Hedda Gabler Act Second
by Henrik Ibsen

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Act Second

The room at the TESMANS' as in the first Act, except that the piano has been removed, and an elegant little writing-table with the book-shelves put in its place. A smaller table stands near the sofa on the left. Most of the bouquets have been taken away. MRS. ELVSTED'S bouquet is upon the large table in front.--It is afternoon.

HEDDA, dressed to receive callers, is alone in the room. She stands by the open glass door, loading a revolver. The fellow to it lies in an open pistol-case on the writing- table.

HEDDA.

[Looks down the garden, and calls:] So you are here again, Judge!

BRACK.

[Is heard calling from a distance.] As you see, Mrs. Tesman!

HEDDA.

[Raises the pistol and points.] Now I'll shoot you, Judge Brack!

BRACK.

[Calling unseen.] No, no, no! Don't stand aiming at me!

HEDDA.

This is what comes of sneaking in by the back way.(7) [She fires.

BRACK.

[Nearer.] Are you out of your senses---!

HEDDA.

Dear me--did I happen to hit you?

BRACK.

[Still outside.] I wish you would let these pranks alone!

HEDDA.

Come in then, Judge.

JUDGE BRACK, dressed as though for a men's party, enters by the glass door. He carries a light overcoat over his arm.

BRACK.

What the deuce--haven't you tired of that sport, yet? What are you shooting at?

HEDDA.

Oh, I am only firing in the air.

BRACK.

[Gently takes the pistol out of her hand.] Allow me, madam! [Looks at it.] Ah--I know this pistol well! [Looks around.] Where is the case? Ah, here it is. [Lays the pistol in it, and shuts it.] Now we won't play at that game any more to-day.

HEDDA.

Then what in heaven's name would you have me do with myself?

BRACK.

Have you had no visitors?

HEDDA.

[Closing the glass door.] Not one. I suppose all our set are still out of town.

BRACK.

And is Tesman not at home either?

HEDDA.

[At the writing-table, putting the pistol-case in a drawer which she shuts.] No. He rushed off to his aunt's directly after lunch; he didn't expect you so early.

BRACK.

H'm--how stupid of me not to have thought of that!

HEDDA.

[Turning her head to look at him.] Why stupid?

BRACK.

Because if I had thought of it I should have come a little--earlier.

HEDDA.

[Crossing the room.] Then you would have found no one to receive you; for I have been in my room changing my dress ever since lunch.

BRACK.

And is there no sort of little chink that we could hold a parley through?

HEDDA.

You have forgotten to arrange one.

BRACK.

That was another piece of stupidity.

HEDDA.

Well, we must just settle down here--and wait. Tesman is not likely to be back for some time yet.

BRACK.

Never mind; I shall not be impatient.

HEDDA seats herself in the corner of the sofa. BRACK lays his overcoat over the back of the nearest chair, and sits down, but keeps his hat in his hand. A short silence. They look at each other.

HEDDA.

Well?

BRACK.

[In the same tone.] Well?

HEDDA.

I spoke first.

BRACK.

[Bending a little forward.] Come, let us have a cosy little chat, Mrs. Hedda.(8)

HEDDA.

[Leaning further back in the sofa.] Does it not seem like a whole eternity since our last talk? Of course I don't count those few words yesterday evening and this morning.

BRACK.

You mean since out last confidential talk? Our last tete-a-tete?

HEDDA.

Well yes--since you put it so.

BRACK.

Not a day passed but I have wished that you were home again.

HEDDA.

And I have done nothing but wish the same thing.

BRACK.

You? Really, Mrs. Hedda? And I thought you had been enjoying your tour so much!

HEDDA.

Oh yes, you may be sure of that!

BRACK.

But Tesman's letters spoke of nothing but happiness.

HEDDA.

Oh, Tesman! You see, he thinks nothing is so delightful as grubbing in libraries and making copies of old parchments, or whatever you call them.

BRACK.

[With a smile of malice.] Well, that is his vocation in life--or part of it at any rate.

HEDDA.

Yes, of course; and no doubt when it's your vocation---. But I! Oh, my dear Mr. Brack, how mortally bored I have been.

BRACK.

[Sympathetically.] Do you really say so? In downright earnest?

HEDDA.

Yes, you can surely understand it---! To go for six whole months without meeting a soul that knew anything of...

(The entire section is 7,587 words.)