(THE SAME SCENE— The table has been placed in the middle of the stage, with chairs around it. A lamp is burning on the table. The door into the hall stands open. Dance music is heard in the room above. MRS. LINDE is sitting at the table idly turning over the leaves of a book; she tries to read, but does not seem able to collect her thoughts. Every now and then she listens intently for a sound at the outer door.)
Mrs. Linde (looking at her watch). Not yet — and the time is nearly up. If only he does not —. (Listens again.) Ah, there he is. (Goes into the hall and opens the outer door carefully. Light footsteps are heard on the stairs. She whispers.) Come in. There is no one here.
Krogstad (in the doorway). I found a note from you at home. What does this mean?
Mrs. Linde. It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk with you.
Krogstad. Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should be here?
Mrs. Linde. It is impossible where I live; there is no private entrance to my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone. The maid is asleep, and the Helmers are at the dance upstairs.
Krogstad (coming into the room). Are the Helmers really at a dance tonight?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, why not?
Krogstad. Certainly — why not?
Mrs. Linde. Now, Nils, let us have a talk.
Krogstad. Can we two have anything to talk about?
Mrs. Linde. We have a great deal to talk about.
Krogstad. I shouldn’t have thought so.
Mrs. Linde. No, you have never properly understood me.
Krogstad. Was there anything else to understand except what was obvious to all the world — a heartless woman jilts a man when a more lucrative chance turns up.
Mrs. Linde. Do you believe I am as absolutely heartless as all that? And do you believe that I did it with a light heart?
Krogstad. Didn’t you?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, did you really think that?
Krogstad. If it were as you say, why did you write to me as you did at the time?
Mrs. Linde. I could do nothing else. As I had to break with you, it was my duty also to put an end to all that you felt for me.
Krogstad (wringing his hands). So that was it. And all this — only for the sake of money.
Mrs. Linde. You must not forget that I had a helpless mother and two little brothers. We couldn’t wait for you, Nils; your prospects seemed hopeless then.
Krogstad. That may be so, but you had no right to throw me over for any one else’s sake.
Mrs. Linde. Indeed I don’t know. Many a time did I ask myself if I had a right to do it.
Krogstad (more gently). When I lost you, it was as if all the solid ground went from under my feet. Look at me now — I am a shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreckage.
Mrs. Linde. But help may be near.
Krogstad. It was near; but then you came and stood in my way.
Mrs. Linde. Unintentionally, Nils. It was only today that I learnt it was your place I was going to take in the bank.
Krogstad. I believe you, if you say so. But now that you know it, are you not going to give it up to me?
Mrs. Linde. No, because that would not benefit you in the least.
Krogstad. Oh, benefit, benefit — I would have done it whether or no.
Mrs. Linde. I have learnt to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that.
Krogstad. And life has taught me not to believe in fine speeches.
Mrs. Linde. Then life has taught you something very reasonable. But deeds you must believe in?
Krogstad. What do you mean by that?
Mrs. Linde. You said you were like a shipwrecked man clinging to some wreckage.
Krogstad. I had good reason to say so.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to some wreckage — no one to mourn for, no one to care for.
Krogstad. It was your own choice.
Mrs. Linde. There was no other choice, then.
Krogstad. Well, what now?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, how would it be if we two shipwrecked people could join forces?
Krogstad. What are you saying?
Mrs. Linde. Two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a better chance than each on their own.
Mrs. Linde. What do you suppose brought me to town?
Krogstad. Do you mean that you gave me a thought?
Mrs. Linde. I could not endure life without work. All my life, as long as I can remember, I have worked, and it has been my greatest and only pleasure. But now I am quite alone in the world — my life is so dreadfully empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the least pleasure in working for one’s self. Nils, give me someone and something to work for.
Krogstad. I don’t trust that. It is nothing but a woman’s overstrained sense of generosity that prompts you to make such an offer of your self.
Mrs. Linde. Have you ever noticed anything of the sort in me?
Krogstad. Could you really do it? Tell me — do you know all about my past life?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Krogstad. And do you know what they think of me here?
Mrs. Linde. You seemed to me to imply that with me you might have been quite another man.
Krogstad. I am certain of it.
Mrs. Linde. Is it too late now?
Krogstad. Christine, are you saying this deliberately? Yes, I am sure you are. I see it in your face. Have you really the courage, then —?
Mrs. Linde. I want to be a mother to someone, and your children need a mother. We two need each other. Nils, I have faith in your real character — I can dare anything together with you.
Krogstad (grasps her hands). Thanks, thanks, Christine! Now I shall find a way to clear myself in the eyes of the world. Ah, but I forgot —
Mrs. Linde (listening). Hush! The Tarantella! Go, go!
Krogstad. Why? What is it?
Mrs. Linde. Do you hear them up there? When that is over, we may expect them back.
Krogstad. Yes, yes — I will go. But it is all no use. Of course you are not aware what steps I have taken in the matter of the Helmers.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I know all about that.
Krogstad. And in spite of that have you the courage to —?
Mrs. Linde. I understand very well to what lengths a man like you might be driven by despair.
Krogstad. If I could only undo what I have done!
Mrs. Linde. You cannot. Your letter is lying in the letter-box now.
Krogstad. Are you sure of that?
Mrs. Linde. Quite sure, but —
Krogstad (with a searching look at her). Is that what it all means? — that you want to save your friend at any cost? Tell me frankly. Is that it?
Mrs. Linde. Nils, a woman who has once sold herself for another’s sake, doesn’t do it a second time.
Krogstad. I will ask for my letter back.
Mrs. Linde. No, no.
Krogstad. Yes, of course I will. I will wait here till Helmer comes; I will tell him he must give me my letter back — that it only concerns my dismissal — that he is not to read it —
Mrs. Linde. No, Nils, you must not recall your letter.
Krogstad. But, tell me, wasn’t it for that very purpose that you asked me to meet you here?
Mrs. Linde. In my first moment of fright, it was. But twenty-four hours have elapsed since then, and in that time I have witnessed incredible things in this house. Helmer must know all about it. This unhappy secret must be enclosed; they must have a complete understanding between them, which is impossible with all this concealment and falsehood going on.
Krogstad. Very well, if you will take the responsibility. But there is one thing I can do in any case, and I shall do it at once.
Mrs. Linde (listening). You must be quick and go! The dance is over; we are not safe a moment longer.
Krogstad. I will wait for you below.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, do. You must see me back to my door.
Krogstad. I have never had such an amazing piece of good fortune in my life! (Goes out through the outer door. The door between the room and the hall remains open.)
Mrs. Linde (tidying up the room and laying her hat and cloak ready). What a difference! What a difference! Someone to work for and live for — a home to bring comfort into. That I will do, indeed. I wish they would be quick and come. (Listens.) Ah, there they are now. I must put on my things. (Takes up her hat and cloak. HELMER’S and NORA’S voices are heard outside; a key is turned, and HELMER brings NORA almost by force into the hall. She is in an Italian costume with a large black shawl round her; he is in evening dress, and a black domino which is flying open.)
Nora (hanging back in the doorway, and struggling with him). No, no, no! — don’t take me in. I want to go upstairs again; I don’t want to leave so early.
Helmer. But, my dearest Nora —
Nora. Please, Torvald dear — please, please — only an hour more.
Helmer. Not a single minute, my sweet Nora. You know that was our agreement. Come along into the room; you are catching cold standing there. (He brings her gently into the room, in spite of her resistance.)
Mrs. Linde. Good evening.
Helmer. You here, so late, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, you must excuse me; I was so anxious to see Nora in her dress.
Nora. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, unfortunately I came too late, you had already gone upstairs; and I thought I couldn’t go away again without having seen you.
Helmer (taking off NORA’S shawl). Yes, take a good look at her. I think she is worth looking at. Isn’t she charming, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, indeed she is.
Helmer. Doesn’t she look remarkably pretty? Everyone thought so at the dance. But she is terribly self-willed, this sweet little person. What are we to do with her? You will hardly believe that I had almost to bring her away by force.
Nora. Torvald, you will repent not having let me stay, even if it were only for half an hour.
Helmer. Listen to her, Mrs. Linde! She had danced her Tarantella, and it had been a tremendous success, as it deserved — although possibly the performance was a trifle too realistic — little more so, I mean, than was strictly compatible with the limitations of art. But never mind about that! The chief thing is, she had made a success — she had made a tremendous success. Do you think I was going to let her remain there after that, and spoil the effect? No, indeed! I took my charming little Capri maiden — my capricious little Capri maiden, I should say — on my arm; took one quick turn round the room; a curtsey on either side, and, as they say in novels, the beautiful apparition disappeared. An exit ought always to be effective, Mrs. Linde; but that is what I cannot make Nora understand. Pooh! this room is hot. (Throws his domino on a chair, and opens the door of his room.) Hullo! it’s all dark in here. Oh, of course — excuse me —. (He goes in, and lights some candles.)
Nora (in a hurried and breathless whisper). Well?
Mrs. Linde. (in a low voice). I have had a talk with him.
Nora. Yes, and —
Mrs. Linde. Nora, you must tell your husband all about it.
Nora (in an expressionless voice). I knew it.
Mrs. Linde. You have nothing to be afraid of as far as Krogstad is concerned; but you must tell him.
Nora. I won’t tell him.
Mrs. Linde. Then the letter will.
Nora. Thank you, Christine. Now I know what I must do. Hush —!
Helmer (coming in again). Well, Mrs. Linde, have you admired her?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and now I will say good-night.
Helmer. What, already? Is this yours, this knitting?
Mrs. Linde (taking it). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten it.
Helmer. So you knit?
Mrs. Linde. Of course.
Helmer. Do you know, you ought to embroider?
Mrs. Linde. Really? Why?
Helmer. Yes, it’s far more becoming. Let me show you. You hold the embroidery thus in your left hand, and use the needle with the right — like this — with a long, easy sweep. Do you see?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, perhaps —
Helmer. But in the case of knitting — that can never be anything but ungraceful; look here — the arms close together, the knitting-needles going up and down — it has a sort of Chinese effect —. That was really excellent champagne they gave us.
Mrs. Linde. Well — good-night, Nora, and don’t be self-willed any more.
Helmer. That’s right, Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde. Good-night, Mr. Helmer.
Helmer (accompanying her to the door). Good-night, good-night. I hope you will get home all right. I should be very happy to — but you haven’t any great distance to go. Good-night, good-night. (She goes out; he shuts the door after her and comes in again.) Ah! — at last we have got rid of her. She is a frightful bore, that woman.
Nora. Aren’t you very tired, Torvald?
Helmer. No, not in the least.
Nora. Nor sleepy?
Helmer. Not a bit. On the contrary, I feel extraordinarily lively. And you? — you really look both tired and sleepy.
Nora. Yes, I am very tired. I want to go to sleep at once.
Helmer. There, you see it was quite right of me not to let you stay there any longer.
Nora. Everything you do is quite right, Torvald.
Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Now my little skylark is speaking reasonably. Did you notice what good spirits Rank was in this evening?
Nora. Really? Was he? I didn’t speak to him at all.
Helmer. And I very little, but I have not for a long time seen him in such good form. (Looks for a while at her and then goes nearer to her.) It is delightful to be at home by ourselves again, to be all alone with you — you fascinating, charming little darling!
Nora. Don’t look at me like that, Torvald.
Helmer. Why shouldn’t I look at my dearest treasure? — at all the beauty that is mine, all my very own?
Nora (going to the other side of the table). You mustn’t say things like that to me tonight.
Helmer (following her). You have still got the Tarantella in your blood, I see. And it makes you more captivating than ever. Listen — the guests are beginning to go now. (In a lower voice.) Nora — soon the whole house will be quiet.
Nora. Yes, I hope so.
Helmer. Yes, my own darling Nora. Do you know, when I am out at a party with you like this, why I speak so little to you, keep away from you, and only send a stolen glance in your direction now and then? — do you know why I do that? It is because I make believe to myself that we are secretly in love, and you are my secretly promised bride, and that no one suspects there is anything between us.
Nora. Yes, yes — I know very well your thoughts are with me all the time.
Helmer. And when we are leaving, and I am putting the shawl over your beautiful young shoulders — on your lovely neck — then I imagine that you are my young bride and that we have just come from the wedding, and I am bringing you for the first time into our home — to be alone with you for the first time — quite alone with my shy little darling! All this evening I have longed for nothing but you. When I watched the seductive figures of the Tarantella, my blood was on fire; I could endure it no longer, and that was why I brought you down so early —
Nora. Go away, Torvald! You must let me go. I won’t —
Helmer. What’s that? You’re joking, my little Nora! You won’t — you won’t? Am I not your husband —? (A knock is heard at the outer door.)
Nora (starting). Did you hear —?
Helmer (going into the hall). Who is it?
Rank (outside). It is I. May I come in for a moment?
Helmer (in a fretful whisper). Oh, what does he want now? (Aloud.) Wait a minute? (Unlocks the door.) Come, that’s kind of you not to pass by our door.
Rank. I thought I heard your voice, and felt as if I should like to look in. (With a swift glance round.) Ah, yes! — these dear familiar rooms. You are very happy and cosy in here, you two.
Helmer. It seems to me that you looked after yourself pretty well upstairs too.
Rank. Excellently. Why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t one enjoy everything in this world? — at any rate as much as one can, and as long as one can. The wine was capital —
Helmer. Especially the champagne.
Rank. So you noticed that too? It is almost incredible how much I managed to put away!
Nora. Torvald drank a great deal of champagne tonight, too.
Rank. Did he?
Nora. Yes, and he is always in such good spirits afterwards.
Rank. Well, why should one not enjoy a merry evening after a well-spent day?
Helmer. Well spent? I am afraid I can’t take credit for that.
Rank (clapping him on the back). But I can, you know!
Nora. Doctor Rank, you must have been occupied with some scientific investigation today.
Helmer. Just listen! — little Nora talking about scientific investigations!
Nora. And may I congratulate you on the result?
Rank. Indeed you may.
Nora. Was it favourable, then.