HIALMAR EKDAL'S studio, a good-sized room, evidently in the top storey of the building. On the right, a sloping roof of large panes of glass, half-covered by a blue curtain. In the right-hand corner, at the back, the entrance door; farther forward, on the same side, a door leading to the sitting-room. Two doors on the opposite side, and between them an iron stove. At the back, a wide double sliding-door. The studio is plainly but comfortably fitted up and furnished. Between the doors on the right, standing out a little from the wall, a sofa with a table and some chairs; on the table a lighted lamp with a shade; beside the stove an old arm-chair. Photographic instruments and apparatus of different kinds lying about the room. Against the back wall, to the left of the double door, stands a bookcase containing a few books, boxes, and bottles of chemicals, instruments, tools, and other objects. Photographs and small articles, such as camel's-hair pencils, paper, and so forth, lie on the table.
GINA EKDAL sits on a chair by the table, sewing. HEDVIG is sitting on the sofa, with her hands shading her eyes and her thumbs in her ears, reading a book.]
Gina [glances once or twice at HEDVIG, as if with secret anxiety; then says:] Hedvig!
[Hedvig does not hear.]
Gina [repeats more loudly.] Hedvig!
Hedvig [takes away her hands and looks up.] Yes, mother?
Gina. Hedvig dear, you mustn't sit reading any longer now.
Hedvig. Oh mother, mayn't I read a little more? Just a little bit?
Gina. No, no, you must put away your book now. Father doesn't like it; he never reads hisself in the evening.
Hedvig [shuts the book.] No, father doesn't care much about reading.
Gina [puts aside her sewing and takes up a lead pencil and a little account-book from the table.] Can you remember how much we paid for the butter to-day?
Hedvig. It was one crown sixty-five.
Gina. That's right. [Puts it down.] It's terrible what a lot of butter we get through in this house. Then there was the smoked sausage, and the cheese — let me see — [Writes] — and the ham — [Adds up.] Yes, that makes just —
Hedvig. And then the beer.
Gina. Yes, to be sure. [Writes.] How it do mount up! But we can't manage with no less.
Hedvig. And then you and I didn't need anything hot for dinner, as father was out.
Gina. No; that was so much to the good. And then I took eight crowns fifty for the photographs.
Hedvig. Really! So much as that?
Gina. Exactly eight crowns fifty.
[Silence. GINA takes up her sewing again, HEDVIG takes paper and pencil and begins to draw, shading her eyes with her left hand.]
Hedvig. Isn't it jolly to think that father is at Mr. Werle's big dinner-party?
Gina. You know he's not really Mr. Werle's guest. It was the son invited him. [After a pause.] We have nothing to do with that Mr. Werle.
Hedvig. I'm longing for father to come home. He promised to ask Mrs. Sorby for something nice for me.
Gina. Yes, there's plenty of good things going in that house, I can tell you.
Hedvig [goes on drawing.] And I believe I'm a little hungry too.
[OLD EKDAL, with the paper parcel under his arm and another parcel in his coat pocket, comes in by the entrance door. ]
Gina. How late you are to-day, grandfather!
Ekdal. They had locked the office door. Had to wait in Graberg's room. And then they let me through — h'm.
Hedvig. Did you get some more copying to do, grandfather?
Ekdal. This whole packet. Just look.
Gina. That's capital.
Hedvig. And you have another parcel in your pocket.
Ekdal. Eh? Oh never mind, that's nothing. [Puts his stick away in a corner.] This work will keep me going a long time, Gina. [Opens one of the sliding-doors in the back wall a little.] Hush! [Peeps into the room for a moment, then pushes the door carefully to again.] Hee-hee! They're fast asleep, all the lot of them. And she's gone into the basket herself. Hee-hee!
Hedvig. Are you sure she isn't cold in that basket, grandfather?
Ekdal. Not a bit of it! Cold? With all that straw? [Goes towards the farther door on the left.] There are matches in here, I suppose.
Gina. The matches is on the drawers.
[EKDAL goes into his room.]
Hedvig. It's nice that grandfather has got all that copying.
Gina. Yes, poor old father; it means a bit of pocket-money for him.
Hedvig. And he won't be able to sit the whole forenoon down at that horrid Madam Eriksen's.
Gina. No more he won't.
Hedvig. Do you suppose they are still at the dinner-table?
Gina. Goodness knows; as like as not.
Hedvig. Think of all the delicious things father is having to eat! I'm certain he'll be in splendid spirits when he comes. Don't you think so, mother?
Gina. Yes; and if only we could tell him that we'd got the room let —
Hedvig. But we don't need that this evening.
Gina. Oh, we'd be none the worst of it, I can tell you. It's no use to us as it is.
Hedvig. I mean we don't need it this evening, for father will be in a good humour at any rate. It is best to keep the letting of the room for another time.
Gina [looks across at her.] You like having some good news to tell father when he comes home in the evening?
Hedvig. Yes; for then things are pleasanter somehow.
Gina [thinking to herself.] Yes, yes, there's something in that.
[OLD EKDAL comes in again and is going out by the foremost door to the left.]
Gina [half turning in her chair.] Do you want something out of the kitchen, grandfather?
Ekdal. Yes, yes, I do. Don't you trouble.
Gina. He's not poking away at the fire, is he? [ Waits a moment.] Hedvig, go and see what he's about.
[EKDAL comes in again with a small jug of steaming hot water.]
Hedvig. Have you been getting some hot water, grandfather?
Ekdal. Yes, hot water. Want it for something. Want to write, and the ink has got as thick as porridge — h'm.
Gina. But you'd best have your supper, first, grandfather. It's laid in there.
Ekdal. Can't be bothered with supper, Gina. Very busy, I tell you. No one's to come to my room. No one — h'm.
[He goes into his room; GINA and HEDVIG look at each other.]
Gina [softly.] Can you imagine where he's got money from?
Hedvig. From Graberg, perhaps.
Gina. Not a bit of it. Graberg always sends the money to me.
Hedvig. Then he must have got a bottle on credit somewhere.
Gina. Poor grandfather, who'd give him credit?
HIALMAR EKDAL, in an overcoat and grey felt hat, comes in from the right.]
Gina [throws down her sewing and rises.] Why, Ekdal, Is that you already?
Hedvig [at the same time jumping up.] Fancy your coming so soon, father!
Hialmar [taking off his hat.] Yes, most of the people were coming away.
Hedvig. So early?
Hialmar. Yes, it was a dinner-party, you know.
[Is taking off his overcoat.]
Gina. Let me help you.
Hedvig. Me too.
[They draw off his coat; GINA hangs it up on the back wall.]
Hedvig. Were there many people there, father?
Hialmar. Oh no, not many. We were about twelve or fourteen at table.
Gina. And you had some talk with them all?
Hialmar. Oh yes, a little; but Gregers took me up most of the time.
Gina. Is Gregers as ugly as ever?
Hialmar. Well, he's not very much to look at. Hasn't the old man come home?
Hedvig. Yes, grandfather is in his room, writing.
Hialmar. Did he say anything?
Gina. No, what should he say?
Hialmar. Didn't he say anything about —? I heard something about his having been with Graberg. I'll go in and see him for a moment.
Gina. No, no, better not.
Hialmar. Why not? Did he say he didn't want me to go in?
Gina. I don't think he wants to see nobody this evening —
Hedvig [making signs.] H'm — h'm!
Gina [not noticing.] — he has been in to fetch hot water —
Hialmar. Aha! Then he's —
Gina. Yes, I suppose so.
Hialmar. Oh God! my poor old white-haired father! — Well, well; there let him sit and get all the enjoyment he can.
[OLD EKDAL, in an indoor coat and with a lighted pipe, comes from his room.]
Ekdal. Got home? Thought it was you I heard talking.
Hialmar. Yes, I have just come.
Ekdal. You didn't see me, did you?
Hialmar. No, but they told me you had passed through — so I thought I would follow you.
Ekdal. H'm, good of you, Hialmar. — Who were they, all those fellows?
Hialmar. — Oh, all sorts of people. There was Chamberlain Flor, and Chamberlain Balle, and Chamberlain Kaspersen, and Chamberlain — this, that, and the other — I don't know who all —
Ekdal [nodding.] Hear that, Gina! Chamberlains every one of them!
Gina. Yes, I hear as they're terrible genteel in that house nowadays.
Hedvig. Did the Chamberlains sing, father? Or did they read aloud?
Hialmar. No, they only talked nonsense. They wanted me to recite something for them; but I knew better than that.
Ekdal. You weren't to be persuaded, eh?
Gina. Oh, you might have done it.
Hialmar. No; one mustn't be at everybody's beck and call. [Walks about the room.] That's not my way, at any rate.
Ekdal. No, no; Hialmar's not to be had for the asking, he isn't.
Hialmar. I don't see why I should bother myself to entertain people on the rare occasions when I go into society. Let the others exert themselves. These fellows go from one great dinner-table to the next and gorge and guzzle day out and day in. It's for them to bestir themselves and do something in return for all the good feeding they get.
Gina. But you didn't say that?
Hialmar [humming.] Ho-ho-ho —; faith, I gave them a bit of my mind.
Ekdal. Not the Chamberlains?
Hialmar. Oh, why not? [Lightly.] After that, we had a little discussion about Tokay.
Ekdal. Tokay! There's a fine wine for you!
Hialmar [comes to a standstill.] It may be a fine wine. But of course you know the vintages differ; it all depends on how much sunshine the grapes have had.
Gina. Why, you know everything, Ekdal.
Ekdal. And did they dispute that?
Hialmar. They tried to; but they were requested to observe that it was just the same with Chamberlains — that with them, too, different batches were of different qualities.
Gina. What things you do think of!
Ekdal. Hee-hee! So they got that in their pipes too?
Hialmar. Right in their teeth.
Ekdal. Do you hear that, Gina? He said it right in the very teeth of all the Chamberlains.
Gina. Fancy —! Right in their teeth!
Hialmar. Yes, but I don't want it talked about. One doesn't speak of such things. The whole affair passed off quite amicably of course. They were nice, genial fellows; I didn't want to wound them — not I!
Ekdal. Right in their teeth, though —!
Hedvig [caressingly.] How nice it is to see you in a dress-coat! It suits you so well, father.
Hialmar. Yes, don't you think so? And this one really sits to perfection. It fits almost as if it had been made for me; — a little tight in the arm-holes perhaps; — help me, Hedvig [takes off the coat.] I think I'll put on my jacket. Where is my jacket, Gina?
Gina. Here it is. [Brings the jacket and helps him.]
Hialmar. That's it! Don't forget to send the coat back to Molvik first thing to-morrow morning.
Gina [laying it away.] I'll be sure and see to it.
Hialmar [stretching himself.] After all, there's a more homely feeling about this. A free-and-easy indoor costume suits my whole personality better. Don't you think so, Hedvig?
Hedvig. Yes, father.
Hialmar. When I loosen my necktie into a pair of flowing ends — like this?
Hedvig. Yes, that goes so well with your moustache and the sweep of your curls.
Hialmar. I should not call them curls exactly; I should rather say locks.
Hedvig. Yes, they are too big for curls.
Hialmar. Locks describes them better.
Hedvig [after a pause, twitching his jacket.] Father!
Hialmar. Well, what is it?
Hedvig. Oh, you know very well.
Hialmar. No, really I don't —
Hedvig [half laughing, half whispering.] Oh, yes, father; now don't tease me any longer!
Hialmar. Why, what do you mean?
Hedvig [shaking him.] Oh what nonsense; come, where are they, father? All the good things you promised me, you know?
Hialmar. Oh — if I haven't forgotten all about them!
Hedvig. Now you're only teasing me, father! Oh, it's too bad of you! Where have you put them?
Hialmar. No, I positively forgot to get anything. But wait a little! I have something else for you, Hedvig.
[Goes and searches in the pockets of the coat.]
Hedvig [skipping and clapping her hands.] Oh mother, mother!
Gina. There, you see; if you only give him time —
Hialmar [with a paper.] Look, here it is.
Hedvig. That? Why, that's only a paper.
Hialmar. That is the bill of fare, my dear; the whole bill of fare. Here you see: "Menu" — that means bill of fare.
Hedvig. Haven't you anything else?
Hialmar. I forgot the other things, I tell you. But you may take my word for it, these dainties are very unsatisfying. Sit down at the table and read the bill of fare, and then I'll describe to you how the dishes taste. Here you are, Hedvig.
Hedvig [gulping down her tears.] Thank you.
She seats herself, but does not read; GINA makes signs to her; HIALMAR notices it.]
Hialmar [pacing up and down the room.] It's monstrous what absurd things the father of a family is expected to think of; and if he forgets the smallest trifle, he is treated to sour faces at once. Well, well, one gets used to that too. [Stops near the stove, by the old man's chair.] Have you peeped in there this evening, father?
Ekdal. Yes, to be sure I have. She's gone into the basket.
Hialmar. Ah, she has gone into the basket. Then she's beginning to get used to it.
Ekdal. Yes; just as I prophesied. But you know there are still a few little things —
Hialmar. A few improvements, yes.
Ekdal. They've got to be made, you know.
Hialmar. Yes, let us have a talk about the improvements, father. Come, let us sit on the sofa.
Ekdal. All right. H'm — think I'll just fill my pipe first. Must clean it out, too. H'm.
[He goes into his room.]
Gina [smiling to HIALMAR.] His pipe!
Hialmar. Oh yes yes, Gina; let him alone — the poor shipwrecked old man. — Yes, these improvements — we had better get them out of hand to-morrow.
Gina. You'll hardly have time to-morrow, Ekdal.
Hedvig [interposing.] Oh yes he will, mother!
Gina. — for remember them prints that has to be retouched; they've sent for them time after time.
Hialmar. There now! those prints again! I shall get them finished all right! Have any new orders come in?
Gina. No, worse luck; to-morrow I have nothing but those two sittings, you know.
Hialmar. Nothing else? Oh no, if people won't set about things with a will —
Gina. But what more can I do? Don't I advertise in the papers as much as we can afford?
Hialmar. Yes, the papers, the papers; you see how much good they do. And I suppose no one has been to look at the room either?
Gina. No, not yet.
Hialmar. That was only to be expected. If people won't keep their eyes open — . Nothing can be done without a real effort, Gina!
Hedvig [going towards him.] Shall I fetch you the flute, father?
Hialmar. No; no flute for me; I want no pleasures in this world. [Pacing about.] Yes, indeed I will work to-morrow; you shall see if I don't. You may be sure I shall work as long as my strength holds out.
Gina. But my dear good Ekdal, I didn't mean it in that way.
Hedvig. Father, mayn't I bring in a bottle of beer?
Hialmar. No, certainly not. I require nothing, nothing — [Comes to a standstill.] Beer? Was it beer you were talking about?
Hedvig [cheerfully.] Yes, father; beautiful fresh beer.
Hialmar. Well — since you insist upon it, you may bring in a bottle.
Gina. Yes, do; and we'll be nice and cosy.
[HEDVIG runs towards the kitchen door.]
Hialmar [by the stove, stops her, looks at her, puts his arm round her neck and presses her to him.] Hedvig, Hedvig!
Hedvig [with tears of joy.] My dear, kind father!
Hialmar. No, don't call me that. Here have I been feasting at the rich man's table, — battening at the groaning board —! And I couldn't even —!
Gina [sitting at the table.] Oh, nonsense, nonsense, Ekdal.
Hialmar. It's not nonsense! And yet you mustn't be too hard upon me. You know that I love you for all that.
Hedvig [throwing her arms round him.] And we love you, oh, so dearly, father!
Hialmar. And if I am unreasonable once in a while, — why then — you must remember that I am a man beset by a host of cares. There, there! [Dries his eyes.] No beer at such a moment as this. Give me the flute.
[HEDVIG runs to the bookcase and fetches it.]
Hialmar. Thanks! That's right. With my flute in my hand and you two at my side — ah —!
[HEDVIG seats herself at the table near GINA; HIALMAR paces backwards and forwards, pipes up vigorously, and plays a Bohemian peasant-dance, but in a slow plaintive tempo, and with sentimental expression.]
Hialmar [ breaking off the melody, holds out his left hand to GINA, and says with emotion:] Our roof may be poor and humble, Gina; but it is home. And with all my heart I say: here dwells my happiness.
[He begins to play again; almost immediately after, a knocking is heard at the entrance door.]
Gina [rising.] Hush, Ekdal, — I think there's some one at the door.
Hialmar [laying the flute on the bookcase.] There! Again!
[GINA goes and opens the door.]
Gregers Werle [in the passage.] Excuse me —
Gina [starting back slightly.] Oh!
Gregers. — does not Mr. Ekdal, the photographer, live here?
Gina. Yes, he does.
Hialmar [going towards the door.] Gregers! You here after all? Well, come in then.
Gregers [coming in.] I told you I would come and look you up.
Hialmar. But this evening —? Have you left the party?
Gregers. I have left both the party and my father's house. — Good evening, Mrs. Ekdal. I don't know whether you recognise me?
Gina. Oh yes; it's not difficult to know young Mr. Werle again.
Gregers. No, I am like my mother; and no doubt you remember her.
Hialmar. Left your father's house, did you say?
Gregers. Yes, I have gone to a hotel.
Hialmar. Indeed. Well, since you're here, take off your coat and sit down.
[He takes off his overcoat. He is now dressed in a plain grey suit of a countrified cut.]
Hialmar. Here, on the sofa. Make yourself comfortable.
[GREGERS seats himself on the sofa; HIALMAR takes a chair at the table.]
Gregers [looking around him.] So these are your quarters, Hialmar — this is your home.
Hialmar. This is the studio, as you see —
Gina. But it's the largest of our rooms, so we generally sit here.
Hialmar. We used to live in a better place; but this flat has one great advantage: there are such capital outer rooms
Gina. And we have a room on the other side of the passage that we can let.
Gregers [to HIALMAR.] Ah — so you have lodgers too?
Hialmar. No, not yet. They're not so easy to find, you see; you have to keep your eyes open. [To HEDVIG.] What about that beer, eh?
[HEDVIG nods and goes out into the kitchen.]
Gregers. So that is your daughter?
Hialmar. Yes, that is Hedvig.
Gregers. And she is your only child?
Hialmar. Yes, the only one. She is the joy of our lives, and — [lowering his voice] — at the same time our deepest sorrow, Gregers.
Gregers. What do you mean?
Hialmar. She is in serious danger of losing her eyesight.
Gregers. Becoming blind?
Hialmar. Yes. Only the first symptoms have appeared as yet, and she may not feel it much for some time. But the doctor has warned us. It is coming, inexorably.
Gregers. What a terrible misfortune! How do you account for it?
Hialmar [sighs.] Hereditary, no doubt.
Gregers [starting.] Hereditary?
Gina. Ekdal's mother had weak eyes.
Hialmar. Yes, so my father says; I can't remember her.
Gregers. Poor child! And how does she take it?
Hialmar. Oh, you can imagine we haven't the heart to tell her of it. She dreams of no danger. Gay and careless and chirping like a little bird, she flutters onward into a life of endless night. [Overcome.] Oh, it is cruelly hard on me, Gregers.
[HEDVIG brings a tray with beer and glasses, which she sets upon the table.]
Hialmar [stroking her hair.] Thanks, thanks, Hedvig.
[HEDVIG puts her arm round his neck and whispers in his ear.]
HIALMAR. No, no bread and butter just now. [Looks up.] But perhaps you would like some, Gregers.
Gregers [with a gesture of refusal.] No, no thank you.
Hialmar [still melancholy.] Well, you can bring in a little all the same. If you have a crust, that is all I want. And plenty of butter on it, mind.
[HEDVIG nods gaily and goes out into the kitchen again.]
Gregers [who has been following her with his eyes.] She seems quite strong and healthy otherwise.
Gina. Yes. In other ways there's nothing amiss with her, thank goodness.
Gregers. She promises to be very like you, Mrs. Ekdal. How old is she now?
Gina. Hedvig is close on fourteen; her birthday is the day after to-morrow.
Gregers. She is pretty tall for her age, then.
Gina. Yes, she's shot up wonderful this last year.
Gregers. It makes one realise one's own age to see these young people growing up. — How long is it now since you were married?
Gina. We've been married — let me see — just on fifteen years.
Gregers. Is it so long as that?
Gina [becomes attentive; looks at him.] Yes, it is indeed.
Hialmar. Yes, so it is. Fifteen years all but a few months. [Changing his tone.] They must have been long years for you, up at the works, Gregers.
Gregers. They seemed long — while I was living them; now they are over, I hardly know how the time has gone.
[OLD EKDAL comes from his room without his pipe, but with his old-fashioned uniform cap on his head; his gait is somewhat unsteady.]
Ekdal. Come now, Hialmar, let's sit down and have a good talk about this — h'm — what was it again?
Hialmar [going towards him.] Father, we have a visitor here — Gregers Werle. — I don't know if you remember him.
Ekdal [looking at GREGERS, who has risen.] Werle? Is that the son? What does he want with me?
Hialmar. Nothing; it's me he has come to see.
Ekdal. Oh! Then there's nothing wrong?
Hialmar. No, no, of course not.
Ekdal [with a large gesture.] Not that I'm afraid, you know; but —
Gregers [goes over to him.] I bring you a greeting from your old hunting-grounds, Lieutenant Ekdal.
Gregers. Yes, up in Hoidal, about the works, you know.
Ekdal. Oh, up there. Yes, I knew all those places well in the old days.
Gregers. You were a great sportsman then.
Ekdal. So I was, I don't deny it. You're looking at my uniform cap. I don't ask anybody's leave to wear it in the house. So long as I don't go out in the streets with it —
[HEDVIG brings a plate of bread and butter, which she puts upon the table.]
Hialmar. Sit down, father, and have a glass of beer. Help yourself, Gregers.
[EKDAL mutters and stumbles over to the sofa. GREGERS seats himself on the chair nearest to him, HIALMAR on the other side of GREGERS. GINA sits a little way from the table, sewing; HEDVIG stands beside her father.]
Gregers. Can you remember, Lieutenant Ekdal, how Hialmar and I used to come up and visit you in the summer and at Christmas?
Ekdal. Did you? No, no, no; I don't remember it. But sure enough I've been a tidy bit of a sportsman in my day. I've shot bears too. I've shot nine of 'em, no less.
Gregers [looking sympathetically at him.] And now you never get any shooting?
Ekdal. Can't just say that, sir. Get a shot now and then perhaps. Of course not in the old way. For the woods you see — the woods, the woods —! [Drinks.] Are the woods fine up there now?
Gregers. Not so fine as in your time. They have been thinned a good deal.
Ekdal. Thinned? [More softly, and as if afraid.] It's dangerous work that. Bad things come of it. The woods revenge themselves.
Hialmar [filling up his glass.] Come — a little more, father.
Gregers. How can a man like you — such a man for the open air — live in the midst of a stuffy town, boxed within four walls?
Ekdal [laughs quietly and glances at HIALMAR.] Oh, it's not so bad here. Not at all so bad.
Gregers. But don't you miss all the things that used to be a part of your very being — the cool sweeping breezes, the free life in the woods and on the uplands, among beasts and birds —?
Ekdal [smiling.] Hialmar, shall we let him see it?
Hialmar [hastily and a little embarrassed.] Oh, no no, father; not this evening.
Gregers. What does he want to show me?
Hialmar. Oh, it's only something — you can see it another time.
Gregers [continues, to the old man.] You see I have been thinking, Lieutenant Ekdal, that you should come up with me to the works; I am sure to be going back soon. No doubt you could get some copying there too. And here, you have nothing on earth to interest you — nothing to liven you up.
Ekdal [stares in astonishment at him.] Have I nothing on earth to —!
Gregers. Of course you have Hialmar; but then he has his own family. And a man like you, who has always had such a passion for what is free and wild —
Ekdal [thumps the table.] Hialmar, he shall see it!
Hialmar. Oh, do you think it's worth while, father? It's all dark.
Ekdal. Nonsense; it's moonlight. [Rises.] He shall see it, I tell you. Let me pass! Come and help me, Hialmar.
Hedvig. Oh yes, do, father!
Hialmar [rising.] Very well then.
Gregers [to GINA.] What is it?
Gina. Oh, nothing so very wonderful, after all.
[EKDAL and HIALMAR have gone to the back wall and are each pushing back a side of the sliding door; HEDVIG helps the old man; GREGERS remains standing by the sofa; GINA sits still and sews. Through the open doorway a large, deep irregular garret is seen with odd nooks and corners; a couple of stove-pipes running through it, from rooms below. There are skylights through which clear moonbeams shine in on some parts of the great room; others lie in deep shadow.]
Ekdal [to GREGERS.] You may come close up if you like.
Gregers [going over to them.] Why, what is it?
Ekdal. Look for yourself. H'm.
Hialmar [somewhat embarrassed.] This belongs to father, you understand.
Gregers [at the door, looks into the garret.] Why, you keep poultry, Lieutenant Ekdal.
Ekdal. Should think we did keep poultry. They've gone to roost now. But you should just see our fowls by daylight, sir!
Hedvig. And there's a —
Ekdal. Sh — sh! don't say anything about it yet.
Gregers. And you have pigeons too, I see.
Ekdal. Oh yes, haven't we just got pigeons! They have their nest-boxes up there under the roof-tree; for pigeons like to roost high, you see.
Hialmar. They aren't all common pigeons.
Ekdal. Common! Should think not indeed! We have tumblers, and a pair of pouters, too. But come here! Can you see that hutch down there by the wall?
Gregers. Yes; what do you use it for?
Ekdal. That's where the rabbits sleep, sir.
Gregers. Dear me; so you have rabbits too?
Ekdal. Yes, you may take my word for it, we have rabbits! He wants to know if we have rabbits, Hialmar! H'm! But now comes the thing, let me tell you! Here we have it! Move away, Hedvig. Stand here; that's right, — and now look down there. — Don't you see a basket with straw in it?
Gregers. Yes. And I can see a fowl lying in the basket.
Ekdal. H'm — "a fowl"
Gregers. Isn't it a duck?
Ekdal [hurt.] Why, of course it's a duck.
Hialmar. But what kind of duck, do you think?
Hedvig. It's not just a common duck —
Gregers. And it's not a Muscovy duck either.
Ekdal. No, Mr. — Werle; it's not a Muscovy duck; for it's a wild duck!
Gregers. Is it really? A wild duck?
Ekdal. Yes, that's what it is. That "fowl" as you call it — is the wild duck. It's our wild duck, sir.
Hedvig. My wild duck. It belongs to me.
Gregers. And can it live up here in the garret? Does it thrive?
Ekdal. Of course it has a trough of water to splash about in, you know.
Hialmar. Fresh water every other day.
Gina [turning towards HIALMAR.] But my dear Ekdal, it's getting icy cold here.
Ekdal. H'm, we had better shut up then. It's as well not to disturb their night's rest, too. Close up, Hedvig.
[HIALMAR and HEDVIG push the garret doors together.]
Ekdal. Another time you shall see her properly. [Seats himself in the arm-chair by the stove.] Oh, they're curious things, these wild ducks, I can tell you.
Gregers. How did you manage to catch it, Lieutenant Ekdal?
Ekdal. I didn't catch it. There's a certain man in this town whom we have to thank for it.
Gregers [starts slightly.] That man was not my father, was he?
Ekdal. You've hit it. Your father and no one else. H'm.
Hialmar. Strange that you should guess that, Gregers.
Gregers. You were telling me that you owed so many things to my father; and so I thought perhaps —
Gina. But we didn't get the duck from Mr. Werle himself —
Ekdal. It's Hakon Werle we have to thank for her, all the same, Gina. [To GREGERS.] He was shooting from a boat, you see, and he brought her down. But your father's sight is not very good now. H'm; she was only wounded.
Gregers. Ah! She got a couple of slugs in her body, I suppose.
Hialmar. Yes, two or three.
Hedvig. She was hit under the wing, so that she couldn't fly.
Gregers. And I suppose she dived to the bottom, eh?
Ekdal [sleepily, in a thick voice.] Of course. Always do that, wild ducks do. They shoot to the bottom as deep as they can get, sir — and bite themselves fast in the tangle and seaweed — and all the devil's own mess that grows down there. And they never come up again.
Gregers. But your wild duck came up again, Lieutenant Ekdal.
Ekdal. He had such an amazingly clever dog, your father had. And that dog — he dived in after the duck and fetched her up again.
Gregers [who has turned to HIALMAR.] And then she was sent to you here?
Hialmar. Not at once; at first your father took her home. But she wouldn't thrive there; so Pettersen was told to put an end to her —
Ekdal [half asleep.] H'm — yes — Pettersen — that ass —
Hialmar [speaking more softly.] That was how we got her, you see; for father knows Pettersen a little; and when he heard about the wild duck he got him to hand her over to us.
Gregers. And now she thrives as well as possible in the garret there?
Hialmar. Yes, wonderfully well. She has got fat. You see, she has lived in there so long now that she has forgotten her natural wild life; and it all depends on that.
Gregers. You are right there, Hialmar. Be sure you never let her get a glimpse of the sky and the sea — . But I mustn't stay any longer; I think your father is asleep.
Hialmar. Oh, as for that —
Gregers. But, by-the-bye — you said you had a room to let — a spare room?
Hialmar. Yes; what then? Do you know of anybody —?
Gregers. Can I have that room?
Gina. Oh no, Mr. Werle, you —
Gregers. May I have the room? If so, I'll take possession first thing to-morrow morning.
Hialmar. Yes, with the greatest pleasure —
Gina. But, Mr. Werle, I'm sure it's not at all the sort of room for you.
Hialmar. Why, Gina! how can you say that?
Gina. Why, because the room's neither large enough nor light enough, and —
Gregers. That really doesn't matter, Mrs. Ekdal.
Hialmar. I call it quite a nice room, and not at all badly furnished either.
Gina. But remember the pair of them underneath.
Gregers. What pair?
Gina. Well, there's one as has been a tutor —
Hialmar. That's Molvik — Mr. Molvik, B.A.
Gina. And then there's a doctor, by the name of Relling.
Gregers. Relling? I know him a little; he practised for a time up in Hoidal.
Gina. They're a regular rackety pair, they are. As often as not, they're out on the loose in the evenings; and then they come home at all hours, and they're not always just —
Gregers. One soon gets used to that sort of thing. I daresay I shall be like the wild duck —
Gina. H'm; I think you ought to sleep upon it first, anyway.
Gregers. You seem very unwilling to have me in the house, Mrs. Ekdal.
Gina. Oh, no! What makes you think that?
Hialmar. Well, you really behave strangely about it,
Gina. [To GREGERS.] Then I suppose you intend to remain in the town for the present?
Gregers [putting on his overcoat.] Yes, now I intend to remain here.
Hialmar. And yet not at your father's? What do you propose to do, then?
Gregers. Ah, if I only knew that, Hialmar, I shouldn't be so badly off! But when one has the misfortune to be called Gregers —! "Gregers" — and then "Werle" after it; did you ever hear anything so hideous?
Hialmar. Oh, I don't think so at all.
Gregers. Ugh! Bah! I feel I should like to spit upon the fellow that answers to such a name. But when a man is once for all doomed to be Gregers — Werle in this world, as I am —
Hialmar [laughs.] Ha, ha! If you weren't Gregers Werle, what would you like to be?
Gregers. If I should choose, I should like best to be a clever dog.
Gina. A dog!
Hedvig [involuntarily.] Oh, no!
Gregers. Yes, an amazingly clever dog; one that goes to the bottom after wild ducks when they dive and bite themselves fast in tangle and sea-weed, down among the ooze.
Hialmar. Upon my word now, Gregers — I don't in the least know what you're driving at.
Gregers. Oh, well, you might not be much the wiser if you did. It's understood, then, that I move in early to-morrow morning. [To GINA.] I won't give you any trouble; I do everything for myself. [To HIALMAR.] We can talk about the rest to-morrow. — Good-night, Mrs. Ekdal. [Nods to HEDVIG.] Good-night.
Gina. Good-night, Mr. Werle.
Hialmar [who has lighted a candle.] Wait a moment, I must show you a light; the stairs are sure to be dark.
[GREGERS and HIALMAR go out by the passage door.]
Gina [looking straight before her, with her sewing in her lap.] Wasn't that queer-like talk about wanting to be a dog?
Hedvig. Do you know, mother — I believe he meant something quite different by that.
Gina. Why, what should he mean?
Hedvig. Oh, I don't know; but it seemed to me he meant something different from what he said — all the time.
Gina. Do you think so? Yes, it was sort of queer.
Hialmar [comes back.] The lamp was still burning. [Puts out the candle and sets it down.] Ah, now one can get a mouthful of food at last. [Begins to eat the bread and butter.] Well, you see, Gina — if only you keep your eyes open —
Gina. How, keep your eyes open —?
Hialmar. Why, haven't we at last had the luck to get the room let? And just think — to a person like Gregers — a good old friend.
Gina. Well, I don't know what to say about it.
Hedvig. Oh, mother, you'll see; it'll be such fun!
Hialmar. You're very strange. You were so bent upon getting the room let before; and now you don't like it.
Gina. Yes I do, Ekdal; if it had only been to some one else — But what do you suppose Mr. Werle will say?
Hialmar. Old Werle? It doesn't concern him.
Gina. But surely you can see that there's something amiss between them again, or the young man wouldn't be leaving home. You know very well those two can't get on with each other.
Hialmar. Very likely not, but —
Gina. And now Mr. Werle may fancy it's you that has egged him on —
Hialmar. Let him fancy so, then! Mr. Werle has done a great deal for me; far be it from me to deny it. But that doesn't make me everlastingly dependent upon him.
Gina. But, my dear Ekdal, maybe grandfather'll suffer for it. He may lose the little bit of work he gets from Graberg.
Hialmar. I could almost say: so much the better! Is it not humiliating for a man like me to see his grey-haired father treated as a pariah? But now I believe the fulness of time is at hand. [Takes a fresh piece of bread and butter.] As sure as I have a mission in life, I mean to fulfil it now!
Hedvig. Oh, yes, father, do!
Gina. Hush! Don't wake him!
Hialmar [more softly.] I will fulfil it, I say. The day shall come when — And that is why I say it's a good thing we have let the room; for that makes me more independent, The man who has a mission in life must be independent. [By the arm-chair, with emotion.] Poor old white-haired father! Rely on your Hialmar. He has broad shoulders — strong shoulders, at any rate. You shall yet wake up some fine day and — [To GINA.] Do you not believe it?
Gina [rising.] Yes, of course I do; but in the meantime suppose we see about getting him to bed.
Hialmar. Yes, come.
[They take hold of the old man carefully.]
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51