Act Fourth




The same rooms at the TESMANS'. It is evening. The drawing- room is in darkness. The back room is light by the hanging lamp over the table. The curtains over the glass door are drawn close.

HEDDA, dressed in black, walks to and fro in the dark room. Then she goes into the back room and disappears for a moment to the left. She is heard to strike a few chords on the piano. Presently she comes in sight again, and returns to the drawing-room.

BERTA enters from the right, through the inner room, with a lighted lamp, which she places on the table in front of the corner settee in the drawing-room. Her eyes are red with weeping, and she has black ribbons in her cap. She goes quietly and circumspectly out to the right. HEDDA goes up to the glass door, lifts the curtain a little aside, and looks out into the darkness.

Shortly afterwards, MISS TESMAN, in mourning, with a bonnet and veil on, comes in from the hall. HEDDA goes towards her and holds out her hand.


MISS TESMAN.

Yes, Hedda, here I am, in mourning and forlorn; for now my poor sister has at last found peace.

HEDDA.

I have heard the news already, as you see. Tesman sent me a card.

MISS TESMAN.

Yes, he promised me he would. But nevertheless I thought that to Hedda--here in the house of life--I ought myself to bring the tidings of death.

HEDDA.

That was very kind of you.

MISS TESMAN.

Ah, Rina ought not to have left us just now. This is not the time for Hedda's house to be a house of mourning.

HEDDA.

[Changing the subject.] She died quite peacefully, did she not, Miss Tesman?

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, her end was so calm, so beautiful. And then she had the unspeakable happiness of seeing George once more--and bidding him good-bye.--Has he not come home yet?

HEDDA.

No. He wrote that he might be detained. But won't you sit down?

MISS TESMAN.

No thank you, my dear, dear Hedda. I should like to, but I have so much to do. I must prepare my dear one for her rest as well as I can. She shall go to her grave looking her best.

HEDDA.

Can I not help you in any way?

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, you must not think of it! Hedda Tesman must have no hand in such mournful work. Nor let her thought dwell on it either--not at this time.

HEDDA.

One is not always mistress of one's thoughts---

MISS TESMAN.

[Continuing.] Ah yes, it is the way of the world. At home we shall be sewing a shroud; and here there will soon be sewing too, I suppose --but of another sort, thank God!

GEORGE TESMAN enters by the hall door.

HEDDA.

Ah, you have come at last!

TESMAN.

You here, Aunt Julia? With Hedda? Fancy that!

MISS TESMAN.

I was just going, my dear boy. Well, have you done all you promised?

TESMAN.

No; I'm really afraid I have forgotten half of it. I must come to you again to-morrow. To-day my brain is all in a whirl. I can't keep my thoughts together.

MISS TESMAN.

Why, my dear George, you mustn't take it in this way.

TESMAN.

Mustn't---? How do you mean?

MISS TESMAN.

Even in your sorrow you must rejoice, as I do--rejoice that she is at rest.

TESMAN.

Oh yes, yes--you are thinking of Aunt Rina.

HEDDA.

You will feel lonely now, Miss Tesman.

MISS TESMAN.

Just at first, yes. But that will not last very long, I hope. I daresay I shall soon find an occupant for Rina's little room.

TESMAN.

Indeed? Who do you think will take it? Eh?

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, there's always some poor invalid or other in want of nursing, unfortunately.

HEDDA.

Would you really take such a burden upon you again?

MISS TESMAN.

A burden! Heaven forgive you, child--it has been no burden to me.

HEDDA.

But suppose you had a total stranger on your hands---

MISS TESMAN.

Oh, one soon makes friends with sick folk; and it's such an absolute necessity for me to have some one to live for. Well, heaven be praised, there may soon be something in this house, too, to keep an old aunt busy.

HEDDA.

Oh, don't trouble about anything here.

TESMAN.

Yes, just fancy what a nice time we three might have together, if---?

HEDDA.

If---?

TESMAN.

[Uneasily.] Oh nothing. It will all come right. Let us hope so--eh?

MISS TESMAN.

Well well, I daresay you two want to talk to each other. [Smiling.] And perhaps Hedda may have something to tell you too, George. Good- bye! I must go home to Rina. [Turning at the door.] How strange it is to think that now Rina is with me and with my poor brother as well!

TESMAN.

Yes, fancy that, Aunt Julia! Eh? [MISS TESMAN goes out by the hall door.

HEDDA.

[Follows TESMAN coldly and searchingly with her eyes.] I almost believe your Aunt Rina's death affects you more than it does your Aunt Julia.

TESMAN.

Oh, it's not that alone. It's Eilert I am so terribly uneasy about.

HEDDA.

[Quickly.] Is there anything new about him?

TESMAN.

I looked in at his rooms this afternoon, intending to tell him the manuscript was in safe keeping.

HEDDA.

Well, did you find him?

TESMAN.

No. He wasn't at home. But afterwards I met Mrs. Elvsted, and she told me that he had been here early this morning.

HEDDA.

Yes, directly after you had gone.

TESMAN.

And he said that he had torn his manuscript to pieces--eh?

HEDDA.

Yes, so he declared.

TESMAN.

Why, good heavens, he must have been completely out of his mind! And I suppose you thought it best not to give it back to him, Hedda?

HEDDA.

No, he did not get it.

TESMAN.

But of course you told him that we had it?

HEDDA.

No. [Quickly.] Did you tell Mrs. Elvsted?

TESMAN.

No; I thought I had better not. But you ought to have told him. Fancy, if, in desperation, he should go and do himself some injury! Let me have the manuscript, Hedda! I will take it to him at once. Where is it?

HEDDA.

[Cold and immovable, leaning on the arm-chair.] I have not got it.

TESMAN.

Have not got it? What in the world do you mean?

HEDDA.

I have burnt it--every line of it.

TESMAN.

[With a violent movement of terror.] Burnt! Burnt Eilert's manuscript!

HEDDA.

Don't scream so. The servant might hear you.

TESMAN.

Burnt! Why, good God---! No, no, no! It's impossible!

HEDDA.

It is so, nevertheless.

TESMAN.

Do you know what you have done, Hedda? It's unlawful appropriation of lost property. Fancy that! Just ask Judge Brack, and he'll tell you what it is.

HEDDA.

I advise you not to speak of it--either to Judge Brack or to anyone else.

TESMAN.

But how could you do anything so unheard-of? What put it into your head? What possessed you? Answer me that--eh?

HEDDA.

[Suppressing an almost imperceptible smile.] I did it for your sake, George.

TESMAN.

For my sake!

HEDDA.

This morning, when you told me about what he had read to you---

TESMAN.

Yes yes--what then?

HEDDA.

You acknowledged that you envied him his work.

TESMAN.

Oh, of course I didn't mean that literally.

HEDDA.

No matter--I could not bear the idea that any one should throw you into the shade.

TESMAN.

[In an outburst of mingled doubt and joy.] Hedda! Oh, is this true? But--but--I never knew you show your love like that before. Fancy that!

HEDDA.

Well, I may as well tell you that--just at this time--- [Impatiently breaking off.] No, no; you can ask Aunt Julia. She well tell you, fast enough.

TESMAN.

Oh, I almost think I understand you, Hedda! [Clasps his hands together.] Great heavens! do you really mean it! Eh?

HEDDA.

Don't shout so. The servant might hear.

TESMAN.

[Laughing in irrepressible glee.] The servant! Why, how absurd you are, Hedda. It's only my old Berta! Why, I'll tell Berta myself.

HEDDA.

[Clenching her hands together in desperation.] Oh, it is killing me, --it is killing me, all this!

TESMAN.

What is, Hedda? Eh?

HEDDA.

[Coldly, controlling herself.] All this--absurdity--George.

TESMAN.

Absurdity! Do you see anything absurd in my being overjoyed at the news! But after all--perhaps I had better not say anything to Berta.

HEDDA.

Oh---why not that too?

TESMAN.

No, no, not yet! But I must certainly tell Aunt Julia. And then that you have begun to call me George too! Fancy that! Oh, Aunt Julia will be so happy--so happy!

HEDDA.

When she hears that I have burnt Eilert Lovborg's manuscript--for your sake?

TESMAN.

No, by-the-bye--that affair of the manuscript--of course nobody must know about that. But that you love me so much,(13) Hedda--Aunt Julia must really share my joy in that! I wonder, now, whether this sort of thing is usual in young wives? Eh?

HEDDA.

I think you had better ask Aunt Julia that question too.

TESMAN.

I will indeed, some time or other. [Looks uneasy and downcast again.] And yet the manuscript--the manuscript! Good God! it is terrible to think what will become of poor Eilert now.

MRS. ELVSTED, dressed as in the first Act, with hat and cloak, enters by the hall door.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Greets them hurriedly, and says in evident agitation.] Oh, dear Hedda, forgive my coming again.

HEDDA.

What is the matter with you, Thea?

TESMAN.

Something about Eilert Lovborg again--eh?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes! I am dreadfully afraid some misfortune has happened to him.

HEDDA.

[Seized her arm.] Ah,--do you think so?

TESMAN.

Why, good Lord--what makes you think that, Mrs. Elvsted?

MRS. ELVSTED.

I heard them talking of him at my boarding-house--just as I came in. Oh, the most incredible rumours are afloat about him to-day.

TESMAN.

Yes, fancy, so I heard too! And I can bear witness that he went straight home to bed last night. Fancy that!

HEDDA.

Well, what did they say at the boarding-house?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, I couldn't make out anything clearly. Either they knew nothing definite, or else---. They stopped talking when the saw me; and I did not dare to ask.

TESMAN.

[Moving about uneasily.] We must hope--we must hope that you misunderstood them, Mrs. Elvsted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, no; I am sure it was of him they were talking. And I heard something about the hospital or---

TESMAN.

The hospital?

HEDDA.

No--surely that cannot be!

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, I was in such mortal terror! I went to his lodgings and asked for him there.

HEDDA.

You could make up your mind to that, Thea!

MRS. ELVSTED.

What else could I do? I really could bear the suspense no longer.

TESMAN.

But you didn't find him either--eh?

MRS. ELVSTED.

No. And the people knew nothing about him. He hadn't been home since yesterday afternoon, they said.

TESMAN.

Yesterday! Fancy, how could they say that?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, I am sure something terrible must have happened to him.

TESMAN.

Hedda dear--how would it be if I were to go and make inquiries---?

HEDDA.

No, no--don't you mix yourself up in this affair.

JUDGE BRACK, with his hat in his hand, enters by the hall door, which BERTA opens, and closes behind him. He looks grave and bows in silence.

TESMAN.

Oh, is that you, my dear Judge? Eh?

BRACK.

Yes. It was imperative I should see you this evening.

TESMAN.

I can see you have heard the news about Aunt Rina?

BRACK.

Yes, that among other things.

TESMAN.

Isn't it sad--eh?

BRACK.

Well, my dear Tesman, that depends on how you look at it.

TESMAN.

[Looks doubtfully at him.] Has anything else happened?

BRACK.

Yes.

HEDDA.

[In suspense.] Anything sad, Judge Brack?

BRACK.

That, too, depends on how you look at it, Mrs. Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Unable to restrain her anxiety.] Oh! it is something about Eilert Lovborg!

BRACK.

[With a glance at her.] What makes you think that, Madam? Perhaps you have already heard something---?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[In confusion.] No, nothing at all, but---

TESMAN.

Oh, for heaven's sake, tell us!

BRACK.

[Shrugging his shoulders.] Well, I regret to say Eilert Lovborg has been taken to the hospital. He is lying at the point of death.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Shrieks.] Oh God! oh God---!

TESMAN.

To the hospital! And at the point of death!

HEDDA.

[Involuntarily.] So soon then---

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Wailing.] And we parted in anger, Hedda!

HEDDA.

[Whispers.] Thea--Thea--be careful!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Not heeding her.] I must go to him! I must see him alive!

BRACK.

It is useless, Madam. No one will be admitted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, at least tell me what has happened to him? What is it?

TESMAN.

You don't mean to say that he has himself--- Eh?

HEDDA.

Yes, I am sure he has.

BRACK.

[Keeping his eyes fixed upon her.] Unfortunately you have guessed quite correctly, Mrs. Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, how horrible!

TESMAN.

Himself, then! Fancy that!

HEDDA.

Shot himself!

BRACK.

Rightly guessed again, Mrs. Tesman.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[With an effort at self-control.] When did it happen, Mr. Brack?

BRACK.

This afternoon--between three and four.

TESMAN.

But, good Lord, where did he do it? Eh?

BRACK.

[With some hesitation.] Where? Well--I suppose at his lodgings.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, that cannot be; for I was there between six and seven.

BRACK.

Well then, somewhere else. I don't know exactly. I only know that he was found---. He had shot himself--in the breast.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, how terrible! That he should die like that!

HEDDA.

[To BRACK.] Was it in the breast?

BRACK.

Yes--as I told you.

HEDDA.

Not in the temple?

BRACK.

In the breast, Mrs. Tesman.

HEDDA.

Well, well--the breast is a good place, too.

BRACK.

How do you mean, Mrs. Tesman?

HEDDA.

[Evasively.] Oh, nothing--nothing.

TESMAN.

And the wound is dangerous, you say--eh?

BRACK.

Absolutely mortal. The end has probably come by this time.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes, I feel it. The end! The end! Oh, Hedda---!

TESMAN.

But tell me, how have you learnt all this?

BRACK.

[Curtly.] Through one of the police. A man I had some business with.

HEDDA.

[In a clear voice.] At last a deed worth doing!

TESMAN.

[Terrified.] Good heavens, Hedda! what are you saying?

HEDDA.

I say there is beauty in this.

BRACK.

H'm, Mrs. Tesman---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, Hedda, how can you talk of beauty in such an act!

HEDDA.

Eilert Lovborg has himself made up his account with life. He has had the courage to do--the one right thing.

MRS. ELVSTED.

No, you must never think that was how it happened! It must have been in delirium that he did it.

TESMAN.

In despair!

HEDDA.

That he did not. I am certain of that.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes! In delirium! Just as when he tore up our manuscript.

BRACK.

[Starting.] The manuscript? Has he torn that up?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, last night.

TESMAN.

[Whispers softly.] Oh, Hedda, we shall never get over this.

BRACK.

H'm, very extraordinary.

TESMAN.

[Moving about the room.] To think of Eilert going out of the world in this way! And not leaving behind him the book that would have immortalised his name---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, if only it could be put together again!

TESMAN.

Yes, if it only could! I don't know what I would not give---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Perhaps it can, Mr. Tesman.

TESMAN.

What do you mean?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Searches in the pocket of her dress.] Look here. I have kept all the loose notes he used to dictate from.

HEDDA.

[A step forward.] Ah---!

TESMAN.

You have kept them, Mrs. Elvsted! Eh?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, I have them here. I put them in my pocket when I left home. Here they still are---

TESMAN.

Oh, do let me see them!

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Hands him a bundle of papers.] But they are in such disorder--all mixed up.

TESMAN.

Fancy, if we could make something out of them, after all! Perhaps if we two put our heads together---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh yes, at least let us try---

TESMAN.

We will manage it! We must! I will dedicate my life to this task.

HEDDA.

You, George? Your life?

TESMAN.

Yes, or rather all the time I can spare. My own collections must wait in the meantime. Hedda--you understand, eh? I owe this to Eilert's memory.

HEDDA.

Perhaps.

TESMAN.

And so, my dear Mrs. Elvsted, we will give our whole minds to it. There is no use in brooding over what can't be undone--eh? We must try to control our grief as much as possible, and---

MRS. ELVSTED.

Yes, yes, Mr. Tesman, I will do the best I can.

TESMAN.

Well then, come here. I can't rest until we have looked through the notes. Where shall we sit? Here? No, in there, in the back room. Excuse me, my dear Judge. Come with me, Mrs. Elvsted.

MRS. ELVSTED.

Oh, if only it were possible! [TESMAN and MRS. ELVSTED go into the back room. She takes off her hat and cloak. They both sit at the table under the hanging lamp, and are soon deep in an eager examination of the papers. HEDDA crosses to the stove and sits in the arm- chair. Presently BRACK goes up to her.

HEDDA.

[In a low voice.] Oh, what a sense of freedom it gives one, this act of Eilert Lovborg's.

BRACK.

Freedom, Mrs. Hedda? Well, of course, it is a release for him---

HEDDA.

I mean for me. It gives me a sense of freedom to know that a deed of deliberate courage is still possible in this world,--a deed of spontaneous beauty.

BRACK.

[Smiling.] H'm--my dear Mrs. Hedda---

HEDDA.

Oh, I know what you are going to say. For you are a kind of specialist too, like--you know!

BRACK.

[Looking hard at her.] Eilert Lovborg was more to you than perhaps you are willing to admit to yourself. Am I wrong?

HEDDA.

I don't answer such questions. I only know that Eilert Lovborg has had the courage to live his life after his own fashion. And then-- the last great act, with its beauty! Ah! that he should have the will and the strength to turn away from the banquet of life--so early.

BRACK.

I am sorry, Mrs. Hedda,--but I fear I must dispel an amiable illusion.

HEDDA.

Illusion?

BRACK.

Which could not have lasted long in any case.

HEDDA.

What do you mean?

BRACK.

Eilert Lovborg did not shoot himself--voluntarily.

HEDDA.

Not voluntarily?

BRACK.

No. The thing did not happen exactly as I told it.

HEDDA.

[In suspense.] Have you concealed something? What is it?

BRACK.

For poor Mrs. Elvsted's sake I idealised the facts a little.

HEDDA.

What are the facts?

BRACK.

First, that he is already dead.

HEDDA.

At the hospital?

BRACK.

Yes--without regaining consciousness.

HEDDA.

What more have you concealed?

BRACK.

This--the event did not happen at his lodgings.

HEDDA.

Oh, that can make no difference.

BRACK.

Perhaps it may. For I must tell you--Eilert Lovborg was found shot in--in Mademoiselle Diana's boudoir.

HEDDA.

[Makes a motion as if to rise, but sinks back again.] That is impossible, Judge Brack! He cannot have been there again to-day.

BRACK.

He was there this afternoon. He went there, he said, to demand the return of something which they had taken from him. Talked wildly about a lost child---

HEDDA.

Ah--so that is why---

BRACK.

I thought probably he meant his manuscript; but now I hear he destroyed that himself. So I suppose it must have been his pocket- book.

HEDDA.

Yes, no doubt. And there--there he was found?

BRACK.

Yes, there. With a pistol in his breast-pocket, discharged. The ball had lodged in a vital part.

HEDDA.

In the breast--yes?

BRACK.

No--in the bowels.

HEDDA.

[Looks up at him with an expression of loathing.] That too! Oh, what curse is it that makes everything I touch turn ludicrous and mean?

BRACK.

There is one point more, Mrs. Hedda--another disagreeable feature in the affair.

HEDDA.

And what is that?

BRACK.

The pistol he carried---

HEDDA.

[Breathless.] Well? What of it?

BRACK.

He must have stolen it.

HEDDA.

[Leaps up.] Stolen it! That is not true! He did not steal it!

BRACK.

No other explanation is possible. He must have stolen it---. Hush!

TESMAN and MRS. ELVSTED have risen from the table in the back- room, and come into the drawing-room.

TESMAN.

[With the papers in both his hands.] Hedda, dear, it is almost impossible to see under that lamp. Think of that!

HEDDA.

Yes, I am thinking.

TESMAN.

Would you mind our sitting at you writing-table--eh?

HEDDA.

If you like. [Quickly.] No, wait! Let me clear it first!

TESMAN.

Oh, you needn't trouble, Hedda. There is plenty of room.

HEDDA.

No no, let me clear it, I say! I will take these things in and put them on the piano. There! [She has drawn out an object, covered with sheet music, from under the bookcase, places several other pieces of music upon it, and carries the whole into the inner room, to the left. TESMAN lays the scraps of paper on the writing-table, and moves the lamp there from the corner table. He and Mrs. Elvsted sit down and proceed with their work. HEDDA returns.

HEDDA.

[Behind Mrs. Elvsted's chair, gently ruffling her hair.] Well, my sweet Thea,--how goes it with Eilert Lovborg's monument?

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Looks dispiritedly up at her.] Oh, it will be terribly hard to put in order.

TESMAN.

We must manage it. I am determined. And arranging other people's papers is just the work for me. [HEDDA goes over to the stove, and seats herself on one of the footstools. BRACK stands over her, leaning on the arm-chair.

HEDDA.

[Whispers.] What did you say about the pistol?

BRACK.

[Softly.] That he must have stolen it.

HEDDA.

Why stolen it?

BRACK.

Because every other explanation ought to be impossible, Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA.

Indeed?

BRACK.

[Glances at her.] Of course Eilert Lovborg was here this morning. Was he not?

HEDDA.

Yes.

BRACK.

Were you alone with him?

HEDDA.

Part of the time.

BRACK.

Did you not leave the room whilst he was here?

HEDDA.

No.

BRACK.

Try to recollect. Were you not out of the room a moment?

HEDDA.

Yes, perhaps just a moment--out in the hall.

BRACK.

And where was you pistol-case during that time?

HEDDA.

I had it locked up in---

BRACK.

Well, Mrs. Hedda?

HEDDA.

The case stood there on the writing-table.

BRACK.

Have you looked since, to see whether both the pistols are there?

HEDDA.

No.

BRACK.

Well, you need not. I saw the pistol found in Lovborg's pocket, and I knew it at once as the one I had seen yesterday--and before, too.

HEDDA.

Have you it with you?

BRACK.

No; the police have it.

HEDDA.

What will the police do with it?

BRACK.

Search till they find the owner.

HEDDA.

Do you think they will succeed?

BRACK.

[Bends over her and whispers.] No, Hedda Gabler--not so long as I say nothing.

HEDDA.

[Looks frightened at him.] And if you do not say nothing,--what then?

BRACK.

[Shrugs his shoulders.] There is always the possibility that the pistol was stolen.

HEDDA.

[Firmly.] Death rather than that.

BRACK.

[Smiling.] People say such things--but they don't do them.

HEDDA.

[Without replying.] And supposing the pistol was not stolen, and the owner is discovered? What then?

BRACK.

Well, Hedda--then comes the scandal!

HEDDA.

The scandal!

BRACK.

Yes, the scandal--of which you are so mortally afraid. You will, of course, be brought before the court--both you and Mademoiselle Diana. She will have to explain how the thing happened--whether it was an accidental shot or murder. Did the pistol go off as he was trying to take it out of his pocket, to threaten her with? Or did she tear the pistol out of his hand, shoot him, and push it back into his pocket? That would be quite like her; for she is an able-bodied young person, this same Mademoiselle Diana.

HEDDA.

But I have nothing to do with all this repulsive business.

BRACK.

No. But you will have to answer the question: Why did you give Eilert the pistol? And what conclusions will people draw from the fact that you did give it to him?

HEDDA.

[Lets her head sink.] That is true. I did not think of that.

BRACK.

Well, fortunately, there is no danger, so long as I say nothing.

HEDDA.

[Looks up at him.] So I am in your power, Judge Brack. You have me at your beck and call, from this time forward.

BRACK.

[Whispers softly.] Dearest Hedda--believe me--I shall not abuse my advantage.

HEDDA.

I am in your power none the less. Subject to your will and your demands. A slave, a slave then! [Rises impetuously.] No, I cannot endure the thought of that! Never!

BRACK.

[Looks half-mockingly at her.] People generally get used to the inevitable.

HEDDA.

[Returns his look.] Yes, perhaps. [She crosses to the writing-table. Suppressing an involuntary smile, she imitates TESMAN'S intonations.] Well? Are you getting on, George? Eh?

TESMAN.

Heaven knows, dear. In any case it will be the work of months.

HEDDA.

[As before.] Fancy that! [Passes her hands softly through Mrs. Elvsted's hair.] Doesn't it seem strange to you, Thea? Here are you sitting with Tesman--just as you used to sit with Eilert Lovborg?

MRS. ELVSTED.

Ah, if I could only inspire your husband in the same way!

HEDDA.

Oh, that will come too--in time.

TESMAN.

Yes, do you know, Hedda--I really think I begin to feel something of the sort. But won't you go and sit with Brack again?

HEDDA.

Is there nothing I can do to help you two?

TESMAN.

No, nothing in the world. [Turning his head.] I trust to you to keep Hedda company, my dear Brack.

BRACK.

[With a glance at HEDDA.] With the very greatest of pleasure.

HEDDA.

Thanks. But I am tired this evening. I will go in and lie down a little on the sofa.

TESMAN.

Yes, do dear--eh? [HEDDA goes into the back room and draws the curtains. A short pause. Suddenly she is heard playing a wild dance on the piano.

MRS. ELVSTED.

[Starts from her chair.] Oh--what is that?

TESMAN.

[Runs to the doorway.] Why, my dearest Hedda--don't play dance-music to-night! Just think of Aunt Rina! And of Eilert too!

HEDDA.

[Puts her head out between the curtains.] And of Aunt Julia. And of all the rest of them.--After this, I will be quiet. [Closes the curtains again.]

TESMAN.

[At the writing-table.] It's not good for her to see us at this distressing work. I'll tell you what, Mrs. Elvsted,--you shall take the empty room at Aunt Julia's, and then I will come over in the evenings, and we can sit and work there--eh?

HEDDA.

[In the inner room.] I hear what you are saying, Tesman. But how am I to get through the evenings out here?

TESMAN.

[Turning over the papers.] Oh, I daresay Judge Brack will be so kind as to look in now and then, even though I am out.

BRACK.

[In the arm-chair, calls out gaily.] Every blessed evening, with all the pleasure in life, Mrs. Tesman! We shall get on capitally together, we two!

HEDDA.

[Speaking loud and clear.] Yes, don't you flatter yourself we will, Judge Brack? Now that you are the one cock in the basket--- [A shot is heard within. TESMAN, MRS. ELVSTED, and BRACK leap to their feet.

TESMAN.

Oh, now she is playing with those pistols again. [He throws back the curtains and runs in, followed by MRS. ELVSTED. HEDDA lies stretched on the sofa, lifeless. Confusion and cries. BERTA enters in alarm from the right.

TESMAN.

[Shrieks to BRACK.] Shot herself! Shot herself in the temple! Fancy that!

BRACK.

[Half-fainting in the arm-chair.] Good God!--people don't do such things.


THE END.

       *      *      *      *      *      *      *       *       *       *       *       *


FOOTNOTES.

(1)Pronounce Reena.

(2)In the original "Statsradinde Falks villa"--showing that it had belonged to the widow of a cabinet minister.

(3)Du equals thou: Tesman means, "If you could persuade yourself to tutoyer her."

(4)See previous note.

(5)Pronounce Tora and Taya.

(6)Mrs. Elvsted here uses the formal pronoun De, whereupon Hedda rebukes her. In her next speech Mrs. Elvsted says du.

(7)"Bagveje" means both "back ways" and "underhand courses."

(8)As this form of address is contrary to English usage, and as the note of familiarity would be lacking in "Mrs. Tesman," Brack may, in stage representation, say "Miss Hedda," thus ignoring her marriage and reverting to the form of address no doubt customarry between them of old.

(9)He uses the familiar du.

(10)From this point onward Lovborg use the formal De.

(11)In this speech he once more says du. Hedda addresses him throughout as De.

(12)"Enest hane i kurven"--a proverbial saying.

(13)Literally, "That you burn for me."



Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Email:
Sonnet-a-Day Newsletter
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.
Email: