OSWALD. [Seizes both her hands and kisses them.] Yes, yes, I see it. When I'm at home, I see it, of course; and that's almost the hardest part for me. — But now you know the whole story and now we won't talk any more about it to-day. I daren't think of it for long together. [Goes up the room.] Get me something to drink, mother.
MRS. ALVING. To drink? What do you want to drink now?
OSWALD. Oh, anything you like. You have some cold punch in the house.
MRS. ALVING. Yes, but my dear Oswald —
OSWALD. Don't refuse me, mother. Do be kind, now! I must have something to wash down all these gnawing thoughts. [Goes into the conservatory.] And then — it's so dark here! [MRS. ALVING pulls a bell-rope on the right.] And this ceaseless rain! It may go on week after week, for months together. Never to get a glimpse of the sun! I can't recollect ever having seen the sun shine all the times I've been at home.
MRS. ALVING. Oswald — you are thinking of going away from me.
OSWALD. H'm — [Drawing a heavy breath.] — I'm not thinking of anything. I cannot think of anything! [In a low voice.] I let thinking alone.
REGINA. [From the dining-room.] Did you ring, ma'am?
MRS. ALVING. Yes; let us have the lamp in.
REGINA. Yes, ma'am. It's ready lighted. [Goes out.]
MRS. ALVING. [Goes across to OSWALD.] Oswald, be frank with me.
OSWALD. Well, so I am, mother. [Goes to the table.] I think I have told you enough.
[REGINA brings the lamp and sets it upon the table.]
MRS. ALVING. Regina, you may bring us a small bottle of champagne.
REGINA. Very well, ma'am. [Goes out.]
OSWALD. [Puts his arm round MRS. ALVING's neck.] That's just what I wanted. I knew mother wouldn't let her boy go thirsty.
MRS. ALVING. My own, poor, darling Oswald; how could I deny you anything now?
OSWALD. [Eagerly.] Is that true, mother? Do you mean it?
MRS. ALVING. How? What?
OSWALD. That you couldn't deny me anything.
MRS. ALVING. My dear Oswald —
REGINA. [Brings a tray with a half-bottle of champagne and two glasses, which she sets on the table.] Shall I open it?
OSWALD. No, thanks. I will do it myself.
[REGINA goes out again.]
MRS. ALVING. [Sits down by the table.] What was it you meant — that I musn't deny you?
OSWALD. [Busy opening the bottle.] First let us have a glass — or two.
[The cork pops; he pours wine into one glass, and is about to pour it into the other.]
MRS. ALVING. [Holding her hand over it.] Thanks; not for me.
OSWALD. Oh! won't you? Then I will!
[He empties the glass, fells, and empties it again; then he sits down by the table.]
MRS. ALVING. [In expectancy.] Well?
OSWALD. [Without looking at her.] Tell me — I thought you and Pastor Manders seemed so odd — so quiet — at dinner to-day.
MRS. ALVING. Did you notice it?
OSWALD. Yes. H'm — [After a short silence.] Tell me: what do you think of Regina?
MRS. ALVING. What do I think?
OSWALD. Yes; isn't she splendid?
MRS. ALVING. My dear Oswald, you don't know her as I do —
MRS. ALVING. Regina, unfortunately, was allowed to stay at home too long. I ought to have taken her earlier into my house.
OSWALD. Yes, but isn't she splendid to look at, mother? [He fills his glass.]
MRS. ALVING. Regina has many serious faults —
OSWALD. Oh, what does that matter? [He drinks again.]
MRS. ALVING. But I am fond of her, nevertheless, and I am responsible for her. I wouldn't for all the world have any harm happen to her.
OSWALD. [Springs up.] Mother, Regina is my only salvation!
MRS. ALVING. [Rising.] What do you mean by that?
OSWALD. I cannot go on bearing all this anguish of soul alone.
MRS. ALVING. Have you not your mother to share it with you?
OSWALD. Yes; that's what I thought; and so I came home to you. But that will not do. I see it won't do. I cannot endure my life here.
MRS. ALVING. Oswald!
OSWALD. I must live differently, mother. That is why I must leave you. I will not have you looking on at it.
MRS. ALVING. My unhappy boy! But, Oswald, while you are so ill as this —
OSWALD. If it were only the illness, I should stay with you, mother, you may be sure; for you are the best friend I have in the world.
MRS. ALVING. Yes, indeed I am, Oswald; am I not?
OSWALD. [Wanders restlessly about.] But it's all the torment, the gnawing remorse — and then, the great, killing dread. Oh — that awful dread!
MRS. ALVING. [Walking after him.] Dread? What dread? What do you mean?
OSWALD. Oh, you mustn't ask me any more. I don't know. I can't describe it.
MRS. ALVING. [Goes over to the right and pulls the bell.]
OSWALD. What is it you want?
MRS. ALVING. I want my boy to be happy — that is what I want. He sha'n't go on brooding over things [To REGINA, who appears at the door:] More champagne — a large bottle. [REGINA goes.]
MRS. ALVING. Do you think we don't know how to live here at home?
OSWALD. Isn't she splendid to look at? How beautifully she's built! And so thoroughly healthy!
MRS. ALVING. [Sits by the table.] Sit down, Oswald; let us talk quietly together.
OSWALD. [Sits.] I daresay you don't know, mother, that I owe Regina some reparation.
MRS. ALVING. You!
OSWALD. For a bit of thoughtlessness, or whatever you like to call it — very innocent, at any rate. When I was home last time —
MRS. ALVING. Well?
OSWALD. She used often to ask me about Paris, and I used to tell her one thing and another. Then I recollect I happened to say to her one day, "Shouldn't you like to go there yourself?"
MRS. ALVING. Well?