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The Lonely Way—Intermezzo—Countess Mizzie - Three Plays
by Arthur Schnitzler
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SALA

I hope you never took offense at my gradual discovery of the true state of affairs.

JULIAN

You, at any rate, didn't think me very sensible....

SALA

Why not? I too find that family life in itself is quite attractive. Only it ought, after all, to be experienced in one's own family.

JULIAN

You know very well that I have frequently felt something like actual shame at the incongruity of that relationship. It was in fact one of the things that drove me away. Of course, there were a lot of other things that pressed on me at the time. Especially that I couldn't make a real success out of my work.

SALA

But you hadn't been exhibiting anything for a long time.

JULIAN

It wasn't external success I had in mind. I could never get into the right mood any more, and I hoped that traveling would help me again, as it had done so often in earlier years.

SALA

And how did you fare? We have heard so little of you here. You might really have written me a little more frequently and fully. For you know, of course, that I care a great deal more for you than for most other people. We have such a knack of giving each other the right cue—don't you think? There are sentimental people who speak of such a relation as friendship. And it is not impossible that we used to address each other by our Christian names some time during the last century, or that you may even have wept your fill on my shoulder. I have missed you more than once during these two years—honestly! On my lonely walks I have quite frequently thought of our pleasant chats in the Dornbach park, where we were in the habit of disposing temporarily of (quoting) "what is most lofty and profound in this our world."—Well, Julian, from where do you come anyhow?

JULIAN

From the Tyrol? During the Summer I made long tours on foot. I have even turned mountain climber in my old days. I spent a whole week at one of those pasturing grounds in the Alps.... Yes, I have been up to all sorts of things. It's a wonder what you can do when you are all alone.

SALA

And you have really been all alone?

JULIAN

Yes.

SALA

All these last years?

JULIAN

If I don't count a few nonsensical interruptions—yes.

SALA

But there should have been no difficulty in that respect.

JULIAN

I know. But I cannot rest satisfied with what is still offered me of that kind of thing. I have been badly spoiled, Sala. Up to a certain period my life passed away in a constant orgy of tenderness and passion, and of power, you might say. And that is all over. Oh, Sala, what pitiful fictions I have had to steal, and beg, and buy, during these last years! It gives me nausea to look back at it, and it horrifies me to look ahead. And I ask myself: can there really be nothing left of all that glow with which I once embraced the world but a sort of silly wrath because it's all over—because I—I—am no less subject to human laws than anybody else?

SALA

Why all this bitterness, Julian? There is still a great deal to be had out of this world, even when some of the pleasures and enjoyments of our earlier years have begun to appear tasteless or unseemly. And how can you, of all people, miss that feeling, Julian?

JULIAN

Snatch his part from an actor and ask him if he can still take pleasure in the beautiful scenery surrounding him.

SALA

But you have begun to work again while you were traveling?

JULIAN

Hardly at all.

SALA

Felix told us that you had brought some sketches from your trunk in order to show him.

JULIAN

He spoke of them?

SALA

Yes, and nothing but good.

JULIAN

Really?

SALA

And as you showed those things to him, you must have thought rather well of them yourself.

JULIAN

That was not the reason why I let him see them. (Walking back and forth) I must tell you—at the risk of having you think me a perfect fool.

SALA

Oh, a little more or less won't count. Speak out.

JULIAN

I wanted him at least not to lose faith in me. Can you understand that? After all, he is nearer to me than the rest. Of course, I know—to everybody, even to you, I am one who has gone down, who is finished—one of those whose only talent was his youth. It doesn't bother me very much. But to Felix I want to be the man I was once—just as I still am that man. When he learns sometime that I am his father, he must be proud of it.

SALA

When he learns it...?

JULIAN

I have no intention to keep it hidden from him forever. Now, when his mother is dead, less than ever. Last time I talked to him, it became clear to me, not only that it would be right, but that it would almost be a duty, to tell him the truth. He has a mind for essentials. He will understand everything. And I shall have a human being who belongs to me, who knows that he belongs to me, and for whose sake it is worth while to keep on living in this world. I shall live near him, and be with him a good deal. Once more I shall have my existence put on a solid basis, so to speak, and not hung in mid-air, as it is now. And then I shall be able to work again—work as I did once—as when I was a young man. Work, that is what I am going to do—and all of you will turn out to have been wrong—all of you!

SALA

But to whom has it occurred to doubt you? If you could only have heard us talk of you a little while ago, Julian. Everybody expects that, sooner or later, you—will find yourself again completely.

JULIAN

Well, that's enough about me, more than enough. Pardon me. Let us hear something about yourself at last. I suppose you have already moved into your new house?

SALA

Yes.

JULIAN

And what plans have you for the immediate future?

SALA

I am thinking of going to Asia with Count Ronsky.

JULIAN

With Ronsky? Are you going to join that expedition about which so much has been written?

SALA

Yes. Some such undertaking has been tempting me for a long time. Are you perhaps familiar with the Rolston report on the Bactrian and Median excavations of 1892?

JULIAN

No.

SALA

Well, it is positively staggering. Think of it—they suspect that under the refuse and the dust lies a monster city, something like the present London in extent. At that time they made their way into a palace, where the most wonderful paintings were found. These were perfectly preserved in several rooms. And they dug out stairways—built of a marble that is nowhere to be found nowadays. Perhaps it was brought from some island which since then has sunk beneath the sea. Three hundred and twelve steps glittering like opals and leading down into unknown depths.... Unknown because they ceased digging after they had reached the three hundred and twelfth step—God only knows why! I don't think I can tell you how those steps pique my curiosity.

JULIAN

But it has always been asserted that the Rolston expedition was lost?

SALA

No, not quite as bad as that. Out of twenty-four Europeans, eight got back after three years in spite of all—and half a dozen of them had been lost before they ever got there. You have to pass through pretty bad fever belts. And at that time they had to face an attack of the Kurds, too, by which several were done for. But we shall be much better equipped. Furthermore, at the border we shall be joined by a Russian contingent which is traveling under military escort. And here, too, they think of putting a military aspect on the affair. As to the fever—that doesn't scare me—it can't do me any harm. As a young man I spent a number of particularly dangerous Summer nights in the thermae of Caracalla—you know, of course, what boggy ground that is—and remained well.

JULIAN

But that doesn't prove anything.

SALA

Oh yes, a little. There I came across a Roman girl whose home was right by the Appian Way. She caught the fever and died from it.... To be sure, I am not as young as I was then, but so far I have been perfectly well.

JULIAN (who has already smoked several cigarettes, offers one to Sala) Don't you smoke?

SALA

Thanks. Really, I shouldn't. Only yesterday Dr. Reumann told me I mustn't.... Nothing particular—my heart is a little restless, that's all. Well, a single one won't do any harm, I suppose.

VALET (enters)

Miss Herms, sir. She's asking whether she can see you.

JULIAN

Certainly. Ask her to come in.

VALET (goes out)

IRENE HERMS (enters. She is about forty-three, but doesn't look it. Her dress is simple and in perfect taste. Her movements are vivacious, and at times almost youthful in their swiftness. Her hair is deeply blonde in color and very heavy. Her eyes are merry, good-humored most of the time, and easily filled with tears. She comes in with a smile and nods in a friendly manner to Sala. To Julian, who has gone to meet her, she holds out her hand with an expression on her face that is almost happy) Good evening. Well? (She has the habit of pronouncing that "well" in a tone of sympathetic inquiry) So I did right after all in keeping my patience a couple of days more. Here I've got you back now. (To Sala) Can you guess the length of time we haven't seen each other?

JULIAN

More than three years.

IRENE (nods assent and permits him at last to withdraw his hand from hers) In all our lives that has never happened before. And your last letter is already two months old. I call it "letter" just to save my face. But it was only a view-card. Where in the world have you been anyhow?

JULIAN

Sit down, won't you? I'll tell you all about it. Won't you take off your hat? You'll stay a while, I hope?

IRENE

Of course.—And the way you look! (To Sala) Fine, don't you think? I've always known that a gray beard would make him look awfully interesting.

SALA (to Julian)

Now you'll have nothing but pleasantries to listen to. Unfortunately I shall have to be moving.

IRENE

You're not leaving on my account, I hope?

SALA

How can you imagine such a thing, Miss Herms?

IRENE

I suppose you are bound for the Wegrats'?—What do you think of it, Julian? Isn't it dreadful? (To Sala) Please give them my regards.

SALA

I'm not going there now. I'm going home.

IRENE

Home? And you say that in such a matter-of-fact way? I understand you are now living in a perfect palace.

SALA

No, anything but that. A modest country house. It would give me special pleasure, Miss Herms, if sometime you would make sure of it in person. My garden is really pretty.

IRENE

Have you fruit trees, too, and vegetables?

SALA

In this respect I can only offer you a stray cabbage and a wild cherry tree.

IRENE

Well, if my time permit, I shall make a point of coming out there to have a look at your villa.

JULIAN

Must you leave again so soon?

IRENE

Certainly. I have to get home again. Only this morning I had a letter from my little nephew—and he's longing for me. A little rascal of five, and he, too, is longing already. What do you think of that?

SALA

And you are also longing to get back, I suppose?

IRENE

It isn't that. But I'm beginning to get accustomed to Vienna again. As I'm going about the streets here, I run across memories at every corner.—Can you guess where I was yesterday, Julian? In the rooms where I used to live as a child. It wasn't easy by any means, as a lot of strangers are living there now. But I got into the rooms just the same.

SALA (with amicable irony)

How did you manage it, Miss Herms?

IRENE

I sneaked in under a pretext. I pretended to believe that there was a room to be let—for a single elderly lady. But at last I fell to weeping so that I could see the people thought me out of my mind. And then I told them the true reason for my coming there. A clerk in the post-office is living there now with his wife and two children. One of these was such a nice little chap. He was playing railroad with an engine that could be wound up, and that ran over one of my feet all the time.... But I can see that all this doesn't interest you very much, Mr. von Sala.

SALA

How can you interrupt yourself like that, Miss Herms, just when it is most exciting? I should have loved to hear more about it. But now I must really go, unfortunately. Good-by, Julian.—Then, Miss Herms, I may count on a visit from you. (He goes out)

IRENE

Thank God!

JULIAN (smiling)

Do you still have the same antipathy for him?

IRENE

Antipathy?—I hate him! Nothing but your incredible kindness of heart would let him come near you. For you have no worse enemy.

JULIAN

Where did you get that idea?

IRENE

My instinct tells me—you can feel such things.

JULIAN

I fear, however, that even now you cannot judge him quite objectively.

IRENE

Why not?

JULIAN

You can't forgive him that you failed in one of his plays ten years ago.

IRENE

Unfortunately it's already twelve years ago. And it wasn't my fault. For my opinion in regard to his so-called poetry is, that it's nonsense. And I am not the only one who thinks so, as you know. But you don't know him, of course. To appreciate that gentleman in all his glory, you must have enjoyed him at a rehearsal. (Imitating Sala) Oh, madam, that's verse—it's verse, dear madam.... Only when you have heard that kind of thing from him can you understand how limitless his arrogance is.... And everybody knows, by the way, that he killed his wife.

JULIAN (amused)

But, girl, who in the world put such horrible ideas into your head?

IRENE

Oh, people don't die willy-nilly like that, at twenty-five....

JULIAN

I hope, Irene, that you don't talk like this to other people?

IRENE

What would be the use? Everyone knows it but you. And I for my part have no reason to spare Mr. von Sala, who for twenty years has pursued me with his jeers.

JULIAN

And yet you are going to call on him?

IRENE

Of course. Beautiful villas interest me very much. And they tell me his is ravishing. If you were only to see people who....

JULIAN

Hadn't killed anybody....

IRENE

Really, we show him too much honor in talking so long about him. That ends it.—Well, Julian? How goes it? Why haven't you written me oftener? Is it possible you didn't dare?

JULIAN

Dare...?

IRENE

Were you forbidden, I mean?

JULIAN

I see.—Nobody can forbid me anything.

IRENE

Honestly? You live all by yourself?

JULIAN

Yes.

IRENE

I'm delighted. I can't help it, Julian, but I am delighted. Although it's sheer nonsense. This day, or the next, there'll be something new going on.

JULIAN

Those days are past.

IRENE

If it were only true!—Can I have a cup of tea?

JULIAN

Certainly. The samovar is right there.

IRENE

Where?—Oh, over there. And the tea?—Oh, I know! (She opens a small cupboard and brings out what she needs; during the next few minutes she is busy preparing the tea)

JULIAN

So you are really going to stay here only a couple of days more?

IRENE

Of course. I have done all my ordering. You understand, in my sister's house out there one doesn't need to dress up.

JULIAN

Tell me about it. How do you like it out there?

IRENE

Splendidly. Oh, it's bliss merely to hear nothing more about the theater.

JULIAN

And yet you'll return to it sometime.

IRENE

That's where you are completely mistaken. Why should I? You must remember that I have now reached the goal of all my desires: fresh air, and woods right by; horseback riding across meadows and fields; early morning seated in the big park, dressed in my kimono, and nobody daring to intrude. To put it plainly: no people, no manager, no public, no colleagues, no playwrights—though, of course, all are not as arrogant as your precious Sala.—Well, all this I have attained at last. I live in the country. I have a country house—almost a little palace, you might say. I have a park, and a horse, and a kimono—to use as much as I please. It isn't all mine, I admit—except the kimono, of course—but what does that matter? In the bargain, I live with the best people one could hope to find in this world. For my brother-in-law is, if possible, a finer fellow than Lora herself even.

JULIAN

Wasn't he rather making up to you once?

IRENE

I should say he was! He wanted to marry me at any cost. Of course!—It was always in me that they were at first—I mean that they always have been in love with me. But as a rule the clever ones have gone over to Lora. In fact, I have always felt a little distrustful toward you because you never fell in love with Lora. And how much she is ahead of me—well, you know, and it's no use talking of it. What all don't I owe to Lora!... If it hadn't been for her...!—Well, it's with them I have been living the last half year.

JULIAN

The question is only how long you are going to stand it.

IRENE

How long...? But, Julian, I must ask you what there could be to make me leave such a paradise and return to the morass where I (in a lowered voice) spent twenty-five years of my life. What could I possibly expect out of the theater anyhow? I am not made for elderly parts. The heroic mother, the shrewish dame and the funny old woman are equally little to my liking. I intend to die as "the young lady from the castle"—as an old maid, you might say—and if everything goes right, I shall appear to the grandchildren of my sister some hundred years from now as the Lady in White. In a word, I have the finest kind of a life ahead of me.—Why are you laughing?

JULIAN

It pleases me to see you so jolly again—so youthful.

IRENE

It's the country air, Julian. You should try it yourself for a good long while. It's glorious! In fact, I think I have missed my true calling. I'm sure the good Lord meant me for a milkmaid or farm girl of some kind. Or perhaps for a young shepherd. I have always looked particularly well in pants.—There now. Do you want me to pour a cup for you at once? (She pours the tea) Have you nothing to go with it?

JULIAN

I think there must still be a few crackers left in my bag. (He takes a small package out of his traveling bag)

IRENE

Thanks. That's fine.

JULIAN

This is quite a new fancy of yours, however.

IRENE

Crackers...?

JULIAN

No, nature.

IRENE

How can you say so? I have always had a boundless love for nature. Don't you recall the excursions we used to make? Don't you remember how once we fell asleep in the woods on a hot Summer afternoon? And don't you ever think of that shrine of the Holy Virgin, on the hill where we were caught by the storm?... Oh, mercy! Nature is no silly illusion. And still later—when I struck the bad days and wanted to kill myself for your sake, fool that I was ... then nature simply proved my salvation. Indeed, Julian! I could still show you the place where I threw myself on the grass and wept. You have to walk ten minutes from the station, through an avenue of acacias, and then on to the brook. Yes, I threw myself on the grass and wept and wailed. It was one of those days, you know, when you had again sent me packing from your door. Well, and then, when I had been lying half an hour in the grass, and had wept my fill, then I got up again—and began to scamper all over the meadow. Just like a kid, all by myself. Then I wiped my eyes and felt quite right again. (Pause) Of course, next morning I was at your door again, setting up a howl, and then the story began all over again.

[It is growing dark.

JULIAN

Why do you still think of all that?

IRENE

But you do it, too. And who has proved the more stupid of us two in the end? Who? Ask yourself, on your conscience. Who?... Have you been more happy with anybody else than with me? Has anybody else clung to you as I did? Has anybody else been so fond of you?... No, I am sure. And as to that foolish affair into which I stumbled during my engagement abroad—you might just as well have overlooked it. Really, there isn't as much to that kind of thing as you men want to make out—when it happens to one of us, that is to say. (Both drink of their tea)

JULIAN

Should I get some light?

IRENE

It's quite cosy in the twilight like this.

JULIAN

"Not much to it," you say. Perhaps you are right. But when it happens to anybody, he gets pretty mad as a rule. And if we had made up again—it would never have been as before. It's better as it is. When the worst was over, we became good friends once more, and so we have been ever since. And that is a pretty fine thing, too.

IRENE

Yes. And nowadays I'm quite satisfied. But at that time...! Oh, mercy, what a time that was! But you don't know anything about it, of course. It was afterward I began really to love you—after I had lost you through my own thoughtlessness. It was only then I learned how to be faithful in the true sense. For anything that has happened to me since then.... But it's asking too much that a man should understand that kind of thing.

JULIAN

I understand quite well, Irene. You may be sure.

IRENE

And besides I want to tell you something: it was nothing but a well-deserved punishment for both of us.

JULIAN

For both of us?

IRENE

Yes, that's what I have figured out long ago. A well-deserved punishment.

JULIAN

For both of us?

IRENE

Yes, for you, too.

JULIAN

But what do you mean by that?

IRENE

We had deserved no better.

JULIAN

We...? In what way?

IRENE (very seriously)

You are so very clever otherwise, Julian. Now what do you say—do you think it could have happened as it did—do you think I could have made a mistake like that—if we—had had a child? Ask yourself on your conscience, Julian—do you believe it? I don't, and you don't either. Everything would have happened in a different way. Everything. We had stayed together then. We had had more children. We had married. We might be living together now. I shouldn't have become an old-maidish "young lady from the castle," and you wouldn't have become....

JULIAN

An old bachelor.

IRENE

Well, if you say it yourself. And the main thing is this: we had a child. I had a child. (Pause)

JULIAN (walking back and forth)

What's the use, Irene? Why do you begin to talk of all those forgotten things again...?

IRENE

Forgotten?

JULIAN

... Things gone by.

IRENE

Yes, they are bygone, of course. But out there in the country you have plenty of time. All sorts of things keep passing through your head. And especially when you see other people's children—Lora has two boys, you know—then you get all sorts of notions. It almost amounted to a vision not long ago.

JULIAN

What?

IRENE

It was toward evening, and I had walked across the fields. I do it quite often, all by myself. Far and wide there was nobody to be seen. And the village down below was quite deserted, too. And I walked on and on, always in direction of the woods. And suddenly I was no longer alone. You were with me. And between us was the child. We were holding it by the hands—our little child. (Angrily, to keep herself from crying) It's too silly for anything! I know, of course, that our child would be a gawky youngster of twenty-three by now—that it might have turned into a scamp or a good-for-nothing girl. Or that it might be dead already. Or that it had drifted out into the wide world, so that we had nothing left of it—oh, yes, yes.... But we should have had it once, for all that—once there would have been a little child that seemed rather fond of us. And.... (She is unable to go on; silence follows)

JULIAN (softly)

You shouldn't talk yourself into such a state, Irene.

IRENE

I am not talking myself into anything.

JULIAN

Don't brood. Accept things as they are. There have been other things in your life—better things, perhaps. Your life has been much richer than that of a mere mother could ever have been.... You have been an artist.

IRENE (as if to herself)

I don't care that much for it.

JULIAN

A great, famous one—that means something after all. And your life has brought you many other exquisite experiences—since the one with me. I am sure of it.

IRENE

What have I got left of it? What does it amount to? A woman who has no child has never been a woman. But a woman who once might have had one—who should have had one, and who—(with a glance at him)—has never become a mother, she is nothing but—oh! But that's what a man cannot understand! It is what not one of them can understand! In this respect the very best one of the lot will always remain something of a cad. Is there one of you who knows how many of his own offspring have been set adrift in the world? I know at least that there are none of mine. Can you say as much?

JULIAN

And if I did know....

IRENE

How? Have you got one really?—Oh, speak, please! You can tell me, Julian, can't you? Where is it? How old is it? A boy? Or a girl?

JULIAN

Don't question me.... Even if I had a child, it wouldn't belong to you anyhow.

IRENE

He has a child! He has a child! (Pause) Why do you permit it to be drifting around in the world then?

JULIAN

You yourself have given the explanation: in this respect the very best of us remains always something of a cad. And I am not the best one at that.

IRENE

Why don't you go and get it?

JULIAN

How could it be any of my concern? How could I dare to make it my concern? Oh, that's enough.... (Pause) Do you want another cup of tea?

IRENE

No, thanks. No more now. (Pause; it is growing darker) He has a child, and I have never known it! (Protracted silence)

VALET (enters)

JULIAN

What is it?

VALET

Lieutenant Wegrat asks if you are at home, sir?

JULIAN

Certainly. Ask him in.

VALET (goes out after having turned on the light)

IRENE

Young Wegrat?—I thought he had already left again.—The poor chap! He seemed utterly stunned.

JULIAN

I can imagine.

IRENE

You visited him at Salzburg?

JULIAN

Yes, I happened to be there a couple of days last August.

FELIX (enters, dressed as a civilian)

Good evening.—Good evening, Miss Herms.

IRENE

Good evening, Lieutenant.

JULIAN

My dear Felix—I was going to call on you—this very evening. It's extremely nice of you to take the trouble.

FELIX

I have to be off again the day after to-morrow, and so I wasn't sure whether I could find any chance at all to see you.

JULIAN

Won't you take off your coat?—Think of it, I didn't have the slightest idea.... It was Sala who told me—less than an hour ago.

[Irene is looking from one to the other.

FELIX

We didn't dream of this when we took that walk in the Mirabell Gardens[4] last summer.

[4] The palace of Mirabell is one of the sights of Salzburg, the city near the Bavarian border, where Felix's regiment was stationed. It is now used as a museum. The gardens adjoining it are of the formal type so dear to, and so characteristic of, the eighteenth century.

JULIAN

Was it very sudden?

FELIX

Yes. And I, who couldn't be with her.... Late that evening I had to leave, and she died during the night.

IRENE

Say rather that she didn't wake up again next morning.

FELIX

We owe a lot of thanks to you, Miss Herms.

IRENE

Oh, please...!

FELIX

It always gave my mother so much pleasure to have you with her, chatting, or playing the piano to her.

IRENE

Oh, don't mention my playing...!

[A clock strikes.

IRENE

Is it that late? Then I have to go.

JULIAN

What's the hurry, Miss Herms?

IRENE

I'm going to the opera. I have to make good use of the few days I shall still be here.

FELIX

Shall we see you at our house again, Miss Herms?

IRENE

Certainly.—You'll have to leave before me, won't you?

FELIX

Yes, my furlough will be up....

IRENE (as if en passant)

How long have you been an officer anyhow, Felix?

FELIX

For three years really—but I didn't apply for a commission until this year—a little too late, perhaps.

IRENE

Too late? Why?—How old are you, Felix?

FELIX

Twenty-three.

IRENE

Oh! (Pause) But when I saw you four years ago as a volunteer, I thought at once you would stay in the service.—Do you remember, Julian, I told you so at the time?

JULIAN

Yes....

FELIX

That must have been in the summer, the last time you called on us.

IRENE

I think so....

FELIX

Many things have changed since then.

IRENE

Indeed! Those were still happy days.—Don't you think so, Julian? For we haven't met either since we spent those beautiful summer evenings in the garden of the Wegrats.

JULIAN (nods assent)

IRENE (stands again looking now at Julian and now at Felix; brief pause) Oh, but now it's high time for me to be gone.—Good-by. Remember me at home, Lieutenant.—Good-by, Julian. (She goes out, accompanied to the door by Julian)

FELIX

Haven't you made some changes here?

JULIAN

Not to my knowledge. And how could you know anyhow? You have only been here two or three times.

FELIX

Yes. But the last time at one of the most important moments in my life. I came here to get your advice.

JULIAN

Well, everything has turned out in accordance with your wish. Even your father has resigned himself to it.

FELIX

Yes, he has resigned himself. Of course, he would have preferred to see me continue my technical studies. But now he has seen that it is quite possible to lead a sensible life in uniform too—without any debts or duels. In fact, my life is almost too smooth. However, there is at least more to anticipate for one of us than for most people. And that's always something.

JULIAN

And how are things at home?

FELIX

At home.... Really, it's almost as if that word had lost its meaning.

JULIAN

Has your father resumed his duties again?

FELIX

Of course. Two days later he was back in his studio. He is wonderful. But I can't quite understand it.... Am I disturbing you, Mr. Fichtner? You were putting your papers in order, I think.

JULIAN

Oh, there's no hurry about that. They're easily put in order. Most of them I burn.

FELIX

Why?

JULIAN

It's more sensible, don't you think, to destroy things one hardly cares to look at any more?

FELIX

But doesn't it make you rather sad to clean out your past like that?

JULIAN

Sad?... No, it's entirely too natural a process for that.

FELIX

I can't see it that way. Look here. To burn a letter, or a picture, or something of that kind, immediately after you have got it—that seems quite natural to me. But something at all worthy of being kept as a remembrance of some poignant joy or equally poignant sorrow would seem incapable of ever losing its significance again. And especially in the case of a life like yours, that has been so rich and so active.... It would seem to me that at times you must feel something like—awe in the face of your own past.

JULIAN

Where do you get such thoughts—you, who are so young?

FELIX

They just came into my head this minute.

JULIAN

You are not so very much mistaken, perhaps. But there is something else besides, that makes me want to clean house. I am about to become homeless, so to speak.

FELIX

Why?

JULIAN

I'm giving up my rooms here, and don't know yet what my next step will be. And so I think it's more pleasant to let these things come to a decent end rather than to put them in a box and leave them to molder away in a cellar.

FELIX

But don't you feel sorry about a lot of it?

JULIAN

Oh, I don't know.

FELIX

And then you must have mementoes that mean something to other people besides yourself. Sketches of all kinds, for instance, which I think you have saved to some extent.

JULIAN

Are you thinking of those little things I showed you in Salzburg?

FELIX

Yes, of those too, of course.

JULIAN

They are still wrapped up. Would you like to have them?

FELIX

Indeed, I should feel very thankful. They seemed to have a particular charm for me. (Pause) But there's something else I wanted to ask of you. A great favor. If you will let me....

JULIAN

Tell me, please.

FELIX

I thought you might still have left a picture of my mother as a young girl. A small picture in water colors painted by yourself.

JULIAN

Yes, I did paint such a picture.

FELIX

And you have still got it?

JULIAN

I guess it can be found.

FELIX

I should like to see it.

JULIAN

Did your mother remember this picture...?

FELIX

Yes, she mentioned it to me the last evening I ever saw her—the evening before she died. At the time I didn't imagine, of course, that the end was so near—and I don't think she could guess it either. To-day it seems rather peculiar to me that, on that very evening, she had to talk so much of days long gone by.

JULIAN

And of this little picture, too?

FELIX

It's a very good one, I understand.

JULIAN (as if trying to remember)

Where did I put it? Wait now.... (He goes to a book case, the lower part of which has solid doors; these he opens, disclosing several shelves piled with portfolios) I painted it in the country—in the little house where your grandparents used to live.

FELIX

I know.

JULIAN

You can hardly recall the old people, I suppose?

FELIX

Very vaguely. They were quite humble people, were they not?

JULIAN

Yes. (He has taken a big portfolio from one of the shelves) It ought to be in this portfolio. (He puts it on the writing desk and opens it; then he sits down in front of it)

FELIX (stands behind him, looking over his shoulder)

JULIAN

Here is the house in which they lived—your grandparents and your mother. (He goes through the sketches, one by one) And here is a view of the valley seen from the cemetery.

FELIX

In Summer....

JULIAN

Yes.—And here is the little inn at which your father and I used to stop.... And here.... (He looks in silence at the sketch; both remain silent for a long while)

FELIX (picking up the sketch)

How old was my mother at the time?

JULIAN (who remains seated)

Eighteen.

FELIX (going a few steps away and leaning against the bookcase in order to get better light on the picture)

A year before she was married, then.

JULIAN

It was done that very year. (Pause)

FELIX

What a strange look that meets me out of those eyes.... There's a smile on her lips.... It's almost as if she were talking to me....

JULIAN

What was it your mother told you—that last evening?

FELIX

Not very much. But I feel as if I knew more than she had told me. What a queer thought it is, that as she is now looking at me out of this picture, so she must have been looking at you once. It seems as if there was a certain timidity in that look. Something like fear almost.... In such a way you look at people out of another world, for which you long, and of which you are afraid nevertheless.

JULIAN

At that time your mother had rarely been outside the village.

FELIX

She must have been different from all other women you have met, wasn't she?—Why don't you say anything? I am not one of those men who cannot understand—who won't understand that their mothers and sisters are women after all. I can easily understand that it must have been a dangerous time for her—and for somebody else as well. (Very simply) You must have loved my mother very much?

JULIAN

You have a curious way of asking questions.—Yes, I did love her.

FELIX

And those moments must have been very happy ones, when you sat in that little garden with its overgrown fence, holding this canvas on your knees, and out there on the bright meadow, among all those red and white flowers, stood this young girl with anxiously smiling eyes, holding her straw hat in one hand.

JULIAN

Your mother talked of those moments that last evening?

FELIX

Yes.—It is childish perhaps, but since then it has seemed impossible to me that any other human being could ever have meant so much to you as this one?

JULIAN (more and more deeply moved, but speaking very quietly) I shall not answer you.—In the end I should instinctively be tempted to make myself appear better than I am. You know very well how I have lived my life—that it has not followed a regulated and direct course like the lives of most other people. I suppose that the gift of bestowing happiness of the kind that lasts, or of accepting it, has never been mine.

FELIX

That's what I feel. It is what I have always felt. Often with something like regret—or sorrow almost. But just people like you, who are destined by their very nature to have many and varied experiences—just such people should, I think, cling more faithfully and more gratefully to memories of a tender, peaceful sort, like this—rather than to more passionate and saddening memories.—Am I not right?

JULIAN

Maybe you are.

FELIX

My mother had never before mentioned this picture to me. Isn't it strange?... That last night she did it for the first time.—We were left alone on the veranda. The rest had already bid me good-by.... And all of a sudden she began to talk about those summer days of long, long ago. Her words had an undercurrent of meanings which she probably did not realize. I believe that her own youth, which she had almost ceased to understand, was unconsciously taking mine into its confidence. It moved me more deeply than I can tell you.—Much as she cared for me, she had never before talked to me like that. And I believe that she had never been quite so dear to me as in those last moments.—And when finally I had to leave, I felt that she had still much more to tell me.—Now you'll understand why I had such a longing to see this picture.—I have almost the feeling that it might go on talking to me as my mother would have done—if I had only dared to ask her one more question!

JULIAN

Ask it now.... Do ask it, Felix.

FELIX (who becomes aware of the emotion betrayed in the voice of Julian, looks up from the picture)

JULIAN

I believe that it can still tell you a great many things.

FELIX

What is the matter?

JULIAN

Do you want to keep that picture?

FELIX

Why...?

JULIAN

Well ... take it. I don't give it to you. As soon as I have settled down again, I shall want it back. But you shall have a look at it whenever you want. And I hope matters will be so arranged that you won't have far to go either.

FELIX (with his eyes on the picture)

It grows more alive every second.... And that look was directed at you.... That look...? Can it be possible that I read it right?

JULIAN

Mothers have their adventures, too, like other women.

FELIX

Yes, indeed, I believe it has nothing more to hide from me.

[He puts down the picture. Then a long pause follows. At last Felix puts on his coat.

JULIAN

Are you not going to take it along?

FELIX

Not just now. It belongs to you much more than I could guess.

JULIAN

And to you ...

FELIX

No, I don't want it until this new thing has become fully revealed to me. (He looks Julian firmly in the eyes) I don't quite know where I am. In reality, of course, there has been no change whatever. None—except that I know now what I ...

JULIAN

Felix!

FELIX

No, that was something I could never have guessed. (Looks long at Julian with an expression of mingled tenderness and curiosity) Farewell.

JULIAN

Are you going?

FELIX

I need badly to be by myself for a while.—Until to-morrow.

JULIAN

Yes, and no longer, Felix. To-morrow I shall come to your—I'll call on you, Felix.

FELIX

I shall be waiting for you. (He goes out)

JULIAN (stands quite still for a moment; then he goes to the writing desk and stops beside it, lost in contemplation of the picture)

CURTAIN



THE THIRD ACT

A room at the Wegrats' adjoining the veranda. The outlook is, of course, determined by the location.

JOHANNA (is seated on a stool with her hands folded in her lap)

SALA (enters)

Good morning, Johanna.

JOHANNA (rises, goes to meet him, and draws him close to herself) Are you coming for the last time?

SALA

For the last time? What an idea! There has not been the slightest change in our arrangements. To-day is the seventh of October, and the ship will leave Genoa on the twenty-sixth of November.

JOHANNA

Some day you will suddenly have disappeared. And I shall be standing by the garden door, and nobody will come to open it.

SALA

But that sort of thing is not needed between us two.

JOHANNA

No, indeed—bear that in mind.

FELIX (enters)

Oh, is that you, Mr. von Sala? (They shake hands) Well, how far have you got with your preparations?

SALA

There are hardly any needed. I shall pack my trunk, pull down the shades, lock the doors—and be off for the mysteries of far-away. There is something I want to ask you apropos of that, Felix. Would you care to come along?

FELIX (startled)

If I care.... Are you asking seriously, Mr. von Sala?

SALA

There is just so much seriousness in my question as you wish to put into it.

FELIX

What does it mean anyhow? If I want to go along to Asia? What use could they have for me in a venture of that kind?

SALA

Oh, that's pretty plain.

FELIX

Is the expedition not going to be one of purely scientific character?

SALA

Yes, that's what it is meant for, I suppose. But it is quite possible that various things may happen that would make the presence of some young men like you very desirable.

FELIX

Men like me...?

SALA

When Rolston went out there seven years ago, a lot of things happened which were not provided for in the original program. And they had to fight a regular battle, on a small scale, in the Kara-Kum district, not far from the river Amu-Daria.

REUMANN (who has entered while Sala was speaking)

To those who had to stay behind forever the scale of your battle was probably large enough. (All greet each other and shake hands without letting the conversation be interrupted)

SALA

In that respect you are probably right, Doctor.

FELIX

Pardon me, Mr. von Sala, but does this come from you alone? Is it just a sudden notion—or something more?

SALA

I have received no direct request from anybody to speak of this. But after the conference which took place at the Foreign Department yesterday, and which I attended, I feel entitled to add a little more.—Oh, no secrets at all!—You have probably read, Felix, that a member of the General Staff as well as several artillery and engineering officers are being sent with us in what might be termed a semi-official capacity. On account of the latest news from Asia—which, however, does not seem very reliable to me, as it has come by way of England—it has been decided to secure the additional cooperation of some young line officers, and all arrangements of this kind must be left to private initiative.

FELIX

And there might be a possibility for me...?

SALA

Will you permit me to speak to Count Ronsky?

FELIX

Have you already mentioned my name to him?

SALA

I have received permission to ask whether you could be prepared to board the ship with the rest at Genoa on the twenty-sixth of November.

REUMANN

Do you mean to leave Vienna as soon as that?

SALA (sarcastically)

Yes. Why did you look at me like that, Doctor? That glance of yours was a little indiscreet.

REUMANN

In what respect?

SALA

It seemed to say: Yes, you can start, of course, but if you ever come back, that's more than doubtful.

REUMANN

Let me tell you, Mr. von Sala, that in the face of a venture like yours one might well express such doubts quite openly. But are you at all interested in whether you get back or not, Mr. von Sala? I don't suppose you belong to the kind of people who care to put their affairs in order.

SALA

No, indeed. Especially not as, in cases of that kind, it is generally the affairs of others which give you needless trouble. If I were to be interested at all in my own chances, it would be for much more selfish reasons.

JOHANNA

What reasons?

SALA

I don't want to be cheated out of the consciousness that certain moments are my final ones.

REUMANN

There are not many people who share your attitude in that respect.

SALA

At any rate, Doctor, you would have to tell me the absolute truth if I ever asked you for it. I hold that one has the right to drain one's own life to the last drop, with all the horrors and delights that may lie hidden at the bottom of it. Just as it is our evident duty every day to commit every good deed and every rascality lying within our capacity.... No, I won't let you rob me of my death moments by any kind of hocus-pocus. It would imply a small-minded attitude, worthy neither of yourself nor of me.—Well, Felix, the twenty-sixth of November then! That's still seven weeks off. In regard to any formalities that may be required, you need have no worry at all.

FELIX

How long a time have I got to make up my mind?

SALA

There's no reason to be precipitate. When does your furlough end?

FELIX

To-morrow night.

SALA

Of course, you are going to talk it over with your father?

FELIX

With my father.... Yes, of course.—At any rate I'll bring you the answer early to-morrow morning, Mr. von Sala.

SALA

Fine. It would please me very much. But you must bear in mind: it will be no picnic. I expect to see you soon, then. Good-by, Miss Johanna. Farewell, Doctor.

[He goes out. A brief pause. Those left behind show signs of emotion.

JOHANNA (rising)

I'm going to my room. Good-by, Doctor. (She goes out)

REUMANN

Have you made up your mind, Felix?

FELIX

Almost.

REUMANN

You'll come across much that is new to you.

FELIX

And my own self among it, I hope—which would be about time.... (Quoting) "The mysteries of far-away ..." And will it really come true? Oh, the thrill of it!

REUMANN

And yet you ask time to consider?

FELIX

I hardly know why. And yet ... The thought of leaving people behind and perhaps never seeing them again—and certainly not as they were when you left them; the thought, too, that perhaps your going will hurt them ...

REUMANN

If nothing else makes you hesitate, then every moment of uncertainty is wasted. Nothing is more sure to estrange you from those dear to you than the knowledge that duty condemns you to stay near them. You must seize this unique opportunity. You must go to see Genoa, Asia Minor, Thibet, Bactria.... Oh, it must be splendid! And my best wishes will go with you. (He gives his hand to Felix)

FELIX

Thank you. But there will be plenty of time for wishes of that kind. Whatever may be decided, we shall meet more than once before I leave.

REUMANN

I hope so. Oh, of course!

FELIX (looking hard at him)

Doctor ... it seems to me there was a final farewell in that pressure of your hand.

REUMANN (with a smile)

Is it ever possible to tell whether you will meet again?

FELIX

Tell me, Doctor—did Mr. von Sala interpret your glance correctly?

REUMANN

That has nothing to do with your case anyhow.

FELIX

Will he not be able to go with us?

REUMANN (with hesitation)

That's very hard to predict.

FELIX

You have never learned to lie, Doctor.

REUMANN

As the matter stands now, I think you can bring it to a successful conclusion without further assistance.

FELIX

Mr. von Sala called on you a few days ago?

REUMANN

Yes, it was only a while ago. (Pause) Well, you can see for yourself that he is not well, can't you?—So God be with you, Felix.

FELIX

Will you continue to befriend this house when I am gone?

REUMANN

Why do you ask questions like that, Felix?

FELIX

You don't mean to come here again?—But why?

REUMANN

I assure you ...

FELIX

I understand ...

REUMANN (embarrassed)

What can there be to understand...?

FELIX

My dear Doctor ... I know now ... why you don't want to come to this house any more.... It's another case of somebody else breaking his neck.... Dear friend ...

REUMANN

Good luck to you ... Felix ...

FELIX

And if anybody should call you back ...

REUMANN

Nobody will.... But if I should be needed, I can always be found ...

JOHANNA (comes into the room again)

REUMANN

Good-by ... Good-by, Miss Johanna ...

JOHANNA

Are you going already, Doctor?

REUMANN

Yes.... Give my regards to your father. Good-by.... (He shakes her hand)

JOHANNA (calmly)

Did he tell you that Sala is doomed?

FELIX (hesitates about what to say)

JOHANNA

I knew it. (With an odd gesture of deprecation as Felix wants to say something) And you are going—with or without him?

FELIX

Yes. (Pause) There won't be much doing in this place after this.

JOHANNA (remains unmoved)

FELIX

And how are you going to live, Johanna?... I mean, how are the two of you going to live—you and father?

JOHANNA (gives him a look as if his question surprised her)

FELIX

He is going to be lonely. I think he would feel very grateful if you took a little more interest in him—if you went for a walk for him when there is time for it. And you, too ...

JOHANNA (brusquely)

How could that help me or him? What can he be to me or I to him? I was not made to assist people in days of trial. I can't help it, but that's the way I am. I seem to be stirred by a sort of hostility against people who appeal to my pity. I felt it like that all the time mother was sick.

FELIX

No, you were not made for that.... But what were you made for then?

JOHANNA (shrugs her shoulders and sits down as before, with hands folded in her lap and her eyes staring straight ahead)

FELIX

Johanna, why do you never talk to me any more as you used to? Have you, then, nothing to tell me? Don't you remember how we used to tell each other everything?

JOHANNA

That was long ago. We were children then.

FELIX

Why can't you talk to me any longer as you did then? Have you forgotten how well we two used to understand each other? How we used to confide all our secrets to each other? What good chums we used to be?... How we wanted to go out into the wide world together?

JOHANNA

Into the wide world.... Oh, yes, I remember. But there is nothing left now of all those words of wonder and romance.

FELIX

Perhaps it depends on ourselves only.

JOHANNA

No, those words have no longer the same meaning as before.

FELIX

What do you mean?

JOHANNA

Into the wide world ...

FELIX

What is the matter, Johanna?

JOHANNA

Once, when we were in the museum together, I saw a picture of which I often think. It has a meadow with knights and ladies in it—and a forest, a vineyard, an inn, and young men and women dancing, and a big city with churches and towers and bridges. And soldiers are marching across the bridges, and a ship is gliding down the river. And farther back there is a hill, and on that hill a castle, and lofty mountains in the extreme distance. And clouds are floating above the mountains, and there is mist on the meadow, and a flood of sunlight is pouring down on the city, and a storm is raging over the castle, and there is ice and snow on the mountains.—And when anybody spoke of "the wide world," or I read that term anywhere, I used always to think of that picture. And it used to be the same with so many other big-sounding words. Fear was a tiger with cavernous mouth—love was a page with long light curls kneeling at the feet of a lady—death was a beautiful young man with black wings and a sword in his hand—and fame was blaring bugles, men with bent backs, and a road strewn with flowers. In those days it was possible to talk of all sorts of things, Felix. But to-day everything has a different look—fame, and death, and love, and the wide world.

FELIX (hesitatingly)

I feel a little scared on your behalf, Johanna.

JOHANNA

Why, Felix?

FELIX

Johanna!—I wish you wouldn't do anything to worry father.

JOHANNA

Does that depend on me alone?

FELIX

I know in what direction your dreams are going, Johanna.—What is to come out of that?

JOHANNA

Is it necessary that something comes out of everything?—I think, Felix, that many people are destined to mean nothing to each other but a common memory.

FELIX

You have said it yourself, Johanna—that you are not made to see other people suffer.

JOHANNA (shrinks slightly at those words)

FELIX

Suffer ... and ...

JULIAN (enters)

How are you? (He shakes hands with Felix)

JOHANNA (who has risen)

Mr. Fichtner. (She holds out her hand to him)

JULIAN

I could hardly recognize you, Johanna. You have grown into a young lady now.—Has your father not come home yet?

JOHANNA

He hasn't gone out yet. He has nothing to do at the Academy until twelve.

JULIAN

I suppose he's in his studio?

JOHANNA

I'll call him.

[Julian looks around. As Johanna is about to leave the room, Wegrat enters, carrying his hat and stick.

WEGRAT (giving his hand to Julian)

I'm delighted, my dear fellow.

JULIAN

I heard of it only after my arrival here yesterday—through Sala. I don't need to tell you ...

WEGRAT

Thank you very much for your sympathy. I thank you with all my heart.—But sit down, please.

JULIAN

You were going out?

WEGRAT

Oh, it's no hurry. I have nothing to do in the Academy until twelve. Johanna, will you please get a carriage for me, just to be on the safe side?

[Johanna goes out. Wegrat seats himself, as does Julian. Felix stands leaning against the glazed oven.

WEGRAT

Well, you stayed away quite a while this time.

JULIAN

More than two years.

WEGRAT

If you had only got here ten days earlier, you could have had a last look at her. It came so very suddenly—although it wasn't unexpected.

JULIAN

So I have heard.

WEGRAT

And now you are going to stay right here, I suppose?

JULIAN

A little while. How long I am not yet able to tell.

WEGRAT

Of course not. The making of schedules has never been your line.

JULIAN

No, I have a certain disinclination for that kind of thing. (Pause)

WEGRAT

Oh, mercy, my dear fellow ... how often have I not been thinking of you recently!

JULIAN

And I....

WEGRAT

No, you haven't had much chance for it.... But I.... As I enter the building where I now hold office and authority, I remember often how we two young chaps used to sit side by side in the model class, full of a thousand plans and hopes.

JULIAN

Why do you say that in such a melancholy tone? A lot of those things have come true, haven't they?

WEGRAT

Some—yes.... And yet one can't help wanting to be young again, even at the risk of similar sorrows and struggles....

JULIAN

And even at the risk of also having to live through a lot of nice things over again.

WEGRAT

Indeed, those are the hardest things to bear, once they have turned into memories.—You have been in Italy again?

JULIAN

Yes, in Italy too.

WEGRAT

It's a long time now since I was there. Since we made that walk together through the Ampezzo Valley,[5] with the pack on our backs—to Pieve, and then right on to Venice. Can you remember? The sun has never again shone as brightly as it did then.

[5] One of the main routes through the Dolomites, leading from Southern Tirol into Italy. It is in part identical with the route outlined by Albert in "Intermezzo," but parts from it at Cortina to run straight south.

JULIAN

That must have been almost thirty years ago.

WEGRAT

No, not quite. You were already pretty well known at the time. You had just finished your splendid picture of Irene Herms. It was the year before I married.

JULIAN

Yes, yes. (Pause)

WEGRAT

Do you still recall the summer morning when you went with me to Kirchau for the first time?

JULIAN

Of course.

WEGRAT

How the light buggy carried us through the wide, sun-steeped valley? And do you remember the little garden at Huegelhang, where you became acquainted with Gabrielle and her parents?

FELIX (with suppressed emotion)

Father, is the house in which mother used to live still standing?

WEGRAT

No, it's gone long ago. They have built a villa on the spot. Five or six years ago, you know, we went there for the last time to visit the graves of your grandparents. Everything has been changed, except the cemetery.... (To Julian) Can you still remember that cool, cloudy afternoon, Julian, when we sat on the lower wall of the cemetery and had such a remarkable talk about the future?

JULIAN

I remember the day very clearly. But I have entirely forgotten what we were talking about.

WEGRAT

Just what we said has passed out of my mind, too, but I can still remember what an extraordinary talk it was.... In some way the world seemed to open up more widely. And I felt something like envy toward you, as I often did in those days. There rose within me a feeling that I, too, could do anything—if I only wanted. There was so much to be seen and experienced—and the flow of life was irresistible. Nothing would be needed but a little more nerve, a little more self-assurance, and then to plunge in. ... Yes, that was what I felt while you were talking. ... And then Gabrielle came toward us along the narrow road from the village, between the acacias. She carried her straw hat in her hand, and she nodded to me. And all my dreams of the future centered in her after that, and once more the whole world seemed fitted into a frame, and yet it was big and beautiful enough. ... Why does the color all of a sudden come back into those things? It was practically forgotten, all of it, and now, when she is dead, it comes to life again with a glow that almost scares me. ... Oh, it were better not to think of it at all. What's the use? What's the use? (Pause; he goes to one of the windows)

JULIAN (struggling to overcome his embarrassment) It is both wise and brave of you to resume your regular activities so promptly.

WEGRAT

Oh, once you have made up your mind to go on living. ... There is nothing but work that can help you through this sense of being alone—of being left alone.

JULIAN

It seems to me that your grief makes you a little unjust toward—much that is still yours.

WEGRAT

Unjust...? Oh, I didn't mean to. I hope you don't feel hurt, children ...! Felix, you understand me fully, don't you? There is so much, from the very beginning, that draws—that lures—that tears the young ones away from us. We have to struggle to keep our children almost from the very moment they arrive—and the struggle is a pretty hopeless one at that. But that's the way of life: they cannot possibly belong to us. And as far as other people are concerned.... Even our friends come into our lives only as guests who rise from the table when they have eaten, and walk out. Like us, they have their own streets, their own affairs. And it's quite natural it should be so.... Which doesn't prevent us from feeling pleased, Julian—sincerely pleased, when one of them finds his way back to us. Especially if it be one on whom we have put great store throughout life. You may be sure of that, Julian. (They shake hands) And as long as you remain in Vienna, I shall see you here quite often, I trust. It will give me genuine pleasure.

JULIAN

I'll be sure to come.

MAID (enters)

The carriage is here, Professor. (She goes out)

WEGRAT

I'm coming. (To Julian) You must have a lot to tell me. You were as good as lost. You understand it will interest me to hear all you have done—and still more what you intend to do. Felix told us the other day about some very interesting sketches you had showed him.

JULIAN

I'll go with you, if you care to have me.

WEGRAT

Thanks. But it would be still nicer of you to stay right here and take dinner with us.

JULIAN

Well ...

WEGRAT

I'll be through very quickly. To-day I have nothing but a few business matters to dispose of—nothing but signing a few documents. I'll be back in three-quarters of an hour. In the meantime the children will keep you company as they used to in the old days. ... Won't you, children?—So you're staying, are you not? Good-by for a little while then. (He goes out)

[Long pause.

FELIX

Why didn't you go with him?

JULIAN

Your mother was without blame. If any there be, it falls on me alone. I'll tell you all about it.

FELIX (nods)

JULIAN

It had been arranged that we were to go away together. Everything was ready. We meant to leave the place secretly because, quite naturally, your mother shrank from any kind of statement or explanation. Our intention was to write and explain after we had been gone a few days. The hour of our start had already been settled. He ... who later became her husband, had just gone to Vienna for a couple of days in order to get certain documents. The wedding was to take place in a week. (Pause) Our plans were all made. We had agreed on everything. The carriage that was to pick us up a little ways off had already been hired. In the evening we bade each other good-night, fully convinced that we should meet next morning, never to part again.—It turned out differently.—You mustn't keep in mind that it was your mother. You must listen to me as if my story dealt with perfect strangers. ... Then you can understand everything.

FELIX

I am listening.

JULIAN

I had come to Kirchau in June, one beautiful Summer morning—with him.... You know about that, don't you? I meant to stay only a few days. But I stayed on and on. More than once I tried to get away while it was still time. But I stayed. (Smiling) And with fated inevitability we slipped into sin, happiness, doom, betrayal—and dreams. Yes, indeed, there was more of those than of anything else. And after that last farewell, meant to be for a night only—as I got back to the little inn and started to make things ready for our journey—only then did I for the first time become really conscious of what had happened and was about to happen. Actually, it was almost as if I had just waked up. Only then, in the stillness of that night, as I was standing at the open window, did it grow clear to me that next morning an hour would come by which my whole future must be determined. And then I began to feel ... as if faint shiverings had been streaming down my body. Below me I could see the stretch of road along which I had just come. It ran on and on through the country, climbing the hills that cut off the view, and losing itself in the open, the limitless.... It led to thousands of unknown and invisible roads, all of which at that moment remained at my disposal. It seemed to me as if my future, radiant with glory and adventure, lay waiting for me behind those hills—but for me alone. Life was mine—but only this one life. And in order to seize it and enjoy it fully—in order to live it as it had been shaped for me by fate—I needed the carelessness and freedom I had enjoyed until then. And I marveled almost at my own readiness to give away the recklessness of my youth and the fullness of my existence.... And to what purpose?—For the sake of a passion which, after all, despite its ardor and its transports, had begun like many others, and would be destined to end like all of them.

FELIX

Destined to end...? Must come to an end?

JULIAN

Yes. Must. The moment I foresaw the end, I had in a measure reached it. To wait for something that must come, means to go through it a thousand times—to go through it helplessly and needlessly and resentfully. This I felt acutely at that moment. And it frightened me. At the same time I felt clearly that I was about to act like a brute and a traitor toward a human being who had given herself to me in full confidence.—But everything seemed more desirable—not only for me, but for her also—than a slow, miserable, unworthy decline. And all my scruples were submerged in a monstrous longing to go on with my life as before, without duties or ties. There wasn't much time left for consideration. And I was glad of it. I had made up my mind. I didn't wait for the morning. Before the stars had set, I was off.

FELIX

You ran away....

JULIAN

Call it anything you please.—Yes, it was a flight, just as good and just as bad, just as precipitate and just as cowardly as any other—with all the horrors of being pursued and all the joys of escaping. I am hiding nothing from you, Felix. You are still young, and it is even possible that you may understand it better than I can understand it myself to-day. Nothing pulled me back. No remorse stirred within me. The sense of being free filled me with intoxication.... At the end of the first day I was already far away—much farther than any number of milestones could indicate. On that first day her image began to fade away already—the image of her who had waked up to meet painful disillusionment, or worse maybe. The ring of her voice was passing out of my memory.... She was becoming a shadow like others that had been left floating much farther behind me in the past.

FELIX

Oh, it isn't true! So quickly could she not be forgotten. So remorselessly could you not go out in the world. All this is meant as a sort of expiation. You make yourself appear what you are not.

JULIAN

I am not telling you these things to accuse or defend myself. I am simply telling you the truth. And you must hear it. It was your mother, and I am the man who deserted her. And there is something more I am compelled to tell you. On the very time that followed my flight I must look back as the brightest and richest of any I have ever experienced. Never before or after have I reveled to such an extent in the splendid consciousness of my youth and my freedom from restraint. Never have I been so wholly master of my gifts and of my life.... Never have I been a happier man than I was at that very time.

FELIX (calmly)

And if she had killed herself?

JULIAN

I believe I should have thought myself worth it—in those days.

FELIX

And so you were, perhaps, at that time.—And she thought of doing it, I am sure. She wanted to put an end to the lies and the qualms, just as hundreds of thousands of girls have done before. But millions fail to do it, and they are the most sensible ones. And I am sure she also thought of telling the truth to him she took to husband. But, of course, the way through life is easier when you don't have to carry a burden of reproach or, what is worse, of forgiveness.

JULIAN

And if she had spoken....

FELIX

Oh, I understand why she didn't. It had been of no use to anybody. And so she kept silent: silent when she got back from the wedding—silent when her child was born—silent when, ten years later, the lover came to her husband's house again—silent to the very last.... Fates of that kind are to be found everywhere, and it isn't even necessary to be—depraved, in order to suffer them or invoke them.

JULIAN

And there are mighty few whom it behooves to judge—or to condemn.

FELIX

I don't presume to do so. And it doesn't even occur to me that I am now to behold deceivers and deceived where, a few hours ago, I could only see people who were dear to me and whose relationships to each other were perfectly pure. And it is absolutely impossible for me to feel myself another man than I have deemed myself until to-day. There is no power in all this truth.... A vivid dream would be more compelling than this story out of bygone days, which you have just told me. Nothing has changed—nothing whatever. The thought of my mother is as sacred to me as ever. And the man in whose house I was born and raised, who surrounded my childhood and youth with care tenderness, and whom my mother—loved.... He means just as much to me now as he ever meant—and perhaps a little more.

JULIAN

And yet, Felix, however powerless this truth may seem to you—there is one thing you can take hold of in this moment of doubt: it was as my son your mother gave birth to you....

FELIX

At a time when you had run away from her.

JULIAN

And as my son she brought you up.

FELIX

In hatred of you.

JULIAN

At first. Later in forgiveness, and finally—don't forget it—in friendship toward me.... And what was in her mind that last night?—Of what did she talk to you?—Of those days when she experienced the greatest happiness that can fall to the share of any woman.

FELIX

As well as the greatest misery.

JULIAN

Do you think it was mere chance which brought those very days back to her mind that last evening?... Don't you think she knew that you would go to me and ask for that picture?... And do you think your wish to see it could have any other meaning than of a final greeting to me from your mother?... Can't you understand that, Felix?... And in this moment—don't try to resist—you have it before your eyes—that picture you held in your hand yesterday: and your mother is looking at you.—And the glance resting on you, Felix, is the same one that rested on me that passionate and sacred day when she fell into my arms and you were conceived.—And whatever you may feel of doubt or confusion, the truth has now been revealed to you once for all. Thus your mother willed it, and it is no longer possible for you to forget that you are my son.

FELIX

Your son.... That's nothing but a word. And it's cried in a desert.—Although I am looking at you now, and although I know that I am your son, I can't grasp it.

JULIAN

Felix...!

FELIX

Since I learned of this, you have become a stranger to me. (He turns away)

CURTAIN



THE FOURTH ACT

The garden belonging to Mr. von Sala's house. At the left is seen the white, one-storied building, fronted by a broad terrace, from which six stone steps lead down into the garden. A wide door with panes of glass leads from the terrace into the drawing-room. A small pool appears in the foreground, surrounded by a semi-circle of young trees. From that spot an avenue of trees runs diagonally across the stage toward the right. At the opening of the avenue, near the pool, stand two columns on which are placed the marble busts of two Roman emperors. A semi-circular stone seat with back support stands under the trees to the right of the pool. Farther back glimpses of the glittering fence are caught through the scanty leafage. Back of the fence, the woods on a gently rising hillside are turning red. The autumnal sky is pale blue. Everything is quiet. The stage remains empty for a few moments.

Sala and Johanna enter by way of the terrace. She is in black. He has on a gray suit and carries a dark overcoat across his shoulders. They descend the steps slowly.

SALA

I think you'll find it rather cool. (He goes back into the room, picks up a cape lying there, and puts it around Johanna's shoulders; little by little they reach the garden)

JOHANNA

Do you know what I imagine?... That this day is our own—that it belongs to us alone. We have summoned it, and if we wanted, we could make it stay.... All other people live only as guests in the world to-day. Isn't that so?... The reason is, I suppose, that once I heard you speak of this day.

SALA

Of this...?

JOHANNA

Yes—while mother was still living.... And now it has really come. The leaves are red. The golden mist is lying over the woods. The sky is pale and remote—and the day is even more beautiful, and sadder, than I could ever have imagined. And I am spending it in your garden, and your pool is my mirror. (She stands looking down into the pool) And yet we can no more make it stay, this golden day, than the water here can hold my image after I have gone away.

SALA

It seems strange that this clear, mild air should be tinged with a suggestion of winter and snow.

JOHANNA

Why should it trouble you? When that suggestion has become reality here, you are already in the midst of another Spring.

SALA

What do you mean by that?

JOHANNA

Oh, I suppose that where you go they have no winter like ours.

SALA (pensively)

No, not like ours. (Pause) And you?

JOHANNA

I...?

SALA

What are you going to do, I mean, when I am gone?

JOHANNA

When you are gone...? (She looks at him, and he stands staring into the distance) Haven't you gone long ago? And at bottom, are you not far away from me even now?

SALA

What are you saying? I am here with you.... What are you going to do, Johanna?

JOHANNA

I have already told you. Go away—just like you.

SALA (shakes his head)

JOHANNA

As soon as possible. I have still the courage left. Who knows what may become of me later, if I stay here alone.

SALA

As long as you are young, all doors stand open, and the world begins outside every one of them.

JOHANNA

But the world is wide and the sky infinite only as long as you are not clinging to anybody. And for that reason I want to go away.

SALA

Away—that's so easily said. But preparations are needed for that purpose, and some sort of a scheme. You use the word as if you merely had to put on wings and fly off into the distance.

JOHANNA

To be determined is—the same as having wings.

SALA

Are you not at all afraid, Johanna?

JOHANNA

A longing free from fear would be too cheap to be worth while.

SALA

Where will it lead you?

JOHANNA

I shall find my way.

SALA

You can choose your way, but not the people that you meet.

JOHANNA

Do you think me ignorant of the fact that I cannot expect only beautiful experiences? What is ugly and mean must also be waiting for me.

SALA

And how are you going to stand it?—Will you be able to stand it at all?

JOHANNA

Of course, I am not going to tell the truth always as I have done to you. I shall have to lie—and I think of it with pleasure. I shall not always be in good spirits, nor always sensible. I shall make mistakes and suffer. That's the way it has to be, I suppose.

SALA

Of all this you are aware in advance, and yet...?

JOHANNA

Yes.

SALA

And why?... Why are you going away, Johanna?

JOHANNA

Why am I going away?... I want a time to come when I must shudder at myself. Shudder as deeply as you can only when nothing has been left untried. Just as you have had to do when you looked back upon your life. Or have you not?

SALA

Oh, many times. But just in such moments of shuddering there is nothing left behind at all—everything is once more present. And the present is the past. (He sits down on the stone seat)

JOHANNA

What do you mean by that?

SALA (covers his eyes with his hand and sits silent)

JOHANNA

What is the matter? Where are you anyhow?

[A light wind stirs the leaves and makes many of them drop to the ground.

SALA

I am a child, riding my pony across the fields. My father is behind and calls to me. At that window waits my mother. She has thrown a gray satin shawl over her dark hair and is waving her hand at me.... And I am a young lieutenant in maneuvers, standing on a hillock and reporting to my colonel that hostile infantry is ambushed behind that wooded piece of ground, ready to charge, and down below us I can see the midday sun glittering on bayonets and buttons.... And I am lying alone in my boat adrift, looking up into the deep-blue Summer sky, while words of incomprehensible beauty are shaping themselves in my mind—words more beautiful than I have ever been able to put on paper.... And I am resting on a bench in the cool park at the lake of Lugano, with Helen sitting beside me; she holds a book with red cover in her hand; over there by the magnolia, Lillie is playing with the light-haired English boy, and I can hear them prattling and laughing.... And I am walking slowly back and forth with Julian on a bed of rustling leaves, and we are talking of a picture which we saw yesterday. And I see the picture: two old sailors with worn-out faces, who are seated on an overturned skiff, their sad eyes directed toward the boundless sea. And I feel their misery more deeply than the artist who painted them; more deeply than they could have felt it themselves, had they been alive.... All this—all of it is there—if I only close my eyes. It is nearer to me than you, Johanna, when I don't see you and you keep quiet.

JOHANNA (stands looking at him with wistful sympathy)

SALA

The present—what does it mean anyhow? Are we then locked breast to breast with the moment as with a friend whom we embrace—or an enemy who is pressing us? Has not the word that just rings out turned to memory already? Is not the note that starts a melody reduced to memory before the song is ended? Is your coming to this garden anything but a memory, Johanna? Are not your steps across that meadow as much a matter of the past as are the steps of creatures dead these many years?

JOHANNA

No, it mustn't be like that. It makes me sad.

SALA (with a return to present things)

Why?... It shouldn't, Johanna. It is in hours like those we know, that we have lost nothing, and that in reality we cannot lose anything.

JOHANNA

Oh, I wish you had lost and forgotten everything, so that I might be everything to you!

SALA (somewhat astonished)

Johanna....

JOHANNA (passionately)

I love you. (Pause)

SALA

In a few days I shall be gone, Johanna. You know it—you have known it right along.

JOHANNA

I know. Why do you repeat it? Do you think, perhaps, that all at once I may begin to clutch at you like a love-sick thing, dreaming of eternities?—No, that isn't my way—oh, no!... But I want to tell you once at least that I am fond of you. May I not for once?—Do you hear? I love you. And I wish that sometime later on you may hear it just as I am saying it now—at some other moment no less beautiful than this—when we two shall no longer be aware of each other.

SALA

Indeed, Johanna, of one thing you may be sure: that the sound of your voice shall never leave me.—But why should we talk of parting forever? Perhaps we shall meet again sooner or later ... in three years ... or in five.... (With a smile) Then you have become a princess perhaps, and I may be the ruler of some buried city.... Why don't you speak?

JOHANNA (pulls the cape more closely about her)

SALA

Do you feel cold?

JOHANNA

Not at all.—But now I must go.

SALA

Are you in such a hurry?

JOHANNA

It is getting late. I must be back before my father gets home.

SALA

How strange! To-day you are hurrying home, fearful of being too late, lest your father get worried. And in a couple of days....

JOHANNA

Then he will no longer be waiting for me. Farewell, Stephan.

SALA

Until to-morrow, then.

JOHANNA

Yes, until to-morrow.

SALA

You'll come through the garden gate, of course?

JOHANNA

Wasn't that a carriage that stopped before the house?

SALA

The doors are locked. Nobody can get out into the garden.

JOHANNA

Good-by, then.

SALA

Until to-morrow.

JOHANNA

Yes. (She is about to go)

SALA

Listen, Johanna.—If I should say to you now: stay!

JOHANNA

No, I must go now.

SALA

That was not what I meant.

JOHANNA

What then?

SALA

I mean, if I should beg you to stay—for—a long time?

JOHANNA

You have a peculiar way of jesting.

SALA

I am not jesting.

JOHANNA

Do you forget, then, that you—are going away?

SALA

I am not bound in any respect. There is nothing to prevent me from staying at home if I don't feel like going away.

JOHANNA

For my sake?

SALA

I didn't say so. Maybe for my own sake.

JOHANNA

No, you mustn't give it up. You would never forgive me if I took that away from you.

SALA

Oh, you think so? (Watching her closely) And if both of us were to go?

JOHANNA

What?

SALA

If you should risk going along with me? Well, it takes a little courage to do it, of course. But you would probably not be the only woman. The Baroness Golobin is also going along, I hear.

JOHANNA

Are you talking seriously?

SALA

Quite seriously. I ask if you care to go with me on that journey ... as my wife, of course, seeing that we have to consider externals like that, too.

JOHANNA

I should...?

SALA

Why does that move you so deeply?

JOHANNA

With you?—With you...?

SALA

Don't misunderstand me, Johanna. That's no reason why you should be tied to me for all time. When we get back, we can bid each other good-by—without the least ado. It is a very simple matter. For all your dreams cannot be fulfilled by me—I know that very well.... You need not give me an answer at once. Hours like these turn too easily into words that are not true the next day. And I hope I may never hear you speak one word of that kind.

JOHANNA (who has been looking at Sala as if she wanted to drink up every one of his words) No, I am not saying anything—I am not saying anything.

SALA (looking long at her)

You are going to think it over, and you'll let me know to-morrow morning?

JOHANNA

Yes. (She looks long at him)

SALA

What is the matter?

JOHANNA

Nothing.—Until to-morrow. Farewell. (He accompanies her to the garden gate, through which she disappears)

SALA (comes back and stands looking into the pool)

Just as if I wanted to find her image in it.... What could it be that moved her so deeply?... Happiness?... No, it wasn't happiness.... Why did she look at me like that? Why did she seem to shrink? There was something in her glance like a farewell forever. (He makes a sudden movement as of fright) Has it come to that with me?... But how can she know?... Then others must know it too...! (He stands staring into space; then he ascends the terrace slowly and goes into the drawing-room, from which he returns a few moments later accompanied by Julian)

JULIAN

And you want to leave all these splendors so soon?

SALA

They'll be here when I come back, I hope.

JULIAN

I hope you will, for the sake of both of us.

SALA

You say that rather distrustingly....

JULIAN

Well, yes—I am thinking of that remarkable article in the Daily Post.

SALA

Concerning what?

JULIAN

What is going on at the Caspian Sea.

SALA

Oh, are the local papers also taking that up?

JULIAN

The conditions in certain regions through which you have to pass seem really to be extremely dangerous.

SALA

Exaggerations. We have better information than that. According to my opinion there is nothing back of those articles but the petty jealousy of English scientists. What you read had been translated from the Daily News. And it's fully three weeks since it appeared there.—Have you seen Felix, by the way?

JULIAN

He was at my house only last night. And this morning I called on the Wegrats. He wanted to have a look at that picture of his mother which I painted twenty-three years ago.—And one thing and another led to my telling him everything.

SALA

Oh, you did? (Thoughtfully) And how did he take it?

JULIAN

It stirred him rather more than I had thought possible.

SALA

Well, I hope you didn't expect him to fall into your arms as the recovered son does in the play.

JULIAN

No, of course not.—I told him everything, without any attempt at sparing myself. And for that reason he seemed to feel the wrong done to his mother's husband more strongly than anything else. But that won't last very long. He'll soon understand that, in the higher sense, no wrong has been done at all. People of Wegrat's type are not made to hold actual possession of anything—whether it be wives or children. They mean a refuge, a dwelling place—but never a real home. Can you understand what I mean by that? It is their mission to take into their arms creatures who have been worn out or broken to pieces by some kind of passion. But they never guess whence such creatures come. And while it is granted them to attract and befriend, they never understand whither those creatures go. They exist for the purpose of sacrificing themselves unconsciously, and in such sacrifices they find a happiness that might seem a pretty poor one to others.... You are not saying a word?

SALA

I am listening.

JULIAN

And have no reply to make?

SALA

Oh, well—it is possible to grind out scales quite smoothly even when the fiddle has got a crack....

[It is growing darker. Felix appears on the terrace.

SALA

Who is that?

FELIX (on the terrace)

It's me. The servant told me ...

SALA

Oh, Felix! Glad you came.

FELIX (coming down into the garden)

Good evening, Mr. von Sala.—Good evening, Mr. Fichtner.

JULIAN

Good evening, Felix.

SALA

I am delighted to see you.

FELIX

What magnificent old trees!

SALA

Yes, a piece of real woods—all you have to do is to forget the fence.—What brought you anyhow? I didn't expect you until to-morrow morning. Have you really made up your mind already?

JULIAN

Am I in the way?

FELIX

Oh, no. There is nothing secret about it.—I accept your offer, Mr. von Sala, and ask if you would be kind enough to speak to Count Ronsky.

SALA (shaking Felix by the hand)

I am glad of it.... (To Julian) It has to do with our Asiatic venture.

JULIAN

What?—You intend to join the expedition?

FELIX

Yes.

SALA

Have you already talked it over with your father?

FELIX

I shall do so to-night.—But that's a mere formality. I am determined, provided no other obstacles appear....

SALA

I shall speak to the Count this very day.

FELIX

I don't know how to thank you.

SALA

There is no reason at all. In fact, I don't have to say another word. The Count knows everything he needs to know about you.

VALET (appearing on the terrace)

There is a lady asking if you are at home, sir.

SALA

Didn't she give her name?—You'll have to excuse me a moment, gentlemen. (He goes toward the valet, and both disappear into the house)

JULIAN

You are going away?

FELIX

Yes. And I am very happy this occasion has offered itself.

JULIAN

Have you also informed yourself concerning the real nature of this undertaking?

FELIX

It means at any rate genuine activity and the opening of wider worlds.

JULIAN

And couldn't those things be found in connection with more hopeful prospects?

FELIX

That's possible. But I don't care to wait.

[Sala and Irene enter.

IRENE (still on the terrace, talking to Sala)

I couldn't leave Vienna without keeping my promise.

SALA

And I thank you for it, Miss Herms.

IRENE (descending into the garden with Sala)

You have a wonderful place here.—How do you do, Julian? Good evening, Lieutenant.

SALA

You should have come earlier, Miss Herms, so that you could have seen it in full sunlight.

IRENE

Why, I was here two hours ago. But it was like an enchanted castle. It was impossible to get in. The bell didn't ring at all.

SALA

Oh, of course! I hope you pardon. If I had had the slightest idea....

IRENE

Well, it doesn't matter. I have made good use of my time. I went on through the woods as far as Neustift and Salmansdorf.[6] And then I got out and followed a road that I remembered since many years ago. (She looks at Julian) I rested on a bench where I sat once many, many years ago, with a close friend. (Smilingly) Can you guess, Mr. Fichtner? The outlook is wonderful. Beyond the fields you have a perfect view of the whole city as far as the Danube.

[6] Former villages, now suburbs of Vienna, lying still nearer the city limits than Dornbach, where Sala is living.

SALA (pointing to the stone seat)

Won't you sit down here for a while, Miss Herms?

IRENE

Thanks. (She raises her lorgnette to study the busts of the two emperors) It makes one feel quite Roman.... But I hope, gentlemen, I haven't interrupted any conference.

SALA

Not at all.

IRENE

I have that feeling, however. All of you look so serious.—I think I'll rather leave.

SALA

Oh, you mustn't, Miss Herms.—Is there anything more you want to ask me about that affair of ours, Felix?

FELIX

If Miss Herms would pardon me for a minute....

IRENE

Oh, certainly—please!

SALA

You'll excuse me, Miss Herms....

FELIX

It is a question of what I should do in regard to my present commission.—(He is still speaking as he goes out with Sala)

IRENE

What kind of secrets have those two together? What's going on here anyhow?

JULIAN

Nothing that can be called a secret. That young fellow is also going to join the expedition, I hear. And so they have a lot of things to talk over, of course.

IRENE (who has been following Felix and Sala with her eyes) Julian—it's he.

JULIAN (remains silent)

IRENE

You don't need to answer me. The matter has been in my mind all the time.... The only thing I can't understand is why I haven't discovered it before. It is he.—And he is twenty-three.—And I who actually thought when you drove me away: if only he doesn't kill himself!... And there goes his son.

JULIAN

What does that help me? He doesn't belong to me.

IRENE

But look at him! He is there—he's alive, and young, and handsome. Isn't that enough? (She rises) And I who was ruined by it!

JULIAN

How?

IRENE

Do you understand? Ruined....

JULIAN

I have never suspected it.

IRENE

Well, you couldn't have helped me anyhow. (Pause) Good-by. Make an excuse for me, please. Tell them anything you want. I am going away, and I don't want to know anything more.

JULIAN

What's the matter with you? Nothing has changed.

IRENE

You think so?—To me it is as if all these twenty-three years had suddenly undergone a complete change.—Good-by.

JULIAN

Good-by—for a while.

IRENE

For a while? Do you care?—Really?—Do you feel sad, Julian?—Now I am sorry for you again. (Shaking her head) Of course, that's the way you are. So what is there to do about it?

JULIAN

Please control yourself. Here they are coming.

SALA (returns with Felix)

Now we're all done.

FELIX

Thank you very much. I shall have to leave now.

IRENE

And to-morrow you are already going away again?

FELIX

Yes, Miss Herms.

IRENE

You're also going toward the city now, Lieutenant, are you not? If you don't object, I'll take you along.

FELIX

That's awfully kind of you.

SALA

What, Miss Herms...? This is a short visit indeed.

IRENE

Yes, I have still a few errands to do. For to-morrow I must return to the wilderness. And probably it will be some time before I get to Vienna again.—Well, Lieutenant?

FELIX

Good-by, Mr. Fichtner. And if I shouldn't happen to see you again....

JULIAN

Oh, we'll meet again.

IRENE

Now the people will say: look at the lieutenant with his mamma in tow. (She gives a last glance to Julian)

SALA (accompanies Irene and Felix up the steps to the terrace)

JULIAN (remains behind, walking back and forth; after a while he is joined by Sala) Have you no doubt that your appeal to Count Ronsky will be effective?

SALA

I have already received definite assurances from him, or I should never have aroused any hopes in Felix.

JULIAN

What caused you to do this, Sala?

SALA

My sympathy for Felix, I should say, and the fact that I like to travel in pleasant company.

JULIAN

And did it never occur to you, that the thought of losing him might be very painful to me?

SALA

What's the use of that, Julian? It is only possible to lose what you possess. And you cannot possess a thing to which you have not acquired any right. You know that as well as I do.

JULIAN

Does not, in the last instance, the fact that you need somebody give you a certain claim on him?—Can't you understand, Sala, that he represents my last hope?... That actually I haven't got anything or anybody left but him?... That wherever I turn, I find nothing but emptiness?... That I am horrified by the loneliness awaiting me?

SALA

And what could it help you if he stayed? And even if he felt something like filial tenderness toward you, how could that help you?... How can he or anybody else help you?... You say that loneliness horrifies you?... And if you had a wife by your side to-day, wouldn't you be lonely just the same?... Wouldn't you be lonely even if you were surrounded by children and grandchildren?... Suppose you had kept your money, your fame and your genius—don't you think you would be lonely for all that?... Suppose we were always attended by a train of bacchantes—nevertheless we should have to tread the downward path alone—we, who have never belonged to anybody ourselves. The process of aging must needs be a lonely one for our kind, and he is nothing but a fool who doesn't in time prepare himself against having to rely on any human being.

JULIAN

And do you imagine, Sala, that you need no human being?

SALA

In the manner I have used them they will always be at my disposal. I have always been in favor of keeping at a certain distance. It is not my fault that other people haven't realized it.

JULIAN

In that respect you are right, Sala. For you have never really loved anybody in this world.

SALA

Perhaps not. And how about you? No more than I, Julian.... To love means to live for the sake of somebody else. I don't say that it is a more desirable form of existence, but I do think, at any rate, that you and I have been pretty far removed from it. What has that which one like us brings into the world got to do with love? Though it include all sorts of funny, hypocritical, tender, unworthy, passionate things that pose as love—it isn't love for all that.... Have we ever made a sacrifice by which our sensuality or our vanity didn't profit?... Have we ever hesitated to betray or blackguard decent people, if by doing so we could gain an hour of happiness or of mere lust?... Have we ever risked our peace or our lives—not out of whim or recklessness—but to promote the welfare of someone who had given all to us?... Have we ever denied ourselves an enjoyment unless from such denial we could at least derive some comfort?... And do you think that we could dare to turn to any human being, man or woman, with a demand that any gift of ours be returned? I am not thinking of pearls now, or annuities, or cheap wisdom, but of some piece of our real selves, some hour of our own existence, which we have surrendered to such a being without at once exacting payment for it in some sort of coin. My dear Julian, we have kept our doors open, and have allowed our treasures to be viewed—but prodigal with them we have never been. You no more than I. We may just as well join hands, Julian. I am a little less prone to complain than you are—that's the whole difference.... But I am not telling you anything new. All this you know as well as I do. It is simply impossible for us not to know ourselves. Of course, we try at times conscientiously to deceive ourselves, but it never works. Our follies and rascalities may remain hidden to others—but never to ourselves. In our innermost souls we always know what to think of ourselves.—It's getting cold, Julian. Let's go indoors.

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