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- The Lady From The Sea - 5/24 -


presenting this to Mrs. Wangel. (Bows, and offers her the bouquet.)

Ellida (smiling). But, my dear Mr. Lyngstrand, oughtn't you to give these lovely flowers to Mr. Arnholm himself? For you know it's really he-

Lyngstrand (looking uncertainly at both of them). Excuse me, but I don't know this gentleman. It's only--I've only come about the birthday, Mrs. Wangel.

Ellida. Birthday? You've made a mistake, Mr. Lyngstrand. There's no birthday here today.

Lyngstrand (smiling slyly). Oh! I know all about that! But I didn't think it was to be kept so dark.

Ellida. What do you know?

Lyngstrand. That it is Madam's birthday.

Ellida. Mine?

Arnholm (looks questioningly at her). Today? Surely not.

Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Whatever made you think that?

Lyngstrand. It was Miss Hilde who let it out. I just looked in here a little while ago, and I asked the young ladies why they were decorating the place like this, with flowers and flags.

Ellida. Well?

Lyngstrand. And so Miss Hilde said, "Why, today is mother's birthday."

Ellida. Mother's!--I see.

Arnholm. Aha! (He and ELLIDA exchange a meaning look.) Well, now that the young man knows about it--

Ellida (to LYNGSTRAND). Well, now that you know--

Lyngstrand (offering her the bouquet again). May I take the liberty of congratulating you?

Ellida (taking the flowers). My best thanks. Won't you sit down a moment, Mr. Lyngstrand? (ELLIDA, ARNHOLM, and LYNGSTRAND sit down in the arbour.) This--birthday business--was to have been kept secret, Mr. Arnholm.

Arnholm. So I see. It wasn't for us uninitiated folk!

Ellida (putting down the bouquet). Just so. Not for the uninitiated.

Lyngstrand. 'Pon my word, I won't tell a living soul about it.

Ellida. Oh, it wasn't meant like that. But how are you getting on? I think you look better than you did.

Lyngstrand. Oh! I think I'm getting on famously. And by next year, if I can go south--

Ellida. And you are going south, the girls tell me.

Lyngstrand. Yes, for I've a benefactor and friend at Bergen, who looks after me, and has promised to help me next year.

Ellida. How did you get such a friend?

Lyngstrand. Well, it all happened so very luckily. I once went to sea in one of his ships.

Ellida. Did you? So you wanted to go to sea?

Lyngstrand. No, not at all. But when mother died, father wouldn't have me knocking about at home any longer, and so he sent me to sea. Then we were wrecked in the English Channel on our way home; and that was very fortunate for me.

Arnholm. What do you mean?

Lyngstrand. Yes, for it was in the shipwreck that I got this little weakness--of my chest. I was so long in the ice-cold water before they picked me up; and so I had to give up the sea. Yes, that was very fortunate.

Arnholm. Indeed! Do you think so?

Lyngstrand. Yes, for the weakness isn't dangerous; and now I can be a sculptor, as I so dearly want to be. Just think; to model in that delicious clay, that yields so caressingly to your fingers!

Ellida. And what are you going to model? Is it to be mermen and mermaids? Or is it to be old Vikings?

Lyngstrand. No, not that. As soon as I can set about it, I am going to try if I can produce a great work--a group, as they call it.

Ellida. Yes; but what's the group to be?

Lyngstrand. Oh! something I've experienced myself.

Arnholm. Yes, yes; always stick to that.

Ellida. But what's it to be?

Lyngstrand. Well, I thought it should be the young wife of a sailor, who lies sleeping in strange unrest, and she is dreaming. I fancy I shall do it so that you will see she is dreaming.

Arnholm. Is there anything else?

Lyngstrand. Yes, there's to be another figure--a sort of apparition, as they say. It's her husband, to whom she has been faithless while he was away, and he is drowned at sea.

Arnholm. What?

Ellida. Drowned?

Lyngstrand. Yes, he was drowned on a sea voyage. But that's the wonderful part of it--he comes home all the same. It is night- time. And he is standing by her bed looking at her. He is to stand there dripping wet, like one drawn from the sea.

Ellida (leaning back in her chair). What an extraordinary idea! (Shutting her eyes.) Oh! I can see it so clearly, living before me!

Arnholm. But how on earth, Mr.--Mr.--I thought you said it was to be something you had experienced.

Lyngstrand. Yes. I did experience that--that is to say, to a certain extent.

Arnholm. You saw a dead man?

Lyngstrand. Well, I don't mean I've actually seen this-- experienced it in the flesh. But still--

Ellida (quickly, intently). Oh! tell me all you can about it! I must understand about all this.

Arnholm (smiling). Yes, that'll be quite in your line. Something that has to do with sea fancies.

Ellida. What was it, Mr. Lyngstrand?

Lyngstrand. Well, it was like this. At the time when we were to sail home in the brig from a town they called Halifax, we had to leave the boatswain behind in the hospital. So we had to engage an American instead. This new boatswain-

Ellida. The American?

Lyngstrand. Yes, one day he got the captain to lend him a lot of old newspapers and he was always reading them. For he wanted to teach himself Norwegian, he said.

Ellida. Well, and then?

Lyngstrand. It was one evening in rough weather. All hands were on deck--except the boatswain and myself. For he had sprained his foot and couldn't walk, and I was feeling rather low, and was lying in my berth. Well, he was sitting there in the forecastle, reading one of those old papers again.

Ellida. Well, well!

Lyngstrand. But just as he was sitting there quietly reading, I heard him utter a sort of yell. And when I looked at him, I saw his face was as white as chalk. And then he began to crush and crumple the paper, and to tear it into a thousand shreds. But he did it so quietly, quietly.

Ellida. Didn't he say anything? Didn't he speak?

Lyngstrand. Not directly; but a little after he said to himself, as it were: "Married--to another man. While I was away."

Ellida (closes her eyes, and says, half to herself). He said that?

Lyngstrand. Yes. And think--he said it in perfect Norwegian. That man must have learnt foreign languages very easily--

Ellida. And what then? What else happened?

Lyngstrand. Well, now the remarkable part is coming--that I shall never forget as long as I live. For he added, and that quite quietly, too: "But she is mine, and mine she shall remain. And she shall follow me, if I should come home and fetch her, as a drowned man from the dark sea."

Ellida (pouring herself out a glass of water. Her hand trembles). Ah! How close it is here today.

Lyngstrand. And he said this with such strength of will that I


The Lady From The Sea - 5/24

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