Kuno Francke.

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

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Paul. Waited for me, and I was not conscious of it.

Missed my happiness. Staked my life for nothing!



For a delusion! Some one had to die before I could

realize what I might have enjoyed ! Too late, too late,

too late!
Antoinette {endearingly). Forget, my love! Forget!

Forget! Lay your head upon my breast!
Paul {places his head upon her bosom). A good resting

Antoinette {rocks him in her arms). Sleep, beloved!

Sleep !
Paul, {straightens up, beside himself ivith longing).

Antoinette! . . .
Antoinette. Mine again, lover of my youth!
Paul. Dearest! . . . Dearest!
Antoinette. Cruel, cruel man! . . . Mine after tireless

Paul. Idol of my heart ! . . . Safe in my arms at last !

{Pause. Rapturous embrace.)
Paul {straightens up and looks into her eyes). Is this still

sinful, sweetheart?
Antoinette {nods gravely). Still! And will remain so.
Paul {roguishly). Not to be forgiven?
Antoinette {gravely). Not to be forgiven!
Paul. x\nd yet you consent, with all your piety?
Antoinette. I do consent ! I have no other choice ! {She

leans upon his breast.)
Paul {embraces her, then with a sad smile). Never to be

forgiven, Antoinette?
Antoinette {gently). Possibly! In heaven.
Paul. Your God is inexorable, Antoinette.
Antoinette {impassioned). You are my god! I have

ceased to have another!
Paul. And would you follow me, even unto death?
Antoinette. Unto death and beyond!
Paul {is forced to smile). Even to damnation, I dare say?
Antoinette. These terrors have lost their force for both

of us!
Paul. Do you think so? Have you already come to this?


Antoinette. We have had our damnation here on earth!
Paul (jumps up). Here on earth ! But not one hour more !

Now the end is at hand!
Antoinette. Come, dear, sit down with me.
Paul. Yes, let us ponder what we are to do now. {He

sits down beside her again.)
Antoinette (nestles up to him). Not now! Not today!

Promise me !
Paul. When, when, Toinettel It must come to an end.
Antoinette. It shall! But let me determine the hour,

dearest !
Paul. You?

Antoinette, Yes, the day and the hour, do you hear?
Paul. Antoinette, if you put the matter in this way . . .

I cannot refuse, whatever you may ask!
Antoinette. Only one more day! Then I will write or

come and tell you. Will you be ready?
Paul. Then I shall be ready for anything ! Then we shall

have a reckoning. Then life shall begin all over again.
Antoinette. Yes, another life!
Paul (sadly). Even though the sun is already sinking.

. . . Possibly there is still time.
Antoinette. I shall do anything for you and you will do

anything for me. . . . We agree to that ! (They look

into each other's eyes.)
Paul (gently). Do you remember, Toinette, on this very

spot . . . ?
Antoinette. Ten years ago ? I do ! I do !
Paul. How strangely all has come about and how neces-
sary nevertheless! So predestined! So inexorable!

Fate! Fate!
Antoinette (brooding). I hung upon your lips and you

ignored me ! I had ceased to exist for you !
Paul. And so we lost each other.
Antoinette. But today, today we have found each other

once more, oh lover of my youth!
Paul. Late, Toinette, so late !


Antoinette. Heavens, how stupid I was in those days !

Paul. Stupid because you loved me, Toinette?

Antoinette. No, because I did not tell you.

Paul.. And I did not suspect it ! Now who was worse ?

Antoinette. Both of us, dear ! We were too young !

Paul. And today I am an old man!

Antoinette. And what of me . . . An old woman!

Paul. Beloved ! . . . Young and beautiful as ever. How

young you have remained all of these years!
Antoinette. For your sake, dear. I knew that I must

remain young till you would return! That is why I

insisted upon riding like a Cossack . . .
Paul. That is why?
Antoinette. And swimming like a trout in the stream!

And rowing like a sailor !
Paul. And all in order to remain young and beautiful?

. . . You vain, vain creature!
Antoinette (mysteriously). And in order to forget, you

foolish, foolish fellow!
Paul (to himself, bitterly). In order to forget!
Antoinette (taking his head in her hands). Don't think

of it! Don't think of it! Now we have found each

other again. That too is past!
Paul. Yes, all is past ! I have you and shall never leave

you! . . . (Looking up at the walls). Yes, look down

upon me out of your frames! Father and mother,

envy me! Venerable hall, rarely have you beheld

such happiness! . . .
Antoinette. Happiness and death in one, lover!
Paul. Possibly they are one and the same! (The door

at'the left is opened, both get up.)
Aunt Clara's (voice from the left). Paul, are you here?
Paul. We are here. Aunt Clara! (Noise from the left.)
Aunt Clara (comes forward). Our guests are about to go,

Antoinette. Very well! Then we'll go too. (The tivo

walk erectly into the center passage.)


Hella {has opened the door at the right, enters and sees

Paul and Antoinette with Aunt Clara). Paul!
Paul {turning around very calmly). Is it you, Hella?
Hella. As you see! {She stands immediately before

them, looks at them with a hostile expression; to

Antoinette.) I beg your pardon, madam!
Antoinette {nods her head). Please!
Paul {coldly). What do you wish?
Hella {looks at him nonplussed, is silent a moment and then

says curtly). Where is Glyszinski? I need him!
Paul {as before). There, if you please. If you will take

the trouble to step into the next room . . . (Las-

KowsKi and Glyszinski, arm in arm, enter from the

left, folloived by the other guests.)
Laskowski {very tipsy, but not completely robbed of his

senses). Brother! Polish brother! Don't leave me

in the lurch . . . Help me find my dearie!
Antoinette {with head erect). Here I am.
Laskowski {sobered at the sight of her). Why dearie,

where have you been? Have you had a long talk with

Antoinette {extends her hand to Paul). Good-by,

Doctor !
Paul. Good-by, madam! We shall see each other again!

{He looks squarely into her eye.)
Antoinette {significantly). We shall see each other again.
Laskowski. Shan't we go, dearie? Why, it's almost

Antoinette. Yes, almost evening. I am ready. {She

walks over to the right calmly and goes out. The guests

prepare to go.)
Hella {has been standing silently tvitnessing the scene, and

now approaches Paul). What does this mean, Paul?
Paul {about to gv, frigidly). A woman whom I knew in

the old days! . . . Good-by. {He leaves her and

goes out at the right with the guests.)
Hella {partly to herself, partly calling after him). Paul!

What does this mean? . . . Paul!



Afternoon, two days later. The banquet hoard and oleanders have been
removed, every trace of the funeral has been carefully obliterated. Clear
sunlight comes in from the garden windows in the background and
lights up the spacious, sombre hall. The bushes and trees of the garden
are coated with ice. The fire is burning as usual. Toward the end of the
act the sunlight gradually vanishes and a light, gray dusk fills the hall.
Aunt Clara stands at the fireplace with her arms folded over her
waist, and looks into the fire.

Paul {who has been pacing the floor, stops and passes his
hand over his hair nervously). So no letter has come,
Aunt Clara?

Aunt Claea {looking up). No, no, my boy.

Paul {impatiently). And no messenger either?

Aunt Clara. From where do you expect one?

Paul {in agony). Great God, from where? From where?
From anywhere? Some tiding! Some word! A
letter! {Paces the floor again excitedly.)

Aunt Clara. Why I can't tell. Are you expecting any-
thing from some source or other?

Paul {impetuously). Would I be asking, Aunt Clara?


Paul {violently agitated, partly to himself). Incompre-
hensible ! Incomprehensible ! Two days without news !
Two full days!

Aunt Clara {sadly). I do not comprehend you either,
my boy!

Paul {takes a few steps without heeding her). This still-
ness! This death-like stillness!

Aunt Clara {sits down). Isn't it good, when peace pre-

Paul. As you look at it. Certainly it is good ! But first
of all one must be at peace himself! Must have be-
come calm and clear about the matters that concern
one. Know what one wants to do and is expected to
do and what one is here for in this world.


Aunt Claea. But every one knows that, Paul.

Paul {without listening to her, rather to himself). Un-
canny, this silence all around one. Doubly and three-
fold one feels, how it seethes and boils within, without
one's getting anywhere. One can hear himself think!
(He stops, then in a changed voice, as he looks up.)
No no, Aunt Clara, people who have closed their ac-
count, belong in the country. Others do not! (Aunt
Clara looks at him and is silent. After a moment.)
The rest need noise, diversion, human beings about
them. One must have something in order to he able
to forget ! Some narcotic to put one to sleep ! There
are people, who do that all of their lives and are quite,
happy, who never come to themselves, are continually
living in a kind of intoxication and leave this world
without attaining real consciousness. You see, Auntie,
the city is the proper place for that. There you can
dull your feelings and forget.

Aunt Clara. I could not stand the city.

Paul. Yes, you, Aunt Clara! You are a child of the

Aunt Claea. Well, aren't you, Paul?

Paul. True! But you have never been alienated from
the soil ! I tell you the man who has once partaken of
that poison, can not give it up, he is forced to go back
to it again and again.

Aunt Clara (impatiently). One simply can't understand
you, Paul. When you arrived, you said one thing and
now you are saying another. The very idea!

Paul (is forced to smile). You fail to understand that,
you good old soul ! Of course, you do not know what
has come to pass since then. At that time I was not
at odds with myself . . .

Aunt Clara. At that time! When, pray tell? You came
on the third holiday and this is New Year's eve. You
have been here for five days.


Paul. Today it's quite a different matter. Quite
different !

Aunt Clara. What on earth has happened, pray tell!

Paul. Much, much, Aunt Clara !

Aunt Clara {probing). I suppose because they were a
bit boisterous at the funeral! That's the way of it,
you know, when they get to drinking.

Favl (negative gesture). Good heavens, no ! . . .No!

Aunt Clara. That's the way they always act at funerals.
I know of funerals where there was dancing.

Paul. Yes, yes, that may be I

Aunt Clara. And then they all were so friendly with you.

Paul. Oh, yes. With the friendliest kind of an air, they
told me not to take it into my head that I know how to

Aunt Clara. Why, Paul. You only imagine that!

Paul. The good neighbors. At bottom they are right!
How should an old man be able to learn the things
that call for the efforts of a whole life, just as any
other career does! Ridiculous! Why that simply
must have lurid consequences.

Aunt Clara (impatiently) . I should never have thought
that you would act this way, Paul !

Paul. Act what way? I am only checking over the possi-
bilities. Every business man does that ! And I tell you,
the prospects are desperately bad! I can fairly see
Laskowski establish himself here after I have lost the
place! (He has sloivly ivalked over to the garden
windoiv on the right and looks out into the garden.)


Paul (after a time). What a beautiful day! The snow is
glittering in the sunlight. The trees stand so motion-

Aunt Clara. Awfully cold out-doors, my boy!

Paul. I know it. Aunt Clara, but the light is refreshing
after all of the dark days. The old year is shining
forth once more in its full glory.



Aunt Clara. The days are getting longer again.

Paul {meditating). Didn't you tell me, once upon a time,

Auntie, that the time between Christmas and New

Year is called the holy season?
Aunt Clara. The time between Christmas and Epiphany,

Paul. If anyone dies then . . . {She suddenly stops.)
Paul {calmly). Finish it, Aunt Clara! If some one dies

then, another member of the family will follow him.

Isn't that the purport?
Aunt Clara. Why Paul, I don't know! Purport of what?

Who would believe in all of those things?
Paul. Of course not! [Brief silence.']

Aunt Clara {with her hand behind her ear). Do you here

the whips crack, Paul?
Paul {also listens). Faintly, yes. It seems to be out in

Aunt Clara. The young folks are lashing the old year

out. They always do that on New Year's Eve when

the sun goes down.
Vavl {reflecting). I know. I know. I have heard it many

a New Year's Eve. When the sun was setting.
Aunt Clara. Another one gone!
Paul {stares out). Just so it stood between the trees, and

kept on sinking and sinking, and I Vv^as a little fellow

and watched it from the window. And at last it was

down and twilight came on.
Aunt Claea. Thank God, Paul, this year is over.
Paul. Who knows what the day may still have in store

for us ! Things are taking their course.
Aunt Clara. Tonight we shall surely all take punch

together, Paul?
Paul. If we have time and the desire to do so, yes.
Aunt Clara {nervously). How you are talking, Paul!

Don't make a person afraid!
Paul {glancing at the sinking sun). Now it is directly

over the pavilion. Now we shall not enjoy it much

longer. {With a wave of his hand.) I greet thee,

sun! Sinking sun!


Aunt Claea. I was going to ask you, in regard to the

pavilion . . .
Paul (turns around). Yes I'm glad that I've thought of

it! (He comes forward and pulls the bell.)
Lene (opens the door at the right and enters). Did you

ring, sir?
Paul. Yes. My trunks, books, all of my things are to be

taken over to the garden-house. Understand?
Lene (astonished). To the garden-house?
Paul. Yes, to the pavilion. Put the rooms in proper

order. Don 't forget to make a fire. I suppose there 's

a bed there for the night?
Aunt Clara. Everything, my boy. Only it will have to

be put to rights, because no one has put up there this

many a day.
Lene. Are the madam's things also to be . . . ?
Paul. No they are not! They are to stay here!

[Aunt Claea shakes her head and turns away.]
Lene. Shall I do so immediately . . . ?
Paul. Is madam still asleep?
Lene. I think so.

Paul. Then wait till madam is up, and go there afterward.
Lene. What if madam should ask . . . ?
Paul. Then tell her that I requested you to do so.
Lene (confused). I'm to say that Mr. Warkentin has re-
quested . . .
Paul (resolutely). And you are to do what I have re-
quested. Do you understand me?
Lene. Very well, sir ! . . . And I was going to say, the

inspector has been here.
Paul. Has he? Back from town already? (Struck by

a sudden thought.) Did he possibly have a letter for

Lene. I don't know. I think he only wanted to know

about the work . . .
Paul. And there hasn't been a messenger? Say, from

Lene. No, nothing.


Paul. Then you may go. Oh yes, when the inspector
returns, you might call me. (Lene goes off to the

Paul {walks through the hall, clenching his fists ner-
vously). Nothing yet? Nothing yet? And the day
is almost gone!

Aunt Claea {with growing anxiety). What's the matter
with you, Paul? Something is brewing here!

Paul. That may be very true !

Aunt Clara. And then, that you insist upon changing
your quarters today ! It does seem to me . . . !

Paul. You can only take pleasure in that. You see by
that, that I have resolved to stay at E^^rnhof . Or I
should certainly not go to the trouble.

Aunt Clara. Yes, yes, but your wife?

Paul. Who? Hella? All the better if the matter comes
to a head. The issue is dead ripe !

Aunt Clara {approaches him anxiously). Paul, Paul!
This will not come to a good end.

Paul. Quite possible. That is not at all necessary!

Aunt Clara. And I am to blame for all.

Paul. You? Why?

Aunt Clara. I got you into it ! No one else !

Paul {is forced to smile). Innocent creature ! Individuals
quite apart from you got me into it. It has taken a
whole lifetime to bring it about! You are as little
to blame for that as you are for the fall of Adam and
the existence of the world and the fact that some day
we shall all have to die !

Aunt Clara {with her apron before her face). I told you
about Antoinette! For she is at the bottom of it!
I'll stake my head on that !

Paul. Don't torture me, Aunt Clara!

Aunt Clara. She is at the bottom of it! And I, in my
stupidity, cap the climax by leaving the two of you
alone at the funeral day before yesterday.


Paul. I shall be grateful to you for that all of my life,
Aunt Clara !

Aunt Claea. My notion was for you to have a little talk
together, and then to think what it has led to ! May
God forgive what I have done.

Paul {partly to himself). She promised me to come. And
she is not coming! She promised me to write. And
she does not write. Not a word. Not the remotest
token ! How do I know, but everything was a delusion?
Childish fancy and nothing more? The intoxication
of a moment which seized her and vanished again when
she sat in her sleigh and rode away in the winter night?
Do I know? [He puts his hand to his head.)

Aunt Clara {very uneasy). Paul, what are you talking
about? Tell me!

Tavl {jumps up tvithout listening to her). No! . . . Then
farewell Ellernhof! Farewell my home and every-
thing !

Aunt Clara. Do be quiet! What in the world is the

Paul {walks up and down impatiently, stops again, speaks
to himself in an undertone). At that time I deceived
her, deceived her without knowing and wishing to.
What if she deceives me now? What if she pays me
back? {He sinks down in the chair near the fireplace
in violent conflict with himself.)

Aunt Clara {in despair). What a calamity! What a
calamity !

Pavl, {as if shaking something off). No! No! No! . . .
it cannot but come out right. {Heaves a sigh of relief. )

Aunt Clara {joyful again). Do you see, my boy?

Paul {gloomily) . Don't rejoice prematurely. Auntie! It
seems to me that this house fosters misfortune! All
that you need to do is to look at those faces! They
all have a suggestion of melancholy and gloom. {He
looks up at the portraits pensively.) Just as if the
sun had never shone into their hearts, you know. No


air of hopefulness, no suggestion of light and freedom !
So chained to the earth! So savagely taciturn? Can
that be due to the air and soil ? It will probably assert
itself in me too, after I have been here for some time.
Possibly it would have been better, Auntie, if I had
never returned to this house! I should have con-
tinued that life of mine, not cold, not warm, not happy,
not unhappy! I should never have found out what I
have really missed and yet can never find. Possibly
it would have been better. [Short pause.]

Lene {opens the door at the right and stands in the door).
The inspector is here, sir. Shall he come in? He is
lunching just now.

Paul (gets up). No, never mind. One moment, Auntie!
(He nods to her and goes out with Lene.)

[Aunt Claea shakes her head apprehensively as she
follows hijn with her eyes, heaves a deep sigh,
occupies herself with this and that in the room,
then seems to be listening to a noise on the left.
She straightens up energetically. Presently the
door on the left is opened.']

Hella {enters, dressed in black. She looks solemn and
rather pale. She slowly approaches Aunt Clara.
The tivo face each other and eye each other for a
moment). I thought Paul was here.

Aunt Clara. Paul will surely be back any minute.

Hella. Will he? Then I shall wait. {She turns around
and starts for the window.)

Aunt Clara {hesitates a moment, then with a sudden
effort). Madam . . . Doctor . . .? {Takes a step
in the direction of Hella.)

Hella {looks around surprised). Were you saying some-

Aunt Clara (erecO- Keep an eye on Paul, madam ! . . .
That's all I have to say!

Hella {approaches). How so?

Aunt Clara. I am simply saying, keep an eye on Paul !


Hella {steps up to her, with a searching look). What is
going on? . . .

Aunt Clara, Talk to him yourself. I can't fathom it.

Hella. Then I will tell you. Do you think I am blind?
Do you suppose that I am unable to see through the
situation here? I know Paul and I know you, all of
you who are turning Paul's head!

Aunt Claea {angered). Mercy me! I, turn Paul's head!

Hella. Yes, you, and all of you around here ! I will tell
you to your face ! You are trying to set Paul against

Aunt Clara {with increasing excitement). I never set
nobody against no one ! Nobody ever said such a thing
about me! God knows! You are the first person to
do that! And on top of it all, I have the best inten-
tions ! I even want to help you ! Well, I do say . . . !
{Takes several steps through the hall.)

Hblla {tvith contemptuous laughter) . You help me? . . .
H'm! You wanted to get rid of me, and that is why
you started all this about the estate, and staying here,
and who knows what else. But I declare to you, once
and for all! Don't go to any trouble! You will not
succeed in parting Paul and me !

Aunt Clara {in spite of herself). May be not I!

Hella. Not you? ... Oh indeed! . . . Not you!

Aunt Clara {continuing in her anger). No! Not I! Of
course not! Even if you have deserved it, ten times

Hella {also continues her lead). Not you? . . . Well,
well! So it's some other woman! {She steps up
before Aunt Clara.) Son^e other w^oman is trying to
separate us, Paul and me? Is that it? Yes or no?

Aunt Clara {frightened). I haven't said a thing. I know
nothing about it.

Hella {triumphantly). I thought so! And now I grasp
the whole situation! . . . That accounts for Paul's



behavior, this strange behavior! Well, well! {She
walks to and fro excitedly, speaks partly to herself.)
But you shall not succeed! No, no! {Addressing
Aunt Clara again.) You shall not succeed! We'll
just see who knows Paul better, you or I !

Aunt Clara {very seriously). Madam, I am an old woman,
you may believe me or not, I tell you, don't carry mat-
ters too far with Paul !

H^UjA {reflecting again). So it was she! , . . The Polish
woman, of course! Didn't I know it?

Aunt Clara {almost threatening). Don't carry matters
too far! Remember what I say.

Hella {with a sudden change). Where is Paul?

Aunt Clara {anxiously) . What is the matter?

Hella {very calmly and firmly). I must speak to Paul.

Aunt Clara. Merciful God ! Now I see it coming !

Hella. Yes, I am going away and Paul is going with me.
That is the end of the whole matter. I suppose that
is not just exactly what you had expected.

Aunt Clara {petrified). And you are going to desert

Hella. It will be a long time before the estate sees us
again. Prepare for that. As for the rest, we shall
see later.

Aunt Clara {turns away). Then I might as well order my
grave at once, the sooner the better.

Hella {with an air of superiority). Don't worry! You
will be cared for.

Aunt Clara {straightening up). Not a soul needs to care
for me henceforth, madam! My way is quite clear to
me. It will not be very long. Look at the men and
women on these walls, they all followed this course.
Now I shall emulate their example. What is coming
now is no longer suitable for me. {She slowly steps to
the door with head bowed).

Hella {partly to herself). No, what is coming now is the
new world and new men and women! {She stands and


reflects for a moment, then resolutely.) New men and
women! Yes! Yes, we are ready to fight for that!
{She clasps her hands vigorously, suggesting inflexible

Paul {enters from the right, comes upon Aunt Clara, who
is going out). What ails you, Auntie? How you do

Aunt Clara {shakes her head). Don't ask me, my boy. I
have lived my life! {She goes out slowly and closes
the door.)

Paul {steps to the fireplace pondering deeply and drops
down in a chair) . What did she say? . . . Lived my
life? ... A soothing phrase! A cradle-song! No
more pain, no more care! All over! . . . Lived my
life! {Supports his head on his hand.)

[Short pause.']

Hella {steps up to Paul, lays her hand on his shoulder and
says kindly). Paul!

Paul. And?

Hella. Be a man, Paul! I beg of you.

Paul {looks up, with a deep breath). That is just what I
intend to do.

Hella. For two days you have been walking around with-

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