Kuno Francke.

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

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me out of my life, you imp ! . . . Give it back to me !

{He stands before her, breathing heavily, struggling

for air.)
Hella {has become quite calm). Why did you allow your-
self to be cheated. It's your own fault!
Paul {suddenly calm, but sad and resigned). That is a

profound word, Hella! Why have you . . . allowed

. . . yourself to be cheated !
Hella. You had your will-power just as I had mine. Why

did you not make use of it?
Paul. You, with your ideas, would say that, Hella?
Hella. Yes, one or the other is stronger, of course ! Wny

should we women not be stronger?
Paul {turns away). That is sufficient, Hella. We are

through with each other. There is nothing more to

Hella. As you may decide. So it is really all over be-
tween us ?
Paul {stands in deep thought and inurmurs to himself).

Why did you allow yourself to be cheated? Terrible!

Terrible ! Why must this conviction come too late ?
Hella {in a lurking manner). I suppose you are going

to the other woman now ?
Paul {breathes a deep sigh of relief). We are going

together !
Hella {ivith a sudden inspiration). If I release you, you

Paul {quite calmly). I suppose you will be compelled to!
Hella {triumphantly). Who can compel me?
Paul {starts up). Hella, then . . . Then . . .
Hella. Well? Then?
Paul {controls himself, ivith a strange expression) . Then

we shall see who is the stronger. {The door in the

background has been opened.)


Antoinette (has entered quickly, starts at seeing Hella,

stops in the background and sags, in a subdued voice).

Paul {turns around frightened, exclaims passionately).

Antoinette! {He rushes up to her, about to embrace

her. She turns him aside gently and looks at Hella.

The two press each other's hands firmly and look into

each other's eyes.)
Antoinette {softly). I am here, Paul.
Paul. Thank you, thank you, dear!
Hella {has recovered from her astonishment and starts

for Antoinette, savagely). Who are you, and what

do you want here?
Paul {steps between them, very seriously). Hella . . .

If you please . . .
Antoinette {restrains Paul, with a quiet, distinguished

bearing). I am not afraid, Paul. Just continue,

Hella {furiously) . Who has given you the right to intrude


[Paul has retreated a little in response to
Antoinette's entreating glance.']
Antoinette. Ask yourself, madam. Who was here earlier^

you or I?
Hella {turns aivay abruptly). I shall not quarrel with

you, I shall simply show you the door!
Paul. Well, well. We are standing on my soil now,

Hella ! Remember that !
Hella {infuriated) . Oh, I suppose you are insisting upon

your rights!
Paul, Why I simply must. You are forcing me to do so !
Hella. Very well. I am doing that very thing !
Paul {clenches his fists). Really now! You will not

change your mind?
Hella. I will not change my mind. I shall not release

you. Now do as you please!
Paul. You will not release me?

Vol. XX— 15



Hella. No !

Paul, {beside himself). You! . . . You! . . .

Antoinette. Be quiet, dear! No mortal can interfere
with us.

Hella. How affectionate! You probably suppose that
you have him already f That I shall simply go and
your happiness is complete ! Don 't deceive yourself !
You shall not enjoy happiness when I am compelled
to battle.

Antoinette. Did I not battle?

Hella. Your little battle. Simply because you did not
happen to get the man that you wanted! We have
had battles of quite other dimensions !

Antoinette. Do not believe for a moment that you have
a right to look down upon me! I shall pick up your
gauntlet in the things that really count.

Hella. You? My gauntlet? Ha, ha!

Antoinette. You too are only a woman, just as I am, and
although you may rate yourself ever so much higher,
you will remain a woman nevertheless!

Hella. Woman or not ! I shall show you with whom you
have to deal! I shall not retreat and that settles it!
Under the law, you shall never get each other. Now
show your courage.

Antoinette. I shall show you my courage !

Hella. Dare to do so without the law! Bear the conse-
quences! Suffer yourself to be cast out by all the
world! Have them point their fingers at you! That
is the absconded wife who is living with a run-away
husband! Take that ban upon you ! Do you see now?
I should. I should scorn the whole w^orld! Can you
do the same?

[Antoinette bows her head and is silent.]

Hella (triumphantly). You can't 'do that! I knew it very

Antoinette (composed). What I can and what I cannot
do is in the hand of God. That is all that I have to
say to you.


Hella. That is all I need to know! I wish you a happy

Paul {has been restraining himself, steps up to Hella).

Hella, one last word !
Hella. It has been spoken!
Paul. Do you remember what we agreed to do once upon

a time?
Hella. I don't remember anything now!
Paul. Hella, remember ! On our wedding day we agreed,

if either one of us, from an honest conviction, should

demand his freedom, he should have it, our compact

should be ended. That occasion is here. Remember!
Hella. I don't remember a thing now. You certainly

do not.
Antoinette. Don't say another word, dear!
Hella. It would certainly do no good ! Good-by ! As for

the rest, we shall see!
Paul. We shall.

[Hella goes out with head erect and closes the door
behind her. Pause. Paul and Antoinette stand
face to face for a moment and look into each
other's eyes.]
Paul {morosely) . Now the bridges are burned behind us!
Antoinette. They are, dear. Do you realize itf
Paul. What now? What now?

Antoinette {sinks upon his breast). Paul! My Paul!
Paul {embraces her, presses her to him fervently. They

embrace in silence, then he draws her down beside

him on the divan, and looks at her affectionately). It

was a long time before you came, Toinette.
Antoinette. But now I am here, and shall leave you no

Paul. You will not le^ve me, beloved?
Antoinette. I shall never leave you.
Paul. And I shall not leave you.
Antoinette. And you will not leave me. {They embrace

each other.)


Paul {straightens up). Why did you stay so long, Toinette ?
Antoinette. Mucli was to be set in order, dear.
Paul. I was almost beginning to doubt you.
Antoinette. You wicked man. Then I should have been

forced to go alone.
Paul. Alone? Where would you have gone, you poor,

helpless, little soul.
Antoinette. Do not think that! I have the thing that

will help me. That is why I am so late!
Paul {shrinking). Antoinette!
Antoinette {smiling). Don't be frightened, dear! Two

drops and all is over.
Paul {has risen). You would?

Antoinette {gently ) . Yes, I will. Are you going with me ?
Paul. Toinette! Toinette! {Walks through the room

Antoinette. Think of her words, she will not release

Paul. Is Hella right? You haven't the courage?
Antoinette {passionately). Courage I have, Paul. To

the very end!
Paul. Very well, then we shall undertake it in spite of

them all.
Antoinette {excited). The absconded wife! The run-
away husband! Did you forget those words? Those

terrible words! They keep on ringing in my ears.

Are we to live in the scorn of people. I cannot, Paul.
Paul. You do not ivant to.
Antoinette. No, I do not want to! I do not care to

descend into the mire ! I have hated it all of my life.

They shall not be able to reproach us for anything.
Paul {in passionate excitement) . Is it to be? Is it to be?

(Antoinette nods silently).
Paul {suddenly overcome with emotion, falls upon his

knees before Antoinette and presses his head to her

bosom). Kiss me, kiss me, beloved!



Antoinette {puts her arms around him). Here on your

brow, my lover! Are you content? {She kisses his

Paul. Content in life or death. {He gets up, sits doivn

beside Antoinette and looks at her). Are you weep-
ing, sweetheart?
Antoinette {lowers her head, gently). Why, you are, too,

Paul {passes his hand over his eyes). All over! Tell me

what you think now, dear !
Antoinette {also controlling her tears). It is this, dear,

our time is short. I rode away from my husband!

He was riding ahead of me in the sleigh. I had told

him that I would follow and I mounted my horse and

came to you.
Paul {puts his arms around her). Courageous soul! Rode

through the forest?
Antoinette. Right on through the forest. The sun was

already going down, when I set out.
Paul. The sun of New Year's Eve . . . Did you see it

Antoinette. When it was do^vn, the gloaming afforded

me light, and later the snow.
Paul {sadly ivith a touch of roguishness). Dearest, when

the sun is down, there is nothing left to give light.
Antoinette. Indeed, my beloved, indeed ! Then come the

stars. They are finer.
Paul. Do you believe in the stars?
Antoinette. You heretic, I believe! . . .
Paul. Still believe in heaven and hell ?
Antoinette. No longer for us. For us, the stars.
Paul. Do you think so? For us?
Antoinette. For us and lovers such as we are !
Paul. How do you know that?
Antoinette. Since I have you !
Paul. Then I believe it too i


Antoinette. My friend! My beloved! My life! {She

presses him to her.)
Paul. My beloved! My mfe! [Blissful silence.']

Antoinette {straightens up). Don't you hear steps?

{She listens.)
Paul {also listens). Where, pray tell.
Antoinette {has risen). Out in the garden. It seemed

so to me.
Paul. I hear nothing. All is still.
Antoinette {leans upon him). I am afraid, Paul.
Paul. Afraid? Of what?
Antoinette. That he will come and get me. Our time is

Paul. Then I will protect you.
Antoinette. Paul, I don't want to see him again! I

don't want to see another soul!
Paul {looks at her with glowing eyes). How beautiful

you are now, Toinette!
Antoinette. Am I beautiful? Am I beautiful. For you,

my Paul, for you!
Paul. For me. {He puts his arms around her.)
Antoinette {proudly). I am still beautiful and young and

yet I shall cast it away. I am not afraid.
Paul {his arms about her). We are not afraid!
Antoinette. Out into night and death together with you !
Paul. It is not worth living ! We have realized that !
Antoinette {looks up at him, smiling). Haven't we, Paul,

we two lost creatures? {In each other's embrace, they

are silent for a moment.)
Antoinette {roguishly). Do you remember, dear, what

you used to do when you were a little boy?
Paul. No, sweetheart, tell me !
Antoinette. Try to recall, dear. What did you do when

your mother gave us bread and cake.
Paul. I took the bread first, is that what you mean, and

then finished up with the cake.


Antoinette {shakes her finger at him). Kept the cake

for the end, you crafty fellow !
Paul {is forced to laugh). Kept the best part for the

end! Yes that's what I did.
Antoinette {on his breast). Just wait, you rogue. Now

I'll make you answer. Tell me, what am / now, bread

or cake!
Paul. My last, my best, my all, that's what you are to

Antoinette. There can be no joy beyond this. Shall we

become old and gray and withered? Come, my dear,

Paul {looks at her for a long time). Do you know of what

you remind me now?
Antoinette. Of what, Paul?
Paul. That is just the way you stood in our park when

you were a girl, out there under the alders, and

beckoned to me when you wanted me to come and

play with you.
K'^TOi^-E^TT^ {beckoning roguishly). Come on, Paul. Come

on. Isn't that it?
Paul. Just so! Just so!
Antoinette. Catch me, Paulie! . . . Catch me! {She

runs to the left, opens the door and remains standing.)
Paul {runs after her and seizes her). Now I have you,

you rogTie?
Antoinette {in his arms). Have me and hold me fast!
Paul. New Year's Eve! New Year's Eve! . . . Is it

Antoinette. It's no longer necessary for us to cast lead

to find out how long we are to live. We know!
Paul. Soon we shall know nothing!
Antoinette. Soon we shall know all!
Paul. On your stars, do you mean?
Antoinette {nods). On our star, my lover, you and I

shall meet again.


Paul. There we shall meet again !
Antoinette (starts, and listens). Do you hear?

[Inspector Zindel opens the door in the background
and stands in the door. Paul and Antoinette let
go of each other, keeping their places.']
Inspector Zindel. The bay is bridled, sir, and stands

out here.
x\ntoinette {has an inspiration). The bay bridled? Is

my gray there, too?
Inspector Zindel. It is, madam!
Antoinette. Very well. Stay with the horses. We shall

be there immediately!

[Inspector Zindel ivithdraws.']
Paul {astonished). What is it, dear? Wliat do you intend

to do?
Antoinette {with frantic passion) . To our horses, dearest !

To our horses !
Paul {incredulously) . Out into the world, after all?
Antoinette {ivith a wild fervor). Out with you into the

night . - . the night of Saint Sylvester!
Paul {sadly). Stay here, Toinette! Why begin the farce

anew! Let it end upon this soil, that nurtured our

childhood !
Antoinette {imploring). Come, dearest, to our horses!

Let us ride to my home.
Paul. To your home?

Antoinette. To Rukkoschin, the house of my fathers.
Paul. Do you wish to go there?
Antoinette. I wish to see it once more !
Paul. And then we shall be ready?
Antoinette. The house lies secluded and empty and

Paul. Only the spirits of your fathers are stirring.
Antoinette. But I know of one room where I played as

a child, that has suffered no change.
Paul (ot;ercome). To our horses! To our horses!


Antoinette. The night is clear. Many thousands of stars
will light the way. We shall ride through the forest.
Right across the lake. The ice is firm.

[She draivs him out.']

Paul {with a gesture toward the outside). Farewell, Hella !
Your reign is over ! . . . We are returning to Mother
Earth! {They depart through the door in the hack-



A Deamatic Poem

A Wealthy Merchant
SoBEiDE, his young wife
Bachtjar, the Jeweler, Sobeide's father
Sobeide's Mother
Shalnassae, the Carpet-dealer
Ganem, his son

GuLiSTANE, a ship-captain's widow
An Armenian Slave
An old Camel-driver
A Gardener
His uAfe

Baheam, Servant of the Merchant
A Debtor of Shalnassar

An old city in the Kingdom, of Persia

The time is the evening and the night after the wedding-feast of the wealthy




Assistant Professor of German, Univaisity of Wisconsin

Scene I

Sleeping chamber in the house of the wealthy Merchant. To the rear an
alcove with dark curtains. To the left a door, to the right a small
door leading into the garden, and a vjindow. Candles.

Enter the Merchant and his old Servant, Bahram.

ERCHANT. Speak, Bahram, gav'st thou heed
unto my bride ?
Seevant. Heed, in what sense!
Merchant. She is not cheerful, Bahram.

Servant. She is a serious girl. And 'tis a moment

That sobers e'en the flightiest, remember.

Merchant. Not she alone : the more I bade them kindle
Lights upon lights, the heavier hung a cloud
About this wedding-feast. They smiled like

And I could catch the dark or pitying glances
They flung to one another ; and her father
Would oft subside into a dark reflection,
From M'hich he roused himself with laughter


Servant. My Lord, our common clay

Endureth none too well the quiet splendor
Of hours like these. We are but little used
To aught but dragging through our daily round
Of littleness. And on such high occasions
AVe feel the quiet opening of a portal
From which an unfamiliar, icy breath
Our spirit chills, and warns us of the grave.
As in a glass we then behold our own
Forgotten likeness come into our vision,
And easier 'tw^ere to weep than to be merry.











She tasted not a morsel that thou placed
Before her.

Lord, her modest maidenhood
Was like a noose about her throat ; but yet
She ate some of the fruit.

Yes, one small seed,
I noticed that, 'twas a pomegranate seed.
Then too she suddenly bethought herself
That wine, a blood-red flame in sparkling crystal.
Before her stood, and raised the splendid goblet
And drank as with a sudden firm resolve
The half of it, so that the color flooded
Her cheeks, and deep she sighed as with relief.
Methinks that was no happy resolution.
So acts the man who would deceive himself,
And veils his glance, because the road affrights

Vain torments these: this is but women's way.
{looks about the room, smiles).
A mirror, too, I see thou hast provided.
Thine own command, the mirror is thy mother 's,
Brought hither from her chamber with the rest.
Andthouthyself didst bid me, just this one . . .
What, did I so ? It was a moment, then,
When I was shrewder than I am just now.
Yes, yes, a youthful bride must have a mirror.
Now I will go to fetch your mother's goblet
And bring the cooling evening drink.

Ah yes.
Go, my good Bahram, fetch the evening drink.

\_Exit Bahram.]
Thou mirror of my mother, dwells no glimmer
In thee of her sweet pallid smile, to rise
As from the dewy mirror of a well-spring!
Her smile, the faintest, loveliest I have known.
Was like the flutter of a tiny birdling.
That sleeps its last upon the hollowed hand.

[Stands before the mirror.']


No, naught but glass. Too long it empty stood.
Only a face that does not smile — my own.
My Self, beheld with my own eyes, so vacant
As if one glass but mirrored forth another,
Unconscious. — Oh for higher vision yet,
For but one moment infinitely brief.
To see how stands upon her spirit's mirror
My image ! Is 't an old man she beholds 1
Am I as young as oft I deem myself.
When in the silent night I lie and listen
To hear my blood surge through its winding-
Is it not being young, to have so little
Of rigidness or hardness in my nature?
I feel as if my spirit, nursed and reared
On nourishment so dreamlike, bloodless, thin,
Were youthful still. How else should visit me
This faltering feeling, just as in my boyhood.
This strange uneasiness of happiness.
As if 'twould slip each moment from my hands
And fade like shadows ? Can the old feel this ?
No, old men take the world for something hard
And dreamless; what their fingers grasp and

They hold. While I am even now a-quiver
With all this moment brings ; no youthful mon-
Were more intoxicated, when the breezes
Should waft to him that cryptic word * ' posses-
sion. " [He nears the window.^
Ah, lovely stars, are ye out there as ever?
From out of this unstable mortal body
To look upon your courses in your whirling
Eternal orbits — that has been the food
That bore with ease my years, until I thought
I scarcely felt my feet upon the earth.
And have I really Avithered, while my eyes



Clung to yon golden suns, that do not wither?
And have I learned of all the quiet plants,
And marked their parts and understood their

And how they differ when upon the mountains,
Or when by running streams we find them

growing, —
Almost a new creation, yet at bottom
A single species ; and with confidence
Could say, this one does well, its food is pure,
And lightly bears the burden of its leaves,
But this through worthless soil and sultry

Has thickened stems, and bloated, swollen

leaves . . .
And more . . . and of myself I can know

And heavy scales are crusted on my eyes.
Impeding judgment . . .

[He hastily steps before the mirror again.]

Soulless tool!
Not like some books and men caught unawares :
Thou never canst reveal the hidden truth
As in a lightning flash.
Servant (returning). My master.

Merchant. Well ?

Servant. The guests depart. The father of thy bride
And others have been asking after thee.
And what of her ?

She takes leave of her parents.
[Merchant stands a moment with staring
eyes, then goes out at the door to the left
with long strides. Servant follows him.
The stage remains empty for a short time.
Then the Merchant reenters, hearing a
candelabrum which he places on the table
beside the evening drink. Sobeide enters




behind him, led by her father and mother.
All stop in the centre of the room, some-
what to the left, the Merchant slightly
removed from the rest. Sobeide gently
releases herself. Her veil hangs doivn
behind her. She wears a string of pearls
in her hair, a larger one about her neck.}
Father. From much in life I have been forced to part.
This is the hardest. My beloved daughter,
This is the day which I began to dread
When still I saw thee smiling in thy cradle,
And which has been my nightmare o'er and

(To the Merchant.)
Forgive me. She is more to me than child.
I give thee that for w^hich I have no name,
For every name comprises but a part —
But she was everything to me!
Sobeide. Dear father.

My mother will be with thee.
MoTB-BR (gently). Cross him not:

He is quite right to overlook his wife.
I have become a part of his own being.
What strikes me, strikes him too ; but what I do
Affects him only as when right and left
Of his own body meet. Meanwhile, however,
The soul remains through all its days a nursling,
And reaches out for breasts more full of life.
Farewell. Be no worse helpmeet than I was.
And mayst thou be as happy too. This word
Embraces all.
Sobeide. Embrace — that is the word;

Till now my fate was in your own embraced,
But now the life of this man standing here
Swings wide its gates, and in this single moment
I breathe for once the blessed air of freedom:
No longer yours, and still not his as yet.


I beg you, go ; for this unwonted thing,
As new to me as wine, has greater power,
And makes me view my life and his and yours
With other eyes than were perhaps befitting.

{With a forced smile.)
I beg you, look not in such wonderment :
Such notions oft go flitting through my head.
Nor dream nor yet reality. Ye know.
As child I was much worse. And then the dance
Which I invented, is 't not such a thing :
Wherein from torchlight and the black of night
I made myself a shifting, drifting palace,
From which I then emerged, as do the queens
Of fire and ocean in the fairy-tales.

I The Mother has meanwhile thrown the
Father a glance and has noiselessly gone
to the door. Noiselessly the Father has
folloived her. Notv they stand with clasped
hands in the doorivay, to vanish the next
Ye go so softly? What I And are ye gone?
[She turns and stands silent, her eyes cast
Merchant {caresses her with a long look, then goes to the
rear, hut stops again irresolute) .
Wilt thou not lay aside thy veil ?

[SoBEroE starts, looks about her absent-mind-
Merchant {points to the glass). 'Tis yonder.

[SoBEmE takes no step, loosens mechanically
the veil from her hair.]
Merchant. Here — in thy house — and just at first perhaps
Thou mayst lack much. This house, since

mother's death.
Has grown disused to serve a woman's needs.
And our utensils here do not display
The splendor and magnificence in which

Hk a>i ■ t

urorAjiw^ivi taiVbl^ ^vi vvj\^V«mA 'ivki iwo'\'A


I beg you, go ; for this unwonted thing,
As new to me as wine, has greater power,
And makes me view my life and his and yours
With other eyes than were perhaps befitting.

(With a forced smile.)
I beg you, h.)ok not in such w^onderment :
Such notions oft go flitting through my head,
Nor dream nor yet reality. Ye know.
As child I was much worse. And then the dance
Which I iiivented, is 't not such a thing :
Wherein J" orchlight and the black of night

ide m 'lifting, drifting palace,

i. as do the queens
.)i ii ^ ixLi lairy-tales.

' " ■eanivhile thrown the

r ATHEK a giance and has noiselessly gone

to the door. Noiselessly the Fathee has

folloivrd her. Noiv they stand luith clasped

l^^m^HyiTm^ (iP^^UUffHhl3vanish the next


Ye go so softly? Wh^vt . .,Ai,i u.Le ye gone I

^ She i'j/'^'^'- '"» n ^7 ■.-■/■, -If J ,1 <.' 01 .01;/ /I / 1- />-»/, 5C,- /^/7 c /

\fv,nr.'n ^ K'v _. ,. nnp's in the


ahoui her ahsent-mind-

Mef.( 'Tis yonder.

i^, loosens mechanically
'» her hair.]
Merchant. I J - and just at first perhaps

T r-k much. This house, since

mo ^

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