(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?
Nurse. You see, they are so accustomed to have their mamma with them.
Nora. Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much with them now as I was before.
Nurse. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora. Do you think so? Do you think they would forget their mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens!—went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often wondered about—how could you have the heart to put your own child out among strangers?
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora’s nurse.
Nora. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse. What, when I was going to get such a good place by it? A poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides, that wicked man didn’t do a single thing for me.
Nora. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
Nurse. No, indeed she hasn’t. She wrote to me when she was confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora (putting her arms round her neck). Dear old Anne, you were a good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse. Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but me. Nora. And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you would— What nonsense I am talking! (Opens the box.) Go in to them. Now I must—. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.
Nurse. I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming as you, ma’am. (Goes into the room on the left.)
Nora (begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away from her). If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only I could be sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff and nonsense! No one will come. Only I mustn’t think about it. I will brush my muff. What lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts, out of my thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six— (Screams.) Ah! there is someone coming—. (Makes a movement towards the door, but stands irresolute.)
(Enter Mrs. Linde from the hall, where she has taken off her cloak and hat.)