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

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can assure you, every time I see it lying there, every-
time I even think of it, I'm ashamed to think it's yours.

Margaret. You simply don't understand it. No, you
mustn't be vexed with me; if you had just that one
thing more, you'd be perfect — and that probably is
not to be. But what is it that disturbs you in the
verses'? You surely know that I haven't experienced
anything like that.

Clement. I hope not!

Margaret. !^ou know it's all imagination.

Clement. But then I can't help asking myself . . . how
comes a lady to have such an imagination? (Reads.)
** So, drunk with bliss, I hang upon thy neck
And suck thy lips' drained sweetness . . . "
(Shakes his head.) How can a lady write such stuff,
or allow it to be printed? Everybody who reads it
must call up a picture of the authoress and the neck
and . . . the intoxication.

Margaret. When I give you my word that such a neck has
never existed . . .

Vol. XX— 22


Clement. No, I can't believe that it has. Lucky for me
that I can 't — and . . . for you too, Margaret. But
how did you ever come by such fancies'? All these
glowing emotions can't possibly be referred to your
first husband — you told me yourself he never under-
stood you.

Makgaeet. Of course he didn 't — that 's why I got a divorce
from him. You know all about that. I simply couldn 't
exist by the side of a man who had no ideas beyond
eating and drinking and cotton.

Clement. Yes, I know. But all that 's three years ago —
and you wrote the verses later.

Margaeet. Yes . . . But just think of the position in
which I found myself . . .

Clement. What sort of a position? You hadn't any pri-
vations to put up with, had you? From that point
of view your husband, to give him his due, behaved
really very well. You weren't forced to earn your
own living. And even if they gave you a hundred
florins for a poem — they certainly wouldn't give more
— you weren 't obliged to write a book like that.

Margaret. Clement, dear, I didn't mean the word " posi-
tion " in a material sense ; I meant the position in
w^hich my soul w^as. Haven 't you any conception . . . ?
When you first met me, it was much better — to a cer-
tain extent I had found mj^self ; but at first . . . !
I was so helpless and distracted. I did everything I
could — I painted, I even gave English lessons in the
boardinghouse where I was living. Just think what
it was like, to be there as a divorced woman at twenty-
two, to have no one . . .

Clement. Why didn't you stay quietly in Vienna?

Margaret. Because I was not on good terms with my
family. No one has really understood me. Oh, these
people . . . ! Do you suppose any of my relations
could conceive that one should want anything else from
life except a husband and pretty clothes and a position


in society! Oh, good heavens . . . ! If I had had
a child, things might have been very different — and
again they might not. I am a very complex creature.
But after all, what have you to complain of! Wasn't
my going to Munich the best thing I could have done?
How else should I ever have kno^vn you !

Clement. That's all right — but you didn't go there with
that purpose in view.

Margaeet. I went because I wanted to be free — inwardly
free. I wanted to see if I could make the thing go
o'l my own resources. And you must admit that it
looked as if I should be able to. I was on the road
to becoming famous. ( Clement looks at her dubiously. )
But I cared more for you than even for fame.

Clement {good-naturedly ) . And I 'm a bit more dependable.

Margaret. I wasn't thinking about that. I loved you
from the very first moment — that was the thing that
counted. I had always dreamed of some one just like
you; I had always known that no other sort of man
could make me happy. Blood isn't a mere empty
word; it's the only thing that counts. Do you know,
that's why I always have a kind of idea . . .

Clement. What ?

Margaret. At least now and then the thought comes to
me that there may be some noble blood in my veins too.

Clement. F^w so?

Margaret. Well, it would be a possibility.

Clement. I don't understand.

Margaret. I told you that there used to be aristocratic
visitors at my parents' house . . .

Clement. Well, and if there were . . . ?

Margaret. Who knows . . . ?

Clement. Oh, I say, Margaret! How can you talk of
such things!

Margaret. Oh, when you 're about one can never say what
one thinks ! That 's the only thing the matter with you
— if it weren't for that you'd be perfect. {She


nestles up to him.) I do love you so tremendously.
The very first evening, when you came into the cafe
with Wangenheim, I knew it at once — knew that you
were the man for me. You know you strode in among
those people like a being from another world.

Clement. I hope so. And you, thank goodness, didn't
look as if you belonged to that one. No . . . when
I remember that crowd — the Russian girl, for ex-
ample, who looked like a student with her close-cropped
hair, only that she didn't wear the cap . . .

Margaret. She's a very talented artist, the Baranzewich.

Clement. I know — you showed her to me in the Pina-
kothek, standing on a ladder, copying pictures. And
then the fellow with the Polish name . . .

Margaret (begins to recall the name). Zrkd . . ,

Clement. Oh, don't bother — you won't need to pro-
nounce it any more. Once he delivered a lecture in
the cafe, when I was there, without seeming in the
least embarrassed.

Margaret. He's a great genius — you may take my word
for it.

Clement. Oh, of course — they're all great geniuses at
the cafe. And then there was that insufferable
cub . . .

Margaret. Who ?

Clement. Oh, you know the fellow I mean — the one that
was always making tactless remarks about the

Margaret. Gilbert — you must mean Gilbert.

Clement. That's the one. Of course I don't undertake
to defend everybody in my station of life; there are
clowns and boobies in every rank, even among poets,
I've been told. But it's unmannerly of the fellow,
one of us being there . . .

Margaret. Oh, that was his way.

Clement. I had to take myself sharply in hand, or I
should have said something rude.

Permission Albert Langen, Munich




Margaret. He was an interesting man for all that . . .
yes. And besides — he was fearfully jealous of you.

Clement. So I thought I noticed. {Pause.)

Margaret. Oh, they were all jealous of you. Naturally
. . . you were so different. And then they all paid
court to me, just because they were all quite indiffer-
ent to me. You must have noticed that, too, didn't
you? What are you laughing at?

Clement. It's comical ... If any one had prophesied
to me that I should marry one of the crowd at the
Cafe Maximilian ! The ones I liked best were the two
young painters — they were really just as if they'd
stepped out of a farce at the theatre. You know,
those two that looked so much alike, and shared every-
thing together — I fancy even the Russian girl on the

Margaret. I never troubled my head about such things.

Clement. Those two must have been Jews, weren't they?

Margaret. What makes you think so?

Clement. Oh . . . because they were always cutting
jokes — and then their pronunciation . . .

Margaret. I think you might dispense with anti-Semitic

Clement. Come, child, don't be so sensitive. I know
you're half -Jewish. And really, you know, I've noth-
ing against the Jews. I even had an instructor once,
who put me through my Greek for my final exam. He
was a Jew, if you like — and a splendid fellow. One
meets all kinds of people . . . And I'm not sorry
to have had a chance to see your Munich circle — it's
all a bit of experience. — But, you admit, I must have
appeared to you as a kind of life-saver.

Margaret. Yes, indeed you did. Oh, Clement, Clement
. ! {She embraces him.)

Clement. What are you laughing at?

Margaret. Oh, a thought struck me . . .

Clement. Well . . . ?


Margaret. " So, drunk with bliss, I hang upon thy
neck . . . "

Clement (annoyed). I don't know why you always have
to spoil a fellow's illusions!

Margaret. Tell me honestly, Clement — wouldn't you be
proud if your girl — if your wife — were a great,
famous authoress?

Clement. I've told you already what I think. You may
call me narrow if you like, but I assure you that if you
began writing poems again, or, even more, having them
printed, in which you gushed about me or told the
world all about our happiness, there 'd be an end of
the marriage — I should be up and off.

Margaret. And you say that — you, a man who has had
a dozen notorious affairs !

Clement. Notorious or not, my dear, I never told any-
body about them; I never rushed into print when a
girl hung, drunk with bliss, about my neck, so that
anybody could buy it for a gulden and a half. That's
the thing, you see. I know that there are people who
get their living that way — but I don't consider it the
thing to do. I tell you it seems worse to me than for
a girl to show herself off in tights as a Greek statue
at the Ronacher. At least she keeps her mouth shut —
but the things that one of your poets blabs out, well,
they're past a joke!

Margaret (uneasily). Dearest, you forget that a poet
doesn't always tell the truth. We tell things which we
haven't experienced at all, but what we've dreamed,

Clement. My dear Margaret, I wish you wouldn't always
keep saying * ' we. ' ' Thank heaven, you 're out of that
sort of thing now !

Margaret. ^Tio knows?

Clement. What do you mean by that?

Margaret (tenderly). Clem, I really must tell you?

Clement. Wh}^, what's up now?


Margaret. Well, I'm not out of it — I haven't given up

Clement. You mean by that . . . ?
Margaret. Just what I say — that I'm still writing, or at

least that I have written something. Yes, this impulse

is stronger than other people can conceive. I believe

I should have gone to pieces if I hadn't written.
Clement. Well, what have you been writing this time?
Margaret. A novel. I had too much in my breast that

wanted to be said — I should have choked if I hadn't

got it out. I haven't said anything about it before —

but of course I had to tell you sooner or later.

Kiinigel is delighted with it.
Clement. Who is Kiinigel?
Margaret. My publisher.

Clement. Then somebody's read the thing already?
Margaret. Yes — and many more will read it. Clement,

you'll be proud — believe me!
Clement. You're mistaken, my dear child. I think you

have . . . Well, what sort of things have you put into

Margaret. That 's not so easy to explain in one word. The

book contains, so to say, the best of what is to be said

about things.
Clement. Brava !
Margaret. And so I am able to promise you that from this

time on I shan't touch a pen. There's no more need.
Clement. Margaret, do you love me or not?
Margaret. How can you ask? I love you, and you alone.

Much as I have seen, much as I have observed, I have

felt nothing — I waited for you.
Clement. Then bring it here, your novel.
Margaret. Bring it here? How do you mean?
Clement. That you felt you had to write it — may be;

but at least no one shall read it. Bring it here — we'll

throw it in the fire.
Margaret. Clement . . . !


Clement. I ask that much of you — I have a right to
ask it.

Maegaeet. Oh, it isn't possible! It's . . .

Clement. Not possible! When I wish it — when I ex-
plain that I make everything else dependent on it
. . . you understand me . ; . it may perhaps turn
out to be possible.

Maegaeet. But, Clement, it's already printed.

Clement. What — printed?

Maegaeet. Yes ... in a few days it'll be for sale

Clement. Margaret . . . ! And all this without a word
to me ...

Maegaeet. I couldn't help it, Clement. When you see it,
you'll forgive me — more than that, you'll be proud
of me.

Clement. My dear girl, this is past a joke.

Maegaeet. Clement . . . !

Clement. Good-by, Margaret.

Maegaeet. Clement . . . ! What does this mean? You
are going?

Clement. As you see.

Maegaeet. When will you be back?

Clement. That I can't at the present moment say. Good-

Maegaeet. Clement . . . ! {Tries to restrain him.)

Clement. If you please ... ]_Exit.']

Maegaeet {alone). Clement . . . ! What does this mean!
He 's leaving me ? Oh, what shall I do ? — Clement ! —
Can he mean that all is over . . . ? No — it 's impos-
sible! Clement! I must follow him . . . {Looks
about for her hat. The bell rings.) Ah . . .he's
coming back ! He was only trying to frighten me . . .
Oh, my Clement ! {Goes toward door. Enter Gilbeet.)

GiLBEET {to maid, who has opened door for him). I told
you I was sure she was at home. Good morning,


Margaret (taken aback). You . . . *?

Gilbert. Yes, I — Amandus Gilbert.

Margaret. I . . . I'm so surprised . . .

Gilbert. That is evident. But there 's no reason why you
should be. I am only passing through — I'm on my
way to Italy. And really I've come to see you just
for the purpose of bringing you a copy of my latest
work in remembrance of our old friendship. {Hands
her the book. As she does not take it at once, he lays
it on the table.)

Margaret. You're very kind . . . thank you.

Gilbert. Oh, not at all. You have a certain right to this
book. So this is where you live . . .

Margaret. Yes. But . . .

Gilbert. Oh, it's only temporary, I know. For furnished
rooms they aren't bad. To be sure, these family por-
traits on the walls would drive me to distraction.

Margaret. My landlady is the widow of a general.

Gilbert. Oh, you needn't apologize.

Margaret. Apologize . . . ? I w^asn 't thinking of it.

Gilbert. It's very queer, when one comes to think . . .

Margaret. To think of w^hat?

Gilbert. Why shouldn't I say it? Of the little room in
the Steinsdorfer Strasse, with the balcony looking out
on the Isar. Do you remember it, Margaret?

Margaret. Do you think you'd better call me Margaret
. . . now?

Gilbert. As you please . . . {Pause. Suddenly.) You
know really you behaved very badly . . .

Margaret. What ?

Gilbert. Or do you prefer that I should speak in para-
phrases? Unfortunately I can't find any other ex-
pression for your conduct. And it was all so unneces-
sary — it would have been just as well to be honest
with me. There was nothing to be gained by stealing
away from Munich in the dead of night.

Margaret. It wasn't the dead of night — I left Munich
by the express at 8.30 a. m., in bright sunshine.


Gilbert. Well, anyhow, you might just as well have said
good-by, mightn't you? (Sits.)

Maegaret. The Baron may come in at any moment.

Gilbert. Well, what if he does? You surely haven't told
him that once upon a time you lay in my arms and
adored me. I am just an old acquaintance from
Munich — and as such I have surely the right to call
on you!

Margaret. Any other old acquaintance — not you.

Gilbert. Why? You persist in misunderstanding me. I
am really here only as an old acquaintance. Every-
thing else is over — long ago over . . . Well, you'll
see there. {Points to his hook.)

Margaret. What book is that?

Gilbert. My latest novel.

Margaret. Oh, you're writing novels?

Gilbert. To be sure.

Margaret. Since when have you risen to that?

Gilbert. What do you mean?

Margaret. Oh, I remember that your real field was the
small sketch, the observation of trivial daily occur-
rences . . .

Gilbert (^excitedly). My field . . .? My field is the
world! I write what I choose to write — I don't allow
any bounds to be set to my genius. I don't know what
should prevent me from writing a novel.

Margaret. Well, the standard critics used to say . . .

Gilbert. What standard critic do you mean?

Margaret. I remember, for example, a feuilleton of Neu-
mann's in the Allgemeine . . .

Gilbert {angrily). Neumann is an idiot! I've given him
a blow in the face.

Margaret. You 've given him . . . ?

Gilbert. Oh, not literally . . . Margaret, you used to
be as disgusted with him as I was — we agreed en-
tirely in the view that Neumann was an idiot. " How
can that mere cipher dare . . . " — those were your
very words, Margaret, ' ' How can he dare to set limits


to you — to strangle your next book before its birth? "
That's what you said! And now you appeal to that
charlatan !

Margaret. Please don't shout so. My landlady . . .

Gilbert. I can't bother with thinking about generals'
widows w^hen ray nerves are on edge.

Margaret, But what did I say I I really can't understand
your being so sensitive,

Gilbert. Sensitive? You call it being sensitive? You,
who used to quiver from head to foot if the merest
scribbler in the most obscure rag ventured to say a
word of criticism!

Margaret. I don't remember that ever any disparaging
words have been written about me,

Gilbert, Oh . . . ? Well, you may be right. People are
usually gallant to a pretty woman.

Margaret. Gallant . . . ? So they used to praise my
poems only out of gallantry? And your own ver-
dict . . ,

Gilbert. Mine . , . ? I needn 't take back anything that
I said — I may confine myself to remarking that your
few really beautiful poems were written in our time,

Margaret. And so you think the credit of them is really
yc'jirs ?

Gilbert. Would you have written them if I had never
existed? Weren't they w^ritten to me?

Margaret. No,

Gilbert. What? Not written to me? Oh, that's mon-
strous !

Margaret. No, thev were not written to vou.

Gn.BERT. You take my breath away! Shall I remind you
of the situations in which your finest verses had their

Margaret. They were addressed to an ideal . . . (Gn^
BERT points to himself.) . . . whose earthly repre-
sentative you happened to be.


Gilbert. Ha! That's fine! Where did you get it? Do
you know what the French say in such circumstances?
^' That is literature! "

Maegaeet {imitating his tone). " That is not literature! "
That is the truth — the absolute truth. Or do you
really believe that I meant you by the slender youth
— that I sang hymns of praise to your locks? Even
in those days you were . . . well, not slender; and
I shouldn't call this locks. {Passes her hand over his
hair. Taking the opportunity, he seizes her hand and
kisses it. In a softer voice.) What are you think-
ing of?

GiLBEET. You thought so in those days — or at least that
was your name for it. Ah, what won't poets say for
the sake of a smooth verse, a sounding rhyme? Didn't
I call you once, in a sonnet, "my wise maiden? "
And all the time you were neither . . . No, I mustn't
be unjust to you — you were wise, confoundedly wise,
revoltingly wise! And it has paid you. But one
oughtn't to be surprised; you were always a snob at
heart. Well, now you've got what you wanted. You
caught your prey, your blue-blooded youth with the
well-kept hands and the neglected brain, the splendid
rider, fencer, shot, tennis-player, heart-breaker — Mar-
litt couldn't have invented anything more disgusting.
What more do you w^ant? Whether it will always con-
tent you, that knew something higher once, is of course
another question. I can only say this one thing to
you — in my eyes you are a renegade from love.

Maegaeet. You thought that up in the train.

GiLBEET. I thought it up just now — just a moment ago!

Maegaeet. Write it down, then — it's good.

GiLBEET. What was it that attracted you to a man of this
sort? Nothing but the old instinct, the common
instinct !

Maegaeet. I don't think you've got any right . . .


Gilbert. My dear child, in the old days I had a soul too
to offer you.

Margaret. Oh, at times, only this . . .

Gilbert. Don't try now to depreciate our relation — you
won't succeed. It will remain always your most
splendid experience.

Margaret. Bah . . . w^hen I think that I tolerated that
rubbish for a whole year!

Gilbert. Tolerated? You were entranced with it. Don't
be ungrateful — I'm not. Miserably as you behaved
at the last, for me it can't poison my memories. And
anyhow, that was part of the whole.

Margaret. You don 't mean it !

Gilbert. Yes . . . And now listen to this one statement
I owe to you : at the very time when you were begin-
ning to turn away from me, when you felt this draw-
ing toward the stable — la nostalgie de I'ecurie — I
was realizing that at heart I was done with you.

Margaret. No . . . !

Gilbert. It's quite characteristic, Margaret, that you
hadn't the least perception of it. Yes, I was done with
you. I simply didn't need you any more. What you
could give me, you had given me ; you had fulfilled your
function. You knew in the depths of your heart, you
knew unconsciously . . . that your day was over.
Our relation had achieved its purpose ; I do not regret
having loved you.

Margaret. / do!

Gilbert. That 's splendid ! In that one small observation
lies, for the connoisseur, the whole deep distinction
between the true artist and the dilettante. To you,
Margaret, our relation is today nothing more than the
recollection of a few mad nights, a few deep talks of
an evening in the alleys of the English Garden ; I have
made of it a work of art.

Margaret. So have I.

Gilbert. How so? What do you mean?


Maegaret. What you 've succeeded in doing, if you please,
I've succeeded in doing too. I also have written a
novel in which our former relations play a part, in
which our former love — or what we called by that
name — is preserved to eternity,

Gilbert. If I were in your place, I wouldn't say anything
about eternity until the second edition was out.

Margaret. Well, anyhow, it means something different
when 1 write a novel from what it does when you
write one.

Gilbert. Yes . . . ?

Margaret. You see, you're a free man — you haven't got
to steal the hours in which you can be an artist; and
you don't risk your whole future.

Gilbert. Oh ... do you?

Margaret. I have! Half an hour ago Clement left me
because I owned up to him that I had written a novel.

Gilbert. Left you? For ever?

Margaret. I don't know. It is possible. He went away
in anger. He is unaccountable — I can't tell before-
hand what he will decide about me.

Gilbert. Ah . . . so he forbids you to write! He won't
allow the girl he loves to make any use of her brains —
oh, that 's splendid ! That 's the fine flower of the na-
tion! Ah . . . yes. And you — aren't you ashamed
to experience the same sensations in the arms of such
an idiot that you once . . .

Margaret. I forbid you to talk like that about him ! You
don't understand him.

Gilbert. Ha . . . !

Margaret. You don't know why he objects to my writing
— it 's only out of love. He feels that I live in a world
which is closed to him; he blushes to see me exposing
the innermost secrets of my soul to strangers. He
wants me for himself, for himself alone. And that's
why he rushed off . . . no, not rushed ; Clement isn 't
the sort of person who rushes off . . .

Permission Albert Langen, Munich


From Olaf Gulbransson's "Famous Contemporaries"


Gilbert. An admirable bit of observation. But at any
rate he's gone. We needn't discuss the tempo of his
departure. And he 's gone because he won 't allow you
to yield to your desire to create.

Margaret. Oh, if he could only understand that ! I could
be the best, the truest, the noblest wife in the world,
if the right man existed!

Gilbert. You admit by that expression that he isn't the
right one.

Margaret. I didn't say that!

Gilbert. I want you to realize that he is simply enslaving
you, ruining you, seeking to crush your personality out
of sheer egoism. Oh, think of the Margaret you were
in the old days! Think of the freedom you had to
develop your ego when you loved me! Think of the
choice spirits who were your associates then, of the
disciples who gathered round me and were your
disciples too. Don't you sometimes long to be back
again? Don't you sometimes think of the little room
with the balcony . . . and the Isar flowing beneath
the window , . . {He seizes her hands and dratvs
near to her.)

Margare^. God . . . !

Gilbert. It can all be so again — it needn't be the Isar.
I'll tell you what to do, Margaret. If he comes back,
tell him that you have some important business to see

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