Part 2 out of 3
Bernick: Really? How so?
Johan: Well, you see, Lona is no longer young, and lately she
began to be obsessed with home-sickness; but she never would
admit it. (Smiles.) How could she venture to risk leaving such a
flighty fellow as me alone, who before I was nineteen had been
mixed up in...
Bernick: Well, what then?
Johan: Well, Karsten, now I am coming to a confession that I am
ashamed to make.
Bernick: You surely haven't confided the truth to her?
Johan: Yes. It was wrong of me, but I could not do otherwise. You
can have no conception what Lona has been to me. You never could
put up with her; but she has been like a mother to me. The first
year we were out there, when things went so badly with us, you
have no idea how she worked! And when I was ill for a long time,
and could earn nothing and could not prevent her, she took to
singing ballads in taverns, and gave lectures that people laughed
at; and then she wrote a book that she has both laughed and cried
over since then--all to keep the life in me. Could I look on when
in the winter she, who had toiled and drudged for me, began to
pine away? No, Karsten, I couldn't. And so I said, "You go home
for a trip, Lona; don't be afraid for me, I am not so flighty as
you think." And so--the end of it was that she had to know.
Bernick: And how did she take it?
Johan: Well, she thought, as was true, that as I knew I was
innocent nothing need prevent me from taking a trip over here
with her. But make your mind easy; Lona will let nothing out, and
I shall keep my mouth shut as I did before.
Bernick: Yes, yes I rely on that.
Johan: Here is my hand on it. And now we will say no more about
that old story; luckily it is the only mad prank either of us has
been guilty of, I am sure. I want thoroughly to enjoy the few
days I shall stay here. You cannot think what a delightful walk
we had this morning. Who would have believed that that little
imp, who used to run about here and play angels' parts on the
stage--! But tell me, my dear fellow, what became of her parents
Bernick: Oh, my boy, I can tell you no more than I wrote to you
immediately after you went away. I suppose you got my two
Johan: Yes, yes, I have them both. So that drunken fellow
Bernick: And drank himself to death afterwards.
Johan: And she died soon afterwards, too?
Bernick: She was proud; she betrayed nothing, and would accept
Johan: Well, at all events you did the right thing by taking Dina
into your house.
Bernick: I suppose so. As a matter of fact it was Martha that
brought that about.
Johan: So it was Martha? By the way, where is she today?
Bernick: She? Oh, when she hasn't her school to look after, she
has her sick people to see to.
Johan: So it was Martha who interested herself in her.
Bernick: Yes, you know Martha has always had a certain liking for
teaching; so she took a post in the boarding-school. It was very
ridiculous of her.
Johan: I thought she looked very worn yesterday; I should be
afraid her health was not good enough for it.
Bernick: Oh, as far as her health goes, it is all right enough.
But it is unpleasant for me; it looks as though I, her brother,
were not willing to support her.
Johan: Support her? I thought she had means enough of her own.
Bernick: Not a penny. Surely you remember how badly off our
mother was when you went away? She carried things on for a time
with my assistance, but naturally I could not put up with that
state of affairs permanently. I made her take me into the firm,
but even then things did not go well. So I had to take over the
whole business myself, and when we made up our balance-sheet, it
became evident that there was practically nothing left as my
mother's share. And when mother died soon afterwards, of course
Martha was left penniless.
Johan: Poor Martha!
Bernick: Poor! Why? You surely do not suppose I let her want for
anything? No, I venture to say I am a good brother. Of course she
has a home here with us; her salary as a teacher is more than
enough for her to dress on; what more could she want?
Johan: Hm--that is not our idea of things in America.
Bernick: No, I dare say not--in such a revolutionary state of
society as you find there. But in our small circle--in which,
thank God, depravity has not gained a footing, up to now at all
events--women are content to occupy a seemly, as well as modest,
position. Moreover, it is Martha's own fault; I mean, she might
have been provided for long ago, if she had wished.
Johan: You mean she might have married?
Bernick: Yes, and married very well, too. She has had several
good offers--curiously enough, when you think that she is a poor
girl, no longer young, and, besides, quite an insignificant
Bernick: Oh, I am not blaming her for that. I most certainly
would not wish her otherwise. I can tell you it is always a good
thing to have a steady-going person like that in a big house like
this--some one you can rely on in any contingency.
Johan: Yes, but what does she--?
Bernick: She? How? Oh well, of course she has plenty to interest
herself in; she has Betty and Olaf and me. People should not
think first of themselves--women least of all. We have all got
some community, great or small, to work for. That is my
principle, at all events. (Points to KRAP, who has come in from
the right.) Ah, here is an example of it, ready to hand. Do you
suppose that it is my own affairs that are absorbing me just now?
By no means. (Eagerly to KRAP.) Well?
Krap (in an undertone, showing him a bundle of papers): Here are
all the sale contracts, completed.
Bernick: Capital! Splendid!--Well, Johan, you must really excuse
me for the present. (In a low voice, grasping his hand.) Thanks,
Johan, thanks! And rest assured that anything I can do for you--
Well, of course you understand. Come along, Krap. (They go into
Johan (looking after them for a moment): Hm!-- (Turns to go down
to the garden. At the same moment MARTHA comes in from the right,
with a little basket over her arm.) Martha!
Martha: Ah, Johan--is it you?
Johan: Out so early?
Martha: Yes. Wait a moment; the others are just coming. (Moves
towards the door on the left.)
Johan: Martha, are you always in such a hurry?
Johan: Yesterday you seemed to avoid me, so that I never managed
to have a word with you--we two old playfellows.
Martha: Ah, Johan; that is many, many years ago.
Johan: Good Lord--why, it is only fifteen years ago, no more and
no less. Do you think I have changed so much?
Martha: You? Oh yes, you have changed too, although--
Johan: What do you mean?
Martha: Oh, nothing.
Johan: You do not seem to be very glad to see me again.
Martha: I have waited so long, Johan--too long.
Johan: Waited? For me to come?
Johan. And why did you think I would come?
Martha: To atone for the wrong you had done.
Martha: Have you forgotten that it was through you that a woman
died in need and in shame? Have you forgotten that it was through
you that the best years of a young girl's life were embittered?
Johan: And you can say such things to me? Martha, has your
Martha: Never what?
Johan: Has he never--oh, of course, I mean has he never so much
as said a word in my defence?
Martha: Ah, Johan, you know Karsten's high principles.
Johan: Hm--! Oh, of course; I know my old friend Karsten's high
principles! But really this is--. Well, well. I was having a talk
with him just now. He seems to me to have altered considerably.
Martha: How can you say that? I am sure Karsten has always been
an excellent man.
Johan: Yes, that was not exactly what I meant--but never mind.
Hm! Now I understand the light you have seen me in; it was the
return of the prodigal that you were waiting for.
Martha: Johan, I will tell you what light I have seen you in.
(Points down to the garden.) Do you see that girl playing on the
grass down there with Olaf? That is Dina. Do you remember that
incoherent letter you wrote me when you went away? You asked me
to believe in you. I have believed in you, Johan. All the
horrible things that were rumoured about you after you had gone
must have been done through being led astray--from
thoughtlessness, without premeditation.
Johan: What do you mean?
Martha: Oh! you understand me well enough--not a word more of
that. But of course you had to go away and begin afresh--a new
life. Your duties here which you never remembered to undertake--
or never were able to undertake--I have undertaken for you. I
tell you this, so that you shall not have that also to reproach
yourself with. I have been a mother to that much-wronged child; I
have brought her up as well as I was able.
Johan: And have wasted your whole life for that reason.
Martha: It has not been wasted. But you have come late, Johan.
Johan: Martha--if only I could tell you--. Well, at all events
let me thank you for your loyal friendship.
Martha (with a sad smile): Hm.--Well, we have had it out now,
Johan. Hush, some one is coming. Goodbye, I can't stay now. (Goes
out through the farther door on the left. LONA comes in from the
garden, followed by MRS. BERNICK.)
Mrs. Bernick: But good gracious, Lona--what are you thinking of?
Lona: Let me be, I tell you! I must and will speak to him.
Mrs. Bernick: But it would be a scandal of the worst sort! Ah,
Lona: Out with you, my boy; don't stay here in doors; go down
into the garden and have a chat with Dina.
Johan: I was just thinking of doing so.
Mrs. Bernick: But--
Lona: Look here, Johan--have you had a good look at Dina?
Johan: I should think so!
Lona: Well, look at her to some purpose, my boy. That would be
somebody for you!
Mrs. Bernick: But, Lona!
Johan: Somebody for me?
Lona: Yes, to look at, I mean. Be off with you!
Johan: Oh, I don't need any pressing. (Goes down into the
Mrs. Bernick: Lona, you astound me! You cannot possibly be
serious about it?
Lona: Indeed I am. Isn't she sweet and healthy and honest? She is
exactly the wife for Johan. She is just what he needs over there;
it will be a change from an old step-sister.
Mrs. Bernick: Dina? Dina Dorf? But think--
Lona: I think first and foremost of the boy's happiness. Because,
help him I must; he has not much idea of that sort of thing; he
has never had much of an eye for girls or women.
Mrs. Bernick: He? Johan? Indeed I think we have had only too sad
Lona: Oh, devil take all those stupid stories! Where is Karsten?
I mean to speak to him.
Mrs. Bernick: Lona, you must not do it, I tell you.
Lona: I am going to. If the boy takes a fancy to her--and she to
him--then they shall make a match of it. Karsten is such a clever
man, he must find some way to bring it about.
Mrs. Bernick: And do you think these American indecencies will be
Lona: Bosh, Betty!
Mrs. Bernick: Do you think a man like Karsten, with his strictly
moral way of thinking--
Lona: Pooh! he is not so terribly moral.
Mrs. Bernick: What have you the audacity to say?
Lona: I have the audacity to say that Karsten is not any more
particularly moral than anybody else.
Mrs. Bernick: So you still hate him as deeply as that! But what
are you doing here, if you have never been able to forget that? I
cannot understand how you, dare look him in the face after the
shameful insult you put upon him in the old days.
Lona: Yes, Betty, that time I did forget myself badly.
Mrs. Bernick: And to think how magnanimously he has forgiven
you--he, who had never done any wrong! It was not his fault that
you encouraged yourself with hopes. But since then you have
always hated me too. (Bursts into tears.) You have always begrudged
me my good fortune. And now you come here to heap all this on my
head--to let the whole town know what sort of a family I have
brought Karsten into. Yes, it is me that it all falls upon, and
that is what you want. Oh, it is abominable of you! (Goes out by
the door on the left, in tears.)
Lona (looking after her): Poor Betty! (BERNICK comes in from his
room. He stops at the door to speak to KRAP.)
Bernick: Yes, that is excellent, Krap--capital! Send twenty pounds
to the fund for dinners to the poor. (Turns round.) Lona! (Comes
forward.) Are you alone? Is Betty not coming in?
Lona: No. Would you like me to call her?
Bernick: No, no--not at all. Oh, Lona, you don't know how anxious
I have been to speak openly to you--after having begged for your
Lona: Look here, Karsten--do not let us be sentimental; it
doesn't suit us.
Bernick: You must listen to me, Lona. I know only too well how
much appearances are against me, as you have learnt all about
that affair with Dina's mother. But I swear to you that it was
only a temporary infatuation; I was really, truly and honestly,
in love with you once.
Lona: Why do you think I have come home?
Bernick: Whatever you have in your mind, I entreat, you to do
nothing until I have exculpated myself. I can do that, Lona; at
all events I can excuse myself.
Lona: Now you are frightened. You once were in love with me, you
say. Yes, you told me that often enough in your letters; and
perhaps it was true, too--in a way--as long as you were living
out in the great, free world which gave you the courage to think
freely and greatly. Perhaps you found in me a little more
character and strength of will and independence than in most of
the folk at home here. And then we kept it secret between us;
nobody could make fun of your bad taste.
Bernick: Lona, how can you think--?
Lona: But when you came back--when you heard the gibes that were
made at me on all sides--when you noticed how people laughed at
what they called my absurdities...
Bernick: You were regardless of people's opinion at that time.
Lona: Chiefly to annoy the petticoated and trousered prudes that
one met at every turn in the town. And then, when you met that
seductive young actress--
Bernick: It was a boyish escapade--nothing more; I swear to you
that there was no truth in a tenth part of the rumours and gossip
that went about.
Lona: Maybe. But then, when Betty came home--a pretty young girl,
idolised by every one--and it became known that she would inherit
all her aunt's money and that I would have nothing!
Bernick: That is just the point, Lona; and now you shall have the
truth without any beating about the bush. I did not love Betty
then; I did not break off my engagement with you because of any
new attachment. It was entirely for the sake of the money. I
needed it; I had to make sure of it.
Lona: And you have the face to tell me that?
Bernick: Yes, I have. Listen, Lona.
Lona: And yet you wrote to me that an unconquerable passion for
Betty had overcome you--invoked my magnanimity--begged me, for
Betty's sake, to hold my tongue about all that had been between
Bernick: I had to, I tell you.
Lona: Now, by Heaven, I don't regret that I forgot myself as I
did that time--
Bernick: Let me tell you the plain truth of how things stood with
me then. My mother, as you remember, was at the head of the
business, but she was absolutely without any business ability
whatever. I was hurriedly summoned home from Paris; times were
critical, and they relied on me to set things straight. What did
I find? I found--and you must keep this a profound secret--a
house on the brink of ruin. Yes--as good as on the brink of ruin,
this old respected house which had seen three generations of us.
What else could I--the son, the only son--do than look about for
some means of saving it?
Lona: And so you saved the house of Bernick at the cost of a
Bernick: You know quite well that Betty was in love with me.
Lona: But what about me?
Bernick: Believe me, Lona, you would never have been happy with
Lona: Was it out of consideration for my happiness that you
Bernick: Do you suppose I acted as I did from selfish motives? If
I had stood alone then, I would have begun all over again with
cheerful courage. But you do not understand how the life of a man
of business, with his tremendous responsibilities, is bound up
with that of the business which falls to his inheritance. Do you
realise that the prosperity or the ruin of hundreds--of
thousands--depends on him? Can you not take into consideration
the fact that the whole community in which both you and I were
born would have been affected to the most dangerous extent if the
house of Bernick had gone to smash?
Lon: Then is it for the sake of the community that you have
maintained your position these fifteen years upon a lie?
Bernick: Upon a lie?
Lona: What does Betty know of all this...that underlies her union
Bernick: Do you suppose that I would hurt her feelings to no
purpose by disclosing the truth?
Lona: To no purpose, you say? Well, well--You are a man of
business; you ought to understand what is to the purpose. But
listen to me, Karsten--I am going to speak the plain truth now.
Tell me, are you really happy?
Bernick: In my family life, do you mean?
Bernick: I am, Lona. You have not been a self-sacrificing friend
to me in vain. I can honestly say that I have grown happier every
year. Betty is good and willing; and if I were to tell you how,
in the course of years, she has learned to model her character on
the lines of my own--
Bernick: At first, of course, she had a whole lot of romantic
notions about love; she could not reconcile herself to the idea
that, little by little, it must change into a quiet comradeship.
Lona: But now she is quite reconciled to that?
Bernick: Absolutely. As you can imagine, daily intercourse with
me has had no small share in developing her character. Every one,
in their degree, has to learn to lower their own pretensions, if
they are to live worthily of the community to which they belong.
And Betty, in her turn, has gradually learned to understand this;
and that is why our home is now a model to our fellow citizens.
Lona: But your fellow citizens know nothing about the lie?
Bernick: The lie?
Lona: Yes--the lie you have persisted in for these fifteen years.
Bernick: Do you mean to say that you call that--?
Lona: I call it a lie--a threefold lie: first of all, there is the
lie towards me; then, the lie towards Betty; and then, the lie
Bernick: Betty has never asked me to speak.
Lona: Because she has known nothing.
Bernick: And you will not demand it--out of consideration for
Lona: Oh, no--I shall manage to put up with their gibes well
enough; I have broad shoulders.
Bernick: And Johan will not demand it either; he has promised me
Lona: But you yourself, Karsten? Do you feel within yourself no
impulse urging you to shake yourself free of this lie?
Bernick: Do you suppose that of my own free will I would
sacrifice my family happiness and my position in the world?
Lona: What right have you to the position you hold?
Bernick: Every day during these fifteen years I have earned some
little right to it--by my conduct, and by what I have achieved by
Lona: True, you have achieved a great deal by your work, for
yourself as well as for others. You are the richest and most
influential man in the town; nobody in it dares do otherwise than
defer to your will, because you are looked upon as a man without
spot or blemish; your home is regarded as a model home, and your
conduct as a model of conduct. But all this grandeur, and you
with it, is founded on a treacherous morass. A moment may come
and a word may be spoken, when you and all your grandeur will be
engulfed in the morass, if you do not save yourself in time.
Bernick: Lona--what is your object in coming here?
Lona: I want to help you to get firm ground under your feet,
Bernick: Revenge!--you want to revenge yourself! I suspected it.
But you won't succeed! There is only one person here that can
speak with authority, and he will be silent.
Lona: You mean Johan?
Bernick: Yes, Johan. If any one else accuses me, I shall deny
everything. If any one tries to crush me, I shall fight for my
life. But you will never succeed in that, let me tell you! The
one who could strike me down will say nothing--and is going away.
(RUMMEL and VIGELAND come in from the right.)
Rummel: Good morning, my dear Bernick, good morning. You must
come up with us to the Commercial Association. There is a meeting
about the railway scheme, you know.
Bernick: I cannot. It is impossible just now.
Vigeland: You really must, Mr. Bernick.
Rummel: Bernick, you must. There is an opposition to us on foot.
Hammer, and the rest of those who believe in a line along the
coast, are declaring that private interests are at the back of
the new proposals.
Bernick: Well then, explain to them--
Vigeland: Our explanations have no effect, Mr. Bernick.
Rummel: No, no, you must come yourself. Naturally, no one would
dare to suspect you of such duplicity.
Lona: I should think not.
Bernick: I cannot, I tell you; I am not well. Or, at all events,
wait--let me pull myself together. (RORLUND comes in from the
Rorlund: Excuse me, Mr. Bernick, but I am terribly upset.
Bernick: Why, what is the matter with you?
Rorlund. I must put a question to you, Mr. Bernick. Is it with
your consent that the young girl who has found a shelter under
your roof shows herself in the open street in the company of a
Lona: What person, Mr. Parson?
Rorlund: With the person from whom, of all others in the world,
she ought to be kept farthest apart!
Lona: Ha! ha!
Rorlund: Is it with your consent, Mr. Bernick?
Bernick (looking for his hat and gloves). I know nothing about
it. You must excuse me; I am in a great hurry. I am due at the
(HILMAR comes up from the garden and goes over to the farther
door on the left.)
Hilmar: Betty-- Betty, I want to speak to you.
Mrs. Bernick (coming to the door): What is it?
Hilmar: You ought to go down into the garden and put a stop to
the flirtation that is going on between a certain person and Dina
Dorf! It has quite got on my nerves to listen to them.
Lona: Indeed! And what has the certain person been saying?
Hilmar: Oh, only that he wishes she would go off to America with
Rorlund: Is it possible?
Mrs. Bernick: What do you say?
Lona: But that would be perfectly splendid!
Bernick: Impossible! You cannot have heard right.
Hilmar: Ask him yourself, then. Here comes the pair of them.
Only, leave me out of it, please.
Bernick (to RUMMEL and VIGELAND): I will follow you--in a moment.
(RUMMEL and VIGELAND go out to the right. JOHAN and DINA come up
from the garden.)
Johan: Hurrah, Lona, she is going with us!
Mrs. Bernick: But, Johan--are you out of your senses?
Rorlund: Can I believe my ears! Such an atrocious scandal! By
what arts of seduction have you--?
Johan: Come, come, sir--what are you saying?
Rorlund: Answer me, Dina; do you mean to do this--entirely of
your own free will?
Dina: I must get away from here.
Rorlund: But with him!--with him!
Dina: Can you tell me of any one else here who would have the
courage to take me with him?
Rorlund: Very well, then--you shall learn who he is.
Johan: Do not speak!
Bernick: Not a word more!
Rorlund: If I did not, I should be unworthy to serve a community
of whose morals I have been appointed a guardian, and should be
acting most unjustifiably towards this young girl, in whose
upbringing I have taken a material part, and who is to me--
Johan: Take care what you are doing!
Rorlund: She shall know! Dina, this is the man who was the cause
of all your mother's misery and shame.
Bernick: Mr. Rorlund--?
Dina: He! (TO JOHAN.) Is this true?
Johan: Karsten, you answer.
Bernick: Not a word more! Do not let us say another word about it
Dina: Then it is true.
Rorlund: Yes, it is true. And more than that, this fellow-- whom
you were going to trust-- did not run away from home empty-handed;
ask him about old Mrs. Bernick's cash-box.... Mr. Bernick can bear
witness to that!
Mrs. Bernick: My God! my God!
Johan (rushing at RORLUND with uplifted arm): And you dare to--
Lona (restraining him): Do not strike him, Johan!
Rorlund: That is right, assault me! But the truth will out; and
it is the truth--Mr. Bernick has admitted it-- and the whole town
knows it. Now, Dina, you know him. (A short silence.)
Johan (softly, grasping BERNICK by the arm): Karsten, Karsten,
what have you done?
Mrs. Bernick (in tears): Oh, Karsten, to think that I should have
mixed you up in all this disgrace!
Sandstad (coming in hurriedly from the right, and calling out,
with his hand still on the door-handle): You positively must come
now, Mr. Bernick. The fate of the whole railway is hanging by a
Bernick (abstractedly): What is it? What have I to--
Lona (earnestly and with emphasis): You have to go and be a
pillar of society, brother-in-law.
Sandstad: Yes, come along; we need the full weight of your moral
excellence on our side.
Johan (aside, to BERNICK): Karsten, we will have a talk about
this tomorrow. (Goes out through the garden. BERNICK, looking
half dazed, goes out to the right with SANDSTAD.)
(SCENE--The same room. BERNICK, with a cane in his hand and
evidently in a great rage, comes out of the farther room on the
left, leaving the door half-open behind him.)
Bernick (speaking to his wife, who is in the other room): There!
I have given it him in earnest now; I don't think he will forget
that thrashing! What do you say?--And I say that you are an
injudicious mother! You make excuses for him, and countenance any
sort of rascality on his part--Not rascality? What do you call
it, then? Slipping out of the house at night, going out in a
fishing boat, staying away till well on in the day, and giving me
such a horrible fright when I have so much to worry me! And then
the young scamp has the audacity to threaten that he will run
away! Just let him try it!--You? No, very likely; you don't
trouble yourself much about what happens to him. I really believe
that if he were to get killed--! Oh, really? Well, I have work to
leave behind me in the world; I have no fancy for being left
childless--Now, do not raise objections, Betty; it shall be as I
say--he is confined to the house. (Listens.) Hush; do not let any
one notice anything. (KRAP comes in from the right.)
Krap: Can you spare me a moment, Mr. Bernick?
Bernick (throwing away the cane): Certainly, certainly. Have you
come from the yard?
Krap: Yes. Ahem--!
Bernick: Well? Nothing wrong with the "Palm Tree," I hope?
Krap: The "Palm Tree " can sail tomorrow, but
Bernick: It is the "Indian Girl," then? I had a suspicion that
that obstinate fellow--
Krap: The "Indian Girl" can sail tomorrow, too; but I am sure
she will not get very far.
Bernick: What do you mean?
Krap: Excuse me, sir; that door is standing ajar, and I think
there is some one in the other room--
Bernick (shutting the door): There, then! But what is this that
no one else must hear?
Krap: Just this--that I believe Aune intends to let the "Indian
Girl" go to the bottom with every mother's son on board.
Bernick: Good God!--what makes you think that?
Krap: I cannot account for it any other way, sir.
Bernick: Well, tell me as briefly as you can
Krap: I will. You know yourself how slowly the work has gone on
in the yard since we got the new machines and the new
Bernick: Yes, yes.
Krap: But this morning, when I went down there, I noticed that
the repairs to the American boat had made extraordinary progress;
the great hole in the bottom--the rotten patch, you know--
Bernick: Yes, yes--what about it?
Krap: Was completely repaired--to all appearance at any rate,
covered up--looked as good as new. I heard that Aune himself had
been working at it by lantern light the whole night.
Bernick: Yes, yes--well?
Krap: I turned it over in my head for a bit; the hands were away
at their breakfast, so I found an opportunity to have a look
around the boat, both outside and in, without anyone seeing me.
I had a job to get down to the bottom through the cargo, but I
learned the truth. There is something very suspicious going on,
Bernick: I cannot believe it, Krap. I cannot and will not believe
such a thing of Aune.
Krap: I am very sorry--but it is the simple truth. Something very
suspicious is going on. No new timbers put in, as far as I could
see, only stopped up and tinkered at, and covered over with
sailcloth and tarpaulins and that sort of thing--an absolute
fraud. The "Indian Girl" will never get to New York; she will go
to the bottom like a cracked pot.
Bernick: This is most horrible! But what can be his object, do
Krap: Probably he wants to bring the machines into discredit--
wants to take his revenge--wants to force you to take the old
hands on again.
Bernick: And to do this he is willing to sacrifice the lives of
all on board.
Krap: He said the other day that there were no men on board the
"Indian Girl"--only wild beasts.
Bernick: Yes, but--apart from that--has he no regard for the
great loss of capital it would mean?
Krap: Aune does not look upon capital with a very friendly eye,
Bernick: That is perfectly true; he is an agitator and a fomenter
of discontent; but such an unscrupulous thing as this--Look here,
Krap; you must look into the matter once more. Not a word of it
to any one. The blame will fall on our yard if any one hears
anything of it.
Krap: Of course, but--
Bernick: When the hands are away at their dinner you must manage
to get down there again; I must have absolute certainty about it.
Krap: You shall, sir; but, excuse me, what do you propose to do?
Bernick: Report the affair, naturally. We cannot, of course, let
ourselves become accomplices in such a crime. I could not have
such a thing on my conscience. Moreover, it will make a good
impression, both on the press and on the public in general, if it
is seen that I set all personal interests aside and let justice
take its course.
Krap: Quite true, Mr. Bernick.
Bernick: But first of all I must be absolutely certain. And
meanwhile, do not breathe a word of it.
Krap: Not a word, sir. And you shall have your certainty. (Goes
out through the garden and down the street.)
Bernick (half aloud): Shocking!--But no, it is impossible!
(As he turns to go into his room, HILMAR comes in from the
Hilmar: Good morning, Karsten. Let me congratulate you on your
triumph at the Commercial Association yesterday.
Bernick: Thank you.
Hilmar: It was a brilliant triumph, I hear; the triumph of
intelligent public spirit over selfishness and prejudice--
something like a raid of French troops on the Kabyles. It is
astonishing that after that unpleasant scene here, you could--
Bernick: Yes, yes--quite so.
Hilmar: But the decisive battle has not been fought yet.
Bernick: In the matter of the railway, do you mean?
Hilmar: Yes; I suppose you know the trouble that Hammer is
Bernick (anxiously): No, what is that?
Hilmar: Oh, he is greatly taken up with the rumour that is going
around, and is preparing to dish up an article about it.
Bernick: What rumour?
Hilmar: About the extensive purchase of property along the branch
line, of course.
Bernick: What? Is there such a rumour as that going about?
Hilmar: It is all over the town. I heard it at the club when I
looked in there. They say that one of our lawyers has quietly
bought up, on commission, all the forest land, all the mining
land, all the waterfalls--
Bernick: Don't they say whom it was for?
Hilmar: At the club they thought it must be for some company, not
connected with this town, that has got a hint of the scheme you
have in hand, and has made haste to buy before the price of these
properties went up. Isn't it villainous?--ugh!
Hilmar: Yes, to have strangers putting their fingers into our
pie--and one of our own local lawyers lending himself to such a
thing! And now it will be outsiders that will get all the
Bernick: But, after all, it is only an idle rumour.
Hilmar: Meanwhile people are believing it, and tomorrow or the next
day, I have no doubt Hammer will nail it to the counter as a fact.
There is a general sense of exasperation in the town already. I
heard several people say that if the rumour were confirmed they
would take their names off the subscription lists.
Hilmar: Is it? Why do you suppose these mercenary-minded
creatures were so willing to go into the undertaking with you?
Don't you suppose they have scented profit for themselves--
Bernick: It is impossible, I am sure; there is so much public
spirit in our little community--
Hilmar: In our community? Of course you are a confirmed optimist,
and so you judge others by yourself. But I, who am a tolerably
experienced observer--! There isn't a single soul in the place--
excepting ourselves, of course--not a single soul in the place
who holds up the banner of the Ideal. (Goes towards the
verandah.) Ugh, I can see them there--
Bernick: See whom?
Hilmar: Our two friends from America. (Looks out to the right.)
And who is that they are walking with? As I am alive, if it is
not the captain of the "Indian Girl." Ugh!
Bernick: What can they want with him?
Hilmar. Oh, he is just the right company for them. He looks as if
he had been a slave-dealer or a pirate; and who knows what the
other two may have been doing all these years.
Bernick: Let me tell you that it is grossly unjust to think such
things about them.
Hilmar: Yes--you are an optimist. But here they are, bearing down
upon us again; so I will get away while there is time. (Goes
towards the door on the left. LONA comes in from the right.)
Lona: Oh, Hilmar, am I driving you away?
Hilmar: Not at all; I am in rather a hurry; I want to have a word
with Betty. (Goes into the farthest room on the left.)
Bernick (after a moment's silence): Well, Lona?
Bernick: What do you think of me today?
Lona: The same as I did yesterday. A lie more or less--
Bernick: I must enlighten you about it. Where has Johan gone?
Lona: He is coming; he had to see a man first.
Bernick: After what you heard yesterday, you will understand that
my whole life will be ruined if the truth comes to light.
Lona: I can understand that.
Bernick: Of course, it stands to reason that I was not guilty of
the crime there was so much talk about here.
Lona: That stands to reason. But who was the thief?
Bernick: There was no thief. There was no money stolen--not a
Lona: How is that?
Bernick: Not a penny, I tell you.
Lona: But those rumours? How did that shameful rumour get about
Bernick: Lona, I think I can speak to you as I could to no one
else. I will conceal nothing from you. I was partly to blame for
spreading the rumour.
Lona: You? You could act in that way towards a man who for your
Bernick: Do not condemn me without bearing in mind how things
stood at that time. I told you about it yesterday. I came home
and found my mother involved in a mesh of injudicious
undertakings; we had all manner of bad luck--it seemed as if
misfortunes were raining upon us, and our house was on the verge
of ruin. I was half reckless and half in despair. Lona, I believe
it was mainly to deaden my thoughts that I let myself drift into
that entanglement that ended in Johan's going away.
Bernick: You can well imagine how every kind of rumour was set on
foot after you and he had gone. People began to say that it was
not his first piece of folly--that Dorf had received a large sum
of money to hold his tongue and go away; other people said that
she had received it. At the same time it was obvious that our
house was finding it difficult to meet its obligations. What was
more natural than that scandal-mongers should find some
connection between these two rumours? And as the woman remained
here, living in poverty, people declared that he had taken the
money with him to America; and every time rumour mentioned the
sum, it grew larger.
Lona: And you, Karsten--?
Bernick: I grasped at the rumour like a drowning man at a straw.
Lona: You helped to spread it?
Bernick: I did not contradict it. Our creditors had begun to be
pressing, and I had the task of keeping them quiet. The result
was the dissipating of any suspicion as to the stability of the
firm; people said that we had been hit by a temporary piece of
ill-luck--that all that was necessary was that they should not
press us--only give us time and every creditor would be paid in
Lona: And every creditor was paid in full?
Bernick: Yes, Lona, that rumour saved our house and made me the
man I now am.
Lona: That is to say, a lie has made you the man you now are.
Bernick: Whom did it injure at the time? It was Johan's intention
never to come back.
Lona: You ask whom it injured. Look into your own heart, and tell
me if it has not injured you.
Bernick: Look into any man's heart you please, and you will
always find, in every one, at least one black spot which he has
to keep concealed.
Lona: And you call yourselves pillars of society!
Bernick: Society has none better.
Lona: And of what consequence is it whether such a society be
propped up or not? What does it all consist of? Show and lies--
and nothing else. Here are you, the first man in the town, living
in grandeur and luxury, powerful and respected--you, who have
branded an innocent man as a criminal.
Bernick: Do you suppose I am not deeply conscious of the wrong I
have done him? And do you suppose I am not ready to make amends
to him for it?
Lona: How? By speaking out?
Bernick: Would you have the heart to insist on that?
Lona: What else can make amends for such a wrong?
Bernick: I am rich, Lona; Johan can demand any sum he pleases.
Lona: Yes, offer him money, and you will hear what he will say.
Bernick: Do you know what he intends to do?
Lona: No; since yesterday he has been dumb. He looks as if this
had made a grown man of him all at once.
Bernick: I must talk to him.
Lona: Here he comes. (JOHAN comes in from the right.)
Bernick (going towards hint): Johan--!
Johan (motioning him away): Listen to me first. Yesterday morning
I gave you my word that I would hold my tongue.
Bernick: You did.
Johan: But then I did not know--
Bernick: Johan, only let me say a word or two to explain the
Johan: It is unnecessary; I understand the circumstances
perfectly. The firm was in a dangerous position at the time; I
had gone off, and you had my defenceless name and reputation at
your mercy. Well, I do not blame you so very much for what you
did; we were young and thoughtless in those days. But now I have
need of the truth, and now you must speak.
Bernick: And just now I have need of all my reputation for
morality, and therefore I cannot speak.
Johan: I don't take much account of the false reports you spread
about me; it is the other thing that you must take the blame of.
I shall make Dina my wife, and here--here in your town--I mean to
settle down and live with her.
Lona: Is that what you mean to do?
Bernick: With Dina? Dina as your wife?--in this town?
Johan: Yes, here and nowhere else. I mean to stay here to defy
all these liars and slanderers. But before I can win her, you must
Bernick: Have you considered that, if I confess to the one thing,
it will inevitably mean making myself responsible for the other
as well? You will say that I can show by our books that nothing
dishonest happened? But I cannot; our books were not so
accurately kept in those days. And even if I could, what good
would it do? Should I not in any case be pointed at as the man
who had once saved himself by an untruth, and for fifteen years
had allowed that untruth and all its consequences to stand
without having raised a finger to demolish it? You do not know
our community very much, or you would realise that it would ruin
Johan: I can only tell you that I mean to make Mrs. Dorf's
daughter my wife, and live with her in this town.
Bernick (wiping the perspiration from his forehead): Listen to
me, Johan--and you too, Lona. The circumstances I am in just now
are quite exceptional. I am situated in such a way that if you
aim this blow at me you will not only destroy me, but will also
destroy a great future, rich in blessings, that lies before the
community which, after all, was the home of your childhood.
Johan: And if I do not aim this blow at you, I shall be
destroying all my future happiness with my own hand.
Lona: Go on, Karsten.
Bernick: I will tell you, then. It is mixed up with the railway
project, and the whole thing is not quite so simple as you think.
I suppose you have heard that last year there was some talk of a
railway line along the coast? Many influential people backed up
the idea--people in the town and the suburbs, and especially the
press; but I managed to get the proposal quashed, on the ground
that it would have injured our steamboat trade along the coast.
Lona: Have you any interest in the steamboat trade?
Bernick: Yes. But no one ventured to suspect me on that account;
my honoured name fully protected me from that. For the matter of
that, I could have stood the loss; but the place could not have
stood it. So the inland line was decided upon. As soon as that
was done, I assured myself--without saying anything about it--
that a branch line could be laid to the town.
Lona: Why did you say nothing about it, Karsten?
Bernick: Have you heard the rumours of extensive buying up of
forest lands, mines and waterfalls--?
Johan: Yes, apparently it is some company from another part of
Bernick: As these properties are situated at present, they are as
good as valueless to their owners, who are scattered about the
neighbourhood; they have therefore been sold comparatively cheap.
If the purchaser had waited till the branch line began to be
talked of, the proprietors would have asked exorbitant prices.
Lona: Well--what then?
Bernick: Now I am going to tell you something that can be
construed in different ways--a thing to which, in our community,
a man could only confess provided he had an untarnished and
honoured name to take his stand upon.
Bernick: It is I that have bought up the whole of them.
Johan: On your own account?
Bernick: On my own account. If the branch line becomes an
accomplished fact, I am a millionaire; if it does not, I am
Lona: It is a big risk, Karsten.
Bernick: I have risked my whole fortune on it.
Lona: I am not thinking of your fortune; but if it comes to light
Bernick. Yes, that is the critical part of it. With the
unblemished and honoured name I have hitherto borne, I can take
the whole thing upon my shoulders, carry it through, and say to
my fellow-citizens: "See, I have taken this risk for the good of
Lona: Of the community?
Bernick: Yes; and not a soul will doubt my motives.
Lona: Then some of those concerned in it have acted more openly--
without any secret motives or considerations.
Lona: Why, of course, Rummel and Sandstad and Vigeland.
Bernick: To get them on my side I was obliged to let them into
Lona: And they?
Bernick: They have stipulated for a fifth part of the profits as
Lona: Oh, these pillars of society.
Bernick: And isn't it society itself that forces us to use these
underhanded means? What would have happened if I had not acted
secretly? Everybody would have wanted to have a hand in the
undertaking; the whole thing would have been divided up,
mismanaged and bungled. There is not a single man in the town
except myself who is capable of directing so big an affair as
this will be. In this country, almost without exception, it is
only foreigners who have settled here who have the aptitude for
big business schemes. That is the reason why my conscience
acquits me in the matter. It is only in my hands that these
properties can become a real blessing to the many who have to
make their daily bread.
Lona: I believe you are right there, Karsten.
Johan: But I have no concern with the many, and my life's
happiness is at stake.
Bernick: The welfare of your native place is also at stake. If
things come out which cast reflections on my earlier conduct,
then all my opponents will fall upon me with united vigour. A
youthful folly is never allowed to be forgotten in our community.
They would go through the whole of my previous life, bring up a
thousand little incidents in it, interpret and explain
them in the light of what has been revealed; they would crush me
under the weight of rumours and slanders. I should be obliged to
abandon the railway scheme; and, if I take my hand off that, it
will come to nothing, and I shall be ruined and my life as a
citizen will be over.
Lona: Johan, after what we have just heard, you must go away from
here and hold your tongue.
Bernick: Yes, yes, Johan--you must!
Johan: Yes, I will go away, and I will hold my tongue; but I
shall come back, and then I shall speak.
Bernick: Stay over there, Johan; hold your tongue, and I am
willing to share with you--
Johan: Keep your money, but give me back my name and reputation.
Bernick: And sacrifice my own!
Johan: You and your community must get out of that the best way
you can. I must and shall win Dina for my wife. And therefore, I
am going to sail tomorrow in the "Indian Girl"--
Bernick: In the "Indian Girl"?
Johan: Yes. The captain has promised to take me. I shall go over
to America, as I say; I shall sell my farm, and set my affairs in
order. In two months I shall be back.
Bernick: And then you will speak?
Johan: Then the guilty man must take his guilt on himself.
Bernick: Have you forgotten that, if I do that, I must also take
on myself guilt that is not mine?
Johan: Who is it that for the last fifteen years has benefited by
that shameful rumour?
Bernick: You will drive me to desperation! Well, if you speak, I
shall deny everything! I shall say it is a plot against me--that
you have come here to blackmail me!
Lona: For shame, Karsten!
Bernick: I am a desperate man, I tell you, and I shall fight for
my life. I shall deny everything--everything!
Johan: I have your two letters. I found them in my box among my
other papers. This morning I read them again; they are plain
Bernick: And will you make them public?
Johan: If it becomes necessary.
Bernick: And you will be back here in two months?
Johan: I hope so. The wind is fair. In three weeks I shall be in
New York--if the "Indian Girl" does not go to the bottom.
Bernick (with a start): Go to the bottom? Why should the "Indian
Girl" go to the bottom?
Johan: Quite so--why should she?
Bernick (scarcely audibly): Go to the bottom?
Johan: Well, Karsten, now you know what is before you. You must
find your own way out. Good-bye! You can say good-bye to Betty
for me, although she has not treated me like a sister. But I must
see Martha. She shall tell Dina---; she shall promise me--(Goes
out through the farther door on the left.)
Bernick (to himself): The "Indian Girl"--? (Quickly.) Lona, you
must prevent that!
Lona: You see for yourself, Karsten--I have no influence over him
any longer. (Follows JOHAN into the other room.)
Bernick (a prey to uneasy thoughts): Go to the bottom--?
(AUNE comes in from the right.)
Aune: Excuse me, sir, but if it is convenient--
Bernick (turning round angrily): What do you want?
Aune: To know if I may ask you a question, sir.
Bernick: Be quick about it, then. What is it?
Aune: I wanted to ask if I am to consider it as certain--
absolutely certain--that I should be dismissed from the yard if
the "Indian Girl" were not ready to sail tomorrow?
Bernick: What do you mean? The ship is ready to sail?
Aune: Yes--it is. But suppose it were not, should I be
Bernick: What is the use of asking such idle questions?
Aune: Only that I should like to know, sir. Will you answer me
that?--should I be discharged?
Bernick: Am I in the habit of keeping my word or not?
Aune: Then tomorrow I should have lost the position I hold in my
house and among those near and dear to me--lost my influence over
men of my own class--lost all opportunity of doing anything for
the cause of the poorer and needier members of the community?
Bernick: Aune, we have discussed all that before.
Aune: Quite so--then the "Indian Girl" will sail.
(A short silence.)
Bernick: Look here--it is impossible for me to have my eyes
everywhere--I cannot be answerable for everything. You can give
me your assurance, I suppose, that the repairs have been
satisfactorily carried out?
Aune: You gave me very short grace, Mr. Bernick.
Bernick: But I understand you to warrant the repairs?
Aune: The weather is fine, and it is summer.
Bernick: Have you anything else to say to me?
Aune: I think not, sir.
Bernick: Then--the "Indian Girl" will sail...
Aune: Very good. (Bows and goes out. BERNICK stands for a moment
irresolute; then walks quickly towards the door, as if to call
AUNE back; but stops, hesitatingly, with his hand on the door-
handle. At that moment the door is opened from without, and KRAP
Krap (in a low voice): Aha, he has been here. Has he confessed?
Bernick: Hm--; have you discovered anything?
Krap: What need of that, sir? Could you not see the evil
conscience looking out of the man's eyes?
Bernick: Nonsense--such things don't show. Have you discovered
anything, I want to know?
Krap: I could not manage it; I was too late. They had already
begun hauling the ship out of the dock. But their very haste in
doing that plainly shows that--
Bernick: It shows nothing. Has the inspection taken place, then?
Krap: Of course; but--
Bernick: There, you see! And of course they found nothing to
Krap: Mr. Bernick, you know very well how much this inspection
means, especially in a yard that has such a good name as ours
Bernick: No matter--it takes all responsibility off us.
Krap: But, sir, could you really not tell from Aune's manner
Bernick: Aune has completely reassured me, let me tell you.
Krap: And let me tell you, sir, that I am morally certain that--
Bernick: What does this mean, Krap? I see plainly enough that you
want to get your knife into this man; but if you want to attack
him, you must find some other occasion. You know how important it
is to me--or, I should say, to the owners--that the "Indian Girl"
should sail to-morrow.
Krap: Very well--so be it; but if ever we hear of that ship
(VIGELAND comes in from the right.)
Vigeland: I wish you a very good morning, Mr. Bernick. Have you a
moment to spare?
Bernick: At your service, Mr. Vigeland.
Vigeland: I only want to know if you are also of opinion that the
"Palm Tree" should sail tomorrow?
Bernick: Certainly; I thought that was quite settled.
Vigeland: Well, the captain came to me just now and told me that
storm signals have been hoisted.
Bernick: Oh! Are we to expect a storm?
Vigeland: A stiff breeze, at all events; but not a contrary wind-
-just the opposite.
Bernick: Hm--well, what do you say?
Vigeland: I say, as I said to the captain, that the "Palm Tree"
is in the hands of Providence. Besides, they are only going
across the North Sea at first; and in England, freights are
running tolerably high just now, so that--
Bernick: Yes, it would probably mean a loss for us if we waited.
Vigeland: Besides, she is a stout ship, and fully insured as
well. It is more risky, now, for the "Indian Girl"--
Bernick: What do you mean?
Vigeland: She sails tomorrow, too.
Bernick: Yes, the owners have been in such a hurry, and, besides--
Vigeland: Well, if that old hulk can venture out--and with such a
crew, into the bargain--it would be a disgrace to us if we--
Bernick: Quite so. I presume you have the ship's papers with you.
Vigeland: Yes, here they are.
Bernick: Good; then will you go in with Mr. Krap?
Krap: Will you come in here, sir, and we will dispose of them at
Vigeland: Thank you.--And the issue we leave in the hands of the
Almighty, Mr. Bernick. (Goes with KRAP into BERNICK'S room.
RORLUND comes up from the garden.)
Rorlund: At home at this time of day, Mr. Bernick?
Bernick (lost in thought): As you see.
Rorlund: It was really on your wife's account I came. I thought
she might be in need of a word of comfort.
Bernick: Very likely she is. But I want to have a little talk
with you, too.
Rorlund: With the greatest of pleasure, Mr. Bernick. But what is
the matter with you? You look quite pale and upset.
Bernick: Really? Do I? Well, what else could you expect--a man so
loaded with responsibilities as I am? There is all my own big
business--and now the planning of this railway.--But tell me
something, Mr. Rorlund, let me put a question to you.
Rorlund: With pleasure, Mr. Bernick.
Bernick: It is about a thought that has occurred to me. Suppose a
man is face to face with an undertaking which will concern the
welfare of thousands, and suppose it should be necessary to make
a sacrifice of one--?
Rorlund: What do you mean?
Bernick: For example, suppose a man were thinking of starting a
large factory. He knows for certain--because all his experience
has taught him so--that sooner or later a toll of human life will
be exacted in the working of that factory.
Rorlund: Yes, that is only too probable.
Bernick: Or, say a man embarks on a mining enterprise. He takes
into his service fathers of families and young men in the first
flush of their youth. Is it not quite safe to predict that all of
them will not come out of it alive?
Rorlund: Yes, unhappily that is quite true.
Bernick: Well--a man in that position will know beforehand that
the undertaking he proposes to start must undoubtedly, at some
time or other, mean a loss of human life. But the undertaking
itself is for the public good; for every man's life that it
costs, it will undoubtedly promote the welfare of many hundreds.
Rorlund: Ah, you are thinking of the railway--of all the
dangerous excavating and blasting, and that sort of thing--
Bernick: Yes--quite so--I am thinking of the railway. And,
besides, the coming of the railway will mean the starting of
factories and mines. But do not think, nevertheless--
Rorlund: My dear Mr. Bernick, you are almost over-conscientious.
What I think is that, if you place the affair in the hands of
Bernick: Yes--exactly; Providence--
Rorlund: You are blameless in the matter. Go on and build your
Bernick: Yes, but now I will put a special instance to you.
Suppose a charge of blasting-powder had to be exploded in a
dangerous place, and that unless it were exploded the line could
not be constructed? Suppose the engineer knew that it would cost
the life of the workman who lit the fuse, but that it had to be
lit, and that it was the engineer's duty to send a workman to do
Bernick: I know what you will say. It would be a splendid thing
if the engineer took the match himself and went and lit the fuse.
But that is out of the question, so he must sacrifice a workman.
Rorlund: That is a thing no engineer here would ever do.
Bernick: No engineer in the bigger countries would think twice
about doing it.
Rorlund: In the bigger countries? No, I can quite believe it. In
those depraved and unprincipled communities.
Bernick: Oh, there is a good deal to be said for those
Rorlund: Can you say that?--you, who yourself--
Bernick: In the bigger communities a man finds space to carry out
a valuable project--finds the courage to make some sacrifice in a
great cause; but here, a man is cramped by all kinds of petty
considerations and scruples.
Rorlund: Is human life a petty consideration?
Bernick: When that human life threatens the welfare of thousands.
Rorlund: But you are suggesting cases that are quite
inconceivable, Mr. Bernick! I do not understand you at all today.
And you quote the bigger countries--well, what do they
think of human life there? They look upon it simply as part of
the capital they have to use. But we look at things from a
somewhat different moral standpoint, I should hope. Look at our
respected shipping industry! Can you name a single one of our
ship-owners who would sacrifice a human life for the sake of
paltry gain? And then think of those scoundrels in the bigger
countries, who for the sake of profit send out freights in one
unseaworthy ship after another--
Bernick: I am not talking of unseaworthy ships!
Rorlund: But I am, Mr. Bernick.
Bernick: Yes, but to what purpose? They have nothing to do with
the question--Oh, these small, timid considerations! If a General
from this country were to take his men under fire and some of
them were shot, I suppose he would have sleepless nights after
it! It is not so in other countries. You should bear what that
fellow in there says--
Rorlund: He? Who? The American--?
Bernick: Yes. You should hear how in America--
Rorlund: He, in there? And you did not tell me? I shall at once--
Bernick: It is no use; you won't be able to do anything with him.
Rorlund: We shall see. Ah, here he comes. (JOHAN comes in from
the other room.)
Johan (talking back through the open door): Yes, yes, Dina--as
you please; but I do not mean to give you up, all the same. I
shall come back, and then everything will come right between us.
Rorlund: Excuse me, but what did you mean by that? What is it you
propose to do?
Johan: I propose that that young girl, before whom you blackened
my character yesterday, shall become my wife.
Rorlund: Your wife? And can you really suppose that--?
Johan: I mean to marry her.
Rorlund: Well, then you shall know the truth. (Goes to the half-
open door.) Mrs. Bernick, will you be so kind as to come and be a
witness--and you too, Miss Martha. And let Dina come. (Sees LONA
at the door.) Ah, you here too?
Lona: Shall I come too?
Rorlund: As many as you please--the more the better.
Bernick: What are you going to do? (LONA, MRS. BERNICK, MARTHA,
DINA and HILMAR come in from the other room.)
Mrs. Bernick: Mr. Rorlund, I have tried my hardest, but I cannot
Rorlund: I shall prevent him, Mrs. Bernick. Dina, you are a
thoughtless girl, but I do not blame you so greatly. You have too
long lacked the necessary moral support that should have
sustained you. I blame myself for not having afforded you that
Dina: You mustn't speak now!
Mrs. Bernick: What is it?
Rorlund: It is now that I must speak, Dina, although your conduct
yesterday and today has made it ten times more difficult for me.
But all other considerations must give way to the necessity for
saving you. You remember that I gave you my word; you remember
what you promised you would answer when I judged that the right
time had come. Now I dare not hesitate any longer, and therefore-
-. (Turns to JOHAN.) This young girl, whom you are persecuting,
is my betrothed.
Mrs. Bernick: What?
Johan: She? Your--?
Martha: No, no, Dina!
Lona: It is a lie!
Johan: Dina--is this man speaking the truth?
Dina (after a short pause): Yes.
Rorlund: I hope this has rendered all your arts of seduction
powerless. The step I have determined to take for Dina's good, I
now wish openly proclaimed to every one. I cherish the certain
hope that it will not be misinterpreted. And now, Mrs. Bernick, I
think it will be best for us to take her away from here, and try
to bring back peace and tranquillity to her mind.
Mrs. Bernick: Yes, come with me. Oh, Dina--what a lucky girl you
are! (Takes DINA Out to the left; RORLUND follows them.)
Martha: Good-bye, Johan! (Goes out.)
Hilmar (at the verandah door): Hm--I really must say...
Lona (who has followed DINA with her eyes, to JOHAN): Don't be
downhearted, my boy! I shall stay here and keep my eye on the
parson. (Goes out to the right.)
Bernick: Johan, you won't sail in the "Indian Girl" now?
Johan: Indeed I shall.
Bernick: But you won't come back?
Johan: I am coming back.
Bernick: After this? What have you to do here after this?
Johan: Revenge myself on you all; crush as many of you as I can.
(Goes out to the right. VIGELAND and KRAP come in from BERNICK'S
Vigeland: There, now the papers are in order, Mr. Bernick.
Bernick: Good, good.
Krap (in a low voice): And I suppose it is settled that the
"Indian Girl" is to sail tomorrow?
Bernick: Yes. (Goes into his room. VIGELAND and KRAP go out to
the right. HILMAR is just going after them, when OLAF puts his
head carefully out of the door on the left.)
Olaf: Uncle! Uncle Hilmar!
Hilmar: Ugh, is it you? Why don't you stay upstairs? You know you
are confined to the house.
Olaf (coming a step or two nearer): Hush! Uncle Hilmar, have you
heard the news?
Hilmar: Yes, I have heard that you got a thrashing today.
Olaf (looking threateningly towards his father's room): He shan't
thrash me any more. But have you heard that Uncle Johan is going
to sail tomorrow with the Americans?
Hilmar: What has that got to do with you? You had better run
Olaf: Perhaps I shall be going for a buffalo hunt, too, one of
these days, uncle.
Hilmar: Rubbish! A coward like you--
Olaf: Yes--just you wait! You will learn something tomorrow!
Hilmar: Duffer! (Goes out through the garden. OLAF runs into the
room again and shuts the door, as he sees KRAP coming in from the
Krap (going to the door of BERNICK'S room and opening it
slightly): Excuse my bothering you again, Mr. Bernick; but there
is a tremendous storm blowing up. (Waits a moment, but there is
no answer.) Is the "Indian Girl" to sail, for all that? (After a
short pause, the following answer is heard.)
Bernick (from his room): The "Indian Girl" is to sail, for all
(KRAP Shuts the door and goes out again to the right.)
(SCENE--The same room. The work-table has been taken away. It is
a stormy evening and already dusk. Darkness sets in as the
following scene is in progress. A man-servant is lighting the
chandelier; two maids bring in pots of flowers, lamps and
candles, which they place on tables and stands along the walls.
RUMMEL, in dress clothes, with gloves and a white tie, is
standing in the room giving instructions to the servants.)
Rummel: Only every other candle, Jacob. It must not look as if it
were arranged for the occasion--it has to come as a surprise, you
know. And all these flowers--? Oh, well, let them be; it will
probably look as if they stood there everyday. (BERNICK comes
out of his room.)
Bernick (stopping at the door): What does this mean?
Rummel: Oh dear, is it you? (To the servants.) Yes, you might
leave us for the present. (The servants go out.)
Bernick: But, Rummel, what is the meaning of this?
Rummel: It means that the proudest moment of your life has come.
A procession of his fellow citizens is coming to do honour to the
first man of the town.
Rummel: In procession--with banners and a band! We ought to have
had torches too; but we did not like to risk that in this stormy
weather. There will be illuminations--and that always sounds well
in the newspapers.
Bernick: Listen, Rummel--I won't have anything to do with this.
Rummel: But it is too late now; they will be here in half-an-
Bernick: But why did you not tell me about this before?
Rummel: Just because I was afraid you would raise objections to
it. But I consulted your wife; she allowed me to take charge of
the arrangements, while she looks after the refreshments.
Bernick (listening): What is that noise? Are they coming already?
I fancy I hear singing.
Rummel (going to the verandah door): Singing? Oh, that is only
the Americans. The "Indian Girl" is being towed out.
Bernick: Towed out? Oh, yes. No, Rummel, I cannot this evening; I
am not well.
Rummel: You certainly do look bad. But you must pull yourself
together; devil take it--you must! Sandstad and Vigeland and I
all attach the greatest importance to carrying this thing
through. We have got to crush our opponents under the weight of
as complete an expression of public opinion as possible. Rumours
are getting about the town; our announcement about the purchase
of the property cannot be withheld any longer. It is imperative
that this very evening--after songs and speeches, amidst the clink
of glasses--in a word, in an ebullient atmosphere of festivity--
you should inform them of the risk you have incurred for the good
of the community. In such an ebullient atmosphere of festivity--
as I just now described it--you can do an astonishing lot with the
people here. But you must have that atmosphere, or the thing
Bernick: Yes, yes.
Rummel: And especially when so delicate and ticklish a point has
to be negotiated. Well, thank goodness, you have a name that will
be a tower of strength, Bernick. But listen now; we must make our
arrangements, to some extent. Mr. Hilmar Tonnesen has written an
ode to you. It begins very charmingly with the words: "Raise the
Ideal's banner high!" And Mr. Rorlund has undertaken the task of
making the speech of the evening. Of course you must reply to
Bernick: I cannot tonight, Rummel. Couldn't you--?
Rummel: It is impossible, however willing I might be; because, as
you can imagine, his speech will be especially addressed to you.
Of course it is possible he may say a word or two about the rest
of us; I have spoken to Vigeland and Sandstad about it. Our idea
is that, in replying, you should propose the toast of "Prosperity
to our Community"; Sandstad will say a few words on the subject
of harmonious relations between the different strata of society;
then Vigeland will express the hope that this new undertaking may
not disturb the sound moral basis upon which our community
stands; and I propose, in a few suitable words, to refer to the
ladies, whose work for the community, though more inconspicuous,
is far from being without its importance. But you are not
listening to me.
Bernick: Yes--indeed I am. But, tell me, do you think there is a
very heavy sea running outside?
Rummel: Why, are you nervous about the "Palm Tree"? She is fully
insured, you know.
Bernick: Yes, she is insured; but--
Rummel: And in good repair--and that is the main thing.
Bernick: Hm--. Supposing anything does happen to a ship, it
doesn't follow that human life will be in danger, does it? The
ship and the cargo may be lost--and one might lose one's boxes
Rummel: Good Lord--boxes and papers are not of much consequence.
Bernick: Not of much consequence! No, no; I only meant--. Hush--I
hear voices again.
Rummel: It is on board the "Palm Tree."
(VIGELAND comes in from the right.)
Vigeland: Yes, they are just towing the "Palm Tree" out. Good
evening, Mr. Bernick.
Bernick: And you, as a seafaring man, are still of opinion that--
Vigeland: I put my trust in Providence, Mr. Bernick. Moreover, I
have been on board myself and distributed a few small tracts
which I hope may carry a blessing with them.
(SANDSTAD and KRAP come in from the right.)
Sandstad (to some one at the door): Well, if that gets through
all right, anything will. (Comes in.) Ah, good evening, good
Bernick: Is anything the matter, Krap?
Krap: I say nothing, Mr. Bernick.
Sandstad: The entire crew of the "Indian Girl" are drunk; I will
stake my reputation on it that they won't come out of it alive.
(LONA comes in from the right.)
Lona: Ah, now I can say his good-byes for him.
Bernick: Is he on board already?
Lona: He will be directly, at any rate. We parted outside the
Bernick: And he persists in his intention?
Lona: As firm as a rock.
Rummel (who is fumbling at the window): Confound these new-
fangled contrivances; I cannot get the curtains drawn.
Lona: Do you want them drawn? I thought, on the contrary--
Rummel: Yes, drawn at first, Miss Hessel. You know what is in the
wind, I suppose?
Lona: Yes. Let me help you. (Takes hold of the cords.) I will
draw down the curtains on my brother-in-law--though I would much
rather draw them up.
Rummel: You can do that too, later on. When the garden is filled
with a surging crowd, then the curtains shall be drawn back, and
they will be able to look in upon a surprised and happy family.
Citizens' lives should be such that they can live in glass
houses! (BERNICK opens his mouth, as though he were going to say
something; but he turns hurriedly away and goes into his room.)
Rummel: Come along, let us have a final consultation. Come in,
too, Mr. Krap; you must assist us with information on one or two
points of detail. (All the men go into BERNICK'S room. LONA has
drawn the curtains over the windows, and is just going to do the
same over the open glass door, when OLAF jumps down from the room
above on to the garden steps; he has a wrap over his shoulders
and a bundle in his hand.)
Lona: Bless me, child, how you frightened me!
Olaf (hiding his bundle): Hush, aunt!
Lona: Did you jump out of the window? Where are you going?
Olaf: Hush!--don't say anything. I want to go to Uncle Johan--
only on to the quay, you know--only to say goodbye to him. Good-
night, aunt! (Runs out through the garden.)
Lona: No--stop! Olaf--Olaf!
(JOHAN, dressed for his journey, with a bag over his shoulder,
comes warily in by the door on the right.)
Lona (turning round): What! Back again?
Johan: I have still a few minutes. I must see her once more; we
cannot part like this. (The farther door on the left opens, and
MARTHA and DINA, both with cloaks on, and the latter carrying a
small travelling bag in her hand, come in.)
Dina: Let me go to him! Let me go to him!
Martha: Yes, you shall go to him, Dina!
Dina: There he is!
Dina: Take me with you!