Arnholm. And if you had not been bound?
Arnholm. Would your answer to my letter have been different?
Ellida. How can I tell? When Wangel came the answer was
Arnholm. What is your object, then, in telling me that you were
Ellida (getting up, as if in fear and unrest). Because I must
have someone in whom to confide. No, no; sit still.
Arnholm. Then your husband knows nothing about this?
Ellida. I confessed to him from the first that my thoughts had
once been elsewhere. He never asked to know more, and we have
never touched upon it since. Besides, at bottom it was simply
madness. And then it was over directly--that is to a certain
Arnholm (rising). Only to a certain extent? Not quite?
Ellida. Yes, yes, it is! Oh, good heavens! Dear Arnholm, it is
not what you think. It is something so absolutely
incomprehensible, I don't know how I could tell it you. You would
only think I was ill, or quite mad.
Arnholm. My dearest lady! Now you really must tell me all about
Ellida. Well, then, I'll try to. How will you, as a sensible man,
explain to yourself that--(Looks round, and breaks off.) Wait a
moment. Here's a visitor.
(LYNGSTRAND comes along the road, and enters the garden. He has a
flower in his button-hole, and carries a large, handsome bouquet
done up in paper and silk ribbons. He stands somewhat
hesitatingly and undecidedly by the verandah.)
Ellida (from the arbour). Have you come to see the girls, Mr.
Lyngstrand (turning round). Ah, madam, are you there? (Bows, and
comes nearer.) No, it's not that. It's not the young ladies. It's
you yourself, Mrs. Wangel. You know you gave me permission to
come and see you-
Ellida. Of course I did. You are always welcome here.
Lyngstrand. Thanks; and as it falls out so luckily that it's a
festival here today--
Ellida. Oh! Do you know about that?
Lyngstrand. Rather! And so I should like to take the liberty of
presenting this to Mrs. Wangel. (Bows, and offers her the
Ellida (smiling). But, my dear Mr. Lyngstrand, oughtn't you to
give these lovely flowers to Mr. Arnholm himself? For you know
it's really he-
Lyngstrand (looking uncertainly at both of them). Excuse me,
but I don't know this gentleman. It's only--I've only come about
the birthday, Mrs. Wangel.
Ellida. Birthday? You've made a mistake, Mr. Lyngstrand. There's
no birthday here today.
Lyngstrand (smiling slyly). Oh! I know all about that! But I
didn't think it was to be kept so dark.
Ellida. What do you know?
Lyngstrand. That it is Madam's birthday.
Arnholm (looks questioningly at her). Today? Surely not.
Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Whatever made you think that?
Lyngstrand. It was Miss Hilde who let it out. I just looked in
here a little while ago, and I asked the young ladies why they
were decorating the place like this, with flowers and flags.
Lyngstrand. And so Miss Hilde said, "Why, today is mother's
Ellida. Mother's!--I see.
Arnholm. Aha! (He and ELLIDA exchange a meaning look.) Well, now
that the young man knows about it--
Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Well, now that you know--
Lyngstrand (offering her the bouquet again). May I take the
liberty of congratulating you?
Ellida (taking the flowers). My best thanks. Won't you sit down a
moment, Mr. Lyngstrand? (ELLIDA, ARNHOLM, and LYNGSTRAND sit down
in the arbour.) This--birthday business--was to have been kept secret,
Arnholm. So I see. It wasn't for us uninitiated folk!
Ellida (putting down the bouquet). Just so. Not for the uninitiated.
Lyngstrand. 'Pon my word, I won't tell a living soul about it.
Ellida. Oh, it wasn't meant like that. But how are you getting
on? I think you look better than you did.
Lyngstrand. Oh! I think I'm getting on famously. And by next
year, if I can go south--
Ellida. And you are going south, the girls tell me.
Lyngstrand. Yes, for I've a benefactor and friend at Bergen, who
looks after me, and has promised to help me next year.
Ellida. How did you get such a friend?
Lyngstrand. Well, it all happened so very luckily. I once went to
sea in one of his ships.
Ellida. Did you? So you wanted to go to sea?
Lyngstrand. No, not at all. But when mother died, father wouldn't
have me knocking about at home any longer, and so he sent
me to sea. Then we were wrecked in the English Channel on
our way home; and that was very fortunate for me.
Arnholm. What do you mean?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for it was in the shipwreck that I got this
little weakness--of my chest. I was so long in the ice-cold water
before they picked me up; and so I had to give up the sea. Yes,
that was very fortunate.
Arnholm. Indeed! Do you think so?
Lyngstrand. Yes, for the weakness isn't dangerous; and now I can
be a sculptor, as I so dearly want to be. Just think; to model in
that delicious clay, that yields so caressingly to your fingers!
Ellida. And what are you going to model? Is it to be mermen and
mermaids? Or is it to be old Vikings?
Lyngstrand. No, not that. As soon as I can set about it, I am
going to try if I can produce a great work--a group, as they call
Ellida. Yes; but what's the group to be?
Lyngstrand. Oh! something I've experienced myself.
Arnholm. Yes, yes; always stick to that.
Ellida. But what's it to be?
Lyngstrand. Well, I thought it should be the young wife of a
sailor, who lies sleeping in strange unrest, and she is dreaming.
I fancy I shall do it so that you will see she is dreaming.
Arnholm. Is there anything else?
Lyngstrand. Yes, there's to be another figure--a sort of
apparition, as they say. It's her husband, to whom she has been
faithless while he was away, and he is drowned at sea.