Part 3 out of 9
You're hardly ever seen without the girl. Can't you leave her with her
She's always scourin' an' workin'. The little thing is just in her way!
[_He sits down on a bench along the wall near the bar, not far from his
brother-in-law. He keeps the little girl on his lap. HILDEBRANT sits down
opposite him._] How is it, Hildebrant, what shall we have? I think we've
earned a bumper o' beer? Two of 'em, then, an two glasses o' brandy.
That son of a--actually broke my skin!
Nothin' but a foal neither an' has the strength o'--... Good mornin',
He's a bit surly. Let's not bother him.
Mr. Henschel, won't you buy something o' me? A needle box for the wife,
maybe, or a pretty little comb to stick in the hair! [_All laugh._]
George, the waiter, he bought one too.
[_Laughing good-naturedly with the others._] Don't you come botherin' me
with your trash! [_To WERMELSKIRCH._] Give him a measure o' beer!--'Tis a
quaint little chap he is. Who is it?
'Tis Fabig from Quolsdorf, I think--the most mischievous little scamp in
Well, I got a little native from Quolsdorf here too.
[_To BERTHA._] We're good old friends, eh?
[_To FABIG._] Why don't you dive me some nuts?
Aha, she knows who I is! I'll look an' see if I c'n find some!
Outside in the waggon!
No, they're here in my pocket! [_He gives them to the child._] You see,
you don't get out o' the pubs. Long ago your grandfather took you along;
now you got to go about with Henschel.
[_To BERTHA._] Tell him to attend to his bit o' trash! Tell him you're
bein' looked out for! Tell him that!
_GEORGE comes vivaciously out of the billiard room._
[_Without noticing HENSCHEL._] Well,--I never saw the likes o' that! That
there feller c'n eat glass like anythin'. Put it down on the reckoning,
Miss Franziska: a lot o' beer! There's five o' us!
[_Has taken BERTHA on her arm. She goes with the child behind the bar._]
Bertha won't permit it; I can't do it now!
Good heavens, Mr. Henschel, there you are too!
[_Without noticing GEORGE, to HILDEBRANT._] Your health, Hildebrant!
[_They clink their glasses and drink._
[_To GEORGE who, a little taken aback, lights his cigar at one of the
tables._] Tell me this, mister George, you're a kind of a wizard, eh?
Well, I do declare! What makes you think so?
'Cause a while ago, you was gone like a light that's blown out.
Well, what's the use o' huntin' for disagreeable things. Siebenhaar an'
me--we can't agree, that's all.
[_With the gesture of boxing another's ears._] People do say that
somethin' happened.--[_Passing by, to HAUFFE._] Did you win in the
You damned vermin!
Yes, that's just what I am.
Is it true that you're working down at Nentwich's now?
What business is it o' yours?
[_Laughing and quite even-tempered._] Now look at that feller. He pricks
like a weasel wherever you touches him.
I s'pose you'll be our host here pretty soon now?
[_After he has glanced at him in astonishment._] That's the first ever
I've heard of it!
Oh, I thought! I don't know exackly who 'twas that told me.
[_Drinking: indifferently._] Whoever told you that must ha' been
In this here house everythin' is bein' turned upside down now. An' what I
says is this: You'll be all sighin' to have Siebenhaar back some day.
[_To HAUFFE._] You might go over to Landeshut. I got two coach horses
standin' there. You might ride them in for me.
The hell I will--that's what I'll do for you.
[_Laughing and calmly._] Well, now you c'n sit there till you gets blue
in the face. I won't concern myself that much about you!
You c'n keep busy sweepin' before your own door.
'Tis well, 'tis well. We'll let that there be.
You got filth enough in your own house!
Hauffe, I tell you right now: I wouldn't like to do it. But if you're
goin' to start trouble here--I tell you that--I'll kick you out!
Peace, gentlemen! I beg of you: peace!
You're not the host here an' you can't kick nobody out! You has no more
right to say anythin' here than me! I don't let you nor nobody tell me to
hold my tongue. No, not you an' not your wife, no matter how you scheme,
you two! That don't scare me an' don't bother me that much!
_Without any show of anger, HENSCHEL grasps HAUFFE by the chest and
pushes him, struggling in vain, toward the door. Just before reaching
it he turns slightly, opens the door, puts HAUFFE out, and closes it
again. During this scene the following colloquy takes place:_
Let go, I tell you! I just warn you: let go!
Mr. Henschel, that won't do; I can't permit that!
I gave you fair warnin'! There's no help for you now.
Are you goin' to choke me? Let go, I tell you! You're not the host here!
[_From behind the bar._] What's the meaning of this? That will never do,
Ludwig! You can't permit yourself to be treated that way!
[_While HENSCHEL, holding HAUFFE, is rapidly approaching the door._] You
might as well let it be. There's nothin' to be done. That there man--he's
like an athlete. He'll bite his teeth into the edge of a table, and he'll
lift the table up for you so steady, you won't notice a glass on it
shakin'. If he went an' took the notion, I tell you, we'd all be flyin'
out into the street different ways!
_HAUFFE has been put out, HENSCHEL returns._
[_Resuming his seat amid a general silence._] He wouldn't give no
rest--he's that stubborn.
[_Who has come in out of the billiard room and drunk a glass of whisky at
the bar._] I'd like to pay. A man had better go. In the end anybody
might be flyin' out o' here, you know.
Yon take another glass of beer. That would be the last straw. After all,
I am still master here.
If that's the way you're goin' to do, Henschel, when you stands behind
the bar and runs this here place instead o' Wermelskirch--you won't keep
many customers, I c'n tell you that!
Customers like that don't matter.
You won't be able to pick 'em out, though. Hauffe don't pay with
counterfeit money neither.
He c'n pay anyway he wants to, for all I care. But I tell you again now:
Don't start that there business over again. I won't be takin' this place
at all. If I was goin' to take it, I ought to know better than anybody
else. Well, then: if I'm ready to buy a pub some day--I'll let you know!
Afterward you c'n give me your advice. An' if you don't like the place
an' don't patronise it--well, then, Lord A'mighty, you don't has to!
_The FIREMAN goes out slamming the door angrily behind him._
I s'pose it's just as well to go....
[_He prepares to pay his score._
Mr. Henschel, surely that isn't right of you. You drive my customers out.
Well, my goodness! Now tell me: If that man runs out, what has I to do
with it? For my part he can stay here till mornin'.
[_Pocketing his money again._] You got no right to put anybody out o'
here. You're not the host.
Anythin' else you know?
People knows a good deal. Only they rather keep still. Wermelskirch knows
that best of all!
Why I exactly? Now, look here, that's ...
[_Firmly and collectedly._] What is't you know? Out with it! One o' you
knows one thing an' another another, an' altogether you don't know that
[_In a changed tone._] If you were only the same man you used to be! But
God only knows what's gotten into you! In those days you had a standin'
among men. People came from far an' wide to get your advice. An' what you
said, that was--you might say--almost like the law o' the land. 'Twas
like Amen in church. An' now there's no gettin' along with you!
Go right ahead with your preachin'.
Very well, I s'pose you're noticin' it all yourself. Formerly, you had
nothin' but friends. Nowadays nobody comes to you no more; an' even if
they did want to come they stay away on account o' your wife. Twenty
years Hauffe served you faithful. Then, suddenly, he don't suit your
wife, an' you take him by the scruff an' put him out. What's the meanin'
o' that! That woman has but to look at you an' you're jumpin' at her
beck, instead o' goin' an' takin' a stout rope an' knockin' the
wickedness out o' her!
If you don't keep still this minute--I'll take you by the scruff too.
[_To HENSCHEL._] Don't forget yourself, whatever you do, Mr. Henschel!
That man don't know no better, you see.
[_Exit rapidly into the billiard room._
I believe, Henschel, if a man comes nowadays an' tells you the truth,
you're capable o' flingin' him against the wall. But a feller like that,
a worthless windbag like George--he c'n lie to you day an' night. Your
wife an' he--they c'n compete with each other makin' a fool o' you! If
you want to be cheated--all right! But if you got a pair o' eyes left in
your head, open 'em once an' look around you an' look at that there
feller good an' hard. Them two deceive you in broad daylight!
[_About to hurl himself upon WALTHER, masters his rage._] What did you
say--eh? Nothin'! Aw, it's all right.
It's reg'lar April weather this day. Now the sun shines an' now it blows
[_From without._] I'll pay you back for this! You watch out! You c'n let
it be now! We'll meet again: we'll meet at court--that's where.
[_Finishes his glass._] Good-bye. I'm meanin' well by you, Henschel.
[_Lays his hand about WALTHER'S wrist._] You stay here! Y' understan'?
What is I to do here?
You'll see for yourself. All I says is: You stay! [_To FRANZISKA._] Go
down an' tell my wife she's to come up!
But, dear Mr. Henschel, I beg you, for heaven's sake, don't cause a
scandal here! The police will be coming at me next, and then ...
[_In an outburst of towering, withering rage--bluish-red of face._] I'll
beat you all to death if Hanne don't come here--now!!!
[_In helpless perplexity._] Wilhelm, Wilhelm, don' go an' commit some
foolishness now! I wish I hadn't said nothin'. An' it didn't mean
nothin'. You know yourself how people will talk!
Wilhelm, you're a good man. Come to your senses! My God, how you look!
Think, man, think! Why, you fairly roared! What's the matter with you?
That must ha' been heard all over the house!
Anybody c'n hear me now that wants to. But you stay here an' Hanne is to
Why should I be stayin' here? I don't know what for! Your affairs--they
don't concern me a bit. I don't mingle in 'em an' I don't want to!
Then you should ha' thought before you spoke!
Everythin' else that's between us'll be settled in court. There we'll see
who's in the right. I'll get hold o' my money; never fear! Maybe you're
wife'll think it over once or twice before she goes an' perjures herself.
The rest don't concern me. I tell you to let me go. I has no time. I has
to go to Hartau, an' I can't be kept waitin' here.
What's happened here?
Goodness, gracious, I don't know! I don't know what Mr. Henschel wants!
[_Who continues to imprison WALTHER'S wrist._] Hanne is to come here:
[_To SIEBENHAAR._] The men were drinking their beer quite peacefully.
Suddenly Mr. Henschel came in and began a dispute as though he were
[_With a deprecating gesture._] All right; all right. [_To HENSCHEL._]
What's happened to you, Henschel?
Mr. Siebenhaar, it's no fault o' mine. I couldn't help things comin'
about this way. You may think what you please, Mr. Siebenhaar. I give you
my word--'twasn't my fault.
You needn't excuse yourself to me, Henschel. I know you're a man of
Yes. I was in your father's service long ago, an' even if it looks that
way a thousand times over--it wasn't my fault that this here has
happened. I don't know myself what I has done. I never was
quarrelsome--that's certain! But now things has come about ...! They
scratch an' they bite at me--all of 'em! An' now this man here has said
things o' my wife that he's got to prove--prove!!--or God help him!
Why don't you let the people gossip?
Proofs! Proofs! Or God help him!
I can prove it an' I will. There are not many people in this room that
don't know it as well as I. That there woman is on an evil way. 'Tis no
fault o' mine, an' I wouldn't ha' mentioned it. But I'm not goin' to let
you strike me. I'm no liar. I always speaks the truth! Ask it of anybody!
Ask Mr. Siebenhaar here on his honour an' conscience! The sparrows is
twitterin' it on every roof--an' worse things 'n that!
Think over what you're saying carefully, Walther.
He forces me to it! Why don't he let me go? Why is I to suffer for other
people? You know it all as well as I? How did you used to stand with
Henschel in other years when his first wife was alive? D'you think people
don't know that? An' now you don't cross his threshold.
The relations between us are our private affair. And I will not permit
remark or interference.
All right. But if first his wife dies, though she's as well as anybody,
an' when Gustel goes an' dies eight weeks later, then, I'm thinkin' it's
more'n a private affair!
What?--Hanne is to come!
_MRS. HENSCHEL enters suddenly and quickly, just as she has come from
her work and still drying her hands._
What're you roarin' about so?
'Tis well that you're here.--This man here says--
[_Makes a movement as if to go._] Damned rot that it ...
You're to stay here!
Are you all drunk together? What're you thinkin' of, anyhow? D'you think
I'm goin' to stay here an' play monkey tricks for you?
[_She is about to go._
Hanne, I advise you ... This man here says ...
Aw, he c'n say what he wants to, for all I cares!
He says that you deceive me before my face an' behind my back!
What? What? What? What?
That's what he says! Is he goin' to dare to say that? An' that ... my
Me? Lies! Damned lies!
[_She throws her apron over her face and rushes out._
That I ... that my wife ... that we together ... that our Gustel ... 'Tis
well! 'Tis well!
[_He releases WALTHER'S hand and lets his head sink, moaning, on the
I won't be made out a liar here.
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
THE FIFTH ACT
_The same room as in the first three acts. It is night, but the
moonlight throws a moderate brightness into the room. It is empty.
Several days have passed since the occurrences in the fourth act._
_A candle is lit in the small adjoining room; at the end of a few
seconds HENSCHEL enters, carrying the candle in a candlestick of tin.
He wears leathern breeches but his feet are cased in bedroom
slippers. Slowly he approaches the table, gazes hesitatingly first
backward, then toward the window, finally puts the candlestick on the
table and sits down by the window. He leans his chin on his hand and
stares at the moon._
[_Invisible, from the adjoining chamber, calls:_] Husband! Husband! What
are you doin' out there?--the same mortal foolishness all the time!
--[_She looks in, but half-clad._] Where are you? Come 'n go to bed! 'Tis
time to sleep! To-morrow you won't be able to go out again! You'll be
lyin' like a sack o' meal and everythin' 'll go upside down in the yard.
[_She comes out, half-clad as she is, and approaches HENSCHEL
hesitatingly and fearfully._] What are you doin', eh?
Why are you sittin' there an' not sayin' a word?
I'm lookin' at the clouds.
Oh, no, my goodness; it's enough to confuse a person's head! What's to be
seen up there, I'd like to know! The same worry, night after night.
There's no rest in the world for nobody no more. What are you starin' at?
Say somethin', won't you?
Up there!... That's where they are!
You're dreaming, eh? You, Wilhelm, wake up! Lay down in your bed an' go
to sleep. There's nothin' but clouds up there!
Anybody that has eyes c'n see what there is!
An' anybody that gets confused in his mind goes crazy.
I'm not confused.
MRS. HENSCHEL I'm not sayin' that you are! But if you go on actin' this
way, you will be!
[_She shivers, pulls on a jacket, and stirs the ashes in the oven
with a poker._
What time is it?
A quarter of two.
You've got a watch hangin' to you; it used to hang behind the door.
What fancies is you goin' to have next? 'Tis hangin' where it always did.
[_Rising._] I think I'll go over to the stables a bit.
I tells you to go to bed, or I'll raise an alarm. You got nothin' to do
in the stable now! 'Tis night, an' in bed is where you belong!
[_Remains standing quietly and looking at HANNE._] Where's Gustel?
What are you botherin' for? She's lyin' in bed asleep! What are you
always worritin' over the girl for? She don't lack for nothin'! I don't
do nothin' to her!
She don't lack for nothin'. She's gone to bed. She's gone to sleep
betimes--Gustel has. I don't mean Berthel.
[_Wailing, stuffs her apron into her mouth._] I'll run away! I won't stay
--Go to bed, go! I'll come too. Your cryin' can't help no more now. 'Tis
our Lord alone knows whose fault it is. You can't help it; you don't need
to cry.--Our Lord an' me--we two, we knows.
_[He turns the key in the door._
[_Hastily turning it back again._] Why d'you lock the door? I won't stand
bein' locked in.
I don't rightly know why I turned the key.
Them people has gone an' addled your brains for you! They'll have to
answer some day for the things they've put into your head! I took as good
care o' your girl as I did o' my own. She wouldn't ha' died o' that! But
I can't wake the dead. If a body is to die, she dies--in this world.
There's no holdin' people like that; they has to go. There never was much
strength in Gustel--you know that as well as I. Why do you go axin' me
an' lookin' at me as if I done God knows what to her!
[_Suspiciously._] Maybe you did somethin'. 'Tis not impossible.
[_Beside herself._] Oh, if somebody'd foretold this--I'd ha' gone beggin'
my bread first. No, no, O my goodness, if I'd ha' known that! To have to
listen to things like that! Didn't I want to go? An' who kept me back?
Who held me fast in the house here? I could ha' made my livin' any time!
I wasn't afraid; I could always work. But you didn't let up. Now I got my
reward. Now _I_ got to suffer for it!
'Tis true, maybe, that you has to suffer for it. Things comes _as_ they
come. What c'n a body do?
[_He locks the door again._
You're to leave the door open, Wilhelm, or I'll cry for help!
--Sh! Keep still! Did you hear? There's somethin' runnin' along the
passage. D'you hear? Now it goes to the washstand. D'you hear the
splashin'? She's standin' there an' washin' herself!
You! Wilhelm! You're dreamin'! The wash-stand is in here!
That's just it! I know very well! They can't deceive me. I know what I
know, [_Hurriedly._] That's all I say.--Come, come, let's go to bed.
[_While he approaches the door of the next room, Mrs. HENSCHEL softly
unlocks the door to the hall and slips out._
[_Taking down a whip from the frame of the door._] Why, that's my old
Triest whip! Where does that old thing come from? I haven't seen it for
over a year. That was bought in mother's time. [_He listens._] What d'you
say? Eh?--O' course ... Certainly.--Nothin'!--Well, s'posin'! An' why
not? 'Tis well!--I know what I has to do!--I won't be stubborn.--You let
that be too.
_SIEBENHAAR enters by the door which is slightly ajar. By means of
gestures he signifies to WERMELSKIRCH, who follows him, that the
latter is to remain behind, also to MRS. HENSCHEL. He is fully clad
except that he wears a silk kerchief instead of a collar.
WERMELSKIRCH is in his dressing-gown._
Good evening, Mr. Henschel! What? Are you still up? You're not well, eh?
What's the matter with you?
[_After he has, for several seconds, regarded him with perplexity;
simply:_] I just can't sleep. I don't get sleepy at all! I'd like to take
some medicine, if I knew any. I don't know how it comes. God knows!
I'll tell you somethin', old friend: You go quietly to bed now, and
to-morrow, real early, I'll send the doctor in. You must really take some
serious step now.
No doctor won't be able to help me.
You mustn't say that; we'll see about that! Doctor Richter knows his
business. My wife couldn't sleep for weeks; her head ached as if it would
burst. Last Monday she took a powder, and now she sleeps all night like
Yes, yes ... well, well ... 'Tis possible! I'd like it well enough if I
could sleep.--Is the madam reel sick?
Oh, we're all a little under the weather. When once Monday is past,
everything will straighten out again.
I s'pose you has to turn over the property on Monday.
Yes, I hope it will be possible to arrange it by Monday. In the meantime
the work is heaping up so--what with writing and making the
inventory--that I scarcely get out of my clothes. But come now, Henschel,
and go to bed. One man has one trouble and another has another. Life is
no joke and we must all see how we can best fight our way through. And
even if many strange thoughts pass through your head--don't take them to
Thank you many times, Mr. Siebenhaar. Don't take anythin' in ill part,
please. An' good luck to you an' your wife!
We'll see each other again to-morrow, Henschel. You owe me no thanks for
anything. We've done each other many a service in the years that we've
lived together here. And those services compensate for each other. We
were good friends and, surely, we will remain such.
[_Silently takes a few steps toward the window and looks out._]--Ah,
them's queer things here. Time don't stand still in this world. Little
Karl, he never came to see us no more ... I can't make no objection.
Maybe you was right. The lad couldn't ha' learned nothin' good here.
Henschel, I don't know what you mean now!
An' you didn't cross my threshold neither. 'Tis nine months since you
I had too much to worry me; that's all.
Those were the very times you used to come before. No, no, I know. You
were right. An' the people are right too--all of 'em. I can't take no
pride in myself no more.
Henschel, you must take some rest now.
No, no; we c'n talk about it a bit. You see, I know 'tis all my fault--I
know that, an' with that we can let it be. But before I went an' took
this woman--Hanne, I mean--before that it all began ... slowly it began,
slowly--but downhill right along. First thing, a good bonehandled whip
broke. After that, I remember it right well, I drove over my dog an' he
died. 'Twas the best little dog I had. Then, one right after another,
three o' my horses died; an' one of 'em was the fine stallion that cost
me five hundred crowns. An' then, last of all ... my wife died. I noticed
it well enough in my own thoughts that fate was against me. But when my
wife went away from me, I had a minute in my own mind when I thought to
myself: Now it's enough. There's not much else that c'n be taken from me.
But you see, there was somethin' else.--I don't want to talk about
Gustel. A man loses first his wife an' then a child--that's common. But
no: a snare was laid for me an' I stepped into it.
Who laid a snare for you?
Maybe the devil; maybe, too, somebody else. It's throttlin' me--that's
That's a most unhappy notion of yours ...
An' I'm denyin' nothin'. A bad man I've come to be, only it's no fault o'
mine. I just, somehow, stumbled into it all. Maybe it's my fault too. You
c'n say so if you want to. Who knows? I should ha' kept a better watch.
But the devil is more cunnin' than me. I just kept on straight ahead.
Henschel, you're just your own worst enemy. You're fighting phantoms
which have no existence at any time or place. The devil has done nothing
to you, nor have you stepped into any snare. And no one is throttling you
either. That is all nonsense. And such fancies are dangerous.
We'll see; we c'n wait an' see.
Well, tell me something definite. You won't be able to do it, however you
try. You are neither bad, as you say, nor are you burdened by any guilt.
Ah, I know better.
Well, what is your guilt?
Here stood the bed. An' she was lyin' in it. An' here I gave her my
promise. I gave her my promise an' I've broken it!
What promise was that?
You know well enough!--I broke it an' when I did that, I was lost. I was
done for. The game was up.--An' you see: now she can't find no rest.
Are you speaking of your dead wife?
'Tis of her, of her exackly that I'm speakin'. She can't find no rest in
the grave. She comes an' she goes an' she finds no rest.--I curry the
horses; there she stands. I take a sieve from the feed-bin, an' I see her
sittin' behind the door. I mean to go to bed in the little room; 'tis she
that's lyin' in the bed an' lookin' at me.--She's hung a watch aroun' my
neck; she knocks at the wall; she scratches on the panes.--She puts her
finger on my breast an' I'm that smothered, I has to gasp for air. No,
no, I know best. You got to go through a thing like that before you know
what it is. You can't tell about It. I've gone through a deal--you c'n
Henschel, this is my last word to you: Gather all the strength you have
in you; plant yourself firmly on both legs. Go and consult a physician.
Tell yourself that you are ill, very ill, but drive these phantoms away.
They are mere cobwebs of the brain, mere fancies.
That's what you said that there time, too. Just so or somethin' like it
Very likely, and I'm willing to stand by it now. What you did in the
matter of your marriage, it was your entire right to do. There was no
question of any sin or guilt.
_WERMELSKIRCH steps forward._
Henschel, come over to me. We'll light the gas and play cards. We'll
drink beer or whatever you want to and smoke a pipe with it; then the
ghosts can come if they want to. In two hours it will be bright daylight.
Then we can drink some coffee and take a walk. The devil is in this if
you can't be made to be your old self again.
Maybe so; we c'n try it all right.
Well then, come along.
I won't go to your place no more.
On account of that little nonsense the other day? That was only a
misunderstanding. And all that has been cleared up. I simply won't let
Hauffe come in any more. The fellow is always drunk; that's a fact.
Things are often said in heat that simply enter at one ear and pass out
at the other. And that's the way to treat such incidents, I always do.
An' that'd be best too. You're quite right. But no--I won't be comin'
into the barroom no more. I'm goin' to travel about a good bit, I think.
Maybe they won't follow me all roun'. An' now sleep well. I'm feelin'
How would it be, Henschel, if you came up with me? There's light upstairs
and my office is heated. There we can all three play a little game. I
wouldn't lie down to-night anyhow.
Yes, yes; we could be doin' that together. 'Tis long since I've touched a
That's right. Go on up. You wouldn't be able to sleep nohow.
I'm not goin'! Y' understand me now?
Well, if you're goin' to stay, then I won't. God knows what you'll be up
to this night. You'll begin to be playin' aroun' with knives again. Yes,
that's what he did yesterday. A body's not sure o' her life no more.
You won't see me goin' up there. He advised me to do what I did, an' then
he was the first one to despise me for doin' it.
Henschel, I never despised you. You're an honourable fellow, through and
through; don't talk nonsense now. There are certain fates that come upon
men. And what one has to bear is not easy. You have grown ill, but you
have remained a good man. And for that truth I'll put my hand in the
Maybe that's true too, Mr. Siebenhaar.--Let it be; we'll talk about
somethin' else. 'Tisn't your fault; I always said that. An' I can't blame
my brother-in law neither. He knows where he gets all that from, 'Tis she
herself goes roun' to people an' tells 'em. She's everywhere--now here
an' now there. I s'pose she was with her brother too.
Who is it that goes about among people? Not a soul is thinking of that
affair of the other night, That's quite forgotten by this time.
It sticks to me--it does--turn it any way you please. _She_ knows how to
go about it. She's everywhere, an' she'll persuade folks. An' even, if
people was goin' to be silent for my sake an' wasn't after me like so
many dogs--nothin' c'n do any good. It'll stick to me.
Henschel, we won't go away until you've put that, out of your mind. You
must calm, yourself entirely.
Oh, I'm sensible now an' quiet, reel quiet.
Very well. In that case we can talk quite frankly. You see for yourself
how your wife repents. That waiter fellow is gone; he's far away by this
time and you'll never set your eyes on him again. Anyone may fall into
sin--no matter who it is. And so take each other's hands. Bury that
matter, hide it out of sight and be at peace.
I don't has to make no peace with her. [_To HANNE._] I c'n give you my
hand! I don't mind. That you've gone an' made a mistake--the Lord c'n
judge that in this world. I won't condemn you on that account.--If only
... about Gustel ... if only we could know somethin' ... about that ...
You c'n both kill me this minute. May I drop dead if I did any harm to
That's what I've been sayin': It'll stick to me.--Well, we c'n talk it
over again to-morrow. Before we get through talkin' about that, many a
drop o' water'll have time to run into the sea, I'm thinkin'.
Why don't you build a comfortable fire and cook a cup of hot coffee.
After rain comes the sunshine. That's the way it is between married
people. There will be storms in every marriage. But after the storm
everything grows greener. The main thing is: Bye, baby, bye--[_He
imitates the gesture of one rocking a child in his arms._]--That's the
right way. That's the thing that you two must get for yourselves.
[_Jovially patting HENSCHEL'S shoulder._] That's what the old man likes.
You two must get together and buy a toy like that. Confound it, Henschel!
It would be queer if that weren't easy. A giant of a man like you! Good
Everything changes. One must have courage.
Just keep cool and dress warmly--that's it!
_SIEBENHAAR and WERMELSKIRCH withdraw. HENSCHEL goes slowly to the
door and is about to lock it again._
You're to leave that open!
All right; I don't mind.--What are you doin' there?
[_Who has been bending down before the oven, draws herself up quickly._]
I'm makin' a fire. Don't you see that?
[_Sitting down, heavily by the table._] For my part you c'n light the
[_He pulls out the drawer of the table._
What are you lookin' for?
Then you c'n push it back in. [_She steps forward and shuts the drawer._]
I s'ppose you want to wake Berthel up?
Monday he's goin'. Then we'll be alone.
Who's goin' on Monday?
Siebenhaar. The Lord knows how we'll get along with the new owner.
He's a rich man. He won't borrow money of you at least.
--Hanne, one of us two'll have to go. One of us two. Yes, yes,'tis true.
You c'n look at me. That can't be changed.
I'm to go away? You want to drive me away?
We'll see about that later--_who_ has to go! Maybe 'twill be me, an'
maybe 'twill be you. If I was to go ... I know this for sure--you
wouldn't be scared about yourself. You're able to look after the business
like a man.--But 's I said: it don't matter about me.
If one of us has to go--I'll go. I'm still strong enough. I'll leave an'
nobody needn't see me no more. The horses an' the waggons--they're all
yours. You got the business from your father an' you can't go an' leave
it. I'll go an' then the trouble'll be over.
'Tis easy sayin' that. We got to consider one thing at a time.
There's no use in drawin' it out. What's over and done with is over.
[_Rising heavily and going toward the adjoining room._] An' Berthel?
What's to become o' the lass?
She'll have to go to father, over in Quolsdorf.
[_At the door of the bedroom._] Let it be. To-morrow is another day.
Everythin' changes, as Siebenhaar says. To-morrow, maybe, everythin' 'll
[_Invisible in the next room._] Berthel is sweating all over again.
That won't do her no harm to be sweatin' a bit. The drops are runnin'
down my neck too. Oh, what a life--[_She opens a window._]--a body'd
rather be dead.
What are you talkin' about? I don't understand.
Lie down on your side an' leave me alone.
Are you comin' too?
It's most day now.
[_She winds the clock._]
Who's windin' the clock?
You're to keep still now. If Berthel was to wake up it'd be a fine to do.
She'd howl for half an hour. [_She sits down at the table and leans both
elbows upon it._] 'Twould be best if a body got up an' went away,
_SIEBENHAAR peers in._
SIEBENHAAR I'm lookin' in once more. Is your husband calmer now?
Yes, yes, he lay down to sleep. [_She calls._] Husband! Wilhelm!
Sh! You'd better be grateful. Hurry and go to bed yourself.
There's nothin' else left to do. I'll go an' try. [_She goes to the door
of the bedroom, stands still as if spellbound and listens._] Wilhelm! You
might answer.--[_Louder and more frightened._] Wilhelm! You're not to
frighten me this way! Maybe you think I don't know that you're still
awake!!--[_In growing terror._]--Wilhelm, I tell you!... [_BERTHEL has
waked up and wails._] Berthel, you look out an' keep still! Keep still or
I don't know what'll happen!--Wilhelm! Wilhelm!
[_She almost shrieks._
SIEBENHAAR looks in again.
What's the matter, Mrs. Henschel?
I call an' call an' he don't answer!
Are you crazy? Why do you do that?
--'Tis so still ... Somethin's happened.
What?--[_He takes up the candle and goes toward the bedroom door._]
Henschel, have you fallen asleep?
[_He enters the bedroom._
[_Not daring to follow him._] What is it? What is it? What's goin' on?
_WERMELSKIRCH looks in._
Who's in there?
Mr. Siebenhaar.--'Tis so still. Nobody don't answer.--
[_Very pale and holding BERTHEL on his arm hurries out of the bedroom._]
Mrs. Henschel, take your child and go up to my wife.
[_Already with the child in her arms._] For God's sake, what has
You'll find that out all too soon.
[_With a voice that is first repressed and at last rises to a scream._] O
God, he's done hisself some harm!
_[She runs out with the child._
Shall I call the doctor?
Too late! He could give no help here.
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
LIST OF PERSONS
HAHN. HEINZEL. GOLISCH. KLEINERT. _Field Labourers_
OLD MRS. GOLISCH.
THE HEAD MAID SERVANT.
THE ASSISTANT MAID SERVANT.
THE FIRST ACT
_A level, fertile landscape. It is a clear, warm, sunny morning in
May. Diagonally from the middle to the foreground extends a path. The
fields on either side are raised slightly above it. In the immediate
foreground a small potato patch on which the green shoots are already
visible. A shallow ditch, covered with field flowers, separates the
path from the fields. To the left of the path on a slope about six
feet in height an old cherry tree, to the right hazelnut and
whitethorn bushes. Nearly parallel with this path, but at some
distance in the background, the course of a brook is marked by
willows and alder trees. Solitary groves of ancient trees add a
park-like appearance to the landscape. In the background, left, from
among bushes and tree-tops arise the gables and the church steeple of
the village. A crucifix stands by the wayside in the foreground,
right. It is Sunday._
_ROSE BERND, a beautiful, vigorous peasant girl of twenty-two
emerges, excited and blushing, from the bushes at the left and sits
down on the slope, after having peered shyly and eagerly in all
directions. Her skirt is caught up, her feet are bare, as are her
arms and neck. She is busily braiding one of her long, blonde
tresses. Shortly after her appearance a man comes stealthily from the
bushes on the other side. It is the landowner and magistrate,
CHRISTOPHER FLAMM. He, too, gives the impression of being embarrassed
but at the same time amused. His personality is not undignified; his
dress betrays something of the sportsman, nothing of the dandy--laced
boots, hunter's hose, a leather bottle slung by a strap across his
shoulder. Altogether FLAMM is robust, unspoiled, vivid and
broad-shouldered and creates a thoroughly pleasant impression. He
sits down on the slope at a carefully considered distance from ROSE.
They look at each other silently and then break out into
[_With rising boldness and delight sings ever louder and more heartily,
beating time like a conductor._]
"In heath and under greenwood tree,
There is the joy I choose for me!
I am a huntsman bold
I am a huntsman bold!"
[_Is at first frightened by his singing; then, more and more amused, her
embarrassment gives way to laughter._] Oh, but Mr. Flamm ...
[_With a touch of jaunty boldness._] Sing with me, Rosie!
Oh, but I can't sing, Mr. Flamm.
Ah, that isn't true, Rosie. Don't I hear you often and often singing out
on the farm:
"A huntsman from the Rhineland ..." Well!
"Rides through the forest green."
But I don't know that song a bit, Mr. Flamm.
You're not to say Mr. Flamm! Come now!
"Girlie, come and move
Here to my favourite si-i-ide!"
[_Anxiously._] The people will be comin' from church in a minute, Mr.
Let 'em come! [_He gets up and takes his rifle from the hollow cherry
tree to the left._] I'd better hang it around again anyhow. So.--And now
my hat and my pipe! Good. They can come whenever they please. [_He has
slung his gun across his shoulder, straightened his hat which is
ornamented with a cock's feather, taken a short pipe out of his pocket
and put it between his lips._] Look at the wild cherries. They're thick.
[_He picks up a handful of them and shows them to ROSE. With heartfelt
conviction:_] Rosie, I wish you were my wife!
Goodness, Mr. Flamm!
I do, so help me!
[_Nervously trying to restrain him_] Oh no, no!
Rosie, give me your dear, good, faithful little paw. [_He holds her hand
and sits down._] By heaven, Rosie! Look here, I'm a deucedly queer
fellow! I'm damned fond of my dear old woman; that's as true as ...
[_Hiding her face in her arm._] You make me want to die o' shame.
Damned fond of her I tell you ... but--[_His patience snaps._]--this
doesn't concern her a bit!
[_Again tempted to laugh against her will._] Oh, but how you talk, Mr.
[_Filled with hearty admiration of her._] Oh, you're a lovely woman! You
are lovely! You see: my wife and I ... that's a queer bit of business,
that is. Not the kind of thing that can be straightened out in a minute.
You know Henrietta ... She's sick. Nine solid years she's been bedridden;
at most she creeps around in a wheel chair.--Confound it all, what good
is that sort o' thing to me?
[_He grasps her head and kisses her passionately._
[_Frightened under his kisses._] The people are comin' from church!
They're not thinking of it! Why are you so worried about the people in
Because August's in church too.
That long-faced gentry is always in church! Where else should they be?
But, Rosie, it isn't even half past ten yet; and when the service is over
the bells ring. No, and you needn't be worried about my wife either.
Oh, Christopher, she keeps lookin' at a body sometimes, so you want to
die o' shame.
You don't know my old lady; that's it. She's bright; she can look through
three board walls! But on that account ...! She's mild and good as a lamb
... even if she knew what there is between us; she wouldn't take our
Oh, no! For heaven's sake, Mr. Flamm!
Nonsense, Rosie! Have a pinch, eh? [_He takes snuff._] I tell you once
more: I don't care about anything! [_Indignantly._] What is a man like me
to do? What, I ask you? No, don't misunderstand me! Surely you know how
seriously I think of our affair. Let me talk ahead once in a while.
Mr. Christie, you're so good to me ...! [_With a sudden ebullition of
tenderness, tears in her eyes, she kisses FLAMM'S hand._] So good ... but
[_Moved and surprised._] Good to you? No wonder! Deuce take me, Rosie.
That's very little, being good to you. If I were free, I'd marry you. You
see, I've lost the ordinary way in life! Not to speak of past affairs!
I'm fit for ... well, I wonder what I _am_ fit for! I might have been a
royal chief forester to-day! And yet, when the governor died, I went
straight home and threw over my career. I wasn't born for the higher
functions of society. All this even is too civilised for me. A block
house, a rifle, bear's ham for supper and a load of lead sent into the
breeches of the first comer--that would be ...!
But that can't be had, Mr. Flamm! And ... things has got to end sometime.
[_Half to himself._] Confound it all to everlasting perdition! Isn't
there time enough left for that spindle-shanked hypocrite? Won't there be
far too much left for that fellow anyway? No> girlie, I'd send him about
Oh, but I've kept him danglin' long enough. Two years an' more he's been
waitin'. Now he's urgent; he won't wait any longer. An' things can't go
on this way no more.
[_Enraged._] That's all nonsense; you understand. First you worked
yourself to the bone for your father. You haven't the slightest notion of
what life is, and now you want to be that bookbinder's pack horse. I
don't see how people can be so vulgar and heartless as to make capital
out of another human being in that way! If that's all you're looking
forward to, surely there's time enough.
No, Christie ... It's easy to talk that way, Mr. Flamm! But if you was
put into such circumstances, you'd be thinkin' different too.--I know how
shaky father's gettin'! An' the landlord has given us notice too. A new
tenant is to move in, I believe! An' then it's father's dearest wish that
everythin's straightened out.
Then let your father marry August Keil, if he's so crazy about the
fellow. Why, he's positively obsessed. It's madness the way he's taken
with that man!
You're unjust, Mr. Flamm; that's all.
Say rather ... Well, what? What was I going to say?... I can't bear that
sanctimonious phiz! My gorge rises at the sight of him. God forgive me,
Rosie, and forgive you especially! Why shouldn't I be open with you? It
may be that he has his merits. They say, too, that he's saved up a few
shillings. But that's no reason why you should go and drown yourself in
No, Christopher! Don't talk that way! I musn't listen to such talk, the
dear Lord knows!--August, he's been through a lot!--His sickness an' his
misfortunes--that goes right to a person's soul ...
A man can never understand you women folks. You're an intelligent and
determined girl, and suddenly, on one point, your stupidity is simply
astonishing--goose-like, silly! It goes straight to your soul, does it?
From that point of view you might as well marry an ex-convict, if pity or
stupidity are reasons. You ought to raise a bit of a row with your father
for once! What's hurting August? He grew up in the orphan house and
succeeded in making his way for all that. If you won't have him, his
brethren in the Lord will find him another. They're expert enough at
[_With decision._] No, that won't do. And--it has got to be, Mr.
Flamm.--I'm not sorry for what's happened, though I've had my share o'
sufferin' in quiet. All to myself, I mean. But never mind. An' nothin'
can change that now. But it's got to come to an end some day--it can't
never an' never go on this way.
Can't go on? What do you mean by that exactly?
Just ... because things is no different in this world. I can't put him
off no longer; an' father wouldn't bear with it. An' he's quite right in
that matter. Dear Lord ha' mercy! 'Tis no easier on that account! But
when it'll all be off a body's soul ... I don't know--[_She touches her
breast._] they calls it, I believe, strain o' the heart, Oh, times are
when I has real pains in my heart ... An' a person can't feel that way
all the time.
Well, then there's nothing more to be done just now. It's time for me to
be getting home. [_He gets up and throws the rifle across his shoulder._]
Another time then, Rosie. Good-bye!
_ROSE stares straight in front of her without answering._
What's the matter, Rosie? Won't there be another time?
_ROSE shakes her head._
What, have I hurt you, Rosie?
There'll never be another time--like this--Mr. Flamm.
[_With despairing passion._] Girl, I don't care if it costs me everything
[_He embraces her and kisses her again and again._
[_Suddenly in extreme terror._] For the love o' ... some one's comin',
_FLAMM in consternation, jumps up and disappears behind a bush._
_ROSE gets up hastily, straightens her hair and her dress and looks
anxiously about her. As no one appears she takes up the hoe and
begins to weed the potato patch. After a while there approaches,
unnoticed by her, the machinist ARTHUR STRECKMANN dressed in his
Sunday coat. He is what would generally be called a handsome
man--large, broad-shouldered, his whole demeanour full of
self-importance. He has a blond beard that extends far down his
chest. His garments, from his jauntily worn huntsman's hat to his
highly polished boots, his walking coat and his embroidered
waistcoat, are faultless and serve to show, in connection with his
carriage, that STRECKMANN not only thinks very well of himself but is
scrupulously careful of his person and quite conscious of his unusual
[_As though but now becoming conscious of ROSE'S presence, in an
affectedly well-modulated voice._] Good day, Rosie.
[_Turns frightened._] Good day, Streckmann. [_In an uncertain voice_]
Why, where did you come from? From church?
I went away a bit early.
[_Excitedly and reproachfully._] What for? Couldn't you put up with the
[_Boldly._] Oh, it's such beautiful weather out. An' that's why! I left
my wife in the church too. A feller has got to be by himself once in a
I'd rather be in church.
That's where the women folks belongs.
I shouldn't wonder if you had your little bundle o' sins. You might ha'
been prayin' a bit.
I'm on pretty good terms with the Lord. He don't keep such very
particular accounts o' my sins.
No, he don't bother with me much.
A vain, fool--that's what you is!
_STRECKMANN laughs in a deep and affected tone._
If you was a real man, you wouldn't have to go an' beat your wife at
[_With a gleam in his eyes._] That shows that I'm a real man! That shows
it! That's proper! A man's got to show you women that he's the master.
Don't be fancyin' such foolishness.
That's so, for all you say. Right _is_ right. An' I never failed to get
what I was wantin' that way.
_ROSE laughs constrainedly._
People says you're goin' to leave Flamm's service.
I'm not in Flamm's service at all. You see now that I'm doin' other
You were helpin' at Flamm's no later'n yesterday.
Maybe so! Maybe I was or maybe I wasn't! Look after your own affairs.
Is it true that your father has moved?
With August over into Lachmann's house.
August hasn't even bought the house yet. Those people--they knows more
An' they says too that you'll be celebratin' your weddin' soon.
They can be talkin' for all I care.
[_After a brief silence approaches her and stands before her with legs
wide apart._] Right you are! You can marry him any time. A fine girl like
you don't need to hurry so; she can have a real good time first! I
laughed right in his face when he told me. There's no one believes him.
[_Quickly._] Who's been sayin' it?
August himself? An' this is what he gets from his silly talkin'.
[_After a silence._] August he's such a peevish kind....
I don't want to hear nothing. Leave me alone! Your quarrels don't concern
me! One o' you is no better'n another.
Well, in some things--when it comes to bein' bold.
Oh, heavens! That boldness o' yours. We knows that. Go about an' asks the
women folks a bit. No, August isn't that kind.
[_Laughs with lascivious boastfulness._] I'm not denyin' that.
An' you couldn't.
[_Looking at her sharply through half-closed lids._] It's not comfortable
to make a fool o' me. What I wants of a woman--I gets.
Yes, oho! What would you wager, Rosie! You been makin' eyes at me many a
[_He has approached and offered to put his arms around her._
Don't be foolish, Streckmann! Keep your hands off o' me!
If it was....
[_Thrusts him away._] Streckmann! I've been tellin' you! I don't want to
have nothin' to do with you men. Go your own way.
What am I doin' to you?--[_After a silence with a smile that is half
malicious, half embarrassed._] You wait! You'll be comin' to me one o'
these days! I'm tellin' you: you'll be comin' to me yourself some day!
You can act as much like a saint as you wants to.--D'you see that cross?
D'you see that tree? Confound it! There's all kinds o' things! I've been
no kind o' a saint myself! But ... right under a cross ... you might be
sayin' just that ... I'm not so very partic'lar, but I'd take shame at
that. What would your father be sayin' or August? Now, just f'r instance:
this pear tree is hollow. Well an' good. There was a rifle in there.
[_Has been listening more and more intently in the course of her work.