Copyright
Kuno Francke.

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

. (page 26 of 34)
Online LibraryKuno FranckeThe German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) → online text (page 26 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


to in Munich, and spend the time with me. Oh,
Margaret, you're so lovely! We'll be happy once
again, Margaret, as we used to be. You remember,
don't you? {Very close to her.) *' So, drunk with
bliss, I hang upon thy neck . . ."

M.ARGAB,ET {retreats quickly from hwi). Go — go! No. . .
no . . . go, I tell you! You know I don't love you
any more.

Gilbert. Oh, . . . h'm . . . Really? Well, then I can
only beg your pardon. {Pause.) Good-by, Margaret
. . . good-by.



352 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Makgaeet. Good-by.

GiLBEET. Good-by . . . (Turns back once more.) Won't
you at least, as a parting gift, let me have a copy of
j^our novel ? I gave you mine.

Maegaeet. It isn't out yet — it won't be till next week.

GiLBEET. If you don 't mind telling me . . . what sort of
a story is it?

Maegaeet. It is the story of my life — of course dis-
guised, so that no one can recognize me.

GiLBEET. Oh . . . ? How did you manage that ?

Maegaeet. It was quite simple. The heroine, to begin
with, is not a writer but a painter . . .

GiLBEET. Very clever of you.

Maegaeet. Her first husband was not a cotton-manufac-
turer but a great speculator — and she deceived him
not Avith a tenor . . .

GiLBEET. Aha !

Maegaeet. What are you laughing at?

GiLBEET. So you deceived him with a tenor? That's some-
thing I didn't know.

Maegaeet. How do you know I did?

GiLBEET. Why, you've just informed me yourself.

Maegaeet. I . . .? How? I said the heroine of my
novel betrays her husband with a baritone.

GiLBEET. A basso would have been grander — a mezzo-
soprano more piquant.

Maegaeet. Then she goes not to Munich but to Dresden,
and there has a relation with a sculptor.

GiLBEET. Myself, I suppose . . . disguised?

Maegaeet. Oh, very much disguised. The sculptor is
young, handsome, and a genius. In spite of all that,
she leaves him.

GiLBEET. For . . . ?

Maegaeet. Guess !

GiLBEET. Presumably a jockey.

Maegaeet. Silly !

GiLBEET. A count, then? A prince?



LITEEATURE 353

Margaret. No — an archduke!

Gilbert (with a bow). Ah, you've spared no expense.

Margaret. Yes — an archduke, who abandons his position

at court for her sake, marries her, and goes away with

her to the Canary Islands.
Gilbert. The Canary Islands! That's fine. And

then . . .?
Margaret. With their landing in . . .
Gilbert. . . . the Canaries . . .
Margaret. . . . the novel ends.
Gilbert. Oh, I see . . .I'm very curious — especially

about the disguise.
Margaret. Even you would not be able to recognize me,

if it were not . . .
Gilbert. Well . . .?
Margaret. If it were not that in the last chapter but two

I've reproduced all our correspondence!
Gilbert. What?
Margaret. Yes — all the letters you wrote me, and all

those I wrote you are included.
Gilbert. Excuse me . . , but how did you get yours to

me? I've got them all.
Margaret. Ah, but I kept the rough drafts of them all.
Gilbert. Rough drafts?
Margaret. Yes.
Gilbert. Rough drafts . . . ! Of those letters to me that

seemed to be dashed off in quivering haste? '' Just

one word more, dearest, before I sleep — my eyes are

closing already . . . " and then, when your eyes had

quite closed, you wrote me off a fair copy?
Margaret. Well, have you anything to complain of?
Gilbert. I might have suspected it. I suppose I ought to

congratulate myself that they weren't borrowed from

a Lover's Manual. Oh, how everything crumbles

around me . . . the whole past is in ruins ! She kept

rough drafts of her letters!
Vol. XX— 23



354 THE GEEMAN CLASSICS

Makgaret. You ought to be glad. Who knows whether
my letters to you will not be the only thing people will
remember about you?

GiLBEET. But it's an extremely awkward situation for
another reason . . .

Maegaret. What is that?

Gilbert (points to his book). You see, they're all in there
too.

Margaret. What"? Where?

Gilbert. In my novel.

Margaret. What's in your novel?

Gilbert. Our letters . . . yours and mine.

Margaret. How did you get yours, then, since I have
them? Ah, you see you wrote rough drafts too!

Gilbert. Oh no — I only made copies of them before I
sent them to you. I didn't want them to be lost.
There are some in the book that you never got; they
were too good for you — you'd never have understood
them.

Margaret. For heaven's sake, is that true? (QuicMy
turns over the leaves of Gilbert's book.) Yes, it is!
Oh, it's just as if we told the whole world that we
had . . . Oh, good gracious . . . ! (Excitedly turn-
ing over the leaves.) You don't mean to tell me you
put in the one I wrote you the morning after the first
night . . .

Gilbert. Of course I did — it was really brilliant.

Margaret. But that's too dreadful! It'll be a European
scandal. And Clement ... heavens ! I 'm begin-
ning to wish that he may not come back. I'm lost —
and you with me! Wherever you go, he'll know how
to find you — he'll shoot you down like a mad dog!

Gilbert (puts his book in his pocket). A comparison in
very poor taste.

Margaret. How came you by that insane idea? The let-
ters of a woman whom you professed to love . . . !
It's easy to see that you are no gentleman.



LITERATURE 355

Gilbert. Oh, that's too amusing! Didn't you do exactly
the same thing?

Margaret. I am a woman.

Gilbert. You remember it now !

Margaret. It is true — I have nothing to boast of over you.
We are worthy of each other. Yes . . . Clement vv as
right; we are worse than the women at the Ronacher
who exhibit themselves in tights. Our most hidden
bliss, our sorrows, all . . . given to the world . . .
Bah ! I loathe myself ! Yes, we two belong together
— Clement would be quite right to drive me from him.
{Suddenly.) Come, Amandus!

Gilbert. What are you going to do?

Margaret. I accept your proposal.

Gilbert. Proposal? Wliat proposal?

Margaret. I'll fly with you! {Looks about for her hat
and cloak.)

Gilbert. What are you thinking of?

Margaret {very much excited, puts her hat on with deci-
sion). It may all be as it was before — so you said
just now. It needn't be the Isar . . . Well, I'm
ready.

Gilbert. But this is perfectly crazy ! Fly with me . . . ?
What would be the use of that? Didn't you say your-
self that he would know how to find me wherever I
went? If you were with me, he would find you too.
It would be a great deal more sensible for each of us
alone . . .

Margaret. You wretch! Would you abandon me now?
And a few minutes ago you were on your knees to me !
Have you no shame?

Gilbert. ^Vhat is there to be ashamed of? I am an ailing,
nervous man ... I am subject to moods . . .
(Margaret, at window, utters a loud cry.) What's
the matter? What will the general's Avidow think
of me?

Margaret. There he is! He's coming!



356 THE GERMi\N CLASSICS

Gilbert. In that case ...

Margaret. What — you're going?

Gilbert. I didn't come hero with the intention of calling

on the Baron.
Margaret. He'll meet you on the stairs — that would be

worse still ! Stay where you are — I refuse to be the

only victim.
Gilbert. Don't be a fool! Wliy are you trembling so?

He can't have read both novels. Control yourself —

take off your hat. Put your cloak away. {Helps her

to take her things off.) If he finds you in this state,

he'll be bound to suspect . . .
Margaret. It's all one to me — as well now as later. I

can't endure to wait for the horror — I'll tell him

everything at once.
Gilbert. Everything?
Margaret. Yes, as long as you're here. If I come out

honestly and confess everything, he may forgive me.
Gilbert. And what about me? I have better things to

do in the world than to allow myself to be shot down

like a mad dog by a jealous baron! {Bell rings.)
Margaret. There he is — there he is !
Gilbert. You w^on't say anything!
Margaret. Yes, I mean to speak out.
Gilbert. Oh, you will, will you ? Have a care, then ! I '11

sell my skin dearly.
Margaret. "V\rhat will you do?
Gilbert. I'll hurl such truths into his very face as no

baron ever heard before. {Enter Clement; rather

surprised at finding him, very cool and polite.)
Clement. Oh . . . Herr Gilbert, if I 'm not mistaken ?
Gilbert. Yes, Baron. Happening to pass this way on a

journey to the south, I could not refrain from coming

to pay my respects . . .
Clement. Ah, I see . . . {Pause.) I'm afraid I have

interrupted a conversation — I should be sorry to do

that. Please don't let me be in the way.



LITERATURE 357

Gilbert {to Margaeet). Ah . . . what were we talking

about?
Clement. Perhaps I may be able to assist your memory.

In Munich you always used to be talking about your

books . . .
Gilbert. Ah . . . precisely. As a matter of fact, I was

speaking of my new novel . . .
Clement. Oh . . . then please go on. It's quite pos-
sible to discuss literature with me — isn't it, Margaret?

What is your novel? Naturalist! Symbolist? A

chapter of experience?
Gilbert. Oh, in a certain sense we all write but of things

we have lived.
Clement. That's very interesting.
Gilbert. Even when one writes a Nero, it's absolutely

indispensable that at least in his heart he shall have

set fire to Rome . . .
Clement. Of course.
Gilbert. Where else is one to get inspiration except from

oneself? Where is one to find models except in the

life around one? (Margaret is growing more and

more uneasy.)
Clement. The trouble is that the model's consent is so

seldom asked. I'm bound to say, if I were a woman,

I shouldn't thank a man for telling the world . . .

{Sharply.) In decent society we call that . . . com-
promising a woman.
Gilbert. I don't know whether I may include myself in

' ' decent society ' ' — but I call that doing honor to

a woman.
Clement. Oh !
Gilbert. The essential thing is to hit the mark. What,

in the higher sense, does it matter whether a woman

has been happy in one man's arms or another's?
Clement. Herr Gilbert, I will call your attention to the

fact that you are speaking in the presence of a lady !



358 THE GEEMAN CLASSICS

Gilbert. I am speaking in the presence of an old comrade
who may be supposed to share my views on these
matters.

Clement. Oh . . . !

Margaret {suddenly). Clement . . . ! {Throws herself
at his feet.) Clement . . . !

Clement {taken aback). Really . . . really, Margaret!

Margaret. Forgive me, Clement!

Clement. But — Margaret . . . ! {To Gilbert.) It is
extremely unpleasant for me, Herr Gilbert . . . Get
up, Margaret — get up! It's all right. (Margaret
looks up at him inquiringly.) Yes — get up! {She
rises.) It's all right — it's all settled. You may
believe me when I tell you. All you 've got to do is to
telephone a single word to Kunigel. I've arranged
everything mth him. We'll call it in — you agree to
that?

Gilbert. What are you going to call in, may I ask? Her
novel?

Clement. Oh, you know about it? It would seem, Herr
Gilbert, that the comradeship you speak of has been
brought pretty well up to date.

Gilbert. Yes . . . There is really nothing for me to do
but to ask your pardon. I am really in a very embar-
rassing position . . .

Clement. I regret very much, Herr Gilbert, that you have
been forced to be a spectator of a scene which I may
almost describe as domestic ...

Gilbert. Ah . . . well, I do not wish to intrude any
further — I will wish you good day. May I, as a tangi-
ble token that all misunderstanding between us has
been cleared up, as a feeble evidence of my good wishes,
present you. Baron, with a copy of my latest novel?

Clement. You are very kind, Herr Gilbert. I must own,
to be sure, that German novels are not my pet weak-
ness. Well, this is probably the last I shall read — or
the next to the last . . .



LITERATURE 359

Margaret, Gilbert. The next to the last . . . ?

Clement. Yes.

Margaret. And the last to be . . . ?

Clement. Yours, my dear. {Takes a hook from his
pocket.) You see, I begged Kiinigel for a single copy,
in order to present it to you — or rather to both of us.
(Margaret and Gilbert exchange distracted glances.)

Margaret. How good you are! {Takes the book from
him.) Yes . . . that's it!

Clement. We'll read it together.

Margaret. No, Clement . . . no . . „ I can't let you
be so good! There . . . ! {Throws the book into the
fire.) I don't want to hear any more of all that.

Gilbert {delighted). Oh, but . . . !

Clement {goes toward the chimney). Margaret . . , !
What are you doing?

Margaret {stands in front of fire, throws her arms round
Clement). Noiv will you believe that I love you?

Gilbert {much relieved). I think I am rather in the way
. . . Good-by . . . good day, Baron . . . {Aside.)
To think that I should have to miss a climax like
that . . .! lExit.']



FRANK WEDEKIND



THE COURT SINGER
A Play in One Act

DRAMATIS PERSONS



Geraedo, Imperial and Royal Court Singer

Mes. Helen Marowa

Pkofessok Duheing

Miss Isabel Coeubne

MtJLLEE, hotel proprietor

A valet

An elevator hoy

A piano teacher

[360]



II





FRANK WEDEKIND



THE COURT SINGER (1900)

TRANSLATED BY ALBERT WILHELM BOESCHE, PH.D.
Assistant Professor of German, Cornell University

Scenery

Pretentiously furnished room in a hotel. Entrance from the corridor in
the centre; also side doors. In front to the right a window with heavy
closed curtains. To the left a grand piano. Behind the piano a Jap-
anese screen covering the fireplace. Big ojyen trunks are standing
around. Enormous laurel wreaths on several upholstered armchairs.
A mass of bouquets are distributed about the room, some of them being
piled up on the piano.

Scene I
Valet de chambre. Immediately afterward an elevator hoy.
'^s^^ian ^AJLKT (enters with an armful of clothes from
the adjoining room, puts them into one of
the big trunks. Knocks on the door; he
-^^__^ ^ straightens up). Well? — Come in!



Enter an elevator boy.

Boy. There's a woman downstairs w^ants to know if Mr.
Gerardo is in.

Valet. No, he isn't in. (Exit elevator bog. Valet goes
into the adjoining room, returns with another armful
of clothes. Knock on the door. He lays the clothes
aside and walks to the door.) Well, who's this now?
{Opens the door, receives three or four large bouquets,
comes forward ivith them and lays them carefully on
the piano, then resumes packing. Another knock, he
goes to the door, opens it, receives a batch of letters
in all varieties of colors, comes forivard and examines
the addresses. ) * ' Mr. Gerardo. " — ' * Courtsinger
Gerardo. ' ' — ' ' Monsieur Gerardo. ' ' — ' * Gerardo Esq. ' '

[3G1]



362 THE GEEMAN CLASSICS

— ' ' To the Most Honorable Courtsinger Gerardo ' ' —
that 's from the chambermaid, sure ! — " Mr. Gerardo,
Imperial and Eoyal Courtsinger." {Puts the letters
on a tray, then continues packing.)



Scene II
Gerardo, valet, later the elevator hoy.

Gerardo. What, aren't you through with packing yet? —
How long does it take you to pack?

Vai.et. I'll be through in a minute, Sir.

Gerardo. Be quick about it. I have some work left to do
before I go. Come, let me have a look at things.
{He reaches into one of the trunks.) Great Heavens,
man ! Don't you know how to fold a pair of trousers?
{Takes out the garment in question.) Do you call that
packing? Well I do believe, I might teach you a thing
or two, though, surely, you ought to be better at this
than I! Look here, that's the way to take hold of a
pair of trousers. Then hook them here. Next, turn
to these two buttons. Watch closely now, it all
depends on these two buttons; and then — pull — the
trousers straight. There you are ! Now finish up by
folding them once — like this. That's the way. They
won't lose their shape now in a hundred years!

Valet {quite reverent, with eyes cast down). Perhaps
Mr. Gerardo used to be a tailor once.

Gerardo. What? A tailor, I? Not quite. Simpleton!
{Handing the trousers to him.) There, put them back,
but be quick about it.

Valet {bending down over the trunk). There's another
batch of letters for you. Sir.

Gerardo {walking over to the left). Yes, I've seen them.

Valet. And flowers !

Gerardo. Yes, yes. {Takes the letters from the tray and
throws himself into an armchair in front of the piano.)
Now, for pity's sake, hurry up and get through.



THE COURT SINGER 363

{Valet disappears in adjoining room. Gerardo opens
the letters, glances through them with a radiant smile,
crumples them up and throivs them under his chair.
From one of them he reads as folloivs:) " . . .To
belong to you who to me are a god! To make me
infinitely happy for the rest of my life, how little that
would cost you ! Consider, please, . . ." {To him-
self.) Great Heavens! Here I am to sing Tristan
in Brussels tomorrow night and don't remember a
single note! — Not a single note! {Looking at his
watch.) Half -past three. — Forty-five minutes left.
{A knock. ) Come i - n !

Boy {lugging in a basket of champagne) . I was told to put
this in Mr. . . .

Gekaiido. Who told you? — Who is downstairs?

Boy. I was told to put this in Mr. Gerardo 's room.

Gerardo {rising). What is it? {Relieves him of the
basket.) Thank you. {Exit elevator boy. Gerardo
lugs basket forward.) For mercy's sake! Now what
am I to do with this ! {Reads the name on the giver's
card and calls out.) George!

Valet {enters from the adjoining room with another arm-
ful of clothes). It's the last lot. Sir. {Distributes
them among the various trunks ivhich he then closes.)

Gerardo. Very well. — I am at home to no one !

Valet. I know. Sir.

Gerardo. To no one, I say!

Valet. You may depend on me, Sir. {Handing him the
trunk kegs.) Here are the keys, Mr. Gerardo.

Gerardo {putting the keys in his pocket). To no one!

Valet. The trunks will be taken down at once. {Starts
to leave the room.)

Gerardo. Wait a moment . . .

Valet {returning). Yes, Sir?

Gerardo {gives him a tip). What I said was: to no one!

Valet. Thank you very much indeed. Sir. [Exit.']



364 THE GEEMAN CLASSICS

Scene III

Geraedo (alone, looking at his watch). Half an hour left.
{Picks out the piano arrangement of " Tristan and
Isolde " from under the flowers on the piano and, walk-
ing up and down, sings mezza voce:)

''Isolde! Beloved! Art thou mine!

Once more my own? May I embrace thee? "
(Clears his throat, strikes two thirds on the piano and
begins anew:)

''Isolde! Beloved! Art thou mine?
Once more my own? . . ."
(Clears his throat.) The air is simply infernal in
here! (Sings:)

" Isolde! Beloved! ..."
I feel as if there were a leaden weight on me ! I must
have a breath of fresh air, quick ! (Goes to the window
and tries to find the cord by which to dratv the curtain
aside. ) Where can that thing be ? — On the other side.
There! (Draws the curtain aside quickly and seeing
Miss CoEURNE before him, throws back his head in a
sort of mild despair.) Goodness gracious!

Scene IV
Miss Coeurne. Gerardo

Miss CoEURNE (sixteen years old, short skirts, loose-hang-
ing light hair. Has a bouquet of red roses in her hand,
speaks with an English accent, looks at Gerardo with
a full and frank expression). Please, do not send me
away.

Gerardo. What else am I to do with you ? Heaven knows
I did not ask you to come here. It would be wrong
of you to take it amiss but, you see, I have to sing
tomorrow night. I must tell you frankly. I thought
I should have this half hour to myself. Only just now
I've given special and strictest orders not to admit
anybody, no matter who it might be.



THE COURT SINGER 365

Miss Coeurne {stepping forivard). Do not send me away.
I heard you as Tannhauser last night and came here
merely to offer you these roses.

Geraedo. Yes ? — Well ? — And — ?

Miss CoEURNE. And myself ! — I hope I am saying it right.

Geeardo {grasps the hack of a chair; after a short struggle
tuith himself he shakes his head). Who are you?

Miss Coeurne. Miss Coeurne.

Gerardo. I see.

Miss Coeurne. I am still quite a simple girl.

Gerardo. I know. But come here, Miss Coeurne. {Sits
down in an armchair and draws her up in front of him.)
Let me have a serious talk with you, such as you have
never heard before in your young life but seem to need
very much at the present time. Do you think because
I am an artist — now don't misunderstand me, please.
You are — how old are you?

Miss Coeurne. Twenty-two.

Gerardo. You are sixteen, at most seventeen. You make
yourself several years older in order to appear more
attractive to me. Well now? You are still quite
simple, to be sure. But, as I was going to say, my
being an artist certainly does not impose upon me the
duty to help you to get over being simple ! Don 't take
it amiss. Well? Why are you looking away now?

Miss Coeurne. I told you I was still very simple because
that's the way they like to have young girls here in
Germany.

Gerardo. I am not a German, my child, but at the same
time . . .

Miss Coeurne. Well? — I am not so simple, after all.

Gerardo. I am no children's nurse either! That's not
the right word, I feel it, for — you are no longer a
child, unf ortunatelv ?

Miss Coeurne. No ! — Unfortunately ! — Not now.



366 THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Gerardo. But you see, my dear young woman — you have
your games of tennis, you have your skating club, you
may go bicycling or take mountain trips with your lady
friends. You may enjoy yourself swimming or riding
on horseback or dancing whichever you like. I am
sure you have everything a young girl could wish for.
Then why do you come to me?

Miss Coeurne. Because I hate all of that and because it 's
such a bore !

Gerardo. You are right; I won't dispute what you say.
Indeed, you embarrass me. I myself, I must frankly
confess, see something else in life. But, my child, I
am a man and I am thirty-six years old. The time
will come when you may likewise lay claim to a deeper
and fuller life. Get two years older and, I am sure,
the right one will turn up for you. Then it will not be
necessary for you to come unasked to me, that is to say
to one whom you do not know any more intimately
than — all Europe knows him — and to conceal your-
self behind the window curtains in order to get a taste
of the higher life. {Pause. Miss Coeurne breathes
heavily.) Well? — Let me thank you cordially and
sincerely for your roses! [Presses her hand.) Will
you be satisfied with that for today?

Miss Coeurne. As old as I am, I never yet gave a thought
to a man until I saw you on the stage yesterday as
Tannhauser. — And I will promise you . . .

Gerardo. Oh please, child, don't promise me anything.
How can a promise you might make at the present time
be of any value to me ? The disadvantage of it would
be entirely yours. You see, my child, the most loving
father could not speak more lovingly to you than I.
Thank a kind providence for not having been delivered
into some other artist's hands by your indiscretion.
{Presses her hand.) Let it be a lesson to you for the
rest of your life and be satisfied with that.

Miss Coeurne {covering her face with her handkerchief,
in an undertone, without tears). Am I so ugly?



THE COURT SINGEE 367

Gerardo. Ugly? — How does that make you ugly? — You
are young and indiscreet! {Rises nervously, ivalhs
over to the left, returns, puts his arm around her and
takes her hand.) Listen to me, my child! If I have
to sing, if I am an artist by profession, how does that
make you ugly? What an unreasonable inference: I
am ugly, I am ugly. x\nd yet it is the same wherever
I go. Think of it! AVhen I've only a few minutes
left to catch the train, and tomorrow night it 's Tristan
. . . ! Do not misunderstand me, but surely, my being
a singer does not make it incumbent upon me to affirm
the charm of your youthfulness and beauty. Does
that make you ugly, my child? Make your appeal to
other people who are not as hard-pressed as I am. Do
you really think it would ever occur to me to, say such
a thing to you?

Miss CoEURNE. To say it? No. But to think it.

Gerardo. Now, Miss Coeurne, let us be reasonable! Do
not inquire into my thoughts about you. Really, at
this moment they do not concern us in the least. I
assure you, and please take my word for it as an artist,
for I could not be more honest to you: I am unfor
tunately so constituted that I simply cannot bear to
see any creature w^hatsoever suffer, not even the
meanest. {Looking at her critically, hut with dignity.)
And for you, my child, I am sincerely sorry; I may
say that much, after you have so far fought down
your maidenly pride as to wait for me here. But
please, Miss Coeurne, do take into account the life I
have to lead. Just think of the mere question of time !



Online LibraryKuno FranckeThe German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) → online text (page 26 of 34)