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Ghost: An enemy of the people: The wild duck online

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HlALMAR shrinks back at the sight of his

father, puts down his glass, and turns towards

the fireplace)

Ekdal {does not look up, but makes little bows to both

sides as he passes, murmuring) Beg pardon, come the

wrong way. Door locked — door locked. Beg pardoa

Act I.] The Wild Duck. 255

{He and GRAB ERG £<? out by the back, to the right.)

Werle {between his teeth). Confound that
Graberg !

GREGERS {open-mouthed and staring, to HlALMAR).
Why surely that wasn't !

The Flabby Gentleman. What's that ? Who
was it ?

GREGERS. Oh, nobody ; only the bookkeeper and
some one with him.

The Short-sighted Gentleman {to Hial-
MAR). Did you know that man ?

HlALMAR. I don't know — I didn't notice

The Flabby Gentleman. What the deuce is
the matter?

{He goes over to some others who are talking

MRS. Sorby {whispers to tJie Servant). Give him
something outside; — something good, mind.

Pettersen {nods). I'll see to it. {Goes out.)

GREGERS {softly and with emotion, to HlALMAR).
So that was really he !


Gregers. And yet you could stand there and
deny that you knew him !

Hialmar {whispers vehemently). But how could

Gregers. acknowledge your own father ?

Hialmar {with pain). Oh, if you were in my


( TJie conversation amongst the Guests, which has
been carried on in a low tone, now swells into
constrained boisterousness.)

256 The Wild Duck. [Act I.

The Thin-haired Gentleman {approaching
HlALMAR and GREGERS in a friendly manner). Aha !
Reviving old college memories, eh? Don't you
smoke, Mr. Ekdal ? Have a light ? Oh, by-the-bye,
we mustn't

Hialmar. No, thank you, I won't

The Flabby Gentleman. Haven't you a nice
little poem you could recite for us, Mr. Ekdal ? You
used to recite so charmingly.

HlALMAR. I'm sorry I can't remember any-

The Flabby Gentleman. Oh, that's a pity.
Well, what shall we do, Balle ?

{Both Gentlemen move away and pass into the
other room.)

HlALMAR {gloomily). I'm going, Gregers ! When
one has felt the crushing hand of Fate on one's head,
you know Say good-bye to your father for me.

Gregers. Yes, yes. Are you going straight

HlALMAR. Yes. Why?

Gregers. Oh, because I may perhaps look in on
you later.

HlALMAR. No, you mustn't do that You mustn't
come to my home. Mine is a melancholy dwelling,
Gregers ; especially after a splendid banquet like this.
We can always meet somewhere in the town.

MRS. SORBY {who has approached softly). Are you
going, Ekdal ?


Mrs. Sorby. Remember me to Gina,

HlALMAR. Thanks.

Act I.] The Wild Duck. 257

Mrs. Sorby. And say I'm coming up to see her
one of these days.

Hialmar. Yes, thank you. (To Gregers.)
Stay here, I'll slip out unobserved.

(He saunters away, then into the other room, and
so out to the right?)
Mrs. Sorby {softly to the Servant, who has come
back). Well, did the old man get something to take
with him ?

Pettersen. Yes ; I gave him a bottle of cognac.
Mrs. Sorby. Oh, you might have thought of
something better than that

Pettersen. Oh no, Mrs. Sorby ; cognac is what
he likes best in the world.

The Flabby Gentleman (in the doorway, with a
sheet of music in his hand). Shall we have a little
music, Mrs. Sorby?

Mrs. Sorby. Yes, by all means, let us.
The Guests. Bravo, bravo !

(She goes with all the Guests through the back room,
out to the right. GREGERS remains standing
by the fire. Werle is looking for something
071 the writing-table, and appears to wish that
Gregers would go; as Gregers does not
move, Werle goes tozvards the door)
Gregers. Father, won't you stop a moment ?
Werle (stops). What is it ?
Gregers. I must have a word with you.
Werle. Can't it wait till we're alone ?
Gregers. No, it can't; for perhaps we'll never
be alone together.

Werle (comes nearer). What do you mean ?

VOL. II. iy

258 The Wild Duck. [Act I.

{During the following, pianoforte music is heard
from the distant 7nusic-room.)

Gregers. How has that family been allowed to
go so miserably to the wall ?

Werle. I suppose you mean the Ekdals.

Gregers. Yes, I mean the Ekdals. Lieutenant
Ekdal and you once stood in such close relations.

Werle. Unfortunately our relations were too
close ; that I have felt to my cost for many a year.
It's thanks to him that I, yes /, have had a kind of
slur cast upon my reputation.

Gregers {softly). Are you sure that he alone was
to blame ?

Werle. Who else do you suppose ?

Gregers. You and he acted together in that
affair of the forests

Werle. But wasn't it Ekdal that drew up the
map of the forest tracts — that fraudulent map ! It
was he who cut down timber illegally on Government
ground. In fact, the whole management was in his
hands. I was quite in the dark as to what Lieu-
tenant Ekdal was doing.

Gregers. Lieutenant Ekdal seems to have been
in the dark himself as to what he was doing.

WERLE. That may be. But the fact remains that
he was found guilty and I acquitted.

Gregers. Yes, of course I know that nothing was
proved against you.

WERLE. Acquittal is acquittal. Why do yoi
rake up these old troubles that turned my hair gre}
before its time? Is that the sort of thing you've beei
going and brooding over all these years ? I cai

Act I.] The Wild Duck. 259

assure you, Gregers, here in the town the story's been
forgotten long ago — so far as I am concerned.

Gregers. But that unhappy Ekdal family !

Werle. What would you have had me do for the
people ? When Ekdal came out of prison he was
a broken-down man, fit for nothing. There are
people in the world who sink to the bottom the
moment they get a couple of shot in their body, and
never come to the surface again. You may take my
word for it, Gregers, I've done all I could without
positively exposing myself, and giving rise to all
sorts of suspicion and gossip

Gregers. Suspicion ? Oh yes, I see.

Werle. I've given Ekdal copying to do from the
office, and I pay him far, far more for it than his
work is worth

Gregers {without looking at him). Hm, I don't
doubt that.

Werle. You laugh? Perhaps you doubt me?
Well, I certainly can't refer you to my books, for
I never enter payments of that sort.

Gregers {smiles coldly). No, there are certain
payments it's best not to keep any account of.

Werle {starts). What do you mean by that ?

GREGERS {mustering up courage). Have you entered
what it cost you to have Hialmar Ekdal taught
photography ?

Werle. I ? How entered it ?

GREGERS. I've learnt that it was you who paid
for it. And I've learnt, too, that it was you who
generously enabled him to make a start in life.

Werle. Well, and yet you say I've done nothing

260 The Wild Duck. [Act I.

for the Ekdals ! I can assure you these people have
cost me enough in all conscience.

GREGERS. Have you entered any of these
expenses in your books ?

WERLE. Why do you ask ?

Gregers. Oh, I have my reasons. Now tell me :
when you interested yourself so warmly in your old
friend's son — wasn't that just when he was going to
get married ?

WERLE. Why, how the deuce — after all these
years, how can I ?

Gregers. You wrote me a letter about that time
— a business letter, of course ; and in a postscript you
mentioned — quite briefly — that Hialmar Ekdal had
married a Miss Hansen.

WERLE. Yes, that was quite right. That was her

Gregers. But you didn't tell me that this Miss
Hansen was Gina Hansen, our former house-

WERLE {with a forced laugh of derision). Well,
upon my word, it didn't occur to me that you were so
particularly interested in our former housekeeper.

GREGERS. No more I was. But {lowers his voice)
there were others in this house who were particularly
interested in her.

WERLE. What do you mean by that ? {Flaring
up.) You can't be alluding to me ?

Gregers {softly but firmly). Yes, I am alluding to

WERLE. And you dare you presume to !

How can he — that thankless hound — that photo-

Act I.] Thb Wild Duck. 261

grapher fellow — how dare he go making such

GREGERS. Hialmar has never hinted a word of it
I don't believe he has the faintest suspicion of such a

Werle. Then where have you got it from?
Who can have told you anything of the kind ?

Gregers. My poor unfortunate mother told me,
and that the very last time I saw her.

Werle. Your mother ! I might have known as
much ! You and she — you always held together. It
was she who first turned you against me.

Gregers. No, it was all the suffering she had to
go through, until she broke down and came to such a
pitiful end.

Werle. Oh, she had no suffering to go through ;
not more than most people, at all events. But there's
no getting on with morbid, overstrained creatures.
I've found that often enough. And so you could go
and nurse such a suspicion — go and burrow into all
sorts of old rumours and slanders against your own
father! I must say, Gregers, I really think that at
your age you might be doing something more useful.

Gregers. Yes, it's high time.

WERLE. Then perhaps your mind would be easier
than it seems to be now. What can be your object
in remaining up at the works, year out and year
in, drudging away like a common clerk, and not
receiving a farthing more than the ordinary monthly
wage ? It's absolute folly.

Gregers. Ah, if I were only sure of that

Werle. I understand you well enough. You

262 The Wild Duck. [Act I.

want to be independent, and not beholden to me for
anything. Now there just happens to be an oppor-
tunity for you to become independent, your own
master in everything.

GREGERS. Indeed? In what way.

Werle. When I wrote you insisting on your
coming to town at once — hm

Gregers. Yes, what do you really want me for ?
I've been waiting all day to know.

Werle. I propose to offer you a partnership in
the firm.

Gregers. I! In your firm? As partner?

Werle. Yes. It wouldn't involve our being
constantly together. You could look after the
business here, and I should move up to the works.

Gregers. You would ?

Werle. Yes. You see I'm not so fit for work as
I once was. I'm obliged to spare my eyes, Gregers ;
they've begun to be rather weak.

Gregers. They've always been so.

Werle. Not as they are now. And besides —
circumstances might possibly make it desirable for
me to live up there — for a time, at any rate.

GREGERS. I could never have imagined such a thing.

Werle. Listen, Gregers : there are many things
that form a barrier between us ; but we're father and
son after all. It seems to me we might manage to
come to some sort of understanding with each other.

Gregers. Outwardly, you mean, of course?

Werle. Well, even that would be something.
Think it over, Gregers. Don't you think we might,

Act I.] The Wild Duck. 263

Gregers {looking at him coldly). There's some-
thing behind all this.

Werle. How so ?

Gregers. You want to make use of me in some

Werle. In such a close relationship as ours, each
can always be useful to the other.

Gregers. Yes, people say so.

Werle. I want to have you at home with me for
a time now. I'm a lonely man, Gregers ; I've always
felt lonely, all my life through ; but most of all now
that I'm getting up in years. I need to have some-
body beside me

Gregers. You have Mrs. Sbrby.

Werle. Yes, I have her ; and she has become, so
to speak, almost indispensable to me. She is bright
and even-tempered ; she enlivens the house ; and
that's such a great thing for me.

Gregers. Well then, you have everything just as
you wish.

Werle. Yes, but I'm afraid it can't last. A
woman so placed may easily find herself in a false
position, in the eyes of the world. For that matter, it
does a man no good either.

Gregers. Oh, when a man gives such dinners as
you give, he can risk a great deal.

Werle. Yes, but she, Gregers? I'm afraid she
won't accept the situation much longer ; and even if
she did — even if, out of attachment to me, she were to

disregard gossip and scandal and all that ? Do

you think, Gregers — you with your highly-developed
sense of justice

264 The Wild Duck. [Act I.

Gregers {interrupts Jiim). Tell me in one word :
are you thinking of marrying her ?

Werle. Suppose I were thinking of it? What

GREGERS. That's what I say: what then?

Werle. Would you be inflexibly opposed to it ?

Gregers. Not at all. Not by any means.

Werle. I didn't know whether your devotion to
your mother's memory

Gregers. I am not overstrained.

WERLE. Well, whatever you may or may not be,
at all events you've lifted a great weight from my
mind. I'm extremely pleased that I can reckon on
your concurrence in this matter.

GREGERS {looking intently at him). Now I see
what you want to do with me.

Werle. To do with you ? What an expression !

Gregers. Oh, don't let us be nice in our choice of
words — not when we're alone together, at any rate.
( With a short laugh.) Well well ! This is the reason
why I had to come to town in person. For the sake
of Mrs. Sorby, we're to get up a pretence at family
life in the house — a tableau of filial affection. That'll
be something new indeed.

Werle. How dare you speak in that tone !

GREGERS. Was there ever any family life here?
Never since I can remember. But now I suppose
you require something of the sort. No doubt it'll
have an excellent effect when it's reported that the
son has hastened home, on the wings of filial piety,
to the grey-haired father's wedding-feast What'll
remain of all the rumours as to the wrongs the poor

Act I.] The Wild Duck. 265

dead mother had to put up with? Not a vestige,
Her son annihilates them at one stroke.

VVerle. Gregers — I believe there's no one in the
world you dislike as much as me.

Gregers {softly). I've seen you at too close

Werle. You've seen me with your mother's eyes.
{Lowers his voice a little?) But you should remember
that her vision was clouded now and then.

Gregers {trembling). I see what you're hinting
at. But who was to blame for mother's unfortunate

weakness ? Why you, and all these ! The last

of them was that woman that you palmed off upon
Hialmar Ekdal, when you no longer Ugh !

Werle {shrugs his shoulders). Word for word as
if it were your mother speaking !

Gregers {without heeding). And there he sits
now, with his great confiding, childlike mind, in the
midst of the deception — lives under the same roof
with such a creature, and does not know that what
he calls his home is built upon a lie ! {Comes a step
nearer?) When I look back upon your past, I seem
to see a battle-field with shattered lives on every

Werle. I almost think the chasm that divides us
is too wide.

GREGERS {bowing \ with self-command). So I have
observed ; and therefore I take my hat and go.

Werle. You're going ! out of the house ?

Gregers. Yes, for at last I see my mission in life.

Werle. What mission ?

Gregers. You would only laugh if I told you.

266 The Wild Duck. [Act I.

Werle. A lonely man doesn't laugh so easily,

GREGERS {pointing towards the background}.
Look, father, — the Chamberlains are playing blind-
man's-buff with Mrs. Sorby. Good-night and good-

{He goes out by tJie back to the right. Sounds
of laughter and merriment from the Company,
who appear in the outer room.)
WERLE {muttering contemptuously after GREGERS).

Ha ! Poor wretch — and he says he's not

overstrained 1

Act II.] The Wild Duck. 267

Act Second.

(HlALMAR Ekdal'S studio, a good-sized room at the top of the
house. On the rights a sloping roof of large panes of glass,
half covered by a blue curtain. In the ?ight-hand corner, at
the back, the enlra7ice door ; further forward, on the same side,
a door leading to the sitting-room. Two corresponding doors
on the opposite side, and between them an iro?i stove. At the
back a wide double sliding- door. The studio is plai?ily but
cojnfortably fitted up and furnished. Betwee?i the doors on
the right, standing out a little from the wall, a sofa with a
table and some chairs j on the table a lighted lamp with
a shade j beside the stove an old arm-chair. Photographic
instruments and apparatus of different kinds lying about the
room. Against the back wall, to the left of the double door,
stands a bookcase containing a few books, boxes, and bottles of
chemicals, instruments, tools, and other objects. Photographs
and small articles, such as ca?neV s-hair pencils, paper, and so
forth, lie on the table.)

(Gina Ekdal sits on a chair by the table, sewing. Hedvig is
sitting on the sofa with her hands shading her eyes and her
thumbs in her ears, reading a book.)

GlNA {glances once or twice at HEDVIG, as if with
secret anxiety ; then says) Hedvig! (Hedvig does
not hear. GlNA repeats more loudly) Hedvig !

HEDVIG {takes aivay her hands and looks up). Yes,
mother ?

GlNA. Hedvig dear, you mustn't sit reading any
longer now.

268 The Wild Duck [Act II

Hedvig. Oh mother, mayn't I read a little more?
Just a little bit?

GlNA. No no, you must put away your book now.
Your father doesn't like it ; he never reads himself in
the evening.

Hedvig {shuts tJie book). No, father doesn't care
much about reading.

GlN A {puts aside her sewing and takes up a lead
pencil and a little account-book from tJie table). Can
you remember how much we paid for the butter
to-day ?

Hedvig. It was one crown sixty-five.

GlNA. That's right {Puts it down.) It's terrible
what a lot of butter we get through in this house.
Then there was the smoked sausage, and the cheese —
let me see — {writes) — and the ham — hm. {Adds up.)
Yes, that makes just

Hedvig. And then the beer.

GlNA Yes, of course. ( Writes.) How it mounts
up ! But we can't do with less.

HEDVIG. But then you and I didn't need anything
hot for dinner, as father was out

GlNA. No, that was a good thing. And then I
took eight crowns fifty for photographs.

HEDVIG. Really ! So much as that ?

GlNA Exactly eight crowns fifty.

{Silence. GlNA takes up her sewing again.
HEDVIG takes paper and pencil and begins to
draw, shading her eyes with her left hand.)

Hedvig. Isn't it jolly to think that father's at Mr.
Werlc's big dinner party ?

GlNA. You can't say that he's exactly Mr. Werle's

Act II.] The Wild Duck. 269

guest It was the son that invited him. {After a
pause.) We've nothing to do with that Mr. Werle.

Hedvig. I'm longing for father to come home.
He promised to ask Mrs. Sorby for something nice
for me.

Gina Yes, there are plenty of good things going
in that house, I can tell you.

HEDVIG (continues drawing). I believe I'm rather
hungry too.

(Old EKDAL, with the paper parcel under his arm
and another parcel in his coat pockety comes in
through the entrance door.)

Gina. How late you are to-day, grandfather !

Ekdal. They'd closed the office. Had to wait in
Graberg's room. And then they let me through —

Hedvig. Did you get some fresh copying, grand-
father ?

Ekdal. This whole packet Just look.

Gina That's capital.

Hedvig. And you've got another parcel in your

Ekdal. Eh ? Oh nonsense, that's nothing. {Puts
his stick away in a corner?) This work'll keep
me a long time, Gina. {Opens one of the sliding-
doors in tJie back wall a little?) Hush ! {Peeps into
the room for a moment, then pushes the door carefully
to again?) Hee-hee ! They're fast asleep, all the lot
of them. And she's gone into the basket herself.
Hee-hee !

Hedvig. Are you sure she's not cold in that
basket, grandfather ?

270 The Wild Duck. [Act II.

EKDAL. Not a bit of it ! Cold ? With all that
straw ? {Goes towards t/ie further door on the left.)
There are matches in here, I suppose.

GlNA. The matches are on the drawers. (EKDAL
goes into his room.)

HEDVIG. It's nice that grandfather's got all that

GlNA. Yes, poor old father ; it means a bit of
pocket-money for him.

Hedvig. And he won't be able to sit the whole
forenoon down at that horrid Madam Eriksen's.

Gina. No more he will. (S/tort si/ence.)

Hedvig. Do you suppose they're still at the
dinner-table ?

GlNA. Goodness knows ; very likely

Hedvig. Think of all the delicious things
father's having to eat ! I'm certain he'll be in
splendid spirits when he comes. Don't you think
so, mother?

GlNA. Yes ; and if only we could tell him that
we'd got the room let

Hedvig. But we don't need that this evening.

Gina. Oh, we'd be none the worse of it, I can tell
you. It's no use to us as it is.

Hedvig. I meant that we don't need it this
evening, for father'll be in a good humour any-
how. We'd better save up the room for another

GlNA (looks across at her). Are you glad when
you've some good news to tell father when he comes
home in the evening ?

Hedvig. Yes ; for then we have a pleasanter time.

Act II.] The Wild Duck. 271

GlNA {thinking to herself). Yes, there's something
in that

(Old Ekdal comes in again and is going out by
the foremost door to the left.)

GlNA {half turning in her chair). Do you want
something out of the kitchen, grandfather ?

Ekdal. Yes, I do, yes. Don't you trouble.
{Goes out.)

GlNA. He's not raking away at the fire, is he ?
( Waits a moment) Hedvig, go and see what he's about.
(EKDAL comes in again with a small jug of
steaming hot water.)

Hedvig. Are you getting some hot water, grand
father ?

Ekdal. Yes, I am. Want it for something.
Want to write, and the ink has got as thick as
porridge, — hm.

GlNA. But you ought to have supper first, grand-
father. It's laid in there.

Ekdal. Can't be bothered with supper, Gina.
Very busy, I tell you. No one's to come to my room.
No one — hm.

{He goes into his room ; GlNA and HEDVIG look
at each other.)

GlNA {softly). Can you imagine where he's got
money from ?

HEDVIG. From Graberg, I daresay.

GlNA. Not a bit of it Graberg always sends the
money to me.

Hedvig. Then he must have got a bottle on
credit somewhere.

GlNA. Poor grandfather, who'd give him credit ?

272 The Wild Duck. [Act II.

(HlALMAR EKDAL, in an overcoat and grey felt
hat, comes in from the right.)

GlNA (throws down tier sewing and rises). Why,
Ekdal, are you here already ?

HEDVIG (at the same time y jumping up). Fancy
your coming so soon, father !

HlALMAR (taking off his hat). Yes, most of the
people were coming away.

Hedvig. So early?

HlALMAR. Yes, it was a dinner-party, you know
(Is taking off his overcoat?)

GlNA. Let me help you

Hedvig. Me too.

(They draw off his coat ; GlNA hangs it up on the
back wall?)

HEDVIG. Were there many there, father ?

HlALMAR. Oh no, not many. We were about
twelve or fourteen at table.

GlNA. And you had some talk with them

HlALMAR. Oh yes, a little ; but Gregers took me
up most of the time.

GlNA. Is Gregers as ugly as ever?

HlALMAR. Well, he's not very much to look at.
Hasn't the old man come home ?

Hedvig. Yes, grandfather's in his room, writing.

HlALMAR. Did he say anything?

GlNA. No, what should he say ?

HlALMAR. Didn't he say anything about ? I

fancy I heard that he'd been with Graberg. I'll go in
to him for a moment.

GlNA. No no, better not

Act II.] The Wild Duck. 273

Hialmar. Why not ? Did he say he didn't want
me to go in ?

GlNA. He doesn't want to see anybody this

Hedvig {making signs). Hm — hm !

GlNA {not noticing). he's been in to fetch hot


Hialmar. Aha ! Then he's ?

GlNA. Yes, I suppose so.

HlALMAR. Oh God ! my poor old white-haired
father ! — Well well ; there let him sit and get all the
enjoyment he can.

(Old Ekdal, in an indoor coat and with a lighted
pipe, comes from his room.)

Ekdal. Got home ? Thought it was you I heard

Hialmar. Yes, I've just come.

Ekdal. You didn't see me, did you ?

HlALMAR. No; but they said you'd passed
through — so I thought I'd follow you.

Ekdal. Hm, kind of you, Hialmar. Who were
they, all those fellows ?

Hialmar. Oh, all sorts of people. There was
Chamberlain Flor, and Chamberlain Balle, and
Chamberlain Kaspersen, and Chamberlain — this, that,
and the other — I don't know who all

Ekdal {nodding). Hear that, Gina! He's been
with nothing but Chamberlains.

GlNA. Yes, I hear they're terribly genteel in that
house nowadays.

Hedvig. Did the Chamberlains sing, father ? Of
did they read aloud ?

vol. 11. 18

274 The Wild Duck. [Act II.

HlALMAR. No, they only chattered. They wanted
me to recite something for them ; but I knew better
than that.

EKDAL. Didn't you do it ?

GiNA. Oh, you might have done it

Hialmar. No ; one mustn't be at everybody's
beck and call. ( Walks about the room.) I won't, at
any rate.

Ekdal. No no ; Hialmar's not to be had for the

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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenGhost: An enemy of the people: The wild duck → online text (page 14 of 21)