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Pillars of Society
by Henrik Ibsen
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Lona: True, you have achieved a great deal by your work, for yourself as well as for others. You are the richest and most influential man in the town; nobody in it dares do otherwise than defer to your will, because you are looked upon as a man without spot or blemish; your home is regarded as a model home, and your conduct as a model of conduct. But all this grandeur, and you with it, is founded on a treacherous morass. A moment may come and a word may be spoken, when you and all your grandeur will be engulfed in the morass, if you do not save yourself in time.

Bernick: Lona—what is your object in coming here?

Lona: I want to help you to get firm ground under your feet, Karsten.

Bernick: Revenge!—you want to revenge yourself! I suspected it. But you won't succeed! There is only one person here that can speak with authority, and he will be silent.

Lona: You mean Johan?

Bernick: Yes, Johan. If any one else accuses me, I shall deny everything. If any one tries to crush me, I shall fight for my life. But you will never succeed in that, let me tell you! The one who could strike me down will say nothing—and is going away.

(RUMMEL and VIGELAND come in from the right.)

Rummel: Good morning, my dear Bernick, good morning. You must come up with us to the Commercial Association. There is a meeting about the railway scheme, you know.

Bernick: I cannot. It is impossible just now.

Vigeland: You really must, Mr. Bernick.

Rummel: Bernick, you must. There is an opposition to us on foot. Hammer, and the rest of those who believe in a line along the coast, are declaring that private interests are at the back of the new proposals.

Bernick: Well then, explain to them—

Vigeland: Our explanations have no effect, Mr. Bernick.

Rummel: No, no, you must come yourself. Naturally, no one would dare to suspect you of such duplicity.

Lona: I should think not.

Bernick: I cannot, I tell you; I am not well. Or, at all events, wait—let me pull myself together. (RORLUND comes in from the right.)

Rorlund: Excuse me, Mr. Bernick, but I am terribly upset.

Bernick: Why, what is the matter with you?

Rorlund. I must put a question to you, Mr. Bernick. Is it with your consent that the young girl who has found a shelter under your roof shows herself in the open street in the company of a person who—

Lona: What person, Mr. Parson?

Rorlund: With the person from whom, of all others in the world, she ought to be kept farthest apart!

Lona: Ha! ha!

Rorlund: Is it with your consent, Mr. Bernick?

Bernick (looking for his hat and gloves). I know nothing about it. You must excuse me; I am in a great hurry. I am due at the Commercial Association.

(HILMAR comes up from the garden and goes over to the farther door on the left.)

Hilmar: Betty—Betty, I want to speak to you.

Mrs. Bernick (coming to the door): What is it?

Hilmar: You ought to go down into the garden and put a stop to the flirtation that is going on between a certain person and Dina Dorf! It has quite got on my nerves to listen to them.

Lona: Indeed! And what has the certain person been saying?

Hilmar: Oh, only that he wishes she would go off to America with him. Ugh!

Rorlund: Is it possible?

Mrs. Bernick: What do you say?

Lona: But that would be perfectly splendid!

Bernick: Impossible! You cannot have heard right.

Hilmar: Ask him yourself, then. Here comes the pair of them. Only, leave me out of it, please.

Bernick (to RUMMEL and VIGELAND): I will follow you—in a moment. (RUMMEL and VIGELAND go out to the right. JOHAN and DINA come up from the garden.)

Johan: Hurrah, Lona, she is going with us!

Mrs. Bernick: But, Johan—are you out of your senses?

Rorlund: Can I believe my ears! Such an atrocious scandal! By what arts of seduction have you—?

Johan: Come, come, sir—what are you saying?

Rorlund: Answer me, Dina; do you mean to do this—entirely of your own free will?

Dina: I must get away from here.

Rorlund: But with him!—with him!

Dina: Can you tell me of any one else here who would have the courage to take me with him?

Rorlund: Very well, then—you shall learn who he is.

Johan: Do not speak!

Bernick: Not a word more!

Rorlund: If I did not, I should be unworthy to serve a community of whose morals I have been appointed a guardian, and should be acting most unjustifiably towards this young girl, in whose upbringing I have taken a material part, and who is to me—

Johan: Take care what you are doing!

Rorlund: She shall know! Dina, this is the man who was the cause of all your mother's misery and shame.

Bernick: Mr. Rorlund—?

Dina: He! (TO JOHAN.) Is this true?

Johan: Karsten, you answer.

Bernick: Not a word more! Do not let us say another word about it today.

Dina: Then it is true.

Rorlund: Yes, it is true. And more than that, this fellow—whom you were going to trust—did not run away from home empty-handed; ask him about old Mrs. Bernick's cash-box.... Mr. Bernick can bear witness to that!

Lona: Liar

Bernick: Ah!

Mrs. Bernick: My God! my God!

Johan (rushing at RORLUND with uplifted arm): And you dare to—

Lona (restraining him): Do not strike him, Johan!

Rorlund: That is right, assault me! But the truth will out; and it is the truth—Mr. Bernick has admitted it—and the whole town knows it. Now, Dina, you know him. (A short silence.)

Johan (softly, grasping BERNICK by the arm): Karsten, Karsten, what have you done?

Mrs. Bernick (in tears): Oh, Karsten, to think that I should have mixed you up in all this disgrace!

Sandstad (coming in hurriedly from the right, and calling out, with his hand still on the door-handle): You positively must come now, Mr. Bernick. The fate of the whole railway is hanging by a thread.

Bernick (abstractedly): What is it? What have I to—

Lona (earnestly and with emphasis): You have to go and be a pillar of society, brother-in-law.

Sandstad: Yes, come along; we need the full weight of your moral excellence on our side.

Johan (aside, to BERNICK): Karsten, we will have a talk about this tomorrow. (Goes out through the garden. BERNICK, looking half dazed, goes out to the right with SANDSTAD.)



ACT III

(SCENE—The same room. BERNICK, with a cane in his hand and evidently in a great rage, comes out of the farther room on the left, leaving the door half-open behind him.)

Bernick (speaking to his wife, who is in the other room): There! I have given it him in earnest now; I don't think he will forget that thrashing! What do you say?—And I say that you are an injudicious mother! You make excuses for him, and countenance any sort of rascality on his part—Not rascality? What do you call it, then? Slipping out of the house at night, going out in a fishing boat, staying away till well on in the day, and giving me such a horrible fright when I have so much to worry me! And then the young scamp has the audacity to threaten that he will run away! Just let him try it!—You? No, very likely; you don't trouble yourself much about what happens to him. I really believe that if he were to get killed—! Oh, really? Well, I have work to leave behind me in the world; I have no fancy for being left childless—Now, do not raise objections, Betty; it shall be as I say—he is confined to the house. (Listens.) Hush; do not let any one notice anything. (KRAP comes in from the right.)

Krap: Can you spare me a moment, Mr. Bernick?

Bernick (throwing away the cane): Certainly, certainly. Have you come from the yard?

Krap: Yes. Ahem—!

Bernick: Well? Nothing wrong with the "Palm Tree," I hope?

Krap: The "Palm Tree" can sail tomorrow, but

Bernick: It is the "Indian Girl," then? I had a suspicion that that obstinate fellow—

Krap: The "Indian Girl" can sail tomorrow, too; but I am sure she will not get very far.

Bernick: What do you mean?

Krap: Excuse me, sir; that door is standing ajar, and I think there is some one in the other room—

Bernick (shutting the door): There, then! But what is this that no one else must hear?

Krap: Just this—that I believe Aune intends to let the "Indian Girl" go to the bottom with every mother's son on board.

Bernick: Good God!—what makes you think that?

Krap: I cannot account for it any other way, sir.

Bernick: Well, tell me as briefly as you can

Krap: I will. You know yourself how slowly the work has gone on in the yard since we got the new machines and the new inexperienced hands?

Bernick: Yes, yes.

Krap: But this morning, when I went down there, I noticed that the repairs to the American boat had made extraordinary progress; the great hole in the bottom—the rotten patch, you know—

Bernick: Yes, yes—what about it?

Krap: Was completely repaired—to all appearance at any rate, covered up—looked as good as new. I heard that Aune himself had been working at it by lantern light the whole night.

Bernick: Yes, yes—well?

Krap: I turned it over in my head for a bit; the hands were away at their breakfast, so I found an opportunity to have a look around the boat, both outside and in, without anyone seeing me. I had a job to get down to the bottom through the cargo, but I learned the truth. There is something very suspicious going on, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: I cannot believe it, Krap. I cannot and will not believe such a thing of Aune.

Krap: I am very sorry—but it is the simple truth. Something very suspicious is going on. No new timbers put in, as far as I could see, only stopped up and tinkered at, and covered over with sailcloth and tarpaulins and that sort of thing—an absolute fraud. The "Indian Girl" will never get to New York; she will go to the bottom like a cracked pot.

Bernick: This is most horrible! But what can be his object, do you suppose?

Krap: Probably he wants to bring the machines into discredit—wants to take his revenge—wants to force you to take the old hands on again.

Bernick: And to do this he is willing to sacrifice the lives of all on board.

Krap: He said the other day that there were no men on board the "Indian Girl"—only wild beasts.

Bernick: Yes, but—apart from that—has he no regard for the great loss of capital it would mean?

Krap: Aune does not look upon capital with a very friendly eye, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: That is perfectly true; he is an agitator and a fomenter of discontent; but such an unscrupulous thing as this—Look here, Krap; you must look into the matter once more. Not a word of it to any one. The blame will fall on our yard if any one hears anything of it.

Krap: Of course, but—

Bernick: When the hands are away at their dinner you must manage to get down there again; I must have absolute certainty about it.

Krap: You shall, sir; but, excuse me, what do you propose to do?

Bernick: Report the affair, naturally. We cannot, of course, let ourselves become accomplices in such a crime. I could not have such a thing on my conscience. Moreover, it will make a good impression, both on the press and on the public in general, if it is seen that I set all personal interests aside and let justice take its course.

Krap: Quite true, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: But first of all I must be absolutely certain. And meanwhile, do not breathe a word of it.

Krap: Not a word, sir. And you shall have your certainty. (Goes out through the garden and down the street.)

Bernick (half aloud): Shocking!—But no, it is impossible! Inconceivable!

(As he turns to go into his room, HILMAR comes in from the right.)

Hilmar: Good morning, Karsten. Let me congratulate you on your triumph at the Commercial Association yesterday.

Bernick: Thank you.

Hilmar: It was a brilliant triumph, I hear; the triumph of intelligent public spirit over selfishness and prejudice—something like a raid of French troops on the Kabyles. It is astonishing that after that unpleasant scene here, you could—

Bernick: Yes, yes—quite so.

Hilmar: But the decisive battle has not been fought yet.

Bernick: In the matter of the railway, do you mean?

Hilmar: Yes; I suppose you know the trouble that Hammer is brewing?

Bernick (anxiously): No, what is that?

Hilmar: Oh, he is greatly taken up with the rumour that is going around, and is preparing to dish up an article about it.

Bernick: What rumour?

Hilmar: About the extensive purchase of property along the branch line, of course.

Bernick: What? Is there such a rumour as that going about?

Hilmar: It is all over the town. I heard it at the club when I looked in there. They say that one of our lawyers has quietly bought up, on commission, all the forest land, all the mining land, all the waterfalls—

Bernick: Don't they say whom it was for?

Hilmar: At the club they thought it must be for some company, not connected with this town, that has got a hint of the scheme you have in hand, and has made haste to buy before the price of these properties went up. Isn't it villainous?—ugh!

Bernick: Villainous?

Hilmar: Yes, to have strangers putting their fingers into our pie—and one of our own local lawyers lending himself to such a thing! And now it will be outsiders that will get all the profits!

Bernick: But, after all, it is only an idle rumour.

Hilmar: Meanwhile people are believing it, and tomorrow or the next day, I have no doubt Hammer will nail it to the counter as a fact. There is a general sense of exasperation in the town already. I heard several people say that if the rumour were confirmed they would take their names off the subscription lists.

Bernick: Impossible!

Hilmar: Is it? Why do you suppose these mercenary-minded creatures were so willing to go into the undertaking with you? Don't you suppose they have scented profit for themselves—

Bernick: It is impossible, I am sure; there is so much public spirit in our little community—

Hilmar: In our community? Of course you are a confirmed optimist, and so you judge others by yourself. But I, who am a tolerably experienced observer—! There isn't a single soul in the place—excepting ourselves, of course—not a single soul in the place who holds up the banner of the Ideal. (Goes towards the verandah.) Ugh, I can see them there—

Bernick: See whom?

Hilmar: Our two friends from America. (Looks out to the right.) And who is that they are walking with? As I am alive, if it is not the captain of the "Indian Girl." Ugh!

Bernick: What can they want with him?

Hilmar. Oh, he is just the right company for them. He looks as if he had been a slave-dealer or a pirate; and who knows what the other two may have been doing all these years.

Bernick: Let me tell you that it is grossly unjust to think such things about them.

Hilmar: Yes—you are an optimist. But here they are, bearing down upon us again; so I will get away while there is time. (Goes towards the door on the left. LONA comes in from the right.)

Lona: Oh, Hilmar, am I driving you away?

Hilmar: Not at all; I am in rather a hurry; I want to have a word with Betty. (Goes into the farthest room on the left.)

Bernick (after a moment's silence): Well, Lona?

Lona: Yes?

Bernick: What do you think of me today?

Lona: The same as I did yesterday. A lie more or less—

Bernick: I must enlighten you about it. Where has Johan gone?

Lona: He is coming; he had to see a man first.

Bernick: After what you heard yesterday, you will understand that my whole life will be ruined if the truth comes to light.

Lona: I can understand that.

Bernick: Of course, it stands to reason that I was not guilty of the crime there was so much talk about here.

Lona: That stands to reason. But who was the thief?

Bernick: There was no thief. There was no money stolen—not a penny.

Lona: How is that?

Bernick: Not a penny, I tell you.

Lona: But those rumours? How did that shameful rumour get about that Johan—

Bernick: Lona, I think I can speak to you as I could to no one else. I will conceal nothing from you. I was partly to blame for spreading the rumour.

Lona: You? You could act in that way towards a man who for your sake—!

Bernick: Do not condemn me without bearing in mind how things stood at that time. I told you about it yesterday. I came home and found my mother involved in a mesh of injudicious undertakings; we had all manner of bad luck—it seemed as if misfortunes were raining upon us, and our house was on the verge of ruin. I was half reckless and half in despair. Lona, I believe it was mainly to deaden my thoughts that I let myself drift into that entanglement that ended in Johan's going away.

Lona: Hm—

Bernick: You can well imagine how every kind of rumour was set on foot after you and he had gone. People began to say that it was not his first piece of folly—that Dorf had received a large sum of money to hold his tongue and go away; other people said that she had received it. At the same time it was obvious that our house was finding it difficult to meet its obligations. What was more natural than that scandal-mongers should find some connection between these two rumours? And as the woman remained here, living in poverty, people declared that he had taken the money with him to America; and every time rumour mentioned the sum, it grew larger.

Lona: And you, Karsten—?

Bernick: I grasped at the rumour like a drowning man at a straw.

Lona: You helped to spread it?

Bernick: I did not contradict it. Our creditors had begun to be pressing, and I had the task of keeping them quiet. The result was the dissipating of any suspicion as to the stability of the firm; people said that we had been hit by a temporary piece of ill-luck—that all that was necessary was that they should not press us—only give us time and every creditor would be paid in full.

Lona: And every creditor was paid in full?

Bernick: Yes, Lona, that rumour saved our house and made me the man I now am.

Lona: That is to say, a lie has made you the man you now are.

Bernick: Whom did it injure at the time? It was Johan's intention never to come back.

Lona: You ask whom it injured. Look into your own heart, and tell me if it has not injured you.

Bernick: Look into any man's heart you please, and you will always find, in every one, at least one black spot which he has to keep concealed.

Lona: And you call yourselves pillars of society!

Bernick: Society has none better.

Lona: And of what consequence is it whether such a society be propped up or not? What does it all consist of? Show and lies—and nothing else. Here are you, the first man in the town, living in grandeur and luxury, powerful and respected—you, who have branded an innocent man as a criminal.

Bernick: Do you suppose I am not deeply conscious of the wrong I have done him? And do you suppose I am not ready to make amends to him for it?

Lona: How? By speaking out?

Bernick: Would you have the heart to insist on that?

Lona: What else can make amends for such a wrong?

Bernick: I am rich, Lona; Johan can demand any sum he pleases.

Lona: Yes, offer him money, and you will hear what he will say.

Bernick: Do you know what he intends to do?

Lona: No; since yesterday he has been dumb. He looks as if this had made a grown man of him all at once.

Bernick: I must talk to him.

Lona: Here he comes. (JOHAN comes in from the right.)

Bernick (going towards hint): Johan—!

Johan (motioning him away): Listen to me first. Yesterday morning I gave you my word that I would hold my tongue.

Bernick: You did.

Johan: But then I did not know—

Bernick: Johan, only let me say a word or two to explain the circumstances—

Johan: It is unnecessary; I understand the circumstances perfectly. The firm was in a dangerous position at the time; I had gone off, and you had my defenceless name and reputation at your mercy. Well, I do not blame you so very much for what you did; we were young and thoughtless in those days. But now I have need of the truth, and now you must speak.

Bernick: And just now I have need of all my reputation for morality, and therefore I cannot speak.

Johan: I don't take much account of the false reports you spread about me; it is the other thing that you must take the blame of. I shall make Dina my wife, and here—here in your town—I mean to settle down and live with her.

Lona: Is that what you mean to do?

Bernick: With Dina? Dina as your wife?—in this town?

Johan: Yes, here and nowhere else. I mean to stay here to defy all these liars and slanderers. But before I can win her, you must exonerate me.

Bernick: Have you considered that, if I confess to the one thing, it will inevitably mean making myself responsible for the other as well? You will say that I can show by our books that nothing dishonest happened? But I cannot; our books were not so accurately kept in those days. And even if I could, what good would it do? Should I not in any case be pointed at as the man who had once saved himself by an untruth, and for fifteen years had allowed that untruth and all its consequences to stand without having raised a finger to demolish it? You do not know our community very much, or you would realise that it would ruin me utterly.

Johan: I can only tell you that I mean to make Mrs. Dorf's daughter my wife, and live with her in this town.

Bernick (wiping the perspiration from his forehead): Listen to me, Johan—and you too, Lona. The circumstances I am in just now are quite exceptional. I am situated in such a way that if you aim this blow at me you will not only destroy me, but will also destroy a great future, rich in blessings, that lies before the community which, after all, was the home of your childhood.

Johan: And if I do not aim this blow at you, I shall be destroying all my future happiness with my own hand.

Lona: Go on, Karsten.

Bernick: I will tell you, then. It is mixed up with the railway project, and the whole thing is not quite so simple as you think. I suppose you have heard that last year there was some talk of a railway line along the coast? Many influential people backed up the idea—people in the town and the suburbs, and especially the press; but I managed to get the proposal quashed, on the ground that it would have injured our steamboat trade along the coast.

Lona: Have you any interest in the steamboat trade?

Bernick: Yes. But no one ventured to suspect me on that account; my honoured name fully protected me from that. For the matter of that, I could have stood the loss; but the place could not have stood it. So the inland line was decided upon. As soon as that was done, I assured myself—without saying anything about it—that a branch line could be laid to the town.

Lona: Why did you say nothing about it, Karsten?

Bernick: Have you heard the rumours of extensive buying up of forest lands, mines and waterfalls—?

Johan: Yes, apparently it is some company from another part of the country.

Bernick: As these properties are situated at present, they are as good as valueless to their owners, who are scattered about the neighbourhood; they have therefore been sold comparatively cheap. If the purchaser had waited till the branch line began to be talked of, the proprietors would have asked exorbitant prices.

Lona: Well—what then?

Bernick: Now I am going to tell you something that can be construed in different ways—a thing to which, in our community, a man could only confess provided he had an untarnished and honoured name to take his stand upon.

Lona: Well?

Bernick: It is I that have bought up the whole of them.

Lona: You?

Johan: On your own account?

Bernick: On my own account. If the branch line becomes an accomplished fact, I am a millionaire; if it does not, I am ruined.

Lona: It is a big risk, Karsten.

Bernick: I have risked my whole fortune on it.

Lona: I am not thinking of your fortune; but if it comes to light that—

Bernick. Yes, that is the critical part of it. With the unblemished and honoured name I have hitherto borne, I can take the whole thing upon my shoulders, carry it through, and say to my fellow-citizens: "See, I have taken this risk for the good of the community."

Lona: Of the community?

Bernick: Yes; and not a soul will doubt my motives.

Lona: Then some of those concerned in it have acted more openly—without any secret motives or considerations.

Bernick: Who?

Lona: Why, of course, Rummel and Sandstad and Vigeland.

Bernick: To get them on my side I was obliged to let them into the secret.

Lona: And they?

Bernick: They have stipulated for a fifth part of the profits as their share.

Lona: Oh, these pillars of society.

Bernick: And isn't it society itself that forces us to use these underhanded means? What would have happened if I had not acted secretly? Everybody would have wanted to have a hand in the undertaking; the whole thing would have been divided up, mismanaged and bungled. There is not a single man in the town except myself who is capable of directing so big an affair as this will be. In this country, almost without exception, it is only foreigners who have settled here who have the aptitude for big business schemes. That is the reason why my conscience acquits me in the matter. It is only in my hands that these properties can become a real blessing to the many who have to make their daily bread.

Lona: I believe you are right there, Karsten.

Johan: But I have no concern with the many, and my life's happiness is at stake.

Bernick: The welfare of your native place is also at stake. If things come out which cast reflections on my earlier conduct, then all my opponents will fall upon me with united vigour. A youthful folly is never allowed to be forgotten in our community. They would go through the whole of my previous life, bring up a thousand little incidents in it, interpret and explain them in the light of what has been revealed; they would crush me under the weight of rumours and slanders. I should be obliged to abandon the railway scheme; and, if I take my hand off that, it will come to nothing, and I shall be ruined and my life as a citizen will be over.

Lona: Johan, after what we have just heard, you must go away from here and hold your tongue.

Bernick: Yes, yes, Johan—you must!

Johan: Yes, I will go away, and I will hold my tongue; but I shall come back, and then I shall speak.

Bernick: Stay over there, Johan; hold your tongue, and I am willing to share with you—

Johan: Keep your money, but give me back my name and reputation.

Bernick: And sacrifice my own!

Johan: You and your community must get out of that the best way you can. I must and shall win Dina for my wife. And therefore, I am going to sail tomorrow in the "Indian Girl"—

Bernick: In the "Indian Girl"?

Johan: Yes. The captain has promised to take me. I shall go over to America, as I say; I shall sell my farm, and set my affairs in order. In two months I shall be back.

Bernick: And then you will speak?

Johan: Then the guilty man must take his guilt on himself.

Bernick: Have you forgotten that, if I do that, I must also take on myself guilt that is not mine?

Johan: Who is it that for the last fifteen years has benefited by that shameful rumour?

Bernick: You will drive me to desperation! Well, if you speak, I shall deny everything! I shall say it is a plot against me—that you have come here to blackmail me!

Lona: For shame, Karsten!

Bernick: I am a desperate man, I tell you, and I shall fight for my life. I shall deny everything—everything!

Johan: I have your two letters. I found them in my box among my other papers. This morning I read them again; they are plain enough.

Bernick: And will you make them public?

Johan: If it becomes necessary.

Bernick: And you will be back here in two months?

Johan: I hope so. The wind is fair. In three weeks I shall be in New York—if the "Indian Girl" does not go to the bottom.

Bernick (with a start): Go to the bottom? Why should the "Indian Girl" go to the bottom?

Johan: Quite so—why should she?

Bernick (scarcely audibly): Go to the bottom?

Johan: Well, Karsten, now you know what is before you. You must find your own way out. Good-bye! You can say good-bye to Betty for me, although she has not treated me like a sister. But I must see Martha. She shall tell Dina—-; she shall promise me—(Goes out through the farther door on the left.)

Bernick (to himself): The "Indian Girl"—? (Quickly.) Lona, you must prevent that!

Lona: You see for yourself, Karsten—I have no influence over him any longer. (Follows JOHAN into the other room.)

Bernick (a prey to uneasy thoughts): Go to the bottom—?

(AUNE comes in from the right.)

Aune: Excuse me, sir, but if it is convenient—

Bernick (turning round angrily): What do you want?

Aune: To know if I may ask you a question, sir.

Bernick: Be quick about it, then. What is it?

Aune: I wanted to ask if I am to consider it as certain—absolutely certain—that I should be dismissed from the yard if the "Indian Girl" were not ready to sail tomorrow?

Bernick: What do you mean? The ship is ready to sail?

Aune: Yes—it is. But suppose it were not, should I be discharged?

Bernick: What is the use of asking such idle questions?

Aune: Only that I should like to know, sir. Will you answer me that?—should I be discharged?

Bernick: Am I in the habit of keeping my word or not?

Aune: Then tomorrow I should have lost the position I hold in my house and among those near and dear to me—lost my influence over men of my own class—lost all opportunity of doing anything for the cause of the poorer and needier members of the community?

Bernick: Aune, we have discussed all that before.

Aune: Quite so—then the "Indian Girl" will sail.

(A short silence.)

Bernick: Look here—it is impossible for me to have my eyes everywhere—I cannot be answerable for everything. You can give me your assurance, I suppose, that the repairs have been satisfactorily carried out?

Aune: You gave me very short grace, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: But I understand you to warrant the repairs?

Aune: The weather is fine, and it is summer.

(Another pause.)

Bernick: Have you anything else to say to me?

Aune: I think not, sir.

Bernick: Then—the "Indian Girl" will sail...

Aune: Tomorrow?

Bernick: Yes.

Aune: Very good. (Bows and goes out. BERNICK stands for a moment irresolute; then walks quickly towards the door, as if to call AUNE back; but stops, hesitatingly, with his hand on the door-handle. At that moment the door is opened from without, and KRAP comes in.)

Krap (in a low voice): Aha, he has been here. Has he confessed?

Bernick: Hm—; have you discovered anything?

Krap: What need of that, sir? Could you not see the evil conscience looking out of the man's eyes?

Bernick: Nonsense—such things don't show. Have you discovered anything, I want to know?

Krap: I could not manage it; I was too late. They had already begun hauling the ship out of the dock. But their very haste in doing that plainly shows that—

Bernick: It shows nothing. Has the inspection taken place, then?

Krap: Of course; but—

Bernick: There, you see! And of course they found nothing to complain of?

Krap: Mr. Bernick, you know very well how much this inspection means, especially in a yard that has such a good name as ours has.

Bernick: No matter—it takes all responsibility off us.

Krap: But, sir, could you really not tell from Aune's manner that—?

Bernick: Aune has completely reassured me, let me tell you.

Krap: And let me tell you, sir, that I am morally certain that—

Bernick: What does this mean, Krap? I see plainly enough that you want to get your knife into this man; but if you want to attack him, you must find some other occasion. You know how important it is to me—or, I should say, to the owners—that the "Indian Girl" should sail to-morrow.

Krap: Very well—so be it; but if ever we hear of that ship again—hm!

(VIGELAND comes in from the right.)

Vigeland: I wish you a very good morning, Mr. Bernick. Have you a moment to spare?

Bernick: At your service, Mr. Vigeland.

Vigeland: I only want to know if you are also of opinion that the "Palm Tree" should sail tomorrow?

Bernick: Certainly; I thought that was quite settled.

Vigeland: Well, the captain came to me just now and told me that storm signals have been hoisted.

Bernick: Oh! Are we to expect a storm?

Vigeland: A stiff breeze, at all events; but not a contrary wind—just the opposite.

Bernick: Hm—well, what do you say?

Vigeland: I say, as I said to the captain, that the "Palm Tree" is in the hands of Providence. Besides, they are only going across the North Sea at first; and in England, freights are running tolerably high just now, so that—

Bernick: Yes, it would probably mean a loss for us if we waited.

Vigeland: Besides, she is a stout ship, and fully insured as well. It is more risky, now, for the "Indian Girl"—

Bernick: What do you mean?

Vigeland: She sails tomorrow, too.

Bernick: Yes, the owners have been in such a hurry, and, besides—

Vigeland: Well, if that old hulk can venture out—and with such a crew, into the bargain—it would be a disgrace to us if we—

Bernick: Quite so. I presume you have the ship's papers with you.

Vigeland: Yes, here they are.

Bernick: Good; then will you go in with Mr. Krap?

Krap: Will you come in here, sir, and we will dispose of them at once.

Vigeland: Thank you.—And the issue we leave in the hands of the Almighty, Mr. Bernick. (Goes with KRAP into BERNICK'S room. RORLUND comes up from the garden.)

Rorlund: At home at this time of day, Mr. Bernick?

Bernick (lost in thought): As you see.

Rorlund: It was really on your wife's account I came. I thought she might be in need of a word of comfort.

Bernick: Very likely she is. But I want to have a little talk with you, too.

Rorlund: With the greatest of pleasure, Mr. Bernick. But what is the matter with you? You look quite pale and upset.

Bernick: Really? Do I? Well, what else could you expect—a man so loaded with responsibilities as I am? There is all my own big business—and now the planning of this railway.—But tell me something, Mr. Rorlund, let me put a question to you.

Rorlund: With pleasure, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: It is about a thought that has occurred to me. Suppose a man is face to face with an undertaking which will concern the welfare of thousands, and suppose it should be necessary to make a sacrifice of one—?

Rorlund: What do you mean?

Bernick: For example, suppose a man were thinking of starting a large factory. He knows for certain—because all his experience has taught him so—that sooner or later a toll of human life will be exacted in the working of that factory.

Rorlund: Yes, that is only too probable.

Bernick: Or, say a man embarks on a mining enterprise. He takes into his service fathers of families and young men in the first flush of their youth. Is it not quite safe to predict that all of them will not come out of it alive?

Rorlund: Yes, unhappily that is quite true.

Bernick: Well—a man in that position will know beforehand that the undertaking he proposes to start must undoubtedly, at some time or other, mean a loss of human life. But the undertaking itself is for the public good; for every man's life that it costs, it will undoubtedly promote the welfare of many hundreds.

Rorlund: Ah, you are thinking of the railway—of all the dangerous excavating and blasting, and that sort of thing—

Bernick: Yes—quite so—I am thinking of the railway. And, besides, the coming of the railway will mean the starting of factories and mines. But do not think, nevertheless—

Rorlund: My dear Mr. Bernick, you are almost over-conscientious. What I think is that, if you place the affair in the hands of Providence—

Bernick: Yes—exactly; Providence—

Rorlund: You are blameless in the matter. Go on and build your railway hopefully.

Bernick: Yes, but now I will put a special instance to you. Suppose a charge of blasting-powder had to be exploded in a dangerous place, and that unless it were exploded the line could not be constructed? Suppose the engineer knew that it would cost the life of the workman who lit the fuse, but that it had to be lit, and that it was the engineer's duty to send a workman to do it?

Rorlund: Hm—

Bernick: I know what you will say. It would be a splendid thing if the engineer took the match himself and went and lit the fuse. But that is out of the question, so he must sacrifice a workman.

Rorlund: That is a thing no engineer here would ever do.

Bernick: No engineer in the bigger countries would think twice about doing it.

Rorlund: In the bigger countries? No, I can quite believe it. In those depraved and unprincipled communities.

Bernick: Oh, there is a good deal to be said for those communities.

Rorlund: Can you say that?—you, who yourself—

Bernick: In the bigger communities a man finds space to carry out a valuable project—finds the courage to make some sacrifice in a great cause; but here, a man is cramped by all kinds of petty considerations and scruples.

Rorlund: Is human life a petty consideration?

Bernick: When that human life threatens the welfare of thousands.

Rorlund: But you are suggesting cases that are quite inconceivable, Mr. Bernick! I do not understand you at all today. And you quote the bigger countries—well, what do they think of human life there? They look upon it simply as part of the capital they have to use. But we look at things from a somewhat different moral standpoint, I should hope. Look at our respected shipping industry! Can you name a single one of our ship-owners who would sacrifice a human life for the sake of paltry gain? And then think of those scoundrels in the bigger countries, who for the sake of profit send out freights in one unseaworthy ship after another—

Bernick: I am not talking of unseaworthy ships!

Rorlund: But I am, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: Yes, but to what purpose? They have nothing to do with the question—Oh, these small, timid considerations! If a General from this country were to take his men under fire and some of them were shot, I suppose he would have sleepless nights after it! It is not so in other countries. You should bear what that fellow in there says—

Rorlund: He? Who? The American—?

Bernick: Yes. You should hear how in America—

Rorlund: He, in there? And you did not tell me? I shall at once—

Bernick: It is no use; you won't be able to do anything with him.

Rorlund: We shall see. Ah, here he comes. (JOHAN comes in from the other room.)

Johan (talking back through the open door): Yes, yes, Dina—as you please; but I do not mean to give you up, all the same. I shall come back, and then everything will come right between us.

Rorlund: Excuse me, but what did you mean by that? What is it you propose to do?

Johan: I propose that that young girl, before whom you blackened my character yesterday, shall become my wife.

Rorlund: Your wife? And can you really suppose that—?

Johan: I mean to marry her.

Rorlund: Well, then you shall know the truth. (Goes to the half-open door.) Mrs. Bernick, will you be so kind as to come and be a witness—and you too, Miss Martha. And let Dina come. (Sees LONA at the door.) Ah, you here too?

Lona: Shall I come too?

Rorlund: As many as you please—the more the better.

Bernick: What are you going to do? (LONA, MRS. BERNICK, MARTHA, DINA and HILMAR come in from the other room.)

Mrs. Bernick: Mr. Rorlund, I have tried my hardest, but I cannot prevent him...

Rorlund: I shall prevent him, Mrs. Bernick. Dina, you are a thoughtless girl, but I do not blame you so greatly. You have too long lacked the necessary moral support that should have sustained you. I blame myself for not having afforded you that support.

Dina: You mustn't speak now!

Mrs. Bernick: What is it?

Rorlund: It is now that I must speak, Dina, although your conduct yesterday and today has made it ten times more difficult for me. But all other considerations must give way to the necessity for saving you. You remember that I gave you my word; you remember what you promised you would answer when I judged that the right time had come. Now I dare not hesitate any longer, and therefore—. (Turns to JOHAN.) This young girl, whom you are persecuting, is my betrothed.

Mrs. Bernick: What?

Bernick: Dina!

Johan: She? Your—?

Martha: No, no, Dina!

Lona: It is a lie!

Johan: Dina—is this man speaking the truth?

Dina (after a short pause): Yes.

Rorlund: I hope this has rendered all your arts of seduction powerless. The step I have determined to take for Dina's good, I now wish openly proclaimed to every one. I cherish the certain hope that it will not be misinterpreted. And now, Mrs. Bernick, I think it will be best for us to take her away from here, and try to bring back peace and tranquillity to her mind.

Mrs. Bernick: Yes, come with me. Oh, Dina—what a lucky girl you are! (Takes DINA Out to the left; RORLUND follows them.)

Martha: Good-bye, Johan! (Goes out.)

Hilmar (at the verandah door): Hm—I really must say...

Lona (who has followed DINA with her eyes, to JOHAN): Don't be downhearted, my boy! I shall stay here and keep my eye on the parson. (Goes out to the right.)

Bernick: Johan, you won't sail in the "Indian Girl" now?

Johan: Indeed I shall.

Bernick: But you won't come back?

Johan: I am coming back.

Bernick: After this? What have you to do here after this?

Johan: Revenge myself on you all; crush as many of you as I can. (Goes out to the right. VIGELAND and KRAP come in from BERNICK'S room.)

Vigeland: There, now the papers are in order, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: Good, good.

Krap (in a low voice): And I suppose it is settled that the "Indian Girl" is to sail tomorrow?

Bernick: Yes. (Goes into his room. VIGELAND and KRAP go out to the right. HILMAR is just going after them, when OLAF puts his head carefully out of the door on the left.)

Olaf: Uncle! Uncle Hilmar!

Hilmar: Ugh, is it you? Why don't you stay upstairs? You know you are confined to the house.

Olaf (coming a step or two nearer): Hush! Uncle Hilmar, have you heard the news?

Hilmar: Yes, I have heard that you got a thrashing today.

Olaf (looking threateningly towards his father's room): He shan't thrash me any more. But have you heard that Uncle Johan is going to sail tomorrow with the Americans?

Hilmar: What has that got to do with you? You had better run upstairs again.

Olaf: Perhaps I shall be going for a buffalo hunt, too, one of these days, uncle.

Hilmar: Rubbish! A coward like you—

Olaf: Yes—just you wait! You will learn something tomorrow!

Hilmar: Duffer! (Goes out through the garden. OLAF runs into the room again and shuts the door, as he sees KRAP coming in from the right.)

Krap (going to the door of BERNICK'S room and opening it slightly): Excuse my bothering you again, Mr. Bernick; but there is a tremendous storm blowing up. (Waits a moment, but there is no answer.) Is the "Indian Girl" to sail, for all that? (After a short pause, the following answer is heard.)

Bernick (from his room): The "Indian Girl" is to sail, for all that.

(KRAP Shuts the door and goes out again to the right.)



ACT IV

(SCENE—The same room. The work-table has been taken away. It is a stormy evening and already dusk. Darkness sets in as the following scene is in progress. A man-servant is lighting the chandelier; two maids bring in pots of flowers, lamps and candles, which they place on tables and stands along the walls. RUMMEL, in dress clothes, with gloves and a white tie, is standing in the room giving instructions to the servants.)

Rummel: Only every other candle, Jacob. It must not look as if it were arranged for the occasion—it has to come as a surprise, you know. And all these flowers—? Oh, well, let them be; it will probably look as if they stood there everyday. (BERNICK comes out of his room.)

Bernick (stopping at the door): What does this mean?

Rummel: Oh dear, is it you? (To the servants.) Yes, you might leave us for the present. (The servants go out.)

Bernick: But, Rummel, what is the meaning of this?

Rummel: It means that the proudest moment of your life has come. A procession of his fellow citizens is coming to do honour to the first man of the town.

Bernick: What!

Rummel: In procession—with banners and a band! We ought to have had torches too; but we did not like to risk that in this stormy weather. There will be illuminations—and that always sounds well in the newspapers.

Bernick: Listen, Rummel—I won't have anything to do with this.

Rummel: But it is too late now; they will be here in half-an-hour.

Bernick: But why did you not tell me about this before?

Rummel: Just because I was afraid you would raise objections to it. But I consulted your wife; she allowed me to take charge of the arrangements, while she looks after the refreshments.

Bernick (listening): What is that noise? Are they coming already? I fancy I hear singing.

Rummel (going to the verandah door): Singing? Oh, that is only the Americans. The "Indian Girl" is being towed out.

Bernick: Towed out? Oh, yes. No, Rummel, I cannot this evening; I am not well.

Rummel: You certainly do look bad. But you must pull yourself together; devil take it—you must! Sandstad and Vigeland and I all attach the greatest importance to carrying this thing through. We have got to crush our opponents under the weight of as complete an expression of public opinion as possible. Rumours are getting about the town; our announcement about the purchase of the property cannot be withheld any longer. It is imperative that this very evening—after songs and speeches, amidst the clink of glasses—in a word, in an ebullient atmosphere of festivity—you should inform them of the risk you have incurred for the good of the community. In such an ebullient atmosphere of festivity—as I just now described it—you can do an astonishing lot with the people here. But you must have that atmosphere, or the thing won't go.

Bernick: Yes, yes.

Rummel: And especially when so delicate and ticklish a point has to be negotiated. Well, thank goodness, you have a name that will be a tower of strength, Bernick. But listen now; we must make our arrangements, to some extent. Mr. Hilmar Tonnesen has written an ode to you. It begins very charmingly with the words: "Raise the Ideal's banner high!" And Mr. Rorlund has undertaken the task of making the speech of the evening. Of course you must reply to that.

Bernick: I cannot tonight, Rummel. Couldn't you—?

Rummel: It is impossible, however willing I might be; because, as you can imagine, his speech will be especially addressed to you. Of course it is possible he may say a word or two about the rest of us; I have spoken to Vigeland and Sandstad about it. Our idea is that, in replying, you should propose the toast of "Prosperity to our Community"; Sandstad will say a few words on the subject of harmonious relations between the different strata of society; then Vigeland will express the hope that this new undertaking may not disturb the sound moral basis upon which our community stands; and I propose, in a few suitable words, to refer to the ladies, whose work for the community, though more inconspicuous, is far from being without its importance. But you are not listening to me.

Bernick: Yes—indeed I am. But, tell me, do you think there is a very heavy sea running outside?

Rummel: Why, are you nervous about the "Palm Tree"? She is fully insured, you know.

Bernick: Yes, she is insured; but—

Rummel: And in good repair—and that is the main thing.

Bernick: Hm—. Supposing anything does happen to a ship, it doesn't follow that human life will be in danger, does it? The ship and the cargo may be lost—and one might lose one's boxes and papers—

Rummel: Good Lord—boxes and papers are not of much consequence.

Bernick: Not of much consequence! No, no; I only meant—. Hush—I hear voices again.

Rummel: It is on board the "Palm Tree."

(VIGELAND comes in from the right.)

Vigeland: Yes, they are just towing the "Palm Tree" out. Good evening, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: And you, as a seafaring man, are still of opinion that—

Vigeland: I put my trust in Providence, Mr. Bernick. Moreover, I have been on board myself and distributed a few small tracts which I hope may carry a blessing with them.

(SANDSTAD and KRAP come in from the right.)

Sandstad (to some one at the door): Well, if that gets through all right, anything will. (Comes in.) Ah, good evening, good evening!

Bernick: Is anything the matter, Krap?

Krap: I say nothing, Mr. Bernick.

Sandstad: The entire crew of the "Indian Girl" are drunk; I will stake my reputation on it that they won't come out of it alive. (LONA comes in from the right.)

Lona: Ah, now I can say his good-byes for him.

Bernick: Is he on board already?

Lona: He will be directly, at any rate. We parted outside the hotel.

Bernick: And he persists in his intention?

Lona: As firm as a rock.

Rummel (who is fumbling at the window): Confound these new-fangled contrivances; I cannot get the curtains drawn.

Lona: Do you want them drawn? I thought, on the contrary—

Rummel: Yes, drawn at first, Miss Hessel. You know what is in the wind, I suppose?

Lona: Yes. Let me help you. (Takes hold of the cords.) I will draw down the curtains on my brother-in-law—though I would much rather draw them up.

Rummel: You can do that too, later on. When the garden is filled with a surging crowd, then the curtains shall be drawn back, and they will be able to look in upon a surprised and happy family. Citizens' lives should be such that they can live in glass houses! (BERNICK opens his mouth, as though he were going to say something; but he turns hurriedly away and goes into his room.)

Rummel: Come along, let us have a final consultation. Come in, too, Mr. Krap; you must assist us with information on one or two points of detail. (All the men go into BERNICK'S room. LONA has drawn the curtains over the windows, and is just going to do the same over the open glass door, when OLAF jumps down from the room above on to the garden steps; he has a wrap over his shoulders and a bundle in his hand.)

Lona: Bless me, child, how you frightened me!

Olaf (hiding his bundle): Hush, aunt!

Lona: Did you jump out of the window? Where are you going?

Olaf: Hush!—don't say anything. I want to go to Uncle Johan—only on to the quay, you know—only to say goodbye to him. Good-night, aunt! (Runs out through the garden.)

Lona: No—stop! Olaf—Olaf!

(JOHAN, dressed for his journey, with a bag over his shoulder, comes warily in by the door on the right.)

Johan: Lona!

Lona (turning round): What! Back again?

Johan: I have still a few minutes. I must see her once more; we cannot part like this. (The farther door on the left opens, and MARTHA and DINA, both with cloaks on, and the latter carrying a small travelling bag in her hand, come in.)

Dina: Let me go to him! Let me go to him!

Martha: Yes, you shall go to him, Dina!

Dina: There he is!

Johan: Dina!

Dina: Take me with you!

Johan: What—!

Lona: You mean it?

Dina: Yes, take me with you. The other has written to me that he means to announce to everyone this evening.

Johan: Dina—you do not love him?

Dina: I have never loved the man! I would rather drown myself in the fjord than be engaged to him! Oh, how he humiliated me yesterday with his condescending manner! How clear he made it that he felt he was lifting up a poor despised creature to his own level! I do not mean to be despised any longer. I mean to go away. May I go with you?

Johan: Yes, yes—a thousand times, yes!

Dina: I will not be a burden to you long. Only help me to get over there; help me to go the right way about things at first.

Johan: Hurrah, it is all right after all, Dina!

Lona (pointing to BERNICK'S door): Hush!—gently, gently!

Johan: Dina, I shall look after you.

Dina: I am not going to let you do that. I mean to look after myself; over there, I am sure I can do that. Only let me get away from here. Oh, these women!—you don't know—they have written to me today, too—exhorting me to realise my good fortune—impressing on me how magnanimous he has been. Tomorrow, and every day afterwards, they would be watching me to see if I were making myself worthy of it all. I am sick and tired of all this goodness!

Johan: Tell me, Dina—is that the only reason you are coming away? Am I nothing to you?

Dina: Yes, Johan, you are more to me than any one else in the world.

Johan: Oh, Dina—!

Dina: Every one here tells me I ought to hate and detest you—that it is my duty; but I cannot see that it is my duty, and shall never be able to.

Lona: No more you shall, my dear!

Martha: No, indeed you shall not; and that is why you shall go with him as his wife.

Johan: Yes, yes!

Lona: What? Give me a kiss, Martha. I never expected that from you!

Martha: No, I dare say not; I would not have expected it myself. But I was bound to break out some time! Ah, what we suffer under the tyranny of habit and custom! Make a stand against that, Dina. Be his wife. Let me see you defy all this convention.

Johan: What is your answer, Dina?

Dina: Yes, I will be your wife.

Johan: Dina!

Dina: But first of all I want to work—to make something of myself—as you have done. I am not going to be merely a thing that is taken.

Lona: Quite right—that is the way.

Johan: Very well; I shall wait and hope—

Lona: And win, my boy! But now you must get on board!

Johan: Yes, on board! Ah, Lona, my dear sister, just one word with you. Look here— (He takes her into the background and talks hurriedly to her.)

Martha: Dina, you lucky girl, let me look at you, and kiss you once more—for the last time.

Dina: Not for the last time; no, my darling aunt, we shall meet again.

Martha: Never! Promise me, Dina, never to come back! (Grasps her hands and looks at her.) Now go to your happiness, my dear child—across the sea. How often, in my schoolroom, I have yearned to be over there! It must be beautiful; the skies are loftier than here—a freer air plays about your head—

Dina: Oh, Aunt Martha, some day you will follow us.

Martha: I? Never—never. I have my little vocation here, and now I really believe I can live to the full the life that I ought.

Dina: I cannot imagine being parted from you.

Martha: Ah, one can part from much, Dina. (Kisses her.) But I hope you may never experience that, my sweet child. Promise me to make him happy.

Dina: I will promise nothing; I hate promises; things must happen as they will.

Martha: Yes, yes, that is true; only remain what you are—true and faithful to yourself.

Dina: I will, aunt.

Lona (putting into her pocket some papers that JOHAN has given her): Splendid, splendid, my dear boy. But now you must be off.

Johan: Yes, we have no time to waste now. Goodbye, Lona, and thank you for all your love. Goodbye, Martha, and thank you, too, for your loyal friendship.

Martha: Goodbye, Johan! Goodbye, Dina! And may you be happy all your lives! (She and LONA hurry them to the door at the back. JOHAN and DINA go quickly down the steps and through the garden. LONA shuts the door and draws the curtains over it.)

Lona: Now we are alone, Martha. You have lost her and I him.

Martha: You—lost him?

Lona: Oh, I had already half lost him over there. The boy was longing to stand on his own feet; that was why I pretended to be suffering from homesickness.

Martha: So that was it? Ah, then I understand why you came. But he will want you back, Lona.

Lona: An old step-sister—what use will he have for her now? Men break many very dear ties to win their happiness.

Martha: That sometimes is so.

Lona: But we two will stick together, Martha.

Martha: Can I be anything to you?

Lona: Who more so? We two foster-sisters—haven't we both lost our children? Now we are alone.

Martha: Yes, alone. And therefore, you ought to know this too—I loved him more than anything in the world.

Lona: Martha! (Grasps her by the arm.) Is that true?

Martha: All my existence lies in those words. I have loved him and waited for him. Every summer I waited for him to come. And then he came—but he had no eyes for me.

Lona: You loved him! And it was you yourself that put his happiness into his hands.

Martha: Ought I not to be the one to put his happiness into his hands, since I loved him? Yes, I have loved him. All my life has been for him, ever since he went away. What reason had I to hope, you mean? Oh, I think I had some reason, all the same. But when he came back—then it seemed as if everything had been wiped out of his memory. He had no eyes for me.

Lona: It was Dina that overshadowed you, Martha?

Martha: And it is a good thing she did. At the time he went away, we were of the same age; but when I saw him again—oh, that dreadful moment!—I realised that now I was ten years older than he. He had gone out into the bright sparkling sunshine, and breathed in youth and health with every breath; and here I sat meanwhile, spinning and spinning—

Lona: Spinning the thread of his happiness, Martha.

Martha: Yes, it was a golden thread I spun. No bitterness! We have been two good sisters to him, haven't we, Lona?

Lona (throwing her arms round her): Martha!

(BERNICK comes in from his room.)

Bernick (to the other men, who are in his room): Yes, yes, arrange it any way you please. When the time comes, I shall be able to—. (Shuts the door.) Ah, you are here. Look here, Martha—I think you had better change your dress; and tell Betty to do the same. I don't want anything elaborate, of course—something homely, but neat. But you must make haste.

Lona: And a bright, cheerful face, Martha; your eyes must look happy.

Bernick: Olaf is to come downstairs too; I will have him beside me.

Lona: Hm! Olaf.

Martha: I will give Betty your message. (Goes out by the farther door on the left.)

Lona: Well, the great and solemn moment is at hand.

Bernick (walking uneasily up and down): Yes, it is.

Lona: At such a moment I should think a man would feel proud and happy.

Bernick (looking at her): Hm!

Lona: I hear the whole town is to be illuminated.

Bernick: Yes, they have some idea of that sort.

Lona: All the different clubs will assemble with their banners—your name will blaze out in letters of fire—tonight the telegraph will flash the news to every part of the country: "In the bosom of his happy family, Mr. Bernick received the homage of his fellow citizens, as one of the pillars of society."

Bernick: That is so; and they will begin to cheer outside, and the crowd will shout in front of my house until I shall be obliged to go out and bow to them and thank them.

Lona: Obliged to?

Bernick. Do you suppose I shall feel happy at that moment?

Lona: No, I don't suppose you will feel so very happy.

Bernick: Lona, you despise me.

Lona: Not yet.

Bernick: And you have no right to; no right to despise me! Lona, you can have no idea how utterly alone I stand in this cramped and stunted community—where I have had, year after year, to stifle my ambition for a fuller life. My work may seem many-sided, but what have I really accomplished? Odds and ends—scraps. They would not stand anything else here. If I were to go a step in advance of the opinions and views that are current at the moment, I should lose all my influence. Do you know what we are—we who are looked upon as pillars of society? We are nothing more, nor less, than the tools of society.

Lona: Why have you only begun to realise that now?

Bernick: Because I have been thinking a great deal lately—since you came back—and this evening I have thought more seriously than ever before. Oh, Lona, why did not I really know you then—in the old days, I mean?

Lona: And if you had?

Bernick: I should never have let you go; and, if I had had you, I should not be in the position I am in tonight.

Lona: And do you never consider what she might have been to you—she whom you chose in my place?

Bernick: I know, at all events, that she has been nothing to me of what I needed.

Lona: Because you have never shared your interests with her; because you have never allowed her full and frank exchange of thoughts with you; because you have allowed her to be borne under by self-reproach for the shame you cast upon one who was dear to her.

Bernick: Yes, yes; it all comes from lying and deceit.

Lona: Then why not break with all this lying and deceit?

Bernick: Now? It is too late now, Lona.

Lona: Karsten, tell me—what gratification does all this show and deception bring you?

Bernick: It brings me none. I must disappear someday, and all this community of bunglers with me. But a generation is growing up that will follow us; it is my son that I work for—I am providing a career for him. There will come a time when truth will enter into the life of the community, and on that foundation he shall build up a happier existence than his father.

Lona: With a lie at the bottom of it all? Consider what sort of an inheritance it is that you are leaving to your son.

Bernick (in tones of suppressed despair): It is a thousand times worse than you think. But surely some day the curse must be lifted; and yet—nevertheless—. (Vehemently.) How could I bring all this upon my own head! Still, it is done now; I must go on with it now. You shall not succeed in crushing me! (HILMAR comes in hurriedly and agitatedly from the right, with an open letter in his hand.)

Hilmar: But this is—Betty, Betty.

Bernick: What is the matter? Are they coming already?

Hilmar: No, no—but I must speak to some one immediately. (Goes out through the farther door on the left.)

Lona: Karsten, you talk about our having come here to crush you. So let me tell you what sort of stuff this prodigal son, whom your moral community shuns as if he had the plague, is made of. He can do without any of you—for he is away now.

Bernick: But he said he meant to come back

Lona: Johan will never come back. He is gone for good, and Dina with him.

Bernick: Never come back?—and Dina with him?

Lona: Yes, to be his wife. That is how these two strike your virtuous community in the face, just as I did once—but never mind that.

Bernick: Gone—and she too—in the "Indian Girl"—

Lona: No; he would not trust so precious a freight to that rascally crew. Johan and Dina are on the "Palm Tree."

Bernick: Ah! Then it is all in vain— (Goes hurriedly to the door of his room, opens it and calls in.) Krap, stop the "Indian Girl"—she must not sail tonight!

Krap (from within): The "Indian Girl" is already standing out to sea, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick (shutting the door and speaking faintly): Too late—and all to no purpose—

Lona: What do you mean?

Bernick: Nothing, nothing. Leave me alone!

Lona: Hm!—look here, Karsten. Johan was good enough to say that he entrusted to me the good name and reputation that he once lent to you, and also the good name that you stole from him while he was away. Johan will hold his tongue; and I can act just as I please in the matter. See, I have two letters in my hand.

Bernick: You have got them! And you mean now—this very evening-perhaps when the procession comes—

Lona: I did not come back here to betray you, but to stir your conscience so that you should speak of your own free will. I did not succeed in doing that—so you must remain as you are, with your life founded upon a lie. Look, I am tearing your two letters in pieces. Take the wretched things—there you are. Now there is no evidence against you, Karsten. You are safe now; be happy, too—if you can.

Bernick (much moved): Lona—why did you not do that sooner! Now it is too late; life no longer seems good to me; I cannot live on after today.

Lona: What has happened?

Bernick: Do not ask me—But I must live on, nevertheless! I will live—for Olaf's sake. He shall make amends for everything—expiate everything.

Lona: Karsten—! (HILMAR comes hurriedly back.)

Hilmar: I cannot find anyone; they are all out—even Betty!

Bernick: What is the matter with you?

Hilmar: I daren't tell you.

Bernick: What is it? You must tell me!

Hilmar: Very well—Olaf has run away, on board the "Indian Girl."

Bernick (stumbling back): Olaf—on board the "Indian Girl"! No, no!

Lona: Yes, he is! Now I understand—I saw him jump out of the window.

Bernick (calls in through the door of his room in a despairing voice): Krap, stop the "Indian Girl" at any cost!

Krap: It is impossible, sir. How can you suppose—?

Bernick: We must stop her; Olaf is on board!

Krap: What!

Rummel (coming out of BERNICK'S room): Olaf, run away? Impossible!

Sandstad (following him): He will be sent back with the pilot, Mr. Bernick.

Hilmar: No, no; he has written to me. (Shows the letter.) He says he means to hide among the cargo till they are in the open sea.

Bernick: I shall never see him again!

Rummel: What nonsense!—a good strong ship, newly repaired...

Vigeland (who has followed the others out of BERNICK'S room): And in your own yard, Mr. Bernick!

Bernick: I shall never see him again, I tell you. I have lost him, Lona; and—I see it now—he never was really mine. (Listens.) What is that?

Rummel: Music. The procession must be coming.

Bernick. I cannot take any part in it—I will not.

Rummel: What are you thinking of! That is impossible.

Sandstad: Impossible, Mr. Bernick; think what you have at stake.

Bernick: What does it all matter to me now? What have I to work for now?

Rummel: Can you ask? You have us and the community.

Vigeland: Quite true.

Sandstad: And surely, Mr. Bernick, you have not forgotten that we—.(MARTHA comes in through the farther door to the left. Music is heard in the distance, down the street.)

Martha: The procession is just coming, but Betty is not in the house. I don't understand where she—

Bernick: Not in the house! There, you see, Lona—no support to me, either in gladness or in sorrow.

Rummel: Draw back the curtains! Come and help me, Mr. Krap—and you, Mr. Sandstad. It is a thousand pities that the family should not be united just now; it is quite contrary to the program. (They draw back all the curtains. The whole street is seen to be illuminated. Opposite the house is a large transparency, bearing the words: "Long live Karsten Bernick, Pillar of our Society ")

Bernick (shrinking back): Take all that away! I don't want to see it! Put it out, put it out!

Rummel: Excuse me, Mr. Bernick, but are you not well?

Martha: What is the matter with him, Lona?

Lona: Hush! (Whispers to her.)

Bernick: Take away those mocking words, I tell you! Can't you see that all these lights are grinning at us?

Rummel: Well, really, I must confess—

Bernick: Oh, how could you understand—! But I, I—! It is all like candles in a dead-room!

Rummel: Well, let me tell you that you are taking the thing a great deal too seriously.

Sandstad: The boy will enjoy a trip across the Atlantic, and then you will have him back.

Vigeland: Only put your trust in the Almighty, Mr. Bernick.

Rummel: And in the vessel, Bernick; it is not likely to sink, I know.

Krap: Hm—

Rummel: Now if it were one of those floating coffins that one hears are sent out by men in the bigger countries—

Bernick: I am sure my hair must be turning grey—

(MRS. BERNICK comes in from the garden, with a shawl thrown over her head.)

Mrs. Bernick: Karsten, Karsten, do you know—?

Bernick: Yes. I know; but you—you, who see nothing that is going on—you, who have no mother's eyes for your son—!

Mrs. Bernick: Listen to me, do!

Bernick: Why did you not look after him? Now I have lost him. Give him back to me, if you can.

Mrs. Bernick: I can! I have got him.

Bernick: You have got him!

The Men: Ah!

Hilmar: Yes, I thought so.

Martha: You have got him back, Karsten.

Lona: Yes—make him your own, now.

Bernick: You have got him! Is that true? Where is he?

Mrs. Bernick: I shall not tell you, till you have forgiven him.

Bernick: Forgiven! But how did you know—?

Mrs. Bernick: Do you not think a mother sees? I was in mortal fear of your getting to know anything about it. Some words he let fall yesterday—and then his room was empty, and his knapsack and clothes missing...

Bernick: Yes, yes?

Mrs. Bernick: I ran, and got hold of Aune; we went out in his boat; the American ship was on the point of sailing. Thank God, we were in time—got on board—searched the hold—found him! Oh, Karsten, you must not punish him!

Bernick: Betty!

Mrs. Bernick: Nor Aune, either!

Bernick: Aune? What do you know about him? Is the "Indian Girl" under sail again?

Mrs. Bernick: No, that is just it.

Bernick: Speak, speak!

Mrs. Bernick: Aune was just as agitated as I was; the search took us some time; it had grown dark, and the pilot made objections; and so Aune took upon himself—in your name—

Bernick: Well?

Mrs. Bernick: To stop the ship's sailing till tomorrow.

Krap: Hm—

Bernick: Oh, how glad I am!

Mrs. Bernick: You are not angry?

Bernick: I cannot tell you how glad I am, Betty

Rummel: You really take things far too seriously.

Hilmar: Oh yes, as soon as it is a question of a little struggle with the elements—ugh!

Krap (going to the window): The procession is just coming through your garden gate, Mr. Bernick.

Bernick: Yes, they can come now.

Rummel: The whole garden is full of people.

Sandstad: The whole street is crammed.

Rummel: The whole town is afoot, Bernick. It really is a moment that makes one proud.

Vigeland: Let us take it in a humble spirit, Mr. Rummel.

Rummel: All the banners are out! What a procession! Here comes the committee with Mr. Rorlund at their head.

Bernick: Yes, let them come in!

Rummel: But, Bernick—in your present agitated frame of mind—

Bernick: Well, what?

Rummel: I am quite willing to speak instead of you, if you like.

Bernick: No, thank you; I will speak for myself tonight.

Rummel: But are you sure you know what to say?

Bernick: Yes, make your mind easy, Rummel—I know now what to say.

(The music grows louder. The verandah door is opened. RORLUND comes in, at the head of the Committee, escorted by a couple of hired waiters, who carry a covered basket. They are followed by townspeople of all classes, as many as can get into the room. An apparently endless crowd of people, waving banners and flags, are visible in the garden and the street.)

Rorlund: Mr. Bernick! I see, from the surprise depicted upon your face, that it is as unexpected guests that we are intruding upon your happy family circle and your peaceful fireside, where we find you surrounded by honoured and energetic fellow citizens and friends. But it is our hearts that have bidden us come to offer you our homage—not for the first time, it is true, but for the first time on such a comprehensive scale. We have on many occasions given you our thanks for the broad moral foundation upon which you have, so to speak, reared the edifice of our community. On this occasion we offer our homage especially to the clear-sighted, indefatigable, unselfish—nay, self-sacrificing citizen who has taken the initiative in an undertaking which, we are assured on all sides, will give a powerful impetus to the temporal prosperity and welfare of our community.

Voices: Bravo, bravo!

Rorlund: You, sir, have for many years been a shining example in our midst. This is not the place for me to speak of your family life, which has been a model to us all; still less to enlarge upon your unblemished personal character. Such topics belong to the stillness of a man's own chamber, not to a festal occasion such as this! I am here to speak of your public life as a citizen, as it lies open to all men's eyes. Well-equipped vessels sail away from your shipyard and carry our flag far and wide over the seas. A numerous and happy band of workmen look up to you as to a father. By calling new branches of industry into existence, you have laid the foundations of the welfare of hundreds of families. In a word—you are, in the fullest sense of the term, the mainstay of our community.

Voices: Hear, hear! Bravo!

Rorlund: And, sir, it is just that disinterestedness, which colours all your conduct, that is so beneficial to our community—more so than words can express—and especially at the present moment. You are now on the point of procuring for us what I have no hesitation in calling bluntly by its prosaic name—a railway!

Voices: Bravo, bravo!

Rorlund: But it would seem as though the undertaking were beset by certain difficulties, the outcome of narrow and selfish considerations.

Voices: Hear, hear!

Rorlund: For the fact has come to light that certain individuals, who do not belong to our community, have stolen a march upon the hard-working citizens of this place, and have laid hands on certain sources of profit which by rights should have fallen to the share of our town.

Voices: That's right! Hear, hear!

Rorlund: This regrettable fact has naturally come to your knowledge also, Mr. Bernick. But it has not had the slightest effect in deterring you from proceeding steadily with your project, well knowing that a patriotic man should not solely take local interests into consideration.

Voices: Oh!—No, no!—Yes, yes!

Rorlund: It is to such a man—to the patriot citizen, whose character we all should emulate—that we bring our homage this evening. May your undertaking grow to be a real and lasting source of good fortune to this community! It is true enough that a railway may be the means of our exposing ourselves to the incursion of pernicious influences from without; but it gives us also the means of quickly expelling them from within. For even we, at the present time, cannot boast of being entirely free from the danger of such outside influences; but as we have, on this very evening—if rumour is to be believed—fortunately got rid of certain elements of that nature, sooner than was to be expected—

Voices: Order, order!

Rorlund:—I regard the occurrence as a happy omen for our undertaking. My alluding to such a thing at such a moment only emphasises the fact that the house in which we are now standing is one where the claims of morality are esteemed even above ties of family.

Voices: Hear, hear! Bravo!

Bernick (at the same moment): Allow me—

Rorlund: I have only a few more words to say, Mr. Bernick. What you have done for your native place we all know has not been done with any underlying idea of its bringing tangible profit to yourself. But, nevertheless, you must not refuse to accept a slight token of grateful appreciation at the hands of your fellow-citizens—least of all at this important moment when, according to the assurances of practical men, we are standing on the threshold of a new era.

Voices: Bravo! Hear, hear!

(RORLUND signs to the servants, who bring forward the basket. During the following speech, members of the Committee take out and present the various objects mentioned.)

Rorlund: And so, Mr. Bernick, we have the pleasure of presenting you with this silver coffee-service. Let it grace your board when in the future, as so often in the past, we have the happiness of being assembled under your hospitable roof. You, too, gentlemen, who have so generously seconded the leader of our community, we ask to accept a small souvenir. This silver goblet is for you, Mr. Rummel. Many a time have you, amidst the clink of glasses, defended the interests of your fellow-citizens in well-chosen words; may you often find similar worthy opportunities to raise and empty this goblet in some patriotic toast! To you, Mr. Sandstad, I present this album containing photographs of your fellow-citizens. Your well-known and conspicuous liberality has put you in the pleasant position of being able to number your friends amongst all classes of society. And to you, Mr. Vigeland, I have to offer this book of Family Devotions, printed on vellum and handsomely bound, to grace your study table. The mellowing influence of time has led you to take an earnest view of life; your zeal in carrying out your daily duties has, for a long period of years, been purified and enobled by thoughts of higher and holier things. (Turns to the crowd.) And now, friends, three cheers for Mr. Bernick and his fellow-workers! Three cheers for the Pillars of our Society!

The whole crowd: Bernick! Pillars of Society! Hurrah-hurrah-hurrah!

Lona: I congratulate you, brother-in-law.

(An expectant hush follows.)

Bernick (speaking seriously and slowly): Fellow citizens—your spokesman said just now that tonight we are standing on the threshold of a new era. I hope that will prove to be the case. But before that can come to pass, we must lay fast hold of truth—truth which, till tonight, has been altogether and in all circumstances a stranger to this community of ours. (Astonishment among the audience.) To that end, I must begin by deprecating the praises with which you, Mr. Rorlund, according to custom on such occasions, have overwhelmed me. I do not deserve them; because, until today, my actions have by no means been disinterested. Even though I may not always have aimed at pecuniary profit, I at all events recognise now that a craving for power, influence and position has been the moving spirit of most of my actions.

Rummel (half aloud): What next!

Bernick: Standing before my fellow citizens, I do not reproach myself for that; because I still think I am entitled to a place in the front rank of our capable men of affairs.

Voices: Yes, yes, yes!

Bernick: But what I charge myself with is that I have so often been weak enough to resort to deceitfulness, because I knew and feared the tendency of the community to espy unclean motives behind everything a prominent man here undertakes. And now I am coming to a point which will illustrate that.

Rummel (uneasily): Hm-hm!

Bernick: There have been rumours of extensive purchases of property outside the town. These purchases have been made by me—by me alone, and by no one else. (Murmurs are heard: "What does he say?—He?—Bernick?") The properties are, for the time being, in my hands. Naturally I have confided in my fellow-workers, Mr. Rummel, Mr. Vigeland and Mr. Sandstad, and we are all agreed that—

Rummel: It is not true! Prove it—prove it!

Vigeland: We are not all agreed about anything!

Sandstad: Well, really I must say—!

Bernick: That is quite true—we are not yet agreed upon the matter I was going to mention. But I confidently hope that these three gentlemen will agree with me when I announce to you that I have tonight come to the decision that these properties shall be exploited as a company of which the shares shall be offered for public subscription; any one that wishes can take shares.

Voices: Hurrah! Three cheers for Bernick!

Rummel (in a low voice, to BERNICK): This is the basest treachery—!

Sandstad (also in an undertone): So you have been fooling us!

Vigeland: Well, then, devil take—! Good Lord, what am I saying? (Cheers are heard without.)

Bernick: Silence, gentlemen. I have no right to this homage you offer me; because the decision I have just come to does not represent what was my first intention. My intention was to keep the whole thing for myself; and, even now, I am of opinion that these properties would be worked to best advantage if they remained in one man's hands. But you are at liberty to choose. If you wish it, I am willing to administer them to the best of my abilities.

Voices: Yes, yes, yes!

Bernick: But, first of all, my fellow townsmen must know me thoroughly. And let each man seek to know himself thoroughly, too; and so let it really come to pass that tonight we begin a new era. The old era—with its affectation, its hypocrisy and its emptiness, its pretence of virtue and its miserable fear of public opinion—shall be for us like a museum, open for purposes of instruction; and to that museum we will present—shall we not, gentlemen?—the coffee service, and the goblet, and the album, and the Family Devotions printed on vellum, and handsomely bound.

Rummel: Oh, of course.

Vigeland (muttering): If you have taken everything else, then—

Sandstad: By all means.

Bernick: And now for the principal reckoning I have to make with the community. Mr. Rorlund said that certain pernicious elements had left us this evening. I can add what you do not yet know. The man referred to did not go away alone; with him, to become his wife, went—

Lona (loudly): Dina Dorf!

Rorlund: What?

Mrs. Bernick: What? (Great commotion.)

Rorlund: Fled? Run away—with him! Impossible!

Bernick: To become his wife, Mr. Rorlund. And I will add more. (In a low voice, to his wife.) Betty, be strong to bear what is coming. (Aloud.) This is what I have to say: hats off to that man, for he has nobly taken another's guilt upon his shoulders. My friends, I want to have done with falsehood; it has very nearly poisoned every fibre of my being. You shall know all. Fifteen years ago, I was the guilty man.

Mrs. Bernick (softly and tremblingly): Karsten!

Martha (similarly): Ah, Johan—!

Lona: Now at last you have found yourself!

(Speechless consternation among the audience.)

Bernick: Yes, friends, I was the guilty one, and he went away. The vile and lying rumours that were spread abroad afterwards, it is beyond human power to refute now; but I have no right to complain of that. For fifteen years I have climbed up the ladder of success by the help of those rumours; whether now they are to cast me down again, or not, each of you must decide in his own mind.

Rorlund: What a thunderbolt! Our leading citizen—! (In a low voice, to BETTY.) How sorry I am for you, Mrs. Bernick!

Hilmar: What a confession! Well, I must say—!

Bernick: But come to no decision tonight. I entreat every one to go home—to collect his thoughts—to look into his own heart. When once more you can think calmly, then it will be seen whether I have lost or won by speaking out. Goodbye! I have still much—very much—to repent of; but that concerns my own conscience only. Good night! Take away all these signs of rejoicing. We must all feel that they are out of place here.

Rorlund: That they certainly are. (In an undertone to MRS. BERNICK.) Run away! So then she was completely unworthy of me. (Louder, to the Committee.) Yes, gentlemen, after this I think we had better disperse as quietly as possible.

Hilmar: How, after this, any one is to manage to hold the Ideal's banner high—Ugh!

(Meantime the news has been whispered from mouth to mouth. The crowd gradually disperses from the garden. RUMMEL, SANDSTAD and VIGELAND go out, arguing eagerly but in a low voice. HILMAR slinks away to the right. When silence is restored, there only remain in the room BERNICK, MRS. BERNICK, MARTHA, LONA and KRAP.)

Bernick: Betty, can you forgive me?

Mrs. Bernick (looking at him with a smile): Do you know, Karsten, that you have opened out for me the happiest prospect I have had for many a year?

Bernick: How?

Mrs. Bernick: For many years, I have felt that once you were mine and that I had lost you. Now I know that you never have been mine yet; but I shall win you.

Bernick (folding her in his arms): Oh, Betty, you have won me. It was through Lona that I first learned really to know you. But now let Olaf come to me.

Mrs. Bernick: Yes, you shall have him now. Mr. Krap—! (Talks softly to KRAP in the background. He goes out by the garden door. During what follows, the illuminations and lights in the houses are gradually extinguished.)

Bernick (in a low voice): Thank you, Lona—you have saved what was best in me—and for me.

Lona: Do you suppose I wanted to do anything else?

Bernick: Yes, was that so—or not? I cannot quite make you out.

Lona: Hm—

Bernick: Then it was not hatred? Not revenge? Why did you come back, then?

Lona: Old friendship does not rust.

Bernick: Lona!

Lona: When Johan told me about the lie, I swore to myself that the hero of my youth should stand free and true.

Bernick: What a wretch I am!—and how little I have deserved it of you!

Lona. Oh, if we women always looked for what we deserve, Karsten—! (AUNE comes in with OLAF from the garden.)

Bernick (going to meet them): Olaf!

Olaf: Father, I promise I will never do it again—

Bernick: Never run away?

Olaf: Yes, yes, I promise you, father.

Bernick: And I promise you, you shall never have reason to. For the future you shall be allowed to grow up, not as the heir to my life's work, but as one who has his own life's work before him.

Olaf: And shall I be allowed to be what I like, when I grow up?

Bernick: Yes.

Olaf. Oh, thank you! Then I won't be a pillar of society.

Bernick: No? Why not?

Olaf: No—I think it must be so dull.

Bernick: You shall be yourself, Olaf; the rest may take care of itself—And you, Aune...

Aune: I know, Mr. Bernick; I am dismissed.

Bernick: We remain together, Aune; and forgive me.

Aune: What? The ship has not sailed tonight.

Bernick: Nor will it sail tomorrow, either. I gave you too short grace. It must be looked to more thoroughly.

Aune: It shall, Mr. Bernick—and with the new machines!

Bernick: By all means—but thoroughly and conscientiously. There are many among us who need thorough and conscientious repairs, Aune. Well, good night.

Aune: Good-night, sir—and thank you, thank you. (Goes out.)

Mrs. Bernick: Now they are all gone.

Bernick: And we are alone. My name is not shining in letters of fire any longer; all the lights in the windows are out.

Lona: Would you wish them lit again?

Bernick: Not for anything in the world. Where have I been! You would be

horrified if you knew. I feel now as if I had come back to my right senses, after being poisoned. But I feel this that I can be young and healthy again. Oh, come nearer—come closer round me. Come, Betty! Come, Olaf, my boy! And you, Martha—it seems to me as if I had never seen you all these years.

Lona: No, I can believe that. Your community is a community of bachelor souls; you do not see women.

Bernick: That is quite true; and for that very reason—this is a bargain, Lona—you must not leave Betty and me.

Mrs. Bernick: No, Lona, you must not.

Lona: No, how could I have the heart to go away and leave you young people who are just setting up housekeeping? Am I not your foster-mother? You and I, Martha, the two old aunts— What are you looking at?

Martha: Look how the sky is clearing, and how light it is over the sea. The "Palm Tree" is going to be lucky.

Lona: It carries its good luck on board.

Bernick: And we—we have a long earnest day of work ahead of us; I most of all. But let it come; only keep close round me you true, loyal women. I have learned this too, in these last few days; it is you women that are the pillars of society.

Lona: You have learned a poor sort of wisdom, then, brother-in-law. (Lays her hand firmly upon his shoulder.) No, my friend; the spirit of truth and the spirit of freedom—they are the pillars of society.

THE END

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