[BASTIAN brings the rifle. STEIN tears it from him.]
I am coming!
Robert, hold your own! I am coming!
Twilight. The FORESTER’S House.
Your husband has been dismissed. There is no doubt about that. And if he desires to remain here he is going just the wrong way about it. Stein certainly cannot afford to allow Ulrich to gain his point by defiance and revolt. Godfrey now is forester. Well, Godfrey is a brutal fellow; but here he is in the right. If now they should come together, your husband and Godfrey? And each is going to treat the other as a poacher? Or if Godfrey should come across Andrew once more? And if he does what his father commanded him? Or if Andrew and young Stein come together? Well? And viewed in the most charitable light, Ulrich is a dismissed man, whom nobody will wish to employ after this open rebellion of which he has been guilty. And what is then to become of you and your children?
I am sure you will not withdraw your aid from us. If you would only talk to him once more!
After the trump that he has played? Even if it were not for that, I value my breath too much to preach to deaf ears. You and your children must leave him. That I said to myself a little while ago, while on my way, and made a solemn resolution to bring this about; and I came back to tell you. Before you have a corpse or a murderer in the house—
SOPHY (throws up her hands in terror).
Matters surely cannot come to that pass!
Well. I see you’ll risk it. You also are a queer mother. But I am not so indifferent as you, and I will not have a catastrophe on my conscience, if I can prevent it. I have most to lose by this. To be brief: If you leave him and come with your children to me, I shall have it settled that very hour that you and your children are to be my heirs. Till tomorrow noon you have plenty of time to consider the matter. If by noon tomorrow you are at the Boundary Inn, where I will wait for you, then we’ll go at once into town to the notary; if you are not there—all right also. But I’ll be a scoundrel—and you know I am as good as my word—and cursed be my hand, if after that it ever gives a piece of bread either to you or your children.
SOPHY (quite overcome; then follows him anxiously and hastily).
But, cousin! Cousin Wilkens!
MARY alone; then SOPHY returning.
MARY (has a letter in her hand).