Ghosts By Henrik Ibsen Act III

MANDERS. [With a sigh.] And unfortunately I cannot tell how long I shall be able to retain control of these things — whether public opinion may not compel me to retire. It entirely depends upon the result of the official inquiry into the fire —

MRS. ALVING. What are you talking about?

MANDERS. And the result can by no means be foretold.

ENGSTRAND. [Comes close to him.] Ay, but it can though. For here stands old Jacob Engstrand.

MANDERS. Well well, but — ?

ENGSTRAND. [More softy.] And Jacob Engstrand isn't the man to desert a noble benefactor in the hour of need, as the saying goes.

MANDERS. Yes, but my good fellow — how — ?

ENGSTRAND. Jacob Engstrand may be likened to a sort of a guardian angel, he may, your Reverence.

MANDERS. No, no; I really cannot accept that.

ENGSTRAND. Oh, that'll be the way of it, all the same. I know a man as has taken others' sins upon himself before now, I do.

MANDERS. Jacob! [Wrings his hand.] Yours is a rare nature. Well, you shall be helped with your Sailors' Home. That you may rely upon. [ENGSTRAND tries to thank him, but cannot for emotion.]

MANDERS. [Hangs his travelling-bag over his shoulder.] And now let us set out. We two will go together.

ENGSTRAND. [At the dining-room door, softly to REGINA.] You come along too, my lass. You shall live as snug as the yolk in an egg.

REGINA. [Tosses her head.] Merci! [She goes out into the hall and fetches MANDERS' overcoat.]

MANDERS. Good-bye, Mrs. Alving! and may the spirit of Law and Order descend upon this house, and that quickly.

MRS. ALVING. Good-bye, Pastor Manders. [She goes up towards the conservatory, as she sees OSWALD coming in through the garden door.]

ENGSTRAND. [While he and REGINA help MANGERS to get his coat on.] Good-bye, my child. And if any trouble should come to you, you know where Jacob Engstrand is to be found. [Softly.] Little Harbour Street, h'm — ! [To MRS. ALVING and OSWALD.] And the refuge for wandering mariners shall be called "Chamberlain Alving's Home," that it shall! And if so be as I'm spared to carry on that house in my own way, I make so bold as to promise that it shall be worthy of the Chamberlain's memory.

MANDERS. [In the doorway.] H'm — h'm! — Come along, my dear Enstrand. Good-bye! Good-bye! [He and ENGSTRAND go out through the hall.]

OSWALD. [Goes towards the table.] What house was he talking about?

MRS. ALVING. Oh, a kind of Home that he and Pastor Manders want to set up.

OSWALD. It will burn down like the other.

MRS. ALVING. What makes you think so?

OSWALD. Everything will burn. All that recalls father's memory is doomed. Here am I, too, burning down. [REGINA starts and looks at him.]

MRS. ALVING. Oswald! You oughtn't to have remained so long down there, my poor boy.

OSWALD. [Sits down by the table.] I almost think you are right.

MRS. ALVING. Let me dry your face, Oswald; you are quite wet. [She dries his face with her pocket-handkerchief.]

OSWALD. [Stares indifferently in front of him.] Thanks, mother.

MRS. ALVING. Are you not tired, Oswald? Should you like to sleep?

OSWALD. [Nervously.] No, no — not to sleep! I never sleep. I only pretend to. [Sadly.] That will come soon enough.

MRS. ALVING. [Looking sorrowfully at him.] Yes, you really are ill, my blessed boy.

REGINA. [Eagerly.] Is Mr. Alving ill?

OSWALD. [Impatiently.] Oh, do shut all the doors! This killing dread —

MRS. ALVING. Close the doors, Regina.

[REGINA shuts them and remains standing by the hall door. MRS. ALVING takes her shawl off: REGINA does the same. MRS. ALVING draws a chair across to OSWALD'S, and sits by him.]

MRS. ALVING. There now! I am going to sit beside you —

OSWALD. Yes, do. And Regina shall stay here too. Regina shall be with me always. You will come to the rescue, Regina, won't you?

REGINA. I don't understand —

MRS. ALVING. To the rescue?

OSWALD. Yes — when the need comes.

MRS. ALVING. Oswald, have you not your mother to come to the rescue?

OSWALD. You? [Smiles.] No, mother; that rescue you will never bring me. [Laughs sadly.] You! ha ha! [Looks earnestly at her.] Though, after all, who ought to do it if not you? [Impetuously.] Why can't you say "thou" to me, Regina? [Note: "Sige du" = Fr. tutoyer] Why do'n't you call me "Oswald"?

REGINA. [Softly.] I don't think Mrs. Alving would like it.

MRS. ALVING. You shall have leave to, presently. And meanwhile sit over here beside us.

[REGINA seats herself demurely and hesitatingly at the other side of the table.]

MRS. ALVING. And now, my poor suffering boy, I am going to take the burden off your mind —

OSWALD. You, mother?

MRS. ALVING. — all the gnawing remorse and self-reproach you speak of.

OSWALD. And you think you can do that?

MRS. ALVING. Yes, now I can, Oswald. A little while ago you spoke of the joy of life; and at that word a new light burst for me over my life and everything connected with it.

OSWALD. [Shakes his head.] I don't understand you.

MRS. ALVING. You ought to have known your father when he was a young lieutenant. He was brimming over with the joy of life!

OSWALD. Yes, I know he was.

MRS. ALVING. It was like a breezy day only to look at him. And what exuberant strength and vitality there was in him!

OSWALD. Well — ?

MRS. ALVING. Well then, child of joy as he was — for he was like a child in those days — he had to live at home here in a half-grown town, which had no joys to offer him — only dissipations. He had no object in life — only an official position. He had no work into which he could throw himself heart and soul; he had only business. He had not a single comrade that could realise what the joy of life meant — only loungers and boon-companions —

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