Poet Lore/Volume 31/Number 4/Dobromila Rettig

2852310Poet Lore, vol. 31, winter number — Dobromila RettigAlois Jirásek



By Alois Jirásek[2]

Authorized Translation from the Bohemian
By Bernice Heřman
George Rapall Noyes

Song by
Dorothea Prall


Dobromila Rettig, a magistrate's wife.
Mrs. Roller.
Mrs. Roubínek.
Lenka town girls.
Ančka, housekeeper of Dr. Plavec.
Kačenka, servant of Mrs. Rettig.
Dr. Plavec, physician and surgeon.
Dr. Gulich, advocate, juris doctor.
Roubínek, a registrar.
Roubal, a steward.
Valenta, a huntsman.
Chadima shoemakers
Vacek, a student.
A Teacher's Assistant.
Všetečka, a musician.
The action takes place at Litomyšl, in the year 1836.


A section of the castle park at Litomyšl. An abundance of beech, ironwood, linden, and maple trees; also bushes. In the foreground a wide gravel walk. A curving path runs from this to the rear. Alongside the path, at the rear, under a spreading ironwood, is a little bench that can easily be seen from the walk in the foreground. On the spectators' right a part of a renaissance castle can be seen through the trees and bushes. A golden glow plays on the trunks and branches of the trees. It is Sunday morning. From the castle chapel, which cannot be seen, the sound of chimes and the muffled voice of an organ break the silence.

Scene I

Tyny, later Frony.

Tyny, a girl of eighteen, dressed in light summer clothes, is absorbed in reading. At her waist is a knot of ribbons. She wears slippers and white stockings, with ribbon cross-lacings that extend above her ankles. Frony, a girl of twenty similarly dressed, appears from the background among the trees. She stands unobserved, at a distance from the bench, toward which she then steals on tiptoe. Smiling, she glances eagerly over Tyny's shoulder.

Frony.—That must be beautiful!

Tyny (Turning around quickly).—How you frightened me! (With a smile.) You! With your pussy paws!

Frony.—What are you reading?

(Tyny hands her the book and looks at her intently, with a smile.)

Frony (Reads in a low voice).—"Václav and Terezka." Bohemian? And do you understand it? Is it nice?

Tyny.—Beautiful, simply beautiful! I've already shed tears over it. Máli Roller would not laugh at me as she did yesterday when she saw me with a Bohemian book, if she read this.

Frony.—Well, you know this is hochböhmisch[3]. I myself—but in the Lesekränzchen[4] they have fine reading! There I read how a youth and a maid, deeply in love, schwuren ewige Liebe[5], and how she gave him a goldenen Ring.[6] [Suddenly.] You got this book—?

Tyny.—From Mrs. Rettig, the magistrate's wife.

Frony.— O, I thought it was from a certain student you know!

Tyny (Gaily).—No, I shall lend him the book, though.

Frony.—Ah! And right here, of course. I'd better be going.

Tyny.—There's no such hurry; I want you to be sure of that. Come and sit down by me. [Makes room for her.]

Frony.—For just a moment then. (Seats herself.) You see I'm on my way to the castle, to mass. Shall you stay here for the morning promenade? They say that there is some talk about Mrs. Rettig. Tell me, Tyny, tell me truly, how are those lessons at her place?

Tyny.—O, I always look forward to them, I only wish that there were more of them every week. Auntie—

Frony (With a smile).—Auntie!—

Tyny.—That is, the magistrate's wife. She reads Bohemian with us, explains everything beautifully. And she teaches us woman's work too.

Frony (Suddenly).—And Tyny dear, (confidentially, eagerly) sometimes students come there—

Tyny (Quickly).—No, never; that's a slander!

Frony.—But they go to Mrs. Rettig's house for Bohemian books.

Tyny (Emphatically).—But when we aren't there.

Frony.—Well, then they come here to the park. Now don't get angry, but really Mrs. Rettig is a great matchmaker.

Tyny.—That isn't true!

Frony.—And how about Lenka the tax-collector's daughter? She won't go to her any more; she's going to get married.


Frony.—She is engaged, really. I just now heard it. She is going to marry Dr. Plavec. Well, he is a patriot too, and a good friend of Mrs. Rettig and her husband. He visits them.

Tyny.—That is impossible! He is surely a man past sixty, and Lenka is so young that—

Frony (Catches her by the hand, motioning to her).—Softer; look, here they are—there you have them.

Scene II

The same, Lenka, Dr. Plavec

Lenka, a girl of twenty, more poorly dressed than Frony and Tyny, in a light-colored gown, enters with Dr. Plavec from the left on the main walk in the foreground. Plavec is a man of sixty, with gray hair; he wears a dark coat, white neckerchief, and beaver hat, and carries a cane in his hand. Tyny and Frony, horrified, watch them curiously.

Plavec (Good naturedly).—My dear Miss Lenka, you are in a great hurry. Uf! I have delayed you; mass has already begun.

Lenka (Slackens her pace and speaks quietly).—We shall probably get there before it is over.

Plavec.—Today everything went wrong. Even on Sunday there is no peace. Ančka kept announcing people. So many patients from the villages!

Lenka.—You should not have hurried so on my account, doctor.

Plavec (Goodnaturedly, cheerfully).—There, there, not at all! That would be a sad state of affairs. I was glad to hurry, though I myself am somewhat of a patient, it is true. But no more of this "doctoring" me, my dear Lenka, no more of that. (They go out on the right.)

Scene III

Frony, Tyny

Frony (Rising quickly).—There now, are you convinced!

Tyny.—I am stupified.

Frony.—Such an old grandfather!

Tyny.—Why does she do it!

Frony.—Why! Because the old man has gone crazy and wants to make her a doctor's wife. She will have a title, be a gentlewoman.

Tyny.—I don't think so. That isn't a bit like Lenka.

Frony.—You won't give her up. Just ask Mrs. Rettig, "auntie;" she will tell you. Besides, at her house Lenka was embroidering something for him, for the doctor, with hair, on white silk, and with a Bohemian motto.

Tyny.—Yes, that's true; she was embroidering:

"Sail on, unceasingly;
Avoid every depth and rock!"

Frony.—Mrs. Rettig made that up.

Tyny.—But we all thought that Lenka was embroidering that for the doctor for his Saint's day, out of gratitude to him for having saved her father from death. And the children were ill too; and there was the tax-collector with his small salary, you know—and after such an illness—

Frony.—And she was embroidering it for her future husband! But now I'm going to the chapel to watch that old man gazing on Lenka with verliebt[7] eyes. And you (tauntingly) you will stay here until Mr—

Tyny.—No; and to be sure that you don't think so, I will go with you.

Frony (Going).—No, such an old man und so[8](Laughs.)

Tyny.—But to think that Lenka! What has happened!

Frony (Recollecting something).—And the retainer—

Tyny.—Gracious! And he has come home to see this!

Frony (Sympathetically).—Well, the poor fellow. (They go out on the right.)

Scene IV

Dr. Gulich, Roubal (a Steward).

Dr. Gulich enters on the left in the foreground. He is a man over fifty, of a sallow complexion, with side whiskers and hair curling slightly over his forehead. He is dressed in a fashionable brown dress-coat and wears a black satin neckerchief.

Gülich.Gehorsamster Diener,[9] steward. Have you also come for the morning promenade? (Waits for him to approach.)

Roubal, who has come in from the rear, walks toward Gulich. He too is a man of over fifty, with a full, red face and light yellow hair. He wears a blue dress-coat,, with yellow buttons, tight trousers, high top boots, and a beaver hat. A huge watch fob swings from the pocket of his white flowered waistcoat. He walks slowly with his hands behind him. He has a gruff way of speaking.

Gülich.—How did you sleep?

Roubal.—I? I didn't sleep much; I went to bed late, it was past eleven o'clock. The count has come home unexpectedly from his world tour.

Gülich.—So I hear. He arrived alone with just a huntsman.

Roubal.—That was a commotion!

Gülich.—How does the count look, after his illness on the trip?

Roubal.—Thin as a rail and brown as a gypsy.

Gülich.—No wonder, after so long a journey.

Roubal (With evident incredulity).—They say, clear to Africa.

Gülich.—And why not?

Roubal.—They say, clear to the Red Sea; they say he has brought back a sample of it in a bottle.

Gülich (With a malicious smile).—And is it red?

Roubal.—I haven't seen it. O, I know how things will go now; nothing but hunting up things to show. (Suddenly.) But it certainly paid the hunter to go.

Gülich.—Retainer Valenta?

Roubal.—A retainer no longer. Because he had courage and started out with the count, and also because he cared for the count during his illness—

Gülich.—He has received a huntsman's house.

Roubal.—In Lubná. The count told him yesterday when they arrived here.

Gülich.—Now there will be a chase after the young forester.

Roubal.—What sort of chase?

Gülich.—Of his bride to be.

Roubal (Annoyed).—Huh! (Advances.)

Gülich.—I wonder if the count knows already what happened today. We had quite a laugh over it, didn't we?

Roubal.—I? Laugh? I was enraged, I should like you to know. On account of the colt. You know that brown mare's colt; you know it.

Gülich (Laughs ironically).—How could I help but know!

Roubal.—Such a creature, such a little darling! (Growing heated.) With legs like a doe's—

Gülich.—Has something happened?

Roubal (Explodes).—It is bewitched—

Gülich (Suppressing a smile).—That can hardly be.

Roubal.—Why not! The boy led it out this morning, here (points behind him), a little way into the yard. He was leading it about and it was jumping so that it made you happy to watch it, when the devil brought—

Gülich.—An old woman.

Roubal.—Of the devil's own breed (with ironic respect) Mrs. Rettig, the magistrate's wife. She was on her way to the park, and immediately (mimics her voice): "Ah, what a most exquisite colt!" Wissen sie, wie sie spricht?[10] (Repeats maliciously.) "Ex-qui-site colt." May the devil—Who asked her to? "Ex-qui-site"—

Gülich.Das ist hochböhmisch, das treffen Sie nicht.[11]

Roubal.—But why this hochböhmisch! The colt all of a sudden began to shake and sweat (with emphasis).—And then you say: "That can hardly be". You will find out when they write to the papers about it; they will write it up fine. It's the truth.

Gülich.—I would rather write up what they did to her today.

Roubal.—To the Rettig woman? (Annoyed). What then?

Gülich.Sie möchte halt alles böhmisch haben,[12] the whole city, even the shop signs, you know—

Roubal.Ach, was[13] unheard of!

Gülich.—And, you know, she has already won over the shoemaker Chadima, that reader of books. He had one painted: "Frantisek Chadima, shoemaker," (sneeringly) o-buv-ník in Bohemian, you know; and this morning the sign read: "Franz Chadima, scoundrel," o-hav-ník.

Roubal (With a malicious smile).—Serves her right. Why does she mix into this business, a woman? (They walk slowly a few steps.)

Gülich.—And she wants to have a play; that's a new thing too.

Roubal.—Mrs. Rettig! Wants to take part in a play? (Begins to laugh maliciously.) Well, well, she would look fine.

Gülich.—No, not that, but she—

Roubal (With a shrug).—And I simply can't stand plays. I don't go to the theater, can't bear even to hear of it. If a king played a king's part and a count that of a count, then it would be something like; but as it is, the common trash gets lordly-and I am supposed to look on? And what about this Rettig woman, who they say—?

Gülich.—She wants the people of this town to take part; Dilettantenvorstellung, aber böhmisch.[14]

Roubal.—And in the castle, I suppose; no, in the castle theater.

Gülich.—Where French and German plays are given; not that. (With a sneer.) For the time being only "at the sign of the Black Eagle."

Roubal.—That would be a fine state of affairs, at the castle! "Ex-qui-site colt, ex-qui-site!"—She had better let such business alone.

Gülich (With a sneer).—And magistrate Rettig doesn't approve of this much, as I hear. Just lately, they say, he complained: "If I could only have some nice soup!" But so it goes: the little lady has to be constantly making experiments even with the potato vine itself; always experimenting and inventing!

Roubal.—And she passes off such things on him; they are neither salty nor greasy, and so not even goody. (Laughs at his own joke. Both retire to the rear, where they disappear among the trees.)

Scene V

Mrs. Roller, Mrs. Roubínek, Roubínek

Before the entrance of the characters, Mrs. Roller's loud laughter is heard at the left, behind the scenes.

Mrs. Roller is short and slight, middle-aged; Mrs. Roubínek is quite young in her appearance: both are in Sunday attire. Roubínek is short and slight, with a pale, cold face; he wears a dark brown coat, blue-gray trousers, and a beaver hat, and carries a cane; he follows the ladies in frigid dignity.

Mrs. Roller (Still laughing).—As I just said, Frau von Roubínek, it is the truth. This morning they found on the sign, so grosse Lettern:[15] (with a gesture) "Franz Chadima, scoundrel."

Mrs. Roubinek (Turning to her husband).—Do you hear, Roubínek?

Roubínek (Approaches gravely and while still walking begins to speak with chill precision).—That's the way it goes when one tries needless innovations. Such things are absolutely needless. Shop signs have always been in German. Emperor Joseph and Zizka were patriots too; we have this church as a memorial of them, and

Mrs. Roubínek (Breaking in hurriedly).—Frau von Roller, I should not entrust my Lotty to Mrs. Rettig. It isn't necessary to learn Bohemian.

Mrs. Roller.—Of course; that is only for the common people. And what else could she learn there—possibly to gossip a little. As for instance—

Mrs. Roubínek (Hastily).—Was there anything of that sort?

Mrs. Roller.—Haven't you hear about my Máli?

Mrs. Roubínek (Looking her in the eye).—No. What is it?

Mrs. Roller.—That talk! It surely came from there, since they gather so often at Mrs. Rettig's. And what about! They say that when the academy was in session here and our Máli was about to speak her piece, she first painted the corners of her mouth with white of egg, so that her mouth shouldn't look so large.

Mrs. Roubínek (With feigned exasperation).—Nein, das ist unverschämt![16] Fraulein Máli is as pretty as picture and has a small mouth..

Mrs. Roller.—I think that the gossip came from there, wie ich sag.[17]

Mrs. Roubínek.—They should be careful themselves. It is a rendezvous, they say. The young ladies go on the pretext of learning literary Bohemian and cooking, and—the students follow them (maliciously) to Mrs. Rettig's for Bohemian books.

Mrs. Roller.—If it were only the students—but the Rettig woman is also helpful to their elders, even to the real old men, you may say. You heard that about Dr. Plavec?

Mrs. Roubínek.—Dr. Plavec? That patriot? What is it?

Mrs. Roller.—What is it? Ein Skandal, wirklich ein Skandal![18] (Starts to leave, towards the right. Mrs. Roubíne accompanies her. Roubínek ''dallies and is left behind.)

Mrs. Roubinek.—(As she is passing out, she glances around at her husband and calls to him with dissembled affection; but in the tone of her voice one can detect aversion and command).—Aber,[19] Roubínek! (Goes out on the right.)

Roubínek (With a start).—I'm coming, Betty. (Hastens his steps somewhat, still keeping his stiff dignity.) But I won't run, though.

Scene VI

Rejsek, Roubínek; later Gulich and Roubal.

Rejsek, a dignified man of fifty, smooth-shaven, wearing a white neckerchief, enters from the right.

Rejsek.—Good morning to you, registrar.

Roubínek (With chilly dignity).—Thank you. (Goes out on the right. Rejsek scowls after him. Roubal and Gülich come in from the left.

Gülich.—Ah, craftsman. And where were you going?

Rejsek (Points backward with his finger, to the right).—I have just been at the prefect's, to bring his lady a pair of shoes. That is a long trip.

Gülich.—Well, and how goes it with Chadima?

Rejsek.—With Chadima? What do you mean, pray?

Gülich.—Go ask him; but take care, for you know that he is rocky.

Roubal.—Rocky? Was ist das?[20]

Gülich (To Roubal).—Don't you know? There are two varieties of shoemakers, the field variety and the rocky variety. The rocky ones are wilder, and when they get angry they bristle up their backs. And Chadima is—

Rejsek (Reddening).—Chadima, doctor, is an excellent workman, a good man, and not stupid.

Gülich.—O, a reader of books, like yourself; we know, we know.

Rejsek.—And that some learned gentlemen dislike! Rocky or not, he is a good man. And I should like to inquire how many varieties of advocates there are, and to what variety you belong. Good day. (Goes out on the left.)

Scene VII

Gulich, Roubal, later Ančka.

Gülich.—Just listen to him pipe to his shoemaker's last  And he is of the field variety, the milder sort—then what must the rocky ones be like!

Roubal.—Chadima—(chuckles). What a spat!

Gülich.—Let him alone! You heard him: readers of books, literary fellows! How he talks! Sutor ne ultra crepidam[21]. But that's the way it goes. Even in that, Mrs. Rettig has her fingers. People don't take things into consideration. These look like mere trifles: Bohemian shop signs, Bohemian declamations, a Bohemian theater, Bohemian books, and so forth—but she is ensnaring young girls, has students in her power, the whole young generation. She knows well what she wants, to turn everything topsy-turvy.

Roubal.—A woman! To upset everything, a woman!

Ančka (Comes in from the left. She is a woman of fifty, wearing a white cap, a blue apron under which may be seen a purse, and slippers).—Good morning, gentlemen. Have you seen the doctor, may I ask?

Gülich.—Is he wanted by some patient?

Ančka.—Some one is waiting for him at his house.

Gülich.—And you gave him no advice? They say that you too make out prescriptions.

Ancka.—Don't laugh, please. After so many years a person is bound to learn a few things if she isn't stupid. I do know aconite, belladonna, and so forth, and also for what each is given. But for you I should have no medicine; you are past helping.


Ančka.—You will never get married. (Roubal chuckles.}}

Gülich.—That is a hard proposition, just as with you.

Ančka (Quickly).—O no, with your pardon. Just last Suday truly, Bouček's journeyman asked me if I would be his wife.

Gülich (Mockingly).—He is young, too young.

Ančka.—O, much younger than you—in the flower of his youth.

Gülich.—You surely must have trembled.

Ančka.—Yes, with anger.

Roubal. Oho
Gülich. (Laughing) Really!

Ančka.—Now they would pay court to an old woman, because she has a few hundreds saved up. But when I was young and not ugly, not ugly at all, then the young fellows did not want a poor girl and I turned away an old widower. And now I have a young fellow, though he melted away with love and kept saying that he liked me so much that he would breathe his last for me. "Not much," I told him; "What's the use? I can do my own breathing."

Gülich.—That's sensible, but yet you have been mixing medicines for the doctor.

Ančka.—I? But for heaven's sake, here I am talking—

Roubal.—He is in the chapel. (The sound of bells is heard from the chapel.)

Gülich.—Ah, he will be coming now, and not alone; we saw him down there. With his sweetheart.—

Ančka (Shivers with horror, then suddenly).— O, sir, don't make fun of me and of my master the doctor.

Gülich.—Are you afraid of losing your place?

Ančka (Hurriedly).—No indeed, how could I? Who else would look after his drugs and make his pills? And no one else makes dumplings so to his taste. (Suddenly.) Well, who was it. I beg you?

Gülich.—Go to the chapel; you will see.

Ančka.—Can he be there already with her? (Recollects.) Ah, that is why he hurried so today and was out of sorts when I announced the patients.

Scene VIII

The same, Vacek (a student), Dr. Plavec, Lenka.

Vacek comes in from the right, greets the company, and withdraws to the rear of the stage. Dr. Plavec and Lenka also approach from the right.

Ančka (In a stifled voice).—For heaevn's sake! (Turning to Gulich.) No, this can't be true. (Walks towards Dr. Plavec at a good pace.) Sir—

Roubal (To G lich).—Wir müssen gehen.[22]

Gulich motions him to wait; both withdrew towards the rear.

Plavec.—Well, what now, Ančka?

Ančka.—They say that—(Glances at Lenka, who looks down. Immediately collects herself. Some one is waiting at home, sir.)

Plavec.—Is it urgent?

Ančka.—Yes, he was very anxious to find you.

Plavec (Good naturedly, to Lenka).—How unfortunate I am! Such is my profession. And you wanted to go for a walk.

Lenka.—Tyny Šimek and Frony are here; I saw them in the chapel. I will take a walk with them.

Plavec.—I thought of accompanying you home.

Lenka (Resignedly).—If you wish.

Plavec (Tenderly).—No, no, Lenka dear, just go for that little walk and I will come for you; I will come. Nowadays a man must not begrudge the extra steps. And I can go a bit further with you. Lenka.—Please do. (They go out on the left.)

Gülich.Verliebter Narr![23] (Goes towards the right.)

Roubal (Chuckling).—There's nothing like an old fool. (Goes out with Gulich.)

Scene IX

Ančka, Valenta.

Ančka (With a horrified glance after Dr. Plavec and Lenka)—Well—(She turns and walks towards the rear.)

Valenta (Comes in quickly from the right. He wears a huntsman's jacket, tight trousers, and low boots with tops).—Good day to you, Ančka! (Follows her; they remain in the background.)

Ančka.—Goodness, retainer! Welcome home! I just now heard on my way that you came back last night with the count from far-off lands.

Valenta.—From very far-off lands, from the sea itself. Ančka dear, is the tax-collector's daughter here? Have you not seen her? (Suddenly) You know, Ančka, I am no longer a retainer.

Ančka.—Good gracious!

Valenta.—I am now a huntsman; I am moving to Lubná.

Ančka.—I know nothing about that!

Valenta (In joyous emotion).—Yesterday, when we had nearly reached the town, the count said to me out of a clear sky: "Well dear Vencl, now we have had our trip and are at last returning together." I was taken aback, but he went on merrily: "Well, you shall have no cause for sorrow. Or perhaps you would prefer to stay with me and not have a huntsman's house of your own at Lubná." I was fairly frightened for joy and blurted out: "Your Grace the Count, I should be glad to stay with you, but I should like to get married." The count laughed.

Ančka.—Good heavens!

Valenta (In his happy mood he does not notice her fright).— And now things will be different, Ančka; it will not be as it was when the tax-collector's family lived near you, and when you carried notes for us.

Ančka (Quickly).—But why didn't you write? Not a line from your travels. Miss Lenka was so worried.

Valenta.—I wrote, I did write, but I didn't hear a word for over half a year. It grieved me, but I comforted myself by thinking that there was nothing in it, that letters easily get lost in foreign lands.

Ančka.—And Miss Lenka too had a great deal to worry about. There was much trouble at her house. Her father fell dangerously ill, and she had everything on her hands: her sick father, her little sisters, her brother. She endured so much, poor thing, that I wonder she didn't fall ill herself.

Valenta.—But all is well now; the tax-collector has recovered.

Ančka.—My master brought him back to health. Indeed he took great pains with him, and—

Valenta.—And now things wil be better. Ančka dear, (joyfully) you won't be hiding letters for Lenka any more. She will be mine! Good Lord, little did I think that it would be so soon! Last night I scarcely closed my eyes, out of sheer joy. I could not wait for morning to come, and thought that I should run right over here.— But in the morning there was more work to do—though for the last time. And now I am on the run.—Is Lenka here? And what is she doing? Is she well? It is over a year since I saw her!

Ančka.—She is here; I caught sight of her.

Valenta.—Where, where; in front of us, down there? (Is hurrying of.)

Ančka.—Wait, Mr. Retainer!—

Scene X

The same; Tyny, Frony

Tyny and Frony enter from the right by the walk in the foreground.

Frony.—The doctor and Lenka are probably there (Pointing to the left.)

Tyny (Noticing Valenta).—Heavens! (Pokes Frony.) Look!

Frony.—O! (Both quickly pass to the left and glance about.)

Scene XI

Valenta, Ančka

Valenta (Noticing the girls, carelessly).—That was Tyny Simek and Frony. (Again preoccupied, anxiously, to Ančka.) But Ančka dear, which way must I go? (Pointing to the left.) This way?

Ančka (Gravely).—Mr. Retainer, when a person is most happy—and has nothing to be happy about—

Valenta (Amazed).—What is this? What—?

Ančka.—Here (pointing to the left) you may find Lenka, and now already alone.

Valenta.—Alone? Why, wasn't she there by herself? Was she there with some one?

Ančka.—She was, and I think she couldn't help it. I don't know at all, but this is what I think: that no matter who is with her there—especially some old tom cat—and then the young fellow comes whom she loved with all her heart and still does—

Valenta.—But what on earth, Ančka? What has happened?

Ančka.—I will tell you nothing but what I know; how fond she was of you, how she used to catch hold of me: "Ančka, Ančka dear, he came this way, he went by; did you see him? Just look! Isn't that becoming? Do you like it?" And then when I brought a note from you, the same joy; again: "Ančka, Ančka dear; you are so good!" That much is sure, and the rest—Even if the old man could bring the dead to life, he couldn't accomplish anything here—neither aconite nor belladonna, nothing, no amount of learning—! The heart will have no prescriptions.

Valenta (Listens with excitement, and finally with impatience; looks about him, and then suddenly exclaims).—She is unfaithful to me!

Ančka.—No storms now, no laments! And now go and have a talk with her (Points to the left.)

Valenta.—And I was so happy! (Hurries off to the left.)

Ančka gazes for a moment after him and then goes out at the rear.

Scene XII

Dr. Gülich, between Mrs. Roller and Mrs. Roubínek, and after them Roubínek and Roubal, come in from the right.

Mrs. Roller.Aber gewiss[24], just now our Máli told me.

Mrs. Roubínek.So ist es.[25] Tomorrow at the picnic, according to the plan, the students have agreed to sing in Bohemian.

Gülich.—Most likely those common, village songs that we hear in the fields. They are in fashion now with these Anabaptists.

Roubal.—Anabaptists, hm—

Mrs. Roubinek.—What does that mean, doctor?

Gülich.Das war eine Sekte.[26] They had themselves rebaptized, and these patriots are doing the same thing.

Mrs. Roller (Hastily).—Mrs. Rettig likewise?

Gülich.—Yes, madam.

Roubal (Mutters to Roubínek).—Baptize such an old woman!

Roubínek.—Unheard of!

Gülich.—Magdalena is her name, and the new one is Dobromila.[27]

Mrs. Roubínek.—Is that so!

Mrs. Roller.—And her husband the magistrate?

Gülich (With a sneer).—Johann Sudiprav.[28]


Gülich.—And Dr. Plavec is now Wenzl Lékomil.[29] (The two women laugh.)

Roubínek.—Unheard of! Emperor Joseph and Zizka were patriots too—

Mrs. Roubínek (Hastily).—Aber, Roubínek!

Gülich.—And, dear ladies, that patriotic society also has a secret emblem.

Mrs. Roller. Was?[30]
Mrs. Roubínek. Ach!
Roubínek. And the honorable authorities permit it!
Roubal (Peevishly).— What sort of an emblem!

Gülich.Georgine, die neue, moderne Blume[31]. Or, as they call it, dahlia.

Mrs. Roller.—Ah, now I understand! Last fall a stranger came here asking for Mrs. Rettig the magistrate's wife, and before he called on her he sent her a bouquet, lauter Georginen.[32]

Roubal.—Secret societies—

Gülich.—Whoever wishes to become a member must pass an examination aus Jungmann's grossem böhmischen Lexicon.[33]

Mrs. Roller (Glancing to the right).—Ah, the wife of Magistrate Rettig is coming.

Gülich (To Roubal).—Achtung,[34] steward, mind your grammar, look our for your declensions!

Roubal.—Let me alone; I—

Mrs. Roller.Und dann sagt man hochböhmisch[35] "been" not "bin."

Mrs. Roubínek.—And not ain't but isn't.

Roubal.—How happy that makes me!

Roubínek.—So we know what grammar is. Been and isn't! Hm, and good morning! Zizka and the Emperor Joseph were the best of Cechs. "I wish you good morning;" what a phrase! From time immemorial it has been, "Morning to you."

Roubal.—It's enough to make a man furious! I'd like to—! "Ex-qui-site colt!" Gehorsamster Diener[36]—(Goes out quickly on the left.)

Scene XIII

Mrs. Rettig; the same, without Roubal

Mrs. Rettig (Comes in from the right. She is a woman of fifty, in holiday attire; on her breast is a gold cross set with jewels, hanging from a gold chain. Graciously).—Good morning.

Gülich (Gallantly).—Gehorsamster.

Mrs. Roubínek. Guten Morgen![37]
Mrs. Roller.

Roubínek (With chilly dignity).—Morning to you!

Gülich.—Did you notice, madam, how the steward ran away?

Mrs. Rettig (Merrily).—Surely not on my account? Why should he run away? He has a clear conscience. He did not paint over Chadima's shop sign by night, or have the thing done for him. Some one else is responsible for that exploit.

Gülich.—Ah, so you have already heard of it! But the steward was afraid that you would give him an examination in Bohemian grammar.

Mrs. Rettig.—I couldn't pass one myself. For that there are specially educated men.

Gülich.—Who wants that of them?

Mrs. Roller.—And why should ladies too have to learn literary Bohemian? It is hard.

Mrs. Rettig.—I must confess that as a girl I could neither read nor write Bohemian. But it is not hard.

Mrs. Roubínek.—Now you give lessons in it yourself.

Mrs. Rettig.—Only from love of our native land do I strive to revive the mother tongue somewhat among those of my sex, and in general to help their souls to rise above the commonplace.

Mrs. Roller.—To make girls learn all that!

Mrs. Rettig.—It is necessary for them to be educated.

Mrs. Roubínek.—All of them?

Mrs. Rettig.—Each according to her capacity.

Mrs. Roller.—Then we shall not be able to get a single hired girl.

Mrs. Rettig.—We should not regard her as an inferior creature.

Gülich (Bitingly).—And I suppose that they should likewise be patriots!

Mrs. Rettig.—Each and every one of them.

Gülich.Das kann man nicht ernst nehmen.[38] Why all this? Am I to break my head over incomprehensible words? Am I to read those little books on coarse paper and leave my own Goethe and Schiller?

Mrs. Rettig (Hastily).—No indeed, we read them too.

Gülich.—Why then all these new words, diese Wortspielerei.[39]

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, I used to think that way myself. When I heard the word patriot it was enough to make me laugh. I used to think that that was a name given to such people as liked to speak Bohemian and who used the second person plural, and I thought that they got angry when they were addressed in the third person, German fashion. I thought that they cared only for using Bohemian words instead of German, and for nothing else. But later I heard that Jungmann, who has always been praised as a learned and a wise man, wept on the White Mountain,[40] and that Professor Kynský's eyes were full of tears when he lectured to the students about Charles IV[41]. That touched me. Then I began to understand that grave and learned men have something more at heart than mere quibbles over words, that they are struggling for something more, for more—and then—

Gülich.—Mr. Rettig was also an apostle.

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, I am happy that I can say so. I found a husband who led me on and whom I understood. He was already—

Gülich.—An Anabaptist.

Mrs. Rettig.—Even so (with a smile). That baptism was later; we were baptized in the parish church at Dobřan. Deacon Ziegler, now at Chrudim, thought of the idea.

Mrs. Roller and Mrs. Roubínek look at each other, bewildered; Roubínek is amazed.

Gülich.—Who was godmother for you?

Mrs. Rettig.—For me, nobody; but for my first child the Countess Kolovrat, born Countess Kinský, lady of the palace, and a sincere Bohemian.

Mrs. Roller.—Is it possible!

Mrs. Rettig.—Let me explain, ladies. The countess accepted the dedication of the book that I wrote for the daughters of Bohemia. Thus she was a sort of godmother, and if you wish, ladies, to see the baptismal gift—(She points to her gold cross and chain.)

Mrs. Roubínek.—Ah!

Mrs. Roller.—That was worth while.

Gülich.—But who knows of that work, madam? If you had but written in German—! Why found a new literature? It will always remain poor, kann nicht anders sein?[42] Why then, when we have already so great and so rich a literature? That will be of more service to culture und der Humanität. Und die ist das Höchste, der Gipfel der Bildung.[43]

Mrs Rettig.—But that great and rich literature is still only foreign and-Humanität![44] In its name you wish us to take our own lives, to cease to live. And we wish to live our own lives, doctor; we feel strength for life. To love one's country is a duty, is it not?

Gülich.—Yes, that is true.

Mrs. Rettig.—But to love one's country and people is impossible without loving and cultivating its language. That is an inseparable symptom of a people. And in that patriotism is it not an act of true humanity, of true culture, to raise a fallen nation, to defend it and its rights, to labor for the end that its sons and daughters may in their own language, in their own spirit serve culture and humanity?

Gülich.Ja, sehr schön, aber[45]

Mrs. Roller.—And it is also very nice that the patriots support one another so.

Mrs. Roubinek.—We must be on good terms with you, madam. We have daughters.

Mrs. Rettig.—I will receive them gladly if they come to me and wish to learn.

Mrs. Roubínek (Quickly).—O, not that: I was thinking—

Mrs. Roller.—If they needed husbands.

Mrs. Rettig.—Husbands! Do you mean to say that I supply husbands?

Gülich.—At least this last engagement.

Mrs. Roller.—Dr. Plavec—

Mrs. Roubínek.—A patriot—

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, and a friend of my husband.

Gülich.—And the tax-collector's daughter. He is going to marry her.

Mrs. Rettig.—I just heard of it a moment ago.

Mrs. Roubínek.—Only a moment ago?

Mrs. Roller.—And every one thinks that only through your help—

Mrs. Rettig.—Really? (With decision.) But pray believe me, that I knew nothing whatever of this, that I did not have the slightest foreboding, that I even refuse to believe it; and that, if it is true, I regard this match as unnatural, and that I will do my utmost to break it off.

Gülich.—O, then the cat would not catch mice; then (ironically) the novel would have a sad ending, without a marriage—and ladies do not like that.

Mrs. Rettig.—No, this novel would be sad if it ended in marriage. I am not of the opinion that every girl should get married merely for the sake of marrying, no matter who the man may be. That is the cause of much unhappiness, even immorality.

Mrs. Roller.—But the tax-collector's daughter will be a doctor's lady.

Mrs. Roubínek.—They will get used to each other.

Roubínek.—They must.

Mrs. Rettig.—But what if they do not get used to each other?

Gülich—(With a smile).—Then tragedy usually follows.

Mrs. Rettig.—And I do not wish any such thing either for that good man or that dear girl.

Mrs. Roller.—And you propose to separate them?

Mrs. Rettig.—I shall try.

Mrs. Roubínek.—We shall see.

Roubínek (Shufles from one foot to the other, looking upward).—Wife—

Mrs. Roubínek.—I am coming.

Mrs. Roller (To Mrs. Rettig).—If you do not believe this, madam, about the doctor and the tax-collector's daughter, you can convince yourself. They are here on the promenade. (Withdraws to the rear.)

Mrs. Rettig.—I will take a look. (Withdraws to the rear.)

Gülich.—Now we may have a chance to watch how the doctor bills and coos. (Withdraws, following the ladies. Mrs. Roubínek, with a laugh, does likewise.)

Roubínek (Follows her, last of all).—What a state of affairs! Unheard of! (Goes out after them.)

Scene XIV

Vacek, Tyny.

Vacek (Comes in at the left in the foreground, carrying the book which Tyny was reading on the bench).—Then tomorrow at the picnic—

Tyny.—Surely, and that book—

Vacek.—I will read it immediately, in order to see you quickly again. And tomorrow we will sing Bohemian songs, until Mrs. Roller and Dr. Gülich turn green with fury.

Tyny.—O, I am looking forward to it! (Suddenly.) But poor Lenka!

Vacek.—Poor retainer!

Tyny.—O, when she saw him so unexpectedly! How she did catch hold of Frony! (They go out on the right.)

Scene XV

Lenka, Frony

Lenka comes in from the rear in evident agitation, with Frony. She stops by the bench.

Frony (Looks around).—He is following us.

Lenka (Looks around excitedly, is about to leave, but hesitates).—Heavens!

Frony.—Poor fellow! He would like to talk with you.

Lenka.—No, no, but—

Frony.—I am sorry for him. Das war ein Blick[46] just now! He is coming! So I must leave.

Lenka.—No, for the Lord's sake! Stay with me!

Frony.—Don't be so cruel. Just say a word to him.

Lenka.—I dare not now—and—he will come.

Frony.—The doctor? On account of that old man! But just a little word; look here!

Lenka.—Go on, I will go with you—or wait, don't go; I—or—

Frony.—No, stay here; and since you refuse to have mercy on him, I will. (Darts to the front of the stage and goes out on the right.)

Lenka.—Frony dear! (Is about to follow her, when Valenta comes in.)

Scene XVI

Valenta, Lenka

Valenta.—You are running away from me!

Lenka.—I beg of you—

Valenta.—Why do you treat me so!

Lenka.—O, if you only knew! If you—I had to; I could not act otherwise.

Valenta.—Is this my reception from you!

Lenka.—You did not write—

Valenta.—I wrote—but not a single letter from you did I get; and yet I never for a moment ceased to believe in you and to love you.

Lenka (Collects herself, gloomily).—It is done now.

Valenta.—Because something else has offered itself. You will be a doctor's lady!

Lenka (Painfully wounded).—You may think that if you wish! You will not believe, you do not know all that I have suffered. But it is useless to explain. (Starts.) The doctor!

Valenta.—You want me to go; you refuse to talk with me.

Lenka.—You should understand—

Valenta.—Did you? But I will go; I will not spoil your meeting— madam, the doctor's wife! (Hurries off to the right.)

(Lenka gazes after him, trembling, then sinks on the bench.)

Scene XVII

Mrs. Rettig, Dr. Pravec, Lenka

Mrs. Rettig has entered from the left, in the foreground, during Valenta's last speech. For a moment she watches Lenka's agitation and is about to approach her, but at that moment Dr. Pravec enters on the left, in the background. Mrs. Rettig hides behind a bush.

Plavec (Hat in hand).—You have waited a long time, my dove! (Lenka rises.) But just remain seated; I will sit down too. I have been running—

Lenka.—If you don't object, doctor, I should like to go home.

Plavec (Mopping his brow).—Home? I was looking forward to sitting here with you, but as you wish, my precious! (Gets up to leave.) But now, we'll go a trifle slower; I have been hurrying a bit, and that all for you—all for you, dear Lenka!

Lenka walks on in silence, with bowed head. They go out on the left in the rear.

Mrs. Rettig (Advances and gazes after them).—O happy bride!


A room in Mrs. Rettig's home. In the background a door opening on a corridor that leads to the kitchen; to the left a door opening into the next room. In the corner, near the door, a white stove, near which is a bright green screen onwhich are pasted black and colored pictures. To the right of the main door is a chest of drawers, on which is a clock. Next to the chest of drawers is a bookcase, well filled. At the right is a window, under which is a seat. The furniture is harmonious. On the table is a white dish full of cherries.

Scene I

Mrs. Rettig, Tyny, Mařenka, Tonička, Aninka.

Mrs. Rettig is seated on the window seat, wearing a straight, loose-fitting, plaited gown, with high, broad sleeves, gathered at the wrist with three buttons, and generously plaited waist, and a white cap with a bow.

Mrs. Rettig.—And this much more, my dear girls. These wise sayings that you have just heard, a certain caliph bought for a vast amount of money from a certain sage, and had them written in golden letters. You have not received them (with a smile) from a sage, as he did, but the sayings are just the same. Those teachings need no golden letters, but should be engraved on your very hearts. The day after tomorrow we shall read something new. (Glances at the clock.) It is time to go into the kitchen. Who does the cooking today?

Aninka (Seated on a chair).—I, auntie.

Mrs. Rettig.—We must hurry.

Aninka.—Yes, this afternoon comes the picnic.

Tonička (On a chair).—O, how I look forward to it! We shall have dancing.

Tyny (On a low stool, nearest Mrs. Rettig).—And there will be Bohemian songs.

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, the students will sing.

Mařenka (At the chest of drawers).—They have been practicing faithfully every day.

Tonička.—And we are studying our parts for the play, too.

Tyny.—But the girls are making fun of us, auntie, especially Máli Roller, calling it a "Bohemian thee-ay-ter."

Mrs. Rettig.—Don't pay any attention to them; let them talk and laugh, but you just learn your parts and practice, so that the performance may pass off well. If it succeeds—and I hope that it will succeed—the girls will come to us of their own accord, you will see, even these who are now laughing most.

Mařenka (Glancing at the clock)—But Lenka hasn't come.

Aninka.—Since she is engaged!

Tyny.—And then retainer Valenta has arrived.

Mrs. Rettig (Hastily)—We mustn't forget the cooking. (To Aninka.) Today our task is a simple dinner: beef soup with vegetables, beef with onion gravy and cucumbers, roast duck, lettuce salad, a plate of hot rolls—(smiling) that's what my husband likes—and then a dish of fruit. (Merrily.) How will it go, Aninka?

Aninka.—I think that I can manage it all.

Mrs. Rettig (Points to the rest).—But the official committee will come to pass judgment on it.

Aninka.—Don't worry about it, auntie. I'm going. (Goes out by the door in the rear.)

Mrs. Rettig (To the others).—You still have plenty of time for your handwork.

Tonička.—Come on, let's have a song.

Mařenka.—No, let's talk about the play.

Tyny.—No, about the picnic. O, how I look forward to it. (They go out hastily into the next room.)

Mrs. Rettig (After them).—Be happy, be happy while you are young! I'll follow you directly. (She is about to go to the rear door, when there is a knock on it. It opens and Valenta appears on the threshold.)

Scene II

Valenta, Mrs. Rettig

Mrs. Rettig.—Ah, Mr. Retainer, or rather Mr. Forester!

Valenta (Evidently ill at ease).—Pardon me if I venture to intrude.—May I?

Mrs. Rettig.—I am very sorry, but today, when school is in session, I cannot receive any one.

Valenta.—I was here yesterday afternoon, but I was told that madam and her husband had gone to Mýto.

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, we were there.

Valenta (Exclaims, having hitherto smothered his excitement).—Madam, I must speak once more with the tax-collector's daughter.

Mrs. Rettig.—Miss Lenka is not here, and if she were—

Valenta.—I know; but, madam, if you would only listen to me and advise me; if—O, I am unhappy! And not to speak with Lenka again, madam—!

Mrs. Rettig.—It is impossible just now. (Thinks a moment, then suddenly.) Are you coming to the grove this afternoon?

Valenta.—To the picnic? What should I do there, madam? What are gaiety and music to me! I had rather creep—

Mrs. Rettig (With decision).—No, you shall come to the grove at Nedošín today.

Valenta (Surprised).—Very well, but there—

Mrs. Rettig.—You wished me to hear what you have to say. There we shall have time and leisure. And perhaps you may have a chance to talk with Miss Lenka too.

Valenta.—O, then I will come, indeed, madam; I thank you. But I beg—

Mrs. Rettig (Interrupting).—Not a word until then. (Bows.)

Valenta.—O, I thank you; I will come and wait, madam. (Hurries out, leaving the door open.)

Scene III

Mrs. Rettig, Kačenka.

Mrs. Rettig (Returns from the door and goes toward the adjoining room; suddenly she stops, thinks a moment, and goes again quickly to the rear door, opens it, and calls into the corridor).—Kačenka!

Kačenka (Runs to the door and stands there).—What is it, please?

Mrs. Rettig.—Kačenka, run down to the poorhouse, and tell them there to tell Dr. Plavec, when he comes, that I wish him to stop at my house. Be sure that they don't forget.

Kačenka.—Very well, I'll go. (She leaves. The door remains open. Mrs. Rettig goes out into the room at the left.)

Scene IV

Chadima, Rejsek.

Chadima (Wears a fringe of hair under his chin. He stands at the door and turns back towards the corridor).—Well then, come on! (Comes in, and again from the door coaxes some one outside more pressingly, but in a suppressed voice.) Come on, I tell you!

Rejsek comes in dressed as in Act I. He is not so rough-looking as Chadima. He smooths the hair on his temples and looks about.

Chadima.—You are a reader of books, and madam—

Rejsek.—So this is where she does her writing. (Observes the bookcase.) My, but there is a lot of reading matter here! (Goes towards the books.)

Chadima.—And when I tell her about that too—Rejsek, did he really say that?

Rejsek.—I'll bet my last copper, Dr. Gülich said that you were rocky.

Chadima (Shakes his fist towards the window).—I'll give it to him, I'll give it to him for calling me rocky! If he bristles up his back I'll pluck him clean. It's all because of that shop sign, I know; and you, Rejsek—

Rejsek (Who has meanwhile been looking at the backs of the books, reads their titles in a low voice).—"Dobroslav"—"The Lady of the Lake"—"The Bells of Loket"—aha, Klicpera[47]

Chadima.—You won't give in, either?

Rejsek (Pretending not to hear).—"The Magic Hat."—(Nods his head with a smile.)

Chadima.—Listen, Rejsek—

Rejsek (Not heeding him, all at once quickly draws out a book, with a reader's curiosity).—This, I think—

Chadima (Impatiently).—But that later!

Rejsek (Not even looking around).—This is by Kramerius.[48]

Chadima (Seized with curiosity, and also to interrupt Rejsek, snatches the book from his hand).—Let's see! (Reads, holding the book at a great distance.) "The Evening Meetings of the Dobrovic Community; or, Profitable Teachings, according to which—"

Rejsek (In the meantime has taken from his breast pocket a case, from which he draws a pair of rimmed spectacles and quickly puts them on).—Show it to me. (Turns the page and reads from the preface.) "If Bohemians would but remember that they proceed from the nation which once for its famous deeds—"


Rejsek (Reads).—"Was the most famous in Europe."

Chadima (Glances into the book).—That is a long preface.

Rejsek.—But most excellent reading. (Reads further.) "If they would but consider that all nations, even savage tribes, love their native language above all else—"

Chadima (Calms down, being interested in the reading).—You see?

Rejsek (Reads).—"I think that the Bohemians also would apply themselves to their mother tongue with greater zeal and would reflect—"

Chadima.—And whoever does this, is "rocky," "rocky!"

Rejsek (Reads).—"I know to be sure that among us, in comparison to the great mass of renegade Bohemians—"

Chadima.—Aha, now it's coming, now, now, now! "Renegade Bohemians!" We have them among us also, and see who they are: Dr. Gülich in the first place, the officials—

Rejsek (Has been looking silently at the book, then glances over his spectacles at Chadima).—In truth most excellent reading; I should like to borrow it. (Turns a page, then sees in the doorway of the next room Mrs. Rettig, who has been observing them both for some moments, smiling.)

Scene V

The same, Mrs. Rettig, later Lenka.

Chadima.—Ah, madam! (Bows.)

Rejsek (Gravely, not embarrassed).—Pardon us.

Mrs. Rettig (Coming in).—You are readers; I like that.

Rejsek.—I am always eager for books, madam. Reading is a part of one's life. I have read splendid things.

Mrs. Rettig.—I have heard that you own a good many books.

Rejsek.—I do: Melantrich,[49] Hájek,[50] "The Labyrinth of the World[51]," "The History of the World," and various stories, one of Mount Blanik;[52] he who wrote that, I must say, did a fine piece of work.

Chadima (Unable to restrain himself, bursts forth).—And Rejsek here, too, madam, will have a sign that is a Bohemian sign.

Mrs. Rettig—That was a dirty trick that they played on your sign.

Chadima.—And besides that they have set me down as rocky; they say that that Dr. Gülich is telling people that I am rocky, a wild shoemaker. But he is mistaken: I won't submit to him; the sign will go up again. It is already being painted, and on it will be handsomely written in Bohemian, "shoemaker."

Rejsek.—And I am going to have a Bohemian sign too, madam. It certainly made me mad when they played that dirty trick on Chadima here. I say, for instance: Is it possible that we shouldn't have the right to put up a sign in our mother tongue, on one's own house and in our own land?

Chadima.—And so Rejsek and I have come to let you know, madam. We are the first, but I think not the last. I will take care, I will take care that that Dr. Gülich finds out that there is no help for it, and that these rocky fellows are ugly customers, that he cannot make them over.

Rejsek (With a smile).—And the field people too, madam.

Mrs. Rettig.—Will this not do you injury?

Chadima.—Me? Me? Let it injure me!

Rejsek.—We fellows are of a humble sort, but we will not sell ourselves for a penny.

Mrs. Rettig (Gives him her hand).—That was worth saying, sir; that encourages one. And things won't be bad if we have many such ardent and brave men as yourself and this craftsman here. (Gives her hand to Chadima.)

Chadima.—That make me happy, madam; thank you. (He retires towards the door, bowing.) I thank you.

Rejsek.—I thank you kindly.

Lenka (Coming in).—Good morning. (Kisses Mrs. Rettig's hand.)

Mrs. Rettig—Ah, Lenka dear, I am glad to see you.

Chadima.—Well, we mustn't loiter.

Rejsek follows him, but suddenly stops at the door, as if he had recollected something.

Chadima (Guesses what it is and turns to {{sc|Mrs. Rettig).—Madam, that reading has bewitched our Rejsek.

Mrs. Rettig—Ah! (She takes the book quickly from the chest of drawers, where Rejsek had laid it down.) Here it is, here it is; only be sure to come again, at any time: I am glad to lend books. (She gives it to Rejsek.) Well, this afternoon I shall see you at the grove.

Chadima.—Today at the grove? (Recollects.) And what if that man should be there?—Well, madam—

Rejsek.—Every religion has its own holiday: Turks on Friday, Jews on Saturday, Christians on Sunday—

Chadima (Interrupting).—And we shoemakers on Monday.—That's a fact.

Mrs. Rettig.—There will be Bohemian songs.

Rejsek.—And declamations, so I hear. (To Chadima.) Then we must come.

Chadima.—Of course, by all means!—And so good day!

Rejsek.—Good day, madam. (They go out.)

Scene VI

Mrs. Rettig, Lenka.

Lenka has remained near the door, as if too bashful to come further.

Mrs. Rettig.—I am pleased with those men; they are good stuff.—But come in, dear Lenka. What makes you so late today?

Lenka.—Yes, but today—I can't stay.

Mrs. Rettig.—What's this? Has something happened? Your father isn't—?

Lenka.—No, he is well now; nothing has happened, but I—(Hesitates, then with agitation.) Why, you certainly know; surely you have heard—

Mrs, Rettig.—About you, my child? Yes, I have heard, but I did not believe it nor do I now.

Lenka (Frightened, then more calmly).—Why?

Mrs. Rettig.—I did not believe it and I said to myself: "If it were so, Lenka would have come, for she trusts me so, and I love her as a friend of younger years, as my own daughter; she would surely have come, she would have opened her heart to me and would have said with full confidence: 'Auntie, a great, great change is coming; it is a question of my whole life, of my happiness, and not only of mine—'"

Lenka.—I was bashful and it all happened so suddenly.

Mrs. Rettig.—Like a sudden storm, when love flashes forth like lightning. Even in such a case I should have expected you all the more, all the more surely; expected that you would fly to me as if on wings, full of joy, as if in delirium, and would clasp me around the neck and exclaim: "Auntie, my darling auntie, I am going to be married!" (Lenka hangs her head.) It is true then?


Mrs. Rettig (Ardently, tenderly).—And this is the way you tell me?

Lenka.—I couldn't, and even now I did not come for that purpose.

Mrs. Rettig.—And why, my child?

Lenka.—Mr. Valenta has returned.

Mrs. Rettig.—I remember; the retainer at the castle, a good, handsome young fellow.

Lenka.—If he should come here, or if, madam, you could tell him—

Mrs. Rettig.—Should you like to speak with him?

Lenka.—I have spoken with him already.

Mrs. Rettig.—Yesterday in the park; I noticed you.

Lenka.—Only a few words, and he thinks that I acted as I did because—

Mrs. Rettig (After going to the door of the adjoining room and glancing in, closes the door again).—They are at work and chatting together. (Takes Lenka's hand.) Come, Lenka, sit down here by me as you used to do, and speak, speak, my darling as if the mother whom you have lost were sitting here. (Sits down on the window seat.)

Lenka (Sits down by her and grasps her hand, which she kisses).—Ah, you are indeed a mother to me! (Lays her head on her bosom.)

Mrs. Rettig.—The retainer thinks that you—

Lenka (Raises her head suddenly).—That I have acted thus only to gain riches.

Mrs. Rettig.—Did anybody force you into it?

Lenka.—No, no one forced me; but I saw how my father and the whole family would be aided by it. And how he did sacrifice himself to us! Any one who saw what heavy cares he had, madam: the long illness of our deceased mother, and with such meager wages to support several children, how besides his office work he looked up some other means of earning more, how he used to write late into the night, how he denied himself everything, absolutely everything, and lived in poverty, only so that we might not suffer privation—and then when he fell ill, when after so long a sickness he lay weak as a fly, and when I thought of what awaited him, again the same daily grind, again the same struggle, and that he certainly would not live through it—And we love him so dearly! I could not help him. I would gladly have done everything, have gone to work—

Mrs. Rettig (Sympathetically).—My dear, you would have provided only for yourself. O, how weak woman is! No, not weak, but she cannot do more—all those considerations—And next, my child?

Lenka.—Dr. Plavec saved our father's life. He alone. He took such pains; he came to visit him even at night, and he was always so good and obliging, and always so encouraging. At home we were sometimes in despair; but things always grew brighter and more cheerful when the doctor came. He brought the medicine himself; he gave attention even to us, talked with the little ones, gave me advice, sat by father's side—saw to everything for him. It finally touched my heart. I felt so thankful when I saw that daddy was saved, I had such reverence for the doctor, was so fond of him—

Mrs. Rettig.—I believe you, my dear child.

Lenka.—When he was leaving us for the last time he praised me. "Fortunate father," he said, "but some time I shall lie helpless as a lone beggar;" he added with a laugh; but I felt so sorry for him at that moment—that he had no one to care for him—and I now knew what a long, severe illness meant. And so I told him frankly that I should take care of him. "Then you would have to be my wife," he said, and looked at me. I laughed, thinking it merely a joke, when he said gaily and bitterly: "And you wouldn't want that." (Mrs. Rettig frowns and shakes her head.) I was frightened and could not answer at once, and then he asked me straight out. Auntie, he had saved our father, he was so good and kind, we were so fond of him—

Mrs. Rettig.—You were fond of him, all of you; and you yourself, in behalf of all, out of gratitude, out of love for your father and family, and in your surprise—(Strokes her.)

Lenka (Exclaims, bitterly).—And Mr. Valenta stopped writing; for over half a year not a line—

Mrs. Rettig.—But he hasn't changed.

Lenka.—And now he thinks that only for gain—O, I beg you, madam!

Mrs. Rettig.—To tell him.

Lenka.—So that he may believe.

Mrs. Rettig.—Do you love him? (Gazes at her; Lenka looks down.) And so you will go to the altar and swear fidelity and love to Dr. Plavec; you will lie to the man to whom you wish to show the greatest gratitude.

Lenka (Alarmed).—But my duty bids me—

Mrs. Rettig.—Love from duty? Why don't you tell the doctor just how things are?

Lenka.—No, that is impossible! For all he has done, to cause him such disgrace!

Mrs. Rettig.—But to ruin yourself, your youth, and to wound yet another faithful heart!

In the adjoining room the girls sing:

In the meadow broad and free
Stands a branching apple tree:
How green the grass!
In my bodice, red and smart,
Why have I this aching heart?
Poor heart, alas!

Once I sat beneath the gloom
Of the apple's rosy bloom:
O fragrant flowers!
Let me sit again and dream
Of the gladness and the gleam:
O happy hours!

Lenka (When the song begins, she starts, listens, then says softly to Mrs. Rettig, in a voice full of emotion).—Your song! (Suddenly overcome with grief, she weeps.) Ah, how happy they are!

Mrs. Rettig.—And how happy you too used to be! (A pause.) And could you not be so again?

Lenka.—No, it is too late. (Rises.) Only I beg of you, madam—

Mrs. Rettig.—I will see to it; don't worry. Shall you come to the grove this afternoon?

Lenka (Shakes her head).—I think the doctor will not care to.

Mrs. Rettig.—But if he did?

Lenka.—I should ask him not to go today.

Mrs. Rettig.—O, beginning so soon? On the very first day would you deny his wish? But you are afraid that you may meet with the retainer.

Lenka (Looking down).—Yes.

Mrs. Rettig.—By that time he will probably be gone.

Lenka (Frightened).—Is he going away!

Mrs. Rettig.—But he is coming here first to see me once more.

Lenka (In sudden agitation).—He is coming—now—?

Mrs. Rettig.—No, now now; we are having classes—but in the afternoon. I shall be able to tell you all about it in the grove.

Lenka (After some hesitation).—I will come, madam.

Mrs. Rettig.—I will be your chaperone.

Lenka.—But the doctor—?

Mrs. Rettig—I will see to that.

Lenka.—But the other girls must not—I beg of you—

Mrs. Rettig (Soothingly).—No, not a word; don't worry! Then good-by until this afternoon.

Lenka (Softly, wistfully).—Thank you, auntie. (Kisses her hand and goes out.)

Mrs. Rettig.—Good-by, my dear. (Follows Lenka to the door, returns, stands in the middle of the room, deep in thought, takes from the chest of drawers a white apron, which she ties on, looks over the cherries on the dish, then opens the door into the other room.) Well then, roses of my garden!

Scene VII

Tyny, Mařenka, Tonička, Mrs. Rettig, later Ančka.

Tyny (Running in from the adjoining room).—Is it time to go into the kitchen?

Mařenka (Following her)—What shall we do? (Mrs. Rettig takes the dish of cherries.)

Tyny.—O, we are going to make cherry preserves.

Mrs. Rettig.—But first you must pick them over well. (Hands the dish to Tonička). Now come into the kitchen.

Ančka (Comes in, dressed as in Act I).—Good morning to you!

Mrs. Rettig.—O, it's Ančka! Come in. Have you come to help us?

Ančka.—O, today I need help myself—and advice, madam.

Mrs. Rettig.—Well, well, such an experienced cook!

Ančka.—O, it is queer grammar that comes from a confused brain.

Mrs. Rettig (To the girls).—Well, girls, here are the cherries: pick them over well as I told you, pound the sugar, prepare the jars properly. I will be with you soon.

Tyny, Tonička, and Mařenka go out by the rear door, which remains open.

Scene VIII

Mrs. Rettig, Ančka.

Mrs. Rettig—Ančka, have you come to me for advice?

Ančka.—Why shouldn't I? You are an experienced lady. And a wise or a beautiful woman is capable of everything; and when she wishes, she can reign supreme, as old Mrs. Zelenek says, who saw the Emperor Joseph. She is always telling about the time when he made a visit to this place, and how they once awaited him with ceremony in front of the posthouse, and how the emperor, when he got out of the coach and noticed the countess, immediately went straight towards her, all politeness and bows, and how he left everybody standing, the whole retinue, generals, officers, and officials, and still gave the chief honor only to the countess; and then how he offered his arm to her and led her with him to the castle and all the gentry followed them; and how Mrs. Valašek, the postmistress, stood in front of the posthouse and shouted to everybody: "You see what a woman can do, how important she is!"

Mrs. Rettig (Listens, smiling).—And what then, Ančka?

Ančka.—Well, I was thinking, since people do write books—and I have a cook book that came out pretty well—why don't they write up this too?

Mrs. Rettig.—What do you mean?

Ančka (Exclaims).—O, about how silly it is for such an old man to marry such a young girl. Lord forgive me for repeating the old saying: "A skittish horse and an old carriage, a young wife and an old man in marriage."

Mrs. Rettig (Soothingly).—But, Ančka, you needn't worry; the doctor will not discharge you from his service.

Ančka.—O, I know that. His little lady will not make him dumplings to his liking; no, not even if he married an angel. Why, he won't eat them anywhere else, not even here!

Mrs. Rettig.—Ahem.

Ančka.—Pardon my rudeness, but he said so himself. And no one will attend to his drugs so well, pound his powders, make the aconite, belladonna and pills, prepare the agua distillata. It has nothing to do with me, but with those young folks. I know how it all began, how they began to like each other and just how much they like each other now.

Mrs. Rettig.—Lenka has been here.

Ančka (Hastily).—And I beg you, what—?

Mrs. Rettig.—She says that the doctor would be put to shame, laughed at.

Ančka.—That he is already, and will be more so. Of course: she such a little rosebud, barely blossoming, grafted on an old stump, if I may say so! And what does the doctor think about it, pray?

Mrs. Rettig.—I have still to talk with him.

Ančka.—The poor retainer! If only he could have a talk with Miss Lenka!

Mrs. Rettig.—Maybe he will.

Ančka.—Ah, where?

Mrs. Rettig.—In the grove.

Ančka.—Now I always said, if you would help them, madam—

Mrs. Rettig.—Ančka dear, tell the retainer—

Scene IX

The same, Dr. Plavec.

Plavec (Still not to be seen, walking in. He speaks in a loud, good-natured, merry voice).—Where are you, madam, in the kitchen or in the parlor?

Mrs. Rettig.—In the parlor, doctor.

Ančka (Hastily).—What am I to say?

Mrs. Rettig (Hastily).—It's too late, he is here.—Couldn't you come a little later for those directions?

Ančka.—I will.

Mrs. Rettig (Going to the door).—But not a word now!

Plavec (At the open door).—Gehorsamster[53] What, Ančka! You here! Has the magistrate's wife asked you to come too?

Ančka (Frankly).—O no, I—

Mrs. Rettig (Interrupts).—It was just something about the cooking. Ančka, it will be best as I told you.

Ančka.—And if I, madam; if I—

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, just come again; I'll tell you, I'll tell you.

Ančka.—Good-by. (Goes out.)

Scene X

Dr. Plavec, Mrs. Rettig.

Plavec.—What has happened to our Ančka? She seems rather strange, mad as a hornet ever since yesterday.

Mrs. Rettig.—But she makes the dumplings well.

Plavec.—Yesterday she forgot about them entirely. So you may be sure that I told her this morning to have them on hand today.

Mrs. Rettig.—I should think so; they don't make them so well in any other place.

Plavec.—No indeed—das heisst,[54] madam, in your house—

Mrs. Rettig (Merrily).—Careful, careful; you'll get caught in the net! I know what you said to Ančka.—But I asked you to call—

Plavec (Sitting down as if weary).—Is some one ill?

Mrs. Rettig.—You yourself, doctor, your heart. But you won't admit it. They knew about it all over town before I heard.

Plavec.—Ah, so I have been summoned to come in for a lecture.

Mrs. Rettig.—I wouldn't believe it.

Plavec (Merrily).—I believe you; I could hardly do so myself. It all happened so unexpectedly, out of a clear sky; das heisst, to tell the truth, I don't know how it did happen. I used to see Miss Lenka almost every day.

Mrs. Rettig.—Ever since she was a tiny girl.

Plavec.—But I never really noticed her until her old father fell ill. Then I saw what even such a little creature could do. She is an angel, a veritable angel. If it were not for her the tax-collector would have died. Day and night she cared for him. Such painstaking care, and besides that a host of other anxieties about her younger sisters and her brother! When I saw such devotion, a light dawned on me, my heart was touched, and I murmured to myself: "If you too—" Then I saw what love of family is, and also what it means to be such an old, gray-headed bachelor as myself, madam.

Mrs. Rettig.—Yes, that is true; but because such an old bachelor failed to find himself a dear companion in due time, should such a youg girl—

Plavec (Interrupting).—But if the young girl without constraint—

Mrs. Rettig.—Must constraint be in words, threats, promises? May it not come from a sense of gratitude, when that suddenly flashes forth? When a physician saves the father of a poor family, the wage-earner; when he cares for them in illness and otherwise—

Plavec (Disturbed).—What, what, do you think that—?

Mrs. Rettig.—Friend and patriot, never in your life have you received such a fee, the blood of a young heart.

Plavec.—But she is free!

Mrs. Rettig.—She thought that she was free!

Plavec.—She said nothing of the sort to me.

Mrs. Rettig.—How could she!

Plavec.—She has been complaining to you.

Mrs. Rettig.—Not a word!

Plavec.—Madam, (with good humor.) I am not an old tom cat, stricken by love; I know that such a young girl cannot cherish the warmest of love for me. And upon my soul I really should not desire that! That is the storm, the uproar, the sweet poison of youth—but we, das heisst, I, I desire only the gentle sunbeams, desire only to be comfortably warm. And as for little Lenka, well, I think that she is considerate enough; she has already been trained by her sufferings. When she marries me she will not be badly off, nor will her family.

Mrs. Rettig.—That is, poverty will be dispelled, but at the price that I have mentioned.

Plavec.—O, madam, you take it too seriously, philosophically.

Mrs. Rettig.—Remember, doctor, what Lenka embroidered for your saint's day: "Sail on, avoid every depth and rock."

Plavec.—And that is exactly what I am doing, madam. I am avoiding the depths: why explore them? A man is happy when the boat simply sails. Even without such searching, the voyage of life is often troublesome enough: why should man, like a gnat, continually flit hither and thither? But if in such parched lands I come upon such a rosebud—

Mrs. Rettig.—Take care! It is one of those from my garden! And remember that there are limits and bounds of life; and that whoever wishes to overstep them, even for rosebuds, will wound himself or incur laughter from others.

Plavec.—Oh, oh, don't be so severe, madam. Life will equalize everything.

Mrs. Rettig.—Sometimes only death can do so. And doctor, suppose that Lenka should have some one dear to her heart—

Plavec.—O, some student's love affair! All that is merely day dreams. My friend the magistrate, if you will pardon my saying so, is surely not your first love and you may not be his. When I was a student I thought several times of getting married. O, dreams, rosy dreams! We got over them, and so will Miss Lenka.

Mrs. Rettig.—But if she does not get over them, if her affection is truly deep, if she continues to suffer in secret—

Plavec.—Madam, that is mere idle poetry, poetry.

Mrs. Rettig.—Do you hold to your purpose?

Plavec.—Can I do otherwise? Can I break my word and make Lenka the laughing-stock of all the town gossips? Or perhaps Lenka of her own accord—

Mrs. Rettig.—No, she will not do that.

Plavec.—Have you talked with her?

Mrs. Rettig.—She has been here; she would like to go to Nedošín this afternoon.

Plavec.—To the picnic! Just yesterday she told me that she did not care to go; and, to confess the truth, I was very glad of it.

Mrs. Rettig.—Yesterday she was shy about it because she saw that you would prefer to stay at home, you happy, comfortable, fortunate lover!

Plavec.—But in such hot weather—!

Mrs. Rettig.—Ah! And you would have to dance. Lenka enjoys dancing.

Plavec.—She must give up something.

Mrs. Rettig (Gravely).—Do you, a physician, say that? You have already enjoyed the world and life in it, but what about that young heart? For Lenka the world is just beginning to unfold itself. You wish merely to warm yourself, but she will desire the fire itself.

Plavec (Forcing himself to assume a gay tone once more).—Ah, honored friend, such seriousness, when after all it is a question only of a picnic!

Mrs. Rettig.—But it bears on more important things. You try to avoid it, but what will you do later when other pastimes come up and her young blood—? (Suddenly.) Shall you not be jealous?

Plavec.—Jealous? Of whom?

Mrs. Rettig.—Perhaps even today. They say that retainer Valenta is in love with Lenka. And he has just been made a huntsman—

Plavec.—You merely raise specters, madam, just as if I were already with Miss Lenka at Nedošín.

Mrs. Rettig.—Then it is understood that you will come. What would they say of you if you didn't? I will take her under my protection. Trust her to me; I am her "auntie;" I still am.

Plavec.—And you will give her away at the wedding.

Mrs. Rettig.—Thank you for the invitation, but—I should prefer to be godmother.

Plavec (Alarmed, starts back).—O, O—to think of my rocking and soothing crying babies!

Mrs. Rettig (Gravely).—That thought alone might preserve you. Just imagine a young wife, without children, in the bloom of her youth, with the warmest heart, more and more desiring children, but in vain; and beside her—pardon me—an aged husband, growing cold and feeble—pray finish the picture for yourself.

Plavec (Touched by this).—You are my enemy!

Mrs. Rettig.—You are your own enemy!

Plavec.—No, no, madam, it is impossible.

Mrs. Rettig.—You have set your mind upon it; that is all there is to say. (After a moment's silence she continues with a smile.) But you will come to the picnic to please Miss Lenka?

Plavec.—I shall have to do that—and on your account too. But you must not frighten me there any more.

Mrs. Rettig.—No, there we shall make merry. There will be Bohemian songs and declamations.—And then we shall dance the galop.

Plavec (Jestingly).—You and I together?

Mrs. Rettig.—No, you and your bride to be.

Plavec (Pretending to be about to run away).—O, good-by!

Scene XI

The same, Ančka.

Plavec.—What is it? Has some one sent for me?

Ančka.—No, sir, but I forgot to tell madam something. And since you are here—well, I was going to tell you this afternoon. (A pause.) If you please, I am going to get married.

Mrs. Rettig is at first surprised, but then smiles, expectantly.

Plavec.—You, you, Ančka? Have you gone cra—? (Recollecting himself.) And who, may I ask?

Ančka.—Bouček's journeyman.

Plavec (Beginning to laugh).—That little boy! (Stops suddenly.) Ančka!

Ančka.—Why should you laugh, sir? In comparison to me he is a little boy, to be sure; but he is older than Miss Lenka, and I, if you will pardon me for saying so, at any rate am younger than you.

Plavec (Testily).—And what—what is this to me?

Ančka.—And he wants to marry me himself, and he won't be grieving any one else on my account.

Plavec.—What have I to do with that? And you must have done this on purpose—Except for this news and except for you, madam—You had better go and attend to the cooking.—Good-by, madam. (Hurries away.)

Mrs. Rettig (After him, with feigned merriment).—I'll see you this afternoon at the grove, doctor.

Scene XII

Mrs. Rettig, Ančka.

Mrs. Rettig (Severely).—I beg of you, Ančka, what is this that has struck you! Did you hurry over here just for that?

Ančka.—Do forgive me. I have come for those directions as you told me to, and also—When this idea struck me on the way over here I had to try it out right off. So you see.

Mrs. Rettig.—And that journeyman?

Ančka.—O, I turned him away long ago. But, madam, when you were talking with the doctor, how did he—?

Mrs. Rettig.—It's of no use; he defends himself, will not yield. If those young people don't help me out, or rather help themselves—And now, Ančka, here is what I wanted to tell you before. You must impress on the retainer that at the picnic in the grove he should not show himself at the dancing, that he should keep rather out of the way, in some hiding place, or perhaps that he should wait in that out-of-the-way nook, the Temple of Silence, you know. He knows—or, wait, still better, if he would stop here at my house after dinner, but right after dinner, for me to give him instructions—

Ančka.—He will be here posthaste.

Mrs. Rettig.—And now finish getting dinner, Ančka dear.

Ančka.—O, today everything will be a trifle scorched. But never mind, if only—my only hope is in you, madam. A wise or a beautiful woman is capable of everything, as old Mrs. Zelenek says.—

Mrs. Rettig.—Ančka, that dinner!

Ančka.—I am hurrying off. A good appetite to you! (Goes out.)

Scene XIII

Mrs. Rettig, Tyny.

Mrs. Rettig goes to the chest of drawers, looks at the clock and is about to go out, when Tyny runs in.

Tyny.—O, auntie!

Mrs. Rettig.—Has something happened?

Tyny.—The duck—the duck is burned!

Mrs. Rettig.—What have you been up to?

Tyny.—Forgive us, we got to talking a bit about the picnic.

Mrs. Rettig.—And my good husband will have to pay the penalty; he too will have his duck "a trifle scorched." But it is my fault, mostly my fault, because I have been neglecting you so. But that is what happens when the cook blows on other people's mush, so that other people may not burn their mouths. Come, Tyny dear! (She goes out quickly through the door at the rear, Tyny follows her.)


A section of the grove at Nedošín. In the right foreground under an oak is a small pavilion in the form of an antique temple. Over the entrance is an inscription in gold letters, now somewhat faded, "Silentium." A number of steps lead to the door. At some distance in front of the temple, but not quite in line with it, somewhat more in the foreground, is an old, spreading oak, under which is a birch bench.

In the background a number of picnickers pass by, grouped in couples, the men with coats off and hats in hand; girls hasten by; a pretzel man with pretzels on a rod is among the crowd: all are going towards the left, whence is heard the sound of a solo on a hunter's horn. A student, bending in conversation with a town girl, comes from the left to the right and disappears with her in the rear among the trees.

Scene I

Valenta, Chadima, Rejsek.

Valenta comes in from the right and cautiously looks around, even glancing into the temple, of which the doors are open, then seats himself on the bench, which cannot be seen from the rear owing to the huge trunk of the oak.

Rejsek (Comes in from the rear on the right).—I think that the music is about over; now the declamations will begin: I suppose that they will give "The Miller’s Monkey,"[55] as they said they should.

Chadima.—I had rather hear "The Medley," by Patrčka;[56] you know that I could almost recite it for them myself.

Rejsek (With a smile)—For Gülich.

Chadima.—That would be a shock for him.

Rejsek.—He seems to be steering clear of us.

Chadima.—Aha, aha; you see he is afraid. But I shall not let up on him; he will not escape me. (They go out on the left in the rear.)

Valenta rises, goes cautiously a few steps to the left, quickly returns to the oak, from behind which he looks about; then goes quickly behind the temple among the trees.

Scene II

Gulich, Roubal.

Roubal (Comes in from the left in the foreground).—Why don't you wait until the music is over?

Gülich.—After this solo will be the Bohemian declamation. Whoever could listen to it and look on at their idiotic joy!

Roubal.—And not understand a thing.

Gülich (Rising).—And that teacher's assistant is trumpeting. (Listens.)

Roubal.Verflucht schön[57], like a military trumpeter. And then he is going to render the "echoes." At sunset.

Gülich—Echoes? Ah, the councillor likes that, just like a little girl. Ist so sentimental.[58]

Roubal.—He is; he has a mouth like a water-mill.

The hunter's horn ceases, applause is heard to the left, behind the scenes.

Gülich.Und nun kommt die böhmische Muse.[59]

Roubal.—Who, which?

Gülich (With a laugh).—Have you talked yet with the magistrate's wife?

Roubal.—With Mrs. Rettig? What do you take me for? I avoid her whenever I can. (With a spiteful sneer.) I should never be equal to it. A man doesn't know what to say to such an exalted woman.

Scene III

The same, Mrs. Roller, Mrs. Roubínek.

Mrs. Roller comes in from the rear at the left; on her left arm she carries a bag for a ball of yarn, knitting needles, and a stocking. Mrs. Roubínek carries a ball of yarn.

Gülich.Ach, geehrte Damen,[60] you too are off for a protected nook? Perhaps in den Tempel der Verschwiegenheit?[61]

Mrs. Roller.—O no, it is cold there. But we are running away. I really don't care to listen and stand there among such a conglomeration of all sorts of people.

Gülich.—And of queer shoemakers. Well, the magistrate's wife invited all that crowd.

Roubal.—Well, let's be going.

Mrs. Roubínek.—And why those declamations? The girls are the losers by them; they come here to dance.

Mrs. Roller.—Our Máli was complaining too.

Mrs. Roubínek.—And such a good dancer. Ein schwebender Engel.[62]

Roubal (To Gulich in a low voice)—Properly called an elephant.

Mrs. Roubínek.—But what is queerest of all, Lenka, the tax-collector's daughter, is constantly in the circle of dancers! She doesn't leave it for a moment, she passes from partner to partner: the students will not let her go.

Mrs. Roller (Peevishly).—How else could it be? Those are the fellows who go to Mrs. Rettig's, you know, for books, but really— (pointedly) well, you know why.

Gülich—And what about the happy lover, Dr. Plavec?

Mrs. Roubínek.—He is pacing about like a hen at a pond with a duckling in the water.

Roubal—He could dance with the Rettig woman.

Mrs. Roller (To Gulich).—And you see, you remember what she said to us yesterday in the park, how she preached about the coming marriage of Dr. Plavec.

Mrs. Roubínek.—And that she would break it off, that she must break it off. And instead she brings the doctor his sweet-heart, plays the chaperone for her.

Gülich.—If Dr. Plavec only knew it!

Mrs. Roubínek.—Do you think so? (Glances at Mrs. Roller.) That's true!

Mrs. Roller (Looks straight into her eyes, grasping her thought).—That's true, he ought to know about it!

Behind the scenes at the left is heard clapping, louder than before, and shouts of "bravo!"

Gülich (Sneeringly).—They must like it!

Roubal.—That's the end; now a man may go and get a drink. (Walks towards the left.)

Scene IV

The same, Mrs. Rettig.

Mrs. Rettig comes in hurriedly from the left in the foreground, glancing towards the right. Roubal in his haste without knowing it steps directly in her way, and stops in consternation.

Mrs. Rettig.—Ah, Mr. Steward! (Roubal tips his hat slightly and starts to go on.) How do you like it, Mr. Steward?

Roubal.—O, finely, ex-qui-site-ly.

Mrs. Rettig.—That student declaimed very well.

Roubal (Morosely).—Well, if—I eigentlich[63]—am thirsty. Gehorsamster.[64] (Makes off and goes out hastily to the left in the foreground.)

Scene V

Mrs. Retrig, Gulich, Mrs. Roubínek, Mrs. Roller.

Mrs. Rettig (Approaching Mrs. Roubínek).—Ah, Mrs. Roubínek! I just now met your beloved husband; he asked me whether I had not seen you; he is looking for you. (To them all.) You have missed a fine declamation.

Mrs. Roller.—You see we shouldn't have understood it, anyway.

Mrs. Rettig.—O, indeed you would! Everybody understood it; old and young, artisans and people of the neighborhood, all applauded, well pleased.

Gülich.—But there was one who surely didn’t hear it and didn't understand it—the coming bridegroom, Dr. Plavec. (Mrs. Roller laughs.)

Mrs. Roubínek.—You are serving as chaperone for his sweet-heart.

Mrs. Roller.—And yesterday what an opinion you had of this marriage.

Mrs. Rettig.—I am now more confirmed in it than ever.

Gülich.—And the doctor?

Mrs. Rettig.—He unfortunately sticks to his purpose.

Mrs. Roller (Aside to Mrs. Roubínek).—She hasn't said a word to him.

Mrs. Roubínek (Aside).—Not a word. (They glance at each other meaningly.)

Scene VI

The same; Vacek, Tyny.

Vacek and Tyny come in at the rear.

Mrs. Rettig.—Ah, here is the student who spoke the piece!

Vacek (Elated by his success).—Were you satisfied, madam?

Mrs. Rettig.—I applauded heartily, like all the rest.

Gülich (To Vacek).—Today it was für das Volk, mein junger Herr.[65] When you make your speech before the academy during Lent, we shall do the applauding then.

Vacek.—Pardon me, doctor. There is to be a change at the academic festival. Mrs. Rettig has suggested—

Mrs. Rettig.—That the students alternate the German speeches with others in Bohemian.

Vacek.—And the suggestion has been accepted and we shall surely have larger audiences. (Mrs.Roller and Mrs. Roubínek are astounded.)

Gülich.—But of what sort! It will again be sehr gemischt[66] as it was today, and I don't know ob die Intelligenz[67]

Mrs. Roller.—And how will it be with the ball of the nobility? I don't know, gentleman, I don't know: the students had better think the matter over.

Vacek.—Lest perchance we shouldn't be invited? O, then, you see, madam, there would be a scarcity of partners, and your beloved daughters couldn't dance much.

Mrs. Roller (As if hurt).—And what if there were not enough young lady patriots there?

Vacek.—Then we will arrange our own Bohemian Ball.

Mrs. Roller.Das ist nicht möglich!

Gülich.—You would have to obtain permission first.

Vacek.—We will attend to that.

Dance music from the left.

Mrs. Roller (To Mrs. Roubínek).—Do you hear? We must not neglect our daughters.

Mrs. Roubínek.—Nor I my precious husband. (They go out to the left.)

Gülich.—Nor I the steward. But, madam, (forcing himself to assume a humorous tone) all this is a revolution.

Mrs. Rettig.—But an innocent one, and I trust that it will end happily.

Gülich (With a veiled threat)—But for whom! (Goes out on the left.)

Scene VII

Mrs. Rettig, Vacek, Tyny.

Mrs. Rettig (With a smile).—It makes him mad. (To Vacek and Tyny.) But here I have delayed you. (To Vacek.) Thank you for reminding your comrades not to neglect Miss Lenka in the dances.

Tyny.—She will have her fill! She is constantly in the circle.

Mrs. Rettig.—I am glad for the doctor's sake; he himself does not dance and he likes to see Lenka have a good time.

Tyny (Naively).—But, auntie, it seemed to me that he looked cross; that he was out of sorts when he was walking about the dancers.

Mrs. Rettig (Merrily).—It only seemed so to you, dear Tyny. But now let's be going, that you may not be altogether too late. And once more, thank you, Mr. Vacek, for the declamation. That was really a joy, it seemed to impress people deeply: I could see that in many cases, especially when you concluded: "Blessed are we, yes, thrice blessed;" and then too the passage, "Our mother tongue is spreading—"

Tyny.—And then this too: "We have cleared the path—"

Mrs. Rettig (Finishes after the interruption).—"Young men; keep on!" Yes, yes, (pressing the hands of both of them) the young will keep on; you will keep on! I am happy, happy! But now go to join the dancers! (Vacek and Tyny go out hastily on the left.)

Scene VIII

Mrs. Rettig, later Valenta.

Mrs. Rettig looks around, goes forward on the right and glances into the temple. When she comes down the steps, Valenta emerges on the right among the trees.

Valenta (In a low voice).—Madam!

Mrs. Rettig.—O, it is you; good, I have been looking for you!

Valenta (Coming quickly forward).—I have been waiting as you told me to do; I have been hiding myself like a poacher, twisting and dodging. I don't dare even to glance at Miss Lenka.

Mrs. Rettig.—But you will soon speak with her.

Valenta.—What, madam! Where!

Mrs. Rettig.—Here. I came to tell you to hold out and not give up in despair; not to go away in that direction—(pointing to the left.) Then Miss Lenka would be unable to see you.

Valenta.—And will she come, will she really come? And does she know?

Mrs. Rettig.—Lenka knows nothing, but you shall talk with her. I have done all that I can; the rest is your task, when you meet her. I trust that your heart will tell you what to say!

Valenta.—And the doctor?

Mrs. Rettig.—I am healing him as well as I can, only—

Valenta (Glances towards the left and starts).—He is coming this way.

Mrs. Rettig (Quickly).—Go, go, perhaps in there! (Pointing to the temple.)

Valenta.—It is too late. (Jumps behind a tree and disappears to the right.)

Scene IX

Dr. Pravec, Mrs. Rettig.

Dr. Pravec comes in from the left at the rear, hat in hand, fanning himself.

Mrs. Rettig (Approaching him).—Doctor, fellow patriot!

Plavec.—Ah, madam! (Walks as if fatigued, wiping the perspiration from his brow. He is vexed, but tries to be good-natured.) What fine diversion! It is hot here!

Mrs. Rettig.—And at home it is so cool!

Plavec.—A couch!

Mrs. Rettig.—And a quiet nap after a tasty dinner.

Plavec (Blurts out).—And today there was no nap at all and the dinner didn't amount to anything.

Mrs. Rettig.—Everything "a trifle scorched."

Plavec.—Scorched finely! Nicely burned! Ančka was simply out of her head; (angrily) all on account of these marriages. And then she wanted to come to the picnic here!

Mrs. Rettig.—Why are you surprised? She has a suitor.

Plavec.—But she ought to have made the powders.

Mrs. Rettig.—You will miss her.

Plavec (Testily).—Yes, I shall, but now that she's still here— (stops short) and—and—she didn't even make the dumplings and everything else—

Mrs. Rettig.—She burned and oversalted. That's the way a cook does when she's in love. And a doctor in love fumes and frets. O happy lover!

Plavec.—O happy lover! (Seats himself on the bench.) O me O my!—An accepted lover, and I hardly get a glimpse of my lady except to see her dancing with other men. (Angrily.) The students chase after her as if they had formed a conspiracy.

Mrs. Rettig.—And how will it be when the balls begin! You surely will not keep your young wife at home.

Plavec.—No, to be sure, of course not.

Mrs. Rettig.—She will be dancing; and you will sit up for her, till midnight, past midnight, till dawn.

Plavec.—And I go to bed before ten!

Mrs. Rettig.—You will be slumbering there and the young gentlemen will dance attendance on your young wife.

Plavec.—Well, das heisst[68]—(stops himself.) Madam—(Hesitates.) Never mind about the students—but—Ančka this noon was mumbling something to me about the count's huntsman. You too mentioned him.

Mrs. Rettig.—That splendid, handsome young man.

Plavec.—They say that really they used to love each other, and even now—

Mrs. Rettig.—An evil weed sends forth roots. The first dose of jealousy.

Plavec.—Well, das heisst, I merely—

Mrs. Rettig.—But it is true: they were fond of each other, very much so, and still are. But those are dreams, rosy dreams. Yesterday the retainer arrived with the count from their trip around the world, and I hear that the count rewarded him finely for his faithful service. He has given him a huntsman's lodge. Mr. Valenta can now cut slices from his own loaf, and he might now lead a little wife into his home and be happy.

Plavec (Interrupting, disturbed)—Maybe he is here? I haven't seen him.

Mrs. Rettig.—He is here, as I have heard.

Plavec (Rising quickly).—Here we are talking, madam, and Miss Lenka—

Mrs. Rettig.—Pray just stay here. It is cool and quiet here.

Plavec.—But Lenka—

Mrs. Rettig.—Well, then I will go and get her; she ought to be taking a rest by this time.

Plavec.—Yes, yes, too much of anything is harmful. (Seats himself.)


Mrs. Rettig.—They are beginning again. They'd be after her again and wouldn't leave her alone for a minute. I'll bring her back with me, doctor. (Goes out on the left.)

Plavec.—Thank you, madam, thank you.

Scene X

Dr. Pravec, Mrs. Roller.

Dr. Pravec wipes his brow and leans against the tree trunk. The notes of a slow waltz can be dimly heard. Dr. Plavec yawns, drowsiness begins to overcome him. Mrs. Roller, who has appeared in the background at the end of the preceding scene and waited for Mrs. Rettig to leave, now walks cautiously forward under the oak, knitting a stocking. She watches the doctor and then goes up to him.

Plavec (Starting).—Lenka dear—O, pardon me!

Mrs. Roller.—I beg your pardon for having disturbed you.

Plavec.—I have been waiting here in this heat, this music, and this afternoon I did not even have my nap.

Mrs. Roller.—I can believe it—for very longing and anticipation. And here is a Stelldichein.[69]—I'll be going directly, doctor, right off. This is a lovely place to wait, if only the students will let the tax-collector's daughter leave off dancing. She seems to be extremely attractive.

Plavec.—She is coming here with Mrs. Rettig.

Mrs. Roller.—With the magistrate's wife? I am surprised.

Plavec.—And why?

Mrs. Roller.—The magistrate's wife does not approve of your marriage.

Plavec.—Well, nevertheless, das heisst[70]

Mrs. Roller.—She would like to break it off.

Plavec.—Surely that can't be so!

Mrs. Roller.—If you had only heard what she said yesterday in the park at the Morgenpromenade[71]. She told us so herself, to our faces; Dr. Gülich was with us at the time.

Plavec.—That she would like—?

Mrs. Roller.—Yes, to break off your marriage. So you may imagine how surprised we were. Especially since you are such a friend of magistrate Rettig. We could not explain it otherwise than that Mrs. Rettig felt sorry for Lenka.


Mrs. Roller.Nichts für Ungut,[72] doctor. Sorry not from any concern for you, and of course the match is all right; but then you know, the magistrate's wife is a trifle überspannt, so romantisch[73]; she writes those little verliebt[74] stories, and so she thinks to herself: "Unhappy love, ein gebrochenes Herz—Herr Adjunkt[75]—"

Plavec.—Again that retainer!

Mrs. Roller.—The magistrate's wife favors him. But why am I saying this?—I thought that you knew about it, doctor.

Scene XI

The same, Mrs. Roubínek.

Mrs. Roubínek (Comes in from the right).—Ach, Frau von Roller and the doctor! (To him.) I have just been thnking ofi you.

Plavec (Disturbed).—Of me? Why so, pray?

Mrs. Roubínek.—It was this way.—I was looking for Roubínek—he couldn't wait to see me, he can't stay without me for even a moment—and so we were looking for each other through the grove. And the moment I got here, (pointing to the right behind the temple) behind a tree I caught sight of—


Mrs. Roubínek.—Retainer Valenta from the castle, or rather the young forester, owner of the lodge at Luben. I thought that he was just strolling around, or else waiting for some one. I recognized him perfectly.

Mrs. Roller.—Very likely he has come to say good-by, poor fellow.

Plavec (Who has been listening with evident uneasiness).—"Poor fellow"—why "poor fellow?"—And "to say good-by"—what?—And—the music is coming to a close. Pardon me—I must see for myself. (He bows and with hat in hand goes out quickly by the left in the foreground.)

The sun sets.

Scene XII

Mrs. Roller, Mrs. Roubínek.

Mrs. Roller.—You have smoked him out. (Stifles a laugh.)

Mrs. Roubínek.—He is running off to watch them. (Stifles a laugh.)

Mrs. Roller.—But, Frau von Roubínek, this retainer, as you were saying—

Mrs. Roubínek.—He is here, and I watched him for a while. He is strolling about.

Mrs. Roller.—Did he see you?

Mrs. Roubínek.—No, I was so cautious.

Mrs. Roller (Positively).—He is waiting for somebody.

Mrs. Roubínek.—This is a fine place for a rendezvous.

Mrs. Roller.—But with whom!

Mrs. Roubínek (Laughing).—With whom!

Mrs. Roller.—Mrs. Rettig knows still better about that.

Mrs. Roubínek.—And maybe we could convince ourselves of it, in just a moment.

Mrs. Roller.—Do you think so? Well, let's wait a bit.

Mrs. Roubínek (With a glance at the temple).—And there is a convenient spot.

Mrs. Roller (Goes quickly to the side scenes and returns in a moment).—He is not there and nobody else either.

Mrs. Roubínek (Who in the mean time has mounted the steps of the temple).—Let’s wait a moment.

Mrs. Roller (Following her).—So still[76]

Mrs. Roubínek (At the door).—You first!

Mrs. Roller.—O, thank you. (Goes into the temple; Mrs. Roubínek follows her.)

Scene XIII

Roubal, a Teacher's Assistant, Všetečka.

The characters enter from the rear.

Roubal (In advance of the others).—Here we have it on our way. Now don't you (to the Teacher's Assistant) forget this: here too (pointing to the temple) is an echo, but we will wait until you return from the pond.

Assistant (With a hunter's horn under his arm).—Pardon me, the director said—

Roubal (Peevishly).—I know, he told me too; but I say that you ought not to mix things up. I wonder if those others—

Assistant.—Mimra and Voplestil, if you please, have gone already; they are waiting on the other side.

Roubal.—So I told him to play his solo on the horn as before, to be careful about it, to see that the directress is satisfied, to make it sentimental: otherwise the director will have him transferred to the regiment as a mounted trumpeter. And how about you, Všetečka?

Vsetečka (With a hunter's horn under his arm).—I, with your Honor's kind permission; I play the second part.

Roubal.—Well, then play some sort of a flourish for the directress.

Assistant.—That, if you please, will not raise an echo. The director likes fanfares.

Roubal.—Well, then give him fanfares, for all I care; but attend to the matter. (The Teacher's Assistant and Všetečka go out to the right at the rear.)

Scene XIV

Gulich, Roubal.

Gülich (Coming in from the left, whence is dimly heard dance music).—Where are you going now, Mr. Steward?

Roubal (Walking off).—To have a little drink. A man barely sits down, has a sip, and it's time for him to get up again. And where are you—?

Gülich (With forced humor).—I'll be running away soon. If that Chadima—


Gülich—He is forever strolling about. I can see by the way he acts that he is up to something. And if he has a notion in his head, er könnte was provocieren.[77]

Roubal (Chuckling).—So I think—a rocky fellow! And if he is drunk! Just consider, since even the tame one bristles up his back—!

Gülich—You haven't seen the registrar's wife? The registrar is looking for her.

Roubal.—No, probably she too is raising the echoes with Mrs. Roller. They know how. Gehorsamster.[78] (Goes out on the left in the foreground.

Scene XV

Gulich, Mrs. Roller, Mrs. Roubínek.

Gulich advances to the foreground and sits down under the oak.

Mrs. Roller (Glancing out of the temple door: sweetly).—Herr Doctor!

Gülich (Surprised).—Madam, you—im Tempel der Verschwiegenheit![79]

Mrs. Roller.—O, it is beautiful here; so still, so—![80] Would you not like to come in?

Gülich (In comic despair).—I am afraid of silence, madam.

Mrs. Roubínek (Glancing out suddenly).—O, we aren't silent. (Mrs. Roller withdraws.)

Gülich.—Ah! I believe that.

Mrs. Roubínek.—We know something about Mrs. Rettig.

Gülich (Advancing to the foot of the steps).—What?

Mrs. Roubínek.—Then you must come in.

Gülich.—It is more comfortable down here.

Mrs. Roubínek.—No, no, just come in here, quick. (Withdraws.) Gulich goes into the temple.)

Scene XVI

Chadima, Rejsek.

The two shoemakers have come in at the rear during the conversation between Dr. Gulich and Mrs. Roubínek, and have been waiting, watching them.

Chadima (Excited, but not drunk).—It was he, Gülich, Dr. Gülich!

Rejsek.—It was, it was; I didn't say it wasn't.

Chadima (More testily).—It was he!

Rejsek (Soothingly).—Of course it was, it was.

Chadima.—And it was she, Mrs. Roubínek, the registrar's wife.

Rejsek.—Y es, it was the registrar's wife, František; it was.

Chadima.—So you see, so you see; now he has his sign daubed.

Rejsek.—But who knows—?

Chadima.—Be still, just be still! Now I have him in my clutch; I will declaim to him from Patrčka's "Medley:" you know

Rejsek.—I know, Franc, I know.

Chadima.—And right here by the steps. (He takes his post and declaims.)

He who is black cannot be white;
The rooster loves the hen.—

Rejsek.—But not that, Franc; you would scare them away. I tell you what: we'll send the registrar after them.

Chadima (Starts)—Upon my word! You see! Come, come! (Tugging at him.) He will open his eyes! And the little lady! And the doctor! Won't his bristles stand up; won't he be rocky! (They go out on the left, in the rear.)

Scene XVII

Mrs. Rettig and Lenka; Mrs. Roller, Dr. Gulich, Mrs. Roubínek.

Gülich (Opening the door).—Aber meine Damen,[81] we are waiting in vain.

Mrs. Roubínek (Behind him, on the right)—Just a moment longer.

Mrs..Roller (Looks out from behind him on the left: suddenly).—The Rettig woman! Zurück![82] (Disappears.)

Mrs. Roubínek.—Is she coming this way? (Disappears; Gulich also disappears.)

Mrs. Rettig comes in at the rear on the left and advances slowly to the foreground; with her is Lenka, flushed, and fanning herself with a handkerchief.

Mrs. Rettig.—You can rest here; no one will come here. You have danced a great deal.

Lenka.—I never danced so much before, and still it does not make me happy.

Mrs. Rettig.—I believe you; but it is for the last time in your life of freedom. Come, the doctor is waiting for you. He was complaining that he had had hardly a word with you.

Lenka (Suddenly).—You will remain here, madam?

Mrs, Rettig.—My child! If I remain now, I shall not remain a second time. (Seriously.) You are avoiding him now, and will have to be with him all your life—alone.

Lenka looks down and sighs.

Mrs. Rettig (In surprise, when they come under the oak and see the empty bench).—Ah, he has gone! He could not wait, but went to look for you. (With a smile.) Shall we go back?

Lenka.—No, I beg of you; I should prefer to stay here. It is so quiet here. (Seats herself on the bench under the oak.)

Mrs. Rettig.—And boisterous merriment wearies you. Stay here, be seated; it is lovely here, so peaceful. That Temple of Silence stands in a fitting spot. There is silence here even when the whole grove is echoing with mirth and music. And that sunset! The heart drinks in this loveliness and beauty, and it would not be surprising if a tear of gentle emotion bedewed one's face.

Lenka gazes before her with bowed head, in meditation.

Mrs. Rettig.—Lenka dear, you are not listening.

Lenka (Looks up quickly, is silent for a moment; then, hesitatingly).—Madam, did he really believe you?

Mrs. Rettig.—The retainer? Just as I told you: he came to me before the picnic, and I explained to him—

Lenka.—He isn't here in the grove.

Mrs. Rettig (Smiling).—I have been looking around. (Sympathetically.) After all, you expected him.

Lenka (Frightened).—Perhaps he has already gone.—

Mrs. Rettig.—No, he has not gone; and I am going to have another talk with him today. (Goes to the right among the trees and looks out.)

Lenka (Alarmed).—The doctor already—

Mrs. Rettig.—No, it was not he. (Comes back under the oak.) But I must go look for him, that he may not search for us long and vainly. You wait here, Lenka dear.

A hunter's horn is heard at the rear, in the distance. Ah, do you hear? (Listens.) How beautiful! (At the right is heard a fanfare, but more dimly, like an echo.) How beautiful!

Lenka.—But how sad!

Mrs. Rettig (Strokes her softly).—You are remembering, my darling. And you will not cease to do so. Many times will you remember the past, and may it be without regret! You will remember, and—I should be glad to be a false prophet—you will be still more sad, your heart will be even heavier, without comfort and without—hope! And not yourself only, not your heart alone, but another's too, which you have so grievously wounded. Ah, Lenka dear, you did not stop to consider; you are stifling the voice of your heart. Hearken to it, hearken to it, that you may not be unhappy for all your life, not only you and the retainer, but also—the doctor—! (She walks off towards the left. She stands and waits a moment, but when Lenka fails to speak, she goes out on the left in the foreground. Lenka has been listening with bowed head. She glances after Mrs. Rettig as she goes off, and suddenly buries her face in her hands.)


Lenka, Valenta, Dr. Gulich, Mrs. Roubínek, Mrs. Roller.

Mrs. Roubínek and Mrs. Roller put out their heads, but immediately disappear when they spy Valenta. Valenta comes in cautiously from the right, but when he sees Lenka he cannot restrain himself and goes hastily towards her. He stops directly in front of her. Lenka gives a stifled scream, surprised for the moment. Then she seems about to depart. Valenta seizes her by the hand.

Valenta.—Again! You are driving me away again!

Lenka (In anguish).—And will you reproach me again that it is only for profit, for a name, that I may become—?

Valenta (Interrupting).—What else could I think; how else could I explain it? But now I know how you wish to sacrifice yourself; Mrs. Rettig has told me. Lenka dear, am I to speak here with you for the last time; am I to part with you forever? I would give up my place for you, everything, and you could—! And this has happened—it had to happen just at the time when I can move into my own hunter's lodge? You do not know how happy I was yesterday when the count told me of the good news. My first thought was of you, of you! O, how I pictured it to myself, that I should carry you away—
(Hunter's horns are heard on the right, indistinctly, with an echo, still less distinct, in the rear.)
how we should arrange everything in the lodge, the home and the care of it; how you would be waiting for me on my return from the forest; how on Sundays we should ride here to town in our own carriage, and in winter by sleigh to attend the balls; how I should carry you back to our lodge among the snowdrifts as to a nest; O—I thought too that we would take in with us your youngest sister, and of what would become of František, and that your daddy would live with us—

Lenka.—O heavens!

Valenta (Sitting down beside her).—Lenka, my precious Lenka!

Mrs. Roller and Mrs. Roubinek peer out.

Scene XIX

The same; Dr. Plavec, Mrs. Rettig.

Mrs. Rettig, who towards the end of Valenta's speech has come in with Dr. Plavec at the rear on the left, passes unseen along the rear of the stage behind the temple on the right. When Valenta sits down by Lenka, she comes forward from the right, cautiously looking about. Dr. Plavec follows her, noticeably irritated and ill at ease. Mrs. Roller and Mrs. Roubínek, noticing them, disappear.

Lenka (Taken aback because Valenta has seated himself beside her).—I beg of you—what if—just consider—

Valenta.—Just consider yourself what you have done; that you have ruined my happiness. Whom shall you benefit by this? Shall you be happy? (Mrs. Rettig restrains Dr. Plavec, forcing him to wait and listen to the close.)

Lenka.—Why do you ask! How could I be happy! I was happy, you yourself know that; but now—O heavens!

Valenta.—And you will not be happy—not even if you should never recall how we once loved each other. And why all this? Why? Why? For the sake of the old doctor. You have done this from a sense of gratitude, and he after all was only doing his duty.

Lenka.—He did more than that.

Valenta.—And even if he did! Still he cannot require such a price for it. (Suddenly, with more vehemence.) Or are you afraid of a public scandal, since your marriage is already announced?

Lenka (Hastily).—No, not that. If only he himself would release me from my promise!

Valenta.—You had better release him!

Lenka.—That would make him suffer shame and ridicule in return for all his kind deeds. And how could I tell him!

Valenta.—I will tell him.

Lenka.—That would amount to the same thing. No, no!

Valenta.—If he only knew! (Dr. Plavec makes an effort to advance, but Mrs. Rettig holds him back.)

Lenka (Sadly, despondently).—But he does know; Mrs. Rettig has surely told him.

Plavec (Coming forward).—But yet not all; not this, Miss Lenka. (Lenka utters a stifled scream.)

Valenta (Rising quickly).—Doctor, if you have heard—

Plavec (Forcing a smile).—Well, just a bit. (To Lenka.) And everything bids us cancel the match.

Lenka.—No, doctor, I have promised.

Plavec.—No, no, Lenka dear, enough of this effort to overcome yourself. But I did not want you to suffer such pain; I did not think of it; no, no indeed! (With a doctor's cheerfulness.) And the heart must be kept sound and well. (With forced cheerfulness.) And therefore we will release each other: you because of your love and I because of gratitude to you for your intended sacrifice. That sacrifice I cannot accept. I only did my duty. And so we are both free and we have not broken our friendship, das heisst,[83] neither you with me or I with you. And for the rest, let them talk! (To Mrs. Rettig.) I have overstepped the boundary line, and now must step back.

Mrs. Rettig.—But with full honor.

Lenka (Gratefully and stirreed by happiness, appealingly).— Doctor!

Plavec.—Not a word, not one; I know; I am not angry.

Mrs. Rettig.—Nor at me either?

Plavec.—One does not thank a doctor for an unpleasant medicine.

Scene XX

The same; Roubínek, Chadima, Rejsek.

Roubínek comes in from the rear, more rapidly than is his wont and evidently ill at ease. Chadima and Rejsek come in with him, but remain in the rear.

Chadima (To him in a suppressed but eager voice).—As I said, Mr. Registrar, they are there—over there.

Roubínek (Stops by the bench).—Have you not seen my wife, if you please?

Plavec.—She was here a moment ago.


Plavec.—No, she met—

Roubínek (Frightened)—She met—and so that—!(Goes towards the temple, and at the foot of the steps calls) Betty, Betty dear! (Silence.)

All look at Roubínek with surprise.

Roubínek (Goes hesitatingly up the steps).—Never in my life have I—(Takes off his hat and wipes his brow) Betty, Betty dear!

Gülich (Comes out of the temple).—Ach, Herr Registrar.

Roubínek (Starts).—It is he!

Mrs. Rettig (To Plavec).—We have classic witnesses.

Mrs. Roubínek comes out of the temple.

Roubínek.—And she! Betty, you, what have you—?

Mrs. Roubínek (Indignantly).—Aber[84] Roubínek.

Chadima (To Rejsek).—You see, you see!

Roubínek.—But this—! (Becomes silent as he steps forward.)

Mrs. Roller (Knitting a stocking).—It is so nice and cool here.

Mrs. Rettig.—And such a fine place for listening.

Gülich.—We did not wish to disturb you.

Rejsek (To Chadima).—Now do you see?

Mrs. Roller (To Plavec).—Have you convinced yourself that the magistrate's wife here—?

Plavec.—Yes, yes, she was right.

Gülich.—And I too, when I said: "A cat that would not catch mice!"

Mrs. Rettig (Motioning towards Lenka and Valenta).—O no, Dr. Gulich, here the heart was victor.

Mrs. Roubínek.—Mrs. Roller! (As she departs.)

Mrs. Roller.—Yes, we won't detain them. (Walks away.)

Gülich (To Mrs. Rettig).—And what else is there on the program?

Mrs. Rettig.—Something that is sure to please you: Bohemian songs.

Gülich-—O, thank you; it is too late for that now. (Calling after the ladies.)

Roubínek (Still in consternation).—This is all topsy-turvy; Zizka and the Emperor Joseph—

Mrs. Roubínek (Already off the stage).—Aber Roubínek! (Roubínek starts and follows her.)

Chadima (To Gulich, whom he stops just as the latter is leaving).—Doctor, doctor! (Rejsek follows Chadima.)

Gülich (Rises irritably).—Fellow, let us have no—!

Chadima.—l've nothing to say except to let you know that the shop sign is in order again, and is in Bohemian, again in Bohemian: I'm a rocky man, rocky.

Rejsek.—And I am having a Bohemian sign made too.

Chadima.—And there will be more of them, there will—there will!

Gülich—What is that to me! (Goes out.)

Chadima.—So much for you! (Hastens up to Mrs. Rettig.) So he knows now, madam!

Rejsek (Behind Chadima).—And he will give no more trouble.

Mrs. Rettig (With a smile).—To the shop signs; but otherwise—Well, we won't give in.—Ah, Ančka!

Scene XXI

Ančka, Mrs. Rettig, Dr. Plavec, Lenka, Valenta, Rejsek, Chadima.

Ančka (Coming in suddenly from the left).—If you please, sir—

(Looks at Mrs. Rettig and Lenka, and observes that all is well.)

Plavec.—We have missed you here. You have come with your lover?

Ančka.—No, I have come, but alone, without a lover; I have dismissed him already. I have come for you.

Plavec.—What now?

Ančka.—They have sent from Osík to ask you to call on old Kabrhel.

Plavec—It is an urgent matter. I will go directly. (To Mrs. Rettig.) In the evening of my life I wished to enjoy a fresh morning, but it is evening and it will remain so. But it is no longer so hot, it is not suffocating, and—and—(Touched.) Miss Lenka, (offering her his hand) you have a beautiful morning before you, and may you have happiness also!

Lenka (In tears).—Doctor!

Plavec (Offering his hand to Valenta).—And may you likewise!

Mrs. Rettig (Offering her hand to Plavec, with hearty good will).—My dear doctor!

Plavec (With forced humor).—But no writing this up, fellow patriot! (Goes out on the left.)

Mrs. Rettig (To the young couple).—And what now?

Lenka (Embracing her in a burst of gratitude and joy).—Auntie, my precious auntie!

Mrs. Rettig.—There, that's the way it should be! (Gives her hand to Valenta.) You see!

Valenta.—Madam, how can I thank you! (Kisses her hand, Roubal comes in from the rear.)

Ančka (Has been watching everything with unconcealed emotion, then speaks with decision).—And old Mrs. Zelenek after all is absolutely right!

Mrs. Rettig.—The singing will start now.

All move towards the left. Chadima and Rejsek, in the rear, follow them.

Chadima.—You see, you see, she is better than a lawyer! (Goes out with Rejsek.)

It is growing dark; the moonlight shimmers through the trees.

Scene XXII

Roubal, the Teacher's Assistant, Všetečka.

Roubal in the rear looks out towards the right and begins to beckon, whereupon the Teacher's Assistant and Všetečka come in from the right, each with a hunter's horn under his arm.

Roubal.—Damna—! Why so late?—The directress is already anxious to go home. Here, here, I say. (Leads them towards the temple.) Go up the steps, and then blow your horns in a hurry—but (to the Teacher's Assistant) I can tell you this—

The Teacher's Assistant and Všetečka mount the steps and blow their horns.

The moon shines forth.

Meanwhile, before the fanfare is concluded, there is heard from the left a powerful chorus of male voices:

"When the moon sheddeth its glorious light—"


  1. Copyright 1920 by the Poet Lore Company, all rights reserved.
  2. Alois Jirásek (born in 1851) is the most popular writer of recent years in Bohemia. His fame rests primarily on his historical novels, in some of which he treats the heroic past of his country in the same patriotic spirit with which Sienkiewicz has glorified the old days of Poland, while in another he describes the struggle of the Bohemian people, in the early years of the nineteeth century, to revive its own language and culture. His dramas deal with similar themes. Thus in Dobromila Rettig the interest is less in the rather commonplace love story than in the background against which it is relieved, that of the conflict in a Bohemian town between conservative, pro-German citizens and the patriotic circles who are seeking to revive the use of the Bohemian language for literature and for all purposes of everyday life. This play is woven about the personality of one of the minor figures in the Bohemian national movement. Magdalena Dobromila Rettig (1785–1845) was noted as a writer of stories and also as the author of "The Young Housewife," "Coffee and All that is Sweet," and "The Household Cook Book." Her husband, curiously omitted from the drama, also had some reputation as a writer. At the present time, when the efforts of the Bohemian patriots have been crowned with complete success, this picture of their humbler days has a peculiar value for readers in foreign lands.

    All Bohemian names are accented on the first syllable. An oblique stroke over a vowel, as in the name of the author above, indicates the long quantity of the vowel, not the accent of the word.

  3. Literary Bohemian.
  4. Reading club.
  5. Swore eternal love.
  6. Golden ring.
  7. Loving.
  8. And so.
  9. Your most humble servant.
  10. You know her way of speaking.
  11. That is literary Bohemian; that is beyond you.
  12. I suppose she would like to have everything in Bohemian.
  13. O, the idea!
  14. An amateur performance, but in Bohemian.
  15. Such large letters.
  16. No, that is shameless.
  17. As I say.
  18. A scandal, rea!lly a scandal.
  19. But.
  20. What does that mean?
  21. Let the shoemaker stick to his last.
  22. We must be going.
  23. Doting fool.
  24. But surely.
  25. So it is.
  26. That was a sect.
  27. The allusion is to the fashion among patriots of the Bohemian revival of exchanging their German names for others of Slavic origin. "Dobromila" means "good-loving".
  28. Judge-right.
  29. Cure-loving.
  30. What?
  31. The dahlia, the new, modern flower.
  32. Of nothing but dahlias.
  33. Jungmann's Bohemian-German Dictionary is one of the great books of the Bohemian revival. It was published in 1835–39, so that its mention here, in a play of which the action is supposed to occur in 1836, is a slight anachronism.
  34. Attention
  35. And then they say in literary Bohemian.
  36. Your most humble servant.
  37. Good morning.
  38. One cannot take that seriously.
  39. This playing on words.
  40. The scene of the great defeat of the Bohemians by the Austrians in 1620. This battle marks the end of Bohemian independence.
  41. King of Bohemia, 1346–78. "Love of the land and people of Bohemia seems to have been the one passion of Charles." (Palacky.)
  42. Cannot be otherwise.
  43. —and to polite learning. And that is the highest point, the pinnacle of culture.
  44. Humanity, polite learning.
  45. Yes, very nice, but—
  46. That was a glance.
  47. Václav Kliment Klicpera (1792–1859), poet and dramatist. "The Miller's Monkey" (see p. 39) is one of his popular pieces for declamation.
  48. Václav Matej Kramerius (1759–1808), author and publisher. By his zeal for providing reading matter, in popular style, in the Bohemian language, be became one of the pioneers in the Bohemian revival.
  49. Jiri Melantrich (1522–80), Bohemian publisher and author.
  50. Václav Hájek, writer of the first half of the sixteenth century, author of an extremely popular "Chronicle of Bohemia."
  51. A religious allegory by Comenius (1592–1670); the most famous work in Bohemian literature.
  52. Under Mount Blanik sleep the knights of St. Václav, Prince of Bohemia (928–36). They will emerge to save their country in its hour of greatest danger, when enemies are so numerous that they could carry away the whole kingdom on their horses' hoofs.
  53. Your most humble.
  54. That is to say.
  55. By Klicpera: see p 25.
  56. Michel Silorad Partčka (1787–1838), a writer of minor importance. "The Medley" is a satiric poem by him.
  57. Damned pretty.
  58. Is so sentimental.
  59. An now comes the Bohemian Muse.
  60. Ah, honored ladies.
  61. In the temple of silence.
  62. A fluttering angel.
  63. Really.
  64. Your most humble.
  65. For the common people, young gentlemen.
  66. Very much mixed.
  67. Whether the educated people.
  68. That is to say.
  69. Rendezvous.
  70. That is to say.
  71. Morning promenade.
  72. Don't take it amiss.
  73. High-strung, so romantic.
  74. Love.
  75. A broken heart—Mr. Retainer.
  76. So quiet.
  77. He might raise some trouble.
  78. Your most humble.
  79. In the Temple of Silence.
  80. So quiet, so—
  81. But, ladies.
  82. Back!
  83. That is to say.
  84. But.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in 1901, before the cutoff of January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1930, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 93 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in 1901, before the cutoff of January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1952, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 71 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse