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E-text prepared by Ted Garvin, David Garcia, and the Project Gutenberg
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Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius

Ten Cent Pocket Series No. 353
Haldeman-Julius Company
Girard, Kansas



Torvald Helmer.
Nora, his wife.
Doctor Rank.
Mrs. Linde.
Nils Krogstad.
Helmer's three young children.
Anne, their nurse.
A Housemaid.
A Porter.

(_The action takes place in Helmer's house_.)


(SCENE. - _A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the
entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study. Between the
doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand wall is a door, and
beyond it a window. Near the window are a round table, armchairs and a
small sofa. In the right-hand wall, at the farther end, another door;
and on the same side, nearer the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs
and a rocking-chair; between the stove and the door, a small table.
Engravings on the wall; a cabinet with china and other small objects; a
small book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a
fire burns in the stove. It is winter._

_A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is heard to open.
Enter_ NORA, _humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in out-door
dress and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on the table to
the right. She leaves the outer door open after her, and through it is
seen a_ PORTER _who is carrying a Christmas Tree and a basket, which he
gives to the_ MAID _who has opened the door_.)

_Nora_. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children
do not see it till this evening, when it is dressed. (_To the_ PORTER,
_taking out her purse_.) How much?

_Porter_. Sixpence.

_Nora_. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (_The_ PORTER _thanks
her, and goes out_. NORA _shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as
she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her
pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door
and listens_.) Yes, he is in. (_Still humming, she goes to the table on
the right_.)

_Helmer_ (_calls out from his room_). Is that my little lark twittering
out there?

_Nora_ (_busy opening some of the parcels_). Yes, it is!

_Helmer_. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

_Nora_. Yes!

_Helmer_. When did my squirrel come home?

_Nora_. Just now. (_Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes
her mouth_.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

_Helmer_. Don't disturb me. (_A little later, he opens the door and
looks into the room, pen in hand_.) Bought, did you say? All these
things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

_Nora_. Yes, but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go a
little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to

_Helmer_. Still, you know, we can't spend money recklessly.

_Nora_. Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn't we?
Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots
and lots of money.

_Helmer_. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole quarter
before the salary is due.

_Nora_. Pooh! we can borrow till then.

_Helmer_. Nora! (_Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear_.)
The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed fifty pounds
today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week, and then on New
Year's Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me, and -

_Nora_ (_putting her hands over his mouth_). Oh! don't say such horrid

_Helmer_. Still, suppose that happened, - what then?

_Nora_. If that were to happen, I don't suppose I should care whether I
owed money or not.

_Helmer_. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?

_Nora_. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they

_Helmer_. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I
think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or
beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have
kept bravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way
for the short time longer that there need be any struggle.

_Nora_ (_moving towards the stove_). As you please, Torvald.

_Helmer_ (_following her_). Come, come, my little skylark must not droop
her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (_Taking
out his purse_.) Nora, what do you think I have got here?

_Nora_ (_turning round quickly_). Money!

_Helmer_. There you are. (_Gives her some money_.) Do you think I don't
know what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-time?

_Nora_ (_counting_). Ten shillings - a pound - two pounds! Thank you,
thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.

_Helmer_. Indeed it must.

_Nora_. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I have
bought. And ah so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, and a sword;
and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and dolly's bedstead for
Emmy. - they are very plain, but anyway she will soon break them in
pieces. And here are dress-lengths and handkerchiefs for the maids; old
Anne ought really to have something better.

_Helmer_. And what is in this parcel?

_Nora_ (_crying out_). No, no! you mustn't see that till this evening.

_Helmer_. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little person,
what would you like for yourself?

_Nora_. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don't want anything.

_Helmer_. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable that you would
particularly like to have.

_Nora_. No, I really can't think of anything - unless, Torvald -

_Helmer_. Well?

_Nora_ (_playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes to
his_). If you really want to give me something, you might - you might -

_Helmer_. Well, out with it!

_Nora_ (_speaking quickly_). You might give me money, Torvald. Only just
as much as you can afford; and then one of these days I will buy
something with it.

_Helmer_. But, Nora -

_Nora_. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do! Then I will wrap it up
in beautiful gilt paper and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn't that
be fun?

_Helmer_. What are little people called that are always wasting money?

_Nora_. Spendthrifts - I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald, and
then I shall have time to think what I am most in want of. That is a
very sensible plan, isn't it?

_Helmer_ (_smiling_). Indeed it is - that is to say, if you were really
to save out of the money I give you, and then really buy something for
yourself. But if you spend it all on the housekeeping and any number of
unnecessary things, then I merely have to pay up again.

_Nora_. Oh but, Torvald -

_Helmer_. You can't deny it, my dear, little Nora. (_Puts his arm round
her waist_.) It's a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal of
money. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are!

_Nora_. It's a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.

_Helmer_ (_laughing_). That's very true, - all you can. But you can't
save anything!

_Nora_ (_smiling quietly and happily_). You haven't any idea how many
expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.

_Helmer_. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You always
find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as soon as you have
got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You never know where it has
gone. Still, one must take you as you are. It is in the blood; for
indeed it is true that you can inherit these things, Nora.

_Nora_. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities.

_Helmer_. And I would not wish you to be anything but just what you are,
my sweet little skylark. But, do you know, it strikes me that you are
looking rather - what shall I say - rather uneasy today?

_Nora_. Do I?

_Helmer_. You do, really. Look straight at me.

_Nora_ (_looks at him_). Well?

_Helmer_ (_wagging his finger at her_). Hasn't Miss Sweet-Tooth been
breaking rules in town today?

_Nora_. No; what makes you think that?

_Helmer_. Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?

_Nora_. No, I assure you, Torvald -

_Helmer_. Not been nibbling sweets?

_Nora_. No, certainly not.

_Helmer_. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?

_Nora_. No, Torvald, I assure you really -

_Helmer_. There, there, of course I was only joking.

_Nora_ (_going to the table on the right_). I should not think of going
against your wishes.

_Helmer_. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word - (_Going
up to her_.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to yourself, my darling.
They will all be revealed tonight when the Christmas Tree is lit, no

_Nora_. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?

_Helmer_. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will come
to dinner with us. However, I will ask him when he comes in this
morning. I have ordered some good wine. Nora, you can't think how I am
looking forward to this evening.

_Nora_. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!

_Helmer_. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It's delightful to think of, isn't

_Nora_. It's wonderful!

_Helmer_. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening till long after midnight,
making ornaments for the Christmas Tree and all the other fine things
that were to be a surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I ever

_Nora_. I didn't find it dull.

_Helmer_ (_smiling_). But there was precious little result, Nora.

_Nora_. Oh, you shouldn't tease me about that again. How could I help
the cat's going in and tearing everything to pieces?

_Helmer_. Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the best of
intentions to please us all, and that's the main thing. But it is a good
thing that our hard times are over.

_Nora_. Yes, it is really wonderful.

_Helmer_. This time I needn't sit here and be dull all alone, and you
needn't ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands -

_Nora_ (_clapping her hands_). No, Torvald, I needn't any longer, need
I! It's wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (_Taking his arm_.) Now I
will tell you how I have been thinking we ought to arrange things,
Torvald. As soon as Christmas is over - (_A bell rings in the hall_.)
There's the bell. (_She tidies the room a little_.) There's someone at
the door. What a nuisance!

_Helmer_. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.

_Maid_ (_in the doorway_). A lady to see you, ma'am, - a stranger.

_Nora_. Ask her to come in.

_Maid_ (_to_ HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.

_Helmer_. Did he go straight into my room?

_Maid_. Yes, sir.

(HELMER _goes into his room. The_ MAID _ushers in_ MRS. LINDE, _who is
in traveling dress, and shuts the door_.)

_Mrs Linde_ (_in a dejected and timid voice_). How do you do, Nora?

_Nora_ (_doubtfully_). How do you do -

_Mrs. Linde_. You don't recognize me, I suppose.

_Nora_ No, I don't know - yes, to be sure, I seem to - (_Suddenly_.) Yes!
Christine! Is it really you?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, it is I.

_Nora_. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how could
I - (_In a gentle voice_.) How you have altered, Christine!

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years -

_Nora_. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight
years have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now you have
come into the town, and have taken this long journey in winter - that was
plucky of you.

_Mrs. Linde_. I arrived by steamer this morning.

_Nora_. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How delightful!
We will have such fun together! But take off your things. You are not
cold, I hope. (_Helps her_.) Now we will sit down by the stove, and be
cosy. No, take this arm-chair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair.
(_Takes her hands_.) Now you look like your old self again; it was only
the first moment - You are a little paler, Christine, and perhaps a
little thinner.

_Mrs. Linde_. And much, much older, Nora.

_Nora_. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not much.
(_Stops suddenly and speaks seriously_.) What a thoughtless creature I
am, chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine, do forgive me.

_Mrs. Linde_. What do you mean, Nora?

_Nora_ (_gently_). Poor Christine, you are a widow.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes; it is three years ago now.

_Nora_. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you, Christine, I
meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but I always put it off
and something always prevented me.

_Mrs. Linde_. I quite understand, dear.

_Nora_. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must have
suffered. And he left you nothing?

_Mrs. Linde_. No.

_Nora_. And no children?

_Mrs. Linde_. No.

_Nora_. Nothing at all, then?

_Mrs. Linde_. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.

_Nora_ (_looking incredulously at her_). But, Christine, is that

_Mrs. Linde_ (_smiles sadly and strokes her hair_). It sometimes
happens, Nora.

_Nora_. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I have
three lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they are out
with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.

_Mrs. Linde_. No, no; I want to hear about you.

_Nora_. No, you must begin. I mustn't be selfish today; today I must
only think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must tell you. Do
you know we have just had a great piece of good luck?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, what is it?

_Nora_. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!

_Mrs. Linde_. Your husband? What good luck!

_Nora_. Yes tremendous! A barrister's profession is such an uncertain
thing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury cases; and naturally
Torvald has never been willing to do that, and I quite agree with him.
You may imagine how pleased we are! He is to take up his work in the
Bank at the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots of
commissions. For the future we can live quite differently - we can do
just as we like. I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be
splendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have what
one needs.

_Nora_. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_smiling_). Nora, Nora, haven't you learnt sense yet? In
our schooldays you were a great spendthrift.

_Nora_ (_laughing_). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (_Wags her
finger at her_.) But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you think. We have
not been in a position for me to waste money. We have both had to work.

_Mrs. Linde_. You too?

_Nora_. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crochet-work, embroidery, and
that kind of thing. (_Dropping her voice_.) And other things as well.
You know Torvald left his office when we were married? There was no
prospect of promotion there, and he had to try and earn more than
before. But during the first year he overworked himself dreadfully. You
see, he had to make money every way he could, and he worked early and
late; but he couldn't stand it, and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors
said it was necessary for him to go south.

_Mrs. Linde_. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you?

_Nora_. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you. It was
just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was a
wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald's life. But it cost
a tremendous lot of money, Christine.

_Mrs. Linde_. So I should think.

_Nora_. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That's a lot, isn't

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have the

_Nora_. I ought to tell you that we had it from papa.

_Mrs. Linde_. Oh, I see. It was just about that time that he died,
wasn't it?

_Nora_. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn't go and nurse him. I was
expecting little Ivar's birth every day and I had my poor sick Torvald
to look after. My dear, kind father - I never saw him again, Christine.
That was the saddest time I have known since our marriage.

_Mrs. Linde_. I know how fond you were of him. And then you went off to

_Nora_. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on our
going, so we started a month later.

_Mrs. Linde_. And your husband came back quite well?

_Nora_. As sound as a bell!

_Mrs Linde_. But - the doctor?

_Nora_. What doctor?

_Mrs Linde_. I thought your maid said the gentleman who arrived here
just as I did, was the doctor?

_Nora_. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn't come here
professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least once
every day. No, Torvald has not had an hour's illness since then, and our
children are strong and healthy and so am I. (_Jumps up and claps her
hands_.) Christine! Christine! it's good to be alive and happy! - But how
horrid of me; I am talking of nothing but my own affairs. (_Sits on a
stool near her, and rests her arms on her knees_.) You mustn't be angry
with me. Tell me, is it really true that you did not love your husband?
Why did you marry him?

_Mrs. Linde_. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and helpless,
and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I did not think I
was justified in refusing his offer.

_Nora_. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at that time,

_Mrs. Linde_. I believe he was quite well off. But his business was a
precarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and there was
nothing left.

_Nora_. And then? -

_Mrs. Linde_. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could
find - first a small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last three
years have seemed like one long working-day, with no rest. Now it is at
an end, Nora. My poor mother needs me no more, for she is gone; and the
boys do not need me either; they have got situations and can shift for

_Nora_. What a relief you must feel it -

_Mrs. Linde_. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one
to live for any more. (_Gets up restlessly_.) That is why I could not
stand the life in my little backwater any longer. I hope it may be
easier here to find something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts.
If only I could have the good luck to get some regular work - office work
of some kind -

_Nora_. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look
tired out now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_walking to the window_). I have no father to give me
money for a journey, Nora.

_Nora_ (_rising_). Oh, don't be angry with me.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_going up to her_). It is you that must not be angry with
me, dear. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so
bitter. No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always on the look-out
for chances. One must live, and so one becomes selfish. When you told me
of the happy turn your fortunes have taken - you will hardly believe
it - I was delighted not so much on your account as on my own.

_Nora_. How do you mean? - Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps
Torvald could get you something to do.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.

_Nora_. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach the
subject very cleverly - I will think of something that will please him
very much. It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.

_Mrs. Linde_. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to help me! It is
doubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens and troubles
of life.

_Nora_. I - ? I know so little of them?

_Mrs Linde_ (_smiling_). My dear! Small household cares and that sort of
thing! - You are a child, Nora.

_Nora_ (_tosses her head and crosses the stage_). You ought not to be so

_Mrs. Linde_. No?

_Nora_. You are just like all the others. They all think that I am
incapable of anything really serious -

_Mrs. Linde_. Come, come -

_Nora_. - that I have gone through nothing in this world of cares.

_Mrs. Linde_. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all your

_Nora_. Pooh! - those were trifles. (_Lowering her voice_.) I have not
told you the important thing.

_Mrs. Linde_. The important thing? What do you mean?

_Nora_. You look down upon me altogether, Christine - but you ought not
to. You are proud, aren't you, of having-worked so hard and so long for
your mother?

_Mrs. Linde_. Indeed, I don't look down on any one. But it is true that
I am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to make the end
of my mother's life almost free from care.

_Nora_. And you are proud to think of what you have done for your

_Mrs. Linde_. I think I have the right to be.

_Nora_. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have something
to be proud and glad of.

_Mrs. Linde_. I have no doubt you have. But what do you refer to?

_Nora_. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn't on any
account - no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.

_Mrs. Linde_. But what is it?

_Nora_. Come here. (_Pulls her down on the sofa beside her_.) Now I will
show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who
saved Torvald's life.

_Mrs. Linde_. "Saved"? How?

_Nora_. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never have
recovered if he had not gone there -

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.

_Nora_ (_smiling_). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others think,
but -

_Mrs. Linde_. But. -

_Nora_. Papa didn't give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money.

_Mrs. Linde_. You? All that large sum?

_Nora_. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?

_Mrs. Linde_. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win a
prize in the Lottery?

_Nora_ (_contemptuously_). In the Lottery? There would have been no
credit in that.

_Mrs. Linde_. But where did you get it from, then?

_Nora_ (_humming and smiling with an air of mystery_). Hm, hu! Aha!

_Mrs. Linde_. Because you couldn't have borrowed it.

_Nora_. Couldn't I? Why not?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband's consent.

_Nora_ (_tossing her head_). Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for
business - a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever -

_Mrs. Linde_. I don't understand it at all, Nora.

_Nora_. There is no need you should. I never said I had borrowed the
money. I may have got it some other way. (_Lies back on the sofa._)
Perhaps I got it from some other admirer. When anyone is as attractive
as I am -

_Mrs. Linde_. You are a mad creature.

_Nora_. Now, you know you're full of curiosity, Christine.

_Mrs. Linde_. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven't you been a little bit

_Nora_ (_sits up straight_). Is it imprudent to save your husband's

_Mrs. Linde_. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge, to -

_Nora_. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not know! My
goodness, can't you understand that? It was necessary he should have no
idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctors
came and said that his life was in danger, and that the only thing to
save him was to live in the south. Do you suppose I didn't try, first of
all, to get what I wanted as if it were for myself? I told him how much
I should love to travel abroad like other young wives; I tried tears and
entreaties with him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition
I was in, and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I even
hinted that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry,
Christine. He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as my
husband not to indulge me in my whims and caprices - as I believe he
called them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved - and that was how I
came to devise a way out of the difficulty -

_Mrs. Linde_. And did your husband never get to know from your father
that the money had not come from him?

_Nora_. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let him
into the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so ill
then - alas, there never was any need to tell him.

_Mrs. Linde_. And since then have you never told your secret to your

_Nora_. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has such

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