A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act I

KROGSTAD.
But did it never occur to you that you were committing a fraud on me?

NORA.
I couldn't take that into account; I didn't trouble myself about you at all. I couldn't bear you, because you put so many heartless difficulties in my way, although you knew what a dangerous condition my husband was in.

KROGSTAD.
Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly what it is that you have been guilty of. But I can assure you that my one false step, which lost me all my reputation, was nothing more or nothing worse than what you have done.

NORA.
You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave enough to run a risk to save your wife's life.

KROGSTAD.
The law cares nothing about motives.

NORA.
Then it must be a very foolish law.

KROGSTAD.
Foolish or not, it is the law by which you will be judged, if I produce this paper in court.

NORA.
I don't believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to spare her dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be allowed to save her husband's life? I don't know much about law; but I am certain that there must be laws permitting such things as that. Have you no knowledge of such laws — you who are a lawyer? You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr. Krogstad.

KROGSTAD.
Maybe. But matters of business — such business as you and I have had together — do you think I don't understand that? Very well. Do as you please. But let me tell you this — if I lose my position a second time, you shall lose yours with me. (He bows, and goes out through the hall.)

NORA.
(appears buried in thought for a short time, then tosses her head). Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that! — I am not so silly as he thinks. (Begins to busy herself putting the children's things in order.) And yet — ? No, it's impossible! I did it for love's sake.

THE CHILDREN.
(in the doorway on the left.) Mother, the stranger man has gone out through the gate.

NORA.
Yes, dears, I know. But, don't tell anyone about the stranger man. Do you hear? Not even papa.

THE CHILDREN.
No, mother; but will you come and play again?

NORA.
No no, — not now.

THE CHILDREN.
But, mother, you promised us.

NORA.
Yes, but I can't now. Run away in; I have such a lot to do. Run away in, sweet little darlings. (She gets them into the room by degrees and shuts the door on them; then sits down on the sofa, takes up a piece of needlework and sews a few stitches, but soon stops.) No! (Throws down the work, gets up, goes to the hall door and calls out.) Helen, bring the Tree in. (Goes to the table on the left, opens a drawer, and stops again.) No, no! it is quite impossible!

MAID.
(coming in with the Tree). Where shall I put it, ma'am?

NORA.
Here, in the middle of the floor.

MAID.
Shall I get you anything else?

NORA.
No, thank you. I have all I want.

[Exit MAID

NORA.
(begins dressing the tree). A candle here — and flowers here — . The horrible man! It's all nonsense — there's nothing wrong. The Tree shall be splendid! I will do everything I can think of to please you, Torvald! — I will sing for you, dance for you — (HELMER comes in with some papers under his arm.) Oh! are you back already?

HELMER.
Yes. Has anyone been here?

NORA.
Here? No.

HELMER.
That is strange. I saw Krogstad going out of the gate.

NORA.
Did you? Oh yes, I forgot Krogstad was here for a moment.

HELMER.
Nora, I can see from your manner that he has been here begging you to say a good word for him.

NORA.
Yes.

HELMER.
And you were to appear to do it of your own accord; you were to conceal from me the fact of his having been here; didn't he beg that of you too?

NORA.
Yes, Torvald, but —

HELMER.
Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that sort of thing? To have any talk with a man like that, and give him any sort of promise? And to tell me a lie into the bargain?

NORA.
A lie — ?

HELMER.
Didn't you tell me no one had been here? (Shakes his finger at her.) My little song-bird must never do that again. A song-bird must have a clean beak to chirp with — no false notes! (Puts his arm round her waist.) That is so, isn't it? Yes, I am sure it is. (Lets her go.) We will say no more about it. (Sits down by the stove.) How warm and snug it is here! (Turns over his papers.)

NORA.
(after a short pause, during which she busies herself with the Christmas Tree). Torvald!

HELMER.
Yes.

NORA.
I am looking forward tremendously to the fancy dress ball at the Stensborgs' the day after tomorrow.

HELMER.
And I am tremendously curious to see what you are going to surprise me with.

NORA.
It was very silly of me to want to do that.

HELMER.
What do you mean?

NORA.
I can't hit upon anything that will do; everything I think of seems so silly and insignificant.

HELMER.
Does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?

NORA.
(standing behind his chair with her arms on the back of it). Are you very busy, Torvald?

HELMER.
Well —

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