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Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

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TESMAN.

I looked into it a little on the way home.

BRACK.

Well, what do you think of it--as a specialist?

TESMAN.

I think it shows quite remarkable soundness of judgment. He never
wrote like that before. [Putting the books together.] Now I shall
take all these into my study. I'm longing to cut the leaves---!
And then I must change my clothes. [To BRACK.] I suppose we needn't
start just yet? Eh?

BRACK.

Oh, dear no--there is not the slightest hurry.

TESMAN.

Well then, I will take my time. [Is going with his books, but stops
in the doorway and turns.] By-the-bye, Hedda--Aunt Julia is not
coming this evening.

HEDDA.

Not coming? Is it that affair of the bonnet that keeps her away?

TESMAN.

Oh, not at all. How could you think such a thing of Aunt Julia?
Just fancy---! The fact is, Aunt Rina is very ill.

HEDDA.

She always is.

TESMAN.

Yes, but to-day she is much worse than usual, poor dear.

HEDDA.

Oh, then it's only natural that her sister should remain with her.
I must bear my disappointment.

TESMAN.

And you can't imagine, dear, how delighted Aunt Julia seemed to be--
because you had come home looking so flourishing!

HEDDA.

[Half aloud, rising.] Oh, those everlasting Aunts!

TESMAN.

What?

HEDDA.

[Going to the glass door.] Nothing.

TESMAN.

Oh, all right. [He goes through the inner room, out to the right.

BRACK.

What bonnet were you talking about?

HEDDA.

Oh, it was a little episode with Miss Tesman this morning. She had
laid down her bonnet on the chair there--[Looks at him and smiles.]--
and I pretended to think it was the servant's.

BRACK.

[Shaking his head.] Now my dear Mrs. Hedda, how could you do such a
thing? To the excellent old lady, too!

HEDDA.

[Nervously crossing the room.] Well, you see--these impulses come
over me all of a sudden; and I cannot resist them. [Throws herself
down in the easy-chair by the stove.] Oh, I don't know how to
explain it.

BRACK.

[Behind the easy-chair.] You are not really happy--that is at the
bottom of it.

HEDDA.

[Looking straight before her.] I know of no reason why I should be--
happy. Perhaps you can give me one?

BRACK.

Well-amongst other things, because you have got exactly the home you
had set your heart on.

HEDDA.

[Looks up at him and laughs.] Do you too believe in that legend?

BRACK.

Is there nothing in it, then?

HEDDA.

Oh yes, there is something in it.

BRACK.

Well?

HEDDA.

There is this in it, that I made use of Tesman to see me home from
evening parties last summer---

BRACK.

I, unfortunately, had to go quite a different way.

HEDDA.

That's true. I know you were going a different way last summer.

BRACK.

[Laughing.] Oh fie, Mrs. Hedda! Well, then--you and Tesman---?

HEDDA.

Well, we happened to pass here one evening; Tesman, poor fellow, was
writhing in the agony of having to find conversation; so I took pity
on the learned man---

BRACK.

[Smiles doubtfully.] You took pity? H'm---

HEDDA.

Yes, I really did. And so--to help him out of his torment--I happened
to say, in pure thoughtlessness, that I should like to live in this
villa.

BRACK.

No more than that?

HEDDA.

Not that evening.

BRACK.

But afterwards?

HEDDA.

Yes, my thoughtlessness had consequences, my dear Judge.

BRACK.

Unfortunately that too often happens, Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA.

Thanks! So you see it was this enthusiasm for Secretary Falk's villa
that first constituted a bond of sympathy between George Tesman and
me. From that came our engagement and our marriage, and our wedding
journey, and all the rest of it. Well, well, my dear Judge--as you
make your bed so you must lie, I could almost say.

BRACK.

This is exquisite! And you really cared not a rap about it all the
time?

HEDDA.

No, heaven knows I didn't.

BRACK.

But now? Now that we have made it so homelike for you?

HEDDA.

Uh--the rooms all seem to smell of lavender and dried rose-leaves.--
But perhaps it's Aunt Julia that has brought that scent with her.

BRACK.

[Laughing.] No, I think it must be a legacy from the late Mrs.
Secretary Falk.

HEDDA.

Yes, there is an odour of mortality about it. It reminds me of a
bouquet--the day after the ball. [Clasps her hands behind her head,
leans back in her chair and looks at him.] Oh, my dear Judge--you
cannot imagine how horribly I shall bore myself here.

BRACK.

Why should not you, too, find some sort of vocation in life, Mrs.
Hedda?

HEDDA.

A vocation--that should attract me?

BRACK.

If possible, of course.

HEDDA.

Heaven knows what sort of a vocation that could be. I often wonder
whether--- [Breaking off.] But that would never do either.

BRACK.

Who can tell? Let me hear what it is.

HEDDA.

Whether I might not get Tesman to go into politics, I mean.

BRACK.

[Laughing.] Tesman? No really now, political life is not the thing
for him--not at all in his line.

HEDDA.

No, I daresay not.--But if I could get him into it all the same?

BRACK.

Why--what satisfaction could you find in that? If he is not fitted
for that sort of thing, why should you want to drive him into it?

HEDDA.

Because I am bored, I tell you! [After a pause.] So you think it
quite out of the question that Tesman should ever get into the
ministry?

BRACK.

H'm--you see, my dear Mrs. Hedda--to get into the ministry, he would
have to be a tolerably rich man.

HEDDA.

[Rising impatiently.] Yes, there we have it! It is this genteel
poverty I have managed to drop into---! [Crosses the room.] That is
what makes life so pitiable! So utterly ludicrous!--For that's what
it is.

BRACK.

Now _I_ should say the fault lay elsewhere.

HEDDA.

Where, then?

BRACK.

You have never gone through any really stimulating experience.

HEDDA.

Anything serious, you mean?

BRACK.

Yes, you may call it so. But now you may perhaps have one in store.

HEDDA.

[Tossing her head.] Oh, you're thinking of the annoyances about this
wretched professorship! But that must be Tesman's own affair. I
assure you I shall not waste a thought upon it.

BRACK.

No, no, I daresay not. But suppose now that what people call--in
elegant language--a solemn responsibility were to come upon you?
[Smiling.] A new responsibility, Mrs. Hedda?

HEDDA.

[Angrily.] Be quiet! Nothing of that sort will ever happen!

BRACK.

[Warily.] We will speak of this again a year hence--at the very
outside.

HEDDA.

[Curtly.] I have no turn for anything of the sort, Judge Brack. No
responsibilities for me!

BRACK.

Are you so unlike the generality of women as to have no turn for
duties which---?

HEDDA.

[Beside the glass door.] Oh, be quiet, I tell you!--I often think
there is only one thing in the world I have any turn for.

BRACK.

[Drawing near to her.] And what is that, if I may ask?

HEDDA.

[Stands looking out.] Boring myself to death. Now you know it.
[Turns, looks towards the inner room, and laughs.] Yes, as I thought!
Here comes the Professor.

BRACK.

[Softly, in a tone of warning.] Come, come, come, Mrs. Hedda!

GEORGE TESMAN, dressed for the party, with his gloves and hat
in his hand, enters from the right through the inner room.

TESMAN.

Hedda, has no message come from Eilert Lovborg? Eh?

HEDDA.

No.

TESMAN.

Then you'll see he'll be here presently.

BRACK.

Do you really think he will come?

TESMAN.

Yes, I am almost sure of it. For what you were telling us this
morning must have been a mere floating rumour.

BRACK.

You think so?

TESMAN.

At any rate, Aunt Julia said she did not believe for a moment that he
would ever stand in my way again. Fancy that!

BRACK.

Well then, that's all right.

TESMAN.

[Placing his hat and gloves on a chair on the right.] Yes, but you
must really let me wait for him as long as possible.

BRACK.

We have plenty of time yet. None of my guests will arrive before
seven or half-past.

TESMAN.

Then meanwhile we can keep Hedda company, and see what happens. Eh?

HEDDA.

[Placing BRACK'S hat and overcoat upon the corner settee.] And at
the worst Mr. Lovborg can remain here with me.

BRACK.

[Offering to take his things.] Oh, allow me, Mrs. Tesman!--What do
you mean by "At the worst"?

HEDDA.

If he won't go with you and Tesman.

TESMAN.

[Looks dubiously at her.] But, Hedda dear--do you think it would
quite do for him to remain here with you? Eh? Remember, Aunt Julia
can't come.

HEDDA.

No, but Mrs. Elvsted is coming. We three can have a cup of tea
together.

TESMAN.

Oh yes, that will be all right.

BRACK.

[Smiling.] And that would perhaps be the safest plan for him.

HEDDA.

Why so?

BRACK.

Well, you know, Mrs. Tesman, how you used to gird at my little
bachelor parties. You declared they were adapted only for men
of the strictest principles.

HEDDA.

But no doubt Mr. Lovborg's principles are strict enough now. A
converted sinner--- [BERTA appears at the hall door.

BERTA.

There's a gentleman asking if you are at home, ma'am---

HEDDA.

Well, show him in.

TESMAN.

[Softly.] I'm sure it is he! Fancy that!

EILERT LOVBORG enters from the hall. He is slim and lean;
of the same age as TESMAN, but looks older and somewhat
worn-out. His hair and beard are of a blackish brown, his
face long and pale, but with patches of colour on the cheeks.
He is dressed in a well-cut black visiting suit, quite new.
He has dark gloves and a silk hat. He stops near the door,
and makes a rapid bow, seeming somewhat embarrassed.

TESMAN.

[Goes up to him and shakes him warmly by the hand.] Well, my dear
Eilert--so at last we meet again!

EILERT LOVBORG.

[Speaks in a subdued voice.] Thanks for your letter, Tesman.
[Approaching HEDDA.] Will you too shake hands with me, Mrs. Tesman?

HEDDA.

[Taking his hand.] I am glad to see you, Mr. Lovborg. [With a
motion of her hand.] I don't know whether you two gentlemen---?

LOVBORG.

[Bowing slightly.] Judge Brack, I think.

BRACK.

[Doing likewise.] Oh yes,--in the old days---

TESMAN.

[To LOVBORG, with his hands on his shoulders.] And now you must make
yourself entirely at home, Eilert! Mustn't he, Hedda?--For I hear you
are going to settle in town again? Eh?

LOVBORG.

Yes, I am.

TESMAN.

Quite right, quite right. Let me tell you, I have got hold of your
new book; but I haven't had time to read it yet.

LOVBORG.

You may spare yourself the trouble.

TESMAN.

Why so?

LOVBORG.

Because there is very little in it.

TESMAN.

Just fancy--how can you say so?

BRACK.

But it has been very much praised, I hear.

LOVBORG.

That was what I wanted; so I put nothing into the book but what every
one would agree with.

BRACK.

Very wise of you.

TESMAN.

Well but, my dear Eilert---!

LOVBORG.

For now I mean to win myself a position again--to make a fresh start.

TESMAN.

[A little embarrassed.] Ah, that is what you wish to do? Eh?

LOVBORG.

[Smiling, lays down his hat, and draws a packet wrapped in paper,
from his coat pocket.] But when this one appears, George Tesman, you
will have to read it. For this is the real book--the book I have put
my true self into.

TESMAN.

Indeed? And what is it?

LOVBORG.

It is the continuation.

TESMAN.

The continuation? Of what?

LOVBORG.

Of the book.

TESMAN.

Of the new book?

LOVBORG.

Of course.

TESMAN.

Why, my dear Eilert--does it not come down to our own days?

LOVBORG.

Yes, it does; and this one deals with the future.

TESMAN.

With the future! But, good heavens, we know nothing of the future!

LOVBORG.

No; but there is a thing or two to be said about it all the same.
[Opens the packet.] Look here---

TESMAN.

Why, that's not your handwriting.

LOVBORG.

I dictated it. [Turning over the pages.] It falls into two sections.
The first deals with the civilising forces of the future. And here is
the second--[running through the pages towards the end]--forecasting
the probable line of development.

TESMAN.

How odd now! I should never have thought of writing anything of that
sort.

HEDDA.

[At the glass door, drumming on the pane.] H'm---. I daresay not.

LOVBORG.

[Replacing the manuscript in its paper and laying the packet on the
table.] I brought it, thinking I might read you a little of it this
evening.

TESMAN.

That was very good of you, Eilert. But this evening---? [Looking
back at BRACK.] I don't see how we can manage it---

LOVBORG.

Well then, some other time. There is no hurry.

BRACK.

I must tell you, Mr. Lovborg--there is a little gathering at my house
this evening--mainly in honour of Tesman, you know---

LOVBORG.

[Looking for his hat.] Oh--then I won't detain you---

BRACK.

No, but listen--will you not do me the favour of joining us?

LOVBORG.

[Curtly and decidedly.] No, I can't--thank you very much.

BRACK.

Oh, nonsense--do! We shall be quite a select little circle. And I
assure you we shall have a "lively time," as Mrs. Hed--as Mrs. Tesman
says.

LOVBORG.

I have no doubt of it. But nevertheless---

BRACK.

And then you might bring your manuscript with you, and read it to
Tesman at my house. I could give you a room to yourselves.

TESMAN.

Yes, think of that, Eilert,--why shouldn't you? Eh?

HEDDA.

[Interposing.] But, Tesman, if Mr. Lovborg would really rather not!
I am sure Mr. Lovborg is much more inclined to remain here and have
supper with me.

LOVBORG.

[Looking at her.] With you, Mrs. Tesman?

HEDDA.

And with Mrs. Elvsted.

LOVBORG.

Ah--- [Lightly.] I saw her for a moment this morning.

HEDDA.

Did you? Well, she is coming this evening. So you see you are almost
bound to remain, Mr. Lovborg, or she will have no one to see her home.

LOVBORG.

That's true. Many thanks, Mrs. Tesman--in that case I will remain.

HEDDA.

Then I have one or two orders to give the servant---
[She goes to the hall door and rings. BERTA enters. HEDDA talks
to her in a whisper, and points towards the inner room. BERTA
nods and goes out again.

TESMAN.

[At the same time, to LOVBORG.] Tell me, Eilert--is it this new
subject--the future--that you are going to lecture about?

LOVBORG.

Yes.

TESMAN.

They told me at the bookseller's that you are going to deliver a
course of lectures this autumn.

LOVBORG.

That is my intention. I hope you won't take it ill, Tesman.

TESMAN.

Oh no, not in the least! But---?

LOVBORG.

I can quite understand that it must be very disagreeable to you.

TESMAN.

[Cast down.] Oh, I can't expect you, out of consideration for me,
to---

LOVBORG.

But I shall wait till you have received your appointment.

TESMAN.

Will you wait? Yes but--yes but--are you not going to compete with
me? Eh?

LOVBORG.

No; it is only the moral victory I care for.

TESMAN.

Why, bless me--then Aunt Julia was right after all! Oh yes--I knew
it! Hedda! Just fancy--Eilert Lovborg is not going to stand in our
way!

HEDDA.

[Curtly.] Our way? Pray leave me out of the question.
[She goes up towards the inner room, where BERTA is placing a
tray with decanters and glasses on the table. HEDDA nods
approval, and comes forward again. BERTA goes out.

TESMAN.

[At the same time.] And you, Judge Brack--what do you say to this?
Eh?

BRACK.

Well, I say that a moral victory--h'm--may be all very fine---

TESMAN.

Yes, certainly. But all the same---

HEDDA.

[Looking at TESMAN with a cold smile.] You stand there looking as if
you were thunderstruck---

TESMAN.

Yes--so I am--I almost think---

BRACK.

Don't you see, Mrs. Tesman, a thunderstorm has just passed over?

HEDDA.

[Pointing towards the room.] Will you not take a glass of cold punch,
gentlemen?

BRACK.

[Looking at his watch.] A stirrup-cup? Yes, it wouldn't come amiss.

TESMAN.

A capital idea, Hedda! Just the thing! Now that the weight has been
taken off my mind---

HEDDA.

Will you not join them, Mr. Lovborg?

LOVBORG.

[With a gesture of refusal.] No, thank you. Nothing for me.

BRACK.

Why bless me--cold punch is surely not poison.

LOVBORG.

Perhaps not for everyone.

HEDDA.

I will deep Mr. Lovborg company in the meantime.

TESMAN.

Yes, yes, Hedda dear, do.
[He and BRACK go into the inner room, seat themselves, drink
punch, smoke cigarettes, and carry on a lively conversation
during what follows. EILERT LOVBORG remains standing beside
the stove. HEDDA goes to the writing-table.

HEDDA.

[Raising he voice a little.] Do you care to look at some photographs,
Mr. Lovborg? You know Tesman and I made a tour in they Tyrol on our
way home?
[She takes up an album, and places it on the table beside the
sofa, in the further corner of which she seats herself. EILERT
LOVBORG approaches, stops, and looks at her. Then he takes a
chair and seats himself to her left.

HEDDA.

[Opening the album.] Do you see this range of mountains, Mr. Lovborg?
It's the Ortler group. Tesman has written the name underneath. Here
it is: "The Ortler group near Meran."

LOVBORG.

[Who has never taken his eyes off her, says softly and slowly:]
Hedda--Gabler!

HEDDA.

[Glancing hastily at him.] Ah! Hush!

LOVBORG.

[Repeats softly.] Hedda Gabler!

HEDDA.

[Looking at the album.] That was my name in the old days--when we
two knew each other.

LOVBORG.

And I must teach myself never to say Hedda Gabler again--never, as
long as I live.

HEDDA.

[Still turning over the pages.] Yes, you must. And I think you ought
to practise in time. The sooner the better, I should say.

LOVBORG.

[In a tone of indignation.] Hedda Gabler married? And married to--
George Tesman!

HEDDA.

Yes--so the world goes.

LOVBORG.

Oh, Hedda, Hedda--how could you(9) throw yourself away!

HEDDA.

[Looks sharply at him.] What? I can't allow this!

LOVBORG.

What do you mean?
[TESMAN comes into the room and goes towards the sofa.

HEDDA.

[Hears him coming and says in an indifferent tone.] And this is a
view from the Val d'Ampezzo, Mr. Lovborg. Just look at these peaks!
[Looks affectionately up at TESMAN.] What's the name of these
curious peaks, dear?

TESMAN.

Let me see. Oh, those are the Dolomites.

HEDDA.

Yes, that's it!--Those are the Dolomites, Mr. Lovborg.

TESMAN.

Hedda, dear,--I only wanted to ask whether I shouldn't bring you a
little punch after all? For yourself at any rate--eh?

HEDDA.

Yes, do, please; and perhaps a few biscuits.

TESMAN.

No cigarettes?

HEDDA.

No.

TESMAN.

Very well.
[He goes into the inner room and out to the right. BRACK sits
in the inner room, and keeps an eye from time to time on HEDDA
and LOVBORG.

LOVBORG.

[Softly, as before.] Answer me, Hedda--how could you go and do this?

HEDDA.

[Apparently absorbed in the album.] If you continue to say _du_ to
me I won't talk to you.

LOVBORG.

May I not say _du_ even when we are alone?

HEDDA.

No. You may think it; but you mustn't say it.

LOVBORG.

Ah, I understand. It is an offence against George Tesman, whom
you(10)--love.

HEDDA.

[Glances at him and smiles.] Love? What an idea!

LOVBORG.

You don't love him then!

HEDDA.

But I won't hear of any sort of unfaithfulness! Remember that.

LOVBORG.

Hedda--answer me one thing---

HEDDA.

Hush! [TESMAN enters with a small tray from the inner room.

TESMAN.

Here you are! Isn't this tempting? [He puts the tray on the table.

HEDDA.

Why do you bring it yourself?

TESMAN.

[Filling the glasses.] Because I think it's such fun to wait upon
you, Hedda.

HEDDA.

But you have poured out two glasses. Mr. Lovborg said he wouldn't
have any---

TESMAN.

No, but Mrs. Elvsted will soon be here, won't she?

HEDDA.

Yes, by-the-bye--Mrs. Elvsted---

TESMAN.

Had you forgotten her? Eh?

HEDDA.

We were so absorbed in these photographs. [Shows him a picture.]
Do you remember this little village?

TESMAN.

Oh, it's that one just below the Brenner Pass. It was there we
passed the night---

HEDDA.

---and met that lively party of tourists.

TESMAN.

Yes, that was the place. Fancy--if we could only have had you with
us, Eilert! Eh?
[He returns to the inner room and sits beside BRACK.

LOVBORG.

Answer me one thing, Hedda---

HEDDA.

Well?

LOVBORG.

Was there no love in your friendship for me either? Not a spark--not
a tinge of love in it?

HEDDA.

I wonder if there was? To me it seems as though we were two good
comrades--two thoroughly intimate friends. [Smilingly.] You
especially were frankness itself.

LOVBORG.

It was you that made me so.

HEDDA.

As I look back upon it all, I think there was really something
beautiful, something fascinating--something daring--in--in that
secret intimacy--that comradeship which no living creature so much
as dreamed of.

LOVBORG.

Yes, yes, Hedda! Was there not?--When I used to come to your father's
in the afternoon--and the General sat over at the window reading his
papers--with his back towards us---

HEDDA.

And we two on the corner sofa---

LOVBORG.

Always with the same illustrated paper before us---

HEDDA.

For want of an album, yes.

LOVBORG.

Yes, Hedda, and when I made my confessions to you--told you about
myself, things that at that time no one else knew! There I would
sit and tell you of my escapades--my days and nights of devilment.
Oh, Hedda--what was the power in you that forced me to confess these
things?

HEDDA.

Do you think it was any power in me?

LOVBORG.

How else can I explain it? And all those--those roundabout questions
you used to put to me---

HEDDA.

Which you understood so particularly well---

LOVBORG.

How could you sit and question me like that? Question me quite
frankly---

HEDDA.

In roundabout terms, please observe.

LOVBORG.

Yes, but frankly nevertheless. Cross-question me about--all that sort
of thing?

HEDDA.

And how could you answer, Mr. Lovborg?

LOVBORG.

Yes, that is just what I can't understand--in looking back upon it.
But tell me now, Hedda--was there not love at the bottom of our
friendship? On your side, did you not feel as though you might purge
my stains away--if I made you my confessor? Was it not so?

HEDDA.

No, not quite.

LOVBORG.

What was you motive, then?

HEDDA.

Do think it quite incomprehensible that a young girl--when it can be
done--without any one knowing---

LOVBORG.

Well?

HEDDA.

---should be glad to have a peep, now and then, into a world which---?

LOVBORG.

Which---?

HEDDA.

---which she is forbidden to know anything about?

LOVBORG.

So that was it?

HEDDA.

Partly. Partly--I almost think.

LOVBORG.

Comradeship in the thirst for life. But why should not that, at any
rate, have continued?

HEDDA.

The fault was yours.

LOVBORG.

It was you that broke with me.

HEDDA.

Yes, when our friendship threatened to develop into something more
serious. Shame upon you, Eilert Lovborg! How could you think of
wronging your--your frank comrade.

LOVBORG.

[Clenches his hands.] Oh, why did you not carry out your threat?
Why did you not shoot me down?

HEDDA.

Because I have such a dread of scandal.

LOVBORG.

Yes, Hedda, you are a coward at heart.

HEDDA.

A terrible coward. [Changing her tone.] But it was a lucky thing
for you. And now you have found ample consolation at the Elvsteds'.

LOVBORG.

I know what Thea has confided to you.

HEDDA.

And perhaps you have confided to her something about us?

LOVBORG.

Not a word. She is too stupid to understand anything of that sort.

HEDDA.

Stupid?

LOVBORG.

She is stupid about matters of that sort.

HEDDA.

And I am cowardly. [Bends over towards him, without looking him in
the face, and says more softly:] But now I will confide something
to you.

LOVBORG.

[Eagerly.] Well?

HEDDA.

The fact that I dared not shoot you down---

LOVBORG.

Yes!

HEDDA.

---that was not my arrant cowardice--that evening.

LOVBORG.

[Looks at her a moment, understands, and whispers passionately.] Oh,
Hedda! Hedda Gabler! Now I begin to see a hidden reason beneath our
comradeship! You(11) and I---! After all, then, it was your craving
for life---

HEDDA.

[Softly, with a sharp glance.] Take care! Believe nothing of the
sort!
[Twilight has begun to fall. The hall door is opened from
without by BERTA.

HEDDA.

[Closes the album with a bang and calls smilingly:] Ah, at last!
My darling Thea,--come along!

MRS. ELVSTED enters from the hall. She is in evening dress.
The door is closed behind her.

HEDDA.

[On the sofa, stretches out her arms towards her.] My sweet Thea--
you can't think how I have been longing for you!
[MRS. ELVSTED, in passing, exchanges slight salutations with
the gentlemen in the inner room, then goes up to the table
and gives HEDDA her hand. EILERT LOVBORG has risen. He and
MRS. ELVSTED greet each other with a silent nod.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Ought I to go in and talk to your husband for a moment?

HEDDA.

Oh, not at all. Leave those two alone. They will soon be going.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Are they going out?

HEDDA.

Yes, to a supper-party.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Quickly, to LOVBORG.] Not you?

LOVBORG.

No.

HEDDA.

Mr. Lovborg remains with us.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Takes a chair and is about to seat herself at his side.] Oh, how
nice it is here!

HEDDA.

No, thank you, my little Thea! Not there! You'll be good enough to
come over here to me. I will sit between you.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, just as you please.
[She goes round the table and seats herself on the sofa on
HEDDA'S right. LOVBORG re-seats himself on his chair.

LOVBORG.

[After a short pause, to HEDDA.] Is not she lovely to look at?

HEDDA.

[Lightly stroking her hair.] Only to look at!

LOVBORG.

Yes. For we two--she and I--we are two real comrades. We have
absolute faith in each other; so we can sit and talk with perfect
frankness---

HEDDA.

Not round about, Mr. Lovborg?

LOVBORG.

Well---

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Softly clinging close to HEDDA.] Oh, how happy I am, Hedda! For
only think, he says I have inspired him too.

HEDDA.

[Looks at her with a smile.] Ah! Does he say that, dear?

LOVBORG.

And then she is so brave, Mrs. Tesman!

MRS. ELVSTED.

Good heavens--am I brave?

LOVBORG.

Exceedingly--where your comrade is concerned.

HEDDA.

Exceedingly--where your comrade is concerned.

HEDDA.

Ah, yes--courage! If one only had that!

LOVBORG.

What then? What do you mean?

HEDDA.

Then life would perhaps be liveable, after all. [With a sudden change
of tone.] But now, my dearest Thea, you really must have a glass of
cold punch.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, thanks--I never take anything of that kind.

HEDDA.

Well then, you, Mr. Lovborg.

LOVBORG.

Nor I, thank you.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, he doesn't either.

HEDDA.

[Looks fixedly at him.] But if I say you shall?

LOVBORG.

It would be of no use.

HEDDA.

[Laughing.] Then I, poor creature, have no sort of power over you?

LOVBORG.

Not in that respect.

HEDDA.

But seriously, I think you ought to--for your own sake.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Why, Hedda---!

LOVBORG.

How so?

HEDDA.

Or rather on account of other people.

LOVBORG.

Indeed?

HEDDA.

Otherwise people might be apt to suspect that--in your heart of
hearts--you did not feel quite secure--quite confident in yourself.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Softly.] Oh please, Hedda---!

LOVBORG.

People may suspect what they like--for the present.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Joyfully.] Yes, let them!

HEDDA.

I saw it plainly in Judge Brack's face a moment ago.

LOVBORG.

What did you see?

HEDDA.

His contemptuous smile, when you dared not go with them into the
inner room.

LOVBORG.

Dared not? Of course I preferred to stop here and talk to you.

MRS. ELVSTED.

What could be more natural, Hedda?

HEDDA.

But the Judge could not guess that. And I say, too, the way he smiled
and glanced at Tesman when you dared not accept his invitation to this
wretched little supper-party of his.

LOVBORG.

Dared not! Do you say I dared not?

HEDDA.

_I_ don't say so. But that was how Judge Brack understood it.

LOVBORG.

Well, let him.

HEDDA.

Then you are not going with them?

LOVBORG.

I will stay here with you and Thea.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, Hedda--how can you doubt that?

HEDDA.

[Smiles and nods approvingly to LOVBORG.] Firm as a rock! Faithful
to your principles, now and for ever! Ah, that is how a man should
be! [Turns to MRS. ELVSTED and caresses her.] Well now, what did I
tell you, when you came to us this morning in such a state of
distraction---

LOVBORG.

[Surprised.] Distraction!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Terrified.] Hedda--oh Hedda---!

HEDDA.

You can see for yourself! You haven't the slightest reason to be in
such mortal terror--- [Interrupting herself.] There! Now we can
all three enjoy ourselves!

LOVBORG.

[Who has given a start.] Ah--what is all this, Mrs. Tesman?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh my God, Hedda! What are you saying? What are you doing?

HEDDA.

Don't get excited! That horrid Judge Brack is sitting watching you.

LOVBORG.

So she was in mortal terror! On my account!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Softly and piteously.] Oh, Hedda--now you have ruined everything!

LOVBORG.

[Looks fixedly at her for a moment. His face is distorted.] So that
was my comrade's frank confidence in me?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Imploringly.] Oh, my dearest friend--only let me tell you---

LOVBORG.

[Takes one of the glasses of punch, raises it to his lips, and says
in a low, husky voice.] Your health, Thea!
[He empties the glass, puts it down, and takes the second.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Softly.] Oh, Hedda, Hedda--how could you do this?

HEDDA.

_I_ do it? _I_? Are you crazy?

LOVBORG.

Here's to your health too, Mrs. Tesman. Thanks for the truth. Hurrah
for the truth!
[He empties the glass and is about to re-fill it.

HEDDA.

[Lays her hand on his arm.] Come, come--no more for the present.
Remember you are going out to supper.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, no, no!

HEDDA.

Hush! They are sitting watching you.

LOVBORG.

[Putting down the glass.] Now, Thea--tell me the truth---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes.

LOVBORG.

Did your husband know that you had come after me?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Wringing her hands.] Oh, Hedda--do you hear what his is asking?

LOVBORG.

Was it arranged between you and him that you were to come to town and
look after me? Perhaps it was the Sheriff himself that urged you to
come? Aha, my dear--no doubt he wanted my help in his office! Or
was it at the card-table that he missed me?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Softly, in agony.] Oh, Lovborg, Lovborg---!

LOVBORG.

[Seizes a glass and is on the point of filling it.] Here's a glass
for the old Sheriff too!

HEDDA.

[Preventing him.] No more just now. Remember, you have to read your
manuscript to Tesman.

LOVBORG.

[Calmly, putting down the glass.] It was stupid of me all this.
Thea--to take it in this way, I mean. Don't be angry with me, my
dear, dear comrade. You shall see--both you and the others--that
if I was fallen once--now I have risen again! Thanks to you, Thea.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Radiant with joy.] Oh, heaven be praised---!
[BRACK has in the meantime looked at his watch. He and TESMAN
rise and come into the drawing-room.

BRACK.

[Takes his hat and overcoat.] Well, Mrs. Tesman, our time has come.

HEDDA.

I suppose it has.

LOVBORG.

[Rising.] Mine too, Judge Brack.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Softly and imploringly.] Oh, Lovborg, don't do it!

HEDDA.

[Pinching her arm.] They can hear you!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[With a suppressed shriek.] Ow!

LOVBORG.

[To BRACK.] You were good enough to invite me.

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