Narrated by Beth Richmond
This file is 3.5 MB;
running time is 15 minutes
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The scene is the corner of a ladies' cafe. Two little iron tables, a red
velvet sofa, several chairs. Enter Madame, dressed in winter
clothes, carrying a Japanese basket on her arm.
In the cafe, Mademoiselle Amelie sits with a half empty beer bottle before her, reading an illustrated paper, which she changes for another.
Madame says, “Good afternoon, Amelie. You're sitting here alone on
Christmas eve like a poor bachelor!”
Amelie looks up, nods, and resumes her reading.
Madame continues: “Do you know it really hurts me to see you like this, alone,
in a cafe, and on Christmas eve, too. It makes me feel as I did one
time when I saw a bridal party in a Paris restaurant, and the bride
sat reading a comic paper, while the groom played billiards with
the witnesses. Huh, thought I, with such a beginning, what will
follow, and what will be the end? He played billiards on his
Amelie starts to speak, but Madame continues.
“And she read a comic paper, you mean? Well, they are not altogether the same thing.”
A waitress enters, places a cup of chocolate before Madame and
“You know what, Amelie! I believe you would have done better
to have kept him! Do you remember, I was the first to say ‘Forgive
him?’ Do you remember that? You would be married now and have a
home. Remember that Christmas when you went out to visit your
fiance's parents in the country? How you gloried in the happiness
of home life and really longed to quit the theatre forever? Yes,
Amelie dear, home is the best of all, the theatre next and children—well, you don't understand that.”
Amelie looks up scornfully.
Madame sips a few spoonfuls out of the cup, then opens her basket and shows Christmas presents.
“Now you shall see what I bought for my piggywigs.”
She takes up a doll.
“Look at this! This is for Lisa, ha! Do you see how she can
roll her eyes and turn her head, eh? And here is Maja's popgun.”
She Loads it and shoots at Amelie.
Amelie makes a startled gesture.
“Did I frighten you? Do you think I would like to shoot you,
eh? On my soul, if I don't think you did! If you wanted to shoot
me it wouldn't be so surprising, because I stood in your way—and
I know you can never forget that—although I was absolutely
innocent. You still believe I intrigued and got you out of the
Stora theatre, but I didn't. I didn't do that, although you think
so. Well, it doesn't make any difference what I say to you. You
still believe I did it.”
She picks up a pair of embroidered slippers.
“And these are for my better half. I embroidered them myself—I
can't bear tulips, but he wants tulips on everything.”
Amelie looks up ironically and curiously.
Madame, putting a hand in each slipper, declares: “What little feet Bob has!
What? And you should see what a splendid stride he has! You've
never seen him in slippers!” She. laughs aloud. “Look!”
She makes the slippers walk on the table and then she laughs loudly.
“And when he is grumpy he stamps like this with his foot. ‘What! damn
those servants who can never learn to make coffee. Oh, now those
creatures haven't trimmed the lamp wick properly!’ And then there
are draughts on the floor and his feet are cold. ‘Ugh, how cold it
is; the stupid idiots can never keep the fire going.’"
She rubs the slippers together, one sole over the other.
And, in response, Amelie is taken with laughter.
“And then he comes home and has to hunt for his slippers
which Marie has stuck under the chiffonier—oh, but it's sinful to
sit here and make fun of one's husband this way when he is kind and
a good little man. You ought to have had such a husband, Amelie.
What are you laughing at? What? What? And you see he's true to me.
Yes, I'm sure of that, because he told me himself—what are you
laughing at?—that when I was touring in Norway that that brazen
Frêdêrique came and wanted to seduce him! Can you fancy anything so
“I'd have torn her eyes out if she had come to
see him when I was at home.”
She pauses again.
“It was lucky that Bob told me
about it himself and that it didn't reach me through gossip.”
“But would you believe it, Frêdêrique wasn't the only one!
I don't know why, but the women are crazy about my husband. They
must think he has influence about getting them theatrical
engagements, because he is connected with the government. Perhaps
you were after him yourself. I didn't use to trust you any too
much. But now I know he never bothered his head about you, and you
always seemed to have a grudge against him someway.”
She pauses and both women look at each other in a puzzled way.
“Come and see us this evening, Amelie, and show us that
you're not put out with us,—not put out with me at any rate. I
don't know, but I think it would be uncomfortable to have you for
an enemy. Perhaps it's because I stood in your way
or—I really—don't know why—in particular.”
She pauses, and Amelie stares at her curiously.
She then continues, thoughtfully:
“Our acquaintance has been so queer. When I
saw you for the first time I was afraid of you, so afraid that I
didn't dare let you out of my sight; no matter when or where, I
always found myself near you—I didn't dare have you for an enemy,
so I became your friend. But there was always discord when you came
to our house, because I saw that my husband couldn't endure you,
and the whole thing seemed as awry to me as an ill-fitting gown—
and I did all I could to make him friendly toward you, but with no
success until you became engaged. Then came a violent friendship
between you, so that it looked all at once as though you both dared
show your real feelings only when you were secure—and then—how
was it later? I didn't get jealous—strange to say! And I remember
at the christening, when you acted as godmother, I made him kiss
you—he did so, and you became so confused—as it were; I didn't
notice it then—didn't think about it later, either—have never
thought about it until—now!”
Suddenly, she rises.
“Why are you silent?
You haven't said a word this whole time, but you have let me go on
talking! You have sat there, and your eyes have reeled out of me
all these thoughts which lay like raw silk in its cocoon—thoughts—
suspicious thoughts, perhaps. Let me see—why did you break your
engagement? Why do you never come to our house any more? Why won't
you come to see us tonight?”
Amelie appears as if about to speak.
“Hush, you needn't speak—I understand it all! It was because—and because—and because! Yes, yes! Now all the accounts balance. That's it. Fie, I won't sit at the same table with you.”
She moves her things to another table.
“That's the reason I had to embroider tulips—which I hate—on his slippers, because you are fond of tulips; that's why.”
She throws the slippers on the floor.
“We go to Lake Mälarn in the summer, because you don't like salt water;
that's why my boy is named Eskil—because it's your father's name;
that's why I wear your colors, read your authors, eat your favorite
dishes, drink your drinks—chocolate, for instance; that's why—oh—
my God—it's terrible, when I think about it; it's terrible.
Everything, everything came from you to me, even your passions.
Your soul crept into mine, like a worm into an apple, ate and ate,
bored and bored, until nothing was left but the rind and a little
black dust within. I wanted to get away from you, but I couldn't;
you lay like a snake and charmed me with your black eyes; I felt
that when I lifted my wings they only dragged me down; I lay in the
water with bound feet, and the stronger I strove to keep up the
deeper I worked myself down, down, until I sank to the bottom,
where you lay like a giant crab to clutch me in your claws—and
there I am lying now.
“I hate you, hate you, hate you! And you only sit there silent—
silent and indifferent; indifferent whether it's new moon or waning
moon, Christmas or New Year's, whether others are happy or unhappy;
without power to hate or to love; as quiet as a stork by a rat
hole—you couldn't scent your prey and capture it, but you could
lie in wait for it! You sit here in your corner of the cafê—did
you know it's called "The Rat Trap" for you?—and read the papers
to see if misfortune hasn't befallen some one, to see if some one
hasn't been given notice at the theatre, perhaps; you sit here and
calculate about your next victim and reckon on your chances of
recompense like a pilot in a shipwreck. Poor Amelie, I pity you,
nevertheless, because I know you are unhappy, unhappy like one who
has been wounded, and angry because you are wounded. I can't be
angry with you, no matter how much I want to be—because you come
out the weaker one. Yes, all that with Bob doesn't trouble me. What
is that to me, after all? And what difference does it make whether
I learned to drink chocolate from you or some one else.”
She stops and sips a spoonful from her cup, before continuing:
“Besides, chocolate is very healthy. And if you taught me how to
dress—that has only made me more attractive to my
husband; so you lost and I won there. Well, judging by certain
signs, I believe you have already lost him; and you certainly
intended that I should leave him—do as you did with your fiancê
and regret as you now regret; but, you see, I don't do that—we
mustn't be too exacting. And why should I take only what no one
“Perhaps, taking it all in, all, I am at this moment the stronger one.
You received nothing from me, but you gave me much. And now I seem
like a thief since you have awakened and find I possess what is
your loss. How could it be otherwise when everything is worthless
and sterile in your hands? You can never keep a man's love with
your tulips and your passions—but I can keep it. You can't learn
how to live from your authors, as I have learned. You have no
little Eskil to cherish, even if your father's name was Eskil. And
why are you always silent, silent, silent? I thought that was
strength, but perhaps it is because you have nothing to say!
Because you never think about anything!”
She rises and picks up the slippers.
“Now I'm going home—and I’ll take the tulips with me—your tulips! You
are unable to learn from another; you can't bend—therefore, you
broke like a dry stalk. But I won't break! Thank you, Amelie, for
all your good lessons. Thanks for teaching my husband how to love.
Now I'm going home to love him.”
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