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EASTER

BY

AUGUST
STRINDBERG

TRANSLATED BY



Midsummertide
The Stone Man
Haifa Sheet of Paper
The Sleepy-Head
Jubal Sans Ego
and Others




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA
RIVERSIDE



2Ayn.(M'^-^ -^ . - . f^^^^-d-e^







FROM ETCHING SYZORN



AUGUST STRINDBERG

COURTESY OF FREDERICK KEPPEL&CO



EASTER

(A Play in Three Acts)
AND STORIES



FROM THE SWEDISH OF

AUGUST STRINDBERG

AUTHOR OF "l.UCKY PEHR," ETC.



TRANSLATED BY

VELMA SWANSTON HOWARD



CINCINNATI
STEWART & KIDD COMPANY

1912



P3/^3



Copyright 1912

STEWART & KIDD COMPANY

Entered at Stationers' Hall, London, England



A// rights reserved



August ^trindberg



o:ttMlt>vek^



^.V4tc..)*lo%



Facsimile of a letter from Herr Strindberg, authorizing
Mrs. Howard to make these translations



CONTENTS

PAGE

Easter 3

]\IlDSUMMERTIDE 143

The Stone IVIan 165

Half a Sheet of Paper 183

The Sleepy-head 189

Secrets of the Tobacco Shed .... . 203

The Big Gravel Screen 215

Photography and Philosophy 227

JuBAL SANS Ego 235

Blue Wing Finds the Gold Powder . . . 251



EASTER



CHARACTERS.

Fru Heyst.

Elis, her son. A bachelor of Arts
and Instructor.

Eleonora, her Daughter.

Christina, Elis' Betrothed.

Benjamin, Pupil at Classical High
School.

LiNDQUiST, A Creditor.



ACT ONE.



AFTERNOON OF HOLY THURSDAY.

Music played before rise of curtain: ^^Sie-
ben Worte des Erlosers" (Seven Last Words
from the Cross), Haydn.

Introduction: Maestoso Adagio.



Scene : An enclosed veranda, entirely glass at
the back, fitted up as a living room. At cen-
tre is a large door leading to a small garden
with a picket fence and a gate opening on to
the street. The door and windows at the
hack are hung with yellow flowered chintz
curtains, which can he drawn. A small mir-
ror hangs on window-frame at left of centre
door; below it a date calendar. At right is a
door leading to the kitchen; at left a door
leading to other rooms. Up right centre is
a writing table on which are books, writing
materials and a telephone. Down at right is
a sewing table with a lamp and two easy
chairs. At the left, above the door, is a side-
hoard and a parlor stove; a dining table with
chairs at left centre. From the ceiling hangs
a lamp. From the windows is seen a view
of the street, and a house on the hill sur-
rounded by a garden which slopes toward the
city; at hack of garden are seen tree-tops in
spring bloom. A church spire looms above
the trees. A street lamp with incandescent
burners is opposite the gate.

Time : The present.



EASTER

lA sunbeam falls obliquely across room,
from left to right, touching one of the chairs
at sewing table. On the other chair, ivhich is
in shadoiu, Christina is seated. She is run-
ning a tape through a pair of newly laundered
draw-cwtains. Elis comes in with overcoat
unbuttoned and carrying a large bundle of
documents, which he lays upon the writing
table.l

Elis.
Good afternoon, my friend.

Chkistina.
Good day, Elis.

Elis.
[Glancing around.] Storm-windows out —
floor scoured — clean curtains. Yes, spring is
here again! They have chopped up the ice-
pavement, and the sallow down by the river is
in bloom. Yes, it is spring now, and I can hang-
up my winter coat. Do you know, it is as

3



EASTER AND STORIES



heavy [weighing it in his hand] as if it had
absorbed all the winter's hardships — the
sweat of anguish and the dust of the school-
room — Ah! [He hangs up coat on wall, left.]

Christina.
And now you are having a holiday.

Elis.

Easter Holiday: Five glorious days in
which to revel — to breathe — to forget! See,
the sun has come back! It went away in No-
vember — I remember the day it disappeared
back of the brewery, opposite. Oh, this winter
— this long winter!

Christina.

[With a motion toward kitchen door.]
Softly, softly!

Elis.

I'll be quiet, and I ought to be glad that it is
over. Oh, the good sun ! [Rubbing his hands
as if laving them.] I want to bathe in sun-
shine — wash myself in light, after all this black
filth!

4



EASTER



Chkistina.
Softly, softly!

Elis.

Do you know, I believe that peace is return-
ing and that the misfortunes have exhausted
themselves —

Chkistina.
What makes you think so?

Elis.

Because — when I passed by the Cathedral, a
while ago, a white dove came circling down;
she lit on the pavement and dropped a branch
she carried in her bill, right at my feet.

Christina.
Did you observe what kind of branch it was ?

Elis.

Olive it could hardly have been; but I think
it was an emblem of peace, and just now I feel
a blissful, sunny calm — Where's mother?



EASTEE AND STOKIES



Chkistusta.

[With a glance toward kitchen door.] In the
kitchen.

Elis.

[Closing Ms eyes and speaking in hushed
tones]. I can hear that it is spring. Do you
know how I can tell! Mostly by the axles on
the wagon wheels — bnt what have we here?
The bullfinch is singing, the hammers are sound-
ing on the wharf, and I smell the fresh paint
from the steamboats —

Christina.
Can you sense it all the way here ?

Elis.

Here! — True, we are here; but I was there —
up there in the North, where our home lies.
How did I ever come to this dreadful city,
where all the people hate one another, and
where one is always alone! It was the bread
that drew us. But, beside the bread lay the
misfortunes— father's crooked dealings and lit-
tle sister's iUness. Tell me— do you know if

6



EASTER



mother has been permitted to visit father in
prison?

Christina.
I think she has been there even to-day.

Elis.
What did she say?

Christhsta.
Nothing. She talked of other matters.

Elis.

Yet one thing is settled : After the trial came
certainty, and a singular calm — when the news-
papers had finished with their reports of the
proceedings. One year has gone by; in one
year he'll be out, and then we can begin all
over !

Christina.
I admire your patience in tribulation.

Elis.

Don't ! Admire nothing in me, for I possess
only faults. Now you know it — if you would
only believe it !

7



EASTER. AND STORIES



Chkistina.

If you suffered for your own failings, yes;
but you suffer for the mistakes of others.

Elis.
What are you sewing upon?

Christina.
The kitchen draw-curtains, dearie.

Elis.

Looks like a bridal veil. In the autumn
you are to be my bride, Christina. True, is it
not?

Christina.

Yes ; but first, let us think of the summer.

Elis.

Yes, summer! [Taking out a check hook.]
You see that the money is already in bank.
^Hien school closes, we shall go North to our
own province — to Miilaren! The cottage
stands there, ready— as it stood in our child-
hood; the lindens are still there; the punt lies
under the willow down by the river. Oh, that

8



EASTER



it were summer, so I could bathe in the sea!
This family dishonor has submerged me, body
and soul, and I long for a sea to cleanse me !

Christina.

Have you heard anything from sister
Eleonora?

Elis.

Yes. She is restless, poor child, and writes
letters that wring my heart. She wants to
come home, naturally, but the superintendent
of the Asylum is afraid to let her go, for she
does things which lead to prison. I feel con-
science-stricken at times because I voted for
her commitment.

Christina.

My dear friend, you assume the blame for
everything. But in this instance, it has surely
been a mercy that she was cared for, poor un-
happy child !

Elis.

What you say is true, and things seem best
as they are. She is as comfortable as can be.

9



EASTEE AND STOKIES



AVlien I think of how she went about here, cast-
ing a shadow over every semblance of pleasure ;
of how her fate depressed us, like a nightmare —
tortured us to despair — I am selfish enough to
feel a certain relief, akin to joy. And the great-
est misfortune I can imagine at this moment
would be to see her step inside these doors.
Just that contemiDtible am I !

Christina.
Just that human are you.

Elis.

I suffer all the same at the thought of her
distress, and father's.

Cheisthsta.
Some persons seem to be born for suffering —

Elis.

Poor you, who happened into this family,
doomed from the start — and damned !

Christina.

Elis, you do not know whether these are trials
or chastisements.

10



EASTER



Elis.

A^Tiat they are for you, I know not. Surely
you are not accountable to any one but your-
self.

Christina.

Tears in the morning, joy in the evening —
Elis, perhaps I can help you —

Elis.
Do you know if mother has a white muffler?

Cheistina.
[Uneasy.'] Are you going somewhere!

Elis.

I'm going to dine out. Peter, as you know,
gave a disputation yesterday, and to-day he
gives a dinner.

Christina.

Would you go to that dinner?

Elis.

You mean that I should stay away because he
proved to be a very ungrateful pupil.

11



EASTER AND STOEIES



Chkistina.

I cannot deny that his disloyalty shocked me ;
after promising to quote your thesis, he ap-
propriated it without mentioning the source —

Elis.

Alas ! that is so common ; but I am happy in
the consciousness that "this have I done."

Christina.
Has he invited you?

Elis.

Come to think of it, no ! It's rather strange,
considering that he has gone about and talked
of this dinner for several years, as though my
presence was a foregone conclusion. If I am
not invited now, it is an intentional affront.
What matter! This is not the first time — nor
yet the last !

lPause.'\

Christina.

Benjamin is late. Do you think he will pass
his examination?

12



EASTER



Elis.

I certainly hope so! — In Latin, surely, with
honors.

Chkistina,

Fine boy, Benjamin !

Elis.

Uncommonly so, but something of a dreamer.
You know, of course, why he is here with us?

Christina.
It is because —

Elis.

Because my father embezzled his funds in
equity — like those of so many others. You see,
Christina, this is the terrible part of it: At
school I have to face all these poor, defrauded,
fatherless lads who must suffer the humiliation
of being charity pupils ; and the light in which
they regard me, you can imagine. I must con-
tinually think of their misery in order to par-
don their cruelty^



13



EASTER AND STORIES



Chkistina.

I believe your father is rQuch better off than
you.

Elis.

Much!

Christina.

Elis, we should think of the summer and not
of the past.

Elis.

Yes, of the summer! — Do you know, I was
awakened last night by the students' singing.
They sang: ''Yes, I'm coming! Happy
winds, take my greetings to the country. To
the birds say, that I love them; to birch and
linden, lake and mountain, say that I would see
them once again — see them now as in my child-
hood!" [Rising.] Shall I ever see them
again? Shall I ever get away from this dread-
ful city— from Mount Ebal, the accursed, and
once more behold Gerizim? [Seats himself by
the door.']



14



EASTER



Christina.
Yes, yes, you shall!

Elis.

But think you that I shall see my birches and
lindens as I saw them before? Think you not
that the same black pall will spread over them
that has veiled the landscape and the life down
here ever since that day? — [Pointing to chair,
which is now in shadow.^ You see, the sun has
gone away !

Christina.
It will come back — only to stay the longer.

Elis.

True ; the days are lengthening and the shad-
ows shortening.

Christina.

We are going toward the light, Elis, believe
me.

Elis.

Sometimes I think so, and when I think of the
past and compare it with the present, I feel

15



EASTER AND STORIES



happy. This time last year you were not sit-
ting here, for then you had gone from me, and
had broken our engagement. Do you know that
that was the darkest shadow of all. I literally
died, inch by inch ; but when you came again —
I lived ! Do you remember why you went 1

Christina.

No, I do not; and it occurs to me now that
there was no reason for it. I felt an irresisti-
ble impulse to go, so I went— as in a dream.
When I saw you again, I awoke, and was happy.

Elis.

And now we must never be parted ; for if you
were to go from me now, I should die in ear-
nest ! Mother is coming— say nothing. Shield
her in her world of illusions, where she lives
fancying father a martyr and all his victims
scoundrels.

[Fru Heyst comes on from kitchen, tvearing
a kitchen apron and paring an apple. She
speaks pleasantly and somewhat artlessly.]



16



EASTER



Feu Heyst.

Good afternoon, children. How will you
have your apple soup — hot or cold?

Elis.
Cold, little mother.

Fku Heyst.

That's right, my boy! You always know
what you want, and speak up; but Christina
doesn't. This Elis learned from his father.
He always knew what he wanted and what he
was about — and that folks can't tolerate.
Therefore it turned out badly for him. But his
day is coming; then he'll get justice and the
others will get their deserts ! — Wait — what was
I going to tell you — ? Oh, yes — do you know
that Lindquist has moved to townl — Lindquist
— the biggest scoundrel of them all !

Elis.
[Agitated, rises.'\ Is he here?

Feu Heyst.

Yes ; he lives across the way.

17



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.
Then one must see Mm pass by every day —
This too!

Feu Heyst.
Only let me talk to him once, and he will never
come again, or show his face ! I know his little
peculiarities. Well, Elis, how did Peter get
on?

Elis.
Very well.

Fru Heyst.

I can readily believe that. When do you
think of debating?

Elis.
When I can afford to, mother.

Feu Heyst.

When you can afford to? But that's no an-
swer! And Benjamin — has he passed his ex-
amination ?

Elis.
We don't Imow as yet, but he will be here
shortly.

18



EASTER



Feu Heyst.

I don't quite like Benjamin, for he goes about
with an air — as though lie had rights ; but we '11
cure him of that. A good boy, all the same —
Oh, by the by, there's a parcel for you, Elis.
[Steps into kitchen and returns promptly with
parcel.l

Elis.

Fancy, how well mother keeps track of every-
thing, and knows what is going on ! Sometimes
I think she is not as artless as she pretends to
be.

Feu Heyst.

Here is the parcel. Lina took it in.

Elis.

A gift! I'm afraid of gifts since I received
that box of cobble stones — [He lays parcel on
table.]

Feu Heyst.

Now I 'm going back into the kitchen. "Won 't
it be too cold with the door open?



19



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.
Not at all, mother.

Fru Heyst.

You mustn't hang your overcoat there, Elis;
it looks so untidy! Well, Christina, will my
draw-curtains be ready soon?

Christina.
In a few minutes, mother.

Fru Heyst.

Yes, I do like that boy, Peter ; he is my favor-
ite ! Aren 't you going to the dinner, Elis ?

Elis.
Why, to be sure I am !

Fru Heyst.

Then why should you go and say that you
wanted your apple soup cold, when you are to
dine out? There's nothing determined about
you, Elis ; but there is about Peter. Now, close
the doors if it grows chilly, so you won't catch
cold.

20



EASTER



Elis.

Good old soul! — And it's always Peter — Is it
her meaning to tease you about Peter?

Christina.

Me?

Elis.

You know, of course, that old ladies are up
to such games — whims and fancies only.

Christina.
What kind of gift did you receive ?

Elis.
[Tearing of paper.] A birch branch.

Christina.
From whom?

Elis.

Giver anonymous — No, the birch is innocent
enough, and I shall put it in water so that it
will blossom, like Aaron's rod. Birch — as in
my childhood — So Lindquist is here.

21



EASTEK AND STORIES



Christina.
What about him?

Elis.
Our heaviest debt is to him.

Christina.
But you don't owe him anything!

Elis.

Yes, we do — one for all and all for one; the
family name is dishonored so long as there is
debt.

Christina.
Change names.

Elis.
Christina !

Christina.

[Lays down work, ivhich is finished.]
Thanks, Elis ! I only wished to try you.

Elis.

But you mustn't tempt me! — Lindquist is a
poor man and needs his money. Wherever my

22



EASTER



father lias been, it is like a battle field, with
dead and wounded ; and mother believes that he
is the victim! — Don't you want to go for a
stroll?

Christina.
And look for the sun? — Gladly!

Elis.

Can you understand this : The Redeemer
suffered for our iniquities, yet we continue to
pay? No one pays for me.

Christina.

But if someone paid for you, would you un-
derstand then?

Elis.

Yes, then I should understand. Hush ! Here
comes Benjamin. Can you see if he looks
happy ?

Christina.

He walks so slowly — now he stops at the
fountain — and washes his eyes —

23



EASTEE AND STORIES



Even this — !



Wait a bit-



Tears, tears !



Elis.



Chkistina.



Elis.



Christina.

Patience !

[Enter Benjamin. He is gentle and respect-
ful, hut looks disheartened. He carries a few
hooks and a portfolio.]

Elis.
How did it go with your Latin?

Benjamin.
Badly !

Elis.

May I see your examination papers? What
have you done?

Benjamin.

I dashed off the indicative, although I knew it
should have been the conjunctive —

24



EASTER



Elis.
Then you are lost ! But liow could you ?

Benjamin.

I can't explain it. I knew bow it ought to be,
wanted to do the right thing, and did the wrong
thing. [Dejected, he sits down at table.]

Elis.

[Drops into chair at writing table and reads
in Benjamin's portfolio.] Yes, here you have
the indicative. — Ye gods !

Cheistina.

[Forced.] Better luck next time! Life is
long — terribly long!

Benjamin.
It is that !

Elis.

[Mournfully, but ivitJioiit bitterness.] And
it must all come upon you at once. You were
my best pupil, so what can I expect from the
others? My standing as tutor goes for naught,
and I shall have no more classes. Thus every-

25



EASTER AND STORIES



tiling falls through. [To Benjamin.] Don't
be so cut up; it's not your fault.

Cheistina.
Elis, courage, courage, for pity's sake!

Elis.
Where shall I find it?

Cheistina.
Where you found it before.

Elis.

It's not the same now. I seem to be in dis-
grace —

Cheistina.

It is a grace to suffer without blame. Don't
let impatience delude you. Stand the test; for
it is only a test — I feel it so.

Elis.

Can a year for Benjamin become shorter than
three hundred and sixty-five days?

Cheistina.

Yes ; for a cheerful mind shortens time.

26



EASTER



Elis.

[Laughing.] Blow on the wound and it will
heal up, we say to children.

Christina.

Be a child, then, and I'll say it. Think of
mother — how well she bears everything.

Elis.

Give me your hand, I'm sinking! [Christina
extends hand.] Your hand trembles —

Christina.
No, I can't feel that it does.

Elis.

You are not the strong woman you appear to
be.

Christina.

I feel no weakness —

Elis.
Then why can't you give me a little strength?

Christina.

I have none to spare.

27



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.

[Looking out through the window.'] Do you
know who is coming this way?

Christina.

[Glances through icindow, then drops to
knees, crushed.] This is too much!

Elis.

The creditor — he who can seize our effects
at any time — Lindquist, who came here that he
might sit, like the spider in the centre of the
web, to watch the flies —

Christina.
Fly!

Elis.

No, I shall not fly. — Now, when you are weak,
I am strong. He is coming up the street and
his cruel eyes have already sighted the prey.

Christina.
Step aside at least!



28



EASTER



Elis.

No; now he amuses me. — He appears to
brighten, as though he saw the game in the trap.
— Come along, you! — He is counting the steps
to the gate and sees by the open door that we
are at home. He meets someone and stops to
chatter. — He is talking about us, for he looks
this way —

Christina.

Just so he doesn't meet mother here, for with
a hasty word she might make him relentless. —
Prevent it, Elis!

Elis.

Now he shakes his cane, as if protesting that
here at least mercy shall not come before jus-
tice. — He buttons his overcoat to show that
as yet we have not stripped the clothes oif
his body — I can tell by the movement of his lips
what he is saying. What shall I answer him —
' ' My lord, you are right, take all, it belongs to
you?"

Cheistina,

That is the only thing to be said.

29



EASTEE AND STOEIES



Elis.

Now lie laughs, but good-naturedly — ^not
wickedly. Perhaps he's not so bad after all,
although he wants his money. If he would only
come now and stop his infernal chatter! — The
cane is in motion again — they always have
canes — these persons with outstanding debts —
and leather-galoshes that say ''vitch, vitch,"
like whips in the air. [He presses Christina's
hand to his heart.] Do you feel how my heart
beats? I hear it myself, in the right ear, like
the thump, thump of a propeller on an ocean
liner. — Ah, now he has said farewell ! — and now
for the galoshes : "Vitch, vitch," like the Easter
birch rod. — He wears watch charms. — Then he
can't be so poverty-stricken. They always
wear charms of carbuncle, like old flesh carved
from their neighbor's back. — Hark, the ga-
loshes! "Vipers, vipers, vitch!" Look out!
— He sees me — [hotving toward street]. He
nods first — and smiles ; he waves his hand — and

— and — [sinks down at writing table and
weeps]. He passed by!



30



EASTER



Christina.
God be praised !

Elis.

[Rising.] He passed by — but he'll come
back. — Let us go out into the sunshine.

Christina.
And the dinner with Peter?

Elis.

As I'm not invited, I'll keep aloof. For that
matter, why should I break in upon the merri-
ment! To meet a faithless friend? — I should
only suffer for his behavior so that I could not
feel offended by mine own.

Christina.
Thank you for staying with us.

Elis.

I much prefer it, as you know. Shall we
walk?

Christina.

Yes — this way. [Goes off at door left.]

31



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.

[Pats Benjamin on the head in passing.']
Courage, lad! [Benjamin buries his face in
his hands. Elis takes birch branch from din-
ing table and places it bach of mirror.] It was
no olive branch the dove brought — it was birch.
[Goes out.]

[Eleonora enters at door centre. She is a
girl of sixteen, with a braid down her back.
She carries a potted yelloiv Easter Uly and,
toithout seeing or seeming to see Benjamin,
takes a water bottle from the sideboard and
waters the plant, places it on dining table,
then sits down at table opposite Benjamin,
regards him, and unconsciously imitates his
movements. Benjamin, astonished, stares at
her.]

Eleonoka.

[Pointing at flower.] Do you know what
this is?

Benjamin.

[Simply and childishly.] It's an Easter
lily, that much I know ; but who are you ?

32



EASTER



Eleonora.

[^Pleasantly, hut tvith a note of sadness.'\
And who are you ?

Benjamiist.

My name is Benjamin, and I lodge here with
Fru Heyst.

Eleonoea.

Oh, do you^ My name is Eleonora, and I
am a daughter of this house.

Benjamin.
How strange that they never speak of you !

Eleonora.
One does not speak of the dead.

Benjamin.
The dead!

Eleonora.

I am legally dead, for I have committed a ter-
rible wrong.

Benjamin

Youf

33



EASTER AND STORIES



Eleonora.

Yes; I have embezzled trust funds — which
was of no great consequence, for ill-gotten
gains should perish — but that my old father
got the blame and was sent to prison, that, you
see, can never be pardoned.

Benjamin".

How strangely and prettily you speak! — Tt
has never occurred to me that my inheritance
might have been dishonestly acquired.

Eleonora.

One must not bind people, one must free
them.

Benjamin.

You have freed me from the worry of being
defrauded.

Eleonora.
You are a ward, then?

Benjamin.
Yes, and it is my ill-luck to be com-
pelled to stay with these poor people and live
out their debt.

34



EASTER



Eleonora.

You mustn't use hard words, for then I'll
go my way; I am so sensitive that I can't
bear anything harsh. Meanwhile — you suffer
this on my account?

Benjamin.
On your father's account.

Eleonora.

It is all one, for he and I are one and the
same person — [pausel. I have been very ill — ■
Why are you so sad?

Benjamin.
I have had a stroke of bad luck.

Eleonora.

Shall you grieve over that? "The rod and
reproof give wisdom, and he that hateth re-
proof shall die." What was your bad luck?


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