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- The Lady From The Sea - 20/24 -

Ballested. A sad thought, doctor, and that's why we're going to give them an ovation, as the saying is. Ah! Yes--ah! yes. The glad summertime will soon be over now. Soon all ways will be barred, as they say in the tragedy.

Ellida. All ways barred--yes!

Ballested. It's sad to think of. We have been the joyous children of summer for weeks and months now. It's hard to reconcile yourself to the dark days--just at first, I mean. For men can accli--a--acclimatise themselves, Mrs. Wangel. Ay, indeed they can. (Bows, and goes off to the left.)

Ellida (looking out at the fjord). Oh, this terrible suspense! This torturing last half-hour before the decision!

Wangel. You are determined, then, to speak to him yourself?

Ellida. I must speak to him myself; for it is freely that I must make my choice.

Wangel. You have no choice, Ellida. You have no right to choose-- no right without my permission.

Ellida. You can never prevent the choice, neither you nor anyone. You can forbid me to go away with him--to follow him--in case I should choose to do that. You can keep me here by force--against my will. That you can do. But that I should choose, choose from my very soul--choose him, and not you--in case I would and did choose thus--this you cannot prevent.

Wangel. No; you are right. I cannot prevent that.

Ellida. And so I have nothing to help me to resist. Here, at home, there is no single thing that attracts me and binds me. I am so absolutely rootless in your house, Wangel. The children are not mine--their hearts, I mean--never have been. When I go, if I do go, either with him tonight, or to Skjoldviken tomorrow, I haven't a key to give up, an order to give about anything whatsoever. I am absolutely rootless in your house--I have been absolutely outside everything from the very first.

Wangel. You yourself wished it.

Ellida. No, no, I did not. I neither wished nor did not wish it. I simply left things just as I found them the day I came here. It is you, and no one else, who wished it.

Wangel. I thought to do all for the best for you.

Ellida. Yes, Wangel, I know it so well! But there is retribution in that, a something that avenges itself. For now I find no binding power here-nothing to strengthen me--nothing to help me--nothing to draw me towards what should have been the strongest possession of us both.

Wangel. I see it, Ellida. And that is why from t-morrow you shall have back your freedom. Henceforth, you shall live your own life.

Ellida. And you call that my own life! No! My own true life lost its bearings when I agreed to live with you. (Clenches her hand in fear and unrest.) And now--tonight--in half an hour, he whom I forsook is coming--he to whom I should have cleaved forever, even as he has cleaved to me! Now he is coming to offer me--for the last and only time--the chance of living my life over again, of living my own true life--the life that terrifies and attracts- - and I can not forgo that--not freely.

Wangel. That is why it is necessary your husband--and your doctor-- should take the power of acting from you, and act on your behalf.

Ellida. Yes, Wangel, I quite understand. Believe me, there are times when I think it would be peace and deliverance if with all my soul I could be bound to you--and try to brave all that terrifies-- and attracts. But I cannot! No, no, I cannot do that!

Wangel. Come, Ellida, let us walk up and down together for awhile.

Ellida. I would gladly--but I dare not. For he said I was to wait for him here.

Wangel. Come! There is time enough.

Ellida. Do you think so?

Wangel. Plenty of time, I tell you.

Ellida. Then let us go, for a little while.

(They pass out in the foreground. At the same time ARNHOLM and BOLETTE appear by the upper bank of the pond.)

Bolette (noticing the two as they go out). See there--

Arnholm (in low voice). Hush! Let them go. Bolette. Can you understand what has been going on between them these last few days?

Arnholm. Have you noticed anything?

Bolette. Have I not!

Arnholm. Anything peculiar?

Bolette. Yes, one thing and another. Haven't you?

Arnholm. Well--I don't exactly know.

Bolette. Yes, you have; only you won't speak out about it.

Arnholm. I think it will do your stepmother good to go on this little journey.

Bolette. Do you think so?

Arnholm. I should say it would be well for all parties that she should get away every now and then.

Bolette. If she does go home to Skjoldviken tomorrow, she will never come back here again!

Arnholm. My dear Bolette, whatever makes you think that?

Bolette. I am quite convinced of it. Just you wait; you'll see that she'll not come back again; not anyhow as long as I and Hilde are in the house here.

Arnholm. Hilde, too?

Bolette. Well, it might perhaps be all right with Hilde. For she is scarcely more than a child. And I believe that at bottom she worships Ellida. But, you see, it's different with me--a stepmother who isn't so very much older than oneself!

Arnholm. Dear Bolette, perhaps it might, after all, not be so very long before you left.

Bolette (eagerly). Really! Have you spoken to father about it?

Arnholm. Yes, I have.

Bolette. Well, what does he say?

Arnholm. Hm! Well, your father's so thoroughly taken up with other matters just now--

Bolette. Yes, yes! that's how I knew it would be.

Arnholm. But I got this much out of him. You mustn't reckon upon any help from him.

Bolette. No?

Arnholm. He explained his circumstances to me clearly; he thought that such a thing was absolutely out of the question, impossible for him.

Bolette (reproachfully). And you had the heart to come and mock me?

Arnholm. I've certainly not done that, dear Bolette. It depends wholly and solely upon yourself whether you go away or not.

Bolette. What depends upon me?

Arnholm. Whether you are to go out into the world--learn all you most care for--take part in all you are hungering after here at home--live your life under brighter conditions, Bolette.

Bolette (clasping her hands together). Good God! But it's impossible! If father neither can nor will--and I have no one else on earth to whom I could turn--Arnholm. Couldn't you make up your mind to accept a little help from your old--from your former teacher?

Bolette. From you, Mr. Arnholm! Would you be willing to--

Arnholm. Stand by you! Yes--with all my heart. Both with word and in deed. You may count upon it. Then you accept? Well? Do you agree?

Bolette. Do I agree! To get away--to see the world--to learn something thoroughly! All that seemed to be a great, beautiful impossibility!

Arnholm. All that may now become a reality to you, if only you yourself wish it.

Bolette. And to all this unspeakable happiness you will help me! Oh, no! Tell me, can I accept such an offer from a stranger?

Arnholm. You can from me, Bolette. From me you can accept

The Lady From The Sea - 20/24

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