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Title: Sword and crozier, drama in five acts
Author: Indriði Einarsson, 1851-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sword and crozier, drama in five acts" ***

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Poet Lore

VOLUME XXIV          VACATION, 1912        NUMBER IV


Drama in Five Acts


(Authorized translation from the Icelandic by Lee M. Hollander)


BOTOLF, bishop of Holar

KOLBEIN ARNORSSON 'THE YOUNG,' chieftain of the 'North Quarter of
Iceland,' thirty-four years old

HELGA, his wife

SALVOR, woman physician

ASBJORN ILLUGASON } Henchmen of Kolbein Arnorsson

KOLBEIN KALDALJOS, kinsman of Kolbein Arnorsson and steward of the
bishopric of Holar, seventy years old

BRAND KOLBEINSSON, his son, chieftain of Reynistad, thirty-three years

JORUN, his wife

KALF,   eight years old } their sons
THORGEIR, six years old }

BRODDI THORLEIFSSON, brother-in-law of Kolbein Arnorsson

SIGURD, deacon

HELGI SKAFTASON } henchmen of Brand


HELGI, priest at Holar

ILLUGI, the blind beggar


Followers of Thorolf Bjarnason, of Brand, and of Kolbein Arnorsson.
People of Holar in Hjaltadel.

The scene is laid in the district of Skagafirth, in the North of
Iceland. The action takes place during the winter previous to the battle
of Hunafloi, 1244 A.D.



(_So-called 'Little Hall' in_ BRAND'S _manor-house at Reynistad. Enter
RICH, _of Vik_.)

_Deacon Sigurd_.--Thorolf, Lady Jorun bade you wait here until her
husband comes.

_Thorolf_.--Where is Brand Kolbeinsson? I bear a message for him from my
Lord Kolbein the Young.

_Sigurd_.--Why comes he not himself?

_Alf_.--Kolbein is nigh unto d----

_Thorolf_.--Are you garrulous again, Alf?

_Sigurd_.--He lies sick with his wound, I ween.

_Thorolf and Alf_ (_remain silent_).

_Einar the Rich_ (_aside_).--That news I ought to bring secretly to
Thord Kakali.

_Thorolf_.--Why will Lady Jorun not speak to her guests?

_Sigurd_.--She bade me say that she had seen you last, Thorolf
Bjarnason, at such business that she cares not to see you any more.

_Thorolf_ (_laughs_).--Last I saw her at the slaying of Kalf
Guttormsson, her father, and of Guttorm, her brother.

_Sigurd_.--Much good reason has my lady if she cares to see you no more.

_Einar_.--You are the man who most egged on to the deed, that father and
son should be slain.

_Thorolf_.--No, Urækja it was, the son of Snorri Sturlason. A most
useful deed it was. Ever since Kolbein's men have obeyed his commands
without gainsaying.

_Einar_.--More useful still, I suppose you think that you snatched from
out of Kalf's hands the crucifix he held when kneeling to receive the
mortal stroke.

_Thorolf_.--His blood would have spurted on the cross, had it been held
so near. (_Wrathfully_.) And likewise would I do to you, Einar the
Rich, if Kolbein struck off your head. Your wife is a kinswoman of Thord
Kakali, and dreamt have I that you will find an earlier grave than will

_Einar_.--An evil business it is to threaten me with death. No one knows
who will be buried first. A faithful follower of Kolbein I have been.

_Thorolf_.--'Scarce shall I trust you,
             Troll, quoth Haustkoll.'

_Sigurd_.--Wicked speech this is and witless.


_Brand_.--You here, Thorolf Bjarnason?

_Thorolf_.--Ay, sir; and with a message for you, for Broddi, and for
other chieftains, from Kolbein the Young.

_Brand_.--Is it that Thord Kakali is expected from the West with war?

_Thorolf_.--Not to my knowledge. He is still busy drinking the arvel
after Tumi his brother, whom we put to death this last week!

_Alf_.--Yes, and he and his men are now drinking the ale by the bowlful,
they say.

_Brand_.--What of it, if Thord does give his men in plenty?

_Thorolf_.--And why should we not speak of it, we who know what folly it
is for men to drink heavily before going to war?

_Einar_.--A generous chieftain is Thord Kakali, and likely to accomplish
great deeds. No chieftain in this land has ever lost so many men as has
he. It is not seeming to make sport of his sorrow.

_Thorolf_.--None have I ever seen flee so fast as these men of Thord's,
they urge each other on to flight.

_Brand_.--Idle speech is this, Thorolf!

_Thorolf_.--I say what I will, and care not whether others like it or

_Broddi_.--Where is the message my brother-in-law sends us?

_Thorolf_ (_handing the letter to_ BRAND).--I have lived all my life in
warfare and am not able to read.

_Brand_ (_handing the letter to_ DEACON SIGURD).--Read for us, deacon!

_Einar the Rich_ (_while_ SIGURD _is undoing the strings with which the
parchment is tied, aside to_ ALF OF GROF).--I know you are no friend of
Thorolf; stay behind here and help me to persuade Brand Kolbeinsson.

_Alf_ (_aside to_ EINAR THE RICH).--Broddi and all of Thorolf's
neighbors hate him because he elbows himself forward ruthlessly. Against
my will I left my home with Thorolf; but how shall I help you?

_Einar_ (_aside to_ ALF).--Help me dye Thorolf's white coat of mail as
red as blood.

_Alf_ (_aside_).--Hush! We would have to fight against great odds.

_Einar_ (_aside_).--Not if Brand Kolbeinsson were on our side.

_Alf_ (_aside_).--Brand--indeed! No, if Broddi Thorleifsson were with

_Sigurd_ (_has now untied the parchment, reads_).--'To Brand Kolbeinsson
of Stad, to Broddi Thorleifsson, to Kolbein Kaldaljos, and to Paul
Kolbeinsson, Kolbein Arnorsson of Flugumyr sends God's greetings and his
own. Little we know of Thord Kakali's affairs after Easter. After the
slaying of his brother Tumi it is but likely that he is preparing for
war against us, and in such case, if he came upon us from the West, we
of the North Quarter would want to subject him to a severe test. But now
it is so ill with our health that we may no longer conceal it from you.
Because of this it is our will that all of you meet me here as soon as
possible. Only in this wise may we prevent the danger now threatening
both the entire quarter and our district.'

_Brand_.--To what danger to the district does the letter refer? Is
Kinsman Kolbein sick anew, then?

_Thorolf_.--Answer that yourself; but well may these words mean that it
were better now to take off the 'velvet glove' and bestir one's hands.

_Brand_ (_angrily_).--Get you gone, Thorolf, at once! Astonishing it
is that you should be sent hither to Stad, such enemies as we two have

_Thorolf_.--My course I shall steer wheresoever it take me, whether or
no you like it, Brand Kolbeinsson. To horse, yeoman Alf!

_Alf_.--Unwillingly I followed you, Thorolf, and left my farm work
behind. Take with you the two companions that always have followed
you--death and the devil!

_Thorolf_.--Right, you insolent fool, death has ever been my companion.
(BRAND KOLBEINSSON _goes to the door and opens it_.) Now you precede me
to the door, Brand Kolbeinsson, for higher-born than I you are. But in
all tests of manhood, in assemblies and in battles, I have gone before
you. There is no danger in going before me now; it is quite safe!

_Broddi_.--An astonishing thing it is that base men should dare to speak
in such wise to chieftains!

_Brand_.--He is a greater friend of my kinsman Kolbein than any other

_Einar_.--And in greater favor even with Lady Helga than with Kolbein.

_Sigurd_.--He journeyed to Rome with Kolbein. Such a pilgrimage atones
for many a sin.

(_Enter_ LADY JORUN _with her and_ BRAND'S _sons_, KALF _and_ THORGEIR.)

_Jorun_.--What errand brought Thorolf Bjarnason hither to Stad?

_Brand_.--Kolbein the Young sent him.

_Jorun_.--Then we shall have to put up with that insult.

_Alf_.--Your husband he called a 'velvet glove!'

_Jorun_.--Gentle have his hands ever been to me, and I might well call
him so.

_Alf_.--And a coward he called him.

_Jorun_.--Slower he is to ill deeds than Thorolf.

_Einar_.--_Me_ Thorolf threatened with death, and to wrench out of my
hands the crucifix, whenever I should lie down for the blow, just as he
did to Kalf Guttormsson.

_Jorun_ (_moved to tears_).--Was that done to my father?

_Sigurd_.--It was indeed done to him, and a mighty ill deed it was.

_Jorun_.--I had not thought that men who were to lose their lives would
be thus cruelly dealt with.

_Alf_.--These men have indeed done enough to forfeit _their_ lives, and
ought to live no longer.

_Helgi Skaftason_.--If no one can be prevailed upon to kill them I shall
undertake it.

_Alf_.--No one's duty it is as much as yours, Brand Kolbeinsson, to take
revenge for the murder of Kalf Guttormsson.

_Jorun_.--Let no one be so bold as to seek revenge for my father. Full
composition did Kolbein the Young pay for reconciliation, after the
death of father and son, with the fine of hundred marks silver, which
were paid out to my mother and me as stipulated.

_Einar_.--And yet might Brand and others take revenge for the
wrongs they have suffered at the hands of Thorolf, even though Kalf
Guttormsson's death be atoned for.

_Jorun_.--Do not undertake so dangerous an enterprise, my husband. Well
you know that if you slay Thorolf his friend Kolbein will slay you all
in revenge.

_Alf_.--Kolbein lies nigh unto death.

_Broddi_.--Is his condition so dangerous?

_Brand_.--Why, have you not told news so important and so--sad until

_Alf_.--I could not, on account of Thorolf. Kolbein holds his malady
secret as long as he can.

_Brand_.--Then my kinsman Kolbein must have summoned us to dispose of
his dominions before he dies.

_Sigurd_.--That is, all the North Quarter and the Westfirths!

_Brand_.--About the Westfirths we have been at war until now.

_Einar_.--And his heir? (_All look at_ BRAND.) They say that it is the
wish of Lady Helga to set Thorolf Bjarnason over all the dominions.

_Many_.--Thorolf Bjarnason?


_Broddi_.--It would mean the death of one man or many men.

_Brand_.--Helgi Skaftason, have the saddles laid upon twelve horses! I
and eleven men shall ride forthwith to Flugumyr. (_Exit_ HELGI.)

_Kalf_.--Lay saddle on my horse also. I shall ride to Flugumyr to my

_Broddi_.--What will you of her, my young fellow?

_Kalf_.--I want to get the weapons she has promised to give me.

_Jorun_.--No weapons, Kalf! You will not go to Flugumyr, this time;
rather too long you have been there as a child. (_Towards_ BRAND
KOLBEINSSON.) My husband, remember my words. To kill one of my kinsman
Kolbein's or Lady Helga's men is to conjure up odds against you,
whatever be the provocation. (_Exit with the boys_.)

_Broddi_.--Never shall that come to pass that a man of low birth govern
so large a dominion. (_Exeunt all_.)


(_Room at Flugumyr_. LADY HELGA _and the woman physician_ SALVOR

_Helga_.--I have much to do about the house and can attend the patient
but little. How is my husband, Salvor?

_Salvor_.--Rather poorly! He is now confessing to Bishop Botolf, Lady

_Helga_.--Confessing? Did he speak about the disposition of his
dominions after his death?

_Salvor_.--The bishop touched upon that, but Kolbein said that this
would have to wait until his kinsmen were assembled.

_Helga_.--To what purpose is the advice of his kinsmen in that matter? I
see how it will end.

_Salvor_.--I have hopes that your husband will again recover his health
this time.

_Helga_.--And how long will he keep it then?

_Salvor_.--So long as he stirs not.

_Helga_.--My husband will have to go to war and do battle as long as he

_Salvor_.--Now he longs for peace.

_Helga_.--Then is he surely sick! (_Vehemently_.) My husband must not be
sick; he will have to speak with his kinsmen, when they come. Give him
strong drugs that he may have strength to do so. His sickness must not
become known in the Westfirths by Thord Kakali.

_Salvor_.--Such strong drugs are not without danger.

_Helga_.--What danger is there in them?

_Salvor_.--That he loses possession of his senses, and becomes even more
sick thereafter.

_Helga_ (_vehemently_).--His kinsmen must not know that he is sick, or
else they will take matters in their own hands. He will have to have
drugs so strong as to give him strength to hold council with them.

_Salvor_.--But if he loses possession of his senses during it?

_Helga_ (_with a look of relief_).--Let me take care of that. Then I
shall speak for him, for all his intentions are known to me.

_Salvor_.--My advice it is not to use strong drugs; they may endanger
Kolbein's life.

_Helga_.--Will you, low-born woman, give advice to a great?

_Salvor_.--Why seek you then a low-born woman to heal the great?

_Helga_.--I knew none better. Do as I bid you!

_Salvor_.--I shall do as you bid, my lady. You run the risk, not I.

(_Enter_ THOROLF.)

_Thorolf_.--Hail, lady! How is the chieftain's health?

_Helga_.--Rather good! Salvor says he will not be able to bear going
into war for the first.

_Thorolf_.--Kolbein has a-plenty of men to lead his troops.

_Salvor_.--Brand Kolbeinsson--

_Thorolf_.--He, the velvet glove! Whilst Kolbein was on his foray to
Reykholar and slew Tumi--a feat now famous--Brand was to dispatch old
Sturla Thordsson--the fellow who mostly goes about with ink on his
fingers. But Sturla gulled him so that Brand had to return with shame.
Brand lacks both forethought _before_ battle and that fire _in_ battle
which wins the victory.

_Salvor_.--Brand Kolbeinsson is a man of peace.

_Helga_.--You shall stay here at Flugumyr now, Thorolf, whilst my
husband is in ill health. Brand Kolbeinsson would be but a low wall
between us and Thord Kakali, should he advance from the West.

_Thorolf_.--So long have I been one of your household, my lady, that I
am bound to obey. But who shall take care of the shipbuilding which I
have under way for Kolbein the Young?

_Helga_.--Your wife Arnfrid; for this is not a place for women to be at.

_Salvor_.--The ships that are to be used for carrying our war into the
Westfirths this spring?

_Thorolf_.--Yes. This spring we shall lay waste the Westfirths, kill
cattle and people, burn down storehouses, farms, and churches, and
slay all men we overtake. Thord shall not be able to hold himself there

_Salvor_.--Holy mother of God! Why are the people to suffer all that
misery and affliction! Have there not been enough maimings and killings
in the Westfirths? Be mindful, Thorolf, that you, too, may be taken
captive and your bright coat of mail get a red collar.

_Thorolf_.--Often have I thought of it. But he who lets himself be kept
back by such thoughts had better never venture into danger.

_Helga_.--Go now, Salvor, and attend to the patient! (_Exit_ SALVOR.)
The life of my husband is in great danger!

_Thorolf_. (_coming close to her_).--And shall I then become the Lord of

_Helga_ (_motioning him away_).--Kolbein the Young still lives. Whilst
he is living the disposition of the dominions remains his matter. It
may well be, though, that I succeed in making him give you Eyafirth, and
then more people from here would settle there than are there now. Then
I shall foster up young Kalf, the son of Brand, because he will inherit
Skagafirth from his father; and while he is young, and I gain influence
over him, it may happen that the men of Skagafirth and Eyafirth would
work in unison in all undertakings, and rule the entire country alone.

_Thorolf_.--Certainly! Certainly!

_Helga_.--Swear allegiance to me, Thorolf!

_Thorolf_.--I have ever been faithful to you.

_Helga_.--Will you be obedient to me, Thorolf?

_Thorolf_.--Yes, gladly (_kisses her hand_), now as always before.

_Helga_ (_gently_).--You have always been true to me, and that shall be
rewarded as soon as ever I can.

HELGI SKAFTASON, _together with six others_.)

_Brand_.--Hail, lady!

_Helga_.--Hail, my nephew! Hail, all of you! My husband has been
expecting you with impatience.

_Einar_ (_aside_).--Now we shall see how sick a man Kolbein is.

_Helga_.--We pray you all to say the least possible about the infirmity
of my husband; I have no more than sixty armed men about me.

_Broddi_.--And who is their leader?

_Helga_.--Thorolf Bjarnason, Asbjorn Illugason, and Haf Bjarnason.

_Broddi_.--And Thorolf Bjarnason remains here?

_Thorolf_.--First I shall return to my estate to give orders as to my

_Helga_ (_aside to_ THOROLF).--You speak incautiously, to tell them
where you mean to go. I read your death in their eyes.

_Alf_.--You will not refuse me to keep you company on the way home?

_Thorolf_.--No; I care not to have your company, you insolent fool!

_Helga_.--You will remain here with us, Thorolf, on account of the
infirmity of my husband and our defencelessness otherwise; you can send
some one else to arrange matters on your estate.

(LADY HELGA _and those about her exeunt by door_. BRODDI, ALF, _and_
EINAR THE RICH _remain behind in the foreground_.)

_Broddi_.--Lady Helga has become suspicious of us.

_Einar_.--Sharp are the eyes of my Lady Helga whenever Thorolf is

_Alf_.--He has slipped from our grasp, the hellhound!

(KOLBEIN THE YOUNG, _pale and weak, is borne in on shields by_ ASBJORN
_enter with them_.)

_Kolbein_.--Hail to you all!

_Botolf_.--Pax vobiscum!

(_They bow to_ KOLBEIN _and the_ BISHOP. KOLBEIN _is borne to the high
seat_. HELGA _stands beside him, also_ SALVOR _keeps near him always_.)

_Brand_ (_coming forward_).--How stands matters with you, kinsman

_Kolbein_.--Not so very well.

_Broddi_ (_coming forward_).--You have but a small body-guard about you
to-day, brother-in-law!

_Kolbein_ (_pointing to_ BISHOP BOTOLF).--This body-guard _alone_ has
been sufficient for some time.

_Brand_.--You have summoned us to meet you.

_Kolbein_.--I wanted, with the assistance of my kinsmen and of others,
to make such provisions for our dominions as would most likely result in
peace for the district.

_Brand_.--Peace we should desire for every consideration, since many
regions are beginning to grow poor.

_Sigurd_.--The wars have fanned into flame hatred and malice over all
the land.

_Botolf_.--Blessed are the peacemakers!

_Kolbein_.--During these last days the deep wound I received in the
battle of Orlygsstad has been troubling me sorely, and I am so exhausted
that I often look forward to death. Now you well know that Thord Kakali
has lost through me both father and five brothers. That stands in the
way of peace in the district. I therefore offer to go abroad and give up
all my dominions.

_Helga_.--Give up all dominions!

_Botolf_.--And yield them to King Hakon?

_Kolbein_.--If King Hakon should lay claim to my lands I should give him
six feet of land, or so much less as he lacks in height. To give Iceland
to him is as bad as yielding up one's soul to the devil.

_Brand_.--But who is to receive the lands?

_Kolbein_.--I shall give all my dominions to Thord Kakali, and thus
atone for the killing of his father and brothers. Your own cases would
then be at his mercy. I expect that you will fare well in this, because
just then did Thord prove to be my best friend when I entrusted my
matters entirely to him; at that time you were also on friendly terms,
you and the men from Skagafirth.

_Botolf_.--That would be a disposition promising peace, if the king
himself is not to receive the dominion. (_Aside_.) It is the same as if
King Hakon did receive it.

_Brand_.--You will deprive me of my rightful inheritance, and give up
_all_ your dominions to Thord! Then will I rather fight for them until I

_Broddi_.--Thord may think he has so much to settle with us that we
could not endure the punishments he would inflict upon us--that is, if
we had any desire to do so.

_Einar_.--If all dominions were given up to Thord he would treat us

_Botolf_.--And then there would be peace on earth and good-will among

_Thorolf_.--In Thord's Hall all we, your men, would have to sit upon the
lower bench. His men whom we have pursued, wounded, stripped of their
clothes, and beaten whenever we engaged them, they would take revenge on
us, under cover of him. All of us desire but one of two things, _to do
battle_ until we gain peace, or else, to fall with such renown as is
granted us.

_Asbjorn_.--We will follow no other man whilst you live.

_The followers of Kolbein_.--No, no other man!

_Kolbein_.--Then your other choice is that all yeomen at their own
expense guard in four parties the frontier during the remainder of
winter. The first will have to be on the Skagafirth, to guard the road
over the Kjol and the ways leading from Storasand. The second guard will
have to be in Vididale, Vatnsdale, and Nupsdale to watch the paths over
the Grimstungu-heath, and the one over Tvidægra-heath. The third and
fourth guards will have to be in Midfirth and Hrutafirth, and to protect
the ways along the Holtavordu-heath, and those from the Dales and
Strands. When the sea is safe two light-sailing vessels will have to be
sent around the Skaw to reconnoitre the sea-way toward the west.

_Broddi_.--Well, you have thought out everything, brother-in-law; to me
this plan of war seems in every regard the best.

_Thorolf_.--If it is followed, Thord will never return west alive over
the Blanda River, should he attack us.

_Asbjorn_.--Thord will be able to get over the Kjol Mountains or the
Sprengisand Desert, down to the Eyafirth. There he will call upon his
friends and attack us in the flank.

_Thorolf_.--That is unthinkable. In order to reach either of these ways
Thord would have to journey around the whole island, and then overcome
Hjalti the bishop's son, and Gissur's men. I should think it likeliest
that Hjalti would flee north over the Kjol should he be defeated, and
come our way some little time before Thord, who would have to go by a
farther way and would waste his time in getting the men of Eyafirth to
rise. Kolbein's plan of war is the best that can be chosen.

_Kolbein_.--It is most often Thorolf Bjarnason who best comprehends my

_Broddi_ (_aside, clinching his hand against his breast_).--Does _he_
understand them best?

_Brand_.--All shall be done as you bid, kinsman Kolbein. I myself shall
send three hundred men as guard into Hunathing.

_Kolbein_.--Then all is well, kinsman Brand!

_Salvor_.--You speak too much, my lord!

_Kolbein_.--I must speak to-day; to-day to-morrow is not sure to me (_to
the others_). The third matter is the apportionment of the districts
after my death.

_Salvor_.--Speaking irritates your wound, my lord, and you may become

_Kolbein_.--Let come what may! I will that my kinsman Brand have
Skagafirth and Hunathing after my death. But Eyafirth and all districts
east of the Heath I give to--(_He becomes delirious. Lady_ HELGA _makes
a motion and stops him_.)

_Kolbein_.--See, wife, now fly the swans from Holar in Hjaltadale.

_Botolf_ (_to_ DEACON SIGURD).--He is dreaming about the messengers of
the Holy Church, the sick man!

_Sigurd_ (_to_ BISHOP BOTOLF).--He will not live till to-morrow's

_Helga_ (_bending down over_ KOLBEIN).--Appoint Thorolf Bjarnason!

_Broddi_.--Who is to get Eyafirth?

_Brand_.--I heard no one named.

_Kolbein_.--I name you, Thorolf Bjarnason!

_Broddi_.--For what do you name Thorolf Bjarnason?

_Helga_.--For the chieftainship over Eyafirth and all districts north of
the Heath.

_Broddi_.--I claim that I have better title to it than Thorolf.

_Thorolf_.--It will prove a troublesome business for you to wrench
Eyafirth out of my hands. (_In a whisper to_ HELGA, _to whom he has
approached more closely_.) Am I given Eyafirth then?

_Helga_ (_whispers back_).--Do not let it be seen that you are
whispering to me. They will become suspicious. My position is difficult.

_Kolbein_.--I shall spare you, kinsman! (_Speaks unintelligibly_. HELGA
_bends down over him_.)

_Helga_.--My husband wishes that you, Brand Kolbeinsson, and
you, Thorolf, shall swear to each other an everlasting truce, now

_Brand_.--Is that your wish, kinsman Kolbein?

_Kolbein_.--It is. It is. Six hundred men! Advance bravely after me! My
kinsman Brand is in great danger.

_Broddi_.--Always it is you, Brand! Physician, attend to the sick man.

_Salvor_.--Carry your chieftain into his bed!

_Kolbein_.--Woden owns all the slain men! Neither Thord Kakali nor one
of his men will return alive over Blanda. Another battle won. A great
and glorious victory. Carry away the fallen, I will not see them. Woden
owns all the slain men.

_Botolf_.--So much devilish magic yet living in a Christian country! And
this man have I shriven but a short while ago! Woden owns all the slain
men! (KOLBEIN'S _men surround him to bear him out on their shields_.
HELGA _speaks fast and in a low voice to_ ASBJORN ILLUGASON.)

_Helga_.--Place our armed servants before all doors. And let them stay
there. And leave the doors open after you when you come in again.

_Kolbein_.--Woden owns all the slain men. You bleed, Thorolf Bjarnason.
Put on your head, Thorolf! Put on your head! Beware of the cave by the

(ASBJORN ILLUGASON, HAF, _and others carry_ KOLBEIN _out_. SALVOR
_follows them_. HELGA _leads_ BISHOP BOTOLF _to the high seat_.)

_Helga_.--I have neglected to show you those marks of esteem which
I ought to have shown you, my lord! But my situation has been a
troublesome one for a while.

_Botolf_.--I have been thinking in my mind the while, my lady, how much
you resemble in mien and carriage the women of the ancient race of the
kings of Norway.

_Helga_ (_laughs_).--I am a descendant in the fourth generation of King
Magnus Bareleg, and were I a man and not a woman I would be nearer to
the throne of Norway than your King Hakon. This relationship cost my
brother Paul his life, when he was in Norway.

_Botolf_.--That story I have heard! But his death was not the wish of
the Norwegians.

(ASBJORN _and_ HAF, _and the men who carried out_ KOLBEIN, _come
in again, leaving the door stand open. One sees armed men standing
outside_. LADY HELGA _seats herself on the dais_.)

_Helga_.--How long shall my husband wait until you swear the truce to
each other, Thorolf and Brand?

_Botolf_.--The Holy Church cannot confirm the apportionment of the
districts which you have made, excepting the chieftains swear each other
an everlasting truce.

_Broddi_.--The Holy Church owns not the Northland Quarter!

_Botolf_.--But God does; and do you for his sake as Kolbein and the lady
bid you, because that promises best for peace.

_Helga_ (_very loud_).--Close the door! (_All look to the door and
perceive the armed men; it is closed_.) Haf Bjarnason will pronounce
for you the words of the truce. The truce which his namesake established
between the men of Skagafirth and Grettir Asmundarson was well kept, and
it redounded to their honor.

_Broddi_ (_aside to_ BRAND).--Agree to the truce! Sixty armed men are
standing but a few feet away!

(BRAND KOLBEINSSON _places himself in the left foreground, with six
of his men behind him_. HAF _behind him in the middle ground_. THOROLF
_advances to the right foreground, posturing himself opposite_ BRAND.)

_Asbjorn_.--Are we to be witnesses, Thorolf?

_Thorolf_.--All those present shall be witnesses!

(ASBJORN _and five others arrange themselves behind him_.)

_Helga_.--In Oddi, at my father Sæmund's, I heard that those oaths were
void which were made against one's free will.

_Thorolf_.--I shall swear a truce to Brand Kolbeinsson of my own free

_Helga_.--And you, kinsman Brand?

(BRAND _looks toward the door and says nothing_.)

_Helga_ (_stamps her foot on the floor of the dais, whereupon the door
opens slowly, and swords and spears become visible_).--And you, Brand

_Brand_.--I shall swear a truce to Thorolf with a willing mind. But what
are the conditions, and for what offence the fine?

_Helga_.--Thorolf Bjarnason shall make atonement for having, in my
hearing and in the presence of other men, given Brand Kolbeinsson a
nickname; he shall pay for his offence with the ring which he wears on
his arm and which weighs six ounces. Is this offer of reconciliation a
good one?

_Brand and Thorolf_.--Indeed a good one!

_Helga_ (_taking a large ring off her arm and holding it between her
fingers_).--Pronounce, then, the pledge of truce, Haf--according to our

_Haf_ (_sets a little table between them and stands beside it. Receives
the ring from_ THOROLF, _holds it in one hand, and a parchment in
the other, and pronounces the pledge of truce in an impressive
manner_).--Contention there has been between Brand Kolbeinsson and
Thorolf Bjarnason. But now is this contention no more, a fine has been
paid according to the decision of good and noble men, of full weight,
and good metal, and handed over to him to whom it is due. But if
contention there should arise again between them, then shall they settle
by fee, and not by reddened steel. But if one of these parties become
so bereft of his senses that he break this reconciliation, and pledge of
truce, or becomes the contriver of the other's death, then shall he be
driven from God, and from the commerce of all Christendom, as far as
men pursue wolves, Christians visit churches, heathen men sacrifice in
temples, mothers bear children, children say mother, fire burns, ships
sail, shields flash, the sun shines, snow lies, pines grow, the falcon
flies the long spring day, with a fair wind under both his wings. He
shall shun churches and Christian people, the house of God and the
houses of men, and the abodes of men, and every home but hell. (HAF
_lays the ring on the parchment, which he holds between them. They lay
each their right hand on the book_.) Both of you with your hands touch
one book, and even on it lies the fine with which Thorolf atones for his
offence, for himself and for his heirs, conceived or unconceived, born
or unborn, baptized or unbaptized; and in return he receives from Brand
Kolbeinsson assurances of eternal and everlasting truce, a truce which
shall persist the while the earth lasts and men live. (_Silence_. BRAND
KOLBEINSSON _takes the ring off the book and puts it on his arm, whilst_
HAF _lays the book on the table again_.) Now you, Brand Kolbeinsson and
Thorolf Bjarnason, shall be men reconciled and agreeing, wherever
you meet, whether on land or on sea, on ship or on ski, on sea or on
horseback, on bench or on thwart; and if need be, divide between you oar
and scoop, knife and piece of meat; shall be at one with each other as
is father with son, or son with father. Join hands now (_they grasp
each the other's hand_) and stand by your truce according to the will of
Christ and all those men who now have heard your pledge of faith. May he
have the grace of God who keeps the truce, but his wrath he who breaks
it. Let this be a full reconciliation between you, and let us be
witnesses who are present.

(THOROLF _approaches_ HELGA, _who gives him the ring she had been
holding; He puts it on his arm, without anybody noticing it but her_.
BISHOP BOTOLF _walks up to her. The ranks of the witnesses mix_, BRAND
_and_ BRODDI _station themselves in the foreground_.)

_Botolf_.--A great work and one sorely needed have you performed to-day,
my lady. Assuredly more than small good fortune it is to have reconciled
two such men whom Kolbein the Young never could prevail upon to become
reconciled, as we are told.

_Helga_ (_smiling_).--The granddaughter of Ion Loftsson of Oddi ought
to have sufficient good fortune to reconcile by her sole efforts men who
both are her friends.

_Brand_ (_aside to_ BRODDI).--May it never be avenged on Lady Helga to
have cowed me by overwhelming force to promise an eternal truce to my
worst foe.

_Broddi_ (_to_ BRAND).--But a short while will the hand rejoice over the



(_A cave by_ KOLBEIN's _stream. The stage represents a small vale with
the cave in the background. The cave is large and deep, opening in the
direction of the spectator. Water has been coursing down the vale and
has frozen to knolls of ice here and there. A part of the cave-mouth is
hidden by icicles formed by the water trickling from the rock above the
cave. Snow is falling heavily and drifting. This continues throughout
the act_.)

THE RICH, _and six others enter_.)

_Alf_.--A cursed ill weather this!

_Sigurd_.--The great drift-ice must be near!

_Brand_.--But there is shelter in this cave here, and here we shall stay

_Einar_.--A witch-storm this is, and we have lost our way!

_Broddi_.--The weather is cold and fit for men. We would do well to use
our stay here for coming to an agreement about our attack on Thorolf
Bjarnason; because home he journeyed, even if Lady Helga assured us to
the contrary.

_Einar_.--Let us make away with the new chief of the Eyafirthings!

_Brand_.--For me it is not seeming to be in this undertaking, having
sworn an eternal truce to Thorolf.

_Broddi_.--But none of us others have.

_Helgi Skaftason_.--I am not your slave, Brand Kolbeinsson; and if I may
not avenge the insults Thorolf has inflicted on you, I shall no longer
be your follower, either.

_Broddi_.--All your men will desert you, if you permit them not to
avenge you on Thorolf.

_Brand_.--What would men say if my followers broke a pledged truce?

_Alf_.--A truce under compulsion it was, with sixty men, but a few steps

_Einar_.--Slight is your recollection concerning the murder of Kalf the
son of Guttorm!

_Brand_.--It is better to suffer than to do ill.

_Broddi_.--It is seeming to a chieftain to commit deeds of injustice and
highhandedness, so soon as need be for them; but not to suffer them of

_Brand_.--What need is there that we kill Thorolf Bjarnason now rather
than before?

_Broddi_.--He is now set as lord over Eyafirth. He is our enemy, and as
it is the Eyafirthings have grievances against us.

_Alf_.--For their shameful defeat at Orlygsstad and the fall of their

_Broddi_.--The Eyafirthings will assail us from the east under Thorolf,
and Thord Kakali from the west. The henchmen of Lady Helga will stand by
Thorolf, and not by you, Brand.

_Brand_.--But Gissur Thorvaldsson will come to my help over the
mountains from the south.

_Broddi_.--An ill thing, to have Gissur as one's only friend. He is no
warrior, keeps no promise, and dares not to fight.

_Sigurd_.--Never rely on Gissur's valor!

_Alf_.--He is a coward!

_Einar_.--None of you mentions what is of most importance. Lady Helga it
was, and not Kolbein the Young, who assigned Eyafirth to Thorolf.

_Broddi_.--That is a lie, Einar!

_Einar_.--Kolbein had become delirious when Helga asserted Eyafirth was
given to Thorolf.

_Alf_.--That, indeed, is the truth.

_Several_.--Yes, that indeed is the truth.

_Broddi_.--Does _she_ mean to arrange the districts? If so, we mean
to make away with Thorolf. You shall have no hand in this, Brand
Kolbeinsson, but your men shall follow me.

_Brand_.--And who is to follow me?

_Broddi_.--No one!

_Brand_.--That was the cause of my kinsman Kolbein's greatness that all
his men obeyed him without a murmur. No one obeys me now!

_Einar_.--But this obedience came first about after the fall of Kalf

_Brand_.--No need to remind me again that Thorolf was the foremost
instigator to the killing of him.

_Broddi_.--Let us then seize Thorolf, wherever we may find him, and slay

_All_ (_except_ BRAND).--Yes, let us slay him!

_Broddi_.--Or else let us surround his house and lead him out to be put
to death.

_Alf_.--Oh, let him perish in the flames of his own house.

_Sigurd_--For shame, Alf! I do not care to share the torments of hell
with incendiaries.

_Brand_.--Kolbein the Young will surely take revenge on us for his
friend Thorolf.

_Einar_.--Kolbein is no longer to be reckoned among living men.

_Broddi_.--Kinsman Kolbein lay more sorely stricken with his wound this
time than last, and even then was in danger of his life.

_Alf_.--I cannot tell a doomed man if he ever arises again.

_Sigurd_.--A great loss it would be if a chieftain so noble and so
beloved should depart this world.

_Broddi_.--And one so victorious!

_Sigurd_.--Let us pray for his soul!

(_Silence. All present show marks of grief and of praying_.)

_Broddi_.--But you will lend us your aid, Brand, after the slaying of
Thorolf, and will take steps to make Lady Helga leave the district?

_Brand_.--It is not seeming that I give counsel to those who plan
Thorolf's death.

_Broddi_.--We shall help you to obtain all the dominions in Skagafirth
and west as far as Hrutafirth for it; because it is not so very sure
whether all are willing to accept you as overlord.

_Brand_.--I thank you, friend Broddi. But I shall take no part in your
dealings with Thorolf. Afterwards I shall not part from you.

_Alf_.--Let us touch our weapons to confirm it, according to Norse

_Many_.--Yes, let us brandish weapons!

_Broddi_ (_mounting a rock_).--We, Alf of Grof, Broddi Thorleifsson,
Einar the Rich, and all who are here, excepting only Brand Kolbeinsson,
agree, and brandish our weapons in confirmation of our purpose, that we
shall not part from one another, and share a common fate, until we shall
have brought from life to death Thorolf Bjarnason.

(_All, except_ BRAND, _lift their weapons and strike their shields with
their swords_.)

_Brand_.--And remember then, Broddi, what you promised me!

_Broddi_.--We all who are assembled here promise and brandish our
weapons in confirmation thereof, to aid Brand Kolbeinsson to gain
dominion over Skagafirth and west as far as Hrutafirth, after the death
of Kolbein the Young; he on his part promises to support us with all his
might in the action against us for the killing of Thorolf Bjarnason.

(_All raise their weapons and clash them against their shields_, BRAND

_Sigurd_.--The weather has been clearing up this while.

_Broddi_.--Who will now seek the way and go before us?

_Brand_.--Alf Gudmundsson of Grof. (_They depart_.)

(_The stage is empty for a while, the snow begins to fall and drift
again. Of a sudden_, JARNGRIM _is seen to stand in the cave. He has a
spear in his hand and is tall and of strong frame. He wears a wide cloak
with the hood down over his eyes. He has a long beard. As soon as he
appears two ravens settle over the mouth of the cave and disappear with

[Footnote A: In Norse mythology Woden (Odin) is represented as one-eyed.
Else, his attributes are those described here.]

_Jarngrim_ (_leans on his spear and calls out_).--Thorolf!

_Thorolf_ (_from without_).--All's well, companions, I heard a human
voice! (_Silence_.)


_Thorolf_ (_from without_).--Where are you?


_Thorolf_ (_and two others enter_.. THOROLF'S _men never see_ JARNGRIM.
_They kindle a fire forthwith_).--What is your name, friend?

_Jarngrim_.--Jarngrim I am called.

_Thorolf_.--We have lost our way. Will you allow me to sit down at the

_Jarngrim_.--There is a plenty of dry fuel in the cave.

(THOROLF'S _men have been kindling the fire which burns up brightly_.

_Jarngrim_.--This eve we shall drink mead together!

_Thorolf_.--And no houses hereabouts? (_With arising suspicion_.) How
many are there of you?

_Jarngrim_.--Never have I had a companion, except my horse and two

_Thorolf_ (_points to the ravens, mockingly_).--Your hawks are of a
black color, likely; they are sitting there near enough to you.

_Jarngrim_.--Near they sit to me, whenever good prey is near.

_Thorolf_.--Who has made you an outlaw?

_Jarngrim_.--The White Christ.

_Thorolf_.--Excommunicated then you are! Bishop Botolf will absolve you
if you confess to him your troubles.

_Jarngrim_.--Never would Botolf admit me to church if he knew who I am.

_Thorolf_.--Give some of your property to the church for absolution.

_Jarngrim_.--The temples of the White God have taken possession of all
my goods, except my horse and my hawks,--we four still journey together.

_Thorolf_.--Become my follower and accompany me to Eyafirth, if Kolbein
the Young dies.

_Jarngrim_.--Kolbein the Young will not die. But to be your man,
Thorolf, I care not, because you pursue your ends to excess, small means
as you have. It will never end well.

_Thorolf_.--How can you know that, you who are ignorant of all?

_Jarngrim_.--An old man knows that a man's character is his destiny.

_Thorolf_.--Go then and serve Kolbein the Young if he lives.

_Jarngrim_.--Oft was I a follower of Kolbein.

_Thorolf_.--How may that be, then, that I know you not?

_Jarngrim_.--The haughty heed not though they see a sage. Most men knew
me in former times, but few know me now. Small has become the number of
my friends.

_Thorolf_.--Now I recognize you, friend. I saw you in the battle of
Orlygsstad, when you stood over the corpse of Sighvat Sturluson.

_Jarngrim_.--A great friend of mine was Sighvat.

_Thorolf_.--And a short time ago, when you stood over the body of Tumi
Sighvatsson, at Reykholar. You turned your back to the church. And
whither are you journeying now?

_Jarngrim_.--Thither where tidings are near. Whenever I come down the
mountain side there arises tumult in the valleys; wherever I remain all
day great battles are fought. The Norns have decreed all that. But now
men say that the White God is about to come from the south, with great
splendor, and that he will bring with him peace. I ween it will prove a

_Thorolf_.--Decreed by the Norns! You must be an old man?

_Jarngrim_.--I was Ingolf's the First Settler's pilot on his journey to

_Thorolf_.--I am not a book-learned man; yet must you, then, be
exceedingly old and yet are not gray-haired.

_Jarngrim_.--I and my likes grow not gray.

_Thorolf_.--Will you tell me where I am?

_Jarngrim_.--This is the cave by Kolbein's stream.

_Thorolf_ (_shudders_).--I have heard it mentioned! But what do you

_Jarngrim_.--I gather shields for my roof.


_Jarngrim_.--Those that drop from the hands of men slain in battle.

_Thorolf_ (_in fear and wrath_).--You plunder the dead!

_Jarngrim_.--Mine are all the slain!

_Thorolf_.--Are you Woden, then, the father of all devils? (_Draws his
sword and strikes at him, but the blow strikes the roof of the cave_.)

_Jarngrim_ (_who has not stirred while the blow was struck_).--Rarely
avails the blow which is struck too high.

_Thorolf_ (_holds his shield before his body, with his sword behind it,
and peers under the hood of_ JARNGRIM).--You startled not!

_Jarngrim_.--But you have changed color. I never blink my eyes.

_Thorolf_.--Yet it may go ill with but one eye, you evil spirit!

_Jarngrim_.--Many are the eyes of day, _the night has but one_! Let not
the fire die down, Thorolf! The mead you will drink with me to-night has
become warm! Is well-nigh ready.

(JARNGRIM _walks into the cave. As soon as his back is turned a black
patch is seen between his shoulders_. THOROLF _strikes another blow
at him, but his sword strikes the rock wall_. JARNGRIM _and the ravens

_Thorolf_.--Is he hiding here, the hell-hound?

_His Men_--Who? Who?

_Thorolf_.--I have spoken with Woden and he has foretold me my death.

_First Man_.--You have not spoken with any one, since we came here. But
we have heard avalanches in the distance, nor is that strange in weather
such as this.

_Thorolf_.--I shall live no longer than this fire burns! Take well
care of the fire, men! Where are you, my men? (_Falls into a swoon. The
second man tends the fire and makes it blaze up; the first man busies
himself with_ THOROLF.)

_Second Man_.--He is very ill.

_First Man_.--He may have seen some ill wight, for ever since he saw the
fire he has lost his senses.

_Broddi_ (_behind the stage_).--There is that fire again, let us go that

_First Man_.--I heard some one speaking, a small distance away. Likely,
they are no friends of Thorolf's who are abroad.

_Second Man_.--And no water at hand to put out the fire, neither would
it avail now.

_Brand_ (_without_).--None but fugitives will be here!

HELGI SKAFTASON, _and six other men_.)

_Broddi_.--What's this? Seize the men that cower over Thorolf.

(THOROLF'S _men are seized and disarmed_.)

_Einar_.--There he lies now, the lord of Eyafirth!

_Alf_.--Strike the dog!

_Thorolf_ (_regains his senses and stands up quickly_).--For shame,
neighbor Alf! Why do you seize upon my men and hold them?

_Broddi_.--So that they may harm no one! Now, Thorolf, it is our
intention that this will be our last meeting.

_Einar_.--Death is before your door now, Thorolf.

_Thorolf_.--'The love of many girls had I,
             One time every one must die.'[A]
Did I see right? Is Brand Kolbeinsson here?

[Footnote A: These lines are from a stanza spoken by one Thorir Jokul,
when kneeling for the blow (Sturlunga, 143).]

_Einar_.--Here he is.

_Thorolf_.--There is no glory in my overcoming such as you, Einar the
Rich. But there, I want to get to where stands Brand Kolbeinsson. (BRAND
_stands still while these words are exchanged; some men stand between
him and_ THOROLF. THOROLF _rushes at_ BRAND, _but the others fell him
and wound him before he has reached_ BRAND.) Now was I too short by one

_Einar_ (_giving_ THOROLF _a wound_).--You have always despised me!

_Thorolf_ (_gets upon his feet, but is held fast and made to surrender
his arms_).--A priest I would now have, Broddi, in the name of God!

_Alf_.--What will you with a priest, you heathen dog?

_Broddi_.--All the more need. Go to him, Deacon Sigurd!

_Sigurd_ (_goes to_ THOROLF, _whom the others release_).--You know,
Thorolf, that I am a priest?

_Thorolf_.--Give me absolution, priest, the same as if you were in my
place! My soul is in danger. I have spoken with Woden, but a short while
ago. He said the ale was ready which we were to drink together to-night.
For God's sake absolve me well of my sins!

_Sigurd_.--So shall it be.

_Thorolf_ (_to_ BRODDI).--What will you have for my life?

(BRODDI _remains silent_.)

_Thorolf_.--I offer you to leave the country and never come back to

_Broddi_.--You must know, Thorolf, that you are to die. There is no
other condition.

_Thorolf_.--Each of you would consider himself too young to die already,
if he were in my place now. You are keeping long your vow of everlasting
truce, Brand Kolbeinsson!

(BRAND _remains silent_.)

_Thorolf_.--Those that keep it as you do 'shall shun churches and
Christian people, the house of God and the houses of men and every home
but hell!' A great wonder it would be if you obtain the absolution of
a priest in the hour of your death. I summon you before God, Brand

_Broddi_.--Lead the man away to be executed, Helgi Skaftason, you have a
good axe.

_Helgi_.--That I have; nor shall I refuse its service.

_Thorolf_.--Helgi Skaftason is then to--! (_Quickly takes his ring off
his wrist and comes close to_ SIGURD. EINAR _happens to stand near so
that he can discern their speech_.) Can you keep a secret, priest?

_Sigurd_.--That can every one who is in holy office.

_Thorolf_ (_gives him the ring and says in low voice_).--Quickly hide
this ring and bring it to Lady Helga.

_Sigurd_ (_do_).--With what message?

_Thorolf_.--That you shall be spared life and limb, though you have been
participant in this onslaught on me. (EINAR _gives a start_.)

_Sigurd_.--And any others?

_Thorolf_.--Little I care.

_Einar_ (_aside_).--That ring must I try to get hold of.

(THOROLF _is led out to the left; all the others follow, excepting_

_Broddi_.--You must not be present at it, Brand! I shall tell you what
is happening. Now Thorolf is shriven; he has but few sins to confess; he
has been absolved but recently.

_Brand_.--If they had not lit the fire we would never have found them.
Better had it been they had not lit it!

_Broddi_.--A pity that brave men such as Thorolf was should not be good
men to work together with, likewise. Now Thorolf kneels down for the
blow. Do not look that way, Brand!

_Brand_.--Has he the crucifix in his hand?

_Broddi_.--No; he reached it to Deacon Sigurd, before kneeling down. Why
does Helgi let a brave man wait so long for the blow?

(_A heavy blow on a body is heard without_. BRAND _starts up, pulls_
THOROLF'S _ring from his arm and gives it to_ BRODDI.)

_Brand_.--Give Helgi Skaftason this ring; he will have need of the value
in it. It is the ring Thorolf handed over to me in Flugumyr. I will not
wear it!

_Broddi_.--It shall be as you wish. Now our men have laid a shield over
Thorolf's body.

(_The slayers of_ THOROLF _enter from the left_.)

_Alf_.--Great news abroad!

_Brand_.--We know what has happened, and that Thorolf Bjarnason is dead.

_Alf_.--'Dog-like on crushed bones he fed,
         Tan of bark his hide dyed red.'[A]

[Footnote A: Alf's lines are to be understood, so that Thorolf lived
like a beggar in his youth, eating crushed bones (of dried fish;
the dried fish are beaten with a hammer so as to crush the bones
and separate them from the meat), and gnawing the bark of trees.
(H. Hermannsson.) The lines are from a stanza made by one Gudmund
Asbjarnason on Thorolf Sturlunga, ch. 122.]

_Broddi_.--Shame on you, Alf, to make mock at Thorolf, now he is dead.

(_Enter from the right_ LADY HELGA, ASBJORN, _and_ SALVOR. HELGA _in
traveling costume, with a veil with long white tassels. All present are
greatly alarmed as they see her_.)

_Brand_.--Lady Helga! Hail, cousin!

_Helga_.--Hail to all of you! (_They bow to her_.) What are you about,
here, kinsman Brand?

_Brand_.--I am biding for better weather. But what may be the purpose of
your journey?

_Helga_.--I am on a voyage to inspect our building of ships. In the
snowstorm I and Asbjorn lost our way; but a short while ago we saw a
fire or a light and turned that way. Now we are come here.

_Brand_.--How fares Kolbein, your husband?

_Helga_.--Very eager you are now to succeed to him. (_Smiles_. THOROLF'S
_men, weaponless, come running up and stop behind_.) You here!

_First Man_.--They have slain Thorolf Bjarnason. His body lies here!

_Helga_ (_grasps at her heart for a moment_).--Thorolf Bjarnason! Slain!

_Second Man_.--But this moment they beheaded him.

_Helga_.--Oh, pity that I came too late! (_Shoves_ ASBJORN _aside and
fixes her eyes on those present_.) Who of you slew T-h-o-r-o-l-f?

_Helgi Skaftason_ (_advances and dries his axe on the fringes of her
veil; she smiles at him_).--Here you may see the blood of Thorolf, your
friend, my lady. Me you have to thank for it that his locks are bloody.

_Asbjorn_ (_pushing forth between them_).--You wretched knave!

_Broddi_.--Shame upon you, Helgi Skaftason!

_Helga_.--What business of yours is it? (_Smiling, to_ HELGI.) You may
depend upon me for rewarding you for the precious stain you have put on
my veil. Not just now. I shall find you later, Helgi Skaftason!

_Alf_ (_to_ BRODDI).--She will bring a plague upon us all; let us draw a
sack over her head.[A]

[Footnote A: A measure taken against the influence of the 'evil eye' of

_Broddi_.--I shall kill you, Alf!

_Helga_ (_to_ BRAND).--Is it from our kinsmen at Oddi that you have
learned how to keep an eternal truce, Brand, 'a truce which shall
persist the while the earth lasts and men live'?


_Broddi_.--Brand Kolbeinsson had no part in Thorolf's execution.

_Helga_ (_smiling_).--Then it is clear he has kept the eternal truce.
Perhaps neither you had a part in it, Broddi?

_Broddi_.--I shall not deny that I had, lady.

_Helga_.--But little you know the mind of my husband, Broddi, if you
think he will let his men lie dead by his house and unatoned. You,
Asbjorn, and you, men of Thorolf's, lay now his body upon my sleigh. I
intend to bring Kolbein the Young, his friend. Very likely I shall have
to dress his bloody locks. But that shall I say to you all that Kolbein
the Young is almost quite well again, and may be able to wear mail even
to-morrow. (_All are startled and become alarmed_.)

_Alf_.--Loose sits my head on its shoulders!

_Helga_ (_smiling_).--You will do well to hold it fast with both your
hands, Alf of Grof. (_Aside to_ SALVOR.) Lend me your arm! My eyes grow

(_Exeunt_ HELGA, SALVOR, _and_ ASBJORN, _the two men of_ THOROLF.
HELGA _walks away like a queen, smiling, and saluting to both sides.

_Helgi Skaftason_ (_leaning on his axe_).--But a short while will the
hand rejoice over the blow.

_Broddi_.--She smiled rather too often, the queen of the Northlanders!

_Sigurd_.--We shall be dead men, all of us, before seven suns have set,
unless we bethink ourselves of some counsel.

_Brand_.--Give us some counsel, Broddi, or else my kinsman Kolbein will
set our women busy dressing bloody locks also.

_Broddi_.--We have but little choice. Let us collect as many men as
we may. I myself hope to collect two hundred men, for all the men of
Sletthlid and Fljot are at home now, building boats. Yourself ought
to be able to collect one hundred. All this troop we shall let come
together at Holar and occupy the stronghold there, until more men come
together. We would then have three hundred men, while Kolbein has no
more than one hundred, because three hundred of his men have been sent
west to guard Vididal and Vatnsdal. Then we shall march upon Flugumyr
as fast as possible before he has had time to recall these men. There we
shall inform him that we are come to seek composition.

_Brand_.--But, first of all, we must be absolved for the murder of
Thorolf, so that men will not refuse our company and deal with us.

_Broddi_.--A pity that we need to, because it will delay us, and
meanwhile Lady Helga will inform Kolbein about Thorolf's death and egg
him on against us. To Holar, then!

_Einar_ (_aside_).--Thord Kakali ought to know about this in good time.

(_Exeunt all except_ BRODDI _and_ BRAND, _who remain after_.)

_Brand_.--When think you, Broddi, that all this slaughtering and warring
will cease?

_Broddi_.--When all the world has become a wilderness again!

(_Exeunt_.) _Curtain_.


(_The Cathedral at Holar. High altar in the center, and over it Christ
on the Cross, an image of white alabaster, with bloody hands and feet
and side, life-size. To either side, in the aisles, altars of the
Virgin, splendid with images. On the floor of the aisle the tombstone
of Bishop Gudmund Arason, surmounted by a statue of the bishop in his
sacerdotal vestments, recumbent. Doors at both sides. The spectator is
supposed to sit in the pews_.)

(BISHOP BOTOLF, _in full pontificals, stands before the altar_.
SKAFTASON, _and six others kneeling before him weaponless with bared
neck and shoulders. An invisible chorus sings the end of a Miserere. The
music stops as soon as the psalm is finished_.)

_Botolf_.--By that power which God gave to the apostle Peter to bind and
to absolve all in heaven as well as on earth, which power he bestowed
upon the pope, and the pope upon the archbishop, and the archbishop upon
me, by this power I absolve you: Brand Kolbeinsson, Broddi Thorleifsson,
Alf Gudmundsson, Deacon Sigurd Thjodolfsson, Helgi Skaftason, Einar the
Rich, and you six other men, from the sin of your having been present
at and caused the death of Thorolf Bjarnason; I absolve you from the
excommunication of the Holy Church and permit to you church-going, and
the association of Christian men.

_Brand_.--In return for our being freed from the excommunication of the
Holy Church I and Broddi Thorleifsson each will give the value of five
hundred in land, to the see of Holar; and two hundred for each of
those who were present at the slaying of Thorolf, as is set forth more
explicitly in the deed of gift which I now deliver into your hands and
which Deacon Sigurd worded. (_Gives the bishop a scroll of parchment_.
BRAND _and his men rearrange their garments_.)

_Botolf_.--Exceeding bold have you become, Deacon Sigurd, to carry
weapons and to shed blood.

_Broddi_.--A weaponless man is but a wretch, my lord!

_Sigurd_.--Armed priests went to war with Bishop Gudmund Arason, my

_Botolf_.--Because of his visitations with armed men, his battlings, and
his unruliness Bishop Gudmund was declared to have forfeited his office.

_Brand_.--Yet retained his office as bishop till his dying day, through
the good services of Kolbein the Young.

_Botolf_.--Kolbein is king over you all, yet archbishop, I know, he is
not. Over my clerics I mean to rule so long as I am in power.

_Sigurd_.--I did not urge on to Thorolf's execution, and no sacraments
would he have received had I not been one of the company.

_Botolf_.--For that reason I shall let pass by your transgression, this
once, but leave your weapons here, when you depart, and never more carry
weapons henceforth.

_Sigurd_.--I shall obey, my lord!

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_ (_enters_).--Now I would pray you, sir bishop, that
you assist my son and his men to obtain a becoming reconciliation in the
action about Thorolf's death; because my namesake Kolbein was a stanch
friend of his.

_Botolf_.--Those who are reconciled with the Holy Church ought also to
be reconciled with all Christian men.

_Alf_.--They ought certainly; but Kolbein the Young is but little of a
Christian when he means to take revenge for one of his men.

_Broddi_.--He will perhaps call the slaying of Thorolf an act of
insurrection against himself.

_Botolf_.--It is an ill matter to assist rebels.

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--Thorolf insulted my son by giving him a nickname,
and he took revenge for that.

_Botolf_.--You Icelanders must be more deliberate in your words than are
we Norwegians, if every nickname shall cost a man's life. The slaying of
Thorolf was a wicked deed, because Brand swore him an eternal truce. But
in this land every one seems hardened in the ways of Kain.

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--My son Brand will succeed to Kolbein the Young!

_Botolf_.--He will succeed Kolbein? Then shall I seek to bring about a
reconciliation between you and Kolbein the Young!

_Broddi_.--And for the purpose that it come about in the smoothest
manner possible I need the fortifications of your see a day or two for
my men.

_Botolf_.--You will be welcome to use them, Broddi.

_Brand_.--In still another matter give me assistance, sir bishop! During
the hostilities that have lasted all these years a certain man who was
being led to execution summoned me before the tribunal of God.

_Botolf_.--For that the Church knows no other help than a general
indulgence and your living the rest of your natural life in peace.

_Brand_.--In peace? How is that possible now?

_Botolf_.--Blessed peace! when will you descend upon this blood-stained

_Broddi_ (_smiling_).--You must call out louder, my lord, to do some
good! The blessed peace has been stricken with deafness these times.

_Botolf_.--Oh wicked mockery!

_Broddi_.--Wicked indeed, if it were not true.

(_The cleric_ HELGI _enters quickly_.)

_Helgi_.--Kolbein the Young is riding toward Holar at this moment, with
a hundred men.

_Alf_.--Let us flee to the mountains.

_Broddi_.--Let us wait for my brother-in-law Kolbein at this spot.

_Alf_.--He will have us dragged out of the church and killed.

_Broddi_.--I shall not flee with my shield on my back.

_Brand_.--No, friend Broddi, we shall not part as yet. (_Seizes hold of_
BRODDI, _whom they drag out by force between them_.)

_Broddi_.--Why run away thus? I care not when I die.

(BRAND _and his eleven companions depart, together with_ KOLBEIN

_Helgi_.--Now they will offer you violence, my lord.

_Botolf_.--I expect no harm from Kolbein the Young, no wrong have I
done in this land, but only what all may thank me for, and that is to
reconcile the chieftains.

_Helgi_.--But it was in your presence that Gizur betrayed Urækja at the
bridge over the White River.

_Botolf_.--But Kolbein released Urækja again!

_Helgi_.--Much do you say in defence of Kolbein the Young; the enemy of
our sainted Bishop Gudmund Arason, my father-brother. Now the blessed
bishop has revealed himself to me in a dream and announced that at this
very hour he would make known his glory and power, right here in the
church, through a miracle on Illugi, a wretched blind man. I wish much
that Kolbein should behold it, so that he might repent of his ill deeds
against this holy man. A miraculum magnum will come to pass!

_Botolf_.--Nothing, indeed, would so much allay Kolbein's violence as
the holiness of Bishop Gudmund becoming apparent. It would make him
ready for reconciliation, should he behold that he used ill so great a
saint. But are you so very sure that the see of Holar really possessed
such a holy man in Bishop Gudmund?

_Helgi_.--Most certainly, indeed! (_Exit_.)

_Botolf_ (_alone_).--Bishop Gudmund a saint? Notwithstanding all the
slayings and destruction that followed in his wake? Bishop Gudmund a
saint, hm! He who used to speak a blessing over mad dogs, with his hands
uplifted! Bishop Gudmund a saint, hm! Well, then would the church indeed
be victorious over Kolbein the Young and his men.

(_Enter_ KOLBEIN THE YOUNG, HAF, _and_ ASBJORN. _They salute the bishop,
who returns their greetings_.)

_Kolbein_.--I have come hither, sir bishop, to confer with you.

_Botolf_.--With whom then do all those your men wish to confer, and what
mean the arms you carry into the church?

_Kolbein_.--Tumult and riot is rife in the district.

_Botolf_.--But a few days ago I expected to hear of your death, Kolbein,
rather than see you here heading a host of men.

_Asbjorn_.--Does it not suit you, my lord?

_Botolf_.--I desire the death of no man.

_Kolbein_.--For a while I was very sick, indeed; but no sooner heard I
of the death of my friend Thorolf than all weakness left me, so that now
I am a well man again.

(_Enter_ CLERK HELGI, ILLUGI THE BLIND MAN, _and_ HIS BOY, _who supports
him. People stream in with them, stationing themselves in the doors and
near them_. CLERK HELGI _makes_ ILLUGI _kneel down before the sepulchre
of_ BISHOP GUDMUND, _so that he turns his face to the spectators_.)

_Helgi_.--Kneel down now before the sepulchre of the sainted friend of
God who appeared to you in your dream; because your prayers have made
you deserving of that beatitude. Embrace the image of our blessed father
and say the Lord's prayer.

_Kolbein_.--Is that man blind?

_Illugi_ (_looks up and glances at him for a moment_).--I am born blind.

_Kolbein_ (_aside to_ HAF BJARNASON).--His eyes were fixed on me as he
looked up.

_Helgi_.--Domine Gudmunde, fac miraculum magnum!

_Illugi_ (_mutters_).--Pater noster!

_Helgi_.--Behold the white hand of the saint, how it draws the film from
the eyes of the blind man!

_Kolbein_.--I have not the gift to see such things.

_Helgi_.--Oh ye of little faith!

_Some at the Door_.--I smell sweet fragrance. I see a tongue of fire
above the tombstone of Bishop Gudmund!

_Others_.--He was good to the poor!

_Illugi_ (_with a loud voice, lifting up his crutch and
arising_).--Praised be the blessed Bishop Gudmund! My eyes can see!

_Helgi_.--O miraculum magnum!

_The People at the Doors_.--A miracle! A miracle! A miracle!

_Botolf_.--Let all bells of the church be rung.

_Kolbein_.--Wait an instant, my lord! The eyes of the man are unchanged.
Let him prove that he can see.

_Helgi_.--Ay, let him do that, my lord! Let the man prove that he can
see, so that Thomas be made to believe.

_Kolbein_ (_aside_).--Hand me a parchment, Haf! (HAF _takes a scroll
out of a box in the choir and reaches it over to him_.) You were blind,
then, when I spoke to you before?

_Illugi_.--I am born blind, my lord! But now it seems to me I can see
all that others see.

_Kolbein_.--I have still my doubts about that (_holding the parchment
before_ ILLUGI). Are you able to see what this is?

_Illugi_.--A parchment, my lord.

_Kolbein_.--And can you discern what is there written?

_Illugi_.--I can see the letters clearly.

_Kolbein_.--That you could say, although you could not see them.

_Illugi_ (_reads_).--'And when St. John was arrayed in his pontifical
robes, ready for burial--'

_Kolbein_.--How is it possible that you who are born blind have learned
to read?

(ILLUGI _remains silent, greatly frightened_.)

_Helgi_.--O miraculum magnum! Holy Bishop Gudmund has imparted to him
the art of reading!

_Illugi_.--The glorious saint appeared to me last night in a dream and
taught me to read, so that I might prove to-day that my eyes can see.

_Kolbein_.--In that case more forethought was shown by Bishop Gudmund
than he was accustomed to show when he was alive.

(BISHOP BOTOLF _becomes uneasy_; KOLBEIN's _men look at each other

_Helgi_.--The revelation of the saintliness of Holy Bishop Gudmund has
affected me so much, my lord, that I forgot to have all the bells of the
church rung. (_Intends to leave_.)

_Botolf_.--Wait with that a little while, Helgi.

_Haf_.--They will ring of themselves when the time has come.

_Kolbein_.--Where are you from?

(ILLUGI _remains silent, as to all following questions. The boy always
looks at him first before answering, making reply only when he sees
that_ ILLUGI _remains silent_.)

_Kolbein_.--Where are you two from?

_The Boy_.--From the Hornstrands, my lord!

_Kolbein_.--What was Thord Kakali about when you left?

_The Boy_.--We do not know, my lord!

_Kolbein_.--You must have remained over night at Bolstadarhlid before
you ascended the Vatnsskard.

_The Boy_.--We did, my lord!

_Kolbein_.--Did yeoman Jon send me no message by you?

_The Boy_.--No, my lord, yeoman Jon sent no message by us.

_Kolbein_.--You must be a clever and trusty lad, though you are young.

_The Boy_.--You give me high praise, my lord, and it is good to hear.

_Kolbein_.--You are careful to ask men about their names, or get to know
them from others. That is doing well for a young lad.

_The Boy_.--I asked yeoman Jon myself what his name was, my lord!

_Kolbein_.--There you lied again, little boy. The yeoman at
Bolstadarhlid is called Thorvard Arnason. (_The boy runs out_.)

_Helgi_.--You lied in that yourself, Kolbein, to say that the yeoman's
name was Jon. The boy would never have dared to ask the yeoman about his

_Kolbein_ (_to_ HAF).--Seize hold of this man and bring him into the
prison at Flugumyr. Bishop Gudmund will open its doors for him if
time hangs heavy on his hands there. (ILLUGI _the blind man runs out,
forgetting his crutches; the people follow him. One hears the multitude
outside shouting, 'A miracle'_.)

_Asbjorn_ (_to_ HELGI).--Was it Bishop Gudmund or Kolbein the Young who
made that man forget his crutches?

_Helgi_.--If Kolbein has done it, then has he done it by the help of
Beelzebub. (_He gathers up the crutches_. HAF _and_ ASBJORN _follow him
as he leaves the church_.)

_Kolbein_.--Did you have a part in this farce, my lord?

_Botolf_.--No, my lord! (_Mutters_.) Pia fraus, pia fraus!

_Kolbein_.--Then all is well. Bishop Gudmund was a witless man, but no

_Botolf_.--That is without example in Christendom how you laymen of
Iceland treated Bishop Gudmund; you killed his men and his clerks, went
to battle against him, beat and bound him, and in no wise let him enjoy

_Kolbein_.--Bishop Gudmund was a scourge upon the land. On his journeys
he devoured the property of one farmer in the morning, and of another in
the evening.

_Botolf_.--Finally you deprived him even of his freedom.

_Kolbein_.--That was the very best thing for him!

_Botolf_.--Such conduct on your part violated God's laws.

_Kolbein_.--But not the laws of this land, sir bishop. They say, 'But if
a man have a savage dog, then shall this dog be kept bound.' And I took
the dog and bound him, sir bishop!

_Botolf_.--The property of the church it was that tempted you, and not
the laws of the land; and how have you atoned for your robbery?

_Kolbein_.--With my and Thorolf Bjarnason's pilgrimage to Rome.

_Botolf_.--And with the help of this property of the church you have
set yourself in the place of that man who alone had divine right to the

_Kolbein_.--His is the land who holds it.

_Botolf_.--The king of Norway lays claim to all the land settled by

_Kolbein_.--The fewest of the settlers on Iceland's soil were subjects
of the king of Norway. For that matter, why comes not King Hakon and
take the land from us?

_Botolf_.--Because many hands would be raised in its defence, and the
king wishes the land to remain in peace.

_Kolbein_.--No one has caused more feuds among us Icelanders than has
King Hakon. All feuds arose through his devices.

_Botolf_.--Raise the banner of King Hakon in this land, Kolbein!

_Kolbein_.--Who would bear the banner for that coward? No, but should
the king come hither you will see me take up a banner; but it will not
be that of King Hakon!

_Botolf_.--In order to bring the land under the king's dominion you
would need but to ride to the king with twelve hundred men and let all
the assembly swear an oath of allegiance to the king. Both bishops would
stand back of you in that undertaking.

_Kolbein_.--Norwegians both!

_Botolf_.--The archbishop has written me that the king would raise you
to the highest rank among Icelanders if you did that.

_Kolbein_.--What I am already I need not become by the grace of Hakon.

_Botolf_.--He would give you an earl's rank and set you over all

_Kolbein_.--They gave Snorri Sturluson an earl's name, and the king
became the contriver of his death.

_Botolf_.--The archbishop writes that the king would make you highest
commander among his forces, if you should prefer that.

_Kolbein_ (_rejoiced at first, but quickly controls himself_).--Is that
written in the archbishop's letter?

_Botolf_ (_taking out a scroll of parchment_).--Here you may read it!

_Kolbein_.--Leader of the Birchlegs![A] That is a goodly army! No,
for that my health suffices no more--they all are brisk men! Tell the
archbishop that even if I were always in good health I would think it a
nobler thing to do battle against the Birchlegs than with them.

[Footnote A: The name of the Norwegian king Sverre's hardy soldiers.]

_Botolf_.--You are the only Icelander who hates Norway and its king,

_Kolbein_.--I remember too well that my father died in Norway an enemy
of the king and the archbishop. At that time I was thirteen years and
dull it seemed to me in Norway thereafter.

_Botolf_.--If such is the case, Gizur and Thord Kakali will stretch out
both their hands after the honors you now turn your back upon. Gizur has
already received honors from the king.

_Kolbein_.--I recall that Gizur has become his link-boy. It is strange
that he wanted to snuff candles for Kakon.

_Botolf_.--Gizur holds lands from the king and is his kinsman.

_Kolbein_.--Whatever the king may make of my kinsman Gizur, I know for
sure that he will never be able to give him the courage to take up arms
against me.

_Botolf_.--But he might go so far as to let Thord Kakali have his men,
and Thord would dare to fight with you.

_Kolbein_.--He does indeed! I shall have to kill Thord before

_Botolf_.--True is the saying that no chieftain in Iceland lays himself
down to sleep any day without danger!

_Kolbein_.--We are mortal men, we chieftains.

_Botolf_.--Will Gizur also have to be made a head shorter before
mid-summer, Kolbein, should he come to Iceland?

_Kolbein_.--Who can know what the future will bring, sir bishop?

(ASBJORN _and_ HAF _enter in headlong haste_.)

_Asbjorn_.--There is prospect of tidings; Broddi Thorleifsson comes
riding down the valley with two hundred armed men.

_Kolbein_ (_wrathfully, to the_ BISHOP).--What seeks my cousin Broddi at
Holar with two hundred men?

_Botolf_.--The peace of the land seems insecure to him and he is coming
hither for defending himself in the fort.

_Kolbein_.--You encourage men to rebellion against me, you devil in a
bishop's guise! Is that the peace the king and the archbishop intend to
bring to the land?

_Botolf_.--What means this wrath in God's church?

_Haf_.--What council shall we take, Kolbein? Broddi is advancing

_Kolbein_.--You, Asbjorn, will cross the mountains with a dozen men and
advise my wife Helga to draw all guards from the west as fast as is at
all possible. You yourself will continue your journey south over the
Kjol to Hjalti, the son of the bishop to come north at once with all the
men he can summon, to prevent difficulties here.

_Asbjorn_.--Indeed, a strenuous journey, now at the height of winter!

_Kolbein_.--Maintain the length of your days' journeys as if I were
along myself, and be back at Flugumyr by the next Sunday. (ASBJORN
_departs_.) But you, Haf, will take half of the company remaining, and
take position in the fortifications close by. The horses you will let
into the fort. The other half you will let take position on the outside
of the gates of the fort, so that we may leave it at our will. We shall
hold the fortification until help comes to us, if need be. Let all undo
the peace-straps[A] from their swords!

[Footnote A: Straps wound round the sheath and fastened to a ring in the

_Haf_.--I shall arrange all as you command. (_Departs_.)

_Kolbein_ (_to the_ BISHOP, _who is about to leave_).--Bide an instant,
bishop! Remain here at my side! If it appears that Broddi's men show any
hostilities towards me, I shall behead you here before the high altar.

_Botolf_ (_to himself_).--Broddi's men! Are they so wise, I wonder?
(_Aloud_.) You will permit me to speak with Kolbein Kaldajos, in order
that he may adjust our difficulties.

_Kolbein_.--Are you thinking perhaps that he should come here with his
men to take care of us?

_Botolf_.--Far from it. (_About to leave_.)

_Kolbein_ (_grasping the_ BISHOP _by the wrist_).--You will not go
hence alive, sir bishop; if you stir the church will have another saint
(_points to Bishop Gudmund's tomb_).

_Botolf_.--It would be a fair death for the servant of God. But unlikely
it is that you will accomplish this deed of violence, because God's
angels follow me wherever I go.

_Kolbein_.--I, too, have attendant wraiths; my victory at Orlygsstad,
my pursuits of Thord Kakali, my raid to Reykholar, and my journey over
Tvidægra Heath with thirty men.

_Botolf_.--Angels with black wings all, Kolbein!

_Kolbein_.--Whatever the hue of their wings, yet they cause me to come
out of every fray unscathed and more powerful than other men.

_Botolf_.--God has hardened your heart, Kolbein!

_Kolbein_.--And you, cease to aid my cousin Brand and Broddi, and never
release them from the interdict!

_Botolf_.--I have released them.

_Kolbein_.--That is an act of open hostility against me.

_Botolf_.--Whilst I am bishop I have the power of the keys, and not you.

_Kolbein_.--I have undone the gates of death for more men than I wished,
and _that_ power of the keys, I know, is not lies and wonders.

_Botolf_.--You have but one key, Kolbein, and that leads to hell. You
will have need for it to open its gates when you arrive there; in case
the Holy Church has not already opened them up for you.

_Kolbein_.--You threaten me with excommunication, bishop! Do not stir!
Now I have decided what I shall do with you. Next summer I shall put
you bodily in a sack and bring it on a ship and send you thus to the
archbishop.[A] (_Laughs heartily_.)

[Footnote A: The archbishop of Nidaros (Throndhjem), then primate of

_Botolf_.--God is my castle.

_Kolbein_.--And you shall have both food and your power of the keys on
top of you in your bag. That would teach Kakon and the archbishop to
appoint fewer bishops from Norway who are chiefly busy plotting to
betray Iceland. (_Laughs_.)

(KOLBEIN KALDALJOS _enters. The_ BISHOP _breathes relieved_.)

_Botolf_.--You are an enemy of God, Kolbein the Young!

_Kolbein_.--No friend of the king, you meant to say.

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--Broddi has taken a stand at Vidiness with two
hundred men. It seems he will order his troop there in battle array.

_Botolf_ (_to_ KOLBEIN THE YOUNG).--Your father's brother, Kolbein, fell
at Vidiness, the same perchance may betide you.

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--Pledge a truce to me on behalf of my son Brand and
his fellows.

_Kolbein_.--Brand holds no truce!

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--If you intend to slay my son you will find that
Broddi and his men will stand between you and Brand for this once.

_Kolbein_.--Hear you, bishop, will you forbear aiding Brand and Broddi,
if I now depart?


_Kolbein_.--Then shall I make the see at Holar even with the ground, as
soon as I return.

_Haf_ (_entering hurriedly_).--Broddi Thorleifsson has arranged his men
in fighting order at Vidiness, and now they are advancing this way in
battle array. I let our men mount their horses.

_Kolbein_.--You will follow me to Flugumyr, bishop. There are strong
fortifications. But if Broddi's men pursue us, or make other show of
hostility, I shall have you beheaded.

_Haf_.--Come, sir bishop.

_Botolf_ (_to_ KOLBEIN KALDALJOS).--If Kolbein commits such wickedness
you shall let the 'Peace of God' be rung over all the land until next
Monday evening; and then all the ill deeds he does meanwhile will become
two-fold crimes.

_Kolbein_.--'God's peace'--hm! That is a new thing in this land! In that
case I shall come after Monday and break to pieces 'Likabong' and the
other bells of the cathedral; then you will have to cease ringing for a
while, sir bishop.

_Botolf_.--Now the foul fiend talks through Kolbein's mouth.

_Haf_.--Come along with the foul fiend, sir!

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--The church needs men to guard it, the danger is
greater than ever. Give me the watchword, sir bishop.

_Botolf_ (_aside to_ KOLBEIN KALDALJOS).--God is our castle!

_Haf_.--Come along, sir bishop!

_Botolf_ (_to himself_).--Better I were a simple monk in Helgiseter
cloister in Norway, than be a weak bishop and stand between the feuds of
the chieftains of this land. But the king requested me.

(KOLBEIN THE YOUNG _and_ HAF _lead the_ BISHOP _away between them_.)

KOLBEIN KALDALJOS.--Oh the enormity to take the bishop prisoner in his
own cathedral. And yet we have won the victory. I shall let the 'Peace
of God' be rung out over the land, and that will protect the bishop from
all danger and also give my son Brand time to collect his forces.

(_Exit. The scene is empty a little while. Then_ BRODDI, ALF, _and the
other slayers of_ THOROLF _enter hurriedly_.)

_Broddi_.--Where is the bishop?

_Alf_.--I was told that Kolbein Kaldaljos was here. (KOLBEIN KALDALJOS
_enters again_.)

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--You come too late, Broddi. Kolbein the Young has
taken the bishop with him against his will to Flugumyr.

_Broddi_ (_aghast_).--Unlike Kolbein to other men. Who could have
thought of such an unheard-of thing?

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--And will kill the bishop, if you show any
hostilities against Kolbein.

_Alf_.--Will kill the bishop? Whenever has the like been heard, to take
a bishop out of his church against his will and threaten him with death!
He will straightway be doomed to hell when he dies, but not before
having made away with us all.

_Broddi_--I have two hundred men. Kolbein has not even one hundred and
will get no more before to-morrow evening. Who cares about the bishop's
life? He will have to die some day. I shall ride after Kolbein with
all my men, and the battle is won. Have you no message to me from the

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--He authorizes you to use the fortifications and
wishes you to defend the see.

_Broddi_.--What do I need the fortifications now? I have twice as many

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--The bishop has ordered to set a guard over the
see, and to ring out the 'Peace of God' over all the land.

_Broddi_ (_in furious wrath_).--The hellish coward! So afraid he was for
his life! A manifold crime it would be, then, if we attempt anything.
Better had it been for us Northlanders if the archbishop had appointed
a dog to be our bishop! (_The watchword is taken up outside, first near
by, then farther and farther away: 'God is our castle,' 'God is our
castle,'--'is our castle,' 'our castle,'--'castle.' The cathedral
bells begin ringing out the 'Peace of God_.' BRODDI _rushes at_ KOLBEIN
KALDALJOS.) Let them stop this ringing!

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--No, no, the bishop has commanded it.

_Broddi_ (_grips him with both hands at his shoulders and forces him on
his knees_).--Let them stop this ringing, wretch!

_Kolbein Kaldaljos_.--Hold the peace of the church, Broddi! I am an old

_Broddi_ (_letting go of_ KOLBEIN).--But a few moments ago our fight
with Kolbein was altogether won, but now it is (_casts his steel glove
on the floor_) altogether lost.

(_The ringing continues vigorously while the curtain drops_.)


(_The 'Little Hall' at Reynistad. Daytime. Enter_ LADY HELGA, JORUN,
_and her two sons_, KALF, _eight years, and_ THORGEIR, _six years_.)

_Jorun_.--What do you need for your journey, lady? I do not know whether
I can assist you, because there is no one but women at home.

_Helga_.--That knew I well that only women were at home. I need
ice-spurs for my horse, or else he will fall under me and I lose life or

_Jorun_.--You are welcome to our horseshoes as to all other things,

_Helga_.--Harden well the ice-spurs for my horse, Haf. It seems to me
that most iron is soft at Reynistad.

_Haf_.--It shall be done, lady! (_Exit_.)

_Jorun_.--Soft iron bends but does not break!

_Helga_.--Neither does it remain sharp long.

_Jorun_.--Are you finding fault with my husband and me because we
observe the 'Peace of God'? I might easily let the women fetch so many
of my servants as would be needed to take you and Haf prisoners.

_Helga_.--Yes, if we waited until they came. But let us drop this;
rather show me your boys, because I should like to see what will become
of them when they grow up.

_Jorun_.--There are but few that can see that in such small boys,
excepting their own mother.

_Helga_ (_sits down and extends her hand_).--Come to me, Kalf, my
foster-son. (KALF _comes up to her_.) What do you want to be when you
grow up? A bishop?

_Kalf_.--I want to become a great chieftain!

_Helga_.--What chieftain would you most want to be like?

_Kalf_.--The one who commands the greatest army.

_Helga_.--You want to command a great army, foster-son?

_Kalf_.--Yes, and be victorious in many battles.

_Helga_ (_placing_ KALF _on her knee_).--I think as before about my
foster-son Half. In him you will bring up a man fit to be a chieftain,
Jorun, though I know not how fit you are for that task.

_Jorun_.--My sons will have to be satisfied with such bringing up as I
am able to give them.

_Helga_,--Which chieftain would you most like to be?

_Kalf_.--Kolbein the Young.

_Helga_.--Older people ought to say that! (_To_ THORGEIR.) But what do
you most like to become, little tot? (THORGEIR _comes up to her_.)

_Thorgeir_.--Like father. (_Puts a finger into his mouth_.)

_Helga_.--Do you want to be a priest?

_Thorgeir_.--I want to be like my papa. (HELGA _gazes at him; he retires
behind his mother, concealing his face in her gown, and cries_.)

_Jorun_.--You must not make my boy cry, lady.

_Helga_--You may keep that boy yourself. But give me your boy Kalf along
to Flugumyr, for that would further reconciliations. I wish to be the
mother of a chieftain.

_Kalf_.--Will you give me sword and helmet, and shield, then?

_Helga_.--Yes, my boy, a shield with an eagle on it.

_Jorun_.--A woman who herself has no children is not destined to be
mother to a chieftain. My son Kalf shall never come into your hands
whilst I live. I wish him to learn works of peace, and not warfare and

_Helga_.--Let your Thorgeir be ordained priest, as kinsmen of yours have
done. (_Stands_ KALF _on the floor, getting up herself and stroking him
on his head_.) But be careful to raise Kalf in such a manner that he
become a successor to my husband and his father.

_Jorun_.--Go now, boys! (_The boys leave the room_.) You say that Kalf
will be the successor of your husband and of his father?

_Helga_.--You know about the ill health of my husband Kolbein, which
may take him away earlier than one might suspect. And yet it may be that
Brand Kolbeinsson will not live even as long as he.

_Jorun_.--What is that you say? As a fact I know that Hjalti, the son of
the bishop, is not coming from the South to settle our differences!

_Helga_ (_laughs_).--He, the cod-biter! His men were all at the
fishing-stations when Asbjorn arrived in the South. Hjalti is coming by
no means, and my husband is raging at him.

_Jorun_.--You must have stirred up Kolbein the Young in this matter as
never before. Did you not drive home with the corpse of Thorolf, saying
to him that there was life in him still; but when he took Thorolf out
of your sleigh his head rolled about Kolbein's feet. Nor was that to be
wondered at, considering the love that was between you and Thorolf.

_Helga_.--The slayers of Thorolf themselves incited me most.

_Jorun_.--And now it may appear to you as though not only Thorolf was to
be avenged. Asbjorn fared South with eleven men and returned alone. He
lost all men in the winter storms that have been raging now for some
time. At last there were only six who returned over the Kjol, without
food and worn out. Man after man threw himself down on the frozen ground
to die; they cursed the wars that will not let men die in peace with
God and men, they cursed Brand Kolbeinsson, and Broddi, and Kolbein the
Young, because it is they who are the cause of this war.

_Helga_.--You say the truth about the journey of Asbjorn from the South.
But I shall forget about all that, and shall procure the best terms for
your husband from Kolbein, if you will give me your boy Kalf to foster
and to let me bring him up. It has become rather solitary about me now
at Flugumyr!

_Jorun_.--And you wish that I shall bring up my sons so that dying men
shall curse them?

_Helga_.--You shall surrender the boy to me, whether you like it or no.

_Jorun_.--Then would I rather die!

_Helga_.--Weak spirit! My husband has promised me the life of a man in
this feud, and also that I might choose who it shall be.

_Jorun_.--Then I _know_ that it will be the life of my husband.

_Helga_.--You spoke of the love between me and Thorolf Bjarnason. I
shall not deny it. Thorolf summoned your husband before the judgment
of God before he was put to death. Now he is dead I can do nothing more
pleasing to him than to see to it that Brand Kolbeinsson follow the
summons in due time.

_Jorun_.--You are a devil, Helga! You dare to treat thus a chieftain as
beloved as Brand Kolbeinsson?

_Helga_.--Loud you exclaim now, my lady! Yet I am better than you
think me. If Brand is as beloved a chieftain as you make him out to
be, somebody will surely be ready to die in his place; and that will I
promise you that I shall give your husband full release, and kill _him_
instead who offers himself to that end. (_She laughs_.)

_Jorun_.--You promise me that because you know full well that no one
will do that.

_Helga_.--Is not Brand Kolbeinsson a beloved chieftain?

_Jorun_.--Yet you will stand by your word neither to me nor my husband.

_Helga_.--When did I ever fail to live up to my promise?

_Jorun_.--Did you never say that you would love your husband?

_Helga_.--When I was given to Kolbein I never once was asked whether
I would love him, so that if I have been much lacking in this matter I
have never deceived him in any way. Your husband may rest assured that
if any one offer to die instead of so highly beloved a chieftain, then
shall I take that man's life, and not Brand's.

_Haf_ (_coming in again_).--Now your horse is provided with ice-spurs.
Make haste; I see men riding this way. (LADY HELGA _and_ HAF _depart_.)

_Jorun_ (_throwing up her hands in dismay_).--And to-night the Peace of
God is at an end! Holy mother of God! Rather extinguish the sun than let
my husband be taken from me and put to death. Rather extinguish the sun
than let this war continue. The earth does not deserve to exist when no
one obeys the command of love and peace.

_Brand_ (_enters_).--You are praying?

_Jorun_.--Lady Helga departed but this moment; she said to me that her
husband had promised her the life of a man in this feud, and that she
intended to choose yours.

_Brand_.--It is altogether uncertain as yet whether kinsman Kolbein will
get power over my life.

_Jorun_.--Hjalti, the bishop's son, will not come to effect a settlement
between you.

_Brand_.--I am not so sure whether we shall need him. Broddi has two
hundred men, and if Deacon Sigurd and Helgi Skaftason manage to get any
men it is likely that we shall have a greater host than kinsman Kolbein.
(SIGURD, _deacon, enters_. BRAND _goes to meet him_.) You come late,

_Sigurd_.--I have been going about asking for help, as you bade me, and
I may as well say in few words that no one will take up arms for you,
excepting only your tenants, if you mean to begin hostilities against
Kolbein the Young.

_Brand_.--That had I not expected.

_Sigurd_.--People are saying that the district is growing poor through
warfare, that brothers, fathers, or sons lie buried on battlefields in
all directions, and that they want to know where to look for their bones
before more men are sent to their death.

_Brand_.--I have not been the cause of warring hitherto, and these same
men will take to their arms by the hundreds, whenever Kolbein the Young
summons them, and yet half of the lands he now rules are really mine.

_Sigurd_.--That I told them also; but I cannot tell you what they
answered thereupon!

_Brand_.--You certainly must!

_Sigurd_.--They said that Kolbein had ever been victorious in war, but
you never.

_Brand_ (_gloomy_).--It is true, I have not been victorious!

(HELGI SKAFTASON _enters_. BRAND _goes to meet him_.)

_Brand_.--What tidings have you from, the West?

_Helgi_ (_leaning wearily on his axe_).--The weather has been very bad--

_Brand_.--I know that! I know that!

_Helgi_.--I found the men on guard in the West. When I came to the first
of them, the messengers of Lady Helga were there. Both they and the
guards raised a great outcry against me, and I owe it to my horse and
the storm that I escaped with my life. At the second and the third post
it went the same way.

_Brand_.--And no one wanted to follow me?

_Helgi_.--They all said that you always suffered the most disgraceful
reverses, while victory was perched on the helmet of Kolbein.

_Brand_.--I did not have the hardness and the ruthlessness of my kinsman
Kolbein to kill men.

_Jorun_.--And it is better not to be ruthless.

_Helgi_.--I went to the peasants in the West, but got the worst
reception. Often I did not even get food. I was allowed to stay
overnight only in the outhouses. At Bolstadahlid the hut burned down in
which I slept. I do not know whether the farmer intended to burn me in
it, but three armed men were standing outside when I made my escape from
the fire. They did nothing to put out the fire, but neither did they
attack me. Maybe that they were not minded to seek a night's shelter
under my axe. After that I was not allowed to come into the house. I
stood under the house wall during the remainder of the night, with my
axe on my shoulder, and looking into the fire. Now I have come here!

_Brand_.--Our cause is altogether lost. Yeoman Thorvard tries to murder
my messenger! (_Murmurs to himself_.) Thorolf said, 'He shall shun
churches and Christian people, the houses of God and the houses of men,
and every home but hell.'

_Jorun_.--You will have to fight against terrible odds.

_Einar the Rich_ (_enters with a pair of scales and a gold ring in his
hand_).--Now I shall ride home by the fastest and shall return within a
short while with twenty men.

_Brand_.--That will be excellent, Einar. (_Exeunt_ BRAND _and_ JORUN.)

_Einar_.--Deacon Sigurd, what weighs the ring you wear on your arm

_Sigurd_.--Why do you ask?

_Einar_.--A ring has been paid me for a debt, and I want to weigh it

_Sigurd_.--My ring weighs four ounces.

_Einar_.--Mine was to weigh as much; let me have yours for a moment!

_Sigurd_ (_takes_ THOROLF'S _ring off his arm and gives it to
him_).--But let me have it back at once!

_Einar_ (_weighs the rings. As soon as_ SIGURD _looks away he exchanges
the rings; handing_ SIGURD _the other_).--Thank you, deacon. Here is
your ring! I am astonished that a priest should wear so precious a piece
of gold on his arm.

_Sigurd_.--This ring is not my own. (_Puts it on_.)

_Einar_.--I did not know that. Farewell, friends! (_Exit_.)

_Helgi Skaftason_ (_approaches closely to_ DEACON SIGURD).--I dreamed
last night that I stood out of doors and looked up at the sky, and I
thought I saw streams of blood run over all the sky. And down below
on earth shone flames that licked up to the vault of heaven from all

_Sigurd_.--You became aware in your sleep that the hut was burning about

_Helgi_.--No! I dreamed this dream three times, and awoke each time and
never became aware of the fire. The end of the dream was most terrible
and always the same.

_Sigurd_.--And what was the end of it?

_Helgi_.--Meseemed Thorolf Bjarnason drowned me in blood, and then I
awoke and thought I was in hell.

_Sigurd_.--Put no faith in that hellish dream. You dreamed about the end
of the world.

_Helgi_.--Yes, my world is at an end. The eyes of Lady Helga marked me
for death, when I dried the blade of my axe on the fringes of her veil.

_Sigurd_.--That was indeed a most unfortunate act!

_Helgi_.--Thorolf had been her lover for many years.

_Sigurd_.--I do not know about that. I am not her father confessor.

_Sigurd_.--No. She has the father devil as father confessor, but not

_Sigurd_.--You speak ill of so great a lady.

_Helgi_.--And I shall have to sell my life and salvation as dearly as I
ever may. (_Sobs_.) Help me, deacon, I sink, I sink!

_Sigurd_ (_taking his ring off his arm_).--Take this ring! And ride at
once to Flugumyr and give it to Lady Helga, with this last message from
Thorolf Bjarnason that you shall have peace for life and limb, although
you have slain him.

_Helgi_.--That ring? That is the ring of Einar the Rich!

_Sigurd_.--Ah, the wretch stole the right ring, and now he has ridden
away! Holy Mother of God, then I know not what to do for you!

_Helgi_ (_close to him, as before_).--I shall not live more than three
days, and then I shall awake in the place I dreamed of. Deacon, as sure
as you want to be saved yourself, read masses for my soul when I am

_Sigurd_.--I shall, depend on it. It may be your dream signifies the
fall of that chieftain whom you shall harm most. I dreamed (BRAND
_and_ JORUN _appear behind them_), that night when I lodged at Sauda--I
dreamed three times in succession that Brand Kolbeinsson stood at my
bedside and said, 'Domine Jesu Christe, accipe spiritum meum!'

_Helgi_.--And what mean these words?

_Sigurd_.--My Lord Jesus Christ, receive thou my soul!

_Jorun_ (_throwing her arms about_ BRAND).--Never let such dreams
trouble you, my dear husband. (_The others are startled by her words_.)

_Brand_.--Thorolf prophesied to me that I would not have a priest near
me when I was put to death.

_Jorun_.--That prophecy shall not come true, in case you really should
suffer a sudden death now. Come into the church, deacon, and shrive me
and my husband.

_Sigurd_.--Come along with us into the church, Helgi Skaftason! For it
is the last refuge of every man.

_Helgi_.--I want to have my food, and no consecrated host! And when I
am done eating it is better I should see how the watches are kept. Never
forget those masses, deacon!

(_All depart. After a little while_ KALF _and_ THORGEIR _poke their
heads in and enter, when they see that the room is empty_.)

_Kalf_.--Nobody here; come now, we are going to play.

_Thorgeir_.--Yes, play great, big men!

_Kalf_.--Father is going to fight against Kolbein the Young now, and
Broddi with him. Will you be Broddi?

_Thorgeir_.--No, I want to be papa!

_Kalf_.--Then you want to be what I wanted to be; so I shall be Kolbein
the Young. So, now let's begin.

_Thorgeir_.--Yes, and I am papa.

_Kalf_.--Now first we have got to fight one another.

_Thorgeir_.--No. Because I am papa!

_Kalf_ (_commands_).--Draw up your forces in battle array, Brand
Kolbeinsson! Come now, Geiri, and play with me; we must fight now!

_Thorgeir_.--You are out of your mind! Why do you want to rush at me? I
who am father? (_Kneels down in the background, folding his hands over
his breast, looking down and moving his lips_.)

_Kalf_.--Why, don't you remember that I am Kolbein the Young? Now the
battle begins! (_Commanding_.) Order your troops, Brand Kolbeinsson!
Defend yourself! Are you running and hiding yourself now, Brand

_Thorgeir_.--No, I am in church and saying my prayers.

_Kalf_.--I shall teach you saying prayers when you are to fight with
me! (_Angrily_.) Now I am dragging you out of church, Brand Kolbeinsson.
(_Grasps him and drags him out to the middle of the floor_. THORGEIR
_remains on his knees_.) There, now you have got out of church!

_Thorgeir_.--No, papa is still in the church!

_Kalf_.--Now you are out of it! Cut off his head, Helgi Skaftason!
(_Grasps_ THORGEIR _by his shoulder and lifts up his other hand_.)

_Thorgeir_ (_still kneeling_).--Are you out of your mind? Do you want
to kill me, who am papa--and I--while I am in church,--and--and--and
I--while I am saying my prayers?

_Kalf_ (_lifting up his hand_).--Cut off his head, Helgi Skaftason!

_Thorgeir_ (_as before, weeping_).--Mamma! Mamma! Mamma!

_Kalf_ (_stamping, with commanding voice_).--Cut off his head, Helgi
Skaftason! (_Enter_ JORUN. THORGEIR _is weeping_.)

_Jorun_.--What are you doing there, boys? Why are you crying, Thorgeir?

_Kalf_.--We are playing here.

_Thorgeir_ (_tearfully_).--He wants to cut my head off,--I who am papa,
and in church, and praying.

_Kalf_.--Yes, and I was Kolbein the Young, and wanted to have Helgi
Skaftason behead him--just in play.

_Jorun_.--Don't cry any more, my boy. (_Caresses_ THORGEIR.) And you,
Kalf, do you want to have your father beheaded in your game? No more
such games! (_Slaps_ KALF.)

_Kalf_.--You slap me? I who am Kolbein the Young? So you think he will
allow himself to be slapped with impunity by a woman?

_Jorun_.--How does this lion's whelp come among us? I had rather not
live than bring up rovers. Never more play war, Kalf! Protect those that
are weak! (_Embraces_ THORGEIR, _leads the boys to the door, and calls
out_:) Put Kalf into the dark room for a while!

_Broddi_ (_shouts from without_).--I must get to speak with you, Brand
Kolbeinsson! Quick, quick!

_Jorun_.--Broddi here! There comes war incarnate mailed from head to
foot. May God have pity on all wives!

(_Enter_ BRAND _without arms and_ BRODDI _all armed_.)

_Broddi_.--You have collected a good and well-armed body of men?

_Brand_.--I have had great difficulty in gathering troops. I have only
my tenants and my servants, altogether eighty men.

_Broddi_.--And whilst I make the fort at Holar unconquerable, whilst I
break up the frozen ground, whilst I pour water over all the ramparts of
our stronghold so that they become like slippery ice--meanwhile you
have done nothing. You sing hymns in the churches, beat your breast, and
chant 'Miserere.' Your conduct is not becoming a chieftain.

_Jorun_.--You speak harshly to my husband because he wants peace before
all things.

_Broddi_.--Peace! Whoever heard of peace after violent dissensions,
except the battles be won or--lost?

_Brand_.--You know, Broddi, that I egged on neither you nor others to
take Thorolf Bjarnason's life. And yet have I done all in my power to
collect many men. I sent Deacon Sigurd and Helgi Skaftason----

_Broddi_.--The priest and the executioner?--and, of course, only these

_Brand_.--Yes, I had but few men at home, at that time.

_Broddi_.--You do not know how to get a body of men together! You send
the priest with the crucifix in his hand. All know that he wishes peace,
and no one rises for him. You send the hangman with the axe on his
shoulder to remind people of his business, but you forget that with such
a fellow no one will speak. In such wise you will not get a pack of dogs
to follow you. But if you want to raise a great host you will have to
go out yourself with sixty men and kill two or three of the first that
refuse to follow you. Thus did Kolbein the Young collect his troops at
first, and because Kalf Guttormsson would not bear arms against Sighvat,
his good friend, both he and his son were slain.

_Jorun_.--How often the murder of my father and brother is mentioned,
and no one cares though I hear it.

_Brand_.--I have been heavily oppressed with care. I have been summoned
before the tribunal of God because of having violated a pledged truce;
and my kinswoman Helga will be intent on making me follow that summons.
And now the priest in my house has dreamed thrice in the same night that
I stood by his bedside and prayed God to receive my soul.

_Broddi_.--Dreams signify nothing. The summons you talk about I think
nothing but old women's notions. The tribunal of arms is the one I
believe in; they are to decide between us and Kolbein the Young.

_Brand_.--Is it your opinion that we can overcome my kinsman Kolbein
with less force than he has himself?

_Broddi_.--The fortifications at Holar are impregnable now. Together
with your men we have more than three hundred men, and I have moved
victuals into the fort from the bishop's residence which ought to last
us for three weeks.

_Brand_.--You have robbed the bishop's see!

_Broddi_.--No, I have come by the victuals in an honest manner. You know
that warriors may take as their own all food they find. I should like
to see my brother-in-law Kolbein attack us by scaling these ramparts of
ice, and see his men tumble down from above, and the ice coloring red
under them.

_Jorun_.--My husband shudders at that sport; he is sick in his soul.

_Broddi_ (_seizing_ BRAND).--There is no time now to have a sick soul.
We shall have to fight. As soon as my brother-in-law Kolbein has made
an onset at our fort and lost many men he will himself see fit to obtain
conditions of peace from us.

_Brand_.--That will he never!

_Broddi_.--Maybe, maybe.

_Brand_.--It will cost many lives to attack and defend Holar this time.
Ought we to sacrifice them all merely to lengthen our own lives by a few

_Broddi_.--Lives? Worth, each, one or two hundred ounces of silver!
Brand, you do not know the joy there is in fighting! Every man in the
fort has sworn to fall at his post. And I shall spare no effort, so that
he who will set down an account of it will be able to say with truth
that our last defence was the most glorious ever told of in sagas, and
that the fame thereof shall last while there live men in this land.

_Brand_.--I shall come to Holar, unless I find better counsel which you
approve of.

HELGI _between them. He has a bandage over his eyes_.)

_The Clerk Helgi_.--Pax vobiscum! May Brand Kolbeinsson hear my voice?

_Brand_.--He is here.

_Helgi_.--What other persons are here?

_Brand_.--Broddi Thorleifsson and Jorun, my wife!

_Helgi_.--It is without the knowledge of Kolbein the Young and to bear
word from Bishop Botolf that I am here. Will all of you keep silent
about my coming here?


_Helgi_.--Then take the bandage from my eyes!

_Broddi_.--No. What happenings are there at Flugumyr?

_Helgi_.--I am no spy. My errand is to hand you the bishop's letter,
Brand Kolbeinsson. (_Holds out the parchment, which_ BRAND _seizes_.)

_Brand_.--Have you other messages besides?

_Helgi_.--No! (_Stretches forth both his hands_.) Give me your hands,
my sons. (BRAND _and_ BRODDI _clasp them_.) The very next time Asbjorn
Illugason meets you, Broddi, he means to exchange blows with you.

_Broddi_.--Glad I am that Kolbein, my brother-in-law, at least does not
bid some contemptible wretch to dispatch me. (HELGI SKAFTASON _leads out
the_ CLERK HELGI.) The bishop's letter! The bishop's letter!

_Sigurd_ (_reads_).--Botolf of Holar, a poor servant of the Holy Church
and prisoner at Flugumyr, sends to Brand Kolbeinsson and his friends
God's greetings and his. Pax vobiscum! You and your companions are not
to put overmuch trust in the fortifications of Holar, because from the
church, the dwelling house, and outhouses in the inclosure there lead
secret passages into them which are known to Kolbein the Young, but not
to me.

_Broddi_.--And that he could not have told us before, the hell-hound!

_Sigurd_ (_reads_).--Through the eggings on of Helga his wife, Kolbein
is now become so frantic and furious that some of my clerks think he
cannot suffer the sound of a bell. He has threatened to break down the
fort of Holar, to spare no one, and has promised his Lady Helga the life
of a man, whomever she will choose.

_Broddi_ (_laughs_).--I wonder whether she will have my life?

_Brand_.--No. It will be my life she desires.

_Jorun_.--She shall never have it.

_Alf_.--My head she wants, the vixen!

_Helgi_.--I need not guess _whose_ life it will be.

_Sigurd_ (_continues_).--But I fear that the mercy of God will most
readily fall to your share if all the men who were present at the
slaying of Thorolf submit themselves unconditionally to Kolbein before
the 'Peace of God' is at an end; then I would hope that you will be
fortunate enough to pacify Kolbein's mind, so that full reconciliation
may be obtained, of which Kolbein also stands in great need because of
Thord Kakali and the King. Valete!

_Brand_.--The counsel of the bishop will be the best for all of us. The
slayers of Thorolf Bjarnason ought not to jeopardize other men's life to
save their own. Lady Helga has told my wife that she meditated my death,
because of the slaying of Thorolf; and though I have but little incited
you to the deed, so that it may be said to have been done against my
will even, yet will I for the welfare of the district rather give myself
up to Kolbein and suffer death, than that many men should lose their
lives because of us; and rather than that my kinsman Kolbein should be
routed by Thord Kakali through the insurrection which I and Broddi have
raised against him. (_Silence_.)

_Sigurd_.--Spoken like a man, Brand Kolbeinsson! (_Exit_ JORUN.)

_Broddi_.--We have sworn to each other not to separate before that this
our cause was entirely brought to an end; now I see your highmindedness,
Brand Kolbeinsson, as I have seen it before. The bishop has torn from
under me my trust in the fort. Hence I shall take that council to fare
to Flugumyr with you, whilst I maintain that it is entirely doubtful
as yet who is to die, Kolbein the Young, Brand, or I; but that I think
sure, also, that short time will pass between the death of any one of us

_Alf_.--Let all of us go to Flugumyr and surrender to Kolbein. Will you
not go with us, Helgi Skaftason?

_Helgi_.--No one can escape his fate. I shall do what Brand does. But it
is certain death for me!

_Broddi_.--Let us go then! (_Enter_ JORUN _with_ KALF _and_ THORGEIR.)

_Jorun_.--Say farewell to your father, my boys! He intends to start on
the longest journey in this world.

_Kalf_ (_going up to his father_).--Do you mean to go to war now,

_Brand_ (_lifts him up and kisses him_).--Your mother said I intended to
start on the longest journey in this world.

_Kalf_.--Then you intend to start out to Rome. That I do not mean to do,
once I am a chieftain. (BRAND _sets him down on the floor again_.)

_Brand_.--It may be that I come to Rome; but that Rome lies high aloft.
(KALF _goes up to_ BRODDI.) Now you come to me, Thorgeir! (THORGEIR
_goes up to him. He takes him on his lap_.) Don't weep, my little boy,
if I be late returning to-morrow.

_Thorgeir_.--Don't go away from me, father! Let the others go to war,
but you remain at home yourself!

_Brand_.--No, I cannot stay here; if I remain here there will be
fighting here and killing of men; but if I go I shall return with peace.

_Thorgeir_.--Oh yes! Peace is good, let me have it when you return, so I
can put it into my toy box. I will not break it at all.

_Broddi_.--The boy is right. All the peace that now exists in Iceland
may be put into a linen chest.

_Brand_ (_kisses the boy and sets him down_).--Yes, keep it well, my
boy. If you obtain it you will never have to start out on the journey
that I now must take.

_Kalf_.--You are not going to Rome, Broddi?

_Broddi_.--No. Not just now!

_Kalf_.--You are going to war, Broddi! I wish I were grown up, too!

_Broddi_.--I should like, if I might, strike one great blow, before
going to Rome with your father.

_Kalf_.--And let that blow become far famed, Broddi!

(JORUN _leads the boys out. They go to the door. Some depart_.)

_Jorun_.--Have you nothing to say to me, my husband, before going?

_Brand_.--Do not weep when I am gone. (_They embrace each other
closely_.) Make our sons love peace! And always think that I have said
that to you which you most wish I had said to you.

(_All except_ DEACON SIGURD _and_ JORUN _leave_.)

_Jorun_.--Now I declare myself in league with the holy queen Maria, as
did Guttorm, my brother, before he was slain! (_Approaches_ SIGURD.) I
shall travel with you to Flugumyr to try whether I may save the life of
my husband.

_Broddi_.--What may a woman effect in such a great feud? It will be a
most perilous journey. Who knows what may happen there!

_Jorun_.--The life of my husband is more precious to me than my own. But
I need a man's clothes, deacon, and then let us ride after the others.
Lend me the garments of your son who died when half grown. Permit me to
wear them on the journey, so that no one may recognize me at Flugumyr.

_Sigurd_ (_drying a tear_).--You are welcome to the boy's clothes.

_Jorun_.--And that you will have to promise me, deacon, to let no one
know who I am, whatever happen.

_Sigurd_ (_hands her a key, wiping off a tear_).--I promise it. The
boy's clothes lie in my chest under my vestments. Take them and may they
help you, Lady Jorun, you blessed woman!

_Jorun_.--There is still more to do, deacon. While I get myself ready,
you are to tell the stewardess that she is to give the servant girls and
men servants the food they choose to have, and as much and as good food
as if it were prepared for a banquet.

_Sigurd_.--It does not seem to me, though, as if any festival were at
hand this evening.

_Jorun_.--Do as I bid you! Probable it is that this will be the last
time that I have prepared food for my servants. (_She takes the crucifix
from her neck, hangs it upon a chair and kneels down before the
cross_. DEACON SIGURD _looks at her awhile, then leaves the room in all



(_The 'Great Hall' at Flugumyr, with raised seats along both walls and
a dais at the gable end. The entrance door is at the right, in the side
wall towards_ _the background. The upper part of the walls is draped
with hangings, the lower part with shields hung up. Along the side walls
are benches; two high seats in the foreground on either side; in front
of the higher one a little table. In the middle of the dais is the seat
of_ LADY HELGA, _with benches behind it. The evening candles are lit on
all sides_.) (HELGA _and_ SALVOR.)

_Helga_.--You do well to take a part of the domestic work off my

_Salvor_.--You have been very kind to me, Lady Helga.

_Helga_.--To-morrow early I need breakfast for five hundred men.

_Salvor_.--All hands are at work, lady!

_Helga_.--To-morrow the chieftains are to do battle; have you bandages
enough, ready? A good physician is worth half an army.

_Salvor_.--There will not be any want of bandages. (_She embraces_
HELGA, _half weeping_.) Let the chieftains make peace, lady!

_Helga_.--That would amount to humbling my husband! (_Seats herself on
her chair on the dais_.) Bishop Botolf has promised to sit with us in
the hall here to-night; have two tapers, large and thick, placed on the
table in front of the high seat.

(EINAR THE RICH _enters hurriedly and runs up on the dais. He lays his
head on the knees of_ LADY HELGA. SALVOR _shrieks in fright_.)

_Einar_.--I am bringing you my head, lady!

_Helga_.--Why shriek so, Salvor?--Who are you?

_Einar_.--I am Einar of Vik.

_Helga_.--Good is your gift, and I shall gladly accept it! Salvor! Ask
Asbjorn Illugason to come here. I desire that he shall behead Einar the
Rich. (_Exit_ SALVOR.)

_Einar_ (_quickly takes_ THOROLF'S _ring from his arm_).--Spare my life;
for God's sake, mercy, mercy, mercy!

_Helga_.--You shall obtain the same mercy as did Thorolf Bjarnason!

_Einar_.--Do you know this ring, lady?

_Helga_ (_attentively looking at the ring_).--That ring I know; did you
steal it from the body of Thorolf?

_Einar_.--Steal? As rich a man as I am? No, Thorolf bade me give you
this ring, lady, with this message----

_Helga_ (_approaching him, eagerly_).--What message? What message? Was
that just before he was slain?

_Einar_.--Yes, just before that!

_Helga_.--And the message? Are you tongue-tied?

_Einar_.--That I should be spared, life and limb, although I had been
among his assailants.

_Helga_.--Did Thorolf mention any others to be spared beside you?

_Einar_.--No, none!

_Helga_.--The ring is the right sign. If Thorolf has forgiven you, why
should I not do likewise? (_Leads him out_.) Wait here in that corner; I
shall spare you.

_Asbjorn_ (_comes in hurriedly_).--Are you in danger, lady?

_Helga_.--No. A man's life was given me which I did not wish to take,

_Asbjorn_.--I feared it might be some attack by Broddi and his men.

_Helga_.--Broddi will soon become peacefully inclined. (_Enter_ KOLBEIN
THE YOUNG, BISHOP BOTOLF _in his pontifical robes_, HAF, _and_ SALVOR,
_bearing two big, stout tapers which are lit. The hall becomes half
filled with armed men_.)

_Botolf_.--Pax tecum, filia!

_Helga_ (_bows before the bishop and leads him to the higher seat of
honor_).--Be seated on this higher seat of honor this evening, my
lord. To-morrow an army of my husband's will accompany you to Holar
and re-establish you in your see, as soon as we shall have driven from
thence Broddi's and Brand's troop of rebels.

_Botolf_.--A captive bishop is content to be seated on the lower high
seat, my daughter!

_Helga_.--As you wish, my lord. (_Leads him to the lower seat of honor,
where he is seated_. SALVOR _moves the table to the lower high seat and
puts the tapers upon it. Most of the men are sitting; drink-horns and
ale are brought in_.)

_Kolbein_ (_is given a drinking-horn_, BOTOLF _another, from whom they
are passed on from man to man_. KOLBEIN _seats himself on the higher
seat of honor_).--There is courage in our men; they all are minded to do
battle in order to be rid of that horde of rebels.

_Botolf_.--You take much power upon yourself, Kolbein, to begin war and
kill so many men without law and its decrees.

_Kolbein_.--Why do you speak thus, my lord? You freed the slayers of
Thorolf from the interdict; and yet they slew him without the law and
its decrees.

_Botolf_.--It is a labor of love for the Holy Church to pardon the
guilty. We do it for God's sake.

_Kolbein_.--And it is the task of chieftains to administer the laws
themselves, and to begin hostilities in order to make others submit to
their will.

(_The horns pass around until_ HAF _has finished reciting his lay_.)

_Botolf_.--An ill task and a disastrous one. To me it seems that
parliament ought to administer the laws and pronounce judgment according
to them.

_Kolbein_.--We chieftains have all power over law and decrees in
parliament. It would only delay sentence to seek a decision there.

_Botolf_.--It has come to my ears that Brand Kolbeinsson owns by rights
the greater part of the dominions you now govern, and that, for this
reason you are not rightfully chieftain here.

_Kolbein_.--I, as well as Brand, am of the race of Asbjorn, and Sighvat
Sturluson put me in possession of the land when I was but fifteen years

_Botolf_.--And therefore had you Sighvat and his sons killed in the
battle of Orlygsstad.

_Kolbein_.--Sighvat wanted to lure my constituents from me by his wiles.
The yeomen chose me their chieftain twenty years ago, and ever since I
have performed, now this, now that deed, so that the yeomen would not
choose another chieftain in my stead. Therefore is it right that I
should be chieftain here. But to my ears it has come that you, my lord,
have not lawfully come to be bishop at Holar!

_Helga_ (_drinks from the horn and smiles_).--To your health, sir

_Botolf_ (_responds after a while to her toast_).--You astonish me! The
archbishop appointed me!

_Kolbein_.--No one becomes lawfully bishop of Holar until we of the
North Quarter have chosen him. And you we have not chosen, my lord! You
are bishop here as long as I will, and no longer. Another matter it is
that I shall do all to be at peace with the Holy Church, because the
days of my life are probably counted.

_Botolf_.--I have now learned how strong your desire for peace is,

_Helga_.--Remember, my lord, that Kolbein thought it a matter of
necessity that you should be his guest for a few days. I have treated
you as well, sir, as my work would permit me and you would accept.

_Botolf_.--And yet they say that you more than any other were cause of
the state of war that now exists, and that your flattering of me is but

_Helga_.--They are my enemies who tell you that, sir bishop! (HELGA
_leaves her seat_. ASBJORN, _who has been speaking with a man,
approaches her. They converse together in subdued voice in the

_Asbjorn_.--Shall I tell Kolbein that Brand Kolbeinsson is riding to
Flugumyr with eleven followers?

_Helga_.--No! Remember Helgi Skaftason, should he come with Brand.

_Asbjorn_.--Come he will if he is fated to death.

_Helga_.--Is Broddi along?

_Asbjorn_.--He is likely to be at Holar in the fort.

_Helga_ (_goes to her seat. Raises her voice_). There is no cheer here
to-night. Haf! Have you no song to recite or some tale to tell?

_Haf_ (_advancing to middle of floor_).--I have put together a little
song about the present feud.

_Helga_.--Let men hear it, Haf!

_Haf_.--Hither I see the ravens winging,
    They steer their flight to Holar's steeple
  On their errand bent death bringing;
  Hard the bishop's bells are ringing:
    Longest peals great Likabong:[A]
  'The Peace of God shall save the people.'

[Footnote A: 'Lyke-knell,' name of the great bell of the Holar Cathedral.]

  Heroes head their warlike forces,
    Mailed fists 'gainst shields are clashing,
  Over Herad's water-courses
  Thunder thousand hoofs of horses,
    Over fords and bridges dashing.
  Long afar moans Likabong.

  Death foretells the cock's dawn-greeting:
    Many a fey man's fair limbs mangles
  Soon the sword and spear in meeting.
  Hot the Northland blood is beating!
  Low and dull weeps Likabong.
    The shiv'ring Southron sea-cod angles.

_Helga_.--Excellent! That's aimed at Hjalti, the son of the bishop,--the

_Haf_.--Peace,--how many a foe will crave her!
    In Woden's spoor the sward is bloody--
  Many a head the swords dissever;
  Be our host victorious ever!
  Silent lastly Likabong--
    Women weep for men once ruddy.

_Botolf_.--Little your skald's song contributes to the honor of the
Church as it seems to me, Lady Helga.

_Helga_ (_lifts the drinking-horn to her lips; the bishop responds in
silence_).--To your health, sir bishop! When at Oddi I listened to the
opinions of Snorri Sturluson and of Sæmund, my father, about poetics,
but I doubt whether they would have thought that Haf had said ought
derogatory to the Holy Church, in particularly mentioning in the burthen
what Likabong does.

_Botolf_.--I shall not discuss the more hidden meanings; but in the last
stanza Likabong certainly is silent with shame.

_Helga_.--Far from it, sir bishop! Likabong is Moses, who is praying
with outstretched arms whilst Josua is giving battle. When the battle is
won his hands drop with weariness.

_Botolf_ (_to_ KOLBEIN THE YOUNG).--Likabong did not weep when you fled
from Broddi and the Holy Church at Holar, which was preparing to resist
worldly insolence.

_Kolbein_.--No, excepting it shed tears at having to part with its
bishop in such headlong haste!

_Helga_.--I had heard before that the 'Peace of God' which the bishop
let be pealed over the land had saved us from complete rout at the
beginning of the feud. But now I hear for the first time that my husband
fled before Broddi and the Holy Church of Holar.

_Kolbein_.--Never did I flee, but at that occasion I was forced to avoid
trouble. (_Advances on the floor and mounts with one foot on the dais on
which_ HELGA _is seated_.) Here I place my foot on the beam and make a
vow that I shall never flee before Broddi Thorleifsson. (_Returns to his

_Asbjorn_.--And here I place my foot on the beam and make a vow that
if battle there will be I shall exchange blows with Broddi Thorleifsson
until one of us fall dead.

_Helga_.--Well spoken, Asbjorn!

_Haf_ (_comes from the door_).--Brand Kolbeinsson is approaching with an
armed band.

_Kolbein_.--Is my kinsman beside himself?

_Helga_.--To arms! To arms!

_Kolbein_ (_laughs_).--Why, it seems as if the people of Oddi want to
enter the fray!

_Helga_.--You have forgotten, my husband, that my father threw down the
glove single-handed to all the burghers of Bergentown, because of the
drowning of my brother Paul.

(_The men are standing with drawn swords along both sides of the hall,
leaving a lane in the middle_. BRAND, BRODDI, ALF, _and the other
slayers of_ THOROLF _pass up it_. LADY JORUN _in a man's apparel and_
DEACON SIGURD _follow them. Last of all_ HELGI SKAFTASON.)

_Helga_.--There we see each other again, Helgi Skaftason! (_Points down
with the thumb of her right hand_. HELGI _is killed and dragged out
without the other slayers of_ THOROLF _becoming aware of it_. EINAR THE
RICH _enters again with the men of_ KOLBEIN, _who dragged out_ HELGI.
_He joins the band of_ BRAND. _The axe of_ HELGI _remains lying on the
spot where he fell_.)

_Brand_.--Hail, Kolbein kinsman!

_Broddi_.--Hail, brother-in-law! What truce shall we have?

_Helga_.--The same as had Thorolf Bjarnason!

_Broddi_.--I care not to quarrel with women about my life!

_Helga_.--It is too late for the fox to fight for life, once he has gone
into the trap.

_Kolbein_.--Why, Brand Kolbeinsson, did you attack and slay Thorolf, our

_Broddi_.--I did more to incite men to that than did Brand Kolbeinsson,
and we offer to atone for his slaying with much money, if you are

_Helga_.--More will be needful than only money.

_Brand_.--I thought there was great necessity to do away with Thorolf.

_Helga_.--'Perjured men, murder-wolves.'[A] Jorun, your wife, egged you
on to take revenge for her father and her brother.

[Footnote A: Quotation from the Eddic poem Voluspo.]

_Brand_.--It is entirely untrue that my wife Jorun egged me on to
revenge either her father or brother, even if men have told you so,
Kolbein. About absent people most things can be told. But for this
reason was Thorolf deprived of life, because you had set him as
chieftain over the Eyafirth, to succeed you.

_Kolbein_.--Never did I do that!

_Brand_.--Helga, your wife, affirmed that you had done so.

_Helga_.--Certainly you did, my husband. But, well it may be that at the
time you were not in full possession of your senses.

_Einar_.--I heard it, my lord, how you set Thorolf chieftain over
Eyafirth. And so no one dare blame Lady Helga for having misheard or
mis-stated the matter.

_Sigurd_.--You here, Einar the Rich!

_Brand_.--Notwithstanding Thorolf's low descent you gave him preference
over chieftains, you gave him authority over men, and you let him
journey with you to Rome. No peacemaker was your Thorolf among men; but
a bad companion he was, and me he nicknamed.

_Kolbein_.--All that has Thorolf atoned for with his life. Why, Broddi,
did you attack my friend Thorolf?

_Broddi_.--I am your brother-in-law, Kolbein, and I owed it to you to
avenge insults heaped upon you. Long had he been faithless to you and
cunningly served both you and been a treacherous follower to you both
here and abroad.

_Helga_.--Easy it is to perceive that Thorolf no longer dwells among
the living since he is thus slandered. For this reason you killed him,
because you thought Kolbein to be dead and that Eyafirth had gotten too
brave a leader in him.

_Brand_.--It casts no good light upon you, my lady, to praise Thorolf
Bjarnason thus highly!

_Kolbein_.--And what moved you, Alf, to attack Thorolf, my friend?

_Alf_.--My hatred of the dog!

_Helga_.--Little hope I see of a reconciliation. One of Thorolf's
slayers dried his blood on the fringes of my veil. And you, Alf of Grof,
you reviled me like the worst witch; you wanted to have a sack pulled
over my head.

_Kolbein_ (_furious_).--Boor!--have a sack pulled over her! A sack,--you
devilish fiend! What did you cattle mean? I shall have your skin flayed
off you and pull it over your ears after you are dead! I shall never
make peace with Alf of Grof!

_Helga_.--A loutish rustic should never take part in the dealings of men
of great account!

_Alf_.--I offer all my property as ransom!

_Broddi_.--Silence, you coward--all your property!

_Alf_.--Have I no right to live, if I can?

_Helga_.--I cannot see what use there is in your living, Alf!

_Kolbein_.--Alf of Grof and I shall never be reconciled.

_Brand_.--I journeyed hither with Thorolf's slayers in order to reach an
agreement with you. If it be not your will to accept reconciliation with
us, I demand that you hand over to me possession of all those districts
that are mine by rights, so that I in that manner may obtain sufficient
resources to be able to sustain the fine which you will impose on us for
the slaying.

_Helga_.--Now it is clear that your men have no scruples to kill each
the other, but will by no means be ready to atone for it. With demands
such as these, Brand Kolbeinsson foregoes all chance of reaching an
agreement. You promised me a man's life in this feud, Kolbein. Take
Brand's life, then, and that will take away the inclination for further
rebellion against you. (_Silence_.)

_Botolf_.--And you intend to take Brand's life, when the Peace of God is
at an end?

_Kolbein_.--For the welfare of our Quarter I know no better counsel than
that which Lady Helga has given.

_Helga_.--Less cause even there was against Kalf Guttormsson, and yet
has he been mouldering in his grave these ten years. Asbjorn and Haf,
seize hold of my kinsman Brand!

_Sigurd_.--I have heard that you would spare Brand Kolbeinsson's life if
another man were willing to die for him.

_Helga_.--I did make that condition. (_Laughs_.) Will you fulfill it,

_Sigurd_.--No. Because I know you will show no mercy.

_Jorun_ (_leaps up on the dais and lays her head on_ HELGA'S
_knee_).--Take my life instead of Brand Kolbeinsson's life.

_Helga_.--You are out of your senses, lad!

_Jorun_ (_arises, looking at_ LADY HELGA).--You cut close to me ten
years ago; take now my life also!

_Helga_ (_shades her eyes_).--You, were beheaded ten years ago! Has the
lad Guttorm Kalfsson risen from his grave?

_Kolbein_.--Do we see apparitions in the light?

_Broddi_ (_to_ BRAND).--How did your wife Jorun come among our company?
(BRAND _leaps up on the dais and carries_ JORUN _down on his arm. About
all the hall men are heard to say in a low voice_, 'LADY JORUN.' _While
she is being carried down to the floor she extends her arms toward_

_Jorun_.--Take my life as you have taken my father's and my brother's;
then you need fear no longer that I am egging on my kinsmen to avenge
me on you. (BRAND _sets her down on the floor. They embrace each other

_Helga_.--Of little worth I hold your life, Jorun; but in order to
keep my promise I shall take it instead of your husband's life. (_Calls
out_.) Take my prisoner away from Brand Kolbeinsson!

_Broddi_.--Let us protect her with our bodies!

_Brand_.--Look you, Helga my kinswoman, you will not reach your
prisoner so very easily for the first. (DEACON SIGURD _picks up_ HELGI
SKAFTASON'S _axe, for he is weaponless. They take_ JORUN _in their

_Helga_.--To arms! Wrest my prisoner from among them!

_Broddi_.--Hold my place for a moment, my men, if it should be vacant
a short while.--Is it really so, Kolbein the Young, that your wife has
made you so senselessly mad that you are about to attack us in order to
butcher a woman?

_Kolbein_.--Lady Helga's matter this is, not mine. If we cannot reach
terms of peace, it is because of Helgi Skaftason and Alf of Grof!

_Broddi_.--And you let her attack us in order to butcher a woman?

_Kolbein_.--I let it come as it may.

_Broddi_.--Then more will have to come as it may. Be on your guard,

(KOLBEIN _has been sitting in his high seat without drawing his sword,
but has had it lying on his knees and now and then unsheathed it
halfways_. BRODDI _rushes at him to deliver a blow_; KOLBEIN _dodges
the blow and grasps_ BRODDI'S _wrist with both hands, so that his sword
drops on the floor. Then he forces_ BRODDI _to sit beside him on the
high seat_.)

_Kolbein_.--Be calm now, Broddi! The slaying of Thorolf was an ill deed
and a needless one.

_Broddi_.--Let go of me, you hell-hound!

_Kolbein_ (_laughs_).--How furious you are now, brother-in-law!

_Helga_.--What fell there to the floor?

_Kolbein_.--The action for avenging Thorolf Bjarnason, which slipped
from your hands, lady!

_Helga_.--That would not have made so great a sound.

_Brand_.--Lady Helga! you who once were my mother's sister! I shall
surrender my arms and myself to you if all others will then be granted
to make atonement for the slaying of Thorolf.

_Helga_.--Keep your arms yourself, for no one does less harm with them
than you. My promise to your wife I shall keep; I wonder only that she
goes not herself voluntarily from among your midst, in order to save us

_Jorun_.--I cannot, for they hold me.

_Helga_ (_calls out_).--Fetch my captive Jorun from among them! (HAF
ASBJORN _and the men of_ KOLBEIN _surround_ BRAND _and his followers_.)

_Asbjorn_.--We shall set upon you now!

_Botolf_.--Bide a little. (_Takes the candles from the table_.) Now I
shall lay in the Norse language the interdict on Kolbein and Helga.

_Helga_.--Say what you please, bishop. But you will have to revoke your
interdict before you go from hence.

_Botolf_.--That shall I never. No priest shall ever say service for
you, and, you shall have no lasting dwelling place but hell. (_Holds the
candles with the flame downward_.)

_Helga_.--Haf, you stand near enough to the bishop! Gag him with the end
of your spear.

_Kolbein_ (_jumps up without letting go of_ BRODDI).--Hear me, sir
bishop! Desist from laying the interdict on me, because not far is the
time when I shall need the mercy of God and his Holy Church. Lady Helga
has been insulted in such fashion as no high-born lady would endure. But
I, for my part, shall be ready to make atonement for the insult offered
by her to you and the Holy Church now for the first time.

_Botolf_.--Easy it is to reach an agreement with me, Kolbein, if this
larger matter which you have been warring about so long could be settled
to-night to the satisfaction of all.

_Kolbein_.--Then hear my decision: For the murder of Thorolf Bjarnason.
I decree a fine of eighteen marks silver, and also that those men who
may have fallen as part of the vengeance for Thorolf shall not be atoned

_Brand_.--Agreed, kinsman Kolbein; the sum you demand for the slaying of
Thorolf shall be paid.

_Helga_.--How may this be, my husband? You have promised me a man's life
before this feud would be ended.

_Kolbein_.--Have I not demanded an exceedingly high compensation for
Thorolfs death?

_Helga_.--But Thorolf was slain in a pledged truce.

_Broddi_.--That truce was made under compulsion.

_Kolbein_.--The man's life you stipulated for yourself you have chosen
and taken yourself, or else, where is Helgi Skaftason?

(HELGA _is silent_.)

_Brand_.--Helgi Skaftason! Where is he?

_Botolf_.--His axe is there! (DEACON SIGURD _looks around_.) Are you
still carrying weapons, Deacon Sigurd? Clercs are not permitted to bear

_Sigurd_.--Great need I thought there was to do so now. The danger in
which was my lady Jorun and you also, sir bishop, and the axe lay before
my feet.

_Botolf_.--Nevermore carry arms, deacon!

_Brand_.--Is Helgi Skaftason still alive? If so, is it not possible that
his deed be atoned for?

_Helga_.--I shall no longer conceal from you, Brand Kolbeinsson, that
Helgi Skaftason will no more dry his axe on the fringe of my veil! In
order now that this our reconciliation be kept well I desire to have
your son Kalf, to foster him up with me.

_Jorun_.--That shall never be, that you train my boy to be a disturber
of the peace.

_Botolf_.--That shall never be; the boy is a hopeful man for a chieftain
and ought to be trained up to love peace and abide by the law.

_Kolbein_.--What punishment would you inflict on her, if she got the

_Botolf_.--The excommunication of the Holy Church; the Church wants
peace! (_Short silence_.)

_Helga_ (_furiously_).--You stand there still, Alf of Grof; do you still
wish to have a sack pulled over my head?

_Kolbein_.--It will never do that a lout insult a high-born woman with
impunity. Therefore, I decree that Alf of Grof shall leave the country,
never more to return whilst she is in living life.

_Alf_.--Why not rather have me put to death?

_Helga_.--You fear death too much, you coward!

_Broddi_.--And under what conditions shall I make peace with you?

_Kolbein_.--You shall have your sword back, and sit in the high seat
for the remainder of the evening, but as soon as the sea is open again
(_slaps_ BRODDI _on his shoulder_) we shall, both of us, go to meet
Thord Kakali and his Westfirthings.

_Brand_.--Much has your fame grown through these happenings, kinswoman
Helga! Exceeding precious must be all your finery, if every spot on the
fringes of your veil shall cost a man's life.

_Helga_.--You will remember, kinsman, that I am a descendant in the
fourth generation from King Magnus Bareleg. Lady Jorun, come hither and
share the dais with us women. (_Woman's garments are put on_ JORUN _when
she joins the women_. BRAND _and_ BOTOLF _share the lower seat of
honor. The men sheathe their swords, hang up their shields, and seat
themselves_. KOLBEIN THE YOUNG _takes up a drinking-horn; horns are
passed among the men_.)

_Kolbein_.--To-day we have brought to a happy end a feud, the like of
which has not been within this district.

_Brand_.--And the quarrel has ended with full reconciliation.

_Alf_.--Indeed, we have been fully reconciled, Helgi Skaftason and I; he
going to hell and I into exile.

_Helga_.--Worse condition you might have got, Alf of Grof.

_Kolbein_.--And to-morrow we shall accompany Bishop Botolf to Holar
together, with five hundred men, and shall reinstate him with the
greatest honors. Then we shall furlough the greater part of our men.
(_The men raise shouts of joy_.) And after that we hope that we may
dwell in peace for some time.

_Salvor_.--Meanwhile we women shall heal the wounds of the men.

_Botolf_.--And then there will be peace on earth.

_Sigurd_.--And good will among men!




Indridi Einarsson's 'Sword and Crozier' is the first Icelandic play
to be done into English. Very probably, the well-informed reader
will wonder, not so much that a translation 'should be so late in
forthcoming,' but that, of all things, there should exist a dramatic
literature worthy the name in that Ultima Thule. He is, indeed, not
in any way to be blamed for not suspecting the possibility of a highly
developed drama under conditions such as obtain in Iceland, even though
he may well be aware that lyric poetry has been cultivated there with
ardor and success.

When authors of small nations, such as Denmark and Holland, have been
known to complain about the limited circle they can hope to reach, how
true, how pathetically true, is this of Iceland, with its scant eighty
thousand inhabitants of poor fishermen and farmers thinly spread over
the lordly spaces of their far-away, rugged and barren island! What
audience can an author expect there? Nor is it to be thought that his
very difficult mother-tongue will permit a comprehension of his work
among the reading public of the other Scandinavian lands.

It stands to reason--whatever enthusiasts on the subject have said to
the contrary--that, by its very nature, the drama can attain independent
and legitimate growth only in centers of human habitation, where the
stage--very necessarily--epitomizes the tendencies of the times, and, if
occupied by a real literature in every sense, is the self-expression of
a great community. As late as 1886 a sober-minded author on Scandinavian
literature was able to say, with some justice, 'Iceland lacks all
conditions for a dramatic literature.' And the situation has not changed
essentially since. Whatever has been done in that line in recent times
is to all intents and purposes due to stimulation from abroad and, in so
far, artificial. So far, none of the more ambitious native efforts have
been on the program of the stage of Reykjavik to be performed by the
very estimable amateur players of that town.

The above is by no means said in a spirit of reproach. On the contrary,
all honor to the patriotic men who, by writing dramas in their
mother-tongue, are willing to forego the emoluments and recognition
to be gained from audiences in more favored lands: for the sake of
enriching their native literature; for the sake of showing both the
world and their own people that neither in this art are they inferior to
other nations; for the sake of demonstrating to their satisfaction
that a contribution of Iceland to world-literature is no more an
impossibility now than in the older times, when it enriched us with
lore and history, and gave the world what Greece and Rome did not, the
realistic novel.

Three authors divide the honors in this field: Matthías Jochumsson, a
gifted lyric poet, now in his old age; the promising young playwright,
Jóhann Sigurjónsson; and Indridi Einarsson, now in his prime, whose most
original contribution to Icelandic literature is herewith presented.
The poet having excellent command of English, I am fortunate to be
able (with his permission) to quote _ipsissima verba_ on his life and

'I was born in the North of Iceland, on April 30, 1851, and was a
farmer's boy of good old family. My chief work at home was haymaking in
summer, and in winter being a shepherd. Every spring I was up all the
long bright nights, watching the flock that they should not damage the
cultivated soil by eating the young grass. I think that solitude (from
the eighth to fourteenth year of my life) has fostered my fancy
and imagination and dipped me deep in the romanticism of that time
(1858-64). In 1865 I went to Reykjavik, and was initiated at the Lyceum
(Latin school) in the spring of 1866. I went through the Lyceum in
ordinary course. When I began to read Virgilius I felt as if I got wings
on my immortal soul, and I think I shall never lose them wholly again.
I began to read the poets, starting with the comedies of Old Holberg the
Dane, and passing to Schiller and Goethe and Heine. I read all plays
of Shakespeare (in Danish translation, then). I studied "Oidipous
Tyrannos," Sophocles' awful tragedy, in the original, and read Plautus
and Terentius as other boys, Icelandic and Danish fiction.

'During my first year at college I saw Matthías Jochumsson's
"Utilegumenn" (The Outlaws) performed at Reykjavik: they had then very
fine Icelandic scenery, and went home in ecstasy over the performance,
feeling that I had seen the brightest and strongest play in the world.
Of my reading I thought "Macbeth," "Gretchen im Carcer" ("Faust" I),
and "Oidipous Tyrannos" finest and fullest. While at Reykjavik I wrote
"Nyársnóttin" (New Year's Night) and got it acted at the college, with
the greatest possible success. That drama formed a turning point in my
life--as the author of it I went to Copenhagen to pursue my studies as
graduate student. I left college made to half of what I am.

'While studying Political Science at Copenhagen I wrote the drama,
"Hellismenn" (The Cave-dwellers). I had come south with two other dramas
in my mind. But the atmosphere in Copenhagen was strongly realistic
at that time; my Romanticism was not able to withstand it. Without
my knowledge I turned to Realism, and when I began to think about my
intended dramas I could not write on them because all my thoughts had
taken another direction. After completing my examinations I returned,
Copenhagen having made the other half of what I am. In 1880 I was
appointed auditor of the Official Accounts of Iceland, and got married.
During the ten ensuing years I was buried under an avalanche of accounts
and official documents and could hardly hold my head up above the
waters. The wings of my soul drooped with exhaustion. My dramatic muse
awakened several times, but I could not receive her visits. At last,
in 1890, I began to write "Skipit sekkur" [The Ship is Sinking,--a
naturalistic drama], parts of which I rewrote seven times; so badly had
I treated my muse that she began to work so slowly....'

To this I shall only add that the poet has modestly omitted to state
that in his capacity of Chief of the Department of Statistics he is the
compiler of an excellent year-book on the trade relations and industries
of his native isle; that he is the author of several dramas not
mentioned by him; and that 'Sword and Crozier,' his latest drama (1899),
has already been translated into German and Danish.

I subjoin a synopsis of this play, in order to facilitate an
appreciation of it at the first reading.

Act I.--The chieftain of the North Quarter of Iceland, Kolbein the
Young, lies sick unto death from the after-effects of an old wound and
sends for his kinsmen and other nobles of the Quarter. While delivering
his message to them, Thorolf, his favorite (secretly the lover of the
chieftain's wife, Helga), and long a thorn in the flesh of these
proud men as an upstart, infuriates them anew by his insolent bearing.
Obedient to the call of their chief, they assemble about him to
determine on measures for the defence of the land, and to learn of the
disposition of his dominions. The weak Brand is given his lawful share,
which agrees well enough with Lady Helga's self-seeking plans of uniting
all the land under her and Thorolf's rule. The more forceful Broddi is
entitled to the other half; but when Kolbein, very conveniently for
her, becomes delirious she substitutes Thorolf's name instead, shrewdly
taking the precaution of compelling Brand by force of arms to swear him
an everlasting truce--ostensibly to atone for having offered an insult
to Brand.

Act II.--Broddi now assumes the leadership of the outraged nobles,
Brand being bound, as he thinks, by his oath, and incapable of strongly
opposing their intention to kill Thorolf. By chance, and in fulfillment
of a prophecy, Thorolf seeks refuge from a snowstorm in a wintry cave
and there is forewarned of his impending death by Woden himself. He
is surprised by the allies and slain. But no sooner is their purpose
accomplished than Helga, his protectress, appears on the scene and
smilingly assures them of retribution awaiting them. Her information
that Kolbein is on the road to recovery strikes the nobles with dismay.
Broddi immediately decides on assuming the aggressive; but on Brand's
suggestion they choose first to cleanse themselves before the world by
receiving absolution for their deed from Bishop Botolf at Holar.

Act III.--Here Kolbein puts them to flight. He, in his turn, must flee
before Broddi's superior forces, but not without audaciously carrying
along the bishop, who in his fear and rage has the Treuga Dei rung over
the land. This frustrates the immediate pursuit by Broddi.

Act IV.--While the truce is still in force, Lady Helga visits Brand's
wife, Jorun. Childless herself, she desires to foster up one of Jorun's
sons in her own cruel way, promising, in return, to procure an honorable
peace for Brand; or else, to destroy him. The loving mother staunchly
refuses. But soon the weakness of Brand's situation becomes evident.
Unable to act with the requisite force and severity, he has lost the
confidence of his dependents who fear to rise against the superior
genius of Kolbein. The last hope departs when Broddi learns through a
(forged) letter that his fortifications are accessible to Kolbein by
subterranean passages. Utterly dismayed, the allies decide to throw
themselves upon the mercy of Kolbein the Young. Brand's wife follows
them, disguised in male attire. She knows that Helga thirsts for his
life, but also that she has sworn to spare him if any one were found
willing to give his life instead.

Act V.--Brand and his little troop file into the warrior-filled hall of
Kolbein. In vain they seek conciliation at any price with the chieftain,
who is enraged by the slaying of his friend Thorolf, and infuriated
beyond measure by the speeches of his implacable wife. Even Jorun's
offering her life for Brand's does not soften his heart; when, finally,
the prisoner-bishop's threat of excommunication subdues Kolbein with the
fear of the hereafter. Compensation is duly imposed upon the allies, and
peace once more rules in the harried land.

The subject of the above drama was suggested by two or three rather
meagre pages of the 'Islendingasaga' of Sturla Thordsson (ed. Vigfússon,
ch. 146). To my notion, the poet has succeeded admirably in
reproducing the cool coloring, the ironic-pessimistic attitude, that
uncompromisingly masculine sentiment we know so well in their refreshing
acerbity from the best sagas. Not the least meritorious thing in the
play, by the way, is the very slight insistence on Thorolf's relations
to Helga, notwithstanding its temptation to the author of a social drama
betraying strong influence of Ibsen; for the saga--it is to be borne in
mind--is the literature of revenge and ambition as ruling motives, love
having an incomparably smaller sphere allotted to it. Too much weight
laid on that relation would have been ruinous to the total conception of
the play.

In conformity to that conception are also the terse, pithy language
which allows us to surmise the unlimited possibilities hidden in the
saga literature, and the equally succinct manner of character drawing.

The most interesting figure in the drama is Brand, a Hamletic character
without a Hamlet's zest of retaliation--noble, generous, and beloved;
yet ever a loser, because never resolutely willing the means to an end.
As Thorolf avers scornfully, 'Brand lacks both the forethought _before_
battle, and that fire _in_ battle which wins the victory,' The reign
of lawlessness and bloodshed appalls him, to be sure; but he cannot
see that his own irresolution is one of the causes. 'He is sick in his
soul.' But 'peace'!--cries Broddi--'whenever was peace gotten in feuds,
excepting the battle be won or--lost.' And yet, by the irony of fate,
both his birth and his noble gifts make men look to Brand as Kolbein's
natural successor. The tigerish Kolbein himself is equaled in ruthless
pursuit of his own ends, but not in good fortune, by Broddi. As foils to
these larger characters stand out the mean, vengeful Einar, the brutal
Alf, the insolent but brave Thorolf. In Jorun we fancy we see the
living strength of Christian virtue and devotion opposed to the heathen
fierceness and self-seeking of Helga. Between the two parties the
bishop, whose motives and intentions are, however, not brought out with
sufficient clearness. Like the proverbial fifth wheel of a wagon he
seems out of place and embarrassing, whenever he appears--a predicament,
to be sure, which he shares with the Church itself in those times,
whenever not guided by a born ruler.

Both in poetic value and technically--excepting for the staginess of the
three meetings in the cave--the second act is the most successful of the
drama. It is, in fact, a little masterpiece. The action is impetuous,
strong, and telling. The dramatic germs potentially present in the
situation are developed here with a fine consistency. Thorolf's death
is made the central fact on which hinges the whole action of the play,
while by Brand's fatal vacillations and the insults offered to Helga by
his henchmen important tributary impulses are given toward the following
development. Unfortunately, the third act, dramatically considered, is
concerned chiefly with details. It suffers, even more than the first
act, from a certain prolixity which is not wholly made good by its
theatrically effective ending. However bright and skillfully wrought in
the incident of the fraudulent miracle, it might well be spared, with a
view for the whole. And the same is true of a considerable part of the

There is small doubt that the fifth act offered the greatest
difficulties to be overcome, because here the poet is face to face with
the essentially epic nature of his subject matter and was certainly
put to it to overcome this handicap. This is the state of affairs: The
enraged chieftain is prevented by his implacable wife from yielding. The
allies do all in their power to obtain peace. If Old Norse conceptions
are adhered to there is a deadlock. Now, nothing prevents the epic art
of the saga from telling, at this juncture, that forth stepped Bishop
Botolf and with threat of excommunication brought about a satisfactory
conclusion. It is different in the drama. In it the intervention of the
bishop as _deus ex machina_ is a quasi-external element, because not
sufficiently motivated in the preceding development. It remains an

For all that the title is justifiable. Conceding that this sudden 'good'
ending looks like a concession and certainly is a constructive weakness,
yet in the inwardness of the subject it is excellently motivated by the
typically mediæval attitude of Kolbein to salvation and the Church as
its sole bestower. Notwithstanding the ambiguity of its victory,
the Crozier _has_ won. Another power than the moribund gods and the
overstrained Teutonic conceptions of morality--the Law of the Sword--has
conquered, even if by the help of conceptions almost as crude. And this
well indicates the normal course of Christianity, which has at all times
made its way more by weight of power and influence than by conviction
and conversion.

Finally a word on the subject of the drama. Our readers are beginning
to become so accustomed to the spiced dishes of Continental Problem
drama,--reaction against which has set in there long ago,--that fears
may well be entertained that the rude simple fare of the Historic
Drama will be rejected with scorn. This would indeed be regrettable, as
tending to show that we are still far from a sober catholicity of
taste, and still in the leading-strings of the Old World, not yet having
obtained that independence and maturity of judgment which consists in
being wise enough to gather nourishment suitable to one's needs from
whatever be offered to us, even it be not labeled with the ism of the


"_The play's the thing_"




As early as eighteen thirty-five a theater known as the Lion existed
where the Bijou now is. It was maintained under various names until
taken possession of by B.F. Keith. Later he decided to make a motion
picture place of this theater, and in February, 1908, it was opened for
that purpose. Soon a new policy was adopted and Mrs. Josephine Clement
was appointed manager of the Bijou Theater, with instructions to develop
an entertainment of a different type from the usual motion picture

Mr. Keith did this not only from a desire to preserve the old theater,
but to see if the public would not support a higher-class cheap show.
His confidence in the sanity of the taste of the public has been fully
justified by the results of the experiment.

Mrs. Clement's first step was to improve the lecture which was a part
of the regular program. These Ten-Minute Talks are now given by a good
reader and really worth-while material is presented. Such men as Arthur
Deitrick, Eugene Farnsworth, and C.W. Russel have prepared these talks.
In order to secure good singing, it was made known that one day each
week would be open for all those who wished to try. In this way good
material has been secured and developed within the walls of the house
itself. National songs, appropriately costumed, were made a part of the
program, and recently the idea has been enlarged into a whole series of
folk songs and dances. Mrs. Clement is too clever to force the growth
of any tendency, but lets it develop and strengthen of its own accord.
There is no set policy, rigidly followed, but changes are made whenever
they are needed, and each new development aims to be a real improvement.
There is a spirit of co-operation on the part of all those connected
with the theater which has meant much in its success.

The idea which makes the Bijou especially deserving of notice is the
introduction on Feb. 28, 1910, of a regular policy of producing a
one-act play each week. This, with the occasional introduction of a
short opera, has continued to the present time. As early as June, 1909,
'Shadows,' a mystical tragedy by Evelyn G. Sutherland, was put on, and
in January of the following year a one-act comedy, 'The Red Star,'
by Wm. M. Blatt, was produced. The success of these plays decided the
management to adopt the one-act play as a regular part of the program.
The play first to be acted under the new policy was Hermann Hagedorn's
'The World Too Small for Three.' This is important because the one-act
play has almost no place on the professional stage. Vaudeville houses
put on an occasional one-act piece of the lighter sort. The Bijou now
provides a place where the serious worker in this form may see his
work produced and watch the effect on the audience. That there is
a constantly growing interest in this country in one-act plays as a
separate genre of dramatic composition is proved by the continuing
success of the experiment. This winter the manager opened a prize
contest; one hundred dollars for the best one-act comedy, and fifty
dollars for the second best comedy, to be produced at the Bijou. The
first prize went to George F. Abbott, Rochester, N.Y., for his very
excellent comedy, 'The Man in the Manhole,' and the second prize to
S.F. Austin, of San Antonio, Tex., for a farce, 'The Winning of General

One hundred and seventy-nine manuscripts were received. The judges were
Prof. Geo. P. Baker, Walter Hampden, and Francis Powell. Ten plays,
five comedies and five serious plays, were reserved from the contest for
production at the Bijou. As far as settings are concerned, the plays
are well produced. Unfortunately, the acting is not all that one could
desire, but with the limited resources at command the results are
remarkably satisfactory. Such authors as Upton Sinclair, Hermann
Hagedorn, Percy McKaye, Hermann Suderman, Pauline C. Bouvé, Gerald
Villiers-Stuart have permitted their plays to be given at the Bijou,
which speaks for the quality of the work.


The LITTLE THEATER, in New York City, under the management of Winthrop
Ames, is the first theater in America designed for intimacy. It was
carefully planned, and has been well executed. Such theaters are known
abroad, but this playhouse is a decided novelty, and an advance in
America. The distance from the front of the stage to the rear of the
last row of seats is a trifle over forty feet. There are no balconies
and no boxes. The lighting is by an indirect system, which suffuses the
auditorium with a soft, restful glow. The lobby, the retiring room, and
the smoking room are all done in quiet, pleasant fashion. The auditorium
decoration again is novel. There is paneling in dark-brown birch, with
inserted tapestries above and a curtain in gobelin blues and carpet of

The lighting system for the stage is most complete, as are all the
arrangements behind the scenes, dressing rooms, flies, and bridges. The
chief novelty on this side of the playhouse is the use of the Japanese
idea of a revolving platform for the stage. The revolving stage has been
used largely in Germany, but this is one of the few instances where it
has been used in America. Its value is shown for sets that require no
great depth, and it permits quick changes of scenery. The circular stage
is thirty feet in diameter.

Mr. Ames said in advance that his aim was to create a house of
'entertainment for intelligent people.' Behind this vague statement lies
a force which has already proved that the Little Theater can entertain
and at the same time show itself worthy of the best ideals in drama. Mr.
Ames has produced Galsworthy's admirable comedy, 'The Pigeon'; Charles
Rann Kennedy's 'The Terrible Meek,' and the same author's translation of
M. Laloy's French version of the Chinese play, 'The Flower of the Palace
of Han.' However diverse likings and dislikings of these pieces may
have been, there is no doubt that they were all worthy of a first-rate

Mr. Ames announces for the coming year a series of matinees, especially
for children. It is pleasant to see the professional theaters falling
into line with the increasing trend of amateur organizations in paying
attention to the need of good plays for children.


Late in March, at the Plymouth Theater in Boston, Miss Horniman's
players from Manchester, England, gave their only performance in the
United States. They came under the auspices of the American Drama
Society. They presented 'Nan,' a three-act tragedy by John Masefield,
whose work we otherwise would not have seen for some time. Aside from
the remarkable play, the performance is memorable as setting a new
standard in acting. The value of perfect ensemble work was clearly


Sumurûn, an oriental pantomime, which Winthrop Ames brought to the
Casino in New York, is the work of Max Reinhardt, a progressive German
manager. It has been produced throughout Germany and in London, with
great success, and now comes to America. 'Sumurûn' deserves notice
because it is a great novelty, but especially because it has certain
lessons for us in America.

The story of the pantomime is a more or less lurid eastern melodrama,
based on the Arabian Nights. A hunchback is in love with a beautiful
young dancer, who hates him. He sells her to a fierce old sheik, to
get her out of the way of another lover, the sheik's son. Then he
takes poison. Sumurûn, the sheik's chief wife, favors a handsome cloth
merchant called Nur-al-Din, whom she manages to smuggle into the harem
in a chest of silks. The intruder is, of course, discovered by the
sheik, who is warned of the treachery below, as he is about to kill
his son, whom he has found in the room with his new dancer. He has
Nur-al-Din at his mercy when the supposedly poisoned hunchback slips in
and stabs him. The lovers are united and the inmates of the harem set

It is true that there is nothing strikingly original nor remarkable in
the outline of the story. That is impossible in a wordless play. Bernard
Shaw, speaking of a pantomime with music, 'A Pierrot's Life,' produced
some years ago in London, says, 'I am conscious of the difficulty of
making any but the most threadbare themes intelligible to the public,
without words.' Reinhardt was wise in selecting a vivid tale, and
one easy to follow. Besides, he has told the story with remarkable
directness and swiftness. Attention and interest never for an instant
flag, owing to the impression of incessant swarming life which we get
from the scene before us. The personages are clearly and definitely
characterized by means of the careful working out of the details of
every action. Colors and their arrangement play a positive part in the
understanding of the play.

Pantomime is the foundation of drama. An audience which appreciates
pantomime will appreciate good drama. Action is the element which
distinguishes drama from other literary forms, and pantomime is made
up wholly of action, hence its very real place in drama. The greatest
moments in life are manifested not in words but in action. Dramatists
are coming to realize that a gesture may be more expressive and natural
at tense moments than speech. We have some striking examples of this.

In the silent opening of 'What Every Woman Knows,' Barrie accomplishes,
by the chess game and the entrance of the brother, what ten minutes of
dialogue would have failed to do. Roberto Bracco's 'Infedele,' played
in English as 'The Countess Coquette,' by Nazimova, is a still more
remarkable instance. The play, in lines, is a very short one, but by the
use of pantomime, even long stretches of it, there is produced a play
of the regular length. One of the most intense scenes in modern drama is
the prison scene in Galsworthy's 'Justice,' where not a word is spoken
till the end, when a cry rings out into the still, breathless house.

The 'Sumurûn' shows that there is much which we can accomplish without
speech. Aside from its value to the drama, pantomime has a large
significance for acting. The necessity of making one's self intelligible
without words forces the actor to weigh and consider every movement,
gesture, and facial action.

'Sumurûn,' like all pantomimic entertainments, seems to have no great
value in and of itself. It is remarkable for the admirable co-operation
of the performers, the potency of trained gesture and studied facial
expression. The music, which was written by Victor Holörder, is
excellent in its harmony and appropriateness. The decorative quality
of even the shabby scenery used in America is striking. It achieves
an artistic, oriental effect without gaudy, costly, or spectacular

Perhaps the greatest lesson of 'Sumurûn' is for stage managers. All of
them might profit by an intensive study of this production.

IN BALTIMORE.--The fashionable dramatic club of Baltimore, known as
the Wednesday Club, expects to develop a theater for regular amateur
performances. This playhouse will be modeled on Boston's 'Toy Theater.'

AGAINST THE SPECULATOR.--The Chicago city council has offered to reduce
the theater licenses in amounts from one thousand to five thousand
dollars if the theater managers will refuse to take back from agencies
unsold tickets. Nine managers are said to have agreed to do so. This
will aid the public to get good seats without paying advanced prices.
Any gleam of civic interest in the real welfare of the theaters is most

The editor of the _Playfarer_ will be glad to receive information
about any American dramatic venture, no matter how small or seemingly

       *       *       *       *       *


_Civic Experiments in Massachusetts_

When we say 'Civic Theater' we are all so used to thinking in terms of
money that we think of nothing but a theater financially supported by
a city or community. Yet there are other ways of support that are more

A civic theater cannot be created by money, although it requires it.
Intelligence demands, therefore, when we say 'Civic Theater,' that we
think at once and foremost of these other more vital ways of support.

Fortunately we can appeal to historic life for light on these other and
more vital ways of support by city or community. Historic life can show
us well-ascertained facts concerning drama that has been supported by
the civic life of its whole people, and expresses, in consequence,
the life of its men of genius, and of its interpretative artists and
artisans, along with its racial genius.

Because historic life at its great moments of dramatic activity can show
us these facts and supplement the bias of the present moment toward but
one way of support, I shall appeal to it to make our definition complete
and sound.

Yet because we all, first of all, are the children of our current
notions, and only in a deeper sense, when we think below the bias of the
moment, the children of all life's experience, I shall call attention
first to two or three facts of civic life here in Massachusetts which
illustrate merely the financial support of a theater by a city or

It seems to me significant that already one of our own states, and that
state Massachusetts, offers an example or two of this least vital but
most obvious necessity of financial ownership or support of a city's
main theater.

Northampton is the town in Massachusetts which took the lead in this
respect. It was first to secure ownership of a theater.

A native citizen of Northampton, Mr. G.L. Hinckley, who knows the town
well, at my request has written the following report of it:

'The Academy of Music of Northampton was presented to the city of
Northampton by Mr. Edward H.R. Lyman, of Brooklyn, N.Y. In making this
gift it was his desire to benefit his native town by providing it with a
safe, handsome, and well-equipped theater of a suitable size.

'The academy has a building to itself. It is set some fifty feet from
the main street, and has a very attractive façade. On one side is a wide
street and on the other a small park, which extends behind the academy.
In appearance it is, therefore, more like a municipal building than the
ordinary theater, and in two respects is safer as regards fires: in the
first place there is no other building within one hundred feet of it;
and in the second, it is far easier for an audience to leave quickly.
The interior leaves nothing to be desired as regards vision or
acoustics. The house seats almost exactly one thousand, not including
its boxes.

'The academy was formally accepted by the City Council, Feb. 6, 1893,
after it had secured the necessary authority from the General Court
of Massachusetts. The deed of gift, which was executed Nov. 4, 1892,
contained the following provisions:

'"1. Said granted premises shall be devoted and used solely and
exclusively for the delivery of lectures, the production of concerts
and operas, and the representation and delineation of the drama of the
better character, as shall be approved by the unanimous vote of the
committee or board of management hereinafter named.

'"2. The management is vested solely in a board composed of the
following five trustees, serving without other compensation than three
free seats at every performance: (a) the donor, (b) the town mayor
of Northampton, _ex-officio_, (c) the President of Smith College,
_ex-officio_, (d) Mr. C.H. Pierce, (e) Mr. T.G. Spaulding."

'These last two are citizens of Northampton. Vacancies, other than among
the two _ex-officio_ members, are filled by election by the remaining
members of the board. This board met and organized April 5, 1893. There
have been but two changes in its personnel, aside from the changes in
the office of mayor, Mr. Lyman being succeeded by his son, Mr. Frank
Lyman, and President Seelye by President Burton.

'It will be observed that the institution is kept out of politics by
placing the control of it in what is virtually a close corporation,
and yet through the mayor the citizens are directly represented in the

'Other conditions provide that if in any year there shall be an excess
of receipts over disbursements such excess shall be paid into the city
treasury of Northampton, with the annual account. If in any year the
disbursements shall exceed the receipts, the treasurer of the city of
Northampton shall appropriate and pay to said board or committee or to
the person who shall be acting as treasurer for it such sum as may be
needed to balance the accounts for such year.

'When the gift was made there was much discussion among the citizens as
to the advisability of accepting it as well as to the propriety of the
city's ownership of a theater. This latter doubt was set at rest when
people realized that the city had already a hall for kindred purposes in
the city hall. As to the first question, it soon came to be recognized
that such a theater could not but be of advantage to the city, though
many felt it would involve too heavy a drain on the city's financial
resources, a fear which has never yet been realized. Discussion was
again started when a bill was before the state legislature, providing
for the incorporation of the trustees, but the necessity for such a step
was so evident that opposition died away. For many years the academy has
been taken as a matter of course and ranks as an important and desirable
municipal institution. No one now ever thinks of the objections formerly
urged against it.

'Financially, the academy has about held its own. Practically, it
has done much better, for the City Council has insisted that all
licenses--fees for shows, amounting on the average to some $400 per
annum--be paid directly into the city treasury. Still the academy is not
run as a money-making institution, for the trustees strive to provide a
liberal variety of entertainment and to have everything the best of its
kind. Occasionally they have brought to town some high-class attraction
that was not likely even to pay expenses--a venture in which few
theaters can afford to engage. At one time large profits were made from
so-called "10, 20, 30-cent stock companies" that spent a week in town
and gave two performances daily, but the class of patronage attracted by
such shows is now supporting the new vaudeville theater and the moving
picture houses. So the academy is becoming more and more a purely
first-class theater.

'One great difficulty with which the trustees have had to contend is how
to steer a course between the Syndicate and the Shuberts. The Syndicate
refuses to book in a house open to other agencies, and the Shuberts can
offer few but musical shows. In fact, neither side seems prepared to
supply enough attractions. So altogether this matter seems at present
almost hopeless of solution as long as the prevailing dearth of plays
and actors and surfeit of theaters make it well-nigh impossible for
one-night stands to fare well. In practice both sides to the controversy
have been tried and found wanting.'

This Northampton fact of the possession of a town theater tells us at
once that the measure of financial support of a civic theater involved
in the ownership of a theater building is the least vital and efficient
step toward the end in view. It is an effort that looks out for the mere
shell. It puts the town in the position of a benevolent landlord toward
a real estate investment that happens to fall in the artistic class. And
such a class of investment requires further equipment to cope with the
equipment of less benevolent foreign landlords holding similar property.
Unless civic responsibility develops beyond this comparatively helpless
position, no such improvement of the situation as may lead to dramatic
growth may result from this foundation. At the same time, even this
meager measure of civic control of the dramatic situation has bettered
Northampton's chances in the matter of drama. It has shielded the town
from utter helplessness against dramatic deterioration through receiving
whatever outside commercial managements may choose to offer. It has
enabled the town to choose for itself to some degree and most notably to
gain access to a higher class of independent dramatic entertainment than
would otherwise be open to it.

But even in the act of thus looking out for the mere shell of a civic
theater, the difficulties incident to a partial reform of the dramatic
situation appear. They are the difficulties incident both to the
current dramatic commercial monopoly, and to _not_ doing more than own
a building. The next step toward surmounting these difficulties would be
to give the shell a substantial kernel. It is natural enough that in an
age as much disposed as ours is to give the dominant place to financial
support that the most obvious and superficially practical thing to do
was done first. It is natural enough, too, in the working-out process,
that its superficialness becomes evident.

Pittsfield comes next both in date and significance of its step toward
financial support for the community of a theater.

To Mr. Edward Boltwood, a member of the executive committee responsible
for this step on behalf of the town, I am indebted for the following
account for which I asked of its initiation:

'A corporation of thirty citizens bought the local theater ("The
Colonial") last January (1912). We are professional and business men,
maintaining no academic theories, believing in a practical way that a
protected and well-conducted theater is as sound a municipal asset as a
good public library is. We have not printed any report.

'After cleansing, re-decorating, and re-equipping the house, we shall
install a resident stock company, to open May 20, under the direction
of Mr. William Parker, who is at present producing manager at the Castle
Square, with Mr. Craig. We have no very definite plan, except to make
our theater a place of entertainment for intelligent people.'

Among the comments of the press involved in stating this item of news at
the time, the way the 'Nation' put it, and the way the 'Outlook' put
it, are fairly representative of public opinion of the need and value of
this civic step.

Said the 'Nation':

'Some of the leading citizens of Pittsfield, Mass., being dissatisfied
with the commercial management of the principal theater in the town,
have bought the house with the avowed purpose of conducting it upon
lines more worthy of intelligent support.'

Under the caption 'A Community Theater' the fact was recorded in the
'Outlook' in a news editorial (Feb. 10, 1912), from which the following
sentences are an extract:

'Pittsfield is ... a community which represents the best of old and new
New England. A very interesting experiment is being tried there by the
Pittsfield Theater Company--a company of gentlemen--who believe that
in a town like Pittsfield the theater justifies a consideration not
dissimilar to that with which we regard our public library or our art
museum! These gentlemen are leading the way in a movement which ought to
be widespread. They have faced, not a theory, but a condition, and they
will discover that, so far as immediate popular use is concerned, the
theater is of more importance in a community than either the art museum
or the public library. If they give the people what will interest the
people, ... if they arrange for popular prices, secure good actors, and
treat the theater as a community institution in the same sense as an art
museum and a library are community institutions, the "Outlook" has small
doubt of their success.'

However the Pittsfield experiment turns out, considered, as it should
be, as a sign of the times, it tells us emphatically--first, that the
present system of meekly taking whatever plays are sent on from New
York by a monopolistic commercial management, for its own good, is by
intelligent citizens seen to be anti-civic. Again, it tells us that
the shortest cut to give the community open access to all the dramas it
wants itself or may assimilate for its needed pleasure and development
is naturally seen to be the public library method as first established
by Boston and since approved and adopted by all public-spirited

This method was devised to give the community free access to all the
books it wants for pleasure, profit, and advancement. A similar device
to give the community cheap access to all the plays it wants for the
same purposes may readily follow by a correspondingly practicable path
of administration by a special commission. The same path thus proved
good by test of time and utility for the library has since been followed
with adaptation to its different purposes by the park commission.

The commission administering the public library and employing experts
to operate it in all its departments and fields of activity has for many
years accomplished and continued its civic work not merely adequately
and thoroughly, but with superiority and distinction. This originally
self-appointed group of citizens was fired with the desire not to do
an exclusive or sectional work but to put upon its feet for the whole
municipality a civic institution. It proceeded toward this goal by
so shaping the undertaking that the city should ultimately accept and
assume charge of it as its own.

All the facts of experience we have go to prove that this public library
method of providing the shortest cut efficiently to give the public
proper free access to the world of books, is the method providing the
shortest cut efficiently to give the public proper cheap access to the
world of drama. By this method financial support for a theater may be
attained that shall be pledged to the civic good and adapted to local
dramatic requirements and development. This method of administration
by a special commission is not alone a proven feasible and simple civic
method, but also the only effective way yet broached to secure the
dramatic life and growth of a community.

Political corruption is no more to be accepted as a good argument to put
us off from the most feasible approach to the end needed than for the
public library itself. There may or might be some political corruption
in the administration of a public library. Are we, therefore, to give
up the library in our cities? There may be political corruption in the
administration of our public schools. Was it, therefore, a mistake
to establish them? Are we, therefore, to give up the public school?
Clearly, no! We are to strengthen and safe-guard them to the utmost.

One thing besides has been sufficiently exemplified by recent facts. It
is that the easy substitute for a civic theater commonly called in the
newspapers 'A Rich Man's Theater' will not represent nor attract the

Under phenomenally affluent conditions for commanding good results, that
substitute has proved its futility with brilliant conspicuousness. Any
one may now see that it was fore-doomed to fail. Why? Because it was out
of touch with the people, fated to be sectional and temporary, in its
attempts and achievements.

Such failure shows what historic life confirms, that more efficient than
money support is the support of a unified civic life and of such genius
and talent as require to be fed by that life, and do not flourish on
cash alone any more than they do on no cash at all. In order to secure
good conditions for artistic fertility in place of artistic futility,
all these encouraging factors, in their just degree, require to be taken
into the account.

An academic theater would, I believe, prove equally futile. All such
substitutes for a civic theater are doomed to barrenness because of
their segregation from the life of the community. Historic facts bear
witness alike to the bloodlessness of the exclusive and the sensualizing
of the commercial elements, when either gain the upper hand in control
of the dramatic output. Under the auspices of neither will the great
leavening middle mass of our people be put in touch with the stage to
the mutual advantage of the community and the drama.

       *       *       *       *       *



We are told by many critics that Euripides is not so great as Æschylus
or Sophocles, yet he seems to be on the whole the most beloved of the
Greek dramatists. As Porson said of him, 'We approve Sophocles more than
Euripides, but we love Euripides more than Sophocles.'

There are two reasons why he has been loved. First, among his countrymen
and the rest of the world, because, as a master of pathos, he has no
equal among the dramatists of his nation, and, as some declare, no
superior in the literature of the world. Second, by the moderns,
especially the English, because they see in him the promise of the
future. He is now regarded as anticipating in many ways the Elizabethan
drama. Churton Collins has well said, 'But in nothing does he come so
nearly home to the modern world as in his studies and presentation of
women. In Shakespeare and in Shakespeare alone have we a gallery of
female portraits comparable in range and elaboration to what he has left
us. He has painted them under almost all conditions which can elicit and
develop the expression of natural character: under the infatuation of
illicit and consuming passion at war with the better self, as in Phædra;
under the provocation of such wrongs and outrages as transform Medea
into a tigress and Hecuba into a fiend; under all the appeals to
their proper heroism, the spirit of self-sacrifice and self-abnegating
devotion, as in Macaria, Polyxena, Iphigenia, and Alcestis.'

He was, however, not popular in Athens. Why? Because he was ahead of
the phase of civilization and culture represented at that time in a city
which was on the verge of its ruin. He denounced cruelty and oppression,
he disliked war, he dwelt upon the virtues of slaves and menials, he was
sympathetic with the innocence and helplessness of young children, and
with all that the gentler affections can inspire or achieve.

In reading the 'Alcestis' several important points should be borne in
mind in regard to the play:

1. Its production. It is the earliest of the extant plays of Euripides
and was brought out B.C. 439 in the Archonship of Glaucinus. It was,
according to the custom of the Greeks, entered for competition in the
public prizes and performed in the great theater of Dionysius, supported
by the state. The competitor was obliged to send in three tragedies
called a trilogy, together with what was called a satyric play. This
last might be related to the tragedies or be quite independent, as they
usually were in Sophocles and Euripides. The satyric play was named
from the satyrs or attendants upon Bacchus, and was a farce or burlesque
intended to relieve the feelings of the spectators after the tragedies.
The 'Alcestis' was entered by Euripides as a satyric play, but it only
in parts approaches the characteristics of such a play. In other parts
it has the dignity and beauty of a tragedy. In fact it is more nearly
like a comedy in the modern sense of the word.

2. The structure of the play. This is like that of a typical Greek
tragedy with one exception. It opens, as is customary with Euripides,
with a monologue, which explains the plot and the position of affairs,
spoken by one of the characters, Apollo. Otherwise, it is like a regular
tragedy, presenting two sorts of action, that of a chorus consisting of
men or women whose functions were to comment on the action, draw morals
from it, express sympathy with the actors, and that of the regular

3. Its content. This is a Greek mythological story, in which gods and
mortals are the actors. The plot brings out two social ideals which were
peculiar to Greek civilization. The ideal that it was the duty, approved
of by the gods, that old people should die for their children, and that
wives should die for their husbands, and that such sacrifice should be
accepted as a matter of course; and the ideal of hospitality, which was
incumbent, no matter what pain it might cause to exercise it.

With regard to the first ideal, many critics of this drama take the view
that to the Greeks there would be nothing contemptible or unnatural
in the conduct of Admetus. To quote Mr. Collins again on this point,
'Alcestis would be considered fortunate for having had an opportunity of
displaying so conspicuously the fidelity to a wife's first and capital
duty. Had Admetus prevented such a sacrifice he would have robbed
Alcestis of an honor which every nobly ambitious woman in Hellas would
have coveted. This is so much taken for granted by the poet that all
that he lays stress on in the drama is the virtue rewarded by the return
of Alcestis to life, the virtue characteristic of Admetus, the virtue
of hospitality, to this duty in all the agony of his sorrow Admetus had
been nobly true, and as a reward for what he had thus earned, the
wife who had been equally true to woman's obligations was restored
all-glorified to home and children and mutual love.'

The unbiased reader, however, cannot help suspecting that Euripides saw
ahead of the ideals of his time and intended deliberately to show up
the cowardice and selfishness of Admetus, by what the critics call the
'painful scene' between Pheres and Admetus.

In the second place, if he did not share to some extent the feelings of
the chorus that the virtue of hospitality might be carried too far, how
could he have made it say:

  'Many a guest from many a land ere now
  I've known arriving at Admetus' halls,
  And set before them viands; but ne'er yet
  Any more reckless have I entertained
  Than this, who first, although he saw my lord,
  Bowed down with sorrow, dared to pass our gates,
  And next immoderately took his fill
  Of what was offered--though he knew our grief--
  And what we did not offer bade us fetch.'

The unbiased reader will find a few critics on his side, and he will
find also the poet Browning, who, in his Balaustion's 'Adventure,' has
put into the mouth of his beautiful young Greek woman an interpretation
which will chime in fully with his own untutored perceptions.

       *       *       *       *       *


'_Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble_'


Why opera, which is a less old and less vital form of entertainment than
drama (in America), should spring into such prominence is difficult
to understand. San Francisco has raised one hundred thousand dollars
towards a seven-hundred-thousand-dollar opera house, which will be owned
and managed by the municipality. The Metropolitan and the Chicago
and the Philadelphia and the New Orleans Opera maintain themselves
as centers of real artistic work, though they are not municipal
enterprises. Opera in Boston is assured for another three years, and
this has been accomplished through the efforts of citizens.

But America has no endowed nor municipal theater.

I would in no way decry opera, but it is very clear that some of the
energy which is now being used for opera might far better be put into
the wider field of drama. Because of its very nature, opera is bound to
appeal to and to reach fewer people than drama. As a force and a power
for education and general uplift, it can never compare with drama. There
is a considerable number of people who attend the opera because they
love it, but a much larger number attend because it is fashionable.
All the drama leagues and numberless organizations which are trying to
cultivate taste for good plays and to better the drama are on the wrong
track. It is not a cultivated, appreciative public that is needed. Let
those interested in drama learn a lesson from opera. Let them employ
their energies to make drama fashionable. When it becomes incumbent upon
society leaders to occupy stalls in the theater for a season, we shall
have an endowed theater and not until then.


Readers of THE NEW DRAMA may be interested to hear that the enterprise
of the actors of the Brahm Company, which in the winter seemed
uncertain, is now secure. The Deutsches Künstlertheater was incorporated
on April 20, with a capital of 790,000 marks. Willy Grumwald is
really to be manager, Ernst Friedmann, business manager, and among the
associates are Tilla Durieux, Carl Forest, Gerhart Hauptmann, Hilde
Herterich, Else Lehmann, Emil Lessing (Brahm's stage manager), Theodor
Loos, Hans Marr, Emanuel Reicher, Rudolf Rittner (who declares, however,
that he is to return to the theater only as associate, artistic adviser,
and stage manager, and that he still has no intention of ever
acting again; since his blending of blazing passion with austere
self-discipline is all too rare, let us hope he will change his mind),
Oscar Sauer, Mathilde Sussin (whose sublime Deaconess in 'When We
Dead Awake' so fully meets Ibsen's requirement of the actor of this
character: complete self-effacement until the close, and then tragic
acting of the highest order; Alfred Kerr, whose words--don't you
think?--no other living critic can equal, has called her 'eine der
Schattengestalten dieses grössten Theaters der Unscheinbarkeit, der
Seele'), and Paul Wegener. The Deutsches Künstlertheater is still
undecided whether to build a theater or to lease one; it will enter into
active being in July, 1914, when Otto Brahm will pass, alas, from the
active service of the theater, which he has served as has no other man.



A characteristic feature of modern newspaper criticism is the 'slam.'
The fundamental principles upon which 'slams' are based are as follows:
The writer of a 'slam' ought to be quite young, not long out of college.
That is the only sort of person who knows enough to construct a really
effective 'slam.' After one has been out of college for a few years the
dividing lines between what is good art and what is bad art become more
vague. The would-be critic starts out in life with a sort of Procrustean
ideal of measurement, to which everything has to be cut down. He is
blissfully sure of his standards, and does not need to bother his mind
over any possibilities in the way of new artistic developments. Only
after he begins to delve into the history of criticism upon his own
account does he wake up to the fact that 'the genius is the thing,' and
that the slings and arrows of outrageous critics have been powerless to
crush him out.

What is true of the great genius is also true of the genuinely talented
person. 'Slams' do not crush him out, they only call attention to him,
which is fortunate because the majority of people engaged in creative
work to-day possess talent rather than genius.

But a still more important fundamental principle to be observed by
the writer of 'slams' is that he must resolutely shut his eyes to any
qualities which appeal, even to him, as good qualities, while dwelling
with ferocious zest upon every point that he can possibly magnify into a
flaw. Or he may even fly at one bound to a pinnacle of wisdom by basing
his criticism entirely upon the first chapter or the last chapter of
a book, or the first act or the last act of a play. Or he may win his
spurs for smartness by deliberate misstatements, born, perhaps, of
carelessness, perhaps of the genuine desire to be downright disagreeable
and funny. The one thing which he must carefully avoid is the slightest
touch of genuine appreciation. This is not difficult, for appreciation
means the power to enter into the point of view of the writer or the
artist, and this the slinger of 'slams' is incapable of doing, even if
he had the desire of so doing.

Blessed be the writer of 'slams.' He is as debonair and inconsequential
as a young Hermes to whom only the serious lessons of life can teach
sympathy and true insight, if he will let them.

Transcriber's note: Nyársnóttin--the y has an acute accent.

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