A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act II

HELMER.
Nice? — because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well, you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But I am not going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your dress, I expect.

NORA.
I suppose you are going to work.

HELMER.
Yes. (Shows her a bundle of papers.) Look at that. I have just been into the bank. (Turns to go into his room.)

NORA.
Torvald.

HELMER.
Yes.

NORA.
If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, very prettily — ?

HELMER.
What then?

NORA.
Would you do it?

HELMER.
I should like to hear what it is, first.

NORA.
Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you would be nice, and do what she wants.

HELMER.
Speak plainly.

NORA.
Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song rising and falling —

HELMER.
Well, my skylark does that anyhow.

NORA.
I would play the fairy and dance for you in the moonlight, Torvald.

HELMER.
Nora — you surely don't mean that request you made of me this morning?

NORA.
(going near him). Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly —

HELMER.
Have you really the courage to open up that question again?

NORA.
Yes, dear, you must do as I ask; you must let Krogstad keep his post in the bank.

HELMER.
My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs. Linde shall have.

NORA.
Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.

HELMER.
This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to give him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am expected to —

NORA.
That isn't the reason, Torvald. It is for your own sake. This fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have told me so yourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm. I am frightened to death of him —

HELMER.
Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that scare you.

NORA.
What do you mean?

HELMER.
Naturally you are thinking of your father.

NORA.
Yes — yes, of course. Just recall to your mind what these malicious creatures wrote in the papers about papa, and how horribly they slandered him. I believe they would have procured his dismissal if the Department had not sent you over to inquire into it, and if you had not been so kindly disposed and helpful to him.

HELMER.
My little Nora, there is an important difference between your father and me. Your father's reputation as a public official was not above suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to be so, as long as I hold my office.

NORA.
You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful home, and have no cares — you and I and the children, Torvald! That is why I beg you so earnestly —

HELMER.
And it is just by interceding for him that you make it impossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank that I mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the new manager has changed his mind at his wife's bidding —

NORA.
And what if it did?

HELMER.
Of course! — if only this obstinate little person can get her way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts of outside influence? I should very soon feel the consequences of it, I can tell you. And besides, there is one thing that makes it quite impossible for me to have Krogstad in the bank as long as I am manager.

NORA.
Whatever is that?

HELMER.
His moral failings I might perhaps have overlooked, if necessary —

NORA.
Yes, you could — couldn't you?

HELMER.
And, I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew him when we were boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often prove an incubus in after life. I may as well tell you plainly, we were once on very intimate terms with one another. But this tactless fellow lays no restraint upon himself when other people are present. On the contrary, he thinks it gives him the right to adopt a familiar tone with me, and every minute it is "I say, Helmer, old fellow!" and that sort of thing. I assure you it is extremely painful to me. He would make my position in the bank intolerable.

NORA.
Torvald, I don't believe you mean that.

HELMER.
Don't you? Why not?

NORA.
Because it is such a narrow-minded way of looking at things.

HELMER.
What are you saying? Narrow-minded? Do you think I am narrow-minded?

NORA.
No, just the opposite, dear — and it is exactly for that reason.

HELMER.
It's the same thing. You say my point of view is narrow-minded, so I must be so, too. Narrow-minded! Very well — I must put an end to this. (Goes to the hall door and calls.) Helen!

NORA.
What are you going to do?

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