Ghosts By Henrik Ibsen Act II

OSWALD. I saw her face flush, and then she said, "Yes, I should like it of all things." "Ah, well," I replied, "it might perhaps be managed" — or something like that.

MRS. ALVING. And then?

OSWALD. Of course I had forgotten all about it; but the day before yesterday I happened to ask her whether she was glad I was to stay at home so long —


OSWALD. And then she gave me such a strange look, and asked, "But what's to become of my trip to Paris?"

MRS. ALVING. Her trip!

OSWALD. And so it came out that she had taken the thing seriously; that she had been thinking of me the whole time, and had set to work to learn French —

MRS. ALVING. So that was why — !

OSWALD. Mother — when I saw that fresh, lovely, splendid girl standing there before me — till then I had hardly noticed her — but when she stood there as though with open arms ready to receive me —

MRS. ALVING. Oswald!

OSWALD. — then it flashed upon me that in her lay my salvation; for I saw that she was full of the joy of life.

MRS. ALVING. [Starts.] The joy of life? Can there be salvation in that?

REGINA. [From the dining room, with a bottle of champagne.] I'm sorry to have been so long, but I had to go to the cellar. [Places the bottle on the table.]

OSWALD. And now bring another glass.

REGINA. [Looks at him in surprise.] There is Mrs. Alving's glass, Mr. Alving.

OSWALD. Yes, but bring one for yourself, Regina. [REGINA starts and gives a lightning-like side glance at MRS. ALVING.] Why do you wait?

REGINA. [Softly and hesitatingly.] Is it Mrs. Alving's wish?

MRS. ALVING. Bring the glass, Regina.

[REGINA goes out into the dining-room.]

OSWALD. [Follows her with his eyes.] Have you noticed how she walks? — so firmly and lightly!

MRS. ALVING. This can never be, Oswald!

OSWALD. It's a settled thing. Can't you see that? It's no use saying anything against it.

[REGINA enters with an empty glass, which she keeps in her hand.]

OSWALD. Sit down, Regina.

[REGINA looks inquiringly at MRS. ALVING.]

MRS. ALVING. Sit down. [REGINA sits on a chair by the dining room door, still holding the empty glass in her hand.] Oswald — what were you saying about the joy of life?

OSWALD. Ah, the joy of life, mother — that's a thing you don't know much about in these parts. I have never felt it here.

MRS. ALVING. Not when you are with me?

OSWALD. Not when I'm at home. But you don't understand that.

MRS. ALVING. Yes, yes; I think I almost understand it — now.

OSWALD. And then, too, the joy of work! At bottom, it's the same thing. But that, too, you know nothing about.

MRS. ALVING. Perhaps you are right. Tell me more about it, Oswald.

OSWALD. I only mean that here people are brought up to believe that work is a curse and a punishment for sin, and that life is something miserable, something; it would be best to have done with, the sooner the better.

MRS. ALVING. "A vale of tears," yes; and we certainly do our best to make it one.

OSWALD. But in the great world people won't hear of such things. There, nobody really believes such doctrines any longer. There, you feel it a positive bliss and ecstasy merely to draw the breath of life. Mother, have you noticed that everything I have painted has turned upon the joy of life? — always, always upon the joy of life? — light and sunshine and glorious air-and faces radiant with happiness. That is why I'm afraid of remaining at home with you.

MRS. ALVING. Afraid? What are you afraid of here, with me?

OSWALD. I'm afraid lest all my instincts should be warped into ugliness.

MRS. ALVING. [Looks steadily at him.] Do you think that is what would happen?

OSWALD. I know it. You may live the same life here as there, and yet it won't be the same life.

MRS. ALVING. [Who has been listening eagerly, rises, her eyes big with thought, and says:] Now I see the sequence of things.

OSWALD. What is it you see?

MRS. ALVING. I see it now for the first time. And now I can speak.

OSWALD. [Rising.] Mother, I don't understand you.

REGINA. [Who has also risen.] Perhaps I ought to go?

MRS. ALVING. No. Stay here. Now I can speak. Now, my boy, you shall know the whole truth. And then you can choose. Oswald! Regina!

OSWALD. Hush! The Pastor —

MANDERS. [Enters by the hall door.] There! We have had a most edifying time down there.

OSWALD. So have we.

MANDERS. We must stand by Engstrand and his Sailors' Home. Regina must go to him and help him —

REGINA. No thank you, sir.

MANDERS. [Noticing her for the first tine.] What — ? You here? And with a glass in your hand!

REGINA. [Hastily putting the glass down.] Pardon!

OSWALD. Regina is going with me, Mr. Manders.

MANDERS. Going! With you!

OSWALD. Yes; as my wife — if she wishes it.

MANDERS. But, merciful God — !

REGINA. I can't help it, sir.

OSWALD. Or she'll stay here, if I stay.

REGINA. [Involuntarily.] Here!

MANDERS. I am thunderstruck at your conduct, Mrs. Alving.

MRS. ALVING. They will do neither one thing nor the other; for now I can speak out plainly.

MANDERS. You surely will not do that! No, no, no!

MRS. ALVING. Yes, I can speak and I will. And no ideals shall suffer after all.

OSWALD. Mother — what is it you are hiding from me?

REGINA. [Listening.] Oh, ma'am, listen! Don't you hear shouts outside. [She goes into the conservatory and looks out.]

OSWALD. [At the window on the left.] What's going on? Where does that light come from?

REGINA. [Cries out.] The Orphanage is on fire!

MRS. ALVING. [Rushing to the window.] On fire!

MANDERS. On fire! Impossible! I've just come from there.

OSWALD. Where's my hat? Oh, never mind it — Father's Orphanage — ! [He rushes out through the garden door.]

MRS. ALVING. My shawl, Regina! The whole place is in a blaze!

MANDERS. Terrible! Mrs. Alving, it is a judgment upon this abode of lawlessness.

MRS. ALVING. Yes, of course. Come, Regina. [She and REGINA hasten out through the hall.]

MANDERS. [Clasps his hands together.] And we left it uninsured! [He goes out the same way.]

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