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The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann - Volume II
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THE DRAMATIC WORKS

OF

GERHART HAUPTMANN

(Authorized Edition)



Edited By LUDWIG LEWISOHN

Assistant Professor in The Ohio State University



VOLUME TWO: SOCIAL DRAMAS

1913



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION By the Editor.

DRAYMAN HENSCHEL (Fuhrmann Henschel) Translated by the Editor.

ROSE BERND (Rose Bernd) Translated by the Editor.

THE RATS (Die Ratten) Translated by the Editor.



INTRODUCTION

The first volume of the present edition of Hauptmann's Dramatic Works is identical in content with the corresponding volume of the German edition. In the second volume The Rats has been substituted for two early prose tales which lie outside of the scope of our undertaking. Hence these two volumes include that entire group of dramas which Hauptmann himself specifically calls social. This term must not, of course, be pressed too rigidly. Only in Before Dawn and in The Weavers can the dramatic situation be said to arise wholly from social conditions rather than from the fate of the individual. It is true, however, that in the seven plays thus far presented all characters are viewed primarily as, in a large measure, the results of their social environment. This environment is, in all cases, proportionately stressed. To exhibit it fully Hauptmann uses, beyond any other dramatist, passages which, though always dramatic in form, are narrative and, above all, descriptive in intention. The silent burden of these plays, the ceaseless implication of their fables, is the injustice and inhumanity of the social order.

Hauptmann, however, has very little of the narrow and acrid temper of the special pleader. He is content to show humanity. It is quite conceivable that the future, forgetful of the special social problems and the humanitarian cult of to-day, may view these plays as simply bodying forth the passions and events that are timeless and constant in the inevitable march of human life. The tragedies of Drayman Henschel and of Rose Bernd, at all events, stand in no need of the label of any decade. They move us by their breadth and energy and fundamental tenderness.

No plays of Hauptmann produce more surely the impression of having been dipped from the fullness of life. One does not feel that these men and women—Hanne Schael and Siebenhaar, old Bernd and the Flamms—are called into a brief existence as foils or props of the protagonists. They led their lives before the plays began: they continue to live in the imagination long after Henschel and Rose have succumbed. How does Christopher Flamm, that excellent fellow and most breathing picture of the average man, adjust his affairs? He is fine enough to be permanently stirred by the tragedy he has earned, yet coarse enough to fall back into a merely sensuous life of meaningless pleasures. But at his side sits that exquisite monitor—his wife. The stream of their lives must flow on. And one asks how and whither? To apply such almost inevitable questions to Hauptmann's characters is to be struck at once by the exactness and largeness of his vision of men. Few other dramatists impress one with an equal sense of life's fullness and continuity,

"The flowing, flowing, flowing of the world."

The last play in this volume, The Rats, appeared in 1911, thirteen years after Drayman Henschel, nine years after Rose Bernd. A first reading of the book is apt to provoke disappointment and confusion. Upon a closer view, however, the play is seen to be both powerful in itself and important as a document in criticism and Kulturgeschichte. It stands alone among Hauptmann's works in its inclusion of two separate actions or plots—the tragedy of Mrs. John and the comedy of the Hassenreuter group. Nor can the actions be said to be firmly interwoven: they appear, at first sight, merely juxtaposed. Hauptmann would undoubtedly assert that, in modern society, the various social classes live in just such juxtaposition and have contacts of just the kind here chronicled. His real purpose in combining the two fables is more significant. Following the great example, though not the precise method, of Moliere, who produced La Critique de l'Ecole des Femmes on the boards of his theater five months after the hostile reception of L'Ecole des Femmes, Hauptmann gives us a naturalistic tragedy and, at the same time, its criticism and defense. His tenacity to the ideals of his youth is impressively illustrated here. In his own work he has created a new idealism. But let it not be thought that his understanding of tragedy and his sense of human values have changed. The charwoman may, in very truth, be a Muse of tragedy, all grief is of an equal sacredness, and even the incomparable Hassenreuter—wind-bag, chauvinist and consistent Goetheaner—is forced by the essential soundness of his heart to blurt out an admission of the basic principle of naturalistic dramaturgy.

The group of characters in The Rats is unusually large and varied. The phantastic note is somewhat strained perhaps in Quaquaro and Mrs. Knobbe. But the convincingness and earth-rooted humanity of the others is once more beyond cavil or dispute. The Hassenreuter family, Alice Ruetterbusch, the Spittas, Paul John and Bruno Mechelke, Mrs. Kielbacke and even the policeman Schierke—all are superbly alive, vigorous and racy in speech and action.

The language of the plays in this volume is again almost wholly dialectic. The linguistic difficulties are especially great in The Rats where the members of the Berlin populace speak an extraordinarily degraded jargon. In the translation I have sought, so far as possible, to differentiate the savour and quaintness of the Silesian dialect from the coarseness of that of Berlin. But all such attempts must, from their very nature, achieve only a partial success. The succeeding volumes of this edition, presenting the plays written in normal literary German, will offer a fairer if not more fascinating field of interpretation.

LUDWIG LEWISOHN.



DRAYMAN HENSCHEL



LIST OF PERSONS

DRAYMAN HENSCHEL.

MRS. HENSCHEL.

HANNE SCHAeL (later MRS. HENSCHEL).

BERTHA.

HORSE DEALER WALTHER.

SIEBENHAAR.

KARLCHEN.

WERMELSKIRCH.

MRS. WERMELSKIRCH.

FRANZISKA WERMELSKIRCH.

HAUFFE.

FRANZ.

GEORGE.

FABIG.

HILDEBRANT.

VETERINARIAN GRUNERT.

FIREMAN.

Time: Toward the end of the eighteen sixties. Scene: The "Gray Swan" hotel in a Silesian watering place.



THE FIRST ACT

A room, furnished peasant fashion, in the basement of the "Grey Swan" hotel. Through two windows set high in the left wall, the gloomy light of a late winter afternoon sickers in. Under the windows there stands a bed of soft wood, varnished yellow, in which MRS. HENSCHEL is lying ill. She is about thirty-six years of age. Near the bed her little six-months-old daughter lies in her cradle. A second bed stands against the back wall which, like the other walls, is painted blue with a dark, plain border near the ceiling. In front, toward the right, stands a great tile-oven surrounded by a bench. A plentiful supply of small split kindling wood is piled up in the roomy bin. The wall to the right has a door leading to a smaller room. HANNE SCHAeL, a vigorous, young maid servant is very busy in the room. She has put her wooden pattens aside and walks about in her thick, blue stockings. She takes from the oven an iron pot in which food is cooking and puts it back again. Cooking spoons, a twirling stick and a strainer lie on the bench; also a large, thick earthenware jug with a thin, firmly corked neck. Beneath the bench stands the water pitcher. HANNE'S skirts are gathered up in a thick pad; her bodice is dark grey; her muscular arms are bare. Around the top of the oven is fastened a square wooden rod, on which long hunting stockings are hung up to dry, as well as swaddling clothes, leathern breeches and a pair of tall, water-tight boots. To the right of the oven stand a clothes press and a chest of drawers—old fashioned, gaily coloured, Silesian pieces of furniture. Through the open door in the rear wall one looks out upon a dark, broad, underground corridor which ends in a glass door with manicoloured panes. Behind this door wooden steps lead upward. These stairs are always illuminated by a jet of gas so that the panes of the door shine brightly. It is in the middle of February; the weather without is stormy.

FRANZ, a young fellow in sober coachman's livery, ready to drive out, looks in.

FRANZ

Hanne!

HANNE

Eh?

FRANZ

Is the missis asleep?

HANNE

What d'you suppose? Don't make so much noise!

FRANZ

There's doors enough slammin' in this house. If that don't wake her up—! I'm goin' to drive the carriage to Waldenburg.

HANNE

Who's goin'?

FRANZ

The madam. She's goin' to buy birthday presents.

HANNE

Whose birthday is it?

FRANZ

Little Karl's.

HANNE

Great goin's on—those. To hitch up the horses on account o' that fool of a kid an' travel to Waldenburg in such weather!

FRANZ

Well, I has my fur coat!

HANNE

Those people don't know no more how to get rid o' their money! We got to slave instead!

In the passage appears, slowly feeling his may, the veterinarian GRUNERT. He is a small man in a coat of black sheep's fur, cap and tall boots. He taps with the handle of his whip against the door post in order to call attention to his presence.

GRUNERT

Isn't Henschel at home yet?

HANNE

What's wanted of him?

GRUNERT

I've come to look at the gelding.

HANNE

So you're the doctor from Freiburg, eh? Henschel, he's not at home. He went to Freiburg carryin' freight; seems to me you must ha' met him.

GRUNERT

In which stall do you keep the gelding?

HANNE

'Tis the chestnut horse with the white star on his face, I believe they put him in the spare stall. [To FRANZ.] You might go along an' show him the way.

FRANZ

Just go straight across the yard, 's far as you can, under the big hall, right into the coachman's room. Then you c'n ask Frederic; he'll tell you!

[Exit GRUNERT.

HANNE

Well, go along with him.

FRANZ

Haven't you got a few pennies change for me?

HANNE

I s'pose you want me to sell my skin on your account?

FRANZ

[Tickling her.] I'd buy it right off.

HANNE

Franz! Don't you—! D'you want the woman to wake up? You don't feel reel well, do you, if you can't wring a few farthings out o' me! I'm fair cleaned out. [Rummaging for the money.] Here! [She presses something into his hand.] Now get out!

[The bell rings.

FRANZ

[Frightened.] That's the master. Good-bye.

[He goes hastily.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Has waked up and says weakly.] Girl! Girl! Don't you hear nothin'?

HANNE

[Roughly.] What d'you want?

MRS. HENSCHEL

I want you to listen when a body calls you!

HANNE

I hear all right! But if you don't talk louder I can't hear. I got only just two ears.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Are you goin' to cut up rough again?

HANNE

[Surly.] Ah, what do I—!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Is that right, eh? Is it right o' you to talk rough like that to a sick woman?

HANNE

Who starts it, I'd like to know! You don't hardly wake up but what you begin to torment me. Nothin's done right, no matter how you do it!

MRS. HENSCHEL

That's because you don't mind me!

HANNE

You better be doin' your work yourself. I slaves away all day an' half o' the night! But if things is that way—I'd rather go about my business!

[She lets her skirts fall and runs out.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Girl! Girl!—Don't do that to me! What is it I said that was so bad? O Lord, O Lord! What'll happen when the men folks comes home? They wants to eat! No, girl ... girl!

[She sinks back exhausted, moans softly, and begins to rock her baby's cradle by means of a cord which is within her reach.

Through the glass door in the rear KARLCHEN squeezes himself in with some difficulty. He carries a dish full of soup and moves carefully and timidly toward MRS. HENSCHEL'S bed. There he sets down the dish on a wooden chair.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Eh, Karlchen, is that you! Do tell me what you're bringin' me there?

KARLCHEN

Soup! Mother sends her regards and hopes you'll soon feel better and that you'll like the soup, Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Eh, little lad, you're the best of 'em all. Chicken soup! 'Tis not possible. Well, tell your mother I thank her most kindly. D'you hear? Don't go an' forget that! Now I'll tell you somethin', Karlchen! You c'n do me a favour, will you? See that rag over there? Get on this bench, will you, an' pull the pot out a bit. The girl's gone off an' she put it too far in.

KARLCHEN

[After he has found the rag mounts the bench cheerfully and looks into the oven. He asks:] The black pot or the blue one, Mrs. Henschel?

MRS. HENSCHEL

What's in the blue pot?

KARLCHEN

Sauerkraut.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Agitated.] Pull it out! That'll be boilin' to nothin'!—Eh, what a girl, what a girl!

KARLCHEN

[Has pulled the pot in question forward.] Is this right?

MRS. HENSCHEL

You c'n let it stand that way! Come here a bit now an' I'll give you a piece o' whip cord. [She takes the cord from the window-sill and gives it to him.] An' how is your mother?

KARLCHEN

She's well. She's gone to Waldenburg to buy things for my birthday.

MRS. HENSCHEL

I'm not well, myself. I think I'm goin' to die!

KARLCHEN

Oh, no, Mrs. Henschel!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Yes, yes, you c'n believe me; I'm goin' to die. For all I care you can say so to your mother.

KARLCHEN

I'm goin' to get a Bashly cap, Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Yes, yes, you c'n believe me. Come over here a bit. Keep reel still an' listen. D'you hear how it ticks? D'you hear how it ticks in the rotten wood?

KARLCHEN

[Whose wrist she holds in her fevered grasp.] I'm afraid, Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Oh, never mind. We all has to die! D'you hear how it ticks? Do you? What is that? 'Tis the deathwatch that ticks. [She falls back.] One ... two ... one ...—Oh, what a girl, what a girl!

KARLCHEN, released from her grasp, withdraws timidly toward the door. When his hand is on the knob of the glass door a sudden terror overtakes him. He tears the door open and slams it behind him with such force that the panes rattle. Immediately thereupon a vigorous cracking of whips is heard without. Hearing this noise MRS. HENSCHEL starts up violently.

MRS. HENSCHEL

That's father comin'!

HENSCHEL

[Out in the hallway and yet unseen.] Doctor, what are we goin' to do with the beast?

[He and the veterinarian are visible through the doorway.

GRUNERT

He won't let you come near him. We'll have to put the twitch on him, I think.

HENSCHEL

[He is a man of athletic build, about forty-five years old. He wears a fur cap, a jacket of sheep's fur under which his blue carter's blouse is visible, tall boots, green hunting stockings. He carries a whip and a burning lantern.] I don't know no more what's wrong with that beast. I carted some hard coal from the mine yesterday. I came home an' unhitched, an' put the horses in the stable, an'—that very minute—the beast throws hisself down an' begins to kick.

[He puts his long whip in a corner and hangs up his cap.

HANNE returns and takes up her work again, although visibly enraged.

HENSCHEL

Girl, get a light!

HANNE

One thing after another!

HENSCHEL

[Puts out the light in the lantern and hangs it up.] Heaven only knows what all this is comin' to. First my wife gets sick! Then this here horse drops down! It looks as if somethin' or somebody had it in for me! I bought that gelding Christmas time from Walther. Two weeks after an' the beast's lame. I'll show him. Two hundred crowns I paid.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Is it rainin' outside?

HENSCHEL

[In passing.] Yes, yes, mother; it's rainin'.—An' it's a man's own brother-in-law that takes him in that way.

[He sits down on the bench.

HANNE has lit a tallow candle and puts it into a candle stick of tin, which she sets on the table.

MRS. HENSCHEL

You're too good, father. That's what it is. You don't think no evil o' people.

GRUNERT

[Sitting down at the table and writing a prescription.] I'll write down something for you to get from the chemist.

MRS. HENSCHEL

No, I tell you, if that chestnut dies on top o' everythin' else—! I don't believe God's meanin' to let that happen!

HENSCHEL

[Holding out his leg to HANNE.] Come, pull off my boots for me! That was a wind that blew down here on the road from Freiburg. People tell me it unroofed the church in the lower village more'n half, [To HANNE.] Just keep on tuggin'! Can't you get it?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[To HANNE.] I don't know! You don't seem to learn nothin'!

[HANNE succeeds in pulling off one boot. She puts it aside and starts on the other.

HENSCHEL

Keep still, mother! You don't do it any better!

HANNE

[Pulls off the second boot and puts it aside. Then in a surly voice to HENSCHEL.] Did you bring me my apron from Kramsta?

HENSCHEL

All the things I'm axed to keep in my head! I'm content if I c'n keep my own bit of business straight an' get my boxes safe to the railroad. What do I care about women or their apron-strings?

GRUNERT

No, you're not famous for caring about them.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' it'd be a bad thing if he was!

HENSCHEL

[Slips on wooden pattens and rises. To HANNE.] Hurry now! Hurry! We got to get our dinner. This very day we still has to go down to the smithy.

GRUNERT

[Has finished writing his prescription, which he leaves lying on the table. He slips his note book and pencil back into his pocket and says as he is about to go:] You'll hurry this to the chemist's. I'll look in early in the morning.

[HENSCHEL sits down at the table.

HAUFFE comes in slowly. He has wooden pattens on and leathern breeches and also carries a lighted lantern.

HAUFFE

That's dirty weather for you again!

HENSCHEL

How's it goin' in the stable?

HAUFFE

He's goin' to end by knockin' down the whole stall.

[He blows out the light in the lantern and hangs it up next to HENSCHEL'S.

GRUNERT

Good night to all of you. All we can do is to wait. We doctors are only human too.

HENSCHEL

To be sure. We know that without your telling us! Good night; I hope you won't overturn. [GRUNERT goes.] Now tell me, mother, how is it with you?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Oh. I've been worritin' so much again!

HENSCHEL

What is it that worries you?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Because for all I c'n do, I'm not able to lend a hand even.

HANNE places a disk of dumplings and one of sauerkraut on the table; she takes forks from the table drawer and puts them on the table.

HENSCHEL

The girl's here to do the work!

MRS. HENSCHEL

A girl like her is that thoughtless!

HENSCHEL

Oh, we gets enough to eat an' everythin' seems to go smoothly.—If you hadn't got up out o' bed too soon the first time, you might be dancin' this day!

MRS. HENSCHEL

O Lord, me an' dancin'. What an idea!

HANNE has prepared three plates, putting a small piece of pork on each. She now draws up a stool for herself and sits down at the table.

HAUFFE

There's not much left o' the oats, neither.

HENSCHEL

I bought some yesterday; thirty sacks. Saturday a load o' hay'll come too. The feed gets dearer all the time.

HAUFFE

If the beasts is to work they has to eat.

HENSCHEL

But people thinks they live on air, an' so everybody wants to cut down the carting charges.

HAUFFE

He said somethin' like that to me too.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Who said that—the inspector?

HENSCHEL

Who else but him? But this time he met the wrong man.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, well, I'm not sayin', but that's the end of everythin'! What's to become of us these hard times?

HANNE

The inspector of roads was here. He wants you to send him teams for the big steam roller, I believe. They're in Hinterhartau now.

Behind the glass door MR. SIEBENHAAR is seen descending the stairs. He is little over forty. Most carefully dressed; black broadcloth coat, white waist-coat, light-coloured, English trousers—an elegance of attire derived from the style of the 'sixties. His hair, already grey, leaves the top of his head bald; his moustache, on the contrary, is thick and dark blond. SIEBENHAAR wears gold-rimmed spectacles. When he desires to see anything with exactness, he must use, in addition, a pair of eye-glasses which he slips in behind the lenses of his spectacles. He represents an intelligent type.

SIEBENHAAR

[Approaches the open door of the room. In his right hand he holds a candle-stick of tin with an unlit candle in it and a bunch of keys; with his left hand he shades his sensitive eyes.] Has Henschel come back yet?

HENSCHEL

Yes, Mr. Siebenhaar.

SIEBENHAAR

But you're just at your dinner. I have something to do in the cellar. We can talk that matter over later.

HENSCHEL

No, no; you needn't put nothin' off on my account. I'm through!

SIEBENHAAR

In that case you'd better come up to see me. [He enters the room and lights his candle by the one which is burning on the table.] I'll only get a light here now. We're more undisturbed in my office.—How are you, Mrs. Henschel? How did you like the chicken-soup?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Oh, goodness, gracious! I clean forgot about it!

SIEBENHAAR

Is that so, indeed?

HANNE

[Discovering the dish of chicken soup.] That's true; there it stands.

HENSCHEL

That's the way that woman is! She'd like to get well an' she forgets to eat and to drink.

SIEBENHAAR

[As a violent gust of wind is felt even indoors.] Do tell me: what do you think of it? My wife's driven over to Waldenburg, and the weather is getting wilder and wilder. I'm really beginning to get worried. What's your opinion?

HENSCHEL

I s'pose it sounds worse than it is.

SIEBENHAAR

Well, well, one shouldn't take such risks. Didn't you hear that rattling? The wind broke one of the large windows in the dining-hall looking out over the verandah. You know. It's a tremendous storm!

HENSCHEL

Who'd ha' thought it!

MRS. HENSCHEL

That'll be costin' you a good bit again!

SIEBENHAAR

[Leaving the room by way of the passage to the left.] There's nothing inexpensive except death.

HENSCHEL

He's got his bunch o' troubles like the rest of us.

MRS. HENSCHEL

What do you think he wants o' you again, father?

HENSCHEL

Nothin'! How c'n I tell? I'll hear what he says.

MRS. HENSCHEL

I do hope he won't be askin' for money again.

HENSCHEL

Don't begin talkin' nonsense, mother.

HANNE

But if them people is as hard up as all that, why does the woman has to have a twenty shillin' hat?

HENSCHEL

You hold your tongue! No one asked you! You poke your nose over your kneadin' board an' not into other folks' affairs! It takes somethin' to keep a hotel like this goin'. Two months in the year he makes money. The rest o' the time he has to do the best he can.

HAUFFE

An' he had to go an' build atop o' that!

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' 'twas that as got him in worse'n ever. He should ha' let it be.

HENSCHEL

Women don't understand nothin' o' such affairs. He had to build; he couldn't do no different. We gets more an' more people who come here for their health nowadays; there wasn't half so many formerly. But in those times they had money; now they wants everythin' for nothin'. Get the bottle. I'd like to drink a nip o' whiskey.

HAUFFE

[Slowly clasping his knife and getting ready to rise.] Forty rooms, three big halls, an' nothin' in 'em excep' rats an' mice. How's he goin' to raise the interest?

[He rises.

FRANZISKA WERMELSKIRCH peeps in. She is a pretty, lively girl of sixteen. She wears her long, dark hair open. Her costume is slightly eccentric: the skirts white and short, the bodice cut in triangular shape at the neck, the sash long and gay. Her arms are bare above the elbows. Around her neck she wears a coloured ribbon from which a crucifix hangs down.

FRANZISKA

[Very vivaciously.] Wasn't Mr. Siebenhaar here just now? I wish you a pleasant meal, ladies and gentlemen! I merely took the liberty of asking whether Mr. Siebenhaar hadn't been here just now?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Gruffly.] We don't know nothin'. He wasn't with us!

FRANZISKA

No? I thought he was!

[She puts her foot coquettishly on the bench and ties her shoe strings.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Mr. Siebenhaar here an' Mr. Siebenhaar there! What are you always wantin' of the man?

FRANZISKA

I? nothing! But he's so fond of gooseliver. Mama happens to have some and so papa sent me to tell him so.—By the way, Mr. Henschel, do you know that you might drop in to see us again, too!

MRS. HENSCHEL

You just let father bide where he is! That'd be a fine way! He's not thinkin' about runnin' into taverns these days.

FRANZISKA

We're broaching a new keg to-day, though.

HENSCHEL

[While HAUFFE grins and HANNE laughs.] Mother, you stick to your own affairs. If I should want to go an' drink a glass o' beer I wouldn't be askin' nobody's consent, you c'n be sure.

FRANZISKA

—How are you anyhow, Mrs. Henschel?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Oh, to-morrow I'll be gettin' me a sash too an' take to rope-dancin'.

FRANZISKA

I'll join you. I can do that splendidly. I always practice on the carriage shafts.

HENSCHEL

So that's the reason why all the shafts are bent!

FRANZISKA

Do you see, this is the way it's done; this is the way to balance oneself. [Imitating the movements of a tight rope dancer, she prances out by the door.] Right leg! Left leg! Au revoir!

[Exit.

HAUFFE

[Taking down his lantern.] She'll go off her head pretty soon if she don't get no husband.

[Exit.

MRS. HENSCHEL

If she had to lend a hand an' work good an' hard, she'd get over that foolishness.

HANNE

She's not allowed to come upstairs. Mrs. Siebenhaar won't have her.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' she's right there. I wouldn't bear it neither.

HANNE

She's always chasin' an' sniffin' around Mr. Siebenhaar. I'm willin' people should please theirselves. But she's goin' it hard.

MRS. HENSCHEL

The Siebenhaars ought to put them people out. The goin's on with the men an' the wenches.

HENSCHEL

Aw, what are you talkin' about, mother?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, in the tap room.

HENSCHEL

Well, they has to live same as anybody. D'you want to see 'em put in the streets? Wermelskirch's not a bad fellow at all.

MRS. HENSCHEL

But the woman's an old witch.

HENSCHEL

If he pays his rent nothin' won't happen to him on that account. An' not on account o' the girl by a long way. [He has arisen and bends over the cradle.] We've got a little thing like that here too, an' nobody's goin' to put us out for that!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Eh, that would be ...! She's asleep all the time; she don't seem to want to wake up!

HENSCHEL

There's not much strength in her.—Mother, sure you're not goin' to die!—[Taking his cap from the nail.] Hanne, I was just foolin' you a while ago. Your apron is lyin' out there in the waggon.

HANNE

[Eagerly.] Where is it?

HENSCHEL

In the basket. Go an' look for it!

[HENSCHEL leaves by way of the middle door; HANNE disappears into the small adjacent room.

MRS. HENSCHEL

So he brought her the apron after all!

HANNE runs quickly through the room again and goes out by the middle door.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' he brought her the apron after all!

SIEBENHAAR enters carefully, carrying his candle and keys as before and, in addition, two bottles of claret.

SIEBENHAAR

All alone, Mrs. Henschel?

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' he brought the apron ...

SIEBENHAAR

It's me, Mrs. Henschel. Did you think it was a stranger?

MRS. HENSCHEL

I don't hardly believe ...

SIEBENHAAR

I hope I didn't wake you up. It's me—Siebenhaar.

MRS. HENSCHEL

To be sure. Yes. To be sure.

SIEBENHAAR

And I'm bringing you a little wine which you are to drink. It will do you good.—Is it possible you don't recognize me?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, now, that'd be queer. You are, sure—you are our Mr. Siebenhaar. Things hasn't come to such a pass with me yet. I recognise you all right!—I don't know: has I been dreamin' or what?

SIEBENHAAR

You may have been. How are you otherwise?

MRS. HENSCHEL

But sure enough you're Siebenhaar.

SIEBENHAAR

Perhaps you thought I was your husband!

MRS. HENSCHEL

I don't know ... I reely can't say ... I was feelin' so queer ...

SIEBENHAAR

Seems to me you're not lying comfortably. Let me straighten your pillows a bit. Does the doctor see you regularly?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[With tearful excitement.] I don't know how it is—they just leaves me alone. No, no, you're Mr. Siebenhaar, I know that. An' I know more'n that: you was always good to me an' you has a good heart, even if sometimes you made an angry face. I can tell you: I'm that afraid! I'm always thinkin': it don't go quick enough for him.

SIEBENHAAR

What doesn't go quick enough?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Bursting into tears.] I'm livin' too long for him—! But what's to become o' Gustel?

SIEBENHAAR

But, my dear Mrs. Henschel, what kind of talk is that?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Sobbing softly to herself.] What's to become o' Gustel if I die?

SIEBENHAAR

Mrs. Henschel, you're a sensible woman! And so do listen to me! If one has to lie quietly in bed, you see, the way you have had to do unfortunately—week after week—why then one naturally has all kinds of foolish thoughts come into one's head. One has all sorts of sickly fancies. But one must resist all that resolutely, Mrs. Henschel! Why, that would be a fine state of affairs, if that—! Such stuff! Put it out of your mind, Mrs. Henschel! it's folly!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Dear me, I didn't want to believe it: I know what I says!

SIEBENHAAR

That's just what you don't know. That's just what, unfortunately, you don't know at present. You will simply laugh when you look back upon, it later. Simply laugh!

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Breaking out passionately.] Didn't he go an' see her where she sleeps!

SIEBENHAAR

[Utterly astonished but thoroughly incredulous.] Who went to see whom?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Henschel! The girl!

SIEBENHAAR

Your husband? And Hanne? Now look here; whoever persuaded you of that is a rascally liar.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' when I'm dead he'll marry her anyhow!

HENSCHEL appears in the doorway.

SIEBENHAAR

You're suffering from hallucinations, Mrs. Henschel!

HENSCHEL

[In good-natured astonishment.] What's the matter, Malchen? Why are you cryin' so?

SIEBENHAAR

Henschel, you mustn't leave your wife alone!

HENSCHEL

[Approaches the bed in kindly fashion.] Who's doin' anythin' to you?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Throws herself in sullen rage on her other side, turning her back to HENSCHEL and facing the wall.] ... Aw, leave me in peace!

HENSCHEL

What's the meanin' o' this?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Snarling at him through her sobs.] Oh, go away from me!

HENSCHEL, visibly taken aback, looks questioningly at SIEBENHAAR, who polishes his glasses and shakes his head.

SIEBENHAAR

[Softly.] I wouldn't bother her just now.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[As before.] You're wishin' me into my grave!

SIEBENHAAR

[To HENSCHEL, who is about to fly into a rage.] Sh! Do me the favour to keep still!

MRS. HENSCHEL

A body has eyes. A body's not blind! You don't has to let me know everythin'. I'm no good for nothin' no more; I c'n go!

HENSCHEL

[Controlling himself.] What do you mean by that, Malchen?

MRS. HENSCHEL

That's right! Go on pretendin'!

HENSCHEL

[Perplexed in the extreme.] Now do tell me—anybody ...!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Things c'n go any way they wants to ... I won't be deceived, an' you c'n all sneak aroun' all you want to! I c'n see through a stone wall! I c'n see you for all—yes—for all! You thinks: a woman like that is easy to deceive. Rot, says I! One thing I tell you now—If I dies, Gustel dies along with me! I'll take her with me! I'll strangle her before I'd leave her to a damned wench like that!

HENSCHEL

But mother, what's come over you?

MRS. HENSCHEL

You're wishin' me into my grave!

HENSCHEL

Hold on, now, hold on! Or I'll be gettin' wild!

SIEBENHAAR

[Warning him softly.] Be calm, Henschel. The woman is ill.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Who has overheard.] Ill? An' who was it made me ill? You two—you an' your wench!

HENSCHEL

Now I'd like to know who in the world put notions like that into your head? The girl an' I! I don't understand the whole blasted thing! I'm supposed to have dealin's with her?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Don't you fetch aprons an' ribands for her?

HENSCHEL

[With renewed perplexity.] Aprons and ribands?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Yes, aprons and ribands.

HENSCHEL

Well, that's the queerest thing—!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Don't you think everythin' she does right an' fine? D'you ever give her a angry word? She's like the missis of the house this very day.

HENSCHEL

Mother, keep still: I'm advisin' you!

MRS. HENSCHEL

'Tis you that has to keep still, 'cause there's nothin' you c'n say!

SIEBENHAAR

[Standing by the bed.] Mrs. Henschel, you must collect yourself! All this you're saying is the merest fancy!

MRS. HENSCHEL

You're no better'n he; you don't do no different! An' the poor women—they dies of it! [Dissolved in self-pitying tears.] Well, let 'em die!

SIEBENHAAR gives a short laugh with an undertone of seriousness, steps up to the table and opens one of the bottles of wine resignedly.

HENSCHEL

[Sitting on the edge of the bed speaks soothingly] Mother, mother—you turn over now an' I'll say a word to you in kindness. [He turns her over with kindly violence.] Look at it this way, mother: You've been havin' a dream. You dreamed—that's it! Our little dog, he dreams queer things too now an' then. You c'n see it. But now wake up, mother! Y'understan'? The stuff you been talkin'—if a man wanted to make a load o' that the strongest freight waggon'd break down. My head's fair spinnin' with it.

SIEBENHAAR

[Having looked for and found a glass which he now fills.] And then you raked me over the coals too!

HENSCHEL

Don't take no offence, sir. A woman like that! A man has his troubles with her.—Now you hurry up, mother, an' get well, or some fine day you'll be tellin' me I been to Bolkenhain an' stole horses.

SIEBENHAAR

Here, drink your wine and try to gain some strength.

MRS. HENSCHEL

If only a body could be sure!

SIEBENHAAR supports her while she drinks.

HENSCHEL

What's wrong now again?

MRS. HENSCHEL

[After she has drunk.] Could you give me a promise?

HENSCHEL

I'll give you any promise you wants.

MRS. HENSCHEL

If I dies, would you go an' marry her?

HENSCHEL

Don't ask such fool questions.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Yes or no!

HENSCHEL

Marry Hanne? [Jestingly.] O' course I would!

MRS. HENSCHEL

I mean it—serious ...!

HENSCHEL

Now I just wish you'd listen to this, Mr. Siebenhaar! What's a man to say? You're not goin' to die!

MRS. HENSCHEL

But if I does?

HENSCHEL

I won't marry her anyhow! Now you see? An' now you know it! We can make an end o' this business.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Can you promise it?

HENSCHEL

Promise what?

MRS. HENSCHEL

That you wouldn't go an' marry the girl!

HENSCHEL

I'll promise, too; I'm willin' to.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' you'll give me your hand in token?

HENSCHEL

I'm tellin' you: Yes. [He puts his hand into hers.] But now it's all right. Now don't worry me no more with such stuff.

THE CURTAIN FALLS.



THE SECOND ACT

A beautiful forenoon in May.

The same room as in the first act. The bed, in which MRS. HENSCHEL lay, is no longer there. The window which it covered is wide open. HANNE, her face toward the window, her sleeves turned up above her elbows, is busy at the washtub.

FRANZ, his shirt-sleeves and trousers also rolled up, his bare feet in wooden pattens, comes in carrying a pail. He has been washing waggons.

FRANZ

[With awkward merriment.] Hanne, I'm comin' to see you! Lord A'mighty! Has you got such a thing as some warm water?

HANNE

[Angrily throwing the piece of linen which she has on the washboard back into the tub and going over to the oven.] You come in here a sight too often!

FRANZ

Is that so? What's wrong, eh?

HANNE

[Pouring hot water into the pail.] Don't stop to ask questions. I got no time.

FRANZ

I'm washin' waggons; I'm not idlin' neither.

HANNE

[Violently.] You're to leave me alone! That's what you're to do! I've told you that more'n once!

FRANZ

What am I doin' to you?

HANNE

You're not to keep runnin' after me!

FRANZ

You've forgotten, maybe, how it is with us?

HANNE

How 'tis with us? No ways; nothin'! You go you way an' I goes mine, an' that's how it is!

FRANZ

That's somethin' bran' new!

HANNE

It's mighty old to me!

FRANZ

That's how it seems.—Hanne, what's come between us!

HANNE

Nothin', nothin'! Only just leave me alone!

FRANZ

Has you anythin' to complain of? I been true to you!

HANNE

Oh, for all I care! That's none o' my business! Carry on with anybody you want to! I got nothin' against it!

FRANZ

Since when has you been feelin' that way?

HANNE

Since the beginnin' o' time!

FRANZ

[Moved and tearful.] Aw, you're just lyin', Hanne!

HANNE

You don't need to start that way at me. 'Twon't do you no good with me! I don't let a feller like you tell me I'm lyin'! An' now I just want you to know how things is. If your skin's that thick that you can't be made to notice nothin' I'll tell you right out to your face: It's all over between us!

FRANZ

D'you really mean that, Hanne?

HANNE

All over—an' I want you to remember that.

FRANZ

I'll remember it all right! [More and more excited and finally weeping more than speaking.] You don't need to think I'm such a fool; I noticed it long before to-day. But I kept thinkin' you'd come to your senses.

HANNE

That's just what I've done.

FRANZ

It's all the way you look at it. I'm a poor devil—that's certain; an' Henschel—he's got a chest full o' money. There's one way, come to think of it, in which maybe you has come to your senses.

HANNE

You start at me with such talk an' it just makes things worse an' worse. That's all.

FRANZ

It's not true, eh? You're not schemin' right on to be Mrs. Henschel? I'm not right, eh?

HANNE

That's my business. That don't concern you. We all has to look out for ourselves.

FRANZ

Well, now, supposin' I was to look out for myself, an' goes to Henschel an' says: Hanne, she promised to marry me; we was agreed, an' so....

HANNE

Try it, that's all I says.

FRANZ

[Almost weeping with pain and rage.] An' I will try it, too! You take care o' yourself an' I'll take care o' myself. If that's the way you're goin' to act, I c'n do the same! [With a sudden change of front.] But I don't want to have nothin' more to do with you! You c'n throw yourself at his head for all I cares! A crittur like you isn't good enough for me!

[Exit hastily.

HANNE

So it worked at last. An' that's all right.

While HANNE continues busy at her washing, WERMELSKIRCH appears in the passage at the rear. He is a man in the fifties; the former actor is unmistakable in him. He wears a thread-bare dressing-gown, embroidered slippers, and smokes a very long pipe.

WERMELSKIRCH

[Having looked in for a while without being noticed by HANNE.] Did you hear him cough?

HANNE

Who?

WERMELSKIRCH

Why, a guest—a patient—has arrived upstairs.

HANNE

'Tis time they began to come. We're in the middle of May.

WERMELSKIRCH

[Slowly crosses the threshold and hums throatily.]

A pulmonary subject I, Tra la la la la, bum bum! It can't last long until I die, Tra la la la la, bum bum!

[HANNE laughs over her washing.] Things like that really do one good. They show that the summer is coming.

HANNE

One swallow don't make no summer, though!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Clears a space for himself on the bench and sits down.] Where is Henschel?

HANNE

Why he went down, to the cemetery to-day.

WERMELSKIRCH

To be sure, it's his wife's birthday. [Pause.] It was a deuce of a blow to him, that's certain.—Tell me, when is he coming back?

HANNE

I don't know why he had to go an' drive there at all. We needs the horses like anything an' he took the new coachman with him too.

WERMELSKIRCH

I tell you, Hanne, anger spoils one's appetite.

HANNE

Well, I can't help bein' angry! He leaves everythin' in a mess. The 'bus is to leave on time! An' the one-horse carriage sticks in the mud out there an' Hauffe can't budge it! The old fellow is as stiff as a goat!

WERMELSKIRCH

Yes, things are beginning to look busy. The chef upstairs starts in to-day. It's beginning to look up in the tap-room too.

HANNE

[With a short derisive laugh.] You don't look, though, as if you had much to do!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Taking no offence.] Oh, that comes later, at eleven o'clock. But then I'm like a locomotive engine!

HANNE

I believe you. There'll be a lot o' smoke. You won't let your pipe get cold whatever happens.

WERMELSKIRCH

[Smiling a little.] You're pleased to be pointed in your remarks—pointed as a needle.—We've got to-day, for our table music, wait now, let me think—: First of all, a bass violin; secondly, two cellos; thirdly, two first violins and two second violins. Three first, two second, three second, two first: I'm getting mixed up now. At all events we have ten men from the public orchestra. What are you laughing at? Do you think I'm fooling you? You'll see for yourself. The bass violin alone will eat enough for ten. There'll be work enough to do!

HANNE

[Laughing heartily.] Of course: the cook'll have a lot to do!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Simply.] My wife, my daughter, the whole of my family—we have to work honestly and hard.—And when the summer is over we've worked ourselves to the bone—for nothing!

HANNE

I don't see what you has to complain of. You've got the best business in the house. Your taproom don't get empty, if it's summer or winter. If I was Siebenhaar upstairs, you'd have to whistle a different tune for me. You wouldn't be gettin' off with no three hundred crowns o' rent. There wouldn't be no use comin' around me with less'n a thousand. An' then you'd be doin' well enough for yourself!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Has arisen and walks about whistling.] Would you like anything else? You frighten me so that my pipe goes out!

GEORGE, a young, alert, neat waiter comes very rapidly down the stairs behind the glass door, carrying a tray with breakfast service. While still behind the door he stops short, opens the door, however, and gazes up and down the passage way.

GEORGE

Confound it all! What's this place here?

HANNE

[Laughing over her tub.] You've lost your way! You has to go back!

GEORGE

It's enough, God knows, to make a feller dizzy, No horse couldn't find his way about this place.

HANNE

You've just taken service here, eh?

GEORGE

Well o' course! I came yesterday. But tell me, ladies an' gentlemen! Nothin' like this has ever happened to me before. I've been in a good many houses but here you has to take along a kind o' mountain guide to find your way.

WERMELSKIRCH

[Exaggerating the waiter's Saxonian accent.] Tell me, are you from Dresden, maybe?

GEORGE

Meissen is my native city.

WERMELSKIRCH

[As before.] Good Lord A'mighty, is that so indeed?

GEORGE

How do I get out of here, tell me that!

HANNE

[Alert, mobile, and coquettish in her way in the waiter's presence.] You has to go back up the stairs. We has no use down here for your swallow tails.

GEORGE

This is the first story, eh? Best part o' the house?

HANNE

You mean the kennels or somethin' like that? We'll show you—that we will! The very best people live down here!

GEORGE

[Intimately and flirtatiously.] Young woman, do you know what? You come along an' show me the way? With you I wouldn't be a bit afraid, no matter where you lead me to. I'd go into the cellar with you or up into the hay loft either.

HANNE

You stay out o' here! You're the right kind you are! We've got enough of your sort without you.

GEORGE

Young woman, do you want me to help with the washin'?

HANNE

No! But if you're aimin' at it exackly, I c'n help you to get along! [Half drawing a piece of linen out of the suds.] Then you'd be lookin' to see where your starched shirt-front went to!

GEORGE

O dear! You're not goin' to mess me up that way, are you? Well, well, that wouldn't do! We'd have to have a talk about that first! That so, young woman? Well, o' course! We'll talk about it—when I has time, later.

[He mounts the stairs and disappears.

WERMELSKIRCH

He won't lose his way very often after this! Siebenhaar will see to it that he gets to know the way from the dining hall to the kitchen.—Hanne, when is Henschel coming back?

HANNE

About noon, I s'pose! D'you want me to give him a message?

WERMELSKIRCH

Tell him—don't forget, now—tell him that I—send him my regards.

HANNE

Such foolishness. I might ha' thought ...!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Passing her with a slight bow.] Thoughts are free ... I wish you a good morning.

[Exit.

HANNE

[Alone, washing vigorously.] If only Henschel wasn't such a fool!

Above the cellar, outside, the pedlar FABIG, kneeling down, looks in at the window.

FABIG

Good mornin', young woman! How are you? How's everythin'?

HANNE

Who are you anyhow?

FABIG

Why—Fabig, from Quolsdorf. Don't you know me no more? I'm bringin' you a greetin' from your father. An' he wants me to tell you ... Or maybe you'd want me to come in?

HANNE

Aw, I know. I believe you. He wants money again. Well, I has none myself.

FABIG

I told him that myself. He wouldn't believe me. Are you all alone, young woman?

HANNE

Why d'you ax?

FABIG

[Lowering his voice.] Well now you see, there's more'n one thing I has on my heart. An', through the window, people might be hearin' it.

HANNE

Oh well, I don't care. You c'n come in! [FABIG disappears from the window.] That that feller had to be comin' to-day ...!

[She dries her hands.

FABIG enters. He is a poorly clad, strangely agile, droll pedlar, with a sparse beard, about thirty-six years old.

FABIG

A good mornin' to you, young woman.

HANNE

[Fiercely.] First of all, I'm no young woman but a girl.

FABIG

[With cunning.] Maybe so. But from all I hears you'll be married soon.

HANNE

That's nothin' but a pack o' mean lies—that's what it is.

FABIG

Well, that's what I heard. It's no fault o' mine. People is sayin' it all over; because Mrs. Henschel died ...

HANNE

Well, they can talk for all I care. I does my work. That's all that concerns me.

FABIG

That's the best way. I does that way myself. There's little that folks hasn't said about me some time ... In Altwasser they says I steals pigeons. A little dog ran after me ... o' course, they said I stole it.

HANNE

Well now, if you got anythin' to say to me, go ahead an' don't waste words.

FABIG

Now you see, there you are. That's what I always says too. People talks a good deal more'n they ought to. They has a few rags to sell an' they talks an' talks as if it was an estate. But I'll say just as little as possible. What I wants to tell you about, young woman—now don't fly up: the word just slipped out!—I meant to say: lass—what I wants to tell you about is your daughter.

HANNE

[Violently.] I has no daughter, if you want to know it. The girl that father is takin' care of, is my sister's child.

FABIG

Well now, that's different, that is. We've all been thinkin' the girl was yours. Where is your sister?

HANNE

Who knows where she is? She's not fool enough to tell us. She thinks, thinks she: they c'n have the trouble an' see how they gets along.

FABIG

Well, well, well! There you see again how folks is mistaken. I'd ha' taken any oath ... an' not me, not me alone, but all the folks over in Quolsdorf, that you was the mother o' that child.

HANNE

Yes, I knows right well who says that o' me. I could call 'em all by name! They'd all like to make a common wench o' me. But if ever I lays my hands on 'em I'll give 'em somethin' to remember me by.

FABIG

Well, it's a bad business—all of it! Because this is the way it is: the old man, your father, I needn't be tellin' you—things is as they is—he don't hardly get sober. He just drinks in one streak. Well, now that your mother's been dead these two years, he can't leave the little thing—the girl I mean—at home no more. The bit o' house is empty. An' so he drags her around in the pubs, in all kinds o' holes, from one village taproom to the next. If you sees that—it's enough to stir a dumb beast with pity.

HANNE

[With fierce impatience.] Is it my fault that he swills?

FABIG

By no means an' not at all. Nobody c'n keep your old man from doin' his way! 'Tis only on account o' the child, an' it's that makes a body feel sorry. But if that there little one can't be taken away from him an' given in the care o' decent folks, she won't live no ten weeks after this.

HANNE

[Hardening herself.] That don't concern me. I can't take her. I got all I can do to get along!

FABIG

You'd better come over to Quolsdorf some time an' look into it all. That'd be best, too. The little girl ... 'tis a purty little thing, with bits o' hands an' feet like that much porcelain, so dainty an' delicate.

HANNE

She's not my child an' she don't concern me.

FABIG

Well, you better come over an' see what's to be done. It's hard for people to see such things goin' on. If a man goes into an inn, in the middle of the night or some time like that—I got to do that, you see, in the way o' business—an' sees her sittin' there with the old man in the midst o' tobacco smoke—I tell you it hurts a body's soul.

HANNE

The innkeepers oughtn't to serve him nothin'. If they was to take a stick an' beat him out o' their places, maybe he'd learn some sense.—A waggon's just come into the yard. Here you got a sixpence. Now you get along an' I'll be thinkin' it all over. I can't do nothin' about it this minute. But if you goes aroun' here in the inns an' talks about it—then it's all over between us.

FABIG

I'll take good care, an' it don't concern me. If it's your child or your sister's child—I'm not goin' to poke my nose in the parish register, nor I'm not goin' to say nothin' neither. But if you want a bit o' good advice,'tis this: Tell Henschel straight out how 'tis. He won't tear your head off by a long way!

HANNE

[With increasing excitement as HENSCHEL'S voice grows more clearly audible.] Oh this here jabberin'! It's enough to drive you crazy.

[Exit into the adjoining room.

HENSCHEL enters slowly and seriously. He wears a black suit, a top hat and white knitted gloves.

HENSCHEL

[Remains standing and looks at FABIG with an expression of slow recollection. Simply and calmly.] Who are you?

FABIG

[Alertly.] I buy rags, waste paper, furniture, cast off clothes, anythin' that happens to be aroun'.

HENSCHEL

[After a long glance, good-naturedly but with decision.] Out with the fellow!

FABIG withdraws with an embarrassed smile.

HENSCHEL

[Takes off his top-hat and wipes his forehead and neck with a manicoloured handkerchief. Thereupon, he places his hat on the table and speaks toward the door of the next room:] Girl, where are you?

HANNE

I'm with Gustel here in the little room.

HENSCHEL

All right. I c'n wait. [He sits down with a sigh that is almost a groan.] Yes, yes, O Lord—a man has his troubles.

HANNE

[Enters busily.] The dinner'll be ready this minute.

HENSCHEL

I can't eat; I'm not hungry.

HANNE

Eatin' and drinkin' keeps body an' soul together. I was once in service with a shepherd, an' he said to us more'n one time: If a body has a heartache or somethin' like that, even if he feels no hunger, 'tis best to eat.

HENSCHEL

Well, cook your dinner an' we'll see.

HANNE

You shouldn't give in to it. Not as much as all that. You got to resign yourself some time.

HENSCHEL

Was that man Horand, the bookbinder, here?

HANNE

Everythin's attended to. He made forty new billheads. There they are on the chest.

HENSCHEL

Then the work an' the worry begins again. Drivin' in to Freiburg mornin' after mornin' an' noon after noon haulin' sick people across the hills.

HANNE

You're doin' too much o' the work yourself. Old Hauffe is too slow by half. I can't help it—if I was you I'd get rid o' him.

HENSCHEL

[Gets up and goes to the window.] I'm sick of it—of the whole haulin' business. It c'n stop for all I care. I got nothin' against it if it does. To-day or to-morrow; it's the same to me. All you got to do is to take the horses to the flayers, to chop up the waggons for kindlin' wood, an' to get a stout, strong bit o' rope for yourself.—I think I'll go up an' see Siebenhaar.

HANNE

I was wantin' to say somethin' to you when I got a chance.

HENSCHEL

Well, what is it, eh?

HANNE

You see, it's not easy for me. No, indeed. [Elaborately tearful.] But my brother—he needs me that bad. [Weeping.] I'll have to leave—that's sure.

HENSCHEL

[In extreme consternation.] You're not right in your mind. Don't start that kind o' business!

HANNE, shedding crocodile tears, holds her apron to her eyes.

HENSCHEL

Well now, look here, lass: you're not goin' to play me that kind of a trick now! That would be fine! Who's goin' to manage the house? Summer's almost with us now an' you want to leave me in the lurch?

HANNE

[With the same gesture.] 'Tis the little one I feels sorry for!

HENSCHEL

If you don't take care of her, who's goin' to?

HANNE

[After a space collecting herself apparently by an effort of the will. Quietly:] It can't be done no different.

HENSCHEL

Everythin' c'n be done in this world. All you needs is to want to do it.—You never said nothin' about it before. An' now, suddenly, you talk about your brother!—Maybe I been offendin' you some way? Don't you feel suited with me no more?

HANNE

There's no end to the gossip that's goin' round.

HENSCHEL

What kind o' gossip?

HANNE

Oh, I don't know. I'd rather be goin out o' the way of it.

HENSCHEL

I'd like to know just what you mean!

HANNE

I does my work an' I takes my pay! An' I won't have nobody say such things o' me. When the wife was still alive I worked all day; now that she's dead, I don't do no different. People c'n say all they wants to; I'm tryin' to make you think I'm fine, an' I want dead people's shoes. I'd rather go into service some other place.

HENSCHEL

[Relieved.] You needn't say no more if that's all it is!

HANNE

[Takes up some piece of work as an excuse for leaving the room.] No, no, I'll go. I can't never stay!

[Exit.

HENSCHEL

[Talking after her.] You c'n let people talk an' not say much yourself. All them tongues has to wag for an occupation. [He takes off his black coat and hangs it up. Sighing.] The pack o' troubles don't get no smaller.

SIEBENHAAR comes in slowly. He carries a decanter full of water and a glass.

SIEBENHAAR

Good morning, Henschel.

HENSCHEL

Good mornin' Mr. Siebenhaar,

SIEBENHAAR

Am I disturbing you?

HENSCHEL

Not a bit; not at all. You're very welcome.

SIEBENHAAR

[Placing the decanter and the glass on the table.] I've got to drink the medicinal spring water again. I'm having that old trouble with my throat. Well, dear me, a man has to die of something!

HENSCHEL

You must just go ahead an' drink the waters. They'll cure you.

SIEBENHAAR

Yes, that's just what I'm doing.

HENSCHEL

An' not from the Mill Spring nor from the Upper Spring. Ours is the best.

SIEBENHAAR

Well now, to change the subject. [Half lost in thought he has been toying with a sprig of ivy. Now he observes this, starts slightly, runs his eyes over the top-hat and HENSCHEL himself and says suddenly:] This was your wife's birthday, wasn't it?

HENSCHEL

She'd ha' been thirty-six years old to-day.

SIEBENHAAR

Is it possible?

HENSCHEL

Oh, yes, yes.

[Pause.]

SIEBENHAAR

Henschel, I'd better leave you alone now. But when it's agreeable to you—to-morrow maybe, I'd like to talk over some business with you.

HENSCHEL

I'd rather you went ahead right now.

SIEBENHAAR

It's about the thousand crowns ...

HENSCHEL

Before we says any more, Mr. Siebenhaar. You c'n just keep that money till winter. Why should I be lyin' to you? You see? I don't need the money. I don't care exackly when I gets it; an' that it's safe, I'm satisfied o' that.

SIEBENHAAR

Well, Henschel, in that case I'm very grateful to you. You're doing me a great favour. During the summer I take in money; you know that. Just now it would have been difficult for me.

HENSCHEL

Well, you see, so we c'n agree fine.

[Pause.]

SIEBENHAAR.

[Walking to and fro.] Yes, yes, I sometimes wonder over myself. I grew up in this house. And yet, to-day, if I could but make a decent closing out, I could leave it quite calmly.

HENSCHEL

I wouldn't like to go, I must say. I wouldn't hardly know where to go to.

SIEBENHAAR

Things have moved ahead with you, Henschel. But the same set of conditions that has counted in your favour, has been that against which I've had to struggle to keep my head above water.

HENSCHEL

The shoe pinches one man in this place an' another man in that. Who's goin' to say which is worse off? You see, I got a good, hard blow, too. An' if I'm goin' to recover ... well, I don't hardly feel like myself yet.

[Pause.]

SIEBENHAAR

Henschel, there's a time for everything! You'll have to conquer that now. You must go out among people, hear things, see things, drink a glass of beer once in a while, plunge into business, perhaps—somehow, put an end to this sad business. It can't be helped, and so—forward!

HENSCHEL

'Tis just as you say! You're quite right!

SIEBENHAAR

To be sure, your wife was the best, most faithful woman. There's only one opinion about that. But you are in the full current of life, Henschel; you're in your best years; you still have a great deal to do in the world: who knows how much. You needn't forget your wife on that account; on the contrary. And that's entirely out of the question in the case of a man like you. But you must honour her memory in a saner way. This kind of brooding does no good. I've been watching you for a good while and I determined, without saying anything, to make a really strong appeal to you one day. You're letting yourself be actually downed.

HENSCHEL

But what's a man to do against it? You're right—that you are; but times I hardly know what to do! You say: Plunge into business. But there's somethin' lackin' all around. Four eyes sees better'n two; four hands—they c'n do a sight more. Now I got all these coaches here in the summer! An' there's no one to see to things at home! 'Tis not easy, I c'n tell you that.

SIEBENHAAR

I thought that Hanne was quite a capable girl.

HENSCHEL

Well, you see, she's given me notice, too.—'Tis too hard for a man to get along without a wife. Yon can't depend on no one. That's just it; that's just what I says!

SIEBENHAAR

Why don't you marry, Henschel?

HENSCHEL

'Twould be best!—What c'n I do without a wife? A man like me can't get along without one. I was thinking in fact, of goin' upstairs an' askin' the missis if, maybe, she could give me some advice in that direction. She died an' left me alone in the midst of all these worries.—An', also, to tell you the truth, this business of mine's not what it used to be. How long is it goin' to be before the railroad comes here? Well, you see, we'd put by a little, an' we wanted to buy a small inn—maybe in two years or so. Well, that can't be done without a woman neither.

SIEBENHAAR

True. You won't be able to get along this way permanently. You can't remain a widower the rest of your life. If for no other reason but for the child's sake.

HENSCHEL

That's what I always says.

SIEBENHAAR

Of course I have no right to interfere in your affairs. Still, we're old friends. To wait, Henschel, just on account of what people will think—that's sheer nonsense, no more, no less. If you are quite seriously thinking of marrying again, it would be better both for you and for the child if you did it soon. You needn't be overhasty; assuredly not! But if you've quite made up your mind, then—go straight ahead! Why should you hesitate? [After a pause during which HENSCHEL scratches his head.] Have you any one particular in view?

HENSCHEL

—If I got some one in view? That's what you'd like to know? Maybe I has. Only I can't marry her.

SIEBENHAAR

But why not?

HENSCHEL

You know it yourself.

SIEBENHAAR

I? I know it? How's that?

HENSCHEL

All you got to do is a little thinkin'.

SIEBENHAAR

[Shaking his head.] I can't say that I recall at this moment.

HENSCHEL

Didn't I have to go an' promise my wife ...

SIEBENHAAR.

———?—Oh, yes!!—You mean the girl—Hanne?—

[Pause.]

HENSCHEL

I been thinkin' an' thinkin'. There's no use in denyin' it. When I wakes up during the night, I can't sleep for a couple o' hours sometimes. I got to be thinkin' of it all the time. I can't get over it any way!—The girl's a good girl. She's a bit young for an old fellow like me, but she c'n work enough for four men. An' she's taken very kindly to Gustel; no mother could do more'n she. An' the girl's got a head on her, that's sure, better'n mine. She c'n do sums better'n I can. She might go an' be a calculator. She knows a bit o' business to the last farthing, even if six weeks have come an' gone since. I believe she could make a fool o' two lawyers.

SIEBENHAAR

Well, if you're so thoroughly convinced of all that ...!

HENSCHEL

There wouldn't be no better wife for me! An' yet ... an' yet! I can't get over it.

[Pause.]

SIEBENHAAR

I do remember quite dimly now what you mean. It was quite at the end of her life.—But I confess to you quite frankly: I didn't take that matter so very seriously. Your wife was in a very excited condition. And that was caused largely by her illness.—I can't think that that is the main question. The real question must finally be whether Hanne is really suitable for you! She has her advantageous qualities: no doubt about that. There are things about her that I like less. However: who hasn't some faults. People say that she has a child.

HENSCHEL

That she has. I've inquired. Well, even so. I don't care nothin' about that. Was she to wait for me, eh? She didn't know nothin' about me when that happened. She's hot-blooded; all right. That'll come out somehow. When the pears is ripe, they falls to the ground. On that account—no, that don't trouble me none.

SIEBENHAAR

Well, then! The other matter is trivial. Perhaps not trivial exactly. I can well understand how it's taken hold of you. Still, one must get free of it. To be bound by it, in spite of one's saner thought—that's clearly folly, Henschel.

HENSCHEL

I've said that to myself ten times over. You see, my wife she didn't never want anythin' but what was for my best good. I mean, in the days when she was well. She wouldn't want to stand in my way. Wherever she is, maybe, she'd want to see me get along.

SIEBENHAAR

Assuredly.

HENSCHEL

Well, I went out to her grave to-day. The missis had a wreath put there too. I thought to myself I'd better go there, that's what I thought. Maybe she'll be sendin' you some message. Mother, I said in my thoughts, give me a sign. Yes or no! Anyway you answers, that way it'll be! An' I stood, there half an hour.—I prayed, too, an' I put it all to her—just to myself, o' course—about the child an' the inn an' that I don't know what to do in my business—but she didn't give me no sign.

HANNE enters throwing sidelong glances at the two men, but at once going energetically to work. She puts the washbench and tub aside and busies herself at the stove.

SIEBENHAAR

[To HENSCHEL.] God give the dead peace and blessedness. You are a man; you're in the midst of life. Why should you need signs and miracles? We can find our way in this world by depending with fair certainty on our reason. You simply go your way. You're captain on your own ship. Overboard with all these fancies and sickly notions! The more I think of your plan, the more rational it seems to me ...

HENSCHEL

Hanne, what do you say about it?

HANNE

I don't know. How c'n I tell what you're talkin' about?

HENSCHEL

You just wait: I'll tell you later.

SIEBENHAAR

Well, good morning, Henschel. I'll see you later. Meanwhile—good luck!

HENSCHEL

I'll hope I'll have it.

SIEBENHAAR

I'm not worried about you. You had a lucky way with you always.

[Exit.

HENSCHEL

Yon shouldn't be sayin' it! 'Tis bad luck.

HANNE

If you spits three times, it'll take the curse off.

[Pause.]

HANNE

I can't help thinkin' as you're too good.

HENSCHEL

What makes you think so?

HANNE

People just robs you: that's what I says.

HENSCHEL

Did you think he wanted somethin' of me?

HANNE

Well, what else? He ought to be ashamed to come beggin' o' poor people.

HENSCHEL

Hanne, you don't know what you're sayin'.

HANNE

I knows well enough.

HENSCHEL

That's what you don't. An' you couldn't know. But some day, later on, you'll come to understand.—Now I'll be goin' to the taproom an' buy me a mug o' beer. It'll be the first time these eight weeks. After that we c'n eat, an' after the dinner then—listen to me—then we might say a word to each other. Then we c'n see how everythin' c'n be straightened out.—Or, maybe, you don't care about it?

HANNE

You was sayin' yourself: We c'n see.

HENSCHEL

An' that's what I says now. We c'n wait.

[Exit.

[Pause.]

HANNE

[Works on undisturbed. When HENSCHEL is out of hearing, she suddenly ceases, scarcely mastering her joyous excitement, she dries her hands and tears off her apron. In involuntary triumph:] I'll show you. Watch out!

THE CURTAIN FALLS.



THE THIRD ACT

The same room as tn the two preceding acts.

It is evening toward the end of November. A fire is burning in the oven; a lighted candle stands on the table. The middle door is closed. Muffled dance music penetrates into the room from the upper stories of the house.

HANNE, now MRS. HENSCHEL, sits by the table and knits; she is neatly and suitably clad in a dress of blue cotton, and wears a red kerchief across her breast.

HILDEBRANT, the smith, enters. A small, sinewy person.

HILDEBRANT

Good evenin', missis, where's your husband?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Gone to Breslau. He's fetchin' three new horses.

HILDEBRANT

Then I s'pose he won't be comin' home to-day, eh?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Not before Monday.

HILDEBRANT

Well, this is Saturday.—We've brought back the board waggon. It's downstairs in the entry way. We had to renew all the four tires. Where's Hauffe?

MRS. HENSCHEL

He hasn't been with us this long time.

HILDEBRANT

So he hasn't. 'Tis nonsense I'm talkin'. I mean the new servant. Is Schwarzer here?

MRS. HENSCHEL

He's gone along to Breslau.

HILDEBRANT

Fact is I knows all about Hauffe. He comes down to the smithy an' just stands aroun'. He's got nothin' to do yet.

MRS. HENSCHEL

People says he's beginnin' to drink.

HILDEBRANT

I believes it. That's the way it goes. 'Tis bad for an old fellow like that; nobody wants him now.—What's goin' on up there to-day?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Dancin'!

HILDEBRANT

How'd it be if we was to go up there too, missis. Why shouldn't we be joinin' in a little waltz too?

MRS. HENSCHEL

They'd open their eyes pretty wide up there if we did.—But what is it you want of Henschel?

HILDEBRANT

His honour, the judge, has a chestnut stallion that don't want to let hisself be shoed. So we wanted to ax Henschel to step over. If he can't get any beast to stand still, why then—! Well, good evenin', Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Good evenin'.

HILDEBRANT withdraws.

MRS. HENSCHEL.

[Listens to a dragging noise out in the passage.] What kind of a noise is that there? [She steps forward and opens the door.] Who's makin' all that racket out there?

FRANZISKA

[Comes dancing in.] Get out of the way, Mrs. Henschel! I have no time.

[She whirls about in the room to the measure of the waltz heard from above.]

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, this is a fine way to act! What's the matter with you? Did a mad dog bite you, maybe?

FRANZISKA dances on and hums the melody of the waltz.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[More and more amused.] For heaven's sake! Somethin's goin' to happen to you!—No, girl, you're goin' clear out o' your mind!

FRANZISKA

[Sinks exhausted into a chair as the music breaks off.] Oh, Mrs. Henschel, I could dance myself to death!

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Laughing.] At this here rate I believes you! It makes a body feel dizzy just to watch you.

FRANZISKA

Don't you dance at all?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Me? If I dance? To be sure I do. 'Twasn't once or twice only that I got a pair o' new shoes an' danced 'em to pieces in one night!

FRANZISKA

Come and dance with me then!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Why don't you go upstairs an' dance with the folks there?

FRANZISKA

Oh, if only I might! Do you know what I'll do? I'll sneak up! I'll sneak into the gallery! Have you ever been up there? The bags of prunes stand up there. I go up there quite boldly and look down, and eat prunes. Why shouldn't I look down from there?

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' maybe Siebenhaar'll send for you to come down.

FRANZISKA

I just stare down as bold as you please. I don't care a bit. And whenever a lady dances with Mr. Siebenhaar, I pelt her with plum pits.

MRS. HENSCHEL

You're crazy about Siebenhaar—that's certain!

FRANZISKA

Well, he's a real swell—that's what none of the others are. [The music is heard again.] Ah, they're starting. That's a polka! [Dancing again.] I'd like to dance with Mr. Siebenhaar this minute. D'you know what I'd do? I'd just kiss him before he knew what was happening.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Siebenhaar'd be too old for me!

FRANZISKA

Your husband is just as old, Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Look here, girl, I want you to know that my husband is a good five years younger.

FRANZISKA

Well, he looks much older anyhow. Why, he looks so old and wrinkled. No, I wouldn't care to kiss him.

MRS. HENSCHEL

You better see about getting out o' here, or I'll take a broom an' help you along! Don't you abuse my husband! An' where would I get a better one? You wait till you're a few years older an' you'll see what it means in this world to have a husband!

FRANZISKA

I won't marry at all. I'll wait till some fine, rich gentleman comes—some summer—for his health—a Russian, by preference—and then I'll let him take me out into the world. I want to see the world—to wander far—I want to go to Paris. And then I'll write you about myself, Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

I do believe you'll run off some day!

FRANZISKA

You can wager anything that I will. Mr. Siebenhaar was in Paris, too, you know, during the revolution in 'forty-eight, and he can tell you the most interesting stories! Oh, I'd like to see a revolution like that some day too. They build barricades ...

WERMELSKIRCH'S VOICE

Franziska! Franziska! Where are you keeping yourself again?

FRANZISKA

Sh! Don't say anything!

WERMELSKIRCH'S VOICE

Franziska! Franziska!

FRANZISKA

Sh! Keep still! He wants me to serve at the bar. And that's horrid and I won't do it!

WERMELSKIRCH'S VOICE

Franziska!

FRANZISKA

It's papa's or mama's place to do that. Or they can hire a waiter. I won't be turned into a bar maid.

MRS. HENSCHEL

That's not the worst kind o' thing!

FRANZISKA

Oh, if there were real gentlemen to serve! But they're just well—attendants, coachmen and miners. Much obliged for such company! I don't care about it!

MRS. HENSCHEL

If I was you, I'd do that reel easy. An' I'd be gettin' good tips. You could save a good many pennies an' put by a nice sum.

FRANZISKA

I won't accept pennies and farthings. And if some time Mr. Siebenhaar or the architect or Dr. Valentiner gives me a present, I spend it on sweetmeats right away.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Ah, that's just it. You're your father's daughter. An' your mother wasn't much different neither. You people don't take care o' the business you has! If you'd ha' done so you'd have money out at interest this day.

FRANZISKA

We're not as stingy as you, that's all.

MRS. HENSCHEL

I'm not stingy. But you got to keep your substance together.

FRANZISKA

People say you're stingy, though!

MRS. HENSCHEL

People c'n be—! An' you too! Hurry now an' get out o' here! I'm sick o' your jabberin' now! An' you don't need to come back here neither! I haven't been longin' for you, exackly! 'Tis best not to see or hear anything o' the whole crowd o' you.

FRANZISKA

[Turning once more at the door, with angry malice.] Do you know what else people say?

MRS. HENSCHEL

I don't want to know nothin'! Get out o' here! You look out that you don't get to hear things about yourself! Who knows what's between you an' Siebenhaar? You two knows it an' I knows it too. Otherwise you'd ha' been kicked out twenty times over with your slovenly management! Teach me to know Siebenhaar!

FRANZISKA

Fy, fy and fy again!

[Exit.

MRS. HENSCHEL

The baggage!

The middle door has remained open. SIEBENHAAR and the waiter GEORGE, coming from different directions along the passage way, are seen to meet at the door. GEORGE affects the height of Vienna fashions—hat, cane, long overcoat, gay tie.

SIEBENHAAR

What are you after here?

GEORGE

You'll forgive me but I have some business with Drayman Henschel.

SIEBENHAAR

Henschel is not at home. You've been told three times now that there is no place for you in my house. If you can't remember that henceforth I shall be compelled to have your memory assisted by—the constable.

GEORGE

I beg your pardon very humbly, Mr. Siebenhaar, but I begs to submit that I don't come to see you. These people lives in your house. An' you can't prove nothin' as touchin' the question of my honour.

SIEBENHAAR

Very well. Only, if I should meet you again I'll have the porter kick you out. So you had better act accordingly.

[Exit.

GEORGE

[Enters the room cursing.] I'll take that there risk! We'll see about that later!

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Closes the door, with difficulty mastering her rage toward SIEBENHAAR.] We're here, too, I'd have him know. Just let him try it! This here is our room, not his room, an' anybody that comes here comes to us an' not to him! He's got no right to say nothin' about it!

GEORGE

We'll just wait an' see—that's all I says. He might have to pay good an' dear for that. That kind o' thing takes a man to the pen. He got hisself into a nasty mess with Alphonse, who was here two years ago. But he'd be gettin' into a worse mess with me. A hundred crowns o' damages'd be too little for me.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' he hasn't got no hundred crowns in his pocket—the damned bankrupt! He's been borrowing of everybody in the county. He's got nothin' but debts; you hear that on all sides. 'Twon't be long before there won't be nothin' left an' he'll have to leave the house hisself instead o' puttin' other people out of it!

GEORGE

[Has recovered his overcoat, hung up his hat, and is now picking off the little feathers from his coat and trousers.] That's right! An' that's no secret to nobody. Even the people that come here year in an' out says the same. An' nobody is sorry for him; no, they're willin' it should happen to him. My present boss, he can't stand him neither. He gets reel venomous if you so much as mention Siebenhaar's name. [Takes a pocket-mirror and comb from his pocket and smooths his hair.] Lord knows, he says, there's more tricks to that man than a few.

MRS. HENSCHEL

I believes that; I s'ppose he's right there.

GEORGE

Now then, Hanne, has you got somethin' warm for me?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Why didn't you come yesterday?

GEORGE

You thinks I c'n get off every day, don't you? 'Twas hard enough to get to come here to-day! Yesterday I was busy till three o'clock in the mornin'.

MRS. HENSCHEL:

What was it happened?

GEORGE

There was a meetin' o' the fire board. They bought a new engine, an' so they wanted to celebrate the purchase. That's how they came to have a meetin'.

MRS. HENSCHEL

All they wants is an excuse to swill. An' all that while I sat till late at night and waited. Once—I don't know, but it must ha' been a bird flyin' against the window—I thought 'twas you, an' so I went to the window an' opened it. After that I was that mad, I couldn't sleep half the night.

GEORGE

Oh, pshaw! What's the use o' havin' things like that spoil one's temper. [He puts his arms around her.] That's nothin'! Nothin' at all.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Frees herself from his embrace.] Oh, I don't know! 'Tis true—I don't know how it comes—but things seem to go contrary with a body. Henschel sits aroun' at home the whole week, an' now that he's gone for a bit, we has to let the time slide away!

GEORGE

Well, we got plenty o' time to-day. He don't come back till Monday, I thought.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Who knows if it's true!

GEORGE

I don't know no reason why it shouldn't be true!

MRS. HENSCHEL

That man is bound to sit aroun' at home. 'Twasn't half as bad formerly. He used to go on trips weeks at a time; nowadays he whines if he's got to sleep away from home a single night. An' if he says: I'll stay three days, he mostly comes back on the second—Listen ... I believe they've come already! Who else'd be crackin' whips like that in the yard?

GEORGE

[After he has listened, in a restrained tone:] The devil take 'em all—the whole damned crowd! A man hasn't had time to get warm a bit. I s'pose I'll have to leave right off, eh? I thought it'd be mighty different, I must say!

[He slips his overcoat back on and takes up his hat.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Tears his hat from his head.] You stay right here! What d'you want to run off for? D'you think I got to be scared o' Henschel. He's got to come to my terms. I don't has to think about him. If you'd come yesterday!—I told you ...! Then nobody wouldn't ha' interrupted us, no Henschel an' no Siebenhaar. To-day the devil's broke loose!

The horse dealer WALTHER enters—a handsome, vigorous fellow of forty. Bashly cap, fur jacket, hunting stockings and tall boots; his mits are fastened by cords.

WALTHER

Missis, your husband is outside in the yard. I'm just comin' in for a minute to bid you good evenin'. I got to ride off again straight way. He's bought some fine Flemish horses. An' he's brought along something else, for you too.

MRS. HENSCHEL

I thought he wouldn't be comin' back till Monday.

WALTHER

An' that's the way it would ha' been. But we couldn't ride on horseback no farther'n Kanth. There we had to take the train with the horses or they'd ha' broken their necks an' their limbs. Travellin' was that bad on account o' the sleet.

GEORGE

You makes better time with the train—that's certain!

WALTHER

What kind of a feller is that there? Why, you're tryin' to be invisible, eh? Well, if that isn't little George—I do believe! Why, you looks like a natural born baron!

GEORGE

A man earns more over there in the "Star" hotel. I has a much more profitable position. Here I had to work till my clothes dropped from me in rags. I was most naked in the end; now I'm beginnin' to buy somethin' again.

WALTHER

Now guess, missis, what your husband has brought home for you!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, what is it?

WALTHER

I wager you'll be mighty glad of that present!

MRS. HENSCHEL

We'll see. It depends on what it is.

WALTHER

Good luck to you then. I got to hurry or my wife'll get ugly.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Good luck to you.

GEORGE

I might as well come along. Good night, Mrs. Henschel.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Didn't you want to see Henschel about somethin'?

GEORGE

There's plenty o' time for that. There's no hurry.

WALTHER

If you got somethin' to say to him you'd better wait till to-morrow. He's got different kinds o' things in his mind to-day. D'you know what he's bringin' you, missis?

MRS. HENSCHEL

What should he be bringin' me? Don't talk so much nonsense.

WALTHER

Why, he's bringin' you your daughter!

MRS. HENSCHEL

—What's that he's bringin'? I didn't hear right!

WALTHER

We was in Quolsdorf and fetched her.

MRS. HENSCHEL

You're drunk, the two o' ye, eh?

WALTHER

No, no, I'm tellin' you the truth.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Who did you get?

WALTHER

He didn't tell me nothin' about it. All of a sudden we was in the pub at Quolsdorf an' sat down there.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, an' what then?

WALTHER

We was sittin' there an' then, after a little while, your father came in with the bit of a girl.

MRS. HENSCHEL

'Tis no girl o' mine!

WALTHER

I don't know nothin' about that! I knows this much though: he's got the child out there. He went up to your father an' he said: The child's a pretty child.—Then he took her in his arms an' petted her. Shall I take you with me, he axes her, an' she was willin' right off.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Well, an' my father?

WALTHER

Well, your father didn't know who Henschel was!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Better an' better! An' is that all?

WALTHER

[Almost addressing GEORGE now.] No, there was nothin' more. He just took the little one out an' said to your father: I'll let the lass ride horseback. An' she kept cryin' out: Lemme ride! Lemme ride! Then Henschel mounted his great Flemish horse an' I had to hand the child up to him. After that he said: Good-bye, an' rode off.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' father just stood there an' looked on?

WALTHER

What was he goin' to do about it? The whole village might ha' turned out for all the good it would ha' done. When once Henschel lays his hands on somethin'—I wouldn't advise nobody to cross him! An' there's no one in the county that likes to pick a quarrel with him neither! Your father, he didn't know what was goin' on. Then suddenly, o' course, he roared like fury an' cried out an' cursed more'n enough. But the people just laughed. They knew Henschel. An' he—Henschel—he just said reel quiet: Good luck to you, father Schael; I'm takin' her along. The mother is waitin' for her at home. Stop drinkin'! he said, an' maybe there'll be a place with us for you some day, too.

GEORGE

Good-bye, I think I'll maybe drop in to-morrow.

[Exit.

MRS. HENSCHEL

An' so he thinks I'm goin' to keep her here. I'll never do that—never in the world. She's no child o' mine! How would I be lookin' before people? First in Quolsdorf, then here! Didn't I work an' worry enough? Day an' night, you might say, I was busy with Gustel. An' now the weary trouble is to begin all over again. That'd be fine, wouldn't it? He'd better take care!

HENSCHEL appears in the middle door. He is also clad in leathern breeches, fur jacket, tall boots, etc., just as he has dismounted. He leads by the hand a little girl of six—ragged and unwashed.

HENSCHEL

[Almost merrily referring to HANNE'S last words, which he has overheard.] Who's to take care?

MRS. HENSCHEL

—Oh, I don't know!

HENSCHEL

Look, Hanne, look who comes here! [To the child.] Go ahead, Berthel, an' say good evenin'. Go on an' say it! Say: Good evenin', mama!

BERTHEL leaving HENSCHEL unwillingly and walks, encouraged by friendly little shoves from him, diagonally across the room to where HANNE, assuming a disgruntled attitude, sits on the bench.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[To the child, who stands helplessly before her.] What do you want here?

BERTHEL

I rode on such a pitty horsie?

HENSCHEL and WALTHER laugh heartily.

HENSCHEL

Well now we'll keep her here. Hallo, Hanne! Are you angry about anythin'?

MRS. HENSCHEL

You are sayin' you wouldn't be back till Monday. There's not a bite for supper in the house now.

HENSCHEL

There'll be a bit o' bread an' bacon.

[He hangs up his cap.

MRS. HENSCHEL

[Pulling ungently at BERTHEL'S clothes.] How'd you get this way?

HENSCHEL

You'll soon have to buy her somethin' to put on! She's got hardly nothin' on her little body. 'Twas a good thing I had plenty o' blankets along, or she'd ha' been half froze on the way. [After he has removed his fur jacket and warmed his hands.] Best thing would be to put her right straight in a tub.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Best thing would ha' been if you'd ha' left her where she was.

HENSCHEL

What did you say?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Nothin'.

HENSCHEL

I thought you were sayin' somethin'.—Into the tub with her! An' then to bed! An' you might go over her head a bit! I believe she's got a little colony there. [BERTHEL cries out.] What's the matter? Don't tug at her so rough!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Oh, don't cry, girl! That'd be the last straw!

HENSCHEL

You must be a bit friendly with her. The lass is thankful for every kind word. Be quiet, Berthel, be quiet!

BERTHEL

I want to go to father!

HENSCHEL

You're with mother now! Mother is good!—I'm reel satisfied that we has her with us. 'Twas the highest time. A bit longer an' we might ha' had to look for her in the graveyard.

MRS. HENSCHEL

That wasn't half as bad as you're tryin' to make out.

HENSCHEL

[In some consternation but still kindly.] What's the meanin' o' that?

[Pause.]

WALTHER

Well, good luck to you all. I'll have to be goin'.

HENSCHEL

Wait a bit an' drink a glass o' toddy.

MRS. HENSCHEL

If there were only some rum in the house!

HENSCHEL

Well, you can fetch it from Wermelskirch's!

MRS. HENSCHEL

I don't want to have nothin' to do with those people!

WALTHER

No, no. I got to go home. I got no time. I got to be ridin' half an hour yet. [To HANNE.] I don't want to be a bother to you.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Who mentioned such a thing?

WALTHER

[Humorously.] Nothin'! I didn't say nothin' at all. God forbid! I won't let myself in for nothin'. You're a hard customer. Good-bye an' good luck!

HENSCHEL

Good-bye, an' don't forget a greetin' to the wife!

WALTHER

[Already from outside.] All right! Good night! I won't forget nothin'.

[Exit.

HENSCHEL

Well, didn't I do the right thing this time?

MRS. HENSCHEL

What is I to say to people?

HENSCHEL

—You're not goin' to be ashamed o' your own daughter!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Who's sayin' I is, eh? 'Tis all the same to me! You're willin' to have 'em say evil o' me. You force 'em to it! [Harshly to the child.] Here, drink this milk! An' then off to bed with you! [BERTHEL drinks.]

HENSCHEL

Are you goin' to go on this way?

MRS. HENSCHEL

Go on how?

HENSCHEL

With the child!

MRS. HENSCHEL

I'm not goin' to bite her; there's no fear!

[She takes the still weeping child into the little room to bed.

HENSCHEL

[Speaking after her.] She's not here to be bitten. I needn't ha' brought her, you know!

[A brief pause, after which HANNE returns.

HENSCHEL

A man can't never know how to please you. There's no gettin' along with women folks. You always acted as if....

MRS. HENSCHEL

[With tears of rage.] That's a lie if you want to know it!

HENSCHEL

What's a lie!

MRS. HENSCHEL

[As above.] I never bothered you about Berthel. I never so much as mentioned her to you!

HENSCHEL

I didn't say you had. Why d'you howl so? On that account, because you didn't say nothin', I wanted to help you in spite o' your silence.

MRS. HENSCHEL

But couldn't you ha' asked? A man ought to say somethin' before he does a thing like that!

HENSCHEL

Well now, I'll tell you somethin': This is Saturday night. I hurried all I could so's to be at home again. I thought you'd meet me different! But if it's not to be, it can't be helped. Only, leave me in peace! You understand!

MRS. HENSCHEL

Nobody's robbin' you o' your peace.

HENSCHEL

D'you hear me? I want my peace an' that's all. You brought me to that point. I didn't think nothin' but what was good doin' this thing. Gustel is dead. She won't come back no more. Her mother took her to a better place. The bed is empty, an' we're alone. Why shouldn't we take care o' the little lass? That's the way I thinks an' I'm not her father! You ought to think so all the more, 'cause you're the child's mother!

MRS. HENSCHEL

There you are! You're beginnin' to throw it up to me this minute!

HENSCHEL

If you don't stop I'll go to Wermelskirch an' not come back all night! D'you want to drive me out o' the house?—I'm always hopin' things'll be different, but they gets worse ... worse! I thought maybe if you had your child with you, you'd learn a little sense. If these goin's on don't end soon ...

MRS. HENSCHEL

All I say is this: If she stays in the house an' if you tell people that she's mine ...

HENSCHEL

They all know it! I don't have to tell 'em.

MRS. HENSCHEL

Then you c'n take your oath on it—I'll run away!

HENSCHEL

Run, run all you can—all you want to! You ought to be ashamed o' yourself to the bottom o' your heart!

THE CURTAIN FALLS.



THE FOURTH ACT

The tap room in WERMELSKIRCH'S public house. A flat, whitewashed room with a door leading to the inner rooms of the house on the left. The rear wall of this room is broken, toward its middle. The opening leads to a second, smaller, oblong room. On the right wall of this second room there is a glass door leading out into the open and, farther forward, a window. On the rear wall of the main room the bar is situated, filled with square whisky-bottles, glasses, etc. The beer is also on draught there. Highly varnished tables and chairs of cherry wood are scattered about the room. A red curtain divides the two rooms. In the oblong rear room are also chairs and tables and, in the extreme background, a billiard table. Lithographs, representing mainly hunting scenes, are hung on the walls.

WERMELSKIRCH, in a dressing gown and smoking a long pipe, sits on the left, himself playing the piano. Three members of the voluntary fire-corps play billiards. In the foreground to the right HAUFFE sits brooding over a glass of whisky. He is noticeably shabby. MRS. WERMELSKIRCH, a gipsy-like, slovenly old woman, is rinsing glasses behind the bar. FRANZISKA is crouching on a window ledge at the right playing with a kitten. The waiter GEORGE is standing at the bar over a glass of beer. He has an elegant spring suit on, as well as patent-leather shoes, kid-gloves and a top-hat set far back on his head.

WERMELSKIRCH

[Plays and sings.]

"When I was prince in realms Arcadian, I lived in splendour and in wealth."

GEORGE

[Who has accompanied the music by dancing gestures.] Go on, go on with, that!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Coughing affectedly.] Can't be done! Quite hoarse! Anyhow ... pshaw!... I'll try again.

"When I was prince ...." [He coughs.]

"When I was prince in realms Arcadian, I lived in splen ... I lived in splen ... "!

The devil take it!

GEORGE

Aw, why don't you go on? That was quite right! That was fine!

WERMELSKIRCH

I see myself trying! It's all over with me!

GEORGE

I don't understand you! That's the finest kind o' chamber music!

WERMELSKIRCH

[Laughing.] Chamber music!

GEORGE

Well, maybe not! I don't know the differences so well. Hallo, Miss Franziska, what are you laughin' at?

FRANZISKA

I'm laughing at your beautiful patent-leather boots.

GEORGE

Go right ahead! You don't expect me to go barefoot. Give that man over there a glass of beer. How would you like a bit o' cordial, Miss Franziska? You're right, my boots is pretty fine ones. They cost me twenty crowns. Why not? I c'n stand the expense; I'm able to do it! In the "Sword" hotel a man c'n at least earn somethin'. To be sure, while I was at the "Star" I couldn't ha' bought no boots like this.

WERMELSKIRCH

So you like it better at the "Sword"?

GEORGE

I should say so! A boss like I got now, a reel good fellow—I never had before long's I've been in the business. We're like old friends—like brothers. I could say most anythin' to him!

WERMELSKIRCH

Well, that's very different from Siebenhaar.

FRANZISKA laughs out.

GEORGE

An' that just shows you: Pride goeth before a fall. Two or three weeks an' he'll be under the hammer. Then I c'n buy myself his gold watch.

WERMELSKIRCH

You'd better buy the whole house!

GEORGE

Not just now. You got to wait for the proper time to do a thing like that. An' anyhow, it's sold. Your health, gentlemen!... Your health, gentlemen! When you're through, I'll order more! What's the name o' the man that bought the house? Exner? Eh? He's goin' to bottle the spring water an' export it. He's goin' to rent out the hotel.—I'd rent it this minute if I had the money.

HAUFFE

Why don't you go to Henschel? He'll give it to you.

GEORGE

That wouldn't be as much out o' the question as you thinks.

HAUFFE

No, that a fac'! You're on pretty good terms with the wife!

[FRANZISKA laughs aloud.]

GEORGE

Well, why shouldn't I be. That there woman's not half bad. I tell you, a fellow that knows how, c'n make the women feed out o' his hand!

HAUFFE

Well, if you know enough to make Mrs. Henschel feed out o' your hand, you must know your business pretty well. I'll say that for you.

FABIG enters, the cord of his pack around his shoulders. He sits down modestly in a corner.

GEORGE

Well, there you are; that's what I'm tellin' you! There's pretty few that could come up to me that way. But a man has to be on the lookout, or he'd get a good beatin' an' that's all!

WERMELSKIRCH

Well, you're not through with it yet yourself. [SIEBENHAAR enters from the left.] Where Henschel strikes down the grass stops growing. Your servant, Mr. Siebenhaar!

SIEBENHAAR

[Somewhat pale.] Good morning!

GEORGE

I think I'll play a game o' billiards.

[He takes up his glass and disappears behind the curtain in the rear.

SIEBENHAAR

[Sitting down at a table near the piano.] Weren't you just singing, Mr. Wermelskirch? Don't let me interrupt you, please.

WERMELSKIRCH

What? I? Singing? That's hardly possible! You know how deeply this business affects me. But if you say so it must be true. Permit me to sit down by you. Bring me a glass of beer, too, Franziska!

SIEBENHAAR

When one considers that you were completely hoarse three or four years ago, you must admit that you've recuperated remarkably.

WERMELSKIRCH

You're quite right. But what good does it do me? I've half way crawled out of the slough. But who knows what'll happen now?

FRANZISKA

[Places a glass of beer before SIEBENHAAR; to WERMELSKIRCH:] I'll bring yours at once.

SIEBENHAAR

[Having drunk.] What do you mean by that, exactly?

WERMELSKIRCH

I don't know that I can tell you very exactly what I do mean. But I feel something in my bones. I believe there'll be a change in the weather. Jesting aside—I have all kinds of omens that are familiar to an old actor. When the waters here began to do me so much good, I knew certainly that ten horses couldn't drag me away. And it wasn't a month before my road company had gone to smash. Now I suppose I'll have to wander on in the same old way again—who knows whither?

SIEBENHAAR

Who knows whither? That's the way of the world. As for me—I'm not sorry!

WERMELSKIRCH

Ah, but you're a man in the prime of life. The world has a place for a man like you everywhere. It's different with an old fellow like me. If I lose my means of making a living, I mean, if I'm given notice, what is there left me, I'd like to know? I might actually get me a hurdy-gurdy and Franziska could go about and collect the pennies.

FRANZISKA

That wouldn't embarrass me a bit, papa!

WERMELSKIRCH

Not if it were to rain gold pieces!

FRANZISKA

And, anyhow, papa, how you always talk! You could go back on the stage!

WERMELSKIRCH

Not even at a monkey-show, girlie!

SIEBENHAAR

Did Mr. Exner intimate anything to you? According to what he told me he meant to leave everything pretty much as it is.

WERMELSKIRCH

Well, I hardly belong to what could be summed up as "everything."

MRS. WERMELSKIRCH

[Approaching the table in great excitement.] I must say, Mr. Siebenhaar, I must say ... And you can take my word for it! I'm an old woman of fifty and I've seen a good deal of the world, but the way we've been treated here—that's really—I don't know what to call it—but it's just vulgar malice, the lowest kind of scheming, pure meanness. You can take my word for that!

WERMELSKIRCH

Oh, mother, are you starting in too? You'd better withdraw, if you don't mind, and retire behind your barricade!

MRS. WERMELSKIRCH

I'd like to know what our little Fanny did to that woman!

FRANZISKA

Oh, never mind, mama!

MRS. WERMELSKIRCH

On the contrary! Are we to put up with everything? Isn't one to offer any resistance if that woman robs us of our very bread—if she spreads slander about our daughter? [To SIEBENHAAR.] Did the child ever offend you in any way?

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