The Stronger By August Strindberg
MADAM X: 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.That’s the reason I had to embroider tulips—which I hate—on his slippers, because you are fond of tulips; that’s why 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 cafL;—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.