The Dance of Death, Part 2


Writers: August Strindberg


ALLAN, the son of CURT
JUDITH, the daughter of EDGAR


A rectangular drawing-room in white and gold. The rear wall is broken by severed French windows reaching down to the floor. These stand open, revealing a garden terrace outside. Along this terrace, serving as a public promenade, runs a stone balustrade, on which are ranged pots of blue and white faience, with petunias and scarlet geraniums in them. Beyond, in the background, can be seen the shore battery with a sentry pacing back and forth. In the far distance, the open sea.

At the left of the drawing-room stands a sofa with gilded wood-work. In front of it are a table and chairs. At the right is a grand piano, a writing-table, and an open fireplace.

In the foreground, an American easy-chair.

By the writing-table is a standing lamp of copper with a table attached to it.

On the walls are severed old-fashioned oil paintings.

ALLAN is sitting at the writing-table, engrossed in some mathematical problem. JUDITH enters from the background, in summer dress, short skirt, hair in a braid down her back, hat in one hand and tennis racket in the other. She stops in the doorway. ALLAN rises, serious and respectful.

JUDITH. [In serious but friendly tone] Why don't you come and play tennis?

ALLAN. [Bashful, struggling with his emotion] I am very busy------

JUDITH. Didn't you see that I had made my bicycle point toward the oak, and not away from it?

ALLAN. Yes, I saw it.

JUDITH. Well, what does it mean?

ALLAN. It means---that you want me to come and play tennis---but my duty---I have some problems to work out---and your father is a rather exacting teacher------

JUDITH. Do you like him?

ALLAN. Yes, I do. He takes such interest in all his pupils------

JUDITH. He takes an interest in everything and everybody. Won't you come?

ALLAN. You know I should like to---but I must not!

JUDITH. I'll ask papa to give you leave.

ALLAN. Don't do that. It will only cause talk.

JUDITH. Don't you think I can manage him? He wants what I want.

ALLAN. I suppose that is because you are so hard.

JUDITH. You should be hard also.

ALLAN. I don't belong to the wolf family.

JUDITH. Then you are a sheep.

ALLAN. Rather that.

JUDITH. Tell me why you don't want to come and play tennis?

ALLAN. You know it.

JUDITH. Tell me anyhow. The Lieutenant------

ALLAN. Yes, you don't care for me at all, but you cannot enjoy yourself with the Lieutenant unless I am present, so you can see me suffer.

JUDITH. Am I as cruel as that? I didn't know it.

ALLAN. Well, now you know it.

JUDITH. Then I shall do better hereafter, for I don't want to be cruel, I don't want to be bad---in your eyes.

ALLAN. You say this only to fasten your hold on me. I am already your slave, but it does not satisfy you. The slave must be tortured and thrown to the wild beasts. You have already that other fellow in your clutches---what do you want with me then? Let me go my own way, and you can go yours.

JUDITH. Do you send me away? [ALLAN does not answer] Then I go! As second cousins, we shall have to meet now and then, but I am not going to bother you any longer.

[ALLAN sits down at the table and returns to his problem.

JUDITH. [Instead of going away, comes down the stage and approaches gradually the table where ALLAN is sitting] Don't be afraid, I am going at once---I wanted only to see how the Master of Quarantine lives---[Looks around] White and gold---a Bechstein grand---well, well! We are still in the fort since papa was pensioned---in the tower where mamma has been kept twenty-five years---and we are there on sufferance at that. You---you are rich------

ALLAN. [Calmly] We are not rich.

JUDITH. So you say, but you are always wearing fine clothes ---but whatever you wear, for that matter, is becoming to you. Do you hear what I say? [Drawing nearer.

ALLAN. [Submissively] I do.

JUDITH. How can you hear when you keep on figuring, or whatever you are doing?

ALLAN. I don't use my eyes to listen with.

JUDITH. Your eyes---have you ever looked at them in the mirror?

ALLAN. Go away!

JUDITH. You despise me, do you?

ALLAN. Why, girl, I am not thinking of you at all.

JUDITH. [Still nearer] Archimedes is deep in his figures when the soldier comes and cuts him down.

[Stirs his papers about with the racket.

ALLAN. Don't touch my papers!

JUDITH. That's what Archimedes said also. Now you are thinking something foolish---you are thinking that I can not live without you----

ALLAN. Why can't you leave me alone?

JUDITH. Be courteous, and I'll help you with your examinations------


JUDITH. Yes, I know the examiners------

ALLAN. [Sternly] And what of it?

JUDITH. Don't you know that one should stand well with the teachers?

ALLAN. Do you mean your father and the Lieutenant?

JUDITH. And the Colonel!

ALLAN. And then you mean that your protection would enable me to shirk my work?

JUDITH. You are a bad translator------

ALLAN. Of a bad original------

JUDITH. Be ashamed!

ALLAN. So I am---both on your behalf and my own! I am ashamed of having listened to you---Why don't you go?

JUDITH. Because I know you appreciate my company---Yes, you manage always to pass by my window. You have always some errand that brings you into the city with the same boat that I take. You cannot go for a sail without having me to look after the jib.

ALLAN. But a young girl shouldn't say that kind of things!

JUDITH. Do you mean to say that I am a child?

ALLAN. Sometimes you are a good child, and sometimes a bad woman. Me you seem to have picked to be your sheep.

JUDITH. You are a sheep, and that's why I am going to protect you.

ALLAN. [Rising] The wolf makes a poor shepherd! You want to eat me---that is the secret of it, I suppose. You want to put your beautiful eyes in pawn to get possession of my head.

JUDITH. Oh, you have been looking at my eyes? I didn't expect that much courage of you.

ALLAN collects his papers and starts to go out toward the right.

JUDITH places herself in front of the door.

ALLAN. Get out of my way, or------


ALLAN. If you were a boy---bah! But you are a girl.

JUDITH. And then?

ALLAN. If you had any pride at all, you would be gone, as you may regard yourself as shown the door.

JUDITH. I'll get back at you for that!

ALLAN. I don't doubt it!

JUDITH. [Goes enraged toward the background] I---shall-get---back---at you for that! [Goes out.

CURT. [Enters from the left] Where are you going, Allan?

ALLAN. Oh, is that you?

CURT. Who was it that left in such hurry---so that the bushes shook?

ALLAN. It was Judith.

CURT. She is a little impetuous, but a fine girl.

ALLAN. When a girl is cruel and rude, she is always said to be a fine girl.

CURT. Don't be so severe, Allan! Are you not satisfied with your new relatives?

ALLAN. I like Uncle Edgar------

CURT. Yes, he has many good sides. How about your other teachers---the Lieutenant, for instance?

ALLAN. He's so uncertain. Sometimes he seems to have a grudge against me.

CURT. Oh, no! You just go here and make people "seem" this or that. Don't brood, but look after your own affairs, do what is proper, and leave others to their own concerns.

ALLAN. So I do, but---they won't leave me alone. They pull you in---as the cuttlefish down at the landing---they don't bite, but they stir up vortices that suck------

CURT. You have some tendency to melancholia, I think. Don't you feel at home here with me? Is there anything you miss?

ALLAN. I have never been better off, but---there is something here that smothers me.

CURT. Here by the sea? Are you not fond of the sea?

ALLAN. Yes, the open sea. But along the shores you find eelgrass, cuttlefish, jellyfish, sea-nettles, or whatever they are called.

CURT. You shouldn't stay indoors so much. Go out and play tennis.

ALLAN. Oh, that's no fun!

CURT. You are angry with Judith, I guess?

ALLAN. Judith?

CURT. You are so exacting toward people---it is not wise, for then you become isolated.

ALLAN. I am not exacting, but---It feels as if I were lying at the bottom of a pile of wood and had to wait my turn to get into the fire---and it weighs on me---all that is above weighs me down.

CURT. Bide your turn. The pile grows smaller------

ALLAN. Yes, but so slowly, so slowly. And in the meantime I lie here and grow mouldy.

CURT. It is not pleasant to be young. And yet you young ones are envied.

ALLAN. Are we? Would you change?

CURT. No, thanks!

ALLAN. Do you know what is worse than anything else? It is to sit still and keep silent while the old ones talk nonsense---I know that I am better informed than they on some matters---and yet I must keep silent. Well, pardon me, I am not counting you among the old.

CURT. Why not?

ALLAN. Perhaps because we have only just now become acquainted------

CURT. And because---your ideas of me have undergone a change?


CURT. During the years we were separated, I suppose you didn't always think of me in a friendly way?


CURT. Did you ever see a picture of me?

ALLAN. One, and it was very unfavourable.

CURT. And old-looking?


CURT. Ten years ago my hair turned gray in a single night---it has since then resumed its natural color without my doing anything for it---Let us talk of something else! There comes your aunt---my cousin. How do you like her?

ALLAN. I don't want to tell!

CURT. Then I shall not ask you.

ALICE. [Enters dressed in a very light-colored walking-suit and carrying a sunshade] Good morning, Curt.

[Gives him a glance signifying that ALLAN should leave.

CURT. [To ALLAN] Leave us, please.

ALLAN goes out to the right.

ALICE takes a seat on the sofa to the left.

CURT sits down on a chair near her.

ALICE. [In some confusion] He will be here in a moment, so you need not feel embarrassed.

CURT. And why should I?

ALICE. You, with your strictness------

CURT. Toward myself, yes------

ALICE. Of course---Once I forgot myself, when in you I saw the liberator, but you kept your self-control---and for that reason we have a right to forget---what has never been.

CURT. Forget it then!

ALICE. However---I don't think he has forgotten------

CURT. You are thinking of that night when his heart gave out and he fell on the floor---and when you rejoiced too quickly, thinking him already dead?

ALICE. Yes. Since then he has recovered; but when he gave up drinking, he learned to keep silent, and now he is terrible. He is up to something that I cannot make out------

CURT. Your husband, Alice, is a harmless fool who has shown me all sorts of kindnesses------

ALICE. Beware of his kindnesses. I know them.

CURT. Well, well------

ALICE. He has then blinded you also? Can you not see the danger? Don't you notice the snares?


ALICE. Then your ruin is certain.

CURT. Oh, mercy!

ALICE. Think only, I have to sit here and see disaster stalking you like a cat---I point at it, but you cannot see it.

CURT. Allan, with his unspoiled vision, cannot see it either. He sees nothing but Judith, for that matter, and this seems to me a safeguard of our good relationship.

ALICE. Do you know Judith?

CURT. A flirtatious little thing, with a braid down her back and rather too short skirts------

ALICE. Exactly! But the other day I saw her dressed up in long skirts---and then she was a young lady---and not so very young either, when her hair was put up.

CURT. She is somewhat precocious, I admit.

ALICE. And she is playing with Allan.

CURT. That's all right, so long as it remains play.

ALICE. So that is all right?---Now Edgar will be here soon, and he will take the easy-chair---he loves it with such passion that he could steal it.

CURT. Why, he can have it!

ALICE. Let him sit over there, and we'll stay here. And when he talks---he is always talkative in the morning---when he talks of insignificant things, I'll translate them for you------

CURT. Oh, my dear Alice, you are too deep, far too deep. What could I have to fear as long as I look after my quarantine properly and otherwise behave decently?

ALICE. You believe in justice and honour and all that sort of thing.

CURT. Yes, and it is what experience has taught me. Once I believed the very opposite---and paid dearly for it!

ALICE. Now he's coming!

CURT. I have never seen you so frightened before.

ALICE. My bravery was nothing but ignorance of the danger.

CURT. Danger? Soon you'll have me frightened too!

ALICE. Oh, if I only could---There!

The CAPTAIN enters from the background, in civilian dress, black Prince Albert buttoned all the way, military cap, and a cane with silver handle. He greets them with a nod and goes straight to the easy-chair, where he sits down.

ALICE. [To CURT] Let him speak first.

CAPTAIN. This is a splendid chair you have here, dear Curt; perfectly splendid.

CURT. I'll give it to you, if you will accept it.

CAPTAIN. That was not what I meant------

CURT. But I mean it seriously. How much have I not received from you?

CAPTAIN. [Garrulously] Oh, nonsense! And when I sit here, I can overlook the whole island, all the walks; I can see all the people on their verandahs, all the ships on the sea, that are coming in and going out. You have really happened on the best piece of this island, which is certainly not an island of the blessed. Or what do you say, Alice? Yes, they call it "Little Hell," and here Curt has built himself a paradise, but without an Eve, of course, for when she appeared, then the paradise came to an end. I say---do you know that this was a royal hunting lodge?

CURT. So I have heard.

CAPTAIN. You live royally, you, but, if I may say so myself, you have me to thank for it.

ALICE. [To CURT] There---now he wants to steal you.

CURT. I have to thank you for a good deal.

CAPTAIN. Fudge! Tell me, did you get the wine cases?

CURT. Yes.

CAPTAIN. And you are satisfied?

CURT. Quite satisfied, and you may tell your dealer so.

CAPTAIN. His goods are always prime quality------

ALICE. [To CURT] At second-rate prices, and you have to pay the difference.

CAPTAIN. What did you say, Alice?

ALICE. I? Nothing!

CAPTAIN. Well, when this quarantine station was about to be established, I had in mind applying for the position---and so I made a study of quarantine methods.

ALICE. [To CURT] Now he's lying!

CAPTAIN. [Boastfully] And I did not share the antiquated ideas concerning disinfection which were then accepted by the government. For I placed myself on the side of the Neptunists ---so called because they emphasise the use of water------

CURT. Beg your pardon, but I remember distinctly that it was I who preached water, and you fire, at that time.

CAPTAIN. I? Nonsense!

ALICE. [Aloud] Yes, I remember that, too.


CURT. I remember it so much the better because------

CAPTAIN. [Cutting him short] Well, it's possible, but it does not matter. [Raising his voice] However---we have now reached a point where a new state of affairs---[To CURT, who wants to interrupt] just a moment!---has begun to prevail---and when the methods of quarantining are about to become revolutionized.

CURT. By the by, do you know who is writing those stupid articles in that periodical?

CAPTAIN. [Flushing] No, I don't know, but why do you call them stupid?

ALICE. [To CURT] Look out! It is he who writes them.

CURT. He?---[To the CAPTAIN] Not very well advised, at least.

CAPTAIN. Well, are you the man to judge of that?

ALICE. Are we going to have a quarrel?

CURT. Not at all.

CAPTAIN. It is hard to keep peace on this island, but we ought to set a good example------

CURT. Yes, can you explain this to me? When I came here I made friends with all the officials and became especially intimate with the regimental auditor---as intimate as men are likely to become at our age. And then, in a little while---it was shortly after your recovery---one after another began to grow cold toward me---and yesterday the auditor avoided me on the promenade. I cannot tell you how it hurt me! [The CAPTAIN remains silent] Have you noticed any ill-feeling toward yourself?

CAPTAIN. No, on the contrary.

ALICE. [To CURT] Don't you understand that he has been stealing your friends?

CURT. [To the CAPTAIN] I wondered whether it might have anything to do with this new stock issue to which I refused to subscribe.

CAPTAIN. No, no---But can you tell me why you didn't subscribe?

CURT. Because I have already put my small savings into your soda factory. And also because a new issue means that the old stock is shaky.

CAPTAIN. [Preoccupied] That's a splendid lamp you have. Where did you get it?

CURT. In the city, of course.

ALICE. [To CURT] Look out for your lamp!

CURT. [To the CAPTAIN] You must not think that I am ungrateful or distrustful, Edgar.

CAPTAIN. No, but it shows small confidence to withdraw from an undertaking which you have helped to start.

CURT. Why, ordinary prudence bids everybody save himself and what is his.

CAPTAIN. Save? Is there any danger then? Do you think anybody wants to rob you?

CURT. Why such sharp words?

CAPTAIN. Were you not satisfied when I helped you to place your money at six per cent.?

CURT. Yes, and even grateful.

CAPTAIN. You are not grateful---it is not in your nature, but this you cannot help.

ALICE. [To CURT] Listen to him!

CURT. My nature has shortcomings enough, and my struggle against them has not been very successful, but I do recognise obligations------

CAPTAIN. Show it then! [Reaches out his hand to pick up a newspaper] Why, what is this? A death notice? [Reads] The Health Commissioner is dead.

ALICE. [To CURT] Now he is speculating in the corpse------

CAPTAIN. [As if to himself] This is going to bring about certain---changes------

CURT. In what respect?

CAPTAIN. [Rising] That remains to be seen.

ALICE. [To the CAPTAIN] Where are you going?

CAPTAIN. I think I'll have to go to the city---[Catches sight of a letter on the writing-table, picks it up as if unconsciously, reads the address, and puts it back] Oh, I hope you will pardon my absent-mindedness.

CURT. No harm done.

CAPTAIN. Why, that's Allan's drawing case. Where is the boy?

CURT. He is out playing with the girls.

CAPTAIN. That big boy? I don't like it. And Judith must not be running about like that. You had better keep an eye on your young gentleman, and I'll look after my young lady. [Goes over to the piano and strikes a few notes] Splendid tone in this instrument. A Steinbech, isn't it?

CURT. A Bechstein.

CAPTAIN. Yes, you are well fixed. Thank me for bringing you here.

ALICE. [To CURT] He lies, for he tried to keep you away.

CAPTAIN. Well, good-bye for a while. I am going to take the next boat.

[Scrutinises the paintings on the walls as he goes out.

ALICE. Well?

CURT. Well?

ALICE. I can't see through his plans yet. But---tell me one thing. This envelope he looked at---from whom is the letter?

CURT. I am sorry to admit---it was my one secret.

ALICE. And he ferreted it out. Can you see that he knows witchery, as I have told you before? Is there anything printed on the envelope?

CURT. Yes---"The Citizens' Union."

ALICE. Then he has guessed your secret. You want to get into the Riksdag, I suppose. And now you'll see that he goes there instead of you.

CURT. Has he ever thought of it?

ALICE. No, but he is thinking of it now. I read it on his face while he was looking at the envelope.

CURT. That's why he has to go to the city?

ALICE. No, he made up his mind to go when he read the death notice.

CURT. What has he to gain by the death of the Health Commissioner?

ALICE. Hard to tell! Perhaps the man was an enemy who had stood in the way of his plans.

CURT. If he be as terrible as you say, then there is reason to fear him.

ALICE. Didn't you hear how he wanted to steal you, to tie your hands by means of pretended obligations that do not exist? For instance, he has done nothing to get you this position, but has, on the contrary, tried to keep you out of it. He is a man-thief, an insect, one of those wood-borers that eat up your insides so that one day you find yourself as hollow as a dying pine tree. He hates you, although he is bound to you by the memory of your youthful friendship------

CURT. How keen-witted we are made by our hatreds!

ALICE. And stupid by our loves---blind and stupid!

CURT. Oh, no, don't say that!

ALICE. Do you know what is meant by a vampire? They say it is the soul of a dead person seeking a body in which it may live as a parasite. Edgar is dead---ever since he fell down on the floor that time. You see, he has no interests of his own, no personality, no initiative. But if he can only get hold of some other person he hangs on to him, sends down roots into him, and begins to flourish and blossom. Now he has fastened himself on you.

CURT. If he comes too close I'll shake him off.

ALICE. Try to shake off a burr! Listen: do you know why he does not want Judith and Allan to play?

CURT. I suppose he is concerned about their feelings.

ALICE. Not at all. He wants to marry Judith to---the Colonel!

CURT. [Shocked] That old widower!


CURT. Horrible! And Judith?

ALICE. If she could get the General, who is eighty, she would take him in order to bully the Colonel, who is sixty. To bully, you know, that's the aim of her life. To trample down and bully---there you have the motto of that family.

CURT. Can this be Judith? That maiden fair and proud and splendid?

ALICE. Oh, I know all about that! May I sit here and write a letter?

CURT. [Puts the writing-table in order] With pleasure.

ALICE. [Takes off her gloves and sits down at the writing-table] Now we'll try our hand at the art of war. I failed once when I tried to slay my dragon. But now I have mastered the trade.

CURT. Do you know that it is necessary to load before you fire?

ALICE. Yes, and with ball cartridges at that!

CURT withdraws to the right.

ALICE ponders and writes.

ALLAN comes rushing in without noticing Alice and throws himself face downward on the sofa. He is weeping convulsively into a lace handkerchief.

ALICE. [Watches him for a while. Then she rises and goes over to the sofa. Speaks in a tender voice] Allan!

ALLAN sits up disconcertedly and hides the handkerchief behind his back.

ALICE. [Tenderly, womanly, and with true emotion] You should not be afraid of me, Allan---I am not dangerous to you---What is wrong? Are you sick?


ALICE. In what way?

ALLAN. I don't know.

ALICE. Have you a headache?


ALICE. And your chest? Pain?


ALICE. Pain---pain---as if your heart wanted to melt away. And it pulls, pulls------

ALLAN. How do you know?

ALICE. And then you wish to die---that you were already dead---and everything seems so hard. And you can only think of one thing---always the same---but if two are thinking of the same thing, then sorrow falls heavily on one of them. [ALLAN forgets himself and begins to pick at the handkerchief] That's the sickness which no one can cure. You cannot eat and you cannot drink; you want only to weep, and you weep so bitterly---especially out in the woods where nobody can see you, for at that kind of sorrow all men laugh---men who are so cruel! Dear me! What do you want of her? Nothing! You don't want to kiss her mouth, for you feel that you would die if you did. When your thoughts run to her, you feel as if death were approaching. And it is death, child---that sort of death---which brings life. But you don't understand it yet! I smell violets---it is herself. [Steps closer to ALLAN and takes the handkerchief gently away from him.] It is she, it is she everywhere, none but she! Oh, oh, oh! [ALLAN cannot help burying his face in ALICE's bosom] Poor boy! Poor boy! Oh, how it hurts, how it hurts! [Wipes off his tears with the handkerchief] There, there! Cry ---cry to your heart's content. There now! Then the heart grows lighter---But now, Allan, rise up and be a man, or she will not look at you---she, the cruel one, who is not cruel. Has she tormented you? With the Lieutenant? You must make friends with the Lieutenant, so that you two can talk of her. That gives a little ease also.

ALLAN. I don't want to see the Lieutenant!

ALICE. Now look here, little boy, it won't be long before the Lieutenant seeks you out in order to get a chance to talk of her. For---[ALLAN looks up with a ray of hope on his face] Well, shall I be nice and tell you? [ALLAN droops his head] He is just as unhappy as you are.

ALLAN. [Happy] No?

ALICE. Yes, indeed, and he needs somebody to whom he may unburden his heart when Judith has wounded him. You seem to rejoice in advance?

ALLAN. Does she not want the Lieutenant?

ALICE. She does not want you either, dear boy, for she wants the Colonel. [ALLAN is saddened again] Is it raining again? Well, the handkerchief you cannot have, for Judith is careful about her belongings and wants her dozen complete. [ALLAN looks dashed] Yes, my boy, such is Judith. Sit over there now, while I write another letter, and then you may do an errand for me.

[Sits down at the writing-table and begins to write again.

LIEUTENANT. [Enters from the background, with a melancholy face, but without being ridiculous. Without noticing ALICE he makes straight for ALLAN] I say, Cadet---[ALLAN rises and stands at attention] Please be seated.

ALICE watches them.

The LIEUTENANT goes up to ALLAN and sits down beside him. Sighs, takes out a lace handkerchief just like the other one, and wipes his forehead with it.

ALLAN stares greedily at the handkerchief.

The LIEUTENANT looks sadly at ALLAN.

ALICE. coughs.

The LIEUTENANT jumps up and stands at attention.

ALICE. Please be seated.

LIEUTENANT. I beg your pardon, madam------

ALICE. Never mind! Please sit down and keep the Cadet company---he is feeling a little lonely here on the island. [Writes.

LIEUTENANT. [Conversing with ALLAN in low tone and uneasily] It is awfully hot.

ALLAN. Rather.

LIEUTENANT. Have you finished the sixth book yet?

ALLAN. I have just got to the last proposition.

LIEUTENANT. That's a tough one. [Silence] Have you---[seeking for words] played tennis to-day?

ALLAN. No-o---the sun was too hot.

LIEUTENANT. [In despair, but without any comical effect] Yes, it's awfully hot to-day!

ALLAN. [In a whisper] Yes, it is very hot. [Silence.

LIEUTENANT. Have you---been out sailing to-day?

ALLAN. No-o, I couldn't get anybody to tend the jib.

LIEUTENANT. Could you---trust me sufficiently to let me tend the jib?

ALLAN. [Respectfully as before] That would be too great an honor for me, Lieutenant.

LIEUTENANT. Not at all, not at all! Do you think---the wind might be good enough to-day---about dinner-time, say, for that's the only time I am free?

ALLAN. [Slyly] It always calms down about dinner-time, and---that's the time Miss Judith has her lesson.

LIEUTENANT. [Sadly] Oh, yes, yes! Hm! Do you think------

ALICE. Would one of you young gentlemen care to deliver a letter for me? [ALLAN and the LIEUTENANT exchange glances of mutual distrust]---to Miss Judith? [ALLAN and the LIEUTENANT jump up and hasten over to ALICE, but not without a certain dignity meant to disguise their emotion] Both of you? Well, the more safely my errand will be attended to. [Hands the letter to the LIEUTENANT] If you please, Lieutenant, I should like to have that handkerchief. My daughter is very careful about her things---there is a touch of pettiness in her nature---Give me that handkerchief! I don't wish to laugh at you, but you must not make yourself ridiculous---needlessly. And the Colonel does not like to play the part of an Othello. [Takes the handkerchief] Away with you now, young men, and try to hide your feelings as much as you can.

The LIEUTENANT bows and goes out, followed closely by ALLAN.

ALICE. [Calls out] Allan!

ALLAN. [Stops unwillingly in the doorway] Yes, Aunt.

ALICE. Stay here, unless you want to inflict more suffering on yourself than you can bear.

ALLAN. But he is going!

ALICE. Let him burn himself. But take care of yourself.

ALLAN. I don't want to take care of myself.

ALICE. And then you cry afterward. And so I get the trouble of consoling you.

ALLAN. I want to go!

ALICE. Go then! But come back here, young madcap, and I'll have the right to laugh at you.

[ALLAN runs after the LIEUTENANT.

[ALICE writes again.

CURT. [Enters] Alice, I have received an anonymous letter that is bothering me.

ALICE. Have you noticed that Edgar has become another person since he put off the uniform? I could never have believed that a coat might make such a difference.

CURT. You didn't answer my question.

ALICE. It was no question. It was a piece of information. What do you fear?

CURT. Everything!

ALICE. He went to the city. And his trips to the city are always followed by something dreadful.

CURT. But I can do nothing because I don't know from which quarter the attack will begin.

ALICE. [Folding the letter] We'll see whether I have guessed it.

CURT. Will you help me then?

ALICE. Yes---but no further than my own interests permit. My own---that is my children's.

CURT. I understand that! Do you hear how silent everything is---here on land, out on the sea, everywhere?

ALICE. But behind the silence I hear voices---mutterings, cries!

CURT. Hush! I hear something, too---no, it was only the gulls.

ALICE. But I hear something else! And now I am going to the post-office---with this letter!


Same stage setting. ALLAN is sitting at the writing-table studying. JUDITH is standing in the doorway. She wears a tennis hat and carries the handle-bars of a bicycle in one hand.

JUDITH. Can I borrow your wrench?

ALLAN. [Without looking up] No, you cannot.

JUDITH. You are discourteous now, because you think I am running after you.

ALLAN. [Without crossness] I am nothing at all, but I ask merely to be left alone.

JUDITH. [Comes nearer] Allan!

ALLAN. Yes, what is it?

JUDITH. You mustn't be angry with me!

ALLAN. I am not.

JUDITH. Will you give me your hand on that?

ALLAN. [Kindly] I don't want to shake hands with you, but I am not angry---What do you want with me anyhow?

JUDITH. Oh, but you're stupid!

ALLAN. Well, let it go at that.

JUDITH. You think me cruel, and nothing else.

ALLAN. No, for I know that you are kind too---you can be kind!

JUDITH. Well---how can I help---that you and the Lieutenant run around and weep in the woods? Tell me, why do you weep? [ALLAN is embarrassed] Tell me now---I never weep. And why have you become such good friends? Of what do you talk while you are walking about arm in arm? [ALLAN cannot answer] Allan, you'll soon see what kind I am and whether I can strike a blow for one I like. And I want to give you a piece of advice---although I have no use for tale-bearing. Be prepared!

ALLAN. For what?

JUDITH. Trouble.

ALLAN. From what quarter?

JUDITH. From the quarter where you least expect it.

ALLAN. Well, I am rather used to disappointment, and life has not brought me much that was pleasant What's in store now?

JUDITH. [Pensively] You poor boy---give me your hand! [ALLAN gives her his hand] Look at me! Don't you dare to look at me?

[ALLAN rushes out to the left in order to hide his emotion.

LIEUTENANT. [In from the background] I beg your pardon! I thought that------

JUDITH. Tell me, Lieutenant, will you be my friend and ally?

LIEUTENANT. If you'll do me the honour------

JUDITH. Yes---a word only---don't desert Allan when disaster overtakes him.

LIEUTENANT. What disaster?

JUDITH. You'll soon see---this very day perhaps. Do you like Allan?

LIEUTENANT. The young man is my best pupil, and I value him personally also on account of his strength of character---Yes, life has moments when strength is required [with emphasis] to bear up, to endure, to suffer, in a word!

JUDITH. That was more than one word, I should say. However, you like Allan?


JUDITH. Look him up then, and keep him company.

LIEUTENANT. It was for that purpose I came here---for that and no other. I had no other object in my visit.

JUDITH. I had not supposed anything of that kind---of the kind you mean! Allan went that way.

[Pointing to the left.

LIEUTENANT. [Goes reluctantly to the left] Yes---I'll do what you ask.

JUDITH. Do, please.

ALICE. [In from the background] What are you doing here?

JUDITH. I wanted to borrow a wrench.

ALICE. Will you listen to me a moment?

JUDITH. Of course, I will.

[ALICE sits down on the sofa.

JUDITH. [Remains standing] But tell me quickly what you want to say. I don't like long lectures.

ALICE. Lectures? Well, then---put up your hair and put on a long dress.


ALICE. Because you are no longer a child. And you are young enough to need no coquetry about your age.

JUDITH. What does that mean?

ALICE. That you have reached marriageable age. And your way of dressing is causing scandal.

JUDITH. Then I shall do what you say.

ALICE. You have understood then?

JUDITH. Oh, yes.

ALICE. And we are agreed?

JUDITH. Perfectly.

ALICE. On all points?

JUDITH. Even the tenderest!

ALICE. Will you at the same time cease playing---with Allan?

JUDITH. It is going to be serious then?


JUDITH. Then we may just as well begin at once.

She has already laid aside the handle-bars. Now she lets down the bicycle skirt and twists her braid into a knot which she fastens on top of her head with a hair-pin taken out of her mother's hair.

ALICE. It is not proper to make your toilet in a strange place.

JUDITH. Am I all right this way? Then I am ready. Come now who dares!

ALICE. Now at last you look decent. And leave Allan in peace after this.

JUDITH. I don't understand what you mean?

ALICE. Can't you see that he is suffering?

JUDITH. Yes, I think I have noticed it, but I don't know why. I don't suffer!

ALICE. That is your strength. But the day will come---oh, yes, you shall know what it means. Go home now, and don't forget---that you are wearing a long skirt.

JUDITH. Must you walk differently then?

ALICE. Just try.

JUDITH. [Tries to walk like a lady] Oh, my feet are tied; I am caught, I cannot run any longer!

ALICE. Yes, child, now the walking begins, along the slow road toward the unknown, which you know already, but must pretend to ignore. Shorter steps, and much slower---much slower! The low shoes of childhood must go, Judith, and you have to wear boots. You don't remember when you laid aside baby socks and put on shoes, but I do!

JUDITH. I can never stand this!

ALICE. And yet you must---must!

JUDITH. [Goes over to her mother and kisses her lightly on the cheek; then walks out with the dignified bearing of a lady, but forgetting the handle-bars] Good-bye then!

CURT. [Enters from the right] So you're already here?


CURT. Has he come back?


CURT. How did he appear?

ALICE. In full dress---so he has called on the Colonel. And he wore two orders.

CURT. Two? I knew he was to receive the Order of the Sword on his retirement. But what can the other one be?

ALICE. I am not very familiar with those things, but there was a white cross within a red one.

CURT. It is a Portuguese order then. Let me see---tell me, didn't his articles in that periodical deal with quarantine stations in Portuguese harbours?

ALICE. Yes, as far as I can recall.

CURT. And he has never been in Portugal?

ALICE. Never.

CURT. But I have been there.

ALICE. You shouldn't be so communicative. His ears and his memory are so good.

CURT. Don't you think Judith may have helped him to this honour?

ALICE. Well, I declare! There are limits---[rising] and you have passed them.

CURT. Are we to quarrel now?

ALICE. That depends on you. Don't meddle with my interests.

CURT. If they cross my own, I have to meddle with them, although with a careful hand. Here he comes!

ALICE. And now it is going to happen.

CURT. What is---going to happen?

ALICE. We shall see!

CURT. Let it come to open attack then, for this state of siege is getting on my nerves. I have not a friend left on the island.

ALICE. Wait a minute! You sit on this side---he must have the easy-chair, of course---and then I can prompt you.

CAPTAIN. [Enters from the background, in full dress uniform, wearing the Order of the Sword and the Portuguese Order of Christ] Good day! Here's the meeting place.

ALICE. You are tired---sit down. [The CAPTAIN, contrary to expectation, takes a seat on the sofa to the left] Make yourself comfortable.

CAPTAIN. This is all right. You're too kind.

ALICE. [To CURT] Be careful---he's suspicious of us.

CAPTAIN. [Crossly] What was that you said?

ALICE. [To CURT] He must have been drinking.

CAPTAIN. [Rudely] No-o, he has not. [Silence] Well---how have you been amusing yourselves?

ALICE. And you?

CAPTAIN. Are you looking at my orders?

ALICE. No-o!

CAPTAIN. I guess not, because you are jealous---Other-wise it is customary to offer congratulations to the recipient of honours.

ALICE. We congratulate you.

CAPTAIN. We get things like these instead of laurel wreaths, such as they give to actresses.

ALICE. That's for the wreaths at home on the walls of the tower------

CAPTAIN. Which your brother gave you------

ALICE. Oh, how you talk!

CAPTAIN. Before which I have had to bow down these twenty-five years---and which it has taken me twenty-five years to expose.

ALICE. You have seen my brother?

CAPTAIN. Rather! [Alice is crushed. Silence] And you, Curt---you don't say anything, do you?

CURT. I am waiting.

CAPTAIN. Well, I suppose you know the big news?


CAPTAIN. It is not exactly agreeable for me to be the one who------

CURT. Oh, speak up!

CAPTAIN. The soda factory has gone to the wall------

CURT. That's decidedly unpleasant! Where does that leave you?

CAPTAIN. I am all right, as I sold out in time.

CURT. That was sensible.

CAPTAIN. But how about you?

CURT. Done for!

CAPTAIN. It's your own fault. You should have sold out in time, or taken new stock.

CURT. So that I could lose that too.

CAPTAIN. No, for then the company would have been all right.

CURT. Not the company, but the directors, for in my mind that new subscription was simply a collection for the benefit of the board.

CAPTAIN. And now I ask whether such a view of the matter will save your money?

CURT. No, I shall have to give up everything.

CAPTAIN. Everything?

CURT. Even my home, the furniture------

CAPTAIN. But that's dreadful!

CURT. I have experienced worse things. [Silence.

CAPTAIN. That's what happens when amateurs want to speculate.

CURT. You surprise me, for you know very well that if I had not subscribed, I should have been boycotted. The supplementary livelihood of the coast population, toilers of the sea, inexhaustible capital, inexhaustible as the sea itself---philanthropy and national prosperity---Thus you wrote and printed---And now you speak of it as speculation!

CAPTAIN. [Unmoved] What are you going to do now?

CURT. Have an auction, I suppose.

CAPTAIN. You had better.

CURT. What do you mean?

CAPTAIN. What I said! For there [slowly] are going to be some changes------

CURT. On the island?

CAPTAIN. Yes---as, for instance,---your quarters are going to be exchanged for somewhat simpler ones.

CURT. Well, well.

CAPTAIN. Yes, the plan is to place the quarantine station on the outside shore, near the water.

CURT. My original idea!

CAPTAIN. [Dryly] I don't know about that---for I am not familiar with your ideas on the subject. However it seems then quite natural that you dispose of the furniture, and it will attract much less notice---the scandal!

CURT. What?

CAPTAIN. The scandal! [Egging himself on] For it is a scandal to come to a new place and immediately get into financial troubles which must result in a lot of annoyance to the relatives---particularly to the relatives.

CURT. Oh, I guess I'll have to bear the worst of it.

CAPTAIN. I'll tell you one thing, my dear Curt: if I had not stood by you in this matter, you would have lost your position.

CURT. That too?

CAPTAIN. It comes rather hard for you to keep things in order---complaints have been made against your work.

CURT. Warranted complaints?

CAPTAIN. Yah! For you are---in spite of your other respectable qualities---a careless fellow---Don't interrupt me! You are a very careless fellow!

CURT. How strange!

CAPTAIN. However---the suggested change is going to take place very soon. And I should advise you to hold the auction at once or sell privately.

CURT. Privately? And where could I find a buyer in this place?

CAPTAIN. Well, I hope you don't expect me to settle down in the midst of your things? That would make a fine story---[staccato] hm!---especially when I---think of what happened---once upon a time------

CURT. What was that? Are you referring to what did not happen?

CAPTAIN. [Turning about] You are so silent, Alice? What is the matter, old girl? Not blue, I hope?

ALICE. I sit here and think------

CAPTAIN. Goodness! Are you thinking? But you have to think quickly, keenly, and correctly, if it is to be of any help! So do your thinking now---one, two, three! Ha-ha! You can't! Well, then, I must try---Where is Judith?

ALICE. Somewhere.

CAPTAIN. Where is Allan? [ALICE remains silent] Where is the Lieutenant? [ALICE as before] I say, Curt---what are you going to do with Allan now?

CURT. Do with him?

CAPTAIN. Yes, you cannot afford to keep him in the artillery now.

CURT. Perhaps not.

CAPTAIN. You had better get him into some cheap infantry regiment---up in Norrland, or somewhere.

CURT. In Norrland?

CAPTAIN. Yes, or suppose you turned him into something practical at once? If I were in your place, I should get him into some business office---why not? [CURT is silent] In these enlightened times---yah! Alice is so uncommonly silent! Yes, children, this is the seesawing seesaw board of life---one moment high up, looking boldly around, and the next way down, and then upward again, and so on---So much for that---[To ALICE] Did you say anything? [ALICE shakes her head] We may expect company here in a few days.

ALICE. Were you speaking to me?

CAPTAIN. We may expect company in a few days---notable company!


CAPTAIN. Behold---you're interested! Now you can sit there and guess who is coming, and between guesses you may read this letter over again. [Hands her an opened letter.

ALICE. My letter? Opened? Back from the mail?

CAPTAIN. [Rising] Yes, as the head of the family and your guardian, I look after the sacred interests of the family, and with iron hand I shall cut short every effort to break the family ties by means of criminal correspondence. Yah! [ALICE is crushed] I am not dead, you know, but don't take offence now because I am going to raise us all out of undeserved humility---undeserved on my own part, at least!

ALICE. Judith! Judith!

CAPTAIN. And Holofernes? I, perhaps? Pooh!

[Goes out through the background.

CURT. Who is that man?

ALICE. How can I tell?

CURT. We are beaten.

ALICE. Yes---beyond a doubt.

CURT. He has stripped me of everything, but so cleverly that I can accuse him of nothing.

ALICE. Why, no---you owe him a debt of gratitude instead!

CURT. Does he know what he is doing?

ALICE. No, I don't think so. He follows his nature and his instincts, and just now he seems to be in favour where fortune and misfortune are being meted out.

CURT. I suppose it's the Colonel who is to come here.

ALICE. Probably. And that is why Allan must go.

CURT. And you find that right?


CURT. Then our ways part.

ALICE. [Ready to go] A little---but we shall come together again.

CURT. Probably.

ALICE. And do you know where?

CURT. Here.

ALICE. You guess it?

CURT. That's easy! He takes the house and buys the furniture.

ALICE. I think so, too. But don't desert me!

CURT. Not for a little thing like that.

ALICE. Good-bye. [Goes.

CURT. Good-bye.


Same stage setting, but the day is cloudy and it is raining outside.

ALICE and CURT enter from the background, wearing rain coats and carrying umbrellas.

ALICE. At last I have got you to come here! But, I cannot be so cruel as to wish you welcome to your own home------

CURT. Oh, why not? I have passed through three forced sales---and worse than that---It doesn't matter to me.

ALICE. Did he call you?

CURT. It was a formal command, but on what basis I don't understand.

ALICE. Why, he is not your superior!

CURT. No, but he has made himself king of the island. And if there be any resistance, he has only to mention the Colonel's name, and everybody submits. Tell me, is it to-day the Colonel is coming?

ALICE. He is expected---but I know nothing with certainty---Sit down, please.

CURT. [Sitting down] Nothing has been changed here.

ALICE. Don't think of it! Don't renew the pain!

CURT. The pain? I find it merely a little strange. Strange as the man himself. Do you know, when I made his acquaintance as a boy, I fled him. But he was after me. Flattered, offered services, and surrounded me with ties---I repeated my attempt at escape, but in vain---And now I am his slave!

ALICE. And why? He owes you a debt, but you appear as the debtor.

CURT. Since I lost all I had, he has offered me help in getting Allan through his examinations------

ALICE. For which you will have to pay dearly! You are still a candidate for the Riksdag?

CURT. Yes, and, so far as I can see, there is nothing in my way. [Silence.

ALICE. Is Allan really going to leave to-day?

CURT. Yes, if I cannot prevent it.

ALICE. That was a short-lived happiness.

CURT. Short-lived as everything but life itself, which lasts all too long.

ALICE. Too long, indeed!---Won't you come in and wait in the sitting-room? Even if it does not trouble you, it troubles me---these surroundings!

CURT. If you wish it------

ALICE. I feel ashamed, so ashamed that I could wish to die---but I can alter nothing!

CURT. Let us go then---as you wish it.

ALICE. And somebody is coming too.

[They go out to the left.

The CAPTAIN and ALLAN enter from the background, both in uniform and wearing cloaks.

CAPTAIN. Sit down, my boy, and let me have a talk with you. [Sits down in the easy-chair.

[ALLAN sits down on the chair to the left.

CAPTAIN. It's raining to-day---otherwise I could sit here comfortably and look at the sea. [Silence] Well?---You don't like to go, do you?

ALLAN. I don't like to leave my father.

CAPTAIN. Yes, your father---he is rather an unfortunate man. [Silence] And parents rarely understand the true welfare of their children. That is to say---there are exceptions, of course. Hm! Tell me, Allan, have you any communication with your mother?

ALLAN. Yes, she writes now and then------

CAPTAIN. Do you know that she is your guardian?


CAPTAIN. Now, Allan, do you know that your mother has authorised me to act in her place?

ALLAN. I didn't know that!

CAPTAIN. Well, you know it now. And, therefore, all discussions concerning your career are done with---And you are going to Norrland.

ALLAN. But I have no money.

CAPTAIN. I have arranged for what you need.

ALLAN. All I can do then is to thank you, Uncle.

CAPTAIN. Yes, you are grateful---which everybody is not. Hm!---[Raising his voice] The Colonel---do you know the Colonel?

ALLAN. [Embarrassed] No, I don't.

CAPTAIN. [With emphasis] The Colonel---is my special friend---[a little more hurriedly] as you know, perhaps. Hm! The Colonel has wished to show his interest in my family, including my wife's relatives. Through his intercession, the Colonel has been able to provide the means needed for the completion of your course. Now you understand the obligation under which you and your father are placed toward the Colonel. Have I spoken with sufficient plainness? [ALLAN bows] Go and pack your things now. The money will be handed to you at the landing. And now good-bye, my boy. [Holds out a finger to ALLAN] Good-bye then.

[Rises and goes out to the right.

[ALLAN, alone, stands still, looking sadly around the room.

JUDITH. [Enters from the background, wearing a hooded rain coat and carrying an umbrella; otherwise exquisitely dressed, in long skirt and with her hair put up] Is that you, Allan!

ALLAN. [Turning around, surveys JUDITH carefully] Is that you, Judith?

JUDITH. You don't know me any longer? Where have you been all this time? What are you looking at? My long dress---and my hair---You have not seen me like this before?

ALLAN. No-o------

JUDITH. Do I look like a married woman?

[ALLAN turns away from her.

JUDITH. [Earnestly] What are you doing here?

ALLAN. I am saying good-bye.

JUDITH. What? You are going---away?

ALLAN. I am transferred to Norrland.

JUDITH. [Dumfounded] To Norrland? When are you going?

ALLAN. To-day.

JUDITH. Whose doing is this?

ALLAN. Your father's.

JUDITH. That's what I thought! [Walks up and down the floor, stamping her feet] I wish you had stayed over to-day.

ALLAN. In order to meet the Colonel?

JUDITH. What do you know about the Colonel?---Is it certain that you are going?

ALLAN. There is no other choice. And now I want it myself. [Silence.

JUDITH. Why do you want it now?

ALLAN. I want to get away from here---out into the world!

JUDITH. It's too close here? Yes, Allan, I understand you---it's unbearable here---here, where they speculate---in soda and human beings! [Silence.

JUDITH. [With genuine emotion] As you know, Allan, I possess that fortunate nature which cannot suffer---but---now I am learning!


JUDITH. Yes---now it's beginning! [She presses both hands to her breast] Oh, how it hurts---oh!

ALLAN. What is it?

JUDITH. I don't know---I choke---I think I'm going to die!

ALLAN. Judith?

JUDITH. [Crying out] Oh! Is this the way it feels? Is this the way---poor boys!

ALLAN. I should smile, if I were as cruel as you are.

JUDITH. I am not cruel, but I didn't know better---You must not go!

ALLAN. I have to!

JUDITH. Go then---but give me a keepsake!

ALLAN. What have I to give you?

JUDITH. [With all the seriousness of deepest suffering] You!---No, I can never live through this! [Cries out, pressing her breast with both hands] I suffer, I suffer---What have you done to me? I don't want to live any longer! Allan, don't go---not alone! Let us go together---we'll take the small boat, the little white one---and we'll sail far out, with the main sheet made fast---the wind is high---and we sail till we founder out there, way out, where there is no eelgrass and no jelly-fish---What do you say?---But we should have washed the sails yesterday---they should be white as snow---for I want to see white in that moment---and you swim with your arm about me until you grow tired---and then we sink---[Turning around] There would be style in that, a good deal more style than in going about here lamenting and smuggling letters that will be opened and jeered at by father---Allan! [She takes hold of both his arms and shakes him] Do you hear?

ALLAN. [Who has been watching her with shining eyes] Judith! Judith! Why were you not like this before?

JUDITH. I didn't know---how could I tell what I didn't know?

ALLAN. And now I must go away from you! But I suppose it is the better, the only thing! I cannot compete with a man---like------

JUDITH. Don't speak of the Colonel!

ALLAN. Is it not true?

JUDITH. It is true---and it is not true.

ALLAN. Can it become wholly untrue?

JUDITH. Yes, so it shall---within an hour!

ALLAN. And you keep your word? I can wait, I can suffer, I can work---Judith!

JUDITH. Don't go yet! How long must I wait?

ALLAN. A year.

JUDITH. [Exultantly] One? I shall wait a thousand years, and if you do not come then, I shall turn the dome of heaven upside down and make the sun rise in the west---Hush, somebody is coming! Allan, we must part---take me into your arms! [They embrace each other] But you must not kiss me. [Turns her head away] There, go now! Go now!

ALLAN goes toward the background and puts on his cloak. Then they rush into each other's arms so that JUDITH disappears beneath the cloak, and for a moment they exchange kisses. ALLAN rushes out. JUDITH throws herself face downward on the sofa and sobs.

ALLAN. [Comes back and kneels beside the sofa] No, I cannot go! I cannot go away from you---not now!

JUDITH. [Rising] If you could only see how beautiful you are now! If you could only see yourself!

ALLAN. Oh, no, a man cannot be beautiful. But you, Judith! You---that you---oh, I saw that, when you were kind, another Judith appeared---and she's mine!---But if you don't keep faith with me now, then I shall die!

JUDITH. I think I am dying even now---Oh, that I might die now, just now, when I am so happy------

ALLAN. Somebody is coming!

JUDITH. Let them come! I fear nothing in the world hereafter. But I wish you could take me along under your cloak. [She hides herself in play under his cloak] And then I should fly with you to Norrland. What are we to do in Norrland? Become a Fusilier---one of those that wear plumes on their hats? There's style in that, and it will be becoming to you.

[Plays with his hair.

ALLAN kisses the tips of her fingers, one by one---and then he kisses her shoe.

JUDITH. What are you doing, Mr. Madcap? Your lips will get black. [Rising impetuously] And then I cannot kiss you when you go! Come, and I'll go with you!

ALLAN. No, then I should be placed under arrest.

JUDITH. I'll go with you to the guard-room.

ALLAN. They wouldn't let you! We must part now!

JUDITH. I am going to swim after the steamer---and then you jump in and save me---and it gets into the newspapers, and we become engaged. Shall we do that?

ALLAN. You can still jest?

JUDITH. There will always be time for tears---Say good-bye now!------

They rush into each other's arms; then ALLAN withdraws slowly through the door in the background, JUDITH following him; the door remains open after them; they embrace again outside, in the rain.

ALLAN. You'll get wet, Judith.

JUDITH. What do I care!

They tear themselves away from each other. ALLAN leaves. JUDITH remains behind, exposing herself to the rain and to the wind, which strains at her hair and her clothes while she is waving her handkerchief. Then JUDITH runs back into the room and throws herself on the sofa, with her face buried in her hands.

ALICE. [Enters and goes over to JUDITH] What is this?---Get up and let me look at you.

[JUDITH sits up.

ALICE. [Scrutinising her] You are not sick---And I am not going to console you. [Goes out to the right.

The LIEUTENANT enters from the background.

JUDITH. [Gets up and puts on the hooded coat] Come along to the telegraph office, Lieutenant.

LIEUTENANT. If I can be of any service---but I don't think it's quite proper------

JUDITH. So much the better! I want you to compromise me---but without any illusions on your part---Go ahead, please! [They go out through the background.

The CAPTAIN and ALICE enter from the right; he is in undress uniform.

CAPTAIN. [Sits down in the easy-chair] Let him come in.

ALICE goes over to the door on the left and opens it, whereupon she sits down on the sofa.

CURT. [Enters from the left] You want to speak to me?

CAPTAIN. [Pleasantly, but somewhat condescendingly] Yes, I have quite a number of important things to tell you. Sit down.

CURT. [Sits down on the chair to the left] I am all ears.

CAPTAIN. Well, then!---[Bumptiously] You know that our quarantine system has been neglected during nearly a century---hm!

ALICE. [To CURT] That's the candidate for the Riksdag who speaks now.

CAPTAIN. But with the tremendous development witnessed by our own day in------

ALICE. [To CURT] The communications, of course!

CAPTAIN.---all kinds of ways the government has begun to consider improvements. And for this purpose the Board of Health has appointed inspectors---hm!

ALICE. [To CURT] He's giving dictation.

CAPTAIN. You may as well learn it now as later---I have been appointed an inspector of quarantines. [Silence.

CURT. I congratulate---and pay my respects to my superior at the same time.

CAPTAIN. On account of ties of kinship our personal relations will remain unchanged. However---to speak of other things---At my request your son Allan has been transferred to an infantry regiment in Norrland.

CURT. But I don't want it.

CAPTAIN. Your will in this case is subordinate to the mother's wishes---and as the mother has authorised me to decide, I have formed this decision.

CURT. I admire you!

CAPTAIN. Is that the only feeling you experience at this moment when you are to part from your son? Have you no other purely human feelings?

CURT. You mean that I ought to be suffering?


CURT. It would please you if I suffered. You wish me to suffer.

CAPTAIN. You suffer?---Once I was taken sick---you were present and I can still remember that your face expressed nothing but undisguised pleasure.

ALICE. That is not true! Curt sat beside your bed all night and calmed you down when your qualms of conscience became too violent---but when you recovered you ceased to be thankful for it------

CAPTAIN. [Pretending not to hear Alice] Consequently Allan will have to leave us.

CURT. And who is going to pay for it?

CAPTAIN. I have done so already---that is to say, we---a syndicate of people interested in the young man's future.

CURT. A syndicate?

CAPTAIN. Yes---and to make sure that everything is all right you can look over these subscription lists.

[Hands him some papers.

CURT. Lists? [Reading the papers] These are begging letters?

CAPTAIN. Call them what you please.

CURT. Have you gone begging on behalf of my son?

CAPTAIN. Are you ungrateful again? An ungrateful man is the heaviest burden borne by the earth.

CURT. Then I am dead socially! And my candidacy is done for!

CAPTAIN. What candidacy?

CURT. For the Riksdag, of course.

CAPTAIN. I hope you never had any such notions---particularly as you might have guessed that I, as an older resident, intended to offer my own services, which you seem to underestimate.

CURT. Oh, well, then that's gone, too!

CAPTAIN. It doesn't seem to trouble you very much.

CURT. Now you have taken everything---do you want more?

CAPTAIN. Have you anything more? And have you anything to reproach me with? Consider carefully if you have anything to reproach me with.

CURT. Strictly speaking, no! Everything has been correct and legal as it should be between honest citizens in the course of daily life------

CAPTAIN. You say this with a resignation which I would call cynical. But your entire nature has a cynical bent, my dear Curt, and there are moments when I feel tempted to share Alice's opinion of you---that you are a hypocrite, a hypocrite of the first water.

CURT. [Calmly] So that's Alice's opinion?

ALICE. [To CURT] It was---once. But not now, for it takes true heroism to bear what you have borne---or it takes something else!

CAPTAIN. Now I think the discussion may be regarded as closed. You, Curt, had better go and say good-bye to Allan, who is leaving with the next boat.

CURT. [Rising] So soon? Well, I have gone through worse things than that.

CAPTAIN. You say that so often that I am beginning to wonder what you went through in America?

CURT. What I went through? I went through misfortunes. And it is the unmistakable right of every human being to suffer misfortune.

CAPTAIN. [Sharply] There are self-inflicted misfortunes---were yours of that kind?

CURT. Is not this a question of conscience?

CAPTAIN. [Brusquely] Do you mean to say you have a conscience?

CURT. There are wolves and there are sheep, and no human being is honoured by being a sheep. But I'd rather be that than a wolf!

CAPTAIN. You don't recognise the old truth, that everybody is the maker of his own fortune?

CURT. Is that a truth?

CAPTAIN. And you don't know that a man's own strength------

CURT. Yes, I know that from the night when your own strength failed you, and you lay flat on the floor.

CAPTAIN. [Raising his voice] A deserving man like myself ---yes, look at me---For fifty years I have fought---against a world---but at last I have won the game, by perseverance, loyalty, energy, and---integrity!

ALICE. You should leave that to be said by others!

CAPTAIN. The others won't say it because they are jealous. However---we are expecting company---my daughter Judith will to-day meet her intended---Where is Judith?

ALICE. She is out.

CAPTAIN. In the rain? Send for her.

CURT. Perhaps I may go now?

CAPTAIN. No, you had better stay. Is Judith dressed---Properly?

ALICE. Oh, so-so---Have you definite word from the Colonel that he is coming?

CAPTAIN. [Rising] Yes---that is to say, he will take us by surprise, as it is termed. And I am expecting a telegram from him---any moment. [Goes to the right] I'll be back at once.

ALICE. There you see him as he is! Can he be called human?

CURT. When you asked that question once before, I answered no. Now I believe him to be the commonest kind of human being of the sort that possess the earth. Perhaps we, too, are of the same kind---making use of other people and of favourable opportunities?

ALICE. He has eaten you and yours alive---and you defend him?

CURT. I have suffered worse things. And this man-eater has left my soul unharmed---that he couldn't swallow!

ALICE. What "worse" have you suffered?

CURT. And you ask that?

ALICE. Do you wish to be rude?

CURT. No, I don't wish to---and therefore---don't ask again!

CAPTAIN. [Enters from the right] The telegram was already there, however---Please read it, Alice, for I cannot see---[Seats himself pompously in the easy-chair] Read it! You need not go, Curt.

ALICE glances through the telegram quickly and looks perplexed.

CAPTAIN. Well? Don't you find it pleasing?

[ALICE stares in silence at the CAPTAIN.

CAPTAIN. [Ironically] Who is it from?

ALICE. From the Colonel.

CAPTAIN. [With self-satisfaction] So I thought---and what does the Colonel say?

ALICE. This is what he says: "On account of Miss Judith's impertinent communication over the telephone, I consider the relationship ended---for ever!"

[Looks intently at the CAPTAIN.

CAPTAIN. Once more, if you please.

ALICE. [Reads rapidly] "On account of Miss Judith's impertinent communication over the telephone, I consider the relationship ended---for ever!"

CAPTAIN. [Turns pale] It is Judith!

ALICE. And there is Holofernes!

CAPTAIN. And what are you?

ALICE. Soon you will see!

CAPTAIN. This is your doing!


CAPTAIN. [In a rage] This is your doing!

ALICE. No! [The Captain tries to rise and draw his sabre, but falls back, touched by an apoplectic stroke] There you got what was coming to you!

CAPTAIN. [With senile tears in his voice] Don't be angry at me---I am very sick------

ALICE. Are you? I am glad to hear it.

CURT. Let us put him to bed.

ALICE. No, I don't want to touch him. [Rings.

CAPTAIN. [As before] You must not be angry at me! [To CURT] Look after my children!

CURT. This is sublime! I am to look after his children, and he has stolen mine!

ALICE. Always the same self-deception!

CAPTAIN. Look after my children! [Continues to mumble unintelligibly] Blub-blub-blub-blub.

ALICE. At last that tongue is checked! Can brag no more, lie no more, wound no more! You, Curt, who believe in God, give Him thanks on my behalf. Thank Him for my liberation from the tower, from the wolf, from the vampire!

CURT. Not that way, Alice!

ALICE. [With her face close to the CAPTAIN's] Where is your own strength now? Tell me? Where is your energy? [The CAPTAIN, speechless, spits in her face] Oh, you can still squirt venom, you viper---then I'll tear the tongue out of your throat! [Cuffs him on the ear] The head is off, but still it blushes!---O, Judith, glorious girl, whom I have carried like vengeance under my heart---you, you have set us free, all of us!---? If you have more heads than one, Hydra, we'll take them! [Pulls his beard] Think only that justice exists on the earth! Sometimes I dreamed it, but I could never believe it. Curt, ask God to pardon me for misjudging Him. Oh, there is justice! So I will become a sheep, too! Tell Him that, Curt! A little success makes us better, but adversity alone turns us into wolves.

The LIEUTENANT enters from the background.

ALICE. The Captain has had a stroke---will you please help us to roll out the chair?

LIEUTENANT. Madam------

ALICE. What is it?

LIEUTENANT. Well, Miss Judith------

ALICE. Help us with this first---then you can speak of Miss Judith afterward.

[The LIEUTENANT rolls out the chair to the right.

ALICE. Away with the carcass! Out with it, and let's open the doors! The place must be aired! [Opens the doors in the background; the sky has cleared] Ugh!

CURT. Are you going to desert him?

ALICE. A wrecked ship is deserted, and the crew save their lives---I'll not act as undertaker to a rotting beast! Drainmen and dissectors may dispose of him! A garden bed would be too good for that barrowful of filth! Now I am going to wash and bathe myself in order to get rid of all this impurity---if I can ever cleanse myself completely!

JUDITH is seen outside, by the balustrade, waving her handkerchief toward the sea.

CURT. [Toward the background] Who is there? Judith! [Calls out] Judith!

JUDITH.[Cries out as she enters] He is gone!

CURT. Who?

JUDITH. Allan is gone!

CURT. Without saying good-bye?

JUDITH. He did to me, and he sent his love to you, Uncle.

ALICE. Oh, that was it!

JUDITH. [Throwing herself into CURT's arms] He is gone!

CURT. He will come back, little girl.

ALICE. Or we will go after him!

CURT. [With a gesture indicating the door on the right] And leave him? What would the world------

ALICE. The world---bah! Judith, come into my arms! [JUDITH goes up to ALICE, who kisses her on the forehead] Do you want to go after him?

JUDITH. How can you ask?

ALICE. But your father is sick.

JUDITH. What do I care!

ALICE. This is Judith! Oh, I love you, Judith!

JUDITH. And besides, papa is never mean---and he doesn't like cuddling. There's style to papa, after all.

ALICE. Yes, in a way!

JUDITH. And I don't think he is longing for me after that telephone message---Well, why should he pester me with an old fellow? No, Allan, Allan! [Throws herself into CURT's arms] I want to go to Allan!

Tears herself loose again and runs out to wave her handkerchief

[CURT follows her and waves his handkerchief also.

ALICE. Think of it, that flowers can grow out of dirt!

The LIEUTENANT in from the right.

ALICE. Well?

LIEUTENANT. Yes, Miss Judith------

ALICE. Is the feeling of those letters that form her name so sweet on your lips that it makes you forget him who is dying?

LIEUTENANT. Yes, but she said------

ALICE. She? Say rather Judith then! But first of all---how goes it in there?

LIEUTENANT. Oh, in there---it's all over!

ALICE. All over? O, God, on my own behalf and that of all mankind, I thank Thee for having freed us from this evil! Your arm, if you please---I want to go outside and get a breath---breathe!

[The LIEUTENANT offers his arm.

ALICE. [Checks herself] Did he say anything before the end came?

LIEUTENANT. Miss Judith's father spoke a few words only.

ALICE. What did he say?

LIEUTENANT. He said: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do!"

ALICE. Inconceivable!

LIEUTENANT. Yes, Miss Judith's father was a good and noble man.

ALICE. Curt!

CURT Enters.

ALICE. It is over!


ALICE. Do you know what his last words were? No, you can never guess it. "Forgive them, for they know not what they do!"

CURT. Can you translate it?

ALICE. I suppose he meant that he had always done right and died as one that had been wronged by life.

CURT. I am sure his funeral sermon will be fine.

ALICE. And plenty of flowers---from the non-commissioned officers.

CURT. Yes.

ALICE. About a year ago he said something like this: "It looks to me as if life were a tremendous hoax played on all of us!"

CURT. Do you mean to imply that he was playing a hoax on us up to the very moment of death?

ALICE. No---but now, when he is dead, I feel a strange inclination to speak well of him.

CURT. Well, let us do so!

LIEUTENANT. Miss Judith's father was a good and noble man.

ALICE. [To CURT] Listen to that!

CURT. "They know not what they do." How many times did I not ask you whether he knew what he was doing? And you didn't think he knew. Therefore, forgive him!

ALICE. Riddles! Riddles! But do you notice that there is peace in the house now? The wonderful peace of death. Wonderful as the solemn anxiety that surrounds the coming of a child into the world. I hear the silence---and on the floor I see the traces of the easy-chair that carried him away---And I feel that now my own life is ended, and I am starting on the road to dissolution! Do you know, it's queer, but those simple words of the Lieutenant---and his is a simple mind---they pursue me, but now they have become serious. My husband, my youth's beloved---yes, perhaps you laugh!---he was a good and noble man---nevertheless!

CURT. Nevertheless? And a brave one---as he fought for his own and his family's existence!

ALICE. What worries! What humiliations! Which he wiped out---in order to pass on!

CURT. He was one who had been passed by! And that is to say much! Alice, go in there!

ALICE. No, I cannot do it! For while we have been talking here, the image of him as he was in his younger years has come back to me---I have seen him, I see him---now, as when he was only twenty---I must have loved that man!

CURT. And hated him!

ALICE. And hated!---Peace be with him!

Goes toward the right door and stops in front of it, folding her hands as if to pray.