FORESTER (eagerly). No, Robert. Once and for all, no! There is no way out of it. Either he trains her, or she trains him.—For example; let me give you only one instance how to go about it. My wife cannot see any human being suffer; now the poor wretches come in troops, and I should like to know what is to come of it all, if I were to praise her to her face. Therefore I grumble and swear like a trooper, but at the same time I gradually withdraw, so that she has full liberty. And when I notice that she is through, then I come along again, as if by accident, and keep on grumbling and swearing. Then people say: “The Hereditary Forester is harder on the poor than the devil himself, but his wife and his girl, they are angels from heaven.” And they say this so that I should hear it; and hear it I do. But I pretend not to notice it, and laugh in my sleeve; and to keep up appearances I bluster all the more.—It seems the guests are arriving. Robert, my wife, and my girl, my Mary—if I at some time—you understand me, Robert. Give me your hand. God is looking down on us.
[Wipes his eyes.]
The deuce! Confound it! Don’t let the cat out of the bag to the women—and you rule her as it ought to be.
[He turns around to hide his emotion, with gestures expressive of his vexation that he cannot control himself. At the door he encounters the following]:
The same. STEIN; MOeLLER; WILKENS; MARY; SOPHY. They exchange greetings with the FORESTER.
What’s your hurry, old man? Have you already had a row with him?
Yes. I have given the young gentleman a lecture on the subject of women-folks.
High treason against the majesty of petticoat-government? And you permit that, madam?
A little more, a little less—when one has to put up with so much!
And now can anybody say that this woman is not clever enough to get one under her thumb. But let us have cards. I had to promise Stein that he should have his revenge today before lunch—
STEIN. Revenge I must have.
[The FORESTER and STEIN sit down opposite each other on the right side of the stage and play cards.]
SOPHY (watches them a moment; then to ROBERT, while going to and fro with an air of being very busy).
I hope to heaven they are not going to discuss the clearing of the forest today.
MOeLLER (on the left side, stepping up to WILKENS and pointing to MARY, who is talking to her mother and ROBERT).
That is what I call a fine-looking bride!
And she is not a beggar’s child either, Sir.
Who does not know that Mr. Wilkens is her mother’s uncle?