SCENE: DOCTOR WANGEL'S house, with a large verandah garden in
front of and around the house. Under the verandah a flagstaff. In
the garden an arbour, with table and chairs. Hedge, with small
gate at the back. Beyond, a road along the seashore. An avenue of
trees along the road. Between the trees are seen the fjord, high
mountain ranges and peaks. A warm and brilliantly clear summer morning.
BALLESTED, middle-aged, wearing an old velvet jacket, and a
broad-brimmed artist's hat, stands under the flagstaff, arranging
the ropes. The flag is lying on the ground. A little way from him is
an easel, with an outspread canvas. By the easel on a camp-stool,
brushes, a palette, and box of colours.
BOLETTE WANGEL comes from the room opening on the verandah. She
carries a large vase with flowers, which she puts down on the table.)
Bolette. Well, Ballested, does it work smoothly?
Ballested. Certainly, Miss Bolette, that's easy enough. May I
ask--do you expect any visitors today?
Bolette. Yes, we're expecting Mr. Arnholm this morning. He got to
town in the night.
Ballested. Arnholm? Wait a minute--wasn't Arnholm the man who was
tutor here several years ago?
Bolette. Yes, it is he.
Ballested. Oh, really! Is he coming into these parts again?
Bolette. That's why we want to have the flag up.
Ballested. Well, that's reasonable enough.
(BOLETTE goes into the room again. A little after LYNGSTRAND
enters from the road and stands still, interested by the easel
and painting gear. He is a slender youth, poorly but carefully
dressed, and looks delicate.)
Lyngstrand (on the other side of the hedge). Good-morning.
Ballested (turning round). Hallo! Good-morning. (Hoists up flag).
That's it! Up goes the balloon. (Fastens the ropes, and then
busies himself about the easel.) Good-morning, my dear sir. I
really don't think I've the pleasure of--Lyngstrand. I'm sure
you're a painter.
Ballested. Of course I am. Why shouldn't I be?
Lyngstrand. Yes, I can see you are. May I take the liberty of
coming in a moment?
Ballested. Would you like to come in and see?
Lyngstrand. I should like to immensely.
Ballested. Oh! there's nothing much to see yet. But come in. Come
a little closer.
Lyngstrand. Many thanks. (Comes in through the garden gate.)
Ballested (painting). It's the fjord there between the islands
I'm working at.
Lyngstrand. So I see.
Ballested. But the figure is still wanting. There's not a model
to be got in this town.
Lyngstrand. Is there to be a figure, too?
Ballested. Yes. Here by the rocks in the foreground a mermaid is
to lie, half-dead.
Lyngstrand. Why is she to be half-dead?
Ballested. She has wandered hither from the sea, and can't find
her way out again. And so, you see, she lies there dying in the
Lyngstrand. Ah, I see.
Ballested. The mistress of this house put it into my head to do
something of the kind.
Lyngstrand. What shall you call the picture when it's finished?
Ballested. I think of calling it "The Mermaid's End."
Lyngstrand. That's capital! You're sure to make something fine of