Edmund Gosse.

The collected works of Henrik Ibsen, Volume 1 online

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No matter at what cost of bitter blame!'*

Falk.
[Clenching kU fists in inward (tgiioHon.]
Heaven be my witness — !

SVANHILD.

No, you must be told: —
For such a childish sport I am too old.
But you, whom Nature made for high endeavour.
Are you content the fields of air to tread
Hanging your poet's life upon a thread
That at my pleasure I can slip and sever ?



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ACTil LOVE'S COMEDY 878

Falk.
[Hurriedly.]
What is the date to-day?

SVANHILD.

[More gently. ]

Why, now, that's right!
Mind well this day, and heed it, and beware;
Trust to your own wings only for your flight.
Sure, if they do not break, that they wiU bear.
The paper poem for the desk is fit.
That which is lived alone has life in it;
That only has the wings that scale the height;
Choose now between them, poet: be, or write!

[Nearer to him.
Now, I have done what you besought me; now
My requiem is chanted from the bough;
My only one; now all my songs are flown;
Now if you will, I'm ready for the stone!

[She goes into the house; Falk remains motunn'
less^ looking cf/ler her; far out on the fjord is
seen a booty from which the following chorus
is faintly heard:

Chordb.

My wings I open, my sails spread wide.
And cleave like an eagle life's glassy tide;

Gulls follow my furrow's foaming;
Overboard with the ballast of care and cark;
And what if I shatter my roaming bark.

It is patoing sweet to be roaming!



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S74 LOVE'S COMEDY Ucri

Falk.

[Starting from a reverie,]

What, music? Ah» it wiU be Lind's quartette
Gretting their jubilation up. — WeU met!

[To GuLDSTAD, who euters with an overcoat on
his arm.
Ah, slipping off, sir ?

GULDSTAD.

Yes, with your goodwill.
But let me first put on my overcoat.
We prose-folks are susceptible to chill;
The night wind takes us by the tuneless throat.
Good evening!

Falk.

Sir, a word ere you proceed!
Show me a task, a mighty one, you know — !
I*m going in for life — !

GuLDSTAD.

[With ironical emphasis,]

Well, in you go!
You'll find that you are i n for it, indeed.

Falk.

[Looking reflectively at him, says slowly.]

There is my program, furnished in a phrase.

[In a lively oiUbursL
N o w I have wakened from my dreaming days,
I've cast the die of life's supreme transaction,
I'll show you — else the devil take me —



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ACT I] LOVE'S COMEDY 375

GULDBTAD.

Pie,
No cursing; curses never scared a fly.

Falk.

Words, words, no more, but action, only action!
I will reverse the plan of the Creation ; —
Six days were lavished in that occupation;
My world's still lying void and desolate.
Hurrah, to-morrow, Sunday — I'll create!

GULDBTAD.

[Laiyhing,]

Yes, strip, and tackle it like a man, that's right!
But first go in and sleep on it. Good-night!

[Ooes out to the left. Svanhild appear* in the

room over the verandah; she shuts the window

and draws down the blind.

Falk.
No, first I'll act. I've slept too long and late.

[Looks up cd Svanhild 's window, and exclaims,
as if seized wUh a sudden resolution:
Good-night! Good-night! Sweet dreams to-night

be thine;
To-morrow, Svanhild, thou art plighted mine!

[Ches out quickly to the right; from the water
the Chobub is heard again.

Chorus.

Maybe I shaU shatter my roaming bark.
But it's passing sweet to be roaming!

[The boat slowly glides away as the curtain fatts.



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ACT SECOND

Sunday qflemoon. WeUrdressed ladies and gentlemen are
drinJcing coffee on the verandah. Several of the
guests appear through the open glass door in the goT"
den-room; the following song is heard from wiUUn.

Chorus.

Welcome, welcome, new plighted pair

To the merry ranks of the plighted !

Now you may revel as free as air,

Caress without stint and kiss without care^ —

No longer of footfall affrighted.

Now you are licensed, wherever you go,
To the rapture of cooing and billing;
Now you have leisure love's seed to sow,
Water, and tend it, and make it grow; —
Let us see youVe a talent for tilling!

Miss Jay.

[Within.]

Ah Lind, if I only had chanced to hear,
I would have teased you!

A Lady.

[Within.]

How vexatious thougliJ
376



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Acrnl LOVE'S COMEDY 377

Another Lady.
[In the doorway,]
Dear Anna, did he ask in writing ?



An Aunt.
Miss Jay.



No!



Mine did.



A Lady.

[On the verandah.]

How long has it been secret, dear?

[Runs into the room.

Miss Jay.
To-morrow there will be the ring to choose.

Ladies.
[Eagerly.]
Well take his measure!

Miss Jay.

Nay; that she must do.

Mrs. Strawman.
[On the verandahy to a lady who is busy wtth embroidery.]
What kind of knitting-needles do you use ?

A Servant.
[/it the door with a coffee-pot.]
More coffee, madam ?



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378 LOVE'S COMEDY Ucrn

A Lady.

Thanks, a drop or two.

Miss Jat.

[To Anna.]

How fortunate you've got your new manteau
Nesrt week to go your round of visits in!

An Elderly Lady.
[At the vnndow.]
Yfhen shall we go and order the trousseau ?

Mrs. Strawman.
How are they selling cotton-bombasine ?

A Gentleman.

[To some ladies on the verandah.]
Just look at Lind and Anna; what's his sport?

Ladies.
[With shrill ecsta^.]
Gracious, he kissed her glove!

Others.
[Similarly t springing wp^

No! Kiss'dit? Really?

Lind.
[Appears^ red and embarrassed, in the doorv)ay.]
O, stuff and nonsense! [Disappears.



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Acrul LOVE'S COMEDY S79

Miss Jay.

Yes, I saw it clearly.

Stiver.

[In the door^ with a coffee-cup in one hand and a bitcuii
in the other.]

The witnesses must not mislead the court;
I here make affidavit, they're in error.

Miss Jat.
[Within.]
Come forward, Anna; stand before this mirror!

Some Ladies.

[CaUing.]
You, too, Lind!

Miss Jay.

Back to back! A little nearer!

Ladies.

Come, let us see by how much she is short.

[All run into the garden-room; laughter and

shrill talk are heard for awhile from within.
[Falk, who during the preceding scene has been

walking about in the garden^ advances into

the foreground, stops and looks in until the

noise has somewhat abated.

Falk.

There love's romance is being done to death. —
The butcher once who boggled at the slaughter.
Prolonging needlessly the ox's breath, —



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S80 LOVE'S COMEDY [acth

He got his twenty days of bread and water;
But these — ^these butchers yonder — ^they go free.

[Clenches hiaJUi.
I oould be tempted — ; hold, words have no worthy
I've sworn it, action only from henceforth!

LlND.

[Coming hastily but catUumsly out.]

Thank 6od» they're talking fashions; now's my

chance
To slip away —

Falk.

Ha, Lind, you've drawn the priie
Of luek, — congratulations buzz and dance
All day about you, like a swarm of flies.

Lind.

i
They're all at heart so kindly and so nice;

But rather fewer clients would suffice.

Their helping hands begin to gall and fret me;

I'll get a moment's respite, if they'll let me.

[Ooing out io the right.

Falk.
Whither away ?

Lind.

Our den;— it has a lock;
In case you find the oak is sported, knock*

Falk.
But shall I not fetch Anna to you ?



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ACTii] LOVE'S COMEDY 881

LiND.

If she wants anything, she*U let me know.
Last night we were discussing until late;
We've settled almost everything of weight;
Besides I think it scarcely goes with piety
To have too much of one's beloved's society*

Falk.

Yes, you are right; for daily food we need -^
A simple diet.

LiND.

Pray excuse me, friend.
I want a whiflf of reason and the weed;
I haven't smoked for three whole days on end.
My blood was pulsing in such agitation,
I trembled for rejection all the time —

Falk.
Yes, you may well desire recuperation —

LiND.

And won't tobacco's flavour be sublime!

]fjtoea otU to the right. Miss Jat and dome other
Ladies come ovi of the garderirroom.

Miss Jay.
[To Falk.]
That was he surely?

Falk.

Yes, your hunted deer.



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d8S LOVE'S COMEDY [acth

Ladies.
To run away from us!

Othebs.

For shame! For shame f

Falk.

*Tis a bit shy at present, but, no fear,
A week of servitude will make him tame.

Miss Jay.
[Looking round,]
"Where is he hid ?

Falk.

His present hiding-place
Is in the garden loft, our common lair; [BlandJy.

But let me beg you not to seek him there;
Give him a breathing time!

Miss Jay.

Well, good: the grace
Will not be long, tho\

Falk.

Nay, be generous!
Ten minutes, — then begin the game again.
He has an English sermon on the brain.

Miss Jay.
An English — ?



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Acrnl LOVE'S COMEDY 88S

Ladies.
O you laugh! You're fooling usf

Falk.

I'm in grim earnest. 'Tis his fixed intention
To take a charge among the emigrants.
And therefore —

Miss Jat.

[With horror]

Heavens, he had the face to mention
That mad idea ? [To the ladies.

O quick — ^fetch all the aunts!
Anna, her mother, Mrs. Strawman too.

Ladies.
[Agitated.]
This must be stopped !

All.

We'll make a great ado!

Miss Jay.
Thank God, they're coming.

[To Anna, who comes from the garden-room
with Strawman, his wife and children^
Stiver, Guldstad, Mbs. Halm and the
other guests.

Miss Jay.

Do you know what Lind
Has secretly determined in hb mind ?
To go as missionary —



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384 LOVE'S CX)MEDY Ucra

Anna.

Yes, I know.

Mb8. Halic.
And youVe agreed — !

Anna.

[Embarrassed.]

That I will also go.

MiBB Jat.

[Indignani.]

He's talked this stuff to you!

Ladies.
[Clasping their hands together.]

What tyranny!

Falk.
But think, his Call that would net be denied — I

Miss Jat.

Tut, that's what people follow when they're free:
A bridegroom follows nothing but his bride. —
No, my sweet Anna, ponder, I entreat:
You, reared in comfort from your earliest breath — ?

Falk.
Yet, sure, to suffer for the faith is sweet!



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Acrn] LOVE'S COMEDY S85

Miss Jat.

Is one to suffer for one's bridegroom's faith ?
That is a rather novel point of view.

[To the ladies.

Ladies, attend ! rm i a »

[Takes Anna s arm.

Now listen; then repeat
For his instruction what he has to do.

[They go into the background and out to the right
in eager talk with several of the ladies; the
other guests disperse in groups about the
garden. Falk stops Stbawman, whose wife
and children keep close to him. Guldbtad
goes to and fro during the following convert
saiion.

Falk.

Come, pastor, help young fervour in its fight»
Before they lure Miss Anna from her vows.

Stbawman.

[In clerical cadence.]

The wife must be submissive to the spouse; —

[R^lecUng.
But if I apprehended him aright.
His Call's a problematical affair.
The Offering altogether in the air —

Falk.

Pray do not judge so rashly. I can give
You absolute assurance, as I live.
His Call is definite and incontestable —



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886 LOVE'S COMEDY [act n

Strawman.
[Seeing it in a new l%gkt![

Ah — if there's something fixed — investable —
Per annum — then I've nothing more to say.

Falk.
[IfnpatienUy.\

You think the most of what I count the least;
I mean the inspiration , — not the p a y I

Strawman.
\Wilh an unctuous smile^

Pay is the first condition of a priest

In Asia, Africa, America,

Or where you will. Ah yes, if he were free.

My dear young friend, I willingly agree.

The thing might pass; but, being pledged and bound.

He'll scarcely find the venture very sound.

Reflect, he's young and vigorous, sure to found

A little family in time; assume his will

To be the very best on earth — but still

The means, my friend — i 'Build not upon the

sand,'
Says Scripture. If, upon the other hand.
The Oflfering—

Falk.

That's no trifle, I'm aware.

Strawman.

Ah, come — ^that wholly alters the affair.
When men are zealous in their Offering,
And liberal —



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Acrn] LOVE'S COMEDY 887

Falk.
There he far surpasses most.

Strawman.

"He" say you ? How ? In virtue of hb post
The Offering is not what he has to bring
But what he has to get.

Mrs. Strawman.
[Looking towards the background.]

They're sitting there.

Talk.

[After staring a moment in amazemsni^ suddenly under-
stands and bursts out laughing.]

Hurrah for Offerings — the ones that caper
And strut — on Holy-days — in bulging paper!

Strawman.

All the year round the curb and bit we bear,

But Whitsuntide and Christmas make things square.

Falk.

[OaUy.]

Why then, provided only there's enough of it.
Even family-founders will obey their Calls.

Strawman.

Of course; a man assured the quantum suff. of it
Will preach the Gospel to the cannibals.

\&otio voce.



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888 LOVE'S COMEDY Ucrn

Now I must see if she cannot be led,

[To one of the UUle girls.
My little Mattie, fetch me out my head —
My pipe-head I should say, my little dear —

[Feels in kis coat-tail pocket.
Nay, wait a moment tho': I have it here.

[Ches across and jUls his pipe^ followed by his
wife and children,

GULDSTAD.

[Approaching.]

You seem to play the part of serpent in
This paradise of lovers.

Falk.

O, the pips
Upon the tree of knowledge are too green
To be a lure for anybody's lips.

[To LiND, who comes in from the right.
Ha,Lind!

LiND.

In Heaven's name, who's been ravaging
Our sanctum ? There the lamp lies dashed
To pieces, curtain dragged to floor, pen smashed,
And on the mantelpiece the ink pot splashed —

Falk.

[Clapping him on the shoulder.]

This wreck's the first announcement of my spring;
No more behind drawn curtains I will sit.
Making pen poetry with lamp alit;



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Acrn] LOVE'S COMEDY ' S89

My dull domestic poetising's done»

I'll walk by day, and glory in the sun:

My spring has come, my soul has broken free.

Action henceforth shall be my poetry.

LiND.

Make poetry of what you please for me;
But how if Mrs. Halm should take amiss
Your breaking of her furniture to pieces f

Falk.

What! — ^she, who lays her daughters and her nieces
Upon the altar of her boarders' bliss, —
She frown at such a bagatelle as this!

LiND.

[Angrily.]

It's utterly outrageous and unfair.

And compromises me as well as you!

But that's her business, settle it with her.

The lamp was mine, tho', shade and burner too-*

Falk.

Tut, on that head, I've no account to render;
You have God's summer sunshine in its splendour,* - '
What would you with the lamp ?

LiND.

You are grotesque;
You utterly forget that summer passes;
If I'm to make a figure in my classes
At Christmas I must buckle to my desk.



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390 LOVE'S COMEDY [act n

Falk.
[Staring at him!\
What, you look forward ?

LiND.

To be sure I do.
The examination's amply worth it too.

Falk.

Ah but — you *only sit and live' — remember!
Drunk with the moment, you demand no more —
Not even a modest third-class next December.
You've caught the bird of Fortune fair and fleet.
You feel as if the world with all its store
Were scattered in profusion at your feet.

LiND.

Those were my words; they must be understood.
Of course, cum grano scdis —

Falk.

Very good!

LiND.

In the forenoons I will enjoy my bliss;
That I am quite resolved on —

Falk.

Daring man!

LiND.

I have my round of visits to the clan;
Time will run anyhow to waste in this;



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ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 391

But any further dislocation of

My study-plan I strongly disapprove.

Falk.

A week ago, however, you were bent

On going out into God's world with song.

LiND.

Yes, but I thought the tour a little long;
The fourteen days might well be better spent.

Falk

Nay, but you had another argument
For staying; how the lovely dale for you
Was mountain air and winged warble too.

LiND.

Yes, to be sure, this air is unalloyed;
But all its benefits may be enjoyed
Over one's book without the slightest bar.

Falk.

But it was just the Book which failed, you see.
As Jacob's ladder —

LiND.

How perverse you arej
That is what people say when they are f r e e —

Falk.

[Looking at him and folding his hands in silent ama»-^

ment.]
Thou abo, Brutus!



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SW LOVE'S COMEDY [act n

LiND.

[With a shade qfconfurion and annoyanee!\

Vnj remember, do!
That I have other duties now than you;
I have my fiancee. Every plighted pair.
Those of prolonged experience not exceed, —
Whose evidence you would not wish rejected, —
Will tell you, that if two are bound to hu«
Through life together, they must —

Falk.

Prithee ^Mire
The comment; who supplied it?

LiND.

Well, well say
Stiver, he's honest surely; and Miss Jay,
Who has such very great experience here,
She says —

Falk.

Well, but the Parson and his — dear ?

LiND.

Yes, they're remarkable. There broods above
Them such placidity, such quietude, —
Conceive, she can't remember being wooed.
Has quite forgotten what is meant by love.

Falk.

Ah yes, when one has slumber'd over long.
The birds of memory refuse their song.

[Laying his hand on Lind's shoulder, toiih an
ironical look.
You, Lind, slept sound last night, I guarantee i



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Acrnl LOVE'S COMEDY 898

LiND.

And long. I went to bed in such depression.
And yet with such a fever in my brain»
I almost doubted if I could be sane.

Falk.
Ah yes, a sort of witchery, you see.

LiND.

Thank God I woke in perfect self-possession.

[During the foregoing scene Strawman has been
seen from time to Hms walking in the badc^
ground in lively conversation with Anna;
Mb8. Stbawman and the children foUow.
Miss Jat now appears also, cmd with her
Mbs. Halm and other ladies.

Miss Jat.
[Before she enters.]
Ah, Mr. Lind.

LiND.

[To Falk.]

They're after me again!
Come, let us go.

Miss Jat.

Nay, nay, you must remain.
Let us make speedy end of the division
That has crept in between your love and you.

Lind.
Are we divided ?



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394 LOVE'S COMEDY Ucth

Miss Jat.

[Pointing to Anna, who is standing further off in itu

garden.]

Gather the decision
From yon red eyes. The foreign mission drew
Those tears.

LiND.

But heavens, she was glad to go —

Miss Jat.

[Scoffing.]

Yes, to be sure, one would imagine so!
No, my dear Lind, you'll take another view
When you have heard the whole affair discussed.

Lind.

But then this warfare for the faith, you know.
Is my most cherished dream!

Miss Jat.

O who would bufld
On dreaming in this century of light ?
Why, Stiver had a dream the other night;
There came a letter singularly sealed —

Mrs. Strawman.
It's treasure such a dream prognosticates.

Miss Jat.

[Nodding.]
Yes, and next day they sued him for the rates.

[The ladies make a circle round Lind and go in
conversation vrith him into the garden.



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ACT II] LOVE'S COMEDY 39*

Strawhan.

[Continuing, to Anna, who faintly tries to escape.]

From these considerations, daughter mine,
From these considerations, buttressed all
With reason, morals, and the Word Divine,
You now perceive that to desert your Call
Were absolutely inexcusable.

Anna.
[Half crying.]
Oh! I'm so young —

Stbawman.

And it is natural,
I own, that one should hesitate to thrid
These perils, dare the snares that there lie hid;
From doubt's entanglement you must break free,—
Be of good cheer and follow Moll and me I

Mbs. Strawman.

Yes, your dear mother tells me that I too
Was just as inconsolable as you
When we received our Call —

Strawman.

And for like cause—
The fascination of the town — it was;
But when a little money had come in.
And the first pairs of infants, twin by twin.
She quite got over it.



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396 LOVE'S COMEDY [actu

Faia.

[Sotto voce to Strawman.]

Bravo, you able
Persuader.

Stbawman.
[Nodding to him and turning again to Anna.]

Now you've promised me, be stable.
Shall man renounce his work ? Falk says the CaU
Is not so very slender after all.
Did you not, Falk?

Falk.
Nay, pastor —

Strawman.

To be sure — !
[To Anna.
Of something then at least you are secure.
What's gained by giving up, if that is so ?
Look back into the ages long ago,
See, Adam, Eve — the Ark, see, pair by pair.
Birds in the field — the lilies in the air.
The little birds— the little birds— the fishes—

[Continues in a lower tone, as he wiihdraws
with Anna.
[Miss Jat and the Aunts return with Lind.]

Falk.

Hurrah! Here come the veterans in array;
The old guard charging to retrieve the day!



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Acrnl LOVE'S COMEDY 887

Miss Jat.
Ah, in exact accordance with our wishes! [Aside.

We have him, Falk! — Now let us tackle her!

[Approaches Anna.

Strawman.

[With a deprecating motion.]

She needs no secular solicitation;
The Spirit has spoken, what can Earth bestead — ?

[ModesUy.
If in some small d^^ree my words have sped.
Power was vouchsafed me — !

Mbs. Halm.

Come, no more evasion.
Bring them together!

Aunts.
[With emotion.]

Ah, how exquisite!

Stbawman.

Yes, can there be a heart so dull and dead
As not to be entranced at such a sight!
It is so thrilling and so penetrating.
So lacerating, so exhilarating,
To see an innocent babe devoutly lay
Its offering on Duty's altar.
/
Mbs. Halm.

Nay,
Her family have also done their part.



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S98 LOVE'S COMEDY [act a

Miss Jat.

I and the Aunts — I should imagine so.

You, Lind, may have the key to Anna's heart,

[Presses his hand.
But we possess a picklock, you must know,
Able to open where the key avails not.
And if in years to come, cares throng and thwart.
Only apply to us, our friendship fails not.

Mrs. Halm.
Yes, we shall hover round you all your life, —

Miss Jat.
And shield you from the fiend of wedded strife.

Strawman.

Enchanting group! Love, friendship, hour of glad*

ness,
Yet so pathetically touched with sadness.

[Turning to Lind.
But now, yoimg man, pray make an end of this.

[heeding Anna to him.
Take thy betrothed — ^receive her — ^with a kiss!

LiND.

[Qiving his hand to Anna.]
I stay at home!

Anna.
[At the same moment.]
I go with you!



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ACTU] LOVE'S COMEDY 890

Anna.
[Amazed.]
You stay ?

LiND.

[EqiuUly so.]

You go with me P

Anna.
[With a helpless glance at the com/pany^
Why, then, we are divided as before!

LiND.

What's this?

The Ladies.
What now?

Miss Jat.

[Excitedly.]

Our wills are all at war —

Strawman

She gave her solemn word to cross the sea
With him!

Miss Jat.

And he gave his to slay ashore
With her!

Falk.

[Laxighing^
They both complied; what would you more!



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400 LOVE'S COMEDY [act n

Stbawman.

These complications are too much for me.

[Ooes towards the backgnmnd.

AUNTB

[To one another.]
How in the world came they to disagree?

Mbs. Halm.

[To GuLDBTAD and Stiver, who have been walking
in the garden and now approach.]

The spirit of discord's in possession here.

[TaUce aside to thnr^

Mbs. Strawmax.

[To Miss Jat, noticing that the table is being laid.]
There comes the tea.

Miss Jat.

[CuHly:]

Thank heaven.

Falk.

Hurrah! a cheer
For love and friendship, maiden aunts and tea!

Stiver.

But if the case stands thus, the whole proceeding

May easily be ended with a laugh;

All turns upon a single paragraph.

Which bids the wife attend the spouse. No pleading

Can wrest an ordinance so clearly stated —



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AC?rnl LOVE'S COMEDY 401

Miss Jat.
Doubtless, but does that help us to agree ?

Stbawman.
She must obey a law that heaven dictated.

Stivbb.
But Lind can circumveiit that law, you see.

[To Lind.
Put off your journey, and then — budge no jot.

Aunts.
[Delighied.]
Yta, that's the way.

Mrs. Halm.
Agreed!

Miss Jat.

That cuts the knot.
[SvANHiLD and the maids fuive meantime laid
the tea-table beside the verandah steps. At
Mbs. Halm's invitation the ladies sit down.
The rest of the company take their places,
partly on the verandah and in the summer"
house, partly in the garden. Falk sits on the
verandah. During the following scene they
drink tea.

Mbs. Halm.
[Smiling.'l

And so our little storm is overblown.

Such summer showers do good when they are gone;



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408 LOVE« COMEDY [act n

The sunshine greets us with a double boon.
And promises a cloudless afternoon.

Miss Jat.


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Online LibraryEdmund GosseThe collected works of Henrik Ibsen, Volume 1 → online text (page 17 of 21)