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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 505 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09.

SOPHY (faintly).

As truly as I hope to be saved—­

FORESTER.

“So truly shall it remain a secret what I am now about to hear.”

SOPHY.

So truly shall it remain a secret what I am now about to hear.

[Is obliged to sit down.]

FORESTER.

And now give heed.—­It is short—­no But and no If about it—­it is clear as the right—­and right must remain right—­else we need no God in Heaven! [After he has made several attempts to begin, in a dejected and low voice, while he leads her to the footlights.] Do not be frightened.  Robert shot our Andrew, and I—­I have executed judgment upon him.

SOPHY.

Oh, God! [She can scarcely keep herself on her feet; wants to go to the chair.  He supports her.]

FORESTER.

I have judged him.  As it is written there—­“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”  I have judged him, because the courts no longer judge right.  They have two kinds of law, and here it is written:  “Ye shall have one manner of law.”  I have not murdered him, I have executed judgment upon him. [He walks up and down, then loses himself in thought at the place where he believes SOPHY still to be, who totters to the chair.] But I do not know whether it did happen—­what has happened.  My brain is so wild and confused—­[Recollects with difficulty] but I suppose it really did happen—­what has happened—­and as it was about to happen—­what has happened—­I saw Mary before my eyes, as if she put herself in front of him and made a sign to me to stop, and cried:  “It is”—­well, you know who!  It was a delusion; it was only in my imagination.  After I have had wine, I always am in a state that I see things which do not exist.  And if it should have been she—­the bullet then was no longer under any control.

SOPHY.

Almighty God!

[She drags herself with difficulty into MARY’S room.]

FORESTER (does not notice it and, staring before him, continues as if she were still standing beside him).

It was not she.  How could Mary have come there?  It is nothing but the effect of the wine, that today I see her everywhere.  But nevertheless I was frightened until I saw it had only been the smoke from the gun.  Everything was turning around before my eyes.  But when the smoke had cleared away—­that was only a moment—­then I saw him—­still standing as before, but only for a moment—­then he collapsed—­then had happened what did happen.  Then I folded my hands over my gun, and said:  “You have been judged according to your desert.”  And I prayed:  “God have mercy on his poor soul.”  Then a swarm of owls flew up and screeched.  That sounded as though they said Amen.  Then I stood again erect on my feet.  For God and Earth and Heaven and every creature demand justice.

[He loses himself in a brown study.]

SCENE V

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