IRENE. I exposed myself wholly and unreservedly to your gaze {more softly} and never once did you touch me ….

* * * *

RUBEK {looks impressively at her}. I was an artist, Irene.

IRENE {darkly}. That is just it. That is just it.

Thinking deeper and deeper on himself and on his former attitude towards this woman, it strikes him yet more forcibly that there are great gulfs set between his art and his life, and that even in his art his skill and genius are far from perfect. Since Irene left him he has done nothing but paint portrait busts of townsfolk. Finally, some kind of resolution is enkindled in him, a resolution to repair his botching, for he does not altogether despair of that. There is just a reminder of the will-glorification of Brand in the lines that follow.

RUBEK {struggling with himself, uncertainly}. If we could, oh, if only we could ….

IRENE. Why can we not do what we will?

In fine, the two agree in deeming their present state insufferable. It appears plain to her that Rubek lies under a heavy obligation to her, and with their recognition of this, and the entrance of Maja, fresh from the enchantment of Ulfheim, the first act closes.

RUBEK. When did you begin to seek for me, Irene?

IRENE {with a touch of jesting bitterness}. From the time when I realized that I had given away to you something rather indispensable. Something one ought never to part with.

RUBEK (bowing his head). Yes, that is bitterly true. You gave me three or four years of your youth.

IRENE. More, more than that I gave you — spendthrift as I then was.

RUBEK. Yes, you were prodigal, Irene. You gave me all your naked loveliness —

IRENE. To gaze upon —

RUBEK. And to glorify ….

* * * *

IRENE. But you have forgotten the most precious gift.