About a month later. In Senator Thorleifur's home. Same scene as in Act II. Thorleifur stands before his easel, painting a still life of flowers in a vase. His wife sits in a chair, listening to a newscast while she fixes her nails. Thorleifur paints, steps back from the canvas each time he makes a stroke with his brush and surveys the result.
ANNOUNCER(reading):Professor Epihara, who came to this country on behalf of IMIC, the International Metals Investigations Commission, has been travelling around extensively in the South and East with his assistants. Professor Epihara—
THORLEIFUR(has been wholly occupied in surveying his painting, suddenly becomes aware of the announcer's news report, hurries over to the radio with his brush in hand and turns it off):We've heard enough of that.
KARITAS(jumps up):Thorleifur, I was listening.
THORLEIFUR:I don't want to hear about this affair again in my house.
KARITAS:What if I want to listen? (Turns it on again.)
ANNOUNCER(goes on reading):. . . but his investigations have not been as fruitful as he had hoped.
THORLEIFUR(turns it off again):I don't give a damn about this Hairy Ape or whatever his name is.
KARITAS:As if it was his fault that you let that Alfreds bamboozle you.
THORLEIFUR(tries to paint):Yes, indirectly.
KARITAS:Why you didn't think of asking a man like Alfreds for documents and evidence, that's what I don't understand.
THORLEIFUR:Well, what could a person do? Alfreds claimed he was here on behalf of IMIC, and we had read in the Daily Mirror and other English newspapers that IMIC was going to send an ore specialist to this country.
KARITAS:And that is this Professor Epihara?
THORLEIFUR:The rascal fell sick of jaundice this spring, so that his trip was postponed. But of course we didn't hear about that, and so when this Dr. Alfreds, I mean Alfreds—
KARITAS:Frankly, I think you should have had the means of getting factual information.
THORLEIFUR:Yes, my dear, but you know that nowadays such matters are handled with as much secrecy as possible.
KARITAS:And then to let a young squirt like Alfreds pull the wool over your eyes! [p. 246]
THORLEIFUR:Well, didn't the newspapermen fall for it, too, every single one of them?
KARITAS:I just can't understand it—
THORLEIFUR:I tell you again, wife, a person actually has no defence against scoundrels like that who sail under false colors.
KARITAS:And just what colors do you think you're sailing under, may I ask? Some kind of Sunday school banner?
THORLEIFUR:No, we won't talk any more about this. It doesn't do any good. (Tries to start painting again.)
KARITAS(putting on nail polish, after a moment's silence):But he did have all those instruments.
THORLEIFUR:It's no trick to get yourself a Geiger counter. They don't cost more than fifty or sixty dollars.
KARITAS:But he must have known how to work it.
THORLEIFUR:I'm not so sure.
KARITAS:But you remember, it sounded as if he knew everything about uranium, when he was talking about it.
THORLEIFUR:He naturally picked that up when he was a barber's apprentice in Uranium City. People there are as crazy about looking for uranium as they used to be about gold in Alaska.
KARITAS:But was that just a made-up story about his being from Canada too?
THORLEIFUR:Bless you, he was born and brought up on Linden Street in this town. He made himself notorious here one winter by breaking into a candy store. They put him in jail for it. Then he stole a horse from a farmer and sold it to the slaughter house. After that he became cook's helper on a Norwegian hulk right at the beginning of the war. Brilliant career, isn't it?
KARITAS:Fancy that—he even stole a horse! But what about his family name, Alfreds, John Alfreds?
THORLEIFUR:In the police records he bears the full name of Jörgen Nicholas Holm Alfredsson. [p. 247]
KARITAS:Jörgen Nicholas Holm—what a name!
THORLEIFUR:As many names as a member of royalty. We have further learned that he was once deported from Canada.
KARITAS:And this fellow you all allowed to twist you around his little finger. (Vehemently.) But why didn't you arrest him?
THORLEIFUR:My dear, a man doesn't willingly make a fool of himself before the general public. No, it was politically most advantageous that Jörgen Nicholas Holm should quietly vanish from the country as Dr. Alfreds. More than that: we had to buy an airplane ticket to Mexico for him.
KARITAS:An airplane ticket to Mexico!
THORLEIFUR:Yes, my dear. We can praise our lucky stars we got off as cheaply as that.
(Just then the phone rings.)
THORLEIFUR:I'll take it. (Hurries out, the door is open.) Yes, hello. Yes, oh no, the doctor has left the country. No, I'm sorry to say, I don't know for sure. Yes, no, oh that's perfectly all right. Goodbye.
KARITAS:Was somebody asking about Dr. Alfreds?
THORLEIFUR(shouts):For heaven's sake, he's no god-damn doctor (Calms down quickly.) I mean—among ourselves. Outside, people only know that Dr. Alfreds was overly optimistic about uranium, and that further investigations have led to different conclusions.
KARITAS(still working at her nails):But this is intolerable—absolutely intolerable—you who licked the dust at his feet—that you didn't see through him.
THORLEIFUR:But weren't you the one, my dear, who showed such passionate interest in him?
KARITAS(with disgust):I? Of course I believed it when you said he was here on behalf of IMIC, but it was you who introduced him into our home.
THORLEIFUR:As things stood, it was a matter of course. [p. 248]
KARITAS:You left him behind here in our home even though I had warned you against him, and no one knows what might have happened—if—
KARITAS(in a lowered voice):He was offensive towards me this summer, right after you had left.
THORLEIFUR(shocked):Karitas, what are you saying? What really happened?
KARITAS:I have spared you the truth about this affair. Heaven knows how awful it was.
THORLEIFUR:The skunk surely didn't try to—violate you?
KARITAS:No, Thorleifur dear, I can't bear to talk about it. I shudder to think of it.
THORLEIFUR(sits down beside her and puts his arm gently around her shoulder):Karitas, tell me about it.
KARITAS(at once becomes excited):I burned him with the cigarette. I scratched him. I hit him. I told him he would remember that a woman had struck him. And he staggered out after he had torn off my dress. (Buries her face in her hands.)
THORLEIFUR:Oh, my darling, now now. (Strokes her with emotion.) My little defenceless dove. But why haven't you told me this before?
KARITAS(sobbing):I couldn't. I just couldn't. That scoundrel. You should have known how he grabbed hold of me—
THORLEIFUR:Now now, we won't think about this any more. You were able to protect your honor. That's what matters—
KARITAS:God, how I wish I might have seen that beast in prison—branded at hard labor—beaten up with a club—and then you pay for his airplane ticket to Mexico—the man who swindled you for big sums—this notorious housebreaker and criminal who almost dishonored me—you actually give him a prize for all his villainy!
(Kristin comes in just then.)
KARITAS:Well, what is it, Kristin? [p. 249]
KRISTIN:I didn't exactly know what I ought to do with these stones that the doctor left behind.
KARITAS:Throw them in the ashcan.
KRISTIN(hesitantly):But aren't they valuable? I thought—
THORLEIFUR:It's all right. The doctor was through using them for his investigations.
KARITAS:Yes, and don't stand there gaping as if you had never seen people before. Or don't you understand what we have told you?
KRISTIN:Yes, yes. (Leaves.)
KARITAS:The bag—I'm sure he slept with her.
THORLEIFUR:Now, now, dear.
KARITAS:Oh Thorleifur dear—can't we go away somewhere, somewhere far, far off, where we could forget all this? I still haven't been able to calm my nerves after this business last summer.
THORLEIFUR:No, I'm afraid that's out just now. This has all cost me plenty of money. (Tries to paint).
KARITAS(as she puts nail polish on her nails, a moment's silence):But don't you think it'll leak out who he really was?
THORLEIFUR:No, we have all made an agreement to keep it strictly under cover, and Valdimar will certainly see to it that no one blabs. He's used to that, the old man.
KARITAS(sarcastically):You seem to have become a great admirer of his lately.
THORLEIFUR:Well, it can't be gainsaid that he saved the day for us, and if—
KARITAS:So of course you're going to support his bill.
THORLEIFUR(in a resigned tone):Yes—I'll have to do that.
KARITAS(quickly excited):Weakling. That's what you are. You had a chance to get the equivalent of an ambassador's position. We could now have been in Rome or on the Riviera or anywhere, if you hadn't played the clown before Valdimar. And now you have to crawl on your knees to him.
THORLEIFUR:Yes, it was my fault that I trusted another man. [p. 250] But what value is life if such trust is excluded. (Paints.) I wanted to seize the opportunity for the benefit of my people. I felt I didn't have the right not to—
KARITAS:Oh, keep quiet. Don't you think I've seen through your hypocrisy a long time ago, all your talk about ideals and noble deeds? You just wanted to make yourself a bigger man than Valdimar, but you didn't have the stuff in you.
THORLEIFUR:You can pass judgment on me, Karitas, and I don't ask for mercy. But have you ever tried to understand me as I am?
KARITAS:I've tried to make a man of you, my dear.
THORLEIFUR:You aren't fair, Karitas. You know I've always tried to please you. I've even tried to be the man you wanted me to be even though it was entirely contrary to my nature. The trouble is that a man can't in the long run be anything else than what he is. But this you have never wanted to understand.
KARITAS:But what do you think you would have become without me?
THORLEIFUR:The problem is not really what a man becomes, but rather what he is—what a man is in relation to himself and his limitations—and there I was too many things at once.
KARITAS:Yes, you should have remained the tear-jerking singer at funerals that you used to be.
THORLEIFUR(with a touch of pathos):Yes, I could sing. And I could also write poetry. My schoolmates were amazed at my many talents. I myself lived in daydreams about all that awaited me. You understand—I couldn't grow up because I had too many possibilities to choose from, and I didn't choose. To grow up is to set one's course in a definite direction. But I saw mirages on all sides. If only I had had the fortitude to devote myself entirely to my art, to the calling which has always had and now, I find, still has the deepest attraction for me. (Steps back from his painting and points at it.) [p. 251]
KARITAS:Your art. (Laughs scornfully.) No, Thorleifur mine, you have never been able to live for anything. You have just dabbled at everything—dabbled at being a big shot. You never got beyond being director of an inactive herring oil factory. You have dabbled at art—when you had to give in too much to Valdimar. You have even dabbled with me, your wife, so that as far as you are concerned, I might as well have remained a virgin. Oh Lord, that I ever got married to you. It would almost have been better to let this candy thief take one by force.
THORLEIFUR(jumps up shocked):Wife, why do you say this?
KARITAS:You have never had any convictions about anything, no passions, not even any vices, for you are just a fake, a fake. That's what you are and nothing else.
(Knocks his easel over in her excitement.)
KRISTIN:Excuse me. (She is standing in the doorway, unable to make herself heard.)
KARITAS(cries out when she catches sight of her):What's this, girl? Why do you sneak in this way? Haven't you any manners?
KRISTIN:Forgive me, but I didn't know—
KARITAS:Didn't know what—what—?
KRISTIN:The architect's wife is here.
(Thorleifur picks up the canvas and his paints.)
KARITAS:Addi? What does she want?
KRISTIN:She's asking if the lady is at home.
(Thorleifur hurriedly collects everything and carries it out into the room across the stage. Takes off his smock.)
KARITAS(hurries out):Addi, darling, are you here—
(Thorleifur comes out again, in his usual suit. Karitas and Addi come in.)
ADDI:Could I possibly have a talk with you?
(Embraces her.) I had to—I just literally had to come and [p. 252] see you. (Looks at Thorleifur.) Good morning, Thorleifur.
THORLEIFUR(greets her):Good morning.
ADDI:I hope I'm not interfering?
KARITAS:Oh no, no, not at all, far from it.
THORLEIFUR:And Sophonias is busy building?
ADDI:Yes, busy building.
KARITAS:My husband is so terribly busy, too, now that the Senate is in session.
THORLEIFUR:Yes, I have to look over some papers.
KARITAS:Don't wear yourself out now, my dear. Remember this evening.
THORLEIFUR:Yes, I remember.
ADDI:Was something troubling him?
KARITAS:Oh, no, not at all. My dear Thorleifur is always in such good humor. He's just a little tired. He and Valdimar have been working on a new bill. But please have a cigarette. (Hands her one.)
ADDI:Thank you. (Lights it.) You two are always so harmonious.
KARITAS:We have always been satisfied with each other, and I think—though I shouldn't say it—that my Thorleifur is just as infatuated with me now as when he kissed me the first time back of the Free Church.
ADDI:Oh, a person can see that all over him. Men just can't hide anything like that.
KARITAS:I think he still remembers all my party dresses.
ADDI:That blue one you wore on New Year's Eve was a dream.
KARITAS:It was a model from New York. But your dresses are in such good taste also.
ADDI:Oh, Sophonias has good connections. But to get back to the relationship between you and your husband—the fact that you agree so well will make it easier to bear up under trouble. [p. 253]
KARITAS(annoyed):What do you mean?
ADDI:We have always been able to talk together so well and have told each other—
KARITAS:Well, what is it?
ADDI:I felt it was my plain duty to come and tell you—
KARITAS:What are you talking about?
ADDI:So you haven't noticed anything? My Tota said to me— now you mustn't be upset—
(She leans over to her and whispers.)
KARITAS(starts):Pregnant! My Sigrun? Never. That's impossible—the child.
ADDI:She has been pregnant since this summer.
KARITAS(jumps up):Well, what business is it of yours? You didn't make her that way.
ADDI:Now now, try to calm yourself.
KARITAS:Calm myself! (Snorts.) So the girl is engaged, and isn't it the fashion nowadays for engaged girls to get pregnant?
ADDI:Is she engaged? I didn't know that. But surely not to this Alfreds?
KARITAS:You mean Doctor Alfreds.
ADDI:Was he really a doctor?
KARITAS:Doctor Alfreds is certainly an outstanding man in his field—very outstanding indeed. But of course you wouldn't understand that in science it often takes very little to make the conclusions erroneous, and as far as Sigrun's engagement is concerned, I can tell you she is engaged to a young and promising student.
ADDI:A young and promising student?
KARITAS:Yes, such incredible things do happen nowadays—young girls get engaged to young students, but of course I don't suppose you ever heard of anything like that before.
ADDI:I just didn't know that—
KARITAS:No, you don't need to tell me that there are lots of things you don't know. I have always trusted my Sigrun, and [p. 254] that's more than you can say about your daughter, that trollop who has always been hanging around the American soldiers, and sticks chewing gum under all the furniture.
ADDI:That you would dare—
KARITAS:I dare to trust my daughter, and even if she is pregnant, I still trust her, for she is engaged, do you understand that, and not a prostitute like your Tota. I wish to God that Sigrun had never made friends with your people, for in our district among cultured people you outsiders ought never to have been allowed. You ought to have to stay in the slums, like tramps and gypsies.
(Addi retreats to the door, terrified.)
ADDI:I just wanted to—
KARITAS:Get out. Get out.
ADDI(screams):You should talk about a cultured district! You who made love to this fake doctor! And made a cuckold of your Thorleifur!
KARITAS(opens the door):Get out. Your Sophonias is nothing but a hayseed who never learned to draw anything but silos, as anybody can see by his churches. (Laughs contemptuously and slams the door.) That snake. (Rushes into the living room and calls to Thorleifur.) Thorleifur.
THORLEIFUR(comes in with a newspaper in his hand):What's wrong? What kind of a racket is this?
KARITAS:She's pregnant, she's pregnant.
KARITAS:And of course with this housebreaker, Jörgen Nicholas Holm. Isn't it just delightful to become in-laws to such high nobility?
THORLEIFUR:It surely doesn't have to be him?
KARITAS:Yes, I rather think I noticed something like that. She was always giving him the eye.
THORLEIFUR:The wretched scoundrel— [p. 255]
KARITAS:I wonder if we hadn't better begin calling him Doctor Alfreds, even among ourselves.
THORLEIFUR:I don't believe it. I can't believe it.
KARITAS(half to herself):Why she couldn't have been more careful—(To Thorleifur.) But this is what I kept saying to myself this summer. We should really have locked her up.
THORLEIFUR:My poor dear little Sigrun—and where is she now?
KARITAS:Oh, she went to this ram show with Sigmundur. Ever since she visited his farm this fall she doesn't talk about anything but farming. It was all just to deceive me and make herself appear innocent.
THORLEIFUR(looks at his wrist watch):They must be coming soon. Perhaps I ought to telephone. (Starts to go out, but stops.) No, of course there isn't any telephone there.
KARITAS(sits down):Oh Lord, that this too should have to happen. (Wipes her eyes.)
THORLEIFUR(sits down beside her):Now, now, my dear, we'll manage to get out of it somehow. We can send the girl away and then she will marry someone she has long been engaged to. (Picks up the newspaper he has been reading.) By the way, have you seen that they're getting divorced, Barbara Hutton and Porfirio Rubirosa?
KARITAS(tears the paper away from him as she hisses):Yes, and I ought to get divorced from you.
THORLEIFUR(unhappy):No, my love, you mustn't do that. You are all that I have, the most precious and the most incomparable. With you I'm still wealthy.
(Just then Sigrun's voice is heard in the hall, bright and cheerful. Sigmundur and she are both in new parkas, and he is in every way more dressed-up than before.)
SIGRUN:Come on in, Sigmundur.
KARITAS(inside):There they are.
SIGRUN(comes in and holds up a document):First prize-first prize! [p. 256]
SIGMUNDUR:And a testimonial from the Minister of Agriculture himself!
SIGMUNDUR:My old Somi just wouldn't be denied.
THORLEIFUR:That is gratifying, Sigmundur, truly gratifying. May I congratulate you? (Extends his hand.)
SIGMUNDUR(a little brusquely):Yes, I suppose you may.
KARITAS(sarcastically to Sigrun):And I suppose I should congratulate you too?
SIGRUN:Yes indeed. I was so excited when the Minister got up on the platform to speak.
KARITAS(spits out the words):You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
SIGRUN:So? And what, pray tell, have I done?
KARITAS:You ought to know that best yourself, you who have brought disgrace on us. Addi came here just now, and told me what Tota had said to her—
SIGRUN:That I am pregnant. Yes, it's going to begin showing pretty soon. I was just picking out material for a maternity dress today.
KARITAS:So you don't even know enough to be ashamed of yourself?
THORLEIFUR:But daughter, what misfortune has befallen you?
SIGRUN:It is no misfortune, daddy. Children are no misfortune.
KARITAS:You don't seem to be clearly aware of your circumstances.
SIGMUNDUR:Well, doesn't the Creator bless those who increase and multiply the earth?
KARITAS:Please, Sigmundur, excuse us. We need to talk a little with our daughter.
SIGRUN:No, he stays here. He knows everything about this.
SIGMUNDUR:Yes, I always told Laugi that there are fine qualities in the young people, even when they're a little careless with their fun. But no one should be too hard on them for that. [p. 257]
KARITAS:Very well, but may I venture to ask who the lucky man was—surely not Dr. Alfreds?
SIGRUN:Perhaps you're jealous? (Laughs sarcastically.)
KARITAS(gives her a box on the ears):Maybe this will teach you not to shame your mother.
SIGRUN(walks menacingly toward her):You shall never slap me again. I am myself about to become a mother, and my children shall never be beaten.
KARITAS:But my dear, whose child is it?
SIGMUNDUR:You know, it has always seemed to me that somehow children belong to all of us.
KARITAS:If you intend to stay any longer under your parents' roof you will at least have to let us know who has seduced you.
SIGRUN:I am no longer dependent on you. I am eighteen years old and can do as I please. Sigmundur has promised me that I can stay on his farm as long as I wish. I just came here to say goodbye and collect my baggage. It's all packed upstairs.
KARITAS:Sigmundur—can all this be true that the girl is saying? I hope you haven't been influencing her—she's such a weak character.
THORLEIFUR:Yes, you understand, Sigmundur, we'll have to find some way out, as things now stand—
SIGMUNDUR(strokes Sigrun's hair clumsily):Yes, she's welcome, the little one, to stay with us as long as she wants to. She behaved so well those weeks she was with us. But this I would like to say to the Senator—that I think he had better find "some way out" in other matters than what concerns her. And you were badly mistaken when you thought I was so blinded by ambition that you could pull the wool over my eyes.
THORLEIFUR:No no, Sigmundur, that was all a mere misunderstanding— [p. 258]
SIGMUNDUR:Well, it's a little late to say "amen" When all the deacons have fallen silent. But this I want to tell you, that little Sigrun shall have all she needs in the way of milk and nourishing food. Laugi and Ranka have contracted with me for another year, at least, so that the grub isn't going to be too bad even though it's a lonely place.
SIGRUN:Oh no, I love to stay with you. Ranka will teach me to spin on your mother's spinning wheel.
THORLEIFUR:But wouldn't it be advisable to be closer to a doctor—
SIGMUNDUR:Ranka has been a midwife whenever it was needed, and she's done right well by the women, too. If there has to be a doctor, there's one in the village, down by the sea.
KARITAS:Do you still refuse to name the father?
SIGRUN:Isn't it enough for you to know that you are going to become a grandmother?
SIGRUN(turns away from her mother):Come Sigmundur, you'll have to help me with the bags.
KARITAS(cries out after her):That you would dare to do it— SIGRUN(on the stairs as they walk up):I intend to take my parrot with me so he can listen to the thrushes in the brushwood—
THORLEIFUR(opens the outer door):Valdimar!
VALDIMAR:Hello, old man.
KARITAS(glad to see him):Valdimar!
VALDIMAR(embraces her):Always like Venus just risen from her bath. May I introduce Professor Epihara, Frau Olafsson. Herr Olafsson.
PROFESSOR:Küss die Hand gnädige Frau.
PROFESSOR:Speek leetle eenglees. [p. 259]
KARITAS:Nehmen Sie Platz. Won't you please sit down?
VALDIMAR:The Professor is Japanese and prefers to talk German. As you know he has been traveling around the country far and wide this fall, but his researches have so far uncovered nothing of interest. (They enter the room.) Nichts gefunden?
PROFESSOR:Nein, gar nichts.
THORLEIFUR(offers cigars):No, it's hardly to be expected that there should be uranium here.
VALDIMAR:His assistants and he have divided the work between them, taken samples and investigated everything in a strictly scientific way. It was an expedition under his leadership that found the uranium deposits in Madagascar last year.
PROFESSOR(nods):Oh ja ja. Madagascar, Madagascar.
VALDIMAR:But in these investigations there is one spot which the professor did not get an opportunity to study, and that was at Hofstadir, just the area where Dr. Alfreds of blessed memory thought he had found uranium.
KARITAS(bitterly):Jörgen Nicholas Holm.
VALDIMAR(nods to her):It is not because the professor thinks that anything of importance will come to light, but rather for the sake of scientific precision and completeness in his reports. But the farmer was most unfriendly. He threatened us and forbade us all entry.
THORLEIFUR:The fellow has gotten a little uppity lately.
VALDIMAR:To put it bluntly: he aimed a gun at the professor. (Pretends to aim a gun.) Boom-boom.
PROFESSOR:Ja ja, boom-boom.
KARITAS:He aimed a gun!
VALDIMAR:They had to take to their heels to save their lives.
THORLEIFUR:What's this? They've been in danger of their lives?
KARITAS:Imagine Sigmundur acting like that— [p. 260]
VALDIMAR:Be that as it may. But in order not to have left this one spot unstudied and in order to satisfy the professor's scientific conscience, I told him that most likely Alfreds had left behind some samples of the rock here with you. I remember you said—.
THORLEIFUR:Yes, of course, the rocks—
VALDIMAR:Yes, the rocks. Steine.
PROFESSOR:Ja ja, Steine.
THORLEIFUR:Wife, where are those rocks we used to have?
KARITAS:The maid threw them in the ashcan. (Runs out and shouts.) Kristin!
VALDIMAR:Die Steine sind in die Aschentonne geworden.
(Speaks in a low voice with the professor who nods, and they all three go out into the kitchen after Karitas. Just then Sigrun and Sigmundur come down the stairs. Sigrun is carrying a cage with a parrot in it.)
SIGRUN(to Sigmundur):Will you carry out the bags while I call a cab? (Sigmundur takes the bags and goes out. Sigrun on the telephone): This is at Senator Thorleifur Olafsson's. Will you send a cab, right away?
(Karitas comes in the kitchen door.)
KARITAS(listens silently a moment while the daughter speaks):Are you leaving?
KARITAS:Then you're really serious?
SIGRUN:More serious, mother, than I have ever been about anything else.
KARITAS:I don't understand you. (Sits down.) You have become so strange. What is really the matter with you?
SIGRUN:No, you can't understand me, and it is hardly to be expected. I don't even know if I understand myself. But what difference does that make, when I know that what I am doing is right and the only right thing, and that nothing else matters beside this. It is so strange. It is exactly as if I had been under some kind of spell and hadn't known what I wanted, until now I am freed from the spell. [p. 261]
KARITAS:I wonder if it isn't now that you are under the spell. You can't be yourself now, girl.
SIGRUN:Yes, for now I am about to begin a new life. (She strokes her waist.) And here, within, it is growing day and night. But you can't understand anything because you are vain and selfish.
KARITAS(puts her hands over her eyes):You hate me.
SIGRUN:No, I don't hate you. Once I was afraid of you, but now I only pity you, for everything you want and get is such unimportant trash—oh mother, I wish you hadn't forgotten to be a human being—
(Just then enter Valdimar, Thorleifur, and the professor with his Geiger counter and equipment on his ears and a report in his hand.)
VALDIMAR:This is marvellous—nearly unbelievable.
THORLEIFUR(excited):Karitas, it's uranium, real uranium.
PROFESSOR:Ja ja, uranium.
KARITAS(depressed, apathetically):Yes yes.
THORLEIFUR:The professor says that in these samples which Jörgen Nicholas Holm, no I mean Alfreds, took, there is uranium, real uranium, just think—
PROFESSOR(looks up for a moment):Uranium—ja ja—wunderbar—(Bends down again over his instruments.)
(Valdimar and he speak in muffled tones. Valdimar is no longer jesting in manner, but is all afire with zeal and hopes of profit.)
THORLEIFUR(to his wife):We have been a little too quick. The man did find uranium, even though he was quite a different person from what he seemed.
VALDIMAR:I don't think we're going to miss him very much, Thorleifur. (Laughs.) But this time there isn't any fly in the ointment. (Sigmundur enters.)
SIGRUN:Do you know what they're saying?
VALDIMAR(goes towards him):May I have the pleasure of congratulating you?
SIGMUNDUR:Thank you very much. (Takes out the [p. 262] document.) And the seal of the Minister of Agriculture right underneath.
THORLEIFUR:No no, Sigmundur, he isn't referring to the ram.
SIGRUN:They're going to start speculating with your mountain again.
VALDIMAR(laughs):Pretty girls should be seen and not heard. That adds to their charm. But as I was about to say, Sigmundur, the nation lays certain obligations upon our shoulders.
SIGMUNDUR:So it's the same old song, is it? Just as I had expected. No, my friend, it's nobody's business what happens to be inside that mountain. And I forbid all trespassing on my property.
VALDIMAR:Bravo, excellent. That is the right national spirit. But unfortunately we are no longer living in the viking age. Unfortunately, I say, for never was our people more Icelandic than then. But nowadays it says in that boring document called our Constitution that men can be required to give up their property if the general welfare requires it. That's how it is, my good Sigmundur. We all have to bow to the people's welfare, both you and I, no matter what heroes we are.
sigmundur:I didn't think you big shots counted yourselves among the people, the way you put up your coxcombs. But we farmers are the people, and we need the pastures we've got. No, I won't give up a stone or a stick from my land.
VALDIMAR:Now let's not get excited over a little thing like this.
SIGMUNDUR:Yes, I'll get excited when I feel like it. My grandfather Simon the Strong slew the Iranes monster, and I have not degenerated so far from my ancestors that I can't give this gang of mollycoddles from Reykjavik the beating it deserves.
SIGRUN(calls):The cab is here.
THORLEIFUR(goes to Sigmundur and puts his hand on his shoulder):I hope that we won't part as enemies, Sigmundur [p. 263] my friend, even though Valdimar has raised this question with you.
SIGMUNDUR:Enemies—if we are, it's mostly your own fault. And you won't get anything but trouble if you tie up to a fox's tail. It would be much better for you, Thorleifur, if you got out of this bad company while there is still time. Then you'll be welcome at Hofstadir, both you and your good wife, and I won't mind if you putter around and paint the landscape, just to keep out of mischief.
VALDIMAR:I'm sure that Sigmundur and I can come to terms.
SIGMUNDUR:You can chatter all you want about precious metals as far as I'm concerned. But I wonder if the most precious thing of all isn't an honest people, though of course you wouldn't understand that.
SIGRUN(takes hold of his wrist):Come now.
SIGMUNDUR:Yes, I'm coming. (Looks at Valdimar and shakes his fist in his face.) They say that a man who fights with the devil has his hands full, but I don't intend to give in just the same—and that's it. (Exit.)
VALDIMAR(laughs):There's fire in the fellow, real honest-to-god fire.
THORLEIFUR:He gets pretty nasty sometimes.
VALDIMAR:Well, we're leaving now. (Goes up and bows to Karitas, who pays little attention.) Wir gehen jetzt.
PROFESSOR(kisses the lady's hand):Auf wiedersehen.
THORLEIFUR(goes to the door with them):Auf wiedersehen, Professor Epihara.
VALDIMAR:The old boy is anything but dead. (Pats Thorleifur on the shoulder.) Too bad he isn't a senator, Thorleifur. (Thorleifur starts.) Well, we can talk about this tomorrow, instead. (Nods to Karitas.) Good-bye, beauty queen, good-bye.
KARITAS(depressed):Goodbye. [p. 264]
THORLEIFUR(comes back in):So it was right on the property of that confounded rascal he found the uranium after all.
KARITAS(suddenly bursts out in unrestrained laughter):How ridiculous all this is. How utterly fantastic. It's just exactly what you have coming. (Collapses and bursts into tears.)
THORLEIFUR(doesn't dare touch her, but stands beside her helplessly):Carrie, Carrie dear, what is it, Carrie—
KRISTIN(enters):There's a telegram.
THORLEIFUR:A telegram? (Opens it, reads to himself.)
KARITAS(without looking up):Who from?
THORLEIFUR:(reads):PLEASE SEND STONE SAMPLES STOP VERY URGENT STOP FORGOT THEM STOP GREETINGS DOCTOR ALFREDS HOTEL REY ALFONSO MEXICO CITY. (Lays down the telegram.) Now I don't understand a thing. He wants his stones sent to him?
KARITAS(jumps up):No, of course you don't ever understand anything. But it is Jörgen Nicholas Holm who conquers the world and finds uranium wherever he goes—in Iceland, Mexico, Siam, with stolen samples from Canada in his bag. (Tears the telegram into little scraps.) Jörgen Nicholas Holm—Porfirio Rubirosa—and Barbara Hutton—(Tosses the scraps into the air as the curtain falls.)CURTAIN