|VOLUME XXVI||SUMMER, 1915||NUMBER III|
|A DRAMA IN FIVE ACTS|
|By Frantíšek Adolf Šubert|
|Translated from the Bohemian by Šárka B. Hrbkova.|
|Jan Výrava, a farmer on a nobleman’s estate.|
|Earl of Roveredo-Lanzenfeld.|
|Countes Sylvia||visiting at the Castle of Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld.|
|Matouš, a country judge.|
|Dvořák, a farmer’s son from Kladsko. |
|Jiřík, a musketeer.|
|People from the castle and village people.|
Time: The year 1781.
Place: The castle of the Earl of Roveredo-Lanzenfeld in Eastern Bohemia.
Copyright, 1915, by The Poet Lore Company. All rights reserved.
A park. On the right the castle with a low balcony.
Countess Sylvia and Christina. (On the other side Jeroným passes in huntsman’s garb with pouch, gun and hanger.)
Christine.—Sylvi, look! There he is!
Sylvia (Rises).—Why do you point him out to me?
Christine (Jestingly).—To be sure! I might have realized that you caught sight of him before I did.
Christine.—Again that stubbornness! Haven’t you ever before this sought and followed him with your glance? Doesn’t he occupy your mind more than all the world beside?
Sylvia.—Who can say that?
Christine.—No one. No one has yet raised the veil from your deep secret except—
Christine.—I —your dear faithful Christine. And still even I don’t yet know how that feeling which fills your whole soul was inspired in you. There are still some secrets of human life which I do not understand!
Sylvia.—How that feeling for him was inspired in me! Learn to know him, to understand his noble, dauntless spirit—and you’ll comprehend all.
Christine.—And have you not known anyone like that else where? What about Count Sterneck. You and I both have heard that he is engaged to you. What about Count Morzin?
Sylvia.—Where are they both as compared with Jeroným? How did he act and how did they behave in that moment when he engaged my whole soul’s interest! We were to go for a hunt. Jeroným had been sent ahead to prepare the snares. He had to pass around a cottage on the edge of the forest. “The Glade” they call it. He heard screams and lamentations. What was happening? Two local musketeers, led by the secretary and director Karmín wanted to bind the oldest son of the widow Klen. She lay ill on a bed surrounded by a whole group of smaller children. The son was obliged to earn their bread, and had, therefore, gone for a week to work in the city and had neglected to serve his week of soccage! In addition to that, they claimed that he had taken a piece of wood in the forest for fuel in their home. Whether he was guilty or not I don’t know. But it is certain that Karmín came upon him with his soldiers and wanted to lead him away in chains to perform vassal service and then into prison. What did Karmín care whether or not the whole family died of hunger in the meantime or whether the mother died of fright.
Christine.—That’s terrible! Are such deeds possible?
Sylvia.—Not possible but actual. Young Klen defended himself like a lynx and the two younger brothers—weak little boys—seeing their mother weeping so despairingly, tried to help him. The bailiff seized one of the boys and dashed him to the ground. Young Klen threw himself madly on the bailiff. Heaven only knows what else would have happened. Karmín in fear of the young madman ran out of the hut and seeing Jeroným called him to help against Klen. He, comprehending what had happened, knocked down the two bailiffs and like a young lion placed himself at the defense of the poor family. I don’t want to pass judgment on whether he did right or wrong. I only know that in that instant he displayed a soul more sublime and heroic than I had ever before known in my life. And when Karmín pointed out to him the possible punishment for his act, indeed, in his fury commanded the musketeers to attack Jeroným with weapons, the young hero placed himself resolutely on the threshold of the hut and was ready to seal his deed with his own life.
Christine.—And so it was at that instant that your entire hunting party rode up and you saw what had happened.
Sylvia.—Yes—and we saw him—Jeroným transfigured by his noble championship of the weak—like a hero of olden time—, and Count Morzin and Sterneck? The first, seeing the struggle, fairly quaked with excitement and Sterneck was ready to do Karmín’s will!
Christine.—It was lucky that Earl Roveredo pardoned Jeroným and Klen.
Sylvia.—Yes, he gave pardon.
Christine.—After your fervent pleading, so I heard.
Sylvia.—He forgave because of his own magnanimity, for he is no persecutor of the people—and perhaps to some extent on account of my pleadings.
Christine.—Then it was that moment which inspired in you this ardent feeling for Jeroným—And what, Sylvi—what will come of it? . . .
Sylvia.—Don’t speak of it.—He probably knows nothing of it and I don’t wish to think about it—I am like one in a dream and I am happy when I’m not awakened from it, while undisturbed by the daily tumult. But they are only dreams—and nothing of those dreams must appear in the light of day. Neither he nor the rest of the world must have even a suspicion of what makes me supremely happy at times. And you, too, Christina, must bury it all as deep as have I.
Christine (With a smile).—’Tis buried! I have covered my thoughts and feelings with the rock of calmness but I’ve forgotten to place my eyes beneath the rock! And your eyes, your cheeks betray you, Sylvi, you are incapable of burying your secret, but I can keep silent about it.
Sylvia.—My dear one!
Christine.—Heavens! Jeroným is turning and is hastening hither.
Sylvia.—He has seen us.
Sylvia.—Let us go away.
Christine.—Stay. There is no one here. It would hurt him if he thought you’d run away when you saw him.
Sylvia.—Here he is.
(Jeroným approaches. Seeing the countesses, he stops and greets them respectfully.)
The preceding. Jeroným.
Christine (To Sylvia).—He is taken aback! (To Jeroným) Ah, good youth, why are you frightened by us?
Jeroným.—I fear that I’ve disturbed the peace of the ladies.
Christine.—Not at all. It won’t be quiet here for very long anyway. The celebration of our harvest festival—
Jeroným. Will soon assemble here the people of the villages, yes, of the whole noble domain.
Christine.—Will you also attend the festivities?
Jeroným.—I must go into the forest for three hours. A little later I will arrive.
Christine.—Will you remain here?
Jeroným.—I have an order, gracious Countess, from the chief forester.
Christine.—And I am giving you another. I’ll arrange it with the chief forester. All of us, the earl, our good host, all the noblemen, and especially we, the countess Sylvia and I, will be at the harvest festival. You also will be there.
Jeroným.—I will be most heartily glad to come if only I receive permission.
Christine.—Certainly, certainly, I myself give it and Sylvia also. The head forester must obey us. We shall all attend the harvest-home and we’ll be very merry. We shall dance with the youths from the village and with you, Master Jeroným.
Jeroným.—You will give great joy to the subjects of the estate by observing that old time custom.
Sylvia.—I am not dancing this year.
Christine.—Well, then, I’ll have it announced that I am dancing not only for myself but for the Countess Sylvia also. But why don’t you want to be merry today?
Sylvia.—Good-bye, Master Jeroným, we must go into the castle. (Extends her hand.)
Christine.—Good-bye, dear Master Jeroným. I would address you otherwise but Sylvia is so serious that I dare not be naughty. So I’ll only say, “Good-bye, dear, handsome Master Jeroným.” (Laughing merrily she hastens after Sylvia.)
Jeroným. (Alone, gazing after Sylvia.) Mysterious being—I wonder if I shall ever know whether the glances of your eyes indeed speak the language which I would long to hear! I dare not approach, I dare not even express the belief that one of those glances, perhaps, belongs to me. Just one word, one single word, one instant of fervency and I would be happy in that thought my whole life-time! (Departs, going past the castle from which at the other side come director Karmín, lackeys and servants, carrying tables, chairs, pitchers, etc., into the park.)
Karmín, Secretary, Jiřík.
Karmín.—Put the table, benches and chairs in this place also and prepare plenty of everything. The Earl desires that this year’s harvest festival be celebrated far and wide.
Secretary.—But, begging your pardon, most high-born director, it does seem a little needless to cater so to this peasant folk. The Earl treats them as if they were butter. It’ll take the very devil himself after this, to drive the rascals to work.
Karmín.—That’s the Earl’s old-fashioned system of management to treat these fellows almost as if they were his equals. Whoever heard of the nobility arranging such a celebration for their subjects as is done here? It’s a wonder the Earl himself doesn’t serve this rabble at table.
Secretary.—The scourging whip for them instead of a celebration. (Jiřík enters from right side.)
Jiřík.—So, noble sir, we are ready. There are tables everywhere over the meadow and way up here to the very castle. Now, those churls can come and sit and feast until the tables bend and their own bellies burst. On my soul, when the Earl comes among them and the countesses, everyone of those dunces will think that he at least is a—Ha, ha, ha!
Karmín.—Right you are, my dear fellow. But just serve them well. Yes, today every farmer, aye, every tenant is a greater gentleman, here, than we are. So, see to it that you please them!
Jiřík.—God grant that today we don’t incur the displeasure of some country lob from Lhota! But our director will make it up to them again in vassalage, isn’t that so, high-born sir?
Karmín.—I’ll try, I’ll try. (The village-folk begin arriving by ones and twos. Dvořák approaches without being observed.) Our agricultural nobility are appearing. In a quarter of an hour, roll out the barrels and distribute the food. This will be a delightful day! If only a storm or a rain would come up to scatter them all. (Departs.)
Dvořák.—Don’t fear! That storm will some day burst upon you, you cursed off-scourings, and it will disperse you to the ends of the earth, you scabs on the body of the people—the people from whom you, yourselves are descended. And God grant that the storm come soon, very soon,—may it burst without warning and strike into you with a hundred lightnings and crush out your very roots!
Matouš.—I say, I repeat we have a good and gracious nobility. There is no better man far or wide than our gracious Earl.
Kyral.—But that director—well—now, if some one would only rid us of him!
Matouš.—And I again say that you snarl at him without cause. The esteemed director is a worthy gentleman, a worthy gentleman, I say, and he likes us.
Kyral.—As much as a gelding likes a colt.
Matouš.—But, my good man, what are you saying? He himself told me that he likes us.
Kyral.—Well, if he told you, then it must be the holy truth. But, I say, Judge Matouš, who is it makes our feudal service harder and harder? Everywhere else they are remitting and easing up on vassal labor but the director is constantly adding to our burdens.
Matouš.—I say, those are queer speeches. The nobility is of God himself and feudal service is the right of the nobility, and the director is as if of the nobility. The director told me himself that he would not favor any easing up. And when it won’t do, why even the director himself can’t break the rule.
Kyral.—It won’t do—that’s an understood thing—unless the devil takes the whole system of feudalism along with the director and his beadles.
Matouš.—My good man, I say, that’s enough. You’d do better if you’d fear God more and would dig less into those old books in which you bury yourself like a worm. They will mix you up in the head. I am the judge—today we are the guests of the gracious nobility—and so I say and repeat—enough of these foolish remarks.
Řehák.—At any rate let’s not bruise our brains thinking about such things today. (Gradually people come in from various sides. Dvořák steps up to the front towards the farmers.)
Preceding, later Králíček.
Dvořák.—And let’s rather be like God’s trees along the highway. They grow, grow excellently, let themselves be plucked of fruit and perhaps allow themselves to be felled and burned—and still they never utter a sound. Good, good, my fine neighbors. The Lord give you greeting and the director give you greater burdens.
Matouš.—I say, what and who is this fellow? I say, where are you from?
Dvořák.—Well, well, no harm intended. (Bitterly) I just let fly a foolish jest. I am a countryman of yours from Krčín.
Matouš.—From Krčín? I know Krčín as well as my own village—but I’ve never seen you there. And that costume of yours.
Králíček.—That isn’t our costume, that’s from Silesia or Kladsko.
Dvořák (Caustically).—And yet I’m from Krčín. I am the son of Dvořák—that Dvořák who moved to Kladsko.
Kyral.—On account of religious faith and vexation to the nobles. He ran away from an estate, like hundreds of others.
Matouš.—Hear! Hear!—a Calvinist! His father thrashed a nobleman’s musketeer.
Kyral.—And is your father living? And are you his son?
Dvořák.—He still lives but winter is coming into his body and his head is as white as the cottage roof at Christmas time!
Matouš.—A Calvinist! Have nothing to do with him! (Walks away from him.)
Kyral.—And how are you and the other Bohemians there, getting along?
Dvořák.—Oh, we get along! We have preserved our religious belief, but we are losing our language. We are sinking like a cradle with a child in it during a flood. Oh, I wonder that God can look down on all that violence!
Kyral.—He would have many cares, my son, if he tried to protect one against all the vileness.
Dvořák.—There and here also! I was a child when we ran away to Kladsko. Do you know why?
Kyral.—I know, I know. It’s just the same as elsewhere; the nobility, during a wet summer, demanded double vassal service. Dvořák was well-to-do and wouldn’t go to serve on Sunday and when they came for him with chains, he beat up the musketeer, threw him out on the verandah and that very day he ran away from the estate with his wife and two children.
Dvořák.—He bought a small estate near Kladsko. He sent me to school and at home he brought us up to love our mother country which I had scarcely known. He also taught us to hate the nobility. I grew up and with fervent heart hastened to Bohemia. Under an assumed name I went to Krčín to view the home under whose roof I was born. But it exists no longer. The nobleman’s servants avenged the musketeer, burned the buildings—and my fathers’ fields—the over lord united to his own.
Kyral.—And what then do you seek in this country? Don’t go into New Town! If they should recognize you there, you would be punished for your father’s deed! (The judge with Králíček pass behind the scenes.)
Dvořák.—I’m not going back to Krčín—it almost broke my heart to be there. And what do I now seek in this country? I seek people, I seek spirit, I seek strength—but everywhere I find only slavery. I thought that the new era of your Emperor Joseph had kindled a spark not only in the heads of the intellectual but also in the hearts of the village folk. But I learn that the people are still shackled by feudalism as a bull is fettered by his yoke—sad and oppressive it is in the Bohemian fatherland!
Kyral.—Behold—a man such as God loves! But give heed lest you betray yourself by your bitterness. That nobleman’s servant, our judge, looked at you askance. He is dull enough to go at once and denounce you to the local director.
Dvořák.—There is no need for me to fear anything. I have a passport here (Striking his pocket) showing that I am a Prussian subject. Unless I commit a crime, no one will dare to touch me.
The Preceding. Matouš. Neighbors.
Matouš (Arrives with six farmers). So, so, neighbors. When our gracious nobility appear among us, we must all shout loudly, “Long live our gracious nobility! Vivat Hieronymus!”
Králíček.—Hyreonomus—Why I’ll twist my tongue to pieces with that.
Matouš.—Hieronymus—I say, that means in Bohemian, Jeroným, our Earl.
Králíček.— Well, then, I’ll say “Vivát the Earl.”
Matouš.—And then: “Vivát the whole gracious nobility!”
Matouš.—And then: “Vivát the director!”
Králíček.—But, allow me, judge Matouš— The director isn’t of the nobility.
Matouš.—But the nobility must see how we like him.
Králíček.—Then, upon my soul, I won’t say a word—in order that the nobility may know that we can’t stomach him.
Matouš.—I say, neighbor, that won’t do. Even if the director is a disagreeable guest, nevertheless we must— —
Králíček.— —swallow him.
Matouš (With raised voice).— —do what he desires. He told me that we are to shout “Vivát” for him, also, and so we shall hurrah for him!
Neighbors.—Well, then, we shall.
Matouš.—I say, we shall. Výrava, also, will tell you to do so, when he arrives. I wish he were here now! But he always lets himself be waited for just like the nobility!
Králíček.—There he comes!
Dvořák (To Kyral).—Who is this Výrava?
Kyral.—He is the foremost farmer in the village and practically on the entire domain. He has an estate in Meziřící. It used to be in the court of a landed nobleman. But the noble line died out. The government graciously left the estate to the last noble woman of the name. Výrava’s grandfather married her and the present Výrava is of the gentry and a great upholder of the nobility.
Dvořák.—How is that?
Kyral.—He is wealthy and is besides a very sensible and honest man. He has given good advice to many and now every one holds him in great esteem. People come to him away from the mountains for advice. The nobles, therefore, cultivate him. That flatters him and so he does what the ruling class desires. A noble churl he is! He christened his younger son—Jeroným after the Earl. Just think! Whoever heard of a villager being named Jeroným! He sent him to Hradec to school and now to the forestry bureau of the castle. He wants to make a gentleman of him. Lord strike it all some day with your thunder! Every nobleman’s neatherd counts for more nowadays than a feudal farmer!
Králíček.—Výrava is coming.
Dvořák. (Pointing towards the front).—Is that Výrava?
Kyral.—It is. Observe him. He isn’t coming alone. After him must come his older son and all his servants. A complete noble retinue. He strides as if he were four men instead of one—and yet is no better than we—a simple peasant.
The preceding. Výrava with his servants, Václav.
Matouš and Neighbors.—Ho! Ho! Výrava, Výrava! (They greet him.)
Výrava.—God’s greeting to you, neighbors. My good fellow, God’s greetings! Uncle, how fares it with you? Alone, alone? Where is the mother and daughter? Well, we’re going to have a glorious harvest festival this year. Our gracious nobility sent me a special message to be sure to come with all my household. Well, the nobility is indeed gracious.
Kyral (To Dvořák).—He also knew your father.
Dvořák (To Výrava).—I am the son of Dvořák of Krčín. God greet you!
Výrava.—Dvořák of Krčín—ah yes, now of Kladsko. I knew your father but not you. God’s greetings!
Dvořák.—All the neighbors here praise you.
Výrava (Egotistically).—Well, we are good neighbors. One doesn’t besmirch another.
Dvořák.—And you are in great favor with the nobility.
Výrava.—I have a good son in service there—, so that at least one of the Výravas might become something more than a farmer.
Kyral.—Well, and your other son Václav. Isn’t he a worthy fellow?
Výrava.—Indeed, Václav is good and worthy! (Pats him on the shoulder.) But he lives as I do for the plow and furrow.
Dvořák.—And that, then, is less than lordly service? Sit in judgment on this, Jehovah, and open the eyes of the blind. (Departs with Kyral.)
Výrava.—What speech is this! Can there be in you as in your father— —
Matouš.—Never mind him, neighbor. I think he has slipped a cog up here (Pointing to his forehead.) I also have had words with him—Here some neighbors thought that — —
(Passes off stage with Výrava.)
Králíček, Mad Martin, Dvořák, Neighbors.
Mad Martin. (At each third step he jumps on one foot). So many people! So many people! I wonder what’s happening? There must be a funeral at the castle, a big funeral. Did the Earl die—or a lot of noble herdsmen? Uncle, uncle, will there be a funeral?
Králíček.—Oh, Martin! A funeral! Funeral! Just hear, Martin thinks there’s to be a funeral here today—and we’re going to have the harvest festival.
Martin.—Harvest festival? Harvest festival? I say, uncle, I’d guess it to be a funeral.
Králíček.—Hard to talk with a madman! I repeat, Martin,—harvest festival.
Dvořák.—Who is that man?
Kyral.—That’s crack-brained Martin. He used to be the village herdsman. Once his sheep ran into the overlord’s land. The nobleman’s herders laid him across the merestone and beat him so that they left him more dead than alive.
Dvořák.—The infernal scoundrels!
Kyral.—Finally he got up—gradually recovered from most of his wounds, except one on his head which deprived him of his reason. He walks as in springs and leaps, is confused in his speech but otherwise he’s a good sort of madman. Sometimes he is content to sit in the fields or forests two or three days—until hunger again drives him back among human beings.
Dvořák.—And all caused by those vicious good-for-nothings! Oh, people, people, why don’t you rise up and let those tyrants feel at least a share of what you must suffer!
The People (Behind the scenes near the castle).—The nobility! Our gracious nobility! Long live our gracious nobles!
Enter, Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld with Lady Lanzenfeld, Sylvia, Christina, accompanied by two other ladies and Counts Sterneck and Morzin. Director Karmín and four servants, several foresters. Matouš and the rest depart with the people behind the scenes. Most of the people are poorly dressed. Later Bětuška arrives.)
Matouš.—Long live the Earl!
Shouting of People.—Vivát the Earl!
Matouš.—Vivát the gracious nobility!
Shouting.—Vivát the gracious nobility!
Matouš—Vivát also the high-born director!
(Silence. Here and there laughter.)
Karmín (shrieking hoarsely).—Rabble, cursed rabble!
Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld (In a low voice).—Hush, Karmín! (Aloud to the people.) Thank you, my beloved people, for your good-will and affection. May God strengthen and preserve you in it.
Neighbors.—Vivát the Earl and the gracious nobility!
Matouš.—Gracious lords—I say—I repeat—that we— that is—crave your affection. We—the judge—the councillors, the whole village and also the other judges—we—we—like the gracious nobility—why, of course, how could it be otherwise! (At a loss for words.) And so—long life to our gracious nobility.
Shouts.—Long life! Long life!
Earl.—You are kind, judge, and you all are kind, I am glad to be among you. Only attend needfully. And here is my dear Výrava. Well, how goes everything on your estate? All well?
Výrava.—Beneficent lord, all goes well. While I enjoy your noble favor, all is well.
Earl.—I am satisfied.
Výrava. (Thanks the Earl and departs with him towards the rear).
Sylvia. (In the foreground).—Everything is so beautiful—everything seems desirous of being merry—and yet, to me it is as if a cloud lay on these people. Not in all their faces is there a glow of real pleasure.
Christine.—But what an illusion of your own half blind eyes. I will wager my pony that everything will look more joyous to Countess Sylvia in a little while.
Christine.—Just as soon as there appears to the light of these eyes (looking into Sylvia's eyes)—someone—someone—who is not yet here— —
Sylvia.—You little tease! Look, what a pretty girl.
Christine. (Motioning to Karmín).—Who is that girl?
Karmín.—Bětuška, daughter of Kyral of the village. He’s another rebel like—
Christine.—Bětuška Kyral, are you looking for someone?
Bětuška.—No, no, gracious ladies—only—I’m only looking—
Sylvia.—You are such a pretty girl. But how is it that you haven’t even a necklace of garnets or corals? Don’t you want mine? (Unfastens her bead necklace.)
Bětuška (Frightened).—No, for Heaven’s sake, please, no, no—forgive me, I cannot breathe, I cannot stay. (Runs away.)
Sylvia.—What is the matter with that girl?
Karmín.—Oh, she’s a stupid, peasant girl. She is shy and afraid. (One of the cavaliers talks with Karmín. Jeroným steps out of the castle without his gun.)
Jeroným and preceding.
Sylvia.—Why do you call him?
Christine.—My dear Master Jeroným, you have shown such obedience that I must praise and reward you. During the harvest celebration, you are to stay by my side and you are only to serve the needs of myself and Countess Sylvia.
Jeroným.—Such a distinction. . . .
Christine.—Countess Sylvia reprimands me but be assured that it doesn’t worry me a particle. She’d like to have me obey her constantly and I can’t mind anyone on earth.
Sylvia.—Count Sterneck, your arm.
Jeroným (Hearing her request, to himself).—Always so cold!
Sylvia (To Christine).—Aren’t you going to join the procession?
Christine.—But where is my cavalier, my tiny cousin, Count Morzin? Why, I’ve lost him completely! I am without an escort.
Sylvia.—Count Morzin—Countess Christina wants you.
Morzin (steps forward).
Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld.—Well, then, to the meadow. Let the festivities begin and then the dance. Give the signal to the musicians!
(The village musicians play the “Skočná” while all depart for the forest. Bětuška enters from the right and heedful to remain unseen, she observes Jeroným.)
Christine.—Look, Sylvia, where did you leave your fan—your lovely fan? Here in the forest there are gnats and mosquitoes. They will sting you, if you don’t defend yourself. Master Jeroným, will you go for the fan? But you must fly back to us.
Jeroným.—It will be a pleasure to serve you if (bowing to Sylvia) the Countess consents.
Sylvia (with a joyous smile).—Be so kind. (They depart at the left to the forest, Jeroným going across stage to the castle. The music grows more distant, becomes fainter and its echoes are broken at times by distant cries and merry shouts.)
Bětuška.—There he goes and I hardly dare even to call to him—Jeroným! (Jeroným does not hear.) Jeroným!
Jeroným (stops and looks around).—Bětuška! I’m busy, Bětuška!
Bětuška.—So busy that you cannot speak even a few words to me?
Jeroným.—What do you wish to say to me?
Bětuška.—What do I wish to say to you? Everything, everything and—nothing. I would tell you that I’m sad, that I could weep—but why should I tell you? You are gay—everything around you is gay, only I—I alone have no joy. That little bird twitters, sings, the turtle-dove in the orchard coos and the chicks joyously root about in the ashes. Only I am sad, only I sit silent on the verandah or in the courtyard, or I weep, weep at home in my little room.
Jeroným. And what is the cause of all this?
Bětuška.—Don’t you know—how am I to tell you!
Bětuška.—I know, I know, things will never be better and you, Jeroným, will not even look at me. And why should your eyes even glance at me when they will never be mine? Everything on earth is happy except I—Bětuška.
Jeroným (Takes her hand).—Because you don’t want to be happy. How glad brother Václav would be if you would show him the least favor.
Bětuška.—You can’t overturn the mountains, and you can’t make over the heart. Neither yours nor mine. I know Václav cares for me—but I know only of one heart. And you, in turn, know only one.—Another! (Quickly.) I know, I alone know what has bewitched you—I alone. Don’t say anything. None of the other people suspect, but I am able to read in your eyes and I know—that you look—high—high up! ’Tis well. What is the wild thyme on the mere to the blossom from the noble garden!
Jeroným. Bětuška! I must go to the castle.
Bětuška.—Go, go, and don’t be angry—if you should ever meet me anywhere again. (Sobbing.) Jeroným! Jeroným!
Jeroným.—Bětuška, I cannot stay. God bless you! (Hastens into castle.)
(Václav enters from forest.)
Václav (In a subdued voice).—He goes and she is left in tears. (Threateningly.) If he were only anyone else but my brother! (Aloud, challengingly.) So you two have met! He has thoughts who knows where, and your thoughts are on him—a fine gentleman. Václav Výrava is too common for you, but Jeroným Výrava who is to become a lord—he is the right lad for you.
Bětuška.—How you speak of him.
Václav.—Not otherwise than he himself desires and as our father desires. Jeroným is everything everywhere and I not anything—to anyone—not even to you! The painted dandy! I’ve been swallowing bitter pills for several years, God help me if I should some day forget myself! Are you going to the harvest festival?
(Jeroným steps out of the castle and hastens past.)
Bětuška.—I shall not go. I am going home.
Václav.—Then go—there’ll be other girls down on the meadow. (With a challenge in his voice.) Because of one girl to break my heart! Today I’ll be gay, today I’ll shout! (Bětuška runs away timidly. Václav to himself bitterly.) But more likely with wrath and not with merriment! (A soldier’s bugle sounds playing a cavalry march. Václav departing, pauses.) What’s that? Our band? No, those are soldiers. (Runs towards the rear.)
People running out of the forest. Václav. Later Captain Charvát, a bugler and soldiers. Slavík and Hruška. The bugle ceases. Řehák, later Karmín.
Charvát (Behind the scenes).—Dismount, and one of you go with the horses to the court-yard. (To the people.) Ho, friends, is the Earl in the castle or hereabouts?
Řehák.—In the park at the harvest festival.
Charvát. (Enters with bugler and the soldier Slavík. A small boy rushes towards the forest.)—At the harvest festival? We came in good time. We’ll enjoy something. And where is director Karmín?
Voices.—He’s there, too. (Other people come from the forest, among them Karmín.)
Charvát.—All the better.
Other Voices.—Here he comes.
Karmín (To the officer).—Rare visitors. I am director of the domain, Karmín. Shall I announce you to the gracious Earl?
Charvát. (Introducing himself).—Captain Charvát, messenger of Royal Decrees of the district government of Hradec. I am bringing letters patent which will probably not please you much.
Karmín (Frightened).—What is it?
Charvát.—His Majesty, our Emperor, Joseph II, abolishes subjection to overlords and extensively cuts down all feudal service.
Karmín.—For God’s sake!
Charvát.—Feudalism is not wholly abolished as yet, but he modifies and limits to the very smallest degree the services to be rendered by the peasants. Those who formerly labored for the overlord three days in the week, are to work hereafter only one day. And, in addition, whoever wishes, can ransom himself of even that one day’s service by payment of a petty two groats.
Karmín (Terrified).—Lord, Lord, so it is really finally coming to this!
Charvát.—I see that I haven’t pleased you.
Karmín.—What will it lead to! The nobility will be ruined and the rabble will rule.
Charvát.—I don’t know anything about it. It’s none of my affair. Just so that the taxes are paid regularly, particularly the military taxes. But after this bitter pill I have for the gentleborn nobility, a sweeter one—and after that—for you yourself, Mr. Director, one of the sweetest.
Charvát.—The construction of the new fort at Ples which very likely will be named Josefov after our Lord, the Emperor, is progressing very rapidly. We will bury in it several millions but with it we’ll forge for our good Prussian friends a very hard problem. The commander of the fort has now requested the district government to invite the surrounding nobility to contribute in the very near future from their domains, twenty thousand trees for the building of the fort.
Karmín.—Twenty thousand trees. . . .
Charvát.—The purchase and delivery of them is of course put in charge of a private commissioner. The district government is only to facilitate the matter. The commissioner will make a few fine groats on the lumber. He can also pay the nobility well—even to those who will see to it that they deliver the desired lumber in time at the fort.
Karmín (With growing attention).—Perhaps we could serve—
Charvát.—If it is possible to deliver within two months five thousand trees from your immense forest domain, the contractor is willing to give to him who takes the pains twenty krejcarý for each tree.
Karmín.—Not five—at least ten thousand trees I could deliver from this estate—if only— —
Karmín.—If only there hadn’t come just now that terrible misfortune in the cutting down of feudal service.
Charvát.—That doesn’t have to be any hindrance.
Charvát.—His majesty, our beneficent Emperor and King, doesn’t desire that as a result of this change any sudden or great difficulty for the nobility should follow. He orders therefore, in this edict, that noblemen may either grant relief immediately to subjects or wait until half a year has passed. Only then will the patent become an effectual law.
Karmín.—The delivery of the lumber is so important for our nobility that it must be accomplished under our present system of vassal service. Yes, indeed, in order to procure the wood in time we must change the present light field vassalage to six months of heavy forest labor. (Confidentially.) But the Earl will learn nothing of the reward the contractor promises.
Charvát.—God defend! That’s only between us. And if you could deliver the entire ten thousand trunks of trees, we have won. I will receive praise from the commander, a reward from the commissioner—what could I wish for more? And you will earn ten thousand and twenty krejcar pieces!
Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld approaches. Slavík.
Karmín.—Come, please, into the castle. Ah, but here comes the Earl.
Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld.—My people told me that delightful company had arrived. I welcome you, Sir Captain.
Charvát.—Captain Charvat, at your service, gracious Earl.
Earl.—Out for drill? With a larger division?
Charvát.—As bearer of a royal edict.
Earl.—And what—why, Karmín, do you look so sour?
Karmín.—Oh, your Grace,—a great, great disaster—let us say, a great misfortune.
Earl.—Misfortune! (Looks at Charvát.)
Charvát. (With a smile.)—Ah no, but a very serious thing.
Earl.—Come into the castle.
Charvát.—At your service. (To the soldiers.) Ho, Slavík, Hruška! (Both approach. Charvát in lowered tones but emphatically.) Don’t either of you say a single word about feudalism! I will fine with the most severe punishment any one who utters a word! (To Karmín.) In Smeřicko, by an unfortunate accident, the royal decree was discussed in their presence.
Slavík.—Command us, Captain. Not a word!
(The Earl, Charvát and Karmín depart.)
The Others. Old Mrs. Sedmihradský, later Maršálek, Matouš, Výrava.
Sedmihradská.—Well, my fine little soldier lad, you are indeed a handsome youth. And how becoming your uniform is. Now, where are you from? From near by or from far away?
Slavík.—Just see even yet how the double faced cloth appeals to an old hag! You are very pretty, to be sure, but believe me, if I could take a young girl around the waist as I do you, I’d feel a lot lightsomer around the heart. (Whirls her around.)
Sedmihradská.—Mr. Soldier, Mis-ter Sol-dier! For Jesus’ sake and his holy martyrdom! My breath—br-eath—I can’t catch! That’s a—that’s a nimble youth! Well, you can dance with younger ones today. We have the harvest festival.
Voices.—We’ll dance—we’ll all dance.
Řehák.—And now bring a table here. Hola, beer for the soldiers. (The soldier Maršálek approaches with a pitcher in his hand. He is already intoxicated.)
Slavík.—Maršálek! Maršálek! He certainly is feeling fine.
Maršálek.—Yes, Maršálek, your brother comrade Maršálek. They looked to my wants in the courtyard because I am Maršálek but they didn’t worry about you because one of you is only a bugler and the other a common soldier. You see, good people, you’d think when you look at me that I, too, am only a common soldier, but still I’m a little marshal!
Slavík.—That’s the sacred truth! Only because a marshal holds a stick in his hand. And the stick is usually riding your back.
Maršálek.—And yet everybody has to call me Little Marshal and not “Slavík” as they do you or Hruska—to you. You are our bugler and our nightingale and this is our mealy fruit—or, I meant to say—pear. But / am the Little Marshal!
Matouš.—I say and repeat it—those are gay boys. (Greets them.) Good health to you! Drink, soldiers, drink.
Výrava.—Bring them plenty of everything. Food too. No one gets a chance to overeat in the army. Let them enjoy something good.
Maršálek.—But first of all, drink. We still have a long journey ahead of us, so let the soul be strengthened.
Slavík.—We must go to New Town yet today. It’s the devil’s own work that we can’t stay here. We’ve struck a good place here.
Maršálek.—What the devil! Why not have a sensible word with the Captain. (Puts himself into a pose.) I obediently announce, Mr. Captain, that we are faring well here and that it would be a sin against our ruler, the Emperor, and against God if we moved away from here as long as we don’t have to. When we have in this confounded war such drudgery, torture and hard treatment, let’s for once take a holiday!
Matouš.—Oh, well, as to hard treatment—that isn’t so bad. What about us poor people! You are gentlemen compared to us!
Řehák and Voices.—Feudalism! The director! And all the nobility’s servants!
Maršálek.—Feudalism! Feudalism! What a fuss you make about it. Compared to soldiering, that’s . . . And then, thunder! Brothers, comrades! Feudalism? Ha, ha, ha, feudalism? I’ll tell you some news about feudalism that will make you shout! Feudalism— —
Maršálek.—Comrade! Is that the way you go at me? Am I subordinated to you? Am I not a soldier and you only a bugler? And we did bring the tidings that feudalism— —
Slavík.—Not a word!
Řehák and Voices. (A rustle and hum.)—He knows something! What is it? Hear! Let him tell!
Maršálek.—And why not? I have the same right— —
Slavík.—The Captain strictly forbade it! Not a mutter!
Maršálek (Screaming).—And so only you dare to scream and I not? I tell you, farmers, that feudalism— —
Slavík.—You know nothing—don’t even murmur!
Maršálek.—I don’t know anything? I’ll show you whether I don’t know.
Slavík (To Hruška).—Go and get the Captain. (Hruška runs away.)
Řehák and Voices.—Let him speak! The greatest curiosity is apparent. People talk excitedly with Slavík and separate him from Maršálek. Voices to Marsálek.) What is it? Tell us. Here is a twenty krejcar piece. You’ll get more. (They pour out beer for him.)
Maršálek.—I don’t want your twenty krejcar piece for a soldier must never let himself be bribed to do anything. (In a low voice.) But I tell you, that you are fools, churls (Angry movement among his hearers) and something even worse if you perform vassal service any more. (Aloud.) We brought a decree that feudalism is abolished.
Řehák and Voices.—Decree? From whom? From the emperor? From Vienna?
Maršálek.—From Hradec, from the district government, but there they got it from our ruler the Emperor Joseph II.
Řehák and Neighbors (Singly).—Feudalism has fallen! It is no more. We have no more service! Who would have thought it? Feudalism abolished!
Charvát (Comes hastily from the castle with Hruška).—What is happening?
Slavík (Pointing to Maršálek).—He has told all! I couldn’t keep him from it!
Charvát.—A thousand bullets into you, you good-for-nothing! Take him away and put him on the block. Throw him onto the hard stone and in an hour apply fifty lashes! (The soldiers lead Maršálek away).
The Preceding. Dvořák and Kyral. Two Farmers relating everything to them.
Řehák and Voices.—See! He betrayed the truth! Feudalism has fallen!
Kyral.—That’s possible and certain! Our good Emperor Joseph long ago wished to abolish it. Now he has annulled it. Long live Emperor Joseph II. Vivát!
Řehák and Voices.—Vivát! Vivát! We will bury feudalism!
Mad Martin.—Why, I said there was going to be a funeral! Now they’re going to bury.
Dvořák.—If God has granted that I came in this great moment I want to be happy because of it to the end of my life. Liberty is coming for the people, their fetters will fall and they will stand free where up to this instant they have been slaves of the castles! (Points to castle).
Matouš (Angrily).—Such—such—such speeches should not be allowed! I say— —
Výrava.—Slowly, slowly, neighbor, don’t believe fairy-tales off-hand. Who knows what and how— —
Kyral.—We’ll find that out at once. Let us send to the castle for the Earl to have the letters patent read to us.
Řehák and Voices.—Let us go to the castle. We must find out.
Karmín (Steps out on balcony).—What’s happening here?
Cries.—Feudalism has fallen! Glory to our Emperor!
Karmín.—Have you eaten henbane that you rave so? In the name of the gracious Earl I announce to you that after tomorrow all field feudalism will be changed to forest and draught service. And that continues for four months until by service ten thousand tall trees have been felled and hauled to Ples.
Kyral.—By all the hells! Instead of the easy field vassalage—heavy forest labor?
Řehák.—We want to hear the edict!
Other Voices.—Yes, yes, read the patent!
Karmín.—Who knows about the patent?
Řehák and Voices.—All of us, all of us!
Karmín (To himself. Trembling).—What devil gave them this news?
Řehák and Voices.—We are no longer in subjection. Feudalism is abolished.
Karmín (Decisively).—You were maliciously deceived. By the Emperor’s decree, nothing is as yet changed.
Řehák and Voices.—That’s a lie!
Karmín.—Only after half a year some changes are to take place. But—
Řehák and Voices.—It’s a lie! It’s a lie! Read us the patent!
Karmín.—The patent is for the nobility not for you! Go back to the meadow and the festivities and cease your rebellion.
Kyral.—To the castle to the Earl! The Earl will tell us the truth!
Karmín.—Don’t one of you dare move a step!
Řehák and Voices.—Let’s go, all of us, let’s go!
Matouš.—I say, neighbor,—I repeat—
Kyral.—We’ll all go. Králíček, Řehák, Výrava!
Karmín.—Don’t go, Výrava! (Hastens away).
Výrava.—Quietly, neighbors, quietly! What is true and right, no one will deny. The Earl is a just nobleman—
Kyral.—Aha, you are so soaked up with the nobles that you are the scourgers’ servant? So, so, hold well to them, that not only out of your son but out of you they may make a would-be gentleman, a would-be director! Ho! for shame, neighbor! (To the rest.) We will go to the castle!
A General Cry.—To the castle! To the castle!
(All rush past the balcony into the castle.)
Výrava.—Have I suddenly become a scarecrow for the mockery of vermin? Am I a toothless wolf or a blind owl, that anyone dares talk to me like that? I am Výrava and God is my witness that I won’t brook such humiliation!
(The curtain falls.)
Výrava, Kyral and Dvořák
The Same Scenery
Kyral (Runs out of castle).—Výrava! Výrava!
Výrava (Who is just leaving stage).—How dare you call me?
Kyral.—I do dare! I do dare! Not I, Kyral—we all call you. The Earl does not want to admit any of us but you. Karmín is with him and is instigating him against us.
Výrava.—And what’s that to me?
Kyral.—God is calling us to freedom—and you remain cold?
Výrava.—Ah, good neighbor. A while ago you insulted me—and in almost the same instant you return to ask me to help those who laughed in scorn at me?
Dvořák (Runs out quickly).—Výrava! Výrava! How much longer will you delay? If your own family and your people are dear to you, hasten to speak in their name before the nobility. The people are aroused and threaten to storm the castle. The musketeers have thrust them out of the court yard and have closed the gates before them. Hurry, Výrava and give ear to the voice of God. Our Saviour has risen and is casting off the yoke from his people. Be His executive hand!
Výrava.—Though you are all seized with insanity, I will not rave. I stand on the side of the nobility.
Dvořák.—And so shall I lash and shoot those people from whom I have myself sprung, I shall beat and strike down those who are blood of my body and bones of my limbs! O Výrava—for shame to the depths of your soul!
Výrava.—Stop, insolent fool, or I’ll beat and crush you to death first of all!
Dvořák.—Take my life—but understand—understand—and cling to your own people! Don’t you see that the nobility or more likely their servants want to retard the liberty which the Emperor has sent? Why don’t they want to read the edict?
(From a distance a tumult, and many voices).—To the Castle! Open! We’ll break down the gate! The edict! The edict!
Kyral.—Do you hear how they are storming in front of the castle? Ho! A tempest is blowing which will overturn trees. Výrava, Výrava, beware lest it destroy you, too!
Řehák and Others of the People. (Behind the scenes).—Kyral, Dvořák, Výrava!
Dvořák.—Well, if you don’t want to hear your people, they will manage without you. They are calling us. Come, Kyral.
(Both hasten away).
From the other side Karmín enters from the castle. Stops, frightened but determined.
Karmín.—Výrava! Come quickly with me through the side gate to the castle. Speak to those madmen! Tell them to yield—or I’ll give the order to shoot!
Karmín.—To shoot, I say. For this is insurrection.
Výrava.—To shoot! What wrong have they done? They only want to hear the Emperor’s edict!
Karmín.—Edict here, edict there. Just now they want to storm the castle. Will you allow them to loosen the reins of their fierceness in the castle?
Výrava.—I stand responsible for it that they will do nothing of the sort. A few words from me and unless Satan has entered their heads, they will heed me.
Karmín.—Excellent! But at the same time you must give them a serious talk about that edict.
Výrava.—That is another matter, Mr. Director. Show me the edict and if it does not abolish feudalism at once, they will go on serving. And read it to them, I say. Who of us will fear the truth?
Karmín.—The edict does not completely repeal feudalism nor at once either!—
Výrava.—All the better for you. And when is feudalism to cease?
Karmín.—Never. It is only to be diminished—and that only after six months.
Výrava.—Then read the edict.
Karmín.—I won’t read it. Just as soon as they learn that feudalism is to be lessened after a while, they would stop working right away. And it’s very important to me—to the nobility just now that they labor somewhat more than heretofore.
Výrava.—The forest and draught service announced is three times as hard as the ordinary field service. And for what purpose?
Karmín.—We are to deliver ten thousand trees for the construction of Fort Ples. We will thus cancel a part of the debt on the domain.
Výrava.—So it’s for money—(Searchingly) and only for the nobility?
Karmín.—For the nobility.
Výrava.—To drive people to vassal service when perhaps they don’t even have to serve any more?
Karmín.—Cease vain speeches. You know how the Earl esteems you. Show him, for once, your gratitude. The People (Behind the scenes near the castle).—Výrava! Director! Attack the castle!
Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld steps out on balcony, after him. Jiřík. The Others.
Earl.—Where is director Karmín?
Jiřík.—He was hurrying to the park—here he stands.
Earl.—Come to me! (Wishes to go.)
Výrava.—Gracious Earl, do not fear. If I get the word of your Grace—I will pacify them.
Výrava.—That, happen what may, justice will be done to the people.
Výrava (Rejoicing).—I trust I may arrange it all. (Goes to the people.)
Earl.—I quiver with horror at the thought—“If Výrava does not manage to make them tractable.”
Karmín.—Don’t fear, your Grace. Výrava is the ram after which all the sheep follow. Just so that we win today. The farmers’ hot heads will cool off over night. Tomorrow they will go into the forests to serve and we will gain the sum by which we can reduce the debt which was much increased by your last visit to Vienna.
Earl.—Are you sure of it?
Karmín.—I know the peasant class pretty well.
Earl.—But what if they don’t obey Výrava?
Karmín.—Then nothing remains but to quell it all by force.
Earl.—I would rather yield to them completely just so that we avoid an insurrection.
Karmín.—To yield to them now would signify to submit to them forever and inspire them to a bloody rebellion. There have been several here in this Hradec district. But let us go away and let Výrava act in the meantime.
Výrava, Dvořák, Kyral, Králíček, Matouš, People.
From all sides opposite the castle.
Kyral.—And how does the Earl intend to do us justice?
Králíček.—What did he promise?
Dvořák.—Will they read us the edict?
Výrava.—He gave his word that he would do the right thing by us. He promised nothing definite.
Řehák and Others.—Aha! There you have it! Deceit! Trickery! And then they’ll laugh at us!
Výrava.—But I am convinced that the Earl’s word— —
Řehák and Voices.—The Director’s!
Kyral.—Those are words for the wind—and a mere ruse! If the Earl means well by us, let him read the edict to us.
Řehák and Voices.—That’s it! That’s what we want!
Kyral.—Go into the castle, Výrava, with the ultimatum—either the edict or insurrection. Let them choose.
Řehák and Voices.—That’s it! That way and no other.
Výrava (With a sign of hopelessness goes away).
(The people stand in groups talking excitedly. Some walk about. In the front Kyral, Dvořák, Matouš, Králíček, and six farmers.)
Dvořák (Stepping to the front).—And I say brothers, that you ought not to mediate any more.
Králíček.—And what do you think, boy, that we ought to do?
Dvořák (Pointing to the castle).—Set fire and destroy that bulwark of your slavery.
Králíček.—Well, yes—but with only one earls domain, what can we accomplish?
Dvořák.—Make the start and don’t delve further. Cast your deed into the course of the world like a seed into the ground and don’t ask what it will bring forth. From your deed there will break out a great conflagration which will consume everything that long ago should have been destroyed.
Kyral.—Yes. Yes. Ho, neighbors, brothers, what do you think?
Králíček.—If the Emperor gave out the edict for the abolition of subjection and feudalism, we surely can’t be deprived of its benefits.
(The people assemble.)
Dvořák.—Do your eyes continue blind? Didn’t Emperor Joseph want to abrogate feudalism long ago? Didn’t the nobles do everything possible to change him from his determination? And isn’t it plain that even now they want to keep secret the published edict and after a time nullify it? Don’t let them nullify it!
Řehák and Voices of All the Rest.—It is true! It is true!
Dvořák.—Don’t say that there are too few of us. Everyone in the domain, in the whole district, will follow you. Sound the alarm from the belfry, send messengers from village to village and to all the neighboring domains, burn bon-fires on the hill tops, but first of all set fire to this castle. Thousands will gather even this day and tonight and your power will be terrifying. Go from castle to castle, announce everywhere the Emperor’s edict, and where the nobles won’t surrender and abolish feudalism at once, burn and strike down unceasingly. (Výrava approaches.)
Voices.—Down with the nobles! Down with the nobles!
Other Voices.—Výrava! Výrava!
Výrava, the rest, later the Earl, Karmín, Servants and Secretary.
Kyral.—Did the Earl consent? Will they read the edict?
Výrava.—He did not consent at once—but— —
Dvořák.—God has decided! Our Saviour calls you and me to battle.
Výrava.—I say, listen!
Other Voices.—Silence! Listen!
Výrava.—The Earl does not want to have the decree read at once but he promises— —
Řehák and Voices. (Mockingly).—Promises! Promises!
Výrava.—that he will do nothing that is not right, and in a week he will allow the decree to be examined.
Kyral.—After Karmín has falsified it!
Dvořák.—To arms. The voice of God calls to battle. Who will risk his life and property for the freedom to which our Emperor calls us, to which our God leads us?
All the People (Except Výrava, who surprised, has advanced to the front).—All! All of us!
Dvořák (Noticing that Výrava has not answered).—And you Výrava?
Výrava.—I shall not take part in a bloody insurrection.
Králíček.—Hear! Hear! Výrava is not with us!
Výrava.—Don’t throw yourself, without considering, into an abyss!
Králíček.—If Výrava will not go, it will be hard for the rest of us to go.
Řehák and Voices (Singly).—Let’s think it over! It’s worth consideration!
Other Voices.—Don’t mind him! Let’s go ahead!
Kyral.—He has a son at the Earl’s. He wants to be a little noble himself.
Výrava.—Kyral! I am a farmer just like you and the rest of you all, but my head doesn’t go wild in an instant.
Kyral.—If you break away from us, await the gratitude of the nobility and be the meanest servant of the nobles’ menials.
Václav.—Father, don’t permit them to think evil of you.
Výrava.—Silence! Not another word!
Václav (Surprised).—God judge him! God judge him!
Dvořák.—God will not break his will for a single man.
(Karmín, a musketeer with a drum, three unarmed servants and five servants with arms appear on the balcony.)
Dvořák.—Don’t inquire any longer as to whether this one or that one is undecided but seize weapons yourselves and in the name of our Lord let us go into battle!
Karmín.—Seditious rascal! (Gives signal. The musketeer loudly beats the drum.) If your life is dear to you, go home in peace. In the name of the noble Earl, I prohibit all further turbulence and call you to obedience.
Dvořák.—And in the name of all the people we renounce all obedience to you and the nobility.
Karmín (To the musketeers).—Shoot!
Kyral (To Dvořák).—Protect yourself! Come here to us!
Výrava (Advances, taking a position in front of Dvořák).—Don’t shoot! Misfortune hangs in the air like a heavy cloud and the first lightning from it will be the beginning of a terrible storm!
Karmín.—Výrava! Do you want to protect these rebels?
Výrava.—I am protecting you and protecting the nobles themselves before a great misfortune. Pacify the people!
Karmín.—Whom should I pacify? With whom shall I negotiate? With this drunken rabble? (Uproar among the people.)
Výrava.—With these farming people who ask for their rights and their liberty. One drop of blood spilled will change into a cloudburst which will overwhelm you.
Karmín.—You—you—Výrava—you take their side against me and the nobility? Treacherous churl!
Výrava (Violently).—Treacherous churl! I a churl?
Kyral.—Yes, of noble favor! Now, Výrava, too, is a churl.
Karmín.—You are the churl and all those for whom you speak! I command you to leave immediately—if not, I’ll make my plea with guns.
(The people down below step back. Dvořák, Kyral and three others take Výrava among themselves and animatedly consult with him.)
Secretary (Steps out on balcony. To Karmín).—The Earl wishes to speak with the honorable director. Most likely he wishes to prohibit all acts of violence.
Karmín.—It is a matter of open rebellion and therefore threatens the very life of the nobility. For the time being I wish only to frighten the peasants. But if they do not yield, I shall really make use of weapons.
(The people fall back from the castle so that they are visible only at the extreme left, in the park. In the foreground stand Dvořák, Kyral, Králíček, Václav and behind them in an animated group six other peasants, young and old.)
Secretary (Observing the group counselling together).—It looks as if they were losing courage and they will begin new proceedings.
Karmín.—Just wait here. In a little while I’ll be back again. (Departs. The Secretary talks with the musketeers.)
Výrava and the Rest
Kyral.—Do you now recognize, neighbor, the love the nobility has for us?
Výrava.—Insulted, abused by him! I, a churl, a treacherous churl!
Kyral.—Yes, that betrayed in what esteem he holds you! It was always said “The director regards Výrava like an own brother.” In his eyes you were and are a churl whom he pretended to respect as long as you followed his will in all things.
Výrava.—There is not a spot in the whole district where I am not held in esteem. And he insults me. I, a churl! A treacherous churl!
Dvořák.—The Philistines insulted Samson, cut off his hair and placed him by the mill to turn the stone and to perform slavish service. But Samson’s bile stirred and having called on God, he shook the pillars of the house in which his enemies sat, destroyed the building and buried them all in its ruins. Výrava, shake the structure of subjection!
Kyral.—With you or without you we will carry it all through. You have always, heretofore, been the first when there was calm. Will you be like a timid hare, that crawls into its form, now when it begins to thunder?
Králíček.—And it is possible enough that you hold in your hands the scales of good and evil for us. Hundreds of people will do as you do. They will rush into fire with you,—without you, they will hide themselves before it.
Dvořák.—And if, without your help, we are overwhelmed because of our small numbers, they will tell about it for all future time.
Kyral.—It will be said: feudalism was to have been abolished, feudalism under which people have groaned for hundreds of years. And they would have accomplished it. But Výrava who let himself be abused and insulted by the lords so that not even a dog would have accepted bread from him— —
Výrava.—Stop, by the living God, stop!
Kyral.—That Výrava despite all, stayed with the lords and betrayed his own people.
Výrava.—Kyral! God defend that I should do a rash deed, but what is it you ask of me?
Dvořák.—That you should take the leadership of those who wish to fight for their ransom from slavery.
Výrava.—But all that has happened heretofore is lead in my limbs. The kindness of the Earl—my son at the castle and perhaps in a battle against me! No—no! Who wishes to set father against son; who wishes that they should meet in a struggle for life or death?
Dvořák.—God will inspire him to leave the service of the Pharaohs and turn to his own people. And if he heeds not the promptings of God, it will be well, if, perhaps, he dies by his father’s own hand.
(It grows dark.)
Výrava.—My Jeroným! My Jeroným! (The people again gather.)
Kyral.—If that boy is of your blood, he will run away from the castle and come to you. If he does not come, he is a scoundrel and a tr—
Karmín steps out on the balcony. Earl and Sterneck.
Earl.—I lay all the responsibility on you, Karmín.
Karmín.—Decision alone will save us.
Sterneck.—That is my judgment also. I tell you, Earl, these peasants are flighty. One needs to draw a little of their blood.
Karmín.—In the meantime I will just have the rascal caught who is inciting them the most. (To the servants.) Go down quickly and drag that strange young fellow (Pointing out Dvořák) here. If they offer to harm you, I will order the musketeers to shoot. (Five servants hasten away. Karmín again signals the musketeers. The drum sounds.)
Řehák and Voices.—The Earl himself is here.
(Výrava, Dvořák, Kyral and Mad Martin advance to the front. Repeated beating of drum.)
Karmín.—For the last time I request you not to listen to strangers’ misleading advice but to return to unconditional obedience.
(The servants rush out and seize Dvořák. The musketeers follow but remain under the balcony with guns ready for firing.)
Dvořák.—Hellish treachery! (Knocks one servant down on ground in front of him, then throws another. Mad Martin and Kyral attack the rest.)
Mad Martin (Fiercely).—The beadles! The beadles! Just as you did to me, now I will pay you back! (Catches one servant by the throat, a short struggle. The servant jerks out a knife and stabs Mad Martin in the breast.) No —o! (Sinks and rattles hoarsely in the throat.) And again I—for good! (Dies.)
Dvořák (Wards off the servants who flee. The musketeers also depart. To Karmín).—Behold, Moabite, behold your power. (Catching sight of the dead body of Mad Martin.) Killed—murdered!
All the People.—Murdered! Murdered! We will avenge him!
Dvořák.—Výrava, will you yet disbelieve us, can you yet hesitate? As flowed the blood of this martyr so might have flowed your blood and the blood of any of you. If you do not rise up and liberate yourselves, they will lead you to the slaughter.
Výrava.—My last doubt falls from me. Just look at this poor fellow! His eye is open and is fixed on me and his lips seem to whisper to me “Thus will it be even with you! Avenge me!”
Earl.—I command you—Go away in peace.
Výrava.—Sir Earl, a murder has been committed here by your servants.
Řehák and People.—By Karmín’s servant.
Výrava.—Avoid the bursting of the storm! Cast the director into prison and announce to the people that you no longer demand subjection and feudalism!
People.—Deliver up Karmín! Death to the scoundrel!
Earl.—The misfortune occurred contrary to my will but I will not give up my servant to you.
Řehák and People.—To the castle!
Výrava.—God hears me that I wished to save you—but you have pronounced otherwise. Guard your own life, Earl, and your family—don’t defend others!
Earl (Firmly).—I am able to stand against your mad fury.
Výrava (Pointing to Karmín).—There is the devil who caused this strife between you and us. Curses on his head for all that overtakes you or us. To arms, brothers, nothing else remains for us but war.
Řehák and Voices.—War! War! (The people crowd around Výrava.)
Earl.—Let all in the castle arm themselves. Close all the windows. Have all the men assemble in the court. (Departs with all from the balcony. The door is slammed after them and closed firmly.)
Výrava (To the people).—I will go with you and I will not hold myself aloof from your work whatever it is.
Výrava.—Announce throughout all the villages that Výrava is with you.
Dvořák.—God’s spirit has entered into you.
Výrava.—I want with me, however, in this action, my son— —
Dvořák.—You have Václav!
Výrava.—My son Jeroným. In him I have my strength and my second youth. At his side my spirit will grow bold and will not hesitate or falter!
Dvořák.—And if he will not come?
Výrava.—He will come—he will—and if he does not, then I myself will go to the castle for him. Through my son, my Jeroným, the name of Výrava will rise to new glory. Through my son, my Jeroným, freedom will be given to our native country. Hasten now for weapons, ring the alarm bells that all our people may rise up. And send messengers to the mountains and to the entire district, let them tell of the murder which occurred here, (Pointing to Mad Martin’s body) and let fires, far and wide, announce that we have risen to strike down feudalism.
The People.—Down with the nobles! Down with the nobles! To the castle! Long live Výrava! (All depart. They carry away the body of Mad Martin. Only Dvořák remains.)
Dvořák (On his knees as when the others departed).—Our Saviour, God on high, I bow in the dust to you. You are calling your people to salvation, to freedom and by your unfathomable counsel you strengthen them and increase their power to over come their foe. And to me you grant grace to be present at the performance of your will. Oh, stay with your people, turn them away from destruction, and lead them from the valley of slavery to the heights of salvation. Jehovah, God on high, just as of the Israelitish people you were a leader and Saviour be even so to this people, you alone, you!
(The curtain falls.)
The same scenery. Night. The moon is shining but its beams are visible only on the balcony.
Director Karmín examining the park with the aid of four musketeers. Near the balcony Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld, Count Sterneck, Charvát. On the balcony the Countesses Sylvia and Christina.
From a distance can be heard the tolling of bells.
Christina.—Sylvia, what strange ringing of bells?
Sylvia.—They are sounding the alarm-bells in the villages. Fires are burning on the hill-tops, new ones are constantly appearing, the whole domain is rising against us!
Christina.—What fearful moments! What if the rebellion reaches the castle!
Sylvia.—That is certain now. Just think what events have taken place in the space of a few hours.
Karmín.—The park is free of intruders. Near the village the weapons of the farmers are flashing and in the village there is tumult and excitement.
Earl.—And all the roads leading from here are hemmed in by peasants. Karmín, you made a fatal error.
Karmín.—If an error occurs, it is necessary to turn it to the greatest possible profit.
Earl.—Only you can see any advantage in this error.
Karmín.—The Emperor wished to abolish feudalism. His intention has been overthrown by this uprising.
Earl.—Unless this insurrection first destroys us.
Sterneck.—Let us abandon all conjectures about the future and see how we can save ourselves before the real outbreak. Alone, we cannot defend the castle longer than a day or two. Only the army can save us.
Karmín.—A good rider can reach Ples in an hour and a half. The infantry can march here in three hours, the cavalry can arrive within two hours.
Sterneck.—If only the commander will be willing to send the soldiers.
Karmín.—To suppress a rebellion, always.
Sterneck.—The army is at Ples not for the suppression of rebellions but to build a fort. At the worst, it will be necessary to send a swift rider on to Hradec.
Earl.—And who from here would go? The peasants will capture everyone from the castle.
Sterneck.—I’ll do it myself. I cannot get away from here by any other path except by way of the stream in the park. I will start on my mission at once. In a quarter of an hour, let loose my hound and my horse on the high road after me. Those two won’t let themselves be captured and they’ll surely find me. You, Karmín, look after the castle, barricade everything and stand firm until I return with the army.
Charvát.—You cannot know, Count, whether you’ll arrive at Ples or at Hradec, safe and well. Allow me therefore, to ride to Hradec directly by the highway. If possible, I will bring back from there an army and will at once announce the matter to the president of the district government. Extreme danger demands immediate action.
Sterneck.—But how will you pass through?
Charvát.—It isn’t likely that the insurrectionists will hinder me.
Earl.—Thank you, captain, thank you!
Charvát.—I am doing my duty. I am a friend of the people, but not of insubordination. I came with a message of peace. By accident, peace has turned into revolt. Therefore, I’ll probably return with a different message, the message of fire and bayonets. Farewell, your Grace, and calm the ladies. (Parts with Earl Roveredo-Lanzenfeld.)
Sterneck. (Shaking hands with the Earl and Charvát, then looking up towards the balcony where the Countesses sit).—Countesses, I shall try to bring back a rescue party. I shall be happy, Countess Sylvia, if I can effect matters so that you with Countess Christina could again freely and without danger travel anywhere in the neighborhood of the castle which is so dear to me. (With a salute he departs accompanied by Charvát and the Earl.)
Sylvia.—I want to persuade myself to be courageous and yet I tremble at times as if death had flitted by. Perhaps death would be better.
Christina.—How you frighten me, Sylvia!
Sylvia.—Don’t be afraid, they are only my fancies. Let us leave all and go to rest. (They depart.)
Karmín alone in foreground, in the rear, four musketeers with weapons at their feet. With them, Jiřík. Later, Earl Roveredo.
Karmín.—And even if Satan with Beelzebub conspired against me and want to snatch my body from me, I won’t yield—I won’t yield. The old order of things is breaking up into dust and ruin and with it all those who existed on the profits of feudalism. The nobility and upper classes cannot stand without feudalism—and we —their servants—will be the first whom they will kick aside. Well, I want to have at least one big winning for being, these thirty years in a nobleman’s service, his faithful scourge-whip.
Karmín, Earl, Jeroným, Výrava
Earl (Quickly).—Count Sterneck is leaving by way of the stream. Captain Charvát, in order not to awaken any suspicion leaves in a half hour. Has every precaution been taken against a night attack?
Karmín.—I will arrange for a night guard. I will make use of the foresters for that purpose. It’s lucky that all the foresters and the huntsmen were also at the harvest festival. They are the most wide-awake and have the sharpest sight. If necessary they can shoot any peasant spy—and not miss. On this side (Indicating the left) in the tower we will place on guard Forester Vobořil, here on the balcony young Výrava, on the right near the entrance the forester’s apprentice, Bohutinsky and also Ernest. (To Jiřík.) Jiřík, call Výrava. (Jiřík departs.) From the other side towards the gate— —
Earl.—And where will the rest of the foresters and servants be stationed?
Karmín.—The foresters had best be placed in the hall on the first floor and will put the servants in the guard-room. From these two rooms they can most readily be sent to the places where they are most necessary.
Earl.—And what about young Výrava? Should we use him for sentinel duty or for defense at all? His father— —
Karmín.—Among the forestry contingent there is not a single member who would not give his life for your Grace, even though it were in a struggle against his own father. (Aside.) And even if the peasants killed young Výrava here, it won’t be any loss, for what he did to me at the “Glade.”
Earl.—Still I think— —
Karmín.—And then on sentinel duty there is the greatest danger and it is better to have in those positions single men and not the foresters, who are heads of families.
Earl.—Do as you think best.
Jeroným (Enters).—Gracious Earl!
Earl.—I am intrusting you with the chief guard here on the balcony. Later you will be relieved by— (Turns to Karmín).
Karmín.—The apprentice Andres.
Earl.—I depend on your devotion—and your faithfulness I’ll not forget.
Jeroným.—I want to be given the chance to prove it even in the greatest danger.
Earl.—Go, then, to your place! (Jeroným bows and departs. The Earl to Karmín). And on the other side of the castle? (They depart, the musketeers following.)
(When the musketeers depart, Bětuška dressed in a gray, simple gown, enters from the left side of park. Later Jeroným appears on the balcony.)
Bětuška (In a low voice to herself).—Among the shadows of the trees, I steal along as if I myself were a shadow. I am near him—he could almost feel my warm breath—but he does not even dream of my nearness. What am I to him! For me, he has not even a tiny corner in his heart, not even the least thought in his mind. I have succeeded in seeing him and now—I may creep away,—may wander throughout the night. (She sinks down upon the stump of a tree, her folded hands in her lap. On the balcony the door opens. Jeroným enters with gun in hand.)
Jeroným (Facing the door).—Leave the neighboring rooms all open. If they attack the castle, it will be especially necessary to protect it from this point and to shoot from the windows. (Shuts the door after him, steps to the front of the balcony and looks searchingly into the park.)
Bětuška (To herself).—Protect and shoot from the window—at whom—at his father or his brother? Who would ask? Jeroným!
Jeroným.—Did I hear a voice? Did someone call me?
Bětuška.—He does not recognize, does not hear my voice? (Louder.) Jeroným!
Jeroným.—Who is that?
Bětuška.—It is I, Bětuška, don’t you see me?
Jeroným (To himself).—She—again she. (More loudly.) I see, now I see. But what are you doing at this hour in such a dangerous place? Do you know what could happen to you if anyone from the castle should see you?
Bětuška.—If I feared anything, I wouldn’t be here.
Jeroným.—What do you seek here?
Bětuška.—For myself, nothing—you yourself know best that the whole world is closed for me. What I wanted I have seen and I want nothing more.
Jeroným.—Why, then, did you come when misfortune threatens from all sides, yes, death.
Bětuška.—If I should meet death, I would press her hand and say to her: God’s greetings to you, dear godmother. If you have a place for me under your white grass-cloth, I will hide myself under it—only too gladly— (A pause.) Jeroným, your father has been asking for you.
Bětuška.—Your aged father who is to march with the rest of the peasants, perhaps this very night, against the castle. There are already several hundred of them armed—and others are constantly joining their ranks. The women and children are crying—but what man cares for tears. If the men win, the women and children will laugh because feudalism ceased.
(Jeroným (Uncertainly).—And what did my father say?
Bětuška.—He said—towards the end he said little—but at first he talked of you all the time. He looked towards the castle every little while. He knew you’d come at once, that you were already coming. Foolish man, he thought you’d leave the castle. He is an unreasonable old fellow, isn’t he?
Bětuška.—If he knew—he would not vainly encourage himself. And that gray head still awaits your coming. The heavens are bright. The peasants are cheering because they are going against the fine gentlemen—but on his forehead is a little cloud—a cloud. But yet he still awaits you and consoles himself with the thought that you have not yet been able to flee. Well, he has waited in health and may he be in health when this uprising is over! Only be you careful when you shoot to always look sharply lest the bullet fly to his head or to the heart which loves you so.
Bětuška (Rising).—And now, God be with you—and guard well the castle, guard it! It is beautiful, it is precious—every man would give much for it—and for what it contains. And fortunate is that castle that it has you. (Slowly departs.)
Jeroným, later Karmín and three musketeers, then Výrava and Bětuška.
Jeroným.—Dear God, save me from losing my senses! (From the side of the castle Karmín and three musketeers pass beneath the balcony.) Why did that base being cause all this horror which is falling upon me.
Karmín.—All in order?
Jeroným.—All quiet and peaceful! . . .
Karmín (Passes with musketeers around balcony).—Just be watchful, Master Jeroným,—you are standing in the most dangerous position. (They go away.)
Jeroným.—And the most scorching!
Výrava (Steps out at the left carrying a gun. Bětuška is with him).—So he is here, you say, and it is possible to talk with him?
Bětuška.—Quietly, they are just going away. It would go ill with you if you happened to get into their way.
Výrava.—Go away from here, girl, I must talk with him alone—alone! And if I risk my life, it is not necessary for any peril to hang over you.
Bětuška.—I will go away—but you, too, will go away and you’ll not bring Jeronym with you.
Bětuška.—You will not bring him!
Výrava.—What do you know? (Bětuška vanishes. Jeroným crosses the balcony and gazes intently up towards the sky.)
Výrava (After a while).—Jeroným!
Jeroným.—Is it a dream? Or an illusion? That was my father’s voice!
Jeroným.—For the loving God! (Looks around from the balcony on all sides to see whether anyone was near.) Father, how dare you venture here?
Výrava.—I am not afraid. I come for you. I have a gun for protection. I have been expecting you and you let me wait in anxiety. You did not come. So I’ve come for you.
Výrava.—For you. You surely know about the uprising. There are already over four hundred of us assembled. From Solnice, Dobruska, New Town and Skalice troops of armed people are marching hither. Before the first streaks of dawn, we will attack the castle and before day breaks, we shall be masters there where until now our tyrants ruled.
Jeroným.—Our nobles, our gracious nobility whom you taught me to respect, father, you now call our tyrants?
Výrava.—Not the nobility but those by whose advice the nobles act against us. And, perhaps, the nobles themselves. I have gotten over my former blindness.
Jeroným.—For God’s sake father—! And what do you ask of me?
Výrava.—I do not ask—I expect confidently that you will forsake a slavish, dishonorable service and that you will go away with me to your brothers. I waited for you and you did not come. So I set out for the castle hazarding my life to find you and bring you back with me. From that unhappy girl Bětuška, I learned that— —
Jeroným.—I cannot go away. I would be a traitor.
Výrava.—A traitor—traitor—and you forget how Karmín, that whip-lasher, Karmín, insulted me calling me a treacherous churl? Do you want to remain—do you want to leave your father defamed and unrevenged?
Jeroným.—That was Karmín’s work. But I can’t go against the nobility.
Výrava.—I am protecting the nobility. I will save the Earl and his whole family and guests from death. But Karmín and his catch-polls must fall and subjection and feudalism, according to the will of our gracious Emperor, must cease tomorrow.
Jeroným.—The Earl holds me in his favor, I promised the nobles fidelity and I will not break my word.
Výrava.—I am your father and to me first of all you owe obedience. I command you— —
Jeroným.—I cannot obey. I will not obey.
Výrava.—Jeroným! You will not obey?—But no, no, my ears deceive me. You cannot speak so—All of our people know that I have come here for you—Bětuška knows that I found you. Do you want to deliver me up to mockery, do you want me to return covered with disgrace to be forced to say to my neighbors, that you would not go with me—that you remained in the castle?
Jeroným.—I cannot, I cannot!
Výrava.—I am depending on you, I place my entire trust in you, in you I am strong—without you I am a mere reed. Jeroným, heed me! The name of Výrava—my name and your name—is esteemed in the entire district and I have accustomed myself to the thought that through you my name shall be further exalted. When all the people are rising against tyranny, we Výravas must stand at the head and no one else but we. But without you my power would fail. With you I am granite, without you, slate—without you I would stand among my own not like Výrava but like a mere shadow.
Jeroným.—And even if everything can change because of my action, I cannot go away with you, father. You should rather thank God that I am on the side of the nobility and that I shall be able to save you from the destruction which will surely meet the other plotters of the uprising.
Výrava.—You wish to protect me, you wish to show me a kindness? How unreasonably, how childishly you speak, my son! Where Výrava undertakes anything, there he also accomplishes his design and asks no mercy. Tomorrow, I will give commands in this castle, tomorrow I will announce from here the abolition of feudalism and we will send messengers to the district government and even to the Emperor in Vienna that by force we carried out his will which the nobility wished to thwart.
Jeroným (In thought).—Horrible moment!
Výrava.—Well, my son, do you still wish to hesitate?
Jeroným.—Forgive me, father—but I implore you—do not ask me to do your will, do not ask that I should become a base traitor to all those who had confidence in me.
Výrava (Violently).—Oh, indeed—I no longer ask anything of you, but I command you to obey instantly. God punish me, but if you would oppose me . . . (With a convulsive movement, lifts his gun.)
Jeroným.—Yes, I choose death.
Výrava (Having mastered himself).— —then, then I shall curse you, my son, with the most terrible of curses and God of whom I begged your very birth, that God must condemn you at my word——
Jeroným.—For God’s sake—stop!
Výrava.—He must condemn you—here and even after death. For even though broken, destroyed, still I will go into battle and I shall stand in the front ranks of those at whom you will aim—unless I should, before that, deal myself death for very shame. And the curse of a patricide will visit you with its worst consequences—it will pursue you not like death but like a thousand deaths.—Will you do my will or no—will you expose me to the mockery of all people even of my murderers in this hotbed of slavery?
Jeroným.—Alas! my honor! Oh, my happiness and dreams—how you crumble into dust! Is there no escape for me? Is there no way out?
Výrava.—None, unless in the fulfillment of your father’s will.
Jeroným (Evincing the greatest inner struggle).—I shall become an infamous betrayer—
Výrava.— —the avenger of your father and the pride of the people to whom you belong.
Jeroným.—Here contempt—there a curse——
Výrava.— —and the affection of a father who loves you above the whole world, even more than his own salvation.
Jeroným.—Father, father, have compassion!
Výrava.—Have one spark of love for me! My son, I entreat you, (kneels) on my knees I entreat you.
Jeroným.—Father—father! . . . (To himself.) Well, then, good-bye, good-bye to my past, good-bye to my dreams—my bliss, angelic being—good-bye, my honor!
Výrava.—Will you go? (Rises).
Jeroným.—I will go—(To himself) to find my death in the first shot that is fired.
Výrava.—O my son, how eternally happy you have made me. Come, oh, come, to the revenge of your father, come to your glory and to that of your people!
Jeroným.—I shall go,—I shall go, at once. (To himself.) Only a few lines of parting and my dearest keepsakes in my bosom!
Výrava.—Will you leap down? I will help you.
Jeroným.—I shall follow you in a moment.
Výrava.—Why do you delay?
Jeroným.—I wish, only to take with me a ringlet of mother’s hair—which you gave me when she pressed me to her heart for the last time before her death. (To himself.) And also Sylvia’s handkerchief which she dropped when first our eyes met.
Výrava.—I shall wait for you.
Jeroným.—Every instant can betray you and cast you to destruction.
Výrava.—And can I believe you?
Výrava.—Come, then, come, oh, my soul! My strength grows an hundredfold, and in you, in you I see the complete greatness of my future years. (Hastens away.)
Jeroným (To himself).—O Sylvia! O Sylvia! (Is about to depart. At that instant Sylvia steps out on the balcony. Jeroným, frightened, cries out aloud.) Sylvia! Countess!
Sylvia.—Hush, in God’s name!
Jeroným.—Forgive me—you, countess, here, and at such a time.
Sylvia.—I am here and you may call my step madness or what you wish, I only ask, that you bury it in the depths of your bosom.
Jeroným.—The joy! But I fear——
Sylvia.—I have no fear for myself, therefore neither must you fear. Be careful,—speak softly—and be all the more calm, the more I am torn by my restlessness. (Seizes him by the hand and looks around to see if anyone is near.)
Jeroným.—Your hand, countess, is trembling.
Sylvia.—That is how my whole soul trembles in apprehension for you. Through the dusk of the night a strange presentiment has come into my mind, agitated by today’s events.
Jeroným.—What excited you?
Sylvia.—When I left the Earl’s family, I sat in my room and thought—why wrap myself in the robe of untruth —I thought—of you.
Jeroným (Kneels and kisses her hand).—Dear—gracious Countess!
Sylvia.—And then a great fright fell upon my soul—that perhaps you would forsake the castle—the Earl—and—all of us.
Jeroným (Conscious of his intention).—My God! (Arises.)
Sylvia (Interpreting his cry as contradiction of her supposition). —Yes, it was a ridiculous fear surely. But that sudden suspicion excited my soul to such a degree that I believe I would have died if I could not have sought you out and learned from you that what has been terrifying me is not true.
Jeroným.—This infinite happiness of mine in this time of greatest misfortune!
Sylvia.—It is not a misfortune, when it abides elsewhere and when, perhaps, amid outer ruin we are able to preserve our inward bliss. And that bliss I feel within me. And in this moment my ardor has broken through its former bounds. I wanted to be cold, icy, I wanted to smother in myself what had raged from that first moment when I saw you. I wanted to master myself and to take my blissful secret with me into the grave of the marriage that threatens me. But this awful anxiety about you would not let me play out my former role.—I am here with you, fearing for you and I confide to you what heretofore only my eyes could possibly have betrayed to you.
Jeroným.—And they did betray, Countess, and their glowing glance had made me infinitely happy even before I could suspect that a noble Countess——
Sylvia.— —could also be a human being. She is a human being, she is. And carried away by a storm of passion, she is not afraid to acknowledge what she feels for you in the depths of her bosom.
Jeroným.—O Countess—Sylvia—what a heavenly reward your burning words are for those long hours of inner storm and sorrow which I suffered—when I had not a breath of hope that I could really awaken in your soul even a spark of that which burned within me. From the first moment that I looked upon your face, into your eyes, I ceased to be myself. The blood whirled in my bosom and in my head and the whole world whirled with me! (Passionately presses her hand to his lips.) And when, after wards, I dared come near you and especially when at the last hunt after that affair at the “Glade,” it was permitted to me to stay longer by your side to assist you to mount and dismount, to feel meanwhile the slight trembling of your tender hand, and to hear those few words with which you addressed me, to hide in my bosom your handkerchief which you had dropped—then, it was all over with me. And with the most blissful feeling, hopelessness also stole into my heart. I could not deceive myself—I saw clearly that many worlds separated me from the Countess Sylvia—and therefore, not even in my boldest dreams, could I hope that from your lips would issue the word with which you have now lifted me to the utmost bliss.
Sylvia.—But with these words and with this knowledge I must, for the time being, pause. Oh, if you knew what joy fills me, if you knew how gladly I would be yours, all of me—yours for all time!
Jeroným.—I know it, I know it, for within me, too, stirs the breath of passion, intoxicating, sweet and burning! (Takes Sylvia into his arms with passionate ardor and kisses her.)
Sylvia (With bliss).—I lose myself in you, and drown in very rapture. I have no thought but you. Stay with me, stay close to me that I might from your eyes and from your presence absorb anew that ecstasy which thrills my whole being.
Jeroným (Joyfully).—Near you—(Horrified, he steps back from Sylvia.)—near you!
Sylvia.—What is the matter? You shuddered—you are terrified— —
Jeroným.—Sylvia!—near you in whom I have found my greatest bliss. And yet from afar my father’s voice calls me to forsake the place where now I tarry. . . .
Sylvia.—You are mad!
Jeroným.—Would that this vision of a real spectre were only raving. A few moments ago, my father— —
Sylvia.—Was here!—Then it was his whispering—his voice that I heard— —
Jeroným.—My father— —
Sylvia.—And he came to call you to forsake the castle from which so much of injustice is dealt out to the people,—to flee from here and to go with him into battle against us.
Jeroným.—It is true.
Sylvia.—And you promised him—yes, yes, you were just about to leave when I came.
Jeroným.—In his anger he thundered a curse into my soul if I should not obey him.
Sylvia.—And you consented.
Jeroným.—He vowed that otherwise he would place himself in the fighting ranks in the spot towards which my gun would aim that he might fall by my bullet.
Sylvia.—And you consented, you consented—and you wish to leave the castle?
Jeroným.—I promised to do so.
Jeroným.—But I promised myself that I would expose myself to the first volley which would roll from the castle against us in order to bridge with my death the chasm which has been created between me and this place by my duty to a desperate father, my devotion to the Earl and a hopeless but burning love for you, sublime being!
Sylvia.—And you wished to go away from me when I, drawn by some unknown premonition hastened to you, cast myself in your arms, pleading, sobbing lest you depart from these places where you were near me!
Jeroným.—Stop, for the love of God, stop!
Sylvia.—I want your answer, your answer that I may either be sobered by it unto death itself or learn that I may continue in a blissful infatuation which I have not been able to resist. Will you go to your father who awaits you and who, if you do not come, will fulfill his threat—or will you stay here where nothing beckons but my presence?
Jeroným.—And even if I were to suffer the greatest torments—even if in an hundred fold measure all were to overtake me which my father threatened— —
Sylvia.—Even his death at your hands?
Jeroným.—All, all—I ask—hope nothing! I will remain here, I will remain near you and for the knowledge and memory of your love I will give all—all!
Sylvia.—Mine, mine—for all time, for eternity, my own! (Violently she embraces and kisses him.)
Jeroným.—For all time, for eternity, yours! (Silence. Then, a rustling of shrubbery in the park.)
Jeroným.—I hear nothing— —
Sylvia.—I am sure. Someone is near. In the morning as early as possible either I or Christina will ask to speak with you. Good-bye, good-bye—take heed, yourself—take heed! (Kisses him and hastens away. Jeroným follows for several steps. When he returns to his own place and again takes his gun in hand, Výrava cautiously steps out from the left side of park.)
Výrava, Jeroným, later the Earl and servants.
Výrava.—He is still at his post, he still has not departed. Undoubtedly he was watched by someone. (Looks around carefully in all directions.) And yet, no one is to be seen anywhere! Jeroným!
Jeroným.—For God! My father!
Jeroným.—Who is it?
Výrava (Still hiding).—Don’t you recognize me?
Jeroným (Coldly, in a muffled voice).—Is that you, Father?
Výrava.—Yes, I. Why didn’t you come?
Jeroným.—I could not.
Výrava.—But now you surely can come? New troops have arrived and all urge immediate attack upon the castle. Your brother Václav who stands at the stream on guard saw a rider go galloping towards Ples. In the other directions the soldiers who brought the Emperor’s edict rode away. They, to be sure, will not voluntarily harm our revolt for they know that we are in the right and that the Emperor wishes to abolish feudalism. But the nobility might set the army against us by some lie and so we must hasten. Jump down, it is not high.
Jeroným. (Decisively).—I cannot, I will not go!
Výrava (Shocked).—Jeroným! If I understand your voice, it sounds defiant. You don’t wish to come to me?
Jeroným.—Let happen what will, I do not wish to go, I can not!
Výrava.—Horrors of hell—do I rave or do I understand well? Jeroným!
Jeroným.—All is in vain, I will remain at the castle. I will betray no one.
Výrava.—No one, no one—only your father who has placed all his hopes upon you! Wretched boy, have your portion!
(Shoots at Jeroným. Jeroným falls, which Výrava sees and then hurries away. Tumult in the castle.)
Cries (In the castle).—Shooting! The peasants! Sound the alarm! Alarm!
Earl (Steps out on balcony with sword in hand, behind him the servants).—Jeroným! Killed!
Jeroným (Rising).—Only wounded, your Grace.
Earl.—And who shot at you?
Jeroným.—My father! (Sinks again.)
(The curtain falls.)
The pond beyond the village, surrounded by alders, willows and bushes. The moon shines on the water. Later the moon sets and the day begins to dawn.
Bětuška, Václav, later Kyral and two peasants.
Bětuška (At the right, concealed under a tree, sits singing).—
Orphaned was the child
Orphaned was the child,
In its second year,
In its second year.
Václav (Steps out from left side with gun in hand, listening to the song attentively).—It is she, Bětuška! She also, unfortunate one, cannot sleep tonight and is easing her sorrow with song.
When it grew to wisdom,
When it grew to wisdom,
It asked for mother dear,
It asked for mother dear.
Alas, mother of mine,
Alas, mother of mine,
Speak one little word to me,
Speak one little word to me.
Bětuška.—I am not here alone; someone is singing with me, and I could divine without guessing the identity of the unhappy singer. Václav! (Václav steps forth.) I didn’t expect that you’d be here, I would not have come here.
Václav (Bitterly).—I can believe that.
Bětuška.—There is shouting and tumult in the village. In a twinkling they will probably tell you that they are marching against the castle. The women are lamenting, the children like chicks are cowering together, trembling, not knowing why, and weeping.
Bětuška.—And I—I’ve been wandering from place to place all night. Here I sat down and sang just as I feel in my heart.
Václav.—You are orphaned, dear friend, indeed orphaned because you do not wish to find what is seeking you and you wander longing for something which, not wanting you, eludes you, like will o’ the wisps in the meadows.
Bětuška.—Only that I know that they are will o’ the wisps. And yet I follow after them.
Václav.—And if someone wished to lead you to freedom from your straying path, still you would not extend your hand to him.
Bětuška.—Yes, yes,—I do not even know myself anywhere, and I sometimes think that I have been harshly treated by some one. But it is useless to speak of it. Will you, too, march against the castle?
Bětuška.—If you should shoot, be careful not to aim at your brother.
Václav.—Good advice! He’s the one you’re worrying about! Let him aim at me a hundred times! Such an extremely good girl!
Bětuška.—Aren’t you afraid of God when you think of me that way?
Václav.—Well, don’t worry, don’t worry—someone else will finish his song for him if he wants to fight for the nobles. Only, woe to father if Jeroným should disappoint him, if he should stay in the castle.
Kyral (Behind the scenes).—Václav! Václav!
Bětuška.—They are looking for you! (She wishes to depart.)
Václav.—Well, just stay a while.
Bětuška.—No one must see me alone in the field with a youth. There would be talk. God protect you. (Offers her hand to him and then departs.)
Kyral (Close to the scenes).—Václav! Václav!
Václav.—Here I am!
Kyral (With two peasants who after a careful survey go in opposite directions).—We are looking for you. Didn’t you see your father?
Václav.—Where would I see him? He is in the village, is he not?
Kyral.—No. He talked somewhere with your brother who promised that he’d run away and join us. Your father boasted of it. But Jeroným did not come. And so your father set out a second time to bring him, and has not yet returned.
Václav.—God protect him! A shot was fired at the castle!
Kyral.—And we haven’t time to stir. The devil has taken one noble hanger on. If he doesn’t want to join us, there are hundreds in his place. But now we must not delay longer. Who knows what will come from Ples or Hradec and by that time we must be in charge of the castle. Come let’s look for your father, there is no more need of a guard here.
Václav.—I will go, I will go. I will creep up through the park to the castle to see whether some misfortune befell him.
Kyral.—And I’ll go in this direction. (Motions to peasants.) You go that way! (All depart. From the right side comes Výrava.)
Výrava (With his hair hanging loosely, leans upon his gun; sighs as he slowly staggers towards stump of a tree under a willow near the pond).—He is dead; I aimed well as I would at a gledekite which would peck my eyes out.—It was a good shot.—Its wing broke, it fell and buried its beak in the earth. He is dead and will not betray his father, will not expose him to mockery. My deed will spread horror, and horror will now be necessary—though the archer need not fall with the glede. (Sinks down on the stump under the willow near the pond.) I loved him so. On him I placed all my hopes. He was my pride, a hundred lives I would have given for him—for him I have forgotten my own blood and have treated my other son like a mere hireling, and thus he has rewarded me!——
Bětuška (Surprised).—Uncle Výrava!
Výrava.—Who calls me?
Bětuška.—I! Bětuška Kyral.
Výrava.—Is it you, child?
Bětuška.—But where are you? In the village everyone is waiting for you——
Výrava.—No one needs to wait for me any longer. I finished everything before I began and let no one again speak the name, Výrava.
Bětuška.—Jeroným did not come—did he? And that is why such grief has fallen upon you. I told you, uncle, that it would be so—it was vain for you to hope.
Výrava.—He did not come. And you knew, he would not come?
Bětuška.—I knew it.
Výrava.—How did you know it?
Bětuška.—It was just a notion,—you made a gentleman of him—how then was he to separate from them?
Výrava.—I? I?—Silence, don’t speak a word——
Bětuška.—You. You wished to have him rise high above us—even above yourself.
Výrava.—He rose—he soared—so high he soared that I had to shoot at him lest he be lost in the clouds.
Bětuška.—Holy Virgin Mary! Uncle, you shot at Jeroným?
Výrava.—I did not miss. The glede fell!
Bětuška.—In God’s name! You—Jeroným——
Výrava.—I shot him,—as I would a bird of prey—a wild beast.
Bětuška (Bursts into bitter, heart-breaking weeping).—O Jeroným! Jeroným! you are dead, murdered, my Jeroným!
Výrava.—Why do you cry for him? Let no one weep a single tear for him!
Bětuška (Lamenting).—You yourself planted—you yourself sowed—and now you have reaped—and out of your wrath over the harvest you have spilled your own blood, in the striking down of your son. May God be merciful to you and save you from a terrible punishment. (Goes away sobbing.)
Výrava (To himself).—I myself planted, I myself sowed, I myself have reaped—what does the daring creature reproach me with? When did I instigate him to betray me, to betray his father?—But, to be sure—I did often tell him—very often—that he must become a greater gentleman than I—that he must be like those at the castle—Just heaven, can it be that I led him to become what he is, that I myself am the cause of his treachery? All powerful God, preserve my senses, or my wits will leave me. (Kyral steps out and listens.)—But no matter what was before, even though I myself wandered not knowing the right—now I have learned the truth and I commanded him to come back to me and to his own people. But he defiantly, treacherously remained there and the punishment which over took him is righteous before God himself.
The Preceding. Kyral.
Kyral (Advances).—What is it, neighbor, what do you babble here?
Výrava (Frightened).—What?—Who? Kyral——
Kyral.—Your son,—your beloved Jeroným—stayed at the castle?
Výrava.—Yes, he stayed.
Kyral.—And old Výrava is overwhelmed by it and it appears he begins to lose his healthy common sense Ha! ha! ha! Finally God has also turned his thought to Výrava—to his pride, haughtiness and arrogance.
Výrava (Violently).—Kyral, you dare again to mock at me?
Kyral.—Not to mock at you, but to laugh, laugh, with my whole soul I want to laugh that at last I see you so humiliated.
Výrava.—Oh, mockery and again mockery!
Kyral.—I seek Výrava that we may at last attack the castle. I think that I’ll meet him somewhere returning triumphantly like a king with his prince Jeroným. And behold, the swift-prospering son scorns the father and remains at the castle near the flesh pots and gentlemen’s cakes—and his father stands here like a moulting rooster whom the chickens have robbed of all the bread!
Výrava.—Kyral, I forbid you— I beg you——
Kyral.—And everywhere throughout the district it was only Výrava—no one was ever mentioned but he—just as though the rest of us were not on earth.
Výrava.—Stop! That hand which was strong enough to shoot at a son, can also——
Kyral.—At a son? Did you shoot at Jeroným? So madness, too, seized you and God has punished your ambitious pride worse even than I could ever have thought. Ha! ha! ha! I must hasten to bring the unusual news to our people, to tell them how I found old Výrava at the pond. (With a malicious laugh, hastens away.)
Výrava alone,l ater Bětuška.
Výrava.—O God, most powerful, preserve my senses. With all my misery am I to be made the target of base ridicule? I can not bear it, I shall die! I have killed my son,—and become the object of derision. At least save me from mockery, save me from shame, or rather take my life. (Looks towards the pond.) My life. To leave this life—to flee from it, from the whole world—to escape that threatening humiliation. . . . Oh, how that water shines in the pond and how it would cover all, all—even me! And there I’d forget everything, everything. (Involuntarily reels towards the water.)
Bětuška (Enters sobbing).—Uncle Výrava!
Bětuška.—And are you certain that Jeroným is killed——
Výrava.—You here again. . . . And am I certain? Yes, he fell, I saw him fall after the shot——
Bětuška.—And did he die? Was he killed? In the village they told me that maybe you only wounded him.
Výrava (Half to himself).—Wounded—oh, if only I had merely wounded him! Then I would not be a murderer—(Aloud.) But I know nothing, nothing,—I fled, when he sank! (To himself.) If only I had not shot him!
Bětuška.—Perhaps you did not.
Výrava.—Child—child—at your words a light dawns in my soul—a light enters as the beams of yonder star into my dim eyes. Come with me, child, come away from this pond. Its water had begun to glitter strangely to me—and to whisper to me and talk to me as if it were inviting me into its depths,—where it is so peaceful and calm—where there is no storm—and no mockery! (Holding Bětuška’s hand, he departs.)
The wives of the following: Lhotský, Kárník, Jirsaček, Novák, Kyral and Moravec.
Lhotská.—What? Am I to let my home be burned or to be driven out of it?
Kárniková.—And have I worried in vain to bring up my children? I want them to live—to be happy—and not to have them cast into prison and thrust into white jackets.
Jirsačková.—What has God sent upon us in these times! Oh, if only all could be settled—if the thing can be averted.
Kyralová.—We mustn’t allow it to come to pass even if I am to fight with my husband about it.
Nováková.—My daughter is to be married tomorrow. All is ready, the wedding kolach is baked—and now this comes! I will tell Výrava what I think of him!
Lhotská.—Just so we find him.
Jirsačková.—He will give in now. After he has killed his own son, his blood will be cooled off.
Kyralová.—And if not, I’ll set his head right!
Kárniková.—For two hundred years our family has been on the estate and now I am to let it be taken from me or burned?
Lhotská.—Feudalism has existed always—and never a word has there been said about it here before the overlords and now—it is as if the heavens were dropping and the earth falling through.
Kyralová (Advancing to the front and sorrowfully observing the women).—And they don’t know that everywhere wherever they rose in rebellion the peasants have succeeded. Oh, God, who could have been the instigator of this day’s madness.
Jirsačková.—Your husband and that crazy hot-spur that an ill wind blew hither from Silesia.
Kyralová.—I’ll make them suffer for it! I’ll not leave a hair on my husband’s head!
Moravcová (Contemptuously).—That’s all of no account what you say here! Have you any more abuse and wrath to heap on your husbands?
Moravcová.—And why do you gape here, why didn’t you go at once to your husbands?
Jirsačková.—We are looking for Výrava.
Moravcová.—Výrava? And he is to do what you desire? Why didn’t you go at once to the castle to tell that overseer, Karmín, that you’ll betray your husbands, that you’ll fight them or at least bind them safely—if so nothing would happen to your estates and to your children?
Lhotská.—What vile deeds do you think us capable of?
Moravcová.—They’re only trifling compared to the deeds you are preparing to do. Why, you wish your husbands to abandon the insurrection, you wish to continue as subjects, serfs, slaves, you wish to crawl on your knees to the nobility just so that they may continue to beat you, tread upon you, harness you to the plow! Do you know, you purblind women, what you are doing? Do you know that you wish to continue in slavery for fear a hair of your head might be disordered? Shame upon you as you stand here, and command your own children to drive you from your own doorstep because you wish to make slaves of them.
Kyralová.—What kind of talk is this? Are you intoxicated or did you eat of the deadly night-shade?
Moravcová.—I am intoxicated with the desire to see for once, all our wrongs righted, and all the injustices perpetrated on us by the nobility. I am drunk with the fervent wish to see myself—to see us all—free.
Lhotská.—It's easy for you to talk—you have nothing to lose.
Moravcová.—Ah, to be sure, I have nothing to lose. For my husband died in chains at the castle because he protected me from the insolence of a castle underling. And my son was seized by the castle bailiffs, delivered up to the military authorities and miserably perished in the war in Prussia. Every one of you may lose all I have lost unless the power of the lords be broken once for all.
Kyralová.—And if our side loses! Heretofore the lords have always won.
Moravcová.—We will not fail, we will overcome the lords. We are all here from the entire district and the great Emperor is with us. Drive away fear and be heroic women like those in the Old Testament.
Lhotská.—Fine words—but a bad ending. We will not let our husbands go to slaughter and we will not lead our children into bondage and want.
Výrava enters with Bětuška.)
Moravcová.—Oh, unhappy race which God himself dismisses from the book of his memory. Will you ever penetrate—will you ever see the shore of salvation, or will you blindly sink in the current of your own misery.
Kyralová.—Here is Výrava!
(Some go towards Výrava, others stand undecided.)
The preceding. Výrava with Bětuška steps forward. Later Dvořák, Králíček, Kyral, Václav and other men.
Lhotská (To Výrava).—We are all women here and we’ve been seeking you.
Výrava.—What do you want of me? I am going to the village.
Voices (Behind the scenes).—Výrava! Výrava!
Výrava.—Who calls me?
(Enter Dvořák, Králíček, Kyral and other men.)
Kyral.—Here he is!
Dvořák.—Where do we find you? All the troops are awaiting you. They burn with eagerness to strike at the castle. Come quickly, come, and put yourself at our head.
Výrava.—I alone—without my son Jeroným!
Kyral (With a malicious smile).—He killed him!
Dvořák.—Don’t mind anything, don’t mind yourself nor your son, just keep the people’s cause in view. Don’t destroy what’s been begun. Lead your people into battle.
Moravcová.—Oh, hear him—hear him—it is not one man alone who speaks—all our people speak through him!
Lhotská (To Dvořák).—Go your way, fool! We are not going to let our children be killed or our houses be burned over our heads! We will not allow the insurrection to go on!
The Men.—Ho! Ho! what insanity is this?
Lhotská.—We are here and we’ll not budge until we dissuade you from your intention. Speak, Výrava, do you want to take on your conscience the destruction of perhaps thousands of families—do you want to be responsible for it if they kill our husbands and drive us from our homes?
Dvořák.—What ominous kite croaks here seeking to spoil a scarcely born plan!
The Women (Except Moravcová).—All of us, all of us. We’ll not allow the uprising!
Lhotská (To Dvořák).—It is we, the women who live here and we’ll spoil your foreign foolishness. (To Výrava.) Speak, Výrava, turn things towards the good before it will be too late.
Kyral (To the women).—Don’t fear!—Výrava will not harm anyone any more. He is not going into the battle!
Moravcová.—What do I hear?
Dvořák.—Be silent, malicious man.
Moravcová (To Výrava).—What! You would betray your own plan—you would refuse to go into the struggle to which God himself calls you!
Výrava.—Upon me God has laid a heavy hand—he has maimed my arm—he has maimed my soul.
Dvořák.—If the loss of your son for the moment has overwhelmed you—I ask you—should not his very death double your strength?
Výrava.—His death? Don’t remind me of it again.
Dvořák.—Yes, his death. You have lost your son whom you loved. But who was and is the cause of your loss?
Králíček and Others.—The lords! The lords!
Dvořák.—Yes, the lords for whose sake your son betrayed you. It is they who enticed him away from you.
Výrava (Roused).—Stop, stop—I will revenge—yes, revenge myself on them, I will have a terrible revenge. Whether he be dead or alive, they must be punished because they turned him against me. And not only Karmín—but the nobility—all of them.
Dvořák.—Well, then, arm yourself with vengeance, vengeance for your people and for your own son and lead us against his murderers!
Výrava.—I will lead you to vengeance, I will! All weakness has fallen away from me as the darkness of night falls away from the earth. Brothers, do you still believe in my power, do you still believe I have strength enough for a deed so great?
Řehák and People.—We believe, we believe!
Výrava.—Well, I will lead you to the castle!
The Men (Shouting joyously).—To the castle! To the castle!
Výrava.—But I need support now more than ever before. Václav, my son, come to me and do not leave your father!
Vaclav (Throws himself before him on his knees).—Father, dear father mine! (Kisses his hand.)
Výrava. (To Dvořák).—And also you, brave youth, come here to me. Let youth and strength pass over from you two into me!
Dvořák.—Sound the bugles, sound the horns—for to new life and new victories my people march.
Kyral.—There must be not one who will not join us in our common task. Výrava, the worm of jealousy and hate had begun to gnaw in my heart. But in this moment I am again myself,—your friend though it may be necessary to seal my words with death. (Gives his hand to Výrava.)
Lhotská.—And what about us—what remains for us?
Moravcová.—A prayer to God and everything that is possible for us to do to aid the men in this struggle.
Řehák (Comes running up).—Výrava! Neighbors! The troops of armed people increase, they are growing impatient. And from a distance can be heard the trampling of horses.
Kyral.—Perhaps it is help from somewhere for the castle.
Výrava.—We will forestall them.
Řehák.—All are anxious that we attack the castle.
Výrava.—Their will shall be fulfilled. The moon is setting and with it the light of its whole procession of stars in heaven. Set fire to the court (Several people hasten away) so that it may light our way to the battle. Let the flames of fire glare, and smoke be a signal to all the country that our people are rising to liberty. (A fire flares up.)
Cries.—The court in flames! The court in flames!
Výrava.—It is our torch! Yet higher than this flame will leap another when the castle falls into our hands. That one will I kindle with my own hand and I swear to God that not one stone shall remain on another in that place where I lost my son. To the castle, brothers, to the castle! (Seizes a standard which a farmer has been holding and hurries away at the head of the rest.)
Shouts from all.—To the castle! To the castle!
(The curtain falls.)
The same scene as in Act I.
On the balcony are Earl Roveredo, Karmín, the Secretary, an armed forester in the front part of balcony, in the rear three others. Later the servant Jiřík and afterwards Count Sterneck. (Day is beginning to dawn.)
Earl.—About how many of them are there?
Secretary.—About eight hundred.
Earl.—Eight hundred!—If the soldiers do not come in time, we are surely lost.
Karmín.—They are hesitating, they don't dare. They’re not likely to attack the castle before daylight and by that time help must surely arrive.
Earl (Contemptuously).—Must; for Karmín desires it!
Karmín.—And if they should not come that early, we nevertheless can hold the castle for a few hours.
Earl.—Yes, for a few hours its walls will stand. But the farmers will overwhelm us like a flood. (With a reproach.) If they once enter the castle, who will undertake to hold them back?
Karmín.—Your Grace. . . . (In embarrassment.)
(At the left there appears in the sky a tiny glow and then a great flaring light.)
Earl.—Not a word more. I also can die. But when I consider that your action is to blame for this whole storm. . . . (Observing the glow.) For God’s sake—a conflagration! (A distant tumult.)
Secretary.—The farmers have set fire to the court.
Earl.—Hear them!—They are either exulting around the fire, or else they have already set out against us. (Hurrying steps are heard.)
Karmín.—Listen! Who is that?
Jiřík (Runs out gasping for breath).—Your Grace, the farmers are marching against the castle! (Runs back of the castle.)
Earl (Commanding).—The signal for defense! Get weapons ready! (In the castle a number of signals are given indicated by the short notes of the forest horn.)
Cries in the castle.—Attention! Attention! To your places!
Karmín.—Gracious Earl, pray save yourself!
Earl.—I am protecting my home. I shall remain here.
(The balcony fills up with armed people. The distant noises sound nearer.)
Cries (In the distance).—To the castle! (At the edge of the park, appear Výrava, Dvořák, Václav, Králíček and other peasants who quietly steal towards the front.)
The preceding. Výrava, Dvořák, Králíček, later Sterneck, Kyral.
Secretary (In muffled tones).—Here they are, here they are!
Earl (In muffled tones).—Get ready to fire.
Výrava.—They are waiting for us. But there won’t be many of them and we can easily overwhelm them.
Králíček.—Výrava, request them to surrender.
Dvořák.—Nothing of the sort. (Converses animatedly with Výrava. In the castle, steps and noises are heard.)
Sterneck (Behind the scenes).—To the Earl at once! (Enters from left side and goes towards the balcony accompanied by an armed servant of the castle.)
Earl.—Sterneck, you here? Go around the other way.
Sterneck.—No, indeed. I’ll get to you quicker this way. (Leaps up on the balcony.) So—I’m here!
Karmín.—And military help?
Sterneck.—Will be here in a little while. I hastened ahead with that news to you.
Karmín.—Then there’s no need to fear anything. (To the Earl.) Allow, me, your Grace, to carry out something against those over there. (Points towards the insurrectionists.) I think my design will succeed.
Earl.—What do you wish to do?
Karmín.—To capture or kill Výrava.
Výrava (Steps into the foreground).—In the name of all the people standing behind me, I demand your surrender.
Karmín. (Bursts out with four foresters upon Výrava).—Yes,—we’ll surrender—thus! (He attacks Výrava whom he tries to pull to the ground. Shouts of the people. Výrava rises, Václav, Dvořák and others overpower the foresters who remain between them and the castle. Výrava dashes Karmín to the ground.)
Výrava.—So, Karmín, so! (Kills him. Joyous outcry of the people.)
Dvořák.—The vampire is destroyed, the wolf is killed. God delivered him into our hands!
Výrava (To the castle inmates).—The fate that awaits you! Surrender! (The people carry off Karmín and lead away the captives.)
Earl.—Our answer: Fire!
Výrava (To his people).—Ours in the name of the Lord! To the castle! (Several shots are fired on both sides. The farmers are gaining the balcony and struggle with the defenders of the castle who try to prevent them from entering.)
Sterneck.—Why do the soldiers delay, why don’t they fly to our help? (In the distance is heard the military bugle and tumult.)
Výrava (In the front with Kyral).—Soldiers? (The battle begins to cease, all giving attention to the sound of the war bugles and the clatter of troops.)
Voices (Among the people).—The soldiers! The soldiers!
Sterneck.—Help is coming!
Výrava.—We must gain command of the castle. To the castle, the castle! (Again all rush towards the balcony. Just then the war horn sounds very near and from the side of the castle a division of soldiers led by Charvat burst directly upon the rebellious throng.)
Výrava.—We are your brothers. Join us! Help us to our rights! (In the distance on the left is heard a military horn and an uproar.)
Charvát.—We’ll help you in the meantime to wounds and irons! Lay down your arms!
Kyral (Comes running up to Výrava all out of breath).—Výrava! Výrava! The cuirassiers have attacked the village and are striking down everyone they meet. (Day begins to break.) Come quickly to help them with all who are here. (Shouts and trumpeting.)
Výrava.—Has Satan himself risen against us? To the castle! (A number of women running rapidly and screaming burst on the scene. They are fleeing from soldiers who appear on the edge of the forest ready to fire.)
The Women.—Save us! Save us!
Výrava.—To the attack! To the attack! (The women hide themselves behind the men so that they cannot advance.)
Charvát.—Surrender! Or we’ll shoot you down like animals.
Výrava.—I will not surrender. (It is broad day.)
Mrs. Kyral (Comes running up).—They will kill us! They are burning the village! Come! Help us!
Dvořák (Leaps forward).—We’ll not get the castle! Let us set out against them. . . . If we win, the castle cannot escape us.
Kyral.—Yes, there, there (Points in the direction from which shooting and tumult is heard) we must first decide it all.
Výrava.—Then, to battle! (Hastens with all his followers towards the left while the women’s lamentations are heard. After a short skirmish at the left with the soldiers whom they force to give way, Výrava and his followers depart behind the scenes.)
Charvát, Count Sterneck, the castle inmates, later Jeroným, then Sylvia, and soldiers in the castle.
Charvát (Calling after the insurrectionists).—Hurry, hurry! You’ll never get back whole to the castle!
Earl (Stepping down from the balcony gives his hand to Charvát).—Dear Captain, is there really enough military help near at hand?
Charvát.—Enough to tame these peasants. I have definite orders to settle things here either by mild means or by force and then to avoid further disturbance at once by announcing freedom and abolition of feudalism. We’ll try force first and then we’ll see if we can grasp the good. (To the soldiers.) Ho, fellows!
Earl.—What do you intend to do?
Charvát.—To help our soldiers. In the meantime, noble Sir, protect your castle against a sudden attack. I will return after a while. Forward! (Departs with the soldiers at the right. The Earl departs towards rear of balcony. Sterneck also leaves the balcony. Only two guards who are facing the front remain on the balcony. From the front of the castle Jeroným steps forth. His left hand is bandaged and in a black handkerchief sling. His head is uncovered.)
Jeroným.—Cursed by my own father. . . . He hastens into battle where certain destruction faces him and I am here with those who seek his life—and I do not go to his help! Oh! if only his bullet had found my very heart. (Sylvia approaches him and hears his last words. She lays her hand on his arm. Then only does Jeroným see her.)
Sylvia (With hidden feeling).—And what of Sylvia—what is she to wish for when she hears such words?
Jeroným.—Sylvia—I am yours—your own. But I know not what miracle will keep me alive unless it be that charm which is greater than desperation itself.
Sylvia.—Defy fate! Hope! (She presses his hand and hastens away to the castle.)
Earl (Enters with Sterneck).—Who has won? (Four foresters enter waving their hats towards the castle.)
Forester.—The peasants are overwhelmed and captured!
Earl.—Is it true?
Forester.—Here they come with the leaders.
Enter Charvát, behind him Výrava in ropes, followed by two soldiers who guard him, then Dvořák, also bound and wounded, with head bandaged, two soldiers, Kyral, tied with ropes, Králíček, Václav and others, all under guard. From the rear at the left enter weeping women and other people. At the right the balcony fills with castle servants some of whom are also ranged below around the balcony.)
Charvát (Mockingly to the captured farmers).—Just come forward, Sir peasants. If you had courage enough for a rebellion, don’t be afraid of a tribunal.
Výrava.—Who of us fears it? On whom do you see any fear of death? All is not ended yet.
Charvát.—Ho, a table and chairs, that we may end things quickly!
(The women crowd around Charvát and the Earl.)
The Women.—Mercy, pardon! (The soldiers drive away the women and make a large circle around the captives, separating them from the rest of the people.
Charvát.—Back, women, and behave quietly. (To the Earl.) Here is my authority from the district government of His Majesty, the Emperor, empowering me to instant performance of justice in mutinous villages. (Hands it to The Earl.) In the name of the government I announce that all who have rebelled against their overlords are under penalty of death. (Great agitation among the people beyond the circle of soldiers, weeping and lamentation.)
The Women and People.—God in Heaven! Woe! Woe! Mercy! Grace!
Výrava.—O shameless race! For you I went into the struggle and you beg for mercy for us and for yourself? Who is such a wretch that he would plead for his life?
Dvořák.—Kill, murder us! . . .
Charvát.—Silence, I command. Through the mercy of our most gracious Emperor who is the father of his people, the government remits the heaviest penalty even to the greatest sinners and orders thus:
Charvát.—The subjection of the people is this day and this moment wholly abolished on the basis of the imperial patent and feudalism is modified until the time when it shall be wholly annulled.
Cries.—Glory to the Emperor! Glory to the Emperor!
Výrava.—Thanks to God and the Emperor! Oh, take all in sacrifice—now I shall gladly lose my life!
Charvát.—However, as a punishment for the spilling of blood and for incendiarism, I announce in the name of the district government: From each insurrectionist estate and land-holding, one mature man must be enrolled in the army. The plotters of the rebellion will, it is true, have their life, estate and liberty assured them, but as a fine and as a humiliation as well and a punishment for their crime they shall be publicly flogged here in the presence of their lords and of their people whom they stirred up to rebel. To each one a hundred blows running a gauntlet of soldiers and that without forbearance or mercy. (The soldiers begin to untie the bonds of the captives.)
Jeroným (Aside).—Everlasting God! Výrava (Horrified).—Captain! Court!
Charvát.—What do you wish?
Výrava.—I will accept every punishment—even the greatest fine—I am ready to lose all my possessions, I am ready even to lay my head on the block—but from a flogging—spare me, spare me!
Charvát.—Oho! so the farmer who ought to hang is in fear now of a whipping? The court has expressed itself and its decisions shall abide!
Výrava.—For the mercy of God, spare me that punishment, that shame. I will suffer anything only forbear to put on me such humiliation—on me, Výrava!
Charvát.—I have spoken and from my word there is no appeal.
Výrava.—In my life I shall never again humble myself before anyone—but from horror of the shame which is to overtake me, I kneel before you. Command your soldiers to shoot me as a penalty for my deed. I will go to my death, yes, I’ll be grateful to you for it as for a gracious deed. But do not have me flogged!
Earl (Having taken Charvát to the front says to him privately while all the others animatedly but in low voices talk to each other).—If you can, forgive him. I wonder if you know how deeply the people of this district feel about their honor? Two hundred years ago they obtained from the nobility the concession, when convicted, of suffering any other punishment—fine, imprisonment, even death—but not beating. Those who are here may not all know of the concession but the sense of their honor has remained unextinguished and it is as intense as in the noblemen themselves. You should remit the punishment by flogging because of the exceptional nature of these people.
Charvát (In a low voice).—I can’t act contrary to my orders. Let them thank God that the government ordered the imposition of the smallest punishment not desiring by cruelty to provoke further peasant uprisings. I am sorry, Earl, that I can’t accommodate you.
Voices (Of the people who have been observing the quiet conversation of the Earl with Charvát, in hushed tones).—He will grant him mercy, the Earl has spoken in his behalf.
Charvát (To Výrava in a loud voice).—Your pleadings are in vain. Bring the sticks here! Soldiers, form two files and leave a lane between, for the prisoner to march through.
Výrava (Wildly).—But not alive! (Attempts to hurl himself upon Charvát. The soldiers seize him and throw him to the ground.)
Charvát.—More slowly, fellow.
Jeroným (Rushes forward).—Mercy! Mercy! Mercy on my father!
(The servants bring hazel-rods and give them to the soldiers who form a lane extending into the wings so that only three soldiers with sticks are on the stage.)
Výrava.—You here—you alive! I did not shoot you? Oh, thanks to God!—But are you still with these blood-thirsty murderers of ours, are you still in the service of the nobles? You opposed me when I marched against the castle? You the catchpoll of our tyrants. . . .
Jeroným.—Terror of God! Father!
Výrava.—Back, you vultures! (Casts both soldiers off and steps up to the table to Charvát.) Will you have me killed—won’t you remit the flogging?
Charvát.—Bind him and lead him by force through the lane! (The soldiers hurl themselves on Výrava. They tear off his coat and tie his arms in front of him.)
Výrava. (More to himself than aloud).—Immortal God, do not permit this shame to fall on me, do not suffer me to be delivered up to mockery before the people. Dear God, grant me this prayer! Grant it!
Charvát.—Forward! (The soldiers push Výrava towards the soldiers with the sticks. Výrava staggers. The first soldier strikes him across the back with a stick.)
Výrava (Screams and falls).—Thus—Father in Heaven—I praise you. (Falls dead to the ground.)
Earl.—He has fallen! Stop!
Charvát.—A swoon? (Steps up to him and quickly feels his hands and heart.) By the Lord—the man is no longer alive—his heart is not beating!
Charvát.—The devil take the luck!
Jeroným.—My father dead? Father, father! (All step back from the corpse, Jeroným throws himself down upon it.) Father mine! (A moment without a movement.) Murderers! (To Charvát.) Murderer! (Seizes a rifle with a bayonet from one of the soldiers and rushes upon Charvát. Two soldiers, however, leap into his path with bayonets extended and pierce his body.) Alas! (He falls.)
(Several women run away screaming.)
Václav.—Brother! (Falls weeping upon the body of the dead man.)
Charvát.—So, so—iron is cooling under the ribs.
Bětuška (Comes forward sobbing towards Jeroným).—My Jeroným! My poor Jeroným!
Sylvia (Enters hurriedly and beholds the corpse of Jeroným).—Jeroným! (She reels.)
Jeroným.—Yes, Sylvia, Countess, one of my two wishes is fulfilled . . . God be with you! . . .
Sylvia.—He is dying! He is dying! (She throws herself upon him and weeps. Then she kneels, places a rose from her bosom on his, rises, dries her tears and looking about proudly, says) With this rose, I give you all that dwelt in my bosom. Now more than ever I am wholly yours, during my lifetime I shall be only yours! (She departs towards the castle. Sterneck looks after her in astonishment.)
Earl (To Charvát).—And what for these men here? (Points towards the other bound captives and talks with Charvát.)
Václav.—Father dear! Oh, my brother!
Bětuška (Fervently).—Václav! (She comforts him.)
Charvát (To the people).—Return freely to your own roofs, you are free! You have all been ransomed by the death of Výrava! (A movement among the people.)
Dvořák (Alone in the front).—And with us are liberated and redeemed through this man (Points to Výrava) and through those who fell in the battle—all the people. Oh, rejoice to our Saviour, to God, not for our life but that he has freed us from slavery, from bondage and that he leads you like a fiery column to liberty and to his glorification!
(The curtain falls.)
- ↑ Novomestsko.
- ↑ Skočná, a merry, tripping dance tune.
- ↑ A Bohemian proverb.
- ↑ Krejcar—(greutzer) of the 18th century had the value of about half of an American cent.
- ↑ A play on his family name. Maršálek is the diminutive of marsál—marshal, hence Little Marshal.
- ↑ Slavík—a nightingale.
- ↑ Hruška—a pear.
- ↑ *A very old Bohemian folk song or ballad of a child which goes to the grave of its mother and complains of the cruel treatment of its step-mother. It scratches the grave with a pin trying to get to its mother. The mother’s voice replies calling the child to her and in three days the child dies.
- ↑ The term “strýee” (uncle) is frequently used among people who are well acquainted without implying any blood relationship.
- ↑ Kolác pronounced kolatch, a tart made of sweetened dough and filled with preserves, fresh fruit, raisins or poppy-seed as the case may be.
- ↑ Gauntlet, from “gantlope” or “gatlope” (Swedish) made up of gata, a street, and lopp, a course. A military punishment which consisted in making the culprit, naked to the waist, pass repeatedly through a lane formed of two rows of soldiers, each of whom gave him a stroke as he passed, with a short stick or other similar weapon.
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