Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

Part 2 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

eye upon him. Oh, you will promise me that, Mr. Tesman--won't you?

TESMAN.

With the greatest of pleasure, Mrs. Rysing---

HEDDA.

Elvsted.

TESMAN.

I assure you I shall do all I possibly can for Eilert. You may rely
upon me.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, how very, very kind of you! [Presses his hands.] Thanks, thanks,
thanks! [Frightened.] You see, my husband is so very fond of him!

HEDDA.

[Rising.] You ought to write to him, Tesman. Perhaps he may not care
to come to you of his own accord.

TESMAN.

Well, perhaps it would be the right thing to do, Hedda? Eh?

HEDDA.

And the sooner the better. Why not at once?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Imploringly.] Oh, if you only would!

TESMAN.

I'll write this moment. Have you his address, Mrs.--Mrs. Elvsted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes. [Takes a slip of paper from her pocket, and hands it to him.]
Here it is.

TESMAN.

Good, good. Then I'll go in--- [Looks about him.] By-the-bye,--my
slippers? Oh, here. [Takes the packet and is about to go.

HEDDA.

Be sure you write him a cordial, friendly letter. And a good long
one too.

TESMAN.

Yes, I will.

MRS. ELVSTED.

But please, please don't say a word to show that I have suggested it.

TESMAN.

No, how could you think I would? Eh?
[He goes out to the right, through the inner room.

HEDDA.

[Goes up to MRS. ELVSTED, smiles, and says in a low voice.] There!
We have killed two birds with one stone.

MRS. ELVSTED.

What do you mean?

HEDDA.

Could you not see that I wanted him to go?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, to write the letter---

HEDDA.

And that I might speak to you alone.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Confused.] About the same thing?

HEDDA.

Precisely.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Apprehensively.] But there is nothing more, Mrs. Tesman! Absolutely
nothing!

HEDDA.

Oh yes, but there is. There is a great deal more--I can see that.
Sit here--and we'll have a cosy, confidential chat.
[She forces MRS. ELVSTED to sit in the easy-chair beside the
stove, and seats herself on one of the footstools.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Anxiously, looking at her watch.] But, my dear Mrs. Tesman--I was
really on the point of going.

HEDDA.

Oh, you can't be in such a hurry.--Well? Now tell me something about
your life at home.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, that is just what I care least to speak about.

HEDDA.

But to me, dear---? Why, weren't we schoolfellows?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, but you were in the class above me. Oh, how dreadfully afraid
of you I was then!

HEDDA.

Afraid of me?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, dreadfully. For when we met on the stairs you used always to
pull my hair.

HEDDA.

Did I, really?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, and once you said you would burn it off my head.

HEDDA.

Oh that was all nonsense, of course.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, but I was so silly in those days.--And since then, too--we have
drifted so far--far apart from each other. Our circles have been so
entirely different.

HEDDA.

Well then, we must try to drift together again. Now listen. At
school we said _du_(4) to each other; and we called each other by
our Christian names---

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, I am sure you must be mistaken.

HEDDA.

No, not at all! I can remember quite distinctly. So now we are
going to renew our old friendship. [Draws the footstool closer to
MRS. ELVSTED.] There now! [Kisses her cheek.] You must say _du_
to me and call me Hedda.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Presses and pats her hands.] Oh, how good and kind you are! I am
not used to such kindness.

HEDDA.

There, there, there! And I shall say _du_ to you, as in the old days,
and call you my dear Thora.

MRS. ELVSTED.

My name is Thea.(5)

HEDDA.

Why, of course! I meant Thea. [Looks at her compassionately.] So
you are not accustomed to goodness and kindness, Thea? Not in your
own home?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, if I only had a home! But I haven't any; I have never had a home.

HEDDA.

[Looks at her for a moment.] I almost suspected as much.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Gazing helplessly before her.] Yes--yes--yes.

HEDDA.

I don't quite remember--was it not as housekeeper that you first went
to Mr. Elvsted's?

MRS. ELVSTED.

I really went as governess. But his wife--his late wife--was an
invalid,--and rarely left her room. So I had to look after the
housekeeping as well.

HEDDA.

And then--at last--you became mistress of the house.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Sadly.] Yes, I did.

HEDDA.

Let me see--about how long ago was that?

MRS. ELVSTED.

My marriage?

HEDDA.

Yes.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Five years ago.

HEDDA.

To be sure; it must be that.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh those five years---! Or at all events the last two or three of
them! Oh, if you(6) could only imagine---

HEDDA.

[Giving her a little slap on the hand.] De? Fie, Thea!

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes, I will try---. Well, if--you could only imagine and
understand---

HEDDA.

[Lightly.] Eilert Lovborg has been in your neighbourhood about three
years, hasn't he?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Looks at here doubtfully.] Eilert Lovborg? Yes--he has.

HEDDA.

Had you known him before, in town here?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Scarcely at all. I mean--I knew him by name of course.

HEDDA.

But you saw a good deal of him in the country?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, he came to us every day. You see, he gave the children lessons;
for in the long run I couldn't manage it all myself.

HEDDA.

No, that's clear.--And your husband---? I suppose he is often away
from home?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes. Being sheriff, you know, he has to travel about a good deal in
his district.

HEDDA.

[Leaning against the arm of the chair.] Thea--my poor, sweet Thea--
now you must tell me everything--exactly as it stands.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Well, then you must question me.

HEDDA.

What sort of a man is your husband, Thea? I mean--you know--in
everyday life. Is he kind to you?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Evasively.] I am sure he means well in everything.

HEDDA.

I should think he must be altogether too old for you. There is at
least twenty years' difference between you, is there not?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Irritably.] Yes, that is true, too. Everything about him is
repellent to me! We have not a thought in common. We have no
single point of sympathy--he and I.

HEDDA.

But is he not fond of you all the same? In his own way?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh I really don't know. I think he regards me simply as a useful
property. And then it doesn't cost much to keep me. I am not
expensive.

HEDDA.

That is stupid of you.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Shakes her head.] It cannot be otherwise--not with him. I don't
think he really cares for any one but himself--and perhaps a little
for the children.

HEDDA.

And for Eilert Lovborg, Thea?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Looking at her.] For Eilert Lovborg? What puts that into your head?

HEDDA.

Well, my dear--I should say, when he sends you after him all the way
to town--- [Smiling almost imperceptibly.] And besides, you said so
yourself, to Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[With a little nervous twitch.] Did I? Yes, I suppose I did.
[Vehemently, but not loudly.] No--I may just as well make a clean
breast of it at once! For it must all come out in any case.

HEDDA.

Why, my dear Thea---?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Well, to make a long story short: My husband did not know that I was
coming.

HEDDA.

What! Your husband didn't know it!

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, of course not. For that matter, he was away from home himself--
he was travelling. Oh, I could bear it no longer, Hedda! I couldn't
indeed--so utterly alone as I should have been in future.

HEDDA.

Well? And then?

MRS. ELVSTED.

So I put together some of my things--what I needed most--as quietly
as possible. And then I left the house.

HEDDA.

Without a word?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes--and took the train to town.

HEDDA.

Why, my dear, good Thea--to think of you daring to do it!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Rises and moves about the room.] What else could I possibly do?

HEDDA.

But what do you think your husband will say when you go home again?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[At the table, looks at her.] Back to him?

HEDDA.

Of course.

MRS. ELVSTED.

I shall never go back to him again.

HEDDA.

[Rising and going towards her.] Then you have left your home--for
good and all?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes. There was nothing else to be done.

HEDDA.

But then--to take flight so openly.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, it's impossible to keep things of that sort secret.

HEDDA.

But what do you think people will say of you, Thea?

MRS. ELVSTED.

They may say what they like, for aught _I_ care. [Seats herself
wearily and sadly on the sofa.] I have done nothing but what I
had to do.

HEDDA.

[After a short silence.] And what are your plans now? What do you
think of doing.

MRS. ELVSTED.

I don't know yet. I only know this, that I must live here, where
Eilert Lovborg is--if I am to live at all.

HEDDA.

[Takes a chair from the table, seats herself beside her, and strokes
her hands.] My dear Thea--how did this--this friendship--between you
and Eilert Lovborg come about?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh it grew up gradually. I gained a sort of influence over him.

HEDDA.

Indeed?

MRS. ELVSTED.

He gave up his old habits. Not because I asked him to, for I never
dared do that. But of course he saw how repulsive they were to me;
and so he dropped them.

HEDDA.

[Concealing an involuntary smile of scorn.] Then you have reclaimed
him--as the saying goes--my little Thea.

MRS. ELVSTED.

So he says himself, at any rate. And he, on his side, has made a
real human being of me--taught me to think, and to understand so
many things.

HEDDA.

Did he give you lessons too, then?

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, not exactly lessons. But he talked to me--talked about such an
infinity of things. And then came the lovely, happy time when I
began to share in his work--when he allowed me to help him!

HEDDA.

Oh he did, did he?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes! He never wrote anything without my assistance.

HEDDA.

You were two good comrades, in fact?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Eagerly.] Comrades! Yes, fancy, Hedda--that is the very word he
used!--Oh, I ought to feel perfectly happy; and yet I cannot; for I
don't know how long it will last.

HEDDA.

Are you no surer of him than that?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Gloomily.] A woman's shadow stands between Eilert Lovborg and me.

HEDDA.

[Looks at her anxiously.] Who can that be?

MRS. ELVSTED.

I don't know. Some one he knew in his--in his past. Some one he has
never been able wholly to forget.

HEDDA.

What has he told you--about this?

MRS. ELVSTED.

He has only once--quite vaguely--alluded to it.

HEDDA.

Well! And what did he say?

MRS. ELVSTED.

He said that when they parted, she threatened to shoot him with a
pistol.

HEDDA.

[With cold composure.] Oh nonsense! No one does that sort of thing
here.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No. And that is why I think it must have been that red-haired singing-
woman whom he once---

HEDDA.

Yes, very likely.

MRS. ELVSTED.

For I remember they used to say of her that she carried loaded
firearms.

HEDDA.

Oh--then of course it must have been she.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Wringing her hands.] And now just fancy, Hedda--I hear that this
singing-woman--that she is in town again! Oh, I don't know what to
do---

HEDDA.

[Glancing towards the inner room.] Hush! Here comes Tesman. [Rises
and whispers.] Thea--all this must remain between you and me.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Springing up.] Oh yes--yes! For heaven's sake---!

GEORGE TESMAN, with a letter in his hand, comes from the right
through the inner room.

TESMAN.

There now--the epistle is finished.

HEDDA.

That's right. And now Mrs. Elvsted is just going. Wait a moment--
I'll go with you to the garden gate.

TESMAN.

Do you think Berta could post the letter, Hedda dear?

HEDDA.

[Takes it.] I will tell her to.

BERTA enters from the hall.

BERTA.

Judge Brack wishes to know if Mrs. Tesman will receive him.

HEDDA.

Yes, ask Judge Brack to come in. And look here--put this letter in
the post.

BERTA. [Taking the letter.] Yes, ma'am.
[She opens the door for JUDGE BRACK and goes out herself. Brack
is a main of forty-five; thick set, but well-built and elastic
in his movements. His face is roundish with an aristocratic
profile. His hair is short, still almost black, and carefully
dressed. His eyebrows thick. His moustaches are also thick,
with short-cut ends. He wears a well-cut walking-suit, a
little too youthful for his age. He uses an eye-glass, which
he now and then lets drop.

JUDGE BRACK.

[With his hat in his hand, bowing.] May one venture to call so early
in the day?

HEDDA.

Of course one may.

TESMAN.

[Presses his hand.] You are welcome at any time. [Introducing him.]
Judge Brack--Miss Rysing---

HEDDA.

Oh---!

BRACK.

[Bowing.] Ah--delighted---

HEDDA.

[Looks at him and laughs.] It's nice to have a look at you by
daylight, Judge!

BRACK.

So you find me--altered?

HEDDA.

A little younger, I think.

BRACK.

Thank you so much.

TESMAN.

But what do you think of Hedda--eh? Doesn't she look flourishing?
She has actually---

HEDDA.

Oh, do leave me alone. You haven't thanked Judge Brack for all the
trouble he has taken---

BRACK.

Oh, nonsense--it was a pleasure to me---

HEDDA.

Yes, you are a friend indeed. But here stands Thea all impatience to
be off--so _au revoir_ Judge. I shall be back again presently.
[Mutual salutations. MRS. ELVSTED and HEDDA go out by the hall
door.

BRACK.

Well,--is your wife tolerably satisfied---

TESMAN.

Yes, we can't thank you sufficiently. Of course she talks of a little
re-arrangement here and there; and one or two things are still wanting.
We shall have to buy some additional trifles.

BRACK.

Indeed!

TESMAN.

But we won't trouble you about these things. Hedda say she herself
will look after what is wanting.--Shan't we sit down? Eh?

BRACK.

Thanks, for a moment. [Seats himself beside the table.] There is
something I wanted to speak to about, my dear Tesman.

TESMAN.

Indeed? Ah, I understand! [Seating himself.] I suppose it's the
serious part of the frolic that is coming now. Eh?

BRACK.

Oh, the money question is not so very pressing; though, for that
matter, I wish we had gone a little more economically to work.

TESMAN.

But that would never have done, you know! Think of Hedda, my dear
fellow! You, who know her so well---! I couldn't possibly ask her
to put up with a shabby style of living!

BRACK.

No, no--that is just the difficulty.

TESMAN.

And then--fortunately--it can't be long before I receive my
appointment.

BRACK.

Well, you see--such things are often apt to hang fire for a long time.

TESMAN.

Have you heard anything definite? Eh?

BRACK.

Nothing exactly definite---. [Interrupting himself.] But by-the-bye
--I have one piece of news for you.

TESMAN.

Well?

BRACK.

Your old friend, Eilert Lovborg, has returned to town.

TESMAN.

I know that already.

BRACK.

Indeed! How did you learn it?

TESMAN.

From that lady who went out with Hedda.

BRACK.

Really? What was her name? I didn't quite catch it.

TESMAN.

Mrs. Elvsted.

BRACK.

Aha--Sheriff Elvsted's wife? Of course--he has been living up in
their regions.

TESMAN.

And fancy--I'm delighted to hear that he is quite a reformed character.

BRACK.

So they say.

TESMAN.

And then he has published a new book--eh?

BRACK.

Yes, indeed he has.

TESMAN.

And I hear it has made some sensation!

BRACK.

Quite an unusual sensation.

TESMAN.

Fancy--isn't that good news! A man of such extraordinary talents---.
I felt so grieved to think that he had gone irretrievably to ruin.

BRACK.

That was what everybody thought.

TESMAN.

But I cannot imagine what he will take to now! How in the world will
he be able to make his living? Eh?
[During the last words, HEDDA has entered by the hall door.

HEDDA.

[To BRACK, laughing with a touch of scorn.] Tesman is for ever
worrying about how people are to make their living.

TESMAN.

Well you see, dear--we were talking about poor Eilert Lovborg.

HEDDA.

[Glancing at him rapidly.] Oh, indeed? [Sets herself in the arm-
chair beside the stove and asks indifferently:] What is the matter
with him?

TESMAN.

Well--no doubt he has run through all his property long ago; and he
can scarcely write a new book every year--eh? So I really can't see
what is to become of him.

BRACK.

Perhaps I can give you some information on that point.

TESMAN.

Indeed!

BRACK.

You must remember that his relations have a good deal of influence.

TESMAN.

Oh, his relations, unfortunately, have entirely washed their hands of
him.

BRACK.

At one time they called him the hope of the family.

TESMAN.

At one time, yes! But he has put an end to all that.

HEDDA.

Who knows? [With a slight smile.] I hear they have reclaimed him up
at Sheriff Elvsted's---

BRACK.

And then this book that he has published---

TESMAN.

Well well, I hope to goodness they may find something for him to
do. I have just written to him. I asked him to come and see us
this evening, Hedda dear.

BRACK.

But my dear fellow, you are booked for my bachelor's party this
evening. You promised on the pier last night.

HEDDA.

Had you forgotten, Tesman?

TESMAN.

Yes, I had utterly forgotten.

BRACK.

But it doesn't matter, for you may be sure he won't come.

TESMAN.

What makes you think that? Eh?

BRACK.

[With a little hesitation, rising and resting his hands on the back
of his chair.] My dear Tesman--and you too, Mrs. Tesman--I think I
ought not to keep you in the dark about something that--that---

TESMAN.

That concerns Eilert---?

BRACK.

Both you and him.

TESMAN.

Well, my dear Judge, out with it.

BRACK.

You must be prepared to find your appointment deferred longer than
you desired or expected.

TESMAN.

[Jumping up uneasily.] Is there some hitch about it? Eh?

BRACK.

The nomination may perhaps be made conditional on the result of a
competition---

TESMAN.

Competition! Think of that, Hedda!

HEDDA.

[Leans further back in the chair.] Aha--aha!

TESMAN.

But who can my competitor be? Surely not---?

BRACK.

Yes, precisely--Eilert Lovborg.

TESMAN.

[Clasping his hands.] No, no--it's quite impossible! Eh?

BRACK.

H'm--that is what it may come to, all the same.

TESMAN.

Well but, Judge Brack--it would show the most incredible lack of
consideration for me. [Gesticulates with his arms.] For--just
think--I'm a married man! We have married on the strength of these
prospects, Hedda and I; and run deep into debt; and borrowed money
from Aunt Julia too. Good heavens, they had as good as promised me
the appointment. Eh?

BRACK.

Well, well, well--no doubt you will get it in the end; only after a
contest.

HEDDA.

[Immovable in her arm-chair.] Fancy, Tesman, there will be a sort of
sporting interest in that.

TESMAN.

Why, my dearest Hedda, how can you be so indifferent about it?

HEDDA.

[As before.] I am not at all indifferent. I am most eager to see
who wins.

BRACK.

In any case, Mrs. Tesman, it is best that you should know how matters
stand. I mean--before you set about the little purchases I hear you
are threatening.

HEDDA.

This can make no difference.

BRACK.

Indeed! Then I have no more to say. Good-bye! [To TESMAN.] I shall
look in on my way back from my afternoon walk, and take you home with
me.

TESMAN.

Oh yes, yes--your news has quite upset me.

HEDDA.

[Reclining, holds out her hand.] Good-bye, Judge; and be sure you
call in the afternoon.

BRACK.

Many thanks. Good-bye, good-bye!

TESMAN.

[Accompanying him to the door.] Good-bye my dear Judge! You must
really excuse me--- [JUDGE BRACK goes out by the hall door.

TESMAN.

[Crosses the room.] Oh Hedda--one should never rush into adventures.
Eh?

HEDDA.

[Looks at him, smiling.] Do you do that?

TESMAN.

Yes, dear--there is no denying--it was adventurous to go and marry
and set up house upon mere expectations.

HEDDA.

Perhaps you are right there.

TESMAN.

Well--at all events, we have our delightful home, Hedda! Fancy, the
home we both dreamed of--the home we were in love with, I may almost
say. Eh?

HEDDA.

[Rising slowly and wearily.] It was part of our compact that we were
to go into society--to keep open house.

TESMAN.

Yes, if you only knew how I had been looking forward to it! Fancy--
to see you as hostess--in a select circle! Eh? Well, well, well--
for the present we shall have to get on without society, Hedda--only
to invite Aunt Julia now and then.--Oh, I intended you to lead such
an utterly different life, dear---!

HEDDA.

Of course I cannot have my man in livery just yet.

TESMAN.

Oh, no, unfortunately. It would be out of the question for us to
keep a footman, you know.

HEDDA.

And the saddle-horse I was to have had---

TESMAN.

[Aghast.] The saddle-horse!

HEDDA.

---I suppose I must not think of that now.

TESMAN.

Good heavens, no!--that's as clear as daylight!

HEDDA.

[Goes up the room.] Well, I shall have one thing at least to kill
time with in the meanwhile.

TESMAN.

[Beaming.] Oh thank heaven for that! What is it, Hedda. Eh?

HEDDA.

[In the middle doorway, looks at him with covert scorn.] My pistols,
George.

TESMAN.

[In alarm.] Your pistols!

HEDDA.

[With cold eyes.] General Gabler's pistols.
[She goes out through the inner room, to the left.

TESMAN.

[Rushes up to the middle doorway and calls after her:] No, for
heaven's sake, Hedda darling--don't touch those dangerous things!
For my sake Hedda! Eh?

ACT SECOND.

The room at the TESMANS' as in the first Act, except that the
piano has been removed, and an elegant little writing-table
with the book-shelves put in its place. A smaller table
stands near the sofa on the left. Most of the bouquets have
been taken away. MRS. ELVSTED'S bouquet is upon the large
table in front.--It is afternoon.

HEDDA, dressed to receive callers, is alone in the room. She
stands by the open glass door, loading a revolver. The
fellow to it lies in an open pistol-case on the writing-
table.

HEDDA.

[Looks down the garden, and calls:] So you are here again, Judge!

BRACK.

[Is heard calling from a distance.] As you see, Mrs. Tesman!

HEDDA.

[Raises the pistol and points.] Now I'll shoot you, Judge Brack!

BRACK.

[Calling unseen.] No, no, no! Don't stand aiming at me!

HEDDA.

This is what comes of sneaking in by the back way.(7) [She fires.

BRACK.

[Nearer.] Are you out of your senses---!

HEDDA.

Dear me--did I happen to hit you?

BRACK.

[Still outside.] I wish you would let these pranks alone!

HEDDA.

Come in then, Judge.

JUDGE BRACK, dressed as though for a men's party, enters by
the glass door. He carries a light overcoat over his arm.

BRACK.

What the deuce--haven't you tired of that sport, yet? What are you
shooting at?

HEDDA.

Oh, I am only firing in the air.

BRACK.

[Gently takes the pistol out of her hand.] Allow me, madam! [Looks
at it.] Ah--I know this pistol well! [Looks around.] Where is the
case? Ah, here it is. [Lays the pistol in it, and shuts it.] Now
we won't play at that game any more to-day.

HEDDA.

Then what in heaven's name would you have me do with myself?

BRACK.

Have you had no visitors?

HEDDA.

[Closing the glass door.] Not one. I suppose all our set are still
out of town.

BRACK.

And is Tesman not at home either?

HEDDA.

[At the writing-table, putting the pistol-case in a drawer which she
shuts.] No. He rushed off to his aunt's directly after lunch; he
didn't expect you so early.

BRACK.

H'm--how stupid of me not to have thought of that!

HEDDA.

[Turning her head to look at him.] Why stupid?

BRACK.

Because if I had thought of it I should have come a little--earlier.

HEDDA.

[Crossing the room.] Then you would have found no one to receive you;
for I have been in my room changing my dress ever since lunch.

BRACK.

And is there no sort of little chink that we could hold a parley
through?

HEDDA.

You have forgotten to arrange one.

BRACK.

That was another piece of stupidity.

HEDDA.

Well, we must just settle down here--and wait. Tesman is not likely
to be back for some time yet.

BRACK.

Never mind; I shall not be impatient.

HEDDA seats herself in the corner of the sofa. BRACK lays his
overcoat over the back of the nearest chair, and sits down, but
keeps his hat in his hand. A short silence. They look at each
other.

HEDDA.

Well?

BRACK.

[In the same tone.] Well?

HEDDA.

I spoke first.

BRACK.

[Bending a little forward.] Come, let us have a cosy little chat,
Mrs. Hedda.(8)

HEDDA.

[Leaning further back in the sofa.] Does it not seem like a whole
eternity since our last talk? Of course I don't count those few
words yesterday evening and this morning.

BRACK.

You mean since out last confidential talk? Our last _tete-a-tete_?

HEDDA.

Well yes--since you put it so.

BRACK.

Not a day passed but I have wished that you were home again.

HEDDA.

And I have done nothing but wish the same thing.

BRACK.

You? Really, Mrs. Hedda? And I thought you had been enjoying your
tour so much!

HEDDA.

Oh yes, you may be sure of that!

BRACK.

But Tesman's letters spoke of nothing but happiness.

HEDDA.

Oh, Tesman! You see, he thinks nothing is so delightful as grubbing
in libraries and making copies of old parchments, or whatever you
call them.

BRACK.

[With a smile of malice.] Well, that is his vocation in life--or
part of it at any rate.

HEDDA.

Yes, of course; and no doubt when it's your vocation---. But _I_!
Oh, my dear Mr. Brack, how mortally bored I have been.

BRACK.

[Sympathetically.] Do you really say so? In downright earnest?

HEDDA.

Yes, you can surely understand it---! To go for six whole months
without meeting a soul that knew anything of our circle, or could
talk about things we were interested in.

BRACK.

Yes, yes--I too should feel that a deprivation.

HEDDA.

And then, what I found most intolerable of all---

BRACK.

Well?

HEDDA.

---was being everlastingly in the company of--one and the same person--

BRACK.

[With a nod of assent.] Morning, noon, and night, yes--at all possible
times and seasons.

HEDDA.

I said "everlastingly."

BRACK.

Just so. But I should have thought, with our excellent Tesman, one
could---

HEDDA.

Tesman is--a specialist, my dear Judge.

BRACK.

Undeniable.

HEDDA.

And specialists are not at all amusing to travel with. Not in the
long run at any rate.

BRACK.

Not even--the specialist one happens to love?

HEDDA.

Faugh--don't use that sickening word!

BRACK.

[Taken aback.] What do you say, Mrs. Hedda?

HEDDA.

[Half laughing, half irritated.] You should just try it! To hear of
nothing but the history of civilisation, morning, noon, and night---

BRACK.

Everlastingly.

HEDDA.

Yes yes yes! And then all this about the domestic industry of the
middle ages---! That's the most disgusting part of it!

BRACK.

[Looks searchingly at her.] But tell me--in that case, how am I to
understand your---? H'm---

HEDDA.

My accepting George Tesman, you mean?

BRACK.

Well, let us put it so.

HEDDA.

Good heavens, do you see anything so wonderful in that?

BRACK.

Yes and no--Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA.

I had positively danced myself tired, my dear Judge. My day was done
--- [With a slight shudder.] Oh no--I won't say that; nor think it
either!

BRACK.

You have assuredly no reason to.

HEDDA.

Oh, reasons--- [Watching him closely.] And George Tesman--after all,
you must admit that he is correctness itself.

BRACK.

His correctness and respectability are beyond all question.

HEDDA.

And I don't see anything absolutely ridiculous about him.--Do you?

BRACK.

Ridiculous? N--no--I shouldn't exactly say so---

HEDDA.

Well--and his powers of research, at all events, are untiring.--I see
no reason why he should not one day come to the front, after all.

BRACK.

[Looks at her hesitatingly.] I thought that you, like every one else,
expected him to attain the highest distinction.

HEDDA.

[With an expression of fatigue.] Yes, so I did.--And then, since he
was bent, at all hazards, on being allowed to provide for me--I really
don't know why I should not have accepted his offer?

BRACK.

No--if you look at it in that light---

HEDDA.

It was more than my other adorers were prepared to do for me, my dear
Judge.

BRACK.

[Laughing.] Well, I can't answer for all the rest; but as for
myself, you know quite well that I have always entertained a--a
certain respect for the marriage tie--for marriage as an institution,
Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA.

[Jestingly.] Oh, I assure you I have never cherished any hopes with
respect to you.

BRACK.

All I require is a pleasant and intimate interior, where I can make
myself useful in every way, and am free to come and go as--as a
trusted friend---

HEDDA.

Of the master of the house, do you mean?

BRACK.

[Bowing.] Frankly--of the mistress first of all; but of course of
the master too, in the second place. Such a triangular friendship--
if I may call it so--is really a great convenience for all the
parties, let me tell you.

HEDDA.

Yes, I have many a time longed for some one to make a third on our
travels. Oh--those railway-carriage _tete-a-tetes_---!

BRACK.

Fortunately your wedding journey is over now.

HEDDA.

[Shaking her head.] Not by a long--long way. I have only arrived at
a station on the line.

BRACK.

Well, then the passengers jump out and move about a little, Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA.

I never jump out.

BRACK.

Really?

HEDDA.

No--because there is always some one standing by to---

BRACK.

[Laughing.] To look at your ankles, do you mean?

HEDDA.

Precisely.

BRACK.

Well but, dear me---

HEDDA.

[With a gesture of repulsion.] I won't have it. I would rather keep
my seat where I happen to be--and continue the _tete-a-tete_.

BRACK.

But suppose a third person were to jump in and join the couple.

HEDDA.

Ah--that is quite another matter!

BRACK.

A trusted, sympathetic friend---

HEDDA.

---with a fund of conversation on all sorts of lively topics---

BRACK.

---and not the least bit of a specialist!

HEDDA.

[With an audible sigh.] Yes, that would be a relief indeed.

BRACK.

[Hears the front door open, and glances in that direction.] The
triangle is completed.

HEDDA.

[Half aloud.] And on goes the train.

GEORGE TESMAN, in a grey walking-suit, with a soft felt hat,
enters from the hall. He has a number of unbound books under
his arm and in his pockets.

TESMAN.

[Goes up to the table beside the corner settee.] Ouf--what a load
for a warm day--all these books. [Lays them on the table.] I'm
positively perspiring, Hedda. Hallo--are you there already, my dear
Judge? Eh? Berta didn't tell me.

BRACK.

[Rising.] I came in through the garden.

HEDDA.

What books have you got there?

TESMAN.

[Stands looking them through.] Some new books on my special subjects
--quite indispensable to me.

HEDDA.

Your special subjects?

BRACK.

Yes, books on his special subjects, Mrs. Tesman.
[BRACK and HEDDA exchange a confidential smile.

HEDDA.

Do you need still more books on your special subjects?

TESMAN.

Yes, my dear Hedda, one can never have too many of them. Of course
one must keep up with all that is written and published.

HEDDA.

Yes, I suppose one must.

TESMAN.

[Searching among his books.] And look here--I have got hold of Eilert
Lovborg's new book too. [Offering it to her.] Perhaps you would like
to glance through it, Hedda? Eh?

HEDDA.

No, thank you. Or rather--afterwards perhaps.

Book of the day: