[Hedwig quickly seizes the pistol from the mantel-shelf and moves to the bedroom door.
Amelia, watching her, sees her do it, and cries out in alarm and rushes to take it from her.]
Amelia: [In horror.]
Hedwig! What are you doing? Give it to me! No, you must not! You have too much to live for.
[Illustration: AMELIA: No, you must not! You have too much to live for.]
To live for? Me?
Why, yes, you are going to be a mother.
A mother? Like her? [Looks sadly at the bereaved old mother.] Look at her! Poor Mother! And they never asked her if she wanted this thing to be! Oh, no! I shall never take it like that—never! But you are right, Amelia. I have something to do first.
[Lets Amelia put the pistol away in the cupboard.] I must send a message to the emperor. [The others are more alarmed for her in this mood than in her grief.]
You said you were going to the front to be a nurse, Amelia. Can you take this message for me? I might take it myself, perhaps.
Amelia: [Hesitating, not knowing what to say or do.]
Let me give you some tea, Hedwig.
[Voices are heard outside, and the sounds of sorrow. Some one near the house is weeping. A wild look and a fierce resolve light Hedwig’s face.]
Hedwig: [Rushing from the house.]
They have taken my Franz!
Get her back! I feared it. Grief has made her mad.
[Amelia runs out. A clamor of voices outside. Hedwig can be heard indistinctly speaking to the women. Finally her voice alone is heard, and in a moment she appears, backing into the doorway, still talking to the women.]
Hedwig: [A tragic light in her face, and hand uplifted.]
I shall send a message to the emperor. If ten thousand women send one like it, there will be peace and no more war. Then they will hear our tears.
What is the message? Tell us!
Soon you will know. [Loudly.] But I tell you now, don’t bear any more children until they promise you there will be no more war.
Hertz: [Suddenly appearing. Amelia follows.]
I heard you. I declare you under arrest. Come with me. You will be shot for treason.
Mother: [Fearfully, drawing him aside.]
Don’t say that, sir. Wait. Oh, no, you can’t do that!
[She gets out her work-basket, and shows him the baby things she has been knitting, and glances significantly at Hedwig. A horrid smile comes into the man’s face. Hedwig, snatches the things and crushes them to her breast as if sacrilege had been committed.]