The Monk (looks up gloomily into the eyes of the knight). Why do you ask me this?

The Knight. Why, brother, only because I thought you would know.
The Monk. You know yourself.
The Knight. Why should I ask if I knew?
The Monk. It happens sometimes, that such a thing is done.

The Knight. You are, indeed, a strange holy man, brother. Who founded the monastery? Do tell me! There is more than enough good wine in the tankard; come, drink: we will drink to the health of the noble and godly man who founded it.

The Monk. I thank you, sir.

The Knight. Look you, brother, I drink to the man's health. Why? Founding monasteries goes against the grain with me. It would be contrary to my nature as knight, as horseman and warrior. But I am comfortable here! I am very comfortable here! This is a magnificent place! Blessed be the man to whom I owe this heavenly hour.

The Monk. Are you a German, sir?
The Knight. You have guessed.

The Monk. You have a joyous spirit, dear sir; may God keep you ever thus.

The Knight. It has not always been so, brother. Come, move that chair a little nearer and sit down. Look you, there was a time, when moroseness was my daily bread. I could hardly twist my mouth aright to laugh. Then, see this picture. (He shows him a miniature which he carries on a slender chain on his breast.)

The Monk (turning pale). It is your wife?
The Knight. It is my wife and here is my child, brother.
The Monk. A beautiful woman.
The Knight. Yes, brother; and this: a beautiful child.
The Monk. Beware. .
The Knight. What do you mean, monk?

The Monk. May the day never come when you will yet found a monastery.

The Knight. What do you imply by that?
The Monk. Let no man build his happiness on wife and child- !

The Knight. Well, brother, we do not understand each other. You are a monk, very good; I am not. Verily, by God, I am no monk ! You live for heaven; í live for earth. And look you, the earth is heavenly beautiful! Hard is iron, grim and cold. Softer than the leaves of a rose is women, fragrant and warm! I love both; I hold both in my arms! But you—you have the cross !

The Monk (shaking as if with fever, whispering). I have the cross !
The Knight. Brother, you tremble. Are you ill?

The Monk. No! Step hither! Do you see, there—in the mist do you see

? The Knight. Ruins. Fallen walls. To whom did the castle belong?

The Monk. To Count Starschenski. And all that you see, all this goodly land belonged to Count Starschenski.

The Knight. Well, what of it?

The Monk. You ride to Warsaw, ask John Sobieski about him. He had, as you have, a sword and a woman in his arms, and yet, in the end he took the cross alone. Good night.

(Chorus singing is faintly heard.)
The Knight. Are you going so soon?

The Monk. Of course. To mass! To mass for the dead. (He disappears.)

(During the song, the Knight throws himself wearily on the bed just as he is. The scene grows darker as he loses consciousness, and grows lighter again over the tableau nf a dream, into which, both for him and for the spectator, everything is changed.)


(A beautiful, high-ceiled, pleasant room filled with sunshine. STARSCHENSKI in a rich costume, his two-year-old daughter in his arms. MARINA, his mother, a dignified old woman, sits in a wooden recess, busied with embroidery. The nurse.)

Starschenski. Mother.
Marina. Well?
Starschenski. I am happy!
Marina. Fortunately for me; I am, too.

Starschenski. Ought I not to be happy, if anyone ought to be, mother? -Elga!

The Nurse. Elga, listen, your father speaks. When your father speaks, you must listen, Elga.

Starschenski. Let her alone, nurse. Do not interrupt her, she is doing something very important. I see her. And if I stroke her shining, blueblack hair with my hand (he does so) she likes it, and submits patiently. Don't you, Elga ?

Little Elga. Atti, atti!
The Nurse. She says atti; that means father.

Starschenski. Did you say father? Come, daughter, come! You are mine. Yes! You are my daughter! Where is your mother?

The Nurse. My mistress is dressing for the mid-day meal.

Starschenski. She adorns herself for me, mother. (He gives little ELGA to the nurse.) There nurse, take her! Wait a minute, nurse!

Little Elga (in the nurse's arms). Atti, atti.

Starschenski. Did we not do well to call her Elga, after her mother? Has she not exactly the same hair? Black hair and blue eyes. Go, nurse!

(The nurse goes out with the child.)
Starschenski (after a silence). Mother!
Marina. My son ?
Starschenski. I am happy!
Nlarina. Then I am, too.

Starschenski. Did you ever think . . . I mean in the past, when I lived alone with you .. when I lived alone, afraid of men—that I could ever be so happy?

Marina. No; I never thought you could be. May God preserve your happiness.

Starschenski. Are you anxious about it?

Marina. No. But time does not stand still. If we are not happy, we can but wish to be. Wishing and hoping are good for us.

If we are happy, we have, rather, cause to fear.

Starschenski. Little mother, little mother, it is in our blood! To meditate, to brood, to be anxious and worried is in our blood. And you see, her blood flows lightly; that is why I love her so! Pshaw, little mother, don't keep your eyes so glued to your embroidery frame! Look around you, look up! It is spring time out-of-doors! He will put crystal vases full of roses on the table and bring up the oldest wine from the cellar—and Elga will be with us.

Marina (moved). Yes, you love her, you love her, my son!

Starschenski. I love her, mother; you may well say so. But still you know not what you say, when you use those words. Twenty years in a prison, without light, reluctantly gnawing musty bread. The world was nothing more to me, I know not why. I did not understand people when they spoke of flowers, of green woods and golden grain, when they heard a jubilee in the songs of birds and laughter in the blue sky. I felt only serfdom and bondage. Now I can see and am free. She has given me sight and freedom.

(Elga enters quickly.)
Elga. Starschenski!
Starschenski. Elga ?
Elga. We must have the horses out and hunt today.
Starschenski. Yes; we shall hunt. But not over the young grain.
Elga. Over grain, hedges, fences and ditches . . . Look

Look! (A butter. Aly has settled on her breast.)

Starschenski. The spring flutters down on your breast.
Elga. A butterfly.
(Starschenski catches and crushes the butterfly.)


Elga. What are you doing?
Starschenski. Nothing; that place is mine!
Elga. Fool.
Starschenski. Elga!
(They embrace and kiss each other.)
Marina (looking up). Are you two kissing again?
Starschenski. Yes, mother; we are kissing. Do you love me, Elga ?
Elga. Today :-Yes!
Starschenski. Will you always love me?

Elga. Always ? Always? Some day I shall be dust! But today I am alive. Let me go.

Starschenski. Stay! Stay a minute longer. O, your eyes !
Elga. You hug me too hard.
Starschenski. Too bad! Dear hand!
Elga. Let me

Starschenski. Your brothers are coming, did you know it?
Flga. Grischka and Dimitri?
Starschenski. Both!
Elga. Why? What do they want?
Starschenski. Don't you worry about that.

Elga. I am not worrying. But I don't like their coming so continually, and taking money from you.

Starschenski. Perhaps they won't want money this time.

Elga. And if they do want it, they are not to get a penny from you! Promise me that.

Starschenski. I would promise you that and more, if only they were not your brothers.

Elga. Mother, help me! Promise me!

Marina. My son, you ought not to encourage their extravagance. But you, my daughter, they are your brothers!

Elga. You spoil the day for me.
Starschenski. "I will do anything.
Elga. And not give them a penny!

Starschenski. No! Just be merry! Be merry when we sit at table with your brothers. We shall feast. We shall put young peach blossoms in our wine and thank God for life.

Marina. Thank God another way, dear children, do not thank God

Starschenski. That way, mother, and no other! When the wine foams and Elga laughs, there is no other paradise, neither in heaven nor on earth.

Marina. Do not blaspheme !
Starschenski. Hold Elga in my arms, mother . . . do that and blas-

that way.

pheme? Is not God praised in her? Does not God's incomprehensible creative power excel itself in this creature? Can you name me a fruit on any of the creative gardner's trees, half so wonderful, rounded, sweet and divine as this one? Do I not pray to the Creator in her? Do I not enjoy God himself in her? Who am I, that He has given me you?

Elga. Take good care of me, then!

Starschenski (after short reflection, with earnest determination). I will !

(DIMITRI and GRISCHKA enter in high spirits.)
Dimitri. Here we are.
Starschenski. Dimitri and Grischka! Welcome, both of

you. Grischka (kissing Maria's hand). God guard you, gracious lady. Elga. Did they see you in the court?

Dimitri (after he, too, has kissed MARINA's hand). No. We came in through the garden, through the little gate in the wall, near the watchtower.

Starschenski. Where are your horses?

Grischka. Old Timoska, the steward, was hanging round there; bie took them from us.

Elga. What does Timoska want round the old watch-tower?
Starschenski. I don't know.
Grischka.. When we appeared, he seemed frightened.

Marina. He is not alarmed for himself. He is only anxious for his master. He suspects, I know, that you are conspiring with the discontented portion of the nobles against John Sobieski, our King. He, himself, has served under Sobieski, and perhaps thinks that this might end in throwing suspicion on his master.

Starschenski. He is unnecessarily anxious about me, his master. He is old and faithful.

Grischka (laughing). And churlish!

Elga. Who says that he is faithful? But take off your things, dear brothers. How is our cousin ?

Dimitri. Oginski is well. .

Grischka. He is better than we. He keeps house with the little that our father, as his guardian, laid aside for him. He keeps himself hidden, but otherwise he leads a comfortable enough life.

Starschenski. I am glad of that. You and your comrades among the nobles have conspired from a passion for it and of your own free will. Oginski has become entangled in your opposition for no reason, and is, besides, no hero.

Grischka. No.

Marina. He thought he must do as you do because you are his friends and models.

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