(SCENE.—A large room looking upon a garden door in the left-hand wall, and two in the right. In the middle of the room, a round table with chairs set about it, and books, magazines and newspapers upon it. In the foreground on the left, a window, by which is a small sofa with a work-table in front of it. At the back the room opens into a conservatory rather smaller than the room. From the right-hand side of this, a door leads to the garden. Through the large panes of glass that form the outer wall of the conservatory, a gloomy fjord landscape can be discerned, half-obscured by steady rain.
ENGSTRAND is standing close to the garden door. His left leg is slightly deformed, and he wears a boot with a clump of wood under the sole. REGINA, with an empty garden-syringe in her hand, is trying to prevent his coming in.)
Regina (below her breath). What is it you want? Stay where you are. The rain is dripping off you.
Engstrand. God's good rain, my girl.
Regina. The Devil's own rain, that's what it is!
Engstrand. Lord, how you talk, Regina. (Takes a few limping steps forward.) What I wanted to tell you was this—
Regina. Don't clump about like that, stupid! The young master is lying asleep upstairs.
Engstrand. Asleep still? In the middle of the day?
Regina. Well, it's no business of yours.
Engstrand. I was out on a spree last night—
Regina. I don't doubt it.
Engstrand. Yes, we are poor weak mortals, my girl—
Regina. We are indeed.
Engstrand. —and the temptations of the world are manifold, you know—but, for all that, here I was at my work at half-past five this morning.
Regina. Yes, yes, but make yourself scarce now. I am not going to stand here as if I had a rendezvous with you.
Engstrand. As if you had a what?
Regina. I am not going to have anyone find you here; so now you know, and you can go.
Engstrand (coming a few steps nearer). Not a bit of it! Not before we have had a little chat. This afternoon I shall have finished my job down at the school house, and I shall be off home to town by tonight's boat.
Regina (mutters). Pleasant journey to you!
Engstrand. Thanks, my girl. Tomorrow is the opening of the Orphanage, and I expect there will be a fine kick-up here and plenty of good strong drink, don't you know. And no one shall say of Jacob Engstrand that he can't hold off when temptation comes in his way.
Engstrand. Yes, because there will be a lot of fine folk here tomorrow. Parson Manders is expected from town, too.
Regina: What's more, he's coming today.
Engstrand. There you are! And I'm going to be precious careful he doesn't have anything to say against me, do you see?
Regina. Oh, that's your game, is it?
Engstrand. What do you mean?
Regina (with a significant look at him). What is it you want to humbug Mr. Manders out of this time?
Engstrand. Sh! Sh! Are you crazy? Do you suppose I would want to humbug Mr. Manders? No, no—Mr. Manders has always been too kind a friend for me to do that. But what I wanted to talk to you about, was my going back home tonight....