How the man feels about it, dear child, I cannot tell you exactly. He wrote the lady a very beautiful letter after the death of her father—that is all I know about it. But the lady has greater confidence than you, for she still hopes. (Earnestly.) Yes, she hopes; and even her father permitted that before he died—you see, she still hopes.
IDA (embracing her).
And who is the banished one for whom she still hopes?
Hush, dearest, that is a dark secret. Few persons living know about it; and when the birds on the trees of Rosenau tell each other the story they treat it as a dim legend of their forefathers. They then sing softly and sorrowfully, and their feathers stand on end with awe. In due time you shall learn all about it; but now you must think of the fete, and of how pretty you are going to look.
On the one hand the father, on the other the lover—how will it end?
Do not worry. The one is an old soldier, the other a young statesman; two types that we women have wound around our little fingers from time immemorial! [Both leave.]
Side room of a public hall. The rear wall a great arch with columns, through which one looks into the lighted hall and through it into another. On the left, toward the front, a door. On the right, tables and chairs; chandeliers. Later, from time to time distant music. In the hall ladies and gentlemen walking about or standing in groups. SENDEN, BLUMENBERG, behind them SCHMOCK coming from the hall.
SENDEN. All is going well. There is a splendid spirit in the company. These good townspeople are delighted with our arrangements. It was a fine idea of yours, Blumenberg, to have this fete.
BLUMENBEEG. Only hurry and get people warmed up! It’s a good thing to begin with some music. Vienna waltzes are best on account of the women. Then comes a speech from you, then some solo singing, and, at supper, the introduction of the Colonel, and the toasts. It can’t help being a success; the men must have hearts of stone if they don’t give their votes in return for such a fete.
SENDEN. The toasts have been apportioned.
BLUMENBERG. But the music?—Why has the music stopped?
SENDEN. I am waiting for the Colonel to arrive.
BLUMENBERG. He must be received with a blare of trumpets. It will flatter him, you know.
SENDEN. That’s what I ordered. Directly after, they start up a march and we bring him in procession.
BLUMENBERG. First rate! That will lend solemnity to his entrance. Only think up your speech. Be popular, for today we are among the rabble.
Enter guests, among them HENNING.
SENDEN (doing the honors with BLUMENBERG). Delighted to see you here! We knew that you would not fail us. Is this your wife?