Infomotions, Inc.There Are Crimes and Crimes / Strindberg, August, 1849-1912



Author: Strindberg, August, 1849-1912
Title: There Are Crimes and Crimes
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): henriette; maurice; adolphe; jeanne; catherine; abbe; monsieur maurice; madame catherine
Contributor(s): Dickson, William P. (William Purdie), 1823-1901 [Translator]
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Title: There are Crimes and Crimes

Author: August Strindberg

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There are Crimes and Crimes

A Comedy

by

August Strindberg


Translated from the Swedish with an Introduction by Edwin Bjorkman






INTRODUCTION


Strindberg was fifty years old when he wrote "There Are Crimes and
Crimes." In the same year, 1899, he produced three of his finest
historical dramas: "The Saga of the Folkungs," "Gustavus Vasa,"
and "Eric XIV." Just before, he had finished "Advent," which he
described as "A Mystery," and which was published together with
"There Are Crimes and Crimes" under the common title of "In a
Higher Court." Back of these dramas lay his strange confessional
works, "Inferno" and "Legends," and the first two parts of his
autobiographical dream-play, "Toward Damascus"--all of which were
finished between May, 1897, and some time in the latter part of
1898. And back of these again lay that period of mental crisis,
when, at Paris, in 1895 and 1896, he strove to make gold by the
transmutation of baser metals, while at the same time his spirit
was travelling through all the seven hells in its search for the
heaven promised by the great mystics of the past.

"There Are Crimes and Crimes" may, in fact, be regarded as his
first definite step beyond that crisis, of which the preceding
works were at once the record and closing chord. When, in 1909, he
issued "The Author," being a long withheld fourth part of his
first autobiographical series, "The Bondwoman's Son," he prefixed
to it an analytical summary of the entire body of his work.
Opposite the works from 1897-8 appears in this summary the
following passage: "The great crisis at the age of fifty;
revolutions in the life of the soul, desert wanderings,
Swedenborgian Heavens and Hells." But concerning "There Are Crimes
and Crimes" and the three historical dramas from the same year he
writes triumphantly: "Light after darkness; new productivity, with
recovered Faith, Hope and Love--and with full, rock-firm
Certitude."

In its German version the play is named "Rausch," or
"Intoxication," which indicates the part played by the champagne
in the plunge of Maurice from the pinnacles of success to the
depths of misfortune. Strindberg has more and more come to see
that a moderation verging closely on asceticism is wise for most
men and essential to the man of genius who wants to fulfil his
divine mission. And he does not scorn to press home even this
comparatively humble lesson with the naive directness and fiery
zeal which form such conspicuous features of all his work.

But in the title which bound it to "Advent" at their joint
publication we have a better clue to what the author himself
undoubtedly regards as the most important element of his work--its
religious tendency. The "higher court," in which are tried the
crimes of Maurice, Adolphe, and Henriette, is, of course, the
highest one that man can imagine. And the crimes of which they
have all become guilty are those which, as Adolphe remarks, "are
not mentioned in the criminal code"--in a word, crimes against the
spirit, against the impalpable power that moves us, against God.
The play, seen in this light, pictures a deep-reaching spiritual
change, leading us step by step from the soul adrift on the waters
of life to the state where it is definitely oriented and impelled.

There are two distinct currents discernible in this dramatic
revelation of progress from spiritual chaos to spiritual order--
for to order the play must be said to lead, and progress is
implied in its onward movement, if there be anything at all in our
growing modern conviction that ANY vital faith is better than none
at all. One of the currents in question refers to the means rather
than the end, to the road rather than the goal. It brings us back
to those uncanny soul-adventures by which Strindberg himself won
his way to the "full, rock-firm Certitude" of which the play in
its entirety is the first tangible expression. The elements
entering into this current are not only mystical, but occult. They
are derived in part from Swedenborg, and in part from that
picturesque French dreamer who signs himself "Sar Peladan"; but
mostly they have sprung out of Strindberg's own experiences in
moments of abnormal tension.

What happened, or seemed to happen, to himself at Paris in 1895,
and what he later described with such bewildering exactitude in
his "Inferno" and "Legends," all this is here presented in
dramatic form, but a little toned down, both to suit the needs of
the stage and the calmer mood of the author. Coincidence is law.
It is the finger-point of Providence, the signal to man that he
must beware. Mystery is the gospel: the secret knitting of man to
man, of fact to fact, deep beneath the surface of visible and
audible existence. Few writers could take us into such a realm of
probable impossibilities and possible improbabilities without
losing all claim to serious consideration. If Strindberg has thus
ventured to our gain and no loss of his own, his success can be
explained only by the presence in the play of that second,
parallel current of thought and feeling.

This deeper current is as simple as the one nearer the surface is
fantastic. It is the manifestation of that "rock-firm Certitude"
to which I have already referred. And nothing will bring us nearer
to it than Strindberg's own confession of faith, given in his
"Speeches to the Swedish Nation" two years ago. In that pamphlet
there is a chapter headed "Religion," in which occurs this
passage: "Since 1896 I have been calling myself a Christian. I am
not a Catholic, and have never been, but during a stay of seven
years in Catholic countries and among Catholic relatives, I
discovered that the difference between Catholic and Protestant
tenets is either none at all, or else wholly superficial, and that
the division which once occurred was merely political or else
concerned with theological problems not fundamentally germane to
the religion itself. A registered Protestant I am and will remain,
but I can hardly be called orthodox or evangelistic, but come
nearest to being a Swedenborgian. I use my Bible Christianity
internally and privately to tame my somewhat decivilized nature--
decivilised by that veterinary philosophy and animal science
(Darwinism) in which, as student at the university, I was reared.
And I assure my fellow-beings that they have no right to complain
because, according to my ability, I practise the Christian
teachings. For only through religion, or the hope of something
better, and the recognition of the innermost meaning of life as
that of an ordeal, a school, or perhaps a penitentiary, will it be
possible to bear the burden of life with sufficient resignation."

Here, as elsewhere, it is made patent that Strindberg's
religiosity always, on closer analysis, reduces itself to
morality. At bottom he is first and last, and has always been, a
moralist--a man passionately craving to know what is RIGHT and to
do it. During the middle, naturalistic period of his creative
career, this fundamental tendency was in part obscured, and he
engaged in the game of intellectual curiosity known as "truth for
truth's own sake." One of the chief marks of his final and
mystical period is his greater courage to "be himself" in this
respect--and this means necessarily a return, or an advance, to a
position which the late William James undoubtedly would have
acknowledged as "pragmatic." To combat the assertion of over-
developed individualism that we are ends in ourselves, that we
have certain inalienable personal "rights" to pleasure and
happiness merely because we happen to appear here in human shape,
this is one of Strindberg's most ardent aims in all his later
works.

As to the higher and more inclusive object to which our lives must
be held subservient, he is not dogmatic. It may be another life.
He calls it God. And the code of service he finds in the tenets of
all the Christian churches, but principally in the Commandments.
The plain and primitive virtues, the faith that implies little
more than square dealing between man and man--these figure
foremost in Strindberg's ideals. In an age of supreme self-seeking
like ours, such an outlook would seem to have small chance of
popularity, but that it embodies just what the time most needs is,
perhaps, made evident by the reception which the public almost
invariably grants "There Are Crimes and Crimes" when it is staged.

With all its apparent disregard of what is commonly called
realism, and with its occasional, but quite unblushing, use of
methods generally held superseded--such as the casual introduction
of characters at whatever moment they happen to be needed on the
stage--it has, from the start, been among the most frequently
played and most enthusiastically received of Strindberg's later
dramas. At Stockholm it was first taken up by the Royal Dramatic
Theatre, and was later seen on the tiny stage of the Intimate
Theatre, then devoted exclusively to Strindberg's works. It was
one of the earliest plays staged by Reinhardt while he was still
experimenting with his Little Theatre at Berlin, and it has also
been given in numerous German cities, as well as in Vienna.

Concerning my own version of the play I wish to add a word of
explanation. Strindberg has laid the scene in Paris. Not only the
scenery, but the people and the circumstances are French. Yet he
has made no attempt whatever to make the dialogue reflect French
manners of speaking or ways of thinking. As he has given it to us,
the play is French only in its most superficial aspect, in its
setting--and this setting he has chosen simply because he needed a
certain machinery offered him by the Catholic, but not by the
Protestant, churches. The rest of the play is purely human in its
note and wholly universal in its spirit. For this reason I have
retained the French names and titles, but have otherwise striven
to bring everything as close as possible to our own modes of
expression. Should apparent incongruities result from this manner
of treatment, I think they will disappear if only the reader will
try to remember that the characters of the play move in an
existence cunningly woven by the author out of scraps of ephemeral
reality in order that he may show us the mirage of a more enduring
one.




THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES

A COMEDY

1899




CHARACTERS

   MAURICE, a playwright

   JEANNE, his mistress

   MARION, their daughter, five years old

   ADOLPHE, a painter

   HENRIETTE, his mistress

   EMILE, a workman, brother of Jeanne

   MADAME CATHERINE

   THE ABBE

   A WATCHMAN

   A HEAD WAITER

   A COMMISSAIRE

   TWO DETECTIVES

   A WAITER

   A GUARD

   A SERVANT GIRL




ACT I, SCENE 1. THE CEMETERY
       2. THE CREMERIE

ACT II, SCENE 1. THE AUBERGE DES ADRETS
        2. THE BOIS DE BOULOGNE

ACT III, SCENE 1. THE CREMERIE
        2. THE AUBERGE DES ADRETS

ACT IV, SCENE 1. THE LUXEMBOURG GARDENS
        2. THE CREMERIE

(All the scenes are laid in Paris)




THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES




ACT I FIRST SCENE


(The upper avenue of cypresses in the Montparnasse Cemetery at
Paris. The background shows mortuary chapels, stone crosses on
which are inscribed "O Crux! Ave Spes Unica!" and the ruins of a
wind-mill covered with ivy.)

(A well-dressed woman in widow's weeds is kneeling and muttering
prayers in front of a grave decorated with flowers.)

(JEANNE is walking back and forth as if expecting somebody.)

(MARION is playing with some withered flowers picked from a
rubbish heap on the ground.)

(The ABBE is reading his breviary while walking along the further
end of the avenue.)

WATCHMAN. [Enters and goes up to JEANNE] Look here, this is no
playground.

JEANNE. [Submissively] I am only waiting for somebody who'll soon
be here--

WATCHMAN. All right, but you're not allowed to pick any flowers.

JEANNE. [To MARION] Drop the flowers, dear.

ABBE. [Comes forward and is saluted by the WATCHMAN] Can't the
child play with the flowers that have been thrown away?

WATCHMAN. The regulations don't permit anybody to touch even the
flowers that have been thrown away, because it's believed they may
spread infection--which I don't know if it's true.

ABBE. [To MARION] In that case we have to obey, of course. What's
your name, my little girl?

MARION. My name is Marion.

ABBE. And who is your father?

(MARION begins to bite one of her fingers and does not answer.)

ABBE. Pardon my question, madame. I had no intention--I was just
talking to keep the little one quiet.

(The WATCHMAN has gone out.)

JEANNE. I understood it, Reverend Father, and I wish you would say
something to quiet me also. I feel very much disturbed after
having waited here two hours.

ABBE. Two hours--for him! How these human beings torture each
other! O Crux! Ave spes unica!

JEANNE. What do they mean, those words you read all around here?

ABBE. They mean: O cross, our only hope!

JEANNE. Is it the only one?

ABBE. The only certain one.

JEANNE. I shall soon believe that you are right, Father.

ABBE. May I ask why?

JEANNE. You have already guessed it. When he lets the woman and
the child wait two hours in a cemetery, then the end is not far
off.

ABBE. And when he has left you, what then?

JEANNE. Then we have to go into the river.

ABBE. Oh, no, no!

JEANNE. Yes, yes!

MARION. Mamma, I want to go home, for I am hungry.

JEANNE. Just a little longer, dear, and we'll go home.

ABBE. Woe unto those who call evil good and good evil.

JEANNE. What is that woman doing at the grave over there?

ABBE. She seems to be talking to the dead.

JEANNE. But you cannot do that?

ABBE. She seems to know how.

JEANNE. This would mean that the end of life is not the end of our
misery?

ABBE. And you don't know it?

JEANNE. Where can I find out?

ABBE. Hm! The next time you feel as if you wanted to learn about
this well-known matter, you can look me up in Our Lady's Chapel at
the Church of St. Germain--Here comes the one you are waiting for,
I guess.

JEANNE. [Embarrassed] No, he is not the one, but I know him.

ABBE. [To MARION] Good-bye, little Marion! May God take care of
you! [Kisses the child and goes out] At St. Germain des Pres.

EMILE. [Enters] Good morning, sister. What are you doing here?

JEANNE. I am waiting for Maurice.

EMILE. Then I guess you'll have a lot of waiting to do, for I saw
him on the boulevard an hour ago, taking breakfast with some
friends. [Kissing the child] Good morning, Marion.

JEANNE. Ladies also?

EMILE. Of course. But that doesn't mean anything. He writes plays,
and his latest one has its first performance tonight. I suppose he
had with him some of the actresses.

JEANNE. Did he recognise you?

EMILE. No, he doesn't know who I am, and it is just as well. I
know my place as a workman, and I don't care for any condescension
from those that are above me.

JEANNE. But if he leaves us without anything to live on?

EMILE. Well, you see, when it gets that far, then I suppose I
shall have to introduce myself. But you don't expect anything of
the kind, do you--seeing that he is fond of you and very much
attached to the child?

JEANNE. I don't know, but I have a feeling that something dreadful
is in store for me.

EMILE. Has he promised to marry you?

JEANNE. No, not promised exactly, but he has held out hopes.

EMILE. Hopes, yes! Do you remember my words at the start: don't
hope for anything, for those above us don't marry downward.

JEANNE. But such things have happened.

EMILE. Yes, they have happened. But, would you feel at home in his
world? I can't believe it, for you wouldn't even understand what
they were talking of. Now and then I take my meals where he is
eating--out in the kitchen is my place, of course--and I don't
make out a word of what they say.

JEANNE. So you take your meals at that place?

EMILE. Yes, in the kitchen.

JEANNE. And think of it, he has never asked me to come with him.

EMILE. Well, that's rather to his credit, and it shows he has some
respect for the mother of his child. The women over there are a
queer lot.

JEANNE. Is that so?

EMILE. But Maurice never pays any attention to the women. There is
something SQUARE about that fellow.

JEANNE. That's what I feel about him, too, but as soon as there is
a woman in it, a man isn't himself any longer.

EMILE. [Smiling] You don't tell me! But listen: are you hard up
for money?

JEANNE. No, nothing of that kind.

EMILE. Well, then the worst hasn't come yet--Look! Over there!
There he comes. And I'll leave you. Good-bye, little girl.

JEANNE. Is he coming? Yes, that's him.

EMILE. Don't make him mad now--with your jealousy, Jeanne! [Goes
out.]

JEANNE. No, I won't.

(MAURICE enters.)

MARION. [Runs up to him and is lifted up into his arms] Papa,
papa!

MAURICE. My little girl! [Greets JEANNE] Can you forgive me,
Jeanne, that I have kept you waiting so long?

JEANNE. Of course I can.

MAURICE. But say it in such a way that I can hear that you are
forgiving me.

JEANNE. Come here and let me whisper it to you.

(MAURICE goes up close to her.)

(JEANNE kisses him on the cheek.)

MAURICE. I didn't hear.

(JEANNE kisses him on the mouth.)

MAURICE. Now I heard! Well--you know, I suppose that this is the
day that will settle my fate? My play is on for tonight, and there
is every chance that it will succeed--or fail.

JEANNE. I'll make sure of success by praying for you.

MAURICE. Thank you. If it doesn't help, it can at least do no
harm--Look over there, down there in the valley, where the haze is
thickest: there lies Paris. Today Paris doesn't know who Maurice
is, but it is going to know within twenty-four hours. The haze,
which has kept me obscured for thirty years, will vanish before my
breath, and I shall become visible, I shall assume definite shape
and begin to be somebody. My enemies--which means all who would
like to do what I have done--will be writhing in pains that shall
be my pleasures, for they will be suffering all that I have
suffered.

JEANNE. Don't talk that way, don't!

MAURICE. But that's the way it is.

JEANNE. Yes, but don't speak of it--And then?

MAURICE. Then we are on firm ground, and then you and Marion will
bear the name I have made famous.

JEANNE. You love me then?

MAURICE. I love both of you, equally much, or perhaps Marion a
little more.

JEANNE. I am glad of it, for you can grow tired of me, but not of
her.

MAURICE. Have you no confidence in my feelings toward you?

JEANNE. I don't know, but I am afraid of something, afraid of
something terrible--

MAURICE. You are tired out and depressed by your long wait, which
once more I ask you to forgive. What have you to be afraid of?

JEANNE. The unexpected: that which you may foresee without having
any particular reason to do so.

MAURICE. But I foresee only success, and I have particular reasons
for doing so: the keen instincts of the management and their
knowledge of the public, not to speak of their personal
acquaintance with the critics. So now you must be in good spirits-
-

JEANNE. I can't, I can't! Do you know, there was an Abbe here a
while ago, who talked so beautifully to us. My faith--which you
haven't destroyed, but just covered up, as when you put chalk on a
window to clean it--I couldn't lay hold on it for that reason, but
this old man just passed his hand over the chalk, and the light
came through, and it was possible again to see that the people
within were at home--To-night I will pray for you at St. Germain.

MAURICE. Now I am getting scared.

JEANNE. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

MAURICE. God? What is that? Who is he?

JEANNE. It was he who gave joy to your youth and strength to your
manhood. And it is he who will carry us through the terrors that
lie ahead of us.

MAURICE. What is lying ahead of us? What do you know? Where have
you learned of this? This thing that I don't know?

JEANNE. I can't tell. I have dreamt nothing, seen nothing, heard
nothing. But during these two dreadful hours I have experienced
such an infinity of pain that I am ready for the worst.

MARION. Now I want to go home, mamma, for I am hungry.

MAURICE. Yes, you'll go home now, my little darling. [Takes her
into his arms.]

MARION. [Shrinking] Oh, you hurt me, papa!

JEANNE. Yes, we must get home for dinner. Good-bye then, Maurice.
And good luck to you!

MAURICE. [To MARION] How did I hurt you? Doesn't my little girl
know that I always want to be nice to her?

MARION. If you are nice, you'll come home with us.

MAURICE. [To JEANNE] When I hear the child talk like that, you
know, I feel as if I ought to do what she says. But then reason
and duty protest--Good-bye, my dear little girl! [He kisses the
child, who puts her arms around his neck.]

JEANNE. When do we meet again?

MAURICE. We'll meet tomorrow, dear. And then we'll never part
again.

JEANNE. [Embraces him] Never, never to part again! [She makes the
sign of the cross on his forehead] May God protect you!

MAURICE. [Moved against his own will] My dear, beloved Jeanne!

(JEANNE and MARION go toward the right; MAURICE toward the left.
Both turn around simultaneously and throw kisses at each other.)

MAURICE. [Comes back] Jeanne, I am ashamed of myself. I am always
forgetting you, and you are the last one to remind me of it. Here
are the tickets for tonight.

JEANNE. Thank you, dear, but--you have to take up your post of
duty alone, and so I have to take up mine--with Marion.

MAURICE. Your wisdom is as great as the goodness of your heart.
Yes, I am sure no other woman would have sacrificed a pleasure to
serve her husband--I must have my hands free tonight, and there is
no place for women and children on the battle-field--and this you
understood!

JEANNE. Don't think too highly of a poor woman like myself, and
then you'll have no illusions to lose. And now you'll see that I
can be as forgetful as you--I have bought you a tie and a pair of
gloves which I thought you might wear for my sake on your day of
honour.

MAURICE. [Kissing her hand] Thank you, dear.

JEANNE. And then, Maurice, don't forget to have your hair fixed,
as you do all the time. I want you to be good-looking, so that
others will like you too.

MAURICE. There is no jealousy in YOU!

JEANNE. Don't mention that word, for evil thoughts spring from it.

MAURICE. Just now I feel as if I could give up this evening's
victory--for I am going to win--

JEANNE. Hush, hush!

MAURICE. And go home with you instead.

JEANNE. But you mustn't do that! Go now: your destiny is waiting
for you.

MAURICE. Good-bye then! And may that happen which must happen!
[Goes out.]

JEANNE. [Alone with MARION] O Crux! Ave spes unica!

Curtain.

SECOND SCENE

(The Cremerie. On the right stands a buffet, on which are placed
an aquarium with goldfish and dishes containing vegetables, fruit,
preserves, etc. In the background is a door leading to the
kitchen, where workmen are taking their meals. At the other end of
the kitchen can be seen a door leading out to a garden. On the
left, in the background, stands a counter on a raised platform,
and back of it are shelves containing all sorts of bottles. On the
right, a long table with a marble top is placed along the wall,
and another table is placed parallel to the first further out on
the floor. Straw-bottomed chairs stand around the tables. The
walls are covered with oil-paintings.)

(MME. CATHERINE is sitting at the counter.)

(MAURICE stands leaning against it. He has his hat on and is
smoking a cigarette.)

MME. CATHERINE. So it's tonight the great event comes off,
Monsieur Maurice?

MAURICE. Yes, tonight.

MME. CATHERINE. Do you feel upset?

MAURICE. Cool as a cucumber.

MME. CATHERINE. Well, I wish you luck anyhow, and you have
deserved it, Monsieur Maurice, after having had to fight against
such difficulties as yours.

MAURICE. Thank you, Madame Catherine. You have been very kind to
me, and without your help I should probably have been down and out
by this time.

MME. CATHERINE. Don't let us talk of that now. I help along where
I see hard work and the right kind of will, but I don't want to be
exploited--Can we trust you to come back here after the play and
let us drink a glass with you?

MAURICE. Yes, you can--of course, you can, as I have already
promised you.

(HENRIETTE enters from the right.)

(MAURICE turns around, raises his hat, and stares at HENRIETTE,
who looks him over carefully.)

HENRIETTE. Monsieur Adolphe is not here yet?

MME. CATHERINE. No, madame. But he'll soon be here now. Won't you
sit down?

HENRIETTE. No, thank you, I'll rather wait for him outside. [Goes
out.]

MAURICE. Who--was--that?

MME. CATHERINE. Why, that's Monsieur Adolphe's friend.

MAURICE. Was--that--her?

MME. CATHERINE. Have you never seen her before?

MAURICE. No, he has been hiding her from me, just as if he was
afraid I might take her away from him.

MME. CATHERINE. Ha-ha!--Well, how did you think she looked?

MAURICE. How she looked? Let me see: I can't tell--I didn't see
her, for it was as if she had rushed straight into my arms at once
and come so close to me that I couldn't make out her features at
all. And she left her impression on the air behind her. I can
still see her standing there. [He goes toward the door and makes a
gesture as if putting his arm around somebody] Whew! [He makes a
gesture as if he had pricked his finger] There are pins in her
waist. She is of the kind that stings!

MME. CATHERINE. Oh, you are crazy, you with your ladies!

MAURICE. Yes, it's craziness, that's what it is. But do you know,
Madame Catherine, I am going before she comes back, or else, or
else--Oh, that woman is horrible!

MME. CATHERINE. Are you afraid?

MAURICE. Yes, I am afraid for myself, and also for some others.

MME. CATHERINE. Well, go then.

MAURICE. She seemed to suck herself out through the door, and in
her wake rose a little whirlwind that dragged me along--Yes, you
may laugh, but can't you see that the palm over there on the
buffet is still shaking? She's the very devil of a woman!

MME. CATHERINE. Oh, get out of here, man, before you lose all your
reason.

MAURICE. I want to go, but I cannot--Do you believe in fate,
Madame Catherine?

MME. CATHERINE. No, I believe in a good God, who protects us
against evil powers if we ask Him in the right way.

MAURICE. So there are evil powers after all! I think I can hear
them in the hallway now.

MME. CATHERINE. Yes, her clothes rustle as when the clerk tears
off a piece of linen for you. Get away now--through the kitchen.

(MAURICE rushes toward the kitchen door, where he bumps into
EMILE.)

EMILE. I beg your pardon. [He retires the way he came.]

ADOLPHE. [Comes in first; after him HENRIETTE] Why, there's
Maurice. How are you? Let me introduce this lady here to my oldest
and best friend. Mademoiselle Henriette--Monsieur Maurice.

MAURICE. [Saluting stiffly] Pleased to meet you.

HENRIETTA. We have seen each other before.

ADOLPHE. Is that so? When, if I may ask?

MAURICE. A moment ago. Right here.

ADOLPHE. O-oh!--But now you must stay and have a chat with us.

MAURICE. [After a glance at MME. CATHERINE] If I only had time.

ADOLPHE. Take the time. And we won't be sitting here very long.

HENRIETTE. I won't interrupt, if you have to talk business.

MAURICE. The only business we have is so bad that we don't want to
talk of it.

HENRIETTE. Then we'll talk of something else. [Takes the hat away
from MAURICE and hangs it up] Now be nice, and let me become
acquainted with the great author.

MME. CATHERINE signals to MAURICE, who doesn't notice her.

ADOLPHE. That's right, Henriette, you take charge of him. [They
seat themselves at one of the tables.]

HENRIETTE. [To MAURICE] You certainly have a good friend in
Adolphe, Monsieur Maurice. He never talks of anything but you, and
in such a way that I feel myself rather thrown in the background.

ADOLPHE. You don't say so! Well, Henriette on her side never
leaves me in peace about you, Maurice. She has read your works,
and she is always wanting to know where you got this and where
that. She has been questioning me about your looks, your age, your
tastes. I have, in a word, had you for breakfast, dinner, and
supper. It has almost seemed as if the three of us were living
together.

MAURICE. [To HENRIETTE] Heavens, why didn't you come over here and
have a look at this wonder of wonders? Then your curiosity could
have been satisfied in a trice.

HENRIETTE. Adolphe didn't want it.

(ADOLPHE looks embarrassed.)

HENRIETTE. Not that he was jealous--

MAURICE. And why should he be, when he knows that my feelings are
tied up elsewhere?

HENRIETTE. Perhaps he didn't trust the stability of your feelings.

MAURICE. I can't understand that, seeing that I am notorious for
my constancy.

ADOLPHE. Well, it wasn't that--

HENRIETTE. [Interrupting him] Perhaps that is because you have not
faced the fiery ordeal--

ADOLPHE. Oh, you don't know--

HENRIETTE. [Interrupting]--for the world has not yet beheld a
faithful man.

MAURICE. Then it's going to behold one.

HENRIETTE. Where?

MAURICE. Here.

(HENRIETTE laughs.)

ADOLPHE. Well, that's going it--

HENRIETTE. [Interrupting him and directing herself continuously to
MAURICE] Do you think I ever trust my dear Adolphe more than a
month at a time?

MAURICE. I have no right to question your lack of confidence, but
I can guarantee that Adolphe is faithful.

HENRIETTE. You don't need to do so--my tongue is just running away
with me, and I have to take back a lot--not only for fear of
feeling less generous than you, but because it is the truth. It is
a bad habit I have of only seeing the ugly side of things, and I
keep it up although I know better. But if I had a chance to be
with you two for some time, then your company would make me good
once more. Pardon me, Adolphe! [She puts her hand against his
cheek.]

ADOLPHE. You are always wrong in your talk and right in your
actions. What you really think--that I don't know.

HENRIETTE. Who does know that kind of thing?

MAURICE. Well, if we had to answer for our thoughts, who could
then clear himself?

HENRIETTE. Do you also have evil thoughts?

MAURICE. Certainly; just as I commit the worst kind of cruelties
in my dreams.

HENRIETTE. Oh, when you are dreaming, of course--Just think of it-
-No, I am ashamed of telling--

MAURICE. Go on, go on!

HENRIETTE. Last night I dreamt that I was coolly dissecting the
muscles on Adolphe's breast--you see, I am a sculptor--and he,
with his usual kindness, made no resistance, but helped me instead
with the worst places, as he knows more anatomy than I.

MAURICE. Was he dead?

HENRIETTE. No, he was living.

MAURICE. But that's horrible! And didn't it make YOU suffer?

HENRIETTE. Not at all, and that astonished me most, for I am
rather sensitive to other people's sufferings. Isn't that so,
Adolphe?

ADOLPHE. That's right. Rather abnormally so, in fact, and not the
least when animals are concerned.

MAURICE. And I, on the other hand, am rather callous toward the
sufferings both of myself and others.

ADOLPHE. Now he is not telling the truth about himself. Or what do
you say, Madame Catherine?

MME. CATHERINE. I don't know of anybody with a softer heart than
Monsieur Maurice. He came near calling in the police because I
didn't give the goldfish fresh water--those over there on the
buffet. Just look at them: it is as if they could hear what I am
saying.

MAURICE. Yes, here we are making ourselves out as white as angels,
and yet we are, taking it all in all, capable of any kind of
polite atrocity the moment glory, gold, or women are concerned--So
you are a sculptor, Mademoiselle Henriette?

HENRIETTE. A bit of one. Enough to do a bust. And to do one of
you--which has long been my cherished dream--I hold myself quite
capable.

MAURICE. Go ahead! That dream at least need not be long in coming
true.

HENRIETTE. But I don't want to fix your features in my mind until
this evening's success is over. Not until then will you have
become what you should be.

MAURICE. How sure you are of victory!

HENRIETTE. Yes, it is written on your face that you are going to
win this battle, and I think you must feel that yourself.

MAURICE. Why do you think so?

HENRIETTE. Because I can feel it. This morning I was ill, you
know, and now I am well.

(ADOLPHE begins to look depressed.)

MAURICE. [Embarrassed] Listen, I have a single ticket left--only
one. I place it at your disposal, Adolphe.

ADOLPHE. Thank you, but I surrender it to Henriette.

HENRIETTE. But that wouldn't do?

ADOLPHE. Why not? And I never go to the theatre anyhow, as I
cannot stand the heat.

HENRIETTE. But you will come and take us home at least after the
show is over.

ADOLPHE. If you insist on it. Otherwise Maurice has to come back
here, where we shall all be waiting for him.

MAURICE. You can just as well take the trouble of meeting us. In
fact, I ask, I beg you to do so--And if you don't want to wait
outside the theatre, you can meet us at the Auberge des Adrets--
That's settled then, isn't it?

ADOLPHE. Wait a little. You have a way of settling things to suit
yourself, before other people have a chance to consider them.

MAURICE. What is there to consider--whether you are to see your
lady home or not?

ADOLPHE. You never know what may be involved in a simple act like
that, but I have a sort of premonition.

HENRIETTE. Hush, hush, hush! Don't talk of spooks while the sun is
shining. Let him come or not, as it pleases him. We can always
find our way back here.

ADOLPHE. [Rising] Well, now I have to leave you--model, you know.
Good-bye, both of you. And good luck to you, Maurice. To-morrow
you will be out on the right side. Good-bye, Henriette.

HENRIETTE. Do you really have to go?

ADOLPHE. I must.

MAURICE. Good-bye then. We'll meet later.

(ADOLPHE goes out, saluting MME. CATHERINE in passing.)

HENRIETTE. Think of it, that we should meet at last!

MAURICE. Do you find anything remarkable in that?

HENRIETTE. It looks as if it had to happen, for Adolphe has done
his best to prevent it.

MAURICE. Has he?

HENRIETTE. Oh, you must have noticed it.

MAURICE. I have noticed it, but why should you mention it?

HENRIETTE. I had to.

MAURICE. No, and I don't have to tell you that I wanted to run
away through the kitchen in order to avoid meeting you and was
stopped by a guest who closed the door in front of me.

HENRIETTE. Why do you tell me about it now?

MAURICE. I don't know.

(MME. CATHERINE upsets a number of glasses and bottles.)

MAURICE. That's all right, Madame Catherine. There's nothing to be
afraid of.

HENRIETTE. Was that meant as a signal or a warning?

MAURICE. Probably both.

HENRIETTE. Do they take me for a locomotive that has to have
flagmen ahead of it?

MAURICE. And switchmen! The danger is always greatest at the
switches.

HENRIETTE. How nasty you can be!

MME. CATHERINE. Monsieur Maurice isn't nasty at all. So far nobody
has been kinder than he to those that love him and trust in him.

MAURICE. Sh, sh, sh!

HENRIETTE. [To MAURICE] The old lady is rather impertinent.

MAURICE. We can walk over to the boulevard, if you care to do so.

HENRIETTE. With pleasure. This is not the place for me. I can just
feel their hatred clawing at me. [Goes out.]

MAURICE. [Starts after her] Good-bye, Madame Catherine.

MME. CATHERINE. A moment! May I speak a word to you, Monsieur
Maurice?

MAURICE. [Stops unwillingly] What is it?

MME. CATHERINE. Don't do it! Don't do it!

MAURICE. What?

MME. CATHERINE. Don't do it!

MAURICE. Don't be scared. This lady is not my kind, but she
interests me. Or hardly that even.

MME. CATHERINE, Don't trust yourself!

MAURICE. Yes, I do trust myself. Good-bye. [Goes out.]

(Curtain.)




ACT II

FIRST SCENE


(The Auberge des Adrets: a cafe in sixteenth century style, with a
suggestion of stage effect. Tables and easy-chairs are scattered
in corners and nooks. The walls are decorated with armour and
weapons. Along the ledge of the wainscoting stand glasses and
jugs.)

(MAURICE and HENRIETTE are in evening dress and sit facing each
other at a table on which stands a bottle of champagne and three
filled glasses. The third glass is placed at that side of the
table which is nearest the background, and there an easy-chair is
kept ready for the still missing "third man.")

MAURICE. [Puts his watch in front of himself on the table] If he
doesn't get here within the next five minutes, he isn't coming at
all. And suppose in the meantime we drink with his ghost. [Touches
the third glass with the rim of his own.]

HENRIETTE. [Doing the same] Here's to you, Adolphe!

MAURICE. He won't come.

HENRIETTE. He will come.

MAURICE. He won't.

HENRIETTE. He will.

MAURICE. What an evening! What a wonderful day! I can hardly grasp
that a new life has begun. Think only: the manager believes that I
may count on no less than one hundred thousand francs. I'll spend
twenty thousand on a villa outside the city. That leaves me eighty
thousand. I won't be able to take it all in until to-morrow, for I
am tired, tired, tired. [Sinks back into the chair] Have you ever
felt really happy?

HENRIETTE. Never. How does it feel?

MAURICE. I don't quite know how to put it. I cannot express it,
but I seem chiefly to be thinking of the chagrin of my enemies. It
isn't nice, but that's the way it is.

HENRIETTE. Is it happiness to be thinking of one's enemies?

MAURICE. Why, the victor has to count his killed and wounded
enemies in order to gauge the extent of his victory.

HENRIETTE. Are you as bloodthirsty as all that?

MAURICE. Perhaps not. But when you have felt the pressure of other
people's heels on your chest for years, it must be pleasant to
shake off the enemy and draw a full breath at last.

HENRIETTE. Don't you find it strange that yon are sitting here,
alone with me, an insignificant girl practically unknown to you--
and on an evening like this, when you ought to have a craving to
show yourself like a triumphant hero to all the people, on the
boulevards, in the big restaurants?

MAURICE. Of course, it's rather funny, but it feels good to be
here, and your company is all I care for.

HENRIETTE. You don't look very hilarious.

MAURICE. No, I feel rather sad, and I should like to weep a
little.

HENRIETTE. What is the meaning of that?

MAURICE. It is fortune conscious of its own nothingness and
waiting for misfortune to appear.

HENRIETTE. Oh my, how sad! What is it you are missing anyhow?

MAURICE. I miss the only thing that gives value to life.

HENRIETTE. So you love her no longer then?

MAURICE. Not in the way I understand love. Do you think she has
read my play, or that she wants to see it? Oh, she is so good, so
self-sacrificing and considerate, but to go out with me for a
night's fun she would regard as sinful. Once I treated her to
champagne, you know, and instead of feeling happy over it, she
picked up the wine list to see what it cost. And when she read the
price, she wept--wept because Marion was in need of new stockings.
It is beautiful, of course: it is touching, if you please. But I
can get no pleasure out of it. And I do want a little pleasure
before life runs out. So far I have had nothing but privation, but
now, now--life is beginning for me. [The clock strikes twelve] Now
begins a new day, a new era!

HENRIETTE. Adolphe is not coming.

MAURICE. No, now he won't, come. And now it is too late to go back
to the Cremerie.

HENRIETTE. But they are waiting for you.

MAURICE. Let them wait. They have made me promise to come, and I
take back my promise. Are you longing to go there?

HENRIETTE. On the contrary!

MAURICE. Will you keep me company then?

HENRIETTE. With pleasure, if you care to have me.

MAURICE. Otherwise I shouldn't be asking you. It is strange, you
know, that the victor's wreath seems worthless if you can't place
it at the feet of some woman--that everything seems worthless when
you have not a woman.

HENRIETTE. You don't need to be without a woman--you?

MAURICE. Well, that's the question.

HENRIETTE. Don't you know that a man is irresistible in his hour
of success and fame?

MAURICE. No, I don't know, for I have had no experience of it.

HENRIETTE. You are a queer sort! At this moment, when you are the
most envied man in Paris, you sit here and brood. Perhaps your
conscience is troubling you because you have neglected that
invitation to drink chicory coffee with the old lady over at the
milk shop?

MAURICE. Yes, my conscience is troubling me on that score, and
even here I am aware of their resentment, their hurt feelings,
their well-grounded anger. My comrades in distress had the right
to demand my presence this evening. The good Madame Catherine had
a privileged claim on my success, from which a glimmer of hope was
to spread over the poor fellows who have not yet succeeded. And I
have robbed them of their faith in me. I can hear the vows they
have been making: "Maurice will come, for he is a good fellow; he
doesn't despise us, and he never fails to keep his word." Now I
have made them forswear themselves.

(While he is still speaking, somebody in the next room has begun
to play the finale of Beethoven's Sonata in D-minor (Op. 31, No.
3). The allegretto is first played piano, then more forte, and at
last passionately, violently, with complete abandon.)

MAURICE. Who can be playing at this time of the night?

HENRIETTE. Probably some nightbirds of the same kind as we. But
listen! Your presentation of the case is not correct. Remember
that Adolphe promised to meet us here. We waited for him, and he
failed to keep his promise. So that you are not to blame--

MAURICE. You think so? While you are speaking, I believe you, but
when you stop, my conscience begins again. What have you in that
package?

HENRIETTE. Oh, it is only a laurel wreath that I meant to send up
to the stage, but I had no chance to do so. Let me give it to you
now--it is said to have a cooling effect on burning foreheads.
[She rises and crowns him with the wreath; then she kisses him on
the forehead] Hail to the victor!

MAURICE. Don't!

HENRIETTE. [Kneeling] Hail to the King!

MAURICE. [Rising] No, now you scare me.

HENRIETTE. You timid man! You of little faith who are afraid of
fortune even! Who robbed you of your self-assurance and turned you
into a dwarf?

MAURICE. A dwarf? Yes, you are right. I am not working up in the
clouds, like a giant, with crashing and roaring, but I forge my
weapons deep down in the silent heart of the mountain. You think
that my modesty shrinks before the victor's wreath. On the
contrary, I despise it: it is not enough for me. You think I am
afraid of that ghost with its jealous green eyes which sits over
there and keeps watch on my feelings--the strength of which you
don't suspect. Away, ghost! [He brushes the third, untouched glass
off the table] Away with you, you superfluous third person--you
absent one who has lost your rights, if you ever had any. You
stayed away from the field of battle because you knew yourself
already beaten. As I crush this glass under my foot, so I will
crush the image of yourself which you have reared in a temple no
longer yours.

HENRIETTE. Good! That's the way! Well spoken, my hero!

MAURICE. Now I have sacrificed my best friend, my most faithful
helper, on your altar, Astarte! Are you satisfied?

HENRIETTE. Astarte is a pretty name, and I'll keep it--I think you
love me, Maurice.

MAURICE. Of course I do--Woman of evil omen, you who stir up man's
courage with your scent of blood, whence do you come and where do
you lead me? I loved you before I saw you, for I trembled when I
heard them speak of you. And when I saw you in the doorway, your
soul poured itself into mine. And when you left, I could still
feel your presence in my arms. I wanted to flee from you, but
something held me back, and this evening we have been driven
together as the prey is driven into the hunter's net. Whose is the
fault? Your friend's, who pandered for us!

HENRIETTE. Fault or no fault: what does it matter, and what does
it mean?--Adolphe has been at fault in not bringing us together
before. He is guilty of having stolen from us two weeks of bliss,
to which he had no right himself. I am jealous of him on your
behalf. I hate him because he has cheated you out of your
mistress. I should like to blot him from the host of the living,
and his memory with him--wipe him out of the past even, make him
unmade, unborn!

MAURICE. Well, we'll bury him beneath our own memories. We'll
cover him with leaves and branches far out in the wild woods, and
then we'll pile stone on top of the mound so that he will never
look up again. [Raising his glass] Our fate is sealed. Woe unto
us! What will come next?

HENRIETTE. Next comes the new era--What have you in that package?

MAURICE. I cannot remember.

HENRIETTE. [Opens the package and takes out a tie and a pair of
gloves] That tie is a fright! It must have cost at least fifty
centimes.

MAURICE. [Snatching the things away from her] Don't you touch
them!

HENRIETTE. They are from her?

MAURICE. Yes, they are.

HENRIETTE. Give them to me.

MAURICE. No, she's better than we, better than everybody else.

HENRIETTE. I don't believe it. She is simply stupider and
stingier. One who weeps because you order champagne--

MAURICE. When the child was without stockings. Yes, she is a good
woman.

HENRIETTE. Philistine! You'll never be an artist. But I am an
artist, and I'll make a bust of you with a shopkeeper's cap
instead of the laurel wreath--Her name is Jeanne?

MAURICE. How do you know?

HENRIETTE. Why, that's the name of all housekeepers.

MAURICE. Henriette!

(HENRIETTE takes the tie and the gloves and throws them into the
fireplace.)

MAURICE. [Weakly] Astarte, now you demand the sacrifice of women.
You shall have them, but if you ask for innocent children, too,
then I'll send you packing.

HENRIETTE. Can you tell me what it is that binds you to me?

MAURICE. If I only knew, I should be able to tear myself away. But
I believe it must be those qualities which you have and I lack. I
believe that the evil within you draws me with the irresistible
lure of novelty.

HENRIETTE. Have you ever committed a crime?

MAURICE. No real one. Have you?

HENRIETTE. Yes.

MAURICE. Well, how did you find it?

HENRIETTE. It was greater than to perform a good deed, for by that
we are placed on equality with others; it was greater than to
perform some act of heroism, for by that we are raised above
others and rewarded. That crime placed me outside and beyond life,
society, and my fellow-beings. Since then I am living only a
partial life, a sort of dream life, and that's why reality never
gets a hold on me.

MAURICE. What was it you did?

HENRIETTE. I won't tell, for then you would get scared again.

MAURICE. Can you never be found out?

HENRIETTE. Never. But that does not prevent me from seeing,
frequently, the five stones at the Place de Roquette, where the
scaffold used to stand; and for this reason I never dare to open a
pack of cards, as I always turn up the five-spot of diamonds.

MAURICE. Was it that kind of a crime?

HENRIETTE. Yes, it was that kind.

MAURICE. Of course, it's horrible, but it is interesting. Have you
no conscience?

HENRIETTE. None, but I should be grateful if you would talk of
something else.

MAURICE. Suppose we talk of--love?

HENRIETTE. Of that you don't talk until it is over.

MAURICE. Have you been in love with Adolphe?

HENRIETTE. I don't know. The goodness of his nature drew me like
some beautiful, all but vanished memory of childhood. Yet there
was much about his person that offended my eye, so that I had to
spend a long time retouching, altering, adding, subtracting,
before I could make a presentable figure of him. When he talked, I
could notice that he had learned from you, and the lesson was
often badly digested and awkwardly applied. You can imagine then
how miserable the copy must appear now, when I am permitted to
study the original. That's why he was afraid of having us two
meet; and when it did happen, he understood at once that his time
was up.

MAURICE. Poor Adolphe!

HENRIETTE. I feel sorry for him, too, as I know he must be
suffering beyond all bounds--

MAURICE. Sh! Somebody is coming.

HENRIETTE. I wonder if it could be he?

MAURICE. That would be unbearable.

HENRIETTE. No, it isn't he, but if it had been, how do you think
the situation would have shaped itself?

MAURICE. At first he would have been a little sore at you because
he had made a mistake in regard to the meeting-place--and tried to
find us in several other cafes--but his soreness would have
changed into pleasure at finding us--and seeing that we had not
deceived him. And in the joy at having wronged us by his
suspicions, he would love both of us. And so it would make him
happy to notice that we had become such good friends. It had
always been his dream--hm! he is making the speech now--his dream
that the three of us should form a triumvirate that could set the
world a great example of friendship asking for nothing--"Yes, I
trust you, Maurice, partly because you are my friend, and partly
because your feelings are tied up elsewhere."

HENRIETTE. Bravo! You must have been in a similar situation
before, or you couldn't give such a lifelike picture of it. Do you
know that Adolphe is just that kind of a third person who cannot
enjoy his mistress without having his friend along?

MAURICE. That's why I had to be called in to entertain you--Hush!
There is somebody outside--It must be he.

HENRIETTE. No, don't you know these are the hours when ghosts
walk, and then you can see so many things, and hear them also. To
keep awake at night, when you ought to be sleeping, has for me the
same charm as a crime: it is to place oneself above and beyond the
laws of nature.

MAURICE. But the punishment is fearful--I am shivering or
quivering, with cold or with fear.

HENRIETTE. [Wraps her opera cloak about him] Put this on. It will
make you warm.

MAURICE. That's nice. It is as if I were inside of your skin, as
if my body had been melted up by lack of sleep and were being
remoulded in your shape. I can feel the moulding process going on.
But I am also growing a new soul, new thoughts, and here, where
your bosom has left an impression, I can feel my own beginning to
bulge.

(During this entire scene, the pianist in the next room has been
practicing the Sonata in D-minor, sometimes pianissimo, sometimes
wildly fortissimo; now and then he has kept silent for a little
while, and at other times nothing has been heard but a part of the
finale: bars 96 to 107.)

MAURICE. What a monster, to sit there all night practicing on the
piano. It gives me a sick feeling. Do you know what I propose? Let
us drive out to the Bois de Boulogne and take breakfast in the
Pavilion, and see the sun rise over the lakes.

HENRIETTE. Bully!

MAURICE. But first of all I must arrange to have my mail and the
morning papers sent out by messenger to the Pavilion. Tell me,
Henriette: shall we invite Adolphe?

HENRIETTE. Oh, that's going too far! But why not? The ass can also
be harnessed to the triumphal chariot. Let him come. [They get
up.]

MAURICE. [Taking off the cloak] Then I'll ring.

HENRIETTE. Wait a moment! [Throws herself into his arms.]

(Curtain.)




SECOND SCENE


(A large, splendidly furnished restaurant room in the Bois de
Boulogne. It is richly carpeted and full of mirrors, easy-chairs,
and divans. There are glass doors in the background, and beside
them windows overlooking the lakes. In the foreground a table is
spread, with flowers in the centre, bowls full of fruit, wine in
decanters, oysters on platters, many different kinds of wine
glasses, and two lighted candelabra. On the right there is a round
table full of newspapers and telegrams.)

(MAURICE and HENRIETTE are sitting opposite each other at this
small table.)

(The sun is just rising outside.)

MAURICE. There is no longer any doubt about it. The newspapers
tell me it is so, and these telegrams congratulate me on my
success. This is the beginning of a new life, and my fate is
wedded to yours by this night, when you were the only one to share
my hopes and my triumph. From your hand I received the laurel, and
it seems to me as if everything had come from you.

HENRIETTE. What a wonderful night! Have we been dreaming, or is
this something we have really lived through?

MAURICE. [Rising] And what a morning after such a night! I feel as
if it were the world's first day that is now being illumined by
the rising sun. Only this minute was the earth created and
stripped of those white films that are now floating off into
space. There lies the Garden of Eden in the rosy light of dawn,
and here is the first human couple--Do you know, I am so happy I
could cry at the thought that all mankind is not equally happy--Do
you hear that distant murmur as of ocean waves beating against a
rocky shore, as of winds sweeping through a forest? Do you know
what it is? It is Paris whispering my name. Do you see the columns
of smoke that rise skyward in thousands and tens of thousands?
They are the fires burning on my altars, and if that be not so,
then it must become so, for I will it. At this moment all the
telegraph instruments of Europe are clicking out my name. The
Oriental Express is carrying the newspapers to the Far East,
toward the rising sun; and the ocean steamers are carrying them to
the utmost West. The earth is mine, and for that reason it is
beautiful. Now I should like to have wings for us two, so that we
might rise from here and fly far, far away, before anybody can
soil my happiness, before envy has a chance to wake me out of my
dream--for it is probably a dream!

HENRIETTE. [Holding out her hand to him] Here you can feel that
you are not dreaming.

MAURICE. It is not a dream, but it has been one. As a poor young
man, you know, when I was walking in the woods down there, and
looked up to this Pavilion, it looked to me like a fairy castle,
and always my thoughts carried me up to this room, with the
balcony outside and the heavy curtains, as to a place of supreme
bliss. To be sitting here in company with a beloved woman and see
the sun rise while the candles were still burning in the
candelabra: that was the most audacious dream of my youth. Now it
has come true, and now I have no more to ask of life--Do you want
to die now, together with me?

HENRIETTE. No, you fool! Now I want to begin living.

MAURICE. [Rising] To live: that is to suffer! Now comes reality. I
can hear his steps on the stairs. He is panting with alarm, and
his heart is beating with dread of having lost what it holds most
precious. Can you believe me if I tell you that Adolphe is under
this roof? Within a minute he will be standing in the middle of
this floor.

HENRIETTE. [Alarmed] It was a stupid trick to ask him to come
here, and I am already regretting it--Well, we shall see anyhow if
your forecast of the situation proves correct.

MAURICE. Oh, it is easy to be mistaken about a person's feelings.

(The HEAD WAITER enters with a card.)

MAURICE. Ask the gentleman to step in. [To HENRIETTE] I am afraid
we'll regret this.

HENRIETTE. Too late to think of that now--Hush!

(ADOLPHE enters, pale and hollow-eyed.)

MAURICE. [Trying to speak unconcernedly] There you are! What
became of you last night?

ADOLPHE. I looked for you at the Hotel des Arrets and waited a
whole hour.

MAURICE. So you went to the wrong place. We were waiting several
hours for you at the Auberge des Adrets, and we are still waiting
for you, as you see.

ADOLPHE. [Relieved] Thank heaven!

HENRIETTE. Good morning, Adolphe. You are always expecting the
worst and worrying yourself needlessly. I suppose you imagined
that we wanted to avoid your company. And though you see that we
sent for you, you are still thinking yourself superfluous.

ADOLPHE. Pardon me: I was wrong, but the night was dreadful.

(They sit down. Embarrassed silence follows.)

HENRIETTE. [To ADOLPHE] Well, are you not going to congratulate
Maurice on his great success?

ADOLPHE. Oh, yes! Your success is the real thing, and envy itself
cannot deny it. Everything is giving way before you, and even I
have a sense of my own smallness in your presence.

MAURICE. Nonsense!--Henriette, are you not going to offer Adolphe
a glass of wine?

ADOLPHE. Thank you, not for me--nothing at all!

HENRIETTE. [To ADOLPHE] What's the matter with you? Are you ill?

ADOLPHE. Not yet, but--

HENRIETTE. Your eyes--

ADOLPHE. What of them?

MAURICE. What happened at the Cremerie last night? I suppose they
are angry with me?

ADOLPHE. Nobody is angry with you, but your absence caused a
depression which it hurt me to watch. But nobody was angry with
you, believe me. Your friends understood, and they regarded your
failure to come with sympathetic forbearance. Madame Catherine
herself defended you and proposed your health. We all rejoiced in
your success as if it had been our own.

HENRIETTE. Well, those are nice people! What good friends you
have, Maurice.

MAURICE. Yes, better than I deserve.

ADOLPHE. Nobody has better friends than he deserves, and you are a
man greatly blessed in his friends--Can't you feel how the air is
softened to-day by all the kind thoughts and wishes that stream
toward you from a thousand breasts?

(MAURICE rises in order to hide his emotion.)

ADOLPHE. From a thousand breasts that you have rid of the
nightmare that had been crushing them during a lifetime. Humanity
had been slandered--and you have exonerated it: that's why men
feel grateful toward you. To-day they are once more holding their
heads high and saying: You see, we are a little better than our
reputation after all. And that thought makes them better.

(HENRIETTE tries to hide her emotion.)

ADOLPHE. Am I in the way? Just let me warm myself a little in your
sunshine, Maurice, and then I'll go.

MAURICE. Why should you go when you have only just arrived?

ADOLPHE. Why? Because I have seen what I need not have seen;
because I know now that my hour is past. [Pause] That you sent for
me, I take as an expression of thoughtfulness, a notice of what
has happened, a frankness that hurts less than deceit. You hear
that I think well of my fellow-beings, and this I have learned
from you, Maurice. [Pause] But, my friend, a few moments ago I
passed through the Church of St. Germain, and there I saw a woman
and a child. I am not wishing that you had seen them, for what has
happened cannot be altered, but if you gave a thought or a word to
them before you set them adrift on the waters of the great city,
then you could enjoy your happiness undisturbed. And now I bid you
good-by.

HENRIETTE. Why must you go?

ADOLPHE. And you ask that? Do you want me to tell you?

HENRIETTE. No, I don't.

ADOLPHE. Good-by then! [Goes out.]

MAURICE. The Fall: and lo! "they knew that they were naked."

HENRIETTE. What a difference between this scene and the one we
imagined! He is better than we.

MAURICE. It seems to me now as if all the rest were better than
we.

HENRIETTE. Do you see that the sun has vanished behind clouds, and
that the woods have lost their rose colour?

MAURICE. Yes, I see, and the blue lake has turned black. Let us
flee to some place where the sky is always blue and the trees are
always green.

HENRIETTE. Yes, let us--but without any farewells.

MAURICE. No, with farewells.

HENRIETTE. We were to fly. You spoke of wings--and your feet are
of lead. I am not jealous, but if you go to say farewell and get
two pairs of arms around your neck--then you can't tear yourself
away.

MAURICE. Perhaps you are right, but only one pair of little arms
is needed to hold me fast.

HENRIETTE. It is the child that holds you then, and not the woman?

MAURICE. It is the child.

HENRIETTE. The child! Another woman's child! And for the sake of
it I am to suffer. Why must that child block the way where I want
to pass, and must pass?

MAURICE. Yes, why? It would be better if it had never existed.

HENRIETTE. [Walks excitedly back and forth] Indeed! But now it
does exist. Like a rock on the road, a rock set firmly in the
ground, immovable, so that it upsets the carriage.

MAURICE. The triumphal chariot!--The ass is driven to death, but
the rock remains. Curse it! [Pause.]

HENRIETTE. There is nothing to do.

MAURICE. Yes, we must get married, and then our child will make us
forget the other one.

HENRIETTE. This will kill this!

MAURICE. Kill! What kind of word is that?

HENRIETTE. [Changing tone] Your child will kill our love.

MAURICE. No, girl, our love will kill whatever stands in its way,
but it will not be killed.

HENRIETTE. [Opens a deck of cards lying on the mantlepiece] Look
at it! Five-spot of diamonds--the scaffold! Can it be possible
that our fates are determined in advance? That our thoughts are
guided as if through pipes to the spot for which they are bound,
without chance for us to stop them? But I don't want it, I don't
want it!--Do you realise that I must go to the scaffold if my
crime should be discovered?

MAURICE. Tell me about your crime. Now is the time for it.

HENRIETTE. No, I should regret it afterward, and you would despise
me--no, no, no!--Have you ever heard that a person could be hated
to death? Well, my father incurred the hatred of my mother and my
sisters, and he melted away like wax before a fire. Ugh! Let us
talk of something else. And, above all, let us get away. The air
is poisoned here. To-morrow your laurels will be withered, the
triumph will be forgotten, and in a week another triumphant hero
will hold the public attention. Away from here, to work for new
victories! But first of all, Maurice, you must embrace your child
and provide for its immediate future. You don't have to see the
mother at all.

MAURICE. Thank you! Your good heart does you honour, and I love
you doubly when you show the kindness you generally hide.

HENRIETTE. And then you go to the Cremerie and say good-by to the
old lady and your friends. Leave no unsettled business behind to
make your mind heavy on our trip.

MAURICE. I'll clear up everything, and to-night we meet at the
railroad station.

HENRIETTE. Agreed! And then: away from here--away toward the sea
and the sun!

(Curtain.)




ACT III

FIRST SCENE


(In the Cremerie. The gas is lit. MME. CATHERINE is seated at the
counter, ADOLPHE at a table.)

MME. CATHERINE. Such is life, Monseiur Adolphe. But you young ones
are always demanding too much, and then you come here and blubber
over it afterward.

ADOLPHE. No, it isn't that. I reproach nobody, and I am as fond as
ever of both of them. But there is one thing that makes me sick at
heart. You see, I thought more of Maurice than of anybody else; so
much that I wouldn't have grudged him anything that could give him
pleasure--but now I have lost him, and it hurts me worse than the
loss of her. I have lost both of them, and so my loneliness is
made doubly painful. And then there is still something else which
I have not yet been able to clear up.

MME. CATHERINE. Don't brood so much. Work and divert yourself.
Now, for instance, do you ever go to church?

ADOLPHE. What should I do there?

MME. CATHERINE. Oh, there's so much to look at, and then there is
the music. There is nothing commonplace about it, at least.

ADOLPHE. Perhaps not. But I don't belong to that fold, I guess,
for it never stirs me to any devotion. And then, Madame Catherine,
faith is a gift, they tell me, and I haven't got it yet.

MME. CATHERINE. Well, wait till you get it--But what is this I
heard a while ago? Is it true that you have sold a picture in
London for a high price, and that you have got a medal?

ADOLPHE. Yes, it's true.

MME. CATHERINE. Merciful heavens!--and not a word do you say about
it?

ADOLPHE. I am afraid of fortune, and besides it seems almost
worthless to me at this moment. I am afraid of it as of a spectre:
it brings disaster to speak of having seen it.

MME. CATHERINE. You're a queer fellow, and that's what you have
always been.

ADOLPHE. Not queer at all, but I have seen so much misfortune come
in the wake of fortune, and I have seen how adversity brings out
true friends, while none but false ones appear in the hour of
success--You asked me if I ever went to church, and I answered
evasively. This morning I stepped into the Church of St. Germain
without really knowing why I did so. It seemed as if I were
looking for somebody in there--somebody to whom I could silently
offer my gratitude. But I found nobody. Then I dropped a gold coin
in the poor-box. It was all I could get out of my church-going,
and that was rather commonplace, I should say.

MME. CATHERINE. It was always something; and then it was fine to
think of the poor after having heard good news.

ADOLPHE. It was neither fine nor anything else: it was something I
did because I couldn't help myself. But something more occurred
while I was in the church. I saw Maurice's girl friend, Jeanne,
and her child. Struck down, crushed by his triumphal chariot, they
seemed aware of the full extent of their misfortune.

MME. CATHERINE. Well, children, I don't know in what kind of shape
you keep your consciences. But how a decent fellow, a careful and
considerate man like Monsieur Maurice, can all of a sudden desert
a woman and her child, that is something I cannot explain.

ADOLPHE. Nor can I explain it, and he doesn't seem to understand
it himself. I met them this morning, and everything appeared quite
natural to them, quite proper, as if they couldn't imagine
anything else. It was as if they had been enjoying the
satisfaction of a good deed or the fulfilment of a sacred duty.
There are things, Madame Catherine, that we cannot explain, and
for this reason it is not for us to judge. And besides, you saw
how it happened. Maurice felt the danger in the air. I foresaw it
and tried to prevent their meeting. Maurice wanted to run away
from it, but nothing helped. Why, it was as if a plot had been
laid by some invisible power, and as if they had been driven by
guile into each other's arms. Of course, I am disqualified in this
case, but I wouldn't hesitate to pronounce a verdict of "not
guilty."

MME. CATHERINE. Well, now, to be able to forgive as you do, that's
what I call religion,

ADOLPHE. Heavens, could it be that I am religious without knowing
it.

MME. CATHERINE. But then, to LET oneself be driven or tempted into
evil, as Monsieur Maurice has done, means weakness or bad
character. And if you feel your strength failing you, then you ask
for help, and then you get it. But he was too conceited to do
that--Who is this coming? The Abbe, I think.

ADOLPHE. What does he want here?

ABBE. [Enters] Good evening, madame. Good evening, Monsieur.

MME. CATHERINE. Can I be of any service?

ABBE. Has Monsieur Maurice, the author, been here to-day?

MME. CATHERINE. Not to-day. His play has just been put on, and
that is probably keeping him busy.

ABBE. I have--sad news to bring him. Sad in several respects.

MME. CATHERINE. May I ask of what kind?

ABBE. Yes, it's no secret. The daughter he had with that girl,
Jeanne, is dead.

MME. CATHERINE. Dead!

ADOLPHE. Marion dead!

ABBE. Yes, she died suddenly this morning without any previous
illness.

MME. CATHERINE. O Lord, who can tell Thy ways!

ABBE. The mother's grief makes it necessary that Monsieur Maurice
look after her, so we must try to find him. But first a question
in confidence: do you know whether Monsieur Maurice was fond of
the child, or was indifferent to it?

MME. CATHERINE. If he was fond of Marion? Why, all of us know how
he loved her.

ADOLPHE. There's no doubt about that.

ABBE. I am glad to hear it, and it settles the matter so far as I
am concerned.

MME. CATHERINE. Has there been any doubt about it?

ABBE. Yes, unfortunately. It has even been rumoured in the
neighbourhood that he had abandoned the child and its mother in
order to go away with a strange woman. In a few hours this rumour
has grown into definite accusations, and at the same time the
feeling against him has risen to such a point that his life is
threatened and he is being called a murderer.

MME. CATHERINE. Good God, what is THIS? What does it mean?

ABBE. Now I'll tell you my opinion--I am convinced that the man is
innocent on this score, and the mother feels as certain about it
as I do. But appearances are against Monsieur Maurice, and I think
he will find it rather hard to clear himself when the police come
to question him.

ADOLPHE. Have the police got hold of the matter?

ABBE. Yea, the police have had to step in to protect him against
all those ugly rumours and the rage of the people. Probably the
Commissaire will be here soon.

MME. CATHERINE. [To ADOLPHE] There you see what happens when a man
cannot tell the difference between good and evil, and when he
trifles with vice. God will punish!

ADOLPHE. Then he is more merciless than man.

ABBE. What do you know about that?

ADOLPHE. Not very much, but I keep an eye on what happens--

ABBE. And you understand it also?

ADOLPHE. Not yet perhaps.

ABBE. Let us look more closely at the matter--Oh, here comes the
Commissaire.

COMMISSAIRE. [Enters] Gentlemen--Madame Catherine--I have to
trouble you for a moment with a few questions concerning Monsieur
Maurice. As you have probably heard, he has become the object of a
hideous rumour, which, by the by, I don't believe in.

MME. CATHERINE. None of us believes in it either.

COMMISSAIRE. That strengthens my own opinion, but for his own sake
I must give him a chance to defend himself.

ABBE. That's right, and I guess he will find justice, although it
may come hard.

COMMISSAIRE. Appearances are very much against him, but I have
seen guiltless people reach the scaffold before their innocence
was discovered. Let me tell you what there is against him. The
little girl, Marion, being left alone by her mother, was secretly
visited by the father, who seems to have made sure of the time
when the child was to be found alone. Fifteen minutes after his
visit the mother returned home and found the child dead. All this
makes the position of the accused man very unpleasant--The post-
mortem examination brought out no signs of violence or of poison,
but the physicians admit the existence of new poisons that leave
no traces behind them. To me all this is mere coincidence of the
kind I frequently come across. But here's something that looks
worse. Last night Monsieur Maurice was seen at the Auberge des
Adrets in company with a strange lady. According to the waiter,
they were talking about crimes. The Place de Roquette and the
scaffold were both mentioned. A queer topic of conversation for a
pair of lovers of good breeding and good social position! But even
this may be passed over, as we know by experience that people who
have been drinking and losing a lot of sleep seem inclined to dig
up all the worst that lies at the bottom of their souls. Far more
serious is the evidence given by the head waiter as to their
champagne breakfast in the Bois de Boulogne this morning. He says
that he heard them wish the life out of a child. The man is said
to have remarked that, "It would be better if it had never
existed." To which the woman replied: "Indeed! But now it does
exist." And as they went on talking, these words occurred: "This
will kill this!" And the answer was: "Kill! What kind of word is
that?" And also: "The five-spot of diamonds, the scaffold, the
Place de Roquette." All this, you see, will be hard to get out of,
and so will the foreign journey planned for this evening. These
are serious matters.

ADOLPHE. He is lost!

MME. CATHERINE. That's a dreadful story. One doesn't know what to
believe.

ABBE. This is not the work of man. God have mercy on him!

ADOLPHE. He is in the net, and he will never get out of it.

MME. CATHERINE. He had no business to get in.

ADOLPHE. Do you begin to suspect him also, Madame Catherine?

MME. CATHERINE. Yes and no. I have got beyond having an opinion in
this matter. Have you not seen angels turn into devils just as you
turn your hand, and then become angels again?

COMMISSAIRE. It certainly does look queer. However, we'll have to
wait and hear what explanations he can give. No one will be judged
unheard. Good evening, gentlemen. Good evening, Madame Catherine.
[Goes out.]

ABBE. This is not the work of man.

ADOLPHE. No, it looks as if demons had been at work for the
undoing of man.

ABBE. It is either a punishment for secret misdeeds, or it is a
terrible test.

JEANNE. [Enters, dressed in mourning] Good evening. Pardon me for
asking, but have you seen Monsieur Maurice?

MME. CATHERINE. No, madame, but I think he may be here any minute.
You haven't met him then since--

JEANNE. Not since this morning.

MME. CATHERINE. Let me tell you that I share in your great sorrow.

JEANNE. Thank you, madame. [To the ABBE] So you are here, Father.

ABBE. Yes, my child. I thought I might be of some use to you. And
it was fortunate, as it gave me a chance to speak to the
Commissaire.

JEANNE. The Commissaire! He doesn't suspect Maurice also, does he?

ABBE. No, he doesn't, and none of us here do. But appearances are
against him in a most appalling manner.

JEANNE. You mean on account of the talk the waiters overheard--it
means nothing to me, who has heard such things before when Maurice
had had a few drinks. Then it is his custom to speculate on crimes
and their punishment. Besides it seems to have been the woman in
his company who dropped the most dangerous remarks. I should like
to have a look into that woman's eyes.

ADOLPHE. My dear Jeanne, no matter how much harm that woman may
have done you, she did nothing with evil intention--in fact, she
had no intention whatever, but just followed the promptings of her
nature. I know her to be a good soul and one who can very well
bear being looked straight in the eye.

JEANNE. Your judgment in this matter, Adolphe, has great value to
me, and I believe what you say. It means that I cannot hold
anybody but myself responsible for what has happened. It is my
carelessness that is now being punished. [She begins to cry.]

ABBE. Don't accuse yourself unjustly! I know you, and the serious
spirit in which you have regarded your motherhood. That your
assumption of this responsibility had not been sanctioned by
religion and the civil law was not your fault. No, we are here
facing something quite different.

ADOLPHE. What then?

ABBE. Who can tell?

(HENRIETTE enters, dressed in travelling suit.)

ADOLPHE. [Rises with an air of determination and goes to meet
HENRIETTE] You here?

HENRIETTE. Yes, where is Maurice?

ADOLPHE. Do you know--or don't you?

HENRIETTE. I know everything. Excuse me, Madame Catherine, but I
was ready to start and absolutely had to step in here a moment.
[To ADOLPHE] Who is that woman?--Oh!

(HENRIETTE and JEANNE stare at each other.)

(EMILE appears in the kitchen door.)

HENRIETTE. [To JEANNE] I ought to say something, but it matters
very little, for anything I can say must sound like an insult or a
mockery. But if I ask you simply to believe that I share your deep
sorrow as much as anybody standing closer to you, then you must
not turn away from me. You mustn't, for I deserve your pity if not
your forbearance. [Holds out her hand.]

JEANNE. [Looks hard at her] I believe you now--and in the next
moment I don't. [Takes HENRIETTE'S hand.]

HENRIETTE. [Kisses JEANNE'S hand] Thank you!

JEANNE. [Drawing back her hand] Oh, don't! I don't deserve it! I
don't deserve it!

ABBE. Pardon me, but while we are gathered here and peace seems to
prevail temporarily at least, won't you, Mademoiselle Henriette,
shed some light into all the uncertainty and darkness surrounding
the main point of accusation? I ask you, as a friend among
friends, to tell us what you meant with all that talk about
killing, and crime, and the Place de Roquette. That your words had
no connection with the death of the child, we have reason to
believe, but it would give us added assurance to hear what you
were really talking about. Won't you tell us?

HENRIETTE. [After a pause] That I cannot tell! No, I cannot!

ADOLPHE. Henriette, do tell! Give us the word that will relieve us
all.

HENRIETTE. I cannot! Don't ask me!

ABBE. This is not the work of man!

HENRIETTE. Oh, that this moment had to come! And in this manner!
[To JEANNE] Madame, I swear that I am not guilty of your child's
death. Is that enough?

JEANNE. Enough for us, but not for Justice.

HENRIETTE. Justice! If you knew how true your words are!

ABBE. [To HENRIETTE] And if you knew what you were saying just
now!

HENRIETTE. Do you know that better than I?

ABBE. Yes, I do.

(HENRIETTE looks fixedly at the ABBE.)

ABBE. Have no fear, for even if I guess your secret, it will not
be exposed. Besides, I have nothing to do with human justice, but
a great deal with divine mercy.

MAURICE. [Enters hastily, dressed for travelling. He doesn't look
at the others, who are standing in the background, but goes
straight up to the counter, where MME. CATHERINE is sitting.] You
are not angry at me, Madame Catherine, because I didn't show up. I
have come now to apologise to you before I start for the South at
eight o'clock this evening.

(MME. CATHERINE is too startled to say a word.)

MAURICE. Then you are angry at me? [Looks around] What does all
this mean? Is it a dream, or what is it? Of course, I can see that
it is all real, but it looks like a wax cabinet--There is Jeanne,
looking like a statue and dressed in black--And Henriette looking
like a corpse--What does it mean?

(All remain silent.)

MAURICE. Nobody answers. It must mean something dreadful.
[Silence] But speak, please! Adolphe, you are my friend, what is
it? [Pointing to EMILE] And there is a detective!

ADOLPHE. [Comes forward] You don't know then?

MAURICE. Nothing at all. But I must know!

ADOLPHE. Well, then--Marion is dead.

MAURICE. Marion--dead?

ADOLPHE. Yes, she died this morning.

MAURICE. [To JEANNE] So that's why you are in mourning. Jeanne,
Jeanne, who has done this to us?

JEANNE. He who holds life and death in his hand.

MAURICE. But I saw her looking well and happy this morning. How
did it happen? Who did it? Somebody must have done it? [His eyes
seek HENRIETTE.]

ADOLPHE. Don't look for the guilty one here, for there is none to
he found. Unfortunately the police have turned their suspicion in
a direction where none ought to exist.

MAURICE. What direction is that?

ADOLPHE. Well--you may as well know that, your reckless talk last
night and this morning has placed you in a light that is anything
but favourable.

MAURICE, So they were listening to us. Let me see, what were we
saying--I remember!--Then I am lost!

ADOLPHE. But if you explain your thoughtless words we will believe
you.

MAURICE. I cannot! And I will not! I shall be sent to prison, but
it doesn't matter. Marion is dead! Dead! And I have killed her!

(General consternation.)

ADOLPHE. Think of what you are saying! Weigh your words! Do you
realise what you said just now?

MAURICE. What did I say?

ADOLPHE. You said that you had killed Marion.

MAURICE. Is there a human being here who could believe me a
murderer, and who could hold me capable of taking my own child's
life? You who know me, Madame Catherine, tell me: do you believe,
can you believe--

MME. CATHERINE. I don't know any longer what to believe. What the
heart thinketh the tongue speaketh. And your tongue has spoken
evil words.

MAURICE. She doesn't believe me!

ADOLPHE. But explain your words, man! Explain what you meant by
saying that "your love would kill everything that stood in its
way."

MAURICE. So they know that too--Are you willing to explain it,
Henriette?

HENRIETTE. No, I cannot do that.

ABBE. There is something wrong behind all this and you have lost
our sympathy, my friend. A while ago I could have sworn that you
were innocent, and I wouldn't do that now.

MAURICE. [To JEANNE] What you have to say means more to me than
anything else. JEANNE. [Coldly] Answer a question first: who was
it you cursed during that orgie out there?

MAURICE. Have I done that too? Maybe. Yes, I am guilty, and yet I
am guiltless. Let me go away from here, for I am ashamed of
myself, and I have done more wrong than I can forgive myself.

HENRIETTE. [To ADOLPHE] Go with him and see that he doesn't do
himself any harm.

ADOLPHE. Shall I--?

HENRIETTE. Who else?

ADOLPHE. [Without bitterness] You are nearest to it--Sh! A
carriage is stopping outside.

MME. CATHERINE. It's the Commissaire. Well, much as I have seen of
life, I could never have believed that success and fame were such
short-lived things.

MAURICE. [To HENRIETTE] From the triumphal chariot to the patrol
wagon!

JEANNE. [Simply] And the ass--who was that?

ADOLPHE. Oh, that must have been me.

COMMISSAIRE. [Enters with a paper in his hand] A summons to Police
Headquarters--to-night, at once--for Monsieur Maurice Gerard--and
for Mademoiselle Henrietta Mauclerc--both here?

MAURICE and HENRIETTE. Yes.

MAURICE. Is this an arrest?

COMMISSAIRE. Not yet. Only a summons.

MAURICE. And then?

COMMISSAIRE. We don't know yet.

(MAURICE and HENRIETTE go toward the door.)

MAURICE. Good-bye to all!

(Everybody shows emotion. The COMMISSAIRE, MAURICE, and HENRIETTE
go out.)

EMILE. [Enters and goes up to JEANNE] Now I'll take you home,
sister.

JEANNE. And what do you think of all this?

EMILE. The man is innocent.

ABBE. But as I see it, it is, and must always be, something
despicable to break one's promise, and it becomes unpardonable
when a woman and her child are involved.

EMILE. Well, I should rather feel that way, too, now when it
concerns my own sister, but unfortunately I am prevented from
throwing the first stone because I have done the same thing
myself.

ABBE. Although I am free from blame in that respect, I am not
throwing any stones either, but the act condemns itself and is
punished by its consequences.

JEANNE. Pray for him! For both of them!

ABBE. No, I'll do nothing of the kind, for it is an impertinence
to want to change the counsels of the Lord. And what has happened
here is, indeed, not the work of man.

(Curtain.)




SECOND SCENE


(The Auberge des Adrets. ADOLPHE and HENRIETTE are seated at the
same table where MAURICE and HENRIETTE were sitting in the second
act. A cup of coffee stands in front of ADOLPHE. HENRIETTE has
ordered nothing.)

ADOLPHE. You believe then that he will come here?

HENRIETTE. I am sure. He was released this noon for lack of
evidence, but he didn't want to show himself in the streets before
it was dark.

ADOLPHE. Poor fellow! Oh, I tell you, life seems horrible to me
since yesterday.

HENRIETTE. And what about me? I am afraid to live, dare hardly
breathe, dare hardly think even, since I know that somebody is
spying not only on my words but on my thoughts.

ADOLPHE. So it was here you sat that night when I couldn't find
you?

HENRIETTE. Yes, but don't talk of it. I could die from shame when
I think of it. Adolphe, you are made of a different, a better,
stuff than he or I---

ADOLPHE. Sh, sh, sh!

HENRIETTE. Yes, indeed! And what was it that made me stay here? I
was lazy; I was tired; his success intoxicated me and bewitched
me--I cannot explain it. But if you had come, it would never have
happened. And to-day you are great, and he is small--less than the
least of all. Yesterday he had one hundred thousand francs. To-day
he has nothing, because his play has been withdrawn. And public
opinion will never excuse him, for his lack of faith will be
judged as harshly as if he were the murderer, and those that see
farthest hold that the child died from sorrow, so that he was
responsible for it anyhow.

ADOLPHE. You know what my thoughts are in this matter, Henriette,
but I should like to know that both of you are spotless. Won't you
tell me what those dreadful words of yours meant? It cannot be a
chance that your talk in a festive moment like that dealt so
largely with killing and the scaffold.

HENRIETTE. It was no chance. It was something that had to be said,
something I cannot tell you--probably because I have no right to
appear spotless in your eyes, seeing that I am not spotless.

ADOLPHE. All this is beyond me.

HENRIETTE. Let us talk of something else--Do you believe there are
many unpunished criminals at large among us, some of whom may even
be our intimate friends?

ADOLPHE. [Nervously] Why? What do you mean?

HENRIETTE. Don't you believe that every human being at some time
or another has been guilty of some kind of act which would fall
under the law if it were discovered?

ADOLPHE. Yes, I believe that is true, but no evil act escapes
being punished by one's own conscience at least. [Rises and
unbuttons his coat] And--nobody is really good who has not erred.
[Breathing heavily] For in order to know how to forgive, one must
have been in need of forgiveness--I had a friend whom we used to
regard as a model man. He never spoke a hard word to anybody; he
forgave everything and everybody; and he suffered insults with a
strange satisfaction that we couldn't explain. At last, late in
life, he gave me his secret in a single word: I am a penitent! [He
sits down again.]

(HENRIETTE remains silent, looking at him with surprise.)

ADOLPHE. [As if speaking to himself] There are crimes not
mentioned in the Criminal Code, and these are the worse ones, for
they have to be punished by ourselves, and no judge could be more
severe than we are against our own selves.

HENRIETTE. [After a pause] Well, that friend of yours, did he find
peace?

ADOLPHE. After endless self-torture he reached a certain degree of
composure, but life had never any real pleasures to offer him. He
never dared to accept any kind of distinction; he never dared to
feel himself entitled to a kind word or even well-earned praise:
in a word, he could never quite forgive himself.

HENRIETTE. Never? What had he done then?

ADOLPHE. He had wished the life out of his father. And when his
father suddenly died, the son imagined himself to have killed him.
Those imaginations were regarded as signs of some mental disease,
and he was sent to an asylum. From this he was discharged after a
time as wholly recovered--as they put it. But the sense of guilt
remained with him, and so he continued to punish himself for his
evil thoughts.

HENRIETTE. Are you sure the evil will cannot kill?

ADOLPHE. You mean in some mystic way?

HENRIETTE. As you please. Let it go at mystic. In my own family--I
am sure that my mother and my sisters killed my father with their
hatred. You see, he had the awful idea that he must oppose all our
tastes and inclinations. Wherever he discovered a natural gift, he
tried to root it out. In that way he aroused a resistance that
accumulated until it became like an electrical battery charged
with hatred. At last it grew so powerful that he languished away,
became depolarised, lost his will-power, and, in the end, came to
wish himself dead.

ADOLPHE. And your conscience never troubled you?

HENRIETTE. No, and furthermore, I don't know what conscience is.

ADOLPHE. You don't? Well, then you'll soon learn. [Pause] How do
you believe Maurice will look when he gets here? What do you think
he will say?

HENRIETTE. Yesterday morning, you know, he and I tried to make the
same kind of guess about you while we were waiting for you.

ADOLPHE. Well?

HENRIETTE. We guessed entirely wrong.

ADOLPHE. Can you tell me why you sent for me?

HENRIETTE. Malice, arrogance, outright cruelty!

ADOLPHE. How strange it is that you can admit your faults and yet
not repent of them.

HENRIETTE. It must be because I don't feel quite responsible for
them. They are like the dirt left behind by things handled during
the day and washed off at night. But tell me one thing: do you
really think so highly of humanity as you profess to do?

ADOLPHE. Yes, we are a little better than our reputation--and a
little worse.

HENRIETTE. That is not a straightforward answer.

ADOLPHE. No, it isn't. But are you willing to answer me frankly
when I ask you: do you still love Maurice?

HENRIETTE. I cannot tell until I see him. But at this moment I
feel no longing for him, and it seems as if I could very well live
without him.

ADOLPHE. It's likely you could, but I fear you have become chained
to his fate--Sh! Here he comes.

HENRIETTE. How everything repeats itself. The situation is the
same, the very words are the same, as when we were expecting you
yesterday.

MAURICE. [Enters, pale as death, hollow-eyed, unshaven] Here I am,
my dear friends, if this be me. For that last night in a cell
changed me into a new sort of being. [Notices HENRIETTE and
ADOLPHE.]

ADOLPHE. Sit down and pull yourself together, and then we can talk
things over.

MAURICE. [To HENRIETTE] Perhaps I am in the way?

ADOLPHE. Now, don't get bitter.

MAURICE. I have grown bad in these twenty-four hours, and
suspicious also, so I guess I'll soon be left to myself. And who
wants to keep company with a murderer?

HENRIETTE. But you have been cleared of the charge.

MAURICE. [Picks up a newspaper] By the police, yes, but not by
public opinion. Here you see the murderer Maurice Gerard, once a
playwright, and his mistress, Henriette Mauclerc--

HENRIETTE. O my mother and my sisters--my mother! Jesus have
mercy!

MAURICE. And can you see that I actually look like a murderer? And
then it is suggested that my play was stolen. So there isn't a
vestige left of the victorious hero from yesterday. In place of my
own, the name of Octave, my enemy, appears on the bill-boards, and
he is going to collect my one hundred thousand francs. O Solon,
Solon! Such is fortune, and such is fame! You are fortunate,
Adolphe, because you have not yet succeeded.

HENRIETTE. So you don't know that Adolphe has made a great success
in London and carried off the first prize?

MAURICE. [Darkly] No, I didn't know that. Is it true, Adolphe?

ADOLPHE. It is true, but I have returned the prize.

HENRIETTE. [With emphasis] That I didn't know! So you are also
prevented from accepting any distinctions--like your friend?

ADOLPHE. My friend? [Embarrassed] Oh, yes, yes!

MAURICE. Your success gives me pleasure, but it puts us still
farther apart.

ADOLPHE. That's what I expected, and I suppose I'll be as lonely
with my success as you with your adversity. Think of it--that
people feel hurt by your fortune! Oh, it's ghastly to be alive!

MAURICE. You say that! What am I then to say? It is as if my eyes
had been covered with a black veil, and as if the colour and shape
of all life had been changed by it. This room looks like the room
I saw yesterday, and yet it is quite different. I recognise both
of you, of course, but your faces are new to me. I sit here and
search for words because I don't know what to say to you. I ought
to defend myself, but I cannot. And I almost miss the cell, for it
protected me, at least, against the curious glances that pass
right through me. The murderer Maurice and his mistress! You don't
love me any longer, Henriette, and no more do I care for you. To-
day you are ugly, clumsy, insipid, repulsive.

(Two men in civilian clothes have quietly seated themselves at a
table in the background.)

ADOLPHE. Wait a little and get your thoughts together. That you
have been discharged and cleared of all suspicion must appear in
some of the evening papers. And that puts an end to the whole
matter. Your play will be put on again, and if it comes to the
worst, you can write a new one. Leave Paris for a year and let
everything become forgotten. You who have exonerated mankind will
be exonerated yourself.

MAURICE. Ha-ha! Mankind! Ha-ha!

ADOLPHE. You have ceased to believe in goodness? MAURICE. Yes, if
I ever did believe in it. Perhaps it was only a mood, a manner of
looking at things, a way of being polite to the wild beasts. When
I, who was held among the best, can be so rotten to the core, what
must then be the wretchedness of the rest?

ADOLPHE. Now I'll go out and get all the evening papers, and then
we'll undoubtedly have reason to look at things in a different
way.

MAURICE. [Turning toward the background] Two detectives!--It means
that I am released under surveillance, so that I can give myself
away by careless talking.

ADOLPHE. Those are not detectives. That's only your imagination. I
recognise both of them. [Goes toward the door.]

MAURICE. Don't leave us alone, Adolphe. I fear that Henriette and
I may come to open explanations.

ADOLPHE. Oh, be sensible, Maurice, and think of your future. Try
to keep him quiet, Henriette. I'll be back in a moment. [Goes
out.]

HENRIETTE. Well, Maurice, what do you think now of our guilt or
guiltlessness?

MAURICE. I have killed nobody. All I did was to talk a lot of
nonsense while I was drunk. But it is your crime that comes back,
and that crime you have grafted on to me.

HENRIETTE. Oh, that's the tone you talk in now!--Was it not you
who cursed your own child, and wished the life out of it, and
wanted to go away without saying good-bye to anybody? And was it
not I who made you visit Marion and show yourself to Madame
Catherine?

MAURICE. Yes, you are right. Forgive me! You proved yourself more
human than I, and the guilt is wholly my own. Forgive me! But all
the same I am without guilt. Who has tied this net from which I
can never free myself? Guilty and guiltless; guiltless and yet
guilty! Oh, it is driving me mad--Look, now they sit over there
and listen to us--And no waiter comes to take our order. I'll go
out and order a cup of tea. Do you want anything?

HENRIETTE. Nothing.

(MAURICE goes out.)

FIRST DETECTIVE. [Goes up to HENRIETTE] Let me look at your
papers.

HENRIETTE. How dare you speak to me?

DETECTIVE. Dare? I'll show you!

HENRIETTE. What do you mean?

DETECTIVE. It's my job to keep an eye on street-walkers. Yesterday
you came here with one man, and today with another. That's as good
as walking the streets. And unescorted ladies don't get anything
here. So you'd better get out and come along with me.

HENRIETTE. My escort will be back in a moment.

DETECTIVE. Yes, and a pretty kind of escort you've got--the kind
that doesn't help a girl a bit!

HENRIETTE. O God! My mother, my sisters!--I am of good family, I
tell you.

DETECTIVE. Yes, first-rate family, I am sure. But you are too well
known through the papers. Come along!

HENRIETTE. Where? What do you mean?

DETECTIVE. Oh, to the Bureau, of course. There you'll get a nice
little card and a license that brings you free medical care.

HENRIETTE. O Lord Jesus, you don't mean it!

DETECTIVE. [Grabbing HENRIETTE by the arm] Don't I mean it?

HENRIETTE. [Falling on her knees] Save me, Maurice! Help!

DETECTIVE. Shut up, you fool!

(MAURICE enters, followed by WAITER.)

WAITER. Gentlemen of that kind are not served here. You just pay
and get out! And take the girl along!

MAURICE. [Crushed, searches his pocket-book for money] Henriette,
pay for me, and let us get away from this place. I haven't a sou
left.

WAITER. So the lady has to put up for her Alphonse! Alphonse! Do
you know what that is?

HENRIETTE. [Looking through her pocket-book] Oh, merciful heavens!
I have no money either!--Why doesn't Adolphe come back?

DETECTIVE. Well, did you ever see such rotters! Get out of here,
and put up something as security. That kind of ladies generally
have their fingers full of rings.

MAURICE. Can it be possible that we have sunk so low?

HENRIETTE. [Takes off a ring and hands it to the WAITER] The Abbe
was right: this is not the work of man.

MAURICE. No, it's the devil's!--But if we leave before Adolphe
returns, he will think that we have deceived him and run away.

HENRIETTE. That would be in keeping with the rest--But we'll go
into the river now, won't we?

MAURICE. [Takes HENRIETTE by the hand as they walk out together]
Into the river--yes!

(Curtain.)




ACT IV

FIRST SCENE


(In the Luxembourg Gardens, at the group of Adam and Eve. The wind
is shaking the trees and stirring up dead leaves, straws, and
pieces of paper from the ground.)

(MAURICE and HENRIETTE are seated on a bench.)

HENRIETTE. So you don't want to die?

MAURICE. No, I am afraid. I imagine that I am going to be very
cold down there in the grave, with only a sheet to cover me and a
few shavings to lie on. And besides that, it seems to me as if
there were still some task waiting for me, but I cannot make out
what it is.

HENRIETTE. But I can guess what it is.

MAURICE. Tell me.

HENRIETTE. It is revenge. You, like me, must have suspected Jeanne
and Emile of sending the detectives after me yesterday. Such a
revenge on a rival none but a woman could devise.

MAURICE. Exactly what I was thinking. But let me tell you that my
suspicions go even further. It seems as if my sufferings during
these last few days had sharpened my wits. Can you explain, for
instance, why the waiter from the Auberge des Adrets and the head
waiter from the Pavilion were not called to testify at the
hearing?

HENRIETTE. I never thought of it before. But now I know why. They
had nothing to tell, because they had not been listening.

MAURICE. But how could the Commissaire then know what we had been
saying?

HENRIETTE. He didn't know, but he figured it out. He was guessing,
and he guessed right. Perhaps he had had to deal with some similar
case before.

MAURICE. Or else he concluded from our looks what we had been
saying. There are those who can read other people's thoughts--
Adolphe being the dupe, it seemed quite natural that we should
have called him an ass. It's the rule, I understand, although it's
varied at times by the use of "idiot" instead. But ass was nearer
at hand in this case, as we had been talking of carriages and
triumphal chariots. It is quite simple to figure out a fourth
fact, when you have three known ones to start from.

HENRIETTE. Just think that we have let ourselves be taken in so
completely.

MAURICE. That's the result of thinking too well of one's fellow
beings. This is all you get out of it. But do you know, _I_
suspect somebody else back of the Commissaire, who, by-the-bye,
must be a full-fledged scoundrel.

HENRIETTE. You mean the Abbe, who was taking the part of a private
detective.

MAURICE. That's what I mean. That man has to receive all kinds of
confessions. And note you: Adolphe himself told us he had been at
the Church of St. Germain that morning. What was he doing there?
He was blabbing, of course, and bewailing his fate. And then the
priest put the questions together for the Commissaire.

HENRIETTE. Tell me something: do you trust Adolphe?

MAURICE. I trust no human being any longer.

HENRIETTE. Not even Adolphe?

MAURICE. Him least of all. How could I trust an enemy--a man from
whom I have taken away his mistress?

HENRIETTE. Well, as you were the first one to speak of this, I'll
give you some data about our friend. You heard he had returned
that medal from London. Do you know his reason for doing so?

MAURICE. No.

HENRIETTE. He thinks himself unworthy of it, and he has taken a
penitential vow never to receive any kind of distinction.

MAURICE. Can that he possible? But what has he done?

HENRIETTE. He has committed a crime of the kind that is not
punishable under the law. That's what he gave me to understand
indirectly.

MAURICE. He, too! He, the best one of all, the model man, who
never speaks a hard word of anybody and who forgives everything.

HENRIETTE. Well, there you can see that we are no worse than
others. And yet we are being hounded day and night as if devils
were after us.

MAURICE. He, also! Then mankind has not been slandered--But if he
has been capable of ONE crime, then you may expect anything of
him. Perhaps it was he who sent the police after you yesterday.
Coming to think of it now, it was he who sneaked away from us when
he saw that we were in the papers, and he lied when he insisted
that those fellows were not detectives. But, of course, you may
expect anything from a deceived lover.

HENRIETTE. Could he be as mean as that? No, it is impossible,
impossible!

MAURICE. Why so? If he is a scoundrel?--What were you two talking
of yesterday, before I came?

HENRIETTE. He had nothing but good to say of you.

MAURICE. That's a lie!

HENRIETTE. [Controlling herself and changing her tone] Listen.
There is one person on whom you have cast no suspicion whatever--
for what reason, I don't know. Have you thought of Madame
Catherine's wavering attitude in this matter? Didn't she say
finally that she believed you capable of anything?

MAURICE. Yes, she did, and that shows what kind of person she is.
To think evil of other people without reason, you must be a
villain yourself.

(HENRIETTE looks hard at him. Pause.)

HENRIETTE. To think evil of others, you must be a villain
yourself.

MAURICE. What do you mean?

HENRIETTE. What I said.

MAURICE. Do you mean that I--?

HENRIETTE. Yes, that's what I mean now! Look here! Did you meet
anybody but Marion when you called there yesterday morning?

MAURICE. Why do you ask?

HENRIETTE. Guess!

MAURICE. Well, as you seem to know--I met Jeanne, too.

HENRIETTE. Why did you lie to me?

MAURICE. I wanted to spare you.

HENRIETTE. And now you want me to believe in one who has been
lying to me? No, my boy, now I believe you guilty of that murder.

MAURICE. Wait a moment! We have now reached the place for which my
thoughts have been heading all the time, though I resisted as long
as possible. It's queer that what lies next to one is seen last of
all, and what one doesn't WANT to believe cannot be believed--Tell
me something: where did you go yesterday morning, after we parted
in the Bois?

HENRIETTE. [Alarmed] Why?

MAURICE. You went either to Adolphe--which you couldn't do, as he
was attending a lesson--or you went to--Marion!

HENRIETTE. Now I am convinced that you are the murderer.

MAURICE. And I, that you are the murderess! You alone had an
interest in getting the child out of the way--to get rid of the
rock on the road, as you so aptly put it.

HENRIETTE. It was you who said that.

MAURICE. And the one who had an interest in it must have committed
the crime.

HENRIETTE. Now, Maurice, we have been running around and around in
this tread-mill, scourging each other. Let us quit before we get
to the point of sheer madness.

MAURICE. You have reached that point already.

HENRIETTE. Don't you think it's time for us to part, before we
drive each other insane?

MAURICE. Yes, I think so.

HENRIETTE. [Rising] Good-bye then!

(Two men in civilian clothes become visible in the background.)

HENRIETTE. [Turns and comes back to MAURICE] There they are again!

MAURICE. The dark angels that want to drive us out of the garden.

HENRIETTE. And force us back upon each other as if we were chained
together.

MAURICE. Or as if we were condemned to lifelong marriage. Are we
really to marry? To settle down in the same place? To be able to
close the door behind us and perhaps get peace at last?

HENRIETTE. And shut ourselves up in order to torture each other to
death; get behind locks and bolts, with a ghost for marriage
portion; you torturing me with the memory of Adolphe, and I
getting back at you with Jeanne--and Marion.

MAURICE. Never mention the name of Marion again! Don't you know
that she was to be buried today--at this very moment perhaps?

HENRIETTE. And you are not there? What does that mean?

MAURICE. It means that both Jeanne and the police have warned me
against the rage of the people.

HENRIETTE. A coward, too?

MAURICE. All the vices! How could you ever have cared for me?

HENRIETTE. Because two days ago you were another person, well
worthy of being loved---

MAURICE. And now sunk to such a depth!

HENRIETTE. It isn't that. But you are beginning to flaunt bad
qualities which are not your own.

MAURICE. But yours?

HENRIETTE. Perhaps, for when you appear a little worse I feel
myself at once a little better.

MAURICE. It's like passing on a disease to save one's self-
respect.

HENRIETTE. And how vulgar you have become, too!

MAURICE. Yes, I notice it myself, and I hardly recognise myself
since that night in the cell. They put in one person and let out
another through that gate which separates us from the rest of
society. And now I feel myself the enemy of all mankind: I should
like to set fire to the earth and dry up the oceans, for nothing
less than a universal conflagration can wipe out my dishonour.

HENRIETTE. I had a letter from my mother today. She is the widow
of a major in the army, well educated, with old-fashioned ideas of
honour and that kind of thing. Do you want to read the letter? No,
you don't!--Do you know that I am an outcast? My respectable
acquaintances will have nothing to do with me, and if I show
myself on the streets alone the police will take me. Do you
realise now that we have to get married?

MAURICE. We despise each other, and yet we have to marry: that is
hell pure and simple! But, Henriette, before we unite our
destinies you must tell me your secret, so that we may be on more
equal terms.

HENRIETTE. All right, I'll tell you. I had a friend who got into
trouble--you understand. I wanted to help her, as her whole future
was at stake--and she died!

MAURICE. That was reckless, but one might almost call it noble,
too.

HENRIETTE. You say so now, but the next time you lose your temper
you will accuse me of it.

MAURICE. No, I won't. But I cannot deny that it has shaken my
faith in you and that it makes me afraid of you. Tell me, is her
lover still alive, and does he know to what extent you were
responsible?

HENRIETTE. He was as guilty as I.

MAURICE. And if his conscience should begin to trouble him--such
things do happen--and if he should feel inclined to confess: then
you would be lost.

HENRIETTE. I know it, and it is this constant dread which has made
me rush from one dissipation to another--so that I should never
have time to wake up to full consciousness.

MAURICE. And now you want me to take my marriage portion out of
your dread. That's asking a little too much.

HENRIETTE. But when I shared the shame of Maurice the murderer---

MAURICE. Oh, let's come to an end with it!

HENRIETTE. No, the end is not yet, and I'll not let go my hold
until I have put you where you belong. For you can't go around
thinking yourself better than I am.

MAURICE. So you want to fight me then? All right, as you please!

HENRIETTE. A fight on life and death!

(The rolling of drums is heard in the distance.)

MAURICE. The garden is to be closed. "Cursed is the ground for thy
sake; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee."

HENRIETTE. "And the Lord God said unto the woman---"

A GUARD. [In uniform, speaking very politely] Sorry, but the
garden has to be closed.

(Curtain.)




SECOND SCENE


(The Cremerie. MME. CATHERINE is sitting at the counter making
entries into an account book. ADOLPHE and HENRIETTE are seated at
a table.)

ADOLPHE. [Calmly and kindly] But if I give you my final assurance
that I didn't run away, but that, on the contrary, I thought you
had played me false, this ought to convince you.

HENRIETTE. But why did you fool us by saying that those fellows
were not policemen?

ADOLPHE. I didn't think myself that they were, and then I wanted
to reassure you.

HENRIETTE. When you say it, I believe you. But then you must also
believe me, if I reveal my innermost thoughts to you.

ADOLPHE. Go on.

HENRIETTE. But you mustn't come back with your usual talk of
fancies and delusions.

ADOLPHE. You seem to have reason to fear that I may.

HENRIETTE. I fear nothing, but I know you and your scepticism--
Well, and then you mustn't tell this to anybody--promise me!

ADOLPHE. I promise.

HENRIETTE. Now think of it, although I must say it's something
terrible: I have partial evidence that Maurice is guilty, or at
least, I have reasonable suspicions---

ADOLPHE. You don't mean it!

HENRIETTE. Listen, and judge for yourself. When Maurice left me in
the Bois, he said he was going to see Marion alone, as the mother
was out. And now I have discovered afterward that he did meet the
mother. So that he has been lying to me.

ADOLPHE. That's possible, and his motive for doing so may have
been the best, but how can anybody conclude from it that he is
guilty of a murder?

HENRIETTE. Can't you see that?--Don't you understand?

ADOLPHE. Not at all.

HENRIETTE. Because you don't want to!--Then there is nothing left
for me but to report him, and we'll see whether he can prove an
alibi.

ADOLPHE. Henriette, let me tell you the grim truth. You, like he,
have reached the border line of--insanity. The demons of distrust
have got hold of you, and each of you is using his own sense of
partial guilt to wound the other with. Let me see if I can make a
straight guess: he has also come to suspect you of killing his
child?

HENRIETTE. Yes, he's mad enough to do so.

ADOLPHE. You call his suspicions mad, but not your own.

HENRIETTE. You have first to prove the contrary, or that I suspect
him unjustly.

ADOLPHE. Yes, that's easy. A new autopsy has proved that Marion
died of a well-known disease, the queer name of which I cannot
recall just now.

HENRIETTE. Is it true?

ADOLPHE. The official report is printed in today's paper.

HENRIETTE. I don't take any stock in it. They can make up that
kind of thing.

ADOLPHE. Beware, Henriette--or you may, without knowing it, pass
across that border line. Beware especially of throwing out
accusations that may put you into prison. Beware! [He places his
hand on her head] You hate Maurice?

HENRIETTE. Beyond all bounds!

ADOLPHE. When love turns into hatred, it means that it was tainted
from the start.

HENRIETTE. [In a quieter mood] What am I to do? Tell me, you who
are the only one that understands me.

ADOLPHE. But you don't want any sermons.

HENRIETTE. Have you nothing else to offer me?

ADOLPHE. Nothing else. But they have helped me.

HENRIETTE. Preach away then!

ADOLPHE. Try to turn your hatred against yourself. Put the knife
to the evil spot in yourself, for it is there that YOUR trouble
roots.

HENRIETTE. Explain yourself.

ADOLPHE. Part from Maurice first of all, so that you cannot nurse
your qualms of conscience together. Break off your career as an
artist, for the only thing that led you into it was a craving for
freedom and fun--as they call it. And you have seen now how much
fun there is in it. Then go home to your mother.

HENRIETTE. Never!

ADOLPHE. Some other place then.

HENRIETTE. I suppose you know, Adolphe, that I have guessed your
secret and why you wouldn't accept the prize?

ADOLPHE. Oh, I assumed that you would understand a half-told
story.

HENRIETTE. Well--what did you do to get peace?

ADOLPHE. What I have suggested: I became conscious of my guilt,
repented, decided to turn over a new leaf, and arranged my life
like that of a penitent.

HENRIETTE. How can you repent when, like me, you have no
conscience? Is repentance an act of grace bestowed on you as faith
is?

ADOLPHE. Everything is a grace, but it isn't granted unless you
seek it--Seek!

(HENRIETTE remains silent.)

ADOLPHE. But don't wait beyond the allotted time, or you may
harden yourself until you tumble down into the irretrievable.

HENRIETTE. [After a pause] Is conscience fear of punishment?

ADOLPHE. No, it is the horror inspired in our better selves by the
misdeeds of our lower selves.

HENRIETTE. Then I must have a conscience also?

ADOLPHE. Of course you have, but--

HENRIETTE, Tell me, Adolphe, are you what they call religious?

ADOLPHE. Not the least bit.

HENRIETTE. It's all so queer--What is religion?

ADOLPHE. Frankly speaking, I don't know! And I don't think anybody
else can tell you. Sometimes it appears to me like a punishment,
for nobody becomes religious without having a bad conscience.

HENRIETTE. Yes, it is a punishment. Now I know what to do.
Good-bye, Adolphe!

ADOLPHE. You'll go away from here?

HENRIETTE. Yes, I am going--to where you said. Good-bye my friend!
Good-bye, Madame Catherine!

MME. CATHERINE. Have you to go in such a hurry?

HENRIETTE. Yes.

ADOLPHE. Do you want me to go with you?

HENRIETTE. No, it wouldn't do. I am going alone, alone as I came
here, one day in Spring, thinking that I belonged where I don't
belong, and believing there was something called freedom, which
does not exist. Good-bye! [Goes out.]

MME. CATHERINE. I hope that lady never comes back, and I wish she
had never come here at all!

ADOLPHE. Who knows but that she may have had some mission to fill
here? And at any rate she deserves pity, endless pity.

MME. CATHERINE. I don't, deny it, for all of us deserve that.

ADOLPHE. And she has even done less wrong than the rest of us.

MME. CATHERINE. That's possible, but not probable.

ADOLPHE. You are always so severe, Madame Catherine. Tell me: have
you never done anything wrong?

MME. CATHERINE. [Startled] Of course, as I am a sinful human creature.
But if you have been on thin ice and fallen in, you have a right to
tell others to keep away. And you may do so without being held severe
or uncharitable. Didn't I say to Monsieur Maurice the moment that lady
entered here: Look out! Keep away! And he didn't, and so he fell in. Just
like a naughty, self-willed child. And when a man acts like that he has
to have a spanking, like any disobedient youngster.

ADOLPHE. Well, hasn't he had his spanking?

MME. CATHERINE. Yes, but it does not seem to have been enough, as
he is still going around complaining.

ADOLPHE. That's a very popular interpretation of the whole
intricate question.

MME. CATHERINE. Oh, pish! You do nothing but philosophise about
your vices, and while you are still at it the police come along
and solve the riddle. Now please leave me alone with my accounts!

ADOLPHE. There's Maurice now.

MME. CATHERINE. Yes, God bless him!

MAURICE. [Enters, his face very flushed, and takes a seat near
ADOLPHE] Good evening.

(MME. CATHERINE nods and goes on figuring.)

ADOLPHE. Well, how's everything with you?

MAURICE. Oh, beginning to clear up.

ADOLPHE. [Hands him a newspaper, which MAURICE does not take] So
you have read the paper?

MAURICE. No, I don't read the papers any longer. There's nothing
but infamies in them.

ADOLPHE. But you had better read it first---

MAURICE. No, I won't! It's nothing but lies--But listen: I have
found a new clue. Can you guess who committed that murder?

ADOLPHE. Nobody, nobody!

MAURICE. Do you know where Henriette was during that quarter hour
when the child was left alone?--She was THERE! And it is she who
has done it!

ADOLPHE. You are crazy, man.

MAURICE. Not I, but Henriette, is crazy. She suspects me and has
threatened to report me.

ADOLPHE. Henriette was here a while ago, and she used the self-
same words as you. Both of you are crazy, for it has been proved
by a second autopsy that the child died from a well-known disease,
the name of which I have forgotten.

MAURICE. It isn't true!

ADOLPHE. That's what she said also. But the official report is
printed in the paper.

MAURICE. A report? Then they have made it up!

ADOLPHE. And that's also what she said. The two of you are
suffering from the same mental trouble. But with her I got far
enough to make her realise her own condition.

MAURICE. Where did she go?

ADOLPHE. She went far away from here to begin a new life.

MAURICE. Hm, hm!--Did you go to the funeral? ADOLPHE. I did.

MAURICE. Well?

ADOLPHE. Well, Jeanne seemed resigned and didn't have a hard word
to say about you.

MAURICE. She is a good woman.

ADOLPHE. Why did you desert her then?

MAURICE. Because I WAS crazy--blown up with pride especially--and
then we had been drinking champagne---

ADOLPHE. Can you understand now why Jeanne wept when you drank
champagne?

MAURICE. Yes, I understand now--And for that reason I have already
written to her and asked her to forgive me--Do you think she will
forgive me?

ADOLPHE. I think so, for it's not like her to hate anybody.

MAURICE. Do you think she will forgive me completely, so that she
will come back to me?

ADOLPHE. Well, I don't know about THAT. You have shown yourself so
poor in keeping faith that it is doubtful whether she will trust
her fate to you any longer.

MAURICE. But I can feel that her fondness for me has not ceased,
and I know she will come back to me.

ADOLPHE. How can you know that? How can you believe it? Didn't you
even suspect her and that decent brother of hers of having sent
the police after Henriette out of revenge?

MAURICE. But I don't believe it any longer--that is to say, I
guess that fellow Emile is a pretty slick customer.

MME. CATHERINE. Now look here! What are you saying of Monsieur
Emile? Of course, he is nothing but a workman, but if everybody
kept as straight as he--There is no flaw in him, but a lot of
sense and tact.

EMILE. [Enters] Monsieur Gerard?

MAURICE. That's me.

EMILE. Pardon me, but I have something to say to you in private.

MAURICE. Go right on. We are all friends here.

(The ABBE enters and sits down.)

EMILE. [With a glance at the ABBE] Perhaps after---

MAURICE. Never mind. The Abbe is also a friend, although he and I
differ.

EMILE. You know who I am, Monsieur Gerard? My sister has asked me
to give you this package as an answer to your letter.

(MAURICE takes the package and opens it.)

EMILE. And now I have only to add, seeing as I am in a way my
sister's guardian, that, on her behalf as well as my own, I
acknowledge you free of all obligations, now when the natural tie
between you does not exist any longer.

MAURICE. But you must have a grudge against me?

EMILE. Must I? I can't see why. On the other hand, I should like
to have a declaration from you, here in the presence of your
friends, that you don't think either me or my sister capable of
such a meanness as to send the police after Mademoiselle
Henriette.

MAURICE. I wish to take back what I said, and I offer you my
apology, if you will accept it.

EMILE. It is accepted. And I wish all of you a good evening. [Goes
out.]

EVERYBODY. Good evening!

MAURICE. The tie and the gloves which Jeanne gave me for the
opening night of my play, and which I let Henrietta throw into the
fireplace. Who can have picked them up? Everything is dug up;
everything comes back!--And when she gave them to me in the
cemetery, she said she wanted me to look fine and handsome, so
that other people would like me also--And she herself stayed at
home--This hurt her too deeply, and well it might. I have no right
to keep company with decent human beings. Oh, have I done this?
Scoffed at a gift coming from a good heart; scorned a sacrifice
offered to my own welfare. This was what I threw away in order to
get--a laurel that is lying on the rubbish heap, and a bust that
would have belonged in the pillory--Abbe, now I come over to you.

ABBE. Welcome!

MAURICE. Give me the word that I need.

ABBE. Do you expect me to contradict your self-accusations and
inform you that you have done nothing wrong?

MAURICE. Speak the right word!

ABBE. With your leave, I'll say then that I have found your
behaviour just as abominable as you have found it yourself.

MAURICE. What can I do, what can I do, to get out of this?

ABBE. You know as well as I do.

MAURICE. No, I know only that I am lost, that my life is spoiled,
my career cut off, my reputation in this world ruined forever.

ABBE. And so you are looking for a new existence in some better
world, which you are now beginning to believe in?

MAURICE. Yes, that's it.

ABBE. You have been living in the flesh and you want now to live
in the spirit. Are you then so sure that this world has no more
attractions for you?

MAURICE. None whatever! Honour is a phantom; gold, nothing but dry
leaves; women, mere intoxicants. Let me hide myself behind your
consecrated walls and forget this horrible dream that has filled
two days and lasted two eternities.

ABBE. All right! But this is not the place to go into the matter
more closely. Let us make an appointment for this evening at nine
o'clock in the Church of St. Germain. For I am going to preach to
the inmates of St. Lazare, and that may be your first step along
the hard road of penitence.

MAURICE. Penitence?

ABBE. Well, didn't you wish---

MAURICE. Yes, yes!

ABBE. Then we have vigils between midnight and two o'clock.

MAURICE. That will be splendid!

ABBE. Give me your hand that you will not look back.

MAURICE. [Rising, holds out his hand] Here is my hand, and my will
goes with it.

SERVANT GIRL. [Enters from the kitchen] A telephone call for
Monsieur Maurice.

MAURICE. From whom?

SERVANT GIRL. From the theatre.

(MAURICE tries to get away, but the ABBE holds on to his hand.)

ABBE. [To the SERVANT GIRL] Find out what it is.

SERVANT GIRL. They want to know if Monsieur Maurice is going to
attend the performance tonight.

ABBE. [To MAURICE, who is trying to get away] No, I won't let you
go.

MAURICE. What performance is that?

ADOLPHE. Why don't you read the paper?

MME. CATHERINE and the ABBE. He hasn't read the paper?

MAURICE. It's all lies and slander. [To the SERVANT GIRL] Tell
them that I am engaged for this evening: I am going to church.

(The SERVANT GIRL goes out into the kitchen.)

ADOLPHE. As you don't want to read the paper, I shall have to tell
you that your play has been put on again, now when you are
exonerated. And your literary friends have planned a demonstration
for this evening in recognition of your indisputable talent.

MAURICE. It isn't true.

EVERYBODY. It is true.

MAURICE. [After a pause] I have not deserved it!

ABBE. Good!

ADOLPHE. And furthermore, Maurice---

MAURICE. [Hiding his face in his hands] Furthermore!

MME. CATHERINE. One hundred thousand francs! Do you see now that
they come back to you? And the villa outside the city. Everything
is coming back except Mademoiselle Henriette.

ABBE. [Smiling] You ought to take this matter a little more
seriously, Madame Catherine.

MME. CATHERINE. Oh, I cannot--I just can't keep serious any
longer!

[She breaks into open laughter, which she vainly tries to smother
with her handkerchief.]

ADOLPHE. Say, Maurice, the play begins at eight.

ABBE. But the church services are at nine.

ADOLPHE. Maurice!

MME. CATHERINE. Let us hear what the end is going to be, Monsieur
Maurice.

(MAURICE drops his head on the table, in his arms.)

ADOLPHE. Loose him, Abbe!

ABBE. No, it is not for me to loose or bind. He must do that
himself.

MAURICE. [Rising] Well, I go with the Abbe.

ABBE. No, my young friend. I have nothing to give you but a
scolding, which you can give yourself. And you owe a duty to
yourself and to your good name. That you have got through with
this as quickly as you have is to me a sign that you have suffered
your punishment as intensely as if it had lasted an eternity. And
when Providence absolves you there is nothing for me to add.

MAURICE. But why did the punishment have to be so hard when I was
innocent?

ABBE. Hard? Only two days! And you were not innocent. For we have
to stand responsible for our thoughts and words and desires also.
And in your thought you became a murderer when your evil self
wished the life out of your child.

MAURICE. You are right. But my decision is made. To-night I will
meet you at the church in order to have a reckoning with myself--
but to-morrow evening I go to the theatre.

MME. CATHERINE. A good solution, Monsieur Maurice.

ADOLPHE. Yes, that is the solution. Whew!

ABBE. Yes, so it is!

(Curtain.)








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