FAUST. MARGARET (passing by).
Faust. My fair young lady, may I make so free
As to lend you my arm and company?
Margaret. I'm not a lady, am not fair;
I can go home without your care.
She frees herself and exits.
Faust. By heaven, but this child is fair!
I've never seen her equal anywhere!
So virtuous, modest, through and through,
Yet with a bit of curtness too.
Her ruby lips, her cheek's clear bloom,
I'll not forget till the day of doom!
And then how she casts down her eyes,
Stamped deeply in my heart it lies!
How curt and short were her replies,
That fills me with sheer ecstasy!
Faust. Hear, you must get that girl for me!
Mephistopheles. Well, which one, then?
Faust. She just went by.
Mephistopheles. That one? She was just coming from her priest,
Absolved from every sin, down to the least.
Hard by the chair I stole quite nigh.
She's innocent in deed and thought
And went to confession all for naught.
Over her I have no power.
Faust. She's over fourteen years old even so.
Mephistopheles. My word! You talk like gay Lothario
Who covets for himself each lovely flower
And fancies, puffed up, there's no honour, no,
Nor favour that he may not cull;
But yet that is not always possible.
Faust. Sir Master Worshipful, I beg you, pause
And leave me in peace with all your laws!
And this I say- few words are best-
Unless that sweet young maiden lays
Her head this night upon my breast,
At midnight we've gone different ways.
Mephistopheles. Consider well what can and can not be.
I'll need at least some fourteen days
But to scent out an opportunity.
Faust. Had I but seven hours' rest, no need
Of devil would I have, to lead
A little creature such as this astray.
Mephistopheles. You're talking almost like a Frenchman. Pray
Don't let yourself be vexed beyond due measure.
What good is it to reap immediate pleasure?
The joy's not near so great, I say,
As if you first prepare the ground
With every sort of idle folly,
Knead and make ready your pretty dolly,
As many Romance tales expound.
Faust. I've appetite without that too.
Mephistopheles. Now jests aside, no more ado.
With that good, lovely child, indeed,
I tell you once for all, we can't use speed.
There's nothing here to take by storm;
To strategy we must conform.
Faust. Get something that the angel owns for me!
Oh, lead me to her place of rest!
Get me a kerchief from her breast,
A garter to my ecstasy!
Mephistopheles. Now just to prove that I will be
Of helpful service in your agony,
We'll lose no moment in delay.
I'll lead you to her room this very day.
Faust. And shall I see her? have her?
For she'll be at a neighbour's for a chat or so.
While she is gone, all by yourself you may
Enjoy her atmosphere till you are sated
And feast on all the hope of joys anticipated.
Faust. Can we go there?
Mephistopheles. It is too early yet.
Faust. Provide a gift for her and don't forget.
Mephistopheles. Ah, gifts at once? That's good! He'll make a hit!
Full many a lovely place I know
And many a treasure buried long ago.
I must survey the ground a bit.
A NEAT LITTLE ROOM
Margaret (plaiting and binding up her braids of hair).
I would give something, could I say
Who was that gentleman today!
Right gallant did he seem to be
And of some noble family.
That from his brow I could have told-
Else he would not have been so bold.
MEPHISTOPHELES and FAUST.
Mephistopheles. Come! come in! and on tiptoe!
Faust (after a silence). Leave me alone here, I entreat!
Mephistopheles (peering about).
Not every girl keeps things so neat.
Faust (looking up and around). Welcome, O thou sweet twilight glow
That through this shrine art stirring to and fro.
Sweet agony of love, possess this heart of mine,
Thou who on dews of hope dost live and yet dost pine.
What sense of quiet breathes around,
Of order, of contentedness!
What riches in this poverty abound!
Within this prison, ah! what blessedness!
He throws himself on the leather arm-chair by the bed.
Oh, welcome me, thou who the world now gone
Didst once receive in joy and sorrow, open-armed!
How often, ah! around this fathers'-throne
A flock of children clinging swarmed!
And, thankful for the Christmas gift, maybe
My darling here, her childish cheeks filled out,
Kissed grandsire's withered hand devotedly.
I feel, O maid, thy spirit radiate
Abundance, order, round about,
That, motherly, instructs thee day by day,
Bids thee the cloth upon the table neatly lay,
Even make the sand at thy feet decorate.
O darling hand! So godlike in thy ministry!
The hut becomes a realm of Heaven through thee.
He lifts one of the bed curtains.
What bliss and awe lay hold on me!
Here for whole hours I fain would tarry.
O Nature! Here didst thou in visions airy
Mould her, an angel in nativity.
Here lay the child; with warm life heaving
The tender bosom filled and grew;
And here, with pure and holy weaving,
The image of the gods was wrought anew!
And thou, O Faust, what led thee here? I feel
My very inmost being reel!
What wouldst thou here? What weights thy heart so sore?
O wretched Faust! I know thee now no more.
Does magic play about me, sweet and rare?
Some force impelled me to enjoy without delay,
And now in dreams of love I seem to float away!
Are we the sport of every puff of air?
And if this very moment she might enter here,
For thy rash conduct how wouldst thou atone!
Thou, great big lout, how small wouldst thou appear!
How, melted at her feet, thou wouldst lie prone!
Mephistopheles (enters). Be quick! I see her coming down the lane.
Faust. Away! I'll never come back here again!
Mephistopheles. Here is a casket, of some weight,
Which I got elsewhere as a bait.
Here, put it in the press, this minute;
She'll lose her senses, I swear it to you.
In fact, I put some trinkets in it,
Enough another nobler maid to woo;
But still a child's a child, and play is play.
Faust. I don't know if I should?
Mephistopheles. Why ask you, pray?
Do you perhaps intend to hoard the treasure?
Then I'd advise you in your lustfulness
To waste no more sweet hours of leisure
And spare me further strain and stress.
I hope that you're not greedy!
I rub my hands, I scratch my head-
He puts the casket in the press and turns the lock again.
Away and speedy!-
To turn the sweet young child that she be led
To satisfy your heart's desire and will;
And you look around
As if to a lecture you were bound,
As if before you, living still,
Stood Physics and Metaphysics grey!
But off! away!
Margaret (with a lamp). Here is such close such sultry air!
She opens the window.
And yet it's really not so warm out there.
I feel so strange- I don't know how-
I wish that Mother came home now.
From head to foot I'm shuddering-
I'm but a foolish, fearsome thing!
She begins to sing while she undresses.
There was in Thule olden
A king true till the grave,
To whom a beaker golden
His dying mistress gave.
Naught prized he more, this lover,
He drained it at each bout;
His eyes with tears brimmed over,
As oft he drank it out.
And when he came to dying,
His towns and his lands he told,
Naught else his heir denying
Except the beaker of gold.
Around him knight and vassal,
At a royal feast sat he
In his fathers' lofty castle,
The castle by the sea.
There the old pleasure-seeker
Drank, standing, life's last glow,
Then hurled the sacred beaker
Into the waves below.
He saw it plunging, drinking,
And sinking in the sea,
And so his eyes were sinking,
Never one drop more drank he.
She opens the press to put away her clothes and catches sight of
the little jewel-casket.
How came this lovely casket in my press?
Indeed I turned the lock most certainly.
It's very strange! What's in it I can't guess.
Someone has brought it as a pledge maybe,
And on it Mother loaned a bit.
Here on the ribbon hangs a little key,
I really think I'll open it.
What is that? God in Heaven! See!
I've never seen such things as here!
Jewels! A noble lady might appear
With these on any holiday.
This chain- how would it look on me?
Ah, whose can all this splendour be?
She adorns herself with it and steps before the mirror.
Were but the earrings mine! I say
One looks at once quite differently.
What good is beauty? blood of youth?
All that is nice and fine, in truth;
However, people pass and let it be.
They praise you- half with pity, though, be sure.
Toward gold throng all,
To gold cling all,
Yes, all! Alas, we poor!
Faust walking thoughtfully up and down. Mephistopheles
Mephistopheles. By every despised love! By the red-hot fires of Hell!
Would I knew something worse, to curse by it as well!
Faust. What is the matter? What's so badly vexing you?
I've never seen before a face that looked that way.
Mephistopheles. Off to the Devil I'd betake myself this day
If I myself were not a devil too!
Faust. What has gone wrong? Why thus behave?
It suits you well to rant and rave!
Mephistopheles. Just think, the gems for Gretchen that I got,
A wretched priest has bagged the lot!
The mother gets to see the stuff
And starts at once to feel a secret shuddering.
The woman has a scent that's fine enough,
Forever in her prayer-book she delights to snuff,
And smells it out in every single thing
If it be sacred or profane;
So in those gems she noses till it's plain
That they held little blessing, little good.
"My child," she cried, "to keep unrighteous gain
Perturbs the soul, consumes the blood.
We'll dedicate it to the Mother of our Lord,
With heavenly manna She'll reward!"
Then Gretchen drew her mouth askew;
She thought: "It is a gift-horse, it is true,
And surely godless is not he
Who brought it here so handsomely."
The mother summoned in a priest who came
And when he'd scarce perceived the game,
Got much contentment from the sight.
He said: "So one is minded right!
Who overcometh, winneth a crown.
The Church hath a good stomach ever,
Whole countries hath she gobbled down,
And yet hath over-eaten never;
The Church alone, dear ladies, best
Can all unrighteous goods digest."
Faust. That is a custom that men oft pursue;
A Jew and king can do it too.
Mephistopheles. With that he bagged brooch, chain, and rings,
As if mere toadstools were the things,
And thanked them neither less nor more
Than were it a basketful of nuts he bore.
He promised them all heavenly pay
And greatly edified thereby were they.
Faust. And Gretchen?
Mephistopheles. Now sits restless. What she would
She knows not, neither what she should,
Thinks of the jewels night and day,
Still more on him who brought them to her.
Faust. The darling's grief distresses me.
Quick! get new ornaments to woo her.
The first ones were not much to see.
Mephistopheles. Oh yes, Milord thinks all is mere child's-play!
Faust. Make haste and do things as I like them done.
Into her neighbour's graces win your way!
Devil, don't be like mush and move so slow.
Fetch some new ornaments- up, now, and run!
Mephistopheles. Yes, gracious sir, with all my heart I'll go.
Such an enamoured fool would puff and blow
Sun, moon, and stars into thin air
Just as a pastime for his lady fair.
THE NEIGHBOUR'S HOUSE
Martha (alone). God pardon my dear husband! He
Has truly not done well by me!
Off in the world to go and roam
And leave me on the straw at home!
Sure, I did naught to vex him, truly,
And, God knows, always loved him duly.
Perhaps he's even dead!- Oh, cruel fate!
If I but had a death-certificate!
Margaret. Dame Martha!
Martha. Gretchen dear, what can it be?
Margaret. My knees almost sink under me!
There in my press I've found again
Just such a casket- and of ebony,
And things! magnificent they are,
Much richer than the first, by far!
Martha. You must not tell that to your mother;
She would confess it like the other.
Margaret. Ah, only look! ah, see now, do!
Martha (decking her out). You lucky, lucky creature, you!
Margaret. Alas, these jewels I can never wear
At church or on the street, I'd never dare!
Martha. Come often over here to me
And here put on the jewels secretly.
Stroll up and down before the mirror for a season;
We'll have our own sweet joy of it.
And then there'll be a feast-day or some other reason
When one lets people see them, bit by bit.
A chain at first, a pearl then in your ear; your mother
Scarce will see it, we'll coin some fib or other.
Margaret. But both the caskets! Who could bring
Them both? Some wrong is in this thing!
Good Heaven! My mother- can that have been?
Martha (peeping through the curtain).
It's some strange gentleman! Come in!
Mephistopheles. I'm very bold to walk in right away;
The pardon of the ladies I must pray.
He steps back respectfully in the presence of MARGARET.
Dame Martha Schwerdtlein I would like to find!
Martha. I'm she! What has the gentleman upon his mind?
Mephistopheles (aside to her). I know you now, that is enough for me.
You have a most distinguished guest, I see.
Excuse the liberty I took! If it is not too soon,
I'll come again this afternoon.
Martha (aloud). Imagine, child, of all things on this earth!
The gentleman thinks you of noble birth.
Margaret. I am a poor, young thing, as you can see.
The gentleman is far too kind to me.
The ornaments and jewels aren't my own.
Mephistopheles. Ah, it is not the ornaments alone;
You've such a manner, so refined a way!
How glad I am that I may stay!
Martha. What is your errand? I would like to hear-
Mephistopheles. I wish my tidings brought more cheer!
I hope you'll not make me repent this meeting:
Your husband's dead and sends a greeting.
Martha. Is dead? That faithful heart! Oh, woe!
My husband's dead! I'm dying! Oh!
Margaret. Ah! don't despair, Dame Martha dear!
Mephistopheles. Prepare the mournful tale to hear!
Margaret. That's why I would not love while I draw breath;
Such loss as this would make me grieve to death.
Mephistopheles. Joy must sorrow, sorrow joy must know.
Martha. Relate the ending of his life to me!
Mephistopheles. In Padua he's buried, midst a row
Of graves close to St. Anthony,
In holy ground that was well blessed,
Forever cool his bed of rest.
Martha. Did you bring nothing else beside?
Mephistopheles. Oh yes, a weighty, great petition:
Three hundred masses are you to provide!
My pockets? They have naught. Thus endeth my commission!
Martha. What? Not a medal? Not a trinket? Such
As every journeyman deep in his pouch doth hide,
As a remembrance puts aside,
And rather hungers, rather begs, than touch?
Mephistopheles. Madame, that grieves me much, but let me say,
He truly did not throw his cash away;
And deeply did he all his faults deplore,
Yes, and bewailed his ill luck still much more.
Margaret. Alas, the bad luck men do meet!
Full many a requiem for him will I pray.
Mephistopheles. You're fit, I think, to wed this very day;
You are so lovable and sweet.
Margaret. That would not do as yet. Ah, no!
Mephistopheles. If not a husband, be it for the while a beau.
For, of the greatest gifts of Heaven, it is one
To have within our arms a lover dear.
Margaret. That's not the custom of the country here.
Mephistopheles. Custom or not! At any rate it's done.
Martha. Tell on, oh, please!
Mephistopheles. I stood where dying he was laid.
'Twas not a dung-heap; somewhat better it was made
Of rotting straw; but as a Christian did he die,
Thinking he owed far greater penance for his life.
"How deeply must I hate myself," I heard him cry,
"To leave my business so, my wife!
Alas, the recollection's killing me.
If she could but forgive me in this life!"
Martha (weeping). The good man! I forgave him long since- truthfully!
Mephistopheles. "But she, God knows, was more to blame than I!"
Martha. He lies! What! at the grave's brink- so to lie!
Mephistopheles. He fabled as he breathed his last, be sure,
If I am only half a connoisseur.
"I could not gape for pastime," so he said;
"First children, then to get them bread,
And bread in all the broadest sense, I swear;
Yet never could I eat in peace my share."
Martha. To all my love, fidelity, he gave no thought,
Nor to my drudgery by night and day?
Mephistopheles. Not so; he thought of it most warmly as he ought.
He said: "From Malta once I sailed away
And ardently for wife and children did I pray.
Then Heaven favoured us in gracious measure
Because our ship a Turkish vessel caught
Which to the mighty Sultan bore a treasure.
Then valour was rewarded as was fit,
And I received moreover, as one ought,
My own well-measured share of it."
Martha. Oh what? Oh where? Perhaps he buried it?
Mephistopheles. Who knows where the four winds have carried it?
A pretty miss adopted him as her dear friend
When he, in Naples strange, was circulating;
She gave him love and troth so unabating
That he felt the results until his blessed end.
Martha. The scamp! The robber of his children, he!
And all that want and all that misery
Could not prevent the shameful life he led!
Mephistopheles. Well, he has paid for it and now he's dead.
If I were now in your place here,
I'd mourn for him a well-bred year,
Meanwhile be on the lookout for a sweetheart new.
Martha. Ah, God! Another like the first I knew,
I'll hardly find on earth again!
There scarce could be a dearer little fool than mine.
Only to roam he was too much inclined, and then
He loved those foreign women, also foreign wine,
And that accursed dice-throwing.
Mephistopheles. Now, now, things could have gone and still be going,
If he perchance as much in you
Had overlooked on his part too.
I swear, on terms like these, if you'd agree,
I'd ask you to exchange a ring with me.
Martha. The gentleman is pleased to jest.
Mephistopheles (aside). Now to make off betimes were best!
She'd hold the very Devil to his word.
How is your heart? Has it been stirred?
Margaret. What means the gentleman?
Mephistopheles (aside). You innocent, sweet dear!
Martha. Oh, quickly let me hear
The evidence I'd like to have and save:
Where, how, and when my darling died and where his grave.
Of order I have always been a friend,
And in our Weekly I would like to read his end.
Mephistopheles. Yes, my good woman, what two witnesses attest
Is always known as truth made manifest,
And with me I've a splendid mate.
I tell you, I'll take him before a magistrate.
I'll bring him here.
Martha. Oh, do that, do!
Mephistopheles. And this young lady, will she be here too?
A gallant chap! and travelled far has he
And shows young ladies every courtesy.
Margaret. Before the gentleman I'd flush with shame.
Mephistopheles. Before no king this earth could name.
Martha. Behind my house and in my garden then,
This evening we'll await the gentlemen.