Act Second.
 

[Near a mountain resort. The landscape stretches, in the form of an immense treeless upland, towards a long mountain lake. Beyond the lake rises a range of peaks with blue-white snow in the clefts. In the foreground on the left a purling brook falls in severed streamlets down a steep wall of rock, and thence flows smoothly over the upland until it disappears to the right. Dwarf trees, plants, and stones along the course of the brook. In the foreground on the right a hillock, with a stone bench on the top of it. It is a summer afternoon, towards sunset.

[At some distance over the upland, on the other side of the brook, a troop of children is singing, dancing, and playing. Some are dressed in peasant costume, others in town-made clothes. Their happy laughter is heard, softened by distance, during the following.

[PROFESSOR RUBEK is sitting on the bench, with a plaid over his shoulders, and looking down at the children's play.

[Presently, MAIA comes forward from among some bushes on the upland to the left, well back, and scans the prospect with her hand shading her eyes. She wears a flat tourist cap, a short skirt, kilted up, reaching only midway between ankle and knee, and high, stout lace-boots. She has in her hand a long alpenstock.

MAIA
[At last catches sight of RUBEK and calls.] Hallo!

[She advances over the upland, jumps over the brook, with the aid of her alpenstock, and climbs up the hillock.

MAIA
[Panting.] Oh, how I have been rushing around looking for you, Rubek.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Nods indifferently and asks.] Have you just come from the hotel?

MAIA
Yes, that was the last place I tried--that fly-trap.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looking at her for moment.] I noticed that you were not at the dinner-table.

MAIA
No, we had our dinner in the open air, we two.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
"We two"? What two?

MAIA
Why, I and that horrid bear-killer, of course.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Oh, he.

MAIA
Yes. And first thing to-morrow morning we are going off again.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
After bears?

MAIA
Yes. Off to kill a brown-boy.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Have you found the tracks of any?

MAIA
[With superiority.] You don't suppose that bears are to be found in the naked mountains, do you?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Where, then?

MAIA
Far beneath. On the lower slopes; in the thickest parts of the forest. Places your ordinary town-folk could never get through---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And you two are going down there to-morrow?

MAIA
[Throwing herself down among the heather.] Yes, so we have arranged. --Or perhaps we may start this evening.--If you have no objection, that's to say?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I? Far be it from me to---

MAIA
[Quickly.] Of course Lars goes with us--with the dogs.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I feel no curiosity as to the movements of Mr. Lars and his dogs. [Changing the subject.] Would you not rather sit properly on the seat?

MAIA
[Drowsily.] No, thank you. I'm lying so delightfully in the soft heather.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I can see that you are tired.

MAIA
[Yawning.] I almost think I'm beginning to feel tired.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
You don't notice it till afterwards--when the excitement is over---

MAIA
[In a drowsy tone.] Just so. I will lie and close my eyes.

[A short pause.

MAIA
[With sudden impatience.] Ugh, Rubek--how can you endure to sit there listening to these children's screams! And to watch all the capers they are cutting, too!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
There is something harmonious--almost like music--in their movements, now and then; amid all the clumsiness. And it amuses me to sit and watch for these isolated moments--when they come.

MAIA
[With a somewhat scornful laugh.] Yes, you are always, always an artist.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And I propose to remain one.

MAIA
[Lying on her side, so that her back is turned to him.] There's not a bit of the artist about him.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With attention.] Who is it that's not an artist?

MAIA
[Again in a sleepy tone.] Why, he--the other one, of course.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
The bear-hunter, you mean?

MAIA
Yes. There's not a bit of the artist about him--not the least little bit.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Smiling.] No, I believe there's no doubt about that.

MAIA
[Vehemently, without moving.] And so ugly as he is! [Plucks up a tuft of heather and throws it away.] So ugly, so ugly! Isch!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Is that why you are so ready to set off with him--out into the wilds?

MAIA
[Curtly.] I don't know. [Turning towards him.] You are ugly, too, Rubek.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Have you only just discovered it?

MAIA
No, I have seen it for long.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Shrugging his shoulders.] One doesn't grow younger. One doesn't grow younger, Frau Maia.

MAIA
It's not that sort of ugliness that I mean at all. But there has come to be such an expression of fatigue, of utter weariness, in your eyes --when you deign, once in a while, to cast a glance at me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Have you noticed that?

MAIA
[Nods.] Little by little this evil look has come into your eyes. It seems almost as though you were nursing some dark plot against me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Indeed? [In a friendly but earnest tone.] Come here and sit beside me, Maia; and let us talk a little.

MAIA
[Half rising.] Then will you let me sit upon your knee? As I used to in the early days?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
No, you mustn't--people can see us from the hotel. [Moves a little.] But you can sit here on the bench--at my side.

MAIA
No, thank you; in that case I'd rather lie here, where I am. I can hear you quite well here. [Looks inquiringly at him.] Well, what is it you want to say to me?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Begins slowly.] What do you think was my real reason for agreeing to make this tour?

MAIA
Well--I remember you declared, among other things, that it was going to do me such a tremendous lot of good. But--but---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
But---?

MAIA
But now I don't believe the least little bit that that was the reason---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Then what is your theory about it now?

MAIA
I think now that it was on account of that pale lady.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Madame von Satow---!

MAIA
Yes, she who is always hanging at our heels. Yesterday evening she made her appearance up here too.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
But what in all the world---!

MAIA
Oh, I know you knew her very well indeed--long before you knew me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And had forgotten her, too--long before I knew you.

MAIA
[Sitting upright.] Can you forget so easily, Rubek?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Curtly.] Yes, very easily indeed. [Adds harshly.] When I want to forget.

MAIA
Even a woman who has been a model to you?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
When I have no more use for her---

MAIA
One who has stood to you undressed?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
That means nothing--nothing for us artists. [With a change of tone.] And then--may I venture to ask--how was I to guess that she was in this country?

MAIA
Oh, you might have seen her name in a Visitor's List--in one of the newspapers.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
But I had no idea of the name she now goes by. I had never heard of any Herr von Satow.

MAIA
[Affecting weariness.] Oh well then, I suppose it must have been for some other reason that you were so set upon this journey.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Seriously.] Yes, Maia--it was for another reason. A quite different reason. And that is what we must sooner or later have a clear explanation about.

MAIA
[In a fit of suppressed laughter.] Heavens, how solemn you look!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Suspiciously scrutinising her.] Yes, perhaps a little more solemn than necessary.

MAIA
How so---?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And that is a very good thing for us both.

MAIA
You begin to make me feel curious, Rubek.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Only curious? Not a little bit uneasy.

MAIA
[Shaking her head.] Not in the least.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Good. Then listen.--You said that day down at the Baths that it seemed to you I had become very nervous of late---

MAIA
Yes, and you really have.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And what do you think can be the reason of that?

MAIA
How can I tell---? [Quickly.] Perhaps you have grown weary of this constant companionship with me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Constant--? Why not say "everlasting"?

MAIA
Daily companionship, then. Here have we two solitary people lived down there for four or five mortal years, and scarcely have an hour away from each other.--We two all by ourselves.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With interest.] Well? And then---?

MAIA
[A little oppressed.] You are not a particularly sociable man, Rubek. You like to keep to yourself and think your own thoughts. And of course I can't talk properly to you about your affairs. I know nothing about art and that sort of thing-- [With an impatient gesture.] And care very little either, for that matter!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Well, well; and that's why we generally sit by the fireside, and chat about your affairs.

MAIA
Oh, good gracious--I have no affairs to chat about.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Well, they are trifles, perhaps; but at any rate the time passes for us in that way as well as another, Maia.

MAIA
Yes, you are right. Time passes. It is passing away from you, Rubek. --And I suppose it is really that that makes you so uneasy---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Nods vehemently.] And so restless! [Writhing in his seat.] No, I shall soon not be able to endure this pitiful life any longer.

MAIA
[Rises and stands for a moment looking at him.] If you want to get rid of me, you have only to say so.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Why will you use such phrases? Get rid of you?

MAIA
Yes, if you want to have done with me, please say so right out. And I will go that instant.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With an almost imperceptible smile.] Do you intend that as a threat, Maia?

MAIA
There can be no threat for you in what I said.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Rising.] No, I confess you are right there. [Adds after a pause.] You and I cannot possibly go on living together like this---

MAIA
Well? And then---?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
There is no "then" about it. [With emphasis on his words.] Because we two cannot go on living together alone--it does not necessarily follow that we must part.

MAIA
[Smiles scornfully.] Only draw away from each other a little, you mean?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Shakes his head.] Even that is not necessary.

MAIA
Well then? Come out with what you want to do with me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With some hesitation.] What I now feel so keenly--and so painfully-- that I require, is to have some one about me who really and truly stands close to me---

MAIA
[Interrupts him anxiously.] Don't I do that, Rubek?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Waving her aside.] Not in that sense. What I need is the companionship of another person who can, as it were, complete me-- supply what is wanting in me--be one with me in all my striving.

MAIA
[Slowly.] It's true that things like that are a great deal too hard for me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Oh no, they are not at all in your line, Maia.

MAIA
[With an outburst.] And heaven knows I don't want them to be, either!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I know that very well.--And it was with no idea of finding any such help in my life-work that I married you.

MAIA
[Observing him closely.] I can see in your face that you are thinking of some one else.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Indeed? I have never noticed before that you were a thought-reader. But you can see that, can you?

MAIA
Yes, I can. Oh, I know you so well, so well, Rubek.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Then perhaps you can also see who it is I am thinking of?

MAIA
Yes, indeed I can.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Well? Have the goodness to---?

MAIA
You are thinking of that--that model you once used for-- [Suddenly letting slip the train of thought.] Do you know, the people down at the hotel think she's mad.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Indeed? And pray what do the people down at the hotel think of you and the bear-killer?

MAIA
That has nothing to do with the matter. [Continuing the former train of thought.] But it was this pale lady you were thinking of.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Calmly.] Precisely, of her.--When I had no more use for her--and when, besides, she went away from me--vanished without a word---

MAIA
Then you accepted me as a sort of makeshift, I suppose?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[More unfeelingly.] Something of the sort, to tell the truth, little Maia. For a year or a year and a half I had lived there lonely and brooding, and had put the last touch--the very last touch, to my work. "The Resurrection Day" went out over the world and brought me fame-- and everything else that heart could desire. [With greater warmth.] But I no longer loved my own work. Men's laurels and incense nauseated me, till I could have rushed away in despair and hidden myself in the depths of the woods. [Looking at her.] You, who are a thought-reader --can you guess what then occurred to me?

MAIA
[Lightly.] Yes, it occurred to you to make portrait-busts of gentlemen and ladies.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Nods.] To order, yes. With animals' faces behind the masks. Those I threw in gratis--into the bargain, you understand. [Smiling.] But that was not precisely what I had in my mind.

MAIA
What, then?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Again serious.] It was this, that all the talk about the artist's vocation and the artist's mission, and so forth, began to strike me as being very empty, and hollow, and meaningless at bottom.

MAIA
Then what would you put in its place?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Life, Maia.

MAIA
Life?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Yes, is not life in sunshine and in beauty a hundred times better worth while than to hang about to the end of your days in a raw, damp hole, and wear yourself out in a perpetual struggle with lumps of clay and blocks of stone?

MAIA
[With a little sigh.] Yes, I have always thought so, certainly.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And then I had become rich enough to live in luxury and in indolent, quivering sunshine. I was able to build myself the villa on the Lake of Taunitz, and the palazzo in the capital,--and all the rest of it.

MAIA
[Taking up his tone.] And last but not least, you could afford to treat yourself to me, too. And you gave me leave to share in all your treasures.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Jesting, so as to turn the conversation.] Did I not promise to take you up to a high enough mountain and show you all the glory of the world?

MAIA
[With a gentle expression.] You have perhaps taken me up with you to a high enough mountain, Rubek--but you have not shown me all the glory of the world.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With a laugh of irritation.] How insatiable you are, Maia.! Absolutely insatiable! [With a vehement outburst.] But do you know what is the most hopeless thing of all, Maia? Can you guess that?

MAIA
[With quiet defiance.] Yes, I suppose it is that you have gone and tied yourself to me--for life.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I would not have expressed myself so heartlessly.

MAIA
But you would have meant it just as heartlessly.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
You have no clear idea of the inner workings of an artist's nature.

MAIA
[Smiling and shaking her head.] Good heavens, I haven't even a clear idea of the inner workings of my own nature.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Continuing undisturbed.] I live at such high speed, Maia. We live so, we artists. I, for my part, have lived through a whole lifetime in the few years we two have known each other. I have come to realise that I am not at all adapted for seeking happiness in indolent enjoyment. Life does not shape itself that way for me and those like me. I must go on working--producing one work after another--right up to my dying day. [Forcing himself to continue.] That is why I cannot get on with you any longer, Maia--not with you alone.

MAIA
[Quietly.] Does that mean, in plain language, that you have grown tired of me?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Bursts forth.] Yes, that is what it means! I have grown tired-- intolerably tired and fretted and unstrung--in this life with you! Now you know it. [Controlling himself.] These are hard, ugly words I am using. I know that very well. And you are not at all to blame in this matter;--that I willingly admit. It is simply and solely I myself, who have once more undergone a revolution--[Half to himself]-- and awakening to my real life.

MAIA
[Involuntarily folding her hands.] Why in all the world should we not part then?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looks at her in astonishment.] Should you be willing to?

MAIA
[Shrugging her shoulders.] Oh yes--if there's nothing else for it, then---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Eagerly.] But there is something else for it. There is an alternative---

MAIA
[Holding up her forefinger.] Now you are thinking of the pale lady again!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Yes, to tell the truth, I cannot help constantly thinking of her. Ever since I met her again. [A step nearer her.] For now I will tell you a secret, Maia.

MAIA
Well?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Touching his own breast.] In here, you see--in here I have a little bramah-locked casket. And in that casket all my sculptor's visions are stored up. But when she disappeared and left no trace, the lock of the casket snapped to. And she had the key--and she took it away with her.--You, little Maia, you had no key; so all that the casket contains must lie unused. And the years pass! And I have no means of getting at the treasure.

MAIA
[Trying to repress a subtle smile.] Then get her to open the casket for you again---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Not understanding.] Maia---?

MAIA
--for here she is, you see. And no doubt it's on account of this casket that she has come.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I have not said a single word to her on this subject!

MAIA
[Looks innocently at him.] My dear Rubek--is it worth while to make all this fuss and commotion about so simple a matter?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Do you think this matter is so absolutely simple?

MAIA
Yes, certainly I think so. Do you attach yourself to whoever you most require. [Nods to him.] I shall always manage to find a place for myself.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Where do you mean?

MAIA
[Unconcerned, evasively.] Well--I need only take myself off to the villa, if it should be necessary. But it won't be; for in town--in all that great house of ours--there must surely, with a little good will, be room enough for three.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Uncertainly.] And do you think that would work in the long run?

MAIA
[In a light tone.] Very well, then--if it won't work, it won't. It is no good talking about it.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And what shall we do then, Maia--if it does not work?

MAIA
[Untroubled.] Then we two will simply get out of each other's way-- part entirely. I shall always find something new for myself, somewhere in the world. Something free! Free! Free!--No need to be anxious about that, Professor Rubek! [Suddenly points off to the right.] Look there! There we have her.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Turning.] Where?

MAIA
Out on the plain. Striding--like a marble stature. She is coming this way.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Stands gazing with his hand over his eyes.] Does not she look like the Resurrection incarnate? [To himself.] And her I could displace-- and move into the shade! Remodel her--. Fool that I was!

MAIA
What do you mean by that?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Putting the question aside.] Nothing. Nothing that you would understand.

[IRENE advances from the right over the upland. The children at their play have already caught sight of her and run to meet her. She is now surrounded by them; some appear confident and at ease, others uneasy and timid. She talks low to them and indicates that they are to go down to the hotel; she herself will rest a little beside the brook. The children run down over the slope to the left, half way to the back. IRENE goes up to the wall of rock, and lets the rillets of the cascade flow over her hands, cooling them.

MAIA
[In a low voice.] Go down and speak to her alone, Rubek.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And where will you go in the meantime?

MAIA
[Looking significantly at him.] Henceforth I shall go my own ways.

[She descends form the hillock and leaps over the brook, by aid of her alpenstock. She stops beside IRENE.

MAIA
Professor Rubek is up there, waiting for you, madam.

IRENE
What does he want?

MAIA
He wants you to help him to open a casket that has snapped to.

IRENE
Can I help him in that?

MAIA
He says you are the only person that can.

IRENE
Then I must try.

MAIA
Yes, you really must, madam.

[She goes down by the path to the hotel.

[In a little while PROFESSOR RUBEK comes down to IRENE, but stops with the brook between them.

IRENE
[After a short pause.] She--the other one--said that you had been waiting for me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I have waited for you year after year--without myself knowing it.

IRENE
I could not come to you, Arnold. I was lying down there, sleeping the long, deep, dreamful sleep.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
But now you have awakened, Irene!

IRENE
[Shakes her head.] I have the heavy, deep sleep still in my eyes.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
You shall see that day will dawn and lighten for us both.

IRENE
Do not believe that.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Urgently.] I do believe it! And I know it! Now that I have found you again---

IRENE
Risen from the grave.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Transfigured!

IRENE
Only risen, Arnold. Not transfigured.

[He crosses over to her by means of stepping-stones below the cascade.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Where have you been all day, Irene?

IRENE
[Pointing.] Far, far over there, on the great dead waste---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Turning the conversation.] You have not your--your friend with you to-day, I see.

IRENE
[Smiling.] My friend is keeping a close watch on me, none the less.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Can she?

IRENE
[Glancing furtively around.] You may be sure she can--wherever I may go. She never loses sight of me-- [Whispering.] Until, one fine sunny morning, I shall kill her.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Would you do that?

IRENE
With the utmost delight--if only I could manage it.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Why do you want to?

IRENE
Because she deals in witchcraft. [Mysteriously.] Only think, Arnold-- she has changed herself into my shadow.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Trying to calm her.] Well, well, well--a shadow we must all have.

IRENE
I am my own shadow. [With an outburst.] Do you not understand that!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Sadly.] Yes, yes, Irene, I understand.

[He seats himself on a stone beside the brook. She stands behind him, leaning against the wall of rock.

IRENE
[After a pause.] Why do you sit there turning your eyes away from me?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Softly, shaking his head.] I dare not--I dare not look at you.

IRENE
Why dare you not look at me any more?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
You have a shadow that tortures me. And I have the crushing weight of my conscience.

IRENE
[With a glad cry of deliverance.] At last!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Springs up.] Irene--what is it!

IRENE
[Motioning him off.] Keep still, still, still! [Draws a deep breath and says, as though relieved of a burden.] There! Now they let me go. For this time.--Now we can sit down and talk as we used to--when I was alive.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Oh, if only we could talk as we used to.

IRENE
Sit there, where you were sitting. I will sit here beside you.

[He sits down again. She seats herself on another stone, close to him.

IRENE
[After a short interval of silence.] Now I have come back to you from the uttermost regions, Arnold.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Aye, truly, from an endless journey.

IRENE
Come home to my lord and master---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
To our home;--to our own home, Irene.

IRENE
Have you looked for my coming every single day?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
How dared I look for you?

IRENE
[With a sidelong glance.] No, I suppose you dared not. For you understood nothing.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Was it really not for the sake of some one else that you all of a sudden disappeared from me in that way?

IRENE
Might it not quite well be for your sake, Arnold?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looks doubtfully at her.] I don't understand you---?

IRENE
When I had served you with my soul and with my body--when the statue stood there finished--our child as you called it--then I laid at your feet the most precious sacrifice of all--by effacing myself for all time.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Bows his head.] And laying my life waste.

IRENE
[Suddenly firing up.] It was just that I wanted! Never, never should you create anything again--after you had created that only child of ours.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Was it jealously that moved you, then?

IRENE
[Coldly.] I think it was rather hatred.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Hatred? Hatred for me?

IRENE
[Again vehemently.] Yes, for you--for the artist who had so lightly and carelessly taken a warm-blooded body, a young human life, and worn the soul out of it--because you needed it for a work of art.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And you can say that--you who threw yourself into my work with such saint-like passion and such ardent joy?--that work for which we two met together every morning, as for an act of worship.

IRENE
[Coldly, as before.] I will tell you one thing, Arnold.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Well?

IRENE
I never loved your art, before I met you.--Nor after either.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
But the artist, Irene?

IRENE
The artist I hate.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
The artist in me too?

IRENE
In you most of all. When I unclothed myself and stood for you, then I hated you, Arnold---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Warmly.] That you did not, Irene! That is not true!

IRENE
I hated you, because you could stand there so unmoved---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Laughs.] Unmoved? Do you think so?

IRENE
--at any rate so intolerably self-controlled. And because you were an artist and an artist only--not a man! [Changing to a tone full of warmth and feeling.] But that statue in the wet, living clay, that I loved--as it rose up, a vital human creature, out of those raw, shapeless masses--for that was our creation, our child. Mine and yours.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Sadly.] It was so in spirit and in truth.

IRENE
Let me tell you, Arnold--it is for the sake of this child of ours that I have undertaken this long pilgrimage.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Suddenly alert.] For the statue's---?

IRENE
Call it what you will. I call it our child.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And now you want to see it? Finished? In marble, which you always thought so cold? [Eagerly.] You do not know, perhaps, that it is installed in a great museum somewhere--far out in the world?

IRENE
I have heard a sort of legend about it.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And museums were always a horror to you. You called them grave- vaults---

IRENE
I will make a pilgrimage to the place where my soul and my child's soul lie buried.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Uneasy and alarmed.] You must never see that statue again! Do you hear, Irene! I implore you--! Never, never see it again!

IRENE
Perhaps you think it would mean death to me a second time?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Clenching his hands together.] Oh, I don't know what I think.--But how could I ever imagine that you would fix your mind so immovably on that statue? You, who went away from me--before it was completed.

IRENE
It was completed. That was why I could go away from you--and leave you alone.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Sits with his elbows upon his knees, rocking his head from side to side, with his hands before his eyes.] It was not what it afterwards became.

IRENE
[Quietly but quick as lightning, half-unsheathes a narrow-bladed sharp knife which she carried in her breast, and asks in a hoarse whisper.] Arnold--have you done any evil to our child?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Evasively.] Any evil?--How can I be sure what you would call it?

IRENE
[Breathless.] Tell me at once: what have you done to the child?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I will tell you, if you will sit and listen quietly to what I say.

IRENE
[Hides the knife.] I will listen as quietly as a mother can when she---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Interrupting.] And you must not look at me while I am telling you.

IRENE
[Moves to a stone behind his back.] I will sit here, behind you.-- Now tell me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Takes his hands from before his eyes and gazes straight in front of him. When I had found you, I knew at once how I should make use of you for my life-work.

IRENE
"The Resurrection Day" you called your life-work.--I call it "our child."

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I was young then--with no knowledge of life. The Resurrection, I thought, would be most beautifully and exquisitely figured as a young unsullied woman--with none of our earth-life's experiences--awakening to light and glory without having to put away from her anything ugly and impure.

IRENE
[Quickly.] Yes--and so I stand there now, in our work?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Hesitating.] Not absolutely and entirely so, Irene.

IRENE
[In rising excitement.] Not absolutely--? Do I not stand as I always stood for you?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Without answering.] I learned worldly wisdom in the years that followed, Irene. "The Resurrection Day" became in my mind's eye something more and something--something more complex. The little round plinth on which your figure stood erect and solitary--it no longer afforded room for all the imagery I now wanted to add---

IRENE
[Groped for her knife, but desists.] What imagery did you add then? Tell me!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I imagined that which I saw with my eyes around me in the world. I had to include it--I could not help it, Irene. I expanded the plinth --made it wide and spacious. And on it I placed a segment of the curving, bursting earth. And up from the fissures of the soil there now swarm men and women with dimly-suggested animal-faces. Women and men--as I knew them in real life.

IRENE
[In breathless suspense.] But in the middle of the rout there stands the young woman radiant with the joy of light?--Do I not stand so, Arnold?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Evasively.] Not quite in the middle. I had unfortunately to move that figure a little back. For the sake of the general effect, you understand. Otherwise it would have dominated the whole too much.

IRENE
But the joy in the light still transfigures my face?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Yes, it does, Irene--in a way. A little subdued perhaps--as my altered idea required.

IRENE
[Rising noiselessly.] That design expresses the life you now see, Arnold.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Yes, I suppose it does.

IRENE
And in that design you have shifted me back, a little toned down--to serve as a background-figure--in a group.

[She draws the knife.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Not a background-figure. Let us say, at most, a figure not quite in the foreground--or something of that sort.

IRENE
[Whispers hoarsely.] There you uttered your own doom.

[On the point of striking.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Turns and looks up at her.] Doom?

IRENE
[Hastily hides the knife, and says as though choked with agony.] My whole soul--you and I--we, we, we and our child were in that solitary figure.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Eagerly, taking off his hat and drying the drops of sweat upon his brow.] Yes, but let me tell you, too, how I have placed myself in the group. In front, beside a fountain--as it were here--sits a man weighed down with guilt, who cannot quite free himself from the earth -crust. I call him remorse for a forfeited life. He sits there and dips his fingers in the purling stream--to wash them clean--and he is gnawed and tortured by the thought that never, never will he succeed. Never in all eternity will he attain to freedom and the new life. He will remain for ever prisoned in his hell.

IRENE
[Hardly and coldly.] Poet!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Why poet?

IRENE
Because you are nerveless and sluggish and full of forgiveness for all the sins of your life, in thought and in act. You have killed my soul --so you model yourself in remorse, and self-accusation, and penance-- [Smiling.] --and with that you think your account is cleared.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Defiantly.] I am an artist, Irene. And I take no shame to myself for the frailties that perhaps cling to me. For I was born to be an artist, you see. And, do what I may, I shall never be anything else.

IRENE
[Looks at him with a lurking evil smile, and says gently and softly.] You are a poet, Arnold. [Softly strokes his hair.] You dear, great, middle-aged child,--is it possible that you cannot see that!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Annoyed.] Why do you keep on calling me a poet?

IRENE
[With malign eyes.] Because there is something apologetic in the word, my friend. Something that suggests forgiveness of sins--and spreads a cloak over all frailty. [With a sudden change of tone.] But I was a human being--then! And I, too, had a life to live,--and a human destiny to fulfil. And all that, look you, I let slip--gave it all up in order to make myself your bondwoman.--Oh, it was self-murder--a deadly sin against myself! [Half whispering.] And that sin I can never expiate!

[She seats herself near him beside the brook, keeps close, though unnoticed, watch upon him, and, as though in absence of mind, plucks some flowers form the shrubs around them.

IRENE
[With apparent self-control.] I should have borne children in the world--many children--real children--not such children as are hidden away in grave-vaults. That was my vocation. I ought never to have served you--poet.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Lost in recollection.] Yet those were beautiful days, Irene. Marvellously beautiful days--as I now look back upon them---

IRENE
[Looking at him with a soft expression.] Can you remember a little word that you said--when you had finished--finished with me and with our child? [Nods to him.] Can you remember that little word, Arnold?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looks inquiringly at her.] Did I say a little word then, which you still remember?

IRENE
Yes, you did. Can you not recall it?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Shaking his head.] No, I can't say that I do. Not at the present moment, at any rate.

IRENE
You took both my hands and pressed them warmly. And I stood there in breathless expectation. And then you said: "So now, Irene, I thank you from my heart. This," you said, "has been a priceless episode for me."

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looks doubtfully at her.] Did I say "episode"? It is not a word I am in the habit of using.

IRENE
You said "episode."

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With assumed cheerfulness.] Well, well--after all, it was in reality an episode.

IRENE
[Curtly.] At that word I left you.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
You take everything so painfully to heart, Irene.

IRENE
[Drawing her hand over her forehead.] Perhaps you are right. Let us shake off all the hard things that go to the heart. [Plucks off the leaves of a mountain rose and strews them on the brook.] Look there, Arnold. There are our birds swimming.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
What birds are they?

IRENE
Can you not see? Of course they are flamingoes. Are they not rose-red?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Flamingoes do not swim. They only wade.

IRENE
Then they are not flamingoes. They are sea-gulls.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
They may be sea-gulls with red bills, yes. [Plucks broad green leaves and throws them into the brook.] Now I send out my ships after them.

IRENE
But there must be no harpoon-men on board.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
No, there shall be no harpoon-men. [Smiles to her.] Can you remember the summer when we used to sit like this outside the little peasant hut on the Lake of Taunitz?

IRENE
[Nods.] On Saturday evenings, yes,--when we had finished our week's work---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
--And taken the train out to the lake--to stay there over Sunday---

IRENE
[With an evil gleam of hatred in her eyes.] It was an episode, Arnold.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[As if not hearing.] Then, too, you used to set birds swimming in the brook. They were water-lilies which you---

IRENE
They were white swans.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
I meant swans, yes. And I remember that I fastened a great furry leaf to one of the swans. It looked like a burdock-leaf---

IRENE
And then it turned into Lohengrin's boat--with the swan yoked to it.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
How fond you were of that game, Irene.

IRENE
We played it over and over again.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Every single Saturday, I believe,--all the summer through.

IRENE
You said I was the swan that drew your boat.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Did I say so? Yes, I daresay I did. [Absorbed in the game.] Just see how the sea-gulls are swimming down the stream!

IRENE
[Laughing.] And all your ships have run ashore.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Throwing more leaves into the brook.] I have ships enough in reserve. [Follows the leaves with his eyes, throws more into the brook, and says after a pause.] Irene,--I have bought the little peasant hut beside the Lake of Taunitz.

IRENE
Have you bought it? You often said you would, if you could afford it.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
The day came when I could afford it easily enough; and so I bought it.

IRENE
[With a sidelong look at him.] Then do you live out there now--in our old house?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
No, I have had it pulled down long ago. And I have built myself a great, handsome, comfortable villa on the site--with a park around it. It is there that we-- [Stops and corrects himself.] --there that I usually live during the summer.

IRENE
[Mastering herself.] So you and--and the other one live out there now?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[With a touch of defiance.] Yes. When my wife and I are not travelling--as we are this year.

IRENE
[Looking far before her.] Life was beautiful, beautiful by the Lake of Taunitz.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[As though looking back into himself.] And yet, Irene---

IRENE
[Completing his thought.] --yet we two let slip all that life and its beauty.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Softly, urgently.] Does repentance come too late, now?

IRENE
[Does not answer, but sits silent for a moment; then she points over the upland.] Look there, Arnold,--now the sun is going down behind the peaks. See what a red glow the level rays cast over all the heathery knolls out yonder.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looks where she is pointing.] It is long since I have seen a sunset in the mountains.

IRENE
Or a sunrise?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
A sunrise I don't think I have ever seen.

IRENE
[Smiles as though lost in recollection.] I once saw a marvellously lovely sunrise.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Did you? Where was that?

IRENE
High, high up on a dizzy mountain-top.--You beguiled me up there by promising that I should see all the glory of the world if only I---

[She stops suddenly.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
If only you--? Well?

IRENE
I did as you told me--went with you up to the heights. And there I fell upon my knees and worshipped you, and served you. [Is silent for a moment; then says softly.] Then I saw the sunrise.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Turning at him with a scornful smile.] With you--and the other woman?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Urgently.] With me--as in our days of creation. You could open all that is locked up in me. Can you not find it in your heart, Irene?

IRENE
[Shaking her head.] I have no longer the key to you, Arnold.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
You have the key! You and you alone possess it! [Beseechingly.] Help me--that I may be able to live my life over again!

IRENE
[Immovable as before.] Empty dreams! Idle--dead dreams. For the life you and I led there is no resurrection.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Curtly, breaking off.] Then let us go on playing.

IRENE
Yes, playing, playing--only playing!

[They sit and strew leaves and petals over the brook, where they float and sail away.

[Up the slope to the left at the back come ULFHEIM and MAIA in hunting costume. After them comes the SERVANT with the leash of dogs, with which he goes out to the right.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Catching sight of them.] Ah! There is little Maia, going out with the bear-hunter.

IRENE
Your lady, yes.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Or the other's.

MAIA
[Looks around as she is crossing the upland, sees the two sitting by the brook, and calls out.] Good-night, Professor! Dream of me. Now I am going off on my adventures!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Calls back to her.] What sort of an adventure is this to be?

MAIA
[Approaching.] I am going to let life take the place of all the rest.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Mockingly.] Aha! So you too are going to do that, little Maia?

MAIA
Yes. And I've made a verse about it, and this is how it goes:

[Sings triumphantly.]

I am free! I am free! I am free!
No more life in the prison for me!
I am free as a bird! I am free!
For I believe I have awakened now--at last.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
It almost seems so.

MAIA
[Drawing a deep breath.] Oh--how divinely light one feels on waking!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Good-night, Frau Maia--and good luck to---

ULFHEIM
[Calls out, interposing.] Hush, hush!--for the devil's sake let's have none of your wizard wishes. Don't you see that we are going out to shoot---

PROFESSOR RUBEK
What will you bring me home from the hunting, Maia?

MAIA
You shall have a bird of prey to model. I shall wing one for you.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Laughs mockingly and bitterly.] Yes, to wing things--without knowing what you are doing--that has long been quite in your way.

MAIA
[Tossing her head.] Oh, just let me take care of myself for the future, and I wish you then--! [Nods and laughs roguishly.] Good-bye--and a good, peaceful summer night on the upland!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Jestingly.] Thanks! And all the ill-luck in the world over you and your hunting!

ULFHEIM
[Roaring with laughter.] There now, that is a wish worth having!

MAIA
[Laughing.] Thanks, thanks, thanks, Professor!

[They have both crossed the visible portion of the upland, and go out through the bushes to the right.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[After a short pause.] A summer night on the upland! Yes, that would have been life!

IRENE
[Suddenly, with a wild expression in her eyes.] Will you spend a summer night on the upland--with me?

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Stretching his arms wide.] Yes, yes,--come!

IRENE
My adored lord and master!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
Oh, Irene!

IRENE
[Hoarsely, smiling and groping in her breast.] It will be only an episode-- [Quickly, whispering.] Hush!--do not look round, Arnold!

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Also in a low voice.] What is it?

IRENE
A face that is staring at me.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Turns involuntarily.] Where! [With a start.] Ah---!

[The SISTER OF MERCY's head is partly visible among the bushes beside the descent to the left. Her eyes are immovably fixed on IRENE.

IRENE
[Rises and says softly.] We must part then. No, you must remain sitting. Do you hear? You must not go with me. [Bends over him and whispers.] Till we meet again--to-night--on the upland.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
And you will come, Irene?

IRENE
Yes, surely I will come. Wait for me here.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Repeats dreamily.] Summer night on the upland. With you. With you. [His eyes meet hers.] Oh, Irene--that might have been our life.--And that we have forfeited--we two.

IRENE
We see the irretrievable only when--

[Breaks off.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Looks inquiringly at her.] When---?

IRENE
When we dead awaken.

PROFESSOR RUBEK
[Shakes his head mournfully.] What do we really see then?

IRENE
We see that we have never lived.

[She goes towards the slope and descends.

[The SISTER OF MERCY makes way for her and follows her. PROFESSOR RUBEK remains sitting motionless beside the brook.

MAIA
[Is heard singing triumphantly among the hills.]

I am free! I am free! I am free!
No more life in the prison for me!
I am free as a bird! I am free!