The Stranger. So it is over?
Ellida. Yes. Over for all time.
The Stranger. I see. There is something here stronger than my
Ellida. Your will has not a shadow of power over me any longer.
To me you are as one dead--who has come home from the sea, and
who returns to it again. I no longer dread you. And I am no
longer drawn to you.
The Stranger. Goodbye, Mrs. Wangel! (He swings himself over the
fence.) Henceforth, you are nothing but a shipwreck in my life
that I have tided over. (He goes out.)
Wangel (looks at her for a while). Ellida, your mind is like the
sea-- it has ebb and flow. Whence came the change?
Ellida. Ah! don't you understand that the change came--was bound
to come when I could choose in freedom?
Wangel. And the unknown?--It no longer lures you?
Ellida. Neither lures nor frightens me. I could have seen it--
gone out into it, if only I myself had willed it. I could have
chosen it. And that is why I could also renounce it.
Wangel. I begin to understand little by little. You think and
conceive in pictures--in visible figures. Your longing and aching
for the sea, your attraction towards this strange man, these were
the expression of an awakening and growing desire for freedom;
Ellida. I don't know about that. But you have been a good
physician for me. You found, and you dared to use the right
remedy--the only one that could help me.
Wangel. Yes, in utmost need and danger we doctors dare much. And
now you are coming back to me again, Ellida?
Ellida. Yes, dear, faithful Wangel--now I am coming back to you
again. Now I can. For now I come to you freely, and on my own
Wangel (looks lovingly at her). Ellida! Ellida! To think that now
we can live wholly for one another--
Ellida. And with common memories. Yours, as well as mine.
Wangel. Yes, indeed, dear.
Ellida. And for our children, Wangel?
Wangel. You call them ours!
Ellida. They who are not mine yet, but whom I shall win.
Wangel. Ours! (Gladly and quickly kisses her hands.) I cannot
speak my thanks for those words!
(HILDE, BALLESTED, LYNGSTRAND, ARNHOLM, and BOLETTE come into the
garden. At the same time a number of young townspeople and
visitors pass along the footpath.)
Hilde (aside to LYNGSTRAND). See! Why, she and father look
exactly as if they were a betrothed couple!
Ballested (who has overheard). It is summertime, little Missie.
Arnholm (looking at WANGEL and ELLIDA). The English steamer is
Bolette (going to the fence). You can see her best from here.
Lyngstrand. The last voyage this year.
Ballested. Soon all the sea-highways will be closed, as the poet
says. It is sad, Mrs. Wangel. And now we're to lose you also for
a time. Tomorrow you're off to Skjoldviken, I hear.
Wangel. No; nothing will come of that. We two have changed our
Arnholm (looking from one to the other). Oh!--really!
Bolette (coming forward). Father, is that true?
Hilde (going towards ELLIDA). Are you going to stay with us after
Ellida. Yes, dear Hilde, if you'll have me.
Hilde (struggling between tears and laughter). Fancy! Have you!
Arnholm (to ELLIDA). But this is quite a surprise--!
Ellida (smiling earnestly). Well, you see, Mr. Arnholm--Do you remember
we talked about it yesterday? When you have once become a land-
creature you can no longer find your way back again to the sea,
nor to the sea-life either.
Ballested. Why, that's exactly the case with my mermaid.
Ellida. Something like--yes.
Ballested. Only with this difference--that the mermaid dies of it,
it, while human beings can acclam--acclimatise themselves. Yes yes.
I assure you, Mrs. Wangel, they can ac-climatise themselves.
Ellida. In freedom they can, Mr. Ballested.
Wangel. And when they act on their own responsibility, dear Ellida.
Ellida (quickly holding out her hand to him). Exactly. (The great
steamer glides noiselessly out beyond the fjord. The music is
heard nearer land.)