Kuno Francke.

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

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doctor !

Pauij (with groiving excitement). No compliments, An-
toinette ! The moment is too precious !

Antoinette. Then why don't you spare yourself the

Paul. Didn't you feel it, the very moment you came in,
Antoinette; I could not keep away from you.

Antoinette. Quite flattering!

Paul. Antoinette! Now you must listen to me to the
very end.

Antoinette. Goodness! What do you expect of me?

Paul. Or you should not have come!

Antoinette. Why in the world did I do it?

Paul {fervently, hut in an undertone) . Antoinette! You
are so wonderful! More wonderful than I have ever
seen you before!

Antoinette {sarcastically) . Oh, indeed . . . ! Possibly
you are even sorry.

VwL {straightens up, harshly). For shame, madam. Such
expressions are not suited to you ! Leave them to
others !

Antoinette {passionately). Your own fault! You have
brought mo to this!

Paul {painfidly). You have become unfeeling, Antoinette!

Antoinette. I am simply no longer that stupid little crea-
ture that you can w4nd around your finger as once upon
a time. Do you still remember that Christmas Eve,
Doctor Warkentin?


Paul. I remember it all, Antoinette. Why on that even-
ing my life was decided.

ANTOiisrETTE. So was mine. In this very hall. I sat at
this very place and you before me as now. There is
such a thing as providence. I have always believed
in that! But now I see it with my own eyes. God
in heaven will not be mocked! On my knees I have
prayed to him ... I

Paul (frightened). Antoinette!

Antoinette (furiously). On my knees I prayed for him
to punish you.

Paul. Toinette, you are mad! What awful injury did I
inflict upon you?

Antoinette (5Cor^/i<%). You upon me? Oh, none at all !
Did you know about me at all? You scorned me!
What, that stupid little thing wants me, the great man !
Who am I and what is she ! Off with her.

Paul. Toinette !

Antoinette (filled with hatred). Yes, off with her. And
I did throw myself away ! I knew all the time it would
spell misfortune for me if I married this . . . this

Paul (starts up). Is that the way matters stand?

Antoinette. Yes, indeed, that's the way they stand. I
don't think of making a secret of it. The whole world
knows it. It is shouted from the house-tops!

Paul (clenches his fists). The dog!

Antoinette. It's easy for you to use strong terms now.
You hounded me into it ! I owe it all to you. But one
consolation has remained for me. I have become un-
happy. But so are you ! And that is why I have come.

Paul (straightens up). What does this mean, Antoinette?

Antoinette. Heavens ! Simple enough ! You do take an
interest in the woman that has been preferred to you.
You would like to make the acquaintance of such a

Paul (offended). You are malicious, madam!


Antoinette. Not at all. I only wanted to see, with my
own eyes, liow happy you are. But I am quite suf-
ficiently informed. One only needs to take a look at

Paul (painfully). Are you satisfied now?

Antoinette (from the bottom of her heart). Yes.

Paul. Are you compelled to detest me?

Antoinette. Do you expect me to thank you?

Paul (fervently). Does it really make you happy to talk
to me in this manner, Antoinette?

Antoinette. Happy or not, what I have vowed before
the altar, I shall not fail to keep.

Paul (earnestly and sadly). I am the last person to hinder
you, Toinette! But I surely may look at you? Will
you forbid that?

Antoinette (struggling with herself). Don't talk to me in
this manner!

Paul (excited). Just look into your face, Antoinette, the
few moments that remain ! Stamp upon my mind how
much I have lost! Look into your eyes, just once
more ! Into your wonderful eyes !

Antoinette (jumps up). Don't talk to me in this manner,
I say. I haven't deserved it!

Paul (has also risen, seises her hand). Antoinette, I have
found none of the things that I was seeking. I have
been miserably deceived! Are you satisfied now?
[Antoinette sinks hack into her chair, begins to sob

Paul (wildly). Why aren't you glad? (He strides
through the hall.)

[Antoinette chokes doivn her sohs.]

Paul (comes back again, boivs doivn to her). Weep,
Antoinette! Weep! I wish I could. (He softly
presses a kiss upon her hair). [^Silence.']

Antoinette (jumps up). I must go! Where is my hus-
band? I must have fresh air! My head! (She looks


Paul {takes her arm). Yes, fresh air, Toinette, there we
shall feel less constraint. It is fine outside, the snow
is falling. Everything is white. Everything is old.
Just as both of us have become, Toinette.

Antoinette (?eanm^ ow /lim). I am so afraid ! So terribly
afraid !

Paul {leading her to the door) . You will feel better. Snow-
is soothing. Come and I will tell you about my life.
Possibly you will forgive me then, Antoinette? {He
looks at her imploringly and extends his hand to her).

Antoinette {hesitates a moment, then opening her eyes
widely she lays her hand in his). Possibly! . . .

Vajji. {happy). Thank you, Toinette ! Thank you! . . .
And now come.

Antoinette {on his arm, sadly). Where shall we go?

Paul. To the park, Toinette, to the brook, do you remem-
ber, to the alders?

Antoinette {nods). To the alders, I remember.

Paul. Out into the snow, to seek our childhood.

[He slowly leads her out at the right.']


The same hall as on the preceding days. The two corners in the fore-
ground, on the right the fireplace ivith its chairs, on the left the sofa
and other furniture are both separated from the centre and background
of the hall by means of a rectangular arrangement of oleanders in pots,
thus affording two separate cozy corners, between whose high borders
of oleander a somewhat narrow passage leads to the background.
A banquet board in the form of a horseshoe, the sides of which
run to the rear and are hidden by the oleanders. The centre, forming
the head of the board, is plainly visible from the passage. It is almost
noon. Dim light, reflected from the snow outside, comes in through the
middle window of the back wall, a view of which is afforded through the
opening in the centre. The snowflakes flutter down drearily as on the
previous day. The fire now and then casts a red light upon the oleanders,
which separate the space surrounding the fireplace from the back-
ground. Aunt Clara, in mourning as before, and Lene, also dressed in
black, are busy at the table, which has been set. They move to and fro
arranging plates, glasses and bottles. After a moment.


Aunt Clara (comes forward in the direction of the pas-
sage, inspects the whole arrangement and speaks to
Lene ivho is occupied in the background, where she
cannot he seen). Are all of the knives and forks
properly arranged back there ?

Lene (not visible). Everything's in order, Miss Clara.

Aunt Clara. Why, then v/e are through.

Lene. They can come right along now.

Aunt Clara. I can't help but think that it's time for the
bell. (The old clock in the corridor outside begins to

Lene [has come forward) . It's striking twelve.

Aunt Clara. You're certain, are you, that the roast is
being basted properly?

Lene. Oh, Lizzie's looking after things.

Aunt Clara. The sermon seems to be pretty long.

Lene. Oh, he can never find- his finish. Miss Clara.

Aunt Clara. Let him talk, for all I care ! Only T might
have put off the dinner.

Lene (listens). Now the bell is ringing. (Distant, indis-
tinct tones of a church bell are heard.)

Aunt Clara (also listens). Yes, they are ringing. Then
it is over. (She folds her hands as if in prayer.)

Lene (timidly). Now the coffin's in the ground, ain't it,
Miss Clara?

Aunt Clara (murmurs). God grant him eternal peace!

Lene (also with hands folded). Amen!

Aunt Clara (continues murmuring). And light everlast-
ing shine for him!

Lene (as before). Amen!

Aunt Clara (partly to herself). I should have been glad
to pay him the last honor, but it ivas impossible. What
would have become of the roast? We shall see each
other in the next world anyhow. It will not be very

Lene (comforting her). Oh, Miss Clara.


Aunt Clara {seizes her arm). Don't stand there! Do

your work! They will surely be here directly, (Counts

the places.) Six . . . eight . . . twelve . . .

sixteen . . . eighteen . . , twenty . . . twenty-
two . . .
Lene. That's the number. There are eight sleighs.
Aunt Claea. Go and open the door of the green room!
Lene {goes off to the left). What ivill Mrs. Warkentin say

to that?
Aunt Claea. I will attend to that. It can't be helped

today. We shall have to use the rooms for our coffee

Lene {returns). She'll make a nice fuss!
Aunt Claea. Off with you now. They are coming. Take

the ladies and gentlemen into the front rooms until

we have the dinner on the table. Then you can go and

call them.
Lene. Very well, Miss Clara. (Quickly off to the right.)
[Short pause, during which Aunt Claea stands lis-
tening. Then Hella enters from the right, dressed
in black.]
Hella {with a quick glance to the left, then to Aunt Claea

who has retreated to the background). AVhat is the

matter with my room? Why are the doors open?
Aunt Claea. The guests certainly must have some place

where they can relax a bit, later on.
Hella {nonplussed). In my rooms?
Aunt Claea. They surely can't sit around in this one

place the whole afternoon. They must take their coffee

Hella {from the left). Why I do say . . . ! Really!

All of my books are gone!
Aunt Claea {indifferently). I put things to rights a bit,

madam. Why I coiddn't leave them as they were. I

took the books upstairs.
Hella. Upstairs! Very well, then that's where I will go.

{Starts out toivard the right.)


Paul {enters and runs into Hella). Where are you going?

Hella. I am going upstairs.

Paul. Where are you going!

Hella. Upstairs. I can't find a nook down here today
where I might rest.

Paul. So you really refuse to dine with us?

Hella {places her hand on his arm). Spare me the agony,
Paul! You know I can't endure so many strangers.
It will give me a headache.

Paul. Stay a short time at least! Show that much con-
sideration !

Hella {retreats a step). Consideration . . . No one
shows me any consideration!

Paul {pacing up and down). Nice mess, when not even
the nearest relatives . . .

Hella. Why, you are to be present.

Paul. But you must be present! I desire it, Hella!

Hella. And what if I simply cannotf

Paul {plants himself before her). W\vy not?

Hella. Because I cannot. Because I hate these feeds!

Yavl {more calmly). That is correct. So do I! But what
can we do about it? It is the custom.

Hella. Custom, Paul, custom! . . . Have we founded
our life upon old customs?

Paul {embittered). If we only had!

Hella {looks at him sharply). Do you think so?

Paul. Yes, possibly we should have fared better.

Hella {very emphatically) . And then, my dear, I will tell
you one thing more. You are compelling me to do so.

Paul. And that is?

Hella. I don't care to lie.

Paul. What do you mean by that?

Hella. I don't care to feign, to these people, feelings
that are entirely absent. That is why I am going up-

Paul {very calmly). Does that refer to . . . the dead?


Hella. Yes, it does ! I did not know him and he did not
know me! Did not care to know me. What obligations
remain for me? None at all.

Paul. Are you serious?

Hella (bolt iipright). In all seriousness. Now it is out.

Paul {quite calm). Very well, then go!

Hella. I'll see you later. {She goes toward the right.)

Paul {struggles for composure, then suddenly). Hella!
For my sake . . . Do not go. Stay here!

Hella {turns to him). No, Paul, one should not force him-
self to do such things. Put the responsibility upon
your father ! I am not to blame. I am only acting as
I must. You would do the same. [Off at theright.~\

Paul {beside himself). It's Avell that you are reminding
me of that.

Aunt Claea {approaches). Shall I remove your wife's

Paul. Yes, take the plate away.

Aunt Claea. Have you seen the Laskowskis?

Paul. Yes, at the cemetery, Auntie. I shall go now and
call the guests. {Goes off.)

[Aunt Claea ivalhs toward the right, shaking her
head, then pulls the bell.]

Lene {comes in from the right, behind the scene). What
is it. Miss Clara?

Aunt Claea. Have the soup brought in ! It will take me
some time to fill all of the plates, anyhow.

Lene. Very well !

Aunt Claea. Now where are you to serve? And where
is the coachman to serve? You haven't forgotten?

Lene. I am to serve on the right and the coachman on
the left. Is that right?

Aunt Claea. Yes, you may go! And don't forget, all

serving is to be done by way of the green room! Be

sure not to come in from this side! [Lene goes off.']

[Aunt Claea retires to the background, ivhere she

is occupied for some time, without being very much

in evidence. The door at the right is opened.]


Paul (still hidden to view). Come in, ladies and gentle-
men! In this way! (von Tiedemann, Mrs. von Tiede-
MANN, De. Bodenstein, Raabe, father and son, Mer-
TENs, KuNZE, Mrs. Borowski, Schnaase, Mrs.


enter and dispose themselves in groups before and he-
hind the Oleanders.)
Raabe, Sr. (puts his hand up to his side). I don't know,

but that cemetery put a stitch into my side.
Schnaase. Yes, that was a nasty, cold snow\ If we only

get something to eat soon! ... So we can warm

VON Tiedemann. Ought to be a bit careful of yourself at

your age, Mr. Raabe!
Raabe. Why, how old am I? Seventy!
VON Tiedemann. Not worth mentioning, eh? Prime of

life! . . . How old was Warkentin?
Schnaase. Why we just heard about that in the sermon,

sixty- two !
VON Tiedemann. Not very old!
Raabe. Yes, that's the way they go . . .
Schnaase. To the grand army, eh Raabe, old boy? Who

knows when we will get our orders.
Raabe. It will be our turn next.
VON Tiedemann. Don't say that! It is not a matter of

age ! Look at Warkentin, did he give evidence of his

Schnaase. The affair with his son put him over, or he

would be here today.
von Tiedemann (looks around). Why, where is the young

Schnaase. Pretty nice fellow in other respects !
VON Tiedemann. He will have a deuce of a time if ho

intends to farm here. You can't pick that up helter

skelter. Has any one heard? Does he intend to take

it on? Or is he going to sell?


[He turns toward the rear. Meanwhile Laskowski,

Antoinette, Paul, and Glyszinski have entered

from the right and have joined a group of guests

in the background.]

Raabe. In the old days the son always followed in the

footsteps of his father. The son of a land-owner be-
came a land-owner. That's all out of style now.

Everybody goes to school.
Schnaase. Well, your son is doing that very thing, Raabe.
Raabe, Jr. {has come forward). Good morning, Mr.

Schnaase !
Schnaase. Good morning, brother student!
Raabe, Jr. Well, pa?
Raabe. Well, my son?

Schnaase. Keeping right after beerology, young man?
Raabe, Jr. Purty well, thanks ! A fellow guzzles his way

Schnaase. How many semesters does this make, Mr.

Raabe, Jr. Mebbie you 'd better not ask about that.
Raabe. How many semesters ? Twelve! Isn't that it, my

Raabe, Jr. Astoundingly correct!
Schnaase. Then I suppose you'll tackle the examinations

one of these days, Mr. Raabe?
Raabe, Jr. There's plenty of time.
Raabe. Just let him study his fill ! I'm not at all in favor

of too much hurry! He'll get office and emoluments

soon enough.
Schnaase. I know one thing, my boy will not get into a

gymnasium! The agricultural school for him, till he

can qualify for the one year's service and off with him.

No big notions for him!
Raabe (holds his side). Outch, there's my stitch again!
Raabe, Jr. Take a whisky, pa! Shall I get us a couple?
Raabe. A few fingers might not do any harm.


ScHNAASE. Have the girl before you kiss her, according

to Lehmann.*
Raabe, Jr. What '11 you bet? I can get some! {He

hastens to the rear.)
Raabe. Diwel of a fellow !
ScHNAASE. Well now, I'd just like to see. {Both of them

follow Raabe, Jr. to the rear.)

Mrs. von Tiedemann and Mrs. Schnaase come from the left arm in arr.u

Mrs. von Tiedemann {with a glance at the arrangements).

That is not exactly extraordinary.
Mrs. Schnaase. Oh, I don't know, Elizabeth, I find it quite

Mrs. von Tiedemann. And the wife does not seem to be

much in evidence.
Mrs. Schnaase. Yes, she seems a bit high toned.
Mrs. von Tiedemann. Quite a hit. I wonder what kind

of notions she has about the society that she has en-
countered here !
Mrs. Schnaase. Do you think they will stay here?
Mrs. von Tiedemann. Such creatures blow in from Berlin,

puff up like a turkey gobbler. I'd hate to know about

her past!
Mrs. Schnaase. Mrs. Laskowski looks pretty interesting

Mrs. von Tiedemann. Do you think so? Well, perhaps

she has her reasons.
Mrs. Schnaase. You don't say! Do tell.
Mrs. von Tiedemann. Don't you know about it at all?
Mrs. Schnaase. Why no, what? I don't get out very

much, you know.
Mrs. von Tiedemann. It was before your day. You were

not here then. I have a dim recollection, when I was

quite a young girl.
Mrs. Schnaase {all ear, seizes her arm). Is it possible?

What was it?

* Nickname of Emperor William I, who according to popular report took
an interest in girls.


Mrs. von Tiedemann (subdued). She had an affair with

him . . .
Mes, Schnaase. With whom, pray tell?
Mrs. von Tiedemann. The man with whom she is standing

Mrs. Schnaase. Why that is young Mr. Warkentin.
Mrs. VON Tiedemann. Pst. They are coming. {Quite sub-
dued.) Later she married her husband out of spite,

because she did not get him!
Mrs. Schnaase (squints curiously at Antoinette). To

think that she would still talk to him !
Mrs. von Tiedemann. Heavens, what does she care! (To

Dr. Bodenstein, tvho is quietly conversing with Mer-

TENS at the fireplace.) Doctor, just a word!
Dr. Bodenstein. At your service, madam! (He

straightens up promptly and hastens to her.)
Mrs. von Tiedemann. I only wanted to ask about a trifling

matter, Doctor.
Dr. Bodenstein. I shall be delighted, madam.
Mrs. von Tiedemann. But no one must hear us. (Both

disappear to the rear.)
Mertens (has also stepped out from the recess of the fire-
place, to Mrs. Schnaase). If you are willing to put up

with me for the present, madam?
Mrs. Schnaase. Oh, thank you very much! But I

might . . .
Mertens. Please, please, madam! May I offer you my

arm? (He takes her arm.)
JosuPEiT (has rushed up to the two from the background) .

Too late ! Just my luck ! I was about to report !
Mertens. You will have to get up a bit earlier the next

time, my dear fellow; I shall take you to the table,

JosTJPEiT (from the other side). Take me to the table dear,

good madam! I'll tell you something quite interesting

Paul (has come foriuard ivith Antoinette). We shall eat

immediately, Mr. Mertens.



Mertens. Please, please, as concerns me! (He escorts
Mrs. Schnaase.)

JosuPEiT {catches sight of Paul, suddenly assumes a fu-
nereal air). My heartfelt sympatliy, Mr. Warkentin!
(He seizes his hand and shakes it.)

Paul, (reserved). I thank you!

JosuPEiT (is silent for a moment, then continues). An-
other man of honor gone. (Paul nods silently. Josu-
PEiT again after a brief silence.) Terribly sudden!

Paul (nods again and says). But I must not detain you,
Mr. Josupeit!

JosuPEiT. Once more, my heartfelt sympathy!

[Josupeit and the rest go off to the rear.]

Paul (to Antoinette who has stepped forward to the right
near the fireplace). You see, madam, that's the way
of it ! Just back from the cemetery. One buried for-
ever, and the next moment all of their thoughts some-
where else. Joyous and of good cheer.

Antoinette (stares into the fire, bitterly). Yes, that's the
way of it !

Paul. Life rolls on merrily. The dead are dead. We
shall have the same fate some day, madam.

Antoinette. Of course we shall. It is immaterial to me.

Paul (looks at her). Really?

Antoinette. It does not matter to me, whether it comes
today or tomorrow. Sometime I shall have to go ! So
the quicker the better. It is all over with me !

Paul. Antoinette !

Antoinette. You may believe me, I am quite serious!

Paul (completely absorbed, as he looks at her). How
calmly you say that! In the very bloom of life! I
cannot think of you thus.

Antoinette. How ?

Paul. Cold and dead.

Antoinette. But I can. Very well indeed. I am so now !

Paul. That isn't true, Antoinette. Your eyes tell a dif-
ferent story!
Vol. XX— 12


Antoinette {shrugging her shoulders). Never mind my

Paul. But I can't help it. I must look into them ! I feel
as if I must find something there.

Antoinette [turning aivay). Don't go to any trouble!

Paul. Indeed, indeed, Antoinette!

Antoinette. What in the world could you find?

Paul. . . . Possibly my lost life?

Antoinette (excited). Why do you speak so to me, Paul?

Paul. Do I hear it from your lips, Paul, Paul, as of old?

Antoinette (frightened). Paul! Paul! Desist!

Paul. It has been a long time since I have heard that
sound !

Antoinette. Desist, at least for today, I beg of you ! It
seems like a sin to me!

Paul. Why like a sin?

Antoinette. You were just remarking about the rest, and
now you are doing the same thing, forgetting the dead.

Paul. I — forget him? I am thinking of him incessantly !
And of his last words, before we parted forever ! Do
you know what they were, Toinette?

Antoinette (subdued). Tell me!

Paul. " Go ! Some day you will be sorry ! " . . . Pos-
sibly he was right, the dear old man! Today it kept
resounding from his open grave, as the clods and
lumps of snow rumbled down on his coffin. ' ' Are you
sorry now? Are you sorry now? " . . .1 have tried
to get rid of it, but it refuses to go. It keeps pursuing
me and cries into my ears !

Laskowski (has approached the tiuo). Well, dearie, how
are you? What are you doing?

Antoinette (turns around, as if recoiling from something
poisonous). Oh, it's you!

Laskowski. Who would it be? Ain't it up to me to look
after my dearie now and then. Shan't we eat? They
are all sitting down.



Paul {has become composed). Your husband is quite
right, madam. We are the last. Unfortunately Mrs.
Warkentin is not very well. May I request you to play
the part of the hostess a bit?

Antoinette {distressed). If it must be, Doctor . . .

Paul {looks at her). Yes, there is no help for it, madam.
{Escorts her through the passage to the table.)

Laskowski {following them). And I, old boy. Where am
I to go?

Pavl, {grimly). Wherever you please ! The world is wide
and there is room for all. {He leads Antoinette
around the table to her place.)

Laskowski. I guess the shortest way is the best! I'm
going to sit right here. {He sits down beside Mrs.
VON TiEDEMANN, all the rest have also gradually taken
their places. The order at the visible central portion
of the table is as folloivs, from left to right: Outside,
KuNZE, Laskowski, Mrs. von Tiedemann, Director
Mertens, Mrs. Schnaase; opposite these inside, Mrs.
BoROwsKi, Paul, Antoinette, Mr. von Tiedemann,
Dr. Bodenstein. During the ivhole of the following
scene they are eating and drinking. Lene and Fritz,
in livery, move to and fro, serving. Aunt Clara comes
in and goes out as the occasion demands. She has her
seat with those who are hidden and whose voices are
only heard at times. At first the conversation remains

KuNZE {rises). Ladies and gentlemen! Before sitting
down at the board, to regale ourselves with food and
drink, does it not involve upon us to devote a few
w^ords to the memory of the beloved deceased, whose
mortal remains we have todav conducted to the last
resting place. And how can we do that more fittingly,
ladies and gentlemen, than by recalling the words
recorded in holy writ. Ladies and gentlemen, what
are the words of the psalmist? The days of our years
are three-score years and ten; and if, by reason of


strength, they be four-score years, yet is their strength

labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly

away! Ladies and gentlemen! He who no longer

dwells in our midst in the body, but whose spirit is

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