Hm--she is a giddy little baggage. Did you see how she
at once started making a fuss of Johan yesterday?
But, my dear Karsten, you know Dina knows nothing
No, but in any case Johan ought to have had sufficient
tact not to pay her any attention. I saw quite well, from his
face, what Vigeland thought of it.
MRS. BERNICK (laying her sewing down on her lap)
you imagine what his objective is in coming here?
Well--I know he has a farm over there, and I fancy he is
not doing particularly well with it; she called attention
yesterday to the fact that they were obliged to travel second
Yes, I am afraid it must be something of that sort.
But to think of her coming with him! She! After the deadly insult
she offered you!
Oh, don't think about that ancient history.
How can I help thinking of it just now? After all,
he is my brother--still, it is not on his account that I am
distressed, but because of all the unpleasantness it would mean
for you. Karsten, I am so dreadfully afraid!
Do not let us have any more of these reminiscences,
please! You don't know how you torture me by raking all that up.
(Walks up and down; then flings his stick away from him.) And to
think of their coming home now--just now, when it is particularly
necessary for me that I should stand well in every respect with
the town and with the Press. Our newspaper men will be sending
paragraphs to the papers in the other towns about here. Whether I
receive them well, or whether I receive them ill, it will all be
discussed and talked over. They will rake up all those old
stories--as you do. In a community like ours--(Throws his gloves
down on the table.) And I have not a soul here to whom I can talk
about it and to whom I can go for support.
No--who is there? And to have them on my shoulders just
at this moment! Without a doubt they will create a scandal in
some way or another--she, in particular. It is simply a calamity
to be connected with such folk in any way!
That's it--go on! "I did not ask them to come home; I did
not write to them; I did not drag them home by the hair of their
heads!" Oh, I know the whole rigmarole by heart.
MRS. BERNICK (bursting into tears)
You need not be so unkind--
Yes, that's right--begin to cry, so that our neighbours
may have that to gossip about too. Do stop being so foolish,
Betty. Go and sit outside; some one may come in here. I don't
suppose you want people to see the lady of the house with red
eyes? It would be a nice thing, wouldn't it, if the story got out
about that--. There, I hear some one in the passage. (A knock is
heard at the door.) Come in! (MRS. BERNICK takes her sewing and
goes out down the garden steps. AUNE comes in from the right.)
Good morning. Well, I suppose you can guess what I want
Mr. Krap told me yesterday that you were not pleased with--
I am displeased with the whole management of the yard,
Aune. The work does not get on as quickly as it ought. The "Palm
Tree" ought to have been under sail long ago. Mr. Vigeland comes
here every day to complain about it; he is a difficult man to
have with one as part owner.
The "Palm Tree" can go to sea the day after tomorrow.
At last. But what about the American ship, the "Indian
Girl," which has been laid up here for five weeks and--
The American ship? I understood that, before everything
else, we were to work our hardest to get your own ship ready.
I gave you no reason to think so. You ought to have
pushed on as fast as possible with the work on the American ship
also; but you have not.
Her bottom is completely rotten, Mr. Bernick; the more we
patch it, the worse it gets.
That is not the reason. Krap has told me the whole
truth. You do not understand how to work the new machines I have
provided--or rather, you will not try to work them.
Mr. Bernick, I am well on in the fifties; and ever since I
was a boy I have been accustomed to the old way of working--
We cannot work that way now-a-days. You must not
imagine, Aune, that it is for the sake of making profit; I do not
need that, fortunately; but I owe consideration to the community
I live in, and to the business I am at the head of. I must take
the lead in progress, or there would never be any.
Yes, for your own limited circle--for the working class.
Oh, I know what a busy agitator you are; you make speeches, you
stir people up; but when some concrete instance of progress
presents itself--as now, in the case of our machines--you do not
want to have anything to do with it; you are afraid.
Yes, I really am afraid, Mr. Bernick. I am afraid for the
number of men who will have the bread taken out of their mouths
by these machines. You are very fond, sir, of talking about the
consideration we owe to the community; it seems to me, however,
that the community has its duties too. Why should science and
capital venture to introduce these new discoveries into labour,
before the community has had time to educate a generation up to
You read and think too much, Aune; it does you no good,
and that is what makes you dissatisfied with your lot.
It is not, Mr. Bernick; but I cannot bear to see one good
workman dismissed after another, to starve because of these
Hm! When the art of printing was discovered, many a
quill-driver was reduced to starvation.
Would you have admired the art so greatly if you had been a
quill-driver in those days, sir?
I did not send for you to argue with you. I sent for you
to tell you that the "Indian Girl" must be ready to put to sea
the day after tomorrow.
The day after tomorrow, do you hear?--at the same time
as our own ship, not an hour later. I have good reasons for
hurrying on the work. Have you seen today's paper? Well, then
you know the pranks these American sailors have been up to again.
The rascally pack are turning the whole town upside down. Not a
night passes without some brawling in the taverns or the streets-
-not to speak of other abominations.
And who is it that has to bear the blame for all this
disorder? It is I! Yes, it is I who have to suffer for it. These
newspaper fellows are making all sorts of covert insinuations
because we are devoting all our energies to the "Palm Tree." I,
whose task in life it is to influence my fellow-citizens by the
force of example, have to endure this sort of thing cast in my
face. I am not going to stand that. I have no fancy for having my
good name smirched in that way.
Your name stands high enough to endure that and a great
deal more, sir.
Not just now. At this particular moment I have need of
all the respect and goodwill my fellow-citizens can give me. I
have a big undertaking on, the stocks, as you probably have
heard; but, if it should happen that evil-disposed persons
succeeded in shaking the absolute confidence I enjoy, it might
land me in the greatest difficulties. That is why I want, at any
price, to avoid these shameful innuendoes in the papers, and that
is why I name the day after tomorrow as the limit of the time I
can give you.
Mr. Bernick, you might just as well name this afternoon as
You mean that I am asking an impossibility?
You are asking what is impossible, Mr. Bernick.
Oh, where there's a will there's a way. Yes or no; give
me a decisive answer, or consider yourself discharged on the
AUNE(coming a step nearer to him)
Mr. Bernick, have you ever
realised what discharging an old workman means? You think he can
look about for another job? Oh, yes, he can do that; but does
that dispose of the matter? You should just be there once, in the
house of a workman who has been discharged, the evening he comes
home bringing all his tools with him.
Do you think I am discharging you with a light heart?
Have I not always been a good master to you?
So much the worse, Mr. Bernick. Just for that very reason
those at home will not blame you; they will say nothing to me,
because they dare not; but they will look at me when I am not
noticing, and think that I must have deserved it. You see, sir,
that is--that is what I cannot bear. I am a mere nobody, I know;
but I have always been accustomed to stand first in my own home.
My humble home is a little community too, Mr. Bernick--a little
community which I have been able to support and maintain because
my wife has believed in me and because my children have believed
in me. And now it is all to fall to pieces.
Still, if there is nothing else for it, the lesser must
go down before the greater; the individual must be sacrificed to
the general welfare. I can give you no other answer; and that,
and no other, is the way of the world. You are an obstinate man,
Aune! You are opposing me, not because you cannot do otherwise,
but because you will not exhibit 'the superiority of machinery
over manual labour'.
And you will not be moved, Mr. Bernick, because you know
that if you drive me away you will at all events have given the
newspapers proof of your good will.
And suppose that were so? I have told you what it means
for me--either bringing the Press down on my back, or making them
well-disposed to me at a moment when I am working for an objective
which will mean the advancement of the general welfare. Well,
then, can I do otherwise than as I am doing? The question, let me
tell you, turns upon this--whether your home is to be supported,
as you put it, or whether hundreds of new homes are to be
prevented from existing--hundreds of homes that will never be
built, never have a fire lighted on their hearth, unless I
succeed in carrying through the scheme I am working for now. That
is the reason why I have given you your choice.
Well, if that is the way things stand, I have nothing more
Hm--my dear Aune, I am extremely grieved to think that
we are to part.
HILMAR(coming into the room)
Why, that our two friends from
America are displaying themselves about the streets in the
company of Dina Dorf.
MRS. BERNICK (coming in after him)
Hilmar, is it possible?
Yes, unfortunately, it is quite true. Lona was even so
wanting in tact as to call after me, but of course I appeared not
to have heard her.
And no doubt all this has not been unnoticed.
You may well say that. People stood still and looked at
them. It spread like wildfire through the town--just like a
prairie fire out West. In every house people were at the windows
waiting for the procession to pass, cheek by jowl behind the
curtains--ugh! Oh, you must excuse me, Betty, for saying "ugh"--
this has got on my nerves. If it is going on, I shall be forced
to think about getting right away from here.
But you should have spoken to him and represented
to him that--
In the open street? No, excuse me, I could not do that.
To think that the fellow should dare to show himself in the town
at all! Well, we shall see if the Press doesn't put a stopper on
him; yes--forgive me, Betty, but--
The Press, do you say? Have you heard a hint of anything
of the sort?
There are such things flying about. When I left here
yesterday evening I looked in at the club, because I did not feel
well. I saw at once, from the sudden silence that fell when I
went in, that our American couple had been the subject of
conversation. Then that impudent newspaper fellow, Hammer, came
in and congratulated me at the top of his voice on the return of
my rich cousin.
Those were his words. Naturally I looked him up and down
in the manner he deserved, and gave him to understand that I knew
nothing about Johan Tonnesen's being rich. "Really," he said,
"that is very remarkable. People usually get on in America when
they have something to start with, and I believe your cousin did
not go over there quite empty-handed."
MRS. BERNICK (distressed)
There, you see, Karsten!
Anyhow, I have spent a sleepless night because of them.
And here he is, walking about the streets as if nothing were the
matter. Why couldn't he disappear for good and all? It really is
insufferable how hard some people are to kill.
My dear Hilmar, what are you saying P
Oh, nothing. But here this fellow escapes with a whole
skin from railway accidents and fights with California grizzlies
and Blackfoot Indians--has not even been scalped--. Ugh, here
BERNICK(looking down the street)
Olaf is with them too!
Of course! They want to remind everybody that they belong
to the best family in the town. Look there!--look at the crowd of
loafers that have come out of the chemist's to stare at them and
make remarks. My nerves really won't stand it; how a man is to be
expected to keep the banner of the Ideal flying under such
They are coming here. Listen, Betty; it is my particular
wish that you should receive them in the friendliest possible
Certainly, certainly--and you too, Hilmar. It is to be
hoped they will not stay here very long; and when we are quite by
ourselves--no allusions to the past; we must not hurt their
feelings in any way.
"The gift of Karsten Bernick," as it says over the gateway.
You seem to be responsible for the whole place here.
Splendid ships you have got, too. I met my old
schoolfellow, the captain of the "Palm Tree."
And you have built a new school-house too; and I hear that
the town has to thank you for both the gas supply and the water
Well, one ought to work for the good of the community
one lives in.
That is an excellent sentiment, brother-in-law, but it is a
pleasure, all the same, to see how people appreciate you. I am
not vain, I hope; but I could not resist reminding one or two of
the people we talked to that we were relations of yours.
Ah, yes, we met a couple of members of your Morality
Society up at the market; they made out they were very busy. You
and I have never had an opportunity for a good talk yet.
Yesterday you had your three pioneers here, as well as the parson.
Well, I can tell you I am precious proud of him. Goodness
knows it is about the only thing I have done in my life; but it
does give me a sort of right to exist. When I think, Johan, how
we two began over there with nothing but our four bare fists.
Oh, do not take any notice of him; his nerves are rather
upset just now. Would you not like to take a look at the garden?
You have not been down there yet, and I have got an hour to
With pleasure. I can tell you my thoughts have been with
you in this garden many and many a time.
We have made a great many alterations there too, as
you will see. (BERNICK, MRS. BERNICK, and LONA go down to the
garden, where they are visible every now and then during the
OLAF(coming to the verandah door)
Uncle Hilmar, do you know
what uncle Johan asked me? He asked me if I would go to America
You, you duffer, who are tied to your mother's apron
Ah, but I won't be that any longer. You will see, when I
Oh, fiddlesticks! You have no really serious bent towards
the strength of character necessary to--.
(They go down to the garden. DINA meanwhile has taken off her hat
and is standing at the door on the right, shaking the dust off
Because in that case I should get on if I went there.
You would, for certain!--and that is why you must come
back with us.
No, I don't want to go with you; I must go alone. Oh, I
would make something of my life; I would get on--
Bernick (speaking to LONA and his wife at the foot of the garden
steps): Wait a moment--I will fetch it, Betty dear; you might so
easily catch cold. (Comes into the room and looks for his wife's
MRS. BERNICK (from outside)
You must come out too, Johan; we are
going down to the grotto.
No, I want Johan to stay here. Look here, Dina; you take
my wife's shawl and go with them. Johan is going to stay here
with me, Betty dear. I want to hear how he is getting on over
Very well--then you will follow us; you know where
you will find us. (MRS. BERNICK, LONA and DINA go out through the
garden, to the left. BERNICK looks after them for a moment, then
goes to the farther door on the left and locks it, after which he
goes up to JOHAN, grasps both his hands, and shakes them warmly.)
Johan, now that we are alone, you must let me thank you.
My home and all the happiness that it means to me--my
position here as a citizen--all these I owe to you.
Well, I am glad of it, Karsten; some good came of that mad
story after all, then.
BERNICK(grasping his hands again)
But still you must let me
thank you! Not one in ten thousand would have done what you did
Rubbish! Weren't we, both of us, young and thoughtless?
One of us had to take the blame, you know.
But surely the guilty one was the proper one to do that?
Stop! At the moment the innocent one happened to be the
proper one to do it. Remember, I had no ties--I was an orphan; it
was a lucky chance to get free from the drudgery of the office.
You, on the other hand, had your old mother still alive; and,
besides that, you had just become secretly engaged to Betty, who
was devoted to you. What would have happened between you and her
if it had come to her ears?
And wasn't it just for Betty's sake that you broke off
your acquaintance with Mrs. Dorf? Why, it was merely in order to
put an end to the whole thing that you were up there with her
Yes, that unfortunate evening when that drunken creature
came home! Yes, Johan, it was for Betty's sake; but, all the
same, it was splendid of you to let all the appearances go
against you, and to go away.
Put your scruples to rest, my dear Karsten. We agreed that
it should be so; you had to be saved, and you were my friend. I
can tell you, I was uncommonly proud of that friendship. Here was
I, drudging away like a miserable stick-in-the-mud, when you came
back from your grand tour abroad, a great swell who had been to
London and to Paris; and you chose me for your chum, although I
was four years younger than you--it is true it was because you
were courting Betty, I understand that now--but I was proud of
it! Who would not have been? Who would not willingly have
sacrificed himself for you?--especially as it only meant a
month's talk in the town, and enabled me to get away into the
Ah, my dear Johan, I must be candid and tell you that
the story is not so completely forgotten yet.
Isn't it? Well, what does that matter to me, once I am
back over there on my farm again?
Well, you see, Lona is no longer young, and lately she
began to be obsessed with home-sickness; but she never would
admit it. (Smiles.) How could she venture to risk leaving such a
flighty fellow as me alone, who before I was nineteen had been
mixed up in...
Well, Karsten, now I am coming to a confession that I am
ashamed to make.
You surely haven't confided the truth to her?
Yes. It was wrong of me, but I could not do otherwise. You
can have no conception what Lona has been to me. You never could
put up with her; but she has been like a mother to me. The first
year we were out there, when things went so badly with us, you
have no idea how she worked! And when I was ill for a long time,
and could earn nothing and could not prevent her, she took to
singing ballads in taverns, and gave lectures that people laughed
at; and then she wrote a book that she has both laughed and cried
over since then--all to keep the life in me. Could I look on when
in the winter she, who had toiled and drudged for me, began to
pine away? No, Karsten, I couldn't. And so I said, "You go home
for a trip, Lona; don't be afraid for me, I am not so flighty as
you think." And so--the end of it was that she had to know.
Well, she thought, as was true, that as I knew I was
innocent nothing need prevent me from taking a trip over here
with her. But make your mind easy; Lona will let nothing out, and
I shall keep my mouth shut as I did before.
Here is my hand on it. And now we will say no more about
that old story; luckily it is the only mad prank either of us has
been guilty of, I am sure. I want thoroughly to enjoy the few
days I shall stay here. You cannot think what a delightful walk
we had this morning. Who would have believed that that little
imp, who used to run about here and play angels' parts on the
stage--! But tell me, my dear fellow, what became of her parents
Oh, my boy, I can tell you no more than I wrote to you
immediately after you went away. I suppose you got my two
Yes, yes, I have them both. So that drunken fellow
She was proud; she betrayed nothing, and would accept
Well, at all events you did the right thing by taking Dina
into your house.
I suppose so. As a matter of fact it was Martha that
brought that about.
So it was Martha? By the way, where is she today?
She? Oh, when she hasn't her school to look after, she
has her sick people to see to.
So it was Martha who interested herself in her.
Yes, you know Martha has always had a certain liking for
teaching; so she took a post in the boarding-school. It was very
ridiculous of her.
I thought she looked very worn yesterday; I should be
afraid her health was not good enough for it.
Oh, as far as her health goes, it is all right enough.
But it is unpleasant for me; it looks as though I, her brother,
were not willing to support her.
Support her? I thought she had means enough of her own.
Not a penny. Surely you remember how badly off our
mother was when you went away? She carried things on for a time
with my assistance, but naturally I could not put up with that
state of affairs permanently. I made her take me into the firm,
but even then things did not go well. So I had to take over the
whole business myself, and when we made up our balance-sheet, it
became evident that there was practically nothing left as my
mother's share. And when mother died soon afterwards, of course
Martha was left penniless.
Poor! Why? You surely do not suppose I let her want for
anything? No, I venture to say I am a good brother. Of course she
has a home here with us; her salary as a teacher is more than
enough for her to dress on; what more could she want?
Hm--that is not our idea of things in America.
No, I dare say not--in such a revolutionary state of
society as you find there. But in our small circle--in which,
thank God, depravity has not gained a footing, up to now at all
events--women are content to occupy a seemly, as well as modest,
position. Moreover, it is Martha's own fault; I mean, she might
have been provided for long ago, if she had wished.
Oh, I am not blaming her for that. I most certainly
would not wish her otherwise. I can tell you it is always a good
thing to have a steady-going person like that in a big house like
this--some one you can rely on in any contingency.
She? How? Oh well, of course she has plenty to interest
herself in; she has Betty and Olaf and me. People should not
think first of themselves--women least of all. We have all got
some community, great or small, to work for. That is my
principle, at all events. (Points to KRAP, who has come in from
the right.) Ah, here is an example of it, ready to hand. Do you
suppose that it is my own affairs that are absorbing me just now?
By no means. (Eagerly to KRAP.) Well?
KRAP(in an undertone, showing him a bundle of papers)
all the sale contracts, completed.
Capital! Splendid!--Well, Johan, you must really excuse
me for the present. (In a low voice, grasping his hand.) Thanks,
Johan, thanks! And rest assured that anything I can do for you--
Well, of course you understand. Come along, Krap. (They go into
JOHAN(looking after them for a moment)
Hm!-- (Turns to go down
to the garden. At the same moment MARTHA comes in from the right,
with a little basket over her arm.) Martha!
Has he never--oh, of course, I mean has he never so much
as said a word in my defence?
Ah, Johan, you know Karsten's high principles.
Hm--! Oh, of course; I know my old friend Karsten's high
principles! But really this is--. Well, well. I was having a talk
with him just now. He seems to me to have altered considerably.
How can you say that? I am sure Karsten has always been
an excellent man.
Yes, that was not exactly what I meant--but never mind.
Hm! Now I understand the light you have seen me in; it was the
return of the prodigal that you were waiting for.
Johan, I will tell you what light I have seen you in.
(Points down to the garden.) Do you see that girl playing on the
grass down there with Olaf? That is Dina. Do you remember that
incoherent letter you wrote me when you went away? You asked me
to believe in you. I have believed in you, Johan. All the
horrible things that were rumoured about you after you had gone
must have been done through being led astray--from
thoughtlessness, without premeditation.
Oh! you understand me well enough--not a word more of
that. But of course you had to go away and begin afresh--a new
life. Your duties here which you never remembered to undertake--
or never were able to undertake--I have undertaken for you. I
tell you this, so that you shall not have that also to reproach
yourself with. I have been a mother to that much-wronged child; I
have brought her up as well as I was able.
And have wasted your whole life for that reason.
It has not been wasted. But you have come late, Johan.
Martha--if only I could tell you--. Well, at all events
let me thank you for your loyal friendship.
MARTHA(with a sad smile)
Hm.--Well, we have had it out now,
Johan. Hush, some one is coming. Goodbye, I can't stay now. (Goes
out through the farther door on the left. LONA comes in from the
garden, followed by MRS. BERNICK.)
But good gracious, Lona--what are you thinking of?
Let me be, I tell you! I must and will speak to him.
But it would be a scandal of the worst sort! Ah,
Out with you, my boy; don't stay here in doors; go down
into the garden and have a chat with Dina.
I have the audacity to say that Karsten is not any more
particularly moral than anybody else.
So you still hate him as deeply as that! But what
are you doing here, if you have never been able to forget that? I
cannot understand how you, dare look him in the face after the
shameful insult you put upon him in the old days.
Yes, Betty, that time I did forget myself badly.
And to think how magnanimously he has forgiven
you--he, who had never done any wrong! It was not his fault that
you encouraged yourself with hopes. But since then you have
always hated me too. (Bursts into tears.) You have always begrudged
me my good fortune. And now you come here to heap all this on my
head--to let the whole town know what sort of a family I have
brought Karsten into. Yes, it is me that it all falls upon, and
that is what you want. Oh, it is abominable of you! (Goes out by
the door on the left, in tears.)
LONA(looking after her)
Poor Betty! (BERNICK comes in from his
room. He stops at the door to speak to KRAP.)
Yes, that is excellent, Krap--capital! Send twenty pounds
to the fund for dinners to the poor. (Turns round.) Lona! (Comes
forward.) Are you alone? Is Betty not coming in?
No, no--not at all. Oh, Lona, you don't know how anxious
I have been to speak openly to you--after having begged for your
Look here, Karsten--do not let us be sentimental; it
doesn't suit us.
You must listen to me, Lona. I know only too well how
much appearances are against me, as you have learnt all about
that affair with Dina's mother. But I swear to you that it was
only a temporary infatuation; I was really, truly and honestly,
in love with you once.
Whatever you have in your mind, I entreat, you to do
nothing until I have exculpated myself. I can do that, Lona; at
all events I can excuse myself.
Now you are frightened. You once were in love with me, you
say. Yes, you told me that often enough in your letters; and
perhaps it was true, too--in a way--as long as you were living
out in the great, free world which gave you the courage to think
freely and greatly. Perhaps you found in me a little more
character and strength of will and independence than in most of
the folk at home here. And then we kept it secret between us;
nobody could make fun of your bad taste.
But when you came back--when you heard the gibes that were
made at me on all sides--when you noticed how people laughed at
what they called my absurdities...
You were regardless of people's opinion at that time.
Chiefly to annoy the petticoated and trousered prudes that
one met at every turn in the town. And then, when you met that
seductive young actress--
It was a boyish escapade--nothing more; I swear to you
that there was no truth in a tenth part of the rumours and gossip
that went about.
Maybe. But then, when Betty came home--a pretty young girl,
idolised by every one--and it became known that she would inherit
all her aunt's money and that I would have nothing!
That is just the point, Lona; and now you shall have the
truth without any beating about the bush. I did not love Betty
then; I did not break off my engagement with you because of any
new attachment. It was entirely for the sake of the money. I
needed it; I had to make sure of it.
Now, by Heaven, I don't regret that I forgot myself as I
did that time--
Let me tell you the plain truth of how things stood with
me then. My mother, as you remember, was at the head of the
business, but she was absolutely without any business ability
whatever. I was hurriedly summoned home from Paris; times were
critical, and they relied on me to set things straight. What did
I find? I found--and you must keep this a profound secret--a
house on the brink of ruin. Yes--as good as on the brink of ruin,
this old respected house which had seen three generations of us.
What else could I--the son, the only son--do than look about for
some means of saving it?
And so you saved the house of Bernick at the cost of a
You know quite well that Betty was in love with me.
Believe me, Lona, you would never have been happy with
Was it out of consideration for my happiness that you
Do you suppose I acted as I did from selfish motives? If
I had stood alone then, I would have begun all over again with
cheerful courage. But you do not understand how the life of a man
of business, with his tremendous responsibilities, is bound up
with that of the business which falls to his inheritance. Do you
realise that the prosperity or the ruin of hundreds--of
thousands--depends on him? Can you not take into consideration
the fact that the whole community in which both you and I were
born would have been affected to the most dangerous extent if the
house of Bernick had gone to smash?
Then is it for the sake of the community that you have
maintained your position these fifteen years upon a lie?
What does Betty know of all this...that underlies her union
Do you suppose that I would hurt her feelings to no
purpose by disclosing the truth?
To no purpose, you say? Well, well--You are a man of
business; you ought to understand what is to the purpose. But
listen to me, Karsten--I am going to speak the plain truth now.
Tell me, are you really happy?
I am, Lona. You have not been a self-sacrificing friend
to me in vain. I can honestly say that I have grown happier every
year. Betty is good and willing; and if I were to tell you how,
in the course of years, she has learned to model her character on
the lines of my own--
Absolutely. As you can imagine, daily intercourse with
me has had no small share in developing her character. Every one,
in their degree, has to learn to lower their own pretensions, if
they are to live worthily of the community to which they belong.
And Betty, in her turn, has gradually learned to understand this;
and that is why our home is now a model to our fellow citizens.
But your fellow citizens know nothing about the lie?
And you will not demand it--out of consideration for
Oh, no--I shall manage to put up with their gibes well
enough; I have broad shoulders.
And Johan will not demand it either; he has promised me
But you yourself, Karsten? Do you feel within yourself no
impulse urging you to shake yourself free of this lie?
Do you suppose that of my own free will I would
sacrifice my family happiness and my position in the world?
What right have you to the position you hold?
Every day during these fifteen years I have earned some
little right to it--by my conduct, and by what I have achieved by
True, you have achieved a great deal by your work, for
yourself as well as for others. You are the richest and most
influential man in the town; nobody in it dares do otherwise than
defer to your will, because you are looked upon as a man without
spot or blemish; your home is regarded as a model home, and your
conduct as a model of conduct. But all this grandeur, and you
with it, is founded on a treacherous morass. A moment may come
and a word may be spoken, when you and all your grandeur will be
engulfed in the morass, if you do not save yourself in time.
Yes, Johan. If any one else accuses me, I shall deny
everything. If any one tries to crush me, I shall fight for my
life. But you will never succeed in that, let me tell you! The
one who could strike me down will say nothing--and is going away.
Bernick, you must. There is an opposition to us on foot.
Hammer, and the rest of those who believe in a line along the
coast, are declaring that private interests are at the back of
the new proposals.
Rorlund. I must put a question to you, Mr. Bernick. Is it with
your consent that the young girl who has found a shelter under
your roof shows herself in the open street in the company of a
If I did not, I should be unworthy to serve a community
of whose morals I have been appointed a guardian, and should be
acting most unjustifiably towards this young girl, in whose
upbringing I have taken a material part, and who is to me--
Yes, it is true. And more than that, this fellow-- whom
you were going to trust-- did not run away from home empty-handed;
ask him about old Mrs. Bernick's cash-box.... Mr. Bernick can bear
witness to that!