Hedda Gabler - Act II
by Henrik Ibsen
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ACT II
SCENE - The Tesman's villa, in the west end of Christiania.

The room at the TESMANS' as in the first Act, except that the piano has been removed, and an elegant little writing-table with the book-shelves put in its place. A smaller table stands near the sofa on the left. Most of the bouquets have been taken away. MRS. ELVSTED'S bouquet is upon the large table in front.--It is afternoon.

HEDDA, dressed to receive callers, is alone in the room. She stands by the open glass door, loading a revolver. The fellow to it lies in an open pistol-case on the writing- table.

Hedda[Looks down the garden, and calls:]
So you are here again, Judge!
Judge Brack[Is heard calling from a distance.]
As you see, Mrs. Tesman!
Hedda[Raises the pistol and points.]
Now I'll shoot you, Judge Brack!
Judge Brack[Calling unseen.]
No, no, no! Don't stand aiming at me!
HeddaThis is what comes of sneaking in by the back way.
[She fires.]
Judge Brack[Nearer.]
Are you out of your senses---!
HeddaDear me--did I happen to hit you?
Judge Brack[Still outside.]
I wish you would let these pranks alone!
HeddaCome in then, Judge. JUDGE BRACK, dressed as though for a men's party, enters by the glass door. He carries a light overcoat over his arm.
Judge BrackWhat the deuce--haven't you tired of that sport, yet? What are you shooting at?
HeddaOh, I am only firing in the air.
Judge Brack[Gently takes the pistol out of her hand.]
Allow me, madam!
[Looks at it.]
Ah--I know this pistol well!
[Looks around.]
Where is the case? Ah, here it is.
[Lays the pistol in it, and shuts it.]
Now we won't play at that game any more to-day.
HeddaThen what in heaven's name would you have me do with myself?
Judge BrackHave you had no visitors?
Hedda[Closing the glass door.]
Not one. I suppose all our set are still out of town.
Judge BrackAnd is Tesman not at home either?
Hedda[At the writing-table, putting the pistol-case in a drawer which she shuts.]
No. He rushed off to his aunt's directly after lunch; he didn't expect you so early.
Judge BrackH'm--how stupid of me not to have thought of that!
Hedda[Turning her head to look at him.]
Why stupid?
Judge BrackBecause if I had thought of it I should have come a little--earlier.
Hedda[Crossing the room.]
Then you would have found no one to receive you; for I have been in my room changing my dress ever since lunch.
Judge BrackAnd is there no sort of little chink that we could hold a parley through?
HeddaYou have forgotten to arrange one.
Judge BrackThat was another piece of stupidity.
HeddaWell, we must just settle down here--and wait. Tesman is not likely to be back for some time yet.
Judge BrackNever mind; I shall not be impatient. HEDDA seats herself in the corner of the sofa. BRACK lays his overcoat over the back of the nearest chair, and sits down, but keeps his hat in his hand. A short silence. They look at each other.
HeddaWell?
Judge Brack[In the same tone.]
Well?
HeddaI spoke first.
Judge Brack[Bending a little forward.]
Come, let us have a cosy little chat, Mrs. Hedda.
Hedda[Leaning further back in the sofa.]
Does it not seem like a whole eternity since our last talk? Of course I don't count those few words yesterday evening and this morning.
Judge BrackYou mean since out last confidential talk? Our last tete-a-tete?
HeddaWell yes--since you put it so.
Judge BrackNot a day passed but I have wished that you were home again.
HeddaAnd I have done nothing but wish the same thing.
Judge BrackYou? Really, Mrs. Hedda? And I thought you had been enjoying your tour so much!
HeddaOh yes, you may be sure of that!
Judge BrackBut Tesman's letters spoke of nothing but happiness.
HeddaOh, Tesman! You see, he thinks nothing is so delightful as grubbing in libraries and making copies of old parchments, or whatever you call them.
Judge Brack[With a smile of malice.]
Well, that is his vocation in life--or part of it at any rate.
HeddaYes, of course; and no doubt when it's your vocation---. But I! Oh, my dear Mr. Brack, how mortally bored I have been.
Judge Brack[Sympathetically.]
Do you really say so? In downright earnest?
HeddaYes, you can surely understand it---! To go for six whole months without meeting a soul that knew anything of our circle, or could talk about things we were interested in.
Judge BrackYes, yes--I too should feel that a deprivation.
HeddaAnd then, what I found most intolerable of all---
Judge BrackWell?
Hedda---was being everlastingly in the company of--one and the same person--
Judge Brack[With a nod of assent.]
Morning, noon, and night, yes--at all possible times and seasons.
HeddaI said "everlastingly."
Judge BrackJust so. But I should have thought, with our excellent Tesman, one could---
HeddaTesman is--a specialist, my dear Judge.
Judge BrackUndeniable.
HeddaAnd specialists are not at all amusing to travel with. Not in the long run at any rate.
Judge BrackNot even--the specialist one happens to love?
HeddaFaugh--don't use that sickening word!
Judge Brack[Taken aback.]
What do you say, Mrs. Hedda?
Hedda[Half laughing, half irritated.]
You should just try it! To hear of nothing but the history of civilisation, morning, noon, and night---
Judge BrackEverlastingly.
HeddaYes yes yes! And then all this about the domestic industry of the middle ages---! That's the most disgusting part of it!
Judge Brack[Looks searchingly at her.]
But tell me--in that case, how am I to understand your---? H'm---
HeddaMy accepting George Tesman, you mean?
Judge BrackWell, let us put it so.
HeddaGood heavens, do you see anything so wonderful in that?
Judge BrackYes and no--Mrs. Hedda.
HeddaI had positively danced myself tired, my dear Judge. My day was done ---
[With a slight shudder.]
Oh no--I won't say that; nor think it either!
Judge BrackYou have assuredly no reason to.
HeddaOh, reasons---
[Watching him closely.]
And George Tesman--after all, you must admit that he is correctness itself.
Judge BrackHis correctness and respectability are beyond all question.
HeddaAnd I don't see anything absolutely ridiculous about him.--Do you?
Judge BrackRidiculous? N--no--I shouldn't exactly say so---
HeddaWell--and his powers of research, at all events, are untiring.--I see no reason why he should not one day come to the front, after all.
Judge Brack[Looks at her hesitatingly.]
I thought that you, like every one else, expected him to attain the highest distinction.
Hedda[With an expression of fatigue.]
Yes, so I did.--And then, since he was bent, at all hazards, on being allowed to provide for me--I really don't know why I should not have accepted his offer?
Judge BrackNo--if you look at it in that light---
HeddaIt was more than my other adorers were prepared to do for me, my dear Judge.
Judge Brack[Laughing.]
Well, I can't answer for all the rest; but as for myself, you know quite well that I have always entertained a--a certain respect for the marriage tie--for marriage as an institution, Mrs. Hedda.
Hedda[Jestingly.]
Oh, I assure you I have never cherished any hopes with respect to you.
Judge BrackAll I require is a pleasant and intimate interior, where I can make myself useful in every way, and am free to come and go as--as a trusted friend---
HeddaOf the master of the house, do you mean?
Judge Brack[Bowing.]
Frankly--of the mistress first of all; but of course of the master too, in the second place. Such a triangular friendship-- if I may call it so--is really a great convenience for all the parties, let me tell you.
HeddaYes, I have many a time longed for some one to make a third on our travels. Oh--those railway-carriage tete-a-tetes---!
Judge BrackFortunately your wedding journey is over now.
Hedda[Shaking her head.]
Not by a long--long way. I have only arrived at a station on the line.
Judge BrackWell, then the passengers jump out and move about a little, Mrs. Hedda.
HeddaI never jump out.
Judge BrackReally?
HeddaNo--because there is always some one standing by to---
Judge Brack[Laughing.]
To look at your ankles, do you mean?
HeddaPrecisely.
Judge BrackWell but, dear me---
Hedda[With a gesture of repulsion.]
I won't have it. I would rather keep my seat where I happen to be--and continue the tete-a-tete.
Judge BrackBut suppose a third person were to jump in and join the couple.
HeddaAh--that is quite another matter!
Judge BrackA trusted, sympathetic friend---
Hedda---with a fund of conversation on all sorts of lively topics---
Judge Brack---and not the least bit of a specialist!
Hedda[With an audible sigh.]
Yes, that would be a relief indeed.
Judge Brack[Hears the front door open, and glances in that direction.]
The triangle is completed.
Hedda[Half aloud.]
And on goes the train. GEORGE TESMAN, in a grey walking-suit, with a soft felt hat, enters from the hall. He has a number of unbound books under his arm and in his pockets.
Tesman[Goes up to the table beside the corner settee.]
Ouf--what a load for a warm day--all these books.
[Lays them on the table.]
I'm positively perspiring, Hedda. Hallo--are you there already, my dear Judge? Eh? Berta didn't tell me.
Judge Brack[Rising.]
I came in through the garden.
HeddaWhat books have you got there?
Tesman[Stands looking them through.]
Some new books on my special subjects --quite indispensable to me.
HeddaYour special subjects?
Judge BrackYes, books on his special subjects, Mrs. Tesman.

[BRACK and HEDDA exchange a confidential smile.]
HeddaDo you need still more books on your special subjects?
TesmanYes, my dear Hedda, one can never have too many of them. Of course one must keep up with all that is written and published.
HeddaYes, I suppose one must.
Tesman[Searching among his books.]
And look here--I have got hold of Eilert Lovborg's new book too.
[Offering it to her.]
Perhaps you would like to glance through it, Hedda? Eh?
HeddaNo, thank you. Or rather--afterwards perhaps.
TesmanI looked into it a little on the way home.
Judge BrackWell, what do you think of it--as a specialist?
TesmanI think it shows quite remarkable soundness of judgment. He never wrote like that before.
[Putting the books together.]
Now I shall take all these into my study. I'm longing to cut the leaves---! And then I must change my clothes.
[To BRACK.]
I suppose we needn't start just yet? Eh?
Judge BrackOh, dear no--there is not the slightest hurry.
TesmanWell then, I will take my time.
[Is going with his books, but stops in the doorway and turns.]
By-the-bye, Hedda--Aunt Julia is not coming this evening.
HeddaNot coming? Is it that affair of the bonnet that keeps her away?
TesmanOh, not at all. How could you think such a thing of Aunt Julia? Just fancy---! The fact is, Aunt Rina is very ill.
HeddaShe always is.
TesmanYes, but to-day she is much worse than usual, poor dear.
HeddaOh, then it's only natural that her sister should remain with her. I must bear my disappointment.
TesmanAnd you can't imagine, dear, how delighted Aunt Julia seemed to be-- because you had come home looking so flourishing!
Hedda[Half aloud, rising.]
Oh, those everlasting Aunts!
TesmanWhat?
Hedda[Going to the glass door.]
Nothing.
TesmanOh, all right.
[He goes through the inner room, out to the right.]
Judge BrackWhat bonnet were you talking about?
HeddaOh, it was a little episode with Miss Tesman this morning. She had laid down her bonnet on the chair there--
[Looks at him and smiles.]
-- and I pretended to think it was the servant's.
Judge Brack[Shaking his head.]
Now my dear Mrs. Hedda, how could you do such a thing? To the excellent old lady, too!
Hedda[Nervously crossing the room.]
Well, you see--these impulses come over me all of a sudden; and I cannot resist them.
[Throws herself down in the easy-chair by the stove.]
Oh, I don't know how to explain it.
Judge Brack[Behind the easy-chair.]
You are not really happy--that is at the bottom of it.
Hedda[Looking straight before her.]
I know of no reason why I should be-- happy. Perhaps you can give me one?
Judge BrackWell-amongst other things, because you have got exactly the home you had set your heart on.
Hedda[Looks up at him and laughs.]
Do you too believe in that legend?
Judge BrackIs there nothing in it, then?
HeddaOh yes, there is something in it.
Judge BrackWell?
HeddaThere is this in it, that I made use of Tesman to see me home from evening parties last summer---
Judge BrackI, unfortunately, had to go quite a different way.
HeddaThat's true. I know you were going a different way last summer.
Judge Brack[Laughing.]
Oh fie, Mrs. Hedda! Well, then--you and Tesman---?
HeddaWell, we happened to pass here one evening; Tesman, poor fellow, was writhing in the agony of having to find conversation; so I took pity on the learned man---
Judge Brack[Smiles doubtfully.]
You took pity? H'm---
HeddaYes, I really did. And so--to help him out of his torment--I happened to say, in pure thoughtlessness, that I should like to live in this villa.
Judge BrackNo more than that?
HeddaNot that evening.
Judge BrackBut afterwards?
HeddaYes, my thoughtlessness had consequences, my dear Judge.
Judge BrackUnfortunately that too often happens, Mrs. Hedda.
HeddaThanks! So you see it was this enthusiasm for Secretary Falk's villa that first constituted a bond of sympathy between George Tesman and me. From that came our engagement and our marriage, and our wedding journey, and all the rest of it. Well, well, my dear Judge--as you make your bed so you must lie, I could almost say.
Judge BrackThis is exquisite! And you really cared not a rap about it all the time?
HeddaNo, heaven knows I didn't.
Judge BrackBut now? Now that we have made it so homelike for you?
HeddaUh--the rooms all seem to smell of lavender and dried rose-leaves.-- But perhaps it's Aunt Julia that has brought that scent with her.
Judge Brack[Laughing.]
No, I think it must be a legacy from the late Mrs. Secretary Falk.
HeddaYes, there is an odour of mortality about it. It reminds me of a bouquet--the day after the ball.
[Clasps her hands behind her head, leans back in her chair and looks at him.]
Oh, my dear Judge--you cannot imagine how horribly I shall bore myself here.
Judge BrackWhy should not you, too, find some sort of vocation in life, Mrs. Hedda?
HeddaA vocation--that should attract me?
Judge BrackIf possible, of course.
HeddaHeaven knows what sort of a vocation that could be. I often wonder whether---
[Breaking off.]
But that would never do either.
Judge BrackWho can tell? Let me hear what it is.
HeddaWhether I might not get Tesman to go into politics, I mean.
Judge Brack[Laughing.]
Tesman? No really now, political life is not the thing for him--not at all in his line.
HeddaNo, I daresay not.--But if I could get him into it all the same?
Judge BrackWhy--what satisfaction could you find in that? If he is not fitted for that sort of thing, why should you want to drive him into it?
HeddaBecause I am bored, I tell you!
[After a pause.]
So you think it quite out of the question that Tesman should ever get into the ministry?
Judge BrackH'm--you see, my dear Mrs. Hedda--to get into the ministry, he would have to be a tolerably rich man.
Hedda[Rising impatiently.]
Yes, there we have it! It is this genteel poverty I have managed to drop into---!
[Crosses the room.]
That is what makes life so pitiable! So utterly ludicrous!--For that's what it is.
Judge BrackNow I should say the fault lay elsewhere.
HeddaWhere, then?
Judge BrackYou have never gone through any really stimulating experience.
HeddaAnything serious, you mean?
Judge BrackYes, you may call it so. But now you may perhaps have one in store.
Hedda[Tossing her head.]
Oh, you're thinking of the annoyances about this wretched professorship! But that must be Tesman's own affair. I assure you I shall not waste a thought upon it.
Judge BrackNo, no, I daresay not. But suppose now that what people call--in elegant language--a solemn responsibility were to come upon you?
[Smiling.]
A new responsibility, Mrs. Hedda?
Hedda[Angrily.]
Be quiet! Nothing of that sort will ever happen!
Judge Brack[Warily.]
We will speak of this again a year hence--at the very outside.
Hedda[Curtly.]
I have no turn for anything of the sort, Judge Brack. No responsibilities for me!
Judge BrackAre you so unlike the generality of women as to have no turn for duties which---?
Hedda[Beside the glass door.]
Oh, be quiet, I tell you!--I often think there is only one thing in the world I have any turn for.
Judge Brack[Drawing near to her.]
And what is that, if I may ask?
Hedda[Stands looking out.]
Boring myself to death. Now you know it.
[Turns, looks towards the inner room, and laughs.]
Yes, as I thought! Here comes the Professor.
Judge Brack[Softly, in a tone of warning.]
Come, come, come, Mrs. Hedda! GEORGE TESMAN, dressed for the party, with his gloves and hat in his hand, enters from the right through the inner room.
TesmanHedda, has no message come from Eilert Lovborg? Eh?
HeddaNo.
TesmanThen you'll see he'll be here presently.
Judge BrackDo you really think he will come?
TesmanYes, I am almost sure of it. For what you were telling us this morning must have been a mere floating rumour.
Judge BrackYou think so?
TesmanAt any rate, Aunt Julia said she did not believe for a moment that he would ever stand in my way again. Fancy that!
Judge BrackWell then, that's all right.
Tesman[Placing his hat and gloves on a chair on the right.]
Yes, but you must really let me wait for him as long as possible.
Judge BrackWe have plenty of time yet. None of my guests will arrive before seven or half-past.
TesmanThen meanwhile we can keep Hedda company, and see what happens. Eh?
Hedda[Placing BRACK'S hat and overcoat upon the corner settee.]
And at the worst Mr. Lovborg can remain here with me.
Judge Brack[Offering to take his things.]
Oh, allow me, Mrs. Tesman!--What do you mean by "At the worst"?
HeddaIf he won't go with you and Tesman.
Tesman[Looks dubiously at her.]
But, Hedda dear--do you think it would quite do for him to remain here with you? Eh? Remember, Aunt Julia can't come.
HeddaNo, but Mrs. Elvsted is coming. We three can have a cup of tea together.
TesmanOh yes, that will be all right.
Judge Brack[Smiling.]
And that would perhaps be the safest plan for him.
HeddaWhy so?
Judge BrackWell, you know, Mrs. Tesman, how you used to gird at my little bachelor parties. You declared they were adapted only for men of the strictest principles.
HeddaBut no doubt Mr. Lovborg's principles are strict enough now. A converted sinner---

[BERTA appears at the hall door.]
BertaThere's a gentleman asking if you are at home, ma'am---
HeddaWell, show him in.
Tesman[Softly.]
I'm sure it is he! Fancy that!

[EILERT LOVBORG enters from the hall. He is slim and lean; of the same age as TESMAN, but looks older and somewhat worn-out. His hair and beard are of a blackish brown, his face long and pale, but with patches of colour on the cheeks. He is dressed in a well-cut black visiting suit, quite new. He has dark gloves and a silk hat. He stops near the door, and makes a rapid bow, seeming somewhat embarrassed.]
Tesman[Goes up to him and shakes him warmly by the hand.]
Well, my dear Eilert--so at last we meet again!
Lovborg[Speaks in a subdued voice.]
Thanks for your letter, Tesman.
[Approaching HEDDA.]
Will you too shake hands with me, Mrs. Tesman?
Hedda[Taking his hand.]
I am glad to see you, Mr. Lovborg.
[With a motion of her hand.]
I don't know whether you two gentlemen---?
Lovborg[Bowing slightly.]
Judge Brack, I think.
Judge Brack[Doing likewise.]
Oh yes,--in the old days---
Tesman[To LOVBORG, with his hands on his shoulders.]
And now you must make yourself entirely at home, Eilert! Mustn't he, Hedda?--For I hear you are going to settle in town again? Eh?
LovborgYes, I am.
TesmanQuite right, quite right. Let me tell you, I have got hold of your new book; but I haven't had time to read it yet.
LovborgYou may spare yourself the trouble.
TesmanWhy so?
LovborgBecause there is very little in it.
TesmanJust fancy--how can you say so?
Judge BrackBut it has been very much praised, I hear.
LovborgThat was what I wanted; so I put nothing into the book but what every one would agree with.
Judge BrackVery wise of you.
TesmanWell but, my dear Eilert---!
LovborgFor now I mean to win myself a position again--to make a fresh start.
Tesman[A little embarrassed.]
Ah, that is what you wish to do? Eh?
Lovborg[Smiling, lays down his hat, and draws a packet wrapped in paper, from his coat pocket.]
But when this one appears, George Tesman, you will have to read it. For this is the real book--the book I have put my true self into.
TesmanIndeed? And what is it?
LovborgIt is the continuation.
TesmanThe continuation? Of what?
LovborgOf the book.
TesmanOf the new book?
LovborgOf course.
TesmanWhy, my dear Eilert--does it not come down to our own days?
LovborgYes, it does; and this one deals with the future.
TesmanWith the future! But, good heavens, we know nothing of the future!
LovborgNo; but there is a thing or two to be said about it all the same.
[Opens the packet.]
Look here---
TesmanWhy, that's not your handwriting.
LovborgI dictated it.
[Turning over the pages.]
It falls into two sections. The first deals with the civilising forces of the future. And here is the second--
[running through the pages towards the end]
--forecasting the probable line of development.
TesmanHow odd now! I should never have thought of writing anything of that sort.
Hedda[At the glass door, drumming on the pane.]
H'm---. I daresay not.
Lovborg[Replacing the manuscript in its paper and laying the packet on the table.]
I brought it, thinking I might read you a little of it this evening.
TesmanThat was very good of you, Eilert. But this evening---?
[Looking back at BRACK.]
I don't see how we can manage it---
LovborgWell then, some other time. There is no hurry.
Judge BrackI must tell you, Mr. Lovborg--there is a little gathering at my house this evening--mainly in honour of Tesman, you know---
Lovborg[Looking for his hat.]
Oh--then I won't detain you---
Judge BrackNo, but listen--will you not do me the favour of joining us?
Lovborg[Curtly and decidedly.]
No, I can't--thank you very much.
Judge BrackOh, nonsense--do! We shall be quite a select little circle. And I assure you we shall have a "lively time," as Mrs. Hed--as Mrs. Tesman says.
LovborgI have no doubt of it. But nevertheless---
Judge BrackAnd then you might bring your manuscript with you, and read it to Tesman at my house. I could give you a room to yourselves.
TesmanYes, think of that, Eilert,--why shouldn't you? Eh?
Hedda[Interposing.]
But, Tesman, if Mr. Lovborg would really rather not! I am sure Mr. Lovborg is much more inclined to remain here and have supper with me.
Lovborg[Looking at her.]
With you, Mrs. Tesman?
HeddaAnd with Mrs. Elvsted.
LovborgAh---
[Lightly.]
I saw her for a moment this morning.
HeddaDid you? Well, she is coming this evening. So you see you are almost bound to remain, Mr. Lovborg, or she will have no one to see her home.
LovborgThat's true. Many thanks, Mrs. Tesman--in that case I will remain.
HeddaThen I have one or two orders to give the servant---

[She goes to the hall door and rings. BERTA enters. HEDDA talks to her in a whisper, and points towards the inner room. BERTA nods and goes out again.]
Tesman[At the same time, to LOVBORG.]
Tell me, Eilert--is it this new subject--the future--that you are going to lecture about?
LovborgYes.
TesmanThey told me at the bookseller's that you are going to deliver a course of lectures this autumn.
LovborgThat is my intention. I hope you won't take it ill, Tesman.
TesmanOh no, not in the least! But---?
LovborgI can quite understand that it must be very disagreeable to you.
Tesman[Cast down.]
Oh, I can't expect you, out of consideration for me, to---
LovborgBut I shall wait till you have received your appointment.
TesmanWill you wait? Yes but--yes but--are you not going to compete with me? Eh?
LovborgNo; it is only the moral victory I care for.
TesmanWhy, bless me--then Aunt Julia was right after all! Oh yes--I knew it! Hedda! Just fancy--Eilert Lovborg is not going to stand in our way!
Hedda[Curtly.]
Our way? Pray leave me out of the question.
[She goes up towards the inner room, where BERTA is placing a tray with decanters and glasses on the table. HEDDA nods approval, and comes forward again. BERTA goes out.]
Tesman[At the same time.]
And you, Judge Brack--what do you say to this? Eh?
Judge BrackWell, I say that a moral victory--h'm--may be all very fine---
TesmanYes, certainly. But all the same---
Hedda[Looking at TESMAN with a cold smile.]
You stand there looking as if you were thunderstruck---
TesmanYes--so I am--I almost think---
Judge BrackDon't you see, Mrs. Tesman, a thunderstorm has just passed over?
Hedda[Pointing towards the room.]
Will you not take a glass of cold punch, gentlemen?
Judge Brack[Looking at his watch.]
A stirrup-cup? Yes, it wouldn't come amiss.
TesmanA capital idea, Hedda! Just the thing! Now that the weight has been taken off my mind---
HeddaWill you not join them, Mr. Lovborg?
Lovborg[With a gesture of refusal.]
No, thank you. Nothing for me.
Judge BrackWhy bless me--cold punch is surely not poison.
LovborgPerhaps not for everyone.
HeddaI will deep Mr. Lovborg company in the meantime.
TesmanYes, yes, Hedda dear, do.

[He and BRACK go into the inner room, seat themselves, drink punch, smoke cigarettes, and carry on a lively conversation during what follows. EILERT LOVBORG remains standing beside the stove. HEDDA goes to the writing-table.]
Hedda[Raising he voice a little.]
Do you care to look at some photographs, Mr. Lovborg? You know Tesman and I made a tour in they Tyrol on our way home?

[She takes up an album, and places it on the table beside the sofa, in the further corner of which she seats herself. EILERT LOVBORG approaches, stops, and looks at her. Then he takes a chair and seats himself to her left.]
Hedda[Opening the album.]
Do you see this range of mountains, Mr. Lovborg? It's the Ortler group. Tesman has written the name underneath. Here it is: "The Ortler group near Meran."
Lovborg[Who has never taken his eyes off her, says softly and slowly:]
Hedda--Gabler!
Hedda[Glancing hastily at him.]
Ah! Hush!
Lovborg[Repeats softly.]
Hedda Gabler!
Hedda[Looking at the album.]
That was my name in the old days--when we two knew each other.
LovborgAnd I must teach myself never to say Hedda Gabler again--never, as long as I live.
Hedda[Still turning over the pages.]
Yes, you must. And I think you ought to practise in time. The sooner the better, I should say.
Lovborg[In a tone of indignation.]
Hedda Gabler married? And married to-- George Tesman!
HeddaYes--so the world goes.
LovborgOh, Hedda, Hedda--how could you throw yourself away!
Hedda[Looks sharply at him.]
What? I can't allow this!
LovborgWhat do you mean?

[TESMAN comes into the room and goes towards the sofa.]
Hedda[Hears him coming and says in an indifferent tone.]
And this is a view from the Val d'Ampezzo, Mr. Lovborg. Just look at these peaks!
[Looks affectionately up at TESMAN.]
What's the name of these curious peaks, dear?
TesmanLet me see. Oh, those are the Dolomites.
HeddaYes, that's it!--Those are the Dolomites, Mr. Lovborg.
TesmanHedda, dear,--I only wanted to ask whether I shouldn't bring you a little punch after all? For yourself at any rate--eh?
HeddaYes, do, please; and perhaps a few biscuits.
TesmanNo cigarettes?
HeddaNo.
TesmanVery well.

[He goes into the inner room and out to the right. BRACK sits in the inner room, and keeps an eye from time to time on HEDDA and LOVBORG.]
Lovborg[Softly, as before.]
Answer me, Hedda--how could you go and do this?
Hedda[Apparently absorbed in the album.]
If you continue to say du to me I won't talk to you.
LovborgMay I not say du even when we are alone?
HeddaNo. You may think it; but you mustn't say it.
LovborgAh, I understand. It is an offence against George Tesman, whom you--love.
Hedda[Glances at him and smiles.]
Love? What an idea!
LovborgYou don't love him then!
HeddaBut I won't hear of any sort of unfaithfulness! Remember that.
LovborgHedda--answer me one thing---
HeddaHush!

[TESMAN enters with a small tray from the inner room.]
TesmanHere you are! Isn't this tempting?
[He puts the tray on the table.]
HeddaWhy do you bring it yourself?
Tesman[Filling the glasses.]
Because I think it's such fun to wait upon you, Hedda.
HeddaBut you have poured out two glasses. Mr. Lovborg said he wouldn't have any---
TesmanNo, but Mrs. Elvsted will soon be here, won't she?
HeddaYes, by-the-bye--Mrs. Elvsted---
TesmanHad you forgotten her? Eh?
HeddaWe were so absorbed in these photographs.
[Shows him a picture.]
Do you remember this little village?
TesmanOh, it's that one just below the Brenner Pass. It was there we passed the night---
Hedda---and met that lively party of tourists.
TesmanYes, that was the place. Fancy--if we could only have had you with us, Eilert! Eh?

[He returns to the inner room and sits beside BRACK.]
LovborgAnswer me one thing, Hedda---
HeddaWell?
LovborgWas there no love in your friendship for me either? Not a spark--not a tinge of love in it?
HeddaI wonder if there was? To me it seems as though we were two good comrades--two thoroughly intimate friends.
[Smilingly.]
You especially were frankness itself.
LovborgIt was you that made me so.
HeddaAs I look back upon it all, I think there was really something beautiful, something fascinating--something daring--in--in that secret intimacy--that comradeship which no living creature so much as dreamed of.
LovborgYes, yes, Hedda! Was there not?--When I used to come to your father's in the afternoon--and the General sat over at the window reading his papers--with his back towards us---
HeddaAnd we two on the corner sofa---
LovborgAlways with the same illustrated paper before us---
HeddaFor want of an album, yes.
LovborgYes, Hedda, and when I made my confessions to you--told you about myself, things that at that time no one else knew! There I would sit and tell you of my escapades--my days and nights of devilment. Oh, Hedda--what was the power in you that forced me to confess these things?
HeddaDo you think it was any power in me?
LovborgHow else can I explain it? And all those--those roundabout questions you used to put to me---
HeddaWhich you understood so particularly well---
LovborgHow could you sit and question me like that? Question me quite frankly---
HeddaIn roundabout terms, please observe.
LovborgYes, but frankly nevertheless. Cross-question me about--all that sort of thing?
HeddaAnd how could you answer, Mr. Lovborg?
LovborgYes, that is just what I can't understand--in looking back upon it. But tell me now, Hedda--was there not love at the bottom of our friendship? On your side, did you not feel as though you might purge my stains away--if I made you my confessor? Was it not so?
HeddaNo, not quite.
LovborgWhat was you motive, then?
HeddaDo think it quite incomprehensible that a young girl--when it can be done--without any one knowing---
LovborgWell?
Hedda---should be glad to have a peep, now and then, into a world which---?
LovborgWhich---?
Hedda---which she is forbidden to know anything about?
LovborgSo that was it?
HeddaPartly. Partly--I almost think.
LovborgComradeship in the thirst for life. But why should not that, at any rate, have continued?
HeddaThe fault was yours.
LovborgIt was you that broke with me.
HeddaYes, when our friendship threatened to develop into something more serious. Shame upon you, Eilert Lovborg! How could you think of wronging your--your frank comrade.
Lovborg[Clenches his hands.]
Oh, why did you not carry out your threat? Why did you not shoot me down?
HeddaBecause I have such a dread of scandal.
LovborgYes, Hedda, you are a coward at heart.
HeddaA terrible coward.
[Changing her tone.]
But it was a lucky thing for you. And now you have found ample consolation at the Elvsteds'.
LovborgI know what Thea has confided to you.
HeddaAnd perhaps you have confided to her something about us?
LovborgNot a word. She is too stupid to understand anything of that sort.
HeddaStupid?
LovborgShe is stupid about matters of that sort.
HeddaAnd I am cowardly.
[Bends over towards him, without looking him in the face, and says more softly:]
But now I will confide something to you.
Lovborg[Eagerly.]
Well?
HeddaThe fact that I dared not shoot you down---
LovborgYes!
Hedda---that was not my arrant cowardice--that evening.
Lovborg[Looks at her a moment, understands, and whispers passionately.]
Oh, Hedda! Hedda Gabler! Now I begin to see a hidden reason beneath our comradeship! You and I---! After all, then, it was your craving for life---
Hedda[Softly, with a sharp glance.]
Take care! Believe nothing of the sort!

[Twilight has begun to fall. The hall door is opened from without by BERTA.]
Hedda[Closes the album with a bang and calls smilingly:]
Ah, at last! My darling Thea,--come along!

[MRS. ELVSTED enters from the hall. She is in evening dress. The door is closed behind her.]
Hedda[On the sofa, stretches out her arms towards her.]
My sweet Thea-- you can't think how I have been longing for you!

[MRS. ELVSTED, in passing, exchanges slight salutations with the gentlemen in the inner room, then goes up to the table and gives HEDDA her hand. EILERT LOVBORG has risen. He and MRS. ELVSTED greet each other with a silent nod.]
Mrs ElvstedOught I to go in and talk to your husband for a moment?
HeddaOh, not at all. Leave those two alone. They will soon be going.
Mrs ElvstedAre they going out?
HeddaYes, to a supper-party.
Mrs Elvsted[Quickly, to LOVBORG.]
Not you?
LovborgNo.
HeddaMr. Lovborg remains with us.
Mrs Elvsted[Takes a chair and is about to seat herself at his side.]
Oh, how nice it is here!
HeddaNo, thank you, my little Thea! Not there! You'll be good enough to come over here to me. I will sit between you.
Mrs ElvstedYes, just as you please.

[She goes round the table and seats herself on the sofa on HEDDA'S right. LOVBORG re-seats himself on his chair.]
Lovborg[After a short pause, to HEDDA.]
Is not she lovely to look at?
Hedda[Lightly stroking her hair.]
Only to look at!
LovborgYes. For we two--she and I--we are two real comrades. We have absolute faith in each other; so we can sit and talk with perfect frankness---
HeddaNot round about, Mr. Lovborg?
LovborgWell---
Mrs Elvsted[Softly clinging close to HEDDA.]
Oh, how happy I am, Hedda! For only think, he says I have inspired him too.
Hedda[Looks at her with a smile.]
Ah! Does he say that, dear?
LovborgAnd then she is so brave, Mrs. Tesman!
Mrs ElvstedGood heavens--am I brave?
LovborgExceedingly--where your comrade is concerned.
HeddaExceedingly--where your comrade is concerned.
HeddaAh, yes--courage! If one only had that!
LovborgWhat then? What do you mean?
HeddaThen life would perhaps be liveable, after all.
[With a sudden change of tone.]
But now, my dearest Thea, you really must have a glass of cold punch.
Mrs ElvstedNo, thanks--I never take anything of that kind.
HeddaWell then, you, Mr. Lovborg.
LovborgNor I, thank you.
Mrs ElvstedNo, he doesn't either.
Hedda[Looks fixedly at him.]
But if I say you shall?
LovborgIt would be of no use.
Hedda[Laughing.]
Then I, poor creature, have no sort of power over you?
LovborgNot in that respect.
HeddaBut seriously, I think you ought to--for your own sake.
Mrs ElvstedWhy, Hedda---!
LovborgHow so?
HeddaOr rather on account of other people.
LovborgIndeed?
HeddaOtherwise people might be apt to suspect that--in your heart of hearts--you did not feel quite secure--quite confident in yourself.
Mrs Elvsted[Softly.]
Oh please, Hedda---!
LovborgPeople may suspect what they like--for the present.
Mrs Elvsted[Joyfully.]
Yes, let them!
HeddaI saw it plainly in Judge Brack's face a moment ago.
LovborgWhat did you see?
HeddaHis contemptuous smile, when you dared not go with them into the inner room.
LovborgDared not? Of course I preferred to stop here and talk to you.
Mrs ElvstedWhat could be more natural, Hedda?
HeddaBut the Judge could not guess that. And I say, too, the way he smiled and glanced at Tesman when you dared not accept his invitation to this wretched little supper-party of his.
LovborgDared not! Do you say I dared not?
HeddaI don't say so. But that was how Judge Brack understood it.
LovborgWell, let him.
HeddaThen you are not going with them?
LovborgI will stay here with you and Thea.
Mrs ElvstedYes, Hedda--how can you doubt that?
Hedda[Smiles and nods approvingly to LOVBORG.]
Firm as a rock! Faithful to your principles, now and for ever! Ah, that is how a man should be!
[Turns to MRS. ELVSTED and caresses her.]
Well now, what did I tell you, when you came to us this morning in such a state of distraction---
Lovborg[Surprised.]
Distraction!
Mrs Elvsted[Terrified.]
Hedda--oh Hedda---!
HeddaYou can see for yourself! You haven't the slightest reason to be in such mortal terror---
[Interrupting herself.]
There! Now we can all three enjoy ourselves!
Lovborg[Who has given a start.]
Ah--what is all this, Mrs. Tesman?
Mrs ElvstedOh my God, Hedda! What are you saying? What are you doing?
HeddaDon't get excited! That horrid Judge Brack is sitting watching you.
LovborgSo she was in mortal terror! On my account!
Mrs Elvsted[Softly and piteously.]
Oh, Hedda--now you have ruined everything!
Lovborg[Looks fixedly at her for a moment. His face is distorted.]
So that was my comrade's frank confidence in me?
Mrs Elvsted[Imploringly.]
Oh, my dearest friend--only let me tell you---
Lovborg[Takes one of the glasses of punch, raises it to his lips, and says in a low, husky voice.]
Your health, Thea!
[He empties the glass, puts it down, and takes the second.]
Mrs Elvsted[Softly.]
Oh, Hedda, Hedda--how could you do this?
HeddaI do it? I? Are you crazy?
LovborgHere's to your health too, Mrs. Tesman. Thanks for the truth. Hurrah for the truth!
[He empties the glass and is about to re-fill it.
Hedda[Lays her hand on his arm.]
Come, come--no more for the present. Remember you are going out to supper.
Mrs ElvstedNo, no, no!
HeddaHush! They are sitting watching you.
Lovborg[Putting down the glass.]
Now, Thea--tell me the truth---
Mrs ElvstedYes.
LovborgDid your husband know that you had come after me?
Mrs Elvsted[Wringing her hands.]
Oh, Hedda--do you hear what his is asking?
LovborgWas it arranged between you and him that you were to come to town and look after me? Perhaps it was the Sheriff himself that urged you to come? Aha, my dear--no doubt he wanted my help in his office! Or was it at the card-table that he missed me?
Mrs Elvsted[Softly, in agony.]
Oh, Lovborg, Lovborg---!
Lovborg[Seizes a glass and is on the point of filling it.]
Here's a glass for the old Sheriff too!
Hedda[Preventing him.]
No more just now. Remember, you have to read your manuscript to Tesman.
Lovborg[Calmly, putting down the glass.]
It was stupid of me all this. Thea--to take it in this way, I mean. Don't be angry with me, my dear, dear comrade. You shall see--both you and the others--that if I was fallen once--now I have risen again! Thanks to you, Thea.
Mrs Elvsted[Radiant with joy.]
Oh, heaven be praised---!

[BRACK has in the meantime looked at his watch. He and TESMAN rise and come into the drawing-room.]
Judge Brack[Takes his hat and overcoat.]
Well, Mrs. Tesman, our time has come.
HeddaI suppose it has.
Lovborg[Rising.]
Mine too, Judge Brack.
Mrs Elvsted[Softly and imploringly.]
Oh, Lovborg, don't do it!
Hedda[Pinching her arm.]
They can hear you!
Mrs Elvsted[With a suppressed shriek.]
Ow!
Lovborg[To BRACK.]
You were good enough to invite me.
BrackWell, are you coming after all?
LovborgYes, many thanks.
Judge BrackI'm delighted---
Lovborg[To TESMAN, putting the parcel of MS. in his pocket.]
I should like to show you one or two things before I send it to the printers.
TesmanFancy--that will be delightful. But, Hedda dear, how is Mrs. Elvsted to get home? Eh?
HeddaOh, that can be managed somehow.
Lovborg[Looking towards the ladies.]
Mrs. Elvsted? Of course, I'll come again and fetch her.
[Approaching.]
At ten or thereabouts, Mrs. Tesman? Will that do?
HeddaCertainly. That will do capitally.
TesmanWell, then, that's all right. But you must not expect me so early, Hedda.
HeddaOh, you may stop as long--as long as every you please.
Mrs Elvsted[Trying to conceal her anxiety.]
Well then, Mr. Lovborg--I shall remain here until you come.
Lovborg[With his hat in his hand.]
Pray do, Mrs. Elvsted.
Judge BrackAnd now off goes the excursion train, gentlemen! I hope we shall have a lively time, as a certain fair lady puts it.
HeddaAh, if only the fair lady could be present unseen---!
Judge BrackWhy unseen?
HeddaIn order to hear a little of your liveliness at first hand, Judge Brack.
Judge Brack[Laughing.]
I should not advise the fair lady to try it.
Tesman[Also laughing.]
Come, you're a nice one Hedda! Fancy that!
Judge BrackWell, good-bye, good-bye, ladies.
Lovborg[Bowing.]
About ten o'clock, then,

[BRACK, LOVBORG, and TESMAN go out by the hall door. At the same time, BERTA enters from the inner room with a lighted lamp, which she places on the drawing-room table; she goes out by the way she came.]
Mrs Elvsted[Who has risen and is wandering restlessly about the room.]
Hedda-- Hedda--what will come of all this?
HeddaAt ten o'clock--he will be here. I can see him already--with vine- leaves in his hair--flushed and fearless---
Mrs ElvstedOh, I hope he may.
HeddaAnd then, you see--then he will have regained control over himself. Then he will be a free man for all his days.
Mrs ElvstedOh God!--if he would only come as you see him now!
HeddaHe will come as I see him--so, and not otherwise!
[Rises and approaches THEA.]
You may doubt him as long as you please; I believe in him. And now we will try---
Mrs ElvstedYou have some hidden motive in this, Hedda!
HeddaYes, I have. I want for once in my life to have power to mould a human destiny.
Mrs ElvstedHave you not the power?
HeddaI have not--and have never had it.
Mrs ElvstedNot your husband's?
HeddaDo you think that is worth the trouble? Oh, if you could only understand how poor I am. And fate has made you so rich!
[Clasps her passionately in her arms.]
I think I must burn your hair off after all.
Mrs ElvstedLet me go! Let me go! I am afraid of you, Hedda!
Berta[In the middle doorway.]
Tea is laid in the dining-room, ma'am.
HeddaVery well. We are coming
Mrs ElvstedNo, no, no! I would rather go home alone! At once!
HeddaNonsense! First you shall have a cup of tea, you little stupid. And then--at ten o'clock--Eilert Lovborg will be here--with vine-leaves in his hair.
[She drags MRS. ELVSTED almost by force to the middle doorway.]

END OF ACT II

Play IndexAct IAct IIAct III  Act III