[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
[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.
[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.
[Panting.] Oh, how I have been rushing around looking for you, Rubek.
[Nods indifferently and asks.] Have you just come from the hotel?
Yes, that was the last place I tried--that fly-trap.
[Looking at her for moment.] I noticed that you were not at the
No, we had our dinner in the open air, we two.
[Yawning.] I almost think I'm beginning to feel tired.
You don't notice it till afterwards--when the excitement is over---
[In a drowsy tone.] Just so. I will lie and close my eyes.
[A short pause.
[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!
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.
[With a somewhat scornful laugh.] Yes, you are always, always an
[Shrugging his shoulders.] One doesn't grow younger. One doesn't
grow younger, Frau 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.
And what do you think can be the reason of that?
How can I tell---? [Quickly.] Perhaps you have grown weary of this
constant companionship with me.
Constant--? Why not say "everlasting"?
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.
[With interest.] Well? And then---?
[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!
Well, well; and that's why we generally sit by the fireside, and chat
about your affairs.
Oh, good gracious--I have no affairs to chat about.
Well, they are trifles, perhaps; but at any rate the time passes for
us in that way as well as another, 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---
[Nods vehemently.] And so restless! [Writhing in his seat.] No, I
shall soon not be able to endure this pitiful life any longer.
[Rises and stands for a moment looking at him.] If you want to get
rid of me, you have only to say so.
Why will you use such phrases? Get rid of you?
Yes, if you want to have done with me, please say so right out. And I
will go that instant.
[With an almost imperceptible smile.] Do you intend that as a threat,
There can be no threat for you in what I said.
[Rising.] No, I confess you are right there. [Adds after a pause.]
You and I cannot possibly go on living together like this---
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.
[Smiles scornfully.] Only draw away from each other a little, you
[Shakes his head.] Even that is not necessary.
Well then? Come out with what you want to do with me.
[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---
[Interrupts him anxiously.] Don't I do that, 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.
[Slowly.] It's true that things like that are a great deal too hard
Oh no, they are not at all in your line, Maia.
[With an outburst.] And heaven knows I don't want them to be, either!
I know that very well.--And it was with no idea of finding any such
help in my life-work that I married you.
[Observing him closely.] I can see in your face that you are thinking
of some one else.
Indeed? I have never noticed before that you were a thought-reader.
But you can see that, can you?
Yes, I can. Oh, I know you so well, so well, Rubek.
Then perhaps you can also see who it is I am thinking of?
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.
Indeed? And pray what do the people down at the hotel think of you
and the bear-killer?
That has nothing to do with the matter. [Continuing the former train
of thought.] But it was this pale lady you were thinking of.
[Calmly.] Precisely, of her.--When I had no more use for her--and
when, besides, she went away from me--vanished without a word---
Then you accepted me as a sort of makeshift, I suppose?
[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?
[Lightly.] Yes, it occurred to you to make portrait-busts of gentlemen
[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.
[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.
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?
[With a little sigh.] Yes, I have always thought so, certainly.
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.
[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
[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
[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.
[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?
[With quiet defiance.] Yes, I suppose it is that you have gone and
tied yourself to me--for life.
I would not have expressed myself so heartlessly.
But you would have meant it just as heartlessly.
You have no clear idea of the inner workings of an artist's nature.
[Smiling and shaking her head.] Good heavens, I haven't even a clear
idea of the inner workings of my own nature.
[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.
[Quietly.] Does that mean, in plain language, that you have grown
tired of me?
[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.
[Involuntarily folding her hands.] Why in all the world should we not
[Looks at her in astonishment.] Should you be willing to?
[Shrugging her shoulders.] Oh yes--if there's nothing else for it,
[Eagerly.] But there is something else for it. There is an
[Holding up her forefinger.] Now you are thinking of the pale lady
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.
[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.
[Trying to repress a subtle smile.] Then get her to open the casket
for you again---
[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.
[Uncertainly.] And do you think that would work in the long run?
[In a light tone.] Very well, then--if it won't work, it won't. It
is no good talking about it.
And what shall we do then, Maia--if it does not work?
[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.
Out on the plain. Striding--like a marble stature. She is coming this
[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!
[Putting the question aside.] Nothing. Nothing that you would
[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.
[In a low voice.] Go down and speak to her alone, Rubek.
And where will you go in the meantime?
[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.
Professor Rubek is up there, waiting for you, madam.
[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.
Oh, if only we could talk as we used to.
Sit there, where you were sitting. I will sit here beside you.
[He sits down again. She seats herself on another stone, close
[After a short interval of silence.] Now I have come back to you from
the uttermost regions, Arnold.
Aye, truly, from an endless journey.
[With a sidelong glance.] No, I suppose you dared not. For you
Was it really not for the sake of some one else that you all of a
sudden disappeared from me in that way?
Might it not quite well be for your sake, Arnold?
[Looks doubtfully at her.] I don't understand you---?
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
[Bows his head.] And laying my life waste.
[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.
Was it jealously that moved you, then?
[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.
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.
[Coldly, as before.] I will tell you one thing, Arnold.
In you most of all. When I unclothed myself and stood for you, then I
hated you, Arnold---
[Warmly.] That you did not, Irene! That is not true!
I hated you, because you could stand there so unmoved---
[Laughs.] Unmoved? Do you think so?
--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
[Sadly.] It was so in spirit and in truth.
Let me tell you, Arnold--it is for the sake of this child of ours
that I have undertaken this long pilgrimage.
[Suddenly alert.] For the statue's---?
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?
And museums were always a horror to you. You called them grave-
I will make a pilgrimage to the place where my soul and my child's
soul lie buried.
[Uneasy and alarmed.] You must never see that statue again! Do you
hear, Irene! I implore you--! Never, never see it again!
Perhaps you think it would mean death to me a second time?
[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.
It was completed. That was why I could go away from you--and leave
[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
[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?
[Evasively.] Any evil?--How can I be sure what you would call it?
[Breathless.] Tell me at once: what have you done to the child?
I will tell you, if you will sit and listen quietly to what I say.
[Hides the knife.] I will listen as quietly as a mother can when she---
[Interrupting.] And you must not look at me while I am telling you.
[Moves to a stone behind his back.] I will sit here, behind you.--
Now tell me.
[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.
"The Resurrection Day" you called your life-work.--I call it "our
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
[Quickly.] Yes--and so I stand there now, in our work?
[Hesitating.] Not absolutely and entirely so, Irene.
[In rising excitement.] Not absolutely--? Do I not stand as I always
stood for you?
[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---
[Groped for her knife, but desists.] What imagery did you add then?
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.
[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,
[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.
But the joy in the light still transfigures my face?
Yes, it does, Irene--in a way. A little subdued perhaps--as my altered
[Rising noiselessly.] That design expresses the life you now see,
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.
Not a background-figure. Let us say, at most, a figure not quite in
the foreground--or something of that sort.
[Whispers hoarsely.] There you uttered your own doom.
[On the point of striking.
[Turns and looks up at her.] Doom?
[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
[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.
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.
[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.
[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!
[Annoyed.] Why do you keep on calling me a poet?
[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
[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.
[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
[Lost in recollection.] Yet those were beautiful days, Irene.
Marvellously beautiful days--as I now look back upon them---
[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?
[Looks inquiringly at her.] Did I say a little word then, which you
[Shaking his head.] No, I can't say that I do. Not at the present
moment, at any rate.
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
[Looks doubtfully at her.] Did I say "episode"? It is not a word I
am in the habit of using.
You take everything so painfully to heart, 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.
Every single Saturday, I believe,--all the summer through.
You said I was the swan that drew your boat.
Did I say so? Yes, I daresay I did. [Absorbed in the game.] Just
see how the sea-gulls are swimming down the stream!
[Laughing.] And all your ships have run ashore.
[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.
Have you bought it? You often said you would, if you could afford it.
The day came when I could afford it easily enough; and so I bought it.
[With a sidelong look at him.] Then do you live out there now--in
our old house?
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.
[Mastering herself.] So you and--and the other one live out there now?
[With a touch of defiance.] Yes. When my wife and I are not
travelling--as we are this year.
[Looking far before her.] Life was beautiful, beautiful by the Lake
[As though looking back into himself.] And yet, Irene---
[Completing his thought.] --yet we two let slip all that life and
[Softly, urgently.] Does repentance come too late, now?
[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.
[Looks where she is pointing.] It is long since I have seen a sunset
in the mountains.