HADDA PADDA. She has separated us. She has caught you in the net of her wantonness. You, too, Ingolf, you, too. ... When I looked at you, you could see my love in my eyes. But she, she looked at you through a veil of wantonness, so that your imagination might create what it liked behind it—? was that what attracted you? I gave you all that I had. She took back with the left hand what she had given with her right—was that what attracted you? Ingolf, do you value such a character? Don’t you know how she is? I know you think she loves you. So she has told them all. Her love is a remorseless beast of prey. She does not even spare her sister, though she knows you are the only man I ever loved. But she MUST have this triumph—this one, too. Are you going to yield to it?
INGOLF. You are mistaken, Hrafnhild. It is not she who parts us. I feel that even if she did not exist, I could no longer love you as before.
HADDA PADDA. Haven’t I seen you in each other’s arms? Had it been any one else, Ingolf, any one else, I might have tried to bear it; but SHE, in YOUR arms, that thought I cannot endure... I have no enemy but her. The blood that flows in her veins deceives. It understands the secrets of kinship, and knows what weapons can beat me. ... She was but a little girl when I saw the smile of the conqueror in her look, if she felt that young men who called on us paid her greater attentions than me. But it did not touch me. I was no rival. In my heart, there was only place for you. Don’t you see what life would be for me, should she triumph now, too.
INGOLF [keeps silent.]
HADDA PADDA [kneels down, grasping his knee]. Ingolf, for nine years have I run up the stairs at home, just as you did, on the day you went away—two steps at a time.
INGOLF. Get up, Hrafnhild. [He moves a step nearer to the door. Hadda is dragged along on her knees.]
HADDA PADDA [strokes her hand over his knee]. Ingolf, Ingolf,—
INGOLF [takes a step back]. Get up, Hrafnhild.
HADDA PADDA. Ingolf, I laid bare my love, to clothe yours. I did it, so that no one could take you from me. Do you remember when I gave you all a woman can give? The past closed behind me, and I was a different being. I took your head in both my hands. “Now you must always be kind to me,” I said. “Always,” you said. You are not kind to me now, Ingolf. Had you not stripped me of the only support which a woman must have to bear life alone, I might have been able to endure it. But you have awakened passions hidden in me, from the very depths of my nature. Whenever you were away, they cried out for you with voices like children.
INGOLF. Stop, Hrafnhild. I gave you my word, it is true; but since I no longer care for you, will you still hold me to an old promise that was made when I loved you? HADDA PADDA [gets up]. Not an old one, Ingolf. You aren’t telling the truth now. [Pointing out of the window.] Is it old, the water that flows down the river? Hasn’t every day we have lived together been a renewal of this promise?