Edmund Gosse.

The collected works of Henrik Ibsen, Volume 1 online

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We stand unshaken, for we stand together!

[Mbs. Halm and Guldstad come in from the
right in the background.

Guldstad.
[Aside.]
Observe!

[Falk and Svanhild remain Handing by the
eumm/er-houee.

Mbs. Halm.
[iSwrpmed.]
Together!



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A.crin] LOVE'S COMEDY 453

GULDBTAD.

Do you doubt it now?

Mrs. Halm.
This is most singular.

GULDSTAD.

O, I've noted how
His work of late absorbed his interest.

Mbs. Halm.

[To herself.]
Who would have fancied Svanhild was so sly?

[Vivaciouely to Guldstad.
But no — ^I can't think.

Guldstad.

Put it to the test.

Mbs. Halm.
Now, on the spot ?

Guldstad.

Yes, and decisively !

Mbs. HAUtf.
[diving him her hand.]
God's blessing with you!

Guldstad.
[Gravely.]

Thanks, it may bestead.
[Comes to the front.

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454 LOVE'S COMEDY [act in

Mrs. ELa.lm.

[Looking back as she goes towards the house^

Whichever way it goes, my child is sped.

[Ooesin.

GULDSTAD.

[Approaching Falk.]
It's late, I think?

Falk.
Ten minutes and I go.

GuLDSTAD.

Sufficient for my purpose.

Syanhild.

[Ching.]

Farewell.

GULDSTAD.



Remain.



No,



SVANHILD.

Shall I?

GULDBTAD.

Until you've answered me.
It's time we squared accounts. It's time we three
Talked out for once together from the heart.

Falk.

[Taken aback.]
We three ?



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ACT III] LOVERS COMEDY 455

GuLtMSTAD.

Yes, — all disguises flung apart.

Falk.
[Suppressing a smUe.]
O, at your service.

GULDSTAD.

Very good, then hear.
We*ve been acquainted now for half a year;
We've wrangled —

Falk.

Yes.

GuLDSTAD.

We've been in constant feud;
We've changed hard blows enough. You fought —

alone —
For a sublime ideal; I as one
Among the money-grubbing multitude.
And yet it seemed as if a chord united
Us two, as if a thousand thoughts that lay
Deep in my own youth's memory benighted
Had started at your bidding into day.
Yes, I amaze you. But this hair grey-sprinkled
Once fluttered brown in spring-time, and this brow»
Which daily occupation moistens now
With sweat of labour, was not always wrinkled*
Enough; I am a man of business, hence —

Falk.
[With gentle earcaem.]

You are the type of practical good sense*



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4M LOVE'S COMEDY [act m

GUUMSTTAD.

And yoa are hope's own singer young and fain.

[Stepping between then^
Just therefore, Falk and Svanhild, I am here.
Now let us talk, then; for the hour is near
Which brings good hap or sorrow in its train.

Falk.

[/n suspense^
Speak, then!

GULDSTAD.

[SmiUng^

My ground is, as I said last night*
A kind of poetry —

Falk.

In practice.

GuLDSTAD.

[Nodding dcywly^

Rightl

Falk.
And if one asked the source from which you drew — ?

GuLDSTAD.

{Olandng a moment at Svanhild, and then turning again
to Falk.]

A common source discovered by us two.

Svanhild.
Now I must go.



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ACT raj LOVE« COMEDY 457

GULDSTAD.

No, wait till I conclude.
I should not ask so much of others. You,
Svanhild, I've learnt to fathom thro' and thro';
You are too sensible to play the prude.
I watched expand, unfold, your little life;
A perfect woman I divined within you.
But long I only saw a daughter in you; —
Now I ask of you — will you be my wife ?

[SvANUiLD draws back in embarrassmmL

Palk.

[Seizing his arm.]
Hold!

GuLDSTAD.

Patience; she must answer. Put your own
Question; — then her decision will be free

Falk.
I — do you say ?

GuLDSTAD.

[Looking steadily at him.]

The happiness of three
Lives is at stake to-day, — not mine alone.
Don't fancy it concerns you less than me;
For tho' base matter is my chosen sphere,
Yet nature made me something of a seer.
Yes, Falk, you love her. Gladly, I confess,
I saw your young love bursting into flower.
But this young passion, with its lawless power,
May be the ruin of her happiness.



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I



Years give right.



458 LOVE'S COMEDY iact m

Falk.
[Firing up.]
You have the face to say so ?

GULDSTAD.

[Quietly.]

Say now you won her —

Falk.
[DefianUy.]

And what then?

GuLDSTAD.

[Slowly and emphatically.]

Yes,
She ventured in one bottom to embark
Her all, her all upon one card to play> —
And then life's tempest swept the ship away.
And the flower faded as the day grew dark ?

Famc.

[Involuntarily.]
She must not!

GuLDSTAD.

[Looking ai him with meaning.]

Hm. So I myself decided
When I was young, like you. In days of old
I was afire for one. Our paths divided.
Last night we met again; — ^the fire was cold.



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ACT III] LOVE'S COMEDY 459

Falk.
Last night?

GULDBTAD.

Last night. You know the parson's dame —

Falk.
What ? It was she, then, who —

GULDSTAD.

Who lit the flame.
Long I remembered her with keen r^^t.
And still in my remembrance she arose
As the young lovely woman that she was
When in life's buoyant spring-time first we met.
And that same foolish fire you now are fain
To light, that game of hazard you would dare.
See, that is why I call to you — ^beware!
The game is perilous! Pause, and think again!

Falk.

No, to the whole tea-caucus I declared
My fixed and unassailable belief —

GuLDSTAD.

[Completing his senience,]

That heartfelt love can weather unimpaired
Custom, and Poverty, and Age, and Grief.
Well, say it be so; possibly you're right;
But see the matter in anotiier light.
What love is, no man ever told us — whence
It issues, that ecstatic confidence



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460 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ra

That one life may fulfil itself in two, —
To this no mortal ever found the clue.
But marriage is a practical concern,
As also is betrothal, my good sir —
And by experience easily we learn
That we are fitted just for her, or her.
But love, you know, goes blindly to its fate.
Chooses a woman, not a wife, for mate;
And what if now this chosen woman was
No wife for you — ?

Palk.

[In suspense.]
Well?

GULDSTAD.

[Shrugging his shoulders.]

Then you've lost your cause.
To make a happy bridegroom and a bride
Demands not love alone, but much beside.
Relations one can meet with satisfaction.
Ideas that do not wholly disagree.
And marriage ? Why, it is a very sea
Of claims and calls, of taxing and exaction.
Whose bearing upon love is very small.
Here mild domestic virtues are demanded,
A kitchen soul, inventive and neat handed.
Making no claims, and executing all; —
And much which in a lady's presence I
Can hardly with decorum specify.

Falk.

And therefore — ?



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ACTin] LOVE'S COMEDY 461

GULDSTAD.

Hear a golden counsel then.
Use your experience; watch your fellow-men.
How every loving couple struts and swaggers
Like millionaires among a world of beggars.
They scamper to the altar, lad and lass,
They make a home and, drunk with exidtation.
Dwell for awhile within its walls of glass.
Then comes the day of redconing; — out, alas.
They're bankrupt, and their house in liquidation!
Bankrupt the bloom of youth on woman's brow.
Bankrupt the flower of passion in her breast.
Bankrupt the husband's battle-ardour now.
Bankrupt each spark of passion he possessed.
Bankrupt the whole estate, below, above, —
And yet this broken pair were once confessed
A first-class house In all the wares of love*

Falk.

[VehemenUy.]
That is a lie!

GULDSTAD.

[Unmoved,]

Some hours ago 'twas true
However. I have only quoted you; —
In these same words you challenged to the field
The "caucus" with love's name upon your shield.
Then rang repudiation fast and thick
From all directions, as from you at present;
Incredible, I know; who finds it pleasant
To hear the name of death when he is sick ?
Look at the priest! A painter and composer



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462 LOVE'S COMEDY (actt m

Of taste and spirit when he wooed his bride; —
What wonder if the man became a proser
When she was snugly settled by his side?
T6 be his lady-love she was most fit;
To be his wife, tho* — not a bit of it.
And then the clerk» who once wrote clever numbers t
No sooner was the gallant plighted, fixed.
Than all his rhymes ran counter and got mixed;
And now his Muse continuously slumbers,
LuUabied by the law's eternal hum.
Thus you see — [Looks at Syanhild.

Are you cold ?

SVANHILD.

[So/Uy.]

No.

Falk.
[Wtih forced humour.]

Since the sum
Works out a minus then in every case
And never shows a p 1 u s, — ^why should you be
So resolute your capital to place
In such a questionable lotteiy ?
It almost looks as if you fancied Fate
Had meant you for a bankrupt from your birth ?

GULDSTAD.

[Looks at himy smiles^ and shakes his head.]

My bold young Falk, reserve a while your mirth.—
There are two ways of founding an estate.
It may be built on credit — drafts long-dated
On pleasure in a never-ending bout,
On perpetuity of youth unbated.



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ACT in] LOVE'S COMEDY 463

And permanent postponement of the gout.

It may be built on lips of rosy red.

On sparkling eyes and locks of flowing gold.

On trust these glories never will be shed.

Nor the dread hour of periwigs be tolled.

It may be built on thoughts that glow and quiver, —

Flowers blowing in the sandy wilderness, —

On hearts that, to the end of life, for ever

Throb with the passion of the primal "yes."

To dealings such as this the world extends

One epithet: 'tis known as "humbug," friends.

Falk.

I see, you are a dangerous attorney.

You — ^well-to-do, a millionaire, maybe;

While two broad backs could cany in one journey

All that beneath the sun belongs to me.

GULDBTAD.

[SAarp/y.]
What do you mean ?

Falk.

That is not hard to see.
For the sound way of building, I suppose.
Is just with cash - -the wonder-working paint
That round the widow's batten'd forehead throws
The aureole of a young adored saint.

GULDSTAD.

O no, 'tis something better that I meant.
'Tis the still flow of generous esteem.



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464 LOVE'S COMEDY rAcrm

Which no less honours the recipient

Than does young rapture's giddy-whirling dream.

It is the feeling of the blessedness

Of service, and home quiet, and tender ties.

The joy of mutual self-sacrifice, |

Of keeping watch lest any stone distress I

Her footsteps wheresoever her pathway lies;

It is the healing arm of a true friend.

The manly muscle that no burdens bend,

The constancy no length of years decays.

The arm that stoutly lifts and firmly stays.

This, Svanhild, is the contribution I

Bring to your fortune's fabric: now, reply.

[Svanhild makes an effort to apeak; Guldstao
lifts his hand to check her.
Consider well before you give your voice!
With clear deliberation make your choice.

Falk.
And how have you discovered —

GULDSTAD.

That you love her?
That in your eyes 'twas easy to discover.
Let her too know it. [Presses his hcmd.

Now I will go in.
Let the jest cease and earnest work begin;
And if you undertake that till the end
You'll be to her no less a faithful friend,
A staff to lean on, and a help in need,
Than I can be— [Turning to Svanhild.

Why, good, my offer's nought;
Cancel it from the tables of your thought



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ACT III] LOVE'S COMEDY 465

Then it is I who triumph in very deed;
You're happy, and for nothing else I fought.

[ToFalk..
And, apropos — ^just now you spoke of cash,
Trust me, 'tis little more than tinsell'd trash.
I have no ties, stand perfectly alone;
To you I will make over all I own;
My daughter she shall be, and you my son.
You know I have a business by the border:
There I'll retire, you set your home in order.
And we'll foregather when a year is gone.
Now, Falk, you know me; with the same precision
Observe yourself: the voyage down life's stream.
Remember, is no pastime and no dream.
Now, in the name of God — make your decision !
[Ooes into the house. Pause. Falk and Svan-
HiLD look shyly at each other.



You are so pale.



Falk.

svanhild.

And you so silent.

Falk.



True.



Svanhild.
He smote us hardest.



Falk.
[To himself.]

Stole my armour, too.



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466 LOVE'S COMEDY [act in

SVANHILD.

What blows he struck!

Falk.

He knew to place them well.

SVANHILD.

All seemed to go to pieces where they fell.

[Coming nearer to him.
How rich in one another's wealth before
We were, when all had left us in despite,
And Thought rose upward like the echoing roar
Of breakers in the silence of the night.
With exultation then we faced the fray,
And confidence that Love is lord of death; —
He came with worldly cunning, stole our faith.
Sowed doubt, — and all the glory pass'd away!

Falk.

[With wild vehemence.]

Tear, tear it from thy memory ! All his talk
Was true for others, but for us a lie!

SVANHILD.

[Slowly shaking her head.]

The golden grain, hail-stricken on its stalk»
Will never more wave wanton to the sky.

Falk.

[With an outburst of anguish.}
Yes, we two, Svanhild — !



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Acrra] LOVE'S COMEDY 467

SVANHILD.

Hence with hopes that snare 1
If you sow falsehood) you must reap despair.
For others true» you say ? And do you doubt
That each of them, like us, is sure, alike»
That he's the man the lightning will not strike.
And no avenging thunder will find out.
Whom the blue storm-cloud, scudding up the sky
On wings of tempest, never can come nigh ?

Palk.

The others split their souls on scattered ends:
Thy single love my being comprehends.
They're hoarse with yelling in life's Babel din:
I in this quiet shelter fold thee in.

SVANHILD.

But if love, notwithstanding, should decay,
• — Love being Happiness's single stay —
Could you avert, then, Happiness's fall ?

Falk.
No, my love's ruin were the wreck of all.

SVANHILD.

And can you promise me before the Lord
That it will last, not drooping like the flower.
But smell as sweet as now till life's last hour?

Falk.

[After a short paiiae.]
It will last long.



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468 LOVE'S COMEDY Ucrm

SVANHILD.

[With anguish.]

"Long!** "Long!"— Poor starveling word!
Can "long" give any comfort in Love's need ?
It is her death-doom, blight upon her seed.
"My faith is, Love will never pass away" —
That song must cease, and in its stead be heard:
"My faith is, that I loved you yesterday!"

[As uplified by insfiration.
No, no, not thus our day of bliss shall wane.
Flag drearily to west in clouds and rain; —
But at high noontide, when it is most bright.
Plunge sudden, like a meteor, into night!

Palk.

[In anguish,]
What would you, Svanhild ?

SVANHILD.

We are of the Spring;
No Autumn shall come after, when the bird
Of music in thy breast shall not be heard,
And long not thither where it first took wing.
Nor ever Winter shall his snowy shroud
Lay on the clay-cold body of our bliss; —
This Love of ours, ardent and glad and proud.
Pure of disease's taint and age's cloud.
Shall die the young and glorious thing it is!

Falk.

[In deep pain.]

And far from thee — what would be left of life ?



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Acrni] LOVE'S COMEDY 469

SVANHILD.

And near me what were left — if Love depart?

Falk.
A home!

SVANHILD.

Where Joy would gasp in mortal strife.

[Firmly.
It was not given to me to be your wife.
That is the clear conviction of my heart!
In courtship's merry pastime I can lead, ^ j
But not sustain your spirit in its need. J

[Nearer and with gathering fire.
Now we have revell'd out a feast of spring;
No thought of slumber's sluggard couch come nigh !
Let Joy amid delirious song make wing
And flock with choirs of cherubim on high.
And tho' the vessel of our fate capsize.
One plank yet breasts the waters, strong to save; —
The fearless swimmer reaches Paradise!
Let Joy go down into his watery grave;
Our Love shall yet in triumph, by God's hand.
Be borne from out the wreckage safe to land !

Falk.

O, I divine thee! But — to sever thus!

Now, when the portals of the world stand wide, —

When the blue spring is bending over us.

On the same day that plighted thee my bride!

SVANHILD.

Just therefore must we part. Our joy's torch fire
Will from this moment wane till it expire!



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470 LOVE'S COMEDY [act ra

And when at last our worldly days are spent.

And face to face with our great Judge we stand.

And, as a righteous God, he shall demand

Of us the earthly treasure that he lent —

Then, Falk, we cry — ^past power of Grace to save—

"O Lord, we lost it going to the grave!"

Falk.
[With strong resolve.]
Pluck off the ring!

SVANHILD.

[Wtthjire.]
Wilt thou?

Falk.

Now I divine!
Thus and no otherwise canst thou be mine!
As the grave opens into life's Dawn-fire,
So Love with Life may not espoused be
Till, loosed from longing and from wild desire.
It soars into the heaven of memoiy!
Pluck off the ring, Svanhild !

SVANHILD.

\In rapture.]

My task is done!
Now I have filled thy soul with song and sun.
Forth! Now thou soarest on triumphant wings, —
Forth! Now thy Svanhild is the swan that sings!
[Takes off the ring aiii presses a kiss upon it
To tiie abysmal ooze of ocean bed



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ACT III] LOVE'S COMEDY 471

Descend, my dream! — I fling thee in its stead!

[Goes a few steps back^ throws the ring into the
fjord, and approcushes Falk vnth a transfig'
ured expression.
Now for this earthly life I have foregone thee,—
But for the life eternal I have won thee!

Falk.
[Firmly.}

And now to the day's duties, each, alone.

Our paths no more will mingle. Each must wage

His warfare single-handed, without moan.

We caught the fevered frenzy of the age.

Fain without fighting to secure the spoil.

Win Sabbath ease, and shirk the six days' toil,

Tho' we are called to strive and to forego.

SVANHILD.

But not in sickness.

Falk.

No, — made strong by truth.
Our heads no penal flood will overflow;
This never-dying memory of our youth
Shall gleam against the cloud-wrack like the bow
Of promise flaming in its colours seven, —
Sign that we are in harmony with heaven.
That gleam your quiet duties shall make bright —

SVANHILD.

And speed the poet in his upward flight!



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472 LOVE'S COMEDY [act in

Falk.

The poet, yes; for poets all men are
Who see, thro' all their labours, mean or great.
In pulpit or in schoolroom, church or state.
The Ideal's lone beacon-splendour flame afar.
Yes, upward is my flight; the winged steed
Is saddled; I am strong for noble deed.
And now farewell!

SVANHILD.

Farewell!

Falk.
[Embracing her.]

One kiss!

SVANHILD.

The last!
[Tears herself /ree.
Now I can lose thee gladly till life's past!

Falk.

Tho' quenched were all the light of earth and sky, —
The thought of light is God, and cannot die.

SvANHILD.

[Withdrawing towards the background.]
Farewell! [Ooes further.

Falk,

Farewell — gladly I cry again —

[Waves his hat



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ACTiii] LOVE'S COMEDY 473

Hurrah for love, God's glorious gift to men!

[Ths door opens. Falr withdraws to the right;
the younger guests come out with merry
laughter.

The Young Gibus.
A lawn dance!

A Young Girl.
Dancing's life!

Another.

A garland spread
With dewy blossoms fresh on every head!

Several.
Yes, to the dance, the dance!

All.

And ne'er to bed !

[SnvER com£s oui with Strawman arm in arm.
Mrs. Strawman and the children follow.

Stiver.
Yes, you and I henceforward are fast friends.

Strawman.
Allied in battle for our common ends.

Stiver.
When the twin forces of the State agree —

Strawman.
They add to all men's —



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474 LOVE'S COMEDY [act lu

SnvER.
IHoHUy.]

Gains I

SnuwiiAN.

And gaiety.
[Mrs. EkLM, Iakd, Anna, Guldstad, and
Miss Jat, vnth the other guesU^ come oiU.
AU eyes are turned upon Falk and Svanhild.
Oeneral amazement when they are seen stand -
ing apart.

Miss Jat.
[Among the Aunts, clasping her hands^
What! Am I awake or dreaming, pray?

LiND.

\Who has noticed nothing,]

I have a brother's compliments to pay*

[He^ wUh the other guests^ approaches Falk, but
starts involuntarily and steps hack on looking
ai him. '

What is the matter with you ? You're a Janus

With double face!

Falk.

I cry, like old Montanus,^
The earth is flat. Messieurs; — my optics lied;
Flat as a pancake — are you satisfied?

[6o6^ quickly out to the right.
> See Notes, page 484.



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ACT III] LOVE'S COMEDY 475

Miss Jat.
Refused!

The Aumtb.
Refused!

Mrs. Halm.

Hush, ladies, if you please!
[Ooes acroM to Svanhild.

Mrs. Strawman.

[To Strawman.]
Fancy, refused!

Strawbcan.
It cannot be!

Miss Jay.

It is!

The Ladies.

[From motUh to mouth.]

Refused! Refused! Refused!

[Tliey gather in litUe groups aboui the garden.

SnvBR.
[Dutnfounded,]

He courting? How?

Strawman.

Yes. think! He laugh'd at us, ha, ha— but now —
I They gaze at each other epeechlees.



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476 LOVE'S COMEDY [act lu

Anna.

[To LiND.]

That's good! He was too horrid, to be surel

LiND.

[Embracing her.]

Hurrah, now thou art mine, entire and whole.

[They go ouiside into the garden.

GULDSTAD.

[Looking back towards Svanhild.]

Something is shattered in a certain soul;
But what is yet alive in it 1*11 cure.

Stbawman.

[Recovering himself and embracing SnYER.]

Now then, you can be very well contented
To have your deaa fiancee for a spouse.

Stiveb.

And you complacently can see your house
With little Strawmans every year augmented.

Stbawman.

[Rvbbing his hands with satisfaction and looking after

Falk.]
Insolent fellow! Well, it served him right; —
Would all these knowing knaves were in his plight!
[They go across in conversation; Mbs. Halm
approaches with Svanhild.



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ACTiiil LOVERS COMEDY 477

Mrs. Halm.
[Aside, eagerly.]
And nothing binds you ?

SVANHILD.

Nothing.

Mbs. Halm.

Goody you know
A daughter's duty —

SVANHILD.

Guide me, I obey.

Mbs. Halm.

Thanks, child. [Pointing to Guldstad.

He is a rich and eomme ilfaui
Parti; and since there's nothing in the way —

SVANHILD.

Yes, there is one condition I require! —
To leave this place.

Mrs. Halm.

Precisely his desire.

SVANHILD.

And time —

Mrs. Halm.
How long ? Bethink you, fortune's calling!



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478 LOVE'S COMEDY [act m

SVAXHILD.

[WUh a quiet smile.]
Only a little; till the leaves are falling.

[She goes towards the verandah; Mbs. Haiji
seeks out Guldstad.

Strawman.
[Among the giiests.]

One lesson, friends, we leam from this example!
Tho' Doubt's beleaguering forces hem us in.
Yet Truth upon the Serpent's head shall trample.
The cause of Love shall win —

Guests.

Yes, Love shall win!
[They embrace and kiss, pair by pair. Outside
to the left are heard song and laughter.

Miss Jat.
What can this mean ?

Anna.

The students!

LiND.

The quartette.
Bound for the mountains; — ^and I quite forgot
To tell them—

[The Students com£ in to the left and remain
standing at the entrance,

A Student.

[To LiND.]

Here we are upon the spot!



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ACT in] LOVE'S COMEDY 479

Mbs. Halm.
It's Lind you seek, then ?

Miss Jat.

That's unfortunate.
He's just engaged —

An Aunt.

And so, you may be suie.
He cannot tliink of going on a tour.

The Students.
Engaged!

All the Students.

Ck>ngratuIations !

Lind.
[To his comrades.]

Thanks, my friends!

The Student.
[To his comrades.]

There goes our whole fish-kettle in the fire!
Our tenor lost! No possible amends!

Falk.

[Coming from the right, in summer suit, with students
cap, knapsack and stick.]

ril sing the tenor in young Norway's choir!

The Students.
You, Falk! hurrah!



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480 LOVE'S COMEDY [act iii

Fai^.

Forth to the mountains, come!
As the bee hurries from her winter home!
A twofold music in my breast I bear,
A cither with diversely sounding strings.
One for life's joy, a treble loud and clear.
And one deep note that quivers as it sings.

[To individuals among the Students.
You have the palette ? — You the note-book ? Good,
Swarm then, my bees, into the leafy wood.
Till at nightfaU with pollen-laden thigh.
Home to our mighty mother-queen we fly!

[Turning to the company, while the Students
depart and the Chorus of the First Ad is
faintly heard oiUside.
Forgive me my offences great and small,
I resent nothing; — [SofUy,

but remember all.


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Online LibraryEdmund GosseThe collected works of Henrik Ibsen, Volume 1 → online text (page 20 of 21)