(SCENE—The sitting-room at Rosmersholm; a spacious room, comfortably furnished in old-fashioned style. In the foreground, against the right-hand wall, is a stove decorated with sprigs of fresh birch and wild flowers. Farther back, a door. In the back wall folding doors leading into the entrance hall. In the left-hand wall a window, in front of which is a stand filled with flowers and plants. Near the stove stand a table, a couch and an easy-chair. The walls are hung round with portraits, dating from various periods, of clergymen, military officers and other officials in uniform. The window is open, and so are the doors into the lobby and the outer door. Through the latter is seen an avenue of old trees leading to a courtyard. It is a summer evening, after sunset. REBECCA WEST is sitting by the window crocheting a large white woollen shawl, which is nearly completed. From time to time she peeps out of window through the flowers. MRS. HELSETH comes in from the right.)
Mrs. Helseth. Hadn't I better begin and lay the table for supper, miss?
Rebecca. Yes, do. Mr. Rosmer ought to be in directly.
Mrs. Helseth. Isn't there a draught where you are sitting, miss?
Rebecca. There is a little. Will you shut up, please? (MRS. HELSETH goes to the hall door and shuts it. Then she goes to the window, to shut it, and looks out.)
Mrs. Helseth. Isn't that Mr. Rosmer coming there?
Rebecca. Where? (Gets up.) Yes, it is he. (Stands behind the window-curtain.) Stand on one side. Don't let him catch sight of us.
Mrs. Helseth (stepping back). Look, miss—he is beginning to use the mill path again.
Rebecca. He came by the mill path the day before yesterday too. (Peeps out between the curtain and the window-frame). Now we shall see whether—
Mrs. Helseth. Is he going over the wooden bridge?
Rebecca. That is just what I want to see. (After a moment.) No. He has turned aside. He is coming the other way round to-day too. (Comes away from the window.) It is a long way round.
Mrs. Helseth. Yes, of course. One can well understand his shrinking from going over that bridge. The spot where such a thing has happened is—
Rebecca (folding up her work). They cling to their dead a long time at Rosmersholm.
Mrs. Helseth. If you ask me, miss, I should say it is the dead that cling to Rosmersholm a long time.
Rebecca (looking at her). The dead?
Mrs. Helseth. Yes, one might almost say that they don't seem to be able to tear themselves away from those they have left behind.
Rebecca. What puts that idea into your head?
Mrs. Helseth. Well, otherwise I know the White Horses would not be seen here.
Rebecca. Tell me, Mrs. Helseth—what is this superstition about the White Horses?
Mrs. Helseth. Oh, it is not worth talking about. I am sure you don't believe in such things, either.
Rebecca. Do you believe in them?
Mrs. Helseth (goes to the window and shuts it). Oh, I am not going to give you a chance of laughing at me, miss. (Looks out.) See—is that not Mr. Rosmer out on the mill path again...?