Take your mother’s hand and swear to me that you are what you should be!
[He puts on his hat.]
It is beautiful weather! We will go out and run the gauntlet! Up the street! Down the street!
A Room in the Master Joiner’s House.
ANTONY (rises from the table).
CLARA (starts to clear off the dishes).
Have you lost your appetite again?
Father, I have had enough.
But you have taken nothing!
I ate out in the kitchen.
A bad appetite means a guilty conscience. Oh, well, we shall see—or was there poison in the soup, as I dreamt yesterday? Perhaps some wild hemlock got in with the other vegetables by mistake, when they were gathered?—In that case you did well!
CLARA. Great Heavens!
Forgive me! I—Away with your pale sad look, which you stole from our Savior’s Mother! One should look ruddy when one is young! There is but one who might show such a face, and he does not do it! Hey! A box on the ear for every man who says “ouch!” when he cuts his finger! No man has any right to do that now, for here stands a man who—ugh!—self-praise stinks!—But what did I do when our neighbor started to nail down the cover of your mother’s coffin?
You wrenched the hammer away from him and did it yourself, and said: “This is my masterpiece!” The preceptor, who was just then leading the choir boys in the dirge over by the door, thought you had gone crazy.
Crazy. Yes, yes, it is a wise head that cuts itself off at the right time. Mine must be too firmly fastened on, or else—We squat down in the world and imagine ourselves sitting behind the stove in a good inn. Suddenly a light is placed on the table and, behold! we find ourselves sitting in a den of thieves! There is a bing! bang! on all sides, but no harm it done—fortunately we have hearts of stone!
Yes, father, so it is.
What do you know about it? Do you think you have a right to curse with me because your clerk has deserted you? There will be another to take you walking Suliday afternoons, another to tell you that your cheeks are rosy and your eyes blue, and still another to take you as his wife, if you deserve it! Wait until you have borne the burdens of life in chastity and honor for thirty years, and have endured sorrow and death and every human adversity with uncomplaining patience; then let your son, who ought to stuff a soft pillow for your old head, come and so overwhelm you with disgrace that you would like to cry out to the earth: Swallow me, if it does not sicken thee, for I am muddier than thou! Then you may utter all the curses that I suppress in my bosom, then you may tear your hair and beat your breasts!—You have that advantage over me, for you are not a man!