Arnholm. Not the land?
Ellida. No; I don't believe so. I think that if only men had from
the beginning accustomed themselves to live on the sea, or in the
sea perhaps, we should be more perfect than we are--both better
Arnholm. You really think that?
Ellida. Yes. I should like to know if we should not. I've often
spoken to Wangel about it.
Arnholm. Well, and he?
Ellida. He thinks it might be so.
Arnholm (jestingly). Well, perhaps! But it can't be helped. We've
once for- all entered upon the wrong path, and have become land
beasts instead of sea beasts. Anyhow, I suppose it's too late to
make good the mistake now.
Ellida. Yes, you've spoken a sad truth. And I think men
instinctively feel something of this themselves. And they bear it
about with them as a secret regret and sorrow. Believe me--herein
lies the deepest cause for the sadness of men. Yes, believe me,
Arnholm. But, my dearest Mrs. Wangel, I have not observed that
men are so extremely sad. It seems to me, on the contrary, that
most of them take life easily and pleasantly--and with a great,
quiet, unconscious joy.
Ellida. Oh! no, it is not so. The joy is, I suppose, something
like our joy at the long pleasant summer days--it has the
presentiment of the dark days coming. And it is this presentiment
that casts its shadows over the joy of men, just as the driving
clouds cast their shadow over the fjords. It lies there so bright
and blue--and of a sudden.
Arnholm. You shouldn't give way to such sad thoughts. Just now
you were so glad and so bright.
Ellida. Yes, yes, so I was. Oh, this--this is so stupid of me.
(Looking about her uneasily.) If only Wangel would come! He
promised me so faithfully he would. And yet he does not come.
Dear Mr. Arnholm, won't you try and find him for me?
Ellida. Tell him he must come here directly now. For now I can't
Arnholm. Not see him?
Ellida. Oh! you don't understand. When he is not by me I often
can't remember how he looks. And then it is as if I had quite
lost him. That is so terribly painful. But do go, please. (She
paces round the pond.)
Bolette (to ARNHOLM). I will go with you--you don't know the way.
Arnholm. Nonsense, I shall be all right.
Bolette (aside). No, no, no. I am anxious. I'm afraid he is on
board the steamer.
Bolette. Yes. He usually goes to see if there are any
acquaintances of his. And there's a restaurant on board.
Arnholm. Ah! Come then.
(He and BOLETTE go off. ELLIDA stands still awhile, staring down
at the pond. Now and again she speaks to herself in a low voice,
and breaks off. Along the footpath beyond the garden fence a
STRANGER in travelling dress comes from the left. His hair and
beard are bushy and red. He has a Scotch cap on, and a travelling
bag with strap across his shoulders.)
The Stranger (goes slowly along by the fence and peeps into the
garden. When he catches sight of ELLIDA he stands still, looks at
her fixedly and searchingly, and speaks in a low voice). Good-
Ellida (turns round with a cry). Oh dear! have you come at last!
The Stranger. Yes, at last.
Ellida (looking at him astonished and frightened). Who are you?
Do you seek anyone here?
The Stranger. You surely know that well enough, Ellida.
Ellida (starting). What is this! How do you address me? Whom are
you looking for?
The Stranger. Well, I suppose I'm looking for you.
Ellida (shuddering). Oh! (She stares at him, totters back,
uttering a half-suffocating cry.) The eyes!--the eyes!
The Stranger. Are you beginning to recognise me at last? I knew
you at once, Ellida.
Ellida. The eyes! Don't look at me like that! I shall cry for
The Stranger. Hush, hush! Do not fear. I shan't hurt you.
Ellida (covering her eyes with her hands). Do not look at me like
that, I say!
The Stranger (leaning with his arms on the garden fence). I came
with the English steamer.
Ellida (stealing a frightened look at him). What do you want with
The Stranger. I promised you to come as soon as I could--
Ellida. Go--go away! Never, never come here again! I wrote to you
that everything must be over between us--everything! Oh! you know
The Stranger (imperturbably, and not answering her). I would
gladly have come to you sooner; but I could not. Now, at last I
am able to, and I am here, Ellida.
Ellida. What is it you want with me? What do you mean? Why have
you come here?
The Stranger. Surely you know I've come to fetch you.
Ellida (recoils in terror). To fetch me! Is that what you mean?
The Stranger. Of course.
Ellida. But surely you know that I am married?
The Stranger. Yes, I know.
Ellida. And yet--and yet you have come to--to fetch me!
The Stranger. Certainly I have.
Ellida (seizing her head with both her hands). Oh! this misery--
this horror! This horror!