Against the game? Nothing whatever! Noble men must have some way to pass the time. Without the king of hearts, the real kings would often find life tedious; and if bowling balls had not been invented, who knows whether princes and barons would not be using our heads for the purpose? But an ordinary workingman cannot do anything worse than spend his hard-earned money on games. We must respect that which we have laboriously earned in the sweat of our brows; we must hold it high and precious, unless we are to lose our bearings and regard all our works and doings with contempt. How can I strain all my nerves to earn a thaler which I intend to throw away?
[The door-bell is heard outside.]
Enter ADAM, a Bailiff; another Bailiff.
ADAM (to Master ANTONY).
Now, you just go ahead and pay your wager! No people in red coats with blue trimmings [with emphasis] shall ever enter your house, eh?—Well, here are two of us!
[To the other bailiff.]
Why don’t you keep your hat on, as I do? Who is going to observe formalities among people of his own class?
Your own class? You blackguard!
You are right—we are not among our own class! Scoundrels and thieves are not of our class! [Points to the dresser.] Open that up! And then three steps away—so that you can’t sneak anything out of it!
CLARA (enters with things to set the table).
Shall I—[She stops, speechless.]
ADAM (exhibits a paper).
Can you read writing?
Should I be able to do what even my schoolmaster could not do?
Then listen! Your son has stolen some jewelry! We have the thief already! Now we are here to search the house!
MOTHER (falls down and dies).
Mother! Mother! How her eyes roll!
I will fetch a doctor!
Not necessary! That is the last look! I have seen it a hundred times! Good night, Theresa! You died when you heard it! Let them write that on your gravestone!
But perhaps it is [starts to go]—awful! But lucky for me!
ANTONY (pulls a bunch of keys from his pocket and throws them down).
There! Unlock everything! Drawer after drawer! Bring the ax! The key to the trunk is lost! Ha! Scoundrels and thieves! [He turns his pockets inside out.] I find nothing here!
Master Antony, calm yourself! Everybody knows that you are the most honest man in town!