Kuno Francke.

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

. (page 13 of 34)
Online LibraryKuno FranckeThe German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) → online text (page 13 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Paul. You are badly off the track, and will hardly get on

again, unless you are warned in time. Whether or not

that will do you any good, is your affair.
Glyszinski {agitated) . But what does all of this mean?

I don't understand you.
Paul {very seriously). In a word, that means :'look out

for women who are like Hella ! Look out for that ilk !

That tells the whole story! The whole story!
Glyszinski {jumps up). And you expect me to follow that

advice ?
Paul. Do not follow it, but don't be surprised later on

if you find yourself in the position in which I am today.

It has taken me ten to twelve years to arrive at it.

Half of that time will suffice for you.



Glyszinski. Why that is sheer nonsense! Your position
is estimable enough.

Paul. I am a bankrupt ! That 's all !

Glyszinski {greatly excited). Imagination, pure imagina-
tion! You have your position! You have a name in
the movement!

Paul {bitterly). Oh yes! This movement!

Glyszinskl I wish I were that far along!

Paul. Possibly you are, without knowing it. But as for
myself, when I was of your age and began to fly the
track, the aforesaid track, I was quite another fellow !
Today as I rode through the snow knee-deep, that
became quite clear to me ! I saw myself as I had been
once upon a time and then realized what had later
become of me! All the strength! All the life! All
the color! All lost! All gone! . . . Colorless and
commonplace! That is the outcome ! {He sinks down
in complete collapse.)

Glyszinski {very uncomfortably) . And you blame Hella
for all that?

Hella {a pen behind her ear, puts in her head and calls).
Glyszinski ! Doctor ! Why don't you come in ! I want
you to help me write a number of letters. I shall dic-
tate to you. {Withdraws again.)

Glyszinski {with precipitation). Immediately, madam.
{He runs to the right.)

Paul {raising his finger). You have been warned!

Glyszinski {already at the door on the right). Some other
timef I have no time now!

{^Goes off, the door closes again and is bolted on the
other side.^

Paul {looks after him, then, after a pause). He is going
the same course ! {Takes a few steps through the hall,
remains standing before the portraits on the ivall, looks
up at them for a long while, breathes deeply and says,
only just audibly): The Warkentins bring no luck!
. . . And they have no luck! . . .


[He steps across to the spinet which is open, sits

down, and softly strikes a number of chords.

Aunt Clara comes in quickly from the right, looks


Paul {sitting at the spinet). Well, Aunt Clara? {He

lowers his hands from the keys.)
Aunt Clara {cautiously). It is well that you are here, my

boy! {She approaches.)
Paul {absent-minded) . Is there anything? . . .
Aunt Clara {shaking her head). Why a person can't talk

to your wife. And that young man . . . There's

something about him too. Where in the world are the

two now?
Paul {feigning indifference). There, in the other room,

Aunt Clara.
Aunt Clara. Do you suppose she will hear us?
Paul. Oh no, Auntie ! They are in the green room. The

sun-parlor lies between. And then . . . when Hella

is working, she doesn't hear anyhow.
Aunt Clara. Those two ! I do say ! They just have to

stay together the whole day ! But I was going to say

. . . Laskowskis . . .
Paul. What about Laskowski?
Aunt Clara. Wonder whether Ave ought to send them an

announcement ?
Paul. I don't care! Although I do not exactly consider

it necessary.
Aunt Clara. Just on account of the wife.
Paul. Whose wife?
Aunt Clara. Well, Mrs. Laskowski. Why, don't you

Paul ( turns around ). Not a thing ! Is Laskowski married I
Aunt Clara. Why, Paul ! Didn 't he marry Antonie ?
Va-VI. {recoils). Antoinette . . .? Our Antoinette? And

I am just finding out about that !
Aunt Clara. Well, I didn't know whether you cared to

hear anything about Antonie.


Paul {approaches her and speaks to her in an interested

manner). Why, Auntie, one is interested in the people

who were once near and dear.
Aunt Clara. Then, you didn't ask about her yesterday!
Paul. Goodness, Aunt Clara! I didn't want to ask!

. . . After all, I'm finding out soon enough! . . .

Poor Antoinette! . . . Wasn't she able to find any

one else? . . .
Aunt Clara. You had been gone a year and a half, Paul,

and then they got married.
Paul {depressed). Well, well . . . ! That long ago?

Then it has really ceased to be news ! How does she

look? {Bitterly.) I suppose quite . . .? {He makes

a significant derogatory gesture.)
Aunt Clara. Don't say that, Paul! She can vie with the

youngest and most beautiful of them! She is in her

very prime now ! Just set her over against your wife !
Paul {embarrassed). Well, well! Hella is not exactly

obliged to conceal herself, it seems to me.
Aunt Clara {eagerly). But oh, you should see Mrs. Las-

kowski !
Paul {crabbed). Well, then old Laskowski may thank his

stars. How in all the world did Antoinette run into

that fellow? I could never bear him!
Aunt Clara. Have you forgotten every thing Paul ? Why,

he was forever after her, even when you were still here.
Paul. Why, he is the greatest crook on God's green earth !
Aunt Clara. At first Antonie didn't care a thing in the

world for him, but later she took him just the same,

when it was all over with jq'z
Paul {disdainfully). Of course he had his eye on her

estate, the sly rogue ! I 'd vouch for that.
Aunt Clara {gleefully). Her estate, Grosz-Rukkoschin,

went to him right at her marriage. You know that

belongs to her from her father 's side. You might have

that now, Paul.
Paul {interested). Well, and how do the two get along?

He and xintoinette ?


Aunt Claea {shrugging her shoulders). Oh, Paul, what
do I know about it? They have no children.

Paul {relieved). They haven 't any children either ? Well !

Aunt Claka. They did have one, a girl! But they lost

Paul. Lost her . . . Well, well! . . . Hm! Antoi-
nette! . . . Antoinette Eousselle as Mrs. von Las-
kowski! . . , Could I have dreamed such a thing
when I was a sophomore with old Heliodor! {Me
shakes his head, burdened with memories, then with a
sudden change.) Well, of course, we shall send the
Laskowskis an announcement. We'll attend to that
at once! {Starts to go.)

Aunt Claea {holds him hy the arm). Never mind, Paul!
I have sent it. Yesterday. I was certain it would be
all right with you.

Paul {forced to smile). Well, what do you think of Aunt
Clara! . . .

Aunt Clara. It's only on account of the neighbors. Now
that you are here and they live right next to us, if we
should not even invite them to the funeral. . . .

Paul {absent-minded) . Yes, yes, quite right!

Aunt Claea {searchingly) . For you'll have to obsei^ve a
bit of neighborliness with the estate-owners around
here, my boy . . .

Paul {warding off). Oh, Aunt Clara, here's the same old
question again!

Aunt Clara. Now really, Paul, don't you know yet what
you are going to do, whether you intend to remain?

Paul {very seriously). Aunt Clara! I shall never be able
to induce Hella. That is becoming clearer and clearer
to me!

Aunt Clara {bolt upright). If EUernhof is sold, I shall
not survive it! I have been here thirty-three years!
I have carried you all in my arms, you and your
brothers and sisters. All of the rest are dead. You
are still here, Paul. I closed your mother's eyes for


her. I witnessed the death of your father. In all of
my days I have known only Ellernhof , At the ceme-
tery I 've selected a place for myself where all of them
are lying. Shall I go away now at the very end? At
least, wait until I am dead!

Paul (passionately) . Don't make it so desperately hard
for me, Aunt Clara !

Aunt Claea (looking at the walls). Here they all hang
on the walls, those who were once active here . . .

Paul, (follows her eyes). Do you hear? The door-bell.
(The door-hell rings.)

Aunt Claka. Callers.

Paul. Callers ! Again !

Aunt Clara. Probably to express their condolences.

Paul (impatiently). Just at the most inopportune mo-

Aunt Clara (listening) . I shouldn't be surprised if the
Laskowskis were coming!

Vaiji^ (giving a start). Antoinette . . .? Why, that . . .!
And I in my riding boots ! Do see who it is !

Aunt Clara. Wliy, of course it is ! I can hear him from
here . , , Shall I bring them in, Paul?

Paul, Can't we take them somewhere else?

Aunt Clara. Where, pray tell? (She goes to the door on
the right.)

Paul (goes to the door on the left, knocks). Hella, open
the door! I want to change my clothes. There are

Aunt Clara. Why, never mind, you are all right!

Paul (turns away, resigned to his fate). It wouldn't do
any good anyhow. Hella does not hear me. Go ahead
then! Bring them right along.

[Aunt Clara opens the door at the right and goes
out. Conversation outside becomes audible.]

Paul (also comes over to the right, seems to be in great
agitation, controls himself nervously, steps upon the
threshold at the right and addresses those about to


enter). This way, if you please. (He steps aside for

Antoinette and Laskowski, and makes a short bow).

We are very glad to see you !
Laskowski {seizes both of his hands and shakes them a

number of times). Glad to see you, old chap ! Think

of seeing you again. {He and Antoinette have taken

off their wraps outside. He wears a black morning

coat and black gloves.)
Paul {reserved). Unfortunately on a sad occasion!
Antoinette {in a black gown, simple but elegant). Be

assured of our heartfelt sympathy, doctor! {She

extends the tips of her fingers to him.)
Paul {somewhat formally). Thank you very much,

madam! {His eyes are fastened upon her.)
Aunt Clara {is the last to enter. She closes the door

behind her). Will you not be seated ? Antonie, please

take the sofa!
Paul. Yes indeed, madam, please ! Or would you prefer

to sit at the fire? You have been riding.
Antoinette. Thank you! I am quite warm. I'll sit

down here. {She sits doiu7i on the sofa and lets her

eyes roam about.)
Laskowski. Think of my wife sitting at the fire ! It would

have to come to a j^retty pass ! One who knocks about

in the open all day long, like her! {He sits down on

the chair to the left of the sofa.)
Paul {under a spell). Do you do that, madam?
Antoinette. Just as it comes! A little horseback, skat-
ing . . . Whatever winter pastimes there may be!
Paul {ivho is still standing at his chair). And in summer?
Laskowski. Oh, in summer something else is doing again !

Then there is rowing, fishing and swimming to beat

the band!
Antoinette. Fortunately we have the lake right near our

Paul {has been speaking privately to Aunt Clara). Very

well, Auntie, bring us that!


Antoinette. Don't go to any trouble, Miss Clara. We
can't stay long.

Laskowski (winks). Well, well, we'll remain a hit longer.
I'll still have to go to the inn to take a look at that

Paul (beckons to his aunt). So bring it along!

Aunt Clara. Very well, boysie, I'm going. (Goes off at
the right.)

Paul (sits down in the chair opposite the sofa and becomes
absent-minded again). So you have a lake? Where
is it? Surely not at Klonowken?

Antoinette. If we only did have that at Klonowken ! We
have nothing at all there.

Laskowski (joining in with laughter). Heaven knows!
The fox and the wolf do the social stunt there !

Antoinette. The lake is at Rukkoschin.

Laskowski (informing him). That is the estate that my
dearie brought to me.

Paul (abruptly). Yes, yes.

Laskowski (laughing) . That's a different layout from the
sandy blowouts of Klonowken! Piime soil! And a
forest, I tell you, cousin! Over two thousand acres!
One trunk as fine as another ! Each one fit for a ship 's
mast ! If I ever have them cut down ! That will put
grease into the pan ! Yes, yes, Rukkoschin is a catch
that's worth while. We did a good job of that, didn't
we, dearie? (He laughs at Antoinette slyly.)

Paul. I suppose, dear Laskowski, that no one has ever
doubted your slyness.

Laskowski (strikes his shoidder). Do you see, Doc, now
you say so yourself, and at school you gave me the
laugh. That fool Laskowski, so you thought, he'll
never get beyond pounding sand in a rat-hole. Have
I come up a bit in your eyesf How's that, old boy?
Shake hands. Pretty damned long since we have met !
(He extends his hand to Paul, who does not seem to
notice it.)


Antoinette (who has been biting her lips and looking into
space during the words of her husband, suddenly in-
terrupts). We received the announcement this morn-
ing, Mr. Warkentin. We thank you very much.

Paul (reserved). It was no more than our duty, madam.

Laskowski. Yes, we were very glad, my wife and I . . .

Antoinette (quickly). Not to be forgotten! . . ,

Laskowski. You hit the nail on the head, that's what you
did, dearie ! You go on and talk. A fellow like myself
isn't so handy with his tongue! But he feels it just
the same!

Paul (grimly). Rather sudden, was it not, madam?

Antoinette. The best thing that one can wish for !

Paul. Do you think so? I don't know.

Laskowski. Of course. Heart failure's the thing to

Antoinette. It grieved me very much.

Paul. Yes, madam.

Antoinette. You see, he was my guardian.

Paul. I know it.

Antoinette. Of course we had not seen each other for
some time . . .

Laskowski. Goodness, dearie, that's the way it goes some-
times ! This fellow's busy and then that fellow's busy
. . .It's not like in the city. But everybody knows
how you feel about it, just the same. And then if you
do meet in the city, or at the stockyards, or somewhere
else, the jollification is twice as big. Just lately I met
your father in just that way. It 's not been four weeks.
Met him at the station just as I was going to town.
And the old gent crossed my path and acted as if he
didn't see me. It was right at the ticket window. Of
course, I called him! Good morning, major, says I!
Howdy? Chipper, and up and coming as ever? Oh,
says he, not particularly ! Those very words ! I can
still see him as he stood there !


Antoinette (incredulously). Why you didn't tell me a
thing about that.

Laskowski. Guess I forgot to. Who'd think it would be
the last time. When I heard that he was dead, day
before yesterday, it came to me again. Then we rode
in the same compartment and he kept telling me a lot
about you. Doc.

Paul, (sarcastically). Really?

Laskowski. He was pretty much bothered, what would
become of the place, when he 'd be dead and gone . . .

Paul. You don't say!

Laskowski. On my honor, Doc. ! Expect me to fib to you.
Of course I talked him out of it, and told him not to
bother about it. First of all that it wasn't up to him
yet, and if it was, / was still in the ring.

Paul. Very kind of you.

Laskowskl With all my heart! You and me. Doc, h'ml
We understand each other! We'll come to terms all
right. Old chap! Old crony! How tickled I am to
see you right here before me again ! How often I have
said if Paul was only here now. Didn't I, dearie!

Antoinette (gesture of impatience). Yes, yes.

Laskowski. Well, what have you been doing all this time,

Paul. All kinds of things.

Laskowskl Regular old Socrates. It makes a fellow's
wheels buzz to think of what he's got in his head all
the time ! Do you remember, old chap, how you used
to help me out when we were juniors ?

Paul. Sophomores, dear Laskowski ! You failed to make
junior standing.

Laskowski (strikes his fist on the table, in great glee).
Damn it all! Did you remember that? I see, old
chap, that a fellow has to be on his guard with you.

Paul (with a determined look). If you think . . .

Laskowskl These fellows from Berlin. They are up to
snuff! That's the place! If they ever come out into





^MBtarap'Wi-S: -ji:..-v-jmvH.feiJE

;>MftW \T\


m {increduloiisly) . Why you didn't tell me a
. about that.

i.M^.£,jiowbKT. Guess I forgot to. vVho'd thmk it would be
the last time. When I heard that he was dead, day
before yesterday, it came to me again. Then we rode
m the same comp'^'"''"^^^^> -vid Ir kept telling me a lot
about you, Doc.

Paul {sarcastically), i.: c.jj ;

Laskowski. He was pretty much bothered, what would
become of the place, sdien he'd be dead and gone . . .

Paul. You dor- '■ -< ■ '

Laskowekl O. i_/...., I Expect me to fib to you.

Of course i . 'ut of it, and told him not to

bother about i. . ' i<; ^hat it wasn't up to him

vrt^ and if it was, . tv,p ring.

T' :.. Very kind of you.

Laskowskl With all my heart! . .. ...ud me, Doc, h'm?

We ^^<3^'"sta.ndj^Q^^g^i^yJjjy^e'll come to terms all
right. Old chap! Oicl crony! How tickled I am to
see you right here before me again ! How often I have
said if Paul was only here now. Didn't T, dearie?
>TNKTTE ifif shirt' 'patiencf _

11 been doing all this time,

L fellow^'s

'lis head all

the ;v.' you used

to help i:
P Sopb ou failed to make

junior stan-
Laskowsk ■ ■ areat glee ) .

Dami. I'emembor tharf I see, old

chap, that e i o be on his guard with you.

W'&mdHeilfdinU'n'gfby Mobetft M:4^. If you think . .
Laskowski. TV >ws from Berlin. They are up to

snuff! Thai f ;)lace! If they ever come out into



the country, look out, boys. They'll not leave a shirt
on your back ! Guess you made a good deal of spon-
dulics in Berlin, didn't you. Doc? {He goes through
with the gesture of counting money.)

Paul (cutting). Why?

Laskowski. Goodness, a fellow will ask about that. You
don't need it, of course. Ellernhof is worth sixty,
seventy thousand dollars any day, and a fellow can live
off of that. If you can only find a buyer . . .

Paul. I haven't the least desire, dear Laskowski.

Laskowski. It's a hard thing too, now^-a-days. Buyers
are scarce and times are hard for the farmer.

[Aunt Claea comes from the right, carrying a tray
with a hottle of wine and glasses.}

Antoinette. You have gone to all this trouble, after all,
Miss Clara.

Aunt Clara. Not at all worth mentioning! {Sets the
things on the table.)

Laskowski {examines the wine-bottle). Why, what have
you brought here, Miss?

Paul. You drink port, don't you, madam?

Laskowski {affectionately). If you don't care for it,
dearie, I drink for you.

Antoinette. You may pour me one glass. {She holds out
her glass, which Paul fills.)

Laskowski You're sure it won't hurt you, dearie?

Antoinette. Why should it? I drink on other occasions.

Laskowski. Because you are always getting a headache.

Antoinette {looks at him). I?

Laskowskl Now don 't get mad right off ! Can 't a fellow
crack a joko.^ Don't you see that it's a joke? Drink
ahead, dearie! I'm drinking too. And then I must
be going too.

Paul {ivho has filled all the glasses). Must you; where?

Laskowski {raises his glass and empties it). Of a fore-
noon, there's nothing up to a glass of port.

Paul. Why don't you drink, Aunt Clara! {He also

Vol. XX— 11


Aunt Clae^. Oh, I don't care much for wine, my boy, as
you may remember. {She sips a little.)

Laskowski {to Antoinette). Well, did you like it, dearie?

Paul. May I give you some more, madam?

Antoinette. No, thank you. It would go to my head.

Laskowski {pushes his glass over). I'll take another glass.
Then I must be going. {Looks at his watch.) It's
a quarter of eleven.

Paul {fills it). What else have you in mind?

Laskowski. Well, since it just fits in, we being here today,
I just want to go over to the inn. They've advertised
a gelding there. Take a look at him. If he can be had
cheap . . . Haven't put one over on anybody for
some time! {He laughs, empties the glass and holds
it up before him.) Your old gent did invest in a cellar !
There ain't a thing. Doc, that I envy you as much as
that cellar! {He gets up.)

Antoinette. I shall wait till you return. Come back

Laskowski. On the spot, dearie. I'll only take a vertical
whisky over at the inn! Good-by, dearie! Good-by,
Doc! {He goes out at the right.)

Aunt Claea {has also risen, with a sly look). Mercy, my
dinner! You can't depend upon these girls! First
thing, it'll be burned. {She hastens out at the right.)

Antoinette. Did you not bring Mrs. Warkentin with you.

Paul {nervously). Yes, Auntie, please tell Lene to go
around and tell my wife we have callers. This door
is locked. She cannot get through here. {He has
risen and walked over to the right.)

Aunt Claea {going out). Very well, Paul, I shall see to it.
[Goes off. Pause. Paul stands at the fireplace and
stares into the fire. Antoinette has leaned hack
on the sofa and is gazing into space.']

Paul {with an effort). You are not cold, are you, madam?
Or I will put on some more wood.


Antoinette {without stirring). Not on my account! I

am accustomed to the cold.
Paul (forced). Strange! As hardened as all that.
Antoinette. Completely !

Paul, {takes a step toward her). Antoinette . . .?
Antoinette {motionless). Doctor?
Paul, {painfully). Once my name was Paul. Don't you

remember ?
Antoinette. I have forgotten it!
Paul {controls himself). Well then, madam, may I speak

to you?
Antoinette. Will you not call your wife?
Paul. May I not speak to you?

Antoinette. I don't know what you could have to say.
Paul. Something that concerns only you and me and not

another soul!
Antoinette {gets up). I do not care to hear it. {Takes

a few steps into the hall.)
Paul {seizes her hand). Antoinette!
Antoinette {frees herself). Don't!
Paul. Then why have you come?
Antoinette. Don't, I tell you!
Paul. Then why have you come, I ask of you?
Antoinette {stands with her back to him, blurts out).

They fairly dragged me here!
Paul. So you did not come of your own accord?
Antoinette. No ! . . . I should never have come !
Paul. Antoinette ... Is that the truth?

[Antoinette presses her hand to her face and is
silent. ~\
Paul {with boived head). Then to be sure . . . !
Antoinette. Why in the world doesn't your wife come in?

{She walks toivard the window.)
Paul. Very well ! Let her come ! {He bites his lips and

turns away.)
Lene {appears in the door at the left). Mr. Warkentin

. . . ?
Paul {startled). What is it?


Lene. Mrs. Warkentin says that she has no time now,
she'll come directly.

Paul. Very well! . . . You may go!

Lene. Thank you, Mr. Warkentin! {She casts a glance
at the two and goes out. Short pause.)

Paul {with grim humor). As you see, it is not to be,
madam !

Antoinette {stands at the window with her hack toward
the hall). It would seem so. {Presses her face against
the panes.)

Paul {walks to and fro, then approaches her). I have
had to endure much, Antoinette, very much!

Antoinette {suppressed). Possibly I have too.

Paul. Why, Antoinette, you are weeping"? {He stands
behind her and tries to look into her face.)

Antoinette {ivards him off). I? Not at all!

Paul {heavily). You are weeping, Antoinette!

Antoinette {sinks down). I can't help it. {She sur-
renders to her pain, hut quietly and softly, making her
appear all the more touching.)

Paul {kindly). Come, madam! Let me conduct you to
the sofa. {About to take her arm.)

Antoinette (re/i/-5m^). 1 can go alone. Why do you con-
cern yourself about me at all?

Paul. Antoinette! Don't be stubborn at this moment!
Our time is short. Who knows whether w^e shall ever
speak to each other again as we now do. {He leads
her forward a short distance.)

Antoinette. All the better!

Paul. Our time is awfully short. 1 cabinet let jou go awaj
so! We must make use of the moment! {Bitterly.)
The moment that will possibly never return. {He has
slowly led her to the front of the stage.)

Antoinette {frees herself violently). Do permit me to
go by myself ! I do not need you ! I need no one !

Paul {bitterly). Very well! I shall not molest you! As
you please !


Antoinette (sits down in the chair at the left of the sofa,
seems composed again). You see I am quite calm. It
was only a temporary indisposition.

Paul {coaxinfj). May I sit do^vn near you, Antoinette?

Antoinette. What have you to say to me?

Paul, {sits dotvn in the chair before her, looks at her
squarclp, then, after a moment of devoted contempla-
tion). I am forced to look at you, Antoinette! Par-
don me ! I am forced to look at you again and again !

Antoinette. Do save up these compliments for your wife,

Online LibraryKuno FranckeThe German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) → online text (page 13 of 34)