Part 2 out of 9
I'll take good care, an' it don't concern me. If it's your child or your
sister's child--I'm not goin' to poke my nose in the parish register, nor
I'm not goin' to say nothin' neither. But if you want a bit o' good
advice,'tis this: Tell Henschel straight out how 'tis. He won't tear your
head off by a long way!
[_With increasing excitement as HENSCHEL'S voice grows more clearly
audible._] Oh this here jabberin'! It's enough to drive you crazy.
[_Exit into the adjoining room._
_HENSCHEL enters slowly and seriously. He wears a black suit, a top
hat and white knitted gloves._
[_Remains standing and looks at FABIG with an expression of slow
recollection. Simply and calmly._] Who are you?
[_Alertly._] I buy rags, waste paper, furniture, cast off clothes,
anythin' that happens to be aroun'.
[_After a long glance, good-naturedly but with decision._] Out with the
_FABIG withdraws with an embarrassed smile._
[_Takes off his top-hat and wipes his forehead and neck with a
manicoloured handkerchief. Thereupon, he places his hat on the table and
speaks toward the door of the next room:_] Girl, where are you?
I'm with Gustel here in the little room.
All right. I c'n wait. [_He sits down with a sigh that is almost a
groan._] Yes, yes, O Lord--a man has his troubles.
[_Enters busily._] The dinner'll be ready this minute.
I can't eat; I'm not hungry.
Eatin' and drinkin' keeps body an' soul together. I was once in service
with a shepherd, an' he said to us more'n one time: If a body has a
heartache or somethin' like that, even if he feels no hunger, 'tis best
Well, cook your dinner an' we'll see.
You shouldn't give in to it. Not as much as all that. You got to resign
yourself some time.
Was that man Horand, the bookbinder, here?
Everythin's attended to. He made forty new billheads. There they are on
Then the work an' the worry begins again. Drivin' in to Freiburg mornin'
after mornin' an' noon after noon haulin' sick people across the hills.
You're doin' too much o' the work yourself. Old Hauffe is too slow by
half. I can't help it--if I was you I'd get rid o' him.
[_Gets up and goes to the window._] I'm sick of it--of the whole haulin'
business. It c'n stop for all I care. I got nothin' against it if it
does. To-day or to-morrow; it's the same to me. All you got to do is to
take the horses to the flayers, to chop up the waggons for kindlin' wood,
an' to get a stout, strong bit o' rope for yourself.--I think I'll go up
an' see Siebenhaar.
I was wantin' to say somethin' to you when I got a chance.
Well, what is it, eh?
You see, it's not easy for me. No, indeed. [_Elaborately tearful._] But
my brother--he needs me that bad. [_Weeping._] I'll have to leave--that's
[_In extreme consternation._] You're not right in your mind. Don't start
that kind o' business!
_HANNE, shedding crocodile tears, holds her apron to her eyes._
Well now, look here, lass: you're not goin' to play me that kind of a
trick now! That would be fine! Who's goin' to manage the house? Summer's
almost with us now an' you want to leave me in the lurch?
[_With the same gesture._] 'Tis the little one I feels sorry for!
If you don't take care of her, who's goin' to?
[_After a space collecting herself apparently by an effort of the will.
Quietly:_] It can't be done no different.
Everythin' c'n be done in this world. All you needs is to want to do
it.--You never said nothin' about it before. An' now, suddenly, you talk
about your brother!--Maybe I been offendin' you some way? Don't you feel
suited with me no more?
There's no end to the gossip that's goin' round.
What kind o' gossip?
Oh, I don't know. I'd rather be goin out o' the way of it.
I'd like to know just what you mean!
I does my work an' I takes my pay! An' I won't have nobody say such
things o' me. When the wife was still alive I worked all day; now that
she's dead, I don't do no different. People c'n say all they wants to;
I'm tryin' to make you think I'm fine, an' I want dead people's shoes.
I'd rather go into service some other place.
[_Relieved._] You needn't say no more if that's all it is!
[_Takes up some piece of work as an excuse for leaving the room._] No,
no, I'll go. I can't never stay!
[_Talking after her._] You c'n let people talk an' not say much yourself.
All them tongues has to wag for an occupation. [_He takes off his black
coat and hangs it up. Sighing._] The pack o' troubles don't get no
_SIEBENHAAR comes in slowly. He carries a decanter full of water and
Good morning, Henschel.
Good mornin' Mr. Siebenhaar,
Am I disturbing you?
Not a bit; not at all. You're very welcome.
[_Placing the decanter and the glass on the table._] I've got to drink
the medicinal spring water again. I'm having that old trouble with my
throat. Well, dear me, a man has to die of something!
You must just go ahead an' drink the waters. They'll cure you.
Yes, that's just what I'm doing.
An' not from the Mill Spring nor from the Upper Spring. Ours is the best.
Well now, to change the subject. [_Half lost in thought he has been
toying with a sprig of ivy. Now he observes this, starts slightly, runs
his eyes over the top-hat and HENSCHEL himself and says suddenly:_] This
was your wife's birthday, wasn't it?
She'd ha' been thirty-six years old to-day.
Is it possible?
Oh, yes, yes.
Henschel, I'd better leave you alone now. But when it's agreeable to
you--to-morrow maybe, I'd like to talk over some business with you.
I'd rather you went ahead right now.
It's about the thousand crowns ...
Before we says any more, Mr. Siebenhaar. You c'n just keep that money
till winter. Why should I be lyin' to you? You see? I don't need the
money. I don't care exackly when I gets it; an' that it's safe, I'm
satisfied o' that.
Well, Henschel, in that case I'm very grateful to you. You're doing me a
great favour. During the summer I take in money; you know that. Just now
it would have been difficult for me.
Well, you see, so we c'n agree fine.
[_Walking to and fro._] Yes, yes, I sometimes wonder over myself. I grew
up in this house. And yet, to-day, if I could but make a decent closing
out, I could leave it quite calmly.
I wouldn't like to go, I must say. I wouldn't hardly know where to go to.
Things have moved ahead with you, Henschel. But the same set of
conditions that has counted in your favour, has been that against which
I've had to struggle to keep my head above water.
The shoe pinches one man in this place an' another man in that. Who's
goin' to say which is worse off? You see, I got a good, hard blow, too.
An' if I'm goin' to recover ... well, I don't hardly feel like myself
Henschel, there's a time for everything! You'll have to conquer that now.
You must go out among people, hear things, see things, drink a glass of
beer once in a while, plunge into business, perhaps--somehow, put an end
to this sad business. It can't be helped, and so--forward!
'Tis just as you say! You're quite right!
To be sure, your wife was the best, most faithful woman. There's only one
opinion about that. But you are in the full current of life, Henschel;
you're in your best years; you still have a great deal to do in the
world: who knows how much. You needn't forget your wife on that account;
on the contrary. And that's entirely out of the question in the case of a
man like you. But you must honour her memory in a saner way. This kind of
brooding does no good. I've been watching you for a good while and I
determined, without saying anything, to make a really strong appeal to
you one day. You're letting yourself be actually downed.
But what's a man to do against it? You're right--that you are; but times
I hardly know what to do! You say: Plunge into business. But there's
somethin' lackin' all around. Four eyes sees better'n two; four
hands--they c'n do a sight more. Now I got all these coaches here in the
summer! An' there's no one to see to things at home! 'Tis not easy, I c'n
tell you that.
I thought that Hanne was quite a capable girl.
Well, you see, she's given me notice, too.--'Tis too hard for a man to
get along without a wife. Yon can't depend on no one. That's just it;
that's just what I says!
Why don't you marry, Henschel?
'Twould be best!--What c'n I do without a wife? A man like me can't get
along without one. I was thinking in fact, of goin' upstairs an' askin'
the missis if, maybe, she could give me some advice in that direction.
She died an' left me alone in the midst of all these worries.--An', also,
to tell you the truth, this business of mine's not what it used to be.
How long is it goin' to be before the railroad comes here? Well, you see,
we'd put by a little, an' we wanted to buy a small inn--maybe in two
years or so. Well, that can't be done without a woman neither.
True. You won't be able to get along this way permanently. You can't
remain a widower the rest of your life. If for no other reason but for
the child's sake.
That's what I always says.
Of course I have no right to interfere in your affairs. Still, we're old
friends. To wait, Henschel, just on account of what people will
think--that's sheer nonsense, no more, no less. If you are quite
seriously thinking of marrying again, it would be better both for you and
for the child if you did it soon. You needn't be overhasty; assuredly
not! But if you've quite made up your mind, then--go straight ahead! Why
should you hesitate? [_After a pause during which HENSCHEL scratches his
head._] Have you any one particular in view?
--If I got some one in view? That's what you'd like to know? Maybe I has.
Only I can't marry her.
But why not?
You know it yourself.
I? I know it? How's that?
All you got to do is a little thinkin'.
[_Shaking his head._] I can't say that I recall at this moment.
Didn't I have to go an' promise my wife ...
------?--Oh, yes!!--You mean the girl--Hanne?--
I been thinkin' an' thinkin'. There's no use in denyin' it. When I wakes
up during the night, I can't sleep for a couple o' hours sometimes. I got
to be thinkin' of it all the time. I can't get over it any way!--The
girl's a good girl. She's a bit young for an old fellow like me, but she
c'n work enough for four men. An' she's taken very kindly to Gustel; no
mother could do more'n she. An' the girl's got a head on her, that's
sure, better'n mine. She c'n do sums better'n I can. She might go an' be
a calculator. She knows a bit o' business to the last farthing, even if
six weeks have come an' gone since. I believe she could make a fool o'
Well, if you're so thoroughly convinced of all that ...!
There wouldn't be no better wife for me! An' yet ... an' yet! I can't get
I do remember quite dimly now what you mean. It was quite at the end of
her life.--But I confess to you quite frankly: I didn't take that matter
so very seriously. Your wife was in a very excited condition. And that
was caused largely by her illness.--I can't think that that is the main
question. The real question must finally be whether Hanne is really
suitable for you! She has her advantageous qualities: no doubt about
that. There are things about her that I like less. However: who hasn't
some faults. People say that she has a child.
That she has. I've inquired. Well, even so. I don't care nothin' about
that. Was she to wait for me, eh? She didn't know nothin' about me when
that happened. She's hot-blooded; all right. That'll come out somehow.
When the pears is ripe, they falls to the ground. On that account--no,
that don't trouble me none.
Well, then! The other matter is trivial. Perhaps not trivial exactly. I
can well understand how it's taken hold of you. Still, one must get free
of it. To be bound by it, in spite of one's saner thought--that's clearly
I've said that to myself ten times over. You see, my wife she didn't
never want anythin' but what was for my best good. I mean, in the days
when she was well. She wouldn't want to stand in my way. Wherever she is,
maybe, she'd want to see me get along.
Well, I went out to her grave to-day. The missis had a wreath put there
too. I thought to myself I'd better go there, that's what I thought.
Maybe she'll be sendin' you some message. Mother, I said in my thoughts,
give me a sign. Yes or no! Anyway you answers, that way it'll be! An' I
stood, there half an hour.--I prayed, too, an' I put it all to her--just
to myself, o' course--about the child an' the inn an' that I don't know
what to do in my business--but she didn't give me no sign.
_HANNE enters throwing sidelong glances at the two men, but at once
going energetically to work. She puts the washbench and tub aside and
busies herself at the stove._
[_To HENSCHEL._] God give the dead peace and blessedness. You are a man;
you're in the midst of life. Why should you need signs and miracles? We
can find our way in this world by depending with fair certainty on our
reason. You simply go your way. You're captain on your own ship.
Overboard with all these fancies and sickly notions! The more I think of
your plan, the more rational it seems to me ...
Hanne, what do you say about it?
I don't know. How c'n I tell what you're talkin' about?
You just wait: I'll tell you later.
Well, good morning, Henschel. I'll see you later. Meanwhile--good luck!
I'll hope I'll have it.
I'm not worried about you. You had a lucky way with you always.
Yon shouldn't be sayin' it! 'Tis bad luck.
If you spits three times, it'll take the curse off.
I can't help thinkin' as you're too good.
What makes you think so?
People just robs you: that's what I says.
Did you think he wanted somethin' of me?
Well, what else? He ought to be ashamed to come beggin' o' poor people.
Hanne, you don't know what you're sayin'.
I knows well enough.
That's what you don't. An' you couldn't know. But some day, later on,
you'll come to understand.--Now I'll be goin' to the taproom an' buy me a
mug o' beer. It'll be the first time these eight weeks. After that we c'n
eat, an' after the dinner then--listen to me--then we might say a word to
each other. Then we c'n see how everythin' c'n be straightened out.--Or,
maybe, you don't care about it?
You was sayin' yourself: We c'n see.
An' that's what I says now. We c'n wait.
[_Works on undisturbed. When HENSCHEL is out of hearing, she suddenly
ceases, scarcely mastering her joyous excitement, she dries her hands and
tears off her apron. In involuntary triumph:_] I'll show you. Watch out!
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
THE THIRD ACT
_The same room as tn the two preceding acts._
_It is evening toward the end of November. A fire is burning in the
oven; a lighted candle stands on the table. The middle door is
closed. Muffled dance music penetrates into the room from the upper
stories of the house._
_HANNE, now MRS. HENSCHEL, sits by the table and knits; she is neatly
and suitably clad in a dress of blue cotton, and wears a red kerchief
across her breast._
_HILDEBRANT, the smith, enters. A small, sinewy person._
Good evenin', missis, where's your husband?
Gone to Breslau. He's fetchin' three new horses.
Then I s'pose he won't be comin' home to-day, eh?
Not before Monday.
Well, this is Saturday.--We've brought back the board waggon. It's
downstairs in the entry way. We had to renew all the four tires. Where's
He hasn't been with us this long time.
So he hasn't. 'Tis nonsense I'm talkin'. I mean the new servant. Is
He's gone along to Breslau.
Fact is I knows all about Hauffe. He comes down to the smithy an' just
stands aroun'. He's got nothin' to do yet.
People says he's beginnin' to drink.
I believes it. That's the way it goes. 'Tis bad for an old fellow like
that; nobody wants him now.--What's goin' on up there to-day?
How'd it be if we was to go up there too, missis. Why shouldn't we be
joinin' in a little waltz too?
They'd open their eyes pretty wide up there if we did.--But what is it
you want of Henschel?
His honour, the judge, has a chestnut stallion that don't want to let
hisself be shoed. So we wanted to ax Henschel to step over. If he can't
get any beast to stand still, why then--! Well, good evenin', Mrs.
[_Listens to a dragging noise out in the passage._] What kind of a noise
is that there? [_She steps forward and opens the door._] Who's makin' all
that racket out there?
[_Comes dancing in._] Get out of the way, Mrs. Henschel! I have no time.
[_She whirls about in the room to the measure of the waltz heard from
Well, this is a fine way to act! What's the matter with you? Did a mad
dog bite you, maybe?
_FRANZISKA dances on and hums the melody of the waltz._
[_More and more amused._] For heaven's sake! Somethin's goin' to happen
to you!--No, girl, you're goin' clear out o' your mind!
[_Sinks exhausted into a chair as the music breaks off._] Oh, Mrs.
Henschel, I could dance myself to death!
[_Laughing._] At this here rate I believes you! It makes a body feel
dizzy just to watch you.
Don't you dance at all?
Me? If I dance? To be sure I do. 'Twasn't once or twice only that I got a
pair o' new shoes an' danced 'em to pieces in one night!
Come and dance with me then!
Why don't you go upstairs an' dance with the folks there?
Oh, if only I might! Do you know what I'll do? I'll sneak up! I'll sneak
into the gallery! Have you ever been up there? The bags of prunes stand
up there. I go up there quite boldly and look down, and eat prunes. Why
shouldn't I look down from there?
An' maybe Siebenhaar'll send for you to come down.
I just stare down as bold as you please. I don't care a bit. And whenever
a lady dances with Mr. Siebenhaar, I pelt her with plum pits.
You're crazy about Siebenhaar--that's certain!
Well, he's a real swell--that's what none of the others are. [_The music
is heard again._] Ah, they're starting. That's a polka! [_Dancing
again._] I'd like to dance with Mr. Siebenhaar this minute. D'you know
what I'd do? I'd just kiss him before he knew what was happening.
Siebenhaar'd be too old for me!
Your husband is just as old, Mrs. Henschel.
Look here, girl, I want you to know that my husband is a good five years
Well, he looks much older anyhow. Why, he looks so old and wrinkled. No,
I wouldn't care to kiss him.
You better see about getting out o' here, or I'll take a broom an' help
you along! Don't you abuse my husband! An' where would I get a better
one? You wait till you're a few years older an' you'll see what it means
in this world to have a husband!
I won't marry at all. I'll wait till some fine, rich gentleman
comes--some summer--for his health--a Russian, by preference--and then
I'll let him take me out into the world. I want to see the world--to
wander far--I want to go to Paris. And then I'll write you about myself,
I do believe you'll run off some day!
You can wager anything that I will. Mr. Siebenhaar was in Paris, too, you
know, during the revolution in 'forty-eight, and he can tell you the most
interesting stories! Oh, I'd like to see a revolution like that some day
too. They build barricades ...
Franziska! Franziska! Where are you keeping yourself again?
Sh! Don't say anything!
Sh! Keep still! He wants me to serve at the bar. And that's horrid and I
won't do it!
It's papa's or mama's place to do that. Or they can hire a waiter. I
won't be turned into a bar maid.
That's not the worst kind o' thing!
Oh, if there were real gentlemen to serve! But they're just
well--attendants, coachmen and miners. Much obliged for such company! I
don't care about it!
If I was you, I'd do that reel easy. An' I'd be gettin' good tips. You
could save a good many pennies an' put by a nice sum.
I won't accept pennies and farthings. And if some time Mr. Siebenhaar or
the architect or Dr. Valentiner gives me a present, I spend it on
sweetmeats right away.
Ah, that's just it. You're your father's daughter. An' your mother wasn't
much different neither. You people don't take care o' the business you
has! If you'd ha' done so you'd have money out at interest this day.
We're not as stingy as you, that's all.
I'm not stingy. But you got to keep your substance together.
People say you're stingy, though!
People c'n be--! An' you too! Hurry now an' get out o' here! I'm sick o'
your jabberin' now! An' you don't need to come back here neither! I
haven't been longin' for you, exackly! 'Tis best not to see or hear
anything o' the whole crowd o' you.
[_Turning once more at the door, with angry malice._] Do you know what
else people say?
I don't want to know nothin'! Get out o' here! You look out that you
don't get to hear things about yourself! Who knows what's between you an'
Siebenhaar? You two knows it an' I knows it too. Otherwise you'd ha' been
kicked out twenty times over with your slovenly management! Teach me to
Fy, fy and fy again!
_The middle door has remained open. SIEBENHAAR and the waiter GEORGE,
coming from different directions along the passage way, are seen to
meet at the door. GEORGE affects the height of Vienna fashions--hat,
cane, long overcoat, gay tie._
What are you after here?
You'll forgive me but I have some business with Drayman Henschel.
Henschel is not at home. You've been told three times now that there is
no place for you in my house. If you can't remember that henceforth I
shall be compelled to have your memory assisted by--the constable.
I beg your pardon very humbly, Mr. Siebenhaar, but I begs to submit that
I don't come to see you. These people lives in your house. An' you can't
prove nothin' as touchin' the question of my honour.
Very well. Only, if I should meet you again I'll have the porter kick you
out. So you had better act accordingly.
_[Enters the room cursing.]_ I'll take that there risk! We'll see about
[_Closes the door, with difficulty mastering her rage toward
SIEBENHAAR._] We're here, too, I'd have him know. Just let him try it!
This here is our room, not his room, an' anybody that comes here comes to
us an' not to him! He's got no right to say nothin' about it!
We'll just wait an' see--that's all I says. He might have to pay good an'
dear for that. That kind o' thing takes a man to the pen. He got hisself
into a nasty mess with Alphonse, who was here two years ago. But he'd be
gettin' into a worse mess with me. A hundred crowns o' damages'd be too
little for me.
An' he hasn't got no hundred crowns in his pocket--the damned bankrupt!
He's been borrowing of everybody in the county. He's got nothin' but
debts; you hear that on all sides. 'Twon't be long before there won't be
nothin' left an' he'll have to leave the house hisself instead o' puttin'
other people out of it!
[_Has recovered his overcoat, hung up his hat, and is now picking off the
little feathers from his coat and trousers._] That's right! An' that's no
secret to nobody. Even the people that come here year in an' out says the
same. An' nobody is sorry for him; no, they're willin' it should happen
to him. My present boss, he can't stand him neither. He gets reel
venomous if you so much as mention Siebenhaar's name. [_Takes a
pocket-mirror and comb from his pocket and smooths his hair._] Lord
knows, he says, there's more tricks to that man than a few.
I believes that; I s'ppose he's right there.
Now then, Hanne, has you got somethin' warm for me?
Why didn't you come yesterday?
You thinks I c'n get off every day, don't you? 'Twas hard enough to get
to come here to-day! Yesterday I was busy till three o'clock in the
What was it happened?
There was a meetin' o' the fire board. They bought a new engine, an' so
they wanted to celebrate the purchase. That's how they came to have a
All they wants is an excuse to swill. An' all that while I sat till late
at night and waited. Once--I don't know, but it must ha' been a bird
flyin' against the window--I thought 'twas you, an' so I went to the
window an' opened it. After that I was that mad, I couldn't sleep half
Oh, pshaw! What's the use o' havin' things like that spoil one's temper.
[_He puts his arms around her._] That's nothin'! Nothin' at all.
[_Frees herself from his embrace._] Oh, I don't know! 'Tis true--I don't
know how it comes--but things seem to go contrary with a body. Henschel
sits aroun' at home the whole week, an' now that he's gone for a bit, we
has to let the time slide away!
Well, we got plenty o' time to-day. He don't come back till Monday, I
Who knows if it's true!
I don't know no reason why it shouldn't be true!
That man is bound to sit aroun' at home. 'Twasn't half as bad formerly.
He used to go on trips weeks at a time; nowadays he whines if he's got to
sleep away from home a single night. An' if he says: I'll stay three
days, he mostly comes back on the second--Listen ... I believe they've
come already! Who else'd be crackin' whips like that in the yard?
[_After he has listened, in a restrained tone:_] The devil take 'em
all--the whole damned crowd! A man hasn't had time to get warm a bit. I
s'pose I'll have to leave right off, eh? I thought it'd be mighty
different, I must say!
[_He slips his overcoat back on and takes up his hat._
[_Tears his hat from his head._] You stay right here! What d'you want to
run off for? D'you think I got to be scared o' Henschel. He's got to come
to my terms. I don't has to think about him. If you'd come yesterday!--I
told you ...! Then nobody wouldn't ha' interrupted us, no Henschel an' no
Siebenhaar. To-day the devil's broke loose!
_The horse dealer WALTHER enters--a handsome, vigorous fellow of
forty. Bashly cap, fur jacket, hunting stockings and tall boots; his
mits are fastened by cords._
Missis, your husband is outside in the yard. I'm just comin' in for a
minute to bid you good evenin'. I got to ride off again straight way.
He's bought some fine Flemish horses. An' he's brought along something
else, for you too.
I thought he wouldn't be comin' back till Monday.
An' that's the way it would ha' been. But we couldn't ride on horseback
no farther'n Kanth. There we had to take the train with the horses or
they'd ha' broken their necks an' their limbs. Travellin' was that bad on
account o' the sleet.
You makes better time with the train--that's certain!
What kind of a feller is that there? Why, you're tryin' to be invisible,
eh? Well, if that isn't little George--I do believe! Why, you looks like
a natural born baron!
A man earns more over there in the "Star" hotel. I has a much more
profitable position. Here I had to work till my clothes dropped from me
in rags. I was most naked in the end; now I'm beginnin' to buy somethin'
Now guess, missis, what your husband has brought home for you!
Well, what is it?
I wager you'll be mighty glad of that present!
We'll see. It depends on what it is.
Good luck to you then. I got to hurry or my wife'll get ugly.
Good luck to you.
I might as well come along. Good night, Mrs. Henschel.
Didn't you want to see Henschel about somethin'?
There's plenty o' time for that. There's no hurry.
If you got somethin' to say to him you'd better wait till to-morrow. He's
got different kinds o' things in his mind to-day. D'you know what he's
bringin' you, missis?
What should he be bringin' me? Don't talk so much nonsense.
Why, he's bringin' you your daughter!
--What's that he's bringin'? I didn't hear right!
We was in Quolsdorf and fetched her.
You're drunk, the two o' ye, eh?
No, no, I'm tellin' you the truth.
Who did you get?
He didn't tell me nothin' about it. All of a sudden we was in the pub at
Quolsdorf an' sat down there.
Well, an' what then?
We was sittin' there an' then, after a little while, your father came in
with the bit of a girl.
'Tis no girl o' mine!
I don't know nothin' about that! I knows this much though: he's got the
child out there. He went up to your father an' he said: The child's a
pretty child.--Then he took her in his arms an' petted her. Shall I take
you with me, he axes her, an' she was willin' right off.
Well, an' my father?
Well, your father didn't know who Henschel was!
Better an' better! An' is that all?
[_Almost addressing GEORGE now._] No, there was nothin' more. He just
took the little one out an' said to your father: I'll let the lass ride
horseback. An' she kept cryin' out: Lemme ride! Lemme ride! Then Henschel
mounted his great Flemish horse an' I had to hand the child up to him.
After that he said: Good-bye, an' rode off.
An' father just stood there an' looked on?
What was he goin' to do about it? The whole village might ha' turned out
for all the good it would ha' done. When once Henschel lays his hands on
somethin'--I wouldn't advise nobody to cross him! An' there's no one in
the county that likes to pick a quarrel with him neither! Your father, he
didn't know what was goin' on. Then suddenly, o' course, he roared like
fury an' cried out an' cursed more'n enough. But the people just laughed.
They knew Henschel. An' he--Henschel--he just said reel quiet: Good luck
to you, father Schäl; I'm takin' her along. The mother is waitin' for her
at home. Stop drinkin'! he said, an' maybe there'll be a place with us
for you some day, too.
Good-bye, I think I'll maybe drop in to-morrow.
An' so he thinks I'm goin' to keep her here. I'll never do that--never in
the world. She's no child o' mine! How would I be lookin' before people?
First in Quolsdorf, then here! Didn't I work an' worry enough? Day an'
night, you might say, I was busy with Gustel. An' now the weary trouble
is to begin all over again. That'd be fine, wouldn't it? He'd better take
_HENSCHEL appears in the middle door. He is also clad in leathern
breeches, fur jacket, tall boots, etc., just as he has dismounted. He
leads by the hand a little girl of six--ragged and unwashed._
[_Almost merrily referring to HANNE'S last words, which he has
overheard._] Who's to take care?
--Oh, I don't know!
Look, Hanne, look who comes here! [_To the child._] Go ahead, Berthel,
an' say good evenin'. Go on an' say it! Say: Good evenin', mama!
_BERTHEL leaving HENSCHEL unwillingly and walks, encouraged by
friendly little shoves from him, diagonally across the room to where
HANNE, assuming a disgruntled attitude, sits on the bench._
[_To the child, who stands helplessly before her._] What do you want
I rode on such a pitty horsie?
_HENSCHEL and WALTHER laugh heartily._
Well now we'll keep her here. Hallo, Hanne! Are you angry about anythin'?
You are sayin' you wouldn't be back till Monday. There's not a bite for
supper in the house now.
There'll be a bit o' bread an' bacon.
[_He hangs up his cap._
[_Pulling ungently at BERTHEL'S clothes._] How'd you get this way?
You'll soon have to buy her somethin' to put on! She's got hardly nothin'
on her little body. 'Twas a good thing I had plenty o' blankets along, or
she'd ha' been half froze on the way. [_After he has removed his fur
jacket and warmed his hands._] Best thing would be to put her right
straight in a tub.
Best thing would ha' been if you'd ha' left her where she was.
What did you say?
I thought you were sayin' somethin'.--Into the tub with her! An' then to
bed! An' you might go over her head a bit! I believe she's got a little
colony there. [_BERTHEL cries out._] What's the matter? Don't tug at her
Oh, don't cry, girl! That'd be the last straw!
You must be a bit friendly with her. The lass is thankful for every kind
word. Be quiet, Berthel, be quiet!
I want to go to father!
You're with mother now! Mother is good!--I'm reel satisfied that we has
her with us. 'Twas the highest time. A bit longer an' we might ha' had to
look for her in the graveyard.
That wasn't half as bad as you're tryin' to make out.
[_In some consternation but still kindly._] What's the meanin' o' that?
Well, good luck to you all. I'll have to be goin'.
Wait a bit an' drink a glass o' toddy.
If there were only some rum in the house!
Well, you can fetch it from Wermelskirch's!
I don't want to have nothin' to do with those people!
No, no. I got to go home. I got no time. I got to be ridin' half an hour
yet. [_To HANNE._] I don't want to be a bother to you.
Who mentioned such a thing?
[_Humorously._] Nothin'! I didn't say nothin' at all. God forbid! I won't
let myself in for nothin'. You're a hard customer. Good-bye an' good
Good-bye, an' don't forget a greetin' to the wife!
[_Already from outside._] All right! Good night! I won't forget nothin'.
Well, didn't I do the right thing this time?
What is I to say to people?
--You're not goin' to be ashamed o' your own daughter!
Who's sayin' I is, eh? 'Tis all the same to me! You're willin' to have
'em say evil o' me. You force 'em to it! [_Harshly to the child._] Here,
drink this milk! An' then off to bed with you! [_BERTHEL drinks._]
Are you goin' to go on this way?
Go on how?
With the child!
I'm not goin' to bite her; there's no fear!
[_She takes the still weeping child into the little room to bed._
[_Speaking after her._] She's not here to be bitten. I needn't ha'
brought her, you know!
[_A brief pause, after which HANNE returns._
A man can't never know how to please you. There's no gettin' along with
women folks. You always acted as if....
[_With tears of rage._] That's a lie if you want to know it!
What's a lie!
[_As above._] I never bothered you about Berthel. I never so much as
mentioned her to you!
I didn't say you had. Why d'you howl so? On that account, because you
didn't say nothin', I wanted to help you in spite o' your silence.
But couldn't you ha' asked? A man ought to say somethin' before he does a
thing like that!
Well now, I'll tell you somethin': This is Saturday night. I hurried all
I could so's to be at home again. I thought you'd meet me different! But
if it's not to be, it can't be helped. Only, leave me in peace! You
Nobody's robbin' you o' your peace.
D'you hear me? I want my peace an' that's all. You brought me to that
point. I didn't think nothin' but what was good doin' this thing. Gustel
is dead. She won't come back no more. Her mother took her to a better
place. The bed is empty, an' we're alone. Why shouldn't we take care o'
the little lass? That's the way I thinks an' I'm not her father! You
ought to think so all the more, 'cause you're the child's mother!
There you are! You're beginnin' to throw it up to me this minute!
If you don't stop I'll go to Wermelskirch an' not come back all night!
D'you want to drive me out o' the house?--I'm always hopin' things'll be
different, but they gets worse ... worse! I thought maybe if you had your
child with you, you'd learn a little sense. If these goin's on don't end
All I say is this: If she stays in the house an' if you tell people that
she's mine ...
They all know it! I don't have to tell 'em.
Then you c'n take your oath on it--I'll run away!
Run, run all you can--all you want to! You ought to be ashamed o'
yourself to the bottom o' your heart!
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
THE FOURTH ACT
_The tap room in WERMELSKIRCH'S public house. A flat, whitewashed
room with a door leading to the inner rooms of the house on the left.
The rear wall of this room is broken, toward its middle. The opening
leads to a second, smaller, oblong room. On the right wall of this
second room there is a glass door leading out into the open and,
farther forward, a window. On the rear wall of the main room the bar
is situated, filled with square whisky-bottles, glasses, etc. The
beer is also on draught there. Highly varnished tables and chairs of
cherry wood are scattered about the room. A red curtain divides the
two rooms. In the oblong rear room are also chairs and tables and, in
the extreme background, a billiard table. Lithographs, representing
mainly hunting scenes, are hung on the walls._
_WERMELSKIRCH, in a dressing gown and smoking a long pipe, sits on
the left, himself playing the piano. Three members of the voluntary
fire-corps play billiards. In the foreground to the right HAUFFE sits
brooding over a glass of whisky. He is noticeably shabby. MRS.
WERMELSKIRCH, a gipsy-like, slovenly old woman, is rinsing glasses
behind the bar. FRANZISKA is crouching on a window ledge at the right
playing with a kitten. The waiter GEORGE is standing at the bar over
a glass of beer. He has an elegant spring suit on, as well as
patent-leather shoes, kid-gloves and a top-hat set far back on his
[_Plays and sings._]
"When I was prince in realms Arcadian,
I lived in splendour and in wealth."
[_Who has accompanied the music by dancing gestures._] Go on, go on with,
[_Coughing affectedly._] Can't be done! Quite hoarse! Anyhow ...
pshaw!... I'll try again.
"When I was prince ...." [_He coughs._]
"When I was prince in realms Arcadian,
I lived in splen ... I lived in splen ... "!
The devil take it!
Aw, why don't you go on? That was quite right! That was fine!
I see myself trying! It's all over with me!
I don't understand you! That's the finest kind o' chamber music!
[_Laughing._] Chamber music!
Well, maybe not! I don't know the differences so well. Hallo, Miss
Franziska, what are you laughin' at?
I'm laughing at your beautiful patent-leather boots.
Go right ahead! You don't expect me to go barefoot. Give that man over
there a glass of beer. How would you like a bit o' cordial, Miss
Franziska? You're right, my boots is pretty fine ones. They cost me
twenty crowns. Why not? I c'n stand the expense; I'm able to do it! In
the "Sword" hotel a man c'n at least earn somethin'. To be sure, while I
was at the "Star" I couldn't ha' bought no boots like this.
So you like it better at the "Sword"?
I should say so! A boss like I got now, a reel good fellow--I never had
before long's I've been in the business. We're like old friends--like
brothers. I could say most anythin' to him!
Well, that's very different from Siebenhaar.
_FRANZISKA laughs out._
An' that just shows you: Pride goeth before a fall. Two or three weeks
an' he'll be under the hammer. Then I c'n buy myself his gold watch.
You'd better buy the whole house!
Not just now. You got to wait for the proper time to do a thing like
that. An' anyhow, it's sold. Your health, gentlemen!... Your health,
gentlemen! When you're through, I'll order more! What's the name o' the
man that bought the house? Exner? Eh? He's goin' to bottle the spring
water an' export it. He's goin' to rent out the hotel.--I'd rent it this
minute if I had the money.
Why don't you go to Henschel? He'll give it to you.
That wouldn't be as much out o' the question as you thinks.
No, that a fac'! You're on pretty good terms with the wife!
[_FRANZISKA laughs aloud._]
Well, why shouldn't I be. That there woman's not half bad. I tell you, a
fellow that knows how, c'n make the women feed out o' his hand!
Well, if you know enough to make Mrs. Henschel feed out o' your hand, you
must know your business pretty well. I'll say that for you.
_FABIG enters, the cord of his pack around his shoulders. He sits
down modestly in a corner._
Well, there you are; that's what I'm tellin' you! There's pretty few that
could come up to me that way. But a man has to be on the lookout, or he'd
get a good beatin' an' that's all!
Well, you're not through with it yet yourself. [_SIEBENHAAR enters from
the left._] Where Henschel strikes down the grass stops growing. Your
servant, Mr. Siebenhaar!
[_Somewhat pale._] Good morning!
I think I'll play a game o' billiards.
[_He takes up his glass and disappears behind the curtain in the
[_Sitting down at a table near the piano._] Weren't you just singing, Mr.
Wermelskirch? Don't let me interrupt you, please.
What? I? Singing? That's hardly possible! You know how deeply this
business affects me. But if you say so it must be true. Permit me to sit
down by you. Bring me a glass of beer, too, Franziska!
When one considers that you were completely hoarse three or four years
ago, you must admit that you've recuperated remarkably.
You're quite right. But what good does it do me? I've half way crawled
out of the slough. But who knows what'll happen now?
[_Places a glass of beer before SIEBENHAAR; to WERMELSKIRCH:_] I'll bring
yours at once.
[_Having drunk._] What do you mean by that, exactly?
I don't know that I can tell you very exactly what I do mean. But I feel
something in my bones. I believe there'll be a change in the weather.
Jesting aside--I have all kinds of omens that are familiar to an old
actor. When the waters here began to do me so much good, I knew certainly
that ten horses couldn't drag me away. And it wasn't a month before my
road company had gone to smash. Now I suppose I'll have to wander on in
the same old way again--who knows whither?
Who knows whither? That's the way of the world. As for me--I'm not sorry!
Ah, but you're a man in the prime of life. The world has a place for a
man like you everywhere. It's different with an old fellow like me. If I
lose my means of making a living, I mean, if I'm given notice, what is
there left me, I'd like to know? I might actually get me a hurdy-gurdy
and Franziska could go about and collect the pennies.
That wouldn't embarrass me a bit, papa!
Not if it were to rain gold pieces!
And, anyhow, papa, how you always talk! You could go back on the stage!
Not even at a monkey-show, girlie!
Did Mr. Exner intimate anything to you? According to what he told me he
meant to leave everything pretty much as it is.
Well, I hardly belong to what could be summed up as "everything."
[_Approaching the table in great excitement._] I must say, Mr.
Siebenhaar, I must say ... And you can take my word for it! I'm an old
woman of fifty and I've seen a good deal of the world, but the way we've
been treated here--that's really--I don't know what to call it--but it's
just vulgar malice, the lowest kind of scheming, pure meanness. You can
take my word for that!
Oh, mother, are you starting in too? You'd better withdraw, if you don't
mind, and retire behind your barricade!
I'd like to know what our little Fanny did to that woman!
Oh, never mind, mama!
On the contrary! Are we to put up with everything? Isn't one to offer any
resistance if that woman robs us of our very bread--if she spreads
slander about our daughter? [_To SIEBENHAAR._] Did the child ever offend
you in any way?
Mama, mama! Come along now, mama, and rest a while. So! You spoke your
part very well indeed. You can repeat it to-night.
[_He leads her behind the bar where her sobbing is heard for some
[_Having resumed his seat._] She's quite right at bottom. I've heard all
kinds of rumours too, to the effect that Henschel will rent the barroom.
And, of course, his wife is behind that!
An' who else'd be back of it I'd like to know? If there's anythin' low
happenin' in the village nowadays, you don't has to go an ax who's back
of it! That Henschel woman's got the devil in her!
An' she's had her eye on the barroom this long time.
[_To_ HAUFFE.] One hardly ever sees you any longer, Hauffe? Where did you
Where d'you suppose? In misery an' hunger' An' who gave me the shove?
That damned crittur of a woman! Who else'd do it, I'd like to know! I
never had no trouble with Henschel!
His wife has the breeches on--that's all!
I wasn't quick enough for her no more. I'm not as young as I was--that's
a fac'! An' I don't go hangin' aroun' no woman's apron strings neither.
An' that there is what she wants. That's what you got to do with her!
She's a hot one--you might say--she don't never get enough.--But as for
workin': I c'n work! Them young fellers that she hires--they're that
stinkin' lazy.... I could do as much as any three of 'em.
One feels sorry for old Henschel.
If he's satisfied, I don't care. But he ought to know why my bones is
stiff! They didn't get stiff with lazyin' aroun', an' if that man has a
chest full o' money to-day, he knows who it is that helped him earn a
good lot of it!
I recall very well that you even worked for Wilhelm Henschel's father.
Well, who else but me! That's the way it is! An' I fed Wilhelm's horses
eighteen years an' more--hitched 'em up an' unhitched 'em--went on trips
summer an' winter. I drove 's far's Freiburg an' 's far's Breslau: I had
to drive 'way to Bromberg. Many a night I had to sleep in the waggon. I
got my ears an' my hands frost bitten: I got chilblains on both feet big
as pears. An' now he puts me out! Now I c'n go!
That's all the woman's doin's: he's a good man.
Why did he go an' load hisself with that wench! Now he can look out for
hisself! An' he couldn't hardly wait to do it decent. His first wife--she
wasn't hardly cold when he ran to get married to this one!
Well, no one knew her, of course.
I knew her well enough. O Lord--that I did! If he'd ha' axed me, I could
ha' told him! If he wanted to send Gustel after her mother, there wasn't
no surer way for him to take: all he had to do was to make Hanne the
Ah yes, yes ... well, well ... I'm not sayin' nothin' more. There's many
a one has shaken his head about that! But that'll be comin' home to him
some day. First people just wondered; now they'd believe anythin' of him.
That's undoubtedly mere idle talk.
_The horse dealer WALTHER enters in riding boots, hunting jacket and
cap. His whip is in his hand. He sits down at one of the tables and
beckons FRANZISKA to bring him beer._
You c'n say that. Maybe it's true. But if the dead was to come back an'
was to say their say--'tis old Mrs. Henschel that could tell you a thing
or two. She couldn't live an' she didn't want to live! An' what's the
main thing--she wasn't to live!
Hauffe, you'd better take care! If Henschel were to get wind of that ...
I wouldn't have to take care if he did! I'd say that to anyone's face.
Old Mrs. Henschel--she was meant to die! If they pisened her, I couldn't
say; I wasn't on the spot. But that thing didn't happen no natural way.
She was a well woman; she might ha' lived thirty years.
_SIEBENHAAR drinks and rises._
I c'n bear witness that she was well. She was my own sister an' I ought
to know. She was in the way an' had to go.
_SIEBENHAAR leaves quietly._
Would you like a little snuff, gentlemen? [_Softly and confidentially._]
And don't you think, gentlemen, that you're going a little far? It seems
so to me. I wish you would watch the man. He sat here till quite late
yesterday. The man sighed so pitifully--there was no one else here--that
I really felt very sorry for him.
'Tis his bad conscience that's botherin' him!
Don't talk to me about Henschel! I'm sick o' hearin' about him. He an'
me--we're through with each other this long time.
No, no, Mr. Siebenhaar is right. One ought to feel sorry for him.
He c'n think about it what he pleases. I don't care. But what I ought to
think about Henschel--there's nobody that need tell me nothin' about
_HENSCHEL and the smith HILDEBRANT enter at the right. HENSCHEL is
carrying little BERTHA, more neatly dressed than formerly, on his
arm. A little pause of embarrassment falls upon the men._
Welcome, Mr. Henschel.
Good mornin', all of ye.
Well, Berthel, how are you?
Say thank you! Well, can't you talk?--We gets along. A body has to be
satisfied. Good mornin', brother. [_He stretches out his hand carelessly
to WALTHER who takes it in the same fashion._] How are you? How's
I gets along as usual. 'Twouldn't be bad if it was better! You're a
reg'lar nurse girl nowadays!
True, true! 'Tis almost that!