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    Act Third

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    Chapter 4
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    MRS. BORKMAN's drawing room. The lamp is still burning on the table beside the sofa in front. The garden-room at the back is quite dark.

    MRS. BORKMAN, with the shawl still over her head, enters, in violent agitation, by the hall door, goes up to the window, draws the curtain a little aside, and looks out; then she seats herself beside the stove, but immediately springs up again, goes to the bell-pull and rings. Stands beside the sofa, and waits a moment. No one comes. Then she rings again, this time more violently.

    THE MAID presently enters from the hall. She looks sleepy and out of temper, and appears to have dressed in great haste.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Impatiently.] What has become of you, Malena? I have rung for you twice!

    THE MAID. Yes, ma'am, I heard you.

    MRS. BORKMAN. And yet you didn't come?

    THE MAID. [Sulkily.] I had to put some clothes on first, I suppose.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, you must dress yourself properly, and then you must run and fetch my son.

    THE MAID. [Looking at her in astonishment.] You want me to fetch Mr. Erhart?

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes; tell him he must come home to me at once; I want to speak to him.

    THE MAID. [Grumbling.] Then I'd better go to the bailiff's and call up the coachman.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Why?

    THE MAID. To get him to harness the sledge. The snow's dreadful to-night.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Oh, that doesn't matter; only make haste and go. It's just round the corner.

    THE MAID. Why, ma'am you can't call that just round the corner!

    MRS. BORKMAN. Of course it is. Don't you know Mr. Hinkel's villa?

    THE MAID. [With malice.] Oh, indeed! It's there Mr. Erhart is this evening?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Taken aback.] Why, where else should he be?

    THE MAID. [With a slight smile.] Well, I only thought he might be where he usually is.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Where do you mean?

    THE MAID. At Mrs. Wilton's, as they call her.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Mrs. Wilton's? My son isn't so often there.

    THE MAID. [Half muttering.] I've heard say as he's there every day of his life.

    MRS. BORKMAN. That's all nonsense, Malena. Go straight to Mr. Hinkel's and try to to get hold of him.

    THE MAID. [With a toss of her head.] Oh, very well; I'm going.

    [She is on the point of going out by the hall, but just at that moment the hall door is opened, and ELLA RENTHEIM and BORKMAN appear on the threshold.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Staggers a step backwards.] What does this mean?

    THE MAID. [Terrified, instinctively folding her hands.] Lord save us!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Whispers to THE MAID.] Tell him he must come this instant.

    THE MAID. [Softly.] Yes, ma'am.

    [ELLA RENTHEIM and, after her, BORKMAN enter the room. THE MAID sidles behind them to the door, goes out, and closes it after her.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Having recovered her self-control, turns to ELLA.] What does he want down here in my room?

    ELLA RENTHEIM. He wants to come to an understanding with you, Gunhild.

    MRS. BORKMAN. He has never tried that before.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. He is going to, this evening.

    MRS. BORKMAN. The last time we stood face to face--it was in the Court, when I was summoned to give an account----

    BORKMAN. [Approaching.] And this evening it is I who will give an account of myself.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking at him.] You?

    BORKMAN. Not of what I have done amiss. All the world knows that.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a bitter sigh.] Yes, that is true; all the world knows that.

    BORKMAN. But it does not know why I did it; why I had to do it. People do not understand that I had to, because I was myself--because I was John Gabriel Borkman--myself, and not another. And that is what I will try to explain to you.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Shaking her head.] It is of no use. Temptations and promptings acquit no one.

    BORKMAN. They may acquit one in one's own eyes.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a gesture of repulsion.] Oh, let all that alone! I have thought over that black business of yours enough and to spare.

    BORKMAN. I too. During those five endless years in my cell--and elsewhere--I had time to think it over. And during the eight years up there in the gallery I have had still more ample time. I have re-tried the whole case--by myself. Time after time I have re-tried it. I have been my own accuser, my own defender, and my own judge. I have been more impartial than any one else could be--that I venture to say. I have paced up and down the gallery there, turning every one of my actions upside down and inside out. I have examined them from all sides as unsparingly, as pitilessly, as any lawyer of them all. And the final judgment I have always come to is this: the one person I have sinned against is--myself.

    MRS. BORKMAN. And what about me? What about your son?

    BORKMAN. You and he are included in what I mean when I say myself.

    MRS. BORKMAN. And what about the hundreds of others, then--the people you are said to have ruined?

    BORKMAN. [More vehemently.] I had power in my hands! And then I felt the irresistible vocation within me! The prisoned millions lay all over the country, deep in the bowels of the earth, calling aloud to me! They shrieked to me to free them! But no one else heard their cry--I alone had ears for it.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, to the branding of the name of Borkman.

    BORKMAN. If the others had had the power, do you think they would not have acted exactly as I did?

    MRS. BORKMAN. No one, no one but you would have done it!

    BORKMAN. Perhaps not. But that would have been because they had not my brains. And if they had done it, it would not have been with my aims in view. The act would have been a different act. In short, I have acquitted myself.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Softly and appealingly.] Oh, can you say that so confidently, Borkman?

    BORKMAN. [Nodding.] Acquitted myself on that score. But then comes the great, crushing self-accusation.

    MRS. BORKMAN. What is that?

    BORKMAN. I have skulked up there and wasted eight precious years of my life! The very day I was set free, I should have gone forth into the world--out into the steel-hard, dreamless world of reality! I should have begun at the bottom and swung myself up to the heights anew--higher than ever before--in spite of all that lay between.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Oh, it would have been the same thing over again; take my word for that.

    BORKMAN. [Shakes his head, and looks at her with a sententious air.] It is true that nothing new happens; but what has happened does not repeat itself either. It is the eye that transforms the action. The eye, born anew, transforms the old action. [Breaking off.] But you do not understand this.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Curtly.] No, I do not understand it.

    BORKMAN. Ah, that is just the curse--I have never found one single soul to understand me.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Looking at him.] Never, Borkman?

    BORKMAN. Except one--perhaps. Long, long ago. In the days when I did not think I needed understanding. Since then, at any rate, no one has understood me! There has been no one alive enough to my needs to be afoot and rouse me--to ring the morning bell for me--to call me up to manful work anew. And to impress upon me that I had done nothing inexpiable.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a scornful laugh.] So, after all, you require to have that impressed on you from without?

    BORKMAN. [With increasing indignation.] Yes, when the whole world hisses in chorus that I have sunk never to rise again, there come moments when I almost believe it myself. [Raising his head.] But then my inmost assurance rises again triumphant; and that acquits me.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking harshly at him.] Why have you never come and asked me for what you call understanding?

    BORKMAN. What use would it have been to come to you?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a gesture of repulsion.] You have never loved anything outside yourself; that is the secret of the whole matter.

    BORKMAN. [Proudly.] I have loved power.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, power!

    BORKMAN. The power to create human happiness in wide, wide circles around me!

    MRS. BORKMAN. You had once the power to make me happy. Have you used it to that end?

    BORKMAN. [Without looking at her.] Some one must generally go down in a shipwreck.

    MRS. BORKMAN. And your own son! Have you used your power--have you lived and laboured--to make him happy?

    BORKMAN. I do not know him.

    MRS. BORKMAN. No, that is true. You do not even know him.

    BORKMAN. [Harshly.] You, his mother, have taken care of that!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking at him with a lofty air.] Oh, you do not know what I have taken care of!

    BORKMAN. You?

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, I. I alone.

    BORKMAN. Then tell me.

    MRS. BORKMAN. I have taken care of your memory.

    BORKMAN. [With a short dry laugh.] My memory? Oh, indeed! It sounds almost as if I were dead already.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With emphasis.] And so you are.

    BORKMAN. [Slowly.] Yes, perhaps you are right. [Firing up.] But no, no! Not yet! I have been close to the verge of death. But now I have awakened. I have come to myself. A whole life lies before me yet. I can see it awaiting me, radiant and quickening. And you--you shall see it too.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Raising her hand.] Never dream of life again! Lie quiet where you are.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Shocked.] Gunhild! Gunhild, how can you----!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Not listening to her.] I will raise the monument over your grave.

    BORKMAN. The pillar of shame, I suppose you mean?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With increasing excitement.] Oh, no, it shall be no pillar of metal or stone. And no one shall be suffered to carve any scornful legend on the monument I shall raise. There shall be, as it were, a quickset hedge of trees and bushes, close, close around your tomb. They shall hide away all the darkness that has been. The eyes of men and the thoughts of men shall no longer dwell on John Gabriel Borkman!

    BORKMAN. [Hoarsely and cuttingly.] And this labour of love you will perform?

    MRS. BORKMAN. Not by my own strength. I cannot think of that. But I have brought up one to help me, who shall live for this alone. His life shall be so pure and high and bright, that your burrowing in the dark shall be as though it had never been!

    BORKMAN. [Darkly and threateningly.] If it is Erhart you mean, say so at once!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking him straight in the eyes.] Yes, it is Erhart; my son; he whom you are ready to renounce in atonement for your own acts.

    BORKMAN. [With a look towards ELLA.] In atonement for my blackest sin.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Repelling the idea.] A sin towards a stranger only. Remember the sin towards me! [Looking triumphantly at them both.] But he will not obey you! When I cry out to him in my need, he will come to me! It is with me that he will remain! With me, and never with any one else. [Suddenly listens, and cries.] I hear him! He is here, he is here! Erhart!

    [ERHART BORKMAN hastily tears open the hall door, and enters the room. He is wearing an overcoat and has his hat on.

    ERHART. [Pale and anxious.] Mother! What in Heaven's name----! [Seeing BORKMAN, who is standing beside the doorway leading into the garden-room, he starts and takes off his hat. After a moment's silence, he asks:] What do you want with me, mother? What has happened?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Stretching her arms towards him.] I want to see you, Erhart! I want to have you with me, always!

    ERHART. [Stammering.] Have me----? Always? What do you mean by that?

    MRS. BORKMAN. I will have you, I say! There is some one who wants to take you away from me!

    ERHART. [Recoiling a step.] Ah--so you know?

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes. Do you know it, too?

    ERHART. [Surprised, looking at her.] Do I know it? Yes, of course.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Aha, so you have planned it all out! Behind my back! Erhart! Erhart!

    ERHART. [Quickly.] Mother, tell me what it is you know!

    MRS. BORKMAN. I know everything. I know that your aunt has come here to take you from me.

    ERHART. Aunt Ella!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Oh, listen to me a moment, Erhart!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Continuing.] She wants me to give you up to her. She wants to stand in your mother's place to you, Erhart! She wants you to be her son, and not mine, from this time forward. She wants you to inherit everything from her; to renounce your own name and take hers instead!

    ERHART. Aunt Ella, is this true?

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Yes, it is true.

    ERHART. I knew nothing of this. Why do you want to have me with you again?

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Because I feel that I am losing you here.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Hardly.] You are losing him to me--yes. And that is just as it should be.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Looking beseechingly at him.] Erhart, I cannot afford to lose you. For, I must tell you I am a lonely--dying woman.

    ERHART. Dying----?

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Yes, dying. Will you came and be with me to the end? Attach yourself wholly to me? Be to me, as though you were my own child----?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Interrupting.] And forsake your mother, and perhaps your mission in life as well? Will you, Erhart?

    ELLA RENTHEIM. I am condemned to death. Answer me, Erhart.

    ERHART. [Warmly, with emotion.] Aunt Ella, you have been unspeakably good to me. With you I grew up in as perfect happiness as any boy can ever have known----

    MRS. BORKMAN. Erhart, Erhart!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Oh, how glad I am that you can still say that!

    ERHART. But I cannot sacrifice myself to you now. It is not possible for me to devote myself wholly to taking a son's place towards you.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Triumphing.] Ah, I knew it! You shall not have him! You shall not have him, Ella!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Sadly.] I see it. You have won him back.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, yes! Mine he is, and mine he shall remain! Erhart, say it is so, dear; we two have still a long way to go together, have we not?

    ERHART. [Struggling with himself.] Mother, I may as well tell you plainly----

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Eagerly.] What?

    ERHART. I am afraid it is only a very little way you and I can go together.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Stands as though thunderstruck.] What do yo mean by that?

    ERHART. [Plucking up spirit.] Good heavens, mother, I am young, after all! I feel as if the close air of this room must stifle me in the end.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Close air? Here--with me?

    ERHART. Yes, here with you, mother.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Then come with me, Erhart.

    ERHART. Oh, Aunt Ella, it's not a whit better with you. It's different, but no better--no better for me. It smells of rose-leaves and lavender there too; it is as airless there as here.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Shaken, but having recovered her composure with an effort.] Airless in your mother's room, you say!

    ERHART. [In growing impatience.] Yes, I don't know how else to express it. All this morbid watchfulness and--and idolisation, or whatever you like to call it---- I can't endure it any longer!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking at him with deep solemnity.] Have you forgotten what you have consecrated your life to, Erhart?

    ERHART. [With an outburst.] Oh, say rather what you have consecrated my life to. You, you have been my will. You have never given me leave to have any of my own. But now I cannot bear this yoke any longer. I am young; remember that, mother. [With a polite, considerate glance towards BORKMAN.] I cannot consecrate my life to making atonement for another--whoever that other may be.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Seized with growing anxiety.] Who is it that has transformed you, Erhart?

    ERHART. [Struck.] Who? Can you not conceive that it is I myself?

    MRS. BORKMAN. No, no, no! You have come under some strange power. You are not in your mother's power any longer; nor in your--your foster-mother's either.

    ERHART. [With laboured defiance.] I am in my own power, mother! And working my own will!

    BORKMAN. [Advancing towards ERHART.] Then perhaps my hour has come at last.

    ERHART. [Distantly and with measured politeness.] How so! How do you mean, sir?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Scornfully.] Yes, you may well ask that.

    BORKMAN. [Continuing undisturbed.] Listen, Erhart--will you not cast in your lot with your father? It is not through any other man's life that a man who has fallen can be raised up again. These are only empty fables that have been told to you down here in the airless room. If you were to set yourself to live your life like all the saints together, it would be of no use whatever to me.

    ERHART. [With measured respectfulness.] That is very true indeed.

    BORKMAN. Yes, it is. And it would be of no use either if I should resign myself to wither away in abject penitence. I have tried to feed myself upon hopes and dreams, all through these years. But I am not the man to be content with that; and now I mean to have done with dreaming.

    ERHART. [With a slight bow.] And what will--what will you do, sir?

    BORKMAN. I will work out my own redemption, that is what I will do. I will begin at the bottom again. It is only through his present and his future that a man can atone for his past. Through work, indefatigable work, for all that, in my youth, seemed to give life its meaning--and that now seems a thousand times greater than it did then. Erhart, will you join with me and help me in this new life?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Raising her hand warningly.] Do not do it, Erhart!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Warmly.] Yes, yes do it! Oh, help him, Erhart!

    MRS. BORKMAN. And you advise him to do that? You, the lonely dying woman.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. I don't care about myself.

    MRS. BORKMAN. No, so long as it is not I that take him from you.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Precisely so, Gunhild.

    BORKMAN. Will you, Erhart?

    ERHART. [Wrung with pain.] Father, I cannot now. It is utterly impossible!

    BORKMAN. What do you want to do then?

    ERHART. [With a sudden glow.] I am young! I want to live, for once in a way, as well as other people! I want to live my own life!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. You cannot give up two or three little months to brighten the close of a poor waning life?

    ERHART. I cannot, Aunt, however much I may wish to.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. Not for the sake of one who loves you so dearly?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking sharply at him.] And your mother has no power over you either, any more?

    ERHART. I will always love you, mother; but I cannot go on living for you alone. This is no life for me.

    BORKMAN. Then come and join with me, after all! For life, life means work, Erhart. Come, we two will go forth into life and work together!

    ERHART. [Passionately.] Yes, but I don't want to work now! For I am young! That's what I never realised before; but now the knowledge is tingling through every vein in my body. I will not work! I will only live, live, live!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a cry of divination.] Erhart, what will you live for?

    ERHART. [With sparkling eyes.] For happiness, mother!

    MRS. BORKMAN. And where do you think you can find that?

    ERHART. I have found it, already!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Shrieks.] Erhart! [ERHART goes quickly to the hall door and throws it open.]

    ERHART. [Calls out.] Fanny, you can come in now!

    [MRS. WILTON, in outdoor wraps, appears on the threshold.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With uplifted hands.] Mrs. Wilton!

    MRS. WILTON. [Hesitating a little, with an enquiring glance at ERHART.] Do you want me to----?

    ERHART. Yes, now you can come in. I have told them everything.

    [MRS. WILTON comes forward into the room. ERHART closes the door behind her. She bows formally to BORKMAN, who returns her bow in silence. A short pause.

    MRS. WILTON. [In a subdued but firm voice.] So the word has been spoken-- and I suppose you all think I have brought a great calamity upon this house?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Slowly, looking hard at her.] You have crushed the last remnant of interest in life for me. [With an outburst.] But all of this--all this is utterly impossible!

    MRS. WILTON. I can quite understand that it must appear impossible to you, Mrs. Borkman.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, you can surely see for yourself that it is impossible. Or what----?

    MRS. WILTON. I should rather say that it seems highly improbable. But it's so, none the less.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Turning.] Are you really in earnest about this, Erhart?

    ERHART. This means happiness for me, mother--all the beauty and happiness of life. That is all I can say to you.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Clenching her hands together; to MRS. WILTON.] Oh, how you have cajoled and deluded my unhappy son!

    MRS. WILTON. [Raising her head proudly.] I have done nothing of the sort.

    MRS. BORKMAN. You have not, say you!

    MRS. WILTON. No. I have neither cajoled nor deluded him. Erhart came to me of his own free will. And of my own free will I went out half-way to meet him.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Measuring her scornfully with her eye.] Yes, indeed! That I can easily believe.

    MRS. WILTON. [With self-control.] Mrs. Borkman, there are forces in human life that you seem to know very little about.

    MRS. BORKMAN. What forces, may I ask?

    MRS. WILTON. The forces which ordain that two people shall join their lives together, indissolubly--and fearlessly.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a smile.] I thought you were already indissolubly bound-- to another.

    MRS. WILTON. [Shortly.] That other has deserted me.

    MRS. BORKMAN. But he is still living, they say.

    MRS. WILTON. He is dead to me.

    ERHART. [Insistently.] Yes, mother, he is dead to Fanny. And besides, this other makes no difference to me!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking sternly at him.] So you know all this--about the other.

    ERHART. Yes, mother, I know quite well--all about it!

    MRS. BORKMAN. And yet you can say that it makes no difference to you?

    ERHART. [With defiant petulance.] I can only tell you that it is happiness I must have! I am young! I want to live, live, live!

    MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, you are young, Erhart. Too young for this.

    MRS. WILTON. [Firmly and earnestly.] You must not think, Mrs. Borkman, that I haven't said the same to him. I have laid my whole life before him. Again and again I have reminded him that I am seven years older than he----

    ERHART. [Interrupting.] Oh, nonsense, Fanny--I knew that all the time.

    MRS. WILTON. But nothing--nothing was of any use.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Indeed? Nothing? Then why did you not dismiss him without more ado? Close your door to him? You should have done that, and done it in time!

    MRS. WILTON. [Looks at her, and says in a low voice.] I could not do that, Mrs. Borkman.

    MRS. BORKMAN. Why could you not?

    MRS. WILTON. Because for me too this meant happiness.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Scornfully.] H'm, happiness, happiness----

    MRS. WILTON. I have never before known happiness in life. And I cannot possibly drive happiness away from me, merely because it comes so late.

    MRS. BORKMAN. And how long do you think this happiness will last?

    ERHART. [Interrupting.] Whether it lasts or does not last, mother, it doesn't matter now!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [In anger.] Blind boy that you are! Do you not see where all this is leading you?

    ERHART. I don't want to look into the future. I don't want to look around me in any direction; I am only determined to live my own life--at last!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With deep pain.] And you call this life, Erhart!

    ERHART. Don't you see how lovely she is!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Wringing her hands.] And I have to bear this load of shame as well!

    BORKMAN. [At the back, harshly and cuttingly.] Ho--you are used to bearing things of that sort, Gunhild!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Imploringly.] Borkman!

    ERHART. [Similarly.] Father!

    MRS. BORKMAN. Day after day I shall have to see my own son linked to a--a----

    ERHART. [Interrupting her harshly.] You shall see nothing of the kind, mother! You may make your mind easy on that point. I shall not remain here.

    MRS. WILTON. [Quickly and with decision.] We are going away, Mrs. Borkman.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Turning pale.] Are you going away, too? Together, no doubt?

    MRS. WILTON. [Nodding.] Yes, I am going abroad, to the south. I am taking a young girl with me. And Erhart is going along with us.

    MRS. BORKMAN. With you--and a young girl?

    MRS. WILTON. Yes. It is little Frida Foldal, whom I have had living with me. I want her to go abroad and get more instruction in music.

    MRS. BORKMAN. So you are taking her with you?

    MRS. WILTON. Yes; I can't well send her out into the world alone.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Suppressing a smile.] What do you say to this, Erhart?

    ERHART. [With some embarrassment, shrugging his shoulders.] Well, mother, since Fanny will have it so----

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Coldly.] And when does this distinguished party set out, if one may ask?

    MRS. WILTON. We are going at once--to-night. My covered sledge is waiting on the road, outside the Hinkels'.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looking her from head to foot.] Aha! so that was what the party meant?

    MRS. WILTON. [Smiling.] Yes, Erhart and I were the whole party. And little Frida, of course.

    MRS. BORKMAN. And where is she now?

    MRS. WILTON. She is sitting in the sledge waiting for us.

    ERHART. [In painful embarrassment.] Mother, surely you can understand? I would have spared you all this--you and every one.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Looks at him, deeply pained.] You would have gone away from me without saying a good-bye?

    ERHART. Yes, I thought that would be best; best for all of us. Our boxes were packed and everything settled. But of course when you sent for me, I---- [Holding out his hands to her.] Good-bye, mother.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a gesture of repulsion.] Don't touch me!

    ERHART. [Gently.] Is that your last word?

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Sternly.] Yes.

    ERHART. [Turning.] Good-bye to you, then, Aunt Ella.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Pressing his hands.] Good-bye, Erhart! And live your life-- and be as happy--as happy as ever you can.

    ERHART. Thanks, Aunt. [Bowing to BORKMAN.] Good-bye, father. [Whispers to MRS. WILTON.] Let us get away, the sooner the better.

    MRS. WILTON. [In a low voice.] Yes, let us.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [With a malignant smile.] Mrs. Wilton, do you think you are acting quite wisely in taking that girl with you?

    MRS. WILTON. [Returning the smile, half ironically, half seriously.] Men are so unstable, Mrs. Borkman. And women too. When Erhart is done with me--and I with him--then it will be well for us both that he, poor fellow, should have some one to fall back upon.

    MRS. BORKMAN. But you yourself?

    MRS. WILTON. Oh, I shall know what to do, I assure you. Good-bye to you all!

    [She bows and goes out by the hall door. ERHART stands for a moment as though wavering; then he turns and follows her.

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Dropping her folded hands.] Childless.

    BORKMAN. [As though awakening to a resolution.] Then out into the storm alone! My hat! My cloak! [He goes hastily towards the door.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [In terror, stopping him.] John Gabriel, where are you going?

    BORKMAN. Out into the storm of life, I tell you. Let me go, Ella!

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [Holding him back.] No, no, I won't let you out! You are ill. I can see it in your face!

    BORKMAN. Let me go, I tell you!

    [He tears himself away from her, and goes out by the hall.

    ELLA RENTHEIM. [In the doorway.] Help me to hold him, Gunhild!

    MRS. BORKMAN. [Coldly and sharply, standing in the middle of the room.] I will not try to hold any one in all the world. Let them go away from me--both the one and the other! As far--as far as ever they please. [Suddenly, with a piercing shriek.] Erhart, don't leave me!

    [She rushes with outstretched arms towards the door. ELLA RENTHEIM stops her.
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