A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act I

NORA.
But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in my power to help you at all.

KROGSTAD.
Then it is because you haven't the will; but I have means to compel you.

NORA.
You don't mean that you will tell my husband that I owe you money?

KROGSTAD.
Hm! — suppose I were to tell him?

NORA.
It would be perfectly infamous of you. (Sobbing.) To think of his learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in such an ugly, clumsy way — that he should learn it from you! And it would put me in a horribly disagreeable position —

KROGSTAD.
Only disagreeable?

NORA.
(impetuously). Well, do it, then! — and it will be the worse for you. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you are, and you certainly won't keep your post then.

KROGSTAD.
I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home that you were afraid of?

NORA.
If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at once pay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more to do with you.

KROGSTAD.
(coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. Either you have a very bad memory or you know very little of business. I shall be obliged to remind you of a few details.

NORA.
What do you mean?

KROGSTAD.
When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow two hundred and fifty pounds.

NORA.
I didn't know any one else to go to.

KROGSTAD.
I promised to get you that amount —

NORA.
Yes, and you did so.

KROGSTAD.
I promised to get you that amount, on certain conditions. Your mind was so taken up with your husband's illness, and you were so anxious to get the money for your journey, that you seem to have paid no attention to the conditions of our bargain. Therefore it will not be amiss if I remind you of them. Now, I promised to get the money on the security of a bond which I drew up.

NORA.
Yes, and which I signed.

KROGSTAD.
Good. But below your signature there were a few lines constituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your father should have signed.

NORA.
Should? He did sign them.

KROGSTAD.
I had left the date blank; that is to say your father should himself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper. Do you remember that?

NORA.
Yes, I think I remember —

KROGSTAD.
Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your father. Is that not so?

NORA.
Yes.

KROGSTAD.
And you naturally did so at once, because five or six days afterwards you brought me the bond with your father's signature. And then I gave you the money.

NORA.
Well, haven't I been paying it off regularly?

KROGSTAD.
Fairly so, yes. But — to come back to the matter in hand — that must have been a very trying time for you, Mrs. Helmer?

NORA.
It was, indeed.

KROGSTAD.
Your father was very ill, wasn't he?

NORA.
He was very near his end.

KROGSTAD.
And died soon afterwards?

NORA.
Yes.

KROGSTAD.
Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance remember what day your father died? — on what day of the month, I mean.

NORA.
Papa died on the 29th of September.

KROGSTAD.
That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And, as that is so, there is a discrepancy (taking a paper from his pocket) which I cannot account for.

NORA.
What discrepancy? I don't know —

KROGSTAD.
The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the fact that your father signed this bond three days after his death.

NORA.
What do you mean? I don't understand —

KROGSTAD.
Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look here; your father dated his signature the 2nd of October. It is a discrepancy, isn't it? (NORA is silent.) Can you explain it to me? (NORA is still silent.) It is a remarkable thing, too, that the words "2nd of October," as well as the year, are not written in your father's handwriting but in one that I think I know. Well, of course it can be explained; your father may have forgotten to date his signature, and someone else may have dated it haphazard before they knew of his death. There is no harm in that. It all depends on the signature of the name; and that is genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father himself who signed his name here?

NORA.
(after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly at him). No, it was not. It was I that wrote papa's name.

KROGSTAD.
Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?

NORA.
In what way? You shall have your money soon.

KROGSTAD.
Let me ask you a question; why did you not send the paper to your father?

NORA.
It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for his signature, I should have had to tell him what the money was to be used for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn't tell him that my husband's life was in danger — it was impossible.

KROGSTAD.
It would have been better for you if you had given up your trip abroad.

NORA.
No, that was impossible. That trip was to save my husband's life; I couldn't give that up.

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