A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act I

HELMER.
Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the best of intentions to please us all, and that's the main thing. But it is a good thing that our hard times are over.

NORA.
Yes, it is really wonderful.

HELMER.
This time I needn't sit here and be dull all alone, and you needn't ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands —

NORA.
(clapping her hands). No, Torvald, I needn't any longer, need I! It's wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (Taking his arm.) Now I will tell you how I have been thinking we ought to arrange things, Torvald. As soon as Christmas is over — (A bell rings in the hall.) There's the bell. (She tidies the room a little.) There's someone at the door. What a nuisance!

HELMER.
If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.

MAID.
(in the doorway). A lady to see you, ma'am, — a stranger.

NORA.
Ask her to come in.

MAID.
(to HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.

HELMER.
Did he go straight into my room?

MAID.
Yes, sir.

(HELMER goes into his room. The MAID ushers in MRS. LINDE, who is in traveling dress, and shuts the door.)

MRS. LINDE.
(in a dejected and timid voice). How do you do, Nora?

NORA.
(doubtfully). How do you do —

MRS. LINDE.
You don't recognize me, I suppose.

NORA.
No, I don't know — yes, to be sure, I seem to — (Suddenly.) Yes! Christine! Is it really you?

MRS. LINDE.
Yes, it is I.

NORA.
Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how could I — (In a gentle voice.) How you have altered, Christine!

MRS. LINDE.
Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years —

NORA.
Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight years have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now you have come into the town, and have taken this long journey in winter — that was plucky of you.

MRS. LINDE.
I arrived by steamer this morning.

NORA.
To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How delightful! We will have such fun together! But take off your things. You are not cold, I hope. (Helps her.) Now we will sit down by the stove, and be cosy. No, take this arm-chair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair. (Takes her hands.) Now you look like your old self again; it was only the first moment — You are a little paler, Christine, and perhaps a little thinner.

MRS. LINDE.
And much, much older, Nora.

NORA.
Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not much. (Stops suddenly and speaks seriously.) What a thoughtless creature I am, chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine, do forgive me.

MRS. LINDE.
What do you mean, Nora?

NORA.
(gently). Poor Christine, you are a widow.

MRS. LINDE.
Yes; it is three years ago now.

NORA.
Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you, Christine, I meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but I always put it off and something always prevented me.

MRS. LINDE.
I quite understand, dear.

NORA.
It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must have suffered. And he left you nothing?

MRS. LINDE.
No.

NORA.
And no children?

MRS. LINDE.
No.

NORA.
Nothing at all, then?

MRS. LINDE.
Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.

NORA.
(looking incredulously at her). But, Christine, is that possible?

MRS. LINDE.
(smiles sadly and strokes her hair). It sometimes happens, Nora.

NORA.
So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I have three lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they are out with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.

MRS. LINDE.
No, no; I want to hear about you.

NORA.
No, you must begin. I mustn't be selfish today; today I must only think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must tell you. Do you know we have just had a great piece of good luck?

MRS. LINDE.
No, what is it?

NORA.
Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!

MRS. LINDE.
Your husband? What good luck!

NORA.
Yes tremendous! A barrister's profession is such an uncertain thing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury cases; and naturally Torvald has never been willing to do that, and I quite agree with him. You may imagine how pleased we are! He is to take up his work in the Bank at the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots of commissions. For the future we can live quite differently — we can do just as we like. I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be splendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't it?

MRS. LINDE.
Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have what one needs.

NORA.
No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.

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