REGINA. Oh, mayn't I help you? — There! Why, how wet it is? I'll just hang it up in the hall. And your umbrella, too — I'll open it and let it dry.
[She goes out with the things through the second door on the right. PASTOR MANDERS takes off his travelling bag and lays it and his hat on a chair. Meanwhile REGINA comes in again.]
MANDERS. Ah, it's a comfort to get safe under cover. I hope everything is going on well here?
REGINA. Yes, thank you, sir.
MANDERS. You have your hands full, I suppose, in preparation for to-morrow?
REGINA. Yes, there's plenty to do, of course.
MANDERS. And Mrs. Alving is at home, I trust?
REGINA. Oh dear, yes. She's just upstairs, looking after the young master's chocolate.
MANDERS. Yes, by-the-bye — I heard down at the pier that Oswald had arrived.
REGINA. Yes, he came the day before yesterday. We didn't expect him before to-day.
MANDERS. Quite strong and well, I hope?
REGINA. Yes, thank you, quite; but dreadfully tired with the journey. He has made one rush right through from Paris — the whole way in one train, I believe. He's sleeping a little now, I think; so perhaps we'd better talk a little quietly.
MANDERS. Sh! — as quietly as you please.
REGINA. [Arranging an arm-chair beside the table.] Now, do sit down, Pastor Manders, and make yourself comfortable. [He sits down; she places a footstool under his feet.] There! Are you comfortable now, sir?
MANDERS. Thanks, thanks, extremely so. [Looks at her.] Do you know, Miss Engstrand, I positively believe you have grown since I last saw you.
REGINA. Do you think so, Sir? Mrs. Alving says I've filled out too.
MANDERS. Filled out? Well, perhaps a little; just enough.
REGINA. Shall I tell Mrs. Alving you are here?
MANDERS. Thanks, thanks, there is no hurry, my dear child. — By-the-bye, Regina, my good girl, tell me: how is your father getting on out here?
REGINA. Oh, thank you, sir, he's getting on well enough.
MANDERS. He called upon me last time he was in town.
REGINA. Did he, indeed? He's always so glad of a chance of talking to you, sir.
MANDERS. And you often look in upon him at his work, I daresay?
REGINA. I? Oh, of course, when I have time, I —
MANDERS. Your father is not a man of strong character, Miss Engstrand. He stands terribly in need of a guiding hand.
REGINA. Oh, yes; I daresay he does.
MANDERS. He requires some one near him whom he cares for, and whose judgment he respects. He frankly admitted as much when he last came to see me.
REGINA. Yes, he mentioned something of the sort to me. But I don't know whether Mrs. Alving can spare me; especially now that we've got the new Orphanage to attend to. And then I should be so sorry to leave Mrs. Alving; she has always been so kind to me.
MANDERS. But a daughter's duty, my good girl — Of course, we should first have to get your mistress's consent.
REGINA. But I don't know whether it would be quite proper for me, at my age, to keep house for a single man.
MANDERS. What! My dear Miss Engstrand! When the man is your own father!
REGINA. Yes, that may be; but all the same — Now, if it were in a thoroughly nice house, and with a real gentleman —
MANDERS. Why, my dear Regina —
REGINA. — one I could love and respect, and be a daughter to —
MANDERS. Yes, but my dear, good child —
REGINA. Then I should be glad to go to town. It's very lonely out here; you know yourself, sir, what it is to be alone in the world. And I can assure you I'm both quick and willing. Don't you know of any such place for me, sir?
MANDERS. I? No, certainly not.
REGINA. But, dear, dear Sir, do remember me if —
MANDERS. [Rising.] Yes, yes, certainly, Miss Engstrand.
REGINA. For if I —
MANDERS. Will you be so good as to tell your mistress I am here?
REGINA. I will, at once, sir. [She goes out to the left.]
MANDERS. [Paces the room two or three times, stands a moment in the background with his hands behind his back, and looks out over the garden. Then he returns to the table, takes up a book, and looks at the title-page; starts, and looks at several books.] Ha — indeed!
[MRS. ALVING enters by the door on the left; she is followed by REGINA, who immediately goes out by the first door on the right.]
MRS. ALVING. [Holds out her hand.] Welcome, my dear Pastor.
MANDERS. How do you do, Mrs. Alving? Here I am as I promised.
MRS. ALVING. Always punctual to the minute.
MANDERS. You may believe it was not so easy for me to get away. With all the Boards and Committees I belong to —
MRS. ALVING. That makes it all the kinder of you to come so early. Now we can get through our business before dinner. But where is your portmanteau?
MANDERS. [Quickly.] I left it down at the inn. I shall sleep there to-night.
MRS. ALVING. [Suppressing a smile.] Are you really not to be persuaded, even now, to pass the night under my roof?
MANDERS. No, no, Mrs. Alving; many thanks. I shall stay at the inn, as usual. It is so conveniently near the landing-stage.
MRS. ALVING. Well, you must have your own way. But I really should have thought we two old people —
MANDERS. Now you are making fun of me. Ah, you're naturally in great spirits to-day — what with to-morrow's festival and Oswald's return.
MRS. ALVING. Yes; you can think what a delight it is to me! It's more than two years since he was home last. And now he has promised to stay with me all the winter.
MANDERS. Has he really? That is very nice and dutiful of him. For I can well believe that life in Rome and Paris has very different attractions from any we can offer here.