OSWALD. Mother — !
MRS. ALVING. So the inevitable happened.
OSWALD. The inevitable?
MRS. ALVING. You told me yourself, this evening, what would become of you if you stayed at home.
OSWALD. Do you mean to say that father — ?
MRS. ALVING. Your poor father found no outlet for the overpowering joy of life that was in him. And I brought no brightness into his home.
OSWALD. Not even you?
MRS. ALVING. They had taught me a great deal about duties and so forth, which I went on obstinately believing in. Everything was marked out into duties — into my duties, and his duties, and — I am afraid I made his home intolerable for your poor father, Oswald.
OSWALD. Why have you never spoken of this in writing to me?
MRS. ALVING. I have never before seen it in such a light that I could speak of it to you, his son.
OSWALD. In what light did you see it, then?
MRS. ALVING. [Slowly.] I saw only this one thing: that your father was a broken-down man before you were born.
OSWALD. [Softly.] Ah — ! [He rises and walks away to the window.]
MRS. ALVING. And then; day after day, I dwelt on the one thought that by rights Regina should be at home in this house — just like my own boy.
OSWALD. [Turning round quickly.] Regina — !
REGINA. [Springs up and asks, with bated breath.] I — ?
MRS. ALVING. Yes, now you know it, both of you.
REGINA. [To herself.] So mother was that kind of woman.
MRS. ALVING. Your mother had many good qualities, Regina.
REGINA. Yes, but she was one of that sort, all the same. Oh, I've often suspected it; but — And now, if you please, ma'am, may I be allowed to go away at once?
MRS. ALVING. Do you really wish it, Regina?
REGINA. Yes, indeed I do.
MRS. ALVING. Of course you can do as you like; but —
OSWALD. [Goes towards REGINA.] Go away now? Your place is here.
REGINA. Merci, Mr. Alving! — or now, I suppose, I may say Oswald. But I can tell you this wasn't at all what I expected.
MRS. ALVING. Regina, I have not been frank with you —
REGINA. No, that you haven't indeed. If I'd known that Oswald was an invalid, why — And now, too, that it can never come to anything serious between us — I really can't stop out here in the country and wear myself out nursing sick people.
OSWALD. Not even one who is so near to you?
REGINA. No, that I can't. A poor girl must make the best of her young days, or she'll be left out in the cold before she knows where she is. And I, too, have the joy of life in me, Mrs. Alving!
MRS. ALVING. Unfortunately, you leave. But don't throw yourself away, Regina.
REGINA. Oh, what must be, must be. If Oswald takes after his father, I take after my mother, I daresay. — May I ask, ma'am, if Pastor Manders knows all this about me?
MRS. ALVING. Pastor Manders knows all about it.
REGINA. [Busied in putting on her shawl.] Well then, I'd better make haste and get away by this steamer. The Pastor is such a nice man to deal with; and I certainly think I've as much right to a little of that money as he has — that brute of a carpenter.
MRS. ALVING. You are heartily welcome to it, Regina.
REGINA. [Looks hard at her.] I think you might have brought me up as a gentleman's daughter, ma'am; it would have suited me better. [Tosses her head.] But pooh — what does it matter! [With a bitter side glance at the corked bottle.] I may come to drink champagne with gentlefolks yet.
MRS. ALVING. And if you ever need a home, Regina, come to me.
REGINA. No, thank you, ma'am. Pastor Manders will look after me, I know. And if the worst comes to the worst, I know of one house where I've every right to a place.
MRS. ALVING. Where is that?
REGINA. "Chamberlain Alving's Home."
MRS. ALVING. Regina — now I see it — you are going to your ruin.
REGINA. Oh, stuff! Good-bye. [She nods and goes out through the hall.]
OSWALD. [Stands at the window and looks out.] Is she gone?
MRS. ALVING. Yes.
OSWALD. [Murmuring aside to himself.] I think it was a mistake, this.
MRS. ALVING. [Goes up behind him and lays her hands on his shoulders.] Oswald, my dear boy — has it shaken you very much?
OSWALD. [Turns his face towards her.] All that about father, do you mean?
MRS. ALVING. Yes, about your unhappy father. I am so afraid it may have been too much for you.
OSWALD. Why should you fancy that? Of course it came upon me as a great surprise; but it can make no real difference to me.
MRS. ALVING. [Draws her hands away.] No difference! That your father was so infinitely unhappy!
OSWALD. Of course I can pity him, as I would anybody else; but —
MRS. ALVING. Nothing more! Your own father!
OSWALD. [Impatiently.]Oh, "father," — "father"! I never knew anything of father. I remember nothing about him, except that he once made me sick.
MRS. ALVING. This is terrible to think of! Ought not a son to love his father, whatever happens?
OSWALD. When a son has nothing to thank his father for? has never known him? Do you really cling to that old superstition? — you who are so enlightened in other ways?
MRS. ALVING. Can it be only a superstition — ?
OSWALD. Yes; surely you can see that, mother. It's one of those notions that are current in the world, and so —
MRS. ALVING. [Deeply moved.] Ghosts!
OSWALD. [Crossing the room.] Yes; you may call them ghosts.
MRS. ALVING. [Wildly.] Oswald — then you don't love me, either!
OSWALD. You I know, at any rate —
MRS. ALVING. Yes, you know me; but is that all!