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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IV by Editor-in-Chief: Kuno Francke

Part 5 out of 11

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home.

HOST.

You are a subject of the king, aren't you?

LORENZ.

Yes, indeed; what do you call your good ruler?

HOST.

He is just called Bugbear.

LORENZ.

That is a foolish title. Why, has he no other name?

HOST.

When he has edicts issued, they always read: For the good of the
public, the _Law_ demands--hence I believe that is his real name. All
petitions, too, are always laid before the _Law_. He is a fearful man.

LORENZ.

Still, I should rather be under a king; why, a king is more
dignified. They say the Bugbear is a very ungracious master.

HOST.

He is not especially gracious, that is true of course, but, on
the other hand, he is justice itself. Cases are even sent to him from
abroad and he must settle them.

LORENZ.

They say wonderful things about him; the story goes he can
transform himself into any animal.

HOST.

It is true, and then he travels around _incognito_ and spies out
the sentiments of his subjects; that's the very reason why we trust no
cat, no strange dog or horse, because we always think the ruler might
probably be inside of them.

LORENZ.

Then surely we are in a better position, too. Our king never
goes out without wearing his crown, his cloak, and his sceptre; by
these, he is known three hundred paces away. Well, take care of
yourselves.

[_Exit._]

HOST.

Now he is already in his own country.

KUNZ.

Is the border line so near?

HOST.

Surely, that very tree belongs to the king; you can see from
this very spot everything that goes on in his country; this border
line here is a lucky thing for me. I should have been bankrupt long
ago if the deserters from over there had not supported me; almost
every day several come.

MICHEL.

Is the service there so hard?

HOST.

Not that; but running away is so easy, and just because it is so
strictly forbidden the fellows get such an exceptional desire to
desert. Look, I bet that's another one coming!

[_A soldier comes running._]

SOLDIER.

A can of beer, host! Quick!

HOST.

Who are you?

SOLDIER.

A deserter.

MICHEL.

Perhaps 'twas his love for his parents which made him desert.
Poor fellow, do take pity on him, host.

HOST.

Why if he has money, there won't be any lack of beer. (_Goes
into the house_.)

[_Two hussars come riding and dismount_.]

1ST HUSS.

Well, thank God, we've got so far! Your health, neighbor!

SOLDIER.

This is the border.

2D HUSS.

Yes, Heaven be thanked! Didn't we have to ride for the sake
of that fellow? Beer, host!

HOST (_with several glasses_).

Here, gentlemen, a fine, cool drink;
you are all pretty warm.

1ST HUSS.

Here, you rascal! To your health!

SOLDIER.

Best thanks, I will meantime hold your horses for you.

2D HUSS.

The fellow can run! It's good that the border is never so
very far away; for otherwise it would be deucedly hard service.

1ST HUSS.

Well, we must go back, I suppose. Good-bye, deserter! Much
luck on your way!

[_They mount and ride away_.]

HOST.

Will you stay here?

SOLDIER.

No, I am going away; why I must enlist with the neighboring
duke.

HOST.

Say, come and see me when you desert again.

SOLDIER.

Certainly. Farewell!

[_They shake hands. Exeunt soldier and guests, exit host into the
house. The curtain falls_.]

INTERLUDE

FISCHER.

Why, it's getting wilder and wilder! What was the purpose of
the last scene, I wonder?

LEUTNER.

Nothing at all, it is entirely superfluous; only to introduce
some new nonsense. The theme of the cat is now lost entirely and there
is no fixed point of view at all.

SCHLOSS.

I feel exactly as though I were intoxicated.

MUeLLER.

I say, in what period is the play supposed to be taking place?
The hussars, of course, are a recent invention.

SCHLOSS.

We simply shouldn't bear it, but stamp hard. Now we haven't
the faintest idea of what the play is coming to.

FISCHER.

And no love, either! Nothing in it for the heart, for the
imagination.

LEUTNER.

As soon as any more of that nonsense occurs, for my part at
least, I'll begin to stamp.

WIESENER (_to his neighbor_).

I like the play now.

NEIGHBOR.

Very fine, indeed, very fine; a great man, the author; he
has imitated the _Magic Flute_ well.

WIESENER.

I liked the hussars particularly well; people seldom take
the risk of bringing horses on the stage--and why not? They often have
more sense than human beings. I would rather see a good horse than
many a human being in the more modern plays.

NEIGHBOR.

The Moors in Kotzebue--a horse is after all nothing but
another kind of Moor.

WIESENER.

Do you not know to what regiment the hussars belonged

NEIGHBOR.

I did not even look at them carefully. Too bad they went
away so soon--indeed I'd rather like to see a whole play with nothing
but hussars. I like the cavalry so much.

LEUTNER (_to_ BOeTTICHER).

What do you think of all this?

BOeTTICH.

Why, I simply can't get the excellent acting of the man who
plays the cat out of my head. What a study! What art! What
observation! What costuming!

SCHLOSS.

That is true; he really does look like a large tom-cat.

BOeTTICH.

And just notice his whole mask, as I would rather call his
costume, for since he has so completely disguised his natural
appearance, this expression is far more fitting. But I say, God bless
the ancients when blessing is due. You probably do not know that the
ancients acted all parts, without exception, in masks, as you will
find in _Athenaeus, Pollux_ and others. It is hard, you see, to know
all these things so accurately, because one must now and then look up
those books oneself to find them. At the same time, however, one then
has the advantage of being able to quote them. There is a difficult
passage in Pausanias.

FISCHER.

You were going to be kind enough to speak of the cat.

BOeTTICH.

Why, yes; and I only meant to say all the preceding by the
way, hence I beg you most earnestly to consider it as a note; and, to
return to the cat, have you noticed, I wonder, that he is not one of
those black cats? No, on the contrary, he is almost entirely white and
has only a few black spots; that expresses his good-nature
excellently; moreover, the theme of the whole play, all the emotions
to which it should appeal, are suggested in this very fur.

LEUTNER.

That is true.

FISCHER.

The curtain is going up again!

ACT II

_Room in a peasant's house_

GOTTLIEB, HINZE. _Both are sitting at a small table and eating_.

GOTTLIEB.

Did it taste good?

HINZE.

Very good, very fine.

GOTTLIEB.

But now my fate must soon be determined, for otherwise I do
not know what I am to do.

HINZE.

Just have patience a few days longer; why, good fortune must
have some time to grow; who would expect to become happy all of a
sudden, so to speak? My good man, that happens only in books; in the
world of reality things do not move so quickly.

FISCHER.

Now just listen, the cat dares to speak of the world of
reality! I feel almost like going home, for I'm afraid I shall go mad.

LEUTNER.

It looks almost as if that is what the writer intended.

MUeLLER.

A splendid kind of artistic enjoyment, to be mad, I must
admit!

GOTTLIEB.

If I only knew, dear Hinze, how you have come by this amount
of experience, this intelligence!

HINZE.

Are you, then, under the impression that it is in vain one lies
for days at the stove with one's eyes tight shut? I always kept
studying there quietly. In secret and unobserved does the power of the
intelligence grow; hence it is a sign that one has made the least
progress when one sometimes has a mind to crane one's neck around as
far as possible, so as to look back at the ground one has already
covered. Now do be kind enough to untie my napkin.

GOTTLIEB (_does it_).

A blessing on good food! (_They kiss._) Content
yourself with that.

HINZE.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

GOTTLIEB.

The boots fit very nicely, and you have a charming little
foot.

HINZE.

That is only because we always walk on our toes, as you must
already have read in your natural history.

GOTTLIEB.

I have great respect for you--on account of the boots.

HINZE (_hangs a soldier's knapsack about his neck_).

I am going now.
See, I have also made myself a bag with a drawing-string.

GOTTLIEB.

What's it all for?

HINZE.

Just let me alone! I want to be a hunter. Why, where is my
cane?

GOTTLIEB.

Here.

HINZE.

Well, then, good-bye.

[_Exit._]

GOTTLIEB.

A hunter? I can't understand the man.

[_Exit._]

_Open Field_

HINZE (_with cane, knapsack, and bag_).

Splendid weather! It's such a
beautiful, warm day; afterward I must lie down a bit in the sun. (_He
spreads out his bag._) Well, fortune, stand by me. Of course, when I
think that this capricious goddess of fortune so seldom favors
shrewdly laid plans, that she always ends up by disgracing the
intelligence of mortals, I feel as though I should lose all my
courage. Yet, be quiet, my heart; a kingdom is certainly worth the
trouble of working and sweating some for it! If only there are no dogs
around here; I can't bear those creatures at all; it is a race that I
despise because they so willingly submit to the lowest servitude to
human beings. They can't do anything but either fawn or bite; they
haven't fashionable manners at all, a thing which is so necessary in
company. There's no game to be caught. (_He begins to sing a hunting
song: "I steal through the woods so still and wild," etc. A
nightingale in the bush near-by begins to sing._) She sings
gloriously, the songstress of the grove; but how delicious she must
taste! The great people of the earth are, after all, right lucky in
the fact that they can eat as many nightingales and larks as they
like; we poor common people must content ourselves with their singing,
with the beauty in nature, with the incomprehensibly sweet harmony.
It's a shame I can't hear anything sing without getting a desire to
eat it. Nature! Nature! Why do you always destroy my finest emotions
by having created me thus! I feel almost like taking off my boots and
softly climbing up that tree yonder; she must be perching there.
(_Stamping in the pit._) The nightingale is good-natured not to let
herself be interrupted even by this martial music; she must taste
delicious; I am forgetting all about my hunting with these sweet
dreams. Truly, there's no game to be caught. Why, who's there?

[_Two lovers enter._]

HE.

I say, my sweet life, do you hear the nightingale?

SHE.

I am not deaf, my good friend.

HE.

How my heart overflows with joyousness when I see all harmonious
nature thus gathered about me, when every tone but reechoes the
confession of my love, when all heaven bows down to diffuse its ether
over me.

SHE.

You are raving, my dear!

HE.

Do not call the most natural emotions of my heart raving. (_He
kneels down._) See, I swear to you, here in the presence of glad
heaven--

HINZE (_approaching them courteously_).

Kindly pardon me--would you
not take the trouble to go somewhere else? You are disturbing a hunt
here with your lovely affection.

HE.

Be the sun my witness, the earth--and what else? Thou, thyself,
dearer to me than earth, sun, and all the elements. What is it, good
friend?

HINZE.

The hunt--I beg most humbly.

HE.

Barbarian, who are you, to dare to interrupt the oaths of love?
You are not of woman born, you belong outside humanity.

HINZE.

If you would only consider, sir--

SHE.

Then wait just a second, good friend; you see, I'm sure, that my
lover, lost in the intoxication of the moment, is down on his knees.

HE.

Dost thou believe me now?

SHE.

Oh, didn't I believe you even before you spoke a word? (_She
bends down to him affectionately._) Dearest! I love you! Oh,
inexpressibly!

HE.

Am I mad? Oh, and if I am not, why do I not become so immediately
with excess of joy, wretched, despicable creature that I am? I am no
longer on the earth; look at me well, dearest, and tell me: Am I not
perhaps standing in the sun?

SHE.

You are in my arms, and they shall never release you either.

HE.

Oh, come, this open field is too narrow for my emotions, we must
climb the highest mountain, to tell all nature how happy we are.

[_Exit the lovers, quickly and full of delight. Loud applause and
bravos in the pit._]

WIESENER (_clapping_).

The lover thoroughly exhausted himself. Oh, my,
I gave myself such a blow on the hand that it swelled right up.

NEIGHBOR.

You do not know how to restrain yourself when you are glad.

WIESENER.

Yes, I am always that way.

FISCHER.

Ah!--that was certainly something for the heart; that makes
one feel good again!

LEUTNER.

Really beautiful diction in that scene!

MUeLLER.

But I wonder whether it is essential to the whole?

SCHLOSS.

I never worry about the whole; if I cry, I cry--that's
enough; that was a divine passage.

HINZE.

Such a pair of lovers is good for something in the world after
all; they have fallen plump into the poetical again down there and the
stamping has ceased. There's no game to be caught.

(_A rabbit creeps into the bag; he rushes over and draws the strings
over him._)

Look here, good friend! A kind of game that is a cousin of mine, so to
speak; yes, that's the way with the world nowadays, relatives against
relatives, brother against brother; if one wants to get through the
world oneself, one must push others out of the way.

(_He takes the rabbit out of the bag and puts it into the knapsack._)

Hold! Hold!--truly I must take care not to devour the game myself. I
must just tie up the knapsack quickly only to be able to restrain my
passion. Fie! for shame, Hinze! Is it not the duty of the nobleman to
sacrifice himself and his desires to the happiness of his brother
creatures? That's the reason why we live, and whoever cannot do
that--oh, it were better for him if he had never been born!

(_He is on the point of withdrawing; violent applause and shouting of
"Encore;" he has to repeat the last beautiful passage, then he bows
respectfully and goes of with the rabbit._)

FISCHER.

Oh, what a noble man!

MUeLLER.

What a beautifully human state of mind!

SCHLOSS.

One can still be benefited by things like this, but when I
see such nonsense I should like to smash it with a single blow.

LEUTNER.

I began to feel quite sad too--the nightingale--the
lovers--the last tirade--why the play has some really beautiful
passages after all!

_Hall in the palace_

_Large company. The_ KING. _The_ PRINCESS. _Prince_ NATHANIEL. _The_
COOK (_in gala costume_)

KING (_sitting on throne_).

Over here, cook; now is the time to speak
and answer; I want to examine the matter myself.

COOK (_falls on his knees_).

May it please your majesty to express
your commands for your highness's most faithful servant?

KING.

One cannot expend too much effort, my friends, in keeping a
king--on whose shoulders lies the well-being of a whole country and
that of innumerable subjects--always in good humor. For if he falls
into a bad humor, he very easily becomes a tyrant, a monster; for good
humor encourages cheerfulness, and cheerfulness, according to the
observations of all philosophers, makes man good; whereas melancholy,
on the other hand, is to be considered a vice for the very reason that
it encourages all the vices. Whose duty is it, I now ask, in whose
power does it so lie, to preserve the good spirits of the monarch, so
much as in the hands of a cook? Are not rabbits very innocent animals?
My favorite dish--by means of these animals I could succeed in never
becoming tired of making my country happy--and these rabbits he lets
me do without! Sucking pigs and sucking pigs daily. Rascal, I am
disgusted with this at last!

COOK.

Let not my king condemn me unheard. Heaven is my witness, that I
took all pains to secure those pretty white animals; I even wanted to
purchase them at a rather high price, but there are absolutely none to
be had. If it were possible to get possession of even one of these
rabbits, do you think you would be allowed to doubt for one moment
longer the love your subjects bear you?

KING.

Stop with those roguish words, betake yourself to the kitchen
and show by your action that you love your king. (_Exit cook._) Now I
turn to you, my prince, and to you my daughter. I have been informed,
worthy prince, that my daughter does not love you; she is a
thoughtless, silly girl, but I still give her credit for so much
common sense as probably to have several reasons. She causes me care
and sadness, grief and worry, and my old eyes are flooded with tears
when I think of how she will get along after my death. "You will be
left an old maid," I have told her a thousand times; "take your chance
while it is offered you;" but she will not hear; well, then she'll
have to be made to feel.

PRINCESS.

My father--

KING (_weeping and sobbing_).

Go, ungrateful, disobedient girl--by
your refusal you are drawing me into--alas, only too early a grave!
(_He supports himself on the throne, covers his face with his cloak
and weeps bitterly._)

FISCHER.

Why, the king does not remain true to his character for a
moment.

[_Groom of the Chamber comes in._]

GROOM.

Your majesty, a strange man is outside and begs to be admitted
before your majesty.

KING (_sobbing_).

Who is it?

GROOM.

I beg pardon, my king, for not being able to answer this
question. Judging by his long white beard, one should say he is an old
man, and his face completely covered with hair should almost confirm
one in this opinion, but then again he has such bright, youthful eyes,
such a smooth, flexible back, that one cannot understand him. He
appears to be a wealthy man; for he is wearing a pair of fine boots
and as far as I can infer from his exterior he seems to be a hunter.

KING.

Bring him in; I am curious to see him.

[_Groom goes and returns directly with_ HINZE.]

HINZE.

With your majesty's most gracious permission the Count of
Carabas makes bold to present you with a rabbit.

KING (_delighted_).

A rabbit? Do you hear it, really, people? Ah, fate
has become reconciled with me again! A rabbit?

HINZE (_takes it out of his knapsack_).

Here, great monarch!

KING.

Here--just hold the sceptre a moment, prince. (_He feels the
rabbit._) Fat! nice and fat! From the Count of ----

HINZE.

Carabas.

KING.

Indeed, he must be an excellent man. I must become better
acquainted with him. Who is the man? Which of you knows him? Why does
he keep himself concealed? If such heads as that are allowed to remain
idle, what will become of our throne! I would cry for joy. _Sends me a
rabbit!_ Groom, give it to the cook directly.

[_Groom takes it. Exit._]

NATHAN.

My king, I beg most humbly to make my departure.

KING.

Why, indeed! I had almost forgotten that in my joy! Farewell,
prince, yes, you must make room for other suitors; it cannot be
otherwise. Adieu! I wish you had a highroad all the way home.

[_Prince kisses his hand. Exit._]

KING (_shouting_).

People! Let my historian come!

[_The historian appears._]

KING.

Here, friend, come, here's some material for our history of the
world. You have your book with you, of course!

HISTORIAN.

Yes, my king.

KING.

Now enter immediately, that on such and such a day (whatever
date we happen to have today) the Count of Carabas sent me a present
of a most delicious rabbit.

[HISTORIAN _seats himself and writes._]

KING.

Do not forget, _Anno currentis_. I must think of everything,
otherwise it's always sure to be done wrong. (_Blast of a trumpet is
heard._) Ah, dinner is ready--come, my daughter, do not weep; if it
isn't one prince, it will be another. Hunter, we thank you for your
trouble. Will you accompany us to the dining-room?

(_They go_, HINZE _follows_.)

LEUTNER.

Pretty soon I shall not be able to stand it any longer; why,
what has happened to the father now, who was so tender to his daughter
at first and touched us all so?

FISCHER.

The only thing that vexes me is that not a person in the play
wonders at the cat; the king and all act as though it had to be so.

SCHLOSS.

My head is all dizzy with this queer stuff.

_Royal dining-room_

_Large table set. Sound of drums and trumpets. Enter the_ KING, _the_
PRINCESS, LEANDER, HINZE, _several distinguished guests and_
JACKPUDDING, _Servants, waiting at the table._

KING.

Let us sit down, otherwise the soup will get cold! Has the
hunter been taken care of?

SERVANT.

Yes, your majesty, he will eat at the little table here with
the court fool.

JACKPUDDING (_to_ HINZE).

Let us sit down, otherwise the soup will get
cold.

HINZE (_sits down_).

With whom have I the honor of dining?

JACKPUD.

A man is what he is, Sir Hunter; we cannot all do the same
thing. I am a poor, exiled fugitive, a man who was once, a long time
ago, witty, but who has now become stupid and re-entered service in a
foreign land where he is again considered witty for a while.

HINZE.

From what country do you come?

JACKPUD.

Unfortunately, only Germany. My countrymen became so wise
about a certain time that they finally forbade all jokes on pain of
punishment; wherever I was seen, I was called by unbearable nicknames,
such as: Absurd, indecent, bizarre--whoever laughed at me was
persecuted like myself, and so I was compelled to go into exile.

HINZE.

Poor man!

JACKPUD.

There are strange trades in the world, Sir Hunter; cooks live
by eating, tailors by vanity, I, by the laughter of human beings; if
they cease to laugh I must starve.

[_Murmuring in the pit: A Jackpudding! A Jackpudding!_]

HINZE.

I do not eat that vegetable.

JACKPUD.

Why? Don't be bashful, help yourself.

HINZE.

I tell you, white cabbage does not agree with me.

JACKPUD.

It will taste all the better to me. Give me your hand! I must
become better acquainted with you, Sir Hunter.

HINZE.

Here!

JACKPUD.

Take here the hand of an honest German fellow; I am not
ashamed of being German, as many of my countrymen are. (_He presses
the cat's hand very tightly._)

HINZE.

Ow! Ow! (_He resists, growls, clutches_ JACKPUDDING.)

JACKPUD.

Oh! Hunter! Are you possessed of the devil? (_He rises and
goes to the king weeping._) Your majesty, the hunter is a perfidious
man; just look at the remembrance of his five fingers he has left on
me.

KING (_eating_).

Strange! Now sit down again; wear gloves in the
future when you give him your hand.

JACKPUD.

One must guard against you.

HINZE.

Why did you take such a hold on me? The deuce take your
pretended honesty!

JACKPUD.

Why, you scratch like a cat!

[HINZE _laughs maliciously_.]

KING.

But what's the trouble today, anyhow? Why is there no
intelligent conversation carried on at the table? I do not enjoy a
bite unless my mind has some nourishment too. Court scholar, did you
perhaps fall on your head today?

LEANDER (_eating_).

May it please your majesty--

KING.

How far is the sun from the earth?

LEANDER.

Two million four hundred thousand and seventy-one-miles.

KING.

And the circle in which the planets revolve?

LEANDER.

A hundred thousand million miles.

KING.

A hundred thousand million! There's nothing in the world I like
better to hear than such great numbers--millions, trillions--that
gives you--something to think about. It's a good deal, isn't it, a
thousand million, more or less?

LEANDER.

Human intelligence grows with the numbers.

KING.

But tell me, about how large is the whole world in general,
counting fixed stars, milky ways, hoods of mist, and all that?

LEANDER.

That cannot be expressed at all.

KING.

But you are to express it or (_threatening with his sceptre_)--

LEANDER.

If we consider a million as one, then about ten hundred
thousand trillions of such units which of themselves amount to a
million.

KING.

Just think, children, think! Would you believe this bit of
world could be so great? But how that occupies the mind!

JACKPUD.

Your majesty, this bowl of rice here seems to me sublimer.

KING.

How's that, fool?

JACKPUD.

Such sublimities of numbers give no food for thought; one
cannot think, for of course the highest number always finally becomes
the smallest again. Why, you just have to think of all the numbers
possible. I can never count beyond five here.

KING.

But say, there's some truth in that. Scholar, how many numbers
are there, anyhow?

LEANDER.

An infinite number.

KING.

Just tell me quickly the highest number.

LEANDER.

There is no highest, because you can always add something to
the highest; human intelligence knows no bounds in this respect.

KING.

But in truth it is a remarkable thing, this human mind.

HINZE.

You must get disgusted with being a fool here.

JACKPUD.

You can introduce nothing new; there are too many working at
the trade.

LEANDER.

The fool, my king, can never understand such a thing; on the
whole I am surprised that your majesty is still amused by his insipid
ideas. Even in Germany they tired of him, and here in Utopia you have
taken him up where thousands of the most wonderful and clever
amusements are at our service. He should be thrown out at once, for he
only brings your taste into bad repute.

KING (_throws the sceptre at his head_).

Sir Brazenbold of a scholar!
What do you dare to say? The fool pleases _me, me_, his king, and if I
like him, how dare you say that the man is ridiculous? You are the
court scholar and he the court fool; you both have equal positions;
the only difference is that he is dining at the little table with the
strange hunter. The fool displays his nonsense at the table, and you
carry on an intelligent conversation at the table; both are only to
while away the time for me and make my meal taste good: where, then,
lies the great difference? Furthermore, it does us good to see a fool
who is more stupid than we, who has not the same gifts; why, then, one
feels greater oneself and is grateful to heaven; even on that account
I like to have a blockhead around.

[THE COOK _serves the rabbit and goes_.]

KING.

The rabbit! I do not know--I suppose the other gentlemen do not
care for it?

ALL (_bow_).

KING.

Well, then, with your permission, I will keep it for myself.
(_He eats._)

PRINCESS.

It seems to me the king is making faces as though he were
getting an attack again.

KING (_rising in rage_).

The rabbit is burned! Oh, earth! Oh, pain!
What keeps me from sending the cook right down to Orcus as fast as
possible?

PRINCESS.

My father!

KING.

How did this stranger lose his way among the people? His eyes
are dry--

ALL (_arise very sadly_, JACKPUDDING _runs back and forth busily_,
HINZE _remains seated and eats steadily_).

KING.

A long, long, good night; no morning will ever brighten it.

PRINCESS.

Do have some one fetch the peacemaker.

KING.

May the Cook Philip be Hell's cry of jubilee when an ungrateful
wretch is burned to ashes!

PRINCESS.

Where can the musician be!

KING.

To be or not to be--

[_The peacemaker enters with a set of musical bells and begins to play
them at once._]

KING.

What is the matter with me? (_Weeping._) Alas! I have already
had my attack again. Have the rabbit taken out of my sight. (_He lays
his head on the table, full of grief, and sobs._)

COURTIER.

His majesty suffers much.

[_Violent stamping and whistling in the pit; they cough, they hiss;
those in the gallery laugh; the king gets up, arranges his cloak and
sits down majestically with his sceptre. It is all in vain; the noise
continues to increase, all the actors forget their parts, a terrible
pause on the stage. HINZE has climbed up a pillar. The author appears
on the stage, overcome._]

AUTHOR.

Gentlemen--most honorable public--just a few words!

IN THE PIT.

Quiet! Quiet! The fool wishes to speak!

AUTHOR.

For the sake of heaven, do not disgrace me thus; why, the act
will be over directly. Just look, the king, too, is again calmed; take
an example from this great soul which certainly has more reason to be
vexed than you.

FISCHER.

More than we?

WIESENER (_to his neighbor_).

But I wonder why you are stamping? We
two like the play, do we not?

NEIGHBOR.

That's true too--absent-mindedly, because they're all doing
it. (_Claps with might and main._)

AUTHOR.

A few voices are still favorable to me, however. For pity, do
put up with my poor play; a rogue gives more than he has, and it will
be over soon, too. I am so confused and frightened that I can think
of nothing else to say to you.

ALL.

We want to hear nothing, know nothing.

AUTHOR (_raging, drags the peacemaker forward_).

The king is calmed,
now calm this raging flood too, if you can. (_Beside himself, rushes
off._)

[_The peacemaker plays on his bells, the stamping keeps time with the
melody; he motions; monkeys and bears appear and dance fondly around
him. Eagles and other birds. An eagle sits on the head of HINZE who is
very much afraid; two elephants, two lions. Ballet and singing._]

THE FOUR-FOOTED ANIMALS.

That sounds so beautiful!

THE BIRDS.

That sounds so lovely!

CHORUS TOGETHER.

Never have I seen or heard the like!

[_Hereupon an artistic quadrille is danced by all present, the king
and his court retinue are taken into the centre, HINZE and JACKPUDDING
not excluded; general applause. Laughter; people standing up in pit to
see better; several hats fall down from the gallery._]

THE PEACEMAKER (_sings during the ballet and the audience's general
expression of pleasure_).

Could only all good men
Soft bells like these discover
Each enemy would then
With ease be turned to lover.
And life without bad friends would be
All sweet and lovely harmony.

[_The curtain falls, all shout and applaud, the ballet is heard
awhile._]

INTERLUDE

WIESENER.

Splendid! Splendid!

NEIGHBOR.

Well, I'd certainly call that a heroic ballet.

WIESENER.

And so beautifully woven into the main plot!

LEUTNER.

Beautiful music!

FISCHER.

Divine!

SCHLOSS.

The ballet is the only redeeming feature of the play.

BOeTTICH.

I still keep on admiring the acting of the cat. In such
details one recognizes the great and experienced actor; for example,
as often as he took the rabbit out of the sack, he always lifted it by
the ears; that was not prescribed for him; I wonder whether you
noticed how the king grasped it at once by the body? But these animals
are held by the ears because that is where they can best bear it.
That's what I call a master!

MUeLLER.

That is a very fine explanation.

FISCHER (_aside_).

He himself ought to be lifted by the ears for it.

BOeTTICH.

And his terror when the eagle was sitting on his head! How he
did not even move for fear, did not stir or budge--it is beyond
description!

MUeLLER.

You go very deeply into the matter.

BOeTTICH.

I flatter myself I am a bit of a connoisseur; that is of
course not the case with all of you, and for that reason the matter
must be demonstrated to you.

FISCHER.

You are taking great pains!

BOeTTICH.

Oh, when you love art as I do it is a pleasant task! Just now
a very acute thought also occurred to me concerning the cat's boots,
and in them I admire the genius of the actor. You see, at first be is
a cat; for that reason he must lay aside his natural clothing in order
to assume the appropriate disguise of a cat. Then he has to appear
fully as a hunter; that is what I conclude, for every one calls him
that, nor does a soul marvel at him; an unskilful actor would have
dressed himself exactly so too, but what would have happened to our
illusion? We might perhaps have forgotten that he was still originally
a cat and how uncomfortable a new costume would be for the actor over
the fur he already had. By means of the boots, however, he merely
skilfully suggests the hunter's costume; and that such suggestions are
extremely dramatic, the ancients prove to us very excellently, in
often--

FISCHER.

Hush! The third act is beginning.

ACT III

_Room in a peasant's house_

_The_ PLAYWRIGHT. _The_ MACHINIST.

MACHIN.

Then do you really think that will do any good?

PLAYWR.

I beg, I entreat you, do not refuse my request; my only hope
depends on it.

LEUTNER.

Why, what's this again? How did these people ever get into
Gottlieb's room?

SCHLOSS.

I won't rack my brains about anything more.

MACHIN.

But, dear friend, you certainly do ask too much, to have all
this done in such a hurry, entirely on the spur of the moment.

PLAYWR.

I believe you are against me, too; you also rejoice in my
misfortune.

MACHIN.

Not in the least.

PLAYWRIGHT (_falls down before him_).

Then prove it to me by yielding
to my request; if the disapproval of the audience breaks out so loudly
again, then at a motion from me let all the machines play; as it is,
the second act has already closed quite differently from the way it
reads in my manuscript.

MACHIN.

What's this now? Why, who raised the curtain?

PLAYWR.

It never rains but it pours! I am lost! (_He rushes in
embarrassment behind the scenes._)

MACHIN.

There never has been such a confusion on any evening.

[_Exit. A pause._]

WIESENER.

I say, does that belong to the play?

NEIGHBOR.

Of course--why that motivates the transformation to follow.

FISCHER.

This evening ought certainly to be described in the theatre
almanac.

KING (_behind the scenes_).

No, I will not appear, on no condition; I
cannot bear to have any one laugh at me.

PLAYWR.

But you--dearest friend--it can't be changed now.

JACKPUD.

Well, I will try my luck. (_He steps forward and bows
comically to the audience._)

MUeLLER.

Why, what is Jackpudding doing in the peasant's room now?

SCHLOSS.

I suppose he wants to deliver a ridiculous monologue.

JACKPUD.

Pardon me if I make bold to say a few words which do not
exactly belong to the play.

FISCHER.

Oh, you should keep perfectly quiet, we're tired of you even
in the play; moreover, now so very--

SCHLOSS.

A Jackpudding dares to talk to us?

JACKPUD.

Why not? For if people laugh at me, I am not hurt at all;
why, it would be my warmest wish to have you laugh at me. So do not
hesitate.

LEUTNER.

That is pretty funny!

JACKPUD.

Naturally, what scarcely befits the king is all the more
fitting for me; hence he would not appear, but left this important
announcement to me.

MUeLLER.

But we do not wish to hear anything.

JACKPUD.

My dear German countrymen--

SCHLOSS.

I believe the setting of the play is in Asia.

JACKPUD.

But now, you see, I am talking to you merely as an actor to
the spectators.

SCHLOSS.

People, it's all over with me now; I am crazy.

JACKPUD.

Do be pleased to hear that the former scene, which you just
saw, is not part of the play at all.

FISCHER.

Not part of the play? Then how does it get in there?

JACKPUD.

The curtain was raised too soon. It was a private discussion
which would not have taken place on the stage at all if it were not so
horribly crowded behind the scenes. Now if you were deceived, it is of
course so much the worse; then just be kind enough to eradicate this
delusion again; for from now on, do you understand me, only after I
have gone away, will the act really begin. Between you and me, all the
preceding has nothing to do with it at all. But you are to be
compensated; much is coming soon which is very essential to the plot.
I have spoken to the playwright myself and he has assured me of it.

FISCHER.

Yes, your playwright is just the fellow.

JACKPUD.

He's good for nothing, isn't it so? Well, I am glad after
all, that there is still some one else who has the same taste as I--

THE PIT.

All of us, all of us!

JACKPUD.

Your obedient servant; it is too great an honor by far. Yes,
God knows, he is a wretched writer--only to give a bad example; what a
miserable part he has given me! Where, pray, am I witty and funny? I
appear in so few scenes, and I believe, if I hadn't stepped forward
even now, by a lucky chance, I should not have appeared again at all.

PLAYWRIGHT (_rushing forward_).

Impudent fellow--

JACKPUD.

Look, he is even jealous of the small part I am playing now.

PLAYWRIGHT (_on the other side of the stage with a bow_).

Worthy
friends! I never should have dared to give this man a more important
part since I know your taste--

JACKPUDDING (_on the other side_).

_Your_ taste? Now you see his
jealousy--and they have all just declared that my taste is the same as
theirs.

PLAYWR.

I wished, by means of the present play, only to prepare you
for even more extravagant products of the imagination.

ALL IN THE PIT.

How? What?

JACKPUD.

Of course for plays in which I would have no part to act at
all.

PLAYWR.

For the development of this matter must advance step by step.

JACKPUD.

Don't believe a word he says!

PLAYWR.

Now I withdraw, not to interrupt the course of the play any
longer.

[_Exit._]

JACKPUD.

Adieu, until we meet again. (_Exit, returns again quickly._)
_Apropos_--another thing--the discussion which has just taken place
among us is not part of the play either.

[_Exit._]

THE PIT (_laughs_).

JACKPUDDING (_returns again quickly_).

Let us finish the wretched play
today; make believe you do not notice at all how bad it is; as soon as
I get home I'll sit down and write one for you that you will certainly
like.

[_Exit, some applause._]

(_Enter_ GOTTLIEB _and_ HINZE)

GOTTLIEB.

Dear Hinze, it is true you are doing much for me, but I
still cannot understand what good it is going to do me.

HINZE.

Upon my word, I want to make you happy.

GOTTLIEB.

Happiness must come soon, very soon, otherwise it will be
too late; it is already half past seven and the comedy ends at eight.

HINZE.

Say, what the devil does that mean?

GOTTLIEB.

Oh, I was lost in thought--See! I meant to say, how
beautifully the sun has risen. The accursed prompter speaks so
indistinctly; and then if you want to extemporize once in a while, it
always goes wrong.

HINZE (_quietly_).

Do bethink yourself, otherwise the whole play will
break in a thousand pieces.

SCHLOSS.

I wish somebody would tell me why I can no longer understand
anything.

FISCHER.

My intelligence is at a standstill too.

GOTTLIEB.

So my fortune is yet to be determined today?

HINZE.

Yes, dear Gottlieb, even before the sun sets. See, I love you
so much that I would run through fire for you--and you doubt my
sincerity?

WIESENER.

Did you hear that? He is going to run through fire. Ah,
fine, here we get the scene from the _Magic Flute_ too, with the fire
and the water!

NEIGHBOR.

But cats do not go into the water.

WIESENER.

Why so much the greater is the cat's love for his master,
you see; that's just what the author wants to make us understand.

HINZE.

Now what would you like to become in the world, anyhow?

GOTTLIEB.

Oh, I don't know, myself.

HINZE.

Perhaps you'd like to become a prince, or a king?

GOTTLIEB.

That, better than anything.

HINZE.

And do you also feel the strength within you to make a nation
happy?

GOTTLIEB.

Why not? If only I am once happy myself.

HINZE.

Well, then content yourself. I swear to you, you shall mount
the throne.

[_Exit._]

GOTTLIEB.

It would have to come about mysteriously--still, of course,
so many unexpected things happen in the world.

[_Exit._]

BOeTTICH.

Do notice the infinite refinement with which the cat always
holds his cane.

FISCHER.

You've been a bore to us for the longest while; you are even
more tiresome than the play.

SCHLOSS.

You even add to the confusion in our heads.

MUeLLER.

You talk constantly and do not know what you want.

MANY VOICES.

Out! Out! He's a nuisance! (_A crowd;_ BOeTTICHER _finds
himself compelled to leave the theatre._)

FISCHER.

He with his talk about refinement!

SCHLOSS.

He always vexes me when he considers himself a connoisseur.

_An open field_

HINZE (_with knapsack and bag_).

I have become quite accustomed to
hunting. Every day I catch partridges, rabbits and the like, and the
dear little animals are getting more and more practice in being
caught. (_He spreads out his bag._) Now the season of the nightingales
is over, I do not hear a single one singing.

[_Enter the two lovers._]

HE.

Go, you bore me.

SHE.

I am disgusted with you.

HE.

A fine kind of love!

SHE.

Wretched hypocrite, how you have deceived me!

HE.

What has become of your infinite tenderness?

SHE.

And your faithfulness?

HE.

Your rapture?

SHE.

Your infatuation?

BOTH.

The devil has taken it! That comes of marrying.

HINZE.

The hunt has never yet been so disturbed--if you would be
pleased to notice that this open field is clearly too confined for
your sorrows, and climb up some mountain.

HE.

Insolent wretch! (_Boxes_ HINZE _on the ear._)

SHE.

Boor! (_Also boxes_ HINZE _on the ear._)

HINZE (_purrs_).

SHE.

It seems best to me that we be parted again.

HE.

I am at your bidding.

[_Exit the lovers._]

HINZE.

Nice people, these so-called human beings. Just look, two
partridges; I will carry them off quickly. Now, fortune, make haste,
for I myself am almost getting impatient. Now I have no longer any
desire to eat the partridges. It's probably thus, that, by mere habit,
we can implant in our nature every possible virtue.

[_Exit._]

_Hall in the Palace_

_The_ KING _on his throne with the_ PRINCESS; LEANDER _in a lecturer's
chair; opposite him_ JACKPUDDING _in another lecturer's chair; in the
centre of the hall a costly hat, decorated with gold and precious
stones, is fastened on a high pole. The entire court is present._

KING.

Never yet has a person rendered such services to his country as
this amiable Count of Carabas. Our historian has already almost filled
a thick volume, so often has the Count presented me with pretty and
delicious gifts, sometimes even twice a day, through his hunter. My
appreciation of his kindness is boundless and I desire nothing more
earnestly than to find at some time the opportunity of discharging to
some extent the great debt I owe him.

PRINCESS.

Dearest father, would your majesty not most graciously
permit the learned disputation to begin? My heart yearns for this
mental activity.

KING.

Yes, it may begin now. Court scholar--court fool--you both know
that to the one who gains the victory in this disputation is allotted
that costly hat; for this very reason have I had it set up here, so
that you may have it always before your eyes and never be in want of
quick wit.

[LEANDER _and_ JACKPUDDING _bow_.]

LEANDER.

The theme of my assertion is, that a recently published play
by the name of _Puss in Boots_ is a good play.

JACKPUD.

That is just what I deny.

LEANDER.

Prove that it is bad.

JACKPUD.

Prove that it is good.

LEUTNER.

What's this again? Why that's the very play they are giving
here, if I am not mistaken.

MUeLLER.

No other.

SCHLOSS.

Do tell me whether I am awake and have my eyes open.

LEANDER.

The play, if not perfectly excellent, is still to be praised
in several respects.

JACKPUD.

Not one respect.

LEANDER.

I assert that it displays wit.

JACKPUD.

I assert that it displays none.

LEANDER.

You are a fool; how can you pretend to judge concerning wit?

JACKPUD.

And you are a scholar; what can you pretend to understand
about wit?

LEANDER.

Several characters are well-sustained.

JACKPUD.

Not a single one.

LEANDER.

Then, even if I concede else, the audience is well drawn in
it.

JACKPUD.

An audience never has a character.

LEANDER.

I am almost amazed at this boldness.

JACKPUD (_to the pit_).

Isn't he a foolish fellow? Here we are, hand
and glove with each other and sympathize in our views on taste, and he
wishes to assert in opposition to my opinion, that at least the
audience in _Puss in Boots_ is well drawn.

FISCHER.

The audience? Why no audience appears in the play.

JACKPUD.

That's even better! So, then, no audience is presented in it
at all?

MUeLLER.

Why not a bit of it, unless he means the several kinds of
fools that appear.

JACKPUD.

Now, do you see, scholar! What these gentlemen down there are
saying must certainly be true.

LEANDER.

I am getting confused, but still I won't yield the victory to
you.

[_Enter_ HINZE.]

JACKPUD.

Sir Hunter, a word! (HINZE _approaches, they whisper._)

HINZE.
If it's nothing more than that. (_He takes off his boots,
climbs up the pole, then takes the hat, jumps down, then puts his
boots on again._)

JACKPUD.

Victory! Victory!

KING.

The deuce! How clever the hunter is!

LEANDER.

I only regret that I have been vanquished by a fool, that
learning must acknowledge foolishness as its superior.

KING.

Keep still; you wanted the hat, he wanted the hat; so again I
see no difference. But what have you brought, hunter?

HINZE.

The Count of Carabas commends himself most respectfully to your
majesty and sends you these two partridges.

KING.

Too much! too much! I am sinking under the burden of gratitude!
Long since should I have done my duty and visited him; today I will
delay no longer. Have my royal carriage prepared at once--eight horses
in front--I want to go driving with my daughter. You, Hunter, are to
show us the way to the castle of the count.

[_Exit with retinue._]

HINZE. JACKPUDDING

HINZE.

What was your disputation about, anyhow?

JACKPUD.

I asserted that a certain play, which, moreover, I am not
acquainted with at all, _Puss in Boots_, is a wretched play.

HINZE.

So?

JACKPUD.

Adieu, Sir Hunter.

[_Exit._]

HINZE (_alone_).

I'm all in the dumps. I, myself, helped the fool win
a victory against a play in which I myself am taking the leading part.
Fate! Fate! Into what complications do you so often lead us mortals?
But be that as it may. If I only succeed in putting my beloved
Gottlieb on the throne, I will gladly forget all my other troubles.
The king wishes to visit the count? Now that is another bad situation
which I must clear up; now the great, important day has arrived on
which I need you so particularly, you boots. Now do not desert me; all
must be determined today.

[_Exit._]

FISCHER.

Do tell me what this is--the play itself--it appears again as
a play in the play.

SCHLOSS.

Without much ceremony, I am crazy--didn't I say at once, that
is the enjoyment of art which you are said to have here?

LEUTNER.

No tragedy has ever affected me as this farce has.

_In front of the tavern_

THE HOST (_reaping corn with a scythe_).

This is hard work! Well, of
course people cannot be deserting every day either. I only wish the
harvest were over. After all, life consists of nothing but work; now
draw beer, then clean glasses, then pour it out--now even reap. Life
means work--and here some learned folk are even so wicked, in their
books, as to try to put sleep out of fashion, because one does not
live enough for one's time. But I am a great friend of sleep.

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