Act II

The Christmas tree is in the corner by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its dishevelled branches. Nora’s cloak and hat are lying on the sofa.

Nora’s is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.
Nora Drops her cloak. Someone is coming now! Goes to the door and listens. No⁠—it is no one. Of course, no one will come today, Christmas Day⁠—nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps⁠—Opens the door and looks out. No, nothing in the letterbox; it is quite empty. Comes forward. What rubbish! of course he can’t be in earnest about it. Such a thing couldn’t happen; it is impossible⁠—I have three little children.
Enter the Nurse from the room on the left, carrying a big cardboard box.
Nurse At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse Doing so. But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.
Nurse What an idea! It can easily be put in order⁠—just a little patience.
Nora Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with it.
Nurse What, out again? In this horrible weather? You will catch cold, ma’am, and make yourself ill.
Nora Well, worse than that might happen. How are the children?
Nurse The poor little souls are playing with their Christmas presents, but⁠—
Nora Do they ask much for me?
Nurse You see, they are so accustomed to have their mamma with them.
Nora Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much with them now as I was before.
Nurse Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora Do you think so? Do you think they would forget their mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse Good heavens!⁠—went away altogether?
Nora Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often wondered about⁠—how could you have the heart to put your own child out among strangers?
Nurse I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora’s nurse.
Nora Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse What, when I was going to get such a good place by it? A poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides, that wicked man didn’t do a single thing for me.
Nora But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
Nurse No, indeed she hasn’t. She wrote to me when she was confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora Putting her arms round her neck. Dear old Anne, you were a good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but me.
Nora And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you would⁠—What nonsense I am talking! Opens the box. Go in to them. Now I must⁠—. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.
Nurse I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming as you, ma’am. Goes into the room on the left.
Nora Begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away from her. If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only I could be sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff and nonsense! No one will come. Only I mustn’t think about it. I will brush my muff. What lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts, out of my thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six⁠—Screams. Ah! there is someone coming⁠—. Makes a movement towards the door, but stands irresolute.
Enter Mrs. Linde from the hall, where she has taken off her cloak and hat.
Nora Oh, it’s you, Christine. There is no one else out there, is there? How good of you to come!
Mrs. Linde I heard you were up asking for me.
Nora Yes, I was passing by. As a matter of fact, it is something you could help me with. Let us sit down here on the sofa. Look here. Tomorrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the Stenborgs’, who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learned at Capri.
Mrs. Linde I see; you are going to keep up the character.
Nora Yes, Torvald wants me to. Look, here is the dress; Torvald had it made for me there, but now it is all so torn, and I haven’t any idea⁠—
Mrs. Linde We will easily put that right. It is only some of the trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then, that’s all we want.
Nora It is nice of you.
Mrs. Linde Sewing. So you are going to be dressed up tomorrow Nora. I will tell you what⁠—I shall come in for a moment and see you in your fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to thank you for a delightful evening yesterday.
Nora Gets up, and crosses the stage. Well, I don’t think yesterday was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to town a little earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald does understand how to make a house dainty and attractive.
Mrs. Linde And so do you, it seems to me; you are not your father’s daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always as depressed as he was yesterday?
Nora No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell you that he suffers from a very dangerous disease. He has consumption of the spine, poor creature. His father was a horrible man who committed all sorts of excesses; and that is why his son was sickly from childhood, do you understand?
Mrs. Linde Dropping her sewing. But, my dearest Nora, how do you know anything about such things?
Nora Walking about. Pooh! When you have three children, you get visits now and then from⁠—from married women, who know something of medical matters, and they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde Goes on sewing. A short silence. Does Doctor Rank come here everyday?
Nora Everyday regularly. He is Torvald’s most intimate friend, and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.
Mrs. Linde But tell me this⁠—is he perfectly sincere? I mean, isn’t he the kind of man that is very anxious to make himself agreeable?
Nora Not in the least. What makes you think that?
Mrs. Linde When you introduced him to me yesterday, he declared he had often heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I noticed that your husband hadn’t the slightest idea who I was. So how could Doctor Rank⁠—?
Nora That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first he used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk at home, so naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about such things with Doctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a child in many things, and I am older than you in many ways and have a little more experience. Let me tell you this⁠—you ought to make an end of it with Doctor Rank.
Nora What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked some nonsense about a rich admirer who was to leave you money⁠—
Nora An admirer who doesn’t exist, unfortunately! But what then?
Mrs. Linde Is Doctor Rank a man of means?
Nora Yes, he is.
Mrs. Linde And has no one to provide for?
Nora No, no one; but⁠—
Mrs. Linde And comes here everyday?
Nora Yes, I told you so.
Mrs. Linde But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?
Nora I don’t understand you at all.
Mrs. Linde Don’t prevaricate, Nora. Do you suppose I don’t guess who lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds?
Nora Are you out of your senses? How can you think of such a thing! A friend of ours, who comes here everyday! Do you realise what a horribly painful position that would be?
Mrs. Linde Then it really isn’t he?
Nora No, certainly not. It would never have entered into my head for a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into his money afterwards.
Mrs. Linde Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear Nora.
Nora No, it would never have come into my head to ask Doctor Rank. Although I am quite sure that if I had asked him⁠—
Mrs. Linde But of course you won’t.
Nora Of course not. I have no reason to think it could possibly be necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told Doctor Rank⁠—
Mrs. Linde Behind your husband’s back?
Nora I must make an end of it with the other one, and that will be behind his back too. I must make an end of it with him.
Mrs. Linde Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but⁠—
Nora Walking up and down. A man can put a thing like that straight much easier than a woman⁠—
Mrs. Linde One’s husband, yes.
Nora Nonsense! Standing still. When you pay off a debt you get your bond back, don’t you?
Mrs. Linde Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it up⁠—the nasty dirty paper!
Mrs. Linde Looks hard at her, lays down her sewing and gets up slowly. Nora, you are concealing something from me.
Nora Do I look as if I were?
Mrs. Linde Something has happened to you since yesterday morning. Nora, what is it?
Nora Going nearer to her. Christine! Listens. Hush! there’s Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the present? Torvald can’t bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne help you.
Mrs. Linde Gathering some of the things together. Certainly⁠—but I am not going away from here until we have had it out with one another. She goes into the room on the left, as Helmer comes in from the hall.
Nora Going up to Helmer. I have wanted you so much, Torvald dear.
Helmer Was that the dressmaker?
Nora No, it was Christine; she is helping me to put my dress in order. You will see I shall look quite smart.
Helmer Wasn’t that a happy thought of mine, now?
Nora Splendid! But don’t you think it is nice of me, too, to do as you wish?
Helmer Nice?⁠—because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well, you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But I am not going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your dress, I expect.
Nora I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer Yes. Shows her a bundle of papers. Look at that. I have just been into the bank. Turns to go into his room.
Nora Torvald.
Helmer Yes.
Nora If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, very prettily⁠—?
Helmer What then?
Nora Would you do it?
Helmer I should like to hear what it is, first.
Nora Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you would be nice, and do what she wants.
Helmer Speak plainly.
Nora Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song rising and falling⁠—
Helmer Well, my skylark does that anyhow.
Nora I would play the fairy and dance for you in the moonlight, Torvald.
Helmer Nora⁠—you surely don’t mean that request you made to me this morning?
Nora Going near him. Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly⁠—
Helmer Have you really the courage to open up that question again?
Nora Yes, dear, you must do as I ask; you must let Krogstad keep his post in the bank.
Helmer My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs. Linde shall have.
Nora Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.
Helmer This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to give him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am expected to⁠—
Nora That isn’t the reason, Torvald. It is for your own sake. This fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have told me so yourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm. I am frightened to death of him⁠—
Helmer Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that scare you.
Nora What do you mean?
Helmer Naturally you are thinking of your father.
Nora Yes⁠—yes, of course. Just recall to your mind what these malicious creatures wrote in the papers about Papa, and how horribly they slandered him. I believe they would have procured his dismissal if the Department had not sent you over to inquire into it, and if you had not been so kindly disposed and helpful to him.
Helmer My little Nora, there is an important difference between your father and me. Your father’s reputation as a public official was not above suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to be so, as long as I hold my office.
Nora You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful home, and have no cares⁠—you and I and the children, Torvald! That is why I beg you so earnestly⁠—
Helmer And it is just by interceding for him that you make it impossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank that I mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the new manager has changed his mind at his wife’s bidding⁠—
Nora And what if it did?
Helmer Of course!⁠—if only this obstinate little person can get her way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts of outside influence? I should very soon feel the consequences of it, I can tell you! And besides, there is one thing that makes it quite impossible for me to have Krogstad in the Bank as long as I am manager.
Nora Whatever is that?
Helmer His moral failings I might perhaps have overlooked, if necessary⁠—
Nora Yes, you could⁠—couldn’t you?
Helmer And I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew him when we were boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often prove an incubus in afterlife. I may as well tell you plainly, we were once on very intimate terms with one another. But this tactless fellow lays no restraint on himself when other people are present. On the contrary, he thinks it gives him the right to adopt a familiar tone with me, and every minute it is “I say, Helmer, old fellow!” and that sort of thing. I assure you it is extremely painful for me. He would make my position in the Bank intolerable.
Nora Torvald, I don’t believe you mean that.
Helmer Don’t you? Why not?
Nora Because it is such a narrow-minded way of looking at things.
Helmer What are you saying? Narrow-minded? Do you think I am narrow-minded?
Nora No, just the opposite, dear⁠—and it is exactly for that reason.
Helmer It’s the same thing. You say my point of view is narrow-minded, so I must be so too. Narrow-minded! Very well⁠—I must put an end to this. Goes to the hall door and calls. Helen!
Nora What are you going to do?
Helmer Looking among his papers. Settle it. Enter Maid. Look here; take this letter and go downstairs with it at once. Find a messenger and tell him to deliver it, and be quick. The address is on it, and here is the money.
Maid Very well, sir. Exit with the letter.
Helmer Putting his papers together. Now then, little Miss Obstinate.
Nora Breathlessly. Torvald⁠—what was that letter?
Helmer Krogstad’s dismissal.
Nora Call her back, Torvald! There is still time. Oh Torvald, call her back! Do it for my sake⁠—for your own sake⁠—for the children’s sake! Do you hear me, Torvald? Call her back! You don’t know what that letter can bring upon us.
Helmer It’s too late.
Nora Yes, it’s too late.
Helmer My dear Nora, I can forgive the anxiety you are in, although really it is an insult to me. It is, indeed. Isn’t it an insult to think that I should be afraid of a starving quill-driver’s vengeance? But I forgive you nevertheless, because it is such eloquent witness to your great love for me. Takes her in his arms. And that is as it should be, my own darling Nora. Come what will, you may be sure I shall have both courage and strength if they be needed. You will see I am man enough to take everything upon myself.
Nora In a horror-stricken voice. What do you mean by that?
Helmer Everything, I say⁠—
Nora Recovering herself. You will never have to do that.
Helmer That’s right. Well, we will share it, Nora, as man and wife should. That is how it shall be. Caressing her. Are you content now? There! There!⁠—not these frightened dove’s eyes! The whole thing is only the wildest fancy!⁠—Now, you must go and play through the Tarantella and practise with your tambourine. I shall go into the inner office and shut the door, and I shall hear nothing; you can make as much noise as you please. Turns back at the door. And when Rank comes, tell him where he will find me. Nods to her, takes his papers and goes into his room, and shuts the door after him.
Nora Bewildered with anxiety, stands as if rooted to the spot, and whispers. He was capable of doing it. He will do it. He will do it in spite of everything.⁠—No, not that! Never, never! Anything rather than that! Oh, for some help, some way out of it! The doorbell rings. Doctor Rank! Anything rather than that⁠—anything, whatever it is! She puts her hands over her face, pulls herself together, goes to the door and opens it. Rank is standing without, hanging up his coat. During the following dialogue it begins to grow dark.
Nora Good day, Doctor Rank. I knew your ring. But you mustn’t go in to Torvald now; I think he is busy with something.
Rank And you?
Nora Brings him in and shuts the door after him. Oh, you know very well I always have time for you.
Rank Thank you. I shall make use of as much of it as I can.
Nora What do you mean by that? As much of it as you can?
Rank Well, does that alarm you?
Nora It was such a strange way of putting it. Is anything likely to happen?
Rank Nothing but what I have long been prepared for. But I certainly didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
Nora Gripping him by the arm. What have you found out? Doctor Rank, you must tell me.
Rank Sitting down by the stove. It is all up with me. And it can’t be helped.
Nora With a sigh of relief. Is it about yourself?
Rank Who else? It is no use lying to one’s self. I am the most wretched of all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. Lately I have been taking stock of my internal economy. Bankrupt! Probably within a month I shall lie rotting in the churchyard.
Nora What an ugly thing to say!
Rank The thing itself is cursedly ugly, and the worst of it is that I shall have to face so much more that is ugly before that. I shall only make one more examination of myself; when I have done that, I shall know pretty certainly when it will be that the horrors of dissolution will begin. There is something I want to tell you. Helmer’s refined nature gives him an unconquerable disgust at everything that is ugly; I won’t have him in my sickroom.
Nora Oh, but, Doctor Rank⁠—
Rank I won’t have him there. Not on any account. I bar my door to him. As soon as I am quite certain that the worst has come, I shall send you my card with a black cross on it, and then you will know that the loathsome end has begun.
Nora You are quite absurd today. And I wanted you so much to be in a really good humour.
Rank With death stalking beside me?⁠—To have to pay this penalty for another man’s sin? Is there any justice in that? And in every single family, in one way or another, some such inexorable retribution is being exacted⁠—
Nora Putting her hands over her ears. Rubbish! Do talk of something cheerful.
Rank Oh, it’s a mere laughing matter, the whole thing. My poor innocent spine has to suffer for my father’s youthful amusements.
Nora Sitting at the table on the left. I suppose you mean that he was too partial to asparagus and pate de foie gras, don’t you?
Rank Yes, and to truffles.
Nora Truffles, yes. And oysters too, I suppose?
Rank Oysters, of course, that goes without saying.
Nora And heaps of port and champagne. It is sad that all these nice things should take their revenge on our bones.
Rank Especially that they should revenge themselves on the unlucky bones of those who have not had the satisfaction of enjoying them.
Nora Yes, that’s the saddest part of it all.
Rank With a searching look at her. Hm!⁠—
Nora After a short pause. Why did you smile?
Rank No, it was you that laughed.
Nora No, it was you that smiled, Doctor Rank!
Rank Rising. You are a greater rascal than I thought.
Nora I am in a silly mood today.
Rank So it seems.
Nora Putting her hands on his shoulders. Dear, dear Doctor Rank, death mustn’t take you away from Torvald and me.
Rank It is a loss you would easily recover from. Those who are gone are soon forgotten.
Nora Looking at him anxiously. Do you believe that?
Rank People form new ties, and then⁠—
Nora Who will form new ties?
Rank Both you and Helmer, when I am gone. You yourself are already on the high road to it, I think. What did that Mrs. Linde want here last night?
Nora Oho!⁠—you don’t mean to say you are jealous of poor Christine?
Rank Yes, I am. She will be my successor in this house. When I am done for, this woman will⁠—
Nora Hush! don’t speak so loud. She is in that room.
Rank Today again. There, you see.
Nora She has only come to sew my dress for me. Bless my soul, how unreasonable you are! Sits down on the sofa. Be nice now, Doctor Rank, and tomorrow you will see how beautifully I shall dance, and you can imagine I am doing it all for you⁠—and for Torvald too, of course. Takes various things out of the box. Doctor Rank, come and sit down here, and I will show you something.
Rank Sitting down. What is it?
Nora Just look at those!
Rank Silk stockings.
Nora Flesh-coloured. Aren’t they lovely? It is so dark here now, but tomorrow⁠—. No, no, no! you must only look at the feet. Oh well, you may have leave to look at the legs too.
Rank Hm!⁠—
Nora Why are you looking so critical? Don’t you think they will fit me?
Rank I have no means of forming an opinion about that.
Nora Looks at him for a moment. For shame! Hits him lightly on the ear with the stockings. That’s to punish you. Folds them up again.
Rank And what other nice things am I to be allowed to see?
Nora Not a single thing more, for being so naughty. She looks among the things, humming to herself.
Rank After a short silence. When I am sitting here, talking to you as intimately as this, I cannot imagine for a moment what would have become of me if I had never come into this house.
Nora Smiling. I believe you do feel thoroughly at home with us.
Rank In a lower voice, looking straight in front of him. And to be obliged to leave it all⁠—
Nora Nonsense, you are not going to leave it.
Rank As before. And not be able to leave behind one the slightest token of one’s gratitude, scarcely even a fleeting regret⁠—nothing but an empty place which the first comer can fill as well as any other.
Nora And if I asked you now for a⁠—? No!
Rank For what?
Nora For a big proof of your friendship⁠—
Rank Yes, yes!
Nora I mean a tremendously big favour⁠—
Rank Would you really make me so happy for once?
Nora Ah, but you don’t know what it is yet.
Rank No⁠—but tell me.
Nora I really can’t, Doctor Rank. It is something out of all reason; it means advice, and help, and a favour⁠—
Rank The bigger a thing it is the better. I can’t conceive what it is you mean. Do tell me. Haven’t I your confidence?
Nora More than anyone else. I know you are my truest and best friend, and so I will tell you what it is. Well, Doctor Rank, it is something you must help me to prevent. You know how devotedly, how inexpressibly deeply Torvald loves me; he would never for a moment hesitate to give his life for me.
Rank Leaning towards her. Nora⁠—do you think he is the only one⁠—?
Nora With a slight start. The only one⁠—?
Rank The only one who would gladly give his life for your sake.
Nora Sadly. Is that it?
Rank I was determined you should know it before I went away, and there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know it, Nora. And now you know, too, that you can trust me as you would trust no one else.
Nora Rises, deliberately and quietly. Let me pass.
Rank Makes room for her to pass him, but sits still. Nora!
Nora At the hall door. Helen, bring in the lamp. Goes over to the stove. Dear Doctor Rank, that was really horrid of you.
Rank To have loved you as much as anyone else does? Was that horrid?
Nora No, but to go and tell me so. There was really no need⁠—
Rank What do you mean? Did you know⁠—? Maid enters with lamp, puts it down on the table, and goes out. Nora⁠—Mrs. Helmer⁠—tell me, had you any idea of this?
Nora Oh, how do I know whether I had or whether I hadn’t? I really can’t tell you⁠—To think you could be so clumsy, Doctor Rank! We were getting on so nicely.
Rank Well, at all events you know now that you can command me, body and soul. So won’t you speak out?
Nora Looking at him. After what happened?
Rank I beg you to let me know what it is.
Nora I can’t tell you anything now.
Rank Yes, yes. You mustn’t punish me in that way. Let me have permission to do for you whatever a man may do.
Nora You can do nothing for me now. Besides, I really don’t need any help at all. You will find that the whole thing is merely fancy on my part. It really is so⁠—of course it is! Sits down in the rocking chair, and looks at him with a smile. You are a nice sort of man, Doctor Rank!⁠—don’t you feel ashamed of yourself, now the lamp has come?
Rank Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go⁠—forever?
Nora No, indeed, you shall not. Of course you must come here just as before. You know very well Torvald can’t do without you.
Rank Yes, but you?
Nora Oh, I am always tremendously pleased when you come.
Rank It is just that, that put me on the wrong track. You are a riddle to me. I have often thought that you would almost as soon be in my company as in Helmer’s.
Nora Yes⁠—you see there are some people one loves best, and others whom one would almost always rather have as companions.
Rank Yes, there is something in that.
Nora When I was at home, of course I loved Papa best. But I always thought it tremendous fun if I could steal down into the maids’ room, because they never moralised at all, and talked to each other about such entertaining things.
Rank I see⁠—it is their place I have taken.
Nora Jumping up and going to him. Oh, dear, nice Doctor Rank, I never meant that at all. But surely you can understand that being with Torvald is a little like being with Papa⁠—Enter Maid from the hall.
Maid If you please, ma’am. Whispers and hands her a card.
Nora Glancing at the card. Oh! Puts it in her pocket.
Rank Is there anything wrong?
Nora No, no, not in the least. It is only something⁠—it is my new dress⁠—
Rank What? Your dress is lying there.
Nora Oh, yes, that one; but this is another. I ordered it. Torvald mustn’t know about it⁠—
Rank Oho! Then that was the great secret.
Nora Of course. Just go in to him; he is sitting in the inner room. Keep him as long as⁠—
Rank Make your mind easy; I won’t let him escape.
Goes into Helmer’s room.
Nora To the Maid. And he is standing waiting in the kitchen?
Maid Yes; he came up the back stairs.
Nora But didn’t you tell him no one was in?
Maid Yes, but it was no good.
Nora He won’t go away?
Maid No; he says he won’t until he has seen you, ma’am.
Nora Well, let him come in⁠—but quietly. Helen, you mustn’t say anything about it to anyone. It is a surprise for my husband.
Maid Yes, ma’am, I quite understand. Exit.
Nora This dreadful thing is going to happen! It will happen in spite of me! No, no, no, it can’t happen⁠—it shan’t happen! She bolts the door of Helmer’s room. The Maid opens the hall door for Krogstad and shuts it after him. He is wearing a fur coat, high boots and a fur cap.
Nora Advancing towards him. Speak low⁠—my husband is at home.
Krogstad No matter about that.
Nora What do you want of me?
Krogstad An explanation of something.
Nora Make haste then. What is it?
Krogstad You know, I suppose, that I have got my dismissal.
Nora I couldn’t prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought as hard as I could on your side, but it was no good.
Krogstad Does your husband love you so little, then? He knows what I can expose you to, and yet he ventures⁠—
Nora How can you suppose that he has any knowledge of the sort?
Krogstad I didn’t suppose so at all. It would not be the least like our dear Torvald Helmer to show so much courage⁠—
Nora Mr. Krogstad, a little respect for my husband, please.
Krogstad Certainly⁠—all the respect he deserves. But since you have kept the matter so carefully to yourself, I make bold to suppose that you have a little clearer idea, than you had yesterday, of what it actually is that you have done?
Nora More than you could ever teach me.
Krogstad Yes, such a bad lawyer as I am.
Nora What is it you want of me?
Krogstad Only to see how you were, Mrs. Helmer. I have been thinking about you all day long. A mere cashier, a quill-driver, a⁠—well, a man like me⁠—even he has a little of what is called feeling, you know.
Nora Show it, then; think of my little children.
Krogstad Have you and your husband thought of mine? But never mind about that. I only wanted to tell you that you need not take this matter too seriously. In the first place there will be no accusation made on my part.
Nora No, of course not; I was sure of that.
Krogstad The whole thing can be arranged amicably; there is no reason why anyone should know anything about it. It will remain a secret between us three.
Nora My husband must never get to know anything about it.
Krogstad How will you be able to prevent it? Am I to understand that you can pay the balance that is owing?
Nora No, not just at present.
Krogstad Or perhaps that you have some expedient for raising the money soon?
Nora No expedient that I mean to make use of.
Krogstad Well, in any case, it would have been of no use to you now. If you stood there with ever so much money in your hand, I would never part with your bond.
Nora Tell me what purpose you mean to put it to.
Krogstad I shall only preserve it⁠—keep it in my possession. No one who is not concerned in the matter shall have the slightest hint of it. So that if the thought of it has driven you to any desperate resolution⁠—
Nora It has.
Krogstad If you had it in your mind to run away from your home⁠—
Nora I had.
Krogstad Or even something worse⁠—
Nora How could you know that?
Krogstad Give up the idea.
Nora How did you know I had thought of that?
Krogstad Most of us think of that at first. I did, too⁠—but I hadn’t the courage.
Nora Faintly. No more had I.
Krogstad In a tone of relief. No, that’s it, isn’t it⁠—you hadn’t the courage either?
Nora No, I haven’t⁠—I haven’t.
Krogstad Besides, it would have been a great piece of folly. Once the first storm at home is over⁠—. I have a letter for your husband in my pocket.
Nora Telling him everything?
Krogstad In as lenient a manner as I possibly could.
Nora Quickly. He mustn’t get the letter. Tear it up. I will find some means of getting money.
Krogstad Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer, but I think I told you just now⁠—
Nora I am not speaking of what I owe you. Tell me what sum you are asking my husband for, and I will get the money.
Krogstad I am not asking your husband for a penny.
Nora What do you want, then?
Krogstad I will tell you. I want to rehabilitate myself, Mrs. Helmer; I want to get on; and in that your husband must help me. For the last year and a half I have not had a hand in anything dishonourable, amid all that time I have been struggling in most restricted circumstances. I was content to work my way up step by step. Now I am turned out, and I am not going to be satisfied with merely being taken into favour again. I want to get on, I tell you. I want to get into the Bank again, in a higher position. Your husband must make a place for me⁠—
Nora That he will never do!
Krogstad He will; I know him; he dare not protest. And as soon as I am in there again with him, then you will see! Within a year I shall be the manager’s right hand. It will be Nils Krogstad and not Torvald Helmer who manages the Bank.
Nora That’s a thing you will never see!
Krogstad Do you mean that you will⁠—?
Nora I have courage enough for it now.
Krogstad Oh, you can’t frighten me. A fine, spoilt lady like you⁠—
Nora You will see, you will see.
Krogstad Under the ice, perhaps? Down into the cold, coal-black water? And then, in the spring, to float up to the surface, all horrible and unrecognisable, with your hair fallen out⁠—
Nora You can’t frighten me.
Krogstad Nor you me. People don’t do such things, Mrs. Helmer. Besides, what use would it be? I should have him completely in my power all the same.
Nora Afterwards? When I am no longer⁠—
Krogstad Have you forgotten that it is I who have the keeping of your reputation? Nora stands speechlessly looking at him. Well, now, I have warned you. Do not do anything foolish. When Helmer has had my letter, I shall expect a message from him. And be sure you remember that it is your husband himself who has forced me into such ways as this again. I will never forgive him for that. Goodbye, Mrs. Helmer. Exit through the hall.
Nora Goes to the hall door, opens it slightly and listens. He is going. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh no, no! that’s impossible! Opens the door by degrees. What is that? He is standing outside. He is not going downstairs. Is he hesitating? Can he⁠—? A letter drops into the box; then Krogstad’s footsteps are heard, until they die away as he goes downstairs. Nora utters a stifled cry, and runs across the room to the table by the sofa. A short pause.
Nora In the letter box. Steals across to the hall door. There it lies⁠—Torvald, Torvald, there is no hope for us now!
Mrs. Linde comes in from the room on the left, carrying the dress.
Mrs. Linde There, I can’t see anything more to mend now. Would you like to try it on⁠—?
Nora In a hoarse whisper. Christine, come here.
Mrs. Linde Throwing the dress down on the sofa. What is the matter with you? You look so agitated!
Nora Come here. Do you see that letter? There, look⁠—you can see it through the glass in the letter box.
Mrs. Linde Yes, I see it.
Nora That letter is from Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde Nora⁠—it was Krogstad who lent you the money!
Nora Yes, and now Torvald will know all about it.
Mrs. Linde Believe me, Nora, that’s the best thing for both of you.
Nora You don’t know all. I forged a name.
Mrs. Linde Good heavens⁠—!
Nora I only want to say this to you, Christine⁠—you must be my witness.
Mrs. Linde Your witness? What do you mean? What am I to⁠—?
Nora If I should go out of my mind⁠—and it might easily happen⁠—
Mrs. Linde Nora!
Nora Or if anything else should happen to me⁠—anything, for instance, that might prevent my being here⁠—
Mrs. Linde Nora! Nora! you are quite out of your mind.
Nora And if it should happen that there were someone who wanted to take all the responsibility, all the blame, you understand⁠—
Mrs. Linde Yes, yes⁠—but how can you suppose⁠—?
Nora Then you must be my witness, that it is not true, Christine. I am not out of my mind at all; I am in my right senses now, and I tell you no one else has known anything about it; I, and I alone, did the whole thing. Remember that.
Mrs. Linde I will, indeed. But I don’t understand all this.
Nora How should you understand it? A wonderful thing is going to happen!
Mrs. Linde A wonderful thing?
Nora Yes, a wonderful thing!⁠—But it is so terrible, Christine; it mustn’t happen, not for all the world.
Mrs. Linde I will go at once and see Krogstad.
Nora Don’t go to him; he will do you some harm.
Mrs. Linde There was a time when he would gladly do anything for my sake.
Nora He?
Mrs. Linde Where does he live?
Nora How should I know⁠—? Yes, feeling in her pocket] here is his card. But the letter, the letter⁠—!
Helmer Calls from his room, knocking at the door. Nora! Nora Cries out anxiously. Oh, what’s that? What do you want?
Helmer Don’t be so frightened. We are not coming in; you have locked the door. Are you trying on your dress?
Nora Yes, that’s it. I look so nice, Torvald.
Mrs. Linde Who has read the card. I see he lives at the corner here.
Nora Yes, but it’s no use. It is hopeless. The letter is lying there in the box.
Mrs. Linde And your husband keeps the key?
Nora Yes, always.
Mrs. Linde Krogstad must ask for his letter back unread, he must find some pretence⁠—
Nora But it is just at this time that Torvald generally⁠—
Mrs. Linde You must delay him. Go in to him in the meantime. I will come back as soon as I can. She goes out hurriedly through the hall door.
Nora Goes to Helmer’s door, opens it and peeps in. Torvald!
Helmer From the inner room. Well? May I venture at last to come into my own room again? Come along, Rank, now you will see⁠—Halting in the doorway. But what is this?
Nora What is what, dear?
Helmer Rank led me to expect a splendid transformation.
Rank In the doorway. I understood so, but evidently I was mistaken.
Nora Yes, nobody is to have the chance of admiring me in my dress until tomorrow.
Helmer But, my dear Nora, you look so worn out. Have you been practising too much?
Nora No, I have not practised at all.
Helmer But you will need to⁠—
Nora Yes, indeed I shall, Torvald. But I can’t get on a bit without you to help me; I have absolutely forgotten the whole thing.
Helmer Oh, we will soon work it up again.
Nora Yes, help me, Torvald. Promise that you will! I am so nervous about it⁠—all the people⁠—. You must give yourself up to me entirely this evening. Not the tiniest bit of business⁠—you mustn’t even take a pen in your hand. Will you promise, Torvald dear?
Helmer I promise. This evening I will be wholly and absolutely at your service, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by the way, first of all I will just⁠—Goes towards the hall door.
Nora What are you going to do there?
Helmer Only see if any letters have come.
Nora No, no! don’t do that, Torvald!
Helmer Why not?
Nora Torvald, please don’t. There is nothing there.
Helmer Well, let me look. Turns to go to the letter box. Nora, at the piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella. Helmer stops in the doorway. Aha!
Nora I can’t dance tomorrow if I don’t practise with you.
Helmer Going up to her. Are you really so afraid of it, dear?
Nora Yes, so dreadfully afraid of it. Let me practise at once; there is time now, before we go to dinner. Sit down and play for me, Torvald dear; criticise me, and correct me as you play.
Helmer With great pleasure, if you wish me to. Sits down at the piano.
Nora Takes out of the box a tambourine and a long variegated shawl. She hastily drapes the shawl round her. Then she springs to the front of the stage and calls out. Now play for me! I am going to dance!
Helmer plays and Nora dances. Rank stands by the piano behind Helmer, and looks on.
Helmer As he plays. Slower, slower!
Nora I can’t do it any other way.
Helmer Not so violently, Nora!
Nora This is the way.
Helmer Stops playing. No, no⁠—that is not a bit right.
Nora Laughing and swinging the tambourine. Didn’t I tell you so?
Rank Let me play for her.
Helmer Getting up. Yes, do. I can correct her better then.
Rank sits down at the piano and plays. Nora dances more and more wildly. Helmer has taken up a position beside the stove, and during her dance gives her frequent instructions. She does not seem to hear him; her hair comes down and falls over her shoulders; she pays no attention to it, but goes on dancing. Enter Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde Standing as if spellbound in the doorway. Oh!⁠—
Nora As she dances. Such fun, Christine!
Helmer My dear darling Nora, you are dancing as if your life depended on it.
Nora So it does.
Helmer Stop, Rank; this is sheer madness. Stop, I tell you! Rank stops playing, and Nora suddenly stands still. Helmer goes up to her. I could never have believed it. You have forgotten everything I taught you.
Nora Throwing away the tambourine. There, you see.
Helmer You will want a lot of coaching.
Nora Yes, you see how much I need it. You must coach me up to the last minute. Promise me that, Torvald!
Helmer You can depend on me.
Nora You must not think of anything but me, either today or tomorrow; you mustn’t open a single letter⁠—not even open the letter box⁠—
Helmer Ah, you are still afraid of that fellow⁠—
Nora Yes, indeed I am.
Helmer Nora, I can tell from your looks that there is a letter from him lying there.
Nora I don’t know; I think there is; but you must not read anything of that kind now. Nothing horrid must come between us until this is all over.
Rank Whispers to Helmer. You mustn’t contradict her.
Helmer Taking her in his arms. The child shall have her way. But tomorrow night, after you have danced⁠—
Nora Then you will be free. The Maid appears in the doorway to the right.
Maid Dinner is served, ma’am.
Nora We will have champagne, Helen.
Maid Very good, ma’am. Exit.
Helmer Hullo!⁠—are we going to have a banquet?
Nora Yes, a champagne banquet until the small hours. Calls out. And a few macaroons, Helen⁠—lots, just for once!
Helmer Come, come, don’t be so wild and nervous. Be my own little skylark, as you used.
Nora Yes, dear, I will. But go in now and you too, Doctor Rank. Christine, you must help me to do up my hair.
Rank Whispers to Helmer as they go out. I suppose there is nothing⁠—she is not expecting anything?
Helmer Far from it, my dear fellow; it is simply nothing more than this childish nervousness I was telling you of. They go into the right-hand room.
Nora Well!
Mrs. Linde Gone out of town.
Nora I could tell from your face.
Mrs. Linde He is coming home tomorrow evening. I wrote a note for him.
Nora You should have let it alone; you must prevent nothing. After all, it is splendid to be waiting for a wonderful thing to happen.
Mrs. Linde What is it that you are waiting for?
Nora Oh, you wouldn’t understand. Go in to them, I will come in a moment. Mrs. Linde goes into the dining room. Nora stands still for a little while, as if to compose herself. Then she looks at her watch. Five o’clock. Seven hours until midnight; and then four-and-twenty hours until the next midnight. Then the Tarantella will be over. Twenty-four and seven? Thirty-one hours to live.
Helmer From the doorway on the right. Where’s my little skylark?
Nora Going to him with her arms outstretched. Here she is!