A monologue from the play by August Strindberg

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays by August Strindberg, vol. 4. Trans. Edwin Bj√∂rkman. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916.
  • SHERIFF: Look at them! Files of them, and whole hosts! Look!--Do you know what that means? . . . . It is a good omen! But, of course, you never expect anything good to come from me. You wouldn't believe it that time either -- and that's what led to your exposure! . . . . Look at those ants! Look at them! They are making straight for you, Kersti. Are you not afraid of them? Big wood-ants, and I think the ant-king himself is with them. Do you know what can be done by the King, and by no other authority? Do you know that? . . . . All other authorities can pass judgment -- all of them can do that -- harshly or mercifully; but there is only one that can grant pardon. That's the King! -- Shall we ask the ant-king if he will grant pardon? [He puts his hand to his ear as if to hear better] Would your majesty be willing to pardon her -- that is, in regard to the worst part? . . . . Did you hear what he answered? I thought he said yes. But I may have been mistaken. . . . And being the Sheriff, I can't go by hearsays, but must have everything in writing. Let us ask the ant-king to write it down. He has plenty of pens -- sharp as needles -- and he has ink of his own, that burns. If we could only find a piece of paper! [He pretends to search his pockets, finally he brings out the paper he was reading when he entered] Oh, here we are! Look at this! The King has written it with his own hand. Do you see? C-A-R-L, which makes Carl. [He raises his cap for a moment in salute] You haven't seen such big letters since you went to school, Kersti. And look at the red seal -- that smelled like resin in the woods when the sealing-wax was still warm. And look at the silken cords, yellow and blue -- and all these lions and crowns. . . . That's royal, every bit of it! . . . . Read it yourself, Kersti, while I give my orders to the soldiers.