A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act III

ACT III

(THE SAME SCENE — The table has been placed in the middle of the stage, with chairs around it. A lamp is burning on the table. The door into the hall stands open. Dance music is heard in the room above. MRS. LINDE is sitting at the table idly turning over the leaves of a book; she tries to read, but does not seem able to collect her thoughts. Every now and then she listens intently for a sound at the outer door.)

MRS. LINDE.
(looking at her watch). Not yet — and the time is nearly up. If only he does not — . (Listens again.) Ah, there he is. (Goes into the hall and opens the outer door carefully. Light footsteps are heard on the stairs. She whispers.) Come in. There is no one here.

KROGSTAD.
(in the doorway). I found a note from you at home. What does this mean?

MRS. LINDE.
It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk with you.

KROGSTAD.
Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should be here?

MRS. LINDE.
It is impossible where I live; there is no private entrance to my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone. The maid is asleep, and the Helmers are at the dance upstairs.

KROGSTAD.
(coming into the room). Are the Helmers really at a dance tonight?

MRS. LINDE.
Yes, why not?

KROGSTAD.
Certainly — why not?

MRS. LINDE.
Now, Nils, let us have a talk.

KROGSTAD.
Can we two have anything to talk about?

MRS. LINDE.
We have a great deal to talk about.

KROGSTAD.
I shouldn't have thought so.

MRS. LINDE.
No, you have never properly understood me.

KROGSTAD.
Was there anything else to understand except what was obvious to all the world — a heartless woman jilts a man when a more lucrative chance turns up.

MRS. LINDE.
Do you believe I am as absolutely heartless as all that? And do you believe that I did it with a light heart?

KROGSTAD.
Didn't you?

MRS. LINDE.
Nils, did you really think that?

KROGSTAD.
If it were as you say, why did you write to me as you did at the time?

MRS. LINDE.
I could do nothing else. As I had to break with you, it was my duty also to put an end to all that you felt for me.

KROGSTAD.
(wringing his hands). So that was it. And all this — only for the sake of money.

MRS. LINDE.
You must not forget that I had a helpless mother and two little brothers. We couldn't wait for you, Nils; your prospects seemed hopeless then.

KROGSTAD.
That may be so, but you had no right to throw me over for any one else's sake.

MRS. LINDE.
Indeed I don't know. Many a time did I ask myself if I had a right to do it.

KROGSTAD.
(more gently). When I lost you, it was as if all the solid ground went from under my feet. Look at me now — I am a shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreckage.

MRS. LINDE.
But help may be near.

KROGSTAD.
It was near; but then you came and stood in my way.

MRS. LINDE.
Unintentionally, Nils. It was only today that I learnt it was your place I was going to take in the bank.

KROGSTAD.
I believe you, if you say so. But now that you know it, are you not going to give it up to me?

MRS. LINDE.
No, because that would not benefit you in the least.

KROGSTAD.
Oh, benefit, benefit — I would have done it whether or no.

MRS. LINDE.
I have learnt to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that.

KROGSTAD.
And life has taught me not to believe in fine speeches.

MRS. LINDE.
Then life has taught you something very reasonable. But deeds you must believe in?

KROGSTAD.
What do you mean by that?

MRS. LINDE.
You said you were like a shipwrecked man clinging to some wreckage.

KROGSTAD.
I had good reason to say so.

MRS. LINDE.
Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to some wreckage — no one to mourn for, no one to care for.

KROGSTAD.
It was your own choice.

MRS. LINDE.
There was no other choice, then.

KROGSTAD.
Well, what now?

MRS. LINDE.
Nils, how would it be if we two shipwrecked people could join forces?

KROGSTAD.
What are you saying?

MRS. LINDE.
Two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a better chance than each on their own.

KROGSTAD.
Christine!

MRS. LINDE.
What do you suppose brought me to town?

KROGSTAD.
Do you mean that you gave me a thought?

MRS. LINDE.
I could not endure life without work. All my life, as long as I can remember, I have worked, and it has been my greatest and only pleasure. But now I am quite alone in the world — my life is so dreadfully empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the least pleasure in working for one's self. Nils, give me someone and something to work for.

KROGSTAD.
I don't trust that. It is nothing but a woman's overstrained sense of generosity that prompts you to make such an offer of your self.

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