HEDDA. [Looks do...

Hedda Gabler

Act 2


Show Type
  • : 1
  • : 1
Age Ranges
  • Adult
Norway, nineteenth-century
Act 2

Scene Context

Judge Brack has come to call on Hedda while her husband is away from home. The pair have a

Scene Text

HEDDA. [Looks down the garden, and calls:] So you are here again, 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!

BRACK. [Calling unseen.] No, no, no! Don't stand aiming at me!

HEDDA. This is what comes of sneaking in by the back way.(7) [She fires.

BRACK. [Nearer.] Are you out of your senses—!

HEDDA. Dear me—did I happen to hit you?

BRACK. [Still outside.] I wish you would let these pranks alone!

HEDDA. Come 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.

BRACK. What the deuce—haven't you tired of that sport, yet? What are you shooting at?

HEDDA. Oh, I am only firing in the air.

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.

HEDDA. Then what in heaven's name would you have me do with myself?

BRACK. Have you had no visitors?

HEDDA. [Closing the glass door.] Not one. I suppose all our set are still out of town.

BRACK. And 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.

BRACK. H'm—how stupid of me not to have thought of that!

HEDDA. [Turning her head to look at him.] Why stupid?

BRACK. Because 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.

BRACK. And is there no sort of little chink that we could hold a parley through?

HEDDA. You have forgotten to arrange one.

BRACK. That was another piece of stupidity.

HEDDA. Well, we must just settle down here—and wait. Tesman is not likely to be back for some time yet.

BRACK. Never 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.

HEDDA. Well?

BRACK. [In the same tone.] Well?

HEDDA. I spoke first.

BRACK. [Bending a little forward.] Come, let us have a cosy little chat, Mrs. Hedda.(8)

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.

BRACK. You mean since out last confidential talk? Our last tete-a-tete?

HEDDA. Well yes—since you put it so.

BRACK. Not a day passed but I have wished that you were home again.

HEDDA. And I have done nothing but wish the same thing.

BRACK. You? Really, Mrs. Hedda? And I thought you had been enjoying your tour so much!

HEDDA. Oh yes, you may be sure of that!

BRACK. But Tesman's letters spoke of nothing but happiness.

HEDDA. Oh, Tesman! You see, he thinks nothing is so delightful as grubbing in libraries and making copies of old parchments, or whatever you call them.

BRACK. [With a smile of malice.] Well, that is his vocation in life—or part of it at any rate.

HEDDA. Yes, of course; and no doubt when it's your vocation—. But I! Oh, my dear Mr. Brack, how mortally bored I have been.

BRACK. [Sympathetically.] Do you really say so? In downright earnest?

HEDDA. Yes, 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.

BRACK. Yes, yes—I too should feel that a deprivation.

HEDDA. And then, what I found most intolerable of all—

BRACK. Well?

HEDDA. —was being everlastingly in the company of—one and the same person—

BRACK. [With a nod of assent.] Morning, noon, and night, yes—at all possible times and seasons.

HEDDA. I said "everlastingly."

BRACK. Just so. But I should have thought, with our excellent Tesman, one could—

HEDDA. Tesman is—a specialist, my dear Judge.

BRACK. Undeniable.

HEDDA. And specialists are not at all amusing to travel with. Not in the long run at any rate.

BRACK. Not even—the specialist one happens to love?

HEDDA. Faugh—don't use that sickening word!

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—

BRACK. Everlastingly.

HEDDA. Yes yes yes! And then all this about the domestic industry of the middle ages—! That's the most disgusting part of it!

BRACK. [Looks searchingly at her.] But tell me—in that case, how am I to understand your—? H'm—

HEDDA. My accepting George Tesman, you mean?

BRACK. Well, let us put it so.

HEDDA. Good heavens, do you see anything so wonderful in that?

BRACK. Yes and no—Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA. I 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!

BRACK. You have assuredly no reason to.

HEDDA. Oh, reasons— [Watching him closely.] And George Tesman—after all, you must admit that he is correctness itself.

BRACK. His correctness and respectability are beyond all question.

HEDDA. And I don't see anything absolutely ridiculous about him.—Do you?

BRACK. Ridiculous? N—no—I shouldn't exactly say so—

HEDDA. Well—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.

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?

BRACK. No—if you look at it in that light—

HEDDA. It was more than my other adorers were prepared to do for me, my dear 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.

BRACK. All 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—

HEDDA. Of the master of the house, do you mean?

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.

HEDDA. Yes, I have many a time longed for some one to make a third on our travels. Oh—those railway-carriage tete-a- tetes—!

BRACK. Fortunately 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.

BRACK. Well, then the passengers jump out and move about a little, Mrs. Hedda.

HEDDA. I never jump out.

BRACK. Really?

HEDDA. No—because there is always some one standing by to—

BRACK. [Laughing.] To look at your ankles, do you mean?

HEDDA. Precisely.

BRACK. Well 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.

BRACK. But suppose a third person were to jump in and join the couple.

HEDDA. Ah—that is quite another matter!

BRACK. A trusted, sympathetic friend—

HEDDA. —with a fund of conversation on all sorts of lively topics—

BRACK. —and not the least bit of a specialist!

HEDDA. [With an audible sigh.] Yes, that would be a relief indeed.

BRACK. [Hears the front door open, and glances in that direction.] The triangle is completed.

HEDDA. [Half aloud.] And on goes the train.