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August Strindberg.

Easter (a play in three acts) and stories from the Swedish of August Strindberg .. online

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afraid to meet the giant. Let him come !

Fru Heyst.

But don't irritate him — Providence has placed
our fate in his hands, ''and the meek" — well,
you know where the proud go !

115



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.

I know — hark ! the galoshes : Vipers, vipers,
vitch ! Does he intend to come in with them —
why not? These are his carpets, and his fur-
niture —

Feu Heyst.
Elis, think of us! [Goes out right.]

Elis.

I do, mother.

[Lindquist enters from door at right of
stage. He is an elderly and serious-loohing
man, ivith a repellent appearance. His hair is
gray. He wears a toupee and close-cropped
side-whiskers. He has on horn-hoived spec-
tacles and on watch chain are hung large charms
of carbuncle. He is dressed in black, with
overcoat on; he holds a high silk hat in his
hand. He wears top boots and leather galoshes
that creak. As he steps into the room, he
stares curiously at Elis, and pauses.']



Lindquist.

Lindquist is my name.

116



EiVSTER



Elis.

[On the defensive.] Herr Heyst is mine.
Please be seated. [Lindquist sits down on
chair to right of sewing table and looks Elis
square in the eye. Pause.]

Elis.
How can I serve you?

Lindquist.

[Pompously.] Hm! — I had the honor last
evening- of intimating my intended visit, but
upon second thought, I deemed it unsuitable to
discuss business matters on a holiday —

Elis.
We are very grateful —

Lindquist.

We are not grateful ! Oh, by the by, [pause]
day before yesterday I made a casual call at the
Governor's. [He pauses to see what sort of im-
pression his last word makes upon Elis.] Do
you know the Governor?



117



EASTER AND STOKIES



Elis.
[Indifferently.] I haven't the honor !

LiNDQUIST.

Then you shall have the honor. We spoke of
your father —

Elis.
I daresay —

LiNDQUIST.

[Takes out a paper which he lays on the
table.] And there I got this paper.

Elis.

I have long been expecting this; but before
we go any further, may I be allowed to ask a
question ?

LiNDQUIST.

[Curtly.] As you please.

Elis.

Why don ^t you place this paper in the Execu-
tors ' hands, then we might at least be spared
this painful and long-drawn-out execution?

*

118



EASTER



LiNDQUIST.

Indeed, young man !

Elis.
Young or not, I ask no cliarity — only justice.

LiNDQUIST.

Ilm! — No cliarity, no charity? Look at that
paper, which I laid at the end of the table —
Now it goes back into my pocket ! Justice, then
— justice only. Listen, old friend ! Once upon
a time I was robbed, robbed of my money in a
most unpleasant manner. Then, when I wrote
you a kind and inoffensive letter asking how
much time you required, you replied unciv-
illy, treating me like a usurer, although I was
the plundered party, while you belonged to the
robber gang. Inasmuch as I was the more sen-
sible, I was obliged to answer your insolent
epithets with a polite, but incisive one. You
know my blue paper — eh 1 I can set seals on it
when I choose — but I do not always choose.
[He glances round about.]



119



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.

If you please, the furniture is at your dis-
posal.

LiNDQUIST.

I wasn 't looking at the furniture ; I wanted to
see if your mother was here. She, presumably,
loves justice as much as you do?

Elis.
I hope so !

LiNDQUIST.

Good! — Do you know that if your highly-
prized justice had had its way, your mother, as
accessory to the crime, would have been felled
by human justice?

Elis.
Oh, no!

LiNDQUIST.

Oh, yes ! and it is not too late yet.

Elis.

My mother !

120



EASTER



LiNDQUIST.

[Takes out another blue paper and lays it on
the table.'] Look! now I lay this paper here,
and it is actually blue — as yet, there are no
seals.

Elis.

Great God! — My mother? All things come
back to you !

LiNDQUIST.

Yes, my young lover of justice, all things
come back to us — all! Suppose I were to put
this question to myself: You, Anders Johann
Lindquist, born in poverty and dragged up amid
privation, and to labor, have you the right in
your old age to deprive yourself and your chil-
dren — mark! your children — of the support
which you by industry, solicitude and self-denial
— mark! self-denial — have saved, penny by
penny? What must you, Anders Johann Lind-
quist, do, if you wish to be just? You plun-
dered no one. But if you think it a bit rough
that you were plundered, you can no longer re-
main in the community, for no one wants to

121



EASTER AND STORIES



receive the pitiless man who asks the return of
his own. You see, then, that there is a charity
which is contrary to justice and above it —
namely, mercy.

Elis.
You are right, take all! It's yours.

LiNDQUIST.

I have the right, but dare not use it.

Elis.

I shall think of your children, and not mur-
mur.

LiNDQUIST.

Good ! Then we'll put the blue paper away. —
Now we will go a step farther.

Elis.

Pardon me, but do they really intend to prose-
cute my mother 1

LiNDQUIST.

We'll go a step beyond that first. So you do
not know the Governor personally?

122



EASTER



Elis.
No, and I don't care to know him!

LiNDQUIST.

[Takes out the paper again and waves it.]
Not so fast, not so fast! The Governor, you
see, was a friend of your father's in his youth,
and he wants to become acquainted with you.
All things come back to you, all things. Won't
you call on the Governor?

Elis.
No!

LiNDQUIST.

The Governor —

Elis.
Let us change the subject.

LiNDQUIST.

You must be civil to me, young man, for I
am defenseless, since you have public sympathy
on your side and I have only justice. What
have you against the Governor? He doesn't
take kindly to cycling and Folk-High-Schools —

123



EASTER AND STORIES



these are some of his little idiosyncrasies. We
need not exactly respect the idiosyncrasies, but
we can pass them by — pass them by and confine
ourselves to the main points, as man to man.
In the larger issues of life, we must take each
other, with faults and weaknesses, swallow each
other, hide and hair. — Go to the Governor !

Elis.
Never !

LiNDQUIST.

Is that the kind of man vou are?

Elis.
[^Conclusively.'] Yes, that kind!

LlXDQUIST.

[Rises and begins to pace the foor.] That's
worse and worse! I shall begin at the other
end. A revengeful person proposes to conduct
the suit against your mother. You can prevent
it.

Elis.
How?

124



EASTER



LlNDQUIST.

Go to the Governor.

Elis.
No!

LiNDQUIST.

[Stepping up to Elis and taking him hy the
shoulders.] Then you are the most contempti-
ble human being I ever met in my life! And
now I shall go to your mother myself.

Elis.
Don't!

LiNDQUIST.

Will you call on the Governor, then?

Elis.
Yes.

LiNDQUIST.

Say it again — and louder!

Elis.
Yes!



125



EASTER AND STORIES



LiNDQUIST.

Now that point is clear. [Presenting blue
paper.] There's the document. [Elis accepts
the paper without glancing at it.] Now we
come to point number two, which was really
number one. — Shall we be seated? {They seat
themselves as before.] See! If we only meet
half way, we can cover the ground in no time.
Number two : This is my claim on your home.
— Oh, no illusions! for I neither can nor wish
to give away my family's common property. I
shall exact the last copper of my claim.

Elis.
I understand that.

LiNDQUIST.

[Sharply.] Oh, you understand that, do
you?

Elis.

I meant no offense.

LiNDQUIST.

I apprehend. [He pushes back spectacles
and looks hard at Elis.] "Mad wolf" —

126



EASTER



"Browbeater" — "The giant in the Skinnervik
Mountains, who does not eat children — only
frightens them. " I 'II frighten you till you are
clean out of your senses! I'll have the worth
of every stick of furniture — I have the inven-
tory in my pocket, and if one peg is missing,
you go to jail, young man! Oh, I can devour
women and children when I'm provoked, as for
public sentiment — bah! — I'll simply move to
another town. [Elis is nonplussed.] You had
a friend named Peter, Peter Holmblad. He
was an orator and a linguist; but you wanted
to turn him into some kind of oracle. Well, he
was faithless — twice the cock crew. — Am I
right? [Elis is silent.] Human nature is un-
reliable — like matter and our thoughts. Peter
was faithless, I don't dispute that, nor do I de-
fend him on that score. But the human heart
is fathomless, and gold and dross are inter-
mingled there. Peter was a faithless friend,
but a friend nevertheless.

Elis.
A treacherous —

127



EASTEE AND STORIES



LiNDQUIST.

Treacherous, perhaps, but a friend all the
same. This treacherous friend has unwittingly
rendered you a great service.

Elis.
This also !

LiNDQUIST.

[Moving closer to Elis.} All things come
back to us — all !

Elis.

■ All the evil, yes ; and the good is recompensed
with evil.

LiNDQUIST.

Not always. The good also comes back to us,
believe me!

Elis.

I must, I daresay, or you will torture the life
out of me.



128



EASTER



LiNDQUIST,

Not life — but pride and hatred I shall squeeze
out of you !

Elis.
Continue —

LiNDQUIST.

Peter has done you a service, I said.

Elis.
I don't care to accept favors from that man.

LiNDQUIST.

Are we there again! Hear this: Through
the mediations of your friend Peter, the Gov-
ernor was persuaded to intercede in your
mother's behalf; therefore you must write a
letter to Peter and thank him. Promise ?

Elis.

No. To any one else in the world, but not to

him !



129



EASTER AND STORIES



LiNDQUIST.

[Drawing closer.] I shall have to squeeze
you again, then. — You have money deposited in
the bank.

Elis.

How does that concern youf I'm not liable
for my father's debts.

LiNDQUIST,

You're not! — No? Were you not feasting
with the others when my children's money was
being squandered in this house? Answer!

Elis.
I cannot deny it.

LiNDQUIST.

And, seeing that the furniture does not cover
the debt in full, you will at once make out a
check for the balance. — You know the sum.

Elis.
[Baffled] This too!



130



EASTER



LiNDQUIST.

This too. — Be good enough to write! [Elis
takes out a check-book and goes over to the writ-
ing tahle.l

Make it payable to person or bearer.

Elis.
This will not cover the amount due.

LiNDQUIST.

Then you can go out and borrow the rest.
Every penny must be paid !

Elis.

[Handing check to Liudquist.] There. It is
all I possess — mj^ summer and my bride!
More I cannot give you.

LiNDQUIST.

Then you must borrow, I said.

Elis.
ImiDossible !

LiNDQUIST.

Then you will have to find security.

131



EASTEE AND STOEIES



Elis.

There is no one who cares to become surety
for a Heyst,

LiNDQUIST.

As ultimatum, I shall present two alter-
natives: Thank Peter, or out with whole sum.

Elis.
I don't wish to have any dealings with Peter.

LlNDQUIST.

Then you are the meanest person I know.
By an act of common politeness, you can save
your mother's home and your fiancee's compe-
tence, and vou won 't do it. There must he some
motive back of this which you don't reveal —
Why do you hate Peter I

Elis.
Kill me, but don't torture me any longer !

LiNDQTJIST.

You are jealous of him.
[Elis shrugs Ms shoulders.]
Thus the case stands. [Lindquist rises and

132



EASTER



ivalks up and down.] Have you read the morn-
ing paper?

Elis.
Yes, unhappily!

LiNDQUIST.

The whole paper?

Elis.
No, not all of it.

LlNDQUIST.

Then you don't know that Peter is engaged?

Elis.
I didn't know it.

LiNDQUIST.

Nor to whom? — Guess!

Elis.
How —

LiNDQUIST.

He is engaged to Miss Alice; it was arranged
yesterday at a certain concert, where your be-
trothed consented to act as intermediary.

133



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis.
Wliy so secret?

LiNDQUIST.

Haven't two young persons the right to keep
their heart secrets from you?

Elis.

And for their happiness I must suffer these
pangs ?

LiNDQUIST.

Certainly. Others have suffered to bring you
happiness — your mother; your father; your
sweetheart; your sister — sit down, and I'll tell
you a story. — It's very short. [Elis seats him-
self reluctantly.] It happened about forty
years ago. Wlien a youth, I came to the Capi-
tol — alone, unknown and inexperienced — to
seek employment. I had only one riksdaler to
my name. The night was dark, and as I knew
of no cheap hotel, I questioned passers-by.
None replied. Wlien I was in the depths, a
man stepped up to me and asked why I was
weeping — I wept, evidently. I told him my

134



EASTER



straits. He turned out of his way, accom-
panied me to a hotel, and comforted me with
cheering words. As I stepped into a passage-
way, the glass door of a shop swung open;
it caught my elbow — and the glass was broken.
The rowdy shopkeeper held me responsible
and demanded payment, otherwise he would
call the police, he said. Imagine my dis-
tress with a night on the street in prospect!
The kind-hearted stranger, who had witnessed
the performance, took the trouble to call an
officer, and rescued me. This man was your
father. Thus, everything comes back to us —
even the good. And, for your father's sake, I
have wiped out the debt. Accept this paper and
keep the check. [Rising.] As it is hard for
you to say thanks, I'll go at once as I find it
rather painful to be thanked. [Going toward
centre door.] Instead, go immediately to your
mother and relieve her anxiety. [Elis rushes
off, right.]

[Centre door opens; Eleonora and Benjamin
come on. They are calm, hut serious.
They stop, terrified, when they see Lind-
quist.] Well, well, youngsters, step along

135



EASTER AND STORIES



and don't be frightened! Do you know
who I am? [In assumed voice.] I am
the giant in the Skinnervik Mountains,
who frightens children — Boo, boo! But
I'm not so dangerous! Come here, Eleo-
nora! [He takes her head between his
hands and looks into her eyes.] You have
your father's good eyes ; and he was a good
man — but weak. [Kissing her on the fore-
head.] There!

Eleonoka.

Oh, he speaks well of father! Can any one
think well of him?

LiNDQUIST.

I can — ask brother Elis !

Eleonora.
Then you cannot wish us any harm.

LiNDQUIST.

No, you precious child!



136



EASTER



Eleonora.
Help us, then!

LiNDQUIST.

Child, I cannot help your father escape his
punishment, nor help Benjamin out of his fail-
ure to pass in Latin, but the other matter is al-
ready helped. Life doesn't give everything —
and nothing gratis; therefore you must help
me, "Will you?

Eleonora.
Poor me ! What can I do ?

LiNDQUIST.

WHiat date is this I Look and see.

Eleonora.

[Taking down date calendar.'] It is the six-
teenth.

LiNDQUIST.

Good! Before the twentieth you shall have
made brother Elis call on the Governor and
write a letter to Peter.



137



EASTER AND STORIES



Eleonoka.
Is that all?

LiNDQUIST.

Oh, yon child! But if he fails to do so, the
giant will come and say boo !

Eleonora.
Why must the giant come and frighten the
children ?

LiNDQUIST.

So the children will be good.

Eleonora.
True — and the giant is right. [Kissing his
sleeve.] Thank you, good giant !

Benjamin,
You should say Herr Lindquist. — Oh, I know
who he is !

Eleonora.
No, that is so usual —

Lindquist.
Good-by to you, children. Now you may
cast the birch rod on the fire.

138



EASTER



Eleonoka.

No, it must remain where it is, for the chil-
dren are so forgetful.

LlNDQUIST.

How well you know the children, little one !
{He goes.]

Eleonoea.

Now we can go to the country, Benjamin — in
two months ! Oh, if they would only go fast !
[She tears leaflets from date calendar and scat-
ters them in the stream of sunshine, ivhich
comes pouring into the room.] See, how the
days fly! April — May — June — and the sun
shines on all of them. — Look! Now you must
thank God, who helped us so that we can get to
the country.

Benjamin.

[Timidly.] May I say it silently?

Eleonoka.

Yes, you may say it silently, for now the

clouds have passed, and it can be heard up there.

[Christina has come on from left and paused;

139



EASTER AND STORIES



Elis and Fru Heyst enter from right; Ells
and Christina, with pleasant mien, walk
toivard each other, hut curtain falls before
they meet.'\



Curtain.



140



MIDSUMMERTIDE



MIDSUMMERTIDE

At midsumiuertide, when the earth stands a
bride in the Northland; when the ground re-
joices; when the rivnlets run; when the flowers
in the meadow stand erect and the birds sing,
then it was that the dove came from the forest
and perched outside the hut where the great-
grandmother of ninety was bedridden.

The old woman had lain abed for twenty
years, and she could see through the window all
that happened on the little plot of ground which
her two sons cultivated. But she saw the world
and the people in her own peculiar way, for the
window-panes were set in all the colors of the
rainbow. She only had to turn her head a little
on the pillow, and everything was seen in suc-
cession in red, yellow, green, blue and lavender.
Thus on a winter's day, when the trees were
dressed in hoar-frost, as if they bore silver
leaves, she turned on her pillow and the trees
became green ; it was summer, and the field be-

143



EASTEE AND STOKIES



came yellow, the sky, blue, even if it was actually
gray. In tliis way she fancied that she could
conjure, and she never found the time dull. But
the bewitched panes had still another gift, for
they were carved, so that they showed what was
outside — sometimes magnified, sometimes di-
minished.

Thus, when her big son came home cross,
and stormed out in the yard, then the mother
wished him little and good again, and immedi-
ately she saw him ever so little. Or, when the
great-grandchildren came toddling along out
there, and she thought of their future, then —
one, two, three — they appeared in the magnify-
ing glass, and she saw them as tall, full-grown
people — perfect giants!

But when summer came, she let them open
the window; for anything as pretty as it was
out there, the panes could not show her. And
now, on Midsummer's Eve, when it was the verj^
prettiest, she lay gazing toward the field and
the pasture. Then the dove struck up her
song. She sang so sweetly of Christ Jesus and
of Heaven's joy and bliss, and she bade all be

144



MIDSUMMERTIDE



welcome, who were heavy laden and had had
enough of this life's hardships.

The old woman heard, but she declined with
many thanks, for the earth to-day was as beau-
tiful as Heaven itself and, for herself, she
wished nothing better than this.

Then the dove flew across the meadow up to
the mountain-grove, where the farmer stood
and dug him a well. He stood deep down,
where the ground was six feet above his head,
exactly as if he were in his grave.

The dove perched on a branch and cooed
about the joys of Heaven, certain that the man
down m the earth, who saw neither sky, sea,
nor meadow, would long to be up there.

"No," said the farmer, ''I must first dig a
well, or my summer guest will get no water, and
then the unhappy little lady and her child will
leave. ' '

The dove flew down to the strand, where the
farmer's brother was dragging up nets, and
sat down in the reeds, to sing.

"No," said the farmer's brother, "I must
provide food for the household, or the children

145



EASTEE AND STOEIES



will cry with hunger. Later on, later on!
There's time enough for Heaven! Life first,
then death."

The dove flew up to the big cottage, where the
unhappy little lady spent her summers. She
was sitting on the veranda sewing with a hand-
machine. AVliite as a lily was her face under
the red felt hat, which, like a poppy, nestled on
her black hair — black as a mourning veil ! She
was stitching a pretty pinafore for the little
one, to be worn on Midsummer's Eve; and the
child sat on the floor at her feet and cut into
bits strips of cloth that had been given her.

"Why doesn't papa come home?" asked the
little one.

This was just the hard question, which the
young mother herself could not answer, and
certainly not the father, either, who in a strange
land nursed his grief, which was even greater
than the mother's.

The sewing machine worked badly, but it
stitched and stitched — as many needle pricks as
a human heart can stand before it bleeds to
death, and every stitch bound the thread tighter,
tighter — how strange!

146



MIDSUMMERTIDE



"I want to go to the village to-day, mamma,"
said the little one. "And I want to see the sun,
for it is so dark here ! ' '

"You shall go to the sun this afternoon, my
child."

It was certainly dark between the high cliffs
on this shore of the island, and the cottage stood
in amongst shadowy pines, which hid the view —
even of the sea.

"And then I want you to buy lots of play-
things for me, mamma. ' '

' ' Child, we have so little to buy with ! ' ' replied
the mother, her head bending lower and lower.
And this was the truth, for affluence had been
turned into penury.

But now, when she saw the child's mournful
expression, she took her in her lap.

"Put your arms around mamma's neck!"
said she.

The little one did so.

' ' Give mamma a kiss ! ' '

And she got one from a little half-open
mouth, like a birdling's. And when the mother
won a glance from those eyes — blue as hya-
cinths — her beautiful face reflected the child's

147



EASTER AND STORIES



care-free innocence, and she herself looked like
a little child in the sunlight.

' ' Here I shall not sing of the Heavenly King-
dom," thought the dove. ''But if I can serve
them, I will."

And then she flew to the sun-village, where
she had work to perform.

Now it was afternoon. The little lady took
her basket on her arm and the child by the hand,
to go. She had never been in the village, but
she knew that it lay in the direction of the sun-
set, on the other side of the island, and the
farmer had told her that there were six fenced-
in farms and six gates before you got there.

And so they went.

First they came to a steep path, with stones
and tree-stumps, so the little one had to be car-
ried ; and that was heavy enough !

The doctor had forbidden the child to strain
her left foot, for it was so frail that it might
easily grow crooked.

The young mother sank under the precious
burden, and the sweat-drops trickled down her
face, for it was warm in the forest.

148



MIDSUMMERTIDE



"I'm so thirsty, mamma!" wailed the little
girl.

"Darling child, try to be patient and you
shall have water as soon as we are there."

She kissed the little one's dry baby lips, and
then the child smiled, forgetting her thirst.

But the sun burned and the air did not stir
in the forest.

"Now you must try and walk a little," said
the mother, putting the child down.

"I'm so tired, mamma!" moaned the little
one, and sat down to cry.

But on the ground grew the prettiest little
rose-red flowers, that exhaled a scent of almond.
The child had never before seen such tiny flow-
ers, and she smiled again so that the mother
grew strong in spirit and could continue the
journey, with the child on her arm.

Now they had reached the first gate and they
walked through it, taking pains to latch it again.

Then was heard a cry, like a loud whinnying,
and a runaway horse dashed forward ; he stood
in the middle of the road and neighed. And his
neighing was answered in the forest, right and

149



EASTEE AND STORIES



left, and all around; and the ground trembled,
and the branches shook, and the stones flew.
The two forlorn human beings stood there, in
the midst of a score of wild horses.

The child hid her face on her mother's breast
and her little heart ticked, like a watch, with
anguish.

"I'm so frightened!" she whispered.

"0 God in Heaven — help us!" prayed the
mother.

Then a sun scoter's song was heard in the
pines, and see! that instant the horses ran off
in different directions, and all was quiet again.
Then they passed through the second gate and
fastened the hasp.

Beyond lay a fallow field, where the sun
burned even hotter than in the forest. The
earth-clods lay in long gray rows, but, suddenly
they saw the clods move, and they were the
backs of a flock of sheep.

Sheep are good animals, particularly the
lambs, but the ram is not to be played with, for
he is a mischievous beast who willingly attacks
those who have done him no harm. And now
he came to the middle of the road, jumping the


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