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- The Lady From The Sea - 4/24 -

Arnholm. I think I've a pleasant seat now.

Ellida. They call this my arbour, because I had it fitted up, or rather Wangel did, for me.

Arnholm. And you usually sit here?

Ellida. Yes, I pass most of the day here.

Arnholm. With the girls, I suppose?

Ellida. No, the girls--usually sit on the verandah.

Arnholm. And Wangel himself?

Ellida. Oh! Wangel goes to and fro--now he comes to me, and then he goes to his children.

Arnholm. And is it you who wish this?

Ellida. I think all parties feel most comfortable in this way. You know we can talk across to one another--if we happen to find there is anything to say.

Arnholm (after thinking awhile). When I last crossed your path-- out at Skjoldviken, I mean--Hm! That is long ago now.

Ellida. It's quite ten years since you were there with us.

Arnholm. Yes, about that. But when I think of you out there in the lighthouse! The heathen, as the old clergyman called you, because your father had named you, as he said, after an old ship, and hadn't given you a name fit for a Christian.

Ellida. Well, what then?

Arnholm. The last thing I should then have believed was that I should see you again down here as the wife of Wangel.

Ellida. No; at that time Wangel wasn't--at that time the girls' first mother was still living. Their real mother, so-

Arnholm. Of course, of course! But even if that had not been- even if he had been free--still, I could never have believed this would come about.

Ellida. Nor I. Never on earth--then.

Arnholm. Wangel is such a good fellow. So honourable. So thoroughly good and kind to all men.

Ellida (warmly and heartily). Yes, he is indeed.

Arnholm. But he must be so absolutely different from you, I fancy.

Ellida. You are right there. So he is.

Arnholm. Well, but how did it happen? How did it come about?

Ellida. Ah! dear Arnholm, you mustn't ask me about that. I couldn't explain it to you, and even if I could, you would never be able to understand, in the least.

Arnholm. Hm! (In lower tone.) Have you ever confided anything about me to your husband? Of course, I meant about the useless step--I allowed myself to be moved to.

Ellida. No. You may be sure of that. I've not said a word to him about--about what you speak of.

Arnholm. I am glad. I felt rather awkward at the thought that--

Ellida. There was no need. I have only told him what is true-- that I liked you very much, and that you were the truest and best friend I had out there.

Arnholm. Thanks for that. But tell me--why did you never write to me after I had gone away?

Ellida. I thought that perhaps it would pain you to hear from one who--who could not respond as you desired. It seemed like re- opening a painful subject.

Arnholm. Hm. Yes, yes, perhaps you were right.

Ellida. But why didn't you write?

Arnholm (looks at her and smiles, half reproachfully). I make the first advance? Perhaps expose myself to the suspicion of wanting to begin all over again? After such a repulse as I had had?

Ellida. Oh no! I understand very well. Have you never since thought of forming any other tie?

Arnholm. Never! I have been faithful to my first memories.

Ellida (half jestingly). Nonsense! Let the sad old memories alone. You'd better think of becoming a happy husband, I should say.

Arnholm. I should have to be quick about it, then, Mrs. Wangel. Remember, I'm already--I'm ashamed to say--I'm past thirty-seven.

Ellida. Well, all the more reason for being quick. (She is silent for a moment, and then says, earnestly, in a low voice.) But listen, dear Arnholm; now I am going to tell you something that I could not have told you then, to save my life.

Arnholm. What is it?

Ellida. When you took the--the useless step you were just speaking of--I could not answer you otherwise than I did.

Arnholm. I know that you had nothing but friendship to give me; I know that well enough.

Ellida. But you did not know that all my mind and soul were then given elsewhere.

Arnholm. At that time!

Ellida. Yes.

Arnholm. But it is impossible. You are mistaken about the time. I hardly think you knew Wangel then.

Ellida. It is not Wangel of whom I speak.

Arnholm. Not Wangel? But at that time, out there at Skjoldviken-- I can't remember a single person whom I can imagine the possibility of your caring for.

Ellida. No, no, I quite believe that; for it was all such bewildering madness--all of it.

Arnholm. But tell me more of this.

Ellida. Oh! it's enough if you know I was bound then; and you know it now.

Arnholm. And if you had not been bound?

Ellida. Well?

Arnholm. Would your answer to my letter have been different?

Ellida. How can I tell? When Wangel came the answer was different.

Arnholm. What is your object, then, in telling me that you were bound?

Ellida (getting up, as if in fear and unrest). Because I must have someone in whom to confide. No, no; sit still.

Arnholm. Then your husband knows nothing about this?

Ellida. I confessed to him from the first that my thoughts had once been elsewhere. He never asked to know more, and we have never touched upon it since. Besides, at bottom it was simply madness. And then it was over directly--that is to a certain extent.

Arnholm (rising). Only to a certain extent? Not quite?

Ellida. Yes, yes, it is! Oh, good heavens! Dear Arnholm, it is not what you think. It is something so absolutely incomprehensible, I don't know how I could tell it you. You would only think I was ill, or quite mad.

Arnholm. My dearest lady! Now you really must tell me all about it.

Ellida. Well, then, I'll try to. How will you, as a sensible man, explain to yourself that--(Looks round, and breaks off.) Wait a moment. Here's a visitor.

(LYNGSTRAND comes along the road, and enters the garden. He has a flower in his button-hole, and carries a large, handsome bouquet done up in paper and silk ribbons. He stands somewhat hesitatingly and undecidedly by the verandah.)

Ellida (from the arbour). Have you come to see the girls, Mr. Lyngstrand?

Lyngstrand (turning round). Ah, madam, are you there? (Bows, and comes nearer.) No, it's not that. It's not the young ladies. It's you yourself, Mrs. Wangel. You know you gave me permission to come and see you-

Ellida. Of course I did. You are always welcome here.

Lyngstrand. Thanks; and as it falls out so luckily that it's a festival here today--

Ellida. Oh! Do you know about that?

Lyngstrand. Rather! And so I should like to take the liberty of

The Lady From The Sea - 4/24

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