Act One
Act Two
Act Three
Act Four
E-text scanned by Martin Adamson


A play in four acts
by Henrik Ibsen

Translated by R. Farquharson Sharp


John Rosmer, of Rosmersholm, an ex-clergyman.

Rebecca West, one of his household, originally engaged as

companion to the late Mrs. Rosmer.

Kroll, headmaster of the local grammar school, Rosmer's brother-


Ulrik Brendel.

Peter Mortensgaard.

Mrs. Helseth, Rosmer's housekeeper.

(The action takes place at Rosmersholm, an old manor-house in the

neighbourhood of a small town on a fjord in western Norway.)


(SCENE--The sitting-room at Rosmersholm; a spacious room,

comfortably furnished in old-fashioned style. In the foreground,

against the right-hand wall, is a stove decorated with sprigs of

fresh birch and wild flowers. Farther back, a door. In the back

wall folding doors leading into the entrance hall. In the left-

hand wall a window, in front of which is a stand filled with

flowers and plants. Near the stove stand a table, a couch and an

easy-chair. The walls are hung round with portraits, dating from

various periods, of clergymen, military officers and other

officials in uniform. The window is open, and so are the doors

into the lobby and the outer door. Through the latter is seen an

avenue of old trees leading to a courtyard. It is a summer

evening, after sunset. REBECCA WEST is sitting by the window

crocheting a large white woollen shawl, which is nearly

completed. From time to time she peeps out of window through the

flowers. MRS. HELSETH comes in from the right.)

Mrs. Helseth. Hadn't I better begin and lay the table for supper,


Rebecca. Yes, do. Mr. Rosmer ought to be in directly.

Mrs. Helseth. Isn't there a draught where you are sitting, miss?

Rebecca. There is a little. Will you shut up, please? (MRS.

HELSETH goes to the hall door and shuts it. Then she goes to the

window, to shut it, and looks out.)

Mrs. Helseth. Isn't that Mr. Rosmer coming there?

Rebecca. Where? (Gets up.) Yes, it is he. (Stands behind the

window-curtain.) Stand on one side. Don't let him catch sight of


Mrs. Helseth (stepping back). Look, miss--he is beginning to use

the mill path again.

Rebecca. He came by the mill path the day before yesterday too.

(Peeps out between the curtain and the window-frame). Now we

shall see whether--

Mrs. Helseth. Is he going over the wooden bridge?

Rebecca. That is just what I want to see. (After a moment.) No.

He has turned aside. He is coming the other way round to-day too.

(Comes away from the window.) It is a long way round.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, of course. One can well understand his

shrinking from going over that bridge. The spot where such a

thing has happened is--

Rebecca (folding up her work). They cling to their dead a long

time at Rosmersholm.

Mrs. Helseth. If you ask me, miss, I should say it is the dead

that cling to Rosmersholm a long time.

Rebecca (looking at her). The dead?

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, one might almost say that they don't seem to

be able to tear themselves away from those they have left behind.

Rebecca. What puts that idea into your head?

Mrs. Helseth. Well, otherwise I know the White Horses would not

be seen here.

Rebecca. Tell me, Mrs. Helseth--what is this superstition about

the White Horses?

Mrs. Helseth. Oh, it is not worth talking about. I am sure you

don't believe in such things, either.

Rebecca. Do you believe in them?

Mrs. Helseth (goes to the window and shuts it). Oh, I am not

going to give you a chance of laughing at me, miss. (Looks out.)

See--is that not Mr. Rosmer out on the mill path again?

Rebecca (looking out). That man out there? (Goes to the window.)

Why, that is Mr. Kroll, of course!

Mrs. Helseth. So it is, to be sure.

Rebecca. That is delightful, because he is certain to be coming


Mrs. Helseth. He actually comes straight over the wooden bridge,

he does for all that she was his own sister. Well, I will go in

and get the supper laid, miss. (Goes out to the right. REBECCA

stands still for a moment, then waves her hand out of the window,

nodding and smiling. Darkness is beginning to fall.)

Rebecca (going to the door on the right and calling through it).

Mrs. Helseth, I am sure you won't mind preparing something extra

nice for supper? You know what dishes Mr. Kroll is especially

fond of.

Mrs. Helseth. Certainly, miss. I will.

Rebecca (opening the door into the lobby). At last, Mr. Kroll! I

am so glad to see you!

Kroll (coming into the lobby and putting down his stick). Thank

you. Are you sure I am not disturbing you?

Rebecca. You? How can you say such a thing?

Kroll (coming into the room). You are always so kind. (Looks

round the room.) Is John up in his room?

Rebecca. No, he has gone out for a walk. He is later than usual

of coming in, but he is sure to be back directly. (Points to the

sofa.) Do sit down and wait for him.

Kroll (putting down his hat). Thank you. (Sits down and looks

about him.) How charmingly pretty you have made the old room

look! Flowers everywhere!

Rebecca. Mr. Rosmer is so fond of having fresh flowers about him.

Kroll. And so are you, I should say.

Rebecca. Yes, I am. I think their scent has such a delicious

effect on one--and till lately we had to deny ourselves that

pleasure, you know.

Kroll (nodding slowly). Poor Beata could not stand the scent of


Rebecca. Nor their colours either. They made her feel dazed.

Kroll. Yes, I remember. (Continues in a more cheerful tone of

voice). Well, and how are things going here?

Rebecca. Oh, everything goes on in the same quiet, placid way.

One day is exactly like another. And how are things with you? Is

your wife--?

Kroll. Oh, my dear Miss West, don't let us talk about my affairs.

In a family there is always something or other going awry--

especially in such times as we live in now.

Rebecca (after a short pause, sitting down in an easy-chair near

the sofa). Why have you never once been near us during the whole

of your holidays?

Kroll. Oh, it doesn't do to be importunate, you know.

Rebecca. If you only knew how we have missed you.

Kroll. And, besides, I have been away, you know.

Rebecca. Yes, for a fortnight or so. I suppose you have been

going the round of the public meetings?

Kroll (nods). Yes, what do you say to that? Would you ever have

thought I would become a political agitator in my old age--eh?

Rebecca (smilingly). You have always been a little bit of an

agitator, Mr. Kroll.

Kroll. Oh, yes; just for my own amusement. But for the future it

is going to be in real earnest. Do you ever read the Radical


Rebecca. Yes, I won't deny that!

Kroll. My dear Miss West, there is no objection to that--not as

far as you are concerned.

Rebecca. No, that is just what I think. I must follow the course

of events--keep up with what is happening.

Kroll. Well, under any circumstances, I should never expect you,

as a woman, to side actively with either party in the civic

dispute--indeed one might more properly call it the civil war--that

is raging here. I dare say you have read, then, the abuse these

"nature's gentlemen" are pleased to shower upon me, and the

scandalous coarseness they consider they are entitled to make use


Rebecca. Yes, but I think you have held your own pretty forcibly.

Kroll. That I have--though I say it. I have tasted blood now, and

I will make them realise that I am not the sort of man to take it

lying down--. (Checks himself.) No, no, do not let us get upon

that sad and distressing topic this evening.

Rebecca. No, my dear Mr. Kroll, certainly not.

Kroll. Tell me, instead, how you find you get on at Rosmersholm,

now that you are alone here--I mean, since our poor Beata--

Rebecca. Oh, thanks--I get on very well here. Her death has made a

great gap in the house in many ways, of course--and one misses her

and grieves for her, naturally. But in other respects--

Kroll. Do you think you will remain here?--permanently, I mean?

Rebecca. Dear Mr. Kroll, I really never think about it at all.

The fact is that I have become so thoroughly domesticated here

that I almost feel as if I belonged to the place too.

Kroll. You? I should think you did!

Rebecca. And as long as Mr. Rosmer finds I can be any comfort or

any use to him, I will gladly remain here, undoubtedly.

Kroll (looking at her, with some emotion). You know, there is

something splendid about a woman's sacrificing the whole of her

youth for others.

Rebecca. What else have I had to live for?

Kroll. At first when you came here there was your perpetual worry

with that unreasonable cripple of a foster-father of yours--

Rebecca. You mustn't think that Dr. West was as unreasonable as

that when we lived in Finmark. It was the trying journeys by sea

that broke him up. But it is quite true that after we had moved

here there were one or two hard years before his sufferings were


Kroll. Were not the years that followed even harder for you?

Rebecca. No; how can you say such a thing! I, who was so

genuinely fond of Beata--! And she, poor soul was so sadly in need

of care and sympathetic companionship.

Kroll. You deserve to be thanked and rewarded for the forbearance

with which you speak of her.

Rebecca (moving a little nearer to him). Dear Mr. Kroll, you say

that so kindly and so sincerely that I feel sure you really bear

me no ill-will.

Kroll. Ill-will? What do you mean?

Rebecca. Well, it would not be so very surprising if it were

rather painful for you to see me, a stranger, doing just as I

like here at Rosmersholm.

Kroll. How in the world could you think--!

Rebecca. Then it is not so? (Holds out her hand to, him.) Thank

you, Mr. Kroll; thank you for that.

Kroll. But what on earth could make you take such an idea into

your head?

Rebecca. I began to be afraid it might be so, as you have so

seldom been out here to see us lately.

Kroll. I can assure you, you have been on the wrong scent

entirely, Miss West. And, in any case, the situation of affairs

is unchanged in any essential point; because during the last sad

years of poor Beata's life it was you and you alone, even then,

that looked after everything here.

Rebecca. But it was more like a kind of regency in the wife's


Kroll. Whatever it was, I--. I will tell you what, Miss West; as

far as I am concerned I should have nothing whatever to say

against it if you. But it doesn't do to say such things.

Rebecca. What things?

Kroll. Well, if it so happened that you were to step into the

empty place--

Rebecca. I have the place I want, already, Mr. Kroll.

Kroll. Yes, as far as material benefits go; but not--

Rebecca (interrupting him, in a serious voice). For shame, Mr.

Kroll! How can you sit there and jest about such things!

Kroll. Oh, well, I dare say our good John Rosmer thinks he has

had more than enough of married life. But, all the same--

Rebecca. Really, you almost make me feel inclined to laugh at


Kroll. All the same--Tell me, Miss West, if I may be allowed the

question, how old are you?

Rebecca. I am ashamed to say I was twenty-nine on my last

birthday, Mr. Kroll. I am nearly thirty.

Kroll. Quite so. And Rosmer--how old is he? Let me see. He is five

years younger than me, so he must be just about forty-three. It

seems to me it would be very suitable.

Rebecca. No doubt, no doubt. It would be remarkably suitable--Will

you stop and have supper with us?

Kroll. Thank you. I had meant to pay you a good long visit,

because there is a matter I want to talk over with our excellent

friend--Well, then, Miss West, to prevent your taking foolish

ideas into your head again, I will come out here again from time

to time, as in the old days.

Rebecca. Yes, please do. (Holds out her hand to, him.) Thank you,

thank you! You are really uncommonly good-natured.

Kroll (with a little grumble). Am I? I can tell you that is more

than they say at home. (ROSMER comes in by the door on the


Rebecca. Mr. Rosmer, do you see who is sitting here?

Rosmer. Mrs. Helseth told me. (KROLL gets up.) I am so glad to

see you here again, my dear fellow. (Puts his hands on KROLL'S

shoulders and looks him in the face.) Dear old friend! I knew

that one day we should be on our old footing again.

Kroll. My dear fellow, have you that insane idea in your head

too, that any thing could come between us?

Rebecca (to ROSMER). Isn't it delightful to think it was all our


Rosmer. Is that really true, Kroll? But why have you kept so

obstinately away from us?

Kroll (seriously, and in, a subdued voice). Because I did not

want to come here like a living reminder of the unhappy time that

is past--and of her who met her death in the mill-race.

Rosmer. It was a very kind thought on your part. You are always

so considerate. But it was altogether unnecessary to keep away

from us on that account. Come along, let us sit down on the sofa.

(They sit down.) I can assure you it is not in the least painful

for me to think about Beata. We talk about her every day. She

seems to us to have a part in the house still.

Kroll. Does she really?

Rebecca (lighting the lamp). Yes, it is really quite true.

Rosmer. She really does. We both think so affectionately of her.

And both Rebecca--both Miss West and I know in our hearts that we

did all that lay in our power for the poor afflicted creature. We

have nothing to reproach ourselves with. That is why I feel there

is something sweet and peaceful in the way we can think of Beata


Kroll. You dear good people! In future I am coming out to see you

every day.

Rebecca (sitting down in an arm-chair). Yes, let us see that you

keep your word.

Rosmer (with a slight hesitation). I assure you, my dear fellow,

my dearest wish would be that our intimacy should never suffer in

any way. You know, you have seemed to be my natural adviser as

long as we have known one another, even from my student days.

Kroll. I know, and I am very proud of the privilege. Is there by

any chance anything in particular just now--?

Rosmer. There are a great many things that I want very much to

talk over with you frankly--things that lie very near my heart.

Rebecca. I feel that is so, too, Mr. Rosmer. It seems to me it

would be such a good thing if you two old friends--

Kroll. Well, I can assure you I have even more to talk over with

you--because I have become an active politician, as I dare say you


Rosmer. Yes, I know you have. How did that come about?

Kroll. I had to, you see, whether I liked it or not. It became

impossible for me to remain an idle spectator any longer. Now

that the Radicals have become so distressingly powerful, it was

high time. And that is also why I have induced our little circle

of friends in the town to bind themselves more definitely

together. It was high time, I can tell you!

Rebecca (with a slight smile). As a matter of fact, isn't it

really rather late now?

Kroll. There is no denying it would have been more fortunate if

we had succeeded in checking the stream at an earlier point. But

who could really foresee what was coming? I am sure I could not.

(Gets up and walks up and down.) Anyway, my eyes are completely

opened now; for the spirit of revolt has spread even into my


Rosmer. Into the school? Surely not into your school?

Kroll. Indeed it has. Into my own school. What do you think of

this? I have got wind of the fact that the boys in the top class--

or rather, a part of the boys in it--have formed themselves into a

secret society and have been taking in Mortensgaard's paper!

Rebecca. Ah, the "Searchlight".

Kroll. Yes, don't you think that is a nice sort of intellectual

pabulum for future public servants? But the saddest part of it is

that it is all the most promising boys in the class that have

conspired together and hatched this plot against me. It is only

the duffers and dunces that have held aloof from it.

Rebecca. Do you take it so much to heart, Mr. Kroll?

Kroll. Do I take it to heart, to find myself so hampered and

thwarted in my life's work? (Speaking more gently.) I might find

it in my heart to say that I could even take that for what it is

worth; but I have not told you the worst of it yet. (Looks round

the room.) I suppose nobody is likely to be listening at the


Rebecca. Oh, certainly not.

Kroll. Then let me tell you that the revolt and dissension has

spread into my own home--into my own peaceful home--and has

disturbed the peace of my family life.

Rosmer (getting up). Do you mean it? In your own home?

Rebecca (going up to Kroll). Dear Mr. Kroll, what has happened?

Kroll. Would you believe it that my own children--. To make a long

story short, my boy Laurits is the moving spirit of the

conspiracy at the school. And Hilda has embroidered a red

portfolio to keep the numbers of the "Searchlight" in.

Rosmer. I should never have dreamed of such a thing; in your

family--in your own house!

Kroll. No, who would ever have dreamed of such a thing? In my

house, where obedience and order have always ruled--where hitherto

there has never been anything but one unanimous will--

Rebecca. How does your wife take it?

Kroll. Ah, that is the most incredible part of the whole thing.

She, who all her days--in great things and small--has concurred in

my opinions and approved of all my views, has actually not

refrained from throwing her weight on the children's side on many

points. And now she considers I am to blame for what has

happened. She says I try to coerce the young people too much.

Just as if it were not necessary to--. Well, those are the sort of

dissensions I have going on at home. But naturally I talk as

little about it as possible; it is better to be silent about such

things. (Walks across the floor.) Oh, yes.--Oh, yes. (Stands by

the window, with his hands behind his back, and looks out.)

Rebecca (goes up to ROSMER, and speaks in low, hurried tones,

unheard by KROLL). Do it!

Rosmer (in the same tone). Not to-night.

Rebecca (as before). Yes, this night of all others. (Goes away

from him and adjusts the lamp.)

Kroll (coming back). Yes, my dear John, so now you know the sort

of spirit of the age that has cast its shadow both over my home

life and my official work. Ought I not to oppose this appalling,

destructive, disorganising tendency with all the weapons I can

lay my hands upon? Of course it is certainly my duty--and that

both with my pen and my tongue.

Rosmer. But have you any hope that you can produce any effect in

that way?

Kroll. At all events I mean to take my share in the fight as a

citizen. And I consider that it is the duty of every patriotic

man, every man who is concerned about what is right, to do the

same. And, I may as well tell you, that is really the reason why

I have come here to see you to-night.

Rosmer. My dear fellow, what do you mean? What can I--?

Kroll. You are going to help your old friends, and do as we are

doing--take your share in it to the best of your ability.

Rebecca. But, Mr. Kroll, you know how little taste Mr. Rosmer has

for that sort of thing.

Kroll. Then he has got to overcome that distaste now. You do not

keep abreast of the times, John. You sit here and bury yourself

in your historical researches. Goodness knows, I have the

greatest respect for family pedigrees and all that they imply.

But this is not the time for such occupations, unhappily. You

have no conception of the state of affairs that is going on all

over the country. Every single idea is turned upside down, or

very nearly so. It will be a hard fight to get all the errors

straightened out again.

Rosmer. I can quite believe it. But that sort of a fight is not

in my line at all.

Rebecca. Besides, I rather fancy that Mr. Rosmer has come to look

at the affairs of life with wider opened eyes than before.

Kroll (with a start). Wider opened eyes?

Rebecca. Yes, or with an opener mind--with less prejudice.

Kroll. What do you mean by that? John--surely you could never be

so weak as to allow yourself to be deluded by the accidental

circumstance that the demagogues have scored a temporary success!

Rosmer. My dear fellow, you know very well that I am no judge of

politics; but it certainly seems to me that of late years

individual thought has become somewhat more independent.

Kroll. Quite so--but do you consider that as a matter of course to

be a good thing? In any case you are vastly mistaken, my friend.

Just inquire a little into the opinions that are current amongst

the Radicals, both out here in the country and in town. You will

find them to be nothing else than the words of wisdom that appear

in the "Searchlight".

Rebecca. Yes, Mortensgaard has a great deal of influence over the

people about here.

Kroll. Yes, just think of it--a man with as dirty a record as his!

A fellow that was turned out of his place as a schoolmaster

because of his immoral conduct! This is the sort of man that

poses as a leader of the people! And successfully, too!--actually

successfully! I hear that he means to enlarge his paper now. I know,

on reliable authority, that he is looking for a competent


Rebecca. It seems to me surprising that you and your friends do

not start an opposition paper.

Kroll. That is exactly what we intend to do. This very day we

have bought the "County News." There was no difficulty about the

financial side of the matter; but-- (Turns towards ROSMER) Now we

have come to the real purport of my visit. It is the Management

of it--the editorial management--that is the difficulty, you see.

Look here, Rosmer--don't you feel called upon to undertake it, for

the sake of the good cause?

Rosmer (in a tone of consternation). I!

Rebecca. How can you think of such a thing!

Kroll. I can quite understand your having a horror of public

meetings and being unwilling to expose yourself to the mercies of

the rabble that frequents them. But an editor's work, which is

carried on in much greater privacy, or rather--

Rosmer. No, no, my dear fellow, you must not ask that of me.

Kroll. It would give me the greatest pleasure to have a try at

work of that sort myself--only it would be quite out of the

question for me; I am already saddled with such an endless number

of duties. You, on the other hand, who are no longer hampered by

any official duties, might--. Of course the rest of us would give

you all the help in our power.

Rosmer. I cannot do it, Kroll. I am not fitted for it.

Kroll. Not fitted for it? That was just what you said when your

father got you your living.

Rosmer. I was quite right; and that was why I resigned it, too.

Kroll. Well, if you only make as good an editor as you did a

parson, we shall be quite satisfied.

Rosmer. My dear Kroll--once for all--I cannot do it.

Kroll. Well, then, I suppose you will give us the use of your

name, at all events?

Rosmer. My name?

Kroll. Yes, the mere fact of John Rosmer's name being connected

with it will be a great advantage to the paper. We others are

looked upon as pronounced partisans. I myself even have the

reputation of being a wicked fanatic, I am told. Therefore we

cannot count upon our own names to give us any particular help in

making the paper known to the misguided masses. But you, on the

contrary, have always held aloof from this kind of fighting.

Your gentle and upright disposition, your polished mind, your

unimpeachable honour, are known to and appreciated by every one

about here. And then there is the deference and respect that your

former position as a clergyman ensures for you--and, besides that,

there is the veneration in which your family, name is held!

Rosmer. Oh, my family name.

Kroll (pointing to the portraits). Rosmers of Rosmersholm--

clergymen, soldiers, men who have filled high places in the

state--men of scrupulous honour, every one of them--a family that

has been rooted here, the most influential in the place, for

nearly two centuries. (Lays his hand on ROSMER'S shoulder.) John,

you owe it to yourself and to the traditions of your race to join

us in defence of all that has hitherto been held sacred in our

community. (Turning to REBECCA.) What do you say, Miss West?

Rebecca (with a quiet little laugh). my dear Mr. Kroll--it all

sounds so absurdly ludicrous to me.

Kroll. What! Ludicrous?

Rebecca. Yes, because it is time you were told plainly--

Rosmer (hurriedly). No, no--don't! Not now!

Kroll (looking from one to the other). But, my dear friends, what

on earth--? (Breaks off, as MRS. HELSETH comes in, by the door on

the right.) Ahem!

Mrs. Helseth. There is a man at the kitchen door, sir. He says he

wants to see you.

Rosmer (in a relieved voice). Is there? Well, ask him to come in.

Mrs. Helseth. Shall I show him in here, sir?

Rosmer. Certainly.

Mrs. Helseth. But he doesn't look the sort of man one ought to

allow in here.

Rebecca. What does he look like, Mrs. Helseth?

Mrs. Helseth. Oh, he is not much to look at, Miss.

Rosmer. Did he not give you his name?

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, I think he said it was Hekman, or something

like that.

Rosmer. I do not know any one of that name.

Mrs. Helseth. And he said his Christian name was Ulrik.

Rosmer (with a start of surprise). Ulrik Hetman! Was that it?

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, sir, it was Hetman.

Kroll. I am certain I have heard that name before.

Rebecca. Surely it was the name that strange creature used to

write under--

Rosmer (to Kroll). It is Ulrik Brendel's pseudonym, you know.

Kroll. That scamp Ulrik Brendel. You are quite right.

Rebecca. So he is alive still.

Rosmer. I thought he was travelling with a theatrical company.

Kroll. The last I heard of him was that he was in the workhouse.

Rosmer. Ask him to come in, Mrs. Helseth.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, sir. (Goes out.)

Kroll. Do you really mean to allow this fellow into your house?

Rosmer. Oh, well, you know he was my tutor once.

Kroll. I know that what he did was to stuff your head with

revolutionary ideas, and that in consequence your father turned

him out of the house with a horsewhip.

Rosmer (a little bitterly). Yes, my father was always the

commanding officer--even at home.

Kroll. Be grateful to his memory for that, my dear John. Ah!

(MRS. HELSETH shows ULRIK BRENDEL in at the door, then goes out

and shuts the door after her. BRENDEL is a good-looking man with

grey hair and beard; somewhat emaciated, but active and alert; he

is dressed like a common tramp, in a threadbare frock coat, shoes

with holes in them, and no visible linen at his neck or wrists.

He wears a pair of old black gloves, carries a dirty soft hat

under his arm, and has a walking-stick in his hand. He looks

puzzled at first, then goes quickly up to KROLL and holds out his

hand to him.)

Brendel. Good-evening, John!

Kroll. Excuse me

Brendel. Did you ever expect to see me again? And inside these

hated walls, too?

Kroll. Excuse me. (Points to ROSMER.) Over there.

Brendel (turning round). Quite right. There he is. John--my boy--my

favourite pupil!

Rosmer (shaking hands with him). My old tutor!

Brendel. In spite of certain recollections, I could not pass by

Rosmersholm without paying you a flying visit.

Rosmer. You are very welcome here now. Be sure of that.

Brendel. And this charming lady--? (Bows to Rebecca.) Your wife,

of course.

Rosmer. Miss West.

Brendel. A near relation, I presume. And our stranger friend

here? A colleague, I can see.

Rosmer. Mr. Kroll, master of the grammar school here.

Brendel. Kroll? Kroll? Wait a moment. Did you take the Philology

course in your student days?

Kroll. Certainly I did.

Brendel. By Jove, I used to know you, then

Kroll. Excuse me--

Brendel. Were you not--

Kroll. Excuse me--

Brendel. --one of those champions of all the virtues that got me

turned out of the Debating Society?

Kroll. Very possibly. But I disclaim any other acquaintance with


Brendel. All right, all right! Nach Belieben, Mr. Kroll. I dare

say I shall get over it. Ulrik Brendel will still be himself in

spite of it.

Rebecca. Are you on your way to the town, Mr. Brendel?

Brendel. You have hit the nail on the head, ma'am. At certain

intervals I am obliged to do something for my living. I do not do

it willingly--but, enfin--when needs must--

Rosmer. My dear Mr. Brendel, will you not let me be of assistance

to you? In some way or another, I mean--

Brendel. Ah, what a proposal to come from you! Could you wish to

soil the tie that binds us together? Never, John--never!

Rosmer. But what do you propose to do in the town, then? I assure

you, you won't find it so easy--

Brendel. Leave that to me, my boy. The die is cast. The unworthy

individual who stands before you is started on an extensive

campaign--more extensive than all his former excursions put

together. (To KROLL.) May I venture to ask you, Professor--unter

uns--are there in your esteemed town any fairly decent,

respectable and spacious assembly-rooms?

Kroll. The most spacious is the hall belonging to the Working

Men's Association.

Brendel. May I ask, sir, if you have any special influence with

that no doubt most useful Association?

Kroll. I have nothing whatever to do with it.

Rebecca (to BRENDEL). You ought to apply to Peter Mortensgaard.

Brendel. Pardon, madame--what sort of an idiot is he?

Rosmer. Why do you make up your mind he is an idiot?

Brendel. Do you suppose I can't tell, from the sound of the name,

that it belongs to a plebeian?

Kroll. I did not expect that answer.

Brendel. But I will conquer my prejudices. There is nothing else

for it. When a man stands at a turning-point in his life--as I do--

. That is settled. I shall, put myself into communication with

this person--commence direct negotiations.

Rosmer. Are you in earnest when you say you are standing at a

turning-point in your life?

Brendel. Does my own boy not know that wherever Ulrik Brendel

stands he is always in earnest about it? Look here, I mean to

become a new man now--to emerge from the cloak of reserve in which

I have hitherto shrouded myself.

Rosmer. In what way?

Brendel. I mean to take an active part in life--to step forward--to

look higher. The atmosphere we breathe is heavy with storms. I

want now to offer my mite upon the altar of emancipation.

Kroll. You too?

Brendel (to them all). Has your public here any intimate

acquaintance with my scattered writings?

Kroll. No, I must candidly confess that--

Rebecca. I have read several of them. My foster-father had them.

Brendel. My dear lady, then you have wasted your, time. They are

simply trash, allow me to tell you.

Rebecca. Really?

Brendel. Those you have read, yes. My really important works no

man or woman knows anything about. No one--except myself.

Rebecca. How is that?

Brendel. Because they are not yet written.

Rosmer. But, my dear Mr. Brendel--

Brendel. You know, my dear John, that I am a bit of a sybarite--a

gourmet. I have always been so. I have a taste for solitary

enjoyment, because in that way my enjoyment is twice--ten times--as

keen. It is, like this. When I have been wrapped in a haze of

golden dreams that have descended on me--when new, intoxicating,

momentous thoughts have had their birth in my mind, and I have

been fanned by the beat of their wings as they bore me aloft--at

such moments I have transformed them into poetry, into visions,

into pictures. In general outlines, that is to say.

Rosmer. Quite so.

Brendel. You cannot imagine the luxury of enjoyment I have

experienced! The mysterious rapture of creation!--in, general

outlines, as I said. Applause, gratitude, eulogies, crowns of

laurel!--all these I have culled with full hands trembling with

joy. In my secret ecstasies I have steeped myself in a happiness

so, intoxicating--

Kroll. Ahem!

Rosmer. But you have never written anything of it down?

Brendel. Not a word. The thought of the dull clerk's work that it

would mean has always moved me to a nauseating sense of disgust.

Besides, why should I profane my own ideals when I could enjoy

them, in all their purity, by myself? But now they shall be

sacrificed. Honestly, I feel as a mother must do when she

entrusts her young daughter to the arms of a husband. But I am

going to, sacrifice them nevertheless--sacrifice them on the altar

of emancipation. A series of carefully thought-out lectures, to

be delivered all over the country!

Rebecca (impetuously). That is splendid of you, Mr. Brendel! You

are giving up the most precious thing you possess.

Rosmer. The only thing.

Rebecca (looking meaningly at ROSMER). I wonder how many there

are who would do as much--who dare do it?

Rosmer (returning her look). Who knows?

Brendel. My audience is moved. That refreshes my heart and

strengthens my will--and now I shall proceed upon my task

forthwith. There is one other point, though. (To KROLL.) Can you

inform me, sir, whether there is an Abstainers' Society in the

town? A Total Abstainers' Society? I feel sure there must be.

Kroll. There is one, at your service. I am the president.

Brendel. I could tell that as soon as I saw you! Well, it is not

at all impossible that I may come to you and become a member for

a week.

Kroll. Excuse me--we do not accept weekly members.

Brendel. A la bonne heure, my good sir. Ulrik Brendel has never

been in the habit of forcing himself upon societies of that kind.

(Turns to go But I must not prolong my stay in this house, rich

as it is in memories. I must go into the town and find some

suitable lodging. I shall find a decent hotel of some kind there,

I hope?

Rebecca. Will you not have something hot to drink before you go?

Brendel. Of what nature, dear lady?

Rebecca. A cup of tea, or--

Brendel. A thousand thanks to the most generous of hostesses!--but

I do not like trespassing on private hospitality. (Waves his

hand.) Good-bye to you all! (Goes to the door, but turns back.)

Oh, by the way--John--Mr. Rosmer--will you do your former tutor a

service for old friendship's sake?

Rosmer. With the greatest of pleasure.

Brendel. Good. Well, then, lend me--just for a day or two--a

starched shirt.

Rosmer. Nothing more than that!

Brendel. Because, you see, I am travelling on foot--on this

occasion. My trunk is being sent after me.

Rosmer. Quite so. But, in that case, isn't there anything else?

Brendel. Well, I will tell you what--perhaps you have an old,

worn-out summer coat that you could spare?

Rosmer. Certainly I have.

Brendel. And if there happened to be a pair of presentable shoes

that would go with the coat

Rosmer. I am sure we can manage that, too. As soon as you let us

know your address, we will send the things to you.

Brendel. Please don't think of it! No one must be put to any

inconvenience on my account! I will take the trifles with me.

Rosmer. Very well. Will you come upstairs with me, then?

Rebecca. Let me go. Mrs. Helseth and I will see about it.

Brendel. I could never think of allowing this charming lady--

Rebecca. Nonsense! Come along, Mr. Brendel. (She goes out by the

door on the right.)

Rosmer (holding BRENDEL back). Tell me--is there no other way I

can be of service to you?

Brendel. I am sure I do not know of any. Yes, perdition seize

it!--now that I come to think of it--John, do you happen to have

seven or eight shillings on you?

Rosmer. I will see. (Opens his purse.) I have two half-sovereigns


Brendel. Oh, well, never mind. I may as well take them. I can

always get change in town. Thanks, in the meantime. Remember that

it was two half-sovereigns I had. Good-night, my own dear boy!

Good-night to you, sir! (Goes out by the door on the right,

where ROSMER takes leave of him and shuts the door after him.)

Kroll. Good heavens--and that is the Ulrik Brendel of whom people

once thought that he would do great things!

Rosmer. At all events he has had the courage to live his life in

his own way. I do not think that is such a small thing, after


Kroll. What? A life like his? I almost believe he would have the

power, even now, to disturb all your ideas.

Rosmer. No, indeed. I have come to a clear understanding with

myself now, upon all points.

Kroll. I wish I could believe it, my dear Rosmer. You are so

dreadfully susceptible to impressions from without.

Rosmer. Let us sit down. I want to have a talk with you.

Kroll. By all means. (They sit down on the couch.)

Rosmer (after a short pause). Don't you think everything here

looks very pleasant and comfortable?

Kroll. Yes, it looks very pleasant and comfortable now--and

peaceful. You have made yourself a real home, Rosmer. And I have

lost mine.

Rosmer. My dear fellow, do not say that. There may seem to be a

rift just now, but it will heal again.

Kroll. Never, never. The sting will always remain. Things can

never be as they were before.

Rosmer. I want to ask you something, Kroll. You and I have been

the closest of friends now for so many years--does it seem to you

conceivable that anything could destroy our friendship?

Kroll. I cannot imagine anything that could cause a breach

between us. What has put that into your head?

Rosmer. Well--your attaching such tremendous importance to

similarity of opinions and views.

Kroll. Certainly I do; but then we two hold pretty similar

opinions at all events on the most essential points.

Rosmer (gently). No. Not any longer.

Kroll (trying to jump up from his seat). What is this?

Rosmer (restraining him). No, you must sit still. Please, Kroll.

Kroll. What does it all mean? I do not understand you. Tell me,

straight out!

Rosmer. A new summer has blossomed in my heart--my eyes have

regained the clearness of youth. And, accordingly, I am now

standing where--

Kroll. Where? Where are you standing?

Rosmer. Where your children are standing.

Kroll. You? You! The thing is impossible! Where do you say you

are standing?

Rosmer. On the same side as Laurits and Hilda.

Kroll (letting his head drop). An apostate. John Rosmer an


Rosmer. What you are calling apostasy ought to have made me feel

sincerely happy and fortunate; but for all that I have suffered

keenly, because I knew quite well it would cause you bitter


Kroll. Rosmer, Rosmer, I shall never get over this. (Looks at him

sadly.) To think that you, too, could bring yourself to

sympathise with and join in the work of disorder and ruin that is

playing havoc with our unhappy country.

Rosmer. It is the work of emancipation that I sympathise with.

Kroll. Oh yes, I know all about that. That is what it is called,

by both those who are leading the people astray and by their

misguided victims. But, be sure of this--you need expect no

emancipation to be the result of the spirit that relies on the

poisoning of the whole of our social life.

Rosmer. I do not give my allegiance to the spirit that is

directing this, nor to any of those who are leading the fight. I

want to try to bring men of all shades of opinion together--as

many as I can reach--and bind them as closely together as I can.

I want to live for and devote all the strength that is in me to

one end only--to create a real public opinion in the country.

Kroll. So you do not consider that we have sufficient public

opinion! I, for my part, consider that the whole lot of us are on

the high road to be dragged down into the mire where otherwise

only the common people would be wallowing.

Rosmer. It is just for that reason that I have made up my mind as

to what should be the real task of public opinion.

Kroll. What task?

Rosmer. The task of making all our fellow-countrymen into men of


Kroll. All our fellow-countrymen--!

Rosmer. As many as possible, at all events.

Kroll. By what means?

Rosmer. By emancipating their ideas and purifying their

aspirations, it seems to me.

Kroll. You are a dreamer, Rosmer. Are you going to emancipate

them? Are you going to purify them?

Rosmer. No, my dear fellow--I can only try to awake the desire for

it in them. The doing of it rests with themselves.

Kroll. And do you think they are capable of it?

Rosmer. Yes.

Kroll. Of their own power?

Rosmer. Yes, of their own power. There is no other that can do


Kroll (getting up). Is that speaking as befits a clergyman?

Rosmer. I am a clergyman no longer.

Kroll. Yes, but--what of the faith you were brought up in?

Rosmer. I have it no longer.

Kroll. You have it no longer?

Rosmer (getting up). I have given it up. I had to give it up,


Kroll (controlling his emotion). I see. Yes, yes. The one thing

implies the other. Was that the reason, then, why you left the

service of the Church?

Rosmer. Yes. When my mind was clearly made up--when I felt the

certainty that it Was not merely a transitory temptation, but

that it was something that I would neither have the power nor

the desire to dismiss from my mind--then I took that step.

Kroll. So it has been fermenting in your mind as long as that.

And we--your friends--have never been allowed to know anything of

it. Rosmer, Rosmer--how could you hide the sorrowful truth from


Rosmer. Because I considered it was a matter that only concerned

myself; and therefore I did not wish to cause you and my other

friends any unnecessary pain. I thought I should be able to live

my life here as I have done hitherto--peacefully and happily. I

wanted to read, and absorb myself in all the works that so far

had been sealed books to me--to familiarise myself thoroughly with

the great world of truth and freedom that has been disclosed to

me now.

Kroll. An apostate. Every word you say bears witness to that.

But, for all that, why have you made this confession of your

secret apostasy? Or why just at the present moment?

Rosmer. You yourself have compelled me to it, Kroll.

Kroll. I? I have compelled you?

Rosmer. When I heard of your violent behaviour at public

meetings--when I read the reports of all the vehement speeches you

made there of all your bitter attacks upon those that were on the

other side--your scornful censure of your opponents--oh, Kroll, to

think that you--you--could be the man to do that!--then my eyes were

opened to my imperative duty. Mankind is suffering from the

strife that is going on now, and we ought to bring peace and

happiness and a spirit of reconciliation into their souls. That

is why I step forward now and confess myself openly for what I

am--and, besides, I want to put my powers to the test, as well as

others. Could not you--from your side--go with me in that, Kroll?

Kroll. Never, as long as I live, will I make any alliance with

the forces of disorder in the community.

Rosmer. Well, let us at least fight with honourable weapons,

since it seems we must fight.

Kroll. I can have nothing more to do with any one who does not

think with me on matters of vital importance, and I owe such a

man no consideration.

Rosmer. Does that apply even to me?

Kroll. You yourself have broken with me, Rosmer.

Rosmer. But does this really mean a breach between us?

Kroll. Between us! It is a breach with all those who have

hitherto stood shoulder to shoulder with you. And now you must

take the consequences.

(REBECCA comes in from the room on the right and opens the door


Rebecca. Well, that is done! We have started him off on the road

to his great sacrifice, and now we can go in to supper. Will you

come in, Mr. Kroll?

Kroll (taking his hat). Good-night, Miss West. This is no longer

any place for me.

Rebecca (excitedly). What do you mean? (Shuts the door and comes

nearer to the two men.) Have you told him--?

Rosmer. He knows now.

Kroll. We shall not let you slip out of our hands, Rosmer. We

shall compel you to come back to us again.

Rosmer. I shall never find myself there any more.

Kroll. We shall see. You are not the man to endure standing


Rosmer. I am not so entirely alone, even now. There are two of us

to bear the solitude together here.

Kroll. Ah! (A suspicion appears to cross his mind.) That too!

Beata's words!

Rosmer. Beata's?

Kroll (dismissing the thought from his mind). No, no--that was

odious of me. Forgive me.

Rosmer. What? What do you mean?

Kroll. Think no more about it. I am ashamed of it. Forgive me--and

good-bye. (Goes out by the door to the hall.)

Rosmer (following him). Kroll! We cannot end everything between

us like this. I will come and see you to-morrow.

Kroll (turning round in the hall). You shall not set your foot in

my house. (Takes his stick and goes.)

ROSMER stands for a while at the open door; then shuts it and

comes back into the room.)

Rosmer. That does not matter, Rebecca. We shall be able to go

through with it, for all that--we two trusty friends--you and I.

Rebecca. What do you suppose he meant just now when he said he

was ashamed of himself?

Rosmer. My dear girl, don't bother your head about that. He

didn't even believe what he meant, himself. But I will go and see

him tomorrow. Goodnight!

Rebecca. Are you going up so early to-night--after this?

Rosmer. As early to-night as I usually do. I feel such a sense of

relief now that it is over. You see, my dear Rebecca, I am

perfectly calm--so you take it calmly, too. Good-night.

Rebecca. Good-night, dear friend--and sleep well! (ROSMER goes out

by the door to the lobby; then his footsteps are heard as he goes

upstairs. REBECCA goes to the wall and rings a bell, which is

answered by MRS. HELSETH.) You can clear the table again, Mrs.

Helseth. Mr. Rosmer does not want anything, and Mr. Kroll has

gone home.

Mrs. Helseth. Gone home? What was wrong with him, miss?

Rebecca (taking up her crochet-work). He prophesied that there

was a heavy storm brewing--

Mrs. Helseth. That is very strange, miss, because there isn't a

scrap of cloud in the sky.

Rebecca. Let us hope he doesn't meet the White Horse. Because I

am afraid it will not be long before we hear something of the

family ghost.

Mrs. Helseth. God forgive you, miss--don't talk of such a dreadful


Rebecca. Oh, come, come!

Mrs. Helseth (lowering her voice). Do you really think, miss,

that some one here is to go soon?

Rebecca. Not a bit of it. But there are so many sorts of white

horses in this world, Mrs. Helseth--Well, good-night. I shall go

to my room now.

Mrs. Helseth. Good-night, miss. (Rebecca takes her work and goes

out to the right. MRS. HELSETH shakes her head, as she turns down

the lamp, and mutters to herself): Lord--Lord!--how queer Miss West

does talk sometimes!


(SCENE. ROSMER'S study. The door into it is in the left-hand

wall. At the back of the room is a doorway with a curtain drawn

back from it, leading to his bedroom. On the right, a window, in

front of which is a writing-table strewn with books and papers.

Bookshelves and cupboards on the walls. Homely furniture. On the

left, an old-fashioned sofa with a table in front of it. ROSMER,

wearing a smoking-jacket, is sitting at the writing-table on a

high-backed chair. He is cutting and turning over the leaves of a

magazine, and dipping into it here and there. A knock is heard at

the door on the left.)

Rosmer (without turning round). Come in.

(REBECCA comes in, wearing a morning wrapper.)

Rebecca. Good morning.

Rosmer (still turning over the leaves of his book). Good morning,

dear. Do you want anything?

Rebecca. Only to ask if you have slept well?

Rosmer. I went to sleep feeling so secure and happy. I did not

even dream. (Turns round.) And you?

Rebecca. Thanks, I got to sleep in the early morning.

Rosmer. I do not think I have felt so light-hearted for a long

time as I do to-day. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to

say what I did.

Rebecca. Yes, you should not have been silent so long, John.

Rosmer. I cannot understand how I came to be such a coward.

Rebecca. I am sure it was not really from cowardice.

Rosmer. Yes, indeed. I can see that at bottom there was some

cowardice about it.

Rebecca. So much the braver of you to face it as you did. (Sits

down beside him on a chair by the writing-table.) But now I want

to confess something that I have done--something that you must not

be vexed with me about.

Rosmer. Vexed? My dear girl, how can you think--?

Rebecca. Yes, because I dare say it was a little presumptuous of

me, but--

Rosmer. Well, let me hear what it was.

Rebecca. Last night, when that Ulrick Brendel was going, I wrote

him a line or two to take to Mortensgaard.

Rosmer (a little doubtfully). But, my dear Rebecca--What did you

write, then?

Rebecca. I wrote that he would be doing you a service if he

would interest himself a little in that unfortunate man, and help

him in any way he could.

Rosmer. My dear, you should not have done that. You have only

done Brendel harm by doing so. And besides, Mortensgaard is a

man I particularly wish to have nothing to do with. You know I

have been at loggerheads once with him already.

Rebecca. But do you not think that now it might be a very good

thing if you got on to good terms with him again?

Rosmer. I? With Mortensgaard? For what reason, do you mean?

Rebecca. Well, because you cannot feel altogether secure now--

since this has come between you and your friends.

Rosmer (looking at her and shaking his head). Is it possible that

you think either Kroll or any of the others would take a revenge

on me--that they could be capable of--

Rebecca. In their first heat of indignation dear. No one can be

certain of that. I think, after the way Mr. Kroll took it--

Rosmer. Oh, you ought to know him better than that. Kroll is an

honourable man, through and through. I will go into town this

afternoon, and have a talk with him. I will have a talk with them

all. Oh, you will see how smoothly everything will go. (MRS.

HELSETH comes in by the door on the left.)

Rebecca (getting up). What is it, Mrs. Helseth?

Mrs. Helseth. Mr. Kroll is downstairs in the hall, miss.

Rosmer (getting up quickly). Kroll!

Rebecca. Mr. Kroll! What a surprise!

Mrs. Helseth. He asks if he may come up and speak to Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer (to REBECCA). What did I say! (To MRS. HELSETH). Of course

he may. (Goes to the door and calls down the stairs.) Come up, my

dear fellow! I am delighted to see you! (He stands holding the

door open. MRS. HELSETH goes out. REBECCA draws the curtain over

the doorway at the back, and then begins to tidy the room. KROLL

comes in with his hat in his hand.)

Rosmer (quietly, and with some emotion). I knew quite well it

would not be the last time--

Kroll. To-day I see the matter in quite a different light from


Rosmer. Of course you do, Kroll! Of course you do! You have been

thinking things over--

Kroll. You misunderstand me altogether. (Puts his hat down on the

table.) It is important that I should speak to you alone.

Rosmer. Why may not Miss West--?

Rebecca. No, no, Mr. Rosmer. I will go.

Kroll (looking meaningly at her). And I see I ought to apologise

to you, Miss West, for coming here so early in the morning. I see

I have taken you by surprise, before you have had time to--

Rebecca (with a start). Why so? Do you find anything out of place

in the fact of my wearing a morning wrapper at home here?

Kroll. By no means! Besides, I have no knowledge of what customs

may have grown up at Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Kroll, you are not the least like yourself to-day.

Rebecca. I will wish you good morning, Mr. Kroll. (Goes out

to the left.)

Kroll. If. you will allow me-- (Sits down on the couch.)

Rosmer. Yes, my dear fellow, let us make ourselves comfortable

and have a confidential talk. (Sits down on a chair facing


Kroll. I have not been able to close an eye since yesterday. I

lay all night, thinking and thinking.

Rosmer. And what have you got to say to-day?

Kroll. It will take me some time, Rosmer. Let me begin with a

sort of introduction. I can give you some news of Ulrick Brendel.

Rosmer. Has he been to see you?

Kroll. No. He took up his quarters in a low-class tavern--in the

lowest kind of company, of course; drank, and stood drinks to

others, as long as he had any money left; and then began to abuse

the whole lot of them as a contemptible rabble--and, indeed, as

far as that goes he was quite right. But the result was, that he

got a thrashing and was thrown out into the gutter.

Rosmer. I see he is altogether incorrigible.

Kroll. He had pawned the coat you gave him, too, but that is

going to be redeemed for him. Can you guess by whom?

Rosmer. By yourself, perhaps?

Kroll. No. By our noble friend Mr. Mortensgaard.

Rosmer. Is that so?

Kroll. I am informed that Mr. Brendel's first visit was paid to

the "idiot" and  "plebeian".

Rosmer. Well, it was very lucky for him--

Kroll. Indeed it was. (Leans over the table, towards ROSMER.) Now

I am coming to a matter of which, for the sake of our old--our

former--friendship, it is my duty to warn you.

Rosmer. My dear fellow, what is that?

Kroll. It is this; that certain games are going on behind your

back in this house.

Rosmer. How can you think that? Is it Rebec--is it Miss West you

are alluding to?

Kroll. Precisely. And I can quite understand it on her part; she

has been accustomed, for such a long time now, to do as she likes

here. But nevertheless--

Rosmer. My dear Kroll, you are absolutely mistaken. She and I

have no secrets from one another about anything whatever.

Kroll. Then has she confessed to you that she has been

corresponding with the editor of the "Searchlight"?

Rosmer. Oh, you mean the couple of lines she wrote to him on

Ulrik Brendel's behalf?

Kroll. You have found that out, then? And do you approve of her

being on terms of this sort with that scurrilous hack, who almost

every week tries to pillory me for my attitude in my school and

out of it?

Rosmer. My dear fellow, I don't suppose that side of the question

has ever occurred to her. And in any case, of course she has

entire freedom of action, just as I have myself.

Kroll. Indeed? Well, I suppose that is quite in accordance with

the new turn your views have taken--because I suppose Miss West

looks at things from the same standpoint as you?

Rosmer. She does. We two have worked our way forward in complete


Kroll (looking at him and shaking his head slowly). Oh, you

blind, deluded man!

Rosmer. I? What makes you say that?

Kroll. Because I dare not--I WILL not--think the worst. No, no, let

me finish what I want to say. Am I to believe that you really

prize my friendship, Rosmer? And my respect, too? Do you?

Rosmer. Surely I need not answer that question.

Kroll. Well, but there are other things that require answering--

that require full explanation on your part. Will you submit to it

if I hold a sort of inquiry--?

Rosmer. An inquiry?

Kroll. Yes, if I ask you questions about one or two things that

it may be painful for you to recall to mind. For instance, the

matter of your apostasy--well, your emancipation, if you choose to

call it so--is bound up with so much else for which, for your own

sake, you ought to account to me.

Rosmer. My dear fellow, ask me about anything you please. I have

nothing to conceal.

Kroll. Well, then, tell me this--what do you yourself believe was

the real reason of Beata's making away with herself?

Rosmer. Can you have any doubt? Or perhaps I should rather say,

need one look for reasons for what an unhappy sick woman, who is

unaccountable for her actions, may do?

Kroll. Are you certain that Beata was so entirely unaccountable

for her actions? The doctors, at all events, did not consider

that so absolutely certain.

Rosmer. If the doctors had ever seen her in the state in which I

have so often seen her, both night and day, they would have had

no doubt about it.

Kroll. I did not doubt it either, at the time.

Rosmer. Of course not. It was impossible to doubt it,

unfortunately. You remember what I told you of her ungovernable,

wild fits of passion--which she expected me to reciprocate. She

terrified me! And think how she tortured herself with baseless

self-reproaches in the last years of her life!

Kroll. Yes, when she knew that she would always be childless.

Rosmer. Well, think what it meant--to be perpetually in the

clutches of such--agony of mind over a thing that she was not in

the slightest degree responsible for--! Are you going to suggest

that she was accountable for her actions?

Kroll. Hm!--Do you remember whether at that time you had, in the

house any books dealing with the purport of marriage--according to

the advanced views of to-day?

Rosmer. I remember Miss West's lending me a work of the kind. She

inherited Dr. West's library, you know. But, my dear Kroll, you

surely do not suppose that we were so imprudent as to let the

poor sick creature get wind of any such ideas? I can solemnly

swear that we were in no way to blame. It was the overwrought

nerves of her own brain that were responsible for these frantic


Kroll. There is one thing, at any rate, that I can tell you now,

and that is that your poor tortured and overwrought Beata put an

end to her own life in order that yours might be happy--and that

you might be free to live as you pleased.

Rosmer (starting half up from his chair). What do you mean by


Kroll. You must listen to me quietly, Rosmer--because now I can

speak of it. During the last year of her life she came twice to

see me, to tell me what she suffered from her fears and her


Rosmer. On that point?

Kroll. No. The first time she came she declared that you were on

the high road to apostasy--that you were going to desert the faith

that your father had taught you.

Rosmer (eagerly). What you say is impossible, Kroll!--absolutely

impossible! You must be wrong about that.

Kroll. Why?

Rosmer. Because as long as Beata lived I was still doubting and

fighting with myself. And I fought out that fight alone and in

the completest secrecy. I do not imagine that even Rebecca--

Kroll. Rebecca?

Rosmer. Oh, well--Miss West. I call her Rebecca for the sake of


Kroll. So I have observed.

Rosmer. That is why it is so incomprehensible to me that Beata

should have had any suspicion of it. Why did she never speak to

me about it?--for she never did, by a single word.

Kroll. Poor soul--she begged and implored me to speak to you.

Rosmer. Then why did you never do so?

Kroll. Do you think I had a moment's doubt, at that time, that

her mind was unhinged? Such an accusation as that, against a man

like you! Well, she came to see me again, about a month later.

She seemed calmer then; but, as she was going away, she said:

"They may expect to see the White Horse soon at Rosmersholm."

Rosmer. Yes, I know--the White Horse. She often used to talk about


Kroll. And then, when I tried to distract her from such unhappy

thoughts, she only answered: "I have not much time left; for

John must marry Rebecca immediately now."

Rosmer (almost speechless). What are you saying! I marry--!

Kroll. That was on a Thursday afternoon. On the Saturday evening

she threw herself from the footbridge into the millrace.

Rosmer. And you never warned us!

Kroll. Well, you know yourself how constantly she used to say

that she was sure she would die before long.

Rosmer. Yes, I know. But, all the same, you ought to have warned


Kroll. I did think of doing so. But then it was too late.

Rosmer. But since then, why have you not--? Why have you kept all

this to yourself?

Kroll. What good would it have done for me to come here and add

to your pain and distress? Of course I thought the whole thing

was merely wild, empty fancy--until yesterday evening.

Rosmer. Then you do not think so any longer?

Kroll. Did not Beata see clearly enough, when she saw that you

were going to fall away from your childhood's faith?

Rosmer (staring in front of him). Yes, I cannot understand that.

It is the most incomprehensible thing in the world to me.

Kroll. Incomprehensible or not, the thing is true. And now I ask

you, Rosmer, how much truth is there in her other accusation?--the

last one, I mean.

Rosmer. Accusation? Was that an accusation, then?

Kroll. Perhaps you did not notice how it was worded. She said she

meant to stand out of the way. Why? Well?

Rosmer. In order that I might marry Rebecca, apparently.

Kroll. That was not quite how it was worded. Beata expressed

herself differently. She said "I have not much time left; for

John must marry Rebecca IMMEDIATELY now."

Rosmer (looks at him for a moment; then gets up). Now I

understand you, Kroll.

Kroll. And if you do? What answer have you to make?

Rosmer (in an even voice, controlling himself). To such an

unheard-of--? The only fitting answer would be to point to the


Kroll (getting up). Very good.

Rosmer (standing face to face with him). Listen to me. For

considerably more than a year to be precise, since Beata's death--

Rebecca West and I have lived here alone at Rosmersholm. All that

time you have known of the charge Beata made against us; but I

have never for one moment seen you appear the least scandalised

at our living together here.

Kroll. I never knew, till yesterday evening, that it was a case

of an apostate man and an "emancipated" woman living together.

Rosmer. Ah! So then you do not believe in any purity of life

among apostates or emancipated folk? You do not believe that they

may have the instinct of morality ingrained in their natures?

Kroll. I have no particular confidence in the kind of morality

that is not rooted in the Church's faith.

Rosmer. And you mean that to apply to Rebecca and myself?--to my

relations with Rebecca?

Kroll. I cannot make any departure, in favour of you two, from my

opinion that there is certainly no very wide gulf between free

thinking and--ahem!

Rosmer. And what?

Kroll. And free love, since you force me to say it.

Rosmer (gently). And you are not ashamed to say that to me!--you,

who have known me ever since I was a boy.

Kroll. It is just for that reason. I know how easily you allow

yourself to be influenced by those you associate with. And as for

your Rebecca--well, your Miss West, then--to tell the truth, we

know very little about her. To cut the matter short, Rosmer--I am

not going to give you up. And you, on your part, ought to try and

save yourself in time.

Rosmer. Save myself? How--? (MRS. HELSETH looks in through the

door on the left.) What do you want?

Mrs. Helseth. I wanted to ask Miss West to come down, sir.

Rosmer. Miss West is not up here.

Mrs. Helseth. Indeed, sir? (Looks round the room.) That is very

strange. (Goes out.)

Rosmer. You were saying--?

Kroll. Listen to me. As to what may have gone on here in secret

while Beata was alive, and as to what may be still going on here,

I have no wish to inquire more closely. You were, of course,

extremely unhappy in your marriage--and to some extent that may be

urged in your excuse--

Rosmer. Oh, how little you really know me!

Kroll. Do not interrupt me. What I want to say is this. If you

definitely must continue living with Miss West, it is absolutely

necessary that you should conceal the revolution of opinion--I

mean the distressing apostasy--that she has beguiled you into. Let

me speak! Let me speak! I say that, if you are determined to go

on with this folly, for heaven's sake hold any variety of ideas

or opinions or beliefs you like--but keep your opinions to

yourself. It is a purely personal matter, and there is not the

slightest necessity to go proclaiming it all over the


Rosmer. It is a necessity for me to abandon a false and equivocal


Kroll. But you have a duty towards the traditions of your family,

Rosmer! Remember that! From time immemorial Rosmersholm has been

a stronghold of discipline and order, of respect and esteem for

all that the best people in our community have upheld and

sanctioned. The whole neighbourhood has taken its

tone from Rosmersholm. If the report gets about that you

yourself have broken with what I may call the Rosmer family

tradition, it will evoke an irreparable

state of unrest.

Rosmer. My dear Kroll, I cannot see the matter in that light. It

seems to me that it is my imperative duty to bring a little light

and happiness into the place where the race of Rosmers has spread

darkness and oppression for all these long years.

Kroll (looking severely at him). Yes, that would be a worthy

action for the man with whom the race will disappear. Let such

things alone, my friend. It is no suitable task for you. You were

meant to lead the peaceful life of a student.

Rosmer. Yes, that may be so. But nevertheless I want to try and

play my humble part in the struggles of life.

Kroll. The struggles of life! Do you know what that will mean for

you? It will mean war to the death with all your friends.

Rosmer (quietly). I do not imagine they are all such fanatics as


Kroll. You are a simple-minded creature, Rosmer--an inexperienced

creature. You have no suspicion of the violence of the storm that

will burst upon you. (MRS. HELSETH slightly opens the door on the


Mrs. Helseth. Miss West wishes me to ask you, sir

Rosmer. What is it?

Mrs. Helseth. There is some one downstairs that wishes to speak

to you for a minute, sir.

Rosmer. Is it the gentleman that was here yesterday afternoon, by

any chance?

Mrs. Helseth. No, it is that Mr. Mortensgaard.

Rosmer. Mortensgaard?

Kroll. Aha! So matters have got as far as that already, have


Rosmer. What does he want with me? Why did you not send him away


Mrs. Helseth. Miss West told me to ask you if he might come up.

Rosmer. Tell him I am engaged, and--

Kroll (to MRS. HELSETH). No; show him up, please. (MRS. HELSETH

goes out. KROLL takes up his hat.) I quit the field--temporarily.

But we have not fought the decisive action yet.

Rosmer. As truly as I stand here, Kroll, I have absolutely

nothing to do with Mortensgaard.

Kroll. I do not believe you any longer on any point. Under no

circumstances shall I have any faith in you after this. It is war

to the knife now. We shall try if we cannot make you powerless to

do any harm.

Rosmer. Oh, Kroll--how you have sunk! How low you have sunk!

Kroll. I? And a man like you has the face to say so? Remember


Rosmer. Are you harking back to that again!

Kroll. No. You must solve the riddle of the millrace as your

conscience will allow you--if you have any conscience still left.

(PETER MORTENSGAARD comes in softly and quietly, by the door on

the left. He is a short, slightly built man with sparse reddish

hair and beard. KROLL gives him a look of hatred.) The

"Searchlight" too, I see. Lighted at Rosmersholm! (Buttons up his

coat.) That leaves me no doubt as to the course I should steer.

Mortensgaard (quietly). The "Searchlight" will always be ready

burning to light Mr. Kroll home.

Kroll. Yes, you have shown me your goodwill for a long time. To

be sure there is a Commandment that forbids us to bear false

witness against our neighbour--

Mortensgaard. Mr. Kroll has no need to instruct me in the


Kroll. Not even in the sixth?

Rosmer. Kroll--!

Mortensgaard. If I needed such instruction, Mr. Rosmer is the

most suitable person to give it me.

Kroll (with scarcely concealed scorn). Mr. Rosmer? Oh yes, the

Reverend Mr. Rosmer is undoubtedly the most suitable man for

that! I hope you will enjoy yourselves, gentlemen. (Goes out and

slams the door after him.)

Rosmer (stands looking at the door, and says to himself). Yes,

yes--it had to be so. (Turns round.) Will you tell me, Mr.

Mortensgaard, what has brought you out here to see me?

Mortensgaard. It was really Miss West I wanted to see. I thought

I ought to thank her for the kind letter I received from her


Rosmer. I know she has written to you. Have you had a talk with


Mortensgaard. Yes, a little. (Smiles slightly.) I hear that there

has been a change of views in certain respects at Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. My views have changed to a very considerable extent; I

might almost say entirely.

Mortensgaard. That is what Miss West said. And that was why she

thought I ought to come up and have a little chat with you about


Rosmer. About what, Mr. Mortensgaard?

Mortensgaard. May I have your permission to announce in the

"Searchlight" that you have altered your opinions, and are going

to devote yourself to the cause of free thought and progress?

Rosmer. By all means. I will go so far as to ask you to make the


Mortensgaard. Then it shall appear to-morrow. It will be a great

and weighty piece of news that the Reverend Mr. Rosmer of

Rosmersholm has made up his mind to join the forces of light in

that direction too.

Rosmer. I do not quite understand you.

Mortensgaard. What I mean is that it implies the gain of strong

moral support for our party every time we win over an earnest,

Christian-minded adherent.

Rosmer (with some astonishment). Then you don't know--? Did Miss

West not tell you that as well?

Mortensgaard. What, Mr. Rosmer? Miss West was in a considerable

hurry. She told me to come up, and that I would hear the rest of

it from yourself.

Rosmer. Very well, then; let me tell you that I have cut myself

free entirely--on every side. I have now, no connection of any

kind with the tenets of the Church. For the future such matters

have not the smallest signification for me.

Mortensgaard (looking at him in perplexity). Well, if the moon

had fallen down from the sky, I could not be more--! To think that

I should ever hear you yourself renounce--!

Rosmer. Yes, I stand now where you have stood for a long time.

You can announce that in the "Searchlight" to-morrow too.

Mortensgaard. That, too? No, my dear Mr. Rosmer--you must excuse

me--but it is not worth touching on that side of the matter.

Rosmer. Not touch on it?

Mortensgaard. Not at first, I think.

Rosmer. But I do not understand--

Mortensgaard. Well, it is like this, Mr. Rosmer. You are not as

familiar with all the circumstances of the case as I am, I

expect. But if you, too, have joined the forces of freedom--and if

you, as Miss West says you do, mean to take part in the movement--

I conclude you do so with the desire to be as useful to the

movement as you possibly can, in practice as well as, in theory.

Rosmer. Yes, that is my most sincere wish.

Mortensgaard. Very well. But I must impress on you, Mr. Rosmer,

that if you come forward openly with this news about your

defection from the Church, you will tie your own hands


Rosmer. Do you think so?

Mortensgaard. Yes, you may be certain that there is not much that

you would be able to do hereabouts. And besides, Mr. Rosmer, we

have quite enough freethinkers already--indeed, I was going to say

we have too many of those gentry. What the party needs is a

Christian element--something that every one must respect. That is

what we want badly. And for that reason it is most advisable that

you should hold your tongue about any matters that do not concern

the public. That is my opinion.

Rosmer. I see. Then you would not risk having anything to do with

me if I were to confess my apostasy openly?

Mortensgaard (shaking his head). I should not like to, Mr.

Rosmer. Lately I have made it a rule never to support anybody or

anything that is opposed to the interests of the Church.

Rosmer. Have you, then, entered the fold of the Church again


Mortensgaard. That is another matter altogether.

Rosmer. Oh, that is how it is. Yes, I understand you now.

Mortensgaard. Mr. Rosmer--you ought to remember that I, of all

people, have not absolute freedom of action.

Rosmer. What hampers you?

Mortensgaard. What hampers me is that I am a marked man.

Rosmer. Ah--of course.

Mortensgaard. A marked man, Mr. Rosmer. And you, of all people,

ought to remember that--because you were responsible, more than

any one else, for my being branded.

Rosmer. If I had stood then where I stand now, I should have

handled the affair more judiciously.

Mortensgaard. I think so too. But it is too late now; you have

branded me, once for all--branded me for life. I do not suppose

you can fully realise what such a thing means. But it is possible

that you may soon feel the smart of it yourself now, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. I?

Mortensgaard. Yes. You surely do not suppose that Mr. Kroll and

his gang will be inclined to forgive a rupture such as yours? And

the "County News" is going to be pretty bloodthirsty, I hear. It

may very well come to pass that you will be a marked man, too.

Rosmer. On personal grounds, Mr. Mortensgaard, I feel myself to

be invulnerable. My conduct does not offer any point of attack.

Mortensgaard (with a quiet smile). That is saying a good deal,

Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. Perhaps it is. But I have the right to say as much.

Mortensgaard. Even if you were inclined to overhaul your conduct

as thoroughly as you once overhauled mine?

Rosmer. You say that very strangely. What are you driving at?--is

it anything definite?

Mortensgaard. Yes, there is one definite thing--no more than a

single one. But it might be quite awkward enough if malicious

opponents got a hint of it.

Rosmer. Will you have the kindness to tell me what on earth it


Mortensgaard. Can you not guess, Mr. Rosmer?

Rosmer. No, not for a moment.

Mortensgaard. All right. I must come out with it, then. I have in

my possession a remarkable letter, that was written here at


Rosmer. Miss West's letter, you mean? Is it so remarkable?

Mortensgaard. No, that letter is not remarkable. But I received a

letter from this house on another occasion.

Rosmer. From Miss West?

Mortensgaard. No, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. Well, from whom, then? From whom?

Mortensgaard. From your late wife.

Rosmer. From my wife? You had a letter from my wife?

Mortensgaard. Yes, I did.

Rosmer. When?

Mortensgaard. It was during the poor lady's last days. It must be

about a year and a half ago now. And that is the letter that is

so remarkable.

Rosmer. Surely you know that my wife's mind was affected at that


Mortensgaard. I know there were a great many people who thought

so. But, in my opinion, no one would have imagined anything of

the kind from the letter. When I say the letter is a remarkable

one, I mean remarkable in quite another way.

Rosmer. And what in the world did my poor wife find to write to

you about?

Mortensgaard. I have the letter at home. It begins more or less

to the effect that she is living in perpetual terror and dread,

because of the fact that there are so many evilly disposed people

about her whose only desire is to do you harm and mischief.

Rosmer. Me?

Mortensgaard. Yes, so she says. And then follows the most

remarkable part of it all. Shall I tell you, Mr. Rosmer?

Rosmer. Of course! Tell me everything, without any reserve.

Mortensgaard. The poor lady begs and entreats me to be

magnanimous. She says that she knows it was you, who got me

dismissed from my post as schoolmaster, and implores me most

earnestly not to revenge myself upon you.

Rosmer. What way did she think you could revenge yourself, then?

Mortensgaard. The letter goes on to say that if I should hear

that anything sinful was going on at Rosmersholm, I was not to

believe a word of it; that it would be only the work of wicked

folk who were spreading the rumours on purpose to do you harm.

Rosmer. Does the letter say that?

Mortensgaard. You may read it at your convenience, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. But I cannot understand--? What did she imagine there

could be any wicked rumours about?

Mortensgaard. In the first place, that you had broken away from

the faith of your childhood. Mrs. Rosmer denied that absolutely--

at that time. And, in the next place--ahem !

Rosmer. In the next place?

Mortensgaard. Well, in the next place she writes--though rather

confusedly--that she has no knowledge of any sinful relations

existing at Rosmersholm; that she has never been wronged in any

way; and that if any rumours of that sort should get about, she

entreats me not to allude to them in the "Searchlight".

Rosmer. Does she mention any names?

Mortensgaard. No.

Rosmer. Who brought you the letter?

Mortensgaard. I promised not to tell that. It was brought to me

one evening after dark.

Rosmer. If you had made inquiries at the time, you would have

learnt that my poor unhappy wife was not fully accountable for

her actions.

Mortensgaard. I did make inquiries, Mr. Rosmer; but I must say I

did not get exactly that impression.

Rosmer. Not?--But why have you chosen this moment to enlighten me

as to the existence of this old crazy letter?

Mortensgaard. With the object of advising you to be extremely

cautious, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. As to my way of life, do you mean?

Mortensgaard. Yes. You must remember that for the future you will

not be unassailable.

Rosmer. So you persist in thinking that I have something to

conceal here?

Mortensgaard. I do not see any reason why a man of emancipated

ideas should refrain from living his life as fully as possible.

Only, as I have already said, you should be cautious in future.

If rumours should get about of anything that offends people's

prejudices, you may be quite certain that the whole cause of

freedom of thought will suffer for it. Good-bye, Mr. Rosmer.

Rosmer. Good-bye.

Mortensgaard. I shall go straight to the printing-office now and

have the great piece of news inserted in the "Searchlight".

Rosmer. Put it all in.

Mortensgaard. I will put in as much as there is any need for the

public to know. (Bows, and goes out. ROSMER stands at the door,

while MORTENSGAARD goes downstairs. The front door is heard


Rosmer (still standing in the doorway, calls softly). Rebecca!

Reb--ahem! (Calls loudly.) Mrs. Helseth--is Miss West downstairs?

Mrs. Helseth (from below). No, sir, she is not here.

(The curtain at the end of the room is drawn back, disclosing

REBECCA standing in the doorway.)

Rebecca. John!

Rosmer (turning round). What! Were you in there, in my bedroom!

My dear, what were you doing there?

Rebecca (going up to him). I have been listening.

Rosmer. Rebecca! Could you do a thing like that?

Rebecca. Indeed I could. It was so horrid the way he said that--

about my morning wrapper.

Rosmer. Ah, so you were in there too when Kroll--?

Rebecca. Yes. I wanted to know what was at the bottom of his


Rosmer. You know I would have told you.

Rebecca. I scarcely think you would have told me everything--

certainly not in his own words.

Rosmer. Did you hear everything, then?

Rebecca. Most of it, I think. I had to go down for a moment when

Mortensgaard came.

Rosmer. And then came up again?

Rebecca. Do not take it ill of me, dear friend.

Rosmer. Do anything that you think right and proper. You have

full freedom of action.--But what do you say to it all, Rebecca?

Ah, I do not think I have ever stood so much in need of you as I

do to-day.

Rebecca. Surely both you and I have been prepared for what would

happen some day.

Rosmer. No, no--not for this.

Rebecca. Not for this?

Rosmer. It is true that I used to think that sooner or later our

beautiful pure friendship would come to be attacked by calumny

and suspicion--not on Kroll's part, for I never would have

believed such a thing of him--but on the part of the coarse-minded

and ignoble-eyed crowd. Yes, indeed; I had good reason enough for

so jealously drawing a veil of concealment over our compact. It

was a dangerous secret.

Rebecca. Why should we pay any heed to what all these other

people think? You and I know that we have nothing to reproach

ourselves with.

Rosmer. I? Nothing to reproach myself with? It is true enough

that I thought so until to-day. But now, now, Rebecca--

Rebecca. Yes? Now?

Rosmer. How am I to account to myself for Beata's horrible


Rebecca (impetuously). Oh, don't talk about Beata! Don't think

about Beata any more! She is dead, and you seemed at last to have

been able to get away from the thought of her.

Rosmer. Since I have learnt of this, it seems just as if she had

come to life again in some uncanny fashion.

Rebecca. Oh no--you must not say that, John! You must not!

Rosmer. I tell you it is so. We must try and get to the bottom of

it. How can she have strayed into such a woeful misunderstanding

of me?

Rebecca. Surely you too are not beginning to doubt that she was

very nearly insane?

Rosmer. Well, I cannot deny it is just of that fact that I feel I

cannot be so altogether certain any longer. And besides if it

were so--

Rebecca. If it were so? What then?

Rosmer. What I mean is--where are we to look for the actual cause

of her sick woman's fancies turning into insanity?

Rebecca. What good can it possibly do for you to indulge in such


Rosmer. I cannot do otherwise, Rebecca. I cannot let this doubt

go on gnawing at my heart, however unwilling I may be to face


Rebecca. But it may become a real danger to you to be perpetually

dwelling on this one lugubrious topic.

Rosmer (walking about restlessly and absorbed in the idea). I

must have betrayed myself in some way or other. She must have

noticed how happy I began to feel from the day you came to us.

Rebecca. Yes; but dear, even if that were so--

Rosmer. You may be sure she did not fail to notice that we read

the same books; that we sought one another's company, and

discussed every new topic together. But I cannot understand it--

because I was always so careful to spare her. When I look back,

it seems to me that I did everything I could to keep her apart

from our lives. Or did I not, Rebecca?

Rebecca. Yes, yes--undoubtedly you did.

Rosmer. And so did you, too. And notwithstanding that--! Oh, it is

horrible to think of! To think that here she was--with her

affection all distorted by illness --never saying a word--watching

us--noticing everything and--and--misconstruing everything.

Rebecca (wringing her hands). Oh, I never ought to have come to


Rosmer. Just think what she must have suffered in silence! Think

of all the horrible things her poor diseased brain must have led

her to believe about us and store up in her mind about us! Did

she never speak to you of anything that could give you any kind

of clue?

Rebecca (as if startled). To me! Do you suppose I should have

remained here a day longer, if she had?

Rosmer. No, no--that is obvious. What a fight she must have

fought--and fought alone, Rebecca! In despair, and all alone. And

then, in the end, the poignant misery of her victory--which was

also her accusation of us--in the mill-race! (Throws himself into

a chair, rests his elbows on the table, and hides his face in his


Rebecca (coming quietly up behind him). Listen to me, John. If it

were in your power to call Beata back--to you--to Rosmersholm--would

you do it?

Rosmer. How can I tell what I would do or what I would not do! I

have no thoughts for anything but the one thing which is


Rebecca. You ought to be beginning to live now, John. You were

beginning. You had freed yourself completely on all sides. You

were feeling so happy and so light--hearted

Rosmer. I know--that is true enough. And then comes this

overwhelming blow.

Rebecca (standing behind him, with her arms on the back of his

chair). How beautiful it was when we used to sit there downstairs

in the dusk--and helped each other to plan our lives out afresh.

You wanted to catch hold of actual life--the actual life of the

day, as you used to say. You wanted to pass from house to house

like a guest who brought emancipation with him--to win over men's

thoughts and wills to your own --to fashion noble men all around

you, in a wider and wider circle--noble men!

Rosmer. Noble men and happy men.

Rebecca. Yes, happy men.

Rosmer. Because it is happiness that gives the soul nobility,


Rebecca. Do you not think suffering too? The deepest suffering?

Rosmer. Yes, if one can win through it--conquer it--conquer it


Rebecca. That is what you must do.

Rosmer (shaking his head sadly). I shall never conquer this

completely. There will always be a doubt confronting me--a

question. I shall never again be able to lose myself in the

enjoyment of what makes life so wonderfully beautiful.

Rebecca (speaking over the back of his chair, softly). What do

you mean, John?

Rosmer (looking up at her). Calm and happy innocence.

Rebecca (taking a step backwards). Of course. Innocence. (A short


Rosmer (resting his head on his hands with his elbows on the

table, and looking straight in front of him). How ingeniously--how

systematically--she must have put one thing together with another!

First of all she begins to have a suspicion as to my orthodoxy.

How on earth did she get that idea in her mind? Any way, she did;

and the idea grew into a certainty. And then--then, of course, it

was easy for her to think everything else possible. (Sits up in

his chair and, runs his hands through his hair.) The wild fancies

I am haunted with! I shall never get quit of them. I am certain

of that--certain. They will always be starting up before me to

remind me of the dead.

Rebecca. Like the White Horse of Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Yes, like that. Rushing at me out of the dark--out of

the silence.

Rebecca. And, because of this morbid fancy of yours, you are

going to give up the hold you had just gained upon real life?

Rosmer. You are right, it seems hard--hard, Rebecca. But I have no

power of choice in the matter. How do you think I could ever get

the mastery over it?

Rebecca (standing behind his chair). By making new ties for


Rosmer (starts, and looks up). New ties?

Rebecca. Yes, new ties with the outside world. Live, work, do

something! Do not sit here musing and brooding over insoluble


Rosmer (getting up). New ties! (Walks across the room, turns at

the door and comes back again.) A question occurs to my mind. Has

it not occurred to you too, Rebecca?

Rebecca (catching her breath). Let me hear what it is.

Rosmer. What do you suppose will become of the tie between us,

after to-day?

Rebecca. I think surely our friendship can endure, come what may.

Rosmer. Yes, but that is not exactly what I meant. I was thinking

of what brought us together from the first, what links us so

closely to one another--our common belief in the possibility of a

man and a woman living together in chastity.

Rebecca. Yes, yes--what of it?

Rosmer. What I mean is--does not such a tie as that--such a tie as

ours--seem to belong properly to a life lived in quiet, happy


Rebecca. Well?

Rosmer. But now I see stretching before me a life of strife and

unrest and violent emotions. For I mean to live my life, Rebecca!

I am not going to let myself be beaten to the ground by the dread

of what may happen. I am not going to have my course of life

prescribed for me, either by any living soul or by another.

Rebecca. No, no--do not! Be a free man in everything, John!

Rosmer. Do you understand what is in my Mind, then? Do you not

know? Do you not see how I could best win my freedom from all

these harrowing memories from the whole sad past?

Rebecca. Tell me!

Rosmer. By setting up, in opposition to them, a new and living


Rebecca (feeling for the back of the chair). A living--? What do

you mean?

Rosmer (coming closer to her). Rebecca--suppose I asked you now--

will you be my second wife?

Rebecca (is speechless for a moment, then gives a cry of joy).

Your wife! Yours--! I!

Rosmer. Yes--let us try what that will do. We two shall be one.

There must no longer be any empty place left by the dead in this


Rebecca. I--in Beata's place--?

Rosmer. And then that chapter of my life will be closed--

completely closed, never to be reopened.

Rebecca (in a low, trembling voice). Do you think so, John?

Rosmer. It must be so! It must! I cannot--I will not--go through

life with a dead body on my back. Help me to throw it off,

Rebecca; and then let us stifle all memories in our sense of

freedom, in joy, in passion. You shall be to me the only wife I

have ever had.

Rebecca (controlling herself). Never speak of this, again. I will

never be your wife.

Rosmer. What! Never? Do you think, then, that you could not learn

to love me? Is not our friendship already tinged with love?

Rebecca (stopping her ears, as if in fear). Don't speak like

that, John! Don't say such things!

Rosmer (catching her by the arm). It is true! There is a growing

possibility in the tie that is between us. I can see that you

feel that, as well as I--do you not, Rebecca?

Rebecca (controlling herself completely). Listen. Let me tell you

this--if you persist in this, I shall leave Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Leave Rosmersholm! You! You cannot do that. It is


Rebecca. It is still more impossible for me to become your wife.

Never, as long as I live, can I be that.

Rosmer (looks at her in surprise). You say "can" --and you say it

so strangely. Why can you not?

Rebecca (taking both his hands in hers). Dear friend --for your

own sake, as well as for mine, do not ask me why. (Lets go of his

hands.) So, John. (Goes towards the door on the left.)

Rosmer. For the future the world will hold only one question for


Rebecca (turns and looks at him). In that case everything is at

an end.

Rosmer. Between you and me?

Rebecca. Yes.

Rosmer. Things can never be at an end between us two. You shall

never leave Rosmersholm.

Rebecca (with her hand on the door-handle). No, I dare say I

shall not. But, all the same, if you question me again, it will

mean the end of everything.

Rosmer. The end of everything, all the same? How--?

Rebecca. Because then I shall go the way Beata went. Now you

know, John.

Rosmer. Rebecca--!

Rebecca (stops at the door and nods: slowly). Now you know. (Goes


Rosmer (stares in bewilderment at the shut door, and says to

himself): What can it mean?


(SCENE-The sitting-room at Rosmersholm. The window and the hall-

door are open. The morning sun is seen shining outside. REBECCA,

dressed as in ACT I., is standing by the window, watering and

arranging the flowers. Her work is lying on the armchair. MRS.

HELSETH is going round the room with a feather brush, dusting the


Rebecca (after a short pause). I wonder why Mr. Rosmer is so late

in coming down to-day?

Mrs. Helseth. Oh, he is often as late as this, miss. He is sure

to be down directly.

Rebecca. Have you seen anything of him?

Mrs. Helseth. No, miss, except that as I took his coffee into his

study he went into his bedroom to finish dressing.

Rebecca. The reason I ask is that he was not very well yesterday.

Mrs. Helseth. No, he did not look well. It made me wonder whether

something had gone amiss between him and his brother-in-law.

Rebecca. What do you suppose could go amiss between them?

Mrs. Helseth. I can't say, miss. Perhaps it was that fellow

Mortensgaard set them at loggerheads.

Rebecca. It is quite possible. Do you know anything of this Peter


Mrs. Helseth. Not I! How could you think so, miss--a man like


Rebecca. Because of that horrid paper he edits, you mean?

Mrs. Helseth. Not only because of that, miss. I suppose you have

heard that a certain married woman, whose husband had deserted

her, had a child by him?

Rebecca. I have heard it; but of course that was long before I

came here.

Mrs. Helseth. Bless me, yes--he was quite a young man then. But

she might have had more sense than he had. He wanted to marry

her, too, but that could not be done; and so he had to pay

heavily for it. But since then--my word!--Mortensgaard has risen in

the world. There are lots of people who run after him now.

Rebecca. I believe most of the poor people turn to him first when

they are in any trouble.

Mrs. Helseth. Oh, not only the poor people, miss--

Rebecca (glancing at her unobserved). Indeed?

Mrs. Helseth (standing at the sofa, dusting vigorously). People

you would least expect, sometimes, miss.

Rebecca (arranging the flowers). Yes, but that is only an idea of

yours, Mrs. Helseth. You cannot know that for certain.

Mrs. Helseth. You think I don't know anything about that for

certain, do you, miss? Indeed I do. Because--if I must let out the

secret at last--I carried a letter to Mortensgaard myself once.

Rebecca (turns round). No--did you!

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, that I did. And that letter, let me tell you,

was written here--at Rosmersholm.

Rebecca. Really, Mrs. Helseth?

Mrs. Helseth. I give you my word it was, miss. And it was written

on good note-paper--and sealed with beautiful red sealing-wax.

Rebecca. And you were entrusted with the delivery of it? Dear

Mrs. Helseth, it is not very difficult to guess whom it was from.

Mrs. Helseth. Who, then?

Rebecca. Naturally, it was something that poor Mrs. Rosmer in her

invalid state

Mrs. Helseth. Well, you have mentioned her name, miss--not I.

Rebecca. But what was in the letter?--No, of course, you cannot

know that.

Mrs. Helseth. Hm!--it is just possible I may know, all the same.

Rebecca. Did she tell you what she was writing about, then?

Mrs. Helseth. No, she did not do that. But when Mortensgaard had

read it, he set to work and cross-questioned me, so that I got a

very good idea of what was in it.

Rebecca. What do you think was in it, then? Oh, dear, good Mrs.

Helseth, do tell me!

Mrs. Helseth. Certainly not, miss. Not for worlds.

Rebecca. Oh, you can tell me. You and I are such friends, you


Mrs. Helseth. Heaven forbid I should tell you anything about

that, miss. I shall not tell you anything, except that it was

some dreadful idea that they had gone and put into my poor sick

mistress's head.

Rebecca. Who had put it into her head?

Mrs. Helseth. Wicked people, miss. Wicked people.

Rebecca. Wicked--?

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, I say it again--very wicked people, they must

have been.

Rebecca. And what do you think it could be?

Mrs. Helseth. Oh, I know what I think--but, please Heaven, I'll

keep my mouth shut. At the same time, there is a certain lady in

the town--hm!

Rebecca. I can see you mean Mrs. Kroll.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, she is a queer one, she is. She has always

been very much on the high horse with me. And she has never

looked with any friendly eye on you, either, miss.

Rebecca. Do you think Mrs. Rosmer was quite in her right mind

when she wrote that letter to Mortensgaard?

Mrs. Helseth. It is so difficult to tell, miss. I certainly don't

think she was quite out of her mind.

Rebecca. But you know she seemed to go quite distracted when she

learnt that she would never be able to have a child. That was

when her madness first showed itself.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, that had a terrible effect on her, poor lady.

Rebecca (taking up her work, and sitting down on a chair by the

window). But, in other respects, do you not think that was really

a good thing for Mr. Rosmer, Mrs. Helseth?

Mrs. Helseth. What, miss?

Rebecca. That there were no children?

Mrs. Helseth. Hm!--I really do not know what to say to that.

Rebecca. Believe me, it was best for him. Mr. Rosmer was never

meant to be surrounded by crying children.

Mrs. Helseth. Little children do not cry at Rosmersholm, Miss


Rebecca (looking at her). Not cry?

Mrs. Helseth. No. In this house, little children have never been

known to cry, as long as any one can remember.

Rebecca. That is very strange.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, isn't it, miss? But it runs in the family. And

there is another thing that is just as strange; when they grow up

they never laugh--never laugh, all their lives.

Rebecca. But that would be extraordinary

Mrs. Helseth. Have you ever once heard or seen Mr. Rosmer laugh,


Rebecca. No--now that I think of it, I almost believe you are

right. But I fancy most of the folk hereabouts laugh very little.

Mrs. Helseth. That is quite true. People say it began at

Rosmersholm, and I expect it spread like a sort of infection.

Rebecca. You are a sagacious woman, Mrs. Helseth!

Mrs. Helseth. Oh, you mustn't sit there and make game of me,

miss. (Listens.) Hush, hush--Mr. Rosmer is coming down. He doesn't

like to see brooms about. (Goes out by the door on the right.

ROSMER, with his stick and hat in his hand, comes in from the


Rosmer. Good-morning, Rebecca.

Rebecca. Good-morning, dear. (She goes on working for a little

while in silence.) Are you going out?

Rosmer. Yes.

Rebecca. It is such a lovely day.

Rosmer. You did not come up to see me this morning.

Rebecca. No--I didn't. Not to-day.

Rosmer. Don't you mean to do so in future, either? Rebecca. I

cannot say yet, dear.

Rosmer. Has anything come for me?

Rebecca. The "County News" has come.

Rosmer. The "County News"!

Rebecca. There it is, on the table.

Rosmer (putting down his hat and stick). Is there anything--?

Rebecca. Yes.

Rosmer. And you did not send it up to me

Rebecca. You will read it quite soon enough.

Rosmer. Well, let us see. (Takes up the paper and stands by the

table reading it.) What!--"cannot pronounce too emphatic a warning

against unprincipled deserters." (Looks at her.) They call me a

deserter, Rebecca.

Rebecca. They mention no names at all.

Rosmer. It comes to the same thing. (Goes on reading.) "Secret

traitors to the good cause."--"Judas-like creatures, who

shamelessly confess their apostasy as soon as they think the most

opportune and most profitable moment has arrived."--"A reckless

outrage on the fair fame of honoured ancestors"--"in the

expectation that those who are enjoying a brief spell of

authority will not disappoint them of a suitable reward." (Lays

the paper down on the table.) And they write that of me--these men

who have known me so long and so intimately--write a thing that

they do not even believe themselves! They know there is not a

single word of truth in it--and yet they write it.

Rebecca. There is more of it yet.

Rosmer (taking up the paper again). "Make some allowance for

inexperience and want of judgment"--"a pernicious influence which,

very possibly, has extended even to matters which for the present

we will refrain from publicly discussing or condemning." (Looks

at her.) What does that mean?

Rebecca. That is a hit at me, obviously.

Rosmer (laying down the paper). Rebecca, this is the conduct of

dishonourable men.

Rebecca. Yes, it seems to me they have no right to talk about


Rosmer (walking up and down the room). They must be saved from

this sort of thing. All the good that is in men is destroyed, if

it is allowed to go on. But it shall not be so! How happy--how

happy I should feel if I could succeed in bringing a little light

into all this murky ugliness.

Rebecca (getting up). I am sure of it. There is something great,

something splendid, for you to live for!

Rosmer. Just think of it--if I could wake them to a real knowledge

of themselves--bring them to be angry with and ashamed of

themselves--induce them to be at one with each other in

toleration, in love, Rebecca!

Rebecca. Yes! Give yourself up entirely to that task, and you

will see that you will succeed.

Rosmer. I think it might be done. What happiness it would be to

live one's life, then! No more hateful strife--only emulation;

every eye fixed on the same goal; every man's will, every man's

thoughts moving forward-upward--each in its own inevitable path

Happiness for all--and through the efforts of all! (Looks out of

the window as he speaks, then gives a start and says gloomily:)

Ah! not through me.

Rebecca. Not--not through you?

Rosmer. Nor for me, either.

Rebecca. Oh, John, have no such doubts.

Rosmer. Happiness, dear Rebecca, means first and foremost the

calm, joyous sense of innocence.

Rebecca (staring in front of her). Ah, innocence--

Rosmer. You need fear nothing on that score. But I--

Rebecca. You least of all men!

Rosmer (pointing out of the window). The mill-race.

Rebecca. Oh, John!--(MRS. HELSETH looks in in through the door

on the left.)

Mrs. Helseth. Miss West!

Rebecca. Presently, presently. Not now.

Mrs. Helseth. Just a word, miss! (REBECCA goes to the door. MRS.

HELSETH tells her something, and they whisper together for a

moment; then MRS. HELSETH nods and goes away.)

Rosmer (uneasily). Was it anything for me?

Rebecca. No, only something about the housekeeping. You ought to

go out into the open air now, John dear. You should go for a good

long walk.

Rosmer (taking up his hat). Yes, come along; we will go together.

Rebecca. No, dear, I can't just now. You must go by yourself. But

shake off all these gloomy thoughts--promise me that!

Rosmer. I shall never be able to shake them quite off, I am


Rebecca. Oh, but how can you let such groundless fancies take

such a hold on you!

Rosmer. Unfortunately they are not so groundless as you think,

dear. I have lain, thinking them over, all night. Perhaps Beata

saw things truly after all.

Rebecca. In what way do you mean?

Rosmer. Saw things truly when she believed I loved you, Rebecca.

Rebecca. Truly in THAT respect?

Rosmer (laying his hat down on the table). This is the question I

have been wrestling with--whether we two have deluded ourselves

the whole time, when we have been calling the tie between us

merely friendship.

Rebecca. Do you mean, then, that the right name for it would have


Rosmer. Love. Yes, dear, that is what I mean. Even while Beata

was alive, it was you that I gave all my thoughts to. It was you

alone I yearned for. It was with you that I experienced peaceful,

joyful, passionless happiness. When we consider it rightly,

Rebecca, our life together began like the sweet, mysterious love

of two children for one another--free from desire or any thought

of anything more. Did you not feel it in that way too? Tell me.

Rebecca (struggling with herself). Oh, I do not know what to


Rosmer. And it was this life of intimacy, with one another and

for one another, that we took to be friendship. No, dear--the tie

between us has been a spiritual marriage--perhaps from the very

first day. That is why I am guilty. I had no right to it--no right

to it for Beata's sake.

Rebecca. No right to a happy life? Do you believe that, John?

Rosmer. She looked at the relations between us through the eyes

of HER love--judged them after the nature of HER love. And it was

only natural. She could not have judged them otherwise than she


Rebecca. But how can you so accuse yourself for Beata's


Rosmer. It was for love of me--in her own way that--she threw

herself into the mill-race. That fact is certain, Rebecca. I can

never get beyond that.

Rebecca. Oh, do not think of anything else but the great,

splendid task that you are going to devote your life to!

Rosmer (shaking his head). It can never be carried through. Not

by me. Not after what I know now.

Rebecca. Why not by you?

Rosmer. Because no cause can ever triumph which has its

beginnings in guilt.

Rebecca (impetuously). Oh, these are nothing but prejudices you

have inherited--these doubts, these fears, these scruples! You

have a legend here that your dead return to haunt you in the form

of white horses. This seems to me to be something of that sort.

Rosmer. Be that as it may, what difference does it make if I

cannot shake it off? Believe me, Rebecca, it is as I say--any

cause which is to win a lasting victory must be championed by a

man who is joyous and innocent.

Rebecca. But is joy so absolutely indispensable to you, John?

Rosmer. Joy? Yes, indeed it is.

Rebecca. To you, who never laugh?

Rosmer. Yes, in spite of that. Believe me, I have a great

capacity for joy.

Rebecca. Now you really must go out, dear--for a long walk--a

really long one, do you hear? There is your hat, and there is

your stick.

Rosmer (taking them from her). Thank you. And you won't come too?

Rebecca. No, no, I can't come now.

Rosmer. Very well. You are none the less always with me now.

(Goes out by the entrance hall. After a moment REBECCA peeps out

from behind the door which he has left open. Then she goes to the

door on the right, which she opens.)

Rebecca (in a whisper). Now, Mrs. Helseth. You can let him come

in now. (Crosses to the window. A moment later, KROLL comes in

from the right. He bows to her silently and formally and keeps

his hat in his hand.)

Kroll. Has he gone, then?

Rebecca. Yes.

Kroll. Does he generally stay out long?

Rebecca. Yes. But to-day he is in a very uncertain mood--so, if

you do not want to meet him--

Kroll. Certainly not. It is you I wish to speak to--and quite


Rebecca. Then we had better make the best of our time. Please sit

down. (She sits down in an easy-chair by the window. KROLL takes

a chair beside her.)

Kroll. Miss West, you can scarcely have any idea how deeply

pained and unhappy I am over this revolution that has taken place

in John Rosmer's ideas.

Rebecca. We were prepared for that being so--at first.

Kroll. Only at first?

Rosmer. Mr. Rosmer hoped confidently that sooner or later you

would take your place beside him.

Kroll. I?

Rebecca. You and all his other friends.

Kroll. That should convince you how feeble his judgment is on any

matter concerning his fellow-creatures and the affairs of real


Rebecca. In any case, now that he feels the absolute necessity of

cutting himself free on all sides

Kroll. Yes; but, let me tell you, that is exactly what I do not


Rebecca. What do you believe, then?

Kroll. I believe it is you that are at the bottom of the whole


Rebecca. Your wife put that into your head, Mr. Kroll.

Kroll. It does not matter who put it into my head. The point is

this, that I feel grave doubts--exceedingly grave doubts--when I

recall and think over the whole of your behaviour since you came


Rebecca (looking at him). I have a notion that there was a time

when you had an exceedingly strong BELIEF in me, dear Mr. Kroll--I

might almost say, a warm belief.

Kroll (in a subdued voice). I believe you could bewitch any one--

if you set yourself to do it.

Rebecca. And you say I set myself to do it!

Kroll. Yes, you did. I am no longer such a simpleton as to

suppose that sentiment entered into your little game at all. You

simply wanted to secure yourself admission to Rosmersholm--to

establish yourself here. That was what I was to help you to. I

see it now.

Rebecca. Then you have completely forgotten that it was Beata

that begged and entreated me to come and live here.

Kroll. Yes, because you had bewitched her too. Are you going to

pretend that friendship is the name for what she came to feel

towards you? It was idolatry--adoration. It degenerated into a--

what shall I call, it?--a sort of desperate passion. Yes, that is

just the word for it.

Rebecca. Have the goodness to remember the condition your sister

was in. As far as I am concerned I do not think I can be said to

be particularly emotional in any way.

Kroll. No, you certainly are not. But that makes you all the more

dangerous to those whom you wish to get into your power.

It comes easy to you to act with deliberation and careful

calculation, just because you have a cold heart.

Rebecca. Cold? Are you so sure of that?

Kroll. I am certain of it now. Otherwise you could not have

pursued your object here so unswervingly, year after year. Yes,

yes--you have gained what you wanted. You have got him and

everything else here into your power. But, to carry out your

schemes, you have not scrupled to make him unhappy.

Rebecca. That is not true. It is not I; it is you yourself that

have made him unhappy.

Kroll. I!

Rebecca. Yes, by leading him to imagine that he was responsible

for the terrible end that overtook Beata.

Kroll. Did that affect him so deeply, then?

Rebecca. Of course. A man of such gentle disposition as he--

Kroll. I imagined that one of your so-called "emancipated" men

would know how to overcome any scruples. But there it is! Oh,

yes--as a matter of fact it turned out just as I expected. The

descendant of the men who are looking at us from these walls need

not think he can break loose from what has been handed down as an

inviolable inheritance from generation to generation.

Rebecca (looking thoughtfully in front of her). John Rosmer's

nature is deeply rooted in his ancestors. That is certainly very


Kroll. Yes, and you ought to have taken that into consideration,

if you had had any sympathy for him. But I dare say you were

incapable of that sort of consideration. Your starting-point is

so very widely-removed from his, you see.

Rebecca. What do you mean by my starting-point?

Kroll. I mean the starting-point of origin--of parentage, Miss


Rebecca. I see. Yes, it is quite true that my origin is very

humble. But nevertheless--

Kroll. I am not alluding to rank or position. I am thinking of

the moral aspect of your origin.

Rebecca. Of my origin? In what respect?

Kroll. In respect of your birth generally.

Rebecca. What are you saying!

Kroll. I am only saying it because it explains the whole of your


Rebecca. I do not understand. Be so good as to tell me exactly

what you mean.

Kroll. I really thought you did not need telling. Otherwise it

would seem a very strange thing that you let yourself be adopted

by Dr. West.

Rebecca (getting up). Oh, that is it! Now I understand.

Kroll. And took his name. Your mother's name was Gamvik.

Rebecca (crossing the room). My father's name was Gamvik, Mr.


Kroll. Your mother's occupation must, of course, have brought her

continually into contact with the district physician.

Rebecca. You are quite right.

Kroll. And then he takes you to live with him, immediately upon

your mother's death. He treats you harshly, and yet you stay with

him. You know that he will not leave you a single penny--as a

matter of fact you only got a box of books--and yet you endure

living with him, put up with his behaviour, and nurse him to the


Rebecca (comes to the table and looks at him scornfully). And my

doing all that makes it clear to you that there was something

immoral--something criminal about my birth!

Kroll. What you did for him, I attributed to an unconscious

filial instinct. And, as far as the rest of it goes, I consider

that the whole of your conduct has been the outcome of your


Rebecca (hotly). But there is not a single word of truth in what

you say! And I can prove it! Dr. West had not come to Finmark

when I was born.

Kroll. Excuse me, Miss West. He went there a year before you were

born. I have ascertained that.

Rebecca. You are mistaken, I tell you! You are absolutely


Kroll. You said here, the day before yesterday, that you were

twenty-nine--going on for thirty.

Rebecca. Really? Did I say that?

Kroll. Yes, you did. And from that I can calculate--

Rebecca. Stop! That will not help you to calculate. For, I may as

well tell you at once, I am a year older than I give myself out

to be.

Kroll (smiling incredulously). Really? That is something new. How

is that?

Rebecca. When I had passed my twenty-fifth birthday, I thought I

was getting altogether too old for an unmarried girl, so I

resolved to tell a lie and take a year off my age.

Kroll. You--an emancipated woman--cherishing prejudices as to the

marriageable age!

Rebecca. I know it was a silly thing to do--and ridiculous, too.

But every one has some prejudice or another that they cannot get

quite rid of. We are like that.

Kroll. Maybe. But my calculation may be quite correct, all the

same; because Dr. West was up in Finmark for a flying visit the

year before he was appointed.

Rebecca (impetuously). That is not true

Kroll. Isn't it?

Rebecca. No. My mother never mentioned it.

Kroll. Didn't she, really!

Rebecca. No, never. Nor Dr. West, either. Never a word of it.

Kroll. Might that not be because they both had good reason to

jump over a year?--@just as you have done yourself, Miss West?

Perhaps it is a family failing.

Rebecca (walking about, wringing her hands). It is impossible. It

is only something you want to make me believe. Nothing in the

world will make me believe it. It cannot be true! Nothing in the


Kroll (getting up). But, my dear Miss West, why in Heaven's name

do you take it in this way? You quite alarm me! What am I to

believe and think?

Rebecca. Nothing. Neither believe nor think anything.

Kroll. Then you really must give me some explanation of your

taking this matter--this possibility--so much to heart.

Rebecca (controlling herself). It is quite obvious, I should

think, Mr. Kroll. I have no desire for people here to think me an

illegitimate child.

Kroll. Quite so. Well, well, let us be content with your

explanation, for the present. But you see that is another point

on which you have cherished a certain prejudice.

Rebecca. Yes, that is quite true.

Kroll. And it seems to me that very much the same applies to most

of this "emancipation" of yours, as you call it. Your reading

has introduced you to a hotch-potch of new ideas and opinions;

you have made a certain acquaintance with researches that are

going on in various directions--researches that seem to you to

upset a good many ideas that people have hitherto considered

incontrovertible and unassailable. But all this has never gone

any further than knowledge in your case, Miss West--a mere matter

of the intellect. It has not got into your blood.

Rebecca (thoughtfully). Perhaps you are right.

Kroll. Yes, only test yourself, and you will see! And if it is

true in your case, it is easy to recognise how true it must be in

John Rosmer's. Of course it is madness, pure and simple. He will

be running headlong to his ruin if he persists in coming openly

forward and proclaiming himself an apostate! Just think of it--he,

with his shy disposition! Think of HIM disowned--hounded out of

the circle to which he has always belonged--exposed to the

uncompromising attacks of all the best people in the place.

Nothing would ever make him the man to endure that.

Rebecca. He MUST endure it! It is too late now for him to draw


Kroll. Not a bit too late--not by any means too late. What has

happened can be hushed up--or at any rate can be explained away as

a purely temporary, though regrettable, aberration. But--there is

one step that it is absolutely essential he should take.

Rebecca. And that is?

Kroll. You must get him to legalise his position, Miss West.

Rebecca. The position in which he stands to me?

Kroll. Yes. You must see that you get him to do that.

Rebecca. Then you can't rid yourself of the conviction that the

relations between us need "legalising," as you say?

Kroll. I do not wish to go any more precisely into the question.

But I certainly have observed that the conditions under which it

always seems easiest for people to abandon all their so-called

prejudices are when--ahem!

Rebecca. When it is a question of the relations between a man and

a woman, I suppose you mean?

Kroll. Yes--to speak candidly--that is what I mean.

Rebecca (walks across the room and looks out of the window). I

was on the point of saying that I wish you had been right, Mr.


Kroll. What do you mean by that? You say it so strangely!

Rebecca. Oh, nothing! Do not let us talk any more about it. Ah,

there he is!

Kroll. Already! I will go, then.

Rebecca (turning to him). No--stay here, and you will hear


Kroll. Not now. I do not think I could bear to see him.

Rebecca. I beg you to stay. Please do, or you will regret it

later. It is the last time I shall ever ask you to do anything.

Kroll (looks at her in surprise, and lays his hat down). Very

well, Miss West. It shall be as you wish. (A short pause. Then

ROSMER comes in from the hall.)

Rosmer (stops at the door, as he sees KROLL). What! you here?

Rebecca. He wanted to avoid meeting you, John.

Kroll (involuntarily). "John?"

Rebecca. Yes, Mr. Kroll. John and I call each other by our

Christian names. That is a natural consequence of the relations

between us.

Kroll. Was that what I was to hear if I stayed?

Rebecca. Yes, that and something else.

Rosmer (coming into the room). What is the object of your visit

here to-day?

Kroll. I wanted to make one more effort to stop you, and win you


Rosmer (pointing to the newspaper). After that?

Kroll. I did not write it.

Rosmer. Did you take any steps to prevent its appearing?

Kroll. That would have been acting unjustifiably towards the

cause I serve. And, besides that, I had no power to prevent it.

Rebecca (tears the newspaper into pieces, which she crumples up

and throws into the back of the stove). There! Now it is out of

sight; let it be out of mind too. Because there will be no more

of that sort of thing, John.

Kroll. Indeed, I wish you could ensure that.

Rebecca. Come, and let us sit down, dear--all three of us. Then I

will tell you all about it.

Rosmer (sitting down involuntarily). What has come over you,

Rebecca? You are so unnaturally calm--What is it?

Rebecca. The calmness of determination. (Sits down.) Please sit

down too, Mr. Kroll. (He takes a seat on the couch.)

Rosmer. Determination, you say. Determination to do what?

Rebecca. I want to give you back what you need in order to live

your life. You shall have your happy innocence back, dear friend.

Rosmer. But what do you mean?

Rebecca. I will just tell you what happened. That is all that is


Rosmer. Well?

Rebecca. When I came down here from Finmark with Dr. West, it

seemed to me that a new, great, wide world was opened to me. Dr.

West had given me an erratic sort of education--had taught me all

the odds and ends that I knew about life then. (Has an evident

struggle with herself, and speaks in barely audible tones.) And


Kroll. And then?

Rosmer. But, Rebecca--I know all this.

Rebecca (collecting herself). Yes--that is true enough. You know

it only too well.

Kroll (looking fixedly at her). Perhaps it would be better if I

left you.

Rebecca. No, stay where you are, dear Mr. Kroll. (To ROSMER.)

Well, this was how it was. I wanted to play my part in the new

day that was dawning--to have a share in all the new ideas. Mr.

Kroll told me one day that Ulrik Brendel had had a great

influence over you once, when you were a boy. I thought it might

be possible for me to resume that influence here.

Rosmer. Did you come here with a covert design?

Rebecca. What I wanted was that we two should go forward together

on the road towards freedom--always forward, and further forward!

But there was that gloomy, insurmountable barrier between you and

a full, complete emancipation.

Rosmer. What barrier do you mean?

Rebecca. I mean, John, that you could never have attained freedom

except in the full glory of the sunshine. And, instead of that,

here you were--ailing and languishing in the gloom of such a

marriage as yours.

Rosmer. You have never spoken to me of my marriage in that way,

before to-day.

Rebecca. No, I did not dare, for fear of frightening you.

Kroll (nodding to ROSMER). You hear that!

Rebecca (resuming). But I saw quite well where your salvation

lay--your only salvation. And so I acted.

Rosmer. How do you mean--you acted?

Kroll. Do you mean that?

Rebecca. Yes, John. (Gets up.) No, do not get up. Nor you either,

Mr. Kroll. But we must let in. the daylight now. It was not you,

John. You are innocent. It was I that lured--that ended by luring--

Beata into the tortuous path--

Rosmer (springing up). Rebecca!

Kroll (getting up). Into the tortuous path!

Rebecca. Into the path that--led to the mill-race. Now you know

it, both of you.

Rosmer (as if stunned). But I do not understand--What is she

standing there saying? I do not understand a word--

Kroll. Yes, yes. I begin to understand.

Rosmer. But what did you do? What did you find to tell her?

Because there was nothing--absolutely nothing!

Rebecca. She got to know that you were determined to emancipate

yourself from all your old prejudices.

Rosmer. Yes, but at that time I had come to no decision.

Rebecca. I knew that you soon would come to one.

Kroll (nodding to ROSMER). Aha!

Rosmer. Well--and what more? I want to know everything now.

Rebecca. Some time afterwards, I begged and implored her to let

me leave Rosmersholm.

Rosmer. Why did you want to leave here--then?

Rebecca. I did not want to. I wanted to remain where I was. But I

told her that it would be best for us all if I went away in time.

I let her infer that if I remained here any longer I could not

tell what-what-might happen.

Rosmer. That is what you said and did, then?

Rebecca. Yes, John.

Rosmer. That is what you referred to when you said that you


Rebecca (in a broken voice). Yes, that was it.

Rosmer (after a pause). Have you confessed everything now,


Rebecca. Yes.

Kroll. Not everything.

Rebecca (looking at him in terror). What else can there be?

Kroll. Did you not eventually lead Beata to believe that it was

necessary--not merely that it should be best--but that it was

necessary, both for your own sake and for John's, that you should

go away somewhere else as soon as possible?--Well?

Rebecca (speaking low and indistinctly). Perhaps I did say

something of the sort.

Rosmer (sinking into a chair by the window). And she, poor sick

creature, believed in this tissue of lies and deceit! Believed in

it so completely--so absolutely! (Looks up at REBECCA.) And she

never came to me about it--never said a word! Ah, Rebecca--I see it

in your face--YOU dissuaded her from doing so.

Rebecca. You know she had taken it into her head that she, a

childless wife, had no right to be here. And so she persuaded

herself that her duty to you was to give place to another.

Rosmer. And you--you did nothing to rid her mind of such an idea?

Rebecca. No.

Kroll. Perhaps you encouraged her in the idea? Answer! Did you

not do so?

Rebecca. That was how she understood me, I believe.

Rosmer. Yes, yes--and she bowed to your will in everything. And so

she gave place. (Springs up.) How could you--how could you go on

with this terrible tragedy!

Rebecca. I thought there were two lives here to choose between,


Kroll (severely and with authority). You had no right to make any

such choice.

Rebecca (impetuously). Surely you do not think I acted with cold

and calculating composure! I am a different woman now, when I am

telling you this, from what I was then. And I believe two

different kinds of will can exist at the same time in one person.

I wanted Beata away--in one way or the other; but I never thought

it would happen, all the same. At every step I ventured and

risked, I seemed to hear a voice in me crying: "No further! Not

a step further!" And yet, at the same time, I COULD not stop. I

HAD to venture a little bit further--just one step. And then

another--and always another--and at last it happened. That is how

such things go of themselves. (A short silence.)

Rosmer (to REBECCA). And how do you think it will go with YOU in

the future?--after this?

Rebecca. Things must go with me as they can. It is of very little


Kroll. Not a word suggestive of remorse! Perhaps you feel none?

Rebecca (dismissing his remark coldly). Excuse me, Mr. Kroll,

that is a matter that is no concern of any one else's. That is an

account I must settle with myself.

Kroll (to ROSMER). And this is the woman you have been living

under the same roof with--in relations of the completest

confidence. (Looks up at the portraits on the walls.) If only

those that are gone could look down now!

Rosmer. Are you going into the town?

Kroll (taking up his hat). Yes. The sooner the better.

Rosmer (taking his hat also). Then I will go with you.

Kroll. You will! Ah, I thought we had not quite lost you.

Rosmer. Come, then, Kroll. Come! (They both go out into the hall

without looking at REBECCA. After a minute REBECCA goes

cautiously to the window and peeps out between the flowers.)

Rebecca (speaking to herself, half aloud). Not over the bridge

to-day either. He is going round. Never over the millrace--never.

(Comes away from the window.) As I thought! (She goes over to the

bell, and rings it. Soon afterwards MRS. HELSETH comes in from

the right.)

Mrs. Helseth. What is it, miss?

Rebecca. Mrs. Helseth, will you be so good as to fetch my

travelling trunk down from the loft?

Mrs. Helseth. Your trunk?

Rebecca. Yes, the brown hair-trunk, you know.

Mrs. Helseth. Certainly, miss. But, bless my soul, are you going

away on a journey, miss?

Rebecca. Yes--I am going away on a journey, Mrs. Helseth.

Mrs. Helseth. And immediately!

Rebecca. As soon as I have packed.

Mrs. Helseth. I never heard of such a thing! But you are coming

back again soon, I suppose, miss?

Rebecca. I am never coming back again.

Mrs. Helseth. Never! But, my goodness, what is to become of us at

Rosmersholm if Miss West is not here any longer? Just as

everything was making poor Mr. Rosmer so happy and comfortable!

Rebecca. Yes, but to-day I have had a fright, Mrs. Helseth.

Mrs. Helseth. A fright! Good heavens-how?

Rebecca. I fancy I have had a glimpse of the White Horse.

Mrs. Helseth. Of the White Horse! In broad daylight!

Rebecca. Ah! they are out both early and late, the White Horses

of Rosmersholm. (Crosses the room.) Well--we were speaking of my

trunk, Mrs. Helseth.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, miss. Your trunk.

(They both go out to the right.)


(SCENE.-The same room in the late evening. The lamp, with a shade

on it, is burning on the table. REBECCA is standing by the table,

packing some small articles in a travelling-bag. Her cloak, hat,

and the white crochetted shawl are hanging on the back of the

couch. MRS. HELSETH comes in from the right.)

Mrs. Helseth (speaking in low tones and with a reserved manner).

Yes, all your things have been taken down, miss. They are in the

kitchen passage.

Rebecca. Thank you. You have ordered the carriage?

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, miss. The coachman wants to know what time he

shall bring it round.

Rebecca. I think at about eleven o'clock. The boat goes at


Mrs. Helseth (with a little hesitation). But what about Mr.

Rosmer? Suppose he is not back by that time?

Rebecca. I shall start, all the same. If I should not see him,

you can tell him I will write to him--a long letter, say that.

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, I dare say it will be all right to write. But,

poor dear, I really think that you ought to try and have a talk

with him once more.

Rebecca. Perhaps I ought--Or perhaps not, after all.

Mrs. Helseth. Dear, dear! I never thought I should, live to see

such a thing as this!

Rebecca. What did you think, then, Mrs. Helseth?

Mrs. Helseth. To tell the truth, miss, I thought Mr. Rosmer was

an honester man than that.

Rebecca. Honester?

Mrs. Helseth. Yes, miss, that is the truth.

Rebecca. But, my dear Mrs. Helseth, what do you mean by that?

Mrs. Helseth. I mean what is true and right, miss. He should not

get out of it in this way--that he shouldn't.

Rebecca (looking at her). Now look here, Mrs. Helseth. Tell me,

honestly and frankly, why you think I am going away.

Mrs. Helseth. Good Lord, miss--because it is necessary, I suppose.

Well, well!--Still, I certainly do not think Mr. Rosmer has

behaved well. There was some excuse in Mortensgaard's case,

because the woman's husband was still alive; so that it was

impossible for them to marry, however much they wished it. But

Mr. Rosmer, he could--ahem!

Rebecca (with a faint smile). Is it possible that you could think

such things about me and Mr. Rosmer?

Mrs. Helseth. Not for a moment--until to-day, I mean.

Rebecca. But why to-day?

Mrs. Helseth. Well, after all the horrible things they tell me

one may see in the papers about Mr. Rosmer

Rebecca. Ah!

Mrs. Helseth. What I mean is this--if a man can go over to

Mortensgaard's religion, you may believe him capable of anything.

And that's the truth.

Rebecca. Yes, very likely. But about me? What have you got to say

about me?

Mrs. Helseth. Well, I am sure, miss--I do not think you are so

greatly to be blamed. It is not always so easy for a lone woman

to resist, I dare say. We are all human after all, Miss West.

Rebecca. That is very true, Mrs. Helseth. We are all human, after

all.--What are you listening to?

Mrs. Helseth (in a low voice). Good Lord!--I believe that is him

coming now.

Rebecca (with a start). In spite of everything, then--! (Speaks

with determination.) Very well. So be it. (ROSMER comes in from

the hall. He sees the luggage, and turns to REBECCA.)

Rosmer. What does this mean?

Rebecca. I am going away.

Rosmer. At once?

Rebecca. Yes. (To MRS. HELSETH.) Eleven o'clock, then.

Mrs. Helseth. Very well, miss. (Goes out to the right.)

Rosmer (after a short pause). Where are you going, Rebecca?

Rebecca. I am taking the boat for the north.

Rosmer. North? What are you going there for?

Rebecca. It is where I came from.

Rosmer. But you have no more ties there now.

Rebecca. I have none here, either.

Rosmer. What do you propose to do?

Rebecca. I do not know. I only want to make an end of it.

Rosmer. Make an end of what?

Rebecca. Rosmersholm has broken me.

Rosmer (more attentively). What is that?

Rebecca. Broken me utterly. I had a will of my own, and some

courage, when I came here. Now I am crushed under the law of

strangers. I do not think I shall have the courage to begin

anything else in the world after this.

Rosmer. Why not? What do you mean by being crushed under a law--?

Rebecca. Dear friend, do not let us talk about that now--Tell me

what passed between you and Mr. Kroll.

Rosmer. We have made our peace.

Rebecca. Quite so. So it came to that.

Rosmer. He got together all our old circle of friends at his

house. They convinced me that the work of ennobling men's souls

was not in my line at all. Besides, it is such a hopeless task,

any way. I shall let it alone.

Rebecca. Well, perhaps it is better so.

Rosmer. Do you say THAT now? Is that what your opinion is now?

Rebecca. I have come to that opinion--in the last day or two.

Rosmer. You are lying, Rebecca.

Rebecca. Lying--?

Rosmer. Yes, lying. You have never believed in me. You have never

believed me to be the man to lead the cause to victory.

Rebecca. I have believed that we two together would be equal to


Rosmer. That is not true. You have believed that you could

accomplish something big in life yourself--that you could use me

to further your plans--that I might be useful to you in the

pursuit of your object. That is what you have believed.

Rebecca. Listen to me, John

Rosmer (sitting down wearily on the couch). Oh, let me be! I see

the whole thing clearly now. I have been like a glove in your


Rebecca. Listen to me, John. Let us talk this thing over. It will

be for the last time. (Sits down in a chair by the couch.) I had

intended to write to you about it all--when I had gone back north.

But it is much better that you should hear it at once.

Rosmer. Have you something more to tell, then?

Rebecca. The most important part of it all.

Rosmer. What do you mean?

Rebecca. Something that you have never suspected. Something that

puts all the rest in its true light.

Rosmer (shaking his head). I do not understand, at all.

Rebecca. It is quite true that at one time I did play my cards so

as to secure admission to Rosmersholm. My idea was that I should

succeed in doing well for myself here--either in one way or in

another, you understand.

Rosmer. Well, you succeeded in carrying your scheme through, too.

Rebecca. I believe I could have carried anything through--at that

time. For then I still had the courage of a free will. I had no

one else to consider, nothing to turn me from my path. But then

began what has broken down my will and filled the whole of my

life with dread and wretchedness.

Rosmer. What--began? Speak so that I can understand you.

Rebecca. There came over me--a wild, uncontrollable passion--Oh,


Rosmer. Passion? You--! For what?

Rebecca. For you.

Rosmer (getting up). What does this mean!

Rebecca (preventing him). Sit still, dear. I will tell you more

about it.

Rosmer. And you mean to say--that you have loved me--in that way!

Rebecca. I thought I might call it loving you--then. I thought it

was love. But it was not. It was what I have said--a wild,

uncontrollable passion.

Rosmer (speaking with difficulty). Rebecca--is it really you-you-

who are sitting here telling me this?

Rebecca. Yes, indeed it is, John.

Rosmer. Then it was as the outcome of this--and under the

influence of this--that you "acted," as you called it.

Rebecca. It swept over me like a storm over the sea--like one of

the storms we have in winter in the north. They catch you up and

rush you along with them, you know, until their fury is expended.

There is no withstanding them.

Rosmer. So it swept poor unhappy Beata into the mill-race.

Rebecca. Yes--it was like a fight for life between Beata and me at

that time.

Rosmer. You proved the strongest of us all at Rosmersholm--

stronger than both Beata and me put together.

Rebecca. I knew you well enough to know that I could not get at

you in any way until you were set free--both in actual

circumstances and in your soul.

Rosmer. But I do not understand you, Rebecca. You--you yourself

and your whole conduct--are an insoluble riddle to me. I am free

now--both in my soul and my circumstances. You are absolutely in

touch with the goal you set before yourself from the beginning.

And nevertheless--

Rebecca. I have never stood farther from my goal than I do now.

Rosmer. And nevertheless, I say, when yesterday I asked you--urged

you--to become my wife, you cried out that it never could be.

Rebecca. I cried out in despair, John.

Rosmer. Why?

Rebecca. Because Rosmersholm has unnerved me. All the courage has

been sapped out of my will here--crushed out! The time has gone

for me to dare risk anything whatever. I have lost all power of

action, John.

Rosmer. Tell me how that has come about.

Rebecca. It has come about through my living with you.

Rosmer. But how? How?

Rebecca. When I was alone with you here--and you had really found


Rosmer. Yes, yes?

Rebecca. For you never really found yourself as long as Beata was


Rosmer. Alas, you are right in that.

Rebecca. When it came about that I was living together with you

here, in peace and solitude--when you exchanged all your thoughts

with me unreservedly--your every mood, however tender or intimate--

then the great change happened in me. Little by little, you

understand. Almost imperceptibly--but overwhelmingly in the end,

till it reached the uttermost depths of my soul.

Rosmer. What does this mean, Rebecca?

Rebecca. All the other feeling--all that horrible passion that had

drowned my better self--left me entirely. All the violent emotions

that had been roused in me were quelled and silenced. A peace

stole over my soul--a quiet like that of one of our mountain

peaks up under the midnight sun.

Rosmer. Tell me more of it--all that you can.

Rebecca. There is not much more to tell. Only that this was how

love grew up in my heart--a great, self-denying love--content

with such a union of hearts as there has been between us two.

Rosmer. Oh, if only I had had the slightest suspicion of all this!

Rebecca. It is best as it is. Yesterday, when you asked me if I

would be your wife, I gave a cry of joy--

Rosmer. Yes, it was that, Rebecca, was it not! I thought

that was what it meant.

Rebecca. For a moment, yes-I forgot myself for a moment. It was

my dauntless will of the old days that was struggling to be free

again. But now it has no more strength--it has lost it for ever.

Rosmer. How do you explain what has taken place in you?

Rebecca. It is the Rosmer attitude towards life-

or your attitude towards life, at any rate--that has infected

my will.

Rosmer. Infected?

Rebecca. Yes, and made it sickly--bound it captive under laws

that formerly had no meaning for me. You--my life together with

you--have ennobled my soul--

Rosmer. Ah, if I dared believe that to be true!

Rebecca. You may believe it confidently. The Rosmer attitude

towards life ennobles. But-(shakes her head)-but-but--

Rosmer. But? Well?

Rebecca. But it kills joy, you know.

Rosmer. Do you say that, Rebecca?

Rebecca. For me, at all events.

Rosmer. Yes, but are you so sure of that? If I asked you

again now--? Implored you--?

Rebecca. Oh, my dear--never go back to that again! It is

impossible. Yes, impossible--because I must tell you this, John.

I have a--past behind me.

Rosmer. Something more than you have told me?

Rebecca. Yes, something more and something different.

Rosmer (with a faint smile). It is very strange, Rebecca, but--

do you know--the idea of such a thing has occurred to me more

than once.

Rebecca. It has? And yet--notwithstanding that, you--?

Rosmer. I never believed in it. I only played with the idea-

nothing more.

Rebecca. If you wish, I will tell you all about it at once.

Rosmer (stopping her). No, no! I do not want to hear a word

aabout it. Whatever it is, it shall be forgotten, as far

as I am concerned.

Rebecca. But I cannot forget it.

Rosmer. Oh, Rebecca--!

Rebecca. Yes, dear--that is just the dreadful part of it-that

now, when all the happiness of life is freely and fully offered

to me, all I can feel is that I am barred out from it by my past.

Rosmer. Your past is dead, Rebecca. It has no longer any hold

on you--has nothing to do with you--as you are now.

Rebecca. Ah, my dear, those are mere words, you know. What

about innocence, then? Where am I to get that from?

Rosmer (gloomily). Ah, yes--innocence.

Rebecca. Yes, innocence--which is at the root of all joy

and happiness. That was the teaching, you know, that you

wanted to see realised by all the men you were going to raise

up to nobility and happiness.

Rosmer. Ah, do not remind me of that. It was nothing but a

half-dreamt dream, Rebecca--a rash suggestion that I have

no longer any faith in. Human nature cannot be ennobled by

outside influences, believe me.

Rebecca (gently). Not by a tranquil love, do you think?

Rosmer (thoughtfully). Yes, that would be a splendid thing-

almost the most glorious thing in life, I think if it were so.

(Moves restlessly.) But how am I ever to clear up the question?-

how am I to get to the bottom of it?

Rebecca. Do you not believe in me, John?

Rosmer. Ah, Rebecca, how can I believe you entirely--you whose

life here has been nothing but continual concealment and

secrecy!--And now you have this new tale to tell. If it is

cloaking some design of yours, tell me so--openly. Perhaps there

is something or other that you hope to gain by that means? I will

gladly do anything that I can for you.

Rebecca (wringing her hands). Oh, this killing doubt! John, John--!

Rosmer. Yes, I know, dear--it is horrible--but I cannot help it. I

shall never be able to free myself from it--never be able to feel

certain that your love for me is genuine and pure.

Rebecca. But is there nothing in your own heart that bears

witness to the transformation that has taken place in me--and

taken place through your influence, and yours alone!

Rosmer. Ah, my dear, I do not believe any longer in my power to

transform people. I have no belief in myself left at all. I do

not believe either in myself or in you.

Rebecca (looking darkly at him). How are you going to live out

your life, then?

Rosmer. That is just what I do not know--and cannot imagine. I do

not believe I can live it out. And, moreover, I do not know

anything in the world that would be worth living for.

Rebecca. Life carries a perpetual rebirth with it. Let us hold

fast to it, dear. We shall be finished with it quite soon enough.

Rosmer (getting up restlessly). Then give me my faith back

again!--my faith in you, Rebecca--my faith in your love! Give me a

proof of it! I must have some proof!

Rebecca. Proof? How can I give you a proof--!

Rosmer. You must! (Crosses the room.) I cannot bear this

desolate, horrible loneliness--this-this--. (A knock is heard at

the hall door.)

Rebecca (getting up from her chair). Did you hear that?

(The door opens, and ULRIK BRENDEL comes in. Except that he wears

a white shirt, a black coat and, a good pair of high boots, he is

dressed as in the first act. He looks troubled.)

Rosmer. Ah, it is you, Mr. Brendel!

Brendel. John, my boy, I have come to say good-bye to you!

Rosmer. Where are you going, so late as this?

Brendel. Downhill.

Rosmer. How--?

Brendel. I am on my way home, my beloved pupil. I am homesick for

the great Nothingness.

Rosmer. Something has happened to you, Mr. Brendel! What is it?

Brendel. Ah, you notice the transformation, then? Well, it is

evident enough. The last time I entered your doors I stood before

you a man of substance, slapping a well-filled pocket.

Rosmer. Really? I don't quite understand--

Brendel. And now, as you see me to-night, I am a deposed monarch

standing over the ashes of my burnt-out palace.

Rosmer. If there is any way I can help you

Brendel. You have preserved your childlike heart, John--can you

let me have a loan?

Rosmer. Yes, most willingly!

Brendel. Can you spare me an ideal or two?

Rosmer. What do you say?

Brendel. One or two cast-off ideals? You will be doing a good

deed. I am cleaned out, my dear boy, absolutely and entirely.

Rebecca. Did you not succeed in giving your lecture?

Brendel. No, fair lady. What do you think?--just as I was standing

ready to pour out the contents of my horn in plenty, I made the

painful discovery that I was bankrupt.

Rebecca. But what of all your unwritten works, then?

Brendel. For five and twenty years I have been like a miser

sitting on his locked money-chest. And then to-day, when I opened

it to take out my treasure--there was nothing there! The mills of

time had ground it into dust. There was not a blessed thing left

of the whole lot.

Rosmer. But are you certain of that?

Brendel. There is no room for doubt, my dear boy. The President

has convinced me of that.

Rosmer. The President?

Brendel. Oh, well--His Excellency, then. Ganz nach Belieben.

Rosmer. But whom do you mean?

Brendel. Peter Mortensgaard, of course.

Rosmer. What!

Brendel (mysteriously). Hush, hush, hush! Peter Mortensgaard is

Lord and Chieftain of the Future. I have never stood in a more

august presence. Peter Mortensgaard has the power of omnipotence

in him. He can do whatever he wants.

Rosmer. Oh, come--don't you believe that!

Brendel. It is true, my boy--because Peter Mortensgaard never

wants to do more than he can. Peter Mortensgaard is capable of

living his life without ideals. And that, believe me, is

precisely the great secret of success in life. It sums up all the

wisdom of the world. Basta!

Rosmer (in a low voice). Now I see that you are going away from

here poorer than you came.

Brendel. Bien! Then take an example from your old tutor. Erase

from your mind everything that he imprinted there. Do not build

your castle upon the shifting sand. And look well ahead, and be

sure of your ground, before you build upon the charming creature

who is sweetening your life here.

Rebecca. Do you mean me?

Brendel. Yes, most attractive mermaid!

Rebecca. Why am I not fit to build upon?

Brendel (taking a step nearer to her). I understood that my

former pupil had a cause which it was his life's work to lead to


Rebecca. And if he has--?

Brendel. He is certain of victory--but, be it distinctly

understood, on one unalterable condition.

Rebecca. What is that?

Brendel (taking her gently by the wrist). That the woman who

loves him shall gladly go out into the kitchen and chop off her

dainty, pink and white little finger--here, just at the middle

joint. Furthermore, that the aforesaid loving woman shall--also

gladly--clip off her incomparably moulded left ear. (Lets her go,

and turns to ROSMER.) Good-bye, John the Victorious!

Rosmer. Must you go now--in this dark night?

Brendel. The dark night is best. Peace be with you! (He goes out.

Silence in the room for a short time.)

Rebecca (breathing heavily). How close and sultry it is in here!

(Goes to the window, opens it and stands by it.)

Rosmer (sitting down on a chair by the stove). There is nothing

else for it after all, Rebecca--I can see that. You must go away.

Rebecca. Yes, I do not see that I have any choice.

Rosmer. Let us make use of our last hour together. Come over here

and sit beside me.

Rebecca (goes and sits down on the couch). What do you want,


Rosmer. In the first place I want to tell you that you need have

no anxiety about your future.

Rebecca (with a smile). Hm! My future!

Rosmer. I have foreseen all contingencies--long ago. Whatever may

happen, you are provided for.

Rebecca. Have you even done that for me, dear?

Rosmer. You might have known that I should.

Rebecca. It is many a long day since I thought about anything of

the kind.

Rosmer. Yes, of course. Naturally, you thought things could never

be otherwise between us than as they were.

Rebecca. Yes, that was what I thought.

Rosmer. So did I. But if anything were to happen to me now--

Rebecca. Oh, John, you will live longer than I shall.

Rosmer. I can dispose of my miserable existence as I please, you


Rebecca. What do you mean? You surely are never thinking of--!

Rosmer. Do you think it would be so surprising? After the

pitiful, lamentable defeat I have suffered? I, who was to have

made it my life's work to lead my cause to victory--! And here I

am, a deserter before the fight has even really begun!

Rebecca. Take up the fight again, John! Only try--and you will

see that you will conquer. You will ennoble hundreds--thousands--of

souls. Only try!

Rosmer. I, Rebecca, who no longer believe even in my having a

mission in life?

Rebecca. But your mission has stood the test. You have at all

events ennobled one of your fellow-creatures for the rest of her

life--I mean myself.

Rosmer. Yes--if I dared believe you about that.

Rebecca (wringing her hands). But, John, do you know of nothing--

nothing--that would make you believe that?

Rosmer (starts, as if with fear). Don't venture on that subject!

No further, Rebecca! Not a single word more!

Rebecca. Indeed, that is just the subject we must venture upon.

Do you know of anything that would stifle your doubts? For I know

of nothing in the world.

Rosmer. It is best for you not to know. Best for us both.

Rebecca. No, no, no--I have no patience with that sort of thing!

If you know of anything that would acquit me in your eyes, I

claim it as my right that you should name it.

Rosmer (as if impelled against his will). Well, let us see. You

say that you have great love in your heart; that your soul has

been ennobled through me. Is that so? Have you counted the cost?

Shall we try and balance our accounts? Tell me.

Rebecca. I am quite ready.

Rosmer. Then when shall it be?

Rebecca. Whenever you like. The sooner the better.

Rosmer. Then let me see, Rebecca, whether you--for my sake-this

very night--. (Breaks off.) Oh, no, no!

Rebecca. Yes, John! Yes, yes! Say it, and you shall see.

Rosmer. Have you the courage--are you willing--gladly, as Ulrik

Brendel said--for my sake, to-night--gladly--to go the same way--that

Beata went!

Rebecca (gets up slowly from the couch, and says almost

inaudibly): John--!

Rosmer. Yes, dear--that is the question I shall never be able to

rid my thoughts of, when you have gone away. Every hour of the

day I shall come back to it. Ah, I seem to see you bodily before

me--standing out on the foot-bridge-right out in the middle. Now

you lean out over the railing ! You grow dizzy as you feel drawn

down towards the mill-race! No--you recoil. You dare not do--what

she dared.

Rebecca. But if I had the courage?--and willingly and gladly? What


Rosmer. Then I would believe in you. Then I should get back my

faith in my mission in life--my faith in my power to ennoble my

fellow men--my faith in mankind's power to be ennobled.

Rebecca (takes up her shawl slowly, throws it over her head. and

says, controlling herself): You shall have your faith back.

Rosmer. Have you the courage and the strength of will for that,


Rebecca. Of that you must judge in the morning--or later--when they

take up my body.

Rosmer (burying his head in his hands). There is a horrible

temptation in this--!

Rebecca. Because I should not like to be left lying there--any

longer than need be. You must take care that they find me.

Rosmer (springing up). But all this is madness, you know. Go

away, or stay! I will believe you on your bare word this time


Rebecca. Those are mere words, John. No more cowardice or

evasion! How can you believe me on my bare word after today?

Rosmer. But I do not want to see your defeat, Rebecca.

Rebecca. There will be no defeat.

Rosmer. There will. You will never have the heart to go Beata's


Rebecca. Do you believe that?

Rosmer. Never. You are not like Beata. You are not under the

influence of a distorted view of life.

Rebecca. But I am under the influence of the Rosmersholm view of

Life--now. Whatever my offences are--it is right that I should

expiate them.

Rosmer (looking at her fixedly). Have you come to that decision?

Rebecca. Yes.

Rosmer. Very well. Then I too am under the influence of our

unfettered view of life, Rebecca. There is no one that can judge

us. And therefore we must be our own judges.

Rebecca (misunderstanding his meaning). That too. That too. My

leaving you will save the best that is in you.

Rosmer. Ah, there is nothing left to save in me.

Rebecca. There is. But I--after this I should only be like some

sea-sprite hanging on to the barque you are striving to sail

forward in, and, hampering its progress. I must go overboard. Do

you think I could go through the world bearing the burden of a

spoiled life--brooding for ever over the happiness which I have

forfeited by my past? I must throw up the game, John.

Rosmer. If you go--then I go with you.

Rebecca (looks at him with an almost imperceptible smile, and

says more gently): Yes, come with me, dear--and be witness--

Rosmer. I go with you, I said.

Rebecca. As far as the bridge--yes. You never dare go out on to

it, you know.

Rosmer. Have you noticed that?

Rebecca (in sad and broken tones). Yes. That was what made my

love hopeless.

Rosmer. Rebecca--now I lay my hand on your head. (Does as he

says.) And I take you for my true and lawful wife.

Rebecca (taking both his hands in hers, and bowing her head on to

his breast). Thank you, John. (Lets him go.) And now I am going--


Rosmer. Man and wife should go together.

Rebecca. Only as far as the bridge, John.

Rosmer. And out on to it, too. As far as you go--so far I go with

you. I dare do it now.

Rebecca. Are you absolutely certain that way is the best for you?

Rosmer. I know it is the only way.

Rebecca. But suppose you are only deceiving yourself? Suppose it

were only a delusion--one of these White Horses of Rosmersholm?

Rosmer. It may be so. We can never escape from them--we of my


Rebecca. Then stay, John!

Rosmer. The man shall cleave to his wife, as the wife to her


Rebecca. Yes, but first tell me this--is it you that go with me,

or I that go with you?

Rosmer. We shall never get to the bottom of that.

Rebecca. Yet I should dearly like to know.

Rosmer. We two go with each other, Rebecca. I with you, and you

with me.

Rebecca. I almost believe that is true.

Rosmer. For now we two are one.

Rebecca. Yes. We are one now. Come! We can go gladly now. (They

go out, hand in hand, through the hall, and are seen to turn to

the left. The door stands open after them. The room is empty for

a little while. Then MRS. HELSETH opens the door on the right.)

Mrs. Helseth. The carriage, miss, is--. (Looks round the room.)

Not here? Out together at this time of night? Well, well--I must

say--! Hm! (Goes out into the hall, looks round and comes in

again.) Not sitting on the bench--ah, well! (Goes to the window

and looks out.) Good heavens! What is that white thing--! As I am

a living soul, they are both out on the foot-bridge! God forgive

the sinful creatures--if they are not in each other's arms! (Gives

a wild scream.) Ah!--they are over--both of them! Over into the

mill-race! Help! help! (Her knees tremble, she holds on shakily

to the back of a chair and can scarcely get her words out.) No.

No help here. The dead woman has taken them.