ACT IV
 

(SCENE.-The same room in the late evening. The lamp, with a shade on it, is burning on the table. REBECCA is standing by the table, packing some small articles in a travelling-bag. Her cloak, hat, and the white crochetted shawl are hanging on the back of the couch. Mrs HELSETH comes in from the right.)

MRS HELSETH (speaking in low tones and with a reserved manner). Yes, all your things have been taken down, miss. They are in the kitchen passage.

REBECCA
Thank you. You have ordered the carriage?

MRS HELSETH
Yes, miss. The coachman wants to know what time he shall bring it round.

REBECCA
I think at about eleven o'clock. The boat goes at midnight.

Mrs Helseth (with a little hesitation)
But what about Mr. Rosmer? Suppose he is not back by that time?

REBECCA
I shall start, all the same. If I should not see him, you can tell him I will write to him--a long letter, say that.

MRS HELSETH
Yes, I dare say it will be all right to write. But, poor dear, I really think that you ought to try and have a talk with him once more.

REBECCA
Perhaps I ought--Or perhaps not, after all.

MRS HELSETH
Dear, dear! I never thought I should, live to see such a thing as this!

REBECCA
What did you think, then, Mrs Helseth?

MRS HELSETH
To tell the truth, miss, I thought Mr. Rosmer was an honester man than that.

REBECCA
Honester?

MRS HELSETH
Yes, miss, that is the truth.

REBECCA
But, my dear Mrs Helseth, what do you mean by that?

MRS HELSETH
I mean what is true and right, miss. He should not get out of it in this way--that he shouldn't.

REBECCA (looking at her)
Now look here, Mrs Helseth. Tell me, honestly and frankly, why you think I am going away.

MRS HELSETH
Good Lord, miss--because it is necessary, I suppose. Well, well!--Still, I certainly do not think Mr. Rosmer has behaved well. There was some excuse in Mortensgaard's case, because the woman's husband was still alive; so that it was impossible for them to marry, however much they wished it. But Mr. Rosmer, he could--ahem!

REBECCA (with a faint smile)
Is it possible that you could think such things about me and Mr. Rosmer?

MRS HELSETH
Not for a moment--until to-day, I mean.

REBECCA
But why to-day?

MRS HELSETH
Well, after all the horrible things they tell me one may see in the papers about Mr. Rosmer

REBECCA
Ah!

MRS HELSETH
What I mean is this--if a man can go over to Mortensgaard's religion, you may believe him capable of anything. And that's the truth.

REBECCA
Yes, very likely. But about me? What have you got to say about me?

MRS HELSETH
Well, I am sure, miss--I do not think you are so greatly to be blamed. It is not always so easy for a lone woman to resist, I dare say. We are all human after all, Miss West.

REBECCA
That is very true, Mrs Helseth. We are all human, after all.--What are you listening to?

MRS HELSETH (in a low voice)
Good Lord!--I believe that is him coming now.

REBECCA (with a start)
In spite of everything, then--! (Speaks with determination.) Very well. So be it. (ROSMER comes in from the hall. He sees the luggage, and turns to REBECCA.)

ROSMER
What does this mean?

REBECCA
I am going away.

ROSMER
At once?

REBECCA
Yes. (To Mrs HELSETH.) Eleven o'clock, then.

MRS HELSETH
Very well, miss. (Goes out to the right.)

ROSMER (after a short pause)
Where are you going, Rebecca?

REBECCA
I am taking the boat for the north.

ROSMER
North? What are you going there for?

REBECCA
It is where I came from.

ROSMER
But you have no more ties there now.

REBECCA
I have none here, either.

ROSMER
What do you propose to do?

REBECCA
I do not know. I only want to make an end of it.

ROSMER
Make an end of what?

REBECCA
Rosmersholm has broken me.

ROSMER (more attentively)
What is that?

REBECCA
Broken me utterly. I had a will of my own, and some courage, when I came here. Now I am crushed under the law of strangers. I do not think I shall have the courage to begin anything else in the world after this.

ROSMER
Why not? What do you mean by being crushed under a law--?

REBECCA
Dear friend, do not let us talk about that now--Tell me what passed between you and Mr. Kroll.

ROSMER
We have made our peace.

REBECCA
Quite so. So it came to that.

ROSMER
He got together all our old circle of friends at his house. They convinced me that the work of ennobling men's souls was not in my line at all. Besides, it is such a hopeless task, any way. I shall let it alone.

REBECCA
Well, perhaps it is better so.

ROSMER
Do you say THAT now? Is that what your opinion is now?

REBECCA
I have come to that opinion--in the last day or two.

ROSMER
You are lying, Rebecca.

REBECCA
Lying--?

ROSMER
Yes, lying. You have never believed in me. You have never believed me to be the man to lead the cause to victory.

REBECCA
I have believed that we two together would be equal to it.

ROSMER
That is not true. You have believed that you could accomplish something big in life yourself--that you could use me to further your plans--that I might be useful to you in the pursuit of your object. That is what you have believed.

REBECCA
Listen to me, John

ROSMER (sitting down wearily on the couch)
Oh, let me be! I see the whole thing clearly now. I have been like a glove in your hands.

REBECCA
Listen to me, John. Let us talk this thing over. It will be for the last time. (Sits down in a chair by the couch.) I had intended to write to you about it all--when I had gone back north. But it is much better that you should hear it at once.

ROSMER
Have you something more to tell, then?

REBECCA
The most important part of it all.

ROSMER
What do you mean?

REBECCA
Something that you have never suspected. Something that puts all the rest in its true light.

ROSMER (shaking his head)
I do not understand, at all.

REBECCA
It is quite true that at one time I did play my cards so as to secure admission to Rosmersholm. My idea was that I should succeed in doing well for myself here--either in one way or in another, you understand.

ROSMER
Well, you succeeded in carrying your scheme through, too.

REBECCA
I believe I could have carried anything through--at that time. For then I still had the courage of a free will. I had no one else to consider, nothing to turn me from my path. But then began what has broken down my will and filled the whole of my life with dread and wretchedness.

ROSMER
What--began? Speak so that I can understand you.

REBECCA
There came over me--a wild, uncontrollable passion--Oh, John--!

ROSMER
Passion? You--! For what?

REBECCA
For you.

ROSMER (getting up)
What does this mean!

REBECCA (preventing him)
Sit still, dear. I will tell you more about it.

ROSMER
And you mean to say--that you have loved me--in that way!

REBECCA
I thought I might call it loving you--then. I thought it was love. But it was not. It was what I have said--a wild, uncontrollable passion.

ROSMER (speaking with difficulty)
Rebecca--is it really you-you- who are sitting here telling me this?

REBECCA
Yes, indeed it is, John.

ROSMER
Then it was as the outcome of this--and under the influence of this--that you "acted," as you called it.

REBECCA
It swept over me like a storm over the sea--like one of the storms we have in winter in the north. They catch you up and rush you along with them, you know, until their fury is expended. There is no withstanding them.

ROSMER
So it swept poor unhappy Beata into the mill-race.

REBECCA
Yes--it was like a fight for life between Beata and me at that time.

ROSMER
You proved the strongest of us all at Rosmersholm-- stronger than both Beata and me put together.

REBECCA
I knew you well enough to know that I could not get at you in any way until you were set free--both in actual circumstances and in your soul.

ROSMER
But I do not understand you, Rebecca. You--you yourself and your whole conduct--are an insoluble riddle to me. I am free now--both in my soul and my circumstances. You are absolutely in touch with the goal you set before yourself from the beginning. And nevertheless--

REBECCA
I have never stood farther from my goal than I do now.

ROSMER
And nevertheless, I say, when yesterday I asked you--urged you--to become my wife, you cried out that it never could be.

REBECCA
I cried out in despair, John.

ROSMER
Why?

REBECCA
Because Rosmersholm has unnerved me. All the courage has been sapped out of my will here--crushed out! The time has gone for me to dare risk anything whatever. I have lost all power of action, John.

ROSMER
Tell me how that has come about.

REBECCA
It has come about through my living with you.

ROSMER
But how? How?

REBECCA
When I was alone with you here--and you had really found yourself--

ROSMER
Yes, yes?

REBECCA
For you never really found yourself as long as Beata was Alive--

ROSMER
Alas, you are right in that.

REBECCA
When it came about that I was living together with you here, in peace and solitude--when you exchanged all your thoughts with me unreservedly--your every mood, however tender or intimate-- then the great change happened in me. Little by little, you understand. Almost imperceptibly--but overwhelmingly in the end, till it reached the uttermost depths of my soul.

ROSMER
What does this mean, Rebecca?

REBECCA
All the other feeling--all that horrible passion that had drowned my better self--left me entirely. All the violent emotions that had been roused in me were quelled and silenced. A peace stole over my soul--a quiet like that of one of our mountain peaks up under the midnight sun.

ROSMER
Tell me more of it--all that you can.

REBECCA
There is not much more to tell. Only that this was how love grew up in my heart--a great, self-denying love--content with such a union of hearts as there has been between us two.

ROSMER
Oh, if only I had had the slightest suspicion of all this!

REBECCA
It is best as it is. Yesterday, when you asked me if I would be your wife, I gave a cry of joy--

ROSMER
Yes, it was that, Rebecca, was it not! I thought that was what it meant.

REBECCA
For a moment, yes-I forgot myself for a moment. It was my dauntless will of the old days that was struggling to be free again. But now it has no more strength--it has lost it for ever.

ROSMER
How do you explain what has taken place in you?

REBECCA
It is the Rosmer attitude towards life- or your attitude towards life, at any rate--that has infected my will.

ROSMER
Infected?

REBECCA
Yes, and made it sickly--bound it captive under laws that formerly had no meaning for me. You--my life together with you--have ennobled my soul--

ROSMER
Ah, if I dared believe that to be true!

REBECCA
You may believe it confidently. The Rosmer attitude towards life ennobles. But-(shakes her head)-but-but--

ROSMER
But? Well?

REBECCA
But it kills joy, you know.

ROSMER
Do you say that, Rebecca?

REBECCA
For me, at all events.

ROSMER
Yes, but are you so sure of that? If I asked you again now--? Implored you--?

REBECCA
Oh, my dear--never go back to that again! It is impossible. Yes, impossible--because I must tell you this, John. I have a--past behind me.

ROSMER
Something more than you have told me?

REBECCA
Yes, something more and something different.

ROSMER (with a faint smile)
It is very strange, Rebecca, but-- do you know--the idea of such a thing has occurred to me more than once.

REBECCA
It has? And yet--notwithstanding that, you--?

ROSMER
I never believed in it. I only played with the idea- nothing more.

REBECCA
If you wish, I will tell you all about it at once.

ROSMER (stopping her)
No, no! I do not want to hear a word aabout it. Whatever it is, it shall be forgotten, as far as I am concerned.

REBECCA
But I cannot forget it.

ROSMER
Oh, Rebecca--!

REBECCA
Yes, dear--that is just the dreadful part of it-that now, when all the happiness of life is freely and fully offered to me, all I can feel is that I am barred out from it by my past.

ROSMER
Your past is dead, Rebecca. It has no longer any hold on you--has nothing to do with you--as you are now.

REBECCA
Ah, my dear, those are mere words, you know. What about innocence, then? Where am I to get that from?

ROSMER (gloomily)
Ah, yes--innocence.

REBECCA
Yes, innocence--which is at the root of all joy and happiness. That was the teaching, you know, that you wanted to see realised by all the men you were going to raise up to nobility and happiness.

ROSMER
Ah, do not remind me of that. It was nothing but a half-dreamt dream, Rebecca--a rash suggestion that I have no longer any faith in. Human nature cannot be ennobled by outside influences, believe me.

REBECCA (gently)
Not by a tranquil love, do you think?

ROSMER (thoughtfully)
Yes, that would be a splendid thing- almost the most glorious thing in life, I think if it were so. (Moves restlessly.) But how am I ever to clear up the question?- how am I to get to the bottom of it?

REBECCA
Do you not believe in me, John?

ROSMER
Ah, Rebecca, how can I believe you entirely--you whose life here has been nothing but continual concealment and secrecy!--And now you have this new tale to tell. If it is cloaking some design of yours, tell me so--openly. Perhaps there is something or other that you hope to gain by that means? I will gladly do anything that I can for you.

REBECCA (wringing her hands)
Oh, this killing doubt! John, John--!

ROSMER
Yes, I know, dear--it is horrible--but I cannot help it. I shall never be able to free myself from it--never be able to feel certain that your love for me is genuine and pure.

REBECCA
But is there nothing in your own heart that bears witness to the transformation that has taken place in me--and taken place through your influence, and yours alone!

ROSMER
Ah, my dear, I do not believe any longer in my power to transform people. I have no belief in myself left at all. I do not believe either in myself or in you.

REBECCA (looking darkly at him)
How are you going to live out your life, then?

ROSMER
That is just what I do not know--and cannot imagine. I do not believe I can live it out. And, moreover, I do not know anything in the world that would be worth living for.

REBECCA
Life carries a perpetual rebirth with it. Let us hold fast to it, dear. We shall be finished with it quite soon enough.

ROSMER (getting up restlessly)
Then give me my faith back again!--my faith in you, Rebecca--my faith in your love! Give me a proof of it! I must have some proof!

REBECCA
Proof? How can I give you a proof--!

ROSMER
You must! (Crosses the room.) I cannot bear this desolate, horrible loneliness--this-this--. (A knock is heard at the hall door.)

REBECCA (getting up from her chair)
Did you hear that?

(The door opens, and ULRIK BRENDEL comes in. Except that he wears a white shirt, a black coat and, a good pair of high boots, he is dressed as in the first act. He looks troubled.)

ROSMER
Ah, it is you, Mr. Brendel!

BRENDEL
John, my boy, I have come to say good-bye to you!

ROSMER
Where are you going, so late as this?

BRENDEL
Downhill.

ROSMER
How--?

BRENDEL
I am on my way home, my beloved pupil. I am homesick for the great Nothingness.

ROSMER
Something has happened to you, Mr. Brendel! What is it?

BRENDEL
Ah, you notice the transformation, then? Well, it is evident enough. The last time I entered your doors I stood before you a man of substance, slapping a well-filled pocket.

ROSMER
Really? I don't quite understand--

BRENDEL
And now, as you see me to-night, I am a deposed monarch standing over the ashes of my burnt-out palace.

ROSMER
If there is any way I can help you

BRENDEL
You have preserved your childlike heart, John--can you let me have a loan?

ROSMER
Yes, most willingly!

BRENDEL
Can you spare me an ideal or two?

ROSMER
What do you say?

BRENDEL
One or two cast-off ideals? You will be doing a good deed. I am cleaned out, my dear boy, absolutely and entirely.

REBECCA
Did you not succeed in giving your lecture?

BRENDEL
No, fair lady. What do you think?--just as I was standing ready to pour out the contents of my horn in plenty, I made the painful discovery that I was bankrupt.

REBECCA
But what of all your unwritten works, then?

BRENDEL
For five and twenty years I have been like a miser sitting on his locked money-chest. And then to-day, when I opened it to take out my treasure--there was nothing there! The mills of time had ground it into dust. There was not a blessed thing left of the whole lot.

ROSMER
But are you certain of that?

BRENDEL
There is no room for doubt, my dear boy. The President has convinced me of that.

ROSMER
The President?

BRENDEL
Oh, well--His Excellency, then. Ganz nach Belieben.

ROSMER
But whom do you mean?

BRENDEL
Peter Mortensgaard, of course.

ROSMER
What!

BRENDEL (mysteriously)
Hush, hush, hush! Peter Mortensgaard is Lord and Chieftain of the Future. I have never stood in a more august presence. Peter Mortensgaard has the power of omnipotence in him. He can do whatever he wants.

ROSMER
Oh, come--don't you believe that!

BRENDEL
It is true, my boy--because Peter Mortensgaard never wants to do more than he can. Peter Mortensgaard is capable of living his life without ideals. And that, believe me, is precisely the great secret of success in life. It sums up all the wisdom of the world. Basta!

ROSMER (in a low voice)
Now I see that you are going away from here poorer than you came.

BRENDEL
Bien! Then take an example from your old tutor. Erase from your mind everything that he imprinted there. Do not build your castle upon the shifting sand. And look well ahead, and be sure of your ground, before you build upon the charming creature who is sweetening your life here.

REBECCA
Do you mean me?

BRENDEL
Yes, most attractive mermaid!

REBECCA
Why am I not fit to build upon?

BRENDEL (taking a step nearer to her)
I understood that my former pupil had a cause which it was his life's work to lead to victory.

REBECCA
And if he has--?

BRENDEL
He is certain of victory--but, be it distinctly understood, on one unalterable condition.

REBECCA
What is that?

BRENDEL (taking her gently by the wrist)
That the woman who loves him shall gladly go out into the kitchen and chop off her dainty, pink and white little finger--here, just at the middle joint. Furthermore, that the aforesaid loving woman shall--also gladly--clip off her incomparably moulded left ear. (Lets her go, and turns to ROSMER.) Good-bye, John the Victorious!

ROSMER
Must you go now--in this dark night?

BRENDEL
The dark night is best. Peace be with you! (He goes out. Silence in the room for a short time.)

REBECCA (breathing heavily)
How close and sultry it is in here! (Goes to the window, opens it and stands by it.)

ROSMER (sitting down on a chair by the stove)
There is nothing else for it after all, Rebecca--I can see that. You must go away.

REBECCA
Yes, I do not see that I have any choice.

ROSMER
Let us make use of our last hour together. Come over here and sit beside me.

REBECCA (goes and sits down on the couch)
What do you want, John?

ROSMER
In the first place I want to tell you that you need have no anxiety about your future.

REBECCA (with a smile)
Hm! My future!

ROSMER
I have foreseen all contingencies--long ago. Whatever may happen, you are provided for.

REBECCA
Have you even done that for me, dear?

ROSMER
You might have known that I should.

REBECCA
It is many a long day since I thought about anything of the kind.

ROSMER
Yes, of course. Naturally, you thought things could never be otherwise between us than as they were.

REBECCA
Yes, that was what I thought.

ROSMER
So did I. But if anything were to happen to me now--

REBECCA
Oh, John, you will live longer than I shall.

ROSMER
I can dispose of my miserable existence as I please, you know.

REBECCA
What do you mean? You surely are never thinking of--!

ROSMER
Do you think it would be so surprising? After the pitiful, lamentable defeat I have suffered? I, who was to have made it my life's work to lead my cause to victory--! And here I am, a deserter before the fight has even really begun!

REBECCA
Take up the fight again, John! Only try--and you will see that you will conquer. You will ennoble hundreds--thousands--of souls. Only try!

ROSMER
I, Rebecca, who no longer believe even in my having a mission in life?

REBECCA
But your mission has stood the test. You have at all events ennobled one of your fellow-creatures for the rest of her life--I mean myself.

ROSMER
Yes--if I dared believe you about that.

REBECCA (wringing her hands)
But, John, do you know of nothing-- nothing--that would make you believe that?

ROSMER (starts, as if with fear)
Don't venture on that subject! No further, Rebecca! Not a single word more!

REBECCA
Indeed, that is just the subject we must venture upon. Do you know of anything that would stifle your doubts? For I know of nothing in the world.

ROSMER
It is best for you not to know. Best for us both.

REBECCA
No, no, no--I have no patience with that sort of thing! If you know of anything that would acquit me in your eyes, I claim it as my right that you should name it.

ROSMER (as if impelled against his will)
Well, let us see. You say that you have great love in your heart; that your soul has been ennobled through me. Is that so? Have you counted the cost? Shall we try and balance our accounts? Tell me.

REBECCA
I am quite ready.

ROSMER
Then when shall it be?

REBECCA
Whenever you like. The sooner the better.

ROSMER
Then let me see, Rebecca, whether you--for my sake-this very night--. (Breaks off.) Oh, no, no!

REBECCA
Yes, John! Yes, yes! Say it, and you shall see.

ROSMER
Have you the courage--are you willing--gladly, as Ulrik Brendel said--for my sake, to-night--gladly--to go the same way--that Beata went!

REBECCA (gets up slowly from the couch, and says almost inaudibly): John--!

ROSMER
Yes, dear--that is the question I shall never be able to rid my thoughts of, when you have gone away. Every hour of the day I shall come back to it. Ah, I seem to see you bodily before me--standing out on the foot-bridge-right out in the middle. Now you lean out over the railing ! You grow dizzy as you feel drawn down towards the mill-race! No--you recoil. You dare not do--what she dared.

REBECCA
But if I had the courage?--and willingly and gladly? What then?

ROSMER
Then I would believe in you. Then I should get back my faith in my mission in life--my faith in my power to ennoble my fellow men--my faith in mankind's power to be ennobled.

Rebecca (takes up her shawl slowly, throws it over her head. and says, controlling herself): You shall have your faith back.

ROSMER
Have you the courage and the strength of will for that, Rebecca?

REBECCA
Of that you must judge in the morning--or later--when they take up my body.

Rosmer (burying his head in his hands)
There is a horrible temptation in this--!

REBECCA
Because I should not like to be left lying there--any longer than need be. You must take care that they find me.

ROSMER (springing up)
But all this is madness, you know. Go away, or stay! I will believe you on your bare word this time too.

REBECCA
Those are mere words, John. No more cowardice or evasion! How can you believe me on my bare word after today?

ROSMER
But I do not want to see your defeat, Rebecca.

REBECCA
There will be no defeat.

ROSMER
There will. You will never have the heart to go Beata's way.

REBECCA
Do you believe that?

ROSMER
Never. You are not like Beata. You are not under the influence of a distorted view of life.

REBECCA
But I am under the influence of the Rosmersholm view of Life--now. Whatever my offences are--it is right that I should expiate them.

ROSMER (looking at her fixedly)
Have you come to that decision?

REBECCA
Yes.

ROSMER
Very well. Then I too am under the influence of our unfettered view of life, Rebecca. There is no one that can judge us. And therefore we must be our own judges.

REBECCA (misunderstanding his meaning)
That too. That too. My leaving you will save the best that is in you.

ROSMER
Ah, there is nothing left to save in me.

REBECCA
There is. But I--after this I should only be like some sea-sprite hanging on to the barque you are striving to sail forward in, and, hampering its progress. I must go overboard. Do you think I could go through the world bearing the burden of a spoiled life--brooding for ever over the happiness which I have forfeited by my past? I must throw up the game, John.

ROSMER
If you go--then I go with you.

REBECCA (looks at him with an almost imperceptible smile, and says more gently): Yes, come with me, dear--and be witness--

ROSMER
I go with you, I said.

REBECCA
As far as the bridge--yes. You never dare go out on to it, you know.

ROSMER
Have you noticed that?

Rebecca (in sad and broken tones)
Yes. That was what made my love hopeless.

ROSMER
Rebecca--now I lay my hand on your head. (Does as he says.) And I take you for my true and lawful wife.

REBECCA (taking both his hands in hers, and bowing her head on to his breast)
Thank you, John. (Lets him go.) And now I am going-- gladly.

ROSMER
Man and wife should go together.

REBECCA
Only as far as the bridge, John.

ROSMER
And out on to it, too. As far as you go--so far I go with you. I dare do it now.

REBECCA
Are you absolutely certain that way is the best for you?

ROSMER
I know it is the only way.

REBECCA
But suppose you are only deceiving yourself? Suppose it were only a delusion--one of these White Horses of Rosmersholm?

ROSMER
It may be so. We can never escape from them--we of my race.

REBECCA
Then stay, John!

ROSMER
The man shall cleave to his wife, as the wife to her husband.

REBECCA
Yes, but first tell me this--is it you that go with me, or I that go with you?

ROSMER
We shall never get to the bottom of that.

REBECCA
Yet I should dearly like to know.

ROSMER
We two go with each other, Rebecca. I with you, and you with me.

REBECCA
I almost believe that is true.

ROSMER
For now we two are one.

REBECCA
Yes. We are one now. Come! We can go gladly now. (They go out, hand in hand, through the hall, and are seen to turn to the left. The door stands open after them. The room is empty for a little while. Then Mrs HELSETH opens the door on the right.)

MRS HELSETH
The carriage, miss, is--. (Looks round the room.) Not here? Out together at this time of night? Well, well--I must say--! Hm! (Goes out into the hall, looks round and comes in again.) Not sitting on the bench--ah, well! (Goes to the window and looks out.) Good heavens! What is that white thing--! As I am a living soul, they are both out on the foot-bridge! God forgive the sinful creatures--if they are not in each other's arms! (Gives a wild scream.) Ah!--they are over--both of them! Over into the mill-race! Help! help! (Her knees tremble, she holds on shakily to the back of a chair and can scarcely get her words out.) No. No help here. The dead woman has taken them.