This living in the families of the actors was most interesting, except for the autograph fiends, who simply mobbed the Christus, Anton Lang, and Josef Maier, the Christus of the last three performances, who now takes the part of the speaker of the prologue. Those dear people were so obliging that no one was ever refused, consequently thousands of tourists must possess autographs of most of the principals. Not one of our party asked an autograph of anybody. I hope they are grateful to us. I should think they would remember us for that alone.
Mrs. Jimmie was not at all disturbed by the somewhat wooden and inadequate acting of Anna Flunger, who plays Mary, and loved, I believe almost worshipped, that young peasant girl, who walked bareheaded and with downcast eyes through the streets, or who waited upon the guests in her father’s house with such sweet simplicity. To Mrs. Jimmie, Anna Flunger was the real Virgin Mary, so real, indeed, that I believe that Mrs. Jimmie could almost have prayed to her.
Even Bee was intensely touched by an act of Peter,—for her lodging was changed to the house of Thomas and Peter Rendl after we arrived. The father, Thomas Rendl, plays St. Peter, while his son is again John, the beloved disciple. He played John in 1890, at the age of seventeen, but they say that there is not a line in his beautiful, spiritual face to show the flight of time. His large liquid eyes follow the every movement of the Master’s on the stage, and their expression is so hauntingly beautiful that even Bee admitted its influence. Bee said that one evening, as they were sitting around the table, resting for a moment after supper was finished, the village church bell began to ring for the Angelus. In an instant the two men and the two women politely made their excuses and rising, stood in the middle of the room facing eastward, crossing their hands upon their breasts in silent prayer. Bee said it was most beautiful to see how simply they performed this little act of devotion.
I wouldn’t let Jimmie know of it for the world, but it has been quite a trial to me to live in the house with Judas. He plays with such tremendous power—he makes it seem so real, so close, so near. Once I asked him if he liked the part, and he broke down and wept. He said he hated it—that he loathed himself for playing it, and that his one ambition was to be allowed to play the Christus for just one time before he died, in order to wipe out the disgrace of his part as Judas and to cleanse his soul. I cried too, for I knew that his ambition could never be realised. I told him that perhaps they would allow him to act the part at a rehearsal, if he told them of his ambition, and the thought seemed to cheer him. He said he knew the part perfectly, and had often rehearsed it in private to comfort his own soul.
Such was his sincerity and grief, such his contrition and remorse after a performance, that it would not surprise me some day to know that the part had overpowered him, and that he had actually hanged himself.