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Veteran foruma
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Variety is the spice of life

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Act IV

(SCENE.—DOCTOR WANGEL’S garden-room. Doors right
and left. In the background, between the windows, an
open glass door leading out on to the verandah. Below
this, a portion of the garden is visible. A sofa and table
down left. To the right a piano, and farther back a large
flower-stand. In the middle of the room a round table,
with chairs. On the table is a rose-tree in bloom, and
other plants around it. Morning.
In the room, by the table, BOLETTE is sitting on the
sofa, busy with some embroidery. LYNGSTRAND is seated
on a chair at the upper end of the table. In the garden
below BALLESTED sits painting. HILDE stands by watching
Lyngstrand (with his arms on the table, sits silent awhile,
looking at BOLETTE’S work). It must be awfully difficult
to do a border like that, Miss Wangel?
Bolette. Oh, no! It’s not very difficult, if only you take
care to count right.
Lyngstrand. To count? Must you count, too?
Bolette. Yes, the stiches. See!
Lyngstrand. So you do! Just fancy! Why, it’s almost a
kind of art. Can you design, too?
Bolette. Oh, yes! When I’ve a copy.
Lyngstrand. Not unless?
Bolette. No.
Lyngstrand. Well, then, after all, it’s not a real art?
Bolette. No; it is rather only a sort of—handicraft.
Lyngstrand. But still, I think that perhaps you could
learn art.
Bolette. If I haven’t any talent?
Lyngstrand. Yes; if you could always be with a real true
Bolette. Do you think, then, I could learn it from him?
Lyngstrand. Not exactly learn in the ordinary sense; but
I think it would grow upon you little by little—by a kind
of miracle as it were, Miss Wangel.
Bolette. That would be wonderful.
Lyngstrand (after a pause). Have you ever thought
about—I mean, have you ever thought deeply and earnestly
about marriage, Miss Wangel?
Bolette (looking quickly at him). About—no!
Lyngstrand. I have.
Bolette. Really? Have you?
Lyngstrand. Oh yes! I often think about things of that
sort, especially about marriage; and, besides, I’ve read
several books about it. I think marriage must be counted
a sort of miracle—that a woman should gradually change
until she is like her husband.
Bolette. You mean has like interests?
Lyngstrand. Yes, that’s it.
Bolette. Well, but his abilities—his talents—and his skill?
Lyngstrand. Hm—well—I should like to know if all that
Bolette. Then, perhaps, you also believe that everything
a man has read for himself, and thought out for himself,
that this, too, can grow upon his wife?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I think it can. Little by little; as by a
sort of miracle. But, of course, I know such things can
only happen in a marriage that is faithful, and loving, and
really happy.
Bolette. Has it never occurred to you that a man, too,
might, perhaps, be thus drawn over to his wife? Grow like
her, I mean.
Lyngstrand. A man? No, I never thought of that.
Bolette. But why not one as well as the other?
Lyngstrand. No; for a man has a calling that he lives for;
and that’s what makes a man so strong and firm, Miss
Wangel. He has a calling in life.
Bolette. Has every man?
Lyngstrand. Oh no! I am thinking more especially of artists.
Bolette. Do you think it right of an artist to get married?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I think so. If he can find one he can
heartily love, I—
Bolette. Still, I think he should rather live for his art
Lyngstrand. Of course he must; but he can do that just
as well, even if he marries.
Bolette. But how about her?
Lyngstrand. Her? Who?
Bolette. She whom he marries. What is she to live for?
Lyngstrand. She, too, is to live for his art. It seems to
me a woman must feel so thoroughly happy in that.
Bolette. Hm, I don’t exactly know—
Lyngstrand. Yes, Miss Wangel, you may be sure of that.
It is not merely all the honour and respect she enjoys
through him; for that seems almost the least important
to me. But it is this—that she can help him to create,
that she can lighten his work for him, be about him and
see to his comfort, and tend him well, and make his life
thoroughly pleasant. I should think that must be perfectly
delightful to a woman.
Bolette. Ah! You don’t yourself know how selfish you are!
Lyngstrand. I, selfish! Good heavens! Oh, if only you
knew me a little better than you do! (Bending closer to
her.) Miss Wangel, when once I am gone—and that will be
very soon now—
Bolette (looks pityingly at him). Oh, don’t think of anything
so sad!
Lyngstrand. But, really, I don’t think it is so very sad.
Bolette. What do you mean?
Lyngstrand. Well, you know that I set out in a month.
First from here, and then, of course, I’m going south.
Bolette. Oh, I see! Of course.
Lyngstrand. Will you think of me sometimes, then, Miss
Bolette. Yes, gladly.
Lyngstrand (pleased). No, promise!
Bolette. I promise.
Lyngstrand. By all that is sacred, Miss Bolette?
Bolette. By all that is sacred. (In a changed manner.) Oh,
but what can come of it all? Nothing on earth can come
of it!
Lyngstrand. How can you say that! It would be so delightful
for me to know you were at home here thinking of
Bolette. Well, and what else?
Lyngstrand. I don’t exactly know of anything else.
Bolette. Nor I either. There are so many things in the way.
Everything stands in the way, I think.
Lyngstrand. Oh, another miracle might come about. Some
happy dispensation of fortune, or something of the sort;
for I really believe I shall be lucky now.
Bolette (eagerly). Really? You do believe that?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I believe it thoroughly. And so—after a
few years—when I come home again as a celebrated sculptor,
and well off, and in perfect health!
Bolette. Yes, yes! Of course, we will hope so.
Lyngstrand. You may be perfectly certain about it. Only
think faithfully and kindly of me when I am down there in
the south; and now I have your word that you will.
Bolette. You have (shaking her head). But, all the same,
nothing will surely come of it.
Lyngstrand. Oh! yes, Miss Bolette. At least this will come
of it. I shall get on so much more easily and quickly with
my art work.
Bolette. Do you believe that, too?
Lyngstrand. I have an inner conviction of it. And I fancy
it will be so cheering for you, too—here in this out-ofthe-
way place-to know within yourself that you are, so to
say, helping me to create.
Bolette (looking at him). Well; but you on your side?
Lyngstrand. I?
Bolette (looking out into the garden). Hush! Let us speak
of something else. Here’s Mr. Arnholm.
(ARNHOLM is seen in the garden below. He stops and
talks to HILDE and BALLESTED.)
Lyngstrand. Are you fond of your old teacher, Miss
Bolette. Fond of him?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I mean do you care for him?
Bolette. Yes, indeed I do, for he is a true friend—and
adviser, too—and then he is always so ready to help when
he can.
Lyngstrand. Isn’t it extraordinary that he hasn’t married!
Bolette. Do you think it is extraordinary?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for you say he’s well-to-do.
Bolette. He is certainly said to be so. But probably it
wasn’t so easy to find anyone who’d have him.
Lyngstrand. Why?
Bolette. Oh! He’s been the teacher of nearly all the young
girls that he knows. He says that himself.
Lyngstrand. But what does that matter?
Bolette. Why, good heavens! One doesn’t marry a man
who’s been your teacher!
Lyngstrand. Don’t you think a young girl might love her
Bolette. Not after she’s really grown up.
Lyngstrand. No—fancy that!
Bolette (cautioning him). Sh! sh!
(Meanwhile BALLESTED has been gathering together his
things, and carries them out from the garden to the right.
HILDE helps him. ARNHOLM goes up the verandah, and
comes into the room.)
Arnholm. Good-morning, my dear Bolette. Good-morning,
Mr.—Mr.—hm—(He looks displeased, and nods coldly
to LYNGSTRAND, who rises.)
Bolette (rising up and going up to ARNHOLM). Good61
Henrik Ibsen
morning, Mr. Arnholm.
Arnholm. Everything all right here today?
Bolette. Yes, thanks, quite.
Arnholm. Has your stepmother gone to bathe again today?
Bolette. No. She is upstairs in her room.
Arnholm. Not very bright?
Bolette. I don’t know, for she has locked herself in.
Arnholm. Hm—has she?
Lyngstrand. I suppose Mrs. Wangel was very much frightened
about that American yesterday?
Arnholm. What do you know about that?
Lyngstrand. I told Mrs. Wangel that I had seen him in
the flesh behind the garden.
Arnholm. Oh! I see.
Bolette (to ARNHOLM). No doubt you and father sat up
very late last night, talking?
Arnholm. Yes, rather late. We were talking over serious
Bolette. Did you put in a word for me, and my affairs,
Arnholm. No, dear Bolette, I couldn’t manage it. He was
so completely taken up with something else.
Bolette (sighs). Ah! yes; he always is.
Arnholm (looks at her meaningly). But later on today
we’ll talk more fully about—the matter. Where’s your father
now? Not at home?
Bolette. Yes, he is. He must be down in the office. I’ll
fetch him.
Arnholm. No, thanks. Don’t do that. I’d rather go down
to him.
Bolette (listening). Wait one moment, Mr. Arnholm; I
believe that’s father on the stairs. Yes, I suppose he’s
been up to look after her.
(WANGEL comes in from the door on the left.)
Wangel (shaking ARNHOLM’S hand). What, dear friend,
are you here already? It was good of you to come so early,
for I should like to talk a little further with you.
Bolette (to LYNGSTRAND). Hadn’t we better go down to
Hilde in the garden?
Lyngstrand. I shall be delighted, Miss Wangel.
(He and BOLETTE go down into the garden, and pass out
between the trees in the background.)
Arnholm (following them with his eyes, turns to WANGEL).
Do you know anything about that young man?
Wangel. No, nothing at all.
Arnholm. But do you think it right he should knock about
so much with the girls?
Wangel. Does he? I really hadn’t noticed it.
Arnholm. You ought to see to it, I think.
Wangel. Yes, I suppose you’re right. But, good Lord! What’s
a man to do? The girls are so accustomed to look after
themselves now. They won’t listen to me, nor to Ellida.
Arnholm. Not to her either?
Wangel. No; and besides I really cannot expect Ellida to
trouble about such things. She’s not fit for that (breaking
off). But it wasn’t that which we were to talk of. Now tell
me, have you thought the matter over—thought over all
I told you of?
Arnholm. I have thought of nothing else ever since we
parted last night.
Wangel. And what do you think should be done?
Arnholm. Dear Wangel, I think you, as a doctor, must
know that better than I.
Wangel. Oh! if you only knew how difficult it is for a
doctor to judge rightly about a patient who is so dear to
him! Besides, this is no ordinary illness. No ordinary doctor
and no ordinary medicines can help her.
Arnholm. How is she today?
Wangel. I was upstairs with her just now, and then she
seemed to me quite calm; but behind all her moods something
lies hidden which it is impossible for me to fathom;
and then she is so changeable, so capricious—she varies
so suddenly.
Arnholm. No doubt that is the result of her morbid state
of mind.
Wangel. Not altogether. When you go down to the bedrock,
it was born in her. Ellida belongs to the sea-folk.
That is the matter.
Arnholm. What do you really mean, my dear doctor?
Wangel. Haven’t you noticed that the people from out
there by the open sea are, in a way, a people apart? It is
almost as if they themselves lived the life of the sea.
There is the rush of waves, and ebb and flow too, both in
their thoughts and in their feelings, and so they can never
bear transplanting. Oh! I ought to have remembered that.
It was a sin against Ellida to take her away from there,
and bring her here.
Arnholm. You have come to that opinion?
Wangel. Yes, more and more. But I ought to have told
myself this beforehand. Oh! I knew it well enough at bottom!
But I put it from me. For, you see, I loved her so!
Therefore, I thought of myself first of all. I was inexcusably
selfish at that time!
Arnholm. Hm. I suppose every man is a little selfish under
such circumstances. Moreover, I’ve never noticed that
vice in you, Doctor Wangel.
Wangel (walks uneasily about the room). Oh, yes! And I
have been since then, too. Why, I am so much, much
older than she is. I ought to have been at once as a father
to her and a guide. I ought to have done my best to
develop and enlighten her mind. Unfortunately nothing
ever came of that. You see, I hadn’t stamina enough, for
I preferred her just as she was. So things went worse and
worse with her, and then I didn’t know what to do. (In a
lower voice.) That was why I wrote to you in my trouble,
and asked you to come here.
Arnholm (looks at him in astonishment). What, was it for
this you wrote?
Wangel. Yes; but don’t let anyone notice anything.
Arnholm. How on earth, dear doctor—what good did
you expect me to be? I don’t understand it.
Wangel. No, naturally. For I was on an altogether false
track. I thought Ellida’s heart had at one time gone out
to you, and that she still secretly cared for you a little—
that perhaps it would do her good to see you again, and
talk of her home and the old days.
Arnholm. So it was your wife you meant when you wrote
that she expected me, and—and perhaps longed for me.
Wangel. Yes, who else?
Arnholm (hurriedly). No, no. You’re right. But I didn’t
Wangel. Naturally, as I said, for I was on an absolutely
wrong track.
Arnholm. And you call yourself selfish!
Wangel. Ah! but I had such a great sin to atone for. I felt
I dared not neglect any means that might give the slightest
relief to her mind.
Arnholm. How do you really explain the power this stranger
exercises over her?
Wangel. Hm—dear friend—there may be sides to the matter
that cannot be explained.
Arnholm. Do you mean anything inexplicable in itself—
absolutely inexplicable?
Wangel. In any case not explicable as far as we know.
Arnholm. Do you believe there is something in it, then?
Wangel. I neither believe nor deny; I simply don’t know.
That’s why I leave it alone.
Arnholm. Yes. But just one thing: her extraordinary, weird
assertion about the child’s eyes—
Wangel (eagerly). I don’t believe a word about the eyes.
I will not believe such a thing. It must be purely fancy on
her part, nothing else.
Arnholm. Did you notice the man’s eyes when you saw
him yesterday?
Wangel. Of course I did.
Arnholm. And you saw no sort of resemblance?
Wangel (evasively). Hm—good heavens! What shall I say?
It wasn’t quite light when I saw him; and, besides, Ellida
had been saying so much about this resemblance, I really
don’t know if I was capable of observing quite impartially.
Arnholm. Well, well, may be. But that other matter? All
this terror and unrest coming upon her at the very time,
as it seems, this strange man was on his way home.
Wangel. That—oh! that’s something she must have persuaded
and dreamed herself into since it happened. She
was not seized with this so suddenly—all at once—as she
now maintains. But since she heard from young Lyngstrand
that Johnston—or Friman, or whatever his name is—was
on his way hither, three years ago, in the month of March,
she now evidently believes her unrest of mind came upon
her at that very time.
Arnholm. It was not so, then?
Wangel. By no means. There were signs and symptoms of
it before this time, though it did happen, by chance, that
in that month of March, three years ago, she had a rather
severe attack.
Arnholm. After all, then—?
Wangel. Yes, but that is easily accounted for by the circumstances—
the condition she happened to be in at the
Arnholm. So, symptom for symptom, then.
Wangel (wringing his hands). And not to be able to help
her! Not to know how to counsel her! To see no way!
Arnholm. Now if you could make up your mind to leave
this place, to go somewhere else, so that she could live
amid surroundings that would seem more homelike to her?
Wangel. Ah, dear friend! Do you think I haven’t offered
her that, too? I suggested moving out to Skjoldviken,
but she will not.
Arnholm. Not that either?
Wangel. No, for she doesn’t think it would be any good;
and perhaps she’s right.
Arnholm. Hm. Do you say that?
Wangel. Moreover, when I think it all over carefully, I
really don’t know how I could manage it. I don’t think I
should be justified, for the sake of the girls, in going away
to such a desolate place. After all, they must live where
there is at least a prospect of their being provided for
Arnholm. Provided for! Are you thinking about that already?
Wangel. Heaven knows, I must think of that too! But
then, on the other hand, again, my poor sick Ellida! Oh,
dear Arnholm! in many respects I seem to be standing
between fire and water!
Arnholm. Perhaps you’ve no need to worry on Bolette’s
account. (Breaking off.) I should like to know where she—
where they have gone. (Goes up to the open door and
looks out.)
Wangel. Oh, I would so gladly make any sacrifice for all
three of them, if only I knew what!
(ELLIDA enters from the door on the left.)
Ellida (quickly to WANGEL). Be sure you don’t go out
this morning.
Wangel. No, no! of course not. I will stay at home with
you. (Pointing to ARNHOLM, who is coming towards them.)
But won’t you speak to our friend?
Ellida (turning). Oh, are you here, Mr. Arnholm? (Holding
out her hand to him.) Good-morning.
Arnholm. Good-morning, Mrs. Wangel. So you’ve not been
bathing as usual today?
Ellida. No, no, no! That is out of the question today. But
won’t you sit down a moment?
Arnholm. No, thanks, not now. (Looks at WANGEL.) I
promised the girls to go down to them in the garden.
Ellida. Goodness knows if you’ll find them there. I never
know where they may be rambling.
Wangel. They’re sure to be down by the pond.
Arnholm. Oh! I shall find them right enough. (Nods, and
goes out across the verandah into the garden.)
Ellida. What time is it, Wangel?
Wangel (looking at his watch). A little past eleven.
Ellida. A little past. And at eleven o’clock, or half-past
eleven tonight, the steamer is coming. If only that were
Wangel (going nearer to her). Dear Ellida, there is one
thing I should like to ask you.
Ellida. What is it?
Wangel. The evening before last—up at the “View”—you
said that during the last three years you had so often seen
him bodily before you.
Ellida. And so I have. You may believe that.
Wangel. But, how did you see him?
Ellida. How did I see him?
Wangel. I mean, how did he look when you thought you
saw him?
Ellida. But, dear Wangel, why, you now know yourself
how he looks.
Wangel. Did he look exactly like that in your imagination?
Ellida. He did.
Wangel. Exactly the same as you saw him in reality yesterday
Ellida. Yes, exactly.
Wangel. Then how was it you did not at once recognise
Ellida. Did I not?
Wangel. No; you said yourself afterwards that at first you
did not at all know who the strange man was.
Ellida (perplexed). I really believe you are right. Don’t
you think that strange, Wangel? Fancy my not knowing
him at once!
Wangel. It was only the eyes, you said.
Ellida. Oh, yes! The eyes—the eyes.
Wangel. Well, but at the “View” you said that he always
appeared to you exactly as he was when you parted out
there—ten years ago.
Ellida. Did I?
Wangel. Yes.
Ellida. Then, I suppose he did look much as he does now.
Wangel. No. On our way home, the day before yesterday,
you gave quite another description of him. Ten years ago
he had no beard, you said. His dress, too, was quite different.
And that breast-pin with the pearl? That man yesterday
wore nothing of the sort.
Ellida. No, he did not.
Wangel (looks searchingly at her). Now just think a little,
dear Ellida. Or perhaps you can’t quite remember how he
looked when he stood by you at Bratthammer?
Ellida (thoughtfully closing her eyes for a moment). Not
quite distinctly. No, today I can’t. Is it not strange?
Wangel. Not so very strange after all. You have now been
confronted by a new and real image, and that overshadows
the old one, so that you can no longer see it.
Ellida. Do you believe that, Wangel?
Wangel. Yes. And it overshadows your sick imaginings,
too. That is why it is good a reality has come.
Ellida. Good? Do you think it good?
Wangel. Yes. That it has come. It may restore you to health.
Ellida (sitting down on sofa). Wangel, come and sit down
by me. I must tell you all my thoughts.
Wangel. Yes, do, dear Ellida.
(He sits down on a chair on the other side of the table.)
Ellida. It was really a great misfortune—for us both—
that we two of all people should have come together.
Wangel (amazed). What are you saying?
Ellida. Oh, yes, it was. And it’s so natural. It could bring
nothing but unhappiness, after the way in which we came
Wangel. What was there in that way?
Ellida. Listen, Wangel; it’s no use going on, lying to ourselves
and to one another.
Wangel. Are we doing so? Lying, you say?
Ellida. Yes, we are; or, at least, we suppress the truth.
For the truth—the pure and simple truth is—that you
came out there and bought me.
Wangel. Bought—you say bought!
Ellida. Oh! I wasn’t a bit better than you. I accepted the
bargain. Sold myself to you!
Wangel (looks at her full of pain). Ellida, have you really
the heart to call it that?
Ellida. But is there any other name for it? You could no
longer bear the emptiness of your house. You were on the
look-out for a new wife.
Wangel. And a new mother for the children, Ellida.
Ellida. That too, perhaps, by the way; although you didn’t
in the least know if I were fit for the position. Why, you
had only seen me and spoken to me a few times. Then you
wanted me, and so—
Wangel. Yes, you may call it as you will.
Ellida. And I, on my side—why, I was so helpless and
bewildered, and so absolutely alone. Oh! it was so natural
I should accept the bargain, when you came and proposed
to provide for me all my life.
Wangel. Assuredly it did not seem to me a providing for
you, dear Ellida. I asked you honestly if you would share
with me and the children the little I could call my own.
Ellida. Yes, you did; but all the same, I should never have
accepted! Never have accepted that at any price! Not sold
myself! Better the meanest work—better the poorest life—
after one’s own choice.
Wangel (rising). Then have the five—six years that we
have lived together been so utterly worthless to you?
Ellida. Oh! Don’t think that, Wangel. I have been as well
cared for here as human being could desire. But I did not
enter your house freely. That is the thing.
Wangel (looking at her). Not freely!
Ellida. No. It was not freely that I went with you.
Wangel (in subdued tone). Ah! I remember your words of
Ellida. It all lies in those words. They have enlightened
me; and so I see it all now.
Wangel. What do you see?
Ellida. I see that the life we two live together—is really
no marriage.
Wangel (bitterly). You have spoken truly there. The life
we now live is not a marriage.
Ellida. Nor was it formerly. Never—not from the very first
(looks straight in front of her). The first—that might have
been a complete and real marriage.
Wangel. The first—what do you mean?
Ellida. Mine—with him.
Wangel (looks at her in astonishment). I do not in the
least understand you.
Ellida. Ah! dear Wangel, let us not lie to one another, nor
to ourselves.
Wangel. Well—what more?
Ellida. You see—we can never get away from that one
thing—that a freely given promise is fully as binding as a
Wangel. But what on earth—
Ellida (rising impetuously). Set me free, Wangel!
Wangel. Ellida! Ellida!
Ellida. Yes, yes! Oh! grant me that! Believe me, it will
come to that all the same—after the way we two came
Wangel (conquering his pain). It has come to this, then?
Ellida. It has come to this. It could not be otherwise.
Wangel (looking gloomily at her). So I have not won you
by our living together. Never, never possessed you quite.
Ellida. Ah! Wangel—if only I could love you, how gladly
I would—as dearly as you deserve. But I feel it so well—
that will never be.
Wangel. Divorce, then? It is a divorce, a complete, legal
divorce that you want?
Ellida. Dear, you understand me so little! I care nothing
for such formalities. Such outer things matter nothing, I
think. What I want is that we should, of our own free will,
release each other.
Wangel (bitterly, nods slowly). To cry off the bargain
Ellida (quickly). Exactly. To cry off the bargain.
Wangel. And then, Ellida? Afterwards? Have you reflected
what life would be to both of us? What life would be to
both you and me?
Ellida. No matter. Things must turn out afterwards as
they may. What I beg and implore of you, Wangel, is the
most important. Only set me free! Give me back my complete
Wangel. Ellida, it is a fearful thing you ask of me. At least
give me time to collect myself before I come to a decision.
Let us talk it over more carefully. And you yourself—
take time to consider what you are doing.
Ellida. But we have no time to lose with such matters. I
must have my freedom again today.
Wangel. Why today?
Ellida. Because he is coming tonight.
Wangel (starts). Coming! He! What has this stranger to
do with it?
Ellida. I want to face him in perfect freedom.
Wangel. And what—what else do you intend to do?
Ellida. I will not hide behind the fact that I am the wife
of another man; nor make the excuse that I have no choice,
for then it would be no decision.
Wangel. You speak of a choice. Choice, Ellida! A choice in
such a matter!
Ellida. Yes, I must be free to choose—to choose for either
side. I must be able to let him go away—alone, or to
go with him.
Wangel. Do you know what you are saying? Go with him—
give your whole life into his hands!
Ellida. Didn’t I give my life into your hands, and without
any ado?
Wangel. Maybe. But he! He! an absolute stranger! A man
of whom you know so little!
Ellida. Ah! but after all I knew you even less; and yet I
went with you.
Wangel. Then you knew to some extent what life lay before
you. But now? Think! What do you know? You know
absolutely nothing. Not even who or what he is.
Ellida (looking in front of her). That is true; but that is
the terror.
Wangel. Yes, indeed, it is terrible!
Ellida. That is why I feel I must plunge into it.
Wangel (looking at her). Because it seems terrible?
Ellida. Yes; because of that.
Wangel (coming closer). Listen, Ellida. What do you really
mean by terrible?
Ellida (reflectively). The terrible is that which repels and
Wangel. Attracts, you say?
Ellida. Attracts most of all, I think.
Wangel (slowly). You are one with the sea.
Ellida. That, too, is a terror.
Wangel. And that terror is in you. You both repel and
Ellida. Do you think so, Wangel?
Wangel. After all, I have never really known you—never
really. Now I am beginning to understand.
Ellida. And that is why you must set me free! Free me
from every bond to you—and yours. I am not what you
took me for. Now you see it yourself. Now we can part as
friends—and freely.
Wangel (sadly). Perhaps it would be better for us both if
we parted—And yet, I cannot! You are the terror to me,
Ellida; the attraction is what is strongest in you.
Ellida. Do you say that?
Wangel. Let us try and live through this day wisely—in
perfect quiet of mind. I dare not set you free, and release
you today. I have no right to. No right for your own sake,
Ellida. I exercise my right and my duty to protect you.
Ellida. Protect? What is there to protect me from? I am
not threatened by any outward power. The terror lies deeper,
Wangel. The terror is—the attraction in my own mind.
And what can you do against that?
Wangel. I can strengthen and urge you to fight against it.
Ellida. Yes; if I wished to fight against it.
Wangel. Then you do not wish to?
Ellida. Oh! I don’t know myself.
Wangel. Tonight all will be decided, dear Ellida-
Ellida (bursting out). Yes, think! The decision so near—
the decision for one’s whole life!
Wangel. And then tomorrow—Ellida. Tomorrow! Perhaps
my real future will have been ruined.
Wangel. Your real—Ellida. The whole, full life of freedom
lost—lost for me, and perhaps for him also.
Wangel (in a lower tone, seizing her wrist). Ellida, do you
love this stranger?
Ellida. Do I? Oh, how can I tell! I only know that to me
he is a terror, and that—
Wangel. And that—
Ellida (tearing herself away). And that it is to him I think
I belong.
Wangel (bowing his head). I begin to understand better.
Ellida. And what remedy have you for that? What advice
to give me?
Wangel (looking sadly at her). Tomorrow he will be gone,
then the misfortune will be averted from your head; and
then I will consent to set you free. We will cry off the
bargain tomorrow, Ellida.
Ellida. Ah, Wangel, tomorrow! That is too late.
Wangel (looking towards garden). The children—the children!
Let us spare them, at least for the present.
into the garden. LYNGSTRAND says goodbye in the garden,
and goes out. The rest come into the room.)
Arnholm. You must know we have been making plans.
Hilde. We’re going out to the fjord tonight and—
Bolette. No; you mustn’t tell.
Wangel. We two, also, have been making plans.
Arnholm. Ah!—really?
Wangel. Tomorrow Ellida is going away to Skjoldviken for
a time.
Bolette. Going away?
Arnholm. Now, look here, that’s very sensible, Mrs. Wangel.
Wangel. Ellida wants to go home again—home to the
Hilde (springing towards ELLIDA). You are going away—
away from us?
Ellida (frightened). Hilde! What is the matter?
Hilde (controlling herself). Oh, it’s nothing. (In a low
voice, turning from her.) Are only you going?
Bolette (anxiously). Father—I see it—you, too, are going—
to Skjoldviken!
Wangel. No, no! Perhaps I shall run out there every now
and again.
Bolette. And come here to us?
Wangel. I will—Bolette. Every now and again!
Wangel. Dear child, it must be. (He crosses the room.)
Arnholm (whispers). We will talk it over later, Bolette.
(He crosses to WANGEL. They speak in low tones up stage
by the door.)
Ellida (aside to BOLETTE). What was the matter with
Hilde? She looked quite scared.
Bolette. Have you never noticed what Hilde goes about
here, day in, day out, hungering for?
Ellida. Hungering for?
Bolette. Ever since you came into the house?
Ellida. No, no. What is it?
Bolette. One loving word from you.
Ellida. Oh! If there should be something for me to do
(She clasps her hands together over her head, and looks
fixedly in front of her, as if torn by contending thoughts
and emotions. WANGEL and ARNHOLM come across the
room whispering. BOLETTE goes to the side room, and
looks in. Then she throws open the door.)
Bolette. Father, dear—the table is laid—if you—
Wangel (with forced composure). Is it, child? That’s well.
Come, Arnholm! We’ll go in and drink a farewell cup—with
the “Lady from the Sea.” (They go out through the right.)
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Act V

(SCENE.—The distant part of DOCTOR WANGEL’S garden,
and the carp pond. The summer night gradually darkens.
boat, punting along the shore to the left.)
Hilde. See! We can jump ashore easily here.
Arnholm. No, no; don’t!
Lyngstrand. I can’t jump, Miss Hilde.
Hilde. Can’t you jump either, Arnholm?
Arnholm. I’d rather not try.
Bolette. Then let’s land down there, by the bathing steps.
(They push off. At the same moment BALLESTED comes
along the footpath, carrying music-books and a French
horn. He bows to those in the boat, turns and speaks to
them. The answers are heard farther and farther away.)
Ballested. What do you say? Yes, of course it’s on account
of the English steamer; for this is her last visit here
this year. But if you want to enjoy the pleasures of melody,
you mustn’t wait too long. (Calling out.) What? (Shaking
his head.) Can’t hear what you say!
(ELLIDA, with a shawl over her head, enters, followed by
Wangel. But, dear Ellida, I assure you there’s plenty of
Ellida. No, no, there is not! He may come any moment.
Ballested (outside the fence). Hallo! Good-evening, doctor.
Good-evening, Mrs. Wangel.
Wangel (noticing him). Oh! is it you? Is there to be music
Ballested. Yes; the Wind Band Society thought of making
themselves heard. We’ve no dearth of festive occasions
nowadays. Tonight it’s in honour of the English ship.
Ellida. The English ship! Is she in sight already?
Ballested. Not yet. But you know she comes from between
the islands. You can’t see anything of her, and then
she’s alongside of you.
Ellida. Yes, that is so.
Wangel (half to ELLIDA). Tonight is the last voyage, then
she will not come again.
Ballested. A sad thought, doctor, and that’s why we’re
going to give them an ovation, as the saying is. Ah! Yes—
ah! yes. The glad summertime will soon be over now. Soon
all ways will be barred, as they say in the tragedy.
Ellida. All ways barred—yes!
Ballested. It’s sad to think of. We have been the joyous
children of summer for weeks and months now. It’s hard
to reconcile yourself to the dark days—just at first, I
mean. For men can accli—a—acclimatise themselves, Mrs.
Wangel. Ay, indeed they can. (Bows, and goes off to the
Ellida (looking out at the fjord). Oh, this terrible suspense!
This torturing last half-hour before the decision!
Wangel. You are determined, then, to speak to him yourself?
Ellida. I must speak to him myself; for it is freely that I
must make my choice.
Wangel. You have no choice, Ellida. You have no right to
choose—no right without my permission.
Ellida. You can never prevent the choice, neither you nor
anyone. You can forbid me to go away with him—to follow
him—in case I should choose to do that. You can
keep me here by force—against my will. That you can do.
But that I should choose, choose from my very soul—
choose him, and not you—in case I would and did choose
thus—this you cannot prevent.
Wangel. No; you are right. I cannot prevent that.
Ellida. And so I have nothing to help me to resist. Here,
at home, there is no single thing that attracts me and
binds me. I am so absolutely rootless in your house, Wangel.
The children are not mine—their hearts, I mean—never
have been. When I go, if I do go, either with him tonight,
or to Skjoldviken tomorrow, I haven’t a key to give up, an
order to give about anything whatsoever. I am absolutely
rootless in your house—I have been absolutely outside
everything from the very first.
Wangel. You yourself wished it.
Ellida. No, no, I did not. I neither wished nor did not
wish it. I simply left things just as I found them the day
I came here. It is you, and no one else, who wished it.
Wangel. I thought to do all for the best for you.
Ellida. Yes, Wangel, I know it so well! But there is retribution
in that, a something that avenges itself. For now I
find no binding power here-nothing to strengthen me—
nothing to help me—nothing to draw me towards what
should have been the strongest possession of us both.
Wangel. I see it, Ellida. And that is why from t-morrow
you shall have back your freedom. Henceforth, you shall
live your own life.
Ellida. And you call that my own life! No! My own true
life lost its bearings when I agreed to live with you.
(Clenches her hand in fear and unrest.) And now—tonight—
in half an hour, he whom I forsook is coming—he
to whom I should have cleaved forever, even as he has
cleaved to me! Now he is coming to offer me—for the last
and only time—the chance of living my life over again, of
living my own true life—the life that terrifies and attracts—
and I can not forgo that—not freely.
Wangel. That is why it is necessary your husband—and
your doctor—should take the power of acting from you,
and act on your behalf.
Ellida. Yes, Wangel, I quite understand. Believe me, there
are times when I think it would be peace and deliverance
if with all my soul I could be bound to you—and try to
brave all that terrifies—and attracts. But I cannot! No,
no, I cannot do that!
Wangel. Come, Ellida, let us walk up and down together
for awhile.
Ellida. I would gladly—but I dare not. For he said I was
to wait for him here.
Wangel. Come! There is time enough.
Ellida. Do you think so?
Wangel. Plenty of time, I tell you.
Ellida. Then let us go, for a little while.
(They pass out in the foreground. At the same time
ARNHOLM and BOLETTE appear by the upper bank of the
Bolette (noticing the two as they go out). See there—
Arnholm (in low voice). Hush! Let them go. Bolette. Can
you understand what has been going on between them
these last few days?
Arnholm. Have you noticed anything?
Bolette. Have I not!
Arnholm. Anything peculiar?
Bolette. Yes, one thing and another. Haven’t you?
Arnholm. Well—I don’t exactly know.
Bolette. Yes, you have; only you won’t speak out about
Arnholm. I think it will do your stepmother good to go
on this little journey.
Bolette. Do you think so?
Arnholm. I should say it would be well for all parties that
she should get away every now and then.
Bolette. If she does go home to Skjoldviken tomorrow,
she will never come back here again!
Arnholm. My dear Bolette, whatever makes you think that?
Bolette. I am quite convinced of it. Just you wait; you’ll
see that she’ll not come back again; not anyhow as long
as I and Hilde are in the house here.
Arnholm. Hilde, too?
Bolette. Well, it might perhaps be all right with Hilde.
For she is scarcely more than a child. And I believe that at
bottom she worships Ellida. But, you see, it’s different
with me—a stepmother who isn’t so very much older than
Arnholm. Dear Bolette, perhaps it might, after all, not
be so very long before you left.
Bolette (eagerly). Really! Have you spoken to father about
Arnholm. Yes, I have.
Bolette. Well, what does he say?
Arnholm. Hm! Well, your father’s so thoroughly taken up
with other matters just now—
Bolette. Yes, yes! that’s how I knew it would be.
Arnholm. But I got this much out of him. You mustn’t
reckon upon any help from him.
Bolette. No?
Arnholm. He explained his circumstances to me clearly;
he thought that such a thing was absolutely out of the
question, impossible for him.
Bolette (reproachfully). And you had the heart to come
and mock me?
Arnholm. I’ve certainly not done that, dear Bolette. It
depends wholly and solely upon yourself whether you go
away or not.
Bolette. What depends upon me?
Arnholm. Whether you are to go out into the world—
learn all you most care for—take part in all you are hungering
after here at home—live your life under brighter
conditions, Bolette.
Bolette (clasping her hands together). Good God! But
it’s impossible! If father neither can nor will—and I have
no one else on earth to whom I could turn—Arnholm.
Couldn’t you make up your mind to accept a little help
from your old—from your former teacher?
Bolette. From you, Mr. Arnholm! Would you be willing
Arnholm. Stand by you! Yes—with all my heart. Both
with word and in deed. You may count upon it. Then you
accept? Well? Do you agree?
Bolette. Do I agree! To get away—to see the world—to
learn something thoroughly! All that seemed to be a great,
beautiful impossibility!
Arnholm. All that may now become a reality to you, if
only you yourself wish it.
Bolette. And to all this unspeakable happiness you will
help me! Oh, no! Tell me, can I accept such an offer from
a stranger?
Arnholm. You can from me, Bolette. From me you can
accept anything.
Bolette (seizing his hands). Yes, I almost think I can! I
don’t know how it is, but—(bursting out) Oh! I could
both laugh and cry for joy, for happiness! Then I should
know life really after all. I began to be so afraid life would
pass me by.
Arnholm. You need not fear that, Bolette. But now you
must tell me quite frankly—if there is anything—anything
you are bound to here.
Bolette. Bound to? Nothing.
Arnholm. Nothing whatever?
Bolette. No, nothing at all. That is—I am bound to father
to some extent. And to Hilde, too. But—
Arnholm. Well, you’ll have to leave your father sooner or
later. And some time Hilde also will go her own way in
life. That is only a question of time. Nothing more. And so
there is nothing else that binds you, Bolette? Not any
kind of connection?
Bolette. Nothing whatever. As far as that goes, I could
leave at any moment.
Arnholm. Well, if that is so, dear Bolette, you shall go
away with me!
Bolette (clapping her hands). 0h God! What joy to think
of it!
Arnholm. For I hope you trust me fully?
Bolette. Indeed, I do!
Arnholm. And you dare to trust yourself and your future
fully and confidently into my hands, Bolette? Is that true?
You will dare to do this?
Bolette. Of course; how could I not do so? Could you
believe anything else? You, who have been my old teacher—
my teacher in the old days, I mean.
Arnholm. Not because of that. I will not consider that
side of the matter; but—well, so you are free, Bolette!
There is nothing that binds you, and so I ask you, if you
could—if you could—bind yourself to me for life?
Bolette (steps back frightened). What are you saying?
Arnholm. For all your life, Bolette. Will you be my wife?
Bolette (half to herself). No, no, no! That is impossible,
utterly impossible!
Arnholm. It is really so absolutely impossible for you
Bolette. But, surely, you cannot mean what you are saying,
Mr. Arnholm! (Looking at him.) Or—yet—was that
what you meant when you offered to do so much for me?
Arnholm. You must listen to me one moment, Bolette. I
suppose I have greatly surprised you!
Bolette. Oh! how could such a thing from you—how could
it but—but surprise me!
Arnholm. Perhaps you are right. Of course, you didn’t—
you could not know it was for your sake I made this
Bolette. Did you come here for—for my sake?
Arnholm. I did, Bolette. In the spring I received a letter
from your father, and in it there was a passage that made
me think—hm—that you held your former teacher in—in
a little more than friendly remembrance.
Bolette. How could father write such a thing?
Arnholm. He did not mean it so. But I worked myself
into the belief that here was a young girl longing for me
to come again—No, you mustn’t interrupt me, dear
Bolette! And—you see, when a man like myself, who is no
longer quite young, has such a belief—or fancy, it makes
an overwhelming impression. There grew within me a living,
a grateful affection for you; I thought I must come
to you, see you again, and tell you I shared the feelings
that I fancied you had for me.
Bolette. And now you know it is not so!—that it was a
Arnholm. It can’t be helped, Bolette. Your image, as I
bear it within myself, will always be coloured and stamped
with the impression that this mistake gave me. Perhaps
you cannot understand this; but still it is so.
Bolette. I never thought such a thing possible.
Arnholm. But now you have seen that it is possible, what
do you say now, Bolette? Couldn’t you make up your mind
to be—yes—to be my wife?
Bolette. Oh! it seems so utterly impossible, Mr. Arnholm.
You, who have been my teacher! I can’t imagine ever standing
in any other relation towards you.
Arnholm. Well, well, if you think you really cannot—
Then our old relations remain unchanged, dear Bolette.
Bolette. What do you mean?
Arnholm. Of course, to keep my promise all the same. I
will take care you get out into the world and see something
of it. Learn some things you really want to know;
live safe and independent. Your future I shall provide for
also, Bolette. For in me you will always have a good,
faithful, trustworthy friend. Be sure of that.
Bolette. Good heavens! Mr. Arnholm, all that is so utterly
impossible now.
Arnholm. Is that impossible too?
Bolette. Surely you can see that! After what you have
just said to me, and after my answer—Oh! you yourself
must see that it is impossible for me now to accept so
very much from you. I can accept nothing from you—
nothing after this.
Arnholm. So you would rather stay at home here, and let
life pass you by?
Bolette. Oh! it is such dreadful misery to think of that.
Arnholm. Will you renounce knowing something of the
outer world? Renounce bearing your part in all that you
yourself say you are hungering for? To know there is so
infinitely much, and yet never really to understand anything
of it? Think carefully, Bolette.
Bolette. Yes, yes! You are right, Mr. Arnholm.
Arnholm. And then, when one day your father is no longer
here, then perhaps to be left helpless and alone in the
world; or live to give yourself to another man—whom
you, perhaps, will also feel no affection for—
Bolette. Oh, yes! I see how true all you say is. But still—
and yet perhaps—
Arnholm (quickly). Well?
Bolette (looking at him hesitatingly). Perhaps it might
not be so impossible after all.
Arnholm. What, Bolette?
Bolette. Perhaps it might be possible—to accept—what
you proposed to me.
Arnholm. Do you mean that, after all, you might be willing
to—that at all events you could give me the happiness
of helping you as a steadfast friend?
Bolette. No, no, no! Never that, for that would be utterly
impossible now. No—Mr. Arnholm—rather take me.
Arnholm. Bolette! You will?
Bolette. Yes, I believe I will.
Arnholm. And after all you will be my wife?
Bolette. Yes; if you still think that—that you will have
Arnholm. Think! (Seizing her hand.) Oh, thanks, thanks,
Bolette. All else that you said—your former doubts—
these do not frighten me. If I do not yet possess your
whole heart, I shall know how to conquer it. Oh, Bolette,
I will wait upon you hand and foot!
Bolette. And then I shall see something of the world?
Shall live! You have promised me that?
Arnholm. And will keep my promise.
Bolette. And I may learn everything I want to?
Arnholm. I, myself, will be your teacher as formerly,
Bolette. Do you remember the last school year?
Bolette (quietly and absently). To think—to know—one’s
self free, and to get out into the strange world, and then,
not to need to be anxious for the future—not to be harassed
about one’s stupid livelihood!
Arnholm. No, you will never need to waste a thought
upon such matters. And that’s a good thing, too, in its
way, dear Bolette, isn’t it? Eh?
Bolette. Indeed it is. That is certain.
Arnholm (putting his arms about her). Oh, you will see
how comfortably and easily we shall settle down together!
And how well and safely and trustfully we two shall get on
with one another, Bolette.
Bolette. Yes. I also begin to—I believe really—it will
answer. (Looks out to the right, and hurriedly frees herself.)
Oh, don’t say anything about this.
Arnholm. What is it, dear?
Bolette. Oh! it’s that poor (pointing}—see out there.
Arnholm. Is it your father?
Bolette. No. It’s the young sculptor. He’s down there
with Hilde.
Arnholm. Oh, Lyngstrand! What’s really the matter with
Bolette. Why, you know how weak and delicate he is.
Arnholm. Yes. Unless it’s simply imaginary.
Bolette. No, it’s real enough! He’ll not last long. But
perhaps that’s best for him.
Arnholm. Dear, why should that be best?
Bolette. Because—because—nothing would come of his
art anyhow. Let’s go before they come.
Arnholm. Gladly, my dear Bolette.
(HILDE and LYNGSTRAND appear by the pond.)
Hilde. Hi, hi! Won’t your honours wait for us?
Arnholm. Bolette and I would rather go on a little in
advance. (He and BOLETTE go out to the Left.)
Lyngstrand (laughs quietly). It’s very delightful here now.
Everybody goes about in pairs—always two and two together.
Hilde (looking after them). I could almost swear he’s
proposing to her.
Lyngstrand. Really? Have you noticed anything?
Hilde. Yes. It’s not very difficult—if you keep your eyes
Lyngstrand. But Miss Bolette won’t have him. I’m certain
of that.
Hilde. No. For she thinks he’s got so dreadfully old-looking,
and she thinks he’ll soon get bald.
Lyngstrand. It’s not only because of that. She’d not have
him anyhow.
Hilde. How can you know?
Lyngstrand. Well, because there’s someone else she’s promised
to think of.
Hilde. Only to think of?
Lyngstrand. While he is away, yes.
Hilde. Oh! then I suppose it’s you she’s to think of.
Lyngstrand. Perhaps it might be.
Hilde. She promised you that?
Lyngstrand. Yes—think—she promised me that! But mind
you don’t tell her you know.
Hilde. Oh! I’ll be mum! I’m as secret as the grave.
Lyngstrand. I think it’s awfully kind of her.
Hilde. And when you come home again—are you going to
be engaged to her, and then marry her?
Lyngstrand. No, that wouldn’t very well do. For I daren’t
think of such a thing during the first years. And when I
shall be able to, she’ll be rather too old for me, I fancy.
Hilde. And yet you wish her to think of you?
Lyngstrand. Yes; that’s so useful to me. You see, I’m an
artist. And she can very well do it, because she herself has
no real calling. But all the same, it’s kind of her.
Hilde. Do you think you’ll be able to get on more quickly
with your work if you know that Bolette is here thinking
of you?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I fancy so. To know there is a spot on
earth where a young, gentle, reserved woman is quietly
dreaming about you—I fancy it must be so—so-well, I
really don’t exactly know what to call it.
Hilde. Perhaps you mean—fascinating?
Lyngstrand. Fascinating! Oh, yes! Fascinating was what I
meant, or something like it. (Looks at her for a moment.)
You are so clever, Miss Hilde. Really you are very clever.
When I come home again you’ll be about the same age as
your sister is now. Perhaps, too, you’ll look like your sister
looks now. And perhaps, too, you’ll be of the same mind
she is now. Then, perhaps, you’ll be both yourself and
your sister—in one form, so to say.
Hilde. Would you like that?
Lyngstrand. I hardly know. Yes; I almost think I should.
But now, for this summer, I would rather you were like
yourself alone, and exactly as you are.
Hilde. Do you like me best as I am?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I like you immensely as you are.
Hilde. Hm. Tell me, you who are an artist, do you think
I’m right always to wear bright-coloured summer dresses?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I think you’re quite right!
Hilde. You think bright colours suit me, then?
Lyngstrand. They suit you charmingly—to my taste.
Hilde. But tell me, as an artist, how do you think I should
look in black?
Lyngstrand. In black, Miss Hilde?
Hilde. Yes, all in black. Do you think I should look well?
Lyngstrand. Black’s hardly suitable for the summer. However,
you’d probably look remarkably well in black, especially
with your appearance.
Hilde (looking straight in front of her). All in black, up to
the throat; black frilling round that, black gloves, and a
long black veil hanging down behind.
Lyngstrand. If you were dressed so, Miss Hilde, I should
wish I were a painter, and I’d paint you as a young, beautiful,
sorrowing widow!
Hilde. Or as a young, sorrowing, betrothed girl!
Lyngstrand. Yes, that would be better still. But you can’t
wish to be dressed like that?
Hilde. I hardly know; but I think it’s fascinating.
Lyngstrand. Fascinating?
Hilde. Fascinating to think of, yes. (Suddenly pointing to
the left.) Oh, just look there!
Lyngstrand (looking). The great English steamer; and right
by the pier!
(WANGEL and ELLIDA come in past the pond.)
Wangel. No; I assure you, dear Ellida, you are mistaken.
(Seeing the others.) What, are you two here? It’s not in
sight yet; is it, Mr. Lyngstrand?
Lyngstrand. The great English ship?
Wangel. Yes.
Lyngstrand (pointing). There she is already, doctor.
Ellida. I knew it.
Wangel. Come!
Lyngstrand. Come like a thief in the night, as one might
say, so quietly and noiselessly.
Wangel. You must go to the pier with Hilde. Be quick!
I’m sure she wants to hear the music.
Lyngstrand. Yes; we were just going there, doctor.
Wangel. Perhaps we’ll follow you. We’ll come directly.
Hilde (whispering to LYNGSTRAND). They’re hunting in
couples, too!
(HILDE and LYNGSTRAND go out through the garden.
Music is heard in the distance out at the fiord during the
Ellida. Come! He is here! Yes, yes—I feel it.
Wangel. You’d better go in, Ellida. Let me talk with him
Ellida. Oh! that’s impossible—impossible, I say. (With a
cry.) Ah! do you see him, Wangel?
(The STRANGER enters from the left, and remains on the
pathway outside the fence.)
The Stranger (bowing). Good-evening. You see I am here
again, Ellida.
Ellida. Yes, yes. The time has come now.
The Stranger. And are you ready to start, or not?
Wangel. You can see for yourself that she is not.
The Stranger. I’m not asking about a travelling dress, or
anything of that kind, nor about packed trunks. All that
is needed for a journey I have with me on board. I’ve also
secured a cabin for her. (To ELLIDA.) So I ask you if you
are ready to go with me, to go with me—freely?
Ellida. Oh! do not ask me! Do not tempt me!
(A ship’s bell is heard in the distance.)
The Stranger. That is the first bell for going on board.
Now you must say “Yes” or “No.”
Ellida (wringing her hands). To decide—decide for one’s
whole life! Never to be able to undo it again!
The Stranger. Never. In half an hour it will be too late.
Ellida (looking shyly and searchingly at him). Why is it
you hold to me so resolutely?
The Stranger. Don’t you feel, as I do, that we two belong
Ellida. Do you mean because of the vow?
The Stranger. Vows bind no one, neither man nor woman.
If I hold so steadfastly to you, it is because I cannot do
Ellida (in a low, trembling voice). Why didn’t you come
Wangel. Ellida!
Ellida (bursting out). Ah! All that attracts, and tempts,
and lures into the unknown! All the strength of the sea
concentrated in this one thing!
(The STRANGER climbs over the fence.)
Ellida (stepping back to WANGEL). What is it? What do
you want?
The Stranger. I see it and I hear it in you, Ellida. After
all, you will choose me in the end.
Wangel (going towards him). My wife has no choice here,
I am here both to choose for her and to defend her. Yes,
defend! If you do not go away from here—away from this
land—and never come back again—Do you know to what
you are exposing yourself?
Ellida. No, no, Wangel, not that!
The Stranger. What will you do to me?
Wangel. I will have you arrested as a criminal, at once,
before you go on board; for I know all about the murder
at Skjoldviken.
Ellida. Ah! Wangel, how can you?
The Stranger. I was prepared for that, and so—(takes a
revolver from his breast pocket)—I provided myself with
Ellida (throwing herself in front of him). No, no; do not
kill him! Better kill me!
The Stranger. Neither you nor him, don’t fear that. This
is for myself, for I will live and die a free man.
Ellida (with growing excitement). Wangel, let me tell you
this—tell it you so that he may hear it. You can indeed
keep me here! You have the means and the power to do it.
And you intend to do it. But my mind—all my thoughts,
all the longings and desires of my soul—these you cannot
bind! These will rush and press out into the unknown that
I was created for, and that you have kept from me!
Wangel (in quiet sorrow). I see it, Ellida. Step by step
you are slipping from me. The craving for the boundless,
the infinite, the unattainable will drive your soul into the
darkness of night at last.
Ellida. Yes! I feel it hovering over me like black noiseless
Wangel. It shall not come to that. No other deliverance
is possible for you. I at least can see no other. And so—
so I cry off our bargain at once. Now you can choose your
own path in perfect—perfect freedom.
Ellida (stares at him a while as if stricken dumb). Is it
true—true what you say? Do you mean that—mean it
with all your heart?
Wangel. Yes—with all my sorrowing heart—I mean it.
Ellida. And can you do it? Can you let it be so?
Wangel. Yes, I can. Because I love you so dearly.
Ellida (in a low, trembling voice). And have I come so
near—so close to you?
Wangel. The years and the living together have done that.
Ellida (clasping her hands together). And I—who so little
understood this!
Wangel. Your thoughts went elsewhere. And now—now
you are completely free of me and mine—and—and mine.
Now your own true life may resume its real bent again, for
now you can choose in freedom, and on your own responsibility,
Ellida (clasps her head with her hands, and stares at
WANGEL). In freedom, and on my own responsibility! Responsibility,
too? That changes everything.
(The ship bell rings again.)
The Stranger. Do you hear, Ellida? It has rung now for
the last time. Come.
Ellida (turns towards him, looks firmly at him, and speaks
in a resolute voice). I shall never go with you after this!
The Stranger. You will not!
Ellida (clinging to WANGEL). I shall never go away from
you after this.
The Stranger. So it is over?
Ellida. Yes. Over for all time.
The Stranger. I see. There is something here stronger
than my will.
Ellida. Your will has not a shadow of power over me any
longer. To me you are as one dead—who has come home
from the sea, and who returns to it again. I no longer
dread you. And I am no longer drawn to you.
The Stranger. Goodbye, Mrs. Wangel! (He swings himself
over the fence.) Henceforth, you are nothing but a shipwreck
in my life that I have tided over. (He goes out.)
Wangel (looks at her for a while). Ellida, your mind is like
the sea— it has ebb and flow. Whence came the change?
Ellida. Ah! don’t you understand that the change came—
was bound to come when I could choose in freedom?
Wangel. And the unknown?—It no longer lures you?
Ellida. Neither lures nor frightens me. I could have seen
it—gone out into it, if only I myself had willed it. I could
have chosen it. And that is why I could also renounce it.
Wangel. I begin to understand little by little. You think
and conceive in pictures—in visible figures. Your longing
and aching for the sea, your attraction towards this strange
man, these were the expression of an awakening and growing
desire for freedom; nothing else.
Ellida. I don’t know about that. But you have been a
good physician for me. You found, and you dared to use
the right remedy—the only one that could help me.
Wangel. Yes, in utmost need and danger we doctors dare
much. And now you are coming back to me again, Ellida?
Ellida. Yes, dear, faithful Wangel—now I am coming back
to you again. Now I can. For now I come to you freely,
and on my own responsibility.
Wangel (looks lovingly at her). Ellida! Ellida! To think
that now we can live wholly for one another—
Ellida. And with common memories. Yours, as well as
Wangel. Yes, indeed, dear.
Ellida. And for our children, Wangel?
Wangel. You call them ours!
Ellida. They who are not mine yet, but whom I shall win.
Wangel. Ours! (Gladly and quickly kisses her hands.) I
cannot speak my thanks for those words!
come into the garden. At the same time a number of young
townspeople and visitors pass along the footpath.)
Hilde (aside to LYNGSTRAND). See! Why, she and father
look exactly as if they were a betrothed couple!
Ballested (who has overheard). It is summertime, little
Arnholm (looking at WANGEL and ELLIDA). The English
steamer is putting off.
Bolette (going to the fence). You can see her best from
Lyngstrand. The last voyage this year.
Ballested. Soon all the sea-highways will be closed, as
the poet says. It is sad, Mrs. Wangel. And now we’re to
lose you also for a time. Tomorrow you’re off to Skjoldviken,
I hear.
Wangel. No; nothing will come of that. We two have
changed our mind—tonight.
Arnholm (looking from one to the other). Oh!—really!
Bolette (coming forward). Father, is that true?
Hilde (going towards ELLIDA). Are you going to stay
with us after all?
Ellida. Yes, dear Hilde, if you’ll have me.
Hilde (struggling between tears and laughter). Fancy! Have
Arnholm (to ELLIDA). But this is quite a surprise—!
Ellida (smiling earnestly). Well, you see, Mr. Arnholm—
Do you remember we talked about it yesterday? When you
have once become a land-creature you can no longer find
your way back again to the sea, nor to the sea-life either.
Ballested. Why, that’s exactly the case with my mermaid.
Ellida. Something like—yes.
Ballested. Only with this difference—that the mermaid
dies of it, it, while human beings can acclam—acclimatise
themselves. Yes yes. I assure you, Mrs. Wangel, they can
ac-climatise themselves.
Ellida. In freedom they can, Mr. Ballested.
Wangel. And when they act on their own responsibility,
dear Ellida.
Ellida (quickly holding out her hand to him). Exactly.
(The great steamer glides noiselessly out beyond the fjord.
The music is heard nearer land.)
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