Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘There Are Crimes and Crimes’
By August Strindberg (1849–1912)
Act I. Scene I.

From ‘Plays by August Strindberg’: Translation of Edwin Björkman
  [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 windmill 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 Abbé 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.  1
  Jeanne  [submissively]—I am only waiting for somebody who’ll soon be here—  2
  Watchman—All right, but you’re not allowed to pick any flowers.  3
  Jeanne  [to Marion]—Drop the flowers, dear.  4
  Abbé  [comes forward and is saluted by the Watchman]—Can’t the child play with the flowers that have been thrown away?  5
  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.  6
  Abbé  [to Marion]—In that case we have to obey, of course. What’s your name, my little girl?  7
  Marion—My name is Marion.  8
  Abbé—And who is your father?
[Marion begins to bite one of her fingers and does not answer.]
  Abbé—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.  11
  Abbé—Two hours—for him! How these human beings torture each other! O Crux! Ave spes unica!  12
  Jeanne—What do they mean, those words you read all around here?  13
  Abbé—They mean: O cross, our only hope!  14
  Jeanne—Is it the only one?  15
  Abbé—The only certain one.  16
  Jeanne—I shall soon believe that you are right, Father.  17
  Abbé—May I ask why?  18
  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.  19
  Abbé—And when he has left you, what then?  20
  Jeanne—Then we have to go into the river.  21
  Abbé—Oh, no, no!  22
  Jeanne—Yes, yes!  23
  Marion—Mamma, I want to go home, for I am hungry.  24
  Jeanne—Just a little longer, dear, and we’ll go home.  25
  Abbé—Woe unto those who call evil good and good evil!  26
  Jeanne—What is that woman doing at the grave over there?  27
  Abbé—She seems to be talking to the dead.  28
  Jeanne—But you cannot do that?  29
  Abbé—She seems to know how.  30
  Jeanne—This would mean that the end of life is not the end of misery?  31
  Abbé—And you don’t know it?  32
  Jeanne—Where can I find out?  33
  Abbé—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.  34
  Jeanne  [embarrassed]—No, he is not the one, but I know him.  35
  Abbé  [to Marion]—Good-bye, little Marion! May God take care of you!  [Kisses the child and goes out.]  At St. Germain des Près.  36
  Émile  [enters]—Good-morning, sister. What are you doing here?  37
  Jeanne—I am waiting for Maurice.  38
  Émile—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.  39
  Jeanne—Ladies also?  40
  Émile—Ot course. But that doesn’t mean anything. He writes plays, and his latest one has its first performance to-night. I suppose he had with him some of the actresses.  41
  Jeanne—Did he recognize you?  42
  Émile—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.  43
  Jeanne—But if he leaves us without anything to live on?  44
  Émile—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?  45
  Jeanne—I don’t know, but I have a feeling that something dreadful is in store for me.  46
  Émile—Has he promised to marry you?  47
  Jeanne—No, not promised exactly, but he has held out hopes.  48
  Émile—Hopes, yes! Do you remember my words at the start: don’t hope for anything, for those above us don’t marry downward.  49
  Jeanne—But such things have happened.  50
  Émile—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.  51
  Jeanne—So you take your meals at that place?  52
  Émile—Yes, in the kitchen.  53
  Jeanne—And think of it, he has never asked me to come with him.  54
  Émile—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.  55
  Jeanne—Is that so?  56
  Émile—But Maurice never pays any attention to the women. There is something square about that fellow.  57
  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.  58
  Émile  [smiling]—You don’t tell me! But listen: are you hard up for money?  59
  Jeanne—No, nothing of that kind.  60
  Émile—Well, then the worst hasn’t come yet—Look! Over there! There he comes. And I’ll leave you. Good-bye, little girl.  61
  Jeanne—Is he coming? Yes, that’s him.  62
  Émile—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!  65
  Maurice—My little girl!  [Greets Jeanne.]  Can you forgive me, Jeanne, that I have kept you waiting so long?  66
  Jeanne—Of course I can.  67
  Maurice—But say it in such a way that I can hear that you are forgiving me.  68
  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 to-night, and there is every chance that it will succeed—or fail.  71
  Jeanne—I’ll make sure of success by praying for you.  72
  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. To-day Paris doesn’t know who Maurice is, but it is going to know within twenty-four hours. The haze, which has kept me obscure 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.  73
  Jeanne—Don’t talk that way, don’t!  74
  Maurice—But that’s the way it is.  75
  Jeanne—Yes, but don’t speak of it—And then?  76
  Maurice—Then we are on firm ground, and then you and Marion will bear the name I have made famous.  77
  Jeanne—You love me then?  78
  Maurice—I love both of you, equally much, or perhaps Marion a little more.  79
  Jeanne—I am glad of it, for you can grow tired of me, but not of her.  80
  Maurice—Have you no confidence in my feelings toward you?  81
  Jeanne—I don’t know, but I am afraid of something, afraid of something terrible—  82
  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?  83
  Jeanne—The unexpected: that which you may foresee without having any particular reason to do so.  84
  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—  85
  Jeanne—I can’t, I can’t! Do you know, there was an Abbé 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.  86
  Maurice—Now I am getting scared.  87
  Jeanne—Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  88
  Maurice—God? What is that? Who is He?  89
  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.  90
  Maurice—What is lying ahead of us? What do you know? Where have you learned of this? This thing that I don’t know?  91
  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.  92
  Marion—Now I want to go home, mamma, for I am hungry.  93
  Maurice—Yes, you’ll go home now, my little darling.  [Takes her into his arms.]  94
  Marion  [shrinking]—Oh, you hurt me, papa!  95
  Jeanne—Yes, we must get home for dinner. Good-bye, then, Maurice. And good luck to you!  96
  Maurice  [to Marion]—How did I hurt you? Doesn’t my little girl know that I always want to be nice to her?  97
  Marion—If you are nice, you’ll come home with us.  98
  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?  100
  Maurice—We’ll meet to-morrow, dear. And then we’ll never part again.  101
  Jeanne  [embraces him]—Never, never to part again!  [She makes the sign of the cross on his forehead.]  May God protect you!  102
  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 to-night.  104
  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.  105
  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 to-night, and there is no place for women and children on the battle-field—and this you understood!  106
  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 honor.  107
  Maurice  [kissing her hand]—Thank you, dear.  108
  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.  109
  Maurice—There is no jealousy in you!  110
  Jeanne—Don’t mention that word, for evil thoughts spring from it.  111
  Maurice—Just now I feel as if I could give up this evening’s victory—for I am going to win—  112
  Jeanne—Hush, hush!  113
  Maurice—And go home with you instead.  114
  Jeanne—But you mustn’t do that! Go now: your destiny is waiting for you.  115
  Maurice—Good-bye then! And may that happen which must happen!  [Goes out.]  116
  Jeanne  [alone with Marion]—O Crux! Ave spes unica!
Scene II
  [The Crémerie.  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 to-night the great event comes off, Monsieur Maurice?
  Maurice—Yes, to-night.  119
  Mme. Catherine—Do you feel upset?  120
  Maurice—Cool as a cucumber.  121
  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.  122
  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.  123
  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?  124
  Maurice—Yes, you can—of course, you can, as I have already promised you.
[Henrietta 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?  126
  Mme. Catherine—No, madame. But he’ll soon be here now. Won’t you sit down?  127
  Henriette—No, thank you, I’d rather wait for him outside.  [Goes out.]  128
  Maurice—Who—was—that?  129
  Mme. Catherine—Why, that’s Monsieur Adolphe’s friend.  130
  Maurice—What—that—her?  131
  Mme. Catherine—Have you never seen her before?  132
  Maurice—No, he has been hiding her from me, just as if he was afraid I might take her away from him.  133
  Mme. Catherine—Ha-ha! Well, how did you think she looked?  134
  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!  135
  Mme. Catherine—Oh, you are crazy, you with your ladies!  136
  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!  137
  Mme. Catherine—Are you afraid?  138
  Maurice—Yes, I am afraid for myself, and also for some others.  139
  Mme. Catherine—Well, go then.  140
  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!  141
  Mme. Catherine—Oh, get out of here, man, before you lose all your reason.  142
  Maurice—I want to go, but I cannot. Do you believe in fate, Madame Catherine?  143
  Mme. Catherine—No, I believe in a good God, who protects us against evil powers if we ask Him in the right way.  144
  Maurice—So there are evil powers after all! I think I can hear them in the hallway now.  145
  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 Émile.]
  Émile—I beg your pardon.  [He retires the way he came.]  147
  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.  148
  Maurice  [saluting stiffly]—Pleased to meet you.  149
  Henriette—We have seen each other before.  150
  Adolphe—Is that so? When, if I may ask?  151
  Maurice—A moment ago. Right here.  152
  Adolphe—O-oh! But now you must stay and have a chat with us.  153
  Maurice  [after a glance at Mme. Catherine]—If I only had time.  154
  Adolphe—Take the time. And we won’t be sitting here very long.  155
  Henriette—I won’t interrupt if you have to talk business.  156
  Maurice—The only business we have is so bad that we don’t want to talk of it.  157
  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.]  159
  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.  160
  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.  161
  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.  162
  Henriette—Adolphe didn’t want it.
[Adolphe looks embarrassed.]
  Henriette—Not that he was jealous—  164
  Maurice—And why should he be, when he knows that my feelings are tied up elsewhere?  165
  Henriette—Perhaps he didn’t trust the stability of your feelings.  166
  Maurice—I can’t understand that, seeing that I am notorious for my constancy.  167
  Adolphe—Well, it wasn’t that—  168
  Henriette  [interrupting him]—Perhaps that is because you have not faced the fiery ordeal—  169
  Adolphe—Oh, you don’t know—  170
  Henriette  [interrupting]—for the world has not yet beheld a faithful man.  171
  Maurice—Then it’s going to behold one.  172
  Henriette—Where?  173
[Henriette laughs.]
  Adolphe—Well, that’s going it—  175
  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?  176
  Maurice—I have no right to question your lack of confidence, but I can guarantee that Adolphe is faithful.  177
  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 seeing only 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.]  178
  Adolphe—You are always wrong in your talk and right in your actions. What you really think—that I don’t know.  179
  Henriette—Who does know that kind of thing?  180
  Maurice—Well, if we had to answer for our thoughts, who could clear himself?  181
  Henriette—Do you also have evil thoughts?  182
  Maurice—Certainly; just as I commit the worst kind of cruelties in my dreams.  183
  Henriette—Oh, when you are dreaming, of course. Just think of it. No, I am ashamed of telling—  184
  Maurice—Go on, go on!  185
  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.  186
  Maurice—Was he dead?  187
  Henriette—No, he was living.  188
  Maurice—But that’s horrible! And didn’t it make you suffer?  189
  Henriette—Not at all, and that astonished me most, for I am rather sensitive to other people’s sufferings. Isn’t that so, Adolphe?  190
  Adolphe—That’s right. Rather abnormally so, in fact, and not the least when animals are concerned.  191
  Maurice—And I, on the other hand, am rather callous toward the sufferings both of myself and others.  192
  Adolphe—Now he is not telling the truth about himself. Or what do you say, Madame Catherine?  193
  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.  194
  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?  195
  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.  196
  Maurice—Go ahead! That dream at least need not be long in coming true.  197
  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.  198
  Maurice—How sure you are of victory!  199
  Henriette—Yes, it is written on your face that you are going to win this battle, and I think you must feel that yourself.  200
  Maurice—Why do you think so?  201
  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.  203
  Adolphe—Thank you, but I surrender it to Henriette.  204
  Henriette—But that wouldn’t do?  205
  Adolphe—Why not? And I never go to the theatre anyhow, as I cannot stand the heat.  206
  Henriette—But you will come and take us home at least after the show is over.  207
  Adolphe—If you insist on it. Otherwise Maurice has to come back here, where we shall all be waiting for him.  208
  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?  209
  Adolphe—Wait a little. You have a way of settling things to suit yourself, before other people have a chance to consider them.  210
  Maurice—What is there to consider—whether you are to see your lady home or not?  211
  Adolphe—You never know what may be involved in a simple act like that, but I have a sort of premonition.  212
  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.  213
  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.  214
  Henriette—Do you really have to go?  215
  Adolphe—I must.  216
  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!  218
  Maurice—Do you find anything remarkable in that?  219
  Henriette—It looks as if it had to happen, for Adolphe has done his best to prevent it.  220
  Maurice—Has he?  221
  Henriette—Oh, you must have noticed it.  222
  Maurice—I have noticed it, but why should you mention it?  223
  Henriette—I had to.  224
  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.  225
  Henriette—Why do you tell me about it now?  226
  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.  228
  Henriette—Was that meant as a signal or a warning?  229
  Maurice—Probably both.  230
  Henriette—Do they take me for a locomotive that has to have a flagman ahead of it?  231
  Maurice—And switchmen! The danger is always greatest at the switches.  232
  Henriette—How nasty you can be!  233
  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.  234
  Maurice—Sh, sh, sh!  235
  Henriette  [to Maurice]—The old lady is rather impertinent.  236
  Maurice—We can walk over to the boulevard, if you care to do so.  237
  Henriette—With pleasure. This is not the place for me. I can just feel their hatred clawing at me.  [Goes out.]  238
  Maurice  [starts after her]—Good-bye, Madame Catherine.  239
  Mme. Catherine—A moment! May I speak a word to you, Monsieur Maurice?  240
  Maurice  [stops unwillingly]—What is it?  241
  Mme. Catherine—Don’t do it! Don’t do it!  242
  Maurice—What?  243
  Mme. Catherine—Don’t do it!  244
  Maurice—Don’t be scared. This lady is not my kind, but she interests me. Or hardly that even.  245
  Mme. Catherine—Don’t trust yourself!  246
  Maurice—Yes, I do trust myself. Good-bye.  [Goes out.]

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