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Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen

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Rosmer (getting up restlessly). Then give me my faith back
again!--my faith in you, Rebecca--my faith in your love! Give me a
proof of it! I must have some proof!

Rebecca. Proof? How can I give you a proof--!

Rosmer. You must! (Crosses the room.) I cannot bear this
desolate, horrible loneliness--this-this--. (A knock is heard at
the hall door.)

Rebecca (getting up from her chair). Did you hear that?

(The door opens, and ULRIK BRENDEL comes in. Except that he wears
a white shirt, a black coat and, a good pair of high boots, he is
dressed as in the first act. He looks troubled.)

Rosmer. Ah, it is you, Mr. Brendel!

Brendel. John, my boy, I have come to say good-bye to you!

Rosmer. Where are you going, so late as this?

Brendel. Downhill.

Rosmer. How--?

Brendel. I am on my way home, my beloved pupil. I am homesick for
the great Nothingness.

Rosmer. Something has happened to you, Mr. Brendel! What is it?

Brendel. Ah, you notice the transformation, then? Well, it is
evident enough. The last time I entered your doors I stood before
you a man of substance, slapping a well-filled pocket.

Rosmer. Really? I don't quite understand--

Brendel. And now, as you see me to-night, I am a deposed monarch
standing over the ashes of my burnt-out palace.

Rosmer. If there is any way I can help you

Brendel. You have preserved your childlike heart, John--can you
let me have a loan?

Rosmer. Yes, most willingly!

Brendel. Can you spare me an ideal or two?

Rosmer. What do you say?

Brendel. One or two cast-off ideals? You will be doing a good
deed. I am cleaned out, my dear boy, absolutely and entirely.

Rebecca. Did you not succeed in giving your lecture?

Brendel. No, fair lady. What do you think?--just as I was standing
ready to pour out the contents of my horn in plenty, I made the
painful discovery that I was bankrupt.

Rebecca. But what of all your unwritten works, then?

Brendel. For five and twenty years I have been like a miser
sitting on his locked money-chest. And then to-day, when I opened
it to take out my treasure--there was nothing there! The mills of
time had ground it into dust. There was not a blessed thing left
of the whole lot.

Rosmer. But are you certain of that?

Brendel. There is no room for doubt, my dear boy. The President
has convinced me of that.

Rosmer. The President?

Brendel. Oh, well--His Excellency, then. Ganz nach Belieben.

Rosmer. But whom do you mean?

Brendel. Peter Mortensgaard, of course.

Rosmer. What!

Brendel (mysteriously). Hush, hush, hush! Peter Mortensgaard is
Lord and Chieftain of the Future. I have never stood in a more
august presence. Peter Mortensgaard has the power of omnipotence
in him. He can do whatever he wants.

Rosmer. Oh, come--don't you believe that!

Brendel. It is true, my boy--because Peter Mortensgaard never
wants to do more than he can. Peter Mortensgaard is capable of
living his life without ideals. And that, believe me, is
precisely the great secret of success in life. It sums up all the
wisdom of the world. Basta!

Rosmer (in a low voice). Now I see that you are going away from
here poorer than you came.

Brendel. Bien! Then take an example from your old tutor. Erase
from your mind everything that he imprinted there. Do not build
your castle upon the shifting sand. And look well ahead, and be
sure of your ground, before you build upon the charming creature
who is sweetening your life here.

Rebecca. Do you mean me?

Brendel. Yes, most attractive mermaid!

Rebecca. Why am I not fit to build upon?

Brendel (taking a step nearer to her). I understood that my
former pupil had a cause which it was his life's work to lead to

Rebecca. And if he has--?

Brendel. He is certain of victory--but, be it distinctly
understood, on one unalterable condition.

Rebecca. What is that?

Brendel (taking her gently by the wrist). That the woman who
loves him shall gladly go out into the kitchen and chop off her
dainty, pink and white little finger--here, just at the middle
joint. Furthermore, that the aforesaid loving woman shall--also
gladly--clip off her incomparably moulded left ear. (Lets her go,
and turns to ROSMER.) Good-bye, John the Victorious!

Rosmer. Must you go now--in this dark night?

Brendel. The dark night is best. Peace be with you! (He goes out.
Silence in the room for a short time.)

Rebecca (breathing heavily). How close and sultry it is in here!
(Goes to the window, opens it and stands by it.)

Rosmer (sitting down on a chair by the stove). There is nothing
else for it after all, Rebecca--I can see that. You must go away.

Rebecca. Yes, I do not see that I have any choice.

Rosmer. Let us make use of our last hour together. Come over here
and sit beside me.

Rebecca (goes and sits down on the couch). What do you want,

Rosmer. In the first place I want to tell you that you need have
no anxiety about your future.

Rebecca (with a smile). Hm! My future!

Rosmer. I have foreseen all contingencies--long ago. Whatever may
happen, you are provided for.

Rebecca. Have you even done that for me, dear?

Rosmer. You might have known that I should.

Rebecca. It is many a long day since I thought about anything of
the kind.

Rosmer. Yes, of course. Naturally, you thought things could never
be otherwise between us than as they were.

Rebecca. Yes, that was what I thought.

Rosmer. So did I. But if anything were to happen to me now--

Rebecca. Oh, John, you will live longer than I shall.

Rosmer. I can dispose of my miserable existence as I please, you

Rebecca. What do you mean? You surely are never thinking of--!

Rosmer. Do you think it would be so surprising? After the
pitiful, lamentable defeat I have suffered? I, who was to have
made it my life's work to lead my cause to victory--! And here I
am, a deserter before the fight has even really begun!

Rebecca. Take up the fight again, John! Only try--and you will
see that you will conquer. You will ennoble hundreds--thousands--of
souls. Only try!

Rosmer. I, Rebecca, who no longer believe even in my having a
mission in life?

Rebecca. But your mission has stood the test. You have at all
events ennobled one of your fellow-creatures for the rest of her
life--I mean myself.

Rosmer. Yes--if I dared believe you about that.

Rebecca (wringing her hands). But, John, do you know of nothing--
nothing--that would make you believe that?

Rosmer (starts, as if with fear). Don't venture on that subject!
No further, Rebecca! Not a single word more!

Rebecca. Indeed, that is just the subject we must venture upon.
Do you know of anything that would stifle your doubts? For I know
of nothing in the world.

Rosmer. It is best for you not to know. Best for us both.

Rebecca. No, no, no--I have no patience with that sort of thing!
If you know of anything that would acquit me in your eyes, I
claim it as my right that you should name it.

Rosmer (as if impelled against his will). Well, let us see. You
say that you have great love in your heart; that your soul has
been ennobled through me. Is that so? Have you counted the cost?
Shall we try and balance our accounts? Tell me.

Rebecca. I am quite ready.

Rosmer. Then when shall it be?

Rebecca. Whenever you like. The sooner the better.

Rosmer. Then let me see, Rebecca, whether you--for my sake-this
very night--. (Breaks off.) Oh, no, no!

Rebecca. Yes, John! Yes, yes! Say it, and you shall see.

Rosmer. Have you the courage--are you willing--gladly, as Ulrik
Brendel said--for my sake, to-night--gladly--to go the same way--that
Beata went!

Rebecca (gets up slowly from the couch, and says almost
inaudibly): John--!

Rosmer. Yes, dear--that is the question I shall never be able to
rid my thoughts of, when you have gone away. Every hour of the
day I shall come back to it. Ah, I seem to see you bodily before
me--standing out on the foot-bridge-right out in the middle. Now
you lean out over the railing ! You grow dizzy as you feel drawn
down towards the mill-race! No--you recoil. You dare not do--what
she dared.

Rebecca. But if I had the courage?--and willingly and gladly? What

Rosmer. Then I would believe in you. Then I should get back my
faith in my mission in life--my faith in my power to ennoble my
fellow men--my faith in mankind's power to be ennobled.

Rebecca (takes up her shawl slowly, throws it over her head. and
says, controlling herself): You shall have your faith back.

Rosmer. Have you the courage and the strength of will for that,

Rebecca. Of that you must judge in the morning--or later--when they
take up my body.

Rosmer (burying his head in his hands). There is a horrible
temptation in this--!

Rebecca. Because I should not like to be left lying there--any
longer than need be. You must take care that they find me.

Rosmer (springing up). But all this is madness, you know. Go
away, or stay! I will believe you on your bare word this time

Rebecca. Those are mere words, John. No more cowardice or
evasion! How can you believe me on my bare word after today?

Rosmer. But I do not want to see your defeat, Rebecca.

Rebecca. There will be no defeat.

Rosmer. There will. You will never have the heart to go Beata's

Rebecca. Do you believe that?

Rosmer. Never. You are not like Beata. You are not under the
influence of a distorted view of life.

Rebecca. But I am under the influence of the Rosmersholm view of
Life--now. Whatever my offences are--it is right that I should
expiate them.

Rosmer (looking at her fixedly). Have you come to that decision?

Rebecca. Yes.

Rosmer. Very well. Then I too am under the influence of our
unfettered view of life, Rebecca. There is no one that can judge
us. And therefore we must be our own judges.

Rebecca (misunderstanding his meaning). That too. That too. My
leaving you will save the best that is in you.

Rosmer. Ah, there is nothing left to save in me.

Rebecca. There is. But I--after this I should only be like some
sea-sprite hanging on to the barque you are striving to sail
forward in, and, hampering its progress. I must go overboard. Do
you think I could go through the world bearing the burden of a
spoiled life--brooding for ever over the happiness which I have
forfeited by my past? I must throw up the game, John.

Rosmer. If you go--then I go with you.

Rebecca (looks at him with an almost imperceptible smile, and
says more gently): Yes, come with me, dear--and be witness--

Rosmer. I go with you, I said.

Rebecca. As far as the bridge--yes. You never dare go out on to
it, you know.

Rosmer. Have you noticed that?

Rebecca (in sad and broken tones). Yes. That was what made my
love hopeless.

Rosmer. Rebecca--now I lay my hand on your head. (Does as he
says.) And I take you for my true and lawful wife.

Rebecca (taking both his hands in hers, and bowing her head on to
his breast). Thank you, John. (Lets him go.) And now I am going--

Rosmer. Man and wife should go together.

Rebecca. Only as far as the bridge, John.

Rosmer. And out on to it, too. As far as you go--so far I go with
you. I dare do it now.

Rebecca. Are you absolutely certain that way is the best for you?

Rosmer. I know it is the only way.

Rebecca. But suppose you are only deceiving yourself? Suppose it
were only a delusion--one of these White Horses of Rosmersholm?

Rosmer. It may be so. We can never escape from them--we of my

Rebecca. Then stay, John!

Rosmer. The man shall cleave to his wife, as the wife to her

Rebecca. Yes, but first tell me this--is it you that go with me,
or I that go with you?

Rosmer. We shall never get to the bottom of that.

Rebecca. Yet I should dearly like to know.

Rosmer. We two go with each other, Rebecca. I with you, and you
with me.

Rebecca. I almost believe that is true.

Rosmer. For now we two are one.

Rebecca. Yes. We are one now. Come! We can go gladly now. (They
go out, hand in hand, through the hall, and are seen to turn to
the left. The door stands open after them. The room is empty for
a little while. Then MRS. HELSETH opens the door on the right.)

Mrs. Helseth. The carriage, miss, is--. (Looks round the room.)
Not here? Out together at this time of night? Well, well--I must
say--! Hm! (Goes out into the hall, looks round and comes in
again.) Not sitting on the bench--ah, well! (Goes to the window
and looks out.) Good heavens! What is that white thing--! As I am
a living soul, they are both out on the foot-bridge! God forgive
the sinful creatures--if they are not in each other's arms! (Gives
a wild scream.) Ah!--they are over--both of them! Over into the
mill-race! Help! help! (Her knees tremble, she holds on shakily
to the back of a chair and can scarcely get her words out.) No.
No help here. The dead woman has taken them.

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