# Poet Lore/Volume 36/Number 3/The Lantern

Poet Lore, vol. 36, Autumn number  (1925)
The Lantern
by Alois Jirásek, translated by

From the Czech original Lucerna (1905)

THE LANTERN

A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS

Authorized Translation from the Bohemian by Zdenka Buben and George Rapall Noyes

Verses by Dorothea Prall

NOTE

Alois Jirásek (born in 1851) is the most popular writer of recent years in Bohemia. His fame rests primarily on his historical novels, in some of which he treats the heroic past of his country in thesame patriotic spirit in which Sienkiewicz has glorified the old days of Poland, while in another he describes the struggle of the Bohemian people, in the early years of the nineteenth century, to revive its own language and culture. His dramas deal with similar themes. Thus in “Dobromila Rettig” (already translated in “Poet Lore,” volume xxxi, pages 475–537) he chooses for his heroine one of the pioneers of Bohemian literature during the beginnings of the national revival one hundred years ago. In “The Lantern,” which is by far his most popular drama, he turns back to “the days of old,” when the Bohemians were struggling desperately against German oppression, and weaves into his work the poetic beliefs that have kept alive the faith and courage of the Bohemian folk.

All Bohemian names are accented on the first syllable. An oblique stroke over a vowel, as in the name of the author above, indicates the long quantity of the vowel, not the accent of the word.

 CHARACTERS A Young Princess A Courtier A Magistrate A Miller [Libor] His Grandmother Hanička Zajiček, a teacher’s assistant ​ Braha, the miller’s workman Zima, ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\\\ \ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ street musicians Sejtko, Klásek, Dame Klásek, wife of Klásek Míchal, ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ water sprites Ivan, Roarer, Forest Sprite Franc A Bailiff Zan, a servant A Lady’s Maid Krouzilka ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ justices of the peace Votruba, Officials of the palace, a priest, justices of the peace, ladies in waiting, forest maidens. Time—the days of old. Place—a mill, a castle, a forest and a small forest castle.

ACT I

Tableau I

A white-washed room with log walls and a rough ceiling. In the rear, a door leading to a hall; on the left, one to the mill; near by in a corner, an oven adjoining a dark green stove. In the right corner, a table; near it, along the walls, a bench with a back. In a corner above the table, a case for books and papers, painted with flowers. To the right, a door leading into a living room. A window is open. It is summer; twilight.

Scene I

Miller, Grandmother

The Miller is seated at the table, writing on one of the pages sewed to an old chronicle. He stops suddenly, looks toward the door of the living room, rises, and slightly opens the door.)

Miller.—Grandmother, are you here?

Grandmother (From within).—Yes, is there something you wish?

Miller.—Come here, please, (He goes back, sits down, and picks up the pen again.)

Grandmother (Enters from the living room, a little old woman of eighty years, with white hair).—What is it, my boy, what is it?

Miller.—I should like you to explain this to me. I am adding to this chronicle here, that old prophecy as you relate it; I am putting it down, that it may be forever remembered. I was writing (he looks at the book as if quoting what he has written) of that war, when the northern nation will sweep down upon our land. And now—(he glances toward Grandmother). Grandmother, what next: what does the Sybil prophesy?

Grandmother.—That it will be a terrible war. (She stares, rapt in thought, and speaks earnestly, though without the pathos of prophecy. The Miller writes.)

Grandmother.—A terrible war, when blood will flow through the cradles, when old and young alike, and above all the common people, will regret living in the world. But, when the worst comes, say the Sybil and the Blind Youth, God will show mercy. Then the armies will station themselves between Blaník and Načeradec; and there the fight will begin  The battle will wage twelve days; on the thirteenth, an army will come to the rescue; it will be led by St. Václav, who will ride a white horse.[1] (She pauses a moment, then bending toward the Miller, who is still writing, she says more quietly) Write it down, write it, so that anyone reading it in anguish may be comforted. (She waits.)

Miller (Writes; then stops).—So—

Grandmother.—Anything else?

Miller.—For the present, this is all, Grandmother; just this, concerning that war.

Grandmother (With a smile).—Just as you wish, just as you wish. So, now I can go back to my work. (Returns to the living room.)

Miller reviews what he has written, and turns the pages.

Scene II

Bailiff, Braha, Miller

Bailiff enters from the hall.

Braha (Enters at same time from the mill, wearing a leather apron).—For whom are you looking?

Bailiff (Arrogantly).—The miller here.

Miller.—What do you want?

Bailiff.—I bring an order from the castle.

Braha (With a laugh).—An order—

Bailiff.—For you, miller, from the magistrate.

Miller.—An order for me? From the magistrate? Here in the mill his orders are of no account, you are not at a peasant’s nor a cottager’s, and serfdom does not frighten us here. I alone am master here.

Bailiff.—Why, I’m not saying anything concerning servitude or taxes, or the linden tree or even your suit in court. Nothing, but (with a burst impatience) the nobility will arrive soon; a courier has come, from the new Princess who has inherited the domain.

Miller.—Hm, so she is coming.

Bailiff.—She will be here for the first time; she has never before been on this estate, and so is taking a look at all the domains. She has already ridden over six, six estates; (he enumerates them) Vlkov, Livořice, Svojšin, Nedražice and Lažany; now she is at Březovice, and from there will come here to Lohová. That is why the magistrate is hustling and bustling about, that her welcome here may be a particularly royal one. At present, one order follows another around the domain. And he commanded me that for the welcome, you, miller, should ride on horseback to the castle; that your horse should be all adorned with flowers and banners in all splendor. You are to lead the peasants; they too are to be mounted. You will welcome My Lady Princess and—

Miller (Interrupting).—Indeed, I’ll not welcome her, because I’ll not ride anywhere. Must I welcome and glorify her because the authorities want to rob me of my linden tree, of my rights?

Bailiff (Amazed).—So! But the order commands—(He reflects.) That’s according to this first order.

Miller (Ironically).—Have you some more?

Bailiff.—Another, which demands that the young girl whom you have here in the mill, that ward—

(Braha winces).

Bailiff.—Should come as a lady in waiting; many such ladies are going, and that young girl who is here—

Miller.—Will likewise go nowhere!

Braha.—Just so! Will go nowhere!

Bailiff (Haughtily, to Braha).—What are you talking about? You keep still!

Braha.—I? I’d like you to understand that I, too, have something to say here. Hanička is mine, at least in part. I found her, I’d have you know, when I came back from war, from that terrible war; and I was in the firing line, too, and not behind a stove, like some one I know, and I was wounded, if you would like to know, you bringer of orders! Toward evening I was hobbling along, and there I found her in the open field, in a ditch near the road. It was autumn, at dusk, after a rain. It was chilly, clouds were drifting, and the wind whizzed so that it fairly blew my cloak off. And that baby girl lay in the ditch, shaking and shivering with cold. All had deserted her. The nobility rode by, the generals, captains, and the conquering army, and did nothing. They just pointed to her and even snickered. The foreign plague! And our people passed by, fled, prayed, and cried, and because of weeping, even because their very praying, failed to see her; they left her there and so I took her up; I could scarcely drag myself along, I picked her up like a little bird when a storm throws it out of its nest.

Miller.—Braha, why do you tell him all this?

Braha.—So he may understand that I have a claim to her, I—I—

Miller (To the Bailiff).—I have already said—

Bailiff.—So, shall I tell this to the magistrate? And this order—

Miller (Ignoring him, turns to Braha).—How is the repairing getting along?

Braha.—I just came to speak of that.

Bailiff (Interrupting).—Well then, miller——

Miller (With his back toward him, talking to Braha).—Will the wheel turn?

Braha.—Everything is as it should be; it will turn.

Bailiff (Louder).—Well then—

Miller (Ignoring him).—Braha, I’ll go with you to the mill.

Bailiff.—How about me? How about the order? (In a passion, threateningly).—But we still have the lantern, and when an order arrives concerning that lantern, then you will change your mind; you will obey, and obey well, like any tenant. That you will! (He leaves hurriedly.)

Braha (Shakes his fist after him).—O, you bringer of orders, you pest, brought in by the fog—

Scene III

Miller, Braha

Miller.—Leave him alone. But you certainly hurried with the repairs.

Braha.—I got angry, too, while I was at it. The pest!

Miller.—What now—

Braha.—A countryman. He stopped at my place before leaving and came out with the taunt, whether I hadn’t cleared my eyes with a drop of something. “You fool,” said I, “most certainly I did clear them. I cleared them, but here (points to his forehead) there is no fog, perfectly clear; I know what I’m saying, I don’t stutter like you, little country man.” That’s the way I fixed him. He won’t reproach me any more for taking a drop! You know, sir, without a drop, my eyes are not strong, nor my hand steady. But as soon as a drop warms me up, then I have a lucky eye, a lucky hand, then I swing the axe absolutely to perfection.

Scene IV

Grandmother, and the preceding

Grandmother enters from the living room, carrying a flower-pot in her right hand, and approaches the door leading to the hall.

Miller.—Where are you going, Grandmother?

Grandmother.—To the log cabin, to the porch, see! (Points to the flower-pot) Don’t you know? It is Thursday, and after sunset.

Miller.—Ah, you are taking that to the house sprite.

Grandmother.—So that he may bless our home. You would have forgotten.

Miller.—Hanička would have remembered. But where is she?

Grandmother.—She has gone to the hills for flowers and herbs.

Miller (Smiling).—She’ll certainly bring back a heap of things.

Grandmother.—And no doubt a wreath of thyme. She also hung this one up for you (pointing to a wreath of thyme hanging on the wall above the chronicle). But I must go. (Leaves by the door leading to the hall.)

Scene V

Miller, Braha

Braha.—Sire, take great care of Hanička!

Miller.—Why! Because of what the magistrate has ordered?

Braha.—No, but to guard against the water sprite. He is continually pacing around here, continually, the whole night long. The foreman in the mill also mentioned it; he roams around every night and does nothing but watch Hanička. He sighs, groans, begs, cries. Last night he wept the whole night long.

Miller.—Foolish fears!

Braha.—He will seek revenge on you, in the mill—

Miller.—That is why I must rid the place of him.

Braha.—Give me a bast rope, I’ll watch for the pest myself; you see, he comes for Hanička. And when I catch him, I’ll tie him here to the stove, so that he will dry out finely, and I’ll beat him so that he’ll soon grow tame and do anything.

Miller (Smiling).—In a dry place, without a drop, means to lose strength. You know that too, Braha, don’t you. Come! (Enters the mill.)

Braha.—Go ahead and laugh! Take care that you don’t feel sorry for this. (Follows the Miller.)

Scene VI

Hanička

Hanička (Singing in the hall).—

O love, thou fairest flower,
Where can men thee gather?

(Enters through the open door, singing more softly. Slips off her wooden shoes at the threshold and leaves them at the door. Her apron is filled with flowers and herbs.)

Not ’mid the garden blossoms,
Nor ’mid the fragrant heather.

(She stops, looks about, spies the open chronicle, hurries toward it, looks into it, then drops the flowers from her apron on the little bench by the stove, gathers a bunch of thyme and places sprays of it between several pages of the chronicle.)

There, the thyme goes nicely with the chronicle.

(Rapt in thought, she begins to sing, taking the wreath down from the wall.)

When first he knocks,
’Tis wood that sighs—

(Out in the hall a fiddle is heard accompanying her singing.)

Hanička sings on, not even turning around, and hangs a fresh wreath of thyme which she has brought with the flowers, in place of the faded one.)

When next he knocks,
My heart replies.

Scene VII

Zajíček, Hanička

Zajíček, fiddling away, enters from the hall, halts at the threshold, and continues to accompany her.

Hanička (Sings).—

At the third knock,
The wood doth speak.

(She stops suddenly, turns about to Zajíček, merrily saying.) Didn’t that go well!

Zajíček (Coming nearer). When I overheard you from without, Hanička, I simply had to join in; my fiddle leaped under my chin as if some one had thrust it there, and my bow into my hand. I just bubble over with joy when you sing! And even when you merely talk, I could do nothing but listen to you. Dornička also says you speak charmingly. When I’m with you, I feel at perfect ease; I’m somehow bolder, believe me, and my cares vanish. You—you are—(he strokes her shoulder) heavens, Hanička, how can I express myself—like a little sister—as sweet as a flower.

Hanička.—What do you say about the cares that are troubling you?

Zajíček.—O, dearest Hanička, if you only knew! Think of it! It is going on eight years already that I’ve been a teacher’s assistant, going on eight years, and I do want to be made a master so that my dearest Dornička may not have to wait any longer, so that we may be married. Going on eight years, Hanička, a teacher’s assistant! I can hardly save a thing any year, except what I make by playing and spinning. And if I worked in only one school! But no, I have to be in two! To run from one to the other, over fields, over hills, in the rain, in sleet, to have two principals over me, and what is worse than two principals, than rain and thunderbolts, is to have two principals’ wives, each more harsh-tempered than the other. The one would have me do nothing but continually chop wood and bring water; the other wants me to take care of the children all the time. And to sleep in an attic and eat at the big table with the peasants. That, my dear Hanička, is purgatory—purgatory, if not hell. However, I have written everything down, composed it, put it into rhyme.

Hanička.—But why—for whom?

Zajíček.—For the lady, the new lady, for the Princess who has inherited the domain. I have come to tell you that she will soon arrive. She comes for the first time and the head minister of the province with her.

Hanička.—Who is he?

Zajíček.—Her chief courtier; they say he has great influence with her. The magistrate is preparing a royal welcome and I (more quietly, mysteriously) the music, a concert in the palace. As soon as the princess arrives, we will strike up a fine tune, you know; I, Sejtko, Zima, Klásek. Klásek has already been to see me, but please don’t mention it, I beg of you!

Hanička.—And that composition—that petition—

Zajíček.—That I shall present nicely after the concert. In it I explain everything, that I am but a young teacher’s assistant, and a first class clarinet-player, a piper, a bugler, and violincellist, besides being an organist and even a composer in some small things. (Suddenly he puts down the fiddle, searches around in his coat, and pulls out the petition.) But that you may see it, here it is; listen to what I have written to My Lady Princess. (Reads.)

Consider me a hen that’s owned by you,
Possessed of chickens numbering eighty-two;
Thirty-four are in a hawthorne coop,
Forty-eight in a beechwood one I group;
Three days upon the hawthorne nest I brood,
Another three on the one of beechwood,
Not even at night dare I rest and recuperate,
Spinning past twelve at tasks I vituperate.

Zajíček.—Why, a rock would soften, so movingly do I pray and plead. (Reads on.)

But as a hen has faith in her own chicks,

My faith to you, My Gracious Lady, sticks.
Humble am I at all times, and obedient
To you, Princess, not only when expedient.
Josef Zajíček, who was born in Lhota,
In the mountains of Jestřáb living out his quota,
In Bukovic, has penned you this petition;
Disclosing all his poverty-poor position;
The date, it being the thirtieth of June,
When into my window shone the evening moon.

Hanička has become sorrowful because of the recitation, and gazes thoughtfully at Zajíček.)

Zajíček (Taken aback).—Good Lord, Hanička, you say nothing, but just stare.

Hanička.—I am sorry for you, because you stoop and humiliate yourself so humbly.

Zajíček.—Since I must! Think, just think, Hanička, there is a teacher’s position open in the town. If I could get it, I should also be choir master! Just think, I should sit at the organ of the parish church, direct the choir! Heavens, what joy! And it would pay, too; fine salary and wages, several cords of wood, gifts, and the stole will provide surplice fees in money. Why, I could marry Dornička immediately, just think, at that very instant! And in time, I could procure a spinning wheel. Heavens, what a living I could make! That’s why I plead, that’s why I bow down so humbly. How many times have I had to do so for nothing. And before whom do I bow—before mere fools! But I say: What can I do, how can I help myself? And I rejoice that I really am different and I forget their stupid pride; particularly when I play, when the music just carries me away, and I become inwardly comforted, as when the weather clears up beautifully. And even when I do not play, but just sit about in the evenings, or even in the night, when I hear beautiful music, I actually hear in my heart and soul a strange, beautiful——Do you understand me?

Hanička.—I do.

Zajíček (Is disturbed).—I hear it. I hear it! If only I could grasp it, grasp it!

Scene VIII

Miller, Zajíček, Hanička

Miller appears unobserved in the doorway of the mill.

Zajíček.—But sometimes, when they gaze at me as if from a high choir, and particularly when they express pity for me, but in reality have no feelings except of pleasure and satisfaction that they are in better circumstances themselves; when I must cower—then something within me cries out and rises in stormy revolt.

Miller (With a smile).—But not aloud; it is a quiet storm.

Zajíček (Surprised).—Well, well, but if it should come to the worst—well—but what is the use, what good does it do!

Miller (Stands near the flowers).—You certainly have picked enough, Hanička. (Glances at the wall; the wreath pleasantly surprises him.) And she actually (moving towards it) has fashioned a fresh wreath. Where is the faded one?

Hanička.—Here it is, among the flowers; I’ll throw it into the fire (filing her apron with the flowers) and take the herbs to Grandmother’s room. I have not been there for some time. Grandmother guards her room as if it were a treasure.

Miller (Teasingly).—Shall you take the thyme with you, too?

Hanička.—Oh, I have already hidden that. (While leaving.) But I can’t tell how you will bless me when you find out where. (Leaves hurriedly through the door leading to the hall.)

Scene IX

Miller, Zajíček, later Dame Klásek

Zajíček (As Hanička leaves).—How like a swallow!

Miller.—What have you brought us, Joseph?

Zajíček.—News.

Miller.—O, I know.

Dame Klásek (From the hall).—He is not here? (On the threshold.) He is not here? He is not—

Miller.—Your husband? He is not here.

Dame Klásek.—Aha, you assistant! (Enters.) So he is not here. (Addressing Zajíček with assurance.) Was he with you?

Zajíček (Perplexed).—Klásek?

Dame Klásek (Without waiting, rapidly). I suppose not! Just say “No.” Well-indeed “No.” O, I knew it. He said he would just drop in at the mill to ask about the grinding; whether you people would not grind up that little bit for us. Suddenly this brilliant idea, suddenly so much anxiety about grinding! No doubt he received some message while I was in the garden. I had hardly taken a glance around the garden when that message must have arrived. He left his loom and went to dress himself.

Zajíček (Uncertainly).—So I—

Dame Klásek.—Be quiet, you only want to help him out of his fix. Indeed not, I know all about that grinding. And to go to inquire at the mill with a clarinet! Indeed I saw very well how he stuck the clarinet under his coat like a thief! To be sure, to the mill with a clarinet! Perhaps he’ll stand by the flour bin and play!

Zajíček.—But we are going to play together at my house.

Dame Klásek.—Play together! Just where are you playing? You here, and where is he, my husband, where is he playing, where the roaming tom cat! But I’ll tell you-no, not I, but some one else.

Miller—Who?

Dame Klásek (Pulls out playing cards). These.

Miller (Merrily). The cards!

Dame Klásek.—Laugh away. Cards tell the gospel truth, they won’t lie. (Shuffles them.) I ask them every time when my husband disappears from home for a spree, and each time—

Miller.—What do they predict?

Dame Klásek.—Always the same—always; that is inevitable—because my husband has the same inclination each time. They predict that his thoughts are elsewhere, and that is true; that a certain person of feminine gender tempts him away, and that she does. (Hurriedly looks through the cards.) This is the card; this one says that that female has crossed my path. That, too, is the absolute truth, she did cross my path, that Zemánek woman, the little widow.

Miller (Rebukingly).—Are you sure of that?

Dame Klásek.—I positively know that my husband would court elsewhere, would seek elsewhere, what he already has at home. Why, am I just an old hag, some witch—some?

Miller.—And you have not caught him at any time?

Dame Klásek.—Wouldn’t that be lovely! That would be too much! It’s enough that the card says so.

Zajíček.—He was at my place, and he left for the castle on the business of that welcoming.

Dame Klásek.—I will give him a welcome, too, the rascal.

Miller.—Dame Klásek, you are always croaking like a raven.

Scene X

Braha and the preceding

Braha (In the door of the mill, excitedly).—Sir, sir, he is here!

Miller.—Who?

Braha.—The water man, the water sprite!

 Zajíček ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left\{{\begin{matrix}\ \\\\\ \\\ \ \end{matrix}}\right.}}$ The water sprite! Dame Klásek

Braha.—We turned on the wheel and everything went as if greased, you saw it; and now all at once the wheel has stopped and won’t move; and everything about it is in perfect condition, but the water sprite twinkles behind it, red cap, green coat and buttons glittering like gold. I saw him, it was he, the water goblin. I told you he would have his revenge for Hanička.

Dame Klásek.—What, he too is hovering about! Because of Hanička? Another such tom cat?

Miller.—Come.

Braha.—Take a bast rope.

Miller.—I’ll chase him away, even without a rope. (Hastens into the mill. Braha follows.)

Dame Klásek (To Zajícek).—Let’s go see. (Hastens into the mill. Zajícek follows her, halts at the door, however, waits a moment, then leaves by the hall door.)

The stage is empty for a moment.

Scene XI

Hanička, later Grandmother

Hanička, hiding a rather large old wooden lantern behind her, stands at the hall door, looks about, then enters rapidly, sets the lantern on the table, examines it, opens the small door, closes it, suddenly listens, rapidly places the lantern on the seat near the stove, and steps in front of it, facing the hall door through which Grandmother enters.

Grandmother.—Alone? And without herbs, without flowers? (Glances at the wall.) Ah, a wreath.

Hanička.—The herbs are already on the floor in the little room.

Grandmother.—Why did you not wait? Who knows how you put them away.

Hanička.—O, very well, you can see for yourself.

Grandmother.—It is twilight in there by now.

Hanička.—Don’t you want to go with a lantern?

Grandmother.—Who would go about now with a lantern!

Hanička.—I would, at once. I like the lantern.

Grandmother.—It’s light, it cheers one. It is gloomy in the dark; the night is sad, the mother of all sorts of deeds. It has its own power and its own rights.

Hanička (More quietly). It is the queen of the spirits and they are its servants.

Grandmother.—The queen of the spirits and good to nobody. That is why the light cheers one, particularly when one wanders through the wide fields in the autumn evenings, and when from the lantern on the pole a little light pierces the darkness as a wagon rattles along the deserted street.

Hanička.—And it is still gayer in winter when everything is covered with snow in the evening, when the young girls run to the spinning and light the way with lanterns.

Grandmother.—But the little light is sad when they carry it ahead of a priest on his way to a sick man, when death is already waiting.

Pause.

Hanička (Suddenly).—And I like the lantern, Grandmother, even in the daytime, without a light.

Grandmother.—Well, well! And why?

Hanička.—Because of all the things I saw in it, when it stood before me and its glass walls glittered! That was a little glass room, my glass castle. And in it was a beautiful little princess and a handsome prince—I saw them; and his courtiers were there, gentlemen and ladies in embroidered dresses; everything on them glittered with gold and precious stones, everything just blazed forth in that glass palace. (Steps backward towards the stove.) And today I was in it again. It stood in a grove in a wealth of blossoms. Around it was a thicket of motherwort, gold mullein and blue helmet flower and cowslip, peonies and marvellous herbs. Everything around was fragrant with camomile and thyme, and the glass castle stood in this, all alone, deserted, dusty—

Grandmother (Gazes at her questioningly).—A glass castle?

Hanička.—On the floor in the little room, Grandmother, here. (Takes lantern and approaches Grandmother with it.) Here it is. (Lifts it to the window in which a red sky is glowing.) Look, they have put the lights on; see, the prince has come for the princess!

Grandmother.—Child, what have you done?

Hanička (Surprised).—What?

Grandmother.—That is the very lantern.—Did Libor see it? Does he know about it? Has he seen it?

Hanička.—He knows nothing. He has not seen me. Why, would he be displeased at the sight of it? O, that’s why it stood hidden in the herbs and buried in the flowers!

Grandmother.—Take care that he does not catch sight of it. You should not have brought it down.

Hanička.—Why? What would that lantern—?

Grandmother.—Merely a piece of glass and wood, and yet it is a heavy burden on our old mill. In the village and everywhere, and throughout the domain, they sigh in servitude, and a terrible nightmare—serfdom—smothers every one. Only our mill was and has been free since any one can remember. But during the time of Libor’s grandfather, no one knows how, but certainly through injustice, the nobility eventually did rob him of this freedom. Grandfather and my deceased husband, too, defended themselves in vain to rid themselves of this burden.

Hanička.—What burden?

Grandmother.—They assigned this duty to us: if the nobility of this estate finds it a pleasure or takes a notion to pass here, from the mill to the old forest beyond the water, to the little castle near the lake, be it during a hunt or any other time, be it at high noon or at midnight itself, every time we from the mill must light the way for them.

Hanička.—Who?—And with this lantern?

Grandmother.—With this lantern, and the landlord himself must do it. He must carry it ahead of the nobles, though he is a squire on his own land, and must even walk with the serfs from the village. He must light the way for the nobles as far as the living boundary line, the old linden tree in the meadow by the forest, there where at one time a church stood, years ago.

Hanička (Gazes at the lantern).—O, the ugly lantern—(Suddenly.) And Grandmother, it is said that under the old linden there is a treasure.

Grandmother.—A costly treasure, a precious crown. (Becomes sorrowful.) Probably because of it the lords have coveted the old linden, too. They took grandfather’s freedom away from him and want to seize the grandson’s property and rights—

Scene XII

Klásek, Hanička, Grandmother

Klásek (Carries a clarinet under his arm).—Good day! (He stops and looks around.)

Haníčka (Rapidly carrying the lantern away and placing it on the bench near the stove).—Klásek, are you looking for any one?

Klásek.—Why, yes, for the assistant. I thought he was here. He said for me to run up to the castle and inquire.

Hanička.—He was here, but he has left.

Klásek.—Well, then, I’ll go after him. (Turns around.)

Grandmpther.—And your wife was seeking you here.

Klásek (Stops in fear).—Me?

Grandmother.—And out of temper, too. I saw her from my room and she was already angrily looking for you outside.

Klásek.—That can’t be true, good heavens, no, that she should be angry—she never gets angry! Why, I have an exceedingly kind wife. Fifteen years, and maybe more than that, we are married, and we have yet to see a quarrel.

Scene XIII

Dame Klásek, Miller following directly, Braha, Klásek, Hanička, Grandmother

Dame Klásek stands unnoticed in the door of the mill.

Klásek.—Why, when I say: “Mama, water runs up hill,” she agrees: “It does, Papa, it does.” We say “Papa” and “Mama,” you know, all the time; if I should say—

Dame Klásek (Crying out angrily).—What—what—if you should say what? You rascal—(Klásek hurriedly hides the clarinet under his coat.) Well, what would you say? speak, Speak, you wandering tom cat, just say where you’ve been, where you’ve been loafing and hanging around. And what do you want here—here—what—what—?

Klásek.—O, but Kate, dear, I was at the assistant’s, at Zajíček’s house, and then at the castle.

Dame Klásek.—At the widow’s, you mean, don’t you!

Klásek.—At the castle, wife, my jewel, no place else. From school straight there and again straight to school and again from school straight here; not a step to the right or left, not a movement of an eye either to right or left.

Dame Klásek.—And why come here, why here—

Klásek.—For the assistant and also—also about that grinding.

Dame Klásek.—We’ll attend to that at home.

Miller. Well, Dame Klásek, you’re far harder to subdue than a water sprite. (To Grandmother.) He was here a while ago, stopped the mill wheel, hovered around—

Hanička.—Again?

Grandmother.—Did you see him?

Braha.—I did, and saw him well.

Scene XIV

Zajíček and the preceding

Zajíček (To Klásek).—Here you are!

Hanička unobserved carries the lantern to the right into the room and returns immediately.

Klásek.—We are chasing each other.

Zajíček (To Miller).—Sir, company is coming for you.

Miller (With a smile).—Surely, not the bailiff again?

Zajíček.—O, no. The magistrate himself. I met him, greeted him pleasantly, was about to go on, and then he, the magistrate, calls out: “Wait a bit, teacher, where are you going?” I replied, “With your kind permission, I’m on my way to the mill.”

Miller (With a smile).—No doubt he answered: (mimicking the magistrate) “To the mill? What does a teacher want there! He has nothing to grind, so what does he want with a miller?” He is that sort of a scoundrel. Is it not so, Zajíček; that’s the way he spoke, wasn’t it?

Zajíček (Surprised).—Upon my word, how did you know, sir—?

Scene XV

Magistrate, and the preceding

The Magistrate stands in the doorway and looks about. Zajček observes him with fear and steps backward towards the door.

Magistrate.—Was the bailiff here?

Miller.—He was, and he delivered the message.

Magistrate.—And you—?

Miller.—The bailiff no doubt gave that message also.

Magistrate.—If he gave the message correctly, it would amount to a rebellion on your part, miller. What would those above say! Now I repeat, I, the magistrate, and command, that to welcome Her Highness, you will ride out on horseback, and you will welcome her with congratulations—

Miller (Interrupting).—I will not ride out and I will not welcome her with congratulations—that’s my refusal. Because you want to cut down my old linden and take its plot of ground, because I am forced to defend my own property and ancient rights, for this should I be obliged to—?

Magistrate.—Rights! Rights! Ancient rights! For that very reason, because they are so ancient, they are worthless now. And as for the rest, rights or no rights, those from above gave me the orders and that is sufficient. And I should advise you that you do not go to court, that you give in—or what will you gain, what will you accomplish? Just give in, and forget what you call your rights.

Miller.—Forget? To forget my own good old rights? Whosoever forgets the blow with which they strike him remains a beaten dog, and whosoever forgets his own rights, let him be a servant, a slave! And you, if you had not forgotten from what you sprang, that you are of our blood—

Magistrate.—Silence! What boldness! Remember, sir, that I am fulfilling my duty; that is all. Then you will not go?

Miller.—No.

Magistrate.—You will not welcome her?

Miller.—No.

Magistrate.—But this young girl will go as a lady in waiting. Here you cannot defend yourself with any rights. She is an orphan and is the property of the nobility.

Miller.—But she is not from this estate.

Braha.—She certainly isn’t, no. I found her, I brought her here. They put us out everywhere; only here, in the mill, they took pity and received the orphan, the blessed child, as one of their own.

Magistrate.—But that is why she does not belong to them. (To Hanička.) You will dress yourself and come.

Hanička.—O, you will have a long wait!

Miller.—And even if she wanted to go, I should not let her.

Magistrate.—You madman! Don’t pretend you are a country gentleman. You are one of the subject classes and have your duties. And do not forget—(majestically, sternly) Down with the lantern and out with it above the door!

The moon begins to shine into the room.

Miller.—I’ll break it.

Zajíček becomes frightened and slips through the door into the hallway. Klásek, who has been observing, looks around for his wife and slips out quietly after Zajíček. Dame Klásek, listening to the dispute, does not immediately notice this.

Magistrate.—But not your obligation. Why, the nobility itself would have to break the lantern, and, ha ha, you’ll wait long enough for that. (Harshly.) Out with the lantern, over the door!

Miller.—When the nobility is here. Not sooner!

Magistrate.—That will be soon. And soon you will hear more, too. (He leaves.)

Dame Klásek.—He surely is a crow, sir. That sort of person is needed for my—(looks about for her husband) Ah!—Why, where—? Well, just you wait! (Leaves rapidly.)

Scene XVI

Miller, Grandmother, Braha, Hanička

Braha.—Those palace scamps, brought in from the fog, thrown out in the ditch of nothingness!

Grandmother.—What now?

Miller.—Defend ourselves.

Grandmother.—And on top of it all, the water sprite.

Braha.—Today I’m going to keep night watch, and if that green pest dares to—(Goes into the mill.)

Scene XVII

Miller, Grandmother, Hanička

Miller (With a smile).—Are you not afraid, Hanička?

Hanička (Confidently).—No, I’mnot.

Grandmother (Continually rapt in thought).—The little spirit of the water mill will give me no peace. A peculiar fear is seizing me, as once in the forest in a lonely spot. (Reflects for a while until she comes to a decision.) I will take Braha the motherwort, in any case.

Miller.—I hardly think it necessary. (Points to a cupboard above the table.) I have a bast rope here.

Grandmother.—That will be good here, but for the mill we’ll have motherwort. (Goes into the mill.)

Scene XVIII

Hanička, Miller, later the water sprite, Míchal

Hanička.—Why is Grandmother so alarmed?

Miller.—And today in particular I think neither the motherwort nor the bast rope will be necessary. (While talking, he has put the pen and ink into the corner cupboard and is about to carry off the chronicle. As he is closing it he catches a glimpse of sprigs of thyme. He quickly places the chronicle book on the table again and bends towards it.)

Hanička stands beside him. Míchal, the water sprite, takes his place unnoticed by the open window, then suddenly seats himself on the window, gazing longingly at Hanička.

Miller (Turning the pages of the chronicle).— O, thyme. Here’s a sprig, here are several sprigs, and here and here.—Hanička—

Hanička.—Now you know where I hid the thyme. It will breathe upon you from of the chronicle; will give out fragrance.

Miller.—And through that fragrance I shall think of you, you, my sprig of thyme. (As they bend over the book, he places his hand on her shoulder.) I will not give you up, they shall not even dare to touch you. (Míchal gives a deep sigh. Hanička turns around and screams faintly.) You! O, you evil spirit! (Raises his arm as if about to strike the water sprite.)

Míchal (Frowns at him angrily).—Well, come on, then!

Scene XIX

Grandmother and the preceding

Grandmother (Enters from the little room, carrying several twigs of motherwort).—Here is some motherwort. Ah! (Hanička nestles up to her.)

Míchal (Defiantly).—Come on!

Miller.—Just a minute! (Springs tot he cupboard for the rope.)

Míchal (Longingly).—Hanička! Little sunbeam!

Miller (With the rope in his hands).—I’m coming! (Chases after the water sprite.)

Míchal.—I’ll come again, though. (Vanishes from the window. A slight rattling is heard, then a splash.

A momentary silence

Miller (Closing the window).—He’ll be quiet for the rest of the day.

Grandmother.—Yes, he will; but tomorrow come the gentle folk.

Hanička.—You will not give up?

Miller (With a smile).—No. (Then, fervently and with determination.) Not you, at any cost!

Tableau II

A hall in the Palace. Main entrance in the rear. To the left of it an armchair under a canopy. Several steps lead to it. A door on both the right and left.

Scene I

Magistrate, Franc

Magistrate (In holiday clothes).—So everything is as it should be for the reception.

Franc.—If you please, sir, it is; but the gardener told me that he noticed strangers in the park, a gentleman with a lady, probably of the aristocracy.

Magistrate.—The gardener probably cannot see straight; who knows what he saw?

Franc.—He did see, if you please, sir, and he also saw the couple drive up to the rear gate in the park and walk directly into the park, and the gardener also said that perhaps they are some visitors who arrived before the nobility.

Magistrate.—Then why did he not question them?

Franc.—If you please, sir, he said he wanted to, but they escaped him down a path.

Magistrate.—And he was not quick enough. Company, hm—let them wait. We do not know anything about them, they did not report to us, did not announce themselves to us, for that reason we know nothing about them; but anyhow, Franc, who knows what they are? Yet they ought to be watched.

Franc.—If you please, sir, I have already sent old Zan after them.

Magistrate.—Then what is there to keep me here? Then everything is in readiness for the reception?

Franc.—If you please, sir, everything is as it should be; there are pine branches, decorations, everywhere; flowers, maypoles, horses, the bodyguard, ladies in waiting, nothing but decorations, nothing but flowers everywhere.

Magistrate. Has everybody arrived from all the villages?

Franc.—Everybody, sir; they are all assembled in the courtyard, everybody, except—

Magistrate (Frowning).—Except that miller. And how about that girl of his?

Franc.—If you please, sir, she also failed to come.

Magistrate.—What did they do about the welcoming speech? To whom was it given?

Franc.—If you please, sir, that Slavonian justice of the peace would not take it, saying he should not be able to remember it.

Magistrate.—The dunce!

Franc.—So I gave it to Justice of the Peace Krouzilka.

Magistrate.—Good gracious, what have you done!

Franc.—If you please sir, he has great self-confidence.

Magistrate.—But he stutters.

Franc.—He does, sir, but when he takes pains, one can understand him.

Magistrate.—But if he spoils it! (Threateningly) Franc! (Suddenly.) How about the bodyguard? Did you send them to announce the fact, when they see that the nobility is approaching?

Franc.—They have just ridden off.

Magistrate.—What, only just now?

Franc.—If you please, sir, the nobility will leave Březovice at ten o’clock, according to the official report received in the office, and will arrive here at eleven o’clock. And then, sir, there are mortars on Hurce; there too they will give the signal.

Magistrate (Looks at his watch).—Well, that is true; there will be plenty of time if we ride out to meet them in half an hour, a short half-hour.

Magistrate.—Well, then, have another look at the hills and give orders to the justices of the peace—no, never mind, I will give orders to them myself. I have the responsibility for the heights, one cannot depend upon you.

Magistrate.—Then go, bring the justices of the peace. (Franc bows and leaves).

Scene II

Magistrate, later Franc and Justice of the Peace

Magistrate. (Carefully looks about him, pulls a paper out of his breasts pocket, takes a pinch of snuff, unfolds the paper, reads; then begins walking up and down, speaks in a low tone, repeats to himself from the paper, finally places it on a table near the wall and picks up his hat from the same table. With his hat in his left hand, he stations himself in front of the chair under the canopy, bows profoundly, and begins).—Most serene, most gracious lady of highest station, our Princess! The long eagerly anticipated day has come (Pauses, having forgotten how to continue; is about to reach for the paper on the table, but again steps before the throne and begins.) The long eagerly anticipated day has come for us— [Franc enters and gazes in surprise at the Magistrate. Justices of the Peace, enter behind Franc, perplexed and smiling. The Magistrate stops abruptly and hurriedly removes the paper from the table.) What—what are you—O! (Haughtily draws himself up.) I sent for you. I wish to inform you that I order and demand that each one of you charge your people, whether foot soldiers or cavalrymen, in what manner they are to station themselves in rows at the welcoming ceremony; that every one, be he short or tall, of masculine or feminine gender, menials or maids of honor—should, when the nobility is arriving—You there, Votruba, in the rear—what are you laughing at?—I repeat, I command that you cry out, or rather shout, at her entrance, “Vivat!” Let every one shout, “Vivat! Vivat!” and the bailiff will correct with the hazel stick anyone who does not do so; and the chief officer here, together with his subordinates, will keep watch; whosoever may prove to be a rebel, they will—Votruba, I’ll have you locked up; you are grinning again. So have everybody shout with all their might, joyfully, happily, “Vivat!”

Votruba (With a feeble voice).—Vivat!

Magistrate (Angered).—Votruba! (To Franc) Don’t forget him; he is a rebel, shut him up in jail, but not until after the ceremony. (To the Justices of the Peace.) Did you understand? Joyfully, “Vivat!”

Justices of the Peace.—We understand. We beg most humbly, we understood.

Magistrate (Haughtily).—Now go, and do as I told you.

Justices of the Peace bow and leave.

Magistrate.—Franc, wait a bit.

Scene III

Magistrate, Franc

Magistrate.—Of course you know that I shall be the first to welcome the Princess. I, the first, and that is no small matter. First, one is obliged to have literary ability and then to know how to conduct oneself. Just imagine, if you had to stand before Her Highness and make an address; your knees certainly would shake.

Franc.—Indeed, sir, they certainly would.

Magistrate—Well, then, I have the speech polished up, but it is a trifle too long; so, in order that I may be certain; you know, (abruptly) we will go over it. (Hands him the paper.) I will recite it and you must see that I omit nothing. So then, ready! (Stands facing him.) First of all, and before anything else, a bow, of course, (but he does not make it) and then: “Most serene, most gracious lady of highest station, our Princess! The long anticipated—

Magistrate (Vexed).—What “eagerly”?

Franc.—If you please, sir, it follows the word “long.”

Magistrate (Angered).—Don’t I know it? Why, I’ve said it already. So then: “eagerly anticipated day”—

Franc.—If you please, sir, I beg pardon.

Magistrate.—Don’t confuse me any more.

A rapping is heard at the door.

Scene IV

Zajíček, followed by Klásek, Sejtko, Zima, and the preceding

Zajíček holds his clarinet. The petition projects from his pocket. He bows profoundly.

Magistrate.—What is this? How dare you! Who let him in? And those people over there—?

Zajíček—Most noble, gracious magistrate, to your Honor I humbly do not deny that I have been a teacher’s assistant at Lohovice and likewise at Bukovice for eight years, as well as a leading clarinet player—

Magistrate.—Be still. In short, what do you want?

Zajíček.—I would humbly request that you be kind enough to remember me as an applicant for the position of school teacher in the village—

Magistrate.—Good heavens, man, now—at this time! Are you crazy? Now, when the Princess— Zajíček.—For that very reason, I humbly request. That is why Sejtko here—

Sejtko, a middle-aged man with a full, red face, holds a hunter’s horn and is bowing.

Zajíček.—And Zima—

Zima, an old man, also holding a hunter’s horn, is bowing.

Zajíček.—And Klásek here—

Klásek, clarinet in hand, is bowing.

Zajíček.—We should be pleased to give a concert. If you would deign to say but one word—

Magistrate.—I have already spoken; nothing now, nothing now. And do not detain me.

Zajíček.—And this petition—(Pulls it out of his pocket.)

Magistrate.—A petition too! Man alive!

A report from a mortar without.

Magistrate is frightened.

Franc (Frightened, is silent for a moment, then bursts forth).—Good Lord, they are coming! (Runs out through the main entrance.

Magistrate (Calls after him).— Are you crazy? That is impossible! And even if they did! If they did leave earlier—Herr Gott—we here and none to meet them; what will they say up in the castle. (Goes toward the window.) But that scamp, Franc—(Opens the window.) What’s the matter? (A clamor without.) She is coming? (Voices without answer.) Really? (Voices answer.)

Magistrate (Turns away from the window).—She is coming! They left earlier! As if to spite us! That is a blow. Herr Gott! What can be done? (Sticks the paper into his pocket, takes his hat.)

A report from a mortar, a second one immediately following.

Magistrate.—It is true! (Is about to leave.)

Franc (Returns, gasping for breath).—If you please, sir, she is coming; the Princess is arriving.

Magistrate (Bursts forth at him).—Get out of here then! Herr Gott! (Stumbles out.)

Scene V

Franc and the preceding with the exception of the Magistrate

Franc (Gazes after the Magistrate, then turns around toward Zajíček and the musicians; then haughtily, threateningly, bursts forth at them).—You are to blame for this, you detained us, you enraged him, you, you—But just you wait! Herr Gott! (Dashes out.)

Scene VI

The same, without Franc

Sejtko.—I say, who is to cool our heartburn now?

Klásek.—Lord, our mother would—

Zima (Mysteriously, knowingly).—According to my powers of reasoning, it seems to me from what I should observe, and do observe, that nothing will come of our concert.

Zajíček.—How disgusting! And my petition—My most beloved Dornička!

A report from a mortar.

Sejtko.—Come, my dear people, come! (Steps out.)

Zajíček.—Come, come! (Follows Sejtko.)

For an instant the stage is empty. Outside is heard an uproar, the sound of many voices.

Scene VII

The Princess, a Courtier, old Zan

Princess (Enters from the left. Addressss the Courtier merrily).—We seem to have arrived extremely early.

Courtier (Solemnly).—In due time, Your Grace. (To Zan.) You may go.

Princess.—But do not announce immediately that we are here. Wait until the coach has arrived.

Zan.—Your Grace, permit me to say that I, an old servant, remember how we welcomed His Grace, the deceased grandfather of Your Grace. And now, such a welcome—

Princess (Kindly).—You have already welcomed me, and I now do as I have bidden.

Zan leaves through the main entrance.

Scene VIII

The Princess, the Courtier

Princess.—You are more pessimistic each day, my dear count.

Courtier (With hidden reserve).—It is a pity that I cannot be happier as time goes on.

Princess.—So it is with me. And I ought to be most grave and dignified at this very instant, because I am arriving among my subjects (points to the window) and shall ride between lines of them. O, this is the seventh time in two weeks!

Courtier.—It must be so, since you decided to come here.

Princess.—But who ever expected this, who could stand this? So many boisterous welcomes, shooting and trumpeting, so much celebrating, so many speeches, and so much nonsense! (Points to the armchair.) See, they have adorned it already. To sit there again, for the seventh time, to listen—(Suddenly.) Please sit down there—

Courtier.—I? How could that be possible!

Princess.—Only now, for a short while. (Pressingly, lovingly.) Do sit down, quickly. (Urges him into the armchair.)

Princess.—Sit down and be still!

Courtier seats himself.

Princess (Stations herself in front of him, bows and begins).—Most noble, highborn—

Princess.—Be seated! (Continues.) The eagerly anticipated day—(Merrily) Do you recall that?

Courtier (Stands up).—Yes, indeed, but—

Princess.—You cannot bear to listen to it even for a little while? And I have had to sit like that six times already, and O, how long, how long each time! And today to listen to that speech again, the same thing everywhere, endless, hopelessly boresome, and to respond to it each time, and continually the same thing; and to be careful not to get confused and not to abash those who are congratulating me! (Affectedly pathetic.) Step down from the throne! It is said to be such a burden. So you were not comfortable on it; and I must mount it for the seventh time.

Courtier.—You desired to come here—

Princess.—Here, yes, away, away! Yes, away from the city, from that tiring, enchanted circle of ennui, where day after day there is nothing but entertaining, theatres, pastoral plays, revelry, tournaments, fire works, gossiping, intrigues; and everything so polished, so artificial; falsehood and dagger thrusts all bedecked, garlanded, of saccharine sweetness, versified, distasteful speech dressed up in superficial array. And instead of a soul, wit; instead of ardor and spirit, gallantry prevails.

Courtier.—Society has its own laws. The higher a person is—

Princess.—The more in fetters he is. And I have longed for freedom and sought it here far away from the city.

Courtier.—Is true, entire freedom possible?

Princess.—If there were at least a change here! But one tiresome thing after another. It takes forever for a day to pass. It tortures me, tortures me. O, how I anticipated this, and how I looked forward to it! Instead of freshness and vigor, instead of naive friendliness, only bent necks and curved backs. I was eager for unpainted cheeks, for honest, bright faces, and instead I could hardly look any one in the face because of their continual bowing. Bows, bows, bows! And when I did catch a glimpse of a face, it had the expression of bland terror or the light of servile, saccharine devotion.

Courtier.—Such are the people here. What did you expect?

Princess (Teasingly).—Perhaps some Daphnis.

Princess.—And you some Chloe.

Courtier.—Your Grace I know what my station requires, what my dignity and perhaps even—my age. I am not one of those who yearn to visit the grove of Cythera, to adorn the altar of Cupid and to dream—

Princess.—O sweet heure du berger! (Sighs.) No Daphnis has appeared to me here as yet.

A report from a mortar, another immediately following.

Courtier.—Do you hear?

Princess.—I am arriving.

Courtier.—I will watch. (Stands near the window.)

Princess.—O, I will tell you about it myself from here. (Standing in the centre of the hall, describing wittily.) I am just passing through the ranks, a row on the right, a row on the left, two rows of bowed backs.

Courtier (Points to the throne).—But there you must seat yourself, Your Grace, though it be the seventh time.

Princess.—No.

Courtier.—Your Grace, it must be so. There you must accept the oath of allegiance, and the laws from the justices of the peace, and return them, sanctioned officially.

Princess.—And listen to speeches again—O!

Trumpet from without.

Princess (Clasps her hands).—I have arrived! I am here, they are welcoming me, ha, ha—an empty coach! Now—

Courtier.—But they already know about you, too. They are looking in this direction. Be good enough to show yourself to them at the window. (Urgingly.) Please, Your Grace!

Princess.—To appear at the window? That is something new. Yes. (Stations herself at the open window.)

From without: Vivat! Vivat!

Princess smiles.

Courtier.—Be good enough to wave to them.

Princess.—It is not necessary. That red turkeycock over there surely must be the magistrate; he is giving them the signal. You will soon hear, “Vivat.” Now!

From without: Vivat! Vivat!

Princess (To the Courtier).—Do you hear the enthusiasm and love? I must wave to them for that.

A trumpet from without, then: Vivat!

Princess.—And now the deluge!

Courtier (Looking out).—The masses are moving. Your Grace, be good enough to be seated. There is no way out of it.

Princess.—You will see that there is. (Seats herself on the throne beneath the canopy.)

Courtier stations himself at her side below the throne.

Scene IX

Magistrate, foresters, revenue officers, tax collectors, coachmen, a priest, Franc, Krouzilka, justices of the peace, a maid of honor with a bouquet, flower girls.

Magistrate (Downcast, sweating, handkerchief in hand, enters, giving orders to Franc in a low voice, but with a disturbed manner).—Franc, arrange that—guard of honor., (To the officers.) Follow me. (Walks, bowing, to the throne.)

Officers, and priest, bowing deeply, step to the right and left, in front of the throne.

Franc also stations the Justices of the Peace, each of whom is holding a white handkerchief, in which a legal scroll is enfolded; at the same time, he stations the Maids of Honor to the right and left, so that they form ranks from the throne to the front of the stage.

Magistrate (Begins reciting. His voice displays his excitement). Most serene, most gracious lady of highest station, our Princess! Eagerly—eh—the long eagerly anticipated day—

Courtier, who is observing the gathering through a lorgnette, turns toward the Princess.

Princess (Smiling).—Magistrate—

Princess.—I am convinced of your devotion. I feel what you desire to express and I thank you and all the gentlemen for their manifestation of sympathy and for the royal welcome given me.

Magistrate (Confused).—So please you—we had no idea—be good enough to pardon me. I, I—this too—

Princess (Rapidly).—Do you wish to introduce the justices of the peace?

Krouzilka rushes out in front of the Princess and bows.

Magistrate.—Wait, wait!

Krouzilka (Stuttering).—N-n-now-a-a-I—

Princess.—Let him alone.

Magistrate (To Krouzilka, aside).—Slowly!

Krouzilka (Aloud, looking around him).—I know. (To the Princess. Begins slowly, with self-control, but soon falls back to stuttering.) M-m-most serene, m-m-most noble and honorable Pr-Pr-Princess.

Officer tremble. Magistrate glances furiously at Franc. Courtier struggles to appear serious. Princess, smiling, notices it.

Krouzilka.—We w-w-welcome Your G-G-Grace, n-noble and honorable—

Courtier.—Do you promise the loyalty of all the people? The laws!

Magistrate (Repeating to the Justices of the Peace).—The laws!

Krouzilka (Looking about).—Why, I h-h-haven’t as yet—

Justices of the Peace kneel before the Princess, pull the scrolls out of their white handkerchiefs and place them on the steps at the feet of the Princess.

Krouzilka does the same.

Princess.—The laws I return to you. I confirm them for you. May you be just to others and severe in the judgment of yourselves.

Magistrate hands one scroll after another to the Princess, who in turn hands them over the the Justices of the Peace.

Krouzilka.—If you p-p-please, I h-h-have not f-f-finished as yet—

Magistrate (Furiously, under his breath).—Be still!

Princess.—You will have an opportunity to finish at the banquet which will be prepared for you.

Votruba (In a feeble voice).—Vivat!

Magistrate (Under his breath to Franc).—Put him in jail immediately.

Princess (Arising).—Gentlemen, I graciously dismiss you, being pleased with the welcome you have given me. (To the Justices of the Peace.) You likewise.

Maid of Honor (Holding the bouquet and disappointed at not having been permitted to speak, turns toward the priest, weeping).—Reverend Father—

Priest (To the Princess).—Your Grace, this maid of honor—

Maid of Honor (Rushing forward, begins reciting).—Many years of blissful peace—

Priest (Taken aback, prompts her in an undertone).—The title, the title!

Maid of Honor (Paying no attention to him).—And many more of lasting happiness. To you—you—eh—

Princess.—Thank you, and is that spray of flowers really for me?

Priest (Quietly).—Hand over the flowers.

Maid of Honor hands them over.

Princess.—Thank you, that was kind of you. You may go.

All withdraw, bowing profoundly.

Magistrate.—Your Grace, I would most humbly request—

Princess (Impatiently).—Make it brief.

Scene X

The Princess, Magistrate, Courtier

Magistrate.—Your Grace, I am most unhappy. Krouzilka, the justice of the peace—

Princess (Impatiently).—What is the trouble?

Magistrate.—I had a splendid speaker, but he purposely failed to come.

Courtier.—Purposely?

Magistrate.—I must complain that he did not desire to come.

Princess begins paying attention carefully.

Courtier.—And did you order him to do so?

Magistrate.—I ordered him, I paid him a visit personally.

Courtier.—A subject, and so defiant?

Magistrate.—He is defiant, yes—as far as servitude is concerned—well—he has a free mill and no forced labor. But he has the lantern.

Princess.—The lantern? What is that?

Magistrate.—The obligation to light the way for the nobility with this lantern, should the former pass by way of his mill to the old castle in the forest.

Princess (With more animation).—Why, that is strange. And to the castle in the forest, near the lake I remember; the forester in Březovice mentioned it—how lonely it is. And that miller refused to welcome me? Why?

Magistrate.—He is proud and cantankerous. He is suing the nobility over a boundary question and the old linden tree. Because of this pride of his, he refused to allow the ward of his grandmother to welcome Your Grace with a congratulatory speech.

Princess.—The young girl—

Magistrate.—Is perhaps his bride elect.

Courtier.—An orphan?

Magistrate.—So please you, an orphan, and for that reason she really belong to Your Grace. You should have seen how he defied me, that is, the miller, so young, and how daring he was, how defiant!

Princess.—The mill is here in the village below the palace?

Magistrate.—Your Grace, it is a short distance beyond the village in a lonely spot.

Princess.—How about the castle? It is said to be interesting both for its site and for its architecture. Is it furnished?

Courtier is surprised at the apparent interest of the Princess.

Princess (To the Magistrate).—Thank you. And let all the people be welcomed to the festival.

Courtier.—He must be punished.

Princess.—As he deserves. However, I defer the decision. I am tired. (Leaves through the left entrance.)

Scene XI

Coutier, Magistrate, then Zajíček, Sejtko, Klásek, Zima.

Magistrate.—I am most unhappy, Your Honor. Everything was so short and helter-skelter.

Courtier.—That very thing was pleasing to Her Grace. But I wanted to ask—

Zajíček and the musicians (Enter sorrowfully).—We beg pardon.

Magistrate (Curtly).—What is it you want now?

Zajíček.—If you please, the concert, if Her Grace would be so kind—

Magistrate.—It is impossible.

Courtier.—Her Grace is extremely weary.

Zajíček.—And please sir, when could we—

Magistrate.—I do not know. And now, go!

Zajíček and the musicians leave.

Scene XII

Courtier, Magistrate.

Courtier.—O, yes. Is that miller a sturdy fellow?

Magistrate.—A sturdy, fine fellow, but—

Courtier.—A dangerous rebel. (An uproar from without.) What is that?

Magistrate.—I can’t imagine what it can be. (Is about to approach the window.)

Scene XIII

Franc and the preceding

Magistrate.—What is the trouble?

Franc (Frightened).—If you please, sir, I ordered Votruba to be jailed, but when the bailiff laid his hands on him, the justices of the peace began grumbling, threatening, and rebelling.

Magistrate.—What! Now, here, a rebellion at this festive time!

Courtier.—Pray do not lose your head. Today one must not use brutal force. Promise them something.

Magistrate.—They have permission to have a banquet.

Courtier.—That is too much all at once. Perhaps beer would be sufficient.

Magistrate (Timidly).—So please you, sir, yes, certainly. I’ll go immediately. (Leaves.)

Franc follows him.

Scene XIV

Courtier

Courtier.—Daphnis—Daphnis—And that miller—(Rap & in thought, paces toward the window. Suddenly stops, smiles.) And what of the revolution? (Stands by the window.)

The uproar and noise without grow less and less until they cease entirely. Then a voice is heard saying:

Magistrate.—Her Grace was kind enough to grant you two barrels of beer to refresh and strengthen you.

In reply are heard shouts: “Vivat, Vivat!”

Trumpet.

Courtier (Looks out of the window, bobbing his head with a smile). We know them well.

ACT II

On the right in the foreground, the front of an old log mill. A bench near a door to the left. Close by, at one side in the foreground, a mill stone over grown with grass. Trees behind the mill, through which a sluice makes its way down from the left. On the right sides of the sluice is a free space; except on the left, are a bridge, a clump of alders and bushes. On the right of the bridge, a rough tree stump. Behind the sluice, a meadow; behind the meadow in the rear, a forest. It is late in the afternoon.

Scene I

The water sprites Míchal and Ivan

Míchal appears from out of the shrubbery near the bridge, looks toward the mill, then drapes on the bushes various colored ribbons, which hang around his neck and extend across his chest in great quantities. He does not notice that Ivan has appeared in the rear behind the sluice gate.

Ivan (Steps on the bridge, observes Michal, then with a mocking smile). You are as stupid as you are old. Do you really think you can entice anyone by means of that motley array and capture some girl with it? Or perhaps you are only doing this for your own amusement.

Mìchal.—No, for her, (sighs) only for her. I do this for the sake of the miller’s young ward.

Ivan.—Ha, ha, Míchal, you string up ribbons while they are getting a bast rope for you. The miller has it ready for you.

Mìchal—(Angrily). That he has, and also his conjuring book.

Ivan.—Aha, he invokes you with horrible words. And you, instead of teasing him, hang up ribbons and sigh, beg and—adorn yourself. Hm, what a lovely headdress you have, how slick, (looking him over) and boots—let me see—little red boots. You have certainly taken great pains with those.

Míchal (Appeased, self-satisfied).—Pretty, aren’t they? That is so—you know, you know I should like to get married, ever so much, and I should like to have children, and bushels of them, too. I should roll around with them as with kittens; I should play with them, sport with them; I should bring them here to the bank, out into the sun, like young otters—

Ivan (Interrupting).—And listen to their squealing, whimpering, and shrieks, straighten out their quarrels for them, and be everlastingly out of temper. Brr—your sighs are in vain. Leave off tying ribbons, forget your little boots. You are a fool as sure as there is weakness in love. Love has made you blind and feeble. That miller will catch you yet, tie you to the stove, or club you and drive you out of here in—your little red boots, your pretty little hatj

Míchal (Angrily).—Me? me? You moldy willow stump, you nasty plague that have come to preach to me, who invited you, why did you crawl out of that foul fishpond of yours?

Ivan.—I am moving.

Míchal. So? And why?

Ivan—Because of the wisdom of the honorable and careful townspeople, since they agreed in council to drain the large fish pond outside of the city.

Míchal.—Aha—

Ivan.—I did not wait for them. So I immediately gathered my twelve silver pike that rowed me around in my boat. I gathered them so that they may not get into the frying pans of some of those townspeople; so that the noble mayor and learned aldermen should not smack their lips over my pike. And I’m glad—

Ivan.—That I am leaving. I have already had my fill. Such a life! I got tired of continually observing the rabble of the people, observing and listening, acting as a godfather for the fishermen, and attending funerals or accompanying the thumping of women’s feet at dances, chasing drunkards when their feet got twisted and they walked the banks at dawn, or frightening and catching disobedient boys, and then in the evening of listening to the babbling of lovers sitting on the banks under the oaks, of hearkening to their sighing and cooing, or of gazing at crazy rhymesters as they try to fit the moon into their rhymes, as they listen to the reeds!—(Angrily.) That, and that always, the same song forever! To listen to that, to gaze at it and yet be unable, without getting into trouble, even to change into a black horse, and with coy freedom swiftly gallop down the meadow, and strike out with my hoofs, dash forth with my waving mane and neigh loudly into the night and storm; why, one cannot even graze calmly and freely or change into a lantern and wander about at night, quietly and slowly, like a little red light along the stream into the dark, beneath the trees.

Míchal.—Not even that?

Ivan.—And to get nothing anywhere but a frown, a snare, and efforts to catch the sprite and tie the rope. That is why I leave these false people. There is no affection among them, each one loves only himself and spies on the other man, scheming how he may stab him or at least prick him and trip him. Their universe is not sufficient for them. They laugh at us and yet despise us. Away from these people; that is the sum total of wisdom!

Míchal.—Where do you propose to go?

Míchal (Quickly).—I’ll not let you in.

Ivan.—You don’t think I would go to your abode, do you? I’d be ashamed of you, every day, the way you prink and do one foolish thing after another.

Míchal.—Where to, then?

Ivan.—Where I’ll be all alone, where I shall hardly ever see a human face. (Points toward the forest.) Over there into the little lake in the woods near the old castle, in to that forsaken pool. There peace will reign, there I’ll be able to breathe freely, whether it be in the shade of the woods near the water, or in the sun in the quiet of noon day. To breathe, to breathe, to warm myself, and then in case of rain to sit behind the thick shrubbery of alder, moss, and beechwood; to sit cuddled up cosily and listen to the pattering of the rain on the tree tops and to the burdock dripping from its broad leaves, and to watch the bubbles bob up and down on the water, to see circles widening on the smooth surface near the banks at dusk, beneath the shrubbery and sloping stumps. To listen to that music when in the grayness of the rain, in the shadow of the tree, your little pipe glows red; and at the same time to feel that you are alone, entirely alone, and that no one will come.

Míchal.—You’ll get tired of that soon enough.

Ivan.—Indeed not. Well, to vary the monotony and for the sake of some fun, once in a while I will give some old woman who is gathering mushrooms, or some girl picking strawberries, or some late traveler, a sudden, awful scare. But who would wander into that place! Except perhaps a herd of deer! It is an enchanted corner of the world, where there will reign peace and quiet—quiet!

Scene II

Hanička and the preceding

Hanička, in wooden shoes, appears on the threshold; steps on the bench near the door and, shading her eyes with her hand, looks toward the left.

Míchal (Disturbed, quietly).—It is she, the lovely flower!

Ivan.—It is she! Well, then—then leap after her!

Míchal (Crying).—To the herb room! And she has motherwort in her belt!

Hanička (Calls).—Libor! Libor!

Míchal (With enthusiasm).—Do you hear! Do you hear! Isn’t that a voice for you!

Ivan.—Well, well, it is a voice; but it is better not to hear it. You have human weakness; that is why you are so ludicrous.

Hanička steps off the bench during the foregoing speech and walks toward the right, behind the mill.

Ivan.—And you will suffer even more when you return with a black and blue back. There is no help for you. Withdraws and disappears among the trees. Míchal growls after him, then crouches into the bushes.

Scene III

Grandmother, Hanička

Hanička (On the right, behind the mill).—Libor! Libor!

Grandmother stands in the doorway, looking about. Hanička returns.

Grandmother.—Is he not here?

Hanička.—There is neither sight nor sign of him. Perhaps he is on the hilltop with the woodmen; I’ll call up there.

Grandmother.—Go, call him, child, and bring the news. (Goes into the mill.)

Scene IV

Zajíček, Sejtko, Zima, Hanička, Míchal

Hanička hastens toward the left, suddenly slips off the wooden shoes and lays them on the tree stump. She is about to go on, when on the left Zajíček and the musicians enter.

Hanička.—Well, look who is here, the assistant and his famous musicians! Why all this haste?

Zajíček.—We are preparing a concert.

Hanička.—Again? Did you not have one at the welcoming ceremony?

Zajíček.—No, there wasn’t any; they said the Princess was tired.

Sejtko (Merrily).—From riding in the carriage on silk cushions.

Zajíček.—So the courtier said.

Zima.—I should say and do believe (carefully looks about him) that the Princes does not know a single thing about it, (mysteriously) that the courtier—

Sejtko.—Well then, what is it, Zima?

Zima (Looking about him carefully).—It’s a delicate matter; One must be careful of one’s speech—however, (knowingly) that courtier, it seems to me from what I observe, is more than a mere courtier. He dictates and wishes to dictate; he is more than a courtier, but less than a friend; he is a distant friend of the Lady Princess. And as for the rest, that you may know who is the best friend—

Zajíček.—We must go.

Sejtko.—We must listen to the rest of this wisdom. Well, Zima, who is the best friend?

Zima.—He walks with you.

Setjko.—Perhaps you. Surely not that.

Zima.—No indeed, nor the assistant here, nor even Klásek.

Sejtko.—Well, of all things, then who is it?

Zima.—The lap. The lap, comrade, is the best friend. We find people almost tearing the food from each other’s mouths, and if it falls, some one immediately grasps it. Only your lap will catch it, that you may keep it.

Sejtko (Taken aback).—Such brilliancy! And Klásek is missing it.

Hanička (To Zajíček).—Are you expecting him? Only if Klásek’s wife will let him go.

Zajíček.—Even if he has to break through the thatches, he must come.

Hanička.—And that petition, you know—

Zajíček.—I’ll present that now, during the concert.

Sejtko (Looking out toward the left).—Klásek! And he with an equipage!

Zajíček.—An equipage?

Scene V

Klásek and the preceding

Klásek (From the left, bringing a sack of grain on a wheelbarrow). Here I am. And help me quickly to unload this, quickly! And here, learned sir, (pulls a clarinet from underneath his coat.) hold this, please, Sejtko; come, help along. (Goes to the door of the mill. Sejtko helps him carry the sack into the mill.

Zima (Overturns the wheelbarrow and sits on it).—From what I observe, it seems to me that Klásek is running away.

Hanička.—Where is that concert to be?

Zajíček.—Hanička, I will tell you, and you only. When they put us off in such a manner in the palace, the gardener, my godfather, you know, advised me to ask old Zan, and a short while ago he told me that the Princess—but for heaven’s sake, Hanička, I beg you, lest this injure us, don’t breathe a word of this!

Hanička.—What did he tell you?

Zajíček.—That the Princess spoke of the little castle, (points toward the woods) so we shall certainly—

Zima.—They have more than frightened a person many a time, but so far as this is concerned, (mysteriously) it seems to me (looks about him) that the Princess wants something extra, and that such idle folk are continually searching for something; (knowingly) we know—

Sejtko (Coming forth from the mill).—Well, the wheat is near the hopper.

Klásek takes the clarinet from Zajíček

Hanick (Merrily).—How is your wife, Klásk?

Klásek.—My wife? Kate? O heavens, she worries me so; just as soon as she saw me carrying that wheat from the storeroom, she said, “Good heavens, Papa, you will strain yourself; I would gladly take it down for you.” And I again, “Good heavens, Mama, how could you? That would never do!” And thereupon Mama replied again, “Well, then, take it slowly, Papa; see that you do not hurt youself.”

Zajíček (Who has been listening impatiently).—Well, then—

Sejtko (To Klásek).—No doubt she will come around to see—

Zajíček (Pulling Zima by the sleeve).—Come, Zima. Goodbye, Hanička, but please remember, you know—

(Goes with Zima and Klásek over the bridge to the right and rear, toward the forest.)

Sejtko (Merrily).—So we shall play after all. (Follows the others.)

Hanička.—The point is, what will you get for the playing? (Goes toward the left.)

Míchal, in the thicket, sighs deeply. Hanička halts reluctantly.

Míchal (Emerges from the thicket, sighs most longingly).—O, sunbeam!

Hanička (Jerks the motherwort from her belt).—Do not dry up, little water sprite! (Runs off on the left.)

Míchal (Creeps back whimpering).—But my time will come!

Scene VI

Magistrate, Courtier

Courtier (Enters from behind the bridge on the left). So this is the mill?

Magistrate.—So please you, sir. In it you will find the defiant miller.

Courtier.—Also the young girl, the orphan? We have a right to her.

Magistrate.—At least the miller cannot prove that he has a right to her.

Courtier.—Whether he can prove it or not, we will show him a thing or two. He is dangerous because he sets a bad example. (Steps on the bridge.) But do not mention him to Her Grace any more. She dislikes hearing about him.

Magistrate (Astonished).—Dislikes it! And after dinner I again had to give a most humble report concerning him to Her Grace.

Courtier (Unpleasantly surprised).—Is that so? And did she listen?

Magistrate.—O, very carefully.

Courtier.—Really? (Pulls himself together).—O yes, that is true. But I shall be the one to have dealings with him. He is very dangerous. (Attempting to pass it over; pointing to the forest in the rear.) Can one also get to the castle this way?

Magistrate.—This is the road from the mill.

Courtier (Having crossed the bridge).—O, what is this! (Stops at the tree stump, examining the wooden shoes through a lorgnette.) Wooden shoes, but such a pair! Some fairy must have worn these. And they are not without ornaments. Here is a ring burnt on them; there a flower.

Magistrate.—Perhaps they belong to that girl from the mill.

Courtier.—Ah, ah, that foot must be a dream. Is the girl as charming as her feet are small—(picks up both wooden shoes, each in two fingers) little, little feet—little, O such little feet!

Scene VII

Hanička, and the preceding; later the Princess

Hanička. (Singing behind the scenes.)

O, we at Lohovice
Have a noble magistrate,
He nags them and he drags themHe tortures all the peasants
To satisfy his hate.

Magistrate.—So please you, sir, it is.

Hanicka (Enters, singing on).—

He nags them and he drags them
To their prosperity—

(Suddenly ceases.) Ah—(having spied the Courtier holding the wooden shoes, she laughs) Those are my wooden shoes.

Princess enters from the rear behind the bridge, stands among the trees.

Courtier (Jesting gallantly).—And charming ones indeed. I will keep one for a souvenir, and for the other you shall come to me.

Hanička (Snatches both forcefully away from him).—I have both now, and I’ll give you neither this one nor the other. Have a care, sir, this is not a shoe of silk; it is of wood and steps hard.

(Hurries off for the mill, singing merrily.)

Scene VIII

Courtier, Magistrate, Princess

Courtier (Gazes after her with wonder).—As fresh as a raspberry! A raspberry, so much so that one forgets! And not a stupid country girl either. But I have received—

Courtier (Again assuming his former dignity).—Why did you not inform me?

Princess is amused by this and smiles.

Magistrate.—Who would have dreamed of such boldness!

Courtier.—You ought to be acquainted with it. Take the girl away from here.

Magistrate.—The miller will rebel.

Courtier.—We’ll humble him; you just wait.

Princess (Stepping on the bridge, calls four times).—My Lord Count—

Princess.—You here?

Courtier.—I desire to see the defiant miller.

Princess.—And acquaint yourself with the provincial footgear of this district.

Courtier (Bites his lip).—I am going with official zeal—

Princess.—That girl is exceedingly clever.

Princess.—I wish to speak with her as well as with the miller. I’ll look into the mill.

Courtier (Hurriedly).—That is impossible. Your Grace, that is impossible. Beyond that threshold, who knows what will await you, what insolence! Just see, no one has even come forward to greet you.

Princess.—Perhaps the miller is not at home.

Magistrate leaves, entering the mill.

Scene IX

Princess, Courtier

Courtier.—Your Grace, how could you have ventured without escort! And above all to this place! Do you seek pleasure here?

Princess.—No, different people, new places, places that are unvisited by ennui. That little castle in the woods also interests me.

Courtier.—What a soltiary spot! What discomforts!

Princess.—What is comfort when it lacks peace? The little castle is most inviting, and even more so than any one of my large castles. The site by a lake, the antique structure, real mossy balustrades, the peaceful terrace, free, easy walks leading to it, and grass on their slopes, queer little nooks, and the greenish gray twilight of the forest in the quiet rooms!—Everything so different, so forsaken in the mysterious shadows! That solitude will perhaps amuse me, calm me, give me peace.

Courtier.—Perhaps, but for how long?

Princess.—Peace is everywhere a brief visitor. But if only for a day, only to have it for a moment and not to have to think (ironically) of that faithful love, of sacrificing friendship and devotion; to dream in sweet restfulness, to stand in the radiant sunshine or in the mysterious twilight, blissfully attentive, forgetful and forgotten, like a flower, like a tree! And to have that which oppressed me vanish like a cloud in the distance and fade like a glowing sky; while around everything, the forest, the lake, and the antique mossy structure, shadows of past generations might hover; and while all within me—my very soul—should merge in an appealing harmony which wafts one on and soothes one like an elegy! See, I already feel what the solitude will offer me here.

Princess (Hurriedly).—Enough! “Regards” once more! You can have regard for me as well, since I have a heart.

Scene X

Magistrate and the preceding

Magistrate.—I have the honor to announce that the miller is not at home.

Princess (Ironically).—O, my only hope. I thought I might at least get a glimpse of him. And what of the girl?

Magistrate.—The miller’s old grandmother is guarding her and refuses to permit her to come here.

Princess.—Where did the miller go?

Courtier (Impatiently).—Always he—

Magistrate.—They say he has gone yonder down the hillside. (Points to the left.) With your permission, I will go see.

Courtier.—Your Grace, why wait for such a person; and it is getting late.

Princess (To the Magistrate).—Go and see.

Magistrate leaves toward the left.

Scene XI

Princess, Courtier

Courtier.—Your Grace, I beg to warn you, that miller—

Princess.—Why? He is merely a man who has always held his head high. Merely strength.

Courtier.—But coarse strength. I should not advise you to talk to him alone.

Princess.—Why?

Courtier.—First of all, he ought to talk to us, with me and with the magistrate.

Princess.—But I will be present at the interview. Ah, (suddenly gets an idea) you are right; he ought not to know in order that he may have no reserve. I will see how he will act when I myself step forward.

Scene XII

Magistrate and the preceding

Princess.—I’m going.

Courtier.—Your Grace, are you really? Are you hiding just to suit such a rascal?

Princess (On the bridge).—Is that anything unusual? (Disappears behind the trees.)

Magistrate.—If you please, what does that mean, that—?

Courtier (Impatiently).—Wild ideas, a woman’s whims. Begin talking to the miller about the linden tree, that My Lady Princess (sneering) may find out what that “strength” is like.

Princess (Returns to the bridge).—It occurred to me that the lin—(Looks toward the left.) Ah, but he is coming. How well built he is!

Courtier.—And sunburnt!

Princess.—But he is swarthy, has a ruddy complexion. It also occurred to me, my dear Count, that you too should hide.

Courtier (Trembling).—I, Your Grace, I? A man of my station and to please such a—

Princess.—Quick, quick, Count. I desire the magistrate to be the first to begin, then you, that I may hear all the tones of the miller’s rough melody. Now then, quickly! quickly! (Steps behind the trees.)

Courtier (Irritated).—Fine sport for her! (Disappears after the Princess. The sun has set.)

Scene XIII

Miller and the preceding

Miller.—Ah, the magistrate. Good evening. (Is about to leave.)

Magistrate.—Just a moment. I am here in the name of Her Grace.

Miller.—What do you wish?

Magistrate.—Partly that linden tree, and partly—

Miller.—Hanička. Good night. (Leaving.)

Courtier (Suddenly stepping on the bench).—Halt!

Miller halts.

Courtier (Comes forward).—I am the minister of Her Grace.

Miller.—What are you pleased to desire?

Courtier.—I do not desire, but command—and in the first place that you forfeit your claim to the old linden tree.

Miller.—That I refuse to do, even if the Princess herself should demand it.

Scene XIV

Grandmother and the preceding

Grandmother stands on the threshold

Miller—I refuse to give up the linden tree because it is my inheritance from my grandfather and great-grandfather. It belonged to our family farther back then any one can remember. It grew for hundreds of years, and if I gave it to you, it would fall in a moment. And how could I permit it to sink, to be overthrown, that its crown, where the birds nest and sleep and sing, should lie prostrate? And under it, in its shadows, in the summer heat of noonday and evenings, how many people have rested and will rest! What conversations there, how much talk and story-telling, old memories of marvellous deeds! Generation follows generation and the linden continually guards and shades them.

Grandmother.—It is like a consecrated tree; and it can be understood, too, on the night of St. John, when its leaves rustle.

Magistrate (With a smile).—Splendid tales about a treasure, about a golden crown and a song—

Courtier.—Nothing but products of darkness, superstition and ignorance.

Miller.—You may call it what you will; you cannot understand it because you cannot feel it. It is an old inheritance and our comfort; and we believe that as long as the linden raises its crown, this roof (points to the mill) is secure.

Princess (Enters meanwhile and remains standing on the bridge).—That is not coarse. And he speaks with fire.

Courtier.—A foolish superstition.

Magistrate.—And the stories are dangerous.

Miller.—You used to hear them from your own mother.

Magistrate (Sharply).—I have heard nothing of the sort. (To the Courtier.) They are dangerous because they strengthen their stubborness and disobedience . . . There, under that linden, the dissatisfied have always had their gatherings. And to this day they gather there secretly and conspire against the officials and the nobility. The mill here has always been the shelter of every one, whether he be heretic or rebel; and when they were unable to conceal him here, he always managed to disappear yonder by the linden, without a sign of footprints.

Courtier.—That tree must be disposed of! It shall fall.

Miller.—No!

Grandmother.—Remember the old prophecy, that whoever wishes to overthrow that linden shall behold a sign from heaven.

Magistrate.—Old sybil, you will not frighten us away by that.

Courtier.—That linden shall fall just as surely as you shall yield that orphan girl.

Miller (Threateningly).—I stand here, and if anyone venture on the errand you speak of, I swear by God himself that he must kill me first before he cross my threshold; I will not permit her to be dishonored or driven off into your slavery.

Magistrate and Courtier.—Rebel! You shall obey!

Miller.—You have no business giving me orders.

Princess.—But I! (Entering hastily from the bridge).—I, the Princess, a noblewoman, command you. Let us see the girl, I wish to see her.

Miller.—In this case, I refuse to obey even you, Your Grace.

Princess.—But in one instance, you will obey. Bring forth the lantern!

Miller (Taken aback).—How—and why—?

Princess.—Bring forth the lantern as is your duty.

Miller (Wavers a moment, then leaves).—Grandmother, go to Hanička. (Enters the mill. Grandmother follows him.)

Scene XV

Princess, Courtier, Magistrate

Magistrate (Bowing).—O, Your Grace was the only one to subdue him. And what a rascal he is!

Princess (Ignoring the Magistrate, addressing the Courtier merrily).—Are you satisfied?

Courtier.But I don’t know, Your Grace—I fear—

Princess (Merrily).—I believe you. Is it “regards” again? (To the Magistrate.) And bring forth that young girl

Magistrate.—Your Grace, he—the miller—you deigned to see and hear—And there is a workman in the mill, his faithful assistant—

Courtier.—This is really a critical moment.

Princess.—I desire nothing but to speak to that young girl; nothing else, do you understand?—And here is my lantern-bearer and (To the Courtier) my Daphnis.

Scene XVI

Miller and the preceding

The Miller, carrying the lighted lantern, stands on the threshold.

Princess (To the Courtier).—Even such service becomes him.

Princess (To Miller).—Thank you.

Magistrate trembles. Miller is surprised, then is about to hang the lantern on a hook above the door.

Princess (Humorously). O, but not that way, that is not all of your duty. You will light my way.

Miller.—Where to? (Takes the lantern down from the hook).

Princess.—To the place to which I have a right to request your guidance. To the little castle.

Miller.—Immediately?

Princess.—At this very moment.

Courtier.—It is impossible, Your Grace, pray consider! It is so late, and the road leads through the dense woods.

Princess.—For that very reason I need an escort and a light. You need have no fear, and it is not necessary that you bother about escorting me. Remain here, I shall go alone.

Courtier.—Good heavens! Your Grace; I cannot permit—

Magistrate.—He is dangerous!

Princess.—Then (taking the lantern from the Miller) I shall break the lantern. What good is it?

Courtier (Checking the Princess).—No, why give him freedom?

Magistrate.—Then we should never be able to subdue him.

Princess.—Well then, I am going

Magistrate (Humbly).—Perhaps I might venture.

Princess (Hastily, with a smile).—No, thank you, do not detain yourselves. You can escort My Lord Count. Good night, Count.

Princess.—Just sleep well.

Courtier leaves over bridge on the left. Magistrate follows him.

Princess (Who, smiling, has been gazing after them, turns about to the Miller).—And now let us go.

The moon is rising.

Scene XVII

Braha, then Hanička, then Grandmother, and the preceding

Braha (Enters hastily from the mill).—O, Sire! Hanička does not want to be left alone with Grandmother.

Grandmother’s voice from within the mill.—Hanička! Hanička!

Miller (To Braha).—Tell Hanička that—

Hanička (Bursts forth, but halts in the doorway).—Libor, don’t go!

Miller.—I must, Hanička.

Princess.—O, do you fear for him?

Miller.—Hanička, do you wish to humiliate me?

Hanička.—Take care that you do not humiliate yourself.

Grandmother comes out and stands in the doorway.

Princess (To the Miller).—Do you wish to stay?

Miller (Resolutely).—We will go, if you so desire.

Princess (Joyfully).—We will go, then.

Miller.—Hanička, Grandmother, good night! (To Braha.) Keep good watch!

Hanička (Warningly).—Remember, Libor! (Gazes after them as they depart.)

Grandmother.—Unfortunate lantern! Come, Hanička. (Leaves.)

Hanička follows Grandmother into the mill.

Princess (Stops on the bridge).—Do you not wish to go back?

Miller (Who carries the lantern before her).—Are you afraid already, Your Grace?

Princess.—Come on!

Miller disappears behind the bridge toward the woods. Princess follows him.

Scene XVIII

Braha, Dame Klásek

Braha (Looking after them).—Would you believe it!—The noble rabble of nobility brought in by the fog—

Dame Klásek (Hurriedly from the left).—He isn’t here, is he—

Braha.—Who?

Dame Klásek.—My husband. He isn’t here, is he?

Braha.—But he was here. He brought some grain—

Dame Klásek.—That again is a new trick that he may leave the house.

Braha.—They say that they left with the teachers’ assistant; he and Zima—

Dame Klásek.—And Sejtko.—Aha—

Braha.—To give a concert.

Dame Klásek.—But for whom, for whom! And what is more, even if they do play, is it not all a trick? I believe nothing. I don’t believe anyone but the cards, they speak (pulls out the cards, sits down on the wheelbarrow) the truth—Look! here The ace of hearts—and in its path a jack of spades, and here a green one—aha—a fine concert—it’s a woman, (snatches the cards and jumps up) a woman, and no concert. Where did they go?

Braha.—They said they were going (pointing to the woods beyond the bridge) to the woods, toward the little castle. Our miller also went there. He was forced to. He is escorting the Princess, is lighting her way with a lantern.

Dame Klásek.—So? At that rate (suddenly makes up her mind) we shall see about that. I’ll catch up to them, I’ll get them. (While speaking she goes to the bridge.) We’ll have a fine concert then! (Hurriedly disappears into the woods on the right.)

Scene XIX

Braha, Míchal, Hanička

Braha.—What a serpent! She ought to live with a dragon. (Enters the mill.)

Míchal (Peering out of the shrubbery, laughing).—Ha ha, Ivan!—He will breathe so peacefully—in the moonshine—peacefully—! Everything is running that way—his first night there will be a most pleasant one—with music!—But my time has come.—The miller is gone ha, ha!

Grandmother (In the mill).—Hanička!

Míchal conceals himself in the shrubbery. Hanička looks toward the trees at the right, behind the mill; than suddenly darts forward and runs quickly across the bridge.

Míchal (Is startled, but suddenly bursts forth and tries to catch her).—Sunbeam!

Hanička, who is already across the bridge, hastens to the right at the rear into the woods.

Braha (Calling from behind the mill).—Hanička!

Míchal (Confused).—There! (Thinks for a moment, then suddenly.) And I am to remain here? No, indeed. (Jumps on the bridge, and hastens toward the woods.)

ACT III

TABLEAU I

An open space in the woods full of chrysanthemums and bluebells. On the left and in the rear, an old forest. An open space on the right; only a few birch trees stand near a swampy place in which several stones are lying for the purpose of an easy crossing. On the left in the meadow in front of the forest, an old bushy linden tree in bloom. Night; the moon is shining, clouds are driving over it.

Scene I

Sejtko, Zajíček, Zima, Klásek

Sejtko (Is the first to step forward from the right, looks behind him). Come then, scarecrows, there’s nothing here. (Crosses to the meadow over the rocks.)

Zajíček (Enters carefully, looking about him).—Nothing, (Walks across the stones.) Come ahead; no one is here.

Zima (Enters).—Well, I’m not afraid, but so far as my reason goes, I believe (crossing) that one cannot be too careful at night. The night has its power and its rights, as the saying goes. The day is for work, and like Sunday, night is for rest. That is why a person ought to sleep at night.

Sejtko.—That’s why you sleep even at your music.

Zima.—You be still! Just as if you never fall asleep while playing!

Sejtko.—O, I do fall asleep, perhaps even in church, as at this sermon here. Why, my eyes just closed and my feet just sank beneath me—in short, I made a poor appearance.

Zajíček.—Klásek, where are you?

Klásek.—Here I am. (Enters.) So no one is here?

Sejtko.—No one, unless your wife is waiting for you.

Klásek.—Good heavens, no; she is asleep. But heaven forbid! If she knew, she would die of fear; it would be: “Papa, Papa, have your senses left you, to go at night to a little castle by the lake! You know it is haunted.”

Sejtko (Pointedly).—At night, ghosts are everywhere; spirits and phantoms of the night are found everywhere.

Klásek.—Why do you frighten people?

Sejtko.—That isn’t true! Isn’t it true that forest maidens and the Roarer rule at night and—?

Klásek.—Do be still!

Zima (With dignity).—The night is the queen of spirits; that is certain.

Zajíček (Meanwhile enters the meadow, gazes at the sky and around at the forest).—Well, people say lots of things. But this is true. At night a person has mighty queer feelings, sort of a holy horror; but at any rate, one must admit that it is a beautiful place. Beautiful!

Zima.—This sort of fear overcomes a person, usually in what they call gloomy places. (To Klásek.) One walks and walks and suddenly it seems as if somebody sprang forth out of the shadows, looked into your eyes and immediately disappeared. You see only those eyes—that terrible look.

Klásek.—What are you trying to tell me—

Sejtko (Teasingly).—And I tell you that in such places strange plants grow, and when a person steps over them, he can never find his way out again.

Klásek (Troubled).—Do be still!

Sejtko.—There is plenty of time. The Princess is not there yet. (Seating himself under the linden tree.)

Klásek.—But what if anyone should come upon us?

Sejtko.—Your wife won’t; she is sleeping by now and is surely dreaming of you.

Klásek.—That is true, to be sure. Every morning she says: “Gracious, Papa, what a dream I had!” And I say, “What about, Mama?” and she says, “About you, Papa. I dreamt that—” (Seats himself.)

Zima also seats himself.

Zajíček (Walking up and down meanwhile, thinking; suddenly)—Good Lord! (Begins to search his pockets.)

Zima.—What’s the trouble?

Zajíček.—Heavens, but I got a fright. (Pulls the petition out of his breast pocket.) Here it is—the petition. I thought I had lost it. (Unfolds it; tries to read it by the moonlight.) Well, I think it would be fine if we played very nicely for the Princess and then she read this petition. It runs like this: (Reads.)

I cannot die of hunger,
Stealing’s a disgrace,
Nor will I with a beggar’s cane
Go out and shame my race.

Klásek (Who has not been listening, but looking about him, listening for strange sounds, frightened).—Good Lord! Do you hear that?

Zajícek.—What?

Klásek.—As if someone were calling and so strangely—

Sejtko (Solemnly).—Perhaps the Roarer—

Klásek.—Be quiet—do you want to call him out so he may jump on our backs or chase us around the woods?

Sejtko (Haughtily).—Well, I should be very glad to see what he looks like just once.

Klásek.—You would do nothing but make the sign of the cross.

Sejtko.—I shouldn’t be afraid.

Zima.—I’m not certain of that if you saw what I used to see.

Klásek (Gasping).—You, Zima?

Zima.—That was many years ago. I happened to pass through the royal forest from Vrchoviny one evening. Wood cutters were sitting around a fire, I sat down beside them. We were talking, when suddenly the Roarer appeared before us—

Klásek (Who has been listening breathlessly, sighs).—My, O my!

Zima.—Just as if he sprang up out of the ground; the spirit of the woods, the Roarer, bearded, hairy, covered with moss, ferns on his head, eyes as if buried in a thicket—

Klásek.—My, you must have been frightened.

Sejtko.—I shouldn’t have been afraid.

Zajíček.—And did he say anything?

Zima.—Indeed he did, in such a voice, he said: “Thrice I recall this meadow and thrice the forest on this spot,” where we sat, you know—“Thrice the forest.” But, says he, “I have never before seen such rubbish here—”

Klásek (Chuckling softly). That meant you.

Sejtko (Interrupting). And that bearded Roarer said: (imitating his voice). “Only that second clarinet from the band of Lohovice is missing, the one who is so afraid of his wife, Klásek.”

Klásek (Jumping up).—O, you—

Zajíček (To Zima).—Is that all?

Sejtko.—I should have roared at him too, and caught him by the beard.

Zima.—Don’t say such sinful things! (To Zajíček.) And then he just blew at the fire and the fire went out; not a spark was left. And suddenly there was such darkness, above our heads in the trees such a wind!

A wind begins to blow; the trees rustle loudly. Dawn approaches.

Klásek.—Good heavens. (Leaps up in fright.)

Scene II

Roarer and the preceding

Roarer appears in the rear.

Klásek.—Save your souls! (Crosses himself.) He is coming after us. (Runs off on the left toward the rear. Sejtko runs off on left toward the foreground.,

Zima.—Good people, help!

(Hastens toward rear on the right.)

Zajíček.—Good people, for heaven’s sake, wait! (Drops the petition and runs toward foreground on right.,

During a continual rustling of the forest, Roarer vanishes As soon as he disappears, the night clears up. The moon shines, the forest is silent. The stage is empty for a moment.

Scene III

Miller, Princess

Miller (From the right).—Careful here, Your Grace; here’s a swampy place, (after crossing over himself, lights her way with the lantern.) but here are stepping stones.

Princess (Looking at the swamp).—O, how wet! And my poor slippers, and dress! Is there no other way?

Miller.—Only this.

Princess.—But how can I! (Suddenly jesting.) Perhaps you might carry me across.

Miller (Surprised).—You, my Lady Princess? I?

Princess.—Are you afraid? What if the young girl in the mill should make this request?

Miller (Frankly).—She would not request it.

Princess (Touched).—Ah!—And what would she do?

Miller.—She would cross over by herself.

Princess (Gathering up her skirts).—Like this? (Gracefully crosses the rocks, then jumps.)

Princess.—Could she cross better?

Miller (Frankly).—No, indeed.

Princess.—Do you not fear for her?

Miller.—No.

Princess.—But she does for you.

Miller.—She has no need to; why should she?

Princess (Ironically).—You think so? (Suddenly.) Now which way?

Miller (Points toward the forest).—There.

Princess (Taken aback).—But it is dark there, black. (Hesitates for a moment, then suddenly.) Are you armed?

Miller.—Are you afraid of me, My Lady Princess?

Princess.I have placed myself in your power.

Miller.—You have less to fear here than among your courtiers.

Princess.—I believe you. (Advances.) Perhaps that is the linden tree?

Miller.—Yes, our old linden.

Princess.—A beautiful tree; and how fragrant almost intoxicating! And a beautiful spot. So quiet? (Gazes at the linden.) Even the linden is silent.

Miller.—If it could only speak—

Princess.—But it does talk to you.

Miller.—To anyone who understands. But it speaks secretly.

Princess.—Why secretly?

Miller.—It dares not speak aloud. It recalls great wrongs.

Princess.—Wrongs?

Princess.—But the people are satisfied.

Miller.—They are frightened into silence.

Princess.—But they cannot get the best of you. But why these anxieties? I am tired out. (Seats herself under the linden.) It is most restful here. (To the Miller.) Just for a little while. And do come nearer.

Miller steps forward.

Princess.—Put the lantern down. What use is its flame here?

Miller sets the lantern in front of her.

Princess.—How enchanted everything seems by the moonlight; how clear and changed and nearer the heart all things are, even the snowblossoms and the drowsy crowns of the tree; how sweetly the warm, fragrant night air soothes! (Gazes about her, rests her eyes on the Miller; then suddenly, gently.) Place the lantern farther away, to the side.

Miller does as bidden.

Princess.—O, now I believe that on such a night as this it is possible to understand the murmurings of the old linden. (Gazes ahead of her; then to the Miller, half jestingly, half seriously.) It would be delightful to listen to stories here. Tell me, what do people hear in this spot? Tell—and (reflects a moment) be seated.

Miller.—I? Is it permissible?

Princess.—That is the way to tell stories and to listen to them.

Miller (Seats himself).—It would be a gloomy tale.

Princess.—A lost one? Who lost it?

Miller.—A sorrowful kingdom.

A cloud crosses the moon; it becomes dark under the linden.

Princess (Utters a smothered cry and moves nearer).—What sudden darkness!

Miller.—Your Grace—I—I—I will bring the light.

Princess.—Why?

Miller.—I thought—

Princess (Merrily).—That I was afraid. No, leave the light alone; it hurts the eyes. Rather place it farther away.

Miller does as bidden.

Princess.—Still farther—behind the tree, and (in a subdued voice) begin your tale—

Just then the moon shines forth brightly.

Princess (Disappointed).—O!

Miller (Surprised).—But—

Princess.—What is the matter?

Miller.—I have found a folded paper here.

Princess.—What is it?

Miller (Looking at the paper).—A petition, a humble request.

Princess.—How strange people are. They do nothing but continually bow and beg, beg everywhere.

Miller (Bitterly).—But for what do they ask? For what is right.

Princess (Coldly).—What is this request? How did it get here?

Miller.—That I don’t know, but it is a petition of the assistant teacher, Zajíček, from our village. He asks—

Princess.—I do not feel in a humor to listen to requests here.

Miller.—Shall I throw the humble petition away again?

Princess.—No, keep it—you will give it to me—

Miller.—Near the little castle.

Princess.—And not in the little castle?

Miller.—I am to light the way up to the castle.

Princess.—And farther, into the little castle, you would refuse to light my way; you would not escort me farther?

Miller.—If you did not command me—

Princess.—O, your rights! But if I should merely wish, if I should request—

Miller (Willingly).—Then, yes, my Lady Princess.

Princess.—That is indeed chivalrous, particularly since you are in a hurry.

Miller.—I should not be in a hurry, it is beautiful—but at home—

Princess.—O, so you are afraid after all.

Miller (As if piqued).—I am not. I will remain, as you wish.

Princess.—I am glad to hear that. And it is needless to hasten. It is such a beautiful night. (Delighted, approaches nearer.) Well, then, begin your tale.

Just then from the rear, on the right, a short blast on a hunting horn resounds.

Princess.—What is that?

Immediately following, on the right, in the foreground and nearer, a clarinet repeats the signal.

Miller.—Perhaps they are musicians from the village, assembling and preparing a concert.

Princess.—Good heavens, a concert! Here! And now! Let us get away, away! Come!

Miller.—To the little castle, or back?

Princess.—Back? And why? Where should you want to go?

Miller.—I am obliged, Your Grace, to escort you, and I will escort you—

Princess.—Where, tell me?

Miller.—To the little castle.

Princess.—So! Then let us go on so as to escape that concert.

Miller takes the lantern, enters the woods. Princess follows him.

Scene IV

Zajíček, Zima

Zajíček enters from right foreground and looks about him.

Zima (Enters from rear on right; in a muffled voice).—Schoolmaster—

Zajíček.—Good heavens, again we are here! And that—

Zima.—Sh-sh-sh—silence, mention no names!

Zajíček.—Where are they?

Zima.—We will give them an echo. (Blows a short blast.)

Zajǐček at the same time plays it on the clarinet.

When the sound dies down, there is heard from the forest on the left, in the foreground, a hunter’s horn.

Zajíček.—Sejtko!

Zima.—That scamp!

Scene V

Sejtko and the preceding

Sejtko comes in, completely confused.

Zajíček.—You’ve certainly given it to us!

Sejtko.—And I’ve caught it!

Zima.—Where is Klásek?

Sejtko.—I don’t know.

Zajíček.—Let us give him the signal again! (Blows a short note.)

Zima, Sejtko blow a blast at the same time with him. They listen for a moment.

Sejtko.—Not a sound! I’ll bet he caught him!

Zajíček.—He should have caught you—

Zima (Suddenly).—Sh-sh-sh—don’t name that mighty being!

Zajíček.—Once again!

They blow, listen, and just then there is heard on the left from the forest a mournful piping on the clarinet.

Sejtko.—He didn’t get him.

Zima.—Sh-sh-sh—

Zajíček (Comforted).—It is he!

Scene VI

Klásek and the preceding

Klásek.—O Lord, is it you, Zima, you, Mr. Schoolmaster, (threateningly at Sejtko) and you, chatterbox!

Zima.—Sh-sh-sh—silence, and better get out of here as quickly as you can. (Leaves toward the left.)

Zajíček.—Come, come. (Follows Zima.)

Sejtko.—Klásek, did you think of mama when—

Klásek (Suddenly).—O, the devil take you!

(Leaves hurriedly on the left.)

Sejtko (Follows him).—Papa, papa!

Scene VII

Míchal

Míchal (Enters from right; cane in one hand, an unlighted lantern in the other; ribbons around his neck and across his chest. Stops a short distance from the linden tree, examines his boots).—O boots, little boots, windy boots, a hundred steps in one; nicely you carry me o’er meadow and dale, o’er level walks too; no track, no road, no hoof marks, no footprints. For the huntsmen I have already waited and watched, and now at the water here (points to the swamp) will I wait and watch. Here will my sunbeam hasten; here will I wait and watch. (A cloud overshadows the moon; it becomes dark.) Mikel, Mikel, brighten well! (Breathes into the lantern, which immediately flames up.) Burn, little flame! (Suddenly turns forward to left foreground, listens, then quickly covers the light in the lantern and seats himself in the shadow under the linden.)

Scene VII

Franc, Bailiff, Míchal

Franc (From the left foreground behind the scenes, in the forest). So you are a bailiff, an old soldier?

Bailiff (In same place).—Well, then, you go first, Mr. Clerk. I am not afraid.

Franc—Just you go ahead. (Steps forth, almost pushing the Bailiff. Looks about him anxiously.)

Bailiff.—I afraid? I, an old soldier? I have been quartered on the Turkish border.

Franc.—Here is that linden tree. We are to remain here.

Bailiff.—It is a peculiar command.

Franc.—Since the magistrate ordered it—

Bailiff.—That is true, a command is a command. And since he himself, as magistrate, commands it—

Franc.—Good; the miller is not at home; the girl is home alone with the old—

Bailiff.—But Braha?

Franc.—As if you could not overpower him! If it becomes necessary, bind him, and take the girl to the castle, and then come here to cut down the linden.

Bailiff.—I should rather be there. What is there here?

Franc.—A plan is a plan. Suppose the miller should just chance to return home from the little castle. Hold him, do not let him go, at least not immediately, that is our duty; and help will come and we must watch the linden tree here. Here those boors have some sort of a hiding place. The sum total is, “to watch.” (Looks about him, overcoming his fear.) But it is (sighs) rather queer around here. (Suddenly.) You used to be on guard duty?

Bailiff.—O heavens, whenever the command came, night or day; and even oftener at night.

Franc.—Were you not afraid at night?

Bailiff.—I was even happier then, I slept through it all then.

Franc.—I should not even have closed my eyes.

Bailiff (Looks about him).—But you know, sir, Chamberlain, there are no two places alike, particularly at night, and a good deal is said concerning this one here.

Franc (Suddenly).—Be still. I know it. But you—you are not afraid?

Bailiff.—I? I—I am not afraid. A command is—

Míchal uncovers the lantern, so that a light glimmers from under the linden tree.

Bailiff.—A com—What is that? (Points to the linden.)

Franc.—O Mary Mother! (Hides behind the Bailiff.) What is that?

Suddenly the moon shines brightly, a sudden clearness resulting.

Míchal (Sits motionless in the keen bright light, smiling).—Today I have a great desire to drown some one.

Franc.—God’s wounds! (Runs into the forest on the left.)

Bailiff.—Wait a bit, Sir Chamberlain. (Runs after him.)

Scene IX

Míchal, later Dame Klásek

Michal (Steps forth from under the linden).—They won’t come any more. And now, dear moon, shine forth, shine forth, and thou, my sunbeam, come to me! (Looks toward the right.) Ah, she comes! (Steps back into the shadow under the linden.)

Dame Klásek (Enters from right, halts, looks about her, spies Míchal. Speaks sharply, without fear).—Who is under the linden?

Míchal.—I.

Dame Klásek.—It strikes me, he sniffles. (Sharply.) Which one of you is it?

Míchal is silent.

Dame Klásek (More sharply).—Well, then, why don’t you answer me? If you are a decent sort, come forth into the light.

Michal (Blows out the lantern and steps forth).—I am a ribbon dealer.

Dame Klásek (Looks him over).—You?

Míchal.—I’m on my way from Kozlovo, from the fair, and I have gone astray.

Dame Klásek.—Was there a fair there today? And where are your goods?

Michal (Points to the ribbons).—Here, this is all I have left; the rest I have sold.

Dame Klásek (Pointedly).—Well, I certainly believe they didn’t want those ribbons. (Ironically.) So there was a good market day. No doubt the shoemakers got rid of all their goods, too, and the potters.

Míchal. What do you mean, why?

Dame Klásek (Looking at him sharply).—Because he from whose coat tail water drips was there. And when he gets among the shoemakers at the market, their goods go like hot cakes. (Emphatically.) You know that—

Míchal (Hesitatingly).—I do. And what does it matter, if—?

Dame Klásek.—Stop! Be still! And he himself buys a great deal from the potters—little cups with which he can put (emphatically) souls under cover. No doubt you know that too?

Míchal (Crossly).—Leave me in peace—I—(Starts for the swamp.)

Dame Klásek (Steps in his way).—Wait until I’m through talking. Ours does likewise, you know, our—water sprite.

Míchal.—What “ours”—and what has that to do with me? (Starts toward the right for the swamp.)

Dame Klásek (Holds him back).—Don’t go there, that is a swamp. And that one of ours, perhaps you know him, the water sprite of Lohová who hovers about the mill there.

Míchal (Wishing to pass over the subject, bursts forth).— Fine things go on there!

Dame Klásek.—What! And how do you know about them when you are only on your way from the fair at Kozlovo?

Míchal.—I heard about them; two men from the castle were saying that the magistrate went to the castle for Haníčka, eh—that is, for the orphan girl, in order to carry her off to the castle—ha-ha—!

Dame Klásek (Angrily).—And you laugh at that?

Michal.—At the magistrate, since the nest will be empty. The girl ran off after the miller; he was leading the Princess (points back) to the little castle here; he is not at home, but the girl isn’t either.

Dame Klásek (Surprised, gazes at him keenly). And you—you ribbon dealer, are perhaps spying here.—

Míchal (Seeing he is found out, again starts for the swamp).—Let me go!

Dame Klásek.—Not a step! Nothing—you just stand on dry land—not a step toward the swamp or the water. So Hanička ran away.

Míchal.—And the musicians went—

Dame Klásek (Suddenly).—What! Did you see them?

Míchal.—They went to the village.

Dame Klásek (Taken aback, but immediately collecting her wits).—Aha, you ribbon dealer, you say that so that I may go after them, away from here, don’t you? You heard that at the market? Stand still! I say, not one step off dry land! You are bound for the swamp.

Míchal (Angrily).—And why do you detain me?

Dame Klásek.—I’ll not let you get to the water.

Míchal.—May you—

Dame Klásek.—What? Me? If you were a ribbon dealer, perhaps I might be afraid of you. Perhaps, Is ay, perhaps! but; you, ribbon dealer, from whose coat tail water drips—

Míchal (Wildly).—Let me go, or I’ll—

Dame Klásek (Places her arms akimbo).—Come on, then; come on, water sprite! You are a powerful being in water, that I know. In water! But on dry land, nine flies can thrash you; isn’t it so, you water rat? You would stop the mill wheels by day, hover about the mill all night, sigh, cry, and annoy respectable young girls.—Now listen, and tell me the truth!

Míchal.—You are a dragon! Let me go!

Dame Klásek.—Not until you tell the gospel truth! Where did the teacher’s assistant and those musicians go? Into the village?

Míchal.—No, I heard they were to play a concert for the Princess, and they went yonder. (Points to the forest.)

Dame Klásek.—To the little castle. And Hanička ran off after the miller. You are waiting for her here. Has she not passed here yet?

Máchal.—Leave me alone!

Dame Klásek.—Speak, or I’ll—

Míchal (Defiantly).—No, she has not.

Dame Klásek.—Aha—And that is true about the magistrate? The miller knows nothing about it.

Míchal.—How could he know. He was guiding the Princess to the little castle.

Dame Klásek.—And you will lead me there!

Míchal (Becomes frightened).—I! (Angrily.) No!

Dame Klásek.—And immediately! Light the lantern! (Looks sharply into his eyes, raises her right hand and speaks in the tones of a sorcerer.)

O where were you, you faithless one,
When Christ was christened by St. John?
Away from the water!

Míchal is restless and squirms during the conjuring.

Dame Klásek.—Not yet? Do you want me to use a rope on you? (Feels about in her pocket, as if a rope were there.) I will bind you and tie you to a hot stove; I will call the miller and Braha.

Máchal (Becomes frightened and fretful).—No, only not that!

Dame Klásek.—Well, then, on to the woods! You will lead me. Strike a light!

Míchal blows into the lantern. A flame bursts forth within.

Dame Klásek.—Go on, ribbon dealer, with the wet coat tail. (Pulls his coat tail.)

Míchal, gnashing his teeth, enters the forest. Dame Klásek follows him.

TABLEAU II

A terrace before the little castle in the woods. The center curves toward the rear; in the bend a wide flight of steps, with a balustrade, leading to the right and left down to the little lake. Doors lead from the right and left to the wings of the little castle. Below the terrace, trees. In the rear, a view of the deep forest behind the lake. Night; the moon above the forest.

Scene I

Ivan

Ivan (Enters by the steps on the left, looks about the terrace).—Nothing, all is quiet; and yet from below it seemed to me a human voice came from the little castle. (Listens.) Nothing. (Goes to both doors.) Locked. (Goes back, seats himself on the balustrade.) Silence; just as I wanted it. Water, a forest, and no human voices. (Sighs with satisfaction.) And no poetry, and no sighings! O beautiful moon, here thou hast peace. Thou surely must enjoy beaming down here, where no contemptible human carousing is heard from every corner. Thou carest not to leave this quiet spot. Thou carest not to roam about farther over the wide woods. (With satisfaction.) Ah—(He suddenly starts and listens.) A voice! (Listens.) A human voice! (Angrily.) Who dares, who has purposely, to spite me—?(A key is heard rattling in the right-hand door of the little castle. Ivan quickly steps to the left; comes down the stairs, that he may not be seen, and watches.)

Scene II

Ivan, a Lady’s Maid, later Zan

Maid (Enters rapidly, but halts, in blank amazement).—Ah!

Zan (Behind her, carrying two chairs, which he places near the door on the right).—You are surprised, eh! Perhaps you will stop grumbling that the Princess sent us here.

Maid (Goes to the balustrade, looks down).—Ah, water—a lake—But that darkness beneath the trees, almost black!

Zan (Mysteriously).—They say that phantoms may be seen there—

Maid (Suddenly).—Are you beginning again? Something more of ghosts and wood spirits, with which you tried to frighten the life out of me on the way!

Zan.—I only quote what I have heard, and as for the rest, the Lord be with us, and all harm leave us! I didn’t mention a thing about this terrace then. Certainly nothing about the dead monk. No, did I—?

Maid (Jumps back from the balustrade).—Be still, stop saying those things; you want to frighten me out of here. Come, we had better bring a table. (Suddenly.) And did the Princess really order a table to be brought out on the terrace, now, at night time?

Zan.—“When you arrive at the little castle with Tereza,” she said, “set a table on the terrace for me.”

Maid.—But you did not tell her about that monk?

Zan.—There was not time for that, but if there had been, I should have told her that here, long ago, one night, when the nobility were playing cards here after a hunt, a dead monk revealed himself, the deceased brother of the then ruling prince. That monk by rights should have been the ruler, but they deprived him of his due and put him into a monastery, and there he died. And suddenly—

Maid (Moving quickly toward the door).—you had better come for the table. (Halts on the threshold.) But that happened long ago, you say.

Zan.—What?

Zan.—Why, the dead monk suddenly stationed himself behind his brother and looked down at his cards, a dead man—exactly at midnight—

Maid.—The table, the table!

(Leaves hurriedly through the door.)

Zan follows her.

Scene III

Ivan

Ivan (Steps out cautiously).—A gossiping woman, a garrulous old man; and besides, the Princess, and goodness knows who else—And perhaps they intend staying here—brr—

(Carries both chairs to the left, where he turns them upside down, and again retires to the stairs on left.

Scene IV

Zan, the Maid

Zan (Carrying a table with the Maid).—To the front, farther to the front, so—

Maid.—So the Count is really not coming?

Zan.—I believe not.—But why are you running away?

Maid.—I’m afraid of that—I keep thinking he is standing behind me—uh!

Maid.—Does he walk here?

Zan.—Sometimes.

Maid screams slightly, is about to run.

Zan.—Are you crazy, Tereza? Now for the chairs. (Turns to the right.) They are not here. Why, I placed them right here.

Maid (Frightened).—And they are over there and upside down!

Zan.—Did you do that?

Maid.—I didn’t even have them in my hands.

Zan.—You don’t say so!

Maid.—Don’t you remember, I didn’t leave your side for a single step.

Zan.—And I stood them yonder and now they are—That happened while we were fetching the table—

Maid.—But who, who,—who? would— Perhaps the—oh!

Zan.—The dead monk. But it isn’t midnight yet.

Maid.—Come, let us get away from here I am getting terrified?

Ivan sighs deeply.

Maid.—Did you hear that? (Grasps Zan by the hand.) Come, for mercy’s sake, come! (Pulls Zan after her to the door.)

Zan.—But Tereza, perhaps that was mere imagination. (Stands at the door, looks about.)

Ivan, on the bottom step on the left, stands rigid, silent, with eyes glaring threatingly.

Zan.—O! (Involuntarily crosses himself.) Maid screams and darts inside. Zan follows her. The door slams. A rapid, excited turning of a key can be heard within the castle.

Ivan.—Perhaps they’ll be quiet now. (Goes to the balustrade; half sitting on it, pulls a small pipe from his belt, lights it; at the same time bends down and looks ahead.) A light! Under the trees in the dark and aiming straight ahead. (Looks toward the stairs on the right.) There are two coming, and they are heading straight for here. The abominable race! (Rapidly crosses to the left and descends the steps.)

Scene V

Miller, Princess

Princess (On the stairs on the right. Cannot be seen as yet).—Make a light here—so—O, everything is just as I imagined it to be—balustrades, old mouldering stairs!

Miller stands on the uppermost step on the right, holding the lighted lantern.

Princess (Enters, stops)—And here—(viewing the building) ah, a strange, interesting, forsaken structure—And a spirit is in it, in the whole of if, in the oruaments.—O’ language of past centuries! (Turns to the rear:) And there! (Hurries to the balustrade, gazes silently; then:) And this is still another work of art. It is poetry—silent music. The lake as if fallen asleep by the light of the moon—what mysterious enchantment! (Suddenly turns about.) Have you ever been here before?

Miller.—Never at this time of night.

Princess.—Do you like it here?

Miller (With ardor).—A beautiful night.

Princess.—Indeed it is! On such a night beautiful dreams enter the soul. (To the Miller.) The solitude!

Miller.—Shall you not be afraid here, Your Grace?

Princess.—Afraid? (Looks at him thoughtfully for a moment, then bursts forth.) Why do you hold the lantern?

Miller.—Not to forget—

Princess.—What?

Miller (Hesitates a moment).—My duty. (Sets the lantern on the balustrade; remains standing beside it.)

Princess.—You did more than your duty. I am grateful to you. But do rest a while before starting on your return journey. You said you were in no hurry and your people are at home.

Miller.—A little while will make no differece.

Princess.—And tell me truthfully, are you vexed because you had to come with me?

Princess.—But you came unwillingly.

Princess.—You too are different from what I have heard of you. (A key rattles in the door. Princess is unpleasantly surprised.)

Scene VI

Zan and the preceding

Zan (Opening the door, cautiously looks about).—The Lord be praised! (Comes in and turns his eyes toward the stairs on the left.)

Princess.—Ah, old Zan. I do not desire anything as yet.

Zan.—Your Grace, I—(Looks toward the left.)

Princess.—Where is Tereza?

Zan.—Way back in the last room. She is afraid.

Princess.—And you, too. So you just hide there likewise and wait until I call.

Zan (Hesitates, casting glances toward the left).—Your Grace, I really would—

Princess (Impatiently).—Do go.

Zan (Leaving).—But if horror gets hold of her! (Goes out on the right.)

Scene VII

Princess, Miller

Princess.—They are afraid. And it is no wonder. The late hour, the light of the moon, and black shadows in so remote a solitude (More quickly.) The time and place are full of mysterious apparitions and (enticingly to the Miller) of stories. Now you could tell one. (Urgently.) Do tell one. (Steps closer to him.)

Princess.—Just as you said.

Miller.—Well, then, I’ll begin.

From the forest a duet on hunting horns is heard.

Princess.—Ah, that faint sound! Like a touching greeting from this beautiful night.

Miller.—Perhaps those musicians are seeking—

Princess (Hurriedly).—No, no, don’t mention any names. I do not care to know the hand or lips that awoke that harmony. I only wish to listen.—Do you hear! (A seond short due.) How it is wafted through the mysterious calmness of the woods! How blissfully it dies away in the distance! And even after its completion it reawakens in a faint echo. (Standing directly beside him, she bends toward him.) Do you hear!—

Miller (Confused).—On such nights I used to hear from the old people—

Princess.—O, what does the past matter! On such nights the soul awakens.

Miller (Still more at a loss).—Your—Grace—

Princess (Suddenly).—Enough! No titles! Sometimes a mere word is like a frost, that which withers the swift-budding flower of feeling. Do not frighten away the birds which have begun to sing!

Miller (On his guard).—How can you treat me thus?

Princess (Suddenly).—I have confidence in you.

Miller.—I am an opponent of yours.

Princess.—O no, not any longer! And you must not be! You will come with me.

Miller.—Where? (As he starts in surprise, he strikes the lantern with his elbow.) O, the lantern!

Princess.—What of it, it will no longer be bothersome to you. You will come with me to the city, to the palace.

Miller.—To the city—I—to the palace?

Princess.—You are wasted here, you are fit for something different; I desire to have you there.—You will be happier there; there you will find a different world.

Miller.—And leave everything behind; forsake my land, my—(The thought frightens him; suddenly) Your grace, dismiss me!

Princess (Softly, coquettishly).—Are you afraid?

Miller.—I am. I am afraid of you.

Princess (Calmly).—Is it because I want to lift you out of the depths that you may live a different, a better life? You will be promoted as an official

Miller.—In that case I should serve even more than I am now obliged to with the lantern—

Princess.—I will free the mill from that, if you come.—Consent!

Miller.—And leave the old linden to destruction?

Princess.—What is an old decaying tree to you?

Miller.—And Hanička!

Princess.—Could such a simple girl detain you; for her should you be willing to renounce promotion or power; for her sake would you ruin a brilliant future?

Miller.—I do not long for power.

Princess.—But should you obtain it, you will be of use to your own people.

Miller (Dazzled).—To my own people! To these poor people who sigh for their rights. But how could I—how could it be possible?

Princess.—Have you no trust in me?

Miller.—I trust you now, but first I should have to—at home—

Princess.—No; you must not delay; decide immediately. (Enticingly.) You’ll go, won’t you?

Suddenly Dame Klásek’s voice is heard on the right, under the steps.

Dame Klásek.—O you monster! Catch him!

A chorus of voices consisting of Sejtko, Zima, and Klásek; then a splash of water and loud laughter.

Ivan dashes across the top step and looks over the balustrade.

Dame Klásek.—Miller! Miller! Are you here?

Miller (Turning in the direction of the voice).—I am. What is the matter?

Dame Klásek.—I bring you news.

Miller (Swinging the lantern).—Here, here I am. (Then quickly sets the lantern on the balustrade and descends one step). What has happened?

Scene VIII

Dame Klásek, the preceding, then Zan

Dame Klásek (Ascending the steps, but not yet at the top).—Is Hanička here?

Miller.Hanicka? Why should she be here? What has happened?

Princess (To herself).—The Count must have—

Dame Klásek.—She followed you.

Princess.—O!

Miller (Taken aback).—And I here!

Dame Klásek (Having ascended, stands at the door).—But when she had run off, they came for her to the mill.

Miller (Violently).—Who?

Dame Klásek.—The magistrate.

Miller (Turns to the Princess).—Do you hear?

Dame Klásek (With a smile).—But they came too late. Hanička was gone.—So they turned away and started directly for the linden.

Princess.—Impossible!

Miller.—How do you know that?

Dame Klásek.—That stupid water sprite told me. Your water sprite, the one from your mill. He was watching for Hanička under the old linden in the meadow, and there I caught him. I caught him; I am always croaking like a raven, a crow, as you did me the honor to say; but it’s a useful bird, the raven! I plucked at the water sprite, subdued him, and chased him on ahead of me on dry land through the pine woods all the way here; and I should even have brought him to you, but I happened to run up against three royal gentlemen below here, a sad spectacle indeed; the fourth of their number had lost himself, that first-class teacher’s assistant. I had hardly glanced at them when the little water sprite jerked away from me; just as soon as he caught sight of the water, he immediately gained more strength, jerked away from me and plumped into the water.

Miller.—Where is Hanička?

Dame Klásek.—That I don’t know.

Dame Klásek.—As I have already said, they were on their way to it.

Miller (To the Princess).—Do you hear that, Your Grace? O for shame, shame! That you should have had your hand in this, that you should have led me here and kept me here. That is why you tried to entice me to the city, that is why you promised things, that they might carry away Hanička, that they might trample down my rights, overthrow the linden, mock at it and at us!

Princess.—You do me great injustice—I knew nothing of this.

Miller.—Now you deny it, but woe to your helpers!

(Leaves by the steps on the right.)

Dame Klásek, who, standing farther down on the steps, has observed all this with surprise, gazes after the Miller, then waves down to the musicians, but remains on the steps. She calls in a low voice).—Klásek! Zima!

Princess (With a sigh).—So this is the peace of the mysterious solitude! My dream! O heart of man, thou art not peaceful! Peace ever flees when thy beating is but heard. This journey was meant to test him and to punish him and instead I myself am punished. What must he think of me! What have those zealous servants brought down upon me! That I should be despised. That because of this dream——(Goes out by the door on the left.)

Zan picks up the lantern and follows her.

Scene IX

Dame Klásek, Ivan, Zima, Klásek, Sejtko

Dame Klásek, who has meanwhile stepped down, returns and waves, but still faces the steps. Suddenly, when she reaches the top step and turns forward to the terrace, Ivan appears opposite her on the top step of the left-hand staircase.

Ivan stands rigid, causing Zan and the Maid to become frightened as before.

Dame Klásek (Spits abruptly).—My, but I got a fright! So that is the way you act! Change form, do you? Or are you Míchal’s uncle! You are monster enough for that. Well, come on! Come! (Suddenly.) Good people, wherever you are, Klásek, Sejtko, Your Grace, and all your servants, every last one of you, catch him, catch the horrid creature! (Chases after him.) Ivan disappears.

Klásek (Runs up the steps).—Good Lord, Mama!

Sejtko (Follows).—What’s going on?

Zima (Follows).—Dame Klásek!

Dame Klásek.—He was here—the water sprite.

Sejtko (Teasingly).—The one you roamed about the forest with?

Dame Klásek.—Yes, and embraced around the neck. Or another. But I’ll catch that one of mine, Sejtko, I’ll catch him again; catch him and beat him some more to make up for the thrashing I’d give you now, Sejtko, if I had time: the Princess has left and I must follow the miller. (Leaves by the steps on the right.)

Klásek.—Heavens, just look at our Mama, and she is always so loving!

Zima.—I should judge, and my reason leads me to believe—(As he goes out.)

Sejtko.—That we are of no use here. (Goes out.)

Klásek (Follows them).—Heavens, Mama,—how she did look for me, and what anxiety she had for me! (Goes out.)

The stage is empty for a moment.

Scene X

Ivan, later Míchal

Ivan (Enters from the left by the steps).—That dragon is gone and they (points to the door) will surely go likewise. But this one here! (Bends over the railing.) Míchal! Míchal! (Stands back and waits a moment on the top step at the right.)

Míchal (Takes his stand cautiously and timidly on the top step at the left. In a terrified voice).—Ivan! Has that serpent gone?

Ivan.—Yes. Ah, so we have met promptly! What did I tell you! And the miller did not overpower you; it took a woman to do it! And have you heard what she is going to do to you?

Míchal.—I have.

Ivan.—I wouldn’t go near there.

Míchal.—I won’t go there again.

Ivan.—She would catch you and—

Míchal.—And I, I should—die of grief—there.

Ivan.—Stupid thing! Are you still in love? And where shall you go now?

Míchal (Painfully).—Into the world, to seek another stream. But please let me stay here today.

Ivan.—Just to spend this night—but no longer. And let there be no sighing, no whimpering! I want to have peace. (Goes out.)

Míchal (Stepping forward on the terrace, gazes ahead of him sadly; then wrings his hands yearningly toward the right). O, my sunbeam!

ACT IV

Scene same as Act III, Tableau I. The moon is shining.

Scene I

Hanícka, then Zajíček

Hanička (Enters from the right, crosses the stones rapidly, and stands near the linden).—If you, old linden, reminded him—

Zajíček (From the woods on the left; is frightened, then joyfully).—Hanička! My, but you gave me a fright; I thought you were a forest maiden.

Hanička.—O, they do live about here. But what are you doing here? Where are the others?

Zajíček.—They went to the little castle. I had to come back. O dear me, I lost that rhymed, petition, and most likely, and I think for certain, that it must have been here (searches about carefully) when we were frightened away.

Hanička.—What——

Zajíček.—No, no. I’m afraid to mention the subject around here. But how about you, where are you going?

Hanička.—After Libor; he is leading the Princess to the little castle.

Zajíček.—He? The miller! But if I could only find that petition. (Begins to look for it.) Without it, the concert is impossible.

Hanička.—We will go together.

Zajííek.—Immediately—but it was here that—(kneels and seeks further) I read it.—Nothing—not a sign of it anywhere.

Soft music is heard from the forest.

Zajíček (Stops looking for the petition; listens, kneeling).—Heavens, Hanička, do you hear that?

Hanička.—I do.

From the forest a soft chorus of forest maidens’ voices is heard:

On marges and hillsides
By shepherds’ fires,
Past gardens and hearth sides
And ruined spires;
O’er the graves of the nation
Where nobody knows,
Winding and fragrant,
Wild thyme grows.

Hanička (Quietly).—Do you understand?

Zajíček (Disturbed, in a stifled voice).—Indeed I do.

Soft music from the forest.

Zajíček (As if in rapture).—How sweetly it sounds, and it is wafted like a message from the darkness of bygone nights, as if softly resounding from afar out of childhood. It is as though I were listening again with my sister and gazing into the face of my mother, which warmed us to the depths of our hearts and glowed even as a ray of light gleams to the depths of a forest well.

Near the birch trees a forest maiden appears, two others stepping forth at the same time from the forest in the background; more come forth from the right. They glance about like timid fawns and again disappear. Immediately others appear from behind the trees in the little meadow.

Zajíček.—Good Lord, it’s a dream, I’m dreaming. Hanička!

The soft music suddenly ceases, the forest maidens vanish.

Hanička (Disturbed).—They are coming!

Zajíček.—Who?

Hanička.—They are coming to fetch me, to carry me away!

Zajíček.—Run, run—here into the forest.

Hanička.—It’s too late! Do you hear them?

Scene II

Bailiff, Franc, the preceding

Franc (Behind the scene, from the outskirts of the forest on left)—Have no fear.

Bailiff.—Why, I’m not afraid. (Enters, looks about him timidly.) She is already gone, I think.

Franc follows him, clinging to him timidly.

Just then, from all corners of the forest, forest maidens swarm forth, clasping one an-other’s hands and forming a circle around the linden. Soft music.

Bailiff (Trembling).—That is—that is—Mr. Office—

Franc runs back.

Bailiff.—Mr. Officer!

(Disappears behind him into the woods. The linden tree opens.)

Hanička enters it.

Zajíček.—I fear for you.

Hanička.—Protect me!

Just then it becomes dark; the music ceases.

Forest maidens disappear.

When the moon became forth again, Zajíček is standing under the linden.

Zajiíček (Alone, amazed. Suddenly turns toward the linden).—Hanička! Hanička!

Scene III

Magistrate, several servants carrying axes and saws, Braha among them (his arms bound with a rope), Zajíček.

Magistrate (From the right).—She is here, she must be here; and that is the cursed linden. Ah, no other than the teacher’s assistant himself! What is he doing here?

Zajíček.—So please you, sir, we intended giving a concert.

Magistrate (Snickering).—Here— a concert! To whom are you talking, rascal? (Suddenly, curtly.) Where is that girl from the mill?

Zajíček (Frightened).—Hanička?

Magistrate (Sharply, emphatically, as if sure of his point).—She was here.

Zajíček (Confused).—She was—that is—

Magistrate.—Where is she, where did she go?

Zajíček.—So please you, sir, I don’t know.

Magistrate.—She has hidden here.

Zajíček.—So please you sir, I don’t know.

Magistrate.—Don’t know,—you don’t know. How should you not know when you are an accomplice of the miller. You most certainly know that they have a hiding place here. Out with it!

Zajíček.—I know nothing of a hiding place.

Magistrate.—Nor of the girl either, I suppose. So! Here we have a teacher’s assistant who ought to teach obedience to youth! He is a rebel.

Zajíček (Frightened).—So please you, sir, no; that I am not, most noble, kind director—

Magistrate.—You are, and what a malicious, obstinate sort! You would like to have a school in the town, to become a choirmaster, and lead a choir—that indeed—to have a goodly amount of earnings and profits, several cords of wood and gifts—that indeed and besides a huge stole thrown in with it—that indeed!

Zajíček (Sheepishly).—Lord, O Lord!

Magistrate.—But to help the nobility, to tell where the girl is, that you refuse!

Zajíček.—Your Honor, most kind officer, have mercy—

Magistrate.—Have you any mercy! You ought to have mercy on your Dornička. She is waiting and waiting, would like to get married, right off if she could, if you could obtain a school in town. And you would obtain it too—but you would have to tell where that foundling is, who really belongs to the nobility. You ought to remember Dornička!

Zajíček (In a low voice, to himself).—To have Dornička, to sit at an organ—

Braha.—You’d be the most miserable scamp ever hatched!

Magistrate (Storms at him).—Be still! (To Zajíček.) Well, then, if you tell, you shall be promoted to the office of choirmaster the first thing tomorrow.

Zajíček.—Good-Lord!—And what will happen to Hanička if I tell? What will become of her?

Magistrate.—As the law and our authority see fit: she will go to court as a maid of honor.

Zajíček (Quickly and decisively, bursts forth violently).—No, not that! I’ll not tell!

Braha (Joyfully).—O, kind sir!

Magistrate (Furiously).—Does a starving teacher’s assistant dare speak in such a manner, in such a manner! An accomplice! But things will not continue thus; this moment they shall change: I will discharge you from duty!

Zajíček.—My place lost!

Magistrate.—I will discharge you and send you off to the army if you do not tell.

Zajíček is silent.

Magistrate.—Then you refuse to tell?

Zajíček.—Yes. Rather than permit such an outrage, that Hanička be humbled, disgraced!

Braha.—O Lord, reward him!

Magistrate.—Then you refuse? (To the servants.) Now for the linden. Fell it at once, without delay.

Zajíček (Becomes frightened and reluctantly leans against the linden).—Fell it!

Magistrate.—Hurry, make haste!

First and second servant walk around the linden with axes. The third servant holds a saw.

Zajíček involuntarily thinks of Hanička’s song and mumbles to himself in a trembling voice.)

“When first it knocks
’Tis wood that sighs,”

First Servant (To Zajíček).—Begone!

Zajíček refuses to move.

Second Servant (Pushes him away).—Begone, I say!

Magistrate.—Begin; fell it.

Zajíček (Trembling, mumbling).—

“My heart replies.” (Suddenly.) Wait!

Servant drops the raised axe.

Zajíček (Clasping his hands, addresses the Magistrate).—Most noble—for mercy’s sake, stop them!

Magistrate.—So you are even concerned about the linden! Or else—ah! (He gets an idea.) So that is where she is! (Quickly addresses the servants.) Cut—cut, and then saw, quickly!

Zajíček (Forcing his way to the linden).—No, you shall not cut it down, you must not, because—

Scene IV

Miller, the preceding

Miller (From the left, rushes forth from the woods).—If you dare to— (Strikes the servants.) Begone! (Snatches the axe from one of them.)

Zajíček.—O Lord!

Braha (Forces his way to the Miller, holding up his bound hands). O sir, I’ll help you!—But see (showing his hands) those rascals have—

Miller (Cuts the rope, steps in front of the linden. Addresses the Magistrate).—Come on, come on, Your Honor! (To the servants.) Which of you will move!

Braha (Steps beside the Miller).—If any one of you dares—

Zajíček (To the Miller).—Hanička is saved. (Stands beside the Miller.) She is here, in the linden.

Magistrate.—A rebellion! (To servants.) You old women, make for them!

Scene V

Courtier, the preceding, a servants of the Courtier.

Courtier (Enters from left, out of the forest).—Where is that girl from the mill!

Magistrate.—She escaped us; she had already vanished by the time we got to the mill!

Courtier.—So? The girl gone and the linden still standing? Sir Magistrate, you are an accomplice of theirs.

Magistrate.—I, my Lord Count? (Points to the Miller.) This explains it.

Courtier (Spying the Miller for the first time).—You here! And where is the Princess?

Courtier.—You with an axe in your hand?

Miller.—Perhaps you know the reason, and if not, you will soon understand; if anyone ventures to touch my linden—

Courtier.—Are you insane! (With a smile.) You stand alone, and against you—just count the number against you! If you do not give in willingly, if you do not give up—

Miller.—No! I stand alone, but I can resist all. I will not give up Hanička, that she be humbled; I will defend my rights against everybody and I will not give them up; no, never, if I have to fall here!

Courtier (Angrily).—Make for him!

Braha (To the servants).—Could you be so low as to obey strangers and use arms against your own people?

Servants, who have been preparing to strike, hesitate.

Courtier.—Make for them!

Scene VI

Dame Klásek, Klásek, Zima, Sejtko, the preceding

Dame Klásek (Bursting in from the left).—Aha—so this is it! Miller, don’t let them get the best of you!

Magistrate.—Be still!

Dame Klásek.—I won’t; and I’ll help too, if necessary. (To servants.) And you don’t mean to tell me you’d try to cut down that old linden! Have you no fear?

Courtier (With a sneer).—Of what! Perhaps of some curse from heaven! Go into the mill for that old sibyl, that she may see miracles. (Pulls out a sword.) Come on!

Magistrate.—Follow him! Have no fear of anything; it is all lies!

Miller (Axe in hand, steps forward to meet them).—Back!

Just then it becomes dark, the crown of the old linden suddenly blazes forth. Lights shine forth in it and solemn music is heard from aloft, like the sound of a distant organ.

Servants begin to run away toward the right.

Courtier, Magistrate, as if stunned, withdraw confusedly toward the right.

Dame Klásek, Klásek, Zima, Sejtko fall on their knees.

Miller stands in the same position, threatening, with axe in hand.

Zajíček stands under the linden itself in enthusiastic rapture.

Braha has fallen on his knees beneath the linden. The linden opens and Hanička steps forth.

Hanička.—You have returned to me! You have found me!

Miller.—My vision became blurred, I went astray. But I have you back, Hanička, my soul, my strength!

Zajíček (Moved).—O, the thyme!

Meanwhile a chorus of male voices bursts forth from above:

The spirit of the race is a broad shield
That through the strife of ages works its charms;
The deeds our fathers did, the dreams they dreamed,
Live in this blessed heritage of ancient arms.

Scene VII

Princess, Zan, carrying the Miller’s lantern, Maid, and the preceding with the exception of the servants.

Princess comes in from the wood on the left.

The light in the linden tree is becoming dim, the music is dying away. Courtier is bewildered. Magistrate, confused, is about to step forward towards the Princess, but does not dare.

Princess (To the Courtier and the Magistrate).—I now comprehend, I understand what you should have known, and failed to know, or else knew and still ruthlessly set at naught. This tree here is the embodied spirit of the people, made sacred through their homage and faith. Let no one even touch it with evil intent! What you intended to accomplish was of your own caprice, and you only served me ill thereby. (To Miller, pointing to the linden.) That is your right and will remain your right. You have remained true to it. But yet you did not trust me. (Takes lantern from Zan.) Behold, as I break this lantern and thereby free you from servitude for all time, so do I tell the truth when I say that knew nothing of this intrigue. (Throws the lantern to the ground, breaking it.)

Miller.—Now I believe you, Your Grace, and I shall gratefully remember your words.

Princess (With a bitter smile).—And you have your happiness.

Miller (Grasps Hanička’s hand).—Yes, with Hanička only can I be happy.

Zajíček (Bowing deeply, timidly approaches).—Your Grace!

Princess.—You are——?

Miller.—This is the teacher’s assistant.

Zajíček (Bursts out).—A teacher’s assistant, so please you, or rather, at all events, an assistant in two schools; that is, I was, but am no more. The magistrate here discharged me.

Princess.—You would like to be choirmaster in the town. I am acquainted with your petition.

Zajíček.—O Lord!

Princess.—You may have the position beginning tomorrow.

Zajíček.—O Your Grace! (Suddenly remembers.) But the concert!

Princess.—Leave that until I come here again some other time. To MAGISTRATE.) Does this road lead to the castle? (Points to the foreground on left.)

Magistrate.—So please you, it does, this way—this way.

Magistrate leaves by way of left foreground.

Courtier (Following him, in a low voice to himself).—But without Daphnis.

Princess (To Miller and Hanička.—Good bye! Now you will have peace. (Leaving.) And I shall return from my short dream into the life of golden ennui. (Leaves, following the Courtier.,

Scene VIII

Miller, Hanička, Braha, Klásek, Dame Klásek, Sejtko, Zima, Zajíček

Zajíček (Bursts forth joyfully).—Good heavens! Dornička, there will be a wedding! A wedding! And I’m choirmaster!

Braha.—You certainly were a hero.

Hanička (pointing to the lantern).—The glass castle is broken, so ends the story. (To the Miller.) Now you will serve no more and the linden will remain standing.

Miller.—And you with me. (To the linden.) God bless thee. I still hear and shall always hear the song it sang.

Hanička (Cautiously).—Grandmother is waiting anxiously.

Miller.—Come let us go! (Goes out, encircling Hanička around the waist and turning toward the linden.) God bless thee; may’st thou stand for ever and ever!

Hanička goes out with him.

Dame Klásek (Shaking her fist in the direction of the Magistrate). We shall never be troubled by bailiffs again!

Braha (About to go out after the Miller).—But what of that plague, the water sprite?

Zima.—I should judge and my reason leads me to believe—

Klásek.—That he’ll never return again.

Dame Klásek.—And if he does, I’ll drive him away by looking at him.

Sejtko.—I don’t doubt it—but what of the cards, the—

Dame Klásek (Rapidly).—Those I lost when I was fighting with the water sprite.

Klásek.—O, what a pity, she always referred to those dear cards out of constant anxiety for my welfare.

Dame Klásek.—O, come on! (Goes out.)

Zajíček.—And now, dear people. let us go and give a concert in the mill. (Goes out on the right.)

Klásek.—And then let us go to our Mama!

(Goes out after the rest on the right.)

1. Vaclav I (Wenceslas I).—Was prince of Bohemia from 928 to 936; he was later canonized by the Catholic Church. According to the legend, he and his warriors sleep beneath Mount Blaník, whence they will emerge to save their country in its hour of direst need, when the enemies shall be so numerous that they might carry away the whole kingdom on their horses’ hoofs.

This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

Original: This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928. The longest-living author of this work died in 1930, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 92 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928. The longest-living author of this work died in 1988, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 34 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1974, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 48 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.