Josephine Preston Peabody
Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Al Haines
A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS
By JOSEPHINE PRESTON PEABODY
BOSTON and NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY JOSEPHINE PEABODY MARKS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Published November 1909
LIONEL S. MARKS
Am Dage Johannis et Pauli
War der 26 Junii
Dorch einen piper mit allerlei farve bekledet
Gewesen CXXX kinder verledet binnen Hamelen geboren
To Calvarii bi den koppen verloren
[THE HAMELIN INSCRIPTION]
THE PIPER )
MICHAEL-THE-SWORD-EATER ) Strolling Players
JACOBUS the Burgomeister )
KURT the Syndic )
PETER the Cobbler )
HANS the Butcher )
AXEL the Smith ) Men of Hamelin
MARTIN the Watch )
PETER the Sacristan )
ANSELM, a young priest )
OLD CLAUS, a miser )
TOWN CRIER )
ILSE ) Children
VERONIKA, the wife of Kurt
BARBARA, daughter of Jacobus
WIFE of HANS the Butcher
WIFE of AXEL the Smith
WIFE of MARTIN the Watch
Burghers, nuns, priests, and children
SCENE: HAMELIN ON THE WESER, 1284 A.D.
ACT I. The market-place in Hamelin
ACT II. SCENE I. Inside the 'Hollow-Hill'
SCENE II. The Cross-ways
ACT III. The Cross-ways
ACT IV. The market-place in Hamelin
One week is supposed to elapse between Acts I and II.
Acts II and III occupy one day.
Act IV concerns the following morning.
SCENE: The market-place of Hamelin. Right, the Minster, with
an open shrine (right centre) containing a large sculptured
figure of the Christ. Right, farther front, the house of KURT;
and other narrow house-fronts. Left, the Rathaus, and (down)
the home of JACOBUS. Front, to left and right, are corner-houses
with projecting stories and casement windows. At the centre rear,
a narrow street leads away between houses whose gables all but
It is late summer afternoon, with a holiday crowd. In the open
casements, front (right and left, opposite each other), sit
OLD URSULA and OLD CLAUS, looking on at men and things.
--In the centre of the place now stands a rude wooden Ark with
a tented top: and out of the openings (right and left) appear
the artificial heads of animals, worn by the players inside.
One is a Bear (inhabited by MICHAEL-THE-SWORD-EATER); one is a
large Reynard-the-Fox, later apparent as the PIPER. Close by is
the medieval piece of stage-property known as 'Hell-Mouth,' i.e.
a red painted cave with a jaw-like opening into which a mountebank
dressed in scarlet (CHEAT-THE-DEVIL) is poking 'Lost Souls' with
BARBARA loiters by the tent. VERONIKA, the sad young wife
of KURT, watches from the house steps, left, keeping her
little lame boy, Jan, close beside her.
Shouts of delight greet the end of the show, a Noah's Ark
miracle-play of the rudest; and the Children continue to
scream with joy whenever an Animal looks out of the Ark.
Men and women pay scant attention either to JACOBUS, when he
speaks (himself none too sober)--from his doorstep, prompted
by the frowning KURT,--or yet to ANSELM, the priest, who
stands forth with lifted hands, at the close of the miracle-play.
And you, who heed the colors of this show,
Look to your laughter!--It doth body forth
A Judgment that may take you unaware,--
Sun-struck with mirth, like unto chattering leaves
Some wind of wrath shall scourge to nothingness.
HANS, AXEL, AND OTHERS
And now, good townsmen all,
Seeing we stand delivered and secure
As once yon chosen creatures of the Ark,
For a similitude,--our famine gone,
Our plague of rats and mice,--
'Tis meet we render thanks more soberly--
HANS the Butcher
Soberly, soberly, ay!--
For our deliverance.
And now, ye wit, it will be full three days
Since we beheld--our late departed pest.--
[putting out an ear-trumpet]
What does he say?
[from the Ark]
--Oh, how felicitous!
He's only saying there be no more rats.
[with oratorical endeavor]
Three days it is; and not one mouse,--one mouse,
One mouse, I say!--No-o-o! Quiet. . . as a mouse.
And now. . .
Long live Jacobus!--
You have seen
Noah and the Ark, most aptly happening by
With these same play-folk. You have marked the Judgment.
You all have seen the lost souls sent to--Hell--
And, nothing more to do.--
[KURT prompts him]
Yes, yes.--And now. . .
[HANS the Butcher steps out of his group.]
HANS the Butcher
Hath no man seen the Piper?--Please your worships.
Ay, ay, so!
--Ay, where is he?
--Ho, the Piper!
Piper, my good man?
HANS the Butcher
--He that charmed the rats!
Yes, yes,--that charmed the rats!
Why, no man knows.--
Which proves him such a random instrument
As Heaven doth sometimes send us, to our use;
Or, as I do conceive, no man at all,--
A man of air; or, I would say--delusion.
He'll come no more.
[from the Ark]
Eh?--Oh, indeed, Meaow!
'Tis clearest providence. The rats are gone.
The man is gone. And there is nought to pay,
Save peaceful worship.
[Pointing to the Minster.]
[Sudden chorus of derisive animal noises from the Ark,
delighting PEOPLE and CHILDREN.]
Silence,--you strollers there! Or I will have you
Gaoled, one and all.
No, Kurt the Syndic, no!
No; no! Ah, father, bid them stay awhile
And play it all again.--Or, if not all,
Do let us see that same good youth again,
Who swallowed swords--between the Ark Preserved
And the Last Judgment!
Laurels for thee!
[The BEAR disappears: MICHAEL puts out his own head,
and gazes fixedly at BARBARA.
Oh, can't we see the animals in the Ark?
Again? Oh, can't we see it all again?
Oh, leave out Noah! And let's have only Bears
And Dromedaries, and the other ones!--
Good people--you have had your shows;
And it is meet, that having held due feast,
Both with our market and this Miracle,
We bring our holiday to close with prayer
And public thanks unto Saint Willibald,--
Upon whose day the rats departed thence.
( Saint Willibald!
( Saint! Oh!
Saint Willibald!--And what had he to do
With ridding us o' rats?
HANS the Butcher
'T was the Piping Man
Who came and stood here in the market-place,
And swore to do it for one thousand guilders!
PETER the Cobbler
Ay, and he did it, too!--Saint Willibald!
[Renewed uproar round the tent.]
Drive out those mountebanks! 'T is ever so.
Admit them to the town and you must pay
Their single show with riotings a week.--
Look yonder at your daughter.
[BARBARA lingers by the Ark-Tent, gazing with girlish
interest at MICHAEL, who gazes at her, his bear-head
in his band for the moment.]
[She turns back, with an angry glance at KURT.]
AXEL the Smith
[doggedly to them]
By your leave. Masters! I would like to know,
How did Saint Willibald prevail with the rats?--
That would I like to know. I, who ha' made
Of strong wrought traps, two hundred, thirty-nine,
Two hundred, thirty-nine.
And so would I!
HANS the Butcher
So please your worships, may it please the Crier,
Now we be here,--to cry the Piping Man--
PETER the Cobbler
A stranger-man, gay-clad,--in divers colors!
Because he, with said piping--
HANS the Butcher
The horde of rats!
PETER the Cobbler
To our great benefit;
And we be all just men.
Amen, Our Lady and the blessed Saints!
Why, faith, good souls, if ye will have him cried,
So be it.--But the ways of Heaven are strange!
Mark how our angel of deliverance came,--
Or it may be. Saint Willibald himself,--
Most piedly clothed, even as the vilest player!--
And straight ascended from us, to the clouds!
But cry him, if you will.--Peace to your lungs!--
He will not come.
[KURT wrathfully consults with JACOBUS, then signals to Crier.
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!
Whereas, now three days gone, our Plague of Rats
Was wholly driven hence, our City cleansed,
Our peace restored after sore threat of famine,
By a Strange Man who came not back again,
Now, therefore, if this Man have ears to hear,
Let him stand forth.--Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!
[Trumpet.--PEOPLE gaze up and down the little streets.--REYNARD
steps out of the Ark and comes down slowly, with a modest
air.--KURT points him out, threateningly, and the CROWD bursts
into derisive laughter.--He doffs his animal-head at leisure,
showing a sparkling dark-eyed face.
The Man! the Man!
KURT AND JACOBUS
The Devil!--'T is--
[The PIPER regards them all with debonair satisfaction; then
reverses his head-piece and holds it out upside-down, with a
Three days of rest, your worships, you have had.
I see no signs of famine hereabout.
The rats are gone, even to the nethermost tail:
And I've fulfilled my bargain. Is it granted?
[Murmurs, then cheers of "Ay, Ay, PIPER!" from the crowd.
Thank 'ee.--My thousand guilders, an you please.
One thou--Come, come! This was no sober bargain.--
No man in reason could--
One thousand guilders.
One thousand rogueries!
You jest too far.
Lucky, if he get aught!--Two hundred traps,
And nine, and thirty! By Saint Willibald,
When was I paid?
. . . One thousand guilders.
PETER the Cobbler
Give him an hundred.
HANS the Butcher
You were fools
To make agreement with him.--Ask old Claus.
He has the guilders; and his house was full
[shaking his stick from the window]
You Jade! And I that hoard, and save,
And lay by all I have from year to year,
To build my monument when I am gone,
A fine new tomb there, in Saint Boniface!
And I to pay for all your city rats!
[leaning out, opposite]
Right, neighbor, right well said!--Piper, hark here.
Piper, how did ye charm the rats away?
The rats were led--by Cu-ri-os-ity.
'Tis so with many rats; and all old women;--
Saving your health!
No thought for public weal,
In this base grasping on--
One thousand guilders.
Shall I pipe them back again?
( Good Saint Boniface!
Merciful heaven! ( Good Saint Willibald!
( Peter and Paul defend us!
HANS the Butcher
No, no; no fear o' that. The rats be drowned.
We saw them with our eyes.
Now who shall say
There is no resurrection for a mouse?
--Do you but crop this fellow's ears!--
[from the steps]
[to him, blandly]
Deal patiently, good neighbor. All is well.
[To the PIPER]
Why do you name a price so laughable,
My man? Call you to mind; you have no claim,--
No scrip to show. You cling upon--
I, would say--just--
Sure, 't was a rotten parchment!
This is a base,
Stand forth, Cheat-the-Devil!
[Up steps the DEVIL in red. PEOPLE shrink, and then come closer.
Be not afeard. He pleased you all, of late.
He hath no sting.--So, boy! Do off thy head.--
[CHEAT-THE-DEVIL doffs his red head-dress and stands forth,
a pale and timorous youth, gentle and half-witted.
Michael, stand forth!
[MICHAEL comes down, bear-head in hand.
[regarding him sadly]
That goodly sword-eater!
So, Michael, so.--These be two friends of mine.
Pay now an even third to each of us.
Or, to content your doubts, to each of these
Do you pay here and now, five hundred guilders.
Who gets it matters little, for us friends.
But you will pay the sum, friend. You will pay!--
HANS, AXEL, AND CROWD
Come, there's an honest fellow. Ay, now, pay!
--There's a good friend.--And would I had the same.
--One thousand guilders?
--No, too much.
Pay jugglers?--With a rope apiece!
They are my friends; and they shall share with me.
'T is time that Hamelin reckoned us for men;
--Hath ever dealt with us as we were vermin.
Now have I rid you of the other sort--
Right you that score!--
Say you so?
Michael, my man! Which of you here will try
With glass or fire, with him?
No, no more glass, to-day!
Then fire and sword!
[They back away.]
So!--And there's not one man
In Hamelin, here, so honest of his word.
Stroller! A pretty choice you leave us.--Quit
This strolling life, or stroll into a cage!
What do you offer him? A man eats fire--
Swords, glass, young April frogs--
Do it again!
Do it again!
You say to such a man,--
'Come be a monk! A weaver!' Pretty choice.
Here's Cheat-the-Devil, now.
PETER the Cobbler
But what's his name?
He doesn't know. What would you? Nor do I.
But for the something he has seen of life,
Making men merry, he 'd know something more!
The gentlest devil ever spiked Lost Souls
Into Hell-mouth,--for nothing-by-the-day!
[with her ear-trumpet]
Piper, why do you call him Cheat-the-Devil?
Because his deviltry is all a cheat:--
He is no devil,--but a gentle heart!
--Friend Michael here hath played the Devil, betimes,
Because he can so bravely breathe out fire.
He plied the pitchfork so we yelped for mercy,--
He reckoned not the stoutness of his arm!--
But Cheat-the-Devil here,--he would not hurt
Why--Kurt the Syndic--thrusting him in hell.
No, no--I will not hurt him!
[soothingly to him]
[To the townsfolk]
And,--if ye will have reasons, good,--ye see,--
I want--one thousand guilders.
In all surety,
Payment you'll have, my man, But--
HANS the Butcher
As to 's friends,--
An that yon Devil be as feat wi' his hands
As he be slow o' tongue, why, I will take him
For prentice. Wife,--now that would smack o' pride!
PETER the Cobbler
I'll take this fellow that can swallow fire,
He's somewhat old for me. But he can learn
My trade.--A pretty fellow!
And your trade?
PETER the Cobbler
Peter the cobbler.--
I? What, I? Make shoes?
I swallow fire.
I'll not believe it.
HANS the Butcher
I'm Hans the Butcher.
Oh, no! I couldn't hurt them.
'T is a fool!
[The PIPER motions to MICHAEL and CHEAT-THE-DEVIL, who during
the following join the other player-folk, strike their tent,
pack their bundles, and wheel off the bar rows that have served
them for an Ark, leaving the space clear before the Shrine.
Exeunt Strollers, all but MICHAEL, who hangs about, still gazing
Good people, we have wasted time enow.
You see this fellow, that he has no writ--
Why not, then? 'T was a bargain. If your word
Hold only when 't is writ--
We cannot spend
Clerkship on them that neither write nor read.
What good would parchment do thee?
My good man--
Who says I cannot read?--Who says I cannot?
Piper, don't tell me you can read in books!
Books! Where's a book? Shew me a book, I say!
The Holy Book! Bring that--or he'll bewitch you.
Oh, never fear. I charm but fools and children;
Now that the rats are gone.--Bring me a Book:
A big one!--
[Murmurs. The PIPER defiant. The crowd moves towards the
Minster. Enter ANSELM the priest, with a little acolyte,--the
two bearing a large illuminated Gospel-book. ANSELM, eyeing
the PIPER gravely, opens the book, which the boy supports on
his head and shoulders.
Ho, 't is too heavy! Come, you cherub-head,
Here's too much laid upon one guardian angel!
[Beckons another small boy, and sets the book on their two backs.
Well?--well? What now?
[He looks in frank bewilderment at the eager crowd.
He cannot read.
Turn--turn--there's nothing there.
[ANSELM turns pages. PIPER looks on blankly]
. . . Ah, turn again!
The red one!--
[He takes his fife from his belt]
No, the green! The green one. So.
[Starts to pipe, looking on the book.]
( Sure 't is a mad-man!
( But hear him piping!
( What is he doing?
[puzzled at their mirth]
What the green one says.--
[A burst of laughter from the crowd. JAN, the little lame boy
on the steps, reaches his arms out suddenly and gives a cry of
Oh, I love the Man!
[He goes, with his crutch, to the PIPER, who turns and gathers
[to the People]
Leave off this argument.
Go in to Mass.
[in a rage]
Hence, wandering dog!
Oho!--Well, every Saint may have his day.
But there are dog-days coming.--Eh, your worship?
[To ANSELM, suddenly]
You, there! You--Brother--Father--Uncle--You!
Speak! Will you let them in, to say their prayers
And mock me through their fingers?--Tell these men
To settle it, among their mouldy pockets,
Whether they keep their oath. Then will I go.
Away with you!--
The Piper should be heard;
Ye know it well. Render to Caesar, therefore,
That which is Caesar's.
--Give the Devil his due!
We must take counsel over such a sum.
[Beckoning others, he and KURT go into the Rathaus, followed
by all the men. Exit ANSELM with the Holy Book into the
Minster.--The children play Mouse, to and fro, round about
the PIPER.--The women, some of them, spin on the doorsteps,
with little hand distaff's, or stand about, gossiping.
[The PIPER wipes his forehead and goes up slowly (centre) to
drink from the fountain at the foot of the Shrine.--MICHAEL,
like one in a dream, comes down towards BARBARA, who gazes back
at him, fascinated, through her laughter.
Is it for pay you loiter, Master Player?
Were you not paid enough?
No.--One more look.
Here, then.--Still not enough?
No! One more smile.
Why would you have me smile?
Oh, when you smiled,
It was--it was like sunlight coming through
Some window there,
[Pointing to the Minster]
--some vision of Our Lady.
[She drops her flowers.--He picks them up
and gives them back slowly.
Who are you? You are some one in disguise.
A man--that passes for a mountebank.
Thou art of noble birth.
'T is some disguise, this playing with the fire!
Yes.--For to-day, I lord it with the fire.
But it hath burned me, here.
[Touching his breast.]
[Overcome for the moment, she draws away.--
The PIPER, coming down, speaks stealthily to MICHAEL,
who is still gazing.
For all our sakes!
There is bad weather breeding.--Take to thy heels.
[BARBARA turns back to see MICHAEL withdrawing reluctantly,
and throws a rose to him with sudden gayety.
Farewell to you, Sword-Swallower!--farewell!
Farewell to you, my Lady, in-the-Moon.
[JAN clings once more to the PIPER, while the other children
hang about. VERONIKA calls to her boy, from the steps.
Is this your Boy?
Ay, he is mine;
My only one. He loved thy piping so.
And I loved his.
Poor little boy! He's lame!
'T is all of us are lame! But he, he flies.
Jan, stay here if you will, and hear the pipe,
Mother lets me stay
Here with the Lonely Man.
The Lonely Man?
[JAN points to the Christ in the Shrine. VERONIKA crosses herself.
The PIPER looks long at the little boy.
He always calls Him so.
And so would I.
It grieves him that the Head is always bowed,
And stricken. But he loves more to be here
Than yonder in the church.
And so do I.
What would you, darling, with the Lonely Man?
What do you wait to see?
To see Him smile.
[The women murmur. The PIPER comes down
further to speak to VERONIKA.
You are some foreign woman. Are you not?
Never from Hamelin!
[to her child]
Then run along.
And ask the Piper if he'll play again
The tune that charmed the rats.
They might come back!
[calling from her window]
Piper! I want the tune that charmed the rats!
If they come back, I'll have my grandson play it.
I pipe but for the children.
[dropping her doll and picking it up]
Oh, do pipe
Something for Fridolin!
Oh, pipe at me!
Now I'm a mouse! I'll eat you up! Rr--rr!--
Oh, pipe! Oh, play! Oh, play and make us dance!
Oh, play, and make us run away from school!
Why, what are these?
[scampering round him]
We're mice, we're mice, we're mice! . . .
We're mice, we're mice! We'll eat up everything!
'T is church-time. La, what will the neighbors say?
[Waving her doll]
Oh, please do play something for Fridolin!
Do hear the child. She's quite the little mother!
A little mother? Ugh! How horrible.
That fairy thing, that princess,--no, that Child!
A little mother?
Drop the ugly thing!
Now, on my word! and what's amiss with mothers?
Are mothers horrible?
[The PIPER is struck with painful memories.]
No, no. But--care
And want and pain and age. . .
[Turns back to them with a bitter change of voice]
And penny-counting.--Penny prides and fears--
Of what the neighbors say the neighbors say!--
And were you born without a mother, then?
Yes, you there! Ah, I told you! He's no man.
He's of the devil.
Who was your mother, then?
Mine!--Nay, I do not know. For when I saw her,
She was a thing so trodden, lost and sad,
I cannot think that she was ever young,
Save in the cherishing voice.--She was a stroller;
My father was a stroller.--So, you have it!
And since she clave to him, and hunger too,
The Church's ban was on her.--Either live,
Mewed up forever,--she! to be a nun;
Or keep her life-long wandering with the wind;
The very name of wife stript from her troth.
That was my mother.--And she starved and sang;
And like the wind, she roved and lurked and shuddered
Outside your lighted windows, and fled by,
Storm-hunted, trying to outstrip the snow,
South, south, and homeless as a broken bird,--
Limping and hiding!--And she fled, and laughed,
And kept me warm; and died! To you, a Nothing;
Nothing, forever, oh, you well-housed mothers!
As always, always for the lighted windows
Of all the world, the Dark outside is nothing;
And all that limps and hides there in the dark;
And I have sworn
For her sake and for all, that I will have
Some justice, all so late, for wretched men,
Out of these same smug towns that drive us forth
After the show!--Or scheme to cage us up
Out of the sunlight; like a squirrel's heart
Torn out and drying in the market-place.
My mother! Do you know what mothers are?--
Your children! Do you know them? Ah, not you!
There's not one here but it would follow me,
For all your bleating!
Kuno, come away!
[The children cling to him. He smiles down triumphantly.
Oho, Oho! Look you?--You preach--I pipe!
[Reenter the men, with KURT and JACOBUS,
from the Rathaus, murmuring dubiously.
[The PIPER sets down JAN and stands forth, smiling.
H'm! My good man, we have faithfully debated
Whether your vision of so great a sum
Might be fulfilled,--as by some miracle.
But no. The moneys we administer
Will not allow it; nor the common weal.
Therefore, for your late service, here you have
Full fifteen guilders,
[Holding forth a purse]
and a pretty sum
Indeed, for piping!
Or, to speak truly, nothing!
[The PIPER is motionless]
Come, come. Nay, count them, if you will.
Ay. And your oath?
No more; Enough.
[There is a sound of organ music from the Minster.]
[savagely to the crowd]
What do ye, mewling of this fellow's rights?
He hath none!--Wit ye well, he is a stroller,
A wastrel, and the shadow of a man!
Ye waste the day and dally with the law.
Such have no rights; not in their life nor body!
We are in no wise bound. Nothing is his.
He may not carry arms; nor have redress
For any harm that men should put on him,
Saving to strike a shadow on the wall!
He is a Nothing, by the statute-book;
And, by the book, so let him live or die,
Like to a masterless dog!
[The PIPER stands motionless with head up-raised, not looking
at KURT. The people, half-cowed, half-doubting, murmur and
draw back. Lights appear in the Minster; the music continues.
KURT and JACOBUS lead in the people. JACOBUS picks up the
money-purse and takes it with him.
One thousand guilders to a 'masterless dog'!
[Others laugh too, pass by, with pity and derision for the PIPER,
and echoes of 'MASTERLESS DOG!' Exeunt WOMEN and MEN to the
Minster. Only the children are left, dancing round the motionless
figure of the PIPER.
Oh, pipe again! Oh, pipe and make us dance!
Oh, pipe and make us run away from school!
Oh, pipe and make believe we are the mice!
[He looks down at them. He looks up at the houses. Then he signs
to them, with his finger on his lips; and begins, very softly, to
pipe the Kinder-spell. The old CLAUS and URSULA in the windows
seem to doze.
The children stop first, and look at him, fascinated; then
they laugh, drowsily, and creep closer,--JAN always near.
They crowd around him. He pipes louder, moving backwards,
slowly, with magical gestures, towards the little by-streets
and the closed doors. The doors open, everywhere.
Out come the children: little ones in night gowns; bigger ones,
with playthings, toy animals, dolls. He pipes, gayer and louder.
They pour in, right and left. Motion and music fill the air.
The PIPER lifts JAN to his shoulder (dropping the little crutch)
and marches off, up the street at the rear, piping, in the midst
of them all.
Last, out of the Minster come tumbling two little acolytes in
red, and after them, PETER the Sacristan. He trips over them in
his amazement and terror; and they are gone after the vanishing
children before the church-people come out.
The old folks lean from their windows.
The bell, the bell! the church bell! They're bewitched!
[Peter rushes to the bell-rope and pulls it. The bell sounds
heavily. Reenter, from the church, the citizens by twos and
threes and scores.
I told ye all,--I told ye!--Devils' bargains!
[KURT, JACOBUS, and the others appear.]
Peter the Sacristan! Give by the bell.
What means this clangor?
PETER the Sacristan
They're bewitched! bewitched!
[Still pulling and shouting.]
They're gone--they're gone--they're gone!
PETER the Sacristan
--With the Piper! They're bewitched!
I told ye so.
--I saw it with these eyes!
He piped away the children.
[Horror in the crowd. They bring out lanterns and candles.
VERONIKA holds up the forgotten crutch'
Thy boy! But mine, my three, all fair and straight.--
[furiously to him]
'T was thy false bargain, thine; who would not pay
The Piper.--But we pay!
PETER the Sacristan
The boys ran out--and I ran after them,
And something red did trip me--'t was the Devil.
Ah, ring on, and crack the bell:
Ye'll never have them back.--I told ye so!
[The bell clangs incessantly]
SCENE I: Inside 'the Hollow Hill.'
A great, dim-lighted, cavernous place, which shows signs of masonry.
It is part cavern and part cellarage of a ruined, burned-down and
forgotten old monastery in the hills.--The only entrance (at the
centre rear), a ramshackle wooden door, closes against a flight
of rocky steps.--Light comes from an opening in the roof, and from
the right, where a faggot-fire glows under an iron pot.--The scene
reaches (right and left) into dim corners, where sleeping children
lie curled up together like kittens.
By the fire sits the PIPER, on a tree-stump seat, stitching at a bit
of red leather. At his feet is a row of bright-colored small shoes,
set two and two. He looks up now and then, to recount the children,
and goes back to work, with quizzical despair.
Left, sits a group of three forlorn Strollers. One nurses a lame
knee; one, evidently dumb, talks in signs to the others; one is
munching bread and cheese out of a wallet. All have the look of
hunted and hungry men. They speak only in whispers to each other
throughout the scene; but their hoarse laughter breaks out now and
then over the bird-like ignorance of the children.
A shaft of sunlight steals through the hole in the roof. JAN, who
lies nearest the PIPER, wakes up.
[The PIPER turns]
Oh, I thought. . . I had a dream!
I thought. . . I dreamed. . . somebody wanted me.
I thought. . . Somebody Wanted me.
[With watchful tenderness.]
I thought I heard Somebody crying.
Pfui!--What a dream.--Don't make me cry again.
Oh, was it you?--Oh, yes!
No Michael yet!
[JAN begins to laugh softly, in a bewildered way; then grows
quite happy and forgetful. While the other children waken, he
reaches for the pipe and tries to blow upon it, to the PIPER'S
amusement. ILSE and HANSEL, the Butcher's children, wake.
I thought I had a dream.
. . . It was some lady, calling me.
Yes, and a fat man called us to come quick;
A fat man, he was crying--about me!
That same fat man I dreamt of, yesterday.
Come, did you ever see a fat man cry,
About a little Boy?
[The Strollers are convulsed with hoarse mirth.
Oh, what a funny dream!
[They giggle together.]
[The PIPER silences the Strollers, with a gesture of warning
towards the rocky door.
'T is Hans the Butcher.
[To the Children]
Well, what did he say?
'_Come home, come home, come home_!' But I didn't go.
I don't know where. . . Oh, what a funny dream!
Mine was a bad dream!--Mine was a lovely lady
And she was by the river, staring in.
You were the little gold-fish, none could catch.
Oh, what a funny dream! . . .
No Michael yet.
Come, bread and broth! Here--not all, three at a time;
'T is simpler. Here, you kittens. Eat awhile;
Oh! I had a dream,--an awful dream!
[The PIPER takes JAN on his knee and feeds him, after ladling out
a big bowl of broth from the kettle for the Children, and giving
Oh! oh! I had a dream!
Oh, tell it to us!
I dreamed. . . a Stork. . . had nested in my hat.
And when I woke--
_One hundred children_!
Oh, it came true! Oh, oh; it all came true!
Ah, ho, ho, ho!
[The dumb one rises, stretches, and steals toward the entrance, stopping
to slip a blind-patch over one eye. The PIPER goes to him with one stride,
seizing him by the shoulder.
[to him, and the others, apart]
Look you.--No Michael _yet_!--And he is gone
Full three days now,--three days. If he be caught,
Why then,--the little ravens shall be fed!
[Groans from the three]
Enough that Cheat-the-Devil leaked out too;--
No foot but mine shall quit this fox-hole now!
And you,--think praise for once, you have no tongue,
And keep these magpies quiet. [Turns away.
Ah, that girl.
The Burgomeister's Barbara! But for her,
And moon-struck Michael with his 'one more look'!
Where is he now?--And where are we?
[Turning back to the Children] So, so.
[The Strollers huddle together, with looks of renewed anxiety and
wretchedness.--Their laughter at the Children breaks out forlornly now
and then.--The PIPER shepherds the Children, but with watchful eyes and
ears toward the entrance always.
--His action grows more and more tense.
[over his broth]
Oh, I remember now!--Before I woke. . .
Oh, what an awful dream!
Oh, tell us, Rudi,--
Oh, scare us,--Rudi, scare us!--
[bursting into tears]
. . . _Lump was dead_!
Lump, Lump!-- [The Children wail.
[shocked and pained]
The Dog!--No, no.
Heaven save us--I forgot about the dogs!
He Wanted me;--and I always wasn't there!
And people tied him up,--and other people
Pretended that he bit.--He never bites!
He Wanted me, until it broke his heart,
And he was dead!
[struggling with his emotion]
And then he went to heaven,
To chase the happy cats up all the trees;--
Little white cats! . . . He wears a golden collar . . .
And sometimes--[Aside]--I'd forgot about the dogs!
Well, dogs must suffer, so that men grow wise.
'T was ever so.
[He turns to give JAN a piping lesson]
Oh, what a funny dream!
[Suddenly he lifts his hand. They listen, and hear a dim sound of distant
chanting, going by on some neighboring road. The PIPER is puzzled; the
Strollers are plainly depressed.
What is it?
People; passing down below,
In the dark valley.
[He looks at the Children fixedly]
Do you want to see them?
Don't let them find us! What an ugly noise.--
No, no--don't let them come!
Hark ye to me.
Some day I'll take you out with me to play;
High in the sun,--close to the water-fall . . . .
And we will make believe--_We'll make believe
We're hiding_! . . .
[The Strollers rock with mirth.]
Yes, yes! Oh, let us make believe!
Oho, ho, ho!--A make-believe!--Ho, ho!
But, if you're good,--yes, very, very soon
I'll take you, as I promised,--
Yes, with the gypsies. We shall go at night,
With just a torch--
Like fire-flies! Will-o'-the-wisps!
And make believe we're hiding, all the way,
Till we come out into a sunny land,--
All vines and sunlight, yes, and men that sing!
Far, far away--forever.
[Gives ILSE a bowl to feed the other children]
[JAN pipes a measure of the Kinder-spell, brokenly. The PIPER turns.
So! Thou'lt be
My master, some day. Thou shalt pipe for me.
Oh, wasn't that one beautiful?--Now you!
[taking the pipe]
The rainbow-bridge by day;
--And borrow a shepherd-crook!
At night we take to the Milky Way;
And then we follow the brook!
We'll follow the brook, whatever way
The brook shall sing, or the sun shall say,
Or the mothering wood-dove coos!
And what do I care, what else I wear,
If I keep my rainbow shoes!
[He points to the little row of bright shoes. The Children scream with
joy. ILSE and HANSEL run back.
Oh dear! What lovely shoes! Oh, which are mine?
Oh! Oh!--What lovely shoes! Oh, which are mine?
Try, till you see.
[Taking up a little red pair]
But these,--these are for Jan.
[JAN is perched on the tree-stump, shy and silent with pleasure.
Oh, those are best of all! And Jan--
Is not to trudge, like you. Jan is to wear
Beautiful shoes, and shoes made most of all,
To look at!
[Takes up a pair of bird's wings.]
Oh! Where did you find the wings?
There was some hunter in the woods,
Who killed more birds than he could carry home.
He did not want these,--though the starling did,
But could not use them more! And so,--
[Fastening one to each heel]
They trim a little boy.
[Puts them on JAN. He is radiant. He stretches out his legs and pats
[trying on theirs and capering]
O Jan!--O Jan!
Oh! see my shoes!
[The PIPER looks at JAN.]
Hey day, what now?
I wish. . .
What do you wish? Wish for it!--It shall come.
[JAN pulls him closer and speaks shyly.]
I wish--that I could show them--to the Man,
The Lonely Man.
[The PIPER looks at him and backs away; sits down helplessly and looks
at him again.
Oh, can I?--
Thou!--'T would make me a proud man.
Oh! it would make Him smile!
[The Children dance and caper. TRUDE wakes up and joins them. Sound
of distant chanting again.
I had a dream!
[Pretending to be amazed. Reflects, a moment]
I know!--Oh, what a funny dream!
[The Children all fall a-laughing when he does.--Noise without.
Cheat-the-Devil's voice crying, 'Cuckoo--Cuckoo!'
Quick, quick!--I've something here.
[The others roll away a big stone, and enter by the wooden door (rear),
CHEAT-THE-DEVIL. He does not wear his red hood. He has a garland round
his neck, and a basket on his arm.
[sharply to himself]
No Michael yet!
Look you,--you must wait.
We must be cunning.--There's a squirrel, mark you,
Hopped after me! He would have found us out.
I wanted him; I loved him. But I ran.
For once a squirrel falls a-talking.--Ah!
Look what I have.--Guess, guess!
[Showing his basket to the Children.']
[He is sad]
[He is sadder]
[He radiantly undoes his basket, and displays a honeycomb. The Strollers,
too, rush upon him.
Ah, Cheat-the-Devil! They would crop your ears.
Where had you this?
Why, such a kind old farmer!
He'd left his bee-hives; they were all alone;
And the bees know me. So I brought this for you;
I knew They 'd like it.--Oh, you're happy now!
But Michael,--have they caught him?
Oh, not they!
I heard no word of Michael; Michael's safe!
Once on the road I met a countryman,
Asked me the way. And not a word I spoke!
'Tis far the wisest. Twenty riddles he asked me.
I smiled and wagged my head. Anon cries he,
This Fool is deaf and dumb!'--That made me angry,
But still I spoke not.--And I would not hurt him!
He was a bad man. But I liked the mule.--
Now am I safe!--Now am I home at last!
'St.--Met you any people on the way,
No, growling,--growling dreary psalms
All on a sunny day! Behind the hedges,
I saw them go. They go from Hamelin, now;
And I know why!--
[The PIPER beckons him away from the Children.
The mayor's Barbara
Must go to Rudersheim, to be a Nun!
To be a Nun!
A penance for them all.
She weeps; but she must go! All they, you see,
Are wroth against him.--He must give _his_ child--
Forever!--She, who smiled at Michael.
Look you, she weeps! They are bad people all;--
Nothing like these. [Looking at the Children.
These are all beautiful.
To lock her up! A maiden, shut away
Out of the light. To cage her there for life,
Cut off her hair; pretend that she is dead!--
Horrible, horrible! No, I'll not endure it.
I'll end this murder.--He shall give up his;
But never so!--Not so!--While I do live
To let things out of cages!--Tell me, quick!--
When shall it happen?
Why, it falls to-day.
I saw two herds of people going by,
To be there well aforetime, for the sight.
And she is going last of all, at noon;
All sparkling, like a Bride.--I heard them tell.
No, never, never!--No, it shall not be!
[Steps heard scrambling down the entrance-way.
[Enter MICHAEL in mad haste. They rush upon him with exultation and
relief. He shakes them off, doggedly.
So!--You had like to have hanged us.
--What of that?
All for a lily maiden.
How will it save her?--_Save her_! Tune thy pipe
To compass that!--You do not know--
Tell me no more.--I say it shall not be!
To heel, lad! No, I follow,--none but I!
Go,--go! [MICHAEL rushes out again.
[To CHEAT-THE-DEVIL, pointing to the Children]
Do you bide here and shepherd these.
Where are you going?--Take us too!--us too!--
Oh, take us with you?--Take us!
No, no, no!
You shall be kittens all. And chase your tails,
Till I come back!--So here!
[Catches HANSEL and affixes to his little jacket a long strip of leather
for a tail; then whirls him about.
Me too!--Me too!
Let me make tails,--let me!
[Seizing shears and leather.]
Faith, and you shall.
A master tailor!--Come, here's food for thought.
[To the Strollers]
And hold your tongues, there!--
If a Cat--
If a Cat have--as all men say--Nine Lives,
And if Nine Tailors go to make a Man,
How long, then, shall it take one Man turned Tailor
To keep a Cat in Tails, until she die?
[CHEAT-THE-DEVIL looks subdued; the children whirl about.
But here's no game for Jan.--Stay! Something else.--
[He runs to a wooden coffer, rear, and takes out a long crystal on the
end of a string, with a glance at the shaft of sunlight from the roof.
The Children watch.
Be quiet, now.--Chase not your tails too far,
Till I come home again.
Come home--come home!
And you shall see my--
Oh, oh, what is it?--Oh, and will it play?
Will it play music?
[He hangs the crystal in the sun. A Rainbow strikes the wall.
--The best of all!
CHEAT-THE-DEVIL, JAN, CHILDREN
Oh, oh, how beautiful,--how beautiful!
And hear it pipe and call, and dance, and sing.
Heja!--And hark you all. You have to mind--
[He climbs out, pipe in hand. The Children whirl about after their
tails.--CHEAT-THE-DEVIL, and JAN on his tree-stump, open-mouthed with
happiness, watch the Rainbow.
SCENE II: The Cross-ways: on the Long Road to Rudersheim.
A wooded country: high hills at back. The place is wild and overgrown,
like the haunted spot it is reputed to be. In the foreground, right,
a ruined stone well appears, in a mass of weeds and vines. Opposite,
left, tall trees and dense thickets. Where the roads cross (to left of
centre), stands a large, neglected shrine, with a weather-worn figure
of Christ,--again the 'Lonely Man'--facing towards Hamelin.--The stage
is empty, at rise of the curtain; but the sound of chanting from burghers
just gone by fades slowly, on the road to Rudersheim.
From the hillside at the rear comes the PIPER, wrapped in a long green
cloak, his pipe in his hand. He looks after the procession, and back
to Hamelin.--Enter, springing from the bushes to the right, MICHAEL,
who seizes him.
Their speech goes breathlessly.
Patience?--Death and hell!
Oh, save her--save her! Give the children back.
Never. Have you betrayed us?
So, so, lad.
But to save her--
There's a way,--
Trust me! I save her, or we swing together
Merrily, in a row.--How did you see her?
By stealth: two days ago, at evening,
Hard by the vine-hid wall of her own garden,
I made a warbling like a nightingale;
And she came out to hear.
Under the halter!
Hush.--A death-black night,
Until she came.--Oh, how to tell thee, lad!
She came,--she came, not for the nightingale,
But even dreaming that it would be I!
She knew you?--We are trapped, then.
No, not so!
She smiled on me.--Dost thou remember how
She smiled on me that day? Alas, poor maid,
She took me for some noble in disguise!
And all these days,--she told me,--she had dreamed
That I would come to save her!
Said she this?
All this--all this, and more! . . .
What could lies do?--I lied to her of thee;
I swore I knew not of thy vanishment,
Nor the lost children. But I told her true,
I was a stroller and an outcast man
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