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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IX - Friedrich Hebbel and Otto Ludwig
Author: Various
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FORESTER.

What do you mean by "stalking about?"

WEILER.

On his four legs he stood by the boundary forest in the oats, and was eating.

FORESTER.

Who?

WEILER.

The stag from Luetzdorf.

FORESTER (emphatically).

A stag does not—eat; he browses.

WEILER.

All right!

SOPHY (waiting on him).

But what is your news?

WEILER.

Well—

SOPHY.

I wonder whether I shall hear anything now? If I don't care to know anything, then you never get through talking.

FORESTER (stands before him; severely).

Weiler, do you hear?

WEILER.

Well, Godfrey. Today he has grown six inches; he immediately put on his laced hat, girded on his hunting knife and drank two bitters and a half dozen glasses of whisky more than usual; in consequence he has need of a road that's broader than the ordinary by half.

FORESTER.

Have you done eating?

WEILER.

Almost. But tell me, who is now the real forester of Duesterwalde? The other fellow is already giving orders to the woodcutters for the clearing, so he must be the forester. But you also act as if you were still forester.

FORESTER.

You may be sure, I still am. I am forester of Duesterwalde, and nobody else.

WEILER.

You intend to carry your point? But I'll tell you who is in the right nowadays [makes a pantomime of counting money]—whoever has the longest breath.—Who is coming there in such a hurry?



SCENE VII

WILKENS enters as hurriedly as his figure permits. WEILER eating; FORESTER; SOPHY.

WILKENS (while entering).

But what in the world has happened here? Good-day to you all.

SOPHY (alarmed).

Happened! But for heaven's sake—has anything happened?

FORESTER.

You immediately lose your head.

WILKENS.

You'll see, you obstinate fellow!

SOPHY.

But what is the meaning of all this?

WILKENS.

How should I know? On the road I meet that crazy John, and he is gesticulating with his arms as if he were striking some one, and points in the direction of the forester's house—

FORESTER.

He was pointing toward the forest; he meant to call attention to the clearing—

WILKENS.

I really was going in another direction, but I thought I'd better see. And immediately I see some one standing absorbed in thought, not far from the house. It's Andrew. You ask him, I say to myself. Well! As he hears me coming he starts up, gives me a wild look, and—is gone. I call after him. Well! It seems he has forgotten his name. I run after him, but he—disappears, as if he had an evil conscience.

SOPHY.

I wonder what that can mean.

FORESTER (calls out of the window, with authority).

Andrew!

WILKENS.

There he comes.



SCENE VIII

The same. The PASTOR; WEILER seated. WEILER.

It's the pastor! [All exchange greetings.]

SOPHY.

God be praised! Our good pastor!

FORESTER.

You are under the impression that you are coming to the betrothal, pastor, but—

PASTOR.

I know all that has been going on here.

FORESTER.

Mr. Stein—

PASTOR.

I have just come from him. And the message I have to give you—I know, you will not receive it less kindly because I am the messenger.

SOPHY.

If you come from Mr. Stein, then everything may still end well. But, pastor, you do not know how obstinate that man is.

PASTOR.

How so? I know everything. But yet he is not the chief culprit; otherwise I should not be here as Stein's ambassador. He is willing to take the first step.

WILKENS.

I should not take it, if I were the master.

PASTOR.

Yes, old friend Ulrich, Stein is sorry that his impetuosity was the cause of spoiling this beautiful day.

FORESTER.

Do you hear that, cousin Wilkens?

PASTOR.

The threat about dismissal was not meant as seriously as it sounded.

FORESTER.

Do you hear, Weiler?

PASTOR.

That the matter should rest there—

FORESTER.

Should rest there? Pray, what does he mean by that?

PASTOR.

He means that he could not retract his word immediately without making himself ridiculous. He thinks you would see this yourself.

FORESTER (drawling).

Indeed? And Godfrey?

PASTOR (shrugs his shoulders).

Is forester of Duesterwalde for the time being. That cannot be helped—

FORESTER.

That is what you say. But I tell you Godfrey is not. I am the forester of Duesterwalde. That I am, and that I remain, until Mr. Stein proves that I have not acted in accordance with my duty.

PASTOR.

But, in order that you might see how ready he is, for his part, to redress his share of the wrong and to reestablish the old comfortable relation, you are to draw the double amount of your present salary as a pension.

[FORESTER walks up and down, and whistles.]

PASTOR.

Thus far my message, old friend; and now—

FORESTER (stops in front of the pastor).

For what, sir? Does he think of buying my honor with it? Sir, my honor is not to be bought with money.

[Walks up and down, and whistles.]

PASTOR.

But, queer old friend—

WILKENS.

Yes, if he would only listen to one!

FORESTER (as before).

Is that pension to be given from charity? I need no charity. I can work. I will have nothing gratis. I accept no alms. I know he cannot dismiss me, if I have not been unfaithful. That I know from several instances—for example, hunter Rupert in Erdmansgruen. If I allowed myself to be dismissed without protest, it would be tantamount to a confession that I were dishonest. Nothing could be proved against Rupert, and he remained in his position. And who will employ a man that has been dismissed? Sir, from my father and grandfather I have inherited my honor, and I owe it to my children and children's children. Before me my father occupied this post, and my grandfather before my father. Throughout the whole valley people call me the Hereditary Forester. I am the first of my race to be dismissed. Go out into my forest, sir, and if it is not a sight to gladden your soul—Sir, I have planted the forest as far as the church-yard. There my father and grandfather lie buried, and upon their tombstones you may read their masters' testimony: "They were honorable men and faithful servants." They are resting under green pine trees, as behooves huntsmen. Sir, and if my grandchild should ever come there and ask: "But why is he who planted the pines not resting under them? Why have we no business there? Was he a scoundrel, that his master had the right to dismiss him?" And when they are looking for my grave, and find it behind the church-yard wall? Sir, if you can live without your honor, it is well for you—or, rather, it is wicked of you. But you see, sir, for me there is only one choice: either by the side of my father and grandfather under the pine trees—or behind the church-yard wall. Sir, I am forester here, or Mr. Stein would be obliged to proclaim publicly that he has treated me as only a scoundrel would treat a man. My money I have spent for his forest. I will take out nothing but the staff with which I shall go forth into the world to seek in my old age a new position. But from me the disgrace must be removed, and to him it must ever remain attached. I am within my right, and I will maintain it. WILKENS. Within your right? Well! What will you do with your right? Right costs money. Right is a plaything for the rich, as horses and carriages. Well! With your talk about right and wrong! Your right, that is your obstinacy. You will even go so far as to snatch the clothes from the bodies of your wife and children, just to keep your obstinacy warm.

PASTOR.

But—



SCENE IX

The same. Enter WILLIAM.

WILLIAM.

Father, Andrew is outside, and refuses to come in. I told him that you had called him.

SOPHY.

Come, William, let us go out to Andrew.

FORESTER.

Keep quiet, woman. Are you going to make him completely crazy with your lamentations? Either you keep quiet, or you go in there, and I shall lock you in.

[Goes solemnly to the rear door.]

Andrew! Come in at once! Do you hear?



SCENE X

The same. Enter ANDREW. ANDREW at the door; when he sees the people he is going to withdraw.

FORESTER.

Andrew, you come in. Before your superior!

[Seats himself as if preparing for trial.]

The FORESTER, SOPHY, WEILER, WILLIAM on the left. The PASTOR, WILKENS on the right. ANDREW, who dares not look any one in the face, in the centre.

FORESTER.

Come here, forester's assistant Andrew Ulrich. Where do you come from?

ANDREW. From the nursery, father.

FORESTER.

Where is your rifle, Andrew Ulrich?

[ANDREW is silent.]

FORESTER.

Who has it?

ANDREW (in a hollow voice).

Godfrey.

[FORESTER rises involuntarily.]

SOPHY (in great alarm).

Ulrich!

FORESTER (sits down again).

Here no one has anything to say, except the forester's assistant Ulrich and his superior. Andrew—

ANDREW.

Father—

FORESTER.

Why do you not look at me?

ANDREW.

I no longer can look any one in the face. I want to go to America as cabin-boy. Let me go, father.

FORESTER.

Boy, it is your duty to answer when your superior asks. What is it that Godfrey has? Out with it!

ANDREW.

I was just at my task of taking out the maple trees in the nursery—

FORESTER.

As I had ordered you.

ANDREW.

Then came—

FORESTER.

Godfrey? Go on, Andrew Ulrich.

ANDREW.

With six woodcutters from the Brandsberg—

FORESTER.

From—go on, Andrew Ulrich.

ANDREW.

He was intoxicated—

WEILER (half audibly).

As usual—

[When the forester casts a look at him, he pretends not to have said anything.]

ANDREW.

And so were the woodcutters. He had them pass the bottle round. "Here we begin," he said. "Ulrich has made a fine mess of it," he said; "for that reason he is dismissed." When he had said that I stepped forward forward—

FORESTER.

You stepped forward?—

[Rises.]

ANDREW.

And said he was a miserable slanderer. And that, moreover, he had no business to give orders in the forest.

FORESTER (straightens himself).

In the forest.

ANDREW.

And that he should go where he belonged.

FORESTER (emphatically).

Where he belonged.

[Sits down.]

And he—

ANDREW.

Laughed.

FORESTER (rises and sits down again; whistles, and drums on the table).

Go on.

ANDREW.

And said: "What does that fellow want?"

FORESTER (in a loud voice).

Andrew!

ANDREW.

Father—

FORESTER.

And you? Go on, go on.

ANDREW.

"Hasn't he plants from my forest in his hand?" [Lowering his voice.]

"Hold that thief who steals wood and plants."

FORESTER (short pause).

And they—

ANDREW.

Held me.

FORESTER.

And you—

ANDREW.

They were too many. My resistance was of no avail—

FORESTER (acting as if he were present at the fight).

Was of no avail. They were six against one.

ANDREW.

I was furious when I saw what he intended to do. They took off my clothes. I told him to shoot me, otherwise I would shoot him if he let me escape with my life. At that he laughed. They—had—to hold—me.

FORESTER (jumps up).

And he—

ANDREW (reluctantly, imploring).

Father—

FORESTER.

And he—he—

ANDREW.

He—

FORESTER (faintly).

He—

ANDREW (beside himself).

Father, I cannot say it. No man in God's world has ever dared to do that to me!

FORESTER (drawing a deep breath).

Be quiet now. Say it later—Andrew.

[Pause. He passes by ANDREW, who now steps over to SOPHY.]

Fine weather today, pastor. All at once the old rheumatism in my arm begins to bother me again.—And the gnats are flying so low. We shall have a thunderstorm before the day is over.—Andrew, he did—I never did, and a stranger—a—say nothing, Andrew—I understand you.

[Goes up and down.]

SOPHY (to ANDREW).

How unfortunate that you provoked Godfrey yesterday!

WEILER.

Haven't I foretold it?

SOPHY.

You are deathly pale. I will give you some drops—

FORESTER (drawn up to his full height, stops before ANDREW. SOPHY timidly draws back).

Listen, Andrew. And you, Weiler.

[WEILER advances.]

Open your ears! Whoever comes into my forest with a gun—you challenge him! You understand?

WEILER.

Well, yes.

FORESTER.

Those are your instructions. You challenge him! I am forester, and nobody else, and you are my servants. The master and his son may pass. But whoever else comes into my forest with a gun—do you hear?—be he who he may—whether he wears a green coat or not—he is a poacher, he is to be challenged—"Stop! Down with your gun!" As is provided in the regulations. If he throws it down—all right. If he does not throw it down—fire! As is provided in the regulations. And you, William, go without delay to town to see lawyer Schirmer. You tell him the whole affair. He is to draw up a complaint against Stein and his Godfrey, and is to file it with the court. Don't forget anything, William: that my father and grandfather held the position; that people call me the Hereditary Forester; the case of Rupert in Erdmansgruen. It probably will not be necessary, but one cannot be too careful. Don't forget that the forest is exposed toward the north and west and that Stein intends to dismiss me because I refuse to act as a scoundrel toward him. If you go now, you can be home before night. Andrew and I will accompany you as far as the Boundary Inn. There Andrew can wait for you in the evening when you return.

[To ANDREW, who is examining the guns.]

Take the double-barreled one with the yellow strap, Andrew. I am going to take the other.

ANDREW (does as told).

Mother, a muffler; I feel chilly.

SOPHY (takes one from the closet).

But you really should stay home, Andrew, after that outrage.

[_Helps him to tie the muffler around his neck.]

WILKENS.

And you don't see that you are absolutely in the wrong? You will be wilfully blind?

PASTOR.

You wish to begin a suit because of your dismissal? You cannot do that.

FORESTER (who in the meantime has girded on his hunting knife).

I cannot do that? Then it is right that he wishes to dismiss me?

PASTOR.

It certainly is unfair; wrong before the tribunal of the heart, but not before the law.

FORESTER.

Whatever is right before the heart must also be right before the law.

PASTOR.

If you would permit me to explain to you—

FORESTER.

Explain? Here everything is clear, except your cobwebs of the brain by means of which those gentlemen would like to puzzle you, so that you might lose confidence in your own common-sense. Those Buts and those Ifs! I know all about that! The Buts and the Ifs—they originate entirely in the head; the heart knows nothing of them; they are the creators of intrigues. Very well, sir, go ahead with your explanation. But confine yourself to plain Yes and No. Anything outside of that is a nuisance. The Buts and Ifs are a nuisance. Mr. Stein intends to rob me of my honor; he intends to reward my fidelity and my honesty with disgrace; in my sixty-fifth year I am to stand before the world as a scoundrel. Now, Sir, Yes or No—is that right?

PASTOR.

I am to answer Yes or No? Indeed, it is not right in the ordinary sense, but—

FORESTER (interrupts triumphantly).

Then it is not right? And if it is not right, it must be wrong. And for this purpose the courts are there, that no wrong shall be done. No man shall make me doubt my good right. And I shall break friendship forever with him who says another word to me about yielding. Amen! If only a But were required to make wrong right, then I would rather live among the savages, then I would rather be the most miserable beast on God's earth than a human being. Are you ready, boys?

ANDREW and WILLIAM.

Yes.

FORESTER.

Come then, boys. Everything else may go to the devil, sir. But right, sir, right must remain right!

[Exeunt.]



ACT III

The Boundary Inn.



SCENE I

LINDENSCHMIED; HOST. Enter MOeLLER, after him FREI.

MOeLLER.

Host, let me have a drink. [Aside.] I guess he will find his way home; Godfrey will. From the mill in the Dell it is scarcely a quarter of an hour to his house.—Good evening.

FREI (still without).

Let's take a drink while we are passing.

[Enters.]

I am going over to the duke's estate. There they are having a jolly time.

HOST.

God save us from that sort of jollity! Your health, Mr. Moeller!

MOeLLER.

Fine company!

HOST.

Will you not take a seat, Mr. Moeller?

MOeLLER.

Thank you. I still have to go to the blast-furnace this evening; my men have gone ahead.

[Aside, while putting the glass to his lips.]

To the happy consummation of the marriage with Loehlein and Co!

FREI.

Over yonder things are going topsy-turvy, and with us here the crisis will come today or tomorrow. The Hereditary Forester has already barricaded himself in his house.

HOST.

Nonsense! He! He is conscientiousness personified!

FREI.

One is conscientious as long as it pays. That man is a fool who remains so one hour longer. He or his people are going to shoot Godfrey wherever they find him.

[Makes a gesture.]

And the Hereditary Forester does not waste many words. In that respect I know the old fellow with his white moustache.

LINDENSCHMIED (laughing hoarsely).

Is that so?

FREI (looks at him).

Do you mean to say you are going to take Godfrey's part? Hey, Lindenschmied?

LINDENSCHMIED (as before).

Godfrey's—

FREI.

Every child knows how much you love him!

LINDENSCHMIED (with a gesture, as before).

Ha! Ha!

FREI.

Weiler himself heard the Hereditary Forester say it. And, I tell you, what the Hereditary Forester says—that's as good as if another fellow had already done it.

LINDENSCHMIED.

He'll look out for his skin, the Hereditary Forester will.

[Softly.]

If there were no judges that sit around the green table, and if there were no—

[Indicates by a pantomime that he means the hangman.]

FREI.

His reign is at an end. He—For now it is

[Strikes the table.]

Liberty! Long life to the Hereditary Forester! And whoever has any evil intentions toward him—I am alluding to no one—

MOeLLER (hurriedly).

Here, host. Almost eight o'clock!

HOST.

Are you in such a hurry, Mr. Moeller?

MOeLLER.

At the blast-furnace they are waiting for me.

HOST.

Your change—

MOeLLER (already at the door).

Never mind! Credit it to me for tomorrow.

[Exit.]



SCENE II

LINDENSCHMIED; HOST; FREI.

FREI (rises, shaking his fist after him).

Nothing shall be credited to you and fellows of your kind. Everything shall be paid to you. Lindenschmied, are you coming along to the duke's estate?

LINDENSCHMIED.

I'm going my own way. [Advances.]

Those judges around the green table! The idea, that an honest fellow should be frightened when a leaf rustles, and look behind him to see whether the constable isn't after him!

FREI.

We'll knock it down—the green table—I tell you. We'll see to it that in ten years from now nobody will be able to get any information as to what sort of thing a constable ever was. Now it is Liberty, and Order has ceased to exist: everybody can do what he pleases. No more constables, no green table, I tell you. No tower, no chains. If the Lord had created the hares expressly for the nobleman, he would at once have stamped his coat of arms into their fur. That would have been an easy matter for a person like the Lord. Now men know that those who are in prisons are martyrs worthy of veneration, and that the noblemen are rascals, be they ever so honest. And the industrious people are rascals, for it is their fault that honest people who do not like to work are poor. That you can read printed in the newspapers. And if the Hereditary Forester gets hold of Godfrey [pantomime] nobody can hurt him for that; for Godfrey got honest people into prison, when they had stolen.

LINDENSCHMIED.

And he will not be punished? No? And another fellow neither, if he does it?

FREI.

Another fellow neither, I tell you. Over yonder the honest people set fire to the castle and plundered it; several people lost their lives in the affair; nobody cares a fig. Lucky he who now has an old grudge. And Ulrich need not run far. Godfrey is reeling around there in the Dell; he's lost his hat—

LINDENSCHMIED (puts his hands with convulsive haste into his pockets).

And nothing—absolutely nothing—not even a blunt knife about me!



SCENE III

The same. Enter ANDREW.

ANDREW (entering).

Isn't it close in here! [Takes off his muffler.] Good evening.

[Wraps the muffler around the lock of the gun, and puts the gun next to him against the wall.]

I advise every one not to touch this; the gun is loaded.

[To the host.]

I do not know what is the matter with me. All at once I began to feel so badly out there. I was going to wait for my brother at the boundary. HOST.

Make yourself at home, Mr. Andrew.

ANDREW.

I suppose William has not yet come.

[Throws himself on a bench, puts his arms upon the table and rests his head upon them.]

FREI (rattles his glass on the table).

Let me have another one, host. And it is a favor that I now drink in your place, when you still charge for it. In a week from now you will have to provide the stuff, and no honest man need pay you a penny for it, I tell you.

LINDENSCHMIED (from this point on incessantly casting furtive glances sometimes at ANDREW, sometimes at the gun).

If he would only go to sleep—that fellow!

[Leaning across the table, secretly to FREI.]

There in the Dell, you say?—And are you quite sure, Frei, that nothing will be punished any longer?

FREI.

Superstition, I tell you! If you do something, and they hang you, you may call me a rascal for the rest of your life. Look here! What formerly was called fidelity and honesty, that's a tale with which old grannies used to humbug us. And a fellow that keeps his word is a scoundrel; such a one I would not trust as far as the door. The common people are essentially honest, because they are the common people. You ought to hear those gentlemen over there talk; there was a professor among them; he ought to know.

LINDENSCHMIED (leads him aside).

But what about conscience? And about the hereafter?

FREI.

All superstition! Nothing else, let me tell you.

LINDENSCHMIED.

That's what I always thought. But formerly a person was not allowed to say such things.

FREI.

They humbugged people with heaven and hell, so that our noble and gracious master might keep his hares all to himself. They have drummed a conscience into poor people in their childhood, so that they should submit patiently when the rich are living in luxury and extravagance.

LINDENSCHMIED.

And he is in the Dell?

[HOST becomes attentive.]

FREI.

Who?

LINDENSCHMIED.

That—

[Buttons his coat.]

FREI.

Where are you going?

LINDENSCHMIED.

To pay debts before another day comes.

[While he watches ANDREW furtively, he fumbles with his left hand in his vest-pocket, in order to pay the host.]

Why, I can't get it out with—

FREI.

The fingers of your left hand are stiff.

LINDENSCHMIED (with a pantomime).

Those of my right will soon become crooked.

FREI.

Have you had a stroke?

LINDENSCHMIED (laughing hoarsely).

Yes, a leaden one. Two ounces of powder and three of buckshot.

[Constantly speaks in a subdued voice, so as not to awaken ANDREW.] A memorandum from that fellow in the Dell.

FREI.

From Godfrey?

LINDENSCHMIED.

Because I coined money out of the deer belonging to the owner of Strahlau. There was enough uncoined money running about in the forest.

FREI.

Let me have another one, host.

[Holds out his glass.]

LINDENSCHMIED (lost in thought, alone in the foreground).

Six times I ran out where he was to pass; but he did not come. At that time conscience was still the fashion. Then I thought: "It is not to be now," and postponed it to some time when he should come along by accident, so that I should be obliged to see that it was to be. For whole nights it choked me like a nightmare and wasted my body, that I should not lay hands on him, and now—ha! ha! ha!

[Gives a short convulsive laugh, thus rousing himself out of his thoughts; looks around embarrassed.]

FREI.

Did you laugh, Lindenschmied?

LINDENSCHMIED.

I don't know whether it was me.

FREI.

You have a queer laugh. Are you going along, Lindenschmied, into the ducal territory?

LINDENSCHMIED (slaps him on the shoulder).

Man, now we have liberty! I have my own way.

FREI.

I don't care.

[Steps to the background to the host.]

What do I owe you on this last occasion that it is necessary to pay? There; give me change.

HOST.

You have had three, four—

[LINDENSCHMIED has availed himself of the moment when no one is looking at him to take away ANDREW'S gun furtively, and hurries out with it.]

FREI.

What is the time, host?

HOST.

Past eight.

FREI (going out).

Good-by.



SCENE IV

HOST; ANDREW.

ANDREW (starts up).

Eight? Now William may come.

HOST (approaches ANDREW timidly).

You are an honest man. To you I may unburden my mind. They are an abominable set—those that just left. They let fall some words. Godfrey is drunk in the Dell, and Lindenschmied, his mortal enemy, has gone after him. And what didn't he say! He was talking of making his fingers crooked. And that fellow is capable of everything!

ANDREW.

You believe Lindenschmied intends to have Godfrey's life?

HOST.

I have said nothing. If I expose their plot, they will burn my house over my head. And if I do nothing—

[Walks up and down.]

ANDREW (was about to rise, but sits down again).

To save that fellow? Let happen to him what God permits. I will not turn a finger to save him.

HOST (as before).

What shall I do?

ANDREW.

Father says: When a person is in distress every decent man must come to his assistance, and when it's all over he may ask: Whom did I assist?

.

HOST.

Perhaps I had better inform? But—

ANDREW (rises with sudden decision).

I am going. I will see whether I can find Godfrey. I am sure nothing will happen to William. It is only a few steps from here to the house. What am I looking for? My muffler. There in my temples something is hammering and buzzing. What did I do with it? I tied it around the gun.

[When he cannot find it.]

But where is my gun?

HOST.

You miss your gun?

ANDREW.

I put it right here. The one with the yellow strap.

HOST.

Only a moment ago I saw it standing there.

ANDREW.

Did you take it up, perhaps?

HOST.

I? I have not touched it. Good heavens! If Lindenschmied—you were resting, and I was just counting. What is to be done?

ANDREW.

Nothing. I go without my gun. I have no time to get another one from home.

HOST.

But unarmed—

ANDREW.

Never mind! If that pain in my chest only does not become worse.

[At the door.]

I only hope I shall not be too late.

[From without.]

Good-night, host.

[Exeunt both.]



SCENE V

In the Dell. Picturesque forest glen; in the background the brook right across the stage; on the other side rocks, along which a steep, narrow path runs parallel with the brook. Twilight.

Enter ROBERT with a gun on his shoulder; KATHARINE.

KATHARINE.

How gruesome it is here! We have gone a long way from the mansion. Where are we now, Mr. Robert?

ROBERT.

In the Dell, Katharine.

KATHARINE.

In the Dell? Where one is never safe? Where there are always poachers from across the Duchy's frontier?

[Looks about timidly.]

ROBERT.

Don't be afraid, little one. We have a reliable companion with us—

[Putting his hand on his gun.]

Do you see over there?

KATHARINE.

Something glimmering like a white wall with dark shutters—

ROBERT.

That is the forester's house.

KATHARINE.

Really? Yes, thank heaven! Now I see the stag's horns on the roof-tree outlined against the evening sky.

ROBERT.

Here is the letter. But you must not carry it so openly in your hand. Have you thought of some pretext, in case the old man should meet you?

KATHARINE (bashful, and smiling with self-satisfaction).

Oh, Mr. Robert, do you suppose a girl is so stupid? Don't worry about that. My little sisters take knitting and sewing lessons from the young lady—so—

ROBERT (folds the letter, which he was reading).

Here it is, Katharine. But give that letter only into Mary's or her mother's hands; to no one else, neither to Andrew nor William. Only into her own or her mother's hands.

KATHARINE.

But must I go all alone so far?

ROBERT.

It is scarcely two gunshots. Nobody must see me in the vicinity of the forester's house. When you go home, you follow the road. Only in case you should not succeed in delivering the letter come back.

KATHARINE.

But surely you will not go away?

ROBERT.

No, Katharine, I shall remain here.

[Exit KATHARINE.]



SCENE VI

ROBERT, alone; later, GODFREY; finally MOeLLER with two workingmen.

ROBERT (looks for some time after KATHARINE; then walks up and down).

I wonder whether she will come? Whether she will leave her father for my sake?

[Stops.]

I shall go into the world as a hunter. I am young, strong, and understand my profession thoroughly—why should I not succeed?

[Losing himself in thought.]

And then—when I come home from the forest—healthily tired out by my work in the open air—and she has been watching for me—and comes to meet me—and takes my gun, so as to have something to carry—and hangs it on her shoulder—and my hunter's house standing like that one yonder—the trees rustling—and I holding her in my arms, exclaiming jubilantly: Only that happiness is happiness which one owes to one's own efforts!—And then—

[The report of a gun is heard, and startles him.]

GODFREY (still behind the scenes, groaning).

Scoundrel!

ROBERT.

What is that?

GODFREY (staggers upon the scene; ROBERT hurries toward him and catches him just as he is falling down).

I—am—done for—

ROBERT.

Godfrey! For heaven's sake! Has some one shot you? Hallo! Is nobody near? Hallo! Help!

MOeLLER (behind the scenes).

Hurry up, men! Over there! The shouting comes from the path!

ROBERT.

People are coming. Come here, come here! Help!

MOeLLER (as before).

That is Mr. Robert's voice.

ROBERT.

If help is to be of any avail here, it must come quickly.

[Opens GODFREY'S coat and vest.]

MOeLLER.

To be sure, it is you, Mr. Stein.

[Enters with two workingmen.]

But—

ROBERT.

Moeller, is that you? Look here what has happened!—Are you still alive, Godfrey?

GODFREY.

Still—but—

MOeLLER (coming up).

Godfrey! Merciful heavens!

ROBERT.

Shot from ambush. The bullet entered at the back.

MOeLLER.

Godfrey, speak! Who did it?

GODFREY.

He had—the rifle—with the yellow strap—

ROBERT.

Andrew's rifle?

GODFREY.

He—threatened—to shoot me—

ROBERT.

It is not possible.

MOeLLER.

Was it Andrew, Godfrey?

GODFREY.

Andrew—yes—

MOeLLER.

He is dying.

[Pause.]

Take him up, men. And you, Mr. Stein—this here is a nest of murderers. Come along. There are others about here lying in ambush. Just now we met Weiler with a gun—that vicious fellow. He was out spying, that's clear. It is a regular hunt. Come along! But, for heaven's sake, why will you not—

ROBERT.

Never mind! Go ahead.

MOeLLER.

But what do you intend to do? And your father—if I leave you alone in danger—if I do not bring you home with me! How will he ever believe me, that I tried to persuade you?

ROBERT.

Why, you have witnesses here with you. When I say a thing I mean it—I am going to stay here.

[Walks up and down in agitation.]

MOeLLER.

Well, come along, men. You have heard it.

[While going out.]

Good heavens! How will it all end?

[The men have lifted up the corpse; exeunt with MOeLLER.]



SCENE VII

ROBERT, alone; then ANDREW; finally LINDENSCHMIED.

ROBERT.

Disgraceful! Disgraceful! Could it be possible that Andrew was capable of this kind of revenge? And I must believe it—I must! The dying man said it; he had threatened him with it—it was his gun—and all this is real—here the murdered man died—here is—with his blood he wrote it in the turf, so that I can have no doubt. And such men stand between me and my happiness? Take a firm stand, Robert; here everything is at stake. You are dealing with men who are afraid of no crime. Who comes there? It is Andrew himself. [Shouting to ANDREW, who is not yet visible.] Come on! If you are looking for me, murderer! You shall not find me defenseless and unwary as Godfrey—

ANDREW (entering, pale and tottering).

Godfrey?—

ROBERT.

There they carry him. He has been murdered, and you have done it.

ANDREW (angrily).

I, Robert?

ROBERT.

The murdered man recognized you and your gun—and your conscience betrays you.

ANDREW.

Hear me—for God's sake!

[LINDENSCHMIED comes stealing along the rocky path in the background.]

ROBERT.

Flee, murderer! Every step carries you nearer the gallows! Here is the blood that accuses you, and you yourself carry the confession on your pale face. The fever that shakes you testifies against you.

ANDREW.

May the fever rack your bones, shameless liar! The gun was stolen from me by Lindenschmied, who was on the lookout for Godfrey. I hurried after him as soon as I learned it. I fell in a swoon—by sheer will-force I recovered from the swoon—and—

ROBERT.

You say it is Lindenschmied who—

ANDREW.

If you do not believe me, look there toward the rocky path—

ROBERT.

Murderer, stand! Or I shoot you down!

[LINDENSCHMIED hurries across the stage on the rocky path. ROBERT follows him below.]

ANDREW (totters after him).

Be careful, Robert! The man is desperate—it is a matter of life and death.

LINDENSCHMIED.

Stand back! I'll shoot.

ROBERT (also behind the scenes).

Down with your gun, and stand!

ANDREW.

He is taking aim—jump aside, Robert!

[Two shots are heard in succession.]

Now it is done!

[Disappears in the bushes.]

* * * * *



SCENE VIII

The Manor House.

Enter STEIN, uneasy; then BASTIAN; later, the PASTOR.

STEIN.

I wonder whether Moeller forgot to send some one to look for Robert? Or should the boy—that quarrel with Andrew! Bastian!

[BASTIAN appears at the door.]

Where is the bookkeeper?

BASTIAN.

Toward evening he went to the blast-furnace.

STEIN.

Hasn't Robert been home again since noon?

BASTIAN.

Mr. Robert made preparations for a journey, and then went away with Katharine, the Steward's daughter.

[STEIN makes a sign of dismissal. Exit BASTIAN.]

STEIN.

And the pastor—he might have been back long ago.

BASTIAN (at the door). The pastor.

STEIN. In the nick of time!

[The PASTOR appears.]

STEIN (shakes hands with him).

At last! At last! Have you good news?

PASTOR (shrugging his shoulders).

It might be better.

STEIN.

Did you meet that hothead, Robert?

PASTOR.

No.

STEIN.

I was in hopes, because you stayed away so long, that you would bring him with you.

PASTOR.

A sick person, to whom I was called while on my way to you, kept me until now.

STEIN.

Then fancy that you are coming from a sick person to one more seriously sick. If impatience, dissatisfaction with oneself, evil presentiments, were diseases, then I should be a dangerous patient.—But your answer—I don't even give you time to catch your breath. [Motions to him to take a seat; sits down, but rises again.] If at least I could remain seated! Six times I mechanically took my hat in my hand; to that extent my old habit of being together with the forester makes my hands and feet twitch worse than the gout. In the meantime a thought struck me—but first of all: How do matters stand with the obstinate old fellow?

PASTOR.

Your offer did not exactly meet with the kindest reception. And yet, who knows whether, after all, he had not agreed to it, if unfortunately the affair with Andrew—

STEIN.

With Andrew? What affair?

[Jumps up.]

You don't mean to say he has come to blows with Robert?

PASTOR.

This time only with Godfrey—

STEIN (sits down again).

You see I am trembling with impatience.

PASTOR.

Godfrey, intoxicated as usual, treated him like a prowling thief, had him whipped—

[STEIN jumps up again.]

PASTOR.

Then it was no wonder that the old man would no longer listen to anything, and gave orders to treat as a poacher every one, except you, who enters the forest with a gun.

STEIN (who has been walking up and down).

Bastian!

[BASTIAN appears at the door.]

As soon as Moeller comes the scoundrel shall be deposed, the brute shall be locked up—do you hear?

BASTIAN.

The bookkeeper?

STEIN.

Godfrey—and Moeller with him, if he—come, pastor.

[Takes his hat and cane. Exit BASTIAN.]

PASTOR.

You intend—

STEIN.

You ask?—I am going to the old man! I am going to brush away those caprices in spite of all Wilkens and Moellers!

PASTOR.

That's right! I am with you. [Rises.]

STEIN (stops).

Wait a moment, parson. Am I to have had that good idea in vain? Listen, what came into my mind a little while ago—as if straight from heaven! Parson, what do you say if this very day I should transfer Duesterwalde to Robert as his own independent property? He could reinstate the old man with all honors, and nobody's dignity would be hurt. I shall immediately draw up the deed of transfer. Go quickly to the forester's house, parson.

PASTOR.

With this message—

STEIN.

Before the old man, or the hotheaded boys, or all three, do something impetuous which—

[Makes preparations for writing.]

PASTOR.

And tomorrow—

STEIN.

As if today had never been—

PASTOR.

Mr. Stein comes as usual around the corner of the forester's house and knocks at the window, and the white moustache inside grunts his "Immediately—"

STEIN.

And if you meet Robert—

PASTOR.

I shall be the first one to congratulate the new proprietor of Duesterwalde.

STEIN.

And today you bring them all along—the old man, the boys, the mother and the bride. Then[advances to the pastor at the door], as a preliminary celebration we'll crack a bottle of my oldest Johannisberger. But what is the matter out there? Who comes rushing up the stairs?

[At the door.] What has happened?



SCENE IX

The same: MOeLLER, then BASTIAN.

MOeLLER (comes in, beside himself).

Horrible! Horrible!

STEIN.

But what is the matter?

MOeLLER.

A murder!—A dreadful murder!

STEIN.

But, man alive, speak—

MOeLLER.

Mr. Robert—

STEIN. My son!

[Falls into a chair.]

PASTOR.

Has Robert been murdered?

[Goes anxiously up to STEIN.]

Enter BASTIAN.

MOeLLER.

Not yet. Not yet, I hope. But—I am quite beside myself. Ulrich's Andrew has already shot and killed Godfrey. Those from the forester's house have instituted a regular hunt for their enemies. I had Godfrey carried home. He looks horrible. The bullet entered at the left side of the spine. He died in Mr. Robert's arms. I asked him: Was it Andrew, Godfrey? It was Andrew, he said—it was Andrew—and lay down a dead man. I implored Mr. Robert to come home for God's sake; he was quite beside himself, and would not come. And I had not gone two hundred steps with my men, when two more shots were fired behind us.

STEIN (rises, beside himself).

Mount your horse at once—ride till it drops dead—only be quick—get soldiers from the town—surround the whole forest—catch that murderer's band from the forester's house! You, Bastian, get quickly my Luettich rifle, the one that's loaded—then call the workingmen—have them armed—to—where was it, Moeller?

MOeLLER.

At the first bridge—in the Dell, scarcely ten minutes beyond the forester's house.

PASTOR.

God grant that the worst may still be prevented!

STEIN (stamps his foot).

Bastian! Bastian! Why are you still standing there! Make haste!

[Exit MOeLLER.]

And I—while—Bastian!

[BASTIAN brings the rifle. STEIN tears it from him.]

I am coming! Robert, hold your own! I am coming!

[Exeunt omnes.]



ACT IV

Twilight. The FORESTER'S House.



SCENE I

WILKENS; SOPHY.

WILKENS.

Your husband has been dismissed. There is no doubt about that. And if he desires to remain here he is going just the wrong way about it. Stein certainly cannot afford to allow Ulrich to gain his point by defiance and revolt. Godfrey now is forester. Well, Godfrey is a brutal fellow; but here he is in the right. If now they should come together, your husband and Godfrey? And each is going to treat the other as a poacher? Or if Godfrey should come across Andrew once more? And if he does what his father commanded him? Or if Andrew and young Stein come together? Well? And viewed in the most charitable light, Ulrich is a dismissed man, whom nobody will wish to employ after this open rebellion of which he has been guilty. And what is then to become of you and your children?

SOPHY.

I am sure you will not withdraw your aid from us. If you would only talk to him once more!

WILKENS.

After the trump that he has played? Even if it were not for that, I value my breath too much to preach to deaf ears. You and your children must leave him. That I said to myself a little while ago, while on my way, and made a solemn resolution to bring this about; and I came back to tell you. Before you have a corpse or a murderer in the house—

SOPHY (throws up her hands in terror).

Matters surely cannot come to that pass!

WILKENS.

Well. I see you'll risk it. You also are a queer mother. But I am not so indifferent as you, and I will not have a catastrophe on my conscience, if I can prevent it. I have most to lose by this. To be brief: If you leave him and come with your children to me, I shall have it settled that very hour that you and your children are to be my heirs. Till tomorrow noon you have plenty of time to consider the matter. If by noon tomorrow you are at the Boundary Inn, where I will wait for you, then we'll go at once into town to the notary; if you are not there—all right also. But I'll be a scoundrel—and you know I am as good as my word—and cursed be my hand, if after that it ever gives a piece of bread either to you or your children.

[Exit.]

SOPHY (quite overcome; then follows him anxiously and hastily).

But, cousin! Cousin Wilkens!



SCENE II

MARY alone; then SOPHY returning.

MARY (has a letter in her hand).

Why did I take it till I had considered matters?—and then I had it in my hand. And Katharine, too, was so quickly gone!—I should not have taken it!

SOPHY (reappearing).

Those cruel men! Prayers avail nothing. What have you there, Mary?

MARY.

A letter from Robert.

SOPHY.

If your father should see that!

MARY.

I cannot understand at all how I came to accept it; but I felt so sorry for Robert. Katharine told me he was down in the Dell, and waiting. Then I again recollected my dream of last night.

SOPHY.

A dream?

MARY.

I dreamt I was at the spring among the willows in my favorite spot, and was sitting among the many colored flowers and looking up into the sky. There I saw a thunder-storm, and I became as depressed as if I were to die. And the child, you know, the one that had been with me fourteen years ago when I lost my way, was sitting beside me and said: Poor Mary! and pulled the bridal wreath out of my hair, and in place of it fastened to my bosom a large blood-red rose. Then I fell backwards into the grass, I knew not how. Yonder in the village the bells were ringing, and the singing of the birds, the chirping of the crickets, the soft evening breeze in the willows above me—all that seemed like a lullaby. And the turf sank down with me lower and ever lower, and the chimes and the singing sounded ever more distant—the sky became blue once more, and I felt so light and free—

SOPHY.

A strange dream! Have you opened the letter?

MARY.

No, mother. And I do not wish to do so.

SOPHY.

At least don't let your father see it. Alas, Mary! we shall be obliged to leave your father!

MARY.

Leave father? We?

SOPHY.

He is coming. Do not betray anything! Put away the letter. Put the Bible there before you, so that be may not suspect anything. I will try once more—if he thinks we are going away, he perhaps may yet give in, and we may stay.



SCENE III

The stage is becoming darker and darker.

The FORESTER; SOPHY; MARY.

FORESTER.

William not yet back?

SOPHY.

I have not seen him.

[FORESTER steps to the window, and, lost in thought, drums against the panes. SOPHY begins packing.]

MARY.

But, mother—

SOPHY.

Be quiet now, Mary, and don't take part in the conversation.

FORESTER (has turned around and watched his wife for some time).

What are you doing there?

SOPHY (without looking up).

I am packing some dresses—if I have to go away—

FORESTER.

We don't have to go. There is a law to prevent that.

SOPHY (shaking her head). Your law? [Continues packing.]

I shall be obliged to go away with the children.

FORESTER (surprised).

You are going to—

SOPHY.

If you don't come to terms with Stein—

FORESTER.

If—

SOPHY.

You need not get angry, Ulrich. You cannot act otherwise, and neither can I. I do not reproach you; I say nothing, absolutely nothing. You persist in regarding as your enemy whoever counsels you to yield—and cousin Wilkens is going to disinherit the children if you remain obstinate, and if I and the children are not in his house by noon tomorrow. Under the circumstances I can do nothing but go in silence.

FORESTER (drawing a deep breath).

You wish—

SOPHY. I wish nothing. You wish and cousin Wilkens wishes. You cruel men decree our fate, and—we must bear it. If you would give in, then, indeed, we might stay. Do you believe I am going with a light heart? As far as I am concerned, I should be willing to stand by you till death. But for the children's sake and—for your sake also.

FORESTER (gloomily).

How for my sake?

SOPHY.

You are dismissed, you have no resources; and another position at your age—after your affair with Stein—you might—

FORESTER (violently).

Accept charity? For my wife and children?

SOPHY.

Don't become angry. I don't say: Yield. I will press nothing upon you. You cannot yield, and I—cannot remain—unless you yield. If we must part [Her voice shakes]—then let us part amicably. Let us forgive each other for what one party does against the interests of the other, or [with gentle reproach]—for what the other party thinks is being done against his interests.

FORESTER.

You intend, then, going to Wilkens?

SOPHY.

I must.

FORESTER.

And the children are to go also?

SOPHY.

It is for their sake that I go.

FORESTER.

Will you not also take Nero along? Out there? The dog? Why should the dog remain longer with his dismissed master? Take the dog along. And when I get my rights, as I am bound to get them—and stand before the world no longer as a scoundrel—then—why, then the dog may come back again. You think he is not going to leave me? Surely the dumb beast is not going to be more stupid than human beings are? Wife and children are prudent, and only such a poor beast is going to be stupid? One ought to kick the beast for such stupidity. An old man, a ruined man, who in his old age would be branded as a scoundrel, if Stein had his will, and such a beast refuses to see reason? After fifty years of faithful service thrown out of my position as a scoundrel, because I refuse to be a scoundrel—and I have sacrificed my own money into the bargain, and the poor beast in its kennel is going to show more gratitude than the rich Stein in his mansion? In that case one should simply blow out the brains of the whole brood of beasts, if they served no other purpose but to make man bow his head in shame before them. [Walks up and down; turns to her with emotion.] We are to be two? After twenty-five years?—Very well! Then from now on may each suffer alone—as long as the heart holds out!

SOPHY.

Ulrich—

[She is obliged to restrain MARY, who wishes to throw herself at the FORESTER's feet].

FORESTER.

From now on we are two. Go away! Go away! Wilkens is rich, and I am a poor man in spite of my right. You're going after the money. I'll not prevent you. But if you say you have acted rightly—then—and now the matter is disposed of. Not one more word about it.



SCENE IV

The same. Enter WILLIAM.

FORESTER (seated on the right of the stage).

Come here, William. Where did you leave Andrew?

WILLIAM.

I waited for him a quarter of an hour at the Boundary Inn.

FORESTER.

Perhaps he thought you were coming later—

SOPHY (aside).

Andrew has not come back with him? I can't get my uncle's words out of my head.

[MARY lights the lamp and puts it on the table by the FORESTER.]

FORESTER.

Did you ask the lawyer how long it would be before the matter is settled? Till I have my rights?

WILLIAM.

He refuses to institute proceedings.

SOPHY (drawing a deep breath; aside).

Then there is still some hope left!

FORESTER (rises; quite perplexed).

He refuses—

WILLIAM.

He says you are not in the right, father.

FORESTER.

Not in the right?

[Is obliged to sit down.]

SOPHY (as before).

If he only would yield.

WILLIAM.

He said state officials could not be deposed, unless it could be proved against them that they deserved it. But you were not a state official; your master was not the state, but he who owned the forest, the owner of the estate.

FORESTER (with suppressed anger).

Then, if I were an official of the state, Stein would not be allowed to do me an injustice. And because I am not, he is allowed to brand me as a scoundrel?—You did not understand him rightly, William!

WILLIAM.

He repeated it to me three times—

FORESTER.

Because you did not represent the matter to him as it is—that already your great-grandfather had been forester of Duesterwalde, and your grandfather after him, and that for forty years, throughout the whole valley, people have called me the Hereditary Forester.

WILLIAM.

That, he said, was an honor to both masters and servants; but before the court nothing could be based on it.

FORESTER.

But he does not know that Stein wants to depose me, because I had his best interests at heart, that the forest is exposed on the north and west. A lawyer does not know that a forest is like a vault, where one stone always holds and supports the others. Thus the vault can withstand any force, but take out only a dozen stones from the centre, and the whole thing comes tumbling about your ears.

WILLIAM.

At such arguments he only shrugged his shoulders.

FORESTER (growing more excited).

And my money that I have put into it? And all the trees that I planted with my own hands? Hey? Which the wind now shall wantonly break?

WILLIAM.

At that he only smiled. He said you might be a very honest man, but in court that would prove nothing.

FORESTER (rises).

If one is an honest man, that proves nothing? Then one must be a rascal, if he is to prove anything in court?—But how about Rupert of Erdmansgruen—hey, William?

WILLIAM.

He happened to have been a state official. After I had left him, I even went to another lawyer. This man laughed right in my face. But to that fellow I spoke my mind like a hunter's son.

FORESTER.

You did well. But what about Andrew? Hey?

WILLIAM.

He said that you had been deposed at the time that Andrew went into the forest. You ought to know yourself that no stranger is allowed to take plants from a forest according to his own inclination, without the knowledge and consent of the forester. That then Godfrey was the lawful forester, and consequently Andrew had no one to blame but himself, if he was treated as a poacher. And that Andrew himself must understand it would be wiser to take his punishment quietly, and not stir up the matter any further; and he might be glad to have come off so easily.

[The FORESTER has seated himself again; pauses; then whistles, and drums on the table.]

SOPHY (watching him with anxiety).

When he becomes so calm—

FORESTER.

So I must remain a scoundrel before the world? Very well!—Why don't you pack your things, you women-folk? William, get me a bottle of wine.

SOPHY.

You are going to drink wine? And you know it is not good for you, Ulrich? And just now, in your present state of vexation—

FORESTER.

I must get my mind off the subject.

SOPHY.

You always become so excited after wine. If you drink now it may be your death.

FORESTER.

Better to drink oneself to death than live as a scoundrel! And a scoundrel I must remain before the world. William, a bottle and a glass. Have matters come to that pass, that I am no longer master in my own house? Hurry up, there!

[Exit WILLIAM.]

SOPHY.

If only you would change your mind! But you will not do it, and—I must leave you.

FORESTER.

That matter is settled, woman, and my resolution is taken. None of your lamentations! Tomorrow I am going. Since I am not an official of the State and—today I intend to be right jolly.

[WILLIAM brings wine; the FORESTER pours out and drinks repeatedly, every time a full glass. Between glasses he whistles and drums.]

FORESTER.

Put that light away, so that I may not see my shadow.

[WILLIAM puts the lamp on the table near the women, seats himself by them and takes the still opened Bible before him.]

SOPHY (aside and to Mary).

Andrew still stays out, and it has been dark for a long while. And tomorrow I must go. Now I say indeed: I must go; and yet I am not sure that, when the moment comes, I shall have the strength of mind to carry out my intention—after we have lived together for twenty years, sharing joys and sorrows! And to say farewell to the forest with its green leaves which all day long looks into every window! How still it will seem to us, when during the entire day we no longer shall hear the rustling of the trees, the singing of the birds, and the sound of the wood-cutter's ax. And the old cuckoo-clock there—it was ticking when I was a bride, and now you too have been betrothed here! There in that corner you raised yourself on your feet for the first time, Mary, and began to walk, and took three steps; and there where your father is sitting, I sat and wept for joy. Is that what life is? An everlasting bidding farewell? If, after all, I were to remain? And yet when I think of all the things uncle said might happen! If Robert's letter—William, please go into the garden. I must have left the glass by the spring, or in the arbor or somewhere thereabouts.

[Exit WILLIAM.]



SCENE V

The same, without WILLIAM. SOPHY and MARY in front of the stage busied with the lamp. The FORESTER sometimes seated in the rear, sometimes walking up and down past the table to the window.

SOPHY (having waited till WILLIAM is out).

Suppose you find out what Robert has been writing.

MARY.

You mean I should open the letter, mother?

SOPHY.

Perhaps everything can still be arranged, and Robert writes us how. If you will not open it, give me the letter. If I do it, you have nothing to reproach yourself for.

[Opens it.]

If I only could read by lamp-light. If I put on my spectacles, he would notice it. Read it to me, Mary.

MARY.

You want me to read it, mother?

SOPHY.

If I give you permission, you may surely do so. Put it there next to the Bible. And if he comes near, or his attention is attracted, you read from the Bible.

MARY.

But what?

SOPHY.

Whatever your eyes light upon. If I cough, you read from the Bible. First the letter.

MARY (reads).

"Dear Mary. I have so much to—

SOPHY.

He is getting up again from his chair. Read from the Bible till he is at the window.

MARY.

"Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again."

[FORESTER drums on the window.]

SOPHY (constantly watching him).

Now the letter, Mary. Till I cough.

MARY.

"I have so much to tell you. Sometime during the evening or the night come to the Dell by the spring under the willows. There I shall wait for you. Come, Mary. Tomorrow morning I am going out into the world to win happiness for you and for me. If you do not come, I know what you mean, and you will never see me again."

SOPHY.

He intends to go? Out into the world? Forever, if you do not go? Then everything would be lost!

MARY.

"You will never again see your Robert."

SOPHY (coughs, just as the FORESTER is turning away from the window).

From the Bible, Mary.

MARY.

"As he hath caused a blemish in a man, so it shall be done to him again. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord, your God."

FORESTER (has become attentive; stops).

What is that there about law?

MARY.

"Ye shall have one manner of law—"

FORESTER.

"Ye shall have one manner"—Where is that?

MARY.

Here, father. Up there at the left.

FORESTER.

Put a mark there where that begins, what you have read there about the law. Do you see now that I am right? Even if I have to put up with injustice? That my old heart here is no liar? "Ye shall have one manner of law"—not a special one for officials of the State. At that time the Law was still sound; then it did not live in dusty, moldy offices. It was administered under the gates in the open air, as we read there. If I had my way, the courts ought to have sessions in the forest; in the forest man's heart remains sound; there one knows what is right and what is wrong without Ifs and Buts. With their secret tricks they have put a string of Ifs and Buts to it; in their dusty, moldy offices it has become sick and blunt and withered, so that they can turn and twist it as they like. And now what is right must be put in writing and have a seal to it, otherwise it is not to be recognized as right. Now they have deprived a man's word of all value and degraded it, since one is only bound by what one has sworn to, what one has under seal and in writing. Out of the good old right they have made a turn-coat, so that an old man, whose honor was never sullied by the slightest blemish, must stand as a rascal before men—because they in their offices have two rights instead of one.

[Sits down and drinks.]

SOPHY.

The night is advancing further and further, and Andrew does not come. And with such talk one becomes doubly frightened. If you went to Robert—

MARY.

To Robert? What, in the world, are you thinking of, mother?

SOPHY.

That it is God's finger—that letter of Robert's.

MARY.

I am to go to Robert? Now? To the Dell?

SOPHY.

What is to prevent it? You are not afraid.

MARY.

The idea of being afraid!

[Proudly.]

Ulrich's daughter!

SOPHY.

How often have you not been out at a more advanced hour of the night!

MARY.

But then father knew it. If I have father's permission and yours, I know that an angel stands behind every tree. And father said: "If I am mistaken in Mary"—

SOPHY.

I cannot slip away, without his noticing it, as well as you can. The matter might still have taken a favorable turn, but it was not to be. And your dream? You felt so light, the sky became so blue—you see, in the Dell by the spring under the willows, there the sorrow that weighs on you and on us all is to end.

MARY (shaking her head).

Do you really think so, mother?

SOPHY.

If you would go. We might then remain with father, Robert would try once more to persuade his father, uncle Wilkens also would yield, and when you wear the bridal wreath a second time it would be even more becoming to you.

MARY.

I am to deceive my father, mother? In that case I believe no good could ever come to me again in this world.

SOPHY.

You would have the satisfaction of knowing that you went for his sake. Perhaps if, tomorrow, he must go forth into misery, or if they confine him in the tower, or if something still worse happens—

MARY.

To father?

SOPHY.

Yes. Then you will think, perhaps too late: "Had I only gone!"

MARY.

But mother, if I were in the forest, and father should meet me? Or if he should find us together?

SOPHY.

We must ask him, whether he is going to stay home.

MARY.

I cannot look at him without feeling as if my heart were bursting.

SOPHY.

Ask him on account of the soup.

MARY.

I shall ask him at once.

[She approaches the FORESTER timidly, stands next to him without his noticing her.]

SOPHY (encouraging her).

Don't be a child.

MARY (softly).

Father!

[She bends over him, beside herself with pity.]

Father, poor father!

[Is going to embrace him.]

FORESTER (looking about, roughly).

What's the matter? No lamentations!

SOPHY (as MARY stands disconcerted).

Mary—

MARY (controls herself).

Are you again going into the forest tonight?

FORESTER.

Why?

MARY.

Because—

SOPHY (interrupts, for fear MARY might tell the truth).

Because of the soup; she wants to know whether she is to warm it.

FORESTER.

No. And what are you waiting for, you silly wench?

[Turns away. As MARY hesitates, calls out roughly.]

Do you hear?

MARY (goes back to SOPHY).

Mother, he has been crying! I saw a tear hanging on his eye-lash, mother! And I am about to deceive him!

SOPHY.

He is crying because in his old age he has to go forth into misery.—And as to you—why, you are not obliged to go.

MARY.

If you speak in that way, mother!—I am going.

SOPHY.

Then say good-night to him. It is time. Afterward I shall help you climb out of the window. At this moment Robert is already waiting. You can be back soon.

MARY.

Yes, mother, I will go. But not for Robert's sake, mother, nor for mine; only for father's sake. I will tell him: "Robert," I will say to him, "you will yet find a girl, more beautiful and better than myself, but my father will not find another child, if I leave him." I will tell him: "Robert," I will say to him, "I will forget you! God will give me strength that I may be able to forget you. Remain away from me, so that I may not see you again." God will help me, mother, will he not? He will, for I did love Robert so much.

SOPHY.

Now go. Say good-night and don't betray yourself.

[MARY stands by the FORESTER.]

SOPHY.

Mary wants to say good-night to you.

FORESTER.

Can't you say it yourself, silly thing?

MARY (mastering her emotion).

Good-night, father.

FORESTER.

Good-night. You need not wait for me tomorrow when you are going to your uncle. Perhaps I shall have gone out by that time. I have an errand; don't know whether I shall come back tomorrow. And take Nero along—and whatever else is there; take everything along. I no longer need anything—but my tools, my short rifle and—powder and bullets. The other rifles you may sell. Go to Wilkens, you poor thing, he perhaps will get Robert for you yet—after I have gone; after people have once forgotten that your father was a dismissed man.

MARY.

Good-night.

[Beside herself.]

Good-night, father!

FORESTER.

Wench, that is a good-night as if forever.—You are right, Mary. Such a stain as I am upon your good reputation must be removed. Go, Mary. Do you hear, Mary?

MARY.

You shall remain, father. And if you go, I go with you.

FORESTER.

The way I have to go one goes alone. Go, Mary.

SOPHY.

Go to bed, Mary.

FORESTER.

Good-night. And now it's enough. You know I cannot bear lamentations.

MARY.

You are not going without me, father. You cannot live without me, father. Father, I now feel that in my heart.

FORESTER (protesting).

Yes, I can. What doesn't such a greenhorn feel!

MARY.

You turn away, father, so that I should not see you crying. Father, pretend you are ferocious, as much as you like—

FORESTER (wants to disengage himself).

Silly thing there—

MARY.

I am going with you. You insist upon your right, and I upon mine, and that is, that I must not leave you. Father, I feel now for the first time that I love no one in the world as much as you. Tomorrow we go together—if you must go. I am going to put on William's clothes. There are still green forests in the world. And surely you shall not hear me complaining. Don't be afraid of that. Why, I can cry during the nights, when you don't see it. But then you will see it by my eyes in the daytime. Why, I must not cry at all! I will only laugh and skip along before you and sing—the beautiful hunting songs.—You see, father, this is the last tear for Robert! And it is already dried, do you see? I am sure that we shall still find happiness in this world—if you must go, father. And if it is not to be, we will thank God and pray, if He only keeps us honest. Then we will think: It is asking too much, if we also wish to be happy. Have I not you? Have not you your good conscience and your Mary? What more do we need?

[Hanging on his neck.]

FORESTER (who has been warding her off constantly, almost furious, because he can scarcely control his emotion).

Indeed, indeed! Stupid thing!

[More calmly.]

And a "table—spread—thyself," a "gold—mule—stretch-thyself," and the fairy-story is complete. Now go to bed, Mary.

[Roughly.]

Do you hear?

SOPHY.

Come, Mary.

MARY (at the door of her room she looks around, and runs again to him; embracing him, beside herself).

Good-night, good-night!

[She hurries to her room; SOPHY follows.]

FORESTER (looking after her).

My girl, my poor girl! It must not be here that I make an end of myself!—Confound it. Shame on you, old—



SCENE VI

WEILER; The FORESTER.

WEILER (greets him with a silent nod; he is very much excited; hangs the rifle on the rack and busies himself with the hunting utensils).

Well!

FORESTER (notices him).

Is it you?

[Lapses again into his thoughts.]

WEILER.

It's me.

FORESTER.

Where are you coming from at this time?

WEILER.

From the forest. At the fence I had a talk with your William. So, after all, you are dismissed.

FORESTER.

Because there are two kinds of right.

WEILER.

And didn't you know that before?

FORESTER.

You have your pay for three months in advance.

WEILER.

And may go. I know that too. Where is your William? Why, to be sure! I just met him. And your Andrew?

FORESTER (half absent-mindedly).

Not at home.

WEILER.

But I suppose you know where your Andrew is?

FORESTER (impatiently).

What else do you want? Leave me alone!

WEILER.

All right. It's none of my business.

FORESTER.

Therefore I think you'd better go.

WEILER.

But to come back to Andrew. You don't know where he is?

FORESTER.

Always harping on Andrew? If you have something to say, don't be like a thunderstorm that keeps threatening for hours.

WEILER (points toward the window).

Some one is coming up across the Lautenberg. The plovers were screeching as if in fear. I expected it. It was too sultry. Ulrich [approaches him] an hour ago some one was shot.

FORESTER.

You know who?

WEILER.

You don't know it? If your Andrew were home—

FORESTER.

Always Andrew! You know something about him!

WEILER.

Well. The rifle—tell me, did Andrew have the one with the yellow strap?

FORESTER.

Why?

WEILER (as if lost in meditation).

Surely I know your rifle—

FORESTER.

Do you want to drive me mad?

WEILER.

You haven't it in the house?

FORESTER.

I won't answer you any more. I'm ugly enough as it is. I have been drinking wine.

WEILER.

Take good care that you are not mistaken.

FORESTER.

Take good care that I don't take you by the collar.

WEILER.

It's no joke—

FORESTER.

You shall see that it is not.

WEILER.

I know nothing but what I have heard and seen. And now sit down. I don't feel like standing long. It seems to me that I must look like my clay-pipe there.

[The FORESTER sitting down at the table to the right; WEILER has drawn a chair close to him, and talks hurriedly in an uncanny, subdued voice.]

A little while ago, as I was quitting work and going away from my wood-cutters, I heard a shot from the direction of the Dell. I thought perhaps it was you, and went in that direction. But it must have been Robert Stein. He was walking up and down there by the first bridge like a sentinel. I thought to myself: What can he be waiting for? Not for game; for in that case one doesn't run up and down; I thought: You must get to the bottom of this. You get behind the high oak. There you can see everything and can't be seen. But I was hardly there, when I heard a commotion behind me. And what was it I heard? Your Andrew and Robert in a most violent dispute. I could not understand anything clearly, but one could hear that they were after each other for life and death. I was just about to creep closer, when they already came rushing along. The one on the further side of the brook on the rocky path, the other on this side. The one on this side was Robert with his gun against his cheek. Two steps from me he stopped—"Stand or I shoot." On the rocky path no two persons can pass each other. There it is—"Man, fight for your life." And now, pif! paf!—two shots in succession. The bullet from the one on the rock whistled between me and Robert into the bushes. But Robert's bullet—Ulrich, I have heard many a shot, but never such a one. One could hear by the sound of the lead, it scented human life. I do not know what sensation I felt when he on the other side collapsed like a wounded stag—

FORESTER.

Andrew?

WEILER.

Who else could it have been? Hey? Perhaps he's home? Perhaps you know where else he is? And the person that was shot had the rifle with the yellow strap. He held it tight. The strap really glistened in the twilight like a signal of distress. It was a weird sound, as the iron parts of the gun in falling struck the rocks and the corpse tumbled after it, breaking the bushes—till there was a splash in the brook below, as if it started in terror. And when, after this, there succeeded such a strange stillness, as if it had to bethink itself of what had really happened, I had a sensation as though some one were pursuing me. I should have been back half an hour ago, if I had not lost my way—I, who know every tree thereabouts. Now you may imagine how I felt! Not until I had reached the second bridge there toward Haslau, did I have courage to stop a moment to take breath—there where the brook is roaring among the rocks. Accidentally I looked down. There the brook was playing with a colored rag. Do you know it, perhaps?

[Takes out ANDREW'S muffler, and holds it before the FORESTER'S eyes; the latter snatches it from his hand.]

FORESTER.

All sorts of shapes before my eyes—the wine—

[Holds it sometimes far, sometimes near, without being able to see it.]

WEILER (short pause).

You are so quiet. Is something wrong with you?

[FORESTER draws a single loud breath, and still keeps holding the muffler mechanically before him, without seeing it.]

WEILER.

Your face is quite distorted. I am going to call your wife.

FORESTER (makes a movement, as if he were pushing a load from him with utmost exertion).

Never mind! A slight dizziness. Have not been bled recently; the wine into the bargain—it's already passing away—say nothing to any one about this.

[Rises with difficulty.]

WEILER.

So they have had a regular stand-up fight, Andrew and Robert! But what do you intend to do now? As a dismissed man? If that fellow says: "I challenged the poacher, he did not throw down his gun?" You know better than any one that a hunter may then shoot. He is not even obliged to challenge; if he only hits the mark, he is also in the right. And whoever, like your Andrew, has fallen the height of two stories from the rock into the water, his tongue will cease wagging even without powder and lead. You know the law, as it is nowadays. And they will lock you up into the bargain because of insubordination. I am sorry for you. I should not like to be you. Hey?

FORESTER.

The thunderstorm has already passed the Lautenberg, do you hear? If you delay any longer you will be caught in the rain.

WEILER.

There was lightning some time ago. As I came along the hill with the larch-firs, the whole country was lighted up. Then I saw Robert still walking up and down by the willows below.

[FORESTER goes to the door so that WEILER may see he is waiting for his departure.]

WEILER.

Are you going once more to the lawyer? That might do some good if you were an official of the state. But what are you going to do when you are not?

FORESTER.

Nothing.

WEILER.

Whoever believes it—

FORESTER.

Fool that you are! I'm going to bed.

WEILER.

It isn't late enough for that.

FORESTER.

I am going to lock the door and the shutters.

WEILER (as he has no alternative, hesitating).

Now then, sleep well, Ulrich—if you can.

[Exit, the FORESTER after him.]



SCENE VII

Enter SOPHY; then the FORESTER and WILLIAM.

SOPHY (coming out of MARY'S room).

Now she may be where the willows begin.

[At the window.]

He is closing the shutters. I must close Mary's for appearance's sake, so that she can climb in when she returns. And Andrew not yet back! All at once a feeling comes over me, as if I should not have allowed Mary to go.

Enter the FORESTER with WILLIAM. SOPHY goes again into MARY'S room.

WILLIAM (while entering).

Father, Lora Kramer came to the fence, and said that Stein was beside himself—that shots had been heard in the forest—that Robert was missing, and that Stein had sent Moeller into town; he was to get the soldiers; they were to arrest the whole band of murderers from the hunter's house, he said. She also said that Moeller had passed Kramer's house at full gallop. They might be expected to arrive before one o'clock.

FORESTER (while SOPHY steps out of MARY'S room).

What have you still to do outside?

[Looks about him.]

WILLIAM.

In the garden, father. Mother, there was nothing in the arbor.

SOPHY (remains at the door).

Then somebody must have brought it in.

[To the FORESTER.]

Are you looking for anything?

FORESTER.

I? No. Yes, the rifle with the yellow strap. Where can that be? Perhaps in Mary's—

SOPHY (involuntarily covering the door, quickly).

There is no rifle in Mary's room.

WILLIAM.

To be sure, Andrew took it along when he went to accompany me.

FORESTER. True. [Shows the muffler.]

There, I have somebody's muffler in my pocket! Is it yours, William?

SOPHY.

The red and yellow muffler? That belongs to Andrew.

FORESTER.

He left it around yesterday, and absentmindedly I must have put it in my pocket.

SOPHY.

Yesterday? Only today, before you went, I gave it to him.

FORESTER.

You gave it to—all right!

SOPHY (comes nearer).

Yes, yes. That is Andrew's muffler.

[She examines it.]

Here is his monogram.

FORESTER (wishes to take it from her).

Give it to me.

SOPHY.

It is wet!—And what blood is that upon the muffler?

FORESTER.

Blood?

[Suppresses his emotion.]

It's from my hand. I cut it on the lock of the gun. Never mind!

SOPHY (busies herself on the other side of the stage).

FORESTER.

William, come here. Read to me. There in the Bible, begin where the book-mark is.

WILLIAM.

In the middle of the chapter?

FORESTER.

Beginning at the mark there. Go on!

[Gets his hat.]

WILLIAM (reads).

"And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall—"

FORESTER.

That isn't it.

[Hangs the gun over his shoulder.]

WILLIAM.

"And he that killeth any man"—is that it?

FORESTER (profoundly moved, comes a step nearer).

No—but go on reading.

[He stands next to WILLIAM. During the following he involuntarily takes off his hat, and folds his hands.]

WILLIAM.

"And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause a blemish on his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death."

FORESTER.

He shall be put to death.

WILLIAM.

"Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God."

FORESTER.

Amen.

[Puts on his hat and is about to go; turns back.]

When did she say they might be there, William?



WILLIAM.

The soldiers?

FORESTER.

Before—

WILLIAM.

Before one o'clock.

FORESTER.

There's time enough.

WILLIAM.

For what, father?

FORESTER.

For—getting a sound sleep.

WILLIAM.

Father, how strangely you look at me?

FORESTER.

Go to bed, William.

[As SOPHY enters.]

Shake hands with your mother.

SOPHY (surprised).

Are you going out now, Christian?

FORESTER.

Yes.

SOPHY.

Did Weiler pick up the trail of the stag again?

FORESTER.

Yes. Maybe.

SOPHY.

How you look! One might be afraid of you, if one did not know how it is with you when you have taken wine.

FORESTER.

For that reason I want to go out into the open air.

SOPHY.

At such times you see everything different from what it is. You may fall into the abyss.

FORESTER.

Then you cut the leaf there from the Bible and put it into my coffin.

SOPHY.

How you talk!

FORESTER.

GO to bed, William.

[Exit WILLIAM.]

Pray—or do not pray—

SOPHY.

What is the matter with you, Christian? Why am I so anxious? Stay, for God's sake, stay! Your business surely can wait.

FORESTER.

No. It must be done even today. [Going.]

SOPHY (about to follow him).

Ulrich—

FORESTER (turning around at the door, softly to himself).

"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth."

[Exit.]

SOPHY (recoiling from the glare of the sheet-lightning which is seen through the open door).

God have mercy on us!

[At the door.]

Ulrich!

[In far-away voice, outside.]

Ulrich!



ACT V

The FORESTER'S House. Night. For a short time the stage remains empty.



SCENE I

SOPHY (alone, comes in with a lamp, looks into MARY'S room, puts the lamp upon the table, goes to the window, opens the shutter through which the reflection of the sheet-lightning is visible, looks out; then she closes shutter and window, takes the lamp again, and looks once more into MARY'S room. At intervals she listens and betrays great anxiety.)

Not yet! What if he's encountered her! What if he's met them together! She ought to be back by this time. Oh, why did I let her go? And Andrew does not come, either! And then this sultry, stormy night!

[Listens.]

Surely, that was she? At last! God be praised!

[Looks into the room.]

No. It is not she. The wind blew open the half-closed shutter.



SCENE II

WILLIAM, in his shirt-sleeves; SOPHY.

WILLIAM.

Are the soldiers there, mother?

[At the door of MARY'S room.]

Mother, where is father?

[SOPHY is startled, and quickly closes the door.]

WILLIAM.

And Mary? She is not in her room?

SOPHY.

What ideas you get into your head!

WILLIAM.

Her bed is still as if it had just been made.

SOPHY (listens, frightened).

Is that your father? William, say nothing about this before your father!

WILLIAM.

I'm the fellow to play the informer! But you must tell me where Mary is. SOPHY.

Gone to the Dell to ask Robert—

WILLIAM.

Mother, we beg at nobody's door. I am going to fetch her.

SOPHY.

In this storm?

WILLIAM (puts on his jacket).

He would be a fine hunter's boy who is afraid of a little bit of lightning. Only tell me which way Mary went. The one below along the brook? All right. She is not like the others, but she is only a girl. And they are afraid.

[Exit.]



SCENE III

SOPHY (alone; after him).

William! William! [Comes back.]

He is gone! And the storm is getting worse. A fog below, and the thunderstorm above coming nearer. And another one is coming on from the Brandsberg. And Ulrich outside, and none of the children at home. And I all alone in this solitary hunter's house in the midst of the forest, and at such an hour of the night!

[A door is heard slamming; she starts up.]

Merciful God! It is he! If he should look into the room and should not see Mary! Or—



SCENE IV

Enter the FORESTER in haste; pale and distracted; SOPHY.

SOPHY (going to meet him).

Back already?—[Correcting herself] at last?

FORESTER (looking shyly about).

Did anybody ask for me?

SOPHY.

No. Are they pursuing you?

FORESTER.

Who?

SOPHY.

Godfrey—

FORESTER.

Why?

SOPHY.

Because you come in as if you were being hunted.

FORESTER.

I meant the soldiers.—Why do I see Mary everywhere! In the Dell—

SOPHY (is frightened).

In the Dell!

[Aside.]

Good Heavens!

FORESTER.

And all the way back I heard her walking behind me.

SOPHY.

On your way back—

FORESTER.

Whenever I walked, I heard her behind me; whenever I stood still, she also stood still, but I did not look around.

SOPHY (relieved).

You did not look around?

FORESTER.

Why, I knew it was nothing. I have a feeling as though even now she were still standing behind me.

SOPHY (wishes to divert him from the subject).

Did you shoot anything? Is it outside?

FORESTER (shuddering involuntarily).

Outside?

SOPHY.

Before the door. What a strange look you give me! What is that on your clothes?

FORESTER (turns away involuntarily).

What is it?

SOPHY.

A spot—

FORESTER.

What you see—

SOPHY.

Why will you not let me see it?

FORESTER.

It is nothing.

[Turns to the table at the right, takes down his gun.]

Is the soup warm? My tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth.

SOPHY (takes a plate and spoon from the closet, goes to the stove where she pours out the soup).

If he should look into the room! What I ask, I ask only in anxiety to have him forget about Mary.

[She puts the soup before the FORESTER on the table to the right; listens.]

Isn't there a noise in the room?

[Walks about the FORESTER'S chair, so as to distract him.]

Ulrich, don't you think that Robert could still restore the old friendly relations?

[FORESTER makes a movement.]

SOPHY.

Why do you start so?

FORESTER.

Don't wake up Mary! Wasn't there some one at the window?

SOPHY.

That is the old rose-bush outside, which is always nodding so anxiously and knocking at the window, as if it had to prevent a catastrophe, and nobody paid any attention to it.

[Pause; aside.]

It is so still. I must keep on talking, otherwise he can hear me breathing, and will notice my anxiety—and also that he may not hear Mary when she climbs in at the window.

[Listening repeatedly.]

The whole evening I have been thinking about it. Only yesterday Robert said to me—

FORESTER.

Always Robert—

SOPHY (has seated herself by his side).

We were walking along the willows, where the pine-thicket is, under the rock, in the Dell—

FORESTER (violently).

Don't mention that—

SOPHY.

How you start! It was at sunset; and as I looked around, something was coming out from under the pines—so red. I—frightened—For God's sake, I say, why, that is blood!

[FORESTER throws down his spoon and rises.]

SOPHY.

Then the evening glow was reflected in the water.—But what is the matter with you?

FORESTER.

Always with your Dell. What do you care about the Dell?

SOPHY.

Did something happen to you there? People say the place is haunted. Robert said so to me yesterday. They say that there is an accursed spot! There some one committed a murd—

FORESTER (seizes his gun).

What do you know?

SOPHY (recoiling in terror).

Ulrich!—

FORESTER.

Will you keep quiet?

SOPHY (stops before him, shuddering, filled with a presentiment).

Ulrich! What have you done?

FORESTER (has recovered his self-possession).

Stuff and nonsense! Is this a night for such stories?

[Lost in thought.]

SOPHY.

Go ahead. Whether an hour sooner, or an hour later. You have me on your conscience.

[Sinks down upon a chair to the left.]

FORESTER (pause; then he walks slowly up and down, and gradually comes near her, hesitating).

I must tell you something, Sophy—if you do not already know it; it will not let me rest. I am in the right; but—and then I cannot tell—is it true or is it only an oppressive dream?—a dream in which one cannot do what one wishes—and exhausts oneself—because one must always do what one does not wish. Come here! Do you hear? Place your hand on the Bible.

SOPHY.

Great God! What can be the meaning of this!

FORESTER.

It would be horrible if I had been obliged to kill her, and after all everything were only—and then I should have in vain—Sophy!

[Quite close to her; softly.]

There is a report that a corpse is lying in the Dell!

SOPHY.

You are drunk or mad!

FORESTER.

I am in my right mind. Look at me, woman! Do you believe in a God in Heaven? Very well, Very well! Then place your hand upon the Bible, right here. There my right is written. Now say after me: "As truly as I hope to be saved—"

SOPHY (faintly).

As truly as I hope to be saved—

FORESTER.

"So truly shall it remain a secret what I am now about to hear."

SOPHY.

So truly shall it remain a secret what I am now about to hear.

[Is obliged to sit down.]

FORESTER.

And now give heed.—It is short—no But and no If about it—it is clear as the right—and right must remain right—else we need no God in Heaven! [After he has made several attempts to begin, in a dejected and low voice, while he leads her to the footlights.] Do not be frightened. Robert shot our Andrew, and I—I have executed judgment upon him.

SOPHY.

Oh, God! [She can scarcely keep herself on her feet; wants to go to the chair. He supports her.]

FORESTER.

I have judged him. As it is written there—"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth." I have judged him, because the courts no longer judge right. They have two kinds of law, and here it is written: "Ye shall have one manner of law." I have not murdered him, I have executed judgment upon him. [He walks up and down, then loses himself in thought at the place where he believes SOPHY still to be, who totters to the chair.] But I do not know whether it did happen—what has happened. My brain is so wild and confused—[Recollects with difficulty] but I suppose it really did happen—what has happened—and as it was about to happen—what has happened—I saw Mary before my eyes, as if she put herself in front of him and made a sign to me to stop, and cried: "It is"—well, you know who! It was a delusion; it was only in my imagination. After I have had wine, I always am in a state that I see things which do not exist. And if it should have been she—the bullet then was no longer under any control.

SOPHY.

Almighty God!

[She drags herself with difficulty into MARY'S room.]

FORESTER (does not notice it and, staring before him, continues as if she were still standing beside him).

It was not she. How could Mary have come there? It is nothing but the effect of the wine, that today I see her everywhere. But nevertheless I was frightened until I saw it had only been the smoke from the gun. Everything was turning around before my eyes. But when the smoke had cleared away—that was only a moment—then I saw him—still standing as before, but only for a moment—then he collapsed—then had happened what did happen. Then I folded my hands over my gun, and said: "You have been judged according to your desert." And I prayed: "God have mercy on his poor soul." Then a swarm of owls flew up and screeched. That sounded as though they said Amen. Then I stood again erect on my feet. For God and Earth and Heaven and every creature demand justice.

[He loses himself in a brown study.]



SCENE V

The FORESTER, lost in thought, alone. Then STEIN and the PASTOR, at first only heard behind the scenes.

STEIN (still outside).

Ulrich!

FORESTER (awaking, mechanically).

Stein!

STEIN (as above).

Do you hear?

FORESTER (the connection of the events suddenly flashes upon him).

It did happen!

[Makes a movement as if to seize his gun; but controls himself.]

No! Not an iota more than my right!

STEIN (entering, the PASTOR behind him).

Where is your Andrew, Ulrich?

FORESTER.

What do you want with my Andrew?

STEIN.

To demand my Robert from him.

FORESTER.

Your Robert?—From my Andrew?—Look here!

[Shows the muffler.]

PASTOR.

For Heaven's sake!—There is blood on the muffler!

STEIN.

What is that?

FORESTER.

That is my Andrew's blood, and your Robert spilled it. And you sent your Moeller for the soldiers! And you made me a scoundrel before the world—with your two kinds of right—so that you may twist it as you like! But here—[striking his breast] there still is a right! That neither you nor your lawyers can twist.



SCENE VI

ANDREW, still without. STEIN, FORESTER, PASTOR.

ANDREW (outside, in a low voice).

Father—

PASTOR.

Who calls?

STEIN.

Is not that Andrew's voice?

FORESTER (continuing).

Here it is written: "Ye shall have one manner of law." And the law has judged you. "And he that killeth any man he—"

ANDREW.

Father!

FORESTER (trembling, staring at the door, with smothered voice, mechanically).

"He—he—shall—surely—be—put to death"—

Enter ANDREW.

STEIN (going toward him).

God be thanked! Andrew, you live!

FORESTER (makes a great effort).

It is not true. He is dead. He must be dead.

ANDREW.

Father!

FORESTER (stretching out his hand, as if warding him off).

Who are you?

ANDREW (more and more alarmed).

Do you not know your Andrew any more?

FORESTER.

My Andrew is dead. If you lie slain in the Dell—then you shall be my Andrew—then everything is well—then we will rejoice—then we will sing: Lord God, we praise Thee!

PASTOR.

He is demented!

STEIN.

Andrew, my Robert—

ANDREW.

You have my muffler which Lindenschmied stole from me before he killed Godfrey?

STEIN.

Lindenschmied killed Godfrey? And my Robert—

ANDREW.

Robert was pursuing him. He compelled Robert to shoot him.

FORESTER.

He? He had your gun?

ANDREW.

Stolen it with my muffler.

FORESTER.

And Robert did—

ANDREW.

Lindenschmied was not mortally wounded. I had his wound dressed in the mill, and had him removed before the magistrate—

FORESTER (gradually collapsing).

I am in the wrong!

[Sinks down upon a chair.]

ANDREW.

That is the reason why I am so late.

FORESTER (rises; goes to STEIN with his gun in his hand).

Stein, do to me according to my desert.

STEIN.

What do you mean?

FORESTER.

"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth"—

STEIN (looking at the PASTOR).

What does he mean by that again?

FORESTER.

Weiler thought that Lindenschmied with the gun was my Andrew. Your Robert wounded Lindenschmied, and I—killed your Robert for this!

PASTOR.

Almighty God!

ANDREW (at the same time).

Robert!

FORESTER (almost simultaneously).

Shoot me!

STEIN (has seized the gun).

You murderer!

[The PASTOR arrests his arm.]

ANDREW.

You shot Robert, father? Robert lives!

STEIN.

He lives?

PASTOR.

He lives?

FORESTER.

He lives?

ANDREW.

He lives, as surely as I live!

FORESTER.

It was only a dream? Can it be that I am not a murderer? That I am an honorable man?

PASTOR.

That you are, Ulrich. Drive away that unfortunate delusion.

STEIN.

Man alive, to what might you have provoked me!

[Puts away the gun.]

FORESTER.

You saw him? When did you see him, Andrew? Now, Andrew? Just now, Andrew?

ANDREW.

Just now, as I was coming home, I met two men from the mill with a stretcher. Robert had just called them out of their beds; they were going to the Dell; Robert had gone ahead of them.

FORESTER.

To the Dell?

PASTOR.

With a stretcher?

STEIN.

What can be behind all this?

FORESTER (has gone to the door of MARY'S room; releases the latch).

Thanks be to God!

[Listening.]

I hear her breathing. Oh, she sleeps a peaceful sleep. I am oppressed with a world of cares, and she takes them from my heart with her breath. Do you hear, Pastor, do you hear?

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