Lyngstrand. Yes, he was drowned on a sea voyage. But that's the
wonderful part of it--he comes home all the same. It is night-
time. And he is standing by her bed looking at her. He is to
stand there dripping wet, like one drawn from the sea.
Ellida (leaning back in her chair). What an extraordinary idea!
(Shutting her eyes.) Oh! I can see it so clearly, living before
Arnholm. But how on earth, Mr.--Mr.--I thought you said it was to
be something you had experienced.
Lyngstrand. Yes. I did experience that--that is to say, to a
Arnholm. You saw a dead man?
Lyngstrand. Well, I don't mean I've actually seen this--
experienced it in the flesh. But still--
Ellida (quickly, intently). Oh! tell me all you can about it! I
must understand about all this.
Arnholm (smiling). Yes, that'll be quite in your line. Something
that has to do with sea fancies.
Ellida. What was it, Mr. Lyngstrand?
Lyngstrand. Well, it was like this. At the time when we were to
sail home in the brig from a town they called Halifax, we had to
leave the boatswain behind in the hospital. So we had to engage
an American instead. This new boatswain-
Ellida. The American?
Lyngstrand. Yes, one day he got the captain to lend him a lot of
old newspapers and he was always reading them. For he wanted to
teach himself Norwegian, he said.
Ellida. Well, and then?
Lyngstrand. It was one evening in rough weather. All hands were
on deck--except the boatswain and myself. For he had sprained his
foot and couldn't walk, and I was feeling rather low, and was
lying in my berth. Well, he was sitting there in the forecastle,
reading one of those old papers again.
Ellida. Well, well!
Lyngstrand. But just as he was sitting there quietly reading, I
heard him utter a sort of yell. And when I looked at him, I saw
his face was as white as chalk. And then he began to crush and
crumple the paper, and to tear it into a thousand shreds. But he
did it so quietly, quietly.
Ellida. Didn't he say anything? Didn't he speak?
Lyngstrand. Not directly; but a little after he said to himself,
as it were: "Married--to another man. While I was away."
Ellida (closes her eyes, and says, half to herself). He said
Lyngstrand. Yes. And think--he said it in perfect Norwegian. That
man must have learnt foreign languages very easily--
Ellida. And what then? What else happened?
Lyngstrand. Well, now the remarkable part is coming--that I shall
never forget as long as I live. For he added, and that quite
quietly, too: "But she is mine, and mine she shall remain. And
she shall follow me, if I should come home and fetch her, as a
drowned man from the dark sea."
Ellida (pouring herself out a glass of water. Her hand trembles).
Ah! How close it is here today.
Lyngstrand. And he said this with such strength of will that I
thought he must be the man to do it.
Ellida. Don't you know anything about--what became of the man?
Lyngstrand. Oh! madam, he's certainly not living now.
Ellida (quickly). Why do you think that?
Lyngstrand. Why? Because we were shipwrecked afterwards in
the Channel. I had got into the longboat with the captain and five
others. The mate got into the stern-boat; and the American was
in that too, and another man.
Ellida. And nothing has been heard of them since?
Lyngstrand. Not a word. The friend who looks after me said so
quite recently in a letter. But it's just because of this I was
so anxious to make it into a work of art. I see the faithless
sailor-wife so life-like before me, and the avenger who is
drowned, and who nevertheless comes home from the sea. I can see
them both so distinctly.
Ellida. I, too. (Rises.) Come; let us go in--or, rather, go down
to Wangel. I think it is so suffocatingly hot. (She goes out of
Lyngstrand (who has also risen). I, for my part, must ask you to
excuse me. This was only to be a short visit because of the
Ellida. As you wish. (Holds out her hand to him.) Goodbye, and
thank you for the flowers.
(LYNGSTRAND bows, and goes off through the garden gate.)
Arnholm (rises, and goes up to ELLIDA). I see well enough that
this has gone to your heart, Mrs. Wangel.
Ellida. Yes; you may well say so. Although-
Arnholm. But still--after all, it's no more than you were bound to expect.
Ellida (looks at him surprised). Expect!
Arnholm. Well, so it seems to me.
Ellida. Expect that anyone should come back again!--come to life
again like that!
Arnholm. But what on earth!--is it that mad sculptor's sea story,
Ellida. Oh, dear Arnholm, perhaps it isn't so mad after all!
Arnholm. Is it that nonsense about the dead man that has moved
you so? And I who thought that--
Ellida. What did you think?
Arnholm. I naturally thought that was only a make-believe of
yours. And that you were sitting here grieving because you had
found out a family feast was being kept secret; because your
husband and his children live a life of remembrances in which you
have no part.
Ellida. Oh! no, no! That may be as it may. I have no right to
claim my husband wholly and solely for myself.
Arnholm. I should say you had.
Ellida. Yes. Yet, all the same, I have not. That is it. Why, I,
too, live in something from which they are shut out.
Arnholm. You! (In lower tone.) Do you mean?--you, you do not
really love your husband!
Ellida. Oh! yes, yes! I have learnt to love him with all my
heart! And that's why it is so terrible-so inexplicable--so
Arnholm. Now you must and shall confide all your troubles to me.
Will you, Mrs. Wangel?
Ellida. I cannot, dear friend. Not now, in any case. Later,
(BOLETTE comes out into the verandah, and goes down into the
Bolette. Father's coming up from the office. Hadn't we better all
of us go into the sitting-room?
Ellida. Yes, let us.