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The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen

Part 2 out of 5

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DR. HERDAL.

And what does she think about you?

SOLNESS.

[Having recovered his self-control.] She has begun to think that I
am--that I am--ill.

DR. HERDAL.

Ill! You! She has never hinted such a thing to me. Why, what can
she think is the matter with you?

SOLNESS.

[Leans over the back of the chair and whispers.] Aline has made up
her mind that I am mad. That is what she thinks.

DR. HERDAL.

[Rising.] Why, my dear fellow---!

SOLNESS.

Yes, on my soul she does! I tell you it is so. And she has got you
to think the same! Oh, I can assure you, doctor, I see it in your
face as clearly as possible. You don't take me in so easily, I can
tell you.

DR. HERDAL.

[Looks at him in amazement.] Never, Mr. Solness--never has such a
thought entered my mind.

SOLNESS.

[With and incredulous smile.] Really? Has it not?

DR. HERDAL.

No, never! Nor your wife's mind either, I am convinced. I could
almost swear to that.

SOLNESS.

Well, I wouldn't advise you to. For, in a certain sense, you see,
perhaps--perhaps she is not so far wrong in thinking something of
the kind.

DR. HERDAL.

Come now, I really must say---

SOLNESS.

[Interrupting, with a sweep of his hand.] Well, well, my dear
doctor--don't let us discuss this any further. We had better
agree to differ. [Changes to a tone of quiet amusement.] But
look here now, doctor--h'm---

DR. HERDAL.

Well?

SOLNESS.

Since you don't believe that I am--ill--and crazy--and mad, and so
forth---

DR. HERDAL.

What then?

SOLNESS.

Then I daresay you fancy that I am an extremely happy man.

DR. HERDAL.

Is that mere fancy?

SOLNESS.

[Laughs.] No, no--of course not! Heaven forbid! Only think--to
be Solness the master builder! Halvard Solness! What could be
more delightful?

DR. HERDAL.

Yes, I must say it seems to me you have had the luck on your side
to an astounding degree.

SOLNESS.

[Suppresses a gloomy smile.] So I have. I can't complain on that
score.

DR. HERDAL.

First of all that grim old robbers' castle was burnt down for you.
And that was certainly a great piece of luck.

SOLNESS.

[Seriously.] It was the home of Aline's family. Remember that.

DR. HERDAL.

Yes, it must have been a great grief to her.

SOLNESS.

She has not got over it to this day--not in all these twelve or
thirteen years.

DR. HERDAL.

But you--yourself--you rose upon the ruins. You began as a poor
boy from a country village--and now you are at the head of your
profession. Ah, yes, Mr. Solness, you have undoubtedly had the
luck on your side.

SOLNESS.

[Looking at him with embarrassment.] Yes, but that is just what
makes me so horribly afraid.

DR. HERDAL.

Afraid? Because you have the luck on your side!

SOLNESS.

It terrifies me--terrifies me every hour of the day. For sooner or
later the luck must turn, you see.

DR. HERDAL.

Oh nonsense! What should make the luck turn?

SOLNESS.

[With firm assurance.] The younger generation!

DR. HERDAL.

Pooh! The younger generation! You are not laid on the shelf yet, I
should hope. Oh no--your position here is probably firmer now than
it has ever been.

SOLNESS.

The luck will turn. I know it--I feel the day approaching. Some
one or other will take it into his head to say: Give me a chance!
And then all the rest will come clamouring after him, and shake
their fists at me and shout: Make room--make room--! Yes, just
you see, doctor--presently the younger generation will come knocking
at my door---

DR. HERDAL.

[Laughing.] Well, and what if they do?

SOLNESS.

What if they do? Then there's an end of Halvard Solness.
[There is a knock at the door on the left.

SOLNESS.

[Starts.] What's that? Did you not hear something?

DR. HERDAL.

Some one is knocking at the door.

SOLNESS.

[Loudly.] Come in.

HILDA WANGEL enters by the hall door. She is of middle height,
supple, and delicately built. Somewhat sunburnt. Dressed in
a tourist costume, with skirt caught up for walking, a sailor's
collar open at the throat, and a small sailor hat on her head.
Knapsack on back, plaid in strap, and alpenstock.

HILDA.

[Goes straight up to SOLNESS, her eyes sparkling with happiness.]
Good evening!

SOLNESS.

[Looks doubtfully at her.] Good evening---

HILDA.

[Laughs.] I almost believe you don't recognise me!

SOLNESS.

No--I must admit that--just for the moment---

DR. HERDAL.

[Approaching.] But _I_ recognise you, my dear young lady---

HILDA.

[Pleased.] Oh, is it you that---

DR. HERDAL.

Of course it is. [To SOLNESS.] We met at one of the mountain
stations this summer. [To HILDA.] What became of the other ladies?

HILDA.

Oh, they went westward.

DR. HERDAL.

They didn't much like all the fun we used to have in the evenings.

HILDA.

No, I believe they didn't.

DR. HERDAL.

[Holds up his finger at her.] And I am afraid it can't be denied
that you flirted a little with us.

HILDA.

Well, that was better fun than to sit there knitting stockings with
all those old women.

DR. HERDAL.

[Laughs.] There I entirely agree with you!

SOLNESS.

Have you come to town this evening?

HILDA.

Yes, I have just arrived.

DR. HERDAL.

Quite alone, Miss Wangel?

HILDA.

Oh yes!

SOLNESS.

Wangel? Is your name Wangel?

HILDA.

[Looks in amused surprise at him.] Yes, of course it is.

SOLNESS.

Then you must be a daughter of the district doctor up at Lysanger?

HILDA.

[As before.] Yes, who else's daughter should I be?

SOLNESS.

Oh, then I suppose we met up there, that summer when I was building
a tower on the old church.

HILDA.

[More seriously.] Yes, of course it was then we met.

SOLNESS.

Well, that is a long time ago.

HILDA.

[Looks hard at him.] It is exactly ten years.

SOLNESS.

You must have been a mere child then, I should think.

HILDA.

[Carelessly.] Well, I was twelve or thirteen.

DR. HERDAL.

Is this the first time you have ever been up to town, Miss Wangel?

HILDA.

Yes, it is indeed.

SOLNESS.

And don't you know any one here?

HILDA.

Nobody but you. And of course, your wife.

SOLNESS.

So you know her, too?

HILDA.

Only a little. We spent a few days together at the sanatorium.

SOLNESS.

Ah, up there?

HILDA.

She said I might come and pay her a visit if ever I came up to town.
[Smiles.] Not that that was necessary.

SOLNESS.

Odd that she should never have mentioned it.
[HILDA puts her stick down by the stove, takes off the knapsack
and lays it and the plaid on the sofa. DR. HERDAL offers to
help her. SOLNESS stands and gazes at her.

HILDA.

[Going towards him.] Well, now I must ask you to let me stay the
night here.

SOLNESS.

I am sure there will be no difficulty about that.

HILDA.

For I have no other clothes than those I stand in, except a change
of linen in my knapsack. And that has to go to the wash, for it's
very dirty.

SOLNESS.

Oh yes, that can be managed. Now I'll just let my wife know---

DR. HERDAL.

Meanwhile I will go and see my patient.

SOLNESS.

Yes, do; and come again later on.

DR. HERDAL.

[Playfully, with a glance at HILDA.] Oh that I will, you may be
very certain! [Laughs.] So your prediction has come true, Mr.
Solness!

SOLNESS.

How so?

DR. HERDAL.

The younger generation did come knocking at your door.

SOLNESS.

[Cheerfully.] Yes, but in a very different way from what I meant.

DR. HERDAL.

Very different, yes. That's undeniable.
[He goes out by the hall-door. SOLNESS opens the door on the
right and speaks into the side room.

SOLNESS.

Aline! Will you come in here, please. Here is a friend of yours--
Miss Wangel.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Appears in the doorway.] Who do you say it is? [Sees HILDA.]. Oh,
is it you, Miss Wangel?

SOLNESS.

Miss Wangel has this moment arrived; and she would like to stay the
night here.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Here with us? Oh yes, certainly.

SOLNESS.

Till she can get her things a little in order, you know.

MRS. SOLNESS.

I will do the best I can for you. It's no more than my duty. I
suppose your trunk is coming on later?

HILDA.

I have no trunk.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Well, it will be all right, I daresay. In the meantime, you must
excuse my leaving you here with my husband, until I can get a room
made a little more comfortable for you.

SOLNESS.

Can we not give her one of the nurseries? They are all ready as it is.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh yes. There we have room and to spare. [To HILDA.] Sit down now,
and rest a little. [She goes out to the right.
[HILDA, with her hands behind her back, strolls about the room
and looks at various objects. SOLNESS stands in front, beside
the table, also with his hands behind his back, and follows
her with his eyes.

HILDA.

[Stops and looks at him.] Have you several nurseries?

SOLNESS.

There are three nurseries in the house.

HILDA.

That's a lot. Then I suppose you have a great many children?

SOLNESS.

No. We have no child. But now you can be the child here, for the
time being.

HILDA.

For to-night, yes. I shall not cry. I mean to sleep as sound as a
stone.

SOLNESS.

Yes, you must be very tired, I should think.

HILDA.

Oh no! But all the same---. It's so delicious to lie and dream.

SOLNESS.

Do you dream much of nights?

HILDA.

Oh yes! Almost always.

SOLNESS.

What do you dream about most?

HILDA.

I sha'n't tell you to-night. Another time perhaps.
[She again strolls about the room, stops at the desk and turns
over the books and papers a little.

SOLNESS.

[Approaching.] Are you searching for anything?

HILDA.

No, I am merely looking at all these things. [Turns.] Perhaps I
mustn't?

SOLNESS.

Oh, by all means.

HILDA.

Is it you that writes in this great ledger?

SOLNESS.

No, it's my book-keeper.

HILDA.

Is it a woman?

SOLNESS.

[Smiles.] Yes.

HILDA.

One you employ here, in your office?

SOLNESS.

Yes.

HILDA.

Is she married?

SOLNESS.

No, she is single.

HILDA.

Oh, indeed!

SOLNESS.

But I believe she is soon going to be married.

HILDA.

That's a good thing for her.

SOLNESS.

But not such a good thing for me. For then I shall have nobody to
help me.

HILDA.

Can't you get hold of some one else who will do just as well?

SOLNESS.

Perhaps you would stay here and--and write in the ledger?

HILDA.

[Measures him with a glance.] Yes, I daresay! No, thank you--
nothing of that sort for me.
[She again strolls across the room, and sits down on the
rocking-chair. SOLNESS too goes to the table.

HILDA.

[Continuing.] For there must surely be plenty of other thing to be
done here. [Looks smilingly at him.] Don't you think so, too?

SOLNESS.

Of course. First of all, I suppose, you want to make a round of the
shops, and get yourself up in the height of fashion.

HILDA.

[Amused.] No, I think I shall let that alone!

SOLNESS.

Indeed?

HILDA.

For you must know I have run through all my money.

SOLNESS.

[Laughs.] Neither trunk nor money, then?

HILDA.

Neither one nor the other. But never mind--it doesn't matter now.

SOLNESS.

Come now, I like you for that.

HILDA.

Only for that?

SOLNESS.

For that among other things. [Sits in the arm-chair.] Is your
father alive still?

HILDA.

Yes, father's alive.

SOLNESS.

Perhaps you are thinking of studying here?

HILDA.

No, that hadn't occurred to me.

SOLNESS.

But I suppose you will be staying for some time?

HILDA.

That must depend upon circumstances.
[She sits awhile rocking herself and looking at him, half
seriously, half with a suppressed smile. Then she takes
off her hat and puts it on the table in front of her.

HILDA.

Mr. Solness!

SOLNESS.

Well?

HILDA.

Have you a very bad memory?

SOLNESS.

A bad memory? No, not that I am aware of.

HILDA.

Then have you nothing to say to me about what happened up there?

SOLNESS.

[In momentary surprise.] Up at Lysanger? [Indifferently.] Why, it
was nothing much to talk about it seems to me.

HILDA.

[Looks reproachfully at him.] How can you sit there and say such
things?

SOLNESS.

Well, then, you talk to me about it.

HILDA.

When the tower was finished, we had grand doings in the town.

SOLNESS.

Yes, I shall not easily forget that day.

HILDA.

[Smiles.] Will you not? That comes well from you.

SOLNESS.

Comes well?

HILDA.

There was music in the churchyard--and many, many hundreds of people.
We school-girls were dressed in white; and we all carried flags.

SOLNESS.

Ah yes, those flags--I can tell you I remember them!

HILDA.

Then you climbed right up the scaffolding, straight to the very top;
and you had a great wreath with you; and you hung that wreath right
away up on the weather-vane.

SOLNESS.

[Curtly interrupting.] I always did that in those days. It is an
old custom.

HILDA.

It was so wonderfully thrilling to stand below and look up at you.
Fancy, if he should fall over! He--the master builder himself!

SOLNESS.

[As if to divert her from the subject.] Yes, yes, yes, that might
very will have happened, too. For one of those white-frocked little
devils,--she went on in such a way, and screamed up at me so---

HILDA.

[Sparkling with pleasure.] "Hurrah for Master Builder Solness!" Yes!

SOLNESS.

--and waved and flourished with her flag, so that I--so that it
almost made me giddy to look at it.

HILDA.

[In a lower voice, seriously.] That little devil--that was _I_.

SOLNESS.

[Fixes his eyes steadily upon her.] I am sure of that now. It must
have been you.

HILDA.

[Lively again.] Oh, it was so gloriously thrilling! I could not
have believed there was a builder in the whole world that could
build such a tremendously high tower. And then, that you yourself
should stand at the very top of it, as large as life! And that you
should not be the least bit dizzy! It was that above everything
that made one--made one dizzy to think of.

SOLNESS.

How could you be so certain that I was not?

HILDA.

[Scouting the idea.] No indeed! Oh no! I knew that instinctively.
For if you had been, you could never have stood up there and sung.

SOLNESS.

[Looks at her in astonishment.] Sung? Did _I_ sing?

HILDA.

Yes, I should think you did.

SOLNESS.

[Shakes his head.] I have never sung a note in my life.

HILDA.

Yes, indeed, you sang then. It sounded like harps in the air.

SOLNESS.

[Thoughtfully.] This is very strange--all this.

HILDA.

[Is silent awhile, looks at him and says in a low voice:] But then,
--it was after that--that the real thing happened.

SOLNESS.

The real thing?

HILDA.

[Sparking with vivacity.] Yes, I surely don't need to remind you of
that?

SOLNESS.

Oh yes do remind me a little of that, too.

HILDA.

Don't you remember that a great dinner was given in your honour at
the Club?

SOLNESS.

Yes, to be sure. It must have been the same afternoon, for I left
the place next morning.

HILDA.

And from the Club you were invited to come round to our house to
supper.

SOLNESS.

Quite right, Miss Wangel. It is wonderful how all these trifles
have impressed themselves on your mind.

HILDA.

Trifles! I like that! Perhaps it was a trifle, too, that I was
alone in the room when you came in?

SOLNESS.

Were you alone?

HILDA.

[Without answering him.] You didn't call me a little devil then?

SOLNESS.

No, I suppose I did not.

HILDA.

You said I was lovely in my white dress, and that I looked like a
little princess.

SOLNESS.

I have no doubt you did, Miss Wangel.--And besides--I was feeling so
buoyant and free that day---

HILDA.

And then you said that when I grew up I should be your princess.

SOLNESS.

[Laughing a little.] Dear, dear--did I say that too?

HILDA.

Yes, you did. And when I asked how long I should have to wait, you
said that you would come again in ten years--like a troll--and carry
me off--to Spain or some such place. And you promised you would buy
me a kingdom there.

SOLNESS.

[As before.] Yes, after a good dinner one doesn't haggle about the
halfpence. But did I really say all that?

HILDA.

[Laughs to herself.] Yes. And you told me, too, what the kingdom
was to be called.

SOLNESS.

Well, what was it?

HILDA.

It was to be called the kingdom of Orangia,* you said.

*In the original "Appelsinia," "appelsin" meaning "orange."

SOLNESS.

Well, that was an appetising name.

HILDA.

No, I didn't like it a bit; for it seemed as though you wanted to
make game of me.

SOLNESS.

I am sure that cannot have been my intention.

HILDA.

No, I should hope not--considering what you did next---

SOLNESS.

What in the world did I do next?

HILDA.

Well, that's the finishing touch, if you have forgotten that too. I
should have thought no one could help remembering such a thing as that.

SOLNESS.

Yes, yes, just give me a hint, and then perhaps--- Well?

HILDA.

[Looks fixedly at him.] You came and kissed me, Mr. Solness.

SOLNESS.

[Open-mouthed.] _I_ did!

HILDA.

Yes, indeed you did. You took me in both your arms, and bent my
head back, and kissed me--many times.

SOLNESS.

Now really, my dear Miss Wangel---!

HILDA.

[Rises.] You surely cannot mean to deny it?

SOLNESS.

Yes, I do. I deny it altogether!

HILDA.

[Looks scornfully at him.] Oh, indeed!
[She turns and goes slowly up to the stove, where she remains
standing motionless, her face averted from him, her hands
behind her back. Short pause.

SOLNESS.

[Goes cautiously up behind her.] Miss Wangel---!

HILDA.

[Is silent and does not move.]

SOLNESS.

Don't stand there like a statue. You must have dreamt all this.
[Lays his hand on her arm.] Now just listen---

HILDA.

[Makes an impatient movement with her arm.]

SOLNESS.

[As a thought flashes upon him.] Or---! Wait a moment! There is
something under all this, you may depend!

HILDA.

[Does not move.]

SOLNESS.

[In a low voice, but with emphasis.] I must have thought all that.
I must have wished it--have willed it--have longed to do it. And
then---. May not that be the explanation.

HILDA.

[Is still silent.]

SOLNESS.

[Impatiently.] Oh very well, deuce take it all--then I did do it,
I suppose.

HILDA.

[Turns her head a little, but without looking at him.] Then you
admit it now?

SOLNESS.

Yes--whatever you like.

HILDA.

You came and put your arms round me?

SOLNESS.

Oh yes!

HILDA.

And bent my head back?

SOLNESS.

Very far back.

HILDA.

And kissed me?

SOLNESS.

Yes, I did.

HILDA.

Many times?

SOLNESS.

As many as ever you like.

HILDA.

[Turns quickly toward him and has once more the sparkling expression
of gladness in her eyes.] Well, you see, I got it out of you at last!

SOLNESS.

[With a slight smile.] Yes--just think of my forgetting such a thing
as that.

HILDA.

[Again a little sulky, retreats from him.] Oh, you have kissed so
many people in your time, I suppose.

SOLNESS.

No, you mustn't think that of me. [HILDA seats herself in the arm-
chair. SOLNESS stands and leans against the rocking-chair. Looks
observantly at her.] Miss Wangel!

HILDA.

Yes!

SOLNESS.

How was it now? What came of all this--between us two.

HILDA.

Why, nothing more came of it. You know that quite well. For then
the other guests came in, and then--bah!

SOLNESS.

Quite so! The others came in. To think of my forgetting that too!

HILDA.

Oh, you haven't really forgotten anything: you are only a little
ashamed of it all. I am sure one doesn't forget things of that kind.

SOLNESS.

No, one would suppose not.

HILDA.

[Lively again, looks at him.] Perhaps you have even forgotten what
day it was?

SOLNESS.

What day---?

HILDA.

Yes, on what day did you hang the wreath on the tower? Well? Tell
me at once!

SOLNESS.

H'm--I confess I have forgotten the particular day. I only know it
was ten years ago. Some time in autumn.

HILDA.

[Nods her head slowly several times.] It was ten years ago--on the
19th of September.

SOLNESS.

Yes, it must have been about that time. Fancy your remembering that
too! [Stops.] But wait a moment---! Yes--it's the 19th of September
today.

HILDA.

Yes, it is; and the ten years are gone. And you didn't come--as you
had promised me.

SOLNESS.

Promised you? Threatened, I suppose you mean?

HILDA.

I don't think there was any sort of threat in that.

SOLNESS.

Well then, a little bit of fun.

HILDA.

Was that all you wanted? To make fun of me?

SOLNESS.

Well, or to have a little joke with you. Upon my soul, I don't
recollect. But it must have been something of that kind; for you
were a mere child then.

HILDA.

Oh, perhaps I wasn't quite such a child either. Not such a mere chit
as you imagine.

SOLNESS.

[Looks searchingly at her.] Did you really and seriously expect me
to come again?

HILDA.

[Conceals a half-teasing smile.] Yes, indeed! I did expect that
of you.

SOLNESS.

That I should come back to your home, and take you away with me?

HILDA.

Just like a troll--yes.

SOLNESS.

And make a princess of you?

HILDA.

That's what you promised.

SOLNESS.

And give you a kingdom as well?

HILDA.

[Looks up at the ceiling.] Why not? Of course it need not have been
an actual, every-day sort of a kingdom.

SOLNESS.

But something else just as good?

HILDA.

Yes, at least as good. [Looks at him a moment.] I thought, if you
could build the highest church-towers in the world, you could surely
manage to raise a kingdom of one sort or another as well.

SOLNESS.

[Shakes his head.] I can't quite make you out, Miss Wangel.

HILDA.

Can you not? To me it seems all so simple.

SOLNESS.

No, I can't make up my mind whether you mean all you say, or are simply
having a joke with me.

HILDA.

[Smiles.] Making fun of you, perhaps? I, too?

SOLNESS.

Yes, exactly. Making fun--of both of us. [Looks at her.] Is it long
since you found out that I was married?

HILDA.

I have know it all along. Why do you ask me that?

SOLNESS.

[Lightly.] Oh, well, it just occurred to me. [Looks earnestly at
her, and says in a low voice.] What have you come for?

HILDA.

I want my kingdom. The time is up.

SOLNESS.

[Laughs involuntarily.] What a girl you are!

HILDA.

[Gaily.] Out with my kingdom, Mr. Solness! [Raps with her fingers.]
The kingdom on the table!

SOLNESS.

[Pushing the rocking-chair nearer and sitting down.] Now, seriously
speaking--what have you come for? What do you really want to do here?

HILDA.

Oh, first of all, I want to go round and look at all the things that
you have built.

SOLNESS.

That will give you plenty of exercise.

HILDA.

Yes, I know you have built a tremendous lot.

SOLNESS.

I have indeed--especially of late years.

HILDA.

Many church-towers among the rest? Immensely high ones?

SOLNESS.

No. I build no more church-towers now. Nor churches either.

HILDA.

What do you build then?

SOLNESS.

Homes for human beings.

HILDA.

[Reflectively.] Couldn't you build a little--a little bit of a
church-tower over these homes as well?

SOLNESS.

[Starting.] What do you mean by that?

HILDA.

I mean--something that points--points up into the free air. With the
vane at a dizzy height.

SOLNESS.

[Pondering a little.] Strange that you should say that--for that is
just what I am most anxious to do.

HILDA.

[Impatiently.] Why don't you do it, then?

SOLNESS.

[Shakes his head.] No, the people will not have it.

HILDA.

Fancy their not wanting it!

SOLNESS.

[More lightly.] But now I am building a new home for myself--just
opposite here.

HILDA.

For yourself?

SOLNESS.

Yes. It is almost finished. And on that there is a tower.

HILDA.

A high tower?

SOLNESS.

Yes.

HILDA.

Very high?

SOLNESS.

No doubt people will say it is too high--too high for a dwelling-house.

HILDA.

I'll go out to look at that tower first thing to-morrow morning.

SOLNESS.

[Sits resting his cheek on his hand, and gazes at her.] Tell me, Miss
Wangel--what is your name? Your Christian name, I mean.

HILDA.

Why, Hilda, of course.

SOLNESS.

[As before.] Hilda? Indeed?

HILDA.

Don't you remember that? You called me Hilda yourself--that day when
you misbehaved.

SOLNESS.

Did I really.

HILDA.

But then you said "little Hilda"; and I didn't like that.

SOLNESS.

Oh, you didn't like that, Miss Hilda?

HILDA.

No, not at such a time as that. But--"Princess Hilda"--that will
sound very well, I think.

SOLNESS.

Very well indeed. Princess Hilda of--of--what was to be the name of
the kingdom?

HILDA.

Pooh! I won't have anything to do with that stupid kingdom. I have
set my heart upon quite a different one!

SOLNESS.

[Has leaned back in the chair, still gazing at her.] Isn't it
strange---? The more I think of it now, the more it seems to me
as though I had gone about all these years torturing myself with--
h'm---

HILDA.

With what?

SOLNESS.

With the effort to recover something--some experience, which I
seemed to have forgotten. But I never had the least inkling of
what it could be.

HILDA.

You should have tied a knot in your pocket-handkerchief, Mr. Solness.

SOLNESS.

In that case, I should simply have had to go racking my brains to
discover what the knot could mean.

HILDA.

Oh yes, I suppose there are trolls of that kind in the world, too.

SOLNESS.

[Rises slowly.] What a good thing it is that you have come to me now.

HILDA.

[Looks deeply into his eyes.] Is it a good thing!

SOLNESS.

For I have been so lonely here. I have been gazing so helplessly at
it all. [In a lower voice.] I must tell you--I have begun to be
afraid of the younger generation.

HILDA.

[With a little snort of contempt.] Pooh--is the younger generation
something to be afraid of?

SOLNESS.

It is indeed. And that is why I have locked and barred myself in.
[Mysteriously.] I tell you the younger generation will one day come
and thunder at my door! They will break in upon me!

HILDA.

Then I should say you ought to go out and open the door to the
younger generation.

SOLNESS.

Open the door?

HILDA.

Yes. Let them come in to you on friendly terms, as it were.

SOLNESS.

No, no, no! The younger generation--it means retribution, you see.
It comes, as if under a new banner, heralding the turn of fortune.

HILDA.

[Rises, looks at him, and says with a quivering twitch of her lips.]
Can _I_ be of any use to you, Mr. Solness?

SOLNESS.

Yes, you can indeed! For you, too, come--under a new banner it seems
to me. You marshalled against youth---!

DR. HERDAL comes in by the hall-door.

DR. HERDAL.

What--you and Miss Wangel here still?

SOLNESS.

Yes. We have had no end of things to talk about.

HILDA.

Both old and new.

DR. HERDAL.

Have you really?

HILDA.

Oh, it has been the greatest fun. For Mr. Solness--he has such
a miraculous memory. All the least little details he remembers
instantly.

MRS. SOLNESS enters by the door on the right.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Well, Miss Wangel, your room is quite ready for you now.

HILDA.

Oh, how kind you are to me!

SOLNESS.

[To MRS. SOLNESS.] The nursery?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, the middle one. But first let us go in to supper.

SOLNESS.

[Nods to HILDA.] Hilda shall sleep in the nursery, she shall.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Looks at him.] Hilda?

SOLNESS.

Yes, Miss Wangel's name is Hilda. I knew her when she was a child.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Did you really, Halvard? Well, shall we go?
[She takes DR. HERDAL's arm and goes out with him to the
right. HILDA has meanwhile been collecting her travelling
things.

HILDA.

[Softly and rapidly to SOLNESS.] Is it true, what you said? Can I
be of use to you?

SOLNESS.

[Takes the things from her.] You are the very being I have needed
most.

HILDA.

[Looks at him with happy, wondering eyes and clasps her hands.] But
then, great heavens---!

SOLNESS.

[Eagerly.] What---?

HILDA.

Then I have my kingdom!

SOLNESS.

[Involuntarily.] Hilda---!

HILDA.

[Again with the quivering twitch of her lips.] Almost--I was going
to say.
[She goes out to the right, SOLNESS follows her.

ACT SECOND.

A prettily furnished small drawing-room in SOLNESS'S house.
In the back, a glass-door leading out to the verandah and
garden. The right-hand corner is cut off transversely by
a large bay-window, in which are flower-stands. The left-
hand corner is similarly cut off by a transverse wall, in
which is a small door papered like the wall. On each side,
an ordinary door. In front, on the right, a console table
with a large mirror over it. Well-filled stands of plants
and flowers. In front, on the left, a sofa with a table
and chairs. Further back, a bookcase. Well forward in the
room, before the bay window, a small table and some chairs.
It is early in the day.

SOLNESS sits by the little table with RAGNAR BROVIK'S
portfolio open in front of him. He is turning the drawings
over and closely examining some of them. MRS. SOLNESS moves
about noiselessly with a small watering-pot, attending to her
flowers. She is dressed in black as before. Her hat, cloak
and parasol lie on a chair near the mirror. Unobserved by her,
SOLNESS now and again follows her with his eyes. Neither of
them speaks.

KAIA FOSLI enters quietly by the door on the left.

SOLNESS.

[Turns his head, and says in an off-hand tone of indifference:] Well,
is that you?

KAIA.

I merely wished to let you know that I have come.

SOLNESS.

Yes, yes, that's all right. Hasn't Ragnar come too?

KAIA.

No, not yet. He had to wait a little while to see the doctor. But
he is coming presently to hear---

SOLNESS.

How is the old man to-day?

KAIA.

Not well. He begs you to excuse him; he is obliged to keep his bed
to-day.

SOLNESS.

Why, of course; by all means let him rest. But now, get to your work.

KAIA.

Yes. [Pauses at the door.] Do you wish to speak to Ragnar when he
comes?

SOLNESS.

No--I don't know that I have anything particular to say to him.
[KAIA goes out again to the left. SOLNESS remains seated,
turning over the drawings.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Over beside the plants.] I wonder if he isn't going to die now,
as well?

SOLNESS.

[Looks up at her.] As well as who?

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Without answering.] Yes, yes--depend upon it, Halvard, old Brovik
is going to die too. You'll see that he will.

SOLNESS.

My dear Aline, ought you not to go out for a little walk?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, I suppose I ought to.
[She continues to attend the flowers.

SOLNESS.

[Bending over the drawings.] Is she still asleep?

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Looking at him.] Is it Miss Wangel you are sitting there thinking
about?

SOLNESS.

[Indifferently.] I just happened to recollect her.

MRS. SOLNESS.

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