The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IX
Part 10 out of 13
Did you ask the lawyer how long it would be before the matter is
settled? Till I have my rights?
He refuses to institute proceedings.
SOPHY (_drawing a deep breath; aside_).
Then there is still some hope left!
FORESTER (_rises; quite perplexed_).
He says you are not in the right, father.
Not in the right?
[_Is obliged to sit down_.]
SOPHY (_as before_).
If he only would yield.
He said state officials could not be deposed, unless it could
be proved against them that they deserved it. But you were not a state
official; your master was not the state, but he who owned the forest,
the owner of the estate.
FORESTER (_with suppressed anger_).
Then, if I were an official of the state, Stein would not be allowed to
do me an injustice. And because I am not, he is allowed to brand me as a
scoundrel?--You did not understand him rightly, William!
He repeated it to me three times--
Because you did not represent the matter to him as it is--that already
your great-grandfather had been forester of Duesterwalde, and your
grandfather after him, and that for forty years, throughout the whole
valley, people have called me the Hereditary Forester.
That, he said, was an honor to both masters and servants; but before the
court nothing could be based on it.
But he does not know that Stein wants to depose me, because
I had his best interests at heart, that the forest is exposed on the
north and west. A lawyer does not know that a forest is like a vault,
where one stone always holds and supports the others. Thus the vault can
withstand any force, but take out only a dozen stones from the centre,
and the whole thing comes tumbling about your ears.
At such arguments he only shrugged his shoulders.
FORESTER (_growing more excited_).
And my money that I have put into it? And all the trees that I planted
with my own hands? Hey? Which the wind now shall wantonly break?
At that he only smiled. He said you might be a very honest man, but in
court that would prove nothing.
If one is an honest man, that proves nothing? Then one must be a rascal,
if he is to prove anything in court?--But how about Rupert of
He happened to have been a state official. After I had left
him, I even went to another lawyer. This man laughed right in my face.
But to that fellow I spoke my mind like a hunter's son.
You did well. But what about Andrew? Hey?
He said that you had been deposed at the time that Andrew went into the
forest. You ought to know yourself that no stranger is allowed to take
plants from a forest according to his own inclination, without the
knowledge and consent of the forester. That then Godfrey was the lawful
forester, and consequently Andrew had no one to blame but himself, if he
was treated as a poacher. And that Andrew himself must understand it
would be wiser to take his punishment quietly, and not stir up the
matter any further; and he might be glad to have come off so easily.
[_The_ FORESTER _has seated himself again; pauses; then whistles, and
drums on the table_.]
SOPHY (_watching him with anxiety_).
When he becomes so calm--
So I must remain a scoundrel before the world? Very well!--Why don't you
pack your things, you women-folk? William, get me a bottle of wine.
You are going to drink wine? And you know it is not good for you,
Ulrich? And just now, in your present state of vexation--
I must get my mind off the subject.
You always become so excited after wine. If you drink now it may be your
Better to drink oneself to death than live as a scoundrel! And a
scoundrel I must remain before the world. William, a bottle and a glass.
Have matters come to that pass, that I am no longer master in my own
house? Hurry up, there!
If only you would change your mind! But you will not do it, and--I must
That matter is settled, woman, and my resolution is taken. None of your
lamentations! Tomorrow I am going. Since I am not an official of the
State and--today I intend to be right jolly.
[WILLIAM _brings wine; the_ FORESTER _pours out and drinks repeatedly,
every time a full glass. Between glasses he whistles and drums_.]
Put that light away, so that I may not see my shadow.
[WILLIAM _puts the lamp on the table near the women, seats himself by
them and takes the still opened Bible before him_.]
SOPHY (_aside and to Mary_).
Andrew still stays out, and it has been dark for a long while. And
tomorrow I must go. Now I say indeed: I must go; and yet I am not sure
that, when the moment comes, I shall have the strength of mind to carry
out my intention--after we have lived together for twenty years, sharing
joys and sorrows! And to say farewell to the forest with its green
leaves which all day long looks into every window! How still it will
seem to us, when during the entire day we no longer shall hear the
rustling of the trees, the singing of the birds, and the sound of the
wood-cutter's ax. And the old cuckoo-clock there--it was ticking when I
was a bride, and now you too have been betrothed here! There in that
corner you raised yourself on your feet for the first time, Mary, and
began to walk, and took three steps; and there where your father is
sitting, I sat and wept for joy. Is that what life is? An everlasting
bidding farewell? If, after all, I were to remain? And yet when I think
of all the things uncle said might happen! If Robert's letter--William,
please go into the garden. I must have left the glass by the spring, or
in the arbor or somewhere thereabouts.
_The same, without_ WILLIAM. SOPHY _and_ MARY _in front of the stage
busied with the lamp. The_ FORESTER _sometimes seated in the rear,
sometimes walking up and down past the table to the window_.
SOPHY (_having waited till_ WILLIAM _is out_).
Suppose you find out what Robert has been writing.
You mean I should open the letter, mother?
Perhaps everything can still be arranged, and Robert writes us how. If
you will not open it, give me the letter. If I do it, you have nothing
to reproach yourself for.
If I only could read by lamp-light. If I put on my spectacles, he would
notice it. Read it to me, Mary.
You want me to read it, mother?
If I give you permission, you may surely do so. Put it there next to the
Bible. And if he comes near, or his attention is attracted, you read
from the Bible.
Whatever your eyes light upon. If I cough, you read from the Bible.
First the letter.
"Dear Mary. I have so much to--
He is getting up again from his chair. Read from the Bible till he is at
"Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath
caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again."
[FORESTER _drums on the window_.]
SOPHY (_constantly watching him_).
Now the letter, Mary. Till I cough.
"I have so much to tell you. Sometime during the evening or the night
come to the Dell by the spring under the willows. There I shall wait for
you. Come, Mary. Tomorrow morning I am going out into the world to win
happiness for you and for me. If you do not come, I know what you mean,
and you will never see me again."
He intends to go? Out into the world? Forever, if you do not go? Then
everything would be lost!
"You will never again see your Robert."
SOPHY (_coughs, just as the_ FORESTER _is turning away from the
From the Bible, Mary.
"As he hath caused a blemish in a man, so it shall be done to him again.
Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger as for one of
your own country: for I am the Lord, your God."
FORESTER (_has become attentive; stops_).
What is that there about law?
"Ye shall have one manner of law--"
"Ye shall have one manner"--Where is that?
Here, father. Up there at the left.
Put a mark there where that begins, what you have read there about the
law. Do you see now that I am right? Even if I have to put up with
injustice? That my old heart here is no liar? "Ye shall have one manner
of law"--not a special one for officials of the State. At that time the
Law was still sound; then it did not live in dusty, moldy offices. It
was administered under the gates in the open air, as we read there. If I
had my way, the courts ought to have sessions in the forest; in the
forest man's heart remains sound; there one knows what is right and what
is wrong without Ifs and Buts. With their secret tricks they have put a
string of Ifs and Buts to it; in their dusty, moldy offices it has
become sick and blunt and withered, so that they can turn and twist it
as they like. And now what is right must be put in writing and have a
seal to it, otherwise it is not to be recognized as right. Now they have
deprived a man's word of all value and degraded it, since one is only
bound by what one has sworn to, what one has under seal and in writing.
Out of the good old right they have made a turn-coat, so that an old
man, whose honor was never sullied by the slightest blemish, must stand
as a rascal before men--because they in their offices have two rights
instead of one.
[_Sits down and drinks_.]
The night is advancing further and further, and Andrew does not come.
And with such talk one becomes doubly frightened. If you went to
To Robert? What, in the world, are you thinking of, mother?
That it is God's finger--that letter of Robert's.
I am to go to Robert? Now? To the Dell?
What is to prevent it? You are not afraid.
The idea of being afraid!
How often have you not been out at a more advanced hour of the night!
But then father knew it. If I have father's permission and yours, I know
that an angel stands behind every tree. And father said: "If I am
mistaken in Mary"--
I cannot slip away, without his noticing it, as well as you
can. The matter might still have taken a favorable turn, but it was not
to be. And your dream? You felt so light, the sky became so blue--you
see, in the Dell by the spring under the willows, there the sorrow that
weighs on you and on us all is to end.
MARY (_shaking her head_).
Do you really think so, mother?
If you would go. We might then remain with father, Robert would try once
more to persuade his father, uncle Wilkens also would yield, and when
you wear the bridal wreath a second time it would be even more becoming
I am to deceive my father, mother? In that case I believe no good could
ever come to me again in this world.
You would have the satisfaction of knowing that you went for his sake.
Perhaps if, tomorrow, he must go forth into misery, or if they confine
him in the tower, or if something still worse happens--
Yes. Then you will think, perhaps too late: "Had I only gone!"
But mother, if I were in the forest, and father should meet me? Or if he
should find us together?
We must ask him, whether he is going to stay home.
I cannot look at him without feeling as if my heart were bursting.
Ask him on account of the soup.
I shall ask him at once.
[_She approaches the_ FORESTER _timidly, stands next to him without his
SOPHY (_encouraging her_).
Don't be a child.
[_She bends over him, beside herself with pity_.]
Father, poor father!
[_Is going to embrace him_.]
FORESTER (_looking about, roughly_).
What's the matter? No lamentations!
SOPHY (_as_ MARY _stands disconcerted_).
MARY (_controls herself_).
Are you again going into the forest tonight?
SOPHY (_interrupts, for fear_ MARY _might tell the truth_).
Because of the soup; she wants to know whether she is to warm it.
No. And what are you waiting for, you silly wench?
[_Turns away. As_ MARY _hesitates, calls out roughly_.]
Do you hear?
MARY (_goes back to_ SOPHY).
Mother, he has been crying! I saw a tear hanging on his eye-lash,
mother! And I am about to deceive him!
He is crying because in his old age he has to go forth into
misery.--And as to you--why, you are not obliged to go.
If you speak in that way, mother!--I am going.
Then say good-night to him. It is time. Afterward I shall help you climb
out of the window. At this moment Robert is already waiting. You can be
Yes, mother, I will go. But not for Robert's sake, mother, nor for mine;
only for father's sake. I will tell him: "Robert," I will say to him,
"you will yet find a girl, more beautiful and better than myself, but my
father will not find another child, if I leave him." I will tell him:
"Robert," I will say to him, "I will forget you! God will give me
strength that I may be able to forget you. Remain away from me, so that
I may not see you again." God will help me, mother, will he not? He
will, for I did love Robert so much.
Now go. Say good-night and don't betray yourself.
[MARY _stands by the_ FORESTER.]
Mary wants to say good-night to you.
Can't you say it yourself, silly thing?
MARY (_mastering her emotion_).
Good-night. You need not wait for me tomorrow when you are going to your
uncle. Perhaps I shall have gone out by that time. I have an errand;
don't know whether I shall come back tomorrow. And take Nero along--and
whatever else is there; take everything along. I no longer need
anything--but my tools, my short rifle and--powder and bullets. The
other rifles you may sell. Go to Wilkens, you poor thing, he perhaps
will get Robert for you yet--after I have gone; after people have once
forgotten that your father was a dismissed man.
Wench, that is a good-night as if forever.--You are right, Mary. Such a
stain as I am upon your good reputation must be removed. Go, Mary. Do
you hear, Mary?
You shall remain, father. And if you go, I go with you.
The way I have to go one goes alone. Go, Mary.
Go to bed, Mary.
Good-night. And now it's enough. You know I cannot bear lamentations.
You are not going without me, father. You cannot live without me,
father. Father, I now feel that in my heart.
Yes, I can. What doesn't such a greenhorn feel!
You turn away, father, so that I should not see you crying. Father,
pretend you are ferocious, as much as you like--
FORESTER (_wants to disengage himself_).
Silly thing there--
I am going with you. You insist upon your right, and I upon mine, and
that is, that I must not leave you. Father, I feel now for the first
time that I love no one in the world as much as you. Tomorrow we go
together--if you must go. I am going to put on William's clothes. There
are still green forests in the world. And surely you shall not hear me
complaining. Don't be afraid of that. Why, I can cry during the nights,
when you don't see it. But then you will see it by my eyes in the
daytime. Why, I must not cry at all! I will only laugh and skip along
before you and sing--the beautiful hunting songs.--You see, father, this
is the last tear for Robert! And it is already dried, do you see? I am
sure that we shall still find happiness in this world--if you must go,
father. And if it is not to be, we will thank God and pray, if He only
keeps us honest. Then we will think: It is asking too much, if we also
wish to be happy. Have I not you? Have not you your good conscience and
your Mary? What more do we need?
[_Hanging on his neck_.]
FORESTER (_who has been warding her off constantly, almost furious,
because he can scarcely control his emotion_).
Indeed, indeed! Stupid thing!
And a "table--spread--thyself," a "gold--mule--stretch-thyself," and the
fairy-story is complete. Now go to bed, Mary.
Do you hear?
MARY (_at the door of her room she looks around, and runs again to him;
embracing him, beside herself_).
[_She hurries to her room;_ SOPHY _follows_.]
FORESTER (_looking after her_).
My girl, my poor girl! It must not be here that I make an end of
myself!--Confound it. Shame on you, old--
WEILER; _The_ FORESTER.
WEILER (_greets him with a silent nod; he is very much excited; hangs
the rifle on the rack and busies himself with the hunting utensils_).
FORESTER (_notices him_).
Is it you?
[_Lapses again into his thoughts_.]
Where are you coming from at this time?
From the forest. At the fence I had a talk with your William. So, after
all, you are dismissed.
Because there are two kinds of right.
And didn't you know that before?
You have your pay for three months in advance.
And may go. I know that too. Where is your William? Why, to be sure! I
just met him. And your Andrew?
FORESTER (_half absent-mindedly_).
Not at home.
But I suppose you know where your Andrew is?
What else do you want? Leave me alone!
All right. It's none of my business.
Therefore I think you'd better go.
But to come back to Andrew. You don't know where he is?
Always harping on Andrew? If you have something to say, don't be like a
thunderstorm that keeps threatening for hours.
WEILER (_points toward the window_).
Some one is coming up across the Lautenberg. The plovers were screeching
as if in fear. I expected it. It was too sultry. Ulrich [_approaches
him_] an hour ago some one was shot.
You know who?
You don't know it? If your Andrew were home--
Always Andrew! You know something about him!
Well. The rifle--tell me, did Andrew have the one with the yellow strap?
WEILER (_as if lost in meditation_).
Surely I know your rifle--
Do you want to drive me mad?
You haven't it in the house?
I won't answer you any more. I'm ugly enough as it is. I have been
Take good care that you are not mistaken.
Take good care that I don't take you by the collar.
It's no joke--
You shall see that it is not.
I know nothing but what I have heard and seen. And now sit down. I don't
feel like standing long. It seems to me that I must look like my
[_The_ FORESTER _sitting down at the table to the right;_ WEILER _has
drawn a chair close to him, and talks hurriedly in an uncanny, subdued
A little while ago, as I was quitting work and going away from my
wood-cutters, I heard a shot from the direction of the Dell. I thought
perhaps it was you, and went in that direction. But it must have been
Robert Stein. He was walking up and down there by the first bridge like
a sentinel. I thought to myself: What can he be waiting for? Not for
game; for in that case one doesn't run up and down; I thought: You must
get to the bottom of this. You get behind the high oak. There you can
see everything and can't be seen. But I was hardly there, when I heard a
commotion behind me. And what was it I heard? Your Andrew and Robert in
a most violent dispute. I could not understand anything clearly, but one
could hear that they were after each other for life and death. I was
just about to creep closer, when they already came rushing along. The
one on the further side of the brook on the rocky path, the other on
this side. The one on this side was Robert with his gun against his
cheek. Two steps from me he stopped--"Stand or I shoot." On the rocky
path no two persons can pass each other. There it is--"Man, fight for
your life." And now, pif! paf!--two shots in succession. The bullet from
the one on the rock whistled between me and Robert into the bushes. But
Robert's bullet--Ulrich, I have heard many a shot, but never such a one.
One could hear by the sound of the lead, it scented human life. I do not
know what sensation I felt when he on the other side collapsed like a
Who else could it have been? Hey? Perhaps he's home? Perhaps you know
where else he is? And the person that was shot had the rifle with the
yellow strap. He held it tight. The strap really glistened in the
twilight like a signal of distress. It was a weird sound, as the iron
parts of the gun in falling struck the rocks and the corpse tumbled
after it, breaking the bushes--till there was a splash in the brook
below, as if it started in terror. And when, after this, there succeeded
such a strange stillness, as if it had to bethink itself of what had
really happened, I had a sensation as though some one were pursuing me.
I should have been back half an hour ago, if I had not lost my way--I,
who know every tree thereabouts. Now you may imagine how I felt! Not
until I had reached the second bridge there toward Haslau, did I have
courage to stop a moment to take breath--there where the brook is
roaring among the rocks. Accidentally I looked down. There the brook was
playing with a colored rag. Do you know it, perhaps?
[_Takes out_ ANDREW'S _muffler, and holds it before the_ FORESTER'S
_eyes; the latter snatches it from his hand_.]
All sorts of shapes before my eyes--the wine--
[_Holds it sometimes far, sometimes near, without being able to see
WEILER (_short pause_).
You are so quiet. Is something wrong with you?
[FORESTER _draws a single loud breath, and still keeps holding the
muffler mechanically before him, without seeing it_.]
Your face is quite distorted. I am going to call your wife.
FORESTER (_makes a movement, as if he were pushing a load from him with
Never mind! A slight dizziness. Have not been bled recently; the wine
into the bargain--it's already passing away--say nothing to any one
[_Rises with difficulty_.]
So they have had a regular stand-up fight, Andrew and Robert! But what
do you intend to do now? As a dismissed man? If that fellow says: "I
challenged the poacher, he did not throw down his gun?" You know better
than any one that a hunter may then shoot. He is not even obliged to
challenge; if he only hits the mark, he is also in the right. And
whoever, like your Andrew, has fallen the height of two stories from the
rock into the water, his tongue will cease wagging even without powder
and lead. You know the law, as it is nowadays. And they will lock you up
into the bargain because of insubordination. I am sorry for you. I
should not like to be you. Hey?
The thunderstorm has already passed the Lautenberg, do you hear? If you
delay any longer you will be caught in the rain.
There was lightning some time ago. As I came along the hill with the
larch-firs, the whole country was lighted up. Then I saw Robert still
walking up and down by the willows below.
[FORESTER _goes to the door so that_ WEILER _may see he is waiting for
Are you going once more to the lawyer? That might do some good if you
were an official of the state. But what are you going to do when you are
Whoever believes it--
Fool that you are! I'm going to bed.
It isn't late enough for that.
I am going to lock the door and the shutters.
WEILER (_as he has no alternative, hesitating_).
Now then, sleep well, Ulrich--if you can.
[_Exit, the_ FORESTER _after him_.]
_Enter_ SOPHY; _then the_ FORESTER _and_ WILLIAM.
SOPHY (_coming out of_ MARY'S _room_).
Now she may be where the willows begin.
[_At the window_.]
He is closing the shutters. I must close Mary's for appearance's sake,
so that she can climb in when she returns. And Andrew not yet back! All
at once a feeling comes over me, as if I should not have allowed Mary to
_Enter the_ FORESTER _with_ WILLIAM. SOPHY _goes again into_ MARY'S
WILLIAM (_while entering_).
Father, Lora Kramer came to the fence, and said that Stein was beside
himself--that shots had been heard in the forest--that Robert was
missing, and that Stein had sent Moeller into town; he was to get the
soldiers; they were to arrest the whole band of murderers from the
hunter's house, he said. She also said that Moeller had passed Kramer's
house at full gallop. They might be expected to arrive before one
FORESTER (_while_ SOPHY _steps out of_ MARY'S _room_).
What have you still to do outside?
[_Looks about him_.]
In the garden, father. Mother, there was nothing in the arbor.
SOPHY (_remains at the door_).
Then somebody must have brought it in.
[_To the_ FORESTER.]
Are you looking for anything?
I? No. Yes, the rifle with the yellow strap. Where can that be? Perhaps
SOPHY (_involuntarily covering the door, quickly_).
There is no rifle in Mary's room.
To be sure, Andrew took it along when he went to accompany me.
FORESTER. True. [_Shows the muffler_.]
There, I have somebody's muffler in my pocket! Is it yours, William?
The red and yellow muffler? That belongs to Andrew.
He left it around yesterday, and absentmindedly I must have put it in my
Yesterday? Only today, before you went, I gave it to him.
You gave it to--all right!
SOPHY (_comes nearer_).
Yes, yes. That is Andrew's muffler.
[_She examines it_.]
Here is his monogram.
FORESTER (_wishes to take it from her_).
Give it to me.
It is wet!--And what blood is that upon the muffler?
[_Suppresses his emotion_.]
It's from my hand. I cut it on the lock of the gun. Never mind!
SOPHY (_busies herself on the other side of the stage_).
William, come here. Read to me. There in the Bible, begin where the
In the middle of the chapter?
Beginning at the mark there. Go on!
[_Gets his hat_.]
"And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall--"
That isn't it.
[_Hangs the gun over his shoulder_.]
"And he that killeth any man"--is that it?
FORESTER (_profoundly moved, comes a step nearer_).
No--but go on reading.
[_He stands next to_ WILLIAM. _During the following he involuntarily
takes off his hat, and folds his hands_.]
"And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that
killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause
a blemish on his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath caused a
blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth
a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put
He shall be put to death.
"Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one
of your own country: for I am the Lord your God."
[_Puts on his hat and is about to go; turns back_.]
When did she say they might be there, William?
[Illustration: SCHNORR VON CAROLSFELD JACOB AND RACHEL AT THE WELL]
Before one o'clock.
There's time enough.
For what, father?
For--getting a sound sleep.
Father, how strangely you look at me?
Go to bed, William.
[_As_ SOPHY _enters_.]
Shake hands with your mother.
Are you going out now, Christian?
Did Weiler pick up the trail of the stag again?
How you look! One might be afraid of you, if one did not know how it is
with you when you have taken wine.
For that reason I want to go out into the open air.
At such times you see everything different from what it is. You may fall
into the abyss.
Then you cut the leaf there from the Bible and put it into my coffin.
How you talk!
GO to bed, William.
Pray--or do not pray--
What is the matter with you, Christian? Why am I so anxious? Stay, for
God's sake, stay! Your business surely can wait.
No. It must be done even today. [_Going_.]
SOPHY (_about to follow him_).
FORESTER (_turning around at the door, softly to himself_).
"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth."
SOPHY (_recoiling from the glare of the sheet-lightning which is seen
through the open door_).
God have mercy on us!
[_At the door_.]
[_In far-away voice, outside_.]
_The_ FORESTER'S _House. Night. For a short time the stage remains
SOPHY (_alone, comes in with a lamp, looks into_ MARY'S _room, puts the
lamp upon the table, goes to the window, opens the shutter through which
the reflection of the sheet-lightning is visible, looks out; then she
closes shutter and window, takes the lamp again, and looks once more
into_ MARY'S _room. At intervals she listens and betrays great
Not yet! What if he's encountered her! What if he's met them together!
She ought to be back by this time. Oh, why did I let her go? And Andrew
does not come, either! And then this sultry, stormy night!
Surely, that was she? At last! God be praised!
[_Looks into the room_.]
No. It is not she. The wind blew open the half-closed shutter.
WILLIAM, _in his shirt-sleeves_; SOPHY.
Are the soldiers there, mother?
[_At the door of_ MARY'S _room_.]
Mother, where is father?
[SOPHY _is startled, and quickly closes the door_.]
And Mary? She is not in her room?
What ideas you get into your head!
Her bed is still as if it had just been made.
SOPHY (_listens, frightened_).
Is that your father? William, say nothing about this before your father!
I'm the fellow to play the informer! But you must tell me where Mary is.
Gone to the Dell to ask Robert--
Mother, we beg at nobody's door. I am going to fetch her.
In this storm?
WILLIAM (_puts on his jacket_).
He would be a fine hunter's boy who is afraid of a little bit of
lightning. Only tell me which way Mary went. The one below along the
brook? All right. She is not like the others, but she is only a girl.
And they are afraid.
SOPHY (_alone; after him_).
William! William! [_Comes back_.]
He is gone! And the storm is getting worse. A fog below, and the
thunderstorm above coming nearer. And another one is coming on from the
Brandsberg. And Ulrich outside, and none of the children at home. And I
all alone in this solitary hunter's house in the midst of the forest,
and at such an hour of the night!
[_A door is heard slamming; she starts up_.]
Merciful God! It is he! If he should look into the room and should not
see Mary! Or--
_Enter the_ FORESTER _in haste; pale and distracted_; SOPHY.
SOPHY (_going to meet him_).
Back already?--[_Correcting herself_] at last?
FORESTER (_looking shyly about_).
Did anybody ask for me?
No. Are they pursuing you?
Because you come in as if you were being hunted.
I meant the soldiers.--Why do I see Mary everywhere! In the Dell--
SOPHY (_is frightened_).
In the Dell!
And all the way back I heard her walking behind me.
On your way back--
Whenever I walked, I heard her behind me; whenever I stood still, she
also stood still, but I did not look around.
You did not look around?
Why, I knew it was nothing. I have a feeling as though even now she were
still standing behind me.
SOPHY (_wishes to divert him from the subject_).
Did you shoot anything? Is it outside?
FORESTER (_shuddering involuntarily_).
Before the door. What a strange look you give me! What is that on your
FORESTER (_turns away involuntarily_).
What is it?
What you see--
Why will you not let me see it?
It is nothing.
[_Turns to the table at the right, takes down his gun_.]
Is the soup warm? My tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth.
SOPHY (_takes a plate and spoon from the closet, goes to the stove where
she pours out the soup_).
If he should look into the room! What I ask, I ask only in anxiety to
have him forget about Mary.
[_She puts the soup before the_ FORESTER _on the table to the right;
Isn't there a noise in the room?
[_Walks about the_ FORESTER'S _chair, so as to distract him_.]
Ulrich, don't you think that Robert could still restore the old friendly
[FORESTER _makes a movement_.]
Why do you start so?
Don't wake up Mary! Wasn't there some one at the window?
That is the old rose-bush outside, which is always nodding so anxiously
and knocking at the window, as if it had to prevent a catastrophe, and
nobody paid any attention to it.
It is so still. I must keep on talking, otherwise he can hear me
breathing, and will notice my anxiety--and also that he may not hear
Mary when she climbs in at the window.
The whole evening I have been thinking about it. Only yesterday Robert
said to me--
SOPHY (_has seated herself by his side_).
We were walking along the willows, where the pine-thicket is, under the
rock, in the Dell--
Don't mention that--
How you start! It was at sunset; and as I looked around, something was
coming out from under the pines--so red. I--frightened--For God's sake,
I say, why, that is blood!
[FORESTER _throws down his spoon and rises_.]
Then the evening glow was reflected in the water.--But what is the
matter with you?
Always with your Dell. What do you care about the Dell?
Did something happen to you there? People say the place is haunted.
Robert said so to me yesterday. They say that there is an accursed spot!
There some one committed a murd--
FORESTER (_seizes his gun_).
What do you know?
SOPHY (_recoiling in terror_).
Will you keep quiet?
SOPHY (_stops before him, shuddering, filled with a presentiment_).
Ulrich! What have you done?
FORESTER (_has recovered his self-possession_).
Stuff and nonsense! Is this a night for such stories?
[_Lost in thought_.]
Go ahead. Whether an hour sooner, or an hour later. You have me on your
[_Sinks down upon a chair to the left_.]
FORESTER (_pause; then he walks slowly up and down, and gradually comes
near her, hesitating_).
I must tell you something, Sophy--if you do not already know it; it will
not let me rest. I am in the right; but--and then I cannot tell--is it
true or is it only an oppressive dream?--a dream in which one cannot do
what one wishes--and exhausts oneself--because one must always do what
one does not wish. Come here! Do you hear? Place your hand on the Bible.
Great God! What can be the meaning of this!
It would be horrible if I had been obliged to kill her, and after all
everything were only--and then I should have in vain--Sophy!
[_Quite close to her; softly_.]
There is a report that a corpse is lying in the Dell!
You are drunk or mad!
I am in my right mind. Look at me, woman! Do you believe in a God in
Heaven? Very well, Very well! Then place your hand upon the Bible, right
here. There my right is written. Now say after me: "As truly as I hope
to be saved--"
As truly as I hope to be saved--
"So truly shall it remain a secret what I am now about to hear."
So truly shall it remain a secret what I am now about to hear.
[_Is obliged to sit down_.]
And now give heed.--It is short--no But and no If about it--it is clear
as the right--and right must remain right--else we need no God in
Heaven! [_After he has made several attempts to begin, in a dejected and
low voice, while he leads her to the footlights_.] Do not be frightened.
Robert shot our Andrew, and I--I have executed judgment upon him.
Oh, God! [_She can scarcely keep herself on her feet; wants to go to the
chair. He supports her_.]
I have judged him. As it is written there--"Eye for eye, tooth for
tooth." I have judged him, because the courts no longer judge right.
They have two kinds of law, and here it is written: "Ye shall have one
manner of law." I have not murdered him, I have executed judgment upon
him. [_He walks up and down, then loses himself in thought at the place
where he believes_ SOPHY _still to be, who totters to the chair_.] But I
do not know whether it did happen--what has happened. My brain is so
wild and confused--[_Recollects with difficulty_] but I suppose it
really did happen--what has happened--and as it was about to
happen--what has happened--I saw Mary before my eyes, as if she put
herself in front of him and made a sign to me to stop, and cried: "It
is"--well, you know who! It was a delusion; it was only in my
imagination. After I have had wine, I always am in a state that I see
things which do not exist. And if it should have been she--the bullet
then was no longer under any control.
[_She drags herself with difficulty into_ MARY'S _room_.]
FORESTER (_does not notice it and, staring before him, continues as if
she were still standing beside him_).
It was not she. How could Mary have come there? It is nothing but the
effect of the wine, that today I see her everywhere. But nevertheless I
was frightened until I saw it had only been the smoke from the gun.
Everything was turning around before my eyes. But when the smoke had
cleared away--that was only a moment--then I saw him--still standing as
before, but only for a moment--then he collapsed--then had happened what
did happen. Then I folded my hands over my gun, and said: "You have been
judged according to your desert." And I prayed: "God have mercy on his
poor soul." Then a swarm of owls flew up and screeched. That sounded as
though they said Amen. Then I stood again erect on my feet. For God and
Earth and Heaven and every creature demand justice.
[_He loses himself in a brown study_.]
_The_ FORESTER, _lost in thought, alone. Then_ STEIN _and the_ PASTOR,
_at first only heard behind the scenes_.
STEIN (_still outside_).
FORESTER (_awaking, mechanically_).
STEIN (_as above_).
Do you hear?
FORESTER (_the connection of the events suddenly flashes upon him_).
It did happen!
[_Makes a movement as if to seize his gun; but controls himself_.]
No! Not an iota more than my right!
STEIN (_entering, the_ PASTOR _behind him_).
Where is your Andrew, Ulrich?
What do you want with my Andrew?
To demand my Robert from him.
Your Robert?--From my Andrew?--Look here!
[_Shows the muffler_.]
For Heaven's sake!--There is blood on the muffler!
What is that?
That is my Andrew's blood, and your Robert spilled it. And you sent
your Moeller for the soldiers! And you made me a scoundrel before the
world--with your two kinds of right--so that you may twist it as you
like! But here--[_striking his breast_] there still is a right! That
neither you nor your lawyers can twist.
ANDREW, _still without_. STEIN, FORESTER, PASTOR.
ANDREW (_outside, in a low voice_).
Is not that Andrew's voice?
Here it is written: "Ye shall have one manner of law." And the law has
judged you. "And he that killeth any man he--"
FORESTER (_trembling, staring at the door, with smothered voice,
"He--he--shall--surely--be--put to death"--
STEIN (_going toward him_).
God be thanked! Andrew, you live!
FORESTER (_makes a great effort_).
It is not true. He is dead. He must be dead.
FORESTER (_stretching out his hand, as if warding him off_).
Who are you?
ANDREW (_more and more alarmed_).
Do you not know your Andrew any more?
_My_ Andrew is dead. If you lie slain in the Dell--then you shall be my
Andrew--then everything is well--then we will rejoice--then we will
sing: Lord God, we praise Thee!
He is demented!
Andrew, my Robert--
You have my muffler which Lindenschmied stole from me before he killed
Lindenschmied killed Godfrey? And my Robert--
Robert was pursuing him. He compelled Robert to shoot him.
He? He had your gun?
Stolen it with my muffler.
And Robert did--
Lindenschmied was not mortally wounded. I had his wound dressed in the
mill, and had him removed before the magistrate--
FORESTER (_gradually collapsing_).
I am in the wrong!
[_Sinks down upon a chair_.]
That is the reason why I am so late.
FORESTER (_rises; goes to_ STEIN _with his gun in his hand_).
Stein, do to me according to my desert.
What do you mean?
"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth"--
STEIN (_looking at the_ PASTOR).
What does he mean by that again?
Weiler thought that Lindenschmied with the gun was my Andrew. Your
Robert wounded Lindenschmied, and I--killed your Robert for this!
ANDREW (_at the same time_).
FORESTER (_almost simultaneously_).
STEIN (_has seized the gun_).
[_The_ PASTOR _arrests his arm_.]
You shot Robert, father? Robert lives!
He lives, as surely as I live!
It was only a dream? Can it be that I am not a murderer? That I am an
That you are, Ulrich. Drive away that unfortunate delusion.
Man alive, to what might you have provoked me!
[_Puts away the gun_.]
You saw him? When did you see him, Andrew? Now, Andrew? Just
Just now, as I was coming home, I met two men from the mill with a
stretcher. Robert had just called them out of their beds; they were
going to the Dell; Robert had gone ahead of them.
To the Dell?
With a stretcher?
What can be behind all this?
FORESTER (_has gone to the door of_ MARY'S _room; releases the latch_).
Thanks be to God!
I hear her breathing. Oh, she sleeps a peaceful sleep. I am oppressed
with a world of cares, and she takes them from my heart with her breath.
Do you hear, Pastor, do you hear?
The unfortunate man! His delusion is returning.
PASTOR (_after an anxious pause, during which the_ FORESTER _has not
taken his eyes from the_ PASTOR'S _face_).
I hear nothing. That is your own heavy breathing that you hear.
FORESTER (_begins to collapse again_).
My own heavy breathing that I hear--
[_Summons up courage, opens the door_.]
My eyes deceive me? Where she is not, there I see her; and where she is,
there I do not see her. Pastor, for God's sake, tell me: "There lives
[_He has convulsively clutched the_ PASTOR'S _arm_.]
I do not see her. The bed there is untouched, the windows open--your
FORESTER (_rushes into the room_).
Woman! Woman! Poor, poor woman!
SOPHY, _like a ghost; can hardly stand or speak; dragged in forcibly by
Where is my child?
Mother, what ails you?
[_He supports her on one side, the_ PASTOR _on the other_.]
Andrew! At least one!
FORESTER (_shakes her_).
My child! My child! Where is my child?
SOPHY (_with repulsion, but faintly_).
Leave me, you--
To the Dell--you--
Creature, you lie!
Yes, she met me--in the fog--as I was coming--
That was William.
It was Mary, woman; Mary!
She cannot answer any more. She has fainted.
Take her away from the madman!
You mean to say that I--my own child--
[_He and the_ PASTOR _are busy about her, at the table to the right_.]
STEIN (_who in the meantime is trying to keep the_ FORESTER _away from
Hands off, you madman!
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