The raging fever has seized me—nothing else. These are the symptoms—chattering of the teeth and chills along the spine. Elderberry-tea—a night or two of perspiration! What has the knocking to do with my fever? Why does not some one open, some one call her in? Why are you all so pale and tongueless? Has some one told a fairy-tale, and are you afraid? My Mary was a living fairy-tale—she is-she is, I mean to say. That Mary could be dead—but she would not give me such pain! She knows that I cannot live without my Mary. Do you hear her giggling outside? Now she will come skipping in and hold her hands over my eyes, as she is accustomed to do, and I must not spoil her fun. Oh, it is—[Attempts to laugh, but sobs.]—a—[Beside himself.]—After all, it has to be! Come in!
[Attempts to go to the door, but with eyes closed sinks into a chair on the left.]
ROBERT, WILLIAM, then two men with a covered stretcher, which they put down. The men go away.
[Going toward him.]
Do you see, Ulrich? He lives!
ROBERT (embracing him, pale and distracted).
What has happened to you?
Would that the murderer had killed me! Father Ulrich, be a man!
FORESTER (making a supreme effort to collect his energies).
Go on! I will see whether I am a man.
[ROBERT removes the covering.]
SOPHY (who, supported by ANDREW and the PASTOR, has fallen upon her knees by the stretcher).
Oh, God! It is Mary!
How did this happen? Explain it, Robert.
It is dreadfully clear to me.
ROBERT (with difficulty maintaining his self-possession).
She was praying: “God, let me belong only to my father.” I was about to say to her: “Mary, you are going to give me up?” Then she rushed upon me, as if she wished to protect me with her own body, made a sign and called in the direction of the forest. I saw no one; I did not understand her; I was about to ask: “What is the matter, Mary?” when—the report of a gun—she sank down in my arms; I threw myself over her; a bullet had penetrated her heart.
That was her dream.
STEIN (holds ROBERT in his embrace, almost simultaneously).
She died for you!
She saw me aim at him, and ran purposely into the course of my bullet. I wanted to judge and—have judged myself. Crime and punishment at the same moment! I was praying: “God have mercy on his poor soul!” I prayed for myself, and the owls screeched Amen, and meant me!