MARTYR • A TRAGEDY OF
BELGIUM • T>RAMA in FIVE
ACTS BY JEAN LEEMAN •
"PRSFACe BY M. HENRY LA FONTAINE
SENATOR OF BELGIUM • T%ANSJ^T£T:)
FROM THE FRENCH BY MRS. ALICE
PUBLISHED BY THE BELGIAN WOMEN'S
WAR RELIEF COMMITTEE • 1771 SUT-
TER STREET • SAN FRANCISCO • MCMXVI
COPYRIGHTED, 191 5
BY JEAN LEEMAN
M. AND Mme. L. Ancion
Melle Eva Ancion
M. P. A. Bergerot
Mrs. F. Beatty
m. a. bousquet
Mrs. D. T. Campbell
Mrs. J. B. Casserly
Miss M. Casserly
M. J. S. Brun
M. H. COLOMBAT
M. D. G. Davis
g M. Fr. De Coninck
Mme. Z. de Nivernais
M. AND Mme. J. De Villers
Cte. Ch. du Parc
M. J. M. DuPAs
Mme. Charlotte Dupuis
M. Arm. Dupuis
Miss M. Eyre
M. E. Franckearts
Mme. Lilian Fricot
M. Jean Gallois
M. AND Mme. J. Godeau
M. AND Mme. P. Lasserre
Dr. Alf. Lamothe
M. AND Mme. A. Locher
M. AND Mme. Art. Legallet
Messrs. Lechten Bros.
M. P. Magendie
M. Alf. Mestre
Mrs. E. T. Nibbling
M. AND Mme. J. Palacin
M. and Mme. M. Papin
M. and Mme. E. Pirard
M. G. POUCHAN
M. A. Pradels
Mrs. M. Quinn
M. L. L. Rey
Prof. David Starr Jordan
Mme. Fina Soyez
Mme. J. Tieulie
Mme. Marie Trouillet
Prof, and Mme. Alb. Van der Naillen, Sr.
M. AND Mme. J. B. Vignau
M. R. Weill
Mrs. W. Wilson
MR. RAPHAEL WEILL
Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur
MR. ALB. VAN DER NAILLEN, SR.
Author, Chevalier de VOrdre de Leopold
I deem it an honor to dedicate my play to you;
kindly accept this as a token of appreciation and
* * * «
When, after his daily journey through heaven, at
the close of a summer day, the radiant wanderer in
a luminous apotheosis sets in the glittering west, the
ravished human soul contemplates this eternal
masterpiece of the Creator with a feeling of admi-
ration blended with sorrow and regret .
It is the end of a beautiful day.
So do we admire with the same sentiment the career
of the upright man and the philanthropist.
San Francisco, California
July 14, 1915
War, monstrous war, abhorred by the mothers^ is
once more passing over the stricken worlds which is
powerless to prevent or abolish the scourge. By a
thousand avenues ^ however ^ men and women are coming
forward to drive out forever this monster which for
centuries has fed on human blood. Some are already
planning the future civilization^ others are showing up
the horrors by pencil and brush, by words and pen,
"They stigmatize it and vow it to the gemonies. To
these latter the theatre is an ideal forum. Before the
crowds, worshipers of might, all those slain upon the
altar of the idol should arise from their graves and cry
out their miseries and terrors.
Among the horrors which the German invasion has
brought upon the tortured populations, that which has
subjected the women and girls to the lust of the drunken
soldiery is doubtless the most abominable, for it has
condemned these innocent victims to the most horrible
The drama, written by M. Jean Leeman, in a
simple and sustained action, shows us through the
anguish of one of these poor maidens. The author
most happily has avoided the declamatory phrases so
frequent in similar works. He makes his personages
speak their own every-day language, leaving the drama
a gripping reality.
Every character is painted with vigor and the rapid
action brings out all the pathetic plot in a powerful
manner. This will be of great value at the time of the
staging, for it will leave a deep and lasting impression
Upon the public. Gradually intensified^ the incidents
follow each other to the very end.
'The skillful manner in which the culprit is discov-
ered, unmasked y exposed, and finally compelled to
confess his crime; his tragic suicide when confronted
with eternal dishonor, maturing in a thrilling climax,
assures to the play a logical conclusion.
Among the numerous existing and future theatrical
works which will be produced on the stage during and
after this horrible and most criminal war, M. Leeman*s
drama will surely survive for its co-ordination and the
intense sentiment of life with which it is conceived and
animated. It will remain one of the most incisive
pages of the indictment that finally will tear mankind
from the eternal nightmare of murder and violence.
H. La Fontaine,
Senator of Belgium.
La guerre^ la guerre monstrueuse detestee par les
meres ^ une fois de plus passe sur le monde, epouvante
de son impuissance a la prevenir et a Vabolir. Par
mille avenues pourtant on sent venir des hommes et des
femmes decides a livrer le combat formidable et geant
qui doit pour toujours la chasser de cette terre nourrie
de sang humain depuis des siecles. Les uns dressent
les plans de la cite prochaine, les autres formulent le
requisitoire terrifiant des mefaits de la guerre. Par le
pinceau et le crayon, par la parole et la plume, ils la
stigmatisent et la vouent aux gemonies. Et le theatre
s^ off re a ces dernier s comme une tribune id e ale. II
faut que devant les Joules, adoratrices de la force, ils
sortent de leurs tombes et crient leurs miseres et leurs
transes tous ceux qui ont ete immoles sur V autel de
Parmi toutes les horreurs, que V invasion germanique
a deversees, sur les populations torturees, celle, qui a
livre au sadisme d'une soldatesque effrenee les femmes
et les filles, est certainement Vune des plus abominable s,
car elle a condamne des victimes sans defense aux plus
atroces souffrances morales.
Le drame congu par M. Jean Leeman, en une
action simple et soutenue, nous fait vivre les angoisses
de rune de ces malheureuses victimes. L'auteur a
echappe au ton declamatoire si frequent, helas, dans
des oeuvres similaires. II a fait parler a ses person-
nages leur langage naturel et journalier, sans tomber
dans la brutalite ou la grossierete et son drame nean-
moins reste d'un realisme poignant.
Chacun des personnages est esquisse avec vigueur
et la rapidite de certaines episodes en fait valoir toute
Vaprete. Cest un merite qui, lors de la mise en scene
de Voeuvre, lui assurera une action certaine et forte
sur le public. Les incidents se suivent en une grada-
tion constante et Vinterh se maintient jusquau bout
La maniere habile dont le coupable est decouvert^
demasque et accule a V aveu de son crime et le denoue-
ment tragique qui V oblige a se f rapper lui-meme pour
echapper au pire des deshonneurs assurent au drame
une conclusion logique et pathetique a la fois.
Parmi les multiples oeuvres thedtrales, qui ont vu
et qui verront le jour pendant et apres la plus af reuse
et la plus criminelle des guerres, le drame de M. Jean
Leeman sera certainement Vun de ceux qui meriteront
de survivre pour sa tenue et le sentiment tres intense
de vie qui Vanime tout entier. II demeurera comme
rune des pages les plus incisives de Facte d' accusation
qui doit arracher enjin Vhumanite a son cauchemar
seculaire de meurtre et de violence.
H. La Fontaine,
Senateur de Belgique.
Jean Bruneels A young farmer
Heinrich Von Rauch, Captain in the German Army
Josef Schmidt Von Ranch's orderly
Bernard Valkiers Fiance of Louise
Jacques Valkiers Brother of Bernard
^j T, > . . . Officers in the German Army
Von Bliess j
M. Le Brun The judge
Rou LANDS An innkeeper
Louise Bruneels Jean's sister
Martha Louise's rival
Mme. Bruneels, The grandmother of Jean and Louise
A Four-year-old Child
Male and Female Villagers
The play is laid in Belgium^ in a village near
Louvain^ at the beginning of the German invasion
Jean Bruneels, a young farmer^ and his sister
Louise, well-educated young people^ such as are often
found in the Belgian villages^ are working a farm
together; their old grandmother^ a paralytic^ lives with
them. At the first call to arms^ Jean rejoins his
regiment J leaving his grandmother to the care of Louise.
'The servants take flight upon the approach of the
enemy; the two women are left alone on the farm. The
military authorities having levied upon all the horses^
Louise and her grandmother are unable to escape.
Bernard Valkiers, Louise's fiance^ and his
brother Jacques, sons of a farmer of the same village^
have also rejoined their regiment.
In the first Act the stage represents a road; the
house of the Bruneels is at the right of the road; the
door of the house is facing the audience; the windows
look out upon the stage, and under them is placed a
bench along the house. At the left of the stage are
woods and fields. In the distance at the rear is seen
the city of Louvain.
[ At the rising of the curtain, Jean is talking
with Louise and his grandmother; the
latter is sitting on a chair placed near the
the door. Jean is in military dress, and
carries his gun slung across his shoulder.]
Louise. But how were you able to get here?
Jean. For two days our regiment has been en-
camped in the woods on the road from Louvain
to Mahnes, three leagues from here; Bernard,
Jacques and I asked the officer in command for
leave of absence for a few hours; he allowed us to
go at our own risk; I was so eager to see you once
Louise. And where are Bernard and Jacques?
Jean. I have just left them on the road; they are
going to see their folks.
Louise. They are going to see their parents! Oh,
the poor boys!
Jean. Well, what's the matter?
Louise. What is the matter! . . . Their farm is
destroyed; the Germans have sacked the village
and killed many people; father Valkiers was
assassinated, as well as his wife, the two daughters
and the youngest son. Happily for us, we are
here a little distance from the road or you would
not have found us alive.
Jean. [ 'Thoughtfully .] The parents dead. . . .
The farm destroyed.
Louise. Yes; there is not much left of the farm.
Jean. My God! my God! My poor friends must
be mad with grief and rage. What a calamity!
[Grasping his gun.] Let the Prussians beware;
they shall pay for all that.
Louise. Now, Jean, grandmother and I are afraid
to stay here.
Jean. Of course, I understand that; it is abso-
lutely necessary that I get you away; but how is
it to be done, that's the question.
The Grandmother. My dear boy, that will be
very difficult. You will not find a horse or car-
riage for ten leagues round.
Louise. That's true; what the military authorities
have not taken, the Germans have.
Jean. Quite a problem, indeed; well, this is what
I will do; I will try to reach Louvain this evening,
and if I cannot return myself, I will send someone
to take you across the frontier; the roads to the
north are still open.
The Grandmother. Try to do that, my son, for
we are not at all safe here; the Germans may
return at any moment.
Louise. Yes, we have escaped once^ but if they
come back, it will surely be our turn.
[ Enter Bernard and Jacques. The brothers
come on the stage with their guns on their
shoulders; Bernard is very sad^ Jacques
is sobbing. Louise goes to meet Bernard
and takes his hand.]
Louise. My poor friend.
Bernard. The bandits . . .the murderers . . .
they have killed our poor mother, our father, our
sisters; they did not even spare our little brother,
a child twelve years old; they killed him with the
Louise. I know all. After the Prussians had
passed, I was anxious to see your mother; when
I reached the farm only the barn was standing;
the dead bodies were there; I shall never forget
Bernard. Ah ... it only remains for us to
avenge them, and with that I charge myself.
[ He brandishes his gun.] Wherever I find one of
these vermin on my path, I will crush him without
pity. We have nothing left; henceforth my life
is consecrated to vengeance.
Louise. Bernard, have faith in God; better days
Bernard. [ Putting his hand on Louise's shoulder.]
Yes, Louise, I know you are good and brave, but
I cannot think of God now; vengeance first!
vengeance! nothing but vengeance!
Louise. Bernard, all these innocent victims will
be avenged. God will avenge them.
Bernard. Perhaps; but I am going to do my part.
Come, Jacques, nothing will be gained by sorrow-
ing; let us rejoin our regiment.
Jacques. Poor mother . . . she, so good. I will
never see her again!
Bernard, Well, Jean, are you coming?
Jean. I will go with you a little distance. I am
going to try to find a horse and carriage to take
grandmother and Louise to Holland. Then I will
rejoin the regiment. I have a sacred duty to
perform; they first, after that the regiment.
Bernard. You are right; but how are you going
to do it?
Jean. My faith, I don't know. Perhaps, crossing
the fields I may find a farm that has been spared,
where I can get a horse.
Bernard. As you will, my friend, though there is
little chance of success. Well, good-bye, Madame
Bruneels. [ He shakes hands with the Grand-
mother.] Good-bye, Louise.
Louise. [ Going to Bernard.] Farewell, Bernard.
Have courage, and may God keep you.
Bernard. Good-bye, my dear, good-bye. [ He
Jacques. [ In a low voice.] Good-bye, Madame
Bruneels. Good-bye, Louise.
Jean. [ Embracing his grandmother and his sister.]
I will try to return immediately, but if I do not,
then may God keep you. Farewell, farewell!
[ The three men leave the stage. Louise,
accompanying them to the rear^ embraces
Bernard again, and returns to her grand-
Louise. Poor Bernard, poor brother; will they
ever return ?
[ A red light is thrown upon the scenery at
The Grandmother. Look, Louise! What is that
great column of smoke and fire in the distance?
Louise. Good heavens! The Germans have set
fire to the four corners of Louvain !
The Grandmother. Oh! my poor Louvain! Oh!
the poor people! What will become of them!
But why do the Germans commit all these cruel-
ties.'' They have nothing to gain in thus utterly
destroying the country.
Louise. Grandmother, it is not very hard to find
the reason. The resistance of the Belgians has
exasperated the Prussians. They had counted on
taking Paris by the 15th of August, but they had
to content themselves with Louvain, besides losing
many men. Mad with rage, they are massacring
all in their way. Since the Belgians blocked a
campaign carefully prepared for half a century,
the Germans have sworn to annihilate our country;
they are avenging themselves, killing women, old
people, children; abusing maids and then shooting
them; burning towns and villages; sweeping every-
thing from their road; respecting nothing, neither
the cottage, nor the mother, nor the suckling, not
The Grandmother. How frightful! how frightful!
Let us hope that they will not return this way;
they would surely burn the farm.
Louise. That's certain. For three weeks they
have not left off pillaging, murdering and burning.
They will not spare us.
The Grandmother. Then they killed the whole
Louise. Yes, grandmother; I did not want to tell
you. I feared to frighten you. Happily Bernard
and Jacques had gone, or they would have shared
the same fate. Now they will at least be able to
avenge their dead.
The Grandmother. But why did not father
Valkiers and his family leave before the Prussians
Louise. Well, father Valkiers, like everyone else,
thought the Germans were soldiers, and not
murderers. No one would have believed that
they would systematically assassinate the peace-
able inhabitants of the country. In leaving his
house, Valkiers would have scarificed his harvest;
the product of a whole year of labor would have
been lost by his flight.
The Grandmother. Yes, and to remain was death.
I understand how painful it is for the old to leave
their homes, but better that than to be killed.
And you, little girl, you should not remain here.
It is to be hoped that Jean may be able to take
Louise. If he comes to take us, we will go together;
if he does not come, then, grandmother, I remain
The Grandmother. Yes, I know how good you
are, Louise, but it is not worth while to risk your
life for an old woman like me.
Louise. My duty is here, grandmother; and hap-
pen what may, I will not fail to do it.
The Grandmother. Well, do not let us speak of
it any longer, and may God protect us. Do you
not think, dear, that it would be better to go in?
Louise. As you like, grandmother.
The Grandmother. Let us go; I should like to
Louise. You are right. Since the Germans have
now passed, I believe all immediate danger is
[ Louise helps her grandmother to rise.]
The Grandmother. I am very tired, Louise, and
much disturbed about our Jean.
Louise. God is good and just, grandmother; He
will protect him. Jean will return.
[ While talking^ the two women disappear
inside the house. They close the door and
slip the bolt. 'The stage is slightly dark-
[ Von Rauch and Schmidt approach the
house from the other side of the road and
listen at the door. Von Rauch makes a
sign to Schmidt to examine the surround-
ings of the house; after a few moments they
return to the door and lis ten. \
Von Rauch. They are alone.
Schmidt. Do you think so?
Von Rauch. I am quite sure. [ Knocking at the
door.] Open !
Louise. [From the inside.] Who are you?
Von Rauch. Open, or we will break down the door.
Louise. What do you want?
VoN Rauch. We want something to eat and to
Louise. We are in bed; return tomorrow.
Von Rauch. If you don't open instantly, we will
set fire to the house; make haste; in a moment it
will be too late.
Louise. Have pity on my poor grandmother!
Von Rauch. Open! Give us to drink. Hurry!
Louise. We have nothing in the house.
VoN Rauch. [ 'To Schmidt.] Light the torch.
[ Schmidt pulls a small torch from his pocket
and lights it; Von Rauch takes it from
him and goes toward the window; with a
horrible grin he shows it to Louise, then
gives a blow with it upon the frame^ the
flame gushing out.]
[With a thundering voice.] By thunder! Open!
or I apply the torch!
Louise. [Drawing the bolt and opening the door.]
Have pity! Have pity on two defenseless women.
Von Rauch. [ Laughing diabolically and returning
the torch to Schmidt.] Ah! ah! . . .at last.
We are not going to hurt you. No, no, no, my
little darling; not the least in the world. [ He
tries to embrace Louise.]
Louise. [ Louise with a quick movement repulses
him.] Let me alone; what do you want.''
Von Rauch. First, my dear, give us something
good to drink.
Louise. We have only the beer of the country.
VoN Rauch. All right, the beer of the country
goes. My orderly will go with you to get it.
Louise. It is not necessary; I will bring it.
VoN Rauch. [ 'To Schmidt.] Follow this girl, and
look well at what she does; see if there is no wine.
Schmidt. Very well. Captain.
[ Schmidt and Louise diasppear into the
house. VoN Rauch reflects a moment, then
takes a piece of chalk from his pocket and
writes upon the door:
ES ISr FERBOTEN DIESES HAUS
IN BRAND ZU SETZEN.
HEINRICH VON RAUCH.
Von Rauch. [ Rubbing his hands together^ In this
way no one will disturb us. We are going to have
a fine time; later, if necessary, I well set the house
Louise. [ Still followed by Schmidt, who carries a
bottle of wine in each hand. Louise carries a pot
of beer and two glasses; she places all on the bench.]
Von Rauch. Ah! ah! Wine! . . . I thought you
said you had no wine. You have lied to me.
[ 'To Schmidt,] Are there many of these bottles?
Schmidt. These are all that I found, Captain.
Von Rauch. Tell me, darling, you have many
others, have you not.^
Louise. No, sir. These two were for my grand-
mother. The doctor ordered her to take a little
every day. These are all that remained.
VoN Rauch. [ Taking a knife furnished with a cork-
screw from his pocket and drawing the cork.] Well,
well . . . that's a fine excuse; the old lady will
have to do without it for some days. We, we
need strength. [ He fills his glass.] To your
health, girly, and to that of the grandmother.
[ Empties the glass at a draught, and smacks his
lips.] Zounds! what a good wine ... a little
too rich for the grandmother. Ah, ah, ah.
*lt is forbidden to burn this house. They are good people.
Henry Von Rauch, Captain.
[ Laughs and refills the glass.] Eh, Schmidt, the
beer is for you.
Schmidt. Thank you, Captain.
[ He drinks a glass of beer^ and then prowls
about the farm^ still watching the two while
going and coming.]
Von Rauch. Come, httle girl, uncork the other
bottle for me. [ Louise makes a sign of refusal.]
How, you will not pour for me?
Louise. Help yourself, sir.
VoN Rauch. Well, little girl, you are neither
reasonable nor grateful; see what I have done in
your absence. I have written on your door not
to burn your house. I am thus making you a
present of your home. You are safe for the
duration of the war. No one will harm you now.
[ He uncorks the bottle and pours out a drink.]
Louise. I am very grateful to you, sir.
VoN Rauch. You say that very faintly, my girl.
Come, sit down here. [ He sits down on the bench.]
Let us talk a little. How old are you?
Louise. [ Seating herself at a good distance from
Von Rauch.] I am nineteen, sir.
VoN Rauch. Really? You are a big girl for your
age. Where are your parents?
Louise. They are dead. I have only my grand-
mother, who is a paralytic, and my brother.
VoN Rauch. Your brother; where is he?
Louise. He was recalled to serve under his colors
at the beginning of the war.
VoN Rauch. Ah! he is one of these fellows who
shoot US without mercy; these rascals fell upon
us last night and we lost many men; but they
will pay for that.
[ He empties his glass and fills it again.]
Louise. Do you not think they are doing their
Von Rauch. Certainly, certainly; but we will do
ours also. In three months we will dictate the
law to Europe, then we will reward them for their
audacity. By the way, are you married.''
Louise. No, sir.
VoN Rauch. You surely have a lover. All beau-
tiful girls have lovers. Ah, ah, ah ... [ He
Louise. If you think I am in a mood for jesting
at this moment, you are mistaken.
Von Rauch. There, there, there! that's all right,
that's all right. [ Approaching and taking Louise
by the chin.] Come, give a little kiss to the captain.
Louise. [ Getting up and recoiling a Jew steps.]
Let me alone.
VoN Rauch. [Again approaching.] Eh! eh! don't
play the prude; don't try that on us soldiers.
Louise. [ Still recoiling.] I don't know what you
mean, but all I ask is that you will leave me in
VoN Rauch. [ Seizing Louise's wrist.] Oh, that's
all right, I like women who resist a little. Come
... a little kiss; just a little one; ah, ah, ah!
Louise. [ IVith a sudden movement she escapes from
VoN Rauch and rushes toward the fields y but after
a few steps he catches her again.] Leave me!
Leave me! Leave me!
Von Rauch. Well, well, my beauty; so you wish
to run away. You are not reasonable. We
always take forcibly what is not granted willingly.
Louise. Leave me, leave me; take all that you
want from the house, but let me go. [ She strug-
gles.] Let me go!
VoN Rauch. [ Sneering.] It is very dangerous,
my dear, to run about the fields in these troublous
times; we shall be much better before a good table
with something to eat and to drink.
[ He puts his arm around her waist.]
Louise. If you touch me I will call for help.
[ 'Trying to free herself^ she struggles with
VoN Rauch for a few moments^ when he
picks her up and carries her into the house.]
Louise. Help! Help! Help! . . .
[ From the bottom of the stage^ Schmidt looks
at what is going on with an air of indiffer-
ence ^ then slowly comes forward and mounts
guard before the house. For a few moments
the cries of Louise are heardy then there is
silence. Schmidt walks up and down; he
goes to the window^ looks inside^ and then
resumes his march along the house.]
Schmidt. And to say that we are commanded by
[ Enter Jean, who approaches the house
stealthily^ and, noticing Schmidt, conceals