(THE SAME SCENE— The Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its dishevelled branches. NORA’S cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops the cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door and listens.) No — it is no one. Of course, no one will come today, Christmas Day — nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps —(opens the door and looks out.) No, nothing in the letter-box; it is quite empty. (Comes forward.) What rubbish! of course he can’t be in earnest about it. Such a thing couldn’t happen; it is impossible — I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a big cardboard box.)
Nurse. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora. Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse (doing so). But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.
Nurse. What an idea! It can easily be put in order — just a little patience.
Nora. Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with it.
Nurse. What, out again? In this horrible weather? You will catch cold, ma’am, and make yourself ill.
Nora. Well, worse than that might happen. How are the children?
Nurse. The poor little souls are playing with their Christmas presents, but —
Nora. Do they ask much for me?
Nurse. You see, they are so accustomed to have their mamma with them.
Nora. Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much with them now as I was before.
Nurse. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora. Do you think so? Do you think they would forget their mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens! — went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often wondered about — how could you have the heart to put your own child out among strangers?
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora’s nurse.
Nora. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse. What, when I was going to get such a good place by it? A poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides, that wicked man didn’t do a single thing for me.
Nora. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
Nurse. No, indeed she hasn’t. She wrote to me when she was confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora (putting her arms round her neck). Dear old Anne, you were a good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse. Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but me.
Nora. And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you would — What nonsense I am talking! (Opens the box.) Go in to them. Now I must —. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.
Nurse. I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming as you, ma’am. (Goes into the room on the left.)
Nora (begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away from her). If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only I could be sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff and nonsense! No one will come. Only I mustn’t think about it. I will brush my muff. What lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts, out of my thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six —(Screams.) Ah! there is someone coming —. (Makes a movement towards the door, but stands irresolute.)
(Enter MRS. LINDE from the hall, where she has taken off her cloak and hat.)
Nora. Oh, it’s you, Christine. There is no one else out there, is there? How good of you to come!
Mrs. Linde. I heard you were up asking for me.
Nora. Yes, I was passing by. As a matter of fact, it is something you could help me with. Let us sit down here on the sofa. Look here. Tomorrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the Stenborgs’, who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learnt at Capri.
Mrs. Linde. I see; you are going to keep up the character.
Nora. Yes, Torvald wants me to. Look, here is the dress; Torvald had it made for me there, but now it is all so torn, and I haven’t any idea —
Mrs. Linde. We will easily put that right. It is only some of the trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then, that’s all we want.
Nora. It is nice of you.
Mrs. Linde (sewing). So you are going to be dressed up tomorrow, Nora. I will tell you what — I shall come in for a moment and see you in your fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to thank you for a delightful evening yesterday.
Nora (gets up, and crosses the stage). Well I don’t think yesterday was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to town a little earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald does understand how to make a house dainty and attractive.
Mrs. Linde. And so do you, it seems to me; you are not your father’s daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always as depressed as he was yesterday?
Nora. No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell you that he suffers from a very dangerous disease. He has consumption of the spine, poor creature. His father was a horrible man who committed all sorts of excesses; and that is why his son was sickly from childhood, do you understand?
Mrs. Linde (dropping her sewing). But, my dearest Nora, how do you know anything about such things?
Nora (walking about). Pooh! When you have three children, you get visits now and then from — from married women, who know something of medical matters, and they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde (goes on sewing. A short silence). Does Doctor Rank come here every day?
Nora. Every day regularly. He is Torvald’s most intimate friend, and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.
Mrs. Linde. But tell me this — is he perfectly sincere? I mean, isn’t he the kind of a man that is very anxious to make himself agreeable?
Nora. Not in the least. What makes you think that?
Mrs. Linde. When you introduced him to me yesterday, he declared he had often heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I noticed that your husband hadn’t the slightest idea who I was. So how could Doctor Rank —?
Nora. That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first he used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk at home, so naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about such things with Doctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a child in many ways, and I am older than you in many ways and have a little more experience. Let me tell you this — you ought to make an end of it with Doctor Rank.
Nora. What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde. Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked some nonsense about a rich admirer who was to leave you money —
Nora. An admirer who doesn’t exist, unfortunately! But what then?
Mrs. Linde. Is Doctor Rank a man of means?
Nora. Yes, he is.
Mrs. Linde. And has no one to provide for?
Nora. No, no one; but —
Mrs. Linde. And comes here every day?
Nora. Yes, I told you so.
Mrs. Linde. But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?
Nora. I don’t understand you at all.
Mrs. Linde. Don’t prevaricate, Nora. Do you suppose I don’t guess who lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds.
Nora. Are you out of your senses? How can you think of such a thing! A friend of ours, who comes here every day! Do you realise what a horribly painful position that would be?
Mrs. Linde. Then it really isn’t he?
Nora. No, certainly not. It would never have entered into my head for a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into his money afterwards.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear Nora.
Nora. No, it would never have come into my head to ask Doctor Rank. Although I am quite sure that if I had asked him —
Mrs. Linde. But of course you won’t.
Nora. Of course not. I have no reason to think it could possibly be necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told Doctor Rank —
Mrs. Linde. Behind your husband’s back?
Nora. I must make an end of it with the other one, and that will be behind his back too. I must make an end of it with him.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but —
Nora (walking up and down). A man can put a thing like that straight much easier than a woman —
Mrs. Linde. One’s husband, yes.
Nora. Nonsense! (Standing still.) When you pay off a debt you get your bond back, don’t you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it up — the nasty, dirty paper!
Mrs. Linde (looks hard at her, lays down her sewing and gets up slowly). Nora, you are concealing something from me.
Nora. Do I look as if I were?
Mrs. Linde. Something has happened to you since yesterday morning. Nora, what is it?
Nora (going nearer to her). Christine! (Listens.) Hush! there’s Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the present? Torvald can’t bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne help you.
Mrs. Linde (gathering some of the things together). Certainly — but I am not going away from here till we have had it out with one another. (She goes into the room, on the left, as Helmer comes in from, the hall.)
Nora (going up to HELMAR). I have wanted you so much, Torvald dear.
Helmer. Was that the dressmaker?
Nora. No, it was Christine; she is helping me to put my dress in order. You will see I shall look quite smart.
Helmer. Wasn’t that a happy thought of mine, now?
Nora. Splendid! But don’t you think it is nice of me, too, to do as you wish?
Helmer. Nice? — because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well, you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But I am not going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your dress, I expect.
Nora. I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer. Yes. (Shows her a bundle of papers.) Look at that. I have just been into the bank. (Turns to go into his room.)
Nora. If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, very prettily —?
Helmer. What then?
Nora. Would you do it?
Helmer. I should like to hear what it is, first.