My dear good man--whom God forgive!
He has not treated me well, as I live!
Right off into the world he's gone
And left me on the straw alone.
I never did vex him, I say it sincerely,
I always loved him, God knows how dearly.
Perhaps he's dead!--O cruel fate!--
If I only had a certificate!
What now, Margery?
I scarce can keep my knees from sinking!
Within my press, again, not thinking,
I find a box of ebony,
With things--can't tell how grand they are,--
More splendid than the first by far.
You must not tell it to your mother,
She'd serve it as she did the other.
Ah, only look! Behold and see!
Martha [puts them on her].
Fortunate thing! I envy thee!
Margaret. Alas, in the street or at church I never
Could be seen on any account whatever.
Martha. Come here as often as you've leisure,
And prink yourself quite privately;
Before the looking-glass walk up and down at pleasure,
Fine times for both us 'twill be;
Then, on occasions, say at some great feast,
Can show them to the world, one at a time, at least.
A chain, and then an ear-pearl comes to view;
Your mother may not see, we'll make some pretext, too.
Margaret. Who could have brought both caskets in succession?
There's something here for just suspicion!
[A knock. ]
Ah, God! If that's my mother--then!
Martha [peeping through the blind].
'Tis a strange gentleman--come in!
Must, ladies, on your kindness reckon
To excuse the freedom I have taken;
[Steps back with profound respect at seeing MARGARET.]
I would for Dame Martha Schwerdtlein inquire!
Martha. I'm she, what, sir, is your desire?
Mephistopheles [aside to her].
I know your face, for now 'twill do;
A distinguished lady is visiting you.
For a call so abrupt be pardon meted,
This afternoon it shall be repeated.
Martha [aloud]. For all the world, think, child! my sakes!
The gentleman you for a lady takes.
Ah, God! I am a poor young blood;
The gentleman is quite too good;
The jewels and trinkets are none of my own.
Ah, 'tis not the jewels and trinkets alone;
Her look is so piercing, so distinguи!
How glad I am to be suffered to stay.
What bring you, sir? I long to hear--
Would I'd a happier tale for your ear!
I hope you'll forgive me this one for repeating:
Your husband is dead and sends you a greeting.
Is dead? the faithful heart! Woe! Woe!
My husband dead! I, too, shall go!
Ah, dearest Dame, despair not thou!
Mephistopheles Then, hear the mournful story now!
Ah, keep me free from love forever,
I should never survive such a loss, no, never!
Joy and woe, woe and joy, must have each other.
Describe his closing hours to me!
In Padua lies our departed brother,
In the churchyard of St. Anthony,
In a cool and quiet bed lies sleeping,
In a sacred spot's eternal keeping.
And this was all you had to bring me?
All but one weighty, grave request!
"Bid her, when I am dead, three hundred masses sing me!"
With this I have made a clean pocket and breast.
What! not a medal, pin nor stone?
Such as, for memory's sake, no journeyman will lack,
Saved in the bottom of his sack,
And sooner would hunger, be a pauper--
Madam, your case is hard, I own!
But blame him not, he squandered ne'er a copper.
He too bewailed his faults with penance sore,
Ay, and his wretched luck bemoaned a great deal more.
Alas! that mortals so unhappy prove!
I surely will for him pray many a requiem duly.
You're worthy of a spouse this moment; truly
You are a child a man might love.
It's not yet time for that, ah no!
If not a husband, say, meanwhile a beau.
It is a choice and heavenly blessing,
Such a dear thing to one's bosom pressing.
With us the custom is not so.
Custom or not! It happens, though.
I slood beside his bed, as he lay dying,
Better than dung it was somewhat,--
Half-rotten straw; but then, he died as Christian ought,
And found an unpaid score, on Heaven's account-book lying.
"How must I hate myself," he cried, "inhuman!
So to forsake my business and my woman!
Oh! the remembrance murders me!
Would she might still forgive me this side heaven!"
The dear good man! he has been long forgiven.
"But God knows, I was less to blame than she."
A lie! And at death's door! abominable!
If I to judge of men half-way am able,
He surely fibbed while passing hence.
"Ways to kill time, (he said)--be sure, I did not need them;
First to get children--and then bread to feed them,
And bread, too, in the widest sense,
And even to eat my bit in peace could not be thought on."
Has he all faithfulness, all love, so far forgotten,
The drudgery by day and night!
Not so, he thought of you with all his might.
He said: "When I from Malta went away,
For wife and children my warm prayers ascended;
And Heaven so far our cause befriended,
Our ship a Turkish cruiser took one day,
Which for the mighty Sultan bore a treasure.
Then valor got its well-earned pay,
And I too, who received but my just measure,
A goodly portion bore away."
How? Where? And he has left it somewhere buried?
Who knows which way by the four winds 'twas carried?
He chanced to take a pretty damsel's eye,
As, a strange sailor, he through Naples jaunted;
All that she did for him so tenderly,
E'en to his blessed end the poor man haunted.
The scamp! his children thus to plunder!
And could not all his troubles sore
Arrest his vile career, I wonder?
But mark! his death wipes off the score.
Were I in your place now, good lady;
One year I'd mourn him piously
And look about, meanwhiles, for a new flame already.
Ah, God! another such as he
I may not find with ease on this side heaven!
Few such kind fools as this dear spouse of mine.
Only to roving he was too much given,
And foreign women and foreign wine,
And that accursed game of dice.
Mere trifles these; you need not heed 'em,
If he, on his part, not o'er-nice,
Winked at, in you, an occasional freedom.
I swear, on that condition, too,
I would, myself, 'change rings with you!
The gentleman is pleased to jest now!
I see it's now high time I stirred!
She'd take the very devil at his word.
How is it with your heart, my best, now?
What means the gentleman?
Thou innocent young heart!
But quick, before we part!--
I'd like some witness, vouching truly
Where, how and when my love died and was buried duly.
I've always paid to order great attention,
Would of his death read some newspaper mention.
Ay, my dear lady, in the mouths of two
Good witnesses each word is true;
I've a friend, a fine fellow, who, when you desire,
Will render on oath what you require.
I'll bring him here.
O pray, sir, do!
And this young lady 'll be there too?
Fine boy! has travelled everywhere,
And all politeness to the fair.
Before him shame my face must cover.
Before no king the wide world over!
Behind the house, in my garden, at leisure,
We'll wait this eve the gentlemen's pleasure.