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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
LICA:
Advokat Helmer
Nora, njegova supruga
Doktor Rank
Gospođa Linde
Pravnik Krogstad
Troje male dece Helmerove
Ane-Marie, dadilja kod Helmerovih
Nosač
(Radnja se odvija u Helmerovom stanu.)

PRVI ČIN
Prijatna i s ukusom, ali ne luksuzno, nameštena dnevna soba. Desno u pozadini vrata koja vode u predsoblje; druga vrata u pozadini s leve strane vode u Helmerovu radnu sobu. Između tih vrata jedan pijanoforte. Na sredini zida sa leve strane jedna vrata i nešto bliže napred jedan prozor. Blizu prozora jedan okrugao sto sa naslonjačama i jednom malom sofom. Na bočnom zidu s desne strane, nešto udaljenije, jedna vrata, a na istom zidu, bliže prednjem planu, jedna zidana peć ispred koje stoji par naslonjača i jedna stolica za ljuljanje. Između peći i bočnih vrata jedan stočić. Na zidovima bakropisi. Jedna polica sa predmetima od porculana i drugim sitnim umetničkim predmetima; jedan mali orman s knjigama u raskošnom povezu. Na podu tepih; u peći gori vatra. Zimski dan.
Iz predsoblja se čuje zvono; nešto kasnije se čuje kako se otvaraju vrata. Nora ulazi zadovoljno i pevušeći u dnevnu sobu; obučena je u odeću za izlazak i nosi gomilu paketa koje spušta na sto s desne strane. Za sobom ostavlja otvorena vrata predsoblja i u njemu se vidi jedan nosač koji nosi božićnu jelku i jednu korpu; on ih daje sobarici koja im je otvorila vrata.
NORA: Sakrij negde jelku, Helena. Deca ne bi nikako smela da je vide pre večeri kad bude okićena. (Nosaču, vadi novčanik.) Koliko?
NOSAČ: Pedeset era.
NORA: Evo jedne krune. Ne, zadržite ostatak.
(Nosač zahvali i ode. Nora zatvori vrata. Nastavlja da se tiho smeje od zadovoljstva dok skida odeću za izlazak.)
NORA (vadi kesicu slatkiša iz džepa i pojede par komada; zatim oprezno priđe vratima svoga muža i oslušne)a, on je kod kuće. (Opet pevucka dok odlazi prema stolu s desne strane.)
HELMER (iz svoje sobe): Je li to moja ptičica što cvrkuće tamo napolju?
NORA (otvarajući neke od paketa): Da, jeste.
HELMER: Je li to moja veverica pravi džumbus po kući?
NORA: Da.
HELMER: A kad se veverica vratila kući?
NORA: Ovog trena. (Stavi kesicu sa slatkišima u džep i obriše se oko usta.) Dođi, Torvalde, da vidiš šta sam kupila.
HELMER: Ne uznemiravaj me! (Nešto kasnije otvori vrata i gleda u dnevnu sobu držeći pero u ruci.) Kupila, kažeš? Sve to? Je li to moja mala raspikuća opet spiskala pare?
NORA: Ali, Torvalde, ove godine moramo zaista da budemo malo šire ruke. Pa ovo je prvi Božić kad ne moramo da štedimo.
HELMER: Znaš šta, ne možemo da rasipamo.
NORA: Ipak, Torvalde, sad malkice možemo i da rasipamo. Zar ne? Samo onako malkice. Sad imaš veliku platu i zarađivaćeš mnogo, mnogo novca.
HELMER: Da, od nove godine; ali proći će čitav kvartal pre nego što stigne plata.
NORA: Ne mari, dotle možemo da pozajmimo.
HELMER: Nora! (Priđe joj i šaleći se uhvati je za uvo.) Je li se to opet javila lakomislenost? Zamisli da sad pozajmim hiljadu kruna i da ih ti proćerdaš za Božić i da meni za Novu godinu padne neki crep na glavu i ostanem mrtav.
NORA: Fuj, ne govori tako ružno.
HELMER: Da, a kad bi se tako nešto dogodilo — šta onda?
NORA: Kad bi se dogodilo tako nešto užasno, onda bi bilo prilično svejedno imam li dugova ili nemam.
HELMER: Da, ali šta s ljudima od kojih bih pozajmio?
NORA: Oni? Koga je još briga za njih! Pa to su tuđi ljudi.
HELMER: Nora, Nora, ti ostaješ žena! Ali da govorimo ozbiljno, Nora, ti znaš šta ja mislim o tome. Nikakvi dugovi! Nikada ne zajmiti! Uvek se nadvije nešto ružno i nešto što sputava nad domom koji je zasnovan na pozajmici i dugu. Nas dvoje smo hrabro izdržali sve do današnjeg dana; a to ćemo učiniti i u kratkome periodu u kome je to još uvek potrebno.
NORA (odlazi ka peći): Da, da, kako ti želiš, Torvalde.
HELMER (ide za njom): No, no; ali moja mala ptica pevačica ne bi trebalo zato da obesi krila. Šta? Zar se veverica duri. (Vadi novčanik.) Nora, šta misliš, šta imam ovde?
NORA (brzo se okrene): Novac!
HELMER: Evo, vidi. (Pruža joj nekoliko novčanica.) Dragi bože, pa ja ipak znam da se u vreme Božića mnogo troši u jednoj kući.
NORA (broji): Deset, dvadeset, trideset, četrdeset. O, hvala, hvala, Torvalde; ovo će mi duže trajati.
HELMER: Da, tako će zaista i morati biti.
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Poruke Odustao od brojanja
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mob
Apple iPhone 6s
NORA: Da, da, biće tako. Ali dođi da ti pokažem šta sam sve kupila. I to tako jeftino! Gledaj, nova odeća za Ivara — i jedna sablja. Evo i jednog konja i jedne trube za Boba. A ovo su lutka i krevet za lutku za Emi; sve je veoma jednostavno, ali ona će to ionako brzo pokidati i polomiti. A evo ovde imam materijal za haljine i marame za devojke; staroj Ane-Mariji bi trebalo dati i više.
HELMER: A šta je u onom paketu?
NORA (vikne): Ne, Torvalde, ne smeš ga otvoriti do večeras!
HELMER: No, dobro. Ali reci mi, ti mala rasipnice, jesi li razmišljala o nečemu za sebe?
NORA: Pih, za mene? Tako nešto mi uopšte nije važno.
HELMER: O, i te kako jeste. Reci mi sad nešto što nije preskupo a što bi ti najviše volela.
NORA: Ne, zaista ne znam. Ipak, čuj. Torvalde.
HELMER: No?
NORA (igra se njegovim dugmetom ne gledajući ga): Ako želiš da mi pokloniš nešto, onda bi mogao — mogao...
HELMER: No, dakle; reci.
NORA (brzo): Mogao bi da mi daš novac, Torvalde. Samo onoliko koliko smatraš da možeš da odvojiš; a ja ću onda jednog od sledećih dana kupiti nešto za taj novac.
HELMER: Ali, Nora...
NORA: O, da, učini to, dragi Torvalde; tako te molim. Pa ću onda da okačim novac na jelku umotan u lep, zlatan papir. Zar to ne bi bilo lepo?
HELMER: Kako se ono beše zovu ptičice što uvek proćerdaju svoj novac?
NORA: Da, da, rasipnice, znam to. Ali da učinimo kao što ja kažem, Torvalde; imaću onda više vremena da razmislim šta mi najviše treba. Zar to nije vrlo razumno ? Šta kažeš?
HELMER (smešeći se): Da, zaista je tako; hoću reći, kad bi ti zaista umela da sačuvaš novac koji ti dam i za njega stvarno kupiš nešto sebi. Ali ti ih potrošiš na kuću i kojekakve nekorisne stvari i onda opet moram ja da vadim pare iz džepa.
NORA: Ali, Torvalde...
HELMER: Ne možeš to poricati, moja draga, mala Nora. (Zagrli je oko pasa.) Moja ptičica-rasipnica je slatka, ali troši mnogo para. Prosto je neverovatno koliko jednog muškarca košta da izdržava ptičicu-rasipnicu.
NORA: Fuj, kako samo možeš to da kažeš? Pa ja ipak štedim koliko god umem.
HELMER (smeje se): Da, to je istina. Koliko god umeš. Ali ti to uopšte ne umeš.
NORA (pevucka i tiho se smeši od zadovoljstva): Hm, kad bi ti samo znao kolike izdatke imamo mi ptičice i veverice, Torvalde.
HELMER: Baš si ti čudno malo stvorenje. Sasvim kao što ti je i otac bio. Ti činiš sve što možeš da nađeš novac, ali čim ga dobiješ kao da ti isklizne iz ruku; nikad ne znaš šta si uradila s njim. No, tebe treba prihvatiti takvu kakva si. To je nešto u krvi. Da, da, da, takve stvari su nasledne, Nora.
NORA: Eh, želela bih da sam nasledila mnoge od očevih osobina.
HELMER: A ja ne bih ni želeo da budeš drugačija nego što jesi, moja slatka, mala, raspevana ptičice. No, slušaj, — sad mi je nešto palo na pamet. Ti danas izgledaš tako — tako — kako da to nazovem ?... Tako tajanstveno...
NORA: Ja?
HELMER: Da, izgledaš. Pogledaj me pravo u oči.
NORA (gleda ga): No?
HELMER (preti joj prstom): Je li ljubitelj slatkiša sigurno nije prohujao gradom kao vihor?
NORA: Ne, kako si samo mogao to da pomisliš.
HELMER: Zar ljubitelj slatkiša zaista nije svratio do poslastičarnice?
NORA: Ne, uveravam te, Torvalde...
HELMER: Ni liznula malo slatka?
NORA: Ne, ni najmanje.
HELMER: Čak nije gricnula ni kakav slatkiš?
NORA: Ne, Torvalde, stvarno te uveravam...
HELMER: No, no, no; ja se, prirodno, samo šalim...
NORA (odlazi do stola sa desne strane): Ne bi mi nikada palo na um da ti se usprotivim.
HELMER: Da, ja to dobro znam; a ti si dala i reč. (Prilazi joj). No, samo ti zadrži za sebe svoje male božićne tajne, moja blagoslovena Noro. Mogu misliti da će se one ionako pojaviti na svetlu kad upalimo svećice na jelki.
NORA: Jesi li se setio da pozoveš doktora Ranka?
HELMER: Ne. Ali to i nije potrebno; podrazumeva se da će on večerati s nama. Uostalom, pozvaću ga kada bude danas pre podne došao ovamo. Naručio sam i dobro vino. Nora, ti ne možeš ni da zamisliš koliko se radujem današnjoj večeri.
NORA: I ja. A kako će se tek deca radovati, Torvalde!
HELMER: Sećaš li se prošlog Božića? Čitave si se tri nedelje unapred zatvarala u sobu do iza ponoći da bi pravila cveće za jelku i sve one druge divote kojima smo hteli da napravimo iznenađenje. Uh, to je bilo najdosadnije vreme u mom životu.
NORA: A meni tada uopšte nije bilo dosadno.
HELMER (smešeći se): Ali je sve to na kraju ipak ispalo jadno, Nora.
NORA: O, zar ćeš sad opet da me zadirkuješ. Šta sam ja mogla da učinim kad se mačka uvukla unutra i sve pokidala?
HELMER: Ne, zaista nisi mogla ništa, jadna moja mala Nora. Ti si imala najbolju volju da nas sve obraduješ, a to je najvažnije. Ali ipak, dobro je da su vremena oskudice prošla.
NORA: Da, to je zaista divno.
HELMER: Sad ne moram da sedim ovde sam i dosađujem se; a ti ne moraš da mučiš svoje blagoslovene oči i svoje male, nežne, fine ruke...
NORA (tapše rukama): Da, zar ne, Torvalde, to više nije potrebno? O, kako je to čudesno divno čuti! (Uhvati ga ispod ruke.) Sada ću da ti ispričam kako sam zamislila da ovde sredimo, Torvalde. Čim prođe Božić... (Čuje se zvono iz predsoblja.) O, zvono. (Posprema sobu.) Izgleda da neko dolazi. Baš glupo.
HELMER: Zapamti, za posete nisam kod kuće.
SOBARICA (na vratima predsoblja): Gospođo, stigla je neka nepoznata gospođa...
NORA: Da, pustite je da uđe.
SOBARICA (Helmeru): A istog trena je stigao i gospodin doktor.
HELMER: Je li ušao pravo kod mene?
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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
SOBARICA: Da, ušao je.
(Helmer odlazi u svoju sobu. Sobarica propusti u sobu gospođu Linde, koja je obučena u odeću za put, i zatvori vrata za njom.)
GOSPOĐA LINDE (bojažljivo i pomalo oklevajući): Dobar dan, Nora.
NORA (nesigurno): Dobar dan...
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Ti me, izgleda, ne prepoznaješ.
NORA: Ne; ne znam; da, stvarno, izgleda mi... (Uzvikne.) Šta! Kristine! Jesi li to stvarno ti?
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Da, ja sam.
NORA: Kristine! A ja te nisam prepoznala! Ali kako sam i mogla... .(Tiše.) Kako si se samo promenila, Kristine!
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Da, i jesam. Devet — deset dugih godina...
NORA: Zar ima toliko godina otkako se nismo videle? Pa da, i ima toliko. O, poslednjih osam godina su bili srećno doba, možeš mi verovati. A sad si, dakle, došla u grad? Krenula na tako dalek put usred zime. To je hrabro.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Upravo sam jutros stigla parabrodom.
NORA: Da se zabaviš za Božić, naravno. O, kako je to divno! Da, zaista ćemo se zabavljati. Ali skini kaput. Ta nije ti valjda hladno? (Pomaže joj.) Hajde da sad lepo sednemo ovde kraj peći. Ne, tamo u naslonjače! (Hvata je za ruke.) Da, sad se vratilo tvoje staro lice; samo je u prvom trenutku... Ali ipak, postala si nešto bleđa, Kristine, — i možda nešto mršavija.
GOSPODA LINDE : I mnogo, mnogo starija, Nora.
NORA: Da, možda malo starija, sasvim malkice, uopšte ne mnogo. (Iznenada prekine, ozbiljno.) O, kako ja ne mislim, već samo govorim! Draga, blagoslovena Kristine, možeš li mi oprostiti!
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Na šta to misliš, Nora?
NORA (tiho): Jadna Kristine, ta ti si ostala udovica.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Da, pre tri godine.
NORA: O, ja sam to znala; pročitala sam u novinama. Oh, Kristine, moraš mi verovati da sam tada često mislila da ti pišem, ali uvek sam to odlagala i uvek bi se nešto isprečilo.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Draga Nora, ja te tako dobro razumem.
NORA: Ne, to je bilo ružno s moje strane, Kristine. Oh, jadnice, koliko li si ti samo propatila. — A on ti nije ništa ostavio za život.
GOSPOĐA LINDE: Ne.
NORA: Ni decu?
GOSPOĐA LINDE: Ne.
NORA: Dakle, baš ništa?
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Čak ni bol ili gubitak da iz njih crpem nešto.
NORA (gleda je ne verujući): Ali, Kristine, kako je to moguće?
GOSPOĐA LINDE (turobno se smeši i gladi je po kosi): O, to se ponekad dešava, Nora.
NORA: Tako sasvim sama. Kako li ti samo mora biti teško. Ja imam troje divne dece. Ne možeš da ih vidiš odmah jer su napolju sa dadiljom. Ali sad mi moraš sve ispričati...
GOSPOĐA LINDE: Ne, ne, ne, bolje ti pričaj.
NORA: Ne, ti počni. Danas neću biti samoživa. Danas ću misliti samo na tvoje stvari. Ali jednu stvar moram da ti ispričam. Znaš li kakva nam se velika sreća dogodila ovih dana?
GOSPOĐA LINDE: Ne. Šta to?
NORA: Zamisli, moj muž je postao direktor Deoničarske banke.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Tvoj muž? O, kakva srećna okolnost!...
NORA: Da, ogromna sreća! Advokatski hleb je tako nesiguran, posebno kada čovek ne želi da se bavi drugim poslovima sem onih finih i lepih. A Torvald to, prirodno, nije nikada želeo; i ja ga u tome podosta podržavam. O, možeš mi verovati da se radujemo! On će stupiti na posao u banci odmah po Novoj godini, a onda će dobiti veliku platu i mnogo procenata. Odsad ćemo moći da živimo sasvim drugačije nego ranije — sasvim kao što želimo. O, Kristine, kako se osećam bezbrižno i srećno! Da, jer ipak je divno imati puno, puno novca i nemati nikakvih briga. Zar ne?
GOSPOĐA LINDE: Da, u svakom slučaju mora da je divno imati koliko je čoveku neophodno.
NORA: Ne, ne samo koliko je neophodno, već mnogo, mnogo, mnogo novca!
GOSPOĐA LINDE (smeši se): Nora, Nora, zar se još nisi urazumila? U školi si bila prava rasipnica.
NORA (tiho se smeje): Da, to mi još uvek i Torvald govori. (Preti prstom.) Ali »Nora, Nora« nije tako luda kao što vi mislite. — O, mi nismo imali tako mnogo da sam mogla da rasipam. Morali smo oboje da radimo.
GOSPOĐA LINDE: I ti?
NORA: Da, sitnice; šivenje, kukičanje, vez i tako. (Olako.) A i druge stvari. Ti verovatno znaš da je Torvald prestao da radi u ministarstvu kada smo se uzeli? Nije bilo nikakvih izgleda za napredovanje u njegovom odeljenju, a on je morao da zarađuje više nego pre. Ali prve godine se užasno prenapregnuo. Morao je da traži raznorazne uzgredne zarade, možeš i sama da zamisliš, i da radi i danju i noću. Ali nije to izdržao i nasmrt se razboleo. Onda su lekari rekli da mora na jug.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Da, vi ste boravili čitavu jednu godinu u Italiji?
NORA: Da. Možeš mi verovati da nam nije bilo lako da krenemo. Ivar se tada upravo bio rodio. Ali, naravno, morali smo da krenemo. O, to je bilo predivno putovanje. I ono je spaslo Torvaldu život. Ali je koštalo jako mnogo, Kristine.
GOSPOĐA LINDE: Mogu misliti.
NORA: Hiljadu i dvesta talira je koštalo. Četiri hiljade i osam stotina kruna. Znaš, to je mnogo novca.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : Da, ali u takvim je slučajevima ipak velika sreća kad ih čovek ima.
NORA: Pa, da ti kažem, dobili smo ih od tate.
GOSPOĐA LINDE : A tako. Mislim da je to bilo upravo u ono vreme kada je tvoj otac umro.
NORA: Da, Kristine, bilo je to baš tada. I zamisli, ja nisam mogla da otputujem da ga negujem. Vrtela sam se ovuda i svaki dan očekivala da mali Ivar dođe na svet. A imala sam i moga jadnoga, nasmrt bolesnoga Torvalda, da pazim na njega. Moj dragi, dobri tata! Nikad ga više nisam videla, Kristine. O, to mi je bilo najteže što sam doživela otkako sam se udala.
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Veteran foruma
Svedok stvaranja istorije


Variety is the spice of life

Zodijak Aquarius
Pol Muškarac
Poruke 17382
Zastava Srbija
OS
Windows XP
Browser
Opera 9.01
mob
SonyEricsson W610
A Doll’s House



Dramatis Personae

Torvald Helmer.
Nora, his wife.
Doctor Rank.
Mrs. Linde.
Nils Krogstad.
Helmer’s three young children.
Anne, their nurse.
A Housemaid.
A Porter.
The action takes place in Helmer’s house.



Act I


(SCENE.—A room furnished comfortably and tastefully,
but not extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right
leads to the entrance-hall, another to the left leads to
Helmer’s study. Between the doors stands a piano. In the
middle of the left-hand wall is a door, and beyond it a
window. Near the window are a round table, arm-chairs
and a small sofa. In the right-hand wall, at the farther
end, another door; and on the same side, nearer the footlights,
a stove, two easy chairs and a rocking-chair; between
the stove and the door, a small table. Engravings
on the walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects;
a small book-case with well-bound books. The floors
are carpeted, and a fire burns in the stove. It is winter.
A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is
heard to open. Enter NORA, humming a tune and in high
spirits. She is in outdoor dress and carries a number of
parcels; these she lays on the table to the right. She leaves
the outer door open after her, and through it is seen a
PORTER who is carrying a Christmas Tree and a basket,
which he gives to the MAID who has opened the door.)
Nora. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure
the children do not see it until this evening, when it is
dressed. (To the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?
Porter. Sixpence.
Nora. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER
thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She
is laughing to herself, as she takes off her hat and coat.
She takes a packet of macaroons from her pocket and eats
one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband’s door
and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the
table on the right.)
Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark
twittering out there?
Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!
Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?
Nora. Yes!
Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?
Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her
pocket and wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and
see what I have bought.
Helmer. Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the
door and looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did
you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been
wasting money again?
Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves
go a little. This is the first Christmas that we have
not needed to economise.
Helmer. Still, you know, we can’t spend money recklessly.
Nora. Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless
now, mayn’t we? Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to
have a big salary and earn lots and lots of money.
Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a
whole quarter before the salary is due.
Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.
Helmer. Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by
the ear.) The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that
I borrowed fifty pounds today, and you spent it all in the
Christmas week, and then on New Year’s Eve a slate fell on
my head and killed me, and—Nora (putting her hands
over his mouth). Oh! don’t say such horrid things.
Helmer. Still, suppose that happened,—what then?
Nora. If that were to happen, I don’t suppose I should
care whether I owed money or not.
Helmer. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?
Nora. They? Who would bother about them? I should not
know who they were.
Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you
know what I think about that. No debt, no borrowing.
There can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that
depends on borrowing and debt. We two have kept bravely
on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same
way for the short time longer that there need be any
struggle.
Nora (moving towards the stove). As you please, Torvald.
Helmer (following her). Come, come, my little skylark must
not droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out
of temper? (Taking out his purse.) Nora, what do you
think I have got here?
Nora (turning round quickly). Money!
Helmer. There you are. (Gives her some money.) Do you
think I don’t know what a lot is wanted for housekeeping
at Christmas-time?
Nora (counting). Ten shillings—a pound—two pounds!
Thank you, thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going
for a long time.
Helmer. Indeed it must.
Nora. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you
what I have bought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new
suit for Ivar, and a sword; and a horse and a trumpet for
Bob; and a doll and dolly’s bedstead for Emmy,—they are
very plain, but anyway she will soon break them in pieces.
And here are dress-lengths and handkerchiefs for the maids;
old Anne ought really to have something better.
Helmer. And what is in this parcel?
Nora (crying out). No, no! you mustn’t see that until this
evening.
Helmer. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little
person, what would you like for yourself?
Nora. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don’t want anything.
Helmer. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable
that you would particularly like to have.
Nora. No, I really can’t think of anything—unless,
Torvald—
Helmer. Well?
Nora (playing with his coat buttons, and without raising
her eyes to his). If you really want to give me something,
you might—you might—
Helmer. Well, out with it!
Nora (speaking quickly). You might give me money,
Torvald. Only just as much as you can afford; and then
one of these days I will buy something with it.
Helmer. But, Nora—Nora. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please,
please do! Then I will wrap it up in beautiful gilt paper
and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Helmer. What are little people called that are always wasting
money?
Nora. Spendthrifts—I know. Let us do as you suggest,
Torvald, and then I shall have time to think what I am
most in want of. That is a very sensible plan, isn’t it?
Helmer (smiling). Indeed it is—that is to say, if you
were really to save out of the money I give you, and then
really buy something for yourself. But if you spend it all
on the housekeeping and any number of unnecessary things,
then I merely have to pay up again.
Nora. Oh but, Torvald—
Helmer. You can’t deny it, my dear little Nora. (Puts his
arm round her waist.) It’s a sweet little spendthrift, but
she uses up a deal of money. One would hardly believe
how expensive such little persons are!
Nora. It’s a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.
Helmer (laughing). That’s very true,—all you can. But
you can’t save anything!
Nora (smiling quietly and happily). You haven’t any idea
how many expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.
Helmer. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father.
You always find some new way of wheedling money out of
me, and, as soon as you have got it, it seems to melt in
your hands. You never know where it has gone. Still, one
must take you as you are. It is in the blood; for indeed it
is true that you can inherit these things, Nora.
Nora. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa’s qualities.
Helmer. And I would not wish you to be anything but
just what you are, my sweet little skylark. But, do you
know, it strikes me that you are looking rather—what
shall I say—rather uneasy today?
Nora. Do I?
Helmer. You do, really. Look straight at me.
Nora (looks at him). Well?
Helmer (wagging his finger at her). Hasn’t Miss Sweet
Tooth been breaking rules in town today?
Nora. No; what makes you think that?
Helmer. Hasn’t she paid a visit to the confectioner’s?
Nora. No, I assure you, Torvald—
Helmer. Not been nibbling sweets?
Nora. No, certainly not.
Helmer. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?
Nora. No, Torvald, I assure you really—
Helmer. There, there, of course I was only joking.
Nora (going to the table on the right). I should not think
of going against your wishes.
Helmer. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your
word—(Going up to her.) Keep your little Christmas secrets
to yourself, my darling. They will all be revealed
tonight when the Christmas Tree is lit, no doubt.
Nora. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?
Helmer. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course
he will come to dinner with us. However, I will ask him
when he comes in this morning. I have ordered some good
wine. Nora, you can’t think how I am looking forward to
this evening.
Nora. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves,
Torvald!
Helmer. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It’s delightful to
think of, isn’t it?
Nora. It’s wonderful!
Helmer. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three
weeks beforehand you shut yourself up every evening until
long after midnight, making ornaments for the Christmas
Tree, and all the other fine things that were to be a
surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I ever spent!
Nora. I didn’t find it dull.
Helmer (smiling). But there was precious little result,
Nora.
Nora. Oh, you shouldn’t tease me about that again. How
could I help the cat’s going in and tearing everything to
pieces?
Helmer. Of course you couldn’t, poor little girl. You had
the best of intentions to please us all, and that’s the main
thing. But it is a good thing that our hard times are over.
Nora. Yes, it is really wonderful.
Helmer. This time I needn’t sit here and be dull all alone,
and you needn’t ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little
hands—
Nora (clapping her hands). No, Torvald, I needn’t any
longer, need I! It’s wonderfully lovely to hear you say so!
(Taking his arm.) Now I will tell you how I have been
thinking we ought to arrange things, Torvald. As soon as
Christmas is over—(A bell rings in the hall.) There’s the
bell. (She tidies the room a little.) There’s some one at
the door. What a nuisance!
Helmer. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.
Maid (in the doorway). A lady to see you, ma’am,—a
stranger.
Nora. Ask her to come in.
Maid (to HELMER). The doctor came at the same time,
sir.
Helmer. Did he go straight into my room?
Maid. Yes, sir.
(HELMER goes into his room. The MAID ushers in Mrs.
LINDE, who is in travelling dress, and shuts the door.)
Mrs. Linde (in a dejected and timid voice). How do you
do, Nora?
Nora (doubtfully). How do you do—Mrs. Linde. You don’t
recognise me, I suppose.
Nora. No, I don’t know—yes, to be sure, I seem to—
(Suddenly.) Yes! Christine! Is it really you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, it is I.
Nora. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And
yet how could I—(In a gentle voice.) How you have altered,
Christine!
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years—
Nora. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last
eight years have been a happy time for me, I can tell you.
And so now you have come into the town, and have taken
this long journey in winter—that was plucky of you.
Mrs. Linde. I arrived by steamer this morning.
Nora. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course.
How delightful! We will have such fun together! But take
off your things. You are not cold, I hope. (Helps her.)
Now we will sit down by the stove, and be cosy. No, take
this armchair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair. (Takes
her hands.) Now you look like your old self again; it was
only the first moment—You are a little paler, Christine,
and perhaps a little thinner.
Mrs. Linde. And much, much older, Nora.
Nora. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not
much. (Stops suddenly and speaks seriously.) What a
thoughtless creature I am, chattering away like this. My
poor, dear Christine, do forgive me.
Mrs. Linde. What do you mean, Nora?
Nora (gently). Poor Christine, you are a widow.
Mrs. Linde. Yes; it is three years ago now.
Nora. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you,
Christine, I meant ever so often to write to you at the
time, but I always put it off and something always prevented
me.
Mrs. Linde. I quite understand, dear.
Nora. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how
you must have suffered. And he left you nothing?
Mrs. Linde. No.
Nora. And no children?
Mrs. Linde. No.
Nora. Nothing at all, then.
Mrs. Linde. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.
Nora (looking incredulously at her). But, Christine, is that
possible?
Mrs. Linde (smiles sadly and strokes her hair). It sometimes
happens, Nora.
Nora. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that
must be. I have three lovely children. You can’t see them
just now, for they are out with their nurse. But now you
must tell me all about it.
Mrs. Linde. No, no; I want to hear about you.
Nora. No, you must begin. I mustn’t be selfish today;
today I must only think of your affairs. But there is one
thing I must tell you. Do you know we have just had a
great piece of good luck?
Mrs. Linde. No, what is it?
Nora. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of
the Bank!
Mrs. Linde. Your husband? What good luck!
Nora. Yes, tremendous! A barrister’s profession is such an
uncertain thing, especially if he won’t undertake unsavoury
cases; and naturally Torvald has never been willing to do
that, and I quite agree with him. You may imagine how
pleased we are! He is to take up his work in the Bank at
the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots
of commissions. For the future we can live quite differently—
we can do just as we like. I feel so relieved and so
happy, Christine! It will be splendid to have heaps of money
and not need to have any anxiety, won’t it?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to
have what one needs.
Nora. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps
of money.
Mrs. Linde (smiling). Nora, Nora, haven’t you learned sense
yet? In our schooldays you were a great spendthrift.
Nora (laughing). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (Wags
her linger at her.) But “Nora, Nora” is not so silly as you
think. We have not been in a position for me to waste
money. We have both had to work.
Mrs. Linde. You too?
Nora. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crotchet-work,
embroidery, and that kind of thing. (Dropping her voice.)
And other things as well. You know Torvald left his office
when we were married? There was no prospect of promotion
there, and he had to try and earn more than before.
But during the first year he over-worked himself dreadfully.
You see, he had to make money every way he could,
and he worked early and late; but he couldn’t stand it,
and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors said it was necessary
for him to go south.
Mrs. Linde. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn’t you?
Nora. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you.
It was just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It
was a wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald’s
life. But it cost a tremendous lot of money, Christine.
Mrs. Linde. So I should think.
Nora. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That’s
a lot, isn’t it?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to
have the money.
Nora. I ought to tell you that we had it from papa.
Mrs. Linde. Oh, I see. It was just about that time that he
died, wasn’t it?
Nora. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn’t go and nurse
him. I was expecting little Ivar’s birth every day and I had
my poor sick Torvald to look after. My dear, kind father—
I never saw him again, Christine. That was the saddest
time I have known since our marriage.
Mrs. Linde. I know how fond you were of him. And then
you went off to Italy?
Nora. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors
insisted on our going, so we started a month later.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband came back quite well?
Nora. As sound as a bell!
Mrs. Linde. But—the doctor?
Nora. What doctor?
Mrs. Linde. I thought your maid said the gentleman who
arrived here just as I did, was the doctor?
Nora. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn’t come
here professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes
in at least once everyday. No, Torvald has not had an
hour’s illness since then, and our children are strong and
healthy and so am I. (Jumps up and claps her hands.)
Christine! Christine! it’s good to be alive and happy!—But
how horrid of me; I am talking of nothing but my own
affairs. (Sits on a stool near her, and rests her arms on her
knees.) You mustn’t be angry with me. Tell me, is it really
true that you did not love your husband? Why did you
marry him?
Mrs. Linde. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden
and helpless, and I had to provide for my two younger
brothers; so I did not think I was justified in refusing his
offer.
Nora. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at
that time, then?
Mrs. Linde. I believe he was quite well off. But his business
was a precarious one; and, when he died, it all went
to pieces and there was nothing left.
Nora. And then?—
Mrs. Linde. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I
could find—first a small shop, then a small school, and
so on. The last three years have seemed like one long
working-day, with no rest. Now it is at an end, Nora. My
poor mother needs me no more, for she is gone; and the
boys do not need me either; they have got situations and
can shift for themselves.
Nora. What a relief you must feel if—
Mrs. Linde. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably
empty. No one to live for anymore. (Gets up restlessly.)
That was why I could not stand the life in my little backwater
any longer. I hope it may be easier here to find
something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts.
If only I could have the good luck to get some regular
work—office work of some kind—
Nora. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you
look tired out now. You had far better go away to some
watering-place.
Mrs. Linde (walking to the window). I have no father to
give me money for a journey, Nora.
Nora (rising). Oh, don’t be angry with me!
Mrs. Linde (going up to her). It is you that must not be
angry with me, dear. The worst of a position like mine is
that it makes one so bitter. No one to work for, and yet
obliged to be always on the lookout for chances. One
must live, and so one becomes selfish. When you told me
of the happy turn your fortunes have taken—you will hardly
believe it—I was delighted not so much on your account
as on my own.
Nora. How do you mean?—Oh, I understand. You mean
that perhaps Torvald could get you something to do.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.
Nora. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach
the subject very cleverly—I will think of something that
will please him very much. It will make me so happy to be
of some use to you.
Mrs. Linde. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to
help me! It is doubly kind in you, for you know so little of
the burdens and troubles of life.
Nora. I—? I know so little of them?
Mrs. Linde (smiling). My dear! Small household cares and
that sort of thing!—You are a child, Nora.
Nora (tosses her head and crosses the stage). You ought
not to be so superior.
Mrs. Linde. No?
Nora. You are just like the others. They all think that I am
incapable of anything really serious—
Mrs. Linde. Come, come—
Nora.—that I have gone through nothing in this world of
cares.
Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all
your troubles.
Nora. Pooh!—those were trifles. (Lowering her voice.) I
have not told you the important thing.
Mrs. Linde. The important thing? What do you mean?
Nora. You look down upon me altogether, Christine—but
you ought not to. You are proud, aren’t you, of having
worked so hard and so long for your mother?
Mrs. Linde. Indeed, I don’t look down on anyone. But it
is true that I am both proud and glad to think that I was
privileged to make the end of my mother’s life almost free
from care.
Nora. And you are proud to think of what you have done
for your brothers?
Mrs. Linde. I think I have the right to be.
Nora. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have
something to be proud and glad of.
Mrs. Linde. I have no doubt you have. But what do you
refer to?
Nora. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn’t
on any account—no one in the world must know, Christine,
except you.
Mrs. Linde. But what is it?
Nora. Come here. (Pulls her down on the sofa beside her.)
Now I will show you that I too have something to be
proud and glad of. It was I who saved Torvald’s life.
Mrs. Linde. “Saved”? How?
Nora. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would
never have recovered if he had not gone there—
Mrs. Linde. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary
funds.
Nora (smiling). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others
think, but—
Mrs. Linde. But—
Nora. Papa didn’t give us a shilling. It was I who procured
the money.
Mrs. Linde. You? All that large sum?
Nora. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think
of that?
Mrs. Linde. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did
you win a prize in the Lottery?
Nora (contemptuously). In the Lottery? There would have
been no credit in that.
Mrs. Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora
(humming and smiling with an air of mystery). Hm, hm!
Aha!
Mrs. Linde. Because you couldn’t have borrowed it.
Nora. Couldn’t I? Why not?
Mrs. Linde. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband’s
consent.
Nora (tossing her head). Oh, if it is a wife who has any
head for business—a wife who has the wit to be a little
bit clever—
Mrs. Linde. I don’t understand it at all, Nora.
Nora. There is no need you should. I never said I had
borrowed the money. I may have got it some other way.
(Lies back on the sofa.) Perhaps I got it from some other
admirer. When anyone is as attractive as I am—
Mrs. Linde. You are a mad creature.
Nora. Now, you know you’re full of curiosity, Christine.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven’t you been a
little bit imprudent?
Nora (sits up straight). Is it imprudent to save your
husband’s life?
Mrs. Linde. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge,
to—
Nora. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not
know! My goodness, can’t you understand that? It was
necessary he should have no idea what a dangerous condition
he was in. It was to me that the doctors came and
said that his life was in danger, and that the only thing to
save him was to live in the south. Do you suppose I didn’t
try, first of all, to get what I wanted as if it were for
myself? I told him how much I should love to travel abroad
like other young wives; I tried tears and entreaties with
him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition
I was in, and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to
me; I even hinted that he might raise a loan. That nearly
made him angry, Christine. He said I was thoughtless, and
that it was his duty as my husband not to indulge me in
my whims and caprices—as I believe he called them. Very
well, I thought, you must be saved—and that was how I
came to devise a way out of the difficulty—
Mrs. Linde. And did your husband never get to know
from your father that the money had not come from him?
Nora. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant
to let him into the secret and beg him never to reveal it.
But he was so ill then—alas, there never was any need to
tell him.
Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret
to your husband?
Nora. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man
who has such strong opinions about these things! And
besides, how painful and humiliating it would be for Torvald,
with his manly independence, to know that he owed me
anything! It would upset our mutual relations altogether;
our beautiful happy home would no longer be what it is
now.
Mrs. Linde. Do you mean never to tell him about it?
Nora (meditatively, and with a half smile). Yes—someday,
perhaps, after many years, when I am no longer as
nice-looking as I am now. Don’t laugh at me! I mean, of
course, when Torvald is no longer as devoted to me as he
is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting
have palled on him; then it may be a good thing to have
something in reserve—(Breaking off.) What nonsense! That
time will never come. Now, what do you think of my great
secret, Christine? Do you still think I am of no use? I can
tell you, too, that this affair has caused me a lot of worry.
It has been by no means easy for me to meet my engagements
punctually. I may tell you that there is something
that is called, in business, quarterly interest, and another
thing called payment in installments, and it is always so
dreadfully difficult to manage them. I have had to save a
little here and there, where I could, you understand. I
have not been able to put aside much from my housekeeping
money, for Torvald must have a good table. I
couldn’t let my children be shabbily dressed; I have felt
obliged to use up all he gave me for them, the sweet little
darlings!
Mrs. Linde. So it has all had to come out of your own
necessaries of life, poor Nora?
Nora. Of course. Besides, I was the one responsible for it.
Whenever Torvald has given me money for new dresses and
such things, I have never spent more than half of it; I
have always bought the simplest and cheapest things.
Thank Heaven, any clothes look well on me, and so Torvald
has never noticed it. But it was often very hard on me,
Christine—because it is delightful to be really well dressed,
isn’t it?
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Mrs. Linde. Quite so.
Nora. Well, then I have found other ways of earning money.
Last winter I was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to
do; so I locked myself up and sat writing every evening
until quite late at night. Many a time I was desperately
tired; but all the same it was a tremendous pleasure to sit
there working and earning money. It was like being a man.
Mrs. Linde. How much have you been able to pay off in
that way?
Nora. I can’t tell you exactly. You see, it is very difficult
to keep an account of a business matter of that kind. I
only know that I have paid every penny that I could scrape
together. Many a time I was at my wits’ end. (Smiles.)
Then I used to sit here and imagine that a rich old gentleman
had fallen in love with me—
Mrs. Linde. What! Who was it?
Nora. Be quiet!—that he had died; and that when his will
was opened it contained, written in big letters, the instruction:
“The lovely Mrs. Nora Helmer is to have all I
possess paid over to her at once in cash.”
Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora—who could the man be?
Nora. Good gracious, can’t you understand? There was no
old gentleman at all; it was only something that I used to
sit here and imagine, when I couldn’t think of any way of
procuring money. But it’s all the same now; the tiresome
old person can stay where he is, as far as I am concerned;
I don’t care about him or his will either, for I am free from
care now. (Jumps up.) My goodness, it’s delightful to
think of, Christine! Free from care! To be able to be free
from care, quite free from care; to be able to play and
romp with the children; to be able to keep the house
beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it!
And, think of it, soon the spring will come and the big
blue sky! Perhaps we shall be able to take a little trip—
perhaps I shall see the sea again! Oh, it’s a wonderful
thing to be alive and be happy. (A bell is heard in the
hall.)
Mrs. Linde (rising). There is the bell; perhaps I had better
go.
Nora. No, don’t go; no one will come in here; it is sure to
be for Torvald.
Servant (at the hall door). Excuse me, ma’am—there is a
gentleman to see the master, and as the doctor is with
him—Nora. Who is it?
Krogstad (at the door). It is I, Mrs. Helmer. (Mrs. LINDE
starts, trembles, and turns to the window.)
Nora (takes a step towards him, and speaks in a strained,
low voice). You? What is it? What do you want to see my
husband about?
Krogstad. Bank business—in a way. I have a small post in
the Bank, and I hear your husband is to be our chief
now—
Nora. Then it is—
Krogstad. Nothing but dry business matters, Mrs. Helmer;
absolutely nothing else.
Nora. Be so good as to go into the study, then. (She
bows indifferently to him and shuts the door into the
hall; then comes back and makes up the fire in the stove.)
Mrs. Linde. Nora—who was that man?
Nora. A lawyer, of the name of Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde. Then it really was he.
Nora. Do you know the man?
Mrs. Linde. I used to— many years ago. At one time he
was a solicitor’s clerk in our town.
Nora. Yes, he was.
Mrs. Linde. He is greatly altered.
Nora. He made a very unhappy marriage.
Mrs. Linde. He is a widower now, isn’t he?
Nora. With several children. There now, it is burning up.
Shuts the door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair
aside.)
Mrs. Linde. They say he carries on various kinds of business.
Nora. Really! Perhaps he does; I don’t know anything about
it. But don’t let us think of business; it is so tiresome.
Doctor Rank (comes out of HELMER’S study. Before he
shuts the door he calls to him). No, my dear fellow, I
won’t disturb you; I would rather go in to your wife for a
little while. (Shuts the door and sees Mrs. LINDE.) I beg
your pardon; I am afraid I am disturbing you too.
Nora. No, not at all. (Introducing him). Doctor Rank,
Mrs. Linde.
Rank. I have often heard Mrs. Linde’s name mentioned
here. I think I passed you on the stairs when I arrived,
Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I go up very slowly; I can’t manage stairs
well.
Rank. Ah! some slight internal weakness?
Mrs. Linde. No, the fact is I have been overworking myself.
Rank. Nothing more than that? Then I suppose you have
come to town to amuse yourself with our entertainments?
Mrs. Linde. I have come to look for work.
Rank. Is that a good cure for overwork?
Mrs. Linde. One must live, Doctor Rank.
Rank. Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is
necessary.
Nora. Look here, Doctor Rank—you know you want to
live.
Rank. Certainly. However wretched I may feel, I want to
prolong the agony as long as possible. All my patients are
like that. And so are those who are morally diseased; one
of them, and a bad case too, is at this very moment with
Helmer—
Mrs. Linde (sadly). Ah!
Nora. Whom do you mean?
Rank. A lawyer of the name of Krogstad, a fellow you
don’t know at all. He suffers from a diseased moral character,
Mrs. Helmer; but even he began talking of its being
highly important that he should live.
Nora. Did he? What did he want to speak to Torvald about?
Rank. I have no idea; I only heard that it was something
about the Bank.
Nora. I didn’t know this—what’s his name—Krogstad had
anything to do with the Bank.
Rank. Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (To
Mrs. LINDE.) I don’t know whether you find also in your
part of the world that there are certain people who go
zealously snuffing about to smell out moral corruption,
and, as soon as they have found some, put the person
concerned into some lucrative position where they can
keep their eye on him. Healthy natures are left out in the
cold.
Mrs. Linde. Still I think the sick are those who most need
taking care of.
Rank (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That
is the sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.
(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks
out into smothered laughter and claps her hands.)
Rank. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion
what Society really is?
Nora. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing
at something quite different, something extremely
amusing. Tell me, Doctor Rank, are all the people who are
employed in the Bank dependent on Torvald now?
Rank. Is that what you find so extremely amusing?
Nora (smiling and humming). That’s my affair! (Walking
about the room.) It’s perfectly glorious to think that we
have—that Torvald has so much power over so many
people. (Takes the packet from her pocket.) Doctor Rank,
what do you say to a macaroon?
Rank. What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden
here.
Nora. Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.
Mrs. Linde. What! I?—
Nora. Oh, well, don’t be alarmed! You couldn’t know that
Torvald had forbidden them. I must tell you that he is
afraid they will spoil my teeth. But, bah!—once in a way—
That’s so, isn’t it, Doctor Rank? By your leave! (Puts a
macaroon into his mouth.) You must have one too, Christine.
And I shall have one, just a little one-or at most
two. (Walking about.) I am tremendously happy. There is
just one thing in the world now that I should dearly love
to do.
Rank. Well, what is that?
Nora. It’s something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald
could hear me.
Rank. Well, why can’t you say it?
Nora. No, I daren’t; it’s so shocking.
Mrs. Linde. Shocking?
Rank. Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with
us you might. What is it you would so much like to say if
Torvald could hear you?
Nora. I should just love to say—Well, I’m damned!
Rank. Are you mad?
Mrs. Linde. Nora, dear—!
Rank. Say it, here he is!
Nora (hiding the packet). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER
comes out of his room, with his coat over his arm and his
hat in his hand.)
Nora. Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?
Helmer. Yes, he has just gone.
Nora. Let me introduce you—this is Christine, who has
come to town.
Helmer. Christine—? Excuse me, but I don’t know—
Nora. Mrs. Linde, dear; Christine Linde.
Helmer. Of course. A school friend of my wife’s, I presume?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, we have known each other since then.
Nora. And just think, she has taken a long journey in
order to see you.
Helmer. What do you mean? Mrs. Linde. No, really, I—
Nora. Christine is tremendously clever at book-keeping,
and she is frightfully anxious to work under some clever
man, so as to perfect herself—
Helmer. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.
Nora. And when she heard you had been appointed manager
of the Bank—the news was telegraphed, you know—
she travelled here as quick as she could. Torvald, I am sure
you will be able to do something for Christine, for my
sake, won’t you?
Helmer. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume
you are a widow, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Helmer. And have had some experience of book-keeping?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, a fair amount.
Helmer. Ah! well, it’s very likely I may be able to find
something for you—
Nora (clapping her hands). What did I tell you? What did
I tell you?
Helmer. You have just come at a fortunate moment, Mrs.
Linde.
Mrs. Linde. How am I to thank you?
Helmer. There is no need. (Puts on his coat.) But today
you must excuse me—
Rank. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (Brings his fur
coat from the hall and warms it at the fire.)
Nora. Don’t be long away, Torvald dear.
Helmer. About an hour, not more.
Nora. Are you going too, Christine?
Mrs. Linde (putting on her cloak). Yes, I must go and
look for a room.
Helmer. Oh, well then, we can walk down the street together.
Nora (helping her). What a pity it is we are so short of
space here; I am afraid it is impossible for us—
Mrs. Linde. Please don’t think of it! Goodbye, Nora dear,
and many thanks.
Nora. Goodbye for the present. Of course you will come
back this evening. And you too, Dr. Rank. What do you
say? If you are well enough? Oh, you must be! Wrap yourself
up well. (They go to the door all talking together.
Children’s voices are heard on the staircase.)
Nora. There they are! There they are! (She runs to open
the door. The NURSE comes in with the children.) Come
in! Come in! (Stoops and kisses them.) Oh, you sweet
blessings! Look at them, Christine! Aren’t they darlings?
Rank. Don’t let us stand here in the draught.
Helmer. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be
bearable for a mother now!
(RANK, HELMER, and Mrs. LINDE go downstairs. The
NURSE comes forward with the children; NORA shuts the
hall door.)
Nora. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks like
apples and roses. (The children all talk at once while she
speaks to them.) Have you had great fun? That’s splendid!
What, you pulled both Emmy and Bob along on the
sledge? —both at once?—that was good. You are a clever
boy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little, Anne. My sweet
little baby doll! (Takes the baby from the MAID and dances
it up and down.) Yes, yes, mother will dance with Bob
too. What! Have you been snowballing? I wish I had been
there too! No, no, I will take their things off, Anne; please
let me do it, it is such fun. Go in now, you look half
frozen. There is some hot coffee for you on the stove.
(The NURSE goes into the room on the left. NORA takes
off the children’s things and throws them about, while
they all talk to her at once.)
Nora. Really! Did a big dog run after you? But it didn’t
bite you? No, dogs don’t bite nice little dolly children.
You mustn’t look at the parcels, Ivar. What are they? Ah,
I daresay you would like to know. No, no—it’s something
nasty! Come, let us have a game! What shall we play at?
Hide and Seek? Yes, we’ll play Hide and Seek. Bob shall
hide first. Must I hide? Very well, I’ll hide first. (She and
the children laugh and shout, and romp in and out of the
room; at last NORA hides under the table, the children
rush in and out for her, but do not see her; they hear her
smothered laughter, run to the table, lift up the cloth and
find her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends
to frighten them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there
has been a knock at the hall door, but none of them has
noticed it. The door is half opened, and KROGSTAD appears,
lie waits a little; the game goes on.)
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora (with a stifled cry, turns round and gets up on to
her knees). Ah! what do you want?
Krogstad. Excuse me, the outer door was ajar; I suppose
someone forgot to shut it.
Nora (rising). My husband is out, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. I know that.
Nora. What do you want here, then?
Krogstad. A word with you.
Nora. With me?—(To the children, gently.) Go in to nurse.
What? No, the strange man won’t do mother any harm.
When he has gone we will have another game. (She takes
the children into the room on the left, and shuts the door
after them.) You want to speak to me?
Krogstad. Yes, I do.
Nora. Today? It is not the first of the month yet.
Krogstad. No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on
yourself what sort of a Christmas you will spend.
Nora. What do you mean? Today it is absolutely impossible
for me—
Krogstad. We won’t talk about that until later on. This is
something different. I presume you can give me a moment?
Nora. Yes—yes, I can—although—
Krogstad. Good. I was in Olsen’s Restaurant and saw your
husband going down the street—
Nora. Yes?
Krogstad. With a lady.
Nora. What then?
Krogstad. May I make so bold as to ask if it was a Mrs.
Linde?
Nora. It was.
Krogstad. Just arrived in town?
Nora. Yes, today.
Krogstad. She is a great friend of yours, isn’t she?
Nora. She is. But I don’t see—
Krogstad. I knew her too, once upon a time.
Nora. I am aware of that.
Krogstad. Are you? So you know all about it; I thought
as much. Then I can ask you, without beating about the
bush—is Mrs. Linde to have an appointment in the Bank?
Nora. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad?—
You, one of my husband’s subordinates! But since you
ask, you shall know. Yes, Mrs. Linde is to have an appointment.
And it was I who pleaded her cause, Mr. Krogstad,
let me tell you that.
Krogstad. I was right in what I thought, then.
Nora (walking up and down the stage). Sometimes one
has a tiny little bit of influence, I should hope. Because
one is a woman, it does not necessarily follow that—.
When anyone is in a subordinate position, Mr. Krogstad,
they should really be careful to avoid offending anyone
who—who—
Krogstad. Who has influence?
Nora. Exactly.
Krogstad (changing his tone). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so
good as to use your influence on my behalf.
Nora. What? What do you mean?
Krogstad. You will be so kind as to see that I am allowed
to keep my subordinate position in the Bank.
Nora. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take
your post away from you?
Krogstad. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence
of ignorance. I can quite understand that your friend
is not very anxious to expose herself to the chance of
rubbing shoulders with me; and I quite understand, too,
whom I have to thank for being turned off.
Nora. But I assure you—
Krogstad. Very likely; but, to come to the point, the time
has come when I should advise you to use your influence
to prevent that.
Nora. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have no influence.
Krogstad. Haven’t you? I thought you said yourself just
now—
Nora. Naturally I did not mean you to put that construction
on it. I! What should make you think I have any
influence of that kind with my husband?
Krogstad. Oh, I have known your husband from our student
days. I don’t suppose he is any more unassailable
than other husbands.
Nora. If you speak slightingly of my husband, I shall turn
you out of the house.
Krogstad. You are bold, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora. I am not afraid of you any longer. As soon as the
New Year comes, I shall in a very short time be free of the
whole thing.
Krogstad (controlling himself). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer.
If necessary) I am prepared to fight for my small post in
the Bank as if I were fighting for my life.
Nora. So it seems.
Krogstad. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed,
that weighs least with me in the matter. There is
another reason—well, I may as well tell you. My position
is this. I daresay you know, like everybody else, that once,
many years ago, I was guilty of an indiscretion.
Nora. I think I have heard something of the kind.
Krogstad. The matter never came into court; but every
way seemed to be closed to me after that. So I took to
the business that you know of. I had to do something;
and, honestly, I don’t think I’ve been one of the worst.
But now I must cut myself free from all that. My sons are
growing up; for their sake I must try and win back as
much respect as I can in the town. This post in the Bank
was like the first step up for me— and now your husband
is going to kick me downstairs again into the mud.
Nora. But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in
my power to help you at all.
Krogstad. Then it is because you haven’t the will; but I
have means to compel you.
Nora. You don’t mean that you will tell my husband that
I owe you money?
Krogstad. Hm!—suppose I were to tell him?
Nora. It would be perfectly infamous of you. (Sobbing.)
To think of his learning my secret, which has been my joy
and pride, in such an ugly, clumsy way— that he should
learn it from you! And it would put me in a horribly disagreeable
position—
Krogstad. Only disagreeable?
Nora (impetuously). Well, do it, then!—and it will be the
worse for you. My husband will see for himself what a
blackguard you are, and you certainly won’t keep your
post then.
Krogstad. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene
at home that you were afraid of?
Nora. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he
will at once pay you what is still owing, and we shall have
nothing more to do with you.
Krogstad (coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs.
Helmer. Either you have a very bad memory or you know
very little of business. I shall be obliged to remind you of
a few details.
Nora. What do you mean?
Krogstad. When your husband was ill, you came to me to
borrow two hundred and fifty pounds.
Nora. I didn’t know anyone else to go to.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount—
Nora. Yes, and you did so.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount, on certain
conditions. Your mind was so taken up with your husband’s
illness, and you were so anxious to get the money for your
journey, that you seem to have paid no attention to the
conditions of our bargain. Therefore it will not be amiss if
I remind you of them. Now, I promised to get the money
on the security of a bond which I drew up.
Nora. Yes, and which I signed.
Krogstad. Good. But below your signature there were a
few lines constituting your father a surety for the money;
those lines your father should have signed.
Nora. Should? He did sign them.
Krogstad. I had left the date blank; that is to say, your
father should himself have inserted the date on which he
signed the paper. Do you remember that?
Nora. Yes, I think I remember—
Krogstad. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to
your father. Is that not so?
Nora. Yes.
Krogstad. And you naturally did so at once, because five
or six days afterwards you brought me the bond with your
father’s signature. And then I gave you the money.
Nora. Well, haven’t I been paying it off regularly?
Krogstad. Fairly so, yes. But—to come back to the matter
in hand—that must have been a very trying time for
you, Mrs. Helmer?
Nora. It was, indeed.
Krogstad. Your father was very ill, wasn’t he?
Nora. He was very near his end.
Krogstad. And died soon afterwards?
Nora. Yes.
Krogstad. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance
remember what day your father died?—on what day of
the month, I mean.
Nora. Papa died on the 29th of September.
Krogstad. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself.
And, as that is so, there is a discrepancy (taking a
paper from his pocket) which I cannot account for.
Nora. What discrepancy? I don’t know—
Krogstad. The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the
fact that your father signed this bond three days after his
death.
Nora. What do you mean? I don’t understand—
Krogstad. Your father died on the 29th of September.
But, look here; your father has dated his signature the
2nd of October. It is a discrepancy, isn’t it? (NORA is
silent.) Can you explain it to me? (NORA is still silent.) It
is a remarkable thing, too, that the words “2nd of October,”
as well as the year, are not written in your father’s
handwriting but in one that I think I know. Well, of course
it can be explained; your father may have forgotten to
date his signature, and someone else may have dated it
haphazard before they knew of his death. There is no harm
in that. It all depends on the signature of the name; and
that is genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father
himself who signed his name here?
Nora (after a short pause, throws her head up and looks
defiantly at him). No, it was not. It was I that wrote
papa’s name.
Krogstad. Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?
Nora. In what way? You shall have your money soon.
Krogstad. Let me ask you a question; why did you not
send the paper to your father?
Nora. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked
him for his signature, I should have had to tell him what
the money was to be used for; and when he was so ill
himself I couldn’t tell him that my husband’s life was in
danger— it was impossible.
Krogstad. It would have been better for you if you had
given up your trip abroad.
Nora. No, that was impossible. That trip was to save my
husband’s life; I couldn’t give that up.
Krogstad. But did it never occur to you that you were
committing a fraud on me?
Nora. I couldn’t take that into account; I didn’t trouble
myself about you at all. I couldn’t bear you, because you
put so many heartless difficulties in my way, although
you knew what a dangerous condition my husband was in.
Krogstad. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly
what it is that you have been guilty of. But I can assure
you that my one false step, which lost me all my reputation,
was nothing more or nothing worse than what you
have done.
Nora. You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave
enough to run a risk to save your wife’s life?
Krogstad. The law cares nothing about motives.
Nora. Then it must be a very foolish law.
Krogstad. Foolish or not, it is the law by which you will
be judged, if I produce this paper in court.
Nora. I don’t believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed
to spare her dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not
to be allowed to save her husband’s life? I don’t know
much about law; but I am certain that there must be laws
permitting such things as that. Have you no knowledge of
such laws— you who are a lawyer? You must be a very
poor lawyer, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. Maybe. But matters of business—such business
as you and I have had together—do you think I
don’t understand that? Very well. Do as you please. But
let me tell you this—if I lose my position a second time,
you shall lose yours with me. (He bows, and goes out
through the hall.)
Nora (appears buried in thought for a short time, then
tosses her head). Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that!—
I am not so silly as he thinks. (Begins to busy herself putting
the children’s things in order.) And yet—? No, it’s
impossible! I did it for love’s sake.
The Children (in the doorway on the left). Mother, the
stranger man has gone out through the gate.
Nora. Yes, dears, I know. But, don’t tell anyone about the
stranger man. Do you hear? Not even papa.
Children. No, mother; but will you come and play again?
Nora. No, no,—not now.
Children. But, mother, you promised us.
Nora. Yes, but I can’t now. Run away in; I have such a lot
to do. Run away in, my sweet little darlings. (She gets
them into the room by degrees and shuts the door on
them; then sits down on the sofa, takes up a piece of
needlework and sews a few stitches, but soon stops.) No!
(Throws down the work, gets up, goes to the hall door
and calls out.) Helen! bring the Tree in. (Goes to the table
on the left, opens a drawer, and stops again.) No, no! it is
quite impossible!
Maid (coming in with the Tree). Where shall I put it,
ma’am?
Nora. Here, in the middle of the floor.
Maid. Shall I get you anything else?
Nora. No, thank you. I have all I want. [Exit MAID.]
Nora (begins dressing the tree). A candle here-and flowers
here—The horrible man! It’s all nonsense—there’s nothing
wrong. The tree shall be splendid! I will do everything
I can think of to please you, Torvald!—I will sing for you,
dance for you—(HELMER comes in with some papers under
his arm.) Oh! are you back already?
Helmer. Yes. Has anyone been here?
Nora. Here? No.
Helmer. That is strange. I saw Krogstad going out of the
gate.
Nora. Did you? Oh yes, I forgot, Krogstad was here for a
moment.
Helmer. Nora, I can see from your manner that he has
been here begging you to say a good word for him.
Nora. Yes.
Helmer. And you were to appear to do it of your own
accord; you were to conceal from me the fact of his having
been here; didn’t he beg that of you too?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, but—
Helmer. Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that
sort of thing? To have any talk with a man like that, and
give him any sort of promise? And to tell me a lie into the
bargain?
Nora. A lie—?
Helmer. Didn’t you tell me no one had been here? (Shakes
his finger at her.) My little songbird must never do that
again. A songbird must have a clean beak to chirp with—
no false notes! (Puts his arm round her waist.) That is so,
isn’t it? Yes, I am sure it is. (Lets her go.) We will say no
more about it. (Sits down by the stove.) How warm and
snug it is here! (Turns over his papers.)
Nora (after a short pause, during which she busies herself
with the Christmas Tree.) Torvald!
Helmer. Yes.
Nora. I am looking forward tremendously to the fancydress
ball at the Stenborgs’ the day after tomorrow.
Helmer. And I am tremendously curious to see what you
are going to surprise me with.
Nora. It was very silly of me to want to do that.
Helmer. What do you mean?
Nora. I can’t hit upon anything that will do; everything I
think of seems so silly and insignificant.
Helmer. Does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?
Nora (standing behind his chair with her arms on the
back of it). Are you very busy, Torvald?
Helmer. Well—Nora. What are all those papers?
Helmer. Bank business.
Nora. Already?
Helmer. I have got authority from the retiring manager
to undertake the necessary changes in the staff and in the
rearrangement of the work; and I must make use of the
Christmas week for that, so as to have everything in order
for the new year.
Nora. Then that was why this poor Krogstad—
Helmer. Hm!
Nora (leans against the back of his chair and strokes his
hair). If you hadn’t been so busy I should have asked you
a tremendously big favour, Torvald.
Helmer. What is that? Tell me.
Nora. There is no one has such good taste as you. And I
do so want to look nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald,
couldn’t you take me in hand and decide what I shall go
as, and what sort of a dress I shall wear?
Helmer. Aha! so my obstinate little woman is obliged to
get someone to come to her rescue?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, I can’t get along a bit without your
help.
Helmer. Very well, I will think it over, we shall manage to
hit upon something.
Nora. That is nice of you. (Goes to the Christmas Tree. A
short pause.) How pretty the red flowers look—. But, tell
me, was it really something very bad that this Krogstad
was guilty of?
Helmer. He forged someone’s name. Have you any idea
what that means?
Nora. Isn’t it possible that he was driven to do it by
necessity?
Helmer. Yes; or, as in so many cases, by imprudence. I am
not so heartless as to condemn a man altogether because
of a single false step of that kind.
Nora. No, you wouldn’t, would you, Torvald?
Helmer. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character,
if he has openly confessed his fault and taken his
punishment.
Nora. Punishment—?
Helmer. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got
himself out of it by a cunning trick, and that is why he
has gone under altogether.
Nora. But do you think it would—?
Helmer. Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie
and play the hypocrite with every one, how he has to wear
a mask in the presence of those near and dear to him,
even before his own wife and children. And about the
children— that is the most terrible part of it all, Nora.
Nora. How?
Helmer. Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and
poisons the whole life of a home. Each breath the children
take in such a house is full of the germs of evil.
Nora (coming nearer him). Are you sure of that?
Helmer. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my
life as a lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad
early in life has had a deceitful mother.
Nora. Why do you only say— mother?
Helmer. It seems most commonly to be the mother’s
influence, though naturally a bad father’s would have the
same result. Every lawyer is familiar with the fact. This
Krogstad, now, has been persistently poisoning his own
children with lies and dissimulation; that is why I say he
has lost all moral character. (Holds out his hands to her.)
That is why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to
plead his cause. Give me your hand on it. Come, come,
what is this? Give me your hand. There now, that’s settled.
I assure you it would be quite impossible for me to work
with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the
company of such people.
Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite
side of the Christmas Tree). How hot it is in here; and I
have such a lot to do.
Helmer (getting up and putting his papers in order). Yes,
and I must try and read through some of these before
dinner; and I must think about your costume, too. And it
is just possible I may have something ready in gold paper
to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his hand on her head.) My
precious little singing-bird! (He goes into his room and
shuts the door after him.)
Nora (after a pause, whispers). No, no—it isn’t true. It’s
impossible; it must be impossible.
(The NURSE opens the door on the left.)
Nurse. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed
to come in to mamma.
Nora. No, no, no! Don’t let them come in to me! You stay
with them, Anne.
Nurse. Very well, ma’am. (Shuts the door.)
Nora (pale with terror). Deprave my little children? Poison
my home? (A short pause. Then she tosses her head.)
It’s not true. It can’t possibly be true.
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Act II


(The same scene.—The Christmas Tree is in the corner
by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burntdown
candle-ends on its dishevelled branches. NORA’S
cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She is alone in the
room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and
takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops her cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes
to the door and listens.) No—it is no one. Of course, no
one will come today, Christmas Day—nor tomorrow either.
But, perhaps—(opens the door and looks out). No,
nothing in the letterbox; it is quite empty. (Comes forward.)
What rubbish! of course he can’t be in earnest
about it. Such a thing couldn’t happen; it is impossible—
I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a
big cardboard box.)
Nurse. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora. Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse (doing so). But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand
pieces.
Nurse. What an idea! It can easily be put in order—just a
little patience.
Nora. Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help
me with it.
Nurse. What, out again? In this horrible weather? You
will catch cold, ma’am, and make yourself ill.
Nora. Well, worse than that might happen. How are the
children?
Nurse. The poor little souls are playing with their Christmas
presents, but—
Nora. Do they ask much for me?
Nurse. You see, they are so accustomed to have their
mamma with them.
Nora. Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much
with them now as I was before.
Nurse. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora. Do you think so? Do you think they would forget
their mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens!—went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have
often wondered about—how could you have the heart to
put your own child out among strangers?
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora’s
nurse.
Nora. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse. What, when I was going to get such a good place
by it? A poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad
to. Besides, that wicked man didn’t do a single thing for
me.
Nora. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten
you.
Nurse. No, indeed she hasn’t. She wrote to me when she
was confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora (putting her arms round her neck). Dear old Anne,
you were a good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse. Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but
me. Nora. And if my little ones had no other mother, I am
sure you would—What nonsense I am talking! (Opens the
box.) Go in to them. Now I must—. You will see tomorrow
how charming I shall look.
Nurse. I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming
as you, ma’am. (Goes into the room on the left.)
Nora (begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away
from her). If only I dared go out. If only no one would
come. If only I could be sure nothing would happen here
in the meantime. Stuff and nonsense! No one will come.
Only I mustn’t think about it. I will brush my muff. What
lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts, out of my
thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six—(Screams.) Ah!
there is someone coming—. (Makes a movement towards
the door, but stands irresolute.)
(Enter MRS. LINDE from the hall, where she has taken off
her cloak and hat.)
Nora. Oh, it’s you, Christine. There is no one else out
there, is there? How good of you to come!
Mrs. Linde. I heard you were up asking for me.
Nora. Yes, I was passing by. As a matter of fact, it is
something you could help me with. Let us sit down here
on the sofa. Look here. Tomorrow evening there is to be a
fancy-dress ball at the Stenborgs’, who live above us; and
Torvald wants me to go as a Neapolitan fisher-girl, and
dance the Tarantella that I learned at Capri.
Mrs. Linde. I see; you are going to keep up the character.
Nora. Yes, Torvald wants me to. Look, here is the dress;
Torvald had it made for me there, but now it is all so torn,
and I haven’t any idea—
Mrs. Linde. We will easily put that right. It is only some
of the trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and
thread? Now then, that’s all we want.
Nora. It is nice of you.
Mrs. Linde (sewing). So you are going to be dressed up
tomorrow Nora. I will tell you what—I shall come in for a
moment and see you in your fine feathers. But I have
completely forgotten to thank you for a delightful evening
yesterday.
Nora (gets up, and crosses the stage). Well, I don’t think
yesterday was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have
come to town a little earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald
does understand how to make a house dainty and attractive.
Mrs. Linde. And so do you, it seems to me; you are not
your father’s daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor
Rank always as depressed as he was yesterday?
Nora. No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell
you that he suffers from a very dangerous disease. He has
consumption of the spine, poor creature. His father was a
horrible man who committed all sorts of excesses; and
that is why his son was sickly from childhood, do you
understand?
Mrs. Linde (dropping her sewing). But, my dearest Nora,
how do you know anything about such things?
Nora (walking about). Pooh! When you have three children,
you get visits now and then from—from married
women, who know something of medical matters, and
they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde (goes on sewing. A short silence). Does Doctor
Rank come here everyday?
Nora. Everyday regularly. He is Torvald’s most intimate
friend, and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one
of the family.
Mrs. Linde. But tell me this—is he perfectly sincere? I
mean, isn’t he the kind of man that is very anxious to
make himself agreeable?
Nora. Not in the least. What makes you think that?
Mrs. Linde. When you introduced him to me yesterday, he
declared he had often heard my name mentioned in this
house; but afterwards I noticed that your husband hadn’t
the slightest idea who I was. So how could Doctor Rank—?
Nora. That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly
fond of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he
says. At first he used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned
any of the dear folk at home, so naturally I gave up
doing so. But I often talk about such things with Doctor
Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a
child in many things, and I am older than you in many
ways and have a little more experience. Let me tell you
this—you ought to make an end of it with Doctor Rank.
Nora. What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde. Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked
some nonsense about a rich admirer who was to leave you
money—
Nora. An admirer who doesn’t exist, unfortunately! But
what then?
Mrs. Linde. Is Doctor Rank a man of means?
Nora. Yes, he is.
Mrs. Linde. And has no one to provide for?
Nora. No, no one; but—
Mrs. Linde. And comes here everyday?
Nora. Yes, I told you so.
Mrs. Linde. But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?
Nora. I don’t understand you at all.
Mrs. Linde. Don’t prevaricate, Nora. Do you suppose I
don’t guess who lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds?
Nora. Are you out of your senses? How can you think of
such a thing! A friend of ours, who comes here everyday!
Do you realise what a horribly painful position that would
be?
Mrs. Linde. Then it really isn’t he?
Nora. No, certainly not. It would never have entered into
my head for a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend
then; he came into his money afterwards.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear
Nora.
Nora. No, it would never have come into my head to ask
Doctor Rank. Although I am quite sure that if I had asked
him—
Mrs. Linde. But of course you won’t.
Nora. Of course not. I have no reason to think it could
possibly be necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told
Doctor Rank—
Mrs. Linde. Behind your husband’s back?
Nora. I must make an end of it with the other one, and
that will be behind his back too. I must make an end of it
with him.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but—
Nora (walking up and down). A man can put a thing like
that straight much easier than a woman—
Mrs. Linde. One’s husband, yes.
Nora. Nonsense! (Standing still.) When you pay off a debt
you get your bond back, don’t you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces,
and burn it up—the nasty dirty paper!
Mrs. Linde (looks hard at her, lays down her sewing and
gets up slowly). Nora, you are concealing something from
me.
Nora. Do I look as if I were?
Mrs. Linde. Something has happened to you since yesterday
morning. Nora, what is it?
Nora (going nearer to her). Christine! (Listens.) Hush!
there’s Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the
children for the present? Torvald can’t bear to see dressmaking
going on. Let Anne help you.
Mrs. Linde (gathering some of the things together). Certainly
—but I am not going away from here until we have
had it out with one another. (She goes into the room on
the left, as HELMER comes in from the hail.)
Nora (going up to HELMER). I have wanted you so much,
Torvald dear.
Helmer. Was that the dressmaker?
Nora. No, it was Christine; she is helping me to put my
dress in order. You will see I shall look quite smart.
Helmer. Wasn’t that a happy thought of mine, now?
Nora. Splendid! But don’t you think it is nice of me, too,
to do as you wish?
Helmer. Nice?—because you do as your husband wishes?
Well, well, you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it
in that way. But I am not going to disturb you; you will
want to be trying on your dress, I expect.
Nora. I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer. Yes. (Shows her a bundle of papers.) Look at
that. I have just been into the bank. (Turns to go into his
room.)
Nora. Torvald.
Helmer. Yes.
Nora. If your little squirrel were to ask you for something
very, very prettily—?
Helmer. What then?
Nora. Would you do it?
Helmer. I should like to hear what it is, first.
Nora. Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks
if you would be nice, and do what she wants.
Helmer. Speak plainly.
Nora. Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with
her song rising and falling—
Helmer. Well, my skylark does that anyhow.
Nora. I would play the fairy and dance for you in the
moonlight, Torvald.
Helmer. Nora—you surely don’t mean that request you
made to me this morning?
Nora (going near him). Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly—
Helmer. Have you really the courage to open up that
question again?
Nora. Yes, dear, you must do as I ask; you must let Krogstad
keep his post in the bank.
Helmer. My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged
Mrs. Linde shall have.
Nora. Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but
you could just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of
Krogstad.
Helmer. This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you
chose to give him a thoughtless promise that you would
speak for him, I am expected to—
Nora. That isn’t the reason, Torvald. It is for your own
sake. This fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers;
you have told me so yourself. He can do you an
unspeakable amount of harm. I am frightened to death of
him—
Helmer. Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past
that scare you.
Nora. What do you mean?
Helmer. Naturally you are thinking of your father.
Nora. Yes—yes, of course. Just recall to your mind what
these malicious creatures wrote in the papers about papa,
and how horribly they slandered him. I believe they would
have procured his dismissal if the Department had not
sent you over to inquire into it, and if you had not been
so kindly disposed and helpful to him.
Helmer. My little Nora, there is an important difference
between your father and me. Your father’s reputation as a
public official was not above suspicion. Mine is, and I
hope it will continue to be so, as long as I hold my office.
Nora. You never can tell what mischief these men may
contrive. We ought to be so well off, so snug and happy
here in our peaceful home, and have no cares—you and I
and the children, Torvald! That is why I beg you so earnestly—
Helmer. And it is just by interceding for him that you
make it impossible for me to keep him. It is already known
at the Bank that I mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get
about now that the new manager has changed his mind at
his wife’s bidding—
Nora. And what if it did?
Helmer. Of course!—if only this obstinate little person
can get her way! Do you suppose I am going to make
myself ridiculous before my whole staff, to let people
think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts of outside
influence? I should very soon feel the consequences of it,
I can tell you! And besides, there is one thing that makes
it quite impossible for me to have Krogstad in the Bank as
long as I am manager.
Nora. Whatever is that?
Helmer. His moral failings I might perhaps have overlooked,
if necessary—
Nora. Yes, you could—couldn’t you?
Helmer. And I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew
him when we were boys. It was one of those rash friendships
that so often prove an incubus in afterlife. I may as
well tell you plainly, we were once on very intimate terms
with one another. But this tactless fellow lays no restraint
on himself when other people are present. On the contrary,
he thinks it gives him the right to adopt a familiar
tone with me, and every minute it is “I say, Helmer, old
fellow!” and that sort of thing. I assure you it is extremely
painful for me. He would make my position in the
Bank intolerable.
Nora. Torvald, I don’t believe you mean that.
Helmer. Don’t you? Why not?
Nora. Because it is such a narrow-minded way of looking
at things.
Helmer. What are you saying? Narrow-minded? Do you
think I am narrow-minded?
Nora. No, just the opposite, dear—and it is exactly for
that reason.
Helmer. It’s the same thing. You say my point of view is
narrow-minded, so I must be so too. Narrow-minded! Very
well—I must put an end to this. (Goes to the hall door
and calls.) Helen!
Nora. What are you going to do?
Helmer (looking among his papers). Settle it. (Enter
MAID.) Look here; take this letter and go downstairs with
it at once. Find a messenger and tell him to deliver it, and
be quick. The address is on it, and here is the money.
Maid. Very well, sir. (Exit with the letter.)
Helmer (putting his papers together). Now then, little
Miss Obstinate.
Nora (breathlessly). Torvald—what was that letter?
Helmer. Krogstad’s dismissal.
Nora. Call her back, Torvald! There is still time. Oh Torvald,
call her back! Do it for my sake—for your own sake—for
the children’s sake! Do you hear me, Torvald? Call her back!
You don’t know what that letter can bring upon us.
Helmer. It’s too late.
Nora. Yes, it’s too late.
Helmer. My dear Nora, I can forgive the anxiety you are
in, although really it is an insult to me. It is, indeed. Isn’t
it an insult to think that I should be afraid of a starving
quill-driver’s vengeance? But I forgive you nevertheless,
because it is such eloquent witness to your great love for
me. (Takes her in his arms.) And that is as it should be,
my own darling Nora. Come what will, you may be sure I
shall have both courage and strength if they be needed.
You will see I am man enough to take everything upon
myself.
Nora (in a horror-stricken voice). What do you mean by
that?
Helmer. Everything, I say—
Nora (recovering herself). You will never have to do that.
Helmer. That’s right. Well, we will share it, Nora, as man
and wife should. That is how it shall be. (Caressing her.)
Are you content now? There! There!—not these frightened
dove’s eyes! The whole thing is only the wildest
fancy!—Now, you must go and play through the Tarantella
and practise with your tambourine. I shall go into
the inner office and shut the door, and I shall hear nothing;
you can make as much noise as you please. (Turns
back at the door.) And when Rank comes, tell him where
he will find me. (Nods to her, takes his papers and goes
into his room, and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (bewildered with anxiety, stands as if rooted to the
spot, and whispers). He was capable of doing it. He will
do it. He will do it in spite of everything.—No, not that!
Never, never! Anything rather than that I Oh, for some
help, some way out of it! (The door-bell rings.) Doctor
Rank! Anything rather than that—anything, whatever it
is! (She puts her hands over her face, pulls herself together,
goes to the door and opens it. RANK is standing
without, hanging up his coat. During the following dialogue
it begins to grow dark.)
Nora. Good day, Doctor Rank. I knew your ring. But you
mustn’t go in to Torvald now; I think he is busy with
something.
Rank. And you?
Nora (brings him in and shuts the door after him). Oh,
you know very well I always have time for you.
Rank. Thank you. I shall make use of as much of it as I can.
Nora. What do you mean by that? As much of it as you
can?
Rank. Well, does that alarm you?
Nora. It was such a strange way of putting it. Is anything
likely to happen?
Rank. Nothing but what I have long been prepared for.
But I certainly didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
Nora (gripping him by the arm). What have you found
out? Doctor Rank, you must tell me.
Rank (sitting down by the stove). It is all up with me.
And it can’t be helped.
Nora (with a sigh of relief). Is it about yourself?
Rank. Who else? It is no use lying to one’s self. I am the
most wretched of all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. Lately I
have been taking stock of my internal economy. Bankrupt!
Probably within a month I shall lie rotting in the
churchyard.
Nora. What an ugly thing to say!
Rank. The thing itself is cursedly ugly, and the worst of it
is that I shall have to face so much more that is ugly
before that. I shall only make one more examination of
myself; when I have done that, I shall know pretty certainly
when it will be that the horrors of dissolution will
begin. There is something I want to tell you. Helmer’s
refined nature gives him an unconquerable disgust at everything
that is ugly; I won’t have him in my sick-room.
Nora. Oh, but, Doctor Rank—
Rank. I won’t have him there. Not on any account. I bar
my door to him. As soon as I am quite certain that the
worst has come, I shall send you my card with a black
cross on it, and then you will know that the loathsome
end has begun.
Nora. You are quite absurd today. And I wanted you so
much to be in a really good humour.
Rank. With death stalking beside me?—To have to pay
this penalty for another man’s sin? Is there any justice in
that? And in every single family, in one way or another,
some such inexorable retribution is being exacted—
Nora (putting her hands over her ears). Rubbish! Do talk
of something cheerful.
Rank. Oh, it’s a mere laughing matter, the whole thing.
My poor innocent spine has to suffer for my father’s youth
ful amusements.
Nora (sitting at the table on the left). I suppose you
mean that he was too partial to asparagus and pate de
foie gras, don’t you?
Rank. Yes, and to truffles.
Nora. Truffles, yes. And oysters too, I suppose?
Rank. Oysters, of course, that goes without saying.
Nora. And heaps of port and champagne. It is sad that all
these nice things should take their revenge on our bones.
Rank. Especially that they should revenge themselves on
the unlucky bones of those who have not had the satisfaction
of enjoying them.
Nora. Yes, that’s the saddest part of it all.
Rank (with a searching look at her). Hm!—
Nora (after a short pause). Why did you smile?
Rank. No, it was you that laughed.
Nora. No, it was you that smiled, Doctor Rank!
Rank (rising). You are a greater rascal than I thought.
Nora. I am in a silly mood today.
Rank. So it seems.
Nora (putting her hands on his shoulders). Dear, dear
Doctor Rank, death mustn’t take you away from Torvald
and me.
Rank. It is a loss you would easily recover from. Those
who are gone are soon forgotten.
Nora (looking at him anxiously). Do you believe that?
Rank. People form new ties, and then—
Nora. Who will form new ties?
Rank. Both you and Helmer, when I am gone. You yourself
are already on the high road to it, I think. What did
that Mrs. Linde want here last night?
Nora. Oho!—you don’t mean to say you are jealous of
poor Christine?
Rank. Yes, I am. She will be my successor in this house.
When I am done for, this woman will—
Nora. Hush! don’t speak so loud. She is in that room.
Rank. Today again. There, you see.
Nora. She has only come to sew my dress for me. Bless my
soul, how unreasonable you are! (Sits down on the sofa.)
Be nice now, Doctor Rank, and tomorrow you will see how
beautifully I shall dance, and you can imagine I am doing
it all for you—and for Torvald too, of course. (Takes various
things out of the box.) Doctor Rank, come and sit
down here, and I will show you something.
Rank (sitting down). What is it?
Nora. Just look at those!
Rank. Silk stockings.
Nora. Flesh-coloured. Aren’t they lovely? It is so dark
here now, but tomorrow—. No, no, no! you must only
look at the feet. Oh well, you may have leave to look at
the legs too.
Rank. Hm!—Nora. Why are you looking so critical? Don’t
you think they will fit me?
Rank. I have no means of forming an opinion about that.
Nora (looks at him for a moment). For shame! (Hits him
lightly on the ear with the stockings.) That’s to punish
you. (Folds them up again.)
Rank. And what other nice things am I to be allowed to
see?
Nora. Not a single thing more, for being so naughty. (She
looks among the things, humming to herself.)
Rank (after a short silence). When I am sitting here, talking
to you as intimately as this, I cannot imagine for a
moment what would have become of me if I had never
come into this house.
Nora (smiling). I believe you do feel thoroughly at home
with us.
Rank (in a lower voice, looking straight in front of him).
And to be obliged to leave it all—
Nora. Nonsense, you are not going to leave it.
Rank (as before). And not be able to leave behind one
the slightest token of one’s gratitude, scarcely even a
fleeting regret—nothing but an empty place which the
first comer can fill as well as any other.
Nora. And if I asked you now for a—? No!
Rank. For what?
Nora. For a big proof of your friendship—
Rank. Yes, yes!
Nora. I mean a tremendously big favour—
Rank. Would you really make me so happy for once?
Nora. Ah, but you don’t know what it is yet.
Rank. No—but tell me.
Nora. I really can’t, Doctor Rank. It is something out of
all reason; it means advice, and help, and a favour—
Rank. The bigger a thing it is the better. I can’t conceive
what it is you mean. Do tell me. Haven’t I your confidence?
Nora. More than anyone else. I know you are my truest
and best friend, and so I will tell you what it is. Well,
Doctor Rank, it is something you must help me to prevent.
You know how devotedly, how inexpressibly deeply
Torvald loves me; he would never for a moment hesitate
to give his life for me.
Rank (leaning towards her). Nora—do you think he is the
only one—?
Nora (with a slight start). The only one—?
Rank. The only one who would gladly give his life for your
sake.
Nora (sadly). Is that it?
Rank. I was determined you should know it before I went
away, and there will never be a better opportunity than
this. Now you know it, Nora. And now you know, too,
that you can trust me as you would trust no one else.
Nora (rises, deliberately and quietly). Let me pass.
Rank (makes room for her to pass him, but sits still).
Nora!
Nora (at the hall door). Helen, bring in the lamp. (Goes
over to the stove.) Dear Doctor Rank, that was really horrid
of you.
Rank. To have loved you as much as anyone else does?
Was that horrid?
Nora. No, but to go and tell me so. There was really no
need—
Rank. What do you mean? Did you know—? (MAID enters
with lamp, puts it down on the table, and goes out.)
Nora—Mrs. Helmer—tell me, had you any idea of this?
Nora. Oh, how do I know whether I had or whether I
hadn’t? I really can’t tell you—To think you could be so
clumsy, Doctor Rank! We were getting on so nicely.
Rank. Well, at all events you know now that you can
command me, body and soul. So won’t you speak out?
Nora (looking at him). After what happened?
Rank. I beg you to let me know what it is.
Nora. I can’t tell you anything now.
Rank. Yes, yes. You mustn’t punish me in that way. Let
me have permission to do for you whatever a man may
do.
Nora. You can do nothing for me now. Besides, I really
don’t need any help at all. You will find that the whole
thing is merely fancy on my part. It really is so—of course
it is! (Sits down in the rocking-chair, and looks at him
with a smile.) You are a nice sort of man, Doctor Rank!—
don’t you feel ashamed of yourself, now the lamp has
come?
Rank. Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go—for ever?
Nora. No, indeed, you shall not. Of course you must come
here just as before. You know very well Torvald can’t do
without you.
Rank. Yes, but you?
Nora. Oh, I am always tremendously pleased when you
come.
Rank. It is just that, that put me on the wrong track.
You are a riddle to me. I have often thought that you
would almost as soon be in my company as in Helmer’s.
Nora. Yes—you see there are some people one loves best,
and others whom one would almost always rather have as
companions.
Rank. Yes, there is something in that.
Nora. When I was at home, of course I loved papa best.
But I always thought it tremendous fun if I could steal
down into the maids’ room, because they never moralised
at all, and talked to each other about such entertaining
things.
Rank. I see—it is their place I have taken.
Nora (jumping up and going to him). Oh, dear, nice Doctor
Rank, I never meant that at all. But surely you can
understand that being with Torvald is a little like being
with papa—(Enter MAID from the hall.)
Maid. If you please, ma’am. (Whispers and hands her a
card.)
Nora (glancing at the card). Oh! (Puts it in her pocket.)
Rank. Is there anything wrong?
Nora. No, no, not in the least. It is only something—it is
my new dress—
Rank. What? Your dress is lying there.
Nora. Oh, yes, that one; but this is another. I ordered it.
Torvald mustn’t know about it—
Rank. Oho! Then that was the great secret.
Nora. Of course. Just go in to him; he is sitting in the
inner room. Keep him as long as—
Rank. Make your mind easy; I won’t let him escape.
(Goes into HELMER’S room.)
Nora (to the MAID). And he is standing waiting in the
kitchen?
Maid. Yes; he came up the back stairs.
Nora. But didn’t you tell him no one was in?
Maid. Yes, but it was no good.
Nora. He won’t go away?
Maid. No; he says he won’t until he has seen you, ma’am.
Nora. Well, let him come in—but quietly. Helen, you
mustn’t say anything about it to anyone. It is a surprise
for my husband.
Maid. Yes, ma’am, I quite understand. (Exit.)
Nora. This dreadful thing is going to happen! It will happen
in spite of me! No, no, no, it can’t happen—it shan’t
happen! (She bolts the door of HELMER’S room. The MAID
opens the hall door for KROGSTAD and shuts it after him.
He is wearing a fur coat, high boots and a fur cap.)
Nora (advancing towards him). Speak low—my husband
is at home.
Krogstad. No matter about that.
Nora. What do you want of me?
Krogstad. An explanation of something.
Nora. Make haste then. What is it?
Krogstad. You know, I suppose, that I have got my dismissal.
Nora. I couldn’t prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought as hard
as I could on your side, but it was no good.
Krogstad. Does your husband love you so little, then? He
knows what I can expose you to, and yet he ventures—
Nora. How can you suppose that he has any knowledge of
the sort?
Krogstad. I didn’t suppose so at all. It would not be the
least like our dear Torvald Helmer to show so much courage—
Nora. Mr. Krogstad, a little respect for my husband, please.
Krogstad. Certainly—all the respect he deserves. But since
you have kept the matter so carefully to yourself, I make
bold to suppose that you have a little clearer idea, than
you had yesterday, of what it actually is that you have
done?
Nora. More than you could ever teach me.
Krogstad. Yes, such a bad lawyer as I am.
Nora. What is it you want of me?
Krogstad. Only to see how you were, Mrs. Helmer. I have
been thinking about you all day long. A mere cashier, a
quill-driver, a—well, a man like me—even he has a little
of what is called feeling, you know.
Nora. Show it, then; think of my little children.
Krogstad. Have you and your husband thought of mine?
But never mind about that. I only wanted to tell you that
you need not take this matter too seriously. In the first
place there will be no accusation made on my part.
Nora. No, of course not; I was sure of that.
Krogstad. The whole thing can be arranged amicably; there
is no reason why anyone should know anything about it.
It will remain a secret between us three.
Nora. My husband must never get to know anything about it.
Krogstad. How will you be able to prevent it? Am I to
understand that you can pay the balance that is owing?
Nora. No, not just at present.
Krogstad. Or perhaps that you have some expedient for
raising the money soon?
Nora. No expedient that I mean to make use of.
Krogstad. Well, in any case, it would have been of no use
to you now. If you stood there with ever so much money
in your hand, I would never part with your bond.
Nora. Tell me what purpose you mean to put it to.
Krogstad. I shall only preserve it—keep it in my possession.
No one who is not concerned in the matter shall
have the slightest hint of it. So that if the thought of it
has driven you to any desperate resolution—
Nora. It has.
Krogstad. If you had it in your mind to run away from
your home—
Nora. I had.
Krogstad. Or even something worse—
Nora. How could you know that?
Krogstad. Give up the idea.
Nora. How did you know I had thought of that?
Krogstad. Most of us think of that at first. I did, too—
but I hadn’t the courage.
Nora (faintly). No more had I.
Krogstad (in a tone of relief). No, that’s it, isn’t it—you
hadn’t the courage either?
Nora. No, I haven’t—I haven’t.
Krogstad. Besides, it would have been a great piece of
folly. Once the first storm at home is over—. I have a
letter for your husband in my pocket.
Nora. Telling him everything?
Krogstad. In as lenient a manner as I possibly could.
Nora (quickly). He mustn’t get the letter. Tear it up. I
will find some means of getting money.
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer, but I think I told you
just now—
Nora. I am not speaking of what I owe you. Tell me what
sum you are asking my husband for, and I will get the
money.
Krogstad. I am not asking your husband for a penny.
Nora. What do you want, then?
Krogstad. I will tell you. I want to rehabilitate myself,
Mrs. Helmer; I want to get on; and in that your husband
must help me. For the last year and a half I have not had
a hand in anything dishonourable, amid all that time I
have been struggling in most restricted circumstances. I
was content to work my way up step by step. Now I am
turned out, and I am not going to be satisfied with merely
being taken into favour again. I want to get on, I tell
you. I want to get into the Bank again, in a higher position.
Your husband must make a place for me—
Nora. That he will never do!
Krogstad. He will; I know him; he dare not protest. And
as soon as I am in there again with him, then you will see!
Within a year I shall be the manager’s right hand. It will
be Nils Krogstad and not Torvald Helmer who manages the
Bank.
Nora. That’s a thing you will never see!
Krogstad. Do you mean that you will—?
Nora. I have courage enough for it now.
Krogstad. Oh, you can’t frighten me. A fine, spoilt lady
like you—
Nora. You will see, you will see.
Krogstad. Under the ice, perhaps? Down into the cold,
coal-black water? And then, in the spring, to float up to
the surface, all horrible and unrecognisable, with your
hair fallen out—
Nora. You can’t frighten me.
Krogstad. Nor you me. People don’t do such things, Mrs.
Helmer. Besides, what use would it be? I should have him
completely in my power all the same.
Nora. Afterwards? When I am no longer—
Krogstad. Have you forgotten that it is I who have the
keeping of your reputation? (NORA stands speechlessly
looking at him.) Well, now, I have warned you. Do not do
anything foolish. When Helmer has had my letter, I shall
expect a message from him. And be sure you remember
that it is your husband himself who has forced me into
such ways as this again. I will never forgive him for that.
Goodbye, Mrs. Helmer. (Exit through the hall.)
Nora (goes to the hall door, opens it slightly and listens.)
He is going. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh
no, no! that’s impossible! (Opens the door by degrees.)
What is that? He is standing outside. He is not going
downstairs. Is he hesitating? Can he—? (A letter drops
into the box; then KROGSTAD’S footsteps are heard, until
they die away as he goes downstairs. NORA utters a stifled
cry, and runs across the room to the table by the sofa. A
short pause.)
Nora. In the letter-box. (Steals across to the hall door.)
There it lies—Torvald, Torvald, there is no hope for us
now!
(Mrs. LINDE comes in from the room on the left, carrying
the dress.)
Mrs. Linde. There, I can’t see anything more to mend
now. Would you like to try it on—?
Nora (in a hoarse whisper). Christine, come here.
Mrs. Linde (throwing the dress down on the sofa). What
is the matter with you? You look so agitated!
Nora. Come here. Do you see that letter? There, look—
you can see it through the glass in the letter-box.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I see it.
Nora. That letter is from Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde. Nora—it was Krogstad who lent you the
money!
Nora. Yes, and now Torvald will know all about it.
Mrs. Linde. Believe me, Nora, that’s the best thing for
both of you.
Nora. You don’t know all. I forged a name.
Mrs. Linde. Good heavens—!
Nora. I only want to say this to you, Christine—you must
be my witness.
Mrs. Linde. Your witness? What do you mean? What am I
to—?
Nora. If I should go out of my mind—and it might easily
happen—
Mrs. Linde. Nora!
Nora. Or if anything else should happen to me—anything,
for instance, that might prevent my being here—
Mrs. Linde. Nora! Nora! you are quite out of your mind.
Nora. And if it should happen that there were some one
who wanted to take all the responsibility, all the blame,
you understand—
Mrs. Linde. Yes, yes—but how can you suppose—?
Nora. Then you must be my witness, that it is not true,
Christine. I am not out of my mind at all; I am in my right
senses now, and I tell you no one else has known anything
about it; I, and I alone, did the whole thing. Remember
that.
Mrs. Linde. I will, indeed. But I don’t understand all this.
Nora. How should you understand it? A wonderful thing
is going to happen!
Mrs. Linde. A wonderful thing?
Nora. Yes, a wonderful thing!—But it is so terrible, Chris
tine; it mustn’t happen, not for all the world.
Mrs. Linde. I will go at once and see Krogstad.
Nora. Don’t go to him; he will do you some harm.
Mrs. Linde. There was a time when he would gladly do
anything for my sake.
Nora. He?
Mrs. Linde. Where does he live?
Nora. How should I know—? Yes (feeling in her pocket),
here is his card. But the letter, the letter—!
Helmer (calls from his room, knocking at the door). Nora!
Nora (cries out anxiously). Oh, what’s that? What do you
want?
Helmer. Don’t be so frightened. We are not coming in;
you have locked the door. Are you trying on your dress?
Nora. Yes, that’s it. I look so nice, Torvald.
Mrs. Linde (who has read the card). I see he lives at the
corner here.
Nora. Yes, but it’s no use. It is hopeless. The letter is
lying there in the box.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband keeps the key?
Nora. Yes, always.
Mrs. Linde. Krogstad must ask for his letter back unread,
he must find some pretence—
Nora. But it is just at this time that Torvald generally—
Mrs. Linde. You must delay him. Go in to him in the
meantime. I will come back as soon as I can. (She goes
out hurriedly through the hall door.)
Nora (goes to HELMER’S door, opens it and peeps in).
Torvald!
Helmer (from the inner room). Well? May I venture at
last to come into my own room again? Come along, Rank,
now you will see—(Halting in the doorway.) But what is
this?
Nora. What is what, dear?
Helmer. Rank led me to expect a splendid transformation.
Rank (in the doorway). I understood so, but evidently I
was mistaken.
Nora. Yes, nobody is to have the chance of admiring me
in my dress until tomorrow.
Helmer. But, my dear Nora, you look so worn out. Have
you been practising too much?
Nora. No, I have not practised at all.
Helmer. But you will need to—
Nora. Yes, indeed I shall, Torvald. But I can’t get on a bit
without you to help me; I have absolutely forgotten the
whole thing.
Helmer. Oh, we will soon work it up again.
Nora. Yes, help me, Torvald. Promise that you will! I am
so nervous about it—all the people—. You must give
yourself up to me entirely this evening. Not the tiniest bit
of business—you mustn’t even take a pen in your hand.
Will you promise, Torvald dear?
Helmer. I promise. This evening I will be wholly and absolutely
at your service, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by
the way, first of all I will just— (Goes towards the hall
door.)
Nora. What are you going to do there?
Helmer. Only see if any letters have come.
Nora. No, no! don’t do that, Torvald!
Helmer. Why not?
Nora. Torvald, please don’t. There is nothing there.
Helmer. Well, let me look. (Turns to go to the letter-box.
NORA, at the piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella.
HELMER stops in the doorway.) Aha!
Nora. I can’t dance tomorrow if I don’t practise with you.
Helmer (going up to her). Are you really so afraid of it,
dear?
Nora. Yes, so dreadfully afraid of it. Let me practise at
once; there is time now, before we go to dinner. Sit down
and play for me, Torvald dear; criticise me, and correct me
as you play.
Helmer. With great pleasure, if you wish me to. (Sits
down at the piano.)
Nora (takes out of the box a tambourine and a long variegated
shawl. She hastily drapes the shawl round her.
Then she springs to the front of the stage and calls out).
Now play for me! I am going to dance!
(HELMER plays and NORA dances. RANK stands by the
piano behind HELMER, and looks on.)
Helmer (as he plays). Slower, slower!
Nora. I can’t do it any other way.
Helmer. Not so violently, Nora!
Nora. This is the way.
Helmer (stops playing). No, no—that is not a bit right.
Nora (laughing and swinging the tambourine). Didn’t I
tell you so?
Rank. Let me play for her.
Helmer (getting up). Yes, do. I can correct her better then.
(RANK sits down at the piano and plays. NORA dances
more and more wildly. HELMER has taken up a position
beside the stove, and during her dance gives her frequent
instructions. She does not seem to hear him; her hair
comes down and falls over her shoulders; she pays no
attention to it, but goes on dancing. Enter Mrs. LINDE.)
Mrs. Linde (standing as if spell-bound in the doorway).
Oh!—
Nora (as she dances). Such fun, Christine!
Helmer. My dear darling Nora, you are dancing as if your
life depended on it.
Nora. So it does.
Helmer. Stop, Rank; this is sheer madness. Stop, I tell
you! (RANK stops playing, and NORA suddenly stands
still. HELMER goes up to her.) I could never have believed
it. You have forgotten everything I taught you.
Nora (throwing away the tambourine). There, you see.
Helmer. You will want a lot of coaching.
Nora. Yes, you see how much I need it. You must coach
me up to the last minute. Promise me that, Torvald!
Helmer. You can depend on me.
Nora. You must not think of anything but me, either
today or tomorrow; you mustn’t open a single letter—
not even open the letter-box—
Helmer. Ah, you are still afraid of that fellow—
Nora. Yes, indeed I am.
Helmer. Nora, I can tell from your looks that there is a
letter from him lying there.
Nora. I don’t know; I think there is; but you must not
read anything of that kind now. Nothing horrid must come
between us until this is all over.
Rank (whispers to HELMER). You mustn’t contradict her.
Helmer (taking her in his arms). The child shall have her
way. But tomorrow night, after you have danced—
Nora. Then you will be free. (The MAID appears in the
doorway to the right.)
Maid. Dinner is served, ma’am.
Nora. We will have champagne, Helen.
Maid. Very good, ma’am. [Exit.]
Helmer. Hullo!—are we going to have a banquet?
Nora. Yes, a champagne banquet until the small hours.
(Calls out.) And a few macaroons, Helen—lots, just for
once!
Helmer. Come, come, don’t be so wild and nervous. Be
my own little skylark, as you used.
Nora. Yes, dear, I will. But go in now and you too, Doctor
Rank. Christine, you must help me to do up my hair.
Rank (whispers to HELMER as they go out). I suppose
there is nothing—she is not expecting anything?
Helmer. Far from it, my dear fellow; it is simply nothing
more than this childish nervousness I was telling you of.
(They go into the right-hand room.)
Nora. Well!
Mrs. Linde. Gone out of town.
Nora. I could tell from your face.
Mrs. Linde. He is coming home tomorrow evening. I wrote
a note for him.
Nora. You should have let it alone; you must prevent
nothing. After all, it is splendid to be waiting for a wonderful
thing to happen.
Mrs. Linde. What is it that you are waiting for?
Nora. Oh, you wouldn’t understand. Go in to them, I will
come in a moment. (Mrs. LINDE goes into the diningroom.
NORA stands still for a little while, as if to compose
herself. Then she looks at her watch.) Five o’clock.
Seven hours until midnight; and then four-and-twenty
hours until the next midnight. Then the Tarantella will be
over. Twenty-four and seven? Thirty-one hours to live.
Helmer (from the doorway on the right). Where’s my little
skylark?
Nora (going to him with her arms outstretched). Here she
is!
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Act III


(The same scene.—The table has been placed in the
middle of the stage, with chairs around it. A lamp is burning
on the table. The door into the hall stands open.
Dance music is heard in the room above. Mrs. LINDE is
sitting at the table idly turning over the leaves of a book;
she tries to read, but does not seem able to collect her
thoughts. Every now and then she listens intently for a
sound at the outer door.)
Mrs. Linde (looking at her watch). Not yet—and the time
is nearly up. If only he does not—. (Listens again.) Ah,
there he is. (Goes into the hall and opens the outer door
carefully. Light footsteps are heard on the stairs. She whispers.)
Come in. There is no one here.
Krogstad (in the doorway). I found a note from you at
home. What does this mean?
Mrs. Linde. It is absolutely necessary that I should have
a talk with you.
Krogstad. Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it
should be here?
Mrs. Linde. It is impossible where I live; there is no private
entrance to my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone.
The maid is asleep, and the Helmers are at the dance
upstairs.
Krogstad (coming into the room). Are the Helmers really
at a dance tonight?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, why not?
Krogstad. Certainly—why not?
Mrs. Linde. Now, Nils, let us have a talk.
Krogstad. Can we two have anything to talk about?
Mrs. Linde. We have a great deal to talk about.
Krogstad. I shouldn’t have thought so.
Mrs. Linde. No, you have never properly understood me.
Krogstad. Was there anything else to understand except
what was obvious to all the world—a heartless woman
jilts a man when a more lucrative chance turns up?
Mrs. Linde. Do you believe I am as absolutely heartless as
all that? And do you believe that I did it with a light
heart?
Krogstad. Didn’t you?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, did you really think that?
Krogstad. If it were as you say, why did you write to me
as you did at the time?
Mrs. Linde. I could do nothing else. As I had to break
with you, it was my duty also to put an end to all that
you felt for me.
Krogstad (wringing his hands). So that was it. And all
this—only for the sake of money!
Mrs. Linde. You must not forget that I had a helpless
mother and two little brothers. We couldn’t wait for you,
Nils; your prospects seemed hopeless then.
Krogstad. That may be so, but you had no right to throw
me over for anyone else’s sake.
Mrs. Linde. Indeed I don’t know. Many a time did I ask
myself if I had the right to do it.
Krogstad (more gently). When I lost you, it was as if all
the solid ground went from under my feet. Look at me
now—I am a shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreckage.
Mrs. Linde. But help may be near.
Krogstad. It was near; but then you came and stood in
my way.
Mrs. Linde. Unintentionally, Nils. It was only today that I
learned it was your place I was going to take in the Bank.
Krogstad. I believe you, if you say so. But now that you
know it, are you not going to give it up to me?
Mrs. Linde. No, because that would not benefit you in
the least.
Krogstad. Oh, benefit, benefit—I would have done it
whether or no.
Mrs. Linde. I have learned to act prudently. Life, and
hard, bitter necessity have taught me that.
Krogstad. And life has taught me not to believe in fine
speeches.
Mrs. Linde. Then life has taught you something very reasonable.
But deeds you must believe in?
Krogstad. What do you mean by that?
Mrs. Linde. You said you were like a shipwrecked man
clinging to some wreckage.
Krogstad. I had good reason to say so.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging
to some wreckage—no one to mourn for, no one to care
for.
Krogstad. It was your own choice.
Mrs. Linde. There was no other choice—then.
Krogstad. Well, what now?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, how would it be if we two shipwrecked
people could join forces?
Krogstad. What are you saying?
Mrs. Linde. Two on the same piece of wreckage would
stand a better chance than each on their own.
Krogstad. Christine I…
Mrs. Linde. What do you suppose brought me to town?
Krogstad. Do you mean that you gave me a thought?
Mrs. Linde. I could not endure life without work. All my
life, as long as I can remember, I have worked, and it has
been my greatest and only pleasure. But now I am quite
alone in the world—my life is so dreadfully empty and I
feel so forsaken. There is not the least pleasure in working
for one’s self. Nils, give me someone and something to
work for.
Krogstad. I don’t trust that. It is nothing but a woman’s
overstrained sense of generosity that prompts you to make
such an offer of yourself.
Mrs. Linde. Have you ever noticed anything of the sort in
me?
Krogstad. Could you really do it? Tell me—do you know
all about my past life?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Krogstad. And do you know what they think of me here?
Mrs. Linde. You seemed to me to imply that with me you
might have been quite another man.
Krogstad. I am certain of it.
Mrs. Linde. Is it too late now?
Krogstad. Christine, are you saying this deliberately? Yes,
I am sure you are. I see it in your face. Have you really the
courage, then—?
Mrs. Linde. I want to be a mother to someone, and your
children need a mother. We two need each other. Nils, I
have faith in your real character—I can dare anything
together with you.
Krogstad (grasps her hands). Thanks, thanks, Christine!
Now I shall find a way to clear myself in the eyes of the
world. Ah, but I forgot—
Mrs. Linde (listening). Hush! The Tarantella! Go, go!
Krogstad. Why? What is it?
Mrs. Linde. Do you hear them up there? When that is
over, we may expect them back.
Krogstad. Yes, yes—I will go. But it is all no use. Of
course you are not aware what steps I have taken in the
matter of the Helmers.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I know all about that.
Krogstad. And in spite of that have you the courage to—?
Mrs. Linde. I understand very well to what lengths a man
like you might be driven by despair.
Krogstad. If I could only undo what I have done!
Mrs. Linde. You cannot. Your letter is lying in the letterbox
now.
Krogstad. Are you sure of that?
Mrs. Linde. Quite sure, but—
Krogstad (with a searching look at her). Is that what it
all means?—that you want to save your friend at any
cost? Tell me frankly. Is that it?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, a woman who has once sold herself for
another’s sake, doesn’t do it a second time.
Krogstad. I will ask for my letter back.
Mrs. Linde. No, no.
Krogstad. Yes, of course I will. I will wait here until Helmer
comes; I will tell him he must give me my letter back—that
it only concerns my dismissal—that he is not to read it—
Mrs. Linde. No, Nils, you must not recall your letter.
Krogstad. But, tell me, wasn’t it for that very purpose
that you asked me to meet you here?
Mrs. Linde. In my first moment of fright, it was. But
twenty-four hours have elapsed since then, and in that
time I have witnessed incredible things in this house.
Helmer must know all about it. This unhappy secret must
be disclosed; they must have a complete understanding
between them, which is impossible with all this concealment
and falsehood going on.
Krogstad. Very well, if you will take the responsibility.
But there is one thing I can do in any case, and I shall do
it at once.
Mrs. Linde (listening). You must be quick and go! The
dance is over; we are not safe a moment longer.
Krogstad. I will wait for you below.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, do. You must see me back to my door...
Krogstad. I have never had such an amazing piece of good
fortune in my life! (Goes out through the outer door. The
door between the room and the hall remains open.)
Mrs. Linde (tidying up the room and laying her hat and
cloak ready). What a difference! what a difference! Someone
to work for and live for—a home to bring comfort
into. That I will do, indeed. I wish they would be quick and
come—(Listens.) Ah, there they are now. I must put on my
things. (Takes up her hat and cloak. HELMER’S and NORA’S
voices are heard outside; a key is turned, and HELMER brings
NORA almost by force into the hall. She is in an Italian
costume with a large black shawl around her; he is in evening
dress, and a black domino which is flying open.)
Nora (hanging back in the doorway, and struggling with
him). No, no, no!—don’t take me in. I want to go upstairs
again; I don’t want to leave so early.
Helmer. But, my dearest Nora—
Nora. Please, Torvald dear—please, please—only an hour
more.
Helmer. Not a single minute, my sweet Nora. You know
that was our agreement. Come along into the room; you
are catching cold standing there. (He brings her gently
into the room, in spite of her resistance.)
Mrs. Linde. Good evening.
Nora. Christine!
Helmer. You here, so late, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, you must excuse me; I was so anxious to
see Nora in her dress.
Nora. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, unfortunately I came too late, you had
already gone upstairs; and I thought I couldn’t go away
again without having seen you.
Helmer (taking off NORA’S shawl). Yes, take a good look
at her. I think she is worth looking at. Isn’t she charming,
Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, indeed she is.
Helmer. Doesn’t she look remarkably pretty? Everyone
thought so at the dance. But she is terribly self-willed,
this sweet little person. What are we to do with her? You
will hardly believe that I had almost to bring her away by
force.
Nora. Torvald, you will repent not having let me stay,
even if it were only for half an hour.
Helmer. Listen to her, Mrs. Linde! She had danced her
Tarantella, and it had been a tremendous success, as it
deserved—although possibly the performance was a trifle
too realistic—a little more so, I mean, than was strictly
compatible with the limitations of art. But never mind
about that! The chief thing is, she had made a success—
she had made a tremendous success. Do you think I was
going to let her remain there after that, and spoil the
effect? No, indeed! I took my charming little Capri
maiden—my capricious little Capri maiden, I should say—
on my arm; took one quick turn round the room; a curtsey
on either side, and, as they say in novels, the beautiful
apparition disappeared. An exit ought always to be
effective, Mrs. Linde; but that is what I cannot make Nora
understand. Pooh! this room is hot. (Throws his domino
on a chair, and opens the door of his room.) Hullo! it’s all
dark in here. Oh, of course—excuse me—. (He goes in,
and lights some candles.)
Nora (in a hurried and breathless whisper). Well?
Mrs. Linde (in a low voice). I have had a talk with him.
Nora. Yes, and—
Mrs. Linde. Nora, you must tell your husband all about
it.
Nora (in an expressionless voice). I knew it.
Mrs. Linde. You have nothing to be afraid of as far as
Krogstad is concerned; but you must tell him.
Nora. I won’t tell him.
Mrs. Linde. Then the letter will.
Nora. Thank you, Christine. Now I know what I must do.
Hush—!
Helmer (coming in again). Well, Mrs. Linde, have you
admired her?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and now I will say goodnight.
Helmer. What, already? Is this yours, this knitting?
Mrs. Linde (taking it). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly
forgotten it.
Helmer. So you knit?
Mrs. Linde. Of course.
Helmer. Do you know, you ought to embroider.
Mrs. Linde. Really? Why?
Helmer. Yes, it’s far more becoming. Let me show you.
You hold the embroidery thus in your left hand, and use
the needle with the right—like this—with a long, easy
sweep. Do you see?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, perhaps—
Helmer. But in the case of knitting—that can never be
anything but ungraceful; look here—the arms close together,
the knitting-needles going up and down—it has a
sort of Chinese effect—. That was really excellent champagne
they gave us.
Mrs. Linde. Well,—goodnight, Nora, and don’t be selfwilled
any more.
Helmer. That’s right, Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde. Goodnight, Mr. Helmer.
Helmer (accompanying her to the door). Goodnight,
goodnight. I hope you will get home all right. I should be
very happy to—but you haven’t any great distance to go.
Goodnight, goodnight. (She goes out; he shuts the door
after her, and comes in again.) Ah!—at last we have got
rid of her. She is a frightful bore, that woman.
Nora. Aren’t you very tired, Torvald?
Helmer. No, not in the least.
Nora. Nor sleepy?
Helmer. Not a bit. On the contrary, I feel extraordinarily
lively. And you?—you really look both tired and sleepy.
Nora. Yes, I am very tired. I want to go to sleep at once.
Helmer. There, you see it was quite right of me not to let
you stay there any longer.
Nora. Everything you do is quite right, Torvald.
Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Now my little skylark
is speaking reasonably. Did you notice what good
spirits Rank was in this evening?
Nora. Really? Was he? I didn’t speak to him at all.
Helmer. And I very little, but I have not for a long time
seen him in such good form. (Looks for a while at her and
then goes nearer to her.) It is delightful to be at home by
ourselves again, to be all alone with you—you fascinating,
charming little darling!
Nora. Don’t look at me like that, Torvald.
Helmer. Why shouldn’t I look at my dearest treasure?—at
all the beauty that is mine, all my very own?
Nora (going to the other side of the table). You mustn’t
say things like that to me tonight.
Helmer (following her). You have still got the Tarantella
in your blood, I see. And it makes you more captivating
than ever. Listen—the guests are beginning to go now.
(In a lower voice.) Nora—soon the whole house will be
quiet.
Nora. Yes, I hope so.
Helmer. Yes, my own darling Nora. Do you know, when I
am out at a party with you like this, why I speak so little
to you, keep away from you, and only send a stolen glance
in your direction now and then?—do you know why I do
that? It is because I make believe to myself that we are
secretly in love, and you are my secretly promised bride,
and that no one suspects there is anything between us.
Nora. Yes, yes—I know very well your thoughts are with
me all the time.
Helmer. And when we are leaving, and I am putting the
shawl over your beautiful young shoulders—on your lovely
neck—then I imagine that you are my young bride and
that we have just come from the wedding, and I am bringing
you for the first time into our home—to be alone
with you for the first time—quite alone with my shy little
darling! All this evening I have longed for nothing but
you. When I watched the seductive figures of the Tarantella,
my blood was on fire; I could endure it no longer,
and that was why I brought you down so early—
Nora. Go away, Torvald! You must let me go. I won’t—
Helmer. What’s that? You’re joking, my little Nora! You
won’t—you won’t? Am I not your husband—? (A knock is
heard at the outer door.)
Nora (starting). Did you hear—?
Helmer (going into the hall). Who is it?
Rank (outside). It is I. May I come in for a moment?
Helmer (in a fretful whisper). Oh, what does he want
now? (Aloud.) Wait a minute! (Unlocks the door.) Come,
that’s kind of you not to pass by our door.
Rank. I thought I heard your voice, and felt as if I should
like to look in. (With a swift glance round.) Ah, yes!—
these dear familiar rooms. You are very happy and cosy in
here, you two.
Helmer. It seems to me that you looked after yourself
pretty well upstairs too.
Rank. Excellently. Why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t one
enjoy everything in this world?—at any rate as much as
one can, and as long as one can. The wine was capital—
Helmer. Especially the champagne.
Rank. So you noticed that too? It is almost incredible
how much I managed to put away!
Nora. Torvald drank a great deal of champagne tonight
too.
Rank. Did he?
Nora. Yes, and he is always in such good spirits afterwards.
Rank. Well, why should one not enjoy a merry evening
after a well-spent day?
Helmer. Well spent? I am afraid I can’t take credit for
that.
Rank (clapping him on the back). But I can, you know!
Nora. Doctor Rank, you must have been occupied with
some scientific investigation today.
Rank. Exactly.
Helmer. Just listen!—little Nora talking about scientific
investigations!
Nora. And may I congratulate you on the result?
Rank. Indeed you may.
Nora. Was it favourable, then?
Rank. The best possible, for both doctor and patient—
certainty.
Nora (quickly and searchingly). Certainty?
Rank. Absolute certainty. So wasn’t I entitled to make a
merry evening of it after that?
Nora. Yes, you certainly were, Doctor Rank. Helmer. I
think so too, so long as you don’t have to pay for it in the
morning.
Rank. Oh well, one can’t have anything in this life without
paying for it.
Nora. Doctor Rank—are you fond of fancy-dress balls?
Rank. Yes, if there is a fine lot of pretty costumes.
Nora. Tell me—what shall we two wear at the next?
Helmer. Little featherbrain!—are you thinking of the next
already?
Rank. We two? Yes, I can tell you. You shall go as a
good fairy—
Helmer. Yes, but what do you suggest as an appropriate
costume for that?
Rank. Let your wife go dressed just as she is in everyday
life.
Helmer. That was really very prettily turned. But can’t
you tell us what you will be?
Rank. Yes, my dear friend, I have quite made up my mind
about that.
Helmer. Well?
Rank. At the next fancy-dress ball I shall be invisible.
Helmer. That’s a good joke!
Rank. There is a big black hat—have you never heard of
hats that make you invisible? If you put one on, no one
can see you.
Helmer (suppressing a smile). Yes, you are quite right.
Rank. But I am clean forgetting what I came for. Helmer,
give me a cigar—one of the dark Havanas.
Helmer. With the greatest pleasure. (Offers him his case.)
Rank (takes a cigar and cuts off the end). Thanks.
Nora (striking a match). Let me give you a light.
Rank. Thank you. (She holds the match for him to light
his cigar.) And now goodbye!
Helmer. Goodbye, goodbye, dear old man!
Nora. Sleep well, Doctor Rank.
Rank. Thank you for that wish.
Nora. Wish me the same.
Rank. You? Well, if you want me to sleep well! And thanks
for the light. (He nods to them both and goes out.)
Helmer (in a subdued voice). He has drunk more than he
ought.
Nora (absently). Maybe. (HELMER takes a bunch of keys
out of his pocket and goes into the hall.) Torvald! what
are you going to do there?
Helmer. Emptying the letter-box; it is quite full; there
will be no room to put the newspaper in tomorrow morning.
Nora. Are you going to work tonight?
Helmer. You know quite well I’m not. What is this? Someone
has been at the lock.
Nora. At the lock—?
Helmer. Yes, someone has. What can it mean? I should
never have thought the maid—. Here is a broken hairpin.
Nora, it is one of yours.
Nora (quickly). Then it must have been the children—
Helmer. Then you must get them out of those ways. There,
at last I have got it open. (Takes out the contents of the
letter-box, and calls to the kitchen.) Helen!—Helen, put
out the light over the front door. (Goes back into the
room and shuts the door into the hall. He holds out his
hand full of letters.) Look at that—look what a heap of
them there are. (Turning them over.) What on earth is
that?
Nora (at the window). The letter—No! Torvald, no!
Helmer. Two cards—of Rank’s.
Nora. Of Doctor Rank’s?
Helmer (looking at them). Doctor Rank. They were on
the top. He must have put them in when he went out.
Nora. Is there anything written on them?
Helmer. There is a black cross over the name. Look there—
what an uncomfortable idea! It looks as if he were announcing
his own death.
Nora. It is just what he is doing.
Helmer. What? Do you know anything about it? Has he
said anything to you?
Nora. Yes. He told me that when the cards came it would
be his leave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up
and die.
Helmer. My poor old friend! Certainly I knew we should
not have him very long with us. But so soon! And so he
hides himself away like a wounded animal.
Nora. If it has to happen, it is best it should be without
a word—don’t you think so, Torvald?
Helmer (walking up and down). He had so grown into our
lives. I can’t think of him as having gone out of them. He,
with his sufferings and his loneliness, was like a cloudy
background to our sunlit happiness. Well, perhaps it is
best so. For him, anyway. (Standing still.) And perhaps
for us too, Nora. We two are thrown quite upon each
other now. (Puts his arms round her.) My darling wife, I
don’t feel as if I could hold you tight enough. Do you
know, Nora, I have often wished that you might be threatened
by some great danger, so that I might risk my life’s
blood, and everything, for your sake.
Nora (disengages herself, and says firmly and decidedly).
Now you must read your letters, Torvald.
Helmer. No, no; not tonight. I want to be with you, my
darling wife.
Nora. With the thought of your friend’s death—
Helmer. You are right, it has affected us both. Something
ugly has come between us—the thought of the horrors of
death. We must try and rid our minds of that. Until then—
we will each go to our own room.
Nora (hanging on his neck). Goodnight, Torvald—
Goodnight!
Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Goodnight, my little
singing-bird. Sleep sound, Nora. Now I will read my letters
through. (He takes his letters and goes into his room,
shutting the door after him.)
Nora (gropes distractedly about, seizes HELMER’S domino,
throws it round her, while she says in quick, hoarse, spasmodic
whispers). Never to see him again. Never! Never!
(Puts her shawl over her head.) Never to see my children
again either—never again. Never! Never!—Ah! the icy,
black water—the unfathomable depths—If only it were
over! He has got it now—now he is reading it. Goodbye,
Torvald and my children! (She is about to rush out through
the hall, when HELMER opens his door hurriedly and stands
with an open letter in his hand.)
Helmer. Nora!
Nora. Ah!—Helmer. What is this? Do you know what is in
this letter?
Nora. Yes, I know. Let me go! Let me get out!
Helmer (holding her back). Where are you going?
Nora (trying to get free). You shan’t save me, Torvald!
Helmer (reeling). True? Is this true, that I read here?
Horrible! No, no—it is impossible that it can be true.
Nora. It is true. I have loved you above everything else in
the world.
Helmer. Oh, don’t let us have any silly excuses.
Nora (taking a step towards him). Torvald—!
Helmer. Miserable creature—what have you done?
Nora. Let me go. You shall not suffer for my sake. You
shall not take it upon yourself.
Helmer. No tragic airs, please. (Locks the hall door.) Here
you shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand
what you have done? Answer me! Do you understand
what you have done?
Nora (looks steadily at him and says with a growing look
of coldness in her face). Yes, now I am beginning to understand
thoroughly.
Helmer (walking about the room). What a horrible awak
ening! All these eight years—she who was my joy and
pride—a hypocrite, a liar—worse, worse—a criminal! The
unutterable ugliness of it all!—For shame! For shame!
(NORA is silent and looks steadily at him. He stops in
front of her.) I ought to have suspected that something
of the sort would happen. I ought to have foreseen it. All
your father’s want of principle—be silent!—all your father’s
want of principle has come out in you. No religion, no
morality, no sense of duty—. How I am punished for having
winked at what he did! I did it for your sake, and this
is how you repay me.
Nora. Yes, that’s just it.
Helmer. Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You
have ruined all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am
in the power of an unscrupulous man; he can do what he
likes with me, ask anything he likes of me, give me any
orders he pleases—I dare not refuse. And I must sink to
such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman!
Nora. When I am out of the way, you will be free.
Helmer. No fine speeches, please. Your father had always
plenty of those ready, too. What good would it be to me
if you were out of the way, as you say? Not the slightest.
He can make the affair known everywhere; and if he does,
I may be falsely suspected of having been a party to your
criminal action. Very likely people will think I was behind
it all—that it was I who prompted you! And I have to
thank you for all this—you whom I have cherished during
the whole of our married life. Do you understand now
what it is you have done for me?
Nora (coldly and quietly). Yes.
Helmer. It is so incredible that I can’t take it in. But we
must come to some understanding. Take off that shawl.
Take it off, I tell you. I must try and appease him some
way or another. The matter must be hushed up at any
cost. And as for you and me, it must appear as if everything
between us were just as before— but naturally only
in the eyes of the world. You will still remain in my house,
that is a matter of course. But I shall not allow you to
bring up the children; I dare not trust them to you. To
think that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I
have loved so dearly, and whom I still—. No, that is all
over. From this moment happiness is not the question; all
that concerns us is to save the remains, the fragments,
the appearance—
(A ring is heard at the front-door bell.)
Helmer (with a start). What is that? So late! Can the
worst—? Can he—? Hide yourself, Nora. Say you are ill.
(NORA stands motionless. HELMER goes and unlocks the
hall door.)
Maid (half-dressed, comes to the door). A letter for the
mistress.
Helmer. Give it to me. (Takes the letter, and shuts the
door.) Yes, it is from him. You shall not have it; I will read
it myself.
Nora. Yes, read it.
Helmer (standing by the lamp). I scarcely have the courage
to do it. It may mean ruin for both of us. No, I must
know. (Tears open the letter, runs his eye over a few lines,
looks at a paper enclosed, and gives a shout of joy.) Nora!
(She looks at him questioningly.) Nora!—No, I must read
it once again—. Yes, it is true! I am saved! Nora, I am
saved!
Nora. And I?
Helmer. You too, of course; we are both saved, both you
and I. Look, he sends you your bond back. He says he
regrets and repents—that a happy change in his life—
never mind what he says! We are saved, Nora! No one can
do anything to you. Oh, Nora, Nora!—no, first I must
destroy these hateful things. Let me see—. (Takes a look
at the bond.) No, no, I won’t look at it. The whole thing
shall be nothing but a bad dream to me. (Tears up the
bond and both letters, throws them all into the stove,
and watches them burn.) There—now it doesn’t exist any
longer. He says that since Christmas Eve you—. These
must have been three dreadful days for you, Nora.
Nora. I have fought a hard fight these three days.
Helmer. And suffered agonies, and seen no way out but—.
No, we won’t call any of the horrors to mind. We will only
shout with joy, and keep saying, “It’s all over! It’s all
over!” Listen to me, Nora. You don’t seem to realise that
it is all over. What is this?—such a cold, set face! My poor
little Nora, I quite understand; you don’t feel as if you
could believe that I have forgiven you. But it is true,
Nora, I swear it; I have forgiven you everything. I know
that what you did, you did out of love for me.
Nora. That is true.
Helmer. You have loved me as a wife ought to love her
husband. Only you had not sufficient knowledge to judge
of the means you used. But do you suppose you are any
the less dear to me, because you don’t understand how to
act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean on me;
I will advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if
this womanly helplessness did not just give you a double
attractiveness in my eyes. You must not think anymore
about the hard things I said in my first moment of consternation,
when I thought everything was going to overwhelm
me. I have forgiven you, Nora; I swear to you I
have forgiven you.
Nora. Thank you for your forgiveness. (She goes out
through the door to the right.)
Helmer. No, don’t go—. (Looks in.) What are you doing
in there?
Nora (from within). Taking off my fancy dress.
Helmer (standing at the open door). Yes, do. Try and
calm yourself, and make your mind easy again, my frightened
little singing-bird. Be at rest, and feel secure; I have
broad wings to shelter you under. (Walks up and down by
the door.) How warm and cosy our home is, Nora. Here is
shelter for you; here I will protect you like a hunted dove
that I have saved from a hawk’s claws; I will bring peace
to your poor beating heart. It will come, little by little,
Nora, believe me. Tomorrow morning you will look upon it
all quite differently; soon everything will be just as it was
before. Very soon you won’t need me to assure you that I
have forgiven you; you will yourself feel the certainty
that I have done so. Can you suppose I should ever think
of such a thing as repudiating you, or even reproaching
you? You have no idea what a true man’s heart is like,
Nora. There is something so indescribably sweet and satisfying,
to a man, in the knowledge that he has forgiven his
wife—forgiven her freely, and with all his heart. It seems
as if that had made her, as it were, doubly his own; he has
given her a new life, so to speak; and she has in a way
become both wife and child to him. So you shall be for
me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Have no
anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open
with me, and I will serve as will and conscience both to
you—. What is this? Not gone to bed? Have you changed
your things?
Nora (in everyday dress). Yes, Torvald, I have changed my
things now.
Helmer. But what for?—so late as this.
Nora. I shall not sleep tonight.
Helmer. But, my dear Nora—
Nora (looking at her watch). It is not so very late. Sit
down here, Torvald. You and I have much to say to one
another. (She sits down at one side of the table.)
Helmer. Nora—what is this?—this cold, set face? Nora.
Sit down. It will take some time; I have a lot to talk over
with you.
Helmer (sits down at the opposite side of the table). You
alarm me, Nora!—and I don’t understand you.
Nora. No, that is just it. You don’t understand me, and I
have never understood you either—before tonight. No,
you mustn’t interrupt me. You must simply listen to what
I say. Torvald, this is a settling of accounts.
Helmer. What do you mean by that?
Nora (after a short silence). Isn’t there one thing that
strikes you as strange in our sitting here like this?
Helmer. What is that?
Nora. We have been married now eight years. Does it not
occur to you that this is the first time we two, you and I,
husband and wife, have had a serious conversation?
Helmer. What do you mean by serious?
Nora. In all these eight years—longer than that—from
the very beginning of our acquaintance, we have never
exchanged a word on any serious subject.
Helmer. Was it likely that I would be continually and
forever telling you about worries that you could not help
me to bear?
Nora. I am not speaking about business matters. I say
that we have never sat down in earnest together to try
and get at the bottom of anything.
Helmer. But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good
to you?
Nora. That is just it; you have never understood me. I
have been greatly wronged, Torvald—first by papa and
then by you.
Helmer. What! By us two—by us two, who have loved
you better than anyone else in the world?
Nora (shaking her head). You have never loved me. You
have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me.
Helmer. Nora, what do I hear you saying?
Nora. It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home
with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and
so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I
concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.
He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as
I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to live
with you—
Helmer. What sort of an expression is that to use about
our marriage?
Nora (undisturbed). I mean that I was simply transferred
from papa’s hands into yours. You arranged everything
according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes
as your else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure
which—I think sometimes the one and sometimes the
other. When I look back on it, it seems to me as if I had
been living here like a poor woman—just from hand to
mouth. I have existed merely to perform tricks for you,
Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa have
committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I
have made nothing of my life.
Helmer. How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are,
Nora! Have you not been happy here?
Nora. No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but
it has never really been so.
Helmer. Not—not happy!
Nora. No, only merry. And you have always been so kind
to me. But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I
have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s
doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls. I
thought it great fun when you played with me, just as
they thought it great fun when I played with them. That
is what our marriage has been, Torvald.
Helmer. There is some truth in what you say—exaggerated
and strained as your view of it is. But for the future
it shall be different. Playtime shall be over, and lessontime
shall begin.
Nora. Whose lessons? Mine, or the children’s?
Helmer. Both yours and the children’s, my darling Nora.
Nora. Alas, Torvald, you are not the man to educate me
into being a proper wife for you.
Helmer. And you can say that!
Nora. And I—how am I fitted to bring up the children?
Helmer. Nora!
Nora. Didn’t you say so yourself a little while ago— that
you dare not trust me to bring them up?
Helmer. In a moment of anger! Why do you pay any heed
to that?
Nora. Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am not fit for
the task. There is another task I must undertake first. I
must try and educate myself—you are not the man to
help me in that. I must do that for myself. And that is
why I am going to leave you now.
Helmer (springing up). What do you say?
Nora. I must stand quite alone, if I am to understand
myself and everything about me. It is for that reason that
I cannot remain with you any longer.
Helmer. Nora, Nora!
Nora. I am going away from here now, at once. I am sure
Christine will take me in for the night—
Helmer. You are out of your mind! I won’t allow it! I
forbid you!
Nora. It is no use forbidding me anything any longer. I
will take with me what belongs to myself. I will take
nothing from you, either now or later.
Helmer. What sort of madness is this!
Nora. Tomorrow I shall go home— I mean, to my old
home. It will be easiest for me to find something to do
there.
Helmer. You blind, foolish woman!
Nora. I must try and get some sense, Torvald.
Helmer. To desert your home, your husband and your
children! And you don’t consider what people will say!
Nora. I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is
necessary for me.
Helmer. It’s shocking. This is how you would neglect your
most sacred duties.
Nora. What do you consider my most sacred duties?
Helmer. Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your
duties to your husband and your children?
Nora. I have other duties just as sacred.
Helmer. That you have not. What duties could those be?
Nora. Duties to myself.
Helmer. Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.
Nora. I don’t believe that any longer. I believe that before
all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you
are— or, at all events, that I must try and become one. I
know quite well, Torvald, that most people would think
you right, and that views of that kind are to be found in
books; but I can no longer content myself with what
most people say, or with what is found in books. I must
think over things for myself and get to understand them.
Helmer. Can you not understand your place in your own
home? Have you not a reliable guide in such matters as
that?—have you no religion?
Nora. I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what
religion is.
Helmer. What are you saying?
Nora. I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when
I went to be confirmed. He told us that religion was this,
and that, and the other. When I am away from all this,
and am alone, I will look into that matter too. I will see
if what the clergyman said is true, or at all events if it is
true for me.
Helmer. This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if
religion cannot lead you aright, let me try and awaken
your conscience. I suppose you have some moral sense?
Or— answer me— am I to think you have none?
Nora. I assure you, Torvald, that is not an easy question
to answer. I really don’t know. The thing perplexes me
altogether. I only know that you and I look at it in quite
a different light. I am learning, too, that the law is quite
another thing from what I supposed; but I find it impossible
to convince myself that the law is right. According
to it a woman has no right to spare her old dying father,
or to save her husband’s life. I can’t believe that.
Helmer. You talk like a child. You don’t understand the
conditions of the world in which you live.
Nora. No, I don’t. But now I am going to try. I am going
to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I.
Helmer. You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think
you are out of your mind.
Nora. I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as
tonight.
Helmer. And is it with a clear and certain mind that you
forsake your husband and your children?
Nora. Yes, it is.
Helmer. Then there is only one possible explanation.
Nora. What is that?
Helmer. You do not love me anymore.
Nora. No, that is just it.
Helmer. Nora!—and you can say that?
Nora. It gives me great pain, Torvald, for you have always
been so kind to me, but I cannot help it. I do not love
you any more.
Helmer (regaining his composure). Is that a clear and
certain conviction too?
Nora. Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason
why I will not stay here any longer.
Helmer. And can you tell me what I have done to forfeit
your love?
Nora. Yes, indeed I can. It was tonight, when the wonderful
thing did not happen; then I saw you were not the
man I had thought you were.
Helmer. Explain yourself better. I don’t understand you.
Nora. I have waited so patiently for eight years; for, goodness
knows, I knew very well that wonderful things don’t
happen every day. Then this horrible misfortune came upon
me; and then I felt quite certain that the wonderful thing
was going to happen at last. When Krogstad’s letter was
lying out there, never for a moment did I imagine that
you would consent to accept this man’s conditions. I was
so absolutely certain that you would say to him: Publish
the thing to the whole world. And when that was done—
Helmer. Yes, what then?—when I had exposed my wife
to shame and disgrace?
Nora. When that was done, I was so absolutely certain,
you would come forward and take everything upon yourself,
and say: I am the guilty one.
Helmer. Nora—!
Nora. You mean that I would never have accepted such a
sacrifice on your part? No, of course not. But what would
my assurances have been worth against yours? That was
the wonderful thing which I hoped for and feared; and it
was to prevent that, that I wanted to kill myself.
Helmer. I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora—
bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would
sacrifice his honour for the one he loves.
Nora. It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have
done.
Helmer. Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child.
Nora. Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man
I could bind myself to. As soon as your fear was over—
and it was not fear for what threatened me, but for what
might happen to you—when the whole thing was past, as
far as you were concerned it was exactly as if nothing at
all had happened. Exactly as before, I was your little skylark,
your doll, which you would in future treat with doubly
gentle care, because it was so brittle and fragile. (Getting
up.) Torvald—it was then it dawned upon me that
for eight years I had been living here with a strange man,
and had borne him three children—. Oh, I can’t bear to
think of it! I could tear myself into little bits!
Helmer (sadly). I see, I see. An abyss has opened between
us—there is no denying it. But, Nora, would it not
be possible to fill it up?
Nora. As I am now, I am no wife for you.
Helmer. I have it in me to become a different man.
Nora. Perhaps— if your doll is taken away from you.
Helmer. But to part!—to part from you! No, no, Nora, I
can’t understand that idea.
Nora (going out to the right). That makes it all the more
certain that it must be done. (She comes back with her
cloak and hat and a small bag which she puts on a chair
by the table.)
Helmer. Nora, Nora, not now! Wait until tomorrow.
Nora (putting on her cloak). I cannot spend the night in
a strange man’s room.
Helmer. But can’t we live here like brother and sister—?
Nora (putting on her hat). You know very well that would
not last long. (Puts the shawl round her.) Goodbye, Torvald.
I won’t see the little ones. I know they are in better hands
than mine. As I am now, I can be of no use to them.
Helmer. But some day, Nora— some day?
Nora. How can I tell? I have no idea what is going to
become of me.
Helmer. But you are my wife, whatever becomes of you.
Nora. Listen, Torvald. I have heard that when a wife deserts
her husband’s house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed
from all obligations towards her. In any case, I set you
free from all your obligations. You are not to feel yourself
bound in the slightest way, any more than I shall. There
must be perfect freedom on both sides. See, here is your
ring back. Give me mine.
Helmer. That too?
Nora. That too.
Helmer. Here it is.
Nora. That’s right. Now it is all over. I have put the keys
here. The maids know all about everything in the house—
better than I do. Tomorrow, after I have left her, Christine
will come here and pack up my own things that I brought
with me from home. I will have them sent after me.
Helmer. All over! All over!—Nora, shall you never think
of me again?
Nora. I know I shall often think of you, the children, and
this house.
Helmer. May I write to you, Nora?
Nora. No—never. You must not do that.
Helmer. But at least let me send you—
Nora. Nothing—nothing—
Helmer. Let me help you if you are in want.
Nora. No. I can receive nothing from a stranger.
Helmer. Nora—can I never be anything more than a
stranger to you?
Nora (taking her bag). Ah, Torvald, the most wonderful
thing of all would have to happen.
Helmer. Tell me what that would be!
Nora. Both you and I would have to be so changed that—.
Oh, Torvald, I don’t believe any longer in wonderful things
happening.
Helmer. But I will believe in it. Tell me! So changed that—?
Nora. That our life together would be a real wedlock.
Goodbye. (She goes out through the hall.)
Helmer (sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his
face in his hands). Nora! Nora! (Looks round, and rises.)
Empty. She is gone. (A hope flashes across his mind.) The
most wonderful thing of all—?
(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)

The End
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The Lady from the Sea




Dramatis Personae

Doctor Wangel.
Ellida Wangel, his second wife.
Bolette, Hilde (not yet grown up), his daughters by his
first wife.
Arnholm (second master at a college).
Lyngstrand.
Ballested.
A Stranger.
Young People of the Town.
Tourists.
Visitors.
(The action takes place in small fjord town, Northern Norway.)


Act I


(SCENE.—DOCTOR WANGEL’S house, with a large verandah
garden in front of and around the house. Under the
verandah a flagstaff. In the garden an arbour, with table
and chairs. Hedge, with small gate at the back. Beyond, a
road along the seashore. An avenue of trees along the
road. Between the trees are seen the fjord, high mountain
ranges and peaks. A warm and brilliantly clear summer
morning.
BALLESTED, middle-aged, wearing an old velvet jacket,
and a broad-brimmed artist’s hat, stands under the flagstaff,
arranging the ropes. The flag is lying on the ground.
A little way from him is an easel, with an outspread canvas.
By the easel on a camp-stool, brushes, a palette, and
box of colours.
BOLETTE WANGEL comes from the room opening on the
verandah. She carries a large vase with flowers, which she
puts down on the table.)

Bolette. Well, Ballested, does it work smoothly?
Ballested. Certainly, Miss Bolette, that’s easy enough.
May I ask—do you expect any visitors today?
Bolette. Yes, we’re expecting Mr. Arnholm this morning.
He got to town in the night.
Ballested. Arnholm? Wait a minute—wasn’t Arnholm the
man who was tutor here several years ago?
Bolette. Yes, it is he.
Ballested. Oh, really! Is he coming into these parts again?
Bolette. That’s why we want to have the flag up.
Ballested. Well, that’s reasonable enough.
(BOLETTE goes into the room again. A little after
LYNGSTRAND enters from the road and stands still, interested
by the easel and painting gear. He is a slender youth,
poorly but carefully dressed, and looks delicate.)
Lyngstrand (on the other side of the hedge). Good-morning.
Ballested (turning round). Hallo! Good-morning. (Hoists
up flag). That’s it! Up goes the balloon. (Fastens the ropes,
and then busies himself about the easel.) Good-morning,
my dear sir. I really don’t think I’ve the pleasure of—
Lyngstrand. I’m sure you’re a painter.
Ballested. Of course I am. Why shouldn’t I be?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I can see you are. May I take the liberty
of coming in a moment?
Ballested. Would you like to come in and see?
Lyngstrand. I should like to immensely.
Ballested. Oh! there’s nothing much to see yet. But come
in. Come a little closer.
Lyngstrand. Many thanks. (Comes in through the garden
gate.)
Ballested (painting). It’s the fjord there between the islands
I’m working at.
Lyngstrand. So I see.
Ballested. But the figure is still wanting. There’s not a
model to be got in this town.
Lyngstrand. Is there to be a figure, too?
Ballested. Yes. Here by the rocks in the foreground a
mermaid is to lie, half-dead.
Lyngstrand. Why is she to be half-dead?
Ballested. She has wandered hither from the sea, and
can’t find her way out again. And so, you see, she lies
there dying in the brackish water.
Lyngstrand. Ah, I see.
Ballested. The mistress of this house put it into my head
to do something of the kind.
Lyngstrand. What shall you call the picture when it’s
finished?
Ballested. I think of calling it “The Mermaid’s End.”
Lyngstrand. That’s capital! You’re sure to make something
fine of it.
Ballested (looking at him). In the profession too, perhaps?
Lyngstrand. Do you mean a painter?
Ballested. Yes.
Lyngstrand. No, I’m not that; but I’m going to be a
sculptor. My name is Hans Lyngstrand.
Ballested. So you’re to be a sculptor? Yes, yes; the art of
sculpture is a nice, pretty art in its way. I fancy I’ve seen
you in the street once or twice. Have you been staying
here long?
Lyngstrand. No; I’ve only been here a fortnight. But I
shall try to stop till the end of the summer.
Ballested. For the bathing?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I wanted to see if I could get a little
stronger.
Ballested. Not delicate, surely?
Lyngstrand. Yes, perhaps I am a little delicate; but it’s
nothing dangerous. Just a little tightness on the chest.
Ballested. Tush!—a bagatelle! You should consult a good
doctor.
Lyngstrand. Yes, I thought of speaking to Doctor Wangel
one of these times.
Ballested. You should. (Looks out to the left.) There’s
another steamer, crowded with passengers. It’s really marvellous
how travelling has increased here of late years.
Lyngstrand. Yes, there’s a good deal of traffic here, I
think.
Ballested. And lots of summer visitors come here too. I
often hear our good town will lose its individuality with
all these foreign goings on.
Lyngstrand. Were you born in the town?
Ballested. No; but I have accla—acclimatised myself. I
feel united to the place by the bonds of time and habit.
Lyngstrand. Then you’ve lived here a long time?
Ballested. Well—about seventeen or eighteen years. I
came here with Skive’s Dramatic Company. But then we
got into difficulties, and so the company broke up and
dispersed in all directions.
Lyngstrand. But you yourself remained here?
Ballested. I remained, and I’ve done very well. I was then
working chiefly as decorative artist, don’t you know.
(BOLETTE comes out with a rocking-chair, which she places
on the verandah.)
Bolette (speaking into the room). Hilde, see if you can
find the embroidered footstool for father.
Lyngstrand (going up to the verandah, bows). Goodmorning,
Miss Wangel.
Bolette (by the balustrade). What! Is it you, Mr.
Lyngstrand? Good-morning. Excuse me one moment, I’m
only—(Goes into room.)
Ballested. Do you know the family?
Lyngstrand. Not well. I’ve only met the young ladies now
and again in company; and I had a chat with Mrs. Wangel
the last time we had music up at the “View.” She said I
might come and see them.
Ballested. Now, do you know, you ought to cultivate
their acquaintance.
Lyngstrand. Yes; I’d been thinking of paying a visit. Just
a sort of call. If only I could find some excuse—
Ballested. Excuse! Nonsense! (Looking out to the left.)
Damn it! (Gathering his things.) The steamer’s by the pier
already. I must get off to the hotel. Perhaps some of the
new arrivals may want me. For I’m a hairdresser, too, don’t
you know.
Lyngstrand. You are certainly very many-sided, sir.
Ballested. In small towns one has to try to acclam—
acclimatise Oneself in various branches. If you should require
anything in the hair line—a little pomatum or such
like—you’ve only to ask for Dancing-master Ballested.
Lyngstrand. Dancing master!
Ballested. President of the “Wind Band Society,” by your
leave. We’ve a concert on this evening up at the “View.”
Goodbye, goodbye!
(He goes out with his painting gear through the garden
gate.
HILDE comes out with the footstool. BOLETTE brings more
flowers. LYNGSTRAND bows to HILDE from the garden
below.)
Hilde (by the balustrade, not returning his bow). Bolette
said you had ventured in today.
Lyngstrand. Yes; I took the liberty of coming in for a
moment.
Hilde. Have you been out for a morning walk?
Lyngstrand. Oh, no! nothing came of the walk this morning.
Hilde. Have you been bathing, then?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I’ve been in the water a little while. I
saw your mother down there. She was going into her bathing-
machine.
Hilde. Who was?
Lyngstrand. Your mother.
Hilde. Oh! I see. (She puts the stool in front of the rocking-
chair.)
Bolette (interrupting). Didn’t you see anything of father’s
boat out on the fjord?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I thought I saw a sailing-boat that was
steering inland.
Bolette. I’m sure that was father. He’s been to visit patients
on the islands. (She is arranging things on the table.)
Lyngstrand (taking a step up the stairs to the verandah).
Why, how everything’s decorated here with flowers!
Bolette. Yes; doesn’t it look nice?
Lyngstrand. It looks lovely! It looks as if it were some
festival day in the house.
Hilde. That’s exactly what it is.
Lyngstrand. I might have guessed it! I’m sure it’s your
father’s birthday.
Bolette (warningly to HILDE). Hm—hm!
Hilde (taking no notice of her). No, mother’s.
Lyngstrand. Oh! Your mother’s!
Bolette (in low voice, angrily). Really, Hilde!
Hilde (the same). Let me be! (To LYNGSTRAND.) I suppose
you’re going home to breakfast now?
Lyngstrand (going down steps). Yes, I suppose I must
go and get something to eat.
Hilde. I’m sure you find the living very good at the hotel!
Lyngstrand. I’m not staying at the hotel now. It was too
expensive for me.
Hilde. Where are you staying, then?
Lyngstrand. I’m staying up at Mrs. Jensen’s.
Hilde. What Mrs. Jensen’s?
Lyngstrand. The midwife.
Hilde. Excuse me, Mr. Lyngstrand, but I really have other
matters to attend to
Lyngstrand. Oh! I’m sure I ought not to have said that.
Hilde. Said what?
Lyngstrand. What I said.
Hilde (looking contemptuously at him). I don’t understand
you in the least.
Lyngstrand. No, no. But I must say goodbye for the
present.
Bolette (comes forward to the steps). Good-bye, goodbye,
Mr. Lyngstrand. You must excuse us now. But another
day—when you’ve plenty of time—and inclination—
you really must come in and see father and the rest of us.
Lyngstrand. Yes; thanks, very much. I shall be delighted.
(Bows, and goes out through the garden gate. As he goes
along the road he bows again towards the verandah.)
Hilde (in low voice). Adieu, Monsieur! Please remember
me to Mother Jensen.
Bolette (in a low voice, shaking her arm). Hilde! You
naughty child! Are you quite crazy? He might have heard
you.
Hilde. Pshaw! Do you think I care about that?
Bolette (looking out to the right). Here’s father!
(WANGEL, in travelling dress and carrying a small bag,
comes from the footpath.)
Wangel. See! I’m back again, little girls! (He enters through
the garden gate.)
Bolette (going towards him at the bottom of the garden).
Oh! It is delightful that you’ve come!
Hilde (also going up to him). Now have you got off for
the whole day, father?
Wangel. Oh! no. I must go down to the office for a little
while presently. I say—do you know if Arnholm has come?
Bolette. Yes; he arrived in the night. We sent to the hotel
to enquire.
Wangel. Then you’ve not seen him yet?
Bolette. No; but he’s sure to come here this morning.
Wangel. Yes; he’s sure to do that.
Hilde (pulling him). Father, now you must look round.
Wangel (looking towards the verandah). Yes, I see well
enough, child. It’s quite festive.
Bolette. Now, don’t you think we’ve arranged it nicely?
Wangel. I must say you have. Are—are we alone at home
now?
Hilde. Yes; she’s gone to—
Bolette (interrupting quickly). Mother has gone to bathe.
Wangel (looks lovingly at BOLETTE, and pats her head.
Then he says, hesitating). Look here, little ones. Do you
want to keep this up all day? And the flag hoisted, too?
Hilde. Surely you understand that, father!
Wangel. Hm! Yes; but you see—
Bolette (looks at him and nods). Surely you can understand
we’ve been doing all this in honour of Mr. Arnholm.
When such a good friend comes to see you for the first
time—
Hilde (smiling, and shaking him). Think! he who used to
be Bolette’s tutor, father!
Wangel (with a half-smile). You’re a pair of sly minxes.
Well—good heavens—after all, it’s but natural we should
remember her who is no more with us. Here, Hilde (Gives
her his bag), take that down to the office. No, children. I
don’t like this—the way, I mean. This habit of every year—
well—what can one say? I suppose it can’t be managed
any other way.
Hilde (about to go out of garden, and, with the bag,
stops short, turns, and points out). Look at that gentleman
coming up here. I’m sure it’s your tutor.
Bolette (looks in that direction). He? (Laughs.) That is
good! Do you think that middle-aged fellow is Arnholm?
Wangel. Wait a moment, child. Why, by Jove, I do believe
it is he. Yes, it certainly is.
Bolette (staring at him in quiet amazement). Yes; I almost
think—
(ARNHOLM, in elegant morning dress, with gold spectacles,
and a thin cane, comes along the road. He looks
overworked. He looks in at the garden, bows in friendly
fashion, and enters by the garden gate.)
Wangel (going to meet him). Welcome, dear Arnholm!
Heartily welcome back to your old quarters again!
Arnholm. Thanks, thanks, Doctor Wangel. A thousand
thanks. (They shake hands and walk up the garden together.)
And there are the children! (Holds out his hands
and looks at them.) I should hardly have known these two
again.
Wangel. No, I believe you.
Arnholm. And yet—perhaps Bolette—yes, I should have
known Bolette again.
Wangel. Hardly, I think. Why, it is eight—nine years since
you saw her. Ah, yes! Many a thing has changed here
meanwhile.
Arnholm (looking round). I really don’t see it; except
that the trees have grown remarkably, and that you’ve set
up that arbour.
Wangel. Oh! no—outwardly.
Arnholm (smiling). And then, of course, you’ve two grownup
daughters here now.
Wangel. Grown up! Well, there’s only one grown up.
Hilde (aside). Just listen to father!
Wangel. But now let’s sit down up there on the verandah.
It’s cooler than here. Won’t you?
Arnholm. Thanks, thanks, dear doctor.
(They go up. WANGEL motions him to the rocking-chair.)
Wangel. That’s right! Now make yourself comfortable, and
rest, for you seem rather tired after your journey.
Arnholm. Oh, that’s nothing. Here, amid these surroundings-
Bolette (to WANGEL). Hadn’t we better have some soda
and syrup in the sitting-room? It’s sure to be too hot out
here soon.
Wangel. Yes, girls. Let’s have some soda and syrup, and
perhaps a drop of Cognac, too.
Bolette. Cognac, too!
Wangel. Just a little, in case anyone should like some.
Bolette. All right. Hilde, go down to the office with the
bag.
(BOLETTE goes into the room, and closes the door after
her.
(HILDE takes the bag, and goes through the garden to
the back of the house.)
Arnholm (who has followed BOLETTE with his eyes). What
a splendid—. They are both splendid girls, who’ve grown
up here for you.
Wangel (sitting down). Yes; you think so, too?
Arnholm. Why, it’s simply amazing, how Bolette!—and
Hilde, too! But now, you yourself, dear doctor. Do you
think of staying here all your life?
Wangel. Yes; I suppose so. Why, I’ve been born and bred
here, so to say. I lived here so very happily with—her who
left us so early—she whom you knew when you were here
before, Arnholm.
Arnholm. Yes, yes!
Wangel. And now I live here so happily with her who has
taken her place. Ah! On the whole, fate has been very
good to me.
Arnholm. You have no children by your second marriage?
Wangel. We had a little boy, two—two and a half years
ago. But he didn’t stay long. He died when he was four—
five months old.
Arnholm. Isn’t your wife at home today?
Wangel. Oh, yes. She’s sure to be here soon. She’s down
there bathing. She does so every blessed day no matter
what the weather.
Arnholm. Is she ill, then?
Wangel. Not exactly ill, although she has been extremely
nervous for the last few years—that is to say, she is now
and then. I can’t make out what really ails her. But to
plunge into the sea is her joy and delight.
Arnholm. Yes; I remember that of old.
Wangel (with an almost imperceptible smile). To be sure!
You knew Ellida when you were teacher out there at
Skjoldviken.
Arnholm. Certainly. She used often to visit at the Parsonage.
But I mostly met her when I went to the lighthouse
to see her father.
Wangel. Those times out there, you may believe me, have
set deep marks upon her. The people in the town here
can’t understand her at all. They call her the “Lady from
the Sea.”
Arnholm. Do they?
Wangel. Yes. And so—now, you see, speak to her of the
old days, dear Arnholm, it will do her good.
Arnholm (looks at him in doubt). Have you any reason
for thinking so?
Wangel. Assuredly I have.
Ellida (her voice is heard outside the garden). Are you
there, Wangel?
Wangel (rising). Yes, dear.
(Mrs. ELLIDA WANGEL, in a large, light wrap, and with
wet hair hanging loose over her shoulders, comes from
between the trees of the arbour. ARNHOLM rises.)
Wangel (smiling, and holding out his hands to her). Ah!
So now we have our Mermaid!
Ellida (goes quickly up the verandah, and seizes his hands).
Thank God that I see you again! When did you come?
Wangel. Just now; a little while since. (Pointing to
ARNHOLM.) But won’t you greet an old acquaintance?
Ellida (holding out her hand to ARNHOLM). So here you
are! Welcome! And forgive me for not being at home—
Arnholm. Don’t mention it—don’t stand on any ceremony.
Wangel. Was the water nice and fresh today?
Ellida. Fresh! Oh! The water here never is fresh. It is so
tepid and lifeless. Ugh! The water in the fjord here is sick.
Arnholm. Sick?
Ellida. Yes, sick. And I believe it makes one sick, too.
Wangel (smiling). You’re giving our bathing resort a good
name!
Arnholm. I should rather believe, Mrs. Wangel, that you
have a peculiar relation to the sea, and to all that belongs
to it.
Ellida. Perhaps; I almost think so myself. But do you see
how festively the girls have arranged everything in your
honour?
Wangel (embarrassed). Hm! (Looks at his watch.) Well, I
suppose I must be quick and—
Arnholm. Is it really for me?
Ellida. Yes. You may be sure we don’t decorate like this
every day. Ugh! How suffocatingly hot it is under this
roof. (Goes down into the garden.) Come over here. Here
at least there is a little air. (Sits down in arbour.)
Arnholm (going thither). I think the air quite fresh here.
Ellida. Yes, you—who are used to the stifling air of the
town! It’s terrible there in the summer, I hear.
Wangel (who has also gone into the garden). Hm, dear
Ellida, you must just entertain our friend alone for a little
while.
Ellida. Are you busy?
Wangel. Yes, I must go down to the office. And then I
must change. But I won’t be long.
Arnholm (sitting down in arbour). Now, don’t hurry, dear
doctor. Your wife and I will manage to kill the time.
Wangel (nodding). Oh, yes! I’m sure you will. Well,
goodbye for the present. (He goes out through the garden.)
Ellida (after a short pause). Don’t you think it’s pleasant
sitting out here?
Arnholm. I think I’ve a pleasant seat now.
Ellida. They call this my arbour, because I had it fitted
up, or rather Wangel did, for me.
Arnholm. And you usually sit here?
Ellida. Yes, I pass most of the day here.
Arnholm. With the girls, I suppose?
Ellida. No, the girls—usually sit on the verandah.
Arnholm. And Wangel himself?
Ellida. Oh! Wangel goes to and fro—now he comes to me,
and then he goes to his children.
Arnholm. And is it you who wish this?
Ellida. I think all parties feel most comfortable in this
way. You know we can talk across to one another—if we
happen to find there is anything to say.
Arnholm (after thinking awhile). When I last crossed your
path—out at Skjoldviken, I mean—Hm! That is long ago
now.
Ellida. It’s quite ten years since you were there with us.
Arnholm. Yes, about that. But when I think of you out
there in the lighthouse! The heathen, as the old clergyman
called you, because your father had named you, as
he said, after an old ship, and hadn’t given you a name fit
for a Christian.
Ellida. Well, what then?
Arnholm. The last thing I should then have believed was
that I should see you again down here as the wife of
Wangel.
Ellida. No; at that time Wangel wasn’t—at that time the
girls’ first mother was still living. Their real mother, so-
Arnholm. Of course, of course! But even if that had not
been-even if he had been free—still, I could never have
believed this would come about.
Ellida. Nor I. Never on earth—then.
Arnholm. Wangel is such a good fellow. So honourable.
So thoroughly good and kind to all men.
Ellida (warmly and heartily). Yes, he is indeed.
Arnholm. But he must be so absolutely different from
you, I fancy.
Ellida. You are right there. So he is.
Arnholm. Well, but how did it happen? How did it come
about?
Ellida. Ah! dear Arnholm, you mustn’t ask me about that.
I couldn’t explain it to you, and even if I could, you
would never be able to understand, in the least.
Arnholm. Hm! (In lower tone.) Have you ever confided
anything about me to your husband? Of course, I meant
about the useless step—I allowed myself to be moved to.
Ellida. No. You may be sure of that. I’ve not said a word
to him about—about what you speak of.
Arnholm. I am glad. I felt rather awkward at the thought
that—
Ellida. There was no need. I have only told him what is
true—that I liked you very much, and that you were the
truest and best friend I had out there.
Arnholm. Thanks for that. But tell me—why did you never
write to me after I had gone away?
Ellida. I thought that perhaps it would pain you to hear
from one who—who could not respond as you desired. It
seemed like re-opening a painful subject.
Arnholm. Hm. Yes, yes, perhaps you were right.
Ellida. But why didn’t you write?
Arnholm (looks at her and smiles, half reproachfully). I
make the first advance? Perhaps expose myself to the suspicion
of wanting to begin all over again? After such a
repulse as I had had?
Ellida. Oh no! I understand very well. Have you never
since thought of forming any other tie?
Arnholm. Never! I have been faithful to my first memories.
Ellida (half jestingly). Nonsense! Let the sad old memories
alone. You’d better think of becoming a happy husband,
I should say.
Arnholm. I should have to be quick about it, then, Mrs.
Wangel. Remember, I’m already—I’m ashamed to say—
I’m past thirty-seven.
Ellida. Well, all the more reason for being quick. (She is
silent for a moment, and then says, earnestly, in a low
voice.) But listen, dear Arnholm; now I am going to tell
you something that I could not have told you then, to
save my life.
Arnholm. What is it?
Ellida. When you took the—the useless step you were
just speaking of—I could not answer you otherwise than
I did.
Arnholm. I know that you had nothing but friendship to
give me; I know that well enough.
Ellida. But you did not know that all my mind and soul
were then given elsewhere.
Arnholm. At that time!
Ellida. Yes.
Arnholm. But it is impossible. You are mistaken about
the time. I hardly think you knew Wangel then.
Ellida. It is not Wangel of whom I speak.
Arnholm. Not Wangel? But at that time, out there at
Skjoldviken—I can’t remember a single person whom I
can imagine the possibility of your caring for.
Ellida. No, no, I quite believe that; for it was all such
bewildering madness—all of it.
Arnholm. But tell me more of this.
Ellida. Oh! it’s enough if you know I was bound then; and
you know it now.
Arnholm. And if you had not been bound?
Ellida. Well?
Arnholm. Would your answer to my letter have been different?
Ellida. How can I tell? When Wangel came the answer was
different.
Arnholm. What is your object, then, in telling me that
you were bound?
Ellida (getting up, as if in fear and unrest). Because I
must have someone in whom to confide. No, no; sit still.
Arnholm. Then your husband knows nothing about this?
Ellida. I confessed to him from the first that my thoughts
had once been elsewhere. He never asked to know more,
and we have never touched upon it since. Besides, at
bottom it was simply madness. And then it was over directly—
that is to a certain extent.
Arnholm (rising). Only to a certain extent? Not quite?
Ellida. Yes, yes, it is! Oh, good heavens! Dear Arnholm, it
is not what you think. It is something so absolutely in
comprehensible, I don’t know how I could tell it you. You
would only think I was ill, or quite mad.
Arnholm. My dearest lady! Now you really must tell me
all about it.
Ellida. Well, then, I’ll try to. How will you, as a sensible
man, explain to yourself that—(Looks round, and breaks
off.) Wait a moment. Here’s a visitor.
(LYNGSTRAND comes along the road, and enters the garden.
He has a flower in his button-hole, and carries a
large, handsome bouquet done up in paper and silk ribbons.
He stands somewhat hesitatingly and undecidedly
by the verandah.)
Ellida (from the arbour). Have you come to see the girls,
Mr. Lyngstrand?
Lyngstrand (turning round). Ah, madam, are you there?
(Bows, and comes nearer.) No, it’s not that. It’s not the
young ladies. It’s you yourself, Mrs. Wangel. You know
you gave me permission to come and see you-
Ellida. Of course I did. You are always welcome here.
Lyngstrand. Thanks; and as it falls out so luckily that it’s
a festival here today—
Ellida. Oh! Do you know about that?
Lyngstrand. Rather! And so I should like to take the
liberty of presenting this to Mrs. Wangel. (Bows, and offers
her the bouquet.)
Ellida (smiling). But, my dear Mr. Lyngstrand, oughtn’t
you to give these lovely flowers to Mr. Arnholm himself?
For you know it’s really he-
Lyngstrand (looking uncertainly at both of them). Excuse
me, but I don’t know this gentleman. It’s only—I’ve
only come about the birthday, Mrs. Wangel.
Ellida. Birthday? You’ve made a mistake, Mr. Lyngstrand.
There’s no birthday here today.
Lyngstrand (smiling slyly). Oh! I know all about that!
But I didn’t think it was to be kept so dark.
Ellida. What do you know?
Lyngstrand. That it is Madam’s birthday.
Ellida. Mine?
Arnholm (looks questioningly at her). Today? Surely not.
Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Whatever made you think that?
Lyngstrand. It was Miss Hilde who let it out. I just looked
in here a little while ago, and I asked the young ladies
why they were decorating the place like this, with flowers
and flags.
Ellida. Well?
Lyngstrand. And so Miss Hilde said, “Why, today is
mother’s birthday.”
Ellida. Mother’s!—I see.
Arnholm. Aha! (He and ELLIDA exchange a meaning look.)
Well, now that the young man knows about it—
Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Well, now that you know—
Lyngstrand (offering her the bouquet again). May I take
the liberty of congratulating you?
Ellida (taking the flowers). My best thanks. Won’t you sit
down a moment, Mr. Lyngstrand? (ELLIDA, ARNHOLM,
and LYNGSTRAND sit down in the arbour.) This—birthday
business—was to have been kept secret, Mr. Arnholm.
Arnholm. So I see. It wasn’t for us uninitiated folk!
Ellida (putting down the bouquet). Just so. Not for the
uninitiated.
Lyngstrand. ‘Pon my word, I won’t tell a living soul about
it.
Ellida. Oh, it wasn’t meant like that. But how are you
getting on? I think you look better than you did.
Lyngstrand. Oh! I think I’m getting on famously. And by
next year, if I can go south—
Ellida. And you are going south, the girls tell me.
Lyngstrand. Yes, for I’ve a benefactor and friend at Bergen,
who looks after me, and has promised to help me next
year.
Ellida. How did you get such a friend?
Lyngstrand. Well, it all happened so very luckily. I once
went to sea in one of his ships.
Ellida. Did you? So you wanted to go to sea?
Lyngstrand. No, not at all. But when mother died, father
wouldn’t have me knocking about at home any longer,
and so he sent me to sea. Then we were wrecked in the
English Channel on our way home; and that was very fortunate
for me.
Arnholm. What do you mean?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for it was in the shipwreck that I got
this little weakness—of my chest. I was so long in the
ice-cold water before they picked me up; and so I had to
give up the sea. Yes, that was very fortunate.
Arnholm. Indeed! Do you think so?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for the weakness isn’t dangerous; and
now I can be a sculptor, as I so dearly want to be. Just
think; to model in that delicious clay, that yields so caressingly
to your fingers!
Ellida. And what are you going to model? Is it to be
mermen and mermaids? Or is it to be old Vikings?
Lyngstrand. No, not that. As soon as I can set about it,
I am going to try if I can produce a great work—a group,
as they call it.
Ellida. Yes; but what’s the group to be?
Lyngstrand. Oh! something I’ve experienced myself.
Arnholm. Yes, yes; always stick to that.
Ellida. But what’s it to be?
Lyngstrand. Well, I thought it should be the young wife
of a sailor, who lies sleeping in strange unrest, and she is
dreaming. I fancy I shall do it so that you will see she is
dreaming.
Arnholm. Is there anything else?
Lyngstrand. Yes, there’s to be another figure—a sort of
apparition, as they say. It’s her husband, to whom she has
been faithless while he was away, and he is drowned at
sea.
Arnholm. What?
Ellida. Drowned?
Lyngstrand. Yes, he was drowned on a sea voyage. But
that’s the wonderful part of it—he comes home all the
same. It is night-time. And he is standing by her bed
looking at her. He is to stand there dripping wet, like one
drawn from the sea.
Ellida (leaning back in her chair). What an extraordinary
idea! (Shutting her eyes.) Oh! I can see it so clearly, living
before me!
Arnholm. But how on earth, Mr.—Mr.—I thought you
said it was to be something you had experienced.
Lyngstrand. Yes. I did experience that—that is to say, to
a certain extent.
Arnholm. You saw a dead man?
Lyngstrand. Well, I don’t mean I’ve actually seen this—
experienced it in the flesh. But still—
Ellida (quickly, intently). Oh! tell me all you can about
it! I must understand about all this.
Arnholm (smiling). Yes, that’ll be quite in your line. Something
that has to do with sea fancies.
Ellida. What was it, Mr. Lyngstrand?
Lyngstrand. Well, it was like this. At the time when we
were to sail home in the brig from a town they called
Halifax, we had to leave the boatswain behind in the hospital.
So we had to engage an American instead. This new
boatswain—
Ellida. The American?
Lyngstrand. Yes, one day he got the captain to lend him
a lot of old newspapers and he was always reading them.
For he wanted to teach himself Norwegian, he said.
Ellida. Well, and then?
Lyngstrand. It was one evening in rough weather. All
hands were on deck—except the boatswain and myself.
For he had sprained his foot and couldn’t walk, and I was
feeling rather low, and was lying in my berth. Well, he was
sitting there in the forecastle, reading one of those old
papers again.
Ellida. Well, well!
Lyngstrand. But just as he was sitting there quietly reading,
I heard him utter a sort of yell. And when I looked at
him, I saw his face was as white as chalk. And then he
began to crush and crumple the paper, and to tear it into
a thousand shreds. But he did it so quietly, quietly.
Ellida. Didn’t he say anything? Didn’t he speak?
Lyngstrand. Not directly; but a little after he said to
himself, as it were: “Married—to another man. While I
was away.”
Ellida (closes her eyes, and says, half to herself). He said
that?
Lyngstrand. Yes. And think—he said it in perfect Norwegian.
That man must have learnt foreign languages very
easily—
Ellida. And what then? What else happened?
Lyngstrand. Well, now the remarkable part is coming—
that I shall never forget as long as I live. For he added,
and that quite quietly, too: “But she is mine, and mine
she shall remain. And she shall follow me, if I should
come home and fetch her, as a drowned man from the
dark sea.”
Ellida (pouring herself out a glass of water. Her hand
trembles). Ah! How close it is here today.
Lyngstrand. And he said this with such strength of will
that I thought he must be the man to do it.
Ellida. Don’t you know anything about—what became of
the man?
Lyngstrand. Oh! madam, he’s certainly not living now.
Ellida (quickly). Why do you think that?
Lyngstrand. Why? Because we were shipwrecked afterwards
in the Channel. I had got into the longboat with
the captain and five others. The mate got into the sternboat;
and the American was in that too, and another man.
Ellida. And nothing has been heard of them since?
Lyngstrand. Not a word. The friend who looks after me
said so quite recently in a letter. But it’s just because of
this I was so anxious to make it into a work of art. I see
the faithless sailor-wife so life-like before me, and the
avenger who is drowned, and who nevertheless comes home
from the sea. I can see them both so distinctly.
Ellida. I, too. (Rises.) Come; let us go in—or, rather, go
down to Wangel. I think it is so suffocatingly hot. (She
goes out of the arbour.)
Lyngstrand (who has also risen). I, for my part, must ask
you to excuse me. This was only to be a short visit because
of the birthday.
Ellida. As you wish. (Holds out her hand to him.) Goodbye,
and thank you for the flowers.
(LYNGSTRAND bows, and goes off through the garden
gate.)
Arnholm (rises, and goes up to ELLIDA). I see well enough
that this has gone to your heart, Mrs. Wangel.
Ellida. Yes; you may well say so. Although—
Arnholm. But still—after all, it’s no more than you were
bound to expect.
Ellida (looks at him surprised). Expect!
Arnholm. Well, so it seems to me.
Ellida. Expect that anyone should come back again!—
come to life again like that!
Arnholm. But what on earth!—is it that mad sculptor’s
sea story, then?
Ellida. Oh, dear Arnholm, perhaps it isn’t so mad after all!
Arnholm. Is it that nonsense about the dead man that
has moved you so? And I who thought that—
Ellida. What did you think?
Arnholm. I naturally thought that was only a make-believe
of yours. And that you were sitting here grieving
because you had found out a family feast was being kept
secret; because your husband and his children live a life of
remembrances in which you have no part.
Ellida. Oh! no, no! That may be as it may. I have no right
to claim my husband wholly and solely for myself.
Arnholm. I should say you had.
Ellida. Yes. Yet, all the same, I have not. That is it. Why,
I, too, live in something from which they are shut out.
Arnholm. You! (In lower tone.) Do you mean?—you, you
do not really love your husband!
Ellida. Oh! yes, yes! I have learnt to love him with all my
heart! And that’s why it is so terrible-so inexplicable—so
absolutely inconceivable!
Arnholm. Now you must and shall confide all your troubles
to me. Will you, Mrs. Wangel?
Ellida. I cannot, dear friend. Not now, in any case. Later,
perhaps.
(BOLETTE comes out into the verandah, and goes down
into the garden.)
Bolette. Father’s coming up from the office. Hadn’t we
better all of us go into the sitting-room?
Ellida. Yes, let us.
(WANGEL, in other clothes, comes with HILDE from behind
the house.)
Wangel. Now, then, here I am at your service. And now
we shall enjoy a good glass of something cool.
Ellida. Wait a moment. (She goes into the arbour and
fetches the bouquet.)
Hilde. I say! All those lovely flowers! Where did you get
them?
Ellida. From the sculptor, Lyngstrand, my dear Hilde.
Hilde (starts). From Lyngstrand?
Bolette (uneasily). Has Lyngstrand been here again?
Ellida (with a half-smile). Yes. He came here with these.
Because of the birthday, you understand.
Bolette (looks at HILDE). Oh!
Hilde (mutters). The idiot!
Wangel (in painful confusion to ELLIDA). Hm!—yes, well
you see-I must tell you, my dear, good, beloved Ellida—
Ellida (interrupting). Come, girls! Let us go and put my
flowers in the water together with the others. (Goes up to
the verandah.)
Bolette (to HILDE). Oh! After all she is good at heart.
Hilde (in a low tone with angry look). Fiddlesticks! She
only does it to take in father.
Wangel (on the verandah, presses ELLIDA’S hand). Thanksthanks!
My heartfelt thanks for that, dear Ellida.
Ellida (arranging the flowers). Nonsense! Should not I,
too, be in it, and take part in—in mother’s birthday?
Arnholm. Hm!
(He goes up to WANGEL, and ELLIDA, BOLETTE, and HILDE
remain in the garden below.)
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Act II


(SCENE.—At the “View,” a shrub-covered hill behind the
town. A little in the background, a beacon and a vane.
Great stones arranged as seats around the beacon, and in
the foreground. Farther back the outer fjord is seen, with
islands and outstanding headlands. The open sea is not
visible. It is a summer’s evening, and twilight. A goldenred
shimmer is in the airand over the mountain-tops in
the far distance. A quartette is faintly heard singing below
in the background. Young townsfolk, ladies and gentlemen,
come up in pairs, from the right, and, talking familiarly,
pass out beyond the beacon. A little after, BALLESTED
enters, as guide to a party of foreign tourists with their
ladies. He is laden with shawls and travelling bags.)
Ballested (pointing upwards with a stick). Sehen Sie, meine
Herrschaften, dort, out there, liegt eine andere mountain,
That wollen wir also besteigen, and so herunter. (He goes
on with the conversation in French, and leads the party
off to the left. HILDE comes quickly along the uphill
path, stands still, and looks back. Soon after BOLETTE
comes up the same way.)
Bolette. But, dear, why should we run away from
Lyngstrand?
Hilde. Because I can’t bear going uphill so slowly. Look—
look at him crawling up!
Bolette. Ah! But you know how delicate he is.
Hilde. Do you think it’s very—dangerous?
Bolette. I certainly do.
Hilde. He went to consult father this afternoon. I should
like to know what father thinks about him.
Bolette. Father told me it was a thickening of the lungs,
or something of the sort. He won’t live to be old, father
says.
Hilde. No! Did he say it? Fancy—that’s exactly what I
thought.
Bolette. For heaven’s sake don’t show it!
Hilde. How can you imagine such a thing? (In an undertone.)
Look, here comes Hans crawling up. Don’t you think
you can see by the look of him that he’s called Hans?
Bolette (whispering). Now do behave! You’d better!
(LYNGSTRAND comes in from the right, a parasol in his
hand.)
Lyngstrand. I must beg the young ladies to excuse me
for not getting along as quickly as they did.
Hilde. Have you got a parasol too, now?
Lyngstrand. It’s your mother’s. She said I was to use it as
a stick. I hadn’t mine with me.
Bolette. Are they down there still—father and the others?
Lyngstrand. Yes; your father looked in at the restaurant
for a moment, and the others are sitting out there listening
to the music. But they were coming up here presently,
your mother said.
Hilde (stands looking at him). I suppose you’re thoroughly
tired out now?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I almost think I’m a little tired now. I
really believe I shall have to sit down a moment. (He sits
on one of the stones in the foreground.)
Hilde (standing in front of him). Do you know there’s to
be dancing down there on the parade?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I heard there was some talk about it.
Hilde. I suppose you think dancing’s great fun?
Bolette (who begins gathering small flowers among the
heather). Oh, Hilde! Now do let Mr. Lyngstrand get his
breath.
Lyngstrand (to HILDE). Yes, Miss Hilde; I should very
much like to dance—if only I could.
Hilde. Oh, I see! Haven’t you ever learnt?
Lyngstrand. No, I’ve not. But it wasn’t that I meant. I
meant I couldn’t because of my chest.
Hilde. Because of that weakness you said you suffered
from?
Lyngstrand. Yes; because of that.
Hilde. Aren’t you very sorry you’ve that—weakness?
Lyngstrand. Oh, no! I can’t say I am (smiling), for I
think it’s because of it that everyone is so good, and
friendly, and kind to me.
Hilde. Yes. And then, besides, it’s not dangerous.
Lyngstrand. No; it’s not at all dangerous. So I gathered
from what your father said to me.
Hilde. And then it will pass away as soon as ever you
begin travelling.
Lyngstrand. Of course it will pass away.
Bolette (with flowers). Look here, Mr. Lyngstrand, you
are to put this in your button-hole.
Lyngstrand. Oh! A thousand thanks, Miss Wangel. It’s
really too good of you.
Hilde (looking down the path). There they are, coming
along the road.
Bolette (also looking down). If only they know where to
turn off. No; now they’re going wrong.
Lyngstrand (rising). I’ll run down to the turning and call
out to them.
Hilde. You’ll have to call out pretty loud.
Bolette. No; it’s not worth while. You’ll only tire yourself
again.
Lyngstrand. Oh, it’s so easy going downhill. (Goes off to
the right.)
Hilde. Down-hill—yes. (Looking after him.) Why, he’s actually
jumping! And he never remembers he’ll have to come
up again.
Bolette. Poor fellow!
Hilde. If Lyngstrand were to propose, would you accept
him?
Bolette. Are you quite mad?
Hilde. Of course, I mean if he weren’t troubled with that
“weakness.” And if he weren’t to die so soon, would you
have him then?
Bolette. I think you’d better have him yourself!
Hilde. No, that I wouldn’t! Why, he hasn’t a farthing. He
hasn’t enough even to keep himself.
Bolette. Then why are you always going about with him?
Hilde. Oh, I only do that because of the weakness.
Bolette. I’ve never noticed that you in the least pity him
for it!
Hilde. No, I don’t. But I think it so interesting.
Bolette. What is?
Hilde. To look at him and make him tell you it isn’t dangerous;
and that he’s going abroad, and is to be an artist.
He really believes it all, and is so thoroughly happy about
it. And yet nothing will ever come of it; nothing whatever.
For he won’t live long enough. I feel that’s so fascinating
to think of.
Bolette. Fascinating!
Hilde. Yes, I think it’s most fascinating. I take that liberty.
Bolette. Hilde, you really are a dreadful child!
Hilde. That’s just what I want to be—out of spite. (Looking
down.) At last! I shouldn’t think Arnholm liked coming
up-hill. (Turns round.) By the way, do you know what
I noticed about Arnholm at dinner?
Bolette. Well?
Hilde. Just think—his hair’s beginning to come off—
right on the top of his head.
Bolette. Nonsense! I’m sure that’s not true.
Hilde. It is! And then he has wrinkles round both his
eyes. Good gracious, Bolette, how could you be so much
in love with him when he used to read with you?
Bolette (smiling). Yes. Can you believe it? I remember I
once shed bitter tears because he thought Bolette was an
ugly name.
Hilde. Only to think! (Looking down.) No! I say, do just
look down here! There’s the “Mermaid” walking along and
chatting with him. Not with father. I wonder if those two
aren’t making eyes at one another.
Bolette. You ought to be ashamed of yourself! How can
you stand there and say such a thing of her? Now, when
everything was beginning to be so pleasant between us.
Hilde. Of course—just try and persuade yourself of that,
my child! Oh, no! It will never be pleasant between us and
her. For she doesn’t belong to us at all. And we don’t
belong to her either. Goodness knows what father dragged
her into the house for! I shouldn’t wonder if some fine
day she went mad under our very eyes.
Bolette. Mad! How can you think such a thing?
Hilde. Oh! it wouldn’t be so extraordinary. Her mother
went mad, too. She died mad—I know that.
Bolette. Yes, heaven only knows what you don’t poke
your nose into. But now don’t go chattering about this.
Do be good—for father’s sake. Do you hear, Hilde?
(WANGEL, ELLIDA, ARNHOLM and LYNGSTRAND come
up from the right.)
Ellida (pointing to the background). Out there it lies.
Arnholm. Quite right. It must be in that direction.
Ellida. Out there is the sea.
Bolette (to ARNHOLM). Don’t you think it is delightful
up here?
Arnholm. It’s magnificent, I think. Glorious view!
Wangel. I suppose you never used to come up here?
Arnholm. No, never. In my time I think it was hardly
accessible; there wasn’t any path even.
Wangel. And no grounds. All this has been done during
the last few years.
Bolette. And there, at the “Pilot’s Mount,” it’s even grander
than here.
Wangel. Shall we go there, Ellida?
Ellida (sitting down on one of the stones). Thanks, not I;
but you others can. I’ll sit here meanwhile.
Wangel. Then I’ll stay with you. The girls can show Arnholm
about.
Bolette. Would you like to go with us, Mr. Arnholm?
Arnholm. I should like to, very much. Does a path lead
up there too?
Bolette. Oh yes. There’s a nice broad path.
Hilde. The path is so broad that two people can walk
along it comfortably, arm in arm.
Arnholm (jestingly). Is that really so, little Missie? (To
BOLETTE.) Shall we two see if she is right?
Bolette (suppressing a smile). Very well, let’s go. (They
go out to the left, arm in arm.)
Hilde (to LYNGSTRAND). Shall we go too?
Lyngstrand. Arm in arm?
Hilde. Oh, why not? For aught I care!
Lyngstrand (taking her arm, laughing contentedly). This
is a jolly lark.
Hilde. Lark?
Lyngstrand. Yes; because it looks exactly as if we were
engaged.
Hilde. I’m sure you’ve never walked out arm in arm with a
lady before, Mr. Lyngstrand. (They go off.)
Wangel (who is standing beside the beacon). Dear Ellida,
now we have a moment to ourselves.
Ellida. Yes; come and sit down here, by me.
Wangel (sitting down). It is so free and quiet. Now we
can have a little talk together.
Ellida. What about?
Wangel. About yourself, and then about us both. Ellida,
I see very well that it can’t go on like this.
Ellida. What do you propose instead?
Wangel. Perfect confidence, dear. A true life together—
as before.
Ellida. Oh, if that could be! But it is so absolutely impossible!
Wangel. I think I understand you, from certain things
you have let fall now and again.
Ellida (passionately). Oh, you do not! Don’t say you understand!
Wangel. Yes. Yours is an honest nature, Ellida—yours is a
faithful mind.
Ellida. It is.
Wangel. Any position in which you could feel safe and
happy must be a completely true and real one.
Ellida (looking eagerly at him). Well, and then?
Wangel. You are not suited to be a man’s second wife.
Ellida. What makes you think that?
Wangel. It has often flashed across me like a foreboding.
Today it was clear to me. The children’s memorial feast—
you saw in me a kind of accomplice. Well, yes; a man’s
memories, after all, cannot be wiped out—not so mine,
anyhow. It isn’t in me.
Ellida. I know that. Oh! I know that so well.
Wangel. But you are mistaken all the same. To you it is
almost as if the children’s mother were still living—as if
she were still here invisible amongst us. You think my
heart is equally divided between you and her. It is this
thought that shocks you. You see something immoral in
our relation, and that is why you no longer can or will live
with me as my wife.
Ellida (rising). Have you seen all that, Wangel—seen into
all this?
Wangel. Yes; today I have at last seen to the very heart
of it—to its utmost depths.
Ellida. To its very heart, you say? Oh, do not think that!
Wangel (rising). I see very well that there is more than
this, dear Ellida.
Ellida (anxiously). You know there is more?
Wangel. Yes. You cannot bear your surroundings here.
The mountains crush you, and weigh upon your heart.
Nothing is open enough for you here. The heavens above
you are not spacious enough. The air is not strong and
bracing enough.
Ellida. You are right. Night and day, winter and summer,
it weighs upon me—this irresistible home-sickness for the
sea.
Wangel. I know it well, dear Ellida (laying his hands upon
her head). And that is why the poor sick child shall go
home to her own again.
Ellida. What do you mean?
Wangel. Something quite simple. We are going away.
Ellida. Going away?
Wangel. Yes. Somewhere by the open sea—a place where
you can find a true home, after your own heart.
Ellida. Oh, dear, do not think of that! That is quite impossible.
You can live happily nowhere on earth but here!
Wangel. That must be as it may. And, besides, do you
think I can live happily here—without you?
Ellida. But I am here. And I will stay here. You have me.
Wangel. Have I, Ellida?
Ellida. Oh! don’t speak of all this. Why, here you have all
that you love and strive for. All your life’s work lies here.
Wangel. That must be as it may, I tell you. We are going
away from here—are going somewhere—out there. That
is quite settled now, dear Ellida.
Ellida. What do you think we should gain by that?
Wangel. You would regain your health and peace of mind.
Ellida. Hardly. And then you, yourself! Think of yourself,
too! What of you?
Wangel. I would win you back again, my dearest.
Ellida. But you cannot do that! No, no, you can’t do
that, Wangel! That is the terrible part of it—heart-breaking
to think of.
Wangel. That remains to be proved. If you are harbouring
such thoughts, truly there is no other salvation for you
than to go hence. And the sooner the better. Now this is
irrevocably settled, do you hear?
Ellida. No! Then in heaven’s name I had better tell you
everything straight out. Everything just as it is.
Wangel. Yes, yes! Do.
Ellida. For you shall not ruin your happiness for my sake,
especially as it can’t help us in any way.
Wangel. I have your word now that you will tell me everything
just as it is.
Ellida. I’ll tell you everything as well as I can, and as far
as I understand it. Come here and sit by me. (They sit
down on the stones.)
Wangel. Well, Ellida, so—
Ellida. That day when you came out there and asked me if
I would be yours, you spoke so frankly and honestly to me
about your first marriage. It had been so happy, you said.
Wangel. And so it was.
Ellida. Yes, yes! I am sure of that, dear! It is not for that
I am referring to it now. I only want to remind you that I,
on my side, was frank with you. I told you quite openly
that once in my life I had cared for another. That there
had been a—a kind of engagement between us.
Wangel. A kind of—
Ellida. Yes, something of the sort. Well, it only lasted
such a very short time. He went away; and after that I put
an end to it. I told you all that.
Wangel. Why rake up all this now? It really didn’t concern
me; nor have I once asked you who he was!
Ellida. No, you have not. You are always so thoughtful
for me.
Wangel (smiling). Oh, in this case I could guess the name
well enough for myself.
Ellida. The name?
Wangel. Out in Skjoldviken and thereabouts there weren’t
many to choose from; or, rather, there was only a single
one.
Ellida. You believe it was Arnholm!
Wangel. Well, wasn’t it?
Ellida. No!
Wangel. Not he? Then I don’t in the least understand.
Ellida. Can you remember that late in the autumn a large
American ship once put into Skjoldviken for repairs?
Wangel. Yes, I remember it very well. It was on board
that ship that the captain was found one morning in his
cabin—murdered. I myself went out to make the postmortem.
Ellida. Yes, it was you.
Wangel. It was the second mate who had murdered him.
Ellida. No one can say that. For it was never proved.
Wangel. There was enough against him anyhow, or why
should he have drowned himself as he did?
Ellida. He did not drown himself. He sailed in a ship to
the north.
Wangel (startled). How do you know?
Ellida (with an effort). Well, Wangel—it was this second
mate to whom I was—betrothed.
Wangel (springing up). What! Is it possible!
Ellida. Yes, it is so. It was to him!
Wangel. But how on earth, Ellida! How did you come to
betroth yourself to such a man? To an absolute stranger!
What is his name?
Ellida. At that time he called himself Friman. Later, in his
letters he signed himself Alfred Johnston.
Wangel. And where did he come from?
Ellida. From Finmark, he said. For the rest, he was born in
Finland, had come to Norway there as a child with his
father, I think.
Wangel. A Finlander, then?
Ellida. Yes, so he called himself.
Wangel. What else do you know about him?
Ellida. Only that he went to sea very young. And that he
had been on long voyages.
Wangel. Nothing more?
Ellida. No. We never spoke of such things.
Wangel. Of what did you speak, then?
Ellida. We spoke mostly about the sea.
Wangel. Ah! About the sea—
Ellida. About storms and calm. Of dark nights at sea. And
of the sea in the glittering sunshiny days we spoke also.
But we spoke most of the whales, and the dolphins, and
the seals who lie out there on the rocks in the midday
sun. And then we spoke of the gulls, and the eagles, and
all the other sea birds. I think—isn’t it wonderful?—when
we talked of such things it seemed to me as if both the
sea beasts and sea birds were one with him.
Wangel. And with you?
Ellida. Yes; I almost thought I belonged to them all, too.
Wangel. Well, well! And so it was that you betrothed
yourself to him?
Ellida. Yes. He said I must.
Wangel. You must? Had you no will of your own, then?
Ellida. Not when he was near. Ah! afterwards I thought it
all so inexplicable.
Wangel. Were you often together?
Ellida. No; not very often. One day he came out to our
place, and looked over the lighthouse. After that I got to
know him, and we met now and again. But then that
happened about the captain, and so he had to go away.
Wangel. Yes, yes. Tell me more about that.
Ellida. It was just daybreak when I had a note from him.
He said in it I was to go out to him at the Bratthammer.
You know the headland there between the lighthouse and
Skjoldviken?
Wangel. I know, I know!
Ellida. I was to go out there at once, he wrote, because
he wanted to speak to me.
Wangel. And you went?
Ellida. Yes. I could not do otherwise. Well, then he told
me he had stabbed the captain in the night.
Wangel. He said that himself! Actually said so!
Ellida. Yes. But he had only acted rightly and justly, he
said.
Wangel. Rightly and justly! Why did he stab him then?
Ellida. He wouldn’t speak out about that. He said it was
not fit for me to hear.
Wangel. And you believed his naked, bare word?
Ellida. Yes. It never occurred to me to do otherwise.
Well, anyhow, he had to go away. But now, when he was
to bid me farewell—. No; you never could imagine what
he thought of—
Wangel. Well? Tell me.
Ellida. He took from his pocket a key-ring—and drew a
ring that he always wore from his finger, and he took a
small ring I had. These two he put on the key-ring. And
then he said we should wed ourselves to the sea.
Wangel. Wed?
Ellida. Yes, so he said. And with that he threw the keyring,
and our rings, with all his might, as far as he could
into the deep.
Wangel. And you, Ellida, you did all this?
Ellida. Yes—only think—it then seemed to me as if it
must be so. But, thank God I—he went away.
Wangel. And when he was gone?
Ellida. Oh! You can surely understand that I soon came
to my senses again—that I saw how absolutely mad and
meaningless it had all been.
Wangel. But you spoke just now of letters. So you have
heard from him since?
Ellida. Yes, I have heard from him. First I had a few short
lines from Archangel. He only wrote he was going to
America. And then he told me where to send an answer.
Wangel. And did you?
Ellida. At once. I wrote him, of course, that all must be
at an end between us; and that he must no longer think
of me, just as I should no longer think of him.
Wangel. But did he write again?
Ellida. Yes, he wrote again.
Wangel. And what was his answer to your communication?
Ellida. He took no notice of it. It was exactly as if I had
never broken with him. He wrote quite composedly and
calmly that I must wait for him. When he could have me
he would let me know, and then I was to go to him at
once.
Wangel. So he would not release you?
Ellida. No. Then I wrote again, almost word for word as I
had before; or perhaps more firmly.
Wangel. And he gave in?
Ellida. Oh, no! Don’t think that! He wrote quietly, as
before—not a word of my having broken with him. Then I
knew it was useless, and so I never wrote to him again.
Wangel. And you never heard from him?
Ellida. Oh, yes! I have had three letters since then. Once
he wrote to me from California, and a second time from
China. The last letter I had from him was from Australia.
He wrote he was going to the gold-mines; but since then
he has made no sign.
Wangel. This man has had a strange power over you,
Ellida.
Ellida. Yes, yes! The terrible man!
Wangel. But you mustn’t think of that any more. Never
again—never! Promise me that, my dear, beloved Ellida.
Now we must try another treatment for you. Fresher air
than here within the fjords. The salt, fresh air of the sea!
Dear, what say you to that?
Ellida. Oh! don’t speak of it! Don’t think of it! There is no
help in this for me. I feel that so well. I can’t shake it
off—not even there.
Wangel. What, dear?—What do you really mean?
Ellida. I mean the horror of it, this incomprehensible
power over the mind.
Wangel. But you have shaken it off—long since—when
you broke with him. Why, all this is long past now.
Ellida (springing up). No; that it is not—it is not!
Wangel. Not past?
Ellida. No, Wangel, it is not past; and I fear it never will
be—never, in all our life.
Wangel (in a pained voice). Do you mean to say that in
your innermost heart you have never been able to forget
this strange man?
Ellida. I had forgotten him; but then it was as if he had
suddenly come back again.
Wangel. How long ago is that?
Ellida. It’s about three years ago, now, or a little longer.
It was just when I expected the child.
Wangel. Ah! at that time? Yes, Ellida—now I begin to
understand many things.
Ellida. You are mistaken, dear. What has come to me? Oh!
I believe nothing on earth will ever make it clear.
Wangel (looking sadly at her). Only to think that all these
three years you have cared for another man. Cared for
another. Not for me—but for another!
Ellida. Oh! you are so utterly mistaken! I care for no one
but you.
Wangel (in a subdued voice). Why, then, in all this time
have you not lived with me as my wife?
Ellida. Because of the horror that comes from the strange man.
Wangel. The horror?
Ellida. Yes, the horror. A horror so terrible—such as only
the sea could hold. For now you shall hear, Wangel.
(The young townsfolk come back, bow, and pass out to
the right. Together with them come ARNHOLM, BOLETTE,
HILDE, and LYNGSTRAND.)
Bolette (as she passes by). Well, are you still walking
about up here?
Ellida. Yes, it is so cool and pleasant up here on the
heights.
Arnholm. We, for our part, are going down for a dance.
Wangel. All right. We’ll soon come down—we also.
Hilde. Goodbye, for the present!
Ellida. Mr. Lyngstrand, will you wait one moment?
(LYNGSTRAND stops. ARNHOLM, BOLETTE and HILDE go
out. To LYNGSTRAND.) Are you going to dance too?
Lyngstrand. No, Mrs. Wangel. I don’t think I dare.
Ellida. No, you should be careful, you know—your chest.
You’re not quite well yet, you see.
Lyngstrand. Not quite.
Ellida (with some hesitation). How long may it be now
since you went on that voyage?
Lyngstrand. That time when I contracted this weakness?
Ellida. Yes, that voyage you told me about this morning?
Lyngstrand. Oh! it’s about—wait a moment—yes, it’s a
good three years now.
Ellida. Three years, then.
Lyngstrand. Perhaps a little more. We left America in
February, and we were wrecked in March. It was the equinoctial
gales we came in for.
Ellida (looking at WANGEL). So it was at that time—
Wangel. But, dear Ellida—
Ellida. Well, don’t let me detain you, Mr. Lyngstrand.
Now go down, but don’t dance.
Lyngstrand. No, I’ll only look on. (He goes out.)
Ellida. Johnston was on board too, I am quite certain of
it.
Wangel. What makes you think so?
Ellida (without answering). He learnt on board that I had
married another while he was away. And so that very hour
this came over me.
Wangel. The horror?
Ellida. Yes, all of a sudden I see him alive right in front of
me; or, rather a little in profile. He never looks at me,
only he is there.
Wangel. How do you think he looks?
Ellida. Exactly as when I saw him last.
Wangel. Ten years ago?
Ellida. Yes; out there at Bratthammeren. Most distinctly
of all I see his breastpin, with a large bluish-white pearl in
it. The pearl is like a dead fish’s eye, and it seems to glare
at me.
Wangel. Good God! You are more ill than I thought. More
ill than you yourself know, Ellida.
Ellida. Yes, yes! Help me if you can, for I feel how it is
drawing closer and more close.
Wangel. And you have gone about in this state three
whole years, bearing for yourself this secret suffering,
without confiding in me.
Ellida. But I could not; not till it became necessary for
your own sake. If I had confided in you I should also have
had to confide to you the unutterable.
Wangel. Unutterable?
Ellida. No, no, no! Do not ask. Only one thing, nothing
more. Wangel, when shall we understand that mystery of
the boy’s eyes?
Wangel. My dear love, Ellida, I assure you it was only
your own fancy. The child had exactly the same eyes as
other normal children have.
Ellida. No, he had not. And you could not see it! The
child’s eyes changed colour with the sea. When the fjord
lay bathed in sunshine, so were his eyes. And so in storm.
Oh, I saw it, if you did not!
Wangel (humouring her). Maybe. But even if it were true,
what then?
Ellida (in lower voice, and coming nearer). I have seen
such eyes before.
Wangel. Well? Where?
Ellida. Out at Bratthammeren, ten years ago.
Wangel (stepping back). What does it mean?
Ellida (whispers, trembling). The child had the strange
man’s eyes.
Wangel (cries out reluctantly). Ellida!
Ellida (clasps her hands despairingly about her head).
Now you understand why I would not, why I dared not,
live with you as your wife. (She turns suddenly and rushes
off over the heights.)
Wangel (hurrying after her and calling). Ellida, Ellida! My
poor unhappy Ellida!
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Act III


(SCENE.—A more remote part of DOCTOR WANGEL’S garden.
It is boggy and overshadowed by large old trees. To
the right is seen the margin of a dank pond. A low, open
fence separates the garden from the footpath, and the
fjord in the background. Beyond is the range of mountains,
with its peaks. It is afternoon, almost evening.
BOLETTE sits on a stone seat, and on the seat lie some
books and a work-basket. HILDE and LYNGSTRAND, both
with fishing-tackle, walk along the bank of the pond.)
Hilde (making a sign to LYNGSTRAND). I can see a large
one.
Lyngstrand (looking). Where?
Hilde (pointing). Can’t you see? He’s down there. Good
gracious! There’s another! (Looks through the trees.) Out
there. Now he’s coming to frighten him away!
Bolette (looking up). Who’s coming?
Hilde. Your tutor, Miss!
Bolette. Mine?
Hilde. Yes. Goodness knows he never was mine.
(ARNHOLM enters from between the trees.)
Arnholm. Are there fish in the pond now?
Hilde. There are some very ancient carp.
Arnholm. No! Are the old carp still alive?
Hilde. Yes; they’re pretty tough. But now we’re going to
try and get rid of some of them.
Arnholm. You’d better try out there at the fjord.
Lyngstrand. No; the pond is—well—so to say—more mysterious.
Hilde. Yes; it’s fascinating here. Have you been in the
sea?
Arnholm. Yes; I’ve come straight from the baths.
Hilde. I suppose you kept in the enclosure?
Arnholm. Yes; I’m not much of a swimmer.
Hilde. Can you swim on your back?
Arnholm. No.
Hilde. I can. (To LYNGSTRAND.) Let’s try out there on
the other side. (They go off along the pond.)
Arnholm (coming closer to BOLETTE). Are you sitting all
alone here, Bolette?
Bolette. Yes; I generally do.
Arnholm. Isn’t your mother down here in the garden?
Bolette. No—she’s sure to be out with father.
Arnholm. How is she this afternoon?
Bolette. I don’t quite know. I forgot to ask.
Arnholm. What books have you there?
Bolette. The one’s something about botany. And the other’s
a geography.
Arnholm. Do you care about such things?
Bolette. Yes, if only I had time for it. But, first of all, I’ve
to look after the housekeeping.
Arnholm. Doesn’t your mother help you—your stepmother—
doesn’t she help with that?
Bolette. No, that’s my business. Why, I saw to that during
the two years father was alone. And so it has been
since.
Arnholm. But you’re as fond as ever of reading.
Bolette. Yes, I read all the useful books I can get hold of.
One wants to know something about the world. For here
we live so completely outside of all that’s going on—or
almost.
Arnholm. Now don’t say that, dear Bolette.
Bolette. Yes! I think we live very much as the carp down
there in the pond. They have the fjord so near them, where
the shoals of wild fishes pass in and out. But the poor,
tame house-fishes know nothing, and they can take no
part in that.
Arnholm. I don’t think it would fare very well with them
if they could get out there.
Bolette. Oh! it would be much the same, I expect.
Arnholm. Moreover, you can’t say that one is so completely
out of the world here—not in the summer anyhow.
Why, nowadays this is quite a rendezvous for the
busy world—almost a terminus for the time being.
Bolette. Ah, yes! you who yourself are only here for the
time being—it is easy for you to make fun of us.
Arnholm. I make fun? How can you think that?
Bolette. Well, all that about this being a rendezvous, and
a terminus for the busy world—that’s something you’ve
heard the townsfolk here saying. Yes—they’re in the habit
of saying that sort of thing.
Arnholm. Well, frankly, I’ve noticed that, too.
Bolette. But really there’s not an atom of truth in it. Not
for us who always live here. What good is it to us that the
great strange world comes hither for a time on its way
North to see the midnight sun? We ourselves have no part
in that; we see nothing of the midnight sun. No! We’ve
got to be good, and live our lives here in our carp pond.
Arnholm (sitting down by her). Now tell me, dear Bolette,
isn’t there something or other—something definite you
are longing for?
Bolette. Perhaps.
Arnholm. What is it, really? What is it you are longing
for?
Bolette. Chiefly to get away.
Arnholm. That above all, then?
Bolette. Yes; and then to learn more. To really know something
about everything.
Arnholm. When I used to teach you, your father often
said he would let you go to college.
Bolette. Yes, poor father! He says so many things. But
when it comes to the point he—there’s no real stamina in
father.
Arnholm. No, unfortunately you’re right there. He has
not exactly stamina. But have you ever spoken to him
about it—spoken really earnestly and seriously?
Bolette. No, I’ve not quite done that.
Arnholm. But really you ought to. Before it is too late,
Bolette, why don’t you?
Bolette. Oh! I suppose it’s because there’s no real stamina
in me either. I certainly take after father in that.
Arnholm. Hm—don’t you think you’re unjust to yourself
there?
Bolette. No, unfortunately. Besides, father has so little
time for thinking of me and my future, and not much
desire to either. He prefers to put such things away from
him whenever he can. He is so completely taken up with
Ellida.
Arnholm. With whom? What?
Bolette. I mean that he and my stepmother—(breaks
off). Father and mother suffice one another, as you see.
Arnholm. Well, so much the better if you were to get
away from here.
Bolette. Yes; but I don’t think I’ve a right to; not to
forsake father.
Arnholm. But, dear Bolette, you’ll have to do that sometime,
anyhow. So it seems to me the sooner the better.
Bolette. I suppose there is nothing else for it. After all, I
must think of myself, too. I must try and get occupation
of some sort. When once father’s gone, I have no one to
hold to. But, poor father! I dread leaving him.
Arnholm. Dread?
Bolette. Yes, for father’s sake.
Arnholm. But, good heavens! Your stepmother? She is
left to him.
Bolette. That’s true. But she’s not in the least fit to do all
that mother did so well. There is so much she doesn’t see,
or that she won’t see, or that she doesn’t care about. I
don’t know which it is.
Arnholm. Um, I think I understand what you mean.
Bolette. Poor father! He is weak in some things. Perhaps
you’ve noticed that yourself? He hasn’t enough occupation,
either, to fill up his time. And then she is so thoroughly
incapable of helping him; however, that’s to some
extent his own fault.
Arnholm. In what way?
Bolette. Oh! father always likes to see happy faces about
him. There must be sunshine and joy in the house, he
says. And so I’m afraid he often gives her medicine which
will do her little good in the long run.
Arnholm. Do you really think that?
Bolette. Yes; I can’t get rid of the thought. She is so odd
at times. (Passionately.) But isn’t it unjust that I should
have to stay at home here? Really it’s not of any earthly
use to father. Besides, I have a duty towards myself, too,
I think.
Arnholm. Do you know what, Bolette? We two must talk
these matters over more carefully.
Bolette. Oh! That won’t be much use. I suppose I was
created to stay here in the carp pond.
Arnholm. Not a bit of it. It depends entirely upon yourself.
Bolette (quickly). Do you think so?
Arnholm. Yes, believe me, it lies wholly and solely in your
own hands.
Bolette. If only that were true! Will you perhaps put in a
good word for me with father?
Arnholm. Certainly. But first of all I must speak frankly
and freely with you yourself, dear.
Bolette (looks out to the left). Hush! don’t let them
notice anything. We’ll speak of this later.
(ELLIDA enters from the left. She has no hat on, but a
large shawl is thrown over her head and shoulders.)
Ellida (with restless animation). How pleasant it is here!
How delightful it is here!
Arnholm (rising). Have you been for a walk?
Ellida. Yes, a long, long lovely walk up there with Wangel.
And now we’re going for a sail.
Bolette. Won’t you sit down?
Ellida. No, thanks; I won’t sit down.
Bolette (making room on seat). Here’s a pleasant seat.
Ellida (walking about). No, no, no! I’ll not sit down—not
sit down!
Arnholm. I’m sure your walk has done you good. You
look quite refreshed.
Ellida. Oh, I feel so thoroughly well—I feel so unspeakably
happy. So safe, so safe! (Looking out to the left.)
What great steamer is that coming along there?
Bolette (rising, and also looking out). It must be the
large English ship.
Arnholm. It’s passing the buoy. Does it usually stop here?
Bolette. Only for half an hour. It goes farther up the fjord.
Ellida. And then sails away again tomorrow—away over
the great open sea—right over the sea. Only think! to be
with them. If one could. If only one could!
Arnholm. Have you never been any long sea voyage, Mrs.
Wangel?
Ellida. Never; only those little trips in the fjord here.
Bolette (with a sigh). Ah, no! I suppose we must put up
with the dry land.
Arnholm. Well, after all, that really is our home.
Ellida. No; I don’t think it is.
Arnholm. Not the land?
Ellida. No; I don’t believe so. I think that if only men had
from the beginning accustomed themselves to live on the
sea, or in the sea perhaps, we should be more perfect
than we are—both better and happier.
Arnholm. You really think that?
Ellida. Yes. I should like to know if we should not. I’ve
often spoken to Wangel about it.
Arnholm. Well, and he?
Ellida. He thinks it might be so.
Arnholm (jestingly). Well, perhaps! But it can’t be helped.
We’ve once for- all entered upon the wrong path, and
have become land beasts instead of sea beasts. Anyhow, I
suppose it’s too late to make good the mistake now.
Ellida. Yes, you’ve spoken a sad truth. And I think men
instinctively feel something of this themselves. And they
bear it about with them as a secret regret and sorrow.
Believe me—herein lies the deepest cause for the sadness
of men. Yes, believe me, in this.
Arnholm. But, my dearest Mrs. Wangel, I have not observed
that men are so extremely sad. It seems to me, on
the contrary, that most of them take life easily and pleasantly—
and with a great, quiet, unconscious joy.
Ellida. Oh! no, it is not so. The joy is, I suppose, something
like our joy at the long pleasant summer days—it
has the presentiment of the dark days coming. And it is
this presentiment that casts its shadows over the joy of
men, just as the driving clouds cast their shadow over the
fjords. It lies there so bright and blue—and of a sudden.
Arnholm. You shouldn’t give way to such sad thoughts.
Just now you were so glad and so bright.
Ellida. Yes, yes, so I was. Oh, this—this is so stupid of
me. (Looking about her uneasily.) If only Wangel would
come! He promised me so faithfully he would. And yet he
does not come. Dear Mr. Arnholm, won’t you try and find
him for me?
Arnholm. Gladly!
Ellida. Tell him he must come here directly now. For now
I can’t see him.
Arnholm. Not see him?
Ellida. Oh! you don’t understand. When he is not by me I
often can’t remember how he looks. And then it is as if I
had quite lost him. That is so terribly painful. But do go,
please. (She paces round the pond.)
Bolette (to ARNHOLM). I will go with you—you don’t
know the way.
Arnholm. Nonsense, I shall be all right.
Bolette (aside). No, no, no. I am anxious. I’m afraid he is
on board the steamer.
Arnholm. Afraid?
Bolette. Yes. He usually goes to see if there are any acquaintances
of his. And there’s a restaurant on board.
Arnholm. Ah! Come then.
(He and BOLETTE go off. ELLIDA stands still awhile, staring
down at the pond. Now and again she speaks to her
self in a low voice, and breaks off. Along the footpath
beyond the garden fence a STRANGER in travelling dress
comes from the left. His hair and beard are bushy and red.
He has a Scotch cap on, and a travelling bag with strap
across his shoulders.)
The Stranger (goes slowly along by the fence and peeps
into the garden. When he catches sight of ELLIDA he
stands still, looks at her fixedly and searchingly, and speaks
in a low voice). Good-evening, Ellida!
Ellida (turns round with a cry). Oh dear! have you come
at last!
The Stranger. Yes, at last.
Ellida (looking at him astonished and frightened). Who
are you? Do you seek anyone here?
The Stranger. You surely know that well enough, Ellida.
Ellida (starting). What is this! How do you address me?
Whom are you looking for?
The Stranger. Well, I suppose I’m looking for you.
Ellida (shuddering). Oh! (She stares at him, totters back,
uttering a half-suffocating cry.) The eyes!—the eyes!
The Stranger. Are you beginning to recognise me at last?
I knew you at once, Ellida.
Ellida. The eyes! Don’t look at me like that! I shall cry for
help!
The Stranger. Hush, hush! Do not fear. I shan’t hurt you.
Ellida (covering her eyes with her hands). Do not look at
me like that, I say!
The Stranger (leaning with his arms on the garden fence).
I came with the English steamer.
Ellida (stealing a frightened look at him). What do you
want with me?
The Stranger. I promised you to come as soon as I could—
Ellida. Go—go away! Never, never come here again! I
wrote to you that everything must be over between us—
everything! Oh! you know that!
The Stranger (imperturbably, and not answering her). I
would gladly have come to you sooner; but I could not.
Now, at last I am able to, and I am here, Ellida.
Ellida. What is it you want with me? What do you mean?
Why have you come here?
The Stranger. Surely you know I’ve come to fetch you.
Ellida (recoils in terror). To fetch me! Is that what you
mean?
The Stranger. Of course.
Ellida. But surely you know that I am married?
The Stranger. Yes, I know.
Ellida. And yet—and yet you have come to—to fetch
me!
The Stranger. Certainly I have.
Ellida (seizing her head with both her hands). Oh! this
misery—this horror! This horror!
The Stranger. Perhaps you don’t want to come?
Ellida (bewildered). Don’t look at me like that.
The Stranger. I was asking you if you didn’t want to
come.
Ellida. No, no, no! Never in all eternity! I will not, I tell
you. I neither can nor will. (In lower tone.) I dare not.
The Stranger (climbs over the fence, and comes into the
garden). Well, Ellida, let me tell you one thing before I
go.
Ellida (wishes to fly, but cannot. She stands as one paralysed
with terror, and leans for support against the trunk
of a tree by the pond). Don’t touch me! Don’t come near
me! No nearer! Don’t touch me, I say!
The Stranger (cautiously coming a few steps nearer).
You need not be so afraid of me, Ellida.
Ellida (covering her eyes with her hands). Don’t look at
me like that.
The Stranger. Do not be afraid—not afraid.
(WANGEL comes through the garden, from the left.)
Wangel (still half-way between the trees). Well, you’ve
had to wait for me a long while.
Ellida (rushes towards him, clings fast to his arm, and
cries out). Oh! Wangel! Save me! You save me—if you
can!
Wangel. Ellida! What in heaven’s name!
Ellida. Save me, Wangel! Don’t you see him there? Why,
he is standing there!
Wangel (looking thither). That man? (Coming nearer.)
May I ask you who you are, and what you have come into
this garden for?
The Stranger (motions with a nod towards ELLIDA). I
want to talk to her.
Wangel. Oh! indeed. So I suppose it was you. (To ELLIDA.)
I hear a stranger has been to the house and asked for you?
The Stranger. Yes, it was I.
Wangel. And what do you want with my wife? (Turning
round.) Do you know him, Ellida?
Ellida (in a low voice and wringing her hands). Do I know
him! Yes, yes, yes!
Wangel (quickly). Well!
Ellida. Why, it is he, Wangel!—he himself! He who you
know!
Wangel. What! What is it you say? (Turning.) Are you the
Johnston who once...
The Stranger. You may call me Johnston for aught I care!
However, that’s not my name,
Wangel. It is not?
The Stranger. It is—no longer. No!
Wangel. And what may you want with my wife? For I
suppose you know the lighthouse-keeper’s daughter has
been married this long time, and whom she married, you
of course also know.
The Stranger. I’ve known it over three years.
Ellida (eagerly). How did you come to know it?
The Stranger. I was on my way home to you, Ellida. I
came across an old newspaper. It was a paper from these
parts, and in it there was that about the marriage.
Ellida (looking straight in front of her). The marriage! So
it was that!
The Stranger. It seemed so wonderful to me. For the
rings—why that, too, was a marriage, Ellida.
Ellida (covering her face with her hands). Oh!—Wangel.
How dare you?
The Stranger. Have you forgotten that?
Ellida (feeling his look, suddenly cries out). Don’t stand
there and look at me like that!
Wangel (goes up to him). You must deal with me, and
not with her. In short—now that you know the circumstances—
what is it you really want here? Why do you seek
my wife?
The Stranger. I promised Ellida to come to her as soon as
I could.
Wangel. Ellida, again!—
The Stranger. And Ellida promised faithfully she would
wait for me until I came.
Wangel. I notice you call my wife by her first name. This
kind of familiarity is not customary with us here.
The Stranger. I know that perfectly. But as she first, and
above all, belongs to me—
Wangel. To you, still—
Ellida (draws back behind WANGEL). Oh! he will never
release me!
Wangel. To you? You say she belongs to you?
The Stranger. Has she told you anything about the two
rings—my ring and Ellida’s?
Wangel. Certainly. And what then? She put an end to
that long ago. You have had her letters, so you know this
yourself.
The Stranger. Both Ellida and I agreed that what we did
should have all the strength and authority of a real and
full marriage.
Ellida. But you hear, I will not! Never on earth do I wish
to know anything more of you. Do not look at me like
that. I will not, I tell you!
Wangel. You must be mad to think you can come here,
and base any claim upon such childish nonsense.
The Stranger. That’s true. A claim, in your sense, I certainly
have not.
Wangel. What do you mean to do, then? You surely do
not imagine you can take her from me by force, against
her own will?
The Stranger. No. What would be the good of that? If
Ellida wishes to be with me she must come freely.
Ellida (starts, crying out). Freely!
Wangel. And you actually believe that—
Ellida (to herself). Freely!
Wangel. You must have taken leave of your senses! Go
your ways. We have nothing more to do with you.
The Stranger (looking at his watch). It is almost time for
me to go on board again. (Coming nearer.) Yes, yes, Ellida,
now I have done my duty. (Coming still nearer.) I have
kept the word I gave you.
Ellida (beseechingly drawing away). Oh! don’t touch me!
The Stranger. And so now you must think it over till
tomorrow night—
Wangel. There is nothing to think over here. See that you
get away.
The Stranger (still to ELLIDA). Now I’m going with the
steamer up the fjord. Tomorrow night I will come again,
and then I shall look for you here. You must wait for me
here in the garden, for I prefer settling the matter with
you alone; you understand?
Ellida (in low, trembling tone). Do you hear that, Wangel?
Wangel. Only keep calm. We shall know how to prevent
this visit.
The Stranger. Goodbye for the present, Ellida. So tomorrow
night—
Ellida (imploringly). Oh! no, no! Do not come tomorrow
night! Never come here again!
The Stranger. And should you then have a mind to follow
me over the seas—
Ellida. Oh, don’t look at me like that!
The Stranger. I only mean that you must then be ready
to set out.
Wangel. Go up to the house, Ellida.
Ellida. I cannot! Oh, help me! Save me, Wangel!
The Stranger. For you must remember that if you do not
go with me tomorrow, all is at an end.
Ellida (looks tremblingly at him). Then all is at an end?
Forever?
The Stranger (nodding). Nothing can change it then,
Ellida. I shall never again come to this land. You will
never see me again, nor hear from me either. Then I shall
be as one dead and gone from you forever.
Ellida (breathing with difficulty). Oh!
The Stranger. So think carefully what you do. Goodbye!
(He goes to the fence and climbs over it, stands still, and
says.) Yes, Ellida; be ready for the journey tomorrow night.
For then I shall come and fetch you. (He goes slowly and
calmly down the footpath to the right.)
Ellida (looking after him for a time). Freely, he said;
think—he said that I must go with him freely!
Wangel. Only keep calm. Why, he’s gone now, and you’ll
never see him again.
Ellida. Oh! how can you say that? He’s coming again
tomorrow night!
Wangel. Let him come. He shall not meet you again in
any case.
Ellida (shaking her head). Ah, Wangel! Do not believe you
can prevent him.
Wangel. I can, dearest; only trust me.
Ellida (pondering, and not listening to him). Now when
he’s been here tomorrow night—and then when he has
gone over seas in the steamer—
Wangel. Yes; what then?
Ellida. I should like to know if he will never, never come
back again.
Wangel. No, dear Ellida. You may be quite sure of that.
What should he do here after this? Now that he has learnt
from your own lips that you will have nothing more to do
with him. With that the whole thing is over.
Ellida (to herself). Tomorrow, then, or never!
Wangel. And should it ever occur to him to come here
again—
Ellida. Well?
Wangel. Why, then, it is in our power to make him harmless.
Ellida. Oh! do not think that!
Wangel. It is in our power, I tell you. If you can get rid
of him in no other way, he must expiate the murder of the
captain.
Ellida (passionately). No, no, no! Never that! We know
nothing about the murder of the captain! Nothing whatever!
Wangel. Know nothing? Why, he himself confessed it to
you!
Ellida. No, nothing of that. If you say anything of it I
shall deny it. He shall not be imprisoned. He belongs out
there—to the open sea. He belongs out there!
Wangel (looks at her and says slowly). Ah! Ellida—Ellida!
Ellida (clinging passionately to him). Oh! dear, faithful
one—save me from this man!
Wangel (disengaging himself gently). Come, come with
me! (LYNGSTRAND and HILDE, both with fishing tackle,
come in from the right, along the pond.)
Lyngstrand (going quickly up to ELLIDA). Now, Mrs.
Wangel, you must hear something wonderful.
Wangel. What is it?
Lyngstrand. Fancy! We’ve seen the American!
Wangel. The American?
Hilde. Yes, I saw him, too.
Lyngstrand. He was going round the back of the garden,
and thence on board the great English steamer.
Wangel. How do you know the man?
Lyngstrand. Why, I went to sea with him once. I felt so
certain he’d been drowned—and now he’s very much alive!
Wangel. Do you know anything more about him?
Lyngstrand. No. But I’m sure he’s come to revenge himself
upon his faithless sailor-wife.
Wangel. What do you mean?
Hilde. Lyngstrand’s going to use him for a work of art.
Wangel. I don’t understand one word.
Ellida. You shall hear afterwards.
(ARNHOLM and BOLETTE come from the left along the
footpath outside the garden.)
Bolette (to those in the garden). Do come and see! The
great English steamer’s just going up the fjord.
(A large steamer glides slowly past in the distance.)
Lyngstrand (to HILDE behind the garden fence). Tonight
he’s sure to come to her.
Hilde (nods). To the faithless sailor-wife—yes.
Lyngstrand. Fancy, at midnight!
Hilde. That must be so fascinating.
Ellida (looking after the ship). Tomorrow, then!
Wangel. And then never again.
Ellida (in a low, imploring tone). Oh! Wangel, save me
from myself!
Wangel (looks anxiously at her). Ellida—I feel there is
something behind this—
Ellida. There is—the temptation!
Wangel. Temptation?
Ellida. The man is like the sea!
(She goes slowly and thoughtfully through the garden,
and out to the left. WANGEL walks uneasily by her side,
watching her closely.)
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