R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)/Act 3

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ACT III

 

[Helena's drawing room as before. Domin comes into the room. Dr. Gall is looking out of the window, through closed shutters. Alquist in seated down right.]

 

Domin

Any more of them?

 

Dr. Gall

Yes. There standing like a wall, beyond the garden railing. Why are they so quiet? It's monstrous to be besieged with silence.

 

Domin

I should like to know what they are waiting for. They must make a start any minute now. If they lean against the railing they'll snap it like a match.

 

Dr. Gall

They aren't armed.

 

Domin

We couldn't hold our own for five minutes. Man alive, they'd overwhelm us like an avalanche. Why don't they make a rush for it? I say——

 

Dr. Gall

Well?

 

Domin

I'd like to know what would become of us in the next ten minutes. They've got us in a vise. We're done for, Gall.

[Pause.]

 

Dr. Gall

You know, we made one serious mistake.

 

Domin

What?

 

Dr. Gall

We made the Robots' faces too much alike. A hundred thousand faces all alike, all facing this way. A hundred thousand expressionless bubbles. It's like a nightmare.

 

Domin

You think if they'd been different——

 

Dr. Gall

It wouldn't have been such an awful sight!

 

Domin

[Looking through a telescope toward the harbor]: I'd like to know what they're unloading from the Amelia.

 

Dr. Gall

Not firearms. [Fabry and Hallemeier rush into the room carrying electric cables.]

 

Fabry

All right, Hallemeier, lay down that wire.

 

Hallemeier

That was a bit of work. What's the news?

 

Dr. Gall

We're completely surrounded.

 

Hallemeier

We've barricaded the passage and the stairs. Any water here? [Drinks.] God, what swarms of them! I don't like the looks of them, Domin. There's a feeling of death about it all.

 

Fabry

Ready!

 

Dr. Gall

What's that wire for, Fabry?

 

Fabry

The electrical installation. Now we can run the current all along the garden railing whenever we like. If any one touches it he'll know it. We've still got some people there anyhow.

 

Dr. Gall

Where?

 

Fabry

In the electrical works. At least I hope so. [Goes to lamp on table behind sofa and turns on lamp.] Ah, they're there, and they're working. [Puts out lamp.] So long as that'll burn we're all right.

 

Hallemeier

The barricades are all right, too, Fabry.

 

Fabry

Your barricades! I can put twelve hundred volts into that railing.

 

Domin

Where's Busman?

 

Fabry

Downstairs in the office. He's working out some calculations.

I've called him. We must have a conference.
[Helena is heard playing the piano in the library. Hallemeier goes to the door and stands, listening.]

 

Alquist

Thank God, Madame Helena can still play.
[Busman enters, carrying the ledgers.]

 

Fabry

Look out, Bus, look out for the wires.

 

Dr. Gall

What's that you're carrying?

 

Busman

[Going to table]: The ledgers, my boy! I'd like to wind up the accounts before—before—well, this time I shan't wait till the new year to strike a balance. What's up? [Goes to the window.] Absolutely quiet.

 

Dr. Gall

Can't you see anything?

 

Busman

Nothing but blue—blue everywhere.

 

Dr. Gall

That's the Robots.

 

Busman

[Sits down at the table and opens the ledgers.]

 

Domin

The Robots are unloading firearms from the Amelia.

 

Busman

Well, what of it? How can I stop them?

 

Domin

We can't stop them.

 

Busman

Then let me go on with my accounts. [Goes on with his work.]

 

Domin

[Picking up telescope and looking into the harbor]: Good God, the Ultimus has trained her guns on us!

 

Dr. Gall

Who's done that?

 

Domin

The Robots on board.

 

Fabry

H'm, then, of course, then—then, that's the end of us.

 

Dr. Gall

You mean?

 

Fabry

The Robots are practised marksmen.

 

Domin

Yes. It's inevitable. [Pause.]

 

Dr. Gall

It was criminal of old Europe to teach the Robots to fight. Damn them. Couldn't they have given us a rest with their politics? It was a crime to make soldiers of them.

 

Alquist

It was a crime to make Robots.

 

Domin

What?

 

Alquist

It was a crime to make Robots.

 

Domin

No, Alquist, I don't regret that even to-day.

 

Alquist

Not even to-day?

 

Domin

Not even to-day, the last day of civilization. It was a colossal achievement.

 

Busman

[Sotto voce]: Three hundred sixty million.

 

Domin

Alquist, this is our last hour. We are already speaking half in the other world. It was not an evil dream to shatter the servitude of labor—the dreadful and humiliating labor that man had to undergo. Work was too hard. Life was too hard. And to overcome that——

 

Alquist

Was not what the two Rossums dreamed of. Old Rossum only thought of his God-less tricks and the young one of his milliards. And that's not what your R. U. R. shareholders dream of either. They dream of dividends, and their dividends are the ruin of mankind.

 

Domin

To hell with your dividends. Do you suppose I'd have done an hour's work for them? It was for myself that I worked, for my own satisfaction. I wanted man to become the master, so that he shouldn't live merely for a crust of bread. I wanted not a single soul to be broken by other people's machinery. I wanted nothing, nothing, nothing to be left of this appalling social structure. I'm revolted by poverty. I wanted a new generation. I wanted—I thought——

 

Alquist

Well?

 

Domin

I wanted to turn the whole of mankind into an aristocracy of the world. An aristocracy nourished by milliards of mechanical slaves. Unrestricted, free and consummated in man. And maybe more than man.

 

Alquist

Super-man?

 

Domin

Yes. Oh, only to have a hundred years of time! Another hundred years for the future of mankind.

 

Busman

[Soto voce]: Carried forward, four hundred and twenty millions.
[The music stops.]

 

Hallemeier

What a fine thing music is! We ought to have gone in for that before.

 

Fabry

Gone in for what?

 

Hallemeier

Beauty, lovely things. What a lot of lovely things there are! The world was wonderful and we—we here—tell me, what enjoyment did we have?

 

Busman

[Sotto voce]: Five hundred and twenty millions.

 
 

Hallemeier

[At the window]: Life was a big thing. Life was—Fabry, switch the current into that railing.

 

Fabry

Why?

 

Hallemeier

They're grabbing hold of it.

 

Dr. Gall

Connect it up.

 

Hallemeier

Fine! That's doubled them up! Two, three, four killed.

 

Dr. Gall

They're retreating!

 

Hallemeier

Five killed!

 

Dr. Gall

The first encounter!

 

Hallemeier

They're charred to cinders, my boy. Who says we must give in?

 
 

Domin

[Wiping his forehead]: Perhaps we've been killed these hundred years and are only ghosts. It's as if I had been through all this before; as if I'd already had a mortal wound here in the throat. And you, Fabry, had once been shot in the head. And you, Gall, torn limb from limb. And Hallemeier knifed.

 

Hallemeier

Fancy me being knifed. [Pause.] Why are you so quiet, you fools? Speak, can't you?

 

Alquist

And who is to blame for all this?

 

Hallemeier

Nobody is to blame except the Robots.

 

Alquist

No, it is we who are to blame. You, Domin, myself, all of us. For our own selfish ends, for profit, for progress, we have destroyed mankind. Now we'll burst with all our greatness.

 

Hallemeier

Rubbish, man. Mankind can't be wiped out so easily.

 
 

Alquist

It's our fault. It's our fault.

 

Dr. Gall

No! I'm to blame for this, for everything that's happened.

 

Fabry

You, Gall?

 

Dr. Gall

I changed the Robots.

 

Busman

What's that?

 

Dr. Gall

I changed the character of the Robots. I changed the way of making them. Just a few details about their bodies. Chiefly—chiefly, their—their irritability.

 

Hallemeier

Damn it, why?

 

Busman

What did you do it for?

 
 

Fabry

Why didn't you say anything?

 

Dr. Gall

I did it in secret. I was transforming them into human beings. In certain respects they're already above us. They're stronger than we are.

 

Fabry

And what's that got to do with the revolt of the Robots?

 

Dr. Gall

Everything, in my opinion. They've ceased to be machines. They're already aware of their superiority, and they hate us. They hate all that is human.

 

Domin

Perhaps we're only phantoms!

 

Fabry

Stop, Harry. We haven't much time! Dr. Gall!

 

Domin

Fabry, Fabry, how your forehead bleeds, where the shot pierced it!

 

Fabry

Be silent! Dr. Gall, you admit changing the way of making the Robots?

 

Dr. Gall

Yes.

 

Fabry

Were you aware of what might be the consequences of your experiment?

 

Dr. Gall

I was bound to reckon with such a possibility. [Helena enters the drawing room from left.]

 

Fabry

Why did you do it, then?

 

Dr. Gall

For my own satisfaction. The experiment was my own.

 

Helena

That's not true, Dr. Gall!

 

Fabry

Madame Helena!

 

Domin

Helena, you? Let's look at you. Oh, it's terrible to be dead.

 

Helena

Stop, Harry.

 

Domin

No, no, embrace me. Helena, don't leave me now. You are life itself.

 

Helena

No, dear, I won't leave you. But I must tell them. Dr. Gall is not guilty.

 

Domin

Excuse me, Gall was under certain obligations.

 

Helena

No, Harry. He did it because I wanted it. Tell them, Gall, how many years ago did I ask you to——?

 

Dr. Gall

I did it on my own responsibility.

 

Helena

Don't believe him, Harry. I asked him to give the Robots souls.

 

Domin

This has nothing to do with the soul.

 

Helena

That's what he said. He said that he could change only a physiological—a physiological——

 

Hallemeier

A physiological correlate?

 

Helena

Yes. But it meant so much to me that he should do even that.

 

Domin

Why?

 

Helena

I thought that if they were more like us they would understand us better. That they couldn't hate us if they were only a little more human.

 

Domin

Nobody can hate man more than man.

 

Helena

Oh, don't speak like that, Harry. It was so terrible, this cruel strangeness between us and them. That's why I asked Gall to change the Robots. I swear to you that he didn't want to.

 

Domin

But he did it.

 

Helena

Because I asked him.

 

Dr. Gall

I did it for myself as an experiment.

 

Helena

No, Dr. Gall! I knew you wouldn't refuse me.

 

Domin

Why?

 

Helena

You know, Harry.

 

Domin

Yes, because he's in love with you—like all of them. [Pause.]

 

Hallemeier

Good God! They're sprouting up out of the earth! Why, perhaps these very walls will change into Robots.

 

Busman

Gall, when did you actually start these tricks of yours?

 

Dr. Gall

Three years ago.

 

Busman

Aha! And on how many Robots altogether did you carry out your improvements?

 

Dr. Gall

A few hundred of them.

 

Busman

Ah! That means for every million of the good old Robots there's only one of Gall's improved pattern.

 

Domin

What of it?

 

Busman

That it's practically of no consequence whatever.

 

Fabry

Busman's right!

 

Busman

I should think so, my boy! But do you know what is to blame for all this lovely mess?

 

Fabry

What?

 

Busman

The number. Upon my soul we might have known that some day or other the Robots would be stronger than human beings, and that this was bound to happen, and we were doing all we could to bring it about as soon as possible. You, Domin, you, Fabry, myself——

 

Domin

Are you accusing us?

 

Busman

Oh, do you suppose the management controls the output? It's the demand that controls the output.

 

Helena

And is it for that we must perish?

 

Busman

That's a nasty word, Madame Helena. We don't want to perish. I don't, anyhow.

 

Domin

No. What do you want to do?

 

Busman

I want to get out of this, that's all.

 

Domin

Oh, stop it, Busman.

 

Busman

Seriously, Harry, I think we might try it.

 

Domin

How?

 

Busman

By fair means. I do everything by fair means. Give me a free hand and I'll negotiate with the Robots.

 

Domin

By fair means?

 

Busman

Of course. For instance, I'll say to them: "Worthy and worshipful Robots, you have everything! You have intellect, you have power, you have firearms. But we have just one interesting screed, a dirty old yellow scrap of paper——"

 

Domin

Rossum's manuscript?

 

Busman

Yes. "And that," I'll tell them, "contains an account of your illustrious origin, the noble process of your manufacture," and so on. "Worthy Robots, without this scribble on that paper you will not be able to produce a single new colleague. In another twenty years there will not be one living specimen of a Robot that you could exhibit in a menagerie. My esteemed friends, that would be a great blow to you, but if you will let all of us human beings on Rossum's Island go on board that ship we will deliver the factory and the secret of the process to you in return. You allow us to get away and we allow you to manufacture yourselves. Worthy Robots, that is a fair deal. Something for something." That's what I'd say to them, my boys.

 

Domin

Busman, do you think we'd sell the manuscript?

 

Busman

"Yes, I do. If not in a friendly way, then—— Either we sell it or they'll find it. Just as you like.

 

Domin

Busman, we can destroy Rossum's manuscript.

 

Busman

Then we destroy everything . . . not only the manuscript, but ourselves. Do as you think fit.

 

Domin

There are over thirty of us on this island. Are we to sell the secret and save that many human souls, at the risk of enslaving mankind. . .?

 

Busman

Why, you're mad? Who'd sell the whole manuscript?

 

Domin

Busman, no cheating!

 

Busman

Well then, sell; but afterward——

 

Domin

Well?

 

Busman

Let's suppose this happens: When we're on board the Ultimus I'll stop up my ears with cotton wool, lie down somewhere in the hold, and you'll train the guns on the factory, and blow it to smithereens, and with it Rossum's secret.

 

Fabry

No!

 

Domin

Busman, you're no gentleman. If we sell, then it will be a straight sale.

 

Busman

It's in the interest of humanity to——

 

Domin

It's in the interest of humanity to keep our word.

 

Hallemeier

Oh, come, what rubbish.

 
 

Domin

This is a fearful decision. We are selling the destiny of mankind. Are we to sell or destroy? Fabry?

 

Fabry

Sell.

 

Domin

Gall?

 

Dr. Gall

Sell.

 

Domin

Hallemeier?

 

Hallemeier

Sell, of course!

 

Domin

Alquist?

 

Alquist

As God wills.

 

Domin

Very well. It shall be as you wish, gentlemen.

 

Helena

Harry, you're not asking me.

 

Domin

No, child. Don't you worry about it.

 

Fabry

Who'll do the negotiating?

 

Busman

I will.

 

Domin

Wait till I bring the manuscript.
[He goes into room at right.]

 

Helena

Harry, don't go!
[Pause, Helena sinks into a chair.]

 

Fabry

[Looking out of window]: Oh, to escape you; you matter in revolt; oh, to preserve human life, if only upon a single vessel——

 

Dr. Gall

Don't be afraid, Madame Helena. We'll sail far away from here; we'll begin life all over again——

Helena

Oh, Gall, don't speak.

 

Fabry

It isn't too late. It will be a little State with one ship. Alquist will build us a house and you shall rule over us.

 

Hallemeier

Madame Helena, Fabry's right.

 

Helena

[Breaking down]: Oh, stop! Stop!

 

Busman

Good! I don't mind beginning all over again. That suits me right down to the ground.

 

Fabry

And this little State of ours could be the centre of future life. A place of refuge where we could gather strength. Why, in a few hundred years we could conquer the world again.

 

Alquist

You believe that even to-day?

 
 

Fabry

Yes, even to-day!

 

Busman

Amen. You see, Madame Helena, we're not so badly off.
[Domin storms into the room.]

 

Domin

[Hoarsely]: Where's old Rossum's manuscript?

 

Busman

In your strong-box, of course.

 

Domin

Someone—has—stolen it!

 

Dr. Gall

Impossible.

 

Domin

Who has stolen it?

 

Helena

[Standing up]: I did.

 

Domin

Where did you put it?

 

Helena

Harry, I'll tell you everything. Only forgive me.

 

Domin

Where did you put it?

 

Helena

This morning—I burnt—the two copies.

 

Domin

Burnt them? Where? In the fireplace?

 

Helena

[Throwing herself on her knees]: For heaven's sake, Harry.

 

Domin

[Going to fireplace]: Nothing, nothing but ashes. Wait, what's this? [Picks out a charred piece of paper and reads]: "By adding——"

 

Dr. Gall

Let's see. "By adding biogen to——" That's all.

 

Domin

Is that part of it?

 

Dr. Gall

Yes.

 

Busman

God in heaven!

 

Domin

Then we're done for. Get up, Helena.

 

Helena

When you've forgiven me.

 

Domin

Get up, child, I can't bear——

 

Fabry

[Lifting her up]: Please don't torture us.

 

Helena

Harry, what have I done?

 

Fabry

Don't tremble so, Madame Helena.

 

Domin

Gall, couldn't you draw up Rossum's formula from memory?

 

Dr. Gall

It's out of the question. It's extremely complicated.

 

Domin

Try. All our lives depend upon it.

 

Dr. Gall

Without experiments it's impossible.

 

Domin

And with experiments?

 

Dr. Gall

It might take years. Besides, I'm not old Rossum.

 

Busman

God in heaven! God in heaven!

 

Domin

So, then, this was the greatest triumph of the human intellect. These ashes.

 

Helena

Harry, what have I done?

 

Domin

Why did you burn it?

 

Helena

I have destroyed you.

 

Busman

God in heaven!

 

Domin

Helena, why did you do it, dear?

 

Helena

I wanted all of us to go away. I wanted to put an end to the factory and everything. It was so awful.

 

Domin

What was awful?

 

Helena

That no more children were being born. Because human beings were not needed to do the work of the world, that's why——

Domin

Is that what you were thinking of? Well, perhaps in your own way you were right.

 

Busman

Wait a bit. Good God, what a fool I am, not to have thought of it before!

 

Hallemeier

What?

 

Busman

Five hundred and twenty millions in bank-notes and checks. Half a billion in our safe, they'll sell for half a billion—for half a billion they'll——

 

Dr. Gall

Are you mad, Busman?

 

Busman

I may not be a gentleman, but for half a billion——

 

Domin

Where are you going?

 

Busman

Leave me alone, leave me alone! Good God, for half a billion anything can be bought.
[He rushes from the room through the outer door.]

 

Fabry

They stand there as if turned to stone, waiting. As if something dreadful could be wrought by their silence——

 

Hallemeier

The spirit of the mob.

 

Fabry

Yes, It hovers above them like a quivering of the air.

 

Helena

[Going to window]: Oh, God! Dr. Gall, this is ghastly.

 

Fabry

There is nothing more terrible than the mob. The one in front is their leader.

 

Helena

Which one?

 

Hallemeier

Point him out.

 

Fabry

The one at the edge of the dock. This morning I saw him talking to the sailors in the harbor.

 

Helena

Dr. Gall, that's Radius!

 

Dr. Gall

Yes.

 

Domin

Radius? Radius?

 

Hallemeier

Could you get him from here, Fabry?

 

Fabry

I hope so.

 

Hallemeier

Try it, then.

 

Fabry

Good. [Draws his revolver and takes aim.]

 
 

Helena

Fabry, don't shoot him.

 

Fabry

He's their leader.

 

Dr. Gall

Fire!

 

Helena

Fabry, I beg of you.

 

Fabry

[Lowering the revolver]: Very well.

 

Domin

Radius, whose life I spared!

 

Dr. Gall

Do you think that a Robot can be grateful?
[Pause.}

 

Fabry

Busman's going out to them.

 

Hallemeier

He's carrying something. Papers. That's money. Bundles of money. What's that for?

 

Domin

Surely he doesn't want to sell his life. Busman, have you gone mad?

 

Fabry

He's running up to the railing. Busman! Busman!

 

Hallemeier

[Yelling]: Busman! Come back!

 

Fabry

He's talking to the Robots. He's showing them the money.

 

Hallemeier

He's pointing to us.

 

Helena

He wants to buy us off.

 

Fabry

He'd better not touch that railing.

 

Hallemeier

Now he's waving his arms about.

 

Domin

Busman, come back.

 

Fabry

Busman, keep away from that railing! Don't touch it. Damn you! Quick, switch off the current!
[Helena screams and all drop back from the window.]

 

Fabry

The current has killed him!

 

Alquist

The first one.

 

Fabry

Dead, with half a billion by his side.

 

Hallemeier

All honor to him. He wanted to buy us life.
[Pause]

 

Dr. Gall

Do you hear?

 

Domin

A roaring. Like a wind.

 

Dr. Gall

Like a distant storm.

 

Fabry

[Lighting the lamp on the table]: The dynamo is still going, our people are still there.

 

Hallemeier

It was a great thing to be a man. There was some thing immense about it.

 

Fabry

From man's thought and man's power came this light, our last hope.

 

Hallemeier

Man's power! May it keep watch over us.

 

Alquist

Man's power.

 

Domin

Yes! A torch to be given from hand to hand, from age to age, forever!
[The lamp goes out.]

 
 

Hallemeier

The end.

 

Fabry

The electric works have fallen!
[Terrific explosion outside. Nana enters from the library.]

 

Nana

The judgment hour has come! Repent, unbelievers! This is the end of the world.
[More explosions. The sky grows red.]

 

Domin

In here, Helena. [He takes Helena off through door at right and reënters.] Now quickly! Who'll be on the lower doorway?

 

Dr. Gall

I will.
[Exits left.]

 

Domin

Who on the stairs?

 

Fabry

I will. You go with her.
[Goes out upper left door.]

 

Domin

The anteroom?

 

Alquist

I will

 

Domin

Have you got a revolver?

 

Alquist

Yes, but I won't shoot.

 

Domin

What will you do then?

 

Alquist

[Going out at left]: Die.

 

Hallemeier

I'll stay here.
[Rapid firing from below.]

 

Hallemeier

Oho, Gall's at it. Go, Harry.

 

Domin

Yes, in a second. [Examines two Brownings.]

 

Hallemeier

Confound it, go to her.

 

Domin

Good-bye. [Exits on the right.]

 

Hallemeier

[Alone]: Now for a barricade quickly. [Drags an armchair and table to the right-hand door.]
[Explosions are heard.]

 

Hallemeier

The damned rascals! They've got bombs. I must put up a defense. Even if—even if—— [Shots are heard off left.] Don't give in, Gall. [As he builds his barricade.] I mustn't give in . . . without . . . a . . . struggle . . .
[A Robot enters over the balcony through the windows centre. He comes into the room and stabs Hallemeier in the back. Radius enters from balcony followed by an army of Robots who pour into the room from all sides.]

 

Radius

Finished him?

 

A Robot

[Standing up from the prostrate form of Hallemeier]: Yes.
[A revolver shot off left. Two Robots enter.]

 

Radius

Finished him?

 

A Robot

Yes.
[Two revolver shots from Helena's room. Two Robots enter.]

 

Radius

Finished them?

 

A Robot

Yes.

 

Two Robots

[Dragging in Alquist]: He didn't shoot. Shall we kill him?

 

Radius

Kill him? Wait! Leave him!

 
 

Robot

He is a man!

 

Radius

He works with his hands like the Robots.

 

Alquist

Kill me.

 

Radius

You will work! You will build for us! You will serve us!
[Radius climbs on to balcony railing, and speaks in measured tones.]

 

Radius

Robots of the world! The power of man has fallen! A new world has arisen: the Rule of the Robots! March!
[A thunderous tramping of thousands of feet is heard as the unseen Robots march, while the curtain falls.]