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them Oh no, I must go out into the storm and

the snow-blast, — go from house to house and seek

shelter for my father and myself.

vol. 11. 24



370 The Wild Duck. [Act V.

Gina. But you've got no hat, Ekdal! You've
lost your hat, you know.

Hialmar. Oh those two brutes, those slaves of
all the vices! A hat must be got for me. {Takes
another piece of bread and butter.) Something must
be done. For I have no mind to throw away my
life, either. (Looks for something on the tray)

GlNA. What are you looking for ?

Hialmar. Butter.

Gina. I'll get you some at once. {Goes out into
the kitchen)

Hialmar {calls after her). Oh it doesn't matter ;
dry bread is all I require.

GlNA {brings a dish of butter). Look here ; this is
fresh churned.

{She pours out another cup of coffee for him ; he
seats himself on the sofa, spreads more butter on
the already buttered bread, and eats and drinks
awhile in silence)

Hialmar. Could I, without being intruded on by
any one — by any one at all — could I live in the
sitting-room for a day or two ?

GlNA. Yes, you could quite well, if you only
would.

Hialmar. For I see no possibility of getting all
father's things out in such a hurry.

GlNA. And besides, you'll have to tell him first
that you don't mean to live with us others any
longer.

Hialmar {pushes away his coffee cup). Yes, there's
that too ; I'll have to lay bare the whole complicated
history to him I must turn matters over; I



Act V.] The Wild Duck. 371

must have breathing-time ; I can't take the whole
burden upon my shoulders in a single day.

GlNA. No, especially in such horrible weather as
it is outside.

HlALMAR {touching Werle's letter). I see that
paper is still lying about here.

GlNA. Yes, / haven't touched it

HlALMAR. So far as I'm concerned it's mere waste



paper

GlNA. Well Fm certainly not thinking of making
any use of it.

HlALMAR. but we'd better not let it get lost

all the same ; — in all the upset when I move, it might
easily

GlNA. I'll take care of it, Ekdal.

HlALMAR. The donation is really made to father,
and it rests with him to accept or decline it.

GlNA (sighs). Yes, poor old father

HlALMAR. To make quite safe Where shall

I find some gum ?

GlNA {goes to the bookcase). Here's the gum-pot.

HlALMAR. And a brush?

GlNA. Here's the brush too.
{Brings him the things?)

HlALMAR {takes a pair of scissors). Just a strip of

paper at the back {clips and gunis). Far be it

from me to lay hands upon what is not my own — and
least of all upon what belongs to a destitute old man
— and to — the other as well. — There now. Let it lie
there for a time ; and when it's dry, take it away. I
wish never to see that document again. Never !
(GREGERS WERLE e?iters from t lie passage.)



372 The Wild Duck. [Act V.

GREGERS (somewJiat surprised). What, — are you
sitting here, Hialmar?

HlALMAR {rises hurriedly). I had sunk down from
fatigue.

Gregers. You've been having breakfast, I see.

Hialmar. The body sometimes makes its claims
felt too.

Gregers. What have you decided to do ?

HlALMAR. For a man like me, there's only one
way to go. I'm just putting my most important
things together. But it takes time, you know.

GlNA (rather impatiently). Am I to get the room
ready for you, or shall I pack your portmanteau ?

HlALMAR (after a glance of annoyance at GREGERS).
Pack — and get the room ready !

GlNA (takes the portmanteau). Very well ; then I'll
put in the shirt and the other things. (Goes into the
sitting-room and draws the door to after her.)

Gregers (after a short silence). I never thought
this would be the end of it. Do you really feel it a
necessity to leave house and home ?

Hialmar (wanders about restlessly). What would
you have me do? — I am not fitted to bear un-
happiness, Gregers. I must feel secure and at peace
in my surroundings.

Gregers. But can't you feel that here? Just
try it. It seems to me you have firm ground to
build upon now — if only you start afresh. And
remember, you have your invention to live for.

Hialmar. Oh don't talk about my invention.
It's perhaps still in the dim distance.

Gregers. Indeed !



Act V.] The Wild Duck 373

Hialmar. Why, great heavens, what would you
have me invent ? Other people have invented almost
everything already. It's more and more difficult
every day

Gregers. And you've devoted so much work
to it.

Hialmar. It was that blackguard Relling that
urged me to it

Gregers. Relling ?

Hialmar. Yes, it was he that first led me to
notice my aptitude for making some notable discovery
in photography.

Gregers. Aha — it was Relling !

Hialmar. Oh, I've been so truly happy over it!
Not so much for the sake of the invention itself, but
because Hedvig believed in it — believed in it with
a child's whole earnestness of faith. At least, I've
been fool enough to go and imagine that she believed
in it

Gregers. Can you really think that Hedvig has
been false towards you ?

Hialmar. I can think anything now. It's
Hedvig that stands in my way. She will blot out
the sunlight from my whole life.

Gregers. Hedvig! Is it Hedvig you're talking
of? How should she blot out your sunlight ?

Hialmar {without answering). I have loved that
child so unspeakably. I have felt so unspeakably
happy every time I came home to my poor room,
and she flew to meet me, with her sweet little short-
sighted eyes. Oh, confiding fool that I have been !
I loved her unspeakably; and I yielded myself up



374 The Wild Duck. [Act V.

to the dream, the delusion, that she loved me un-
speakably in return.

Gregers. Do you call that a delusion ?

Hialmar. How should I know ? I can't get
anything out of Gina ; and besides, she's totally blind
to the ideal side of these complications. But to you
I feel impelled to open my mind, Gregers. I can't
shake off this frightful doubt — perhaps Hedvig has
never really and honestly loved me.

Gregers. What would you say if she were to
give you a proof of her love ? (Listens.) What's
that? I thought I heard the wild duck ?

Hialmar. It's the wild duck quacking. Father's
in the garret.

GREGERS. Is he? (His face lights up with joy.) I
say you may yet have proof that your poor misunder-
stood Hedvig loves you !

Hialmar. Oh, what proof can she give me? I
dare not believe in any assurances from that quarter.

Gregers. Hedvig does not know what deceit
means.

Hialmar. Oh Gregers, that's just what I can't
be certain about Who knows what Gina and that
Mrs. Sorby may many a time have sat here whisper-
ing and tattling about ? And Hedvig usually has her
ears open, I can tell you. Perhaps the deed of gift
didn't come so unexpectedly after all. In fact, I'm
not sure but that I gathered something of the sort

Gregers. What spirit is this that has come over
you?

Hialmar. I've had my eyes opened. Just you
notice ; — you'll see, the deed of gift is only a



Act V.] The Wild Duck. 375

beginning. Mrs. Sorby has always been a good deal
taken up with Hedvig ; and now she has the power
to do whatever she likes for the child. They can take
her from me whenever they please.

GREGERS. Hedvig will never leave you.

Hialmar. Don't be so sure of that If only they

beckon to her and throw out a golden bait ! Oh,

and I have loved her so unspeakably ! I would have
counted it my highest happiness to take her tenderly
by the hand and lead her, as one leads a timid child
through a great dark empty room ! — I am cruelly
certain now that the poor photographer in his humble
attic has never really and truly been anything to her.
She has only cunningly contrived to keep on a good
footing with him until the time came.

Gregers. You don't believe that yourself,
Hialmar.

Hialmar. That's just the terrible part of it —
I don't know what to believe, — I never can know
it But can you really doubt that it must be as I
say? Ho-ho, you rely too much upon the claim of
the ideal, my good Gregers ! If those others came,
with the glory of wealth about them, and called to
the child : — ■ Leave him : come to us : here life
awaits you " !

Gregers {quickly). Well, what then ?

Hialmar. If I then asked her : Hedvig, are you
willing to renounce that life for me ? {Laughs scorn-
fully^) No thank you ! You'd soon hear what answer
I should get.

{A pistol shot is heard from within the garret!)

GREGERS {loudly and joy fully). Hialmar!



376 The Wild Duck. [Act V.

HlALMAR. There now; he must needs go shooting
too.

GlNA (comes in). Oh Ekdal, I can hear grand-
father blazing away in the garret by himself.

HlALMAR. I'll look in.

Gregers {eagerly, with emotion). Wait a bit!
Do you know what that was ?

HlALMAR. Yes, of course I know.

Gregers. No you don't know. But / do. That
was the proof!

HlALMAR. What proof?

Gregers. It was a child's act of sacrifice. She
has got your father to shoot the wild duck.

HlALMAR. To shoot the wild duck !

GlN A. Oh, think of that !

HlALMAR. What was that for ?

GREGERS. She wanted to sacrifice to you her
most cherished possession ; for then she thought you
would surely come to love her again.

HlALMAR {tenderly, with emotion). Oh, poor child !

GlNA. What things she thinks of!

GREGERS. She only wanted your love again,
Hialmar. She couldn't live without it.

GlNA (struggling with her tears). There, you can
see for yourself, Ekdal.

HlALMAR. Gina, where is she ?

GlNA (sniffs). Poor dear, she's sitting out in the
kitchen, I daresay.

HlALMAR (goes over, tears open the kitclwi door, and
says). Hedvig, come, come in to me ! (Looks round.)
No, she's not here.

GlNA. Then she must be in her own little room.



Act V.] The Wild Duck. 377

HlALMAR {without). No, she's not here either.
{Comes in.) She must have gone out.

GlNA. Yes, you wouldn't have her anywhere in
the house.

HlALMAR. Oh, if she would only come home

quickly, so that I can tell her Everything will

come right now, Gregers ; now I believe we can begin
life afresh.

GREGERS {quietly). I knew it; I knew the child
would make amends.

(Old Ekdal appears at the door of his room;
he is in full uniform, and is busy buckling on
his sword.)

HlALMAR {astonished). Father ! Are you there ?

GlNA. Have you been firing in your room ?

Ekdal {resentfully, approaching). So you go
shooting alone, Hialmar ?

HlALMAR {excited and confused). Then it wasn't
you that fired that shot in the garret ?

Ekdal. Me that fired ? Hm.

Gregers {calls out to Hialmar). She has shot
the wild duck herself!

Hialmar. What can it mean? {Hastens to the
garret door, tears it aside, looks in and calls loudly.)
Hedvig !

GlNA {runs to the door). Good God, what's that 1

Hialmar (goes in). She's lying on the floor !

Gregers. Hedvig ! lying on the floor !
{Goes in to Hialmar.)

GlNA {at the same time) Hedvig ! {inside the garret).
No, no, no !

Ekdal. Ho-ho ! does she go shooting too, now ?



378 The Wild Duck. [Act V.

(Hialmar, GlNA, and Gregers carry HEDVIG
into tJie studio ; in her dangling right hand she
Jwlds tJie pistol fast clasped in her fingers!)
Hialmar {distracted). The pistol has gone off.
She has wounded herself. Call for help ! Help !

GlN A (runs into the passage arid calls down).
Relling ! Relling ! Doctor Relling ; come up as quick
as you can !

(Hialmar and Gregers lay Hedvig down on
the sofa!)
Ekdal {quietly). The woods avenge themselves.
Hialmar (on his knees beside Hedvig). She'll

soon come to now. She's coming to ; yes, yes,

yes.

GlNA (who lias come in again). Where has she hurt

herself? I can't see anything

(Relling comes hurriedly, and immediately after
him MOLVIK ; the latter without his waistcoat
and necktie, and with his coat open.)
Relling. What's the matter here ?
Gixa. They say Hedvig has shot herself.
Hialmar. Come and help usl
Relling. Shot herself!

(He pushes the table aside and begins to examine

her.)

HIALMAR (kneeling and looking anxiously up at

liim). It can't be dangerous? Speak, Relling!

She's scarcely bleeding at all. It can't be dangerous?

Relling. How did it happen ?

Hialmar. Oh, we don't know !

GlNA. She wanted to shoot the wild duck.
Relling. The wild duck ?



Act V.] The Wild Duck. 379

Hialmar. The pistol must have gone off.

Relling. Hm. Indeed.

Ekdal. The woods avenge themselves. But I'm
not afraid, all the same.

(Goes into the garret and closes the door after hi in.)

HlALMAR. Well, Relling, — why do you say
nothing ?

Relling. The ball has entered the breast.

Hialmar. Yes, but she's coming to !

RELLING. Surely you can see that Hedvig is dead.

GlNA (bursts into tears). Oh my child, my child !

Gregers (huskily). In the depths of the sea

Hialmar (jumps up). No, no, she must live!
Oh, for God's sake, Relling — only a moment — only
just till I can tell her how unspeakably I loved her
all the time !

Relling. The bullet has gone through her heart.
Internal hemorrhage. Death must have been in-
stantaneous.

Hialmar. And I ! I hunted her from me like an
animal ! And she crept terrified into the garret and
died for love of me ! (Sobbing.) I can never atone

to her ! I can never tell her ! (Clenches his hands

and cries y tipwards.) O thou above ! If thou art

there ! Why hast thou done this thing to me !

GlNA. Hush, hush, you mustn't speak so wildly.
We had no right to keep her, I suppose.

MOLVIK. The child is not dead, but sleepeth.

Relling. Bosh !

Hialmar (becomes calm, goes over to tlie sofa, folds
his arms, and looks at HEDVIG). There she lies so
stiff and still.



380 The Wild Duck. [Act V.

RELLING {tries to loosen the pistol). It's so tight,
so tight

Gina. No, no, Relling, don't break her fingers ;
let the pigstol be.

HlALMAR. She shall take it with her.

GlNA. Yes, let her. But the child mustn't lie
here for a show. She shall go into her own little
room. Help me in with her, Ekdal. (HlALMAR and
GlNA take Hedvig between them.)

HlALMAR (as they are carrying her). Oh Gina,
Gina, can you survive this !

GlNA. We must help each other to bear it For
now, at least, she belongs to both of us.

MOLVIK {stretches out his arms and mumbles).
Blessed be the Lord ; to earth thou shalt return ; to
earth thou shalt return

RELLING {whispers). Hold your tongue, you fool ;
you're drunk.

(HlALMAR and GlNA carry the corpse out through
the kitchen door. RELLING shuts it after them.
MOLVIK slinks out into tlie passage)

RELLING {goes over to GREGERS and says). No
one shall ever convince me that the pistol went off by
accident

GREGERS {who has stood terrified, with convulsive
twitchings). Who can say how the dreadful thing
happened ?

RELLING. The powder has burnt the body of her
dress. She must have pressed the pistol right against
her breast and fired.

GREGERS. Hedvig has not died in vain. Did you
not see how sorrow set free what is noble in him ?



Act V.] The Wild Duck. 381

Relling. Most people are ennobled by the actual
presence of death. But how long do you suppose this
nobility will last ?

Gregers. Will it not endure and increase through-
out his life ?

Relling. Before a year is over, little Hedvig will
be nothing to him but a pretty theme for declama-
tion.

GREGERS. How dare you say that of Hialmar
Ekdal ?

Relling. We shall talk of this again, when the
grass has first withered on her grave. Then you'll
hear him spout about " the child too early torn from
her father's heart ;" then you'll see him steep himself
in a syrup of sentiment and self-admiration and self-
pity. Just you see !

Gregers. If you're right and I'm wrong, then life
is not worth living.

RELLING. Oh, life would be quite tolerable, after
all, if only we could be rid of the confounded duns
that keep on pestering us, in our poverty, with the
claim of the ideal.

GREGERS {looking straight before hint). In that
case, I'm glad that my destiny is what it is.

RELLING. Excuse me, — what is your destiny ?

GREGERS {going). To be the thirteenth at table.

Relling. The devil it is.



the end.



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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenGhost: An enemy of the people: The wild duck → online text (page 20 of 21)