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The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen

Part 4 out of 5

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woman she should and might have been--and that she most longed to be?

HILDA.

Yes, but if it is all the work of these helpers and servers---?

SOLNESS.

Who called for the helpers and servers? It was I! And they came
and obeyed my will. [In increasing excitement.] That is what people
call having the luck on your side; but I must tell you what this
sort of luck feels like! It feels like a great raw place here on
my breast. And the helpers and servers keep on flaying pieces of
skin off other people in order to close my sore!--But still the sore
is not healed--never, never! Oh, if you knew how it can sometimes
gnaw and burn!

HILDA.

[Looks attentively at him.] You are ill, Mr. Solness. Very ill, I
almost think.

SOLNESS.

Say mad; for that is what you mean.

HILDA.

No, I don't think there is much amiss with your intellect.

SOLNESS.

With what then? Out with it!

HILDA.

I wonder whether you were not sent into the world with a sickly
conscience.

SOLNESS.

A sickly conscience? What devilry is that?

HILDA.

I mean that your conscience is feeble--too delicately built, as it
were--hasn't strength to take a grip of things--to lift and bear
what is heavy.

SOLNESS.

[Growls.] H'm! May I ask, then, what sort of a conscience one ought
to have?

HILDA.

I should like your conscience to be--to be thoroughly robust.

SOLNESS.

Indeed? Robust, eh? Is your own conscience robust, may I ask?

HILDA.

Yes, I think it is. I have never noticed that it wasn't.

SOLNESS.

It has not been put very severely to the test, I should think.

HILDA.

[With a quivering of the lips.] Oh, it was no such simple matter to
leave father--I am so awfully fond of him.

SOLNESS.

Dear me! for a month or two---

HILDA.

I think I shall never go home again.

SOLNESS.

Never? Then why did you leave him?

HILDA.

[Half-seriously, half-banteringly.] Have you forgotten again that
the ten year are up?

SOLNESS.

Oh nonsense. Was anything wrong at home? Eh?

HILDA.

[Quite seriously.] It was this impulse within me that urged and
goaded me to come--and lured and drew me on, as well.

SOLNESS.

[Eagerly.] There we have it! There we have it, Hilda! There is
the troll in you too, as in me. For it's the troll in one, you
see--it is that that calls to the powers outside us. And then you
must give in--whether you will or no.

HILDA.

I almost think you are right, Mr. Solness.

SOLNESS.

[Walks about the room.] Oh, there are devils innumerable abroad in
the world, Hilda, that one never sees.

HILDA.

Devils, too?

SOLNESS.

[Stops.] Good devils and bad devils; light-haired devils and black-
haired devils. If only you could always tell whether it is the light
or dark ones that have got hold of you! [Paces about.] Ho-ho! Then
it would be simple enough!

HILDA.

[Follows him with her eyes.] Or if one had a really vigorous,
radiantly healthy conscience--so that one dared to do what one
would.

SOLNESS.

[Stops beside the console table.] I believe, now, that most people
are just as puny creatures as I am in that respect.

HILDA.

I shouldn't wonder.

SOLNESS.

[Leaning against the table.] In the sagas---. Have you read any
of the old sagas?

HILDA.

Oh yes! When I used to read books, I---

SOLNESS.

In the sagas you read about vikings, who sailed to foreign lands, and
plundered and burned and killed men---

HILDA.

And carried off women---

SOLNESS.

---and kept them in captivity---

HILDA.

---took them home in their ships---

SOLNESS.

---and behaved to them like--like the very worst of trolls.

HILDA.

[Looks straight before her, with a half-veiled look.] I think that
must have been thrilling.

SOLNESS.

[With a short, deep laugh.] To carry off women, eh?

HILDA.

To be carried off.

SOLNESS.

[Looks at her a moment.] Oh, indeed.

HILDA.

[As if breaking the thread of the conversation.] But what made you
speak of these vikings, Mr. Solness?

SOLNESS.

Why, those fellows must have had robust consciences, if you like!
When they got home again, they could eat and drink, and be as happy
as children. And the women, too! They often would not leave them
on any account. Can you understand that, Hilda?

HILDA.

Those women I can understand exceedingly well.

SOLNESS.

Oho! Perhaps you could do the same yourself?

HILDA.

Why not?

SOLNESS.

Live--of your own free will--with a ruffian like that?

HILDA.

If it was a ruffian I had come to love---

SOLNESS.

Could you come to love a man like that?

HILDA.

Good heavens, you know very well one can't choose whom one is going
to love.

SOLNESS.

[Looks meditatively at her.] Oh no, I suppose it is the troll within
one that's responsible for that.

HILDA.

[Half-laughing.] And all those blessed devils, that you know so
well--both the light-haired and the dark-haired ones.

SOLNESS.

[Quietly and warmly.] Then I hope with all my heart that the devils
will choose carefully for you, Hilda.

HILDA.

For me they have chosen already--once and for all.

SOLNESS.

[Looks earnestly at her.] Hilda--you are like a wild bird of the
woods.

HILDA.

Far from it. I don't hide myself away under the bushes.

SOLNESS.

No, no. There is rather something of the bird of prey in you.

HILDA.

That is nearer it--perhaps. [Very vehemently.] And why not a bird
of prey? Why should not _I_ go a-hunting--I, as well as the rest?
Carry off the prey I want--if only I can get my claws into it, and
do with it as I will.

SOLNESS.

Hilda--do you know what you are?

HILDA.

Yes, I suppose I am a strange sort of bird.

SOLNESS.

No. You are like a dawning day. When I look at you--I seem to be
looking towards the sunrise.

HILDA.

Tell me, Mr. Solness--are you certain that you have never called me
to you? Inwardly, you know?

SOLNESS.

[Softly and slowly.] I almost think I must have.

HILDA.

What did you want with me?

SOLNESS.

You are the younger generation, Hilda.

HILDA.

[Smiles.] That younger generation that you are so afraid of?

SOLNESS.

[Nods slowly.] And which, in my heart, I yearn towards so deeply.
[HILDA rises, goes to the little table, and fetches RAGNAR
BROVIK'S portfolio.

HILDA.

[Holds out the portfolio to him.] We were talking of these drawings---

SOLNESS.

[Shortly, waving them away.] Put those things away! I have seen
enough of them.

HILDA.

Yes, but you have to write your approval on them.

SOLNESS.

Write my approval on them? Never!

HILDA.

But the poor old man is lying at death's door! Can't you give him
and his son this pleasure before they are parted? And perhaps he
might get the commission to carry them out, too.

SOLNESS.

Yes, that is just what he would get. He has made sure of that--has
my fine gentleman!

HILDA.

Then, good heavens--if that is so--can't you tell the least little
bit of a lie for once in a way?

SOLNESS.

A lie? [Raging.] Hilda--take those devil's drawings out of my sight!

HILDA.

[Draws the portfolio a little nearer to herself.] Well, well, well
--don't bite me.--You talk of trolls--but I think you go on like a
troll yourself. [Looks round.] Where do you keep your pen and ink?

SOLNESS.

There is nothing of the sort in here.

HILDA.

[Goes towards the door.] But in the office where that young lady
is---

SOLNESS.

Stay where you are, Hilda!--I ought to tell a lie, you say. Oh yes,
for the sake of his old father I might well do that--for in my time
I have crushed him, trodden him under foot---

HILDA.

Him, too?

SOLNESS.

I needed room for myself. But this Ragnar--he must on no account be
allowed to come to the front.

HILDA.

Poor fellow, there is surely no fear of that. If he has nothing in
him---

SOLNESS.

[Comes closer, looks at her, and whispers.] If Ragnar Brovik gets
his chance, he will strike me to the earth. Crush me--as I crushed
his father.

HILDA.

Crush you? Has he the ability for that?

SOLNESS.

Yes, you may depend upon it he has the ability! He is the younger
generation that stands ready to knock at my door--to make an end of
Halvard Solness.

HILDA.

[Looks at him with quiet reproach.] And yet you would bar him out.
Fie, Mr. Solness!

SOLNESS.

The fight I have been fighting has cost heart's blood enough.--And
I am afraid, too, that the helpers and servers will not obey me any
longer.

HILDA.

Then you must go ahead without them. There is nothing else for it.

SOLNESS.

It is hopeless, Hilda. The luck is bound to turn. A little sooner
or a little later. Retribution is inexorable.

HILDA.

[In distress, putting her hands over her ears.] Don't talk like
that! Do you want to kill me? To take from me what is more than
my life?

SOLNESS.

And what is that?

HILDA.

The longing to see you great. To see you, with a wreath in your
hand, high, high up upon a church-tower. [Calm again.] Come, out
with your pencil now. You must have a pencil about you?

SOLNESS.

[Takes out his pocket-book.] I have one here.

HILDA.

[Lays the portfolio on the sofa-table.] Very well. Now let us two
sit down here, Mr. Solness. [SOLNESS seats himself at the table.
HILDA stands behind him, leaning over the back of the chair.] And
now we well write on the drawings. We must write very, very nicely
and cordially--for this horrid Ruar--or whatever his name is.

SOLNESS.

[Writes a few words, turns his head and looks at her.] Tell me one
thing, Hilda.

HILDA.

Yes!

SOLNESS.

If you have been waiting for me all these ten years---

HILDA.

What then?

SOLNESS.

Why have you never written to me? Then I could have answered you.

HILDA.

[Hastily.] No, no, no! That was just what I did not want.

SOLNESS.

Why not?

HILDA.

I was afraid the whole thing might fall to pieces.--But we were
going to write on the drawings, Mr. Solness.

SOLNESS.

So we were.

HILDA.

[Bends forward and looks over his shoulder while he writes.] Mind
now, kindly and cordially! Oh how I hate--how I hate this Ruald---

SOLNESS.

[Writing.] Have you never really cared for any one, Hilda?

HILDA.

For any one else, I suppose you mean?

SOLNESS.

[Looks up at her.] For any one else, yes. Have you never? In all
these ten years? Never?

HILDA.

Oh yes, now and then. When I was perfectly furious with you for not
coming.

SOLNESS.

Then you did take an interest in other people, too?

HILDA.

A little bit--for a week or so. Good heavens, Mr. Solness, you
surely know how such things come about.

SOLNESS.

Hilda--what is it you have come for?

HILDA.

Don't waste time talking. The poor old man might go and die in the
meantime.

SOLNESS.

Answer me, Hilda. What do you want of me?

HILDA.

I want my kingdom.

SOLNESS.

H'm---

He gives a rapid glance toward the door on the left, and
then goes on writing on the drawings. At the same moment
MRS. SOLNESS enters.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Here are a few things I have got for you, Miss Wangel. The large
parcels will be sent later on.

HILDA.

Oh, how very, very kind of you!

MRS. SOLNESS.

Only my simple duty. Nothing more than that.

SOLNESS.

[Reading over what he has written.] Aline!

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes?

SOLNESS.

Did you notice whether the--the book-keeper was out there?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, of course, she was there.

SOLNESS.

[Puts the drawings in the portfolio.] H'm---

MRS. SOLNESS.

She was standing at the desk, as she always is--when _I_ go through
the room.

SOLNESS.

[Rises.] Then I'll give this to her and tell her that---

HILDA.

[Takes the portfolio from him.] Oh, no, let me have the pleasure of
doing that! [Goes to the door, but turns.] What is her name?

SOLNESS.

Her name is Miss Fosli.

HILDA.

Pooh, that sounds so cold! Her Christian name, I mean?

SOLNESS.

Kaia--I believe.

HILDA.

[Opens the door and calls out.] Kaia, come in here! Make haste!
Mr. Solness wants to speak to you.

KAIA FOSLI appears at the door.

KAIA.

[Looking at him in alarm.] Here I am---?

HILDA.

[Handing her the portfolio.] See her, Kaia! You can take this home;
Mr. Solness was written on them now.

KAIA.

Oh, at last!

SOLNESS.

Give them to the old man as soon as you can.

KAIA.

I will go straight home with them.

SOLNESS.

Yes, do. Now Ragnar will have a chance of building for himself.

KAIA.

Oh, may he come and thank you for all---?

SOLNESS.

[Harshly.] I won't have any thanks! Tell him that from me.

KAIA.

Yes, I will---

SOLNESS.

And tell him at the same time that henceforward I do not require his
services--nor yours either.

KAIA.

[Softly and quiveringly.] Not mine either?

SOLNESS.

You will have other things to think of now, and to attend to; and
that is a very good thing for you. Well, go home with the drawings
now, Miss Fosli. At once! Do you hear?

KAIA.

[As before.] Yes, Mr. Solness. [She goes out.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Heavens! what deceitful eyes she has.

SOLNESS.

She? That poor little creature?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh--I can see what I can see, Halvard.--- Are you really dismissing
them?

SOLNESS.

Yes.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Her as well?

SOLNESS.

Was not that what you wished?

MRS. SOLNESS.

But how can you get on without her---? Oh well, no doubt you have
some one else in reserve, Halvard.

HILDA.

[Playfully.] Well, _I_ for one am not the person to stand at a desk.

SOLNESS.

Never mind, never mind--it will be all right, Aline. Now all you
have to do is think about moving into our new home--as quickly as
you can. This evening we will hang up the wreath--[Turns to HILDA.]
What do you say to that, Miss Hilda?

HILDA.

[Looks at him with sparkling eyes.] It will be splendid to see you
so high up once more.

SOLNESS.

Me!

MRS. SOLNESS.

For Heaven's sake, Miss Wangel, don't imagine such a thing! My
husband!--when he always gets so dizzy!

HILDA.

He get dizzy! No, I know quite well he does not!

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh yes, indeed he does.

HILDA.

But I have seen him with my own eyes right up at the top of a high
church-tower!

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, I hear people talk of that; but it is utterly impossible---

SOLNESS.

[Vehemently.] Impossible--impossible, yes! But there I stood all
the same!

MRS. SOLNESS.

O, how can you say so, Halvard? Why, you can't even bear to go out
on the second-storey balcony here. You have always been like that.

SOLNESS.

You may perhaps see something different this evening.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[In alarm.] No, no, no! Please God I shall never see that. I will
write at once to the doctor--and I am sure he won't let you do it.

SOLNESS.

Why, Aline---!

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh, you know you're ill, Halvard. This proves it! Oh God--Oh God!
[She goes hastily out to the right.

HILDA.

[Looks intently at him.] Is it so, or is it not?

SOLNESS.

That I turn dizzy?

HILDA.

That my master builder dares not--cannot--climb as high as he builds?

SOLNESS.

Is that the way you look at it?

HILDA.

Yes.

SOLNESS.

I believe there is scarcely a corner in me that is safe from you.

HILDA.

[Looks towards the bow-window.] Up there, then. Right up there---

SOLNESS.

[Approaches her.] You might have the topmost room in the tower,
Hilda--there you might live like a princess.

HILDA.

[Indefinably, between earnest and jest.] Yes, that is what you
promised me.

SOLNESS.

Did I really?

HILDA.

Fie, Mr. Solness! You said I should be a princess, and that you
would give me a kingdom. And then you went and---Well!

SOLNESS.

[Cautiously.] Are you quite certain that this is not a dream--a
fancy, that has fixed itself in your mind?

HILDA.

[Sharply.] Do you mean that you did not do it?

SOLNESS.

I scarcely know myself. [More softly.] But now I know so much for
certain, that I---

HILDA.

That you---? Say it at once!

SOLNESS.

---that I ought to have done it.

HILDA.

[Exclaims with animation.] Don't tell me you can ever be dizzy!

SOLNESS.

This evening, then, we will hang up the wreath--Princess Hilda.

HILDA.

[With a bitter curve of the lips.] Over your new home, yes.

SOLNESS.

Over the new house, which will never be a home for me.
[He goes out through the garden door.

HILDA.

[Looks straight in front of her with a far-away expression, and
whispers to herself. The only words audible are:]---frightfully
thrilling---

ACT THIRD.

The large broad verandah of SOLNESS'S dwelling-house. Part
of the house, with outer door leading to the verandah, is
seen to the left. A railing along the verandah to the right.
At the back, from the end of the verandah, a flight of steps
leads down to the garden below. Tall old trees in the
garden spread their branches over the verandah and towards
the house. Far to the right, in among the trees, a glimpse
is caught of the lower part of the new villa, with scaffolding
round so much as is seen of the tower. In the background
the garden is bounded by an old wooden fence. Outside the
fence, a street with low, tumble-down cottages.

Evening sky with sun-lit clouds.

On the verandah, a garden bench stands along the wall of the
house, and in front of the bench a long table. On the other
side of the table, an arm-chair and some stools. All the
furniture is of wicker-work.

MRS. SOLNESS, wrapped in a large white crepe shawl, sits
resting in the arm-chair and gazes over to the right.
Shortly after, HILDA WANGEL comes up the flight of steps
from the garden. She is dressed as in the last act, and
wears her hat. She has in her bodice a little nosegay of
small common flowers.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Turning her head a little.] Have you been round the garden, Miss
Wangel?

HILDA.

Yes, I have been taking a look at it.

MRS. SOLNESS.

And found some flowers too, I see.

HILDA.

Yes, indeed! There are such heaps of them in among the bushes.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Are there, really? Still? You see I scarcely ever go there.

HILDA.

[Closer.] What! Don't you take a run down into the garden every
day, then?

MRS. SOLNESS.

[With a faint smile.] I don't "run" anywhere, nowadays.

HILDA.

Well, but do you not go down now and then to look at all the lovely
things there?

MRS. SOLNESS.

It has all become so strange to me. I am almost afraid to see it
again.

HILDA.

Your own garden!

MRS. SOLNESS.

I don't feel that it is mine any longer.

HILDA.

What do you mean---?

MRS. SOLNESS.

No, no, it is not--not as it was in my mother's and father's time.
They have taken away so much--so much of the garden, Miss Wangel.
Fancy--they have parcelled it out--and built houses for strangers--
people that I don't know. And they can sit and look in upon me from
their windows.

HILDA.

[With a bright expression.] Mrs. Solness!

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes?

HILDA.

May I stay here with you a little?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, by all means, if you care to.
[HILDA moves a stool close to the arm-chair and sits down.

HILDA.

Ah--here one can sit and sun oneself like a cat.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Lays her hand softly on HILDA'S neck.] It is nice of you to be
willing to sit with me. I thought you wanted to go in to my husband.

HILDA.

What should I want with him?

MRS. SOLNESS.

To help him, I thought.

HILDA.

No, thank you. And besides, he is not in. He is over there with
his workmen. But he looked so fierce that I did not dare to talk
to him.

MRS. SOLNESS.

He is so kind and gentle in reality.

HILDA.

He!

MRS. SOLNESS.

You do not really know him yet, Miss Wangel.

HILDA.

[Looks affectionately at her.] Are you pleased at the thought of
moving over to the new house?

MRS. SOLNESS.

I ought to be pleased; for it is what Halvard wants---

HILDA.

Oh, not just on that account, surely?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, yes, Miss Wangel; for it is only my duty to submit myself to
him. But very often it is dreadfully difficult to force one's mind
to obedience.

HILDA.

Yes, that must be difficult indeed.

MRS. SOLNESS.

I can tell you it is--when one has so many faults as I have---

HILDA.

When one has gone through so much trouble as you have---

MRS. SOLNESS.

How do you know about that?

HILDA.

Your husband told me.

MRS. SOLNESS.

To me he very seldom mentions these things.--Yes, I can tell you I
have gone through more than enough trouble in my life, Miss Wangel.

HILDA.

[Looks sympathetically at her and nods slowly.] Poor Mrs. Solness.
First of all there was the fire---

MRS. SOLNESS.

[With a sigh.] Yes, everything that was mine was burnt.

HILDA.

And then came what was worse.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Looking inquiringly at her.] Worse?

HILDA.

The worst of all.

MRS. SOLNESS.

What do you mean?

HILDA.

[Softly.] You lost the two little boys.

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh, yes, the boys. But, you see, that was a thing apart. That was
a dispensation of Providence; and in such things one can only bow in
submission--yes, and be thankful, too.

HILDA.

Then you are so?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Not always, I am sorry to say. I know well enough that it is my
duty--but all the same I cannot.

HILDA.

No, no, I think that is only natural.

MRS. SOLNESS.

And often and often I have to remind myself that it was a righteous
punishment for me---

HILDA.

Why?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Because I had not fortitude enough in misfortune.

HILDA.

But I don't see that---

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh, no, no, Miss Wangel--do not talk to me any more about the two
little boys. We ought to feel nothing but joy in thinking of them;
for they are so happy--so happy now. No, it is the small losses in
life that cut one to the heart--the loss of all that other people
look upon as almost nothing.

HILDA.

[Lays her arms on MRS. SOLNESS'S knees, and looks up at her
affectionately.] Dear Mrs. Solness--tell me what things you mean!

MRS. SOLNESS.

As I say, only little things. All the old portraits were burnt on
the walls. And all the old silk dresses were burnt, what had belonged
to the family for generations and generations. And all mother's and
grandmother's lace--that was burnt, too. And only think--the jewels,
too! [Sadly.] And then all the dolls.

HILDA.

The dolls?

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Choking with tears.] I had nine lovely dolls.

HILDA.

And they were burnt too?

MRS. SOLNESS.

All of them. Oh, it was hard--so hard for me.

HILDA.

Had you put by all these dolls, then? Ever since you were little?

MRS. SOLNESS.

I had not put them by. The dolls and I had gone on living together.

HILDA.

After you were grown up?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, long after that.

HILDA.

After you were married, too?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Oh yes, indeed. So long as he did not see it---. But they were all
burnt up, poor things. No one thought of saving them. Oh, it is so
miserable to think of. You mustn't laugh at me, Miss Wangel.

HILDA.

I am not laughing in the least.

MRS. SOLNESS.

For you see, in a certain sense, there was life in them, too. I
carried them under my heart--like little unborn children.

DR. HERDAL, with his hat in his hand, comes out through the
door, and observes MRS. SOLNESS. and HILDA.

DR. HERDAL.

Well, Mrs. Solness, so you are sitting out here catching cold?

MRS. SOLNESS.

I find it so pleasant and warm here to-day.

DR. HERDAL.

Yes, yes. But is there anything going on here? I got a note from
you.

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Rises.] Yes, there is something I must talk to you about.

DR. HERDAL.

Very well; then perhaps we better go in. [To HILDA.] Still in your
mountaineering dress, Miss Wangel?

HILDA.

[Gaily, rising.] Yes--in full uniform! But to-day I am not going
climbing and breaking my neck. We two will stop quietly below and
look on, doctor.

DR. HERDAL.

What are we to look on at?

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Softly, in alarm, to HILDA.] Hush, hush--for God's sake! He is
coming! Try to get that idea out of his head. And let us be friends,
Miss Wangel. Don't you think we can?

HILDA.

[Throws her arms impetuously round MRS. SOLNESS'S neck.] Oh, if we
only could!

MRS. SOLNESS.

[Gently disengages herself.] There, there, there! There he comes,
doctor. Let me have a word with you.

DR. HERDAL.

Is it about him?

MRS. SOLNESS.

Yes, to be sure it's about him. Do come in.

She and the doctor enter the house. Next moment SOLNESS
comes up from the garden by the flight of steps. A serious
look comes over HILDA'S face.

SOLNESS.

[Glances at the house-door, which is closed cautiously from within.]
Have you noticed, Hilda, that as soon as I come, she goes?

HILDA.

I have noticed that as soon as you come, you make her go.

SOLNESS.

Perhaps so. But I cannot help it. [Looks observantly at her.] Are
you cold, Hilda? I think you look cold.

HILDA.

I have just come up out of a tomb.

SOLNESS.

What do you mean by that?

HILDA.

That I have got chilled through and through, Mr. Solness.

SOLNESS.

[Slowly.] I believe I understand---

HILDA.

What brings you up here just now?

SOLNESS.

I caught sight of you from over there.

HILDA.

But then you must have seen her too?

SOLNESS.

I knew she would go at once if I came.

HILDA.

Is it very painful for you that she should avoid you in this way?

SOLNESS.

In one sense, it's a relief as well.

HILDA.

Not to have her before your eyes?

SOLNESS.

Yes.

HILDA.

Not to be always seeing how heavily the loss of the little boys
weighs upon her?

SOLNESS.

Yes. Chiefly that.
[HILDA drifts across the verandah with her hands behind her
back, stops at the railing and looks out over the garden.

SOLNESS.

[After a short pause.] Did you have a long talk with her?
[HILDA stands motionless and does not answer.

SOLNESS.

Had you a long talk, I asked? [HILDA is silent as before.

SOLNESS.

What was she talking about, Hilda? [HILDA continues silent.

SOLNESS.

Poor Aline! I suppose it was about the little boys.

HILDA.

[A nervous shudder runs through her; then she nods hurriedly
once or twice.

SOLNESS.

She will never get over it--never in this world. [Approaches her.]
Now you are standing there again like a statue; just as you stood
last night.

HILDA.

[Turns and looks at him, with great serious eyes.] I am going away.

SOLNESS.

[Sharply.] Going away!

HILDA.

Yes.

SOLNESS.

But I won't allow you to!

HILDA.

What am I to do here now?

SOLNESS.

Simply to be here, Hilda!

HILDA.

[Measures him with a look.] Oh, thank you. You know it wouldn't end
there.

SOLNESS.

[Heedlessly.] So much the better!

HILDA.

[Vehemently.] I cannot do any harm to one whom I know! I can't take
away anything that belongs to her.

SOLNESS.

Who wants you to do that?

HILDA.

[Continuing.] A stranger, yes! for that is quite a different thing!
A person I have never set eyes on. But one that I have come into
close contact with---! Oh no! Oh no! Ugh!

SOLNESS.

Yes, but I never proposed you should.

HILDA.

Oh, Mr. Solness, you know quite well what the end of it would be.
And that is why I am going away.

SOLNESS.

And what is to become of me when you are gone? What shall I have to
live for then?--After that?

HILDA.

[With the indefinable look in her eyes.] It is surely not so hard
for you. You have your duties to her. Live for those duties.

SOLNESS.

Too late. These powers--these--these---

HILDA.

---devils---

SOLNESS.

Yes, these devils! And the troll within me as well--they have drawn
all the life-blood out of her. [Laughs in desperation.] They did it
for my happiness! Yes, yes! [Sadly.] And now she is dead--for my
sake. And I am chained alive to a dead woman. [In wild anguish.]
_I_--_I_ who cannot live without joy in life!
[HILDA moves round the table and seats herself on the bench,
with her elbows on the table, and her head supported by her
hands.

HILDA.

[Sits and looks at him awhile.] What will you build next?

SOLNESS.

[Shakes his head.] I don't believe I shall build much more.

HILDA.

Not those cosy, happy homes for mother and father, and for the troop
of children?

SOLNESS.

I wonder whether there will be any use for such homes in the coming
time.

HILDA.

Poor Mr. Solness! And you have gone all these ten years--and staked
your whole life--on that alone.

SOLNESS.

Yes, you may well say so, Hilda.

HILDA.

[With an outburst.] Oh, it all seems to me so foolish--so foolish!

SOLNESS.

All what?

HILDA.

Not to be able to grasp at your own happiness--at your own life!
Merely because some one you know happens to stand in the way!

SOLNESS.

One whom you have no right to set aside.

HILDA.

I wonder whether one really has not the right! And yet, and yet---.
Oh! if one could only sleep the whole thing away!
[She lays her arms flat don on the table, rests the left side of
her head on her hands, and shuts her eyes.

SOLNESS.

[Turns the arm-chair and sits down at the table.] Had you a cosy,
happy home--up there with your father, Hilda?

HILDA.

[Without stirring, answers as if half asleep.] I had only a cage.

SOLNESS.

And you are determined not to go back to it?

HILDA.

[As before.] The wild bird never wants to go back to the cage.

SOLNESS.

Rather range through the free air---

HILDA.

[Still as before.] The bird of prey loves to range---

SOLNESS.

[Lets his eyes rest on her.] If only one had the viking-spirit in
life---

HILDA.

[In her usual voice; opens her eyes but does not move.] And the
other thing? Say what that was!

SOLNESS.

A robust conscience.
[HILDA sits erect on the bench, with animation. Her eyes have
once more the sparkling expression of gladness.

HILDA.

[Nods to him.] _I_ know what you are going to build next!

SOLNESS.

Then you know more than I do, Hilda.

HILDA.

Yes, builders are such stupid people.

SOLNESS.

What is it to be then?

HILDA.

[Nods again.] The castle.

SOLNESS.

What castle?

HILDA.

My castle, of course.

SOLNESS.

Do you want a castle now?

HILDA.

Don't you owe me a kingdom, I should like to know?

SOLNESS.

You say I do.

HILDA.

Well--you admit you owe me this kingdom. And you can't have a kingdom
without a royal castle, I should think.

SOLNESS.

[More and more animated.] Yes, they usually go together.

HILDA.

Good! Then build it for me! This moment!

SOLNESS.

[Laughing.] Must you have that on the instant, too?

HILDA.

Yes, to be sure! For the ten years are up now, and I am not going
to wait any longer. So--out with the castle, Mr. Solness!

SOLNESS.

It's no light matter to owe you anything, Hilda.

HILDA.

You should have thought of that before. It is too late now. So--
[tapping the table]--the castle on the table! It is my castle! I
will have it at once!

SOLNESS.

[More seriously, leans over towards her, with his arms on the table.]
What sort of castle have you imagined, Hilda?
[Her expression becomes more and more veiled. She seems gazing
inwards at herself.

HILDA.

[Slowly.] My castle shall stand on a height--on a very great height--
with a clear outlook on all sides, so that I can see far--far around.

SOLNESS.

And no doubt it is to have a high tower!

HILDA.

A tremendously high tower. And at the very top of the tower there
shall be a balcony. And I will stand out upon it---

SOLNESS.

[Involuntarily clutches at his forehead.] How can you like to stand
at such a dizzy height---?

HILDA.

Yes, I will! Right up there will I stand and look down on the other
people--on those that are building churches, and homes for mother
and father and the troop of children. And you may come up and look
on at it, too.

SOLNESS.

[In a low tone.] Is the builder to be allowed to come up beside the
princess?

HILDA.

If the builder will.

SOLNESS.

[More softly.] Then I think the builder will come.

HILDA.

[Nods.] The builder--he will come.

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