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Full Online Book HomePlaysWin Or Lose - Act 2: Scene 1 To Scene 8
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Win Or Lose - Act 2: Scene 1 To Scene 8 Post by :kashaziz Category :Plays Author :Henryk Sienkiewicz Date :May 2012 Read :2735

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Win Or Lose - Act 2: Scene 1 To Scene 8

ACT II: SCENE I TO SCENE VIII

(The stage represents the same drawing-room.)


SCENE I

(Jozwowicz. Anton.)


DOCTOR. Anton, come here. We can talk quietly, for they are preparing my room. What news from the city?

ANTON. Good news. In an hour or so a delegation of the voters will be here. You must say something to them--you understand? Something about education--public roads, heavy taxes. You know what to say better than I do.

DOCTOR. I know, I know; and how do they like my platform?

ANTON. You have made a great hit. I congratulate you. It is written with scientific accuracy. The papers of the Conservative party have gone mad with wrath.

DOCTOR. Very good. What more?

ANTON. Three days ago your election was doubtful in the suburbs. I learned about it, however--gathered the electors and made a speech. "Citizens," I said, in the end, "I know only one remedy for all your misery--it is called Jozwowicz. Long live Progress!" I also attacked the Conservative party.

DOCTOR. Anton, you are a great boy. Then there is a hope of victory?

ANTON. Almost a surety. And then, even if we do not win now, the future is open to us. And do you know why? Because--leaving out the details of the election, you and I, while talking of our business affairs, need not laugh at each other, like Roman augurs. Progress and truth are on our side, and every day makes a new breach in the old wall. We are only aiding the centuries and we must conquer. I am talking calmly: Our people, our electors are merely sheep, but we wish to make men of them, and therein lies our strength. As for me, if I were not persuaded that in my principles lie truth and progress, I would spit on everything and become a monk.

DOCTOR. But it would be a dreadful thing if we do not win this time.

ANTON. I am sure we will win. You are a fearful candidate for our adversaries. You have only one antagonist who is at all dangerous--Husarski, a rich and popular nobleman.

DOCTOR. Once I am in parliament, I will try to accomplish something.

ANTON. I believe in you, and for that reason I am working for you. Ha! ha! "They have already taken from us everything," said Count Hornicki at the club yesterday, "importance, money--even good manners." Well, at least I have not taken their good manners from them. To the devil with them!

DOCTOR. No, you have truly not taken their good manners from them.

ANTON. But it is said in the city that your prince has given a thousand florins to those whose houses were burned. This may be bad for us. You must do something also.

DOCTOR. I did what I could.

ANTON. I must also tell you that yesterday--What is the matter with you? I am talking to you and you are thinking about something else.

DOCTOR. Excuse me. I am in great trouble. I cannot think as calmly as usual.

ANTON. The idea!

DOCTOR. You could not understand it.

ANTON. I am the coachman of the carriage in which you are riding--I must know everything.

DOCTOR. No. It does not concern you.

ANTON. It does concern me, because you are losing your energy. We have no need of any Hamlets.

DOCTOR (gloomily).--You are mistaken. I have not given up.

ANTON. I see. You close your mouth on this subject. It is not in your character to give up.

DOCTOR. No. You must work to have me elected. I would lose doubly if we were bitten.

ANTON. They must have burned you like the deuce, for you hiss dreadfully.

DOCTOR. An old story. A peasant did not sleep for six years, did not eat, bent his neck, wounded his hands, and carried logs for a hut. After six years a lord came along, kicked the hut and said: "My castle shall stand here." We are sceptical enough to laugh at such things.

ANTON. He was a real lord!

DOCTOR. A lord for generations. He carried his head so high that he did not notice what cracked beneath his feet.

ANTON. I like the story. And what about the peasant?

DOCTOR. According to the peasant tradition, he is thinking of a flint and tinder.

ANTON. Glorious idea! Truly we despise tradition too much. There are good things in it.

DOCTOR. Enough. Let us talk of something else.

ANTON (looking around).--An old and rich house. It would make a splendid cabin.

DOCTOR. What do you say?

ANTON. Nothing. Has the old prince a daughter?

DOCTOR. Yes. Why?

ANTON (laughing).--Ha, ha! Your trouble has the scent of a perfume used by a lady. I smell here the petticoat of the princess. Behind the member of parliament is Jozwowicz, just as behind the evening dress there is the morning gown. What a strong perfume!

DOCTOR. You may sell your perspicacity at another market. It is my personal affair.

ANTON. Not at all, for it means that you put only half your soul into public affairs. To the deuce with such business! Look at me. They howl at me in the newspapers, they laugh at me--but I do not care. I will tell you more! I feel that I shall never rise, although I am not lacking in strength nor intelligence. I could try to get the first place in camp to command, but I do not do it. Why? Because I know myself very well. Because I know that I am lacking in order, authority, tact. I have been and I am a tool, used by such as you, and which to-morrow may be kicked aside when it is no more needed. But my self-love does not blind me. I do not care most for myself--I am working for my convictions--that is all. Any day I may be ousted from my position. There is often misery in my house, and although I love my wife and children--no matter. When it is a question of my convictions, I will work, act, agitate. I put my whole soul in it. And for you, the petticoat of a princess bars your way. I did not expect this from you. Tfu! spit on everything and come with us.

DOCTOR. You are mistaken. I have no desire for martyrdom, but for victory. And the more personal ties there are between me and public affairs, the more I will serve them with my mind, heart, and deeds--with all that constitutes a man. Do you understand?

ANTON. Amen. His eyes shine like the eyes of a wolf--now I recognize you.

DOCTOR. What more do you wish?

ANTON. Nothing more. I will only tell you that our motto should be: Attack the principles, and not the people.

DOCTOR. Your virginal virtue may rest assured. I shall not poison any one.

ANTON. I believe you, but I must tell you that I know you well. I appreciate your energy, your learning, your common sense, but I should not like to cross you in anything.

DOCTOR. So much the better for me.

ANTON. But if it is a question of the nobility, notwithstanding our programme I make you a present of them. You shall not cut their heads off.

DOCTOR. To be sure. And now go and get to work for me--or rather, for us.

ANTON. For us, Jozwowicz. Do not forget that.

DOCTOR. I will not swear it to you, but I promise you that I will not forget.

ANTON. But how will you manage that nobleman?

DOCTOR. Do you require that I make you my confidant?

ANTON. In the first place, I do not need your confidence, because in our camp we have sufficient perspicacity. There is the matter of the prince's daughter--that is all. But I am always afraid that for her sake you will abandon public affairs. As I am working for you, I am responsible for you, therefore we must be frank.

DOCTOR. Let us be frank.

ANTON. Therefore you have said to yourself: I shall get rid of that nobleman. Do it then. It is your business--but I ask you once more: Do you wish to become a member of parliament for us, or for the princess? That is my business.

DOCTOR. I throw my cards on the table. I, you, we are all new people, and all of us have this quality--we are not dolls, painted with the same color. There is room in us for convictions, love, hatred--in a word, as I told you, for everything of which a man of complex nature is composed. Nature has given me a heart and the right to live, therefore I desire for happiness; it gave me a mind, therefore I serve my chosen idea. One does not exclude the other. Why should you mix the princess with our public affairs--you, an intelligent man? Why do you wish to replace life by a phrase? I have the right to be happy, and I shall achieve it. And I shall know how to harmonize the idea with the life, like a sail with a boat. I shall sail more surely then. You must understand me; in that is our strength--that we know how to harmonize. In that lies our superiority over others, for they do not know how to live. What I will amount to with that woman, I do not know. You call me a Hamlet--perhaps I may become a Hamlet, but you have no need of it.

ANTON. It seems to me that you are again right. But thus you will fight two battles, and your forces will have to be divided.

DOCTOR. No! I am strong enough.

ANTON. Say frankly--she is betrothed.

DOCTOR. Yes.

ANTON. And she loves her fiance.

DOCTOR. Or she deceives herself.

ANTON. At any rate, she does not love you.

DOCTOR. In the first place, I must get rid of him. In the mean while, go and work.

ANTON (consulting watch).--In a few moments the committee will be here to see you.

DOCTOR. Very well. The prince is coming with the Countess Miliszewska and her son, my opponent. Let us be going.

 

 

SCENE II

(Prince, Stella, Mrs. Czeska, Countess Miliszewska, Jan Miliszewski, Podczaski.)


COUNTESS. It is impossible to understand. The world grows wild nowadays.

PRINCE. I say the same. Stella, do I not say so?

STELLA. Very often.

COUNTESS (low to her son).--Sit near the princess and entertain her. Go ahead!

JAN. I am going, mamma.

COUNTESS. There is too much of that audacity. I have sent Mr. Podczaski to the electors, and they say: "We do not need representatives without heads." I am only surprised that the prince is not more indignant. I rush here and there, I pray and work, and they dare to oppose to my son Mr. Jozwowicz.

PRINCE. But madam, what can I do?

COUNTESS. And who is Mr. Jozwowicz--a physician? What does a doctor amount to? Jan has influence, importance, social position, relatives--and what has the doctor? From whence did he come here? Who ever heard of him? Really, I cannot speak calmly, and I think it must be the end of the world. Is it not, Mr. Podczaski?

PODCZASKI (saluting).--Yes, countess, God's wrath. There were never such loud thunders.

PRINCE. Thunders? Mrs. Czeska, what? Have your heard thunder?

CZESKA. It is a very usual thing at the end of spring. Do not mind it.

COUNTESS (in a low voice).--Jan, go ahead.

JAN. Yes, mamma, I am going.

COUNTESS. Prince, you will see that Jan will not be elected purely on account of the hatred against us. They say that he does not know the country, and does not understand its needs. But before all we must not allow such people as Jozwowicz to become important in the country. Prince, is it not so?

PRINCE. He will not ask your permission.

COUNTESS. That is exactly why the world must be coming to an end--that such people can do as they please! They dare to say that Jan will not be able to make a good representative, and that Mr. Jozwowicz will. Jan was always an excellent student in Metz. Jan, were you not a good student?

JAN. Yes, mamma.

PODCZASKI. Countess, you are perfectly right. It is the end of the world.

STELLA. What did you study especially?

JAN. I, madam? I studied the history of heresy.

Princess.--Mrs. Czeska--what? Have studied what?

COUNTESS. They reproach us with not having talent, but for diplomacy one must have talent.

PODCZASKI. The count does even look like a diplomat.

PRINCE (aside).--Well, not very much.

CZESKA. The count does not have much to say.

JAN. No, madam, but sometimes I speak quite enough.

COUNTESS. For my part, I declare that if Jan is not elected, we will leave the country.

PODCZASKI. They will be guilty of it.

COUNTESS. It will be the fault of the prince.

PRINCE. Mine?

COUNTESS. How can you permit such as Jozwowicz to compete with society people? Why do you retain him?

PRINCE. Frankly speaking, it is not I who keep him--it is he who keeps me. If it were not for him, I should long since be (he makes a gesture).

COUNTESS (angrily).--By keeping him, you serve the democracy.

PRINCE. I--I serve the democracy? Stella, do you hear? (He raps with his stick.)

COUNTESS. Every one will say so. Mr. Jozwowicz is the democratic candidate.

PRINCE. But I am not, and if it is so I will not allow him to be. I have enough of Mr. Jozwowicz's democracy. They shall not say that I am the tool of democracy. (He rings the bell. A servant enters.) Ask the doctor to come here.

COUNTESS. Now the prince is a true prince.

PRINCE. I serve democracy, indeed!

STELLA. Papa, dear.

COUNTESS. We must bid the prince good-bye. Jan, get ready. Good-bye, dear Stella. Good-bye, my child. (To her son.) Kiss the princess's hand.

 

SCENE III.

(The same.)

JOZWOWICZ. Your Highness must excuse me if I am too late, but I was obliged to receive the delegates.

COUNTESS. What delegates are here? Jan, go ahead.

DOCTOR (saluting).--Count, you must hasten, they are leaving.

PODCZASKI. I am Your Highness's servant. (Countess, Jan, Podczaski go out. Stella and Mrs. Czeska follow them.)

 

 

SCENE IV.

(Jozwowicz. Prince. (A moment of silence.))


PRINCE (rapping with his stick).--I forbid you to become a member of parliament.

DOCTOR. I shall not obey.

PRINCE. You make me angry.

DOCTOR. Your Highness closes to me the future.

PRINCE (angrily).--I have brought you up.

DOCTOR. I preserve Your Highness's life.

PRINCE. I have been a second father to you.

DOCTOR. Your Highness, let us speak calmly. If you have been to me a father, I have until now been to you a son. But the father must not bar to his son the road to distinction.

PRINCE. Public distinction is not for such people as you, sir.

DOCTOR (laughing).--A moment ago Your Highness called me a son.

PRINCE. What son?

DOCTOR. Your Highness, were I your son I would be rich and have a title--in a word everything Your Highness possesses. But being a poor man, I must make my way, and no one has the right to bar it to me, especially if my road is straight and honest. (Laughing.) Unless Your Highness would like to adopt me in order to preserve the family.

PRINCE. What nonsense you are talking.

DOCTOR. I am only joking. Well, Your Highness, let us cease this irritation.

PRINCE. It is true, it hurts me. Why will you not give up the idea of becoming a member of parliament?

DOCTOR. It is my future.

PRINCE. And in the mean time I am vexed by every one on that account. When I was young I was in many battles and I did not fear. I can show my decorations. I was not afraid of death on the battlefield, but those Latin illnesses of yours--Why do you look at me in that way?

DOCTOR. I am looking as usual. As for your illness, I will say that it is more the imagination of Your Highness than anything else. The constitution is strong, and with my assistance Your Highness will live to the age of Methusaleh.

PRINCE. Are you sure of it?

DOCTOR. Positive.

PRINCE. Good boy! And you will not leave me?

DOCTOR. Your Highness may be assured of that.

PRINCE. Then you may become a member of parliament or whatever you please. Stella! Oh, she is not here! Upon my honor, that Miliszewski is an ass. Don't you think so?

DOCTOR. I cannot contradict Your Highness.

 

 

SCENE V.

(The same. Stella and Mrs. Czeska.)


STELLA. I came because I was afraid you would quarrel. Well, what is the end of the discussion?

PRINCE. Well, that good-for-nothing man will do what he pleases.

DOCTOR. The fact is that the prince has approved of my plans and has granted me permission to try my luck at the election.

Mrs. CZESKA. We had better all go to the garden. Mr. Pretwic and Count Drahomir are waiting--we are going for a sail on the lake.

PRINCE. Then let us be going (they go out). You see, madam, that Miliszewska!

 

 

SCENE VI

(Jozwowicz, Stella. Then Drahomir.)


STELLA. How is my father's health?

DOCTOR. All that can be expected. But you are pale, princess.

STELLA. Oh, I am well.

DOCTOR. It is the consequence of the betrothal.

STELLA. It must be.

DOCTOR. But health requires one to be merry--to enjoy life.

STELLA. I do not wish for any other distraction.

DOCTOR. If not distraction, at least enjoyment. We here are too grave for you. Perhaps we cannot understand you.

STELLA. You are all too good.

DOCTOR. At least solicitous. If you have a moment to spare let us be seated and have a talk. My solicitude must explain my boldness. With the dignity of a fiance, serenity and happiness generally go hand in hand. When the heart is given willingly, all longing ceases and the future is viewed with serenity.

STELLA. My future contains something which might cause even the most valiant to fear.

DOCTOR. Of what are you talking? You have called me a sceptic, but it is I who says: who loves, believes.

STELLA. What then?

DOCTOR. Who doubts?

STELLA. Doctor.

DOCTOR. Princess, I do not inquire. There are moments when the serenity visibly departs from your face, therefore I question you, which is my duty as a physician and a friend. Be calm. Pray, remember that this is asked by a man whom a while ago you called "brother," and who knows how dear to him is the happiness of such a sister! I have no one in this world--all my love of family is centred in your house. My heart has also its sorrows. Pray, quiet my apprehensions--that is all I ask you.

STELLA. What apprehensions?

DOCTOR. Apprehensions of which I dare not speak. Since my return I have watched you constantly, and the more I watch you the more do I fear. You fear the future--you do not look into it with confidence and hope.

STELLA. Permit me to go.

DOCTOR. No, madam. I have the right to ask, and if you fear to look into the bottom of your heart, then I have the right to say that you lack courage, and for such sinful weakness one pays later with his own happiness and the happiness of others. I suffer also--but I must--I must. Madam, listen to me. If in your heart there is even the shadow of a doubt, you have mistaken your sentiments.

STELLA. Is it possible to make such a mistake?

DOCTOR. Yes. Sometimes--often one mistakes sympathy, pity, commiseration for love.

STELLA. What a dreadful mistake!

DOCTOR. Which one recognizes as soon as the heart flies in another direction. The dignity of a fiance is a hidden pain. If I am mistaken, pray forgive me.

STELLA. Doctor, I do not wish to think of such things.

DOCTOR. Then I am not mistaken. Do not look on me with fear. I wish to save you, my dear child. Where is your heart? The moment that you recognize you do not love Mr. Pretwic, that moment will tell you whom you do love. No, I shall not withdraw my question. Where is your heart? By God, if he is not equal to you, he shall rise to your height! But no, I have become a madman.

STELLA. I must be going.

DOCTOR (barring the way).--No, you shall not go until you have given me an answer. Whom do you love?

STELLA. Doctor, spare me--otherwise I shall doubt everything. Have pity on me.

DOCTOR (brutally)--Whom do you love?

 

 

SCENE VII

(The same. Drahomir)


DRAHOMIR. Princess.

STELLA. Ah!

DRAHOMIR. What! Have I frightened you? I came to tell you that the boats are waiting. What is the matter with you?

STELLA. Nothing. Let us be going.

(Drahomir offers his arm--they go out.)

 


SCENE VIII

DOCTOR (alone--looking after them).--Oh! I--under--stand!

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