Bjornstjerne M. Bjornson
Part 3 out of 7
Signe. But I don't feel the least interested in the bay horse.
Hamar. Very well, then, I will go alone!
Signe. No, I will come.
Hamar (to VALBORG). Won't you come and welcome the bay horse too?
Valborg. No, but I will go and welcome my father!
Signe (looking back, as she goes). Yes, of course--father as well.
(She and HAMAR go out.)
(VALBORG goes to the farthest window and stands looking out of it.
Her dress is the same colour as the long curtain, and a piece of
statuary and some flowers conceal her from any one entering the
room. SANNAES comes in, carrying a small saddle-bag and a cloak,
which he puts down on a chair behind the door. As he turns round
he sees the bouquet on the door.)
Sannaes. There it is! Has she dropped it by accident, or did she
throw it down? Never mind--she has had it in her hands. (Picks it
up, kisses it, and is going to take it away.)
Valborg (coming forward). Leave it alone!
Sannaes (dropping the bouquet). You here, Miss Valborg--? I
didn't see you--
Valborg. But I can see what you are after. How dare you presume
to think of persecuting me with your flowers and your--your red
hands? (He puts his hands behind his back.) How dare you make
me a laughing-stock to every one in the house, and I suppose to
every one in the town?
Valborg. And what about me? Don't you think I deserve a little
consideration? You will be turned out of the house before long, if
you do not take care--! Now be quick and get away before the others
come in. (SANNAES turns away, holding his hands in front of him,
and goes out by the verandah to the right. At the same moment
TJAELDE is seen coming at the other end of the verandah, followed
by HAMAR and SIGNE.)
Tjaelde. Yes, it is a fine horse.
Hamar. Fine? I don't believe there is its equal in the country.
Tjaelde. I dare say. Did you notice that he hadn't turned a hair?
Hamar. What glorious lungs! And such a beauty, too--his head, his
legs, his neck--! I never saw such a beauty!
Tjaelde. Yes, he is a handsome beast. (Looks out of the verandah at
the yacht.) Have you been out for a sail?
Hamar. I was sailing among the islands last night, and came back
this morning with the fishing-boats--a delightful sail!
Tjaelde. I wish I had time to do that.
Hamar. But surely it is only imagination on your part, to think
that you never have time?
Tjaelde. Oh, well, perhaps I have time but not inclination.
Signe. And how do things stand where you have been?
Valborg (coming forward). Welcome home, father!
Tjaelde. Thank you, dear!
Hamar. Is it not possible to save anything?
Tjaelde. Not at present; that is why I took the horse.
Hamar. Then the bay horse is the only thing you get out of the
Tjaelde. Do you know that I might say that horse has cost me three
or four thousand pounds?
Hamar. Well, that is its only defect, anyway! Still, if the worst
comes to the worst, and you can afford it--the horse is priceless!
(TJAELDE turns away, puts down his hat and coat and takes off his
Signe. It is beautiful to see your enthusiasm when you talk about
horses. I rather think it is the only enthusiasm you have.
Hamar. Yes, if I were not a cavalry officer I should like to be a
Signe. Thank you! And what should I be?
Valborg. "Oh, were I but the saddle on thy back! Oh, were I but the
whip about thy loins!"
Hamar. "Oh, were I but the flowers in thy--." No, "hand" doesn't
Tjaelde. (coming forward, meets MRS. TJAELDE, who has come in from
the right.) Well, my dear, how are you?
Mrs. Tjaelde. Oh, I find it more and more difficult to get about.
Tjaelde. There is always something the matter with you, my dear!
Can I have something to eat?
Mrs. Tjaelde. Yes, it has been standing waiting for you. Here it
comes. (A maid brings in a tray which she lays on the table.)
Mrs. Tjaelde. Will you have a cup of tea?
Tjaelde. No, thank you.
Mrs. Tjaelde. (sitting down beside him and pouring him out a glass
of wine). And how have things gone with the Moellers?
Tjaelde. Badly. I told you so already.
Mrs. Tjaelde. I didn't hear you.
Valborg. I had a letter to-day from Nanna Moeller. She tells me all
about it--how none of the family knew anything about it till the
officers of the courts came.
Tjaelde. Yes, there must have been a dreadful scene.
Mrs. Tjaelde. Did he tell you anything about it?
Tjaelde (as he eats). I didn't speak to him.
Mrs. Tjaelde. My dear! Why, you are old friends!
Tjaelde. Bah! Old friends! He sat looking as if he had taken leave
of his senses. Besides, I have had enough of that family. I didn't
go there to hear them talk about their troubles.
Signe. I suppose it was all very sad?
Tjaelde (still eating). Shocking!
Mrs. Tjaelde. What will they have to live on?
Tjaelde. What is allowed them by their creditors, of course.
Signe. But all the things they had?
Signe. All those pretty things--their furniture, their carriages,
Tjaelde. All sold.
Hamar. And his watch? It is the most beautiful watch I have ever
seen--next to yours.
Tjaelde. It had to go, of course, being jewellery. Give me some
wine; I am hot and thirsty.
Signe. Poor things!
Mrs. Tjaelde. Where are they going to live now?
Tjaelde. In the house of one of the skippers of what was their
fleet. Two small rooms and a kitchen.
Signe. Two small rooms and a kitchen! (A pause.)
Mrs. Tjaelde. What do they intend to do?
Tjaelde. There was a subscription started to enable Mrs. Moeller to
get the job of catering for the Club.
Mrs. Tjaelde. Is the poor woman going to have more cooking to do!
Signe. Did they send no messages to us?
Tjaelde. Of course they did; but I didn't pay any attention to
Hamar (who has been standing on the verandah). But Moeller--what
did he say? What did he do?
Tjaelde. I don't know, I tell you.
Valborg (who has been walking up and down the room during the
preceding conversation). He has said and done quite enough already.
Tjaelde (who has at last finished eating and drinking, is struck by
her words). What do you mean by that, Valborg?
Valborg. That if I were his daughter I would never forgive him.
Mrs. Tjaelde. My dear Valborg, don't say such things!
Valborg. I mean it! A man who would bring such shame and misery
upon his family does not deserve any mercy from them.
Mrs. Tjaelde. We are all in need of mercy.
Valborg. In one sense, yes. But what I mean is that I could never
give him my respect or my affection again. He would have wronged me
Tjaelde (getting up). Wronged you?
Mrs. Tjaelde. Have you finished already, dear?
Mrs. Tjaelde. No more wine?
Tjaelde. I said I had finished. Wronged you? How?
Valborg. Well, I cannot imagine how one could be more cruelly
wronged than to be allowed to assume a position that was nothing
but a lie, to live up to means that had no real existence but were
merely a sham--one's clothes a lie, one's very existence a lie!
Suppose I were the sort of girl that found a certain delight in
making use of her position as a rich man's daughter--in using it to
the fullest possible extent; well, when I discovered that all that
my father had given me was stolen-that all he had made me believe
in was a lie--I am sure that then my anger and my shame would be
beyond all bounds!
Mrs. Tjaelde. My child, you have never been tried. You don't know
how such things may happen. You don't really know what you are
Hamar. Well it might do Moeller good if he heard what she says!
Valborg. He has heard it. His daughter said that to him.
Mrs. Tjaelde. His own daughter! Child, child, is that what you
write to each other about? God forgive you both!
Valborg. Oh, He will forgive us, because we speak the truth.
Mrs. Tialde. Child, child!
Tjaelde. You evidently don't understand what business is--success
one day and failure the next.
Valborg. No one will ever persuade me that business is a lottery.
Tjaelde. No, a sound business is not.
Valborg. Exactly. It is the unsound sort that I condemn.
Tjaelde. Still, even the soundest have their anxious moments.
Valborg. If the anxious moments really foreshadow a crisis, no man
of honour would keep his family o: his creditors in ignorance of
the fact. My God, how Mr. Moeller has deceived his!
Signe. Valborg is always talking about business!
Valborg. Yes, it has had an attraction for me ever since I was a
child. I am not ashamed of that.
Signe. You think you know all about it, anyway.
Valborg. Oh, no; but you can easily get to know a little about
anything you are fond of.
Hamar. And one would need no great knowledge of business to condemn
the way Moeller went on. It was obvious to every one. And the way
his family went on, too! Who went the pace as much as the Moellers?
Think of his daughter's toilettes!
Valborg. His daughter is my best friend. I don't want to hear her
Hamar. Your Highness will admit that it is possible to be the
daughter of a _very_ rich man without being as proud and as vain
as--as the lady I am not allowed to mention!
Valborg. Nanna is neither proud nor vain. She is absolutely
genuine. She had the aptitude for being exactly what she thought
she was--a rich man's daughter.
Hamar. Has she the "aptitude" for being a bankrupt's daughter
Valborg. Certainly. She has sold all her trinkets, her dresses--
every single thing she had. What she wears, she has either paid for
herself or obtained by promising future payment.
Hamar. May I ask if she kept her stockings?
Valborg. She sent everything to a sale.
Hamar. If I had known that I would certainly have attended it!
Valborg. Yes, I daresay there was plenty to make fun of, and
plenty of idle loafers, too, who were not ashamed to do so.
Mrs. Tjaelde. Children, children!
Hamar. May I ask if Miss Nanna sent her own idleness to the sale
with her other effects?--because I have never known any one with a
finer supply of it!
Valborg. She never thought she would need to work.
Tjaelde (coming forward to VALBORG). To take up the thread of what
we were saying: you don't understand what a business-man's hope is
from one day to the other--always a renewed hope. That fact does
not make him a swindler. He may be unduly sanguine, perhaps--a
poet, if you like, who lives in a world of dreams--or he may be a
real genius, who sees land ahead when no one else suspects it.
Valborg. I don't think I misunderstand the real state of affairs.
But perhaps you do, father. Because is not what you call hope,
poetry, genius, merely speculating with what belongs to others,
when a man knows that he owes more than he has got?
Tjaelde. It may be very difficult to be certain even whether he
does that or not.
Valborg. Really? I should have thought his books would tell him--
Tjaelde. About his assets and his liabilities, certainly. But
values are fluctuating things; and he may always have in hand some
venture which, though it cannot be specified, may alter the whole
Valborg. If he undeniably owes more than he possesses, any venture
he undertakes must be a speculation with other people's money.
Tjaelde. Well--perhaps that is so; but that does not mean that he
steals the money--he only uses it in trust for them.
Valborg. Entrusted to him on the false supposition that he is
Tjaelde. But possibly that money may save the whole situation.
Valborg. That does not alter the fact that he has got the use of it
by a lie.
Tjaelde. You use very harsh terms. (MRS. TJAELDE has once or twice
been making signs to VALBORG, which the latter sees but pays no
Valborg. In that case the lie consists in the concealment.
Tjaelde. But what do you want him to do? To lay all his cards on
the table, and so ruin both himself and the others?
Valborg. Yes, he ought to take every one concerned into his
Tjaelde. Bah! In that case we should see a thousand failures every
year, and fortunes lost one after the other everywhere! No, you
have a level head, Valborg, but your ideas are narrow. Look here,
where are the newspapers? (SIGNE, who has been talking confidentially
to HAMAR on the verandah, comes forward.)
Signe. I took them down to your office. I did not know you meant to
stay in here.
Tjaelde. Oh, bother the office! Please fetch them for me. (SIGNE
goes out, followed by Hamar.)
Mrs. Tjaelde (in an undertone to VALBORG). Why will you never
listen to your mother, Valborg? (VALBORG goes out to the verandah;
leans on the edge of it, with her head on her hands, and looks
Tjaelde. I think I will change my coat. Oh no, I will wait till
Mrs. Tjaelde. Dinner! And here I am still sitting here!
Tjaelde. Are we expecting any one?
Mrs. Tjaelde. Yes, have you forgotten?
Tjaelde. Of course, yes.
Mrs. Tjaelde (going out). What on earth am I to order?
(TJAELDE comes forward as soon as he is alone, sits down on a chair
with a weary, harassed expression, and buries his face in his hands
with a sigh. SIGNE and HAMAR come back, she carrying some
newspapers. HAMAR is going out to the verandah again, but SIGNE
pulls him back.)
Signe. Here you are, father. Here are--
Tjaelde. What? Who?
Signe (astonished). The newspapers.
Tjaelde. Ah, yes. Give them to me.(Opens them hurriedly. They are
mostly foreign papers, in which he scans the money articles one
Signe (after a whispered conversation with HAMAR). Father!
Tjaelde (without looking up from the papers).Well? (To himself,
gloomily.) Down again, always down!
Signe. Hamar and I want so much to go into town again to Aunt
Tjaelde. But you know you were there only a fortnight ago. I
received your bills yesterday. Have you seen them?
Signe. No need for that, father, if _you_ have seen them! Why do
Tjaelde. Oh--because I see that stocks keep falling.
Signe. Pooh! Why should you bother about that? Now you are sighing
again. I am sure you know how horrid it is for those you love not
to have what they want. You won't be so unkind to us, father?
Tjaelde. No, my child, it can't be done.
Tjaelde. Because--because--well, because now that it is summer time
so many people will be coming here whom we shall have to entertain.
Signe. But entertaining people is the most tiresome thing I know,
and Hamar agrees with me.
Tjaelde. Don't you think I have to do tiresome things sometimes,
Signe. Father dear, why are you talking so solemnly and
ceremoniously? It sounds quite funny from you!
Tjaelde. Seriously, my child, it is by no means an unimportant
matter for a big business house like ours, with such a wide-spread
connection, that people coming here from all quarters should find
themselves hospitably received. You might do that much for me.
Signe. Hamar and I will never have a moment alone at that rate.
Tjaelde. I think you mostly squabble when you are alone.
Signe. Squabble? That is a very ugly word, father.
Tjaelde. Besides, you would be no more alone if you were in town.
Signe. Oh, but it is quite different there!
Tjaelde. So I should think--from the way you throw your money
Signe (laughing). Throw our money about! What else have we to do?
Isn't that what we are for? Daddy, listen--dear old dad--
Tjaelde. No, dear--no.
Signe. You have never been so horrid to me before.
Hamar (who has been making signs to her to stop, whispers). Can't
you be quiet! Don't you see he is put out about something?
Signe (whispering). Well, you might have backed me up a little.
Hamar (as before). No, I am a bit wiser than you.
Signe (as before). You have been so odd lately. I am sure I don't
know what you want?
Hamar (as before). Oh, well, it doesn't matter now--because I am
going to town alone.
Signe (as before). What are you going to do?
Hamar (going). I am going to town alone. I am sick of this!
Signe (following him). Just you try! (Both go out by the verandah,
to the right. TJAELDE lets the newspapers fall out of his hands
with a heavy sigh.)
Valborg (looking in from the verandah). Father! (TJAELDE starts.)
There goes Mr. Berent, the lawyer from Christiania.
Tjaelde (getting up). Berent? Where? On the wharf?
Valborg. Yes. (Comes back into the room. TJAELDE looks out of the
window.) The reason I told you was because I saw him yesterday at
the timber-yard, and a little while before that, at the brewery and
at the works.
Tjaelde (to himself). What can that mean? (Aloud.) Oh, I know he is
very fond of making little trips to all sorts of places in the
summer. This year he has come here--and no doubt he likes to see
the chief industries of the place. There is not much else here to
see! But are you sure it is he? I think--
Valborg (looking out). Yes, it is he. Look now, you know his walk--
Tjaelde. --and his trick of crossing his feet--yes, it is he. It
looks as if he were coming here.
Valborg. No, he has turned away.
Tjaelde. All the better! (To himself, thoughtfully.) Could it
possibly mean--? (SANNAES comes in from the right.)
Sannaes. Am I disturbing you, sir?
Tjaelde. Is that you, Sannaes? (SANNAES, as he comes forward, sees
VALBORG standing by the farther window. He appears frightened and
hides his hands quickly behind his back.) What do you want?
(VALBORG looks at SANNAES, then goes on to the verandah and out to
the right.) What is it, man? What the deuce are you standing there
Sannaes (bringing his hands from behind his back as soon as VALBORG
has passed him, and looking after her.) I didn't like to ask you,
before Miss Valborg, whether you are coming down to your office
to-day or not.
Tjaelde. Have you gone mad? Why on earth shouldn't you ask me that
before Miss Valborg?
Sannaes. I mean that--if not--I should like to speak to you here,
if it is convenient.
Tjaelde. Look here, Sannaes, you ought to try and get rid of your
shyness; it doesn't suit a business man. A business man should be
smart and active, and not let his wits go wool-gathering because he
finds himself in the same room with a woman. I have often noticed
it in you.--Now, what is it? Out with it!
Sannaes. You are not coming to the office this morning, sir?
Tjaelde. No, there is no post goes out before this evening.
Sannaes. No. But there are some bills of exchange--
Tjaelde. Bills? No.
Sannaes. Yes, sir--that fourth one of Moeller's that was protested,
and the big English one.
Tjaelde (angrily). Have they not been met yet? What does this mean?
Sannaes. The manager of the bank wanted to see you first, sir!
Tjaelde. Have you gone crazy--? (Collects himself.) There must be
some misunderstanding, Sannaes.
Sannaes. That is what I thought; so I spoke about it to the chief
clerk, and to Mr. Holst as well.
Tjaelde. And Mr. Holst said--?
Sannaes. The same thing.
Tjaelde (walking up and down). I will go and see him--or rather, I
_won't_ go and see him; because this is evidently something that--.
We have some days' grace yet, haven't we?
Sannaes. Yes, sir.
Tjaelde. And still no telegram from Mr. Lind?
Sannaes. No, sir.
Tjaelde (to himself). I can't understand it. (Aloud.) We will
negotiate this matter direct with Christiania, Sannaes. That is
what we will do--and leave these little local banks alone in
future. That will do, Sannaes! (Makes a gesture of dismissal. Then
says to himself:) That damned Moeller! It has made them all
suspicious! (Turns round and sees SANNAES still there.) What are
you waiting for?
Sannaes. It is settling day--and I have no money in the safe.
Tjaelde. No money in the safe! A big business like this, and
nothing in the safe on settling day! What kind of management is
that, I should like to know? Must I teach you the A B C of business
over and over again? One can never take a half day off, or hand
over the control! of the tiniest part of the business--! I have no
one, absolutely no one, that I can rely on! How have you let things
get into such a state?
Sannaes. Well, there was a third bill, which expired to-day--Holm
and Co., for L400. I had relied upon the bank, unfortunately--so
there was nothing for it but to empty the safe--here and at the
brewery as well.
Tjaelde (walking about restlessly). Hm--hm--hm!--Now, who can have
put that into Holst's head?--Very well, that will do. (Dismisses
SANNAES, who goes out but comes back immediately.)
Sannaes (whispering). Here is Mr. Berent!
Tjaelde (surprised). Coming here?
Sannaes. He is just coming up the steps! (Goes out by the further
door on the right.)
Tjaelde. (calls after him in a whisper). Send up some wine and
cakes!--It is just as I suspected! (Catches sight of himself in a
mirror.) Good Lord, how bad I look! (Turns away painfully from the
mirror; looks in it again, forces a smile to his face, and so,
smiling, goes towards the verandah, where BERENT is seen coming in
slowly from the left.)
Tjaelde (greeting BERENT politely but with reserve). I feel
honoured at receiving a visit from so distinguished a man.
Berent. Mr. Tjaelde, I believe?
Tjaelde. At your service! My eldest daughter has just been
telling me that she had seen you walking about my property.
Berent. Yes; an extensive property--and an extensive business.
Tjaelde. Too extensive, Mr. Berent. Too many-sided. But one thing
has led to another. Pray sit down.
Berent. Thank you; it is very warm to-day. (A maid brings in cakes
and wine, and puts them on the table.)
Tjaelde. Let me give you a glass of wine?
Berent. No, thank you.
Tjaelde. Or something to eat?
Berent. Nothing, thank you.
Tjaelde (taking out his cigar-case). May I offer you a cigar? I can
answer for their quality.
Berent. I am very fond of a good cigar. But for the moment I will
not take anything, thank you! (A pause. TJAELDE takes a seat.)
Tjaelde (in a quiet, confidential voice). Have you been long here,
Berent. Only a day or two. You have been away, have you not?
Tjaelde. Yes--that unhappy affair of Mr. Moeller's. A meeting of
creditors after the sale.
Berent. Times are hard just now.
Tjaelde. Extraordinarily so!
Berent. Do you think that Moeller's failure will bring down any
more firms with it-besides those we know of already, I mean?
Tjaelde. I don't think so. His--his misfortune was an exceptional
case in every respect.
Berent. It has made the banks a little nervous, I hear.
Tjaelde. I dare say.
Berent. Of course you know the state of affairs here better than
Tjaelde. (with a smile). I am very much indebted to you for your
flattering confidence in me.
Berent. I suppose all this might have a bad effect upon the
export trade of this part of the country?
Tjaelde. Yes--it is really hard to tell; but the important thing
certainly is to keep every one on their legs.
Berent. That is your opinion?
Berent. As a general rule a crisis of this sort shows up the
unsound elements in a commercial community.
Tjaelde (with a smile). And for that reason this crisis should be
allowed to take its natural course, you mean?
Berent. That is my meaning.
Tjaelde. Hm!--In some places it is possible that the dividing line
between the sound firms and the unsound may not be very distinct.
Berent. Can there really be any danger of such a thing here?
Tjaelde. Well--you are expecting too much of my knowledge of
affairs; but I should be inclined to think that there may. (A
Berent. I have been instructed by the banks to prepare an opinion
upon the situation--a fact which I have, so far, only confided to
Tjaelde. I am much obliged.
Berent. The smaller local banks here have combined, and are acting
Tjaelde. Indeed? (A pause.) I suppose you have seen Mr. Holst,
Berent. Of course. (A pause.) If we are to assist the sound firms
and leave the others to their fate, the best way will certainly be
for all alike to disclose their actual position.
Tjaelde. Is that Mr. Holst's opinion too?
Berent. It is. (A pause.) I have advised him for the present--at
all events till we have all the balance-sheets--to say "no" to
every request for an advance, without exception.
Tjaelde. (with a look of relief). I understand!
Berent. Only a temporary measure, of course--
Tjaelde. Quite so!
Berent. --but one that must apply to every one impartially.
Berent. Not to treat every one alike would be to run the danger of
throwing premature suspicion on individuals.
Tjaelde. I quite agree.
Berent. I am delighted to hear it. Then you will not misunderstand
me if I ask you also to prepare a balance-sheet which shall show
the actual position of your firm.
Tjaelde. With the greatest pleasure, if by doing so I can assist
the general welfare.
Berent. I assure you, you can. It is by such means that public
confidence is strengthened.
Tjaelde. When do you want the balance-sheet? Of course, it can
only be a summary one.
Berent. Naturally. I will give myself the pleasure of calling for
Tjaelde. By no means. I can let you have it at once, if you like. I
am in the habit of frequently drawing up summary balance-sheets of
that kind--as prices rise and fall, you know.
Berent. Indeed? (Smiles.) You know, of course, what they say of
swindlers--that they draw up three balance-sheets everyday, and
all different! But you are teaching me, apparently--
Tjaelde (laughing). --that others too, may have that bad habit!--
though I haven't actually got as far as three a day!
Berent. Of course I was only joking. (Gets up.)
Tjaelde (getting up). Of course. I will send it to the hotel in an
hour's time; for I suppose you are staying in our only so-called
hotel! Would you not care, for the rest of your stay, to move
your things over here and make yourself at home in a couple of
empty spare rooms that I have?
Bercnt. Thank you, but the length of my stay is so uncertain; and
the state of my health imposes habits upon me which are
embarrassing to every one, and to myself most of all, when I am
Tjaelde. But at all events I hope you will dine with us to-day? I
expect one or two friends. And perhaps a short sail afterwards; it
is very pretty among the islands here.
Berent. Thank you, but my health won't allow me such dissipations.
Tjaelde. Ha, ha!--Well, if I can be of any further service to you--?
Berent. I should be glad to have a talk with you before I leave,
preferably as soon as possible.
Tjaelde (somewhat surprised). You mean, after you have received
all the balance-sheets?
Berent. I have already managed to get most of them quietly, through
Tjaelde (more surprised). Oh--so you mean to-day--?
Berent. Would five o'clock suit you?
Tjaelde. I am quite at your disposal! I will give myself the
pleasure of calling upon you at five.
Berent. No, I will come here at five o'clock. (Bows, and turns to
Tjaelde (following him). But you are the invalid--the older man--
and a distinguished man--
Berent. But you are at home here. Good-bye!
Tjaelde. Let me thank you for the honour you have done me by
calling upon me!
Berent. Please don't bother to see me out.
Tjaelde. Allow me to escort you?
Berent. I can find the way quite well, thank you.
Tjaelde. No doubt, no doubt-but I should feel it an honour!
Berent. As you please! (As they are about to go down the verandah
steps they are met by SIGNE and HAMAR, who are coming up arm in
arm. Each couple draws aside to make room for the other.)
Tjaelde. Let me introduce--no, I am sure Mr. Berent needs no
introduction. This is my youngest daughter--and her fiance,
Berent. I thought your regiment was at the manoeuvres, Lieutenant?
Hamar. I have got furlough--
Berent. On account of urgent business, no doubt! Good day!
Tjaelde. Ha, ha, ha! (He and BERENT go down the steps.)
Hamar. Insolent fellow! But he is like that to every one.
Signe. Not to my father, as far as I could see.
Hamar. Your father is insolent too.
Signe. You shan't say such things of father!
Hamar. What else do you call it, to laugh at such impertinence as
Signe. I call it good spirits! (Sits down in a rocking-chair and
begins rocking herself.)
Hamar. Oh, then, so you--. You are not very agreeable to-day.
Signe (still rocking herself). No; do you know, sometimes I get so
bored with you.
Hamar. Yet you won't let me go away?
Signe. Because I should be still worse bored without you.
Hamar. Let me tell you this, I am not going to put up much longer
with the way I am treated here!
Signe. Very well. (Takes off her engagement ring and holds it
between her finger and her thumb, as she rocks herself and hums a
Hamar. Oh, I don't say anything about _you_; but look at Valborg!
Look at your father! He hasn't even as much as offered me a mount
on his new horse!
Signe. He has had something else to think about--possibly something
even more important than that. (Goes on humming.)
Hamar. Oh, do be nice, Signe! You must admit that my feelings are
very natural. Indeed, to speak quite candidly--because I know I can
say anything to you--it seems to me that, as I am to be his
son-in-law and am in a cavalry regiment, and as he has no sons of
his own, I might almost expect that--that he would make me a
present of the horse.
Signe. Ha, ha, ha!
Hamar. Does it seem so unreasonable to you?
Signe. Ha, ha, ha!
Hamar. Why do you laugh at what I say, Signe? It seems to me that
it would reflect very well on your family if, when my friends
admired my horse, I could say: "My father-in-law made me a present
of it." Because, you know, there isn't a finer horse in the whole
Signe. And that is the reason why you should have it? Ha, ha, ha!
Hamar. I won't stand it!
Signe. The peerless lieutenant on the peerless horse! Ha, ha, ha!
Hamar. Signe, be quiet!
Signe. You are so funny! (Begins to hum again.)
Hamar. Listen, Signe! No one has so much influence with your father
as you.--Oh, do listen! Can't you talk seriously for a moment?
Signe. I should like to! (Goes on humming.)
Hamar. My idea was that, if that horse were mine, I would stay here
for the summer and break it in thoroughly. (SIGNE stops rocking
herself and humming. HAMAR comes up to her chair and leans over
her.) In that case I would not go back till the autumn, and then
you could come with the horse and me into town. Wouldn't that be
Signe (after looking at him for a moment). Oh, yes, my dear, you
always have such delightful ideas!
Hamar. Don't I! But the whole thing depends, of course, on whether
you can get the horse from your father. Will you try, darling?
Signe. And then you would stay here all the summer?
Hamar. All the summer!
Signe. So as to break in the horse.
Hamar. Just to break in the horse!
Signe. And I would go with you into town in the autumn--that was
what you said, wasn't it?
Hamar. Yes; wouldn't it be jolly?
Signe. Shall you take the bay horse to stay with your Aunt Ulla
Hamar (laughing). What?
Signe. Well, you have spent your furlough here simply for the sake
of that horse--I know that well enough--and you propose to stay
here, just to break it in-and then you propose that the horse and I
should go to your aunt's--
Hamar. But, Signe, what do you--?
Signe (beginning to rock herself furiously). Ugh! Go away!
Hamar. Jealous of a horse! Ha, ha, ha!
Signe. Go away to the stables.
Hamar. Is that meant for a punishment? Because it would be more
amusing there than it is here.
Signe (throwing down her ring). There! Let your horse wear that!
Hamar. Every time you throw down that ring--
Signe. Oh, you have said that so often! I am tired of that too!
(Turns her chair round so as to turn her back on him.)
Hamar. You are such a spoilt child that it would be absurd to take
everything you say seriously--
Signe. I am sick of that too, I tell you--for the hundred and
twentieth time! Go away!
Hamar. But can't you see how ridiculous it is of you to be jealous
of a horse? Have you ever heard of anyone else behaving like that?
Signe (jumping up). Oh, you make me want to shout and scream!
I feel so ashamed of you! (Stamps her foot.) I despise you!
Hamar (laughing). And all on account of the horse?
Signe. No, on your own account--yours, yours! I feel so miserable
sometimes, I should like to throw myself down on the floor and
cry--or run away and never come back! Can't you let me alone!
Can't you go away!
Hamar. Yes--and I have not picked up the ring this time, either!
Signe. Oh, do go!--go, go, go! (Bursts out crying and sits down.)
Hamar. All right!--I see the steamer in the distance; I shall go
home at once.
Signe. Oh, you know as well as I do that that steamer goes the
other way! Oh! (Cries. The masts and funnel of a steamer come
into sight, and a trail of smoke passes over the sky. TJAELDE'S
voice is heard outside, calling: "Hurry up! Take the lieutenant's
boat; it is ready!" SIGNE jumps up.)
Hamar. They are going to fetch some one from the steamer!
(TJAELDE'S voice is heard again: "You get the boat out! He is
coming here!" HAMAR runs to pick up the ring and comes back
hurriedly to SIGNE.) Signe!
Signe. No, I won't!
Hamar. Signe, dear! What does this mean? What is it that I have
Signe. I don't know, but I am wretchedly unhappy! (Bursts into
Hamar. But you know that in the end I always do what you want? What
more can you wish than that?
Signe. I can't help it, I wish I were dead! It is always the same
thing! (In tears again.)
Hamar. But, Signe--you who have told me hundreds of times that
you loved me!
Signe. And so I do. But sometimes our engagement seems horrible!--
No, don't come near me!
Hamar. Signe! (TJAELDE'S voice is heard outside: "Of course, put
your best coat on!" He calls louder: "Sannaes!" An answering voice
is heard in the distance. TJAELDE continues: "Don't forget your
gloves!") Dry your eyes, Signe! Don't let him see you have been
crying. (He tries to give her the ring, but she turns away, wiping
her eyes. TJAELDE comes up the steps on to the verandah.)
Tjaelde. Oh, there you are! That's right. Mr. Lind is arriving by
this steamer--I had a telegram from him just now. (Calls out over
the verandah.) Come along with those flags! And get this boat out
of the way and unstep her mast! She is moored up tight! (HAMAR runs
to help him.) Yes, you cast her off! (HAMAR does so, and the boat
is hauled away to the right. TJAELDE comes forward into the room.)
Signe! (Looks at her.) What? Squabbling again?
Tjaelde. Well, this is no time for tomfoolery of that sort! You
must all do the honours of the house to-day. Tell Valborg--
Signe. Tell her yourself, please! You know Valborg only does
just what she likes.
Tjaelde. Don't talk such rubbish! This is an important moment--
and you will all do as _I_ say! Tell Valborg that she is to make
herself look nice and come to me here. And you do the same. (She
Signe (stopping). Yes?
Tjaelde. We must ask five or six more people to dinner. You must
send word to Mr. Finne that we shall dine punctually at three
o'clock, instead of four. Mr. Lind has to go away again by the
next boat, at five o'clock. Do you understand?
Signe. But has mother enough in the house for so many?
Tjaelde. It is not a mere question of there being enough--it must
be a very good dinner. I expect my larder to be kept thoroughly
well stocked all through the summer. How often am I to repeat that?
Signe (trying to repress her fears). But mother is feeling so ill
Tjaelde. Oh! don't begin about that everlasting "feeling ill."
There is no time to-day to feel ill. Now, be quick! (SIGNE goes out
by the farther door. TJAELDE turns to HAMAR.) Get a pen and ink and
some paper! We must draw up a list of guests, at once!
Hamar (looking about). There is none here.
Tjaelde (impatiently). Fetch some, then! (HAMAR goes into the next
room. TJAELDE, after a long sigh of relief, reads a telegram he has
in his hand. His hand trembles as he reads it slowly, repeating
some passages twice.) "Letter received just as starting. Before
taking charge of affairs, must have interview. Coming to-day
earliest boat, return five o'clock. Have clear statement ready.
Lind." I can hardly read it--but it is true! Yes, if I can only
work this properly all doors will be open to me! (To HAMAR, who has
come back.) Ah, there you are! It would take too long to write
invitations. We will just draw up a list of names and one of my
clerks shall run round to them all. Now then! (Dictates.) The
Vicar--Oh, by the way, what is the champagne like?
Hamar. Do you mean the new lot?
Hamar. The Vicar praised it highly.
Tjaelde. Good. Well, then--
Hamar (writing). The Vicar.
Tjzlde. Mr. Ring.
Hamar. Mr. Ring.
Hamar. Mr. Holst?
Tjaelde. No, not Holst. (HAMAR appears greatly astonished. TJAELDE
says to himself:) I can show him now that I have no need of him!
(Suddenly, to HAMAR.) Mr. Holm. (To himself.) Holst's enemy!
Hamar. Mr. Holm.
Tjaelde (to himself). Although Holm is a boor. Still, it will
annoy Holst. (Aloud.) The Chief Constable.
Hamar. The Chief--
Tjaelde. No, strike out the Chief Constable.
Hamar. Chief Constable struck out.
Tjaelde. Have we got the Vicar down?
Hamar. He is number one on the list.
Tjaelde. Of course, yes.
Hamar. What about the Magistrate?
Tjaelde. No, he lives too far off. Besides, unless he is the guest
of honour and can talk shop all the time--. No! But, let me see.
Mr. Knutzon--Knutzon with a "z."
Hamar. Knutzon with a "z."
Tjaelde. Oh!--and--Knudsen, too! Knudsen with an "s."
Hamar. Knudsen with an "s."
Tjaelde. How many have we got?
Hamar. The Vicar, Ring, Holm, the Chief--oh, no, the Chief
Constable was struck out; Knutzon with a "z," Knudsen with an
"s "--that is one, two, three, four, five, six.
Tjaelde. And Finne, you, and I make nine. We must have twelve.
Hamar. What about some ladies?
Tjaelde. No; ladies are out of place at a business dinner. They
may do the honours afterwards, when we have got to the cigarette
stage. But whom shall we--?
Hamar. That new lawyer fellow? He's a smart chap--I can't remember
Tjaelde. No, he always wants to be speechifying wherever he goes.--
Ah, Mr. Pram, the custom-house officer!
Hamar. That man? He always gets drunk!
Tjaelde. Yes, but he doesn't get noisy with it. He does no harm--
quite the contrary! Yes, put down Pram.
Hamar. Mr. Pram.
Tjaelde. It is a very difficult task, in such a small town, when
you want to get a good set of people together. Ah!--Falbe! I forgot
him. He is very neat, and no opinions.
Hamar. Neat in his dress, do you mean?
Tjaelde. Yes, in his dress too-but I meant it more generally. Now,
for the twelfth--Morten Schultz?
Hamar. Morten Schultz! (Gets up.) No, really, I must take the
liberty of protesting against him! Do you really know what he did
the last time he was here, when you had a lot of guests? In the
middle of dinner he took out his false teeth and began showing them
to his neighbours. He wanted to have them passed round the table!
If that is your idea of a good set of people--well!
Tjaelde. Yes, he is rather a rough diamond. But he is the richest
man about here.
Hamar (who has sat down again). Well in that case he really ought
to afford himself a new wig! It is far from pleasant to sit beside
him, I can assure you!
Tjaelde. Yes, I know he is a pig; but he is wide awake, and this
would flatter him! You see, my young friend, when a man is very rich
you must make certain allowances for him.
Hamar. I can't understand what _you_ can hope to get out of him.
Tjaelde. Hm, hm!--No, well, perhaps we had better leave him out?
Tjaelde (to himself). Although Lind would understand the
significance of Morten Schultz's being here--
Hamar. And the things he says! Ladies have to leave the room!
Tjaelde. Yes, you are right. (Mutters to himself.) And, after all,
I don't need him any longer. (Aloud.) But what about our twelfth,
then? Let me see--.
Hamar. Christopher Hansen?
Tjaelde. Oh, Lord! no. We should have to talk politics. No, let me
see--. Yes, I think I might risk it! Hm, hm--yes, just the man!
Jakobsen, the brewery manager.
Tjaelde. Hm, hm! Jakobsen will do very well. I know Jakobsen.
Hamar. Oh, he is a very good fellow--we all know that, but in
Tjaelde. Hm, hm, hm!--Put him down!
Hamar (writing). Jakobsen. There, then! (Gets up.)
Tjaelde. Now let Skogstad go with the list! Remember, three o'clock
punctually! And be quick! (Calls after HAMAR, who is going out.)
And come back when you have given him the list! There may be
something more to do! (HAMAR goes out by the nearer door. TJAELDE
takes a letter out of his pocket.) Ah, of course! Shall I send the
balance-sheet to Berent? I am independent of the banks now. Still,
I am not out of the wood yet. And, anyway, it is a very pretty
balance-sheet! Holst would be sure to see it, and that might be
useful--and it might annoy him, too. Besides, if I don't send it,
they will think that my promising to send it had put me into a
hole, and that Lind had helped me out of it. I risk least by
sending it. (HAMAR comes back.) Look here, let him take this
letter, too. It is for Mr. Berent, at the Hotel Victoria.
Hamar. Is this an invitation? Because, if it is, we shall be
thirteen at table.
Tjaelde. It is not an invitation. Be quick, before he goes. (HAMAR
goes out again.) Oh, if only it succeeds! Lind is the sort of man
one can persuade--and I must, I must persuade him! (Looks at his
watch.) I have four whole hours to do it in. I have never felt so
hopeful--not for a long time. (Is lost in thought; then says
quietly:) After all, sometimes a crisis is a good thing--like a big
wave that carries one on!--They have all had their suspicions
aroused now, and are all ready to get into a panic. (Sighs.) If
only I could get safely out of my difficulties without any one's
suspecting it!--Oh, this anxious fear, night and day!--all this
mystery, these shifts, these concealments, this farce I have to
keep up! I go about my business as if I were in a dream.
(Despairingly.) This shall be the last time--my last performance
of this sort! No more of it!--I only need a helping hand now, and
I have got it! But _have_ I got it? that is the question. Oh! if
only, after this, I could know what it was to have a good night's
sleep and to wake in the morning free from anxiety!--to join them
at meals with an easy conscience!--come home in the evening and
feel that it was all done with! If only I had something to take my
stand upon that I could call my own--really and truly my own! I
hardly dare to believe that there is a chance--I have so often been
disappointed! (HAMAR comes back.)
Hamar. There--that's done!
Tjaelde. Good Lord, what about a salute from our cannon? We must
give him a salute!
Hamar. We have powder.
Tjaelde. Then send word up at once to Ole to see about it! (They
hurry out. The curtain falls.)
(SCENE.--The same room. The table, which has been drawn to one
side, is covered with bottles of champagne aged dishes of fruit.
MRS. TJAELDE and SIGNE, with a man-servant and a maid, are busy
preparing it. Through the door on the right a lively conversation
can be heard, and occasional bursts of laughter.)
Mrs. Tjaelde (in a tired voice). Now I think it is all ready.
Signe. They are talking a long time over their dinner.
Mrs. Tjaelde (looking at her watch). Yes, they will only have half
an hour for their dessert, because Mr. Lind has to leave at five
Signe. Ah, they have finished at last! Listen, they are getting up
from the table. (Amidst the loud noise of conversation the noise of
chairs being pushed back is audible.) Here they come!
Mrs. Tjaelde. Yes; let us retreat. (The maid goes out by the
farther door; SIGNE helps MRS. TJAELDE out after her. The
man-servant begins opening the champagne. The guests come in from
the dining-room, headed by LIND escorted by TJAELDE, whom he is
assuring that the dinner was excellent, to which TJAELDE replies
that it is impossible to do much in a small country town. Both look
at their watches, and observe that there is only half an hour left.
TJAELDE vainly endeavours to persuade LIND to stay longer. Close
behind them come HOLM and RING, engaged in an animated dispute
about timber prices, the former maintaining that they will fall
still lower, the latter that they will rise speedily owing to the
fall in the prices of coal and iron, a point of view which the
former vigorously controverts. Immediately behind them comes the
VICAR, escorted by HAMAR, who is a little tipsy. The VICAR is
assuring him that he has no objection to parishioners repudiating
the obligation to attend the services of their own priest, so long
as they are compelled to pay him for those services whether they
avail themselves of them or not; because order, which is an
essential characteristic of the Heavenly Kingdom, must be
maintained. HAMAR tries to get in a word or two about the bay
horse, but without success. At the same time KNUTZON and FALBE are
deep in a discussion about a dancer whom FALBE has seen at Hamburg.
He is maintaining that she can leap six feet into the air, which
KNUTZON ventures to doubt, but FALBE says there is no doubt about
it, and he knows because he has once sat at the same dinner-table
with her. FINNE, KNUDSEN, and JAKOBSEN follow them. JAKOBSEN is
heard challenging any one to contradict him, while the others
eagerly protest that he has entirely misunderstood their meaning.
He affirms stoutly that he doesn't care a damn what they meant, but
that his employer is the greatest business man and the finest
fellow in the world, or at all events in Norway. PRAM comes in by
himself, wrapt in tipsy contemplation. They all talk at the same
Tjaelde (rapping on a glass). Gentlemen! (There is a sudden
silence, except for the sound of the voices of FALBE and JAKOBSEN,
who are hushed down by the others.) Gentlemen! I am sorry dinner
has occupied such a long time.
All (unanimously). No, no!
Tjaelde. Our distinguished guest has, unfortunately, to leave us in
half an hour, so I should like to take the opportunity of saying a
few words. Gentlemen, we have a prince among us to-day. I say a
prince, because if it is true that it is the financiers that rule
the world--and it is true, gentlemen--
Pram (who is standing well forward, supporting himself by the edge
of the table, says solemnly:) Yes.
Tjaelde. --then our friend here is a prince! There is not a single
important undertaking that he has not initiated, or at any rate
backed with his name.
Pram (lifting his glass). Mr. Lind, may I have the honour--?
Voices. Sh! Sh!
Tjaelde. Yes, gentlemen, his name backs every enterprise. It would
be impossible to carry one through that had not his backing.
Pram (solemnly). His backing.
Tjaelde. Am I not right, then, in describing him as a prince?
Falbe (in a feeble voice). Yes.
Tjaelde. Gentlemen, to-day his name is once more exercising its
powerful, I might say its creative, influence upon circumstances.
I may say that at this moment the country holds no truer benefactor
Pram. Great man.
Tjaelde. Let us drink his health! May prosperity attend him and
his, and may his name be deathless in Norway! Mr. Lind!
All. Mr. Lind! Mr. Lind! (They all drink his health effusively.)
Tjaelde (to HAMAR, whom he pulls forward somewhat roughly, as the
others begin to help themselves to the dessert.) What has become of
Hamar (in consternation).Good Lord, yes! (Rushes to the window, but
comes back.) I have no handkerchief. I must have laid it down in
Tjaelde. Here is mine!(Feels in his pocket for it.) One cannot rely
on you for the least thing. The salute will be too late now. It is
disgraceful! (HAMAR goes to the window and waves the handkerchief
madly. At last the report of a cannon is heard. The guests are
standing in a group, holding their dessert plates.)
Holm. A little bit late!
Knutzon. Rather behind the moment--
Ring. A very important moment, however!
Holm. A very unexpected one, anyway!
Knutzon (jestingly). Allow me, amidst the cannon's roar, to
introduce to you a man who has been led by the nose!
Ring. Oh, Tjaelde knows what he is about!
Tjaelde. Mr. Lind is kind enough to wish to propose a toast. (They
all compose themselves into respectful silence.)
Lind. Our worthy host has proposed my health in most flattering
terms. I would merely add this, that wealth is entrusted to those
who have it precisely in order that they may support industry,
genius, and great undertakings.
Pram (who has never changed his position). Nobly said.
Lind. I am only an administrator of a trust, and too often a weak
and short-sighted one.
Lind. But I shall not be mistaken if I say that Mr. Tjaelde's
many-sided activities, which we must all admire, rest upon a sound
foundation; and of that fact no one, at the present moment, is
better able to judge than I. (The guests look at one another in
surprise.) Therefore I have no hesitation in saying that his
activities are an honour to this town, to this district, to our
whole country, and that therefore his genius and his energy deserve
support. I propose the toast of "prosperity to the firm of
All. Prosperity to the firm of Tjaelde!
(HAMAR signals again with the handkerchief, and a cannon shot is
Tjaelde. I thank you heartily, Mr. Lind! I am profoundly touched.
Lind. I said no more than I am convinced of, Mr. Tjaelde!!
Tjaelde. Thank you! (To HAMAR.) What do you mean by signalling for
a salute for the host? Blockhead!
Hamar. You said there was to be a salute when a toast was proposed,
Tjaelde. Oh, you are a--!
Hamar (to himself). Well, if ever again I--!
Holm. Then it is an accomplished fact, I suppose?
Knutzon. _Fait accompli_! That toast represents twenty thousand
pounds, at least.
Ring. Yes, Tjaelde knows what he is about! I have always said that!
(FALBE is seen drinking ceremoniously with LIND. JAKOBSEN comes
forward, talking to KNUDSEN.)
Jakobsen (in a low voice). There isn't a word of truth in what you
Knudsen. But, my dear Jakobsen, you misunderstand me!
Jakobsen (louder). Hang it, I know my people!
Knudsen. Don't talk so loud!
Jakobsen (still louder). What I say any one may hear!
Tjaelde. (at the same moment). The Vicar wishes to say a few words.
Knudsen (to JAKOBSEN). Hush! The Vicar wishes to say a few words.
Jakobsen. Have I got to hush because that damned--
Tjaelde (in a voice of authority). The Vicar wishes to speak.
Jakobsen. I beg your pardon!
The Vicar (in a feeble voice). As the spiritual adviser of this
household, I have the pleasing duty of invoking a blessing on the
gifts that have been so richly showered upon our host and his
friends. May they be to their souls' present good and eternal
The Vicar. I am going to ask you to drink the health of our host's
dear children--those lovely girls whose welfare has been the object
of my prayers ever since they were confirmed--ever since that
memorable day when household and religious duties began to walk
side by side.
Pram. Ah, yes!
The Vicar. May they always in the future, as they have in the past,
grow in the holy fear of God and in meekness and gratitude towards
All. Miss Valborg, Miss Signe!
Hamar (in a panic). Am I to signal?
Tjaelde. Oh, go to--!
Hamar. Well, if ever again--!
Tjaelde. Thank you very much, Mr. Vicar. Like you, I hope that
the intimate relations between parent and child that exist here--
The Vicar. It has always been a pleasure to me to come into your
most hospitable house.
Tjaelde. May I have the honour of drinking a glass of wine with
you? (They drink to each other.)
The Vicar. Excellent champagne, my dear sir!
Lind (to HOLM). It pains me to hear what you say. Is it possible
that this town, which owes so much to Mr. Tjaelde, repays him
with such ingratitude?
Holm (in a low voice). One never can quite confidently rely on him.
Lind. Really? I have heard others sing his praises so loudly, you
Holm (as before). You misunderstand me. I mean his position--
Lind. His position? That must be merely envy! People are often so
unjust towards those whose enterprise has lifted them above the
heads of the crowd.
Holm. At any rate I assure you it was not from--
Lind (coldly). I don't doubt it. (Walks away from him.)
Jakobsen (with whom TJAELDE has just drunk). Gentlemen!
Knutzon (to HOLM, in passing). Is that boor really going to be
allowed to make a speech! (Going up to LIND.) May I have the honour
of drinking a glass of wine with you, Mr. Lind? (Several of the
guests begin to talk, ostentatiously indifferent to JAKOBSEN who is
trying to begin his speech.)
Jakobsen (in a formidable voice). Gentlemen! (Silence ensues, and
he continues in his usual voice.) Permit a common man to say a
word, too, on this festive occasion. I was a poor little boy when I
entered Mr. Tjaelde's employment; but he pulled me out of the
gutter. (Laughter.) I am-what I am, gentlemen! And therefore if
any here is qualified to talk about Mr. Tjaelde, it is I; because I
know him. I know he is a fine fellow.
Lind (to TJAELDE). Children and drunken men--
Tjaelde (laughing). --speak the truth!
Jakobsen. There are lots of people that will tell you one thing or
another about him--and, of course, he may have his failings like
all of us. But as I find myself in such fine company as this I am
going to say that--that--devil take me if Mr. Tjaelde isn't too
good for the lot of you! (Laughter.)
Tjaelde. That's enough, Jakobsen!
Jakobsen. No, it's not enough! Because there is one toast we have
all forgotten, although we have all had such a splendid dinner.
(Laughter. FALBE claps his hands and cries: "Bravo!") Yes, and it
is nothing to laugh at; because it is the toast of Mrs. Tjaelde's
health that we have not drunk!
Jakobsen. There's a wife and mother for you! I can tell you--and
it's true--she goes about the house attending to her duties and
preparing for our entertainment when all the time she is ill, and
she takes the whole thing on her shoulders and says nothing. God
bless her, I say!--and that is all I have to say.
Several of the Guests (raising their glasses). Mrs. Tjaelde! Mrs.
Pram (grasping JAKOBSEN by the hand). That was fine of you,
Jakobsen! (LIND joins them; PRAM steps aside respectfully.)
Lind. Will you drink a glass of wine with me, Jakobsen?
Jakobsen. Thank you, very much. I am only a common man--
Lind. But a good-hearted one! Your health! (They drink to each
other. A boat is seen putting in to shore below the verandah. Its
crew of six men stand up and toss their oars in naval fashion.
SANNAES is standing at the helm.)
Holm (in a whisper, to KNUTZON). Tjaelde knew what he was doing
when he invited Jakobsen!
Knutzon (whispering). Just look at the boat!
Ring. Tjaelde is a very clever fellow--a very clever fellow!
(VALBORG, SIGNE and MRS. TJAELDE are seen coming up the verandah
Tjaelde. Gentlemen, the moment of departure is at hand; I see the
ladies coming to take leave of our distinguished guest. Let us take
this last opportunity of gathering around him--round our prince--
and thanking him for coming! Let us cheer him with three times
Lind. Thank you, gentlemen! There is so little time left that I
must confine myself to merely bidding you all good-bye. (To MRS.
TJAELDE.) Good-bye, my dear madam! You should have heard how your
health was proposed and drunk just now. My warmest thanks for
your hospitality, and forgive me for the trouble I have caused you.
(To SIGNE.) Good-bye, Miss Signe. I am sorry time has not permitted
me to have the honour of becoming better acquainted with you; you
seem so full of spirit! But if, as you said, you are soon coming to
Signe. I shall then do myself the honour of calling upon your wife.
Lind. Thank you, thank you--you will be most welcome. (To VALBORG.)
Are you not feeling well, Miss Valborg?
Lind. You look so serious. (As VALBORG does not reply, he continues
somewhat coldly:) Good-bye, Miss Valborg. (To HAMAR.) Good-bye,
Tjaelde. Mr. Hamar.
Lind. Ah, the young man that talked to me about a horse--your
future son-in-law! Pray forgive me for not--
Hamar. Don't mention it!
Hamar. A pleasant journey, sir!
Lind (coldly, to HOLM). Good-bye, Mr. Holm.
Holm (imperturbably polite). I wish you a very pleasant journey,
Lind (to PRAM). Good-bye, Mr. Pram.
Pram (holds his hand, and seems as if he wanted to say something
but could not. At last he finds his voice). I want to thank you
for--for--I want to thank you for--for--
Lind. You are an excellent fellow!
Pram (in a relieved voice). I am so glad to hear it! Thank you.
Lind (to KNUTZON). Good-bye, Mr.--
Knutzon (hastily). Knutzon.
Pram. With a "z."
Lind (to KNUDSEN). Good-bye, Mr.--
Knudsen. Knudsen, again.
Pram. With an "s."
Lind (to FALBE). Mr--?
Lind. Good-bye, Mr. Falbe! (To RING.) I am delighted to see you
looking so well, Mr. Ring.
Ring (with a low bow). The same to you, sir!
Lind. Good-bye, Mr. Vicar!
The Vicar (holding his hand, impressively). Let me wish you good
luck and happiness, Mr. Lind--
Lind. Thank you. (Tries to get away.)
The Vicar. --in your journey over the perilous seas to foreign
Lind. Thank you. (Tries to get away.)
The Vicar. Let me wish you a safe return, Mr. Lind--
Lind. Thank you very much. (Tries to get away.)
The Vicar. --to our dear fatherland; a land, Mr. Lind, which
possesses in you--
Lind. You must excuse me, Mr. Vicar, but time presses.
The Vicar. Let me thank you for the pleasure of our meeting
to-day, Mr. Lind, for--
Lind. Indeed, there is no occasion! Good-bye! (To JAKOBSEN.)
Good-bye, Jakobsen, good-bye!
Jakobsen. Good-bye, Mr. Lind! I am only a common man, I know; but
that is no reason why I shouldn't wish you a pleasant journey too,
Lind. Certainly not, Jakobsen.--Good-bye, Mr. Finne! By the way--
just a word! (In an undertone.) You said that Mr. Berent--.
(Takes him aside.)
Tjaelde (to HAMAR). Now, remember the salute this time!--No, no,
no! Don't be in such a hurry! Wait till the boat puts off! You
want to make a mess of it again!
Hamar. Well, if ever again I--!
Tjaelde (to LIND, who holds out his hand to him). Goodbye, Mr.
Lind! (In a low voice.) No one has so much reason to thank you
for your visit as I. You are the only one that can understand--.
Lind (a shade coldly). Don't mention it, Mr. Tjaelde! Good luck to
your business! (In warmer tones.) Good-bye everybody--and thank you
all for your kindness! (The footman, who has for some time been
holding out his hat to him, gives it him, and his coat to SANNAES.
LIND steps on board the boat.)
All. Good-bye, Mr. Lind, good-bye!
Tjaelde. One cheer more! (Cheers and a cannon salute are heard
together. The boat glides away. They all wave their handkerchiefs.
TJAELDE hurries into the room.) I have no handkerchief; that
blockhead has--. (Looks at VALBORG.) Why are you not waving?
Valborg. Because I don't wish to. (TJAELDE looks at her, but says
nothing. He goes into the other room and comes back with a
table-napkin in each hand, and hurries on to the verandah.)
Tjaelde (waving and shouting). Good-bye! Good-bye!
Signe. Let us go out to the point and see the last of them!
All. Yes, yes! (All but TJAELDE and VALBORG hurry off to the
Tjaelde (coming into the room). I saw Berent coming! (VALBORG
goes out by the door on the right. TJAELDE comes forward, throws
the napkins on to a table and himself into a chair.) Oh--oh! But
this must be the last time.--I shan't need this sort of thing any
more! Never again! (Gets up wearily.) Ah, I had forgotten. Berent!
[The Curtain falls.]
[The interval between this scene and the next should be as short as
(SCENE.-TJAELDE'S private office. On the left, a desk strewn with
ledgers and papers. On the right, a stove. An easy chair by the
stove. A table in the foreground to the right; on it an inkstand
and pens. Two armchairs; one at the table facing the audience, the
other at the side of the table. Windows on either side of the desk;
a door beyond the stove. A door in the background, leading to other
offices. A bell-pull hangs down the wall. A chair on either side of
the door. Quite at the back, on the left, a staircase leading
direct to TJAELDE'S bedroom. BERENT and TJAELDE come in from the
Tjaelde. You must excuse my receiving you here. But the other
rooms are all upside down; we have had some people to dinner.
Berent. I heard you had guests.
Tjaelde. Yes, Mr. Lind from Christiana.
Berent. Quite so.
Tjaelde. Won't you sit down? (BERENT lays down his hat and coat
on a chair by the door. He comes slowly forward, sits down at the
side of the table, and takes some papers from his breast-pocket.
TJAELDE sits down at the other chair by the table and watches him
Berent. What we now want is some fixed standard by which to make
our valuations, especially of real estate. Have you any objection
to our making your business a basis for arriving at that?
Tjaelde. None at all.
Berent. Then may I make my comments on your own figures, and ask
you a few questions about them?
Tjaelde. By all means.
Berent. Well, to begin with, let us take your properties
immediately round here; they will give us the best idea of local
values. For instance, take the Mjoelstad forest; you have put that
down, I see, at L16,500.
Tjaelde (indifferently). Have I?
Berent. You bought it for L10,000.
Tjaelde. Yes, four years ago. Timber prices ruled low then.
Berent. And since then you have cut down more than L20,000
worth of timber there.
Tjaelde. Who told you so?
Berent. Mr. Holst.
Tjaelde. Holst knows nothing about it.
Berent. We must try to be very accurate, you know.
Tjaelde. Well, of course, the whole valuation is not my concern;
but those whom it does concern will protest.
Berent (taking no notice of his objection). So I think we will
reduce the L16,500 to L10,000.
Tjaelde. To L10,000! (Laughs.) As you please.
Berent. Calculating by the same standard, we can scarcely put
down the Stav forest at more than L4000.
Tjaelde. Allow me to say that, if that is the way you are going to
make your valuation, everybody in the place will have to go
Berent (with a smile). We will risk that. You have put down your
wharf and its contents at L12,000.
Tjaelde. Including two ships in course of construction--
Berent. --for which it would be difficult to find a purchaser, as
they are so far from completion.
Berent. So I think we cannot put down the wharf and its contents
at a higher figure than L8,000--and I believe even that will turn
out to be too high.
Tjaelde. If you can find me another wharf as well stocked, and
with the advantages that this one has, I will buy it whenever you
like for L8000; I am certain I should be more than L4000 to the
good over the bargain.
Berent. May I go on?
Tjaelde. If you like! I even feel a certain curiosity to view my
possessions under such an entirely new light.
Berent. As a matter of fact the items that are too highly valued
are just those that comprise this property that you live on--its
land, its gardens, its dwelling houses, warehouses, and quays-not
to mention the brewery and the factory, which I shall come to
later. Even regarded as business premises they seem to me to be
Berent, Moreover, the luxurious appointments of this house of
yours, which would very probably be superfluous for any one else,
cannot possibly be counted upon to realise their full value in a
sale. Suppose--as is indeed most likely--that it were a countryman
that bought the place?
Tjaelde. You are reckoning me as turned out of it already, then!
Berent. I am obliged to base all my calculations on what the
property would fetch if sold now.
Tjaelde (getting up). What may you happen to value it at then?
Berent. At less than half your valuation; that is to say at--
Tjaelde. You must really forgive me if I use an expression which
has been on the tip of my tongue for some time: this is scandalous!
You force yourself into a man's house, and then, under pretext of
asking for his opinion, you practically--on paper--rob him of his
Berent. I don't understand you. I am trying to arrive at a basis
for values hereabouts; and you said yourself, did you not, that it
is a matter that does not concern you alone?
Tjaelde. Certainly; but even in jest--if I may be allowed the
expression--one does not take the statement that an honourable
man has voluntarily offered and treat it as a mendacious document.
Berent. There are many different points of view from which
valuations can be made, obviously. I see nothing more in it than
Tjaelde. But don't you understand that this is like cutting into my
living flesh? Bit by bit, my property has been brought together
or created by my own work, and preserved by the most strenuous
exertions on my part under terribly trying conditions--it is bound
up with my family, with all that is dear to me--it has become a
part of my very life!
Berent (with a bow). I understand that perfectly. You have put
down the Brewery at--
Tjaelde. No; I refuse to allow you to go on in this way. You must
find some one else's property as a basis for your calculations--
you must consult some one else, whose idea of business corresponds
somewhat closer to your own ridiculous one.
Berent (leaning back in his chair). That is a pity. The banks were
anxious to be acquainted with your answers to my observations.
Tjaelde. Have you sent my statement to the banks?
Berent. With my remarks and comments on it, and Mr. Holst's.
Tjaelde. This has been a trap, then? I believed I had to deal with
Berent. The banks or I, what is the difference? It comes to the
same thing, as I represent them unreservedly.
Tjaelde. Such impudent audacity is unpardonable!
Berent. I would suggest that we avoid hard words--at all events,
for the moment--and rather consider the effect that will be
produced by the balance-sheet sent in.
Tjaelde. That some of us will see!
Berent. The banking house of Lind & Co., for instance?
Tjaelde. Do you mean to say that my balance-sheet, ornamented with
marginal notes by you and Holst, is to be submitted to Mr. Lind's
Berent. When the cannon-salutes and noise of your festivities
enlightened me as to the situation, I took the liberty of making
some inquiries of the banks.
Tjaelde. So you have been spying here, too? You have been trying to
undermine my business connections?
Berent. Is your position such, then, that you are afraid?
Tjaelde. The question is not my position, but your behaviour!
Berent. I think we had better keep to the point. You have put
down the Brewery at--
Tjaelde. No; your conduct is so absolutely underhanded that, as an
honest man, I must refuse all further dealing with you. I am, as I
said before, accustomed to have to deal with gentlemen.
Berent. I think you misunderstand the situation. Your indebtedness
to the banks is so considerable that a settlement of it may
reasonably be required of you. But to effect that you must work
with us in the matter.
Tjaelde (after a moment's thought). Very well! But, no more
details--let me know your conclusions, briefly.
Berent. My conclusions, briefly, are that you have estimated
your assets at L90,800. I estimate them at L40,600.
Tjaelde (quietly). That is to say, you make me out to have a
deficit of about L30,000?
Berent. As to that, I must point out that your estimate of your
liabilities does not agree with mine, either.
Tjaelde (quietly). Oh, of course not!
Berent. For instance, the dividend that Moeller's estate is to
yield to you.
Tjaelde. No more details! What do you put my total liabilities at?
Berent. Let me see. Your total liabilities amount, according to
your calculations, to L70,000. I estimate them at L80,000--to be
precise, at L79,372.
Tjaelde. That puts my deficit at about--
Berent. At about L39,400--or, in round figures, L40,000.
Tjaelde. Oh, by all means let us stick to round figures!
Berent. So that the difference between your views of your
balance-sheet and mine is that, whereas you give yourself a
surplus of about L20,000, I give you a deficit of about L40,000.
Tjaelde. Thank you very much.--Do you know my opinion of the whole
matter? (BERENT looks up at him.) That I am in this room with a
Berent. I have had the same opinion for some time.--The stock of
timber you hold in France I have not been able to deal with; you
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