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    Act IV

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    Chapter 4
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    [The scene shows a spacious room, fitted with luxurious rusticity. To the right of centre are a couple of broad windows, leading to a veranda. In the corner, right is a table, with a telephone. In the centre of the room is a large table, with a lamp and books, and a leather arm-chair at each side. To the left of centre is a spacious stone fireplace, having within it a trap door opening downward. At the left a piano with a violin upon it. There are exposed oak beams; antlers, rifles, snowshoes, etc., upon the walls. Entrances right and left.]

    [At rise: CALKINS, standing by the desk, arranging some papers.]

    CALKINS. [As 'phone rings.] Hello! Yes, this is the Isman camp. Prince Hagen is staying here. This is his secretary speaking. No, Prince Hagen does not receive telephone calls. No, not under any circumstances whatever. It doesn't make any difference. If the President of the United States has anything to say to Prince Hagen, let him communicate with Mr. Isman at his New York office, and the message will reach him. I am sorry . . . those are my instructions. Good-bye. [To HICKS, who enters with telegram.] Hicks, for the future, Prince Hagen wishes all messages for him to be taken to my office. That applies to letters, telegrams . . . everything.

    HICKS. Very good, sir. [Exit.]

    CAL. [Opening a telegram.] More appeals for mercy.

    HAGEN. [Enters from veranda, wearing white flannels, cool and alert.] Well, Calkins?

    CAL. Nothing important, sir.

    HAGEN. The market continues to fall?

    CAL. Copper is off five points, sir.

    HAGEN. Ah !

    CAL. The President of the United States tried to get you on the 'phone just now.

    HAGEN. Humph! Anything else?

    CAL. There has been another mob on Fifth Avenue this morning. They seem to be threatening your palace.

    HAGEN. I see. You wrote to the mayor, as I told you?

    CAL. Yes, sir.

    HAGEN. Well, you'd best put in another hundred guards. And they're to be instructed to shoot.

    CAL. Yes, sir.

    HAGEN. Let them be men we can depend on . . . I don't want any mistake about it. I don't care about the building, but I mean to make a test of it.

    CAL. I'll see to it, sir.

    HAGEN. Anything else?

    CAL. A message from a delegation from the National Unemployment Conference. They are to call tomorrow morning.

    HAGEN. Ah, yes. Make a note, please . . . I sympathize with their purpose, and contribute half a million. [To GERALD, who enters, left.] Hello, Gerald . . . how are you? Make yourself at home. [To CALKINS.] I attribute the present desperate situation to the anarchical struggles of rival financial interests. I am assuming control, and straightening out the tangle as rapidly as I can. The worst of the crisis is over . . . the opposition is capitulating, and I expect soon to order a general resumption of industry. Prepare me an address of five hundred words . . . sharp and snappy. Then see the head of the delegation, and have it understood that the affair is not to occupy more than fifteen minutes.

    CAL. Very good, sir.

    HAGEN. And stir up our Press Bureau. We must have strong, conservative editorials this week . . . It's the crucial period. Our institutions are at stake . . . the national honor is imperilled . . . order must be preserved at any hazard . . . all that sort of thing.

    CAL. Yes, sir . . . I understand.

    HAGEN. Very good. That will be all.

    CAL. Yes, sir.

    [Exit, right.]

    GER. You're putting the screws on, are you?

    HAGEN. Humph! Yes. It's funny to hear these financial men . . . their one idea in life has been to dominate . . . and now they cry out against tyranny!

    GER. I can imagine it.

    HAGEN. Here's Plimpton, making speeches about American democracy! These fellows have got so used to making pretenses that they actually deceive themselves.

    GER. I've noticed that you make a few yourself now.

    HAGEN. Yes . . . don't I do it well? [Thoughtfully.] You know, Gerald, pretenses are the greatest device that your civilization had to teach me.

    GER. Indeed?

    HAGEN. We never made any pretenses in Nibelheim; and when I first met you, your talk about virtue and morality and self-sacrifice was simply incomprehensible to me. It seemed something quite apart from life. But now I've come to perceive that this is what makes possible the system under which you live.

    GER. Explain yourself.

    HAGEN. Here is this civilization . . . simply appalling in its vastness. The countless millions of your people, the wealth you have piled up . . . it seems like a huge bubble that may burst any minute. And the one device by which it is all kept together . . . is pretense!

    GER. Why do you think that?

    HAGEN. Life, Gerald, is the survival of the strong. I care not if it be in a jungle or in a city, it is the warfare of each against all. But in the former case it's brute force, and in the latter it's power of mind. And don't you see that the ingenious device which makes the animal of the slums the docile slave of the man who can outwit him . . . is this Morality . . . this absolutely sublimest invention, this most daring conception that ever flashed across the mind of man?

    GER. Oh, I see.

    HAGEN. I used to wonder at it down there on the Bowery. The poor are a thousand to your one, and the best that is might be theirs, if they chose to take it; but there is Morality! They call it their virtue. And so the rich man may have his vices in peace. By heaven, if that is not a wondrous achievement, I have not seen one!

    GER. You believe this morality was invented by the rich.

    HAGEN. I don't know. It seems to be a congenital disease.

    GER. Some people believe it was implanted in man by God.

    HAGEN. [Shrugging his shoulders.] Perhaps. Or by a devil. Men might have lived in holes, like woodchucks, and been fat and happy; but now they have Morality, and toil and die for some other man's delight.

    CAL. [Enters, right.] Are you at leisure, sir?

    HAGEN. Why?

    CAL. Mr. Isman wants you on the 'phone.

    HAGEN. Oh! All right . . . [Goes to 'phone.]

    GER. [Rises.] Perhaps I . . ,

    HAGEN. No, that's all right. [Sits at 'phone.] Hello! Is that Isman? How are you? [To CALKINS.] Calkins!

    CAL. Yes, sir.

    [Sits and takes notes.]

    HAGEN. How about Intercontinental? [Imperiously.] But I can! I said the stock was to go to sixty-four, and I want it to go. I don't care what it costs, Isman . . . let it go in the morning . . . and don't ever let this happen again. I have sent word you are to have another hundred million by nine-thirty. Will that do? Don't take chances. Oh, Rutherford! Tell Rutherford my terms are that the directors of the Fidelity Life Insurance Company are to resign, and he is to go to China for six months. Yes. I mean that literally . . . Plimpton? What do I want with his banks . . . I've got my own money . . . And, oh, by the way, Isman . . . call up the White House again, and tell the President that the regulars will be needed in New York . . . . No, I understand you . . . I think I've fixed matters up at this end. I've got two hundred guards up here, and they're picked men . . . they'll shoot if there's need. I'm not talking about it, naturally . . . but I'm taking care of myself. You keep your nerve, Isman. It'll all be over in a month or two more . . . these fellows are used to having their own way, and they make a fuss. And, by the way, as to the newspapers . . . we'll turn out that paper trust crowd, and stop selling paper to the ones that are making trouble. That'll put an end to it, I fancy. You had best get after it yourself, and have it attended to promptly. You might think of little things like that yourself, Isman . . . no, you're all right; only you haven't got enough imagination. But just get onto this job, and let me hear that it's done before morn- ing. Good-bye. [Hangs up receiver.] Humph! [To GERALD.] They've about got your father's nerve.

    GER. I can't say that I blame him very much. [In somber thought.] Really, you know, Prince Hagen, this can't go on. What's to be the end of it?

    HAGEN. [Laughing.] Oh, come, come, Gerald . . . don't bother your head with things like that! You're a poet . . . you must keep your imagination free from such dismal matters . . . . See, I've got a job for you. [Pointing to books on table.] Do you notice the titles?

    GER. [Has been handling the books absent-mindedly; now looks at titles.] The Saints' Everlasting Rest. Pilgrim's Progress. The Life of St. Ignatius. . . . What does that mean?

    HAGEN. I'm studying up on religion. I want to know the language.

    GER. I See!

    HAGEN. But I don't seem to get hold of it very well. I think it's the job for you.

    GER. How do you mean?

    HAGEN. I'm getting ready to introduce Morality into Nibelheim.

    GER. What?

    HAGEN. [Playfully.] You remember you talked to me about it a long time ago. And now I've come to your way of thinking. Suppose I gave you a chance to civilize the place, to teach those wretched creatures to love beauty and virtue?

    GER. It would depend upon what your motive was in inviting me.

    HAGEN. My Motive? What has that to do with it? Virtue is virtue, is it not? . . . No matter what I think about it?

    GER. Yes.

    HAGEN. And virtue is its own reward?

    GER. Perhaps so.

    HAGEN. Let us grant that the consequences of educating and elevating the Nibelungs . . . of teaching them to love righteousness . . . would be that they were deprived of all their gold, and forced to labor at getting more for a wicked capitalist like me. Would it not still be right to teach them?

    GER. It might, perhaps.

    HAGEN. Then you will try it?

    GER. No . . . I'm afraid not.

    HAGEN. Why not?

    GER. [Gravely.] Well . . . for one thing . . . I have weighty reasons for doubting the perfectibility of the Nibelungs.

    HAGEN. [Gazes at him; then shakes with laughter.] Really, Gerald, that is the one clever thing I've heard you say !

    GER. [Laughing.] Thank you!

    HAGEN. [Rises and looks at watch.] Your mother was coming down. Ah ! Mrs. Isman !

    MRS. IS. [Enters, left.] Good afternoon, Prince Hagen.

    HAGEN. And how go things?

    MRS. IS. I've just had a telegram from my brother. He says that the Archbishop of Canterbury never goes abroad, and was shocked at the suggestion; but he thinks two million might fetch him.

    HAGEN. Very well . . . offer it.

    MRS. IS. Do you really think it's worth that?

    HAGEN. My dear lady, it is worth anything if it will make you happy and add to the eclat of the wedding. There's nothing too good for Estelle.

    MRS. IS. Ah, what a wonderful man you are. [Eyeing him.] I was wondering how rose pink would go with your complexion.

    HAGEN. Dear me! Am I to wear rose pink?

    MRS. IS. No, but I'm planning the decoration for the wedding breakfast . . . . And I'm puzzled about the flowers. I'm weary of orchids and la France roses . . . Mrs. Bagley-Willis had her ball room swamped with them last week.

    HAGEN. We must certainly not imitate Mrs. Bagley-Willis.

    MRS. IS. [Complacently.] I fancy she's pretty nearly at the end of her rope. My maid tells me she couldn't pay her grocer's bill till she got that million from you!

    HAGEN. Ha, ha, ha!

    MRS. IS. I wish you'd come with me for a moment . . . I have some designs for the breakfast menu . . .

    HAGEN. Delighted, I'm sure. [They go off, left.]

    GER. Oh, my God!

    EST. [Enters in a beautiful afternoon gown, and carrying an armful of roses; she is nervous and preoccupied.] Ah! Gerald!

    GER. Estelle. [He watches her in silence; she arranges flowers.]

    EST. How goes the poem, Gerald?

    GER. The poem! Who could think of a poem at a time like this? [Advancing toward her.] Estelle! I can bear it no longer!

    EST. What?

    GER. This crime! I tell you it's a crime you're committing!

    EST. Oh, Gerald! Don't begin that again. You know it's too late. And it tears me to pieces!

    GER. I can't help it. I must say it!

    EST. [Hurrying toward him.] Brother ! You must not say another word to me! I tell you you must not . . . I can't bear it!

    GER. Estelle . . .

    EST. No, I say . . . no! I've given my word! My honor is pledged, and it's too late to turn back. I have permitted father to incur obligations before all the world

    GER. But, Estelle, you don't know. If you understood all ...all...

    EST. [With sudden intensity.] Gerald! I know what you mean! I have felt it! You know more about Prince Hagen than you have told me. There is some secret- something strange. [She stares at him wildly.] I don't want to know it! Gerald . . . don't you understand? We are in that man's hands! We are at his mercy! Don't you know that he would never give me up? He would follow me to the end of the earth! He would wreck the whole world to get me! I am in a cage with a wild beast!

    [They stare at each other.]

    GER. [In sudden excitement.] Estelle!

    EST. What?

    GER. Can it be that you love this man?

    EST. [Startled.] I don't know! How can I tell? He terrifies me. He fascinates me. I don't know what to make of him. And I don't dare to think. [Wildly.] And what difference does it make? I have promised to marry him!

    [MRS. ISMAN enters, left, and listens.]

    EST. And I must keep my word! You must not try to dissuade me . . .

    MRS. IS. Estelle!

    EST. Mother!

    MRS. IS. Has Gerald been tormenting you again? My child, my child . . . I implore you, don't let that madness take hold of you! Think of our position. [Attempts to embrace her.] I know how it is . . . I went through with it myself. We women all have to go through with it. I did not care for your father . . . it nearly broke my heart. I was madly in love at the time . . . truly I was! But think what will become of us . . .

    EST. [Vehemently, pushing her away.] Mother! I forbid you to speak another word to me! I will not bear it! I will keep my bargain. I will do what I have said I will do. But I will not have you talk to me about it . . . Do you understand me?

    MRS. IS. My dear!

    EST. Please go! Both of you! I wish to be alone!

    MRS. IS. [In great agitation.] Oh, dear me! dear me!

    [Exit, left.]

    GER. Good-bye!

    [Exit, right; ESTELLE recovers herself by an effort; stands by table in thought. Twilight has begun to gather.]

    HAGEN. [Enters by veranda.] Ah ! Estelle! [Comes toward her.] My beautiful! [Makes to embrace her.] Not yet?

    EST. [Faintly.] Prince Hagen, I told you . . .

    HAGEN. I know, I know! But how much longer? I love you! The sight of you is fire in my veins. Have I not been patient? The time is very short . . . when will you let me . . .


    EST. [Gasping.] Give me . . . give me till tomorrow!

    HAGEN. [Gripping his hands.] To-morrow! Very well! [Turns to table.] Ah, flowers! Do you like the new poppies?

    EST. They are exquisite!

    HAGEN. [Sits in chair.] Well, we've had a busy day today.

    EST. Yes. You must be tired.

    HAGEN. In your house? No!

    EST. Rest, even so. [Goes to piano.] I will play for you. [Sits, and takes Rheingold score.] One of Gerald's scores.

    [Plays a little, then sounds the Nibelung theme. PRINCE HAGEN starts. She repeats it.]

    HAGEN. No . . . no!

    EST. Why-what's the matter?

    HAGEN. That music! What is it?

    EST. It's some of the Nibelung music. Gerald had it here.

    HAGEN. Don't play it! [Hesitating.] Music jars on me now . . . I've too much on my mind.

    EST. [Rising.] Oh . . . very well. It is time for tea, anyway. Have you talked with father today?

    HAGEN. Three times. He is in the thick of the fight. He plays the game well.

    EST. He has played it a long time.

    HAGEN. Yes. ['Phone rings.] Ah! What is that? [Takes receiver.] Hello! Yes . . . oh, Isman ! I see' More trouble in Fifth Avenue, hey? Well, are the regulars there? Why don't they fire? Women and children in front! Do they expect to accomplish anything by that? No, don't call me up about matters like that, Isman. The orders have been given. No . . . not an inch! Let the orders be carried out. That is all. Good-bye. Hangs up receiver.

    EST. [Has been listening in terror.] Prince Hagen!

    HAGEN. Well?

    EST. What does that mean?

    HAGEN. It means that the slums are pouring into Fifth Avenue.

    EST. [A pause.] What do they want?

    HAGEN. Apparently they want to burn my palace.

    EST. And the orders . . . what are the orders?

    HAGEN. The orders are to shoot, and to shoot straight.

    EST. Is it for me that you are doing this?

    HAGEN. How do you mean?

    EST. You told me you brought all the world and laid it at my feet. Is this part of the process?

    HAGEN. Yes, this is part.

    EST. [Stares at him intently; whispers.] How do you do it?

    HAGEN. What?

    EST. What is the secret of your power? They are millions, and you are only one . . . yet you have them bound! Is it some spell that you have woven? [A pause; HAGEN stares at her. She goes on, with growing intensity and excitement.] They are afraid of your gold! Afraid of your gold! All the world is afraid of it! It is nothing -it is a dream . . . it is a nightmare! If they would defy you . . . if they would open their eyes . . . it would go as all nightmares go! But you have made them believe in it! They cower and cringe before it! They toil and slave for it! They take up arms and murder their brothers for it ! They sell their minds and their souls for it! And all because no one dares to defy you! No one! No one! [In a sudden transport of passion.] I defy you! [PRINCE HAGEN starts; she gazes at him wildly.] I will not marry you! I will not sell myself to you! Not for any price that you can offer . . . not for any threat that you can make! Not in order that my mother may plan wedding breakfasts and triumph over Mrs. Bagley-Willis! Not in order that my father may rule in Wall Street and command the slaughter of women and children! Nor yet for the fear of anything that you can do!

    HAGEN. [In a low voice.] Have you any idea what I will do?

    EST. [Desperately.] I know what you mean . . . you have me at your mercy! You have your guards - I am in a trap! And you mean force . . . I have felt it in all your actions . . . behind all your words. Very well! There is a way of escape, even from that; and I will take it! You can compel me to kill myself; but you can never compel me to marry you! Not with all the power you can summon . . . not with all the wealth of the world! Do you understand me? [They stare at each other.] I have heard you talk with my brother, and I know what are your ideas. You came to our civilization, and tried it, and found it a lie. Virtue and honor . . . justice and mercy . . . all these things were pretenses . . . snares for the unwary. There was no one you could not frighten with your gold! That is your creed, and so far it has served you . . . but no farther! There is one thing in the world you cannot get . . . one thing that is beyond the reach of all your cunning! And that is a woman's soul. [With a gesture of exultant triumph.] You cannot buy me!

    HAGEN. Estelle!

    EST. Go!

    HAGEN. [Stretching out his arms to her.] I love you!

    EST. You love me! The slave driver . . . with his golden whip!

    HAGEN. Even so . . . I love you.

    EST. What do you know of love? What does the word mean to you? Before love must come justice and honor, with it come mercy and self- sacrifice . . . all things that you deride and trample on. What have you to do with love?

    HAGEN. [With intensity.] I love you! More than anything else in all the world . . . I love you !

    EST. [Stares at him.] More than your power?

    HAGEN. Estelle! Listen to me! You do not know what my life has been! But I can say this for myself . . . I have sought the best that I know. I have sought Reality. [A pause.] I seek your love! I seek those things which you have, and which I have not. [Fiercely.] Do you think that I have not felt the difference?

    EST. [In a startled whisper.] No!

    HAGEN. That which you have, and which I have not, has become all the world to me! I love you . . . I cannot live without you. I will follow you wherever you command. Only teach me how to win your love.

    EST. I cannot make terms with you. I will not hear of love from you while you have force in your hands.

    HAGEN. I will leave your home. I will set you free. I will humble myself before you. What else can I do?

    EST. You can lay down your power.

    HAGEN. Estelle! Those are mere words.

    EST. No!

    HAGEN. Who is to take up the power? Shall I hand it back to those who had it before? Are Plimpton and Rutherford better fitted to wield it than I?

    EST. [Vehemently.] Give it to the people!

    HAGEN. The people! Do you believe that in that mass of ignorance and corruption which you call the people there is the power to rule the world?

    EST. What is it that has made the people corrupt? What is it that has kept them in ignorance? What is it but your gold? It lies upon them like a mountain's weight! It crushes every aspiration for freedom... every effort after light! Teach them... help them... then see if they cannot govern themselves!

    HAGEN. I meant to do it...

    EST. Yes... so does every rich man! When only he has the time to think of it! When only his power is secure! I have heard my father say it... a score of times. But there are always new rivals to trample... new foes to fight... new wrongs and horrors to be perpetrated! The time to do it is now... NOW!

    HAGEN. Estelle...

    CAL. [Enters hurriedly.] Prince Hagen!

    HAGEN. What is it?

    CAL. A message from Isman. There is bad news from Washington.

    HAGEN. Well?

    CAL. A. bill has been introduced in Congress... it is expected to pass both houses to-night... your property is to be confiscated!

    HAGEN. What!

    CAL. The sources of natural wealth... the land and the mines and the railroads... all are to become public property. It is to take effect at once!

    EST. [Pointing at him in exultation.] Aha! It has come!

    [They stare at each other.]

    CAL. I tried to get more information... but I was cut off...

    HAGEN. Cut off!

    CAL. I think the wires are down... I can't get any response.

    HAGEN. I see! [Stands in deep thought; laughs.] Well... [To ESTELLE.] At least Plimpton and Rutherford are buried with me! [To CALKINS.] Send to town at once and have the wires seen to. And try to learn what you can.

    CAL. Yes, sir... at once! [Exit.]

    EST. They have done it themselves, you see!

    HAGEN. Yes... I see.

    GER. [Enters, centre; stands looking from one to the other.] Well, Prince Hagen... it looks as if the game was up.

    HAGEN. You've heard the news?

    GER. From Washington? Yes. And more than that. Your guards have revolted.

    HAGEN. What! Here?

    GER. Yes. We're prisoners of war, it seems.

    EST. Gerald!

    HAGEN. How do you know?

    GER. They've sent a delegation to tell us. They've cut the telephone wires, blocked the roads, and shut us in.

    HAGEN. What do they want?

    GER. They don't condescend to tell us that. They simply inform us that the woods are guarded, and that anyone who tries to leave the camp will be shot.

    EST. [In fright.] Prince Hagen!

    [HAGEN stands motionless.]

    GER. [Solemnly.] Hagen, the game is up!

    HAGEN. [In deep thought.] Yes. The game is up. [A pause.] Gerald!

    GER. Well?

    HAGEN. [Points to violin.] Play!

    GER. [Startled.] No!

    HAGEN. Play!

    GER. You will go?

    HAGEN. Yes. I will go. But I will come back! Play! [GERALD takes the violin and plays the Nibelung theme.] Louder!

    GERALD plays the Nibelung music, which is taken up by the orchestra and mounts to a climax, in the midst of which HAGEN pronounces a sort of incantation.

    Mimi! Mimi! Open the gates of wonderland! Bring back the mood of phantasy, and wake us from our evil dream!

    Silence. Then answering echoes of the music are heard, faintly, from the fireplace. There are rappings and murmurings underground, rumbling and patter of feet, and all the sounds of Nibelheim. As the music swells louder, the trap doors slide open, and MIMI appears, amid steam and glare of light. ESTELLE sees him, and recoils in terror. A company of Nibelungs emerge one by one. They peer about timidly, recognize HAGEN, and with much trepidation approach him. MIMI clasps his hand, and they surround him with joyful cries. He moves toward the fireplace, and the steam envelops him.

    EST. [Starts toward him, stretching out her arms to him.] Prince Hagen!

    HAGEN. Farewell!

    He gradually retires, and disappears with the Nibelungs. The orchestra sounds the motive of Siegfried Triumphant.


    THE END.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
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