Prince Hagen - Upton Sinclair - ebook

This fantasy is written by Upton Sinclair, the American writer and social reformer. Sinclair uses his satirical style to its greatest potential to hack away at the conventions of his time and in so doing, foresees his later serious critiques of capitalistic society.

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[Shows a primeval forest, with great trees, thickets in background, and moss and ferns underfoot. A set in the foreground. To the left is a tent, about ten feet square, with a fly. The front and sides are rolled up, showing arubber blanket spread, with bedding upon it; a rough stand, with books and some canned goods, a rifle, a fishing-rod, etc. Toward centre is a trench with the remains of a fire smoldering in it, and a frying pan and some soiled dishes beside it. There is alog, used as a seat, and near it are several books, a bound volume of music lying open, and a violin case with violin. To the right is a rocky wall, with a cleft suggesting a grotto.]

[At rise: GERALD pottering about his fire, which is burning badly, mainly because he is giving most of his attention to a bound volume of music which he has open. He is a young man of twenty-two, with wavy auburn hair; wears old corduroy trousers and a grey flannel shirt, open at the throat. He stirs the fire, then takes violin and plays the Nibelung theme with gusto.]

GERALD. A plague on that fire! I think I'll make my supper on prunes and crackers to-night!

[Plays again.]

MIMI. [Enters left, disguised as a pack-peddler; a little wizened up man, with long, unkempt grey hair and beard, and a heavy bundle on his back.] Good evening, sir!

GERALD. [Starts.] Hello!

MIMI. Good evening!

GERALD. Why... who are you?

MIMI. Can you tell me how I find the road, sir?

GERALD. Where do you want to go?

MIMI. To the railroad.

GERALD. Oh, I see!You got lost?

MIMI. Yes, sir.

GERALD. [Points.] You should have turned to the right down where the roads cross.

MIMI. Oh. That's it!

[Puts down burden and sighs.]

GERALD. Are you expecting to get to the railroad to-night?

MIMI. Yes, sir.

GERALD. Humph! You'll find it hard going. Better rest. [Looks him over, curiously.] What are you—a peddler?

MIMI. I sell things. Nice things, sir. You buy?

[Starts to open pack.]

GERALD. No. I don't want anything.

MIMI. [Gazing about.] You live here all alone?

GERALD. Yes... all alone.

MIMI. [Looking of left.] Who lives in the big house?

GERALD. That's my father's camp.

MIMI. Humph! Nobody in there?

GERALD. The family hasn't come up yet.

MIMI. Why don't you live there?

GERALD. I'm camping out—I prefer the tent.

MIMI. Humph!Who's your father?

GERALD. John Isman's his name.

MIMI. Rich man, hey?

GERALD. Why... yes. Fairly so.

MIMI. I see people here last year.

GERALD. Oh! You've been here before?

MIMI. Yes. I been here. I see young lady. Very beautiful!

GERALD. That's mysister, I guess.

MIMI. Your sister. What you call her?

GERALD. Her name's Estelle.

MIMI. Estelle! And what's your name?

GERALD. I'm Gerald Isman.

MIMI. Humph! [Looking about, sees violin.] You play music, hey?


MIMI. You play so very bad?

GERALD. [Laughs.] Why... what makes you think that?

MIMI. You come 'way off by yourself!

GERALD. Oh! I see! No... I like to be alone.

MIMI. I hear you playing... nice tune.

GERALD. Yes. You like music?

MIMI. Sometimes. You play little quick tune... so?


GERALD. [Plays Nibelung theme.] This?

MIMI. [Eagerly.] Yes. Where you learn that?

GERALD. That's the Nibelung music.

MIMI. Nibelung music! Where you hear it?

GERALD. Why... it's in an opera.

MIMI. An opera?

GERALD. It's by a composer named Wagner.

MIMI.Where he hear it?

GERALD. [Laughs.] Why... I guess he made it up.

MIMI. What's it about? Hey?

GERALD. It's about the Nibelungs.

MIMI. Nibelungs?

GERALD. Queer little people who live down inside the earth, and spend all their time digging for gold.

MIMI. Ha! You believe in such people?

GERALD. [Amused.] Why... I don't know...

MIMI. You ever see them?

GERALD. No... but the poets tell us they exist.

MIMI. The poets, hey? What they tell you about them?

GERALD. Well, they have great rocky caverns, down in thedepths of the earth. And they have treasures of gold... whole caves of it. And they're very cunning smiths... they make all sorts of beautiful golden vessels and trinkets.

MIMI. Trinkets, hey! [Reaches into bundle.] Like this, hey?

[Holds up a gold cup.]

GERALD. [Surprised.] Oh!

MIMI. Or this, hey?

GERALD. Why... where did you get such things?

MIMI. Ha, ha! You don't know what I got!

GERALD. Let me see them.

MIMI. You think the Nibelungs can beat that, hey? [Reaches into bag.] Maybe I sell you this cap! [Takes out a little cap of woven gold chains.] A magic cap, hey?

GERALD. [Astounded.] Why... what is it?

MIMI. [Puts it on his head.] You wear it... so. And you play Nibelung music, and you vanish from sight... nobody finds you. Or I sell you the magic ring... you wear that... [Hands it to GERALD.] Put it on your finger... so. Now you play, and the Nibelungs come... they dance about in the woods... they bring you gold treasures... ha, ha, ha! [Amused at GERALD's perplexity.] What you think they look like, hey?... those Nibelungs!

GERALD. Why... I don't know...

MIMI. What do your poets tell you? ha?

GERALD. Why... they're little men... with long hair and funny clothes... and humpbacked.

MIMI. Look like me, hey?

GERALD. [Embarrassed.] Why... yes... in a way.

MIMI. What are their names?

GERALD. Their names?

MIMI. Yes... what ones do you know about?

GERALD. Well, there was Alberich, the king.

MIMI. Alberich!

GERALD. He was the one who found the Rheingold. And then there was Hagen, his son.

MIMI. Hagen!

GERALD. He killed the hero, Siegfried.

MIMI. Yes, yes!

GERALD. And then there was Mimi.

MIMI. Ah! Mimi!

GERALD. He was a very famous smith.

MIMI. [Eagerly.] You know all about them! Somebody has been there!

GERALD. What do you mean?

MIMI. Would you like to see thoseNibelungs?


[Scene shows the library in a Fifth Avenue mansion; spacious and magnificent. There are folding doors right centre. There is a centre table with a reading lamp and books, and soft leather chairs. The walls are covered with bookcases. An entrance right to drawing-room. Also an entrance left.]

[At rise: GERALD, in evening clothes, reading in front of fire.]

GER. [Stretching,and sighing.] Ah, me! I wish I'd stayed at the club. Bother their dinner parties!

MRS. IS. [Enters right, a nervous, fussy little woman, in evening costume.] Well, Gerald...

GER. Yes, mother?

MRS. IS. You're not coming to dinner?

GER. You don't need me, mother. You've men enough, you said.

MRS. IS. I like to see something of my son now and then.

GER. I had my lunch very late, and I'm honestly not hungry. I'd rather sit and read.

MRS. IS. I declare, Gerald, you run this reading business into the ground. Youcut yourself off from everyone.

GER. They don't miss me, mother.

MRS. IS. To-night Renaud is going to give us some crabflake a la Dewey! I told Mrs. Bagley-Willis I'd show her what crabflake could be. She is simply green with envy of our chef.

GER. I fancy that's the reason you invite her, isn't it?

MRS. IS. [Laughs.] Perhaps.

[Exit right. He settles himself to read.]

HICKS. [Enters centre.] Mr. Gerald.

GER. Well?

HICKS. There was a man here to see you some time ago, Sir.

GER. A man to see me? Why didn'tyou let me know?

HICKS. I started to, Sir. But he disappeared, and I can't find him, Sir.

GER. Disappeared? What do you mean?

HICKS. He came to the side entrance, Sir; and one of the maids answered the bell. He was such a queer-looking chap that she wasfrightened, and called me. And then I went to ask if you were in, and he disappeared. I wasn't sure if he went out, Sir, or if he was still in the house.

GER. What did he look like?

HICKS. He was a little chap... so high... with a long beard and a humped back...

GER. [Startled.] Mimi!