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Benjamin.

I failed to pass in my Latin examination,
although I was absolutely certain —

35



EASTEE AND STOKIES



Eleonoea.

So you were absolutely certain — so certain
that you could have laid a wager on pass-
ing—!

Benjamin".

And I did it, too !

Eleonoea.

I thought as much. You see, it turned out
thus because you were so certain.

Benjamin.
Do you think that was the cause of it?

Eleonoea.

Of course it was. "Pride goeth before a
fall."

Benjamin.
I'll remember that next time.

Eleonoea.

Now you are thinldng right; and ''the sacri-
fices which are pleasing unto God, are a broken
spirit and a contrite heart."

36



EASTER



Benjamin.
Are you pious?

Eleonoea.
Yes.

Benjamin.
A believer, I mean.

Eleonoea.

Yes, I mean just that, so if you speak evil of
God, my benefactor, I shall not sit at the same
table with you.

Benjamin.
How old are you?

Eleonoea.

For me there is neither time nor space; I
am everywhere and at any time. I am in my
father's prison and in my brother's school
room; I am in my mother's kitchen and in my
sister's shop, far away in America. When all
goes well with my sister and she can sell, I feel
her joy, and when it goes badly, I suffer; but I
suffer most when she does wrong. Benjamin

37



EASTER AND STORIES



— You are named Benjamin because you are the
youngest of my friends — yes, all mankind are
my friends. Will you let me adopt you, that I
may suffer for you, too?

Benjamin.

I do not wholly understand your words, but
I seem to catch the drift of your thoughts and,
from now on, I wish all that you wish !

Eleonoea.

To begin, then, will you stop judging people
— even those who are convicted criminals'?

Benjamin.

Yes, but I must have a reason for it; I have
read philosophy you see.

Eleonora.

Oh, have you! Then you shall help me in-
terpret this, from a great philosopher: *'They
who hate the righteous, shall be adjudged crim-
inally guilty." *

*This passage, from the thirty-fourth Psalm, had to be
traiislat(xl from tlie Swedish version of the Bible to give a
correct interpretation of the author's meaning. Our English
Bible conveys a somewhat different thought. — Trans.

38



EASTER



Benjamin.

Which, according to all logic means that one
may be doomed to commit crime —

Eleonora.
And that the crime itself is a punishment.

Benjamin.

It is certainly deep. One might think it was
Kant or Schopenhauer —

Eleonora.
I don't know them.

Benjamin.
In whose writings have you read it?

Eleonora.
In Holy Writ.

Benjamin.
Really? Are such things to be found there?

Eleonora.

What an ignorant and neglected child you
are! If I could only train you!

39



EASTEE AND STORIES



Benjamin.
Little you!

Eleonoea.

But there is certainly nothing bad in you ; if
anything, you look good. What is the name of
your Latin teacher?

Benjamin.
Professor Algren.

Eleonoea.

[Rising.] I shall remember that. — Oh! now
my father fares very badly — they are cruel to
him. [Stands still, as if she ivere listening.]
Do you hear the rasping in the telephone wires?
— Those are the hard words which the pretty,
soft red copper cannot bear. — When people
slander one another in the telephone, the cop-
per wails and laments — [ivith severity] and
every word is written in the Book — and at the
end of time comes the reckoning.

Benjamin.

How severe you are I

40



EASTER



Eleonora.

Not I, not I! How would I dare be? I— I?
[She goes over to the stove, opens the door and
takes out some torn scraps of white letter pa-
per. Benjamin rises and looks curiously at the
scraps, which Eleonora arranges on dining
table.]

Eleoitoea.

[To herself. 1 Why are people so thoughtless
as to put their secrets into empty stoves ! "Wlier-
ever I am, I go at once to the stove; but I
never misuse my knowledge — I wouldn't dare
to, for that brings suffering. [Reading.]
Why, what is this?

Benjamin.

It's a letter from Peter, the Senior Wrangler,
who makes an appointment with Christina. I
have suspected this for some time.

Eleonora.

[Placing her hand over the papers.] AVell,
what have you suspected? Speak out, you
wicked man, who think only evil! This letter

41



EASTEE AND STOKIES



holds nothing but good, for I know Christina,
who is to be my sister-in-law. This meeting
will ward off a misfortune from brother Elis.
Promise me that you will be silent, Benjamin?

Benjamin.
I don't think I should dare speak of this.

Eleonora.

What mistakes people make who have se-
crets ! — They think themselves wise, and are
fools. — But what was I doing over there 1

Benjamin.
Yes, why are you curious?

Eleonora.

You see, that is my malady : I must know all,
or I become uneasy.

Benjamin.
Know all?

Eleonora.

It is a failing which I cannot overcome. —
All the same, I know what the starlings say !

42



EASTER



Benjamin.
But they can't speak?

Eleonora.

Have you never heard starlings that were
taught to speak?

Benjamin.
That were taught — yes.

Eleonora.

Well, then, starlings can learn to speak.
Now, there are some who teach themselves, or
are automatoms — they sit and listen, without
our knowing it, of course, and then they repeat.
I heard a pair of them, just before I came in,
that sat in a walnut tree and chattered.

Benjamin.
How droll you are ! But what did they say 1

Eleonora.

''Peter!" said one. "Judas!" said the
other — "You're another!" said the first —
"Fy, fy!" said the second. Have you marked

43



EASTEE AND STORIES



that tlie nightingales sing only in the deaf
mutes' garden, close by?

Benjamin.
Yes, that is known; but why do they do sol

Eleonoea.

Because those who have ears do not hear what
the nightingales say, but the deaf mutes hear it.

Benjamin.
Tell me some more stories !

Eleonora.
Yes, if you are good.

Benjamin.
How good?

Eleonora.

You must never measure words with me and
never say: ''Thus you said then, and then
you said thus." Shall we talk more about
birds? There is a wicked bird called the rat-
buzzard, who, as one can hear by his name, lives
upon rats. And since he is a bad bird, it has to

■44



EASTER



be very difficult for him to catch rats. That is
why he can say only one word, and it sounds as
when the cat says ''mieou." Now, when the
buzzard says ''mieou" the rats run and hide, so
he is very often without food because he's bad.
Want to hear more — or shall I talk about flow-
ers I When I was ill, I had to take a drug made
from henbane, which has the peculiar quality of
turning the eye into a magnifying glass. — Bel-
ladonna, on the other hand, makes one see
everything diminished — and now I see farther
than others, for I can see the stars in broad
daylight.

Benjamin.

But the stars are not out?

Eleonoea.

How amusing you are ! The stars are always
out. Now I sit facing north, looking at Cas-
siopae, which resembles a W, and sits in the
centre of the ''Milky Way." Can you see it?

Benjamin.
No, I can not!

45



EASTER AND STORIES



Eleonoka.

Now bear this in mind, that one person can
see what another cannot, therefore be not so
certain of your eyes. I was going to speak of
the flower on the table: It is an Easter lily
which belongs in Switzerland, and has a chalice
that has absorbed sunshine ; therefore it is yel-
low, and soothes suffering. As I came along, I
saw it in a florist's window and wanted to pre-
sent it to brother Elis. '\¥hen I was about to
enter the shop, I found the door locked — it is
evidently Confirmation Day to-day. As I had
to have the flower, I took out my keys and tried
them. Fancy! My door-key fitted — I walked
in. Do you understand the silent language of
flowers? Each fragrance expresses many,
many thoughts; these thoughts assailed me,
and, with my magnified eye, I looked into their
workshops, which no one has seen, and they
spoke to me of their sorrows brought upon
them by the stupid gardener — I do not say
cruel, for he is only thoughtless. Then I laid
a krona, with my card, upon the counter, took
the flower and walked out.



46



EASTER



Benjamin.

How tbougiitless ! But think if tliey should
miss the flower, and do not find the money I

Eleonora.
That never occurred to me !

Benjamin.

A coin can disappear so easily, and if only
your card is found, you are lost !

Eleonoea.

Surely no one thinks that I would take any-
thing —

Benjamin.

[Regards her steadily.'] No?

Eleonoea.

[Scrutinizes him as she rises.'] Ah! I know
what you mean — ''Like father, like child."
How thoughtless of me ! Wliat — no ! AYhat is
to be, will be. [Seats herself.] Let it come,
then!

Benjamin.
Can't one adjust this matter?

47



EASTEE AND STOEIES



Eleonora.

Hush! and talk of something else — Profes-
sor Algren ! Poor Elis ! poor all of us ! But it
is Passion Week and we must suffer. There's
a concert to-morrow — Haydn's "Last words
from the Cross" — "Mother, behold thy Son!"
[She huries her face in her hands, and weeps.}

Benjamin.
"What sort of illness have you had?

Eleonora.

"This illness is not unto death, but for the
glory of God! When I looked for good, then
evil came unto me ; and when I waited for light
there came darkness." What was your child-
hood like, Benjamin?

Benjamin.

I don't know. — Stupid, as I recall it — and
yours?

Eleonora.

I never had any. I was born old. I knew all
at my birth, and when I learned anything it
was just like remembering. I knew the thought-

48



EASTER



lessness and ignorance of men when I was only
four years old; therefore they were cruel to-
ward me.

Benjamin.

All that you say I, too, seem to have thought.

Eleonoka. •

I daresay you have. What made you sup-
pose that my coin might be lost at the florist's?

Benjamin.

Because the exasperating thing always has to
happen.

Eleonora.

So you, also, have observed this. — Hush!
someone is coming. [Glancing up stage.] I
hear Elis' step. What joy! The best friend I
have on earth! [She becomes apprehensive.]
But he's not expecting me, and he won't be glad
to see me — indeed he won't! Benjamin, Ben-
jamin, show a smiling face and a cheerful spirit
when my poor brother comes ! I'll step in here
so that you may prepare him for my arrival.
But no hard words; they hurt so. Do you

49



EASTEE AND STOEIES



hear? Give me your hand! [Benjamin puts
forth his hand. Eleonora kisses him on the
head.] There! Now you are my little brother.
God bless and keep you! [She exits left and,
in passing, she pats the sleeve of Elis' coat
affectionately.] Poor Elis!

[Elis enters at centre door looking troubled.
Fru Heyst comes on from kitchen.]

Elis.
Why, there's mother!

Fru Heyst.

Was it you? I fancied I heard a strange
voice.

Elis.

I have some news to tell you. I met the at-
torney on the street.

Feu Heyst.
Well?

Elis.
The case will now go to the higher courts,
and in order to save time, I must read through
all the official records of the trial.

50



EASTER



Feu Hbyst.
You'll soon do that.

Elis.

[Indicating documents on writing table.']
Ah, I thought it was over! And now I must
worry through this entire passion-story — all
the accusations, all the testimony, all the evi-
dence over again!

Frit Heyst.

Yes, but then he will be acquitted by the
higher courts.

Elis.
No, mother ; he has confessed.

Fetj Heyst.

Yes; but that can be a "technical error" the
attorney said when last I talked with him.

Elis.
He said that to comfort you.

Fru Heyst.

Aren't you going to the dinner?

51



EASTER AND STOEIES



Elis.

No.

Feu Heyst.
So yon have changed your mind again !

Elis.
Yes.

Fku Heyst.
That sort of thing is bad.

Elis.

I know it, but I'm tossed like a straw between
breakers.

Feu Heyst.

I thought just now that I heard a strange
voice — one known to me ; but I must have heard
wrongly. {^Pointing to overcoat.'] That coat
shouldn't hang there, I told you! [Exits
right. Elis crossing to left sees the Easter
lily.']

Elis.

[To Benjamin.] Where did that flower come
from?

52



EASTER



Benjamin.
A young lady brought it.

Elis.
Lady! What does this mean! Who was it?

Benjamin.
It was —

Elis.

Was it — my sister?

Benjamin.
Yes.

Elis.

[Sinks down into a chair at table. Pause.}
Did you speak with lier?

Benjamin.

Yes indeed!

Elis.

God! is it not enough yet? Was she cross
to you?

Benjamin.

She? No, she was kind, oh, so kind!

53



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.

Strange I Did she speak of me? Was she
very angry with me?

Benjamin.

On the contrary, she said that you were her
best and only friend on earth —

Elis.
What an extraordinary change I

Benjamin.

And when she went she patted your coat —
there, on the sleeve.

Elis.
Went — where did she go?

Benjamin.
{Pointing toward door at left.] In there.

Elis.
She is there now?

Benjamin.

Yes.

54



EASTER



Elis.
You look so pleased and happy, Benjamin I

Benjamin.
She talked to me so beautifully —

Elis.
What did she talk about?

Benjamin.

She told stories, and then there was a good
deal about religion —

Elis.
IRising.] Which made you happy?

Benjamin.

Yes.

Elis.

Poor Eleonora! who is so unhappy herself,
and yet can bring joy to others. [Moving
slowly toward left.] God forgive me !

Curtain.



55



ACT TWO.



GOOD FKIDAY.

Music played before this act: ''Seven Last
Words from the Cross' ' (Haydn). Largo No.
I, ''Pater dimitti illis."



Scene: Same as act one. Curtains drawn,
light from street lamp shining through them;
hanging lamp lit. On dining table is a small
paraffin lamp lighted. Fire in the stove.
Elis and Christina seated at sewing table,
idle. At dining table, facing each other, sit
Eieonora and Benjamin, reading. Eleonora
has a shaivl drawn across her shoulders.
All are dressed in black; Elis and Benjamin
wear white cravats. Spread out on ivriting
table are the documents of the trial; on sew-
ing table is the Easter lily and on writing
table stands an old clock. Now and then can
be seen on the curtain the shadow of a passer-
by.

Elis.

[Speaking in an undertone to Christina.']
Good Friday! But how insufferably long!
The snow is spread over the pavement, like
straw in front of the house of the dying. Every
sound is hushed, save the bass notes from the
organ, which can be heard all the way here.

59



EASTER AND STORIES



Christina.
Mother must have gone to Vespers.

Elis.

Yes, for she dared not appear at High Mass
— the stares of the people wound her.

Christina.

These people are a queer lot ! They demand
that we shall keep aloof; they deem it fitting
and proper.

Elis.
Perhaps they are right —

Christina.

Because of one person's misstep, the whole
family is outlawed.

Elis.

Such is life!

[Eleonora pushes lamp toward Benjamin, so
that he will see better.]

Christina. [To Elis]
Isn't that a pretty picture ! And they get on



so well together.

60



EASTER



Elis.

How fortunate that Eleonora is so tranquil.
— If it will only last !

Christina.
Why shouldn't it?

Elis.

Because — happiness doesn't usually last
very long. I fear everything this day ! [Ben-
jamin cautiously pushes lamp toward Eleonora,
that she may see better.] Have you observed
how changed Benjamin is? The old sullen de-
fiance has given way to a calm submissiveness.

Christina.

How sweet she is ! — Her whole being radiates
an indefinable charm.

Elis.

And she brings with her an angel of peace
that moves about, unseen, breathing a tender
calm. Even mother appeared calm when she
saw her — a calm which I had not expected.

61



EASTEE AND STORIES



Christina.
Do you think she has entirely recovered?

Elis.

Yes, if only this oversensitiveness were gone.
Now she is reading the story of the Crucifixion,
and, at times, she weeps.

Christina.

I remember how we always did this at school
on Wednesdays during Lent.

Elis.

Don't speak so loud; her hearing is very
acute.

Christina.

Not now — she is so far away.

Elis.
Have you marked that Benjamin's features
have taken on a certain air of dignity and breed-
ing?

Christina.
Suffering has done that. Joy makes every-
thing commonplace.

62



EASTER



Elis.
Perhaps it is love, rather. Don't you think
those children —

Cheistina.
Hush, hush, hush ! Mustn't touch the butter-
fly's wings, for then she'll fly away!

Elis.
They are probably gazing at each other and
only pretend to be reading: for they turn no
leaves as I can hear.

Cheistina.
Hush!

Elis.

See, now she cannot control herself —
[Eleonora rises, walks over to Benjamin and
places her shawl over his shoulders. He pro-
tests mildly at first, then yields. Eleonora
goes back to her place, seats herself and pushes
lamp toward Benjamin.']

Cheistina.

Poor Eleonora! She doesn't know how well

she means.

63



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.
[Rising.] Now I'll return to my documents.

Christina.
Can you see any purpose in this reading f

Elis.

One only — to keep up mother's hope. Al-
though I, too, only pretend that I'm reading,
yet there are words that pierce my eyes like
thorns — Statements of witnesses; figures; fa-
ther 's admissions — thus : ' ' The defendant with
tears confessed — " So many tears, so many
tears ! And these papers, with their seals, that
suggest counterfeit bank notes, or prison locks ;
the strings and the red seals are like the
Saviour's five wounds; and the sentences which
never end, the everlasting pangs — this is Good
Friday penance! Yesterday the sun shone;
yesterday we traveled to the country — in our
thoughts — Christina, suppose we have to stay
here all summer!

Christhsta.

Then we should save a good deal of money —
but it would be disappointing.

64



EASTEE



Elis.

I should never live through it ! I have spent
three summers here, and it's like a grave. It
is midday uo'^, and oue sees the long gTay
streets winding, like trenches — not a human
being, not a horse, not a dog anywhere! But
up from the drains come the rats, whilst the
cats are off on their summer cruises. The few
persons who are left in town, sit gating into
reflex-mirrors at their neighbor's clothes.
'^See, he is wearing his winter clothing!" — and
at their neighbor's run-down heels, and their
neighbor's faults. — And from the quarters of
the poor, the maimed and decrepit who, until
now, were in seclusion, come crawling out —
creatures without noses and ears, wicked
wretches, and unfortunates. They sit on the
great promenade, exactly as if they had con-
quered the city, where but lately pretty, well-
dressed children played, cheered on by tender
and encouraging words from their beautiful
mothers. Now the place is infested with a
ragged horde who curse and torment ea<?h
other, — I recall a Midsummer's Daij two years

ago —

65



EASTER AND STORIES



Christina.
Elis, Elis, look ahead — ahead!

Elis.
Is it brighter there?

Christina.

Let us think it.

Elis.

[Sits clown at writing table.] If it would
only stop snowing — so one could go for a stroll !

Christina.

Dear heart! Last evening you wished the
dark days back, that we might escape people's
glances. "The darkness is so soothing; so
charitable," you said. *'It is like drawing a
blanket over one's head."

Elis.

You see, then, that the misery is just as great
whichever way you look at it — [reading in
documents']. The worst things in the whole
procedure are the personal questions regard-
ing father's mode of living. Here it says that

66



EASTER



we held "grand receptions," one witness de-
clares that he ' ' drank ! ' ' No, this is too much !
I can't bear more — yet I must read on — to the
end. Are you cold?

Christina.

No ; but it is not wann here ! — Is Lina not at
home ?

Elis.

She is at Holy Communion, as you know.

Christina.
Surely mother will be home soon?

Elis.

"When she comes from without, I am always
fearful, for she hears so much and sees so
much — and everything is bad!

Christina.

There seems to be an unusual melancholy in
your family.

Elis.

And therefore none but melancholy persons
have cared to associate with us; the happy
have shunned us,

67



EASTEE AND STORIES



Christina.
Mother came in just now by the kitchen door.

Elis.
Don't be impatient with her, Christina.

Christina.

Ah, no! For her it is hardest! But I don't
understand her.

Elis.

She hides her humiliation as best she can,
and therefore she is incomprehensible. Poor
mother !

[Fru Heyst comes in dressed in black, carry-
ing a prayer book and a handkerchief.]

Fru Heyst.

Good evening, children.

[All speak except Benjamin, who simply
nods.] Good evening, mother dear.

Fru Heyst.

You are all in black, as though you were in
mourning ! [Silence.]

68



EASTER



Elis.
Is it still snowing?

Feu Heyst.

Yes, there's a heavy fall of wet snow. — It's
cold in here. [She goes up to Eleonora and
pats her.] Well, my chick, you are reading
and studying, I see. [To Benjamin.'] But
you don't hurt yourself studying! [Eleonora
takes her mother's hands and kisses them.]
[Fru Heyst, repressing her e^notion.] There,
my child ! There, there !

Elis.
You were at Vespers, mamma?

Fru Heyst.

Yes; so was the Perpetual Curate, and I
don't like him.

Elis.

Did you run across any one you knew?

Fru Heyst.
It would have been better had I not !



69



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.
Then I know whom —

Feu Heyst.

Lindquist. And he came straight up to
me —

Elis.

How heartless!

Feu Heyst.

He wanted to know how we were — and

imagine my indignation when he asked if he
might call this evening!

Elis.
On a holy day?

Feu Heyst.
I was speechless! He took my silence as
consent. [Pause.] He may be here at any

moment.

Elis.

Here? Now?

Feu Heyst.
He said that he wanted to leave a paper,
which was of import.

70



EASTER



Elis.
He wants to take the furniture.

Fru Heyst.
But he looked so queer — I couldn't make him
out.

Elis.
Then let him come. He has the law on his
side and we 've got to submit. We must receive
him properly when he comes.

Feu Heyst.
Only let me escape the sight of him !

Elis.
You can stay in your room.

Fku Heyst.

But he can't have the furniture! How
should we manage to exist, if he were to take
everything? One can't live in empty rooms!

Elis.

''The foxes have holes and the birds have
nests — " There are homeless creatures who
live in the forest —

71



EASTER AND STORIES



Fru Heyst,
Knaves should live there — not honest folk!

Elis.

[At writing table.} Mother, I'm reading
now.

Fru Heyst.

Have you found any errors?

Elis.
No ; I don 't believe there are any.

Fru Heyst.

Why, I have only just left the District Attor-
ney, and he said that there might be a technical
error — a disqualified witness, an unproved as-
sertion or a contradiction. You can't be read-
ing carefully —

Elis.

Yes, mother, but it is so painful —

Fru Heyst.

Listen to me! I met the Magistrate a mo-
ment ago — and what I told you is true — then

72



EASTER



lie mentioned a robbery which occurred in
town yesterday, in broad daylight. [Benja-
min and Eleonora give a start.']

Elis.
A robbery? Here in town? — Where?

Fru Heyst.

It is supposed to have happened at the flor-
ist's in Cloister street — but the whole pro-
ceeding was most extraordinary. These are
the facts, presumably: The shopkeeper closed
his place to attend church, where his son — or
daughter perhaps — was to be confirmed.
When he got back, around three o'clock — or
four maybe — but that's unimportant — the shop
door was open, and flowers were missing —
quantities of flowers — a yellow tulip in particu-
lar.

Elis.
A tulip? Had it been a lily, I should be
alarmed.

Fru Heyst.
No, it was a tulip — that's absolutely certain.
Meanwhile, the police are active now —

73



EASTER AND STORIES



[Eleonora has risen — as if about to speak, hut
Benjamin goes up to her and whispers some-
thing.] Fancy, committing a robbery on Holy
Thursday, when the young folks are being con-
firmed! Nothing but scallawags — the whole
community ! That is why they put innocent
people in prison.

Elis.
Is no one suspected?

Feu Heyst.

No. But it was an odd sort of thief, for he
took no money from the cash drawer.

Elis.
Oh, that this day were over !

Feu Heyst.

And if Lina would only come! Oh, I heard
about Peter's dinner yesterday. The Governor


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