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!
There's another! (Looks through the trees.) Out there. Now he's
coming to frighten him away!
Bolette (looking up). Who's coming?
Hilde. Your tutor, Miss!
Hilde. Yes. Goodness knows he never was mine.
(ARNHOLM enters from between the trees.)
Arnholm. Are there fish in the pond now?
Hilde. There are some very ancient carp.
Arnholm. No! Are the old carp still alive?
Hilde. Yes; they're pretty tough. But now we're going to try and
get rid of some of them.
Arnholm. You'd better try out there at the fjord.
Lyngstrand. No; the pond is--well--so to say--more mysterious.
Hilde. Yes; it's fascinating here. Have you been in the sea?
Arnholm. Yes; I've come straight from the baths.
Hilde. I suppose you kept in the enclosure?
Arnholm. Yes; I'm not much of a swimmer.
Hilde. Can you swim on your back?
Hilde. I can. (To LYNGSTRAND.) Let's try out there on the other
side. (They go off along the pond.)
Arnholm (coming closer to BOLETTE). Are you sitting all alone
Bolette. Yes; I generally do.
Arnholm. Isn't your mother down here in the garden?
Bolette. No--she's sure to be out with father.
Arnholm. How is she this afternoon?
Bolette. I don't quite know. I forgot to ask.
Arnholm. What books have you there?
Bolette. The one's something about botany. And the other's a
Arnholm. Do you care about such things?
Bolette. Yes, if only I had time for it. But, first of all, I've
to look after the housekeeping.
Arnholm. Doesn't your mother help you--your stepmother--doesn't
she help with that?
Bolette. No, that's my business. Why, I saw to that during the
two years father was alone. And so it has been since.
Arnholm. But you're as fond as ever of reading.
Bolette. Yes, I read all the useful books I can get hold of. One
wants to know something about the world. For here we live so
completely outside of all that's going on--or almost.
Arnholm. Now don't say that, dear Bolette.
Bolette. Yes! I think we live very much as the carp down there
in the pond. They have the fjord so near them, where the shoals
of wild fishes pass in and out. But the poor, tame house-fishes
know nothing, and they can take no part in that.
Arnholm. I don't think it would fare very well with them if they
could get out there.
Bolette. Oh! it would be much the same, I expect.
Arnholm. Moreover, you can't say that one is so completely out of the
world here--not in the summer anyhow. Why, nowadays this is quite
a rendezvous for the busy world--almost a terminus for the time
Bolette. Ah, yes! you who yourself are only here for the time
being--it is easy for you to make fun of us.
Arnholm. I make fun? How can you think that?
Bolette. Well, all that about this being a rendezvous, and a
terminus for the busy world--that's something you've heard the
townsfolk here saying. Yes--they're in the habit of saying that
sort of thing.
Arnholm. Well, frankly, I've noticed that, too.
Bolette. But really there's not an atom of truth in it. Not for
us who always live here. What good is it to us that the great
strange world comes hither for a time on its way North to see the
midnight sun? We ourselves have no part in that; we see nothing
of the midnight sun. No! We've got to be good, and live our lives
here in our carp pond.
Arnholm (sitting down by her). Now tell me, dear Bolette, isn't
there something or other--something definite you are longing for?
Arnholm. What is it, really? What is it you are longing for?
Bolette. Chiefly to get away.
Arnholm. That above all, then?
Bolette. Yes; and then to learn more. To really know something
Arnholm. When I used to teach you, your father often said he
would let you go to college.
Bolette. Yes, poor father! He says so many things. But when it
comes to the point he--there's no real stamina in father.
Arnholm. No, unfortunately you're right there. He has not exactly
stamina. But have you ever spoken to him about it--spoken really
earnestly and seriously?
Bolette. No, I've not quite done that.
Arnholm. But really you ought to. Before it is too late, Bolette,
why don't you?
Bolette. Oh! I suppose it's because there's no real stamina in me
either. I certainly take after father in that.
Arnholm. Hm--don't you think you're unjust to yourself there?
Bolette. No, unfortunately. Besides, father has so little time
for thinking of me and my future, and not much desire to either.
He prefers to put such things away from him whenever he can. He
is so completely taken up with Ellida.