Hedda Gabler By Henrik Ibsen Act I

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, but you were in the class above me. Oh, how dreadfully afraid of you I was then!

HEDDA.

Afraid of me?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, dreadfully. For when we met on the stairs you used always to pull my hair.

HEDDA.

Did I, really?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, and once you said you would burn it off my head.

HEDDA.

Oh that was all nonsense, of course.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, but I was so silly in those days. — And since then, too — we have drifted so far — far apart from each other. Our circles have been so entirely different.

HEDDA.

Well then, we must try to drift together again. Now listen. At school we said du(4) to each other; and we called each other by our Christian names — -

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, I am sure you must be mistaken.

HEDDA.

No, not at all! I can remember quite distinctly. So now we are going to renew our old friendship. [Draws the footstool closer to MRS. ELVSTED.] There now! [Kisses her cheek.] You must say du to me and call me Hedda.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Presses and pats her hands.] Oh, how good and kind you are! I am not used to such kindness.

HEDDA.

There, there, there! And I shall say du to you, as in the old days, and call you my dear Thora.

MRS. ELVSTED.

My name is Thea.(5)

HEDDA.

Why, of course! I meant Thea. [Looks at her compassionately.] So you are not accustomed to goodness and kindness, Thea? Not in your own home?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, if I only had a home! But I haven't any; I have never had a home.

HEDDA.

[Looks at her for a moment.] I almost suspected as much.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Gazing helplessly before her.] Yes — yes — yes.

HEDDA.

I don't quite remember — was it not as housekeeper that you first went to Mr. Elvsted's?

MRS. ELVSTED.

I really went as governess. But his wife — his late wife — was an invalid, — and rarely left her room. So I had to look after the housekeeping as well.

HEDDA.

And then — at last — you became mistress of the house.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Sadly.] Yes, I did.

HEDDA.

Let me see — about how long ago was that?

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