TRANSLATED FROM THE SWEDISH BY
LARS MALMSTROM & DAVID KUSHNER
FOUR SCREENPLAYS OF INGMAR BERGMAN
A CLARION BOOK PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND
A CLARION BOOK
PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER
ROCKEFELLER CENTER, 630 FIFTH AVENUE
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10020 ALL RIGHTS
INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION
IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN ANY FORM
COPYRIGHT © 1960 BY INGMAR BERGMAN
SIXTH PAPERBACK PRINTING 1969
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER: 60-14283
MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRINTED
BY THE MURRAY PRINTING COMPANY, FORGE VILLAGE, MASS.
NOTE: The screenplays in this book are identical to those used by Ingmar
Bergman when filming, except that: 1) the original scripts contain numbers
before each sequence which indicate the estimated number of shots that
will be necessary for that sequence; 2) since these screenplays are
prepared before shooting begins, they contain sequences and dialogue
which do not appear in the final film; Bergman has deleted some material
to make the published scripts conform to the manes.
A PREFACE by Ingmar Bergman's Producer, Carl Anders
Bergman Discusses Film-making • 12
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT • 23
ILLUSTRATION SECTION • 27
THE SEVENTH SEAL • 125
ILLUSTRATION SECTION • 129
WILD STRAWBERRIES • 203
ILLUSTRATION SECTION • 207
THE MAGICIAN (THE FACE) - 287
ILLUSTRATION SECTION • 291
A Chronology of Films Directed by
Ingmar Bergman • 380
Major Prizes Won by Bergman
Films • 383
The publishers wish to express their gratitude for the help and
co-operation received from the staff of Janus Films, Inc., and
particularly Cyrus Harvey, Jr.
by Ingmar Bergman's Producer, Carl Anders Dymling
[CARL ANDERS DYMLING is the president of Svensk
Filmindustri, producers of Ingmar Bergman's films. He has
been a major factor in Bergman's film career from its begin-
ning and is largely responsible for the development and
establishment of Bergman as a writer-director of world re-
nown. Now in his sixties. Dr. Dymling was previously director-
general of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and has
also been a literary critic and scholar.]
THE FIRST TIME I saw Ingmar Bergman was during the
autumn of 1942, when I had just gone into the motion-picture
business as president of Svensk Filmindustri. He was a very young
man then, tall, thin, with black hair and burning black eyes. He was
still unknown, but trying impatiently to find his way in life and in
particular to find an outlet for his erupting creative talents. He began
by producing stage plays, on a small scale and with extremely
limited resources. I happened to see one of them at the university
students' theater in Stockholm. Here, I thought, was a refreshing
young talent, a little crazy perhaps, certainly immature, but with a
lot of bold and fanciful ideas.
I decided on the spot to find out if he was willing to work in some
capacity at the SF (Svensk Filmindustri) studio at Rasunda. He was.
He started by rewriting some scripts, rather poor ones I'm afraid,
trying to make them worth while. He wasn't very successful. Then
one day about a year later came the first Bergman surprise. A
manuscript suddenly appeared on my desk, not a scenario but a short
novel intended as a film. (For many years, Bergman preferred to
present a film in this way before writing the screenplay.) It was
Hets, called Torment in the United States and Frenzy in England. I
read it; it was a startling experience. Here was a very angry young
man—long before they became the fashion—a writer looking at the
world through the eyes of a teen-age rebel harshly criticizing his
parents, offending his teachers, making love to a prostitute, fighting
everything and everybody in order to preserve his integrity and his
right to be unhappy. The dialogue was full of sound and fury, and it
is unfortunate that the American audience has so far seen only a
disastrously mutilated version of Torment. The script promised to be
a great success, and we were fortunate in getting Alf Sjoberg to help
write the scenario and to direct the picture.
This is how Bergman started his career in motion pictures. It was
also the beginning of long years of co-operation and friendship, full
of triumphs and frustrations, joys and disappointments, but always
exciting. The relationship between a producer and a writer-director
is a delicate and complicated thing, and in this particular case the
more so because Ingmar Bergman has continued to be a rebel-child.
He has always been a problem, not only to others but also to
himself, and I think he will remain so. He is a high-strung
personality, passionately alive, enormously sensitive, very short-
tempered, sometimes quite ruthless in the pursuit of his own goals,
suspicious, stubborn, capricious, most unpredictable. His will power
is extraordinary. There are
bound to be misunderstandings and disagreements; we both know
this, and they are soon forgotten. After all, we have a common
cause: we want to make good pictures.
This common goal has probably been the most important element
in our relationship. When I originally became president of Svensk
Filmindustri, I didn't realize how an ambitious producer is inevitably
caught up in a conflict between artistic aims and commercial
interests. My main problem and aim as a producer has been to
balance these interests. It is the problem of everyone working in
mass media. And I feel that this search for balance has underlined
my relationship with Bergman and enabled him to use the film as a
means of self-expression to an extent which few directors in the
world today have done.
It has not always been easy. I can remember when Bergman got
very bad reviews, when he was considered difficult, bizarre,
incomprehensible, pretentious; times when he really needed support
and understanding. And also when, among the governing board of
SF itself, I sometimes had to fight rather hard for him. From a
financial point of view, a Bergman picture seemed a risky business
until not long ago; it was only when Smiles of a Summer Night was
shown at the Cannes Festival in 1956 that he won general
recognition in Sweden and other countries, and even with that
recognition his films cannot yet be considered great commercial suc-
Ingmar Bergman usually keeps me informed of his plans and
ideas long before he has put anything on paper. Sometimes, when he
is not too sure of my approval, he is in the habit of dropping
supposedly confidential hints to members of the staff which are
intended to reach me in due time and prepare me—and him—for the
worst. This is how I learned of his intention to make The Seventh
Seal. His precautions turned out to be unnecessary; I could hardly
refuse a screenplay of such quality even if I had wanted to.
As a producer, I was quite aware of the financial risk in a motion
picture with so serious a theme. But it promised to be an unusual, an
outstanding picture. It had to be done. We discussed the script for
several days and nights during the Cannes festival in May 1956. We
agreed on some changes, on the cast and on the budget. We felt as if
we were launching a big ship and we were very happy.
A year or two before, he had told me the story which was to
become Smiles of a Summer Night. The idea seemed brilliant, and I
was pleased with his wish to make a new comedy. For a long time I
had encouraged him to write comedies, but he didn't dare. His first
attempt was the now famous elevator scene in Secrets of Women;
then he wrote A Lesson in Love. But you never can tell what is go-
ing to happen to a Bergman idea. Some disappear mysteriously and
are never heard of again. Some are dropped even after a screenplay
is written. Others change completely. The story of Smiles of a
Summer Night turned out to be quite different from the one he had
told me about originally, so different, as a matter of fact, that he
could use the original story for another comedy without anybody no-
ticing the connection—if Bergman should ever run out of ideas,
which seems most unlikely.
As a rule he and I discuss a picture in detail and at length before
he starts shooting it. Then we go on talking about it after he has
finished shooting and editing the picture. I refuse to look at the
rushes or parts of the picture. Only when the rough cut is ready do
we look at it together. It is one of my few rules never to interfere
with work in the studio. I want to leave the director alone during the
difficult time he must go through. This is not a special privilege
given to Bergman but to any director working in our studios.
I have been asked many times by journalists from abroad,
particularly from the United States, about the unusual amount of
freedom allowed the Swedish film direc-
tor. This freedom is part of a heritage from the good old days of the
Swedish cinema. Svensk Filmindustri is in fact one of the oldest
motion-picture companies in the world;
we started producing pictures more than fifty years ago. The head of
the company at the time was a man of pioneer spirit, Charles
Magnusson. He had courage and vision. He wanted to give the
public something more than cheap entertainment; he wanted motion
pictures to become a cultural force comparable to the theater. In
order to raise the standards of production he persuaded two
prominent actor-directors of the stage, Victor Sjostrom and Mauritz
Stiller, to join his company. Magnusson, who was a photographer
himself, taught them how to use this new medium. Within a few
years they were ready for the great adventure in Swedish film
history which began with Terje Vigen, (A Man There Was), based on
Ibsen's poem of the same name, continued with The Phantom
Carriage and Sir Arne's Treasure and came to an end with the
Garbo picture, Gosto Berling's Saga. Magnusson provided the
money but did not interfere; Sjostrom and Stiller had an entirely free
Thus the origins of Swedish motion-picture production had an
intimate connection with the art and standards of the theater. Ever
since that golden age of the Swedish cinema classics, our directors
have taken their ideals from the theater. This approach has been an
important influence, and it is the reason, I think, that our attitude
toward film-making has always been and still is profoundly different
from, let us say, that of Hollywood. It is painfully true that motion-
picture making has a Janus face: it is both an art and an industry. But
the tradition established by Magnus-son, Sjostrom and Stiller has
prevented the surrender of artistic aims to commercial interests.
This difference in attitude explains a good many things. It
certainly explains why some of the Bergman pictures have ever been
produced. It may also explain why some foreign
critics seem anxious to place Ingmar Bergman on a pedestal as a
kind of prophet, half hidden in clouds of deep mystery and
unintelligible symbolism. We in Sweden don't regard him as a
prophet. To us he is a fascinating personality, an outstanding writer-
director, an artist of vision but with his feet planted solidly on the
ground. Above all, Bergman is a link in the chain which joins the
past and the present in
Swedish film history.
CARL ANDERS DYMLING
BERGMAN DISCUSSES FILM-MAKING
DURING THE SHOOTING of The Virgin Spring, we were up in
the northern province of Dalarna in May and it was early in the
morning, about half past seven. The landscape there is rugged, and
our company was working by a little lake in the forest. It was very
cold, about 30 degrees, and from time to time a few snowflakes fell
through the gray, rain-dimmed sky. The company was dressed in a
strange variety of clothing—raincoats, oil slickers, Icelandic
sweaters, leather jackets, old blankets, coachmen's coats, medieval
robes. Our men had laid some ninety feet of rusty, buckling rail over
the difficult terrain, to dolly the camera on. We were all helping
with the equipment—actors, electricians, make-up men, script girl,
sound crew—mainly to keep warm. Suddenly someone shouted and
pointed toward the sky. Then we saw a crane floating high above
the fir trees, and then another, and then several cranes, floating
majestically in a circle above us. We all dropped what we were
doing and ran to the top of a nearby hill to see the cranes better. We
stood there for a long time, until they turned westward and
disappeared over the forest. And suddenly I thought: this is what it
means to make a movie in Sweden. This is what can happen, this is
how we work together with our old equipment and little money, and
this is how we can suddenly drop everything for the love of four
cranes floating above the tree tops.
My association with film goes back to the world of childhood.
My grandmother had a very large old apartment in Uppsala. I used
to sit under the dining-room table there, "listening" to the sunshine
which came in through the gigantic windows. The cathedral bells
went ding-dong, and the sunlight moved about and "sounded" in a
special way. One day, when winter was giving way to spring and I
was five years old, a piano was being played in the next apartment. It
played waltzes, nothing but waltzes. On the wall hung a large picture
of Venice. As the sunlight moved across the picture the water in the
canal began to flow, the pigeons flew up from the square, people
talked and gesticulated. Bells sounded, not those of Uppsala
Cathedral but from the picture itself. And the piano music also came
from that remarkable picture of Venice.
A child who is born and brought up in a vicarage acquires an early
familiarity with life and death behind the scenes. Father performed
funerals, marriages, baptisms, gave advice and prepared sermons.
The devil was an early acquaintance, and in the child's mind there
was a need to personify him. This is where my magic lantern came
in. It consisted of a small metal box with a carbide lamp—1 can still
remember the smell of the hot metal—and colored glass slides: Red
Riding Hood and the Wolf, and all the others. And the Wolf was the
Devil, without horns but with a tail and a gaping red mouth,
strangely real yet incomprehensible, a picture of wickedness and
temptation on the flowered wall of the nursery.
When I was ten years old I received my first, rattling film
projector, with its chimney and lamp. I found it both mystifying and
fascinating. The first film I had was nine
feet long and brown in color. It showed a girl lying asleep in a
meadow, who woke up and stretched out her arms, then disappeared
to the right. That was all there was to it. The film was a great success
and was projected every night until it broke and could not be mended
This little rickety machine was my first conjuring set. And even
today I remind myself with childish excitement that I am really a
conjurer, since cinematography is based on deception of the human
eye. I have worked it out that if I see a film which has a running time
of one hour, I sit through twenty-seven minutes of complete
darkness—the blankness between frames. When I show a film I am
guilty of deceit. I use an apparatus which is constructed to take
advantage of a certain human weakness, an apparatus with which I
can sway my audience in a highly emotional manner—make them
laugh, scream with fright, smile, believe in fairy stories, become
indignant, feel shocked, charmed, deeply moved or perhaps yawn
with boredom. Thus I am either an impostor or, when the audience is
willing to be taken in, a conjurer. I perform conjuring tricks with
apparatus so expensive and so wonderful that any entertainer in
history would have given anything to have it.
A film for me begins with something very vague— a chance
remark or a bit of conversation, a hazy but agreeable event
unrelated to any particular situation. It can be a few bars of music, a
shaft of light across the street. Sometimes in my work at the theater
I have envisioned actors made up for yet unplayed roles.
These are split-second impressions that disappear as quickly as
they come, yet leave behind a mood—like pleasant dreams. It is a
mental state, not an actual story, but one abounding in fertile
associations and images. Most of all, it is a brightly colored thread
sticking out of the dark sack of the unconscious. If I begin to wind
up this thread, and do it carefully, a complete film will emerge.
This primitive nucleus strives to achieve definite form, moving in
a way that may be lazy and half asleep at first. Its stirring is
accompanied by vibrations and rhythms which are very special and
unique to each film. The picture sequences then assume a pattern in
accordance with these rhythms, obeying laws born out of and
conditioned by my original stimulus.
If that embryonic substance seems to have enough strength to be
made into a film, I decide to materialize it. Then comes something
very complicated and difficult: the transformation of rhythms,
moods, atmosphere, tensions, sequences, tones and scents into
words and sentences, into an understandable screenplay.
This is an almost impossible task.
The only thing that can be satisfactorily transferred from that
original complex of rhythms and moods is the dialogue, and even
dialogue is a sensitive substance which may offer resistance. Written
dialogue is like a musical score, almost incomprehensible to the
average person. Its interpretation demands a technical knack plus a
certain kind of imagination and feeling—qualities which are so often
lacking, even among actors. One can write dialogue, but how it
should be delivered, its rhythm and tempo, what is to take place
between lines—all this must be omitted for practical reasons. Such a
detailed script would be unreadable. I try to squeeze instructions as
to location, characterization and atmosphere into my screenplays in
understandable terms, but the success of this depends on my writing
ability and the perceptiveness of the reader, which are not always
Now we come to essentials, by which I mean montage, rhythm
and the relation of one picture to another—the vital third dimension
without which the film is merely a dead product from a factory. Here
I cannot clearly give a key, as in a musical score, nor a specific idea
of the tempo
which determines the relationship of the elements involved. It is
quite impossible for me to indicate the way in which the film
"breathes" and pulsates.
I have often wished for a kind of notation which would enable me
to put on paper all the shades and tones of my vision, to record
distinctly the inner structure of a film. For when I stand in the
artistically devastating atmosphere of the studio, my hands and head
full of all the trivial and irritating details that go with motion-picture
production, it often takes a tremendous effort to remember how I
originally saw and thought out this or that sequence, or what was the
relation between the scene of four weeks ago and that of today. If I
could express myself clearly, in explicit symbols, then this problem
would be almost eliminated and I could work with absolute
confidence that whenever I liked I could prove the relationship
between the part and the whole and put my finger on the rhythm, the
continuity of the film.
Thus the script is a very imperfect technical basis for a film. And
there is another important point in this connection which I should
like to mention. Film has nothing to do with literature; the character
and substance of the two art forms are usually in conflict. This
probably has something to do with the receptive process of the mind.
The written word is read and assimilated by a conscious act of the
will in alliance with the intellect; little by little it affects the
imagination and the emotions. The process is different with a motion
picture. When we experience a film, we consciously prime ourselves
for illusion. Putting aside will and intellect, we make way for it in
our imagination. The sequence of pictures plays directly on our
Music works in the same fashion; I would say that there is no art
form that has so much in common with film as music. Both affect
our emotions directly, not via the intellect. And film is mainly
rhythm; it is inhalation and
exhalation in continuous sequence. Ever since childhood, music
has been my great source of recreation and stimulation, and I often
experience a film or play musically.
It is mainly because of this difference between film and literature
that we should avoid making films out of books. The irrational
dimension of a literary work, the germ of its existence, is often
untranslatable into visual terms—and it, in turn, destroys the special,
irrational dimension of the film. If, despite this, we wish to translate
something literary into film terms, we must make an infinite number
of complicated adjustments which often bear little or no fruit in
proportion to the effort expended.
I myself have never had any ambition to be an author. I do not
want to write novels, short stories, essays, biographies, or even plays
for the theater. I only want to make films—films about conditions,
tensions, pictures, rhythms and characters which are in one way or
another important to me. The motion picture, with its complicated
process of birth, is my method of saying what I want to my fellow
men. I am a film-maker, not an author.
Thus the writing of the script is a difficult period but a useful one, for
it compels me to prove logically the validity of my ideas. In doing
this, I am caught in a conflict—a conflict between my need to
transmit a complicated situation through visual images, and my
desire for absolute clarity. I do not intend my work to be solely for
the benefit of myself or the few, but for the entertainment of the gen-
eral public. The wishes of the public are imperative. But sometimes I
risk following my own impulse, and it has been shown that the
public can respond with surprising sensitivity to the most
unconventional line of development. When shooting begins, the most
important thing is that those who work with me feel a definite
contact, that all of us somehow cancel out our conflicts through
working together. We must pull in one direction for the sake of the
work at hand. Sometimes this leads to dispute, but the
more definite and clear the "marching orders," the easier it is to reach
the goal which has been set. This is the basis for my conduct as
director, and perhaps the explanation of much of the nonsense that
has been written about me.
While I cannot let myself be concerned with what people think
and say about me personally, I believe that reviewers and critics have
every right to interpret my films as they like. I refuse to interpret my
work to others, and I cannot tell the critic what to think; each person
has the right to understand a film as he sees it. Either he is attracted
or repelled. A film is made to create reaction. If the audience does
not react one way or another, it is an indifferent work and worthless.
I do not mean by this that I believe in being "different" at any
price. A lot has been said about the value of originality, and I find
this foolish. Either you are original or you are not. It is completely
natural for artists to take from and give to each other, to borrow from
and experience one another. In my own life, my great literary
experience was Strindberg. There are works of his which can still
make my hair stand on end—The People of Hemso, for example. And
it is my dream to produce Dream Play some day. Olof Molander's
production of it in 1934 was for me a fundamental dramatic
On a personal level, there are many people who have meant a
great deal to me. My father and mother were certainly of vital
importance, not only in themselves but because they created a world
for me to revolt against. In my family there was an atmosphere of
hearty wholesomeness which I, a sensitive young plant, scorned and
rebelled against. But that strict middle-class home gave me a wall to
pound on, something to sharpen myself against. At the same time
they taught me a number of values—efficiency, punctuality, a sense
of financial responsibility—which may be bourgeois" but are
nevertheless important to the artist. They are part of the process of
setting oneself severe stand-
ards. Today as a film-maker I am conscientious, hard-working and
extremely careful; my films involve good craftsmanship, and my
pride is the pride of a good craftsman.
Among the people who have meant something in my professional
development is Torsten Hammaren of Gothenburg. I went there
from Halsingborg, where I had been head of the municipal theater
for two years. I had no conception of what theater was; Hammaren
taught me during the four years I stayed in Gothenburg. Then, when
I made my first attempts at film, Alf Sjoberg—who directed Tor-
ment—taught me a great deal. And there was Lorens Marmstedt,
who really taught me film-making from scratch after my first
unsuccessful movie. Among other things I learned from Marmstedt
is the one unbreakable rule: you must look at your own work very
coldly and clearly; you must be a devil to yourself in the screening
room when watching the day's rushes. Then there is Herbert
Grevenius, one of the few who believed in me as a writer. I had
trouble with script-writing, and was reaching out more and more to
the drama, to dialogue, as a means of expression. He gave me great
Finally, there is Carl Anders Dymling, my producer. He is crazy
enough to place more faith in the sense of responsibility of a
creative artist than in calculations of profit and loss. I am thus able
to work with an integrity that has become the very air I breathe, and
one of the main reasons I do not want to work outside of Sweden.
The moment I lose this freedom I will cease to be a film-maker,
because I have no skill in the art of compromise. My only
significance in the world of film lies in the freedom of my
Today, the ambitious film-maker is obliged to walk a tightrope
without a net. He may be a conjurer, but no one conjures the
producer, the bank director or the theater owners when the public
refuses to go see a film and lay down the money by which
producer, bank director, theater owner and conjurer can live. The
conjurer may then be de-
prived of his magic wand; I would like to be able to measure the
amount of talent, initiative and creative ability which has been
destroyed by the film industry in its ruthlessly efficient sausage
machine. What was play to me once has now become a struggle.
Failure, criticism, public indifference all hurt more today than
yesterday. The brutality of the industry is undisguised—yet that can
be an advantage.
So much for people and the film business. I have been asked, as a
clergyman's son, about the role of religion in my thinking and film-
making. To me, religious problems are continuously alive. I never
cease to concern myself with them; it goes on every hour of every
day. Yet this does not take place on the emotional level, but on an
intellectual one. Religious emotion, religious sentimentality, is
something I got rid of long ago—I hope. The religious problem is
an intellectual one to me: the relationship of my mind to my
intuition. The result of this conflict is usually some kind of tower of
Philosophically, there is a book which was a tremendous
experience for me: Eiono Kaila's Psychology of the Personality. His
thesis that man lives strictly according to his needs—negative and
positive—was shattering to me, but terribly true. And I built on this
People ask what are my intentions with my films—my aims. It is
a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive
answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as
I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite
correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be.
There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck
by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people
came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants,
and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They
worked until the building was completed-master builders, artists,
clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows
to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.
Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this
connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was
separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life,
generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his
work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than
other artisans; "eternal values," "immortality" and "masterpiece" were terms not applicable
in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable
assurance and natural humility.
Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic
creation. The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it
were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his
individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and
bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are
smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny
the existence of each other. We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can
no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest
Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would
reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a
dragon's head, an angel, a devil—or perhaps a saint —out of stone. It does not matter
which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts. Regardless of whether I believe or not,
whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT
A ROMANTIC COMEDY
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT
Petra, the maid
Frid, the groom
Malla, Desiree's maid
Director of photography
P. A. Lundgren
Carl M. Lundh
P. O. Petterson
Running time: 108 minutes
Produced by Svensk Filmindustri; distributed in the United States by
Janus Films, Inc., and in Great Britain by Intercontinental Films Ltd.
IT is A LATE spring day in 1901.
Fredrik Egerman, attorney, closes his large ledger with a bang
so that the dust flies, places it on the shelf behind his desk, takes off
his pince-nez, puts it away in its case, looks at his watch, winds it
several times, sets his desk in order —pens, inkwell, ruler, writing
paper and books—combs his beard quickly with a small comb, rises
resolutely and begins to whistle as he walks into the next room,
which is occupied by his notary and his secretary, who runs forward
to help him with his coat. Egerman smiles amiably to his employees;
they bow respectfully.
FREDRIK: Good afternoon, gentlemen.
EMPLOYEES (chorus): Good afternoon, Mr. Egerman.
FREDRIK: Close up for the day.
EMPLOYEES: Thank you Mr. Egerman.
FREDRIK: Out in the sun, gentlemen. Summer is here.
He bids them farewell with a salute of his cane, puts his hat on his
head and walks out on the street.
NOTARY: What's happened to the boss?
ASSISTANT: Oh, I guess it's that young wife of his, making
him act foolish.
NOTARY: Yes, yes. Yes, yes. (He makes a face and dusts off his
Fredrik Egerman whistles contentedly as he walks down the street
at a rapid, springy pace, occasionally greeting a passer-by. He is a
well-known and highly regarded man in this small town.
Now he walks into Almgren's Photo Studio and is greeted at the
door by the shop owner's wife, a fat, sweet-smelling woman in a
light summer gown. She curtsies politely and asks him to be seated
in the outer office.
WIFE: Adolf! Lawyer Egerman is here for his photographs.
Adolf comes out from the studio. He is an elderly man with an
artistic appearance, bushy hair and a beautifully dyed mustache. In
his hand he has a number of photographs, which he places on the
table in front of Mr. Egerman. A white ribbon of sunlight lies across
the dazzlingly clean tablecloth.
ADOLF (proud): I must say that these pictures of your young
wife are among the finest studies that have ever been made at my
Fredrik lays out the pictures side by side, one after another, and it
becomes breathlessly quiet in the small shop. Adolf has clasped his
hands together and placed one of his legs forward. His head leans to
one side and a proud smile is on his lips. Mrs. Almgren stands with
her arms crossed over her large bosom and looks quite touched by
the many studies of the beautiful young woman. When the inspection
is over, Adolf draws a deep breath and Mr. Egerman quickly gathers
the photographs together. Mrs. Almgren rouses from her
enchantment with an odd little cluck of her tongue.
FREDRIK: An extraordinary, artistic achievement. ADOLF: The
subject! The subject is always the most important thing.
FREDRIK: Yes, she is beautiful, Anne Egerman.
He cannot conceal a small tremor of pride in his voice. He places
the photographs in his wallet while a bill changes ownership.
Adolf holds the door open. Fredrik steps out into the sunlight,
places his hat jauntily on his head and whistles a completely new
Now he stops outside Hermanson's Tobacco Shop and his gaze
falls on a poster announcing that a renowned theater company is in
town. The evening's performance will be a French comedy, A
Woman of the World, and the title role is to be played by Miss
After some hesitation Egerman walks into the tobacco shop, buys
two parquet seats and an expensive cigar. He lights it on a small gas
flame, pays and trots out again into the sunshine.
Glancing quickly at the poster, he assures himself that it is indeed
Miss Armfeldt who is playing the title role.
With slow steps and a thoughtful mien, Fredrik Egerman rounds
the corner and arrives home.
It is a long, low eighteenth-century house of two stories,
surrounded by a garden with budding fruit trees.
Inside, the redheaded housemaid takes his hat, coat and cane.
FREDRIK: Is my wife in?
PETRA: Of course! Mrs. Egerman is waiting with tea. She asked
several times for you, sir.
FREDRIK: I've been slightly delayed.
Fredrik goes to the large wall minor, straightens his tie
and smoothes his hair with his hands. Petra stands right behind
him, watching his actions expectantly.
FREDRIK: Now summer is really here.
PETRA: I like fall best.
PETRA: Not the late fall, but early fall.
FREDRIK: By the way, how old are you, Petra?
PETRA: Eighteen, sir.
FREDRIK: A pleasant age.
PETRA: Do you think so too?
FREDRIK: Hm! Apropos of that, has my son come home?
PETRA: He is in the drawing room reading aloud to your wife.
Fredrik nods smilingly to Petra, who curtsies deeply and returns
The table near the window is set for tea. The pot bubbles quietly
and the smell of bird-cherry blossoms comes from the drawing-room
table. In the center of a sunbeam sits Anne, dressed in a yellow gown
with a pattern of flowers woven into the skirt and a finely worked
silver belt around her slender waist. The big red velvet chair em-
braces her small body; she is energetically occupied with a piece of
embroidery stretched across a large circular frame.
On a stool at her feet sits Fredrik's son, Henrik, a handsome youth
of about nineteen. Now he reads in a low voice.
HENRIK: ... in discussing temptation, Martin Luther says: You
cannot prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can
prevent them from nesting in your hair.
FREDRIK: Good day, my children.
Both of them look up. Anne, a happy look on her face, throws
down her embroidery, runs forward to her hus-
band, puts her arms around him and allows herself to be kissed.
FREDRIK: Hello, Mrs. Egerman. Forgive me for keeping you waiting for tea, but I see that
you've had company.
He turns with an ironic expression toward his son. They shake hands and bow slightly.
FREDRIK: Hello, son. How was your examination? What a
silly question. Naturally you passed it superbly.
ANNE: Henrik was praised by his professor. He said that it
was nice to know a theologian who, for a change, was not
FREDRIK: And your decision to become a minister is still
ANNE: Fredrik! Don't be cruel now.
FREDRIK: Yes, yes! But I didn't say anything.
Fredrik pulls out the theater tickets and places them in front of his wife.
ANNE: Oh, Fredrik! How nice. Are we going to the theater tonight? What am I going to wear?
How did you find time? How wonderful. What shall I wear? Just think, you've found time to go to
the theater with your little Anne. Look, Henrik, a theater ticket.
FREDRIK: Perhaps you'd rather go with Henrik. I thought that-
ANNE: When I have a chance to go with you! You never have time. How silly you are. What
shall I wear? The blue dress with the feathers or perhaps the yellow one? Is it a comedy we're
going to? Yes! I know! The white one! The white one is suitable for both laughter and tears.
She is already in the bedroom and has opened the doors of the
large, mirrored wardrobes. Dresses foam out around her.
FREDRIK (apologetic): It was thoughtless of me to buy only two
tickets, but I assumed that a comedy is too mundane an amusement
for a man of the cloth. HENRIK (pained): Naturally.
FREDRIK: To be able to really enjoy the performance, I suggest
that we take a nap for a few hours. Will you forgive us, dear Henrik,
if we leave you for a while? We'll see each other at dinner.
Fredrik smiles boldly, puts his teacup aside and walks into the
bedroom, closing the door behind him. Henrik bites his lip and paces
around on the soft carpet. The red-haired Petra appears and begins to
pick up the tea service. Henrik stops behind the grand piano and
looks shyly at the young woman.
HENRIK: Stop walking like that.
PETRA: What do you mean. Master Henrik?
HENRIK: What I say. Stop walking that way.
HENRIK: You're swaying your hips.
PETRA: Am I! How funny. Yes, look.
She looks over her shoulder at herself in the large wall mirror.
Henrik pinches her arm and kisses her fiercely with his lips tightly
pressed together. He gets a quick slap. The young woman straightens
the coil of hair at her ear and lifts the heavy tray in her strong arms.
Then she leaves, hips swaying broadly.
Henrik sinks down at the piano and improvises some stormy
passages. The door opens carefully and from the
twilight of the bedroom Anne emerges, dressed in a languishing,
angelic-looking negligee. He stops playing and turns violently
toward her, but she puts her fingers over his lips and speaks in a
ANNE: You must be a little quieter. Your father is already asleep.
Henrik lowers his head and Anne gently pats it. Then she returns
to the quiet gloom of the bedroom, where the drawn shutters keep
out the sharp afternoon light.
Her husband sleeps solemnly, lying on his back with his fingers
entwined across his breast. He looks like a dead king on a
sarcophagus—a dead king who is satisfied with his death. Anne lies
down at his side and closes her eyes. The silence is complete. A
lonely fly strolls in the sunbeam across the night table. A little clock
ticks eagerly somewhere in the room. Now Fredrik Egerman turns on
his side. He stretches his neck with a contented smile and curls his
lips. Ann's eyes open slightly and she looks furtively at her sleeping
Yes, he's smiling quite happily, one would almost say with zest.
FREDRIK: Mmm . . . mum ... m ... m ... uh ...
His nose dilates, his eyebrows lower, his eyelids quiver slightly.
Anne finds a completely new and secret amusement in this. She lies
on her back and turns her face toward her husband. It's difficult for
her to keep from laughing-Now Fredrik lifts his right hand and
places it quite lightly against his wife's cheek. She is completely
immobile now, and when the hand slowly begins to caress her throat
and shoulder, she shivers and carefully kisses the palm.
Now the hand imperceptibly touches her breast and the finger tips
search farther on across the shoulder's soft curve.
Slowly and carefully Anne moves closer to her husband. Her mouth
is very close to his and in his sleep he seems to perceive her nearness.
He kisses her with sudden passion, clutches her and pulls her to him.
She follows him willingly, secretly tempted by this unknown man.
He repeats his kiss, even stronger, this time almost painfully. His
mouth searches its way down the girl's throat while he murmurs more
and more passionately.
FREDRIK: Desiree . . . how I have longed for you. Desiree . . . how
I have longed . . .
Anne's eyes clear, and she trembles as if she had hurt herself. For a
moment she tries to answer his passion, but tears come to her eyes and
carefully, with infinite gentleness, she pulls away from his embrace.
With a sigh that discloses an undefined state of mind, Fredrik Egerman
re-assumes his attitude of a dead king on a sarcophagus. The only
difference is that he doesn't seem so contented any longer. His wife
wipes the tears from her eyes and sits up in bed. She has something to
The town has a very beautiful old theater where the bourgeoisie, the
military and the country nobility meet ever so often to look at
themselves and each other as well as at some high-class performances
by some high-class companies.
Fredrik Egerman and his wife occupy two box seats rather close to
Anne sits in front at the rail, her face calm and expectant. Her hands
rest in her lap; she seems completely absorbed in the play. Fredrik sits
immediately behind his
wife and a little to the side. He is also dressed in evening clothes
and looks more at Anne than at the play.
The stage represents an elegant salon, with an immense Brussels
carpet covering the sloping stage floor on which pieces of furniture are
scattered according to the conventions of French comedy. Two
extremely elegant young ladies are in the midst of a lively and quite
FIRST LADY: Tell me something about the Countess. As you know,
I've never met her, only seen her from a distance.
SECOND LADY: Your request is completely understandable, my dear
Madame Vilmorac, and I shall try as best I can to depict the personality
of the Countess, although it is too rich in mysterious contradictions to
allow itself to be described in a few short moments.
FIRST LADY: It is said that the Countess' power over men is most
SECOND LADY: There is great truth in that, Madame, and her lovers
are as many as the pearls in the necklace which she always wears.
FIRST LADY: Your own husband, Madame de Merville, is supposed
to be one of the handsomest pearls, isn't he?
SECOND LADY: He fell immediately in love with the Countess. She
took him as a lover for three months and after that I had him back.
FIRST LADY: And your marriage was crushed.
SECOND LADY: On the contrary, Madame! My husband had become
a tender, devoted, admirable lover, a faithful husband and an exemplary
father. I feel eternally grateful to the Countess. I sent her a few small
gifts and we became the strongest of friends.
FIRST LADY: I tremble at such a lack of decency.
SECOND LADY: I assure you that the Countess' lack of de-
cency is most moral, and her influence is very ennobling to all men,
whatever their class.
Now the door opens in the rear center stage and a servant enters.
SERVANT: The Countess Celimene de Francen de la Tour de Casas.
At that moment, Desiree Armfeldt appears in a huge, dazzling gown.
The storm of applause from the darkness of the theater reaches her like
waves breaking on the beach. Fredrik applauds and Anne also lets her
consent be known by a light tapping of her gloved hands.
ANNE: Who plays the Countess?
FREDRIK: Miss Armfeldt, if I'm not mistaken.
ANNE: Isn't her name Desiree?
FREDRIK: Of course, Desiree Armfeldt.
ANNE: May I borrow the opera glasses?
Anne grasps the binoculars and carefully examines Miss Armfeldt,
who has stepped forward to the apron of the stage. Suddenly Anne turns
toward her husband.
ANNE: She looked at us. Why did she do that?
FREDRIK: I don't think that she looked especially at us.
ANNE: She looked at us and then she smiled. Why did she do that?
FREDRIK: All actresses smile when they thank the audience.
ANNE (fiercely): She is extremely beautiful.
FREDRIK: Dear child, that's only make-up.
ANNE: How can you be so sure? Have you seen her offstage? Look at
the necklace she's wearing! All the lovers, of course.
FREDRIK: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. (Sighs)
Anne gives her husband a dark suspicious glance. Fredrik Egerman
smiles uncertainly, sticks out his chin and pretends to return to the play.
Anne moves uneasily on her chair. The silk rustles; her bare shoulders
are tense. Fredrik sighs once more but this time quietly, to himself.
DESIREE: ... we know that every man has his dignity. We women
have a right to commit any crime toward our husbands, our lovers, our
sons, as long as we don't hurt their dignity. If we do, we are stupid and
have to bear the consequences. We should make men's dignity our best
ally, and caress it, cradle it, speak tenderly to it, and handle it as our most
beloved toy. Then a man is in our hands, at our feet, or anywhere else we
momentarily wish him to be.
FIRST LADY: Do you think that this can be combined with real and
DESIREE: Don't forget, Madame, that love is a perpetual juggling of
three balls. Their names are heart, word and sex. How easily these three
balls can be juggled, and how easily one of them can be dropped.
Now Fredrik discovers that his wife is quietly crying, as miserably as
a small child. Her round, delicate shoulders shake, and her head is deeply
bowed. Tears drop profusely over the white silk dress, and her full lower
lip trembles sadly, moistly. Fredrik leans gently over her.
ANNE (whispers): I want to go home!
Fredrik nods reassuringly and leads his wife out of the box after he
has placed the wide evening wrap around her shoulders with great care.
Petra looks a little touseled when she opens the gate. She has pulled
her skirt over her nightgown. Her arms are bare; her red hair is uncoiled
and wells down over her shoulders.
PETRA: Is the play over already?
FREDRIK: My wife became a little ill. Will you help her to bed,
PETRA: Of course, sir,
She curtsies, and her eyes look curiously from one to the other. She
has placed the candle on the table and helps Anne with her wrap.
Fredrik Egerman walks into the drawing room and turns up the
gaslight. Henrik stares at his father as if he were seeing a ghost. He sits
on the sofa near the window and holds a guitar in a spasmodic grip, as
if it were a life preserver. His hair and clothes are disheveled, and his
cheeks are blushing violently. On the table near the sofa stand two
wineglasses and a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket.
His father pretends not to notice the boy's confusion, but walks up to
the cupboard, takes out a glass, pours some champagne and nods to his
FREDRIK: Skoal, my son.
Henrik does not answer the greeting. He merely rises and looks out
the window. His father watches him for a moment, walks away and
turns down the gas so that the room rests in twilight once more. Then
he sits down on the sofa.
FREDRIK: So you've taken up the guitar. I didn't know that was
part of the education of the high church clergy.
Henrik still doesn't answer, but he releases the guitar. Fredrik leans
forward and serves himself another glass of champagne.
FREDRIK: An excellent wine. You have good taste. I'm happy that
you're celebrating your examination.
HENRIK: I'm so terribly unhappy.
FREDRIK: Yes, of course.
HENRIK: You're being ironic.
FREDRIK: You say that you're unhappy and I can't understand
why. You are young, it is spring, there is moonlight, you have passed
an exam, you have champagne and a girl who is really very attractive.
Yet you say that you're unhappy. Youth is very demanding.
HENRIK: But I don't love her.
FREDRIK: Another reason to be content.
HENRIK: We have sinned and it was a complete failure.
FREDRIK: If you're thrown, mount again before you become
frightened. That rule can be applied both to love and horseback riding.
HENRIK: Oh, how sickening.
Fredrik shrugs his shoulders and sips his wine. Henrik sits down on
an uncomfortable chair.
FREDRIK: Why do you have to mix up everything, my boy? Sex is
the young boy's and old man's toy. Love is ... is . . . hmm ...
HENRIK: So young men cannot love.
FREDRIK: Yes, of course. A young man always loves himself,
loves his self-love, and his love of love itself.
HENRIK (ironic): But at your mature age, of course, one knows what
it means to love.
FREDRIK: I think so.
HENRIK (ironic): That must be wonderful.
FREDRIK: It's terrible, my son, and one doesn't know how to stand
it. HENRIK: Are you being sincere now, Father?
His father makes a small grimace which is supposed to be a smile.
Henrik looks at him almost shyly.
HENRIK: You can't imagine how kind Petra was. "Better luck next
time," she said laughingly.
FREDRIK: What did you say? Yes, of course. The premiere is
always a miserable farce, my boy, and it's very lucky that women don't
take it half as seriously as we do, because then the human race would
HENRIK: You make fun of everything.
Petra stands in the door of the bedroom. She says something into
the room and then turns to Fredrik Egerman.
PETRA: Your wife wants to say good night to you, sir.
Fredrik immediately rises but stops at the door and looks with
amusement at the youngsters. Henrik blushes deeply and shamefully,
but Petra smiles back with happy, mischievous eyes.
FREDRIK: You are a capable girl, Petra! I'll see that you get an
increase in salary from the first.
The bedroom is dark except for the soft gleam of a small, flickering
night lamp. The large bed shimmers at the rear of the room, but Fredrik
can't see his wife's face. He is greeted by a sorrowful little voice which
he barely recognizes.
ANNE: Can't you sit down over there in the chair? No, you mustn't
come closer because I've cried so much that my face is completely
Fredrik sits down in the big chair, lights his pipe and draws some
ANNE: It's nice when you smoke a pipe. Then everything becomes
FREDRIK: How do you feel, little girl?
ANNE: Am I a worthless person?
FREDRIK: You are a great joy to many people.
ANNE: Am I really? But one can't be a success from the very
beginning, of course. Do you love me? You mustn't love anyone else.
FREDRIK: My little child.
ANNE: That's what you always say. Have you loved many women?
Were they beautiful? Sometimes I become frightened of all your
FREDRIK: Before you and I were married, I was rather lonely.
Sometimes I thought that I wasn't even truly real.
ANNE: Do you remember when I was a little girl and you came to
my father's and mother's home at night and told fairy tales to me until I
fell asleep? Do you remember that?
FREDRIK: Yes, I do.
ANNE: Then you were "Uncle Fredrik" and now you are my
husband. (Giggles) Isn't it funny? Now I have to laugh, even though
There are a few moments of silence.
ANNE: If you won't look at me, you may come here and hug me.
Fredrik gets up from the chair, walks over to the bed, sits down at
the edge and leans over his wife. She puts her arms around him and
pulls him down toward her cheek.
ANNE: Would you be jealous?
ANNE: If Henrik began courting me? Or if I became a little
infatuated with him? I say this only as an example.
FREDRIK: What silly ideas you have.
ANNE: Would you be jealous? Tell me.
FREDRIK: I can't answer if I'm not allowed to sit up. Yes,
I think that I would be jealous, because you are so young
and I am so old (in a low voice) and because I love you both.
ANNE: Yes, you are really terribly old. Why did you marry me? Can you answer that?
FREDRIK: Is this a cross-examination?
ANNE: Maybe you thought that I was pretty.
FREDRIK: Yes, of course. Very pretty.
ANNE: Different from your other women.
FREDRIK: That too.
ANNE: And I was only sixteen years old then.
FREDRIK: Yes, yes, that too.
ANNE: And I was a good housekeeper and almost always happy.
FREDRIK: You made me happy.
ANNE: So the wolf thought: I wonder how it would taste with a really young girl?
FREDRIK: Do you think so?
ANNE: Admit that the wolf thought wicked thoughts.
FREDRIK: Yes, perhaps the wolf thought sometimes—
ANNE: And then the wolf was disappointed.
FREDRIK: Why would he be disappointed?
She doesn't answer, but pulls him closer and holds him fast.
ANNE: You were so lonely and sad that summer, I felt terribly sorry for you, and then
we were engaged and it was I who suggested it. You silly goose, have you forgotten?
FREDRIK: One becomes so forgetful when one gets old.
ANNE: Now I'm going to sleep.
She seeks out his mouth and kisses him passionately. He returns the kiss, but she
withdraws immediately and looks smilingly at him.
ANNE: One day I will become your wife, really, and then we will have a child.
FREDRIK: Yes, of course.
ANNE: You must be patient with me.
Fredrik nods quietly and pulls away from her. She holds his hand
tightly and presses it against her mouth. Then she yawns.
ANNE: Are you going to bed right away?
FREDRIK: I may sit up for a little while.
ANNE: Then good night.
She rolls herself over into a sleeping position and Fredrik quietly
sneaks toward the door.
ANNE: That wasn't an amusing play.
FREDRIK: But we didn't see much of it.
ANNE: I wonder how old that Armfeldt woman can be.
FREDRIK: I don't really know.
ANNE: Definitely fifty. What do you think?
FREDRIK: Oh no, I don't think so.
ANNE: Good night.
FREDRIK: Good night.
Fredrik tiptoes out of the bedroom and carefully closes the door.
The drawing room is empty. The champagne bottle still stands on the
table. He begins to walk along the edge of the carpet; he is
bewildered and thoughtful. The door to Henrik's room stands ajar.
From the dark corridor Fredrik can see Petra sitting in a rocking chair.
She yawns and becomes rather distracted. From inside the room a
stubborn murmur is heard. It is Henrik, who is reading aloud about
HENRIK: Virtue is a continuous thing which must not be
interrupted because if Virtue is interrupted, it is no longer Virtue. Nor
does newly resolved and recently acquired
Virtue deserve the name of Virtue. Virtue always stands opposed not
only to the indecent action but also, and even more, to the shameless
thought or imagined act. Virtue places a weapon in the hand of the
Virtuous, and although temptation implies an attack, it does not nec-
essarily mean a downfall. About all this Martin Luther says . . . But you
aren't listening to what I'm reading.
PETRA: I'm listening carefully, but I don't understand it.
HENRIK: So you sit there and think about something else. PETRA
(hurt): No, I'm not thinking of that at all. I was thinking about your
HENRIK: My father is an old cynic.
PETRA: I think that he's nice. He has such piercing eyes. When your
father looks at me, I can feel all my curves tingling.
HENRIK: You are wanton and voluptuous, do you know that?
PETRA (sighs): It's such a pity that you're so sweet at one end and so
complicated at the other.
HENRIK: What do you mean by that?
PETRA: Nothing really. You are as sweet as a little puppy.
The girl giggles delightedly and rocks in the chair. Henrik looks at
her with dark seriousness.
HENRIK: Why does temptation have a beautiful face, and why is the
straight and narrow path so rocky? Can you tell me why?
PETRA: I guess that's because you need something nice to look at
when you walk there among the stones.
Henrik sighs and shakes his head; so does Fredrik Egerman in the
darkness. Petra gets up from the rocking chair and pats the boy on the
cheek. Then she yawns and walks out, up to her room. Henrik slams the
book to the floor
and is very unhappy. His father steals away quietly and unnoticed.
When Fredrik enters the backstage of the theater, the night's
performance has just ended and the actors are taking their bows. The
man who pulls the curtain works like a monkey on his ropes and the
houselights are turned up.
Finally Desiree stands alone, acclaimed with flowers and applause.
The curtain descends, she walks off, stands relaxed with a bowed head
right beside Fredrik but oblivious to him. The applause continues, the
curtain goes up. Just as the actress is about to go on again for the last
curtain call, she discovers him standing there. Her face, which is small
and tired, lights up. She offers him her hand and grasps his, presses it
without a word and then walks on the stage.
Now the curtain falls for the last time and the audience becomes
quiet. The stage hands take over the theater. Desiree walks off, hands
her flowers to a little lady dressed in a black smock and an old straw
Desiree takes his hand again. Followed by her wardrobe mistress,
she leads him upstairs and along a long corridor where some oil lamps
burn with sleepy yellow flames.
Desiree's dressing room is large but with a low ceiling. There are two
small windows covered by painted window shades. In the center of the
room is the make-up table and at the far wall stands a ceiling-high
mirror. A high screen, some comfortable armchairs, a divan and a large
bathtub filled with water complete the interior. On the table are four
bottles of beer and a plate of thick, tempting sandwiches.
As soon as Desiree has pulled Fredrik into the dressing room and
Malla, the wardrobe mistress, has closed the door, she embraces him
with great warmth.
She caresses his cheeks and looks into his eyes. She is almost a little
DESIREE: Fredrik. How nice. Do you want a sandwich?
FREDRIK: Yes, thank you.
Malla has served the foamy beer and begins to take off Desiree's
DESIREE: I become so terribly hungry.
Both eat sandwiches silently and drink beer. Fredrik is a little
uncomfortable at having his mouth full of food.
Desiree takes off her dress, stepping out of it as if she were Venus
emerging from her shell. The stays follow it. She draws her breath so
that her ribs creak.
DESIREE: Oh God! Now I can live again. Sit down! No, not there.
She leads him to the divan and stands opposite him with her legs
slightly apart, while she continues munching happily on her sandwich.
In her other hand she holds a glass of beer.
DESIREE: But, Fredrik, you're blushing.
FREDRIK: I guess it's because you smell so good.
DESIREE: Same perfume as always.
FREDRIK: Yes, that's why.
DESIREE: And you've gotten married.
FREDRIK: Yes, I have remarried. It became a bit lonely to
DESIREE: Get up. Come here. Now give me another hug.
Fredrik rises obediently and walks over to her. She puts her
sandwich on the table, puts down both their beer glasses
and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. Then she puts her
bare arms around his waist, presses him close to her and looks
smilingly into his eyes.
DESIREE: You have troubles, don't you?
FREDRIK: Is it that noticeable?
DESIREE: You old goat, you brute, you long-nosed camel, how
unusually human you look.
FREDRIK: Thanks for the compliments. DESIREE: Have you got
a pain in the old pump, or the heart as most people call it?
FREDRIK: That isn't why I came.
DESIREE: No indeed. It has always been your most noble feelings
which led you to Desiree.
FREDRIK: Yes, it's really funny. Today when I took a nap before
dinner with my wife, I began dreaming of you in a—hmm—short
dream of you. Suddenly I realized that I had been whispering your
name in my sleep over and over again while I caressed my wife.
Fortunately, I don't think that Anne noticed anything.
DESIREE (laughs): Dear Lord, how touching! "In his dreams she
was always alive."
She pushes him away from her with a dissatisfied, hurt expression
and returns to her beer and sandwich.
FREDRIK (politely): I didn't know that you had become
cruel in your old age.
DESIREE : Old, old—what are you saying? For the past three
years I've been twenty-nine, and that's no age for a woman
of my age.
FREDRIK: My young wife guessed that you must be around
fifty. What do you say to that?
DESIREE: What a little shrew! (Seriously) Fredrik! I'm
sure she knows about it.
FREDRIK: What does she know?
DESIREE: Whatever you said in your dreams about me.
FREDRIK: Now that I think about it, she was rather upset.
She cried and asked me the strangest questions. Anne is no goose.
DESIREE: She can't be if she risked marrying you.
Fredrik suddenly becomes serious. He presses his palms
together and stares at his finger tips in embarrassment.
FREDRIK: If you won't laugh, I'll tell you something.
DESIREE: Do you want some more beer or another sandwich?
He shakes his head and Desiree lights a small cigar, which she
smokes with satisfaction.
DESIREE: Well, what were you going to say?
FREDRIK: Oh, laugh if you want to, but Anne and I have been
married for two years and I have not—in short, she is still untouched.
Desiree splutters with laughter and gets some smoke caught in
her throat. Fredrik smiles a little sourly.
DESIREE: Now the world is really going awry when the wolf
turns into a tender shepherd.
FREDRIK: She's frightened of me and I understand her.-
There are a few moments of silence. Desiree sits at her make-up
table with her back toward Fredrik, but she hasn't started removing
the grease paint. The wardrobe mistress has departed.
FREDRIK: I want her to mature calmly and quietly. I want her to
come to me one day, without fear, of her own free will and not as a
duty or by force.
DESIREE: It sounds as though you love her.
FREDRIK: That's a dirtied word. But if I ever loved anyone,
it is that girl.
DESIREE: Fredrik Egerman loves! It isn't possible.
Desiree's voice trembles a bit. Fredrik raises his head; he looks
tired and old.
FREDRIK: One gets such strange ideas with the passing years. I
mean things like consideration and tenderness and caution . . . and . . .
and . . . yes, love.
DESIREE: What a remarkable girl she is to have enabled you to
be hurt by something besides a toothache or an ingrown toenail.
FREDRIK: When I come home in the afternoon, she embraces me
and laughs because she is happy that I'm home. She is as obstinate as
a spoiled child; she has a violent temper and becomes terribly angry.
She is so full of life that my old house has started to settle and the
walls have begun to crack. She is tender and affectionate, she likes
me to smoke my pipe, she likes me . . . as if I were her father.
Fredrik gets up violently and begins to pace the floor. Desiree says
nothing and plays with a silver box on the table. A smile passes
across her lips every so often, but her eyes are serious.
FREDRIK: Dear Lord, I'm a grown man. The old buck only
too often raises his ugly head and brays right in my face and
then I become discontented and angry with myself because
it wasn't exactly what I intended.
DESIREE: And what do you want from me?
FREDRIK: I want you to tell me that it's hopeless with Anne.
Or the opposite. Or anything else.
DESIREE: How can I do that without knowing her?
FREDRIK: You must help me, Desiree. You must help me
for the sake of an old friendship.
DESIREE (laughs): Well, that's one reason, isn't it?
Fredrik stops in front of her, takes her by the shoulders and meets
her glance in the mirror.
FREDRIK: Regardless of all our magnificent moments of
love, you are my only friend in the world. The only human
being to whom I've dared show myself in all my terrible
DESIREE: Spiritual nakedness, I assume.
FREDRIK: Well, will you help me?
DESIREE: And what do I get in return?
FREDRIK: I have a young son; you may take him.
DESIREE: Shame on you.
FREDRIK: A riding horse, a fine runner.
DESIREE: That's not enough.
FREDRIK: A string of genuine pearls.
DESIREE: I have as many as I want.
FREDRIK: You'll get your reward in heaven, then.
Desiree pinches his little finger with her sharpest nails so that it
begins to bleed.
DESIREE: No, Fredrik Egerman, I want my reward in this world.
There is a knock on the door and the wardrobe mistress enters.
She brings some articles of clothing. The silk rustles and from the
old woman's gray arms gushes a cascade of white lace.
DESIREE: Will you excuse me while I dress?
FREDRIK: Of course. Do you want me to leave?
DESIREE: Don't be silly.
She goes behind the screen and with the help of her wardrobe
mistress she is freed from one undergarment after another.
FREDRIK: It's still bleeding.
DESIREE: Have you some warm water, Malla?
MALLA: What do you think, my little girl? Here's a tub full of
They both dive down behind the screen and loud splashing is
DESIREE: Come here a moment.
He walks up to the screen.
DESIREE: Am I as beautiful as then? Have the years changed
me? Answer honestly.
FREDRIK: You are as beautiful and as desirable. The years
have given your body the perfection which perfection itself
lacks, an excitement which perfection does not have.
DESIREE: Did you read that in a book?
FREDRIK: You inspire me so that I surprise myself. I read
DESIREE: This is the end of the demonstration. Go sit down on
Fredrik laughs and shakes his head, but walks obediently away
from the screen. Now Desiree steps out draped in a full-length bath
towel. She raises her hands and arms in a regal movement.
DESIREE: "Oh pain that I have never felt before!
Saved I myself but for a wound more sore?
Each pain I suffered in the heated course Of past love's
glow, with all its cruel remorse And insult's scorch which
so unbearably bums Only foretold the way my heart now
For a moment she allows herself to be carried away by her
declamation. Her eyes darken, she clenches her hands and then she
looks up just as suddenly and smiles almost embarrassedly.
DESIREE: That was Madame Fedra, very pathetic but a bit of a
Malla, who has watched all this with great patience from under her
old straw hat, finally takes the floor.
MALLA: Desiree, do you intend to perform that way for the rest
of the night or am I going to get a chance to dress you? DESIREE:
Oh, now you're becoming sour, Malla.
MALLA: Malla isn't sour, but she is sleepy. DESIREE: If I didn't
have Malla to keep after me, I'd be a straw in the wind.
Desiree is suddenly girlish and submissive. She pats the old
woman so that it can be heard and allows herself to be dressed
MALLA: Dammit, she's a straw in the wind anyway.
DESIREE: Do you think this gentleman is handsome and
someone to be considered seriously?
MALLA: I know Fredrik Egerman well. There's never anything
definite with him, we both know that.
DESIREE: No, with him there's nothing definite.
MALLA: You are coming of age, Desiree, and before you know it
you'll be on the wrong side of springtime and well into the summer.
DESIREE: I threw away my youth on the wrong men, Malla
MALLA: Recklessness has its time, and so has seriousness.
But you mustn't become a spinster with too many scratches
DESIREE: Where did you put my red gown?
MALLA: Are you going to a party?
DESIREE: I'm going to a party with Fredrik Egerman. We
shall awaken old memories.
Fredrik lifts his head and looks at Desiree for a moment. Desiree
returns his look, smiling a little provocatively.
DESIREE: You are hereby solemnly invited for a glass of wine.
She disappears into her red gown, which is an explosion of
gorgeous flowers and foaming silk. At the same moment there is a
knock on the door and the stage manager sticks in his thin, ulcerous
FERDINAND: Do you intend to stay here all night, or when
can a poor, sick man close the theater and go home to
pamper his ulcer?
DESIREE: Ferdinand, you are sad! Here are two bottles of
beer. Take the rest of the sandwiches and this bouquet
home to your wife, if you have a wife, and then you may
kick me in the bottom.
FERDINAND: Yes, but why? There's no premiere now.
MALLA (sour): No, but perhaps a return premiere.
DESIREE: Keep quiet now, Malla. Don't be silly.
Then Ferdinand grasps the situation and his strange, inebriated
face is split in half by a big grin. He takes hold of Desiree and kicks
her twice in the bottom with bent knee.
FERDINAND: She has something in the behind, that girl.
FREDRIK: And something in front as well.
DESIREE: And also at the very top, but no one believes it.
MALLA: Nor do I.
They march out of the theater. Ferdinand, who seems almost
intoxicated, waves goodbye and the heavy gate closes behind them.
Overhead the moon shines enormously from the clear, colorless sky.
Like a little witch out of some fairy tale, Malla patters ahead, bent
over her lantern. Fredrik and Desiree follow after her, walking arm in
arm in the middle of the narrow street. The trees cast enormous black
shadows. From the river the water's continuous murmuring is heard.
Now Desiree begins to sing; first she hums, and then the words come
DESIREE (sings): "Gone are worries, grief and sadness. This is a
place for love and gladness. Let us then be happy here, Take pleasure
in love, my dear. Love is wisdom's law on earth. Love is life in
Malla opens a heavy gate and they enter a dark passage paved
with large cobblestones.
DESIREE (in the dark): Watch out, Fredrik, there's a big puddle
here. Look out that you don't . . .
The small lantern sways helplessly and cannot light up this sudden
darkness after the strong moonlight. A shuffling of feet, a sudden
splash, a muffled curse and then Desiree's laughter. Malla brings the
lantern to light up the sad scene. Fredrik sits in the puddle, wet and
dirty up to his ears.
Desiree laughs unrestrainedly. Malla offers a helping hand, but
Fredrik is annoyed and gets up by himself.
DESIREE: Oh, now we can really pamper our guest. Really,
really take care of him so that he doesn't catch a cold or get an ache.
They walk across a yard where a large linden tree whispers in the
night wind, up a little stairs and onto a porch.
Malla unlocks the door with its tinted windowpanes and then they
DESIREE: You'll have to take off your clothes in the kitchen. I'll
look around to see if we have something for you to wear. Malla, will
you make a hot toddy?
Light in the kitchen. Desiree brings a robe, a nightshirt and a
nightcap, and disappears. Malla is busy at the stove. Fredrik shrugs
his shoulders resignedly and loosens his wet clothing; he is rather
embarrassed. Malla grins and blows on the tinder.
The small drawing room is beautifully furnished in contemporary
style. Desiree kneels in front of the open fireplace and is busy
making a lively fire when Fredrik enters dressed in slippers, robe and
DESIREE: You must also wear the nightcap.
FREDRIK: Only under protest.
DESIREE: You might catch a cold. You should wear a
Laughingly she places it on his head and leads him to the mirror.
He looks at himself with a serious expression.
FREDRIK: How can a woman ever love a man—can you answer
DESIREE: A woman's point of view is seldom aesthetic, and in
the worst cases you can always turn off the light.
FREDRIK: And to whom do these clothes belong?
DESIREE (ironically): A man.
FREDRIK: Yes, but it's for—
DESIREE: Would you prefer to sit here in the nude?
FREDRIK: And if he comes?
DESIREE: Don't worry. He's on maneuvers.
FREDRIK: So he's in the army.
DESIREE: And what's wrong with the military? Under their
uniforms they're remarkably like other men.
FREDRIK: Is he a dragoon?
DESIREE: A very handsome man.
FREDRIK: Are you in love?
DESIREE: That's no concern of yours.
FREDRIK: Why do I sound so jealous, by the way? Ha!
DESIREE: Yes. Why so jealous?
FREDRIK: Why? (Lightly) Many since that time?
DESIREE: No. One tires of the meaningless rides which always
become so lonely.
DESIREE: One suddenly finds oneself thinking of something else.
FREDRIK: With a yawn?
DESIREE: I don't know. Besides, one always longs for something
one cannot have.
She fans the fire with a pair of large hand bellows. Then something
The door to another room is slowly opened and both of them turn
around. Nothing is seen at first; then a boy about four years old
appears, dressed in a long nightshirt. He marches through the room
and marches out through another door without taking notice of
Fredrik and Desiree.
FREDRIK: What was that?
DESIREE: That was Fredrik.
DESIREE: Yes, Fredrik.
DESIREE: How strange you look.
FREDRIK: Have ... I ... I mean have you ... I mean ... it isn't
possible, or is it?
DESIREE (laughs): Look at Fredrik Egerman now. He's terribly
shaken and as pale as a pickled herring. At the same time he's a little
nattered, touched and terribly sentimental. "Desiree, my love, have
you been struggling along by yourself all these years, sacrificing
everything for our love's pawn?"
Now the door opens again and the boy marches right up to Desiree,
who lifts him and carries him toward the bedroom.
FREDRIK: Answer my question.
DESIREE: The child is mine and mine alone.
FREDRIK (his voice rising in a squeak): But his name is Fredrik.
DESIREE: Named after Fredrik the Great of Prussia.
She goes into the bedroom. Fredrik is still standing there, as if
someone had driven a nail through him. From the darkness of the
adjoining room, Desiree's voice is heard.
DESIREE: And I can tell you one thing: if I should have a child it
wouldn't be with you.
She comes out again and closes the door behind her.
FREDRIK: You are not fit to have a child.
He gets a lightninglike slap that sends his nightcap
down over his ears. His cheek flames bright crimson with the
mark of a strong and determined hand. At that moment Malla enters
with a steaming hot toddy made of red wine.
DESIREE: You can drink your toddy and then go.
MALLA: May I wish you both good night?
DESIREE: You're always the same. Dead serious when you are
involved, but cynical and stupid when it comes to others.
FREDRIK: May I say something ...
DESIREE: No, you may not. This is a historic moment. You
have finally been stricken by tremors of feeling above the navel.
This is terribly interesting and touching. (Angry) But I also have
FREDRIK: Calm down now, Desiree.
DESIREE: I am completely calm; it's you who's making the
noise. Can I help it if I have a temper?
FREDRIK: May I say one thing?
DESIREE (angrier): I've said no. You big baboon, I'd like to see
you so ground down into the dirt that not a trace of you is left
FREDRIK: I've suffered quite a bit.
DESIREE: You've suffered! From what? Tight shoes? Lawyer
Fredrik Egerman, whose head is always as orderly as his desk.
FREDRIK (in a loud voice): Now I want to talk.
DESIREE: No! I'll do the talking and when I talk, I'll talk even if
I have nothing to say, but I am so furious with you that I forgot what
I was thinking about and that's so typical of you. Well, what were
you going to say?
FREDRIK: I've forgotten.
MALLA: May I go to bed?
DESIREE: Good night, Malla.
The old lady departs with a sigh. Fredrik sips his toddy.
DESIREE: Do you want sugar?
PREDRIK: No, thanks.
Silence again. The clock on the wall strikes one. Desiree sits
down in one of the armchairs near the fire. She rests her head in her
hand and looks tired. Fredrik reaches out and touches her arm.
FREDRIK: Forgive my thoughtlessness.
DESIREE: I guess you know what loneliness means too. Despite
a young wife and a grown son. FREDRIK (smiles): Sometimes it
seems to me as if my house is a kindergarten for love.
DESIREE: That's very suitable.
FREDRIK: The two of us were adults anyway. We knew what
we were doing.
DESIREE: So we were adults. We knew what we were doing.
Especially when we called it off. Correct?
FREDRIK: It was you who ended it. Not me.
DESIREE: How bitter that sounded.
FREDRIK: I would like to remind you, Madame, that you can on
occasion be rather inconsiderate.
DESIREE: I got a chance and took it.
FREDRIK: A paunchy, balding actor.
DESIREE: He was kind, talented, and a very good lover.
FREDRIK: And then goodbye to me!
DESIREE: What could you give me? Security? A future? Were
you even in love with me? I was a nice playmate, a pretty thing to
boast about to your bachelor friends. Did you ever intend to marry
FREDRIK: Well, I ... my former wife had just died . . .
DESIREE: Don't be stupid. Did you intend to marry me?
FREDRIK: It's possible that I didn't intend to at that time.
DESIREE: There, you see. Besides, you amused yourself rather
easily with other women. Do you deny that?
FREDRIK: No, but you were headquarters.
DESIREE: When I think of how I let myself be treated, I almost
become angry again. You were a real scoundrel, Fredrik Egerman.
FREDRIK: Why do you get so angry? And why do you quarrel,
slap me, call me all kinds of ugly names?
DESIREE: You've always had a long memory.
FREDRIK: Oh, long memory, long memory. Who was it that
started to dig into the past?
DESIREE: Why does it matter to me if you love your little child
bride and can't master her? Do you think that I give a hoot if your
heart is bleeding? Just let it bleed and feel how it hurts.
FREDRIK: I thought that we were friends, but now I see that I'm
mistaken and I curse my honesty of a moment ago.
DESIREE: Why should I be friends with you, you who have never
had any other friend but yourself?
FREDRIK: In that case, I'm exactly like you.
DESIREE: I have the theater, sir, and the theater is my life and I
am a rather talented actress. And I don't need to ask help from anyone
on this earth, except to tie my corset.
Fredrik sets his glass down with a thud and gets up. He is rather
FREDRIK: And that's why we will now say good night. In the
future, my dreams will be strictly monogamous.
DESIREE: I'll be most grateful if I may be spared participation in
your shameful fantasies, my dear sir!
FREDRIK: I'll try to forget that you even exist. I don't intend
seeing you at the theater either, my dear Miss Armfeldt.
DESIREE: I'm extremely happy that I don't have to risk your
presence on the other side of the footlights, my dear sir.
FREDRIK: Besides, I didn't think you were particularly good as
the Countess. It should definitely have been played by
one of the theater's younger members. But you still have a name.
DESIREE: Watch out, Fredrik Egerman, that one of your family's
younger members doesn't take your role.
At that moment a heavy pounding is heard on the door. Fredrik
turns around and looks at Desiree, who seems a bit frightened for a
FREDRIK: Who is that?
DESIREE: I'm afraid it's Malcolm.
FREDRIK: You mean the dragoon?
DESIREE: I guess I'll have to go and open the door.
FREDRIK: I forbid you to open it.
DESIREE: Are you frightened?
FREDRIK: Desiree! A gentleman can't meet his rival without
his trousers on.
Now the pounding on the door resumes, this time with emphasis.
Malla's anxious little rat-face appears at the door. Fredrik opens his
mouth to say something, but sits down again, dumfounded.
DESIREE: Go, Malla, you open it.
FREDRIK: Now you're relishing it.
DESIREE: I must warn you that Malcolm is very jealous.
FREDRIK: Is he armed?
DESIREE: Oh, he could wipe the floor with you without a
weapon, if he's in the mood.
FREDRIK: Maybe I can hide somewhere . . .
DESIREE: We're not on the stage, dear Fredrik.
FREDRIK: But, dammit, it's still a farce.
Now steps are heard in the hallway. A voice speaks to Malla. The
steps become louder and a captain. Count Carl-
Magnus Malcolm, enters. He is a tall, obviously handsome man
with fine features and unusually large eyes. He walks straight over to
Desiree and kisses her hand.
MALCOLM: Please excuse the dust and grime. Just outside town
my faithful horse, Rummel, fell. Here are some simple flowers which
I managed to pick from a nearby garden. I didn't want to come
DESIREE: How delightful, dear Carl-Magnus, and what beautiful
flowers. Are you staying long?
MALCOLM: I have twenty hours' leave. Three hours coming
here, nine hours for you, five hours for my wife, and three hours
back—that makes twenty hours. Do you mind if I remove my
uniform and put on my robe?
DESIREE: I'm sorry, but it's taken.
MALCOLM: I can see that, but I thought that it would be
available in a few moments.
DESIREE: May I present Mr. Egerman—Count Malcolm.
DESIREE: Lawyer Egerman fell in the puddle just outside the
door. MALCOLM: I hope that you didn't hurt yourself;
FREDRIK: Not at all. Not a scratch.
MALCOLM: I'm happy for you. Are you visiting Mademoiselle
Armfeldt in a professional capacity at this time of night?
DESIREE: We are old friends.
MALCOLM: I also see that my nightshirt is being used. It fits
well, I hope. Not too small or too large.
FREDRIK: Thank you, it fits excellently. Neither too small or too
DESIREE: I'll go into the kitchen and see if your clothes are dry.
Don't you think I should, Fredrik?
Desiree departs. She looks as if she were enjoying the situation.
The two men eye each other coldly. Malcolm begins
paring an apple and whistles a tune. At the same time, Fredrik
strikes up a little song quite timidly. Malcolm suddenly becomes
silent. Fredrik also shuts up.
MALCOLM: For the past six months Mademoiselle Armfeldt has
been my mistress. I am extremely jealous. Other husbands are
generally ashamed of this weakness. I am not ashamed. I admit
frankly that I don't tolerate lap dogs, cats, or so-called old friends.
Have I made myself quite clear?
FREDRIK: There is no possibility of my misunderstanding you.
MALCOLM: Are you fond of duels, sir?
FREDRIK: It's possible. I've never tried.
MALCOLM: I have dueled eighteen times. Pistol, rapier, foil,
spear, bow and arrow, poison, hunting rifle. I've been wounded six
times, but otherwise fortune has been kind to me, or else I've profited
from that "cold rage" which, according to the great Commander
August Sommer, creates the victorious soldier.
FREDRIK: I am really very impressed.
MALCOLM: Do you see this fruit knife? I'll throw it across the
room and the target will be the photograph of that old lady. Her face,
her eye. Watch.
Malcolm throws the knife; with a hard, dead sound it lands and
sticks in its target.
FREDRIK: You ought to perform in a circus.
Malcolm doesn't answer, but bites into his apple and observes
Fredrik with his big, completely calm eyes.
MALCOLM: You are a lawyer?
FREDRIK: At your service.
MALCOLM: I consider your profession a kind of parasite on
FREDRIK: I must express my admiration of your military
bluntness. By the way, will there be war?
MALCOLM: Why should there be a war?
FREDRIK: Yes, I wonder too.
MALCOLM: Are you being insolent?
FREDRIK: Of course.
Malcolm changes his position and places one leg across the other.
A vein swells on his temple, but he doesn't answer. Desiree enters.
DESIREE: Well, have you enjoyed yourselves?
FREDRIK: The Count has been extremely entertaining. Are
my clothes dry?
DESIREE: Not at all.
MALCOLM: Then you may borrow my nightshirt to go
Desiree hears the tone, sees the thick vein at Carl-Magnus' temple
and turns, a little frightened, to Fredrik, but the smile still glitters in
DESIREE: Perhaps it's just as well that you accept Carl-Magnus'
MALCOLM: The robe I will keep—that is, if you have no
FREDRIK: I thank you for your generosity, but in that case I
prefer to put on my own clothes even if they are wet.
MALCOLM: Unfortunately you won't have time for that, Mr.
Egerman. It's very late and you are in a great hurry.
DESIREE (anxiously): Do what he says.
FREDRIK: Good night.
MALCOLM: Good night.
DESIREE: Good night.
A few minutes later, Fredrik finds himself in the hallway.
After a few more moments he stands in the yard.
It is the beginning of dawn. Birds in the large linden tree have
started to sing their morning concert. The air is very fresh and it's
cold. Fredrik shivers. When he reaches the street, he hears a step
behind him, and turns. It is old Malla, who comes running.
MALLA: Here are your clothes. Desiree sends her best regards
and says that you shouldn't take it too hard.
FREDRIK: Thank you. That was kind.
MALLA: She sent her regards and said that she thought the
quarrel was very stimulating.
FREDRIK: So that's what she said.
MALLA: She said she was sorry that there were obstacles.
FREDRIK: Obstacles? Which?
MALLA: She said that she had expected a lot from the rec-
onciliation, whatever she meant by that.
Fredrik stands there slightly bewildered and looks after the old
woman until the door shuts behind her. At that moment, a policeman
POLICEMAN: Good morning, Mr. Egerman.
FREDRIK: Good morning. Constable. POLICEMAN: Have
you been walking in your sleep?
FREDRIK: No, I've been to a party.
Fredrik smiles. The policeman nods and salutes. The two' men
part with mutual esteem.
Early, very early in the morning, Desiree orders a hansom cab and
starts out for Ryarps Castle to visit her mother, old Mrs. Armfeldt.
She gets out of the hansom cab and walks up the steps to the
terrace, into the hallway and through the big, bright dining room.
She climbs the stairs, turns down a corridor and knocks at the door
of the bedroom.
It is a very large room and old Mrs. Armfeldt is a very small lady.
She sits in her bed, which is also enormous, and amuses herself with
her morning solitaire. When her daughter enters, she looks up,
OLD LADY: What has happened now to bring my daughter Desiree
here at seven in the morning?
Desiree leans over the old lady, who allows herself to be kissed on
the cheek. She sits down on the edge of the bed and butters some
bread from the breakfast tray, which stands at the side of the bed.
DESIREE: I've broken off with Count Malcolm. OLD
LADY: Someone else? DESIREE: Maybe. OLD LADY: Do I
know him? DESIREE. Maybe. OLD LADY: Better or worse?
DESIREE: It depends on how you look at it. Besides, he doesn't
know about his promotion. OLD LADY: Now the game is completed.
DESIREE: If you cheat a little, it always comes out. OLD LADY: You
are wrong there. Solitaire is the only thing in life which demands
absolute honesty. What were we talking about?
DESIREE: About my intended.
OLD LADY: That's an interesting subject. (Yawns) At least for you,
my girl. Why did it end between you and the Count, by the way?
DESIREE: He threatened me with a poker. OLD LADY: That was
ungracious of the Count. But he probably had his reasons.
DESIREE: For once, I was really innocent. OLD LADY: In that
case it must have been rather early in the evening. What did you do?
DESIREE: I hit the Count on the head with the poker. OLD LADY:
What did the Count say to that? DESIREE: We decided to part
without bitterness. OLD LADY: A very good idea. A cast-off lover on
good terms can be most useful. What were you saying, by the way?
DESIREE: I suppose we were talking about what we were talking
OLD LADY: Things were different in my youth. Once your father
threw me out the window. DESIREE: Was it open?
OLD LADY: No, it was closed. I fell right on the head of a
lieutenant colonel. Later he became your father. DESIREE: Wasn't
it my father who threw you out? OLD LADY: He became your father
later. Can't you hear me? God, how I loved him. DESIREE: Which
OLD LADY: The one who threw me out the window, of course. The
other one was a beast. He could never do anything amusing.
DESIREE: Why don't you write your memoirs? OLD LADY: Dear
daughter, I got this mansion for promising not to write my memoirs.
What were we talking about? DESIREE: I thought you might
arrange a party for me. OLD LADY: Did I promise that? I can't recall.
DESIREE: For once, dear Mother, say yes. OLD LADY: Bring the
invitation cards. Who will come? If they are actors they will have to
eat in the stables.
The old lady takes pen and ink and correspondence cards. She sits
herself upright in the bed and seems a bit stimulated by the thought
of a party.
DESIREE: The Count and Countess Malcolm. Lawyer Egerman,
his wife and his son, Henrik. OLD LADY: And your intentions?
DESIREE: I intend to do a good deed.
OLD LADY: Watch out for good deeds, my girl. They cost
too much and then they smell rather bad.
DESIREE: You don't know how good this deed will be.
Desiree takes a few paces around the room. She seems uneasy but
rather excited. The old lady sucks on the top of the penholder like a
reluctant school girl.
OLD LADY: A lawyer is always good to have around.
DESIREE: Sometimes I admire your muddled astuteness.
OLD LADY: Do you really love that ass?
DESIREE: Which one?
OLD LADY: Which one do you mean?
DESIREE: That one! Yes, I love him.
OLD LADY: That's what I've always said. "Desiree, you worry
me! You have altogether too much character, but then, you
are like your father!"
DESIREE: Which one? I can take my choice.
OLD LADY: What did you say?
DESIREE: You don't listen.
OLD LADY: I've never listened.
DESIREE: Is that why you're so healthy, in spite of your
OLD LADY: If people only knew how unhealthy it is to listen
to what people say they never would and then they would
feel so much better. Was it something important we were
DESIREE: Is anything important to you?
OLD LADY: I'm tired of people, but it doesn't stop me from
DESIREE: That was well said.
OLD LADY: Yes, wasn't it! I could have had them stuffed and
hung in long rows, as many as I wanted.
DESIREE: Are the invitations finished?
OLD LADY: I think that I've done particularly well with the
DESIREE: Thank you. I'll take them.
The old lady has shrunk. Desiree kisses her cheek. The old lady
pats her daughter on the forehead.
OLD LADY: You can never protect a single human being from
suffering. That's what makes one so terribly tired.
Desiree turns around at the door and waves to the old lady. She
returns the farewell with a tiny hand.
The captain. Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, shoots fast and
skillfully. Each morning he practices with a pistol on his private range
in the skittles pavilion. At his side stands his batman, Niklas, loading
the weapons. He is a young scoundrel of twenty with a shock of
yellow hair and happy eyes.
NIKLAS: Yes, Captain.
MALCOLM: Semiramis will be saddled at nine. Understood?
NIKLAS: Understood, sir.
MALCOLM: Moreover, you will arrange to have fifty red roses
sent to Mademoiselle Desiree Armfeldt with my compliments, and
fifty-five yellow roses sent to my wife without my compliments. Is
that clear? NIKLAS: That's clear, sir.
Malcolm fires the last shot, blows the smoke from the breech of the
pistol and hands the weapon to Niklas, who stands at attention.
MALCOLM: Get on with it.
Niklas makes a noisy click with his heels and departs. Malcolm
walks up to the target, takes it down from the wall and counts the
hits. At the same time he takes out a cigarette and looks on the table
for matches. Suddenly a flame flashes at the tip of his cigarette. It is
his wife. Charlotte, who offers him a light. He says "Oh" and kisses
her good morning. Charlotte is really a very beautiful woman,
dressed for the morning in an exquisite riding costume. She lays her
riding crop on the table and takes one of the pistols.
MALCOLM: Watch out, it's loaded.
Charlotte doesn't answer, but aims at a target to the left —aims
long and carefully.
CHARLOTTE: Aren't you on maneuvers?
MALCOLM: A quick visit. CHARLOTTE:
Inspection? MALCOLM: You can call it that.
Malcolm laughs kindly. Charlotte shoots.
CHARLOTTE: That was a miss.
MALCOLM: You didn't even hit the target, my dear. You aimed
He hands her the second pistol and sits down on the edge of the
CHARLOTTE: Well, how was Mademoiselle Desiree Armfeldt?
MALCOLM: She had a visitor. A lawyer. In a nightshirt.
CHARLOTTE: What did you do?
MALCOLM: I kicked him out.
CHARLOTTE: In a nightshirt?
MALCOLM: In a nightshirt.
CHARLOTTE: A lawyer?
The shot goes off. Charlotte lowers the weapon. Malcolm has
loaded the other pistol.
CHARLOTTE: That was better. Malcolm hands the
loaded weapon to his wife.
MALCOLM: Lawyer Egerman himself. People have no morals
CHARLOTTE: Poor little Anne. Are you leaving today?
MALCOLM: At nine o'clock. CHARLOTTE: That's nice.
MALCOLM: The pleasure is all mine. CHARLOTTE: And when
are you returning? MALCOLM: We are invited to old Mrs.
Armfeldt's at Ryarp for the weekend. The Egermans will also be
there. CHARLOTTE: That will be interesting.
She fires her third shot.
MALCOLM: Look at that—a bulls-eye. He
hands her the newly loaded pistol.
CHARLOTTE: Just think if I shot you instead. What would
you say then?
MALCOLM: What do you intend to do today?
CHARLOTTE: It'll be a boring day, as usual.
MALCOLM: Perhaps you can pay a visit to your friend,
CHARLOTTE: That's an idea.
Malcolm puts on his tunic and fastens its many buttons; his monocle
MALCOLM: She's probably totally ignorant of her husband's
escapades. CHARLOTTE: Poor Malcolm, are you so jealous?
Malcolm touches his elegant mustache with his forefinger. Charlotte
has lowered the weapon and keeps it cocked in both hands. He takes
his cap and walks toward the door. He is suddenly furious, but his
large eyes are calm.
MALCOLM: I can tolerate my wife's infidelity, but if anyone
touches my mistress, I become a tiger. Good morning!
He kisses her fingers and closes the door behind him. Charlotte
raises the pistol and fires at the mirror on the door, splintering it into a
The same morning, while Anne is still in bed drinking her chocolate,
Fredrik enters, but now he is very elegantly dressed in a faultless
morning coat and carrying a large book under his arm.
FREDRIK: Good morning, dearest.
The girl's face lights up and she holds out her arms to him. He gets
his morning kiss.
ANNE: Just think, I was still sleeping when you got up this
morning. Have you slept well?
FREDRIK: Well, not altogether.
ANNE: No, now I can see. You're pale and your eyes are tired. Did
you work late last night?
FREDRIK: Yes, it was rather wearisome. I'll be in my room if you
He kisses her quickly on the forehead and departs. When he enters
the dining room, Henrik is still sitting at the breakfast table.
FREDRIK: Good morning, son. Are you planning to leave today?
HENRIK: I may stay for a little while longer.
FREDRIK: Has a bird built a nest in your hair yet?
FREDRIK: It almost managed to lay an egg in mine.
HENRIK: What did you say, Father?
FREDRIK: Nothing. Enjoy your breakfast.
Fredrik goes into his study and closes the door. Henrik looks after
him with a long questioning glance. Petra walks through the room
singing and quite rosy. When she passes Henrik, she musses up his
hair. He springs up and stares at her as if he had gone insane. She
approaches him slowly with a friendly smile. When she has come right
up to him, she opens her blouse so that her rounded breast is visible.
She takes his hand and wants to place it against her heart, but he breaks
loose and runs into his room, slamming the door. The girl looks
slightly astonished, buttons up her blouse and begins to sing happily
while gathering the breakfast dishes. The old cook comes waddling in
on aching legs. She carries a large tray.
COOK: I saw what you did.
PETRA: And what's wrong with it?
COOK: Nothing wrong, exactly, but it wasn't right either.
PETRA: And since when are you a judge?
COBOK: You are just a social climber, Petra, but I can tell
you that a silly girl will remain a silly girl even if she makes
herself silly with His Majesty the King.
Now a little bell rings and the cook gives her a nod.
PETRA: That's the lady ringing. I'll take care of this later.
Petra knocks on the bedroom door and enters nimbly. Anne sits
before the mirror combing her hair. Her shoulders are covered with a
ANNE: Will you please brush my hair with the big brush? It's so
PETRA: Yes, Ma'am.
Anne closes her eyes and enjoys Petra's long, strong, rhythmic
brush strokes. Both girls are silent for a few moments.
ANNE: Are you a virgin, Petra?
PETRA: God forbid, Ma'am.
PETRA: I know, Ma'am.
ANNE (frightened): How can you tell, Petra?
PETRA: It can be seen from your skin and in your eyes, Ma'am.
ANNE (sad): Can everyone see it?
PETRA: I don't think so.
ANNE: How old were you, Petra?
PETRA: Sixteen, Ma'am.
ANNE: Was it disgusting?
PETRA: Disgusting! (Laughs) Gee, it was so exciting and so
much fun, I almost died.
ANNE: Were you in love with the boy?
PETRA: Yes, I suppose so.
ANNE: Have you been in love with many boys since then?
PETRA: I'm always in love, Ma'am.
ANNE: Not with the same one?
PETRA: No, once in a while I get tired, of course, but then it's so
exciting with the next boy.
ANNE: Almost everything that's fun isn't virtuous, you
know that, don't you, Petra?
PETRA: Then I say, hooray for vice, every inch of it.
ANNE: I think that I'll just wear a ribbon in my hair today.
PETRA: You should wear your hair in an upsweep; it looks
ANNE: Today I don't want to have it up.
PETRA: As you like, Ma'am.
ANNE: Which gown shall I wear?
PETRA: The yellow, I think, the one with the lace.
ANNE: I'll wear the blue.
Petra brings the requested gown and is just about to assist Anne
when she stops. Anne stands in front of the mirror and turns around,
looking at herself both in front and back.
ANNE: Anyway, I don't have a bad figure. It's just as good as
Then she receives the gown with the manner of a princess and
Petra buttons up the back.
ANNE: Do you think it would be more fun to be a man?
PETRA: Oh no. God forbid. What a terrible thought.
ANNE: I wouldn't want to be a man either.
Suddenly she giggles, puts her arms around Petra's shoulders and
lowers her head. Then she really begins to giggle foolishly. Petra is
also caught up in this contagion of laughter and they both act like
two silly school girls with a thought which is so indecent that neither
of them dares mention it, still less think it. The only thing to do is to
giggle about it. When Anne comes to her senses again, she wipes her
eyes and gets up from the bed where she has collapsed. She tries to
look very dignified.
ANNE (seriously): Now I'm going to care for my little flowers and
feed the birds. In spite of everything, we have our chores, don't we,
Anne begins to sing and patters happily into the kitchen, where
the cook is supervising the weekly baking.
ANNE: Hello, Beata. I thought that we should have a really
good steak for dinner.
COOK: Today it's fish.
ANNE: Yes, but I want steak.
COOK: Of course you can have a steak, Ma'am, but the
gentlemen and the rest of us will have fish for dinner.
Anne swallows the defeat, takes the green watering can and fills it
from the pail with a wooden dipper.
COOK: Where are you going with the watering can, Ma'am?
ANNE: It's for the flowers.
COOK: They were watered at seven in the morning.
ANNE: But that's my work.
COOK: Yes, but now it's been done anyway.
Anne puts away the watering can and walks wordlessly out of the
kitchen. She stops in the center of the drawing room rather
thoughtfully and then walks decisively into Henrik's room. Henrik is
bent over his books. He smokes a sour pipe, has a pair of very ancient
slippers on his feet and a robe of indefinite color over his shoulders.
ANNE: What are you reading?
Henrik gets up and stands politely at attention. His face is shut,
HENRIK: A book.
ANNE: Yes, I can see that. But what is it called?
HENRIK: If I told you, you wouldn't understand anyhow.
ANNE: I demand to know the name of your book.
Silently he hands her the book. She reads the incomprehensible
Hebrew letters and flings it on the table.
HENRIK: There, you see.
ANNE: That's a disgusting old robe. Give it to me. I want to
Henrik takes off the robe with a submissive expression and gives it
ANNE: Phew, how it smells. It's probably never been cleaned. And
what kind of slippers are those? Take them off immediately, you pig.
I'll burn them too.
Without a word, Henrik takes off his slippers and hands them to
Anne. Her eyes sparkle with suppressed rage and her sensitive mouth
trembles. Henrik's submissiveness irritates her even more and she
points to his pipe.
ANNE: How can you smoke such a nauseating old pipe? It smells
so bad that I can barely breathe. Give me the pipe.
Henrik hesitates for a moment and a cloud of anger darkens his
face. After some thought he hands her the pipe.
ANNE: And now you'll get a slap because you flirted with Petra.
Aren't you ashamed of yourself?
She slaps him. Henrik looks at her steadily and tears come to his
eyes. When she notices that he is sad, her own eyes fill with tears.
They look at each other mutely. Then she throws the robe, pipe and
slippers to the floor. The
door bangs violently and Henrik is left alone, looking after the girl as if
he had seen an apparition.
Now she stands again in the drawing room, bewildered and sad. The
sun shines through the window curtains, the facets on the crystal
chandeliers gleam, the canaries sing in their cage.
With fearful caution, she knocks at Fredrik's door. A curt "Come
in" is heard from within.
In the big dark room—the shades are drawn—diligence and thick
cigar smoke prevail. Fredrik sits in a high-backed chair at a large table
cluttered with books and papers. He puffs on a fat cigar and wears a
pince-nez, which makes his face somewhat unfamiliar. Anne walks
quietly up to her husband, takes the cigar out of his mouth and creeps
into his lap. She puts her arms around his neck and presses her cheek
against his chin.
Fredrik patiently allows himself to be fondled and caresses the girl
on her back and shoulders. Carefully he gropes for his cigar and takes a
puff so that it won't go out. Anne looks at him, smiles sadly, struggles
to her feet and starts toward the door with a bowed head.
FREDRIK: Did my little girl want anything in particular?
ANNE: No, nothing. Forgive me if I disturbed you.
The only thing she can see is the back of a large chair and a cloud of
smoke. She closes the door silently and for the third time finds herself
alone in the drawing room.
With a small sigh of sadness and desertion she walks up to the canary
cage and stands for some moments looking at the birds hopping from
perch to perch.
Then she sits down at her small sewing table and reaches for the
The quiet around her is complete.
The clock on the rococo bureau strikes ten.
Petra walks through the room humming. She sways her
behind and takes a dance step across the threshold. Anne sees all this
and sighs again. Then the doorbell rings. She raises her head and listens.
Two voices. Then Petra is standing in the doorway.
PETRA: Countess Malcolm to see you, Ma'am.
At that moment Charlotte enters. Anne becomes happy and greets her
with open arms. The embrace is returned; the two young women greet
each other most cordially.
ANNE: But, Charlotte, how nice. Petra, please bring some lemonade,
some ice and some cookies.
CHARLOTTE: Oh my, how hot it is. Really midsummer heat.
ANNE: What a nice gown you're wearing.
CHARLOTTE : May I return the compliment?
ANNE: But you have such nice coloring too. Oh, if I only looked like
CHARLOTTE: And I've always wished that I looked like you. I can
tell you one thing—1 could never wear my hair loose like a young girl.
ANNE: Yet we are almost the same age, aren't we? How old are you
really. Charlotte? CHARLOTTE: How old are you, dear Anne?
ANNE: Nineteen, but I'll be twenty soon.
CHARLOTTE: Yes, then I'm a few years older, of course. And what
else is happening?
ANNE: Henrik is home. He did very well on his last examination.
CHARLOTTE: Apropos of that, how is your husband?
ANNE: He's well, I believe.
Just then Petra enters with the lemonade and the cookies. During the
following conversation, Anne serves Charlotte and herself. She does so
with complete self-control
and without betraying herself by a single expression or gesture.
CHARLOTTE: So the worthy Lawyer Egerman is well. He hasn't
got a cold?
ANNE: Why should he have a cold in this warm weather?
CHARLOTTE: Last night it wasn't so warm, of course.
ANNE: Now I don't understand what you mean, dear.
CHARLOTTE: It's really so amusing. Your husband was sup-
posed to have been seen out on the town last night.
ANNE: I guess he had insomnia and took a walk.
CHARLOTTE: In his nightshirt?
ANNE: Why shouldn't he walk around in his nightshirt if he wants
CHARLOTTE: He was supposed to have come from Made-
moiselle Armfeldt's apartments. You know—the actress.
ANNE: Fredrik has always been interested in the theater.
CHARLOTTE: That actress is supposed to have absolute orgies
in her home.
ANNE: Do you want another cookie. Charlotte?
CHARLOTTE: Did your old Beata bake them?
ANNE: Yes, she's a treasure.
CHARLOTTE: As you know, I don't run around with gossip.
ANNE: And if I already knew?
CHARLOTTE: You mean he confessed?
ANNE: Of course.
CHARLOTTE: Don't try to tell me that.
ANNE: It happens to be so, in any case.
CHARLOTTE: I don't believe you.
ANNE: I imagine that he met your husband at Miss Armfeldt's.
CHARLOTTE: I don't understand what you mean.
ANNE: But, dear Charlotte, the whole town knows that the Count
is having an affair with Mademoiselle Armfeldt.
Anne's nose is a little pale and her eyes have become a
bit dark, but she doesn't allow her thoughts and feelings to be
CHARLOTTE: Perhaps. It doesn't matter to me what that filthy
swine does, and I pay him back in his own coin. ANNE: Poor
Then Charlotte breaks into such violent tears that the lemonade in
her glass pours out over the silver tray, the cookies and the carpet.
She cries quite openly and without shame in front of Anne, who sits
silent and immobile.
CHARLOTTE: I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.
When she thinks of how much she hates him she suddenly stops
crying and bites her fingers.
CHARLOTTE: Men are beastly! They are silly and vain and have
hair all over their bodies.
She wipes away her tears with the palms of her hands and takes a
deep breath. Her mouth trembles, as if she wanted to burst into tears
CHARLOTTE: He smiles to me, he kisses, me, he comes to me at
night, he makes me lose my reason, he caresses me, talks kindly to
me, gives me flowers, always yellow roses, talks about his horses, his
women, his duels, his soldiers, his hunting—talks, talks, talks.
Her voice is convulsed by a sob. She turns away her face so that
Anne won't be able to see her.
CHARLOTTE (low-voiced): Love is a disgusting business!
She bites her lip and turns her face toward Anne in a sudden,
CHARLOTTE: In spite of everything, I love him. I would do
anything for him. Do you understand that? Anything. Just so that
he'll pat me and say: That's a good little dog.
There are a few moments of silence. Anne looks at her friend with
a mixture of fright and reluctant admiration.
ANNE: Poor Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE: That Desiree, with her strength and her inde-
pendence. No one can get the best of her, not even Carl-Magnus.
That's why he's so obsessed with her.
ANNE: I don't know her.
CHARLOTTE: All men are drawn to her and I don't know why.
Charlotte sits quietly for a moment, searching for an answer. Then
she shrugs her shoulders and suddenly becomes her old self again.
CHARLOTTE: It was good that you knew everything. Then I
haven't caused any trouble.
CHARLOTTE: She has probably never been in love.
ANNE: Excuse me, what did you say? Who?
CHARLOTTE: Desiree. She has probably never been in love.
She probably only loves herself.
Then the door opens and Fredrik enters. He still has a cigar in his
mouth and the pince-nez on his nose. He carries a small letter in his
FREDRIK: Good day, Countess! It was nice of you to visit my
wife. I hope you're enjoying yourselves.
ANNE: We're enjoying ourselves very much, my friend.
FREDRIK: By the way, dear Anne, I've just received an invitation
to old Mrs. Armfeldt's estate at Ryarp.
CHARLOTTE: Oh! Isn't that Desiree Armfeldt's mother?
FREDRIK: I believe so.
CHARLOTTE: Then perhaps we'll meet the great actress
That would be lovely.
FREDRIK: Are you also invited, Countess?
CHARLOTTE: I and my husband. Just think, how amusing.
ANNE: You can go alone. I don't want to.
FREDRIK: I'll say no, then, for both of us.
He nods briefly, bows toward Charlotte and goes to the door.
Anne calls out to him.
ANNE: No, wait! I've changed my mind.
FREDRIK: So we're going?
ANNE: Yes, thanks! It should be very amusing.
Fredrik walks toward the door again.
ANNE: How are you, Fredrik?
FREDRIK: I? Excellent. I may have the beginning of a cold,
but it's only a trifle.
He clears his throat and looks from one woman to the other, but
their faces are impenetrable.
When he has returned to his study, he sits down at the table,
smokes for a few minutes while he looks thoughtfully out of the
window. Then he takes out his wallet and extracts Anne's
photographs. He places them on a row on the table before him, leans
forward, touches them one after another with his forefinger. His
eyeglasses cloud up. He has to take them off and wipe them with his
handkerchief. He holds them up to the light. His face is tense and the
membranes of his eyes feel brittle with suppressed sorrow.
FREDRIK (mumbles): I don't understand . . .
The small castle lies under the early-summer foliage, slumbering
in the mild sunshine of a Saturday afternoon. Down on the lawn,
Mrs. Armfeldt is just receiving the Egerman family. The old lady,
whose legs are paralyzed, sits in a large chair. Her grandson, Fredrik,
plays nearby. Old Malla sits watchfully at his side on a folding stool.
Mrs. Armfeldt carries on a lively conversation with Mr. Egerman.
Anne, who is dressed in a light-hued summer dress, plays with a
puppy. Henrik hovers near her, reaching out his long arm to pat the
little dog on the head once in a while.
Frid, the coachman, is a big, ruddy man of about forty with a large
mustache and a pair of icy-blue eyes looking out from the heavy folds
of his face. Now he is helping Petra with the baggage.
FRID: So your name is Petra.
PETRA: And yours is Frid.
FRID: You're a nice piece of baggage. I guess no one has said that
to you before?
PETRA: All right, calm down now and bring over the large
They walk silently through the hallway and enter the dining room.
FRID: Do you have a sweetheart?
PETRA: No, but I have plans for the future.
FRID: Then Frid is the right man for you, because Frid is a man
of the future.
PETRA: Have the other guests arrived yet?
FRID: They will arrive soon.
In a niche, lit by the afternoon sun through a narrow window, stands
the statue of a magnificently shaped woman.
PETRA: Who is that statue supposed to be?
FRID: It's the old lady when she was young.
PETRA: Oh, my God. (She is shaken) Is this the old lady?
My God, what life does to us.
FRID: Take advantage of every moment.
Frid looks at the girl with happy, lustful eyes. She pretends not to
notice but feels very flattered. They walk down a long corridor.
Gloomy ancestors gaze down from the walls. Frid pushes open a door.
FRID: Here is where your master and mistress will stay.
PETRA: And where does their son Henrik sleep?
FRID: So you're interested in that.
Frid puts down the big trunk and walks along the corridor and into
the adjoining room, which has only one bed. Petra follows him.
FRID: Yes, here's where the boy will stay. It's pretty nice for that
little runt. Do you know why? I'm going to tell you. This is a royal
PETRA: So, has royalty lived here?
FRID: You see, the King had a minister and that minister had an
unusually beautiful wife and the King took a fancy to the young
woman. Then the King and the minister were going to meet here at
Ryarp and the minister and his wife were placed in the room where the
Egermans are going to stay and the King slept here.
PETRA: And then the wife went to the King?
FRID: No! There you're wrong, little maid. When the minister had
fallen asleep, the King pressed this button. Do it and you'll see what
PETRA: Oh, you're just teasing me.
FRID: Do what I say.
Petra presses the knob and at first nothing happens. Tust as Petra
turns to reproach Frid for his joke, a little music-box melody is
suddenly heard. Soundlessly, as if by magic, a bed glides through the
wall and pulls in quietly and faithfully alongside the other bed.
FRID (proudly): That's how the beautiful lady came through the
wall, bed and all, to enjoy herself with His Majesty.
He walks up to the button and presses it again. The bed glides
back, this time without music.
PETRA: How clever. I wish I had such a nice bed.
FRID: There's a little bit of the devil in you, did you know
PETRA: Ouch, don't pinch. Look, who's that beautiful lady
coming out now and greeting Mr. Egerman? Is it Desiree,
the actress? Just think if I looked like that.
Desiree is really very beautiful, dressed in a sweetly feminine
summer dress and a wide-brimmed hat. She offers her hand to
Egerman and he brings it to his lips.
DESIREE: How nice that you could come. And this is your young
A small explosion is heard and then a persistent rattling sound. Up
the tree-lined driveway leading to the castle a strange equipage
approaches. It is the Count and Countess Malcolm and the batman
Niklas in a shiny new automobile. With an elegant turn and an
echoing report, the fire wagon stops in a cloud of dust in front of the
house. Malcolm jumps out wearing a long leather coat and enormous
gauntlets. He walks around the car and helps his wife to get down.
Niklas hops out and begins unloading the
baggage. Petra has rushed out on the steps to observe the miracle
together with Frid, who regards it with reserve and a certain scorn.
Malcolm leads his wife by the arm over to the old Mrs. Armfeldt.
Polite greetings are exchanged. Malcolm and Desiree, very formal.
Malcolm and Fredrik, very severe. Anne and Charlotte, very
hypocritical. Malcolm and Anne, very curious. Charlotte and Desiree,
DESIREE: I'm very happy to see you here.
CHARLOTTE: Oh, both of us have heard so much about you
and looked forward to meeting you.
DESIREE: Do you want to see your room, Countess?
CHARLOTTE: Yes, it would be pleasant to wash off the dirt
from the journey.
The two ladies depart, conversing amiably. There are a few
moments of meaningful silence and the remainder of the party look
after them. Then all eyes turn toward Captain Malcolm. He is aware
of his responsibility and draws a deep breath.
MALCOLM: Yes, speaking of automobiles. When the road was
smooth we attained a speed of nearly thirty kilometers an hour.
Desiree and Charlotte are already in the large sunny guest room
with its white curtains, light furniture and broad plank flooring.
DESIREE: I'll call someone to arrange a bath for you.
CHARLOTTE: Miss Armfeldt.
CHARLOTTE: Why did you invite us?
DESIREE: I have a plan.
CHARLOTTE: Does it concern me?
DESIREE: Very much so.
CHARLOTTE: Are you prepared to speak frankly?
DESIREE: Why shouldn't I be frank? We're enemies, aren't we?
CHARLOTTE: Do you want a cigarette?
DESIREE: No, thanks. I only smoke cigars. Now, it is possible
that enemies can have mutual interests. Should they continue to
remain enemies and ignore their common interest?
CHARLOTTE: Not two women.
DESIREE: Then let us make peace, at least for the moment.
CHARLOTTE: Unfortunately my husband doesn't have a ring in his
nose so that he can be tethered in one place.
DESIREE: That's true. He has his free will, whatever that means.
And then there's his perpetually functioning masculinity, which
bothers him quite a lot.
CHARLOTTE: He's a corpse.
DESIREE: I rather pity him.
CHARLOTTE: Pity him!
DESIREE: Yes. Look, now they're playing croquet down there.
Who is the undisputed master? Who is the rover? Who makes an
innocent game into an offensive battle for prestige?
They play croquet. The sun shines over the green lawn. Anne is
like a big flower. Henrik's eyes never leave her for a moment.
Cracked ice clinks in the lemonade glasses; bees are humming in the
rose bushes; a mild breeze chases light shadows across the lawn. The
old lady has taken little Fredrik on her lap and is reading to him from
a large book. Fredrik and Malcolm stand close together, each
smoking a cigar, swinging their croquet mallets.
MALCOLM: It's your turn, Mr. Egerman.
FREDRIK: I'm afraid it is.
MALCOLM: As you know, I'm a rover and have the right to put
you out of position.
Malcolm puts his ball next to Fredrik's and puts his foot on top of
it. Then he hits it with a hard blow and Fredrik's ball rolls out of
bounds. Malcolm laughs jauntily.
CHARLOTTE: When he laughs that way, he's angry.
DESIREE: Angry and jealous.
DESIREE: Of you.
CHARLOTTE: Why in heaven's name should he be jealous
DESIREE: He is furious about the way you looked at Mr.
Egerman when you said hello to each other a moment ago.
CHARLOTTE: How ridiculous! How utterly ridiculous!
DESIREE (seriously): Yes, that's how ridiculous it is.
CHARLOTTE: So you have a plan. And how does it work?
DESIREE: Very simple. You get back your husband, and I ...
CHARLOTTE: And you . . .
DESIREE: Can I really depend on you?
CHARLOTTE: And you get back your lawyer Egerman. Right?
DESIREE (nods): Men can never see what's good for them.
We have to help them find their way. Isn't it so?
CHARLOTTE: And the plan?
DESIREE: First let's arrange the seating for dinner.
The warm candlelight from the long table clashes with the pale
light from the summer evening outside the lofty windows. The old
lady acts as hostess, with Frid behind her chair dressed in livery and
wearing white gloves. Petra and the maids from the house serve the
meal. The seating has been planned with subtle strategy. Lawyer
Egerman is paired off with Charlotte, Count Malcolm
with Desiree, and Henrik Egerman with his young stepmother. The
gentlemen are dressed in evening clothes and the ladies wear grand
evening gowns. Now Desiree leans forward and tries to catch
Charlotte's glance. Charlotte nods imperceptibly.
Malcolm has just told a joke and everyone laughs except Henrik.
CHARLOTTE: So you think, my dear Carl-Magnus, that all
woman can be seduced?
MALCOLM: Absolutely. Age, class, condition and looks play no
part at all.
DESIREE: Those that are married too? MALCOLM: Married
women above all. OLD LADY: Then your best ally is not your own
charm but the wife's matrimonial gloom.
CHARLOTTE: What's your opinion, Mr. Egerman? Can't the
woman ever be the seducer?
FREDRIK: I think that we men are always seduced.
MALCOLM: Idiotic. I have never been seduced in my whole life. A
man is always on the offensive. CHARLOTTE: Apparently not Mr.
Egerman. MALCOLM: Oh, he just wants to make himself more
CHARLOTTE: I assure you that I can seduce Mr. Egerman in less
than a quarter of an hour.
MALCOLM: No, my love. We men don't swallow such large
CHARLOTTE: Yes, you do.
MALCOLM: By no means.
DESIREE: Charlotte is right.
CHARLOTTE : Shall we make a bet?
MALCOLM : Very funny, (laughs')
DESIREE: Don't you have the courage to make a bet with your
99 MALCOLM: You're on!
Everyone laughs but Henrik and Anne. They are quiet and
embarrassed in the presence of this gaiety without happiness.
MALCOLM: Here comes the man, marches up, shoots his
broadside. Bang. The enemy retreats, takes new positions. New
offensive. The positions are ripped up. Bang. Bang. Then the chase
goes over stock and stone until the game— I mean the enemy—lays
down his arms in front of superior forces, but I give no quarter. I raise
my weapon and there she lies bleeding with love and devotion—I
mean the enemy. Then I secure my position and make a wonderful
meal, the feast of truce; passions rage, intoxication mounts, and the
morning sun finds the soldier in the arms of the enemy, slumbering
sweetly. After a little while he gets up, girds his loins and starts out to
do new deeds of bravery ... New games—1 mean enemies . . . (He is
at a loss for words)
OLD LADY: My dear Count, before you begin your offensive, as
you call it, the ground has been long since mined and the enemy is
wise in the ways of both you and your strategy.
HENRIK (angry): Strategy, enemy, offensive, mines. Is this love or
a field battle that you're talking about?
DESIREE: My dear young man, mature human beings treat love
as if it were either a battle or a calisthenic exhibition.
HENRIK: But we are put into this world to love each other.
There is silence. Then they smile a little embarrassedly, as wise
people smile at such banalities.
OLD LADY: My children . . . my friends . . .
She raises her glass. Out of the twilight, out of nowhere, a melody
is heard. It seems to have been born out of the night, out of the
bouquet of the wine, out of the secret life of the walls and the objects
OLD LADY: A story is told that this wine is pressed from grapes
whose juice wells forth like drops of blood on the white skin of the
peel. It is also said that to every cask filled with this wine a drop of
milk from the swelling breasts of a woman who has just given birth
to her first child and a drop of seed from a young stallion are added.
This gives the wine a mysterious, stimulating power, and whoever
drinks of it does so at his own risk.
Desiree's smile deepens and her hand closes tightly around the
finely shaped goblet. She drinks deeply and holds the cut glass up to
the candelabra's flickering light. A flame falls across her cheek and
Malcolm finishes his glass in one draught and then allows the tip
of his tongue to play over his lips, smacking them discreetly but
ANNE (quietly): I drink to my love . . .
She lifts the glass to her lips and sniffs its bouquet. Then she lets
the mild juice flow in a fine stream over her tongue. Her shoulders
quiver with a small tremor of pleasure.
CHARLOTTE: My success.
She grasps the glass in her cupped hands and raises it to her mouth
like a sorceress. She drinks with closed eyes and in small, greedy
swallows. When she has finished, she draws her breath deeply.
FREDRIK (quietly): Anne.
He drinks, and a mist comes over his eyes. He tries to brush it
away, but it remains.
Henrik's glass stands full and untouched in front of him. He stares
at it as if he were hypnotized by it. Then he grips it, brings it to his
mouth, but changes his mind and puts it down again.
The old lady dips a small, bony finger into her glass and allows it
to be colored by the wine. She licks her finger like a cat.
Then Henrik drinks, emptying the whole glass and putting it down
so violently that he cracks its fragile stem. Fredrik is startled, wakes
up from his feeling of unreality. His forehead wrinkles with irritation.
FREDRIK: Watch what you're doing.
HENRIK: Watch what you're doing yourself.
Henrik flares up; his eyes flash and his mouth trembles. He has
turned absolutely white. Petra runs forward and tries to wipe up the
red stain which grows and swells across the white tablecloth.
FREDRIK: What kind of language is that?
HENRIK: Do you think that I can tolerate everything from you?
Are you some kind of emperor who decides what everyone in your
house can think and do?
FREDRIK: Calm down now, Henrik. You don't know what you're
HENRIK: But you do, don't you? You with your lack of normal
decency. When I come with my sorrow, you answer with your
sarcasm. I'm ashamed that you're my father.
FREDRIK: Now shut up or leave the table.
HENRIK: For once I don't feel like keeping quiet. Now I want to
throw this glass on the floor. DESIREE (smiling): Here is another glass.
You can throw as many as you like.
HENRIK: You who are such a great artist, don't you suffer from
the lies, the compromises? Doesn't your own life torment you?
DESIREE: Why don't you try to laugh at us?
HENRIK: It hurts too much to be funny.
ANNE: Henrik, calm down now!
Her voice is like a little silver bell and it rings in the air above
their heads, above the candelabra and the mild twilight of the room.
The dinner guests listen, astonished and thoughtful. Yes, that is how
it is. Anne has laid her small hand on top of his, but she doesn't look
at Henrik; she has closed her eyes and withdrawn into herself. Once
again the silver bell sounds.
ANNE (low voice): Calm down now, Henrik.
Fredrik is suddenly stricken; his chest constricts so that he can
barely breathe. He opens his mouth like a fish on land and raises his
hand toward his face as if to ward off a blow.
OLD LADY (quietly): Why is youth so terribly unmerciful? And
who has given it permission to be that way?
No one answers. The old lady drinks another mouthful of the
strange wine and shakes her head.
OLD LADY: Who has given it permission?
DESIREE: The young live on the sheer chance that they will
never need to become as old as we.
HENRIK: Then one might as well be dead.
Desiree lets her glance glide toward Fredrik. He is no longer
present. He sits with a cramped, dead smile and stares at his
wineglass. Once in a while he blinks as if in-
capable of stopping the flow which is almost ready to burst from
his eyes. Now he draws his breath deeply, but that also hurts. It is
better not to breathe, not to move.
MALCOLM: Good Lord! The boy is going to become a minister.
He'll get paid to produce some small tremors in the reluctant soul.
Then Henrik gets up. He is deathly pale and looks as if he is going
to faint. Swaying like a drunk, he walks up to Malcolm, who is
calmly wiping his mouth with his napkin.
MALCOLM: Are you going to hit me? Very well, if you
want to, but it will be all the worse for you.
HENRIK (whispers): Forgive me! Forgive me, all of you!
He staggers from the room, pulls open the door leading to the
large stone-paved hallway and disappears like a shadow into the
summer night. Anne rises from the table.
ANNE (shouts): Henrik, don't hurt yourself!
But he doesn't hear her, or care to hear her, and she sits down on
her chair with a bowed head, like a punished school girl.
OLD LADY: Yes, let's leave the table. Coffee and liqueurs await us
in the yellow pavilion.
ANNE: May I retire?
Fredrik hardly sees her, but nods.
Anne stretches out her right hand and grasps Petra's firm little fist.
Fredrik pats Anne on the cheek. The surface of the wound in his
heart has clotted; it doesn't bleed any more, but each movement is
terribly painful. Anne pulls
Petra to her and the two girls disappear with their arms around
each other's waists.
Desiree lights a cigar from one of the candelabra. She leans
forward to speak to Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE: And we thought that the first step would be the
most difficult one.
DESIREE: Maybe the most difficult but not the most delicate,
because that comes next.
Both ladies turn their eyes toward Fredrik Egerman, who has
walked over to the window. Their quiet thought-fulness is interrupted
when Malcolm steps up.
MALCOLM: What are you gossiping about?
DESIREE: Come now. Count, let us go to the yellow pavilion and
MALCOLM: What is my wife going to do?
DESIREE: You can see quite well. She's taking care of Fredrik
MALCOLM (laughs): Yes, he's had enough to make him quiet, poor
Charlotte has come up to the window and stands behind Fredrik.
CHARLOTTE: Are you crying?
FREDRIK: I! No.
CHARLOTTE: Shall we go or stay, or laugh or cry? Or make
The others have gone out into the light summer night. The moon's
enormous globe rolls over the horizon, the bulrushes murmur, and
once in a while you can hear the voice of the nightjar bird. Malcolm
and Desiree walk arm in arm
down the path. Frid walks in front, carrying the old lady like an
CHARLOTTE: May I put some salve on the wound?
She stands on her toes and kisses Fredrik.
FREDRIK: Why did you do that?
CHARLOTTE: Was it unpleasant?
FREDRIK: You want to make your husband jealous.
CHARLOTTE: But he can't see us.
FREDRIK: You are not much older than Anne.
CHARLOTTE: I'm a much greater risk.
FREDRIK: For yourself, perhaps.
CHARLOTTE: For myself and others, but I generally give
warning first. I am an honest little rattlesnake. Now I'm giving
She raises her forefinger, holds it high in front of his face and
then rattles her bracelets.
FREDRIK: The rattlesnake may well bite to kill something left
The moon has risen higher; it drenches the countryside with a
mysterious shimmer. The water in the small bay gleams like melted
lead; the trees stand quiet and waiting;
the tower clock strikes its soft chimes; the yellow pavilion is lit
like a jewel. Now Desiree sings a song in German:
"Freut Euch des Lebens, weil noch das Lampchen gluht! Flucket
die Rose eh' sie verbluht . . .
Henrik looks at all this from the terrace, shakes his head and
doesn't want to know, feel or live.
HENRIK: No, no, not know, not feel, not live . . .
His head sinks down on his breast and he clenches his fist against
all this beauty.
HENRIK: Oh, how I suffer. And how ashamed I am.
He staggers through the large door, through the flagstone-paved
hallway, into the dining room, which lies empty and quiet, with
moonlight floating in through the tall windows. He sinks down at
the grand piano and plays some stormy bars from Chopin's Fantasy-
Impromptu. Then he stops and bends over, covering his face with
his hands and mumbling to himself.
HENRIK: Why am I so ugly, so evil, so stupid? The .only right
thing to do is to commit suicide. I'm going to die. I know I am. Pass
away with quiet dignity.
The thought consoles him; he rises from the piano stool and walks
with dignified if rather shaky steps through the patterns of
moonlight. When he reaches the stairs, the moon suddenly
disappears and it becomes dark—immensely, completely dark.
HENRIK (mumbles): I walk in darkness, a blood-red sorrow lights
my way. Oh, horror, you who erode my mind so that I may never
see the light . . .
But suddenly the moon's strange light has returned, and there, lit
by the tall, narrow staircase window, a woman's body shimmers
nakedly. The boy stares transfixedly at this beautiful creature, whose
mysterious, arrogant smile seems to come alive in the mild light.
HENRIK: Oh God, God . . .
He raises his hand and touches the marble. He starts,
as if he had been burned. Then he turns his face away in fear and
disgust, climbs upstairs and staggers down the corridor to his big,
A breeze flows through the garden; the white curtains balloon
inward and the branches of the trees form a moving pattern on the
ceiling and the walls.
Now a flute is heard down among the shrubbery. It is Niklas,
drunk and blissful, sitting among the flowers under the trees, playing
Now a girl laughs loud and provocatively. A little pantomime is
being performed on the moonlit terrace: Petra is chased by Frid, who
makes small leaps in the air like a gay, giant Pan. She is amused,
tempted, but constantly escaping until they both disappear in the
shadow of the house. The end of the chase can be surmised, a
cascade of white petticoats and a single blurred shape that
disappears under the trees, staggering and bent.
Henrik stands at the window of his room and sees all this. The
sweetness of the night, the flute's sad arabesques, overwhelm his
heart, which is already filled to the brim with a strange madness.
HENRIK: 0 Lord, if your world is sinful, then I want to sin. Let
the birds build nests in my hair; take my miserable virtue away from
me, because I can't bear it any longer.
He hiccups from sorrow and drunkenness, searches for the belt of
his robe, ties a strong noose around his neck, pulls a chair out on the
floor, climbs up on it and fastens the belt to the flue of the porcelain
furnace. Thus prepared, he throws a last look on all the wonders of
the earth and takes his leap toward eternity.
He lands on the floor and staggers against the wall. When he
retrieves his balance he loses his sense of comprehension for the last
The night wind has returned and the moonlight seems stronger than
From out of nowhere, a small music box plays a fragile tune. A bed
comes gliding through the wall, dreamlike, soundless, unreal, as if
materialized by the moonlight. And in the bed Anne lies sleeping. At
first he stands there motionless.
HENRIK: I think I must be dead after all.
He rouses himself, takes a towel, dips it deeply into the water
pitcher and lets the cold water splash over his head and shoulders.
With surprise he discovers that he is still alive, awake and real.
Then he ventures over to the bed. He falls on his knees and feels
the warmth of the girl; the fragrance from her body makes him dizzy
and he closes his eyes. Now the music box falls silent, and so do the
wind and the flute. It is as if everything had stopped breathing. He
leans over the girl's face with closed eyes and kisses her lightly.
She awakens slowly from her deep slumber and looks for a long
time at the boy, at his wet, pale face, and she smiles.
ANNE: I love you.
HENRIK: I love you.
ANNE: I've loved you all the time.
HENRIK: I've loved you all the time.
Frid empties a mug of foaming beer. He sits comfortably, leaning
back against the cushions of the open carriage, while Petra rests
against his hairy chest. They have a wide view through the open door
of the shed, out over meadows and plowed fields and verdant farms.
with his mug toward the horizon, which is beginning to lighten
FRID: Look, little one, the summer night is smiling.
PETRA: Just think, you're a poet too.
FRID: Oh yes! The summer night has three smiles, and this is the
first—between midnight and daybreak—when young lovers open
their hearts and bodies. Can you see it back there at the horizon, a
smile so soft that one has to be very quiet and watchful to see it at all?
PETRA: The young lovers . . .
Tears come to Petra's eyes and she sighs.
FRID: Did you have a pang of the heart, my little pudding?
PETRA: Why have I never been a young lover? Can you tell me
FRID: Oh, my dear, don't feel sorry! There are only a very few
young lovers on this earth. Yes, one can almost count them. Love has
smitten them both as a gift and as a punishment.
PETRA: And we others?
FRID: We others ... Ha!
He makes a violent gesture with his beer mug and smiles to
himself, so that his icy-blue eyes sparkle. He lays a large hand on
Petra's round, girlish head.
PETRA: Yes, what becomes of us?
FRID: We invoke love, call out for it, beg for it, cry for it,
try to imitate it, think that we have it, lie about it.
PETRA: But we don't have it.
FRID: No, my sugar plum. The love of lovers is denied to us. We
don't have the gift.
PETRA: Nor the punishment.
A dark shadow suddenly appears at the edge of the carriage. Petra
shrieks with fright. A hand is raised, a face approaches, a pale face
with burning eyes. Henrik's face. He whispers to her; her eyes open
with astonishment. Then another figure, a smaller one, frees itself
from the shadows behind the shed.
Petra nods in complete agreement. Henrik climbs down from the
carriage and Petra says something to Frid, whispering in a low voice
so that no one will hear.
Anne takes a few steps over the broad, dusty floorboards. She
stretches out her arms in front of her like a blind woman. She cries
and laughs with excitement and she takes the boy in her arms.
Fredrik Egerman sees all this. He is standing by the large trees, lit
up by the reflection of the white roadway. He simply stands there,
with no thought or desire to conceal himself. His arms lie still along
his sides and his chin protrudes tautly.
Now boots and hoofbeats pound on the floor of the stable. The
horse is led out into the yard and harnessed to a light carriage.
Petra embraces her mistress and they whisper bewildered and
tender words into each other's hair. Henrik helps Frid with the
baggage and then the two young ones climb in.
At that point, Fredrik takes a step forward and his lips form a cry,
but it becomes a soundless cry, a toneless whisper.
The whip flicks across the back of the horse, and the carriage
turns toward the white ribbon of road. A cloud of dust rises around
the hoofs of the horse.
Fredrik finds the strength to move. He withdraws quickly into
the darkness of the big tree. The big horse falls into a trot; the
carriage rattles and tosses over the road and disappears in a cloud,
as if in a dream. Now they are gone. Now it is quiet. Now they are
Fredrik hears Frid laugh and Petra telling him to be quiet. Their
steps die away. Fredrik Egerman is alone; he has only his heavy
breathing for company, and his pounding heart, his pain, his fear.
The clock in the old tower strikes one. First there are four quarter-
hour beats, then the mighty hour beat. Now the trumpeters step out
through their portals in the clock as the carillon sounds over the
sleeping estate. There is the priest, the knight, the peasant with his
staff, the dwarf with his poodle. There is the merchant, the warrior
with his lance, the jester, death with his scythe, and the maiden with
The moon sinks behind the islands of the bay; the stars turn pale
and the sky whitens in the east.
Desiree opens her window. She has changed her dress and wears
a loose gray gown with soft lines and large pockets on the skirt. The
light flickers in the draft; on the table lies the handwritten script of
her next role.
DESIREE (mumbling): "Do you know, my friend, how loneliness
feels? How the mere thought of it frightens me? I am too faint to ..."
She looks at the script, holding it up to the flickering light.
DESIREE: ... "I am too faint to give answer to your kind
proposal. But if you ask for me as wife, I may decide to tie the bond
But she has difficulty concentrating on the role. A secret anxiety
drives her around the room, over to the large bed where her son
sleeps burrowed in the soft pillows, back to the window to look out
on the grounds, down to the pavilion.
The pavilion is silhouetted against the pale, white water.
The windows are dark and gleam lifelessly in the night light. She
sharpens her glance. Is she seeing wrong, or is there a small flame
flickering inside, a tiny flame which disappears almost as fast as it
has been lit?
DESIREE (mumbles): Charlotte! Charlotte! I can't depend on you
Now someone moves in the shadows under the trees, the light
flickers brightly in the doorway at the top of the pavilion stairs, and
someone hurries silently out of the darkness, silhouetted against the
water's reflection, and into the shelter of the pavilion. There is a
flash of white skirt, the blurred oval of a face, and the door is closed
as silently as it had been opened. The night is warm and quiet.
Charlotte's eyes gleam in the twilight of the pavilion. She looks to
either side several times. Now another shadow can be seen.
CHARLOTTE: It's so dark in here. I can barely see you. Where
He comes quite close to her and puts his hand on her bare
FREDRIK: My wife, Anne, has eloped with my son, Henrik.
Charlotte tries to hold back a laugh.
FREDRIK: I saw them in the stable yard. They stood embracing
in the moonlight. They stood embracing, embracing so that
everyone could see them.
CHARLOTTE: Poor Fredrik. (Laughs)
FREDRIK (in a low voice): I could have stopped them.
CHARLOTTE: Poor, poor Fredrik.
FREDRIK: If you continue to laugh that way I'll do—
CHARLOTTE: Do what! (Giggles) Poor, poor, poor, poor
FREDRIK: I look ridiculous.
CHARLOTTE: Do you know that your face has shrunk? Your
eyes are sitting on your cheekbones and your nose has become very
FREDRIK: I loved them.
CHARLOTTE: And that was the great love.
FREDRIK: I loved them. Henrik and Anne, they were my most
precious possessions. Oh, I knew they were infatuated with each
other—1 wasn't blind. But I was never jealous. I liked it. Their
movements, their fragrance, their voices and laughter gladdened my
heart, and I found pleasure in their games,
CHARLOTTE: And now you hate them.
FREDRIK: No, Charlotte, it's hopeless. But I would like to beat
them with my fists, beat them for what they have stolen from me.
Charlotte puts her wrap over Fredrik's head. A pale, embittered
face looks at her between the wrap's loose weave. She raises her
hand and presses her thumb against his eye.
CHARLOTTE: Prisoner, imprisoned one, locked in, raging, hurt,
wounded without reason or sense. .There he sits, the wise lawyer
amidst his little catastrophe, like a child in a puddle.
She pulls the wrap off him and kisses his lips. He makes a strong
move toward her, but she withdraws. Fredrik's mouth bleeds.
FREDRIK: You have sharp teeth.
CHARLOTTE: Sharp tongue, sharp teeth, sharp nails.
FREDRIK: Sore heart, gashed hands, blood in your eyes.
CHARLOTTE: Yes, now you know how it feels.
FREDRIK: Are you really real, by the way?
CHARLOTTE: Haven't you noticed that I am a character in
a play, a ridiculous farce?
FREDRIK: Yes, that's true.
CHARLOTTE: We deceived, we betrayed, we deserted. We
who are really ridiculous.
Now she is serious, calm, almost mild. Her face, half averted,
rests in the shadow and is sad, dignified.
FREDRIK: Now you are dangerous, Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE: You have no reason to reproach yourself.
Desiree's anxiety grows as she stands there in the window looking
down on the dark pavilion.
DESIREE: How stupid I've been.
She raises her hands to her mouth as she mumbles to herself. The
light nickers and she blows it out in irritation. Now the door opens
quite carefully and Malcolm appears. He seems tangled and sour,
stretches himself, yawns, is quite out of humor.
DESIREE: So now you come.
Malcolm stares and stiffens in the middle of a yawn.
MALCOLM: What have I done? Why do you say that?
DESIREE: I mean . . . I'll be brief. It's nice to see you.
But I think you're terribly late.
MALCOLM: Are you brewing some kind of mischief! Have
you cooked up something?
DESIREE: By the way, where is your wife?
MALCOLM: She's asleep.
DESIREE: Are you sure that she's sleeping?
DESIREE: Have you never imagined that Charlotte could deceive
MALCOLM: An unusually ridiculous idea. Why should she? She
has nothing to complain about.
DESIREE: No, of course not.
MALCOLM: Now you have a tone in your voice which irritates
DESIREE: I only said "Of course not."
MALCOLM: Do you know anything?
DESIREE: Your wife is not sleeping, that I know.
MALCOLM: Where is she?
DESIREE: In the pavilion.
MALCOLM: With whom?
DESIREE: Fredrik Egerman.
MALCOLM: Fredrik Eger . . . Devil take it!
DESIREE: They have already been there for a quarter of an hour.
MALCOLM: Now I'm really going to fix that damned shyster.
DESIREE: Are you so jealous, poor Malcolm?
MALCOLM: I can tolerate someone dallying with my mistress,
but if anyone touches my wife, then I become a tiger.
He looks around wildly and strides off with long steps. After a
few moments, Desiree sees him hurrying across
the terrace of the castle and down to the pavilion. Now she
smiles, relieved. Malcolm lights a couple of candles and puts them on
the table in the pavilion.
MALCOLM: Leave the room. Charlotte! Mr. Egerman and I want
to be alone.
Charlotte hesitates and looks from one to the other.
MALCOLM: I seriously recommend that you leave. The lawyer
and I want to play roulette.
Charlotte has a worried, hesitant expression on her face, but she
departs and closes the door silently. For a moment she can be seen
outside the window.
Malcolm turns again towards Fredrik.
MALCOLM: Of course, Russian roulette.
He pulls out a revolver and places it on the table between them.
FREDRIK: I don't understand.
MALCOLM: A kind of duel. If we met with weapons in our
hands, there would be no hope for you. I therefore suggest a duel
which gives both of us exactly the same chance.
FREDRIK: I still don't understand.
MALCOLM: The revolver is loaded with only one bullet. You
close your eyes, roll the cylinder, and then point the weapon at your
temple and press the trigger. Each one of us repeats this procedure
twice. That means the odds are twelve to two.
When Charlotte comes around the comer, she meets Desiree on
the path leading to the beach.
DESIREE: Are they still in the pavilion?
CHARLOTTE: I think that the gentlemen wish to be left alone.
DESIREE: And why, may I ask?
CHARLOTTE: It's some kind of roulette.
DESIREE (astonished): Roulette?
Malcolm pours cognac first into Fredrik's glass and then
into his own. They sit in armchairs opposite each other. Between
them stands the table. On the table lies the small revolver. Malcolm
MALCOLM: Now I'll spin the weapon. Whoever the muzzle
points at goes first.
Fredrik nods and wets his lips. Malcolm reaches out with his hand
and spins the weapon. It turns several times and then the muzzle
points at him. He raises his glass. Fredrik returns the toast.
MALCOLM: To all faithful wives.
They empty their glasses. Malcolm raises the weapon and closes
his eyes. He rolls the cylinder and aims the muzzle at his temple. He
opens his eyes and looks smilingly at Fredrik. Then he presses the
trigger. A sharp click is heard.
A cold sweat breaks out on Fredrik's forehead. Malcolm lays
down the revolver, pushes it across the table toward Fredrik with a
friendly smile. Then he pours another round of cognac for himself
and his opponent. Now it is Fredrik's turn to raise his glass. He
hesitates for a moment.
FREDRIK: To you. Count Malcolm!
The Count bows and forces a smile. The two gentlemen empty
FREDRIK: An exquisite cognac.
MALCOLM: It was supposedly imported in the 1850s by a very
dear friend of old Mrs. Armfeldt. He was later killed in a duel.
Fredrik grips the weapon, closes his eyes, rolls the cylinder and
points the muzzle toward his temple. He hesitates
for a moment. Malcolm looks at him with a smile. He pulls the
A sharp click is heard.
Fredrik opens his eyes and blinks, somewhat surprised;
he looks at the weapon.
FREDRIK: The bullet was in the next slot.
He puts down the revolver and now it's his turn to serve cognac.
MALCOLM: Allow me to say that you impress me, Lawyer
FREDRIK: This is not courage, sir.
Malcolm lifts his glass. MALCOLM
(cordially): To you.
Fredrik bows and drinks. Malcolm puts down his glass, takes the
weapon and closes his eyes. He rolls the cylinder and places the
muzzle of the revolver against his temple.
He pulls the trigger.
A sharp click.
FREDRIK: I hope there is nothing wrong with the mechanism.
Malcolm shakes his head and serves the cognac. The two
gentlemen raise their glasses.
MALCOLM: I have been told that your wife eloped tonight
with your son.
FREDRIK: It's true.
MALCOLM: To youth, Mr. Egerman.
The gentlemen empty their glasses. Fredrik lifts the
weapon, closes his eyes, rolls the cylinder, points the revolver
toward his temple and looks calmly in front of him.
When the sound of the shot dies down, Desiree and Charlotte are
on their way toward the house. They turn around.
The door of the pavilion opens and Malcolm steps out onto the
stairs, weapon in hand. When he sees both women, their frightened
faces, Desiree's unabashed fear, he bursts into laughter. He laughs so
hard that he has to sit down. He slaps his knees and almost loses his
MALCOLM: Devil take it, I used a blank filled with soot.
CHARLOTTE: With soot!
MALCOLM: Do you think that a nobleman risks his life with a
DESIREE: You are disgusting.
Desiree enters the pavilion and closes the door. Malcolm rises. He
has finished laughing. Husband and wife look at each other silently.
MALCOLM: You are equally ridiculous, you and Desiree
and all the others. Bitchy and unfaithful.
CHARLOTTE: Carl-Magnus Malcolm!
MALCOLM: At your service.
CHARLOTTE: Turn around and look at me.
CHARLOTTE: You have forgotten our bet.
MALCOLM: Bet? What bet?
CHARLOTTE: At dinner.
MALCOLM: At dinner. My God, the bet at dinner.
CHARLOTTE: I did it in eight minutes. Then I had all kinds
of trouble fighting him off.
MALCOLM: But you enjoyed it.
CHARLOTTE: Carl-Magnus Malcolm, look at me again.
MALCOLM: I can never be at ease, you know that.
CHARLOTTE: Look at me.
MALCOLM: I look at you all the time.
CHARLOTTE: And what do you see?
CHARLOTTE: That you've never done. Not even now.
MALCOLM: Has everyone gone crazy? Isn't it you I see?
What the devil do I see if I don't see you?
CHARLOTTE: Close your eyes.
MALCOLM: I refuse.
CHARLOTTE: Shut them.
MALCOLM: And why should I?
CHARLOTTE: Now you must say: "You have won your bet.
What does the winner want?"
CHARLOTTE: Don't you keep your word?
MALCOLM: By all means. What does the winner want?
CHARLOTTE: Shut your eyes.
MALCOLM: What does the winner want? (He closes his eyes)
MALCOLM: That's impossible.
CHARLOTTE: Your word!
MALCOLM: I give in.
He falls on his knees, laughing. She falls on her knees opposite
him. She is still serious.
CHARLOTTE: Swear to be faithful to me for at least—
MALCOLM: I'll be faithful to you for at least seven eternities of
pleasure, eighteen false smiles and fifty-seven loving whispers
without meaning. I'll be faithful to you until the last gasp separates
us. In short, I'll be faithful to you in my way.
Now it is just before dawn. A light mist lies over the
water like a puff of smoke. The morning breeze stirs the birches.
The birds tune up their morning song.
Frid rises from the hay stack where he has lain with Petra. He
takes a deep breath and raises his arm in an expansive gesture.
FRID: Now the summer night smiles its second smile:
for the clowns, the fools, the unredeemable.
PETRA: Then she smiles for us.
FRID: Are you thirsty? Do you want a beer?
PETRA: I said that she smiles for us.
FRID: I agree. (Drinks) Now she smiles for us.
PETRA: Will you marry me?
PETRA: An hour ago you said that you wanted to—
FRID: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! That was then.
Petra looks up. Then she gives him a strong slap across his face,
but he continues to laugh.
PETRA: You shall marry me.
FRID: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You're a strong little sugar plum.
Petra becomes furious and continues to pound him with her fists,
shaking him like a pillowcase.
PETRA (furious): You shall marry me. You shall marry me.
You shall! You shall! You shall!
FRID: This is what I call love. Ha-ha-ha-ha!
They tumble around in the hay in a wild and affectionate fight.
The trumpeters appear from behind the shutters and now the tower
clock announces that the time is three.
The sun rolls up out of the forest and everything takes on its true
color in the warm sunlight.
The cocks begin crowing as if possessed.
The mild light reaches through the windows of the pavilion and
falls on Fredrik, who sits in his chair with a blackened face. Desiree
kneels on the floor and removes the worst of the soot with a sponge.
Egerman rouses from his stupor and looks in bewilderment at
Desiree. The sunlight strikes him directly in the face and he is forced
to shut his eyes again.
He sighs contentedly, but when Desiree touches the scratch on his
forehead he awakens and says "Ouch."
FREDRIK: This can't be heaven.
DESIREE: Is that because I'm here, perhaps?
FREDRIK: Desiree. You were a fine help.
DESIREE: You're right. I was a fine help.
FREDRIK: Why am I not dead?
DESIREE: The bullet was a blank.
DESIREE: Does it hurt?
FREDRIK: Yes it hurts, hurts, hurts.
DESIREE: Lie down here and go to sleep.
He gets up and collapses on the divan. Desiree pulls a blanket
over him. He turns his face away.
On the table are the pictures of his young wife. Adolf's artistic
studies, the pride of the Almgren Photo Shop.
Desiree quietly gathers the pictures and lets them disappear in her
large skirt pocket. Then she closes the door of the pavilion gently
and sits down on the steps in the strong sunlight.
She pulls a cigar case out of her pocket and chooses one from it.
She lights the cigar with pleasure and draws on it with careful puffs.
Out of the other pocket she takes her script.
Then she closes her eyes. Malla comes toddling across
the lawn. Back on the terrace, little Fredrik plays with the puppy.
MALLA: Good morning, Desiree.
DESIREE: Good morning, Malla.
MALLA: Are you studying your new role?
DESIREE: Yes, you might say that.
The old woman grins insinuatingly. She is wearing her straw hat
and carries a large basket in one hand.
MALLA: I'm going to pick strawberries. But Fredrik doesn't want
to go along.
DESIREE: Let him stay here. I'll look after him.
MALLA (grins): There's nowhere that you can sleep as well as in
Petra has straddled Frid and holds him by the ears. He laughs and
snorts. Both of them are out of breath and excited. The dust from the
hay rises up like a cloud around them in the strong sunlight.
PETRA: Do you promise to marry me?
FRID: Ouch! I'll promise if you let go of my ears.
PETRA: No. First promise.
FRID: I promise. Ouch.
PETRA: Swear by everything you hold sacred.
FRID: By my manhood, I swear.
She lets go of him and gives him a hard slap on the cheek, then
gets up, straightens her clothes and stretches.
PETRA: Then we can consider ourselves engaged?
FRID (laughs): The fun is over. Now I'm on my way to hell.
PETRA: Rise and shine, fatso. The horses have to be curried.
He gets up and turns his face toward the sun, stretches out his
arms and breathes deeply.
FRID: There isn't a better life than this.
PETRA: And then the summer night smiled for the third time.
FRID: For the sad, the depressed, the sleepless, the confused, the
frightened, the lonely.
PETRA: But the clowns will have a cup of coffee in the kitchen.
She has pulled off her shoes and stockings and walks barefoot
through the dewy grass, holding her skirt high above her knees. Frid
walks behind her, and the sight of her rounded thighs is so damn
beautiful that he begins to sing.
Stockholm May 27, 1955
THE SEVENTH SEAL
THE SEVENTH SEAL
Max von Sydow
The knight's wife
Anders Ek '
The church painter
Woman at the inn
Leader of the soldiers
The young monk
Director of photography
Music directed by
P. A. Lundgren
Nils Nittel and
Carl M. Lundh, Inc.
Aaby Wedin and Lennart Wallin
Special sound effects
Running time: 96 minutes
Produced by Svensk Filmindustri; distributed in the United States by
Janus Films, Inc., and in Great Britain by Contemporary Films Ltd.
THE NIGHT HAD BROUGHT little relief from the heat, and at
dawn a hot gust of wind blows across the colorless sea.
The knight, Antonius Block, lies prostrate on some spruce
branches spread over the fine sand. His eyes are wide-open and
bloodshot from lack of sleep.
Nearby his squire Jons is snoring loudly. He has fallen asleep
where he collapsed, at the edge of the forest among the wind-gnarled
fir trees. His open mouth gapes toward the dawn, and unearthly
sounds come from his throat.
At the sudden gust of wind the horses stir, stretching their parched
muzzles toward the sea. They are as thin and worn as their masters.
The knight has risen and waded into the shallow water, where he
rinses his sunburned face and blistered lips.
Jons rolls over to face the forest and the darkness. He moans in
his sleep and vigorously scratches the stubbled hair on his head. A
scar stretches diagonally across his scalp, as white as lightning
against the grime.
The knight returns to the beach and falls on his knees. With his
eyes closed and brow furrowed, he says his mom-ing prayers. His
hands are clenched together and his lips
form the words silently. His face is sad and bitter. He opens his eyes
and stares directly into the morning sun which wallows up from the
misty sea like some bloated, dying fish. The sky is gray and immobile, a
dome of lead. A cloud hangs mute and dark over the western horizon.
High up, barely visible, a sea gull floats on motionless wings. Its cry is
weird and restless.
The knight's large gray horse lifts its head and whinnies. Antonius
Block turns around.
Behind him stands a man in black. His face is very pale and he keeps
his hands hidden in the wide folds of his cloak.
KNIGHT: Who are you?
DEATH: I am Death.
KNIGHT: Have you come for me?
DEATH: I have been walking by your side for a long time.
KNIGHT: That I know.
DEATH: Are you prepared?
KNIGHT: My body is frightened, but I am not.
DEATH: Well, there is no shame in that.
The knight has risen to his feet. He shivers. Death opens his cloak to
place it around the knight's shoulders.
KNIGHT: Wait a moment.
DEATH: That's what they all say. I grant no reprieves.
KNIGHT: You play chess, don't you?
A gleam of interest kindles in Death's eyes.
DEATH: How did you know that?
KNIGHT: I have seen it in paintings and heard it sung in ballads.
DEATH: Yes, in fact I'm quite a good chess player.
KNIGHT: But you can't be better than I am.
The knight rummages in the big black bag which he keeps beside him
and takes out a small chessboard. He places it carefully on the ground
and begins setting up the pieces.
DEATH: Why do you want to play chess with me?
KNIGHT: I have my reasons.
DEATH: That is your privilege.
KNIGHT: The condition is that I may live as long as I hold out
against you. If I win, you will release me. Is it agreed?
The knight holds out his two fists to Death, who smiles at him
suddenly. Death points to one of the knight's hands; it contains a black
KNIGHT: You drew black!
DEATH: Very appropriate. Don't you think so?
The knight and Death bend over the chessboard. After a moment of
hesitation, Antonius Block opens with his king's pawn. Death moves,
also using his king's pawn.
The morning breeze has died down. The restless movement of the
sea has ceased, the water is silent. The sun rises from the haze and its
glow whitens. The sea gull floats under the dark cloud, frozen in space.
The day is already scorchingly hot.
The squire Jons is awakened by a kick in the rear. Opening his eyes,
he grunts like a pig and yawns broadly. He scrambles to his feet,
saddles his horse and picks up the heavy pack.
The knight slowly rides away from the sea, into the forest near the
beach and up toward the road. He pretends not to hear the morning
prayers of his squire. Jons soon overtakes him.
JONS (sings): Between a strumpet's legs to lie Is the
life for which I sigh.
He stops and looks at his master, but the knight hasn't heard Jons'
song, or he pretends that he hasn't. To give further vent to his
irritation, the squire sings even louder.
JONS (sings): Up above is God Almighty So very far
away, But your brother the Devil
You will meet on every level.
Jons finally gets the knight's attention. He stops singing. The
knight, his horse, Jons' own horse and Jons himself know all the
songs by heart. The long, dusty journey from the Holy Land hasn't
made them any cleaner.
They ride across a mossy heath which stretches toward the
horizon. Beyond it, the sea lies shimmering in the white glitter of the
JONS: In Farjestad everyone was talking about evil omens and
other horrible things. Two horses had eaten each other in the night,
and, in the churchyard, graves had been opened and the remains of
corpses scattered all over the place. Yesterday afternoon there were
as many as four suns in the heavens.
The knight doesn't answer. Close by a scrawny dog is whining,
crawling toward its master, who is sleeping in a sitting position in
the blazing hot sun. A black cloud of flies clusters around his head
and shoulders. The miserable-looking dog whines incessantly as it
lies flat on its stomach, wagging its tail.
Jons dismounts and approaches the sleeping man. Jons addresses
him politely. When he doesn't receive an answer, he walks up to the
man in order to shake him awake. He
bends over the sleeping man's shoulder, but quickly pulls back his
hand. The man falls backward on the heath, his face turned toward
Jons. It is a corpse, staring at Jons with empty eye sockets and white
The squire remounts and overtakes his master. He takes a drink
from his waterskin and hands the bag to the knight.
KNIGHT: Well, did he show you the way?
JONS: Not exactly.
KNIGHT: What did he say?
KNIGHT: Was he a mute?
JONS: No, sir, I wouldn't say that. As a matter of fact, he was quite
JONS: He was eloquent, all right. The trouble is that what he had to
say was most depressing. (Sings)
One moment you're bright and lively, The next you're
crawling with worms. Fate is a terrible villain And you,
my friend, its poor victim.
KNIGHT: Must you sing?
The knight hands his squire a piece of bread, which keeps him
quiet for a while. The sun burns down on them cruelly, and beads of
perspiration trickle down their faces. There is a cloud of dust
around the horses' hoofs.
They ride past an inlet and along verdant groves. In the shade of
some large trees stands a bulging wagon covered with a mottled
canvas. A horse whinnies nearby and is answered by the knight's
horse. The two travelers do not stop to rest under the shade of the
trees but continue riding until they disappear at the bend of the
In his sleep, Jof the juggler hears the neighing of his
horse and the answer from a distance. He tries to go on sleeping,
but it is stifling, inside the wagon. The rays of the sun filtering
through the canvas cast streaks of light across the face of Jot's wife,
Mia, and their one-year-old son, Mikael, who are sleeping deeply and
peacefully. Near them, Jonas Skat, an older man, snores loudly.
Jof crawls out of the wagon. There is still a spot of shade under the
big trees. He takes a drink of water, gargles, stretches and talks to his
scrawny old horse.
JOF: Good morning. Have you had breakfast? I can't eat grass,
worse luck. Can't you teach me how? We're a little hard up. People
aren't very interested in juggling in this part of the country.
He has picked up the juggling balls and slowly begins to toss them.
Then he stands on his head and cackles like a hen. Suddenly he stops
and sits down with a look of utter astonishment on his face. The wind
causes the trees to sway slightly. The leaves stir and there is a soft
murmur. The flowers and the grass bend gracefully, and somewhere a
bird raises its voice in a long warble.
Jot's face breaks into a smile and his eyes fill with tears. With a
dazed expression he sits flat on his behind while the grass rustles
softly, and bees and butterflies hum around his head. The unseen bird
continues to sing.
Suddenly the breeze stops blowing, the bird stops singing, Jof's
smile fades, the flowers and grass wilt in the heat. The old horse is
still walking around grazing and swishing its tail to ward off the flies.
Jof comes to life. He rushes into the wagon and shakes Mia awake.
JOF: Mia, wake up. Wake up! Mia, I've just seen some thing. I've
got to tell you about it!
MIA (sits up, terrified): What is it? What's happened?
JOF: Listen, I've had a vision. No, it wasn't a vision. It was
real, absolutely real.
MIA: Oh, so you've had a vision again!
Mia's voice is filled with gentle irony. Jof shakes his head and
grabs her by the shoulders.
JOF: But I did see her!
MIA: Whom did you see?
JOF: The Virgin Mary.
Mia can't help being impressed by her husband's fervor. She
lowers her voice.
MIA: Did you really see her?
JOF: She was so close to me that I could have touched her. She
had a golden crown on her head and wore a blue gown with flowers
of gold. She was barefoot and had small brown hands with which she
was holding the Child and teaching Him to walk. And then she saw
me watching her and she smiled at me. My eyes filled with tears and
when I wiped them away, she had disappeared. And everything
became so still in the sky and on the earth. Can you understand . . .
MIA: What an imagination you have.
JOF: You don't believe me! But it was real, I tell you, not the kind
of reality you see everyday, but a different kind.
MIA: Perhaps it was the kind of reality you told us about when
you saw the Devil paint our wagon wheels red, using his tail as a
JOF (embarrassed): Why must you keep bringing that up?
MIA: And then you discovered that you had red paint under your
JOF: Well, perhaps that time I made it up. (Eagerly) I did it just so
that you would believe in my other visions. The real ones. The ones
that I didn't make up.
horse and the answer from a distance. He tries to go on sleeping,
but it is stifling, inside the wagon. The rays of the sun filtering
through the canvas cast streaks of light across the face of Jof's wife,
Mia, and their one-year-old son, Mikael, who are sleeping deeply and
peacefully. Near them, Jonas Skat, an older man, snores loudly.
Jof crawls out of the wagon. There is still a spot of shade under the
big trees. He takes a drink of water, gargles, stretches and talks to his
scrawny old horse.
JOF: Good morning. Have you had breakfast? I can't eat grass,
worse luck. Can't you teach me how? We're a little hard up. People
aren't very interested in juggling in this part of the country.
He has picked up the juggling balls and slowly begins to toss them.
Then he stands on his head and cackles like a hen. Suddenly he stops
and sits down with a look of utter astonishment on his face. The wind
causes the trees to sway slightly. The leaves stir and there is a soft
murmur. The flowers and the grass bend gracefully, and somewhere a
bird raises its voice in a long warble.
Jof's face breaks into a smile and his eyes fill with tears. With a
dazed expression he sits flat on his behind while the grass rustles
softly, and bees and butterflies hum around his head. The unseen bird
continues to sing.
Suddenly the breeze stops blowing, the bird stops singing, Jof's
smile fades, the flowers and grass wilt in the heat. The old horse is
still walking around grazing and swishing its tail to ward off the flies.
Jof comes to life. He rushes into the wagon and shakes Mia awake.
JOF: Mia, wake up. Wake up! Mia, I've just seen some thing. I've
got to tell you about it!
MIA (sirs up, terrified): What is it? What's happened?
JOF: Listen, I've had a vision. No, it wasn't a vision. It was
real, absolutely real.
MIA: Oh, so you've had a vision again!
Mia's voice is filled with gentle irony. Jof shakes his head and
grabs her by the shoulders.
JOF: But I did see her!
MIA: Whom did you see?
JOF: The Virgin Mary.
Mia can't help being impressed by her husband's fervor. She lowers
MIA: Did you really see her?
JOF: She was so close to me that I could have touched her. She
had a golden crown on her head and wore a blue gown with flowers
of gold. She was barefoot and had small brown hands with which she
was holding the Child and teaching Him to walk. And then she saw
me watching her and she smiled at me. My eyes filled with tears and
when I wiped them away, she had disappeared. And everything
became so still in the sky and on the earth. Can you understand . . .
MIA: What an imagination you have.
JOF: You don't believe me! But it was real, I tell you, not the kind
of reality you see everyday, but a different kind.
MIA: Perhaps it was the kind of reality you told us about when you
saw the Devil paint our wagon wheels red, using his tail as a brush.
JOF (embarrassed): Why must you keep bringing that up?
MIA: And then you discovered that you had red paint under your
JOF: Well, perhaps that time I made it up. (Eagerly) I did it just so
that you would believe in my other visions. The real ones. The ones
that I didn't make up.
MIA (severely): You have to keep your visions under control.
Otherwise people will think that you're a half-wit, which you're not. At
least not yet—as far as I know. But, come to think of it, I'm not so sure
about that. JOF (angry): I didn't ask to have visions. I can't help it if
voices speak to me, if the Holy Virgin appears before me and angels
and devils like my company. SKAT (sits up): Haven't I told you once
and for all that I need my morning's sleep! I have asked you politely,
pleaded with you, but nothing works. So now I'm telling you to shut
His eyes are popping with rage. He turns over and continues snoring
where he left off. Mia and Jof decide that it would be wisest to leave
the wagon. They sit down on a crate. Mia has Mikael on her knees. He
is naked and squirms vigorously. Jof sits close to his wife. Slumped
over, he still looks dazed and astonished. A dry, hot wind blows from
MIA: If we would only get some rain. Everything is burned to
cinders. We won't have anything to eat this winter. JOF (yawning):
We'll get by.
He says this smilingly, with a casual air. He stretches and laughs
MIA: I want Mikael to have a better life than ours.
JOF: Mikael will grow up to be a great acrobat—or a juggler who
can do the one impossible trick.
MIA: What's that?
JOF: To make one of the balls stand absolutely still in the air.
MIA: But that's impossible.
JOF: Impossible for us—but not for him.
MIA: You're dreaming again.
She yawns. The sun has made her a bit drowsy and she lies down on
the grass. Jof does likewise and puts one arm around his wife's
JOF: I've composed a song. I made it up during the night when I
couldn't sleep. Do you want to hear it?
MIA: Sing it. I'm very curious.
JOF: I have to sit up first.
He sits with his legs crossed, makes a dramatic gesture with his
arms and sings in a loud voice.
JOF: On a lily branch a dove is perched Against the summer sky,
She sings a wondrous song of Christ And there's great joy on high.
He interrupts his singing in order to be complimented by his wife.
JOF: Mia! Are you asleep?
MIA: It's a lovely song.
JOF: I haven't finished yet.
MIA: I heard it, but I think I'll sleep a little longer. You
can sing the rest to me afterward.
JOF: All you do is sleep.
Jof is a bit offended and glances over at his son, Mikael, but he is
also sleeping soundly in the high grass. Jonas Skat comes out from the
wagon. He yawns; he is very tired and in a bad humor. In his hands he
holds a crudely made death mask.
SKAT: Is this supposed to be a mask for an actor? If the priests
didn't pay us so well, I'd say no thank you.
JOF: Are you going to play Death?
SKAT: Just think, scaring decent folk out of their wits with this
kind of nonsense.
JOF: When are we supposed to do this play? SKAT: At the saints'
feast in Elsinore. We're going to perform right on the church steps,
believe it or not.
JOF: Wouldn't it be better to play something bawdy? People like it
better, and, besides, it's more fun. SKAT: Idiot. There's a rumor going
around that there's a terrible pestilence in the land, and now the priests
are prophesying sudden death and all sorts of spiritual agonies.
Mia is awake now and lies contentedly on her back, sucking on a
blade of grass and looking smilingly at her husband.
JOF: And what part am I to play?
SKAT: You're such a damn fool, so you're going to be the
Soul of Man.
JOF: That's a bad part, of course.
SKAT: Who makes the decisions around here? Who is the
director of this company anyhow?
Skat, grinning, holds the mask in front of his face and recites
SKAT: Bear this in mind, you fool. Your life hangs by a thread.
Your time is short. (In his usual voice) Are the women going to like
me in this getup? Will I make a hit? No! I feel as if I were dead
He stumbles into the wagon muttering furiously. Jof sits, leaning
forward. Mia lies beside him on the grass.
JOF: What is it?
MIA: Sit still. Don't move.
JOF: What do you mean?
MIA: Don't say anything.
JOF: I'm as silent as a grave.
MIA: Shh! I love you.
Waves of heat envelop the gray stone church in a strange white
mist. The knight dismounts and enters. After tying up the horses, Jons
slowly follows him in. When he comes onto the church porch he stops
in surprise. To the right of the entrance there is a large fresco on the
wall, not quite finished. Perched on a crude scaffolding is a painter
wearing a red cap and paint-stained clothes. He has one brush in his
mouth, while with another in his hand he outlines a small, terrified
human face amidst a sea of other faces.
JONS: What is this supposed to represent?
PAINTER: The Dance of Death.
JONS: And that one is Death?
PAINTER: Yes, he dances off with all of them.
JONS: Why do you paint such nonsense? PAINTER: I thought it
would serve to remind people that they must die.
JONS: Well, it's not going to make them feel any happier.
PAINTER: Why should one always make people happy? It might
not be a bad idea to scare them a little once in a while.
JONS: Then they'll close their eyes and refuse to look at your
PAINTER: Oh, they'll look. A skull is almost more interesting than a
naked woman. JONS: If you do scare them . . ,
PAINTER: They'll think.
JONS: And if they think . . .
PAINTER: They'll become still more scared.
JONS: And then they'll run right into the arms of the priests.
PAINTER: That's not my business.
JONS: You're only painting your Dance of Death.
PAINTER: I'm only painting things as they are. Everyone else
can do as he likes.
JONS: Just think how some people will curse you.
PAINTER: Maybe. But then I'll paint something amusing for
them to look at. I have to make a living—at least until the
plague takes me.
JONS: The plague. That sounds horrible.
PAINTER: You should see the boils on a diseased man's
throat. You should see how his body shrivels up so that his
legs look like knotted strings—like the man I've painted over
The painter points with his brush. Jons sees a small human
form writhing in the grass, its eyes turned upward in a frenzied
look of honor and pain.
JONS: That looks terrible.
PAINTER: It certainly does. He tries to rip out the boil, he
bites his hands, tears his veins open with his fingernails and his
screams can be heard everywhere. Does that scare you?
JONS: Scare? Me? You don't know me. What are the horrors
you've painted over there?
PAINTER: The remarkable thing is that the poor creatures
think the pestilence is the Lord's punishment. Mobs of
people who call themselves Slaves of Sin are swarming over
the country, flagellating themselves and others, all for
the glory of God.
JONS: Do they really whip themselves?
PAINTER: Yes, it's a terrible sight. I crawl into a ditch and
hide when they pass by.
JONS: Do you have any brandy? I've been drinking water all
day and it's made me as thirsty as a camel in the desert.
PAINTER: I think I frightened you after all.
Jons sits down with the painter, who produces a jug of
The knight is kneeling before a small altar. It is dark and
quiet around him. The air is cool and musty. Pictures of saints
look down on him with stony eyes. Christ's face is turned
upward, His mouth open as if in a cry of anguish. On the
ceiling beam there is a representation of a hideous devil spying
on a miserable human being. The knight hears a sound from
the confession booth and approaches it. The face of Death
appears behind the grill for an instant, but the knight doesn't
KNIGHT: I want to talk to you as openly as I can, but my
heart is empty.
Death doesn't answer.
KNIGHT: The emptiness is a mirror turned toward my own
face. I see myself in it, and I am filled with fear and disgust.
Death doesn't answer.
KNIGHT: Through my indifference to my fellow men, I
have isolated myself from their company. Now I live in a
world of phantoms. I am imprisoned in my dreams and
DEATH: And yet you don't want to die.
KNIGHT: Yes, I do.
DEATH: What are you waiting for?
KNIGHT: I want knowledge.
DEATH: You want guarantees?
KNIGHT: Call it whatever you like. Is it so cruelly incon-
ceivable to grasp God with the senses? Why should he hide
himself in a mist of half-spoken promises and unseen mira-
Death doesn't answer.
KNIGHT: How can we have faith in those who believe when we
can't have faith in ourselves? What is going to happen to those of us
who want to believe but aren't able to? And what is to become of
those who neither want to nor are capable of believing?
The knight stops and waits for a reply, but no one speaks or
answers him. There is complete silence.
KNIGHT: Why can't I kill God within me? Why does he live on
in this painful and humiliating way even though I curse Him and
want to tear Him out of my heart? Why, in spite of everything, is He
a baffling reality that I can't shake off? Do you hear me?
DEATH: Yes, I hear you.
KNIGHT: I want knowledge, not faith, not suppositions, but
knowledge. I want God to stretch out his hand toward me, reveal
Himself and speak to me.
DEATH: But he remains silent.
KNIGHT: I call out to him in the dark but no one seems to be
DEATH: Perhaps no one is there.
KNIGHT: Then life is an outrageous horror. No one can live
in the face of death, knowing that all is nothingness.
DEATH: Most people never reflect about either death or the
futility of life.
KNIGHT: But one day they will have to stand at that last
moment of life and look toward the darkness.
DEATH: When that day comes . . .
KNIGHT: In our fear, we make an image, and that image
we call God.
DEATH: You are worrying . . .
KNIGHT: Death visited me this morning. We are playing
chess together. This reprieve gives me the chance to arrange an
DEATH: What matter is that?
KNIGHT: My life has been a futile pursuit, a wandering, a great
deal of talk without meaning. I feel no bitterness or self-reproach
because the lives of most people are very much like this. But I will
use my reprieve for one meaningful deed.
DEATH: Is that why you are playing chess with Death?
KNIGHT: He is a clever opponent, but up to now I haven't lost a
DEATH: How will you outwit Death in your game?
KNIGHT: I use a combination of the bishop and the knight which
he hasn't yet discovered. In the next move I'll shatter one of his
DEATH: I'll remember that.
Death shows his face at the grill of the confession booth for a
moment but disappears instantly.
KNIGHT: You've tricked and cheated me! But we'll meet again,
and I'll find a way.
DEATH (invisible): We'll meet at the inn, and there we'll continue
The knight raises his hand and looks at it in the sunlight which
comes through the tiny window.
KNIGHT: This is my hand. I can move it, feel the blood pulsing
through it. The sun is still high in the sky and I, Antonius Block, am
playing chess with Death.
He makes a fist of his hand and lifts it to his temple. Meanwhile,
Jons and the painter have gotten drunk and are talking animatedly
JONS: Me and my master have been abroad and have just come
home. Do you understand, you little pictor? PAINTER: The Crusade.
JONS (drunk): Precisely. For ten years we sat in the Holy Land and
let snakes bite us, flies sting us, wild animals eat us, heathens butcher
us, the wine poison us, the women give us lice, the lice devour us, the
fevers rot us, all for the Glory of God. Our crusade was such
madness that only a real idealist could have thought it up. But what
you said about the plague was horrible. PAINTER: It's worse than that.
JONS: Ah me. No matter which way you turn, you have your
rump behind you. That's the truth. PAINTER: The rump behind you,
the rump behind you—there's a profound truth.
Jons paints a small figure which is supposed to represent himself.
JONS: This is squire Jons. He grins at Death, mocks the Lord,
laughs at himself and leers at the girls. His world is a Jons-world,
believable only to himself, ridiculous to all including himself,
meaningless to Heaven and of no interest to Hell.
The knight walks by, calls to his squire and goes out into the bright
sunshine. Jons manages to get himself down from the scaffolding.
Outside the church, four soldiers and a monk are in the process of
putting a woman in the stocks. Her face is pale and child-like, her
head has been shaved, and her knuckles are bloody and broken. Her
eyes are wide open, yet she doesn't appear to be fully conscious.
Jons and the knight stop and watch in silence. The soldiers are
working quickly and skillfully, but they seem frightened and
dejected. The monk mumbles from a small
book. One of the soldiers picks up a wooden bucket and with his
hand begins to smear a bloody paste on the wall of the church and
around the woman. Jons holds his nose.
JONS: That soup of yours has a hell of a stink. What is it good
SOLDIER: She has had carnal intercourse with the Evil One.
He whispers this with a horrified face and continues to splash the
sticky mess on the wall.
JONS: And now she's in the stocks. SOLDIER: She will be burned
tomorrow morning at the parish boundary. But we have to keep the
Devil away from the rest of us.
JONS (holding his nose): And you do that with this stinking mess?
SOLDIER: It's the best remedy: blood mixed with the bile of a big
black dog. The Devil can't stand the smell.
JONS: Neither can I.
Jons walks over toward the horses. The knight stands for a few
moments looking at the young girl. She is almost a child. Slowly
she turns her eyes toward him.
KNIGHT: Have you seen the Devil?
The monk stops reading and raises his head.
MONK: You must not talk to her.
KNIGHT: Can that be so dangerous?
MONK: I don't know, but she is believed to have caused the
pestilence with which we are afflicted.
KNIGHT: I understand.
He nods resignedly and walks away. The young woman
starts to moan as though she were having a horrible nightmare. The
sound of her cries follows the two riders for a considerable distance
down the road.
The sun stands high in the sky, like a red ball of fire. The waterskin
is empty and Jons looks for a well where he can fill it.
They approach a group of peasant cottages at the edge of the forest.
Jons ties up the horses, slings the skin over his shoulder and walks
along the path toward the nearest cottage. As always, his movements
are light and almost soundless. The door to the cottage is open. He
stops outside, but when no one appears he enters. It is very dark inside
and his foot touches a soft object. He looks down. Beside the
whitewashed fireplace, a woman is lying with her face to the ground.
At the sound of approaching steps, Jons quickly hides behind the
door. A man comes down a ladder from the loft. He is broad and
thick-set. His eyes are black and his face is pale and puffy. His clothes
are well cut but dirty and in rags. He carries a cloth sack. Looking
around, he goes into the inner room, bends over the bed, tucks
something into the bag, slinks along the walls, looking on the shelves,
finds something else which he tucks in his bag.
Slowly he re-enters the outer room, bends over the dead woman
and carefully slips a ring from her finger. At that moment a young
woman comes through the door. She stops and stares at the stranger.
RAVAL: Why do you look so surprised? I steal from the dead. These
days it's quite a lucrative enterprise.
The girl makes a movement as if to run away.
RAVEL: You're thinking of running to the village and telling. That
wouldn't serve any purpose. Each of us has to save his own skin. It's
as simple as that.
GIRL: Don't touch me.
RAVAL: Don't try to scream. There's no one around to hear you,
neither God nor man.
Slowly he closes the door behind the girl. The stuffy room is now
in almost total darkness. But Jons becomes clearly visible.
JONS: I recognize you, although it's a long time since we met.
Your name is Raval, from the theological college at Roskilde. You
are Dr. Mirabilis, Coelestis et Diabilis.
Raval smiles uneasily and looks around.
JONS: Am I not right?
The girl stands immobile.
JONS: You were the one who, ten years ago, convinced my master
of the necessity to join a better-class crusade to the Holy Land.
Raval looks around.
JONS: You look uncomfortable. Do you have a stomachache?
Raval smiles anxiously.
JONS: When I see you, I suddenly understand the meaning of
these ten years, which previously seemed to me such a waste. Our life
was too good and we were too satisfied with ourselves. The Lord
wanted to punish us for our complacency. That is why He sent you to
spew out your holy venom and poison the knight.
RAVAL: I acted in good faith.
JONS: But now you know better, don't you? Because now you
have turned into a thief. A more fitting and rewarding occupation for
scoundrels. Isn't that so?
With a quick movement he knocks the knife out of Roval's hand,
gives him a kick so that he falls on the floor and is about to finish
him off. Suddenly the girl screams. Jons stops and makes a gesture
of generosity with his hand.
JONS: By all means. I'm not bloodthirsty. (He bends over Raval)
RAVAL: Don't beat me.
JONS: I don't have the heart to touch you. Doctor. But remember
this: The next time we meet, I'll brand your face the way one does
with thieves. (He rises) What I really came for is to get my waterskin
filled. GIRL: We have a deep well with cool, fresh water. Come, I'll
They walk out of the house. Raval lies still for a few moments,
then he rises slowly and looks around. When no one is in sight, he
takes his bag and steals away.
Jons quenches his thirst and fills his bag with water. The girl
JONS: Jons is my name. I am a pleasant and talkative young man
who has never had anything but kind thoughts and has only done
beautiful and noble deeds. I'm kindest of all to young women. With
them, there is no limit to my kindness.
He embraces her and tries to kiss her, but she holds herself back.
Almost immediately he loses interest, hoists the waterbag on his
shoulder and pats the girl on the cheek.
JONS: Goodbye, my girl. I could very well have raped you,
but between you and me, I'm tired of that kind of love. It runs a
little dry in the end.
He laughs kindly and walks away from her. When he has walked
a short distance he turns; the girl is still there.
JONS: Now that I think of it, I will need a housekeeper. Can you
prepare good food? (The girl nods] As far as I know, I'm still a
married man, but I have high hopes that my wife is dead by now.
That's why I need a housekeeper. (The girl doesn't answer but gets
up) The devil with it! Come along and don't stand there staring. I've
saved your life, so you owe me a great deal.
She begins walking toward him, her head bent. He doesn't wait for
her but walks toward the knight, who patiently awaits his squire.
The Embarrassment Inn lies in the eastern section of the province.
The plague has not yet reached this area on its way along the coast.
The actors have placed their wagon under a tree in the yard of the
inn. Dressed in colorful costumes, they perform a farce.
The spectators watch the performance, commenting on it noisily.
There are merchants with fat, beer-sweaty faces, apprentices and
journeymen, farmhands and milkmaids. A whole flock of children
perch in the trees around the wagon.
The knight and his squire have sat down in the shadow of a wall.
They drink beer and doze in the midday heat. The girl from the
deserted village sleeps at Jons' side.
Skat beats the drums, Jof blows the flute, Mia performs a gay and
lively dance. They perspire under the hot white sun. When they have
finished Skat comes forward and bows.
SKAT: Noble ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your interest.
Please remain standing a little longer, or sit on the ground, because
we are now going to perform a tragedia about an unfaithful wife, her
jealous husband, and the handsome lover—that's me.
Mia and Jof have quickly changed costumes and again step out on
the stage. They bow to the public.
SKAT: Here is the husband. Here is the wife. If you'll shut up
over there, you'll see something splendid. As I said, I play the lover
and I haven't entered yet. That's why I'm going to hide behind the
curtain for the time being. (He wipes the sweat from his forehead)
It's damned hot. I think we'll have a thunderstorm.
He places his leg in front of Jof as if to trip him, raises Mia's skirt,
makes a face as if he could see all the wonders of the world underneath
it, and disappears behind the gaudily patched curtains.
Skat is very handsome, now that he can see himself in the reflection
of a tin washbowl. His hair is tightly curled, his eyebrows are
beautifully bushy, glittering earrings vie for equal attention with his
teeth, and his cheeks are flushed rose red.
He sits out in back on the tailboard of the wagon, dangling his legs
and whistling to himself.
In the meantime Jof and Mia play their tragedy; it is not, however,
received with great acclaim.
Skat suddenly discovers that someone is watching him as he gazes
contentedly into the tin bowl. A woman stands there, stately in both
height and volume.
Skat frowns, toys with his small dagger and occasionally throws a
roguish but fiery glance at the beautiful visitor.
She suddenly discovers that one of her shoes doesn't quite fit. She
leans down to fix it and in doing so allows
her generous bosom to burst out of its prison—no more than honor
and chastity allow, but still enough so that the actor with his
experienced eye immediately sees that there are ample rewards to be
Now she comes a little closer, kneels down and opens a bundle
containing several dainty morsels and a skin filled with red wine. Jonas
Skat manages not to fall off the wagon in his excitement. Standing on
the steps of the wagon, he supports himself against a nearby tree,
crosses his legs and bows.
The woman quietly bites into a chicken leg dripping with fat. At this
moment the actor is stricken by a radiant glance full of lustful
When he sees this look, Skat makes an instantaneous decision,
jumps down from the wagon and kneels in front of the blushing
She becomes weak and faint from his nearness, looks at him with a
glassy glance and breathes heavily. Skat doesn't neglect to press kisses
on her small, chubby hands. The sun shines brightly and small birds
make noises in the bushes.
Now she is forced to sit back; her legs seem unwilling to support her
any longer. Bewildered, she singles out another chicken leg from the
large sack of food and holds it up in front of Skat with an appealing
and triumphant expression, as if it were her maidenhood being offered
as a prize.
Skat hesitates momentarily, but he is still the strategist. He lets the
chicken leg fall to the grass, and murmurs in the woman's rosy ear.
His words seem to please her. She puts her arms around the actor's
neck and pulls him to her with such fierceness that both of them lose
their balance and tumble down on the soft grass. The small birds take
to their wings with frightened shrieks.
Jof stands in the hot sun with a flickering lantern in his
song never stops. The Christ figure on its timbered cross is raised
above the heads of the crowd. It is not Christ triumphant, but the
suffering Jesus with the sores, the blood, the hammered nails and the
face in convulsive pain. The Son of God, nailed on the wood of the
cross, suffering scorn and shame.
The penitents have now sunk down in the dirt of the road. They
collapse where they stood like slaughtered cattle. Their screams rise
with the song of the monks, through misty clouds of incense, toward
the white fire of the sun.
A large square monk rises from his knees and reveals his face,
which is red-brown from the sun. His eyes glitter; his voice is thick
with impotent scorn.
MONK: God has sentenced us to punishment. We shall all perish in
the black death. You, standing there like gaping cattle, you who sit
there in your glutted complacency, do you know that this may be your
last hour? Death stands right behind you. I can see how his crown
gleams in the sun. His scythe flashes as he raises it above your heads.
Which one of you shall he strike first? You there, who stands staring
like a goat, will your mouth be twisted into the last unfinished gasp
before nightfall? And you, woman, who bloom with life and self-
satisfaction, will you pale and become extinguished before the
morning dawns? You back there, with your swollen nose and stupid
grin, do you have another year left to dirty the earth with your refuse?
Do you know, you insensible fools, that you shall die today or
tomorrow, or the next day, because all of you have been sentenced?
Do you hear what I say? Do you hear the word? You have been
The monk falls silent, looking around with a bitter face and a
cold, scornful glance. Now he clenches his hands, straddles the
ground and turns his face upward.
MONK: Lord have mercy on us in our humiliation! Don't turn your
face from us in loathing and contempt, but be merciful to us for the
sake of your son, Jesus Christ.
He makes the sign of the cross over the crowd and then begins a
new song in a strong voice. The monks rise and join in the song. As if
driven by some superhuman force, the penitents begin to whip
themselves again, still wailing and moaning.
The procession continues. New members have joined the rear of
the column; others who were unable to go on lie weeping in the dust
of the road.
Jons the squire drinks his beer.
JONS: This damned ranting about doom. Is that food for the minds
of modern people? Do they really expect us to take them seriously?
The knight grins tiredly.
JONS: Yes, now you grin at me, my lord. But allow me to
point out that I've either read, heard or experienced most
of the tales which we people tell each other.
KNIGHT (yawns): Yes, yes.
JONS: Even the ghost stories about God the Father, the
angels, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost—all these I've
accepted without too much emotion.
He leans down over the girl as she crouches at his feet and pats her
on the head. The knight drinks his beer silently.
JONS (contentedly): My little stomach is my world, my head is my
eternity, and my hands, two wonderful suns. My legs are time's
damned pendulums, and my dirty feet are two splendid starting points
for my philosophy. Every-
thing is worth precisely as much as a belch, the only difference
being that a belch is more satisfying.
The beer mug is empty. Sighing, Jons gets to his feet. The girl
follows him like a shadow.
In the yard he meets a large man with a sooty face and a dark
expression. He stops Jons with a roar.
JONS: What are you screaming about?
PLOG: I am Plog, the smith, and you are the squire Jons.
JONS: That's possible.
PLOG: Have you seen my wife?
JONS: No, I haven't. But if I had seen her and she looked like you,
I'd quickly forget that I'd seen her.
PLOG: Well, in that case you haven't seen her.
JONS: Maybe she's run off.
PLOG: Do you know anything?
JONS: I know quite a lot, but not about your wife. Go to the inn.
Maybe they can help you.
The smith sighs sadly and goes inside.
The inn is very small and full of people eating and drinking to
forget their newly aroused fear of eternity. In the open fireplace a
roasting pig turns on an iron spit. The sun shines outside the
casement window, its sharp rays piercing the darkness of the room,
which is thick with fumes and perspiration.
MERCHANT: Yes, it's true! The plague is spreading along the west
coast. People are dying like flies. Usually business would be good at
this time of year, but, damn it, I've still got my whole stock unsold.
WOMAN: They speak of the judgment day. And all these omens are
terrible. Worms, chopped-off hands and other monstrosities began
pouring out of an old woman, and
down in the village another woman gave birth to a calf's head.
OLD MAN: The day of judgment. Imagine.
FARMER: It hasn't rained here for a month. We'll surely
lose our crops.
MERCHANT: And people are acting crazy, I'd say. They flee
the country and carry the plague with them wherever they go.
OLD MAN: The day of judgment. Just think, just think!
FARMER: If it's as they say, I suppose a person should look after
his house and try to enjoy life as long as he can. WOMAN: But there
have been other things too, such things that can't even be spoken of.
(Whispers) Things that mustn't be named—but the priests say that the
woman carries it between her legs and that's why she must cleanse
OLD MAN: Judgment day. And the Riders of the Apocalypse stand
at the bend in the village road. I imagine they'll come on judgment
night, at sundown. WOMAN: There are many who have purged
themselves with fire and died from it, but the priests say that it's
better to die pure than to live for hell.
MERCHANT: This is the end, yes, it is. No one says it out loud, but
all of us know that it's the end. And people are going mad from fear.
FARMER: So you're afraid too. MERCHANT: Of course I'm afraid.
OLD MAN: The judgment day becomes night, and the angels
descend and the graves open. It will be terrible to see.
They whisper in low tones and sit close to each other. Plog, the
smith, shoves his way into a place next to Jof, who is still dressed in
his costume. Opposite him sits Raval, leaning slightly forward, his
face perspiring heavily. Raval rolls an armlet out on the table.
RAVAL: Do you want this armlet? You can have it cheap.
JOF: I can't afford it.
RAVAL: It's real silver.
JOF: It's nice. But it's surely too expensive for me.
PLOG: Excuse me, but has anyone here seen my wife?
JOF: Has she disappeared? PLOG: They say she's run away.
JOF: Has she deserted you? PLOG: With an actor.
JOF: An actor! If she's got such bad taste, then I think you should
let her go.
PLOG: You're right. My first thought, of course, was to kill her.
JOF: Oh. But to murder her, that's a terrible thing to do. PLOG: I'm
also going to kill the actor.
JOF: The actor?
PLOG: Of course, the one she eloped with.
JOF: What has he done to deserve that? PLOG: Are
JOF: The actor! Now I understand. There are too many of them, so
even if he hasn't done anything in particular you ought to kill him
merely because he's an actor. PLOG: You see, my wife has always been
interested in the tricks of the theater.
JOF: And that turned out to be her misfortune. PLOG: Her
misfortune, but not mine, because a person who's born unfortunate can
hardly suffer from any further misfortune. Isn't that true?
Now Raval enters the discussion. He is slightly drunk and his voice
is shrill and evil.
RAVAL: Listen, you! You sit there and lie to the smith.
JOF: I! A liar!
RAVAL: You're an actor too and it's probably your partner who's run
off with Plog's old lady.
PLOG: Are you an actor too?
JOF: An actor! Me! I wouldn't quite call myself that! RAVAL: We
ought to kill you; it's only logical. JOF (laughs): You're really funny.
RAVAL: How strange—you've turned pale. Have you anything on your
JOF: You're funny. Don't you think he's funny? (To Plog) Oh, you
RAVAL: Maybe we should mark you up a little with a knife, like
they do petty scoundrels of your kind.
Plog bangs his hands down on the table so that the dishes jump. He
PLOG (shouting): What have you done with my wife?
The room becomes silent. Jof looks around, but there is no exit, no
way to escape. He puts his hands on the table. Suddenly a knife
flashes through the air and sinks into the table top between his fingers.
Jof snatches away his hands and raises his head. He looks half
surprised, as if the truth had just become apparent to him.
JOF: Do you want to hurt me? Why? Have I provoked someone, or
got in the way? I'll leave right now and never come back.
Jof looks from one face to another, but no one seems ready to help
him or come to his defense.
RAVAL: Get up so everyone can hear you. Talk louder.
Trembling, Jof rises. He opens his mouth as if to say something, but
not a word comes out.
RAVAL: Stand on your head so that we can see how good an actor
Jof gets up on the table and stands on his head. A hand pushes
him forward so that he collapses on the floor. Plog rises, pulls him
to his feet with one hand.
PLOG (shouts): What have you done with my wife?
The smith beats him so furiously that Jof flies across the table.
Raval leans over him.
RAVAL: Don't lie there moaning. Get up and dance.
JOF: I don't want to. I can't.
RAVAL: Show us how you imitate a bear.
JOF: I can't play a bear.
RAVAL: Let's see if you can't after all.
Raval prods Jof lightly with the knife point. Jof gets up with cold
sweat on his cheeks and forehead, frightened half to death. He
begins to jump and hop on top of the tables, swinging his arms and
legs and making grotesque faces. Some laugh, but most of the
people sit silently. Jof gasps as if his lungs were about to burst. He
sinks to his knees, and someone pours beer over him.
RAVAL: Up again! Be a good bear.
JOF: I haven't done any harm. I haven't got the strength
to play a bear any more.
At that moment the door opens and Jons enters. Jof sees his
chance and steals out. Raval intends to follow him, but suddenly
stops. Jons and Raval look at each other.
JONS: Do you remember what I was going to do to you if we
Raval steps back without speaking.
JONS: I'm a man who keeps his word.
Jons raises his knife and cuts Raval from forehead to cheek.
Raval staggers toward the wall.
The hot day has become night. Singing and howling can be heard
from the inn. In a hollow near the forest, the light still lingers.
Hidden in the grass and the shrubbery, nightingales sing and their
voices echo through the stillness.
The players' wagon stands in a small ravine, and not far away the
horse grazes on the dry grass. Mia has sat down in front of the
wagon with her son in her arms. They play together and laugh
Now a soft gleam of light strokes the hilltops, a last reflection
from the red clouds over the sea.
Not far from the wagon, the knight sits crouched over his chess
game. He lifts his head.
The evening light moves across the heavy wagon wheels, across
the woman and the child.
The knight gets up.
Mia sees him and smiles. She holds up her struggling son, as if to
amuse the knight.
KNIGHT: What's his name?
KNIGHT: How old is he?
MIA: Oh, he'll soon be two.
KNIGHT: He's big for his age.
MIA: Do you think so? Yes, I guess he's rather big.
She puts the child down on the ground and half rises to shake out
her red skirt. When she sits down again, the knight steps closer.
KNIGHT: You played some kind of show this afternoon.
MIA: Did you think it was bad?
KNIGHT: You are more beautiful now without your face
painted, and this gown is more becoming.
MIA: You see, Jonas Skat has run off and left us, so we're in real
KNIGHT: Is that your husband?
MIA (laughs): Jonas! The other man is my husband. His name is
KNIGHT: Oh, that one.
MIA: And now there's only him and me. We'll have to start doing
tricks again and that's more trouble than it's worth.
KNIGHT: Do you do tricks also?
MIA: We certainly do. And Jof is a very skillful juggler.
KNIGHT: Is Mikael going to be an acrobat?
MIA: Jof wants him to be.
KNIGHT: But you don't.
MIA: I don't know. (Smiling) Perhaps he'll become a knight.
KNIGHT: Let me assure you, that's no pleasure either.
MIA: No, you don't look so happy.
MIA: Are you tired?
KNIGHT: I have dull company.
MIA: Do you mean your squire?
KNIGHT: No, not him.
MIA: Who do you mean, then?
MIA: I understand.
KNIGHT: Do you, really?
MIA: Yes, I understand rather well. I have often wondered why
people torture themselves as often as they can. Isn't that so?
She nods energetically and the knight smiles seriously. Now the
shrieks and the noise from the inn become louder. Black figures
flicker across the grass mound. Someone collapses, gets up and
runs. It is Jof. Mia stretches out her arms and receives him. He holds
his hands in front of his face, moaning like a child, and his body
sways. He kneels. Mia holds him close to her and sprinkles him with
small, anxious questions: What have you done? How are you? What
is it? Does it hurt? What can I do? Have they been cruel to you? She
runs for a rag, which she dips in water, and carefully bathes her
husband's dirty, bloody face.
Eventually a rather sorrowful visage emerges. Blood runs from a
bruise on his forehead and his nose, and a tooth has been loosened,
but otherwise Jof seems unhurt.
JOF: Ouch, it hurts.
MIA: Why did you have to go there? And of course you
Mia's anxiety has been replaced by a mild anger. She pats him a
little harder than necessary.
JOF: Ouch! I didn't drink anything.
MIA: Then I suppose you were boasting about the angels
and devils you consort with. People don't like someone
who has too many ideas and fantasies.
JOF: I swear to you that I didn't say a word about angels.
MIA: You were, of course, busy singing and dancing. You
can never stop being an actor. People also become angry at
that, and you know it.
Jof doesn't answer but searches for the armlet. He holds it up in
front of Mia with an injured expression.
JOF: Look what I bought for you.
MIA: You couldn't afford it. JOF
(angry): But I got it anyhow.
The armlet glitters faintly in the twilight. Mia now pulls it
across her wrist. They look at it in silence, and their faces
soften. They look at each other, touch each other's hands. Jof
puts his head against Mia's shoulder and sighs.
JOF: Oh, how they beat me.
MIA: Why didn't you beat them back?
JOF: I only become frightened and angry. I never get a
chance to hit back. I can get angry, you know that. I roared like
MIA: Were they frightened?
JOF: No, they just laughed.
Their son Mikael crawls over to them. Jof lies down on the
ground and pulls his son on top of him. Mia gets down on her
hands and knees and playfully sniffs at Mikael.
MIA: Do you notice how good he smells?
JOF: And he is so compact to hold. You're a sturdy one. A
real acrobat's body.
He lifts Mikael up and holds him by the legs. Mia looks up
suddenly, remembering the knight's presence.
MIA: Yes, this is my husband, Jof.
JOF: Good evening.
KNIGHT: Good evening.
Jof becomes a little embarrassed and rises. All three of them
look at one another silently.
KNIGHT: I have just told your wife that you have a splen-
did son. He'll bring great joy to you.
JOF: Yes, he's fine.
They become silent again.
JOF: Have we nothing to offer the knight, Mia?
KNIGHT: Thank you, I don't want anything.
MIA (housewifely): I picked a basket of wild strawberries
this afternoon. And we have a drop of milk fresh from a
cow . . .
JOF: . . . that we were allowed to milk. So, if you would
like to partake of this humble fare, it would be a great
MIA: Please be seated and I'll bring the food.
They sit down. Mia disappears with Mikael.
KNIGHT: Where are you going next?
JOF: Up to the saints' feast at Elsinore.
KNIGHT: I wouldn't advise you to go there.
JOF: Why not, if I may ask?
KNIGHT: The plague has spread in that direction,
following the coast line south. It's said that people are dying by
the tens of thousands.
JOF: Really! Well, sometimes life is a little hard.
KNIGHT: May I suggest . . . (Jof looks at him, surprised) . .
. that you follow me through the forest tonight and stay at my
home if you like. Or go along the east coast.
You'll probably be safer there.
Mia has returned with a bowl of wild strawberries and the
milk, places it between them and gives each of them a spoon.
JOF: I wish you good appetite.
KNIGHT: I humbly thank you.
MIA: These are wild strawberries from the forest. I have
never seen such large ones. They grow up there on the hillside.
Notice how they smell!
She points with a spoon and smiles. The knight nods, as if he
were pondering some profound thought. Jof eats heartily.
JOF: Your suggestion is good, but I must think it over.
MIA: It might be wise to have company going through the forest.
It's said to be full of trolls and ghosts and bandits. That's what I've
JOF (staunchly): Yes, I'd say that it's not a bad idea, but I have to
think about it. Now that Skat has left, I am responsible for the
troupe. After all, I have become director of the whole company.
MIA: (mimics): After all, I have become director of the whole
Jons comes walking slowly down the hill, closely followed by the
girl. Mia points with her spoon.
MIA: Do you want some strawberries?
JOF: This man saved my life. Sit down, my friend, and let us be
MIA (stretches herself): Oh, how nice this is.
KNIGHT: For a short while.
MIA: Nearly always. One day is like another. There is nothing
strange about that. The summer, of course, is better than the winter,
because in summer you don't have to be cold. But spring is best of
JOF: I have written a poem about the spring. Perhaps you'd like
to hear it. I'll run and get my lyre. (He sprints toward the -wagon)
MIA: Not now, Jof. Our guests may not be amused by your songs.
JONS (politely): By all means. I write little songs myself.
For example, I know a very funny song about a wanton fish which
I doubt that you've heard yet.
The knight looks at him.
JONS: You'll not get to hear it either. There are persons here who
don't appreciate my art and I don't want to upset anyone. I'm a
Jof has come out with his lyre, sits on a small, gaudy box and
plucks at the instrument, humming quietly, searching for his melody.
Jons yawns and lies down.
KNIGHT: People are troubled by so much.
MIA: It's always better when one is two. Have you no one of your
KNIGHT: Yes, I think I had someone.
MIA: And what is she doing now?
KNIGHT: I don't know.
MIA: You look so solemn. Was she your beloved?
KNIGHT: We were newly married and we played together. We
laughed a great deal. I wrote songs to her eyes, to her nose, to her
beautiful little ears. We went hunting together and at night we
danced. The house was full of life . . .
MIA: Do you want some more strawberries? KNIGHT (shakes his
head): Faith is a torment, did you know that? It is like loving
someone who is out there in the darkness but never appears, no
matter how loudly you call.
MIA: I don't understand what you mean.
KNIGHT: Everything I've said seems meaningless and unreal
while I sit here with you and your husband. How unimportant it all
He takes the bowl of milk in his hand and drinks deeply
from it several times. Then he carefully puts it down and looks
MIA: Now you don't look so solemn.
KNIGHT: I shall remember this moment. The silence, the
twilight, the bowls of strawberries and milk, your faces in the
evening light. Mikael sleeping, Jof with his lyre. I'll try to remember
what we have talked about. I'll carry this memory between my hands
as carefully as if it were a bowl filled to the brim with fresh milk.
(He turns his face away and looks out toward the sea and the
colorless gray sky) And it will be an adequate sign—it will be
enough for me.
He rises, nods to the others and walks down toward the forest. Jof
continues to play on his lyre. Mia stretches out on the grass.
The knight picks up his chess game and carries it toward the
beach. It is quiet and deserted; the sea is still.
DEATH: I have been waiting for you.
KNIGHT: Pardon me. I was detained for a few moments.
Because I revealed my tactics to you, I'm in retreat. It's
DEATH: Why do you look so satisfied?
KNIGHT: That's my secret.
DEATH: Of course. Now I take your knight.
KNIGHT: You did the right thing.
DEATH: Have you tricked me?
KNIGHT: Of course. You fell right in the trap. Check!
DEATH: What are you laughing at?
KNIGHT: Don't worry about my laughter; save your king
DEATH: You're rather arrogant.
KNIGHT: Our game amuses me.
DEATH: It's your move. Hurry up. I'm a little pressed for time.
KNIGHT: I understand that you've a lot to do, but you can't get
out of our game. It takes time.
Death is about to answer him but stops and leans over the board.
The knight smiles.
DEATH: Are you going to escort the juggler and his wife through
the forest? Those whose names are Jof and Mia and who have a
KNIGHT: Why do you ask?
DEATH: Oh, no reason at all.
The knight suddenly stops smiling. Death looks at him scornfully.
Immediately after sundown, the little company gathers in the yard
of the inn. There is the knight, Jons and the girl, Jof and Mia in their
wagon. Their son, Mikael, is already asleep. Jonas Skat is still
Jons goes into the inn to get provisions for the night journey and
to have a last mug of beer. The inn is now empty and quiet except
for a few farmhands and maidens who are eating their evening meal
in a comer.
At one of the small windows sits a lonely, hunched-over fellow,
with a jug of brandy in his hands. His expression is very sad. Once
in a while he is shaken by a gigantic sob. It is Plog, the smith, who
sits there and whimpers.
JONS: God in heaven, isn't this Plog, the smith?
PLOG: Good evening.
JONS: Are you sitting here sniveling in loneliness?
PLOG: Yes, yes, look at the smith. He moans like a rabbit.
JONS: If I were in your boots, I'd be happy to get rid of a wife in
such an easy way.
Jons pats the smith on the back, quenches his thirst with beer, and
sits down by his side.
PLOG: Are you married?
JONS: I! A hundred times and more. I can't keep count of all my
wives any longer. But it's often that way when you're a traveling
PLOG: I can assure you that one wife is worse than a hundred, or
else I've had worse luck than any poor wretch in this miserable
world, which isn't impossible.
JONS: Yes, it's hell -with women and hell -without them. So,
however you look at it, it's still best to kill them off while it's most
PLOG: Women's nagging, the shrieking of children and wet
diapers, sharp nails and sharp words, blows and pokes, and the devil's
aunt for a mother-in-law. And then, when one wants to sleep after a
long day, there's a new song-tears, whining and moans loud enough
to wake the dead.
Jons nods delightedly. He has drunk deeply and talks with an old
JONS: Why don't you kiss me good night?
PLOG (in the same way): Why don't you sing a song for
JONS: Why don't you love me the way you did when we
PLOG: Why don't you look at my new shift?
JONS: You only turn your back and snore.
PLOG: Oh hell!
JONS: Oh hell. And now she's gone. Rejoice!
PLOG (furious): I'll snip their noses with pliers, I'll bash in their
chests with a small hammer, I'll tap their heads ever so lightly with a
Plog begins to cry loudly and his whole body sways in an
enormous attack of sorrow. Jons looks at him with interest.
JONS: Look how he howls again.
PROG: Maybe I love her.
JONS: So, maybe you love her! Then, you poor misguided ham
shank, I'll tell you that love is another word for lust, plus lust, plus
lust and a damn lot of cheating, falseness, lies and all kinds of other
PLOG: Yes, but it hurts anyway.
JONS: Of course. Love is the blackest of all plagues, and if one
could die of it, there would be some pleasure in love. But you almost
always get over it.
PLOG: No, no, not me.
JONS: Yes, you too. There are only a couple of poor wretches
who die of love once in a while. Love is as contagious as a cold in
the nose. It eats away at your strength, your independence, your
morale, if you have any. If everything is imperfect in this imperfect
world, love is most perfect in its perfect imperfection.
PLOG: You're happy, you with your oily words, and, besides, you
believe your own drivel.
JONS: Believe! Who said that I believed it? But I love to give
good advice. If you ask me for advice you'll get two pieces for the
price of one, because after all I really am an educated man.
Jons gets up from the table and strokes his face with his hands.
The smith becomes very unhappy and grabs his belt.
PLOG: Listen, Jons. May I go with you through the forest? I'm so
lonely and don't want to go home because everyone will laugh at me.
JONS: Only if you don't whimper all the time, because in that case
we'll all have to avoid you.
The smith gets up and embraces Jons. Slightly drunk, the two new
friends walk toward the door.
When they come out in the yard, Jof immediately catches sight of
them, becomes angry and yells a warning to Jons.
JOF: Jons! Watch out. That one wants to fight all the time.
He's not quite sane.
JONS: Yes, but now he's just sniveling.
The smith steps up to Jof, who blanches with fear. Plog offers his
PLOG: I'm really sorry if I hurt you. But I have such a hell of a
temper, you know. Shake hands.
Jof gingerly proffers a frightened hand and gets it thoroughly
shaken and squeezed. While Jof tries to straighten out his fingers,
Plog is seized by great good will and opens his arms.
PLOG: Come in my arms, little brother.
JOF: Thank you, thank you, perhaps later. But now we're
really in a hurry.
Jof climbs up on the wagon seat quickly and clucks at the horse.
The small company is on its way toward the forest and the night.
It is dark in the forest.
First comes the knight on his large horse. Then Jof and Mia
follow, sitting close to each other in the juggler's wagon. Mia holds
her son in her arms. Jons follows them with his heavily laden horse.
He has the smith in tow. The girl sits on top of the load on the
horse's back, hunched over as if asleep.
The footsteps, the horses' heavy tramp on the soft path, the human
breathing—yet it is quiet.
Then the moon sails out of the clouds. The forest suddenly
becomes alive with the night's unreality. The dazzling light pours
through the thick foliage of the beech trees, a moving, quivering
world of light and shadow.
The wanderers stop. Their eyes are dark with anxiety and
foreboding. Their faces are pale and unreal in the floating light. It is
PLOG: Now the moon has come out of the clouds.
JONS: That's good. Now we can see the road better.
MIA: I don't like the moon tonight.
JOF: The trees stand so still.
JONS: That's because there's no wind.
PLOG: I guess he means that they stand very still.
JOF: It's completely quiet.
JONS: If one could hear a fox at least.
JOF: Or an owl.
JONS: Or a human voice besides one's own.
GIRL: They say it's dangerous to remain standing in moonlight.
Suddenly, out of the silence and the dim light falling across the
forest road, a ghostlike cart emerges.
It is the witch being taken to the place where she will be burned.
Next to her eight soldiers shuffle along tiredly, carrying their lances
on their backs. The girl sits in the cart, bound with iron chains
around her throat and arms. She stares fixedly into the moonlight.
A black figure sits next to her, a monk with his hood pulled down
over his head.
JONS: Where are you going?
SOLDIER: To the place of execution.
JONS: Yes, now I can see. It's the girl who has done it with the
Black One. The witch?
The soldier nods sourly. Hesitantly, the travelers follow. The
knight guides his horse over to the side of the cart. The witch seems
to be half conscious, but her eyes are wide open.
KNIGHT: I see that they have hurt your hands.
The witch's pale, childish face turns toward the knight and she
shakes her head.
KNIGHT: I have a potion that will stop your pain.
She shakes her head again.
JONS: Why do you burn her at this time of night? People have so
few diversions these days.
SOLDIER: Saints preserve us, be quiet! It's said that she brings the
Devil with her wherever she goes.
JONS: You are eight brave men, then.
SOLDIER: Well, we've been paid. And this is a volunteer job.
The soldier speaks in whispers while glancing anxiously at the
KNIGHT (to witch): What's your name?
TYAN: My name is Tyan, my lord.
KNIGHT: How old are you?
TYAN: Fourteen, my lord.
KNIGHT: And is it true that you have been in league with the
Tyan nods quietly and looks away. Now they arrive at
the parish border. At the foot of the nearby hills lies a crossroads.
The pyre has already been stacked in the center of the forest
clearing. The travelers remain there, hesitant and curious.
The soldiers have tied up the cart horse and bring out two long
wooden beams. They nail rungs across the beams so that it looks
like a ladder. Tyan will be bound to this like an eelskin stretched out
The sound of the hammering echoes through the forest. The
knight has dismounted and walks closer to the cart. Again he tries to
catch Tyan's eyes, touches her very lightly as if to waken her.
Slowly she turns her face toward him.
KNIGHT: They say that you have been in league with the Devil.
TYAN: Why do you ask?
KNIGHT: Not out of curiosity, but for very personal reasons. I
too want to meet him.
KNIGHT: I want to ask him about God. He, if anyone, must
TYAN: You can see him anytime.
KNIGHT: How? TYAN: You must do as I tell you.
The knight grips the wooden rail of the cart so tightly that his
knuckles whiten. Tyan leans forward and joins her gaze with his.
TYAN: Look into my eyes.
The knight meets her gaze. They stare at each other for a long
TYAN: What do you see? Do you see him?
KNIGHT: I see fear in your eyes, an empty, numb fear. But
He falls silent. The soldiers work at the stakes; their hammering
echoes in the forest.
TYAN: No one, nothing, no one?
KNIGHT (shakes his head): No. TYAN: Can't you see him behind
your back? KNIGHT (looks around): No, there is no one there. TYAN:
But he is with me everywhere. I only have to stretch out my hand and
I can feel his hand. He is with me now too. The fire won't hurt me.
He will protect me from everything evil.
KNIGHT: Has he told you this?
TYAN: I know it.
KNIGHT: Has he said it?
TYAN: I know it, I know it. You must see him somewhere, you
must. The priests had no difficulty seeing him, nor did the soldiers.
They are so afraid of him that they don't even dare touch me.
The sound of the hammers stops. The soldiers stand like black
shadows rooted in the moss. They fumble with the chains and pull at
the neck iron. Tyan moans weakly, as if she were far away.
KNIGHT: Why have you crushed her hands?
SOLDIER (surly): We didn't do it.
KNIGHT: Who did?
SOLDIER: Ask the monk.
The soldiers pull the iron and the chains. Tyan's shaven head
sways, gleaming in the moonlight. Her blackened mouth opens as if
to scream, but no sound emerges.
They take her down from the cart and lead her toward
the ladder and the stake. The knight turns to the monk, who
remains seated in the cart.
KNIGHT: What have you done with the child? Death turns
around and looks at him.
DEATH: Don't you ever stop asking questions?
KNIGHT: No, I'll never stop.
The soldiers chain Tyan to the rungs of the ladder. She submits
resignedly, moans weakly like an animal and tries to ease her body
When they have fastened her, they walk over to light the pyre.
The knight steps up and leans over her.
JONS: For a moment I thought of killing the soldiers, but it would
do no good. She's nearly dead already.
One of the soldiers approaches. Thick smoke wells down from the
pyre and sweeps over the quiet shadows near the crossroads and the
SOLDIER: I've told you to be careful. Don't go too close to her.
The knight doesn't heed this warning. He cups his hand, fills it
with water from the skin and gives it to Tyan. Then he gives her a
KNIGHT: Take this and it will stop the pain.
Smoke billows down over them and they begin to cough. The
soldiers step forward and raise the ladder against a nearby fir tree.
Tyan hangs there motionlessly, her eyes wide open.
The knight straightens up and stands immobile. Jons is behind
him, his voice nearly choked with rage.
JONS: What does she see? Can you tell me?
KNIGHT (shakes his head): She feels no more pain.
JONS: You don't answer my question. Who watches over that
child? Is it the angels, or God, or the Devil, or only the emptiness?
Emptiness, my lord!
KNIGHT: This cannot be.
JONS: Look at her eyes, my lord. Her poor brain has just made a
discovery. Emptiness under the moon.
JONS: We stand powerless, our arms hanging at our sides,
because we see what she sees, and our terror and hers are the same.
(An outburst) That poor little child. I can't stand it, I can't stand it ...
His voice sticks in his throat and he suddenly walks away. The
knight mounts his horse. The travelers depart from the crossroads.
Tyan finally closes her eyes.
The forest is now very dark. The road winds between the trees.
The wagon squeaks and rattles over stones and roots. A bird
Jof lifts his head and wakes up. He has been asleep with his arms
around Mia's shoulders. The knight is sharply silhouetted against the
His silence makes him seem almost unreal.
Jons and the smith are slightly drunk and support each other.
Suddenly Plog has to sit down. He puts his hands over his face and
PLOG: Oh, now it came over me again!
JONS: Don't scream. What came over you?
PLOG: My wife, damn it. She is so beautiful. She is so
beautiful that she can't be described without the accompaniment
of a lyre.
JONS: Now it starts again.
PLOG: Her smile is like brandy. Her eyes like blackberries . . .
Plog searches for beautiful words. He gestures gropingly with his
JONS (sighs): Get up, you tear-drenched pig. We'll lose the others.
PLOG: Yes, of course, of course. Her nose is like a little pink
potato; her behind is like a juicy pear—yes, the whole woman is like
a strawberry patch. I can see her in front of me, with arms like
wonderful cucumbers. JONS: Saints almighty, stop! You're a very
bad poet, despite the fact that you're drunk. And your vegetable gar-
den bores me.
They walk across an open meadow. Here it is a little brighter and
the moon shimmers behind a thin sky. Suddenly the smith points a
large finger toward the edge of the forest.
PLOG: Look there.
JONS: Do you see something?
PLOG: There, over there!
JONS: I don't see anything.
PLOG: Hang on to something, my friends. The hour is
near! Who is that at the edge of the forest if not my own
dearly beloved, with actor attached?
The two lovers discover the smith and it's too late. They cannot
retreat. Skat immediately takes to his heels. Plog chases him,
swinging his sledge and bellowing like a wild boar.
For a few confusing moments the two rivals stumble among the
stones and bushes in the gray gloom of the forest. The duel begins to
look senseless, because both of them are equally frightened.
The travelers silently observe this confused performance. Lisa
screams once in a while, more out of duty than out of impulse.
SKAT (panting): You miserable stubbleheaded bastard of seven
scurvy bitches, if I were in your lousy rags I would be stricken with
such eternal shame about my breath, my voice, my arms and legs—
in short, about my whole body— that I would immediately rid nature
of my own embarrassing self.
PLOG (angry): Watch out, you perfumed slob, that I don't fart on
you and immediately blow you down to the actor's own red-hot hell,
where you can sit and recite monologues to each other until the dust
comes out of the Devil's ears.
Then Lisa throws herself around her husband's neck.
LISA: Forgive me, dear little husband. I'll never do it again.
I am so sorry and you can't imagine how terribly that man
over there betrayed me.
PLOG: I'll kill him anyway.
LISA: Yes, do that, just kill him. He isn't even a human
JONS: Hell, he's an actor.
LISA: He is only a false beard, false teeth, false smiles, rehearsed
lines, and he's as empty as a jug. Just kill him.
Lisa sobs with excitement and sorrow. The smith looks around, a
little confused. The actor uses this opportunity. He pulls out a dagger
and places the point against his breast.
SKAT: She's right. Just kill me. If you thought that I was
going to apologize for being what I am, you are mistaken.
LISA: Look how sickening he is. How he makes a fool of himself,
how he puts on an act. Dear Plog, kill him!
SKAT: My friends, you have only to push, and my unreality will
soon be transformed into a new, solid reality. An absolutely tangible
LISA: Do something then. Kill him.
PLOG (embarrassed): He has to fight me, otherwise I can't kill
SKAT: Your life's thread now hangs by a very ragged shred. Idiot,
your day is short.
PLOG: You'll have to irritate me a little more to get me as angry as
Skat looks at the travelers with a pained expression and then lifts
his eyes toward the night sky.
SKAT: I forgive all of you. Pray for me sometimes.
Skat sinks the dagger into his breast and slowly falls to the
ground. The travelers stand confused. The smith rushes forward and
begins to pull at the actor's hands.
PLOG: Oh dear, dear, I didn't mean it that way! Look, there's no
life left in him. I was beginning to like him, and in my opinion Lisa
was much too spiteful.
Jof leans over his colleague.
JOF: He's dead, totally, enormously dead. In fact, I've
never seen such a dead actor.
LISA: Come on, let's go. This is nothing to mourn over. He
has only himself to blame.
PLOG: And I have to be married to her.
JONS: We must go on.
Skat lies in the grass and keeps the dagger pressed tightly to his
breast. The travelers depart and soon they have disappeared into the
dark forest on the other side of the meadow. When Skat is sure that
no one can see him, he sits up and lifts the dagger from his breast. It
is a stage dagger with a blade that pushes into the handle. Skat laughs
SKAT: Now that was a good scene. I'm really a good actor. After
all, why shouldn't I be a little pleased with myself? But where shall I
go? I'll wait until it becomes light and then I'll find the easiest way
out of the forest. I'll climb up a tree for the time being so that no
bears, wolves or ghosts can get at me.
He soon finds a likely tree and climbs up into its thick foliage. He
sits down as comfortably as possible and reaches for his food pouch.
SKAT (yawns): Tomorrow I'll find Jof and Mia and then we'll go to
the saints' feast in Elsinore. We'll make lots of money there. (Yawns)
Now, I'll sing a little song to myself:
I am a little bird
Who sings whate'er he will,
And when I am in danger
I fling out a pissing trill
As in the carnal thrill. (Speaks) It's boring to be
alone in the forest tonight. (Sings) The terrible night doesn't frighten
me . . .
He interrupts himself and listens. The sound of industrious
sawing is heard through the silence.
SKAT: Workmen in the forest. Oh, well! (Sings) The terrible
night doesn't frighten me ... Hey, what the devil . . . it's my tree
they're cutting down.
He peers through the foliage. Below him stands a dark figure
diligently sawing away at the base of the tree. Skat becomes
frightened and angry.
SKAT: Hey, you! Do you hear me, you tricky bastard? What are
you doing with my tree?
The sawing continues without a pause. Skat becomes more
SKAT: Can't you at least answer me? Politeness costs so little.
Who are you?
Death straightens his back and squints up at him. Skat cries out in
DEATH: I'm sawing down your tree because your time is up.
SKAT: It won't do. I haven't got time.
DEATH: So you haven't got time.
SKAT: No, I have my performance.
DEATH: Then it's been canceled because of death.
SKAT: My contract.
DEATH: Your contract is terminated.
SKAT: My children, my family.
DEATH: Shame on you. Skat!
SKAT: Yes, I'm ashamed.
Death begins to saw again. The tree creaks.
SKAT: Isn't there any way to get off? Aren't there any special
rules for actors?
DEATH: No, not in this case.
SKAT: No loopholes, no exceptions?
SKAT: Perhaps you'll take a bribe.
SKAT: Help! Help!
The tree falls. The forest becomes silent again.
Night and then dawn.
The travelers have come to a sort of clearing and have collapsed
on the moss. They lie quietly and listen to their own breathing, their
heartbeats, and the wind in the tree tops. Here the forest is wild and
impenetrable. Huge boulders stick up out of the ground like the
heads of black giants. A fallen tree lies like a mighty barrier
between light and shadow.
Mia, Jof and their child have sat down apart from the others.
They look at the light of the moon, which is no longer full and dead
but mysterious and unstable.
The knight sits bent over his chess game. Lisa cries quietly
behind the smith's back. Jons lies on the ground and looks up at the
JONS: Soon dawn will come, but the heat continues to hang
over us like a smothering blanket.
LISA: I'm so frightened.
PLOG: We feel that something is going to happen to us, but we
don't know what.
JONS: Maybe it's the day of judgment.
PLOG: The day of judgment . . .
Now something moves behind the fallen tree. There is a
rustling sound and a moaning cry that seems to come from a
wounded animal. Everyone listens intently, all faces turned toward
A voice comes out of the darkness.
RAVAL: Do you have some water?
Raval's perspiring face soon becomes visible. He disappears in the
darkness, but his voice is heard again.
RAVAL: Can't you give me a little water? (Pause) I have the
JONS: Don't come here. If you do I'll slit your throat. Keep to the
other side of the tree.
RAVAL: I'm afraid of death.
No one answers. There is complete silence. Raval gasps heavily
for air. The dry leaves rustle with his movements.
RAVAL: I don't want to die! I don't want to!
No one answers. Raval's face appears suddenly at the base of the
tree. His eyes bulge wildly and his mouth is ringed with foam.
RAVAL: Can't you have pity on me? Help me! At least talk to me.
No one answers. The trees sigh. Raval begins to cry.
RAVAL: I am going to die. I. I. I! What will happen to me! Can no
one console me? Haven't you any compassion? Can't you see that I...
His words are choked off by a gurgling sound. He disappears in
the darkness behind the fallen tree. It becomes quiet for a few
RAVAL (Whispers): Can't anyone . . . only a little water.
Suddenly the girl gets up with a quick movement, snatches Jons'
water bag and runs a few steps. Jons grabs her and holds her fast.
TONS: It's no use. It's no use. I know that it's no use. It's
meaningless. It's totally meaningless. I tell you that it's meaningless.
Can't you hear that I'm consoling you?
RAVAL: Help me, help me!
No one answers, no one moves. Raval's sobs are dry and
convulsive, like a frightened child's. His sudden scream is cut off in
Then it becomes quiet.
The girl sinks down and hides her face in her hands. Tons places
his hand on her shoulder.
The knight is no longer alone. Death has come to him and he
raises his hand.
DEATH: Shall we play our game to the end?
KNIGHT: Your move!
Death raises his hand and strikes the knight's queen. Antonius
Block looks at Death.
DEATH: Now I take your queen.
KNIGHT: I didn't notice that.
The knight leans over the game. The moonlight moves over the
chess pieces, which seem to have a life of their own.
Jof has dozed off for a few moments, but suddenly he wakens.
Then he sees the knight and Death together.
He becomes very frightened and awakens Mia.
MIA: Yes, what is it?
JOF: I see something terrible. Something I almost can't talk
MIA: What do you see?
JOF: The knight is sitting over there playing chess.
MIA: Yes, I can see that too and I don't think it's so terrible.
JOF: But do you see who he's playing with?
MIA: He is alone. You mustn't frighten me this way.
JOF: No, no, he isn't alone.
MIA: Who is it, then?
JOF: Death. He is sitting there playing chess with Death himself.
MIA: You mustn't say that.
JOF: We must try to escape.
MIA: One can't do that.
JOF: We must try. They are so occupied with their game that if
we move very quietly, they won't notice us.
Jof gets up carefully and disappears into the darkness behind the
trees. Mia remains standing, as if paralyzed by fear. She stares
fixedly at the knight and the chess game. She holds her son in her
Now Jof returns.
JOF: I have harnessed the horse. The wagon is standing near the
big tree. You go first and I'll follow you with the packs. See that
Mikael doesn't wake up.
Mia does what Jof has told her. At the same moment, the knight
looks up from his game.
DEATH: It is your move, Antonius Block.
The knight remains silent. He sees Mia go through the moonlight
toward the wagon. Jof bends down to pick up the pack and follows
at a distance.
DEATH: Have you lost interest in our game?
The knight's eyes become alarmed. Death looks at him intently.
KNIGHT: Lost interest? On the contrary.
DEATH: You seem anxious. Are you hiding anything?
KNIGHT: Nothing escapes you—or does it?
DEATH: Nothing escapes me. No one escapes from me.
KNIGHT: It's true that I'm worried.
He pretends to be clumsy and knocks the chess pieces over with
the hem of his coat. He looks up at Death.
KNIGHT: I've forgotten how the pieces stood.
DEATH (laughs contentedly): But I have not forgotten.
You can't get away that easily.
Death leans over the board and rearranges the pieces. The knight
looks past him toward the road. Mia has just climbed up on the
wagon. Jof takes the horse by the bridle and leads it down to the
road. Death notices nothing;
he is completely occupied with reconstructing the game.
DEATH: Now I see something interesting.
KNIGHT: What do you see?
DEATH: You are mated on the next move, Antonius Block.
KNIGHT: That's true.
DEATH: Did you enjoy your reprieve?
KNIGHT: Yes, I did.
DEATH: I'm happy to hear that. Now I'll be leaving you.
When we meet again, you and your companions' time will be up.
KNIGHT: And you will divulge your secrets.
DEATH: I have no secrets.
KNIGHT: So you know nothing.
DEATH: I have nothing to tell.
The knight wants to answer, but Death is already gone. A murmur
is heard in the tree tops. Dawn comes, a flickering light without life,
making the forest seem threatening and evil. Jof drives over the
twisting road. Mia sits beside him.
MIA: What a strange light.
JOF: I guess it's the thunderstorm which comes with dawn.
MIA: No, it's something else. Something terrible. Do you hear the
roar in the forest?
JOF: It's probably rain.
MIA: No, it isn't rain. He has seen us and he's following us. He
has overtaken us; he's coming toward us.
JOF: Not yet, Mia. In any case, not yet.
MIA: I'm so afraid. I'm so afraid.
The wagon rattles over roots and stones; it sways and creaks. Now
the horse stops with his ears flat against his head. The forest sighs
and stirs ponderously.
JOF: Get into the wagon, Mia. Crawl in quickly. We'll lie down,
Mia, with Mikael between us.
They crawl into the wagon and crouch around the sleeping child.
JOF: It is the Angel of Death that's passing over us, Mia.
It's the Angel of Death. The Angel of Death, and he's very big.
MIA: Do you feel how cold it is? I'm freezing. I'm terribly cold.
She shivers as if she had a fever. They pull the blankets over them
and lie closely together. The wagon canvas flutters and beats in the
wind. The roar outside is like a giant bellowing.
The castle is silhouetted like a black boulder against the heavy
dawn. Now the storm moves there, throwing itself powerfully
against walls and abutments. The sky darkens;
it is almost like night.
Antonius Block has brought his companions with him to the
castle. But it seems deserted. They walk from room to room. There
is only emptiness and quiet echoes. Outside, the rain is heard roaring
Suddenly the knight stands face to face with his wife. They look
at each other quietly.
KARIN: I heard from people who came from the crusade that you
were on your way home. I've been waiting for you here. All the
others have fled from the plague.
The knight is silent. He looks at her.
KARIN: Don't you recognize me any more?
The knight nods, silent.
KARIN: You also have changed.
She walks closer and looks searchingly into his face. The smile
lingers in her eyes and she touches his hand lightly.
KAKIN: Now I can see that it's you. Somewhere in your eyes,
somewhere in your face, but hidden and frightened, is that boy who
went away so many years ago.
KNIGHT: It's over now and I'm a little tired.
KARIN: I see that you're tired.
KNIGHT: Over there stand my friends.
KARIN: Ask them in. They will break the fast with us.
They all sit down at the table in the room, which is lit by torches
on the walls. Silently they eat the hard bread and the salt-darkened
meat. Karin sits at the head of the table and reads aloud from a thick
KARIN: "And when the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was
silence in heaven for about the space of half an hour. And I saw the
seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven
trumpets. And another . . ."
Three mighty knocks sound on the large portal. Karin interrupts
her reading and looks up from the book. Jons rises quickly and goes
to open the door.
KARIN: "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire
mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth; and the third
part of the trees was burnt up and all the green grass was burnt up."
Now the rain becomes quiet. There is suddenly an immense,
frightening silence in the large, murky room where the burning
torches throw uneasy shadows over the ceiling and the walls.
Everyone listens tensely to the stillness.
KARIN: "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great
mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and a third part of
the sea became blood . . ."
Steps are heard on the stairs. Jons returns and sits down silently at
his place but does not continue to eat.
KNIGHT: Was someone there?
JONS: No, my lord. I saw no one.
Karin lifts her head for a moment but once again leans over the
KARIN: "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star
from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell upon the third
part of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of
the star is called Wormwood . . ."
They all lift their heads, and when they see who is coming toward
them through the twilight of the large room, they rise from the table
and stand close together.
KNIGHT: Good morning, noble lord.
KARIN: I am Karin, the knight's wife, and welcome you
courteously to my house.
PLOG: I am a smith by profession and rather good at my trade, if
I say so myself. My wife Lisa—curtsy for the great lord. Lisa. She's
a little difficult to handle once in a while and we had a little spat, so
to say, but no worse than most people.
The knight hides his face in his hands.
KNIGHT: From our darkness, we call out to Thee, Lord. Have
mercy on us because we are small and frightened and ignorant.
JONS: (bitterly): In the darkness where You are supposed to be,
where all of us probably are ... In the darkness You will find no one
to listen to Your cries or be touched by Your sufferings. Wash Your
tears and mirror Yourself in Your indifference.
KNIGHT: God, You who are somewhere, who must be
somewhere, have mercy upon us
JONS: I could have given you an herb to purge you of your worries about eternity. Now it seems to be
too late. But in any case, feel the immense triumph of this last minute when you can still roll your eyes
and move your toes.
KARIN: Quiet, quiet.
JONS: I shall be silent, but under protest.
GIRL (on her knees): It is the end.
Jof and Mia lie close together and listen to the rain tapping lightly on the wagon canvas, a sound
which diminishes until finally there are only single drops.
They crawl out of their hiding place. The wagon stands on a height above a slope, protected by an
enormous tree. They look across ridges, forests, the wide plains, and the sea, which glistens in the
sunlight breaking through the clouds.
Jof stretches his arms and legs. Mia dries the wagon seat and sits down next to her husband. Mikael
crawls between Jof's knees.
A lone bird tests its voice after the storm. The trees and bushes drip. From the sea comes a strong and
Jof points to the dark, retreating sky where summer lightning glitters like silver needles over the
JOF: I see them, Mia! I see them! Over there against the dark, stormy sky. They are all there. The
smith and Lisa and the knight and Raval and Jons and Skat. And Death, the severe master, invites them
to dance. He tells them to hold each other's hands and then they must tread the dance in a long row. And
first goes the master with his scythe and hourglass, but Skat dangles at the end with his lyre. They dance
away from the dawn and it's a solemn dance toward the dark lands, while the rain washes their faces and
cleans the salt of the tears from their cheeks.
He is silent. He lowers his hand.
His son, Mikael, has listened to his words. Now he crawls up to Mia and sits down in her lap.
MIA (smiling): You with your visions and dreams.
Stockholm June 5, 1956
Professor Isak Borg
Max von Sydow
Professor Helge Wulff
NOTE: There are no cast listings for Tiger and Jakob because the scene in which
these characters appear (see pp. 277-8) did not appear in the finished film.
Director of photography
Music directed by
Aaby Wedin and Lennart Wallin
Running time: 90 minutes
Produced by Svensk Filmindustri; distributed in the United States
by Janus Films, Inc., and in Great Britain by Contemporary Films
AT THE AGE of seventy-six, I feel that I'm much too old to lie
to myself. But of course I can't be too sure. My complacent attitude
toward my own truth-fulness could be dishonesty in disguise,
although I don't quite know what I might want to hide. Nevertheless,
if for some reason I would have to evaluate myself, I am sure that I
would do so without shame or concern for my reputation. But if I
should be asked to express an opinion about someone else, I would
be considerably more cautious. There is the greatest danger in
passing such judgment. In all probability one is guilty of errors,
exaggerations, even tremendous lies. Rather than commit such
follies, I remain silent.
As a result, I have of my own free will withdrawn almost
completely from society, because one's relationship with other
people consists mainly of discussing and evaluating one's neighbor's
conduct. Therefore I have found myself rather alone in my old age.
This is not a regret but a statement of fact. All I ask of life is to be
left alone and to have the opportunity to devote myself to the few
things which continue to interest me, however superficial they may
be. For example, I derive pleasure from keeping up with the steady
progress made in my profession (I once
taught bacteriology), I find relaxation in a game of golf, and now
and then I read some memoirs or a good detective story.
My life has been filled with work, and for that I am grateful. It
began with a struggle for daily bread and developed into the
continuous pursuit of a beloved science. I have a son living in Lund
who is a physician and has been married for many years. He has no
children. My mother is still living and quite active despite her
advanced age (she is ninety-six). She lives in the vicinity of
Huskvarna. We seldom see each other. My nine sisters and brothers
are dead, but they left a number of children and grandchildren. I have
very little contact with my relatives. My wife Karin died many years
ago. Our marriage was quite unhappy. I am fortunate in having a
This is all I have to say about myself. Perhaps I ought to add that I
am an old pedant, and at times quite trying, both to myself and to the
people who have to be around me. I detest emotional outbursts,
women's tears and the crying of children. On the whole, I find loud
noises and sudden startling occurrences most disconcerting.
Later I will come back to the reason for writing this story, which
is, as nearly as I can make it, a true account of the events, dreams
and thoughts which befell me on a certain day.
In the early morning of Saturday, the first of June, I had a strange
and very unpleasant dream. I dreamed that I was taking my usual
morning stroll through the streets. It was quite early and no human
being was in sight. This was a bit surprising to me. I also noted that
there were no vehicles parked along the curbs. The city seemed
strangely deserted, as if it were a holiday morning in the middle of
The sun was shining brightly and made sharp black
shadows, but it gave off no warmth. Even though I walked on the
sunny side, I felt chilly.
The stillness was also remarkable. I usually stroll along a broad,
tree-lined boulevard, and even before sunrise the sparrows and crows
are as a rule extremely noisy. Besides, there is always the perpetual
roar from the center of the city. But this morning nothing was heard,
the silence was absolute, and my footsteps echoed almost anxiously
against the walls of the buildings. I began to wonder what had
Just at that moment I passed the shop of a watchmaker-
optometrist, whose sign had always been a large clock that gave the
exact time. Under this clock hung a picture of a pair of giant
eyeglasses with staring eyes. On my morning walks I had always
smiled to myself at this slightly grotesque detail in the street scene.
To my amazement, the hands of the clock had disappeared. The
dial was blank, and below it someone had smashed both of the eyes
so that they looked like watery, infected sores.
Instinctively I pulled out my own watch to check the time, but I
found that my old reliable gold timepiece had also lost its hands. I
held it to my ear to find out if it was still ticking. Then I heard my
heart beat. It was pounding very fast and irregularly. I was
overwhelmed by an inexplicable feeling of frenzy.
I put my watch away and leaned for a few moments against the
wall of a building until the feeling had passed. My heart calmed
down and I decided to return home.
To my joy, I saw that someone was standing on the street corner.
His back was toward me. I rushed up to him and touched his arm. He
turned quickly and to my horror I found that the man had no face
under his soft felt hat.
I pulled my hand back and in the same moment the entire figure
collapsed as if it were made of dust or frail
splinters. On the sidewalk lay a pile of clothes. The person himself
had disappeared without a trace.
I looked around in bewilderment and realized that I must have lost
my way. I was in a part of the city where I had never been before.
I stood on an open square surrounded by high, ugly apartment
buildings. From this narrow square, streets spread out in all directions.
Everyone was dead; there was not a sign of a living soul.
High above me the sun shone completely white, and light forced its
way down between the houses as if it were the blade of a razor-sharp
knife. I was so cold that my entire body shivered.
Finally I found the strength to move again and chose one of the
narrow streets at random. I walked as quickly as my pounding heart
allowed, yet the street seemed to be endless.
Then I heard the tolling of bells and suddenly I was standing on
another open square near an unattractive little church of red brick.
There was no graveyard next to it and the church was surrounded on all
sides by gray-walled buildings.
Not far from the church a funeral procession was wending its way
slowly through the streets, led by an ancient hearse and followed by
some old-fashioned hired carriages. These were pulled by pairs of
meager-looking horses, weighed down under enormous black
I stopped and uncovered my head. It was an intense relief to see
living creatures, hear the sound of horses trotting and church bells
Then everything happened very quickly and so frighteningly that
even as I write this I still feel a definite uneasiness.
The hearse was just about to turn in front of the church gate when
suddenly it began to sway and rock like a ship in a storm. I saw that one
of the wheels had come loose
and was rolling toward me with a loud clatter. I had to throw myself
to one side to avoid being hit. It struck the church wall right behind
me and splintered into pieces.
The other carriages stopped at a distance but no one got out or came
to help. The huge hearse swayed and teetered on its three wheels.
Suddenly the coffin was thrown out and fell into the street. As if
relieved, the hearse straightened and rolled on toward a side street,
followed by the other carriages.
The tolling of the church bells had stopped and I stood alone with
the overturned, partly smashed coffin. Gripped by a fearful curiosity, I
approached. A hand stuck out from the pile of splintered boards. When
I leaned forward, the dead hand clutched my arm and pulled me down
toward the casket with enormous force. I struggled helplessly against it
as the corpse slowly rose from the coffin. It was a man dressed in a
To my horror, I saw that the corpse was myself. I tried to free my
arm, but he held it in a powerful grip. All this time he stared at me
without emotion and seemed to be smiling scornfully.
In this moment of senseless horror, I awakened and sat up in my bed.
It was three in the morning and the sun was already reflecting from the
rooftops opposite my window. I closed my eyes and I muttered words
of reality against my dream—against all the evil and frightening dreams
which have haunted me these last few years.
ISAK: My name is Isak Borg. I am still alive. I am seventy-six years
old. I really feel quite well.
When I had muttered these words I felt calmer, drank a glass of
water, and lay down to ponder on the day which was ahead of me. I
knew immediately what I should do. I got out of bed, pulled open the
curtains, found the weather radiant, and breathed in the fine morning
air. Then I put
on my robe and went through the apartment (where the clocks
were striking three) to the room of my old housekeeper. When I
opened the door she sat up immediately, wide awake.
AGDA: Are you ill. Professor?
ISAK: Listen, Miss Agda, will you please prepare some break-
fast? I'm taking the car.
AGDA: You're taking the car, Professor?
ISAK: Yes, I'll drive down to Lund with my own two hands. I've
never believed in airplanes.
AGDA: Dear Professor! Go back to sleep and I'll bring you coffee
at nine o'clock and then we'll start at ten, as was decided.
ISAK: Very well then, I'll go without eating.
AGDA: And who's going to pack the frock coat?
ISAK: I'll do that myself.
AGDA: And what will become of me?
ISAK: Miss Agda, you can go with me in the car or take the
airplane—that's up to you.
AGDA: For an entire year I've been looking forward to being
present at the ceremony when you become a Jubilee Doctor, and
everything was perfectly organized. Now you come and tell me that
you're going to drive down instead of going by plane.
ISAK: The presentation is not until five o'clock, and if I leave at
once I'll have fourteen hours in which to get there.
AGDA: Everything will be ruined that way. Your son will be
waiting at Maimo airport. What will he say?
ISAK: You can make some explanation. Miss Agda.
AGDA: If you take the car, I won't be with you at the ceremony.
ISAK: Now listen. Miss Agda.
AGDA: You can take the car and drive there and destroy the most
solemn day of my life . . .
ISAK: We are not married. Miss Agda.
AGDA: I thank God every night that we're not. For seventy-four
years I have acted according to my own principles, and they won't
fail me today.
ISAK: Is that your last word on this matter. Miss Agda?
AGDA: That is my last word. But I'll be saying a lot to myself
about mean old gentlemen who think only of themselves and never
about the feelings of others who have served them faithfully for forty
ISAK: I really don't know how I've been able to stand your
immense hunger for power all these years.
AGDA: Just tell me and it can be ended tomorrow.
ISAK: Anyway, I'm going to drive, and you may do whatever the
hell you want to. I'm a grown man and I don't have to put up with
Our last words, I must admit, were spoken rather loudly, partly
because of Miss Agda's unruly temper and partly because I had gone
to the bathroom, where I shaved and completed my morning toilet.
When I came out of the bathroom, I found to my surprise that Miss
Agda was busy packing my frock coat and other necessities. She
seemed to have come to her senses and I tried a friendly pat on the
back to make her understand that I had forgiven her.
ISAK: There is no one who can pack like you.
AGDA: Is that so.
ISAK: Old sourpuss.
I was very angry that she didn't answer. True, my last words
weren't very well chosen, but Miss Agda has a way of being cross
which would try the patience of a saint.
AGDA: Should I boil a couple of eggs to go with the coffee, sir?
ISAK: Yes, thank you, that's very kind of you. Miss Agda. Thank
you, dear Miss Agda.
Without noticing my efforts to be nice in spite of everything, the
old lady disappeared into the kitchen.
ISAK: Jubilee Doctor! Damn stupidity. The faculty could just as
well make me jubilee idiot. I'm going to buy something for the old
sourpuss to sweeten her up a little. I hate, people who are slow to
forget. I can't even hurt a fly; how could I ever hurt Miss Agda?
Then she appeared in the doorway.
AGDA: Do you want toast?
ISAK: No, thank you for everything. Don't trouble yourself over
AGDA: Why are you sour?
I didn't have time to answer before the door closed in my face. I
dressed and went into the dining room, where my breakfast was
waiting. The morning sun threw a bright stripe across the dining-
room table. Miss Agda puttered about quietly with a coffee pot and
poured steaming coffee into my personal cup.
ISAK: Won't you have a cup too?
AGDA: No, thanks.
Miss Agda went over to water the flowers in the window and
turned her back to me quite naturally but in a very definite way.
Then the door of a nearby room opened and my daughter-in-law,
Marianne, entered. She was still wearing pajamas and was smoking a
ISAK: May I ask why my esteemed daughter-in-law is out of bed
at this hour of the morning?
MARIANNE: It's a little difficult to sleep when you and
Miss Agda are shouting at each other loud enough to shake the
ISAK: Surely no one here has been shouting.
AGDA: Of course not, no one here has been shouting.
MARIANNE: You're going by car to Lund.
ISAK: Yes, I think so.
MARIANNE: May I go with you?
ISAK: What? You want to go home?
MARIANNE: Yes, I want to go home.
ISAK: Home to Evald?
MARIANNE: That's it. You don't have to ask my reasons.
If I could afford it, I would take the train.
ISAK: Of course you can go with me.
MARIANNE: I'll be ready in about ten minutes.
Marianne put out her cigarette in an ash tray on the table, went into
her room and closed the door. Agda brought another cup but said
nothing. We were both surprised but had to remain silent about
Marianne's sudden decision to go home to my son Evald.
Nevertheless, I felt obliged to shake my head.
AGDA: Good Lord!
Shortly after half past three, I drove my car out of the garage.
Marianne came out through the front gate dressed in slacks and a
short jacket (she is a stately young woman). I looked up toward the
window to see if Agda was standing there. She was. I waved to her
but she did not wave back. Angrily I got into the car, slammed the
door and started the engine. Silently we left the quiet, sleeping city.
Marianne was about to light a cigarette.
ISAK: Please don't smoke.
MARIANNE: Of course.
ISAK: I can't stand cigarette smoke.
MARIANNE: I forgot.
ISAK: Besides, cigarette smoking is both expensive and un-
healthy. There should be a law against women smoking.
MARIANNE: The weather is nice.
ISAK: Yes, but oppressive. I have a feeling that we'll have a
MARIANNE: So do I.
ISAK: Now take the cigar. Cigars are an expression of the
fundamental idea of smoking. A stimulant and a relaxation. A manly
MARIANNE: And what vices may a woman have?
ISAK: Crying, bearing children, and gossiping about the
MARIANNE: How old are you really, Father Isak?
ISAK: Why do you want to know?
MARIANNE: No real reason. Why?
ISAK: I know why you asked.
ISAK: Don't pretend. You don't like me and you never have.
MARIANNE: I know you only as a father-in-law.
ISAK: Why are you going home again?
MARIANNE : An impulse. That's all.
ISAK: Evald happens to be my son.
MARIANNE: Yes, I'm sure he is.
ISAK: So, it may not be so strange that I ask you.
MARIANNE: This is something which really does not concern
ISAK: Do you want to hear my opinion?
She provoked me with her unshakable calm and remoteness.
Besides, I was very curious and a little worried." '
ISAK: Evald and I are very much alike. We have our principles.
MARIANNE: You don't have to tell me.
ISAK: This loan for example. Evald got a loan from me with
which to complete his studies. He was to have paid it back when he
became a lecturer at the university. It became a matter of honor for
him to pay it back at the rate of five thousand per year. Although I
realize that it's difficult for him, a bargain is a bargain.
MARIANNE: For us it means that we can never have a holiday
together and that your son works himself to death.
ISAK: You have an income of your own.
MARIANNE: . . . Especially when you're stinking rich and have
no need for the money.
ISAK: A bargain is a bargain, my dear Marianne. And I know that
Evald understands and respects me.
MARIANNE: That may be true, but he also hates you.
Her calm, almost matter-of-fact tone startled me. I tried to look into
her eyes, but she stared straight ahead and her face remained
ISAK: Evald and I have never coddled each other.
MARIANNE: I believe you.
ISAK: I'm sorry that you dislike me, because I rather like you.
MARIANNE: That's nice.
ISAK: Tell me, what do you really have against me?
MARIANNE: Do you want me to be frank?
MARIANNE: You are an old egotist, Father. You are completely
inconsiderate and you have never listened to anyone but yourself. All
this is well hidden behind your mask of old-fashioned charm and your
friendliness. But you are hard as nails, even though everyone depicts
you as a great humanitarian. We who have seen you at close range,
we know what you really are. You can't fool us. For instance, do you
remember when I came to you a month ago? I had some idiotic idea
that you would help Evald and me. So I
asked to stay with you for a few weeks. Do you remember what
ISAK: I told you that you were most cordially welcome.
MARIANNE: This is what you really said, but I'm sure you've
forgotten: Don't try to pull me into your marital problems because I
don't give a damn about them, and everyone has his own troubles.
ISAK: Did I say that?
MARIANNE: You said more than that.
ISAK: That was the worst, I hope.
MARIANNE: This is what you said, word for word: I have no
respect for suffering of the soul, so don't come to me and complain.
But if you need spiritual masturbation, I can make an appointment
for you with some good quack, or perhaps with a minister, it's so
popular these days. ^)
ISAK: Did I say that?
MARIANNE: You have rather inflexible opinions. Father. It
would be terrible to have to depend on you in any way.
ISAK: Is that so. Now, if I am honest, I must say that I've enjoyed
having you around the house.
MARIANNE: Like a cat.
ISAK: Like a cat, or a human being, it's the same thing. You are a
fine young woman and I'm sorry that you dislike me.
MARIANNE: I don't dislike you.
MARIANNE: I feel sorry for you.
I could hardly keep from laughing at her odd tone of
voice and lack of logic. She herself laughed, by the way, and it
cleared the air a bit.
ISAK: I really would like to tell you about a dream I had
MARIANNE: I'm not very interested in dreams.
ISAK: No, perhaps not.
We drove for a while in silence. The sun stood high in the sky and
the road was brilliantly white. Suddenly I had an impulse. I slowed
down and swung the car into a small side road on the left, leading
down to the sea. It was a twisting, forest road, bordered by piles of
newly cut timber which smelled strongly in the heat of the sun.
Marianne looked up, a bit surprised, but remained silent. I parked the
car in a curve of the road.
ISAK: Come, I'll show you something.
She sighed quietly and followed me down the little hill to the gate.
Now we could see the large yellow house set among the birch trees,
with its terrace facing the bay. The house slept behind closed doors
and drawn blinds.
ISAK: Every summer for the first twenty years of my life we lived
out here. There were ten of us children. Yes, you probably know that.
MARIANNE: What a ridiculous old house.
ISAK: It is an antique.
MARIANNE: Do people live here now?
ISAK: Not this summer.
MARIANNE: I'll go down to the water and take a dip if you don't
mind. We have lots of time.
ISAK: I'll go over to the wild-strawberry patch for a moment.
I suddenly found that I was speaking without a listener. Marianne
was lazily making her way down to the beach.
ISAK: The old strawberry patch. . . .
I went toward the house and immediately found the spot, but it
seemed to be much smaller and less impressive than I had
remembered. There were still many wild straw-
berries, however. I sat down next to an old apple tree that stood
alone and ate the berries, one by one. I may very well have become a
little sentimental. Perhaps I was a little tired and somewhat
melancholy. It's not unlikely that I began to think about one thing or
another that was associated with my childhood haunts.
I had a strange feeling of solemnity, as if this were a day of
decision. (It was not the only time that day that I was to feel that
way.) The quietness of the summer morning. The calm bay. The
birds' brilliant concert in the foliage. The old sleeping house. The
aromatic apple tree which leaned slightly, supporting my back. The
I don't know how it happened, but the day's clear reality flowed
into dreamlike images. I don't even know if it was a dream, or
memories which arose with the force of real events. I do not know
how it began either, but I think that it was when I heard the playing
of a piano.
Astonished, I turned my head and looked at the house, a short
distance up the hill. It had been transformed in a strange way. The
facade, which only a few moments ago was so blind and shut, was
now alive and the sun glittered on the open windows. White curtains
swayed in the warm summer breeze. The gaudy awnings were rolled
halfway down; smoke came from the chimney. The old summer-
house seemed to be bursting with life. You could hear the music of
the piano (it was something by Waldteufel), happy voices echoing
through the open windows, laughter, footsteps, the cries of children,
the squeaking of the pump. Someone started to sing up there on the
second floor. It was a strong, almost Italian bel-canto tenor. In spite
of all this, not a human being was in sight. For a few moments the
scene still had a feeling of unreality, like a mirage which could
instantly evaporate and be lost in silence.
Suddenly I saw her. When I turned around after looking at the
strangely transformed house I discovered her where she was kneeling
in her sun-yellow cotton dress, picking
wild strawberries. I recognized her immediately and I became
excited. She was so close to me that I could touch her, but my
lingering feeling of the evanescence of the situation prevented me
from making her notice my presence. (I was amused. Mental image
or dream or whatever this was, she looked just as I remembered her:
a girl in a yellow summer dress, freckled and tanned and glowing
with light-hearted young womanhood.)
I sat for a few minutes and silently looked at her. Finally I couldn't
help calling out her name, rather quietly but nevertheless quite
audibly. She didn't react. I tried once more, a little louder.
ISAK: Sara . . . It's me, your cousin Isak. . . . I've become a little
old, of course, and do not quite look as I used to. But you haven't
changed the slightest bit. Little cousin, can't you hear me?
She didn't hear me, but eagerly continued to pick the wild
strawberries, putting them into a small straw basket. I understood
then that one cannot easily converse with one's memories. This
discovery did not make me particularly sad. I decided to keep quiet
and hoped that this unusual and pleasant situation would last as long
Then, a boy came strolling down the hill. He was already growing
a small mustache despite the fact that he couldn't have been more
than eighteen or nineteen years old. He was dressed in a shirt and
trousers and wore his student's cap pushed way back on his head. He
stepped right behind Sara, took off his glasses and wiped them with
a large white handkerchief. (I recognized him as my brother Sigfrid,
one year older than myself. We shared many happy moments and
troubles. He died, by the way, relatively young, of pyelitis. He was a
lecturer in Slavic languages at Uppsala University.)
SIGFRID: Good morning, sweet cousin. What are you doing?
SARA: Can't you see that I'm picking wild strawberries, stupid?
SIGFRID: And who shall be favored with these tasty berries,
plucked in the morning watch by a dulcet young maiden?
SARA: Oh you! Don't you know that Uncle Aron's birthday is
today? I forgot to prepare a present for him. So, he gets a basket of
wild strawberries. That's good enough, isn't it?
SIGFRID: I'll help you.
SARA: You know, Charlotta and Sigbritt have sewn a sampler for
him and Angelica has baked a cake and Anna has painted a really
pretty picture and Kristina and Birgitta have written a song which
SIGFRID: That's the best of all, because Uncle Aron is stone deaf.
SARA: He will be very happy and you are stupid.
SIGFRID: And the nape of your neck is deuced pretty.
Sigfrid quickly bent over the girl and rather gallantly kissed her on
her downy neck. Sara became rather annoyed.
SARA: You know that you're not allowed to do that.
SIGFRID: Who said so?
SARA: I said so. Besides, you are a particularly unbearable little
snot who thinks he's something.
SIGFRID: I'm your cousin, and you're sweet on me.
SARA: On you!
SIGFRID: Come here and I'll kiss you on the mouth.
SARA: If you don't keep away I'll tell Isak that you try to kiss me all
SIGFRID: Little Isak. I can beat him easily with one hand
tied behind my back.
SARA: Isak and I are secretly engaged. You know that very
SIGFRID: Yes, your engagement is so secret that the whole house
knows about it.
SARA: Could I help it if the twins ran around and blabbered
SIGFRID: Then when are you going to get married? When are you
going to get married? When are you going to get married? When are
you going to get married?
SARA: I'll tell you one thing, of your four brothers I can't decide
which is the least vain. But I think it's Isak. In any case, he's the
kindest. And you are the most awful, the most unbearable, the most
stupid, the most idiotic, the most ridiculous, the most cocky—I can't
think of enough names to call you.
SIGFRID: Admit that you're a little sweet on me.
SARA: Besides, you smoke smelly cigars.
SIGFRID: That's a man's smell, isn't it?
SARA: Besides, the twins, who know everything, say that you've
done rather nasty things with the oldest Berglund girl. And she's not a
really nice girl, the twins say. And I believe them.
SIGFRID: If you only knew how pretty you are when you blush
like that. Now you must kiss me. I can't stand it any more. I'm
completely in love with you, now that I think about it.
SARA: Oh, that's only talk. The twins say that you're crazy about
girls. Is it really true?
Suddenly he kissed her hard and rather skillfully. She was carried
away by this game and returned his kiss with a certain fierceness. But
then she was conscience-stricken and threw herself down on the
ground, knocking over the basket of wild strawberries. She was very
angry and began crying with excitement.
SIGFRID: Don't scream. Someone might come.
SARA: Look at the wild strawberries, all spilled. And what
will Isak say? He is ?o kind and really loves me. Oh, how sorry I
am, oh, what you've done to me. You've turned me into a bad woman,
at least nearly. Go away. I don't want to see you any more, at least not
before breakfast. I have to hurry. Help me pick up the strawberries.
And look, I have a spot on my gown.
Then the gong suddenly sounded, announcing that breakfast was
being served. The sound seemed to bring forth many human beings
not far from where I stood, an astonished onlooker.
The flag with the Swedish-Norwegian Union emblem went up and
instantly stiffened against the light summer clouds; big brother
Hagbart, dressed in his cadet uniform, handled the ropes expertly.
From the bathhouse one could hear wild laughter, and through the
louvered door tumbled two redheaded girls about thirteen years old,
as identical as two wild strawberries. They laughed so hard they
could hardly .walk, and they whispered things to each other that were
apparently both very secret and quite amusing. Sigbritt, tall and
lanky, with thick hair in heavy rolls across her forehead, came out
carrying the baby's bassinet and placed it in the shadow of the arbor.
Charlotta (the diligent, self-sacrificing sister who carried the
responsibilities of the household on her round shoulders) rushed out
on the veranda and shouted to Sara and Sigfrid to hurry. Seventeen-
year-old Benjamin dived out of some bushes, his pimply face red
from the sun, and looked around with an annoyed expression. In his
hand he held a thick, open book. Angelica (the beauty of the family)
came skipping out of the woods, joined the twins, and was
immediately made part of some hilarious secret. Finally, fifteen-year-
old Anna came running out of the house, asked Hagbart about
something, then raised her voice and started to shout for Isak. I arose,
surprised and worried, unable to answer her cry.
TWINS (in unison): I think that Isak is out fishing with Father and
they probably can't hear the gong. And Father said, by the way, that
we shouldn't wait to eat. That's what Father said, I definitely
Oh, yes. Father and, I were out fishing together. I felt a secret and
completely inexplicable happiness at this message, and I stood for a
long while wondering what I should do in this new old world which I
was suddenly given the opportunity to visit.
The rest of the family had entered the house and something was
being discussed quite loudly inside. Only Sigbritt's little child
remained on the terrace, sleeping in the shadows of the tall lilac
Curiosity overwhelmed me. I went slowly up the slope toward the
house and soon found myself in the long, dark corridor which was
connected with the foyer by glass doors. From there I had a good
view into the large, sunlit dining room with its white table already
set for breakfast, the light furniture, the wallpaper, the figurines, the
palms, the airy summer curtains, the scoured white wooden floor
with its broad planks and blue rag rugs, the pictures and the sampler,
the large, crownlike chandelier.
There they were now, my nine brothers and sisters, my aunt, and
Uncle Aron. The only ones missing were Father, Mother and I.
Everyone was standing behind his chair, with lowered head, and
hands clenched together. Aunt recited the prayer "In Jesus' name to
the table we go/. Bless You for the food You bestow." After which
the whole troop sat down with much chatter and scraping of chairs.
My aunt (a stately woman in her best years, endowed with a
powerful sense of authority and a resonant voice) demanded silence.
AUNT: Benjamin will immediately go and wash his hands.
How long is it going to take you to learn cleanliness? BENJAMIN: I
have washed my hands. AUNT: Sigbritt, pass the porridge to Angelica
and give the twins their portions. Your fingernails are coal-black.
Pass me the bread, Hagbart. Who taught you to spread so much
butter on the bread? Can you do that at the military academy?
Charlotta, the salt shaker is stopped up. How often have I told you
that it shouldn't be left out in the open, because the salt gets humid.
BENJAMIN: I have washed my hands, but I have paint under my
UNCLE ARON: Who has picked wild strawberries for me?
SARA: I have. (Louder) I have.
AUNT: You have to speak up, my child. You know that Uncle
Aron is a bit hard of hearing.
SARA (thunderously): I have!
ARON: Oh my, you remembered Uncle Aron's birthday. That was
really very kind of you.
HAGBART: Couldn't Uncle Aron have a little drink for breakfast in
honor of the day?
AUNT: A drink at breakfast when Father isn't home is completely
out of the question.
TWINS (in unison): Uncle Aron has already had three drinks. I
know. I know. We saw him at eight o'clock when we went down to
AUNT: The twins should hold their tongues and eat. Besides, you
haven't made your beds and as punishment you'll have to dry the
dinner silverware. Benjamin must not bite his nails. Don't sit and
jump on the chair, Anna. You aren't a child any more.
ANNA: I want to give Uncle Aron my picture, please, Auntie. Can't
we give him our presents now, right away?
AUNT: Where is your picture?
ANNA: Here under the table.
AUNT: You'll have to wait until we've eaten.
SIGFRID: It's a very advanced work of art, I'd say. It's a pic-
ture of Tristan and Isolde, but you can't tell for sure which one is
SARA: Oh, he always spoils things, the little fop! Now he's
making Anna unhappy. See if she doesn't start to cry.
ANNA: Not at all. I can overlook Sigfrid's faults. TWINS (together):
By the way, what were Sara and Sigfrid up to in the wild-strawberry
patch this morning? We saw everything from the bathhouse.
SIGBRITT: Calm down now, children!
CHARLOTTA: Someone should put gags on the twins. AUNT:
Twins, keep still or leave the table. BENJAMIN: Doesn't a person have
freedom of expression, eh?
SIGFRID: Shut up, you snotnoses.
ANGELICA: Sara is blushing, Sara is blushing, Sara is blushing.
TWINS: Sigfrid is blushing, too. Ha-ha! Sigfrid and Sara! Sigfrid
and Sara! Sigfrid and Sara! AUNT (thunderously): Quiet! We'll have
quiet at the table! ARON: What did you say? Of course we shall be
The twins snicker in the silence. Sara throws the porridge spoon at
CHARLOTTA: But, Sara!
SARA: They're just lying! They're liars!
Sara rose from the table so violently that her chair turned over.
She stood hesitantly for a moment, her face red and tears splashing
down her cheeks. Then she ran away furiously, throwing herself at
the door and out into the foyer.
She opened the glass door and disappeared out on the porch,
where I could hear her sobbing violently. Gentle Charlotta came out
of the dining room and went past me on her way to console Sara.
I could hear their voices from the darkness of the foyer and I came
closer stealthily. Sara sat on a red stool (which Grandmother once
used, when she wanted to take off her rubber boots) while Charlotta
stood in front of her, patting her gently on the head. The miserable
girl pressed her tear-stained face against Charlotta's skirt over and
over again. The tinted light from the stained-glass windows of the
outer door painted the whole picture in a strange way.
SARA: Isak is so refined. He is so enormously refined and moral
and sensitive and he wants us to read poetry together and he talks
about the after-life and wants to play duets on the piano and he likes
to kiss only in the dark and he talks about sinfulness. I think he is
extremely intellectual and morally aloof and I feel so worthless, and
I am so worthless, you can't deny that. But sometimes I get the
feeling that I'm much older than Isak, do you know what I mean?
And then I think he's a child even if we are the same age, and then
Sigfrid is so fresh and exciting and I want to go home. I don't want
to be here all summer, to be a laughingstock for the twins and the
rest of you—no, I don't want that.
CHARLOTTA: I'll talk to Sigfrid, I will! If he doesn't leave you
alone I'll see to it that he gets a few more chores to do. Father will
arrange that without any trouble. He also thinks Sigfrid is nasty and
needs a little work to keep him out of mischief.
SARA: Poor little Isak, he is so kind to me. Oh, how unfair
CHARLOTTA: Everything will work out for the best, you'll see.
Listen, now they're singing for Uncle Aron.
SARA: Isn't it crazy to write a song for a deaf man! That's typical
of the twins.
Then two girlish voices sang a song that could be heard
throughout the house. Charlotta placed her arm around Sara's
shoulders, and Sara blew her nose quite loudly. Both
girls returned to the dining room, where the mood had become
very lively. Uncle Aron had arisen, his round perspiring face lit like
a lantern, and he had tears in his eyes. He held a sheet of music
before him while the twins stood nearby and sang with all their
might. When they had finished everyone applauded, and Uncle Aron
kissed them on the forehead and wiped his face with a napkin. My
aunt rose from the table and proposed a quadruple cheer. Everyone
got up and hurrahed. Suddenly Anna shouted and pointed out the
window. Everyone turned to look.
ANNA: Look, here comes Father.
AUNT: Well, finally! Sigbritt, take out the porridge bowl and have
it warmed. Charlotta, you bring up more milk from the cellar.
The women fussed around, but Sara ran out of the house, down
the slope, and disappeared behind the small arbor which stood on the
edge of the birch-tree pasture. I followed her with curiosity, but lost
her. Suddenly I stood alone at the wild-strawberry patch. A feeling
of emptiness and sadness came over me. I was awakened by a girl's
voice asking me something. I looked up.
In front of me stood a young lady in shorts and a boy's checked
shirt. She was very tanned, and her blond hair was tangled and
bleached by the sun and the sea. She sucked on an unlit pipe, wore
wooden sandals on her feet and dark glasses on her nose.
SARA: Is this your shack?
ISAK: No, it isn't.
SARA: It's a good thing you're the truthful type. My old
man owns the whole peninsula . . . including the shack.
ISAK: I lived here once. Two hundred years ago.
SARA: Uh huh. Is that your jalopy standing up at the gate?
ISAK: It's my jalopy, yes.
SARA: Looks like an antique.
ISAK: It is an antique, just like its owner.
SARA: You've got a sense of humor about yourself, too.
That's fantastic. Where are you heading, by the way? In
which direction, I mean.
ISAK: I'm going to Lund.
SARA: What a fantastic coincidence. I'm on my way to
ISAK: I'd feel very honored if you came along.
SARA: My name is Sara. Silly name, isn't it?
ISAK: My name is Isak. Rather silly too.
SARA: Weren't they married?
ISAK: Unfortunately not. It was Abraham and Sara.
SARA: Shall we take off?
ISAK: I have another lady with me. Here she comes. This is
Sara, and this is Marianne. We'll have company to Lund.
Sara is going to Italy but she has agreed to travel part way
SARA: Now you're being ironic again, but it suits you.
We began walking toward the car. Marianne and I exchanged
amused glances, the first contact between us. When we came to the
car, two young men with round blond crew-cut heads popped up.
They were also wearing checked shirts, shorts, wooden sandals and
sunglasses. Each carried a rucksack.
SARA: Hey, fellows. I've got a lift nearly all the way to Italy.
This is Anders, and this one with the glasses is Viktor, called Vicke .
. . and this is Father Isak.
ANDERS: How do you do, sir.
SARA: That cookie you're staring at so hard, her name is
BOYS (together): Hello.
SARA: It's a pretty big car.
ISAK: Just jump in. There's room for everybody. We can put the
baggage in the trunk, if you don't mind.
We packed things away, and then we all got into the car. I drove
carefully, leaving my childhood world behind. Sara took off her
sunglasses and laughed. She was very much like her namesake of the
SARA: Of course I have to tell Isak that Anders and I are going
steady. We are crazy about each other. Viktor is with us as a
chaperon. That was decided by the old man. Viktor is also in love
with me and is watching Anders like a madman. This was a brilliant
idea of my old man. I'll probably have to seduce Viktor to get him
out of the way. I'd better tell Isak that I'm a virgin. That's why I can
I looked at her through the rear-view mirror. She was sitting
comfortably with her legs on the backs of the folding seats. Anders
had a proprietary arm around her shoulders and looked rather angry,
for which I could hardly blame him. Viktor, on the other hand,
seemed completely disinterested and stared fixedly at the nape of
Marianne's neck —and whatever else he could glimpse of her figure.
SARA: I smoke a pipe. Viktor says it's healthier. He's crazy about
everything that's healthy.
No one answered, or considered any comment necessary. We
continued our trip in a silence which was by no means unpleasant,
just a little shy. The weather had become quite warm, almost
oppressive, and we had opened all the windows. The road was broad
and straight. I was in a
spirited mood. The day had been full of stimulating surprises.
ISAK: I had a first love whose name was Sara. SAKA:
She was like me, of course.
ISAK: As a matter of fact, she was rather like you.
SARA: What happened to her?
ISAK: She married my brother Sigfrid and had six children. Now
she's seventy-five years old and a rather beautiful little old lady.
SARA: I can't imagine anything worse than getting old. Oh,
excuse me. I think I said something stupid.
Her tone was so sincerely repentant that everyone burst into
laughter. And then it happened.
We were on a broad, blind right curve. I kept hard to the left and
at that moment a little black car came speeding straight toward us. I
had time to see Marianne brace her right hand against the windshield
and I heard Sara scream. Then I slammed on the brakes with all my
strength. Our big car skidded to the left and went off the road into a
pasture. The black car disappeared with a squeal, rolled over and fell
into a deep ditch to the right of the road. Startled, we stared at one
another; we had escaped without a scratch. Some thick black tire
tracks and several big marks on the road surface were the only signs
of the other car. A short distance away, a couple of rotating front
wheels stuck up from the ditch.
All of us began running toward it and then stopped in
astonishment. The overturned car's radio sang a morning hymn.
Two people crawled out of the ditch, a man and a woman, in the
midst of a violent quarrel which was on the verge of coming to
blows. When they saw us watching they immediately stopped and
the man limped toward me.
ALMAN: How are you? There's nothing for me to say. The
blame is completely ours. We have no excuses. It was my wife
who was driving. Are you all right? Everyone safe and sound?
Thank God for that.
He mumbled nervously, took off his eyeglasses and put them on
again, and looked at us with frightened glances.
ALMAN: The would-be murderers should introduce themselves.
Alman is my name. I'm an engineer at the Stockholm electric power
plant. Back there is my wife, Berit. She used to be an actress, and it
was that fact we were discussing when . . . when . . . when . . .
He interrupted himself with an artificial laugh and waved at his
wife. When she remained motionless, he took a few limping steps
ISAK: How is your leg?
ALMAN: It's not from this. I've been crippled for years.
Unfortunately it's not only my leg that's crippled, according to my
wife. Come here now, Berit, and make your apologies.
The woman mustered her courage. She moved jerkily in spite of
her rotund body.
BERIT: Please, pretty please forgive me, as children say. It was my
fault, everything. I was just going to hit my husband when that curve
appeared. One thing is obvious: God punishes some people
immediately—or what do you think, Sten? You're a Catholic.
ISAK: Perhaps we should take a look at your car and see if we
can't put it right side up again.
ALMAN: Please don't trouble yourself over us. I beg of you.
BERIT: Shut up now, Sten darling. Some people do have
completely unselfish intentions, even if you don't believe it.
ALMAN: My wife is a little nervous, I think. But we've had a
shock. That's the word. A shock.
He laughed once more and tore off his glasses and put them on
again. The young men had already jumped down into the ditch and
were trying to lift the little car. Marianne ran back to our car and
backed it down the road. With the help of a rope which I always
carry in the trunk, we succeeded in getting the other car on an even
keel. Mr. Alman suddenly cheered up, threw off his jacket and rolled
up his shirt sleeves. Then he put his shoulder alongside Sara, Viktor
and Anders and began to push.
BERIT: Now watch the engineer closely, see how he matches his
strength with the young boys, how he tenses his feeble muscles to
impress the pretty girl. Sten darling, watch out that you don't have a
ALMAN: My wife loves to embarrass me in front of strangers. I
let her—it's psychotherapy.
We towed and shoved and pushed and suddenly the little car was
standing on the road. By then, of course, its radio had gone dead.
Alman sat down behind the wheel of the dented car and got the
motor started. The car had gone a few feet when one of the front
wheels rolled off abruptly and slid far down into the ravine.
BERIT: A true picture of our marriage.
Alman stood hesitantly on the gleaming white road, perspiring
nervously. Marianne, who had stayed out of the whole scene, was
still sitting behind the wheel of our car. The youngsters sat down at
the edge of the road. All of us were a little upset.
ISAK: I can't see any other way out. The lady and the gen-
tleman must ride with us to the nearest gas station. There you can
telephone for help.
ALMAN: Don't trouble yourself over us. We'll have a refreshing
walk. Won't we, Berit?
BERIT: With his leg. Dear Lord, that would be a scream.
ALMAN: In her delightful way my wife has just said thank you
for both of us.
Silently we climbed into the car, which was suddenly completely
filled. (Marianne drove; I sat beside her. Mr. and Mrs. Alman were
on the folding seats. The three youngsters occupied the back seat.)
Alman whistled some popular tune softly but soon fell silent. No one
had any particular desire to converse. Marianne drove very calmly
Suddenly Berit Alman started to cry. Her husband carefully put
his arm around her shoulders, but she drew away and pulled out a
handkerchief, which she began tearing with her fingernails.
ALMAN: I can never tell if my wife is really crying or putting on
an act. Dammit, I think these are real tears. Well, that's the way it is
when you see death staring you in the face.
BERIT: Can't you shut up?
ALMAN: My wife has unusual powers of the imagination. For
two years she made me believe that she had cancer and pestered all
our friends with all kinds of imaginary symptoms, despite the fact
that the doctors couldn't find anything the matter. She was so
convincing that we believed her more than the doctors. That's pretty
clever, admit it. It's such stuff that saints are made of! Look, now
she's crying about a death scare. It's a pity we don't have a movie
camera around. Lights! Action! Camera! It's a "take," as they say in
the film world.
MARIANNE: It's understandable that you're upset, Mr. Al-
man, but how about leaving your wife alone for a little while?
ALMAN: A woman's tears are meant for women. Don't criticize
a woman's tears; they're holy. You are beautiful, dear Miss
whatever your name is. But Berit here is beginning to get a little
shabby. That's why you can afford to defend her.
MARIANNE: Allow me to feel compassion for your wife for
ALMAN: Very sarcastic! Still, you don't seem to be at all
hysterical. But Berit is a genius at hysterics. Do you know what that
means from my point of view?
MARIANNE: You're a Catholic, aren't you? That's what your
ALMAN: Quite right. That is my way of enduring. I ridicule my
wife and she ridicules me. She has her hysterics and I have my
Catholicism. But we need each other's company. It's only out of pure
selfishness that we haven't murdered each other by now.
Berit turned toward her husband and slapped his face. He dropped
his glasses, which he had fortunately just taken off. His large nose
swelled and began to bleed. His froglike mouth twitched
spasmodically as if he were on the verge of tears, but he immediately
got control of himself, pulled out a handkerchief and pressed it to his
nose, blinked his eyes and laughed. Viktor leaned forward, picked up
the glasses and slowly handed them to him.
ALMAN: Right on the beat. It's called syncopation, isn't it? Ha-
ha! Isn't it comic? If I had a stop watch, I could have timed the
explosion on the nose.
BERIT (screams): Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!
Marianne turned pale. She applied the brakes and slowly stopped
MARIANNE: Maybe this is the terrible truth and maybe it's just
what's called letting off steam. But we have three children in the car
and for their sake may I ask the lady and the gentleman to get out
immediately. There is a house back there; maybe they have a
telephone. The walk won't be too strenuous.
All of us were silent after Marianne's speech. Without another
word, Sten Alman stepped out of the car. His face was ashen gray
and his nose was still bleeding. His wife looked at us and suddenly
made a heroic attempt to say something sincere.
BERIT: Forgive us if you can.
Then Berit got out and stood by her husband, who had turned his
back on us. He had pulled out a comb and a pocket mirror and was
straightening the hair on his white scalp. His wife took his bloody
handkerchief and blew her nose. Then she touched his elbow, but he
was suddenly very tired and hung his head. They sat down close to
each other by the road. They looked like two scolded schoolchildren
sitting in a comer.
Marianne started the car, and we quickly drove away from this
The gas station between Granna and Huskvarna lies on a hill with
a wide view over a very beautiful, richly foliaged landscape. We
stopped to fill up the tank and decided to have lunch at a hotel some
kilometers farther south.
It was with mixed feelings that I saw this region again. First,
because I began my medical practice here (incidentally, it lasted for
fifteen years; I succeeded the local doctor). Second, because my old
mother lives near here in a large house. She is ninety-six now and is
generally considered a miracle of health and vitality, although her
to move around has diminished considerably during the last few
The gas-station owner was a big, blond man with a broad face,
abnormally large hands and long arms.
AKERMAN: Ah ha! So the doctor is out driving. Shall it be a full
tank? Well, well, so it is, and those are children and grandchildren, I
know. Have you got the key to the gas tank, Doctor?
ISAK: Hello, Henrik. You recognize me.
AKERMAN: Recognize! Doctor, you were there when I was born.
And then you delivered all my brothers. And fixed our cuts and
scratches and took care of us, as you did of everybody while you were
a doctor around here.
ISAK: And things are going well for you?
AKERMAN: Couldn't be better! I'm married, you know, and I have
heirs. (Shouts) Eva!
Eva came out of the gas station. She was a young woman, gypsy-
like, dark, with long, thick hair and a generous smile. She was in an
advanced stage of pregnancy.
AKERMAN: Here you see Dr. Borg himself in person. This is the
man that Ma and Pa and the whole district still talk about. The world's
I looked at Marianne, who was standing to the side. She applauded
somewhat sarcastically and bowed. The three youngsters were in the
midst of a lively dispute and pointing in different directions. Eva
stepped up and shook my hand.
AKERMAN: I suggest that we name our new baby for the doctor.
Isak Akerman is a good name for a prime minister.
EVA: But what if it's a girl?
AKERMAN: Eva and I only make boys. Do you want oil and
ISAK: Yes, thank you. And your father is well, in spite of his bad
AKERMAN: Well, it's getting a bit hard for the old man, you
know, but the old lady is a little bombshell.
The last was said in greatest confidence as we bent over the
measuring rod to see if we needed more oil. We did.
AKERMAN: And now you'll be visiting your mother, eh. Doctor?
ISAK: I suppose so.
AKERMAN: She's a remarkable lady, your mother, although she
must be at least ninety-five.
AKERMAN: Well, well, how about that.
ISAK: How much is all this?
AKERMAN: Eva and I want it to be on the house.
ISAK: No, I can't allow that.
AKERMAN: Don't insult us, Doctor! We can do things in the
grand manner too, even if we live here in little Granna.
ISAK: There isn't the slightest reason you should pay for my gas. I
appreciate your kindness, but ...
AKERMAN: One remembers things, you know. One doesn't forget
one's gratitude, and there are some things that can never be paid back.
Akerman became a little serious and I a little sentimental. We
looked at each other quite moved. Eva stepped up and stood beside her
husband. She squinted in the sun and beamed like a big strawberry in
her red dress.
EVA (like an echo): No, we don't forget. We don't forget.
AKERMAN: Just ask anybody in town or in the hills around here,
and they remember the doctor and know what the doctor did for them.
I looked around, but Marianne had disappeared. No, she had got
into the car. The youngsters were still busy with their discussion.
ISAK: Perhaps I should have remained here.
AKERMAN: I don't understand.
ISAK: What? What did you say, Henrik?
AKERMAN: You said that you should have stayed here, Doctor.
ISAK: Did I say that? Yes, perhaps. Thank you anyway.
Send me word and I may come to be godfather for the new
Akerman. You know where to reach me.
I shook hands with them and we parted. Marianne called the
youngsters and we continued our trip to the inn.
Our lunch was a success. We had a large table on the open terrace
and enjoyed a most magnificent view across Lake Vattern. The
headwaiter, one of my former patients, did everything to satisfy our
I became very lively, I must admit, and told the youngsters about
my years as a country doctor. I told them humorous anecdotes which
had a great deal of human interest. These were a great success (I
don't think they laughed just out of politeness) and I had wine with
the food (which was excellent) and cognac with my coffee.
Anders suddenly rose and began to recite with both feeling and
ANDERS: "Oh, when such beauty shows itself in each facet of
creation, then how beautiful must be the eternal source of this
None of us thought of laughing at him. He sat down immediately
and emptied his coffee cup in embarrassment. Sara was the one who
broke the silence.
SARA: Anders will become a minister and Viktor a doctor.
VIKTOR: We swore that we wouldn't discuss God or science on the
entire trip. I consider Anders' lyrical outburst as a breach of our
SARA: Oh, it was beautiful!
VIKTOR: Besides, I can't understand how a modern man can
become a minister. Anders isn't a complete idiot. ANDERS: Let me tell
you, your rationalism is incomprehensible nonsense. And you aren't
an idiot either. VIKTOR: In my opinion the modern— ANDERS: In my
VIKTOR: In my opinion a modern man looks his insignificance
straight in the eye and believes in himself and his biological death.
Everything else is nonsense.
ANDERS: And in my opinion modern man exists only in your
imagination. Because man looks at his death with horror and can't
bear his own insignificance.
VIKTOR: All right. Religion for the people. Opium for the aching
limb. If that's what you want.
SARA: Aren't they fantastically sweet? I always agree with the
one who's spoken last. Isn't this all extremely interesting?
VIKTOR (angry): When you were a child you believed in Santa
Claus. Now you believe in God.
ANDERS: And you have always suffered from an astonishing lack
VIKTOR: What do you think about it. Professor?
ISAK: Dear boys, you would receive my opinion with ironic
indulgence, whatever I happened to say. That's why I'm keeping still.
SARA: Then think how very unlucky they are.
ISAK: No, Sara. They are very, very lucky.
Marianne laughed and lit my cigar. I leaned back in my chair and
squinted at the light filtering down between the table umbrellas. The
boys looked surprised as I began to recite.
ISAK: "Where is the friend I seek everywhere? Dawn is the time
of loneliness and care. When twilight comes, when twilight
comes..." What comes after that, Anders?
MARIANNE: "When twilight comes I am still yearning."
ANDERS: "Though my heart is burning, burning. I see His trace of
glory . . ."
SARA: You're religious, aren't you. Professor?
ISAK: "I see His trace of glory and power, In an ear of grain and
the fragrance of flower . . ."
MARIANNE: "In every sign and breath of air. His love is there.
His voice whispers in the summer breeze . . ."
VIKTOR: As a love poem, it isn't too bad.
SARA: Now I've become very solemn. I can become quite solemn
for no reason at all.
I rose from the table.
ISAK: I want to pay a visit to my mother, who happens to live
nearby. You can remain here and enjoy yourselves for a while. I'll be
MARIANNE: May I come with you?
ISAK: Of course. Goodbye for now, young friends.
I was in a good mood and felt very happy. Marianne suddenly
took my arm and walked beside me. In passing, I patted her hand.
The house was surrounded by an ancient, parklike garden and
protected from onlookers by a wall as tall as a man. Inside,
everything was quiet and somewhat unreal. The sky had clouded
over, and the gray light sharpened the contours of the landscape so
that it looked like a skillfully painted set in an old theater.
In a little round drawing room filled with storm-gray light and
graced by light, delicate furniture, an old nurse in uniform sat
embroidering. On the carpet next to her chair
a fat white poodle lay looking at us with sleepy, lidded eyes.
When the nurse saw us she immediately arose, smiling politely, to
greet us and shake our hands. She introduced herself as Sister
Elisabet. I asked her quietly how my mother was and if it was
convenient for us to visit her. Sister Elisabet answered that Mrs.
Borg was quite well and would be happy with our visit because she
was usually rather lonely. I pointed out that it was unfortunate that
my visits were rather infrequent, because of the difficult journey,
and Sister Elisabet said that she understood. After this hushed
introduction, the Sister asked us to wait for a few minutes and
disappeared into a nearby room. Marianne became a little nervous
with all the solemnity and pulled out a cigarette from a crushed pack
and was just about to light it.
ISAK: Please don't smoke. Mother hates the smell of tobacco and
her senses are as sharp as those of an animal in the woods.
At the same moment. Sister Elisabet returned and told us that we
The room was rather small and oddly irregular, but it had a lofty
ceiling. On the walls hung many beautiful and expensive paintings.
Heavy draperies covered the doors. In a corner stood a tall porcelain
stove with a fire burning. At the room's only window stood an
incongruous desk which did not harmonize with the other pieces of
furniture. My mother was sitting in a big chair. She was dressed
entirely in black and wore a small lace cap on her head. She was
busy entering figures in a large blue ledger. When she recognized
me, she immediately rose from her seat (although with some
difficulty) and walked toward us with many small steps; she seemed
to be shoving one foot in front of the other without her soles ever
leaving the floor. She
smiled cordially and stretched forth both her hands. I grasped
them and then kissed her with a son's reverence.
MOTHER: I just sent a telegram to tell you that I was thinking
about you today. Today is your big day. And then you come here!
ISAK: Well, I had a moment of inspiration. Mother! MOTHER: Is
that you wife standing back there, Isak? You will ask her to leave the
room immediately. I refuse to talk with her. She has hurt us too
ISAK: Mother, darling, this is not Karin. This is Evald's wife, my
daughter-in-law, Marianne! MOTHER: Well, then, she can come here
and greet me.
MARIANNE: How do you do, Mrs. Borg. (Curtsies) MOTHER:
I've seen you in a photograph. Evald showed it to me. He was
extremely proud of your beauty. By the way, why are you out
traveling this way?
MARIANNE: I've been in Stockholm, visiting. MOTHER: Why
aren't you home with Evald and taking care of your child?
MARIANNE: Evald and I don't have any children. MOTHER: Isn't
it strange with young people nowadays? I bore ten children. Will
someone please bring me that large box standing over there.
She pointed at a brown cardboard box on a chair. Marianne
picked it up and placed it on the desk in front of the old lady. Both of
us helped lift the lid.
MOTHER: My mother lived in this house before me. And you
children often visited here. Do you remember, Isak?
ISAK: I remember quite well.
MOTHER: In this box are some of your toys. I've tried to think
which of you owned what.
Mother looked bewilderedly into the big box, as if she
expected to find all her children there among the toys and things.
Then she shook her head and looked up at Marianne.
MOTHER: Ten children, and all of them dead except Isak. Twenty
grandchildren. None of them visits me except Evald, once a year. It's
quite all right—1 don't complain —but I have fifteen great-
grandchildren whom I've never seen. I send letters and presents for
fifty-three birthdays and anniversaries every year. I get kind thank-
you notes, but no one visits me except by accident or when someone
needs a loan. I am tiresome, of course.
ISAK: Don't look at it that way. Mother dear! MOTHER: And then
I have another fault. I don't die. The inheritance doesn't materialize
according to the nice, neat schedules made up by smart young
She laughed sarcastically and shook her head. Then she pulled a
doll out of the box. It was an old doll, with fine gold hair and a
porcelain face (a little scratched) and a beautiful lace gown.
MOTHER: This doll's name is Goldcrown and it belonged to
Sigbritt. She got it when she was eight years old. I sewed the dress
myself. She never liked it much, so Charlotta took it over and cared
for it. I remember it clearly.
She dropped the doll and picked up a little box of bright-colored
tin soldiers and poked in it with a small, sharp finger.
MOTHER: Hagbart's tin soldiers. I never liked his war games. He
was shot while hunting moose. We never understood each other.
This she said in a matter-of-fact tone, completely with-
out sentimentality. She threw the tin soldiers into the box and
fished up a photograph.
MOTHER: Can you see who this is? This is Sigfrid when he was
three years old and you when you were two, and here is Father and
me. Good Lord, how one looked in those days. It was taken in 1883.
ISAK: May I see that picture?
MOTHER (uninterested): Yes, of course, you can have it. It's only
trash. Here is a coloring book. Maybe it belonged to the twins, or
perhaps to Anna or Angelica. I really don't know because all of them
have put their names in the book. And then it says: "I am Anna's best
friend." But Anna has written: "I love Angelica." And Kristina has
scribbled: "Most of all in the whole world I love Father best." And
Birgitta has added: "I am going to marry Father." Isn't that amusing?
I laughed when I read it.
Marianne took the book from her and turned the pages. It was
partly scribbled on and partly painted with great vitality and strong
colors. The light in the small room grew dimmer as the sky darkened
outside. In the distance the thunder was already rumbling in the sky.
Mother picked up a toy locomotive and looked at it closely.
MOTHER: I think that this is Benjamin's locomotive because he
was always so amused by trains and circuses and such things. I
suppose that's why he became an actor. We quarreled often about it
because I wanted him to have an honest profession. And I was right.
He didn't make it. I told him that several times. He didn't believe me,
but I was right. It doesn't pay much to talk. Isn't it cold in here? The
fire doesn't really warm.
ISAK: No, it isn't particularly cold.
She turned her head toward the darkened skies outside. The trees
stood heavy, as if waiting.
MOTHER: I've always felt chilly as long as I can remember. What
does that mean? You're a doctor? Mostly in the stomach. Here.
ISAK: You have low blood pressure.
MOTHER: Do you want me to ask Sister Elisabet to make some tea
for us so we can sit down and talk for a while? Wouldn't that be . . .
ISAK: No, Mother, thank you. We don't want to trouble you any
more. We've just had lunch and we're rather in a hurry.
MOTHER: Look here for a moment. Sigbritt's eldest boy will be
fifty. I'm thinking of giving him my father's old gold watch. Can I
give it to him, even though the hands have loosened? It is so difficult
to find presents for those who have everything. But the watch is
beautiful and it can probably be repaired.
She looked anxiously, appealingly, from Marianne to me and back
to Marianne. She had opened the lid of the old gold watch and the
blank dial stared at me. I suddenly remembered my early-morning
dream: the blank clock face and my own watch which lacked hands,
the hearse and my dead self.
MOTHER: I remember when Sigbritt's boy had just been born and
lay there in his basket in the lilac arbor at the summerhouse. Now he
will be fifty years old. And little cousin Sara, who always went
around carrying him, cradling him, and who married Sigfrid, that no-
good. Now you have to go so that you'll have time for all the things
you must do. I'm very grateful for your visit and I hope we'll see each
other some time. Give my best regards to Evald. Goodbye.
She offered me her cheek and I bent down and kissed it. It was
very cold but unbelievably soft and full of sharp little lines. Marianne
curtsied and my mother answered her
gesture with an abstract smile. Sister Elisabet opened the door as
if she had been listening to us. In a few minutes we were out in the
gray daylight, which hurt our eyes with its piercing sharpness.
Once again Marianne took my arm, and when she did so I was
filled with gratitude toward this quiet, independent girl with her
naked, observant face.
When we reached the inn the youngsters were no longer there.
The waitress told us that the young lady was waiting at the car. The
headwaiter stood nearby bowing and looking as if he had just had
another of his old ulcer attacks.
Sure enough, Sara was leaning against the car looking as though
she were ready to cry.
MARIANNE: Where are Anders and Viktor?
Sara pointed without answering. Down on the slope the boys
stood glaring at each other with furious expressions on their faces.
Every so often one of them would utter some terrible expletive at the
SARA: When you left they were talking away about the
existence of God. Finally they got so angry that they began shouting
at each other. Then Anders grabbed Viktor's arm and tried to twist it
off, and Viktor said that was a pretty lousy argument for the
existence of God. Then I said that I thought they could skip God
and pay some attention to me for a while instead, and then they said
that I could stop babbling because I didn't understand that it was a
debate of principles, and then I said that whether there was a God or
not, they were real wet blankets. Then I left and they ran down the
hill to settle things because each of them insisted that the other had
hurt his innermost feelings. So now they're going to slug it out.
Marianne put on a very wise countenance and started off
to calm down the two debaters. I stepped into the car. Sara looked
at the departing Marianne with envy.
SARA: Well, which one of the boys do you like the most?
ISAK: Which do you like best?
SARA: I don't know. Anders will become a minister. But he is
rather masculine and warm, you know. But a minister's wife! But
Viktor's funny in another way. Viktor will go far, you know.
ISAK: What do you mean by that?
SARA (tired): A doctor earns more money. And it's old-fashioned
to be a minister. But he has nice legs. And a strong neck. But how
can one believe in God!
Sara sighed and we sank into our own thoughts.
Marianne came up the hill bringing with her the two fighting
cocks, barely reconciled. She sat down behind the wheel and we
continued our trip.
The sun shone white on the blue-black clouds which towered
above the dark, gleaming surface of Lake Vattern. The breeze
coming from the open side windows did not cool us any longer, and
in the south summer lightning cut across the sky with thin, jagged
scratches. Because of the approaching storm, and all the food and
wine, I became rather sleepy. I silently blessed my luck in having
Marianne beside me as a reliable chauffeur. Anders and Viktor sat in
sullen silence. Sara yawned again and again and blinked her eyes.
I fell asleep, but during my nap I was pursued by dreams and
images which seemed extremely real and were very humiliating to
I record these in the order in which they occurred, without the
slightest intention of commenting on their possible meaning. I have
never been particularly enthusiastic about the psychoanalytical
theory of dreams as the fulfillment of desires in a negative or
positive direction. Yet I
cannot deny that in these dreams there was something like a
warning, which bore into my consciousness and embedded itself
there with relentless determination.
I have found that during the last few years I glide rather easily
into a twilight world of memories and dreams which are highly
personal. I've often wondered if this is a sign of increasing senility.
Sometimes I've also asked myself if it is a harbinger of approaching
Again I found myself at the wild-strawberry patch of my
childhood, but I was not alone. Sara was there, and this time she
turned her face toward mine and looked at me for a long time. I
knew that I sat there looking old, ugly and ridiculous. A professor
emeritus who was going to be made a Jubilee Doctor. The saddest
thing about it was that although Sara spoke to me in a grieved and
penetrating tone, I couldn't answer her except in stammered, one-
syllable words. This, of course, increased the pain of my dream.
Between us stood a little woven basket filled with wild
strawberries; around us lay a strange, motionless twilight, heavy
with dull expectations. Sara leaned toward me and spoke in such a
low voice that I had difficulty grasping her words.
SARA: Have you looked at yourself in the mirror, Isak? You
haven't. Then I'll show you how you look.
She picked up a mirror that lay hidden under the small strawberry
basket and showed me my face, which looked old and ugly in the
sinking twilight. I carefully pushed away the looking glass and I
could see that Sara had tears in her eyes.
SARA: You are a worried old man who will die soon, but I have
my whole life before me ... Oh, now you're offended.
ISAK: No, I'm not offended.
SARA: Yes, you are offended because you can't bear to hear the
truth. And the truth is that I've been too considerate. One can easily
be unintentionally cruel that way.
ISAK: I understand.
SARA: No, you don't understand. We don't speak the same
language. Look at yourself in the mirror again. No, don't look away.
ISAK: I see.
SARA: Now listen. I'm about to marry your brother Sigfrid. He
and I love each other, and it's all like a game. Look at your face now.
Try to smile! All right, now you're smiling.
ISAK: It hurts.
SARA: You, a professor emeritus, ought to know why it hurts. But
you don't. Because in spite of all your knowledge you don't really
She threw away the mirror and it shattered. The wind began to
blow through the trees, and from somewhere the crying of a child
could be heard. She arose immediately, drying her tears.
SARA: I have to go. I promised to look after Sigbritt's little boy.
ISAK: Don't leave me.
SARA: What did you say?
ISAK: Don't leave me.
SARA: You stammer so much that I can't hear your words.
Besides, they don't really matter.
I saw her run up to the arbor. The old house was draped in the
gray twilight. She lifted the crying child and cradled it in her arms.
The sky turned black above the sea and large birds circled overhead,
screeching toward the house, which suddenly seemed ugly and poor.
There was something fateful and threatening in this twilight, in the
of the child, in the shrieking of the black birds. Sara cradled the
baby and her voice, half singing, was very distant and sorrowful.
SARA: My poor little one, you shall sleep quietly now. Don't be
afraid of the wind. Don't be afraid of the birds, the jackdaws and the
sea gulls. Don't be afraid of the waves from the sea. I'm with you.
I'm holding you tight. Don't be afraid, little one. Soon it will be
another day. No one can hurt you; I am with you; I'm holding you.
But her voice was sorrowful and tears ran down her cheeks
without end. The child became silent, as if it were listening, and I
wanted to scream until my lungs were bloody.
Now I saw that a door had opened in the house and someone was
standing there shouting for Sara. It was my brother Sigfrid.
She ran toward him, gave him the child, and they both
disappeared into the house and closed the door.
Suddenly I noticed that the wind had died and the birds had flown
away. All the windows in the house shone festively. Over the
horizon stood a jagged moon, and music from a piano penetrated
the stillness of the strawberry patch.
I went closer and pressed my face against the brightly lit dining-
room window. An elegantly laid table stood before me and Sara sat
behind the piano, playing. She was wearing an expensive but old-
fashioned dress and her hair was piled on top of her head, which
made her face look womanly and mature. Then Sigfrid entered the
room and they both sat down immediately at the table. They
laughed and joked and celebrated some kind of event. The moon
rose higher in the heavens and the scene inside became obscure. I
rapped on the window so that they would hear me and let
me in. But they did not notice me; they were too preoccupied with
On the window sill lay many splinters of glass, and in my eager
attempt to get their attention I accidentally cut my hand.
Turning away, I was blinded by the moonlight, which threw itself
against me with an almost physical force.
I heard a voice calling my name, and then I saw that the door had
been opened. Someone was standing in the doorway and I
recognized Mr. Alman. He bowed politely though stiffly and invited
He led me down a short corridor and unlocked a narrow door. We
entered a large windowless room with benches arranged like an
amphitheater. There sat about ten youngsters, among whom I
immediately recognized Sara, Anders and Viktor. On one of the low
walls hung a large blackboard, and on a work table in the center of
the room stood a microscope.
I realized that this was the hall where I used to hold my
polyclinical lectures and examinations. Alman sat down and asked
me to take a seat at the short end of the table. For a few moments he
studied some papers in a dossier. The audience remained completely
ALMAN: Do you have your examination book with you?
ISAK: Yes, of course. Here it is.
ALMAN: Thank you.
I handed him the examination book and he flipped through it
distractedly. Then he leaned forward and looked at me for a long
time. After that he gestured toward the microscope.
ALMAN: Will you please identify the bacteriological specimen
in the microscope. Take your time.
I arose, stepped up to the instrument and adjusted it. But whatever
I did, I couldn't find any specimen. The only thing I saw was my own
eye, which stared back at me in an absurd enlargement.
ISAK: There must be something wrong with the microscope.
Alman bent over and peered into it. Then he regarded me
seriously and shook his head.
ALMAN: There is nothing wrong with the microscope.
ISAK: I can't see anything.
ALMAN: Sit down.
I sank down on the chair and wet my lips. No one moved or said
ALMAN: Will you please read this text.
He pointed to the blackboard which hung behind him. Something
was printed on it in large crooked letters. I made a great effort to
interpret what was written: INKE TAN MAGROV STAK FARSIN LOS
KRET FAJNE KASERTE MJOTRON PRESETE.
ALMAN: What does it mean?
ISAK: I don't know.
ALMAN: Oh, really?
ISAK: I'm a doctor, not a linguist.
ALMAN: Then let me tell you, Professor Borg, that on the
blackboard is written the first duty of a doctor. Do you happen to
know what that is?
ISAK: Yes, if you let me think for a moment.
ALMAN: Take your time.
ISAK: A doctor's first duty ... a doctor's first duty ... a
doctor's . . . Oh, I've forgotten.
A cold sweat broke out on my forehead, but I still looked Alman
straight in the eye'. He leaned toward me and spoke in a calm,
ALMAN: A doctor's first duty is to ask forgiveness.
ISAK: Of course, now I remember!
Relieved, I laughed but immediately became silent. Alman looked
wearily at his papers and smothered a yawn.
ALMAN: Moreover, you are guilty of guilt.
ISAK: Guilty of guilt?
ALMAN: I have noted that you don't understand the accusation.
ISAK: Is it serious?
ALMAN: Unfortunately, Professor.
Next to me stood a table with a water decanter. I poured a glass,
but spilled a lot of it on the table and the tray.
ISAK: I have a bad heart. I'm an old man, Mr. Alman, and I must
be treated with consideration. That's only right.
ALMAN: There is nothing concerning your heart in my papers.
Perhaps you wish to end the examination?
ISAK: No, no, for heaven's sake, no!
Alman arose and lit a small lamp which hung from a cord in the
ceiling. Under the lamp (very brightly lit) sat a woman wrapped in a
hospital robe and wearing wooden sandals on her feet.
ALMAN: Will you please make an anamnesis and diagnosis of
ISAK: But the patient is dead.
At that moment the woman arose and began laughing as
if she had just heard a great joke. Alman leaned across the table
and wrote something in my examination book.
ISAK: What are you writing in my book?
ALMAN: My conclusion.
ISAK: And that is ...
ALMAN: That you're incompetent.
ALMAN: Furthermore, Professor Borg, you are accused of some
smaller but nonetheless serious offenses. (Isak remains silent)
Indifference, selfishness, lack of consideration.
ALMAN: These accusations have been made by your wife. Do
you want to be confronted by her?
ISAK: But my wife has been dead for many years.
ALMAN: Do you think I'm joking? Will you please come with
me voluntarily. You have no choice in any case. Come!
Alman placed the examination book in his pocket, made a sign
for me to follow him, opened the door and led me into a forest.
The trunks of the trees stood close together. Twilight had almost
passed. Dead trees were strewn on the ground and the earth was
covered with decaying leaves. Our feet sank into this soft carpet
with every step, and mud oozed up around them. From behind the
foliage the moon shone steadily, like an inflamed eye, and it was as
warm as inside a hothouse. Alman turned around.
ALMAN: Watch out. Professor Borg. You'll find many snakes
Suddenly I saw a small, gleaming body which twisted around and
disappeared in one of Alman's wet footsteps. I stepped swiftly aside
but nearly trod on a large gray crea-
ture which slowly pulled away. Wherever I looked, snakes seemed
to well forth from the swampy, porous ground.
Finally we arrived at a clearing in the forest, but we halted at the
very edge. The moon shone in our eyes and we hid among the
shadows of the trees. The clearing stretched out before us. It was
overgrown with twisted roots. At one end a black cliff fell away into
a body of water. On the sides, the trees stood lofty and lifeless, as if
burdened by each other's enormous shadows. Then a giggling laugh
was heard and I discovered a woman standing near the hill. She was
dressed in a long black gown and her face was averted from us. She
made movements with her hands, as if to ward off someone. She
laughed continually and excitedly. A man stood half hidden, leaning
against a tree trunk. His face, which I glimpsed, was large and flat,
but his eyebrows were quite bushy and his forehead protruded over
his eyes. He made gestures with his hand and said some
unintelligible words, which made the woman laugh uncontrollably.
Suddenly she became serious, and a harassed, discontented
expression appeared on her face. She bent over and picked up a
small purse. The man stretched out his hand and jokingly began to
pull the pins out of her skillfully pompadoured hair. She pretended
to be very angry and flailed the air around her furiously. This
amused the man, who continued his game. When she finally walked
away he followed and took hold of her shoulders. Petrified, she
stopped and turned her pale, embittered face toward her pursuer. He
muttered something and stretched out his other hand toward her
breast. She moved away, but couldn't free herself. When she saw
that she was caught, she began to twist and squirm as if the man's
grip on her shoulders hurt intensely. The man continued to mutter
incoherent words, as if to an animal. Suddenly she freed herself and
ran with bent knees and a shuffling step in a semicircle. The man
remained standing, waiting and breathless. He perspired heavily and
face over and over again with the back of his hand. The woman
stopped as if exhausted and regarded the man, wide-eyed and
gaping. She was also out of breath. Then she began running again
but pretended to trip and fell on her hands and knees. Her large rump
swayed like a black balloon over the ground. She lowered her face
between her arms and began crying, rocking and swaying. The man
knelt at her side, took a firm grasp of her hair, pulled her face
upward, backward and forced her to open her eyes. He panted with
effort the whole time. She teetered and nearly fell to the side, but the
man straddled her and leaned over her heavily. Suddenly she was
completely still, with closed eyes and a swollen, pale face. Then she
collapsed, rolled over, and received the man between her open
ALMAN: Many men forget a woman who has been dead for
thirty years. Some preserve a sweet, fading picture, but you can
always recall this scene in your memory. Strange, isn't it? Tuesday,
May 1, 1917, you stood here and heard and saw exactly what that
woman and that man said and did.
The woman sat up and smoothed her gown over her short, thick
thighs. Her face was blank and almost distorted in its puffy
slackness. The man had got up and was wandering around aimlessly
with his hands hanging at his sides.
WOMAN: Now I will go home and tell this to Isak and I know
exactly what he'll say: Poor little girl, how I pity you. As if he were
God himself. And then I'll cry and say:
Do you really feel pity for me? and he'll say: I feel infinitely sorry
for you, and then I'll cry some more and ask him if he can forgive
me. And then he'll say: You shouldn't ask forgiveness from me. I
have nothing to forgive. But he
doesn't mean a word of it, because he's completely cold. And then
he'll suddenly be very tender and I'll yell at him that he's not really
sane and that such hypocritical nobility is sickening. And then he'll
say that he'll bring me a sedative and that he understands everything.
And then I'll say that it's his fault that I am the way I am, and then
he'll look very sad and will say that he is to blame. But he doesn't
care about anything because he's completely cold.
She arose with effort and shook out her hair and began combing it
and pinning it up in the same careful way that it was before. The
man sat down on a stone a little farther away. He smoked quietly. I
couldn't see his gaze below the protruding eyebrows, but his voice
was calm and scornful.
MAN: You're insane, the way you're carrying on. The
woman laughed and went into the forest.
I turned around. Alman had a strange, wry smile on his face. We
stood quietly for a few moments.
ISAK: Where is she?
ALMAN: You know. She is gone. Everyone is gone. Can't you
hear how quiet it is? Everything has been dissected, Professor Borg.
A surgical masterpiece. There is no pain, no bleeding, no quivering.
ISAK: It is rather quiet.
ALMAN: A perfect achievement of its kind, Professor.
ISAK: And what is the penalty?
ALMAN: Penalty? I don't know. The usual one, I suppose.
ISAK: The usual one?
ALMAN: Of course. Loneliness.
ALMAN: Exactly. Loneliness.
ISAK: Is there no grace?
ALMAN: Don't ask me. I don't know anything about such things.
Before I had time to answer, Alman had disappeared, and I stood
alone in the complete stillness of the moonlight and the forest. Then
I heard a voice quite close to me.
SARA: Didn't you have to go with them to get your father?
The girl stretched out her hand, but when she saw my face she
immediately withdrew it.
ISAK: Sara ... It wasn't always like this. If only you had stayed
with me. If only you could have had a little patience.
The girl did not seem to hear what I was saying but began to look
SARA: Hurry up.
I followed her as well as I could, but she moved so much more
easily and faster than I.
ISAK: I can't run, don't you understand?
SARA: But hurry up.
ISAK: I can't see you any more.
SARA: But here I am.
ISAK: Wait for me.
She materialized for a moment and then she was gone. The moon
disappeared into darkness and I wanted to cry with wild, childish
sorrow, but I could not.
At that moment, I awoke. The car stood still and the storm was
over, but it was still drizzling slightly. We were
in the neighborhood of the Stromsnas Foundry, where the road
wanders between rich forests on one side and river rapids on the
other. Everything was completely silent. The three children had left
the car and Marianne sat quietly smoking a cigarette and blowing
the smoke through the open window. Gusts of strong and pleasant
odors came from the wet forest.
ISAK: What is this?
MARIANNE: The children wanted to get out for a moment and
stretch their legs. They are over there.
She made a gesture toward a clearing near the river. All three
were busy picking flowers.
ISAK: But it's still raining.
MARIANNE: I told them about the ceremony today, and
they insisted on paying homage to you.
ISAK (sighs): Good Lord.
MARIANNE: Did you sleep well?
ISAK: Yes, but I dreamed. Can you imagine—the last few
months I've had the most peculiar dreams. It's really odd.
MARIANNE: What's odd?
ISAK: It's as if I'm trying to say something to myself which
I don't want to hear when I'm awake.
MARIANNE: And what would that be?
ISAK: That I'm dead, although I live.
Marianne reacted violently. Her gaze blackened and she took a
deep breath. Throwing her cigarette out the window, she turned
MARIANNE: Do you know that you and Evald are very much
ISAK: You told me that.
MARIANNE: Do you know that Evald has said the very same
ISAK: About me? Yes, I can believe that.
MARIANNE: No, about himself.
ISAK: But he's only thirty-eight years old.
MARIANNE: May I tell you everything, or would it bore you?
ISAK: I'd be grateful if you would tell me.
MARIANNE: It was a few months ago. I wanted to talk to Evald
and we took the car and went down to the sea. It was raining, just
like now. Evald sat where you are sitting, and I drove.
EVALD: Can't you stop the windshield wipers?
MARIANNE: Then we won't be able to see the ocean.
EVALD: They're working so hard it makes me nervous.
MARIANNE (shuts them off): Very well.
They sit in silence for a few minutes, looking at the rain, which
streams down the windshield quietly. The sea merges with the
clouds in an infinite grayness. Evald strokes his long, bony face and
looks expectantly at his wife. He talks jokingly, calmly.
EVALD: So now you have me trapped. What did you want to say?
Something unpleasant, of course.
MARIANNE: I wish I didn't have to tell you about it.
EVALD: I understand. You've found someone else.
MARIANNE: Now don't be childish. EVALD (mimicking her):
Now don't be childish. What do you expect me to think? You come
and say in a funereal voice that you want to talk to me. We take the
car and go down to the sea. It rains and it's hard for you to begin.
Good Lord, Marianne, let's have it. This is an excellent moment for
the most intimate confidence. But for heaven's sake, don't keep me
MARIANNE: Now I feel like laughing. What do you really think
I'm going to say? That I've murdered someone, or embezzled the
faculty funds? I'm pregnant, Evald.
EVALD: Oh, is that so.
MARIANNE: That's the way it is. And as careless as we've been
recently, there isn't much to be surprised about, is there?
EVALD: And you're sure?
MARIANNE: The report on the test came yesterday.
EVALD: Oh. Oh, yes. So that was the secret.
MARIANNE: Another thing I want to tell you. I shall have this
EVALD: That seems to be clear.
MARIANNE: Yes, it is!
MARIANNE (voice over): We sat quietly for a long time and I felt
how the hatred grew big and thick between us. Evald looked out
through the wet window, whistled soundlessly and looked as if he
were cold. Somewhere in my stomach I was shivering so hard that I
could barely sit upright. Then he opened the door and got out of the
car and marched through the rain down to the beach. He stopped
under a big tree and stood there for a long while. Finally I also
stepped out and went to him. His face and hair were wet and the rain
fell down his cheeks to the sides of his mouth.
EVALD (calmly): You know that I don't want to have any children.
You also know that you'll have to choose between me and the child.
MARIANNE (looks at him): Poor Evald. EVALD: Please don't "poor"
me. I'm of sound mind and I've made my position absolutely clear.
It's absurd to live in this world, but it's even more ridiculous to
populate it with new victims and it's most absurd of all to believe
that they will have it any better than us.
MARIANNE: That is only an excuse.
EVALD: Call it whatever you want. Personally I was an unwelcome
child in a marriage which was a nice imitation of hell. Is the old man
really sure that I'm his son? Indifference, fear, infidelity and guilt
feelings—those were my nurses.
MARIANNE: All this is very touching, but it doesn't excuse the
fact that you're behaving like a child.
EVALD: I have to be at the hospital at three o'clock and have
neither the time nor the desire to talk any more.
MARIANNE: You're a coward!
EVALD: Yes, that's right. This life disgusts me and I don't think that
I need a responsibility which will force me to exist another day
longer than I want to. You know all that, and you know that I'm
serious and that this isn't some kind of hysteria, as you once thought.
MARIANNE (voice over): We went toward the car, he in front
and I following. I had begun to cry. I don't know why. But the tears
couldn't be seen in the rain. We sat in the car, thoroughly wet and
cold, but the hatred throbbed in us so painfully that we didn't feel
cold. I started the car and turned it toward the road. Evald sat fiddling
with the radio. His face was completely calm and closed.
MARIANNE: I know that you're wrong.
EVALD: There is nothing which can be called right or wrong. One
functions according to one's needs; you can read that in an
MARIANNE: And what do we need?
EVALD: You have a damned need to live, to exist and create life.
MARIANNE: And how about you?
EVALD: My need is to be dead. Absolutely, totally dead.
I've tried to relate Marianne's story as carefully as pos-
sible. My reaction to it was very mixed. But my strongest feeling
was a certain sympathy toward her for this sudden confidence, and
when Marianne fell silent she looked so hesitant that I felt obliged to
say something even though I wasn't very sure of my own voice.
ISAK: If you want to smoke a cigarette, you may.
MARIANNE: Thank you.
ISAK: Why have you told me all this?
Marianne didn't answer at once. She took her time lighting a
cigarette and puffed a few times. I looked at her, but she turned her
head away and pretended to look at the three youngsters, who had
picked up some kind of soft drink which they shared in great amity.
MARIANNE: When I saw you together with your mother, I was
gripped by a strange fear.
ISAK: I don't understand.
MARIANNE: I thought, here is his mother. A very ancient
woman, completely ice-cold, in some ways more frightening than
death itself. And here is her son, and there are light-years of distance
between them. And he himself says that he is a living death. And
Evald is on the verge of becoming just as lonely and cold—and dead.
And then I thought that there is only coldness and death, and death
and loneliness, all the way. Somewhere it must end.
ISAK: But you are going back to Evald.
MARIANNE: Yes, to tell him that I can't agree to his condition. I
want my child; no one can take it from me. Not even the person I
love more than anyone else.
She turned her pale, tearless face toward me, and her gaze was
black, accusing, desperate. I suddenly felt shaken in a way which I
had never experienced before.
ISAK: Can I help you?
MARIANNE: No one can help me. We are too old, Isak. It has
gone too far.
ISAK: What happened after your talk in the car?
MARIANNE: Nothing. I left him the very next day.
ISAK: Haven't you heard from him?
MARIANNE: No. No, Evald is rather like you.
She shook her head and bent forward as if to protect her face. I
felt cold; it had become quite chilly after the rain.
MARIANNE: Those two wretched people whom I made leave
the car—what was their name again?
ISAK: I was just thinking about Alman and his wife. It reminded
me of my own marriage.
MARIANNE: I don't want Evald and I to become like ...
ISAK: Poor Evald grew up in all that.
MARIANNE: But we love each other.
Her last words were a low outburst. She stopped herself
immediately and moved her hands toward her face, then stopped
again. We sat quietly for a few moments.
ISAK: We must get on. Signal to the children.
Marianne nodded, started the motor and blew the horn. Sara came
laughing through the wet grass, closely followed by her two
cavaliers. She handed me a large bouquet of wild flowers wrapped in
wet newspapers. All three of them had friendly, mocking eyes. Sara
cleared her throat solemnly.
SARA: We heard that you are celebrating this day. Now we want
to pay our respects to you with these simple flowers and to tell you
that we are very impressed that you are so old and that you've been a
doctor for fifty years. And we know, of course, that you are a wise
old man. One who regards us youngsters with lenience and gentle
irony. One who knows all about life and who has learned all the
prescriptions by heart.
She gave me the flowers with a little mock curtsy and kissed my
cheek. The boys bowed and laughed, embarrassed. I couldn't answer.
I only thanked them very briefly and rather bluntly. The children
probably thought that I had been hurt by their joke.
After a few more hours' travel, we readied Lund. When we finally
stopped at Evald's house, a small round woman ran out and
approached us quickly. To my surprise and pleasure I discovered
that it was Miss Agda.
AGDA: So you did come. Evald and I had just given up hope. It's
relaxing and convenient to drive, isn't it? Now, Professor, you'll have
to put on your frock coat immediately. Hello, Marianne. I've
prepared Evald for your arrival.
ISAK: So, Miss Agda, you came after all.
AGDA: I considered it my duty. But the fun is gone. There's
nothing you can say that will make me feel different. Who are these
young people? Are they going to the ceremony too?
MARIANNE: These are good friends of ours, and if there is any
food in the kitchen, invite them in.
AGDA: And why shouldn't there be? I've had a lot of things to
arrange here, believe me.
Evald met us in the foyer. He was already dressed in evening
clothes and seemed nervous. Everything was extremely confused,
but Miss Agda was a pillar of strength in the maelstrom. Without
raising her voice, and dressed in her best dress (especially made for
the occasion), she sent the children, the married couple, servants and
an old pro-
fessor in different directions. Within ten minutes, everything was
Just before that, Evald, Marianne and I had a chance to say hello. I
wouldn't want to give the impression that our reunion was marked
by overwhelming cordiality. This has never been the case in our
EVALD: Hello, Father. Welcome.
ISAK: Hello, Evald. Thank you. As you can see, I brought
Marianne with me.
EVALD: Hello, Marianne.
MARIANNE: Can I take my things upstairs?
EVALD: Do you want to stay in the guest room as usual, Father?
ISAK: Thank you, that would be just fine.
EVALD: Let me take your suitcase. It's rather heavy.
ISAK: Thank you, I'll take it myself.
EVALD: Did you have a nice trip?
MARIANNE: Yes, thanks, it's been pleasant.
EVALD: Who were those youngsters you had with you?
MARIANNE: Don't know. They're going to Italy.
EVALD: They looked rather nice.
ISAK: They are really very nice.
We had come to the second floor. Evald politely opened the door
to the guest room and I entered. Agda came after us as if she were
rolling on ball bearings, forced her way in and took the suitcase,
putting it on a chair.
AGDA: I bought new shoelaces, and I took the liberty of bringing
the white waistcoat to your evening dress if you should want to go to
the banquet after the ceremony. And you forgot your razor blades.
She unpacked, murmuring sounds of worried concern. I didn't
listen. Instead I listened to the conversation be-
tween Marianne and Evald outside the half-closed door. Their
voices were formal and faultlessly polite.
MARIANNE: No, I'll go tomorrow, so don't worry.
EVALD: Do you intend to stay in a hotel?
MARIANNE (gay): Why? We can share a bedroom for another
night, if you have no objection. Help me to unpack.
EVALD: It was really nice to see you. And unexpected.
MARIANNE: I feel the same way. Are we going to the dinner
afterward, or what do you want to do?
EVALD: I'll just call Stenberg and tell him that I'm bringing a lady.
He arranges such things.
The door was closed, so I couldn't hear any more of the
conversation. I had sat down on the bed to take off my shoes. Miss
Agda helped me, but she wasn't very gracious.
Oddly enough, there were three Jubilee Doctors that year. The
dean's office had thoughtfully placed us three old men in a special
room while the procession was arranged out in the large vestibule of
the university hall. I happened to know one of the other two who
were going to be honored. He was an old schoolmate, the former
Bishop Jakob Hovelius. We greeted each other cordially and
embraced. The third old man seemed rather atrophied and declined
all conversation. It turned out that he was the former Professor of
Roman Law, Carl-Adam Tiger (a great fighter in his time and a man
who, according to his students, really lived up to his name).
ISAK: How comforting it is to meet another old corpse. How are
you nowadays, dear Jakob?
JAKOB: I enjoy my leisure. But don't ask me if I do it cum
ISAK: Do you know the third man to be honored?
JAKOB: Of course. It's Carl-Adam Tiger, Professor of Roman
ISAK: The Tiger! Good Lord!
JAKOB: He has three interests left in life. A thirty-year-old
injustice, a goldfish, and his bowels.
ISAK: Do you think that we are like that?
JAKOB: What's your opinion? As Schopenhauer says some-
where, "Dreams are a kind of lunacy and lunacy a kind of dream."
But life is also supposed to be a kind of dream, isn't it? Draw your
ISAK: Do you remember how in our youth we fought with each
other on what we called the metaphysical questions?
JAKOB: How could I forget?
ISAK: And what do you believe now?
JAKOB: I'll tell you, I've ceased thinking about all that. One of
these days, knowledge will be achieved.
ISAK: My, how surprised you'll be.
JAKOB: And you. But one has a right to be curious.
TIGER: Gentlemen, do you think I'd have time to make a small
secret visit before the great farce begins?
ISAK: I don't know. Professor Tiger.
TIGER (sighs): In dubio non est agendum. When in doubt, don't, as
the old Romans used to say. I'll stay here.
What should I describe? Trumpet fanfares, bells ringing, field-
cannon salutes, masses of people, the giant procession from the
university to the cathedral, the white-dressed garland girls, royalty,
old age, wisdom, beautiful music, stately Latin sentences which
echoed off the huge vaults. The students and their girls, women in
bright, magnificent dresses, this strange rite with its heavy
symbolism but as meaningless as a passing dream.
Then I saw Sara with her two boys among the onlookers outside
the cathedral. They waved to me and suddenly looked childishly
happy and full of expectations. Among
the lecturers was Evald, tall and serious, disinterested and absent.
Inside the church, I saw Marianne in her white dress and next to her
sat Miss Agda, pale and with her lips pressed tightly together. The
ceremonial lecture was dull (as usual). The whole thing went on
endlessly (as usual) and the garland girls had to go out and relieve
themselves in the little silver pot in the sacristy. But we adults un-
fortunately had to stay where we were. As you know, culture
provides us with these moments of refined torture. Professor Tiger
looked as if he were dying, my friend the Bishop fell asleep, and
more than one of those present seemed ready to faint. Even our
behinds, which have withstood long academic services, lectures,
dusty dissertations and dull dinners, started to become numb and
ache in silent protest.
I surprised myself by returning to the happenings of the day, and it
was then that I decided to recollect and write down everything that
had happened. I was beginning to see a remarkable causality in this
chain of unexpected, entangled events. At the same time, I couldn't
escape recalling the Bishop's words: "Dreams are a kind of lunacy
and lunacy a kind of dream, but life is also supposed to be a dream,
isn't it . . ."
After the ceremony there was a banquet, but I really felt too tired
to go. I took a cab home and found Miss Agda in my room busy
making my bed the way I like (very high under my head and folded
neatly at my feet). A heating pad was already connected and my
sleeping pills stood on the table. Almost at once. Miss Agda began
helping me with my shoes and evening dress, and I felt a great
warmth toward this extraordinary, faithful, thoughtful old woman. I
would really have liked to become friends with her again, and I
repented the morning's thoughtless utterances (which, I noticed, she
had by no means forgotten).
ISAK: Did you enjoy the ceremony?
AGDA: Yes, thank you.
ISAK: Are you tired. Miss Agda?
AGDA: I won't deny it.
ISAK: Take one of my sleeping pills.
AGDA: No, thanks.
ISAK: Oh, Miss Agda, I'm sorry for this morning.
AGDA: Are you sick, Professor?
ISAK: No. Why?
AGDA: I don't know, but that sounds alarming.
ISAK: Oh really, is it so unusual for me to ask forgiveness?
AGDA: Do you want the water decanter on the table?
ISAK: No, thanks.
We puttered about for a while, silently.
AGDA: Thanks anyway.
ISAK: Oh, Miss Agda.
AGDA: What do you want. Professor?
ISAK: Don't you think that we who have known each
other for two generations could drop formality and say
"du" to each other?
AGDA: No, I don't really think so.
ISAK: Why not, if I may ask?
AGDA: Have you brushed your teeth. Professor?
ISAK: Yes, thanks.
AGDA: Now, I'll tell you. I beg to be excused from all intimacies.
It's all right the way it is between us now.
ISAK: But, dear Miss Agda, we are old now.
AGDA: Speak for yourself. Professor. A woman has to think of
her reputation, and what would people say if the two of us suddenly
started to say "du" to each other?
ISAK: Yes, what would people say?
AGDA: They would ridicule us.
ISAK: Do you always act correctly?
AGDA: Nearly always. At our age one ought to know how to
behave. Isn't that so, Professor?
ISAK: Good night. Miss Agda.
AGDA: Good night, Professor. I will leave the door ajar. And you
know where I am if you should want something. Good night,
ISAK: Good night. Miss Agda.
I was just going to lie down in bed (I had been sitting on the edge
in my old robe) when I heard singing and music from the garden. I
thought I recognized the voices and walked over to the window and
lifted the blinds. Down there under the trees I recognized my three
companions from the trip. They sang to their heart's delight, and
Anders accompanied them on his guitar.
SARA: Hey, Father Isak! You were fantastic when you marched
in the procession. We were real proud that we knew you. Now we're
ANDEKS: We got a lift all the way to Hamburg.
VIKTOR: With a fifty-year-old deaconess. Anders is already sweet
on the old girl.
ANDERS: Stop babbling!
VIKTOR: We came to say goodbye.
ISAK: Goodbye, and thank you for your company.
SARA: Goodbye, Father Isak. Do you know that it is really you I
love, today, tomorrow and forever?
ISAK: I'll remember that.
VIKTOR: Goodbye, Professor.
ISAK: Goodbye, Viktor.
ANDERS: Goodbye, Professor. Now we have to run.
ISAK: Let me hear from you sometime.
Those last words I said to myself, and rather quietly. The children
waved to me and were swallowed up by the
summer night. I heard their laughter, and then they were gone.
At the same moment, I heard voices out in the foyer. It was Evald
and Marianne. They whispered out of consideration to me and I
heard the rustle of Marianne's evening gown. I called to Evald. He
entered the room, but stopped at the door.
ISAK: Are you home already?
EVALD: Marianne had to change shoes. Her heel broke.
ISAK: So you are going to the dance?
EVALD: Yes, I suppose so.
EVALD: How are you otherwise?
ISAK: Fine, thanks.
EVALD: How's the heart holding up?
EVALD: Good night, and sleep well.
He turned and went through the door. I asked him to come back.
He looked very surprised. I felt surprised myself, and confused. I
didn't really know what to say.
ISAK: Sit down a moment.
EVALD: Is it something special?
He sat obediently on the chair near the bed. His starched shirt
rustled and his hands hung a little tiredly across his knees. I realized
that my son was becoming middle-aged.
ISAK: May I ask you what's going to happen between you and
Marianne? (Evald shakes his head) Forgive my asking.
EVALD: I know nothing.
ISAK: It's not my business, but ...
ISAK: But shouldn't ...
EVALD: I have asked her to remain with me.
ISAK: And how will it ... I mean . . .
EVALD: I can't be without her.
ISAK: You mean you can't live alone.
EVALD: I can't be without her. That's what I mean.
ISAK: I understand.
EVALD: It will be as she wants.
ISAK: And if she wants ... I mean, does she want?
EVALD: She says that she'll think it over. I don't really know.
ISAK: Regarding that loan you had from me ...
EVALD: Don't worry, you'll get your money.
ISAK: I didn't mean that.
EVALD: You'll get your money all right.
Evald rose and nodded to me. Just then Marianne appeared in the
door. She had on a very simple but extraordinarily beautiful white
MARIANNE: How are you, Father Isak?
ISAK: Fine, thanks. Very well.
MARIANNE: I broke a heel, so we had to come home to change.
Can I wear these shoes instead?
ISAK: They look fine.
Marianne came up to me. She smelled good and rustled in a sweet,
womanly way. She leaned over me.
ISAK: Thanks for your company on the trip.
MARIANNE: Thank you.
ISAK: I like you, Marianne.
MARIANNE: I like you too. Father Isak.
She kissed me lightly on the cheek and disappeared. They
exchanged a few words outside the door. I heard their steps on the
stairs and then the door slamming in the
foyer. I heard my heart and my old watch. I heard the tower clock
strike eleven, with the light tones designating the four quarter hours
and the heavier sounds marking the hour.
Now it began to rain, not very hard, but quietly and evenly. A
lulling sound. The street lamp swung on its cord and threw shadows
on the light-colored window blinds.
Whenever I am restless or sad, I usually try to recall memories
from my childhood, to calm down. This is the way it was that night
too, and I wandered back to the summerhouse and the wild-
strawberry patch and everything I had dreamed or remembered or
experienced during this long day.
I sat under the tree by the wild-strawberry patch and it was a
warm, sunny day with soft summer skies and a mild breeze coming
through the birches. Down at the dock, my sisters and brothers were
romping with Uncle Aron. My aunt went by, together with Sara.
They were laden with large baskets. Everyone laughed and shouted
to each other and applauded when the red sail went up the mast of
the old yacht (an ancient relic from the days of my parents'
childhood; a mad impulse of our grandfather, the Admiral). Sara
turned around and when she caught sight of me she put down her
baskets and ran toward me.
SARA: Isak, darling, there are no wild strawberries left. Aunt
wants you to search for your father. We will sail around the
peninsula and pick you up on the other side.
ISAK: I have already searched for him, but I can't find either
Father or Mother.
SARA: Your mother was supposed to go with him.
ISAK: Yes, but I can't find them.
SARA: I will help you.
She took me by the hand and suddenly we found ourselves at a
narrow sound with deep, dark water. The sun
shone brightly on the opposite side, which rose softly into a
meadow. Down at the beach on the other side of the dark water a
gentleman sat, dressed in white, with his hat on the back of his head
and an old pipe in his mouth. He had a soft, blond beard and pince-
nez. He had taken off his shoes and stockings and between his hands
he held a long, slender bamboo pole. A red float lay motionless on
the shimmering water.
Farther up the bank sat my mother. She wore a bright summer
dress and a big hat which shaded her face. She was reading a book.
Sara dropped my hand and pointed to my parents. Then she was
gone. I looked for a long time at the pair on the other side of the
water. I tried to shout to them but not a word came from my mouth.
Then my father raised his head and caught sight of me. He lifted his
hand and waved, laughing. My mother looked up from her book.
She also laughed and nodded.
Then I saw the old yacht with its red sail. It cruised so smoothly
in the mild breeze. In the prow stood Uncle Aron, singing some
sentimental song, and I saw my brothers and sisters and aunt and
Sara, who lifted up Sigbritt's little boy. I shouted to them, but they
didn't hear me.
I dreamed that I stood by the water and shouted toward the bay,
but the warm summer breeze carried away my cries and they did not
reach their destination. Yet I wasn't sorry about that; I felt, on the
contrary, rather lighthearted.
THE MAGICIAN (THE FACE)
Max von Sydow
Director of photography
Music directed by
P. A. Lundgren
Manne Lindholm and
Greta Johansson Borje Lundh and
Aaby Wedin and Ake Hansson
Running time: 102 minutes
Produced by Svensk Filmindustri; distributed in the United States
by Janus Films, Inc., and in Great Britain as The Face by
Contemporary Films Ltd.
ON A SUMMER EVENING pregnant with thunder in July of the
year 1846, a large coach stops beside a road just south of Stockholm.
The hot sun slants down mercilessly on the marshes, the forest and
the black clouds in the eastern sky.
Four travelers sit around the coach. The fifth—a small, bent old
woman—walks around poking in the ground, as if searching for
The coachman, who is the youngest in the group, has just returned
from the forest with water for the horses. Near the coach step sits a
big red-haired man, eating ham. His lunchbox is open beside him.
A little to the side, by themselves, the other two sit. One is a tall,
thin man with a pale face, straight black hair, a beard and black
eyebrows. Bareheaded, he is dressed in a dusty traveling suit and
smokes a short pipe, which he lights continuously. The other, smaller
in height, rather delicate, also dressed in a traveling suit, seems more
a boy than a man.
The coach is heavily laden with boxes and crates; it looks
comfortable enough but has seen better days. The horses are strong
but not very well groomed. Now the little 299
old woman has dug a hole in the ground with a stick. She kneels
and searches in the hole with her hand, looks rather satisfied, fishes
up something which can best be described as a black stone. She
looks carefully over her shoulder to see if the others are watching,
but when no one seems to be taking notice she puts her find in a
small leather bag she carries.
A remarkably large magpie stares at the old woman. She becomes
angry and holds the bag close to her. The magpie remains there and
sneers scornfully. The old woman spits on the ground and rushes
The sun burns down on the edge of the forest and it is very quiet.
The travelers step into the coach while the coachman climbs up to
the coach box and shouts at the horses. The coach springs creak and
sigh as the heavy vehicle slowly sways up onto the narrow, rutted
In the forest, sunbeams tremble in the trees like hurled spears, but
the twilight is heavy.
The big man—the one who was eating—grins good-humoredly as
he picks his teeth. The old woman draws her breath and coughs for a
TUBAL: Did you find what you were digging for?
TUBAL: You mistook the place.
GRANDMOTHER: I know very well where the gallows were.
It was right here, it was. Just before the toll house on the
edge of the forest.
TUBAL: You with your mandrake roots, chopped-off fingers
and other deviltry. (Grins kindly)
GRANDMOTHER: And in this forest the spirits went about,
howling or sighing, depending on their mood. There was
such a racket that people were afraid to go into the forest
after sundown. I remember well.
TUBAL: You and your spirits.
He laughs in a friendly way, folds his hands over his vest and
belches discreetly. But Grandmother becomes extremely angry.
GRANDMOTHER: Listen, Albert. Why do you keep that Tubal as
your assistant? You should get rid of him. Do you hear what your
Albert (who has apparently heard his grandmother's opinions on
previous occasions) pretends to be deaf. But Tubal's mood seems to
get better and better.
TUBAL: How could Vogler's Magnetic Health Theater get along
without Tubal, I'd like to know. For example, who was it that bailed
us out of our last booking in Copenhagen? At night. At the risk of
my own life. After our Danish tour had gone to hell. I'm asking, but
no one answers.
GRANDMOTHER (amgry): And who is it that brews our
TUBAL: Who is it that sells them?
GRANDMOTHER: After all, the medicines are our steady income.
TUBAL: You would have been finished off long ago if people
knew what you put into your medicines. GRANDMOTHER (very
angry): "What is good for you is not always tasty"—that's what my
mother used to say.
TUBAL: In any case, I'm the one who takes the responsibility.
GRANDMOTHER: And the profits.
TUBAL: Don't try that, Granny. I know something, I do.
GRANDMOTHER (a little humbler): The Lord will punish you,
Tubal, on Judgment Day.
TUBAL: You who have sold yourself to the devil, you shouldn't
take God's name in your sinful mouth.
GRANDMOTHER: In my father's house there are many mansions,
the Bible says.
TUBAL: If that's so, it's because the devil already has a
GRANDMOTHER: Do you hear, Albert? Should that big red ox be
allowed to insult Grandmother like that? Slap him on his snout, or at
least give me my chest medicine. I have a cough.
Grandmother coughs convincingly and takes a sip from a small
silver flask. Then she huddles in her corner. Her eyes gleam
watchfully in the twilight.
Tubal scratches his nose and looks at his traveling companions
with friendly scorn.
Albert makes a few unsuccessful attempts to light his pipe. The
young man seems to be asleep in his corner.
The coach sways and creaks; the springs and the axles squeal.
The trees lean out of the forest at them. The road is wet and
muddy after the rains.
A light fog rises from the water's surface. The day sinks toward
Grandmother opens her eyes.
GRANDMOTHER: Do you hear?
TUBAL: Maybe it's a ghost.
GRANDMOTHER: It was a scream. I heard it quite clearly.
Everyone listens. Through the stillness and the sounds of the
coach, a wailing cry is indeed heard. It is prolonged and terrifying,
but still distant.
TUBAL: It's a fox.
GRANDMOTHER (mimics him): It's a fox! A fox on two wasted
legs, bloody, with his head hanging by a few sinews perhaps. A fox
without eyes, but with a rotten hole for a
mouth. ... I have seen them, I have. And I know what I know.
The coach stops with a jolt.
The coachman, Simson, comes leaping through the door which he
slams shut violently. His legs are covered with mud and his face is
SIMSON: Why don't you get the devil to sit on the coach box in
this forest and have ghosts and ghouls howling in his ears?
He falls silent and points toward the forest. A phantom gleams
among the trees, clutching at their trunks with haggard arms. Once
in a while it utters a dull, inhuman howl.
GRANDMOTHER (mumbles): "Wound in the eye, blood in the
mouth, fingers gone, neck broken, he calls you down, he calls you
forth, beyond the dead, the living, the living dead, beyond the raised
hands . . ."
Suddenly the phantom is gone—swallowed up by the darkness of
the forest, the thin fog over the marshes.
Albert Vogler steps out of the coach and walks into the forest,
He finds the ghoul sitting in a puddle grinning at him. He is half
naked; his clothing hangs in rags on his lean bones. He is a tall man
and his back sways as if it were broken.
SPEGEL: Good evening, sir! My name is Johan Spegel. As you
can perceive, I am very ill. Will you mitigate my suffering and offer
me a little brandy? Although brandy is my infirmity, it is also my
He rises with difficulty, stands swaying and breathing heavily in
front of Vogler.
SPEGEL: I am an actor and actually I belong to the renowned
Stenborg troupe. But my illness has put an end to my career.
Vogler offers him a small silver flask containing Grandmother's
chest medicine. The actor begins to tremble as if he had a fever, but
manages to bring the flask to his mouth and drink. The inflamed
whites of his eyes are turned upward. He bends forward, stands
crouched for a few moments and then straightens up. He returns the
flask with an attempt at a polite bow, but nearly collapses. Vogler
quickly grabs him around the waist and leads him to the coach.
SPEGEL: Are you an actor too?
Vogler shakes his head.
SPEGEL: Why, then, are you disguised, sir? You are wearing a
false beard and your eyebrows and hair are dyed. Are you a swindler
who must hide his real face?
Vogler suddenly laughs.
The dying man opens his eyes and presses his lips together in a
shrewd smile. He pulls Vogler close to him.
SPEGEL: Let us rest for a moment and breathe. Now the twilight
falls, and this is the last day of life.
Vogler wants to move on, but the actor stops him with
unexpected strength and puts his hand on his shoulder.
SPEGEL: I have always yearned for a knife. A blade with
which to lay bare my bowels. To detach my brain, my heart. To
free me from my substance. To cut away my tongue and my
manhood. A sharp knife blade which would scrape out all my
uncleanliness. Then the so-called spirit could ascend out of this
He mumbles something indistinguishable and looks around.
Vogler leads him gently toward the coach. Tubal comes to meet
them and together they help the actor up and place him on the coach
Grandmother protests dully, but moves her feet to make way for
Simson, the coachman, climbs up onto the box and sets the horses
The coach sways through the mud and the pale streaks of fog.
The actor is dying, but peacefully and without pain. Once in a
while he takes a deep sip from the silver flask.
Tubal has begun to eat again, chewing calmly and rhythmically.
Grandmother stares watchfully from her corner. Vogler lights his
pipe. Aman has opened a book and pretends to read.
SPEGEL (politely): What kind of book are you reading, sir?
AMAN: It is a novel. It's about cardsharps.
SPEGEL: Colleagues, then?
TUBAL: There are no cardsharps here.
SPEGEL: None. (Laughs)
AMAN: Nevertheless it's an interesting book. (Reads)
"Swindling is so prevalent that those who speak the truth are
usually branded as the worst liars."
SPEGEL: The author thus assumes that there is some great
general thing called truth somewhere upstage. This is an illusion.
SPEGEL: Of course. Truth is made to order; the most skinful liar
creates the most useful truth.
TUBAL: That's what you get for your book-reading, Mr. Aman!
AMAN: Mr. Tubal should chew his words before he speaks them.
TUBAL: That business about truth interests me too damn much, I
SPEGEL: Yes, it's a beautiful passion.
TUBAL: Naturally there are truths. For instance, if I say: "The
rump is behind and the head is on the neck," that is an absolute truth
and I like such truths.
SPEGEL: "The rump is behind and the head is on the neck." This
is a dubious truth.
TUBAL: Why do you say that?
SPEGEL: Indeed, because on you it seems to be the reverse.
TUBAL: You are an amusing man, sir, and it's almost sad that you
have to die.
SPEGEL: So will you, even though you don't believe it now.
TUBAL: A matter for the future, sir! And the future worries me as
little as the past. I am a "lily of the field," I live for today. Can't you
Spegel starts to answer, but a violent tremor goes through his body.
TUBAL: Now he's going to die.
Vogler leans over the actor. Spegel's face is closed and nearly
SPEGEL: If you want to register the moment itself, look closely,
sir. I'll keep my face open to your curiosity. What do I feel? Fear and
well-being. Now death has reached my hands, my arms, my feet, my
bowels. It climbs upward, inward. Observe me closely. Now the heart
stops, now my
consciousness becomes extinguished. I see neither God nor angels.
Now I cannot see you any longer. I am dead. You wonder. I will tell
you. Death is ...
TUBAL: That was interesting. (Eats)
Vogler lowers the actor to the floor and covers him with a large
TUBAL: Ruined, wanted by the police, and us with a corpse in the
coach 1 (Chews) We could have made a better entrance into the
Tubal sighs and belches, brushes the bread crumbs off his vest,
folds his hands over his belly and closes his eyes.
At the southern toll house, the road barrier has been lowered and
the coachman reins in the horses.
A uniformed man comes out of the toll house and opens the coach
door. Tubal hops out and begins a lively conversation with him. The
man shakes his head.
Tubal tries bribing him. To no avail.
Two more uniformed men come out of the house. One of them
climbs into the box and takes the reins; the other pushes Tubal into the
coach, slams the door and mounts the coach step.
Tubal sinks down in his corner and makes a helpless gesture with
The coach is set in motion and rolls rather quickly through winding
streets bordered by low houses and gardens.
There are not many people outdoors; lamps have already been
lighted in the windows.
In the distance, a church bell is heard striking the quarter-hour and
then the hour.
The coach rolls cautiously down a short hill, around a two-story
stone house and into a court yard.
The travelers get out and look around. The yard is large,
paved with stones and enclosed on two sides by the main house, a
massive but handsome building. On the opposite side are wagon
sheds, storerooms and a laundry. The fourth side consists of a high
fence which borders on a garden.
The window of the ground-floor kitchen is illuminated and the
maids of the house look out.
A man in livery comes through the door, hangs up a lantern and
begins to unharness the horses.
The uniformed man has gone into the house but returns almost
immediately. Quietly and politely he asks the travelers to follow him.
The maids talk and giggle with one another and the cook presses
her round body against the window frame.
Tubal sends her an appreciative glance which makes her catch her
The coachman and the man in livery, who is tall and gangling, with
an evil face and a long mustache, lead the horses into the stables.
Vogler, his taciturn assistant, Tubal and Grandmother are led
through a hallway, up a stone staircase, and into a small, square room
with walls completely paneled in oak and sparsely furnished. The man
in uniform asks them to be seated, then he departs.
Grandmother suddenly gets a coughing attack, but no one pays
attention to her. Everyone is filled with his own thoughts.
Tubal stands at the window and rocks on his toes several times,
which makes his shoes squeak. Vogler has pulled out his short pipe,
but sucks on it without lighting it. His young assistant sits with
crossed legs and looks around rather uninterestedly.
TUBAL: All of you keep quiet and I'll do the talking. Above all, I
want Granny to keep her mouth shut.
TUBAL: Another thing. Granny can make things jump.
Granny knows what I mean.
GRANDMOTHER: Oh my, oh my.
TUBAL: Tables fly, chairs fall over, the candles and lamps
go out and so on. We know Granny's tricks. Will Granny
please be good now and control herself?
GRANDMOTHER: Oh, oh.
TUBAL: For all our sakes.
GRANDMOTHER (giggles): Yes, I understand. Perhaps.
TUBAL: Dear Jesus, this old woman makes me nervous. Do
you remember what happened in Ostende?
GRANDMOTHER: No, I don't remember.
Grandmother remembers quite well and giggles maliciously. Tubal
looks at her thoughtfully but not without respect.
TUBAL: Granny's tricks are passe. They're no fun any more
because they can't be explained. Granny, you ought to be dead.
GRANDMOTHER: It was wonderful at Ostende. The mayor's wife
got a mouse under her skirt, which she never had before, and the
mayor grew a cuckold's horns.
TUBAL: And I was slapped into jail and Vogler got fined and
Granny was flogged in the market place. Yes, it was wonderful in
Tubal clears his throat. Grandmother's good humor has, despite
everything, stimulated him. He pats the old woman on the cheek.
Then the door is opened and the uniformed man asks them to enter the
The library is a dark, rectangular room, its walls filled with books
from floor to ceiling. Behind the desk sits the Royal Counselor on
Medicine, Anders Vergerus. He is
about fifty years old, but looks older. He has steel-gray hair cut very
short, black eyebrows and a short, heavy beard. His face is pale,
irregular. He is dressed in dark, faultless, almost elegant clothes. He is
extremely nearsighted and wears thick glasses which often hide his
eyes. Beside the desk sits another man, somewhat younger and rather
fat. He wears the uniform of an official. This is the chief of police,
Frans Starbeck. From time to time he moves his hand over his wavy
hair in a coquettish gesture. His face wears a sarcastic expression
which changes occasionally to one of sudden insecurity.
In a comfortable armchair sits Consul Abraham Egerman, the young
master of the house. He has a soft, childlike face with a winning smile.
His look is curious and inquiring. When the strangers enter, he rises
The footman pulls forward several chairs. The uniformed man
speaks in whispers to the police chief. Egerman turns to Vergerus.
EGERMAN: What do you say? Perhaps we ought to introduce
ourselves. VERGERUS (rises): Of course.
EGERMAN: My name is Consul Abraham Egerman and I want to
welcome you to my house. I—my wife, too—am greatly interested in
the spiritual world. We therefore asked Police Chief Starbeck to
arrange this meeting in my home.
STARBECK (smiling): Frans Starbeck, chief of police. I arranged this
meeting and I hope that my men have treated you with proper
courtesy. VERGERUS (short): Vergerus. Royal Medical Counselor.
There is a long pause. Nervous glances. Anticipation. Tubal clears
TUBAL: On behalf of my master, my traveling companions
and myself, may I thank you for this distinguished reception.
Pause. Tubal gathers courage from somewhere.
TUBAL: It is no more than proper that we in turn introduce
The three gentlemen at the desk laugh lightly, but none of them
moves to shake hands with the strangers.
TUBAL: First and foremost, this is the company's leader and
director, Albert Emanuel Vogler, a great name on the European
continent, where for many years he has been considered the foremost
of Mesmer's students. (Vergerus looks closely at Tubal) Mr. Vogler has
developed and perfected the science of animal magnetism in a brilliant
way. The sickness which Mr. Vogler cannot alleviate by his magnets is
not yet known. Everything is completely scientific! Naturally.
VERGERUS: I am very glad to make your acquaintance, Mr.
The men bow. Vogler returns the salutation.
TUBAL: This, gentlemen, is Mr. Vogler's young ward and foremost
pupil, Mr. Aman. He has shown himself to possess the most
The men bow. Aman returns the salutation.
TUBAL: The venerable old lady is Mr. Vogler's grandmother, once
a celebrated opera singer. Who doesn't remember the Countess Agata
The chief of police lets slip an "Ah!" and kisses Grand-
mother's hand. The old lady returns the greeting with great dignity.
TUBAL: I myself am of little importance in this group. My humble
self has found a lifetime career in serving the great spirit who bears the
name of Albert Emanuel Vogler. Regard me only as the obedient hand,
the silent tool.
The three men exchange glances but maintain their correct, opaque
behavior. Consul Egerman turns toward Vogler with an obliging smile.
EGERMAN: Would Dr. Vogler mind sitting down for a few
minutes to discuss certain general questions concerning his activities?
Vogler shakes his head. Egerman asks the visitors to be seated as he
himself sits down in his chair. Starbeck sits at the large desk. The
medical counselor remains standing, but takes off his glasses and rubs
his face. Suddenly he meets Vogler's glance.
STARBECK: Dr. Vogler! You have advertised, in the town's
newspapers, a performance promising all kinds of sensations.
The police chief leans across the table and reads aloud from an open
STARBECK (reads): "Sensational marvels never shown before. Magic
acts based on the philosophies of the Orient. Health-giving magnets.
Spine-tingling thrills of the senses." (Looks up) Is this Mr. Vogler's
TUBAL: Sir! These wild phrases, the wording of which would be
offensive to any educated mind, are not the work of Dr. Vogler's hand.
VERGERUS (interrupts): We would be grateful if "Doctor" Vogler
would answer the police chief's questions himself.
TUBAL: Mr. Vogler is unfortunately deprived of the gift of speech.
He is mute, sirs.
The medical counselor seems to ponder this answer. He crosses his
hands behind him and regards his shoes seriously. Consul Egerman
lights a cigar. The chief of police looks up from his papers with a
sarcastic expression on his face.
STARBECK: Mr. Aman . . . (Aman looks up) Perhaps Mr. Aman is
also deprived of the gift of speech.
STARBECK: I haven't heard you say anything up to now.
AMAN: I haven't been asked to, sir.
Aman speaks with scorn. Vergerus is suddenly attentive and turns
smilingly toward the young man.
VERGERUS: So you devote yourselves to magic seances.
AMAN: We haven't said that.
VERGERUS: Your friend, Mr. Tubal . . .
AMAN: A game, nothing else. We use various kinds of apparatus,
mirrors and projectors. It is very simple and entirely harmless.
VERGERUS: Another question. Does Mr. Vogler heal the sick?
AMAN: This we have not said.
VERGERUS: He uses Mesmer's animal magnetism. I know the
method rather well. It is completely worthless.
Aman doesn't answer, but looks at the medical counselor with an
absent expression. Vergerus takes a step forward.
VERGERUS: We happen to know that Mr. Vogler recently, but
under another name, made a tour of Denmark. There he posed as a
physician and arranged consultations at the inns. The patients were
placed in a dimly lit room and were magnetized according to the
principles of Mesmer. This treatment led to trembling and nervous
attacks of all kinds. Some of them became unconscious.
AMAN: Why do you ask about things which you already know?
VERGERUS: As far as I can see, there seems to be a most
remarkable division in Mr. Vogler's activities.
STARBECK: How do you mean, sir?
VERGERUS: First we have the idealistic Doctor Vogler who
practices as a physician according to Mesmer's rather doubtful
methods. Then we have a somewhat less than idealistic magician who
arranges all kinds of hocus-pocus according to entirely home-made
recipes. If I've grasped the facts correctly, the activities of the Vogler
troupe range unscrupulously between these two extremes.
Egerman, who has been sitting quietly puffing on his cigar, enters
the conversation. His tone is still extremely polite.
EGERMAN: Tell me one thing. Does Mr. Vogler claim to possess
Tubal steps forward and raises his hand in a parrying gesture.
TUBAL: This cross-examination is painful both for you and for us,
gentlemen. Hold us responsible if we have done anything unlawful...
STARBECK: That is exactly what we intend to find out.
The chief of police turns his head. A very pale, very thin
and delicate woman has entered the room, stopping at the door. It is
OTTILIA: Excuse me, I didn't know ...
EGERMAN: My dear, sit down! Gentlemen, may I introduce my
The men bow. Mrs. Egerman takes her husband's outstretched
hand and sits down beside him. Starbeck smiles sarcastically, strokes
his mouth and then pats his hair in an affected manner.
STARBECK: What we have heard in this matter hardly inspires
VERGERUS: Mr. Tubal, will you be kind enough to bring me that
lamp standing on the table over there?
Tubal holds the lamp. Vergerus takes him gently by the arm and
leads him over to Vogler, who sits with his head bowed and his hands
resting on his knees.
VERGERUS: Look at me, Mr. Vogler.
Vogler raises his head and looks at Vergerus. The face of the
mesmerizer is twisted with rage. Mrs. Egerman, who sits closest to
Vogler, turns her head away in sudden fear.
VERGERUS: Why do you look so furious, Mr. Vogler? (Vogler
looks at him) You have no reason to hate me. I only want to find out
the truth. That should be your wish as well. (Vogler doesn't answer)
Open your mouth. (Vogler obeys) Stick out your tongue. (Vogler
Vergerus leans over Vogler and carefully squeezes his throat and
VERGERUS: I regret to say, Mr. Vogler, that I find no reason for
Vergerus takes the lamp from Tubal and sets it on the table. Vogler
has tears in his eyes. He wipes them away with the back of his hand.
STARBECK: Moreover, your advertisement states that you "can
provoke terrible visions among your audience."
TUBAL: Sir! It's our laterna magica. A ridiculous and entirely
VERGERUS: I am not so sure that it is a toy you are referring-to.
(To Vogler) Do you possess the power to provoke visions, Mr. Vogler?
TUBAL: I protest!
STARBECK: And why, if I may ask?
TUBAL: Mr. Vogler is a great man, Mr. Starbeck. A great man and
a distinguished scientist. You treat him as if he were a charlatan.
VERGERUS: It's rather the company he keeps that throws a certain
shadow over Mr. Vogler's scientific merits. (To Vogler) Do you
provoke visions, sir? TUBAL (angrily): I protest even more.
STARBECK (sharply): If you don't keep quiet, I'll ask you to leave.
VERGERUS: Well, Mr. Vogler. Yes or no?
Everyone looks intently at Vogler.
VERGERUS: Yes or no. (Vogler nods) So it's yes. Can you bring
about this state in anyone? (Vogler nods; Tubal sighs) Perhaps in me?
(Tubal sinks down and shakes his head) Let us immediately make an
experiment, Mr. Vogler. I am at your disposal. OTTILIA (crying out):
No, not that!
VERGERUS: And why not, Mrs. Egerman?
OTTILIA: Excuse me, excuse me.
Aman puts a chair in the center of the room and makes a sign to
Vergerus to sit down.
VERGERUS: No additional arrangements? No magnets? No dark
mysterious lights? No secret music behind the draperies?
The chief of police and Egerman have placed themselves so that
they can clearly see Vergerus' face, which is lit up by the table lamp.
Aman places himself behind Vergerus' back, puts his hands on his
Vogler sits calmly, expectantly. He leans forward a little and fixes
his eyes on Vergerus, who returns his glance. The others in the room
remain immobile. The clock on the wall clicks and strikes once,
quickly. There is a long silence.
VERGERUS (calmly): What do you want me to see, Mr. Vogler?
Something frightening or exciting?
He becomes silent and continues to look calmly at the mesmerizer.
Vogler's glance is absolutely fixed and almost expressionless.
VERGERUS: It must be weak vessels! Weak vessels and weak
souls. You are bursting yourself. Be careful and end your experiment.
(Pause) You think that I hate you, but that's not true. There is only one
thing which interests me. Your physiology, Mr. Vogler. I would like to
make an autopsy of you. (Pause) Weigh your brain, open your heart,
explore a little of your nerve circuits, lift out your eyes.
Vergerus has turned pale and his eyes widen. He sits
with his arms crossed. Although his posture is tense, his voice
remains completely controlled.
EGERMAN (suddenly): Stop now. Before it's too late.
VERGERUS: Too late? Too boring, you mean. (Rises) Mr.
Vogler, you have failed, but you ought to be grateful for your fiasco.
You are harmless.
OTTILIA: Why do you lie?
Vergerus turns around and stares at her. Then he takes off his
VERGERUS: I don't understand you, Mrs. Egerman.
OTTILIA: But we saw that you lied. You experienced something
that frightened you terribly, but you don't dare tell us what it was.
VERGERUS: Pardon me, Mrs. Egerman, but I have nothing to
hide, and no prestige to protect. Who knows? Perhaps I regret that I
was incapable of experiencing anything.
Vogler leans back and holds one hand over his eyes. He seems
exhausted. Vergerus turns toward him with a smile.
VERGERUS: You'll surely forgive my little joke, Mr. Vogler.
I'm convinced that your magic lantern provokes the most amazing
The chief of police rises behind the desk and gathers his papers.
He looks flustered and harried.
STARBECK: Everything all right? Then only the permit of the
chief of police is needed for you to hold your magnetic
STARBECK (raises his head): Calm down! You will have your
permit. (Pause) On one condition.
TUBAL: Of course! (Worried) And that is?
STARBECK: That Mr. Vogler give a private performance of his
program tomorrow at ten o'clock in the large hall.
TUBAL (in despair): Mr. Starbeck!
STARBECK: Just as a check. In full daylight. Have you any
objections, Mr. Tubal?
Tubal remains silent.
STARBECK: Excellent. Mr. and Mrs.
Egerman have risen.
EGERMAN: Supper will be served in an hour.
TUBAL (bewildered): It's too great an honor . . .
EGERMAN (smiling): Forgive me. Mr. Vogler and his troupe will
eat in the kitchen. Mrs. Garp will show you to your rooms. (To the
footman) Rustan, show our guests to the kitchen.
TUBAL: Perhaps we'd prefer to stay in town.
EGERMAN (politely): It is the wish of the chief of police that Mr.
Vogler and his troupe be the guests of this house.
Egerman turns his back to Tubal. Rustan makes a sign for the
strangers to follow him. On their way upstairs they can hear peals of
laughter behind them.
The three men eventually recover from their hilarity and sit down
in front of the open fireplace. Ottilia remains standing at the desk.
OTTILIA: Yes, it was a rather humorous game.
EGERMAN: What do you mean, dearest?
OTTILIA: Isn't it amusing to humiliate people who cannot defend
EGERMAN: You don't understand, my child! The medical
counselor and I had made a wager on a question of great scientific
OTTILIA: A wager?
VERGERUS: Indeed, Mrs. Egerman. Your husband holds the opinion
that intangible and inexplicable forces really exist.
OTTILIA: And you deny that possibility.
VERGERUS: It would be a catastrophe if scientists were suddenly
forced to accept the inexplicable.
EGERMAN: Why a catastrophe?
VERGERUS: It would lead to the point where we would have to take
into account a ... that we would be suddenly forced to ... logically we
would have to conceive of ...
EGERMAN: A God.
VERGERUS: A God, if you like.
STARBECK: A grotesque thought, and besides it's not modern.
Science today is better equipped than ever to penetrate all the obvious
VERGERUS: Everything can be explained.
EGERMAN: You seem very optimistic.
STARBECK: Optimistic! Just think of electricity! The steam engine!
EGERMAN: The fact is, at any rate, that the mesmerizer made an
impression on you.
VERGERUS: On my word of honor, he didn't influence me the least
STARBECK: That wager still stands? No one has won.
EGERMAN: We'll see tomorrow. Shall we have a glass before
Mrs. Egerman brings some port wine and serves it. Then she walks
quietly out of the room. Vergerus looks after her.
VERGERUS: Your wife seems a little agitated, Egerman. Is it the
child's death which still . . .
EGERMAN: We're going abroad this coming fall, and then I hope . . .
(Pause) Skoal, gentlemen!
STAKBECK: Skoal to Dr. Vogler and his magnetic troupe.
VERGERUS: A troupe with an extremely bad conscience, it seems.
The three men drink and laugh contentedly.
The Egerman kitchen is large, and like a farm kitchen. It is situated on
the ground floor and follows the angular shape of the house. On one side
there is an exit leading to the stone staircase and the hallway. On the other
side, two doors lead to the pantry and the servants' quarters. The entrance
door leads directly out into the courtyard. In the corner of the room stands
a large table on which a great deal of food, beer and brandy have been
Sara and Sanna have put the last touches on the preparations. Sara is
twenty, Sanna about sixteen. At a little table somewhat to the side sit
Vogler and Aman. They are just finishing their meal.
SANNA (whispers): I think they are dangerous people and we must
guard ourselves against them. I think they look ghastly.
SARA (whispers): You don't understand, Sanna dear, because you're
still so young.
SANNA: The magician himself is completely mute. Isn't that ghastly?
He hasn't said a word during the entire meal.
SARA: Rustan says that he's pretending.
SANNA: That's even worse. You know, I'm really afraid.
Now Vogler and Aman rise from the table and walk out through the
door to the hallway. Sanna and Sara look after them with curious
SARA: Anyway, they haven't got any money. You only have to be
afraid of rich people.
SANNA: I think it's ghastly that they're poor. Imagine, they might
kill us and steal all the master's money.
The door opens and Tubal enters in high spirits. Grandmother
follows on his heels.
TUBAL: Good evening, little maids. My name is only Tubal; it is
as simple as a folk song. Now let us see! This one is Sara, and that
one is Sanna.
SANNA AND SARA (giggle): Oh, is that so?
TUBAL: Now I know. This here is Sanna, and that is Sara.
SANNA AND SARA (giggle): Do you think so?
TUBAL: I'll find out! In short, we are invited for supper.
There are the makings and here are the guests! Shall we sit
Tubal turns around. Sofia Garp comes out from her quarters.
Tubal steps forward and manages to kiss her hand.
SOFIA: Sofia Garp, the cook of the house.
TUBAL: My lady! I am enchanted! Flattered! Overwhelmed! Not
to say infatuated!
Sofia's eyes take on a peculiar expression. She frees her hand,
smoothes her apron and points toward the table.
SOFIA: Good appetite, as we say in this house.
Rustan, Egerman's footman, has suddenly appeared from some
comer. He is a thickset, shapeless boy, endowed with high spirits and
a certain animal energy. He is accompanied by Simson, Vogler's
coachman, who has
changed his clothes and is thereby transformed into a handsome
Everyone sits down at the table and begins to eat in silence. The
beer foams, the brandy glitters, the pies rustle and the big slices of
bread fall softly. There is much chewing and swallowing; the glasses
and dishes tinkle, faces blush. No one speaks, but the silence is filled
with friendly curiosity, Tubal belches discreetly.
SOFIA: Bless you.
TUBAL: When I see these beautiful women with curvaceous
figures, rosy lips and sparkling eyes, when I see these young men,
fiery as young stallions, when I see our table sagging under all this
abundance, then I'm inspired to say something about life.
He throws an enthralling glance at Sofia, who draws her breath so
sharply that her corset creaks audibly.
SARA: How beautiful you speak, Mr. Tubal. Tell us more.
TUBAL: It's coming, my child. It's coming. (Drinks) Life, I want
to say, is a perfect performance of magic, with continually new and
SARA: Can you perform magic, Mr. Tubal?
TUBAL: Little child, let us not speak of supernatural things. Let
us instead enjoy reality, which is considerably more natural, not to
say more wholesome. That which is secret, that which is hidden, the
ghosts of the dead, the vision of the future which hangs over us with
its threatening dark face, all this we ought to leave be, my child.
SARA: Can you tell fortunes, Mr. Tubal?
TUBAL: Mr. Tubal can tell fortunes.
SARA: Read my hand, Mr. Tubal.
TUBAL: No, my dear child. You are much too young and full of
hope. I don't want to destroy your curiosity, your joy in life, your
Tubal's voice takes on a clerical tone. The others at the table regard
him with respect, all except Grandmother, who seems to have dozed
off in the warmth of the stove and the steaming food. Tubal looks
around and his glance touches that of Simson.
SOFIA: I'd say that one can really feel your supernatural powers,
TUBAL: They are felt, they are felt.
SOFIA: A wonderful gift!
TUBAL: But heavy to bear, Sofia. And dark. He who has once sold
himself becomes very lonely.
SOFIA: Oh my, Mr. Tubal, you make one feel both cold and hot
under the corset at the same time. (Blushes)
TUBAL: One becomes lonely, Sofia. Hungering after tenderness
and such things.
SARA: It's as if I heard our minister speaking. But more
SANNA (cries): I get so afraid.
SARA: What are you crying about?
TUBAL: Cry, my child! Her tears are like salve on the cancerous
sores of an outcast from society.
SARA: Dear Mr. Tubal, tell my fortune anyhow.
Sara leans forward over the table, blushing with excitement. Tubal
grasps her small hand and looks at her for a long while. She breathes
heavily. Then the door opens and a large, heavy man enters. He is
dressed in livery and has a pale, oval face, a drooping mustache and
SOFIA: Sit down, Antonsson, and take your fill. This is
Antonsson, Mr. Egerman's coachman.
TUBAL: At your service, Antonsson. We have already met.
ANTONSSON (curtly): 'Evening.
He takes off his livery coat, sits down at the short end of the table
and pulls the brandy jug over to him.
SARA: Quiet now. Mr. Tubal is going to talk about the future.
Tubal holds the girl's hand and closes his eyes. At the same time he
lets his other hand sink under the table and, as if by coincidence, fall
on Sofia's thigh. Cautiously his hand makes an indiscreet
investigation. Sofia Garp stops breathing and opens her mouth, but
remains silent. In the meantime, Tubal has begun to prophesy with
TUBAL: I see a light. Now it is extinguished. It is dark. I hear
sweet words of love. No, I cannot repeat them. My sense of decency
forbids it. I think I see ... I ... Now it is beautiful . . . who can talk
about decency at such a moment? Oh, it's stimulating. A young man.
He rides at full gallop. It is beautiful! Nature itself.
Sofia puts her hands in front of her face, which is flushed with
excitement. Grandmother has awakened and mumbles like a
counterpoint to Tubal's melody. Sara is breathless; her cheeks are
burning. Sanna cries quietly, leaning against Rustan, who sits with a
sagging jaw and breathes heavily for the first time in his life. Simson,
a handsome young man with moist lips and gleaming hair, searches
Sara's face but she hasn't noticed him yet.
TUBAL: Glittering tears of a maiden. Oh my child. The heaving
breast of the turtle dove. Pardon me for lingering on this vision, but I
see nothing else. It goes on for a long time. (Pause) A long time!
Tubal's left hand caresses the lower half of Sofia, who becomes
more and more excited in her upper half. His right hand still holds
Sara fast, but he falls silent. He merely nods rather seriously.
TUBAL: Yes, yes. (Sighs) I see no more. But something came
to mind: Sara, my child, before you go to celebrate your love feast,
take a few drops of our love potion and you'll delight in it
Out of a carrying case which he always has at hand Tubal takes an
unusual-looking flask. He offers it to Sara.
TUBAL: A gift from Mrs. Aphrodite Venus, the goddess of
love. Tubal is only the humble delivery man.
SANNA (excited): A love potion.
SOFIA: Is it expensive, Mr. Tubal?
TUBAL: It is costly, Madame Sofia, because its ingredients
are almost impossible to procure and they are gathered
under the greatest hardship.
SOFIA: That you dared!
TUBAL: In the name of science! And that of love!
SOFIA: May I buy a bottle, Mr. Tubal? TUBAL (shakes his head):
That is impossible. Your means are much too small, Madame Sofia.
These potions can only be bought by countesses, princesses and
certain successful actresses.
TUBAL: But for you, Sofia—well, because of your beauty and
your great hospitality and courtesy, let us say thirteen shillings.*
Two bottles for twenty.
Sofia nods wanly but determinedly. She rises from the table and
staggers to her room.
SARA: It has a strong smell.
Sara has opened the bottle and sniffed the contents. She looks up
bright-eyed at the others.
SARA: So strong, so strong. * The shilling (skilling) was a coin
used in Sweden up to 1855.
TUBAL: It is fluidum itself, my child. Materialized stimulation, if
I may be allowed to express myself scientifically.
Sara suddenly offers the bottle to Simson. Their hands touch. He
sniffs the bottle, pours a few drops into his brandy glass and drinks,
SARA: Is it good for men?
TUBAL: Not merely good! Mrs. Aphrodite Venus touches their
hearts with her finger tips. And then there's the devil to pay!
SARA: God in heaven, if only Mother were here!
SANNA (cries): I'm so scared, so scared.
Sofia Garp comes out of her room quickly, puts twenty shillings
on the table and stands at Tubal's side, steaming. He leans under the
table, but Grandmother is equally fast.
TUBAL (whispers): The love potion is finished. What do we use
GRANDMOTHER: Take this one, against the colic and bunions. The
most important thing is what the bottle looks like and how it tastes.
Tubal fishes out two small bottles and places them on the table.
The lanky Rustan has risen with a coin in his hand and stutters
RUSTAN: What can I get for this shilling?
TUBAL: A night of love which you'll never forget, you
lanky bumpkin. (Picks up a bottle)
GRANDMOTHER (whispers): But that's rat poison.
TUBAL (whispers): This one won't kick the bucket just yet.
(Aloud) Drink the whole bottle in one swallow and you'll
feel a bliss greater than King Solomon's when he enjoyed
himself with his thousand concubines.
Rustan immediately pulls the cork out of the bottle, empties it,
breathes heavily and rolls his eyes. Sanna cries even harder. Sofia
sits down beside Tubal and looks at him soberly while she fills his
SOFIA: Of course you are a swindler, Tubal.
TUBAL: Of course, Madame Sofia. But I'm something special,
don't you agree?
She empties her beer glass and puts it down on the table with a
SOFIA: You're also poor?
TUBAL: My capital is not of this world.
SOFIA: I was just thinking that. You would make a good
TUBAL: My faith is wavering. ...
SOFIA: You may be right. This subject requires a private
discussion. (Whispers) I'm going to my room. In a few minutes, walk
out into the yard and around the house to your right. There is a little
door there, and I'll let you in. TUBAL (enthusiastically): You are a
real woman, Sofia!
SOFIA: Perhaps. My husband died eight years ago.
TUBAL: My condolences!
SOFIA: He was fragile. But he was a great preacher in our parish.
He fired our souls. He had a spiritual storm in his heart.
TUBAL: That is a wonderful thing.
SOFIA: Perhaps, perhaps not.
She looks at him sharply, but her bosom heaves. Tubal is burning
with brandy and hell-fire.
TUBAL: Won't you take the flasks with you?
SOFIA (calmly but without scorn): Keep your bottles. You can
sell them again.
Sofia's behind sways in a stately fashion as she walks unhurriedly
from the room. Tubal becomes nervous, bites his nails and looks
around with watchful eyes. Simson and Sara sit, bashful and mute,
on opposite sides of the table. Simson has stretched out his hand
toward the girl and her hand is halfway stretched out toward his.
Sanna cries quietly and persistently. Rustan gets up and staggers to-
ward the door but lands on a stool beside the water barrel. He seems
badly muddled. Antonsson sits immobile.
TUBAL (raps on the table): Marry Sofia. (Drinks) Halleluja,
brothers—and sisters! It's conceivable. The main thing is not faith
but power. Sofia felt the power. (Gets up) Peace be with you, my
children. Now brother Tubal goes to sister Sofia and finds salvation.
Peace be with you.
No one has heard his statement, nor did he expect them to. Tubal
simply felt a bursting need to clarify his situation. He goes out into
the yard, closing the door carefully. He can be seen for a moment in
the window before he turns the corner and is gone. Simson looks
after him slightly distracted, and suddenly grips Sara's hand. At first
she pulls back but then remains completely still, her head turned
away from him. Sanna cries in confused anguish.
Grandmother, who has eaten as much as she can hold, is oblivious
to what has happened around her. She moves to the chair next to
Sanna and nudges her arm.
GRANDMOTHER: Why do you cry, little ant?
SANNA: Are you a witch?
SANNA: I'm so frightened of everything that's happened tonight.
(Quietly) And you are so old and ugly.
GRANDMOTHER: When you are almost two hundred years old,
you'll be ugly too, little ant.
SANNA: Are you really that old?
GRANDMOTHER: Yes, of course.
SANNA: Can you also perform magic?
GRANDMOTHER: It's happened. (Quietly) But nowadays
nobody believes in my secrets, so I have to be careful. One
must not offend the new faith, because then one might be
put in a madhouse. That's what Tubal says.
SANNA: How did you become a witch?
GRANDMOTHER: Shh! I can't tell you that.
SANNA: Have you sold your soul?
GRANDMOTHER: Yes. Perhaps I have.
SANNA (cries again): Oh, I'm becoming so frightened again.
GRANDMOTHER: Now go along to bed and the witch will give you
a gift. Do what I say, little ant. I only want the best for you. There,
Sanna gets up hesitantly and walks out of the kitchen.
Grandmother remains seated, a little thoughtful. She chatters to
herself and happens to catch sight of Antonsson. They exchange
ANTONSSON: What are you staring at?
GRANDMOTHER: I have been present at a number of executions,
especially in my earlier years. (Antonsson stares at her) I have seen
the hanged ones looking down at me. I have met glances from the
eyes of beheaded men. I have known several hangmen, especially in
past years. ANTONSSON: So?
GRANDMOTHER: So I know how a criminal looks.
ANTONSSON: I have never offended anyone.
GRANDMOTHER: No, no.
ANTONSSON: But to crack your neck would almost be a good deed.
GRANDMOTHER (rises): When I passed the laundry, I looked into
the darkness. In a corner a corpse was hanging from a rope. I went
closer to see who it was. And I recognized him.
ANTONSSON: I'm not afraid of you!
GRANDMOTHER: It was a murderer hanging from that
GRANDMOTHER: Yes, that's how it is. One sees what one sees and
one knows what one knows. It just doesn't pay to talk about it.
Grandmother leaves the kitchen, but she doesn't forget to take
along Tubal's case. Antonsson remains seated at the table, engrossed
in his thoughts.
SARA: What a life you must lead, Mr. Simson. SIMSON: Exciting,
you mean. Well, one gets accustomed to it.
SARA: All of us stay here, day in and day out. Everything is the
same all week long. Sometimes my whole body tingles so that I want
to laugh and cry at the same time. SIMSON: Our life! Oh, how can you
describe it! Performances, travels, great parties, a life of luxury.
SARA: Naturally you meet beautiful women, Mr. Simson.
SIMSON: The magic attracts women, you know. Especially
beautiful, hot-blooded women with instincts. Sometimes we actually
have to fight them off.
SIMSON: I just remembered a Russian princess with green eyes and
a lily-white bosom . . . Oh, well, let's talk about something else.
SIMSON: I can say that I've come to know women well. Only a
glance, and everything is revealed.
SARA: And just think, I'm sitting here with you, Mr. Simson.
SIMSON: But you're cute.
SARA: Do you think so?
SIMSON: And I'm a man of experience, I'd say. So I know
what I'm talking about. You've got a sweet mouth, beautiful eyes,
and a really neat figure.
SARA: Mama, help!
SIMSON: What are you shouting for!
SARA: I don't know. But I feel so strange. Particularly in the
stomach. Maybe I'm sick. SIMSON: It's the love potion, of course.
SARA: But I didn't swallow any. SIMSON: It doesn't matter.
(Quickly) You smelled it.
SARA: Do you think that could be the reason? What are you
Simson dives under the table and comes up next to Sara. He sits
down beside her and puts his arm around her waist.
SIMSON: Now let's each of us take a swallow. And then Mrs-
Venus Aphrodite will come and touch us. She's the goddess of love,
you know. And then everything will be lovely. One does what one
does and one knows what one knows, as Granny says.
SARA: I think you're teasing me, Mr. Simson.
SIMSON: No, my child, I'm not teasing you, I'm preparing a
wonderful amusement for us both.
SARA: And the Russian princess?
SIMSON: Is your bosom less white?
SARA: I don't think so. But her eyes were green.
SIMSON: She used to close her eyes. You can do that too.
SARA (happily): Then let's drink.
They clink glasses and drink the love potion which Simson has
poured. To make sure, they drink again and empty the bottle. Sara
puts her glass down and sighs.
SARA: What will happen now?
SIMSON: Now we'll just wait.
SIMSON (unsure): No, not exactly here.
SARA: Let's go to the laundry. SIMSON: The laundry?
SARA: Of course! (Happy) There are big baskets full of soft, clean clothes there.
SIMSON: Perhaps we should wait awhile, though. (Becomes pale)
SARA: Wait for what?
SIMSON: Mr. Vogler may want me for something, I think . . .
SARA: How pale you look all of a sudden. What's wrong? SIMSON: I just remembered that the
medicine can have very different effects on different people. For example, some men turn into raging
lions. It's happened that I've almost ripped my women apart. SARA (attracted): How terrible! SIMSON: I'm
afraid of hurting you, dear Sara.
SARA: Oh, I'll stay in one piece.
SIMSON: It works differently, as I said. One can also become nauseous. I've heard of people who died.
SARA: And I think that Mrs. Venus Aphrodite has just touched me in the right way. (Giggles)
SIMSON: Yes, that's possible. But I'm much more sensitive.
SARA: Come now and don't be silly. (In giggling whispers) I won't eat you, little Simson.
She takes him by the hand and runs out. They can be seen for a moment in the yard. Sara's light-
colored dress is silhouetted against the coach, which stands high and dark in the twilight. Antonsson sits
immobile, raises his head and looks at poor Rustan, who, half dazed, has crouched on the stool near the
ANTONSSON: Drink something and you'll feel better.
RUSTAN: Just think! He just walked off with her. And she's always
been so standoffish.
Sanna has her own little room under the big stairs. A triangular
window looks out on the garden. The girl has crept into her narrow
bed. Grandmother, who has followed her into the room, searches in
her black bag. Finally she comes up with something which gleams
faintly in the night light. She tiptoes up to Sanna and lays the object
on the girl's breast. It is an ornament shaped like an ear. In the ear is
a ring and a sparkling stone. Attached to the ring is a thin gold chain.
GRANDMOTHER: Hush, hush. You shouldn't be sad, little ant. You'll
soon be in the game. First Grandmother gives you a gift to
console you. Hush, hush. Now I'll sit here and sing to you so that
you'll fall asleep.
SANNA: Is it an ear?
GRANDMOTHER: It's an ear. And if you whisper your wishes into
this ear, you'll get what you ask for. But only on one condition.
SANNA: What kind of condition?
GRANDMOTHER: You can only wish for things that live, are living, or
can become alive.
SANNA: I don't understand what you mean.
GRANDMOTHER: No, not now, but it doesn't matter. Hush, hush,
little nose, I'm going to sing for you. What do you want to hear?
I know all kinds of songs, you know.
SANNA: Nothing scary.
A soldier with his rifle did stand
While the enemy fought his fatherland,
And dreamed of his lass while he followed command.
The sun was hot and the wind was cold,
The weary soldier marched so bold;
From the wood the screaming enemy came
And the soldier fought on murmuring her name.
The soldiers battled hand to hand,
And every foray he did withstand.
The blood ran in the bayonets' flash
And many brave men died in that clash.
And under the mountain sank the sun,
Covered by night the foe did run.
The soldier rejoiced that the battle had ceased
As his comrades prepared for the victory feast.
But our soldier sat to the side
And wrote a letter of love to his bride:
"I felt your thoughts of me through the strife;
It is this which surely spared my life.
And now I stand on watch this night,
Knowing that your love has heavenly might."
SANNA (sighs): That was a beautiful song and now I feel much better,
GRANDMOTHER: There is one stanza left. Love is trust and love is
rest, Love gives strength to the cowardly breast;
Love is one and never two, Love is for every lover new.
GRANDMOTHER (whispers): Did you hear, little ant?
SANNA: Now I'm almost asleep.
GRANDMOTHER: Yes, yes. (Mumbles incomprehensible words)
Suddenly the room is filled by a white light which disappears
almost immediately. Sanna reawakens.
SANNA: Now it will thunder. GRANDMOTHER
SANNA: I'm not afraid of thunder. (Sleeps)
Grandmother listens tensely for something else, something which
had sounded frightening in the stillness.
She patters noiselessly out into the large hallway. The door to the
courtyard stands ajar, but the lamp over the portal has gone out. She
stands, a small figure in the grayish light, listening tensely. Now there is
a soundless flash; Grandmother waits, immobile and expectant. She
hears a moaning nearby, a few shuffling footsteps and then silence
GRANDMOTHER (mumbles): "He calls you down, he calls you out,
beyond the dead, the living, the living dead, beyond the raised hands."
She moistens her finger, scribbles a sign on the wall and starts
upstairs, a gray shadow without substance in the immobile gray light.
Next to the laundry with its large vats and smell of cellar dampness is
the ironing room. A mangle stands in the center of the floor, bulging and
monstrous. A huge wash-basket lies nearby, filled with fresh-smelling,
newly washed clothes. There is also a box of old winter apples in a cor-
ner, and in the narrow, high-ceilinged window is a bird's nest.
SIMSON: It's very hot in here.
SARA: Doesn't it smell nice? It's the newly ironed linen with its
lavender scent from the linen closet, and the winter apples in a box over
there. In the window is a bird's nest. SIMSON: It's still damned warm,
SARA: You're trembling. SIMSON: It's so hot.
SARA: Then take off your coat.
Sara giggles and disappears into the darkness. Then she pushes
open the door to the courtyard. Just then the third flash comes, this
time followed by a faint clap of thunder.
SIMSON: Close the door.
SARA: No, I want to see you.
SIMSON: I've lost a shoe.
Sara giggles, then becomes serious. Simson searches around in the
SARA (standing quietly at the door): I can see that Rustan and
Antonsson are still sitting in the kitchen. And there is a light in the guest
room where Mr. Aman and Mr. Vogler are staying.
SARA: Where are you? I can't see you.
SIMSON: In the washbasket. Where you said we should be.
Simson has sat in the huge washbasket and made himself comfortable.
Sara jumps in with him.
SIMSON: Of course it would be easy for me to seduce you, little Sara.
SARA: Do you think so?
SIMSON: I'm quite sure. But one becomes older with the years and
more considerate, if you know what I mean.
SARA: If I try very hard, I think I might understand.
SIMSON: One learns not to trample on things just like that. Not to pick
every flower by the side of the road.
SARA: Well, you can at least smell it. SIMSON: I merely lean over the
fragile petals and then go my way.
SARA: Why do you talk so much?
Now there is another flash of lightning, but this time the thunder
comes faster and louder.
SARA: Oh, I'm afraid of thunder.
She puts her arms around Simson's neck and moans.
SIMSON: Just be calm. You have me.
SARA: It's very, very calming.
SARA (whispers): What!
SIMSON: The love potion.
SARA: Do you feel it very strongly?
SIMSON: Oh, yes! I'm perspiring like a camel.
Lightning and soft thunder in the distance.
SARA: Now it's thundering again. Hold me tight.
SIMSON: There's a hard knot!
SARA: I'll help you. No, don't look.
SIMSON: Oh, should that button be unbuttoned? This is very difficult.
The cloth rustles and the basket squeaks. Flashes of smiles and heavy breathing. Two tender
SARA: You don't seem very experienced, dear Simson.
SIMSON: I've been abroad most of the time, you know.
SARA (laughs): Oh, I have to laugh.
SIMSON: Why are you laughing?
SARA: Now Mrs. Venus Aphrodite touches me with her finger tips. Isn't it true? Wasn't it so?
SIMSON: Hush, hush.
They fail to see a pale figure staggering around in the courtyard, nor do they hear a dull
groaning which seems to come from purgatory.
The large basket squeaks in an unaccustomed manner. The lamps flicker in the kitchen. Uneasy
shadows rebound off the walls and the utensils. Rustan leans against
the water barrel, gripped by the double pain of a stomachache and
Antonsson pours some brandy.
ANTONSSON: That man Vogler.
RUSTAN: His kind ought to be flogged. There's something
special about swindlers. One is provoked by their faces.
RUSTAN: Exactly. Seeing a face like Vogler's makes me
furious. It makes me want to hit him.
ANTONSSON: Vogler's face?
RUSTAN: There is something special about those faces. Do you
understand what I mean, Antonsson? One ought to trample them.
Faces like Vogler's and Aman's and the old woman's . . .
Rustan emits a cry of horror and tumbles backward as he tries to
get up. The water barrel collapses and a flood bursts over the floor.
Antonsson reaches out with his arms in a sudden movement but
doesn't have time to rise. The door has been thrown open, the lamp is
blown out by the sudden draft, and a huge, flickering figure with
inhuman features fills the whole room for a moment. An ax lands in
the table with a dull thud next to Antonsson's shoulder. Rustan howls
like a lunatic and throws himself on the floor.
The giant figure vanishes as fast as it appeared. After a few
moments of dumb-horror, Antonsson manages to light a candle.
Rustan sits in a lake. His eyes are glassy with fear. Antonsson
takes hold of the ax and rushes out into the hallway, but it is empty.
RUSTAN: A ghost.
ANTONSSON: Or the devil himself.
RUSTAN: Where is the brandy?
ANTONSSON: Where is the brandy?
RUSTAN: The jug is gone.
ANTONSSON: On the floor?
RUSTAN: The ghost took the brandy!
The large hall is a rectangular room on the second floor with a
rather low ceiling, paneled in dark maple and painted lintels. The
windows face the street. On the opposite wall hang family portraits, a
long row of warriors, bishops, officials, matrons and merchants. The
floor is covered with an expensive parquet, and from the ceiling
hangs a heavy, ancient chandelier. A few candles burn, but they light
up the large room only partially.
Vogler and Aman are busy setting up the next day's performance.
Grandmother patters in and sits down on a long black casket.
GRANDMOTHER: What are you doing?
AMAN: We're preparing for tomorrow morning's performance.
GRANDMOTHER: One sees what one sees and one knows what one
knows. It doesn't smell good in here. Today smells sour, but
tomorrow smells rotten, and then it's best to withdraw.
AMAN: We still can't escape from here.
GRANDMOTHER: Well, someone will be killed, maybe you, maybe
She clutches her black bag to her and looks scornful.
AMAN: Don't sit there cackling.
GRANDMOTHER: Albert is an idiot, and you, poor child, behave
like a fool, despite your good sense. No one listens to Grandmother.
The old lady disappears, swallowed up by the darkness.
Aman looks after her, but returns to work. They have unpacked
part of their apparatus and stood up several simple sets and screens.
On the room's short wall hangs a dark drapery, painted with
astrological signs. The whole thing has a shabby look, even in the
Occasionally during the following scene a flashing light suddenly
fills the room—the thunderstorm of the summer night.
A door is opened and Mrs. Ottilia Egerman comes in carrying a
lamp. Through the door Egerman, Vergerus and Starbeck can be
seen at the supper table.
Mrs. Egerman closes the door, stops, somewhat bewildered, and
puts the lamp down on the table.
OTTILIA: I hope they gave you a good meal in the kitchen.
(Pause) I thought that you might need a little more light.
She remains standing and looks steadily at Vogler. Aman stops
working and turns to him.
AMAN: I'm going to unpack in the guest room.
Aman takes his coat and departs. Vogler is now preoccupied with
a small square tin box in which a lamp is mounted. Suddenly a
leering face flashes onto one of the screens.
The picture is transformed, becomes romantic.
OTTILIA: How beautiful.
The picture wavers and disappears, and the strange leering face
OTTILIA (suddenly): Perhaps you wonder why I'm dressed in
black, Mr. Vogler. My daughter died last spring.
Vogler leans over the magic lantern. A tiny coil of smoke rises
from the funnel on the tin box.
OTTILIA: Mr. Vogler!
Vogler rises and stands, listening respectfully. Mrs. Egerman
takes a step.
OTTILIA: You must forgive those people. I mean, for humil-
iating you. They cannot understand you, and that's why they hate
Vogler is silent.
OTTILIA: I understand you!
She takes still another step toward him.
OTTILIA: Who are you, really?
Neither Vogler nor Mrs. Egerman sees that a door has been
opened behind the drapery. On the thin cloth a rectangle of light
and a shadow suddenly appear. Then the light moves, the
shadow dances away. It becomes dark again, but a .hand
carefully lifts up a corner of the cloth and a face becomes visible.
It is Mr. Egerman, listening to his wife.
OTTILIA: I recognized you immediately when I saw you. I
became terribly excited. Pardon me for being so frank. But I
almost never speak.
She presses her hand against her mouth, and tears
stream from her eyes. She turns away for a moment, but
continues to speak.
OTTILIA: No, I shouldn't cry. We haven't got time for tears.
I have longed for you. My thoughts have been with you
perpetually. I have lived your life! Yet I saw you for the first
time today. (Smiles)
Vogler remains immobile. Mrs. Egerman puts her hand on
his. Now she stands quite close and speaks in a barely audible
OTTILIA: Perhaps you're laughing at me silently. It doesn't
matter. My love is strong enough for both of us.
Mrs. Egerman sighs heavily and presses Vogler's hand
against her heart.
OTTILIA: Now I understand why you have come. Feel how
my heart beats.
Vogler looks at her.
OTTILIA (strongly): You will explain why my child died.
What God meant. That's why you have come. To soothe my
sorrow and lift the burden from my shoulders.
She sinks down on a chair and covers her face with her hands.
Vogler sits silently on the black casket. He lowers his head and
looks at his hands. Then he clenches his fist so that his nails
puncture his skin and drops of blood emerge.
OTTILIA: My poor husband doesn't know anything. How
could he understand!
Her agony mounts while she enjoys the sweetness of betrayal.
OTTILIA: Isn't it terribly warm tonight? It has been an oppressing
day. I felt such pain.
She leans toward Vogler and whispers breathlessly but without
looking at him.
OTTILIA: My husband will go to bed in about an hour. He sleeps
very heavily and I gave him a sleeping potion in his last drink. You'll
come to me at two o'clock. I sleep on the other side of the corridor,
opposite the guest rooms.
She gets up and is just about to go, but stops. She falls on her knees
and presses her mouth against Vogler's hand.
OTTILIA: Let me kiss your hands. No, I want to. Just be still. Oh!
You've hurt yourself!
She rises, staggering.
OTTILIA: My husband and I have had separate bedrooms ever
since our daughter died.
The drapery moves slightly as Mrs. Egerman disappears through
the door. Vogler remains seated on the casket, staring at his hand. The
magic lantern flickers and smokes, and the twisted face still shimmers
on the screen.
Suddenly a shape frees itself from the room's forest of shadows. It
is the actor Johan Spegel, who stands there swaying with Antonsson's
brandy jug under his arm.
SPEGEL: I haven't died, but I have already started to haunt.
Actually, I think that I'm a better ghost than I am a human being. I
have become convincing. I never was, as an actor.
He holds out his hand against the beam of light from the magic
lantern. It forms a shadow on the screen.
SPEGEL: A shadow of a shadow. (To Vogler) Don't worry about
me, sir. I am already in a state of decomposition.
He disappears among the shadows as silently as he came. Vogler
takes a few quick steps to follow him. They meet behind the screen
where the shadows are deepest, close to the drapery with its zodiac
and secret signs. Spegel's face is turned toward the darkness.
SPEGEL: I have prayed just one prayer in my life. Use me. Handle
me. But God never understood what a strong and devoted slave I had
become. So I had to go unused. (Pause) Incidentally, that is also a lie.
(Pause) One walks step by step into the darkness. The motion itself is
the only truth.
He suddenly sways and comes out on the other side of the screen.
For a moment his shadow hovers giant-like. Then he collapses against
the black casket. It is a hard, numbing fall.
SPEGEL: When I thought that I was dead, I was tormented by
horrible dreams . . .
Vogler opens the lid and lets the lifeless body glide down into the
box. The false bottom opens like dark water and swallows up the dead
man. Vogler then begins to extinguish the lights of the chandelier and
the magic lantern.
Egerman returns to the supper table which is set in the dining
room, a smaller room on the second floor. Vergerus and Starbeck
have lingered over the excellent cognac of the Egerman house.
STARBECK (to Egerman): You're a little pale, I think. Have you
seen a ghost?
EGERMAN: I'm only somewhat tired.
VERGERUS: Of course. I wish you a good night. My best to
EGERMAN: Can you find the way to your room?
VERGERUS: This is not the first time that I have the pleasure
and honor of being a guest in your house.
Starbeck remains at the table, intoxicated, his eyes watery and his
face slack. His sneering expression has disappeared and been
replaced by a kind of bloated stupidity.
STARBECK: Egerman, come and sit down. Let's have another
EGERMAN: Just what I was thinking.
STARBECK: The only thing to do when the chief of police gives
an order is to obey.
The three guest rooms are in a row along a narrow corridor which
in its turn leads to the large staircase. Just as Vergerus is about to
walk into his room, he discovers that one of the other doors is ajar.
He tiptoes up to the beam of light and stops, hidden by the darkness
of the corridor.
Aman, Vogler's assistant, is inside but very changed. Dressed in a
stay and a long petticoat, she walks around the room as if awaiting
someone. Now and then she stops and listens.
Vergerus puts his cane against the door and lets it slide open. The
woman turns to him.
VERGERUS: What a strange magnetic miracle. Dr. Vogler's
talents have my greatest esteem.
MANDA: I am his wife.
VERGERUS: And why this masquerade?
MANDA: We are wanted by the police and have to disguise
ourselves so as not to be recognized.
VERGERUS: Why don't you leave the whole business?
MANDA: Where should I go?
VERGERUS: Let me tell you a secret. Throughout this whole
evening I have been struggling with a strange feeling of sympathy
for you and your husband.
MANDA: That doesn't seem likely.
VERGERUS: When you first came into the room, I immediately
liked you. Your face, your silence, your natural dignity. This bias on
my part is very deplorable and I wouldn't be telling you if I weren't
MANDA: If you feel like that you should leave us in peace.
VERGERUS: I can't do that.
VERGERUS: Because you represent something which I most
Manda looks questioningly at him.
VERGERUS: The unexplainable.
MANDA: Then you can immediately stop your persecution, Mr.
Vergerus, because our activities are a fraud from beginning to end.
VERGERUS: A fraud?
MANDA: Pretense, false promises, and double bottoms.
Miserable, rotten lies throughout. We are the most ridiculous
scoundrels you can find.
VERGERUS: Is your husband of the same opinion?
MANDA: He doesn't speak.
VERGERUS: Is that true?
MANDA: Nothing is true!
This comes in a sudden, suppressed outburst. She quickly gains
control of herself and strokes her face with
her hands. Vergerus looks at her. He is inwardly excited, but his
face remains calm.
VERGERUS: Your husband has no secret power. No, perhaps
not. I remained uninfluenced at his first attempt. I just felt a certain
cold excitement. He failed.
MANDA: It is meaningless.
VERGERUS: So I ought to feel at ease.
MANDA: Yes, of course, feel at ease. We can prove our inability
as many times as you like.
VERGERUS: It seems to me that you regret this fact. (Manda is
silent) As if you wished for something else. (Manda doesn't answer.
Vergerus laughs) But miracles don't happen. It's always the
apparatus and the spiel which have to do the work. The clergy have
the same sad experience. God is silent and people chatter.
MANDA: If just once . . .
VERGERUS: That's what they all say. If just once. For the
faithless, but above all for the faithful. If just once.
MANDA: If just once—that's true.
VERGERUS: You say that you are afraid.
VERGERUS: Of me too?
MANDA: Of you especially.
VERGERUS: That is flattering.
MANDA: One can tolerate your voice and your sharp mind.
VERGERUS: But what are you afraid of then?
MANDA: Your sympathy, your smile.
Vergerus laughs. It almost sounds like a coughing attack. He
takes .off his glasses and looks at them nearsightedly.
VERGERUS: You are probably the only sensible person in the
troupe. Why do you continue on a road which can only
lead to disgrace and prison? (Manda doesn't answer) Has it
always been this way?
VERGERUS: Perhaps you believed once?
Manda nods silently.
VERGERUS: Because you felt you were useful and your activity
MANDA: That was a long time ago.
VERGERUS: Why don't you stop while you still have time,
MANDA: It's useless.
VERGERUS: You mean that your husband . . .
MANDA: I mean that it's useless. There is no way back or
to the side. (Quietly) Not for us.
VERGERUS: In spite of this, I have a proposition. When you tire
of your magnets, you can look me up. I promise to help you in one
way or another.
MANDA: And my husband?
Vergerus shrugs his shoulders.
MANDA: I am very grateful.
They turn around. Vogler stands in the doorway.
VERGERUS: I'll go at once.
He takes his cane and walks past Vogler into the corridor, then
stops and smiles.
VERGERUS: One last question. Can we expect any more
exposes, or has Dr. Vogler's magnetic theater exhausted its
Vogler suddenly puts his palm against Vergerus' chest and turns him
around into the room. He gives him a strong push so that he tumbles
backward and lands on the bed. Then Vogler closes the door and takes a
step forward. Vergerus reaches for his cane, but Vogler is faster. He
takes it in his hands, breaks it across his knee and throws the pieces at
MANDA (demanding): Don't touch him.
Furious and breathless, Vogler stares at Vergerus, who gets up from
VERGERUS: You pay me altogether too much honor, Mr.
Vogler. Your wife's faithfulness borders on madness.
MANDA: Go now, for God's sake!
VERGERUS: You think that your husband wants to kill me.
Do you want to kill me, Mr. Vogler?
MANDA: Just go!
VERGERUS: Do you hate me? And I like you. This is really quite
MANDA: Won't you please go?
VERGERUS: I shall go. (Bows) Good night, Madame. (To Vogler)
Good night, Mr.—Doctor!
Vogler slams the door behind him, paces the room like a caged
animal, stops, leans against the wall, bangs the back of his head several
times against the doorpost. Manda leaves him alone and sits motionlessly
with her face turned away.
Eventually the attack is over, the tension eases. Vogler becomes calm.
Manda begins to undress. Vogler sits down at the mirror and carefully
loosens his beard, his eyebrows and his wig. When Manda has put on her
nightgown, she walks up to
Vogler and stands behind him, looks into the mirror. He sits,
shrunken, with a naked, blank face.
MANDA: Do you remember that summer in Lyon when we earned
lots of money, bought a country house and intended to stop traveling?
(Vogler nods) Then we sold the farm and bought the coach and the
horses. In Kiel we sold all my jewelry and nearly all our clothes. You
said that it would be practical for me to dress in man's clothes. No one
would recognize us. And it would be warmer too. You also began to act
VOGLER: It was Tubal who—
MANDA: Do you remember the Grand Duke at the court of Koten
who became so infatuated with me that he promised to recommend us to
His Majesty the King of Sweden? You thought that I had betrayed you
and gave the duke a whipping. (Vogler nods) Then we had to sit in jail
for two months before the duke forgave us. He was very magnani mous
and promised to recommend us to the Swedish Court anyway. Do you
think that he did? (Vogler shakes his head) Neither do I. Do you
remember when the Catholics engaged us to perform miracles in
Ascona? We invented seven new miracles and cured pilgrims for three
weeks. When Tubal came with the bill, the priest called us heretics and
threatened us with damnation, banishment and eternal persecution.
Manda walks over to the bed. Vogler puts on his nightshirt and lie?
down at her side. She blows out the candle on the night tablft. There is
a long silence.
VOGLER: 1 hate them. I hate their faces, their bodies, their
movements, their voices. But I am also afraid. Then I become
Manda turns her head toward him.
VOGLER: I want to shout at them, or beat them, or beseech them.
But nothing helps. It's only empty and silent.
MANDA: And if I leave you?
VOGLER (without bitterness): Indeed.
MANDA: The time when we really believed that we healed
people. That there was some meaning in it.
VOGLER: Then Tubal came. And we earned money.
MANDA: Then Tubal came. People started to laugh at us.
Found us suspicious. (Pause) As swindlers we were not very
successful. There were others more skillful. (Pause)
Are you asleep?
Vogler rises on one elbow and leans over his wife.
VOGLER (furious): Listen, I know all that. And I've heard it before.
But I'm tired of your damn complaints. Go your own way, if you want
to. It doesn't matter anyhow.
MANDA (calmly): Albert Emanuel Vogler!
Vogler presses his head against her shoulder. She turns her head
toward the window.
Mrs. Egerman has lain down on top of the bed. The curtains sway
slightly in the night breeze. A church clock somewhere strikes two.
The clock on the writing desk echoes it with a light chime. A night
lamp gives off a soft light. The door opens slowly and the lamp
flickers. Someone enters the room soundlessly, but stops back in the
OTTILIA (whispers): So you came after all.
She rises on one elbow and offers her hand. The man approaches.
She sinks back on the pillows and closes her eyes. When a shadow
falls over her face, she looks up.
Husband and wife regard each other silently.
OTTILIA: What are you going to do?
EGERMAN: It depends.
OTTILIA: I'm not guilty. It was he who seduced me.
Egerman's face is suddenly twisted with rage.
OTTILIA: You intend to beat me.
EGERMAN: Yes, I do.
OTTILIA: You wouldn't dare . . .
He raises his hands to beat her, but stops. She looks at him with
OTTILIA: You don't dare beat me. You're a wretch.
Then he hits her. She falls back and brings her hand to her mouth.
Her lips widen, tears tremble in her eyelashes, a faint smile is on her
face. Egerman sits down on the bed heavily. He wipes his forehead
with a handkerchief.
OTTILIA: It's bleeding.
EGERMAN (heavily): Forgive me.
He gets up to go. She remains seated on the bed.
OTTILIA: No, don't go.
Egerman turns around.
OTTILIA: Stay with me . . .
Sunday morning at ten o'clock, Albert Emanuel Vogler displays his
Magnetic Health Theater in the large hall of the Egerman house. The
performance takes place in dazzling sunlight and in front of a carefully
Mrs. Egerman is sitting in a comfortable armchair. Consul
Egerman stands leaning against the back of her chair. Ottilia has a
small bruise at her temple.
Also present are the Royal Medical Counselor, Vergerus, who has
sat down in a shaft of light with his arms folded, the sun reflecting
from his thick glasses. On the other side of Mrs. Egerman sits the
wife of the police chief. She is a rosy matron with puffy, slack
features. The chief of police himself stands like a statue behind her
chair, fat but erect, with signs of last night's drinking bout still on his
face. At the door to the stairs, the servants are gathered: Sara, Sanna,
Rustan and Antonsson the coachman.
In front of the drapery with the astrological symbols, which looks
patched and worn in the sunlight, the mesmerizer Vogler and his
wife appear, dressed in fantastic costumes. Tubal talks incessantly,
like a barker at a carnival. Simson dives forward every so often from
behind the painted screens.
TUBAL: The power which flows from our magnets meets the
power which radiates from Mr. Vogler's aura, as we call it. At the
point of intersection between these twin forces, that of nature and the
ego, Mr. Vogler's assistant will float free in the air.
In the meantime, Manda lies down on a platform which is
supported by four swaying legs. Tubal covers her with a dusty,
stained cloth. Vogler strikes a pose of concentration. He wrinkles his
forehead, covers his face with his hands, stretches out his arms as if
in benediction and lowers his head.
TUBAL: At this moment Mr. Vogler is reaching back through
thousands of years, searching for the fundamental power which the
sages once used for the benefit of man-
kind. Silence, ladies and gentlemen! Your serious attention is
He gestures dramatically for silence. Sofia Garp quivers
secretly and clenches her hands.
Sanna starts to cry, but Sara reaches out a hand and pulls her
TUBAL: It has happened that Mr. Vogler's assistant fell on the
floor. Once—it was before the Duke of Naples—he was hurt very
Tubal breathes deeply and looks around. Vogler seems to be at the
climax of his concentration. Tubal leans forward and carefully
loosens the platform from under Manda's body. With a magicianlike
sweep of his hand, Vogler pulls away the black cover and for a
moment it seems to the audience as if Manda is floating in the air.
Then Starbeck leans forward and with his cane pushes away the
nearest screen. It swings aside on its hinges and reveals Simson,
perspiring and red-faced, energetically counter-balancing four black
ropes which are in turn affixed to a narrow black board on which
Manda rests. When Simson sees himself exposed, he is so
bewildered that he releases the ropes.
Manda falls to the floor and the audience bursts into ringing
laughter. Tubal bows deeply and holds up his hand, demanding
TUBAL: Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for your applause
and we hope that our small tricks really please you. We are now
going to show you something far more fabulous. A performance
which has attained world fame, in which the strange powers of Mr.
Vogler and his assistant give even more tangible proof of the
diabolical aspects of our world order.
He points with his forefinger toward the audience.
TUBAL: Will one of the ladies present step forward? A woman
of pure heart and beautiful thoughts?
Mrs. Starbeck rushes forward with a loud laugh. She curtsies
deeply to Tubal and Vogler. The chief of police reaches out his hand
after her, but it is already too late.
Tubal brings forward a strangely carved armchair and asks Mrs.
Starbeck to be seated. Then he fastens a couple of magnets to her
wrists. Mrs. Starbeck finds it all very funny and giggles
continuously. But her husband is not amused. The other spectators
encourage her with shouts.
TUBAL: This is the moment of absolute truth. Through the
magnet's powers Mrs. Starbeck is freed from all pretense and each
word she says will be the purest truth.
Vogler has sat down on Mrs. Starbeck's right and Manda on her
left. The mesmerizer touches her very lightly with his finger tips.
Mrs. Starbeck is still giggling.
MANDA: Mrs. Starbeck, how much pin money does your
husband give you?
STARBECK (furious): I protest against this prank.
VERGERUS: Just a moment, sir. Don't forget that you are
sacrificing yourself for science. (Laughs)
MANDA: When did you get married, Mrs. Starbeck?
MRS. STARBECK: I'm not married. (Giggles) Oh, no, how
terrible. I'm much too young!
MANDA: Aren't you married to Mr. Starbeck?
MRS. STARBECK (laughs): Mr. Starbeck is a carrot.
STARBECK: Stop this disgraceful performance!
MRS. STARBECK: Every Saturday Mr. Starbeck goes to a
whorehouse. He eats like a pig and farts at the table.
STARBECK: Don't you hear me! (To Vogler) Stop her! (To
Manda) Stop her!
MRS. STARBECK: Mr. Starbeck wears a wig. Mr. Starbeck
stinks. Mr. Starbeck is unsavory.
STARBECK: At least think of our poor children!
MRS. STARBECK (giggles): I have often wondered how many of
them are really Starbeck's. Although a few of them are both ugly and
stupid. Mr. Starbeck is a pig!
Suddenly Mrs. Starbeck stops laughing and looks around wide-
eyed. A blush mounts in her fat face and her mouth begins to
MRS. STARBECK (seriously): I have to go home at once. I have a
roast in the oven. No, please remain, dear Starbeck. You really need
a little diversion.
She shakes her fat shoulders lightly as if she were cold, walks
backs to her chair with dignity and picks up her wrap.
MRS. STARBECK: I haven't said anything silly, have I? (Laughs)
Just think how amazing these tricks are. Goodbye, Starbeck. You'll
be home for dinner, I suppose. No, no, my friend, I'm not
revengeful. You mustn't think that!
She giggles and curtsies quickly to those present. Vergerus bows
deeply and Egerman follows her to the door.
Starbeck stares straight ahead with a fixed expression of fury.
TUBAL: Our last number is called "The Invisible Chain." Will
one of the gentlemen step up? The stronger the better. Step up, you
Goliath, wherever you are!
ANTONSSON: I don't want to, sir.
EGERMAN: That's an order.
Antonsson walks up to Vogler sulkily. Tubal pats him on the
shoulder and makes cheery, pacifying noises.
TUBAL: Bravo, my good man. Nothing dangerous, nothing painful.
Just breathe calmly. Ladies and gentlemen, Antonsson is a brute! But
his physical strength is small compared to Mr. Vogler's spiritual power!
Assistant, will you tie this man with "The Invisible Chains"?
Manda pretends to lift heavy chains from a table and to fetter
Antonsson, both at his hands and feet. Vogler has sat down. He doesn't
even look at Antonsson, who stands quiet and witless, with head bowed.
MANDA: Your hands are chained together and your feet are also
linked. The chain is fastened to the wall.
Antonsson looks at Manda. Then he turns his glance toward Vogler.
The hall is filled with a tense, almost frightened silence. Antonsson lifts
his hands and tries to jerk them apart but fails, then tries again. His face
turns pale, he pants with effort and his mouth becomes a gaping hole.
He takes a few steps, but the invisible chains stop him and he collapses
on the floor. He writhes about, he thrashes, he tenses himself like a
bow. Then he raises his arms like clubs and rushes at Vogler to crush
him but is pulled back by the chain which binds him to the wall. Foam
forms around his mouth and his eyes become bloodshot.
After a few minutes of fruitless struggle, he sags to the floor like a
slaughtered animal, stretches his neck and bends his head backward. He
is immobile and gasping; his eyes bulge widely. Vogler sits quite still
seems almost absent. The audience stares quietly, fascinated by the
horrible show. Vogler lifts his head and looks at the clock on the wall.
The minute hand points at six and the hour hand is between ten and
eleven. The sunlight is dazzling against the whiteness of the curtains.
Finally the clock strikes a light ringing tone. Antonsson loosens his
fetters and lies still. Vogler leans over him. Then Antonsson raises his
hands imploringly. Vogler does not pull away, but leans still closer.
Suddenly Antonsson's hands close around Vogler's neck and quick as
lightning he drags him down. Vogler tries to free himself but fails. Be-
fore anyone has time to take a step or make a move, Vogler lies
motionless. With ponderous speed Antonsson jumps up and rushes out
the door. Mrs. Egerman screams and falls unconscious. That is the
signal for general turmoil. Vergerus and Egerman carry Mrs. Egerman
from the room. Sofia takes a firm grip on Sanna and pushes her out on
the stairway. Starbeck shouts to Rustan that he should follow the mur-
derer, but Rustan is hesitant. Within a few moments the room is empty.
After about five minutes, Egerman, Vergerus and Star-beck return to
the hall. Rustan is posted at the door, still pale and trembling.
Starbeck sits down at the table. The medical counselor makes a quick
examination of the dead man, who lies on the floor where he has fallen.
Tubal sits panting on the long, black casket, which stands at the wall.
Simson sniffs sadly in a corner and Manda sits on the floor at Vogler's
VERGERUS: There is no doubt that the man is dead.
He throws a cloth over Vogler's body and turns toward Starbeck,
who, with an important air, writes something on a paper.
STARBECK: In my report I intend to present Antonsson's
responsibility for what has occurred as none at all or almost
negligible. Nor can any penalty be expected since no person related
to Mr. Vogler has pressed charges. If, contrary to all expectations,
this should be the case, the matter will be carefully examined and
special measures will be taken to investigate the debts which Vogler
has accrued during his activities. Claims which may amount to con-
siderable sums. Are there any objections from anyone?
No one answers.
STARBECK: If no one finds reason to challenge the
aforementioned report, the case will be closed.
TUBAL: What does that mean, if I may ask?
STARBECK: That means that you can go to hell, if it amuses
you, Mr. Tubal.
TUBAL: I thank you for the advice, sir. What happens to Vogler?
STARBECK: Pursuant to the ordinance about autopsies in
private and public places, the aforementioned Albert Emanuel
Vogler will in due order be dissected in accordance with the decision
of the medical counselor, Anders Vergerus, and the chief of police,
Frans Starbeck. The autopsy will be performed immediately at the
expense of the municipal authorities, for scientific purposes. TUBAL
(bows): We are very grateful.
STARBECK: I thought so.
Tubal bows again.
STARBECK: Then it's time to carry Mr. Vogler up to the attic,
where the autopsy will take place. For scientific reasons, the medical
counselor wants to examine the cadaver as soon as possible.
TUBAL: Just like at executions?
STARBECK (smiling): Perhaps. We can carry him in that black
casket on which you are sitting, Mr. Tubal.
Starbeck gets up and collects his papers. Then he walks over to
STARBECK: If you expect to have financial difficulties,
Mrs. Vogler, I can recommend an excellent "house" on
Luntmakare Street where I have some influence.
MANDA: I'm grateful for your consideration.
STARBECK: My wife has rather strange moods, don't you think?
He turns his back to her. In the meantime, Tubal and Simson have
placed Vogler's body in the black casket.
There is something ominous in the afternoon silence, in the
sunlight and the ticking of the clocks. It is good to be in the kitchen
with Sofia. She sits at the table and holds a guitar in her arms. Tubal
has sat down next to her.
A little to the side, but still close by, Sara and Simson are huddled
together. At the other corner of the table sit Rustan and Sanna.
RUSTAN (whispers): . . . and then we had to carry the casket up to
the attic. And then the medical counselor came with the police chief
and lifted up Vogler's body on a large table and began undressing it.
SARA (whispers): What are they really going to do? SIMSON: Cut up
the body and pick out all the guts, saw off the head and peek into the
brain. And the blood gushes and gushes.
SARA: Just imagine if he should awaken and get up while under
the knife and get down from the table and walk-downstairs. Just
think if he came in here and looked at us with bloody eye sockets.
SANNA: You shouldn't talk like that! (Begins to weep)
RUSTAN (shaken): Don't be afraid, Sanna. I'll protect you.
SOFIA: The best we can do is to sing a song about trust in the
TUBAL: You are so right, Sofia. What shall we sing?
Tubal's manner is fawning. Sofia gives him a thoughtful nod and
tunes her instrument. Then she begins to sing in a clear, firm voice.
Simson searches for Sara's hand, but she withdraws.
SIMSON: Have you changed your mind?
SARA: Changed my mind? I've never promised one thing or
SIMSON: I'll tell you one thing—last night you were hot on
SARA: Be quiet. Do you want to embarrass me? Last night
was last night and today is Sunday.
Sara looks at Rustan, who puts his arm around Sanna's shoulder.
Sanna leans trustfully against Rustan's narrow chest. Sara sighs
sentimentally. Simson is drooping. Tubal has his hands clasped over
his stomach and looks thoughtfully at the ceiling. Sofia interrupts
SOFIA: What are you staring at?
SOFIA: You. Is the ceiling dirty, or what's wrong with you?
Are you uneasy about something ... ?
TUBAL: Everything is in vain, Sofia. (He smiles wryly)
SOFIA: I mean now that your swindling days are over.
TUBAL: It's the Lord's will.
SOFIA: Don't talk rubbish, Tubal! You are caught, that's
the whole thing. The Lord has let Sofia arrest you.
TUBAL (frightened): Arrest!
SOFIA: Were you frightened? It's better to be caught by the
heavenly police than one of the worldly kind. TUBAL (carefully):
You say that, Sofia?
SOFIA: Tonight you'll come along to the parish and stand
TUBAL (even more carefully): Isn't that rather quick?
SOFIA: Come into my room, Tubal. We have to think about your
testimony. It ought to be private and soul-searching.
SOFIA: Well, how do you want it? (She gets up) TUBAL
(gives in): Yes, yes.
Sofia goes to her room and Tubal hurries after her. They lock the
door. Simson sighs. Sara rests her head in her hands. Sanna and
Rustan have closed their eyes and are not in this world.
The church bells announce that it is Sunday.
The attic is rather large and stretches over the entire house. The
mansard roof's beams shimmer in the dim light. The floor is made of
rough-hewn planks. Most of the space is taken up by furniture and
miscellaneous articles piled against the walls and roof. Chests,
chandeliers, old statues, paintings, books, toys. Leaning against a
tall floor clock stands a huge baroque mirror, which reflects and en-
larges the dimensions of the room. In the middle of the floor is a
simple wooden table. On the table lies a body covered by a sheet.
Under the table stands the large black casket in which the dead man
has been transported.
Vergerus and Starbeck stand leaning over a small writing desk
strewn with papers and pens. The sunlight streaming through the
attic window frames the two men and the autopsy table in a burning
white rectangle. Starbeck reads from a document, hurriedly and half-
aloud. He perspires
in the heat and wipes his forehead from time to time with a large handkerchief.
Vergerus listens thoughtfully.
STARBECK (reads): . . . and the undersigned has after the autopsy of the aforementioned
Vogler been unable to find any physiological peculiarities or abnormalities and must
therefore characterize the phenomena which have occurred involving the aforementioned
Vogler as incidental and therefore of no consequence and at any rate of such slight
importance that they hardly claim science's further attention. Stockholm, the fourteenth of
July, in the year 1846.
VERGERUS: That's all?
STARBECK: That's all.
VERGERUS: Thanks for all your help. I'll send you a copy of the report as soon as
I've completed the original.
STARBECK: Are you coming? I want to have your signature on my report.
VERGERUS: I'll see you tomorrow morning.
STARBECK: Good afternoon.
VERGERUS: Good afternoon.
During the conversation they have walked together down the attic stairs and now stand
in the hallway of the top floor. The doors to the large hall are still open.
Within, Manda can be seen packing the apparatus and props of the Vogler troupe.
When she hears the conversation, she listens intently for a moment but immediately
continues her work.
The gentlemen separate. Vergerus returns to the attic, while Starbeck continues on
downstairs and out into the courtyard.
The coach still stands there. On the footstep of the coachbox sits Grandmother,
perched like a black bird.
STARBECK (friendly): Well, what will become of old Granny now?
GRANDMOTHER: Small fat pigs shouldn't grunt too loud.
They might lose their hams.
STARBECK (slowly): I'm not resentful, but I have a good
memory, especially for faces.
GRANDMOTHER: "It was the first time the fly farted and
didn't lose its rump"—that's what my grandmother used to say.
STARBECK: You're impudent, old woman.
GRANDMOTHER: Your most humble servant.
STARBECK: Watch out! There are institutions and
establishments for such people as you and your rabble.
GRANDMOTHER: You can't be mean to a feeble-minded old
STARBECK: I only said that you should watch out.
GRANDMOTHER: Of course. Give my best to your wife, by
Starbeck intends to answer, but finds it wisest to swallow
his words. He turns and marches away, but suddenly stumbles.
His hat falls off, as well as his wig.
GRANDMOTHER: Oh my, I think he lost his head. (Cackles)
Starbeck looks at the old woman furiously. He steps quickly
into his carriage and departs.
Grandmother remains seated and giggles to herself. An
unusually large magpie comes flying down and lands in the
yard right in front of the coach. The old woman is annoyed
and spits carefully at the magpie, which ignores her and hops
up onto a shaft of the coach. Grandmother mumbles something
inaudible and crawls down to the ground. She patters quickly
across the yard, into the laundry, and closes the door. She
presses her black bag close to her body.
Suddenly she catches sight of something. It is Antonsson, who has
hanged himself in a dark corner.
The old woman stands for a moment and peeks fearlessly through
the doorway. Then she climbs up on a barrel, searches for
Antonsson's dagger and cuts him down.
Mrs. Egerman has gone to bed. Her face, swollen by the effects of
the emotional shock, is completely open, and defenseless. She has
placed one hand over her heart in a stiff, dramatic gesture. The
window is open on the summer afternoon and the thin curtains sway
in the breeze. To the left of her bed sits Consul Egerman with his
face in his hands. Long silence.
OTTILIA: Do you want to do me a favor?
Egerman looks up.
OTTILIA: Stop the clock, please.
OTTILIA: Do you hear how quiet it is?
EGERMAN: Yes, it's very quiet.
OTTILIA: What are they doing with him?
EGERMAN: Try to rest a bit.
OTTILIA: Why did you allow it to happen?
OTTILIA: Did you want revenge?
EGERMAN: I don't know what you're talking about. Vergerus
surprised me with his suggestion about immediate autopsy. I said
neither yes nor no.
OTTILIA: You wanted revenge.
EGERMAN: In that case, it's a strange kind of revenge.
OTTILIA: Yes, it's very strange.
EGERMAN: Revenge. (Quietly)
OTTILIA: I can't bear it any longer.
Ottilia's voice breaks in a convulsive sob. Then she lies still again
with her eyes closed.
Manda stands in the big hall, listening to the silence and the
ticking of the clocks. Then she steals quickly and cautiously out into
the hallway, pushes the attic dooi closed and soundlessly turns the
Vergerus is still up in the attic and does not react when the door is
shut. He sits bent over his papers, signing his name to the report with
a rasping goose quill. When he is about to put the pen back into the
inkwell, he stops.
A human eye stares at him from the top of the inkwell.
He is more surprised than frightened, and after a few moments'
hesitation he lifts up the inkwell containing the quivering thing.
At the same moment, the autopsy report falls to the floor. He puts
down the inkwell and tries to gather together his papers. Then the
clock behind the mirror begins to strike quickly and repeatedly, but
falls silent just as suddenly. Vergerus whispers something to himself,
tries to arrange the papers, squints at the page numbers. His right
hand holds the papers firmly, and his left hand rests on top of the
Another hand lays itself quietly over his left hand.
Vergerus looks long and thoughtfully at this strange phenomenon.
The hand which rests upon his own is cut off, amputated. He frees
himself carefully and rises.
VERGERUS (to himself): Very hot up here under the roof ... a
momentary nausea . . .
He walks down the small staircase to the attic door. It is locked.
He begins to perspire. He moves the door handle up and down,
but without effect. He stands there, thoughtful.
VERGERUS (mumbles): . . . some kind of tool . . .
The large baroque mirror shines dully in the dimness. He
approaches and meets his own image, strongly lit by the sunlight.
He strokes his hair and straightens his glasses, tries to focus his
image in the mirror, but sees something else deep in the room behind
him. It is a face, floating formlessly above the body of the dead man.
A glaring face, lit from inside, with pale, tense features and a look of
hatred. When he turns around, the vision disappears immediately. He
runs over to the dead man and rips away the sheet, but everything is
unchanged—dead and tangible.
VERGERUS: . . . just a momentary . . .
Then his glasses are ripped off and thrown into the darkness. He
cannot suppress a cry of pain, puts his hands over his face and steps
back. After several moments he has calmed down, removes his
hands and tries to orient himself with nearsighted glances.
VERGERUS: This is either a dream, or I'm going crazy. But it's
entirely out of the question that I'm losing my reason. I'll sit down
here and wait until I wake up.
The large clock behind the mirror has begun ticking slowly and
unevenly. The door to the pendulum opens on a dark emptiness.
Vergerus looks around with great curiosity.
VERGERUS: This is really very interesting . . .
He peers into the mirror. Once again he sees the face floating
behind him in the dim light. A hand stretches out suddenly toward
his neck, but he steps back and gasps for air. At the same moment, a
sharp report is heard and the mirror shatters into whirling slivers.
The face disappears immediately.
Vergerus staggers backward toward the table, holds his breath and
listens in the heavy silence. He hears someone breathing close to his
ear, then light, quick steps across the floorboards. It becomes quiet.
The silence is immense, overwhelming. He stands motionless and
tries to peer through the dimness.
VERGERUS: It is only the silence. And the face . . .
He takes several staggering steps away from the table. A hand
stretches out again from the darkness and touches his throat. Then
fear flares up in him, overpowering and irresistible. He runs toward
the staircase, stumbles on the top step, rolls down the stairs, throws
himself against the door, pounds and cries. Finally he sinks down
and crouches at the threshold like an animal.
Now he hears light steps behind him. An enormous, formless
shadow leans over him and again he sees the face, pale and hateful.
Again the hand approaches and touches his throat.
Then the door glides open. The first thing he sees is Mrs. Vogler,
who stands there half concealed by the doorpost.
MANDA: Let him alone.
She says this to Vogler, who is unmasked and dressed in the actor
Spegel's rags. He grasps Vergerus by the hair, turns his face toward
the light and looks at him closely.
VERGERUS: You only gave me a scare, a slight fear of death.
Nothing more. Nothing else.
MANDA: Leave him alone, I tell you.
Vogler releases him.
It has clouded and darkened. The rain returns, murmuring and
monotonous. Vogler and his wife begin to pack their apparatus and
the sets. They tear down screens and draperies, magnets and props.
Everything is packed into the large boxes.
MANDA: I'll get Tubal.
She leaves. Vogler continues the dismantling, kicks over a
support, stares in disgust at a box full of broken glass pictures,
throws them on the pile of torn and dented objects.
The rain beats against the windows and it is gray in the large hall.
In the kitchen, however, it is rather pleasant. Rustan and Simson
play cards. Sofia Garp peels potatoes into a large pot. Sanna and Sara
are busy at the stove and Tubal is sitting half asleep in the rocking
chair, minding the house cat. Everyone looks up when Manda opens
MANDA: Simson, will you go out and harness the horses? We are
leaving now. SIMSON: But I ...
MANDA: Do as I say.
Simson gets up sadly, his head hanging. Sara tries to pretend that
she's more interested in the roast in the oven than in Simson's
decision to obey.
MANDA: Will you be good enough to help us with the packing,
Sofia clears her throat.
TUBAL: I'm staying here. My road is another. (Sofia peels) One
should live for the hereafter, as Sofia says. For a higher goal, you
understand, more meaning and less apparatus.
He rocks cautiously in the chair, searching for words in a soft
voice as he continues to stroke the cat's back. Sofia peels her
potatoes without favoring him with a glance.
MANDA: Goodbye, Mr. Tubal, and good luck. (To Sofia) May I
congratulate you on your acquisition.
Sofia looks Manda up and down.
Vogler lifts one of the large boxes and carries it to the stairs. Mrs.
Egerman is just on her way up to the top floor and stops as if
petrified, staring with fright at this figure that she knows but does not
recognize. Behind her comes Egerman. He is about to say something
to his wife but his mouth remains open in amazement and fear. Long
VOGLER: May I ask for some money? (Pause) We have nothing,
not a shilling. We are destitute! You can at least give us something
for our performance this morning.
He sets the box down on the stairs and stretches out his hand
toward Mrs. Egerman, who backs away.
VOGLER: You stare at me as if you had never seen me! And yet
you thought we were "twin souls," Mrs. Egerman. You wanted me to
explain your life. Isn't that so?
OTTILIA (shakes her head): I have never seen you before.
I don't know you. Get out of here!
VOGLER: I was in disguise then. Does that make any differ-
ence? Mrs. Egerman, please ask your husband to help us.
We don't need very much.
OTTILIA (backs away): No, don't touch me.
She runs down the stairs and throws herself into her husband's
arms for protection. At this moment, Mr. Vergerus comes out on the
VOGLER: Mr. Vergerus! Please help me! Talk to your friend,
police chief Starbeck, so that we can leave the city. I promise that
we'll never come here again. I beg you. Help us!
VERGERUS: It would interest me to know whom I've actually
VOGLER: A poor actor who wished for nothing better than to be
dissected and scraped clean.
VERGERUS: And you lent him your face. Changed places on the
floor in the hall. You were never dead. Not even unconscious,
VOGLER (humble): It was a cheap trick.
VERGERUS: But you are nevertheless positive that you are the
VOGLER: I think so.
VERGERUS: Not the actor or any third or fourth person?
VOGLER: All right, you may scorn me, sir, but help me. You said
that you felt sympathy ...
VERGERUS: I liked his face more than I like yours. Go up and
get your false beard and your eyebrows and disguise yourself so that I
can recognize you. Then perhaps we can discuss your problems.
VOGLER: You are ungrateful, sir. Haven't I exerted myself beyond
my usual powers in order to give you an experience?
Vergerus pulls out a coin from his pocket and offers it to the
VERGERUS: It was a miserable performance, but of course you
must be paid.
He drops the coin at Vogler's feet, continues down the stairs and
walks up to Egerman.
VERGERUS: Look carefully at that beggar on the stairs and then
tell me if I haven't won our bet!
EGERMAN: You are right. I have lost.
Vogler rises and lifts up his box.
The rain pours over the yard. Simson has just harnessed the horses
and Manda comes out dragging several large bags.
Vogler hoists up his crate and places it under the coach box.
Manda steps into the coach and stops in surprise.
Grandmother has ripped up the padding inside the coach with a
knife and is busy pulling out many small leather bags which she
carefully places in the black sack she always carries. She is in a great
hurry and talks while she works.
GRANDMOTHER: What? No. I won't go along. You look at my bags
and then perhaps you wonder? Very well, look. It's six thousand
riksdalers which Granny has collected over the years and buried here
and there. Don't you believe me?
She opens one of the small bags and a pile of glistening gold coins
pours out into her hand. She holds them up to Manda.
GRANDMOTHER: Granny's medicines! People will pay anything for
love, didn't you know that, eh?
MANDA: And what are you going to do with all this money?
GRANDMOTHER: It doesn't concern you. But if you want to
know, I'm going to buy respectability with it. (Whispers) An
apothecary, for example. (Whispers) An apothecary for specialties.
She has gathered her bags and counted them. She nods to Manda
and opens up her large umbrella. She walks up to Vogler, who is just
about to leave the house.
GRANDMOTHER: Goodbye, Albert. I'm going now. You are stupid
and careless. I've always said that. One should know one's limits.
Tubal gets out of the rocking chair and goes over to the window.
Sara is already standing there. Both sigh, each in his own way.
TUBAL: Yes, now they go their way.
SARA (near tears): Yes, now he goes his way.
TUBAL: Without apparatus, without money, without Granny and
without Tubal. The troupe is going to hell.
SARA: Of course.
TUBAL: And the police will be after them before they can blink.
Oh, oh, it's lucky that I got away in time.
SARA (cries): I think so too.
TUBAL: "One should take care of one's lice so they don't catch
cold"—that's what my aunt said, and she was right.
Sara turns her head and looks toward the kitchen. Sanna and
Rustan stand behind the stove, thinking that no one can see them.
SARA (sad): Oh, dear mother! This is crazy.
TUBAL: Sofia says this world is vain. The devil knows, maybe it
was meant to be that way.
Sofia has finished her potato peeling. With her strong arms she
lifts the large kettle onto the stove and wipes her hands on her apron.
She throws a quick glance at the window and wipes her hands again,
SOFIA: Now the rabble are leaving. I won't miss them.
TUBAL: Nor I.
SARA: Nor I.
Sofia goes to the door of her room and turns around.
SOFIA: Come, Tubal.
TUBAL: Again, Sofia! I ...
Sofia looks at him.
TUBAL: I'm coming, Sofia. I'm coming.
The door closes. Sara looks around at Sanna and Rustan. The cat
meows. The rain streams down on the courtyard and against the
Simson climbs up into the coach box.
Vogler and Manda have stepped into the coach, which creaks and
Then Sara rushes out into the rain, jumps over a puddle and jerks
open the coach door. She stands there, soaked and beseeching.
SARA: Dear, kind people, may I come along? (Pause) I don't
know what's happened to me, but I've probably lost my mind.
(Pause) It must be the love potion. (Cries) Because I can't think the
way I decided I should think.
Simson sits up in the coach box like a wooden soldier and doesn't
dare look at Sara. The rain drips down from his big hat.
MANDA: Run and get your things. Hurry.
SARA (yells): Simson darling, I'm coming with you.
SIMSON (yells): I'll help you.
He jumps down from the box and rushes after the girl. The rain
bounces off the pavement, streams over the roof and the sides of the
coach, finds its way into cracks and holes, gushes across the floor,
runs down the padding and walls. Manda bites her knuckles. Vogler
sits reclined with closed eyes; he seems exhausted and indifferent.
MANDA: If we can only get out of the city, then we can escape.
Sit somewhere in a God-forsaken hole and invent new tricks. If we
can just get away.
She looks out. Sara and Simson are not to be seen.
Mrs. Egerman stands with a pale face in the bedroom window.
The figure of her husband appears dimly behind her.
In the staircase window, medical counselor Vergerus can be seen.
His expression is one of calm indifference.
Sanna and Rustan stand at the kitchen window in shimmering
In the cook's room are Tubal and Sofia. But they disappear after a
MANDA: Why don't they come? We have to get away. If we can
only get out of this town. Oh, it's too late. It's too late.
Now a loud noise is heard in the streets—the rattle of horses'
hoofs and the thunder of wagon wheels.
Three black carriages drive up and block the driveway. From two
of them pours a swift stream of uniforms. Suddenly the entire yard
is filled with police. Finally Frans Starbeck rolls up, dressed in
parade uniform and cape.
Sara and Simson come out on the stairs, but stop, petrified.
A uniformed man salutes Mr. Starbeck, who immediately walks
into the house. The coach door is pulled open and the uniformed
man gives a sign to Vogler and his wife to step out immediately.
Vogler wraps himself in an old blanket, because he is still dressed in
the actor's rags. Four policemen stand guard around the coach. Some
guard the driveway.
Two constables accompany Vogler and his wife up the stone
stairs to the top floor, followed by surprised and curious glances.
They enter the large hall.
A number of people have already gathered there. Mr. and Mrs.
Egerman, the chief of police, the medical counselor, Tubal and
Sofia, Sanna and Rustan, Sara and Simson, and several policemen at
Starbeck clears his throat noisily and then becomes silent.
SOFIA: You were lucky, Tubal.
Tubal draws his breath and glances at the ceiling; it's difficult to
say whether he is expressing gratitude. Starbeck frowns and points
STARBECK: Who are you, sir? Vogler doesn't answer.
VERGERUS: It's the mesmerizer, Albert Emanuel Vogler, whom
we thought we had dissected a few hours ago. But Mr. Vogler
cheated us in his own special way. It is probably —and I'm careful
to say probably—Mr. Vogler who stands there wrapped in a blanket.
STARBECK (pale): Is that true?
VERGERHS: As far as we know. As far as we know!
Starbeck takes a step backward and falls down on a chair. He pulls
out a large handkerchief and wipes his forehead. A general and
amazed silence follows.
STARBECK (hoarsely): I am saved!
He controls his emotions and immediately gets up. Searching his
pockets he soon finds a paper, which he unfolds. He immediately
begins to read in a trembling voice.
STARBECK: By His Majesty's command, I have the pleasure to
inform you as follows. His Majesty the King has made it understood
that he wishes to witness one of Mr. Vogler's magnetic
performances. I therefore command you to conduct the
aforementioned Vogler to the Royal Palace in order to have the
required arrangements made for tonight's entertainment, which is
expected to take place immediately following the royal dinner.
Issued at the Royal Palace, Stockholm, the fourteenth of July A.D.
1846, by the Grand Marshal of the Royal Court.
Starbeck is silent and wipes his forehead again. He makes an
energetic gesture with the document and clears his throat.
STARBECK: Hurry up, Dr. Vogler. Everyone is waiting for you.
It's high time to leave.
Vogler, who has been sitting with his head bowed, rises slowly
and looks from one to another. Then he walks toward the door.
Starbeck rushes ahead of him and opens it. The policemen snap to
attention. The atmosphere is charged but solemn. Vogler stands at
the door and looks around.
VOGLER: Gather the rest of the apparatus and send it to the palace.
Be careful; they are expensive objects.
STARBECK: Of course, Doctor. Of course!
VOGLER: Then let's go.
They march down the stairs as in a procession. Starbeck runs
ahead, half backward. The people of the house are gathered at the
windows to watch the departure.
The rain has suddenly stopped and the sun flashes down between
black clouds. Sara and Simson climb up on the coach box.
Simson whips the horses ceremoniously. The coach dooi slams.
SARA (lustful): My sweetest little Simson.
SIMSON: Not now, for God's sake. (Whispers) Tonight!
The coach sways through the gate, turns the corner slowly and
climbs the hilly streets, which glisten in the afternoon sunshine.
The other carriages follow.
In this way the mesmerizer Albert Emanuel Vogler makes his
triumphant entrance into the Royal Palace.
A CHRONOLOGY OF FILMS
DIRECTED BY INGMAR BERGMAN
ABBREVIATIONS: P, Producer; Sc, Screenplay; Ph, Director of photography;
A, Leading actors
NOTE: The English titles used are either a direct translation from the
Swedish, or the titles used in the United States and Great Britain.
The Swedish title follows within parentheses.
1945 CRISIS (KRIS)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman, from a play by Leck
Fischer, The Mother Animal. Ph, Gosta Roosling. A, Inga Landgre,
Dagny Lind, Marianne Lofgren, Stig Olin.
1946 IT RAINS ON OUR LOVE (DET REGNAR PA VAR KARLEK) P, Nordisk
Tonefilm. Sc, Ingmar Bergman and Herbert Grevenius from Oskar
Braathen's play Decent People. Ph, Hilding Bladh and Goran
Strindberg. A, Birger Malmsten, Barbro Kollberg.
1947 A SHIP TO INDIA (SKEPP TILL INDIALAND)
P, Nordisk Tonefilm. Sc, Ingmar Bergman, from Martin
Soderhjelm's play. Ph, Goran Strindberg. A, Birger Malmsten, Gertrud
MUSIC IN THE DARK (MUSIK I MORKER)
P, Terranlm. Sc, Dagmar Edqvist from her own novel. Ph,
Goran Strindberg. A, Birger Malmsten, Mai Zetterling.
1948 PORT OF CALL (HAMNSTAD)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman, from a story by
Olle Lansberg. Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Nine-Christine Jonsson, Bengt
Ekiund, Berta Hall, Mimi Nelson.
P, Terrafilm. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Goran Strindberg. A,
Doris Svedlund, Birger Malmsten, Eva Henning, Hasse Ekman, Stig
1949 THREE STRANGE LOVES (TORST)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Herbert Grevenius from Birgit
Tengroth's short story. Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Eva Henning,
Birger Malmsten, Birgit Tengroth, Mimi Nelson.
TO JOY (TILL GLADJE)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar
Fischer. A, Maj-Britt Nilsson, Victor Sjostrom, Stig Olin.
1950 THIS CAN'T HAPPEN HERE (SANT HANDER INTE HAR) P, Svensk
Filmindustri. Sc, Herbert Grevenius. Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Alf
Kjellin, Signe Hasso, Ulf Palme.
ILLICIT INTERLUDE (British title: SUMMER INTERLUDE)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman and Herbert Grevenius.
Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Maj-Britt Nilsson, Birger Malmsten, Alf
1951 No Swedish feature films were produced during this
year because of an industry shut-down in protest against
the heavy entertainment tax. Ingmar Bergman made only
a short film for commercial advertising.
1952 SECRETS OF WOMEN (British title: waiting women)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar Fischer.
A, Eva Dahlbeck, Anita Bjork, Maj-Britt Nilsson, Gunnar Bjomstrand,
Jarl Kulle, Birger Malmsten. MONIKA (British title: SUMMER WITH
MONIKA) (SOMMAREN MED MONIKA)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman and Per-Anders
Fogelstrom, from the latter's novel. Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Harriet
Andersson, Lars Ekborg.
1953 THE NAKED NIGHT (British title: sawdust and tinsel)
P, Sandrews. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist (interiors) and
Hilding Bladh (exteriors). A, Harriet Andersson, Ake Gronberg, Hasse
Ekman. A LESSON IN LOVE (EN LEKTION I KARLEK) P, Svensk
Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar. Bergman. Ph, Martin Bodin. A, Gunnar
Bjomstrand, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson.
1954 DREAMS (British title: JOURNEY INTO AUTUMN) (KVINNODROM)
P, Sandrews. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Hilding Bladh. A, Eva
Dahlbeck, G. Bjomstrand, Harriet Andersson, Ulf Palme.
1955 SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (SOMMARNATTENS LEENDE )
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar Fischer.
A, Gunnar Bjomstrand, Eva Dahlbeck, Jarl Kulle, Margit Carlqvist,
Harriet Andersson, Ulla Jacobsson.
1956 THE SEVENTH SEAL (DET SJUNDE INSEGLET)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar Fischer.
A, Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjomstrand, Nils Poppe, Bibi Andersson,
1957 WILD STRAWBERRIES (SMULTRONSTALLET)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar
Fischer. A, Victor Sjostrom, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin,
BRINK OF LIFE (NARA LIVET)
P, Nordisk Tonefilm. Sc, Ulla Isaksson and Ingmar Bergman.
Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Eva Dahlbeck, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi
Andersson, Barbro Hiort af Ornas.
1958 THE MAGICIAN (British title: THE FACE) (ANSIKTET) P, Svensk
Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Max von
Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Bjomstrand, Bibi Andersson.
1959 THE VIRGIN SPRING -(JUNGFRUKALLAN)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ulla Isaksson and Ingmar Bergman. Ph,
Sven Nykvist. A, Max von Sydow, Birgitta Fetters-son, Gunnel
Lindblom. THE DEVIL'S EYE (DJAVULENS OGA) P, Svensk
Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Gunnar Fischer. A, Bibi
Andersson, Jarl Kulle, Stig Jarrel.
1961 THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (SASOM I EN SPEGEL)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist. A,
Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjomstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars
1963 WINTER LIGHT (NATTVARDSGASTERNA)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist. A, Ingrid
Thulin, Gunnar Bjornstiand, Max von
Sydow, Gunnel Lindblom.
THE SILENCE (TYSTNADEN)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist. A,
Gunnel Lindblom, Ingrid Thulin, Birger Malmsten, Jorgen Lindstrom.
1964 ALL THESE WOMEN (FOR ATT INTE TALA OM ALLA DESSA
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman, Eriand Josephson.
Ph, Sven Nykvist. A, Jarl Kulle, Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson,
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist. A,
Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann.
1968 HOUR OF THE WOLF (VERGTIMMEN)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist. A,
Liv Ullmann, Max von Sydow, Eriand Josephson, Bertil Anderberg,
1968 SHAME (SKAMMEN)
P, Svensk Filmindustri. Sc, Ingmar Bergman. Ph, Sven Nykvist. A,
Liv Ullmann, Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjomstrand.
Ingmar Bergman wrote the screenplay only for the following films:
1944 TORMENT (Brifis/i title: FRENZY) (HETS)
1947 WOMAN WITHOUT A FACE (KVINNA UTAN ANSIKTE)
1955 THE LAST COUPLE OUT (SISTA PARET ur)
MAJOR PRIZES WON BY BERGMAN FILMS
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT
Special Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 1956
THE SEVENTH SEAL
Special Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 1957 Grand Prix International
de 1'Academie du Cinema (French
Motion Picture Academy), 1958 Golden Banner, Religious Film
Festival, Valladolid, Spain,
BRINK OF LIFE
Best Director Award, Cannes Film Festival, 1958 The three leading
actresses in this film (Eva Dahlbeck, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson)
shared the Best Actress Award
Grand Prize, Berlin Film Festival, 1958
Grand Prize, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Argentina, 1959
Critics' Prize, Venice Film Festival, 1959
National Board of Review (United States), Best Foreign Film,1959 Nominated for Best Screenplay, American
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1959
THE MAGICIAN (THE FACE)
Special Prize, Venice Film Festival, 1958 (for "the best directing, poetic originality and style") Pazinetti
Prize (Italian film critics) for "best foreign film of 1959"
THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
The Academy Award "Oscar" for the best foreign film of 1961 (Santa Monica, U.S.A.), April 10, 1962
The International Catholic Filmbureau (OCIC): A prize for most outstanding picture shown during the Berlin
Finnish Film Critics' prize, 1963, for best foreign picture
Bambi Prize: Award for best foreign picture 1962-63 given by a German magazine
The Silver Laurel Medal, 1964
Grand Prix de l'Office Catholique International du Cinema, 1963
Karlovy Vary, 1964 Diploma
The Golden Laurel Trophy
(The Seiznick Award given to Ingmar Bergman, 1963, for his complete production)
Best Picture of 1967, National Society of Film Critics Best Director Award, National Society of Film Critics
Best Actress Award, Bibi Andersson, National Society of Film Critics
Best Picture 1966-67, Swedish Film Industry Best Actress, Bibi Andersson, Swedish Film Industry
Best Picture of 1968, National Society of Film Critics Best Director, National Society of Film Critics Best
Actress, Liv Ullmann, National Society of Film Critics Best Foreign Language Feature of 1968, The Foreign
Language Press Association