Bolette (seizing his hands). Yes, I almost think I can! I don't
know how it is, but--(bursting out) Oh! I could both laugh and
cry for joy, for happiness! Then I should know life really after
all. I began to be so afraid life would pass me by.
Arnholm. You need not fear that, Bolette. But now you must
tell me quite frankly--if there is anything--anything you
are bound to here.
Bolette. Bound to? Nothing.
Arnholm. Nothing whatever?
Bolette. No, nothing at all. That is--I am bound to father to
some extent. And to Hilde, too. But--
Arnholm. Well, you'll have to leave your father sooner or later.
And some time Hilde also will go her own way in life. That is
a question of time. Nothing more. And so there is nothing else
that binds you, Bolette? Not any kind of connection?
Bolette. Nothing whatever. As far as that goes, I could leave at
Arnholm. Well, if that is so, dear Bolette, you shall go away
Bolette (clapping her hands). 0h God! What joy to think of it!
Arnholm. For I hope you trust me fully?
Bolette. Indeed, I do!
Arnholm. And you dare to trust yourself and your future fully and
confidently into my hands, Bolette? Is that true? You will dare
to do this?
Bolette. Of course; how could I not do so? Could you believe
anything else? You, who have been my old teacher--my teacher in
the old days,
Arnholm. Not because of that. I will not consider that side of
the matter; but--well, so you are free, Bolette! There is nothing
that binds you, and so I ask you, if you could--if you could--
bind yourself to me for life?
Bolette (steps back frightened). What are you saying?
Arnholm. For all your life, Bolette. Will you be my wife?
Bolette (half to herself). No, no, no! That is impossible,
Arnholm. It is really so absolutely impossible for you to--
Bolette. But, surely, you cannot mean what you are saying, Mr.
Arnholm! (Looking at him.) Or--yet--was that what you meant when
you offered to do so much for me?
Arnholm. You must listen to me one moment, Bolette. I suppose I
have greatly surprised you!
Bolette. Oh! how could such a thing from you--how could it but--
but surprise me!
Arnholm. Perhaps you are right. Of course, you didn't--you could
not know it was for your sake I made this journey.
Bolette. Did you come here for--for my sake?
Arnholm. I did, Bolette. In the spring I received a letter from
your father, and in it there was a passage that made me think--
that you held your former teacher in--in a little more than
Bolette. How could father write such a thing?
Arnholm. He did not mean it so. But I worked myself into the
that here was a young girl longing for me to come again--
No, you mustn't interrupt me, dear Bolette! And--you see, when a
man like myself, who is no longer quite young, has such a belief-
or fancy, it makes an overwhelming impression. There grew within
me a living, a grateful affection for you; I thought I must come
to you, see you again, and tell you I shared the feelings that I
fancied you had for me.
Bolette. And now you know it is not so!--that it was a mistake!
Arnholm. It can't be helped, Bolette. Your image, as I bear it
within myself, will always be coloured and stamped with the
impression that this mistake gave me. Perhaps you cannot
this; but still it is so.
Bolette. I never thought such a thing possible.
Arnholm. But now you have seen that it is possible, what do you
say now, Bolette? Couldn't you make up your mind to
be--yes--to be my wife?
Bolette. Oh! it seems so utterly impossible, Mr. Arnholm.
You, who have been my teacher! I can't imagine ever standing
in any other relation towards you.
Arnholm. Well, well, if you think you really cannot--Then
our old relations remain unchanged, dear Bolette.
Bolette. What do you mean?
Arnholm. Of course, to keep my promise all the same. I will take
care you get out into the world and see something of it. Learn
some things you really want to know; live safe and independent.
Your future I shall provide for also, Bolette. For in me you will
always have a good, faithful, trustworthy friend. Be sure of
Bolette. Good heavens! Mr. Arnholm, all that is so utterly
Arnholm. Is that impossible too?
Bolette. Surely you can see that! After what you have just said
to me, and after my answer--Oh! you yourself must see that it is
impossible for me now to accept so very much from you. I can
accept nothing from you--nothing after this.
Arnholm. So you would rather stay at home here, and let life pass
Bolette. Oh! it is such dreadful misery to think of that.
Arnholm. Will you renounce knowing something of the outer world?
Renounce bearing your part in all that you yourself say you are
hungering for? To know there is so infinitely much, and yet never
really to understand anything of it? Think carefully, Bolette.
Bolette. Yes, yes! You are right, Mr. Arnholm.
Arnholm. And then, when one day your father is no longer here,
then perhaps to be left helpless and alone in the world; or live
to give yourself to another man--whom you, perhaps, will also
feel no affection for--
Bolette. Oh, yes! I see how true all you say is. But still--and
Arnholm (quickly). Well?
Bolette (looking at him hesitatingly). Perhaps it might not be so
impossible after all.
Arnholm. What, Bolette?
Bolette. Perhaps it might be possible--to accept--what you
proposed to me.
Arnholm. Do you mean that, after all, you might be willing to--
that at all events you could give me the happiness of helping you
as a steadfast friend?
Bolette. No, no, no! Never that, for that would be utterly
impossible now. No--Mr. Arnholm--rather take me.
Arnholm. Bolette! You will?
Bolette. Yes, I believe I will.