Early Plays by Henrik Ibsen - HTML preview
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[A thickly wooded hillside which leads up to higher mountain regions; in a deep ravine a swift river runs from the background out to the right; over the river lie some old logs and other remnants of a dilapidated bridge. Huge rocks lie scattered in the foreground; far away can be seen the summits of snow-capped mountain peaks. Evening twilight rests over the landscape; later on the moon appears.]
[THORGJERD stands on a rocky projection near the river
and listens to the various choruses which are heard
off the stage.]
CHORUS OF LADY KIRSTEN'S RETINUE. [Deep in the wood to the right.]
With ringing of bells we hurry along,
We wander in field and in dell;
O Christian, come, give heed to our song,
Awake from your magic spell.
RELATIVES OF ARNE OF GULDVIK. [Far away to the right.]
Now hasten we all
To the wedding hall;
The foal runneth light and gay!
The hoofs resound
On the grassy ground
As the merry swains gallop away!
LADY KIRSTEN'S RETINUE. [A little nearer than before.]
We conjure you forth from mountain and hill,
From the places which hold you bound.
Awake to our call, come, free your will
From elves that hover around!
[THORGJERD disappears in the ravine where the river runs; after a rapid interplay the choruses are heard much nearer.]
ARNE'S RELATIVES. Our way we shorten with jest and with song,
And all of the bridal night.
LADY KIRSTEN'S RETINUE. With tears we wander the whole day long,
We search to the left and the right.
ARNE'S RELATIVES. [In close proximity, yet still outside the
scene.] To wedding and banquet, to song and dance,
Both servants and hand-maidens throng.
LADY KIRSTEN'S RETINUE. [Nearer than before.]
Olaf Liljekrans! Olaf Liljekrans!
Why sleep you so deep and so long?
* * * * *
[ARNE of Guldvik appears with his relatives, men and women, minstrels, etc., in the background to the right on the other side of the river; they are all in festive attire. Shortly afterwards HEMMING from the same side.]
ONE OF THE RETINUE. See, here goes the way.
ANOTHER. No, here!
A THIRD. Not at all, it must be here.
ARNE OF GULDVIK. Well, well, are we now astray again!
ARNE OF GULDVIK. [Calls.] Hemming! Where is Hemming?
HEMMING. [Enters.] Here!
ARNE. Have I not told you to keep yourself close so as to be of some service to me?
HEMMING. It was Mistress Ingeborg--she wanted,--and so--
ARNE. [Annoyed.] Mistress Ingeborg! Mistress Ingeborg! Are you Mistress Ingeborg's maid? You are my page; it is me you shall serve. Do you not get your keep and wage therefor? Come, tell us where the way goes,--we are stuck.
HEMMING. [Uncertain.] The way? Well now, I am little acquainted up here, but--
ARNE. I might have known it,--that is always the service you give me! Well, we shall have to spend the night in the wilderness, as sure as I am Arne of Guldvik.
HEMMING. [Who has in the meantime spied the remnants of the bridge.] Aha, no need of that; here we can get across.
ARNE. Why didn't you tell us so in the first place?
[All cross the river and come forward on the stage.]
ARNE. [Looks about.] Yes, now I have my bearings again. The river there is the boundary between Lady Kirsten's dominions and mine.
ARNE. [Points to the left.] Down there lies her estate; in another hour or two we can sit cozily in the bridal house, but then we must hurry along.
ARNE. [Calls.] Ingeborg!--Hemming! Now where's Ingeborg?
HEMMING. In the rear, up on the hillside.
HEMMING. [Points to the right.] She is playing with her bridesmaids; they gather green twigs from the cherry trees and run about with joy and laughter.
ARNE. [Bitterly but in subdued voice.] Hemming! this wedding makes me sick; there are so many vexations about it.
ARNE. [Gazes out to the right.] There they run,--just look at them! It was she who hit upon the idea of going over the mountain instead of following the highway; we should reach our goal the sooner, she thought;--and yet notwithstanding--hm! I could go mad over it; tomorrow is she to go to the altar. Are these the decorous customs she ought to observe! What will Lady Kirsten say when she finds my daughter so ill disciplined?
ARNE. [As HEMMING starts to speak.] Yes, for that she is; she is ill disciplined, I say.
HEMMING. Master! You should never have married your daughter into Lady Kirsten's family; Lady Kirsten and her kinsmen are high-born people--
ARNE. You art stupid, Hemming! High-born, high-born! Much good that will do,--it neither feeds nor enriches a man. If Lady Kirsten is high-born, then I am rich; I have gold in my chests and silver in my coffers.
HEMMING. Yes, but your neighbors make merry over the agreement you have concluded with her.
ARNE. Ah, let them, let them; it is all because they wish me ill.
HEMMING. They say that you have surrendered your legal right in order to have Ingeborg married to Olaf Liljekrans; I shouldn't mention it, I suppose,--but a lampoon about you is going the rounds, master!
ARNE. You lie in your throat; there is no one dares make a lampoon about Arne of Guldvik. I have power; I can oust him from house and home whenever I please. Lampoon! And what do you know about lampoons!--If they have composed any songs, it is to the honor of the bride and her father!
ARNE. [Flaring up.] But it is a wretched bit of verse nevertheless, really a wretched bit of verse, I tell you. It is no man skilled in the art of poetry who has put it together, and if I once get hold of him, then--
HEMMING. Aha, master! then you know it too? Is there some one who has dared sing it to you?
ARNE. Sing, sing! Now don't stand there and delay me with your twaddle.
ARNE. [To the others.] Away, my kinsmen; little must we delay if we are to reach the bridal house before midnight. You should have heard what Hemming is telling. He says there is a rumor around that Lady Kirsten has baked and brewed for five whole days in honor of our coming. Is it not so, Hemming?
HEMMING. Aye, master!
ARNE. He says she owns not the beaker of silver so costly but she places it on the table shining and polished; so splendid a feast she has not prepared since the king came to visit her blessed lord twenty years ago. Is it not true, Hemming?
HEMMING. Aye, master!
HEMMING. [Whispering.] But, master, it is ill-thought to say such things; Lady Kirsten is proud of her birth; she thinks this marriage is somewhat of an honor to you; little you know how she intends to show herself to her guests.
ARNE. [Softly.] Ah, what nonsense!
ARNE. [To the others.] He says Lady Kirsten gives herself no rest; both day and night she is busy in pantry and cellar. Is it not--?
ARNE. [Startled as he looks out to the right.] Hemming! what is that? See here, who is that coming?
HEMMING. [With a cry.] Lady Kirsten Liljekrans!
ALL. [Astonished.] Lady Kirsten!
* * * * *
[The Preceding. LADY KIRSTEN comes with her HOUSE CARLS from the left.]
LADY KIRSTEN. [To her followers, without noticing the others.]
Now just a little farther and I am sure we shall find him.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Taken aback, aside.] Arne of Guldvik! Heaven help me!
ARNE. [As he goes to meet her.] The peace of God, Lady Kirsten Liljekrans!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Composes herself and gives him her hand.] The peace of God to you!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] Does he then know nothing?
ARNE. [Contentedly.] And well met at the boundary! Indeed, this pleases me; yet almost too great is the honor you show me.
LADY KIRSTEN. What mean you?
ARNE. I mean too great is the honor you show me, when you travel miles over fields and wildernesses in order to bid me welcome on your land.
LADY KIRSTEN. Ah, Lord Arne--
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] He knows nothing as yet!
ARNE. And that on a day like this, when you have enough things to attend to; 'tis at your house we celebrate the wedding of our children, since my estate lies too far from the church, and yet you come here to meet me with all your servants.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Embarrassed.] I beg you, say no more about that.
ARNE. Aye, I will speak of it loudly; the village people have said that you pride yourself on your noble birth, that you look down upon me and mine, and that you entered into the agreement only in order to put an end to the long-standing disputes which grew troublesome now that you have become a widow and begin to grow old; and if that had not been the case, you would never--
LADY KIRSTEN. How can you listen to what evil tongues invent? No more will we think of our differences which have lasted since the days of your ancestors. I think our families have suffered enough these years, yours as well as mine. Look around you, Lord Arne! Is not the hillside here like the wildest of upland pastures? And yet in our fathers' days it was a region much frequented and rich. A bridge there was across the river, and a highway from Guldvik to my father's house. But with fire and sword they sallied forth from both sides; they laid everything waste that they came upon, for it seemed to them that they were too near neighbors. Now all sorts of weeds grow in the highway, the bridge is broken, and it is only the bear and the wolf that make their homes here.
ARNE. Yes, they ran the road around the mountain below; it is a good deal longer and they could thus better keep an eye on one another; but there is little need of that now,--which is well and good for both of us.
LADY KIRSTEN. To be sure, to be sure! But Ingeborg, the bride, where is she?
I do not see her, and the bridesmaids likewise are lacking; surely she is not--
ARNE. She follows in the rear; she must shortly be here. But--listen, Lady Kirsten! One thing I will tell you, as well first as last, although, I should think, you know it. Ingeborg has at times whims and moods,--I swear to you she has them, however well disciplined she may be.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Expectant.] Well, what then?
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] Is she too--
ARNE. Such things you must tame; I, as her father, will never succeed, but you will no doubt find ways and means.
LADY KIRSTEN. Aye, rest you assured.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] And Olaf, who is nowhere to be seen!
HEMMING. [Who has looked out to the right.] There comes Mistress Ingeborg.
HEMMING. [Aside.] How fair she is advancing foremost in the group!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Slowly to her servants.] You will keep silent about your errand up here.
A SERVANT. You may be sure of that.
HEMMING. [Aside, sighing, as he continues to look out to the right.] Ah, happy is Olaf, who will have her!
* * * * *
[The Preceding. INGEBORG and the Bridesmaids come over the bridge.]
INGEBORG. [Still in the background.] Why do you run away from me? What good will that do? There can be no wedding anyway before I come.
INGEBORG. [Notices LADY KIRSTEN and her retinue.] Lady Kirsten! you here? Well, I am glad of that.
[Casually to the retinue.]
[To LADY KIRSTEN as she looks about.]
LADY KIRSTEN. Olaf!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] Woe is me! now it will out.
ARNE. Yes, Olaf, indeed! Ha, ha, ha! I must have been blind; 'tis well the bride sees better than I; for I have not noticed that the bridegroom is lacking; but now I understand very well how it comes that we meet here,--it is he who is causing--
LADY KIRSTEN. He--you mean--you know, that--
ARNE. I mean it has grown tedious for him down there in the festive hall. Aye, aye, I remember now my own wedding day; at that time I also was young. He has had a great desire to meet the bride, and accordingly he prevailed upon you to go with him.
LADY KIRSTEN. He greatly desired, to be sure, to meet the bride, but--
INGEBORG. But what?
LADY KIRSTEN. Olaf is not here with us.
HEMMING. [Approaches.] Not with you!
ARNE. And why not?
INGEBORG. Speak, I beg you!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Embarrassed and jestingly.] Truly, it appears the bride also is anxious! Come along, come along with me down to the bridal hall; there, I imagine he will be found.
HEMMING. [Whispering to ARNE.] Master! remember I gave you warning.
ARNE. [Suspiciously to LADY KIRSTEN.] First answer me; then shall we follow.
LADY KIRSTEN. Well then,--he is ridden out to the hunt.
LADY KIRSTEN. [As she is about to go.] Come, 'tis fast growing dark.
INGEBORG. To the hunt?
LADY KIRSTEN. Aye! Does that surprise you? You know the song of course:
"The knight likes to ride in the forest around, To test his horse and his hound!"
INGEBORG. Does he think so little of his young bride that he uses the wedding days to go hunting wild animals?
LADY KIRSTEN. Now you are jesting. Come along, come along!
ARNE. [Who has in the meantime kept his eye on LADY KIRSTEN and her retinue.] No, wait, Lady Kirsten! I hardly dare measure myself in wisdom with you, but one thing clearly I see, and that is that you are concealing your real errand up here.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Confused.] I? How can you think that?
ARNE. From one thing and another I can see you are concealing something.
You are strangely downcast, and yet you pretend to be playful in spirit; but it won't do--
LADY KIRSTEN. 'Tis nothing new for you to think ill of me and mine.
ARNE. Perhaps; but never did I do so without just cause.
ARNE. [Bursting out.] As sure as I live, there is something you are hiding from me.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] What will be the end of this?
ARNE. I let myself be fooled by you, but now I see clearly enough. You said you came to greet me at the boundary. How did you know we took the way over the mountain? It was Ingeborg who suggested this way just as we left Guldvik, and no one could have informed you about it.
ARNE. [When LADY KIRSTEN does not answer.] You are silent, as I might have known.
HEMMING. [In an undertone.] You see, master! Will you now believe what I said?
ARNE. [Likewise.] Hush!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Who has in the meantime composed herself.] Well and good, Lord Arne! I will be honest with you; let chance take care of the rest.
ARNE. Then tell us--
INGEBORG. What mean you?
LADY KIRSTEN. The agreement between us is sealed with word and with hand,--many honorable men whom I see here can bear witness to that: Olaf, my son, was to wed your daughter; tomorrow at my house the wedding was to be held--
ARNE. [Impatiently.] Yes, yes!
LADY KIRSTEN. Dishonor to him who breaks his word, but--
ARNE AND THE GUESTS.. What then! Speak out!
LADY KIRSTEN. There can be no wedding tomorrow as we had agreed.
ARNE. No wedding?
LADY KIRSTEN. It must be postponed.
HEMMING. Ah, shame and disgrace!
INGEBORG. No wedding!
ARNE. Cursed be you that you play me false!
THE GUESTS. [Threatening, as several of them draw their knives and rush in on Lady Kirsten's people.] Revenge! Revenge on the house of Liljekrans!
LADY KIRSTEN'S MEN. [Raise their axes and prepare to defend themselves.]
Strike too! Down with the men of Guldvik!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Throws herself between the contending parties.] Stop, stop; I pray you, stop! Lord Arne! hear me to the end ere you judge my conduct.
ARNE. [Who has tried to quiet his kinsmen, approaches LADY KIRSTEN and speaks in a low tone as he tries to overcome his inner agitation, which is nevertheless apparent.] Forgive me, Lady Kirsten! I was too quick in my wrath. Had I stopped to think I might surely have known the whole was a jest on your part; I beg you, do not contradict me, it must be so! No wedding tomorrow,--how could such a thing happen! If it is ale and mead you lack, or if you need silver or embroidered linens, then come you to me.
LADY KIRSTEN. It is no poor man's house that your daughter is marrying into, Lord Arne! Do you but come to the wedding with all your kinsmen and friends, aye, come with three times as many if you wish,--in my home you shall find plenty of room and banquet fare, as much as you may desire. Think not for a moment that such an inglorious reason could stand in my way.
ARNE. You have changed your mind, perchance?
LADY KIRSTEN. Nor that either! If I have given my word, then am I likewise ready to keep it, today just as well as tomorrow; for such was ever the custom and rule in my family. But in this instance it is not in my power; one there is lacking--
INGEBORG. One! Whom? Surely I should think that when the bride is ready,--
LADY KIRSTEN. For a wedding two people are needed, the groom as well as the bride--
ARNE AND THE GUESTS. Olaf!
INGEBORG. My betrothed!
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, he, my son--this night he is fled from his home and his bride.
ARNE. Fled! He!
LADY KIRSTEN. As I hope for the grace of heaven, I have no hand therein.
ARNE. [With suppressed exasperation.] And the wedding was to be tomorrow!
My daughter has put on her golden attire; invitations I have sent around in the district; my kinsmen and friends come from far away to attend the festive day.
ARNE. [Flaring up.] Ah, take you good care, if Arne of Guldvik is held up to scorn before his neighbors; it shall profit you little,--that I solemnly swear!
LADY KIRSTEN. You reason unjustly, if you think--
ARNE. 'Tis not, Lady Kirsten, for you to say so! We two have an old account to settle; it is not the first time that you set your cunning traps for me and mine. The race of Guldvik has long had to suffer, when you and your kinsmen plotted deception and guile. Power we had,--we had wealth and property too; but you were too crafty for us. You knew how to lure us with wily words and ready speech,--those are wares I am little able to reckon as I should.
LADY KIRSTEN. Lord Arne! Hear me, I pray!
ARNE. [Continuing.] Now I see clearly that I have behaved like the man who built his house on the ice-floe: a thaw came on and down he went to the bottom. But you shall have little joy of this. I shall hold you to account, Lady Kirsten! You must answer for your son; you it was who made love for him, and your affair it will be to keep the word you have given me! A fool I was, aye, tenfold a fool, that I put my faith in your glib tongue. Those who wished me well gave me warning; my enemies made me an object of scorn; but little heed gave I to either. I put on my gala attire; kinsmen and friends I gathered together; with song and laughter we set out for the festive hall, and then,--the bridegroom has fled.
INGEBORG. Never will I marry one who holds me so lightly.
ARNE. Be still!
HEMMING. [Softly to ARNE.] Mistress Ingeborg is right; best it is you break the agreement.
ARNE. Be still, I say!
LADY KIRSTEN. [To ARNE.] You may well be rilled with wrath and resentment; but if you think I meant to deceive you, you do me the greatest injustice. You think we are playing a game of deception with you. But tell me,--what would tempt me and my son to such a thing? Does he not love Ingeborg? Where could he choose him a better bride? Is she not fair and lithe? Is her father not rich and mighty? Is not her family mentioned with honor as far as it is known?
ARNE. But how then could Olaf--
LADY KIRSTEN. The lot I have suffered is worse than you think. You will pity me instead of growing angry when you have heard.--Since the sun rose this morning I have wandered up here to find him again.
ARNE. Up here?
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, up here; I must tell you--you'll be frightened--but nevertheless,--Olaf is bewitched in the mountain!
GUESTS. Bewitched in the mountain!
INGEBORG. [At the same time.] Deliver me, God!
ARNE. What say you, Lady Kirsten?
LADY KIRSTEN. He is bewitched in the mountain! Nothing else can it be.-– Three weeks ago, after the betrothal feast at Guldvik, he did not come home till far into the next day. Pale he was and moody and quiet as I had never seen him before. And thus the days went by; he spoke but little; he lay in his bed most of the time and turned his face to the wall; but when evening came on, it seemed a strange uneasiness seized him; he saddled his horse and rode away, far up the mountain side; but no one dared follow him, and no one knew where he went beyond that. Believe me, 'tis evil spirits that have charmed his mind; great is the power they wield in here; from the time the terrible plague overran the country it has never been quite safe in the mountain here; there is scarcely a day goes by but the chalet girls hear strange playing and music, although there is no living soul in the place whence it comes.
ARNE. Bewitched in the mountain! Could such a thing be possible?
LADY KIRSTEN. Would to God it were not; but I can no longer doubt it. Three days is it now since he last was at home.
ARNE. And you have seen none who knows where he is?
LADY KIRSTEN. Alas, no, it is not so easy. Up here a hunter yesterday saw him; but he was wild and shy as the deer; he had picked all sorts of flowers, and these he scattered before him wherever he went, and all the while he whispered strange words. As soon as I heard of this, I set out with my people, but we have found nothing.
INGEBORG. You met none who could tell you--
LADY KIRSTEN. You know of course the mountain-side is desolate.
ARNE. [As he spies THORGJERD, who rises from the river.] Here comes one will I ask.
HEMMING. [Apprehensively.] Master! Master!
ARNE. What now?
HEMMING. Let him go! Do you not see who it is?
THE GUESTS AND LADY KIRSTEN'S PEOPLE. [Whispering among themselves.] Thorgjerd the fiddler! The crazy Thorgjerd!
INGEBORG. He has learned the nixie's songs.
HEMMING. Let him go, let him go!
ARNE. No,--not even were he the nixie himself--
* * * * *
[THORGJERD has in the meantime gone to the edge of the stage to the left; at ARNE's last words he turns about suddenly as if he had been addressed.]
THORGJERD. [As he draws a step or two nearer.] What do you want of me?
ARNE. [Startled.] What's that?
HEMMING. Now see!
ARNE. Let me manage this.
ARNE. [To THORGJERD.] We seek Olaf Liljekrans. Have you met him about here today?
THORGJERD. Olaf Liljekrans?
LADY KIRSTEN. Why, yes,--you know him well.
THORGJERD. Is he not one of the evil men from the villages?
LADY KIRSTEN. Evil?
THORGJERD. They are all evil there! Olaf Liljekrans curses the little bird when it sings on his mother's roof.
LADY KIRSTEN. You lie, you fiddler!
THORGJERD. [With an artful smile.] So much the better for him.
ARNE. How so?
THORGJERD. You ask about Olaf Liljekrans? Has he gone astray in here?
You seek him and cannot find him?
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, yes!
THORGJERD. So much the better for him;--if it were a lie that I told, he will suffer no want.
INGEBORG. Speak out what you know!
THORGJERD. Then I should never be done!
THORGJERD. [Mischievously.] Elves and sprites hold sway here. Be you of good cheer! If you find him not he is at play with the elves; they are fond of all who love little birds, and Olaf, you said.... Go home,--go home again. Olaf is up in the mountain; he suffers no want.
LADY KIRSTEN. Curse you for saying such things!
ARNE. [To LADY KIRSTEN.] Do not heed what he says.
THORGJERD. [Approaches again.] I go hence now to tune my harp; Olaf Liljekrans is up in the mountain,--there shall his wedding be held.--Mad Thorgjerd must also be there; he can make tables and benches dance, so stirring is the music he plays. But you, take you heed; go you home again; it is not safe for you here.
Have you not heard the old saying:
Beware of the elves when they frolic around,
They may draw you into their play;
And all that you see and all that you hear
Will stay with your mind alway.
THORGJERD. [Suddenly breaking out with wild joy.] But here there are wedding guests,--ah! Each lady has on her very best gown, each man his very best coat,--now I see. Olaf Liljekrans is likewise a groom in the village,--there also he has a betrothed! Well, you have heard of such things before! I know that at any rate once, --it is years ago--but well I remember....
THORGJERD. [He continues after a moment's pause, more and more wildly.]
Sir Alvar and Ingrid had plighted their troth,
She was a sprightly maiden;
Three blessed long days they feasted and sang,
With jolly good wine they were laden.
The bride was fair and the bride was gay,
The dance of the guests she led,
When in came the nixie, the evil wight,
And sat on the edge of the bed.
Like a fiddler he sat on the edge of the bed,
And music bewitchingly played.
Around danced the benches and tables and all,
As lightly as servant and maid!--
The nixie he went through the open door,--
The truth it boots not to hide!--
And while he played on the harpstrings sweet,
There followed him ever--the bride!
THORGJERD. [Wildly, triumphantly.]
Fast in a spell lay knight and page,
The groom knew not whither to go,
The nixie made ready the bridal bed,
Little Ingrid's bed in the river below.
THORGJERD. [Suddenly becomes quiet and says softly.] That song I shall never forget!--But go you home, night is coming on, and when the sun is down the forest belongs to the others. Farewell! I shall take greetings to Olaf where he sits--in the mountain!
[Goes out to the left.]
* * * * *
[The Preceding except THORGJERD.]
ARNE. [To LADY KIRSTEN.] He lies! Do not believe him!
HEMMING. But it is nevertheless true,--the tale of the bride who disappeared on the eve of her wedding.
ARNE. Aye, that was many years ago; nowadays such things never happen.
But we'll all help to find him.
INGEBORG. It was not sung at my cradle that I should run about in forest and field to find my bridegroom.
ARNE. Be still!
INGEBORG. If he is enthralled in the mountain, then let her take him who has done it; I don't propose to share my betrothed's heart and soul.
HEMMING. [Softly and feelingly.] The Lord bless you for those words!
INGEBORG. [With a haughty look of dismissal.] What?
ARNE. Will you be silent, I say!
ARNE. [To the Guests.] Now quick, my good men! Spread out and search for him on every ridge and in every hillock! Away! Quite so! Tomorrow we drink to the wedding!
[The Guests and LADY KIRSTEN's People go out in different groups to the right and the left.]
ARNE. [Softly, to LADY KIRSTEN.] We must find him! It would cause me eternal shame if the wedding--
LADY KIRSTEN. Come, then, come!
INGEBORG. [Softly, to HEMMING, who stands downcast.] Why do you not go with the rest? Better it were that you brought me again my betrothed than stand here thus and bless me for words I really don't mean.
ARNE. [At the exit.] Come, come!
INGEBORG. [To HEMMING, who starts to go.] Wait, Hemming! Fasten my shoe buckle!
[LADY KIRSTEN and ARNE go out to the left.]
* * * * *
INGEBORG. [Puts her foot forward.] See there,--fasten it tight!
[HEMMING kneels and does her bidding.]
INGEBORG. [As she puts the other foot forward.] There,--buckle this one too!
Well, why do you bow your head? Has something gone wrong?
HEMMING. Do you demand that I shall speak honestly?
INGEBORG. Certainly I do.
HEMMING. Well, then you must know--
INGEBORG. [Quickly.] O no, it isn't necessary.
[She moves away a few steps; HEMMING rises.]
HEMMING. Alas, Lady Ingeborg! Once you were so kind to me; but now since you have become a real grown-up lady--and especially, I imagine, since you gave your betrothal vow--
INGEBORG. What then?
HEMMING. O nothing!--
HEMMING. Can you remember,--we have been up here once before?
INGEBORG. [Curtly.] I don't remember!
HEMMING. You had run after your spotted goat, and I followed you, as was always my custom,--yes, that was a long time ago, but I remember it as if it happened today; right down there lies the swamp, which--
INGEBORG. [Comes nearer.] Was it the time we heard the bear?
HEMMING. Yes, the very time.
INGEBORG. [Constantly becoming more animated.] I found the goat again.
HEMMING. No, it was I who first discovered it.
INGEBORG. Yes, yes, you are right; up there on the slope--
HEMMING. And then you took your garter.
INGEBORG. And bound it.
HEMMING. Yes, for we had come to pick strawberries.
INGEBORG. Over there on the hill, yes! And you had made me a birch-bark scrip.
HEMMING. But then it was we heard--
INGEBORG. The bear, ha, ha, ha! We had to cross the swamp just where it was the wettest,--
HEMMING. And then I took you in my arms.
INGEBORG. And jumped with me from tuft to tuft.
INGEBORG. [Laughing.] How frightened we were, the two of us!
HEMMING. Of course I was most frightened for your sake.
INGEBORG. And I for yours--
[Stops suddenly and as she continues to look at him her face assumes an imperious and wounded expression.]
INGEBORG. What is it you stand here and say? Why don't you go? Is it fitting to speak thus to your master's daughter? Go, go; you were to find my betrothed!
HEMMING. Alas, I forgot your betrothed; I forgot that you are my master's daughter.
INGEBORG. If you find him, I promise you an embroidered jacket for Christmas,--so pleased shall I be.
HEMMING. I don't want any jacket; I serve you neither for gold nor silver, neither for keep nor for knightly dress. But now I am off; what lies in my power I shall do, if I know it pleases you.
INGEBORG. [Who has climbed up on a stone and is picking some blossoming cherry twigs.] Hemming! how rich is my betrothed?
HEMMING. How rich he is I really can't say; but it is said of his grandsire in the song:
With golden attire he can provide
A hundred maids or more for his bride!
So mighty perhaps is not Olaf Liljekrans, but still he owns
both forest and field.
INGEBORG. [Still occupied.] And you, what do you possess?
HEMMING. [Sighing.] My poverty--is all I have.
INGEBORG. That isn't very much, Hemming!
HEMMING. No, it isn't very much, Mistress Ingeborg!
INGEBORG. [Hums, turned away from him, without changing her position, and still occupied as before.]
'Tis little my heart is attracted indeed
To him who has all the wealth he may need!
Much more I fancy the humble swain,
The friend of my heart he will ever remain!
HEMMING. [In the greatest joy.] Ingeborg! O, if what you say is true, I must tenfold bless my poverty.
INGEBORG. [Turns her head and speaks coldly.] I don't understand you; the song was only an ancient ballad.
[Comes down from the rock with the cherry twigs in her hand, and approaches him as she looks at him fixedly.]
INGEBORG. But I know another song too, and that I will sing for you: The king's court within stand the steeds so fair;
The suitor who lacks not the courage to dare,--
He shoes the yellow, he shoes the gray,
The swiftest he saddles before it is day!
He places his bride on the steed behind,
She follows him safe, she follows him blind.
He rides with her off, to the sea they hie,
With him she would willingly live and die!
HEMMING. [As though beside himself.] Ingeborg! Ingeborg! then nothing shall henceforth terrify me! Not that you have a betrothed, not that you are my master's daughter;--yea, as sure as I live, I shall steal you tonight!
INGEBORG. [Vehemently, as she constantly struggles to suppress a smile.] Help me, God! what is amiss with you? What is it you are thinking of? Will you steal your master's daughter? You must be sick or mad to conceive such a thing! Yet, it shall be forgotten--for this once. Go, now! and thank heaven you escape so lightly; for you have certainly earned a blow--
INGEBORG. [Raises the twigs, but lets them fall, and says in a changed tone.] – -and my red golden ring--see there, take it!
[Throws him a ring, which she has removed from her arm, and rushes out quickly to the left.]
* * * * *
[HEMMING. Shortly afterwards OLAF Liljekrans from the, background. The moon rises.]
HEMMING. The golden ring unto me she has granted,
Then still is she true, I am not deceived!
'Twas only in jest that she scolded and ranted
As though she were bitterly grieved.
All will I venture, no more will I dread!
HEMMING. [Despondent.] And yet, I am only a penniless swain, And early tomorrow is she to be wed!
HEMMING. [Quickly.] But into the forest the bridegroom is fled; O, if he should never come home again!
HEMMING. [Starts to rush out, but stops with a cry.]
Olaf! there is he!
[OLAF comes slowly forward between the rocks in the background. He walks dreaming, his head uncovered, and his hands full of flowers which he tears to pieces and scatters on the way; his whole behavior during the following indicates an unsettled mind.]
OLAF. [Without noticing HEMMING.]
If only I knew What she meant, could somehow the riddle unravel!
[Starts to go out to the left.]
HEMMING. Lord Olaf! Lord Olaf! O where do you travel?
O hear me, Lord Olaf!
OLAF. [Half awakening.]
Hemming! Is it you? Stand not in my way!
HEMMING. What is it that weighs
On your mind, that you wander in here for three days?
[Observes him more closely.]
HEMMING. And what is the game that here you do play,--
Your cheek is white, and your forehead is gray!
OLAF. Be not so amazed that my cheek is white,
Three nights have I fought so strange a fight;
Be not so amazed that my forehead is gray,
Three nights have I been in the elfen play.
HEMMING. Heaven protect us!
OLAF. I am ill, I am faint!
I remember neither devil nor saint!
Come, Olaf, with me to your mother's estate!
OLAF. My mother's estate! Where stood it of late?
'Tis here, as it seems, that I have my home!
The wood has become my ancestral hall,
The river's roaring, the pine-trees' moan,
Is sweeter to me than my mother's call.
OLAF. [With increasing rapture.]
Aye, here it is quiet! Aye, here it is fair!
Behold, my hall for the feast I prepare.
HEMMING. [Aside.] O what has come o'er him?
OLAF. Soon comes my bride!
HEMMING. Your bride! Then you know--?
OLAF. [Continuing.] When the day has died,
When slumber the birds, when fades the cloud,
Then here will she come so young and so proud!
HEMMING. [Crosses himself.]
All heavenly saints! I fear the worst!
OLAF. Know you when it was that I saw her here first?
I rode late one evening from Guldvik hall,
Some kind of feast I seem to recall.
My spirit was heavy, my heart full of woe!
That something had grieved me is all that I know.
I rode all alone up the mountain side,
At midnight I passed by the river so wide;
Then heard I beyond a melodious wail,
That rang like a song over mountain and dale.
It seemed a plaintive, bewitching lay;
I folded my hands, I tried to pray,
But tied was my tongue and my thoughts went astray;
The strains did beguile and lure me away.
'Twas now like weeping and now like laughter,
'Twas now full of mirth, and now ever after
As were it the cry of a perishing man,
As were it a soul in the anguish of death,
That I heard in the song so beguiling, that ran
Like a stream around me!--I scarce got my breath!
So sorely bewildered was I in my soul;
It was as if powers both gentle and strong
Enticed me and lured me away from my goal,
I needs must come up, I was carried along.
And ever rang out the mysterious call;
How far I rode on I no longer recall.
HEMMING. [Aside.] And the bride, of whom the minstrel sang,--she too had to follow--
OLAF. My foal stopped short, I awoke in a maze,
I looked around with a wondering gaze;
'Twas all so pleasant and fair! But what land
I was in I could not understand!
I stood in a valley;--a deep peace lay
Over all like dew in the night!
The moon on the edge of the tarn did play;
It seemed to laugh as it vanished away
In the rolling billows so bright!
My head was heavy, my spirit oppressed,
I yearned for nothing but sleep;
I laid me down 'neath a linden to rest
In the whispering forest so sweet!
HEMMING. Lord Olaf! Lord Olaf! How dared you do it?
I ventured then into the elf-maidens' play;
The fairest of maidens gave me a bouquet
Of snow-drops blue and of lilies white;
She pierced my soul with her glances so bright,
And whispered to me what nobody knows,--
A word I'll keep ever in mind:
"Olaf Liljekrans! know you where happiness grows,
Know you the hour when peace you will find?
Of all the flowers on the hill over yonder
Must you the fairest one find,
And bit by bit you must tear it asunder
And scatter it far to the wind,
Then--only then will you happiness find!"
HEMMING. You have slumbered and dreamed!
OLAF. That very same day
My mother's estate grew cramped and narrow!
Through thicket, o'er highway, I hastened away
To the grove so pleasant with bow and with arrow!
There met I again the elf-maiden fair.
HEMMING. [Steps back amazed.] When then,--have you wakened and found--?
OLAF. I took my betrothal ring, shot with it there
Right over her head, far into the air;
Now is she evermore bound!
HEMMING. And it is the bride you are waiting for here?
OLAF. Yes, yes, the bride; soon will she be near!
HEMMING. [Aside.] His soul is enthralled, his mind is ill; All this Lady Kirsten shall know!
HEMMING. [Aloud.] And dare you go wandering fearless up here In the hills?
OLAF. It is here so still,
'Tis sweetly I dream as I go!
[Goes slowly in between the huge rocks in front on the right.]
HEMMING. His wedding tomorrow his people prepare;
Yet for his betrothed he seems little to care;
'Tis little he knows that she is so near,
And less that she holds another one dear!--
He wanders around in the forest astray,
And Ingeborg gave me the golden ring!
His mother I'll seek without further delay;
The saints only know what the morrow will bring!
[Goes out to the left.]
* * * * *
[OLAF LILJEKRANS enters again from the right.]
OLAF. [As he tears to pieces some flowers he has gathered off
the stage.] "Of all the flowers on the hill over yonder
Must you the fairest one find;
And bit by bit you must tear it asunder,
And scatter it far to the wind,--
Then--only then will you happiness find!"
These mysterious words give my spirit no rest.
The fairest of flowers? And what is the test?
Where will it be found? Is its beauty revealed
In the fragrance or deep in the blossom concealed?
Or hid in some magic power that I never
Can possibly find if I search forever?
So may there be virtue in many a spear
Whose steel is rusty and out of gear;
So too may a harp that no longer sings
But hangs forgotten in the halls of mirth,
Hide in its forsaken and dusty strings
The strangest magic on earth.
* * * * *
[OLAF LILJEKRANS. ALFHILD from the back of the stage. She is fantastically dressed and adorned with flowers and garlands of leaves; she looks about anxiously until she discovers OLAF and runs joyfully to meet him.]
ALFHILD. O, stay, stay! Do not go away from me!
OLAF. [As if suddenly awakened to life.] Alfhild! my young and beautiful bride!
ALFHILD. Olaf! my handsome knight! I grew tired of waiting; I had to come here to meet you!
OLAF. But tell me, why are you always afraid to come here?
ALFHILD. I have so often told you that I never went beyond this valley until you visited me. My father has said that evil powers hold sway out there; only here among the mountains could I fare safely and without harm! O, let whatever power will hold sway; you are here, and that is enough for me! Come, let me look into your eyes! Truly, I have you again!
OLAF. Have me! Alas, Alfhild! You artful, you beautiful woman, indeed you have me again! My soul you have charmed so deeply, so deeply. Lead me whither and as far as you will, into the mountain, under the hill, to the grassy meadow, where song and refrain echo sweetly in the evening, on the bottom of the river, down under the rapids, where there are harps for powerful plaintive lays; wherever your home is, there I am ready to wander!
ALFHILD. Why speak you thus? You must surely know better than what you are saying.--Spirits and elves hold sway in mountain and hillock, and on the bottom of the river lives the nixie,--so father has said. Think you that I am an elf or--
OLAF. You are the fairest in the world; be you what you please, so long as you are mine!
ALFHILD. Were I an elfen maid, then truly, say I, it would fare with you ill!
ALFHILD. Yes, you! When you rode on your lonely path, I should go out to meet you and give you the drink of forgetfulness from the golden horn. I should mix therein my magic and charm so that you would forget both heaven and earth, forget where you were born and reared, what name you answered to, and where your kinsmen fared,--one thing alone should you remember, one thing alone should fill your mind and soul.
OLAF. Forsooth, then are you the elfen maid! For from the first hour you have practiced your magic on me.
ALFHILD. Have I?
OLAF. Through the meadow I rode, below where the river runs,--it was night and the songs and the plaintive lays echoed strangely around me....
OLAF. Bewildered I grew and lost my path; I wandered far, far in among the mountains; I discovered the beautiful valley, where no foot has trod, where no eye has feasted ere mine....
OLAF. A heavy slumber fell upon me in there; the elf maidens played in the meantime, and they drew me into their play....
OLAF. But when I awoke, there was affliction in my soul; homeward I rode, but down there I could no more be content; it seemed as if I had left behind me the richest and best in life, as if a wonderful treasure were held in store for me, if only I sought and found it....
OLAF. Up to the valley I had to go before I could find peace....
OLAF. You came to meet me, fair and glowing as in this hour; I seized your hand, I looked you in the eye--heaven and earth, the beauty of all creation, was in your eye!....
OLAF. Then I forgot both kinsmen and friends!....
OLAF. I came there the next night, I embraced you, I pressed you to my bosom,--the glory of heaven was in your embrace....
OLAF. --Then I forgot my Christian name and my forefathers' home....
OLAF. And I came the third night; I had to come; I kissed your red lips; my eyes burned their way into your soul.--More than the glory of creation was therein! I forgot more than God and home, more than heaven and earth. I forgot myself.
[Prostrates himself before her.]
OLAF. Alfhild! Alfhild!
ALFHILD. If it be a drink of forgetfulness which you speak of, then have I also charmed myself with it. I have fared as the minstrel who learned the nixie's songs in order to charm his sweetheart;--he charmed and charmed so long that at length the magic wove itself round his own soul too, and he could never win himself free therefrom.
[Stops and continues standing thoughtfully.]
OLAF. [As he rises.] What are you brooding over?
ALFHILD. High in the mountain there is a rocky ledge so steep that not even the eagle can fasten his claws thereon; there stands a lonely birch,--ill does it thrive, it is poor in leaves; but downward it bends its branches to the valley which lies far away; it is as though it longed for its sisters in the fresh and luxuriant grove, as though it yearned to be transplanted in the warm sunny life down below....
ALFHILD. Like the birch in the mountain was also my life; I longed to get away; I longed for you through the long, long years, even before I knew you existed. The valley became too cramped for me, but I did not know that beyond the mountains there was another valley like this one in here. The knights and the ladies that visited me every evening were not enough for me, and they told me nothing of the life beyond!
OLAF. Knights and ladies? You told me you never met any one there.
ALFHILD. No one like you! But every evening my father sang songs to me, and when the night came and my eyes were closed, they came to visit me, all those that live in my father's songs. Merry knights and beautiful ladies there were among them; they came with falcons on their hands, riding on stately steeds. They danced in the field, and laughter and merriment reechoed wherever they fared; the elves listened silently from behind each flower and the birds from the trees where they had fallen asleep. But with the coming of dawn they again disappeared; lonely I wandered; I decked myself with flowers and with green leaves, for I knew the next night they would come again. Alas, that life was after all not sufficient for me; a mighty longing rilled my bosom; it would never have been stilled if you had not come!
OLAF. You speak of your father; at no time did I see him in there!
ALFHILD. But seldom he comes now; he has never been there since the night we first met.
OLAF. But tell me, where is he?
ALFHILD. You have told me you rode late one summer night in the meadow where the river flows; there you heard strange songs which you only half understood, but which haunt and haunt you so that you will never forget them.
OLAF. Yes, yes!
ALFHILD. You once heard my father's songs! It is on them that I have been nourished. In truth, neither have I fully understood them; they seemed to me to be the most precious treasure, to be life itself; now they mean little to me; they are to me but a token of all the glory that was to come. In all of them was there a handsome knight; I imagined him to be the best and most glorious thing in all the valleys, the best and most glorious as far as bird can fly, as far as clouds can sail. Olaf! it was you,--I know you again! Oh, you must tell me of your home, of the distant valley whence you come; life out there must be rich and glorious; there it must be that my birds all fly with the falling of the leaves; for when they again come to visit me, they have so much to tell that is strange, so many a marvel to sing about, that all the flowers begin to bud and to blossom, the trees to grow green, and the big and glorious sun to rise early and go tardily to rest, in order to listen to all the stories and songs. But little grasp I of all that they tell; you must interpret it for me, you must make everything clear that inwardly craves an answer.
OLAF. Little am I able to answer what you ask of my home. My home? If I have had a home other than this, then I remember but little about it. It is all to me like a misty dream which is forgotten in the hour we waken. Yet, come! far below us there lies a village; there it seems I remember I wandered before I saw you; there it seems to me that my kinsmen live. Do you hear how the river conjures and rushes; let us follow it; out on the ledge near the waterfall we can overlook the village where I--once had my home. Come, come!
ALFHILD. But dare I--
OLAF. Follow and trust me, I shall protect you!
ALFHILD. I am ready; I know it well enough; whether I wished to or not, I must follow you wherever you go.
[They go out to the right.]
CHORUS OF WEDDING GUESTS AND LADY. KIRSTEN'S PEOPLE
(From the forest to the left.)
Awake to our call, come free your will
From elves that hover around!
* * * * *
[LADY KIRSTEN and HEMMING enter from the left.]
HEMMING. Here he was;--why--now he is gone!
LADY KIRSTEN. And he said he was waiting for the bride who was to come?
HEMMING. Yes, but whom he had in mind I could not quite make out; for his speech was strangely incoherent. Ingeborg he did not mean,--that is certain.
LADY KIRSTEN. Say nothing, good Hemming! say nothing of what he just said! You did well to let me alone know he was here. You shall be richly rewarded for this, but first we must find him again--
HEMMING. [As he looks out to the right.] See,--see there, in the moonlight, on the hill near the river,--yes, surely I think--
LADY KIRSTEN. Hush, hush, it is Olaf!
HEMMING. There are two; a woman is with him--
LADY KIRSTEN. Heavenly saints!
HEMMING. He is pointing out the village as if--there they go!
LADY KIRSTEN. Call Lord Arne and our people! We will meet again here; I bring Olaf with me!
HEMMING. But dare you then--?
LADY KIRSTEN. Do as I say; but say nothing of what you have heard and seen. You can say that Olaf came up here to hunt deer and bear, and that he went astray in the mountain.
HEMMING. You can rely on me, Lady Kirsten!
[Goes out to the left.]
LADY KIRSTEN. Is it true, then? Have evil sprites gained control over him? Yes, so I can pretend to Arne of Guldvik, but little I believe it myself;--and yet it is said it happened often enough in the days gone by. But it is elfen maids no doubt of flesh and blood that--. There he goes down to the river,--I must hasten!
[Goes out to the right in the background.]
CHORUS. [From the forest to the left.]
With ringing of bells we hurry along,
We wander in field and in dell!
O Christian, come, give heed to our song,
Wake up from your magic spell!
* * * * *
[OLAF and ALFHILD come in from the right in the background. Later LADY KIRSTEN.]
ALFHILD. O, you must tell me still more of the world!
Your words to my soul are refreshing indeed;
It seems as if here in the wonders you tell
My innermost longings you read!....
Did you ne'er on a summer night sit by a tarn,
So deep that no one could fathom it quite,
And see in the water the stars so bright,
Those knowing eyes that express with their flickering light
Much more than a thousand tongues could possibly say?
* * * * *
I often sat thus; I sought with my hands to capture
The sparkling riddles below in the deep--
I snatched after them, I would see them close,
Then they grew blurred like eyes that weep,--
It is idle to search and to seek--
* * * * *
So too in my soul there was many a riddle
I yearned to solve in the days that are gone!
They tricked me as did all the stars in the deep,
Grew stranger and stranger the more I brooded thereon!
OLAF. Am I not to myself a mysterious riddle?
Am I Olaf Liljekrans, the nobly born,
The knight so proud, who vaunted his race,
Who laughed the singing of birds to scorn!
And yet, from my heart I tear what I was!
Happy I am,--and that can I understand--
Your prophecy failed,--I should happiness find,
When the fairest of flowers I had found in the land.
Ah! happiness here I have found!
ALFHILD. I prophesied nothing.
But--tell me more of the life that is yonder!
OLAF. The life that is yonder may go its own way;
Here is my home; with you will I wander,
My lovely wife! Alfhild, behold!
Is it not as if here in the mountainous fold
Were built for us two a bower so fair!
The snowdrops in splendor stand garbed everywhere;
In here there is feasting, there is joy, there is mirth,
More real than any I have found on this earth!
The song rings out from the river so deep;
It is that which makes me both laugh and weep!
The song of magic, the mysterious lay,
Has made me so free, so happy and gay!
[Seizes her passionately in his arms.]
OLAF. Farewell to the village below I say!
'Tis here that my bridal-bed I shall prepare;
Farewell to the world forever and ay,--
For here I shall hold my beautiful bride!
ALFHILD. [Moves away apprehensively.] Olaf!
OLAF. [Stops suddenly, as if seized with a vague and painful remembrance.]
My bride! What is it I say!
Tell me--when first--I happened this way--
Can you still remember the very first night?
What was it I sought?--No longer I know!
Did I come to fetch you--to--the village below?
Did I come the wedding guests to invite?
ALFHILD. What mean you? Wedding? I can't understand--?
OLAF. Our betrothal at Guldvik was held, you remember!
For three weeks thereafter our wedding was planned--
But it seems to me that,--no, my brow like an ember
Burns hot! I will try no more to remember!
CHORUS. [Softly and far in the forest.]
Olaf Liljekrans! Olaf Liljekrans!
Why sleep you so deep and so long?
ALFHILD. Hush, Olaf! do you hear?
OLAF. Did you hear it too?
ALFHILD. What was it?
OLAF. A memory of long ago,
Which often comes back when I wander with you!
'Tis evil,--it calls from the village below.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside, as she enters from the rear of the stage unobserved by the others.]
Ah, there! He speaks; could I understand--!
OLAF. [With increasing vehemence.]
Yes, yes, I come; not alone will I ride!
For ladies and knights shall heed my command,
And come hither with song to greet my bride!
For you shall be saddled my swiftest steed,
The poet and minstrel shall ride in the lead,
Thereafter shall follow the steward and priest,
The people shall all be bid to the feast!
Pages so courtly shall guide your steed,
And beautiful flowers be strewn at your feet,
The peasant shall bow to the ground like a weed,
His wife shall curtsy to you as is meet!
The church bell shall ring to the countryside:
Now rides Olaf Liljekrans home with his bride!
CHORUS OF WEDDING GUESTS. [Animated, yet softly, in the forest to the left.]
Now hasten we all
To the wedding hall!
The foal runneth light and gay!
The hoofs resound
On the grassy ground,
As the merry swains gallop away!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside during the chorus.]
Heaven he praised then! Hemming has told--!
They come, they come, their voices I hear!
How sweetly it sounds! O Olaf, behold!
LADY KIRSTEN. Olaf, my son!
[Rushes to him unobserved by ALFHILD, who continues to look out to the left.]
OLAF. God help me! What's here!
LADY KIRSTEN. My poor unfortunate son!
Now are you saved from the evil one!
There comes Lord Arne with Ingeborg, your wife!
OLAF. [With a cry and as if suddenly awakening.]
Ingeborg!--With that have you shattered my life!
My happiness then was not what it seemed!
Alas, that you had to inform me of this!
OLAF. [In despair.]
Dear mother! a beautiful dream I have dreamed;
You waken me now,--there's an end to my bliss!
* * * * *
[The Preceding. ARNE, INGEBORG, HEMMING, WEDDING GUESTS, and LADY KIRSTEN from the left.]
ARNE. Good luck, Lady Kirsten, to you! You have found him again, I am told.
LADY KIRSTEN. Of course I have found him.--And now for home!
ARNE. [To OLAF.] And no harm has been done you?
OLAF. [Absent-minded.] Me! What do you mean?
LADY KIRSTEN. [Interrupting.] Of course not, Lord Arne! He went astray on the hunt and--
INGEBORG. [Pointing to ALFHILD.] But this young woman--?
LADY KIRSTEN. A poor child! She has given him lodging and shelter.
ARNE. But there is no one who lives up here.
LADY KIRSTEN. Yet a stray one here and there! There is many a solitary family still dwells among the mountains since the time of the plague.
ARNE. Then come, come! The horses are waiting below on the hill.
OLAF. [Painfully, as he glances at ALFHILD.] O mother! I cannot!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Softly and resolute.] You must! It will be your eternal shame if you--
ARNE. What does he mean?
LADY KIRSTEN. He is sick and tired as yet, but it will pass off. Come!
LADY KIRSTEN. [With a significant look at OLAF.] The young woman comes too!
INGEBORG. You mean that she--!
LADY KIRSTEN. Faithfully has she nursed him; it is only fitting that she be rewarded.
ARNE. And tomorrow the wedding is held!
LADY KIRSTEN. Tomorrow,--that I solemnly swear!
ARNE. I have your word!
HEMMING. [Softly and triumphant, as he brings forth the ring.]
And I have Ingeborg's golden ring!
INGEBORG. [Takes the ring from him and says carelessly.]
My ring! Aha,--so you have my ring, Hemming! Thanks, I shall now take care of it myself!
[HEMMING stands a moment dumfounded and then follows very slowly the rest, who all except ALFHILD go out to the left.]
* * * * *
[ALFHILD. Shortly afterwards THORGJERD from the background.]
ALFHILD. (Has observed in silent and childlike amazement the preceding scene without however heeding the action; when they are gone she suddenly comes to herself as from a dream.)
They are gone! Can I trust my eyes;--is it true?
Yes, here in the moonlight they stood in full view!
There I see them again down the mountain side,
And I must go with them, for I am the bride!
[Starts as if to rush out to the left.]
THORGJERD. [In the background.]
Alfhild! my child! And how come you here?
I have told you before--
ALFHILD. O my father dear!
Now must I be free--as free as the wind,
No longer can I in the hills be confined!
THORGJERD. [Comes nearer.] What has befallen you?
ALFHILD. [In ecstasy.] Now is he come!
THORGJERD. But who?
ALFHILD. The fair knight! He will carry me home!
Now first do I grasp all the restless desire,
That long has been smouldering in me like fire!
We often have sat, as the river rushed by,
While you sang of the princess enthralled in the hill!
The princess, my father! the princess am I;
But he, the fair knight, bent the troll to his will!--
And now I am free to do what I may;
I will hence into life and its motley affray!
His words were like song! I am free as the wind;
No power can stay me or hold me behind!
THORGJERD. Poor child! You would down to the village below;
It will cost you your happiness; stay, do not go!
ALFHILD. But, father, I must! Your sweetest lays
Will seem to me now like a misty haze!
THORGJERD. Then go, my Alfhild! and dream while you may,
Your father will guard you alway!
But look you take care of the crafty young swains
With words so cunning and free!
ALFHILD. Away in the distant and sunny domains,--
Where Olaf is, there must I be!
There stands his castle with golden hall!
From the ballads you sang his face I recall;
The king's son is he, the knight who can ride,
And I, the poor Alfhild,--I am his bride!
Poor, did I say,--no, the princess on high,
O, more than the princess,--his sweetheart am I!
[The wedding chorus is heard far down the mountain side.]
ALFHILD. Listen, he calls with his trumpet and horn!
Farewell now, forest and flower and thorn!
Farewell, my valley; you have cramped me too long,
The whole world is calling with laughter and song!
Tomorrow attired in gold I shall ride
Away to the church as Olaf's bride!
We shall sit on the throne of honor within--
Ah, now shall my life in its fulness begin!
[She rushes out to the left. THORGJERD gazes after her thoughtfully. The chorus dies away in the distance as the curtain falls.]
* * * * *