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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IX by Various

Part 8 out of 13

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can I set against his kindness?

MARY.

And you wanted to go away, you wicked Robert, and leave us all!

ROBERT.

I wanted to go, but I am still here. Oh! That was a wretched time! I
despaired of everything; of you, Mary; of myself; but all that is now
past. There must be a little shade, only not too much. Let us go out,
Mary. It is so close here in the house. The musicians shall play us the
merriest piece they know. [_They are about to go_.]

SCENE III

_The same. Enter the_ FORESTER, _his Wife behind him. As soon as_ MARY
_sees the_ FORESTER, _she leaves_ ROBERT _and embraces her father_.

FORESTER.

Get out, wench! [_Tearing himself free_.] Is this the sun's ray after a
rainy day, that the gadflies come buzzing about one's head? Have you
filled Robert's ears with lamentations, you women folks? You silly girl
there!

[_Pushes_ MARY _from him_.]

I have something to say to Robert. I have been looking for you, Mr.
Stein.

ROBERT.

Mr. Stein? No longer Robert?

FORESTER.

Everything has its due season, familiar speech and formal speech. When
the women folks are gone--

SOPHY.

Don't worry, we'll retreat, you old bear. Don't be afraid to talk.

FORESTER.

All right. As soon as you are out.

ROBERT (_leads her out_).

Don't be angry, mother dear.

SOPHY.

If I were to mind him, I should never cease being angry.

FORESTER.

Close the door! Do you hear?

SOPHY.

Hush, hush!

FORESTER.

Who is master here? Confound it!

SCENE IV

_The_ FORESTER; ROBERT. _The_ FORESTER, _when they are alone becomes
embarrassed, and walks up and down for some time_.

ROBERT.

You wished to say--

FORESTER.

Quite right--

[_Wipes the perspiration from his forehead_.]

Well; sit down, Mr. Stein.

ROBERT.

These preparations--

[FORESTER _points to a chair at the end of the table_. ROBERT _seats
himself_.]

FORESTER (_takes the Bible from the shelf, seats himself opposite_)

ROBERT,(_puts on his spectacles, opens the book and clears his throat_).

Proverbs, chapter 31, verse 10: "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her
price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in
her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and
not evil all the days of her life." [7]

[_Short pause; then he calls brusquely toward_ _the window, while he
remains seated_.]

William, be careful out there! And then further on, verse 30. You'll
trample down all the boxweed, confound you! "Favor is deceitful, and
beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be
praised."--Robert!

ROBERT (_starting_).

Father Ulrich--

FORESTER.

Again, Ecclesiasticus, verse so and so--Mr. Stein--

ROBERT.

Once more "Mister."

FORESTER.

I see I shall have to use the familiar form of address. Otherwise I
shall not be able to speak my mind.--Robert--

ROBERT.

You are so solemn!

FORESTER.

Solemn? Perhaps so. But this affair is enough to make one solemn. I am
not a heathen.

[_Strikes an attitude_.] So you are decided with God's help, Robert--

ROBERT. Well--

FORESTER.

Hang it!--Don't look at me that way!--You intend to marry, Robert?

ROBERT (_rises, surprised_).

Why, you know that--

FORESTER.

That's true. But there must be some sort of introduction. Never mind,
sit down. However, you must give me a chance to finish what I have to
say. On other occasions I am not afraid to talk, but now that I am about
to preach a sermon, it strikes me just as if I were to see the pastor in
his cassock trying to chase a hare.

[_Relieved_.]

Now, then; at last I have struck the trail. Suppose a stag from Luetzdorf
is roaming about. You understand, Robert? Now give me your attention.
This fork here represents the stag. Right here, do you see? Here is the
salt-cellar: that's you. And the wind blows from the direction of that
plate. What are you going to do now in order to stalk the stag? Hey?

[_Trying to assist him_.]

You--well?

ROBERT.

I must--

FORESTER (_nodding assent_).

You must--

[_Makes a pantomime_.]

ROBERT.

I must get to the windward of him.

FORESTER.

Get to the windward. Correct. Do you begin to see what I am driving at?
You must get to the windward of him. That's it! Do you see now? That is
the reason why I had to have a talk with you.

[_Solemnly_.]

You must get to the windward of the stag.

[_Rises_.]

And now--make her happy--Robert--my Mary.

[_About to go_.]

ROBERT.

But what has all this to do with Mary?

FORESTER.

Why, you have not yet understood me? Look here! The stag must not have
an inkling that you are very anxious about him; and much less a woman.
You make too much fuss about the women. Children must not know how
dearly one loves them; anything but that! But women even less so. In
reality, they are nothing but grown-up children, only more shrewd. And
the children are already shrewd enough.--Sit down, Robert, I must tell
you something.

[_They sit at the edge of the table, facing the audience_.]

When that Mary of mine was four years old--no taller than this--I once
came home later than usual. "Where is Mary?" I ask. One child says: "In
her room;" the other: "In front of the house. She'll be here pretty
soon." But one guess was as far from the truth as the other. Evening
comes, night comes--Mary does not appear. I go outside. In the garden,
in the adjoining shrubbery, on the rocks of the dell, in the whole
forest--not a trace of Mary. In the meantime my wife is looking for her
at your house, then at every house in the village, but nowhere can she
find a trace of Mary. Can it be possible that some one should have
kidnapped her? Why, she was as beautiful as a wax-doll, my Mary. The
whole night I never touched my bed. Even at that time Mary was
everything to me. The next morning I alarm the entire village. Not a
person fails to respond. All were passionately fond of Mary. At least I
wished to bury the corpse. In the dell, you know, the thicket of
firs--under the cliffs where on the other side of the brook the old
footpath runs high along the rocks-next to it the willows. This time I
crawl through the whole thicket. In the midst of it is the small open
meadows; there at last I see something red and white. Praised be heaven!
It is she--and neither dead nor ill, no, safe and sound in the green
grass; and after her sleep her little cheeks were as red as peonies,
Robert. But--

[_He looks about him and lowers his voice_.]

I hope she is not listening.

[_Draws closer to_ ROBERT; _whenever he forgets himself, he immediately
lowers his voice_.]

I say: "Is it you, really?" "Of course," she says, and rubs her eyes so
that they sparkle. "And you are alive," I say; "and did not die," I say,
"of hunger and fear?" I say. "Half a day and a whole, night alone in the
forest, in the very thickest of the forest! Come," I say, "that in the
meantime mother may not die of anxiety," I say. Says she: "Wait a while,
father." "But, why and for what?" "Till the child comes again," says
she. "And let us take it with us, please, father. It is a dear child."
"But who, in all the world, is this child?" I ask. "The one that came to
me," says she, "when I ran away from you a little while ago after the
yellow butterfly, and when all at once I was quite alone in the forest
and wanted to cry and call after you, and who picked berries for me and
played with me so nicely." "A little while ago?" I say. "Did not the
night come since then?" I say. But she would not believe that. We looked
for the child and--naturally did not find it. Men no longer have faith
in anything, but I know what I know. Do you understand, Robert? Say
nothing. It seems to me I were committing a sacrilege if I should say it
right out. There, shake hands with me without saying anything. All
right, Robert.--For heaven's sake, don't let her hear what we are saying
about her.

[_Goes softly to the door; looks out_.] MARY (_outside_).

Do you want anything, father?

FORESTER (_nods secretly toward_ ROBERT, _then brusquely_).

Nothing. And don't you come in again before I--

[_Comes back; speaks just above a whisper_.]

Do you see? That's the way to treat her. You make far too much fuss
about that girl. She is [_still more softly_] a girl that any father
might be proud of, and I think she is going to be a wife after God's own
heart. I have such a one. Do you see, I don't mind telling you, because
I know you are not going to repeat it to her. For she must not know it;
otherwise all my pains would go for nothing. And pains it certainly cost
me till I got her so far; pains, I tell you. I advise you not to spoil
my girl, whom I have gone to so much trouble to bring up properly.

ROBERT.

You may think,--but I don't understand you at all.

FORESTER.

There's just the rub! You don't do it purposely. But, confound it! Don't
make such a fuss over the girl, do you hear? If you go on this way, she
will have you in her pocket within a month. The women always want to
rule; all their thoughts and aspirations tend to that end, without being
themselves aware of it. And when they finally do rule, they are unhappy
in spite of it; I know more than one instance of this. I only look
inside the door, and I know for certain what sort of figure the man
cuts. I only look at the cattle. If the dog or the cat is not well
trained, neither are the children; and the wife still less. Hey? My wife
does not yet know me as far as that here [_points to his heart_] is
concerned. And if she should ever get hold of that secret--then good-by,
authority! The wife may be an angel, but the man must act like a bear.
And especially a huntsman. That's part of the business, just as much as
the moustache and the green coat.

ROBERT.

But could it not be possible that--

FORESTER (_eagerly_). No, Robert. Once and for all, no! There is no way
out of it. Either he trains her, or she trains him.--For example; let me
give you only one instance how to go about it. My wife cannot see any
human being suffer; now the poor wretches come in troops, and I should
like to know what is to come of it all, if I were to praise her to her
face. Therefore I grumble and swear like a trooper, but at the same time
I gradually withdraw, so that she has full liberty. And when I notice
that she is through, then I come along again, as if by accident, and
keep on grumbling and swearing. Then people say: "The Hereditary
Forester is harder on the poor than the devil himself, but his wife and
his girl, they are angels from heaven." And they say this so that I
should hear it; and hear it I do. But I pretend not to notice it, and
laugh in my sleeve; and to keep up appearances I bluster all the
more.--It seems the guests are arriving. Robert, my wife, and my girl,
my Mary--if I at some time--you understand me, Robert. Give me your
hand. God is looking down on us.

[_Wipes his eyes_.]

The deuce! Confound it! Don't let the cat out of the bag to the
women--and you rule her as it ought to be.

[_He turns around to hide his emotion, with gestures expressive of his
vexation that he cannot control himself. At the door he encounters the
following_]:

SCENE V

_The same_. STEIN; MOeLLER; WILKENS; MARY; SOPHY. _They exchange
greetings with the_ FORESTER.

STEIN.

What's your hurry, old man? Have you already had a row with him?

FORESTER.

Yes. I have given the young gentleman a lecture on the subject of
women-folks.

STEIN.

High treason against the majesty of petticoat-government? And you permit
that, madam?

SOPHY.

A little more, a little less--when one has to put up with so much!

FORESTER.

And now can anybody say that this woman is not clever enough to get one
under her thumb. But let us have cards. I had to promise Stein that he
should have his revenge today before lunch--

STEIN. Revenge I must have.

[_The_ FORESTER _and_ STEIN _sit down opposite each other on the right
side of the stage and play cards_.]

SOPHY (_watches them a moment; then to_ ROBERT, _while going to and fro
with an air of being very busy_).

I hope to heaven they are not going to discuss the clearing of the
forest today.

MOeLLER (_on the left side, stepping up to_ WILKENS _and pointing to_
MARY, _who is talking to her mother and_ ROBERT).

That is what I call a fine-looking bride!

WILKENS.

And she is not a beggar's child either, Sir.

MOeLLER (_politely_).

Who does not know that Mr. Wilkens is her mother's uncle?

WILKENS (_flattered_).

Well, well!

MOeLLER.

And Mr. Wilkens need not be ashamed, I believe, of the firm of Stein and
Son.

WILKENS (_calmly_).

By no means.

MOeLLER (_with great enthusiasm_).

Sir! The firm of Stein and Son! I have served the firm twenty years.
That is my honor and my pride. For me the firm is wife and child!

WILKENS.

I do not doubt it.

MOeLLER.

The foremost houses of Germany would consider it an honor to ally
themselves in marriage with Stein and Son.

WILKENS. I am sure of it.

[_Turns to the bridal couple_.]

MOeLLER (_angrily to himself_).

And that fellow parades his peasant's pride, as if Stein and Son ought
to esteem it a high honor to ally themselves with that forester's goose.
His forty-five will be divided into three parts, and only after his
death. The only daughter of Loehlein & Co. with her eighty! That were
quite a different capital for our business; and cash down today! This
mesalliance is unpardonable. But what can one do? One must [_A waltz is
heard without_] dance off one's vexation. May I have the honor, madam
[_to_ SOPHY] on the lawn?

[_Bows with an old bachelor's jauntiness_.]

STEIN.

I wonder whether I'll get decent cards!

SOPHY.

I guess we'll have time for that?

WILKENS.

Old Wilkens is not yet going to sit in a corner.

[_Fumbles in his pocket_.]

Wilkens must also contribute his dollar for the benefit of the
musicians. I hope I have your permission, Mr. Bridegroom?

[MOeLLER _leads out_ SOPHY; WILKENS _leads_ MARY; ROBERT _follows_.]

SCENE VI

STEIN; _the_ FORESTER.

STEIN (_throwing down his cards_).

Have I a single trump?

FORESTER (_calling_).

Twenty in spades.

STEIN (_taking up his cards again; impatiently_).

Why not forty? Talking about spades reminds me--have you considered that
matter about the clearing?

FORESTER. That fellow is a--

[_They continue to play_.]

STEIN.

What fellow?

FORESTER.

The fellow who hatched that scheme.

STEIN.

Do you mean me?

FORESTER.

Your Godfrey there--

STEIN (_getting excited: with emphasis_).

_My_ Godfrey?

FORESTER (_growing more and more calm and cheerful_).

Well, for all I care, mine, then.

STEIN.

Why do you always drag him in?

FORESTER.

Never mind him, then.

STEIN.

As if I--it is you--whenever an opportunity offers, you, you drag him
in. You can't get rid of him. Like dough he sticks to your teeth.

FORESTER (_very calmly_).

As, for example, just now.

STEIN.

You have made up your mind to annoy me.

FORESTER.

Nonsense! You only want to pick a quarrel. STEIN. I? But why do you
immediately trump, when I play a wrong card?

FORESTER.

Playing a wrong card means losing the game.

STEIN (_throwing down his cards_).

Well, there you have the whole business!

[_Jumps up_.]

FORESTER. I deal.

[_Shuffles calmly and deals_.]

STEIN (_has taken a few steps_).

I am not going to play any more with you.

FORESTER (_unconcerned_).

But it is my turn to deal.

STEIN (_sits down again_).

Obstinate old fellow!

FORESTER.

You immediately lose your temper.

STEIN (_taking his cards; still angry_).

You would not give in, even if it were as clear as day that you are
wrong!

SCENE VII

_The same. Enter_ MOeLLER, _leading in_ SOPHY; WILKENS. _The waltz
outside is finished_.

SOPHY.

But now I think that--

FORESTER.

One more turn.

SOPHY.

Everything is ready--

FORESTER.

The pastor--

SOPHY.

He sent word that we are not to wait lunch for him. But he would be here
at eleven o'clock sharp for the betrothal.

FORESTER.

Then sit down and eat.

STEIN.

Please, do not let us detain you.

FORESTER.

It is immaterial whether we sit here or there. Now then! Forty in
spades.

[_Continuing to play_.]

STEIN.

All right! Go ahead.

FORESTER (_triumphantly_).

Are not you thinking of Godfrey again? And the clearing? Hey?

STEIN (_controlling himself_).

Now you see--

FORESTER (_more excited_).

That the fellow is a fool--Queens are trumps.

STEIN.

I'm bearing in mind that we are not alone.

FORESTER (_excited by the game_).

And trump--and trump!--the forest shall be cleared!

STEIN.

That will do, I say. The idea was mine.

FORESTER.

And trump.

STEIN.

And if I--[_He controls himself_.]

FORESTER (_triumphantly_).

Well, what then?

[_Puts the cards together_.]

STEIN (_making a desperate effort to contain himself_).

And if I should wish to have it so--if I should insist upon it--then--
FORESTER.

Everything would remain as it is.

STEIN.

The forest would be cleared.

FORESTER.

Nothing of the kind.

STEIN.

We'll see about that. And now the forest _shall_ be cleared.

FORESTER.

It shall _not_.

STEIN.

Sir!

FORESTER (_laughing_).

Mr. Stein!

STEIN.

It's all right! It's all right!

FORESTER (_very calmly_).

As it is.

STEIN.

Not another word--

FORESTER.

And not a tree--

STEIN (_rises_).

No contradiction and no sarcasm! That I request. That I insist upon. I
am the master of Duesterwalde.

FORESTER.

And I am the forester of Duesterwalde.

[STEIN _is getting more and more excited. He shows plainly that the
presence of other persons increases his sensitiveness, and he makes an
evident effort to control his temper. The_ FORESTER _treats the matter
lightly, as an every-day affair_. SOPHY _with increasing anxiety looks
from one to the other_. WILKENS _does not move a muscle of his face_.
MOeLLER _exhibits his sympathy by accompanying his master's words with
appropriate gestures. The entire pantomimic by-play is very rapid_.]

STEIN.

You are my servant, and I command: The forest shall be cleared. If not,
you are no longer my servant. The forest shall be cleared.

FORESTER.

Old hot-head!

STEIN.

Either you obey, or you are no longer forester.

FORESTER.

Stuff and nonsense!

STEIN.

And I shall put Godfrey in your place.

FORESTER.

Quite right. Congratulations.

STEIN (_buttons his coat_).

The forest shall be cleared.

FORESTER.

The forest shall not be cleared.

SOPHY (_stepping between the two_).

But--

STEIN.

I regret this exceedingly.--Mr. Moeller!--I bid everybody good-day.

[_Exit_.]

MOeLLER.

Bravo! At last he has spoken his mind in a manner worthy of Stein and
Son. Yours truly.

[_Follows_ STEIN.]

FORESTER.

I deal--

[_He looks up while shuffling the cards_.]

But--well, let him go. If he can't sit for an hour without exploding,
the old powder-bag--

SCENE VIII

_The_ FORESTER _remains seated imperturbably_. SOPHY _stands beside his
chair_. WILKENS _steps up to the_ FORESTER.

SOPHY.

But what in the world is going to come of this?

WILKENS.

He should have gone after him.

FORESTER. The old hot-head!

SOPHY.

I am absolutely dumbfounded. On the very day of betrothal!

WILKENS.

But for the sake of a few miserable trees he surely is not going to--

FORESTER.

Miserable trees? Thunder! In my forest there is no miserable
tree!--Nonsense. There is no cause for lamentation.

WILKENS.

But Mr. Stein--

FORESTER.

Is not going to run far. When his anger has subsided, he will be the
first one to--he is better than I.

WILKENS.

But--

FORESTER.

Hang it! You always have a "But." That's the way he goes on every day.
For twenty years--

WILKENS.

But today he is your master.

FORESTER.

Master or not. The forest shall not be cleared. WILKENS. But you will
lose your place.

FORESTER.

To Godfrey? Idle talk! Stein himself can't bear Godfrey, and he knows
what I am worth to him. I need not sing my own praise. Show me a forest
anywhere in the whole district that can be compared to mine.--Do you
hear? Why, there he is back again. Sit down. And if he comes in, act as
if nothing had happened.

SCENE IX _The same. Enter_ MOeLLER _rapidly; later_, ANDREW.

FORESTER (_not looking up_).

Well, I deal.

[_Takes the cards, notices his mistake_.]

Is that you, Mr. Moeller?

MOeLLER (_pompously_).

At your service.

FORESTER.

Well, sit down. Has he cooled down again, the old hot-head? Why doesn't
he come in? I suppose he expects me to fetch him?

[_Is about to go_.]

MOeLLER.

Mr. Stein sends me to ask you, sir, whether you have changed your mind.

FORESTER.

I should say not!

MOeLLER.

That you will clear the forest?

FORESTER.

That I will _not_ clear the forest.

MOeLLER.

That means, that you are going to resign your position as forester.

FORESTER.

That means--that you are a fool.

MOeLLER (_very pompously_).

I have been commissioned by Mr. Adolf Friedrich Stein, head of the firm
of Stein and Son, in case you should still persist in your refusal to
execute the command of your master, to announce to you your dismissal,
and to notify Godfrey immediately that he is forester of Duesterwalde.

FORESTER.

And that would be a great pleasure to you--

MOeLLER.

I am not to be considered in this matter. What is to be considered is
the firm of Stein and Son, whom I have the honor to represent. I give
you five minutes time for consideration.

[_Steps to the window_.]

[Illustration: SCHNORR VON CAROLSFELD THE FINDING OF MOSES]

FORESTER.

Dismiss me? Dismiss me? Do you know what that means? Dismiss a man who
has served faithfully for forty years? Good heavens, sir! If I should do
what he wishes--then I deserved to be dismissed. Clear the forest! And
the mountain faces north and northwest, absolutely exposed--

WILKENS.

Well! But this is not a question of your trees.

FORESTER.

So that the wind can rush in and break down everything. Hang it!
Nonsense! He does not mean it at all. If he only comes to his senses--

WILKENS.

That's just what I say. Until it comes to the actual cutting down, one
has time to think a hundred times. And don't you see that it is not at
all the cutting down that Mr. Stein is concerned about? He is only
concerned about maintaining his authority. If he is the master he
necessarily must be right.

FORESTER.

But he is wrong, and I shall not give my consent to anything that is
wrong. For forty years I have disregarded my own interest for the sake
of what was intrusted to my care; I have--

WILKENS.

Well. My opinion is, that if for forty years you have had such tender
regard for your trees, you might now, for once, have a similar regard
for your wife and children and yourself.

FORESTER.

Do you know that to Stein there may result from this a loss of six
thousand dollars? Do you? Of that sum I should deprive him if I
consented. And would you have some one come along and say: "Ulrich gave
his consent to that? In fifteen years there might have been such a
forest of timber, that a forester's heart would have swelled with pride,
and--"

WILKENS.

Well. That might still--

FORESTER.

After the cursed wind from the direction of Hersbruck once has made
havoc in it? You talk as you understand it.

SOPHY (_anxiously_).

But what is to become of us?

FORESTER.

We are honest people, and such we shall remain. WILKENS. Well! As if
honesty entered even remotely into this question!

FORESTER.

But, gracious heavens! What else does enter? Hey? Am I to play the
sycophant? Just try to kick me! You'll soon learn better. And laugh in
my sleeve? Only no honest, fearless word! That is your peasant's
philosophy. As long as they don't touch your pocket-book, you put up
with anything. If you are not compelled--

WILKENS (_self-satisfied_).

Well, yes. If the peasant is not compelled, he moves neither hand nor
foot. There he is quite right. That is the peasant's philosophy. And, I
tell you, this peasant's philosophy is not so foolish. Had you practised
this philosophy, you would have done your duty, and not a penny's worth
more; you would have spent your money on yourself, your wife and your
children, and not to increase somebody else's wealth. In that case, it
would not concern you now what becomes of it.--Whose bread I eat, his
praise I sing. You are paid to be servant, not master. When, therefore,
your master says: The forest shall be cleared--

FORESTER.

Then I must see to it that it is not done. The honest man comes before
the servant.

WILKENS.

Well. Now we are just as far as we were at the beginning.

[_Turns away_.]

SOPHY.

You are not going? You are my only consolation, cousin. No doubt, he
will change his mind. He has the greatest respect for you, cousin.

WILKENS.

I notice he has.

SOPHY.

The betrothal!--Mary! How unfortunate that the pastor has not yet
arrived! Cousin, if you only would--

_Enter_ ANDREW.

WILKENS.

His head is as hard as iron. Can any one make anything plain to him?
MOeLLER (_who until now has been looking out of the window without saying
anything, looks at his watch, and then turns pompously to the_
FORESTER).

Sir, I should like to ask you for your final decision.

FORESTER.

What I have said, I have said.

[_Takes a few steps, then stops_.]

And moreover, he can't do it; I mean, dismiss me. He has no right to
dismiss me. First of all he must produce evidence that I have deserved
it. He has no right to dismiss me without any cause whatever.

MOeLLER (_with authority_).

So you will not clear the forest? Say it plainly: You will not?

FORESTER.

If it was not sufficiently plain to you before, then: No! I can't state
it more plainly. I will not be a scoundrel, and he cannot dismiss an
honest man. Is that plain, definite and unmistakable? I am forester, and
I remain forester--and the forest shall not be cleared. That you may
tell your master and your Godfrey and whomever you please.

SOPHY.

Have only a little patience with him. I am sure Mr. Stein does not mean
it, and you have been so kind already--

MOeLLER.

If the decision rested with me, with me, Justus Moeller,--what would I
not do to please you, madam? But I am here as the representative of
Stein and Son.

FORESTER.

And if he thinks he has a right, let him act accordingly. But you,
woman, do not insult my good right by asking favors of the wrong-doer.
Good-day, Mr. Moeller. Is there anything else you desire? Nothing? Have
you anything else to tell me?

MOeLLER (_very pompously_).

Nothing beyond the fact that your incumbency of the post of forester
ceases with the present moment. Here is your salary--a half year in
advance. In consideration whereof, as soon as possible, within three
days at the latest, you will vacate this house, so that the present
forester may move in, upon whom, from this moment on, rests the sole
responsibility for the forest.

[_The_ FORESTER _is obliged to sit down_.]

SOPHY (_to_ ANDREW, _whom she has been compelled to restrain all the
while, and who now rushes toward the door_).

Where are you going, Andrew?

ANDREW.

I am going to tell Robert what his father--

SOPHY.

Don't you dare to--

ANDREW.

Let me go, mother, before I lay hands on that fellow there--

[_Exit in violent anger_.]

FORESTER.

Never mind. Never mind! Keep quiet, woman.

[_Rises_.]

Good-day, Mr. Moeller. You have left some money behind you, sir. Better
take it, or I'll throw it after you.

[_Steps to the window and whistles_.]

MOeLLER.

You see, madam, it gives me pain to discharge my duty. I am going to
Godfrey.

FORESTER (_without turning toward him_).

Good luck on the way!

SCENE X

_The_ FORESTER _is standing at the window whistling_. WILKENS _is
looking for his cane and hat_. SOPHY _in perplexity looks from one to
the other. As he is about to leave_, MOeLLER _encounters_ ROBERT _and_
ANDREW, _who come rushing in_. MARY _is clinging to the arm of_ ROBERT
_whom she tries to calm_.

ROBERT (_entering angrily_).

He shall give in. He shall not spoil the beautiful day.

ANDREW.

Go to your father. He commenced this quarrel.

MOeLLER.

It is lucky that I meet you, Mr. Stein. I am commissioned to beg you to
come home at once.

[_Exit_.]

ROBERT.

Ulrich, you yield; you must yield.

FORESTER (_turning away from the window_).

You, Mr. Stein? What do you want from me? Mary, you go out there! What
do you want from the man whom your father intends to dismiss?

ROBERT.

But why will you not consent?

ANDREW.

Because he wishes to remain an honest man, and will not suffer himself
to be made a scoundrel by you. [_The_ FORESTER _makes a sign to him to
be silent_.]

ROBERT.

I am not talking to you now, Andrew.

FORESTER.

You are here with your father's consent, Mr. Stein? Moreover--sir, and
if your father had the power to take from me my position and my
honor--the fact that I have an irreproachable child, that is something
he cannot take from me. And any one else--hey? Young man, on this point
I am touchy. Do you understand?

SOPHY.

But will you fall out even with your last friend?

FORESTER.

Mary's reputation is at stake. If he is a friend, he knows without my
telling him what he has to do.

ROBERT.

I know what I have to do; but you do not. Otherwise you would
not risk your children's happiness for a whim--for--

FORESTER.

Ho! ho! Tell that to your father, young man!

ROBERT.

For your obstinacy. I have your word, and Mary has mine; I am a man, and
will be no scoundrel.

FORESTER.

And because you will not be a scoundrel, I am to be one? Shall people
say: "Ulrich caused a quarrel between father and son?" Sir, my girl is
too good to have it said of her that she stole into your family. Mr.
Stein, this is my home. You know what I mean.

SOPHY.

At least let the children--

FORESTER.

Do something foolish? And you look on; and afterward you can do nothing
better than weep.

ROBERT.

Mary, whatever befall--

FORESTER.

I do not know whether I know Mary. If I am mistaken in her then it is
better you go with him at once.

MARY.

Father, he is so true.

FORESTER.

Very well. Go with him.

SOPHY.

So inflexible--

ROBERT. In the name of heaven, Mary, which has
destined us for one another--

FORESTER (_as before, to his wife_).

And let me advise you not to--Do you hear, if it should come to pass--

[_Turns with her toward the background_.]

ANDREW (_bursting out_).

Now it's enough! Mary, either you go or he goes.

SOPHY.

Now you are beginning too, Andrew! [_Goes to him on the left side of the
stage_.]

ANDREW.

I have been silent long enough. Let me alone, mother. His father has
insulted my father; I will not allow this fellow to insult my sister
also.

ROBERT.

You belong to me, Mary. I should like to see him who--keep your hands
off!

MARY.

Robert, it is my brother!

ANDREW (_threatening_).

Only one step further, or--

ROBERT.

Away, I say; for God's sake--

ANDREW.

You are no match for me--

ROBERT.

Not with the point of your finger shall you touch what belongs to me. I
defy you all--

ANDREW.

Do you hear that, father?

FORESTER (_stepping between the two_).

Back there, fellow! Who is master in this house?

ANDREW.

If you are master, father, then show that you are. Otherwise let me show
it to that fellow there.

FORESTER.

Andrew, go over there, and say not another word!

ANDREW.

Father--

FORESTER.

Will you mind what I say?

[ANDREW _pulls a rifle from the wall_.]

FORESTER.

What are you doing there?

ANDREW (_with suppressed rage_).

Nothing. Here in the house you are master. Outside no one is master;
outside we all are.

FORESTER.

In my forest I am master.

ANDREW.

But not a step beyond.

FORESTER.

What do you mean? Answer!

ANDREW.

Nothing particular, father. Only that fellow there need know.--If you
are not concerned about your own honor--I shall protect Mary's honor.
That is for him who dares to come near Mary.

SOPHY.

What words are those?

ROBERT.

Idle words. It is children that are afraid of words.

ANDREW.

There will be something more than words, as surely as I am a man.

ROBERT.

If you were a man you would not threaten, you--

ANDREW.

If we were somewhere else, you would not taunt--

FORESTER.

Andrew!

ROBERT.

Make room--

ANDREW.

Get out, I say--

[FORESTER _almost at the same time puts his finger in his mouth and
gives a shrill whistle_.]

ANDREW.

If you no longer--

FORESTER (_stepping between the two_).

Rebellious boys! Hold your peace! Don't you dare to strike, either one
of you! You confounded fellow! When I need a guardian I certainly shall
not select a greenhorn. Is it I who is master here or is it some one
else? What business have you here, fellow? Get you gone into the forest;
look after Weiler that he does not loaf; then take out a dozen maple
trees from the nursery and put them up in damp moss; see to it that the
messenger from Haslau does not have to wait when he comes. Not a word!
Along with you!

[ANDREW _obeys and goes, after having cast a threatening look at_
ROBERT, _to which the latter replies_.]

FORESTER.

And you, Mr. Stein; good-day, Mr. Stein. You know what I mean.

SOPHY.

If you would intercede with your father; but gently and kindly! And if
you would bring him back!

MARY.

Then I should see how truly you love me, Robert.

FORESTER (_less roughly_).

Don't come again before that. Good-by, Robert. And leave that girl
alone.

ROBERT.

I am going. But come what may, I shall not resign my claim upon Mary.
[_Exit_.]

SOPHY.

Is everything to turn out unlucky today? And you, cousin, are you also
going to leave us?

WILKENS.

Well! If one insists on running his head through a wall, I'm not the
fool to hold my hand in between.

[_Exit_.]

ACT II

_In the Manor House_

SCENE I

STEIN _alone, seated._

STEIN.

Confound his obstinacy! The whole fine day spoiled! Otherwise
we should now be at table. I suppose he is right after all, that this
clearing serves no goad purpose. But is that a reason why he should put
me into this rage? It is true, I should have been wiser than he.
Probably my excitement was also partly to blame.--I am only sorry for
his wife--and the children. I am going to--[_Rises, then sits down
again._] Do what? Repair one foolish action with another? Be as rash in
yielding as I was in taking offense? The old hotspur! But that shall
serve me as a lesson.

[_Short pause. Then he rises again, takes his cane and hat and throws
both down again._]

No, it won't do--It simply will not do. Well! I should make myself
ridiculous forever! This time he must come to me; I can't help him. But
perhaps he has already--isn't that Moeller?

[_Hastens toward the person coming in._]

SCENE II

ROBERT; STEIN.

ROBERT (_entering, in a passion_).

You will ruin my happiness, father?

STEIN (_surprised, indignant_).

Robert!

ROBERT.

You have no right to do that.

STEIN.

That's the last straw! Now you too must come along and set me fuming.

ROBERT.

Father, you have me fetched away from the betrothal festivities like a
child from his playthings. But I am no child to whom one gives and takes
away as one likes. I have your word, and you must keep it. Do you intend
to sacrifice my happiness to a whim? Paternal authority cannot go so
far.

STEIN.

But tell me, what is your object in saying this?

ROBERT.

I wish to ask you whether you intend to bring about a reconciliation
between the forester and yourself.

STEIN.

Boy, how can you dare to ask? Do you mean to call me to account? Go to
that obstinate fellow. It is he that is in the wrong; it is he that must
yield!

ROBERT.

I just came from the forester; he referred me to you.

STEIN.

I can do nothing. And now leave me in peace.

ROBERT.

You will do nothing toward a reconciliation?

STEIN.

Nothing, unless he yields. And now go your ways.

ROBERT.

If you will do nothing toward a reconciliation I shall never again cross
his threshold. Andrew and I have become mortal enemies. Perhaps this
very day I shall face him in an encounter for life and death. Come what
may, I have done everything I was able to do. Father, no blame can
attach to me. If a catastrophe takes place--you could have prevented it,
the forester could have prevented it. Mary is mine, and neither you nor
the forester shall take her from me.

STEIN.

Are you mad, boy? To your room this moment! Do you hear?

ROBERT.

Father, I ask you--

STEIN.

You shall obey, not ask!

ROBERT.

Your anger carries you away. Father, I implore you, do not tear open the
wound which healed only because I made allowance for your excited state.
I shall wait till you have become calm; till you are again master of
yourself.

STEIN.

You see that I am master of myself. You try to provoke me by all means,
and you do not succeed. But now not another word! Not a sound!

ROBERT (_beside himself_).

Not a word? A hundred words, a thousand words; as many as I have breath
to utter. I _will_ speak; until I have relieved myself of this load on
my heart, I will speak! You may forbid your Moeller, your blacksmiths to
speak, not me! Show your impatience as much as you want, remain or
go--speak I _will_. Once for all you shall know that I will no longer
stand being treated like a boy, that I will be free, that I can stand on
my own feet, that you shall be obliged to respect me, that I will be
neither your toy nor any man's!

STEIN.

Do you threaten me with the old song? I know it by heart. You are still
here? I thought you had gone. Oh, indeed! You mean to speak, do you?
Speak, do what you wish. I shall not prevent you.

ROBERT (_calmly, with the accent of determination_).

And if you wished to prevent me, it were too late. I insist upon my
right, even if it should cost my own or another's life. But I hold you
and the forester responsible.

STEIN (_who is beginning to repent his anger_).

Boy--

ROBERT.

Farewell--perhaps forever! [_Rushes out_.]

SCENE III

STEIN _alone; later, the_ PASTOR.

STEIN (_forgetting himself, going a few steps after him_).

Where are you going? Robert! My boy!--Curse it! I have scarcely got over
my anger, and the next moment--But does it not seem as though all had
entered into a conspiracy to keep me in a turmoil of excitement? If he
really has had a falling out and meets those hotspurs--But I cannot run
after him. Will he come back?

_Enter the_ PASTOR.

STEIN.

You, parson? You find me here.

PASTOR.

I have heard of the affair.

[_Shakes hands_.]

STEIN.

Robert, my boy--

PASTOR.

Almost knocked me down. He wants to leave home again, hey? We'll manage
to hold him.

STEIN.

And with that obstinate old fellow--

PASTOR.

I know. It's the old story again, the everlasting story, the ending of
which one always knows in advance.

STEIN.

But this time one cannot be so certain.

PASTOR.

True. It is more complicated than usual, because at the same time the
affair of the young gentleman was mixed up with it. Moreover, the young
gentleman this time has also had words with Andrew. However--

STEIN.

Isn't that he who is coming along there?

SCENE IV

MOeLLER; STEIN; _the_ PASTOR.

STEIN.

You, Moeller? What is the prospect? Will he yield?

MOeLLER.

So little does he think of yielding that he even wishes me to tell you,
you have not the power to dismiss him.

STEIN.

He thinks I have not the power?

[_More composed_.]

If he only thought I had not the intention!--And you have tried
everything?

MOeLLER.

Everything.

STEIN.

Did you also threaten him with Godfrey? As if he were to be appointed
forester, as if you were to deliver to him his commission immediately,
in case--

MOeLLER.

As if I were to?--My instructions were more definite. I bring you
Godfrey's respectful acknowledgment; he accepts the position.

STEIN.

He ac--he accepts it? He really accepts it? What an obliging man he is,
that Godfrey! And you into the bargain--with your haste. Have you
entirely lost your senses, sir? The whole thing was intended to scare
Ulrich. I wanted him to listen to reason--to yield. And if in the first
heat I actually did say it as you understood it, you should have
interpreted it differently. You know that in my heart I am not thinking
of dismissing that old man who is worth a thousand times more--but you
understand it, you understood it right, but--now that it is too late, I
recall you always opposed this marriage.

MOeLLER.

I have served the firm of Stein and Son for twenty years, time enough to
learn at last that one can serve too faithfully. I have done nothing but
execute your instructions literally. And if, in spite of that, you
persist in misjudging me, then this must be my consolation. I have never
compromised the dignity of Stein and Son.

[_Sits down to work_.]

STEIN.

Then the dignity of Stein and Son may thank you for what you have done;
I shall not. [_Pause_.] And yet, when one considers the matter calmly,
what else was to be done? After all that took place? Don't be uneasy; I
simply asserted myself as master.

PASTOR.

That is quite a new sensation!

STEIN.

Now I have confronted him with that confounded alternative,
before old Wilkens there. Surely, I cannot--confound the rash word!--a
word that in my innermost heart I did not mean seriously, and which now
becomes fate, because I did not take the pains to keep that word under
control.

PASTOR.

Indeed! it is exceedingly disagreeable for discretion to acknowledge the
debts that passion has contracted. Why, in the name of common sense, did
you not have your quarrel by yourselves, as usual?

STEIN (_who has been walking up and down_).

No, it will not do. And yet, if I think of those hot-headed
boys--Moeller, please send immediately for my Robert; send some one to
find him and tell him that I must speak with him.

[_Exit_ MOeLLER, _and returns soon_.]

STEIN.

I can't help the obstinate old fellow; this time _he_ must knuckle
under. I cannot go back on my word; that he must see himself. And by
this time he also may have come to his senses. But in order that he may
see that I am ready to do whatever I can toward a reconciliation,
without losing my dignity--how would it be, parson, if you went to see
him? His post, I dare say, he must resign for the time being; but his
present salary he may--yes, he shall draw twice the amount. He may
regard it as a pension, until further notice. I should think--after all,
his is the chief fault in this business--in this way he is let off
easily enough for his share.

PASTOR.

I am going at once.

STEIN.

And I shall accompany you part of the way. I ought not to walk all
alone.

[_Exeunt to the left_.]

SCENE V

MOeLLER _alone; later,_ GODFREY.

MOeLLER.

Even if the marriage with Miss Loehlein should not come to pass, at least
Stein and Son have asserted themselves. It used to turn my stomach to
see how he always was the first to make up. This time I am satisfied
with my chief, and will not mind his rebuke. But who is making that
noise out there? [_At the door_.] It is lucky that they went through the
rooms. It is Godfrey. And in what condition! What sort of man do you
call that? [_Leads in _GODFREY, _who is intoxicated_.]

GODFREY (_while still behind the scenes_).

Where is Stein? Hey there, fellow! Stein, I say! Is that you, Moeller?

MOeLLER (_with a patronizing air_).

There can be no doubt that it is you. What do you want here?

GODFREY (_while_ MOeLLER _pushes him down on a chair_).

Thank him, why, I must thank him. Fetch Stein. Thank him, for that's the
fashion.

MOeLLER.

In this condition?

GODFREY (_while_ MOeLLER _is obliged to hold him forcibly down on the
chair_).

Condition? What's my condition to you? That I want to express my thanks
is condition enough. Let me alone with my condition. Is he in? Hey?

MOeLLER.

Nobody is in there. Be glad that nobody is in. You are past all help.
You have made up your mind not to get along. Those who have your
interest at heart can never do anything for your advantage without your
doing something that counteracts their efforts a hundredfold, so that
everything is spoiled. My master already repents having given you the
post, and now you at once give him an opportunity--

GODFREY.

You stupid fellow, you. With your patronizing air, hang it! As if you
did not want to make a break between Stein and Ulrich because of that
Loehlein girl. I should know that, even if I were as stupid as that
confounded, patronizing fellow of a Moeller. That's all I have to say.
And what of it, that I am forester for a day? For it won't be two days
before those two cronies are again one heart and one soul; after that
it's all over with my forester's job. You think you are a decent fellow,
because you are not thirsty. It will last one day--for one day I shall
be sp--spite-forester--and that day I have turned to account, my dear
fellow--with Ulrich's Andrew--turned to account, my dear fellow. Come,
my dear fellow, for I am jolly, my dear fellow. You patronizing fellow
of a Moeller. [_Embrace him_.]

MOeLLER (_ashamed and very much embarrassed, trying to keep him off_).

For heaven's sake, what are you thinking of? If any one should see this!
Shame on you!

[_Making an effort to recover his dignity_.]

You have hatched a scheme with Ulrich's Andrew, have you?

GODFREY.

Scheme, scheme! I have had a talk with him, do you know? Because of
yesterday, you know? and because of my grudge against his old man, you
know? You know nothing, you know? When he hears it he'll bite his white
beard with rage, the old man will.

MOeLLER.

But what the deuce could you have put into Andrew's head?

GODFREY.

What? Nothing. You'll learn it soon enough. Hey? Thirst, thirst--that is
my wail, that is my chronic ill-health, my misery; that is the cause of
my gout; that will kill me while I am still young. Where is Stein?

MOeLLER.

Now come along to my room and drink a cup of black coffee, so that you
may recover your senses. Then I must go to the blast-furnace. I'll take
you along as far as the mill in the dell, and then you go the rest of
the way to your home. One has to tie your hands, if you are not to drive
away your good fortune.

GODFREY (_while_ MOeLLER _is leading him off_).

Where is he? Hey, there! Where is he? Stein!

SCENE VI

_In the_ FORESTER's _house_.

SOPHY _alone; then_ WEILER; _and, later, the_ FORESTER.

SOPHY (_closing the window_).

Robert hasn't come back yet, nor the pastor.

WEILER (_entering through the centre door_).

Bless my soul, if he don't come to grief! But who, in thunder, is really
forester? I wonder whether the mistress has saved me anything? But,
anyhow, I have no appetite. Well!

SOPHY.

I suppose it has become cold by this time.

[_Takes from the oven a plate with food, from the closet bread, etc.,
and puts it on the table to the left_.]

WEILER.

We shall all be cold some day.

[_Sits down to eat_.]

FORESTER (_has entered from the side_).

Have you found the trail of the stag from Luetzdorf again?

WEILER.

Stalking about. But that's the way it goes. As soon as they are man and
wife, master and servant--then love and friendship fly out of the
window.

FORESTER.

What do you mean by "stalking about?"

WEILER.

On his four legs he stood by the boundary forest in the oats, and was
eating.

FORESTER.

Who?

WEILER.

The stag from Luetzdorf.

FORESTER (_emphatically_).

A stag does not--eat; he browses.

WEILER.

All right!

SOPHY (_waiting on him_).

But what is your news?

WEILER.

Well--

SOPHY.

I wonder whether I shall hear anything now? If I don't care to know
anything, then you never get through talking.

FORESTER (_stands before him; severely_).

Weiler, do you hear?

WEILER.

Well, Godfrey. Today he has grown six inches; he immediately put on his
laced hat, girded on his hunting knife and drank two bitters and a half
dozen glasses of whisky more than usual; in consequence he has need of a
road that's broader than the ordinary by half.

FORESTER.

Have you done eating?

WEILER.

Almost. But tell me, who is now the real forester of Duesterwalde? The
other fellow is already giving orders to the woodcutters for the
clearing, so he must be the forester. But you also act as if you were
still forester.

FORESTER.

You may be sure, I still am. I am forester of Duesterwalde, and nobody
else.

WEILER.

You intend to carry your point? But I'll tell you who is in the right
nowadays [_makes a pantomime of counting money_]--whoever has the
longest breath.--Who is coming there in such a hurry?

SCENE VII

WILKENS _enters as hurriedly as his figure permits_. WEILER _eating_;
FORESTER; SOPHY.

WILKENS (_while entering_).

But what in the world has happened here? Good-day to you all.

SOPHY (_alarmed_).

Happened! But for heaven's sake--has anything happened?

FORESTER.

You immediately lose your head.

WILKENS.

You'll see, you obstinate fellow!

SOPHY.

But what is the meaning of all this?

WILKENS.

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