Christoph, his servant
A young lady, his daughter
Michel Stich, Martin Krumm
MARTIN KRUMM. You idiot, Michel Stich!
MICHEL STICH. You idiot, Martin Krumm!
MARTIN KRUMM. Agreed, we were both super-idiots. After all, it wouldnt have mattered if we had killed one more.
MICHEL STICH. But how could we have planned it any better? We were pretty well covered up, werent we? The coachman was in cahoots with us, wasnt he? Could we have helped it that luck played such a dirty trick on us? Ive said it once, Ive said it a hundred times: God-damned luck! If you dont have luck on your side you cant even be a decent thief.
MARTIN KRUMM. Yes, but if you look at it in the right perspective, then we just escaped the rope (gesture of finger around neck) for a few days more.
MICHEL STICH. Hey, whats this with the rope? If all thieves were to be hanged there would have to be a lot more gallows around. As it is, you barely see one every couple of miles, and where there is one its mostly empty. I believe that the honorable judges, courteous as they are, will just let the damned things rot away. What are they good for, anyway? For nothing! Maybe, at most, to make someone like us blink his eyes shut when he passes by.
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh, I dont even do that. My father and my grandfather died on the gallows. Why should I expect any better? Im not ashamed of my ancestors.
MICHEL STICH. But honest people will be ashamed of you. You havent done nearly enough yet to be considered their true offspring.
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh, so you think thats it, and our master should get off just like that? And that damned stranger, who took such a juicy bite right out of our mouths dont worry, Ill get back at him. Hes going to leave his watch right here. (Points at his pocket.) But look, here he comes! Hurry, go away! Let me put on my masterpiece.
MICHEL STICH. But remember: share and share alike!
Martin Krumm, the traveler
MARTIN KRUMM. (Aside) Ill play dumb. (Aloud) Your most obedient servant, sir. My name is Martin Krumm, and I am the duly appointed steward of this noble estate.
TRAVELER. Yes, my friend, I believe you. But, if you dont mind, have you by any chance seen my servant?
MARTIN KRUMM. At your service, sir, Im sorry, I havent; but Ive had the honor to hear much good about your praiseworthy person. And I am most pleased to have the honor of enjoying the honor of your acquaintance. They say that last night you saved our master from a most dangerous danger on a voyage. As I cannot do otherwise than be happy over my masters good fortune, so I am happy...
TRAVELER. Let me guess what you want to say. You wish to thank me for having helped your master...
MARTIN KRUMM. Yes, thats it, exactly!
TRAVELER. You are an honest man...
MARTIN KRUMM. That I am! And honesty is the best policy, I always say.
TRAVELER. Its no small pleasure for me that Ive earned the thanks of so many decent people with such a slight service. Your gratitude is more reward than I need for what I did. I did it because I had to, because I care for people. I felt it was my duty, and I would be content if it werent taken as anything else. You are too kind, dear people, to thank me for what you yourselves would undoubtedly have done with just as much zeal if I had been in a similar danger. Can I be of any other service to you, my friend?
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh! I dont want to bother you, sir, with any service. I have my own servant who serves me when its necessary. But... Id like to know just how it happened. Where was it? Were there a lot of thugs? Did they want to take our good masters life, or just his money? Because this would have been better than the other.
TRAVELER. I can tell you the whole story in a few words. It was about an hour away from here, on a narrow road, where the robbers attacked your master. I happened to be traveling along that road, and when I heard his anxious cries for help I rushed to his side, together with my servant.
MARTIN KRUMM. Aha!
TRAVELER. I found him in an open carriage ...
MARTIN KRUMM. Aha!
TRAVELER. Two masked fellows...
MARTIN KRUMM. Masked? Aha!
TRAVELER. Yes! They were already attacking him.
MARTIN KRUMM. Aha!
TRAVELER. I dont know if they where going to kill him or just tie him up in order to rob him more easily.
MARTIN KRUMM. Aha! Of course they were going to kill him, those godless folk!
TRAVELER. I cant assume that; I dont want to accuse them unjustly.
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh, yes, believe me: they were going to kill him. I know, I know it for sure...
TRAVELER. How can you be so sure? But never mind. As soon as the robbers saw me, they dropped their loot and ran off into the bushes nearby. I shot at one of them with my pistol, but it was already too dark and he was too far away, so I doubt whether I hit him.
MARTIN KRUMM. No, you didnt hit him.
TRAVELER. You know that?
MARTIN KRUMM. Well, I know that just because it was already dark, and in the dark, Im told, its hard to hit your target.
TRAVELER. I cant describe to you how grateful your master was to me. A hundred times he called me his savior, and he insisted that I go back with him to his estate. I wished that my circumstances would allow me to spend more time with this charming man; but I already have to get back on the road today. And that, in short, is why Im looking for my servant.
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh, please, dont rush off just yet. Allow me just a little while longer with you. Pardon me! Yes uh what else did I want to ask you? Oh yes, the robbers: tell me, what did they look like? How did they act? You say they were masked, but how?
TRAVELER. Your master insists that they were Jews. Its true, they had beards; but they spoke the usual peasant dialect of around here. If they were masked, as I am sure they were, then the dusk must have helped them. I simply dont understand how the Jews could make the roads unsafe in this country, where so few of them are allowed to live.
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh, they were Jews, Im sure of it too. Maybe you dont know that godless scum so well. As many of them as there are, theyre all cheats, thieves and highway robbers. Thats why theyre a people that the good Lord has cursed. I ought not to be a king, because if I were, I wouldnt leave a single one of them alive. Ha! May God protect all decent Christians from those people! If God himself didnt hate them, then why did so many of them die in the recent disaster in Breslau, twice as many as Christians? Our reverend pastor very wisely mentioned this in his last sermon. Its as if they had been listening to him, and right away they wanted to take revenge on our dear Lord. Oh, dear sir, if you want to have good fortune and happiness in this world, watch out for the Jews, theyre worse than the plague.
TRAVELER. (Aside) I wish to God that only the common people spoke like that.
MARTIN KRUMM. For example, sir: I once went to a fair... Yes! when I remember that fair, I want to poison all the damned Jews at once, if I could. In the crowd they would pinch the handkerchief from one man, the snuffbox from another, the watch from a third, and I dont know what else. They are quick, quick as a fox, when it comes to stealing. As handy as our schoolmaster is on the organ. For example, sir: first they get really close to one, as I am to you right now...
TRAVELER. Please, my friend, a little respect...
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh! Just let me show you. When you stand like this, you see, they get into your watch pocket like lightning (he places his hand in the coat pocket in order to get the watch but takes out the snuffbox). But they can do it all so quickly that you would swear they move the hand this way when in fact they move it that way. When they speak of the snuffbox, then they are going for the watch, and when they speak of the watch, then they have stealing the snuffbox in mind. (He tries to grab the watch cleanly, but gets caught.)
TRAVELER. Take it easy! Whats your hand doing here?
MARTIN KRUMM. You can see, sir, what a clumsy robber I would be. If a Jew had taken a stab like this, then you could have said goodbye to your fine watch. But I can see that Im bothering you, so I will just take the liberty of taking my leave, and for your kind actions in behalf of my honored master I will remain your most obedient servant, Martin Krumm, duly appointed steward of this most noble manor.
TRAVELER. Very well, good-bye now.
MARTIN KRUMM. Just remember what I told you about the Jews. They are a godless, thieving people.
This fellow, as stupid as he is or as he pretends to be, is probably more immoral than any Jew ever was. If a Jew cheats, then seven
out of nine times a Christian has forced him to it. I doubt that many Christians can boast of having dealt honestly with a Jew; and
theyre surprised when they get tit for tat! If there is to be trust and honesty between two peoples, then both have contribute to it
equally. But how, if for one of them its a point of religion and almost a sacred duty to persecute the other? Still ...
The traveler, Christoph
TRAVELER. I have to look for you for an hour when I need you.
CHRISTOPH. Youre joking, sir. I can only be in one place at a time, cant I? Is it my fault that you didnt go to the right place? You will always find me where I am.
TRAVELER. Really? And youre staggering! Now I understand why youre so witty. Must you get drunk so early in the morning?
CHRISTOPH. You say "drunk" and Ive barely begun to drink. Except for a couple of bottles of good country wine, a couple of glasses of brandy and a roll to eat, I havent had anything at all, as I am an honest man. I am completely sober.
TRAVELER. Yes, you look like it. And as a friend I advise you to double the portion.
CHRISTOPH. Excellent advice! I will not fail, according to my duty, to regard it as an order. I will go and you will see how obedient I can be.
TRAVELER. Be sensible! Youd better go and saddle the horses, and pack up. I want to leave before noon.
CHRISTOPH. Since you were joking when you advised me to have a double breakfast, how can I believe that you are now talking seriously? You seem to be having fun at my expense today. Is it the young lady whos making you so cheerful? Shes a lovely girl, all right. But dont you think she ought to be a little older, just a little bit older? When a woman hasnt reached a certain degree of ripeness...
TRAVELER. Go and do as Ive told you.
CHRISTOPH. Youre getting serious. Still, Im going to wait till you order me for the third time. This matter is too important! You may have been too hasty, and I have always been in the habit of giving my master time to think it over. Think it over, then: are we to leave so soon from a place where theyre practically carrying us on their hands? We just arrived yesterday. Weve made the gentleman infinitely obliged to us, and weve barely had a supper and a breakfast with him.
TRAVELER. Youre becoming unbearably rude. Someone who decides to be a servant has to get used to not making so much fuss.
CHRISTOPH. All right, sir. Youre beginning to moralize, that is, youre getting angry. Take it easy, Im going...
TRAVELER. You must not be used to reflecting about things. What we have done for this gentleman stops being a good deed as soon as we appear to be expecting the least reward. I shouldnt even have let him bring me here. The pleasure of having helped someone unknown, with no ulterior motives, is so great in itself! And he himself would have showered us with more blessings than the exaggerated thanks he is offering us now. Someone that we put under the obligation of extensively and expensively thanking us is doing us a favor in return that may be more trouble for him than our good deed was for us. Most people have too much on their conscience for the presence of a benefactor not to bother them. It seems to humble their pride...
CHRISTOPH. Your philosophy leaves you breathless, sir. All right! You will see that Im just as magnanimous as you are. Im
going; in a quarter of an hour youll be able to sit on your saddle.
The traveler, the young lady
TRAVELER. As nice as Ive tried to be with this man, he is nasty with me.
YOUNG LADY. Why are you staying away from us, sir? Why are you so alone here? Are you already tired of our company, in the few hours that youve spent with us? If that were so, I would be very sorry. I try to please everyone; and above everyone else I wouldnt like to displease you.
TRAVELER. Excuse me, miss. I just wanted to tell my servant to get everything ready for our departure.
YOUNG LADY. What are you talking about? Your departure? When was your arrival? Granted, if you had been here for a year and a day, then a moment of melancholy might have given you such an idea. But now? Not even to stay a whole day? Thats awful. I tell you I will be angry if you ever think of it again.
TRAVELER. You couldnt threaten me with anything that would hurt me more.
YOUNG LADY. No! Seriously? You mean you would be hurt if I were angry with you?
TRAVELER. Who could be indifferent to the anger of a kind woman?
YOUNG LADY. What you say sounds almost as if you were teasing. But I will take it seriously, even if Im wrong. Therefore, sir I am somewhat kind, as Ive been told I will tell you again: I will be horribly, horribly angry if you even think of leaving again between now and the new year.
TRAVELER. The time limit is set very considerately. You will show me the door in the middle of winter, in the worst weather...
YOUNG LADY. But who said that? I said only that by then you can think of leaving, out of politeness. But we still wont let you leave; we will beg you...
TRAVELER. Also out of politeness?
YOUNG LADY. Oh, one wouldnt have believed that such an honest face could also tease! But here comes my father. I have to go.
Please dont tell him that Ive been with you. He lectures me often enough about how I like male company.
The baron, the traveler
BARON. Wasnt my daughter with you? Why is that wild thing running?
TRAVELER. You are incredibly lucky to have such a charming and lively daughter. The way she talks is utterly enchanting, with the sweetest innocence and the most unaffected wit.
BARON. You judge her too kindly. She hasnt been much among her peers, and she has knows only a little of the art of pleasing, which is hard to learn here in the country, but which is often more powerful than beauty. With her its just nature running its course.
TRAVELER. And thats all the more charming, since its found so little in the city. There everything is false, forced and studied. Indeed, weve come so far as to regard stupidity, rudeness and naturalness as meaning the same thing.
BARON. What could be more pleasant than finding that our ideas and opinions agree so well? I wish Id had a friend like you for a long time.
TRAVELER. Arent you being unfair to your other friends?
BARON. To my other friends, you say? I am fifty years old... Ive had acquaintances, but never yet a friend. And never has friendship appeared so attractive as in the few hours that Ive been trying to win yours. Tell me, how can I earn it?
TRAVELER. My friendship is so insignificant that just asking for it is merit enough to have it. Your request is worth far more than what you request.
BARON. Oh, sir, the friendship of a benefactor...
TRAVELER. Allow me: ... is no friendship. If you look at me under this false aspect, then I cant be your friend. Lets suppose, for a moment, that I really was your benefactor. Shouldnt I have to fear that your friendship was in effect nothing but gratitude?
BARON. Cant the two be combined?
TRAVELER. With great difficulty. Gratitude is something that any worthy person regards as his duty. Friendship is a matter of purely voluntary movements of the soul.
BARON. But how should I... Your refined sensibility has left me all confused.
TRAVELER. Please, dont hold me in higher regard than I deserve. At most Im a man who did his duty with pleasure. Duty itself
doesnt deserve gratitude. But for having done it with pleasure I am well rewarded with your friendship.
BARON. This magnanimity confuses me even more. But perhaps Im being too forward. I havent even had the audacity yet to ask you for your name or your position. Perhaps Im offering my friendship to someone who... who might look down on it.
TRAVELER. Excuse me, sir. You... you make... you think too highly of me.
BARON. (Aside) Should I ask him? He might take my curiosity badly.
TRAVELER. (Aside) If he asks me, what shall I answer him?
BARON. (Aside) But if I dont ask him, he might take it as rude.
TRAVELER. (Aside) Should I tell him the truth?
BARON. (Aside) I will take the safest way. First Ill quiz his servant.
TRAVELER. (Aside) I wish I could get out of this puzzlement!
BARON. Why so deep in thought?
TRAVELER. I was just about to ask you the same question, sir!
BARON. I know: now and then we forget ourselves. Lets change the subject. Do you think that those who attacked me were really Jews? My bailiff has just told me that a few days ago he met three of them on the highway. The way he describes them, they looked more like criminals than like decent people. And why should I doubt it? People who are so intent on making money dont ask whether they get it honestly or dishonestly, by cunning or by force. And they seem to be made for business, or to speak plainly, for cheating. Politeness, generosity, enterprise, discretion are qualities that would make them respected if they didnt use them against us. (He holds something back.) The Jews have already caused me a lot of harm and trouble. When I was still in the military I let myself get talked into signing a check for an acquaintance of mine; and the Jew that it was drawn on not only got me to pay it, but to pay it twice. Ha! They are the most evil, the most vile people. What do you say to that? But you seem quite upset.
TRAVELER. What do I say to that? I have to say that Ive often heard this complaint...
BARON. And isnt it true that they have something in their face that prejudices us against them? You can practically read it in their eyes treachery, unscrupulousness, selfishness, trickery, lying... But why are you turning away from me?
TRAVELER. As I hear, sir, you are a great expert in physiognomy, and Im afraid that mine...
BARON. Oh! You offend me. How could you come to such a suspicion? Without being any expert in physiognomy, I have to tell you that Ive never found such a sincere, generous and pleasant face as yours.
TRAVELER. To tell you the truth, I dont believe in generalizations about whole peoples. I hope you dont mind my frankness. Id
rather believe that there are good and bad individuals among all nations. And among the Jews...
Young lady, traveler, baron
YOUNG LADY. Oh, daddy...
BARON. Whats up, wild one? A little while ago you ran away from me; what did that mean?
YOUNG LADY. I didnt run away from you, daddy, only from your scolding.
BARON. Thats a very subtle difference. But what was it that might earn my scolding?
YOUNG LADY. Oh, you know. You saw it! I was with the gentleman..
BARON. And so?
YOUNG LADY. And the gentleman is a man, and youve told me not too have too much to do with men...
BARON. You must have noticed that this gentleman is an exception. I only wish that he liked you. I would be quite happy if you were constantly in his company.
YOUNG LADY. Oh, then that will have been the first and the last time. His servant is packing already. And thats what I wanted to tell you.
BARON. What? Who? His servant?
TRAVELER. Yes, sir, I told him to. My business, and my concern about inconveniencing you...
BARON. What in the world should I think of this? Should I not have the happiness of showing you better that you have made a grateful heart obliged to you? I beg you to do another good deed, which would be just as precious to me as saving my life: please, stay with me for a while longer, at least for a few days. Otherwise I would never forgive myself for allowing a man like you to leave me without getting to know you, honoring you, rewarding you, when I was able to do otherwise. Ive invited some of my relatives for today, so that I could share my pleasure with them and to give them a chance to meet my guardian angel.
TRAVELER. Sir, I absolutely have to...
YOUNG LADY. To stay here, sir, to stay! I will run to tell your servant to unpack again. But here he is.
Christoph (with boots and spurs on, and a suitcase under each arm), the preceding
CHRISTOPH. Well, sir, everything is ready. Lets go! Cut your farewells short. Whats the point of talking if we cant stay?
BARON. And whats keeping you from staying?
CHRISTOPH. Certain considerations, dear baron, that have my masters stubbornness as the basis and his magnanimity as the pretext.
TRAVELER. Please excuse my servant; he sometimes speaks nonsense. But I see that your requests are in fact more than just politeness. I will give in, so that I dont act rude out of the fear of being rude.
BARON. Oh! What thanks I owe you!
TRAVELER. (To Christoph) You can go and unpack again. We wont leave until tomorrow.
YOUNG LADY. Well? Havent you heard? What are you standing there for? Go and unpack again.
CHRISTOPH. By rights I should be angry. And I feel as if my anger is about to break out. But since the worst thats happening is that were staying here to eat and drink and to be well cared for, Ill let it pass. Otherwise I dont like to take unnecessary trouble; do you know that?
TRAVELER. Quiet! Youre shameless.
CHRISTOPH. Because I tell the truth.
YOUNG LADY. Oh, its wonderful that you are staying with us. Now I like you twice as much. Come, Ill show you our garden; youll like it.
TRAVELER. If you like it, miss, then Im practically sure of it.
YOUNG LADY. Come, then, before its lunch time. Is it all right, daddy?
BARON. Yes, in fact I will accompany you.
YOUNG LADY. No, no, we dont want to impose on you. You must have things to do.
BARON. I have nothing more important to do than to please our guest.
YOUNG LADY. He wont mind will you, sir? (Softly to him) Say no. Id rather go alone with you.
TRAVELER. Ill be sorry to have agreed so easily to stay here if I see that I am causing you the least bit of trouble. I therefore ask...
BARON. Oh, why do you pay attention to that child?
YOUNG LADY. Child? Daddy! Dont embarrass me like that! The gentleman will think Im ever so young. Dont mind him; Im old enough to take a walk with you. Come. But look: your servant is still standing there with the suitcases under his arms.
CHRISTOPH. I should think that would only matter to whoevers bothered by it.
TRAVELER. Quiet! Youre being shown too much respect.
Lisette, the preceding
BARON. (As he sees Lisette coming) Sir, I will follow you right away, if you dont mind accompanying my daughter in the garden.
YOUNG LADY. Oh, stay as long as you please. We will have a good time. Come! (The young lady and the traveler leave.)
BARON. Lisette, I have something to tell you.
BARON. (Softly to her) I dont know yet who our guest is. For certain reasons I dont like to ask him. Couldnt you find out from his servant..
LISETTE. I know what you wish. My own curiosity is pushing me in the same direction, and thats why I came here.
BARON. Make an effort, then, and give me the information. I will be grateful to you.
LISETTE. Just go.
CHRISTOPH. You wont mind then, sir, that we like it here. But I ask you, dont take any extra trouble on my account. Im quite happy with whatever there is.
BARON. Lisette, Im putting him under your care. Dont let him lack for anything. (He leaves.)
CHRISTOPH. I entrust myself to your gentle care, mademoiselle, who wont let me lack for anything. (He is about to leave.)
LISETTE. (Stops him.) No, sir, I cant bring myself to let you be so impolite. Am I not woman enough to by worthy of a little conversation?
CHRISTOPH. What the devil! You take matters too literally, mademoiselle. Whether youre woman enough or too much of a woman, I cant say. But if I were to judge by your mouth, I would conclude the latter. But be that as it may; you have to give me leave. You see that my hands and arms are full. As soon as Im hungry or thirsty, Ill be with you.
LISETTE. Just like our watchman.
CHRISTOPH. Hell! He must be a clever guy: he acts like me.
LISETTE. If you would like to meet him, he is chained in back of the house.
CHRISTOPH. Damn! I do believe you mean the dog. I see that you thought I meant physical hunger and thirst. But thats not what I meant, but hunger and thirst for love. Thats what it is, mademoiselle, thats what I meant! Are you satisfied with my explanation?
LISETTE. Better than with whats explained.
CHRISTOPH. Well now, confidentially: are you implying thereby that you wouldnt mind a declaration of love from me?
LISETTE. Maybe! Would you make me one? Seriously?
LISETTE. Phew! What an answer. "Maybe," indeed.
CHRISTOPH. But is wasnt different by a hair from yours.
LISETTE. But in my mouth it means something completely different. "Maybe" is a womans best insurance. Because, however bad a hand we hold, we must never let anyone see our cards.
CHRISTOPH. Well, if thats the case, I think we can get down to business. (He drops both suitcases.) I wonder why Im troubling myself. There it is. I love you, mademoiselle.
LISETTE. I call that saying a lot with a few words. Lets break it down.
CHRISTOPH. No, its better to leave it whole. But, so that we can comfortably open our thoughts to each other, please sit down. Standing makes me tired! Without further ado... (He makes her sit on the suitcase) I love you, mademoiselle.
LISETTE. But... its a damned hard seat. I think there are books inside...
CHRISTOPH. Yes, romantic and funny books. And you find them hard to sit on? Its my masters travel library. It includes comedies that make you cry, and tragedies that make you laugh; tender heroic poems, profound drinking songs, and who knows what other newfangled stuff. But lets change seats. Here, you take mine go ahead its softer.
LISETTE. Excuse me, I dont mean to be so rude.
CHRISTOPH. Come on, no ceremony, no compliments... You dont want to? Then Ill carry you over...
LISETTE. Since you order me... (She stands up and goes to sit on the other suitcase)
CHRISTOPH. Order you? God help me, no... "Order" means a lot. If thats how you take it, then youd better keep your seat. (He sits back down on his suitcase)
LISETTE. (aside) What a boor! But Id better let it pass...
CHRISTOPH. So, where were we? Yes, with love. I love you, then, mademoiselle. Je vous aime, I would say if you were a French marquise.
LISETTE. What the devil! Are you a Frenchman, then?
CHRISTOPH. No, I must admit my shame: Im a mere German. But Ive been lucky enough to associate with quite a few Frenchmen, and from them Ive learned what it takes to be an honest fellow. I think it shows on me.
LISETTE. So, are you coming with your master from France?
CHRISTOPH. Oh, no!
LISETTE. So, from where? Perhaps...
CHRISTOPH. Where we come from is some miles past France.
LISETTE. Not from Italy?
CHRISTOPH. Not far from there.
LISETTE. From England, then?
CHRISTOPH. Almost; England is a province of it. Here we are, over fifty miles from home. But.. oh my God! My horses! The
poor beasts are still standing there saddled. Excuse me, mademoiselle! Hurry, get up! (He takes the suitcases under his arms again)
I have to go, in spite of my burning love, and take care of whats necessary. We have the whole day and, whats more, the whole
night ahead of us. Well be together again. Ill know where to find you.
Martin Krumm, Lisette
LISETTE. I wont be able to get much out of him. He is either too stupid or too smart, and either way hes hard to figure out.
MARTIN KRUMM. Well, Miss Lisette! So thats the fellow whos supposed to outshine me.
LISETTE. He doesnt need to do that.
MARTIN KRUMM. Doesnt need to? And Ive been thinking about how firmly Im planted in your heart.
LISETTE. Thats it, Mr. Steward, youve been thinking. People like you have the right to think in clichés. Thats why Im not angry that youve been thinking that way, only that youve told me. Id like to know: what business of yours is my heart? What kind of favors have you done, what kind of gifts have you given to have a right to it? These days we dont give away our heart just like that. And do you think that I am so hard up with mine? Im sure Ill find an honest man to give it to before I cast it before swine.
MARTIN KRUMM. Hell! That stings right in my nose! Id better take a pinch of snuff. Maybe a good sneeze will relieve it. (He pulls out the stolen snuffbox, plays with for a while in his hand, and finally takes a pinch in a ridiculously affected manner.)
LISETTE. (Glancing at him sideways) Wow! Where did the fellow get the snuffbox?
MARTIN KRUMM. Would you like a little pinch?
LISETTE. Oh, your most obedient maid, Mr. Steward. (She takes one.)
MARTIN KRUMM. (Aside) What a silver snuffbox will do! Could an earwig be easier to bend?
LISETTE. Is that snuffbox silver?
MARTIN KRUMM. If it werent silver, then Martin Krumm wouldnt own it.
LISETTE. Is it all right to look at it?
MARTIN KRUMM. Yes, but only in my hands.
LISETTE. The workmanship is exquisite.
MARTIN KRUMM. Yes, it weighs a full five ounces.
LISETTE. Just for the workmanship I would like to have one like it.
MARTIN KRUMM. When Ive melted it down, youre free to keep the workmanship.
LISETTE. You are too kind! Its a present, no doubt?
MARTIN KRUMM. Yes, it didnt cost me a penny.
LISETTE. Really! A woman could be blinded by a present like that! You can make your fortune with it, Mr. Steward. I at least would have a hard time defending myself if someone attacked me with a silver snuffbox. With a box like that a suitor would have the game won with me.
MARTIN KRUMM. I understand, I understand...
LISETTE. Since it didnt cost you anything, I would advise you, Mr. Steward, to use it to get yourself a good lady friend...
MARTIN KRUMM. I understand, I understand...
LISETTE. (Flirtatiously) Would you give it to me?
MARTIN KRUMM. Oh, excuse me. These days we dont give away a silver snuffbox just like that. And do you think, Miss Lisette, that I am so hard up with mine? Im sure Ill find an honest man to give it to before I cast it before swine.
LISETTE. Has anyone heard anything more disgustingly stupid? To compare a heart to a snuffbox...
MARTIN KRUMM. Yes, a stone heart to a silver snuffbox.
LISETTE. Maybe it would stop being of stone, if... But all my talk is useless. He isnt worthy of my love. What a good-hearted fool I am! (Begins to cry.) I almost thought that the steward was one of the honest men who mean what they say...
MARTIN KRUMM. And what a good-hearted fool I am, to believe that a woman means what she says. There, there, my little Lisette,
dont cry! (He gives her the snuffbox.) Well, now am I worthy of your love? To begin with, I ask for nothing more than a little kiss
on your lovely hand! (He kisses her hand.) Mm, how delicious!
The young lady, Lisette, Martin Krumm
YOUNG LADY. (Comes up sneakily and pushes his head down on the hand) Hey, Mr. Steward! Wont you kiss my hand too?
LISETTE. Well now!
MARTIN KRUMM. Most gladly, miss. (He tries to kiss her hand)
YOUNG LADY. (Slaps him) You lout, dont you get a joke?
MARTIN KRUMM. Hell! Thats some joke!
LISETTE. Ha, ha, ha! (She laughs at him) Oh, I feel sorry for you, my dear steward... Ha, ha, ha!
MARTIN KRUMM. What, youre laughing too? Is that my thanks! All right, all right.. (He leaves)
LISETTE. Ha, ha, ha!
Lisette, the young lady
YOUNG LADY. I wouldnt have believed it if I hadnt seen it with my own eyes. You let yourself be kissed? And by the steward yet?
LISETTE. I dont know what right you have to spy on me. I thought you were taking a walk in the garden with the stranger.
YOUNG LADY. Yes, and I would still be with him if my father hadnt joined us. But then I couldnt say another intelligent word. My father is much too serious...
LISETTE. Hey, what do you mean by an intelligent word? What would you two be talking about that your father shouldnt hear?
YOUNG LADY. Thousands of things! But youll make me angry if you ask any more questions. Enough: I like that strange gentleman. May I admit that?
LISETTE. Im sure youd have a dreadful fight with your father if he were to get you a bridegroom like that. But, seriously, who knows what hes doing? Its just too bad that you arent a few years older, because then it could happen.
YOUNG LADY. Oh, if its just a matter of age, then my father can age me by a few years. Im sure I wont contradict him.
LISETTE. No, I know a better way. I will give you a few of my years, and that will help both of us: I wont be too old and you wont be too young.
YOUNG LADY. Thats true; that should work.
LISETTE. Here comes the strangers servant; I have to talk with him. Its all for your benefit. Leave me alone with him. Go.
YOUNG LADY. But dont forget about the years. Do you hear me, Lisette?
LISETTE. Sir, you must be hungry or thirsty, since youre coming back already, isnt that so?
CHRISTOPH. Yes, indeed. But notice how Ive explained hunger and thirst. To tell you the truth, my dear girl, you caught my eye as soon as I got off my horse yesterday. But since I was going to stay only a few hours, I didnt think it was worth while getting acquainted. What could we have managed in such a short time? We would have had to begin our novel at the end. And its not too safe to pull the cat out of the oven by the tail.
LISETTE. Thats true! But now we can do things more properly. You can make me your proposal; I can respond to it. I can tell you about my doubts; you can dispel them. We can consider every step we take, and we dont need to sell each other a pig in a poke. Its true that if you had made me an offer of love right away yesterday, then I would have accepted it. But think of how much I would have risked, if I hadnt even had time to find out about your position, your wealth, your country, your business and such things.
CHRISTOPH. Hell! Would that have been necessary? All that fuss? You couldnt have made any more if you were getting married!
LISETTE. Oh! If it had been just marriage, then it would have been ridiculous of me to be so particular. But with a romantic relationship its quite different. Here the tiniest detail becomes a major issue. So dont think that youll receive the least favor from me if you dont satisfy my curiosity in every way.
CHRISTOPH. Really? How far does it extend, then?
LISETTE. Well, since a servant is best judged by his master, then first of all I want to know...
CHRISTOPH. Who my master is? Ha, ha! Thats funny. You ask me something that I would ask you if I thought that you knew any more than I do.
LISETTE. And you think youre going to get away with this tired old trick? Once and for all, I must know who your master is, or our friendship is over.
CHRISTOPH. I havent known my master any longer than four weeks; thats how long its been since he hired me in Hamburg. Ive been with him ever since, but Ive never taken the trouble of asking his name or position. One thing thats sure is that hes rich, for he hasnt let either me or him lack for anything on our travels. And what else do I need to worry about?
LISETTE. What can I expect from your love, if you dont trust my discretion with such a trivial matter? I would never be that way with you. Here, for example, I have a beautiful silver snuffbox...
CHRISTOPH. Yes? Well?
LISETTE. You would only need to ask me a little, then I would tell you who I got it from..
CHRISTOPH. Oh, that really doesnt matter that much to me. I would rather know who will get it from you.
LISETTE. Thats something I havent decided yet. But if you dont get it youll have no one to blame but yourself. I certainly wouldnt leave your frankness unrewarded.
CHRISTOPH. Or rather my big mouth! But, as Im an honest man, if this time Im discreet its out of necessity, because I really dont know what I could blab to you. Damn it! Id be happy to spill my secrets, if only I had any.
LISETTE. Good-bye! I will no longer assail your virtue. I only wish that it will help you get a silver snuffbox and a girlfriend, just as its kept you from getting them now. (She begins to leave.)
CHRISTOPH. Where are you going? Hold on! (Aside) I see Im forced to lie. Or should I let such a present get away from me? And what harm will be done?
LISETTE. Well, are you coming out with it? But... I see, its hard for you. In that case, I dont want to know anything...
CHRISTOPH. Yes, yes, you will know everything. (Aside) I wish I were good at lying! (To her) Listen! My master is... is... a nobleman. He comes... we both come... from... from... Holland. He had to... to run away because of... of some annoyances... a minor matter... a murder...
LISETTE. What? Because of a murder?
CHRISTOPH. Yes... but an honorable murder... a duel. And even now hes... running away...
LISETTE. And you, my friend?
CHRISTOPH. Im running away with him. The dead man is.. I mean, the dead mans friends are... are pursuing us. And because of this pursuit... but you can guess the rest. What the hell should a man do? Think about it: a snotty young jerk calls us names. My master knocks him down. What else could he have done? If someone calls me names, Ill do the same, or... or Ill smack him on the ear. An honest man must stand up for himself.
LISETTE. Thats great! I like people like that, because I also have a bit of a temper. But look, your master is coming. Could you ever tell by his looks that hes so angry, so violent?
CHRISTOPH. Come! Wed better get out of his way! He might be able to tell that Ive betrayed him.
LISETTE. Its all right with me...
CHRISTOPH. But the silver snuffbox...
LISETTE. Come on. (Aside) First Ill see what my master will give me for uncovering the secret. If its worth while than he can
Im missing my snuffbox. Its not a big deal, but Im upset about losing it. Could the steward have...? But I could have just lost
it... I could have pulled it out carelessly... One should not offend a person even with a suspicion. Still... he pressed against me...
he reached for the watch... I caught him. Couldnt he have reached for the snuffbox without my catching him?
The traveler, Martin Krumm
MARTIN KRUMM. (Tries to turn around when he sees the traveler.) Hey!
TRAVELER. Well, well, come closer, my friend. (Aside) Hes acting so shy that he could be reading my thoughts. (Aloud) Well? Come closer!
MARTIN KRUMM. (Harshly) Oh! I have no time. I know, you want to chat with me. I have more important things to do. I dont want to hear about your heroic deeds ten times. Tell them to someone who doesnt know about them yet.
TRAVELER. What am I hearing? Before, the steward was straightforward and polite, now he is rude and insulting. Which is your true mask?
MARTIN KRUMM. How the hell did you learn to call my face a mask? Id rather not fight with you, otherwise... (Tries to leave.)
TRAVELER. (Aside) His rude behavior makes me more suspicious. (Aloud) No, hold on! I have something important to tell you...
MARTIN KRUMM. And I will have nothing to answer, now matter how important it is, so save your breath.
TRAVELER. Ill take a chance. (Aside) But Id be sorry if I did him an injustice. (Aloud) My friend, have you seen my snuffbox? Im missing it.
MARTIN KRUMM. What kind of a question is that? Can I help it that it was stolen from you? Who do you take me for? For the fence? Or for the thief?
TRAVELER. Who said anything about stealing? Youre almost giving yourself away...
MARTIN KRUMM. Im giving myself away? Do you mean to say that I have it? Do you know what it means to accuse an honest man like that? Do you know?
TRAVELER. Why must you shout like that? I havent accused you of anything. You are your own accuser. But if I did, I might not be so far off: didnt I catch you before when you tried to grab my watch?
MARTIN KRUMM. Youre a man who doesnt get a joke. Listen! (Aside) Could he have seen Lisette with it? That girl wouldnt be crazy enough to show it off?
TRAVELER. Oh, I get the joke so well that I believe you want to joke with my snuffbox. But if you carry the joke too far then it turns serious. I am sorry about your good name. Even if I were convinced that you had no bad intentions, someone else might...
MARTIN KRUMM. Someone else! Someone else would have long been fed up with being accused of something like that. But if you think that I have it, search me, frisk me...
TRAVELER. That isnt my job. Besides, one doesnt keep everything in ones pocket.
MARTIN KRUMM. All right! Just so you see that Im an honest man, Ill turn my pockets out myself. Pay attention! (Aside) If it does fall out then he must in league with the devil!
TRAVELER. Oh, dont bother!
MARTIN KRUMM. No, no, you must see for yourself. (Turns one pocket inside out.) Is that a snuffbox? There are bread crumbs... a great fortune! (Turns out the other pocket.) Nothing there... Oh, yes! A piece of a calendar! I keep it because of the verses that are written over the months. Theyre cute! But lets go on! Look, Im going to turn the third one out. (As he does so, two large beards fall out.) Hell! What did I drop here? (He quickly tries to pick them up, but the traveler is quicker and snatches one of them.)
TRAVELER. Whats this supposed to mean?
MARTIN KRUMM. (Aside) Damn it! I thought Id put this crap away long ago!
TRAVELER. Why, this is a beard. (Puts it on his chin.) Dont I look just like a Jew?
MARTIN KRUMM. Give it to me! Come on, give it to me! Who knows what you might be thinking? I sometimes use it to scare my little boy. Thats what its for.
TRAVELER. You will be so kind as to let me keep it. I also want to use it for scaring.
MARTIN KRUMM. Dont get peevish with me. I must have it back. (He tries to pull it from the travelers hand.)
TRAVELER. Go away, or...
MARTIN KRUMM. (Aside) Damn! Now Id better see where the carpenter left a hole. (Aloud) Its all right, its all right! I see that
youve come here to bring me bad luck. But may I go to the devil if Im not an honest man! And Id like to see whoever can say
anything bad about me! Keep that in mind! Whatever happens, I can swear that I havent used the beard for anything bad. (Leaves.)
TRAVELER. That man is himself leading me to suspicions that are quite damaging to him. Could he have been one of the masked
robbers? But its just a supposition, Id better be cautious.
The baron, the traveler
TRAVELER. Would you believe it? Yesterday I got into a scuffle with the Jewish highway robbers, and I pulled the beard off one of them.
BARON. What do you mean, sir? And why did you leave me so quickly in the garden?
TRAVELER. Please excuse my bad manners. I meant to rejoin you right away. I just went to look for my snuffbox, which I seem to have lost around here.
BARON. I am truly sorry about that. That you should suffer a loss while youre my guest!
TRAVELER. It isnt such a great loss. But take a look at this impressive beard!
BARON. Youve already shown it to me. What about it?
TRAVELER. I will explain myself to you. I believe... No, I should hold back my suppositions.
BARON. Your suppositions? Please explain yourself!
TRAVELER. No, Im being hasty. I may be mistaken...
BARON. Youre making me anxious.
TRAVELER. What do you think of your steward?
BARON. No, no; lets not get sidetracked. For the sake of the kindness that youve shown me, I beg you to tell me what you think, what you suppose, where you may be mistaken...
TRAVELER. I can be open with you only if you answer my question.
BARON. What do I think of my steward? I think of him as a perfectly honest and decent man.
TRAVELER. In that case forget that I had anything to say.
BARON. A beard... suppositions... the steward... How should I connect these things? Dont my requests have any force with you? You could be mistaken? Granted, youre mistaken; what would you be risking with a friend?
TRAVELER. Youre forcing me. I will tell you, then, that the steward carelessly dropped this beard; that he had another one, which he was able quickly to snatch back; that his words betray a man who believes that peoples opinion of him is just as bad as his actions are; and that Ive caught him in an act that was not very honest at least not very clever.
BARON. Its as if my eyes were suddenly opening. Im afraid youre not mistaken. And you had reservations about telling me such a thing? Ill go this instant and do all I can to get at the truth. That I should have my potential murderer in my own house!
TRAVELER. But I hope you dont resent it if fortunately my suppositions turn out wrong. You forced them out of me; otherwise I would have kept them from you.
BARON. Whether I find them to be true or false, I will be eternally grateful to you.
The traveler, then Christoph
TRAVELER. I just hope he doesnt act too hastily with him! However strong the suspicion, the man could still be innocent. Im in a quandary. Indeed, its no small matter to make a master suspect his servants. Even if he finds them innocent he loses his trust in them forever. Thinking it over, I feel I should have kept quiet. When people find out that Ive blamed him for my loss, wont they think that my suspicions are just due to self-interest and spite? I would give a lot to have this investigation postponed.
CHRISTOPH. (Enters laughing.) Ha, ha, ha! Do you know who you are, sir?
TRAVELER. Do you know that you are a fool? What are you asking?
CHRISTOPH. Good! If you dont know then I will tell you. You are a nobleman. You come from Holland, where you had some annoyances and a duel. You had the good luck to stab a young snotnose to death. The dead mans friends gave you massive pursuit. You made an escape. And I have the honor of accompanying you on your escape.
TRAVELER. Are you dreaming or have you gone mad?
CHRISTOPH. Neither. For a madman my story would be too reasonable, and for a dreamer too crazy.
TRAVELER. Who ever put such nonsense in your head?
CHRISTOPH. Oh, dont think anyone puts stuff in my head. But dont you think its well made up? I couldnt think of anything better in the short time I had for lying. At least youre safe from any further curiosity.
TRAVELER. What am I supposed to make of all this?
CHRISTOPH. No more than you wish; leave the rest to me. Listen to how it happened. I was asked about your name, position, country, business. I didnt let them ask me twice: I told everything I knew, that is, I said I knew nothing. You can easily imagine that this information was not quite sufficient and gave little cause for satisfaction. I was pressed further, but in vain! I was discreet because I had nothing to be discreet about. But finally I was offered a gift that made me tell more than I knew. That is, I lied.
TRAVELER. Rascal! I see Im in good hands with you.
CHRISTOPH. I hope I havent accidentally lied the truth!
TRAVELER. You shameless liar, youve put me in a predicament that...
CHRISTOPH. That you can easily get out of as soon as you publicize that lovely epithet that you just deigned to give me.
TRAVELER. Wouldnt I be forced then to expose myself?
CHRISTOPH. So much the better! Then I will incidentally get to know you. But judge for yourself: in good conscience, could I have been conscientious about these lies? (He pulls out the snuffbox.) Look at this box! Could I have earned it more easily?
TRAVELER. Let me see it. (Takes it in his hand.) Whats this I see?
CHRISTOPH. Ha, ha, ha! I thought youd be amazed. Isnt true even you would lie a little bit if you could earn such a box?
TRAVELER. And so you lifted it from me!
CHRISTOPH. What? What do you mean?
TRAVELER. Your dishonesty doesnt bother me so much as the hasty suspicion I cast on an honest man because of it. And you have the crazy gall to try to persuade me that it was a gift, whatever crooked method you used to get it? A gift? Go away! Dont let me ever see you again.
CHRISTOPH. Are you dreaming, or... out of respect I wont name the alternative. Does envy lead you to such excesses? The box is
yours? Im supposed to have stolen it from you with impunity? In that case I would be a complete idiot to brag about it in front of
you... Good, here comes Lisette! Come on, hurry! Help me straighten out my master!
Lisette, the preceding
LISETTE. Oh, sir, what troubles you are causing among us! What did our steward do to you? Youve made our master completely furious with him! Theres talk of beards, of snuffboxes, of robberies; the steward is crying and cursing, that hes innocent, that youre lying. The master wont be placated, and now hes called for the bailiff and the judge to have him locked up. Whats all this supposed to mean?
CHRISTOPH. Oh, that isnt all. Just listen, listen to what he now has against me...
TRAVELER. Yes, indeed, my dear Lisette, I was too hasty. The steward is innocent. My crooked servant is the one who has created this annoyance for me. Hes the one who stole my snuffbox, of which I had suspected the steward; and the beard could have been a childs toy, as he said. I will go and give him satisfaction, Ill admit my mistake, Ill do whatever he asks...
CHRISTOPH. No, no, stay! First you have to give me satisfaction. Damn it, Lisette, speak, and tell him whats going on. I wish youd go to hell with that box of yours! Am I to be made into a thief because of it? Didnt you give it to me as a present?
LISETTE. Yes, of course! And its yours for good.
TRAVELER. Is that so? But the snuffbox is mine.
LISETTE. Yours? But I didnt know that.
TRAVELER. So you found it, Lisette? And my recklessness is to blame for all the confusion? (To Christoph) I was unfair to you. Forgive me! Im ashamed of having been so rash.
LISETTE. (Aside) Hell, now Im getting wise. No, he wasnt rash.
TRAVELER. Come, lets ...
The baron, the preceding
BARON. (Enters hurriedly) This instant, Lisette, give the gentleman back his snuffbox! Its all clear; hes confessed everything. And werent you ashamed to accept a gift from such a man? Well? Where is the box?
TRAVELER. Is it true, then?
LISETTE. The gentleman already has it back. I thought I could accept gifts from someone that you accept service from. I knew him just as little as you did.
CHRISTOPH. So, my gift has gone to hell! Easy come, easy go!
BARON. But how can I properly show you my gratitude, my dearest friend? For the second time you save me from an equally great danger. I owe my life to you. Without you I would never have uncovered a mortal danger lying so close. It turns out that the bailiff, who I thought was the most honest man on all my estates, was his accomplice. Do you think I could ever have suspected anything like that? If you had left here today...
TRAVELER. Then, its true, the help I thought I gave you yesterday would have been quite incomplete. I consider myself fortunate that Heaven has chosen me to make this unsuspected discovery, and Im as happy now as before I was anxious, afraid of being mistaken.
BARON. I admire your compassion as much as your magnanimity. Oh, I wish it were true what Lisette has told me.
The young lady, the preceding
LISETTE. Why wouldnt it be true?
BARON. Come, my daughter, come! Join your wishes to mine. Ask my rescuer to accept your hand, and with your hand my possessions. What can my gratitude give him thats more precious than you, whom I love as much as I love him? (To traveler) Dont be amazed that I can make you such an offer. Your servant has disclosed to us who you are. Grant me the priceless pleasure of knowing you! My wealth is on a par with my rank, which is on a par with yours. Here you are safe from your enemies, and you are among friends who adore you. But you seem upset! What am I to think?
YOUNG LADY. Are you concerned about me? I assure you, I will gladly obey my father.
TRAVELER. Your magnanimity amazes me. The magnitude of the reward that you offer me makes me realize how trivial my good deed was. But what should I tell you? My servant told you lies, and I ...
BARON. Would Heaven that you were not what he made you out to be! Would Heaven that your rank is below mine! Then my repayment would be more valuable, and perhaps you would be less reluctant to grant my request.
TRAVELER. (Aside) Why dont I disclose myself? (Aloud) Sir, your nobility of mind overwhelms my soul. But its due to fate, not me, that your proposal is of no use. I am ...
BARON. Already married, perhaps?
BARON. Well, then what?
TRAVELER. I am a Jew.
BARON. A Jew? What a cruel coincidence!
CHRISTOPH. A Jew?
LISETTE. A Jew?
YOUNG LADY. What does that matter?
LISETTE. Sh, miss, sh! Ill tell you later what it matters.
BARON. So there are cases when Heaven prevents us from being grateful!
TRAVELER. You are more than grateful just by wanting to be.
BARON. I will do at least as much as fate allows me to. Take all my wealth. I would rather be poor and grateful than rich and ungrateful.
TRAVELER. Even this offer is of no use to me, since the God of my Fathers has given me more than I need. All I ask as my compensation is that from now on you judge my people more kindly and with less generality. If I kept myself hidden from you it isnt because Im ashamed of my religion. No! But I saw that you had sympathy for me and antipathy for my nation. And a persons friendship, whoever he may be, has always been priceless to me.
BARON. Im ashamed of how I acted.
CHRISTOPH. Well, now Im coming out of my amazement and back to myself. What? Youre a Jew, and you had the gall to hire an honest Christian as your servant? You should have been my servant; that would have been right according to the Bible. Hells bells! In me you have offended all of Christianity! (To the others) Ive wondered why on our travels the gentleman wouldnt eat pork, and did hundreds of other peculiar things. (To the traveler) Dont think that Im staying with you any longer. Ill take you to court!
TRAVELER. I dont expect you to be any more thoughtful than the rest of the Christian masses. I wont remind you what miserable circumstances I got you out of in Hamburg. And I wont force you to stay with me. But since Ive been fairly satisfied with your service, and since earlier I had you under a groundless suspicion, then what caused the suspicion is appropriate compensation. (He gives him the snuffbox.) And youll have your wages too. Now go where you please.
CHRISTOPH. Hell, no! So there are Jews who arent Jews. Youre a fine man. Jeez, Ill stay with you! A Christian would have given me a kick in the ribs, not a snuffbox!
BARON. Im delighted with everything I see of you. Come, well make sure that the guilty parties are safely locked up. Oh, how respected the Jews would be if they were all like you!
TRAVELER. And how nice Christians would be if they all had your qualities!
(Baron, young lady and traveler leave.)
LISETTE. So, my friend, you lied to me before?
CHRISTOPH. Yes, and for two reasons. First of all, because I didnt know the truth, and second, because one cant tell too much of the truth for a snuffbox that has to be given back.
LISETTE. And, for that matter, are you also a Jew, however you may hide it?
CHRISTOPH. Youre too curious for a girl! Come now. (He takes her arm and they leave.)