Arnholm. Oh! I see.
Bolette (to ARNHOLM). No doubt you and father sat up very late
last night, talking?
Arnholm. Yes, rather late. We were talking over serious matters.
Bolette. Did you put in a word for me, and my affairs, too?
Arnholm. No, dear Bolette, I couldn't manage it. He was so
completely taken up with something else.
Bolette (sighs). Ah! yes; he always is.
Arnholm (looks at her meaningly). But later on today we'll talk
more fully about--the matter. Where's your father now? Not at
Bolette. Yes, he is. He must be down in the office. I'll fetch
Arnholm. No, thanks. Don't do that. I'd rather go down to him.
Bolette (listening). Wait one moment, Mr. Arnholm; I believe
that's father on the stairs. Yes, I suppose he's been up to look
(WANGEL comes in from the door on the left.)
Wangel (shaking ARNHOLM'S hand). What, dear friend, are you here
already? It was good of you to come so early, for I should like
to talk a little further with you.
Bolette (to LYNGSTRAND). Hadn't we better go down to Hilde in the
Lyngstrand. I shall be delighted, Miss Wangel.
(He and BOLETTE go down into the garden, and pass out between the
trees in the background.)
Arnholm (following them with his eyes, turns to WANGEL). Do you
know anything about that young man?
Wangel. No, nothing at all.
Arnholm. But do you think it right he should knock about so much
with the girls?
Wangel. Does he? I really hadn't noticed it.
Arnholm. You ought to see to it, I think.
Wangel. Yes, I suppose you're right. But, good Lord! What's a man
to do? The girls are so accustomed to look after themselves now.
They won't listen to me, nor to Ellida.
Arnholm. Not to her either?
Wangel. No; and besides I really cannot expect Ellida to trouble
about such things. She's not fit for that (breaking off). But it
wasn't that which we were to talk of. Now tell me, have you
thought the matter over--thought over all I told you of?
Arnholm. I have thought of nothing else ever since we parted last
Wangel. And what do you think should be done?
Arnholm. Dear Wangel, I think you, as a doctor, must know that
better than I.
Wangel. Oh! if you only knew how difficult it is for a doctor to
judge rightly about a patient who is so dear to him! Besides,
this is no ordinary illness. No ordinary doctor and no ordinary
medicines can help her.
Arnholm. How is she today?
Wangel. I was upstairs with her just now, and then she seemed to
me quite calm; but behind all her moods something lies hidden
which it is impossible for me to fathom; and then she is so
changeable, so capricious--she varies so suddenly.
Arnholm. No doubt that is the result of her morbid state of mind.
Wangel. Not altogether. When you go down to the bedrock, it was
born in her. Ellida belongs to the sea-folk. That is the matter.
Arnholm. What do you really mean, my dear doctor?
Wangel. Haven't you noticed that the people from out there by the
open sea are, in a way, a people apart? It is almost as if they
themselves lived the life of the sea. There is the rush of waves,
and ebb and flow too, both in their thoughts and in their
feelings, and so they can never bear transplanting. Oh! I ought
to have remembered that. It was a sin against Ellida to take her
away from there, and bring her here.
Arnholm. You have come to that opinion?
Wangel. Yes, more and more. But I ought to have told myself this
beforehand. Oh! I knew it well enough at bottom! But I put it
from me. For, you see, I loved her so! Therefore, I thought of
myself first of all. I was inexcusably selfish at that time!
Arnholm. Hm. I suppose every man is a little selfish under such
circumstances. Moreover, I've never noticed that vice in you,
Wangel (walks uneasily about the room). Oh, yes! And I have been
since then, too. Why, I am so much, much older than she is. I
ought to have been at once as a father to her and a guide. I
ought to have done my best to develop and enlighten her mind.
Unfortunately nothing ever came of that. You see, I hadn't
stamina enough, for I preferred her just as she was. So things
went worse and worse with her, and then I didn't know what to do.
(In a lower voice.) That was why I wrote to you in my trouble,
and asked you to come here.
Arnholm (looks at him in astonishment). What, was it for this you
Wangel. Yes; but don't let anyone notice anything.
Arnholm. How on earth, dear doctor--what good did you expect me
to be? I don't understand it.