Act 1 ( cont)
Mrs. Linde. Still I think the sick are those who most need taking care of.
Rank (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That is the sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.
(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into smothered laughter and claps her hands.)
Rank. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society really is?
Nora. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at something quite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me, Doctor Rank, are all the people who are employed in the Bank dependent on Torvald now?
Rank. Is that what you find so extremely amusing?
Nora (smiling and humming). That’s my affair! (Walking about the room.) It’s perfectly glorious to think that we have — that Torvald has so much power over so many people. (Takes the packet from her pocket.) Doctor Rank, what do you say to a macaroon?
Rank. What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.
Nora. Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.
Mrs. Linde. What! I? —
Nora. Oh, well, don’t be alarmed! You couldn’t know that Torvald had forbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will spoil my teeth. But, bah! — once in a way — That’s so, isn’t it, Doctor Rank? By your leave! (Puts a macaroon into his mouth.) You must have one too, Christine. And I shall have one, just a little one — or at most two. (Walking about.) I am tremendously happy. There is just one thing in the world now that I should dearly love to do.
Rank. Well, what is that?
Nora. It’s something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald could hear me.
Rank. Well, why can’t you say it?
Nora, No, I daren’t; it’s so shocking.
Mrs. Linde. Shocking?
Rank. Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with us you might. What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could hear you?
Nora. I should just love to say — Well, I’m damned!
Rank. Are you mad?
Mrs. Linde. Nora, dear —!
Rank. Say it, here he is!
Nora (hiding the packet). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER comes out of his room, with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand.)
Nora. Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?
Helmer. Yes, he has just gone.
Nora. Let me introduce you — this is Christine, who has come to town.
Helmer. Christine —? Excuse me, but I don’t know —
Nora. Mrs. Linde, dear; Christine Linde.
Helmer. Of course. A school friend of my wife’s, I presume?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, we have known each other since then.
Nora. And just think, she has taken a long journey in order to see you.
Helmer. What do you mean?
Mrs. Linde. No, really, I—
Nora. Christine is tremendously clever at book-keeping, and she is frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to perfect herself —
Helmer. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.
Nora. And when she heard you had been appointed manager of the Bank — the news was telegraphed, you know — she traveled here as quick as she could, Torvald, I am sure you will be able to do something for Christine, for my sake, won’t you?
Helmer. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume you are a widow, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Helmer. And have had some experience of bookkeeping?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, a fair amount.
Helmer. Ah! well it’s very likely I may be able to find something for you —
Nora (clapping her hands). What did I tell you? What did I tell you?
Helmer. You have just come at a fortunate moment, Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde. How am I to thank you?
Helmer. There is no need. (Puts on his coat.) But today you must excuse me —
Rank. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (Brings his fur coat from the hall and warms it at the fire.)
Nora. Don’t be long away, Torvald dear.
Helmer. About an hour, not more.
Nora. Are you going too, Christine?
Mrs. Linde (putting on her cloak). Yes, I must go and look for a room.
Helmer. Oh, well then, we can walk down the street together.
Nora (helping her). What a pity it is we are so short of space here; I am afraid it is impossible for us —
Mrs. Linde. Please don’t think of it! Good-bye, Nora dear, and many thanks.
Nora. Good-bye for the present. Of course you will come back this evening. And you too, Dr. Rank. What do you say? If you are well enough? Oh, you must be! Wrap yourself up well. (They go to the door all talking together. Children’s voices are heard on the staircase.)
Nora. There they are. There they are! (She runs to open the door. The NURSE comes in with the children.) Come in! Come in! (Stoops and kisses them.) Oh, you sweet blessings! Look at them, Christine! Aren’t they darlings?
Rank. Don’t let us stand here in the draught.
Helmer. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be bearable for a mother now!
(RANK, HELMER, and MRS. LINDE go downstairs. The NURSE comes forward with the children; NORA shuts the hall door.)
Nora. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks! — like apples and roses. (The children all talk at once while she speaks to them.) Have you had great fun? That’s splendid! What, you pulled both Emmy and Bob along on the sledge? — both at once? — that was good. You are a clever boy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little, Anne. My sweet little baby doll! (Takes the baby from the MAID and dances it up and down.) Yes, yes, mother will dance with Bob too. What! Have you been snow-balling? I wish I had been there too! No, no, I will take their things off, Anne; please let me do it, it is such fun. Go in now, you look half frozen. There is some hot coffee for you on the stove.
(The NURSE goes into the room on the left. Nora takes off the children’s things and throws them about, while they all talk to her at once.)
Nora. Really! Did a big dog run after you? But it didn’t bite you? No, dogs don’t bite nice little dolly children. You mustn’t look at the parcels, Ivar. What are they? Ah, I daresay you would like to know. No, no — it’s something nasty! Come, let us have a game. What shall we play at? Hide and Seek? Yes, we’ll play Hide and Seek. Bob shall hide first. Must I hide? Very well, I’ll hide first. (She and the children laugh and shout, and romp in and out of the room; at last Nora hides under the table the children rush in and look for her, but do not see her; they hear her smothered laughter run to the table, lift up the cloth and find her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends to frighten them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there has been a knock at the hall door, but none of them has noticed it. The door is half opened, and KROGSTAD appears. He waits a little; the game goes on.)
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora (with a stifled cry, turns round and gets up on to her knees). Ah! what do you want?
Krogstad. Excuse me, the outer door was ajar; I suppose someone forgot to shut it.
Nora (rising). My husband is out, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. I know that.
Nora. What do you want here, then?
Krogstad. A word with you.
Nora. With me? —(To the children, gently.) Go in to nurse. What? No, the strange man won’t do mother any harm. When he has gone we will have another game. (She takes the children into the room on the left, and shuts the door after them.) You want to speak to me?
Krogstad. Yes, I do.
Nora. Today? It is not the first of the month yet.
Krogstad. No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on yourself what sort of a Christmas you will spend.
Nora. What do you want? Today it is absolutely impossible for me —
Krogstad. We won’t talk about that till later on. This is something different. I presume you can give me a moment?
Nora. Yes — yes, I can — although —
Krogstad. Good. I was in Olsen’s Restaurant and saw your husband going down the street —
Krogstad. With a lady.
Nora. What then?
Krogstad. May I make so bold as to ask if it was a Mrs. Linde?
Nora. It was.
Krogstad. Just arrived in town?
Nora. Yes, today.
Krogstad. She is a great friend of yours, isn’t she?
Nora: She is. But I don’t see —
Krogstad. I knew her too, once upon a time.
Nora. I am aware of that.
Krogstad. Are you? So you know all about it; I thought as much. Then I can ask you, without beating about the bush — is Mrs. Linde to have an appointment in the Bank?
Nora. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad? — You, one of my husband’s subordinates! But since you ask, you shall know. Yes, Mrs. Linde is to have an appointment. And it was I who pleaded her cause, Mr. Krogstad, let me tell you that.
Krogstad. I was right in what I thought, then.
Nora (walking up and down the stage). Sometimes one has a tiny little bit of influence, I should hope. Because one is a woman, it does not necessarily follow that —. When anyone is in a subordinate position, Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful to avoid offending anyone who — who —
Krogstad. Who has influence?
Krogstad (changing his tone). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so good as to use your influence on my behalf.
Nora. What? What do you mean?
Krogstad. You will be so kind as to see that I am allowed to keep my subordinate position in the Bank.
Nora. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take your post away from you?
Krogstad. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence of ignorance. I can quite understand that your friend is not very anxious to expose herself to the chance of rubbing shoulders with me; and I quite understand, too, whom I have to thank for being turned off.
Nora. But I assure you —
Krogstad. Very likely; but, to come to the point, the time has come when I should advise you to use your influence to prevent that.
Nora. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have no influence.
Krogstad. Haven’t you? I thought you said yourself just now —
Nora. Naturally I did not mean you to put that construction on it. I! What should make you think I have any influence of that kind with my husband?
Krogstad. Oh, I have known your husband from our student days. I don’t suppose he is any more unassailable than other husbands.
Nora. If you speak slightly of my husband, I shall turn you out of the house.
Krogstad. You are bold, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora. I am not afraid of you any longer, As soon as the New Year comes, I shall in a very short time be free of the whole thing.
Krogstad (controlling himself). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. If necessary, I am prepared to fight for my small post in the Bank as if I were fighting for my life.
Nora. So it seems.
Krogstad. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed, that weighs least with me in the matter. There is another reason — well, I may as well tell you. My position is this. I daresay you know, like everybody else, that once, many years ago, I was guilty of an indiscretion.
Nora. I think I have heard something of the kind.
Krogstad. The matter never came into court; but every way seemed to be closed to me after that. So I took to the business that you know of. I had to do something; and, honestly, don’t think I’ve been one of the worst. But now I must cut myself free from all that. My sons are growing up; for their sake I must try and win back as much respect as I can in the town. This post in the Bank was like the first step up for me — and now your husband is going to kick me downstairs again into the mud.
Nora. But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in my power to help you at all.
Krogstad. Then it is because you haven’t the will; but I have means to compel you.
Nora. You don’t mean that you will tell my husband that I owe you money?
Krogstad. Hm! — suppose I were to tell him?
Nora. It would be perfectly infamous of you. (Sobbing.) To think of his learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in such an ugly, clumsy way — that he should learn it from you! And it would put me in a horribly disagreeable position —
Krogstad. Only disagreeable?
Nora (impetuously). Well, do it, then! — and it will be the worse for you. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you are, and you certainly won’t keep your post then.
Krogstad. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home that you were afraid of?
Nora. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at once pay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more to do with you.
Krogstad (coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. Either you have a very bad memory or you know very little of business. I shall be obliged to remind you of a few details.
Nora. What do you mean?
Krogstad. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow two hundred and fifty pounds.
Nora. I didn’t know any one else to go to.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount —
Nora. Yes, and you did so.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount, on certain conditions. Your mind was so taken up with your husband’s illness, and you were so anxious to get the money for your journey, that you seem to have paid no attention to the conditions of our bargain. Therefore it will not be amiss if I remind you of them. Now, I promised to get the money on the security of a bond which I drew up.
Nora. Yes, and which I signed.
Krogstad. Good. But below your signature there were a few lines constituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your father should have signed.
Nora. Should? He did sign them.
Krogstad. I had left the date blank; that is to say your father should himself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper. Do you remember that?
Nora. Yes, I think I remember —
Krogstad. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your father. Is that not so?
Krogstad. And you naturally did so at once, because five or six days afterwards you brought me the bond with your father’s signature. And then I gave you the money.
Nora. Well, haven’t I been paying it off regularly?
Krogstad. Fairly so, yes. But — to come back to the matter in hand — that must have been a very trying time for you, Mrs. Helmer?
Nora. It was, indeed.
Krogstad. Your father was very ill, wasn’t he?
Nora. He was very near his end.
Krogstad. And died soon afterwards?
Krogstad. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance remember what day your father died? — on what day of the month, I mean.
Nora. Papa died on the 29th of September.
Krogstad. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And, as that is so, there is a discrepancy (taking a paper from his pocket) which I cannot account for.
Nora. What discrepancy? I don’t know —
Krogstad. The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the fact that your father signed this bond three days after his death.
Nora. What do you mean? I don’t understand —
Krogstad. Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look here; your father dated his signature the 2nd of October. It is a discrepancy, isn’t it? (NORA is silent.) Can you explain it to me? (NORA is still silent.) It is a remarkable thing, too, that the words “2nd of October,” as well as the year, are not written in your father’s handwriting but in one that I think I know. Well, of course it can be explained; your father may have forgotten to date his signature, and someone else may have dated it haphazard before they knew of his death. There is no harm in that. It all depends on the signature of the name; and that is genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father himself who signed his name here?
Nora (after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly at him). No, it was not. It was I that wrote papa’s name.
Krogstad. Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?
Nora. In what way? You shall have your money soon.
Krogstad. Let me ask you a question; why did you not send the paper to your father?
Nora. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for his signature, I should have had to tell him what the money was to be used for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn’t tell him that my husband’s life was in danger — it was impossible.