Part 1 out of 3
E-Text prepared by Martin Adamson
The Lady From The Sea
by Henrik Ibsen
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling
Ellida Wangel, his second wife.
Hilde (not yet grown up), his daughters by his first wife.
Arnholm (second master at a college).
Young People of the Town.
(The action takes place in small fjord town, Northern Norway.)
The Lady From The Sea
(SCENE.--DOCTOR WANGEL'S house, with a large verandah garden in
front of and around the house. Under the verandah a flagstaff. In
the garden an arbour, with table and chairs. Hedge, with small
gate at the back. Beyond, a road along the seashore. An avenue of
trees along the road. Between the trees are seen the fjord, high
mountain ranges and peaks. A warm and brilliantly clear summer morning.
BALLESTED, middle-aged, wearing an old velvet jacket, and a
broad-brimmed artist's hat, stands under the flagstaff, arranging
the ropes. The flag is lying on the ground. A little way from him is
an easel, with an outspread canvas. By the easel on a camp-stool,
brushes, a palette, and box of colours.
BOLETTE WANGEL comes from the room opening on the verandah. She
carries a large vase with flowers, which she puts down on the table.)
Bolette. Well, Ballested, does it work smoothly?
Ballested. Certainly, Miss Bolette, that's easy enough. May I
ask--do you expect any visitors today?
Bolette. Yes, we're expecting Mr. Arnholm this morning. He got to
town in the night.
Ballested. Arnholm? Wait a minute--wasn't Arnholm the man who was
tutor here several years ago?
Bolette. Yes, it is he.
Ballested. Oh, really! Is he coming into these parts again?
Bolette. That's why we want to have the flag up.
Ballested. Well, that's reasonable enough.
(BOLETTE goes into the room again. A little after LYNGSTRAND
enters from the road and stands still, interested by the easel
and painting gear. He is a slender youth, poorly but carefully
dressed, and looks delicate.)
Lyngstrand (on the other side of the hedge). Good-morning.
Ballested (turning round). Hallo! Good-morning. (Hoists up flag).
That's it! Up goes the balloon. (Fastens the ropes, and then
busies himself about the easel.) Good-morning, my dear sir. I
really don't think I've the pleasure of--Lyngstrand. I'm sure
you're a painter.
Ballested. Of course I am. Why shouldn't I be?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I can see you are. May I take the liberty of
coming in a moment?
Ballested. Would you like to come in and see?
Lyngstrand. I should like to immensely.
Ballested. Oh! there's nothing much to see yet. But come in. Come
a little closer.
Lyngstrand. Many thanks. (Comes in through the garden gate.)
Ballested (painting). It's the fjord there between the islands
I'm working at.
Lyngstrand. So I see.
Ballested. But the figure is still wanting. There's not a model
to be got in this town.
Lyngstrand. Is there to be a figure, too?
Ballested. Yes. Here by the rocks in the foreground a mermaid is
to lie, half-dead.
Lyngstrand. Why is she to be half-dead?
Ballested. She has wandered hither from the sea, and can't find
her way out again. And so, you see, she lies there dying in the
Lyngstrand. Ah, I see.
Ballested. The mistress of this house put it into my head to do
something of the kind.
Lyngstrand. What shall you call the picture when it's finished?
Ballested. I think of calling it "The Mermaid's End."
Lyngstrand. That's capital! You're sure to make something fine of
Ballested (looking at him). In the profession too, perhaps?
Lyngstrand. Do you mean a painter?
Lyngstrand. No, I'm not that; but I'm going to be a sculptor. My
name is Hans Lyngstrand.
Ballested. So you're to be a sculptor? Yes, yes; the art of
sculpture is a nice, pretty art in its way. I fancy I've seen you
in the street once or twice. Have you been staying here long?
Lyngstrand. No; I've only been here a fortnight. But I shall try
to stop till the end of the summer.
Ballested. For the bathing?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I wanted to see if I could get a little
Ballested. Not delicate, surely?
Lyngstrand. Yes, perhaps I am a little delicate; but it's nothing
dangerous. Just a little tightness on the chest.
Ballested. Tush!--a bagatelle! You should consult a good doctor.
Lyngstrand. Yes, I thought of speaking to Doctor Wangel one of
Ballested. You should. (Looks out to the left.) There's another
steamer, crowded with passengers. It's really marvellous how
travelling has increased here of late years.
Lyngstrand. Yes, there's a good deal of traffic here, I think.
Ballested. And lots of summer visitors come here too. I often
hear our good town will lose its individuality with all these
foreign goings on.
Lyngstrand. Were you born in the town?
Ballested. No; but I have accla--acclimatised myself. I feel
united to the place by the bonds of time and habit.
Lyngstrand. Then you've lived here a long time?
Ballested. Well--about seventeen or eighteen years. I came here
with Skive's Dramatic Company. But then we got into difficulties,
and so the company broke up and dispersed in all directions.
Lyngstrand. But you yourself remained here?
Ballested. I remained, and I've done very well. I was then working
chiefly as decorative artist, don't you know.
(BOLETTE comes out with a rocking-chair, which she places on the
Bolette (speaking into the room). Hilde, see if you can find the
embroidered footstool for father.
Lyngstrand (going up to the verandah, bows). Good-morning, Miss
Bolette (by the balustrade). What! Is it you, Mr. Lyngstrand?
Good-morning. Excuse me one moment, I'm only--(Goes into room.)
Ballested. Do you know the family?
Lyngstrand. Not well. I've only met the young ladies now and
again in company; and I had a chat with Mrs. Wangel the last time
we had music up at the "View." She said I might come and see
Ballested. Now, do you know, you ought to cultivate their
Lyngstrand. Yes; I'd been thinking of paying a visit. Just a sort
of call. If only I could find some excuse--
Ballested. Excuse! Nonsense! (Looking out to the left.) Damn it!
(Gathering his things.) The steamer's by the pier already. I must
get off to the hotel. Perhaps some of the new arrivals may want
me. For I'm a hairdresser, too, don't you know.
Lyngstrand. You are certainly very many-sided, sir.
Ballested. In small towns one has to try to acclam--acclimatise
Oneself in various branches. If you should require anything in
the hair line--a little pomatum or such like--you've only to ask
for Dancing-master Ballested.
Lyngstrand. Dancing master!
Ballested. President of the "Wind Band Society," by your leave.
We've a concert on this evening up at the "View." Goodbye, goodbye!
(He goes out with his painting gear through the garden gate.
HILDE comes out with the footstool. BOLETTE brings more flowers.
LYNGSTRAND bows to HILDE from the garden below.)
Hilde (by the balustrade, not returning his bow). Bolette said
you had ventured in today.
Lyngstrand. Yes; I took the liberty of coming in for a moment.
Hilde. Have you been out for a morning walk?
Lyngstrand. Oh, no! nothing came of the walk this morning.
Hilde. Have you been bathing, then?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I've been in the water a little while. I saw
your mother down there. She was going into her bathing-machine.
Hilde. Who was?
Lyngstrand. Your mother.
Hilde. Oh! I see. (She puts the stool in front of the rocking-
Bolette (interrupting). Didn't you see anything of father's boat
out on the fjord?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I thought I saw a sailing-boat that was steering
Bolette. I'm sure that was father. He's been to visit patients on
the islands. (She is arranging things on the table.)
Lyngstrand (taking a step up the stairs to the verandah). Why,
how everything's decorated here with flowers!
Bolette. Yes; doesn't it look nice?
Lyngstrand. It looks lovely! It looks as if it were some festival
day in the house.
Hilde. That's exactly what it is.
Lyngstrand. I might have guessed it! I'm sure it's your father's
Bolette (warningly to HILDE). Hm--hm!
Hilde (taking no notice of her). No, mother's.
Lyngstrand. Oh! Your mother's!
Bolette (in low voice, angrily). Really, Hilde!
Hilde (the same). Let me be! (To LYNGSTRAND.) I suppose you're
going home to breakfast now?
Lyngstrand (going down steps). Yes, I suppose I must go and get
something to eat.
Hilde. I'm sure you find the living very good at the hotel!
Lyngstrand. I'm not staying at the hotel now. It was too
expensive for me.
Hilde. Where are you staying, then?
Lyngstrand. I'm staying up at Mrs. Jensen's.
Hilde. What Mrs. Jensen's?
Lyngstrand. The midwife.
Hilde. Excuse me, Mr. Lyngstrand, but I really have other matters
to attend to-
Lyngstrand. Oh! I'm sure I ought not to have said that.
Hilde. Said what?
Lyngstrand. What I said.
Hilde (looking contemptuously at him). I don't understand you in
Lyngstrand. No, no. But I must say goodbye for the present.
Bolette (comes forward to the steps). Good-bye, good-bye, Mr.
Lyngstrand. You must excuse us now. But another day--when you've
plenty of time--and inclination--you really must come in and see
father and the rest of us.
Lyngstrand. Yes; thanks, very much. I shall be delighted. (Bows,
and goes out through the garden gate. As he goes along the road
he bows again towards the verandah.)
Hilde (in low voice). Adieu, Monsieur! Please remember me to
Bolette (in a low voice, shaking her arm). Hilde! You naughty
child! Are you quite crazy? He might have heard you.
Hilde. Pshaw! Do you think I care about that?
Bolette (looking out to the right). Here's father!
(WANGEL, in travelling dress and carrying a small bag, comes from the
Wangel. See! I'm back again, little girls! (He enters through the
Bolette (going towards him at the bottom of the garden). Oh! It
is delightful that you've come!
Hilde (also going up to him). Now have you got off for the whole
Wangel. Oh! no. I must go down to the office for a little while
presently. I say--do you know if Arnholm has come?
Bolette. Yes; he arrived in the night. We sent to the hotel to
Wangel. Then you've not seen him yet?
Bolette. No; but he's sure to come here this morning.
Wangel. Yes; he's sure to do that.
Hilde (pulling him). Father, now you must look round.
Wangel (looking towards the verandah). Yes, I see well enough,
child. It's quite festive.
Bolette. Now, don't you think we've arranged it nicely?
Wangel. I must say you have. Are--are we alone at home now?
Hilde. Yes; she's gone to--
Bolette (interrupting quickly). Mother has gone to bathe.
Wangel (looks lovingly at BOLETTE, and pats her head. Then he
says, hesitating). Look here, little ones. Do you want to keep
this up all day? And the flag hoisted, too?
Hilde. Surely you understand that, father!
Wangel. Hm! Yes; but you see--
Bolette (looks at him and nods). Surely you can understand we've
been doing all this in honour of Mr. Arnholm. When such a good
friend comes to see you for the first time-
Hilde (smiling, and shaking him). Think! he who used to be
Bolette's tutor, father!
Wangel (with a half-smile). You're a pair of sly minxes. Well--
good heavens--after all, it's but natural we should remember her
who is no more with us. Here, Hilde (Gives her his bag), take
that down to the office. No, children. I don't like this--the
way, I mean. This habit of every year--well--what can one say? I
suppose it can't be managed any other way.
Hilde (about to go out of garden, and, with the bag, stops short,
turns, and points out). Look at that gentleman coming up here.
I'm sure it's your tutor.
Bolette (looks in that direction). He? (Laughs.) That is good! Do
you think that middle-aged fellow is Arnholm?
Wangel. Wait a moment, child. Why, by Jove, I do believe it is
he. Yes, it certainly is.
Bolette (staring at him in quiet amazement). Yes; I almost think--
(ARNHOLM, in elegant morning dress, with gold spectacles, and a
thin cane, comes along the road. He looks overworked. He looks in
at the garden, bows in friendly fashion, and enters by the garden
Wangel (going to meet him). Welcome, dear Arnholm! Heartily
welcome back to your old quarters again!
Arnholm. Thanks, thanks, Doctor Wangel. A thousand thanks. (They
shake hands and walk up the garden together.) And there are the
children! (Holds out his hands and looks at them.) I should
hardly have known these two again.
Wangel. No, I believe you.
Arnholm. And yet--perhaps Bolette--yes, I should have known
Wangel. Hardly, I think. Why, it is eight--nine years since you
saw her. Ah, yes! Many a thing has changed here meanwhile.
Arnholm (looking round). I really don't see it; except that the
trees have grown remarkably, and that you've set up that arbour.
Wangel. Oh! no--outwardly.
Arnholm (smiling). And then, of course, you've two grown-up
daughters here now.
Wangel. Grown up! Well, there's only one grown up.
Hilde (aside). Just listen to father!
Wangel. But now let's sit down up there on the verandah. It's
cooler than here. Won't you?
Arnholm. Thanks, thanks, dear doctor.
(They go up. WANGEL motions him to the rocking-chair.)
Wangel. That's right! Now make yourself comfortable, and rest,
for you seem rather tired after your journey.
Arnholm. Oh, that's nothing. Here, amid these surroundings-
Bolette (to WANGEL). Hadn't we better have some soda and syrup in
the sitting-room? It's sure to be too hot out here soon.
Wangel. Yes, girls. Let's have some soda and syrup, and perhaps a
drop of Cognac, too.
Bolette. Cognac, too!
Wangel. Just a little, in case anyone should like some.
Bolette. All right. Hilde, go down to the office with the bag.
(BOLETTE goes into the room, and closes the door after her.
HILDE takes the bag, and goes through the garden to the back of
Arnholm (who has followed BOLETTE with his eyes). What a
splendid--. They are both splendid girls, who've grown up here
Wangel (sitting down). Yes; you think so, too?
Arnholm. Why, it's simply amazing, how Bolette!--and Hilde, too!
But now, you yourself, dear doctor. Do you think of staying here
all your life?
Wangel. Yes; I suppose so. Why, I've been born and bred here, so
to say. I lived here so very happily with--her who left us so
early--she whom you knew when you were here before, Arnholm.
Arnholm. Yes, yes!
Wangel. And now I live here so happily with her who has taken her
place. Ah! On the whole, fate has been very good to me.
Arnholm. You have no children by your second marriage? Wangel. We
had a little boy, two--two and a half years ago. But he didn't
stay long. He died when he was four--five months old.
Arnholm. Isn't your wife at home today?
Wangel. Oh, yes. She's sure to be here soon. She's down there
bathing. She does so every blessed day no matter what the
Arnholm. Is she ill, then?
Wangel. Not exactly ill, although she has been extremely nervous
for the last few years--that is to say, she is now and then. I
can't make out what really ails her. But to plunge into the sea
is her joy and delight.
Arnholm. Yes; I remember that of old.
Wangel (with an almost imperceptible smile). To be sure! You knew
Ellida when you were teacher out there at Skjoldviken.
Arnholm. Certainly. She used often to visit at the Parsonage. But
I mostly met her when I went to the lighthouse to see her father.
Wangel. Those times out there, you may believe me, have set deep
marks upon her. The people in the town here can't understand her
at all. They call her the "Lady from the Sea."
Arnholm. Do they?
Wangel. Yes. And so--now, you see, speak to her of the old days,
dear Arnholm, it will do her good.
Arnholm (looks at him in doubt). Have you any reason for thinking
Wangel. Assuredly I have.
Ellida (her voice is heard outside the garden). Are you there,
Wangel (rising). Yes, dear.
(Mrs. ELLIDA WANGEL, in a large, light wrap, and with wet hair
hanging loose over her shoulders, comes from between the trees of
the arbour. ARNHOLM rises.)
Wangel (smiling, and holding out his hands to her). Ah! So now we
have our Mermaid!
Ellida (goes quickly up the verandah, and seizes his hands).
Thank God that I see you again! When did you come?
Wangel. Just now; a little while since. (Pointing to ARNHOLM.)
But won't you greet an old acquaintance?
Ellida (holding out her hand to ARNHOLM). So here you are!
Welcome! And forgive me for not being at home--
Arnholm. Don't mention it--don't stand on any ceremony.
Wangel. Was the water nice and fresh today?
Ellida. Fresh! Oh! The water here never is fresh. It is so tepid
and lifeless. Ugh! The water in the fjord here is sick.
Ellida. Yes, sick. And I believe it makes one sick, too.
Wangel (smiling). You're giving our bathing resort a good name!
Arnholm. I should rather believe, Mrs. Wangel, that you have a
peculiar relation to the sea, and to all that belongs to it.
Ellida. Perhaps; I almost think so myself. But do you see how
festively the girls have arranged everything in your honour?
Wangel (embarrassed). Hm! (Looks at his watch.) Well, I suppose I
must be quick and--
Arnholm. Is it really for me?
Ellida. Yes. You may be sure we don't decorate like this every
day. Ugh! How suffocatingly hot it is under this roof. (Goes down
into the garden.) Come over here. Here at least there is a little
air. (Sits down in arbour.)
Arnholm (going thither). I think the air quite fresh here.
Ellida. Yes, you--who are used to the stifling air of the town!
It's terrible there in the summer, I hear.
Wangel (who has also gone into the garden). Hm, dear Ellida, you
must just entertain our friend alone for a little while.
Ellida. Are you busy?
Wangel. Yes, I must go down to the office. And then I must
change. But I won't be long.
Arnholm (sitting down in arbour). Now, don't hurry, dear doctor.
Your wife and I will manage to kill the time.
Wangel (nodding). Oh, yes! I'm sure you will. Well, goodbye for
the present. (He goes out through the garden.)
Ellida (after a short pause). Don't you think it's pleasant
sitting out here?
Arnholm. I think I've a pleasant seat now.
Ellida. They call this my arbour, because I had it fitted up, or
rather Wangel did, for me.
Arnholm. And you usually sit here?
Ellida. Yes, I pass most of the day here.
Arnholm. With the girls, I suppose?
Ellida. No, the girls--usually sit on the verandah.
Arnholm. And Wangel himself?
Ellida. Oh! Wangel goes to and fro--now he comes to me, and then
he goes to his children.
Arnholm. And is it you who wish this?
Ellida. I think all parties feel most comfortable in this way.
You know we can talk across to one another--if we happen to find
there is anything to say.
Arnholm (after thinking awhile). When I last crossed your path--
out at Skjoldviken, I mean--Hm! That is long ago now.
Ellida. It's quite ten years since you were there with us.
Arnholm. Yes, about that. But when I think of you out there in
the lighthouse! The heathen, as the old clergyman called you,
because your father had named you, as he said, after an old ship,
and hadn't given you a name fit for a Christian.
Ellida. Well, what then?
Arnholm. The last thing I should then have believed was that I
should see you again down here as the wife of Wangel.
Ellida. No; at that time Wangel wasn't--at that time the girls'
first mother was still living. Their real mother, so-
Arnholm. Of course, of course! But even if that had not been-
even if he had been free--still, I could never have believed this
would come about.
Ellida. Nor I. Never on earth--then.
Arnholm. Wangel is such a good fellow. So honourable. So
thoroughly good and kind to all men.
Ellida (warmly and heartily). Yes, he is indeed.
Arnholm. But he must be so absolutely different from you, I
Ellida. You are right there. So he is.
Arnholm. Well, but how did it happen? How did it come about?
Ellida. Ah! dear Arnholm, you mustn't ask me about that. I
couldn't explain it to you, and even if I could, you would never
be able to understand, in the least.
Arnholm. Hm! (In lower tone.) Have you ever confided anything
about me to your husband? Of course, I meant about the useless
step--I allowed myself to be moved to.
Ellida. No. You may be sure of that. I've not said a word to him
about--about what you speak of.
Arnholm. I am glad. I felt rather awkward at the thought that--
Ellida. There was no need. I have only told him what is true--
that I liked you very much, and that you were the truest and best
friend I had out there.
Arnholm. Thanks for that. But tell me--why did you never write to
me after I had gone away?
Ellida. I thought that perhaps it would pain you to hear from one
who--who could not respond as you desired. It seemed like re-
opening a painful subject.
Arnholm. Hm. Yes, yes, perhaps you were right.
Ellida. But why didn't you write?
Arnholm (looks at her and smiles, half reproachfully). I make the
first advance? Perhaps expose myself to the suspicion of wanting
to begin all over again? After such a repulse as I had had?
Ellida. Oh no! I understand very well. Have you never since
thought of forming any other tie?
Arnholm. Never! I have been faithful to my first memories.
Ellida (half jestingly). Nonsense! Let the sad old memories
alone. You'd better think of becoming a happy husband, I should
Arnholm. I should have to be quick about it, then, Mrs. Wangel.
Remember, I'm already--I'm ashamed to say--I'm past thirty-seven.
Ellida. Well, all the more reason for being quick. (She is silent
for a moment, and then says, earnestly, in a low voice.) But
listen, dear Arnholm; now I am going to tell you something that I
could not have told you then, to save my life.
Arnholm. What is it?
Ellida. When you took the--the useless step you were just
speaking of--I could not answer you otherwise than I did.
Arnholm. I know that you had nothing but friendship to give me; I
know that well enough.
Ellida. But you did not know that all my mind and soul were then
Arnholm. At that time!
Arnholm. But it is impossible. You are mistaken about the time. I
hardly think you knew Wangel then.
Ellida. It is not Wangel of whom I speak.
Arnholm. Not Wangel? But at that time, out there at Skjoldviken--
I can't remember a single person whom I can imagine the
possibility of your caring for.
Ellida. No, no, I quite believe that; for it was all such
bewildering madness--all of it.
Arnholm. But tell me more of this.
Ellida. Oh! it's enough if you know I was bound then; and you
know it now.
Arnholm. And if you had not been bound?
Arnholm. Would your answer to my letter have been different?
Ellida. How can I tell? When Wangel came the answer was
Arnholm. What is your object, then, in telling me that you were
Ellida (getting up, as if in fear and unrest). Because I must
have someone in whom to confide. No, no; sit still.
Arnholm. Then your husband knows nothing about this?
Ellida. I confessed to him from the first that my thoughts had
once been elsewhere. He never asked to know more, and we have
never touched upon it since. Besides, at bottom it was simply
madness. And then it was over directly--that is to a certain
Arnholm (rising). Only to a certain extent? Not quite?
Ellida. Yes, yes, it is! Oh, good heavens! Dear Arnholm, it is
not what you think. It is something so absolutely
incomprehensible, I don't know how I could tell it you. You would
only think I was ill, or quite mad.
Arnholm. My dearest lady! Now you really must tell me all about
Ellida. Well, then, I'll try to. How will you, as a sensible man,
explain to yourself that--(Looks round, and breaks off.) Wait a
moment. Here's a visitor.
(LYNGSTRAND comes along the road, and enters the garden. He has a
flower in his button-hole, and carries a large, handsome bouquet
done up in paper and silk ribbons. He stands somewhat
hesitatingly and undecidedly by the verandah.)
Ellida (from the arbour). Have you come to see the girls, Mr.
Lyngstrand (turning round). Ah, madam, are you there? (Bows, and
comes nearer.) No, it's not that. It's not the young ladies. It's
you yourself, Mrs. Wangel. You know you gave me permission to
come and see you-
Ellida. Of course I did. You are always welcome here.
Lyngstrand. Thanks; and as it falls out so luckily that it's a
festival here today--
Ellida. Oh! Do you know about that?
Lyngstrand. Rather! And so I should like to take the liberty of
presenting this to Mrs. Wangel. (Bows, and offers her the
Ellida (smiling). But, my dear Mr. Lyngstrand, oughtn't you to
give these lovely flowers to Mr. Arnholm himself? For you know
it's really he-
Lyngstrand (looking uncertainly at both of them). Excuse me,
but I don't know this gentleman. It's only--I've only come about
the birthday, Mrs. Wangel.
Ellida. Birthday? You've made a mistake, Mr. Lyngstrand. There's
no birthday here today.
Lyngstrand (smiling slyly). Oh! I know all about that! But I
didn't think it was to be kept so dark.
Ellida. What do you know?
Lyngstrand. That it is Madam's birthday.
Arnholm (looks questioningly at her). Today? Surely not.
Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Whatever made you think that?
Lyngstrand. It was Miss Hilde who let it out. I just looked in
here a little while ago, and I asked the young ladies why they
were decorating the place like this, with flowers and flags.
Lyngstrand. And so Miss Hilde said, "Why, today is mother's
Ellida. Mother's!--I see.
Arnholm. Aha! (He and ELLIDA exchange a meaning look.) Well, now
that the young man knows about it--
Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Well, now that you know--
Lyngstrand (offering her the bouquet again). May I take the
liberty of congratulating you?
Ellida (taking the flowers). My best thanks. Won't you sit down a
moment, Mr. Lyngstrand? (ELLIDA, ARNHOLM, and LYNGSTRAND sit down
in the arbour.) This--birthday business--was to have been kept secret,
Arnholm. So I see. It wasn't for us uninitiated folk!
Ellida (putting down the bouquet). Just so. Not for the uninitiated.
Lyngstrand. 'Pon my word, I won't tell a living soul about it.
Ellida. Oh, it wasn't meant like that. But how are you getting
on? I think you look better than you did.
Lyngstrand. Oh! I think I'm getting on famously. And by next
year, if I can go south--
Ellida. And you are going south, the girls tell me.
Lyngstrand. Yes, for I've a benefactor and friend at Bergen, who
looks after me, and has promised to help me next year.
Ellida. How did you get such a friend?
Lyngstrand. Well, it all happened so very luckily. I once went to
sea in one of his ships.
Ellida. Did you? So you wanted to go to sea?
Lyngstrand. No, not at all. But when mother died, father wouldn't
have me knocking about at home any longer, and so he sent
me to sea. Then we were wrecked in the English Channel on
our way home; and that was very fortunate for me.
Arnholm. What do you mean?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for it was in the shipwreck that I got this
little weakness--of my chest. I was so long in the ice-cold water
before they picked me up; and so I had to give up the sea. Yes,
that was very fortunate.
Arnholm. Indeed! Do you think so?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for the weakness isn't dangerous; and now I can
be a sculptor, as I so dearly want to be. Just think; to model in
that delicious clay, that yields so caressingly to your fingers!
Ellida. And what are you going to model? Is it to be mermen and
mermaids? Or is it to be old Vikings?
Lyngstrand. No, not that. As soon as I can set about it, I am
going to try if I can produce a great work--a group, as they call
Ellida. Yes; but what's the group to be?
Lyngstrand. Oh! something I've experienced myself.
Arnholm. Yes, yes; always stick to that.
Ellida. But what's it to be?
Lyngstrand. Well, I thought it should be the young wife of a
sailor, who lies sleeping in strange unrest, and she is dreaming.
I fancy I shall do it so that you will see she is dreaming.
Arnholm. Is there anything else?
Lyngstrand. Yes, there's to be another figure--a sort of
apparition, as they say. It's her husband, to whom she has been
faithless while he was away, and he is drowned at sea.
Lyngstrand. Yes, he was drowned on a sea voyage. But that's the
wonderful part of it--he comes home all the same. It is night-
time. And he is standing by her bed looking at her. He is to
stand there dripping wet, like one drawn from the sea.
Ellida (leaning back in her chair). What an extraordinary idea!
(Shutting her eyes.) Oh! I can see it so clearly, living before
Arnholm. But how on earth, Mr.--Mr.--I thought you said it was to
be something you had experienced.
Lyngstrand. Yes. I did experience that--that is to say, to a
Arnholm. You saw a dead man?
Lyngstrand. Well, I don't mean I've actually seen this--
experienced it in the flesh. But still--
Ellida (quickly, intently). Oh! tell me all you can about it! I
must understand about all this.
Arnholm (smiling). Yes, that'll be quite in your line. Something
that has to do with sea fancies.
Ellida. What was it, Mr. Lyngstrand?
Lyngstrand. Well, it was like this. At the time when we were to
sail home in the brig from a town they called Halifax, we had to
leave the boatswain behind in the hospital. So we had to engage
an American instead. This new boatswain-
Ellida. The American?
Lyngstrand. Yes, one day he got the captain to lend him a lot of
old newspapers and he was always reading them. For he wanted to
teach himself Norwegian, he said.
Ellida. Well, and then?
Lyngstrand. It was one evening in rough weather. All hands were
on deck--except the boatswain and myself. For he had sprained his
foot and couldn't walk, and I was feeling rather low, and was
lying in my berth. Well, he was sitting there in the forecastle,
reading one of those old papers again.
Ellida. Well, well!
Lyngstrand. But just as he was sitting there quietly reading, I
heard him utter a sort of yell. And when I looked at him, I saw
his face was as white as chalk. And then he began to crush and
crumple the paper, and to tear it into a thousand shreds. But he
did it so quietly, quietly.
Ellida. Didn't he say anything? Didn't he speak?
Lyngstrand. Not directly; but a little after he said to himself,
as it were: "Married--to another man. While I was away."
Ellida (closes her eyes, and says, half to herself). He said
Lyngstrand. Yes. And think--he said it in perfect Norwegian. That
man must have learnt foreign languages very easily--
Ellida. And what then? What else happened?
Lyngstrand. Well, now the remarkable part is coming--that I shall
never forget as long as I live. For he added, and that quite
quietly, too: "But she is mine, and mine she shall remain. And
she shall follow me, if I should come home and fetch her, as a
drowned man from the dark sea."
Ellida (pouring herself out a glass of water. Her hand trembles).
Ah! How close it is here today.
Lyngstrand. And he said this with such strength of will that I
thought he must be the man to do it.
Ellida. Don't you know anything about--what became of the man?
Lyngstrand. Oh! madam, he's certainly not living now.
Ellida (quickly). Why do you think that?
Lyngstrand. Why? Because we were shipwrecked afterwards in
the Channel. I had got into the longboat with the captain and five
others. The mate got into the stern-boat; and the American was
in that too, and another man.
Ellida. And nothing has been heard of them since?
Lyngstrand. Not a word. The friend who looks after me said so
quite recently in a letter. But it's just because of this I was
so anxious to make it into a work of art. I see the faithless
sailor-wife so life-like before me, and the avenger who is
drowned, and who nevertheless comes home from the sea. I can see
them both so distinctly.
Ellida. I, too. (Rises.) Come; let us go in--or, rather, go down
to Wangel. I think it is so suffocatingly hot. (She goes out of
Lyngstrand (who has also risen). I, for my part, must ask you to
excuse me. This was only to be a short visit because of the
Ellida. As you wish. (Holds out her hand to him.) Goodbye, and
thank you for the flowers.
(LYNGSTRAND bows, and goes off through the garden gate.)
Arnholm (rises, and goes up to ELLIDA). I see well enough that
this has gone to your heart, Mrs. Wangel.
Ellida. Yes; you may well say so. Although-
Arnholm. But still--after all, it's no more than you were bound to expect.
Ellida (looks at him surprised). Expect!
Arnholm. Well, so it seems to me.
Ellida. Expect that anyone should come back again!--come to life
again like that!
Arnholm. But what on earth!--is it that mad sculptor's sea story,
Ellida. Oh, dear Arnholm, perhaps it isn't so mad after all!
Arnholm. Is it that nonsense about the dead man that has moved
you so? And I who thought that--
Ellida. What did you think?
Arnholm. I naturally thought that was only a make-believe of
yours. And that you were sitting here grieving because you had
found out a family feast was being kept secret; because your
husband and his children live a life of remembrances in which you
have no part.
Ellida. Oh! no, no! That may be as it may. I have no right to
claim my husband wholly and solely for myself.
Arnholm. I should say you had.
Ellida. Yes. Yet, all the same, I have not. That is it. Why, I,
too, live in something from which they are shut out.
Arnholm. You! (In lower tone.) Do you mean?--you, you do not
really love your husband!
Ellida. Oh! yes, yes! I have learnt to love him with all my
heart! And that's why it is so terrible-so inexplicable--so
Arnholm. Now you must and shall confide all your troubles to me.
Will you, Mrs. Wangel?
Ellida. I cannot, dear friend. Not now, in any case. Later,
(BOLETTE comes out into the verandah, and goes down into the
Bolette. Father's coming up from the office. Hadn't we better all
of us go into the sitting-room?
Ellida. Yes, let us.
(WANGEL, in other clothes, comes with HILDE from behind the
Wangel. Now, then, here I am at your service. And now we shall
enjoy a good glass of something cool.
Ellida. Wait a moment. (She goes into the arbour and fetches the
Hilde. I say! All those lovely flowers! Where did you get them?
Ellida. From the sculptor, Lyngstrand, my dear Hilde.
Hilde (starts). From Lyngstrand?
Bolette (uneasily). Has Lyngstrand been here again?
Ellida (with a half-smile). Yes. He came here with these. Because
of the birthday, you understand.
Bolette (looks at HILDE). Oh!
Hilde (mutters). The idiot!
Wangel (in painful confusion to ELLIDA). Hm!--yes, well you see-I
must tell you, my dear, good, beloved Ellida--
Ellida (interrupting). Come, girls! Let us go and put my flowers
in the water together with the others. (Goes up to the verandah.)
Bolette (to HILDE). Oh! After all she is good at heart.
Hilde (in a low tone with angry look). Fiddlesticks! She only
does it to take in father.
Wangel (on the verandah, presses ELLIDA'S hand). Thanks-thanks!
My heartfelt thanks for that, dear Ellida.
Ellida (arranging the flowers). Nonsense! Should not I, too, be
in it, and take part in--in mother's birthday?
(He goes up to WANGEL, and ELLIDA, BOLETTE, and HILDE remain in
the garden below.)
(SCENE.--At the "View," a shrub-covered hill behind the town. A
little in the background, a beacon and a vane. Great stones
arranged as seats around the beacon, and in the foreground.
Farther back the outer fjord is seen, with islands and
outstanding headlands. The open sea is not visible. It is a
summer's evening, and twilight. A golden-red shimmer is in the
airand over the mountain-tops in the far distance. A quartette is
faintly heard singing below in the background. Young townsfolk,
ladies and gentlemen, come up in pairs, from the right, and,
talking familiarly, pass out beyond the beacon. A little after,
BALLESTED enters, as guide to a party of foreign tourists with
their ladies. He is laden with shawls and travelling bags.)
Ballested (pointing upwards with a stick). Sehen Sie, meine
Herrschaften, dort, out there, liegt eine andere mountain, That
wollen wir also besteigen, and so herunter. (He goes on with the
conversation in French, and leads the party off to the left.
HILDE comes quickly along the uphill path, stands still, and
looks back. Soon after BOLETTE comes up the same way.)
Bolette. But, dear, why should we run away from Lyngstrand?
Hilde. Because I can't bear going uphill so slowly. Look--look
at him crawling up!
Bolette. Ah! But you know how delicate he is.
Hilde. Do you think it's very--dangerous?
Bolette. I certainly do.
Hilde. He went to consult father this afternoon. I should like to
know what father thinks about him.
Bolette. Father told me it was a thickening of the lungs, or
something of the sort. He won't live to be old, father says.
Hilde. No! Did he say it? Fancy--that's exactly what I thought.
Bolette. For heaven's sake don't show it!
Hilde. How can you imagine such a thing? (In an undertone.) Look,
here comes Hans crawling up. Don't you think you can see by the
look of him that he's called Hans?
Bolette (whispering). Now do behave! You'd better!
(LYNGSTRAND comes in from the right, a parasol in his hand.)
Lyngstrand. I must beg the young ladies to excuse me for not
getting along as quickly as they did.
Hilde. Have you got a parasol too, now?
Lyngstrand. It's your mother's. She said I was to use it as a stick.
I hadn't mine with me.
Bolette. Are they down there still--father and the others?
Lyngstrand. Yes; your father looked in at the restaurant for a
moment, and the others are sitting out there listening to the
music. But they were coming up here presently, your mother said.
Hilde (stands looking at him). I suppose you're thoroughly tired
Lyngstrand. Yes; I almost think I'm a little tired now. I really
believe I shall have to sit down a moment. (He sits on one of the
stones in the foreground.)
Hilde (standing in front of him). Do you know there's to be
dancing down there on the parade?
Lyngstrand. Yes; I heard there was some talk about it.
Hilde. I suppose you think dancing's great fun?
Bolette (who begins gathering small flowers among the heather).
Oh, Hilde! Now do let Mr. Lyngstrand get his breath.
Lyngstrand (to HILDE). Yes, Miss Hilde; I should very much like
to dance--if only I could.
Hilde. Oh, I see! Haven't you ever learnt?
Lyngstrand. No, I've not. But it wasn't that I meant. I meant I
couldn't because of my chest.
Hilde. Because of that weakness you said you suffered from?
Lyngstrand. Yes; because of that.
Hilde. Aren't you very sorry you've that--weakness?
Lyngstrand. Oh, no! I can't say I am (smiling), for I think it's
because of it that everyone is so good, and friendly, and kind to
Hilde. Yes. And then, besides, it's not dangerous.
Lyngstrand. No; it's not at all dangerous. So I gathered from
what your father said to me.
Hilde. And then it will pass away as soon as ever you begin
Lyngstrand. Of course it will pass away.
Bolette (with flowers). Look here, Mr. Lyngstrand, you are to put
this in your button-hole.
Lyngstrand. Oh! A thousand thanks, Miss Wangel. It's really too
good of you.
Hilde (looking down the path). There they are, coming along the
Bolette (also looking down). If only they know where to turn off.
No; now they're going wrong.
Lyngstrand (rising). I'll run down to the turning and call out to
Hilde. You'll have to call out pretty loud.
Bolette. No; it's not worth while. You'll only tire yourself
Lyngstrand. Oh, it's so easy going downhill. (Goes off to the
Hilde. Down-hill--yes. (Looking after him.) Why, he's actually
jumping! And he never remembers he'll have to come up again.
Bolette. Poor fellow!
Hilde. If Lyngstrand were to propose, would you accept him?
Bolette. Are you quite mad?
Hilde. Of course, I mean if he weren't troubled with that
"weakness." And if he weren't to die so soon, would you have him
Bolette. I think you'd better have him yourself!
Hilde. No, that I wouldn't! Why, he hasn't a farthing. He hasn't
enough even to keep himself.
Bolette. Then why are you always going about with him?
Hilde. Oh, I only do that because of the weakness.
Bolette. I've never noticed that you in the least pity him for
Hilde. No, I don't. But I think it so interesting.
Bolette. What is?
Hilde. To look at him and make him tell you it isn't dangerous;
and that he's going abroad, and is to be an artist. He really
believes it all, and is so thoroughly happy about it. And yet
nothing will ever come of it; nothing whatever. For he won't live
long enough. I feel that's so fascinating to think of.
Hilde. Yes, I think it's most fascinating. I take that liberty.
Bolette. Hilde, you really are a dreadful child!
Hilde. That's just what I want to be--out of spite. (Looking
down.) At last! I shouldn't think Arnholm liked coming up-hill.
(Turns round.) By the way, do you know what I noticed about
Arnholm at dinner?
Hilde. Just think--his hair's beginning to come off--right on the
top of his head.
Bolette. Nonsense! I'm sure that's not true.
Hilde. It is! And then he has wrinkles round both his eyes. Good
gracious, Bolette, how could you be so much in love with him when
he used to read with you?
Bolette (smiling). Yes. Can you believe it? I remember I once
shed bitter tears because he thought Bolette was an ugly name.
Hilde. Only to think! (Looking down.) No! I say, do just look
down here! There's the "Mermaid" walking along and chatting with
him. Not with father. I wonder if those two aren't making eyes at
Bolette. You ought to be ashamed of yourself! How can you stand
there and say such a thing of her? Now, when everything was
beginning to be so pleasant between us.
Hilde. Of course--just try and persuade yourself of that, my
child! Oh, no! It will never be pleasant between us and her. For
she doesn't belong to us at all. And we don't belong to her
either. Goodness knows what father dragged her into the house
for! I shouldn't wonder if some fine day she went mad under our
Bolette. Mad! How can you think such a thing?
Hilde. Oh! it wouldn't be so extraordinary. Her mother went mad,
too. She died mad--I know that.
Bolette. Yes, heaven only knows what you don't poke your nose
into. But now don't go chattering about this. Do be good--for
father's sake. Do you hear, Hilde?
(WANGEL, ELLIDA, ARNHOLM and LYNGSTRAND come up from the right.)
Ellida (pointing to the background). Out there it lies.
Arnholm. Quite right. It must be in that direction.
Ellida. Out there is the sea.
Bolette (to ARNHOLM). Don't you think it is delightful up here?
Arnholm. It's magnificent, I think. Glorious view!
Wangel. I suppose you never used to come up here?
Arnholm. No, never. In my time I think it was hardly accessible;
there wasn't any path even.
Wangel. And no grounds. All this has been done during the last
Bolette. And there, at the "Pilot's Mount," it's even grander
Wangel. Shall we go there, Ellida?
Ellida (sitting down on one of the stones). Thanks, not I; but
you others can. I'll sit here meanwhile.
Wangel. Then I'll stay with you. The girls can show Arnholm
Bolette. Would you like to go with us, Mr. Arnholm?
Arnholm. I should like to, very much. Does a path lead up there too?
Bolette. Oh yes. There's a nice broad path.
Hilde. The path is so broad that two people can walk along it
comfortably, arm in arm.
Arnholm (jestingly). Is that really so, little Missie? (To
BOLETTE.) Shall we two see if she is right?
Bolette (suppressing a smile). Very well, let's go. (They go out
to the left, arm in arm.)
Hilde (to LYNGSTRAND). Shall we go too?
Lyngstrand. Arm in arm?
Hilde. Oh, why not? For aught I care!
Lyngstrand (taking her arm, laughing contentedly). This is a
Lyngstrand. Yes; because it looks exactly as if we were engaged.
Hilde. I'm sure you've never walked out arm in arm with a lady
before, Mr. Lyngstrand. (They go off.)
Wangel (who is standing beside the beacon). Dear Ellida, now we
have a moment to ourselves.
Ellida. Yes; come and sit down here, by me.
Wangel (sitting down). It is so free and quiet. Now we can have a
little talk together.
Ellida. What about?
Wangel. About yourself, and then about us both. Ellida, I see
very well that it can't go on like this.
Ellida. What do you propose instead?
Wangel. Perfect confidence, dear. A true life together--as
Ellida. Oh, if that could be! But it is so absolutely impossible!
Wangel. I think I understand you, from certain things you have
let fall now and again.
Ellida (passionately). Oh, you do not! Don't say you understand!
Wangel. Yes. Yours is an honest nature, Ellida--yours is a
Ellida. It is.
Wangel. Any position in which you could feel safe and happy must
be a completely true and real one.
Ellida (looking eagerly at him). Well, and then?
Wangel. You are not suited to be a man's second wife.
Ellida. What makes you think that?
Wangel. It has often flashed across me like a foreboding. Today
it was clear to me. The children's memorial feast--you saw in me
a kind of accomplice. Well, yes; a man's memories, after all,
cannot be wiped out--not so mine, anyhow. It isn't in me.
Ellida. I know that. Oh! I know that so well.
Wangel. But you are mistaken all the same. To you it is almost as
if the children's mother were still living--as if she were still
here invisible amongst us. You think my heart is equally divided
between you and her. It is this thought that shocks you. You see
something immoral in our relation, and that is why you no longer
can or will live with me as my wife.
Ellida (rising). Have you seen all that, Wangel--seen into all
Wangel. Yes; today I have at last seen to the very heart of it--
to its utmost depths.
Ellida. To its very heart, you say? Oh, do not think that!
Wangel (rising). I see very well that there is more than this,
Ellida (anxiously). You know there is more?
Wangel. Yes. You cannot bear your surroundings here. The
mountains crush you, and weigh upon your heart. Nothing is open
enough for you here. The heavens above you are not spacious
enough. The air is not strong and bracing enough.
Ellida. You are right. Night and day, winter and summer, it
weighs upon me--this irresistible home-sickness for the sea.
Wangel. I know it well, dear Ellida (laying his hands upon her
head). And that is why the poor sick child shall go home to her
Ellida. What do you mean?
Wangel. Something quite simple. We are going away.
Ellida. Going away?
Wangel. Yes. Somewhere by the open sea--a place where you can
find a true home, after your own heart.
Ellida. Oh, dear, do not think of that! That is quite impossible.
You can live happily nowhere on earth but here!
Wangel. That must be as it may. And, besides, do you think I can
live happily here--without you?
Ellida. But I am here. And I will stay here. You have me.
Wangel. Have I, Ellida?
Ellida. Oh! don't speak of all this. Why, here you have all that
you love and strive for. All your life's work lies here.
Wangel. That must be as it may, I tell you. We are going away
from here--are going somewhere--out there. That is quite settled
now, dear Ellida.
Ellida. What do you think we should gain by that?
Wangel. You would regain your health and peace of mind.
Ellida. Hardly. And then you, yourself! Think of yourself, too!
What of you?
Wangel. I would win you back again, my dearest.
Ellida. But you cannot do that! No, no, you can't do that, Wangel!
That is the terrible part of it--heart-breaking to think of.
Wangel. That remains to be proved. If you are harbouring such
thoughts, truly there is no other salvation for you than to go
hence. And the sooner the better. Now this is irrevocably
settled, do you hear?
Ellida. No! Then in heaven's name I had better tell you
everything straight out. Everything just as it is.
Wangel. Yes, yes! Do.
Ellida. For you shall not ruin your happiness for my sake,
especially as it can't help us in any way.
Wangel. I have your word now that you will tell me everything
just as it is.
Ellida. I'll tell you everything as well as I can, and as far as
I understand it. Come here and sit by me. (They sit down on the
Wangel. Well, Ellida, so--
Ellida. That day when you came out there and asked me if I would
be yours, you spoke so frankly and honestly to me about your
first marriage. It had been so happy, you said.
Wangel. And so it was.
Ellida. Yes, yes! I am sure of that, dear! It is not for that I
am referring to it now. I only want to remind you that I, on my
side, was frank with you. I told you quite openly that once in my
life I had cared for another. That there had been a--a kind of
engagement between us.
Wangel. A kind of--
Ellida. Yes, something of the sort. Well, it only lasted such a
very short time. He went away; and after that I put an end to it.
I told you all that.
Wangel. Why rake up all this now? It really didn't concern me;
nor have I once asked you who he was!
Ellida. No, you have not. You are always so thoughtful for me.
Wangel (smiling). Oh, in this case I could guess the name well
enough for myself.
Ellida. The name?
Wangel. Out in Skjoldviken and thereabouts there weren't many to
choose from; or, rather, there was only a single one.
Ellida. You believe it was Arnholm!
Wangel. Well, wasn't it?
Wangel. Not he? Then I don't in the least understand.
Ellida. Can you remember that late in the autumn a large American
ship once put into Skjoldviken for repairs?
Wangel. Yes, I remember it very well. It was on board that ship
that the captain was found one morning in his cabin--murdered. I
myself went out to make the post-mortem.
Ellida. Yes, it was you.
Wangel. It was the second mate who had murdered him.
Ellida. No one can say that. For it was never proved.
Wangel. There was enough against him anyhow, or why should he
have drowned himself as he did?
Ellida. He did not drown himself. He sailed in a ship to the
Wangel (startled). How do you know?
Ellida (with an effort). Well, Wangel--it was this second mate to
whom I was--betrothed.
Wangel (springing up). What! Is it possible!
Ellida. Yes, it is so. It was to him!
Wangel. But how on earth, Ellida! How did you come to betroth
yourself to such a man? To an absolute stranger! What is his
Ellida. At that time he called himself Friman. Later, in his
letters he signed himself Alfred Johnston.
Wangel. And where did he come from?
Ellida. From Finmark, he said. For the rest, he was born in
Finland, had come to Norway there as a child with his father, I
Wangel. A Finlander, then?
Ellida. Yes, so he called himself.
Wangel. What else do you know about him?
Ellida. Only that he went to sea very young. And that he had been
on long voyages.
Wangel. Nothing more?
Ellida. No. We never spoke of such things.
Wangel. Of what did you speak, then?
Ellida. We spoke mostly about the sea.
Wangel. Ah! About the sea--
Ellida. About storms and calm. Of dark nights at sea. And of the
sea in the glittering sunshiny days we spoke also. But we spoke
most of the whales, and the dolphins, and the seals who lie out
there on the rocks in the midday sun. And then we spoke of the
gulls, and the eagles, and all the other sea birds. I think--
isn't it wonderful?--when we talked of such things it seemed to
me as if both the sea beasts and sea birds were one with him.
Wangel. And with you?
Ellida. Yes; I almost thought I belonged to them all, too.
Wangel. Well, well! And so it was that you betrothed yourself to
Ellida. Yes. He said I must.
Wangel. You must? Had you no will of your own, then?
Ellida. Not when he was near. Ah! afterwards I thought it all so
Wangel. Were you often together?
Ellida. No; not very often. One day he came out to our place, and
looked over the lighthouse. After that I got to know him, and we
met now and again. But then that happened about the captain, and
so he had to go away.
Wangel. Yes, yes. Tell me more about that.
Ellida. It was just daybreak when I had a note from him. He said
in it I was to go out to him at the Bratthammer. You know the
headland there between the lighthouse and Skjoldviken?
Wangel. I know, I know!
Ellida. I was to go out there at once, he wrote, because he
wanted to speak to me.
Wangel. And you went?
Ellida. Yes. I could not do otherwise. Well, then he told me he
had stabbed the captain in the night.
Wangel. He said that himself! Actually said so!
Ellida. Yes. But he had only acted rightly and justly, he said.
Wangel. Rightly and justly! Why did he stab him then?
Ellida. He wouldn't speak out about that. He said it was
not fit for me to hear.
Wangel. And you believed his naked, bare word?
Ellida. Yes. It never occurred to me to do otherwise. Well,
anyhow, he had to go away. But now, when he was to bid me
farewell--. No; you never could imagine what he thought of--
Wangel. Well? Tell me.
Ellida. He took from his pocket a key-ring--and drew a ring that
he always wore from his finger, and he took a small ring I had.
These two he put on the key-ring. And then he said we should wed
ourselves to the sea.
Ellida. Yes, so he said. And with that he threw the key-ring, and
our rings, with all his might, as far as he could into the deep.
Wangel. And you, Ellida, you did all this?
Ellida. Yes--only think--it then seemed to me as if it must be
so. But, thank God I--he went away.
Wangel. And when he was gone?
Ellida. Oh! You can surely understand that I soon came to my
senses again--that I saw how absolutely mad and meaningless it
had all been.
Wangel. But you spoke just now of letters. So you have heard from
Ellida. Yes, I have heard from him. First I had a few short lines
from Archangel. He only wrote he was going to America. And then
he told me where to send an answer.
Wangel. And did you?
Ellida. At once. I wrote him, of course, that all must be at an
end between us; and that he must no longer think of me, just as I
should no longer think of him.
Wangel. But did he write again?
Ellida. Yes, he wrote again.
Wangel. And what was his answer to your communication?
Ellida. He took no notice of it. It was exactly as if I had never
broken with him. He wrote quite composedly and calmly that I must
wait for him. When he could have me he would let me know, and
then I was to go to him at once.
Wangel. So he would not release you?
Ellida. No. Then I wrote again, almost word for word as I had
before; or perhaps more firmly.
Wangel. And he gave in?
Ellida. Oh, no! Don't think that! He wrote quietly, as before--
not a word of my having broken with him. Then I knew it was
useless, and so I never wrote to him again.
Wangel. And you never heard from him?
Ellida. Oh, yes! I have had three letters since then. Once he
wrote to me from California, and a second time from China. The
last letter I had from him was from Australia. He wrote he was
going to the gold-mines; but since then he has made no sign.
Wangel. This man has had a strange power over you, Ellida.
Ellida. Yes, yes! The terrible man!
Wangel. But you mustn't think of that any more. Never again--
never! Promise me that, my dear, beloved Ellida. Now we must try
another treatment for you. Fresher air than here within the
fjords. The salt, fresh air of the sea! Dear, what say you to
Ellida. Oh! don't speak of it! Don't think of it! There is no
help in this for me. I feel that so well. I can't shake it off--
not even there.
Wangel. What, dear?--What do you really mean?
Ellida. I mean the horror of it, this incomprehensible power over
Wangel. But you have shaken it off--long since--when you broke
with him. Why, all this is long past now.
Ellida (springing up). No; that it is not--it is not!
Wangel. Not past?
Ellida. No, Wangel, it is not past; and I fear it never will be--
never, in all our life.
Wangel (in a pained voice). Do you mean to say that in your
innermost heart you have never been able to forget this strange
Ellida. I had forgotten him; but then it was as if he had
suddenly come back again.
Wangel. How long ago is that?
Ellida. It's about three years ago, now, or a little longer. It
was just when I expected the child.
Wangel. Ah! at that time? Yes, Ellida--now I begin to understand
Ellida. You are mistaken, dear. What has come to me? Oh! I
believe nothing on earth will ever make it clear.
Wangel (looking sadly at her). Only to think that all these three
years you have cared for another man. Cared for another. Not for
me--but for another!
Ellida. Oh! you are so utterly mistaken! I care for no one but
Wangel (in a subdued voice). Why, then, in all this time have you
not lived with me as my wife?
Ellida. Because of the horror that comes from the strange man.
Wangel. The horror?
Ellida. Yes, the horror. A horror so terrible--such as only the
sea could hold. For now you shall hear, Wangel.
(The young townsfolk come back, bow, and pass out to the right.
Together with them come ARNHOLM, BOLETTE, HILDE, and LYNGSTRAND.)
Bolette (as she passes by). Well, are you still walking about up
Ellida. Yes, it is so cool and pleasant up here on the heights.
Arnholm. We, for our part, are going down for a dance.
Wangel. All right. We'll soon come down--we also.
Hilde. Goodbye, for the present!
Ellida. Mr. Lyngstrand, will you wait one moment? (LYNGSTRAND
Stops. ARNHOLM, BOLETTE and HILDE go out. To LYNGSTRAND.) Are you
going to dance too?
Lyngstrand. No, Mrs. Wangel. I don't think I dare.
Ellida. No, you should be careful, you know--your chest. You're
not quite well yet, you see.
Lyngstrand. Not quite.
Ellida (with some hesitation). How long may it be now since you
went on that voyage?
Lyngstrand. That time when I contracted this weakness?
Ellida. Yes, that voyage you told me about this morning?
Lyngstrand. Oh! it's about--wait a moment--yes, it's a good three
Ellida. Three years, then.
Lyngstrand. Perhaps a little more. We left America in February,
and we were wrecked in March. It was the equinoctial gales we
came in for.
Ellida (looking at WANGEL). So it was at that time--
Wangel. But, dear Ellida--
Ellida. Well, don't let me detain you, Mr. Lyngstrand. Now go
down, but don't dance.
Lyngstrand. No, I'll only look on. (He goes out.)
Ellida. Johnston was on board too, I am quite certain of it.
Wangel. What makes you think so?
Ellida (without answering). He learnt on board that I had married
another while he was away. And so that very hour this came over
Wangel. The horror?
Ellida. Yes, all of a sudden I see him alive right in front of
me; or, rather a little in profile. He never looks at me, only he
Wangel. How do you think he looks?
Ellida. Exactly as when I saw him last.
Wangel. Ten years ago?
Ellida. Yes; out there at Bratthammeren. Most distinctly of all I
see his breastpin, with a large bluish-white pearl in it. The
pearl is like a dead fish's eye, and it seems to glare at me.
Wangel. Good God! You are more ill than I thought. More ill than
you yourself know, Ellida.
Ellida. Yes, yes! Help me if you can, for I feel how it is
drawing closer and more close.
Wangel. And you have gone about in this state three whole years,
bearing for yourself this secret suffering, without confiding in
Ellida. But I could not; not till it became necessary for your
own sake. If I had confided in you I should also have had to
confide to you the unutterable.
Ellida. No, no, no! Do not ask. Only one thing, nothing more.
Wangel, when shall we understand that mystery of the boy's eyes?
Wangel. My dear love, Ellida, I assure you it was only your own
fancy. The child had exactly the same eyes as other normal
Ellida. No, he had not. And you could not see it! The child's
eyes changed colour with the sea. When the fjord lay bathed in
sunshine, so were his eyes. And so in storm. Oh, I saw it, if you
Wangel (humouring her). Maybe. But even if it were true, what
Ellida (in lower voice, and coming nearer). I have seen such eyes
Wangel. Well? Where?
Ellida. Out at Bratthammeren, ten years ago.
Wangel (stepping back). What does it mean?
Ellida (whispers, trembling). The child had the strange man's
Wangel (cries out reluctantly). Ellida!
Ellida (clasps her hands despairingly about her head). Now you
understand why I would not, why I dared not, live with you as
your wife. (She turns suddenly and rushes off over the heights.)
Wangel (hurrying after her and calling). Ellida, Ellida! My poor
(SCENE.--A more remote part of DOCTOR WANGEL'S garden. It is
boggy and overshadowed by large old trees. To the right is seen
the margin of a dank pond. A low, open fence separates the garden
from the footpath, and the fjord in the background. Beyond is the
range of mountains, with its peaks. It is afternoon, almost
evening. BOLETTE sits on a stone seat, and on the seat lie some
books and a work-basket. HILDE and LYNGSTRAND, both with fishing-
tackle, walk along the bank of the pond.)
Hilde (making a sign to LYNGSTRAND). I can see a large one.
Lyngstrand (looking). Where?
Hilde (pointing). Can't you see? He's down there. Good gracious!