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Love and Intrigue

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<SPAN name="link2H_4_0034" id="link2H_4_0034"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> ACT V. </h2> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0035" id="link2H_4_0035"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE I.&mdash;Twilight; a room in MILLER'S house. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> LOUISA sits silent and motionless in a dark corner of the room, her head reclining upon her hand. After a long pause, MILLER enters with a lantern, the light of which he casts anxiously round the chamber, without observing LOUISA, he then puts his hat on the table, and sets down the lantern. LOUISA, MILLER. </pre> <p> MILLER. She is not here either. No, she is not here! I have wandered through every street; I have sought her with every acquaintance; I have inquired at every door! No one has seen my child! (A silence of some moments.) Patience, poor unhappy father! Patience till morning; then perhaps the corpse of your only one may come floating to shore. Oh, God in heaven! What though my heart has hung too idolatrously upon this daughter, yet surely the punishment is severe! Heavenly Father! Surely it is severe! I will not murmur, Heavenly Father; but the punishment is indeed severe! (Throws himself sorrowfully into a chair.) </p> <p> LOUISA (without moving from her seat). Thou dost well, wretched old man! Learn betimes to lose. </p> <p> MILLER (starts up eagerly). Ah! art thou there, my child? Art thou there? But wherefore thus alone, and without a light? </p> <p> LOUISA. Yet am I not alone. When all things around me are dark and gloomy then have I the companionship which most I love. </p> <p> MILLER. God defend thee, my child! The worm of conscience alone wakes and watches with the owl; none shun the light but criminals and evil spirits. </p> <p> LOUISA. And eternity, father, which speaks to the soul in solitude! </p> <p> MILLER. Louisa, my child! What words are these? </p> <p> LOUISA (rises, and comes forward). I have fought a hard fight&mdash;you know it, father! but God gave me the strength! The fight is over! Father, our sex is called timid and weak; believe it no more! We tremble at a spider, but the black monster, corruption, we hug to our arms in sport! This for your edification, father. Your Louisa is merry. </p> <p> MILLER. I had rather you wept. It would, please me better. </p> <p> LOUISA. How I will outwit him, father! How I shall cheat the tyrant! Love is more crafty than malice, and bolder&mdash;he knew not that, the man of the unlucky star! Oh! they are cunning so long as they have but to do with the head; but when they have to grapple with the heart the villains are at fault. He thought to seal his treachery with an oath! Oaths, father, may bind the living, but death dissolves even the iron bonds of the sacrament! Ferdinand will learn to know his Louisa. Father, will you deliver this letter for me? Will you do me the kindness? </p> <p> MILLER. To whom, my child? </p> <p> LOUISA. Strange question! Infinitude and my heart together had not space enough for a single thought but of him. To whom else should I write? </p> <p> MILLER (anxiously). Hear me, Louisa! I must read this letter! </p> <p> LOUISA. As you please, father! but you will not understand it. The characters lie there like inanimate corpses, and live but for the eye of love. </p> <p> MILLER (reading). "You are betrayed, Ferdinand! An unparalleled piece of villany has dissolved the union of our hearts; but a dreadful vow binds my tongue, and your father has spies stationed upon every side. But, if thou hast courage, my beloved, I know a place where oaths no longer bind, and where spies cannot enter." (MILLER stops short, and gazes upon her steadfastly.) </p> <p> LOUISA. Why that earnest look, father? Read what follows. </p> <p> MILLER. "But thou must be fearless enough to wander through a gloomy path with no other guides than God and thy Louisa. Thou must have no companion but love; leave behind all thy hopes, all thy tumultuous wishes&mdash;thou wilt need nothing on this journey but thy heart. Darest thou come; then set out as the bell tolls twelve from the Carmelite Tower. Dost thou fear; then erase from the vocabulary of thy sex's virtues the word courage, for a maiden will have put thee to shame." (MILLER lays down the letter and fixes his eyes upon the ground in deep sorrow. At length he turns to LOUISA, and says, in a low, broken voice) Daughter, where is that place? </p> <p> LOUISA. Don't you know it, father? Do you really not know it? 'Tis strange! I have described it unmistakably! Ferdinand will not fail to find it. </p> <p> MILLER. Pray speak plainer! </p> <p> LOUISA. I can think of no pleasing name for it just now! You must not be alarmed, father, if the name I give it has a terrible sound. That place,&mdash;&mdash;Oh! why has no lover invented a name for it! He would have chosen the softest, the sweetest&mdash;that place, my dear father&mdash;but you must not interrupt me&mdash;that place is&mdash;the grave! </p> <p> MILLER (staggering to a seat). Oh, God! </p> <p> LOUISA (hastens to him, and supports him). Nay, father, be not alarmed! These are but terrors which hover round an empty word! Take away the name and the grave will seem to be a bridal-bed over which Aurora spreads her golden canopy and spring strews her fairest flowers. None but a groaning sinner pictures death as a skeleton; to others he is a gentle, smiling boy, blooming as the god of love, but not so false&mdash;a silent, ministering spirit who guides the exhausted pilgrim through the desert of eternity, unlocks for him the fairy palace of everlasting joy, invites him in with friendly smiles, and vanishes forever! </p> <p> MILLER. What meanest thou, my child? Surely, thou wilt not lay guilty hands on thine own life? </p> <p> LOUISA. Speak not thus, father! To quit a community from which I am already rejected, to fly voluntarily to a place from which I cannot much longer be absent, is that a sin? </p> <p> MILLER. Suicide is the most horrible of sins, my child. 'Tis the only one that can never he repented, since death arrives at the moment the crime is committed. </p> <p> LOUISA (stands motionless with horror). That is dreadful! But my death will not be so sudden, father. I will spring into the river, and while the waters are closing over me, cry to the Almighty for mercy and forgiveness! </p> <p> MILLER. That is to say, you will repent the theft as soon as the treasure is secure! Daughter! Daughter! beware how you mock your God when you most need his help! Oh! you have gone far, far astray! You have forgotten the worship of your Creator, and he has withdrawn his protecting hand from you! </p> <p> LOUISA. Is it, then, a crime to love, father? </p> <p> MILLER. So long as thou lovest God thou wilt never love man to idolatry. Thou hast bowed me down low, my only one! low! very low! perhaps to the grave! Yet will I not increase the sadness of thy heart. Daughter! I gave vent to my feelings as I entered. I thought myself alone! Thou hast overheard me! and why should I longer conceal the truth. Thou wert my idol! Hear me, Louisa, if there is yet room in thy heart for a father's feelings. Thou wert my all! Of thine own thou hast nothing more to lose, but I have my all at stake! My life depends on thee! My hairs are turning gray, Louisa; they show that the time is drawing nigh with me when fathers look for a return of the capital invested in the hearts of their children. Wilt thou defraud me of this, Louisa? Wilt thou away and bear with thee all the wealth of thy father? </p> <p> LOUISA (kissing his hand in the deepest emotion). No, father, no! I go from this world deeply in your debt, and will repay you with usury in the world to come. </p> <p> MILLER. Beware, my child, lest thy reckoning should be false! (very earnestly and solemnly). Art thou certain that we shall meet in that world to come? Lo! how the color fades from thy cheek! My child must feel that I can scarcely overtake her in that other world if she hurries there before me. (LOUISA throws herself shuddering into his arms, he clasps her warmly to his bosom, and continues in a tone of fervent adjuration.) Oh! Louisa! Louisa! Fallen, perhaps already lost, daughter! Treasure in thy heart the solemn counsels of a father! I cannot eternally watch over thee! I may snatch the dagger from thy hands; but thou canst let out life with a bodkin. I may remove poison from thy reach; but thou canst strangle thyself with a necklace. Louisa! Louisa! I can only warn thee. Wilt thou rush boldly forward till the perfidious phantom which lured thee on vanishes at the awful brink of eternity? Wilt thou dare approach the throne of the Omniscient with the lie on thy lips? "At thy call am I here, Creator!" while thy guilty eyes are in search only of their mortal idol! And when thou shalt see this perishable god of thine own creation, a worm like thee, writhing at the Almighty's feet; when thou shalt hear him in the awful moment give the lie to thy guilty daring, and blast thy delusive hopes of eternal mercy, which the wretch implores in vain for himself; what then! (Louder and more fervently), What, then, unhappy one? (He clasps her still closer to his bosom, and gazes upon her with wild and piercing looks; then suddenly disengages himself.) I can do no more! (Raising his right hand towards heaven.) Immortal Judge, I can do no more to save this soul from ruin! Louisa, do what thou wilt. Offer up a sacrifice at the altar of this idolized youth that shall make thy evil genius howl for transport and thy good angels forsake thee in despair. Go on! Heap sin upon sin,&mdash;add to them this, the last, the heaviest,&mdash;and, if the scale be still too light throw in my curse to complete the measure. Here is a knife; pierce thy own heart, and (weeping aloud and rushing away), and with it, thy father's! </p> <p> LOUISA (following and detaining him). Stay! stay! Oh! father, father!&mdash; to think that affection should wound more cruelly than a tyrant's rage! What shall I?&mdash;I cannot!&mdash;what must I do? </p> <p> MILLER. If thy lover's kisses burn hotter than thy father's tears&mdash;then die! </p> <p> LOUISA (after a violent internal struggle, firmly). Father! Here is my hand! I will&mdash;God! God! what am I doing! What would I?&mdash;father, I swear. Woe is me! Criminal that I am where'er I turn! Father, be it so! Ferdinand. God, look down upon the act! Thus I destroy the last memorial of him. (Tearing the letter.) </p> <p> MILLER (throwing himself in ecstasy upon her neck). There spoke my daughter! Look up, my child! Thou hast lost a lover, but thou hast made a father happy. (Embracing her, and alternately laughing and crying.) My child! my child! I was not worthy to live so blest a moment! God knows how I, poor miserable sinner, became possessed of such an angel! My Louisa! My paradise! Oh! I know but little of love; but that to rend its bonds must be a bitter grief I can well believe! </p> <p> LOUISA. But let us hasten from this place, my father! Let us fly from the city, where my companions scoff at me, and my good name is lost forever&mdash;let us away, far away, from a spot where every object tells of my ruined happiness,&mdash;let us fly if it be possible! </p> <p> MILLER. Whither thou wilt, my daughter! The bread of the Lord grows everywhere, and He will grant ears to listen to my music. Yes! we will fly and leave all behind. I will set the story of your sorrows to the lute, and sing of the daughter who rent her own heart to preserve her father's. We will beg with the ballad from door to door, and sweet will be the alms bestowed by the hand of weeping sympathy! </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0036" id="link2H_4_0036"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE II. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> The former; FERDINAND. </pre> <p> LOUISA (who perceives him first, throws herself shrieking into MILLER'S arms). God! There he is! I am lost! </p> <p> MILLER. Who? Where? </p> <p> LOUISA (points, with averted face, to the MAJOR, and presses closer to her father). 'Tis he! 'Tis he! himself! Look round, father, look round!&mdash;he comes to murder me! </p> <p> MILLER (perceives him and starts back). How, baron? You here? </p> <p> FERDINAND (approaches slowly, stands opposite to LOUISA, and fixes a stern and piercing look upon her. After a pause, he says). Stricken conscience, I thank thee! Thy confession is dreadful, but swift and true, and spares me the torment of an explanation! Good evening, Miller! </p> <p> MILLER. For God's sake! baron, what seek you? What brings you hither? What means this surprise? </p> <p> FERDINAND. I knew a time when the day was divided into seconds, when eagerness for my presence hung upon the weights of the tardy clock, and when every pulse-throb was counted until the moment of my coming. How is it that I now surprise? </p> <p> MILLER. Oh, leave us, leave us, baron! If but one spark of humanity still linger in your bosom;&mdash;if you seek not utterly to destroy her whom you profess to love, fly from this house, stay not one moment longer. The blessing of God deserted us when your foot first crossed its threshold. You have brought misery under a roof where all before was joy and happiness. Are you not yet content? Do you seek to deepen the wound which your fatal passion has planted in the heart of my only child? </p> <p> FERDINAND. Strange father, I have come to bring joyful tidings to your daughter. </p> <p> MILLER. Perchance fresh hopes, to add to her despair. Away, away, thou messenger of ill! Thy looks belie thy words. </p> <p> FERDINAND. At length the goal of my hopes appears in view! Lady Milford, the most fearful obstacle to our love, has this moment fled the land. My father sanctions my choice. Fate grows weary of persecuting us, and our propitious stars now blaze in the ascendant&mdash;I am come to fulfil my plighted troth, and to lead my bride to the altar. </p> <p> MILLER. Dost thou hear him, my child? Dost thou hear him mock at thy cheated hopes? Oh, truly, baron! It is so worthy of the deceiver to make a jest of his own crime! </p> <p> FERDINAND. You think I am jesting? By my honor I am not! My protestations are as true as the love of my Louisa, and I will keep them as sacred as she has kept her oaths. Nothing to me is more sacred. Can you still doubt? Still no joyful blush upon the cheek of my fair bride? 'Tis strange! Falsehood must needs be here the current coin, since truth finds so little credit. You mistrust my words, it seems? Then read this written testimony. (He throws LOUISA her letter to the MARSHAL. She opens it, and sinks upon the floor pale as death.) </p> <p> MILLER (not observing this). What can this mean, baron? I do not understand you. </p> <p> FERDINAND. (leads him to LOUISA). But your daughter has understood me well. </p> <p> MILLER (throws himself on his knees beside her). Oh, God! my child! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Pale as a corpse! 'Tis thus your daughter pleases me the best. Your demure and virtuous daughter was never half so lovely as with that deathlike paleness. The blast of the day of judgment, which strips the varnish from every lie, has wafted the painted colors from her cheek, or the juggler might have cheated even the angels of light. This is her fairest countenance. Now for the first time do I see it in its truth. Let me kiss it. (He approaches her.) </p> <p> MILLER. Back! Away, boy! Trifle not with a father's feelings. I could not defend her from your caresses, but I can from your insults. </p> <p> FERDINAND. What wouldst thou, old man? With thee I have naught to do. Engage not in a game so irrevocably lost. Or hast thou, too, been wiser than I thought? Hast thou employed the wisdom of thy sixty years in pandering to thy daughter's amours, and disgraced those hoary locks with the office of a pimp? Oh! if it be not so, wretched old man, then lay thyself down and die. There is still time. Thou mayest breathe by last in the sweet delusion, "I was a happy father!" Wait but a moment longer and thine own hand will dash to her infernal home this poisonous viper; thou wilt curse the gift, and him who gave it, and sink to the grave in blasphemy and despair. (To LOUISA.) Speak, wretched one, speak! Didst thou write this letter? </p> <p> MILLER (to LOUISA, impressively). For God's sake, daughter, forget not! forget not! </p> <p> LOUISA. Oh, father&mdash;that letter! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Oh! that it should have fallen into the wrong hands. Now blessed be the accident! It has effected more than the most consummate prudence, and will at the day of judgment avail more than the united wisdom of sages. Accident, did I say? Oh! Providence directs, when a sparrow falls, why not when a devil is unmasked? But I will be answered! Didst thou write that letter? </p> <p> MILLER (to LOUISA, in a tone of entreaty). Be firm, my child, be firm! But a single "Yes," and all will be over. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Excellent! excellent! The father, too, is deceived! All, all are deceived by her! Look, how the perfidious one stands there; even her tongue refuses participation in her last lie. I adjure thee by that God so terrible and true&mdash;didst thou write that letter? </p> <p> LOUISA (after a painful struggle, with firmness and decision). I did! </p> <p> FERDINAND (stands aghast). No! As my soul liveth, thou hast lied. Even innocence itself, when extended on the rack, confesses crime which it never committed&mdash;I ask too passionately. Is it not so, Louisa? Thou didst but confess, because I asked passionately? </p> <p> LOUISA. I confessed the truth! </p> <p> FERDINAND. No, I tell thee! No! no! Thou didst not write that letter! It is not like thy hand! And, even though it were, why should it be more difficult to counterfeit a writing than to undo a heart? Tell me truly, Louisa! Yet no, no, do not! Thou mightest say yes again, and then I were lost forever. A lie, Louisa! A lie! Oh! if thou didst but know one now&mdash;if thou wouldst utter it with that open angelic mien&mdash;if thou wouldst but persuade mine ear and eye, though it should deceive my heart ever so monstrously! Oh, Louisa! Then might truth depart in the same breath&mdash;depart from our creation, and the sacred cause itself henceforth bow her stiff neck to the courtly arts of deception. </p> <p> LOUISA. By the Almighty God! by Him who is so terrible and true! I did! </p> <p> FERDINAND (after a pause, with the expression of the most heartfelt sorrow). Woman! Woman! With what a face thou standest now before me! Offer Paradise with that look, and even in the regions of the damned thou wilt find no purchaser. Didst thou know what thou wert to me, Louisa? Impossible! No! thou knewest not that thou wert my all&mdash;all! 'Tis a poor insignificant word! but eternity itself can scarcely circumscribe it. Within it systems of worlds can roll their mighty orbs. All! and to sport with it so wickedly. Oh, 'tis horrible. </p> <p> LOUISA. Baron von Walter, you have heard my confession! I have pronounced my own condemnation! Now go! Fly from a house where you have been so unhappy. </p> <p> FERDINAND. 'Tis well! 'tis well! You see I am calm; calm, too, they say, is the shuddering land through which the plague has swept. I am calm. Yet ere I go, Louisa, one more request! It shall be my last. My brain burns with fever! I need refreshment! Will you make me some lemonade? </p> <pre xml:space="preserve"> [Exit LOUISA. </pre> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0037" id="link2H_4_0037"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE III. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> FERDINAND and MILLER. They both pace up and down without speaking, on opposite sides of the room, for some minutes. </pre> <p> MILLER (standing still at length, and regarding the MAJOR with a sorrowful air). Dear baron, perhaps it may alleviate your distress to say that I feel for you most deeply. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Enough of this, Miller. (Silence again for some moments.) Miller, I forget what first brought me to your house. What was the occasion of it? </p> <p> MILLER. How, baron? Don't you remember? You came to take lessons on the flute. </p> <p> FERDINAND (suddenly). And I beheld his daughter! (Another pause.) You have not kept your faith with me, friend! You were to provide me with repose for my leisure hours; but you betrayed me and sold me scorpions. (Observing MILLER'S agitation.) Tremble not, good old man! (falling deeply affected on his neck)&mdash;the fault was none of thine! </p> <p> MILLER (wiping his eyes). Heaven knows, it was not! </p> <p> FERDINAND (traversing the room, plunged in the most gloomy meditation). Strange! Oh! beyond conception strange, are the Almighty's dealings with us! How often do terrific weights hang upon slender, almost invisible threads! Did man but know that he should eat death in a particular apple! Hem! Could he but know that! (He walks a few more turns; then stops suddenly, and grasps MILLER'S hand with strong emotion.) Friend, I have paid dearly for thy lessons&mdash;and thou, too, hast been no gainer&mdash; perhaps mayst even lose thy all. (Quitting him dejectedly.) Unhappy flute-playing, would that it never entered my brain! </p> <p> MILLER (striving to repress his feelings). The lemonade is long in coming. I will inquire after it, if you will excuse me. </p> <p> FERDINAND. No hurry, dear Miller! (Muttering to himself.) At least to her father there is none. Stay here a moment. What was I about to ask you? Ay, I remember! Is Louisa your only daughter? Have you no other child? </p> <p> MILLER (warmly). I have no other, baron, and I wish for no other. That child is my only solace in this world, and on her have I embarked my whole stock of affection. </p> <p> FERDINAND (much agitated). Ha! Pray see for the drink, good Miller! </p> <pre xml:space="preserve"> [Exit MILLER. </pre> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0038" id="link2H_4_0038"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE IV. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> FERDINAND alone. </pre> <p> FERDINAND. His only child! Dost thou feel that, murderer? His only one! Murderer, didst thou hear, his only one? The man has nothing in God's wide world but his instrument and that only daughter! And wilt thou rob him of her? </p> <p> Rob him? Rob a beggar of his last pittance? Break the lame man's crutch, and cast the fragments at his feet? How? Have I the heart to do this? And when he hastens home, impatient to reckon in his daughter's smiles the whole sum of his happiness; and when he enters the chamber, and there lies the rose&mdash;withered&mdash;dead&mdash;crushed&mdash;his last, his only, his sustaining hope. Ha! And when he stands before her, and all nature looks on in breathless horror, while his vacant eye wanders hopelessly through the gloom of futurity, and seeks God, but finds him nowhere, and then returns disappointed and despairing! Great God! and has not my father, too, an only son? an only child, but not his only treasure. (After a pause.) Yet stay! What will the old man lose? She who could wantonly jest with the most sacred feelings of love, will she make a father happy? She cannot! She will not! And I deserve thanks for crushing this viper ere the parent feels its sting. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0039" id="link2H_4_0039"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE V. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> MILLER returning, and FERDINAND. </pre> <p> MILLER. You shall be served instantly, baron! The poor thing is sitting without, weeping as though her heart would break! Your drink will be mingled with her tears. </p> <p> FERDINAND. 'Twere well for her were it only with tears! We were speaking of my lessons, Miller. (Taking out a purse.) I remember that I am still in your debt. </p> <p> MILLER. How? What? Go along with you, baron! What do you take me for? There is time enough for payment. Do not put such an affront on me; we are not together for the last time, please God. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Who can tell? Take your money. It is for life or death. </p> <p> MILLER (laughing). Oh! for the matter of that, baron! As regards that I don't think I should run much risk with you! </p> <p> FERDINAND. You would run the greatest. Have you never heard that youths have died. That damsels and youths have died, the children of hope, the airy castles of their disappointed parents? What is safe from age and worms has often perished by a thunderbolt. Even your Louisa is not immortal. </p> <p> MILLER. God gave her to me. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Hear me! I say to you your Louisa is not immortal. That daughter is the apple of your eye; you hang upon her with your whole heart and soul. Be prudent, Miller! None but a desperate gamester stakes his all upon a single cast. The merchant would be called a madman who embarked his whole fortune in one ship. Think upon this, and remember that I warned you. But why do you not take your money? </p> <p> MILLER. How, baron, how? All that enormous purse? What can you be thinking of? </p> <p> FERDINAND. Upon my debt! There! (Throws a heavy purse on the table; some gold drops out.) I cannot hold the dross to eternity. </p> <p> MILLER (astonished). Mercy on us! what is this? The sound was not of silver! (Goes to the table and cries out in astonishment.) In heaven's name, baron, what means this? What are you about? You must be out of your mind! (Clasping his hands.) There it lies! or I am bewitched. 'Tis damnable! I feel it now; the beauteous, shining, glorious heap of gold! No, Satan, thou shalt not catch my soul with this! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Have you drunk old wine, or new, Miller? </p> <p> MILLER (violently). Death and furies! Look yourself, then. It is gold! </p> <p> FERDINAND. And what of that? </p> <p> MILLER. Let me implore you, baron! In the name of all the saints in heaven, I entreat you! It is gold! </p> <p> FERDINAND. An extraordinary thing, it must be admitted. </p> <p> MILLER (after a pause; addressing him with emotion). Noble sir, I am a plain, straightforward man&mdash;do you wish to tempt me to some piece of knavery?&mdash;for, heaven knows, that so much gold cannot be got honestly! </p> <p> FERDINAND (moved). Make yourself quite easy, dear Miller! You have well earned the money. God forbid that I should use it to the corruption of your conscience! </p> <p> MILLER (jumping about like a madman). It is mine, then! Mine indeed! Mine with the knowledge and consent of God! (Hastening to the door.) Daughter, wife, hurrah, come hither! (Returning.) But, for heaven's sake, how have I all at once deserved this awful treasure? How am I to earn it? How repay it, eh? </p> <p> FERDINAND. Not by your music lessons, Miller! With this gold do I pay you for (stops suddenly, and shudders)&mdash;I pay you&mdash;(after a pause, with emotion)&mdash;for my three months' unhappy dream of your daughter! </p> <p> MILLER (taking his hand and pressing it affectionately). Most gracious sir! were you some poor and low-born citizen, and my daughter refused your love, I would pierce her heart with my own hands. (Returning to the gold in a sorrowful tone.) But then I shall have all, and you nothing&mdash; and I should have to give up all this glorious heap again, eh? </p> <p> FERDINAND. Let not that thought distress you, friend. I am about to quit this country, and in that to which I am journeying such coin is not current. </p> <p> MILLER (still fixing his eyes in transport on the money). Mine, then, it remains? Mine? Yet it grieves me that you are going to leave us. Only just wait a little and you shall see how I'll come out! I'll hold up my head with the best of them. (Puts on his hat with an air, and struts up and down the room.) I'll give my lessons in the great concert-room, and won't I smoke away at the best puyke varinas&mdash;and, when you catch me again fiddling at the penny-hop, may the devil take me! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Stay, Miller! Be silent, and gather up your gold. (Mysteriously.) Keep silence only for this one evening, and do me the favor henceforward to give no more music lessons. </p> <p> MILLER (still more vehemently grasping his hand, full of inward joy). And my daughter, baron! my daughter! (Letting go.) No, no! Money does not make the man&mdash;whether I feed on vegetables or on partridges, enough is enough, and this coat will do very well as long as the sunbeams don't peep in at the elbows. To me money is mere dross. But my girl shall benefit by the blessing; whatever wish I can read in her eyes shall be gratified. </p> <p> FERDINAND (suddenly interrupting him). Oh! silence! silence! </p> <p> MILLER (still more warmly). And she shall learn to speak French like a born native, and to dance minuets, and to sing, so that people shall read of her in the newspapers; and she shall wear a cap like the judge's daughter, and a kidebarri [meaning, no doubt, Cul de Paris, a bustle], as they call it; and the fiddler's daughter shall be talked of for twenty miles round. </p> <p> FERDINAND. (seizing his hand in extreme agitation). No more! no more! For God's sake be silent! Be silent but for this one night; 'tis the only favor I ask of you. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0040" id="link2H_4_0040"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE VI. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> LOUISA with a glass of lemonade; the former. </pre> <p> LOUISA (her eyes swelled with weeping, and trembling voice, while she presents the glass to FERDINAND). Tell me, if it be not to your taste. </p> <p> FERDINAND (takes the glass, places it on the table, and turns to MILLER). Oh! I had almost forgotten! Good Miller, I have a request to make. Will you do me a little favor? </p> <p> MILLER. A thousand with pleasure! What are your commands? </p> <p> FERDINAND. My father will expect me at table. Unfortunately I am in very ill humor. 'Twould be insupportable to me just now to mix in society. Will you go to my father and excuse my absence? </p> <p> LOUISA (terrified, interrupts him hastily). Oh, let me go! </p> <p> MILLER. Am I to see the president himself? </p> <p> FERDINAND. Not himself. Give your message to one of the servants in the ante-chamber. Here is my watch as a credential that I sent you. I shall be here when you return. You will wait for an answer. </p> <p> LOUISA (very anxiously). Cannot I be the bearer of your message? </p> <p> FERDINAND (to MILLER, who is going). Stay&mdash;one thing more! Here is a letter to my father, which I received this evening enclosed in one to myself. Perhaps on business of importance. You may as well deliver it at the same time. </p> <p> MILLER (going). Very well, baron! </p> <p> LOUISA (stopping him, and speaking in a tone of the most exquisite terror). But, dear father, I could do all this very well! Pray let me go! </p> <p> MILLER. It is night, my child! and you must not venture out alone! </p> <pre xml:space="preserve"> [Exit. </pre> <p> FERDINAND. Light your father down, Louisa. (LOUISA takes a candle and follows MILLER. FERDINAND in the meantime approaches the table and throws poison into the lemonade). Yes! she must die! The higher powers look down, and nod their terrible assent. The vengeance of heaven subscribes to my decree. Her good angels forsake her, and leave her to her fate! </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0041" id="link2H_4_0041"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE VII. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> FERDINAND and LOUISA. LOUISA re-enters slowly with the light, places it on the table, and stops on the opposite side of the room, her eyes fixed on the ground, except when she raises them to him with timid, stolen glances. He stands opposite, looking steadfastly on the earth&mdash;a long and deep silence. </pre> <p> LOUISA. If you will accompany me, Baron von Walter, I will try a piece on the harpsichord! (She opens the instrument. FERDINAND makes no answer. A pause.) </p> <p> LOUISA. You owe me a revenge at chess. Will you play a game with me, Baron von Walter? (Another pause.) </p> <p> LOUISA. I have begun the pocketbook, baron, which I promised to embroider for you. Will you look at the design? (Still a pause.) </p> <p> LOUISA. Oh! I am very wretched! </p> <p> FERDINAND (without changing his attitude). That may well be! </p> <p> LOUISA. It is not my fault, Baron von Walter, that you are so badly entertained! </p> <p> FERDINAND (with an insulting laugh). You are not to blame for my bashful modesty&mdash;&mdash; </p> <p> LOUISA. I am quite aware that we are no longer fit companions. I confess that I was terrified when you sent away my father. I believe, Baron von Walter, that this moment is equally insupportable to us both. Permit me to ask some of my acquaintances to join us. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Yes, pray do so! And I too will go and invite some of mine. </p> <p> LOUISA (looking at him with surprise). Baron von Walter! </p> <p> FERDINAND (very spitefully). By my honor, the most fortunate idea that in our situation could ever enter mortal brain? Let us change this wearisome duet into sport and merriment, and by the aid of certain gallantries, revenge ourselves on the caprices of love. </p> <p> LOUISA. You are merry, Baron von Walter! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Oh! wonderfully so! The very street-boys would hunt me through the market-place for a merry-andrew! In fact, Louisa, your example has inspired me&mdash;you shall be my teacher. They are fools who prate of endless affection&mdash;never-ending sameness grows flat and insipid &mdash;variety alone gives zest to pleasure. Have with you, Louisa, we are now of one mind. We will skip from amour to amour, whirl from vice to vice; you in one direction, I in another. Perhaps I may recover my lost tranquillity in some brothel. Perhaps, when our merry race is run, and we become two mouldering skeletons, chance again may bring us together with the most pleasing surprise, and we may, as in a melodrama, recognize each other by a common feature of disease&mdash;that mother whom her children can never disavow. Then, perhaps, disgust and shame may create that union between us which could not be effected by the most tender love. </p> <p> <br /> <br /> </p> <div class="fig" style="width:80%;"> <ANTIMG alt="2pb102 (120K)" src="images/2pb102.jpg" width="100%" /><br /> </div> <p> <br /> <br /> </p> <p> LOUISA. Oh, Walter! Walter! Thou art already unhappy&mdash;wilt thou deserve to be so? </p> <p> FERDINAND (muttering passionately through his teeth). Unhappy? Who told thee so? Woman, thou art too vile to have any feelings of thine own; how, then, canst thou judge of the feelings of others? Unhappy, did she say?&mdash;ha! that word would call my anger from the grave! She knew that I must become unhappy. Death and damnation! she knew it, and yet betrayed me! Look to it, serpent! That was thy only chance of forgiveness. This confession has condemned thee. Till now I thought to palliate thy crime with thy simplicity, and in my contempt thou hadst well nigh escaped my vengeance (seizing the glass hastily). Thou wert not thoughtless, then&mdash; thou wert not simple&mdash;thou wert nor more nor less than a devil! (He drinks.) The drink is bad, like thy soul! Taste it! </p> <p> LOUISA. Oh, heavens! 'Twas not without reason that I dreaded this meeting. </p> <p> FERDINAND (imperiously). Drink! I say. </p> <pre xml:space="preserve"> [LOUISA, offended, takes the glass and drinks. The moment she raises the cup to her lips, FERDINAND turns away with a sudden paleness, and recedes to the further corner of the chamber.] </pre> <p> LOUISA. The lemonade is good. </p> <p> FERDINAND (his face averted and shuddering.) Much good may it do thee! </p> <p> LOUISA (sets down the glass). Oh! could you but know, Walter, how cruelly you wrong me! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Indeed! </p> <p> LOUISA. A time will come, Walter&mdash;&mdash; </p> <p> FERDINAND (advancing). Oh! we have done with time. </p> <p> LOUISA. When the remembrance of this evening will lie heavy on your heart! </p> <p> FERDINAND (begins to walk to and fro more vehemently, and to become more agitated; he throws away his sash and sword.) Farewell the prince's service! </p> <p> LOUISA. My God! what mean you! </p> <p> FERDINAND. I am hot, and oppressed. I would be more at ease. </p> <p> LOUISA. Drink! drink! it will cool you. </p> <p> FERDINAND. That it will, most effectually. The strumpet, though, is kind-hearted! Ay, ay, so are they all! </p> <p> LOUISA (rushing into his arms with the deepest expression of love). That to thy Louisa, Ferdinand? </p> <p> FERDINAND (thrusting her from him). Away! away! Hence with those soft and melting eyes! they subdue me. Come to me, snake, in all thy monstrous terrors! Spring upon me, scorpion! Display thy hideous folds, and rear thy proud coils to heaven! Stand before my eyes, hateful as the abyss of hell e'er saw thee! but not in that angel form! Take any shape but that! 'Tis too late. I must crush thee like a viper, or despair! Mercy on thy soul! </p> <p> LOUISA. Oh! that it should come to this! </p> <p> FERDINAND (gazing on her). So fair a work of the heavenly artist! Who would believe it? Who can believe it? (Taking her hand and elevating it.) I will not arraign thy ordinations, oh! incomprehensible Creator! Yet wherefore didst thou pour thy poison into such beauteous vessels? Can crime inhabit so fair a region? Oh! 'tis strange! 'tis passing strange! </p> <p> LOUISA. To hear this, and yet be compelled to silence! </p> <p> FERDINAND. And that soft, melodious voice! How can broken chords discourse such harmony? (Gazing rapturously upon her figure.) All so lovely! so full of symmetry! so divinely perfect! Throughout the whole such signs that 'twas the favorite work of God! By heaven, as though all mankind had been created but to practise the Creator, ere he modelled this his masterpiece! And that the Almighty should have failed in the soul alone? Is it possible that this monstrous abortion of nature should have escaped as perfect? (Quitting her hastily.) Or did God see an angel's form rising beneath his chisel, and balance the error by giving her a heart wicked in proportion? </p> <p> LOUISA. Alas for this criminal wilfulness! Rather than confess his own rashness, he accuses the wisdom of heaven! </p> <p> FERDINAND (falls upon her neck, weeping bitterly). Yet once more, my Louisa! Yet once again, as on the day of our first kiss, when you faltered forth the name of Ferdinand, and the first endearing "Thou!" trembled on thy burning lips. Oh! a harvest of endless and unutterable joys seemed to me at that moment to be budding forth. There lay eternity like a bright May-day before our eyes; thousands of golden years, fair as brides, danced around our souls. Then was I so happy! Oh! Louisa! Louisa! Louisa! Why hast thou used me thus? </p> <p> LOUISA. Weep, Walter, weep! Your compassion will be more just towards me than your wrath. </p> <p> FERDINAND. You deceive yourself. These are not nature's tears! not that warm delicious dew which flows like balsam on the wounded soul, and drives the chilled current of feeling swiftly along its course. They are solitary ice-cold drops! the awful, eternal farewell of my love! (With fearful solemnity, laying his hand on her head.) They are tears for thy soul, Louisa! tears for the Deity, whose inexhaustible beneficence has here missed its aim, and whose noblest work is cast away thus wantonly. Oh methinks the whole universe should clothe itself in black, and weep at the fearful example now passing in its centre. 'Tis but a common sorrow when mortals fall and Paradise is lost; but, when the plague extends its ravages to angels, then should there be wailing throughout the whole creation! </p> <p> LOUISA. Drive me not to extremities, Walter. I have fortitude equal to most, but it must not be tried by a more than human test. Walter! one word, and then&mdash;we part forever. A dreadful fatality has deranged the language of our hearts. Dared I unclose these lips, Walter, I could tell thee things! I could&mdash;&mdash;But cruel fate has alike fettered my tongue and my heart, and I must endure in silence, even though you revile me as a common strumpet. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Dost thou feel well, Louisa? </p> <p> LOUISA. Why that question? </p> <p> FERDINAND. It would grieve me shouldst thou be called hence with a lie upon thy lips. </p> <p> LOUISA. I implore you, Walter&mdash;&mdash; </p> <p> FERDINAND (in violent agitation). No! no! That revenge were too satanic! No! God forbid! I will not extend my anger beyond the grave! Louisa, didst thou love the marshal? Thou wilt leave this room no more! </p> <p> LOUISA (sitting down). Ask what you will. I shall give no answer. </p> <p> FERDINAND (in a solemn voice). Take heed for thy immortal soul! Louisa! Didst thou love the marshal? Thou wilt leave this room no more! </p> <p> LOUISA. I shall give no answer. </p> <p> FERDINAND (throwing himself on his knees before her in the deepest emotion). Louisa! Didst thou love the marshal? Before this light burns out&mdash;thou wilt stand&mdash;before the throne of God! </p> <p> LOUISA (starting from her seat in terror). Merciful Jesus! what was that? And I feel so ill! (She falls back into her chair.) </p> <p> FERDINAND. Already? Oh, woman, thou eternal paradox! thy delicate nerves can sport with crimes at which manhood trembles; yet one poor grain of arsenic destroys them utterly! </p> <p> LOUISA. Poison! poison! Oh! Almighty God! </p> <p> FERDINAND. I fear it is so! Thy lemonade was seasoned in hell! Thou hast pledged death in the draught! </p> <p> LOUISA. To die! To die! All-merciful God! Poison in my drink! And to die! Oh! have mercy on my soul, thou Father in heaven! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Ay, be that thy chief concern: I will join thee in that prayer. </p> <p> LOUISA. And my mother! My father, too! Saviour of the world! My poor forlorn father! Is there then no hope? And I so young, and yet no hope? And must I die so soon? </p> <p> FERDINAND. There is no hope! None!&mdash;you are already doomed! But be calm. We shall journey together. </p> <p> LOUISA. Thou too, Ferdinand? Poison, Ferdinand! From thee! Oh! God forgive him! God of mercy, lay not this crime on him! </p> <p> FERDINAND. Look to your own account. I fear it stands but ill. </p> <p> LOUISA. Ferdinand! Ferdinand! Oh! I can be no longer silent. Death&mdash; death absolves all oaths. Ferdinand! Heaven and earth contain nothing more unfortunate than thou! I die innocent, Ferdinand! </p> <p> FERDINAND (terrified). Ah! What do I hear? Would she rush into the presence of her Maker with a lie on her lips? </p> <p> LOUISA. I lie not! I do not lie! In my whole life I never lied but once! Ugh! what an icy shivering creeps through my veins! When I wrote that letter to the marshal. </p> <p> FERDINAND. Ha! That letter! Blessed be to God! Now I am myself again! </p> <p> LOUISA (her voice every moment becomes more indistinct. Her fingers tremble with a convulsive motion). That letter. Prepare yourself for a terrible disclosure! My hand wrote what my heart abhorred. It was dictated by your father! (Ferdinand stands like a statue petrified with horror. After a long silence, he falls upon the floor as if struck by lightning.) Oh! that sorrowful act!&mdash;&mdash;Ferdinand&mdash;I was compelled&mdash; forgive me&mdash;thy Louisa would have preferred death&mdash;but my father&mdash;his life in danger! They were so crafty in their villany. </p> <p> FERDINAND (starting furiously from the ground). God be thanked! The poison spares me yet! (He seizes his sword.) </p> <p> LOUISA (growing weaker by degrees). Alas! what would you? He is thy father! </p> <p> FERDINAND (in the most ungovernable fury). A murderer&mdash;the murderer of his son; he must along with us that the Judge of the world may pour his wrath on the guilty alone. (Hastening away). </p> <p> LOUISA. My dying Redeemer pardoned his murderers,&mdash;may God pardon thee and thy father! (She dies.) </p> <p> FERDINAND (turns quickly round, and perceives her in the convulsions of death, throws himself distractedly on the body). Stay! stay! Fly not from me, angel of light! (Takes her hand, but lets it fall again instantly.) Cold! cold and damp! her soul has flown! (Starting up suddenly.) God of my Louisa! Mercy! Mercy for the most accursed of murderers! Such was her dying prayer! How fair, how lovely even in death! The pitying destroyer has touched gently on those heavenly features. That sweetness was no mask&mdash;the hand of death even has not removed it! (After a pause.) But how is this? why do I feel nothing. Will the vigor of my youth save me? Thankless care! That shall it not. (He seizes the glass.) </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0042" id="link2H_4_0042"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> SCENE VIII. </h2> <pre xml:space="preserve"> FERDINAND, the PRESIDENT, WORM, and SERVANTS, who all rush in alarm into the room. Afterwards MILLER, with a crowd, and OFFICERS of justice, who assemble in the background. </pre> <p> PRESIDENT (an open letter in his hand). My son! what means this? I never can believe&mdash;&mdash; </p> <p> FERDINAND (throwing the glass at his feet). Convince thyself, murderer! (The PRESIDENT staggers back. All stand speechless. A dreadful pause.) </p> <p> PRESIDENT. My son! Why hast thou done this? </p> <p> FERDINAND (without looking at him). Why, to be sure I ought first to have asked the statesman whether the trick suited his cards. Admirably fine and skilful, I confess, was the scheme of jealousy to break the bond of our hearts! The calculation shows a master-mind; 'twas pity only that indignant love would not move on wires like thy wooden puppets. </p> <p> PRESIDENT (looking round the circle with rolling eyes). Is there no one here who weeps for a despairing father? </p> <p> MILLER (calling behind the SCENEs). Let me in! For God's sake, let me in! </p> <p> FERDINAND. She is now a saint in heaven! Her cause is in the hands of another! (He opens the door for MILLER, who rushes in, followed by officers of justice and a crowd of people.) </p> <p> MILLER (in the most dreadful alarm). My child! My child! Poison, they cry&mdash;poison has been here! My daughter! Where art thou? </p> <p> FERDINAND (leading him between the PRESIDENT and LOUISA'S corpse). I am innocent. Thank this man for the deed. </p> <p> MILLER (throwing himself on the body). Oh, Jesus! </p> <p> FERDINAND. In few words, father!&mdash;they begin to be precious to me. I have been robbed of my life by villanous artifice&mdash;robbed of it by you! How I may stand with God I tremble to think, but a deliberate villain I have never been! Be my final judgment what it will, may it not fall on thee! But I have committed murder! (In a loud and fearful voice.) A murder whose weight thou canst not hope that I should drag alone before the judgment-seat of God. Here I solemnly bequeath to thee the heaviest, the bloodiest part; how thou mayst answer it be that thy care! (Leading him to LOUISA.) Here, barbarian! Feast thine eyes on the terrible fruits of thy intrigues! Upon this face thy name is inscribed in the convulsions of death, and will be registered by the destroying angel! May a form like this draw thy curtain when thou sleepest, and grasp thee with its clay-cold hand! May a form like this flit before thy soul when thou diest, and drive away thy expiring prayer for mercy! May a form like this stand by thy grave at the resurrection, and before the throne of God when he pronounces thy doom! (He faints, the servants receive him in their arms.) </p> <p> PRESIDENT (extending his arms convulsively towards heaven). Not from me, Judge of the world. Ask not these souls from me, but from him! (Pointing to WORM.) </p> <p> WORM (starting). From me? </p> <p> PRESIDENT. Accursed villain, from thee! From thee, Satan! Thou gavest the serpent's counsel! thine be the responsibility; their blood be not on my head, but on thine! </p> <p> WORM. On mine! on mine! (laughing hysterically.) Oh! Excellent! Now I understand the gratitude of devils. On mine, thou senseless villain! Was he my son? Was I thy master? Mine the responsibility? Ha! by this sight which freezes the very marrow in my bones! Mine it shall be! I will brave destruction, but thou shalt perish with me. Away! away! Cry murder in the streets! Awaken justice! Bind me, officers! Lead me hence! I will discover secrets which shall make the hearer's blood run cold. (Going.) </p> <p> PRESIDENT (detaining him). Surely, madman, thou wilt not dare? </p> <p> WORM (tapping him on the shoulder). I will, though,&mdash;comrade, I will! I am mad, 'tis true; but my madness is thy work, and now I will act like a madman! Arm in arm with thee will I to the scaffold! Arm in arm with thee to hell! Oh! how it tickles my fancy, villain, to be damned with thee! (The officers carry him off.) </p> <p> MILLER (who has lain upon LOUISA'S corpse in silent anguish, starts suddenly up, and throws the purse before the MAJOR'S feet.) Poisoner, take back thy accursed gold! Didst thou think to purchase my child with it? (Rushes distractedly out of the chamber.) </p> <p> FERDINAND (in a voice scarcely audible). Follow him! He is desperate. The gold must be taken care of for his use; 'tis the dreadful acknowlegment of my debt to him. Louisa! I come! Farewell! On this altar let me breathe my last. </p> <p> PRESIDENT (recovering from his stupor). Ferdinand! my son! Not one last look for a despairing father? (FERDINAND is laid by the side of LOUISA.) </p> <p> FERDINAND. My last must sue to God for mercy on myself. </p> <p> PRESIDENT (falling down before him in the most dreadful agony). The Creator and the created abandon me! Not one last look to cheer me in the hour of death! (FERDINAND stretches out his trembling hand to him, and expires.) </p> <p> PRESIDENT (springing up). He forgave me! (To the OFFICERS.) Now, lead on, sirs! I am your prisoner. </p> <pre xml:space="preserve"> [Exit, followed by the OFFICERS; the curtain falls. [Exit, followed by the OFFICERS; the curtain falls. </pre>
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