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Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen

Part 5 out of 5

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HEDDA.

What path do you mean to take then?

LOVBORG.

None. I will only try to make an end of it all--the sooner the better.

HEDDA.

[A step nearer him.] Eilert Lovborg--listen to me.--Will you not try
to--to do it beautifully?

LOVBORG.

Beautifully? [Smiling.] With vine-leaves in my hair, as you used to
dream in the old days---?

HEDDA.

No, no. I have lost my faith in the vine-leaves. But beautifully
nevertheless! For once in a way!--Good-bye! You must go now--and
do not come here any more.

LOVBORG.

Good-bye, Mrs. Tesman. And give George Tesman my love.
[He is on the point of going.

HEDDA.

No, wait! I must give you a memento to take with you.
[She goes to the writing-table and opens the drawer and the
pistol-case; then returns to LOVBORG with one of the pistols.

LOVBORG.

[Looks at her.] This? Is this the memento?

HEDDA.

[Nodding slowly.] Do you recognise it? It was aimed at you once.

LOVBORG.

You should have used it then.

HEDDA.

Take it--and do you use it now.

LOVBORG.

[Puts the pistol in his breast pocket.] Thanks!

HEDDA.

And beautifully, Eilert Lovborg. Promise me that!

LOVBORG.

Good-bye, Hedda Gabler. [He goes out by the hall door.
[HEDDA listens for a moment at the door. Then she goes up to
the writing-table, takes out the packet of manuscript, peeps
under the cover, draws a few of the sheets half out, and
looks at them. Next she goes over and seats herself in the
arm-chair beside the stove, with the packet in her lap.
Presently she opens the stove door, and then the packet.

HEDDA.

[Throws one of the quires into the fire and whispers to herself.]
Now I am burning your child, Thea!--Burning it, curly-locks!
[Throwing one or two more quires into the stove.] Your child and
Eilert Lovborg's. [Throws the rest in.] I am burning--I am burning
your child.

ACT FOURTH.

The same rooms at the TESMANS'. It is evening. The drawing-
room is in darkness. The back room is light by the hanging
lamp over the table. The curtains over the glass door are
drawn close.

HEDDA, dressed in black, walks to and fro in the dark room.
Then she goes into the back room and disappears for a moment
to the left. She is heard to strike a few chords on the
piano. Presently she comes in sight again, and returns to
the drawing-room.

BERTA enters from the right, through the inner room, with a
lighted lamp, which she places on the table in front of the
corner settee in the drawing-room. Her eyes are red with
weeping, and she has black ribbons in her cap. She goes
quietly and circumspectly out to the right. HEDDA goes up
to the glass door, lifts the curtain a little aside, and
looks out into the darkness.

Shortly afterwards, MISS TESMAN, in mourning, with a bonnet
and veil on, comes in from the hall. HEDDA goes towards her
and holds out her hand.

MISS TESMAN.

Yes, Hedda, here I am, in mourning and forlorn; for now my poor
sister has at last found peace.

HEDDA.

I have heard the news already, as you see. Tesman sent me a card.

MISS TESMAN.

Yes, he promised me he would. But nevertheless I thought that to
Hedda--here in the house of life--I ought myself to bring the tidings
of death.

HEDDA.

That was very kind of you.

MISS TESMAN.

Ah, Rina ought not to have left us just now. This is not the time
for Hedda's house to be a house of mourning.

HEDDA.

[Changing the subject.] She died quite peacefully, did she not, Miss
Tesman?

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, her end was so calm, so beautiful. And then she had the
unspeakable happiness of seeing George once more--and bidding him
good-bye.--Has he not come home yet?

HEDDA.

No. He wrote that he might be detained. But won't you sit down?

MISS TESMAN.

No thank you, my dear, dear Hedda. I should like to, but I have so
much to do. I must prepare my dear one for her rest as well as I can.
She shall go to her grave looking her best.

HEDDA.

Can I not help you in any way?

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, you must not think of it! Hedda Tesman must have no hand in such
mournful work. Nor let her thought dwell on it either--not at this
time.

HEDDA.

One is not always mistress of one's thoughts---

MISS TESMAN.

[Continuing.] Ah yes, it is the way of the world. At home we shall
be sewing a shroud; and here there will soon be sewing too, I suppose
--but of another sort, thank God!

GEORGE TESMAN enters by the hall door.

HEDDA.

Ah, you have come at last!

TESMAN.

You here, Aunt Julia? With Hedda? Fancy that!

MISS TESMAN.

I was just going, my dear boy. Well, have you done all you promised?

TESMAN.

No; I'm really afraid I have forgotten half of it. I must come to you
again to-morrow. To-day my brain is all in a whirl. I can't keep my
thoughts together.

MISS TESMAN.

Why, my dear George, you mustn't take it in this way.

TESMAN.

Mustn't---? How do you mean?

MISS TESMAN.

Even in your sorrow you must rejoice, as I do--rejoice that she is at
rest.

TESMAN.

Oh yes, yes--you are thinking of Aunt Rina.

HEDDA.

You will feel lonely now, Miss Tesman.

MISS TESMAN.

Just at first, yes. But that will not last very long, I hope. I
daresay I shall soon find an occupant for Rina's little room.

TESMAN.

Indeed? Who do you think will take it? Eh?

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, there's always some poor invalid or other in want of nursing,
unfortunately.

HEDDA.

Would you really take such a burden upon you again?

MISS TESMAN.

A burden! Heaven forgive you, child--it has been no burden to me.

HEDDA.

But suppose you had a total stranger on your hands---

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, one soon makes friends with sick folk; and it's such an absolute
necessity for me to have some one to live for. Well, heaven be
praised, there may soon be something in this house, too, to keep an
old aunt busy.

HEDDA.

Oh, don't trouble about anything here.

TESMAN.

Yes, just fancy what a nice time we three might have together, if---?

HEDDA.

If---?

TESMAN.

[Uneasily.] Oh nothing. It will all come right. Let us hope so--eh?

MISS TESMAN.

Well well, I daresay you two want to talk to each other. [Smiling.]
And perhaps Hedda may have something to tell you too, George. Good-
bye! I must go home to Rina. [Turning at the door.] How strange it
is to think that now Rina is with me and with my poor brother as well!

TESMAN.

Yes, fancy that, Aunt Julia! Eh?
[MISS TESMAN goes out by the hall door.

HEDDA.

[Follows TESMAN coldly and searchingly with her eyes.] I almost
believe your Aunt Rina's death affects you more than it does your
Aunt Julia.

TESMAN.

Oh, it's not that alone. It's Eilert I am so terribly uneasy about.

HEDDA.

[Quickly.] Is there anything new about him?

TESMAN.

I looked in at his rooms this afternoon, intending to tell him the
manuscript was in safe keeping.

HEDDA.

Well, did you find him?

TESMAN.

No. He wasn't at home. But afterwards I met Mrs. Elvsted, and she
told me that he had been here early this morning.

HEDDA.

Yes, directly after you had gone.

TESMAN.

And he said that he had torn his manuscript to pieces--eh?

HEDDA.

Yes, so he declared.

TESMAN.

Why, good heavens, he must have been completely out of his mind! And
I suppose you thought it best not to give it back to him, Hedda?

HEDDA.

No, he did not get it.

TESMAN.

But of course you told him that we had it?

HEDDA.

No. [Quickly.] Did you tell Mrs. Elvsted?

TESMAN.

No; I thought I had better not. But you ought to have told him.
Fancy, if, in desperation, he should go and do himself some injury!
Let me have the manuscript, Hedda! I will take it to him at once.
Where is it?

HEDDA.

[Cold and immovable, leaning on the arm-chair.] I have not got it.

TESMAN.

Have not got it? What in the world do you mean?

HEDDA.

I have burnt it--every line of it.

TESMAN.

[With a violent movement of terror.] Burnt! Burnt Eilert's
manuscript!

HEDDA.

Don't scream so. The servant might hear you.

TESMAN.

Burnt! Why, good God---! No, no, no! It's impossible!

HEDDA.

It is so, nevertheless.

TESMAN.

Do you know what you have done, Hedda? It's unlawful appropriation
of lost property. Fancy that! Just ask Judge Brack, and he'll tell
you what it is.

HEDDA.

I advise you not to speak of it--either to Judge Brack or to anyone
else.

TESMAN.

But how could you do anything so unheard-of? What put it into your
head? What possessed you? Answer me that--eh?

HEDDA.

[Suppressing an almost imperceptible smile.] I did it for your sake,
George.

TESMAN.

For my sake!

HEDDA.

This morning, when you told me about what he had read to you---

TESMAN.

Yes yes--what then?

HEDDA.

You acknowledged that you envied him his work.

TESMAN.

Oh, of course I didn't mean that literally.

HEDDA.

No matter--I could not bear the idea that any one should throw you
into the shade.

TESMAN.

[In an outburst of mingled doubt and joy.] Hedda! Oh, is this true?
But--but--I never knew you show your love like that before. Fancy
that!

HEDDA.

Well, I may as well tell you that--just at this time--- [Impatiently
breaking off.] No, no; you can ask Aunt Julia. She well tell you,
fast enough.

TESMAN.

Oh, I almost think I understand you, Hedda! [Clasps his hands
together.] Great heavens! do you really mean it! Eh?

HEDDA.

Don't shout so. The servant might hear.

TESMAN.

[Laughing in irrepressible glee.] The servant! Why, how absurd you
are, Hedda. It's only my old Berta! Why, I'll tell Berta myself.

HEDDA.

[Clenching her hands together in desperation.] Oh, it is killing me,
--it is killing me, all this!

TESMAN.

What is, Hedda? Eh?

HEDDA.

[Coldly, controlling herself.] All this--absurdity--George.

TESMAN.

Absurdity! Do you see anything absurd in my being overjoyed at the
news! But after all--perhaps I had better not say anything to Berta.

HEDDA.

Oh---why not that too?

TESMAN.

No, no, not yet! But I must certainly tell Aunt Julia. And then
that you have begun to call me George too! Fancy that! Oh, Aunt
Julia will be so happy--so happy!

HEDDA.

When she hears that I have burnt Eilert Lovborg's manuscript--for
your sake?

TESMAN.

No, by-the-bye--that affair of the manuscript--of course nobody must
know about that. But that you love me so much,(13) Hedda--Aunt Julia
must really share my joy in that! I wonder, now, whether this sort
of thing is usual in young wives? Eh?

HEDDA.

I think you had better ask Aunt Julia that question too.

TESMAN.

I will indeed, some time or other. [Looks uneasy and downcast again.]
And yet the manuscript--the manuscript! Good God! it is terrible to
think what will become of poor Eilert now.

MRS. ELVSTED, dressed as in the first Act, with hat and cloak,
enters by the hall door.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Greets them hurriedly, and says in evident agitation.] Oh, dear
Hedda, forgive my coming again.

HEDDA.

What is the matter with you, Thea?

TESMAN.

Something about Eilert Lovborg again--eh?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes! I am dreadfully afraid some misfortune has happened to him.

HEDDA.

[Seized her arm.] Ah,--do you think so?

TESMAN.

Why, good Lord--what makes you think that, Mrs. Elvsted?

MRS. ELVSTED.

I heard them talking of him at my boarding-house--just as I came in.
Oh, the most incredible rumours are afloat about him to-day.

TESMAN.

Yes, fancy, so I heard too! And I can bear witness that he went
straight home to bed last night. Fancy that!

HEDDA.

Well, what did they say at the boarding-house?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, I couldn't make out anything clearly. Either they knew nothing
definite, or else---. They stopped talking when the saw me; and I
did not dare to ask.

TESMAN.

[Moving about uneasily.] We must hope--we must hope that you
misunderstood them, Mrs. Elvsted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, no; I am sure it was of him they were talking. And I heard
something about the hospital or---

TESMAN.

The hospital?

HEDDA.

No--surely that cannot be!

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, I was in such mortal terror! I went to his lodgings and asked
for him there.

HEDDA.

You could make up your mind to that, Thea!

MRS. ELVSTED.

What else could I do? I really could bear the suspense no longer.

TESMAN.

But you didn't find him either--eh?

MRS. ELVSTED.

No. And the people knew nothing about him. He hadn't been home
since yesterday afternoon, they said.

TESMAN.

Yesterday! Fancy, how could they say that?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, I am sure something terrible must have happened to him.

TESMAN.

Hedda dear--how would it be if I were to go and make inquiries---?

HEDDA.

No, no--don't you mix yourself up in this affair.

JUDGE BRACK, with his hat in his hand, enters by the hall
door, which BERTA opens, and closes behind him. He looks
grave and bows in silence.

TESMAN.

Oh, is that you, my dear Judge? Eh?

BRACK.

Yes. It was imperative I should see you this evening.

TESMAN.

I can see you have heard the news about Aunt Rina?

BRACK.

Yes, that among other things.

TESMAN.

Isn't it sad--eh?

BRACK.

Well, my dear Tesman, that depends on how you look at it.

TESMAN.

[Looks doubtfully at him.] Has anything else happened?

BRACK.

Yes.

HEDDA.

[In suspense.] Anything sad, Judge Brack?

BRACK.

That, too, depends on how you look at it, Mrs. Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Unable to restrain her anxiety.] Oh! it is something about Eilert
Lovborg!

BRACK.

[With a glance at her.] What makes you think that, Madam? Perhaps
you have already heard something---?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[In confusion.] No, nothing at all, but---

TESMAN.

Oh, for heaven's sake, tell us!

BRACK.

[Shrugging his shoulders.] Well, I regret to say Eilert Lovborg has
been taken to the hospital. He is lying at the point of death.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Shrieks.] Oh God! oh God---!

TESMAN.

To the hospital! And at the point of death!

HEDDA.

[Involuntarily.] So soon then---

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Wailing.] And we parted in anger, Hedda!

HEDDA.

[Whispers.] Thea--Thea--be careful!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Not heeding her.] I must go to him! I must see him alive!

BRACK.

It is useless, Madam. No one will be admitted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, at least tell me what has happened to him? What is it?

TESMAN.

You don't mean to say that he has himself--- Eh?

HEDDA.

Yes, I am sure he has.

BRACK.

[Keeping his eyes fixed upon her.] Unfortunately you have guessed
quite correctly, Mrs. Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, how horrible!

TESMAN.

Himself, then! Fancy that!

HEDDA.

Shot himself!

BRACK.

Rightly guessed again, Mrs. Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[With an effort at self-control.] When did it happen, Mr. Brack?

BRACK.

This afternoon--between three and four.

TESMAN.

But, good Lord, where did he do it? Eh?

BRACK.

[With some hesitation.] Where? Well--I suppose at his lodgings.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, that cannot be; for I was there between six and seven.

BRACK.

Well then, somewhere else. I don't know exactly. I only know that
he was found---. He had shot himself--in the breast.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, how terrible! That he should die like that!

HEDDA.

[To BRACK.] Was it in the breast?

BRACK.

Yes--as I told you.

HEDDA.

Not in the temple?

BRACK.

In the breast, Mrs. Tesman.

HEDDA.

Well, well--the breast is a good place, too.

BRACK.

How do you mean, Mrs. Tesman?

HEDDA.

[Evasively.] Oh, nothing--nothing.

TESMAN.

And the wound is dangerous, you say--eh?

BRACK.

Absolutely mortal. The end has probably come by this time.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes, I feel it. The end! The end! Oh, Hedda---!

TESMAN.

But tell me, how have you learnt all this?

BRACK.

[Curtly.] Through one of the police. A man I had some business with.

HEDDA.

[In a clear voice.] At last a deed worth doing!

TESMAN.

[Terrified.] Good heavens, Hedda! what are you saying?

HEDDA.

I say there is beauty in this.

BRACK.

H'm, Mrs. Tesman---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, Hedda, how can you talk of beauty in such an act!

HEDDA.

Eilert Lovborg has himself made up his account with life. He has had
the courage to do--the one right thing.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, you must never think that was how it happened! It must have been
in delirium that he did it.

TESMAN.

In despair!

HEDDA.

That he did not. I am certain of that.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes! In delirium! Just as when he tore up our manuscript.

BRACK.

[Starting.] The manuscript? Has he torn that up?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, last night.

TESMAN.

[Whispers softly.] Oh, Hedda, we shall never get over this.

BRACK.

H'm, very extraordinary.

TESMAN.

[Moving about the room.] To think of Eilert going out of the world
in this way! And not leaving behind him the book that would have
immortalised his name---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, if only it could be put together again!

TESMAN.

Yes, if it only could! I don't know what I would not give---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Perhaps it can, Mr. Tesman.

TESMAN.

What do you mean?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Searches in the pocket of her dress.] Look here. I have kept all
the loose notes he used to dictate from.

HEDDA.

[A step forward.] Ah---!

TESMAN.

You have kept them, Mrs. Elvsted! Eh?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, I have them here. I put them in my pocket when I left home.
Here they still are---

TESMAN.

Oh, do let me see them!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Hands him a bundle of papers.] But they are in such disorder--all
mixed up.

TESMAN.

Fancy, if we could make something out of them, after all! Perhaps if
we two put our heads together---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh yes, at least let us try---

TESMAN.

We will manage it! We must! I will dedicate my life to this task.

HEDDA.

You, George? Your life?

TESMAN.

Yes, or rather all the time I can spare. My own collections must
wait in the meantime. Hedda--you understand, eh? I owe this to
Eilert's memory.

HEDDA.

Perhaps.

TESMAN.

And so, my dear Mrs. Elvsted, we will give our whole minds to it.
There is no use in brooding over what can't be undone--eh? We must
try to control our grief as much as possible, and---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes, Mr. Tesman, I will do the best I can.

TESMAN.

Well then, come here. I can't rest until we have looked through the
notes. Where shall we sit? Here? No, in there, in the back room.
Excuse me, my dear Judge. Come with me, Mrs. Elvsted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, if only it were possible!
[TESMAN and MRS. ELVSTED go into the back room. She takes
off her hat and cloak. They both sit at the table under the
hanging lamp, and are soon deep in an eager examination of
the papers. HEDDA crosses to the stove and sits in the arm-
chair. Presently BRACK goes up to her.

HEDDA.

[In a low voice.] Oh, what a sense of freedom it gives one, this act
of Eilert Lovborg's.

BRACK.

Freedom, Mrs. Hedda? Well, of course, it is a release for him---

HEDDA.

I mean for me. It gives me a sense of freedom to know that a deed
of deliberate courage is still possible in this world,--a deed of
spontaneous beauty.

BRACK.

[Smiling.] H'm--my dear Mrs. Hedda---

HEDDA.

Oh, I know what you are going to say. For you are a kind of
specialist too, like--you know!

BRACK.

[Looking hard at her.] Eilert Lovborg was more to you than perhaps
you are willing to admit to yourself. Am I wrong?

HEDDA.

I don't answer such questions. I only know that Eilert Lovborg has
had the courage to live his life after his own fashion. And then--
the last great act, with its beauty! Ah! that he should have the
will and the strength to turn away from the banquet of life--so early.

BRACK.

I am sorry, Mrs. Hedda,--but I fear I must dispel an amiable illusion.

HEDDA.

Illusion?

BRACK.

Which could not have lasted long in any case.

HEDDA.

What do you mean?

BRACK.

Eilert Lovborg did not shoot himself--voluntarily.

HEDDA.

Not voluntarily?

BRACK.

No. The thing did not happen exactly as I told it.

HEDDA.

[In suspense.] Have you concealed something? What is it?

BRACK.

For poor Mrs. Elvsted's sake I idealised the facts a little.

HEDDA.

What are the facts?

BRACK.

First, that he is already dead.

HEDDA.

At the hospital?

BRACK.

Yes--without regaining consciousness.

HEDDA.

What more have you concealed?

BRACK.

This--the event did not happen at his lodgings.

HEDDA.

Oh, that can make no difference.

BRACK.

Perhaps it may. For I must tell you--Eilert Lovborg was found shot
in--in Mademoiselle Diana's boudoir.

HEDDA.

[Makes a motion as if to rise, but sinks back again.] That is
impossible, Judge Brack! He cannot have been there again to-day.

BRACK.

He was there this afternoon. He went there, he said, to demand the
return of something which they had taken from him. Talked wildly
about a lost child---

HEDDA.

Ah--so that is why---

BRACK.

I thought probably he meant his manuscript; but now I hear he
destroyed that himself. So I suppose it must have been his pocket-
book.

HEDDA.

Yes, no doubt. And there--there he was found?

BRACK.

Yes, there. With a pistol in his breast-pocket, discharged. The
ball had lodged in a vital part.

HEDDA.

In the breast--yes?

BRACK.

No--in the bowels.

HEDDA.

[Looks up at him with an expression of loathing.] That too! Oh,
what curse is it that makes everything I touch turn ludicrous and
mean?

BRACK.

There is one point more, Mrs. Hedda--another disagreeable feature in
the affair.

HEDDA.

And what is that?

BRACK.

The pistol he carried---

HEDDA.

[Breathless.] Well? What of it?

BRACK.

He must have stolen it.

HEDDA.

[Leaps up.] Stolen it! That is not true! He did not steal it!

BRACK.

No other explanation is possible. He must have stolen it---. Hush!

TESMAN and MRS. ELVSTED have risen from the table in the back-
room, and come into the drawing-room.

TESMAN.

[With the papers in both his hands.] Hedda, dear, it is almost
impossible to see under that lamp. Think of that!

HEDDA.

Yes, I am thinking.

TESMAN.

Would you mind our sitting at you writing-table--eh?

HEDDA.

If you like. [Quickly.] No, wait! Let me clear it first!

TESMAN.

Oh, you needn't trouble, Hedda. There is plenty of room.

HEDDA.

No no, let me clear it, I say! I will take these things in and put
them on the piano. There!
[She has drawn out an object, covered with sheet music, from
under the bookcase, places several other pieces of music upon
it, and carries the whole into the inner room, to the left.
TESMAN lays the scraps of paper on the writing-table, and moves
the lamp there from the corner table. He and Mrs. Elvsted sit
down and proceed with their work. HEDDA returns.

HEDDA.

[Behind Mrs. Elvsted's chair, gently ruffling her hair.] Well, my
sweet Thea,--how goes it with Eilert Lovborg's monument?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Looks dispiritedly up at her.] Oh, it will be terribly hard to put
in order.

TESMAN.

We must manage it. I am determined. And arranging other people's
papers is just the work for me.
[HEDDA goes over to the stove, and seats herself on one of the
footstools. BRACK stands over her, leaning on the arm-chair.

HEDDA.

[Whispers.] What did you say about the pistol?

BRACK.

[Softly.] That he must have stolen it.

HEDDA.

Why stolen it?

BRACK.

Because every other explanation ought to be impossible, Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA.

Indeed?

BRACK.

[Glances at her.] Of course Eilert Lovborg was here this morning.
Was he not?

HEDDA.

Yes.

BRACK.

Were you alone with him?

HEDDA.

Part of the time.

BRACK.

Did you not leave the room whilst he was here?

HEDDA.

No.

BRACK.

Try to recollect. Were you not out of the room a moment?

HEDDA.

Yes, perhaps just a moment--out in the hall.

BRACK.

And where was you pistol-case during that time?

HEDDA.

I had it locked up in---

BRACK.

Well, Mrs. Hedda?

HEDDA.

The case stood there on the writing-table.

BRACK.

Have you looked since, to see whether both the pistols are there?

HEDDA.

No.

BRACK.

Well, you need not. I saw the pistol found in Lovborg's pocket, and
I knew it at once as the one I had seen yesterday--and before, too.

HEDDA.

Have you it with you?

BRACK.

No; the police have it.

HEDDA.

What will the police do with it?

BRACK.

Search till they find the owner.

HEDDA.

Do you think they will succeed?

BRACK.

[Bends over her and whispers.] No, Hedda Gabler--not so long as I
say nothing.

HEDDA.

[Looks frightened at him.] And if you do not say nothing,--what then?

BRACK.

[Shrugs his shoulders.] There is always the possibility that the
pistol was stolen.

HEDDA.

[Firmly.] Death rather than that.

BRACK.

[Smiling.] People say such things--but they don't do them.

HEDDA.

[Without replying.] And supposing the pistol was not stolen, and the
owner is discovered? What then?

BRACK.

Well, Hedda--then comes the scandal!

HEDDA.

The scandal!

BRACK.

Yes, the scandal--of which you are so mortally afraid. You will, of
course, be brought before the court--both you and Mademoiselle Diana.
She will have to explain how the thing happened--whether it was an
accidental shot or murder. Did the pistol go off as he was trying to
take it out of his pocket, to threaten her with? Or did she tear the
pistol out of his hand, shoot him, and push it back into his pocket?
That would be quite like her; for she is an able-bodied young person,
this same Mademoiselle Diana.

HEDDA.

But _I_ have nothing to do with all this repulsive business.

BRACK.

No. But you will have to answer the question: Why did you give Eilert
the pistol? And what conclusions will people draw from the fact that
you did give it to him?

HEDDA.

[Lets her head sink.] That is true. I did not think of that.

BRACK.

Well, fortunately, there is no danger, so long as I say nothing.

HEDDA.

[Looks up at him.] So I am in your power, Judge Brack. You have me
at your beck and call, from this time forward.

BRACK.

[Whispers softly.] Dearest Hedda--believe me--I shall not abuse my
advantage.

HEDDA.

I am in your power none the less. Subject to your will and your
demands. A slave, a slave then! [Rises impetuously.] No, I cannot
endure the thought of that! Never!

BRACK.

[Looks half-mockingly at her.] People generally get used to the
inevitable.

HEDDA.

[Returns his look.] Yes, perhaps. [She crosses to the writing-table.
Suppressing an involuntary smile, she imitates TESMAN'S intonations.]
Well? Are you getting on, George? Eh?

TESMAN.

Heaven knows, dear. In any case it will be the work of months.

HEDDA.

[As before.] Fancy that! [Passes her hands softly through Mrs.
Elvsted's hair.] Doesn't it seem strange to you, Thea? Here are you
sitting with Tesman--just as you used to sit with Eilert Lovborg?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Ah, if I could only inspire your husband in the same way!

HEDDA.

Oh, that will come too--in time.

TESMAN.

Yes, do you know, Hedda--I really think I begin to feel something of
the sort. But won't you go and sit with Brack again?

HEDDA.

Is there nothing I can do to help you two?

TESMAN.

No, nothing in the world. [Turning his head.] I trust to you to keep
Hedda company, my dear Brack.

BRACK.

[With a glance at HEDDA.] With the very greatest of pleasure.

HEDDA.

Thanks. But I am tired this evening. I will go in and lie down a
little on the sofa.

TESMAN.

Yes, do dear--eh?
[HEDDA goes into the back room and draws the curtains. A short
pause. Suddenly she is heard playing a wild dance on the piano.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Starts from her chair.] Oh--what is that?

TESMAN.

[Runs to the doorway.] Why, my dearest Hedda--don't play dance-music
to-night! Just think of Aunt Rina! And of Eilert too!

HEDDA.

[Puts her head out between the curtains.] And of Aunt Julia. And
of all the rest of them.--After this, I will be quiet. [Closes the
curtains again.]

TESMAN.

[At the writing-table.] It's not good for her to see us at this
distressing work. I'll tell you what, Mrs. Elvsted,--you shall take
the empty room at Aunt Julia's, and then I will come over in the
evenings, and we can sit and work there--eh?

HEDDA.

[In the inner room.] I hear what you are saying, Tesman. But how am
_I_ to get through the evenings out here?

TESMAN.

[Turning over the papers.] Oh, I daresay Judge Brack will be so kind
as to look in now and then, even though I am out.

BRACK.

[In the arm-chair, calls out gaily.] Every blessed evening, with
all the pleasure in life, Mrs. Tesman! We shall get on capitally
together, we two!

HEDDA.

[Speaking loud and clear.] Yes, don't you flatter yourself we will,
Judge Brack? Now that you are the one cock in the basket---
[A shot is heard within. TESMAN, MRS. ELVSTED, and BRACK leap
to their feet.

TESMAN.

Oh, now she is playing with those pistols again.
[He throws back the curtains and runs in, followed by MRS.
ELVSTED. HEDDA lies stretched on the sofa, lifeless.
Confusion and cries. BERTA enters in alarm from the right.

TESMAN.

[Shrieks to BRACK.] Shot herself! Shot herself in the temple!
Fancy that!

BRACK.

[Half-fainting in the arm-chair.] Good God!--people don't do
such things.

THE END

FOOTNOTES.

(1)Pronounce _Reena_.

(2)In the original "Statsradinde Falks villa"--showing that it had
belonged to the widow of a cabinet minister.

(3)_Du_ equals thou: Tesman means, "If you could persuade yourself
to _tutoyer_ her."

(4)See previous note.

(5)Pronounce _Tora_ and _Taya_.

(6)Mrs. Elvsted here uses the formal pronoun _De_, whereupon Hedda
rebukes her. In her next speech Mrs. Elvsted says _du_.

(7)"Bagveje" means both "back ways" and "underhand courses."

(8)As this form of address is contrary to English usage, and as the
note of familiarity would be lacking in "Mrs. Tesman," Brack may,
in stage representation, say "Miss Hedda," thus ignoring her
marriage and reverting to the form of address no doubt customarry
between them of old.

(9)He uses the familiar _du_.

(10)From this point onward Lovborg use the formal _De_.

(11)In this speech he once more says _du_. Hedda addresses him
throughout as _De_.

(12)"Enest hane i kurven"--a proverbial saying.

(13)Literally, "That you burn for me."

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