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The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories

Meisterschaft
In Three Acts [1]
DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
MR. STEPHENSON. MARGARET STEPHENSON.
GEORGE FRANKLIN. ANNIE STEPHENSON.
WILLIAM JACKSON. MRS. BLUMENTHAL, the Wirthin.
GRETCHEN, Kellnerin
ACT I. SCENE I.
Scene of the play, the parlour of a small private dwelling in a village. (MARGARET
discovered crocheting--has a pamphlet.)
MARGARET. (Solus.) Dear, dear! it's dreary enough, to have to study this impossible
German tongue: to be exiled from home and all human society except a body's sister in
order to do it, is just simply abscheulich. Here's only three weeks of the three months
gone, and it seems like three years. I don't believe I can live through it, and I'm sure
Annie can't. (Refers to her book, and rattles through, several times, like one memorising:)
Entschuldigen Sie, mein Herr, konnen Sie mir vielleicht sagen, um wie viel Uhr der erste
Zug nach Dresden abgeht? (Makes mistakes and corrects them.) I just hate Meisterschaft!
We may see people; we can have society; yes, on condition that the conversation shall be
in German, and in German only--every single word of it! Very kind--oh, very! when
neither Annie nor I can put two words together, except as they are put together for us in
Meisterschaft or that idiotic Ollendorff! (Refers to book, and memorises: Mein Bruder
hat Ihren Herrn Vater nicht gesehen, als er gestern in dem Laden des deutschen
Kaufmannes war.) Yes, we can have society, provided we talk German. What would
conversation be like! If you should stick to Meisterschaft, it would change the subject
every two minutes; and if you stuck to Ollendorff, it would be all about your sister's
mother's good stocking of thread, or your grandfather's aunt's good hammer of the
carpenter, and who's got it, and there an end. You couldn't keep up your interest in such
topics. (Memorising: Wenn irgend moglich--mochte ich noch heute Vormittag
Geschaftsfreunde zu treffen.) My mind is made up to one thing: I will be an exile, in
spirit and in truth: I will see no one during these three months. Father is very ingenious--
oh, very! thinks he is, anyway. Thinks he has invented a way to force us to learn to speak
German. He is a dear good soul, and all that; but invention isn't his fach'. He will see.
(With eloquent energy.) Why, nothing in the world shall--Bitte, konnen Sie mir vielleicht
sagen, ob Herr Schmidt mit diesem Zuge angekommen ist? Oh, dear, dear George--three
weeks! It seems a whole century since I saw him. I wonder if he suspects that I--that I--
care for him--j-just a wee, wee bit? I believe he does. And I believe Will suspects that
Annie cares for him a little, that I do. And I know perfectly well that they care for us.
They agree with all our opinions, no matter what they are; and if they have a prejudice,
they change it, as soon as they see how foolish it is. Dear George! at first he just couldn't
abide cats; but now, why now he's just all for cats; he fairly welters in cats. I never saw
 
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