A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act I

MRS. LINDE.
He is a widower now, isn't he?

NORA.
With several children. There now, it is burning up. (Shuts the door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair aside.)

MRS. LINDE.
They say he carries on various kinds of business.

NORA.
Really! Perhaps he does; I don't know anything about it. But don't let us think of business; it is so tiresome.

DOCTOR RANK.
(comes out of HELMER'S study. Before he shuts the door he calls to him). No, my dear fellow, I won't disturb you; I would rather go in to your wife for a little while. (Shuts the door and sees Mrs. LINDE.) I beg your pardon; I am afraid I am disturbing you too.

NORA.
No, not at all. (Introducing him.) Doctor Rank, Mrs. Linde.

RANK.
I have often heard Mrs. Linde's name mentioned here. I think I passed you on the stairs when I arrived, Mrs. Linde?

MRS. LINDE.
Yes, I go up very slowly; I can't manage stairs well.

RANK.
Ah! some slight internal weakness?

MRS. LINDE.
No, the fact is I have been overworking myself.

RANK.
Nothing more than that? Then I suppose you have come to town to amuse yourself with our entertainments?

MRS. LINDE.
I have come to look for work.

RANK.
Is that a good cure for overwork?

MRS. LINDE.
One must live, Doctor Rank.

RANK.
Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is necessary.

NORA.
Look here, Doctor Rank — you know you want to live.

RANK.
Certainly. However wretched I may feel, I want to prolong the agony as long as possible. All my patients are like that. And so are those who are morally diseased; one of them, and a bad case, too, is at this very moment with Helmer —

MRS. LINDE.
(sadly). Ah!

NORA.
Whom do you mean?

RANK.
A lawyer of the name of Krogstad, a fellow you don't know at all. He suffers from a diseased moral character, Mrs. Helmer; but even he began talking of its being highly important that he should live.

NORA.
Did he? What did he want to speak to Torvald about?

RANK.
I have no idea; I only heard that it was something about the Bank.

NORA.
I didn't know this — what's his name — Krogstad had anything to do with the Bank.

RANK.
Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (To Mrs. LINDE.) I don't know whether you find also in your part of the world that there are certain people who go zealously snuffing about to smell out moral corruption, and, as soon as they have found some, put the person concerned into some lucrative position where they can keep their eye on him. Healthy natures are left out in the cold.

MRS. LINDE.
Still I think the sick are those who most need taking care of.

RANK.
(shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That is the sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.

(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into smothered laughter and claps her hands.)

RANK.
Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society really is?

NORA.
What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at something quite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me, Doctor Rank, are all the people who are employed in the Bank dependent on Torvald now?

RANK.
Is that what you find so extremely amusing?

NORA.
(smiling and humming). That's my affair! (Walking about the room.) It's perfectly glorious to think that we have — that Torvald has so much power over so many people. (Takes the packet from her pocket.) Doctor Rank, what do you say to a macaroon?

RANK.
What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.

NORA.
Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.

MRS. LINDE.
What! I? —

NORA.
Oh, well, don't be alarmed! You couldn't know that Torvald had forbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will spoil my teeth. But, bah! — once in a way — That's so, isn't it, Doctor Rank? By your leave! (Puts a macaroon into his mouth.) You must have one too, Christine. And I shall have one, just a little one — or at most two. (Walking about.) I am tremendously happy. There is just one thing in the world now that I should dearly love to do.

RANK.
Well, what is that?

NORA.
It's something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald could hear me.

RANK.
Well, why can't you say it?

NORA.
No, I daren't; it's so shocking.

MRS. LINDE.
Shocking?

RANK.
Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with us you might. What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could hear you?

NORA.
I should just love to say — Well, I'm damned!

RANK.
Are you mad?

MRS. LINDE.
Nora, dear — !

RANK.
Say it, here he is!

NORA.
(hiding the packet). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER comes out of his room, with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand.)

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