This semi-serious banter leads them on to graver matters. Maja lies at length in the soft heather, and rails gently at the Professor. For the mysteries and claims of art she has a somewhat comical disregard.

MAJA {with a somewhat scornful laugh}. Yes, you are always, always an artist. and again–

MAJA…. Your tendency is to keep yourself to yourself and — think your own thoughts. And, of course, I can’t talk properly to you about your affairs. I know nothing about Art and that sort of thing. {With an impatient gesture.} And care very little either, for that matter.

She rallies him on the subject of the strange lady, and hints maliciously at the understanding between them. Rubek says that he was only an artist and that she was the source of his inspiration. He confesses that the five years of his married life have been years of intellectual famine for him. He has viewed in their true light his own feelings towards his art.

RUBEK {smiling}. But that was not precisely what I had in my mind.

MAJA. What then?

RUBEK {again serious}. It was this — that all the talk about the artist’s vocation and the artist’s mission, and so forth, began to strike me as being very empty and hollow and meaningless at bottom.

MAJA. Then what would you put in its place?

RUBEK. Life, Maja.

The all-important question of their mutual happiness is touched upon, and after a brisk discussion a tacit agreement to separate is effected. When matters are in this happy condition Irene is descried coming across the heath. She is surrounded by the sportive children and stays awhile among them. Maja jumps up from the grass and goes to her, saying, enigmatically, that her husband requires assistance to ‘open a precious casket’. Irene bows and goes towards Rubek, and Maja goes joyfully to seek her hunter.