Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of the Christmas Tree). How hot it is in here; and I have such a lot to do.
Helmer (getting up and putting his papers in order). Yes, and I must try and read through some of these before dinner; and I must think about your costume, too. And it is just possible I may have something ready in gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his hand on her head.) My precious little singing-bird! (He goes into his room and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (after a pause, whispers). No, no—it isn’t true. It’s impossible; it must be impossible.
(The NURSE opens the door on the left.)
Nurse. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come in to mamma.
Nora. No, no, no! Don’t let them come in to me! You stay with them, Anne.
Nurse. Very well, ma’am. (Shuts the door.)
Nora (pale with terror). Deprave my little children? Poison my home? (A short pause. Then she tosses her head.) It’s not true. It can’t possibly be true.
(THE SAME SCENE—The Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its dishevelled branches. NORA’S cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops the cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door and listens.) No—it is no one. Of course, no one will come today, Christmas Day—nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps—(opens the door and looks out.) No, nothing in the letter-box; it is quite empty. (Comes forward.) What rubbish! of course he can’t be in earnest about it. Such a thing couldn’t happen; it is impossible—I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a big cardboard box.)
Nurse. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora. Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse (doing so). But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.
Nurse. What an idea! It can easily be put in order—just a little patience.
Nora. Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with it.
Nurse. What, out again? In this horrible weather? You will catch cold, ma’am, and make yourself ill.
Nora. Well, worse than that might happen. How are the children?
Nurse. The poor little souls are playing with their Christmas presents, but—
Nora. Do they ask much for me?