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.