Kuno Francke.

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

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out saying a word. That surely cannot continue.

Paul. That will not continue, I am sure.

Hella. Why don't you speak? What have I done to you?

Paul {bitterly). You to me? . . . Nothing.

Hella. See here, Paul, I stayed here on your account,
longer than I had intended and than seems justifiable
to me.

Paul. Why did you? I did not ask you again.

Hella. Quite right. I did it of my own accord. Now
don't you think that counts for more, Paul? {She
closely draws up a chair and sits down facing Paul.)

Paul. Up to the day before yesterday anything would
have counted ^vdth me. Today no longer, Hella!

Vol. XX— 14


Hella {eagerly). I remained because I kept in mind that
it might be agreeable to you to have me near you. I
have given you time to come to yourself again. I know
very well what is going on in you.

Paul. Hardly !

Hella. Indeed, Paul, indeed! You have seen the soil of
your boyhood home again. You have buried your
father. I understand your crisis completely.

Paul. Really! All at once!

Hella. From the very beginning!

Paul. I did not realize very much of it!

Hella {interrupting him). Simply because I thought it
would be best to let you settle that for yourself.
That is why I have not interfered; allowed you to
go your own way, these days. (Paul shrugs his
shoulders and is silent.) Does all this fail to con-
vince you?

Paul {distressed). Drop that, Hella.

Hella {excited). What does this mean, Paul! We must
have an understanding!

Paul. That is no longer possible for us, Hella !

Hella. It certainly has been, up to the present. How
often we have quarreled in these years, and sailed into
each other, and we have always found our way back
to each other again for the simple reason that we
belong together! Why in the world should that be
impossible now?

Paul {struggles with himself; jumps up). Because . . .
Because . . . {Groping for words.)

Hella {has become calm). Well, because? . . . Possibly
because I did not care to stay down here, day before
yesterday, did not dine with your guests when you
asked me to do so ? Is that it ?

Paul. That and many other things.

Hella {gets up). Paul, don't be petty! I really can't bear
to hear you talk in this manner. Are you so completely
unable to enter into my feelings? I could not share
your sorrow. Your father did not give me any occa-


sion for that. I do not wish to speak ill of him, but

I cannot forget it. After all, that is only human !
Paul. So the dead man stands between us. AVhy don't

you say so frankly!
Hella. If you insist, yes. At least, for the moment ! I

was not able to stay w^ith you. I had to be alone.
Paul. Then blame yourself for the consequences! You

deserted me at a moment when simply everything was

unsettling me . . .
Hella {interrupts him). Oh, you suppose I don't know

what you mean?
Paul (excited). Well?
Hella. Shall I tell you?

Paul {controlling himself with difficulty). Please!
Hella {triumphantly). Dear Paul! Just recall the lady

with the ashy -blonde hair, for a moment !
Paul {embarrassed). What lady?
Hella. Why, Paul ? The one with whom I saw you after

the banquet, day before yesterday. Your aunt was

there too, wasn't she?
Paul {affecting surprise). You seem to refer to Madam

von Laskowski.
Hella {smiling). Quite right. The Polish beauty! Was

it not that?
Paul {beside himself). Hella?
Hella (as fee/ore). Don't become furious, Paul! There's

no occasion at all for that ! I am not reproaching you

in the least ! On the contrary, I am of the opinion that

you were quite right !
Paul {comes nearer, plants himself before her). AVhat are

you trying to say? What does all this mean?
Hella {with a very superior air). We had quarreled, you

were furious, wanted to revenge yourself, looked about

for a fitting object and naturally hit upon . . . whom?
Paul {turns away). Why it's simply idiotic to continue

answ^ering such questions ! {He walks through the hall

excitedly. )


Hella. Hit upon whom? . . , With the kind of taste
that you do seem to have . . .

Paul. Hella, I object to that!

Hella. Why, I am absolutely serious, Paul! You can't
expect me to question your taste! I should com-
promise my own position. No, no, I really agree with
you, of all those present she was decidedly the most
piquant. The typical beauty that appeals to men!
Of course you hit upon her, probably courted her,
lavished compliments upon her, all the things that you
men do when you suppose that you are in the presence
of an inferior woman . . .

Paul. Hella, now restrain yourself! Or I may tell you
something . . .

Hella. Very well, let us even suppose that you fell in
love with her for the time and she with you, that you
went into ecstasy over each other and turned each
other's heads, then you parted and the next day the
intoxication passed off, and, if not on the next day,
then on the following one . . . Am I not right? Do
you expect me to be jealous of such a thing as that?
No, Paul!

Paul (in supreme excitement, struggling with himself).
You are a demon ! A demon !

Hella {has become serious). I am your friend, Paul!
Believe me! I desire nothing but your own good,
simply because I care for you and because, I'll be
frank with you, I should not want to lose you. You
may be convinced of it, Paul, conceited as it may sound,
but you will never find another woman like me ! One
with whom you can share everything! I don't know
what you may have said to the Polish woman or what
she may have said to you, but do you really suppose
that she still knows about that today, even though the
most fervent vows were exchanged?

Paul (jumps up). Hella, Hella, you do not know what you
are saying.


Hella. Would you teach me to know my own sex? They
aren't all like me, dear Paul. You have been spoiled
by me. Very few, indeed, have attained maturity as
yet, or even know what they are doing. You can
depend upon very few of them. It seems to me that
we are in the best possible position to know that, Paul,
after our years of work. And I am to fear such com-
petition? Expect me to be jealous of a Polish country
beauty? Me, — Hella Bernhardy! . . . No, Paul, I
have been beyond that type of jealousy for some time!
{She walks up and down slotvly.)

Paul (stands at the windoiv, struggling with himself).
Would it not be better to say that you have never
had it?

Hella. Possibly! There are some who consider that an

Paul. Theorists, yes ! The kind that / was, once upon a
time. But now I know better ! Now I know that the
absence of jealousy was nothing but an absence of love.

Hella {energetically). That is not true, Paul. I always
cared for you!

Paul. Cared! Cared! A fine word!

Hella, Why should you demand more than that? I re-
spected you, Paul, valued you as my best friend !

Paul. All but a little word, a little word . . .

Hella. What is that?

Paul. Imagine !

Hella. I know what you are thinking of! I am not a
friend of strong words, but if you insist upon hearing
it, I have loved you too!

Paul. You . . . me!

Hella. Yes, I have loved you, Paul, for what you were,
the unselfish idealist . . .

Paul {bitterly). Oh, indeed!

Hella. Yes, Paul ! Do not forget about one thing ! I am
not one of these petty little women, to whom men are


the alpha and omega ! If you assumed that, of course
you have been mistaken.

Paul. To be sure ! And the mistake has cost me my life !

Hella. You knew it beforehand, Paul!

Paul. Because I was blinded !

Hella, And yet I tell you, say what you please, leave me
for instance, but you will not find another woman who
can satisfy you after you have had me ! I know it and
will stake my life on it !

Paul. Do you rate yourself so highly?

Hella. I am rating you highly, Paul !

Paul {wavering). Do you mean to say I am ruined for
happiness? . . . Possibly you are right.

Hella. Whoever has once become accustomed to the
heights of life, will never again descend.

Paul {repeats to himself). Will never again descend.

Hella. You are too good for a woman of the dead level !
See here, Paul, I have at times made life a burden to
you, I now and then refused to enter upon many things
just because my head was full of ideas, possibly I have
been too prone to disregard your emotional nature.

Paul. Hella, do not remind me of that !

Hella. We must come to an understanding, Paul ! All of
that may be true. And there shall be a change. There
will be a change, that much I promise you today, but
show me the kindness, pack your things and come with
me! Today rather than tomorrow! {She has stepped
up to him and places her hands on his shoulders.)

Paul {in the most violent conflict). Hella! Hella!

Hella. Look into my face, Paul! Are you happy here?

Paul {lowers his head). Do not ask me, Hella!

Hella {triumphantly). Then you are not! Didn't I know
it ? I am proud of you for that, Paul !

Paul {blurting out). Hella, do not exult! I cannot go
back again!

Hella {undaunted). Yes you can! Are these people here
meant for you? Do you mean to say that you are


suited to these peasants? You, with your refined in-
stincts"? You would think of degrading yourself con-
sciously! Nobody can do that, you least of all! I
tell you once more, you are too good for these rubes!

Paul, {frees himself from her). Give me time till this even-
ing, Hella! Then I will give you a full explanation!

Hella {seizes his hand). Not thirty minutes, Paul! You
are to decide at once ! As I have you at this moment,
I shall possibly never have you again. Pack your
trunk and come with me ! Have some one manage the
estate. We will go back tomorrow morning and begin
the new life with the new year. Thank your stars
when you are once more out of this stuffy air. It
induces thoughts in you that can never make you
happy. Say yes, Paul, say that we are going !

Paul {has not listened to the last words, listens to what is
going on outside). Do you hear, Hella? {He frees
himself and goes to the foreground. One can hear
people singing outside, accompanied hy a deep-toned

Hella {impatiently). What in the world is that!

Paul. I have an idea, the people of the estate, coming to
proclaim Saint Sylvester, {The door at the right is

Glyszinski {enters, makes a sign suggesting silence, points
toward the outside). Do you hear that instrument,
madam? That's what they call a pot harp, very inter-
esting !

Hella {as before). Interesting or not. Why must you dis-
turb us just now?

Glyszinski {offended). If I had known this, I should not
have come! {About to go out.)

Paul {quite cold again). Stay right here, dear Glyszinski!
You haven't disturbed us up to the present! I do not
see that you are disturbing us now !

Inspector {comes in through the open door). Sir, the
people are outside with the pot harp and want to sing
their song.


Hella {annoyed). Oh, tell them to go and be done with it!
Paul {quickly). No, please, Hella, that won't do. That is
an old custom here on New Year's eve. Let them sing
their song. Besides, I like to hear it. I heard it many
a time in my boyhood days.
Inspector. Shall I leave the door open, sir?
Paul. Please! {He sits down at the fireplace.)
Hella {steps up to him, with a voice that betrays excite-
ment). Paul, do not listen to that nonsense out there!
Don't let them muddle your head!
Paijl. My head is clearer than ever, Hella! Don't go to
any further trouble ! I can see my way quite plainly
Hella {retreats to the sofa, embittered). And now that
old trumpery must interfere too!

[Inspector stands at the door with Glyszinski,
motions to those outside. A brief silence, then
singing to the accompaniment of the pot harp.
The lines run as follows:^

We wish our dear lord

At his board, a full dish,

And at all four corners

A browTi roasted fish :

A crown for our dame ;

When the year's course is run

The joy of all joys,

A lusty young son.

Hella. Will that continue much longer, Paul?

[Paul gets up, motions to the inspector and goes out
with him. The door is closed behind them. The
muffled tones of the pot harp and the singing can
still be heard, but the text becomes unintelligible.
Glyszinski, who also has been listening till now,
starts to go out.l

Hella {from the sofa). One moment. Doctor!

Glyszinski {absent-minded). Were you calling me?


Hella. Why, yes, now that you are here, I might as well
make use of the occasion.

Glyszinski (approaches, somewhat reserved). What can
I do for you, madam?

Hella. Dear friend, do not be startled. We shall have
to part.

Glyszinski (staggering). Part? We? . . .

Hella (calmly). Yes, Doctor, it must be!

Glyszinski. Why, who compels us to? No one!

Hella (frigidly). My decision compels us, dear friend!
Is that sufficient for you?

Q-LYSziiiSKi (whimpering). Your decision, Hella? You are

Hella. Yes, I myself am sorry, of course. I shall prob-
ably miss you quite frequentlj^!

Glyszinski (as before). Hella!

Hella. Especially in connection with my correspondence.
You have certainly been a real help to me there. I
shall have to carry that burden alone again, now. But
what is to be done about it? No other course is pos-
sible. We must part.

Glyszinskl But why? At least, give me a reason ! Don't
turn me out in this fashion.

Hella. It is necessary on account of my husband, dear
friend! I must make this sacrifice for hiiiL

Glyszinski (raging). The monster! (He paces through
the hall wildly.)

Hella (with clarity). You know, it cannot be denied that
Paul can't bear you, that he is always annoyed when
he sees you . . .

Glyszinski. Do you suppose the reverse is not true?

Hella. Yes, you men are exasperating. No one can eradi-
cate your jealousy! That makes an unconstrained
intercourse impossible ! But what is to be done ? Paul
is my husband, not you. And so I am compelled to
request you to yield.


Glyszinski {with his hands raised). Kill me, Hella, but
don't turn me out.

Hella (wards him off). A pleasant journey. You will be
able to find comfort.

Glyszinski. I shall be alone, Hella!

Hella (straightening up). All of us are!

Glyszinski. May I ever see you again, Hella f

Hella. Possibly later! And now go! I do not care to
have my husband find you here when he comes. Why
here he is now. (She pushes him over toward the
right, the door has been opened and the singing has
ceased in the meantime.)

Paul (has entered, sees Glyszinski, frigidly). Are you
still here? If you wish to talk together, I'll go out.

Hella (comes over to Paul). Please stay, Paul! Glys-
zinski has just been telling me that he is going to take
the night train back to Berlin and he is asking you
for a sleigh. Isn't that it. Doctor? (Glyszinski nods
silently, passes by Paul and goes out at the right.)

Paul (frigidly). Wliat's the use of this farce?

Hella (places her hand on his shoulder). Not a farce,
Paul ! It is really true ! When we get to Berlin tomor-
row evening, you will no longer find Glyszinski at our
rooms! Are you satisfied now? Have I finally suc-
ceeded in pleasing you, you grumbler!

Paul (turns away, clenching his fists nervously). Oh,

Hella. Look into my face, Paul, old comrade! Tell me
if you are pleased with your comrade. (Paul is

Hella (frowning). Now isn't that a proof to you of my
fidelity and sincerity?

Paul. Do not torment me, Hella. My decision is final!

Hella (worried). I don't know what you mean! Surely
the matter is settled. We are going, aren't we? (She
looks at him anxiously.)


Paul {frees himself from her). That is not settled! I
shall remain! [A moment of silence.']

Hella (furiously). You are going to remain?

Paul (curtly). I shall remain . . . And no power on
earth will swerve me from my purpose ! Not even you,
Hella !

Hella (plants herself before him). Are you trying to play
the part of the stronger sex? Eye to eye, Paul! No
evasions now! Are you playing the farce of the
stronger sex?

Paul. I do what I must do I

Hella. What you must? . . . Well so must 7.

Paul (boivs his head). I know that, and I am not hinder-
ing you!

Hella (reflects a moment, then). And do you realize that
that practically means separation for us ?

Paul. I have already told you, Hella, I am prepared for

Hella (looks at him sharply; with quick decision). And
what if I stay also, Paul, what then?

Pavl. (is startled). If you also . . . ? You are not seri-
ous about that!

Hella. Assume that I am ! . . . If I should remain also,
for your sake? (She stands before him erectly.)

Paul (furiously). Don't jest, Hella! It is not the proper
moment !

Hella. I am certainly not jesting! I am your wife! I
shall keep you company. Aren't you pleased with that?

Paul (straightens up). The dead man stands between us,
as you have said. Very well, let that be final! You
have wished it so! The bond between us is broken.
We have come to the parting of our ways. (He goes
to the left, opens the door and walks out sloivly. Beep
twilight has set in.)

Hella (stands rigidly and whispers to herself). To the
parting of our ways? (Waking up, with a wild de-
fiance.) lil consent,! ?,8ij\ . . . If I consent!



A room in the garden house. The door in the background leads out-doors.
There are windows at both sides of the door and also in the right wall.
They all look out upon the garden, but are draped with long, heavy
curtains. On the left a door leads into the bedroom. On the same
side farther back a tile stove. A divan, table and chair, very near the
stove. Bookshelves along the walls. The general impression is thai of
simple comfort.

It is evening, a short time after the preceding act. A lamp is burning on
the table and lights up the no more than fair-sized cozy room.

Inspkctor Zindel appears in the open door at the background. Before
him stands Paul.

Paul. As I was saying, have the hoj saddled in case I

should still want to take a ride.
Inspector Zindel. Very well, sir! Immediately?
Paul. In about thirty minutes.
Inspector Zindel. Shall the coachman bring out the bay

or will you come to the stable?
Paul. Have it brought out! Good-by. {He comes hack

into the room.)
Inspector Zindel. Good night, sir! {He withdraws and
closes the door behind him.)

[Paul walks up and down excitedly several times.

He seems to he in a violent struggle with himself,

sometimes listens for something outside, shakes

his head, groans deeply, finally throws himself on

the divan and crosses his arms under his head.

Short pause.']

Hella {opens the door in the background, enters and looks

around). Are you here, Paul? {She has thrown a

shawl around her.)

Vaxs'l {jumps up, disappointed). Hella, you? {Sits down.)

Hella {approaches) . Yes, it is I, Hella! Who else? Were

you expecting some one else?
Paul {painfully). Why do you still insist upon coming?
Don't make it unnecessarily hard for both of us.


i o

V o

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Hella {calmly). I am waiting for an explanation from

you. Since you will not give it to me of your own

accord, I am compelled to get it. It seems to me I

have a right to claim it.
Paul. You certainly have.
Hella {with folded arms). Please, then!
Paul. Hella, what is the purpose of this? You do know

everything now !
Hella. I know nothing. I should like to find out from

Paul {gets up). Very well, then I will tell you.
Hella. I assume that the Polish woman is mixed up in

this affair.
Paul. So you do know ! Why in the world are you going

to the trouble of asking me?
Hella. So it's really true? I am to stand aside for a

little goose from the country!
Paul {starts up). A little goose from the country? . . .

Hella, control your tongue!
Hella {walks up and down). If it were not so ridiculous,

it would be exasperating!
Paul. The w^oman under discussion is not a little goose

from the country, my dear, just as little as you are

one from the city.
Hella. Thank you for your flattering comparison.
Paul. That woman has had her struggles and trials as

much as you have, and in spite of it has remained a

woman, which you have not!
Hella {scornfully). Well, well. Are you now asserting

your real nature? Are you throwing off the mask?

Go on! Go on!
Paul {controls himself with an effort). That is all! I am

only standing up for one who is dear to me !
Hella. Ha, ha ! Dear ! Today and tomorrow !
Paul. You are mistaken, Hella! I believe in Antoinette,

and I shall not sw^erve from that.
Hella {with a sudden inspiration). Antoinette . . .

Antoinette . . . Why that name . . .


Paul. Let me assist you, Hella. Antoinette is the friend
of my youth . . .

Hella (nonplussed). The friend of your youth?

Paul, Indeed, Hella, I have known her longer than I have
known you.

Hella. The one whom you were to marry once upon a
time? Is it she?

Paul (sadly). Whom I w^as to marry, whom I refused on
your account, Hella.

Hella. You met her again here?

Paul. As Mrs. von Laskow^ski, yes, Hella!

Hella (starts for him, with a savage expression). And
you kept that from me?

Paul. Why you did not give me a chance to speak, when
I tried to tell you.

Hella. So that was the confidence you had! Well, of
course, then, of course !

Paul. Oh, my confidence, Hella! Don't mention that.
That had died long before !

Hella. To be deceived so shamefully.

Paul. Blame yourself ! You have killed it systematically !

Hella. I? What else, pray tell!

Paul. Yes, by forever considering only yourself and
never me! That could not help but stifle all my feel-
ings in time. I fought against it as long as I could,
Hella, but it had to come to an end some time.

Hella. And I went about v/ithout misgivings, while be-
hind my back a conspiracy was forming . . .

Paul (shrugging his shoulders). Wlio conspired?

Hella. All of you! This whole owl's nest of a house
was in league against me ! You had conspired against
me, you and your ilk, simply because I was superior
to you, that's the reason why you wanted to shoulder
me off! Do you suppose I don't realize that? Very
well, let baseness prevail! I am willing to retreat!

Paul. It always has been your trick, Hella, to play the
part of offended innocence ! It is well that you are re-


minding me of that in this hour ! You are making the
step easier for me than I had hoped.

Hella. This is the thanks !

Paul. Thanks ! . . . How in the world could you expect

Hella {with infuriated hatred). Because I made a human
being of you!

Paul {starting up). Hella, you are making use of words!

Hella {beside herself). Yes, made a human being of you.
I will repeat it ten times over !

Paul. Won't you kindly call in the whole estate with your

Hella. The whole world, for all I care ! What w^ere you
when you came into my hands? A crude student,
utterly helpless, whom I directed into the proper chan-
nels, I, single handed! Without me you would have
gone to the dogs or you might have become one of
those novelists whom no one reads ! I was the first one
to put sound ideas in your head, roused your talent
and pointed out to you all that is really demanded.
Through me you attained a name and reputation, and
now that you are fortunate enough to be that far along,
you go and throw yourself away upon a Polish goose,
you . . . you?

Paul {as if under a lash). There are limits to all things,
Hella, even to consideration for your sex! Do not
assume that you still have me in your power. It has
lasted fifteen years. It is over today. Do you sup-
pose I ought to thank you for sapping everything from
me, my will-power, my strength, my real talents, all
the faith in love and beauty that was once in me, which
you have systematically driven out with your infernal
leveling process? Where shall I ever find a trace of
all that again? I might seek for a hundred years
and not strike that path again ! I might have become
an artist, at life or art itself, who cares! And you


have made me a beggar, a machine, that reels off its

uniform sing-song day after day! You have cheated

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