[Outside the Bath Hotel. A portion of the main building can be seen
to the right. An open, park-like place with a fountain, groups
of fine old trees, and shrubbery. To the left, a little pavilion
almost covered with ivy and Virginia creeper. A table and chair
outside it. At the back a view over the fjord, right out to sea,
with headlands and small islands in the distance. It is a calm,
warm and sunny summer morning.
[PROFESSOR RUBEK and MRS. MAIA RUBEK are sitting in basket chairs
beside a covered table on the lawn outside the hotel, having just
breakfasted. They have champagne and seltzer water on the table,
and each has a newspaper. PROFESSOR RUBEK is an elderly man of
distinguished appearance, wearing a black velvet jacket, and
otherwise in light summer attire. MAIA is quite young, with
a vivacious expression and lively, mocking eyes, yet with a
suggestion of fatigue. She wears an elegant travelling dress.
[Sits for some time as though waiting for the PROFESSOR to say
something, then lets her paper drop with a deep sigh.] Oh dear, dear,
[Looks up from his paper.] Well, Maia? What is the matter with you?
Wherever you go at home here, it seems to me. Of course there was
noise and bustle enough in the town. But I don't know how it is--
even the noise and bustle seemed to have something dead about it.
[With a searching glance.] You don't seem particularly glad to be at
home again, Maia?
Married? What has that to do with the matter?
[Continuing.] --since you became the Frau Professor, and found
yourself mistress of a charming home--I beg your pardon--a very
handsome house, I ought to say. And a villa on the Lake of Taunitz,
just at the point that has become most fashionable, too--. In fact
it is all very handsome and distinguished, Maia, there's no denying
that. And spacious too. We need not always be getting in each
[Lightly.] No, no, no--there's certainly no lack of house-room, and
that sort of thing---
Remember, too, that you have been living in altogether more spacious
and distinguished surroundings--in more polished society than you were
accustomed to at home.
[Looking at him.] Ah, so you think it is I that have changed?
--and that assured me that we had crossed the frontier--that we were
really at home. For the train stopped at all the little stations--
although there was nothing doing at all.
Then why did it stop--though there was nothing to be done?
Can't say. No one got out or in; but all the same the train stopped a
long, endless time. And at every station I could make out that there
were two railway men walking up and down the platform--one with a
lantern in his hand--and they said things to each other in the night,
low, and toneless, and meaningless.
Yes, that is quite true. There are always two men walking up and down,
--of nothing. [Changing to a livelier tone.] But just wait till to-
morrow. Then we shall have the great luxurious steamer lying in
the harbour. We'll go on board her, and sail all round the coast--
northward ho!--right to the polar sea.
Yes, but then you will see nothing of the country--and of the people.
And that was what you particularly wanted.
[Shortly and snappishly.] I have seen more than enough.
Do you think a sea voyage will be better for you?
Well, well, if only it is the right thing for you---
For me? The right thing? There is nothing in the world the matter
[Rises and goes to him.] Yes, there is, Rubek. I am sure you must
feel it yourself.
Why my dearest Maia--what should be amiss with me?
[Behind him, bending over the back of his chair.] That you must tell
me. You have begun to wander about without a moment's peace. You
cannot rest anywhere--neither at home nor abroad. You have become
quite misanthropic of late.
[With a touch of sarcasm.] Dear me--have you noticed that?
No one that knows you can help noticing it. And then it seems to me
so sad that you have lost all pleasure in your work.
When I had finished this masterpiece of mine--[Makes a passionate
movement with his hand]--for "The Resurrection Day" is a masterpiece!
Or was one in the beginning. No, it is one still. It must, must,
must be a masterpiece!
[Looks at him in astonishment.] Why, Rubek--all the world knows that.
[Short, repellently.] All the world knows nothing! Understands
Something that isn't there at all, yes. Something that never was in
my mind. Ah yes, that they can all go into ecstasies over! [Growling
to himself.] What is the good of working oneself to death for the mob
and the masses--for "all the world"!
Do you think it is better, then--do you think it is worthy of you, to
do nothing at all but portrait-bust now and then?
[With a sly smile.] They are not exactly portrait-busts that I turn
Yes, indeed they are--for the last two or three years--ever since you
finished your great group and got it out of the house---
All the same, they are no mere portrait-busts, I assure you.
[Decisively.] I alone can see it. And it amuses me unspeakably.--On
the surface I give them the "striking likeness," as they call it, that
they all stand and gape at in astonishment--[Lowers his voice]--but
at bottom they are all respectable, pompous horse-faces, and self-
opinionated donkey-muzzles, and lop-eared, low-browed dog-skulls, and
fatted swine-snouts--and sometimes dull, brutal bull-fronts as well---
[Indifferently.] All the dear domestic animals, in fact.
Simply the dear domestic animals, Maia. All the animals which men have
bedevilled in their own image--and which have bedevilled men in return.
[Empties his champagne-glass and laughs.] And it is these double-faced
works of art that our excellent plutocrats come and order of me. And
pay for in all good faith--and in good round figures too--almost their
weight in gold, as the saying goes.
[Fills his glass.] Come, Rubek! Drink and be happy.
[Passes his hand several times across his forehead and leans back
in his chair.] I am happy, Maia. Really happy--in a way. [Short
silence.] For after all there is a certain happiness in feeling
oneself free and independent on every hand--in having at ones command
everything one can possibly wish for--all outward things, that is to
say. Do you not agree with me, Maia?
Oh yes, I agree. All that is well enough in its way. [Looking at
him.] But do you remember what you promised me the day we came to
an understanding on--on that troublesome point---
[Nods.] --on the subject of our marriage, yes. It was no easy matter
for you, Maia.
[Continuing unruffled.] --and agreed that I was to go abroad with
you, and live there for good and all--and enjoy myself.--Do you
remember what you promised me that day?
[Shaking his head.] No, I can't say that I do. Well, what did I
You said you would take me up to a high mountain and show me all the
glory of the world.
[With a slight start.] Did I promise you that, too?
[Simultaneously.] Was the professor really not dreaming?
[Suddenly whispering, as he directs their attention towards the
background on the right.] Hush, if you please! Look there--don't
speak loud for a moment.
[A slender lady, dressed in fine, cream-white cashmere, and
followed by a SISTER OF MERCY in black, with a silver cross
hanging by a chain on her breast, comes forward from behind
the hotel and crosses the park towards the pavilion in front
on the left. Her face is pale, and its lines seem to have
stiffened; the eyelids are drooped and the eyes appear as
though they saw nothing. Her dress comes down to her feet
and clings to the body in perpendicular folds. Over her head,
neck, breast, shoulders and arms she wears a large shawl of
white crape. She keeps her arms crossed upon her breast.
She carries her body immovably, and her steps are stiff and
measured. The SISTER's bearing is also measured, and she has
the air of a servant. She keeps her brown piercing eyes
incessantly fixed upon the lady. WAITERS, with napkins on
their arms, come forward in the hotel doorway, and cast
curious glances at the strangers, who take no notice of
anything, and, without looking round, enter the pavilion.
[Has risen slowly and involuntarily, and stands staring at the closed
door of the pavilion.] Who was that lady?
She is a stranger who has rented the little pavilion there.
Thoroughly good Norwegian--perhaps with a little north-country accent.
[Gazing straight before him in amazement, whispers.] That too?
[A little hurt and jarred.] Perhaps this lady has been one of your
models, Rubek? Search your memory.
[Looks cuttingly at her.] My models?
[With a provoking smile.] In your younger days, I mean. You are said
to have had innumerable models--long ago, of course.
[In the same tone.] Oh no, little Frau Maia. I have in reality had
only one single model. One and only one--for everything I have done.
[Who has turned away and stands looking out to the left.] If you'll
excuse me, I think I will take my leave. I see some one coming whom
it is not particularly agreeable to meet. Especially in the presence
[Looking in the same direction.] That sportsman there? Who is it?
It is a certain Mr. Ulfheim, from---
Very slightly, however. Is he on your list of patients--at last?
No, strangely enough--not as yet. He comes here only once a year--on
his way up to his hunting-grounds.--Excuse me for the moment---
[Makes a movement to go into the hotel.
[Heard outside.] Stop a moment, man! Devil take it all, can't you
stop? Why do you always scuttle away from me?
[Stops.] I am not scuttling at all, Mr. Ulfheim.
[ULFHEIM enters from the left followed by a servant with a
couple of sporting dogs in leash. ULFHEIM is in shooting
costume, with high boots and a felt hat with a feather in
it. He is a long, lank, sinewy personage, with matted hair
and beard, and a loud voice. His appearance gives no precise
clue to his age, but he is no longer young.]
[Pounces upon the INSPECTOR.] Is this a way to receive strangers,
hey? You scamper away with your tail between your legs--as if you
had the devil at your heels.
[Calmly, without answering him.] Has Mr. Ulfheim arrived by the
[Growls.] Haven't had the honour of seeing any steamer. [With his arms
akimbo.] Don't you know that I sail my own cutter? [To the SERVANT.]
Look well after your fellow-creatures, Lars. But take care you keep
them ravenous, all the same. Fresh meat-bones--but not too much meat
on them, do you hear? And be sure it's reeking raw, and bloody. And
get something in your own belly while you're about it. [Aiming a kick
at him.] Now then, go to hell with you!
[The SERVANT goes out with the dogs, behind the corner of the
Would not Mr. Ulfheim like to go into the dining-room in the meantime?
In among all the half-dead flies and people? No, thank you a thousand
times, Mr. Inspector.
But get the housekeeper to prepare a hamper for me as usual. There
must be plenty of provender in it--and lots of brandy--! You can
tell her that I or Lars will come and play Old Harry with her if
[Interrupting.] We know your ways of old. [Turning.] Can I give
the waiter any orders, Professor? Can I send Mrs. Rubek anything?
[Looks with interest at ULFHEIM.] Are you really and truly a bear-
[Seating himself at the next table, nearer the hotel.] A bear-hunter
when I have the chance, madam. But I make the best of any sort of
game that comes in my way--eagles, and wolves, and women, and elks,
and reindeer--if only it's fresh and juicy and has plenty of blood
[Drinks from his pocket-flask.
[Regarding him fixedly.] But you like bear-hunting best?
I like it best, yes. For then one can have the knife handy at a pinch.
[With a slight smile.] We both work in a hard material, madam--both
your husband and I. He struggles with his marble blocks, I daresay;
and I struggle with tense and quivering bear-sinews. And we both
of us win the fight in the end--subdue and master our material. We
never rest till we've got the upper hand of it, though it fight never
[Deep in thought.] There's a great deal of truth in what you say.
Yes, for I take it the stone has something to fight for too. It is
dead, and determined by no manner of means to let itself be hammered
into life. Just like the bear when you come and prod him up in his
Are you going up into the forests now to hunt?
I am going right up into the high mountain.--I suppose you have never
been in the high mountain, madam?
Well, there's some one on the point of giving up the ghost, then--in
on corner or another.--People that are sickly and rickety should have
the goodness to see about getting themselves buried--the sooner the
Have you ever been ill yourself, Mr. Ulfheim.
Never. If I had, I shouldn't be here.--But my nearest friends--they
have been ill, poor things.
And what did you do for your nearest friends?
I have none nearer. My honest, trusty, absolutely loyal comrades--.
When one of them turns sick and miserable--bang!--and there's my
friend sent packing--to the other world.
[The SISTER OF MERCY comes out of the hotel with a tray on which
is bread and milk. She places it on the table outside the
pavilion, which she enters.
[Laughs scornfully.] That stuff there--is that what you call food for
human beings! Milk and water and soft, clammy bread. Ah, you should
see my comrades feeding. Should you like to see it?
[Smiling across to the PROFESSOR and rising.] Yes, very much.
[Also rising.] Spoken like a woman of spirit, madam! Come with me,
then! They swallow whole great thumping meat-bones--gulp them up and
then gulp them down again. Oh, it's a regular treat to see them.
Come along and I'll show you--and while we're about it, we can talk
over this trip to the mountains---
[He goes out by the corner of the hotel, MAIA following him.
[Almost at the same moment the STRANGE LADY comes out of the
pavilion and seats herself at the table.
[The LADY raises her glass of milk and is about to drink, but
stops and looks across at RUBEK with vacant, expressionless
[Remains sitting at his table and gazes fixedly and earnestly at her.
At last he rises, goes some steps towards her, stops, and says in a
low voice.] I know you quite well, Irene.
[In a toneless voice, setting down her glass.] You can guess who I
[Without answering.] And you recognise me, too, I see.
[Looks compassionately at her.] And what have you found to do, Irene?
[Turning her eyes upon him.] Wait a moment; let me see--. Yes, now I
have it. I have posed on the turntable in variety-shows. Posed as a
naked statue in living pictures. Raked in heaps of money. That was
more than I could do with you; for you had none.--And then I turned
the heads of all sorts of men. That too, was more than I could do
with you, Arnold. You kept yourself better in hand.
[Hastening to pass the subject by.] And then you have married, too?
He was a South American. A distinguished diplomatist. [Looks straight
in front of her with a stony smile.] Him I managed to drive quite out
of his mind; mad--incurably mad; inexorably mad.--It was great sport,
I can tell you--while it was in the doing. I could have laughed within
me all the time--if I had anything within me.
[Rests his hands on the table and looks intently at her.] Some of the
strings of your nature have broken.
[Gently.] Does not that always happen when a young warm-blooded woman
Oh Irene, have done with these wild imaginings--! You are living!
[Rises slowly from her chair and says, quivering.] I was dead for
many years. They came and bound me--laced my arms together behind
my back--. Then they lowered me into a grave-vault, with iron bars
before the loop-hole. And with padded walls--so that no one on the
earth above could hear the grave-shrieks--. But now I am beginning,
in a way, to rise from the dead.
[She seats herself again.]
[After a pause.] In all this, do you hold me guilty?
Yes, you! I exposed myself wholly and unreservedly to your gaze--
[More softly.] And never once did you touch me.
Irene, did you not understand that many a time I was almost beside
myself under the spell of all your loveliness?
[Continuing undisturbed.] And yet--if you had touched me, I think I
should have killed you on the spot. For I had a sharp needle always
upon me--hidden in my hair-- [Strokes her forehead meditatively.]
But after all--after all--that you could---
[Looks impressively at her.] I was an artist, Irene.
An artist first of all. And I was sick with the desire to achieve the
great work of my life. [Losing himself in recollection.] It was to
be called "The Resurrection Day"--figured in the likeness of a young
woman, awakening from the sleep of death---
[Continuing.] It was to be the awakening of the noblest, purest, most
ideal woman the world ever saw. Then I found you. You were what I
required in every respect. And you consented so willingly--so gladly.
You renounced home and kindred--and went with me.
To go with you meant for me the resurrection of my childhood.
That was just why I found in you all that I required--in you and in
no one else. I came to look on you as a thing hallowed, not to be
touched save in adoring thoughts. In those days I was still young,
Irene. And the superstition took hold of me that if I touched you,
if I desired you with my senses, my soul would be profaned, so that
I should be unable to accomplish what I was striving for.--And I
still think there was some truth in that.
[Nods with a touch of scorn.] The work of art first--then the human
You must judge me as you will; but at that time I was utterly dominated
by my great task--and exultantly happy in it.
Thanks and praise be to you, I achieved my great task. I wanted to
embody the pure woman as I saw her awakening on the Resurrection Day.
Not marvelling at anything new and unknown and undivined; but filled
with a sacred joy at finding herself unchanged--she, the woman of earth
--in the higher, freer, happier region--after the long, dreamless sleep
of death. [More softly.] Thus did I fashion her.--I fashioned her in
your image, Irene.
[Laying her hands flat upon the table and leaning against the back of
her chair.] And then you were done with me---
[Struggling with himself, uncertainly.] If we could--oh, if only we
Why can we not do what we will? [Looks at him and whispers beseechingly
with folded hands.] Come, come, Arnold! Oh, come up to me---!
[MAIA enters, glowing with pleasure, from behind the hotel,
and goes quickly up to the table where they were previously
[Still at the corner of the hotel, without looking around.] Oh, you
may say what you please, Rubek, but--[Stops, as she catches sight of
IRENE]--Oh, I beg your pardon--I see you have made an acquaintance.
[Curtly.] Renewed an acquaintance. [Rises.] What was it you wanted
I only wanted to say this: you may do whatever you please, but I am
not going with you on that disgusting steamboat.
Because I want to go up on the mountains and into the forests--that's
what I want. [Coaxingly.] Oh, you must let me do it, Rubek.--I shall
be so good, so good afterwards!
Who is it that has put these ideas into your head?
Why he--that horrid bear-killer. Oh you cannot conceive all the
marvelous things he has to tell about the mountains. And about life
up there! They're ugly, horrid, repulsive, most of the yarns he spins
--for I almost believe he's lying--but wonderfully alluring all the
same. Oh, won't you let me go with him? Only to see if what he says
is true, you understand. May I, Rubek?
Yes, I have not the slightest objection. Off you go to the mountains--
as far and as long as you please. I shall perhaps be going the same
[Quickly.] No, no, no, you needn't do that! Not on my account!
I want to go to the mountains. I have made up my mind to go.
Oh thanks, thanks! May I tell the bear-killer at once?
Tell the bear-killer whatever you please.
Oh thanks, thanks, thanks! [Is about to take his hand; he repels the
movement.] Oh, how dear and good you are to-day, Rubek!
[She runs into the hotel.
[At the same time the door of the pavilion is softly and
noiselessly set ajar. The SISTER OF MERCY stands in the
opening, intently on the watch. No one sees her.
[Decidedly, turning to IRENE.] Shall we meet up there then?
[Rising slowly.] Yes, we shall certainly meet.--I have sought for you
When did you begin to seek for me, Irene?
[With a touch of jesting bitterness.] From the moment I realised
that I had given away to you something rather indispensable, Arnold.
Something one ought never to part with.
[Bowing his head.] Yes, that is bitterly true. You gave me three or
four years of your youth.
More, more than that I gave you--spend-thrift as I then was.
Yes, you were prodigal, Irene. You gave me all your naked loveliness---