Poet Lore/Volume 33/Number 2/The Awakening
A FIVE ACT DRAMA
Translated from the Bohemian by Beatrice M. Mekota
Karel, a Count from Silesia
Jan Arnošt, Count Beauvalle-Lichtenbert
Countess Marie Ludmila
Filip, Count Millesimo
Vrána, a small farmer
Václav, a count from Bubna
František, Baron Schirnding, commander of the troops at Pilsen
Kořinek, a bagpiper
Havelka, a gamekeeper
Marie, daughter of Havelka
Jan Krištof, counsellor at the emperor’s court
Vojtěch Prokop, assistant counsellor
Jírak, a small farmer
Urban, a magistrate
Jan, the castle game keeper
Peasants, Officials, Game Warden, Soldiers, Servants and Attendants at the castle, Private Servant of Karel, Count Dejma, Chamber Maid.
Scene, Castle of Beauvalle Lichtenberg at Pilsen
Time, The year 1742.
The Countess, Marie, the bagpiper Kořinek
Kořinek stands in front of the game-keeper’s house, playing his bagpipe. From the rear, the Countess with Marie slowly approach together. Absorbed in their conversation, they glance up, and notice the bagpiper who is still playing.
Marie.—My Lady, there is the bagpiper!
Countess.—The bagpiper,—the old bagpiper! Come! Let us go nearer to listen!
Marie (Calling).—Bagpiper, bagpiper, nobody is at home!
(Kořinek, an aged man with long thin white hair, turns about, sees the ladies approaching, and makes a deep bow.)
Countess (Praising him).—Well done. You play very well. If we had a group of boys and girls here, they would doubtless be dancing in a circle about you. (The delighted bagpiper prances about, keeping time to his music with his feet.)
Marie.—Just look, my lady, he skips about like a live, frisky young kid,—as though he were alive instead of a bellows. (The bagpiper finishes.)
Countess.—Where do you come from, Grandfather? You do not belong at this court.
Kořinek (With bared head, approaches the lady to kiss her hand)—From Pilsen, noble lady, from Pilsen.
Countess.—And why are you here? (Giving him a coin.)
Kořinek.—It is the war, the war, noble lady. All the while they are trailing along the road toward Prague,—now even the French regiments are coming on, and those soldiers seem to have more loose coins about them than one could store away in a bag pipe. On my faith, it does not appear as though they were marching against us! And so I will follow them up to Prague to play for them. I will earn more there in one week than at Pilsen by playing at all the festivals!
Countess.—But they are our enemies!
Kořinek.—Enemies, noble lady? Yes, true, true, but strange kinds of enemies. There were other days, within the memory of the old folks, when war came and brought enemies in its train. They took whatever there was to take! Houses were burned, people had to flee, yes, entire villages were destroyed. I well remember the Swedes! But the Bavarians? They wouldn’t harm a hair of my head. If the good Lord would but be gracious enough to always send such enemies! Countess (Gently rebuking him).—Do not talk so, old man! However that may be, they are still our enemies. And how will you manage to talk to them?
Bagpiper (Jokingly).—Noble lady, I can talk to them, very well indeed! The bagpipe makes friends everywhere, and the enemies’ coins are as good as ours.
Countess.—But take care that something don’t befall you! Better remain here, within our border. There is another castle not far distant. Better stroll on toward it, and earn something there.
Bagpiper.—The Lord bless you, noble lady. May fortune ever be kind, and the fates smile upon you. (He strikes up a merry tune, and takes his leave, sauntering to the rear toward the park.)
Marie (To the Countess).—He intends to take the forest path! Certainly it is dangerous!
Countess.—True! (Calling the bagpiper) Not that way! It isn’t safe. You might encounter wild animals in the park! Go to the right. (Pointing out the direction.) It may be longer, but you will then be safe! (The bagpiper continues to play, and gradually disappears in the wood. The Countess and Marie stand silently gazing after him.)
Marie, the Countess
Marie (After the bagpiper has disappeared).—A jolly old fellow. But my lady, with so many foreign troops passing toward Prague,—do you not fear that they may come here also?
Countess.—Have no apprehensions. They march along the highways and public roads. Nowhere have they been reported for any violence or depredations they have committed. But even if they should come this way,—(jestingly) certainly you would not be afraid?
Marie (Gazing affectionately upward into the eyes of the Countess).—I have a father,—yes, and your gracious protection, my lady.
Countess.—And is that all?
Marie (Blushing, with downcast eyes.)
Countess.—And Tomeš? Is it not true that he also would protect you?
Countess.—Do not be afraid. I would not interfere. Child, I myself am somewhat fond of your Tomeš.
Marie (Kissing the hand of the Countess).—My precious Countess!
Countess.—I knew how he felt when I saw him looking at you while you two danced together. Fine looking young man, to be sure.
(MARIE shyly brushes away the tears.)
Countess (Laughingly).—So, so; your joy has melted you into tears. Don’t you have a bit of lonely longing to see him?
Marie.—Yes, joy and longing intermingled. And frankly speaking, I am deeply worried.
Marie (Gazing about, adds uncertainly).—We are speaking of Tomeš, and,—he does not deny that he goes a-poaching.
Countess (Laughing).—And you are weeping about it? He appears to be a fearless and daring fellow!
Marie.—Yes, yes, but the Count! And what would happen to Tomeš were he to be caught?
Countess (Seriously).—That must not happen. Your lover must not carry his favorite pastime to so desperate an end. That would be serious!
Marie.-—hat is what I fear; that is why I worry about him!
Countess.—Let him indulge his whim, but warn him not to involve himself in trouble. (Half jokingly) But you have so much influence over him,—surely you need have no fear. (During their conversation they arrive at the spot where the bagpiper disappeared into the forest.) Now go home, child. Your father, the game keeper, will be coming soon. I will return to the castle. If you come to the village, stop to see me. I will delay the bagpiper there, if you wish to hear him again. (Tomeš now appears, coming from the direction of the game reserve. He pauses, seeing Marie with the Countess.)
Marie.—Thank you, many thanks, noble lady, but I doubt whether I can come today.
Countess.—Then make it tomorrow, at the latest! It is now at least three days since you have paid me a call. And I have been preparing something for you!
Marie.—How kind you are, my Lady! (Kisses her hand.)
(The Countess laughingly touches Marie’s cheek with her lips, and goes away. Marie returns to the cottage of the game keeper. Tomeš hastens to overtake her, and slips his arm affectionately around her waist.)
Tomeš.—I’ve caught you now, my little Marie.
Marie (With a faint exclamation).—How you frightened me! For heaven’s sake, be more careful! Suppose some one were to see us!
Tomeš.-—nd isn’t it perfectly lawful?
Marie.—Yes, but this is not a scene for the public eye. (Seriously) The Countess was just now speaking of you.
Tomeš.—And what did she say?
Marie (Holding his hand and gazing earnestly into his eyes).—That you should not go a-poaching.
Tomeš (Astonished).—Marie! And how in the world did you happen to open up the subject?
Marie.—It is with me all the time,—the fear of discovery. My sweetest dreams of you at night are changed into a nightmare, and I awake with the cold sweat of fear upon me. It worries me by day, and haunts me by night. (Earnestly.) Promise me, to stay away from the forest!
Tomeš (With darkening face).—When the kingfisher above yonder brook promises you to cease from robbing the stream of its fish,—then I also will give you my promise. Do you know, Marie, the charm of the forest,—do you realize the fascination that lures, and drags man into its green depths, that pictures a thousand images there for him? In such moments, man is like a mating grouse,—he sees nothing, hears nothing; he would be indifferent if a score of game wardens were at his very heels.
Marie (Gloomily, absorbed in thought).—And he is indifferent even to the sacred gift of life, which he might so easily lose,—(quickly) to you and me!
Tomeš.—True, how true. (Gazes ahead absorbed in his thoughts) and still you cannot shake off that strange power, once it has you in its grip. Perhaps you have tried a thousand times . . . Hm! . . . (gazes laughingly ahead.) Just now the count has made new laws, making the punishment for poachers even more severe. So far, neither the count nor any one else has any well founded suspicion about me. But he intends to go after us now!
Marie.—O Tomsi, do not risk your life so foolishly! Stay away from the woods which do not lawfully belong to you!
Tomeš.—They are not mine,—true. Neither do they belong to the present possessor who claims them! Do you know, these woods, those all about us once belonged to the people settled among them? Do you realize that those people,—you, I, still have the right to claim them? Later the present masters came,—came like thieves in the night and took them,—seized whatever they pleased to claim! Now they say the woods are theirs, not ours! . . . And we must forever be deprived of our possessions, robbed of our birthright by these vandals, see ourselves oppressed, despised by them!
Marie.—Tomsi, what are you saying!
Tomeš.—Nothing but the truth! . . . (Quietly) The chronicles give us the record of these stately old forests! formerly here among us, yes, all over this territory, this country,—there were other ruling masters, called the “Bohemian Counts,”—and one of them even owned this castle with its estates. But they were, (his voice rose with rising anger) they, including the original master of this castle, were all the victims of a violent death at Prague,—and then, whoever came, seized and held whatever he saw fit to take. (Excitedly) My grandfather used to talk by the hour about it; he heard the facts directly from his father. (Quietly, and secretively) The great grandfather of the present count,—it is said that he took possession of this estate through a crafty course.
Marie (Fearfully).—If some one were to hear you!
Tomeš (With clouded face).—One dare not openly discuss it . . . but sometime when I think of the injustice of it all, when alone, it fires my blood and burns like fire in my veins. . . I then feel as though I could do something wild, desperate . . . . . and when I say to myself, I have as much right to hunt in these forests as the count has to live in his ill-gotten castle,—and then I straightway go into them and no one could prevent me!
Marie.—Tomeš, Tomeš, how wild you are today! And what do you hope to accomplish by this lawlessness?
Tomeš.—And though it is all in vain, (pointing to his breast)—if I could only ease the burning pain that gnaws at my vitals here. Just remember what the people are obliged to suffer out in the fields from these aristocratic beasts, these slave-drivers . . . That old Vrána . . .
Marie (Enviously).—He again,—and that . . .
Tomeš (Taking up her sentence).—Do not go on so. Please do not talk about Lída . . . do not believe anything.
Marie.—Then why is she following you up all the time, and why are you at Vrána’s so much?
Tomeš.—I truly pity the child if she cares for me. It is only her mistaken sense of gratitude . . . I jumped into the lake to save her that time she was drowning . . . (Earnestly) But I do not give her a thought . . . Don’t you believe me?
Marie.—I do believe you, but at times my heart is heavy when I think of Lída. The Countess asked about her yesterday. And today she gave me a hint that you should guard yourself. It might go badly with you, were you to be caught hunting in the woods.
Tomeš.—The Countess,—she is very kind to us; she is still a descendant of the early Czechish rulers, and her heart is with us. But the Count . . .
Marie (Gazing into the park, and seizing Tomeš by the hand).—Father with the park keeper!
Havelka (Comes from the park with the warden.)
Tomeš (Steps away from Marie)
Havelka, the game warden, Marie, Tomeš
Havelka.—Accursed fellows! If the Count had happened to come upon it . . .
Tomeš (Approaching).—Did something happen, Mr. Gamewarden?
Havelka.—They killed a young roe during the night, and left it at the very edge of the park! If the Count had come across it, I would at once be dismissed from his service. Those accursed serfs don’t know when they have had enough . . . they would even deprive an honest fellow of his bread.
Tomeš (Heatedly).—Some clumsy sportsman might have done it! Perhaps it won’t occur again.
Havelka.—You are trying to assure me?
Tomeš (Seeing he had exposed something).—I believe that I can. I will go today to all the neighboring villages, and speak with the poachers there, and I will hold myself responsible if this same accident occurs again.
Havelka (Carefully).—You talk as though they were familiar acquaintances of yours.
Tomeš.—I talk as I do because this is a shameful piece of business.
Havelka (Suspiciously).—Very well . . . but we two, I hope, will not have a chance meeting in the forest?
Marie (Stepping up to the game warden).—What are you hinting at, father?
Havelka.—Nothing, it is nothing, my child. (To Tomeš) Have a care. You don’t want people to talk ill of you. The Countess was asking me some time ago whether I could not use you as an assistant. I would be glad to say a good word for you.
Tomeš.—If I could only become a gamekeeper. I would give up everything else on earth to do it!
Havelka.—Your desire may be fulfilled. Just now, do not be so rash. Did you come to see me,—or, (laughing as he smoothed his daughter’s hair) did you know I was not at home?
Tomeš.—I came to pay my respects to you, and instead I found Marie here.
Havelka.—And you surely were not disappointed. What did you wish?
Tomeš.—They will very shortly send you a message from the castle.
Havelka.—From the castle?
Tomeš.—Yes. You are to go up there. They are holding a council.
Tomeš.—About the poachers.
Havelka.—And what did they say?
Tomeš.—The count was angry, and grew greatly excited because a little poaching had been going on in these forests. He wants to take harsh measures to put an end to it. (With rising voice) He has heard that in these very woods (pointing around him) they once erected a gallows for the poachers,—
Marie (With great agitation).—Tomsi!
Tomeš (Continues).—and that they will hang upon them the first poacher, without even a trial, that is caught from now on!
Marie.—A contemptible death on the scaffold!
Havelka (Shrugging his shoulders).—It has been long discussed.
Tomeš.—The poachers are frightened. So our Count wants to enlist their services while they are scared out. Some of them have rifles hidden away in the game reserve,—the Count wants them to shoot any one of the suspected who may even be seen in the park!
Marie (In the rear, wringing her hands.)
Havelka.—It may put an end to the poaching. But how do you come to know what was discussed at the castle?
Tomeš (Carelessly).—Oh, I just knew it, and came to you before any messenger could arrive. The Count will be glad to see you at once. He is very angry today.
Havelka.—I will go to the castle at once.—But, Tomsi, is it all true?
Tomeš.—It is. What else they have planned I do not know. I am here now quite a while.
Havelka.—I am deeply grateful to you. And now I must go. (Preparing to leave.)
Marie.—Here is the Count himself!
(From the park proceeds the Count Beauvalle, a magistrate, and Count Millesimo, dressed in travelling clothes, and talking to Beauvalle. The gamekeeper makes a deep obeisance to them. The Count nods, but Millesimo ignores him, absorbed in conversation with the Count. Tomeš leads Marie to the cottage which he enters, then he leaves by the wood road.)
Beauvalle, Millesimo, magistrate, Havelka
Millesimo.—I don’t know what I would do just now if I had to remain in Prague. (Laughing) Think of it, Count, I was just sitting at breakfast, eating a tender bit of grouse,—from your game reserve, by the way,—when a serving man, all breathless with excitement burst into my presence. Your Grace, he calls out, the French and Bavarians are here. (From the rear come the game warden and magistrate so deeply absorbed in conversation that they do not hear the Count and Millesimo.)
Beauvalle (Surprised).—In Prague?
Millesimo (Laughing).—Where else, dear friend, but Prague? Why, in Prague we actually have the general, Count Ogilwy,—he had, all told, some two thousand soldiers! (Ironically) Then how could the enemy find themselves in Prague!
Beauvalle.—Strange anxiety this is, about the capital city of our country. (Shortly) Two thousand soldiers, you say?
Millesimo.—Yes, it is so. There were more of them, but other generals took whatever they wanted. They tramp about Bohemia with their troops, one here, another there,—all of them waiting for the enemy to send notice of their arrival, and ready to present their compliments. (Laughing.) In the first alarm, I dropped the grouse,—it was the best white meat of the fowl. And here comes a second servant, and breathlessly announces, The Saxons are here!
Beauvalle.—The Saxons on the same day, and also at Prague?
Millesimo (Jestingly).—Truly, as though it had been arranged,—the troops of the enemy from both sides, and approaching in just that moment when I wanted to finish my breakfast. And would you believe it, Count, I did not finish, I did not finish my breakfast. I just left everything on the table and at once ordered my horse and rode away,—at once, contrary to all my customary habits.
Beauvalle.—You shall be my guest. It is unnecessary to expose yourself to danger, or a possible siege at Prague.
Millesimo (Laughing).—Besieged, besieged,—I besieged! That would be a strange freak of chance, indeed!
Beauvalle.—Here you will be protected and have only regret, that meeting you unexpectedly on the way, I could not conduct you at once to the castle.
Millesimo.—Do not speak of it. It is a small breach of hospitality, indeed. You wish to give some instructions here. I came across you so unexpectedly, and moreover I have bored you with a recitation of all the events that occurred . . .
Beauvalle (Interrupting).—In just a moment Count. I will join you in a minute.
Millesimo.—Do not let me detain you. (Gazing around.) It is very beautiful, all is well kept. The park, the cottage . . . (Looks over everything, then goes to the game warden’s cottage.)
Beauvalle (To the game warden).—Havelko!
Havelka (Advancing).—I was just now on the way to see your grace.
Beauvalle.—Within two days, you must learn and report to me who is poaching in my park.
Havelka.—I will discover and report to you whatever I can learn.
Beauvalle.—Not what you can learn,—I must know everything! I must put an end to this poaching which is robbing my parks and forests. (Forcibly) And from you I shall expect greater concern and more watchfulness in the future!
Havelka (Frightened).—I serve your grace as faithfully as possible. My life is in daily danger while spying upon the poachers.
Beauvalle.—You have now learned my command. (The warden bows and steps back.)
Magistrate (To the warden).—There is no help for it. Better let a few of them hang, then there will be an end to it. (The warden walks off to his cottage, the magistrate to himself.) If they but knew that I buy game from Tomeš. But why is the Count so stingy?
Millesimo (Gazing through the window of the game keeper’s cottage).—Ha! This is a delightful surprise! Count, such a beautiful girl here!
Havelka (Wishing to protect his daughter, steps up).—That, your grace, is my daughter! (Millesimo turns to the magistrate as Havelka enters the cottage.)
Enters Vrána, Tomeš, and Lída.
Beauvalle, Millesimo, magistrate, Vrána, Tomeš, and Lída.
Tomeš (To Vrána).—He is right here. (Points to the Count) Go directly to him and do not be afraid.
Vrána (Timidly).—Your Grace, noble Count,—
Beauvalle.—And who are you?
Vrána.—I am Vrána. I have a little house over there by the park. And your noble grace, I hardly ever reap anything.
Beauvalle.—Is it my fault, that you bring your complaint to me?
Vrána.—No, Your Grace, indeed not,—but the animals in your parks.
Vrána.—Yes. They devour everything. From the forests and the parks come the deer, and great black beasts,—they take it all,—all that we sow; I will not have a straw or grain of wheat left.
Beauvalle.—I cannot help it. Watch with greater care and it will not happen.
Vrána.—No, to your grace, there is no damage,—but to me, to me! My whole harvest is again destroyed. It is now three days,—the wild boars broke through my woven hedge,—trampled up the fields, chewed and destroyed the crops, then other wild beasts came in and completed the damage done.
Beauvalle.—And why come to me?
Vrána.—I beg your noble highness, make me some small amends to keep us from starving. And then a stronger hedge. It would greatly help.
Beauvalle.—You would hold me responsible for the damage? To whom belongs these fields, the meadows, your house, even you miserable life? To whom except myself? And you come to me to make amends for the damage.
Vrána.—Just a living is all I beg of you, noble highness. We work like serfs from morning till night for that little bit of land and our tiny house,—our living is all tied up therein.
Beauvalle.—Your bondsman’s service I will excuse you from for one month, no more. And with such a demand, never appear before me again. (Turns away.)
Vrána (Makes a sign of abject hopelessness, and his head drops. Lída, slow to give up hope, wishes to drag him anew to another plea before the Count.)
Lída.—Your Grace, I beg you, a thousand times I beg you, listen to our humble petition!
Beauvalle.—And what daring is this?
Lída.—My father here,—we scarcely have the means of livelihood. And in the forest and game reserve, where not only we but the people from the village are obliged to pass,— . . . well, our very lives are in danger. No one is protected from the wild beasts and several have already been attacked.
Vrána (Emboldened again).—Especially those two wild boars,—our lives are daily in danger.
Beauvalle.—What are you trying to tell me now? I told you once to go!
(Millesimo approaches Lída, gazing intently at her.)
Tomeš (Suddenly steps up).—Noble Count,—these poor people are truly in terrible straights. I beg you, make some amends for their loss; fortify their hedge in such a way that the wild beasts cannot trample their garden. And the fiercest of the animals,—I beg you, have them destroyed!
Beauvalle (Stepping up to him amazed).—What is your name? Gamekeeper, who is this man?
Game Warden (Frightened).—He is,—Tom—
Tomeš.—Tomeš, your grace, at your service. But it does not matter who I am,—these unfortunate people (pointing to Vrána and Lída) are in a desperate condition. Give them some help, I beg of you.
Beauvalle.—You’ll get some help—and they also. Out of my sight! And you (To Tomeš), report at the castle for work unless you wish to be arrested and brought over.
Vrána.—All in vain, and all is in vain!
Tomeš (Quietly to Vrána).—I will help you, be quiet now. In two days, at the very latest, neither of those wild boars will break into your garden again. (Beauvalle talks with the game keeper.)
Lída.—You would, Tomsi . . .
Tomeš.—Be quiet,—I will take care of everything. (Something is heard stirring in the forest. Tomeš listens keenly.) That is a wild beast,—it is chasing a pursued deer! . . . (He listens a moment, then slips away. Vrána follows him with Lída.)
Millesimo (Gazing after Lída).—That is indeed a lovely girl! They seem to thrive in these parts. (Stands looking after her.)
Beauvalle, Millesimo, the magistrate
Beauvalle (To the magistrate).—Is it worth the effort to catch the bold fellow?
Magistrate.—Give your order, and all shall be accordingly done.
Beauvalle.—And where is the game warden?
Magistrate.—He went into the cottage. (Beauvalle goes into the game warden’s house.)
Millesimo (Gazing after the departing Lída).—Count, you have some rare female specimens of game here. Already two does, two does I have seen while here, (turns to the magistrate),—Ah, but this is not the Count. I thought I was speaking to the Count, and he has slipped away.
Magistrate.—He went into the game warden’s house.
Millesimo.—Into the cottage after that first doe?
Magistrate.—The noble Count is inclined to jest. His Highness—
Millesimo.—No excuses, no excuses; we understand each other.
Magistrate.—Certainly, Your Highness. The wife of the game keeper was a young girl, raised with the Countess, and later became one of her attendants. When later she died, leaving a little daughter, the Countess developed a great interest and real affection for the child.
(Count Dejm steps out from the left: a wrap is cast over his shoulder. He is accompanied by a servant with his baggage.)
Millesimo, magistrate, Count Dejm, servant, later Beauvalle and Havelka.
Dejm.—We will make better time to the castle this way than by taking the carriage and following the high road.
Millesimo (Seeing the new arrivals).—The noble, superb,—Count Dejm!
Dejm (Astonished).—Millesimo,—what are you doing here!
Millesimo.—Yes, what a meeting! Two wanderers in the wood! How idyllic. (Laughing) How lucky! As though purposely designed by us. This is really very unusual.
Dejm.—But just tell me, where did you come from?
Millesimo.—I? Where else than from Prague? I run away, escape with an unfinished meal before me, to seek protection with Beauvalle from the enemy.
Dejm.—Then are they near us?
Millesimo.—Yes, there in the cottage,—there you will find a fawn, a young, shy fawn.
Dejm.—That is splendid, indeed!
Beauvalle (Coming from the cottage, talking to the game keeper who escorts him three steps, makes a bow, then returns to the house again. Dejm approaches Beauvalle.)
Dejm.—Beauvalle,—do you welcome your new guest? (Goes up to greet him.)
Beauvalle.—Aj, Dejm! (Greets him.) Today we are exceptionally favored.
Dejm.—I come from your neighbor, Furstenberg, to discuss some weighty matters with you.
Beauvalle (Carefully).—What is this, so important that you speak of?
Dejm.—I will tell you everything. Before old Millesimo, here, it is impossible.
Beauvalle.—You arouse my curiosity. I must know at once. (To Millesimo.) Pardon, Count, but I shall yet be delayed a few minutes.
Millesimo.—Aj, one will never get away, waiting upon you. (Laughing) And you forget that for three whole hours I have not eaten.
Beauvalle.—If you wish to go, the magistrate will conduct you to the castle,—at the very latest, I will leave in a half hour.
Dejm (Giving the servant his wrap).—Go also up to the castle.
Millesimo.—The Countess will be overcome with surprise, quite overcome,—but I will entertain her royally,—I will give her a detailed account of my flight from Prague. That will please her, no doubt. (Leaves with the servant and the magistrate.)
Beauvalle (After the departing Millesimo).—Eternally childish. Whatever may occur, one can never depend upon his counsel or judgment. But what is up now, my dear Dejm,—what news do you bring me?
Dejm (Seriously).—Concerning the entire country, Count, and most of all it concerns us, our order, whose representatives we happen to be. The game for the possession of our country has now been played for several centuries. Do you know that the throne of Bohemia will soon undergo a change?
Beauvalle (Overcome, but calm).—What an idea! I know however that the hordes of the enemy are pouring into Austria to divide the country and tear it into pieces! But they will not accomplish their aim!
Dejm.—Prepare yourself, Count, for the fact that your supposition is unsafe. Look at everything clearly; ask yourself if it is possible for the ship of state to survive the stormy waves which seem to be tearing its timbers asunder.
Beauvalle.—It is surely in great danger, but I still have hope that the country will survive this storm.
Dejm.—You might have been justified in your faith at the beginning; we have arrived at another hour. Where can the power of the queen reach,—weak, torn by dissensions,—against such hordes of the enemy. Any moment might bring us the news of the fall of Prague. (With stress) and with the fall of Prague, the entire state will be torn asunder!
Beauvalle.—You see things through a dark glass. If all the troops of Marie Teresa will but unite, they can yet defeat the enemy!
Dejm.—Excuse me, Beauvalle, if I cannot share your opinion. If it were only Bavaria and France against us,—perhaps, then, our forces would be sufficient to overpower them.
Beauvalle.—They are powerful enough. There are no other enemies.
Dejm.—Within five days, Frederick of Prussia fell into Silesia.
Beauvalle (Overcome).—Frederick of Prussia made peace with Marie Teresa!
Dejm (With emphasis).—And violated the treaty! And do you realize that France is continually increasing its Anti-Austrian Society? Do you realize that with France are now combined the powers of Saxony and Bavaria, Poland, Spain, Sicily and Sardinia? Do you not know that the powers of the enemy will continually increase?
Beauvalle (Astonished).—That is news indeed! Into our remote province, reports travel very slowly!
Dejm.—And even if the forces of Marie Teresa could prevent the taking of Prague, even then the throne is doomed and is bound to be overthrown. It is to our advantage to choose, in place of the Empress, whomever we see fit to select for king.
Beauvalle.—King of this country?
Dejm.—That is the case,—and our decision must not be long delayed.
Beauvalle.—A changed dynasty,—an overthrown throne! Then the state will have but a short time to outlive the last descendant of the Hapsburgs!
Dejm (Seriously).—King Charles died, and with him the whole state is dying! And from her grave is springing up a whole series of states, out of one former power. And it behooves us, Count, it is an advantage that belongs to our order, to hasten the resurrection of our state.
Beauvalle.—And upon whom, think you, the leadership should fall?
Dejm.—Charles Albert will accept and hold it. He is to be our future King!
Beauvalle (Greatly astonished).—And shall we stand by the side of a Bavarian prince? Is the order of the entire world falling to pieces? (Hears some one coming.) Quiet! (Looks toward the castle.) Who is with the magistrate?
(Enter Jordán with the magistrate.)
Beauvalle, Dejm, magistrate, Jordán
Magistrate (Introducing Jordán).—A representative from Jordán, from the highest council.
Jordán (Greeting Beauvalle).—Excuse my boldness, Count, in looking you up. I did not find you at the castle.
Beauvalle.—I must ask your pardon that my guests are obliged to seek me from home.
Jordán.—Count Millesimo brought news to the castle that you would be delayed here awhile. I had a matter so pressing that I could not await you longer at the castle. If this is a bold stroke, let not my person but the cause for which I labor make the excuse.
Beauvalle.—Surely it will be possible for me to fulfill your request, Mr. Court Commissioner.
Jordán.—I am fleeing from Prague.
Beauvalle.—It is surrounded, besieged.
Jordán.—Even worse (with emphasis) Prague has fallen!
Dejm.—Prague has fallen?
Beauvalle (With surprise).—What are you saying!
Jordán.—It fell yesterday.
Dejm.—Prague is then in the power of the Bavarians?
Jordán.—The Field Marshal of France with the Duke of Saxony struck at the gates of the city and captured it almost with one blow. The Saxons took the Staré Město (Old Town) under their general Rutkovský,—and today Prague is ruled by Charles Albert of Bavaria who calls himself Charles Albert.
Dejm (Joyfully).—He accomplished it easily! The rule of the queen is overturned. A new king in Bohemia!
Jordán (Surprised).—I hope, Count, that you are not going to applaud such news!
Beauvalle.—Surely, Mr. Court Commissioner, there is no need for you to be afraid. But your report is so overwhelming that one might become paralyzed with surprise.
Jordán.—It is overwhelming, Count. The forces of the empire did not combine,—and so today, where for two ages the Hapsburgs have ruled, Wittelsbach of Bavaria, has built his throne.
Beauvalle.—And so the entire state is lost!
Jordán.—Certainly not. But there will be a great struggle, and it will become necessary for everyone who does not wish to be called a rebel to fight with life and property for our overthrown queen and deserted ruler.
Dejm (Sarcastically).—It seems to me that first of all it is necessary for those who rule the country in her name to remain loyal to the queen, is it not so, Mr. Court Commissioner?
Jordán.—Yes, I think so, but—
Dejm.—Is that not happening?
Jordán (With suspicion and doubt).—You, my lords, know more than I supposed.
Dejm.—I am Count Charles Dejm, and I left Prague a week ago. So I surely know less than you do, Mr. Court Commissioner.
Jordán (With excuses).—Excuse me, Count. I am greatly agitated by these recent occurrences,—and to tell the truth, the loyal are but few.
Dejm.—What are you saying?
Jordán.—Almost all the officers of the country, the army officials, and most of the nobility of Bohemia have evidently fallen away from the Empress, and openly pledged their allegiance to the Bavarian.
Dejm.—So enormous is his power in Prague?
Jordán.—And it seems, Count, to extend throughout the entire empire. Most of those who have remained loyal seem to be turning toward Pilsen. Baron Schirnding is trying to stir up Pilsen against the Bavarian intruder.
Jordán.—It is so. (To Beauvalle) And without doubt, Count, you also will give your support to Her Majesty?
Beauvalle (Evasively).—Baron Schirnding, did you say, Mr. Court Commissioner?
Jordán.—Baron Schirnding. A brave and tenacious warrior.
Beauvalle (Still evasive).—Yes, of course. But you mentioned Mr. Court Commissioner, a matter in which I might be of service to you.
Jordán.—I have one request.
Beauvalle.—And that is?
Jordán.—My present horse will not endure a hard fast ride.
Beauvalle.—I will loan you another. But first take a breath at my castle.
Jordán.—I am in a great hurry, Count. I can only thank you for your extended hospitality.
Beauvalle.—We will take you away. (In the forest is heard a scream.) Count Dejm, is it your pleasure? (Invites them to depart. In the forest is heard the report of a gun. Then another scream. Beauvalle in the greatest excitement . . .) Who shot? Gamekeeper, the warden at home . . . (Excitedly) That the shot of a poacher . . . Gamekeeper, Warden!
Beauvalle, Dejm, Jordán, the gamekeeper, Havelka, coming out from the cottage. Marie, frightened, behind him.
Dejm (Pacifying Beauvalle).—Count, calm yourself!
Beauvalle (To the game warden, without listening to Dejm).—Who is in the park,—who is in the forest? No one went in from the castle! They must be poachers!
Havelka (With fear, yet firmly).—I will at once trail the poacher. Heaven pity him if I catch him today!
Beauvalle.—My gun, (the game warden runs for one.) I will go with you! He must not escape!
Dejm.—Calm yourself, Count, your blood is heated now! Do not lose control of yourself! (Game warden brings weapons.)
Beauvalle.—Excuse me, Count, and you, Mr. Court Commissioner, (taking a hasty leave of them)—there is need of swift and decisive action here. I beg you, go now to the castle and excuse me for a while. (To the warden) You go quickly along the road, (pointing to the right) and I will take the park road. You, (to the magistrate) come with me. We must get him, and heaven have mercy upon him!
(The warden goes as he is directed, Beauvalle and the magistrate disappear into the forest. Dejm with Jordán take the road to the castle.)
Marie (Who remained unnoticed).—Heaven protect him,—What if Tomeš fired that shot! (Wringing her hands, hastens into the wood.)
Castle, at the right, a sloping lawn before it, decorated with flower beds, a playing fountain in their midst. A garden in the rear. Forest to the right, a conspicuous tree at its edge. Garden tools, a bench and chains under the tree.
Tomeš and Lída at the edge of the forest.
Tomeš (To Lída, who holds his hand between both of her own, and gazes fearfully into the forest).—Do not be afraid. That wild boar will never trouble you again.
Lída (Excitedly).—You have killed it,—you have really shot it?
Tomeš.—It lies there cold and stiff by this time. I heard it tearing through the underbrush. I couldn’t help it,—I had to go after him. Then I heard you and your old father scream. And I jumped for my rife,—(in a whisper) I have two of them hidden in hollow logs in the wood, and I shot the boar just as he was ready to rush upon you.
Lída (Drops the hand of Tomeš, and steps back into the park).—Truly, you have killed him. He rushed after me, here, to the very edge of the park.
Tomeš.—But I was greatly alarmed when I heard your scream after my shot. I thought that in my haste I had accidentally shot you instead of the beast.
Lída (Gazing at Tomeš, is silent, then fixes her gaze upon the ground. She sighs deeply, then gazes at him with pained eyes).—And if your bullet had reached my heart,—yes, I would die with a smile upon my lips.
Tomeš (Laughing).—What nonsense! You would be glad if I had deprived you of your youth, your life? Lída, what are you saying?
Lída (Turns swiftly toward him).—Tomsi,—Tomsi,—(with deep feeling) from you I would welcome pain, anything,—yes, even death.
Tomeš (Looks intently at Lída, with his right hand removes his hat, and passes the left hand over his heated forehead. Then he approaches Lída, takes her by the hand as she draws closer to him and earnestly says to her).—Lída, my poor Lída, thrust me out of your heart and from your thoughts.
Lída (Wringing her hands with pain).—Tomsi, this blow is more painful to me than if your bullet had by chance reached me. (Sobbing) Tomsi, do not drive me away from you! Twice you have saved my life,—do not now drive me to a desperate death! (Marie steps out of the forest, and sees the two standing together.)
Tomeš, Lída, Marie
Tomeš.—Your protector I will gladly be, Lída, and always a friend, (taking both her hands) but more,—
Marie (Rushes swiftly toward them. Painfully).—And with her again,—there must be truth in what they say! (Tomeš and Lída step away from each other surprised.)
Tomeš (To Marie).—You here, Marie!
Marie.—Tomeš, it was unnecessary for you to lie to me!
Tomeš.—Have you heard one untruth from me?
Marie (Angrily).—I have,—a thousand of them,—for (pointing to Lída) here is Lída herself!
Tomeš.—And look at her, Marie, to see if joy is glowing in her cheeks.
Marie.-—t is evident that she is gloomy. I came here, I came (in tears) to find you. I wanted to warn you,—and I find you here with her!
Lída (Forgetting everything else).—He should save himself? they are following us, then?
Marie (Angrily to Lída).—You do not need to ask!
Lída (With rising enthusiasm).—Then you have doubts about Tomeš, you are not sure that he cares for you then?
Marie (Seizes Tomeš by the hand).—He belongs to me,—do not come near him! (Tomeš embraces Marie, pressing her head to his breast. Marie cries out, drawing away, as she sees Lída turn pale, and sobs aloud. Tomeš takes a step toward Lída.)
Lída.—Tomeš, I cannot thank you now for saving me from a violent death. You love her, (pointing to Marie) so go, save yourself now; they might come upon you any moment. If they should find me, and I were to tell the truth, it would go ill with you. But Tomeš, I am going to lie,—I will protect you,—if I lose my own life, if they hang me instead upon that scaffold . . . anyhow, why should I live? What have I to lose even though I sacrifice my life? . . . (Slowly walks away toward the castle, absorbed in her thoughts, her eyes fixed upon the ground.)
Tomeš (Starts after Lída).—Unfortunate child. (To Marie) See how unhappy she is!
Marie.—The cold chill crept over me while she was speaking. O Tomeš, I hurried so, to give you warning in time!
Tomeš.—Thank you, my Marie. But no one has seen me.
Marie.—But they are at your very heels,—and if they were to catch you,—Tomeš, you know the Count does not threaten in vain!
Tomeš.—Have no fear for me. I will go directly home. Nobody must say a word to me. And you go at once to your cottage so they will not suspect us! (He slips cautiously around the castle. Marie loses herself among the trees. Lída steps out from the direction of the castle.)
Lída (Half aloud to herself).—As though it were my fate,—I cannot give up the idea; I must follow him up! (Aloud wildly and painfully) And if I see him embrace her again, (with desperation) then Heaven shield them and help me! (Slips around the castle.)
(From the forest emerges Beauvalle with the game warden who has his gun over his shoulder while he carries the weapon of the Count in his hand.)
Beauvalle, game warden, then the Countess with Dejm, later Millesimo.
Beauvalle (Shortly).—He has escaped! Disappeared! We looked for him in vain. I will punish every one responsible for guarding my forest! (The Countess steps out from the castle with Dejm, with whom she is talking. Hearing Beauvalle, she stops to listen. Beauvalle to the game warden.) Go into the forest, find my park keeper. Tell him if he does not find that poacher he does not need to report for service again. (Havelka disappears into the forest.)
Countess (to Dejm).—Thank heaven, the poacher is not caught! (Goes with Dejm to Beauvalle, offering him both outstretched hands.) Why so violent, Count! I am delighted that you have so quickly returned!
Beauvalle.—I went through the forest, and searched carefully everywhere. Those accursed poachers are now so bold that they dare shoot at my very castle gates, and I can’t catch even one of them! (From the castle comes Millesimo.)
Millesimo (Laughing).—Count Beauvalle, Count Dejm, the Countess, lovely, gracious countess!
Beauvalle (Irritably).—Well, what has happened, Millesimo?
Millesimo (Laughing).—I escorted, His Highness, the Court Commissioner to his very equipage, his carriage, and now I am rewarded! Do you wish to know, Count, and you also, Countess, what that Jordán proposed to me, that cavalier of bunglers? Can you for a moment guess what he is trying to drag me into?
Countess.—Surely something interesting!
Millesimo.—Just try to imagine something very ridiculous, yes, extremely ridiculous, and then superlatively ridiculous,—that will be the creation of Jordán!
Countess.—Come, share the joke with us; do not keep us so long in suspense!
Millesimo.—That courtly Jordán,—no, I wish to say, Baron Schirnding,—heaven knows how the idea came to him,—wants to raise a landsturm, Reservists in Pilsen. That Jordán from the court told me! And do you know what he proposed? (Laughing) That I, Count Millesimo, should also join that landsturm and they will create of me,—Jordán and Schirnding,—a captain, an officer of the Reservists! (The Countess and Dejm join the laugh.)
Dejm.—And you have accepted? We must give you an official patent. Millesimo, Millesimo, you will yet become a great military genius!
Millesimo.—A General, Dejm, a general. Ogilvie is already despatched, Neipperg, Lobkovic and the Grand Duke Toskánsky are having a merry time of it, outvying each other in giving a wide berth to the enemy, and so it has finally fallen upon me to become a leader, a general! (General laughter greets his words) Excuse me. I must slip away somewhere, so I can forget about that buffoon, Jordan,—I know not, whether his remarkable idea will not deprive me of reason! Jordán, you Jordán! (With laughter, pausing now and then, he proceeds toward the castle.)
Dejm, the Countess, Beauvalle.
Dejm (Looking after Millesimo; sarcastically speaking).—Even among us there are heroes with a sense of duty. What an interesting struggle, with such live warriors!
Countess (Invites Dejm and Beauvalle to be seated).—Fate listens to those who act and are strong of soul. (To Beauvalle, half jesting, half seriously) I promised your name to Count Dejm, that you would align yourself with Charles Albert!
Beauvalle.—I hardly know but what you promise is a bit premature. I have been a mere onlooker, gazing at occurring events; I doubt whether I could, in the end, be anything else.
Dejm.—You must, Count, but you must! Now, today, every individual must come to some decision, and determine how he stands with regard to his country’s welfare. An onlooker, a mere witness of passing events, you no longer can continue to be! You are a citizen of this state; you must align yourself with one side or the other!
Beauvalle.—I know not whether I would be actuated by the same motives that seem to prompt others!
Dejm.—Aj, I do not know, indeed.
Beauvalle (Advancing).—You, my dear Dejm, you belong to the old nobility,—my family is settled here a little more than a century.
Dejm.—Yes, your family is settled here over a century, and yet you would not think and feel as any one of us do? We hold to the state, we represent a branch, a mighty order of the empire; we were raised here, and we must continue to represent the highest nobility of the country,—and one grave concern that the moment must decide is this,—whether in a year, or in a thousand years, this one or another order will be ruling here.
Beauvalle.—And who are the others,—those who wish to aid in the overthrow of the Empress?
Dejm.—There is a great number, half of the entire nobility!
Dejm.—Bechyně from Lazan, Cernin, Kolovrat, Count Bubna, both of the Lazanšti, Count Felix Vršovec, Martin Michna, Count Vrbna, Dohalský from Dohalic, the highest counsellors—
Beauvalle (Interrupting with a laugh).—So far, these represent old Bohemian families, native to the country. But you have not as yet mentioned one family which has, like mine, come in from foreign parts.
Dejm.—Aj, I will now come to one; Count Schaffgotsche—
Countess (to Beauvalle).—The highest burgrave.
Dejm.— . . . Counts Morzin, Mansfeld, Kuenburg, Poeting, General and War Commissioner, George, Count of Kaiserstein, Count Bouquoy—
Beauvalle (With surprise).—Count Bouquoy Longuevalle?
Dejm.—Yes, the descendant of Karl Bouquy, who, ages ago, overthrew the rule of the Bohemian king, Ferdinand. Even he is with us, for he knows that in the present condition of the state, there is nothing else to do!
Beauvalle.—Then what advantage do you think is to be gained, in this country which is trying to drive out the old dynasty, in power here for more than two centuries, and which overthrew the native house which ruled here before it?
Dejm.—And who represents the ruling dynasty? One woman, and a weak woman at that, who cannot hold the empire together or bring prosperity to the country which she rules. Marie Teresa holds the title of Empress handed down to her by Charles, but in truth she is only the Grand Duchess, Toskánskou.
Beauvalle.—Aj, not at all, not at all.
Dejm.—It is uncertain now, no one really knows,—Tomorrow may find her in that station.
Countess.—Marie Teresa cannot defend herself, and save a vestige of her inheritance.
Dejm.—And not the least power is this kingdom, in which four powers are now at war,—and in which we also exist. Or do you want to leave this country to the rapacity of a dozen princes, and should we not be seeking one such ruler who would be powerful enough to renew and hold the independence of this kingdom?
Beauvalle.—And do you think that Charles Albert is such a prince?
Dejm.—I am certain of it. For that reason we summoned him to Prague,—
Dejm.—We ourselves. We called him here to accept the throne of Bohemia. Charles Albert is fiery, and an enterprising hero. He will meet our expectations. He will establish a new state in central Europe. Bohemia will be at the head, and besides our country there will be Moravia, half of Silesia and Bavaria.
Countess (With spirit to Beauvalle).—Count, believe us, and permit yourself to be convinced. Marie Teresa will not be able to keep the autonomy of the state,—Charles Albert will restore our country to its former brilliant splendor, which it enjoyed under former reigns, while it was independent, were it under the house of the Přemyslovs, under the reign of the Lucembergs, or Hapsburg up to the reign of Matthias. Its greatest glory was witnessed by my house, and we shall see it again, newly restored. We shall step at the head of the group of surrounding countries. And as formerly, the entire German state was only her princely mantle, likewise it will now happen under Charles Albert. The German princes are offering him the power of Emperor. He will be announced and crowned as Emperor of our country, that subjected and fading kingdom,—it will again lead not only its sister countries but the entire German empire.
Beauvalle (To both).—And are you sure of your calculation?
Dejm.—I am certain of it.
Beauvalle (Warningly).—Have you then forgotten how the revolution ended a hundred and twenty years ago? (Dejm denying with gestures.) Have you forgotten about the nobles done to their death in Staré Město (Old Town) and the thousands of families exiled from country and home?
Dejm.—You cannot frighten me now. At that time, one great mistake undermined all that was undertaken.
Beauvalle.—What do you mean?
Dejm.—The nobility forgot that it had but little power without the support of the people,—and for that reason, it fell.
Beauvalle.—You would appeal to the people in vain. They have no soul, no courage, and no knowledge. What would you do with the hordes,—not a soul among them would dare stand out against the meanest of my serfs! How can you expect these people to risk themselves for something strange, unknown to them? (He rises; Dejm with the Countess at the same time.)
Dejm.—We are arriving at a new era. All over the country, the people are awaking, stirred to new life. They are beginning to have a clearer and truer vision, new strength is springing up among them, as the earth stirs up, feeling the first pulse of spring.
Beauvalle.—I fail to see the signs. I do not know why you have such faith in the people, or take up the cudgel in their defense so suddenly.
Dejm.—We cannot see our dream realized unless we ourselves are willing to help uplift the people; otherwise the independence of our country will never be gained. We must first lift the people out of this crushing bondage, which I believe is distasteful even to you. That is why I am drawing closer to the masses; we must look to them for strength and support.
Beauvalle.—Vain ideals, vain indeed are your dreams. Count Dejm, they regard me as a stern, rigid man, who desires only to oppress and drive them. Heaven knows, I am what I appear to be because I see only the slavish soul, the unwilling spirit. I do not believe it could change. Here are twenty villages. But in all of them there is not to be found one man of spirit, brave, courageous, and independent. They all glide away at the very sight of me. At home, under cover they may heap abuse and curses upon me, but not one dares come out and openly express himself to my face. What can you expect of such as these.
Dejm.—Do not judge them, Beauvalle, or deny unjustly that they have spirit and courage because for the moment you have failed to see it. Stop to consider that for a hundred and twenty years these people have been serfs, and before that period, war was waged among them for thirty years,—war whose iron hoof turned not only the tide of fortune and events, but crushed all hope, all spirit among the people. And this unwilling subjection, this rebellious state of bondage had to end in that which the terror of war, of the fallen state begun.
Beauvalle.—Let there be what cause for it you may find, I still must judge according to what I see. (With emphasis) Show me one man in all my estate who still displays a manly and courageous bearing, a spirit such as I vainly look for here,—and I shall think otherwise of these subjected people.
Dejm (With spirit).—We will convince and show you that you are mistaken about these people, that a new spirit may yet be breathed into them; we will show you what can be done for them if the helpful hand of fellowship be extended to them in the right spirit. We must lead the people, stir up their latent strength, adapt them for the purpose we have in view, and draw them on, weapons in hand, to accomplish that which will be of advantage to our entire kingdom.
Beauvalle (Overcome).—You then are plotting and planning a Revolution that would sweep the country, you want to place the armed people side by side with the Bavarian and French troops?
Dejm.—That is the situation. Each of us will equip and arm as many of his people as he is able.
Beauvalle.—I have none at your service.
Dejm.—We expect two hundred people from your estate. In a week’s time, your serfs should be equipped for Prague. (At the castle loud voices are heard.)
Beauvalle.—I think you will yet see the seriousness of this! But what is this uproar?
(Enter a troop of country folk, men and women, lead by Tomeš. Among them are Jírak, Vrána, and the bagpiper Kořinek.)
Beauvalle, Countess, Dejm, Tomeš, Jírak, Vrána, Kořinek, later Count Václav with Bubna.
Beauvalle (Surprised).—Why are you coming here? (To Tomeš) What are you leading them to?
Tomeš (With emphasis, but courteously).—You commanded me, noble count, to stop at the castle. I have come.
The Crowd.—We with him, we are with him!
Beauvalle.—What is the meaning of all this?
Jírak (Stepping out).—Your Grace, we are working in bondage many more hours than we need to do. We are willing to be your serfs even longer, but Tomeš we will not give up.
The Crowd.—We will not, we shall not.
Beauvalle.—What has gotten into these people? Who started this?
Tomeš.—They have heard that something terrible threatens me, because I stood by Vrána. So they came to give me their support.
Jírak.—And we are willing to give good service and be as much alive as before, but (with threats and the following words) we beg of you, most earnestly do we beseech you, that we should no longer be oppressed, neither that violence should be done to any one of us. (Dejm steps up to Beauvalle and talks earnestly with him and the Countess.)
Kořinek (Half aloud to the people).—Do not give up! The French and Bavarians everywhere are protecting the enslaved people, and it is reported they have come to bring us freedom. Serfdom and bondage must go with the old order!
Beauvalle (Will not relent to Dejm who is trying to persuade him to something. To the people) To this act of yours, the magistrate and the people from the castle will answer.
The crowd.—Not now, not now.
Beauvalle (To Tomeš),—You will stay here to await the penalty.
The crowd (Surging forward).—He shall not stay. We will not let him stay!
The Countess (Aside to the Count).—Forgive them! It is an insignificant thing.
Dejm.—This is an inopportune time for violence. You have no protection here anywhere, and we are now in need of them.
Tomeš (Stepping forward).—You have the power, Count, to do whatever you will. But all these are loyal to me. If you would carry out your threat even I cannot now hold them back.
Beauvalle.—You talk exactly like a rebel.
Tomeš.—Like one who would shield himself and others also.
Dejm (Aside to Beauvalle).—Listen, Count, I beg you!
(Enters Count Bubna in the costume of a messenger.)
Bubna.—Count Beauvalle! (Sees the Countess and Dejm, greatly surprised. Introduces himself to Beauvalle.) I come as a courier from the king.
Beauvalle (Surprised).—From King Charles? (Dejm speaks to Bubna.)
Tomeš (To Beauvalle).—Count, then I do not need to come again to the castle?
Dejm (Quickly to Beauvalle).—Dismiss him and the people. Count Bubna has important tidings.
Beauvalle (To Tomeš and the people).—This time I again forgive you. But see to it that a similar occurrence does not happen again. (Turns to Bubna.)
The crowd (Shouts).—Aha! Tomeš has been released!
Vrána (To the others).—Nothing will happen to him.
Voices (In the rear).—The Count let him go! (They depart with shouts of delight.)
Voices (Behind the scene).—He is released! (All the country people depart.)
Dejm, the Countess, Bubna, Beauvalle, later Jan, the game keeper at the castle.
Beauvalle (Stamps with anger, hearing the shouts of the people)—I gave in to them? Are they laughing at me?
Countess (Calming him).—No, no, do not take their joy amiss. (Reminding him) Count Bubna is here!
Beauvalle (Collecting his thoughts).—Yes, yes. (Still angrily to Bubnov.) Sent to me, with instructions?
Bubna.—Not with instructions,—only an announcement. Our accepted king desires to see you, Count, and bid me tell you to appear before him. He firmly believes that you will not ignore his request.
Beauvalle (Frightened).—His bidding! And he is not yet the king!
Bubna (With a clear, calm voice).—Yesterday he was announced, in all the Bohemian cities, as the Bohemian king, and the future ruler of these Roman states.
Dejm.—The fulfillment of our hopes!
Beauvalle.—And who has recognized and accepted him?
Bubna.—Four hundred nobles, led by the prince archbishop Arnoštem Moricem of Manderscheida, did homage to him in Prague. All the others are summoned to his court, and expected within a week to make their appearance.
Beauvalle.—And if they should refuse to appear?
Bubna.—Then they will not be considered friends and loyal adherents of the king and state.
Beauvalle.—But as enemies,—I understand, I understand. Even the new king does not fail to begin his reign with threats. But who will assure me that the new ruler will last longer than the winter king, Frederick did?
Bubna.—The assurance is given by these states newly united under Charles.
Beauvalle.—But the proximity to Pilsen. Do you expect allegiance from those near Pilsen, under Baron Schirndingen? And my estate. . . .
Dejm.—Have no fear. The power of Schirndingen and his adherents will be scattered and broken, as when the wind blows into a heap of dry chaff.
Beauvalle (Greatly incensed).—Count Dejm, and you, Count Bubno, is no exception made of those who do not feel prepared for this step?
Dejm.—There is no exception made, and really none should be necessary. You are the Count Beauvalle Lichtenberk, of two great states, in France and in Germany your family name is well known and more than once proclaimed,—you have no need to be afraid of this decision.
Countess (To Beauvalle).—Count, you must take your stand for the united powers. I announce myself a subject of the new ruler, and am certain that Count Beauvalle Lichtenberk will do the same!
Dejm.—I thank you, noble lady!
Bubna (Stepping up to the Count).—And you Count?
Beauvalle.—I now see there is no other course for me to take.
Dejm (Advancing from the other side).—You are with us?
Beauvalle.-I am called upon to make a great decision, to make it hastily; a decision which must affect the entire future of my house. But I must not rest under the shadow of failing to give my allegiance to those who are striving to fortify the country for its united strength for the future. (To Dejm) Accept then, my word and that of my wife, that we have taken our stand with the new king, which our order has summoned into the country.
Bubna.—Then you are ours, and the king may announce your allegiance!
Dejm (Pressing the hand of Beauvalle).—I knew you would finally come to this decision, and was not discouraged by your excuses.
Bubna.—And now the support he needs! The king expects you, all the other nobles, to summon your serfs and equip your people for military action!
Beauvalle.—Do not make this demand,—spare me this one thing!
|Dejm||It is inevitable!|
Countess (Aside to the Count).—You had better consent to do it.
Beauvalle (To Dejm and BUBNOV with emphasis).—Then I shall prepare and equip two hundred people. You may announce it to your king.
Bubna.—And lead them yourself?
Beauvalle.—That is asking too much. I will not consent to such a demand.
Bubna.—Then at least give them a leader!
Beauvalle.—But where shall I find one?
Dejm (Nods his head as a new thought comes to him).—You have one here, at hand now!
Beauvalle.—Whom have you in mind?
Dejm.—The youth who was just now here.
Countess.—But I cannot spare him!
Beauvalle.—Why? (The game keeper, Jan appears at the castle.)
Countess.—It might spoil the future happiness of his life and that of another.
Beauvalle.—Pah! This is a time when I must forget my own good fortune and happiness; I cannot now consider the interests of another. Excuse me, Countess. (Sees Jan.) Here, Jan! Go at once to find Vitka Tomeš, and bring him here to me!
Countess (To Jan).—Stop! (To Beauvalle) And suppose he were to be afraid to appear here?
Beauvalle (To Jan).—Tell him he need not be afraid to come. I have a matter to propose to him. (Jan departs. To Dejm) That was a happy suggestion. I, at the same time, will rid myself of a man who is getting to be a thorn in the flesh here.
(At the edge of the park appears Havelka with the park keeper. Havelka gazes seriously once more at the dead beast, then turns to Beauvalle.)
Havelka, park keeper, Countess, Beauvalle, Dejm, Bubna, later Tomeš, Lída.
Havelka (Drops on one knee before the Count).—Your Grace, I beg you, do not drive me away!
Bubna.—What has happened?
Beauvalle.—What news do you bring?
Havelka.—I found a dead beast!
Beauvalle (Angrily).—A dead animal?
Havelka.—One of those two wild boars has been shot!
Havelka.—It lies here, near by,—it managed to get this far. (He points to the forest. Beauvalle hastens there. All gaze after them.)
Beauvalle.—Shot,—that animal has been shot! Do you know who killed it? Tell me, if you do not wish me to hold you responsible.
Havelka.—I do not know for a certainty. I have a suspicion.
Beauvalle.—Who was it?
Havelka.—I will tell, I must protect myself. I saw a man hurrying from the park soon after the shot was fired, though I could not catch up with him. He might have fired that shot.
Beauvalle.—VWho was he?
Havelka.—Tomeš,—more I do not know.
Beauvalle.—Tomeš? Oh, I shall punish him, I shall punish him as no one yet has been punished.
Countess (Frightened).—You promised him your protection! (From the castle steps Tomeš, behind him, unnoticed comes Lída.)
Beauvalle (Sees Tomeš).—That is he! Seize him!
(Park keeper seizes rifle, and rushes after Tomeš. Havelka does the same. Lída, with a scream rushes upon Havelka, throws herself at him, and seizes the weapon. Tomeš wrenches away the rifle from the park keeper pushes him away, leaps to the tree, and aims at the Count.)
Tomeš (Calls out mockingly).—Easy, go easy, I am still here.
Beauvalle.—But you shall not escape. (Goes toward Tomeš.)
Tomeš.—Back, back Count, I never miss my aim.
Beauvalle.—And if I insist on coming?
Tomeš.—Then you will surely be a dead man. (Countess holds back the Count.)
Beauvalle.—And then you will surely die!
Tomeš.—If I die, you shall also!
Countess.—You had promised him your protection!
Dejm.—That is a courageous boy. (To Beauvalle) Keep your word, Count!
Bubna.—Him and yourself save also!
Beauvalle (Gazing intently at Tomeš).—By my faith, that is a brave lad! I forgive him! (Tomeš drops his weapon.) I summon you to nobler deeds!
A room in the castle of Beauvalle; a window to the right; door to the left; to the rear, three high doors. To the left, a table with chairs, screen, arm chair.
(Dejm Sitting at the table beside Tomeš, with a rifle in hand).—You now know, what is up. The Count wishes to place you at the head of all the armed forces from his estate, and if necessary, you are to lead them into action. Can you do it?
Tomeš.—You paint in alluring colors, Count, and your speech makes the red blood course faster through the veins. But,—(looks sharply at the Count and falls into silence.)
Dejm.—You cannot, or dare not,—or are you afraid?
Dejm.—Then why reject honor, recognition, reward? What is holding you back?
Tomeš (With a laugh, looks intently at the Count).—Your insincerity, noble Count.
Djem (With wonder).—My insincerity? Do you mean that I am not sincere in what I say,—I, Count Dejm?
Tomeš.—You are concealing something from me!
Dejm.—I do not understand. I told you everything.
Tomeš.—Yes, enough,—(With emphasis) but you did not tell me who is to have the greatest reward from the struggle. You did not tell me what advantage will be gained by the nobles who drive us into this, the authorities above us who want to equip us for this conflict,—
Dejm (Laughing, and guessing what is in the mind of Tomeš).—Aj, faithless son of the village! The Counts and nobles will only gain such advantage as will be acquired by all the people and shared by all the states of the empire.
Tomeš (Noticing the Countess; unbelievingly).—And still they would rush into it?
Dejm (With fire).—Our country is in danger, our country which is theirs as much as yours. They would make it independent, elevate, beautify the land.
Tomeš.—And that is why they turn to us, because they would have us serve as volunteers?
Dejm.—How could it be otherwise? Do you want the country to belong exclusively to us, the official class, you, tens of thousands of you who have been born here, who live here, who will be buried here? Have you not the same right to the land, and the same duties as we?
Tomeš (Denying his words with a wave of his hand. With anger).—Yes, Count, we have the same right, the same privileges as you; that is, we ought to have them. I know it; I have felt in my blood. Ours the country is, it has been. And when we recognize the fact that it is really in danger, we will gladly give our lives in its defense if necessary.
Dejm.—Well, then how is one to interpret your words? What is holding you back?
Tomes.—We can not, we do not believe in the aristocracy! (Dejm stirs uneasily) When have we recognized friendship, good fellowship toward us among them? When have we ever heard from them, such words as I now listen to from you, Count?
Dejm.—There was no opportunity, no occasion for it.
Tomeš.—But there was. Were there not a thousand other occasions as important as the present? And so long you held us off at a distance, and kept us out of your confidence. That Count of ours . . . and now for him we are supposed to go to battle, to risk our very lives?
Dejm.—Not for him or any other one individual. We, all together, and first of all, you, should consider that you are fighting for yourselves.
Tomeš (Stirs with gleaming eye).—For ourselves! O Count, it will come, it will happen, that we will arise to fight for our rights and protect ourselves. But at that time, we will not be with you. Then we will go forth to the scene of conflict, go forth to die (Dejm listens with growing attention.) but by ourselves, for ourselves alone. Even though as yet we are subjected people, only weak, helpless cattle, that dumbly endure, or fall under the burden of their yoke! But there will come an hour, and when we arise, who can stem the stream, who will try to stand against us!
Dejm.—By my faith, youth, you have a courageous spirit such as is indeed seldom found. Listen, you have the mistaken idea that the nobility will not play fairly with you, that we want your support for our advantage alone. Listen then, you subjected people will gain more by this struggle than we, for you will gain that liberty for which you have so far longed!
Tomeš (Silent, then coolly).—Do you want to tell me a fairy tale, or build castles in the air?
Dejm.—But I am telling you the truth. Before many days have passed, the new king will issue a command which will lift you all out of bondage.
Tomeš (Astonished).—The new king!
Dejm.—The new king we have chosen will do so. Those French and Bavarian regiments which have arrived,—they have come to free you, to give liberty to the subjected people.
Tomeš (In doubt).—That is not possible, that cannot be!
Dejm.—Is deception speaking from me?
Tomeš.—The nobility will never permit it!
Dejm.—The freeing of the people is the first step planned. Proper amends will be made to the nobility for the loss of their service, and you will find yourselves freed men!
Tomeš (With uncertainty).—But that sounds like a bait,—a bait to catch us so we would arise and go after you to battle!
Dejm.—You must have faith in others if you would that others have faith in you! In a few days the order will come from the king to have all servitude cancelled, done away, and freedom will be granted to all who will rally around the cause of Charles Albert! Help the cause of freedom, you, all of your people,—fight for this freedom with your lives, your blood!
Tomeš (Convinced, joyfully).—I believe, Count, that I can indeed have faith in you. I believe you indeed! Just point the way, show me where to go, where to lead our people, and they will follow! Be now the helper of these enslaved serfs, and be assured, the freedmen will lead you, your cause, the entire country to victory!
Dejm.—I believe in that victory ultimately, (Takes Tomeš by the hand) for in your eye I see enthusiasm for the cause, I believe the people will share the same burning joy when they see liberty and freedom before them. Step out from this environment in which you have been raised, out of these woods and wild fields, appear now upon the scene of action, be a warrior for yourself and your people. In the same rank and file, we will all fight together! (In the door appears the Countess with Beauvalle) We will all risk our lives for the same cause!
Countess, Beauvalle, Dejm, Tomeš
Countess (Steps anxiously to the front).—Is it all decided? (To Tomeš) Do you wish to lead our people to Prague?
Tomeš.—I will lead them, gladly will I lead them! (To Beauvalle) Count, (pointing to Dejm) you have invited me to this enterprise, and I will gladly do as you bid me.
Beauvalle.—I wish it so. (Gives him his hand. Dejm speaks to the Countess.)
Tomeš (Taking the hand of the Count).—Just this morning we were opposed to each other, Count, ready to sacrifice our very lives in mutual hatred. We have come to understand each other better now, and I trust that the thorn in the flesh which worried us has disappeared. You are drawing closer to us now, to your people, and be assured, Count, that I shall gladly go to war for you if it seems best.
Countess (Stepping from Dejm to Tomeš).—You have made your decision. But have you, in the excitement of the moment, thought that it will be necessary to leave some one behind, have you thought about the game keeper’s lodge, and your own little cottage?
Tomeš (Overcome with surprise, retreats a step, and whispers).—Marie! And my mother! I have not forgotten them!
Beauvalle (Irritably).—Countess, why are you trying to undermine his courage, his decision?
Countess.—So he would remain firm, if he intends to go, and not give up at the first longing to see those he must leave behind.
Tomeš (To Beauvalle, with a firm voice).—Have no fear, Count, I shall not turn my back upon the enterprise I once enlist for. (To the Countess) You will remain here, noble lady, and while you are here, I can go away contented. Accept them both into your protection, both Marie and my aged mother. If I but know will do this,—
Countess.—They are now, and will remain under my care all the while you are away from them.
Tomeš (Kneeling to kiss the hand of the Countess).—Oh I thank you, my Countess, you have always been so kind to us. (The Countess raises him by the hand he kissed.)
Dejm (To Tomeš).—Are you certain, then, that the people will go with you?
Beauvalle.—We can determine that easily enough. There below, a crowd has gathered, (to Tomeš) evidently afraid for you. They have already heard the news. Go to them, and ask them if they are now willing to follow you.
Tomeš (With spirit),—They are not in my power! But in their hearts as well as in my own there is that spark which may be yet kindled,—the spark that burns in their liberty-loving souls! With me they will go to war! (Goes to the right.)
Dejm (Looking after Tomeš).—There is a heroic spirit asleep in the soul of that youth. (To Beauvalle) A people that breeds such sons deserves your faith, Count!
(From the left Millesimo appears panic-stricken, propping himself for support against a table.)
Beauvalle, Countess, Dejm, Millesimo
Millesimo (Breathlessly comical).—What in heaven’s name is happening here? Below shouts and an uproar,—something about Prague,—about the Bavarians,—that they might be induced to go with them! Dejm, (Dejm with the Countess advances to the window,) Count Beauvalle, listen to me, what is it all about? (Seats himself in a chair at the side of the table).
Beauvalle. Do not get so frightened,—there is no occasion for you to worry!
Millesimo (Pacified for the moment) I think so, myself. (Wiping the sweat from his forehead) I would not go anywhere, either to the support of the French or the Landsturmers!
Voices (Under the window).—We will go with you, we will follow!
Countess (At the window).—They are declaring themselves, and he scarcely spoke a word to them!
Beauvalle.—There was no doubt.
Millesimo (Again uneasily).—And to what, to what cause are they declaring themselves?
Beauvalle.—We will know in a moment. (Looking out of the window) Just see, how many there are!
Millesimo.—Many, very many. And they hum and roar,—I have been almost overcome by it. (Tomeš steps out. The people behind him) What is it, why am I here?
Beauvalle, Countess, Dejm, Millesimo, Tomeš, people, Lída in their midst, Jírak, Vrána. Later Marie, Havelka, Jan.
Jírak (Advancing with Tomeš to Beauvalle).—Your Grace, if it is true that we are to go for a time to war, with Tomeš as our leader, gladly, then gladly indeed will we go. Just arm us; let us have the arms!
People.—Arms, arms, we have no arms!
Other Voices (Simultaneously).—We will all go!
Tomeš.—And such as these, noble lady, be assured that others may be secured, as many as we need. Speak to them, Count, let them know what you desire!
(Countess speaks to Dejm, ;;then disappears by the door at the left.;;)
Beauvalle (To the people).—In place of myself, your Tomeš Vitek shall lead you. Do you wish to follow him?
People.—We do, we do!
Beauvalle.—Will you go wherever he sees fit to lead you?
Tomes.—Even into war, into action?
People.—Even into war. Gladly will we follow!
(Countess returns with a long red banner.)
Beauvalle.—Then I announce Tomeš Vitek as your leader and captain; and expect heroic deeds under his leadership. He will lead us all to victory.
People.—Long live the Count!
Other Voices.—Long live Tomeš!
Beauvalle.—Tomorrow you must be ready to go. The arms will be given you from my armory and hunting lodge. Whoever has one of his own, take it along.
Voices.—Let us arm ourselves! (Three men leave for the arms.)
Countess (Coming to the front).—Your leader should have some sign or insignia of his office. This banner, Vitku, comes from my hands. (Tomeš kneels while the Countess passes it across his breast.) By accepting it, you raise yourself to the high office which you take upon yourself. Always bear in mind the protection, of this, your native land, the land of your your fathers.Be ready to give life for it,—be proud of the cause for which you are taking up arms!
People (Joyfully waving hats and caps).—Long live the noble Countess!
Other Voices.—Long live the Countess!
Tomeš (To the Countess) (Kissing her hand).—I must not and will not disappoint you. When I return, you shall hear, noble lady, that I have kept my promise.
Beauvalle (Handing him a saber).—With this saber accept yet a poinard, so you will be completely equipped.
Tomeš (Gazes at the poinard).—This slight weapon is not suitable for me. I could not even use it. The rifle is my weapon and with it, I go forth to battle. While I am alive its voice (points to the rifle) will be heard in battle, leading forth our people. I am a poacher, I have always been a poacher, and with my chosen weapon I will now go to war!
Beauvalle (Laughing).—You do not deny your blood. Well then, fight, conquer with your rifle!
Countess.—But from me, you will surely accept something else?
Tomeš.—Noble lady, I am burdened already with your good gifts.
(Countess steps to the door at the left, quickly opens it. Marie steps forth in a beautiful gown, Havelka with her.)
Beauvalle (Waving a hand toward Marie).—Look here!
Tomeš (Overcome).—Marie, my Marie!
(All gaze at Marie. Countess waves the people back.)
Millesimo.—Ha, how beautiful!
(People whisper Marie!)
(Tomeš steps toward her as though he wishes to say something.)
Countess (Holding him back).—She knows all. At first she was drowned in tears. But the veil of sorrow has been rent by the pride she feels in knowing she is to belong to one who will make himself glorious in such a cause. With her father’s consent, she will promise you, you give your promise also, that you will remain faithful to each other
Tomeš (Puts aside his rifle, and steps toward Marie).—My Marie, I am now, I shall eternally be your faithful Tomeš.
(Lída, ;;who made her way forward through the crowd, gazes sadly at them.)
Marie.—I am yours, I wish to be forever yours!
(Lída, whirls dizzily about and falls. People carry her away, following after her.)
Marie (Frantically seizing Tomeš)—It is Lída! That is an evil sign, Tomeš!
Tomeš (Controlling himself).—A pity! Who is to blame for the unfortunate child!
Beauvalle.—What has happened?
Dejm.—What is this? Who is the girl?
Countess (In ignorance of what has occurred).—What is this disturbance?
Millesimo.—A Woodland romance this! At the castle . . .
Tomeš (To the Countess).—I will explain all!
(In the courtyard is heard the rattle of arms.)
Beauvalle (Overcome).—Troops! (At the window) Troops of the Empress!
People.—The dragoons! The dragoons of the Empress!
Beauvalle.—Six riders,—one leader in charge!
Tomeš (Seizes his rifle.)
Dejm (Gazes out surprised).—It is Baron Schirnding! At this very moment!
Beauvalle.—What are you saying?
Countess (Frightened).—Baron Schirnding,—here!
Dejm.—He is asking questions,—coming forward. (Dejm to Beauvalle, gaining self control.) Do not give up!
Countess (To Marie).—Go away for a few minutes. (Havelka with Marie leave by the door at the left.) It surely is nothing serious! But if necessary,—other troops will be coming,—we must instantly arm all our people! (To Dejm) Here is the key to the armory. Go with Vitek, give out the arms! (Dejm and Tomeš go after the people.)
Millesimo.—This is dreadful! This is terrible!
Jan (Making room among the crowded people).—Step back! (Announces) Baron Schirnding, newly arrived from Pilsen!
(From the rear approaches Baron Schirnding, a haughty military figure with white hair and beard.)
Beauvalle, Schirnding, Countess, Millesimo; later Tomeš with the people.
(Beauvalle overcome, leans against the table.)
Schirnding (Steps forward, greets the Countess).—Pardon, I beg you, in these disturbed days, my unexpected appearance!
Countess.—To our guests and (pointedly) our friends, our home is always open!
Schirndirg (Not getting the meaning of her words).—The Count your husband, is he not also here? (Beauvalle approaches toward him.) Here in his own person! For an instant I failed to see you. (Shakes hands with Beauvalle.)
Beauvalle (Carefully).—I have heard that you took possession of Pilsen?
Schirnding.—It was a great undertaking, in which, Count, I greatly desire your assistance.
Beauvalle (Coldly).—And how could I assist you?
Schirnding.—I came to request that, which to my great joy I see that you have already done. (Tomeš leads the armed people to whom Schirnding points. Beauvalle stirs uneasily.) You have already gathered together your people and armed them!
Beauvalle.—That is so,—but,—
Schirnding.—Yes, the forces of the empire are yet far distant. Take your people to Pilsen. (With emphasis) In fourteen days I will assemble there the kernel of the Reservists! Our regiments will soon be prepared to go against the French and Bavarians, and surely they will scatter them! We will scatter the last of their troops from Pilsen! (Sees Tomeš) You, brave youth, will you lead forth the armed people? (Points to them.)
Tomeš (Advances nearer).—That is the case, Colonel, and we firmly believe that victory will be ours! (Shouts as he waves his hat) Long live His Highness, our Bohemian king!
People (Shout).—Long live the king!
Schirnding (Overcome with astonishment).—Traitors to the country and to the Empress!
Tomeš.—Traitors are those who refuse to recognize our king! Colonel, (stepping toward him) you are ours!
Schirnding (Overcome).—Are you all bereft of reason, or am I the victim of a plot?
Beauvalle (Angrily to the Countess).—I dare not relent!
Countess.—Leave him alone! He has made his decision!
Beauvalle (To Tomeš).—Wait! What are you doing?
Schirnding.—Count Beauvalle, where am I? What madness is this?
(Countess hurries toward Tomeš.)
Beauvalle (To the people).—Retreat! (To Tomeš) Not a hand must be raised! (To Schirnding) Forgive the people. They know not,—what they are now doing,—
Countess (Advancing from Tomeš to Schirnding).—We accepted you as a guest, and as such we must protect you. But do not delay, colonel, longer here. We ourselves do not know how long we can keep our pledge to protect you.
Schirnding.—Then it is true,—you and the Count here,—you are both on the side of the Bavarian intruder! (Threateningly). In Pilsen are the troops of the Empress, and from Pilsen we can make a rapid march here!
Tomeš.—And if it seems necessary, we will appear in Pilsen itself!
Schirnding (To Beauvalle).—Stay with us, I advise you! The daughter of Charles is going to conquer. You will not only lose your castle and estates but your very life!
Tomeš.—You had better leave now, Colonel, if you expect us to consider the pledge given you by the Countess! I am now leading these people; if it seems best, my command will be obeyed!
Schirnding.—I can easily protect myself and rid the count of you! (Draws his sword, the Countess screams, Tomeš wrenches the sword away and aims his rifle at Schirnding.)
Tomeš.—And who can now save your life!
Countess (With stern voice.—I can still! (To Schirnding.) Go, go now! I can no longer assure you protection!
Schirnding (Frightened).—I go, noble countess, and express first my gratitude for your gracious protection! But those days which are coming upon you and your castle, Beauvalle, those evil days I cannot ward off! (Disappears. People follow after him.)
Beauvalle, Countess, Tomeš, Millesimo, later Dejm and the people, then the magistrate.
Beauvalle.—He must not leave! (Starts after Schirnding. Countess holds him.)
Countess.—What are you thinking of?
Beauvalle.—I must speak with Schirnding!
Tomeš.—Count, do not be frightened by his threats! He has not the power to carry them out!
(Countess and Tomeš talk to Beauvalle who is angrily waving them away.)
Millesimo.—I must not, I dare not stay here longer! I will go,—to Budejovic and further,—where there are no troops, no struggle, no bloodshed! I will not stay here! (Slips off unnoticed)
Tomeš (To Beauvalle).—Count, be calm! We can gather together between four and five hundred people! I will equip them, and furthermore the Bavarians will arrive sooner than the troops from Pilsen can get here!
Beauvalle (Excitedly).—And who will protect me, if the Bavarians fail to arrive in time? What can you do, you country people, against the trained forces of the Empire? And to lose my title,—my estates, my very life,—Count Dejm (angrily) where is Dejm? (Enters Dejm with a letter in hand) Count Dejm, have you heard the colonel?
Dejm.—I was not present. But here is a message from Bechyn of Lazan. It came suddenly. The command must be instantly fulfilled.
|Beauvalle||What does he ask?|
Dejm.—The forces of the Empire have been greatly increased by the adherence of Hungary and Croatia. So we must send to Prague, as quickly as possible, all the people we can equip here!
Tomeš (Excitedly).—We will pull out no later than tomorrow noon! The people are armed, they only need to get ready, (goes to the window to wave to the people.)
Beauvalle.—My own people are to go away and leave me, unarmed, alone, a traitor to the Empress! It must not be! (To Tomeš) You shall not go one step,—and these people must be instantly disarmed!
Dejm (Overcome but firm).—Count Beauvalle, you do not really mean what you are saying?
Tomeš (With decision).—What a command! But I cannot, I will not obey it!
Beauvalle (To Tomeš).—I command and warn you! Your head is my security!
Tomeš.—With my head, my life at stake, I promise you to fulfill and accomplish that which I undertake to do! I have the people, I have the arms, I have my life and shall have it in my own keeping!
Beauvalle.—I will not stand by the Bavarian! I was frightened, overcome with apprehensions!
Tomeš.—Then I must take everything upon myself, upon my own responsibility! If you are afraid for your life, your estates, then step aside! You will be secure, spare yourself any possible punishment, and I will risk my own life instead!
(The people crowd toward them.)
Beauvalle.—I will not give in! (Seeing the people) What do these people want? (Calls) Put away your arms! Instantly disarm! (Uproar among the people.)
Tomeš.—You are without the power, Count, to give such command now! I with these people will go forth into the field of action, and nothing can prevent us!
Beauvalle.—I still am the master here. (To the people) Disarm Tomeš at once!
People (Six men leap to the side of Tomeš to protect him).—Shield him!
Tomes (Ironically to the Count).—This is your power! (To the people) The Count forbids us to leave for Prague, to join the ranks of the new king who would give us our freedom. I am going forth. Who will voluntarily join me?
The Poeple.—All of us! To Prague! To Prague! Down with serfdom!
Beauvalle (To himself).—And if serfdom is abolished, I could no longer be master over my own people!
Tomeš (To Beauvalle).—No one can hold us longer in subjection. From the very grave we have risen again, and if we wish to live once more, we must earn our freedom by fighting for it. (To the people) For the present the field at Vrána’s must be our camp! As soon as all the brothers have assembled, we will start for Prague!
Beauvalle (Seats himself hurriedly at the table. Takes up a pen and begins to write. Talks to himself).—I can prevent it yet. Pilsen is yet here, baron Schirnding, and the troops of the Empress! (Calls) Magistrate! (Magistrate answers.) The couriers are to take their horse this instant, and follow up Schirnding with this message! I ask for troops! I will suppress this rebellion in its very birth!
Tomeš (To the people).—Seize the couriers, and whoever would try to break our lines, and go to Pilsen, will pay with his life for the deed! And if Baron Schirnding attempts to return here, we will, with the support of the Bavarians, welcome him with fire and blood! Forward, brothers, forward! The fall of serfdom is at hand! The sun of liberty is rising, and by our struggle we will welcome its warming rays!
People.—To battle— Forward, to battle!
(Beauvalle steps forward as though to hold back Tomeš. The Countess and Dejm step toward him.)
Forest. Cliffs in the rear. A cross, nailed to a tree, at the left of the road.
Tomeš, Jírak, Vrána, later Dejm, crowd of armed serfs, Kořinek.
Tomeš stands on a cliff gazing into the forest toward the right. In front to the right, Vrána, rifle suspended on his arm, to the left Jírak, rifle on shoulder.)
Tomeš (To Vrána).—Go quickly to the guards on the edge of the forest! Let some one find out without loss of time, whether the soldiers of Schirnding are now in the castle, or whether they will come!
Vrána.—Stepánek will do that very well! If my feet were only lighter, I would go myself! (Goes to the right) I can more readily break the helmets of a few dragoons!
Jírak (To Tomeš).—We caught a number of those couriers,—and still one of them must have escaped us!
Tomeš.—I doubt whether one escaped us. Schirnding did not even wait to be invited by the Count to come! He saw what was up, so he came back with his troops!
Jírak.—He wants to smother the flame we started before it is fanned into something beyond his control. That Count of ours, the devil take him, is giving all the help he possibly can! (Steps are heard to the right. Jírak looks in that direction, and seizes his rifle.) Some one comes!
(Enter Count Dejm, covered by a cloak.)
Tomeš.—Count Dejm! (Descends from the cliff and approaches to greet him.) Count!
Dejm (Extending his hand).—At last I have found you!
Tomeš (Taking his hand).—And are you not endangering yourself?
Dejm.—It does not matter. I leave in an hour. By that time the soldiers of Schirnding should arrive here from Pilsen,—and it is even possible that the first company will be here sooner!
Tomeš.—The work of the Count! But the Count and Schirnding are taking the wrong course!
Dejm.—Do not be mistaken! You cannot attack Schirnding!
Tomeš.—No, not yet. There are but a few of us as yet, and we can only defend ourselves. We will not descend into the field against him now, and if he wishes, let him look for us in Vrána’s low lands. But by this evening, there will be at least three hundred more added to our forces, and then it will be possible, I think, to surround Schirnding and keep my promise!
Dejm.—If you could attack them here, it would of course be splendid! But remember, brother, the first step is to hasten to Prague as soon as possible, to strengthen the forces there! Do not delay longer than is necessary!
(From the left appear a crowd of serfs led by Kořinek. On their shoulders they carry scythes, rifles, forks, etc. They march along, talking eagerly to each other, across the right of the scene to the cliffs.)
Tomeš.—I shall see how many men Schirnding will bring with him. If it is impossible to attack them, we will march for Prague tomorrow.
Dejm.—How many rifles have you?
Tomeš.—All that we found in the armory, or whatever we had at home.
Dejm.—I will see that you are equipped better. I am now on the way to Beroun, and I will send you a division of cavalry with more ammunition.
Tomeš.—Many thanks to you, Count.
Dejm.—Just try to protect the lives of all your people. (Gives him his hand.) I must go now.
Tomeš (Quickly).—Just one more question, Count. Is Marie still at the castle?
Dejm.—I do not know. I could not and dared not talk further with either the Count or the Countess. I only know that the Countess went off a short time ago in the direction of the game-keeper’s lodge. So God protect you now, noble youth, and be not only heroic but cautious as well. Near Prague, if not in Prague we shall meet again.
Tomeš.—Goodbye, noble Count. You will hear from me soon! (Dejm departs) Now to the field, so that all will be made ready!
Jírak.—The count was speaking about arms. I believe there will be enough of them. We have about eighty rifles in all,.and in close-range conflict we must depend upon the weapons we are accustomed to using.
(Departs to the right among the cliffs. Lída approaches toward him with slow steps, her face pale, looking downcast.)
Lída, Tomeš, Jírak.
Tomeš.—Lída, are you here? Whom are you seeking?
Lída (Raising her eyes, fixes them upon Tomeš with a long look).—Since you ask me, I must tell you . . . (her eyes drooping to the ground) my father!
Tomeš.—He went away, but he will return at once. (Motions to Jírak to go among the cliffs.) I will follow you at once! (Jírak disappears, Tomeš to Lída with lowered voice.) If you wish to go with me, you will find your father in the camp in Vrána’s field.
Lída (Painfully).—If I wish to go with you? (Glancing at the departing Jírak) Tomsi, it was not destined that I should go with you, I must be satisfied to follow after you. Just like the cur that you drive away with stones a hundred times, and yet he returns to your very heels . . . (quickly and wildly) Tomsi, why must I bear such cruel and undeserved pain for you? Why should I suffer so cruelly! What I was obliged to witness at the castle . . . it dried out my last burning tear, killed my very soul!
Tomeš.—Dear soul, may you overtake that peace which I did not intentionally disturb!
Lída.—It will not come . . . I cannot find peace . . and this burning pain will not be allayed. Only then . . . but fear not that I want you now . . . that I would . have what cannot be.
Tomeš.—What did you wish to say to me?
Lída (Seriously).—Tomeš, you have the power to save me. I know you are not for me . . . but listen, you shall not belong to her either! Run away, escape from us both, but do not marry her!
Tomeš.—You know my promise,—but even more, you know how dearly I love her . . .
Lída (Calls out sharply).—Do not finish. Go, Tomeš, go away! I cannot talk to you further . . . But, Tomsi, (with frenzied laughter) neither shall she belong to you! (Walks away, gazing at the ground, and talking to herself.) No, he shall not have her!
Jírak (Returning).—Tomsi, from the village comes the news that the Count and some one else from the troops have left for the forest. A troop of soldiers in the hunting lodge . . . our men calling for you! It looks as though we are to be attacked!
Tomeš.—I am coming, coming at once! (Takes a couple of steps, then pauses to look at Lída, standing motionless. His face is full of sympathy. He waves goodbye to her, then goes away.)
Lída (Steps up to the tree on which the cross is hung, talking to herself).—No, she shall not be his if I were to lose my life and very soul to prevent it! (Collapses in a heap under the cross.)
(From the right advance Beauvalle with Schirnding, looking around cautiously. Schirnding is wrapped in a heavy cloak.)
Lída, Beauvalle, and Schirnding; later Havelka, park keeper and a troop os soldiers.
Beauvalle.—This is the only place where you can make a stand with your troops. Elsewhere the access is difficult and almost impossible.
Schirnding (Gazes at the cliffs).—Difficult to advance here! (Stamps his foot with disappointment) I would give a hundred florins were that criminal in our hands, or shot!
Beauvalle.—Believe me, captain, I would add another hundred gladly.
Schirnding.—I believe you. It would be greatly to your advantage if this uprising could be quickly crushed! If the Empress is victorious, it is hard to tell what will be the result of your hasty decision!
Beauvalle (Quickly).—I will do anything you say. But if you now wish unnecessarily to look at the road to their camp, I must send at least the game warden and a number of soldiers. I have sent for them (Looks to the right) They are here now.
(From the left appear Havelka, park keeper and a troop of soldiers. All are armed, ready to fire. Soldiers form a chain, looking up at the cliffs and the frowning forest.)
Schirnding.—Well, do not give yourself any great concern about me. (Goes to the soldiers to give instructions.)
Beauvalle (To Havelka).—Is the Countess in the cottage?
Havelka.—She was gracious enough to come after my daughter.
Beauvalle.—She did not know the troops are here. (To Schirnding.) I will step over to the game warden’s cottage for the Countess. We will await you at the castle.
(Soldiers, Schirnding, Havelka, and park keeper to toward the cliffs. Beauvalle wishes to pass by the tree with the cross to the cottage. He sees Lída advancing toward him. She has all the time been looking intently at him while she meditated.)
Lída (With burning eyes).-Noble Count!
Beauvalle (Astonished).—And who are you?
Lída.—That I cannot tell you; I am not who I used to be.
Beauvalle.—You are Lída, the daughter of old Vrána! And your father also is in the camp of the enemy!
Lída.—Perhaps he is. And if I could handle a rifle and were not Lída, perhaps I also would be there.
Beauvalle (Suspiciously).—You are a spy!
Lída.—I wish to become a spy for your cause,—but only if I am rewarded, well rewarded!
Beauvalle.—I will repay you well. (Reaches for money.)
Lída.—Keep your gold and silver. I will not be lured by your vile money!
Beauvalle.—You bold lizard!
Lída.—Condemn me, revile me, it is safe . . . ours (with sarcasm) are now at a safe distance. But listen, and promise me to fulfill your promise if I now do you a great service.
Beauvalle.—What do you want, refusing my money?
Lída.—I want even more. If I were today, tomorrow, at some time before he leaves . . . if I were to place Tomeš into your hands . . .
Beauvalle (Overcome, but anxiously).—And you can do that?
Lída.—And if I could, I say, if it is possible. I do not know if fate will be with me . . . (placing her hand on her head) I feel strangely here . . . might if I could succeed in placimg him in your power . . . Count do you promise me not to put him to death?
Beauvalle.—If the people will become quieted and scatter . . . I will not put him to death!
Lída (With clear decisive voice).—Without Tomeš, not one arm will be raised, without him, not one man will leave this place!
Beauvalle.—If that is the case, accomplish your purpose . . . put him into our power.
Lída (With lowered voice and shifting eyes).—If by that time, my reason does not altogether desert me, perhaps I can do it. I am ever at his steps . . . I know where he goes . . . every move he makes . . . (to herself, lost in her thoughts) and I must manage to keep him away from her.
Beauvalle.—What are you saying?
Lída (Surprised).—Did I say something?
Beauvalle.—You want to prevent some one else from getting him!
Lída (Placing her hand over her heart).—She must not get him . . . she must not . . . if I myself must pay the penalty with my life. (After a moment she quiets down.) Just promise me, give me your word, noble Count, that after it is over, she shall not have him!
Beauvalle.—Of whom are you speaking? Of Marie? (Points to the cottage.)
Lída.—You are, noble Count, in authority here. We are all in your power. Without your consent, Tomeš will never dare marry that one from the cottage. Promise me, that you will spare his life, and forbid him to marry,—and I will give you Tomeš perhaps very soon, I will make him your captive!
Beauvalle (Impressively).—All that you ask I shall grant you!
Lída.—You mean it?
Beauvalle.—My word is sufficient. And furthermore, I will spare your father.
Lída (With indifferent voice)—Father, a parent, and I yet have a father . . . I had forgooten about him!
Beauvalle.—And I will grant all you request. (A shot is heard in the forest in the direction in which Schirnding went. Then an uproar. Beauvalle is frightened.) They are attacked! (Draws his poinard, stands with his back to the rocky cliff) Who is here? (To Lída) Run to the cottage. (From the cliffs runs forth a soldier.) What is happening? (A second, then a third appears, followed by Havelka.)
Havelka.—A rifle was accidentally discharged. The shot has aroused the camp and the people are flocking after us!
(Enter Schirnding, and other soldiers.)
Schirnding.—Run, Count, away to the cottage. There are a few too many for us!
Beauvalle.—I warned you,—run quickly (To Lída) Do as you have promised. You shall have whatever you wish.
(All disappear. Lída alone remains. On the road from the direction of the cottage appear the Countess with Marie, attended by a maid.)
Countess, Marie, maid, Lída; later Vrána, Jírak, the armed serfs, last enters Jan.
Countess.—I heard a shot, and the forest is filled with shouts and cries!
Marie (Anxiously).—Protect yourself, Countess, let us return to the castle (Points ahead of them.)
Countess.—This girl here,—Lída! (Countess goes toward Lída while Marie remains unnoticed.) What has happened?
Lída (Without taking notice of the countess or hearing the question).—No, she does not come yet!
Countess.—Answer! Where is the Count, where is Baron Schirnding?
Lída (Looking up).—Countess!
Countess.—I am asking you a question.
Lída.—I did not hear you. I have not as yet seen Tomeš.
Countess.—Who fired? Where is the Count?
Lída.—They went away. The shot was accidental.
Countess.—But there is an uproar!
Lída.—They are rushing after them.
(Countess, steps back, from the cliffs step out three armed serfs trying under cover to locate the soldiers and the game keeper; behind them appear Jírak with Vrána. Later three more serfs from the forest come to the front.)
Jírak.—He must be here!
Vrána.—They are not far away.
Voices from the cliffs.—After them, after them! (From the clifs appear ten other serfs, crossing the scene to the other side of the forest.)
Countess.—They will be killed. (Calls) Listen, listen to me!
Vrána (Turning around).—Who is calling?
Jírak.—It is the Countess.
Vrána (Laughing).—The title of the Countess is not now held in great esteem. (Approaches the Countess.)
Marie.—Save yourself! (Runs to the Countess. Lída sees Marie, and stirs uneasily.)
Lída.—Again in front of me! Heaven, it shall be the last time.
Vrána (To the Countess).—And what do you wish, noble lady?
Countess.—Do not attract the attention of those who were here. The Count is somewhere among them.
Vrána (Turns about and calls).—Quickly after them! The Count is with them! Seize or shoot the Count!
(All the serfs disappear into the left edge of the forest, Jírak alone remaining in the midst of the center of the scene.)
Countess.—Merciful Heavens, they will be killed!
Marie.—I will try to save them. (Runs to Jírak who stands with drawn rifle gazing into the wood.) Where is Tomeš?
Jírak.—Back, retreat! Leave us alone and go away from this place! (Goes into the forest.)
Countess (In despair).—All is in vain!
Lída (Sees what is taking place, stirs uneasily, places her hand on her forehead, then to herself).—I will bring him, I will bring him here; she shall hold him, she herself! (Quickly advances toward the Countess.) Noble lady, do you wish me to find Tomeš and bring him here?
Countess.—At this time? In such a moment? Can you find him?
Lída.—I know where he is. Wait for him here. I will surely bring him back.
Countess.—Can you do it? Oh, bring him back!
Lída (Wildly to herself).—I will surely bring him! (Disappears.)
Countess.—Marie! Lída will bring Tomeš to uš!
Countess.—Yes, yes. If she could but find him! If she would bring him quickly! Why did the Count go into the forest, why has he been so rash?
Marie.—How terrible it is here,—how oppressive the atmosphere; and this is only the beginning of the struggle!
Jan (Comes out quickly from the right. Sees Countess, is surprised).—Noble Lady, what are you doing here?
Countess.—Has something happened at the castle?
Jan.—I am seeking the Count and the Baron. New troops have now arrived. They wish to know whether they should hurry here after the Colonel.
Countess.—Go quickly and send them to the game keeper’s cottage. (Jan goes away.)
Marie.—And suppose Tomeš were to go to the cottage also! He would be attacked!
(From among the cliffs appears Tomeš, Lída, and a number of armed serfs.)
Tomeš, serfs, Marie, Countess, Lída.
Tomeš.—Where are our men?
Lída.—They ran into the forest after the Count! But listen, here is the Countess with your—
Countess (Sees Tomeš. Hastens to him).—They are following up the Count! Save, protect him!
Marie.—Tomsi, do not permit them to kill the Count!
Tomeš (Sharply).—How can I place into your hands, one who is now probably in the hands of my people! . . . (Considering) But to you, noble lady, I must be eternally grateful. Ask whatever you wish!
(Disappears with his men into the forest.)
Lída (Looking after him).—If they were to burst out and take him! (Stands a moment at the edge of the wood, then climbs a cliff, the better to look down into the forest.)
Marie (To the Countess).—If he reaches the scene of action!
Countess (Listening sharply).—I hear as yet no firing!
(From the left appear Jírak with Vrána and four armed men.)
Jírak.—Impossible to reach the cottage! It is surrounded!
Vrána.—And yet we might have fired upon those who were here! The devil take it! I was all ready to go after the Count!
Tomeš (Steps out with the others).—Quickly, quickly! How easily they could lure you all into a trap! Go down to our camp and double the guards!
(The men disappear into the cliffs. Vrána remains talking with Jírak.)
Marie (Hurries with Countess toward Tomeš).—Tomsi, Tomsi!
Tomeš (To the Countess).—The Count is safe.
Countess.—I thank you!
Tomeš.—Do not delay here longer, Countess, and you also Marie, so you are not injured here! (Marie hesitates, Tomeš talks to the Countess)
Lída (Angrily, looks first at Tomeš, then into the forest; to herself half aloud).—Almost every one has gone, and yet those (pointing to the left) do not come, to capture their choicest prize! I will go after them! (Looks at Tomeš and Marie) Just stay here a moment, only a moment longer! (Vehemently, but half aloud to Marie as though cursing her.) Bewitch him, hold him in your power so he will hear nothing, see nothing, and gaze only at you! Be beautiful as you have never been before, and talk to him enticingly—but hold him, just keep him now,—I will run a race with the wind,—(wildly) and like a flash of lightning I will return! (Disappears to the left toward the cottage.)
Vrána (With Jírak goes into the forest).—We are leaving now. Do not stay longer here!
Tomeš.—I will come after you in a moment!
Jirak.—No, we will stay here with you till you are ready!
Vrána (Calling).—Hej, boys, three of you remain here. (Three armed men return. Jírak takes his stand to the left facing the game keeper’s cottage, Vrána to the right toward the castle. The other three stay in the forest toward the right.)
Tomeš, Marie, Countess, Jírak, Vrána
Marie (To Tomeš).—This struggle frightens me! Leave these people go! Return to us!
Tomeš.—It is now impossible! Not one, not one of our men will now return to his former life without a struggle! Since Count Dejm has spoken to me, I feel as though a new heaven and new earth were about to open to us! We will never again subject ourseles to the degrading condition of serfdom! Rather would we all perish and die here now!
Marie (Anxiously).—And how terrible are your words, how frightful will this conflict become! You have not even left this place, and see! how terrifying the aspect of things has become! How can any good arise from this!
Tomeš.—With certainty good must come of it, my Marie. And all who go to war are not going to be killed! We shall return victorious and a happier day will dawn for you and me after the conflict is over!
Marie.—You must not go! I am frightened for your safety!
Countess.—Just consider well one thing. All the troops of the Empress disappeared at the coming of the new ruler. And today, his retainers fear that Prague will besieged,—and the new king, no one seems to even know where he is!
Tomeš.—But that is not a sufficient cause for deserting him. He is fighting not only for himself, but als for us, and we,—we must win something from this conflict for ourselves and not depend entirely upon him!
Vrána (Approaching).—Tomsi, we are here all alone. Do not delay longer. Who knows what the Countess and that child with her are trying to convince you to do! Come to your men! They need you, they are now alone!
Tomeš.—I will guard you and myself also. And you, in the meantime, do not conduct yourself so surlily toward the Countess and my betrothed!
Vrána.—Well, well, I suppose I can say what I think! (Goes away.)
Countess.—Your people entertain fears for your safety. We must not keep you here longer.
Marie.—Oh Tomeš, will you ever return to your little cottage and to us?
(In the forest a cracking of dry sticks and underbrush is heard. Jírak looks in that direction, and walks hither.)
Tomeš.—I will return, but not at once. First I must accomplish something, first I must keep the promise to my people from which I cannot retract.
(Marie begins to weep, with her head on the breast of Tomeš. From the rear, Lída appears upon the cliff, behind her, the soldiers are trying to conceal themselves in the brush.)
Lída, Schirnding, soldiers, Tomeš, Countess, Jírak, Marie, Beauvalle, Havelka, park keeper.
Lída (With glaring eyes).—And still they are here!
Schirnding (Steps out from the rear; half aloud).—No one is to fire upon Tomeš; no one, undertand!
Lída (To Schirnding).—Let a number of your men remain here. I will lead a troop of them around, block the road, then he cannot escape!
(Lída, Schirnding and soldiers step back again into the forest.)
Tomeš (To Marie).—You weep upon my breast, and heaven seems to open up to me! See, I am going into valiant service, service which I have heard of, dreamt about, but never supposed I could participate in. I must step forth from these woods in which I was reared, to take my stand at the head of these men gathering about my standard to fight for their freedom! Oh do not cloud with your tears that glorious road, the path to victory and glory, which I shall so joyfully take!
Jírak (Sees something in front to the left).—Some one is here! Who is it? (Three soldiers leap upon him, bear him to the ground and drag him into the forest.) Tomsi, Tomsi!
Tomeš (Frightened, to Marie and the Countess).—Go at once! (Steps forward) What is happening? Jiraku! (A shot is fired, and three countrymen with Vrána rush forth.)
Vrána (With the serfs to Tomeš).—We have been trapped!
(Marie and the Countess hasten toward the right. At the same time, from the left, Schirnding appears with the soldiers upon the cliffs. Beauvalle with Havelka appear on the road by the cross.)
Schirnding (Appears before Tomeš with the soldiers).—You are our prisoner!
Tomeš.—You are mine! (Fires at Schirnding who falls, wounded. The soldiers leave Tomeš alone, and kneel beside Schirnding.)
Beauvalle (Who saw Tomeš fire).—Tomsi!
Tomeš (To his men).—Rush to the camp! Below!
(Tomeš with the serfs disappear to the right. Beauvalle hastens to Schirnding.)
Lída (Steps out, barring the road).—You are mine and you shall not escape. (To the soldiers) Seize him!
(The soldiers rush upon Tomeš struggling with him; others seize Vrána, and three serfs rush into the forest to the right.)
Beauvalle (Above the body of Schirnding).—I now declare that Tomeš must die the most violent death! (Looks at the struggling group.) Bind him!
(Tomeš is overpowered, in the midst of a group of soldiers; Lída joyfully feasts her eyes upon him)
Lída.—Taken, taken, Tomeš, you are now a prisoner, my prisoner, for I betrayed you! You shall not die, you will remain eternally bound; but Marie, she cannot, she shall not have you!
Beauvalle (Steps to the front).—No, no one shall have him now! For he is going to be hanged!
Lída (Wildly).—You lied to me! You promised me that his life would be spared!
Beauvalle.—And if I made a promise, murder, (pointing to Schirnding) knows no mercy!
Lída (In desperation).—Tomeš, Tomeš, you are going to the scaffold!
Tomeš.—Due to your treason, your villainy!
Lída.—Release him! For the mercy of heaven, let him go!
(Rushes upon the soldiers.)
Beauvalle.—Back, you lunatic!
Tomeš.—May you be cursed, eternally accursed!
Lída.—Woe, woe upon me! (Collapses upon the ground as the soldiers lead Tomeš away.)
The hunting lodge at the castle where the weapons are kept. To the right, an old fashioned table, bench, and wooden chairs; to the left a smaller table. On the left side of the lodge, a door leads into a neighboring room.
Beauvalle, Countess, later Jan
(Countess and Beauvalle dressed in black. Countess is seated at the table to the left, Beauvalle at the large table wrapped in thought.).
Countess.—Count, are you going to hold Tomeš as a prisoner? Won’t you let him out under some sort of penalty instead?
Beauvalle (Icily).—You advise me to let him go?
Countess.—You dare not let him go free! But release him under a penalty, under some sort of a bond!
Beauvalle (Sternly).—Consider your own advice,—you might be obliged to sacrifice your own head or mine were it carried out.
Countess (Deeply hurt).—This is worse than severity!
Beauvalle.—I only regret that you cannot see how impossible it is to grant your request.
Countess.—You fear the result of the uprising more than is really necessary. The insurrection is quelled, the people suppressed before they could reach the Bavarians.
Beauvalle (Rising, icily).—Yes, you are right. The people are scattered. But it is necessary to be prepared for them. We must be armed, ready for an attack at any moment . . . And nothing has happened? What have I done? Nothing at all, only risen against her Majesty, the Empress, who now seems to be victorious! Only caused an uprising on my own estate, among my own serfs . . . only caused the inevitable death of Baron Schirnding, who by his death will greatly weaken the cause of the Reservists upon whom Her Majesty greatly depended . . .
Countess.—But surely Schirnding will recover?
Beauvalle.—We will know very soon. (Rings. Enter Jan) How is the Colonel, Baron Schirnding?
Jan.—The physician has given up all hope.
Countess (Frightened, stirs uneasily.)
Beauvalle (To the Countess).—Well? (Motions Jan away) Are you beginning to believe that all is not well with us?
Countess.—And still I believe you fear the penalty too much.
Beauvalle (Coolly).—And what manner of punishment is liable to fall upon me? Only such as befell a group of nobles more than a hundred years ago, after the Old Town uprising in Prague when they were put to death in a wholesale massacre . . . nothing more. We have stepped into this castle to fill the place of one who lost his head at that time. Every day the power of the people against the ruling class is increasing . . . so why be afraid? Nothing worse can overtake us than the executioner’s ax! (Falls into the chair, deep in thought.)
Countess (Rising with burning eyes).—And even though the fault and its penalty were as great as your fear imagines . . . would the sacifice of a human life diminish it?
Jan (Enters the room).—Count Dejm!
Dejm, Beauvalle, later Countess, magistrate, Jan.
Beauvalle (Unfriendly).—Count Dejm, you are here again?
Dejm.—I felt it my duty to return.
Countess (Returning to the room; Dejm sees her.)
Countess (Frightened).—Your appearance here, it means you bear evil tidings?
Beauvalle.—Where are the allied forces? Where is Charles Albert?
Dejm.—Prague is enclosed by the forces of Marie Teresa. General Belleisle is scarcely able to hold his stand, and the Bavarian is fleeing from Bohemia! (Falls into a chair. Countess shows emotion.)
Beauvalle.—Defeat to the cause everywhere, and what is to happen to us who are now regarded as traitors?
Dejm.—Do not be afraid. I urged you to stand by the Bavarian, and I am now ready to take upon myself all the blame, and the penalty which might befall you, I myself will bear. You can and must say that Tomeš Vítek and I, against your will, caused the uprising on your estates.
Beauvalle.—I will not permit you to be punished for me.
Dejm.—I have not said I will give myself up to a court, to be tried. Our cause is not entirely lost as yet. We will exert all our strength to save it. But if it comes to the worst,—
Beauvalle.—Oh, do not deceive yourself!
Dejm.— . . . then I will give up my castle and estate and flee from the country. But whether here or in a foreign land, I take upon myself all the blame! But I ask you to do one thing according to my request.
Dejm.—Release Tomeš Vitek . . . his neck is in danger.
Beauvalle.—What insanity . . . I must sacrifice myself to do it! I expect to be called to account at any moment, and you want me to testify to my own guilt? (Calls) Magistrate! (To himself fearfully) If Tomeš were to escape! (Seats himself.)
Beauvalle.—How is it with Tomeš? Is he carefully guarded?
Magistrate.—Have no worry concerning him. Two guards are stationed at the door of the dungeon, and he can hardly move his limbs in the thongs that bind him.
Beauvalle.—How is he conducting himself?
Magistrate.—Like an eagle or a hawk with a wing crippled by a bullet. He sits wrapped in gloomy thoughts, he looks at no one, and seems to be consulting with himself all the time. (Laughing) No doubt he thinks he would move about more freely were he now at Prague, fighting against the Empress! (Beauvalle gazes at the ground, the Countess is touched, Dejm is angry) But he must hold himself down at times. There are moments when his wrath explodes, and he strains to break his bonds, and his cries are terrifying, angry, as though he must break away or pull down the arches of his vault! (With laughter) But it is all in vain!
Countess (Angrily).—Stop! Only brutality or something even worse can talk thus!
Magistrate (Frightened).—I . . .your noble highness . . . I am . . .
Beauvalle.—I have heard enough. Guard Tomeš carefully. (Motions to the magistrate to leave.)
Dejm (To himself).—This seems to be the end of this heroic youth, and only an extreme measure can now save him! (Wrapped in his thoughts, he looks up at the entrance of Jan)
Jan (Enters).—The Court Commissioner from Jordán!
Beauvalle (Rises frightened.)
Jan.—He has come with two other gentlemen, and wishes to be presented to you at once!
Beauvalle (Frightened).—Jordán! Why has he come!
Countess.—Leave at once, Count Dejm, so he does not see you.
Dejm.—I will wait for him also.
Beauvalle (Angrily).—I won’t let him in!
Dejm.—Why so? You don’t even know what news he is bringing! And better learn his mission here now than later!
Beauvalle (To Jan).—Let him enter. (Jan disappears.) Dejm, stay with me now! I must not be left alone! (Sinks into his chair. Enter Jordán.)
Jordán, Countess, Dejm, Beauvalle.
Jordán (In official dress with a poinard at his side, a portfolio under the left hand, bows to the Countess, who advances toward him.)—Pardon, Countess, my sudden appearance. Sorry. (Sees Dejm, looks surprised, but remarks dryly) Count Dejm, have I prevented your disappearance?
Dejm.—Not at all, Mr. Court Commissioner, I am not going to leave!
Jordán (Sharply).—You then consider it advisable to remain longer here at the castle?
Dejm.—If I am not an obstacle, and as long as I have the permission (bowing to the Countess) of my gracious hostess, I will remain here!
Jordán (With a forced smile).—You will be no obstacle, Count, to my transaction.
Beauvalle (Rising to Jordán).—Your mission here . . . You are commanded, Mr. Court Commissioner . . .
Jordán.—Pardon, Count, my respects to you . . .
Beauvalle.—I welcome you. May I know what it is that gives me the honor of your visit?
Jordán.—A very important mission, Count.
Dejm (Stirs uneasily. Takes the Countess by the hand).—Calmly, Countess, we must compose ourselves.
Jordán (On the side to Beauvalle).—In your castle the leader and warrior Schirnding lies injured unto death. There was an uprising on your estate, the result of your default from her Majesty, Marie Teresa. I received a stern command to investigate the matter, and make a complete report to the Chancellor’s Court.
Beauvalle (To himself).—Then I am lost.
Countess (To Dejm).—What is he saying?
Dejm.—I cannot catch his words.
Jordán.—It is my first duty in common with yourself, to hold a trial, and bring to justice all the revolutionists on your estate.
Jordán.—To you as a noble and magistrate belongs the power to call these people to account. But it must not be left to you alone, as you also are charged with treason against Her Majesty.
Dejm (Hearing the last words).—Pardon me, Mr. Court Commissioner, if I express my opinion, but I believe your order is somewhat premature.
Jordán.—And why so, Count?
Dejm (Fearlessly).—Because, according to my knowledge, it is not yet decided who shall rule over this land, whether it is to be the Grand Duchess, Marie Teresa, or the new king, Charles Albert.
Jordán (With sarcasm).—That may be your presumption, Count, but it is not the case according to the knowledge of others. (With emphasis) General Belleisle has abandoned Prague, (Dejm and Beauvalle stir uneasily) the forces of Her Majesty, our Empress, Marie Teresa have overcome the troops of the allies who are now fleeing from Bohemia.
Beauvalle (Aside).—Then I am lost!
Jordán (Half aloud to Beauvalle).—You were gracious to me, I have not forgotten it. But I am guarded by two other judges.
Beauvalle.—What shall I do?
Jordán.—On the side, I give you this friendly advice: save yourself as much as is now possible. Do not allow another shadow to fall upon you. Great are the penalties which will fall upon the leaders of the rebellion.
Beauvalle (Despairingly).—I understand . . . I understand . . . but who will bring a charge against me?
Jordán (Aloud).—Count Millesimo went directly to Vienna, and there blubbered out everything that happened here. Then followed the report of the uprising and the assault upon Schirnding.
Dejm (To the Countess, Half aloud).—There is yet help . . . but it will require courage. (Talks with spirit to the Countess)
Jordán.—I have but a few minutes to talk with you alone. Give us, I pray, without further delay, the leader of the uprising, the young poacher, Tomeš.
Beauvalle.—Give the order, Commissioner, in my name. Let him be freed of his chains, and brought here for trial.
Jordán (Quietly).—I again repeat, protect yourself if you wish to be saved. (Departs.)
Beauvalle.—All, all is lost! Upon my head will fall the blow aimed at serfdom! I, lunatic that I am, allowed myself to be perverted, deprived.of my reason, and I drew forth the sword that now will be raised against my own head!
Dejm.—Count Beauvalle! (Wishes to approach.)
Beauvalle (Breathing heavily).—Back! Leave me alone!
Beauvalle.—You alone are the cause of my destruction . . these orders coming in from all sides seem to pulverize me as a wild boar pulverizes a bone in its mouth. (Rising) But is it decreed that I must perish, is it possible that I, I, must subject myself to these humiliations raining down upon me! But I still feel in my vitals the strength to avert a portion of that fate. . . and if it is not possible, then with my fall, shall fall and be scattered all that.stood with me!
Dejm (Approaching Beauvalle; half aloud).—Be merciful to Tomeš, and act cautiously. If you will say the word, I will bring the armed people to arrest the officers and the soldiers.
Beauvalle (Half aloud).—This is the greatest folly you have yet invented. Think of your own safety, now, and do not disturb me further with your crazy advice. (Steps away from Dejm.)
(The door opens. The soldiers appear with Tomeš.)
Countess (Horrified).—They are leading him here!
(Enter two soldiers, bringing in Tomeš, in the same clothes in which he was captured. He lacks only his banner and sword. Behind him come Jordán, Hopfling, magistrate; two soldiers in the rear, stand outside by the door. Jan carries writing material, and places it on the table. The Countess in the door at the left gazes at Tomeš, who bows to her with a pained smile.
Tomeš, Beauvalle, Jordán, Dejm, Hopfling, magistrate, a troop of soldiers.
Dejm (Approaches Tomeš, and unnoticed says).—I am present. In the greatest crisis, depend upon me.
(Tomeš speaks quietly to Dejm. Jordán looks at him, also at Dejm. Dejm walks away. Tomeš stands in the center of the room before the table; behind the table, sit Beauvalle with Jordán, to the left of the table Hopfling, to the right, the magistrate. To the left, in the rear, are Jan, in front near the door, Dejm. A troop of soldiers in the rear behind the door.)
Tomeš (Advancing to the table; aloud).—I do not know why I was summoned here, unless, (motioning to the table) my trial awaits me.
Jordán.—You are not mistaken in your supposition.
Tomeš (Surprised, steps back a step, then recovering himself looks at Beauvalle).—And you, Count, what are you doing behind this table?
Beauvalle (Incensed, afraid that Tomeš will implicate him).—Be silent! I am your lord, your judge, and you are in my hands!
Tomes (Overcome with surprise).—My lord . . . my judge? . . . I see, Count, so you are going to condemn me as a criminal . . . (Beauvalle angry.)
Jordán.—You are to answer the questions put to you.
Tomeš.—I will gladly do so. Without any hsme I acknowledge myself the leader of the uprising people on this estate . . . I admit that we were going to Prague to join the ranks of the new king.
Jordán.—You are not to call that enemy of the country a king again; and listen . . .
Tomeš.—And still he was our real king, a ruler of our choice. For he wished to bring us freedom, not only here, but to all the countrymen in the land. And for that freedom which is ours and yours, Count, (gazing at Beauvalle) we arose, and made a united struggle. For that long sought freedom, we armed ourselves with rifles, with cutting scythes and weapons of the fields such as we had, and for the liberty of our country gladly aroused those (gazing reproachfully at Beauvalle) who hardly knew how to prepare themselves for war.
Beauvalle (Uneasily).—Whom are you trying to blame? You alone are the cause of all this trouble!
(Hopfling seated on the left side of the table arises and steps behind Beauvalle and Jordán to the magistrate who is writing. He seats himself beside him, looks at Tomeš and Beauvalle, and begins to talk earnestly. Beauvalle frightened, sees that the magistrate is looking steadily at him.)
Tomeš (With self confidence).—I alone! Yes, with pride I accept your testimony, Count! With pride I acknowledge that I remained firm, true to the cause, after the fire which was cremating my vitals had once burst into a flame; true to the cause for which I, and these helpless serfs stood out as long as we were able, when you, for fear of losing a piece of land, or perhaps your worthless neck, withdrew and abandoned us to struggle for the cause of liberty as best we could. I, a woodman from the forest, felt the enthusiasm, the fire which lead us on; I, an humble servant, who knew no other world than the remote one which lies here around us. Oh with what a fierce joy, what uncontrollable fire I would have fought had I, like yourself, belonged to that nobility which holds all this land, claims it, when the country is in danger!
Jordán.—You admit that you are guilty.
Tomeš (With a clear voice and erect head).—I admit it, and only regret that we were unsuccessful.
Hopfling.—And do you not then fear that you will lose your life?
Tomeš.—And suppose I do? I am one man in the midst of thousands of others . . . the loss of one such life . . . who will even feel it?
Hopfling.—And the punishment that must fall upon all the people you drew into this struggle with you?
Tomeš.—That they must endure and outlive. For they have been enduring an endless punishment, and suffering through no cause of their own. (With erect head.) And finally, all of us were to be sentenced to death, all who started this uprising, what would you gain by it? We are making one step forward in the advancement of the race, the thousands who follow us take a second step forward, and a third and fourth will fall to the destiny of future generations! And if we all, all our generation were to perish, this uprising is a step forward and finally the people must arrive where we have slowly been advancing . . . no power on earth can prevent them from ultimately attaining the goal toward which we have been striving!
Dejm( Carried away).—It is so, it is so!
Jordán (Reproachfully to Dejm).—Count!
Hopfling.—Just wait, Count! It is only too evident that such ideas did not spring up alone in the imagination of this poacher! (To Beauvalle) Count, it is now your duty to bring to justice these rebellious subjects of yours. (Tomeš and Dejm look uneasy.) But first permit me to ask him a few more questions which concern you!
Beauvalle (Despairingly to one side).—It is all up with me! (To Hopfling) Carry on the trial!
Jordán (To Beauvalle).—They are after you now. Act coolly and try to protect yourself.
Tomeš.—Count . . . you are now evidently agains me . . . do you wish to decide my penalty?
Beauvalle (Terribly excited).—I am your lord and your judge. It is my duty as your master to sentence you, and I shall not swerve from my duty! I truly did, Count Dejm, listen to your counsel for a time . . .
Dejm.—You are mad! Who is charging you?
Beauvalle (Confused).—You, Tomeš . . . all these present . . . But I have again recovered my senses and only this one here, (pointing to Tomeš) remained in open rebellion! I then have the right, the power . . . it is a duty I must fulfil to sentence him as a rebel, the murderer of Schirnding, a traitor to the ruling power, and finally as a poacher, who long ago deserved the death which is now awaiting him.
Tomeš (Is silent for a while, then calmly and intelligently to Beauvalle).—Am I suddenly guilty of so many crimes, Count? (With rising anger) Well then, exercise your ill-gotten power, and sentence me to death to save yourself!
(Below in the court is heard an uproar, screams and the sound of a struggle between the soldiers and the people.)
Beauvalle (Greatly aroused).—I hereby sentence you,—yes, to death itself I sentence you!
(At this instant, Lída bursts into the room, a dagger in her hand, and overhears the last words of Beauvalle. Behind her are a number of serfs, the soldiers rushing in behind them. All arise. A growing uproar and clamor under the window.)
Lída, Beauvalle, Dejm, Tomeš, Jordán, Hopfling, magistrate, park keeper, Jan, and three other servants.
Lída.—You shall not sentence him,—I am here now!
All.—What an uproar!
Lída (To Beauvalle).—I gave him up to you,—but not unto death, and I must now take him back again!
Beauvalle.—You are mad!
Lída.—You picked him out, called him from his cottage to go to Prague to fight in your place.
Beauvalle (Wildly).—Hold her . . .
Lída.— —and now you would sentence him, murder him! Your will shall not be carried out! These scattered people were once more moved to an act of desperation and are now struggling with the troops! Tomsi, here is a dagger . . . defend your life and mine! (Presses the weapon into his hand. Tomeš at first hesitates to accept it) I failed to find another weapon! (Tomeš takes the dagger.) I will yet save you . . . I must not be eternally under your curse! (Tomeš talks excitedly with Lída.)
Beauvalle.—What devil brought in this lunatic! (Rings) Jan, magistrate, where is everybody! (Enter magistrate and Jan both greatly excited) Where are the other troops? (The sound of trumpets and drums is heard.)
Magistrate.—The soldiers are coming to the castle on a run! It is terrible down there! The people are fighting with the soldiers striking down everyone who comes in their way!
Dejm (Coming forward).—Prevent the useless shedding of blood! Let Tomeš go, and all will be quiet again! (Enter three servants.)
Tomeš.—Aj, once more liberty and battle in sight!
Beauvalle (Pointing to Tomeš and Lída).—Bind them both!
Tomeš.—Back, I say! Woe to the one that touches me!
Lída.—Quick! Go down below, and be saved so you can avenge yourself upon all your murderers!
(Tomeš tries to break away. Magistrate and servants rush toward him. Tomeš is ready to attack one with the dagger.)
Beauvalle (Seizes a pistol from the wall).—Stand, you shall not escape! (Aims at Tomeš)
(Cries from below. Tomsi. Tomsi)
(Lída sees what Beauvalle is about to do, and rushes toward him with a cry to prevent it. Tomeš turns toward him; the magistrate pulls Lída away, the Count fires.)
Tomeš (With his hand on his breast).—That was well aimed! (Falls; Dejm leaps toward him.)
Lída (Leaps toward Tomeš, in despair).—Wounded? Tomsi . . . (wringing her hands) then I can’t save you?
Lída (Cries out; kneeling at the left of Tomeš, turns toward Beauvalle).—That curse which fell upon me, may it eternally, eternally rest upon you . . . by me, and this poor youth whom you mercilessly killed, may you be everlastingly accursed! (Below is heard the fresh sound of trumpets.)
Voices below.—Troops! The soldiers! (The sound of drums and trumpets, then the screams of the people, as they flee, until all becomes quiet again.)
Beauvalle (With the smoking pistol in his hand, points to Lída)—Seize her! (The servants rush toward her.)
Lída.—I know of but one means of escape! Goodbye, Tomeš in a short time we will meet again! (Rushes through the crowd to the open window, and leaps out.)
Jordán (Who with Hopfling rushed to the window after her).—She was dead as soon as she struck the ground!
(Enter the Countess with Marie.)
Countess, Marie, Beauvalle, Dejm, Tomeš, Jordán, Hopfling, magistrate, the park keeper, Jan, servants, later the troops.
Marie (Sees Tomeš, seems at first to be paralyzed).—Tomsi, Tomsi! (Rushes toward him) Murdered!
Countess.—Count Beauvalle, what criminal committed this deed! (Kneels at the other side of Beauvalle.)
Beauvalle.—Isn’t he dead yet . . .
Tomeš.—Be at peace . . . I will be before long. (Rises and looks at Beauvalle) And I was prepared to do battle and die for you . . . and now at your hands I accept my death! (Sinks back) Dejm . . . Marie, my . . . I have finished the struggle! (He dies. Marie screams.)
Dejm (Approaching Beauvalle).—Beauvalle, this was murder . . . foul murder! Both you and I were far more to blame than this boy!
Jordán (To Dejm).—Count Dejm, others beside yourself are convinced of your guilt! (Draws out a long sheet.) By the power of this edict, you are now my prisoner!
Dejm (Surprised, composes himself at once).—Well then, here is my answer! (Draws a dagger.) Defend yourself! (Three soldiers with drawn swords step to the front, and face Dejm.)
Jordán (Calmly).—Give me your weapon! As a leader and arch rebel in this uprising, you are now deprived of your title and estates, and only by the mercy of the Empress, Marie Teresa, saved from a violent death. You are now sentenced to life-long imprisonment in the prison at Temesvár!
Dejm (Calmly).—I am even prepared for death! (Hands over his dagger. The soldiers take him in charge. As he passes the dead body of Tomeš, he pauses, looking down sadly.) Till we meet again, my dear brother and friend. Fate has been kinder to you than to myself. Only what a pity that with you and to your people is lost that freedom for which you died!
Jordán (Shrugging his shoulders).—It is not lost, Count. (To Beauvalle) Not for you, but for the people, I bring one gleam of joy! Her Majesty, the Empress, Marie Teresa has abolished serfdom and all servitude in her empire!
|Dejm||What are you saying?|
Jordán.—Our ruling Empress wishes to avoid further uprisings, such as are taking place here, and all over the Empire, among the people who desire their freedom. In a few days, unrepealable patents will be issued, which will accomplish the abolition of serfdom, and grant freedom to all the people!
Countess (Kneels beside Tomeš, and with feeling lifts his head).—Listen, you fallen hero, and if your soul is still present, be cheered once more! Fallen, you are yet victorious! Above you, from your blood, the freedom of your people has blossomed forth! Oh hero of a little wood hut, how glorious is your sorrowful ending!
This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.