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- The Lady From The Sea - 3/24 -


Bolette (looks in that direction). He? (Laughs.) That is good! Do you think that middle-aged fellow is Arnholm?

Wangel. Wait a moment, child. Why, by Jove, I do believe it is he. Yes, it certainly is.

Bolette (staring at him in quiet amazement). Yes; I almost think--

(ARNHOLM, in elegant morning dress, with gold spectacles, and a thin cane, comes along the road. He looks overworked. He looks in at the garden, bows in friendly fashion, and enters by the garden gate.)

Wangel (going to meet him). Welcome, dear Arnholm! Heartily welcome back to your old quarters again!

Arnholm. Thanks, thanks, Doctor Wangel. A thousand thanks. (They shake hands and walk up the garden together.) And there are the children! (Holds out his hands and looks at them.) I should hardly have known these two again.

Wangel. No, I believe you.

Arnholm. And yet--perhaps Bolette--yes, I should have known Bolette again.

Wangel. Hardly, I think. Why, it is eight--nine years since you saw her. Ah, yes! Many a thing has changed here meanwhile.

Arnholm (looking round). I really don't see it; except that the trees have grown remarkably, and that you've set up that arbour.

Wangel. Oh! no--outwardly.

Arnholm (smiling). And then, of course, you've two grown-up daughters here now.

Wangel. Grown up! Well, there's only one grown up.

Hilde (aside). Just listen to father!

Wangel. But now let's sit down up there on the verandah. It's cooler than here. Won't you?

Arnholm. Thanks, thanks, dear doctor.

(They go up. WANGEL motions him to the rocking-chair.)

Wangel. That's right! Now make yourself comfortable, and rest, for you seem rather tired after your journey.

Arnholm. Oh, that's nothing. Here, amid these surroundings-

Bolette (to WANGEL). Hadn't we better have some soda and syrup in the sitting-room? It's sure to be too hot out here soon.

Wangel. Yes, girls. Let's have some soda and syrup, and perhaps a drop of Cognac, too.

Bolette. Cognac, too!

Wangel. Just a little, in case anyone should like some.

Bolette. All right. Hilde, go down to the office with the bag.

(BOLETTE goes into the room, and closes the door after her.

HILDE takes the bag, and goes through the garden to the back of the house.)

Arnholm (who has followed BOLETTE with his eyes). What a splendid--. They are both splendid girls, who've grown up here for you.

Wangel (sitting down). Yes; you think so, too?

Arnholm. Why, it's simply amazing, how Bolette!--and Hilde, too! But now, you yourself, dear doctor. Do you think of staying here all your life?

Wangel. Yes; I suppose so. Why, I've been born and bred here, so to say. I lived here so very happily with--her who left us so early--she whom you knew when you were here before, Arnholm.

Arnholm. Yes, yes!

Wangel. And now I live here so happily with her who has taken her place. Ah! On the whole, fate has been very good to me.

Arnholm. You have no children by your second marriage? Wangel. We had a little boy, two--two and a half years ago. But he didn't stay long. He died when he was four--five months old.

Arnholm. Isn't your wife at home today?

Wangel. Oh, yes. She's sure to be here soon. She's down there bathing. She does so every blessed day no matter what the weather.

Arnholm. Is she ill, then?

Wangel. Not exactly ill, although she has been extremely nervous for the last few years--that is to say, she is now and then. I can't make out what really ails her. But to plunge into the sea is her joy and delight.

Arnholm. Yes; I remember that of old.

Wangel (with an almost imperceptible smile). To be sure! You knew Ellida when you were teacher out there at Skjoldviken.

Arnholm. Certainly. She used often to visit at the Parsonage. But I mostly met her when I went to the lighthouse to see her father.

Wangel. Those times out there, you may believe me, have set deep marks upon her. The people in the town here can't understand her at all. They call her the "Lady from the Sea."

Arnholm. Do they?

Wangel. Yes. And so--now, you see, speak to her of the old days, dear Arnholm, it will do her good.

Arnholm (looks at him in doubt). Have you any reason for thinking so?

Wangel. Assuredly I have.

Ellida (her voice is heard outside the garden). Are you there, Wangel?

Wangel (rising). Yes, dear.

(Mrs. ELLIDA WANGEL, in a large, light wrap, and with wet hair hanging loose over her shoulders, comes from between the trees of the arbour. ARNHOLM rises.)

Wangel (smiling, and holding out his hands to her). Ah! So now we have our Mermaid!

Ellida (goes quickly up the verandah, and seizes his hands). Thank God that I see you again! When did you come?

Wangel. Just now; a little while since. (Pointing to ARNHOLM.) But won't you greet an old acquaintance?

Ellida (holding out her hand to ARNHOLM). So here you are! Welcome! And forgive me for not being at home--

Arnholm. Don't mention it--don't stand on any ceremony.

Wangel. Was the water nice and fresh today?

Ellida. Fresh! Oh! The water here never is fresh. It is so tepid and lifeless. Ugh! The water in the fjord here is sick.

Arnholm. Sick?

Ellida. Yes, sick. And I believe it makes one sick, too.

Wangel (smiling). You're giving our bathing resort a good name!

Arnholm. I should rather believe, Mrs. Wangel, that you have a peculiar relation to the sea, and to all that belongs to it.

Ellida. Perhaps; I almost think so myself. But do you see how festively the girls have arranged everything in your honour?

Wangel (embarrassed). Hm! (Looks at his watch.) Well, I suppose I must be quick and--

Arnholm. Is it really for me?

Ellida. Yes. You may be sure we don't decorate like this every day. Ugh! How suffocatingly hot it is under this roof. (Goes down into the garden.) Come over here. Here at least there is a little air. (Sits down in arbour.)

Arnholm (going thither). I think the air quite fresh here.

Ellida. Yes, you--who are used to the stifling air of the town! It's terrible there in the summer, I hear.

Wangel (who has also gone into the garden). Hm, dear Ellida, you must just entertain our friend alone for a little while.

Ellida. Are you busy?

Wangel. Yes, I must go down to the office. And then I must change. But I won't be long.

Arnholm (sitting down in arbour). Now, don't hurry, dear doctor. Your wife and I will manage to kill the time.

Wangel (nodding). Oh, yes! I'm sure you will. Well, goodbye for the present. (He goes out through the garden.)

Ellida (after a short pause). Don't you think it's pleasant sitting out here?


The Lady From The Sea - 3/24

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