Kuno Francke.

The German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) online

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not fall into tragedy, Paul!
Paul {unswervingly) . You are to tell me whether you can

leave me alone at this time, whether you can bring

yourself to that point. Only a word!
Hella. Am I not here? What else do you expect? And

I shall remain here. At least for the immediate



Paul (shaking her hands vigorously). Oh, then all will
turn out well! You will remain here! Thank you
for that! {Breaking out in jog.) Now everything
may turn out well after all. {He walks to and fro in
suppressed excitement.) Mad as it may sound, Hella,
under these circumstances. {He stops, facing her.)
I am almost merry! {He continues to pace up and

Hella {scrutinizes him and shakes her head). Paul ! Paul !
Childishness ! From one extreme to the other ! When
will you come to reason. Take an example in me !

Paul {stopping in the centre of the hall, siveeping his hand
around). Hella! . . . This is the soil which nur-
tured my youth. Do you expect me not be happy?

Aunt Claea {enters again from the right. She has taken
off her head-cloth and wears a black dress). Now then,
Paul, here I am again. Have jou made yourself at
home ? Is it warm enough in the hall for both of you T
You probably got good and cold on the way. You had
the wind to face, didn't you?

Paul {reflecting) . Yes, pretty much! I think it was from
the east.

Aunt Clara. It did take me rather a long while, didn't
it, Paul?

Paul. You probably had some other matters that required
attention? {Now that she stands directly before him
he looks at her more closely.) And how Aunt Clara
has dressed up! {He shakes his finger at her.) Well,
well, Auntie. Still so vain, in your years?

Aunt Clara. Why, Paul, this old dress! {She strokes
her skirt with her hands.) I have worn it so many
years. Don't you remember at all?

Paul. Yes, yes, now . . . {Meditates a moment.)

Aunt Clara. I was wearing it when your mother died.
That is the time I had it made.

Paul {abruptly). Oh yes. That has been a long time,
to be sure !


Aunt Clara. In waiting for you, I had quite forgotten
that I still had on my morning dress. So I quickly
put on something else,

Hella. That is exactly what I intend to do, dear Miss
Clara. {She approaches the two.)

Paul. Yes, Auntie, you see, I don't even know where
you have quartered us? Possibly you would show
Hella . . .?

Aunt Clara. Right next door, dear Mrs. . . . Mrs. —
Doctor !

Hella {nodding to her to desist). Well then, please do not
go to any trouble.

Paul {to Hella, who has picked up her things). May I
relieve you of something? Or can I help you in any
other way? Unlock the trunk, for instance?

Hella {refusing). Do drop these courtesies, Paul! That
kind of thing is certainly not in vogue with us.

Paul {curtly). As you please!

[Hella goes out with her things through the open
door on the left, closing it behind her.]

Paul {to Aunt Clara, tvho has been listening in amaze-
ment). So you have lodged us next door? {Hesi-
tating as he points to the right.) Over there, I sup-
pose . . . ?

KvisiT Cija:rk {nodding). Yes, over there, Paul, there . . .
the body lies.

Paul {gloomily) . Shall we not go in. Aunt Clara?

Aunt Clara. Why, not at once, my boy! You certainly
must have something to eat first! Refresh yourself
a little. I'll just call Lene, and have her bring the
coffee! {Starts for the bell-pull.)

Paul {restraining her). I think we had better wait until
Hella and the gentleman are ready.

Aunt Clara {looking at him tenderly). Now you're not
cold at all, Paul?

Paul {significantly). No, Auntie, I am not cold here.
{With less constraint.) Just look at the fine fire in


the fireplace, how it flickers and crackles ! I believe it
too is glad that I am here again. But who is gladdest
of all, well. Auntie, just guess who that may be?

Aunt Claka {shaking her head). Wliy, I can't know that.
I can't guess any more with this old head of mine.

Paul (slyly). That she doesn't know ! Oh Auntie, Auntie !
Why, you yourself, you good old soul !

Aunt Clara {unaffectedly). I did light the chandelier for
you, Paul.

Paul. Of course, the chandelier! Do you suppose I did
not notice that you were at the bottom of that. Auntie ?
Come give me your hand; thank you very much.
Auntie !

Aunt Clara {putting her arms around him). I'm going
to give you a kiss, my boy. Your wife w^ill take no
offense at that. {She kisses him.)

Paul. Oh my wife! That needn't . . . {He gently dis-
engages himself from his aunt's embrace and goes to
and fro meditating.)

Aunt Clara {folloiving him with her eyes). Do you still
remember, Paul, how I would hold you on my knees
and rock you when you were a little fellow?

Paul {paces to and fro again). Yes, yes, how all of that
comes back again! How it is resurrected from its
sleep! . . . {He sits down before the fireplace in deep
thought and stares into the fire.)

Aunt Clara {also goes to the fireplace). Right there,
where you are sitting now, my boy, you often read
fairy tales to me, about Snovv^-Wliite and Cinderella
and about the wolf and the old grandmother . . .

Paul {dreaming). Fairy tales, yes indeed!

Aunt Clara. You sat here, and I here, and you held up
your fairy tale book and acted as if you were grown
up . . .

Paul {smiling). I suppose that's the way one felt too!

Aunt Clara. And papa and mamma were out in society
or in the city , . .


Paul. Yes, quite so, that's it. For, on the whole, as I
remember, I was not in this hall frequently. There
was always a little fear mixed up with it. Quite
natural! The pictures, the spaciousness, the empti-
ness and all that! Later that did disappear. The
last time that I was in this room, when may it have
been . . . ? {He leans his head on his hand in inedi-

Aunt Clara. It was Christmas Eve, ten years ago, Paul.

Paul. Christmas Eve ten years ago ! You may be right.
I remember it was a short time before I had . . . the
crash with father. I had come home at Christmas
just because I imagined that that was the best time to
come to an understanding with father about all of
those matters, my future and other aifairs, and I also
recall that I wanted to allow the holidays to pass
before I dared to come out with my projects, the found-
ing of my journal and my marriage and all the beau-
tiful surprises ! Oh it was postponed as long as pos-
sible. One did have an inkling of what it would lead
to. Of course no one had an idea how it would really
turn out!

Aunt Claka. No, Paul, no one had an idea that that would
be the last Christmas Eve that w^e should celebrate
together. Your father least of all. All of us were
as merry as ever. There stood the tree and the chan-
delier was lighted . . .

Paul. Correct, correct! And Antoinette . . . wasn't
Antoinette present too? Why of course? That's
what complicated the matter so terribly for me. There
she sits, my father has invited her, I know that he
intends her for me, I am to marry her, I'm to become
engaged to her right under the Christmas-tree, as
nearly as I can tell. The word is expected from me.
All of you are waiting, and I . . . why I simply can 't.
I simply cannot, because I have forged quite different
plans for my future, because I too have obligations, in


short, simply because it is impossible. {He gets up
in excitement.) Because it was impossible, Aunt
Clara ! Because I imagined I could not stand it in the
country, was destined for something better than a
sturdy estate owner and family father, simjjly because
Hella was putting such bees in my bonnet and because,
in my stupidity, I believed it all ! Just as if the world
had been waiting for me to come and set it right!
Eidiculous ! But at that time I was convinced of it.
At that time I had to make a clean breast of it or it
would have cost me my life. But, oh, how I did suffer
in those days !

Aunt Clara. If you had only told me about it, Paul ! But
I didn't know a thing about it. Not until it was too
late . . .

Paul (breathing deeply). Yes, then it came quickly. I
could not conceal it any longer. It simply burst forth.
It can have been only a few days later . . .

Aunt Clara. Three days, my boy . . .

Paul. Three days, yes, very likely. To me, to be sure,
they seemed like eternity. And strangely enough:
terrible as the clash with father was, when he found
out what intentions I had and that I did not want to
remain with him and marry Antoinette and take over
the estate some day. Believe me. Aunt Clara, it was
a relief in a sense, after all, when it had been said, and
father had forbidden me the house and I sat in the
carriage and drove away and was free for good. Yes
for good ! That is what I made myself believe at the
time and I fairly breathed with relief and imbibed the
crisp air! That must have been approximately this
time of the year. Why, certainly! Just abouc. It
was at Christmas.

Aunt Clara. Third holiday is when it was, Paul. I can
still see you get into the carriage. It gave me such a
shock. I thought I'd fall over.


Paul {caressing her). Good soul that you are! Yes you
always took my part . . . {Interrupting himself.)
Third holiday, you say, it took place? {Striking his
forehead.) Why that is today. Ten years ago today t

Aunt Claea. This very day !

Paul {goes back and forth excitedly). I say ... I say
. . . Ten years ! Horrible !

Aunt Clara. And you S'.e, my boy, all this time these
candles have not been lighted! {She points to the
chandelier.) Just as they were put out on Christmas
Eve, they are in their places today.

Paul {gloomily). So that is why you lighted the chan-
delier, Auntie?

Aunt Claea. Yes, now that you are here again, it occurred
to me that the candles ought to be lighted again.

Paul. I think we shall let that suffice. Broad daylight is
already peering through the shutters. {He points to
the background where broad daylight comes in through
the heart-shaped apertures of the shutters, then slowly
puts out the candles, one by one.) Now then, let us
put them out !

Aunt Clara {goes to the background and unscrews the
shutters, opens them, letting the daylight stream in.
and puts out the lamp on the commode). Praise the
Lord ! After all it has become daylight once more.

Paul {has put out the candles and looks over at her).
What do you mean by that. Aunt Clara?

Aunt Clara {having opened the shutters, comes for-
ward again and whispers). I was forced to think so
much, because it was the first night that your father
has been dead and has been lying there in the corner

Paul {with suppressed feeling, after a short struggle).
Will you not tell me how father died?

Aunt Claea. Oh, Paul what is there to tell about that?
Didn't I telegraph to you? Heart failure, is what
Doctor Bodenstein said. He went to bed at ten o 'clock


that night, as always ; it was night before last, the first

Paul. Didn 't he call at all ? Did he not succeed in making

himself heard at alU
Aunt Clara. Not a word! From that time on, no mortal

heard another sound from him.
Paul (covers his face with his hands, then hesitatingly).

Do you think he still thought of me ?
Aunt Clara. The departed thought of you very often

especially lately when thoughts of death were coming

to him, I am certain of that.
Paul. And did he not want to see me once more?
Aunt Clara. He said nothing about that.
Paul. Nothing, Aunt Clara? Nothing? Think!
Aunt Clara. He said nothing.
Paul (excited). But he thought it. And did not have

time to do it ! Now he is taking it down into his grave

with him. [Pause.]

Aunt Clara. I was going to ask you, Paul . . . ?
Paul. Well? (He stands before her at the fireplace.)
Aunt Clara. What kind of a man can that be who came

with you?
Paul. Glyszinski ?
Aunt Clara. Why yes, the one I took up stairs, the young

Paul. Heavens, he is a friend of ours. Particularly of

Aunt Clara. Of your wife ? Why, Paul !
Paul (smiling). Oh, Auntie! There is no danger in him.

You need not have any scruples about that. Hella

indeed crams her head with thoughts quite distinct

from love. She never did suffer from that.
Aunt Clara. But to think that he just came along? Did

you invite him?
Paul (shrugging his shoidders). Well, what is a man to

do? He lives with us.
Aunt Clara (more and more astonished). He lives with

Vol. XX— 9


Paul. We keep house together, yes. And so he wanted
to come with us, and Hella was also of the opinion
that we could not exactly desert him. He is likely to
do some fool thing. You know he is always doing fool
things ... It wasn't very agreeable to me, I must
confess. But it would not do to leave him at home.
When Hella takes a thing like that into her head . . .

Aunt Claka. Don't be offended, Paul, I can't get that
through my head . . . Aren't you the master of your

Paul {smiling). Master of my house? . . . No,
Auntie, Hella would never put up with that and on
that point I am forced to agree with her.

Aunt Claea. The things that one does get to hear in
one's old age! I'm too dense for that.

Paul. Well you see. Aunt Clara, these are views that are
not exactly understood in the country. One has to
work up to that gradually.

Aunt Claea. Are you really happy with them, Paul?

Paul. Why I have fought almost fifteen years for these
views ! Surely a man will not do a thing like that with-
out serious consideration.

Aunt Claea. So you held those very views at the time
when you had your quarrel with your father, who is
now dead and gone?

Paul. That's the very reason I went away. Auntie. Do
you understand now why it was impossible for me to
remain ?

Aunt Claea {after a short silence, significantly). And do
you sometimes still think of Antonie, Paul?

Paul {meditating). Antoinette? . . . Oh yes, sometimes.

Aunt Claea. Now do be frank, Paul! Has the thought
never come to you that you would really like to have
Antonie ?

Paul {absent-minded) . Who? I have her?

Aunt Claea. Why Paul? You have her and she have
you! Didn't you really care for each other a bit?



Paul {as before, supporting his head on his hand). Do
you think so? That is so long ago? Possibly. What
do I know about it? {He sits up.)

Aunt Claea. We were always in the habit of saying
they'll make a fine couple when they are big, you and

Paul {almost painfully). You see, Auntie, what mistakes
one can make. Nothing can be determined beforehand.
But I almost think you are right. I liked her quite
well, once upon a time. Something like that begins
to dawn on me. A big, stupid, love-sick lubber. That's
me. And she . , . What was ^/^e.^ {With the sug-
gestion of a smile.) A remarkably beautiful, sweet
young thing with ashy-blond braids. Yes, yes, some-
thing like that dawns upon me. She did have splendid
ashy-blond hair and dark eyes. {He leans his head on
his hand.)

Aunt Claea. How well you still remember that.

Paul {collects himself again). Yes, strange, as it comes
to me now. But at that time, you know, when I came
back as a student, the aforesaid Christmas, it was all
gone, as if obliterated, not a trace of it left. Then
my head was filled with things of quite another nature.
My home had become strange to me, that is it. Auntie.
Hella was in my mind. For that reason nothing could
come of it, the match between Antoinette and me.
(Glyszinski enters from the right, followed hg Lene.)

Lene {remaining at the door). Shall I bring the coifee.
Miss Clara?

Aunt Claea {has also stepped to the door). Yes, and don't
forget the pound-cake ! . . . But no, wait, I '11 get
it myself. Just a moment, Paul! {She motions to
him and goes out at the right ivith Lene.)

Glyszinski {has stepped to the center of the room. He is
faultlessly clad in a black suit, spick and span from
top to toe). Here I am! {He looks about.)

Tavl, {approaches Gl.yszii^ski). Yes, here you are ! . . .
You have spent much time on your toilet.


Glyszinski. Why, not more than usual.

Paul. To be sure! That's correct. {Looking at him with
a bitter senile.) Well it did pay for the trouble. You
are fit for a ball.

Glyszinski {lo )ks around again). Where is your wife?

Paul. Also busy with her toilet. But will surely be here
directly. It doesn't take her half as long as it does
you. Meanwhile, sit down! {He invites him to sit
down on a chair by the sofa.)

Glyszinski {sits down on the chair at the right of the sofa,
keeping his eye on the door at the left.) Ah, here comes
madam! {He gets up to meet Hella, who is just
entering the door on the left, clad in a pleated blouse
and a plain skirt.) May I conduct you to the table,
madam? {He offers her his arm.)

Hella {places her arm on his and looks over at the table).
Why, is it time?

Glyszinski {leads Hella to the sofa). Please, here in the
place of honor.

Hella. Is it absolutely required that I should occupy the
sofa? Will you not sit here, Paul? {She stands at the
sofa hesitating.)

Glyszinski {ivith the tips of his fingers placed together).
Please, please, madam. You are to preside!

Paul {walks through the hall with his hands on his back
and speaks over his shoulder). Don't be embar-
rassed !

Hella. I am not particularly in love with this old uncom-
fortable furniture. I distinctly prefer a pretty modern
fauteuil. {She sits down).

Lenb {comes in at the right with the coffee service, places
the tray containing the coffee-pot, cream-pitcher and
cake on the table between the cups. Addresses Hella).
Miss Clara will bring the pound-cake directly. Shall
I fill the cups?

Hella. You may go. We shall attend to that.

[Lene casts a curious glance at the two, then at Paul,
and goes out at the right.}


Hella {in an undertone to Glyszinski). Seems to be a
regular country hussy. Did you notice the stupid

Glyszinski {quoting with dignity). Upon her brow the
Lord did nail a brazen slab !

Hella {to Paul, who is still walking about). Paul, can't
you stop that everlasting marching?

Paul. I find it agreeable after the night's travel. Have
you any objections?

Hella. Yes, it makes me nervous, especially here in this
awful hall, where every step reverberates ten times
over, because you do not even have the proper carpets.
Isn't there another room, where one can sit with some
comfort. {See pours out her coffee.)

Paul {with restrained asperity). No, not at present!

Hella. Then at least do me the favor to sit down, your
coffee is getting cold, anyhow. {She pours out Paul's

Paul {approaching). Very well! I shall sit down then.

Glyszinski {raising his cup). And I, madam? Am I to
have none?

Hella {decisively). Have you forgotten our household
regulations, dear sir?

Glyszinski {grumhling). But he got some, didn't he?

Hella. I have allowed an exception in Paul's case today.
Just take the pot and help yourself.

Glyszinski {shaking his head). Too bad! Too bad! {He
pours out his coffee.)

Aunt Clara {has entered from the right carrying a platter
with a large pound-cake). Children, here comes the
pound-cake! Fresh from the oven. It's fairly steam-
ing still. {She cuts the cake.) You surely haven't
taken your coffee already?

Hella {very courteously). You are really going to too
much trouble, dear Miss Clara.

Aunt Clara. Trouble, Avell, well. But now do help your-
self! {She puts a large piece of cake on each plate.)


Paul, (smiling). Do you know, Hella, I do almost feel as
I did as a schoolboy, when I came home for the Christ-
mas vacation. In those days we would also sit in the
hall ani over there the fire would burn and the pound-
cake would stand on the table exactly as today. Only
that my mother had done the baking.

Aunt Clara (in the chair opposite the fireplace). Now
you must imagine: I am your mother, Paul. [She
has also poured out her coffee and begins to drink it.)
How do you like it?

Paul. Just as much as in the old days. It seems to me as
if it were today.

Aunt Claea. Then eat away, my boy !

Hella. You have really had very good luck with this pound-
cake, my dear Miss Clara. Accept my compliments.

Glyszinski {consumes his piece with great satisfaction).
Delicious ! A work of art !

Paul. You may well feel set up about that. Auntie. Glys-
zinski knows all about cake.

Glyszinski. Yes in such matters we Poles are connoisseurs.

Hella. Their whole nourishment is made up of desserts.

Glyszinskl I consider sweets a thousand times more ele-
gant than that brutal alcohol, which deadens all finer

Aunt Claea. I suppose the gentleman was also born in
this region.

Glyszinski. Yes, mademoiselle, I am a Pole.

Paul. A Pole, and attended the gymnasium in Berlin!

Glyszinski. Unfortunately I got away too early. Never-
theless I shall remain what I always was.

Aunt Claea. Do you remember Laskowski, Paul?

Paul. From Klonowken?

Aunt Claea. Yes, quite nearby! He owns the neighbor-
ing estate.

Paul. Why, of course ! He is even a relative in a sense.
What makes you think of him. Aunt Clara?

Aunt Claea. It just occurred to me, simply because he is
also a Polander and gets along with his German so well.


Paul. Why, I even attended school with him for a while.
He was a fox if there ever was one.

Aunt Claea {in a searching manner). Aren't you glad,
Paul, that your father held on to Ellernhof for you ?

Paul. How so? Why?

Aunt Clara. He might have sold the estate to Laskowski
or some one else.

Hella {who has been leaning hack and playing the part of
the silent hut attentive listener, takes a hand). I can-
not see in what sense that would have been a mis-

Paul. If Ellernhof had gone over into the hands of
strangers? You are simply judging from your point
of view. Then I should never have seen my childhood
home again.

Hella {forcibly). But what are we to do with it. We
have it on our hands and can't help but be glad to get
rid of it at any price.

Aunt Clara {with growing uneasiness, to Paul). What
is your wife saying? You intend to go away, intend
to sell?

Hella. Why, certainly ! As soon as possible ! What else
is there for us to do?

Aunt Clara. You intend to sell the estate that has been
in the family over two hundred years?

Hella. That can be of no possible advantage to us. Do
you expect us to settle down here? Do you suppose
I have the least inclination to degenerate out here in
the country?

Aunt Clara. And you, Paul, what have you to say to that ?

Hella. Paul fully agrees with me.

Paul {gets up, distressed). Don't torment me with that
now, good people, I beg of you. I am really not in the
proper mood. There is certainly no hurry about that

Aunt Clara. Don't you realize that you will commit a sin,
if you sell the fine estate that your father maintained
for you?


Hella. Oh sin! Sin! Do you not, from your point of
view, consider the manner in which Paul's father be-
haved tow^.rd us a sin? I am unable to see any differ-
ence. There was no compunction about locking the
door upon us. I was treated as a nondescript, bring-
ing disgrace to the family ! As if my family could not
match up with the Warkentins any day! After all, I
am the daughter of a university professor, my dear
Miss Clara. You possibly fail to appreciate that a bit.
Therefore I repeat to you, Paul hasn't the slightest
reason to be ashamed of me! And he hasn't been.
But Paul 's father tvas. He forced us to earn our daily
bread! And now that we have been successful, now
that we have won a place for ourselves, now they begin
to think of us, simply because they need us. Now they
are becoming sentimental. No, dearest ! You did not
concern yourselves about us! Now we shall not con-
cern ourselves about you! Now we shall simply pay
it all back ! That 's the sin that you were talking about.
EUernhof has no claims upon us, (She breathes deeply
and leans hack on the sofa.)

Glyszinski {has hung upon her lips, enthusiastically).
Madam, your hand! {He extends his hand.)

Hella {curtly). Oh do let us dispense with that for the
present, doctor!

Paul {has been listening from the fireplace and now ap-
proaches). That is quite correct, Hella, but there is
one thing that you must not forget. I really did pro-
voke my father at the time. I was young and inexperi-
enced. I felt compelled to tell him at the outset, even
before I went to the university, that I did not believe
that I should be able to endure life in the country

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