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Full text of "Miss Julie and other plays"

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MISS JULIE 



THE MODERN LIBRARY 



OSCAR WILDE 

Dorian Gray 

Poems 
STRINDBERG 

Married 

Miss Julie and otkr plays 
KIPLING 

Soldiers Three 
STEVENSON 

Treasure Islund 
HENRIK IBSEN 

A Doll's House, Etc. 

Hedda Gabler, Etc. 
ANATOLE FRANCE 

The Red Lily 

The Crime of Sylvestre 

Bonnard 
DE MAUPASSANT 

Mademoiselle Fin, Etc. 
DOSTOYEVSKY 

Poor People 
MAETERLINCK 

A Miracle of St Antony, 

Etc. 
SCHOPENHAUER 

Studies in Pessimism 
SAMUEL BUTLER 

The Way of All Flesh 
GEORGE MEREDITH 

Diana of the Crossways 
G. B. SHAW 

An Unsocial Socialist 
GEO. MOORE 

Confessions of a Youfcg 

Man 
THOMAS HARDY 

Mayor of Casterb ridge 
THOS. SELTZER 

Best Russian Stories 
NIETZSCHE 

Beyond Good and Brll 

Thus Spake Zaratbustra 
TURGENEV 

Fathers and Boos 
SWINBURNE 

Poems 
WM. DEAN HOWELLS 

A Hazard of NaW Fortunes 
W. S. GILBERT 

The Mikado and others 

Other Titles 



GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Madame Bovary 
JAMES STEPHENS 

Mary, Mary 
ANTON CHEKHOV 

Rothschild's Fiddle, Etc. 
ARTHUR SCHNITZLER 

Anatol and other plays 

Bertha Garlan 
SUDERMANN 

Dame Care 
LORD DUNSANY 

A Dreamer's Tales 

The Book of Wonder 
G. K. CHESTERTON 

The Man Who Was 

Thursday 
H. G. WELLS 

The War in the Air 

Ann Veronica 
HAECKEL, WEISMANN.EtC 

Evolution in Modern 

Thought 
FRANCIS THOMPSON 

Complete Poems 
RODIN 

Art of Rodin 
AUBREY BEARDSLEY 

Art of Aubrey Beardsley 
BALZAC 

Short Stories 
EDWARD CARPENTER 

Love's Coming of Age 
LEONID ANDREYEV 

The Seven that Were 

Hanged 
MAXIM GORKY 

Creatures that Oace Were 

Mn 
MAX BEERBOHM 

Zuleika Dobson 
MAX STIRNER 

The EKO and His Own 
GEORGE GISSING 

Private Papers of Hery 

Ryecroft 
VOLTAIRE 

Candide 
W. B. YEATS 

Irish Fairy and Folk Tales 
in Preparation 



Many volume 5 contain introdnctiont by well-known modern Attor 
written specially for the Modern LiWary. 



Miss Julie and Other Plays 

By AUGUST STRINDBERG 



BONI AND LIVERIGHT, INC. 



PUBLISHERS 



NEW YORK 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Miss JULIE 3 

THE CREDITOR . . . . 5 1 

THE STRONGER WOMAN . . ... 109 
MOTHERLY LOVE . * . . .119 
PARIA . . . . - *39 
SIMOON J 59 



2072130 



Miss JULIE, aged twenty-five. 
JOHN, a servant, aged thirty. 
CHRISTINE, a cook, aged thirty-five. 



MISS JULIE 



The action of the play takes place on Midsummer 
Night, in the Count's kitchen. 

CHRISTINE stands on the left, by the hearth, and fries' 
something in a pan. She has on a light blouse and a 
kitchen apron. JOHN comes in through the glass door in 
livery. He holds in his hand a pair of big riding boots 
with spurs, which he places on the noor at the back, in a 
visible position. 

John. Miss Julie is mad again to-night absolutely 
mad! 

Christine. Oh ! And so you're here, are you ? 

John. I accompanied the Count to the station, and 
when I passed the barn on my way back I went in to 
have a dance. At that time Miss Julie was dancing with 
that man Forster. When she noticed me, she made 
straight for me and asked me to be her partner in the 
waltz, and from that moment she danced in a way such 
as I've never seen anything of the kind before. She is 
simply crazy. 

Christine. She's always been that, but never as much 
as in the last fortnight, since the engagement was broken 
off. 

John. Yes ; what an affair that was, to be sure. The 
man was certainly a fine fellow, even though he didn't 
have much cash. Well, to be sure, they have so many 
whims and fancies. [He sits down at the right by the 
table.] In any case, it's strange that the young lady 
should prefer to stay at home with the servants rather 
than to accompany her father to her relations', isn't it? 

3 



4 MISS JULIE 

Christine. Yes. The odds are that she feels herself a 
little embarrassed after the affair with her young man. 

John. Maybe; but at any rate he was a good chap. 
Do you know, Christine, how it came about? I saw the 
whole show, though I didn't let them see that I noticed 
anything. 

Christine. What ! You saw it ? 

John. Yes, that I did. They were one evening down 
there in the stable, and the young lady was "training" 
him, as she called it. What do you think she was doing? 
She made him jump over the riding whip like a dog 
which one is teaching to hop. He jumped over twice, 
and each time he got a cut, but the third time he snatched 
her riding whip out of her hand, smashed it into smith- 
ereens and cleared out. 

Christine. Was that it? No, you can't mean it? 

John. Yes, that was how it happened. Can't you give 
me something nice to eat, now, Christine? 

Christine. [Takes up the {ran and puts it before 
JOHN.] Well, there's only a little bit of liver, which I've 
cut off the joint. 

John. [Sniffs the food.} Ah, very nice, that's my 
special dish. [He feels the plate.] But you might have 
warmed up the plate. 

Christine. Why, you're even more particular than the 
Count himself, once you get going. [She draws her 
fingers caressingly through his hair.] 

John.. [Wickedly.] Ugh, you mustn't excite me like 
that, you know jolly well how sensitive I am. 

Christine. There, there now, it was only because I 
love you. 

John. [Eats. CHRISTINE gets out a bottle of beer.] 
Beer on Midsummer's Night! Not for me, thank you. 
I can go one better than that myself. [He opens the side- 
board and takes out a bottle of red wine with a yellow 
label.] Yellow label, do you see, dear? Just give me a 



MISS JULIE 5 

glass. A wineglass, of course, when a fellow's going 
to drink neat wine. 

Christine. [Turns again toward the fireplace and puts 
a small saucepan on.] God pity the woman who ever 
gets you for a husband, a growler like you ! 

John. Oh, don't jaw! You'd be only too pleased if 
you only got a fellow like me, and I don't think for a 
minute that you're in any way put out by my being 
called your best boy. [Tastes the wine.] Ah! very nice, 
very nice. Not quite mellowed enough though, that's the 
only thing. [He warms the glass with his hand.] We 
bought this at Dijon. It came to four francs the liter, 
without the glass, and then there was the duty as well. 
What are you cooking there now? It makes the most 
infernal stink? 

Christine. Oh, that's just some assafoetida, which Miss 
Julie wants to have for Diana. 

John. You ought to express yourself a little more 
prettily, Christine. Why have you got to get up on a 
holiday evening and cook for the brute? Is it ill, eh? 

Christine. Yes, it is. It slunk out to the dog in the 
courtyard, and there it played the fool, and the young 
lady doesn't want to know anything about it, do you see ? 

John. Yes, in one respect the young lady is too proud, 
and in another not proud enough. Just like the Countess 
was when she was alive. She felt most at home in the 
kitchen, and in the stable, but she would never ride a 
horse; she'd go about with dirty cuffs, but insisted on 
having the Count's coronet on the buttons. The young 
lady, so far now as she is. concerned, doesn't take enough 
trouble about either herself or her person ; in a manner 
of speaking she is not refined. Why, only just now, 
when she was dancing in the barn, she snatched Forster 
away from Anna, and asked him to dance with herself. 
We wouldn't behave like that ; but that's what happens 
when the gentry make themselves cheap. Then they are 



6 MISS JULIE 

cheap, and no mistake about it. But she is real stately! 
Superb ! Whew ! What shoulders, what a bust and 

Christine. Ye-e-s ; but she makes up a good bit, too. 
I know what Clara says, who helps her to dress. 

John. Oh, Clara! You women are always envious of 
each other. I've been out with her and seen her ride, 
and then how she dances ! 

Christine. I say, John, won't you dance with me when 
I'm ready? 

John. Of course I will. 

Christine. Promise me? 

John. Promise? If I say I'll do a thing, then I al- 
ways do it. Anyway, thanks very much for the food, 
it was damned good. [He puts the cork back into' the 
bottle. The young lady, at the glass door, speaks to 
people outside.] I'll be back in a minute. [He conceals 
the bottle of wine in a napkin, and stands up respectfully.] 

Julie. [Enters and goes to CHRISTINE by the fire- 
place.} Well, is it ready? 

Christine. [Intimates to her by signs that JOHN is 
present.] 

John. [Gallantly.] Do the ladies want to talk secrets ? 

Julie. [Strikes hint in the face with her handker- 
chief.] Is he inquisitive? 

John. Ah! what a nice smell of violets. 

Julie. [Coquettishly.] Impudent person! Is the fel- 
low then an expert in perfumes? [She goes behind the 
table.] 

John. [With gentle affectation.] Have you ladies 
then been brewing a magic potion this Midsummer Night ? 
Something so as to be able to read one's fortunes in the 
stars, so that you get a sight of the future ? 

Julie. [Sharply.] Yes, if he manages to see that, he 
must have very good eyes. [To CHRISTINE.] Pour it 
into a half bottle and cork it securely. Let the man come 



MISS JULIE 7 

now and dance the schottische with me. John? [She 
lets her handkerchief fall an the tafrle.] 

John. [Hesitating.] I don't want to be disobliging 
to anybody, but I promised Christine this dance. 

Jidie. Oh, well, she can get somebody else. [She goes 
to CHRISTINE.] What do you- say, Christine? Won't 
you lend me John? 

Christine. I haven't got any say in the matter. If you 
are so condescending, Miss, it wouldn't at all do for him 
to refuse. You just go and be grateful for such an 
honor. 

John. Speaking frankly, and without meaning any 
offence, do you think it's quite wise, Miss Julie, to dance 
twice in succession with the same gentleman, particularly 
as the people here are only too ready to draw all kinds 
of conclusions ? 

Julie. [Explodes.] What da you mean? What con- 
clusion? What does the man mean? 

John.. [Evasively.] As you won't understand me, 
Miss, I must express myself more clearly. It doesn't 
look well to prefer one of your inferiors to others who 
expect the same exceptional honor. 

Julie. Prefer? What idea is the man getting into his 
head? I am absolutely astonished. I, the mistress of 
the house, honor my servants' dance with my presence, 
and if I actually want to dance I want to do it with a 
man who can steer, so that I haven't got the bore of 
being laughed at. 

John. I await your orders, miss ; I am at your service. 

Julie. [Softly.] Don't talk now of orders ; this even- 
ing we're simply merry men and women at a revel, and 
we lay aside all rank. Give me your arm ; don't be un- 
easy, Christine, I'm not going to entice your treasure 
away from you. 

[JOHN offers her his arm and leads her through the 
glass door. CHRISTINE alone. Faint violin music at some 



8 MISS JULIE 

distance to schottische time. CHRISTINE keeps time with 
the music, clears the table where JOHN had been eating, 
washes the plate at the side-table, dries it and puts it 
in the cupboard. She then takes off her kitchen apron, 
takes a small mirror out of the table drawer, puts it oppo- 
site the basket of lilacs, lights a taper, heats a hairpin, 
with which she curls her front hair; then she goes to the 
glass door and washes, comes back to the table, finds the 
young lady's handkerchief, which she has forgotten, takes 
it and smells it; she then pensively spreads it out, stretches 
it fiat' and folds it in four. JOHN comes back alone 
through the glass door.] 

John. Yes, she is mad, to dance like that ; and every- 
body stands by the door and grins at her. What do you 
say about it, Christine ? 

Christine. Ah, it's just her time, and then she always 
takes on so strange. But won't you come now and dance 
with me? 

John. .You aren't offended with me that I cut your 
last dance? 

Christine. No, not the least bit ; you know that well 
enough, and I know my place besides. 

John. [Puts his hand, round her waist.] You're a 
sensible girl, Christine, and you'd make an excellent 
housekeeper. 

Julie. [Comes in through the glass door. She is dis- 
agreeably surprised. W'ith forced humor.'] Charming 
cavalier you are, to be sure, to run away from your 
partner. 

John. On the contrary, Miss Julie, I've been hurrying 
all I know, as you see, to find the girl I left behind me. 

Julie. Do you know, none of the others dance like 
you do. But why do you go about in livery on a holiday 
evening? Take it off at once. 

John. In that case, miss, I must ask you to leave me 
for a moment, because my black coat hangs up here. [He 



MISS JULIE 9 

goes with a corresponding gesture toward the right.} 

Jidie. Is he bashful on my account? Just about 
changing" a coat ! Is he going into his room and coming 
back again? So far as I am concerned he can stay 
here ; I'll turn round. 

John. By your leave, miss. [He goes to the left, his 
arm is visible when he changes his coat.} 

Julie. [To CHRISTINE.] I say, Christine, is John your 
sweetheart, that he's so thick with you ? 

Christine. [Going, t'oward the fireplace.} My sweet- 
heart? Yes, if you like. We call it that. 

Jidie. Call it? 

Christine. Well, you yourself, Miss, had a sweetheart 
and 

Julie. Yes, we were properly engaged. 

Christine. But nothing at all came of it. [She sits 
down- and gradually goes to sleep.} 

John. [In a black coat and with a black hat.} 

Julie. Tres gentil, Monsieur Jean ; tres gentil ! 

John. Vous voulez plaisanter, madame! 

Julie. Et vous voulez parler f rangais ? And where did 
you pick that up? 

John. In Switzerland, when I was a waiter in one of 
the best hotels in Lucerne. 

Julie. But you look quite like a gentleman in that 
coat. Charming. [She sits down on the right, by the 
table.] 

John. Ah ! you're flattering me. 

Julie. [O if ended.] Flatter? You? 

John. My natural modesty won't allow me to imagine 
that you're paying true compliments to a man like me, 
so I took the liberty of supposing that you're exagger- 
ating or, in a manner of speaking, flattering. 

Julie. Where did you learn to string your words to- 
gether like that? You must have been to the theater 
a great deal? 



io MISS JULIE 

John. Quite right. I've been to no end of places. 

Julie. But you were born here in this neighborhood. 

John. My father was odd man to the State attorney 
of this parish, and I saw you, Miss, when you were a 
child, although you didn't notice me. 

Julie. Really ? 

John. Yes, and I remember one incident in particular. 
Um, yes I mustn't speak about that. 

Julie. Oh, yes you tell me. What? Just to please 
me. 

John. No, really I can't now. Perhaps some other 
time. 

Julie. Some other time means never. Come, is it 
then so dangerous to tell me now? 

John. It's not dangerous, but it's much best to leave 
it alone. Just look at her over there. [He points to 
CHRISTINE, who has gone to sleep in a chair by the fire- 
place.] % 

Julie. She'll make a cheerful wife. Perhaps she 
snores as well. 

John. She doesn't do that she speaks in her sleep. 

Julie. How do you know that she speaks in her sleep? 

John. I've heard it. [Pause in which they look at 
each other.] 

Julie. Why don't you sit down ? 

John. I shouldn't take such a liberty in your presence. 

Julie. And if I ofder you to 

John. Then I obey. 

Julie. Sit down ; but, wait a- moment, can't you give 
me something to drink? 

John. I don't know what's in the refrigerator. I 
don't think there's anything except beer. 

Julie. That's not to be sniffed at. Personally I'm so 
simple in my tastes that I prefer it to wine. 

John. [Takes a bottle out of the refrigerator and 
draws the cork; he looks in the cupboard for a glass and 



MISS JULIE ii 

plate, on which he serves the beer.] May I offer you 
some? 

Julie. Thanks. Won't you have some as well? 

John. I'm not what you might call keen on beer, but 
if you order me, Miss 

Julie. Order? It seems to me that as a courteous 
cavalier you might keep your partner company. 

John. A very sound observation. [He opens another 
bottle and takes a glass.] 

Julie. Drink my health ! [ JOHN hesitates.] I believe 
the old duffer is bashful. 

John. [On his knees, mock heroically, lifts up his 
glass.] The health of my mistress! 

Julie. Bravo! Now, as a finishing touch, you must 
kiss my shoe. [JOHN hesitates, then catches sharply hold 
of her foot and kisses it lightly.] First rate! You 
should have gone on the stage. 

John. [Gets up.] This kind of thing mustn't go any 
further, Miss. Anybody might come in and see us. 

Julie. What would it matter? 

John. People would talk, and make no bones about 
what they said either, and if you knew, Miss, how their 
tongues have already been wagging, then 

Julie. What did they say then ? Tell me, but sit down. 

John. [Sits down.] I don't want to hurt you, but 
you made use of expressions which pointed to innu- 
endoes of such a kind yes, you'll understand this per- 
fectly well yourself. You're not a child any more, and, 
if a lady is seen to drink alone with a man even if it's 
only a servant, tete-a-tete at night then 

Julie. What then? And, besides, we're not alone: 
Christine is here. 

John. Yes, asleep. 

Julie. Then I'll wake her up. [She gets up.] Christ 
tine, are you asleep? 

Christine. [In her sleep.] Bla bla bla bla. 



12 MISS JULIE 

Julie. Christine! The woman can go on sleeping. 

Christine. [In her sleep.} The Count's boots are al- 
ready done put the coffee out at once, at once, at once 
oh, oh ah ! 

Julie. [Takes hold of her by the nose.] Wake up, 
will you? 

John. [Harshly.] You mustn't disturb a person 
who's asleep. 

Julie. [Sharply.] What? 

John. A person who's been on her legs all day by the 
fireplace will naturally be tired when night comes; and 
sleep should be respected. 

Julie. [In another tone.] That's a pretty thought. 
and does you credit thank you. [She holds her hand 
out to JOHN.] Come out now and pick some clover for 
me. [During the subsequent dialogue CHRISTINE wakes 
up, and exit in a dosed condition to the right, to go to 
bed.] 

John. With you, Miss? 

Julie. With me? 

John. It's impossible, absolutely impossible. 

Julie. I don't understand what you mean. Can it be 
possible that you imagine such a thing for a single 
minute. 

John. Me no, but the people yes. 

Julie. What! That I should be in love with a ser- 
vant? 

John. I'm not by any means an educated man, but 
there have been cases, and nothing is sacred to the 
people. 

Julie. I do believe the man is an aristocrat. 

John. Yes; that I am. 

Julie. And I'm on the down path. 

John. Don't go down, Miss. Take my advice, nobody 
will believe that you went down of your own free will. 
People will always say you fell. 



MISS JULIE 13 

Julie. I have a better opinion of people than you have. 
Come and try. Come. [She challenges him with her 
eyes.] 

John. You are strange, you know. 

Julie. Perhaps I am, but so are you. Besides, every- 
thing is strange. Life, men, the whole thing is simply 
an iceberg which is driven out on the water until it sinks 
sinks. I have a dream which comes up now and again, 
and now it haunts me. I am sitting on the top of a 
high pillar and can't see any possibility of getting down ; 
I feel dizzy when I look down, but I have to get down 
all the same. I haven't got the pluck to throw myself 
off. I can't keep my balance and I want to fall over, 
but I don't fall. And I don't get a moment's peace 
until I'm down below. No rest until I've got to the 
ground, and when I've got down to the ground I want 
to get right into the earth. Have you ever felt any- 
thing like that? 

John. No; I usually dream I'm lying under a high 
tree in a gloomy forest. I want to get up right to the 
top and look round at the light landscape where the sun 
shines, and plunder the birds' nests where the golden eggs 
lie, and I climb and climb, but the trunk is so thick 
and so smooth, and it's such a long way to the first 
branch ; but I know, if only I can get to the first branch, 
I can climb to the top, as though it were a ladder. I 
haven't got there yet, but I must get there, even though 
it were only in my dreams. 

Julie. And here I am now standing chattering to you. 
Come along now, just out into the park. [She offers 
him her arm and they go.] 

John. We must sleep to-night on nine Midsummer 
Night herbs, then our dreams will come true. [Both 
turn round in the doorway. JOHN holds his hand be- 
fore one of his eyes.] 

Julie. Let me see what's got Into your eye. 



14 MISS JULIE 

John. Oh, nothing, only a bit of dust it'll be all 
right in a minute. 

Julie. It was the sleeve of my dress that grazed you. 
Just sit down and I'll help you get it out. [She takes 
him by the arm and makes him sit down on the table. 
She then takes his head and presses it down, and tries to 
get the dust out with the corner of her handkerchief.] 
Be quite still, quite still ! [She strikes him on the hand.] 
There! Will he be obedient now? I do believe the 
great strong man's trembling. [She feels his arm.] With 
arms like that! 

John. [Warningly.] Miss Julie 

Julie. Yes, Monsieur Jean. 

John. Attention! Je ne suis qu'un homme! 

Julie. Won't he sit still? See! It's out now! Let 
him kiss my hand and thank me. 

John. [Stands up.] Miss Julie, listen to me. Chris- 
tine has cleared out and gone to bed. Won't you listen 
to me? 

Julie. Kiss my hand first. 

John. Listen to me. 

Julie. Kiss my hand first. 

John. All right, but you must be responsible for the 
consequences. 

Julie. What consequences? 

John. What consequences ? Don't you know it's dan- 
gerous to play with fire? 

Julie. Not for me. I am insured! 

John. [Sharply.] No, you're not! And even if you 
were there's inflammable material pretty close. 

Julie. Do you mean yourself? 

John. Yes. Not that I'm particularly dangerous, but 
I'm just a young man ! 

Julie. With an excellent appearance what incredible 
vanity ! Don Juan, I suppose, or a Joseph. I believe, on 
my honor, the man's a Joseph ! 



MISS JULIE 15 

John. Do you believe that? 

Julie. I almost fear it. [JOHN goes brutally toward 
and tries to embrace her, so as to kiss her. JULIE boxes 
his ears.] Hands off. 

John. Are you serious or joking? 

Julie. Serious. 

John. In that case, what took place before was also 
serious. You're taking the game much too seriously, and 
and that's dangerous. But I'm tired of the game now, 
so would you please excuse me so that I can go back 
to my work ? [He goes to the back of the stage, to the 
boots.] The Count must have his boots early, and mid- 
night is long past. [He takes up the boots.] 

Julie. Leave the boots alone. 

John. No. It's my duty, and I'm bound to do it, but 
I didn't take on the job of being your playmate. Be- 
sides, the thing is out of the question, as I consider 
myself much too good for that kind of thing. 

Julie. You're proud. 

John. In some cases, not in others. 

Julie. Have you ever loved? 

John. We people don't use that word. But I've liked 
many girls, and once it made me quite ill not to be able 
to get the girl I wanted, as ill, mind you, as the princes 
in "The Arabian Nights," who are unable to eat or drink 
out of pure love. [He takes up the boots again.] 

Julie. Who was it? [JOHN is silent.] 

John. You can't compel me to tell you. 

Julie. If I ask you as an equal, as a friend? Who 
was it? 

John. You ! 

Julie. [Sits down.] How funny! 

John. And if you want to hear the story, here goes ! 
It was humorous. This is the tale, mind you, which I 
would not tell you before, but I'll tell you right enough 
now. Do you know how the world looks from down 
below ? No, of course you don't. Like hawks and eagles, 



16 . MISS JULIE 

whose backs a man can scarcely ever see because they're 
always flying in the air. I grew up in my father's hovel 
along with seven sisters and a pig out there on the 
bare gray field, where there wasn't a single tree grow- 
ing, and I could look out from the window on to the 
walls of the Count's parks, with its apple-trees. That 
was my Garden of Eden, and many angels stood there 
with a flaming sword and guarded it, but all the same 
I, and other boys, found my way to the Tree of Life 
do you despise me? 

Julie. Oh, well stealing apples? All boys do that. 

John. That's what you say, but you despise me all the 
same. Well, what's the odds! Once I went with my 
mother inside the garden, to weed out the onion bed. 
Close by the garden wall there stood a Turkish pavilion, 
shaded by jasmine and surrounded by wild roses. I had 
no idea what it was used for, but I'd never seen so 
fine a building. People went in and out, and one day 
the door stood open. I sneaked in, and saw the walls 
covered with pictures of queens and emperors, and red 
curtains with fringes were in front of the windows 

now you know what I mean. I [He takes a lilac 

branch and holds it under the young lady's nose.} I'd 
never been in the Abbey, and I'd never seen anything else 
but the church but this was much finer, and wherever 
my thoughts roamed they always came back again to it, 
and then little by little the desire sprang up in me to 
get to know, some time, all this magnificence. En-fin, 
I sneaked in, saw and wondered, but then somebody 
came. There was, of course, only one way out for the 
gentry, but I found another one, and, again, I had no 
choice. [JULIE, who has taken up the Wac branch, lets 
it fall on the table.] So I flew, and rushed through a 
lilac bush, clambered over a garden bed and came out 
by a terrace of roses. I there saw a light dress and a 
pair of white stockings that was you. I laid down 
under a heap of herbage, right under them. Can you 



MISS JULIE 17 

imagine it? under thistles which stung me and wet 
earth which stank, and I looked at you where you came 
between the roses, and I thought if it is true that a mur- 
derer can get into the kingdom of heaven, and remain 
among the angels, it is strange if here, on God's own 
earth, a poor lad like me can't get into the Abbey park 
and play with the Count's daughter. 

Julie. [Sentimentally.] Don't you think that all poor 
children under similar circumstances have had the same 
thoughts ? 

John. [At first hesitating, then in a tone of convic- 
tion.] That all poor children yes of course. Cer- 
tainly. 

Julie. Being poor must be an infinite misfortune. 

John. [With deep pain.] Oh, Miss Julie. Oh! A 
dog can lie on the Count's sofa, a horse can be petted by 
a lady's hand, on its muzzle, but a boy ! [ With a change 
of tone.] Yes, yes; a man of individuality here and 
there may have enough stuff in him to come to the top, 
but how often is that the case? What do you think I 
did then? I jumped into the mill-stream, clothes and 
all, but was fished out and given a thrashing. But the 
next Sunday, when father and all of the people at home 
went to grandmother's, I managed to work it that I 
stayed at home, and I then had a wash with soap and 
warm water, put on my Sunday clothes and went to 
church, where I could get a sight of you. I saw you and 
went home determined to die, but I wanted to die in a 
fine and agreeable way, without pain, and I then got the 
idea that it was dangerous to sleep under a lilac bush. 
We had one which at that time was in full bloom. I 
picked all the blooms which it had and then lay down 
in the oat bin. Have you ever noticed how smooth the 
oats are? As soft to the hand as human skin. I then 
shut the lid, and at last went to sleep and woke up really 
very ill ; but I didn't die, as you see. I don't know what 
I really wanted ; there was no earthly possibility of win- 



18 MISS JULIE 

ning you. But you were a proof for me of the utter 
hopelessness of escaping from the circle in which I'd 
been born. 

Julie. You tell a story charmingly, don't you knew. 
Have you been to school? 

John. A little, but I've read a lot of novels, and been 
a lot to the theater. Besides, I've heard refined people 
talk, and I've learned most from them. 

Julie. Do you listen, then, to what we say? 

John. Yes, that's right ; and I've picked up a great deal 
when I've sat on the coachman's box or been rowing the 
boat. I once heard you, Miss, and a young lady friend 
of yours. 

Julie. Really ? What did you hear then ? 

John. Well, that I can't tell you, but I was really 
somewhat surprised, and I couldn't understand where 
you'd learned all the words from. Perhaps at bottom 
there isn't so great a difference between class and class 
as one thinks. 

Julie. Oh, you ought to be ashamed of yourself ! We 
are not like you are, and we have someone whom we 
love best. 

John. [Fixes her with his eyes.] Are you so sure of 
that ? You needn't make yourself out so innocent, Miss, 
on my account. 

Julie. The man to whom I gave my love was a scoun- 
drel. 

John. Girls always say that afterward. 

Julie. Always ? 

John. Always, I think. I've certainly already heard 
the phrase on several previous occasions, in similar cir- 
cumstances. 

Julie. What circumstances? 

John. The last time 

Julie. Stop ! I won't hear any more. 

John. She wouldn't either it's remarkable. Oh, well, 
will you excuse me if I go to bed? 



MISS JULIE 19 

Julie. [Tartly.] Go to bed on Midsummer Night? 

John. Yes. Dance out there with the riff-raff, that 
doesn't amuse me the least bit. 

Julie. Take the key of the boathouse and row me out 
on the lake. I want to- see the sun rise. 

John. Is that sensible? 

Julie. It seems you're concerned about your reputa- 
tion. 

John. Why not ? I'm" not keen on making myself look 
ridiculous, nor on being kicked out without a reference, 
if I want to set up on my own, and it seems to me I 
have certain obligations to Christine. 

Julie. Oh, indeed! So it's Christine again? 

John. Yes ; but it's on your account as well. Take 
my advice and* go- up and go* to bed. 

Julie. Shall I obey you ? 

John. This once for your own sake, I ask you ; it's 
late at night, sleepiness makes one dazed, and one's blood 
boils. You go and lie down. Besides, if I can believe 
my ears, people are coming to find me, and if we are 
found here you are lost. [Chorus is heard in the distance 
and gets nearer.} 

"She pleases me like one o'clock, 

My pretty young lidee, 
For thoughts of her my bosom block, 

Her servant must I be, 
For she delights my heart, 

Tiritidi ralla, tiritidi ra ! 

"And now I've won the match, 
For which I've long been trying, 
The other swains go flying, 
But she comes up to scratch, 
My pretty young lidee, 
Tiritidi ralla la la !" 

Julie. I know our people, and I like them just in the 
same way that they like me. Just let them come, then 
you'll see. 



20 MISS JULIE 

John. No, Miss Julie. The folks don't love you. 
They eat your bread, but they make fun of you behind 
your back. You take it from me. Listen, just listen, to 
what they're singing. No, you'd better not listen. 

Julie. [Listens.] What are they singing? 

John. It's some nasty lines about you and me. 

Julie. Horrible ! Ugh, what sneaks they are ! 

John. The riff-raff is always cowardly, and in the 
fight it's best to fly. 

Julie. Fly? But where to? We can't go out, and 
we can't go up to Christine's room either. 

John. Then come into my room. Necessity knows no 
law, and you can rely on my being your real, sincere and 
respectful friend. 

Julie. But just think, would they look for you there ? 

John. I'll bolt the door, and if they try to break it in 
I'll shoot. Come. [On his knees.] Come! 

Julie. [Significantly.] Promise me. 

John. On my oath! 

[JULIE rushes off on the left. JOHN follows her in 
a state of excitement. Pantomime. Wedding party in 
holiday clothes, with flowers round their hats and a z>iolin 
player at their head, come in through the glass door. 
Barrel of small beer and a keg of br-andy wreathed with 
laurel are placed on the table. They take up glasses, they 
then drink, they then make & ring and a dance is sung 
and executed. Then they go out, singing again, through 
the glass door. JULIE comes w done -from the left, ob- 
serves the disorder in the kitchen and claps her hands; 
she then takes out a powder puff and powders her face. 
JOHN follows after the young woman from the left, in 
a state of exaltation.] 

John. There, do you see, you've seen it for yourself 
now. You think it possible to go on staying here ? 

Julie. No, I don't any more. But what's to be done? 

John. Run away travel, far away from here. 

Julie. Travel? Yes, but where? 



MISS JULIE 21 

John. Sweden the Italian lakes, you've never been 
there, have you ? 

Julie. No ; is it nice there ? 

John. Oh ! A perpetual summer oranges, laurels. 
Whew! 

Julie. What are we to start doing afterward? 

John. We shall start a first-class hotel there, with 
first-class visitors. 

Julie. An hotel? 

John. That's a life, to be sure, you take it from me 
an endless succession of new sights, new languages ; not 
a minute to spare for sulking or brooding; no- looking 
for work, for the work comes of its own. The bell goes 
on ringing day and night, the train puffs-, the omnibus 
comes and goes, while the gold pieces roll' into the till. 
That's a life, to be sure ! 

Julie. Yes, that's what you call life; but what about 
me? 

John. The mistress of the house, the ornament of 
the firm, with your appearance and your manners oh! 
success is certain. Splendid! You sit like a queen in 
the counting house, and set all your slaves in motion, 
with a single touch of your electric bell ; the visitors pass 
in procession by your throne, lay their treasure respect- 
fully on your table ; you've got no idea how men tremble 
when they take a bill up in- their hand I'll touch up the 
bills, and you must sugar them with your sweetest laugh. 
Ah, let's get away from here. [He takes a time-table' out 
of his pocket.] Right away by the next train, by six- 
thirty we're at Malmo; at eight- forty in the morning 
at Hamburg; Frankfort one day in Basle and in Como 
by the St. Gothard Tunnel in let's see three days. Only 
three days. 

Julie. That all sounds very nice, but, John, you must 
give me courage, dear. Tell me that you love me, dear ; 
come and take me in your arms. 

John. [Hesitating.] I should like to but I dare not 



22 

not here in the house. I love you, no doubt about it 
can you have any real doubt about it, Miss? 

Julie. [With real feminine shame.} Miss? Say 
"Dear." There are no longer any barriers between us 
say "Dear." 

John. [In a hurt tone.} I can't. There are still bar- 
riers between us so long as we remain in this house: 
there is the past there is my master the Count ; I never 
met a man whom I've respected so much I've only got to 
see his gloves lying on a chair and straight away I feel 
quite small ; I've only got to hear the bell up. there and 
I dash away like a startled horse and I've only got 
to see his boots standing there, so proud and upright, 
and I've got a pain inside. [He pushes the boots with 
his feet.} Superstition, prejudice, which have been in- 
oculated into us since our childhood, but which one can't 
get rid of. But only come to another country, to a re- 
public, and I'll make people go on their knees before 
my porter's livery on their knees, do you hear? You'll 
see. But not me : I'm not made to go on my knees, for 
I've got grit in me, character, and, once I get on to the 
first branch, you'll see me climb right up. To-day I'm 
a servant, but next year I shall be the proprietor of a 
hotel ; in ten years I shall be independent ; then I'll take 
a trip to Roumania and get myself decorated, and may 
note that I say, may finish up as a count. 

Julie. Good ! Good ! 

John. Oh, yes, the title of Count is to be bought in 
Roumania, and then you will be a- countess my countess. 

Julie. Tell me that you love me, dear, if you don't 
why, what am I, if you don't? 

John. I'll tell you a thousand times later on, but not 
here. And above all, nor sentimentalism, if everything 
isn't to go smash. We must look- at the matter quietly, 
like sensible people. [He takes out a cigar, cuts off the 
end, and lights it.} You sit there, I'll sit here; then we'll 
have a little chat just as though nothing had happened. 



MISS JULIE 23 

Julie. O my God ! have you no feeling then ? 

John. Me? There's no man who has more feeling 
than I have ; but I can control myself. 

Julie. A short time back you could kiss my shoe 
and now? 

John. [Brutally.] Yes, a little while ago, but now 
we've got something else to think of. 

Julie. Don't talk brutally to me. 

John. No, but I'll talk sense. We've made fools of 
ourselves once, don't let's do it again. The Count may 
turn up any minute and we've got to map out our lives 
in advance. What do you think of my plans for the 
future ? Do you agree ? 

Julie. They seem quite nice, but one question you 
need large capital for so great an undertaking have you 
got it? 

John. [Going on- smoking.] Have I got it? Of 
course I have. I've got my special knowledge, my ex- 
ceptional experience, my knowledge of languages, that's 
a capital which is worth something, seems to me. 

Julie. But we can't buy a. single railway ticket with 
all that. 

John. That's true enough, and so I'll look for some- 
body who can put up the money. 

Julie. Where can you find a man like that all at once ? 

John. Then you'll have to find him, if you're going to 
be my companion. 

Julie. I can't do that, and I've got nothing myself. 
[Pause.] 

John. In that case the whole scheme collapses. 

Julie. And ? 

John. Things- remain as they are now. 

Julie. Do you think I'll go on staying any longer un- 
der this roof as your mistress? Do you think I will let 
the people point their finger at me? Do you think that 
after this I can look my father in the face ? No ! Take 
me away from- here, from all this humiliation and dis- 



24 MISS JULIE 

honor ! O my God ! What have I done ! O my God ! 
My God! [She cries.] 

John. Ho ho! So that's the game what have you 
done? Just the same as- a thousand other people like 
you. 

Julie. [Screams as though in a* paroxysm.} And now 
you despise me? I'm- falling, I'm falling! 

John. Fall down to my level and then I'll lift you up 
again afterward. 

Julie. What awful power dragged me down to you, 
the power which draws the weak to the strong? which 
draws him who falls to him who rises ? Or was it love ? 
love this ! Do you know what love is ? 

John. I? Do you really suggest that I meant that? 
Don't you think I'd have felt it already long ago? 

Julie. What phrases to be sure, and what thoughts ! 

John. That's what I learned and that's what I am. 
But just keep your nerve and don't play the fine lady. 
We've got into a mess and we've got to get out of it. 
Look here, my girl. Come here, I'll give you an extra 
glass, my dear. [He opens the sideboard, takes out the 
bottle of wine and fills two of the dirty glasses.] 

Julie. Where did you- get the wine from ? 

John. The cellar. 

Julie. My father's Burgundy! 

John. Is it too good for his son-in-law? I don't 
think ! 

Julie. And I've been drinking beer ! 

John. That only shows that you've got worse taste 
than me. 

Julie. Thief ! 

John. Want to blab? 

Julie. Oh, oh! the accomplice of a house-thief. I 
drank too much last night and I did things in my dream. 
Midsummer Night, the feast of innocent joys* 
John. Innocent ! Hm ! 



MISS JULIE 25 

Julie. [Walks up and down.] Is there at this mo- 
ment a human being as unhappy as I am ? 

John. Why are you? After such a fine conquest. 
Just think of Christine in there, don't you think she's 
got feelings as well? 

Julie. I used to think so before, but I don't think so 
any more no, a servant's a servant 

John. And a whore's a whore. 

Julie. O God in heaven ! Take my miserable life ! 
Take me out of this filth in which I'm sinking. Save me, 
save me! 

John. I can't gainsay but that you make me feel 
sorry. Once upon a time when I lay in the onion bed 
and saw you in the rose garden then I'll tell you 
straight I had the same dirty thoughts as all youngsters. 

Julie. And then you wanted tor die for me ! 

John. In the oat bin? That was mere gas. 

Julie. Lies, you mean. 

John. [Begins to .get sleepy.] Near enough. I read 
the story once in the paper about a chimney-sweep who 
laid down in a chest full of lilac because he was ordered 
to take additional nourishment. 

Julie. Yes so you are 

John. What .other idea should I have thought of? 
One's always got to capture a gal with flatteries. 

Julie. Scoundrel !. 

John. Whore ! 

Julie. So I must be the first branch, must I ? 

John. But the branch was rotten. 

Julie. I've got to be the notice board of the hotel, 
have I ? 

John^ I'm going to be the hotel. 

Julie. Sit in your office, decoy your customers, fake 
your bills. 

JoHn. I'll see to that myself. 

Julie* To think that a human being can be so thor- 
oughly dirty! 



26 MISS JULIE 

John. Wash yourself clean. 

Julie. Lackey! Menial! Stand up you, when I'm 
speaking ! 

John. You wench of a menial ! Hold your jaw and 
clear out! Is it for you to come ragging me that I'm 
rough ? No one in my station of life could have made 
herself so cheap as the way you carried on to-night, my 
girl. Do you think that a clean-minded girl excites men 
in the way that you do? Have you ever seen a girl in 
my position offer herself in the way you did? 

Julie. [Humiliated.] That's right, strike me, trample 
on me! I haven't deserved anything better. I'm a 
wretched woman. But help me! Help me to get away, 
if there's any chance of it. 

John. [More gently.] I don't want to deny my share 
in the honor of having seduced you, but do you think 
that a person in my position would have dared to have 
raised his eyes to you if you yourself hadn't invited him 
to do it? I'm still quite amazed. 

Julie. And proud. 

John. Why not ? Although I must acknowledge that 
the victory was too easy to make me get a swelled head 
over it. 

Julie. Strike me once more ! 

John. [He gets up.] No, I'd rather' ask you to for- 
give me what I've already said. I don't hit a defence- 
less person, and least of all a girl. I can't deny that 
from one point of view I enjoyed seeing that it was not 
gold but glitter which dazzled us all down below ; to 
have seen that the back, of the hawk was only drab, and 
that there was powder on those dainty cheeks, and that 
those manicured nails could have grimy tips, that the 
handkerchief was dirty, even though it did smell of 
scent! But it pained me, on the other hand, to have 
seen that the thing I'd been striving for was not some- 
thing higher, something sounder; it pains me to have 
seen you sink so deep that you are far beneath your own 



MISS JULIE 27 

cook; it pains me to see that the autumn flowers have 
crumpled up in the rain and turned into a mess. 

Julie. You're talking as though you were already my 
superior. 

John. I am; look here, I could change you into a 
countess, but you could never make me into a count ! 

Julie. But I am bred from a count, and that you can 
never be. 

John. That's true, but I could produce counts myself 
if 

Julie. But you're a thief, and I'm not. 

John. There are worse things than being a thief; 
that's not the worst ; besides, if I'm serving in a house- 
hold, I look upon myself in a manner of speaking as one 
of the family, as a child of the house, and it isn't re- 
garded as stealing if a child picks a berry from a large 
bunch. [His passion wakes up afresh.] Miss Julie, 
you're a magnificent woman, much too good for the likes 
of me. You've been the prey of a mad fit and you want 
to cover up your mistake, and that's why you've got it 
into your head you love me, but you don't. Of course, 
it may be that only my personal charms attract you 
and in that case your love is not a bit better than mine ; 
but I can never be satisfied with being nothing more to 
you than a mere beast, and I can't get your love. 

Julie. Are you sure 'of it ? 

John. You mean it might come about? I might love 
you? Yes, no doubt about it, you're pretty, you're re- 
fined. [He> approaches her and takes her hand.] Nice, 
when you want to be, and when you have roused desire 
in a man the odds are that it will never be extinguished. 
[He embraces her.] You are like burning wine, with 

strong herbs in it, and a kiss from you [He tries 

ta lead her on. to the left, but she struggles free.] 

Julie. Let me alone ! That's not the way to win me ! 

John. In what way then? Not in that way? Not 
with caresses and pretty words not with forethought 



28 MISS JULIE 

for the future, escape from disgrace ? In what way then ? 

Julie. In what way ? In what way ? I don't know 
I have no idea. I loathe you like vermin, but I can't be 
without you. 

John. Run away with me. 

Julie. [Adjusts her. dress.} Run away? Yes, of 
course we'll run away. But I'm so tired. Give me a 
glass of wine. [JOHN pours out the wine. JULIE looks 
at her watch.} But we must talk first, we've still a little 
time to spare. [She drinks up the glass and holds it out 
for some more.] 

John. Don't drink to such excess you'll get drunk! 

Julie'. What does it matter? 

John. What does it matter ? It's cheap to get drunk. 
What do you want to say to me then? 

Julie. We'll run away, but we'll talk first, that means 
I will talk, because up to now you've done all the talk- 
ing yourself. You've told me about your life, now I'll 
tell you about mine. Then we shall know each other 
thoroughly, before we start on our joint wanderings. 

John. One moment. Excuse me, just think if you 
won't be sorry afterward for giving away all the secrets 
of your life. 

Jufie. Aren't you my friend? 

John. Yes, for a short time. Don't trust me. 

Julie. You don't mean what you say. Besides, every- 
body knows my secrets. Look here, my mother was not 
of noble birth, but quite simple ; she was brought up in 
the theories of her period about the equality and free- 
dom of woman and all the rest of it. Then she had a 
distinct aversion to marriage. When my father pro- 
posed to her, she answered that she would never be- 
come his wife, but she did. I came into the world 
against the wish of my mother so far as I could under- 
stand. The next was, that I was brought up by my 
mother to lead what she called a child's natural life, and 
to do that, I had to learn everything that a boy has to 



MISS JULIE 29 

learn, so that I could be a living example of her theory 
that a woman is as good as a man. I could go about in 
boys' clothes. I learned to groom horses, but I wasn't 
allowed to go into the dairy. I had to scrub and harness 
horses and go hunting. Yes, and at times I had actually 
to try and learn farm- work, and at home the men were 
given women's work and the women wefe given men's 
work 1 the result was that the property began to go down 
and we became the laughing-stock of the whole neighbor- 
hood. At last my father appears to have wakened up 
out of his trance and to have rebelled ; then everything 
was altered to suit his* wishes. My mother became ill. 
I don't know what the illness was, but she often suffered 
from seizures, hid herself in the grounds and in the gar- 
den, and remained in the open air the whole night. Then 
came the great fire, which you must have heard about. 
House, farm buildings and stables all were burnt, and 
under circumstances, mind you, which gave a suspicion 
of arson, because the accident happened the day after the 
expiration of the quarterly payment of the insurance 
instalment, and the premiums which my father had sent 
were delayed through the carelessness of the messenger, 
so that they did not get there in time. [She fills her 
glass and drinks.] 

John. Don't drink any more. 

Julie. Oh, what does it matter? We were without 
shelter and had to sleep in the carriage. My father didn't 
know where he was to get the money to build a house 
again. Then my mother advised him to approach a 
friend of her youth for a loan, a tile manufacturer in 
the neighborhood. Father got the loan, but didn't have 
to pay any interest, which made him quite surprised, and 
then the house was built. [She drinks dgain.] You 
know who set fire to the house ? 

John. My lady your mother. 

Julie. Do you know who the tile manufacturer was ? 

John. Your mother's lover. 



30 MISS JULIE 

Julie. Do you know whose the money was ? 

John. Wait a minute. No, that I don't know. 

Julie. My mother's. 

John. The Count's then? unless they were living 
with separate estates? 

Julie. They weren't doing that. My mother had a 
small fortune, which she didn't allow my father to han- 
dle, and she invested it with the friend. 

John. Who banked it. 

Julie. Quite right. This all came to my father's ears, 
but he could not take any legal steps ; he couldn't pay 
his wife's lover ; he couldn't prove that it was his wife's 
money. That was my mother's revenge for his using 
force against her at home. He then made up his mind 
to shoot himself. The report went about that he had 
wanted to do it, but hadn't succeeded. He remained 
alive then-, and my mother had to settle for what she'd 
done. That was a bad time for me* as you can im- 
agine. I sympathized with my father, but I sided with 
my mother, as I didn't understand the position. I learnt 
from her to mistrust and hate men, for, so far as I 
could hear, she always hated men and I swore to her 
that I would never be a man's slave. 

John. And then you became engaged to Kronvogt? 

Julie. For the simple reason that he was 1 to have been 
my slave. 

John. And he wouldn't have it ? 

Julie. He was willing enough, but nothing came of it* 
I got sick of him. 

John. I saw it, in the stable. 

Julie. What did you see? 

John. I saw how he broke off the engagement. 

Julie. That's a He. It was I who broke off the en- 
gagement. Did he say that he did it ? The scoundrel ! 

John. No, he wasn't a scoundrel at all. You hate the 
men, Miss. 



MISS JULIE 31 

Julie. Yes usually, but at times, when my weak fit 
comes on ugh! 

John. So you hate me as well? 

Julie. Infinitely. I could have you killed like a beast. 

John. The criminal is condemned to hard labor, but 
the beast is killed. 

Julie. Quite right. 

John. But there's no beast here and no prosecutor 
either. What are we going to do? 

Julie. Travel. 

John. To torture each other to death? 

Julie. No have a good time for two, three years, or 
as long as we can and then die. 

John. Die? What nonsense! I'm all for starting a 
hotel. 

Julie. [Without listening to him.] By the Lake of 
Como, where the sun is always shining, where the laurel- 
trees are green at Christmas and the oranges glow. 

John. The Lake of Como is a rainy hole. I didn't see 
any oranges there, except in the vegetable shops ; but it's 
a good place for visitors, because there are a lot of villas 
which can be let to honeymooning couples, and that's a 
very profitable industry. I'll tell you why. They take 
a six months' lease and travel away after three weeks. 
' Julie. [Naively.] Why- after three weeks ? 

John. They quarrel, of course; but the rent's got to 
be paid all the same, and then we let again, and so it 
goes on one after the other, for love goes on to all 
eternity even though it doesn't keep quite so long. 

Julie. Then you won't die with me? 

John. I won't die at all just yet, thank you. In the 
first place, because I still enjoy life, and, besides, because 
I look upon suicide as a sin against providence, which- 
has given us life. 

Julie. Do you believe in God you ? 

John. Yes, I certainly do, and I go to church every 



32 MISS JULIE 

other Sunday. But, speaking frankly, I'm tired of all 
this, and I'm going to bed now. 

Julie. You are, are you ? And you think that I'm sat- 
isfied with that ? Do you know what a man owes to the 
woman he has dishonored? 

John. [Takes out his purse and throws a silver coin 
on the table.] If you don't mind, I don't like being in 
anybody's debt. 

Julie. [As though she had not noticed the insult.] 
Do you know what the law provides ? 

John. Unfortunately the law does not provide any 
penalty for the woman who seduces a man. 

Julie. [As before.] Can you find any other way out 
than that we should travel, marry and then get divorced 
again ? 

John. And if I refuse to take on the mesalliance? 

Julie. Mesalliance? 

John. Yes, for me. I've got better ancestors than 
you have : I haven't got any incendiaries in my pedigree. 

Julie. How do you know? 

John. At any rate, you can't prove the contrary, for 
we have no other pedigree than what you can see in the 
registry. But I read in a book on the drawing-room 
table about your pedigree. Do you know what the 
founder of your line was? A miller with whose wife 
the king spent a night during the Danish war. I 
don't run to ancestors like that. I've got no ancestors 
at all, as a matter of fact, but I can be an ancestor myself. 

Julie. This is what I get for opening my heart to a 
cad, for giving away my family honor. 

John. Family shame, you mean. But, look here, I 
told you so ; people shouldn't drink, because then people 
talk nonsense, and people shouldn't talk nonsense. 

Juli. Oh, how I wish it undone, how I wish it undone ! 
And if you only loved me ! 

John. For the last time what do you want? Do you 
want me to cry, do you want me to jump over your 



MISS JULIE 33 

riding whip, do you want me to kiss you, or tempt you 
away for three weeks by the Lake of Como, and then, 
what am I to do? what do you want? The thing's be- 
ginning to be a nuisance, but that's what one gets for 
meddling in the private affairs of the fair sex. Miss 
Julie, I see you're unhappy, I know that you suffer, but 
I can't understand you. People like us don't go in for 
such fairy tales ; we don't hate each other either. We 
take love as a game, when our work gives us time off, 
but we haven't got the whole day and the whole night 
to devote to it. Let me look at you. You are ill; you 
are certainly ill ! 

Julie. You must be kind to me, and now talk like a 
man. Help me ! Help me ! Tell me what I must do- 
what course I shall take. 

John. My Christ! If I only knew myself! 

Julie. I am raving, I have been mad ! But isn't there 
any way by which I can be saved ? 

John. Stay here and keep quiet. Nobody knows any- 
thing. 

Julie. Impossible ! The servants know it ; and Chris- 
tine knows it. 

John. They don't know and they would never believe 
anything of the kind. 

Julie. [Slowly.] It might happen again. 

John. That's true. 

Julie. And the results? 

John. The results ? Where was I wool-gathering not 
to have thought about it? Yes, there's only one thing 
to do to clear out at once. I won't go with you, be- 
cause then it's all up, but you must travel alone away 
anywhere you like. 

Julie. Alone? Where? I can't do it. 

John. You must. And before the Count comes back 
too. If you stay then you know what will be the result. 
If one has taken the first step, then one goes on with 



34 MISS JULIE 

it, because one's already in for the disgrace, and then one 
gets bolder and bolder at last you get copped so you 
must travel. Write later on to the Count and confess 
everything except that it was me, and he'll never guess 
that. I don't think either that he'd be very pleased if 
he did find out. 

Julie. I'll travel, if you'll come with me. 

John. Are you mad, Miss? Do you want to elope 
with your servant? It'll all be in the papers the next 
morning, and the Count would never get over it. 

Julie. I can't travel, I can't stay. Help me! I am 
so tired, so infinitely tired give me orders, put life into 
me again or I can't think any more, and I can't do any 
more. 

John. See here, now, what a wretched creature you 
are! Why do you strut about and turn up your nose 
as though you were the lord of creation? Well, then, 
I will give you orders ; you go and change your clothes, 
get some money- to travel with and come down here again. 

Julie. [Sotto voce.] Come up with me. 

John. To your room? Now you're mad again. [He 
hesitates for a moment.] No, you go at once. [He takes 
her by the hand and leads her ta the glass door.] 

Julie. [As she goes.] Please speak kindly to* me, 
John. 

John. An order always has an unkind sound. Just 
feel it now for yourself, just feel it. [Exeunt both. 

[JOHN comes back, gives a sigh of relief, sits down 
at the table by the right, and takes out his note-book, now 
and again he counts aloud; pantomime. CHRISTINE comes 
in with a white shirt-front and a iVhite necktie in her 
hand.] 

Christine. Good Lord ! What does the man look like ! 
What's happened here? 

John. Oh, Miss Julie called in the servants. Were 
you so sound asleep that you didn't hear it? 

Christine. I slept like a log. 



MISS JULIE 35 

John. And dressed all ready for church? 

Christine. Yes. You know you promised, dear, to 
come to Communion with me to-day. 

John. Yes, that's true, and you've already got some 
of my togs for me. Well, come here. [He sits down on 
the right. CHRISTINE gives him the white front and neck- 
tie and helps him to put them on. Pause.} [Sleepily.} 
What gospel is it to-day? 

Christine. I've got an idea it's about the beheading 
of John the Baptist. 

John. That's certain to last an awful time! Ugh! 
You're hurting me. Oh, I'm so sleepy, so sleepy ! 

Christine. Yes, what have you been doing all night? 
You look absolutely washed out. 

John. I've been sitting here chatting with Miss Julie. 

Christine. She doesn't know what's decent. My God ! 
she doesn't. [Pause.} 

John. I say, Christine dear. 

Christine. Well? 

John. It's awfully strange when one comes to think 
it over. 

Christine. What's so strange about her? 

John. Everything. [Pause.} 

Christine. [Looks at the glass which stands half empty 
on the table.} Did you drink together as well? 

John. Yes. 

Christine. Ugh ! Look me in the face. 

John. Yes. 

Christine. Is it possible? Is it possible? 

John. [After reflecting for a short time.] Yes, it is. 

Christine. , Crikey ! I'd never have thought it, that I 
wouldn't. No. Ugh! Ugh! 

John. I take it you're not jealous of her? 

Christine. No, not of her; if it had been Clara or 
Sophie, yes, I should have been. Poor girl ! Now, I tell 
you what. I won't stay any longer in this house, where 
one can't keep any respect for the gentry. 



36 MISS JULIE 

John. Why should one respect them? 

Christine. Yes, and you, who are as sly as they're 
made, ask me that. But will you serve people who carry 
on so improper? Why, one lowers oneself by doing it, 
it seems to me. 

John. Yes, but it's certainly a consolation for us that 
the others are no better than we are. 

Christine. No, I don't find that ; because if they're not 
better it's not worth while trying to be like our betters, 
and think of the Count, think of him ; he's had so much 
trouble all his life long. No, I won't stay any longer 
in this house. And with the likes of you ! If it had been 
even Kronvogt ; if it had been a better man. 

John. What do you mean? 

Christine. Yes, yes, you're quite a good fellow, I 
know, but there's always a difference between people and 
people and I can never forget it. A young lady who 
was so proud, so haughty to the men that one could 
never imagine that she would ever give herself to a man 
and then the likes of you ! Her, who wanted to have 
the poor Diana shot dead at once, because she ran after 
a dog in the courtyard. Yes, I must say that ; but I won't 
stay here any longer, and on the 24th of October I go 
my way. 

John. And then? 

Christine. Well, as we're on the subject, it would be 
about time for you to look out for another job, as we 
want to get married. 

John. Yes, what kind of a job am I to look out for? 
I can't get as good a place as this, if I'm married. 

Christine. Of course you can't, but you must try to 
get a place as porter, or see if you can get a situation 
as a servant in some public institution. The victuals are 
few but certain, and then the wife and children get a 
pension. 

John. [With a grimace.] That's all very fine, but it's 
not quite my line of country to start off about thinking 



MISS JULIE 37 

of dying for wife and child. I must confess that I've 
higher views. 

Christine. Your views, to be sure! But you've also 
got obligations. Just think of her. 

John. You mustn't nag me by talking about my obli- 
gations. I know quite well what I've got to do. [He 
listens for a sound outside.] But we've got time enough 
to think about all this. Go in, and get ready, and then 
we'll go to church. 

Christine. Who's walking about upstairs ? 

John. I don't know perhaps Clara. 

Christine. [Goes.] I suppose it can't be the Count 
who's come back without anyone having heard him? 

John. [Nervously.] No, I don't think so, because then 
he'd have rung already. 

Christine. Yes. God knows. I've gone through the 
likes of this before. {Exit to the right. The sun has 
risen in the meanwhile and gradually illuminates the tops 
of the trees outside, the light grows gradually deeper till 
it falls slanting on the window. JOHN goes to the glass 
door and makes a sign.] 

Julie. [Comes in in traveling dress, with a small bird 
cage covered with a handkerchief, and places it on a 
chair.] I'm ready now. 

John. Hush ! Christine is awake. 

Julie. [Extremely excited in the following scene.] Did 
she have any idea? 

John. She knows nothing. But, my God ! what a sight 
you look. 

Julie. What! How dp I look? 

John. You're as white as a corpse and, pardon my 
saying it, your face is dirty. 

Julie. Then give me some water to wash all right. 
[She goes to the wdshing-stand and washes her face and 
hands.] Give me a towel. Ah! the sun has risen. 

John. And then the hobgoblin flies away. 

Julie. Yes, a goblin has really been at work last night. 



38 MISS JULIE 

Listen to me. Come with me. I've got the needful, John. 

John. [Hesitating.] Enough? 

Julie. Enough to start on. Come with me, I can't 
travel alone to-day. Just think of it. Midsummer Day 
in a stuffy train, stuck in among a lot of people who stare 
at one ; waiting about at stations when one wants to fly. 
No ; I can't do it ! I can't do it ! And then all my mem- 
ories, my memories of Midsummer's Day when I was a 
child, with the church decorated with flowers birch and 
lilac ; the midday meal at a splendidly covered table ; rela- 
tives and friends ; the afternoon in the park ; dancing 
and music, flowers and games. Ah! you can run away 
and run away, but your memories, your repentance and 
your pangs of conscience follow on in the luggage van. 

John. I'll come with you, but right away, before it's 
too late. Now. Immediately. 

Julie. Then get ready. [She takes up the bird cage.] 

John. But no luggage. In that case we're lost. 

Julie. No, no luggage, only what we can take with 
us in the compartment. 

John. [Has taken a hat.] What have you got there 
then ? What is it ? 

Julie. It's only my little canary. I don't want to leave 
it behind. 

John. Come, I say! Have we got to cart along a 
bird cage with us ? How absolutely mad ! Leave the bird 
there ! 

Julie. The only thing I'm taking with me from home ! 
The one living creature that likes me, after Diana was 
faithless to me! Don't be cruel. Let me take it with 
me! 

John. Leave it there, I tell you and don't talk so loud. 
Christine might hear us. 

Julie. No, I won't leave it behind among strangers. 
I'd rather you killed it. 

John. Then give me the little thing ; I'll twist its neck 
for it. 



MISS JULIE 39 

Julie. Yes, but don't hurt it ; don't ! No, I can't ! 

John. Hand it over I'll do the trick. 

Julie. [Takes the bird out of the cage and kisses it.] 
Oh, my dicky bird ! Must you die by the hand of your 
own mistress ? 

John. Be good enough not to make any scene; your 
life and well-being are at stake. That's right, quick ! [He 
snatches the bird out of her hand, carries it to the chop- 
ping block, and takes the kitchen knife.} [ JULIE turns 
round^} You should have learned to kill fowls instead 
of shooting with your revolver. [Chops.] And then you 
wouldn't have fainted at the sight of a drop of blood. 

Julie. [Shrieking.] Kill me too, kill me ! If you can 
kill an innocent animal without your hand shaking ! Oh, 
I hate and loathe you ! There is blood between us ! I 
curse the hour in which I saw you ! I curse the hour in 
which I was born ! 

John. Now, what's the good of your cursing? Let's 
go! 

Julie. [Approaches the chopping block as though at- 
tracted to it against her will.] No, I won't go yet, I can't 
I must see. Hush ! there's a wagon outside. [She lis- 
tens, while her eyes are riveted in a stare on the chopping 
block and the knife.] Do you think I can't look at any 
blood ? Do you think I'm so weak ? Oh ! I'd just like to 
see your blood and your brains on the chopping block. 
I'd like to see your whole stock swimming in a lake, 
like the one there. I believe I could drink out of your 
skull ! I could wash my feet in your chest ! I could eat 
your heart roasted ! You think I am weak 1 You think 
I love you ! You think I mean to carry your spawn under 
my heart and feed it with my own blood ; bear your child 
and give it your name ! I say, you, what is your name ? 
I've never heard your surname you haven't got any, I 
should think. I shall be Mrs. Head Waiter, or Madame 
Chimney Sweeper. You hound ! You, who wear my liv- 
ery, you menial, who wear my arms on your buttons 



40 MISS JULIE 

I've got to go shares with my cook, have I ? to compete 
with my own servant? Oh! oh! oh! You think I'm a 
coward and want to run away? No, now I'm going to 
stay, and then the storm can burst. My father comes 
home he finds his secretary broken open and his money 
stolen then he rings the bell twice for his servant 
and then he sends for the police and then I shall tell 
him everything. Everything! Oh, it's fine to make an 
end of the thing if it would only have an end. And 
then he gets a stroke, and dies and that's the end of the 
whole story. And then comes peace and quiet eternal 
peace. And then the escutcheon is broken over the coffin : 
the noble race is extinct and the servant's brat grows up 
in a foundling hospital and wins his spurs in the gutter, 
and finishes up in a prison. [CHRISTINE, dressed for 
church, enters on the right, hymn book in hand. JULIE 
rushes to her and falls into her arms, as though seeking 
protection.] Help me, Christine; help me against this 
man! 

Christine. [Immobile and cold.] What a pretty sight 
for a holiday morning! [She looks at the chopping block.] 
And what a dirty mess you've been making here ! What 
can it all mean? How you're shrieking and 

Julie. Christine, you're a woman, and my friend. Be- 
ware of this scoundrel. 

John. [Slightly shy and embarrassed.] If you ladies 
want to have an argument, I'll go in and have a shave. 
[He sneaks away to the right.] 

Julie. You will understand me, and you must do what 
I tell you. 

Christine. No, I certainly don't understand such car- 
ryings-on. Where are you going to in your traveling 
dress ? And he's got his hat on. What's it all mean ? 

Julie. Listen to me, Christine ; listen to me ; then I'll 
tell you everything. 

Christine. I don't want to know anything. 

Julie. You must listen to me. 



MISS JULIE 41 

Christine. What is it, then? Your tomfoolery with 
John? Look here; I don't care anything about that, be- 
cause it had nothing to do with me, but if you think you're 
going to tempt him to elope with you, then we'll put a 
very fine spoke in your little wheel. 

Julie. [Extremely excited,] Try to be calm, Christine, 
and listen to me ! I can't stay here, and John can't stay 
here, so we must travel. 

Christine. Hm, hm! 

Julie. [With sudden inspiration.] But, look here. I've 
got an idea now. How about if we all three went 
abroad to Switzerland and started a hotel together ? I've 
got money. [She shows it.] You see; and John and I 
will look after the whole thing, and you, I thought, could 
take over the kitchen. Isn't it nice? Just say yes, and 
come with us, and all is fixed up. Just say yes. [She 
embraces CHRISTINE and hugs her tenderly.] 

Christine. [Cold and contemplative.] Hm, hm! 

Julie. [Quicker.] You've never been out and traveled, 
Christine you must come out in the world and look 
round; you can have no idea how jolly it is to travel 
on a railway to be always seeing new people new coun- 
tries. And then we get to Hamburg and take a trip 
through the Zoological Gardens. What do you think 
of it? And then we'll go to the theater and hear the 
opera and when we get to Munich we've got the mu- 
seums, and there are Rubenses and Raphaels pictures by 
the two great painters, you see. You've heard people talk 
of Munich, where King Ludwig used to live the king, 
you know, who went mad and then we'll go over his 
castles he has castles which are got up just like fairy 
tales and it's not far from there to Switzerland with 
the Alps. Ugh ! just think of the Alps covered with snow 
in the middle of summer ; and tangerines and laurel trees 
grow there which are in bloom the whole year round. 
[JOHN appears on the right, stretching his razor on a 
strop, which he holds with his teeth and his left hand. 



42 MISS JULIE 

He listens with pleasure to her speech, and now and again 
nods assent.] {Extremely quickly.} And then we take 
a hotel and I sit in the bureau while John stands up 
and receives the visitors goes out and does business 
writes letters. That's a life, you take it from me; then 
the train puffs, the omnibus comes, the bells ring in the 
hotel itself, the bell rings in the restaurant and then I 
make out the bills and I'll touch them up you can have 
no idea how shy travelers are when they've got to pay 
their bill. And you you're installed as mistress in the 
kitchen. Of course, you haven't yourself got to stand 
by the fireplace, and you've got to have nice pretty dresses 
when you have to appear before the visitors and a girl 
with an appearance like you no, I'm not flattering you 
you can get a husband perhaps some fine day, some rich 
Englishman ; you see, people are so easy to catch. [She 
commences to speak more slowly.] And then we shall 
get rich and we'll build a villa by Lake Como of course 
it rains there now and then, but [in a less tense tone] 
there's certain to be a great deal of sun even though 
there's gloomy weather as well and then then we can 
travel home again and come back [pause] here or any- 
where else. 

Christine. Look here, Miss ; do you believe in all this 
yourself ? 

Julie. [Crushed..] Do I believe in it myself? 

Christine. Yes. 

Julie. [Tired.] I don't know. I don't really believe 
in anything any more. [She sits down on the seat and 
lays her head on the table between her arms.] In any- 
thing, in anything at all. 

Christine. [Turns to the left, where JOHN is standing.] 
So you thought you'd elope, did you ? 

John. [Shamefaced, puts his rasor on the table.] 
Elope ? Come, that's a big word you heard Miss Julie's 
plan; and although she's tired now, from having been 
up all night, the scheme can still be put through. 



MISS JULIE 43 

Christine. I say, did you mean that I should be cook 
there, for her? 

John. [Sharply.] Be so kind as to speak more re- 
fined when you're talking of your mistress. Understand? 

Christine. Mistress ? 

John. Yes. 

Christine. No. I say, I say there 

John. Yes, listen to me. It is much better for you if 
you do, and don't gabble so much. Miss Julie is your 
mistress, and you ought to despise yourself for the same 
reason that you despise her. 

Christine. I have always had so much self-respect 

John. That you can despise others. 

Christine. That I have never lowered myself below 
my place. Just say, if you can, that the Count's cook 
had anything to do with the cattleman or the swineherd. 
You just try it on ! 

John. Quite so. You had a little something on with 
a nice fellow, and very lucky for you, too. 

Christine. A nice fellow, to be sure, who sells the 
Count's oats out of the stable. 

John. You're a nice one to talk ; you get commissions 
from the vegetable man and ain't above being squared by 
the butcher. 

Christine. What ? 

John. And so it's you that can't respect your mistress 
any more ! You you I don't think ! 

Christine. Come along to church now. A good ser- 
mon'll do you a lot of good after the way you've been 
carrying on. 

John. No fear, I'm not going to church to-day. You 
go alone, and confess your own sins. 

Christine. Yes, that I will, and I'll come home with 
forgiveness, and for you too ; the Redeemer suffered and 
died on the cross for all our sins, and if we go to Him 
with faith and a contrite spirit then He will take all our 
guilt on Himself. 



44 MISS JULIE 

Julie. Do you believe that, Christine ? 

Christine. That's my living 1 faith, as true as I stand 
here, and that's my faith from a child, that I've kept ever 
since I was young, and where sin overflows there grace 
overflows as well. 

Julie. Ah, if I had your faith ! Ah, if 

Christine. Mark you, one can't just go and get it. 

Julie. Who gets it, then? 

Christine. That's the great secret of grace, Miss, mark 
you, and God is no respecter of persons, but the first 
shall be last. 

Julie. Yes, but then He is a respecter of persons 
the last. 

Christine. [Continues.] And it is easier for a camel 
to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man 
to get into the kingdom of heaven. Mark you that's what 
it is, Miss Julie. Well, I'm off alone, and on the way 
I'll tell the stable boy not to let out any horses, in case 
anybody wants to travel, before the Count comes home. 
Adieu! [Exit through the glass door.] 

John. What a devil ! And all that fuss about a canary. 

Julie. [Limply.} Leave the canary out of it. Can 
you see a way out of all this? an end for the whole 
thing? 

John. [Ponders.] No. 

Julie. What would you do in my position? 

John. In your position ? Just wait a minute, will you ? 
As a girl of good birth, as a woman as a fallen woman ? 
I don't know. Ah ! I've got it ! 

Julie. [Takes up the razor and makes a movement.} 
That? 

John. Yes, but I wouldn't do it note that well ; that's 
the difference between us. 

Julie. Because you're a man and I'm a woman ? What 
difference does that make ? 

John. The same difference as between men and 
women. 



MISS JULIE 45 

Julie. [With the knife in her hand.] I want to, but I 
can't do it. My father couldn't do it either the time 
when he ought to have. 

John. No; he shouldn't have done it his first duty 
was to revenge himself. 

Julie. And now my mother avenges herself again 
through me. 

John. Have you never loved your father, Miss Julie? 

Julie. Yes, infinitely but I'm sure that I've hated him 
as well. I must have done it without having noticed it 
myself, but he brought me up to despise my own sex, to 
be half a woman and half a man. Who is to blame for 
what has happened? My father, my mother, I myself? 
I myself? I haven't got a self at all, I haven't got a 
thought which I don't get from my father, I haven't got 
a passion which I don't get from my mother, and the 
latest phase the equality of men and women that I 
got from my fiance, whom I called a scoundrel for his 
pains. How then can it be my own fault ? To shove the 
blame on Jesus like Christine does no, I've got too much 
pride and too much common sense for that thanks to 
my father's teaching. And as for a rich man not being 
able to get into the kingdom of heaven, that's a lie. Chris- 
tine has got money in the savings bank. Certainly she 
won't get in. Who is responsible for the wrong ? What 
does it matter to us who is? I know I've got to put up 
with the blame and the consequences. 

John. Yes but [There are two loud rings in suc- 
cession. JULIE starts; JOHN quickly changes his coat, on 
the left.] The Count's at home just think if Chris- 
tine [He goes to the speaking tube at the back, 

whistles, and listens.] 

Julie. He must have already gone to his secretary by 
now. 

John. It's John, my lord. [He listens. What the 
Count says is inaudible.] Yes, my lord. \He listens.] 



46 MISS JULIE 

Yes, my lord. At once. [He listens.] Very well, my 
lord. [He listens.] Yes, in half-an-hour. 

Julie. [Extremely nervous.} What did he say? My 
God! what did he say? 

John. He asked for his boots and his coffee in half- 
an-hour. 

Julie. In half-an-hour then. Oh, I'm so tired, I can't 
do anything; I can't repent, I can't run away, I can't 
stay, I can't live, I can't die. Help me now! Give me 
orders and I'll obey like a dog. Do me this last service ! 
Save my honor save my name ! You know what I ought 
to will, but don't will. Do you will it and order me to 
accomplish it. 

John. I don't know but now I can't either. I can't 
make it out myself it's just as though it were the result 
of this coat I've just put on, but I can't give you any 
orders. And now, after the Count has spoken to me, I 
can't explain it properly but ah! it's the livery which 
I've got on my back. I believe if the Count were to 
come in now and order me to cut my throat I'd do it on 
the spot. 

Julie. Then just do as though you were he, and I were 
you. You could imagine it quite well a minute ago, when 
you were before me on your knees. Then you were a 
knight. Have you ever been to the theater and seen the 
mesmerist? [JOHN makes a gesture of assent.] He says 
to the medium, "Take the broom" ; he takes it ; he says 
"Sweep," and he sweeps. 

John. But in that case the medium must be asleep. 

Julie. [Exalted.] I am already asleep. The whole 
room looks as though it were full of smoke and you look 
like an iron furnace which is like a man in black clothes 
and top hat and your eyes glow like coals when the fire 
goes out and your face is a white blur like cinders. 
\The sunlight has now reached the floor and streams over 
JOHN.] It's so warm and fine. [She rubs her hands as 



MISS JULIE 47 

though she were warming them by a fire.] And then it's 
so light and so quiet. 

John. [Takes the razor and puts it in her hand.] 
There is the broom ; go, now that it's light, outside into 
the barn and [He whispers something in her ear.] 

Julie. [Awake.] Thank you. Now I'm going to have 
peace, but tell me now that the first shall have their share 
of grace too. Tell me that, even though you don't be- 
lieve it. 

John. The first ? No, I can't do that ; but, one minute, 
Miss Julie I've got it, you don't belong any longer to 
the first you are beneath the last. 

Julie. That's true I am beneath the very last ; I am 
the last myself. Oh but now I can't go. Tell me again 
that I must go. 

John. No, I can't do that again now either. I can't. 

Julie. And the first shall be last. 

John. Don't think, don't think! You rob me of all 
my strength and make a coward of me. What? I be- 
lieve the clock was moving. No shall we put paper in ? 
To be so funky of the sound of a clock ! But it's some- 
thing more than a clock there's something that sits be- 
hind it a hand puts it in motion, and something else sets 
the hand in motion just put your fingers to your ears, 
and then it strikes worse again. It strikes until you 
give an answer and then it's too late, and then come the 

police and then [Two loud rings in succession, 

JOHN starts, then he pulls himself together.] It's awful, 
but there's no other way out. Go! [ JULIE goes with a 
firm step outside the door.] [Curtain. 



THE CREDITOR 



CHARACTERS 
THEKLA. 

ADOLF, her husband, a painter. 
GUSTAV, her divorced husband. 
Two LADIES, a WAITER. 



THE CREDITOR 



SCENE 

'A small -watering 'place. Time, the present. Stage 
directions with reference to the actors. 

A drawing room in a watering place; furnished as 
above. 

Door in the middle, with a view out on the sea; side 
doors right and left; by the side door on the left the 
button of an electric bell; on the right of the door in the 
center a table, with a decanter of water and a glass. On 
the left of the' door in the center a what-not; cm the right 
a fireplace in front; on the right a round table and arm- 
chairs; on the left a sofa, a square table, a- settee; on the 
table a small pedestal with a draped -figure pampers, books, 
armchairs. Only the items of furniture which are intro- 
duced into the action are referred to in the above plan. 
The rest of the scenery remains unaffected. It is summer, 
and the daytime. 

SCENE I 

[ADOL.F sits on the settee on the left of the square table; 
his stick is propped up near him.] 

Adolf. And it's you I've got to thank for all this. 

Gustav. [Walks up and down on tht right, smoking 
a cigar.] Oh, nonsense. 

Adolf. Indeed, I have. Why, the first day after my 
wife went away, I lay on my sofa like a cripple and gave 
myself up to my depression; it was as though she had 
taken my crutches, and I couldn't move from the spot. 

Si 



52 THE CREDITOR 

A few days went by, and I cheered up and began to pull 
myself together. The delirious nightmares which my 
brain had produced, went away. My head became cooler 
and cooler. A thought which I once had came to the 
surface again. My desire to work, my impulse to create, 
woke up. My eye got back again its capacity for sound, 
sharp observation. You came, old man. 

Gustav. Yes, you were in pretty low water, old man, 
when I came across you, and you went about on crutches. 
Of course, that doesn't prove that it was simply my pres- 
ence that helped so much to your recovery; you needed 
quiet, and you wanted masculine companionship. 

Adolf. You're right in that, as you are in everything 
else you say. I used to have it in the old days. But 
after 1 my marriage it seemed unnecessary. I wUs satisfied 
with the friend of my heart whom I had chosen. All the 
same I soon got into fresh set& t and made many new ac- 
quaintances. But then my wife got jealous. She wanted 
to have me quite to herself ; but much worse than that, 
my friends wanted to have her quite to themselves and 
so I was left out in the cold with my jealousy. 

Gustav. You- were predisposed to this illness, you 
knpw that. [He passes- on the left behind the square fable, 
and comes to ADOLF'S left.] 

Adolf. I was afraid of losing her and tried to pre- 
vent it. Are you surprised at it? I was never afraid 
for a moment that she'd be unfaithful to me. 

Gustav. What husband ever was afraid ? 

Adolf. Strange, isn't it? All I troubled about was 
simply this about friends getting influence over her and 
so being able indirectly to acquire" power over me and 
I couldn't bear that at all. 

Gustav. So you and your wifedidn.'t have quite iden- 
tical views? 

Adolf. I've told you so much, you may as well know 
everything my wife is an independent character. [ GUS- 
TAV laughs.} What are you laughing at, old man? 



THE CREDITOR 53 

Gustav. Go on, go on. She's an independent charac- 
ter, is she? 

Adolf. She won't take anything.-from me. 

Gu-stav. But she does from everybody else? 

Adolf. [After a pause.} Yes. And I've felt about all 
this, that the only reason why my views were so awfully 
repugnant to her, was because they were mine, not be- 
cause they appeared absurd on their intrinsic merits. For 
it often happened that she'd trot out my old ideas, and 
champion them with gusto as her own. Why, it even 
came about that one of my friends gave her ideas which 
he had borrowed direct from me. She found them de- 
lightful ; she found everything delightful that didn't come 
from me. 

Gustav; In. other words, you're not truly happy. 

Adolf. Oh, yes, I am. The woman' whom I desired 
is mine, and I never wished for any other. 

Gustav. Do you never wish to be free either ? 

Adolf. I wouldn't like to go quite so far as that. Of 
course the thought crops up now and again, how calmly 
I should be able to live if I were free but she scarcely 
leaves me before I immediately long for her again, as 
though she were my arm, my leg. Strange. When I'm 
alone I sometimes feel as though she didn't have any real 
self of her own, as though she were a part of my ego, a 
piece out of my inside, that stole away all my will, all my 
joi de vvvre. Why, my very marrow itself, to use an 
anatomical expression, is situated in her; that's what it 
seems like. 

Gustav. Viewing the matter broadly, that seems quite 
plausible. 

Adolf. Nonsense. An independent person like she is, 
with such a tremendous lot of personal views, and when 
I met her, what was I then ? Nothing. An artistic child 
which she brought up. 

Gustav. But afterward you developed her intellect and 
educated her, didn't you? 



54 THE CREDITOR 

Adolf. No; her growth remained stationary, and I 
shot up. 

Gustav. Yes ; it's really remarkable, but her literary 
talent already began to deteriorate after her first book, 
or, to put it as charitably as possible, it didn't develop 
any further. [He sits down opposite ADOLF on the sofa 
on the left.} Of course she then had the most promising 
subject matter for of course she drew the portrait of 
her first husband you never knew him, old man? He 
must have been an unmitigated ass. 

Adolf. I've never seen him. He was away for more 
than six months, but the good fellow must have been as 
perfect an ass as they're made, judging by her descrip- 
tion you can take it from me, old man, that her de- 
scription wasn't exaggerated. 

Gustav. Quite ; but why did she marry him ? 

Adolf. She didn't know him then. People only get 
to know orre another afterward, don't you know. 

Gustav. But, according to that, people have no busi- 
ness to marry until Well, the man was a tyrant, 

obviously. 

Adolf. Obviously T 

Gustav. What husband wouldn't be? [Casually.} 
Why, old chap-, you're as much a tyrant as: any of the 
others. 

Adolf. Me? I? Why, I allow my wife to come and 
go as she jolly well pleases ! 

Gustav. [Stands up.} Pah! a lot of good that is. I 
didn't suppose you kept her locked up. [He turns round 
behind the square table and comes" over to ADOLF on the 
right.} Don't you mind if she's out all night? 

Adolf. I should think I do. 

Gustav. Look here. [Resuming, his earlier tone.} 
Speaking as man to man, it simply makes you- ridiculous. 

Adolf. Ridiculous? Can a man's trusting his wife 
make him ridiculous ? 

Gustav. Of course it can. And you've been so for 



THE CREDITOR 55 

some time. No doubt about it. [He walks round the 
round table on the right.] 

Adolf. [Excitedly.] Me? I'd have preferred to be 
anything but that. I must put matters- right. 

Gustav. Don't you get* so excited, otherwise you'll get 
an attack again. 

Adolf. [After a pause.] Why doesn't she look ridicu- 
lous when' I stay out all night ? 

Gustav. Why? Don't you bother about that. That's 
how the matter stands, and while you're fooling about 
moping, the mischief is done. [He goes behind the square 
table, and walks behind the sofa.] 

Adolf. What mischief ? 

Gustav. Her husband, you know, was a tyrant, and 
she simply married him in order to be free. For what 
other way is there for a girl to get free, than by getting 
the so-called husband to act as cover ? 

Adolf. Why, of course. 

Gustav. And now, old man, you're the cover. 

Adolf. I? 

Gustav. As her husband. 

Adolf. [Looks absent.] 

Gustazi, Am I not right? 

Adolf. {Uneasily.} I don't know- [Pause.] A man 
lives for years on end with a woman without coming 
to a clear conclusion about the woman herself, or how 
she stands in relation to his own way of looking at things. 
And then all of a sudden a man begins to reflect and 
then there's no stopping. Gustav, old man, you're my 
friend, the only friend I've had for a long time, and this 
last week you've given me back all my life and pluck. It 
seems as though you'd radiated your magnetism over me. 
You were the watchmaker who repaired the works in 
my brain, and tightened the spring. [Pause.] Don't 
you see yourself how much more lucidly I think, how 
much more connectedly I speak, and at times it almost 



56 THE CREDITOR 

seems as though my voice had got back the timber it 
used to have in the old days. 

Gustav. I think so, too. What can be the cause of it ? 

Adolf. I don't know. Perhaps one gets accustomed 
to talk more softly to women. Thekla, at any rate, was 
always ragging me because I shrieked. 

Gustav. And then you subsided into a minor key, and 
allowed yourself to be put in the corner. 

Adolf. Don't say that. [Reflectively.] That wasn't 
the worst of it. Let's talk of something else where was 
I then? I've got it. [GusxAV' turns round again at the 
back of the square table and comes to ADOLF on his 
right.] You came here, old man, and opened my eyes to 
the mysteries of my art. As a matter of fact, I've been 
feeling for some time that my interest in painting was 
lessening, because it didn't provide me with a proper me- 
dium to express what I had in me; but when you gave 
me the reason for this state of affairs, and explained to 
me why painting could not possibly be the right form 
for the artistic impulse of the age, then I saw the true 
light and I recognized that it would be from now onward 
impossible for me to create in cplors. 

Gustav. Are you so certain, old man, that you won't 
be able to paint any more, that you won't have any 
relapse ? 

Adolf. Quite. I have tested myself. When I went to 
bed the evening after our conversation I reviewed your 
chain of argument point by point, and felt convinced that 
it was sound. But the next morning, when my head 
cleared again, after the night's sleep, the thought flashed 
through me like lightning that you might be mistaken all 
the same. I jumped up, and snatched up a brush and 
palette, in order to paint, but just think of it ! it was all 
up. I was no longer capable of any illusion. The whole 
thing was nothing but blobs of color, and I was horrified 
at the thought I could ever have believed I could con- 
vert anyone else to the belief that this painted canvas was 



THE CREDITOR 57 

anything else except painted canvas. The scales had fallen 
from my eyes, and I could as much paint again as I could 
become a child again. 

Gustaz 1 . You realized then that the real striving of the 
age, its aspiration for reality, for actuality, can only find 
a corresponding medium in sculpture, which gives bodies 
extension in the three dimensions. 

Adolf. [Hesitating.] The three dimensions? Yes 
in a word, bodies. 

Gutfav. And now you want to become a sculptor? 
That means that you were a sculptor really from the be- 
ginning ; you got off the line somehow, so you only needed 
a guide to direct you back again to the right track. I 
say, when you work now, does the great joy of creation 
come over you ? 

Adolf. Now, I live again. 

Gustav. May I see what you're doing? 

Adolf. [Undraping a figure on the small table.] A 
female figure. 

Gustav. [Probing.] Without a model, and yet so 
lifelike? 

Adolf. [Heavily.] Yes, but it is like somebody; ex- 
traordinary how this woman is in me, just as I am in her. 

Gustaru. That last is not so extraordinary do you 
know anything about transfusion? 

Adolf. Blood transfusion? Yes. 

Gustav. It seems to me that you've allowed your veins 
to be opened a bit too much. The examination of this 
figure clears up many things which I'd previously only 
surmised. You loved her infinitely? 

Adolf. Yes ; so much that I could never tell whether 
she is I, or I am her ; when she laughed I laughed ; when 
she cried I cried, and when just imagine it our child 
came into the world I suffered the same as she did. 

Gustav. [Stepping a little to the right.] Look here, 
old chap, I am awfully sorry to have to tell you, but 



58 THE CREDITOR 

the symptoms of epilepsy are already manifesting them- 
selves. 

Adolf. [Crushed.} In me? What makes you say so ? 

Gustav. Because I watched these symptoms in a 
younger brother of mine, who eventually died of excess. 
[He sits down in the armchair by the circular table.] 

Adolf. How did it manifest itself that disease, I 
mean? 

[GUSTAV gesticulates vividly; ADOLF watches with 
strained attention, and involuntarily imitates GUSTAV'S 
gestures.} 

Gustav. A ghastly sight. If you feel at all off color, 
I'd rather not harrow you by describing the symptoms. 

Adolf. [Nervously.] Go on ; go on. 

Gustav. Well, it's like this. Fate had given the young- 
ster for a wife a little innocent, with kiss-curls, dove-like 
eyes, and a baby face, from which there spoke the pure 
soul of an angel. In spite of that, the little one managed 
to appropriate the man's prerogative. 

Adolf. What is that? 

Gustav. Initiative, of course ; and the inevitable result 
was that the angel came precious near taking him away 
to heaven. He first had to be on the cross and feel 
the nails in his flesh. 

Adolf. [Suffocating.] Tell me, what was it like? 

Gustav. [Slowly.] There were times when he and I 
would sit quite quietly by each other and chat, and then 
I'd scarcely been speaking a few minutes before his face 
became ashy white, his limbs were paralyzed, and his 
thumbs turned in towards the palm of the hand. [With 
a gesture.} Like that! [ADOLF imitates the gesture.} 
And his eyes were shot with blood, and he began to chew, 
do yuu see, like this. [He moves his lips as though chew-> 
ing; \DOLF imitates him again.} The saliva stuck in his 
throat ; the chest contracted as though it had been com- 
pre? 1 od by screws on a joiner's bench ; there was a flicker 
in i\- : pupils like gas jets; foam spurted from his mouth, 



THE CREDITOR 59 

and he sank gently back in the chair as though he were 
drowning. Then 

Adolf. [Hissing.] Stopf 

Gustav. Then are you unwell ? 

Adolf. Yes. 

Gustav. [Gets up and fetches a glass of water front 
the table on the right near the center door.} Here, drink 
this, and let's change the subject. 

Adolf. [Drinks, limp.} Thanks ; go on. 

Gustav. Good! When he woke up he had no idea 
what had taken place. [He takes the glass back to the 
table.] He had simply lost consciousness. Hasn't that 
ever happened to you? 

Adolf. Now and again I have attacks of dizziness. 
The doctor puts it down to anaemia. 

Gustav. [On the right of ADOLF.] That's just how 
the thing starts, mark you. Take it from me, you're in 
danger of contracting epilepsy ; if you aren't on your 
guard, if you don't live a careful and abstemious life, all 
round. 

Adolf. What can I do to effect that? 

Gustav. Above all, you must exercise the most com- 
plete continence. 

Adolf. For how long? 

Gustav. Six months at least. 

Adolf. I can't do it. It would upset all our life to- 
gether. 

Gustav. Then it's all up with you. 

Adolf. I can't do it. 

Gustav. You can't save your own life? But tell me, 
as you've taken me into your confidence so far, haven't 
you any other wound that hurts you ? some other secret 
trouble in this multifarious life of ours, with all its numer- 
ous opportunities for jars and complications? There 
is usually more than one motif which is responsible for 
a discord. Haven't you got a skeleton in the cupboard, 
old chap, which vou hide even from yourself? You told 



60 THE CREDITOR 

me a minute ago y^u'd given your child to people to look 
after. Why didn't you keep it with you? [He goes be- 
hind the square table on the left and then behind tha 
sofa.] 

Adolf. [Covers the figure on the small table with a 
cloth.} It was my wife's wish to have it nursed outside 
the house. 

Gustav. The motive? Don't be afraid. 

Adolf. Because when the kid was three years old she 
thought it began to look like her first husband. 

Gustav. Re-a-lly? Ever seen the first husband? 

Adolf. No, never. I just once cast a cursory glance 
over a bad photograph, but I couldn't discover any 
likeness. 

Gustav. Oh, well, photographs are never like, and be- 
sides, his type of face may have changed with time. By 
the by, didn't that make you at all jealous? 

Adolf. Not a bit. The child was born a year after 
our marriage, and the husband was traveling when I met 
Thekla, here in this watering place in this very house. 
That's why we come here every summer. 

Gustav. Then all suspicion on your part was out of 
the question ? But so far as the intrinsic facts of the mat- 
ter are concerned you needn't be jealous at all, because it 
not infrequently happens that the children of a widow 
who marries again are like the deceased husband. Very 
awkward business, no question about it ; and that's why, 
don't you. know, the widows are burned alive in India. 
Tell me, now, didn't you ever feel jealous of him, of 
the survival of his memory in your own self ? Wouldn't 
it have rather gone against the grain if he had just met 
you when you were out for a walk, and, looking straight 
at Thekla, said "We," instead of "I"? "We." 

Adolf. I can't deny that the thought has haunted me. 

Gustav. [Sits down opposite ADOLF on the sofa on 
the left.} I thought as much, and you'll never get away 
from it. There are discords in life, you know, which 



THE CREDITOR 61 

never get resolved, so you must stuff your ears with 
wax, and work. Work, get older, and heap up over the 
coffin a mass of new impressions, and then the corpse 
will rest in peace. 

Adolf. Excuse my interrupting you but it is extraor- 
dinary at times how your way of speaking reminds 
me of Thekla. You've got a trick, old man, of winking 
with your right eye as though you were counting, and 
your gaze has the same power over me as hers has. 

Gustav. No, really? 

Adolf. And now you pronounce your "No, really?'* 
in the same indifferent tone that she does. "No, really?" 
is one of her favorite expressions, too, you know. 

Gustav. Perhaps there is a distant relationship be- 
tween us : all men and women are related of course. Any- 
way, there's no getting away from the strangeness of it, 
and it will be interesting for me to make the acquaintance 
of your wife, so as to observe this remarkable charac- 
teristic. 

Adolf. But just think of this, she doesn't take a single 
expression from me; why, she seems rather to make a 
point of avoiding all my special tricks of speech ; all the 
same, I have seen her make use of one of my gestures ; 
but it is quite the usual thing in married life for a hus- 
band and a wife to develop the so-called marriage like- 
ness. 

Gustav. Quite. But look here now. [He stands up.] 
That woman has never loved you. 

Adolf. Nonsense. 

Gustav. Pray excuse me, woman's love consists sim- 
ply in this in taking in, in receiving. She does not love 
the man from whom she takes nothing: she has never 
loved you. [He turns round behind the square table and 
walks fa ADOLF'S right.] 

Adolf. I suppose you don't think that she'd be able 
to love more than once? 

Gustav. No. Once bit, twice shy. After the first 



62 THE CREDITOR 

time, one keeps one's eyes open, but you have never been 
really bitten yet. You be careful of those who have ; 
they're dangerous customers. [He goes round the cir- 
cular table on the right.} 

Adolf. What you say jabs a knife into my flesh. I've 
got a feeling as though something in me were cut 
through, but I can do nothing to stop it all by myself, 
and it's as well it should be so, for abscesses will be 
opened in that way which would otherwise never be able 
to come to a head. She never loved me ? Why did she 
marry me, then? 

Gustav. Tell me first how it came about that she did 
marry you, and whether she married you or you her ? 

Adolf. God knows ! That's much too hard a question 
to- be answered offhand, and how did it take place ? it 
took more than a day. 

Gustav. Shall I guess? [He goes behind the round 
table, toward the left, atid sits on the sofa.] 

Adolf. You'll get nothing for your pains. 

Gustav. Not so fast ! From the insight which you've 
given me into your own character, and that of your wife, 
I find it pretty easy to work out the sequence of the 
whole thing. Listen to me and you'll be quite convinced. 
[Dispassionately and in an almost jocular tone.] The 
husband happened to be travelling on study and she was 
alone. At first she found a pleasure in being free. Then 
she imagined that she felt the void, for I presume that 
she found it pretty boring after being alone for a fort- 
night. Then he turned up, and the void begins grad- 
ually to be filled the picture of the absent man begins 
gradually to fade in comparison, for the simple reason 
that he is a long way off you know of course the phy- 
chological algebra of distance ? And when both of them, 
alone as they were, felt the awakening of passion, they 
were frightened of themselves, of him, of their own con- 
science. They sought for protection, skulked behind 
the fig-leaf, played at brother and sister, and the more 



THE CREDITOR 63 

sensual grew their feelings the more spiritual did they 
pretend their relationship really was. 

Adolf. Brother and sister! How did you know that? 

Gustav. I just thought that was how it was. Children 
piay at mother and father, but of course when they grow 
older they play at brother and sister so as to conceal 
what requires concealment ; they then discard their chaste 
desires ; they play blind man's- buff till they've caught 
each other in some dark corner, where they're pretty sure 
not to be seen by anybody. {With increased severity.] 
But they are warned by their inner consciences that an 
eye sees them through the darkness. They are afraid 
and in their panic the absent man begins to haunt their 
imagination to assume monstrous proportions to be- 
come metamorphosed he becomes a nightmare who op- 
poses them in that love's young dream of theirs. He 
becomes the creditor [he raffs slowly on the table three 
times with his finger, as though knocking at the door] 
who knocks at the door. They see his black hand thrust 
itself between them when their own are reaching after 
the dish of pottage. They hear his unwelcome voice in 
the stillness of the night, which is only broken by the 
beating of their own pulses. He doesn't prevent their 
belonging to each other, but he is enough to mar their 
happiness, and when they have felt this invisible power 
of his, and when at last they want to run away, and 
make their futile efforts to escape the memory which 
haunts them, the guilt which they have left behind, the 
public opinion which they are afraid of, and they lack 
the strength to bear their own guilt, then a scapegoat 
has to be exterminated and slaughtered. They posed 
as believers in Free Love, but they didn't have the pluck 
to go straight to him, to speak straight out to him and 
say, "We love each other." They were cowardly, and 
that's why the tyrant had to be assassinated. Am I 
not right? 



64 THE CREDITOR 

Adolf. Yes; but you're forgetting that she trained 
me, gave me new thoughts. 

Gustav. I haven't forgotten it. But tell me, how was 
it that she wasn't able to succeed in educating the other 
man in educating him into being really modern? 

Adolf. He was an utter ass. 

Gustav. Right you are he was an ass ; but that's 3 
fairly elastic word, and according to her description of 
him, in her novel, his asinine nature seemed to have con- 
sisted principally in the fact that he didn't understand 
her. Excuse the question, but is your wife really as 
deep as all that? I haven't found anything particularly 
profound in her writings. 

Adolf. Nor have I. I must really own that I too find 
it takes me all my time to understand her. It's as though 
the machinery of our brains couldn't catch on to each 
other properly as though something in my head got 
broken when. I try to understand her. 

Gustav. Perhaps you're an ass as well. 

Adolf. No, I flatter myself I'm not that, and I nearly 
always think that she's in the wrong and, for the sake 
of argument, would you care to read this letter which I 
got from her to-day? [He takes a letter out of his 
pocketbook.] 

Gustav. [Reads it cursorily.] Hum, I seem to - know 
the style so well. 

Adolf. Like a man's, almost. 

Gustav. Well, at any rate, I knew a man who had a 
style like that. [Standing up.] I see she goes on calling 
you brother all the time do you always keep up the 
comedy for the benefit of your two selves ? Do you still 
keep on using the fig leaves, even though they're a trifle 
withered you don't use any term of endearment? 

Adolf. No. In my view, I couldn't respect her quite 
so much if I did. 

Gustav. [Hands back the letter.] I see, and she calls 



THE CREDITOR 65 

herself "sister" so as to inspire respect. [He turns round 
and passes the square table on ADOLF'S right.] 

Adolf. I want to esteem her more than I do myself. 
I want her to be my better self. 

Gustav. Oh> you be your better self; though I quite 
admit it's less convenient than having somebody else to 
do it for you. Do you want, then, to be your wife's in- 
ferior ? 

Adolf. Yes, I do. I find pleasure in always allowing 
myself to be beaten by her a little. For instance, I 
taught her swimming, and it amuses me when she boasts 
about being better and pluckier than I am. At the be- 
ginning I simply pretended to be less skilful and cour- 
ageous than she was, in order to give her pluck, but one 
day, God knows how it came about, I was actually the 
worse swimmer and the one with less pluck. It seemed 
as though she'd taken all my grit away in real earnest. 

Gustav. And haven't you taught her anything else? 

Adolf. Yes but this is in confidence I taught her 
spelling, because she didn't know it. Just listen. When 
she took over the correspondence of the household I gave 
up writing letters, and will you believe it ? simply from 
lack of practice I've lost one bit of grammar after an- 
other in the course of the year. But do you think she 
ever remembers that she has to thank me really for her 
proficiency? Not for a minute. Of course, I'm the 
ass now. 

Gustav. Ah! really? You're the ass now, are you? 

Adolf. I'm only joking, of course. 

Gustav. Obviously. But this is pure cannibalism, 
isn't it? Do you know what I mean? Well, the sav- 
ages devour their enemies so as to acquire their best 
qualities. Well, this woman has devoured your soul, 
your pluck, your knowledge. 

Adolf. And my faith. It was I who kept her up to 
the mark and made her write her first book. 

Gustav. [With facial expression.} Re-a-lly? 



66 THE CREDITOR 

Adolf. It was I who fed her up with praise, even 
when I thought her work was no good. It was I who 
introduced her into literary sets, and tried to make her 
feel herself in clover ; defended her against criticism by 
my personal intervention. I blew courage into her, kept 
on blowing it for so long that I got out of breath my- 
self. I gave and gave and gave until nothing was left 
for me myself. Do you know I'm going to tell you 
the whole story do you know how the thing seems to 
me now? One's temperament is such an extraordinary 
thing, and when my artistic successes looked as though 
they would eclipse her her prestige I tried to buck her 
up by belittling myself and by representing that my art 
was one that was inferior to hers. I talked so much of 
the general insignificant role of my particular art, and 
harped on it so much, thought of so many good reasons 
for my contention, that one fine day I myself was soaked 
through and through with the worthlessness of the paint- 
er's art; so all that was left was a house of cards for 
you to blow down. 

Gustav. Excuse my reminding you of what you said, 
but at the beginning of our conversation you were assert- 
ing that she took nothing from you. 

Adolf. She doesn't now, at any rate; now there is 
nothing left to take. 

Gustav. So the snake has gorged herself, and now 
she vomits. 

Adolf. Perhaps she took more from me than I knew 
of. 

Gustav. Oh, you can reckon on that right enough 
she took without your noticing it. [He goes behind the 
square table and comes in front of the sofa.] That's 
what people call stealing. 

Adolf. Then what it conies to is that she hasn't edu- 
cated me at all? 

Gustav. Rather you her. Of course she knew the 



THE CREDITOR 67 

trick well enough of making- you believe the contrary. 
Might I ask how she pretended to educate you? 

Adolf. Oh at first hum ! 

Gustav. Well? [He leans his arms on the table.] 

Adolf. Well, I 

Gustav. No ; it was sht she. 

Adolf. As a matter of fact, I couldn't say which it 
was. 

Gustav. You see. 

Adolf. Besides, she destroyed my faith as well, and 
so I went backward until you came, old chap, and gave 
me a new faith. 

Gustav. [He laughs.] In sculpture? [He turns 
rmtnd by the square table and comes to ADOLF'S right.] 

Adolf. [Hesitating.] Yes. 

Gustav. And you believed in it? in- that abstract, 
obsolete art from the childhood of the world. Do you 
believe that by means of pure form and three dimensions 
no, you don't really that you can produce an effect 
on the real spirit of this age of ours, that you can create 
illusions without color? Without color, I say. Do you 
believe that? 

Adolf. [Tonelessly.] No. 

Gustav. Nor do I. 

Adolf. But why did you say you did? 

Gusfav. You make me pity you. 

Adolf. Yes, I am indeed to be pitied. And now I'm 
bankrupt, absolutely and the worst of it is I haven't 
got her any more. 

Gustav. [With a few steps toward the right.] What 
good would she be to you? She would be what God 
above was to me before I became an atheist a subject 
on which I could lavish my reverence. You keep your 
feeling of reverence dark, and let something else grow 
on top of it a healthy contempt, for instance. 

Adolf. I can't live without someone to reverence. 



68 THE CREDITOR 

Gustav. Slave! [He goes, round the fable on the 
right.] 

Adolf. And without a woman to reverence, to wor- 
ship. 

Gustav. Oh, the deuce! Then you go- back to that 
God of yours if you. really must have something on 
which you can crucify yourself ; but you call yourself 
an atheist when you've got the superstitious belief in 
women in your own blood ; you call yourself a free 
thinker when you can't think freely about a lot of silly 
women. Do you know what all this illusive quality, 
this sphinx-like mystery, this profundity in your wife's 
temperament all really comes to? The whole thing is 
sheer stupidity; why, the woman can't distinguish be- 
tween A.B. and a bull's foot for the life of her. And 
look here, it's something shoddy in the mechanism, that's 
where the fault lies. Outside it looks like a fifty-guinea 
hunting watch, open it and you find it's tuppenny-half- 
penny gun-metal. [He comes up to ADOLF.] Put her 
in trousers, draw a mustache under her nose with a 
piece of coal, and then listen to her in the same state 
of mind, and then you'll be perfectly convinced that it 
is quite a different kettle of fish altogether a gramo- 
phone which reproduces, with rather less volume, your 
words and other people's words. Do you know how a 
woman is constituted? Yes, of course you do. A boy 
with the breasts of a mother, an immature man, a pre- 
cocious child whose growth has been stunted, a chron- 
ically anaemic creature that has a regular emission of 
blood thirteen times in the year. What can you do with 
a thing like that? 

Adolf. Yes but but then how can I believe that 
we are really on an equality? 

Gustav. [Moves afwy from, Mm dgain toward the 
right.] Sheer hallucination! The fascination of the 
petticoat. But it is so ; perhaps, in fact you have become 
like each other, the levelling has taken place. But I say. 



THE CREDITOR 69 

[He takes out his watch.] We've been chatting for quite 
long enough. Your wife's bound to be here shortly. 
Wouldn't it be better to leave off now, so that you can 
rest for a little? [He comes nearer- and holds out his 
hand to say good-bye. ADOLF grips his hand all the 
tighter.] 

Adolf. No, don't leave me. I haven't got the pluck 
to be alone. 

Gustav. Only for a little while. Your wife will be 
coming in a minute. 

Adolf. Yes, yes she's coming. [Pause.] Strange, 
isn't it? I long for her and yet I'm frightened of her. 
She caresses me, she is tender, but her kisses have some- 
thing in them which smothers one, something which 
sucks, something which stupefies. It is as though I 
were the child at the circus whose face the clown is 
making up in the dressing-room, so that it can appear 
red-cheeked before the public. 

Gustav. [Leaning on the arm of ADOLF'S chair.'] I'm 
sorry for you, old man. Although I'm not a doctor, I am 
in a position to tell you that you are a dying man. One 
has only to look at your last pictures to be quite clear 
on the point. 

Adolf. What da you say what do you mean? 

Gustav. Your coloring is so watery, so consumptive 
and thin, that the yellow of the canvas shines through. 
It is just as though your hollow, ashen, white cheeks 
were looking out at me. 

Adolf. Ah ! 

Gustav. Yes', and that's not only my view. Haven't 
you read to-day's paper ? 

Adolf. [He starts.] No. 

Gustav. It's before you on the table. 

Adolf. [He gropes after the paper without having the 
courage to take it.] Is it in here? 

Gustav. Read it, or shall I read it to you ? 

Adolf. No. 



70 THE CREDITOR 

Gustav. [Turns to leave.] If you prefer it, I'll go. 

Adolf. No, no, no! I don't know how it is I think 
I am beginning to hate you, but all the same I can't do 
without your being near me. You have helped to drag 
me out of the slough which I was in, and, as luck would 
have it, I just managed to work my way clear and then 
you knocked me on the head and plunged me in again. 
As long as I kept my secrets to myself I still had some 
guts now I'm empty. There's a picture by an Italian 
master that describes- a torture scene. The entrails are 
dragged out of a saint by means of a windlass. The 
martyr lies there and sees himself getting continually 
thinner and thinner, but the roll on the windlass always 
gets perpetually fatter, and so it seems to- me that you 
get stronger since you've taken me up. and that you're 
taking away now with you, as you go, my innermost 
essence, the core of my character, and there's nothing 
left of me but an empty husk. 

Gustav. Oh, what fantastic notions; besides, your 
wife is coming back with your heart. 

Adolf. No; no longer, after you have burnt it for 
me. You have passed through me, changing everything 
in your track to ashes my art, my love, my hope, my 
faith. 

Gustav. [Comes near tcr him again?.] Were you so 
splendidly off before? 

Adolf. No, I wasn't, but the situation might have 
been been saved, now it's too late. Murderer! 

Gustav. We've wasted a little time. Now we'll do 
some sowing in the ashes. 

Adolf. I hate you ! I curse you ! 

Gustav. A healthy symptom. You've still got some 
strength, and now I'll screw up your machinery again. I 
say. [He goes behind- the square table on the left and 
comes in front of the sofa.} Will you listen to me and 
obey me ? 

Adolf. Do what you will with me, I'll obey. 



THE CREDITOR 71 

Gustav. Look at me. 

Adolf. [Looks him in the face.] And now you look 
at me again with that other expression in those eyes of 
yours, which draws me to you irresistibly. 

Gustav. Now listen to me. 

Adolf. Yes, but speak of yourself. Don't speak any 
more of me : it's as though I were wounded, every move- 
ment hurts me. 

Gustav-. Oh, no, there isn't much to say about me, 
don't you know. I'm a private tutor in dead languages 
and a widower, that's all. [He goes in front of the 
table.] Hold my hand. [ADOLF does so.] 

Adolf. What awful strength you must have, it seems 
as though a fellow were catching hold of an electric 
battery. 

Gustav. And just think, I was once quite as weak as 
you are. [Sternly.] Get up. 

Adolf. [Gets up.] I am like a child without any 
bones, and my brain is empty. 

Gustav. Take a walk through the room. 

Adolf. I can't. 

Gustav. You must ; if you don't I'll hit you. 

Adolf. [Stands up.] What do you say ? 

Gustav. I've told you I'll hit you. 

Adolf. [Jumps'- back t& the circular fable on the right, 
beside li im self. ] You ! 

Gustav. [Follows him.] Fravo! That's driven the 
blood to your head, and wakened up your self-respect. 
Now I'll give you an electric shock. Where's your wife? 

Adolf. Where's my wife? 

Gustaz'. Yes. 

Adolf. At a meeting. 

Gustav. Certain ? 

Adolf. Absolutely. 

Gustav. What kind of a meeting? 

Adolf. An orphan association. 

Gustav. Did you part friends? 



72 THE CREDITOR 

Adolf. [Hesitating.} Not friends. 

Gustav. Enemies, then? What did you say to make 
her angry? 

Adolf. You're terrible. I'm frightened of you. How 
did you manage to know that ? 

Gustav. I've just got three known quantities, and by 
their help I work out the unknown. What did you say 
to her, old chap? 

Adolf. I said only two words but two awful words. 
I regret them I regret them. 

Gustav. You shouldn't do that. Well, speak! 

Adolf. I said, "Old coquette." 

Gustos*. And what else? 

Adolf. I didn't say anything else. 

Gustav. Oh yes, you did ; you've only forgotten it. 
Perhaps because you haven't got the pluck to remember 
it. You've locked it up in a secret pigeonhole; open it. 

Adolf. I don't remember. 

Gustav. But I know what it was the sense was 
roughly this: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself 
to be always flirting at your age. You're getting too old 
to find any more admirers." 

Adolf. Did I say that possibly? How did you man- 
age to know it? 

Gustav. On my way here I heard her tell the story on 
the steamer. 

Adolf. To whom ? 

Gustav. [Walks up and d'own on the left.] To four 
boys, whom she happened to be with. She has a craze 
for pure boys, just like 

Adolf. A perfectly innocent penchant. 

Gustav. Quite as innocent as playing brother and sis- 
ter when one is father and mother. 
Adolf. You saw her, then? 

Gustav. Yes, of course ; but you've never seen her if 
you didn't see her then I mean ,if you weren't present 
and that's the reason, don't you know, why a husband 



THE. CREDITOR 73 

can never know his wife. Have you got her photograph ? 

Adolf. [Takes a photo out of his pocketbook.] [In- 
quisitively.] Here you are. 

Gustcev. [Takes* it.] Were you present when it was 
taken ? 

Adolf. No. 

Gustav. Just look at it. Is it like the portrait you 
painted? No, the features are the same, but the expres- 
sion is different. But you don't notice that, because you 
insist on seeing in it the picture of her which you've 
painted. Now look at this picture as a painter, without 
thinking of the original. What does it represent? I 
can see nothing but a tricked-out flirt, playing the decoy. 
Observe the cynical twist in the mouth, which you never 
managed to see. You see that her look is seeking a man 
quite different from you. Observe the dress is decollete, 
the coiffure titivated to the last degree, the sleeves finish 
high up-. You see? 

Adolf. Yes, now I see. 

Gustav. Be careful, my boy. 

Adolf. Of what? 

Gustav. [Gives him back the portrait.] Of her re- 
venge. Don't forget that by saying she was no longer 
attractive to men you wounded her in the one thing 
which she took most seriously. If you'd called her lit- 
erary works twaddle she'd have laughed, and pitied your 
bad taste, but now take it from me if she hasn't 
avenged herself already, it's not her fault. 

Adolf. I must be clear on that point. [He goes over 
to GUSTAV, and sits down in his previous place. GUSTAV 
approaches him.] 

Gustav. Find out yourself. 

Adolf. Find out myself? 

Gustav. Investigate. I'll help you, if you like. 

Adolf. [After a pause.] Good. Since I've been con- 
demned to death once so be it sooner or later it's all 
the same what's to happen. 



74 THE CREDITOR 

Gustarv. One question first. Hasn't your wife got just 
one weak point ? 

Adolf. Not that I know of. [ADOLF goes' to the open 
door in the center.] Yes. You can hear the steamer in 
the Sound now she'll be here soon. And I must go 
down to meet her. 

Gustav. [Holding him back.] No, stay here. Be 
rude to her. If she's got a good conscience she'll let you 
have it so hot and strong that you won't know where 
you are. But if she feels guilty she'll come and caress 
you. 

Adolf. Are you so sure of it? 

Gustav. Not absolutely. At times a hare goes back in 
its tracks, but I'm not going to let this one escape me. 
My room is just here. [Points to the door on the right 
and goes behind ADOLF'S chair.] I'll keep this position, 
and be on the lookout, while you play your game here, 
and when you've played it to the end we'll exchange 
parts. I'll go in the cage and leave myself to the tender 
mercies of the snake, and you can stand at the keyhole. 
Afterward we'll meet in the park and compare notes. 
But pull yourself together, old man, and if you show 
weakness I'll knock on the floor twice with a chair. 

Adolf. [Getting up.] Right. But don't go away: I 
must know that you're in the next room. 

Gustav. You can trust me for that. But be careful 
you aren't afraid when you see later on how I can dis- 
sect a human soul and lay the entrails here on the table. 
It may seem a bit uncanny to beginners, but if you've 
seen it done once you don't regret it. One thing more, 
don't say a word that you've met me, or that you have 
made any acquaintance during her absence not a word. 
I'll ferret out her weak point myself. Hush ! She's al- 
ready up there in her room. She's whistling then she's 
in a temper. Now stick to it. [He points to the left.] 
And sit here on this chair, then she'll have to sit there 



THE CREDITOR 75 

[he points to the sofa on the left], and I can keep you 
both in view at the same time. 

Adolf. We've still got an hour before dinner. There 
are no new visitors, for there has been no bell to an- 
nounce them. We'll be alone together more's the pity ! 

Gustav. You seem pretty limp. Are you unwell? 

Adolf. I'm all right ; unless, you know, I'm frightened 
of what's going to happen. But I can't help its happen- 
ing. The stone rolls, but it was not the last drop of 
water that made it roll, nor yet the first everything 
taken together brought it about. 

Gustav. Let it roll, then ; it won't have any peace un- 
til it does. Good-bye, for the time being. 

[Exit on the right. ADOLF nods to him, stands up for 
a short time, looking at the photograph, tears it to pieces, 
and throws the fragments behind the circular table on 
the right; he then sits down in his previous place, ner- 
vously arranges his tie, runs his fingers through his hair, 
fumbles with the lapels of his coat, etc. THEKLA enters 
on the left.] 

SCENE II 

Thekla. [Frank, cheerful and engaging, goes straight 
up to her husband and kisses him.] Good-day, little 
brother; how have you been getting on? [She stands 
on his left.] 

Adolf. [Half overcome but jocularly resisting.] What 
mischief have you been up to, for you to kiss me ? 

Thekla. Yes, let me just confess. Something very 
naughty I've spent an awful lot of money. 

Adolf. Did you have a good time, then ? 

Thekla. Excellent. [She goes to his right.] But not 
at the Congress. It was as dull as ditch-water, don't you 
know. But how has little brother been passing the time, 
when his little dove had flown away? [She looks round 
the room, as though looking for somebody or scenting 



;6 THE CREDITOR 

something, and thus comes behind the sofa on the 
left.} 

Adolf. Oh, the time seemed awfully long. 

Thekla. Nobody to visit you? 

Adolf. Not a soul. [THEKLA looks him up and down 
and sits down on the sofa.] 

Thekla. Who sat here? 

Adolf. Here? No one. 

Thekla. Strange! The sofa is as warm as anything, 
and there's the mark of an elbow in the cushion. Have 
you had a lady visitor? [She stands up.] 

Adolf. Me? You're not serious. 

Thekla. [Turns away from the square table and comes 
to ADOLF'S right.] How he blushes ! So the little brother 
wants to mystify me a bit, does he? Well, let him 
come here and confess what he's got on his conscience to 
his little wife. [She draws him to her. ADOLF lets his 
head sink on her breast; laughing.] 

Adolf. You're a regular devil, do you know that? 

Thekla. No, I know myself so little. 

Adolf. Do you never think about yourself? 

Thekla. [Looking in the air, while she looks at him 
searchingly.] About myself? I only think about my- 
self. I am a shocking egoist, but how philosophical 
you've become, my dear. 

Adolf. Put your hand on my forehead. 

Thekla. [Playfully.] Has he got bees in his bonnet 
again? Shall I drive them away? [She kisses him on 
the forehead.] There, it's all right now? [Pause, mov- 
ing away from him to the right.] Now let me hear what 
he's been doing to amuse himself. Painted anything 
pretty ? 

Adolf. No; I've given up painting. 

Thekla. What, you've given up painting! 

Adolf. Yes, but don't scold me about it. How could 
I help it if I wasn't able to paint any more? 

Thekla. What are you going to take up then? 



THE CREDITOR 77 

'Adolf. I'm going to be a sculptor. [THEKLA passes 
over in front of the square table and in front of the 
sofa.] Yes, but don't blame me just look at this figure. 

Thekla. [Undrapes the figure on the table.] Hello, I 
say! Who's this meant to be? 

Adolf. Guess ! 

Thekla. [Tenderly.] Is it meant to be his little wife? 
And he isn't ashamed of it, is he? 

Adolf. Hasn't he hit the mark? 

Thekla. How can I tell? the face is lacking. [She 
drapes the figure.] 

Adolf. Quite sobut all the rest? Nice? 

Thekla. [Taps him caressingly on the cheek.] Will 
he shut up? Otherwise I'll kiss him. [She goes behind 
him; ADOLF defending himself.] 

Adolf. Look out, look out, anybody might come. 

Thekla. [Nestling close to him.] What do I care! 
I'm surely allowed to kiss my own husband. That's only 
my legal right. 

Adolf. Quite so ; but do you know the people here in 
the hotel take the view that we're not married because we 
kiss each other so much, and our occasional quarrelling 
makes them all the more cocksure about it, because lov- 
ers usually carry on like that. 

Thekla. But need there be any quarrels? Can't he 
always be as sweet and good as he is at present? Let 
him tell me. Wouldn't he like it himself? Wouldn't 
he like us to be happy ? 

Adolf. I should like it, but 

Thekla. [With a step to the right.] Who put it into 
his head not to paint any more? 

Adolf. You're always scenting somebody behind me 
and my thoughts. You're jealous. 

Thekla. I certainly am. I was always afraid someone 
might estrange you from me. 

Adolf. You're afraid of that, you say, though you 



78 THE CREDITOR 

know very well that there isn't a woman living who can 
supplant you that I can't live without you. 

Thekla. I wasn't frightened the least bit of females. 
It was your friends I was afraid of: they put all kinds 
of ideas into your head. 

Adolf. [Probing.} So you were afraid? What were 
you afraid of? 

Thekla. Someone has been here. Who was it? 

Adolf. Can't you stand my looking at you? 

Thekla. Not in that way. You aren't accustomed to 
look at me like that. 

Adolf. How am I looking at you then? 

Thekla'. You are spying underneath your eyelids. 

Adolf. Right through. Yes, I want to know what it's 
like inside. 

Thekla. I don't mind. As you like. I've nothing to 
hide, but your very manner of speaking has changed 
you employ expressions. [Probing.] You philosophize. 
Eh? [She goes toward him in a menacing manner.] 
Who has been here ? 

Adolf. My doctor nobody else. 

Thekla. Your doctor! What doctor? 

Adolf. The doctor from Stromastad. 

Thekla. What's his name? 

Adolf. Sjoberg. 

Thekla. What did he say? 

Adolf. Well he said, among other things that I'm 
pretty near getting epilepsy. 

Thekla. [With a step to the right.] Among other 
things! What else did he say? 

Adoif. Oh, something extremely unpleasant. 

Thekla. Let me hear it. 

Adolf. He forbade us to live together as man and 
wife for some time. 

Thekla. There you are. I thought as much. They 
want to separate us. I've already noticed it for some 



THE CREDITOR 79 

time. [She goes round the circular table toward the 
right.] 

Adolf. There was nothing 1 for you to notice. There 
was never the slightest incident of that description. 

Thekla. What do you mean? 

Adolf. How could it have been possible for you to 
have seen something- which wasn't there if your fear 
hadn't heated your imagination to so violent a pitch that 
you saw what never existed ? As a matter of fact, what 
were you afraid of ? That I might borrow another's eyes 
so as to see you as you really were, not as you appeared 
to me? 

Thekla. Keep your imagination in check, Adolf. Im- 
agination is the beast in the human soul. 

Adolf. Where did you get this wisdom from ? From 
the pure youths on the steamer, eh ? 

Thekla. [Without losing her self-possession.] Cer- 
tainly even youth can teach one a great deal. 

Adolf. You seem for once in a way, to be awfully 
keen on youth? 

Thekla. [Standing by the door in the center.] I have 
always been so, and that's how it came about that I loved 
you. Any objection? 

Adolf. Not at all. But I should very much prefer to 
be the only one. 

Thekla. [Coming forward on his right, and joking as 
though speaking to a child.] Let the little brother look 
here. I've got such a large heart that there is room in it 
for a great many, not only for him. 

Adolf. But little brother doesn't want to know any- 
thing about the other brothers. 

Thekla. Won't he just come here and let himself be 
teased by his little woman, because he's jealous no, en- 
vious is the right word. [Two knocks with a chair are 
heard, from the room on the right.] 

Adolf. No, I don't want to fool about, I want to speak 
seriously. 



8o THE CREDITOR 

Thekla* [As though speaking to a child.] Good Lord ! 
he wants to speak seriously. Upon my word ! Has the 
man become serious for once in his life? [Comes on 
his left, takes hold of his head and kisses him.] Won't 
he laugh now a little? [ADOLF lawghs.] 

Thekla. There, there! 

Adolf. {Laughs involuntarily.] You damned witch, 
you ! I really believe you can bewitch people. 

Thekla. {Comes in front of the sofa.] He can see 
for himself, and that's why he mustn't worry me, other- 
wise I shall certainly bewitch him. 

Adolf. [Springs up.] Thekla! Sit for me a minute 
in profile, and I'll do the face for your figure. 

Thekla. With pleasure. [She turns her profile toward 
him.] 

Adolf. [Sits down, fixe-s her with his eyes and acts 
as though he were modelling.] Now, don't think of me, 
think of somebody else. 

Thekla. I'll think of my last conquest. 

Adolf. The pure youth ? 

Thekla. Quite right. He had the duckiest, sweetest 
little mustache, and cheeks like cherries, so delicate and 
soft, one could have bitten right into them. 

Adolf. [Depressed.] Just keep that twist in your 
mouth. 

Thekla. What twist? 

Adolf. That cynical, insolent twist which I've never 
seen before. 

Thekla. [Makes a grimace.} Like that? 

Adolf. Quite. {He gets up.] Do you know how Bret 
Harte describes the adulteress? 

Thekla. [Laughs.] No, I've never read that Bret 
What-do-you-call-him. 

Adolf. Oh ! she's a pale woman- who never blushes. 

Thekla. Never? Oh yes, she does; oh yes, she does. 
Perhaps when she meets her lover, even though her hus- 
band and Mr. Bret didn't manage to see anything of it. 



THE CREDITOR 8r 

'Adolf. Are you so certain, about it ? 

Thekla. [As before.] Absolutely. If the man isn't 
able to drive her very blood to her head, how can he 
possibly enjoy the pretty spectacle? [She passes by him 
toward the right.] 

Adolf. [Reiving.] Thekla! Thekla! 

Thekla. Little fool! 

Adolf. [Sternly.] Thekla! 

Thekla. Let him call me his own dear little sweet- 
heart, and I'll get red all over before him, shall I? 

Adolf. [Disarmed.] I'm so angry with you, you 
monster, that I should like to bite you. [He comes 
nearer to her.] 

Thekla. [Playing with him.] Well, come and bite 
me; come. [She holds out her arms toward him.] 

Adolf. [Takes her by the neck and kisses her.] Yes, 
my dear, I'll bite you so that you die. 

Thekla. [Joking.] Look out, somebody might come. 
[She goes to the fireplace on the right and leans on the 
chimney piece. ] 

Adolf. Oh, what do I care if they do? I don't care 
about anything in the whole world so long as I have you. 

Thekla. And if you don't have me any more? 

Adolf. [Sinks down on the chair on the left in front 
of the circular table.] Then I die! 

Thekla. All right, you needn't be frightened of that 
the least bit : I'm already much too old, you see, for any- 
body to like me. 

Adolf. You haven't forgotten those words of mine ? 
I take them back. 

Thekla. Can you explain to me why it is that you're 
so jealous, and at the same time so sure of yourself? 

Adolf. No, I can't explain it, but it may be that the 
thought that another man has possessed you, gnaws and 
consumes me. It seems to me at times as though our 
whole love were a figment of the brain a passion that 
had turned into a formal matter of honor. I know 



82 THE CREDITOR 

nothing which would be more intolerable for me to 
bear, than for him to have the satisfaction of making 
me unhappy. Ah, I've never seen him, but the very 
thought that there is such a man who watches in secret 
for my unhappiness, who conjures down on me the curse 
of heaven day by day, who would laugh and gloat over 
my fall the very idea of the thing lies like a nightmare 
on my breast, drives me to you, holds me spellbound, 
cripples me. 

Thekla. [Goes behind the circular table and comes on 
ADOLF'S right.} Do you think I should like to give him 
that satisfaction, that I should like to make his prophecy 
come true? 

Adolf. No, I won't believe that of you. 

Thekla. Then if that's so, why aren't you easy on the 
subject? 

Adolf. It's your flirtations which keep me in a chronic 
state of agitation. Why do you go on playing that 
game? 

Thekla. It's no game. I want to be liked, that's all. 

Adolf. Quite so ; but only liked by men. 

Thekla. Of course. Do you suggest it would be pos- 
sible for one of us women to get herself liked by other 
women ? 

Adolf. I say. [Pause.] Haven't you heard recently 
from him? 

Thekla, Not for tbt last six months. 

Adolf. Do you never think of him? 

Thekla. [After a pause, quickly and tontlessly.] No. 
[With a step toward the left.] Since the death of the 
child there is no longer any tie between us. [Peruse.] 

Adolf. And you never see him in the street? 

Thekla. No ; he must have buried himself somewhere 
on the west coast. But why do you harp on that sub- 
ject just now? 

Adolf. I don't know. When I was so alone these last 



THE CREDITOR 83 

few days, it just occurred to me what he must have felt 
like when he was left stranded. 

Thekla. I believe you've got pangs of conscience. 

Adolf. Yes. 

Thekla. You think you're a thief, don't you? 

Adolf. Pretty near. 

Thekla. All right. You steal women like you steal 
children or fowl. You regard me to some extent like 
his real or personal property. Much- obliged. 

Adolf. No ; I regard you as his wife, and that's- more 
than property ; it can't be made up in damages. 

Thekla. Oh yes, it can. If you happen- to hear one 
fine day that he has married again, these whims and 
fancies of yours will disappear. [She comes over to 
him.] Haven't you made up. for him to me? 

Adolf. Have I ? and did you use to love him in those 
days? 

Thekla. [Goes behind him to the fireplace on the 
right.] Of course I loved him certainly. 

Adoif. And afterward? 

Thekla. I got tired of him. 

Adolf. And just think, if you get tired of me in the 
same way? 

Thekla. That will never be. 

Adolf. But suppose another man came along with all 
the qualities that you want in a man? Assume the 
hypothesis, wouldn't you leave me in that case? 

Thekla. No. 

Adolf. If he riveted you to him so strongly that you 
couldn't be parted from him, then of course you'd give 
me up? 

Thekla. No ; I have never yet said anything like that. 

Adolf. But you can't love two people at the same 
time? 

Thekla. Oh, yes. Why not? 

Adolf. I can't understand it. 

Thekla. Is anything then impossible simply because 



84 THE CREDITOR 

you can't understand it? All men are not made on the 
same lines, you know. 

Adolf. [Getting up a few steps to the left.] I am 
now beginning to understand. 

Thekla. No, really? 

Adolf. [Sits down in his previous place by the square 
table.] No, really? [Pause, during which he appears 
to be making an effort to remember something, but with- 
out success.] Thekla, do you know that your frankness 
is beginning to be positively agonizing? [THEKLA 
moves away from him behind the square table and goes 
behind the sofa on the left.] Haven't you told me, times 
out of number, that frankness is the most beautiful vir- 
tue you know, and that I must spend all my time in 
acquiring it? But it seems to me you take cover behind 
your frankness. 

Thekla. Those are the new tactics, don't you see. 

Adolf. [After a pause.] I don't know how it is, but 
this place begins to feel uncanny. If you don't mind, 
we'll travel home this very night. 

Thekla. What an idea you've got into your head 
again. I've just arrived, and I've no wish to travel off 
again. [She sits down on the sofa on the- left.] 

Adolf. But if I want it? 

Thekla. Nonsense! What do I care what you want? 
Travel alone. 

Adolf. [Seriously.] I now order you to travel with 
me by the next steamer. 

Thekla. Order ? What do you mean by that ? 

Adolf. Do you forget that you're my wife? 

Thekla. [Getting up.] Do you forget that you're my 
husband ? 

Adolf. [Following her exam-ple.} That's just the dif- 
ference between one sex and the other. 

Thekla. That's right, speak in that tone you have 
never loved me. [She goes past him to the right up to 
the fireplace.] 



THE CREDITOR 85 

Adolf. Really? 

Thekla. No, for loving means giving. 

Adolf. For a man to love means giving, for a woman 
to love means taking and I've given, given, given. 

Thekla. Oh, to be sure, you've given a fine lot, 
haven't you? 

Adolf. Everything. 

Thekla. [Leans on the chimney piece.] There has 
been a great deal besides that. And even if you did give 
me everything, I accepted, it. What do you mean by 
coming now and handing the bill for your presents? If 
I did take them, I proved to you- by that very fact that 
I loved you. [She approaches him.] A girl only takes 
presents from her lover. 

Adolf. From her lover, I agree: There you spoke 
the truth. [With a step to the left.] I was just your 
lover, but never your husband. 

Thekla. A man ought to be jolly grateful when he's 
spared the necessity of playing cover, but if you aren't 
satisfied with the position you can have your conge. I 
don't like a husband. 

Adolf. No, I noticed as much, for when I remarked, 
some time back, that you wanted to sneak away from 
me, and get a set of your own, so- as to be able to deck 
yourself out with my feathers, to scintillate with my 
jewels, I wanted to remind you of your guilt. And then 
I changed from your point of view into that incon- 
venient creditor, whom a woman would particularly pre- 
fer to keep at a safe distance from one, and then you 
would have liked to have cancelled the debt, and to avoid 
getting any more into my debt ; you ceased to pilfer 
my coffers and transferred your attentions to others. I 
was your husband without having wished it, and your 
hate began to arise ; but now I'm going to be your hus- 
band, whether you want it or not. I can't be your lover 
any more, that's certain ! [He sits down in his previous 
place on the right.] 



86 THE CREDITOR 

Thekla, [Half joking, she moves away behind the 
table and goes behind the sofa.] Don't talk such non- 
sense. 

Adolf. You be careful! It's a dangerous game, to 
consider everyone else an ass and only oneself smart. 

Thekla. Everybody does that more or less. 

Adolf. And I'm just beginning to suspect that that 
husband of yours wasn't such an a$s after all. 

Thekla. Good God ! I really- believe you're beginning 
to have sympathy for him ? 

Adolf. Yes, almost. 

Thekla- Well, look here. Wouldn't you like to make 
his acquaintance, so as to pour out your heart to him if 
you want to? What a charming picture! But I, too, 
begin to feel myself drawn to him somehow. I'm tired 
of being the nurse of a baby like you. [She goes a few 
steps forward and passes by ADOLF on the right.] He 
at any rate was a man, evea though he did make the 
mistake of being my husband. 

Adolf. Hush, hush ! But don't talk so loud, we might 
be heard. 

Thekla.. What does it matter, so long as we're taken 
for man and wife ? 

Adolf. So this is what it comes to, then? You are 
now beginning to be keen both on manly men and pure 
boys. 

Thekla. There are no limits to my keenness, as you 
see. And my heart is open to the whole world, great and 
small, beautiful and ugly. I love the whole world. 

Adolf. [Standing up.] Do you know what that 
means ? 

Thekla. No, I don't know, I only feel. 

Adolf. It means that old age has arrived. 

Thekla. Are you starting on that again now? Take 
care! 

Adolf. You take care ! 

Thekla. What of? 



THE CREDITOR 87 

Adolf. Of this knife. [Goes toward her.] 

Thekla. [Flippantly.] Little brother shouldn't play 
with such dangerous toys. [She passes by him behind 
the sofa.] 

Adolf. I'm not playing any longer. 

Thekla. [Leaning on the arm of the sofd.] Really, 
he's serious, is he, quite serious? Then I'll jolly well 
show you that you made a mistake. I mean you'll 
never see it yourself, you'll never know it. The whole 
world will be up to it, but you jolly well won't, you'll 
have suspicions and surmises and you won't enjoy a 
single hour of peace. You will have the consciousness 
of being ridiculous and of being deceived, but you'll 
never have proofs in your hand, because a husband never 
manages to get them. [She makes a few steps to the 
right in front, of him and toward him.] That will teach 
you to -know me. 

Adolf. [Sits down in his previous place by the fable 
on the left.] You hate me? 

Thekla. No, I don't hate you, nor do I think that I 
could ever get to hate you. Simply because you're a 
child. 

Adolf. Listen to me! Just think of the time when 
the storm broke over us. [Standing up.] You lay there 
like a new-born child and shrieked ; you caught hold 
of my knees and I had to kiss your eyes to sleep. Then 
I was your nurse, and I had to be careful that you 
didn't go out into the street without doing your hair. 
I had to send your boots to the shoemaker. I had to 
take care there was something in the larder. I had to 
sit by your side and hold your hand in mine by the 
hour, for you were frightened, frightened of the whole 
world, deserted by your friends, crushed by public opin- 
ion. I had to cheer you up till my tongue stuck to my 
palate and my head ached ; I had to pose as. a strong 
man, and compel myself to believe in the future, until 
at length I succeeded in breathing life into you while 



88 THE CREDITOR 

you lay there like the dead. Then it was me you ad- 
mired, then it was I who was the man ; not an athlete 
like the man you deserted, but the man of psychic 
strength, the man of magnetism, who transferred his 
moral force into your enervated muscles and filled your 
empty brain with new electricity. And then I put you 
on your feet again, got a small court for you, whom I 
jockeyed into admiring you as a sheer matter of friend- 
ship to myself, and I made you mistress over me and 
my home. I painted you in my finest pictures, in rose 
and azure on a ground of gold, and there was no ex- 
hibition in which you didn't have the place of honor. 
At one moment you were called St. Cecilia, then you 
were Mary Stuart, Karm Mansdotter, Ebba Brahe, and 
so I succeeded in awakening and stimulating your in- 
terests and so I compelled the yelping rabble to look at 
you with my own dazzled eyes. I impressed your per- 
sonality on them by sheer force. I compelled them until 
you had won their overwhelming sympathy so that at 
last you have the free entree. And when I had created 
you in this way it was all up with my own strength 
I broke down, exhausted by the strain. [He sits down 
in his previous place. THEKLA turns toward the fere- 
place on the right.] I had lifted you up, but at the same 
time I brought myself down ; I fell ill ; and my illness 
began to bore you, just because things were beginning 
ra look a bit rosy for you and then it seemed to me 
many times as though some secret desire were driving 
you to get away from your creditor and accomplice. 
Your love became that of a superior sister, and through 
want of a better part I fell into the habit of the new 
role of the* little brother. Your tenderness remained the 
same as ever, in' fact, it has rather increased, but it is 
tinged with a grain of pity which is counterbalanced by 
a strong dose of contempt, and that will increase until 
it becomes contempt, even as my genius is on the wane 
and your star is in the ascendant. It seems, too, as 



THE CREDITOR 89 

though your source were likely to dry up, when I leave 
off feeding it, or, rather, as soon as you show that you 
don't want to draw your inspiration from me any longer. 
And so we both go down, but you need somebody you 
can put in your pocket, somebody new, for you are weak 
and incapable of carrying any moral burden yourself. 
So I became the scapegoat to be slaughtered alive, but 
all the same we had become like twins in the course of 
years, and when you cut through the thread of my long- 
ing, you little thought that you were throttling your own 
self. You are a branch from my tree, and you wanted 
to cut yourself free from your parent stem before it 
had struck roots, but you are unable to flourish on your 
own, and the tree in its turn couldn't do without its 
chief branch, and so both perish. 

Thekla. Do you mean, by all that, that you've writ- 
ten my books ? 

Adolf. No; you say that so as to provoke me into a 
lie. I don't express myself so crudely as you, and I've 
just spoken for five minutes on end simply so as to re- 
produce all the nuances, all the half-tones, all the transi- 
tions, but your barrel organ has only one key. 

Thekla* [Walking up and down- on the right.] Yes, 
yes ; but the gist of the whole thing is that you've written 
my books. 

Adolf. No, there's no gist. You can't resolve a sym- 
phony into one key ; you can't translate a multifarious 
life into a single cipher. I never said anything so crass 
as that I'd written your books. 

Theklcn But you meant it all the same. 

Adolf. [Furious.] I never meant it. 

Thekla. But the result 

Ad.olf. [Wildly.] There's no result if one doesn't 
add. There is a quotient, a long infinitesimal figure of a 
quotient, but I didn't add. 

Thekla. You didn't, but I can. 

Adolf. I quite believe you, but I never did. 



90 THE CREDITOR 

Thekla. But you wanted to. 

Adolf. [Exhausted, shutting his eyes.] No, no, no 
don't speak to me any more, I'm getting convulsions 
be quiet, go away ! You're flaying my brain with your 
brutal pincers you're thrusting your claws into my 
thoughts and tearing them. [He loses consciousness, 
stares in front of hint and turns his thumbs inward.] 

Thekla. [Tenderly coming toward him-.] What is it, 
dear? Are you ill? [ADOLF beats around him. THEKLA 
takes her handkerchief, pours waiter on to it out of the 
bottle on the table right of t'he center door, and cools 
his forehead with it.] Adolf ! 

Adolf. [He shakes his head.] Yes. 

Thekla. Do you see now that you were wrong? 

Adolf. [After a pause'.] Yes, yes-, yes I see it. 

Thekla. And you ask me to forgive you? 

Adolf. Yes, yes, yes I ask' you to forgive me; but 
don't talk right into- my brain any more. 

Thekla. Now kiss my -hand. 

Adolf. I'll kiss your hand, if only you won't speak to 
me any more. 

Thekia. And now you'll go out and get some fresh 
air before dinner. 

Adolf, [Getting up'.] Yes, that will do me good, and 
afterward we'll pack up and go away. 

Thekla. No. [She moves away from him up to the 
fireplace on the' right.] 

Adolf. Why not? You must have some reason. 

Thekla. The simple reason that I've arranged to be 
at the reception this evening. 

Adolf. That's it, is it? 

Thekla. That's it right enough. I've promised to be 
there. 

Adolf. Promised? You probably said that you'd try 
to come ; it doesn't prevent you from explaining that you 
have given up your intention. 



THE CREDITOR 91 

Thekla. No, I'm not like you: my word is binding 
on me. 

Adolf. One's word can be binding without one being 
obliged to respect every casual thing one lets fall in 
conversation ; or did somebody make you promise that 
you'd go-? In that case, you. can ask him to release you 
because your husband is ill. 

Thekla. No, I've no inclination to do so. And, be- 
sides, you're not so ill that you can't quite well come 
along too. 

Adolf. Why must I always come along too? Does 
it contribute to your greater serenity? 

Thekla* I don't understand what you mean. 

Adolf. That's what you always say when you know I 
mean something which you don't like. 

Thekla. Re-a-lly? And why shouldn't I like it? 

Adolf, Stop! stop-! Don't start all over again good- 
bye for the present I'll be back soon; I hope that in 
the meanwhile you'll have thought better of it. [Ex-it 
through the central door and then toward the right. 
THEKLA accompanies him to the back of the stage. Gus- 
TAV enters, after" a pause, from the right.] 



SCENE III 

[GUSTAV goes straight up to the table on the left and 
takes up a paper without apparently seeing THEKLA.] 

Thekla. [Starts, then cotftrols herself.] You? [She 
comes forward.] 

Gustav. It's me excuse me. 

Thekla. [On his left.] Where do you come from? 

Gustav. I came by the highroad, but I won't stay 
on here after seeing that 

Thekla. Oh, you stay Well, it's a long time. 

Gustav. You're right, a very long time. 

Thekla. You've altered a great deal, Gustav. 



92 THE CREDITOR 

Gustav. But you, on the other hand, my dear Thekla, 
are still quite as fascinating as ever almost younger, in 
fact. Please forgive me. I wouldn't for anything dis- 
turb your happiness by my presence. If I'd known that 
you were staying here I would never have 

Thekla. Please please, stay. It may be that you find 
it painful. 

Gustav, It's all right so far as I'm concerned. I only 
thought that whatever I said I should always have to 
run the risk of wounding you. 

Thekla. [Passes in front of him toward the right.] 
Sit down for a moment, Gustav ; you don't wound me, 
because you have the unusual gift which always dis- 
tinguished you of being subtle and tactful. 

Gustav. You're too kind ; but how on earth can one 
tell if your husband would regard me in the same light 
that you do? 

Thekla. Quite the contrary. Why, he's just been ex- 
pressing himself with the utmost sympathy with regard 
to you. 

Gustav. Ah! Yes, everything dies away, even the 
names which we cut on the tree's bark not even malice 
can persist for long in these temperaments of ours. 

Thekla. He's never entertained malice against you 
why, he doesn't know you at all and, so far as I'm con- 
cerned, I always entertained the silent hope that I would 
live to see the time in which you would approach each 
other as friends or at least meet each other in my pres- 
ence, shake hands, and part. 

Gustav. It was also my secret desire to see the woman 
whom I loved more than my life in really good hands, 
and, as a matter of fact, I've only heard the very best 
account of him, while I know all his work as well. All 
the same, I felt the need of pressing his hand before I 
grew old, looking him in the face, and asking him to 
preserve the treasure which providence had entrusted to 
him, and at the same time I wanted to extinguish the 



THE CREDITOR 93 

hate which was burning inside me, quite against my will, 
and I longed to find peace of soul and resignation, so as 
to be able to finish in quiet that dismal portion of my 
life which is still left me. 

Thekla. Your words come straight from your heart; 
you have understood me, Gustav thanks. [She holds 
out her hand.] 

Gustav. Ah, I'm a petty man. Too insignificant to 
allow of you thriving in my shadow. Your tempera- 
ment, with its thirst for freedom, could not be satisfied 
by my monotonous life, the slavish routine to which I 
was condemned, the narrow circle in which I had to 
move. I appreciate that, but you understand well enough 
you who are such an expert psychologist what a 
struggle it must have cost me to acknowledge that to 
myself. 

Thekla. How noble, how great to acknowledge one's 
weakness so frankly it's not all men who can bring 
themselves to that point. [She sighs.] But you are al- 
ways an honest character, straight and reliable which I 
knew how to respect but 

Gustav. I wasn't not then, but suffering purges, care 
ennobles, and and I have suffered. 

Thekla. [Comes nearer to him.] Poor Gustav, can 
you forgive me, can you? Tell me. 

Gustav. Forgive? What? It is I who have to ask 
you for forgiveness. 

Thekla. [Striking another key.] I do believe that 
we're both crying though we're neither of us chickens. 

Gustav. [Softly sliding into another tone.] Chickens, 
indeed! I'm an old man, but you you're getting 
younger every day. 

Thekla. Do you mean it? 

Gustav. And how well you know how to dress ! 

Thekla. It was you and no one else who taught me 
that. Do you still remember finding out my special 
colors ? 



94 THE CREDITOR 

Gustav. No. 

Thekla, It was quite simple, don't you remember? 
Come, I still remember distinctly how angry you used to 
be with me if I ever had anything else except pink. 

Gustav. I angry with you? I was never angry with 
you. 

Thekla. Oh yes, you were, when you wanted to teach 
me how to think. Don't you remember? And I wasn't 
able to catch on. 

Gustav. Not able to think ? Everybody can think, and 
now you're developing a quite extraordinary power of 
penetration at any rate, in your writings. 

Thekla. [Disagreeably affected, tries to change the 
subject quickly.] Yes, Gustav dear, I was really awfully 
glad to see you again, especially under circumstances so 
unemotional. 

Gustav. Well, you can't say, at any rate, that I was 
such a cantankerous cuss : taking it all round, you had a 
pretty quiet time of it with me. 

Thekla. Yes ; if anything, too quiet. 

Gustav. Really? But I thought, don't you see, that 
you wanted me to be quiet and nothing else. Judging 
by your expressions of opinion as a bride, I had to come 
to that assumption. 

Thekla. How could a woman know then what she 
really wanted? Besides, mother had always drilled into 
me to make the best of myself. 

Gustav. Well, and that's why it is that you're going 
as strong as possible. There's such a lot always doing 
in artist life your husband isn't exactly a home-bird. 

Thekla. But even so, one can have too much of a 
good thing. 

Gustav. [Suddenly changing his tone.] Why, I do 
believe you're still wearing my earrings. 

Thekla. [Embarrassed.] Yes, why shouldn't I ? We're 
not enemies, you know and then I thought I would 
wear them as a symbol that we're not enemies besides, 



THE CREDITOR 95 

you know that earrings like this aren't to be had any 
more. [She takes one off.] 

Gustav. Well, so far so good; but what does your 
husband say on the point ? 

Thekla. Why should I ask him? 

Gustav. You don't ask him? But that's rubbing it 
in a bit too much it could quite well make him look 
ridiculous. 

Thekla. [Simply in an undertone.] If it only weren't 
so pretty. [She has some trouble in adjusting the ear- 
ring.] 

Gustav. [Who has noticed it.] Perhaps you will al- 
low me to help you? 

Thekla. Oh, if you would be so kind. 

Gustav. [Presses it into the ear.] Little ear! I 
say, dear, supposing your husband saw us now. 

Thekla. Then there'd be a scene. 

Gustav. Is he jealous, then? 

Thekla. I should think he is rather! [Noise in the 
room on the right.] 

Gustav. [Passes in front of her toward the right.] 
Whose room is that? 

Thekla. [Stepping a little toward the left.] I don't 
know tell me how you are now, and what you're doing. 
[She goes to the table on the- left.] 

Gustav. You tell me how you are. [He gee's behind 
the square table on fhe left, over to the sofa. THEKLA, 
embarrassed, takes the cloth off the figure absent-mind- 
edly.] No! who is that? Why it's you! 

Thekla. I don't think so. 

Gustav. But it looks like you. 

Thekla. [Cynically.] You think so? 
Gustav. [Sits down on the sofa.] It reminds one of 
the anecdote: "How could your Majesty say that?" 

Thekla. [Laughs loudly and sits down opposite him 
on the settee.] What foolish ideas you do get into your 



96 THE CREDITOR 

head. Have you got by any chance some new yarns? 

Gustav. No ; but you must know some. 

Thekla. I don't get a chance any more now of hear- 
ing anything which is really funny. 

Gustav. Is he as prudish as all that? 

Thekla. Rather! 

Gustav. Never different? 

Thekla. He's been so ill lately. [Both stand up.] 

Gustav. Well, who told little brother to walk into 
somebody else's wasp's nest? 

Thekla. [Laughs.] Foolish fellow, you! 

Gustav. Poor child ! do you still remember that once, 
shortly after our engagement, we lived in this very room, 
eh? But then it was furnished differently, there was a 
secretary, for instance, here, by the pillar, and the bed 
[with delicacy] was here. 

Thekla. Hush! 

Gustav. Look at me! 

Thekla. If you would like me to. [They keep their 
eyes looking into each other for a minute.] 

Gustav. Do you think it is possible to forget a thing 
which has made so deep an impression on one's life ? 

Thekla. No; the power of impressions is great, par- 
ticularly when they are the impressions of one's youth. 
[She turns toward the fireplace on her right.] 

Gustav. Do you remember how we met for the first 
time? You were such an ethereal little thing, a little 
slate on which your parents and governess had scratched 
some wretched scrawl, which I had to rub out after- 
ward, and then I wrote a new text on it, according to 
what I thought right, till it seemed to you that the slate 
was filled with writing. [He follows her to the circular 
table on the right.} That's why, do you see, I shouldn't 
like to be in your husband's place no, that's his busi- 
ness. [Sits down in* front of the circular table.} But 
that's why meeting you has an especial fascination for 
me. We hit it off together so perfectly, and when I sit 



THE CREDITOR 97 

down here and chat with you it's just as though I were 
uncorking bottles of old wine which I myself have bot- 
tled. The wine which is served to me is my own, but it 
has mellowed. And now that I intend to marry again, I 
have made a very careful choice of a young girl whom 
I can train according to my own ideas. [Getting up.] 
For woman is man's child, don't you know ; if she isn't 
his child, then he becomes hers, and that means that the 
world is turned upside down. 

Thekla. You're going to marry again? 

Gustav. Yes. I'm going to try my luck once more, 
but this time I'll jolly well see that the double harness is 
more reliable and shall know how to guard against any 
bolting. 

Thekla. [Turns and goes over toward him to the left.} 
Is she pretty? 

Gustav. Yes, according to my taste, but perhaps I'm 
too old, and, strangely enough now that chance brings 
me near to you again I'm now beginning to have grave 
doubts of the feasibility of playing a game like that twice 
over. 

Thekla. What do you mean ? 

Gustav. I feel that my roots are too firmly embedded 
in your soil, and the old wounds break open. You're a 
dangerous woman, Thekla. 

Thekla. Re-a-lly? My young husband is emphatic 
that is just what I'm not that I can't make any more 
conquests. 

Gustav. That means he's left off loving you. 

Thekla. What he means by love lies outside my line 
of country. [She goes behind the sofa on the left, 
GUSTAV goes after her as far as the table on the left.} 

Gustai'. You've played hide and seek so long with 
each other that the "he" can't catch the she, nor the she 
the "he," don't you know. Of course, it's just the kind 
of thing one would expect. You had to play the little 
innocent, and that made him quite tame. As a matter 



98 THE CREDITOR 

of fact, a change has its disadvantages yes, it has its 
disadvantages. 

Thekla. You reproach me? 

Gustav. Not for a minute. What always happens, 
happens with a certain inevitability, and if this particular 
thing hadn't happened something else would, but this did 
happen, and here we are. 

Thekla. You're a broad-minded man. I've never yet 
met anybody with whom I liked so much to have a good 
straight talk as with you. You have so little patience 
with all that moralizing and preaching, and you make 
such small demands on people, that one feels really free 
in your presence. Do you know, I'm jealous of your 
future wife? [She comes forward and passes by him 
toward the right.] 

Gustav. And you know I'm jealous of your husband. 

Thekla. And now we must part! For ever! [She 
goes past him till she approaches the center door.] 

Gustav. Quite right, we must part but before that, 
we'll say good-bye to each other, won't we? 

Thekla. [Uneasily.] No. 

Gustav. [Dogging her.] Yes, we will ; yes, we will. 
We'll say good-bye ; we will drown our memories in an 
ecstasy which will be so violent that when we wake up 
the past will have vanished from our recollection for- 
ever. There are ecstasies like that, you know. [He puts 
his arm round her waist.] You're being dragged down 
by a sick spirit, who's infecting you with his own con- 
sumption. I will breathe new life into you. I will fer- 
tilize your genius, so that it will bloom in the autumn like 
a rose in the spring, I will [Two lady visitors ap- 
pear on the right behind the central door.] 

SCENE IV 

The previous characters; the Two LADIES. 
[The ladies appear surprised, point, laugh, and exeunt 
on the left.] 



THE CREDITOR 99 

SCENE V 

Thekla. [Disengaging herself.] Who was that? 

Gustav. [Casually, while he closes the central door.} 
Oh, some visitors who were passing through. 

Thekla. Go away! I'm afraid of you. [She goes 
behind the sofa on the left.] 

Gustav. Why ? 

Thekla. You've robbed me of my soul. 

Gustav. [Comes forward,] And I give you mine in 
exchange for it. Besides, you haven't got any soul at all. 
It's only an optical illusion. 

Thekla. You've got a knack of being rude in such a 
way that one can't be angry with you. 

Gustav. That's because you know very well that I am 
designated for the place of honor tell me now when 
and where ? 

Thekla. [Coming toward him.] No. I can't hurt 
him by doing a thing like that. I'm sure he still loves 
me, and I don't want to wound him a second time. 

Gustav. He doesn't love you. Do you want to have 
proofs ? 

Thekla. How can you give me them? 

Gustav. [Takes up from the floor the fragments of 
photograph behind the circular table on the right.] Here, 
look at yourself! [He gives them to her.] 

Thekla. Oh, that is shameful! 

Gustav. There, you can see for yourself well, when 
and where? 

Thekla. The false brute ! 

Gustav. When ? 

Thekla. He goes away to-night by the eight o'clock 
boat. 

Gustav. Then 

Thekla. At nine. [A noise in the room on the right.] 
Who's in there making such a noise ? 

Gustav. [Goes to the right to the keyhole.] Let's 



ioo THE CREDITOR 

have a look the fancy table has been upset and there's 
a broken water-bottle on the floor, that's all. Perhaps 
someone has shut a dog up there. [He goes again to- 
ward her.] Nine o'clock, then? 

Thekla. Right you are. I should only like him to see 
the fun such a piece of deceit, and what's more, from a 
man that's always preaching truthfulness, who's always 
drilling into me to speak the truth. But stop how did 
it all happen? He received me in almost an unfriendly 
manner didn't come to the pier to meet me then he let 
fall a remark over the pure boy on the steamboat, which 
I pretended not to understand. But how could he know 
anything about it? Wait a moment. Then he began to 
philosophize about women then you began to haunt his 
brain then he spoke about wanting to be a sculptor, be- 
cause sculpture was the art of the present day just like 
you used to thunder in the old days. 

Gustav. No, really? [THEKLA moves away from 
GUSTAV behind the sofa on the left.] 

Thekla. "No, really." Now I understand. [To GUS- 
TAV.] Now at last I see perfectly well what a miserable 
scoundrel you are. You've been with him and have 
scratched his heart out of his body. It's you you 
who've been sitting here on the sofa. It was you who've 
been suggesting all these ideas to him : that he was suf- 
fering from epilepsy, that he should live a celibate life, 
that he should pit himself against his wife and try to 
play her master. How long have you been here? 

Gustav. Eight days. 

Thekla. You were the man, then, I saw on the 
steamer ? 

Gustav. [Frankly.} It was I. 

Thekla. And did you really think that I'd fall in with 
your little game? 

Gustav. [Firmly.] You've already done it. 

Thekla. Not yet. 
Gustav. [Firmly.] Yes, you have. 



THE CREDITOR 101 

Thekla. [Comes forward.] You've stalked my lamb 
like a wolf. You came here with a scoundrelly plan of 
smashing up my happiness and you've been trying to 
carry it through until I realized what you were up to 
and put a spoke in your precious wheel. 

Gustav. [Vigorously.] That's not quite accurate. The 
thing took quite another course. That I should have 
wished in my heart of hearts that things should go badly 
with you is only natural. Yet I was more or less con- 
vinced that it would not be necessary for me to cut in 
actively; besides, I had far too much other business to 
have time for intrigues. But just now, when I was loaf- 
ing about a bit, and happened to run across you on the 
steamer with your circle of young men, I thought that 
the time had come to get to slightly closer quarters with 
you two. I came here and that lamb of yours threw 
himself immediately into the wolf's arms. I aroused his 
sympathy by methods of reflex suggestion, into details 
of which, as a matter of good form, I'd rather not go. 
At first I experienced a certain pity for him, because 
he was in the very condition in which I had once found 
myself. Then, as luck would have it, he began unwit- 
tingly to probe about in my old wound you know what 
I mean the book and the ass then I was overwhelmed 
by a desire to pluck him to pieces and to mess up the 
fragments in such a tangle that they could never be put 
together again. Thanks to the conscientious way in 
which you had cleared the ground, I succeeded only too 
easily, and then I had to deal with you. You were the 
spring in the works that had to be taken to pieces. And, 
that done, the game was to listen for the smash-up ! When 
I came into this room I had no idea what I was to say. 
I had a lot of plans in my head, like a chess player, but 
the character of the opening depended on the moves you 
made ; one move led to another, chance was kind to me. 
I soon had you on toast and now you're in a nice mess. 

Thekla. Nonsense. 



102 THE CREDITOR 

Gustav. Oh yes ; what you'd have prayed your stars 
to avoid has happened: society, in the persons of two 
lady visitors I didn't commandeer their appearance be- 
cause intrigue is not in my line society, I say, has seen 
your pathetic reconciliation with your first husband, and 
the penitent way in which you crawled back into his 
faithful arms. Isn't that enough? 

Thekla\ [She goes over to him toward. the right.] Tell 
me you who make such a point of being so logical and 
so intellectual how does it come about that you, who 
make such a point of your maxim that everything which 
happens happens as a matter of necessity, and that all 
our actions are determined 

Gustav. [Corrects her.} Determined up to a certain 
extent. 

Thekla. It comes to the same thing. 

Gustav. No. 

Thekla. How does it come about that you, who are 
bound to regard me as an innocent person, inasmuch as 
nature and circumstances have driven me to act as I did, 
could regard yourself as justified in revenging yourself 
on me? 

Gustav. Well, the same principle applies, you see 
that is to say, the principle that my temperament and cir- 
cumstances drove me to revenge myself. Isn't it a case 
of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other? But do 
you know why you've got the worst of it in this strug- 
gle? [Thekla looks contemptuous.] Why you and that 
husband of yours managed to get downed ? I'll tell you. 
Because I was stronger than you, and smarter. It was 
you, my dear, who was a donkey and he as well ! So 
you see, that one isn't necessarily bound to be quite an 
ass even though one doesn't write any novels or paint 
any pictures. Just remember that! [He turns away 
from her to the left.} 

Thekla. Haven't you got a grain of feeling left ? 

Gustav. Not a grain that's why, don't you know, I'm 



THE CREDITOR 103 

so good at thinking, as you are perhaps able to see by 
the slight proofs which I've given you, and can play 
the practical man equally well, and I've just given you 
something of a sample of what I can do in that line. 
[He strides round the table and sofa on the left and turns 
again to her.] 

Thekla. And all this simply because I wounded your 
vanity ? 

Gustav. [On her left.} Not that only, but you'll be 
jolly careful in the future of wounding other people's 
vanity it's the most sensitive part of a man. 

Thekla. What a vindictive wretch! Ugh! 

Gustav. What a promiscuous wretch. Ugh! 

Thekla. Do you mean that's my temperament? 

Gustav. Do you mean that's my temperament? 

Thekla. [Goes over toward him to the left.} You 
wouldn't like to forgive me? 

Gustav. Certainly, I have forgiven you. 

Thekla. You? 

Gustav. Quite. Have I ever raised my hand against 
you two in all these years? No. But when I happened 
to be here I favored you two with scarce a look and the 
cleavage between you is already there. Did I ever re- 
proach you, moralize, lecture ? No. I joked a little with 
your husband and the accumulated dynamite in him 
just happened to go off, but I, who am defending myself 
like this, am the one who's really entitled to stand here 
and complain. Thekla, have you nothing to reproach 
yourself with ? 

Thekla. Not the least bit the Christians say it's 
Providence that guides our actions, others call it Fate. 
Aren't we quite guiltless? 

Gustav. No doubt we are to a certain extent. But an 
infinitesimal something remains, and that contains the 
guilt, all the same, and the creditors turn up sooner or 
later! Men and women may be guiltless, but they have 
to render an account. Guiltless before Him in whom 



104 THE CREDITOR 

neither of us believes any more, responsible to themselves 
and to their fellow-men. 

Thekla. You've come, then, to warn me ? 

Gustav. I've come to demand back what you stole 
from me, not what you had as a present. You stole my 
honor, and I could only win back mine by taking yours 
wasn't I right? 

Thekla. [After a pause, going over to him on the 
right] Honor! Hm! And are you satisfied now? 

Gustav. [After a pause.] I am satisfied now. {He 
presses the bell by the door L. for the WAITER.] 

Thekla. [After another pause.} And now you're 
going to your bride, Gustav? 

Gustav. I have none and shall never have one. I 
am not going home because I have no home, and shall 
never have one. [WAITER comes in on the left.} 



SCENE VI 

[Previous characters WAITER standing back.} 
Gustav. Bring me the bill I'm leaving by the twelve 
o'clock boat. [WAITER bows and exits left.] 



SCENE VII 

Thekla. Without a reconciliation? 

Gustav. [On her left.] Reconciliation? You play 
about with so many words that they've quite lost their 
meaning. We reconcile ourselves? Perhaps we are to 
live in a trinity, are we? The way for you to effect a 
reconciliation is to put matters straight. You can't dq 
that alone. You have not only taken something, but you 
have destroyed what you took, and you can never put 
it back. Would you be satisfied if I were to say to you: 
"Forgive me because you mangled my heart with your 



THE CREDITOR 105 

claws ; forgive me for the dishonor you brought upon 
me; forgive me for being seven years on end the laugh- 
ing-stock of my pupils ; forgive me for freeing you from 
the control of your parents; for releasing you from the 
tyranny of ignorance and superstition; for making you 
mistress over my house ; for giving you a position and 
friends, I, the man who made you into a woman out of 
the child you were? Forgive me like I forgive you? 
Anyway, I now regard my account with you as squared. 
You go and settle up your accounts with the other man. 

Thekla. Where is he ? What have you done with him ? 
I've just got a suspicion a something dreadful! 

Gustav. Done with him? Do you still love him? 

Thekla. [Goes over to him toward the left.] Yes. 

Gustav. And a minute ago you loved me? Is that 
really so? 

Thekla. It is. 

Gustav. Do you know what you are, then ? 

Thekla. You despise me? 

Gustav. No, I pity you. It's a characteristic I don't 
say a defect, but certainly a characteristic that is very 
fatal, by reason of its results. Poor Thekla! I don't 
know but I almost think that I'm sorry for it, although 
I'm quite innocent like you. But anyway, it's perhaps 
all for the best that you've now got to feel what I felt 
then. Do you know where your husband is? 

Thekla. I think I know now. [She points to the 
right.} He's in your room just here. He has heard 
everything, seen everything, and you know they say that 
he who looks upon his vampire dies. 



SCENE VIII 

[ADOLF appears, on the right, deadly 'pale, a streak of 
blood on his left cheek, a fixed expression in his eyes, 
white foam on his mouth.] 



io6 THE CREDITOR 

Gustav. [Moves back.] No, here he is settle with 
him now! See if he'll be as generous to you as I was. 
Good-bye. [He turns to the left, stops after a few steps, 
and remains standing. ] 

Thekla. [Goes toward ADOLF with outstretched arms.] 
Adolf! [ADOLF sinks down in .his chair by the table on 
the left. THEKLA throws herself over him and caresses 
him.] Adolf! My darling child, are you alive ? Speak! 
Speak ! Forgive your wicked Thekla ! Forgive me ! For- 
give me! Forgive me! Little brother must answer. 
Does he hear? My God, he doesn't hear me! He's 
dead! Good God! O my God! Help! Help us! 

Gustav. Quite true, she loves him as well poor crea- 
ture! [Curtain 



THE STRONGER WOMAN 



CHARACTERS 

MRS. X., actress, married. 
Miss Y., actress, unmarried. 



THE STRONGER WOMAN 



SCENE 

A nook in a ladies' cafe; two small tables, a red plush 
sofa and some chairs. 

MRS. X. enters in winter dress, in a hat and cloak, 
with a light Japanese basket over her arm. 

Miss Y. sits in front of an unfinished bottle of beer 
and reads an illustrated, paper, which she subsequently 
exchanges for another. 

Mrs. X. How are you, my dear Millie? You look 
awfully lonely, at this gay time of year, sitting here all 
by yourself, like a poor bachelor girl. 

Miss Y. [Looks up from her paper, nods and con- 
tinues her reading.] 

Mrs. X. It makes me really quite sorry to look at you. 
All alone at a cafe when all the rest of us are having 
such a good time of it! It reminds me of how I felt 
when I saw a wedding party once, in a Paris restaurant, 
and the bride sat and read a comic paper while the bride- 
groom played billiards with the witnesses. If they begin 
like this, I said to myself, how will they go on, and how 
will they end? Fancy! He was playing billiards on 
the night of his wedding and she was reading an illus- 
trated paper! Oh, well, but you are not quite in the 
same box! [Waitress enters, puts a cup of chocolate in 
front of MRS. X., and exit.] I say, Millie, I'm not at 
all sure that you wouldn't have done better to- have kept 
him. If you come to think of it, I was the first to ask 
you to forgive him at the time. Don't you remember? 
Why, you could have been married now, and have had a 
home! Do you remember how delighted you were at 

109 



I io THE STRONGER WOMAN 

Christmas when you stayed with your fiance's people in 
the country? You were quite enthusiastic over domestic 
happiness and quite keen on getting away from the thea- 
ter. After all, my dear Amelia, there's nothing like 
home, sweet home after the profession, of course! 
and the kids. Isn't it so? But you couldn't understand 
that! 

Miss Y. [Looks contemptuous.} 

Mrs. X. {Drinks some spoonfuls of chocolate out of 
her cup, then' opens the basket and looks at the Xmas 
presents.] There, let me show you what I've bought for 
my little chicks. [Takes up a doll.] Just look at this! 
That's for Lisa. Just look, it can roll its eyes and waggle 
its neck. What? And here's Maja's cork pistol. [Loads 
and shoots at Miss Y.] 

Miss Y. [Gives a start.] 

Mrs. X. Are you frightened ? Did you think I wanted 
to shoot you, dear? Upon my word, I'd never have 
thought you'd have thought that. I'd have been much 
less surprised if you'd wanted to shoot me, for getting 
in your way (I know that you can never forget any- 
thing), although I was absolutely innocent. You be- 
lieved of course that I worked it to get you out of the 
Grand Theater, but I didn't do that. I didn't do it, 
although you think I did. But it makes no odds my 
saying all this, for you always think it was me. . . . 
[Takes out a pair of embroidered slippers.] These are 
for my hubby, with tulips on them which I embroidered 
myself. I can't stand tulips, you know, but he's awfully 
keen on therrv 

Miss Y. [Looks up ironically and curiously from her 
paper.] 

Mrs. X. [Holds a slipper up in each hand.] Just look 
what small feet Bob has. Eh! You should just see, 
dear, how well he carries himself. But of course, you've 
never seen him in slippers, have you, dear? 



Ill 

Miss Y. [Laughs loudly.'] 

Mrs. X. Look, you must see. [She walks the slip- 
pers upon the table.] 

Miss Y. [Laughs loudly.] 

Mrs. X. Just see here. This is the way he always 
stamps about whenever he's out of sorts, like this. "Eh, 
that damned girl will never learn how. to make coffee! 
Ugh! And now the confounded idiot has trimmed the 
lamp wrong!" The next minute there's a draught and 
his feet get cold. "Oof, how cold it is, and ttiat blighted 
fool can never manage to keep the fire going." [She 
rubs the soles of the slippers one against the other.] 

Miss Y. [Laughs out loud.] 

Mrs. X. And this is how he goes on when he comes 
home and looks for his slippers, which Mary puts under 
the chest of drawers. Oh, but it's a shame for me to sit 
here and give my husband away. He's a good sort, at 
any rate, and that's something, I can tell you.. Yes, you 
should have a husband like that, Amelia; yes, you, my 
dear. What are you laughing at? Eh? Eh? And I'll 
tell you how I know that he's faithful! I am sure of 
it, for he told me so of his own accord . . . what are you 
giggling at? Why, when I went for a trip in Norway 
that ungrateful Frederique ran after him and tried to 
seduce him can you think of anything so disgraceful! 
[Pause.} I'd have scratched the eyes out of the crea- 
ture's head, that I would, if she'd come playing around 
when I was on the scene! [Pause.] It was lucky that 
Bob told me of his own accord so that I didn't get to 
hear of it first from a lot of sneaking scandalmongers. 
[Pause.] But Frederique was not the only one, you 
may say. I didn't know it, but the women are absolutely 
crazy over my husband. They think he is awfully in- 
fluential in getting engagements just because he holds an 
official position! It may be that you, too, have tried to 
run after him I don't trust you more than need be any- 



112 THE STRONGER WOMAN 

way, I know that he doesn't bother about you, and that 
you seem to have a grudge against him, and consequently 
against me, the whole time! [Pause; they look at each 
other with embarrassment.] Come round and see us to- 
night, dear, just to show that you don't feel badly about 
us, or at any rate, about me! I don't know why, but 
somehow I feel that it would be particularly ungracious 
of me to be unfriendly toward you of all people. It may 
be because I cut you out. [Speaking more slowly.] Or 
or I can't tell the reason. 

Miss Y. [Stares at MRS. X. curiously.] 

Mrs. X. [Reflectively.] But everything went wrong, 
when you came to our house, because I saw that my hus- 
band couldn't stand you and I felt quite uncomfortable 
as though there was a hitch somewhere, and I did all I 
could to make him show himself friendly toward you, 
but without success until you went and got engaged and 
then a keen friendship sprang up, so that it seemed for 
a moment as though you had only first dared to show 
your true feelings when you were in safety and then it 
went on! ... I didn't get jealous strangely enough 
and I remember the christening when you stood god- 
mother and I made him kiss you. Yes, I did that, and 
you got so embarrassed I mean I didn't notice it at the 
time I haven't thought of it since then either, I haven't 
thought of it from then till now. [Gets up sharply.} 
Why don't you say something? You haven't said a word 
the whole time, but have just let me sit and talk; you 
have sat there with those eyes of yours and picked up 
all my thoughts thoughts! hallucinations perhaps- 
and worked them into your chain link by link. Ah, let 
me see. Why did you break off your engagement, and 
why, from that day to this, have you never come any 
more to our house? Why won't you come in in the 
evening? 

Miss Y. [Seems as though she were about to speak.] 



Mrs. X. Stop! You needn't say it! I quite under- 
stand now. It was because and because and because. 
Yes, it all fits in! That's what it is. Ugh, I won't sit 
at the same table with you. [Moves her things to an- 
other table,] That was why I had to embroider tulips on 
his slippers though I couldn't stand them ; that was why. 
[Throws the slippers on the floor.] That was why I had 
to spend the summer at Lake Malarn, because you 
couldn't stand sea air ; that was why my boy had to be 
called Eskil, because that was your father's name; that 
was why I had to wear your colors, read your authors, 
eat your favorite dishes, drink your drinks chocolate, 
for instance ; that was why. O my God ! it is ghastly to 
think of, ghastly; everything I got came from you to 
me, even your passions ! Your soul crept into mine like 
a worm into an apple, ate and ate burrowed and bur- 
rowed, till there was nothing left but the rotten core. 
I wanted to avoid you, but I could not ; you lay there 
like a serpent with your black eyes of fascination I 
knew that you would succeed at last in dragging me 
down; I was lying in a swamp with my feet tied, and 
the more violently I struggled with my hands the deeper 
did I work down, down to the bottom, while you lay 
there like a giant crab, and gripped me in your claws; 
and now here I am at the bottom ! Oh, how I hate you, 
hate you, hate you! But you, you just sit there and 
say nothing, quiet, indifferent indifferent. It is all the 
same to you if it is the beginning or the end of the 
month ; Christmas or New Year ; if the rest of the world 
is happy or unhappy ; you can neither hate nor love ; you 
sit as stolidly as a stork over a rat-trap. But you couldn't 
capture your prey, mind you ; you couldn't pursue it ; 
you could only wait for it. Here you sit in your lair 
this nook, you know, has been called the Rat Trap 
and you read your papers to see if somebody's having a 
bad time of it, if somebody's had a misfortune, if some- 



H4 THE STRONGER WOMAN 

body's been sacked from the theater; here you sit and 
survey your victims, reckon out your chances like a pilot 
his shipwrecks ; take your toll. 

My poor Amelia, do you know, I feel quite sorry for 
you, because I know that you are wretched, wretched, 
like a wounded creature, and malicious because you are 
wounded. I cannot be angry with you, although I should 
like to be, because you are the weaker why, as to that 
little affair with Bob, I am not bothering about that 
what did it really matter to me? Supposing it was you 
or somebody else who taught me to eat chocolate, what 
does it matter? [Drinks a spoonful out o-f her cup.} Be- 
sides, chocolate is very wholesome, and if I did learn to 
dress myself in your model, well tant mieux it only 
strengthens my hold upon my husband and you were 
the loser by it while I was the winner. Why, I had 
ample grounds for coming to the conclusion that you had 
already lost him but it was you still thought that I 
should go my way! But now you carry on as though 
you were sitting and repenting; but, you see, I don't do 
that. One mustn't be petty, you know. 

Why should I just take what nobody else will have? 
Perhaps you taking it all round are stronger than I 
am at this particular moment you never got anything 
out of me, but you gave me something of yourself. Oh, 
it's really a case of thieving, in my case, isn't it? and 
when you woke up I had possessed myself of the very 
thing you missed. 

How else does it come about that everything you 
touched became worthless and sterile? You couldn't 
keep any man's love, with those tulips and those passions 
of yours but I could ; you weren't able to learn the art 
of my life out of your authors, but I learned it; you 
haven't got any little Eskil, although your papa was 
called Eskil. 

Else why do you sit there without a word, and brood 



THE STRONGER WOMAN 115 

and brood and brood? I thought it was strength, but 
perhaps the reason is just that you haven't anything to 
say, that's because you couldn't think of anything to say. 
[Rises and takes up the slippers.] I'm going home now 
and taking these tulip things with me your tulips, 
my dear; you couldn't learn anything from others you 
couldn't yield, and that's why you crumpled up like a 
dried-up leaf. I didn't do that. I must really thank you, 
Amelia, for the excellent training you have given me 
thank you for teaching my husband how to love. And 
now I'm going home to love him. [Exit.] 

[Curtain. 



MOTHERLY LOVE 



CHARACTERS 




MOTHERLY LOVE 



SCENE I 

[The MOTHER and the DRESSER are smoking cigars, 
drinking stout, and playing cards. The DAUGHTER sits 
by the window and looks out with intentness.] 

Mother. Come along, Helen it's your deal. 

Daughter. Oh, please let me off playing cards on a 
fine summer day like this. , 

Dresser. That's right. Nice and affectionate to her 
mother, as usual. 

Mother. Don't sit like that on the veranda and get 
scorched. 

Daughter. The sun isn't a bit hot here. 

Mother. Well, there's a draught, anyway. [To the 
DRESSER.] Your deal, dear. Righto! 

Daughter. Mayn't I go and bathe this morning with 
the other girls? 

Mother. Not without your mamma, you know that 
once for all. 

Daughter. Oh, but the girls can swim, mamma, and 
you can't swim at all. 

Mother. That's not the question, whether a body can 
swim or can't, but you know, my child, that you mustn't 
go out without your mamma. 

Daughter. Do I know it? Since I've been able to 
understand the simplest thing, that's been dinned into 
my ears. 

Dresser. That only shows that Helen has had a most 
affectionate mother, who has always tried her best. Yes 
yes ; no doubt about it. 

119 



120 MOTHERLY LOVE 

'Mother. [Holds out her hand to the DRESSER.] Thank 
you for your kindly words, Augusta whatever else I 
may have been that but I was always a tender-hearted 
mother. I can say that with a clear conscience. 

Daughter. Then I suppose it's no good my asking you 
if I can go down and have a game of tennis with the 
others ? 

Dresser. No, no, young lady. A girl shouldn't sauce 
her mamma. And when she won't oblige those who are 
nearest and dearest to her, by taking part in their harm- 
less fun, it's in a manner of speaking adding insult to 
injury for her to come and ask on top of it, if she can't 
go and amuse herself with other people. 

Daughter. Yes yes yes. I know all that already. 
I know I know ! 

Mother. You're making yourself disagreeable again. 
Get something proper to do, and don't sit slacking there 
in that fashion. A grown-up girl like you ! 

Daughter. Then why do you always treat me like a 
child if I'm grown up? 

Mother. Because you behave like one. 

Daughter. You have no right to rag me you yourself 
wanted me to remain like this. 

Mother. Look here, Helen ; for some time past I 
think you've been a bit too bloomin' smart. Come, whom 
have you been talking to down here? 

Daughter. With you two, among others. 

Mother. You don't mean to say you're going to start 
having secrets from your own mother? 

Daughter. It's about time. 

Dresser. Shame on you, you young thing, being so 
cheeky to your own mother! 

Mother. Come, let's do something sensible instead of 
jangling like this. Why not come here, and read over 
your part with me? 

Daughter. The manager said I wasn't to go through 



MOTHERLY LOVE 121 

it with anyone, because if I did, I should only learn some- 
thing wrong. 

Mother. I see ; so that's the thanks one gets for trying 
to help you. Of course, of course! Everything that I 
do is always silly, I suppose. 

Daughter. Why do you do it then ? And why do you 
put the blame on to me, whenever you do anything 
wrong ? 

Dresser. Of course you want to remind your mother 
that she ain't educated? Ugh, 'ow common! 

Daughter. You say I want to, aunt, but it's not the 
case. If mother goes and teaches me anything wrong, 
I've got to learn the whole thing over again, if I don't 
want to lose my engagement. We don't want to find our- 
selves stranded. 

Mother. I see. You're now letting us know that we're 
living on what you earn. But do you really know what 
you owe Aunt Augusta here? Do you know that she 
looked after us when your blackguard of a father left us 
in the lurch ? that she took care of us and that you there- 
fore owe her a debt which you can never pay off in all 
your born days? Do you know that? [DAUGHTER is 
silent.] Do you know that? Answer. 

Daughter. I refuse to answer. 

Mother. You do do you ? You won't answer ? 

Dresser. Steady on, Amelia. The people next door 
might hear us, and then they'd start gossiping again. So 
you go steady. 

Mother. [To DAUGHTER.] Put on your things and 
come out for a walk. 

Daughter. I'm not going out for a walk to-day. 

M-other. This is now the third day that you've refused 
to go out for a walk with your mother. [Reflecting.] 

Would it be possible Go out on to the veranda, 

Helen. I want to say something to Aunt Augusta. 
[DAUGHTER exit on to the veranda.} 



122 MOTHERLY LOVE 

SCENE II 

Mother. Do you think it's possible? 

Dresser. What ? 

Mother. That she's found out something? 

Dresser. It ain't possible. 

Mother. It might 'appen, of course. Not that I think 
anybody could be so heartless as to tell it to her to her 
face. I had a nephew who was thirty-six years old before 
he found out that his father was a suicide, but Helen's 
manner's changed, and there's something at the bottom 
of it. For the last eight days I've noticed that she 
couldn't bear my being with her on the promenade. She 
would only go along lonely paths; when anyone met us 
she looked the other way ; she was nervous, couldn't man- 
age to get a single word out. There's something behind 
all this. 

Dresser. Do you mean, if I follow you aright, that the 
society of her mother is painful to her? the society of 
her own mother ? 

Mother. Yes. 

Dresser. No ; that's really a bit too bad. 

Mother. Well, I'll tell you something which is even 
worse. Would you believe it, that when we came here, 
she didn't introduce me to some of her friends on the 
steamer ? 

Dresser. Do you know what I think ? She's met some- 
one or other who's come here during the last week. 
Come, we'll just toddle down to the post office and find 
out about the latest arrivals. 

Mother. Yes, let's do that. I say, Helen, just mind 
the house a minute. We're only going down to the post 
for a moment. 

Daughter. Yes, majnma. 

Mother. [To DRESSER.] It's just as though I'd dreamed 
all this before. 



MOTHERLY LOVE 123 

Dresser. Yes; dreams come true sometimes I know 
that all right but not the nice ones. 

[Exeunt R. 

SCENE III 

[DAUGHTER gives a nod out of the window; LISE en- 
ters. She wears a tennis costume quite white, and a 
white hat.} 

Lise. Have they gone ? 

Daughter. Yes ; but they're soon coming back. 

Lise. Well, what did your mother say? 

Daughter. I haven't even had the pluck to ask her. 
She was in such a temper. 

Lise. Poor Helen ! So you Can't come with us on the 
excursion? And I was looking forward to it so much. 
If you only knew how fond I am of you. [Kisses her.] 

Daughter. I you only knew, dear, what these days 
have meant to me since I've made your acquaintance and 
visited your house have meant to a girl like me, who's 
never mixed with decent people in her whole life. Just 
think what it must have been for me. Up to the present 
I've been living in a den where the air was foul, where 
shady, mysterious people came in and out, who spied and 
brawled and wrangled ; where I have never heard a kind 
word, much less ever got a caress, and where my soul 
was watched like a prisoner. Oh, I'm talking like this 
about my mother, and it hurts me! And you will only 
despise me for it. 

Lise. One can't be made responsible for one's parents. 

Daughter. No; but you've got to pay the penalty for 
them. At any rate they say that very often one doesn't 
find out before the end of one's life the kind of people 
one's own parents, with whom one's lived all one's life, 
have really been. And I've picked up this as well, that 
even if one does get to hear about it one doesn't believe 
a word. 



124 MOTHERLY LOVE 

JLise. [Uneasily.] Have you heard anything? 

Daughter. Yes. When I was in the Bath-house three 
days ago I heard through the wall what people were say- 
ing about my mother. Do you know what it was? 

Lise. Don't bother about it. 

Daughter. They said my mother had been just a com- 
mon creature ! I wouldn't believe it ; I won't yet believe 
it. But I feel that it is true; it all fits in to make it 
probable and I am ashamed ashamed of going near her, 
because I think that people stare at us that the men 
throw us looks. It's too awful. But is it true ? Tell me 
if you think that it's true ? 

Lise. People tell so many lies and I don't know any- 
thing. 

Daughter. Yes, you do know you do know some- 
thing. You won't tell me, and I thank you for it ; but I 
am equally miserable whether you tell me or whether 
you don't 

Lise. My darling friend, knock that thought out of 
your head and come home to us you'll find you'll get 
on splendidly with everyone. My father arrived early 
this morning. He asked after you, and wanted to see 
you I ought, of course, to tell you they have written 
to him about you and Cousin Gerhard as well, because 
I think 

Daughter. Yes, you you have a father and I had 
one too, when I was still quite, quite tiny. 

Lise. What became of him, then ? 

Daughter. Mother always says he left us because he 
was a bad lot. 

Lise. It's hard to find where the truth lies. But I 
tell you what ; if you come home to us now you'll meet 
the director of the Imperial Theater, and it's possible it 
might be a question of an engagement. 

Daughter. What do you say? 

Lise. Yes, yes that's it. And he takes an interest 



MOTHERLY LOVE 125 

in you I mean Gerhard and I have made him take 
an interest in you, and you know quite well what trifles 
often decide one's whole life; a personal interview, a 
good recommendation at the right moment well, now, 
you can't refuse any longer, without standing in the way 
of your own career. 

Daughter. Oh, darling, I should think I did want to 
come. You know that quite well; but I don't go out 
without mamma. 

Lise. Why not? Can you give me any reason? 

Daughter. I don't know. She taught me to say that 
when I was a child. And now it's got deeply rooted. 

Lise. Has she extracted some promise from you? 

Daughter. No, she didn't have any need to do that. 
She just said "Say that !" and I said it. 

Lise. Do you think then that you're doing her a wrong 
if you leave her for an hour or two? 

Daughter. I don't think that she would miss me, be- 
cause when I am at home she's- always got some fault 
to find with me. But I should find it painful if I went 
to a house when she wasn't allowed to come too. 

Lise. Do you mean to say you've thought of the pos- 
sibility of her visiting us ? 

Daughter. No God forgive me, I never thought of it 
for a moment. 

Lise. But supposing you were to get married? 

Daughter. I shall never get married. 

Lise. Has your mother taught you to say that as well ? 
Daughter. Yes, probably. She has always warned me 
of men. 

Lise. Of married men as well? 

Daughter. Presumably. 

Lise. Look here, Helen ; you should really emancipate 
yourself. 

Daughter. Ugh ! I haven't the faintest desire to be a 
new woman. 



126 

Lise. No, I don't mean that. But you must free your- 
self from a position of dependence which you have grown 
out of, and which may make you unhappy for life. 

Daughter. I scarcely think I shall ever be able to. Just 
consider how I've been tied down to my mother since I 
was a child ; that I've never dared to think a thought that 
wasn't hers ; have never wished anything but her wishes. 
I know that it's a handicap; that it stands in my way, 
but I can't do anything against it. 

Lise. And if your mother goes to rest, one fine day, 
you'll be all alone in the world. 

Daughter. That's how I shall find myself. 

Lise. But you've got no set, no friend ; and no one 
can live as lonely as all that. You must find some firm 
support. Have you never been in love ? 

Daughter. I don't know. I've never dared to think 
of anything like that, and mother has never allowed young 
men even to look at me. Do you yourself think of such 
things ? 

Lise. Yes. If anyone's fond of me I should like to 
have him. 

Daughter. You'll probably marry your cousin Ger- 
hard. 

Lise. I shall never do that because he does not love 
me. 

Daughter. Not love you ? 

Lise. No ; because he's fond of you. 

Daughter. Me ? 

Lise. Yes and he has commissioned me to inquire 
if he can call on you. 

Daughter. Here ? No, that's impossible. And besides, 
do you think I would stand in your way? Do you think 
I could supplant you in his regard, you who are so pretty, 
so delicate. [Takes LISE'S hand in hers.] What a hand! 
And the wrists! I saw your foot when we were in the 
Bath-house together. [Falls on her knees before LISE, 



MOTHERLY LOVE 127 

who has sat doun.] A foot on which there isn't even a 
crooked nail, on which the toes are as round and as rosy 
as a baby's hand. [Kisses LISE'S foot.] You belong to 
the nobility you're made of different stuff from what 
I am. 

Lise. Leave off, please, and don't talk so sillily. [Gets 
up.] If you only knew but 

Daughter. And I'm sure you're as good as you're 
beautiful ; we always think that down below here when 
we look up at you above there, with your delicate chis- 
eled features, where trouble hasn't made any wrinkles, 
where envy and jealousy have not drawn their hateful 
lines 

Lise. Look here, Helen; I really think you're quite 
mad on me. 

Daughter. Yes, I am that, too. I wish I were like 
you a bit, just as a miserable whitlow-grass is like an 
anemone, and that's why I see in you my better self, 
something that I should like to be and never can be. You 
have tripped into my life during the last summer days 
as lightly and as delicately as an angel; now the 
autumn's come : the day after to-morrow we go back to 
town then we shan't know each other any more and 
we mustn't know each other any more. You can never 
draw me up, dear, but I can draw you down and I don't 
want to do that ! I want to* have you so high, so high 
and so far away, that I can't see your blemishes. And 
so good-bye, Lise, my first and only friend. 

Lise. No, that's enough. Helen, do you know who 
I am ? Well I am your sister. 

Daughter. You What can you mean? 

Lise. We have the same father. 

Daughter. And you are my sister, my little sister? 
But what is my father then? But of course he must be 
captain of a yacht, because your father is one. How silly 



128 MOTHERLY LOVE 

I am! But then he married, after. Is he kind to you? 
He wasn't to my mother. 

Lise. You don't know. But aren't you awfully glad 
to have found a little sister one too who isn't so very 
loud? 

Daughter. Oh, rather ; I'm so glad that I really don't 
know what to say. [Embrace.] But I really daren't be 
properly glad because I don't know what's going to hap- 
pen after all this. What will mother say, and what \\ill 
it be like if we meet papa? 

Lise. Just leave your mother to me. She can't be far 
away now. And you keep in the background till you 
are wanted. And now come and give me a kiss, little 'un. 
[They kiss.] 

Daughter. My sister. How strange the word sounds, 
just like the word father when one has never uttered it. 

Lise. Don't, let's go on chattering now, but let's stick 
to the point. Do you think that your mother would still 
refuse her permission- if we were to invite you to come 
and see your sister and your father? 

Daughter. Without my mother ? Oh, she hates your 
my father so dreadfully. 

Lise. But suppose she has no reason to do so? If 
you only knew how full the world is of concoctions and 
lies and mistakes and misunderstandings. My father used 
to tell the story of a chum he used to have when he 
first went to sea as a cadet. A gold watch was stolen 
from one of the officers' cabins and God knows why ! 
suspicion fell on the cadet. His mates avoided him, prac- 
tically sent him to Coventry, and that embittered him to 
such an extent that he became impossible to associate 
with, got mixed up in a row and had to leave. Two years 
afterward the thief was discovered, in the person of a 
boatswain ; but no satisfaction could be given to the inno- 
cent boy, because people had only been suspicious of him. 
And the suspicion will stick to him for the rest of his 



MOTHERLY LOVE 129 

life, although it was refuted, and the wretch still keeps 
a nickname which was given to him at the time. His 
life grew up like a house that's built and based on its 
own bad fame, and when the false foundation is cut away 
the building remains standing all the same ; it floated in 
the air like the castle in "The Arabian Nights." You see 
that's what happens in the world. But even worse 
things can happen, as in the case of that instrument maker 
in Arboga, who got the name of being an incendiary be- 
cause his house had been set fire to ; or as happened to a 
certain Anderson, whom people called Thief Anders be- 
cause he had been the victim of a celebrated burglary. 

Daughter. Do you mean to say that my father hasn't 
been what I always thought he was? 

Lise. Yes, that's just it. 

Daughter. This is how I see him sometimes in dreams, 
since I lost all recollection of him isn't he fairly tall, 
with a dark beard and big blue sailor eyes? 

Lise. Yes more or less ! 

Daughter. And then wait, now I remember. Do you 
see this watch? There's a little compass fastened on to 
the chain, and on the compass at the north there's an eye. 
tWho gave me that ? 

Lise. Your father. I was there when he bought it. 

Daughter. Then it's he whom I've seen so often in 
the theater when I was playing. He always sat in the 
left stage box, and held his opera glasses trained on me. 
I never dared to tell mother because she was always so 
very nervous about me. And once he threw me flowers 
t but mother burned them. Do you think it was he? 

Lise. It was he ; you can count on it that during all 
these years his eye has followed you like the eye of the 
needle on the compass. 

Daughter. And you tell me that I shall see him that 
he wants to meet me? It's like a fairy tal* 



130 MOTHERLY LOVE 

Lise. The fairy tale's over now. I hear your mother. 
You get back I'm going first, to face the fire. 

Daughter. Something dreadful's going to happen now, 
I feel it. Why can't people agree with each other and 
be at peace? Oh, if only it were all over! If mamma 
would only be nice. I will pray to God outside there to 
make her soft-hearted but I'm certain He can't do it I 
don't know why. 

Lise. He can do it, and He will, if you can only have 
faith, have a little faith in happiness and your own 
strength. 

Daughter. Strength? What for? To be selfish? I 
can't do it. And the enjoyment of a happiness that is 
bought at the cost of someone else's unhappiness cannot 
be lasting. 

Lise. Indeed? Now go out. 

Daughter. How can you possibly believe that this will 
turn out all right? 

Lise. Hush ! 

SCENE IV 
Previous characters. The MOTHER 

.X 

Lise. Madam. 

Mother. Miss if you don't mind. 

Lise. Your daughter 

Mother. Yes, I have a daughter, even though I'm only 
a "Miss," and indeed that happens to many of us, and 
I'm not a bit ashamed of it. But what's it all about? 

Lise. The fact is, I'm commissioned to ask you if 
Miss Helen can join in an excursion which some visitors 
have got up. 

Mother. Hasn't Helen herself answered you? 

Lise. Yes ; she has very properly answered that I 
should address myself to you. 



MOTHERLY LOVE 131 

Mother. THat wasn't a straightforward answer. Helen, 
my child, do you want to join a party to which your 
mother isn't invited ? 

Daughter. Yes, if you allow it. 

Mother. If I allow it ! How can I decide what a big 
girl like you is to do ? You yourself must tell the young 
lady what you want; if you want to leave your mother 
alone in disgrace, while you gad about and have a good 
time; if you want people to ask after mamma, and for 
you to have to try and wriggle out of the answer: "She 
has been left out of the invitation, because and because 
and because." Now say what you really want to do. 

Lise. My dear lady, don't let's beat about the bush. 
I know perfectly well the view Helen takes of this busi- 
ness, and I also know your method of getting her to make 
that particular answer which happens to suit you. If 
you are as fond of your daughter as you say you are, 
you ought to wish what is best for her, even though 
it might be humiliating for you. 

Mother. Look here, my girl ; I know what your name 
is, and who you are, even though I haven't had the privi- 
lege of being introduced to you ; but I should really like 
to know what a girl of your years has got to teach a 
woman of mine. 

Lise. Who knows? For the last six years, since my 
mother died, I have spent all my time in bringing up my 
young sisters and brothers, and I've found out that there 
are people who never learn anything from life, however 
old they get. 

Mother. What do you mean ?* 

Lise. I mean this. Your daughter has now got an 
opportunity of taking her place in- the world ; of either 
getting recognition for her talent or of contracting an 
alliance with a young man in good position. 

Mother. That sounds all very fine, but what do you 
propose to do about me? 



132 MOTHERLY LOVE 

Lise. You're not the point, your daughter is! Can't 
you think about her for a single minute without imme- 
diately thinking of yourself? 

Mother. Ah, but, mind you, when I think of myself 
I think of my daughter at the same time, because she has 
learned to love her mother. 

Lise. I don't think so. She depends on you because 
you've shut her off from all the rest of the world, and she 
must have someone to depend on, since you've stolen her 
away from her father. 

Mother. What's that you say? 

Lise. That you took the child away from her father 
when he refused to marry you, because you hadn't been 
faithful to him. You then prevented him from seeing 
his child, and avenged your own misconduct on him and 
upon your child. 

Mother. Helen, don't you believe a single word of 
anything that she says that I should live to see such a 
day ! For a stranger to intrude into my house and insult 
me in the presence of my own child ! 

Daughter. [Comes forward.] You have no business 
to say anything bad about my mother. 

Lise. It's impossible to do otherwise, if I'm to say 
anything good about my father. Anyway I observe that 
the conversation is nearly over, so allow me to give you 
one or two pieces of advice. Get rid of the procuress 
who finds herself so at home here under the name of 
Aunt Augusta if you don't want your daughter's reputa- 
tion to be absolutely ruined. That's tip number one. 
Further, put in order all your receipts for the money 
which you had from my father for Helen's education, 
because settlement day's precious near. That's tip num- 
ber two. And now for an extra tip. Leave off perse- 
cuting your daughter with your company in the street 
and, above all, at the theater, because if you don't she's 
barred from any engagement; and then you'll go about 



MOTHERLY LOVE 133 

trying to sell her favors, just as, up to the present, you've 
been trying to buy back your lost respectability at the ex- 
pense of her father. 

Mother. [Sits, crushed.] 

Daughter. [To LISE.] Leave this house. You find 
nothing sacred, not even motherhood. 

Lise. A sacred motherhood, I must say ! 

Daughter. It seems now as though you've only come 
into this house to destroy us, and not for a single minute 
to put matters right. 

Lise. Yes, I did! I came here to to put right the 
good name of my father, who was perfectly guiltless 
as guiltless as that incendiary whose house had been set 
on fire. I came also to put you right, you who've been 
the victim of a woman whose one and only chance of 
rehabilitation is by retiring to a place where she won't 
be disturbed by anybody, and where she on her side won't 
disturb anybody's peace. That's why I came. I have 
done my duty. Good-bye. 

Mother. Miss Lise -don't go before I've said one 
thing you came here, apart from all the other tomfool- 
ery, to invite Helen out to your place. 

Lise. Yes. She was to meet the director of the Im- 
perial Theater, who takes quite an interest in her. 

Mother. What's that? The director? And you've 
never mentioned a word about it. Yes Helen may go 
alone. Yes, without me ! 

Daughter. [Makes a gesture.] 

Lise. Well, after all, it was only human nature that 
you should hare carried on like that. Helen, you must 
come, do you see? 

Daughter. Yes, but now I don't want to any more. 

Mother. What are you talking about? 

Daughter. No, I'm not fitted for society. I shall never 
feel comfortable anywhere where my mother is despised. 

Mother. Stuff and nonsense ! You surely ain't going 



134 MOTHERLY LOVE 

to go and cut your own throat? Now just you go and 
dress so as to look all right! 

Daughter. No, I can't, mother. I can't leave you now 
that I know everything. I shall never have another happy 
hour. I can never believe in anything again. 

Lise. [To MOTHER.] Now you shall reap what you 
have sown if one day a man comes and makes your 
daughter his bride, then you'll be alone in your old age, 
and then you'll have time to be sorry for your foolishness. 
Good-bye. [Goes and kisses HELEN'S forehead.] Good- 
bye, sister. 

Daughter. Good-bye. 

Lise. Look me in the face and try and seem as though 
you had some hope in life. 

Daughter. I can't. I can't thank you either for your 
good-will, for you have given me more pain than you 
know you woke me with a shake when I lay in the sun- 
shine by a woodland precipice and slept. 

Lise. Give me another chance, and I'll wake you with 
songs and flowers. Good night. Sleep well. [Exit. 

SCENE V 
Previous characters. Later the DRESSER 

Mother. An angel of light in white garments, T sup- 
pose! No! She's a devil, a regular devil! And you! 
How silly you've been behaving! What madness next, 
I wonder ! Playing the sensitive when other people's hides 
are so thick. 

Daughter. To think of your being able to tell me all 
those untruths. Deceiving me so that I talked thus about 
my father during so many years. 

Mother. Oh, come on ! It's no good crying over spilt 
milk. 

Daughter. And then again, Aunt Augusta ! 



MOTHERLY LOVE 135 

Mother. Stop it. Aunt Augusta is a most excellent 
woman, to whom you are under a great obligation. 

Daughter. That's not true either it was my father, 
I'm sure, who had me educated. 

Mother. Well, yes, it was, but I too have to live. 
You're so petty! And you're vindictive as well. Can't 
you forget a little taradiddle like that ? Hello ! Augus- 
ta's turned up already. Come along, now let us humble 
folks amuse ourselves as best as we can. 



SCENE VI 

Previous Characters. DRESSER. 

Dresser. Yes, it was he right enough. You see, I'd 
guessed quite right. 

Mother. Oh, well, don't let's bother about the black- 
guard. 

Daughter. Don't speak like that, mother; it's not a 
bit true ! 

Dresser. What's not true? 

Daughter. Come along. We'll play cards. I can't pull 
down the wall which you've taken so many years to build 
up. Come along then. [She sits down at the card table 
and begins to shuffle the cards.] 

Mother. Well, you've come to your senses at last, my 
gal. [Curtain. 



PARIA 



Mr. X., an archaeologist ) 

Mr. Y., a traveler from America) M 'aale-aged men. 



PARIA 



SCENERY 

Simple room in the country; door and windows at the 
back looking out on a landscape. In the middle of the 
floor a big dining table with books, writing materials, 
archaeological implements on one side; microscope, etymo- 
logical cabinet, flask of spirits on the other. On the left 
a bookcase; otherwise the furniture of the house of a rich 
peasant. 

Mr. Y. comes in with a butterfly net and in his shirt- 
sleeves; goes straight up to the bookcase and takes down 
a book, which he starts reading. The bells ring after 
service in the local church; the landscape and the room 
are Hooded with sunlight. 

Now and again the hens are to be heard clucking out- 
side. Enter Mr. X. in his shirt-sleeves. 

Mr. Y. gives a violent start, in turn puts the book down 
and takes it up pretends to look for another book on the 
shelf. 

Mr. X. What oppressive weather! I quite think we 
shall have thunder. 

Mr. Y. Re-ally, old man ? Why do you think so ? 

Mr. X. The bells are ringing- so dully the flies are 
stinging, the hens are clucking, I should be out fishing, 
but couldn't find a worm. Don't you feel nervous ? 

Mr. Y. [Reflectively.'] I? Oh no! 

Mr. X. My dear man, you look the whole time as 
though you were expecting a regular thunderstorm. 

Mr. Y. [Gives a start.] Do I? 

139 



140 PARIA 

Mr. X. Well, you'll be leaving to-morrow with me. 
What's the news? Here's the post. [Takes up a letter 
from the table.] Ah ! My heart beats like anything each 
time I open a letter nothing but debts, debts, debts. 
Have you ever been in debt ? 

Mr. Y. [Shifting about.] No. 

Mr. X. Quite so, then my dear chap, you've no idea 
what I feel like when unpaid bills come in. [He reads 
letter.] Rent unpaid, landlord on the warpath, wife in 
despair. And I who sit here up to my ears in gold. 
[Opens an iron-bound chest which is on the table on either 
side of -which the two men are sitting.] Look here ; I've 
got here about six thousand kronors' worth of gold which 
I dug up in fourteen days ! I only want these armlets here 
for the three hundred and fifty kronors that I actually 
require. And with all this I ought to do myself thun- 
dering well. I ought, of course, at once to get drawings 
made, and blocks cut for my book, and then get it pub- 
lished, and then travel. Why don't I do it, do you think ? 

Mr. Y. You are afraid of being discovered. 

Mr. X. Perhaps that's it. But don't you think that a 
man of my intelligence ought to be able to work it so 
that he's not discovered ? I just went alone without wit- 
nesses rummaged about there beyond the hills. Would 
there be anything strange in my filling my pockets a bit ? 

Mr. Y. Quite so, but selling would probably be par- 
ticularly risky. 

Mr. X. Ah! ah! I should of course melt it all down 
and coin good golden ducats full weight, of course. 

Mr. Y. Of course. 

Mr. X. You can quite understand that, if I were 
running a false mint, well, there'd be no need for me to 
dig up my gold. [Pause.] It's remarkable, at all events ; 
if another person were to do this, which I can't recon- 
cile myself to, why I should absolve him, but I can't ab- 
solve myself. I could make a brilliant defence of the 



PARIA 141 

thief, prove that gold was res nullius, or nobody's, that 
it came into the earth at a time when there was no such 
thing as property, that it shouldn't by right belong to 
anybody else except the first-comer, since the contents of 
the earth existed a long time before landowners made 
their artificial laws of real property. 

Mr. Y. And you would make your case all the more 
plausible if, as you say, the thief did not steal from want, 
but as a matter of collecting mania, as a matter of pure 
scholarship, because of his ambition to make a discovery. 
Isn't that so? 

Mr. X. You mean that I shouldn't get him off if he 
had stolen out of want ? No, that's just the one case for 
which there is no excuse. That's pure theft. 

Mr. Y. And wouldn't you excuse that? 

Mr. X. How ? Excuse ? I couldn't, for there are no 
excuses in law. But I must confess that I should find it 
hard to prosecute a collector for theft, because he made 
an archaeological discovery in somebody else's ground 
which he didn't have in his own collection. 

Mr. Y. Then vanity and ambition are to serve as an 
excuse where want is no excuse? 

Mr. X. And all the same want should be the valid, the 
only excuse. But it's like this, I can't alter, any more 
than I can alter my own will not to steal in any such case. 

Mr. Y. You count it then, as a great merit of yours 
that you can't h'm steal. 

Mr. X. It's an irresistible something in my character, 
just as the craving to steal is something irresistible in 
other people, and therefore it's no virtue. I cannot do it 
and he cannot refrain from doing it you quite under- 
stand, my dear fellow? I covet this gold and want to 
possess it. Why don't I take it, then ? I can't. It's sim- 
ply disability, and something lacking is scarcely a merit. 
That's what it is. [Beats on the chest.] 

[It has rained in streams outside in the country, a:id 



142 PARIA 

now and then the room becomes dark. The darkness is 
that of approaching thunder.] 

Mr. Y. It's awfully stuffy. I think we shall have 
thunder. [Mr. Y. rises and closes the door and win- 
dows.} 

Mr. X. Are you frightened of thunder? 

Mr. Y. One has to be careful. [Pause.] 

Mr. X. You are a queer fellow. You spring yourself 
on me here a fortnight ago, introduce yourself as a 
Swedish American on an etymological journey for a 
museum. 

Mr. Y. Don't bother yourself about me. 

Mr. X. That's how you always go on when I get tired 
of talking about myself and want to show you some little 
attention. That's perhaps why you're so sympathetic to 
me, because you let me speak so much about myself. We 
became old friends in no time ; you had no angles I could 
knock up against, no bristles to prick me with. It wasn't 
just so much that your whole person was so full of a 
deference which only a highly refined man could mani- 
fest ; you never made any row when you came home late ; 
never made a noise when you got up in the morning; 
didn't bother about trifles ; caved in when there was any 
chance of a squabble in a word, you were the ideal com- 
panion. But you were much too yielding, much too nega- 
tive, much too silent, for me not to think about it in the 
long run and you're as funky and nervous as they're 
made. That looks as though you had a shadow knocking 
about somewhere. I tell you what when I sit here in 
front of the mirror, and look at your back, it's as though 
I saw another man altogether. [Mr. Y. turns round and 
looks in the looking glass.] Yes; you can't see yourself 
from the back. From the front view you look like a 
straight man going about to face his life with his head 
up, but the back view no, I don't want to be offensive > 
but you look as though you carried some burden, as 



PARIA 143 

though you were flinching from some blow, and when I 
see the cross of your red braces on your shirt then you 
look like one big brand, an export brand on a package. 

Mr. Y. [Rises.] I think I shall suffocate, if the 
thunderstorm doesn't break soon. 

Mr. X. That'll come in a minute, you just steady on. 
And then the nape of your neck. It looks as though 
there were another face there, but of another type than 
yours; you are so awfully small between the ears that I 
sometimes wonder what race you are. [It lightens.] 
That looks as though it had struck the inspector's place. 

Mr. Y. [Anxious.] The inspector's place? 

Mr. X. Yes, that's what it looks like. But all this 
thunderstorm business doesn't matter to us. Just you sit 
down and let's have a chat, as you are leaving to-morrow. 
It's a queer thing that you, with whom I became quite 
pally in almost no time, are one of those people whose 
faces I can't call to mind when they aren't there. When 
you're out of doors, and I remember you, I think all 
the time of another friend of mine, who isn't really like 
you, though at the same time there is a certain likeness. 

Mr. Y. Who is it? 

Mr. X. I won't mention his name. However, I always 
used to feed at the same place many years ago, and I 
met then, over the hors d'ceuzres, a little blond man with 
pale, agonized eyes. He had an extraordinary power of 
being in the front of any crush without either pushing or 
being pushed ; he could take a slice of bread from yards 
away even though he stood by the door; he always 
seemed happy to be with people, and when he found a 
friend he would follow him about with hysterical enthu- 
siasm, embrace him and slap him on his back as though 
he hadn't met a human being for years and years. If 
anyone trampled on him, it would be as though he begged 
his pardon for being in the way. During the two years 
I kept on seeing him I amused myself by guessing his 



144 PARIA 

profession and character, but I never asked him what 
he was, because I didn't want to know, because my hobby 
would have gone bust as soon as I did. This man had 
the same characteristic as you that of being nonde- 
script. Sometimes I'd put him down as a grammar school 
usher, a subaltern, a chemist, a clerk of the peace, or one 
of the secret police, and he seemed, like you, to be made 
up of two heterogeneous pieces which fitted in front but 
not at the back. 

One day it happened I read in the papers about a big 
check forgery by a well-known civil servant. I then knew 
that my nondescript friend had been the partner of the 
forger's brother, and that his name was Stroman, and in 
that way I found out that the aforesaid Stroman had pre- 
viously carried on business as a lending library, but that 
he was nov^a. police court reporter on a big daily. But 
how could I establish any connection between the forgery, 
the police and his nondescript demeanor? I don't know, 
but when I asked a friend if Stroman was punished he 
neither answered no nor yes ; he simply didn't know. 
[Pause.] 

Mr.Y. Well? Was he punished? 

Mr. X. No, he went scot-free. [Pause.] 

Mr. Y. Don't you think that may have been why the 
police had such a morbid fascination for him and why he 
was so frightened of knocking up against his fellow-men ? 

Mr.X. Yes. 

Mr. Y. Do you still keep up with him ? 

Mr. X. No; and I don't wish to. [Pause.] Would 
you have still kept up with him if he had been con- 
victed ? 

Mr. Y. Yes like a shot. [Mr. Y. gets up and walks 
up and down.] 

Mr. X. Sit still why can't you sit still ? 

Mr. Y. Where did you get your broad views of hu- 
man conduct? Are you a Christian? 



PARIA 145 

Mr. X. No can't you see that? [Mr. Y. Facial 
expression.} The Christian asks for forgiveness as I ask 
for punishment to restore the balance, or whatever you 
call it. And you, my friend, who've done your little 
stretch, ought to know that quite well. 

Mr. Y. [Is nervous and stunned. Looking at Mr. X. 
first with wild hate and then with wonder and admira- 
tion.] How can you know that ? 

Mr. X. I can see it. 

Mr. Y. How ? How can you see it ? 

Mr. X. I have taught myself. It's just a science, like 
so many others. But now we won't talk about it any 
more. [Looks at his watch, takes out a paper for signa- 
ture, dips his pen in the ink and hands it to Mr. Y.] I 
must think of my own business troubles. Would you 
mind witnessing my signature on this bill which I shall 
present to the Malmo bank to-morrow when I follow 
you? 

Mr. Y. I don't intend to travel by Malmo. 

Mr. X. No? 

Mr. Y. No. 

Mr. X. But at all events you can witness my sig- 
nature ? 

Mr. Y. No ; I never put my name to a piece of paper. 

Mr. X. Again that's the fifth time you've refused to 
sign your name. The first time was on a post-receipt 
that was when I first began to observe you ; now I notice 
that you are frightened of pen and ink. You haven't 
sent off one letter since we've been here ; only a single 
letter-card, and that you wrote in pencil. Do you under- 
stand now how I worked out your lapse? Again, that's 
the seventh time you refused to accompany me to Malmo, 
though you haven't been there at all this time. And all 
the time you've come here from America simply to see 
Malmo. And every morning you go half-a-mile south- 
ward to the windmills just so as to see the roofs of 



146 PARIA 

Malmo. And you stand there, my friend, by the right 
window, and look out through the third pane of glass on 
the left counting from the bottom, so that you get a view 
of the spires of the castle and the chimney of the prison. 
So you see now it's not a case of my being so smart, but 
of your being so dense. 

Mr. Y. Now you despise me ? 

Mr.X. No. 

Mr. Y. Yes, you do ; you must do so. 

'Mr. X. No. See, here's my hand on it. [Mr. Y. 
kisses the outstretched hand. Mr. X. takes back his hand.] 
What bestial fawning ! 

Mr. Y. Forgive me! but you were the first man, sir, 
who held out his hand to me after he knew 

Mr. X. And now you start calling me "Sir." It ap- 
palls me that, after you've served your sentence, you don't 
feel you can hold your head up, and start with a clean 
sheet, on the level, just as good as anybody else. Will 
you tell me all about it? Will you? 

Mr. Y. [Wriggles.] Yes ; but you won't believe what 
I tell you. I'll tell you about it, and you'll see that I'm 
not just an ordinary criminal, and you'll be convinced 
that my fall took place, as one says, against my will. 
[Wriggles.] Just as though jit came of itself sponta- 
neously without free will and as though one couldn't 
help it. Let me open the door a little. I think the thun- 
der has passed over. 

Mr. X. If you wouldn't mind. 

Mr. Y. [Opens the door, then sits on the table and 
tells his story with frigid enthusiasm, theatrical gestures 
and affected intonation.} Yes, do you see, I was a stu- 
dent at Lind, and once I wanted a loan from the bank. 
I had no serious debts, and my governor had a little prop- 
erty, but not much, you know. In the meanwhile I had 
sent the bill to another man to back, and contrary to all 
my expectations I got it back with a refusal. For a whole 



PARIA 147 

hour I sat stupefied by the blow ; you see, it was a most 
unpleasant surprise, most unpleasant. The document hap- 
pened to be lying- on the table. Close by was the letter. 
My eyes wandered first over the fatal lines that contained 
my doom as a matter of fact it wasn't my death sen- 
tence, because I could quite easily have got somebody 
else to back it, as a matter of fact as many people as I 
wanted, but, as I said, it was very unpleasant as things 
stood ; and as I was sitting there in my innocence my gaze 
became gradually riveted on that signature on the letter, 
which, if only in its right place, would perhaps have saved 
my future. The signature was just a piece of ordinary 
handwriting you know how, when you're thinking about 
something else, you can sit down and fill a piece of blot- 
ting paper with absolute nonsense. I had a pen in my 
hand. [Takes up the pen.] See here, and, just like this, 
it began to move. I'm not going to contend that there 
was anything mystical anything spiritualistic at the 
back of it, because I don't believe in all that stuff ; it was 
simply a purely mechanical thoughtless process, as I sat 
and copied that pretty signature time after time of 
course without any intention of making any advantage 
out of it. When the sheet had been covered I had ac- 
quired a complete proficiency in signing the name. 
[Throws the pen quickly away.] And then I forgot all 
about it. All night I slept deeply and heavily, and when 
I woke up I felt as though I had dreamed, but could not 
remember my dream ; at times it seemed as though a door 
were ajar and I saw the writing table with a bill on it 
just like mine, and when I got up I went straight up to 
that table just as though I had after mature considera- 
tion made the irrevocable resolution to write the name 
on that blank piece of paper. All thought of conse- 
quences of risks had vanished; there was no hesita- 
tion it was just as though I was fulfilling a solemn duty 
and I wrote. [Springs />.] What could it have been? 



148 PARIA 

Is it a case of inspiration or suggestion ? But from whom ? 
I had slept alone in the room. Could it have been the 
primitive part of my ego, the savage part, which was a 
stranger to all progress, which in the working of my sub- 
consciousness during sleep- had come along with its crim- 
inal will and its inability to calculate the consequences of 
an act ? Tell me, what do you think of the matter ? 

Mr. X. [Torturing him.] Quite frankly, your story 
does not satisfy me completely. I find gaps in it, but 
that may be because you haven't remembered the details, 
and as to criminal suggestion, which I've read a fair 
amount about, I'll try and remember hm! But it all 
comes to the same thing you've served your punishment 
and you've had the pluck to own up to the error of 
your ways. Now don't let's talk any more about it. 

Mr. Y. No, no, no, we will go on talking about it 
until I convince myself that I'm not a criminal. 

Mr. X. Haven't you done that? 

Mr. Y. No, I haven't. 

Mr. X. Yes, you see, it's that which bothers me. It's 
that which bothers me. Don't you think that every man 
has a skeleton in his cupboard? Haven't we all stolen 
and lied as children? Yes, of course we have. Well, 
one finds men who remain children all their lives, so that 
they're unable to control their criminal desires. If the 
opportunity but presents itself, one of the type will be- 
come a criminal immediately. But I can't understand why 
you don't feel yourself innocent. If you look upon chil- 
dren as irresponsible, you ought to look upon criminals 
in the same way. It's strange yes, it is strange, I shall 

perhaps be sorry afterwards, that [Pause.] I once 

killed a man. I did, and I have never had any qualms. 

Mr. Y. [Keenly interested.] You you? 

Mr. X. Yes, I myself. Perhaps you'd rather not shake 
hands with a murderer? 

Mr. Y. [Briskly.] Oh, what rot! 



PARIA 149 

Mr. X. Yes, but I went scot-free. 

Mr. Y. [With an air of familiarity and superiority.] 
All the better for you ! How did you dodge the coppers ? 

Mr. X. There was no one to accuse me no one to 
suspect me there were no witnesses. The thing was like 
this. A friend of mine had invited me one Christmas to 
his place outside Upsala for the hunting. He sent to 
drive me a drunken old blighter who went to sleep upon 
the box, drove bang into a hole and upset in the ditch. 
I won't say it was a matter of life and death, but in a 
fit of temper I let him have it in the neck to wake him 
up, with the result that he never woke up, but lay there 
dead. 

Mr. Y. [Slyly.] Well, and didn't you give your- 
self up? 

Mr. X. No ; for the following reasons : The man had 
no relations or other people for whom his life was neces- 
sary ; he had lived out his vegetable existence ; his place 
could be taken immediately by someone else who needed 
it much more; while on the other hand I was indispen- 
sable to my parents' well-being, to my own perhaps to 
science. The result of the whole business had already 
cured me of my penchant to punch people in the neck, 
and I didn't feel inclined to sacrifice my own life and that 
of my parents to satisfy a sense of abstract justice. 

Mr. Y. I see. So that's how you judge human values ? 

Mr. X. In the case in question, yes. 

Mr. Y. But how about the consciousness of guilt, 
retribution ? 

Mr. X. I had no consciousness of guilt ; I hadn't com- 
mitted any crime. I'd taken and given punches as a boy. 
But what was responsible was my ignorance that a fatal 
result could be so easily produced upon an old person. 

Mr. Y. Yes but killing by chance-medley is punished 
by two years' hard labor all the same just the same as 
forgery. 



150 PARIA 

Mr. X. I've thought about it enough, as you can think. 
And many a night I've dreamed I was in prison. I say, 
tell me, is it as bad as they make out to be under lock and 
key? 

Mr. Y. Yes, my dear fellow. They first disfigure your 
appearance by cutting your hair, so that if you didn't 
look like a criminal before you do so afterward, and when 
you look at yourself in the glass you're convinced that 
you're a murderer. 

Mr. X. That's a mask which can perhaps be taken 
off, but it's not such a bad idea. 

Mr. Y. You jojce about it, do you ? And they reducfc 
your food so that every day, nay, every hour, you feel 
yourself further away from life, and so much nearer to* 
death. All the vital functions are depressed and you feel 
yourself dried up, and your soul, which ought to be cured 
and improved, is put upon starvation treatment, and 
thrust back a thousand years of civilization ; you are only 
allowed to read books that have been written for the 
edification of our antediluvian ancestors ; you can manage 
to hear what's never going to take place in heaven ; but 
what takes place on this earth remains a sealed book; 
you are taken away from your environment, degraded 
from your class ; put beneath those who are beneath you ; 
you get visions of what life was like in the Age of Bronze, 
feel as though you were dressed in skins in a barbarous 
state lived in- a cave and drank out of a trough. 

Mr. X. Quite so; but it's only reasonable that if a 
man's behaving as though this were the Age of Bronze he 
should live in the appropriate costume of the period. 

Mr. Y. [Frowns.] You're making fun of me, you 
are. You carry on like a man in the Age of Stone, who 
is yet somehow allowed to live in an Age of Gold. 

Mr. X. [Interrogating sharply.] What! What do 
you mean by that expression of yours the Age of 
Gold? 



PARIA 151 

'Mr. Y. [Slyly.] Nothing at all. 

Mr. X. You're lying, you are, because you haven't the 
pluck to say what you really meant. 

Mr. Y. I haven't the pluck! You think that! I 
showed some pluck, I think, when I dared show myself 
in this neighborhood after I'd gone through what I'd 
gone through. But do you know the worst part of the 
suffering when a man's inside? Do you? It's just this, 
that the other men aren't there too. 
* Mr. X. What other men? 

Mr. Y. The men who went scot-free. 

Mr. X. Are you referring to me ? 

Mr. Y. Yes. 

Mr. X. I've not committed any crime. 

Mr. Y. Really, haven't yeu? 

Mr. X. No ; an accident isn't a crime. 

Mr. Y. I see : it's an accident if you commit murder. 

Mr. X. I haven't committed murder. 

Mr. Y. Really really ! It's not murder, then, to strike 
another man dead? 

Mr. X. No not always. There's manslaughter 
there's chance-medley there's accidental homicide and 
there's the distinction between malice aforethought or 
not. At all events, I'm quite afraid of you now since 
you belong to the most dangerous category of humanity 
the fools. 

Mr. Y. Indeed ! You imagine that I am a fool ? Just 
listen. Would.you like a proof that I'm very smart ? 

Mr. X. Let* s hear it. 

Mr. Y. Will you acknowledge that I reason with both 
shrewdness and logic when you've heard what I've got 
to say ? You have had an accident which might have got 
you two years' hard labor ; you've escaped scot-free from 
the stigma of hard labor, and here sits a man who has 
been the victim of a misfortune a piece of unconscious 
suggestion and suffered two years' hard labor. This 



152 PARIA 

man can by great scientific services wipe out the stigma 
which he involuntarily brought upon himself, but to per- 
form those services he must have money a lot of money 
and money at once. 

Don't you think that the other man the man who went 
unpunished should readjust the balance of human life 
in the same way as if he were adjudged liable to pay 
compensation? Don't you think so? 

Mr.X. [Quietly.] Yes. 

Mr. Y. Now we understand one another. [Pause.] 
How much do you think fair ? 

Mr. X. Fair. The law provides that fifty kronors 
should be the minimum compensation, but as the dead 
man didn't leave any dependents your argument falls to 
the ground. 

Mr. Y. No ; you won't understand. Let me make it 
clearer. It's to me that you must make the compensation. 

Mr. X. I've never heard before that a homicide should 
make compensation to a forger, and, besides, I haven't 
found anybody to accuse me. 

Mr. Y. No? Well, here is someone. 

Mr. X. Now we're beginning to see how the land lies. 
How much do you want to abet my homicide ? 

Mr. Y. Six thousand kronors. 

Mr. X. That's too much. Where am I to get it from? 
[MR. Y. points to the chest.] I won't. I won't be a 
thief. 

Mr. Y. Don't try to bluff me. Are you going to tell 
me that you haven't been to that chest already ? 

Mr. X. [As if to himself.} To think that I could 
have made such a complete mistake ! But that's the case 
with soft natures. You like soft natures, so you're apt 
to believe that they like you, and that's why I've always 
been on my guard against anyone I liked. And so you're 
absolutely convinced that I took the chest out of the 
ground ? 



PARIA 153 

Mr. Y. Yes, I'm certain. 

Mr. X. And you'll inform against me if you don't get 
six thousand kronors. 

Mr. Y. No mistake about it you can't get out of it, 
and it's not worth while trying. 

Mr. X. Do you think that I will give my father a thief 
for a son, my wife a thief for a husband, my children 
a thief for a father, my friends a thief for a colleague? 
Not if I know it. Now I will go to the police and give 
myself up. 

Mr. Y. [Springs up and collects his things.] Wait a 
bit. 

Mr. X. What f.or? 

Mr. Y. [Hesitating.] I was only thinking that it's 
not necessary any more as it's not necessary for me to 
stay here that I might go. 

Mr. X. No, you don't sit down in your place at the 
table where you were before then we'll talk a bit first. 

Mr. Y. [Sits down after he has taken up a black coat.] 
What, what's going to happen now ? 

Mr. X. [Looks in the mirror at the back of MR. Y.] 
Now it's as clear as possible. 

Mr. Y. [Nervously.} What do you see so strange? 

Mr. X. I see in the looking-glass that you are a thief 
a simple, common or garden thief. A few minutes ago, 
when you sat there in your white shirt, I just noticed 
the books were out of order a bit in my bookcase, but 
I couldn't notice in what way, as I had to listen to you 
and observe you. But now that you've become anti- 
pathetic to me my eyes have grown sharper, and now 
that you've on your black coat, which affords a color foil 
in the red backs of the books, which there wasn't before 
when your red braces were showing, I see that you've 
been and read your forgery story out of Bernheim's 
treatise on suggestion, and have put the book back upside 
down. So you stole the story as well. Now that's why 



154 PARIA 

I think that I'm right in drawing the deduction that you 
committed your crime because you needed either the 
necessities or luxuries of life. 

Mr. Y. Out of necessity ! If you only knew ! 

Mr. X. If you only knew in what necessity I have 
lived, and live still. But that's got nothing to do with it. 
But you've done your stretch, that's nearly certain, but 
it was in America, because it was American prison life 
that you described; and another thing is almost equally 
certain: that you haven't done your term here. 

Mr. Y. How can you say that? 

Mr. X. Wait till the inspector comes, then get to 
know. [MR. Y. gets up.] Look here, now ! The first 
time I mentioned the inspector, in connection with a thun- 
derbolt, you wanted to clear out. Besides, when a man 
has served in prison he will never go to a windmill every 
day and look at it, or post himself behind a window-pane 
in one word, you are both a punished and an unpun- 
ished criminal. And that's why you were so unusually 
difficult to get at. [Pause.] 

Mr. Y. [Absolutely cowed.] May I go now? 

Mr. X. Now you may go. 

Mr. Y. [Puts his things together.] Are you angry 
with me? 

Mr. X. Yes. Would you prefer it if I pitied you ? 

Mr. Y. [Sulkily.] Do you consider yourself better 
than I am? 

Mr. X. I certainly do. I am better than you are. I 
am much smarter than you, and much more useful than 
you are to the general community. 

Mr. Y. You are very deep, but not so deep as I am, I 
am in check myself, but all the same you'll be mate next 
move. 

Mr. X. [Fixes MR. Y.] Shall we have another round? 
What mischief are you up to now? 

Mr. Y. That's my secret. 



PARIA 155 

Mr. X. Let's have a look at you you're thinking of 
writing an anonymous letter to my wife and telling her 
about this secret of mine. 

Mr. Y. Yes ; and you can't stop me doing it. Put me 
in jail ? Why, you daren't ; and so you've got to let me 
go ; and when I'm gone I can do what I want to every 
day. 

Mr. X. Oh, you devil! You've found my one weak 
point do you want to compel me to become a murderer ? 

Mr. Y. You can't do that, you wretch ! 

Mr. X. You see, there's a difference between one man 
and another. And you know yourself that I can't do 
things like you do; that's where you have the pull over 
me. But just consider supposing you make me treat 
you in the same way that I treated the coachman. [Lifts 
up his hand to deliver a blow.] 

Mr. Y. [Stares insolently at MR. X.] You can't do 
it you can't do it; just as you couldn't find your salva- 
tion in that chest. 

Mr. X. You don't believe then that I took it out of 
the earth? 

Mr. Y. You didn't have the pluck. Just as you didn't 
have the pluck to tell your wife that she'd married a 
murderer. 

Mr. X. You're a different type of man to what I am 
whether you're stronger or weaker I don't know 
more criminal or not don't touch me. But there's no 
question about your being more of an ass; because you 
were an ass when you wrote in somebody else's name 
instead of begging, as I managed to do; you were an 
ass when you went and stole an idea out of my book. 
Couldn't you have known that I read my books? You 
were an ass when you thought that you were smarter 
than I was and that you could lure me into being a thief ; 
you were a fool when you thought it would adjust the 
balance if there were two thieves in the world instead of 
one, and you were most foolish of all when you labored 



156 PARIA 

under the delusion that I would go and build up my life's 
happiness without having first made the corner-stone safe. 
You go and write anonymous letters to my wife that her 
husband is a homicide? she knew it when we were en- 
gaged! Now take yourself off! 

Mr. Y. May I go? 

Mr. X. You shall go now. At once. Your things will 
follow you. Clear outl 

{Curtain. 



SIMOON 



CHARACTERS 

BISKRA, an Arabian girl. 

YOUSEF, her lover. 

GUIMARD, a lieutenant in the Zouaves. 



SIMOON 



SCENE 

In ^Algeria, at the present time. 

An Arabian marabout (cemetery) with a sarcophagus 
on the ground. Praying mats here and there; on the 
right a charnel-house. Door at the back with porch and 
curtains; window apertures in the wall at the back. Small 
sand hillocks here and there on the grcrund; an uprooted 
aloe; a palm-tree; a heap of esparto grass. 



[BISKRA enters with a burnous hood drawn down over 
her face, and a guitar on her back, throws herself down 
on a mat end then prays with arms crossed- over her 
breast. The wind blows outside.} 

Biskra. la ilaha all allah. 

Yousef. [In hatft.] The Simoon comes. Where is 
the Frank? 

Biskra. He will be here in a little space. 

YouSef. Why dost thou not slay him at once? 

Biskra. Nay, because he is going to do that himself. 
If I were to do it the whites would kill the whole of our 
tribe, for they know that I was the guide Ali though 
they do not know that I am the maid Biskra. 

Yousef. He is to do it himself? How is that to be? 

Biskra. Dost not know the Simoon? Thou knowest 
that Simoon shrivels up the brains of the whites like 
dates, and makes them stricken with panic, so that life is 

159 



i6o SIMOON 

hateful to them and they fly out into the great unknown. 

Yousef. I have heard such things, and in the last com- 
bat six Franks lifted their hands against themselves. For 
snow has fallen on the mountains and in half-an-hour all 
may be over. Biskra, canst thou hate? 

Biskra* Thou askest if I can hate ? My hate is bound- 
less as the waste, burning as the sun, and stronger than 
my love. Rvery hour of joy they have stolen from me 
since they killed Ali has gathered together like poison in 
a viper's fangs, and what Simoon does not wreak that 
will I wreak myself. 

Yousef. That is well spoken, Biskra, and thou shalt do 
as thou hast said. My hate has withered like grass in 
the autumn since my eyes have had sight of thee. Take 
strength from me and be the arrow from my bow. 

Biskra. Embrace me, Yousef ; embrace me. 

Y&usef. Not here in the holy presence; not now 
later, afterward when thou shalt have earned thy re- 
ward. 

Biskra. Noble sheikh ! Noble man ! 

You'sef. Yes ; the maid that shall bear my child under 
her heart must show herself worthy of the honor. 

Biskra. I none other shall bear the child of Yousef. 
I, Biskra, the despised one, the ill-favored one, but the 
strong one. 

Yousef. So be it. Now I will go down and sleep by 
the fountain. Need I to teach thee the secret craft which 
thou didst learn from the great Marabout Siddi sheikh, 
and which thou didst practice in the market-place since 
thou wast a child? 

Biskra, That need'st thou not dot I know all the 
secret craft that one needs to frighten the life out of a 
craven Frank; the cowards who crawl before their ene- 
mies and send leaden pellets before them. I know all 
even to speaking with the belly. And what my craft 
fails to wreak, that shall the sun do, for the sun is on 
the side of Yousef and of Biskra. 



SIMOON 161 

Yousef. The sun is the Moslem's friend, but today 
is it passing great. Thou mayst get scorched, maid. Take 
first a drink of water, for I can see thy hands are 
parched. [He lifts up a mat and stoops down to a bowl 
of water, which he hands to BISKRA.} 

Biskra. [Lifts the bowl to her mouth.] And my eyes 
begin to see red my lungs to dry up. I hear I hear 
see thou, the sands run already through the roof, and 
there sings the string of the guitar. Simoon is here! 
But the Frank is not. 

Yousef. Come down here, Biskra, and let the Frank 
kill himself. 

Biskra. Hell first and death afterward. Dbst thou 
think that I flinch? [Pours out the water on a heap of 
sand.] I shall water the sand, that my fevenge may 
grow ! And I shall parch my heart. Grow, hate ! Burn, 
sun! Blow, wind! 

Yousef. Hail to thee, mother of the son of Yousef, for 
thou shalt bear Yousef's son, the Avenger, even thou. 
[The wind increases; the curtain in front of the door 
flaps, a red light illumines, the room, faft subsequently 
Passes into gold.] 

Biskra. The Frank comes and Simoon is here! Go! 

Yousef. See me again in a half-hour. Here is your 
sand water. [Points to a sandheap.] Heaven itself will 
measure out the time of the infidel's hell. 



SCENE II 

BISKRA; GUIMARD, pale and staggering, confused, speaks 
in a faint voice. 

Guimard. Simoon is here. What way do you think 
my men have gone ? 

Biskra. I guided your men to the left, toward the east. 
Guimard. To the left toward the east. Let me see. 



162 SIMOON 

Now I've got the east right, and the west. Put me in a 
chair and give me some water. 

Biskra. [Leads GUIMARD to the sand hillock, and puts 
him on the ground, with his head on the sand hillack.] 
Art thou easy thus ? 

Guimard. [Looks at her.] I'm sitting a little crooked. 
Put something under my head. 

Biskra. [Piles up the sand hillock under his head.] 
And now hast thou a cushion under thy head. 

Guimard. Head ? That's my feet. Isn't that my feet ? 

Biskra. Yea, surely. 

Guimard. I thought so. Give me a stool, now, under 
my head. 

Biskra. [Drags along an aloe-tree and puts it under 
GUIMARD' s knees.] There is a stool for thee. 

Guimard. And water water! 

Biskra. [Takes the empty bowl, fills it with sand and 
hands it to GUIMARD.] Drink it while it is cold. 

Guimard. [Sips from the bowl.] It is cold, but none 
the less it does not slake my thirst. I cannot drink. I 
abhor water, take it away. 

Biskra. That's the dog that bit thee. 

Guimard. What dog? I have never been bitten by 
any dog. 

Biskra. Simoon has shrivelled up thy memory. Be- 
ware of the phantoms of Simoon. Thou rememberest the 
mad wind-hound that bit thee on thy last hunt but one 
in Bab-el-Oued. 

Guimard. I was hunting in Bab-el-Oued! That is 
right. Was it a bran-colored one ? 

Biskra. A bitch ! Yes, see now ! And she bit thee in 
the calf. Dost thou not feel the wound smarting? 

Guimard. [Feels himself on his calf and pricks him- 
self with the aloe.] Yes, I feel it. Water! Water! 

Biskra. [Hands him the bowl of sand.] Drink, drink ! 

Guimard. No, I cannot! Blessed Virgin, Mother of 
God ! I am panic-stricken ! 



SIMOON 163 

Biskra. Be not afraid ! I will cure thee and drive out 
the devils with the power of my music. Listen. 

Guimard. [Shrieks.] Ah! Ah! No music! I cannot 
bear it. And what good does it do me ? 

Biskra. Music tames the treacherous spirit of the ser- 
pent. Dost thou think it is not equal to a mad dog's bite ? 
[Singing with guitar.] Biskra, Biskra, Biskra, Biskra. 
Simoon ! Simoon ! 

Yousef. [Underground.] Simoon! Simoon! 

Guimard. What is that you were singing ? Ah ! 

Biskra. Have I been singing? Look here, thou, now 
I put a palm leaf in my mouth. [Takes a palm leaf be- 
tween her teeth. Song above.] Biskra, Biskra, Biskra, 
Biskra, Biskra. 

Yousef. [Beneath the ground.] Simoon, Simoon. 

Guimard. What hellish nightmare is this ? 

Biskra. I am singing now. [BISKRA and YOUSEF to- 
gether.] Biskra, Biskra, Biskra, Biskra, Biskra, Biskra. 
Simoon. 

Guimard, [Raises himself.] What devil are you that 
sings with two voices ? Are you a man or a woman ? Or 
both in one? 

Biskra. I am Ali the guide. Thou dost not know me 
again, foe thy senses are wandering ; but if thou wouldst 
save thyself from mad thoughts, and mad feelings, believe 
what I say and do what I bid. 

Guimard. You need not bid me, for I find that all is as 
you say it is. 

Biskra. Thou seest that it is so, thou idolater? 

Guimard. Idolater ? 

Biskra. Yes. Take up the idol thou wearest on thy 
breast. [GUIMARD takes up a medallion.] Trample it 
under thy feet and call on God, the One, the Merciful, 
the Pitiful. 

Guimard. [Hesitating.] St. Edward, my patron saint. 

Biskra. Can he protect thee? Can he? 

Guimard. No, he cannot ! [Sitting up.] Yes, he can. 



164 SIMOON 

Biskra. Let us see then. [Opens the doors, the cur- 
tains flap and the grass -whistles.] 

Guimard. [Puts his han.d before his mouth.] Close 
the door ! 

Biskra. Down with the idol ! 

Guimard. No, I cannot. 

Biskra. See then. Simoon ruffles not a hair of my 
head, but thee, thou infidel, he kills. Down with the idol. 

Guimard. [Throws the medallion on the floor.] Water, 
I am dying. 

Biskra. Pray to the One, the Merciful, the Pitiful. 

Guimard. What shall I ask? 

Biskra. Say my words. 

Guimard. Speak. 

Biskra. "God is One, there is no other God but He the 
Merciful, the Pitiful." 

Guimard. "God is One, there is no other God but He 
the Merciful, the Pitiful." 

Biskra. Lie down on the floor. [GUIMARD lies down 
involuntarily.] What dost thou hear? 

Guimard. I hear a fountain plash. 

Biskra. See thou, God is One, and there is no one 
else but He the Merciful, the Pitiful ! What dost thou 
see? 

Guimard. I hear a fountain plash. I see a lamp shine, 
by a window with green blinds, in a white street. 

Biskra. Who sits at the window? 

Guimard. My wife, Elise ! 

Biskra. Who stands behind the curtains and puts his 
hands around her neck? 

Guimard. That's my son, Georges. 

Biskra. How old is thy son? 

Guimard. Four years come St. Nicholas. 

Biskra. And can he already stand behind curtains arid 
hold the neck of another man's wife? 

Guimard. He cannot but it is he. 

Biskra. Four years old with a fair mustache. 



SIMOONi 165 

Guimard. A fair mustache, you say. Ah ! that is Jules, 
my friend. 

Biskra. Who stands behind the curtains and lays his 
hand around thy wife's neck? 

Guimard. Ah ! Devil ! 

Biskra. Dost thou see thy son? 

Gmmard. No, not any more. 

Biskra. [Imitates the ringing of bells with her guitar.] 
What seest thou, now? 

Guimard. I hear bells being rung, and I smell the 
odor of a dead body ; it smells like rancid butter ugh ! 

Biskra. Dost thou not hear the choir boys sing for 
the memory of a dead child ? 

Guimard. Just wait, I cannot hear it. [Gloomily.] 
But dost thou wish it, be it so; now I hear it. 

Biskra. Dost thou see the wreaths on the coffin, which 
they carry in their midst ? 

Guimard. Yes. 

Biskra. There is a violet ribbon, and this is printed in 
silver: "Farewell, my beloved Georges, thy father." 

Gmmard. Yes, that is it then. [Cries.] My Georges! 
Georges! My dear child! Elise, my wife, comfort me. 
Help me! [Gropes arcruvtd him.} Where are you, dear? 
Elise ? Have you gone away from me ? Answer ! Call 
out the name of thy loved one. [A VOICE from the roof : 

Jules! Jules!] Jules? My name is What is my 

name! My name is Charles! And she called Jules! 
Elise, dear wife, answer me, since your spirit is here. 
I know it, and you promised me never to love anyone 
else. [VOICES laugh.] Who is laughing? 

Biskra. Elise, your wife. 

Guimard. Kill me. I will not live any more. Life is 
as loathsome to me as sauerkraut in- St. Doux. Do you 
know what St. Doux is, you? Lard! [Spits in front 
of himself .] I have no more saliva left. Water! Water! 
otherwise I'll bite you. [Full storm outside.] 

Biskra. [Puts her finger to her lips and coughs.] Now, 



166 SIMOON 

die, Frank! Write thy last will while there is time. 
Where is thy note-book? 

Guimard. [Takes up a note-book and a pen.] What 
shall I write? 

Biskra. A man thinks of his wife when he has got to 
die and of his child. 

Guimard. [Writes.] "Elise Icursethee! Simoon 
I die." 

Biskra. And sign it thus, otherwise the will is worth 
nothing. 

Guimard. How shall I sign it? 

Biskra. Write: la ilaha all allah. 

Guimard. [Writes.] That is written! May I die 
now? 

Biskra. Now you may die like a cowardly soldier who 
has deserted his comrades, and thou art like to have a 
pretty funeral, with jackals to sing on thy corpse. [Doing, 
an, "attack" on her guitar.] Dost thou hear the drums 
going to the attack the infidels who have sun and Si- 
moon with them advance from an ambush. [Beats tfn 
her guitar.] Shots are fired along the whole line, the 
Franks are unable to load, the Arabs are spread out and 
shoot, the Franks fly. 

Guimard. [Raises himself.] The Franks do not fly. 

Biskra. [Blows the "retreat" on a flute she has taken 
up.] The Franks fly when the retreat is blown. 

Guimard. They're retreating, they're retreating, and I 
am here. [Pulls off his epaulettes.] I am dead. [Falls 
on the floor.] 

Biskra. Yes, thou art dead. Thou knowest not that 
thou hast been dead for a long time. [Goes to the char- 
nel-house, takes up a skull.] 

Guimard. Have I been dead? [Feels his face.] 

Biskra. A long time ! A long time ! Look at thyself 
in the mirror! [Shows the skull.] 

Guimard. Ah ! Am I that ? 

Biskra. Look at your protruding cheeks. Seest thou 



SIMOON 167 

not how the vultures have eaten thine eyes? Dost thou 
not feel again the hole by your right grinder which you 
had taken out? Dost thou not see the hole in the chin 
where that pretty little imperial sprouted which thy Elise 
fancied so to caress ? Dost thou not see the ears which 
thy little Georges was wont to kiss every morning over 
the breakfast-table ? Dost thou see how the axe has taken 
away the hair at the neck, when the executioner was be- 
heading the deserter? 

[GUIMARD, who has been sitting listening with horror, 
falls down dead.] 

Biskra. [Who has been on her knees, gets up after she 
has examined his pulse-. Sings.} Simoon! Simoon! 
[She opens the doors, the draperies flap, she puts her 
finger on her mouth, and falls on her back.} Yousef ! 



SCENE III 

Previous characters. YOUSEF coming up from the cellar. 

Yousef. [Examines GUIMARD, lo-aks for BISKRA.] 
Biskra ! [He sees BISKRA, lifts her up in his arms.] Dost 
thou live? 

Biskra. Is the Frank dead? 

Yousef. If he is not, he shall be. Simoon ! Simoon ! 

Biskra. Then I live. But give me water. 

Yousef. [Props her u$ against the wicket.] Here. 
Now Yousef is thine. 

Biskra. And Biskra shall be the mother of thy son. 
Yousef, great Yousef ! 

Yousef. Strong Biskra! Stronger than the Simoon. 

[Curtain. 



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