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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Weavers’ Revolt
By Gerhart Hauptmann (1862–1946)
From ‘The Weavers’: Translation of Mary Morison in Ludwig Lewisohn’s edition of Hauptmann

SURGEON SCHMIDT  [a jerky little ball of a man, with a red, knowing face, comes into the entry-room]—Good-morning, all! These are fine goings on! Take care! take care!  [Threatening with his finger.]  You’re a sly lot—that’s what you are.  [At Hilse’s door without coming in.]  Morning, father Hilse.  [To a woman in the outer room.]  And how are the pains, mother? Better, eh? Well, well. And how’s all with you, father Hilse?  [Enters.]  Why the deuce! what’s the matter with mother?  1
  Luise—It’s the eye veins, sir—they’ve dried up, so as she can’t see at all now.  2
  Surgeon Schmidt—That’s from the dust and weaving by candlelight. Will you tell me what it means that all Peterswaldau’s on the way here? I set off on my rounds this morning as usual, thinking no harm; but it wasn’t long till I had my eyes opened. Strange doings these! What in the devil’s name has taken possession of them, Hilse? They’re like a pack of raging wolves. Riot—why, it’s revolution! they’re getting refractory—plundering and laying waste right and left … Mielchen! where’s Mielchen?  [Mielchen, her face red with crying, is pushed in by her mother.]  Here, Mielchen, put your hand into my coat pocket.  [Mielchen does so.]  The ginger-bread nuts are for you. Not all at once, though, you baggage! And a song first! The fox jumped up on a … come, now … The fox jumped up … on a moonlight…. Mind, I’ve heard what you did. You called the sparrows on the churchyard hedge a nasty name, and they’re gone and told the pastor. Did any one ever hear the like? Fifteen hundred of them agog—men, women, and children.  [Distant bells are heard.]  That’s at Reichenbach—alarm-bells! Fifteen hundred people! Uncomfortably like the world coming to an end!  3
  Old Hilse—An’ is it true that they’re on their way to Bielau?  4
  Surgeon Schmidt—That’s just what I’m telling you. I’ve driven through the middle of the whole crowd. What I’d have liked to do would have been to get down and give each of them a pill there and then. They were following on each other’s heels like misery itself, and their singing was more than enough to turn a man’s stomach. I was nearly sick, and Frederick was shaking on the box like an old woman. We had to take a stiff glass at the first opportunity. I wouldn’t be a manufacturer, not though I could drive my carriage and pair.  [Distant singing.]  Listen to that! It’s for all the world as if they were beating at some broken old boiler. We’ll have them here in five minutes, friends. Good-bye! Don’t you be foolish. The troops will be upon them in no time. Keep your wits about you. The Peterswaldau people have lost theirs.  [Bells ring close at hand.]  Good gracious! There are our bells ringing too! Everyone’s going mad.  [He goes upstairs.]  5
  Gottlieb  [comes back.  In the entry-room, out of breath]—I’ve seen ’em, I’ve seen ’em!  [To a woman.]  They’re here, auntie, they’re here!  [At the door.]  They’re here, father, they’re here! They’ve got bean-poles, an’ ox-goads, an’ axes. They’re standing outside the upper Dittrich’s kickin’ up an awful row, I think he’s payin’ ’em money. O Lord! whatever’s goin’ to happen? What a crowd! Oh, you never saw such a crowd! Dash it all—if once they make a rush, our manufacturers’ll be hard put to it.  6
  Old Hilse—What have you been runnin’ like that for? You’ll go racin’ till you bring on your old trouble, and then we’ll have you on your back again, strugglin’ for breath.  7
  Gottlieb  [almost joyously excited]—I had to run, or they would ha’ caught me an’ kept me. They was all roarin’ to me to join ’em. Father Baumert was there too, and says he to me: You come an’ get your sixpence with the rest—you’re a poor starvin’ weaver too. An’ I was to tell you, father, from him, that you was to come an’ help to pay out the manufacturers for their grindin’ of us down.  [Passionately.]  Other times is comin’, he says. There’s goin’ to be a change of days for us weavers. An’ we’re all to come an’ help to bring it about. We’re to have our half-pound o’ meat on Sundays, and now and again on a holiday sausage with our cabbage. Yes, things is to be quite different, by what he tells me.  8
  Old Hilse  [with repressed indignation]—An’ that man calls hisself your godfather! and he bids you take part in such works o’ wickedness? Have nothing to do with them, Gottlieb. They’ve let themselves be tempted by Satan, an’ it’s his works they’re doin’.  9
  Luise  [no longer able to restrain her passionate excitement, vehemently]—Yes, Gottlieb, get into the chimney corner, an’ take a spoon in your hand, an’ a dish o’ skim milk on your knee, an’ put on a petticoat an’ say your prayers, and then father’ll be pleased with you. And he sets up to be a man!  [Laughter from people in the entry-room.]  10
  Old Hilse  [quivering with suppressed rage]—An’ you set up to be a good wife, eh? You calls yourself a mother, an’ let your evil tongue run away with you like that? You think yourself fit to teach your girl, you that would egg on your husband to crime an’ wickedness?  11
  Luise  [has lost all control of herself]—You an’ your piety an’ religion—did they serve to keep the life in my poor children? In rags an’ dirt they lay, all the four—it didn’t as much as keep ’em dry. Yes! I sets up to be a mother, that’s what I do—an’ if you’d like to know it, that’s why I’d send all the manufacturers to hell—because I’m a mother!—Not one of the four could I keep in life! It was cryin’ more than breathin’ with me from the time each poor little thing came into the world till death took pity on it. The devil a bit you cared! You sat there prayin’ and singin’, and let me run about till my feet bled, tryin’ to get one little drop o’ skim milk. How many hundred nights has I lain an’ racked my head to think what I could do to cheat the churchyard of my little one? What harm has a baby like that done that it must come to such a miserable end—eh? An’ over there at Dittrich’s they’re bathed in wine an’ washed in milk. No! you may talk as you like, but if they begins here, ten horses won’t hold me back. An’ what’s more—if there’s a rush on Dittrich’s, you’ll see me in the forefront of it—an’ pity the man as tries to prevent me—I’ve stood it long enough, so now you know it.  12
  Old Hilse—You’re a lost soul—there’s no help for you.  13
  Luise  [frenzied]—It’s you that there’s no help for! Tatter-breeched scarecrows—that’s what you are—an’ not men at all. Whey-faced gutter-scrapers that take to your heels at the sound of a child’s rattle. Fellows that says “Thank you” to the man as gives you a hidin’. They’ve not left that much blood in you as that you can turn red in the face. You should have the whip taken to you, an’ a little pluck flogged into your rotten bones.  14
[She goes out quickly.  Embarrassed pause.]
  Mother Hilse—What’s the matter with Liesl, father?
  Old Hilse—Nothin’, mother! What should be the matter with her?  16
  Mother Hilse—Father, is it only me that’s thinkin’ it, or is the bells ringin’?  17
  Old Hilse—It’ll be a funeral, mother.  18
  Mother Hilse—An’ I’ve got to sit waitin’ here yet. Why must I be so long a-dyin’, father?  19
  Old Hilse  [leaves his work, holds himself up straight; solemnly]—Gottlieb!—you heard all your wife said to us. Look here, Gottlieb!  [He bares his breast.]  Here they cut out a bullet as big as a thimble. The King knows where I lost my arm. It wasn’t the mice as ate it.  [He walks up and down.]  Before that wife of yours was ever thought of, I had spilled my blood by the quart for King an’ country. So let her call what names she likes—an’ welcome! It does me no harm—Frightened? Me frightened? What would I be frightened of, will you tell me that? Of the few soldiers, maybe, that’ll be comin’ after the rioters? Good gracious me! That would be a lot to be frightened at! No, no, lad; I may be a bit stiff in the back, but there’s some strength left in the old bones; I’ve got the stuff in me yet to make a stand against a few rubbishin’ bay’nets.—An’ if it came to the worst! Willin’, willin’ would I be to say good-bye to this weary world. Death’d be welcome—welcomer to me to-day than to-morrow. For what is it we leave behind? That old bundle of aches an’ pains we call our body, the care an’ the oppression we call by the name o’ life. We may be glad to get away from it.—But there’s something to come after, Gottlieb!—an’ if we’ve done ourselves out o’ that too—why, then it’s all over with us!
  Gottlieb—Who knows what’s to come after? Nobody’s seen it.  21
  Old Hilse—Gottlieb! don’t you be throwin’ doubts on the one comfort us poor people have. Why has I sat here an’ worked my treadle like a slave this forty year an’ more?—sat still an’ looked on at him over yonder livin’ in pride an’ wastefulness—why? Because I have a better hope, something as supports me in all my troubles.  [Points out at the window.]  You have your good things in this world—I’ll have mine in the next. That’s been my thought. An’ I’m that certain of it—I’d let myself be torn to pieces. Have we not His promise? There’s a Day of Judgment comin’; but it’s not us as are the judges—no: Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.  22
[A cry of “Weavers, come out!” is heard outside the window.]
  Old Hilse—Do what you will for me.  [He seals himself at his loom.]  I stay here.
  Gottlieb  [after a short struggle]—I’m going to work too—come what may.  [Goes out.]
[The Weavers’ Song is heard, sung by hundreds of voices quite close at hand; it sounds like a dull, monotonous wail.]

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