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" Who? What is the matter with you? "

" Engelhardt! He is standing at the ' Rajah's ' door.
He is taking away his soul."

''AVhat's that you say?" Michael Petroff laughed

' ' I saw him standing there. Don 't let him come near me.
Oh good God!"

' ' Hush ! ' ' interrupted Michael Petroff. ' ' I will attend
to it."

The lawyer clung to his knees. *' He will come in here!
Oh my God, my God ! ' '

'' My dear friend," Michael Petroff reassured him, " con-
trol yourself. He shall not come in here. I promise you.
But I must go and see ! ' '

The little lawyer cowered on the floor and covered his
face with his hands. But Michael Petroff' left the room.
After a while he came back, looking somcAvhat pale, but
laughing to keep his courage up.

'* Yes," he said in a low tone, '* he is standing at the
'Rajah's' door listening. What makes you tremble so,
my friend? "

" Don't leave me! " whispered the lawyer, still covering
his face with his hands.

The '' Rajah " lay motionless in his bed, gazing far, far


away with his great, brilliant eyes. His swarthy face
was transfigured by a solemn peace and resignation. He
declined to get up and refused all nourishment. Dr. Marz
took his temperature and found it somewhat low, and his
pulse rather slow, but he could not discover any symptoms
of bodily disorder or of an approaching illness. With
cheerful earnestness he advised the "Rajah" to get up
and to eat, but as the " Rajah " did not answer, he left him
in peace. He was accustomed to his patients' whims and
knew that they went as suddenly as they came.

But Engelhardt, on the contrary, caused him great
anxiety. In spite of long continued baths and all sorts
of quieting treatments, he had passed another sleepless
and excited night. He now lay in a sort of half sleep, and
shrank and trembled with the effort that his horrible delu-
sion required of him. He heard voices, the cries of millions
of men, who wrung their hands and begged him not to give
them up to destruction, he heard the ringing of bells, the
chanting of processions, the prayers of emperors and kings,
bishops and popes. His skin was dry and parched, his
pulse was rapid and unsteady. Dr. Marz sat for a long
time by his bedside watching him attentively, and some-
times, closing his eyes for a moment, he would recall with
lightning rapidity all his knowledge and experience of such
cases. At last, with a thoughtful and baffled air, he left

But an hour later he was beside him again.

The patients in the ward showed that special form of
nervousness that was always present whenever the fre-
quent visits of the doctor indicated that some one was very
ill. They walked quietly, spoke in undertones, and many
of them refused to leave the room at all. The little lawyer
hardly dared to stir and begged the thousands of birds,
that lived in his room, to be very quiet, when he put their
bread and water on the table. Again and again some
unknown power drove him to look through the keyhole.


He would stand there a long time, covering his left eye with
his hand as children do and peering with his right at the
white wall of the corridor. But whenever a passer-by
darkened his outlook, he would shrink back startled. If
he had to go out to attend to his flowers, he opened the
door slowly and silently and walked backward, fixing his
eyes on Engelhardt's door, until he reached the steps.
There he would turn quickly and hurry away, possessed
by the fear that a hand would suddenly seize him by the
coat collar.

Michael Petroff was the only one upon w^hom the general
restlessness had no effect. He sat at his writing table,
cut out his cases, numbered, registered, pasted, wrote. He
shook his head smilingly over the little lawyer's terror,
but promised him his protection in any case.

* ' Make your mind easy, my friend ! ' ' said he patroniz-
ingly. '' So long as I am living, you have no cause for
anxiety! " And with a pompous air he added: " I have
been to see him. He told me that the '' Rajah " had prom-
ised him his soul. Voila tout. You may rely on Michael

' ' I thank you ! ' ' whispered the lawyer, and started to
kiss Michael Petroff 's hand.

'' Oh no ! Why should you? " said Michael Petroff, but
he felt pleased and flattered.

The lawyer was calmer as he turned away. But in the
night he heard Engelhardt crying out and crept under the
bedclothes with his teeth chattering. It seemed to him as
if he were buried in the ground, on a high mountain and
he scarcely dared to breathe for fear. But just then he
saw an enormous flock of birds flying swiftly over the sky
in a gentle curve. He beckoned to them and called out:
'* Where are you going?" — ''Come too, come too!"
chirped the birds in answer. ' ' To Vienna, to Vienna ! ' '
and they flew away in the distance. The lawyer gazed
after them and fell asleep.



The " Rajah's " strength failed visibly, although arti-
ficial nourishment was given him, by Dr. Marz's orders.
He was fading away as fast as twilight in the tropics. His
brown face and hands had taken on a dull gray hue, like
dry garden earth, and his broad and powerful chest rose
and sank rapidly and silently under the bedclothes. His
eyelids, which were paler than his face, drooped so as to
half cover his eyes, but as soon as any one entered the
room, they opened slowly, and his large, brilliant eyes
rested questioningly on the newcomer.

His pulse was growing weak and rapid, and Dr. Marz sat
almost constantly at the sick man's bedside. The rapid
loss of strength was incomprehensible to the Doctor, and
the inexplicable and rapid decline of the heart action caused
especial anxiety. He sat there, closing his eyes from time
to time, observed the patient, considered, tried all conceiv-
able means — and by evening he knew that the " Rajah "
was beyond all human aid.

" How is he. Doctor? " asked Michael Petroff, who had
been watching for the Doctor in the corridor, and nodded
his head toward the " Rajah's " door.

'' Oh, not so badly off ! " answered Dr. Marz absent-

Michael Petroff laughed softly behind his back. Then
he went at once to the lawyer's room.

'' The ' Rajah ' is dying! " he said with a triumphant

The lawyer looked up at him timidly; he did not answer.

' ' Yes ! ' ' Michael Petroff sat down in a cane-seated
chair, and drew up his trousers a little, so as not to get
them out of shape at the knees. ' ' I asked the Doctor just
now. He answered : ' Not so badly off. ' Now that means
that the ' Rajah ' is dying. When Heinrich was dying,
Heinrich who used to sing the jolly songs that you laughed
at so, my friend, what did the Doctor say? ' Not so badly
off ! ' And Heinrich died. Oh yes ! I understand the


The little lawyer wrapped himself in his shawl. He was

'* He is sucking tLe soul out of his body," continued
Michael Petroff with an important air. ' ' He understands
his business, Engelhardt does. How did he manage with
Schwindt, the attendant? The very same way, don't
you see! "

And Michael Petroff left the room, rubbing his hands
cheerfully. He was interested in everything that went on
around him, in everything that he saw through. There was
news — ! In the best of spirits, he sat down at his writing
table to give the final touches to his article: '* Doctor
Marz arrested."

That very night, toward three o'clock, the *' Rajah " died.
It was a warm, still night and the moonlight was so bright
that one could read out of doors. The patients were rest-
less, they cleared their throats, walked up and down and
talked together. But once in a while they would all be
silent: that w^as when Engelhardt began to scream out.
* ' I can 't bear it any longer ! ' ' And then he would declaim
aloud the petitions that kings and princes addressed to him
on their knees.

The little lawyer had not dared to go to bed. He sat
fully dressed on the sofa, with all his blankets wrapped
around him. And yet he was so cold that his teeth chat-
tered. Whenever Engelhardt began to cry out, he moved
his lips in prayer and crossed himself.

Michael Petroff, on the contrarj^ had gone to bed with
complete unconcern. He lay, with his arms under his head,
and pondered over a suitable title for his next paper. For
this time he would take the Doctor by surprise, he would
catch him — just wait and see! What was the sense of a
title like the Non-Partisan, if you please ? Could one over-
come this case-hardened Doctor w^ith that? What? Oh,
no, no. Surelv not. The title must smell of fire and brim-
stone. It must be like the stroke of a sword, like the


muzzle of a gun aimed at the Doctor — for Dr. Marz must
be startled when he reads the title ! And after much reflec-
tion, Michael Petroff decided that this time he would call
his paper The Sword of the Archangel. He could plainly
see this Archangel sweeping obliquely forward, with ter-
rible fluttering garments and an appalling and angry mien,
holding his sword with both hands somewhat backward
above his head. And this sword, that was as sharp as a
razor and very broad at the back, slit the firmament open
and a steaming bloodred stream appeared. This steaming
red stream gave Michael Petroff a feeling of luxurious
delight. He sat up and said : ' ' Just wait ! Ha, ha ! "

But suddenly he covered his eyes with his hand. A dim,
longing pain had come over him, and he could not tell why.

''Michael Petroff—?" said he softly, "Michael Pet-
roff — ? " and the tears sprung to his eyes. And so, with
his hand over his wet eyes and a confused sorrow in his
heart, he fell asleep.

He was sleeping soundly when he was awakened by a
knock at his door: ''It is I, the attendant, don't be
startled. ' '

"^Aliat is it!"

The attendant stepped in and said in an undertone:
' ' Dr. Marz told me to ask you to come. The teacher wants
to speak to you."

"The teacher?"

" The ' Eajah,' you know."

' ' You do not know what he wants of me ? "
No, Dr. Marz has sent for you."
Very well, I will come."

Michael Petroff rose and made his toilet slowly and
scrupulously. The attendant came back and begged him
to hurry. Michael Petroff was tying his cravat carefully.
" I am coming at once," said he impatiently, " but I can't
make a call half dressed."

Finally he was ready; he looked in the glass a moment,
stroked his moustache and stepped out.


' ' Oh Captain ! ' ' whispered the little lawyer through the
crack of the door, for the knocking and talking in Petroff 's
room had made him still more anxious. " I beg you — ! "

** I am in a hurry," answered Michael Petroff, and
hastened along the corridor. As he passed Engelhardt's
door he heard him declaiming: '' We pray thee, do not
destroy the dome of the world. Praised be thy name! "
And with an altered, gasping voice Engelhardt went on:
''I am struggling, I am struggling — !" In the room
overhead a step went restlessly up and down, back and
forth, like the distant throbbing of a machine.

Then the attendant opened the door of the " Rajah's "
room and Michael Petroff stepped in.

'' Good morning! " said he, loudly and cheerfully, as if
it were broad daylight and as if the " Rajah " were not a
dying man. " Good morning, Doctor. Here I am. — Good
morning — Prince! " he added more softly after a glance
at the " Rajah." " Michael Petroff, Captain in the Rus-
sian army."

The "Rajah's" appearance had greatly impressed
Michael Petroff. The " Rajah " was sitting up in bed with
his great dark eyes fixed upon him. A shaded electric light
burned above his head, but in spite of the dim light the
'' Rajah's " face, framed by his dark hair and beard, shone
like dull gold, yes, it positively shone. And it was this
strange brightness which had so impressed Michael Petroff
that he spoke more softly and addressed him as Prince.
He had, in fact, never seriously considered who the
" Rajah " really was. He was a Prince, who possessed a
great kingdom somewhere and lived in exile. Now Michael
Petroff believed all this without thinking very much about
it. Yet at this moment he understood that the '' Rajah "
was a Prince, and he entirely altered his bearing toward


* ' You were pleased to send for me ? " said he, with timid
hesitation, and bowed.

The " Rajah " turned his face toward Dr. Miirz.



*' I thank you, Sir," he said', in a deep, quiet voice, whose
tone had changed. " I know that you could have refused
me this favor, since I am your prisoner."

My dear friend ' ' — answered the Doctor, but the

Rajah " paid no further attention to him.

* * I sent for you, ' ' he said, turning to Michael Petroff,
* * in order that you may write down my last will and

" I am at your disposal, '' answered Michael Petroff,
bowing slightly.

" Then write what I tell you."

Michael Petroff felt in his pockets confusedly. '' I will
run, ' ' said he, ' ' I will be back at once ' ' — and he left the
room rapidly, to bring pencil and paper from his office.

" Michael Petroff — " whispered the little lawyer plead-
ingly. ' ' You are leaving me — ? "

"The 'Rajah' commands me!" answered Michael
Petroff impatiently, and hurried past the trembling law-
yer's little outstretched hands back to the dying man's

" Here I am, pardon me? " he stammered breathlessly.

" Then write! " said the '' Rajah."

Michael seated himself properly and the ''Rajah"
began :

" We, Rajah of Mangalore, banished by the English Gov-
ernment, too noble to harbor feelings of revenge toward
our enemies, since we are dying, in order to rescue our
subjects, make known to our people:

' ' We greet you, our people ! We greet the palm forests
that shelter the temples of our ancestors! We greet the
blue river that refreshes our land ! " —

Michael Petroff, who was writing busily and industri-
ously what the "Rajah" dictated, looked up as the
" Rajah " paused. He saw that two great tears were fall-
ing from the "Rajah's" brilliant dark eyes. They ran
down his thin but strangely glowing cheeks into his beard.

The " Rajah " raised his hand with a dignified gesture.
Then he went on to the end calmly and majestically:


* * We grant a universal amnesty ! All our dungeons and
prisons are to be opened and then burned to ashes. From
this time forth no more blood shall be shed! "

* * Oh, my Lord — my Prince — ! " whispered Michael
Petroff as he wrote.

*' There shall no longer be an army in our land and no
man shall go begging with his bowl. The treasure in our
vaults shall be equally shared among our people. Neither
castes nor classes shall exist from this time forth. All men
shall be equal and all shall be brothers and sisters.

*' The aged shall have their huts to die in, and to the
children we bequeath the meadows to play in. To the sick
we grant health, and to the unhappy sleep, quiet sleep.
There shall be no more war and no more hatred between
the peoples, whatever their color, for so we decree. The
judges shall be wise and just, and to evil doers one
must say: Go and be happy, for unhappiness causes evil

* ' To mankind w^e grant the earth, that they may occupy
the same, to the fish we give the waters and the sea, to
the birds the heavens, and to the beasts the forests, and the
meadows that lie hidden amongst them!

* ' But you, our own people, we bless and kiss you, for we
are d5-ing."

The ^' Rajah " raised his hands in benediction and sank
back upon the pillows.

All w^ho were present remained motionless and gazed at
him. His chest rose and fell feebly and rapidly while his
lids drooped over his eyes and showed like bright spots in
his dark face.

Dr. Miirz stepped gently to the bedside.

Just then the '' Rajah " smiled. He threw his head back
and opened his lips, as if he were going to sing. But only
a thin, musical cry passed his lips, so high, so thin and so
far away that it seemed as if the " Rajah " were already
calling from some distant realm. It was the cry of the
street venders in the Orient.



The *' Rajah " was dead.

Michael Petroff stood on tiptoes and gazed with parted
lips at the pale, mysteriously beautiful face that shone be-
neath the rich dark hair. He felt a" sense of shame. He
had lived so long with him w^ho was now dead, without
realizing who he was. He longed to kneel beside the dead
man's bed and whisper: '' Prince, my Prince! " But he
did not dare to approach, he was afraid and stole out of
the room.

After a while, when Dr. Marz stepped out into the cor-
ridor, he was impressed by the quiet that reigned in the
ward. There was not a sound to be heard. The muffled
tread overhead, that had paced back and forth for hours,
was still. And Engelhardt had ceased crying and groaning.

Dr. Marz went to the shoemaker's door. All was as still
as death within. He opened the door and listened. Engel-
hardt — was sleeping! His breathing was deep and regu-
lar . . . Dr. Marz shook his head and w^ent thoughtfully
out of the ward. On the steps leading to the garden he
lit a cigar and turned up his coat collar. He was shivering.

So now he is asleep, thought he, as he walked through
the moonlit garden, where the bushes cast long, pale
shadows. Is there any discoverable connection between
the teacher's death and Engelhardt 's sleep? And he
thought of one of his colleagues, who would invent a con-
nection in any case, and then he thought how much he would
enjoy a cup of strong coffee just now. Suddenly he
paused, slightly startled. In the moonlight a little man,
all wrapped up, was moving. It was the lawyer.

The little man had passed the whole night shivering and
trembling in his dark room. But when the first cock crowed
he had slipped out of the ward to^ water his flowers.

' ' Hush, hush ! " he whispered to the thousands of little
birds that began to chirp in the bushes as soon as he came
near. ' ' Sleep a bit longer, little ones I ' '



And while he was watering the flowers, he quite forgot
the night, the '' Rajah," and Engelhardt w^ho needed an-
other soul, and began to smile. " Good morning, my pets
he said softly, '' here I am, I have come back to you

But in Michael Petroff 's room the light was burning.

Michael Petroff was sitting at his writing table, smiling
and goodhumored, writing diligently. For the impression
that the " Rajah's " death had made upon him had van-
ished as quickly as the tears that he had shed for him.
He was now working on an article which he regarded as a
marvelously important contribution for his newspaper.
And this work brought back his happy cheerful spirits.

In the neatest characters he wrote :

* ' A telegram ! The Rajah of Mangalore — against whose
exile we have registered our telegraphic protest with the
English Government — fell gently asleep tonight toward
three o'clock. We had the honor to be present at his death-
bed and to draw up the last will and testament of this great
ruler. We will favor our readers with a copy:

*''We, Rajah of Mangalore, banished by the English
Government, too noble to harbor feelings of revenge toward
our enemies, since we are dying, in order to rescue our
subjects, make known to our people . . . ' "

Only as the sun rose did Michael Petroff lie down to rest.


By Amelia von Ende

PERIOD of transition in a nation's life is not

the best foundation upon which to rear a new

literature. The change of religious, moral,

I social and political standards from their

well-established and time-honored base to

new and untried planes does not favor the development of
minds, well-defined and well-balanced, and of characters,
able to translate a cleaiA purpose into consistent achievement.
Germany passed through such a change toward the end
of the nineteenth century. The unification of the Empire
with its era of material prosperity and progress strength-
ened the roots of national consciousness ; the gospel of the
superman with its absolute ego-cult stimulated individual
self-assertion ; the wave of altruism which swept across the
world at the same time roused the slumbering sense of
social responsibility. These three forces — national con-
sciousness, individual self assertion, social responsibility —
profoundly affected the character of the young generation
growing up in the newly reestablished Empire. Embracing
each of these principles in turn, theorizing about them, the
young men and women of the time became unsettled. With
the gradual realization of the seriousness of the under-
lying ideas grew the desire to experiment with them in life,
to prove them by practice. In the attempt to live these new
ideals the individual became involved in a conflict with the
old conscience that no philosophy had yet been able to argue
away, and the road out of this dilemma lay along the line
of least resistance, which consisted in drifting with the
changing tides. The result was the gradual evolution of a
type of hero which modified the drama of the country.
While the hero of old encountered and conquered obstacles
mainly of external circumstance and complication, the



hero of the present is the victim of doubts and moods
rooted within himself, defeating his purpose and paralyzing
his will.

The modern German drama deals with these conditions
and characters. The writers whose creative instinct awoke
in the seventies stood upon the firm ground of old tradi-
tions and were inspired by the optimism of the national
renascence. The writers who responded to the same in-
stinct in the eighties stood on the plane of a philosophy
which had undermined the old traditions and conventions
and had not yet crystallized into constructive principles
that could safely guide the individual through life. Their
souls wavered between self-realization and self-renuncia-
tion; their minds eagerly followed the example of Ibsen
inquiring into individual motives and responsibilities, and
their eyes were at the same time opened to the economic
struggle of the masses which had roused the social con-
science. A world unknown to the poets of the previous
generation, or ignored by them, had come A\dthin the range
of vision ; it engaged not only the humanitarian 's sympathy
and the philosopher's speculation, but the artist's interest.
It was studied for its scientific meaning and exploited for
its esthetic possibilities.

The floodgates of a literature rich in stimulating ideas
were opened and the new subject-matter demanded a new
manner, a new style. The influence of Darwin was not lost
upon the young generation. The significance of circum-
stance and environment in the making of man led to a
minute painting of the milieu, of the external setting of
each individual life at every moment of its existence in
drama or fiction. The language of the characters became
the language of their class in ordinary life. The action
was immediately and directly transferred to the written
page and became a record of unadorned reality. The cry
for truth became one of the party cries of the period.
Naturalistic fiction and naturalistic drama came into being.

Within the brief space of less than twenty-five years were



born three men whose literary personalities represent this
development of German drama. Ernst von Wildenbmch
in the main held fast to the traditions of the past, which he
treated in historical plays in the manner of a poet who had
matured in the period of Germany's unification and was
inspired with the consciousness of national renascence.
Hermann Sudermann, who rose on the horizon just as the
old traditions began to weaken, chose to ignore the past,
took his cue from the social note of the present, but sought
a compromise with the old forms and with the taste of the
great mass of the people. Gerhart Hauptmann, the young-
est of the three, discarded all precedent and built upon new
foundations with new material in a new manner. By the
success which he gained in spite of his uncompromising atti-
tude, he became the leader of the young generation.

The intellectual atmosphere in the decade that witnessed
the advent of Sudermann and Hauptmann was extraordi-
narily alive and stimulating and the drama was chosen by an
amazing number of young aspirants to literary fame as the
vehicle of the message they had for the world. The plays
of the period suggest the fermentation going on in the young

Online LibraryKuno FranckeThe German classics : masterpieces of German literature translated into English (Volume 20) → online text (page 8 of 34)