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THEKLA. You?

GUSTAV. Quite. Have I ever raised my hand against you two in all these years? No. But when I happened to be here I favored you two with scarce a look and the cleavage between you is already there. Did I ever reproach you, moralize, lecture? No. I joked a little with your husband and the accumulated dynamite in him just happened to go off, but I, who am defending myself like this, am the one who's really entitled to stand here and complain. Thekla, have you nothing to reproach yourself with?

THEKLA. Not the least bit - the Christians say it's Providence that guides our actions, others call it Fate, aren't we quite guiltless?

GUSTAV. No doubt we are to a certain extent. But an infinitesimal something remains, and that contains the guilt, all the same, and the creditors turn up sooner or later! Men and women may be guiltless, but they have to render an account. Guiltless before Him in whom neither of us believes any more, responsible to themselves and to their fellow-men.

THEKLA. You've come, then, to warn

me?

GUSTAV. I've come to demand back what you stole from me, not what you had as a present. You stole my honor, and I could only win back mine by taking yours wasn't I right?

THEKLA [after a pause, going over to him on the right]. Honor! Hm! And are you satisfied now?

GUSTAV [after a pause]. I am satisfied now.

[He presses the bell by the door L. for the Waiter.]

THEKLA [after another pause]. And now you're going to your bride, Gustav? GUSTAV. I have none and shall never have one. I am not going home because I have no home, and shall never have one. [Waiter comes in on the left.]

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SCENE VII.

THEKLA. Without a reconciliation?

GUSTAV [on her left]. Reconciliation? You play about with so many words that they've quite lost their meaning. We reconcile ourselves? Perhaps we are to live in a trinity, are we? The way for you to effect a reconciliation is to put matters straight. You can't do that alone. You have not only taken something, but you have destroyed what you took, and you can never put it back. Would you be satisfied if I were to say to you: "Forgive me because you mangled my heart with your claws; forgive me for the dishonor you brought upon me; forgive me for being seven years on end the laughing-stock of my pupils, forgive me for freeing you from the control of your parents; for releasing you from the tyranny of ignorance and superstition; for making you mistress over my house; for giving you a position and friends, I, the man who made you into a woman out of the child you were? Forgive me like I forgive you? Anyway, I now regard my account with you as squared. You go and settle up your accounts with the other man.

THEKLA. Where is he? What have you done with him? I've just got a suspicion — a - something dreadful!

GUSTAV. Done with him? Do you still love him?

THEKLA [goes over to him toward the left). Yes.

GUSTAV. And a minute ago you loved me? Is that really so?

THEKLA. It is.

GUSTAV. Do you know what you are, then?

THEKLA. You despise me? GUSTAV. No, I pity you. It's a characteristic I don't say a defect, but certainly a characteristic that is very fatal, by reason of its results. Poor Thekla! I don't know but I almost think that I'm sorry for it, although I'm quite innocent like you. But anyway it's perhaps all for the best that you've now got to feel what I felt then. Do you know where your husband is?

THEKLA. I think I know now. [She points to the right.] He's in your room just here. He has heard everything, seen everything, and you know they say

that he who looks upon his vampire dies.

SCENE VIII.

[Adolf appears on the right, deadly pale, a streak of blood on his left cheek, a fixed expression in his eyes, white foam on his mouth.]

GUSTAV [moves back]. No, here he is settle with him now! See if he'll be as generous to you as I was. Good-by.

[He turns to the left, stops after a few steps, and remains standing.]

THEKLA [goes toward Adolf with outstretched arms]. Adolf! [Adolf sinks down in his chair by the table on the left. Thekla throws herself over him and caresses him.] Adolf! My darling child, are you alive? Speak! Speak! Forgive your wicked Thekla! Forgive me! Forgive me! Forgive me! Little brother must answer. Does he hear? My God, he doesn't hear me! He's dead! Good God! O my God! Help! Help us!

GUSTAV. Quite true, she loves him as well-poor creature!

[Curtain.]

AUTUMN FIRES

A COMEDY

BY GUSTAV WIED

TRANSLATED BY BENJAMIN F. GLAZER,

Copyright, 1920, by Benjamin F. Glazer.

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The professional and amateur stage rights are reserved by the translator, Mr. Benjamin F. Glazer, Editorial Department, The Press, Philadelphia, Pa., to whom all requests for permission to produce the play should be made.

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