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the word above the spirit, would in the end usher in an
art that had profited by and learned to avoid both extremes.
There was little surprise when the Royal Schiller prize,
which had not been awarded for some years, was in 1908
divided between Karl Schonherr* for his play Erde and
Ernst Hardt for Tristram the Jester. For Schonherr, the
Tyrolese, had drawn his inspiration from the source which
ever Antasus-like renews the strength of humanity, and
Hardt had drawn upon the rich source of racial lore. But
when a jury consisting of men like Dr. Jacob Minor, Dr.
Paul Schlenther, Hermann Sudermann, Carl Hauptmann
and others within a few weeks after that contest awarded
the popular Schiller prize also to Hardt and for the same
play, Avith a competitor like Hofmannsthal in the race, it
seemed safe to argue that this unanimity indicated a turn
of the tide. Both -Schonherr and Hardt stand for that
sane eclecticism which seems destined to pilot German
drama out of the contrary currents to which it has long
been a prey toward a type more in harmony with the classi-
cal ideal.

Though comparatively unknown when he issued as victor
from those contests and suddenly obtained a measure of
celebrity, Hardt was by no means a novice in the world of
letters. The first book bearing his name, Priests of
Death (1898), contained some stories of an epic dignity and
a dramatic rhythm that challenged attention and secured
interest for the works that followed. These were another
volume of fiction, one of poetry, some plays and a number of
translations from Taine, Flaubert, Balzac, and other



♦For Schonherr. comnare Vol. XVI, pp. 410-479.



THE CONTEMPORARY GERMAN DRAMA 109

French writers, which are remarkable specimens of his
ability to grasp the spirit of a foreign world and to convey
its essence through the medium of his native tongue. It
seems natural that his familiarity with French literature
had some influence upon the character of his prize drama,
since he had chosen for its topic a story belonging alike to
German and Gallic lore. To re-create the story of Tristan
and Isolde upon the foundation of the German source would
have challenged comparison not only with the cherished
epic of Master Gottfried of Strassburg, but also with the
music-drama of Richard Wagner, who had treated it with
something like finality, — at least for the present gener-
ation. By going back to the old French legend and to
J. Bedier's book Le ro7nan de Tristan et Yseult (1900),
the author was able to present that most tragic of all love-
stories from a different angle. By complicating the plot
through the introduction of the second Isolde, jealousy
became the secondary, though hardly less powerful theme.
This deviation from the comparatively simple plot of the
German story is of course more difficult of comprehension
upon the stage. It is not easy to convince an audience that
jealousy of Isolde White-hand, whom Tristan had married
after being banished from Cornwall, blinds Isolde Blond-
hair into refusing to recognize him when he returns
and pleads his case before her in the disguise of Tristram
the Jester. Cavilling critics were quick to discover and to
expatiate upon this weakness of the play. But the fine
lines upon which it is built and the plastic figures standing
out against the medieval background, the glowing color,
radiant lights and brooding shadows of its atmosphere, and
lastly, the language, the verse-form admirably adapted to
the subject, — all this together makes of the drama a work
coming very near that perfect balance of contents and
form which is the ideal of art.

It is a rather circuitous path which German drama has
traveled since the memorable performance of Gerhart



110 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Hauptmann's play Before Sunrise in 1889. It has out-
grown the one-sided naturalism which had seemed the only
medium of translating life directly into literature. It has
turned aside from the orphic symbolism and verbal artistry
rooted only in literature and having nothing in common
with life. Men like Karl Schonherr, Carl Hauptmann, and
others have found in the native soil and its people and in
the problems that confront that people at all times as rich
a source of thematic material as previous generations of
poets had found in the historic past. Men like Ernst Hardt
and others have infused new life into the old legends of
racial lore. As German drama is completing this cycle of
its development it gives hopeful evidence of returning to
the safe middle course of normal grow^th toward a new
type, indigenous to the soil and the soul of the country.



MAX HALBE



MOTHER EARTH

DRAMATIS PERSONS

Paul Wabkentin, publisher of a feminist journal

Hella Warkejvtin-Beenhardy, his icife

Db. von Glyszinski

Heliodor von Laskowski, ouncr of the estate Klonowken

Antoinette, his wife

Aunt Clara

von Tiedemann, estate owner

Mrs. voin Tiedemann

Raabe, Senior, estate owner

Schnaase, estate owner

Mrs. Schnaase

Raabe, Junior, student

Dr. Bodenstein, physician

Mertens, manager of a factory

Josupeit, rentier

Mrs. Borowski, widow of a teacher

Kunze, organist

ScHROCK, licentiate

ZiNDEL, inspector

Lene, chambermaid

Fritz, coachman

Time: The present. Place: Estate Ellernhof.

[Ill]



MOTHER EARTH (1897)

A Drama in Five Acts

TRANSLATED BY PAUL H. GRUMMANN, A.M.
Professor of ]\Todern German Literature, University of Nebraska



ACT I

Ancient hall of the manor. Broad and spacious. Low ceiling. In the
rear icall, ioivard the garden^ the bare trees of which are visible, three
wide windows with white crossbars. Chair at both ends of each window.
A folding card table between the chairs of the middle window. An
Empire commode in each space between the tvindows. In the centre of
the two lateral loalls. folding doors, the one at the left leading into
another room, the one at the right into the vestibide. On the left, in the
foreground, a sofa which is well preserved and gives evidence of former
elegance, and similar chairs with stiff backs and light variegated covers,
grouped around a large oval table. Opposite this in the foreground at
the right, an old-fashioned fireplace, before which three similar chairs
are placed. In the backgrozmd at the right, near the window, a spinet
with a chair before it. In the corresponding place on the left near the
windou) a tall, gilt framed mirror resting on a cabinet base. An old
fashioned chandelier, ornate with gilt and glass, is suspended in the
centre of the hall. A number of pictures, men and women in the fash-
ions of the last one hundred years, cover the walls. Painted board
floor. liiigs only before sofa and spinet. Furniture in light mahogany.
Wall paper of gilt design. Solid, but faded finery of the twenties and
thirties of the nineteenth century with a few more recent additions. The
general character of the hall is bright and inviting, nevertheless serious
and someichat shut in by the low ceiling, giving the large room an air
of emptiness, for the scant furniture along the walls seems to be lost.
A mixture of a dancing hall and an ancestral portrait gallery. At
present it looks gloojmy, almost spectral. It is an early morning near
the end of December. As yet not a ray of sunlight comes in through
the heart-shaped apertures of the shutters, xvhich are hung on the out-
side and are fastened on the inside by means of thumbscrews. A lamp
stands at the extreme end of the room on one of the commodes. Beyond

[112]




MOTHER EAETH 113

its radius deep shadows gather on every side. In the foreground logs
are burning brightly in the fireplace. An indistinct light falls past the
chairs over the foreground. From the other side, the light of a candle
falls upon the sofa table which is covered with a white cloth. It also
illumines only the immediate vicinity. Dusk predominates in the
spacious hall. At every passing and repassing great shadows flit back
and forth.

Aunt Clara stands on a chair under the chandelier and slowly revolves
it, scrutinizing it, and causing the glass prisms to tinkle.

Inspector Zindel. in a fur coat and cap stands at the door on the right
and is about ro qo out.



UNT CLARA {with a heavy gray cloth wrapped
about her head, speaks down from the chair).
Yes, just go and see, Zindel, whether they are
coming; see whether you can hear anything.
Inspector Zindel. Just so, Miss. I shall
be back right off. (He opens the door and runs into
Lene, who is about to enter ivith a tray full of dishes
for the morning coffee.) Whoa! Look out! Don't
knock anything over! {Partly to himself.) Or the
old man will play us the trick and wake up again. {He
goes out, and closes the door behind him.)
Aunt Clara {speaking doivn from the chair). Is it you,

Lene?
Lene {has come forivard with the dishes, shrinks so that
the tray and dishes clatter). Heavens and all the
saints! Why, I didn't see you at all, Miss! Why, I
was so frightened! {She draws several deep breaths,
places the tray beside the candle on the white cloth of
the sofa table, and begins to arrange the cups.)
Aunt Clara {as before). Why in the world are you fright-
ened? You see, don't you, that I am attending to the
chandelier, am doing your work again?
Lene {busy at the table). Expect a person not to get
scared, when all of a sudden a voice like that comes out
of the dark, when, on top of it all, a dead man's in the
Vol. XX— 8



114 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

house. As a rule I'm not afraid, but I won't dare to
go to the back part of the house alone any more, it's
just as if Mr. Warkentin would turn up right before
you.

Aunt Clara. Stuff and nonsense, I suppose you kept the
candle burning the whole night in your room again?
I am likely to come and get your candle one of these
days.

Lene. Why Miss Clara is af eared herself. She won't go
a step without a light. Ain't it true, Miss Clara,
you're a little af eared too. You only w^on't let on.

Aunt Clara. I shall af ear your back before long ! I have
closed the eyes of many in my day. That's nothing
new to me.

Lene (interested). But all of a sudden, like Mr. War-
kentin 1

Aunt Clara. When they get to be about seventy, one
knows how it goes, old widower Fritz in Kobieken
went that way too. Fell over and w^as gone, it's the
best kind of a death. That comes just as it comes.
. . . Have you arranged the cups?

Lene. Everything in order. (Counting.) The young
master, the lady (correcting herself), no, the lady on
the sofa and the young master here (points to a chair),
Miss Clara here and the fourth cup ... I suppose
some one else is coming with the young master?

Aunt Clara. Yes, and don't ask so many questions!
Come here and hold the light, I want to light the
chandelier.

Lene (comes with the candle). Light the chandelier?
Why, it's almost daytime.

Aunt Clara. Do as I say. When the young master
arrives, it will still be dark.

Lene (hands the candle up to her). Wonder whether the
young master '11 stay long?

Aunt Clara (has lighted the lights of the chandelier, one
after another). Wait and see. (About to get down.)



MOTHER EARTH 115

Lene {extends her hand to her). Now don't you fall, Miss!

Aunt Clara (gets down from the chair carefully). Now
then! , . , One does realize, after all, that the years
are coming on! When I was of your age, I jumped
from the straw stack. You girls of today! you have
no sap, no vim ! A girl as strong as a bear, and afraid
of going to pieces.

Lene (admiring the chandelier) . Oh my, but now it's beau-
tiful, Miss Clara! The young master will be pleased
when he comes.

[Aunt Claea stands before the chandelier ivith
folded hands, engrossed in thought. The hall is
now brightly illumined. Only the remotest cor-
ners remain in a shadow.]

Inspector Zindel {comes in again from the right with a
lighted lantern, stops in astonishment). The deuce,
Miss Clara! You're up to the business. I do say,
the world must come to an end, in grand style ! {He
puts doivn the lantern beside the fireplace.)

Lene. Anything else to do, Miss?

Aunt Clara {absent-minded). You may go now. If I
need you I'll call.

Lene {departing). All right. Miss, the water's been put
on for the coffee. {Goes off to the right.)

Inspector Zindel. I was out on the road. Miss. Not a
sound yet.

Aunt Clara {starts from her dreams and points to the
chandelier). For ten years it has not been lighted,
Zindel ! Ever since Paul has been gone !

Inspector Zindel {approaching from the fireplace, mys-
teriously). Do you know, Miss Clara?

Aunt Clara {with a start). Goodness! . . . What is it?

Inspector Zindel. I say, Miss Clara? You'll put in a
good word for me with the young master? A fellow
does want to know where he's at.

Aunt Clara. Yes, yes. {Listens toivard the outside.)



116 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Inspector Zindel. Especially now that tlie old master is

dead, and the young master doesn 't know about things,

all of the work is on a fellow's shoulders, you see.
Aunt Clara {still listening). Don't you hear something,

Zindel? It seems to me?
Inspector Zindel {is startled and listens also). Where,

pray tell? . . . [Brief silence.^

Aunt Clara {talcing her hand from her ear). No, nothing.

It only seemed to me. . . .
Inspector Zindel. Heavens, Miss Clara! . . . Where

was it — ? {He walks up and down restlessly.)
Aunt Clara {has sat dotvn in a chair at tn,^ oable before

the sofa). Now they ma}^ be here at any time. AAHiat

time is it, Zindel?
Inspector Zindel. Almost seven. Miss. The Berlin traia

arrives at ten minutes after six.
Aunt Clara. You were outside, Zindel, weren't you;

didn't you hear a carriage on the road?
Inspector Zindel {tvarms his hands at the fireplace). The

wind's from the other way, Miss. One can hear

nothing. And it's cold as the deuce! They'll be nice

and cold on the way.
Aunt Clara. I do not know how it comes, but the day

seems unwilling to break this morning. How does it

look outside?
Inspector Zindel. Dark, pitch dark. Not a star, nothing.

Only over toward the Sobbowitz woods, it's beginning

to dawTi a bit.
Aunt Clara {yawning). Of course, that's where the sua

must rise.
Inspector Zindel {also yawning). We'll not get much of

a peep at it today. It's going to be a gloomy day.
Aunt Clara. Possibly it will snow.
Inspector Zindel. May be, why it's time. Christmas

without snow, I can't remember such a thing for the

last few years.
Aunt Clara. No night has ever turned out as long as

the present one for me. I haven't closed an eye. I



MOTHER EARTH 117

heard the clock strike every time. And all the things

that I saw and heard !
Inspector Zindel. {approaching again). Don't tell it, Miss !
Aunt Clara. I continually saw the dead man, but he was

alive and opened the door and came toward me. And

yet I knew he was dead. And when I was about to

scream, the clock struck and all was gone..

{^Outside a clock strikes. It has the silvery sound
of old chimes. Both are startled.']
Inspector Zindel. Thunderation ! You can put it over

a fellow. {He goes hack to the fireplace.)
Aunt Clara {counts the strokes, first in an undertone, then

louder, and meanwhile rises). Five . . . six . . .

seven ... It has struck seven, Zindel. They will

surely be here any moment. {She listens again.) 1

believe I hear something now.
Inspector Zindel {at the fireplace, seizes the lantern).

Here they are. You can hear the carriage on the road.
Aunt Clara {busily). After all they came sooner than we

expected ! Hurry, Zindel, they are driving up now.
Inspector Zindel {already at the door on the right, swing-
ing the lantern). This minute, Miss Clara . . .!

[Goes off.]
Aunt Clara {also on the ivay to the door, stops a moment

and folds her hands). If he really is here, praise and

thanks to God !
Lene {appears in the door at the right). They are coming,

Miss Clara, they are coming!
Aunt Clara {busy again). Why are you still there? Out

with you and help the guests take oif their wraps!
Lene. Why, I'm doing that very thing, Miss!

[Goes off.]
Aunt Clara {calling after her). And keep the coffee in

readiness, when I ring.

[She also goes out at the right, leaves the door
slightly open behind her. Voices are heard out-
side. Brief silence. Then the door is opened



118 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

wide. Paul, Hella, von Glyszinski, Aunt Clara
appear in the door. Paul has taken off his coat
and hat outside. Hella wears a fur coat and
toque. Glyszinski wears a hat and heavy winter
overcoat, turned up over his ears.']

Glyszinskl Well, if it's all right with you, I prefer to go
to my room for the present.

Paul. As you please. Aunt Clara will show you the way
upstairs. Won't you, Auntie?

Aunt Clara. Yes, I'll be glad to shov, the gentleman up.

Paul (smiling). Or aren't the guest-rooms upstairs any
more?

Aunt Clara (reproachfully). Why, my boy, we should
certainly not think of changing the rooms around.
They are very satisfactory and then they've been there
so long.

Paul (as before). Why, of course. They have been there
so long!

Glyszinski. Shall we go?

Aunt Claea (places her hand on Paul's shoulder). You
will find, Paul, everything here is pretty much as of
old. Just make yourself comfortable! I shall be
back directly. (To Glyszinski.) Please, will you come
this way? (She points toward the outside. The two
go out. The door is closed behind them.)

Paul (who, until noiv, has not faced the hall, remains stand-
ing in astonishment). Well, the chandelier in full
splendor. (Meditating.) The old chandelier. Heavens,
how sacred it was to me when I was a boy. It was fine
of Aunt Clara to light the chandelier.

Hella (meanwhile has slowly walked through the hall,
scrutinizing various things, sits down on the arm of
a chair near the sofa, still wearing her cloak and toque
and keeping her muff in her hand as if she were on the
point of departing again at once. She smiles a trifle
sarcastically). Yes, for a bright morning, the chan-
delier suggests this, that and what not.



MOTHEE EARTH 119

Paul {fixing his eyes upon her calmly). To me the morn-
ing seemed pretty dark, as we were riding along.

Didn't it to you?
Hella. Oh yes, you are right. It was even disagreeably

dark. I kept on fearing we should fall into the ditch.

I don't like to ride in a strange region by night.

[Brief silence.l
Paul {facing Hella, shaking his head). I do not see what

objections you can have to the chandelier.
Hella {meeting his eye calmly). None whatever, Paul.
Paul. Aunt Clara's intentions were certainly good. One

does realize that one was expected. {He turns away

and takes several steps through the hall.)
Hella. But you know that I do not like such occasions.

That is simply my disposition. I cannot make myself

over.
Paul. I certainly do not demand that. {Turns on his heel

and approaches again.) Or have I not always allowed

you to have your own way!
Hella {also compromising). Certainly, certainly, up to

the present we have agreed on this point.
Paul. And shall continue in the future. {He extends his

right hand to Hella.)
Hella {grasps his hand and looks into his face squarely).

I am true to my old self, Paul, remain so too.
Paul. Simply because each one of us has freely gone his

own way, nothing has been able to separate us. That

is the reason why we have kept together so firmly, all

of these years. Don't you think so too?
Hella. It seems to me that I held that point of view long

before we were acquainted.
Paul {seriously) Rather say, with that point of view, we

found each other. For this point of view, I sacrificed

my home, Hella !
Hella. Yes, therefore it surprises me all the more, that

you suddenly seem to be forgetting all about that . . .
Paul. In what respect ?



120 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Hella (continuing). That you behave like a school boy
who is coining home for his vacation.

Paul {is silent for a moment, then continues). Hella!
. . , My father is lying there on his bier. (He points
toward the right.) I did not see him again!

Hella. Was it your fault? He forbade you his house!
This house!

Paul (without listening to her). I have not been able to
come to an understanding with him. I shall never
come to an understanding Wi> him! Do you realize
what that means? (He turns away.)

[Hella shrugs her shoulders and remains silent.
Pause.']

Paul (has walked through the hall with heavy steps, then
becomes composed and speaks in a more unconcerned
manner). Will you take off your things, Hella?

Hella (rises, wavering) . I don't know, I am cold.

Paul (near her). But how can you be cold. The fire is
roaring in the fireplace. Our good aunt has made
such perfect preparations. Who knows when she got
up in order that we might be comfortable. (He goes
to the fireplace and throws tvood into it.)

Hella (leaning on the chair, taciturnly). It is probably
due to the night ride,

Paul (approaches her). Well, come along! I'll help you!
. . . You will surely not remain in your furs. (He
helps her. She takes off her hat and cloak and goes
to the fireplace not without hesitation.)

Paul (following her with his eyes, gloomily). You are
acting as if you preferred to leave again at once ?

Hella (turning fully toward him). Frankly, Paul, that is
what I should like to do.

Paul (flaring up). Hella! (Calm again, coldly.) I
simply do not understand you!

Hella (has sat down at the fireplace, holds her feet up to
the fire). I do not understand you, and you do not
understand me! That is as broad as it is long.



1



MOTHER EARTH 121

Paul {shrugging his shoulders). I don't know how you
can think of going away under the present circum-
stances.

Hellla. Quite simple. I do not demand that you shall go
with me. You can remain here as long as you are
needed, order your affairs, look about for a purchaser
of the estate, and when good luck favors you in finding
him, you can come on. For the present I may as well
precede you to Berlin. You know that editing cannot
be put off, the next number must be out in a week.
Both of us can not be absent. At least / am indis-
pensable.

Paul. And for this purpose you made a trip of eight
hours from Berlin to this place? Hella! {He places
his hand on her shoulder.)

Hella. Yes, this unfortunate trip!

Paul {with a deep breath). Unfortunate trip, yes indeed!

Hella. For I must tell you, Paul . . .

Paul. Yes?

Hella. I have a feeling that I am not quite suited to this
place.

Paul {bitterly). Aha! That is at the bottom of this in-
sistence about the new number of Women's Rights,
which is all but complete even now.

Hella {unsivervingly) . I have a feeling that I am not
adapted to this environment, and my feelings have
rarely deceived me.

Paul. Oh, your feelings, Hella ! Your feelings ! If you
had only followed them solely, many matters would
stand better today! Believe me.

Hella. I follow my feelings entirely too much, or I should
have remained in Berlin and should not sit here in the
presence of peasants where I have nothing at stake.

Paul. But I have, Hella ! I have very much at stake here.
After all a man does not abandon his inheritance point
blank. Do not forget that.



122 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Hella {straightening up). Of what concern is that to me!

Sell it, why don't you ! It's nothing but a dead weight

to you anyhow.
Paul. Why, I agree with you, Hella. And I am in favor

of selling the estate. But not today nor tomorrow.

Such things call for deliberation.
Hella. But I simply cannot wait that long. Just confess

it, Paul, my place is in the world. You surely don't

expect me to desert my post. Our whole cause is

hazarded, if I throw up the game now Particularly

at this moment. You are demanding too much ! . . .

Do you expect me to give up my life work, simply

because you cannot break away from your clod, on

account of a stupid loyalty?
Paul {controlling himself). It seems to me, Hella, that

we have a career in common. You are acting as if you

alone had a career.
Hella. We have had, up to this day. You are the one

who is retreating! Not I!
Paul {becoming excited). Hella! You have been my

friend ! My comrade in stress and tribulation, I may

say. We have builded our life on our own resources,

our new life, when the old life had renounced us. We

have stood together in the combat, for ten years ! Are

you willing to forget that now? {Has stepped up to

her and seized both of her hands.)
Hella {tries to disengage herself). Goodness, Paul . . .
Paul {fixing his eyes upon her). For years you have come

to me with your wishes. Now I am coming to you!

Now your friendship is to assert itself. Answer me !
Hella {convinced against her will, is forced to smile). Do



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