Henryk Sienkiewicz.

So Runs the World online

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George. - I am out of breath. Some one is coming. Let us be going.


Drahomir. Then Stella.

Drahomir. - The last evening and the last time. (After a while.) O
Lord, thy will be done!

Stella (enters). - The Doctor told me that you wished to see me.

Drahomir. - Yes, madam. Pray forgive my boldness. A very important
affair calls me home. I come to bid you good-bye.

Stella. - You are going away?

Drahomir. - To day I am going to Swietlenice, to-morrow still further.
(A moment of silence.)

Stella. - Yes, it is necessary.

Drahomir. - Life has flown like a dream - it is time to wake up.

Stella. - Shall we see each other again?

Drahomir. - If God permits it.

Stella. - Then let us shake hands in farewell. I can assure you that
you have a friend in me. Friendship is like an immortal - it is a pale
flower, but does not wither. May God guide you and protect you. The
heart - of a sister - will follow you everywhere. Remember -

Drahomir. - Farewell.

Stella. - Farewell. (She goes toward the door. Then suddenly turns.
With a sob in her voice.) Why do you deceive me? You are going

Drahomir. - Have mercy on me.

Stella. - Are you going away forever?

Drahomir. - Yes, then.

Stella. - I guessed it. But perhaps it is better - for both of us.

Drahomir. - Oh, yes. There are things which cannot be expressed,
although the heart is bursting. A while ago you told me that you will
remember - it will be better for you to forget.

Stella. - I cannot. (She weeps.)

Drahomir (passionately). - Then I love you, my dearest, and that is the
reason why I escape. (He presses her to his breast.)

Stella (awakening). - Oh, God! (She rushes, out.)


Drahomir. Jozwowicz. George.

(George stops with Jozwowicz near the door.)

Drahomir. - Ah, it is you, George.

George. - Do not approach me. I have seen all. You are a villain and a

Drahomir - George!

George. - In order not to soil my hand, I throw in your face our broken
friendship, my trampled happiness, lost faith in God and man, endless
contempt for you and myself.

Drahomir. - Enough.

George. - Do not approach me, because I will lose my self-command
and will sprinkle these walls with your brains. No, I shall not do
that - because I have promised. But I slap your face, you villain. Do
you hear me?

Drahomir (after struggling with himself for a moment). - Such an insult
I swear before God and man I will wash out with blood.

George. - Yes, with blood (pointing to the doctor). Here is the witness
of these words.

Doctor. - At your service, gentlemen.


* * * * *


The same drawing-room.


Jozwowicz enters reading a dispatch.

The result of the ballotting until now: Jozwowicz, 613; Husarski,
604. At ten o'clock: Jozwowicz, 700; Husarski, 700. At 11 o'clock:
Jozwowicz, 814; Husarski, 750. The fight is hot. The final results
will be known at three o'clock. (He consults his watch.)


Jozwowicz. George.

Doctor. - You are here?

George. - You are as afraid of me as of a ghost.

Doctor. - I thought you were elsewhere.

George. - I am going directly from here to fight. I have still an hour.
The duel will take place at Dombrowa, on the Miliszewski's estate - not
far from here.

Doctor. - Too near from here.

George. - Miliszewski insisted. And then you will be here to prevent
the news from being known until as late as possible.

Doctor. - Doctor Krzycki will be with you?

George. - Yes.

Doctor. - Ask him to send me the news at once. I would go with you, but
I must be here.

George. - You are right. If I am killed?

Doctor. - You must not think of that.

George. - There are some people who are cursed from the moment they
are born, and for whom death is the only redemption. I belong to that
class. I have thought everything over quietly. God knows that I am
more afraid of life than of death. There is no issue for me. Suppose I
am not killed - tell me what will become of me, if I kill the man whom
she loves? Tell me! I will live without her, cursed by her. Do you
know that when I think of my situation, and what has happened, I think
some bad spirit has mixed with us and entangled everything so that
only death can disentangle it.

Doctor. - A duel is very often ended by a mere wound.

George. - I insulted Drahomir gravely, and such an insult cannot be
wiped out by a wound. Believe me, one of us must die. But I came to
talk with you about something else.

Doctor. - I am listening to you.

George. - Frankly speaking, as I do not know what will become of me,
and whether in an hour I shall be alive or not, I came to have one
more look at her. Because I love her dearly. Perhaps I was too rough
for her - too stupid - but I loved her. May God punish me if I have not
desired her happiness. As you see me here it is true that at this
moment I pity her the most and feel miserable about her future.
Listen: whether I am killed or not, she cannot be mine. Drahomir
cannot marry her, because he could not marry the woman whose fiancé he
has killed. Of the three of us you alone will remain near her. Take
care of her - guard her. Into your hands I give her, the only treasure
I ever possessed.

Doctor (quietly). - I shall carry out your wishes.

George. - And now - I may be killed. I wish to die like a Christian. If
ever I have offended you, forgive me. (They shake hands. George goes

Doctor (alone). - Yes, of the three of us I alone shall remain near


Jozwowicz. Anton.

Anton (rushing in). - Man, have you become an idiot? When every moment
is valuable, you remain here. The results are uncertain. They have put
up big posters - Husarski's partisans are catching the votes in the
streets. For God's sake come with me. A carriage is waiting for us.

Doctor. - I must remain here. I cannot go under any consideration in
the world. Let be what may.

Anton. - I did not expect such conduct from you. Come and show
yourself, if only for a moment, and the victory is ours. I cannot
speak any more. I am dead tired. Have you become a madman? There - we
have worked for him, and he clings to a petticoat and stays here.

Doctor. - Anton! Even if I should lose there I would not stir one step
from here. I cannot and I will not go.

Anton. - So?

Doctor. - Yes.

Anton. - Do what you please, then. Very well. My congratulations. (He
walks up and down the room; then he puts his hands in his pockets and
stands before Jozwowicz.) What does it mean?

Doctor. - It means that I must remain here. At this moment Drahomir
stands opposite Pretwic with a pistol. If the news of the fight should
come to the princess, she would pay for it with her life.

Anton. - They are fighting!

Doctor. - For life or death. In a moment the news will come who is
killed. (A moment of silence.)

Anton. - Jozwowicz, you have done all this.

Doctor. - Yes, it is I, I crushed those who were in my way, and I shall
act the same always. You have me such as I am.

Anton. - If so, I am no longer in a hurry. Do you know what I am going
to tell you?

Doctor. - You must go for a while. The princess is coming. (He opens
the door of a side room.) Go in there for a moment.


Jozwowicz and Stella.

Stella. - Doctor, what is the matter in this house?

Doctor. - What do you mean, princess?

Stella. - Mr. Pretwic came to tell me good-bye. He was very much
changed and asked me to forgive him if he ever offended me.

Doctor (aside). - A sentimental ass.

Stella. - He said that he might be obliged to go away in a few days. I
have a presentiment that you are hiding something from me. What does
it mean? Do not torture me any longer. I am so miserable that you
should have pity on me.

Doctor. - Do not let anything worry you. What can there be the matter?
An idle fancy, that is all! The care of loving hearts surrounds you.
Why should you have such a wild imagination? You had better return to
your apartment and do not receive any one. I will come to see you in a

Stella. - Then truly there is nothing bad?

Doctor. - What an idea! Pray believe me, I should be able to remove
anything which would threaten your happiness.

Stella (stretching out her hand to him). - Oh, Mr. Jozwowicz, happiness
is a very difficult thing to take hold of. May only the peace not
leave us. (She goes to enter the room in which Anton is.)

Doctor. - This way, princess. Some one is waiting for me in that room.
In a moment I will come to see you. Pray do not receive any one.
Anton! (The princess goes out.)


Anton, Jozwowicz, then a Servant.

Anton. - Here I am. Poor child!

Doctor. - I cannot go for her sake. I must be here and not let the bad
news reach her, for it would kill her.

Anton. - What! and you, knowing this, you still expose her, and
sacrifice her for yourself?

Doctor (passionately). - I love her and I must have her, even if the
walls of this house should crumble around our heads.

Anton. - Man, you are talking nonsense.

Doctor. - Man, you are talking like a nincompoop, and not like a man.
You have plenty of words in your mouth, but you lack strength - you
cannot face facts. Who would dare say: You have no right to defend

Anton (after a while). - Good-bye.

Doctor. - Where are you going?

Anton. - I return to the city.

Doctor. - Are you with me or against me?

Anton. - I am an honest man.

A servant (enters). - A messenger brought this letter from Miliszewski.

Doctor. - Give it to me. Go (tears the envelop and reads) "Pretwic is
dead." (After a while) Ah -

Anton. - Before I go I must answer your question as to why I am going.
I have served you faithfully. I served you like a dog because I
believed in you. You knew how to use me, or perhaps to use me up. I
knew that I was a tool, but I did not care for that, because - But
now -

Doctor. - You give up the public affair?

Anton. - You do not know me. What would I do if I were to give up my
ideas? And then, do you think that you personify public affairs? I
will not give up because I have been deceived by you. But I care about
something else. I was stupid to have cared for you, and I regret now
that I must tell you that you have heaped up the measure and used
badly the strength which is in you. Oh, I know that perhaps it would
be better for me not to tell you this, perhaps to hold with you would
mean a bright future for such a man as I, who have hardly the money to
buy food for my wife and children. But I cannot. Before God, I cannot!
I am a poor man and I shall remain poor, but I must at least have a
clear conscience. Well, I loved you almost as much as I loved my wife
and children, but from to-day you are only a political number - for
friendship you must look to some one else. You know I have no
scruples; a man rubs among the people and he rubs off many things; but
you have heaped up the measure. May I be hanged if I do not prefer to
love the people than pound them! They say that honesty and politics
are two different things. Elsewhere it may be so, but in our country
we must harmonize them. Why should they not go together? I do not give
up our ideas, but I do not care for our friendship because the man who
says he loves humanity, and then pounds the people threateningly on
their heads - that man is a liar; do you understand me?

Doctor. - I shall not insist upon your giving me back your friendship,
but you must listen to me for the last time. If there shall begin for
me an epoch of calamity, it will begin at the moment when such people
as you begin to desert me. The man who was killed was in my way to
happiness - he took everything from me. He came armed with wealth, good
name, social position, and all the invincible arms which birth and
fortune give. With what arms could I fight him? What could I oppose
to such might? Nothing except the arms of a new man - that bit of
intelligence acquired by hard work and effort. He declared a mute war
on me. I have defended myself. With what? With the arms which nature
has given me. When you step on a worm you must not take it amiss if
the worm bites you; he cannot defend himself otherwise. It is the law
of nature. I placed everything on one card, and I won - or rather it
is not I, but intelligence which has conquered. This force - the new
times - have conquered the old centuries. And you take that amiss? What
do you want? I am faithful, to the principle. You are retreating. I am
not! That woman is necessary for my happiness because I love her. I
need her wealth and her social position for my aims. Give me such
weapons and I will accomplish anything. Do you know what an enormous
work and what important aims I have before me? You wish me to tear
down the wall of darkness, prejudice, laziness, you wish me to breathe
new life into that which is dead. I cry: "Give me the means." You do
not have the means, therefore I wish to get them, or I shall perish.
But what now? Across the road to my plans, to my future - not only mine
but everybody's - there stands a lord, a wandering knight, whose whole
merit lies in the fact that he was born with a coat of arms. And have
I not the right to crush him? And you wish me to fall down on my knees
before him? Before his lordship - to give up everything for his sake?
No! You do not know me. Enough of sentiment. A certain force is
necessary and I have it, and I shall make a road for myself and for
all of you even if I should be obliged to trample over a hundred such
as Pretwic.

Anton. - No, Jozwowicz, you have always done as you wanted with me, but
now you cannot do it. As long as there was a question of convictions I
was with you, but you have attacked some principles which are bigger
than either you or I, more stable and immutable. You cannot explain
this to me, and you yourself must be careful. At the slightest
opportunity you will fall down with all your energy as a man. The
force you are attacking is more powerful than you are. Be careful,
because you will lose. One cannot change a principle: straight honesty
is the same always. Do what you please, but be careful. Do you know
that human blood must always be avenged? It is only a law of nature.
You ask me whether I am going to leave you? Perhaps you would like to
be given the right to fire on the people from behind a fence when it
will suit you. No, sir. From to-day there must be kept between us a
strict account. You will be a member of parliament, but if you think
we are going to serve you, and not you us, you are greatly mistaken.
You thought that the steps of the ladder on which you will ascend are
composed of rascals? Hold on! We, who have elected you - we, in whose
probity you do not believe - we will watch you and judge you. If you
are guilty we will crush you. We have elected you; now you must serve.

Doctor (passionately). - Anton!

Anton. - Quiet. In the evening you must appear before the electors.
Good-bye, Mr. Jozwowicz. (He goes out.)

Doctor (alone). - He is the first.


Jozwowicz. Jan Miliszewski.

Jan (appears in the half-open door). - Pst!

Doctor. - Who is there?

Jan. - It is I, Miliszewski. Are you alone?

Doctor. - You may enter. What then?

Jan. - Everything is over. He did not live five minutes. I have ordered
them to carry the body to Miliszewo.

Doctor. - Your mother is not here?

Jan. - I sent her to the city. To-day is election day and mamma does
not know that I have withdrawn, therefore she will wait for the
evening papers in the hope that she will find my name among those

Doctor. - Did no one see?

Jan. - I am afraid they will see the blood. He bled dreadfully.

Doctor. - A strange thing. He was such a good marksman.

Jan. - He permitted himself to be killed. I saw that very plainly. He
did not fire at Drahomir at all. He did not wish to kill Drahomir. Six
steps - it was too near. It was dreadful to look at his death. Truly,
I would have preferred to be killed myself. They had to fire on
command - one! two! three! We heard the shot, but only one. We
rushed - Pretwic advanced two steps, knelt and tried to speak. The
blood flowed from his mouth. Then he took up the pistol and fired to
one side. We were around him and he said to Drahomir: "You have done
me a favor and I thank you. This life belonged to you, because you
saved it. Forgive me," he said, "brother!" Then he said: "Give me
your hand" and expired. (He wipes his forehead with a handkerchief.)
Drahomir threw himself on his breast - it was dreadful. Poor Princess
Stella. What will become of her now?

Doctor. - For God's sake, not a word in her presence. She is ill.

Jan. - I will be silent.

Doctor. - You must control your emotion.

Jan. - I cannot. My knees are trembling.


The same. The prince leaning on Stella's shoulder, and Mrs. Czeska.

Prince. - I thought Pretwic was with you. Jozwowicz, where is Pretwic?

Doctor. - I do not know.

Stella. - Did he tell you where he was going?

Doctor. - I know nothing about it.

Czeska (to Jan). - Count, what is the matter with you? You are so pale.

Jan. - Nothing. It is on account of the heat.

Prince. - Jozwowicz, Pretwic told me -


(The door opens suddenly. Countess Miliszewska rushes in).

Countess. - Jan, where is my Jan? O God, what is the matter? How

Doctor (rushing toward her). - Be silent, madam.

Stella. - What has happened?

Countess. - Then you have not killed Pretwic? You have not fought?

Doctor. - Madam, be silent.

Stella. - Who is killed?

Countess. - Stella, my dearest, Drahomir has killed Pretwic.

Stella. - Killed! O God!

Doctor. - Princess, it is not true.

Stella. - Killed! (She staggers and falls.)

Doctor. - She has fainted. Let us carry her to her chamber.

Prince. - My child!

Czeska. - Stelunia! (The prince and Jozwowicz carry Stella. The
countess and Czeska follow them.)

Jan (alone). - It is dreadful. Who could have expected that mamma
would return! (The countess appears in the door.) Mamma, how is the

Countess. - The doctor is trying to bring her to her senses. Until now
he has not succeeded. Jan, let us be going.

Jan (in despair). - I shall not go. Why did you return from the city?

Countess. - For you. To-day is election day - have you forgotten it?

Jan. - I do not wish to be a member of parliament. Why did you tell her
that Pretwic was killed?


The same. Jozwowicz.

Countess and Jan together. - What news?

Doctor. - Everything is over. (The bell is heard tolling in the chapel
of the château.)

Jan (frightened). - What, the bell of the chapel? Then she is dead!
(Jozwowicz comes to the front of the stage and sits down.)


The same. Podczaski.

Podczaski (rushing in suddenly). - Victory! Victory! The deputation is
here. (Voices behind the stage) Hurrah! Hurrah! for victory!

Jozwowicz. - I have lost!


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Online LibraryHenryk SienkiewiczSo Runs the World → online text (page 9 of 9)