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Mystery of Oberwald

D. (Mademoiselle de Berg).Can you tell me what you are doing with that piece of wood in your hands?

F. (Felix. duke of Willenstein))Well, I don't see the reason for all these fires. There is a storm. It is stifling.

D.The Queen likes to have a fire with the windows open.

F.But when the windows are open bugs and bats can fly inside.

D.The Queen likes bugs and bats. Do you love the Queen, Felix?

F.What did you say? You can't open your mouth without telling me something unpleasant. Tell me: what should I do for you to like me?

D.Respect the etiquette, the ceremonial. These are the things that matter in the Court.

F.The Queen couldn't care less about the etiquette and the ceremonial.

D.This is why her mother-in-law, the Archduchess, makes me keep them everywhere.

F.It was the Archduchess who put you near the Queen. I am here, near the Queen, because the King wanted it so.

D.The King is dead, my dear Felix. The Archduchess is alive.

F.I find you so beautiful holding that candlestick, Edith!

D.You find me beautiful holding the candlestick, and now?

F.Very beautiful. I don't like the storrn.

D.The Queen instead will be happy. This morning she told me: " I'm lucky, Edith. In my first night at Oberwald, there will be a storm."

F.She loves only violence.

D.Learn, my dear Duke

F.But she does not love your violence, Edith.

D.She says so. But if I were weak and submissive she couldn't stand me by her side, not even for a minute.

F.Which means that since you find me weak and submissive she cannot stand me by her side.

D.For Her Majesty you are like a piece of furniture, an object, my dear Felix. You have to accept it.

F.I was a friend of the King's.

D.This is the only reason why she makes allowances for you.

F.Mein Edith, are you jealous?

D.Me, jealous? Oh, this is goodl Do you know what's the date today? Ten years ago on this very day King Frederic was murdered the morning of his wedding
day. Tonight the Queen will dine with the shadow of the King. This is the kind of man you are. A man who dares to love the Queen and to be jealous of the
shadow of the King!

F.You are crazy!

D.I was crazy about you.

F. Edith!

D. Leave me alonel

F.It was the Archduchess who opposed our wedding.

D.The Archduchess understood you completely before I did. It was she who opened my eyes. "That young fool does not love you, my child. He is trying
any way possible to get near the Queen." I thought the Archduchess was afraid for one of her maids of honor to be influenced by one of the King's
friends, one of those she held responsible for her son marrying a woman she had always detested. But then I understood too.

F.What did you understand?

D.That you treated me like a rival, like an obstacle between the Queen and yourself. Tell me it isn't so.

F.Why would I have needed to use you to get near the Queen since, if I am not mistaken, I get near her as much as you do?

D.As much as I do? I am the Queen's reader, her only confidant. The Queen doesn't love you, Felix, accept it. The Queen doesn't love you and I don't
love you anymore.

F.I'll be as sincere as you are. I don't like your role of spy paid by the Archduchess.

D.How dare you?

F.At this point it is better that we tell each other everything. I was in love with you, Edith, and I may be still in love with you, but you say that I'm not in love with you anymore since I am in love with the Queen. It may be so. I dreamed we both would love her. This is impossible because you are a woman and the Queen is unattainable. I'll be happy to serve her with you and my happiness will be in seeing her smile.

D.You seem to forget that I am the only one the Queen has shown her face to since the King's death.

F. I saw her face too, Edith.

D. Where, how?

F.In Wolmar, through the gallery, I heard the sound of a door slam. Only she slams doors in that way. I hid myself, I could see the whole gallery and at the
end of it, the Queen was coming towards me. She was coming towards me as if she were alone in the world, without her veil, her head erect, so pale, so light,
almost detached from her body. She was walking very slowly, looking in the direction of my hiding place. For a moment - it was unbearable- she stopped,
she staggered, then her back towards me she turned towards the door she had come from. Here she is. Open the windowsl

D. Will you please go away, yes or no? I told you to leave.

F.I won't allow you to raise your voice to me in this way

D.Don't be ridiculousl

F.There was a time when you would not talk to me in this way.

D. Leave!

Q.Are you alone?

D.Yes, ma'am, the Duke of Willenstein has just left.Madam!

Q.How boring you are, my little girl " It is a thunderbolt and it could strike me." I always know what you are going to tell me.

D.Do you want me to close the shutters?

Q.To close the windows, to draw the drapes, to shut ourselves in, to hide ourselves, to deny ourselves this marvelous sight. But why? This is my kind of
weather, Edith. And the storm has its whims and I have mine.

D.But a thunderbolt could strike the trees nearby and come in.

Q..My genealogical tree is not interested . It is decrepit. It knows how to self destruct. Let it come in, Edith, let it come in.

D.It has already come in. I was waiting for Your Majesty to get permission to call the workers. Apparently a part of the roof collapsed. It will cost quite a lot of
money.

Q.Indeedl The King liked this dilapidated house, built by who knows who. Are you afraid?

D.I am.

Q.Afraid of what? Of dying? The only thing I have always been afraid of is the quiet. Do you know why I love storms so much? Because they upset the rules of etiquette. The Archduchess is the etiquette, I am the storm. You can go to bed, Edith. Hide yourself under the blankets, pray if you feel like, and try to sleep. If I need anything I'll call Tony. Here is another one who's afraid of the storm.

D.The Archduchess would punish me, if she knew that I left the Queen alone.

Q.Are you at my service or the Archduchess' ?

D. I am afraid I cannot obey the Queen. I'll stay up and I'll be ready to be of service to Your Majesty, in case you need me.

Q.Again? My etiquette, my etiquette demands that nobody in the world may enter my room tonight, not even if lightening strikes the castle. Good evening, Mademoiselle de Berg. I was joking. Good night, good night, little Edith. We deserved a little peace. This is the mountaineers ' food. It is what distracted us from that monstrous ceremony. Frederic, you were making such an ugly face. The crown was not meant for you, my poor love, and when the Archbishop put it on your head you almost burst into laughter while the Archduchess kept on saying to me: " Keep straight." I was standing up straight in the middle of that crowd, with all those fire-crackers, showered with all those flowers. We were spared nothing of that endless celebration. The evening we got into the carriage . And here we are, we are not a King and a Queen anymore, just two people in love having dinner together. And now, Frederic, since the Archduchess is not here to prevent me from doing it, I'll read your fortune in the cards. We used to have the gypsies do it for us, do you remember, when we went hunting. Cut (the deck of cards) . Spades. If that were newl You would surprise me. Cards, you can turn them and turn them again, they always say the same thing. Look: one, two, three, four, five, the Queen. One, two, three, four, five, the King. One, two, three, four, five, a bad woman. Do you recognize her, Frederic? One, two, three, four, five , an ambitious girl, Edith de Berg. One, two, three, four, five, problems with money. One, two, three, four, five, a bad man. Count of Foehn, you are always present! One, two, three, four, five, death. One, two, three, four, five, here is the boy.Who is he, Frederic, who is he?

Get up, can you hear me? Get up quick, you have stained the blanket with blood. Is it you, Edith?

D. Madaml

Q.Come in! What's the matter? You don't feel well?

D.A serious matter. I thought I could allow myself ?

Q.Have you seen a ghost? It is a serious matter to disobey me.

D.Has the Queen heard the shots? The police?

Q..The police?

D.It was Your Majesty's police shooting, the men are here below.

Q.I didn't understand anything. Is Count Foehn down here?

D.No, ma'am. But the commander of his patrol is coming to see Your Majesty on behalf of Count Foehn.

Q.What does he want?

D.They were chasing a criminal who got into the park of the castle. The commander of the patrol urges Your Majesty to give him permission to search the park and the servants' quarters.

Q.They shouldn't bother me with this nonsense.

D.This is not nonsense. If Your Majesty allows me to tell you everything.

Q.I have been asking for you to do so for an hour.

D.They are chasing a murderer.

Q.Did he kill somebody?

D.No, ma'am, but he wanted to kill.

Q.Who?

D.You.

Q.Better and better. You seem to forget, Edith, that I go from one castle to another without letting anybody know. I decided yesterday that I would spend
the night here, in Oberwaid. Isn't it strange that both the police and the murderer are aware of my most secret decisions?

D.The commander said that a dangerous group was conspiring to harm you. They had chosen a young man to carry out their plan. Not knowing where you were,
he went to his mother's house. She is a peasant living in the village of Oberwald. Count Foehn, who expected you to come here, to Oberwald, thought
the criminal would come here to make an attempt on your life, but the moment the patrol surrounded the house in the village, the man fled. He may be hiding
in the park.

Q.But why are you so upset? Am I dead? No, and the men of Count Foehn are watching the castle. They are going to make an attempt on the Queen and
Count Foehn doesn't think it worthwhile to come here in person. He sends me a patrol. I'd like to know whether the chief of police has a vague idea of who
this criminal is.

D.Does Your Majesty know?

Q. Is it Count Foehn?

D.Your Majesty is joking. The criminal is the author of that poem published in secret that Your Majesty had the weakness to approve of and learn by heart.

Q.Well, then, my dear Edith, you found me safe and sound. The storm is calming down, the police are watching . You can finally sleep. You look so upset. Don't
disturb me anymore.

D.Does Your Majesty allow me at least to close the windows in the other room?

Q.Sure. Go ahead and close them. It doesn't matter any more. You can get up. You heard, I suppose, that there are no more secrets between us. What's your name? I'll tell you. Your name is Sebastian. You have published, under the pseudonym of Aznavar , a nice name, 'the angel of death', a little poem entitled "End of the Royalty", that tried to attack me and was much talked about. It was neither in prose nor verse. It was an original work, anonymous, very different from anything else. Not to be like anything else. Not to be like anybody else. There is no better praise. Come closer, come closer. That's the King's portrait. It was painted when we were engaged. The King was 25 years old. How old are you? I suppose you are aware of this extraordinary resemblance between you and him. Tell me the truth. Probably your accomplices thought that the fact that you look so much like the King would help you carry out the attempt on my life. But things don't always turn out the way one thinks. Am I wrong? This is the third time I question you . How did you know I was in the castle of Oberwald? Did they sew your mouth? Well, my dear, I have kept quiet for ten years. For ten year I have forced myself never to utter a word or show my face to anybody, except my reader. Tonight I talk and show my face. I was complaining because nothing ever happened. At long last something new is happening in Oberwaid. I can show my face and talk. It is marvelous. So tell me about your adventure. Bandage your knee. I?ll bandage it myself. Stretch your leg out. You are impossible to deal with. I can stand silence but not the sight of blood. Tell me your story. Actually no, I'll tell you. They gave you the order to kill me. They told you to find out in which castle I would be, since I keep moving from one castle to another. They may have mentioned Wolmar or may be Oberwald. Now, even if somebody I am suspicious of guessed I was going to be in Oberwald, it was impossible to know in which room I would be. I have four and you came directly to mine. I have to salute you as my destiny. Tonight I was going to remember the anniversary of the King's death. That armchair was his. Honey and goat cheese were his favorite meal. A shot. Dogs barking. You make another effort, you climb I don't know what and you arrive here, I don't know how. For a moment I thought I was seeing the King's ghost. Get closer to the fire, your clothes are all wet. The King was murdered in his carriage while we were coming to Oberwald after the ceremony. The day of our wedding. A man jumped on the carriage step with a bunch of flowers, I thought he was squashing the flowers against Frederic's chest. I was laughing. The King died before I could understand. When the knife was pulled out, the blood squirted on my knees. You must be hungry. Eat, drink something. I am not asking you to talk. I am asking you to sit here, on the King's chair. I am offering it to you because I have decided to treat you as my equal. As far as I am concerned, I cannot treat you as a man. You are my death and I hide my death and - let's be clear- I defend my death. I can see you understand me. The King was killed because he wanted to build theatres and castles. They want to kill me because I am like him. What can you do if our families have such a strong cult for art? Since the King's death I have been feeling dead too. But this death which is only imagined is not enough for me anymore. I need to die the way my King died, in the same atrocious way. I have a poison that I always carry with me. It is wonderful. The capsule dissolves slowly. I swallow it, I wear my riding costume, I mount my horse, I ride away, I get excited and when the poison begins to have its effect, I fall from my horse, the horse drags me and that's it, the game is up. But this is not so easy since destiny must act by itself and you are my destiny and I like that. Come on, say somethingl Yell, insult mel Do you realize what is happening? If instead of staggering, the way you did, you had recognized me and killed me, what would you have become: a murderer. You fainted, instead. Is it my fault? I helped you, I hid you and saved you. Certainly now it will be more difficult for you to kill me. It is a different matter. Shooting point blank is nothing; killing in cold blood requires a different hand. But you cannot go back any more. Nobody can avoid the conclusion of this story, no force except one, the worst: weakness. But I don't want to offend you by believing you are capable of such a ridiculous let down. At long last! Do you know Count Foehn? The Chief of Police? He is a terrible person. He plots against me. He dreams of becomingRegent and the Archduchess protects him. I think she is in love with him. It would be funny if you, without knowing it, would be his secret weapon . This would explain the lack of energy on the part of the policemen and above all the fact that you so easily escaped him. In general Count Foehn doesn't miss his prey. Poor Count! If he could only suspect the service he rendered me! But let's leave this gentleman alone and let's settle our business. You are my prisoner but you are free. I can see you have a knife. You dropped it. You also have a revolver, that you can keep. I am giving you three days to render me the service I expect of you. If you spare me, I won't spare you. Your only contact will be with me. I'll say that you are my new reader and that I organized this romantic night to introduce you to Oberwald. Tomorrow morning Mademoiselle de Berg, who is the Archduchess' informer will have spread the news of the scandal. As you can see, we don't have a moment to spare. I 'm hiring you: if you don't kill me, I'll kill you. The storm is over. The trees smell so nicely. The stars, the moon taking her ruins around ours. The snow, the glaciers. How brief storms are, how brief violence is. Everything ends, everything falls asleep. Don't be afraid. Tony is the only one I trust completely. Good night. Take care and try to sleep. Tomorrow will be a tiring day.

D. Do you know what's happening here?

E. I know the castle is in turmoil for last night's alarm. Did they find the man?

D.The man is in the castle.

F.What are you saying?

D.The man is in Oberwald and she is hiding him. He got wounded in the park , at least this is what they think , but on her bed cover there are blood stains.

F.And the guards, you forget the guards.

D.The commander of the guards sides with the Queen. He gave a false alarm. There was shouting, there were shots, but the order was not to hit him. They
wounded him.

F.What do you plan to do? Inform the Archduchess so she may intervene?

D.What's important is not to lose one's head, to remain calm.

Q.Good morning, Edith. Felix , I want to inform you too that I had a new reader come to Oberwald. I have many reasons to think he is exceptional. He is a
student, native to these parts. His resemblance to the King is really striking and that persuaded me more than any other recommendation. He's poor. He
doesn't have any noble titles. No, I'm wrong, he is a poet. He published a libel against me, that I like. The young are always anarchists, they are always fighting
the present, they dream of other things. If I were not a Queen, I might be an anarchist myself. This is why the Court fears me and the people love me, and this is why that young man found himself in agreement with me right away. You are at my service. I wouldn't like you to misinterpret my actions. I would be
grateful to you if you could show that young man that in our world there is still some interior elegance. That's all. You can go.

D .Does Your Majesty need me?

Q.I said you can go. I was target shooting. I like hunting less and less but I like to shoot. Are you a good shot?

S.I think I am not a bad shot.

Q.Try. Congratulations. You almost hit the mark. I hit it a little to the left. I hope your knee is better. Did you sleep?

S.I slept very well. My knee hurts less.

Q.Of course one sleeps well when one is twenty years old..

R. Twenty-five.

Q. In comparison to you I am an old lady. Did you study?

S. I studied on my own, almost.

Q. Mademoiselle de Berg can barely read in her own language. I am not going to lose in the change. I?d like to hear you read, since you have been appointed reader. Here, sit here. You won't refuse to read your poem. I'd like to hear your own voice reading it. You are afraid of it. Don't forget that you are in Oberwald to kill me and we made a pact.

S.A pact. Maybe you think that my life begins in Oberwald. Before I didn't exist. But there was this poem with my signature, a poem that excited you, that roused your interest, that flattered you, maybe. So, you created this extraordinary picture of me, of a ghost coming, who knows where from, to kill you. What a nice storyl Then I arrived. Where do you think I sprang from, from the darkness? And who looked for me in that darkness, who took me to that door? You, because you are not one of those people that things happen to by chance, you order, you control, you decree, you pre-construct everything that has to happen even when you think you are not doing It. You were the one who, without realizing it, gave me that spirit of rebellion, you made me meet those men among whom I was hoping to find violence and freedom. You were the one to dictate, even if unaware of that, my comrades vote to lay a snare for you. These are things that no Tribunal would admit, but I tell you. I was fifteen years old, I was coming down from the mountains. There everything was limpid. In your capital I found intrigue, misery, hatred, the ferocious police. I met men who felt revulsion for these shameful things. They attribute them to your govern and I also felt stained by shame. And you? Where were you? You were living your dream, from afar, as if you were on a cloud and throwing away immense fortunes and turning your eyes from the spectacle of our miseries. They killed your King. Is it my fault? These are the risks of your job.

Q.By killing the king they killed me. too.

S.They killed you so little that now you want to be killed again. You adored the King. But which kind of love is this? Since childhood you were destined to the throne. They raised you for the throne. They made you a monster of pride. One day they took you to meet a man that you didn't even know, but who was sitting on the throne. You liked him, but even if you didn't, it would have been the same. And you went hunting together, riding together and then you got married. They killed him.

Q. I since childhood, was suffocated with love. But it wasn't enough for me to be excited by a face, I wanted to be excited by a cause. When I entered your room I was pushed by a crazy idea, the idea of a crazy man. It wasn't us being one in front of another, it was an idea in front of another. I had the weakness of fainting, when I came to, I was a wounded man in the house of a woman. You, Instead, kept on feeding you myth and considering me as a death sentence.

Q.I let you talk long enough. Be quietl

S.I thought you had decided, among other things, that any protocol should be abolished, that we should treat each other as equals.

Q.It was a mystical pact between the one who would bring me death and myself, not between a queen and an unknown person who got into the castle during the night.

S.I got into your castle, why don't you yell? Why don't you ring a bell? Make them arrest me. Hand me over to your justice. These are still the Queen pleasures!

Q.Now you are the one to yell. You will put the whole castle in turmoil.

S. I don't care. Don't you see I am going crazy?

Q.Shoot, shoot me! Soon it will be too late. Should I repeat to you what I have already said? If you don't kill me, I'll kill you.

S.Then kill me.

Q.Sit down and pretend you are reading. Edith?

D.Ma'am?

Q.What's the matter, Edith? Come in.

D.Please excuse me, ma'am, but I heard a shot and I was afraid

Q.When will you stop being afraid? I was target shooting . If you dared come closer, you would have heard how readers, who can read, read. I am sovereignty - this is the appropriate word - displeased, that somebody listens at the door. Edith, I am very unhappy with you. Your behavior, which is getting more and more indiscreet, forces me to put you under the arrest in your room. Tony will bring you what's necessary. Now hide yourself. I'm going to have a visit and I want you not to miss a word of what will be said. We'll talk about it later. My dear Count, good morningl Come in, come in.

CoF.Your Majesty, I apologize for appearing in front of you in this condition. The road is long and in very bad condition.

Q. Oh, I have been asking for a long time to have it repaired, but I find it logical that the expenses be charged to the State. Our ministers, instead, think that it is my business. So the road will stay as it is.

CoF.The State is poor, ma'am, and we are in a regime of economy.

Q.You speak like my Finance Minister.

CoF. The castle of Wolmar is on a cliff. Labor is costly. They say that jewel of yours cost Your Majesty a fortune.

Q.Now you talk like the Archduchess.

CoF. It may be, ma'am, that the Archduchess deplores, in affectionate terms, the fact that Your Majesty has debts and she is sorry she is not able to help you. But everybody knows that these debts concern only Your Majesty and these expenses weigh only on your riches. The people never suffered.

Q.Everybody knows? You amuse me, Count. Where do these absurd rumors about me come from? I despise the people? I ruin them? These are the lies they let circulate about me to rouse the people.

CoF.The Archduchess is the first to deplore this state of things and if it weren't so I would not have the honor to be here to pay homage to Your Majesty.

Q.Here we are. I was sure of it. You came to reproach me.

CoF. Your Majesty is jokingi

Q. Ah, it is about the ceremony for the anniversary . My absence made, in the words of the press, a very bad impression.

CoF.The Archduchess thinks the Queen should have made an effort for her son's memory.

Q.The reason for my voluntary exile is precisely due to my sorrow for her son's death, but my mourning doesn't consist in parading in a carriage.

C oF. The Archduchess is aware of that.

Q.What does she want then?

CoF. She doesn't "want". She advises you. She advises Your Majesty to change those habits a little; those habits of seclusion that in the eyes of the fools - and there are so many of them, risk to be considered as a form of contempt.

Q.One cannot change 'a little' Either one shows himself or hides himself. I have eliminated the term 'a little' from my vocabulary. When one does things 'a little', it is like not doing them at all. If my motto were not "I am forced to do the impossible", I would choose the words of that Indian Chief who was criticized for having eaten "a little too much" at a dinner at the Embassy. "A little too much" - he said- "it was barely enough for me."

CoF.Does Your Majesty allow me to report the words of the Indian Chief to the Archduchess?

Q.They will serve you as an answer.

CoF. Oberwald is splendid! Did Your Majesty arrive here yesterday?

Q.Oberwald is a dilapidated house, Count. The ceiling of the room I slept in last night is leaking. The library here caught fire. But I feel well here. I arrived here yesterday morning. I was dead tired and I slept soundly.

CoF.That's good. I was afraid that my manhunt might have disturbed Your Majesty's sleep.

Q. But where is my head! Mademoiselle do Berg asked my permission for your policemen to search the park. But you, weren't you there?

C oF.I didn't want to give the matter unnecessary importance by arriving at the castle in the middle of the night. I stayed in the village, at the village inn.

Q.And did you find your man? Somebody who wanted to kill me, if I am not mistaken.

C oF. I can tell my men talk too much.

Q.I don't know whether your men talk too much; Mademoiselle de Berg does and she always gets interested in things that should not concern her.

C oF.I wonder how that man knew that you were going to sleep here, in Oberwald. I, for one, didn't. Anyway, we organized a very good round up.

Q.And you failed. Your man is probably still running ...

C oF. My patrols don't deserve Your Majesty's criticism. They caught him.

Q.Interestingl

CoF.At dawn he was trying to escape toward the mountain. He must have been exhausted. He surrendered.

Q.Which kind of person is he? A laborer?

C oF. A poet.

Q.What?

C oF. Your Majesty, if you allow me to say so, is wrong in being interested In poets. They are people who end up bringing disorder to our society.

Q.You are saying that a poet wanted to kill me?

C oF.He did. But then he didn't show so much courage. In five minutes he sat at a table - so my men said - and confessed everything: he blabbed out the names of his accomplices, the place where they met. A good catch.

Q.Count, Master di Foehn, my congratulations! Yesterday I was upset by your absence and this afternoon I could have asked you whether you were coming to certify my death.

CoF.You are terrible, Your Majesty

Q.At times. Above all with myself, dear Count.

CoF.I apologize for this untimely visit that you must have considered very annoying, in this atmosphere of meditation and work. May I ask you about Mademoiselle de Berg?

Q.She is not feeling too well. Nothing serious. She is in her room. I'll tell her that you asked about her. Tony will see you out. Good bye, Count.

S.It 's monstrous.

Q.This is the way the Court is. I cause trouble for the Archduchess. The count favors a murderer. The murderer fails, Foehn abandons him. Do you understand? If you weren't hidden in this castle his men wouldn't have hesitated to eliminate you. Actually, it is because the Count is sure to eliminate you that he did not hesitate to talk to me about you.

S.I should give myself up.

Q..Nonsense! Foehn is looking for you. The reason for his visit was to find out what I knew and search the castle. Although I took precautions to avoid him meeting Mademoiselle de Berg, he suspects something. I am sure of Willenstein's silence, but the situation we find ourselves in escapes any police. I dragged you here by force, now it Is my turn to try to get a clear idea about the situation.

S.I am a difficult object , a dangerous one, am I not?

Q.You are a solitude in front of another solitude. This is what you are. It is the beauty of tragedy, its human, better superhuman interest. To put on the stage only beings who live above the laws. Who were we last night? I cite your words: 'We were an idea in front of an idea." and what are we now? A woman and a man, both hunted. Two people who are equal.

S.Why don't we go outside to talk. What I find most difficult to bear with my comrades is the fact that we don't talk.

QYou don't talk? I thought that every action of yours was preceded by a lot of talking, a lot of planning.

S.It was. But we never talked of our personal problems. Our personal problems did not matter. Our relationship with nature, for instance. Nature and men are the same, the men we have to hate, they are the only thing that matter.

Q.Does your mother live in the village?

S.I don't have a mother anymore. The peasant of Oberwald is my stepmother. I had hidden some papers there. I had to go and burn them.

Q.Could you see Count Foehn from your hiding place? His face?

S.Yes, I could see it.

Q. I am grateful to you for keeping your calm.

S.I resisted with all my strength not to come out. I would have strangled him.

Q.He would not have been surprised. That man considers me crazy and you insane. Yesterday, while he was in the inn in Oberwald, he was probably smiling saying to himself " The Queen believes she is a poem, the murderer believes he is a poet." All this is very amusing. Don't forget that your comrades probably share his view. Why did you have to burn some papers last night?

S.I was afraid they would do a search.

Q. Were they poems?

S.Not all of them.

Q.And after burning those poems or documents, what were you planning to do?

S.To kill the Queen. The newspapers would have said "The Queen falls victim to a savage attempt on her life." The Archduchness and the Count would watch your execution and wear mourning. There would be funeral services, bells ringing. Then a Regent would be appointed, as the constitution requires. The Archduchess would govern, but in fact it would be Count Foehn to govern. This is how politics works.

R. Who knowsl Maybe things would have been different.

Q.So, you were supposed to kill the Queen? Well, you have carried out your orders. That's done. You killed me. You killed this Queen, Sebastian, more than you wanted to. When I was a child they would torment me In order to prepare me to reign. They wanted me to become a queen and they wouldn't teach me how to spell. King Frederic was a great surprise for me. I thought only of love. I was going to become a woman, but I couldn't. I didn't live. They killed Frederic the eve of that extraordinary day. I buried myself in my castles. Then you arrived and upset this balance.

S. What quiet after the storm

Q.At first I didn't like that quiet. Now I do. I want the castle to stay the way it is now, as if it were under a spell.

S.There are balances formed by so many unknown details that one has to wonder if they can exist or if they may be destroyed by the slightest blow.

Q.I love you, Sebastian.

S.I love you too.

Q.Come here, near me. I loved you as soon as you came into my room, but then I was ashamed of myself. It is from Tony. Thank you. Mademoiselle de Berg threw a letter out of the window to the Count. So the Count knows everything. You don't have anything to fear for tonight. Mademoiselle de Berg will stay in her room until I decide what to do. She is the only one who can enter my quarters. Tomorrow morning Tony will take you through the mountains to my former hunting pavillion. Not far from it there is a farm with some trustworthy keepers and then ?

S.There is no then.

Q. Sebastianl

S.Listen. I believe you and you must believe me. You lived outside real life and it is my duty to help you. You saved me. Now I have to save you. The Queen has to govern, she has to accept the burden of power. They conspire against you and you don't do anything. You must change the way you live. Go back to the capital, speak to the Archduchess as a queen, not as a daughter-in-law. Appoint the Duke of Willenstein as general in chief, instead of Count of Foehn, and give Count of Foehn's soldiers to him. You don't have to dissolve the Houses or appoint new ministers . They obey someone ruling with a firm hand and I can see you doing it already. No one will touch you, I assure you. I will live in the mountains. I have known them forever. No police will be able to find me and when you want me, you'll have them shoot a cannon shot. I'll know then that you are announcing your victory. I'll join you, then.

F.Hurry up, hurry upl

Q. Well, Felix? What a face? Why are you surprised? Oh, I forgot. I am showing my face to two men. I left my veil, Felix, I'm going back to the Court. We will leave all tomorrow morning. Have the carriage and gig ready. Mademoiselle de Berg is leaving my service. The Archduchess will hire her as one of her maids of honor. As soon as we get Into the city, you will occupy the forts. You will precede me to the city with hundred and fifty men. Tomorrow at noon you will gather all my cavalry in the yard of the castle and as soon as I arrive you will have the royal anthem played. It will mark the beginning of my reign. I rely on your devotion to me and your loyalty to my cause. You can go. Are you pleased with your pupil?

S. Quite.

E. Good morning. Am I disturbing you?

S.The Queen wants to take some books with her and I was reading them.

E .Is she riding?

S.She is. I think she is riding in the forest. She said she would be back about noon. You haven't seen her yet?

E .I was a prisoner, my dear Sir. Tony finally came to open my door at 10.00. I wasn't informed about the extraordinary trip to be taken.

S. Yes. I think the Queen wants to go back to the capital.

E .For a young man like you it will be marvelous to follow the Queen to the Court. You must be very happy.

S.Her Majesty doesn't do me the honor of taking me with her. I'll stay here in Oberwald.

E .I know Her Majesty. She'll be back after three days. She'll go to Wolmar or she'll go to the lakes. Do you know Count Foehn?

S. No.

E .He is an exceptional man. It may surprise you but I have a little assignment on behalf of the Count.

S. For me?

F. For you.

S. I though he had already left Oberwald.

E.He was supposed to leave at dawn but he may have been disconcerted by what is happening here. They accuse me of being nosy, but the count's curiosity is boundless. He is still in Oberwald. I saw him a minute ago. He is looking for you.

S.I can't see how somebody like me may interest Count Foehn.

E .He did not tell me. But he wants to see you.

S.It is a great honor for me, but is the Queen informed about this?

E .You see, Count Foehn would rather the Queen not to be troubled for a simple investigation. He told me to tell you that he was asking to talk to you as help and that the Queen's tranquillity was at stake.

S.I don't know the Court that well. Is this the way the Chief of Police would formulate an order?

E.More or less.

S.I suppose that Count Foehn does not wish our conversation, as you put it, to be heard by the Queen.

E.He doesn't.

S.What if the Queen comes back and looks for me?

E .The Queen is riding and when she does she goes very far. There is no danger and then I'll see to it that nothing goes wrong.

S.You are very loyal to Count Foehn.

E .I am devoted to the Queen, my dear Sir. It is the same thing.

S.I am at the Chief of Police's orders.

E.But why do you always say 'Chief of Police'? It is Count Foehn, the minister, who wants to see you.

CoF.I apologize for disturbing you, but in my capacity I never know in advance what I'll have to do. My job, even if this may sound bizarre to you, entails some poetry, better still is based on the imponderable. But you are a poet, isn't it true, and you can understand me better than anybody else. You are a poet, isn't it true?

S.At times I happen to write verses.

CoF.One of your poems was published by a leftist newspaper. The Queen, who doesn't dislike rebellion, was interested. She had very many copies made and had them distributed to everyone at the Court.

S.That poem doesn't have any value for me and I was surprised when I heard that Her Majesty had read it.

CoF.I' m not interested in knowing how Her Majesty who, I repeat, is completely free in her actions, got in touch with you . I'll know it, when I return. What I want to know now is what was your role here in Oberwald and how you managed to make her change in such a radical way, as nobody would have expected.

S.Which role are you referring to, Mr. Foehn? Her Majesty was kind enough to try me as her reader. That's my role. I could not aspire to anything else.

CoF.Fine. Now, since your presence in Oberwald has nothing to do with the Queen's change, would you explain me yours?

S.I don't understand you.

CoF.I'm asking you to explain to me how a young writer of the opposition suddenly decides to serve power.

S. It happens that by chance some people are pushed into unsuitable circles. The Queen was accused of many turpitudes. I decided to accept her offer and judge with my own eyes in order to be able to act accordingly.

CoF.You bear a striking resemblance to the King. What does the Queen think of it?

S.I believe my resemblance to the King helped me more than my personal merits.

CoF. Damn! In the hands of some people this resemblance could stimulate the imagination of the people and create legends. We die of legends, they suffocate us. The Queen's legend causes big problems. This is why I wanted to thank you for the decision taken by Her Majesty, a really wise decision. I want to give you an example of my sincerity. Don't think you are in front of the Chief of Police. We are just chatting. Come and sit here. To be sincere, when I was with the Queen I thought you were witnessing, not seen, our conversation. Be calm, I didn't say you listened to our conversation, I merely said that I had that impression. The Chief of Police must always be suspicious. And the next day in the library, I used with you a trick that almost never falls. I told Her Majesty that my men had caught you and you had confessed a plan to kill her. Be calm.

S.What do you want from me?

CoF. I'll tell you. I don't believe what you want to make me believe - not even a word of it. But I like the idea of you trying. I like you. The Queen has decided to break off her funerary habits and retake her place at the Court. We know she took this decision also because of your enthusiasm. But what would be the purpose of a spectacular trip if it were only like a firework show? It wouldn't serve any purpose. Instead the Queen this time has to go back to public life convinced that the Archduchess is her friend and doesn't plot behind her back on the contrary, she is only pushed by her desire to relieve her of the burden of governing. The Archduchess is used to it since she took upon herself the nasty part of it and endures it with heroism. A man would be needed, a man who doesn't belong to the Court, who agrees to convince the Queen that the Archduchess loves her as a daughter and only tries to take upon herself the boring task of that obscure job that is governing. Who could that man be? Do you begin to understand me?

S.It couldn't be me. The role of a courtesan is a role I don't want to play, that I don't know how to play.

Cof.If you think in those terms it is clear you don't want to cooperate.

S.Count, I was hidden in the library, I heard everything.

CoF.I never doubted it.

S.The Queen wanted to know the opinion of an ordinary man. I, by chance, had one. For me protocol doesn't exist: the Queen was asking questions, I would tell her what I thought.

CoF.And could I know what you think?

S.I think the Archduchess is bothered by a Queen one never sees. It is not enough for her to spread awful rumors on the Queen's account. She plots to attract her to the capital, to exasperate her, to humiliate her, to push her to her limits and to make everybody believe that she is mad. This way she could get the two Houses to interdict her and freeze her patrimony.

CoF. What an imaginationl Time is passing by and the Queen can arrive at any moment. Let's put all the cards out in the open. In one day you managed to obtain from the Queen what we couldn't in ten years. I am not asking you to admit it, nor to tell me how you did it. Instead I am asking you again to do your best to follow her to the capital and prevent the chaos that would certainly derive from the Queen's hostility towards the Archduchess, the Ministers, the Crown Council. Have I been clear?

S. I understand you less and less. In my opinion the Court which, like any other Court, is similar to a slaughter-house, would take a very short time to consider absolutely scandalous the fact that the last to arrive has such an influence.

CoF. The Court is like a slaughter-house, granted, and one cannot get rid of the Court with one lash. But the Queen may choose the reader she likes, provided the Archduchess approves. Without our approval you are an object of scandal. But if you are supported by the Archduchess and her ministers, you are not an object of scandal anymore and because of your resemblance to the King, the Court will be fascinated by you. The power of the Queen has its limits. The power of the Chief of Police, none.

S.And if I stay in Oberwald?

CoF. You are charged with criminal complicity in a plan for an attempt on Her Majesty's life. I have a warrant for your arrest in my pocket.

S.If I accept, what are you going to give me in return?

CoF.The greatest gift on the earth: freedom.

S.Let's be clear: if my mysterious influence does exist and I use it to hand the Queen over to you with her hands and feet tied, do you pledge to erase my name from the black lists of the police?

CoF. Who said anything about handing the Queen over? And to whom, my God? And why? What we are asking you is only to serve as a liaison agent between two fields that are believed to be hostile, even if in reality they are not, since they both defend the same cause. Be reasonablel Do you realize that for the last half hour I havebeen trying to save your life?

S. I'm staying.

CoF. It is a shame we haven't been able to come to an agreement. But I like you, as I told you before, and since I love poetry - even if this may surprise you - I am going to grant you an hour to say good bye to the Queen. Remember that the castle is surrounded. I'll wait for you at the entrance door on the servants' side.

Felix:My goodness! Yesterday it was so dark I couldn't see you well. You undoubtedly look like the King.

Edith: I congratulate you, Sir. Her Majesty has just informed me that I am no more part of her retinue. I?ll be back at the Archduchess's service. I suppose that the fact I was fired means that you are taking my place.

Felix:Edithl

Edith:Leave me in peace. Is it so?

S.I have already told you that I am not following the Queen to the Court.

E .Are you staying in Oberwald?

S.Neither in Oberwald nor at the Court. I am leaving.
But then if nobody replaces me could you tell me why I fell in disfavor?

F. Edith, pleasel Let's not mix a stranger up in our private affairs.

E. As if he did not meddle in theml I can see only one tWOq. I was the Queen's reader and I am not any more because you arrived. What did you tell her? What did you put into her head?

G. Her majesty!

Q. Is it you, Mademoiselle de Berg, that is shouting that way? Do you plan to spend your life arguing with poor Duke of Willenstein? Good morning, Felix. Please leave us. I suppose you'?l have a lot of things to do and say before our departure. So Felix, is Edith continuing to torture you? I summoned you to organize the preparations for the escort. But first I want to take care of the books. I'll call you in a little while. Willenstein was looking at me with wide eyes. I have been rather hard on Edith de Berg. They probably think I am nervous about my departure. The truth is I couldn?t take it anymore, I wanted to be alone with you! My love!

R. Say it again.

Q. My love! Today my horse was like a thunderbolt, he wasn?t galloping, he was flying. It seemed as if he wanted to jump, to swim in the air, to leave me on the other side of the lake. Then he suddenly stopped on the edge of the void and the only reason is that he is not in love, poor thing! I have enormous desire to live while before I thought only unhappiness was worth living! But if happiness is as terrible as unhappiness, then it is marvelous! I feel as if I am discovering the world!

R. I also couldn?t see anything before, you know? How many things I learned in two days.

Q. This morning, too, I had taken with me the medallion with the poison. Death, that is within it, kept whispering in my ears: ?You want to live, my girl. This is what is new.? I removed it in my room. I left it there. I?ll get it again when I am as old as the Archduchess and you don't love me anymore.

S.I'll throw it in the lake.

Q.Will you throw in the lake your poem also? You wrote it for me.

S.Yes, for you.

Q.But then were you always thinking about me?

S.I was obsessed.

Q.Poor lovel

S.Now my rebellion will be aimed at those who want to harm you, who conspire against you, who plot, since the only thing they want is power.

Q.Always stick to your rebellion, I love it also in you. Will you be sorry if I leave Oberwald?

S.I was the one to beg you to leave. If you were to stay I would leave.

Q.And if I stayed with you? To live near you. If I gave up my reign for you? Would you leave Oberwald? Would you leave me?

S.It didn't take me long to understand all the intrigues of the Court, the tricks of the protocol, and bureaucracy. This air at your back Is destroying your life. Let's flee quickly, my Queen, you in one direction, I in another one. Let?s meet secretly, like two thieves.

Q.Tomorrow I'll be in the capital and I'll try the act of force. I'll do this thanks to you and for you. You know my hunting pavilion. You will wait for news from me there. In two weeks I'll be back in Oberwald

S. Yes, love.

Q.Don't trust anybody for any reason. I'll send you some books.

S.Yes.

Q.I still have to give Felix some orders. Go into my apartment. I'll join you there before my departure. I have to learn to part from you. It isn't easy.

S.What we are about to do is not easy also. Hurry up giving your orders.

F.At Your Majesty's orders.

Q.Are we ready?

F.At one o'clock you'll only have to climb into your carriage and leave.

Q.I have changed my mind, Felix. I'll ride. The carriage reminds me of the King's tragic end. Do you see any problem if I ride? Since I am going to start showing my face it's better that I do it as much as possible. What do you think? Don't be afraid.

F.Does Your Majesty know that Count of Foehn is traveling with us?

Q. I thought he had left Oberwald this morning.

F.He probably learned of Your Majesty's decision. He is in Oberwald for sure. I saw him. He told me he would take care of organizing the maintenance of law and order.

Q.Let him organize it, I'll do it by myself. How many men do you have at your disposal?

FOne hundred cavalry men and a hundred and fifty guards.

Q.And how many men are there in the Count's patrol?

F.Fifty.

Q.Very well. At the last halt , before entering the city, arrest Count of Foehn. Arrest Count of Foehn and his men. It is an order. Take the prisoner to the fortress. You'll have full power. Have all the political prisoners released. They are free. That will be the first act of my reign. Why that face?

F.If you allow me, under such serious circumstances I would prefer not to leave Your Majesty.

Q.Right. It is logical that you make the solemn entry with me. Do you trust the commander of your soldiers?

F.As if he were me.

Q.Then you will trust him with Count of Foehn and his men, and since this surprise is my present for the Archduchess you will give him the Count as if he were the apple of my eye.

F.I'll follow Your Majesty's orders.

Q.Edith de Berg will travel in the some carriage as Count of Foehn. An ideal Couple. After the last halt she'll have all the carriage to herself and will be more at ease to reflect. Willenstein, I ask you never to forget what I said and serve witness in front of all men that whatever may happen I willed so. What did you do? Where's the medallion? Where is it? Give it to me.

S.The medallion is in your room.

Q..Empty? Sebastian!

S.You had explained to me what happens when one swallows that capsule. I have very little time left to live. I wanted to see you before your departure. During your absence this morning Count Foehn warned me he was going to arrest me. He gave me time till one o'clock. The police control all exits.

Q.The Queen was protecting you. You had nothing to fear.

S.I realized it was better to leave you free and disappear.

Q.You are a coward.

S.Maybe.

Q.You advised me, pushed me, tore me from my peace. Don't come near me. You betrayed me. You were supposed to kill me and you didn't do it.

S.I love you.

Q.You love mel You are losing your head. I order you to address me in a different tone. You are in front of the Queen.

S.I couldn't do it.

Q.You have robbed mel Robbedl I'll tell you what I didn't want to tell you, but you deserve to know now. Here everything is false, it is an intrigue. I thought you realized that. To take you with me embarassed me, and I felt the same way seeing you mingle in the State's affairs. If the castle is surrounded by the police it is just to obey my orders. My ordersl

S.You are lyingl

Q.Don't you know that queens lie? Remember your poem, you describe in it queens as they actually are. I'll tell you their secrets and mine too. I decided, yes, I decided - because I can decide - that I would charm you, win you and everything worked beautifully. You believed everything.

S.You are performing on me I don't know which kind of horrible experiment. I steal a poison that you carried with you and I kill myself with it and I give you a trial that surely your enemies would have used to their advantage to get you involved in a scandal. Just a momentl You were the one to explain to me this delayed suicide and praise its advantages. You were the one to tell me you had removed your medallion from your neck and left it in your room. Answer me!

Q.I am not used to being questioned nor to answering questions. I don't have to answer for my actions. I used you. I took you where I wanted to. I had to hand you over to Count of Foehn. You chose a different way. You preferred your justice to mine: as you like. You shouldn't have betrayed your comrades who trusted you. You were their weapon . You not only you betrayed them but-you had them arrested. How could I trust a traitor? How could I trust someone who denied his ideas before my own eyes? I despise you. They are calling me. I won't have the pleasure of seeing you die. Forgive me, my love. I had to make you go crazy. You would have never killed me. So beautiful, my love-


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