Ghosts By Henrik Ibsen Act I

REGINA. Poor mother! you very soon tormented her into her grave.

ENGSTRAND. [With a twist of his shoulders.] Oh, of course! I'm to have the blame for everything.

REGINA. [Turns away; half aloud.] Ugh — ! And that leg too!

ENGSTRAND. What do you say, my child?

REGINA. Pied de mouton.

ENGSTRAND. Is that English, eh?


ENGSTRAND. Ay, ay; you've picked up some learning out here; and that may come in useful now, Regina.

REGINA. [After a short silence.] What do you want with me in town?

ENGSTRAND. Can you ask what a father wants with his only child? A'n't I a lonely, forlorn widower?

REGINA. Oh, don't try on any nonsense like that with me! Why do you want me?

ENGSTRAND. Well, let me tell you, I've been thinking of setting up in a new line of business.

REGINA. [Contemptuously.] You've tried that often enough, and much good you've done with it.

ENGSTRAND. Yes, but this time you shall see, Regina! Devil take me —

REGINA. [Stamps.] Stop your swearing!

ENGSTRAND. Hush, hush; you're right enough there, my girl. What I wanted to say was just this — I've laid by a very tidy pile from this Orphanage job.

REGINA. Have you? That's a good thing for you.

ENGSTRAND. What can a man spend his ha'pence on here in this country hole?

REGINA. Well, what then?

ENGSTRAND. Why, you see, I thought of putting the money into some paying speculation. I thought of a sort of a sailor's tavern —


ENGSTRAND. A regular high-class affair, of course; not any sort of pig-sty for common sailors. No! damn it! it would be for captains and mates, and — and — regular swells, you know.

REGINA. And I was to — ?

ENGSTRAND. You were to help, to be sure. Only for the look of the thing, you understand. Devil a bit of hard work shall you have, my girl. You shall do exactly what you like.

REGINA. Oh, indeed!

ENGSTRAND. But there must be a petticoat in the house; that's as clear as daylight. For I want to have it a bit lively like in the evenings, with singing and dancing, and so on. You must remember they're weary wanderers on the ocean of life. [Nearer.] Now don't be a fool and stand in your own light, Regina. What's to become of you out here? Your mistress has given you a lot of learning; but what good is that to you? You're to look after the children at the new Orphanage, I hear. Is that the sort of thing for you, eh? Are you so dead set on wearing your life out for a pack of dirty brats?

REGINA. No; if things go as I want them to — Well there's no saying — there's no saying.

ENGSTRAND. What do you mean by "there's no saying"?

REGINA. Never you mind. — How much money have you saved?

ENGSTRAND. What with one thing and another, a matter of seven or eight hundred crowns. [A "krone" is equal to one shilling and three-halfpence.]

REGINA. That's not so bad.

ENGSTRAND. It's enough to make a start with, my girl.

REGINA. Aren't you thinking of giving me any?

ENGSTRAND. No, I'm blest if I am!

REGINA. Not even of sending me a scrap of stuff for a new dress?

ENGSTRAND. Come to town with me, my lass, and you'll soon get dresses enough.

REGINA. Pooh! I can do that on my own account, if I want to.

ENGSTRAND. No, a father's guiding hand is what you want, Regina. Now, I've got my eye on a capital house in Little Harbour Street. They don't want much ready-money; and it could be a sort of a Sailors' Home, you know.

REGINA. But I will not live with you! I have nothing whatever to do with you. Be off!

ENGSTRAND. You wouldn't stop long with me, my girl. No such luck! If you knew how to play your cards, such a fine figure of a girl as you've grown in the last year or two —


ENGSTRAND. You'd soon get hold of some mate — or maybe even a captain —

REGINA. I won't marry any one of that sort. Sailors have no savoir vivre.

ENGSTRAND. What's that they haven't got?

REGINA. I know what sailors are, I tell you. They're not the sort of people to marry.

ENGSTRAND. Then never mind about marrying them. You can make it pay all the same. [More confidentially.] He — the Englishman — the man with the yacht — he came down with three hundred dollars, he did; and she wasn't a bit handsomer than you.

REGINA. [Making for him.] Out you go!

ENGSTRAND. [Falling back.] Come, come! You're not going to hit me, I hope.

REGINA. Yes, if you begin talking about mother I shall hit you. Get away with you, I say! [Drives him back towards the garden door.] And don't slam the doors. Young Mr. Alving —

ENGSTRAND. He's asleep; I know. You're mightily taken up about young Mr. Alving — [More softly.] Oho! you don't mean to say it's him as — ?

REGINA. Be off this minute! You're crazy, I tell you! No, not that way. There comes Pastor Manders. Down the kitchen stairs with you.

ENGSTRAND. [Towards the right.] Yes, yes, I'm going. But just you talk to him as is coming there. He's the man to tell you what a child owes its father. For I am your father all the same, you know. I can prove it from the church register.

[He goes out through the second door to the right, which REGINA has opened, and closes again after him. REGINA glances hastily at herself in the mirror, dusts herself with her pocket handkerchief; and settles her necktie; then she busies herself with the flowers.]

[PASTOR MANDERS, wearing an overcoat, carrying an umbrella, and with a small travelling-bag on a strap over his shoulder, comes through the garden door into the conservatory.]

MANDERS. Good-morning, Miss Engstrand.

REGINA. [Turning round, surprised and pleased.] No, really! Good morning, Pastor Manders. Is the steamer in already?

MANDERS. It is just in. [Enters the sitting-room.] Terrible weather we have been having lately.

REGINA. [Follows him.] It's such blessed weather for the country, sir.

MANDERS. No doubt; you are quite right. We townspeople give too little thought to that. [He begins to take of his overcoat.]

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