Hedda Gabler By Henrik Ibsen Act I

HEDDA.

But what do you think people will say of you, Thea?

MRS. ELVSTED.

They may say what they like, for aught I care. [Seats herself wearily and sadly on the sofa.] I have done nothing but what I had to do.

HEDDA.

[After a short silence.] And what are your plans now? What do you think of doing.

MRS. ELVSTED.

I don't know yet. I only know this, that I must live here, where Eilert Lovborg is — if I am to live at all.

HEDDA.

[Takes a chair from the table, seats herself beside her, and strokes her hands.] My dear Thea — how did this — this friendship — between you and Eilert Lovborg come about?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh it grew up gradually. I gained a sort of influence over him.

HEDDA.

Indeed?

MRS. ELVSTED.

He gave up his old habits. Not because I asked him to, for I never dared do that. But of course he saw how repulsive they were to me; and so he dropped them.

HEDDA.

[Concealing an involuntary smile of scorn.] Then you have reclaimed him — as the saying goes — my little Thea.

MRS. ELVSTED.

So he says himself, at any rate. And he, on his side, has made a real human being of me — taught me to think, and to understand so many things.

HEDDA.

Did he give you lessons too, then?

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, not exactly lessons. But he talked to me — talked about such an infinity of things. And then came the lovely, happy time when I began to share in his work — when he allowed me to help him!

HEDDA.

Oh he did, did he?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes! He never wrote anything without my assistance.

HEDDA.

You were two good comrades, in fact?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Eagerly.] Comrades! Yes, fancy, Hedda — that is the very word he used! — Oh, I ought to feel perfectly happy; and yet I cannot; for I don't know how long it will last.

HEDDA.

Are you no surer of him than that?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Gloomily.] A woman's shadow stands between Eilert Lovborg and me.

HEDDA.

[Looks at her anxiously.] Who can that be?

MRS. ELVSTED.

I don't know. Some one he knew in his — in his past. Some one he has never been able wholly to forget.

HEDDA.

What has he told you — about this?

MRS. ELVSTED.

He has only once — quite vaguely — alluded to it.

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