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Rosmersholm - ACT II Post by :mst207 Category :Plays Author :Henrik Ibsen Date :June 2011 Read :655

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Rosmersholm - ACT II

ACT II


(SCENE. ROSMER'S study. The door into it is in the left-hand
wall. At the back of the room is a doorway with a curtain drawn
back from it, leading to his bedroom. On the right, a window, in
front of which is a writing-table strewn with books and papers.
Bookshelves and cupboards on the walls. Homely furniture. On the
left, an old-fashioned sofa with a table in front of it. ROSMER,
wearing a smoking-jacket, is sitting at the writing-table on a
high-backed chair. He is cutting and turning over the leaves of a
magazine, and dipping into it here and there. A knock is heard at
the door on the left.)

Rosmer (without turning round). Come in.

(REBECCA comes in, wearing a morning wrapper.)

Rebecca. Good morning.

Rosmer (still turning over the leaves of his book). Good morning,
dear. Do you want anything?

Rebecca. Only to ask if you have slept well?

Rosmer. I went to sleep feeling so secure and happy. I did not
even dream. (Turns round.) And you?

Rebecca. Thanks, I got to sleep in the early morning.

Rosmer. I do not think I have felt so light-hearted for a long
time as I do to-day. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to
say what I did.

Rebecca. Yes, you should not have been silent so long, John.

Rosmer. I cannot understand how I came to be such a coward.

Rebecca. I am sure it was not really from cowardice.

Rosmer. Yes, indeed. I can see that at bottom there was some
cowardice about it.

Rebecca. So much the braver of you to face it as you did. (Sits
down beside him on a chair by the writing-table.) But now I want
to confess something that I have done--something that you must not
be vexed with me about.

Rosmer. Vexed? My dear girl, how can you think--?

Rebecca. Yes, because I dare say it was a little presumptuous of
me, but--

Rosmer. Well, let me hear what it was.

Rebecca. Last night, when that Ulrick Brendel was going, I wrote
him a line or two to take to Mortensgaard.

Rosmer (a little doubtfully). But, my dear Rebecca--What did you
write, then?

Rebecca. I wrote that he would be doing you a service if he
would interest himself a little in that unfortunate man, and help
him in any way he could.

Rosmer. My dear, you should not have done that. You have only
done Brendel harm by doing so. And besides, Mortensgaard is a
man I particularly wish to have nothing to do with. You know I
have been at loggerheads once with him already.

Rebecca. But do you not think that now it might be a very good
thing if you got on to good terms with him again?

Rosmer. I? With Mortensgaard? For what reason, do you mean?

Rebecca. Well, because you cannot feel altogether secure now--
since this has come between you and your friends.

Rosmer (looking at her and shaking his head). Is it possible that
you think either Kroll or any of the others would take a revenge
on me--that they could be capable of--

Rebecca. In their first heat of indignation dear. No one can be
certain of that. I think, after the way Mr. Kroll took it--

Rosmer. Oh, you ought to know him better than that. Kroll is an
honourable man, through and through. I will go into town this
afternoon, and have a talk with him. I will have a talk with them
all. Oh, you will see how smoothly everything will go. (MRS.
HELSETH comes in by the door on the left.)

Rebecca (getting up). What is it, Mrs. Helseth?

Mrs. Helseth. Mr. Kroll is downstairs in the hall, miss.

Rosmer (getting up quickly). Kroll!

Rebecca. Mr. Kroll! What a surprise!

Mrs. Helseth. He asks if he may come up and speak to Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer (to REBECCA). What did I say! (To MRS. HELSETH). Of course
he may. (Goes to the door and calls down the stairs.) Come up, my
dear fellow! I am delighted to see you! (He stands holding the
door open. MRS. HELSETH goes out. REBECCA draws the curtain over
the doorway at the back, and then begins to tidy the room. KROLL
comes in with his hat in his hand.)

Rosmer (quietly, and with some emotion). I knew quite well it
would not be the last time--

Kroll. To-day I see the matter in quite a different light from
yesterday.

Rosmer. Of course you do, Kroll! Of course you do! You have been
thinking things over--

Kroll. You misunderstand me altogether. (Puts his hat down on the
table.) It is important that I should speak to you alone.

Rosmer. Why may not Miss West--?

Rebecca. No, no, Mr. Rosmer. I will go.

Kroll (looking meaningly at her). And I see I ought to apologise
to you, Miss West, for coming here so early in the morning. I see
I have taken you by surprise, before you have had time to--

Rebecca (with a start). Why so? Do you find anything out of place
in the fact of my wearing a morning wrapper at home here?

Kroll. By no means! Besides, I have no knowledge of what customs
may have grown up at Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Kroll, you are not the least like yourself to-day.

Rebecca. I will wish you good morning, Mr. Kroll. (Goes out
to the left.)

Kroll. If. you will allow me-- (Sits down on the couch.)

Rosmer. Yes, my dear fellow, let us make ourselves comfortable
and have a confidential talk. (Sits down on a chair facing
KROLL.)

Kroll. I have not been able to close an eye since yesterday. I
lay all night, thinking and thinking.

Rosmer. And what have you got to say to-day?

Kroll. It will take me some time, Rosmer. Let me begin with a
sort of introduction. I can give you some news of Ulrick Brendel.

Rosmer. Has he been to see you?

Kroll. No. He took up his quarters in a low-class tavern--in the
lowest kind of company, of course; drank, and stood drinks to
others, as long as he had any money left; and then began to abuse
the whole lot of them as a contemptible rabble--and, indeed, as
far as that goes he was quite right. But the result was, that he
got a thrashing and was thrown out into the gutter.

Rosmer. I see he is altogether incorrigible.

Kroll. He had pawned the coat you gave him, too, but that is
going to be redeemed for him. Can you guess by whom?

Rosmer. By yourself, perhaps?

Kroll. No. By our noble friend Mr. Mortensgaard.

Rosmer. Is that so?

Kroll. I am informed that Mr. Brendel's first visit was paid to
the "idiot" and "plebeian".

Rosmer. Well, it was very lucky for him--

Kroll. Indeed it was. (Leans over the table, towards ROSMER.) Now
I am coming to a matter of which, for the sake of our old--our
former--friendship, it is my duty to warn you.

Rosmer. My dear fellow, what is that?

Kroll. It is this; that certain games are going on behind your
back in this house.

Rosmer. How can you think that? Is it Rebec--is it Miss West you
are alluding to?

Kroll. Precisely. And I can quite understand it on her part; she
has been accustomed, for such a long time now, to do as she likes
here. But nevertheless--

Rosmer. My dear Kroll, you are absolutely mistaken. She and I
have no secrets from one another about anything whatever.

Kroll. Then has she confessed to you that she has been
corresponding with the editor of the "Searchlight"?

Rosmer. Oh, you mean the couple of lines she wrote to him on
Ulrik Brendel's behalf?

Kroll. You have found that out, then? And do you approve of her
being on terms of this sort with that scurrilous hack, who almost
every week tries to pillory me for my attitude in my school and
out of it?

Rosmer. My dear fellow, I don't suppose that side of the question
has ever occurred to her. And in any case, of course she has
entire freedom of action, just as I have myself.

Kroll. Indeed? Well, I suppose that is quite in accordance with
the new turn your views have taken--because I suppose Miss West
looks at things from the same standpoint as you?

Rosmer. She does. We two have worked our way forward in complete
companionship.

Kroll (looking at him and shaking his head slowly). Oh, you
blind, deluded man!

Rosmer. I? What makes you say that?

Kroll. Because I dare not--I WILL not--think the worst. No, no, let
me finish what I want to say. Am I to believe that you really
prize my friendship, Rosmer? And my respect, too? Do you?

Rosmer. Surely I need not answer that question.

Kroll. Well, but there are other things that require answering--
that require full explanation on your part. Will you submit to it
if I hold a sort of inquiry--?

Rosmer. An inquiry?

Kroll. Yes, if I ask you questions about one or two things that
it may be painful for you to recall to mind. For instance, the
matter of your apostasy--well, your emancipation, if you choose to
call it so--is bound up with so much else for which, for your own
sake, you ought to account to me.

Rosmer. My dear fellow, ask me about anything you please. I have
nothing to conceal.

Kroll. Well, then, tell me this--what do you yourself believe was
the real reason of Beata's making away with herself?

Rosmer. Can you have any doubt? Or perhaps I should rather say,
need one look for reasons for what an unhappy sick woman, who is
unaccountable for her actions, may do?

Kroll. Are you certain that Beata was so entirely unaccountable
for her actions? The doctors, at all events, did not consider
that so absolutely certain.

Rosmer. If the doctors had ever seen her in the state in which I
have so often seen her, both night and day, they would have had
no doubt about it.

Kroll. I did not doubt it either, at the time.

Rosmer. Of course not. It was impossible to doubt it,
unfortunately. You remember what I told you of her ungovernable,
wild fits of passion--which she expected me to reciprocate. She
terrified me! And think how she tortured herself with baseless
self-reproaches in the last years of her life!

Kroll. Yes, when she knew that she would always be childless.

Rosmer. Well, think what it meant--to be perpetually in the
clutches of such--agony of mind over a thing that she was not in
the slightest degree responsible for--! Are you going to suggest
that she was accountable for her actions?

Kroll. Hm!--Do you remember whether at that time you had, in the
house any books dealing with the purport of marriage--according to
the advanced views of to-day?

Rosmer. I remember Miss West's lending me a work of the kind. She
inherited Dr. West's library, you know. But, my dear Kroll, you
surely do not suppose that we were so imprudent as to let the
poor sick creature get wind of any such ideas? I can solemnly
swear that we were in no way to blame. It was the overwrought
nerves of her own brain that were responsible for these frantic
aberrations.

Kroll. There is one thing, at any rate, that I can tell you now,
and that is that your poor tortured and overwrought Beata put an
end to her own life in order that yours might be happy--and that
you might be free to live as you pleased.

Rosmer (starting half up from his chair). What do you mean by
that?

Kroll. You must listen to me quietly, Rosmer--because now I can
speak of it. During the last year of her life she came twice to
see me, to tell me what she suffered from her fears and her
despair.

Rosmer. On that point?

Kroll. No. The first time she came she declared that you were on
the high road to apostasy--that you were going to desert the faith
that your father had taught you.

Rosmer (eagerly). What you say is impossible, Kroll!--absolutely
impossible! You must be wrong about that.

Kroll. Why?

Rosmer. Because as long as Beata lived I was still doubting and
fighting with myself. And I fought out that fight alone and in
the completest secrecy. I do not imagine that even Rebecca--

Kroll. Rebecca?

Rosmer. Oh, well--Miss West. I call her Rebecca for the sake of
convenience.

Kroll. So I have observed.

Rosmer. That is why it is so incomprehensible to me that Beata
should have had any suspicion of it. Why did she never speak to
me about it?--for she never did, by a single word.

Kroll. Poor soul--she begged and implored me to speak to you.

Rosmer. Then why did you never do so?

Kroll. Do you think I had a moment's doubt, at that time, that
her mind was unhinged? Such an accusation as that, against a man
like you! Well, she came to see me again, about a month later.
She seemed calmer then; but, as she was going away, she said:
"They may expect to see the White Horse soon at Rosmersholm."

Rosmer. Yes, I know--the White Horse. She often used to talk about
that.

Kroll. And then, when I tried to distract her from such unhappy
thoughts, she only answered: "I have not much time left; for
John must marry Rebecca immediately now."

Rosmer (almost speechless). What are you saying! I marry--!

Kroll. That was on a Thursday afternoon. On the Saturday evening
she threw herself from the footbridge into the millrace.

Rosmer. And you never warned us!

Kroll. Well, you know yourself how constantly she used to say
that she was sure she would die before long.

Rosmer. Yes, I know. But, all the same, you ought to have warned
us!

Kroll. I did think of doing so. But then it was too late.

Rosmer. But since then, why have you not--? Why have you kept all
this to yourself?

Kroll. What good would it have done for me to come here and add
to your pain and distress? Of course I thought the whole thing
was merely wild, empty fancy--until yesterday evening.

Rosmer. Then you do not think so any longer?

Kroll. Did not Beata see clearly enough, when she saw that you
were going to fall away from your childhood's faith?

Rosmer (staring in front of him). Yes, I cannot understand that.
It is the most incomprehensible thing in the world to me.

Kroll. Incomprehensible or not, the thing is true. And now I ask
you, Rosmer, how much truth is there in her other accusation?--the
last one, I mean.

Rosmer. Accusation? Was that an accusation, then?

Kroll. Perhaps you did not notice how it was worded. She said she
meant to stand out of the way. Why? Well?

Rosmer. In order that I might marry Rebecca, apparently.

Kroll. That was not quite how it was worded. Beata expressed
herself differently. She said "I have not much time left; for
John must marry Rebecca IMMEDIATELY now."

Rosmer (looks at him for a moment; then gets up). Now I
understand you, Kroll.

Kroll. And if you do? What answer have you to make?

Rosmer (in an even voice, controlling himself). To such an
unheard-of--? The only fitting answer would be to point to the
door.

Kroll (getting up). Very good.

Rosmer (standing face to face with him). Listen to me. For
considerably more than a year to be precise, since Beata's death--
Rebecca West and I have lived here alone at Rosmersholm. All that
time you have known of the charge Beata made against us; but I
have never for one moment seen you appear the least scandalised
at our living together here.

Kroll. I never knew, till yesterday evening, that it was a case
of an apostate man and an "emancipated" woman living together.

Rosmer. Ah! So then you do not believe in any purity of life
among apostates or emancipated folk? You do not believe that they
may have the instinct of morality ingrained in their natures?

Kroll. I have no particular confidence in the kind of morality
that is not rooted in the Church's faith.

Rosmer. And you mean that to apply to Rebecca and myself?--to my
relations with Rebecca?

Kroll. I cannot make any departure, in favour of you two, from my
opinion that there is certainly no very wide gulf between free
thinking and--ahem!

Rosmer. And what?

Kroll. And free love, since you force me to say it.

Rosmer (gently). And you are not ashamed to say that to me!--you,
who have known me ever since I was a boy.

Kroll. It is just for that reason. I know how easily you allow
yourself to be influenced by those you associate with. And as for
your Rebecca--well, your Miss West, then--to tell the truth, we
know very little about her. To cut the matter short, Rosmer--I am
not going to give you up. And you, on your part, ought to try and
save yourself in time.

Rosmer. Save myself? How--? (MRS. HELSETH looks in through the
door on the left.) What do you want?

Mrs. Helseth. I wanted to ask Miss West to come down, sir.

Rosmer. Miss West is not up here.

Mrs. Helseth. Indeed, sir? (Looks round the room.) That is very
strange. (Goes out.)

Rosmer. You were saying--?

Kroll. Listen to me. As to what may have gone on here in secret
while Beata was alive, and as to what may be still going on here,
I have no wish to inquire more closely. You were, of course,
extremely unhappy in your marriage--and to some extent that may be
urged in your excuse--

Rosmer. Oh, how little you really know me!

Kroll. Do not interrupt me. What I want to say is this. If you
definitely must continue living with Miss West, it is absolutely
necessary that you should conceal the revolution of opinion--I
mean the distressing apostasy--that she has beguiled you into. Let
me speak! Let me speak! I say that, if you are determined to go
on with this folly, for heaven's sake hold any variety of ideas
or opinions or beliefs you like--but keep your opinions to
yourself. It is a purely personal matter, and there is not the
slightest necessity to go proclaiming it all over the
countryside.

Rosmer. It is a necessity for me to abandon a false and equivocal
position.

Kroll. But you have a duty towards the traditions of your family,
Rosmer! Remember that! From time immemorial Rosmersholm has been
a stronghold of discipline and order, of respect and esteem for
all that the best people in our community have upheld and
sanctioned. The whole neighbourhood has taken its
tone from Rosmersholm. If the report gets about that you
yourself have broken with what I may call the Rosmer family
tradition, it will evoke an irreparable
state of unrest.

Rosmer. My dear Kroll, I cannot see the matter in that light. It
seems to me that it is my imperative duty to bring a little light
and happiness into the place where the race of Rosmers has spread
darkness and oppression for all these long years.

Kroll (looking severely at him). Yes, that would be a worthy
action for the man with whom the race will disappear. Let such
things alone, my friend. It is no suitable task for you. You were
meant to lead the peaceful life of a student.

Rosmer. Yes, that may be so. But nevertheless I want to try and
play my humble part in the struggles of life.

Kroll. The struggles of life! Do you know what that will mean for
you? It will mean war to the death with all your friends.

Rosmer (quietly). I do not imagine they are all such fanatics as
you.

Kroll. You are a simple-minded creature, Rosmer--an inexperienced
creature. You have no suspicion of the violence of the storm that
will burst upon you. (MRS. HELSETH slightly opens the door on the
left.)

Mrs. Helseth. Miss West wishes me to ask you, sir

Rosmer. What is it?

Mrs. Helseth. There is some one downstairs that wishes to speak
to you for a minute, sir.

Rosmer. Is it the gentleman that was here yesterday afternoon, by
any chance?

Mrs. Helseth. No, it is that Mr. Mortensgaard.

Rosmer. Mortensgaard?

Kroll. Aha! So matters have got as far as that already, have
they!

Rosmer. What does he want with me? Why did you not send him away
?

Mrs. Helseth. Miss West told me to ask you if he might come up.

Rosmer. Tell him I am engaged, and--

Kroll (to MRS. HELSETH). No; show him up, please. (MRS. HELSETH
goes out. KROLL takes up his hat.) I quit the field--temporarily.
But we have not fought the decisive action yet.

Rosmer. As truly as I stand here, Kroll, I have absolutely
nothing to do with Mortensgaard.

Kroll. I do not believe you any longer on any point. Under no
circumstances shall I have any faith in you after this. It is war
to the knife now. We shall try if we cannot make you powerless to
do any harm.

Rosmer. Oh, Kroll--how you have sunk! How low you have sunk!

Kroll. I? And a man like you has the face to say so? Remember
Beata!

Rosmer. Are you harking back to that again!

Kroll. No. You must solve the riddle of the millrace as your
conscience will allow you--if you have any conscience still left.
(PETER MORTENSGAARD comes in softly and quietly, by the door on
the left. He is a short, slightly built man with sparse reddish
hair and beard. KROLL gives him a look of hatred.) The
"Searchlight" too, I see. Lighted at Rosmersholm! (Buttons up his
coat.) That leaves me no doubt as to the course I should steer.

Mortensgaard (quietly). The "Searchlight" will always be ready
burning to light Mr. Kroll home.

Kroll. Yes, you have shown me your goodwill for a long time. To
be sure there is a Commandment that forbids us to bear false
witness against our neighbour--

Mortensgaard. Mr. Kroll has no need to instruct me in the
Commandments.

Kroll. Not even in the sixth?

Rosmer. Kroll--!

Mortensgaard. If I needed such instruction, Mr. Rosmer is the
most suitable person to give it me.

Kroll (with scarcely concealed scorn). Mr. Rosmer? Oh yes, the
Reverend Mr. Rosmer is undoubtedly the most suitable man for
that! I hope you will enjoy yourselves, gentlemen. (Goes out and
slams the door after him.)

Rosmer (stands looking at the door, and says to himself). Yes,
yes--it had to be so. (Turns round.) Will you tell me, Mr.
Mortensgaard, what has brought you out here to see me?

Mortensgaard. It was really Miss West I wanted to see. I thought
I ought to thank her for the kind letter I received from her
yesterday.

Rosmer. I know she has written to you. Have you had a talk with
her?

Mortensgaard. Yes, a little. (Smiles slightly.) I hear that there
has been a change of views in certain respects at Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. My views have changed to a very considerable extent; I
might almost say entirely.

Mortensgaard. That is what Miss West said. And that was why she
thought I ought to come up and have a little chat with you about
this.

Rosmer. About what, Mr. Mortensgaard?

Mortensgaard. May I have your permission to announce in the
"Searchlight" that you have altered your opinions, and are going
to devote yourself to the cause of free thought and progress?

Rosmer. By all means. I will go so far as to ask you to make the
announcement.

Mortensgaard. Then it shall appear to-morrow. It will be a great
and weighty piece of news that the Reverend Mr. Rosmer of
Rosmersholm has made up his mind to join the forces of light in
that direction too.

Rosmer. I do not quite understand you.

Mortensgaard. What I mean is that it implies the gain of strong
moral support for our party every time we win over an earnest,
Christian-minded adherent.

Rosmer (with some astonishment). Then you don't know--? Did Miss
West not tell you that as well?

Mortensgaard. What, Mr. Rosmer? Miss West was in a considerable
hurry. She told me to come up, and that I would hear the rest of
it from yourself.

Rosmer. Very well, then; let me tell you that I have cut myself
free entirely--on every side. I have now, no connection of any
kind with the tenets of the Church. For the future such matters
have not the smallest signification for me.

Mortensgaard (looking at him in perplexity). Well, if the moon
had fallen down from the sky, I could not be more--! To think that
I should ever hear you yourself renounce--!

Rosmer. Yes, I stand now where you have stood for a long time.
You can announce that in the "Searchlight" to-morrow too.

Mortensgaard. That, too? No, my dear Mr. Rosmer--you must excuse
me--but it is not worth touching on that side of the matter.

Rosmer. Not touch on it?

Mortensgaard. Not at first, I think.

Rosmer. But I do not understand--

Mortensgaard. Well, it is like this, Mr. Rosmer. You are not as
familiar with all the circumstances of the case as I am, I
expect. But if you, too, have joined the forces of freedom--and if
you, as Miss West says you do, mean to take part in the movement--
I conclude you do so with the desire to be as useful to the
movement as you possibly can, in practice as well as, in theory.

Rosmer. Yes, that is my most sincere wish.

Mortensgaard. Very well. But I must impress on you, Mr. Rosmer,
that if you come forward openly with this news about your
defection from the Church, you will tie your own hands
immediately.

Rosmer. Do you think so?

Mortensgaard. Yes, you may be certain that there is not much that
you would be able to do hereabouts. And besides, Mr. Rosmer, we
have quite enough freethinkers already--indeed, I was going to say
we have too many of those gentry. What the party needs is a
Christian element--something that every one must respect. That is
what we want badly. And for that reason it is most advisable that
you should hold your tongue about any matters that do not concern
the public. That is my opinion.

Rosmer. I see. Then you would not risk having anything to do with
me if I were to confess my apostasy openly?

Mortensgaard (shaking his head). I should not like to, Mr.
Rosmer. Lately I have made it a rule never to support anybody or
anything that is opposed to the interests of the Church.

Rosmer. Have you, then, entered the fold of the Church again
lately?

Mortensgaard. That is another matter altogether.

Rosmer. Oh, that is how it is. Yes, I understand you now.

Mortensgaard. Mr. Rosmer--you ought to remember that I, of all
people, have not absolute freedom of action.

Rosmer. What hampers you?

Mortensgaard. What hampers me is that I am a marked man.

Rosmer. Ah--of course.

Mortensgaard. A marked man, Mr. Rosmer. And you, of all people,
ought to remember that--because you were responsible, more than
any one else, for my being branded.

Rosmer. If I had stood then where I stand now, I should have
handled the affair more judiciously.

Mortensgaard. I think so too. But it is too late now; you have
branded me, once for all--branded me for life. I do not suppose
you can fully realise what such a thing means. But it is possible
that you may soon feel the smart of it yourself now, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. I?

Mortensgaard. Yes. You surely do not suppose that Mr. Kroll and
his gang will be inclined to forgive a rupture such as yours? And
the "County News" is going to be pretty bloodthirsty, I hear. It
may very well come to pass that you will be a marked man, too.

Rosmer. On personal grounds, Mr. Mortensgaard, I feel myself to
be invulnerable. My conduct does not offer any point of attack.

Mortensgaard (with a quiet smile). That is saying a good deal,
Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. Perhaps it is. But I have the right to say as much.

Mortensgaard. Even if you were inclined to overhaul your conduct
as thoroughly as you once overhauled mine?

Rosmer. You say that very strangely. What are you driving at?--is
it anything definite?

Mortensgaard. Yes, there is one definite thing--no more than a
single one. But it might be quite awkward enough if malicious
opponents got a hint of it.

Rosmer. Will you have the kindness to tell me what on earth it
is?

Mortensgaard. Can you not guess, Mr. Rosmer?

Rosmer. No, not for a moment.

Mortensgaard. All right. I must come out with it, then. I have in
my possession a remarkable letter, that was written here at
Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Miss West's letter, you mean? Is it so remarkable?

Mortensgaard. No, that letter is not remarkable. But I received a
letter from this house on another occasion.

Rosmer. From Miss West?

Mortensgaard. No, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. Well, from whom, then? From whom?

Mortensgaard. From your late wife.

Rosmer. From my wife? You had a letter from my wife?

Mortensgaard. Yes, I did.

Rosmer. When?

Mortensgaard. It was during the poor lady's last days. It must be
about a year and a half ago now. And that is the letter that is
so remarkable.

Rosmer. Surely you know that my wife's mind was affected at that
time?

Mortensgaard. I know there were a great many people who thought
so. But, in my opinion, no one would have imagined anything of
the kind from the letter. When I say the letter is a remarkable
one, I mean remarkable in quite another way.

Rosmer. And what in the world did my poor wife find to write to
you about?

Mortensgaard. I have the letter at home. It begins more or less
to the effect that she is living in perpetual terror and dread,
because of the fact that there are so many evilly disposed people
about her whose only desire is to do you harm and mischief.

Rosmer. Me?

Mortensgaard. Yes, so she says. And then follows the most
remarkable part of it all. Shall I tell you, Mr. Rosmer?

Rosmer. Of course! Tell me everything, without any reserve.

Mortensgaard. The poor lady begs and entreats me to be
magnanimous. She says that she knows it was you, who got me
dismissed from my post as schoolmaster, and implores me most
earnestly not to revenge myself upon you.

Rosmer. What way did she think you could revenge yourself, then?

Mortensgaard. The letter goes on to say that if I should hear
that anything sinful was going on at Rosmersholm, I was not to
believe a word of it; that it would be only the work of wicked
folk who were spreading the rumours on purpose to do you harm.

Rosmer. Does the letter say that?

Mortensgaard. You may read it at your convenience, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. But I cannot understand--? What did she imagine there
could be any wicked rumours about?

Mortensgaard. In the first place, that you had broken away from
the faith of your childhood. Mrs. Rosmer denied that absolutely--
at that time. And, in the next place--ahem !

Rosmer. In the next place?

Mortensgaard. Well, in the next place she writes--though rather
confusedly--that she has no knowledge of any sinful relations
existing at Rosmersholm; that she has never been wronged in any
way; and that if any rumours of that sort should get about, she
entreats me not to allude to them in the "Searchlight".

Rosmer. Does she mention any names?

Mortensgaard. No.

Rosmer. Who brought you the letter?

Mortensgaard. I promised not to tell that. It was brought to me
one evening after dark.

Rosmer. If you had made inquiries at the time, you would have
learnt that my poor unhappy wife was not fully accountable for
her actions.

Mortensgaard. I did make inquiries, Mr. Rosmer; but I must say I
did not get exactly that impression.

Rosmer. Not?--But why have you chosen this moment to enlighten me
as to the existence of this old crazy letter?

Mortensgaard. With the object of advising you to be extremely
cautious, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. As to my way of life, do you mean?

Mortensgaard. Yes. You must remember that for the future you will
not be unassailable.

Rosmer. So you persist in thinking that I have something to
conceal here?

Mortensgaard. I do not see any reason why a man of emancipated
ideas should refrain from living his life as fully as possible.
Only, as I have already said, you should be cautious in future.
If rumours should get about of anything that offends people's
prejudices, you may be quite certain that the whole cause of
freedom of thought will suffer for it. Good-bye, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. Good-bye.

Mortensgaard. I shall go straight to the printing-office now and
have the great piece of news inserted in the "Searchlight".

Rosmer. Put it all in.

Mortensgaard. I will put in as much as there is any need for the
public to know. (Bows, and goes out. ROSMER stands at the door,
while MORTENSGAARD goes downstairs. The front door is heard
shutting.)

Rosmer (still standing in the doorway, calls softly). Rebecca!
Reb--ahem! (Calls loudly.) Mrs. Helseth--is Miss West downstairs?

Mrs. Helseth (from below). No, sir, she is not here.

(The curtain at the end of the room is drawn back, disclosing
REBECCA standing in the doorway.)

Rebecca. John!

Rosmer (turning round). What! Were you in there, in my bedroom!
My dear, what were you doing there?

Rebecca (going up to him). I have been listening.

Rosmer. Rebecca! Could you do a thing like that?

Rebecca. Indeed I could. It was so horrid the way he said that--
about my morning wrapper.

Rosmer. Ah, so you were in there too when Kroll--?

Rebecca. Yes. I wanted to know what was at the bottom of his
mind.

Rosmer. You know I would have told you.

Rebecca. I scarcely think you would have told me everything--
certainly not in his own words.

Rosmer. Did you hear everything, then?

Rebecca. Most of it, I think. I had to go down for a moment when
Mortensgaard came.

Rosmer. And then came up again?

Rebecca. Do not take it ill of me, dear friend.

Rosmer. Do anything that you think right and proper. You have
full freedom of action.--But what do you say to it all, Rebecca?
Ah, I do not think I have ever stood so much in need of you as I
do to-day.

Rebecca. Surely both you and I have been prepared for what would
happen some day.

Rosmer. No, no--not for this.

Rebecca. Not for this?

Rosmer. It is true that I used to think that sooner or later our
beautiful pure friendship would come to be attacked by calumny
and suspicion--not on Kroll's part, for I never would have
believed such a thing of him--but on the part of the coarse-minded
and ignoble-eyed crowd. Yes, indeed; I had good reason enough for
so jealously drawing a veil of concealment over our compact. It
was a dangerous secret.

Rebecca. Why should we pay any heed to what all these other
people think? You and I know that we have nothing to reproach
ourselves with.

Rosmer. I? Nothing to reproach myself with? It is true enough
that I thought so until to-day. But now, now, Rebecca--

Rebecca. Yes? Now?

Rosmer. How am I to account to myself for Beata's horrible
accusation?

Rebecca (impetuously). Oh, don't talk about Beata! Don't think
about Beata any more! She is dead, and you seemed at last to have
been able to get away from the thought of her.

Rosmer. Since I have learnt of this, it seems just as if she had
come to life again in some uncanny fashion.

Rebecca. Oh no--you must not say that, John! You must not!

Rosmer. I tell you it is so. We must try and get to the bottom of
it. How can she have strayed into such a woeful misunderstanding
of me?

Rebecca. Surely you too are not beginning to doubt that she was
very nearly insane?

Rosmer. Well, I cannot deny it is just of that fact that I feel I
cannot be so altogether certain any longer. And besides if it
were so--

Rebecca. If it were so? What then?

Rosmer. What I mean is--where are we to look for the actual cause
of her sick woman's fancies turning into insanity?

Rebecca. What good can it possibly do for you to indulge in such
speculations!

Rosmer. I cannot do otherwise, Rebecca. I cannot let this doubt
go on gnawing at my heart, however unwilling I may be to face
it.

Rebecca. But it may become a real danger to you to be perpetually
dwelling on this one lugubrious topic.

Rosmer (walking about restlessly and absorbed in the idea). I
must have betrayed myself in some way or other. She must have
noticed how happy I began to feel from the day you came to us.

Rebecca. Yes; but dear, even if that were so--

Rosmer. You may be sure she did not fail to notice that we read
the same books; that we sought one another's company, and
discussed every new topic together. But I cannot understand it--
because I was always so careful to spare her. When I look back,
it seems to me that I did everything I could to keep her apart
from our lives. Or did I not, Rebecca?

Rebecca. Yes, yes--undoubtedly you did.

Rosmer. And so did you, too. And notwithstanding that--! Oh, it is
horrible to think of! To think that here she was--with her
affection all distorted by illness --never saying a word--watching
us--noticing everything and--and--misconstruing everything.

Rebecca (wringing her hands). Oh, I never ought to have come to
Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Just think what she must have suffered in silence! Think
of all the horrible things her poor diseased brain must have led
her to believe about us and store up in her mind about us! Did
she never speak to you of anything that could give you any kind
of clue?

Rebecca (as if startled). To me! Do you suppose I should have
remained here a day longer, if she had?

Rosmer. No, no--that is obvious. What a fight she must have
fought--and fought alone, Rebecca! In despair, and all alone. And
then, in the end, the poignant misery of her victory--which was
also her accusation of us--in the mill-race! (Throws himself into
a chair, rests his elbows on the table, and hides his face in his
hands.)

Rebecca (coming quietly up behind him). Listen to me, John. If it
were in your power to call Beata back--to you--to Rosmersholm--would
you do it?

Rosmer. How can I tell what I would do or what I would not do! I
have no thoughts for anything but the one thing which is
irrevocable.

Rebecca. You ought to be beginning to live now, John. You were
beginning. You had freed yourself completely on all sides. You
were feeling so happy and so light--hearted

Rosmer. I know--that is true enough. And then comes this
overwhelming blow.

Rebecca (standing behind him, with her arms on the back of his
chair). How beautiful it was when we used to sit there downstairs
in the dusk--and helped each other to plan our lives out afresh.
You wanted to catch hold of actual life--the actual life of the
day, as you used to say. You wanted to pass from house to house
like a guest who brought emancipation with him--to win over men's
thoughts and wills to your own --to fashion noble men all around
you, in a wider and wider circle--noble men!

Rosmer. Noble men and happy men.

Rebecca. Yes, happy men.

Rosmer. Because it is happiness that gives the soul nobility,
Rebecca.

Rebecca. Do you not think suffering too? The deepest suffering?

Rosmer. Yes, if one can win through it--conquer it--conquer it
completely.

Rebecca. That is what you must do.

Rosmer (shaking his head sadly). I shall never conquer this
completely. There will always be a doubt confronting me--a
question. I shall never again be able to lose myself in the
enjoyment of what makes life so wonderfully beautiful.

Rebecca (speaking over the back of his chair, softly). What do
you mean, John?

Rosmer (looking up at her). Calm and happy innocence.

Rebecca (taking a step backwards). Of course. Innocence. (A short
silence.)

Rosmer (resting his head on his hands with his elbows on the
table, and looking straight in front of him). How ingeniously--how
systematically--she must have put one thing together with another!
First of all she begins to have a suspicion as to my orthodoxy.
How on earth did she get that idea in her mind? Any way, she did;
and the idea grew into a certainty. And then--then, of course, it
was easy for her to think everything else possible. (Sits up in
his chair and, runs his hands through his hair.) The wild fancies
I am haunted with! I shall never get quit of them. I am certain
of that--certain. They will always be starting up before me to
remind me of the dead.

Rebecca. Like the White Horse of Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Yes, like that. Rushing at me out of the dark--out of
the silence.

Rebecca. And, because of this morbid fancy of yours, you are
going to give up the hold you had just gained upon real life?

Rosmer. You are right, it seems hard--hard, Rebecca. But I have no
power of choice in the matter. How do you think I could ever get
the mastery over it?

Rebecca (standing behind his chair). By making new ties for
yourself.

Rosmer (starts, and looks up). New ties?

Rebecca. Yes, new ties with the outside world. Live, work, do
something! Do not sit here musing and brooding over insoluble
conundrums.

Rosmer (getting up). New ties! (Walks across the room, turns at
the door and comes back again.) A question occurs to my mind. Has
it not occurred to you too, Rebecca?

Rebecca (catching her breath). Let me hear what it is.

Rosmer. What do you suppose will become of the tie between us,
after to-day?

Rebecca. I think surely our friendship can endure, come what may.

Rosmer. Yes, but that is not exactly what I meant. I was thinking
of what brought us together from the first, what links us so
closely to one another--our common belief in the possibility of a
man and a woman living together in chastity.

Rebecca. Yes, yes--what of it?

Rosmer. What I mean is--does not such a tie as that--such a tie as
ours--seem to belong properly to a life lived in quiet, happy
peacefulness?

Rebecca. Well?

Rosmer. But now I see stretching before me a life of strife and
unrest and violent emotions. For I mean to live my life, Rebecca!
I am not going to let myself be beaten to the ground by the dread
of what may happen. I am not going to have my course of life
prescribed for me, either by any living soul or by another.

Rebecca. No, no--do not! Be a free man in everything, John!

Rosmer. Do you understand what is in my Mind, then? Do you not
know? Do you not see how I could best win my freedom from all
these harrowing memories from the whole sad past?

Rebecca. Tell me!

Rosmer. By setting up, in opposition to them, a new and living
reality.

Rebecca (feeling for the back of the chair). A living--? What do
you mean?

Rosmer (coming closer to her). Rebecca--suppose I asked you now--
will you be my second wife?

Rebecca (is speechless for a moment, then gives a cry of joy).
Your wife! Yours--! I!

Rosmer. Yes--let us try what that will do. We two shall be one.
There must no longer be any empty place left by the dead in this
house.

Rebecca. I--in Beata's place--?

Rosmer. And then that chapter of my life will be closed--
completely closed, never to be reopened.

Rebecca (in a low, trembling voice). Do you think so, John?

Rosmer. It must be so! It must! I cannot--I will not--go through
life with a dead body on my back. Help me to throw it off,
Rebecca; and then let us stifle all memories in our sense of
freedom, in joy, in passion. You shall be to me the only wife I
have ever had.

Rebecca (controlling herself). Never speak of this, again. I will
never be your wife.

Rosmer. What! Never? Do you think, then, that you could not learn
to love me? Is not our friendship already tinged with love?

Rebecca (stopping her ears, as if in fear). Don't speak like
that, John! Don't say such things!

Rosmer (catching her by the arm). It is true! There is a growing
possibility in the tie that is between us. I can see that you
feel that, as well as I--do you not, Rebecca?

Rebecca (controlling herself completely). Listen. Let me tell you
this--if you persist in this, I shall leave Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Leave Rosmersholm! You! You cannot do that. It is
impossible.

Rebecca. It is still more impossible for me to become your wife.
Never, as long as I live, can I be that.

Rosmer (looks at her in surprise). You say "can" --and you say it
so strangely. Why can you not?

Rebecca (taking both his hands in hers). Dear friend --for your
own sake, as well as for mine, do not ask me why. (Lets go of his
hands.) So, John. (Goes towards the door on the left.)

Rosmer. For the future the world will hold only one question for
me--why?

Rebecca (turns and looks at him). In that case everything is at
an end.

Rosmer. Between you and me?

Rebecca. Yes.

Rosmer. Things can never be at an end between us two. You shall
never leave Rosmersholm.

Rebecca (with her hand on the door-handle). No, I dare say I
shall not. But, all the same, if you question me again, it will
mean the end of everything.

Rosmer. The end of everything, all the same? How--?

Rebecca. Because then I shall go the way Beata went. Now you
know, John.

Rosmer. Rebecca--!

Rebecca (stops at the door and nods: slowly). Now you know. (Goes
out.)

Rosmer (stares in bewilderment at the shut door, and says to
himself): What can it mean?

Content of ACT II (Henrik Ibsen's play/drama: Rosmersholm)

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ACT III(SCENE-The sitting-room at Rosmersholm. The window and the hall-door are open. The morning sun is seen shining outside. REBECCA,dressed as in ACT I., is standing by the window, watering andarranging the flowers. Her work is lying on the armchair. MRS.HELSETH is going round the room with a feather brush, dusting thefurniture.)Rebecca (after a short pause). I wonder why Mr. Rosmer is so latein coming down to-day?Mrs. Helseth. Oh, he is often as late as this, miss. He is sureto be down directly.Rebecca. Have you seen anything of him?Mrs. Helseth. No, miss, except that as I took his coffee into hisstudy
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ACT I (SCENE--The sitting-room at Rosmersholm; a spacious room,comfortably furnished in old-fashioned style. In the foreground,against the right-hand wall, is a stove decorated with sprigs offresh birch and wild flowers. Farther back, a door. In the backwall folding doors leading into the entrance hall. In the left-hand wall a window, in front of which is a stand filled withflowers and plants. Near the stove stand a table, a couch and aneasy-chair. The walls are hung round with portraits, dating fromvarious periods, of clergymen, military officers and otherofficials in uniform. The window is open, and so are the doorsinto the lobby and the
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