now, let me think--: First of all, a bass violin; secondly, two
cellos; thirdly, two first violins and two second violins. Three first,
two second, three second, two first: I'm getting mixed up now. At all
events we have ten men from the public orchestra. What are you laughing
at? Do you think I'm fooling you? You'll see for yourself. The bass
violin alone will eat enough for ten. There'll be work enough to do!
[_Laughing heartily._] Of course: the cook'll have a lot to do!
[_Simply._] My wife, my daughter, the whole of my family--we have to work
honestly and hard.--And when the summer is over we've worked ourselves to
the bone--for nothing!
I don't see what you has to complain of. You've got the best business in
the house. Your taproom don't get empty, if it's summer or winter. If I
was Siebenhaar upstairs, you'd have to whistle a different tune for me.
You wouldn't be gettin' off with no three hundred crowns o' rent. There
wouldn't be no use comin' around me with less'n a thousand. An' then
you'd be doin' well enough for yourself!
[_Has arisen and walks about whistling._] Would you like anything else?
You frighten me so that my pipe goes out!
_GEORGE, a young, alert, neat waiter comes very rapidly down the
stairs behind the glass door, carrying a tray with breakfast service.
While still behind the door he stops short, opens the door, however,
and gazes up and down the passage way._
Confound it all! What's this place here?
[_Laughing over her tub._] You've lost your way! You has to go back!
It's enough, God knows, to make a feller dizzy, No horse couldn't find
his way about this place.
You've just taken service here, eh?
Well o' course! I came yesterday. But tell me, ladies an' gentlemen!
Nothin' like this has ever happened to me before. I've been in a good
many houses but here you has to take along a kind o' mountain guide to
find your way.
[_Exaggerating the waiter's Saxonian accent._] Tell me, are you from
Meissen is my native city.
[_As before._] Good Lord A'mighty, is that so indeed?
How do I get out of here, tell me that!
[_Alert, mobile, and coquettish in her way in the waiter's presence._]
You has to go back up the stairs. We has no use down here for your
This is the first story, eh? Best part o' the house?
You mean the kennels or somethin' like that? We'll show you--that we
will! The very best people live down here!
[_Intimately and flirtatiously._] Young woman, do you know what? You come
along an' show me the way? With you I wouldn't be a bit afraid, no matter
where you lead me to. I'd go into the cellar with you or up into the hay
You stay out o' here! You're the right kind you are! We've got enough of
your sort without you.
Young woman, do you want me to help with the washin'?
No! But if you're aimin' at it exackly, I c'n help you to get along!
[_Half drawing a piece of linen out of the suds._] Then you'd be lookin'
to see where your starched shirt-front went to!
O dear! You're not goin' to mess me up that way, are you? Well, well,
that wouldn't do! We'd have to have a talk about that first! That so,
young woman? Well, o' course! We'll talk about it--when I has time,
[_He mounts the stairs and disappears._
He won't lose his way very often after this! Siebenhaar will see to it
that he gets to know the way from the dining hall to the kitchen.--Hanne,
when is Henschel coming back?
About noon, I s'pose! D'you want me to give him a message?
Tell him--don't forget, now--tell him that I--send him my regards.
Such foolishness. I might ha' thought ...!
[_Passing her with a slight bow._] Thoughts are free ... I wish you a
[_Alone, washing vigorously._] If only Henschel wasn't such a fool!
_Above the cellar, outside, the pedlar FABIG, kneeling down, looks in
at the window._
Good mornin', young woman! How are you? How's everythin'?
Who are you anyhow?
Why--Fabig, from Quolsdorf. Don't you know me no more? I'm bringin' you a
greetin' from your father. An' he wants me to tell you ... Or maybe you'd
want me to come in?
Aw, I know. I believe you. He wants money again. Well, I has none myself.
I told him that myself. He wouldn't believe me. Are you all alone, young
Why d'you ax?
[_Lowering his voice._] Well now you see, there's more'n one thing I has
on my heart. An', through the window, people might be hearin' it.
Oh well, I don't care. You c'n come in! [_FABIG disappears from the
window._] That that feller had to be comin' to-day ...!
[_She dries her hands._
_FABIG enters. He is a poorly clad, strangely agile, droll pedlar,
with a sparse beard, about thirty-six years old._
A good mornin' to you, young woman.
[_Fiercely._] First of all, I'm no young woman but a girl.
[_With cunning._] Maybe so. But from all I hears you'll be married soon.
That's nothin' but a pack o' mean lies--that's what it is.
Well, that's what I heard. It's no fault o' mine. People is sayin' it all
over; because Mrs. Henschel died ...
Well, they can talk for all I care. I does my work. That's all that
That's the best way. I does that way myself. There's little that folks
hasn't said about me some time ... In Altwasser they says I steals
pigeons. A little dog ran after me ... o' course, they said I stole it.
Well now, if you got anythin' to say to me, go ahead an' don't waste
Now you see, there you are. That's what I always says too. People talks a
good deal more'n they ought to. They has a few rags to sell an' they
talks an' talks as if it was an estate. But I'll say just as little as
possible. What I wants to tell you about, young woman--now don't fly up:
the word just slipped out!--I meant to say: lass--what I wants to tell
you about is your daughter.
[_Violently._] I has no daughter, if you want to know it. The girl that
father is takin' care of, is my sister's child.
Well now, that's different, that is. We've all been thinkin' the girl was
yours. Where is your sister?
Who knows where she is? She's not fool enough to tell us. She thinks,
thinks she: they c'n have the trouble an' see how they gets along.
Well, well, well! There you see again how folks is mistaken. I'd ha'
taken any oath ... an' not me, not me alone, but all the folks over in
Quolsdorf, that you was the mother o' that child.
Yes, I knows right well who says that o' me. I could call 'em all by
name! They'd all like to make a common wench o' me. But if ever I lays my
hands on 'em I'll give 'em somethin' to remember me by.
Well, it's a bad business--all of it! Because this is the way it is: the
old man, your father, I needn't be tellin' you--things is as they is--he
don't hardly get sober. He just drinks in one streak. Well, now that your
mother's been dead these two years, he can't leave the little thing--the
girl I mean--at home no more. The bit o' house is empty. An' so he drags
her around in the pubs, in all kinds o' holes, from one village taproom
to the next. If you sees that--it's enough to stir a dumb beast with
[_With fierce impatience._] Is it my fault that he swills?
By no means an' not at all. Nobody c'n keep your old man from doin' his
way! 'Tis only on account o' the child, an' it's that makes a body feel
sorry. But if that there little one can't be taken away from him an'
given in the care o' decent folks, she won't live no ten weeks after
[_Hardening herself._] That don't concern me. I can't take her. I got all
I can do to get along!
You'd better come over to Quolsdorf some time an' look into it all.
That'd be best, too. The little girl ... 'tis a purty little thing, with
bits o' hands an' feet like that much porcelain, so dainty an' delicate.
She's not my child an' she don't concern me.
Well, you better come over an' see what's to be done. It's hard for
people to see such things goin' on. If a man goes into an inn, in the
middle of the night or some time like that--I got to do that, you see, in
the way o' business--an' sees her sittin' there with the old man in the
midst o' tobacco smoke--I tell you it hurts a body's soul.
The innkeepers oughtn't to serve him nothin'. If they was to take a stick
an' beat him out o' their places, maybe he'd learn some sense.--A
waggon's just come into the yard. Here you got a sixpence. Now you get
along an' I'll be thinkin' it all over. I can't do nothin' about it this
minute. But if you goes aroun' here in the inns an' talks about it--then
it's all over between us.