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Title: Modern Icelandic Plays - Eyvind of the Hills; The Hraun Farm
Author: Sigurjónsson, Jóhann, 1880-1919
Language: English
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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.

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      file which includes the original visual illustrations.
      The HTML version also includes the songs in three forms:
      raw lilypond (.ly extension, can be converted to other
      formats), .pdf (image), and MIDI (sound). See
Transcriber's note:

      The first few pages of the book, before the Contents, have been
      rearranged in the order 4, 5, 2, 1, 3. Rows of asterisks show the

      The word "cooperation" was printed with dieresis (dots) over the
      second "o". The dieresis was omitted from this e-text to minimize
      confusion with the letter "ö". Variation between ö (Introduction
      and Advertising sections, including all references to "Björnstjerne
      Björnson") and ø (names within the plays) is unchanged.

      The letters á and æ do not occur in the translations.



MODERN ICELANDIC PLAYS

Eyvind of the Hills
The Hraun Farm

by

JÓHANN SIGURJÓNSSON

Translated by Henninge Krohn Schanche



New York
The American-Scandinavian Foundation
London: Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1916


       *       *       *       *       *


  _Copyright, 1916, by The American-Scandinavian Foundation_
  _All Stage Rights reserved by Henninge Krohn Schanche_

  _D. B. Updike · The Merrymount Press · Boston · U.S.A._


       *       *       *       *       *


SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS

VOLUME VI

·.·

MODERN ICELANDIC
PLAYS


       *       *       *       *       *


This series of SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS is published by
The American-Scandinavian Foundation in the belief that
greater familiarity with the chief literary monuments
of the North will help Americans to a better understanding
of Scandinavians, and thus serve to stimulate their
sympathetic cooperation to good ends.


       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration:
(AMERICAN SCANDINAVIAN FOUNDATION)
Established by
Niels Poulson]


       *       *       *       *       *


CONTENTS

  Introduction                                     vii
  Eyvind Of The Hills                                1
  The Hraun Farm                                    81



INTRODUCTION


Both volumes of the SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS selected to appear in 1916 are
by natives of Iceland. They belong, however, to periods of time and to
modes of writing remote from each other. Snorri Sturluson, the greatest
of Icelandic historians, was born in 1179. His _Prose Edda_, the
companion-piece of the present volume, is a Christian's account of Old
Norse myths and poetic conceptions thus happily preserved as they were
about to pass into oblivion. More than seven hundred years separate
Jóhann Sigurjónsson from Snorri, and his work is in dramatic, not saga
form. But even as in outward appearance modern Iceland is not unlike
ancient Iceland, so the Icelandic writers of the present have marked
kinship with the past. Despite many centuries of relative neglect, the
old traditions lived on, cherished by scholars, until now, at the
beginning of the twentieth century, the Icelandic mind appears to be
again renascent and creative. Einar Jónsson, the sculptor, has his
counterpart in the domain of letters in such recent writers as Jónas
Jónasson, Emar Hjörleifsson, Gudmundur Magnússon, Jónas Gudlaugsson,
Gunnar Gunnarson, and Gudmundur Kamban, while every important fjord and
valley can claim its own poet or novelist. As yet, the most
distinguished performance of these younger authors is the play printed
in this volume, _Eyvind of the Hills_ (_Bjærg-Ejvind og hans Hustru_),
by Jóhann Sigurjónsson. Among literary phenomena _Eyvind of the Hills_
is a surprise, almost as though Iceland woke to find her naked mountains
clothed in forest in a night.

Let Sigurjónsson tell his life story in his own words:[1] "I was born
June 19, 1880, on a large farm in the northern part of Iceland. Our
household numbered about twenty people. A broad stream, well stocked
with salmon; on both sides of the river, rocks where thousands of
eider-ducks had their nests; a view out over the Atlantic with high
cliffs where sea-birds lived; lava-fields with unusual flowers; and in
the distance blue mountains; such was the theatre where I acted my
childhood pieces and where I wrote my first poems.

  [Footnote 1: A letter dated November 7, 1912, to M. Leon Pineau,
  published in _La Revue_ (Paris), July 1, 1914.]

"When fourteen years old, I was sent to school at Reykjavik; but after
pocketing the diploma of the upper class, my longing led me down to
Copenhagen, where I chose the study of veterinary science. For three
years I worked zealously at my studies and took all the preliminary
examinations required, until suddenly I burned my ships and resolutely
threw myself into the work of a playwright. At first one difficulty
piled up after another. To begin with, I had to write in a language not
my own. And then, what knowledge I had of human nature was limited to a
most incomplete knowledge of myself and of a few college chums of my own
age. Besides, it was not long before I had to concern myself about mere
bread and butter.

"My first victory was an appreciative letter from Björnstjerne Björnson,
wherein he promised warmly to recommend me to Gyldendal's, the great
publishing house, which subsequently published my first play, _Dr.
Rung_.

"My second victory was the acceptance by the Dagmar Theatre of _The
Hraun Farm_. After the sometime directors of that theatre resigned, my
play passed into the control of the Royal Theatre. Finally, I made my
stage debut with _Eyvind of the Hills_, which was received with much
enthusiasm both by press and public.

"In order to give as much actuality as possible to this drama,
I traversed Iceland on foot from north to south and saw the places high
up in the wild mountain waste where Eyvind lived with his wife. In my
little garret in Copenhagen I had learned by my own experience the agony
of loneliness."

Sigurjónsson's first drama, _Dr. Rung_, was written in Danish and
published in 1905. This tragedy presents a young Copenhagen physician,
Harold Rung, who is endeavoring to find a specific against tuberculosis.
In order to test the effect of his serum, he decides to inoculate
himself with the disease, and the pleading of Vilda, who loves him,
fails to shake him from his purpose. The remedy proves a failure; the
young scientist goes mad, giving Vilda poisoned grapes.

_The Hraun Farm_ was published in Icelandic in 1908 (_Bóndinn á
Hrauni_), and in Danish in 1912 (_Gaarden Hraun_). In rewriting the play
for the Copenhagen stage, Sigurjónsson gave it a happy ending, thus
changing a tragedy into a pleasant dramatic idyl of contemporary country
life in Iceland. It is the familiar Scandinavian theme of the struggle
of human love with love of the homestead. An old farmer, Sveinungi, is a
veritable patriarch living at the edge of the "hraun," the lava-field.
His only daughter, Ljot, he has destined for a sturdy neighbor's son,
who will keep up the estate. But the girl falls in love with a young
geologist and arouses her father's wrath, until the play ends with a
scene in which Sveinungi is won over by Jorunn, his persuasive wife. The
action is interrupted by an earthquake. The dialogue is well maintained
and rises to heights of lyrical splendor. In point of dramatic
effectiveness, _The Hraun Farm_ may be regarded as only a preliminary
study compared to the next play, but its picture of pastoral Iceland
makes it a fitting companion-piece to the greater drama in the present
volume.

All other work of Sigurjónsson and the younger Icelandic dramatists
pales beside _Eyvind of the Hills_, written in Danish and published in
1911.[2] The high sky of dramatic vision, the simple nobility of the
characters portrayed, and the poetry of exalted passion raise above the
ordinary this stern tragedy of natural lives in the wilderness. Eyvind
is a man of heroic mould, who was forced by circumstances and hunger to
the state of a common thief. When outlawed, he fled to the mountains.
Seeking human companionship, he now descends into a valley where his
identity is unknown and takes service with Halla, a rich young widow.
She learns of his disguise only to fall in love with his real character.
Persecuted by her brother-in-law, who wishes to marry her, and possessed
by a great love, she insists on sharing the outlaw's lot and escapes
with him to his old haunt in the mountains. Here they have two children,
but she is obliged to sacrifice them both in turn, and to flee ever
farther away. The last act finds the outlaw and his wife facing each
other in a lonely hut, in the midst of a snowstorm which has shut off
every avenue of sustenance. Although the beautiful reality of love is
there, they are tormented by hunger and utter need into doubts and
mutual reproaches, and at last seek death in the snow.

  [Footnote 2: The English translation combines features of the
  original edition and a revised version printed in 1913. The play
  appeared also in Icelandic (_Fjalla-Eyvindur_) in 1912.]

According to the historical facts upon which the story is based, a stray
horse found its way to the hut of the starving couple, and so their
lives were saved. Sigurjónsson used this ending when he rewrote the last
scenes of the fourth act for Fru Dybvad, who played the part of Halla in
Copenhagen, concluding with Halla's exclamation: "So there is then a
God!" With _Eyvind_, as with _The Hraun Farm_, we can thus take our
choice of two endings.

_The Wish_ (_Önsket_), Sigurjónsson's latest play, was published in
1915. Gloomy and terrible, but strong and restrained, it is built on a
theme of seduction, remorse, and forgiveness in death, woven about the
legendary figure of Galdra-Loftur, who lived in Iceland at the beginning
of the eighteenth century. It ends with an intensely dramatic scene in
the old cathedral church at Hólar.

In addition to these four plays, Sigurjónsson has also written some
beautiful verse.

In Mrs. Schanche, Sigurjónsson has a translator well fitted by artistic
family traditions for the task. Herself of Norwegian descent, she has
been for upward of thirty years a resident of Philadelphia. She has
interpreted the pure idiom of Sigurjónsson's dialogue with real dramatic
perception. In editing the volume the Publication Committee has had the
valuable assistance of Hanna Astrup Larsen.

Georg Brandes, the veteran Danish critic, though not given to over
optimism, has recognized Sigurjónsson's distinction, and the Icelander
is acclaimed by the public who best know Ibsen and Strindberg, in
Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Christiania. _Eyvind_ has been successful
also on the German stage. "Poetic talent of high order," says Brandes,
"manifests itself in this new drama, with its seriousness, rugged force,
and strong feeling. Few leading characters, but these with a most
intense inner life; courage to confront the actual, and exceptional
skill to depict it; material fully mastered and a corresponding
confident style!" And the French critic, Leon Pineau, concludes a long
account of Sigurjónsson's production with the following estimate of
_Eyvind of the Hills_: "In this drama there is no haze of fantasy, no
bold and startling thesis, not even a new theory of art-- nothing but
poetry; not the poetry of charming and fallacious words, not that of
lulling rhythm, nor of dazzling imagery which causes forgetfulness, but
the sublimely powerful poetry which creates being of flesh and blood
like ourselves-- to whom Jóhann Sigurjónsson has given of his own soul."

Written by the author in a language not his by birth, this rock-ribbed
tragedy of the strong and simple passions of Iceland lends itself
peculiarly to international interpretation. It is with some curiosity,
therefore, as well as satisfaction, that we introduce to English readers
a young representative of the renaissance of Icelandic literature. How
will he be judged by our countrymen, and what will be his place, if any,
upon the American stage?

    H. G. L.

  _New York, June 1, 1916._



EYVIND OF THE HILLS

[_Bjærg-Ejvind og Hans Hustru_]

A DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS

1911



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ


  HALLA (pronounced Hadla), a well-to-do widow.
  KARI (pronounced Kowri), overseer on Halla's farm.
  BJØRN, Halla's brother-in-law, farmer and bailiff.
  ARNES, a vagrant laborer.
  GUDFINNA, an elderly, unmarried relative of the family.
  MAGNUS         }
  ODDNY          } Halla's servants.
  SIGRID         }
  A Shepherd Boy }
  ARNGRIM, a leper.
  A District Judge.
  TOTA, a child of three years.
  Peasants, peasant women, and farm-hands.

_The action takes place in Iceland in the middle of the eighteenth
century. The story of the two principal characters is founded an
historical events. Halla's nature is moulded on a Danish woman's soul._



ACT I


_A "badstofa" or servants' hall. Along each side-wall, a row of
bedsteads with bright coverlets of knitted wool. Between the bedsteads,
a narrow passageway. On the right, the entrance, which is reached by a
staircase. On the left, opposite the entrance, a dormer-window with
panes of bladder. On the right, over the bedsteads, a similar window.
Long green blades of grass are visible through the panes. In the centre
back a door opens into Halla's bed-chamber, which is separated from the
"badstofa" by a thin board partition. A small table-leaf is attached by
hinges to the partition. A copper train-oil lamp is fastened in the
doorcase. Over the nearest bedsteads a cross-beam runs at a man's height
from the floor; from this to the roof-tree is half of a man's height.
Under the window stands a painted chest. Carved wooden boxes are pushed
in under the bedsteads. The "badstofa" is old, the woodwork blackened by
age and soot._

_It is early spring, a late afternoon. Gudfinna and Oddny are sitting on
the beds facing each other, Gudfinna mending shoes, Oddny putting
patches on a coat. The Shepherd Boy is standing in the middle of the
room, throwing a dart adorned with red cock's feathers. The costumes are
old Icelandic._


_The Boy (throws his dart)._

Ho! ho! I came pretty near hitting her that time!

_Gudfinna._

Hitting whom?

_The Boy._

Can't you see the little spider hanging down from the beam? I mean to
shoot and break her thread.

_Oddny._

You are always up to some tomfoolery.

_Gudfinna._

Leave the poor creature in peace! It has done you no harm.

_The Boy (laughing)._

Do you think she'd break her legs if she should happen to fall down on
the floor?

_Gudfinna._

I won't have it! Destroying a spider's web is sure to bring bad luck,
and you'll end by tearing the window-pane with your dart.

_The Boy._

Kari has told me of a man who broke a bow-string with one shot, and that
from way off. (_Shoots._)

_Gudfinna._

If you don't stop, you shall wear your shoes with the holes in them.

_The Boy (pulling the dart out of the beam)._

Would you rather have me shoot your ear-locks?

_Gudfinna._

Are you crazy, lad? You might hit my eyes.

_The Boy._

I must have some kind of fun. I think I'll have a shot at Oddny's
plaits.

_Oddny._

If you dare!

_The Boy (laughing)._

If I have bad luck, you will look at Kari with only one eye.

_Oddny._

You need a good spanking.

_Gudfinna._

Kari ought not to have given you that dart.

_The Boy (going to the spider, makes a fanning motion with his hand)._

Up, old spinning-woman, if you bode good! Down, if you bode ill! Up, if
you bode good! Down, if you bode ill!

_Gudfinna._

You are awfully hard on your shoes, worse than a grown man. I hope you
don't walk on the sharpest stones just for fun?

_Oddny._

Of course he does!

_The Boy._

The sheep were so restless to-day. Some of them came near slipping away
from me.

_Oddny._

If they had, you wouldn't be riding such a high horse now!

_Gudfinna._

Have they been bad to you, laddie? Do you never feel timid when you are
alone so much?

_The Boy._

Sometimes I keep thinking what I should do if a mad bull came tearing
down the mountains.

_Gudfinna._

Don't speak of them! They are the worst monsters in the world-- except,
perhaps, the skoffin.

_The Boy._

What is a skoffin?

_Gudfinna._

Don't you know that? When a rooster gets to be very old, he lays an egg,
and if that's hatched, it becomes a skoffin. It kills a man by just
looking at him, and the only thing that can slay it is a church-blessed
silver bullet. Indeed, there are many things you have to be careful of,
my child. Are you not afraid of the outlaws? They're not good, those
fellows; they go about in skins with the wool on them and carry long
sticks with ice-spurs, and that at midsummer. Have you ever seen
anything of them?

_The Boy._

No, but yesterday I pretty near got scared. There came a man with a big
bag under his arm. I didn't know him at first, but it was only Arnes.

_Gudfinna._

And what did he want of you?

_The Boy._

He asked me to show him the way to a spring. He was thirsty.

_Gudfinna._

You had better not have too much talk with him. (_Hands him the shoes._)
There! Now they will last till to-morrow anyway. (_Kneels down, pulls
out a box, and examines its contents._)

      _Enter Halla from her chamber._

_Halla._

It is time for the sheep to be milked.

_The Boy._

I am going now to drive them home. I was waiting for my shoes.

_Halla._

Have you seen anything of the cows to-day?

_The Boy._

No. (_To Oddny._) When I get rich I'll give you a cow's tail to tie up
your plaits with.

_Oddny._

Hold your tongue!

    [_Exit the Boy._

_Halla (smiling)._

I heard him teasing you a while ago.

_Oddny._

He's forever pestering me about Kari-- as if I cared!

_Halla (with a little laugh)._

Well, Sigrid doesn't take such good care of Magnus's clothes as you of
Kari's.    [_Exit._

_Oddny (is silent for a moment and looks at the door)._

If I were a widow and owned a farm, the men would be noticing me too,
even if I had been nothing but a poor orphan servant girl before I
married-- like some others.

_Gudfinna (rising, a pair of stockings in her hand)._

What are you talking about? (_Pushes the box under the bed._)

_Oddny._

Do you know who was Halla's father?

_Gudfinna._

That is what no one seems to know. Some would have it that he was a
parson. (_She darns the stockings._)

_Oddny._

Yes, or a vagabond. There were also some ugly whispers about a stain on
her birth.

_Gudfinna._

You'd better bridle your tongue!

_Oddny._

I am not so dull as you imagine. When Halla thinks no one is looking,
she doesn't take her eyes from Kari. And she has made him overseer; that
seems queer to others besides me. Last Sunday at church some one asked
me if there was anything between the widow and the "overseer."

_Gudfinna._

And what did you say?

_Oddny._

I told them that it was quite possible Halla had her lines out for him,
but that I did not think Kari would swallow the fly, even if it had gold
on its wings.

_Gudfinna._

Much good it did you, the gospel you heard in church! I am sorry for
you, poor girl! You are crazy about a man who has neither eye nor ear
for you, but that is no reason why you should be running around
spreading gossip. Halla is not the kind of woman that is fond of men.
There was never a harsh word between her and her husband, God rest his
soul, but there was not much love-making between them either. No,
indeed!

_Oddny._

Well, what of that! He was a man up in years and had a fine farm.

_Gudfinna._

He was an upright and honest man, and Halla made him a good wife, my
dear.

_Oddny._

Who doubts that? (_Silence._) I don't know what ails Kari of late.
Yesterday he flew into a rage when I asked him if he knew of a cure for
freckles. I hope Halla has not become such a saint yet that one can't
notice her freckles.

      _Enter Kari and Magnus._

_Kari and Magnus._

Good evening!

_Gudfinna and Oddny._

Good evening!

_Oddny (rising)._

I am sitting on your bed, I believe.

_Magnus (throws off his cap)._

Oddny, ask Sigrid to come here and pull off my stockings. (_Sits down._)
It feels good to sit down.    [_Oddny goes reluctantly._

_Kari._

Why is she so grumpy? She is not so cheerful a body as you are. I should
like to have known you in your young days. I dare say you knew how to
handle a rake.

_Gudfinna (straightening her back)._

You may be sure. On dry ground, two lively fellows had all they could do
to make ready for my rake.

_Kari._

And you were not afraid to tuck up your skirts, where the ground was low
and marshy.

_Gudfinna._

Indeed not! Many a time I had water in my shoes.

      _Enter Sigrid and Oddny._

_Magnus (stretching his feet out on the floor)._

Pull off my shoes! I'm so tired to-night I can't move.

_Sigrid._

It must be laziness that ails you, as usual. (_Kneels down._) How in the
name of heaven did you manage to get so wet in this dry weather? I can
wring the water out of your stockings.

_Magnus._

Kari wanted to jump the creek to make a short cut, and I fell in.

_Oddny (to Kari)._

Aren't you wet, too?

_Kari._

No. (_Sits down._)

_Magnus._

Kari skims over everything like a bird.

_Kari._

Every man has his gift. (_To Sigrid._) You should see the rocks Magnus
can lift.

_Magnus._

Well, it may be true that I am pretty strong, but I should like to see
the man who could throw you in an honest _glima_.

_Oddny._

I know one whom Kari couldn't stand against.

_Magnus._

And who is that? (_Sigrid pulls at his stockings._) There! There!

_Oddny._

Bjørn, Halla's brother-in-law.

_Magnus._

I should not be afraid to bet on Kari against him. (_To Sigrid._) Give
me the stockings! (_Dries his feet with the stocking legs._)

    (_Sigrid pulls out a chest, where she finds dry stockings._)

      _Enter Halla._

_Oddny._

I don't think Kari would dare to try a fall with the bailiff.

_Kari._

If you were the prize, I should not dare to!

_Gudfinna (laughing)._

There you got it!

    (_Everybody laughs except Oddny._)

_Halla (smiling)._

Yet many have fought for less.

_Magnus._

I'm ready to make a wager with you, Oddny, that Kari would win.

_Halla._

It does not look as if the cows were coming home to-night. Magnus, won't
you go up the gorge and see if they are there, and I will send the boy
down to the creek.

    [_Exit Sigrid with the wet stockings._

_Magnus._

Oh, why did I bother to change my stockings!

_Halla._

You can take a horse. (_A dog is heard barking._) There! we shall have
company.

_Kari (rising)._

I'll run up there.

_Halla._

You have your trout nets to look after. I know Magnus won't mind.

_Magnus._

Confound those cows! Why can't they come home in time! (_Puts on his
shoes._)

    (_Kari pulls out a small box from under the bed and begins to
    whittle teeth for a rake._)

      _Arnes puts his head in at the door; he carries a large bag._

_Arnes._

Good evening! I did not want to trouble any one to come to the outside
door. (_Drops his bag on the floor._) Now Arnes is rich-- there's gold
sand in my bag.

_Halla._

I dare say there is.

_Arnes._

You people don't know what lies hidden in the hills. I have heard of a
man who lost his way in Surt's Cave. For days he walked underground, and
when at last he came up he had gold sand in his shoes.

_Halla._

What would you do if that were really gold in your bag?

_Arnes._

Then Arnes would do many things. You should help yourself to all your
hands could hold, and as many times as you have given me shelter, and
Arngrim the leper should also fill his fists. I know of no one else to
whom I care to do good.

_Gudfinna._

And should I have nothing?

_Arnes._

I would give you new, long ear-locks of gold.

_Magnus (laughing)._

Some little gift you'd surely have for the bailiff-- no?

_Arnes._

For him? Yes, if I could throw the sand into his eyes. (_Opens the bag
and takes out a handful of Iceland moss._) They are fine, these lichens,
and taste good when you cook them in milk.

_Gudfinna (rising and muttering to herself)._

The milk!    [_Exit._

_Arnes (holding up a handful)._

See how big they are.

_Halla._

Yes, they are fine.

_Arnes (patting the bag)._

And it is well stuffed, too.

      _Enter the Boy._

_The Boy._

Now you can milk the sheep.

_Halla._

You are not through yet, poor boy. You will have to go down along the
creek and look for the cows.

    [_Exit Oddny._

_The Boy._

I hope they're not up to new tricks and begin to stay out nights.
    [_Exit._

_Halla (calling after him)._

Take a drink of milk in the pantry; the key is in the door. (_Magnus
rises slowly._)

_Arnes._

Are you going to buy my bag?

_Halla._

If you make the price right.

_Arnes._

You ought to have it for nothing-- you've given me shelter and good food
so often. (_Lifts his foot._) What I need most just now is to get
something on my feet.

_Halla._

I don't think we shall quarrel about the price. (_To Magnus._) Take it
out into the kitchen.

    [_Exit Magnus with the bag._

_Halla._

Will you not sit down? I'll go and find you a bite to eat.    [_Exit._

_Arnes (following her with his eyes)._

That woman has a kind heart. (_Sits down._) How long have you been
working here on the farm?

_Kari._

This is my second year.

_Arnes._

And overseer already? Yes, some folks have luck. (_Leans toward him._)
As you may know, I haven't a very good name. I can't settle down very
long at any one place, and it comes hard for me to be anybody's servant.
You must surely have heard me spoken of as a thief?

_Kari._

People will say so many things.

_Arnes (passing his hand over his ears)._

My ears are not marked yet, but somehow it sticks to you like dust--
what people say-- no matter whether it is true or not. Have you ever
been the target for gossipy tales?

_Kari (slowly)._

Not that I know of.

_Arnes._

Then you have it coming to you. Shall I tell you what they are saying
about you in these parts?

_Kari._

Is it about me and Halla?

_Arnes._

I have heard that too, but this story is about yourself.

_Kari._

I would rather be spared listening to gossip.

_Arnes._

If I had been quite sure that it was nothing but gossip, I should not
have opened my mouth about it.

_Kari (laughing coldly)._

You are at least frank.

_Arnes (rising)._

It is all the same to me, but if you have anything to hide, you had
better keep your eyes and ears open, for you have an enemy, that much I
can tell you.

_Kari._

I don't know that I have harmed any one around here.

_Arnes._

You live and fill your place. That is enough to make enemies.

      _Enter Halla with a wooden mug filled with porridge and milk.
      The lid is turned back and some meat, dried fish, and butter
      are placed upon it._

_Halla._

You get nothing but skimmed milk. I thought you would rather have that
than wait until the cows had been milked. (_Lets down the table-leaf._)

_Arnes (sits down and reaches for the mug)._

God bless you, woman! I am used to having it on my knees. (_Pulls out
his pocket-knife and eats._)

_Halla (stops in front of Kari and looks at him)._

You are working hard; there are drops of sweat on your forehead.

_Kari._

Are there? (_Wipes his forehead; looks up._) Should you like to know
your life beforehand? (_Stands up and raises both arms to the ceiling._)
I have lived where I could touch the roof over my head with my clenched
fists, and I have lived where my eyes could not reach it. (_Sits down._)
Can you remember how few clothes I had when I came here?

_Halla (sitting down)._

I can well remember the green knitted jerkin you wore-- you have it
yet-- and your coat and brown breeches. (_Smiling._) There was a big
black patch on the left knee.

_Kari._

The rags on my back were all I had in the world, and now I own two new
sets and even more underclothes. You deserve that I should put teeth of
gold in your rake.

_Halla (smiling)._

That rake would be too heavy for me.

_Kari (looking at Halla)._

So many things come back to me to-night that I have not thought of
before. You gave me leave to work in the smithy in my spare time instead
of doing the wool-carding. You saw to it that I should be one of the men
who gather the sheep down from the hills in the fall, because you knew I
liked it.

_Halla._

That was only natural, since you are so swift of foot.

_Kari._

And for my bed you knitted a coverlet with seven colors in it. You have
always been good to me.

_Halla._

Now you are getting far too grateful. (_To Arnes._) Do you think you
have enough food there, Arnes? I can get you some more, if you want it.

_Arnes (patting his stomach)._

I don't even know if I can make room for the porridge.

_Kari (looking at Halla)._

If I were to leave this place, I should miss you more than any other
living being I have ever known. (_Rises, pushes the box under the bed._)

_Halla._

I hope you will stay here for many years yet.

_Kari._

Nobody knows what the morrow may bring.    [_Exit._

    (_Halla follows Kari with her eyes. Silence._)

_Arnes (puts the wooden mug on the table)._

Now I give thanks for the meal. Will you let me lie in one of your barns
to-night?

_Halla._

You would surely sleep better in a bed. You can lie with Magnus.

_Arnes._

I never sleep better than in old dry hay.

      _Enter Gudfinna._

_Gudfinna._

Is it true, Arnes, that you can tell what the birds are talking about?

_Arnes._

Do they say that?

_Gudfinna._

In olden times there were wise folks who understood all such things, but
people nowadays are backward in that as in so many other ways. (_Sits
down._)

_Halla (smiling)._

Yes, young people are not good for much, in your opinion.

_Gudfinna._

We need only think of the sagas. Where have we men now like Skarphjedinn
and Grettir Asmundsson? There are none such in these days.

_Halla._

When I was a child there was nothing I wished so much as that I might
have lived with Grettir in his banishment.

_Arnes._

Was it not eighteen years he was an outlaw?

_Halla._

Nineteen. He lived longer as an outlaw than any one else has done. He
lacked only one year to become free.

_Arnes._

He must have been a great man, but that brings to my mind what the leper
said the other day, when the talk turned to the old sagas.

_Halla._

And what did he say?

_Arnes._

Distance makes mountains blue and mortals great.

      _Enter the Boy, running._

_The Boy._

The bailiff is coming on horseback.

_Halla (rising)._

What can he want so late? Did you find the cows?

_The Boy._

Yes, I met them coming home. They are in.

_Halla._

Did you tell the girls?

_The Boy._

No.    [_Exit._

_Halla._

Gudfinna, you go and ask him to come in. (_Gudfinna rises._) You won't
forget about the milk?

    [_Exit Gudfinna._

_Arnes (rising)._

Now I think I shall go and seek my bed.

_Halla (smiling)._

Don't you want to have a talk with the bailiff?

_Arnes._

If I had found some dead sheep up in the hills with his mark on their
ears, I'd gladly have told him so.

_Halla._

Sleep well!

    [_Exit Arnes._

    (_Halla smooths her hair._)

      _Enter Bjørn, carrying a riding-whip with a silver-mounted
      handle and a leather lash; he wears riding-socks reaching
      above the knees._

_Halla._

Good evening!

_Bjørn (pointing to his feet)._

I did not take off my socks. I see now that they are not quite clean.

_Halla._

Will you be seated? May I offer you anything?

_Bjørn._

No, thank you. I want nothing. (_Sits down._) You know I have not far to
come. The sorrel and I can make it in fifteen minutes, when we are in
the humor.

_Halla._

How is everything at your place? Have you any news?

_Bjørn._

That depends on what you mean. Who was that I met in the hall? It was
quite dark there.

_Halla._

It must have been Arnes.

_Bjørn._

Is he spending the night here?

_Halla._

Yes.

_Bjørn._

It is no concern of mine, but I doubt if my late brother would have
sheltered men of his kind, and yet he had the name of being hospitable.
(_Takes a snuff-box from his pocket._)

_Halla (sitting down)._

I know nothing wrong of Arnes, and I do know that he is grateful for
what I can offer him.

_Bjørn._

I thought you had heard the common talk. His record is not of the best,
I am sorry to say. I have been told that little things are apt to be
missing where he has made his stay.

_Halla._

I would rather bear such a loss in silence than perhaps throw suspicion
on an innocent man.

_Bjørn._

Finely thought! Yet some one must be the first to warn the unwary.
(_Takes snuff._) You must hear what happened to me not long ago. The boy
lost two milch sheep up in the hills. I was vexed that it should occur
so early in the summer when they still had their wool, and therefore I
sent one of my men to look for them. Near Red Peak he found tracks of
the sheep and also the footprints of a large man. (_Lowering his
voice._) You could do me a good turn if you would give Arnes a pair of
new shoes; I should pay for them, of course. He will not suspect
anything, if you do it. Then you keep his old shoes for me.

_Halla (rising)._

No, I will have nothing to do with that.

_Bjørn._

Then we shan't speak of it any more. I think I shall find out what I am
after, nevertheless. (_He is silent._)

_Halla._

You surely didn't come here to-night for Arnes's sake?

_Bjørn._

I did not. Was Kari at church last Sunday?

_Halla._

Why do you ask?

_Bjørn._

I know that he was there. (_Sits down._) You are satisfied with him as
an overseer?

_Halla (sits down)._

In every way.

_Bjørn._

All the same, I advise you to get rid of him, the sooner the better.

_Halla (laughing)._

I thank you for your kind advice.

_Bjørn._

My advice is not to be scorned, and besides, am I not your
brother-in-law?

_Halla._

My sheep had to learn that to their cost, when they strayed in on your
pastures, and you set your dogs on them.

_Bjørn._

Even though we have not always been as neighborly as I might wish, you
must listen to me this time. I have always disliked Kari; I would never
have hired that man. Believe me, there is something underhanded about
him. Nobody knows him, and no one has heard of his people. It is as if
he had shot up out of the ground. The only thing you know about him is
that his name is Kari, and you don't even know that.

_Halla (rising)._

What are you driving at with all this?

_Bjørn._

Sit still. (_Halla sits down._) Last fall two strangers who stopped on
their journey through here thought they knew Kari. They said it was
easier to change one's name than one's face. As bad luck would have it,
I did not get a chance to talk with them myself, but my suspicions were
roused. Now there is a man staying with me who has just come from the
south. He saw Kari at church last Sunday, and if he is right, it is an
ugly story.

_Halla._

What do you mean?

_Bjørn (rising)._

Neither more nor less than that your overseer's name is not Kari but
Eyvind, that he was locked up for theft, and got away.

_Halla (has risen)._

You must be mad, both of you.

_Bjørn._

The man would not swear that he had seen right. (_Smiles._) Somehow he
seemed sorry that he had told me. He said he had never seen two people
more alike, and Eyvind had a scar on his forehead just as Kari has--
that much he remembered plainly.

_Halla._

It was last Sunday at church that he saw Kari?

_Bjørn._

Yes.

_Halla (laughing)._

Kari was not at church last Sunday.

_Bjørn._

That's queer. Two of my men were there. But we can easily solve that
riddle, if I bring my guest over here to-morrow.

_Halla._

I don't believe for a moment that Kari is a thief.

_Bjørn._

You need not believe it. Simply tell him what I have said, and that I
mean to have the judge look into the matter. I warrant he will be out of
the house before sunrise.

_Halla._

You are quick to believe evil and quick to run to the judge, but in this
case you will not reap much honor.

_Bjørn._

If you suppose I shall act hastily, you are mistaken. I shall write to
the county that Eyvind hails from and give the letter to my guest, who
will see that it gets safely and speedily into the proper hands. The
answer can be here within two or three months.

_Halla._

Is it out of kindness to me that you are so eager about this matter?

_Bjørn._

If it is true what people say, it would be best for you that Kari should
take himself away from here as fast as can be. You might find it harder
to part from him two or three months hence.

_Halla (icily)._

Now you show your real self. You did not come here to give me kind
counsel, nor do I look for such from you, but you had better leave me
and my household in peace. Do you think I have forgotten what you did to
me? When your brother told you that he intended to marry me, you thought
it would be a disgrace to the family for him to make a poor servant girl
his wife. You urged him to satisfy his fleeting passion, as you called
it, without any marriage.

_Bjørn._

I never said that.

_Halla (laying her hand on her heart)._

In here I have a sealed book in which I keep the words my friends have
spoken. And I have more to tell you. There was something behind it--
your fear of losing a part of your power.

_Bjørn._

What are you saying?

_Halla._

Did that prick your soul, you godly man! You knew that your brother
would follow your advice like a child, but you had misgivings that you
could not work me like dough in your hands, and what you feared came
true. You can never forget that I made my husband stand on his own feet.
I know your greed for power! But now I warn you for all time to let me
and mine alone. (_Sits down._)

_Bjørn (flushed with anger, but still controlling his voice)._

Much have I learned to-night that I did not know before. Now I see why
you made Kari overseer. You are not your mother's daughter for nothing.

_Halla (her lips trembling)._

You want to make me angry. You can't do it. Nor shall you succeed in
blackening Kari in my eyes. You were hoping that I should hurt him by
telling him what you have said. I shall not tell him.

_Bjørn._

You will talk differently when I hold the proof in my hand. (_Shakes his
hand; goes toward the door._)

_Halla (rising, hatred burning in her eyes)._

Just before you came, the servants were making bets about who was best
at _glima_, you or Kari. Oddny was the only one who stood up for you.
Kari thought you had grown so old and stiff in your joints that you
would not dare to go in for a wrestling-match.

_Bjørn._

Tell Kari that I am ready to meet him this evening, if he wishes it.

_Halla._

No, I shall tell Kari that you have given your word to wrestle with him
at the big sheep-folds in the fall. I hope to have a good many
witnesses, when the bailiff bites the dust.

_Bjørn._

I will fight him whenever and wherever he may wish-- anywhere but in
jail. Good-bye!    [_Exit._

_Halla (stands motionless for a moment; passes her hands down over her
face; goes to the door; calls)._

Gudfinna! Gudfinna! (_Goes back into the room; again passes her hands
down over her face._)

      _Enter Gudfinna._

_Gudfinna._

Has the bailiff gone?

_Halla._

Yes.

_Gudfinna._

He came near upsetting me in the hall and didn't even say good evening.

_Halla._

Do sweep the floor! I won't have in here the dirt he has dragged with
him.

    (_Gudfinna takes a bird's wing and sweeps._)

      _Enter the Boy._

_The Boy (shouting)._

Come and see what we have caught!

_Gudfinna._

Not so noisy! Did you catch a whale?

_The Boy._

We got a salmon-- so big! (_Shows the size with his hands._)

_Halla._

Tell Kari to come here; I want to speak with him. I will let you take
care of the salmon. Open and clean it, sprinkle some salt on it, and lay
it in fresh grass overnight.

_The Boy._

Won't you look at it before it is cut?

_Halla (patting his cheek)._

You big baby! Do you think I have never seen a salmon before? Now run
and tell Kari that I want to speak to him.

    [_Exit the Boy._

_Gudfinna (calling after him through the door)._

And tell him to lift the milk pot from the fire.

_Halla._

If the coals are good, I must ask you to do some baking to-night for
Sunday.

_Gudfinna._

The coals are good enough.    [_Exit._

    (_Halla stands listening. Footsteps are heard in the hall._)

      _Enter Kari._

_Kari._

You wanted to speak to me?

_Halla._

I hear you have made a fine catch. Thank you! I have promised the
bailiff that you shall meet him in a _glima_ at the folds in the autumn.
What do you say to that?

_Kari._

I call that great news, but surely that was not what he came here for
to-night?

_Halla._

No, he had another errand. He spoke ill of you.

_Kari._

What did he say?

_Halla._

There is a man just come from the south who saw you at church last
Sunday. He told Bjørn that you looked like some one by the name of
Eyvind, a thief who had run away. He even thought he recognized the scar
on your forehead.

_Kari (in a low voice, sitting down)._

And did the bailiff believe the man was right?

_Halla._

He said I should tell you that he meant to speak to the judge, and that
then you would flee from here this very night.

_Kari (rising with a loud laugh)._

This is to laugh at. Do you know when they will come to catch the thief!

_Halla (has been looking at him steadily; holds out her hand to him)._

Give me your hand, Kari, and say that you have nothing to fear from any
man.

_Kari (evasively)._

I understand that this seems strange to you, but the man who saw me must
be some one who has a grudge against me from former days, and does this
out of spite.

_Halla._

What do I care about him or about the bailiff! Say that you are
innocent!

_Kari._

So you doubt me, too!

_Halla (aloof)._

I have no right to call you to task.

_Kari (warmly)._

I know of no one in the world whom I would rather trust than you.

_Halla._

You are innocent?

_Kari._

Yes, in this I am innocent.

_Halla._

God be praised! (_Puts her hand on her heart._) If it had been
otherwise, I don't see how I could have borne it.

_Kari._

I shall remember the bailiff for this.

_Halla (in an outburst of joy)._

Let him do his worst! What care we! I am so happy now that I know you
are innocent, I could kiss you for joy. (_Exultantly._) Kari, will you
be my husband?

    (_It is growing dark._)

_Kari (terrified)._

No, Halla, I cannot.

_Halla_ (_stares at him, speechless. Suddenly she goes close to him and
scans his face_). Have you a wife?

_Kari._

No.

_Halla._

I could not believe that your eyes lied this evening. (_Stamps her foot
with anger and shame._) Take yourself away from here! Go! (_Covers her
face with her hands; rocks to and fro._)

_Kari._

My eyes did not lie to-night. (_Stands for a moment in terrible emotion;
then begins to walk up and down._) I knew a man named Eyvind. His father
was poor and had many children. Eyvind was the next to the oldest.
It was said in those parts that thieving ran in the blood of his kin,
though no one could say anything against Eyvind's father. (_Halla looks
up, listening._) Two years ago or more, toward the end of the winter, it
happened, as often before, that there was no food in the house. Eyvind
went to the parson to ask him to help them out with food. He offered to
pay for it with his work in the spring, but the parson refused. It was
late in the evening, dark and snowing. The road to Eyvind's home went
past the parson's sheep-cots. (_As Kari proceeds, he now and then passes
his hand over his forehead._) They loomed before him like a big black
mound. Then the temptation came over him. The herdsman had gone home,
the snow would cover up the tracks, and the parson was rich enough.
I hated him! (_Halla rises._) Late that night, Eyvind came home with a
fine big sheep. The next day, word came from the parson. They had found
his mittens in the sheep-cot. Eyvind was locked up and given ten years
in prison. They thought they could prove that he had more thefts to
answer for-- (_He breaks off suddenly._)

_Halla (breathlessly)._

Kari!

_Kari._

My name is not Kari-- it is Eyvind. I was sentenced for theft. I fled
and lived one year in the hills as an outlaw.

_Halla._

After this I shall never believe in any one. (_Sits down and bursts into
tears._)

_Kari (kneeling)._

Do with me what you will. Drive me out of your house-- now-- this
evening, or give me into the hands of the law, but you must forgive me.
It was our poverty and the snow that made me steal.

_Halla (rising)._

I will not cry. It is stupid to cry. Get up! I am no God that you should
ask my forgiveness.

_Kari (rising to his feet)._

It is lonesome to live a whole winter up there in the hills. That is why
I ventured down here, far from home, and under a new name. Since then I
have gone about like one who walks in his sleep, afraid of the
awakening. Many a time have I made up my mind to tell you the whole
truth, but somehow it seemed to get harder with every day that passed.
I have never understood why it was so before to-night, but now I know
it, and now I can speak of it. Kari has loved you. You are the only
woman he has ever loved, but now Kari is no more, and never has been
anything but the dream of a poor and unhappy man.

_Halla._

Say no more!

_Kari._

He has loved you long, but never until to-night has he seen how
beautiful you are. (_Carried away._) Like a blue mountain rising from
the mist!

_Halla (stepping close to him)._

Close your eyes, Kari, and sleep yet a while. Kiss me!

_Kari (kissing her)._

I will sleep with my eyes open.



ACT II


_A resting-place near one of the large folds into which the sheep are
driven in the autumn, when they are gathered down from the hills.
A grass-grown dell. On the left, a steep heather-covered slope, here and
there in the heather gray, jutting stones. To the right, a low bluff,
where grass, flowers, and juniper bushes grow in the clefts and on the
ledges. Toward the background, the bluff becomes lower and more bushy,
and bending somewhat to the left, it partly shuts off the view into a
hilly, rock-studded landscape with the distant mountains beyond. In the
foreground, at the foot of the bluff, several saddles. The women's
saddles have broad, brass-mounted backs._

_It is a fine autumn day. Gudfinna alone is busy with the luggage._


      _Enter Arngrim carrying a roll of paper under his arm.
      His face is livid and drawn._

_Arngrim._

So you are all alone here.

_Gudfinna._

Indeed I am. I did not want to leave the luggage, and it seemed a pity
to keep the boy from the folds.

_Arngrim._

Is Halla up at the folds?

_Gudfinna._

I don't know where she is now. She is so restless to-day. A while ago
she climbed up on a knoll to see if the last drove was coming down from
the hills. I hardly know whether it's the sheep or Kari she is looking
for.

_Arngrim._

We don't get tired of watching for what we are looking forward to.
I have but one thing to look forward to. (_Sits down on one of the
rocks._)

_Gudfinna._

And what is that, poor fellow?

_Arngrim._

To hear the nails being driven into my coffin. Then I should say like
the man in the story: "Now I'd laugh if I weren't dead."

      _Enter Halla, happy and smiling, wearing a silver girdle
      around her waist._

_Halla._

The last flock is coming, and it is not the smallest. Kari is with it.

_Gudfinna._

Of course he is with it.

_Halla (laughing)._

Yes, of course. (_To Arngrim._) I am glad to see you here.

_Arngrim._

Did you happen to bring anything good from home?

_Halla (smiling)._

You never can tell. (_Searching in one of the saddle-bags, she finds a
blue flask which she hands to Arngrim._) You may keep the bottle.

_Arngrim._

That is just like you. (_Holds the flask up to the light._) There are
juniper berries in it. (_Takes a pull._) It is like drinking sunshine.

_Halla (has moved toward the background and stands gazing)._

What a change in the sheep since spring. Then they were yellow and
dirty, but now they are white as ptarmigans in winter. It always makes
me happy to see a flock of sheep coming down the mountain side.

_Gudfinna._

Kari's shoes must be a sight. He doesn't save his legs, that man.

_Halla._

No, you are right in that. (_Goes to Gudfinna._) But he runs swifter
than any one else.

_Arngrim._

No one can run away from his fate, were he fleeter than the wind.

_Halla (turns to Arngrim)._

Are you sure of that? May not a strong will turn the tide of fate?

_Arngrim._

My fate no one can alter. (_Looks up._) An old song comes to my mind
when I look at you. I cannot remember how it runs, but it is about some
one who had the thoughts of her soul written on her forehead.

_Halla (smiling)._

I feel only the sun shining on my brow.    [_Exit._

_Arngrim._

She deserves to be happy. (_Brings out the roll of paper._) Should you
like to see what I am doing to make the days slip by?

_Gudfinna (goes to him)._

Yes, let me look at it.

_Arngrim (opens the roll, which is seen to contain drawings in bright
colors)._

These are birds from the garden of Eden-- too bad I never heard them
sing!-- and here is a blue flower so sensitive that it closes at the
slightest touch, and here is a small plant from Gethsemane with red
berries lying like drops of blood on the ground.

      _Enter the Boy, running._

_The Boy._

Kari is coming!

_Gudfinna._

We know that.

_The Boy._

I must be off again to help drive the sheep into the fold. (_Leaps with
joy._) What fun to be here! It's most as good as Christmas!    [_Exit._

_Arngrim._

He skips about like a merry little lamb.

_Gudfinna (calling after him)._

Take care the rams don't butt you!

      _Enter Halla._

_Halla._

Now the sheep will soon be at the fold. (_Brushes her hair back from her
forehead._) Aren't you clever enough to know a cure for freckles? I am
so tired of my freckles.

_Arngrim (smiling)._

Perhaps you have a new looking-glass.

_Halla (smiling)._

Perhaps I have.

      _Enter Jon and two other peasants, followed directly by
      two peasant women, Jon's Wife, and her friend with two
      little daughters, eight and nine years old._

_Jon (slightly intoxicated)._

Now a bite of shark's meat would taste first-rate. You didn't happen to
be so thoughtful as to bring some, did you?

_Halla (laughing)._

That is just what I did. (_Looks in the saddle-bags._)

_Jon._

Didn't I tell you so! (_Takes a brandy-flask out of his pocket._) Do you
mind if I bring out my bottle?

_Halla._

Please yourself.

_Jon_ (_sits down. The others follow suit, until only the children
remain standing_). If I didn't have so fine a wife, I should have asked
you to marry me long ago. (_Takes a pull at the flask and hands it to
the one sitting next to him._) Let the bottle go the rounds!

_Halla_ (_to Jon's Wife_). Your husband is happy to-day.

_Jon's Wife._ Yes, he loves everybody to-day.

_First Peasant (hands the flask to Jon)._

Thanks!

_Jon._

Don't think I am forgetting you, Arngrim. (_Hands him the flask._)

_Arngrim._

The blood grows colder as one gets old, and then the warmth of the
bottle feels good.

_Halla_ (_hands Jon a piece of shark's meat_). Help yourself.

_Jon._

Bless you! My mouth waters. (_Takes a knife from his pocket and cuts off
a slice._) It is white as milk and sweet-smelling. I say, shark's meat
and brandy are the best things the Lord ever made-- next to women!
(_Hands the fish to one of the peasants._)

_Halla_ (_finds a piece of sugar-candy and divides it between the
children_). Have the little girls been to the folds before?

_Peasant Woman._

No, this is the first time. I promised them last spring that if they
were good and worked hard I would bring them, and they have surely
earned it. It's past belief how much they can do, no older than they
are.

_Halla._

Did you see the last flock? That was a large one. (_Goes toward the
background._)

_Jon's Wife._ Indeed it was.

_Jon._

My brown bell-wether was the leader of the flock. He generally stays in
the hills till they gather in the sheep for the last time, unless there
are signs of bad weather. (_Gudfinna crosses over to the peasant women
and fingers their clothes. They stand talking together._)

_First Peasant._

I should not wonder if the winter were to come early after so good a
summer.

_Second Peasant._

God knows how many sheep the hills have taken this year! Do you remember
those cold days in the spring? It may be a good many lambs froze to
death.

_First Peasant._

And then those cursed foxes!

_Jon._

The foxes are nothing to the men-- both those down here and those in the
hills.

_Second Peasant._

I don't believe there is anybody living in the hills, at least not in
these parts.

_Jon._

You don't believe it? I tell you, my good man, there are more outlaws
than you think. To my mind, the laws are to blame for it. If I had my
say, all thieves would be strung up.

_Second Peasant._

Well, I look at it in another way. I believe the laws are too strict. It
seems to me it is making too much of the sheep, when a man is locked up
for life because he has stolen two or three of them.

_Jon._

You always have to be of a different mind from anybody else.

    (_Halla comes back and listens._)

_Second Peasant._

I don't know about that, but those who flee to the hills do it from
need. If the laws were milder, I believe there would be no outlaws. What
do you say, Arngrim?

_Arngrim._

If we were all to be judged by our thoughts, the hills would be swarming
with outlaws.

_Halla._

It is too light yet to be talking about thieves. Can't you tell us
something funny?

_Jon's Wife._ Tell about our calf.

_Jon (laughing)._

When he saw the sun for the first time in his life, he fell down on his
tail from fright.

      _Enter Arnes, somewhat intoxicated._

_Jon._

There comes the man who can tell us stories. (_Rises and goes to meet
him._)

_Arnes._

Good day to you all! So you want a story?

_Jon._

You shall have a drink if you tell us a story, but it must be a good
one.

_Arnes._

Hand me the bottle. (_Drinks._) I could tell you some spook stories that
would make your hair stand on end, but they are better told in the
gloaming. (_Laughs._) The girls are less afraid of us men folks when
they hear about spooks.

_Jon (laughing)._

Yes, of two evils men are better than spooks.

_Arnes (sees Halla)._

Now I know what I shall tell you. Hush! Once upon a time there were two
outlaws. What their crime had been I don't know, but they had to flee to
the hills to save their lives. They found a green spot among the
glaciers, hemmed in by huge rocks. There they built their hut, for there
they knew they would be left in peace. But the hills were hankering for
their old loneliness and hated those two, and swore they would drive
them away. First they sent the storms and the frost. There came a winter
night so terrible that the roots of the grass trembled with fear under
the snow, but unknown to those two their love had built an invisible
wall around the hut, and the storm and the snow could not get in. Then
the hills sent hunger. It came to them in their dreams, tempting them
with sweet-smelling hot bread and butter fresh from the churn. It would
have them barter their love--

      _Enter a Farm Hand._

_The Farm Hand._

Is Arnes here by any chance?

_Arnes._

Here I am.

_The Farm Hand._

There is a sheep with earmarks that nobody can make out. Will you come
over and take a look at it?

_Arnes (rising)._

No peace to be had!

_Halla (holding out her hand to Arnes)._

Thanks for the story.    [_Arnes takes Halla's hand. Exit._

_The Farm Hand (to Jon)._

Your brown bell-wether ran away from the men as they were trying to
drive it in.

_Jon (rising)._

That promises a fine fall. (_All the peasants rise._)

_Jon's Wife_ (_to Halla_). We shall see each other later.

_Halla._

So we shall.    [_Exeunt peasants._

_Gudfinna._

They have not been sparing of the shark's meat.    (_Packs it away._)

      _Enter Kari, warm from running, happy and smiling._

_Kari._

Good day to you, Halla! (_Shakes hands with her._)

_Halla (has gone to meet Kari)._

Good day to you, and welcome back!

_Arngrim (rising)._

Now I am so drunk that I can enjoy listening to the bleating of the
sheep. By the way, washing with lukewarm milk is good for freckles.
    [_Exit._

_Halla._

Thanks! (_To Gudfinna._) You may go now, if you like. You have been here
with the luggage long enough.

    [_Exit Gudfinna._

    (_Halla and Kari stand silent until Gudfinna has disappeared.
    Then Kari draws her to him and kisses her._)

_Halla._

I would rather wait for you here than meet you at the fold. I was so
frightened! I thought you had gone and would never come back. (_Takes
his hand and looks at him in loving wonder._) Where do you get your
courage? I can't understand that you have not fled long ago.

_Kari._

I will tell you where I get my courage. (_Kisses her._) I don't know how
the days can be so gloriously long. It seems to me that I have lived
more than the age of man since the first time you kissed me.

_Halla._

You love me!

_Kari (is silent for a moment)._

I love you.

_Halla._

You don't know how much that one word promises me. It means the sunshine
on the hills. It means the streams and lakes. Shall I tell you
something, Kari? Something you don't know?

_Kari._

What could that be?

_Halla._

I am not going to say it just now, but I will tell you something else.
I care a thousand times more for you now than I did three months ago.
Do you know why?

_Kari._

No.

_Halla._

Because you are so brave. You sleep in my arms as calmly as if you had
not a foe in the whole country.

_Kari (smiling)._

I must have borrowed your courage.

_Halla._

It is dear to see you smile. Your hair is like a cloud, and when you
smile it seems to lift from your forehead.

_Kari._

You must not make me out braver than I am. Part of my courage is
recklessness. I close my eyes and let the sun shine on my face.

_Halla._

Do you never think of the future?

_Kari (earnestly)._

I do.

_Halla._

I have blamed myself much these last days. I ought to have sent you away
long ago, but I could not. I had to be sure that you loved me. Last
night I heard the hills calling you, and I called against them with all
my soul. If you had never come back, I would have forgiven you, though
it had broken my heart. (_Exultantly._) And then I saw you coming down
the mountain like a god, driving a white snowslide before you!

_Kari._

Did you think I could have gone without letting you know? I remember
once you had fallen asleep in my arms. The night was light. Your eyes
were closed, but I could see through your eyelids. I saw a little girl
with black hair. (_Fondly stroking her hair._)

_Halla (taking his right hand)._

How well I know this hand! (_Lays it on her heart._) My heart beats with
joy.

_Kari._

I am like the man in the fairy-tale who fell down into a deep well. He
thought he would never again see the sun, but suddenly he stood in a
green meadow. There was a tall castle, and the king's daughter came out
to meet him. Halla, do you understand? If I had not stolen, we two
should never have met.

_Halla._

That is true.

_Kari._

The year I lived in the hills, I would sometimes get into such a rage
that I wanted to give myself a good thrashing. Once I really did it--
I beat myself with a knotted rope.

_Halla._

How you must have suffered!

_Kari._

If anybody had told me in those days that I should ever become a happy
man, I would have laughed at him. Then I believed riches and honors
meant happiness. I used to dream of riding through the parish where I
was born, dressed in fine clothes and with many horses.

_Halla (laughing)._

I did not know you were vain.

_Kari._

Nor am I any more, but I have grown stingy. The minutes are my
gold-pieces. (_Takes her hand._) When I hold your hand in mine, I am
happy. Before I cared for you, I did not see the sun shining, and now
when it rains, all the drops prattle about you.

_Halla._

You do love me!

_Kari._

I seem to be in a church. I hold a torch in my hand and light one taper
after another. For every taper that is lighted, the church grows larger
and more beautiful. But I am a thief. If I am caught I must be buried
alive, and now the church-bells are ringing. I hear the crowd gathering
outside.

_Halla._

You frighten me.

_Kari (taking her face between his hands)._

I must have a long look at your face. If I were to become blind this
moment, I should always remember it. Your soul is in your eyes. When you
look at me, I feel an unseen hand fondling my face. Whenever the sun
shines, I shall see your eyes. It is hard to tell you, but when the sky
grows red to-morrow, I shall be on my way to the hills. I must flee this
very night.

_Halla._

I knew it. (_Sits down._) Tell me how you have planned your flight.

_Kari._

I must be off before the winter sets in, and besides the letter from the
south may be here any day now.

_Halla._

I know all that.

_Kari (sits down)._

When I come home to-night, I shall say that I have seen the tracks of a
flock of sheep farther up in the hills than we usually go to look for
them. I shall ask you for two horses. You won't refuse me them? (_Halla
shakes her head._) I shall say that I must start at once, this very
night, before the tracks disappear. When I don't come back, they will
think I have come across outlaws or have met with an accident.

_Halla._

And where shall you go?

_Kari._

To the mountain plain where the warm springs are. I lived there before I
came to you.

_Halla._

How long will it take you to reach it?

_Kari._

Three days. It is about in the middle of the country.

_Halla._

And there you will build your hut?

_Kari._

No; last time I lived in a lava cave. I had brought with me some tools
that my brother gave me, and I left them there. Something told me that I
might need them again. (_He is silent._)

_Halla (taking his hand)._

You must tell me more, much more. I want to see the place where you will
live (_with a strange smile_), so that I can come and visit you in my
thoughts.

_Kari._

I forget what I have told you and what I have not told you. You may
think that the hills are wild and forbidding, but that is not so at all.
In the summer, when the sun is shining, they are beautiful. The glaciers
lie like white untrodden land in a sea of sand, their lower rim flashing
green and blue in the sunlight. When you come nearer, you see a chain of
jagged sandhills like a dark surf, where the glacier and the sand waste
meet. (_He is silent again. Halla has picked a flower and is pulling its
petals._) Why are you doing that? What are you asking about?

_Halla._

You love me!

_Kari._

Do you need to ask a flower about that? (_Rising._) Are you not the
least bit sorry that we must part?

_Halla (rising)._

Would it make it easier for you, if I were to whine and weep like a
child?

_Kari._

I don't know. (_He is silent._) Yet you need not pity me. I am rich--
I am king of the hills! The fire on my hearth never dies, day or night.
The country is mine, as far as my eyes can reach. Mine are the glaciers
that make the streams! When I get angry, they swell, and the stones
gnash their teeth against the current. And I own a whole lake with a
fleet of ice-ships and a choir of swans.

_Halla._

I never said that I pitied you.

_Kari._

But one thing you must promise me. You must not marry the bailiff.

_Halla._

But, dear man--

_Kari._

If you do, I shall come some night and kill you both, first him and then
you.

_Halla._

Are you really jealous of the bailiff? He hates me.

_Kari._

Why should he be hounding me like a wild beast, if it were not for your
sake? I have never done him any harm.

_Halla._

I promise you that I shall never marry the bailiff. (_Puts her arms
around his neck and tries to draw him to her._) Kiss me, Kari!

_Kari (gently pushing her away)._

My name is not Kari. From this day on my name is Eyvind-- "Eyvind of the
Hills," they call me in the southland, my brother told me.

_Halla._

From my lips you shall never hear any other name than Kari. By that name
I learned to love you. A man who is not loved has no name. (_Takes his
hands._)

_Kari (in a sudden outburst, drawing her to him and kissing her
forehead)._

God bless you, Halla! (_With difficulty mastering his voice._) Now I am
going to the fold. (_Turns away from Halla._)

_Halla (calling)._

Kari! (_Kari turns back._) Must I ask you to marry me a second time?
I thought we two were married.

_Kari._

So we are before God.

_Halla._

So far as I know, it is the custom that when a man moves from one place
to another, he takes his wife with him.

_Kari._

Do you think there is anything in the world I would rather do than live
with you?

_Halla._

Then ask me if I am willing.

_Kari._

Will you be my beloved wife and go with me through all suffering?

_Halla._

I will!

_Kari._

Will you take upon yourself half of my guilt and become an outcast like
me?

_Halla (exultantly)._

I will!

_Kari._

Will you face hunger and cold and all terrors for my sake?

_Halla._

Have you not always known that I would go with you? Could you believe me
so low that I would keep you here with this dread hanging over you, if I
had not meant to go with you? Every night I thought: To-morrow he will
ask if you will go with him.

_Kari._

How beautiful you are! All the days we have had together live in your
face!

_Halla._

Did you believe I could rest satisfied in thinking of you with the
mountains between us? Then you don't know me yet. I will live! I will
sail with you in your white ships!

      _Enter Bjørn._

_Bjørn._

Good day to you, Halla. I looked for you at the fold. It is a long time
since we two neighbors have met.

_Halla (confused)._

Yes, it is a long time.

_Bjørn._

Who sees to it that your sheep are taken out of the fold? Your cots seem
to be standing empty.

_Halla._

Kari attends to that.

_Bjørn._

Then it is time you sent him about his work.

_Kari._

Perhaps the bailiff has come to lend a hand?

_Bjørn (to Halla)._

I should like to have a few words with you.

_Halla._

We were just starting for the fold. Perhaps we could have our talk on
the way up.

_Bjørn._

If it is the same to you, I prefer to stay here. It is a matter of some
weight, which I do not care to discuss in the presence of your overseer
or any one but yourself.

_Halla (to Kari)._

Then you had better go up to the fold.

_Kari._

Don't forget to ask the bailiff if it is true that he has been rubbing
his knee-joints with fat every night the whole summer through.
    [_Exit._

_Bjørn._

He's bold enough, that fellow. It is well we shall soon be rid of him.

_Halla (roused)._

And what was it you wanted to see me about?

_Bjørn._

We were both somewhat angry when we met last. Shall we let it be
forgotten?

_Halla (relieved)._

I thought perhaps you had got your letter from the southland with the
proofs that you had been wrong in your suspicions.

_Bjørn._

Everything in good time. Did you say anything to him?

_Halla._

I told you I wouldn't.

_Bjørn._

I might have known that, since he is still here. Do you think I am
beginning to look old?

_Halla (amazed)._

To me you look as you have always looked. (_Watches him keenly._)

_Bjørn._

I admit you were right in some of the things you said to me when we met
last, but we all have our failings, and since my mother died I have had
no one who dared to speak plainly to me except you.

_Halla._

You may not often have wished to listen to others.

_Bjørn._

Perhaps you are right, but somehow there must be two different souls in
every one of us.

_Halla._

Have you had a good hay crop this summer?

_Bjørn._

Fairly good. At least I have enough for myself. Don't you understand
what I want to say to you, or don't you want to understand?

_Halla._

You said that it was a matter of weight. That is all I know.

_Bjørn._

I am not skilled in fine words. Could you think of becoming my wife?
(_Halla laughs. Bjørn flushes._) Is that so laughable?

_Halla._

You can't be in earnest.

_Bjørn._

In dead earnest. I shall soon be forty-eight years old, but you are not
a child any longer either, and we are of equal standing. If we two marry
and make our farms into one, I think we should have to look outside of
this parish for a finer property.

_Halla._

So we two should marry in order to join our farms?

_Bjørn._

I will not deny that I should like to see the boundary line gone between
the two farms, but that is not the reason why I have made up my mind to
ask you to marry me. It is not good for a man to be alone, and you are
the only woman in this parish whom I could think of taking for a wife.
You are healthy and strong of body, and you are good-looking. What
answer do you give?

_Halla._

I must have some time to think it over. This comes upon me unawares.
Within three days you shall have my answer. Are you satisfied with that?

_Bjørn._

I think it is but natural that you should want some time to make up your
mind, and all the more as we have not always been the best of friends.
Perhaps you will now more readily understand why I did not wish you to
have a thief as overseer of your farm, and I am sorry to say that my
distrust was well founded. (_Pulls from his pocket a letter with a large
seal._) This letter came yesterday.

_Halla (holding out her hand)._

May I see it?

_Bjørn._

It is an official letter, which I do not like to give out of my hands,
but I am not afraid to trust you with it. (_Halla takes the letter;
reads._) I can lend you one of my men to drive your sheep home this
evening, for you will have to do without your overseer. It is lucky that
the judge is here to-day.

_Halla._

I shall keep this letter.

_Bjørn._

I can understand a joke.

_Halla._

Kari has been with me for more than a year. He has been a hard worker
and an able man. I will not have any one lay hands on him so long as he
is in my service. I want to give him a chance to get away. That is what
you yourself advised, three months ago.

_Bjørn._

At that time the case was very different. There was no proof of his
guilt then.

_Halla (putting her hand to her forehead)._

I can't believe yet that he is a thief. (_Hands the letter to Bjørn._)
Bjørn, I beg of you to show me a great favor. You must let this matter
rest, till we get home.

_Bjørn._

In that I cannot serve you.

_Halla._

Perhaps I can do something for you in return.

_Bjørn._

I don't understand how you can pity a felon and a thief.

_Halla._

Nor do I understand it myself, but somehow I do. You have just asked me
if I would be your wife. Surely you will grant me the first thing I ask
of you!

_Bjørn._

One would think you were pleading for your best friend.

_Halla._

I may have cared more for him than I knew myself. If you will let him
get away, I shall have no objection to making our two farms into one.

_Bjørn._

I never thought your overseer would be the means of my getting you for a
wife, but I yield on those terms. Once we are married, you will surely
forget him. But he must be gone from here within twenty-four hours, and
I want you to know that if he ever shows himself in these parts again,
he will have to take his punishment.

_Halla._

You need have no fear that he will ever come back here.

_Bjørn._

Then let us forget all about him. You have saved him from jail for a
time, but he's sure to end there any way. (_Goes to her._) Who would
have thought that you should become my little wife! (_Tries to put his
arm around her waist._)

_Halla (draws back)._

So many things happen that we do not look for.

      _Enter Kari._

_Bjørn._

You are just in time. It will surely please you to hear that your
mistress is to marry me within a short time.

_Kari (turning to Halla)._

What does this mean?

_Bjørn (laughing)._

You hadn't expected this. (_Goes to Halla._) My sweetheart might give me
a kiss.

_Halla (warding him off)._

No, no!

_Kari_ (_grasping Bjørn's arm_). That man lies! She is mine. (_To
Halla._) If you two get married to-morrow, still you are mine.

_Bjørn._

Has my brother's wife become a harlot?    [_Exit._

_Halla._

What have you done, Kari? It was to save you I promised to be his wife.
I hoped to get a chance to speak to you. He has the letter and is going
to give you up to the judge to-day.

_Kari._

I could not bear that man to touch you.

_Halla._

You must run for the horses and flee!

_Kari._

That would be madness. The others have just as good horses. We must take
what comes. I shall deny everything.

_Halla._

What good would that do? It is impossible to mistake the description.
I have read it myself.

_Kari._

Did you really mean to marry the bailiff to save my life?

_Halla._

I lied to him, so that I could flee with you. I hate him.

_Kari._

I love you, Halla.

_Halla (in rising fear)._

What shall we do? (_Wrings her hands._) It is all my fault for holding
you back. (_On the point of weeping._) I am an unhappy woman.

_Kari._

You must not cry. Even if I faced the death warrant, I should not be
sorry that I stayed. (_Kisses her hands._) These summer days we have had
together-- in all eternity no one can take them from us.

_Halla (withdraws her hands excitedly)._

Don't you know of any way? Say that the bailiff is your enemy and has
had the letter framed up.

_Kari._

You know yourself that it would be no use. (_Goes to her._) I believe it
is God's will that you should not flee with me. I have told you how
beautiful it can be in the hills, but all the terrors I have not told
you of-- the sand-storms, when the whole plain seems to be on fire, the
nights as long as a whole winter, and the hunger stealing close to you
like an evil mist. You might have come to hate me.

_Halla._

I will hear nothing of all that. (_Under her breath in terror._) They
are coming!

      _Enter Bjørn and the District Judge, followed by a crowd of
      peasants and farm hands. Others come in as the action proceeds._

_Bjørn (pointing)._

There stands the man.

_The Judge (goes to Kari)._

You say your name is Kari. (_Shows the letter._) According to this
letter, your name is Eyvind, and you are an escaped thief.

_Kari._

That is a lie.

_Bjørn._

Read the letter.

    (_The Judge gives him a sharp look. He opens the letter and
    reads to himself, now and then raising his eyes from the letter
    to Kari's face._)

_A Peasant (in a low voice)._

What does the judge say?

_Bjørn._

In the early spring, a man came here who knew him (_pointing_) as an
escaped thief. I wrote to have the case looked up, and yesterday I got
the answer.

_The Judge._

The description fits you. It is my duty under the law to take you into
custody.

    (_Murmuring among the peasants._)

_First Peasant._

I never should have believed it.

_Kari._

It is the bailiff to whom this letter was sent. May I be allowed to ask
where it came from?

_Bjørn._

From the southland where you were born.

_Kari._

I was born in the east and have never been south.

_Bjørn._

Will the judge look at the seal?

_The Judge._

The seal is correct. (_To Halla._) He is in your service. Have you found
this man to be a thief?

_Halla._

No. He has shown himself a trustworthy and an able man. (_To the
people._) Don't you believe, as I do, that Kari is innocent?

_The Crowd (murmuring)._

Yes, yes!

_The Judge._

I cannot judge this case. I must send him to the district where Eyvind's
home is. (_To Halla._) Can you vouch for him a few days? At present I
cannot well spare two men for the journey.

_Halla._

I am not afraid to do that.

_Bjørn._

It seems to me unwise to set a woman to watch a thief. If the judge
wishes it, I will take him into safe-keeping myself.

_Halla._

Does the bailiff think he can give counsel to the judge? I offer my farm
as surety for Kari.

_The Judge (interrupting Bjørn, who is about to reply)._

Silence! (_To Halla._) Then you are responsible.    [_Exit._

_Bjørn._

I must say that the former judge was not wont to delay the law.

_Halla (to the peasants)._

You came here to listen to false charges, but you shall have a better
pastime. You shall see the bailiff himself play at _glima_ with the man
he calls thief.

_Bjørn._

You must be crazy! I won't touch him.

_Halla._

My dear brother-in-law made me a promise last spring that he would
wrestle with Kari here at the folds. It was a wager, and now he is
backing out of it. What do you say to that?

_Bjørn._

An honest man does not play with a thief.

_Halla._

He is no more thief than you are. Should you be a thief, because I said
so? (_To the people._) He is only too glad to get out of the _glima_.
He is a coward! He is a coward!

    (_Loud or suppressed laughter all around._)

_Bjørn._

Never before has Bjørn Bergsteinsson been called a coward. (_Takes off
his coat._)

    (_Kari throws off his coat. The crowd draws back, leaving an
    open space. The "glima" begins. Bjørn pushes Kari out to the
    back, and the people follow. The heads of the wrestlers are
    seen; then they disappear to the left. A moment of silence,
    then a sudden outcry._)

_All._

Kari has won! Kari has won! (_Silence again._) Bjørn is hurt!
    [_Exeunt some of the crowd._

_Kari._

I think he has had enough. (_Goes to Halla._)

_A Peasant._

Bjørn had his leg broken. We must help him.

_Jon._

I told them to look out for the rocks.

_Halla._

It was the bailiff who drew Kari out on the rocks.

    [_Exeunt the rest of the peasants._

_Bjørn's voice is heard, threatening._ You shall pay me back for this,
Halla!

_Arnes._

I am glad he got it.

_Arngrim._

"Hard upon hard," said the old woman; she sat down on a stone.

_The Boy (goes to Kari, almost weeping)._

You are not a thief!

_Kari (patting him on the head)._

No, no!

_Halla (to Arnes)._

Will you do me the favor to see that my sheep are driven home to-night?
I don't want Kari to stay here any longer.

_Arnes._

I will do it gladly. (_To Kari._) I meant to warn you against what has
overtaken you now.

_Kari._

I know it. You meant well.

_The Boy._

May I go home with Kari?

_Halla._

No, you must stay here and help Arnes. I will go home with Kari myself.
(_Laughs._) You know I must watch my prisoner. You may bring the horses,
the black and the sorrel.

    [_Exit the Boy._

_Gudfinna._

Why all this hurry?

_Halla (goes to her)._

You always had a liking for the little box where my husband kept his
money. When we get home, I want you to have that box and all that is in
it.

_Gudfinna._

But you keep your own money there!

_Halla._

Not all. I meant to buy quite a number of sheep here to-day.

_Gudfinna (on her way out)._

I must be getting old. I don't understand anything any more.

_Halla._

You need not tell them up at the folds that I am going home.

_Gudfinna_ (_taking Halla's hand_). God bless you! (_Her voice breaks._)
    [_Exit._

_Arnes (to Arngrim)._

We had better be off, too.

_Arngrim (goes to Kari)._

If you should happen to ride astray, take care you don't lose her in the
mist.

    [_Exeunt._

_Kari (to Halla)._

What do you mean by riding home now?

_Halla._

Thank God, we have good horses! The folks won't get home with the sheep
before nightfall, and they will not begin to look for us until
to-morrow. By that time we shall have a good start.

_Kari._

You must not flee with me, Halla. You don't know the life you are going
to.

_Halla._

You are a great child. Don't you think that I have weighed it all?
(_Smiles._) If you won't let me come and live with you, I will marry the
bailiff.

_Kari (kneeling before her)._

Halla!

_Halla (stands for a moment in silence; takes a long breath)._

To-night we two shall ride alone in the hills!



ACT III


_A small grass-grown plot. In the foreground, to the right, a fantastic
lava formation, a hollow cone five yards in height and three yards in
circumference, once an enormous lava bubble produced by gases in the
liquid lava. In course of time, the roof has crumbled, also the nearest
wall. The farther wall is still standing, but there is a hole in it,
through which the sky can be seen. Farther back and somewhat to the
left, the wall of a small hut is seen, though partly hidden by the lava
formation. The hut is built of stone, the walls of small stones chinked
with sod, the roof of large lava slabs. To the left, a deep gorge, the
farther wall of which is so much higher than the one near by that it
completely shuts off the view to the left. At the bottom of the gorge,
a stream. Farther up, the gorge makes a turn to the left, and here the
upper part of a waterfall is seen. Behind this, the glacier. On the
grass plot is a hearth with a smouldering fire. Some rocks covered with
skins serve as seats. From the gorge comes the murmuring sound of the
waterfall._

_The stage is empty. A horn is heard, first a short call, then a
longer._


      _Enter Kari and Arnes. They are weather-beaten, bareheaded,
      dressed in knitted jerkins and knitted knee-breeches. Their
      feet are bare in their shoes. Both have ram's horns hanging at
      their side. Kari carries a swan, Arnes a bunch of ptarmigans,
      some faggots, and a few tufts of bearberry._

_Kari (looking into the hut)._

Halla! No, she is not here.

_Arnes._

She may have gone for water.

_Kari (lays down the swan)._

It is quite heavy.

_Arnes._

You might have let me carry it. I had not tired myself with running.

_Kari._

As I had caught it, I wanted to carry it. (_Smiles._) The old pride, you
see.

_Arnes._

The honor would have been yours just the same.

_Kari._

This is the first swan this fall. (_Stroking it fondly._) I am glad the
feathers didn't get blood-stained.

_Arnes._

It would be lonesome up here if we were only two.

_Kari._

Indeed it would, but you have tried the loneliness before. Was it not
two years you had been alone before you met us?

_Arnes._

Two and a half.

_Kari (pleased)._

Do you know what we'll do? We'll hide the swan and say that we've come
home empty-handed. (_Takes the swan._) Hand me the ptarmigans. (_Hides
them behind the hut._) Now I wish Halla would come soon. (_Walks to the
back and blows his horn._)

_Halla (is heard answering)._

Hello!

_Kari._

Here she comes.

_Arnes._

You are a happy mortal.

_Kari._

Yes, I am happy, and it is good to be here. We are free. We have enough
to eat. We have sunshine, water, and shelter. What more do you want?
(_Arnes is silent._) I know you are brooding over something you don't
want to tell me. You seem more gloomy every day. Are you longing to get
away from here?

_Arnes._

Don't let us talk about such things to-day.

_Kari._

Perhaps it would do you good to unburden yourself to me or, better
still, to Halla. She is wiser than I am, and she cares a good deal for
you, I tell you.

_Arnes._

There are not many like Halla.

_Kari (hastily)._

We won't tell Halla about the mist. It might frighten her.

_Arnes._

I'll hold my peace.

      _Enter Halla, carrying a pail of water. The pail is of
      plaited willow twigs chinked with clay. With the other hand
      she leads a little girl about three years old. Halla is
      dressed in a white jerkin and black skirt, both of knitted
      wool. She wears her silver girdle around her waist. The
      child has on white knitted clothes. They are bare-headed,
      and their foot-wear is the same as that worn by the men._

_Halla._

Did you have good luck to-day?

_Kari (dolefully)._

We have caught nothing but trouble and weariness. The ptarmigans made
themselves scarce to-day. We saw a flock of six, but they flew away
before we could get our snares out.

_Halla (to Arnes)._

Is it true, what he says?

_Arnes._

It's true enough. We saw six ptarmigans, but they got away from us.

_Halla._

I am sorry. We must hope for better luck next time.

_Kari (laughing)._

I fooled you that time! (_Runs toward the hut._) Look here! Five big,
fat ptarmigans!

_Halla._

Well, well!

_Kari (holding up the swan)._

And that's all.

_Halla._

What a lovely surprise! How did you catch it?

_Kari._

I ran it down.

_Arnes._

I don't believe there are many who can beat him at that. I know I can't.

_Tota._

May Tota pat it?

_Halla._

Tota may do anything she wants to. I should like to make you a jacket of
swan's down.

_Kari (cuts off the feet of the swan)._

You would like these, wouldn't you?

_Tota._

Yes.

_Kari._

Some day when I have time I will skin them and make little bags for you
to keep your pebbles in.

_Halla._

You've got lovely playthings there! (_Squats down on the ground._) Where
are mother's eyes? (_Hiding her eyes with the swan's feet._)

_Tota (takes them away from her eyes)._

Here!

_Halla (rising)._

Did you eat all your food?

_Kari._

Every bite.

_Halla._

Then you can't be hungry.

_Kari._

No.

_Halla._

And it is too early for the evening meal, but I can make you some tea.

_Kari._

Yes, do. (_To Arnes._) Let us carry the swan to the cave.    [_Exeunt
Kari and Arnes._

_Halla._

Now Tota must be tied, so the waterfall can't take her, while mother is
making tea. (_Takes a rope that is fastened to a rock and ties it around
Tota's waist. Brings some of her playthings._) Here are all your horses.
(_Puts a kettle of water over the fire; places some earthenware cups on
the rocks by the hearth; takes a handful of dried herbs from a bag,
rinses them in cold water, and portions them out in the cups. The
faggots Arnes has brought, she throws on the fire. As she works, she
sings._)

  Have you seen a brave young lad?
  'Tis my friend,
  Dearest friend;
  'Mongst all men in byrnie clad
  The bonniest is he.
  I have smiled my teeth all white and shining,
  I have smiled my teeth all white and shining with glee.

  Have you heard his voice's call,
  Call of love,
  Song of love?
  O'er my heart the sound did fall
  And hushed its quick desire.
  He has kissed my lips all red and glowing,
  He has kissed my lips all red and glowing as fire.

There! Now we must get the water to boil. (_Picks up the tufts of
bearberry and goes to Tota._) See what Arnes brought you!

_Tota._

They are berries.

_Halla._

Yes, but you must not eat them or you will get a pain in your little
stomach. (_Rises and finds a long, stiff straw._) Now I'll show you what
you can do. (_Threading the berries on the straw, she counts._) One,
two-- four-- six, seven-- so many years your father and mother have been
in the hills. (_Strokes Tota's hair._) When you are sixteen, we shall
have lived here for twenty years, and then we shall be free again.
On that day, Tota shall wear snow-white clothes and shoes of colored
leather, and mother will clasp her silver girdle around your waist. And
when we come down to the lowlands, the first one we meet is a young man
with silver buttons in his coat. He stops and turns his horse and stands
looking after you ever so long. Then your mother has grown old and
wrinkled, and her hair is almost as white as snow. Your father, too, has
grown old. But you are straight as a silver-weed, and when you run, you
lift your feet high!

      _Enter Kari and Arnes._

_Kari (laughing)._

Ah, now it's steaming. I nearly fell headlong into the cave, when we
lifted the cover from the entrance.

_Halla._

Did you? (_Gives the straw to Tota._) Now you can go on by yourself.
(_Rises._) Is there any need of closing the cave every time? When it's
not raining, it might be left open.

_Kari._

No harm in being careful. If they should come upon us suddenly, we
surely should not have time to close the entrance, and they would find
the cave and destroy all our stores, as they did five years ago. Do you
remember when we came back to the old place and found nothing but
ashes?-- and winter setting in. Not a single piece of mutton did they
leave us.

_Halla._

I don't easily forget.

_Kari._

Whenever I think of it, I feel like doing something wicked. After all,
we are human too.

_Halla (laughing coldly)._

We're only the foxes who take their sheep.

_Kari (to Arnes)._

How did you hide your stores when you were alone?

_Arnes._

I had many hiding-places. Once I stole some twenty-eight pounds of
butter. I stuffed it down into a fissure in a rock.

_Kari._

That was pretty shrewd.

    (_They are silent._)

_Halla._

Did you have a clear outlook from the mountain this afternoon?

_Kari._

Yes. There was a little mist far to the southward.

_Halla._

It was from the south that the cloud came in my dream.

_Kari._

You can never forget about that dream.

_Halla._

I counted fourteen men who came riding out of the cloud. (_Silent for a
moment._) You are quite sure the two men whose tracks you saw a month
ago did not get on our trail?

_Kari._

Quite sure. If they had, they would have come closer.

_Halla._

Just think if they had seen smoke and told about it down in the parish!

_Kari._

They have done nothing of the kind; for if they had, they would have
been up here with many men long ago. Ah, the water is boiling.

    (_Halla lifts the kettle from the fire and pours water over
    the herbs._)

_Kari._

Your tea will soon be giving out.

_Halla._

Yes, I must take a day and gather enough for the winter. I will go down
to the Sun Valley. Nowhere else are the herbs so fine.

    (_They drink their tea._)

_Kari._

Don't forget to lay in a store of herbs for your salve. You know how
troublesome a little scratch can be, when the cold gets into it. You
kept the honey I found?

_Halla._

I did.

_Kari._

That is good for wounds, too. And you must gather cotton grass for lamp
wicks. (_Goes to Tota and gives her tea._) Tota must have a taste, too.

_Arnes (has been looking at Halla)._

Your hair was quite black before, but now there has come a sheen of red
into it.

_Kari._

I have not noticed it, but your freckles are all gone, I have seen that.
(_Patting her cheek._) Are you going to give us more tea?

_Halla._

As much as you want.

_Kari_ (_rises and goes into the hut; returns with three wooden pipes
and two pouches, one large and one small._) You need not be saving of
the leaves, but the tobacco I shall have to dole out to you.

    (_They fill their pipes._)

_Halla (smiling)._

It was foolish of you to teach me to smoke.

_Kari._

Why shouldn't you have that boon as well as I? (_Shakes his bag._) You
need not be shy, I have more in the cave, and when winter sets in and
the snow is fit for skiing, we'll take Arnes down to my brother's. He
promised to lay in good stores of tobacco and salt, and I will pay him
with wool, as I did last time.

_Halla._

If only you don't end by being caught on one of those journeys!

_Kari._

Never! (_They sit smoking in silence._) Now I am just in the mood to
listen to a good story. Have you one to tell us?

_Arnes (rising)._

No, I have not. (_Goes toward the gorge._)

_Kari._

It does not matter if you have told it before.

_Halla._

Arnes may be saving them for the winter.

_Kari (rises; lays down his pipe)._

Do you know what you should do? Have a good talk with Arnes. I believe
he is getting restless and thinks of leaving us.

_Halla._

I hope not.

_Kari._

I will go and take a bath. You can speak better to him alone, and I need
to wash off the sweat. (_Sings on his way out._)

  Far in the hills I wandered; softly shone the summer night,
  And the sun had ne'er a thought of sleeping.
  Now will I bring my sweetheart dear the hidden treasure bright,
  For faithfully my vows I would be keeping.
  Heigh, ho!
  New and fine my stockings are, new and fine my shoes,
  And not a care in all the world to plague me!

_Halla (sits silent)._

Is time hanging heavy on you up here?

_Arnes (goes to her)._

No, that is only something Kari has got into his head, because I am not
always merry.

_Halla (smiling)._

Once you boasted of being kin to the trolls.

_Arnes._

So I am. (_Halla rises; blows a great puff of smoke into his face;
laughs. Arnes takes hold of her wrists._) Once there were two trolls.
They quarrelled and turned each other into stone. One had to stand where
all the birds dropped their filth, and the other had to stand where all
the winds blew. Which would you rather be?

_Halla (tears herself away)._

I have not been turned to stone yet. (_Laughs._) I thought you had
forgotten all your old stories.

_Arnes._

You are strong.

_Halla (sits down on the grass, leaning on her arm)._

Can you foretell things from the clouds?

_Arnes._

Yes, about the weather.

_Halla._

I don't mean that.

_Arnes (sits down beside her)._

When I was a child, I used to sail my viking ships on the clouds. Do you
want me to foretell your fate?

_Halla._

You just said that you could not.

_Arnes._

The clouds tell nothing about our lives. They are only the dreamlands of
earth. Will you let me see your arm?

_Halla._

Why?

_Arnes (lifts her arm)._

You think these lines on your arm are nothing but marks drawn by heather
and grass, but if I knew enough, I could read your whole fate in them.
Something, perhaps, I can see. Who would believe that these slender arms
could be so strong.

_Halla (laughing)._

And what stands written there?

_Arnes._

You must sit still. Here is a deep, narrow line across your arm, that
means sorrow. And there is a big fire. (_Stroking her arm with the tips
of his fingers._) I can see the tongues of flame. That means that you
are loved.

    (_Kisses her arm._)

_Halla (stands up; laughs)._

Did you burn yourself?

_Arnes._

I should like to read your fate all day long.

_Halla._

Then you might tell me things I did not care to hear. But I must get to
work.

    (_Halla goes into the hut. Arnes looks after her. She comes out
    bringing wool, a spindle, and a sheep's skin._)

_Halla._

If you are not too tired after the hunt, this skin can stand a little
more.

_Arnes._

Give it to me. (_Takes a large ring made of a ram's horn. From the ring
hangs a loop of rope, in which he puts his foot. He draws the skin
through the ring and keeps pulling it back and forth. Halla sits down,
turning her spindle. They are silent._)

_Halla._

It is queer about the sound of the waterfall. Most of the time I don't
hear it at all, but if it were to stop, I should miss it. Is it the same
with you?

_Arnes._

Yes.

_Halla._

At first I was almost afraid of it. Then I began to love it, and now I
should only miss it if it were not there any more. We mortals are
strange.

    (_They are silent again._)

_Arnes._

Can you tell me why some people should be happier than others?

_Halla._

No, that I cannot.

_Arnes._

Kari has been happy for seven years.

_Halla._

Are you sure of that?

_Arnes._

Why should he not be happy? He has a wife and child.

_Halla._

Was there no one down your way whom you could bring with you up here?

_Arnes._

Who do you think would become an outlaw for my sake?

_Halla._

Wouldn't you dare to carry off a woman? I should try my best to be good
to her.

_Arnes._

Do you think Kari would have dared to carry you off against your will?

_Halla._

Ask him.

_Arnes._

Why does he not show it, if he cares so much for you? He forgets about
helping you with firewood and carrying water, and if the meat is not
cooked the way he likes it, he scolds you. One might think you were his
servant girl.

_Halla._

Don't let that worry you.

_Arnes._

And he can't even see the color of your hair.

_Halla._

Do you bear a grudge against Kari, because he caught the swan?

_Arnes._

You had house and home and a good name, and you gave it all up for his
sake. He ought to keep that in mind more than he does.

_Halla._

I don't want Kari to be offering up thanks like a meek bondsman.
Besides, I have done nothing for him. I did it all for myself.

_Arnes._

He does not even bother to curry the skins for your bedding. If you did
not have me, you would have to do it yourself.

_Halla (stands up)._

I don't want your help. (_Takes hold of the skin._) Let go!

_Arnes (gives it up reluctantly)._

Are you angry?

_Halla_ (_takes the skin out of the horn-ring and throws it into the
hut_). You are not so sorely needed as you think you are. (_Sits down
again to her work._)

_Arnes._

I did not mean that. It makes me happy when I can do some little thing
for you. Won't you let me finish it?

_Halla._

You shall not touch it.

_Arnes (stands for a moment, puzzled)._

Will you not forgive me what I said? I cannot bear to have you angry
with me.

_Halla._

I am not angry.

_Arnes._

When you were ill, I once brought you some green leaves that had come up
through the snow. Then you gave me a kiss.

_Halla._

Did I? (_Smiles; kisses him lightly on the cheek._) Have you peace in
your soul now?

_Arnes._

I don't know. I believe I shall never have peace in my soul any more.

    (_They are silent._)

_Halla._

You were good to me the time I was ill.

_Arnes._

I am not good to anybody. I am wicked.

_Halla._

You are not.

_Arnes._

Even with you I sometimes feel that I could hurt you.

_Halla._

We can all be ugly when we are tired and hungry.

_Arnes._

Will you let me kiss your mouth? Just once?

_Halla (rising)._

No.

_Arnes._

Your lips will suffer no harm from it. (_Takes hold of her shoulders and
tries to draw her to him._)

_Halla (tears herself away from him)._

Have you gone mad?

_Arnes._

You have been true to Kari for seven years now. It is time you tired of
it.

_Halla._

Now your face looks like the bailiff's when he called me a harlot.
(_Gives him a box on the ear._)

_Arnes (furiously)._

I know you better than you think. You are so pure! You have never done
an evil deed!

_Halla._

What do you mean?

_Arnes._

Kari is more open-mouthed than you think. You have had a child before
this one.

    (_Halla shields her face with her hands as though warding off
    a blow. Arnes sits silent._)

_Halla._

Why don't you say that I killed my child? That is what you meant to say.
You know I did it.

_Arnes._

My cursed mouth.

_Halla._

You judge me. How can you? You don't know what it means to bring a life
into the world. It grows heavier day by day like the snow of winter.
If we had had spring and sunshine! But the times were hard and food was
scarce. I did a good deed when I laid my child out in the cold. Far less
suffering that than life!

_Arnes._

I do not judge what you did.

_Halla._

No, you thought I was an angel who was longing to be your harlot. You
can go with a lighted candle into my soul and search it. You will find
no remorse there. What could we have done with a child, if we had been
forced to flee? Should we have left it with strangers? And how do you
think it would have fared? A child of felons, scorned by all!

_Arnes_ (_broken-hearted_). I did not know that my words would hurt you
so much.

_Halla._

Do you think I did it with a light heart? I have given birth to two
children, and cruel was the pain, but I would rather bear ten children
than live that night over again. When I had carried my child out into
the cold, my mind gave way. In my ravings, I thought the child lay by my
side, and above us was a flock of birds-- pitch black. I bent over it to
shield it, and the birds pecked into my back, into my lungs they pecked.
(_Stops short from emotion._)

_Arnes._

Would I were dead!

_Halla (calmer)._

I wished for the death of that child long before it was born. (_Goes to
Tota._) But this my little springtime child I have never wished ill. The
first time I felt her life, it seemed a token of forgiveness that I was
allowed to become a mother again, and when she came into the world, the
sun was shining, and the sky was blue and warm. (_Kisses her._)

_Arnes._

My tongue got the better of me. (_Puts his hand on his heart._) There is
a devil dwelling in me. (_Stands motionless._) I love you.

_Halla (turns toward him)._

Have you not done hurting me yet?

_Arnes (crushed)._

No matter what I say, you think I mean ill.

_Halla._

I shall not speak to you again. (_Sits down to her work._)

_Arnes._

Nor will you have to listen to me any more. I am going down to the
lowlands, and there they can do with me what they like.

_Halla._

If you tell them of our hiding-place, they may let you off more easily.

_Arnes._

Even that you believe I could do!

_Halla (rising)._

If you cared for me as much as you say, you would be good to me instead
of bad.

_Arnes._

Love has made you good and me bad. (_He is silent._) Do you remember the
time Kari and I went up the glacier, and he fell down into a crack? He
told you I had been so frightened that I shook all over. It was not for
his life I feared; I feared my own thoughts.

_Halla (terrified by a dawning apprehension)._

What do you mean?

_Arnes._

I have often wished Kari dead.

_Halla._

It is not true!

_Arnes._

It is. Do you understand now that I must go away from here? I no longer
dare to live with you two, and neither do I dare to live alone.

_Halla._

I wish you had never crossed our path.

_Arnes (following up his own thoughts)._

If Kari had not been so trusting as he is, I don't know what I might not
have done; but he had such faith in me. You don't know all the words the
Tempter can whisper in one's ear. I thought Kari had been happy so long
that it would be only fair if he had to die now. It seemed to me that
you and I were more akin in our souls, that we had more of the wilds in
us. I felt it was he alone that stood between us two.

_Halla._

I forbid you to say another word. All your thoughts are lies. If Kari
had died, I should have followed him. You would have had my corpse, not
me. And if I had learned that you were the cause of his death, I should
have killed you while you were asleep. I have given my all to my
husband, even my conscience. I can go on living, even if he should not
always care so much for me, but when I no longer love him, then I die.

_Arnes._

I am glad you love your husband. I don't know whether it is because I
have unburdened myself of all my evil thoughts, or whether it is because
I have made up my mind to give myself up and serve my time, but I feel a
peace within me that I have not known for long. To-morrow I shall go
away from here and never come back. I shall tell Kari that I mean to
take a short trip. (_Goes to Halla._) Will you do the last thing I ask
of you in this life-- never to let him know the truth?

_Halla._

I can make you no promise.

_Arnes._

Then I will bid you good-bye while we are alone. I shall cross the lava
strip and sit down where I can look out over the sand waste. You may
tell Kari that I shall be back in an hour. (_Holding out his hand._) Is
there no hope that you can ever think of me without bitterness when I am
gone?

_Halla (takes his hand)._

Good-bye, Arnes.

_Arnes._

Good-bye, Halla. (_Walks a few steps; stops._) When I am sitting within
prison walls, I shall remember you as the most beautiful thing I have
ever seen.    [_Exit._

_Halla (stands looking after him; then goes to Tota)._

What a good, quiet little girl you are! Getting sleepy? (_Finds a small
skin, which she spreads on the ground._) Now mother will sing you to
sleep, as she did in the old times. (_Unfastens the rope._) Shall I,
Tota?

_Tota._

Yes.

_Halla (sits down and takes her on her lap)._

Then you must close your eyes. (_Sits silent, then hums as she rocks the
child._)

  Sweetly sleep, my dear young love,
  Outside rain is falling.
  Mother safely away will stow
  Horse and sheep and swan and dove.
  Then we'll rest, we two, for night is calling.

  Darkness spreads o'er many a woe,
  Sore hearts, broken pledges.
  Meadows green laid waste I saw,
  Scythe of sand the field did mow,
  Death calls from the glacier's cruel ledges.

Are you asleep? (_She rises slowly, lays the child on the skin, and
covers her up, then sits down to her work._)

      _Enter Kari, his hair wet from the bath._

_Kari._

Do you know what I have a mind to do?

_Halla._

You must not speak too loud. Tota is asleep. (_Kari goes to the left._)
Where are you going?

_Kari._

I'll be right back. (_Disappears down the gorge. A moment later he comes
into view again._) Some day when I feel good and strong I have a mind to
try to swim against the current all the way into the inner ravine. From
here I should look like a dwarf down there.

_Halla (rising)._

Arnes went out on the sands. He will be back in about an hour. He has
made up his mind to start on a trip to the southland to-morrow.

_Kari._

I knew he was longing to get away from here. I only hope he will not
come to harm!

_Halla (goes to him)._

If he should never come back, we two should be alone, as we were in the
old days. (_Takes his hands._) Do you care a little for me yet?

_Kari._

You know I do.

_Halla._

I feel that I need to hear you say it.

_Kari (holding her hands)._

And I show it far too seldom. I forget. You must tell me when there is
anything you want me to do. (_Kisses her; releases her hands._) Are you
sorry that Arnes is going?

_Halla._

You never saw the queer little brook I found once. It welled out from a
moss-covered hillock and ran in a ring. Where it flowed the banks were
green, but elsewhere there was nothing but sand. Its whole course was no
longer than what I could walk in thirty steps. It seems to me that life
is like that stream.

      _Enter Arnes, running._

_Arnes (in a whisper)._

They're coming!

_Kari (terrified)._

What?

_Halla (goes to Arnes)._

Are you trying to scare us?

_Arnes._

They'll be here in a minute. I counted nine. You must flee at once!
There's no time to lose.

_Halla._

I won't run away from Tota.

_Kari._

We stand no chance, three against nine. You must leave her with them.
There they are! For God's sake, run!

    (_Halla is on the point of running._)

_Bjørn's voice_ (_full of bitter malice_). Now catch the foxes!

_Halla (startled, stops)._

It's Bjørn! (_A terrible expression as of madness darkens her features.
She seizes Tota; her voice is harsh and unnatural._) The cub he shall
not have!

_Tota (frightened and sleepy)._

Mother!

_Halla (runs sobbing to the gorge)._

Tota! Tota! Tota! (_Disappears._)

_Kari (who has remained inert and dumb with terror runs after)._

What are you doing?

    (_From the gorge is heard the scream of a child, which is
    suddenly silenced. Halla comes up again._)

_Kari._

Halla! Halla!

_Bjørn's voice_ (_very near_). Make haste!

_Halla (shrieks to him)._

Devil!

      _Enter Bjørn._

_Bjørn (grabbing Halla)._

Now I've got you!

    (_Kari seizes his knife and stabs Bjørn through the heart.
    Bjørn falls dead. Kari and Halla flee. Bjørn's men enter,
    stand as though paralyzed at the sight of the slain man.
    Arnes goes slowly up to them._)



ACT IV


_A small hut in the hills. Two large stones covered with skins serve as
seats. The low bedstead is also covered with skins. On the wall hang
some poor, clumsy tools. In the slanting roof, a small window is
darkened with snow. On the hearth, a low fire. Outside, a snowstorm. Now
and then, snow comes whirling down the smoke-hole._

_Kari is pacing to and fro, beating his arms. Halla sits silent. They
are both dressed in skins._


_Halla._

Are you cold?

_Kari._

I don't know. (_Halla rises and puts some faggots on the fire. Kari
takes a stick from the wall; counts._) I needn't count the notches. This
is the seventh day the snowstorm is raging without a break, and it is
past Easter. How long do you think it can keep on?

_Halla._

It's no use asking me about it.

_Kari (replaces the stick in the wall)._

If the walls were not frozen so hard, the storm would have torn down the
hut long ago.

_Halla._

It is bound to stop sometime.

_Kari._

You think so? It's four years now since that terrible summer when the
sun was red and dim from morning till night. (_In secret awe._) There
may come a summer when the sun does not rise at all.

_Halla._

It was the ashes that made the sun look so red that summer.

_Kari._

I could well live a whole summer without the sun, if I only had food.
(_Picks up a big knife._) This fellow has not tasted meat in a whole
eternity. (_A rapturous ring comes into his voice._) I remember a ram I
once killed; he was so fat he could hardly walk. (_Plants himself in
front of Halla._) If he stood there now, bodily, should you have
strength enough to hold his feet for me?

_Halla._

I think I should.

_Kari._

We should have to take care not to be too greedy. If we could only hold
back the first two days, we might eat as much as we wanted afterward.
(_His mouth waters; he swallows saliva._) You have seen a butchered
sheep hung up to dry in the wind; its flesh is as tender as a young
girl's. I feel as though I could fondle it; I could bite it.

_Halla._

We have promised each other not to speak of food.

_Kari._

And how do you think the heart would taste smoking hot from the fire?
I could swallow it in one mouthful. I should feel as if I had eaten,
if I could only smell warm meat.

_Halla._

You will make me sick if you don't stop talking about food. Don't you
think I am just as hungry as you are? And I hold my peace.

_Kari._

Yes, you hold your peace. (_Puts down the knife._) If I did not see your
eyes, I should think you were dead, and yet you are human and living
like myself. Are you not? (_Halla is silent._) Or perhaps you are a
heathen image? Must I kneel down before you and pray for fine weather?
Shall I build a fire before you and stain your feet with blood? What do
you want?

_Halla._

I want to be left in peace.

_Kari._

You ought to be a tree, then you could wither in peace. Why don't you
cry out like every living thing that suffers. You don't know how your
calmness racks me. Even the trees cry and moan in the autumn gales--
they wail!

_Halla._

I should wail too, if there was any one that could hear me.

_Kari._

I don't care whether anybody hears my screams or not. I'll scream; I'll
yell. (_Yells._)

_Halla (stands up)._

Are you not ashamed of yourself?

_Kari (in a weak voice)._

This cannot last. I should have gone long ago. I ought to have gone at
once, the first day the food gave out, but you thought every day that
the morrow would bring fine weather. I know you said it to soothe me,
but it was not right.

_Halla._

It was no use going to certain death.

_Kari._

I should never be afraid of getting lost. If the snowstorm is ever so
dark, I find my way. (_Raises his hand._) I know where I am by trend of
the wind.

_Halla._

If you were so sure of yourself, you ought indeed to have gone long ago.

_Kari (hardening)._

You say that?

_Halla._

Yes, I say that.

_Kari._

Take care! You have tempted me to stay day after day. Your believing and
hoping palsied my will. You wormed your own fear into my heart and broke
my courage. If we both die of hunger, the fault is yours, and yours
alone.

_Halla._

Is it my fault?

_Kari._

You have lived in the hills for sixteen years, and you don't know them
more than a child does. Perhaps you think the snowstorm will have pity?
Won't you open the door and bid the snowstorm be still? Why don't you?

_Halla._

You say that it is my fault if we starve to death. Who was it that
stole?

_Kari (stands for a moment speechless)._

You are homely. I have never before seen how homely you are. Your face
makes me think of the head of a dead horse. (_Reaches out his arms._)
May I feel of your hair if it doesn't all come out?

_Halla._

Don't touch me!

_Kari_ (_lets his arms fall. An expression of sadness comes into his
voice_). I thought you were the only one who understood that I could not
help what I did. Neither could you help what you have done, and yet you
are bringing my misdeeds up against me.

_Halla._

Never before have I upbraided you for this, but you put the whole blame
on me.

_Kari._

And you said it in such a hard tone. It was as if you struck me with
stones.

_Halla._

My voice was no harder than yours.

_Kari._

It's becoming in you to chide me, as if you had not yourself urged me to
steal many a time!

_Halla._

Since we became outlawed we have had a right to steal. We had to do it
to keep from starving.

_Kari._

I thought you had forgiven me, and then you have been hoarding your
charges. For sixteen years you have kept them, and they have not been
corrupted either by rust or moth.

_Halla._

Come now, don't be angry, Kari. I said it in the heat of temper.

_Kari._

I am not angry, but it hurt so! I thought that you would be my spokesman
before the Great Judge. If you If could forgive me, He might do it, too.

_Halla._

I did not mean to hurt you. I only said it to defend myself.

_Kari (following up his own thoughts)._

There are stones in the hills that are blood-stained from my feet; you
must gather those and bring them before the Great Judge.

_Halla._

Won't you take to weeping, so I can gather up your tears and bring them
before the Great Judge?

_Kari._

Are you mocking me?

_Halla._

Yes; I won't listen to your whining any longer. Now we shall sit down
and hold our peace. (_Sits down._)

_Kari._

You shall not be worried by my whining. (_Takes the fur socks down from
the wall; sits down and unties the straps of his shoes. Halla watches
him in silence, while he puts on one sock._)

_Halla._

Are you going?

_Kari._

Yes.

_Halla._

You don't ask my advice?

_Kari._

No, this time I don't ask it.

_Halla (rising)._

When you go out of that door, you need not think of me any more.

_Kari._

I know your voice when you are angry. You ought to thank me for going
out in such weather.

_Halla._

Yes, you are brave. It is not that you have any hope of saving our
lives. You will only lie down in the snow and die.

_Kari._

You can believe it if you like.

_Halla (goes to him)._

I beg of you, let those hard words be forgotten.

_Kari._

It is not because of them that I am going. The worst that can befall me
is to die in the snow, and that is better than sitting here.

_Halla._

First of all, we must use our common sense. The only thing we can do is
to wait here until the weather clears.

_Kari._

And then the food will come flying in through the door!

_Halla._

Not that, but there will be means of help. We can dig up roots to still
the worst hunger, and we can go to the lake for fish.

_Kari._

The snowstorm may last four or five days yet, and by that time we shall
be dead from hunger.

_Halla._

How long shall you be gone?

_Kari._

Two days at the most.

_Halla (goes to him and touches his shoulder)._

I beg you to stay for my sake! We have lived together for sixteen years,
and now let us also die together.

_Kari._

I know your way of hiding your will. Now it is your will that I should
stay, but this time you are foiled.

_Halla._

You cared for me when I fled with you to the hills. You told me there
was no one like me in all the world. You carried me across the streams,
until I grew strong enough to ford them myself. You risked your life to
get the things you knew I liked. Have you forgotten?

_Kari._

I have forgotten nothing.

_Halla._

And all the nights we slept with the heavens above us! Was it not
blessed to feel the morning breeze over your face and to open your eyes
and look into the blue sky? Then you kissed me and said that you loved
me.

_Kari._

You shall not stop me from going.

_Halla (turns away from him)._

I know why I have this fear of being alone. It is because I am so far
away from every living thing, and there's no sun and no stream here.
(_Turns toward him._) If we feel that we must die, you can close the
smoke-hole, and I will fill the hut with smoke. We shall lie down side
by side. (_Touches his hand._) I will take your hand, and we shall dream
that we are going out into a sand-storm together.

_Kari (harshly)._

Now leave me in peace.

_Halla (in helpless fear)._

I will tell you the truth. I don't dare to be alone.

_Kari._

Are you afraid of the dark?

_Halla._

When you are gone, I know I shall begin to listen. I know what I shall
hear.

_Kari._

What do you hear?

_Halla._

I hear the sound of a great heavy waterfall. I hear the screams of my
child. You must not leave me.

_Kari (turns away)._

You spare me nothing; you make my going as hard as can be.

_Halla._

I forbid you to go! It's inhuman to leave me here alone. If you ever
come back, you will find me a mad beast.

_Kari._

Now you shall keep still. I will not listen to your whining any longer.

_Halla._

You are like all the rest. When your will is set, you have no heart.
(_Sits down silently._)

_Kari_ (_fastens his foot-gear; ties a rope around his waist_). When I
draw it tight enough, I don't feel that I am hungry. (_Puts on a coat of
heavy fur._) You must watch the fire and not let it go out. I'll bring
you some more faggots from the wood-shed.

_Halla (stands up; her voice is husky)._

Better kill me before you go. (_Bares her breast._) Stab me with your
knife-- right here! I won't scream. (_Shuts her eyes._) I shall think I
am nursing my child, and the little teeth are biting my breast.

_Kari._

Have you gone mad?

_Halla._

You haven't the heart, but you have the heart to let me sit here all
alone. A wretched little train-oil lamp you would put out before you
went; you could not bear to let it burn over nothing. (_Sits down._)

_Kari (stands silent a long time)._

I have been guilty of many a bad deed, but so far as I know, I have
never been cruel. Nor will I be cruel to you. (_Takes off his coat._)
Then we shall wait together as you wish. Does that make you feel
happier?

_Halla._

I don't know. I can feel neither joy nor grief any longer. I think I
would rather be alone.

_Kari._

You don't mean that.

_Halla._

If you think it wiser to go, you must do so.

_Kari._

I thought it would make you glad if I stayed.

_Halla (rising)._

If you had taken me in your arms and told me that you loved me with all
my wretchedness and all my homeliness, that would have made me glad; but
you did not.

_Kari._

Yet you know it was for your sake I stayed.

_Halla._

Are you so sure of that? Perhaps you were afraid that you might be
guilty of a wrong deed. I think you had in mind the Great Judge rather
than me.

_Kari._

I have once been judged by men; that is why I so often think of the last
judgment.

_Halla._

I will have no talk of conscience between you and me. Be yourself with
me, whether you are good or bad. After all, you don't know if the Great
Judge looks kindly at what you call good deeds. Look at me! Look at me!
You could not be more cruel to your worst enemy. Why was I given this
hunger and not the food to still it? I have never wished to be born.
I would rather be anything else than a human being. I would rather be
the sand, whirling aimlessly over yonder waste. If there is a God,
He must be cruel-- but there is no God.

_Kari._

You are only lashing yourself up. You ought rather to humble yourself
and pray God to help both you and me. Without Him we are but dust and
ashes.

_Halla._

I want no mercy any more, but you can go on calling for help.
(_Mockingly._) I am sure He will hear you, if He is not busy breaking up
the glaciers or cleaning out the gorge of a volcano to make it belch up
more fire.

_Kari._

Don't say another word! We are wretched enough without your calling down
new curses upon us.

_Halla._

I have but one sole and only wish before I die, and that is to do some
unheard-of cruel deed. I should like to be a snowslide. I would come in
the dead of night. It would be a joy to see the people half naked
running for their lives-- chaste old maids with gouty hips, and smug
peasant women with bellies bobbing with fat. (_Sits down, breaks into a
paroxysm of laughter, wild and continued._)

_Kari._

You have become a monster. I am afraid of you-- afraid of the only human
being I care for. (_Walks over to a corner, where he finds his old
Bible. Sits down, turning the pages with trembling hands; reads._) "And
it came to pass that as he was praying in a certain place, when he
ceased one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray as
John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray,
say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom
come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day
our daily bread. And forgive us our sins: for we also forgive every one
that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us
from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for
ever. Amen."

    (_They sit silent a while. Halla, leaning her elbows on her
    knees, her face buried in her hands, cries softly. Kari rises,
    stands silent for a moment, then goes to her._)

_Kari._

You must not lose heart. When things are at the worst, they will mend.
Perhaps the storm will quiet down during the night.

_Halla._

It is so hard. (_Bursts into sobs._)

_Kari (kneeling)._

But, dearest Halla! Are you ill?

_Halla (warding him off)._

Let me alone.

_Kari (rises slowly)._

You were always so strong. I thought nothing could make you lose heart.

_Halla_ (_looks up. She has stopped crying; her voice is calm and
cold_). You don't love me any more. You have never loved me.

_Kari._

Is that what you are crying for?

_Halla._

Before when you wanted to leave me, I besought you by all the memories I
thought were dear to you. That did not touch you. I humbled myself so
low that I would have thanked you just for a little pity,-- that might
have been an afterglow of your love, but you had no pity. You stayed
only because you were anxious about your own soul.

_Kari._

I stayed also for your sake.

_Halla._

You know better. You would rather die than have your God find you guilty
of an evil deed. You counted the saving of your soul higher than your
life, but I have no God, and I have never been able to tell my soul from
my love. If you had loved me, you would have understood that I was
pleading for my soul. You would have heard it in my voice, but you did
not hear it.

_Kari._

You forget that it was to save our lives I wanted to go.

_Halla_ (_rises. Her eyes are large and burning_). Why did you not take
me with you?

_Kari._

If I had gone alone, I might have come back alive. The two of us would
have been sure to perish.

_Halla (kneels)._

I once dreamed of two people. To them their love was the one and only
law. When they had lived a long life together, they were thrown into
direst need. Hunger drew near to the fine web that time had woven
between them and would tear it asunder. Then they looked into each
other's eyes, and together they walked out into the snowstorm to die.

_Kari._

It is every man's duty to keep alive as long as he can.

_Halla (rising)._

And why should it be, when life has become an agony to ourselves and of
use to no one?

_Kari._

It is the law of God.

_Halla._

The storm writes many laws in the sand. (_Sits down._) When my strength
had given out, you could have left me in the snow.

_Kari._

You know very well that I would never have done that.

_Halla._

That would have been better than to leave me waiting here. And I don't
believe that death is so hard. The storm carries you until you drop from
weariness, and then the snow comes and covers you up. (_Staring before
her with eyes wide open._)

_Kari (is silent for a moment)._

You are bitter, because of our sore plight. Many a time have I told
myself that I have been the curse of your life. If you had never known
me, you would now be living in peace and quiet. You could have ridden to
church every Sunday, if you liked. You would have been the rich and
comely widow with all the young men flocking about you. I dare say you
have often been sorry that you fled with me to the hills. (_Halla is
silent._) I remember once we had been out hunting together all night.
Early in the morning we stood on the rim of the mountain plain looking
down upon the fields and the dwellings of men. On some of the farms, the
fires were lighted already, and the smoke rose straight up into the blue
air, and the streams ran so quietly and pleasantly through the meadows.
I thought then that I could see the homesickness in your eyes.

_Halla (starting up, her voice cold and calm again)._

If I could only have saved my faith in my own love, but I love you no
longer, and it may be that I never have loved you. As a child I used to
live more in my dreams than in the life about me. When I fled with you
to the hills, I thought it was because I loved you, but perhaps it was
only my longing for the strange and unknown. Afterwards, when the days
became harder and lonelier, my love for you was a shelter which I would
seek when sorrow for what I had done came clutching at my heart.

_Kari._

Say no more! You are befouling our love-- yours and mine. You say it was
only a longing for the unknown and the free, unfettered life that made
you flee with me to the hills. Shame on you! (_His voice is soft and
full of sadness._) I know what you have been. No woman was ever greater
in her love than you. When the sun strikes the rim of the glacier, it
takes on the loveliest hues, though in truth it is nothing but dull,
colorless clay. So your love has been the sunlight in my life, and I
love you-- have always loved you. When I was away from you even for a
single day, I would long to see you and hear your voice as eagerly as I
would long for the murmur of a brook when nearly dying from thirst. When
I went hunting and had good luck, I always thought of you. When I
pictured to myself how pleased you would be, I forgot all about my
weariness. But you must not ask the impossible of a man.

_Halla (rising)._

I am cold. Will you fetch some wood?

_Kari._

Yes, indeed. (_Goes to the door; leaves it ajar._) You cannot see a hand
before you. (_Goes out and shuts the door after him._)

    [_Halla goes to the door, listens, opens the door. A cloud
    of snow comes whirling in. Outside the storm sweeps past.
    She takes a long, lingering look around the hut, goes out
    into the doorway, throws her head back, and disappears,
    carried by the storm._

    (_The stage stands empty for a moment._)

_Kari returns, covered with snow, his arms full of faggots._

_Kari._

Why do you leave the door open? (_Sees that Halla is not there, drops
the faggots, goes out hurriedly, calls._) Halla! (_His call is heard
outside the hut. He comes back into the doorway, looks in, cries out._)
Almighty God! (_Two heart-broken cries are heard outside, the latter
farther away and hushed by the storm._) Halla! Halla!

    (_The snow comes whirling into the empty hut._)



THE HRAUN FARM

[_Gaarden Hraun_]

A PLAY IN THREE ACTS

1912



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ


  SVEINUNGI, owner of the Hraun Farm.
  JORUNN, his wife.
  LJOT, their daughter.
  EINAR, a relative of Jorunn.
  JAKOBINA, an old woman.
  FRIDA, a child, eleven years old.
  SØLVI, a geologist.
  JON      }
  INDRIDI  }
  HELGI    }
  RANNVEIG } Servants.
  BJØRG    }
  THORA    }
  A Shepherd Boy.

_The action takes place in Iceland. Time, the Present. "Hraun" is the
Icelandic word for lava-field._



ACT I


_The farm. Five white gables, all adjoining and separated by heavy
partitions. The roof is covered with turf, the walls are of earth and
stone. The gable farthest to the left is without a door, but has two
windows on the ground floor and a smaller window above. The next has a
door leading into the "badstofa" or servants' quarters. The third is a
dairy and storehouse; the fourth, a smithy; the fifth, a drying-shed. In
the yard is a horse-block; to the left, a picket fence. Before the doors
lie the packs unloaded from nine horses: two green chests, sacks of
grain and household stuff, lumber, and a number of other articles.
Jakobina stands feeling one of the sacks. Helgi is undoing the
strappings. The door to the smithy is open. Einar is seen within,
forging horseshoe nails._

_It is morning, before breakfast._


_Jakobina (talking half to herself)._

This must be coffee. (_Lays her hand on one of the chests._) And what
has Jorunn got in these, I wonder! I fancy there are many pretty things
there.

_Helgi._

You may be sure of that.

_Jakobina._

Nineteen years I've been here now, and it's never happened yet that the
mistress has forgotten to bring something or other to please me when she
came back from town,-- and it wasn't always little things either, God
bless her! Oh, but there they have knocked off the paint. What a shame!
(_Sits down on the chest and runs her hand over the paint._)

      _Enter Bjørg and Rannveig from the left, carrying pails
      full of milk, which they set down._

_Rannveig._

They brought home quite a bit. We shall not go hungry for a while yet.
Where are they?

_Helgi._

They are inside, drinking coffee.

_Bjørg._

Is Jon drunk?

_Helgi._

Not so very; he's just a little gay.

_The Shepherd Boy._

Are you through milking already?

_Bjørg._

Can't you see for yourself?

_The Shepherd Boy._

Oh, pshaw! (_His eyes light on the lumber piles. He bends down and
begins to count the knots in the wood._) One, two, three--

      _Enter Sveinungi from the "badstofa."_

_Sveinungi._

What do you say, girls? Quite a pack, isn't it?

_Bjørg._

I should say so!

_Sveinungi (to Helgi)._

You've begun to undo the strappings? That's fine. And here come the
others.

      _Enter Jon and Indridi from the house. Jon is somewhat
      intoxicated._

_Jon._

Here stands our dear master. Good day to you, Rannveig! Good day!

_Bjørg and Rannveig._

Good day, and welcome home!

_Sveinungi (laughing)._

Why don't you put your arms around the girls and give them a kiss? Are
you afraid?

_Jon._

No, Jon isn't afraid.

_Sveinungi._

You didn't get anything with your coffee.    [_Runs into the house._

_Jon._

He is the same as ever.

    [_Bjørg and Rannveig carry the milk into the store-house._

_Jakobina (rising)._

You didn't take notice of anything in particular on your way back?

_Indridi._

Not that I remember.

_Jakobina._

Did you see many birds?

_Indridi._

Come to think of it, I don't believe I saw any.

_Jakobina._

That's what I thought.    [_Goes into the house._

      _Enter Sveinungi from the house with a flask and a glass,
      which he fills._

_Sveinungi._

Here, this is for you.

_Jon (drinks)._

Thanks.

_Sveinungi (fills the glass again for Indridi and Helgi)._

Won't you take a drop too, Einar?

_Einar appears in the doorway of the smithy._

_Einar._

Thank you. (_Drinks._)

_Sveinungi (sees the Shepherd Boy)._

Are you here? Why, the girls are all through milking. Do you suppose you
can keep the sheep standing in the fold all day? (_The Shepherd Boy is
about to go._) Wait a minute! I have a little thing here that I bought
for you yesterday. (_Takes a knife from his vest pocket._) I think the
blade is good iron, and that is the main thing. (_Gives him the knife.
The Shepherd Boy kisses him._) It is not much. You are welcome to it.

_The Shepherd Boy (opens the knife)._

Look, Einar, it's a regular hunting-knife. (_Closes it, runs to the
left, calling._) Snati! Pila! Snati!

_Rannveig._

You needn't call the dogs. They are up at the fold.

    [_Exit the Shepherd Boy._

_Sveinungi._

That boy will amount to something in time. It's well done for one so
young to tend more than four-score sheep, and he hasn't lost one yet.

    [_Takes the flask back to the house._

_Jon._

He's in mighty good humor to-day, the old man.

_Bjørg._

I should say so.

_Indridi._

Why, he got the highest price for his wool.

_Jon._

And a sorry day it would be when we didn't get that!

_Indridi._

What do you think Jakobina had in mind when she asked about the birds?

_Jon._

It's hard to tell! She has her mind on so many things.

      _Enter Sveinungi and Jorunn from the house._

_Sveinungi (in the door, laughing and talking)._

I believe the girls have their eye on the green chests. Indridi, will
you carry them in?    [_Indridi goes with one of the chests._

_Jorunn._

You can put them in the little room.

_Sveinungi._

Rannveig, will you bring me the key to the drying-shed? You know where
it hangs. (_Rannveig runs in._) You boys will have to carry the
breadstuffs up into the loft of the storehouse, and the coffee and sugar
too, and while I think of it, you had better take one sack out to the
mill, Helgi.

_Helgi._

I will.

_Sveinungi (opening a bag)._

Here, Einar, you'll find iron and nails and brazil-wood, and here's
something for yourself. (_Hands him a plug of tobacco._) See if you can
be a bit saving of it.

_Einar (pats him on the shoulder)._

God bless you!

    [_Goes into the smithy._

_Rannveig (comes out)._

Here is the key.

_Sveinungi_ (_unlocks the door to the drying-shed_). You can stack the
timber on top of the old pile. After you have had your breakfast, you,
Jon, and Indridi had better go and lie down. You must be tired.

_Jon._

I am sure I could keep on working all day if need be, and just as hard
as those who have had their sleep. (_Indridi comes for the other
chest._)

_Sveinungi (laughs)._

There are not many like you.

_Jorunn._

Where is Ljot? I thought she was here.

_Helgi._

I saw her walking in the yard. I have not seen her come back.

_Sveinungi (goes to the picket fence; calls)._

Ljot!

_Ljot (is heard answering)._

Yes!

_Sveinungi._

Are you there? Aren't you coming home?

_Ljot (is heard answering)._

I am coming.

_Jorunn._

Have you set the milk?

_Rannveig._

Yes.

_Jorunn._

Then come in, if you want to see what I have bought.

_Einar_ (_steps out into the door of the smithy. He holds a snuff-box in
his hand, and is rolling up a long plug of tobacco, which he puts into
the box_). This tastes better; the old stuff was getting as dry as hay.
(_Spits._) Oh, well, there was a time, but that's so long ago.

_Helgi._

What are you talking about?

_Einar._

It was a winter night, and I was lying in wait for the fox. Well, what
happened was neither more nor less than this, that when I wanted to take
a chew of tobacco, I found I'd left the box at home. I can stand it for
one night, I thought, but it was cold where I was lying, and the fox
made himself scarce. Let me tell you, when I had been waiting till
nearly dawn, I'd gladly have given my soul for a good honest chew.

    (_Ljot passes through from the right, carrying some freshly
    gathered flowers in her hand. Goes into the house._)

_Helgi._

And did you get the fox?

_Einar._

I did. It came just as I was about to go home.

      _Enter Indridi from the house._

_Jon._

When you got home, I'm sure you went straight for a good big plug of
tobacco.

_Einar._

Maybe I did! It was the finest blue fox I've ever shot.

      _Enter Frida from the left. She is warm from running._

_Frida._

Now I've turned the horses out on the grass. (_Wipes her forehead._) Do
you want me to pull the bellows for you?

_Einar._

You'd better go in and see if Jorunn should happen to have something for
you. Then you can come back here.    [_Frida runs in._

      _Enter Bjørg and Rannveig from the house._

_Bjørg._

See what the mistress has brought for me! (_Holding up a piece of
cloth._) It will be fun to make that into an apron.

_Rannveig._

I got a head-kerchief with red flowers (_holds it up_) and a piece of
soap. (_Smells it._)

_Jon._

May I? (_Smells it._) You'll be good to kiss, when you have washed with
that soap.

_Rannveig._

Only I won't let you.

_Thora (in the doorway)._

I must show you what I got, too.

      _Enter Sølvi from the left, carrying a gun over his shoulder
      and a small knapsack on his back._

_Sølvi._

Good day to you!

_The Servants._

Good day!

_Indridi._

We did not see you coming.

_Sølvi._

I took the short cut. May I have something to drink? I am thirsty.

_Rannveig._

I'll get it for you.

_Sølvi (lowering his voice)._

And may I see Ljot for a moment? I have something for her.

_Rannveig._

I'll tell her.    [_Exeunt Girls._

_Indridi._

Have you any news?

_Sølvi._

No.

_Indridi._

You are still at Hol?

_Sølvi._

Yes.

_Indridi._

Have they begun to cut the hay?

_Sølvi._

Not yet.

_Indridi._

They generally start before any of the other farms.

_Sølvi._

They need to. They don't keep much help.

      _Enter Rannveig with the milk._

_Rannveig._

Here it is, and you are welcome to it.

_Sølvi (drinks)._

Thanks.

_Rannveig._

I have told Ljot.    [_Goes in._

_Helgi._

Here, give me a hand! (_Indridi lifts the sack to Helgi's back; Helgi
carries it out to the left._)

_Jon (coiling the last ropes)._

We can start carrying the lumber into the shed.

      _Enter Ljot from the house._

_Sølvi._

Good day to you, Ljot!

_Ljot._

Good day! You wished to see me?

_Sølvi._

You won't be angry with me?-- I thought perhaps you would like this.
(_Takes the skin of a duck from his knapsack._) I shot it on the creek
the other day, and I thought it was so pretty that I took off the skin
and dried it. Do you think you could make use of it-- say for a
riding-cap?

_Ljot._

It is beautiful.

_Sølvi._

When you hold the wing this way the spot is blue, and when you hold it
so it is green; it's the way the light falls.

_Ljot._

I doubt if I dare take it. I scarcely know you.

_Sølvi._

You would make me very happy if you would take it.

_Ljot._

Then I will, and thank you. (_Gives him her hand._) How lovely it is!

_Sølvi (lowering his voice)._

Do you never go for a walk by yourself in the _hraun_?

_Ljot._

Why do you ask?

_Sølvi._

You know the pretty spot by the old roan tree; it is not more than a
good ten minutes' walk from here. I thought perhaps you might go there
sometimes on Sundays.

_Ljot (blushes)._

I don't know--

_Sølvi._

I shall be there all day Sunday. Good-bye, Ljot.

_Ljot (confused)._

Good-bye.

_Sølvi._

I shall be there at sunrise, and I shall be there when the sun goes
down.    [_Exit to the left._

      _Enter Sveinungi, hurriedly._

_Sveinungi._

Who was it that went just now?

_Indridi._

Is he gone? It was Sølvi.

_Sveinungi._

What did he want here?

_Indridi._

He got a cup of milk.

_Sveinungi (to Ljot)._

It seemed to me he was talking to you. What have you there?

_Ljot._

He gave me a bird's skin.

_Sveinungi._

Pshaw! You should have made him keep it himself.

_Ljot._

There was no harm meant.

_Sveinungi._

Einar could have brought you down one just like it, if you had cared for
it. Why are you blushing so?

_Ljot._

I did not think you would be so angry because I took the bird's skin.

_Sveinungi._

I can't bear him, that stone-picker! He roves from place to place like a
tramp. Let him dare to set his nets for you! Give me the creature, and
I'll hand it back to him next time he comes; for he's sure to come.

_Ljot._

I can burn it myself, if you grudge me the keeping it.    [_Goes in._

_Sveinungi (talking in the doorway)._

And then you get angry to boot. (_To Indridi._) I see you have undone
all the strappings.

_Indridi._

Yes.

_Sveinungi._

Where is Helgi?

_Indridi._

He went to the mill.

      _Enter Helgi from the left._

_Sveinungi._

There he comes. Then you can do what I told you.    [_Goes in._

_Helgi._

Anything amiss? The master seemed cross.

_Indridi._

That's nothing.

_Helgi._

Is Sølvi gone?

_Indridi._

Yes. Let's get through with this. You go into the storehouse and take
the things as I hand them to you.

    [_They carry the breadstuffs into the storehouse._

_Einar appears in the door of the smithy._

_Einar._

H'm, I feel I'm getting old. There was a time when I could forge three
nails in one heating, and now it's a hard rub getting through with one.

_Indridi._

We can't be young more than once.

_Einar._

And we can't cast the slough of old age, as they could once upon a time.

_Indridi._

Would you care to?

_Einar._

I don't know. I almost think these new times are not for me.

      _Enter Frida._

_Frida._

Einar, I was to call you to breakfast. (_Runs against Sveinungi, who is
coming out._)

_Sveinungi._

There, there! Why, you have brought it all under cover and the ropes in
the shed. That's fine. Now, Helgi, when you have eaten, you can go and
begin to cut turf. The others will join you when they have had their
sleep. (_Lowering his voice._) Einar, will you ask Ljot to come out?
I want to have a little talk with her.

_Einar._

I will.    [_Einar and Frida go in._

    (_Sveinungi locks the drying-shed and looks into the storehouse,
    pretending to be very busy._)

      _Enter Ljot from the house._

_Ljot._

Here I am, father.

_Sveinungi._

I did not hear you. (_Smiles._) You step as lightly as a young foal. You
are not hurt at what I said a moment ago? It was only for your own good.
I won't have any shiftless straggler around here making eyes at you. The
parish can gossip about something else. (_Ljot goes to the fence,
resting her hands on it._) But that was not what I wanted to talk to you
about. (_Goes to her._) You know Arne, the farmer at Skrida. You have
seen his son Halfdan. What do you think of him?

_Ljot._

I have seen him only a few times.

_Sveinungi._

There are two brothers. The older one is married and is going to take
the farm, but Halfdan is most like his father. You should see the way
their place is kept. Their yard is nearly as big as this, and there are
long stretches where the grass stands so high that it falls over. It's
as fine a sight as I have ever seen. We stopped there, Jorunn and I, for
a full hour, on our way back from town, and there was no lack of
welcome. Can you guess what we talked about?

_Ljot._

No.

_Sveinungi (laughs)._

You can't? Arne asked me whether I would have his son Halfdan for a
son-in-law.

_Ljot._

And what did you say?

_Sveinungi._

I said I had nothing against it-- quite the contrary. I should be
content if you had a husband like him, and we are getting old, your
mother and I. We don't know when death may strike us. It may come at any
time, and I should like to see the man who is to take my place when I am
gone.

_Ljot._

I don't think you are getting old.

_Sveinungi._

Oh, yes, I feel it. Sometimes when I want to use this or that for my
work I find that I have clean forgotten where I put it. That could never
have happened when I was young; there was not a thing that slipped my
mind. But what do you say, Ljot? Your mother thinks as I do, so it lies
solely with you whether you will accept this happiness or not.

_Ljot._

I don't think I care for that happiness.

_Sveinungi._

You should weigh your words well before you speak. Perhaps you fancy
there will be a wooer like Halfdan coming every day. But you don't mean
that; you only mean that he must come and speak for himself.

_Ljot._

I am so young, father.

_Sveinungi._

You are past nineteen. There are many girls who marry at seventeen, and
you have been so well taught that you can readily take your place at the
head of a household. I need not be ashamed of you there, that's sure.
And you will have your mother near you, for it is understood, of course,
that you and Halfdan stay here with us. You will have your bridal now in
the fall, and next spring you can take over the farm.

_Ljot._

But I scarcely know him at all!

_Sveinungi._

Your mother did not know me, and I can't see but that we two have lived
happily together all these years. It is not always those who marry for
what they call love who are happiest. Arne and I are friends from old
times, and I have as good as given him my word.

      _Enter Jorunn from the house._

_Ljot (straightening herself)._

You should not have done that without speaking to me.

_Sveinungi._

What has come over you? Do you mean to go right against the will of your
parents? I can tell you one thing, if it is this tramp you are thinking
of, it shall never come to pass. Not as long as I live.    [_Goes in._

_Jorunn._

Your father was angry. What were you talking about?

_Ljot._

He wants me to marry a man I don't know.

_Jorunn._

Does he? You cannot say of Halfdan that he is a man you don't know.

_Ljot._

We have never spoken a word to each other.

_Jorunn._

Yet he has been here several times. Once he stayed overnight. Besides
you have heard him spoken of, and you know his people. Everybody knows
the Hofstad people.

_Ljot._

Father has given his word without asking me. He had no right to do that.

_Jorunn._

You have worked yourself up, Ljot. I don't understand you. Can it really
be that you have promised yourself to some one without letting your
parents know it?

_Ljot._

I have not.

_Jorunn._

You need not hide anything from me. If you have given your word, you
must keep it.

_Ljot._

I told you that I have not.

_Jorunn._

You could not tell your old mother a falsehood! But if you are free and
not bound by any promise, this puzzles me. Halfdan is young and a
capable man, and his father is one of the richest and most respected
farmers in the countryside.

_Ljot._

But I don't care for him. You can't mean that I should marry a man I
don't care for. (_Leans over the fence._)

_Jorunn._

Once you are married you will come to care for him. (_Goes to her._) It
is a great step you are about to take. Weigh your words well, so that
you may not rue them. Be careful not to thrust away happiness when she
reaches out her hand to you, or there may come a day when you will
repent. You must know that your parents wish nothing but what is good
for you.

_Ljot (with tears in her voice)._

It seems to me you are against me, both you and father.

_Jorunn (stroking her hair)._

I believe you are hiding something from your mother. I think I know what
it is. You were very much pleased with the bird's skin you got to-day.
(_Ljot is silent._) The winter your father asked me in marriage there
came to my home a man who used to go from farm to farm doing odd
carpenter jobs. One evening I carried his coffee to him where he was at
work. He had a big chest standing there that he kept his tools in. I can
remember it plainly; it was yellow. I stood waiting for him to finish
his coffee so that I could take the cup back, when he took out of the
chest a work-box-- the prettiest thing I've ever seen. It was of dark
brown wood, the lid round, with pictures of animals carved on it. He
made me a present of it, and when I was about to go, he asked me for a
kiss, but I would not give it to him.

_Ljot._

You never told me about this.

_Jorunn._

He was a good-looking man, with big brown eyes. Well, when your father
came, my father and mother both wanted me to become his wife. It was not
altogether easy for me, but I would not go against their wishes.
I thought it my duty to please them, and besides the other man had never
asked me straight out.

_Ljot._

But he was the one you cared for.

_Jorunn._

Perhaps I thought so at the time. (_Silence._) He went away on the night
he heard that I was promised to your father. A year after I married your
father, he was drowned-- some thought he had taken his own life.

_Ljot._

Maybe that was your doing.

_Jorunn._

How can you say such a thing to your mother!

_Ljot._

Don't be angry with me, mother.

_Jorunn._

A man who cannot bear his fate is not worth much. I should not have been
happy as his wife, and I could not wish for a better man than your
father. When two people live together a whole lifetime and have an
honest will to do what is right by each other, they will come to care
for each other, as the years go by. (_Silence._) I have told you this so
that you may think it over, but if you feel in your own heart that it is
right to go against the wishes of your parents, then you will have to do
so. (_Ljot is silent._) You say nothing, my child? I have tried as best
I could, in my poor way, to do what seemed my duty. I cannot give my
daughter any other or better advice. When the hour of sorrow comes, as
it must come to you too, there is nothing else that can bring you peace.

_Ljot._

I will do as you wish.

_Jorunn._

I always knew that I had a good daughter. (_Strokes her hair._) How glad
your father will be! This will be a great day for him, and you will
never regret that you did as your parents wished.    [_Goes in._

    (_Ljot stands alone._)

      _Enter Einar and Frida from the house._

_Einar (to Frida)._

You can start the bellows. I hope the fire has not gone out.    [_They
go into the smithy._

      _Enter Helgi from the house. He goes into the smithy and
      comes out again with a turf-spade in his hand._

_Einar (in the door)._

Shall you be home for dinner?

_Helgi._

No, the others will bring it to me.    [_Exit to the left._

      _Enter Sveinungi._

_Sveinungi._

Are you here? Won't you come in and talk to your father? (_Patting her
shoulder._) This is the happiest day in my life since the time I got
your mother.    [_They go in._

      _Enter Jakobina with a plate of chicken-feed in her hand;
      goes to the door of the smithy._

_Jakobina._

Is Frida there? Can you spare her while she runs over to the chickens
for me with their food?

_Einar._

Yes, indeed.    [_Frida goes with the chicken-feed._

_Jakobina_ (_sits down on the horse-block_). I had such a queer dream
last night. I thought I was standing out there in the yard, and I saw a
giant come striding across the _hraun_. I saw him stop right there-- he
stood with arms stretched out and bent down over the house.



ACT II


_A grass-grown yard, some rocks partly sunk in the ground. In the
foreground, farthest to the right, a tent. In the background, to the
left, the farm-house. In the outskirts of the yard a sheep-house with
the roof and part of the walls in ruins. Beyond it, the "hraun,"
a lava-field stretching for miles, studded with jutting rocks and lava
formations._

_It is evening of the same day._


_The Servants_ (_seated, singing_).

  God the power unending
  Rests with Thee alone.
  Cherubim are bending,
  Low before Thy throne.
  From Thy Heaven hear me!
  Weak and soiled am I,
  Wounds and sorrows sear me,
  Fainting I draw nigh.
  Is there then another way?
  Sorrow's rising hills may they
  Not reach up to heaven, pray?
  Help me-- lest I die.

    (_They cover their eyes in prayer. Silence._)

_Jorunn (uncovers her eyes)._

The peace of God be with us.

    (_The Servants rise and shake hands._)

_Jorunn_ (_patting Frida's cheek_). Now you must not be afraid of the
earthquake any more. When we trust in Him, no harm can befall us.
(_Gathers the hymn-books._) Please take the books back to the tent,
Ljot; it's a little too early yet to go in. (_Ljot goes with the
books._) And you may fetch the shoes I was sewing. I left them in there.

    (_Some sit on the rocks, others squat in the grass. Only
    Sveinungi remains standing._)

_Ljot (coming from the tent)._

Here are the shoes, mother.

_Jorunn._

Thank you, daughter.

    (_Ljot lies down in the grass, gazing out over the "hraun."_)

_Indridi._

Did you hear the church-bells ringing?

_Einar._

I did not hear them.

_Jorunn._

I did. They rang of themselves.

    (_Silence._)

_Indridi._

Where were you, Thora, when the shock came?

_Thora._

In the kitchen.

_Indridi._

It's your week, isn't it?

_Thora._

I don't know how I ever got out, for the whole floor heaved under me,
so that I was thrown right against the wall, and you should have seen me
when I came out-- all black from the falling soot.

_Jon._

And the rest of you-- where were you?

_Bjørg._

We were sitting in the _badstofa_, sorting wool.

_Rannveig._

It felt as if some one was shaking the roof and trying to pull up the
whole house.

_Indridi._

We were just about to leave our work and run home to hear how you had
fared, but then I thought they would be sure to send us word (_looking
askance at Sveinungi_) if anything had happened. Besides, we wanted to
get enough turf cut while we were at it so that we should not have to go
back another time.

_Jon._

But I must say that when I began working again, it went against me. It
was like cutting into a living thing-- like skinning a live animal.

_Rannveig._

Ugh, yes.

_Jon._

And the place where we'd cut turf last year looked like an ugly scar.

    (_Silence._)

_Jorunn._

Did you meet anybody when you came home from work?

_Indridi._

No.

_Jorunn._

And no outsider has been here this afternoon. They don't come when they
are wanted. I ought to have sent one of you to the next farm to find out
how things were there, anyway.

_Jon._

I can easily go yet, if mistress wants me to.

_Jorunn._

Oh, no, it's getting late. I hope we shall have no bad tidings from any
one.

_Indridi._

I hope so, too.

_Jon._

I'm afraid the Vik farm-house has fallen. It is both old and poorly
built-- nothing like ours.

    (_Silence._)

_Einar._

You should have seen the hawks, Jorunn, right after the shock. They kept
flying back and forth, just as they do when they're warding off a foe
from their nest.

_Jorunn._

They were frightened.

_Einar._

And no wonder. Great pieces of rock came tumbling down into the creek.
The sheep out on the heath yonder huddled together in flocks, looking
like old snow.

_Jon._

Then you were out hunting.

_Einar._

No, I was not hunting. I was looking at the hawks, wondering whether one
could get at them by going down in a rope.

    (_Silence._)

_Jorunn._

What about the boy, Sveinungi? Do you mean to let him stay with the
sheep all night?

_Sveinungi._

Certainly. He can sleep to-morrow.

_Jorunn._

I was only thinking he might be afraid to be alone.

_Sveinungi._

He's no more afraid than grown people.

_Jorunn._

I saw he took both the dogs with him.

    (_Silence._)

_Helgi._

There was a man walking across the _hraun_ a little while ago. Who can
it be?

_Indridi._

I saw him too.

_Jon._

It was Sølvi. He carried his gun.

    (_Silence._)

_Ljot._

How still it is on the _hraun_.

_Einar._

I thought you were listening for something, while you lay there quiet as
a mouse. I thought you were listening for the earthquake.

_Frida._

Can one hear the earthquake when it is coming?

_Rannveig._

Are you afraid? Yes, sometimes it can be heard a little before the
shock. They say it sounds like the clatter of hoofs from many hundred
horses.

_Bjørg._

To me it sounded like the whistling of the wind.

_Jorunn._

You should sit down, Sveinungi. You'll get tired standing.

_Sveinungi._

I am not tired.

    (_Silence._)

_Frida._

What if the earth should open up right here where we are sitting?

_Rannveig._

It won't. Who told you that it might?

_Frida._

Jakobina said so.

_Rannveig._

You must not listen to all she says; she talks so much.

_Jakobina._

I say nothing but what is true. At the time of the last great earthquake
the ground cracked and made a fissure many miles long; I saw it myself.
The earth opened her mouth to breathe.

_Einar (to Frida)._

Don't be afraid. I have a black lamb-- do you remember it?-- with white
feet. When I get it home in the fall, I will give it to you.

_Jakobina_ (_facing the "hraun"_). Not one of you knows the _hraun_ as I
do. Can you tell me why the hollows out there are never filled with
snow? Have you ever seen the snow falling fast enough to cover even the
rims around them? It's the earth blowing her breath against it. The
earth sets traps for men; the earth is a man-eater.

_Jorunn (to Jakobina)._

You must not frighten the child.

    (_Silence._)

_Sveinungi._

Wasn't it you, Jakobina, who said that sometimes blood comes on the
window-panes? It bodes ill, they say.

_Jakobina._

Why do you ask? There is no one here who has seen it, is there?

_Sveinungi._

Never mind why I ask.

_Jakobina._

Well, if I must say it, it is a sign that some one in the house is going
to die soon.

_Sveinungi._

Or it might bode ill to the farm itself, maybe.

_Jakobina._

What do you mean?

_Sveinungi._

That it might be doomed.

_Jorunn._

Indeed, it means neither the one nor the other. It's nothing but a silly
old superstition.

_Sveinungi._

Not that I believe in it, but look at the windows. Don't they look as if
they were wet with blood?

_Jorunn._

It's the sun shining on them.

_Sveinungi._

And see the gables, how white they are. They don't look whiter from the
fields down yonder when you spread a cloth over them to call me home.

_Indridi (lowering his voice)._

Did you see the sheep-cot fall?

_Thora._

Yes, it happened just as we came out.

_Indridi._

What did Sveinungi say?

_Thora._

He said nothing.

_Indridi._

But he told us to move out here.

_Thora._

No, it was Jorunn who made us do it.

_Sveinungi (to Jorunn)._

I did not tell you that when I came into the _badstofa_, right after the
shock, our old clock had stopped running.

_Jorunn._

Was it broken?

_Sveinungi._

No, when I touched the pendulum it started again, but the place was
still as death when I entered. The grass on the roof cast a shadow over
the skylight. It was as quiet as when my father lay dead.

_Jorunn._

I think we had better go and lie down. There's nothing gained by staying
here any longer.

_Sveinungi._

I can't see that there was any need of moving out, but you had your way,
Jorunn.

_Jorunn._

I feel sure that they have done the same on all the other farms. We must
be thankful it is summer, so that we can stay outdoors.

_Sveinungi._

Must we be thankful? So you give thanks that my work is ruined.

_Jorunn._

We must take what comes, whether good or evil, and trouble may help us
to remember all the things we have neglected to give thanks for.

_Sveinungi._

I don't know but that I have always done my duty. I have built all the
sheep-cots; I have fenced in the land and looked after it as best I
could. I demand justice of Him up there.

_Jorunn (rising)._

I won't listen to such talk. Did you buy the land from Him, perhaps? And
what did you have to pay with that was not His already?

_Sveinungi._

You needn't mock me. You can walk all over the yard and cut your handful
of grass with your scissors wherever you like; it grows thick as wool
everywhere, and it's all my work.

_Jorunn._

Was it you who ruled the _hraun_ for thousands of years so that it did
not swallow up the bit of ground you are standing on, which you call
yours?    [_Goes into the tent._

_Sveinungi._

Which I call mine! (_Stamping his foot._) It is mine! I've bought the
land from Him up there with my work.

    (_The Servants rise._)

_Jon._

I believe the worst is over and that we shall be let off with the
fright.

_Indridi._

I hope so.

_Bjørg._

You can never tell. Remember what happened the time when more than
three-score farm-houses fell in one night.

_Thora._

It must have been dreadful.

_Sveinungi._

Now you must all go into the tent.

    [_The Servants go in._

_Jakobina._

I shouldn't wonder if something dreadful were to happen to the farm.
    [_Goes into the tent._

    (_Sveinungi stands quite still a little while, then walks
    a few steps, pauses, takes a few more steps, and again stops._)

      _Enter Ljot from the tent._

_Ljot._

Are you not coming, father? Mother told me to ask you to come in.

_Sveinungi._

Why doesn't she lie down? She need not wait for me.

_Ljot._

We are so frightened, father-- all of us.

      _Enter Jorunn from the tent._

_Jorunn._

It's getting cold.

_Ljot._

Yes, it is cold.

_Jorunn._

The sun has set.

_Sveinungi._

Why are you coming out again, Jorunn? Can't you sleep?

_Jorunn._

No, I can't sleep.

_Sveinungi._

Do you remember the night you thought I was lost in the snowstorm?
A light was burning in the upper window. To see it was better than
meeting a human being, and when the dogs began to bark behind the door,
it was just as if the house itself were speaking-- calling out its joy.
It sounded better to me than a human voice, and when I stepped into the
hall, the darkness seemed to put its arms around me. Never have I had so
sweet a welcome, not even when my daughter was a little child.

_Jorunn._

Ought we not to go in, Sveinungi? It's getting late. You too must go in
now, Ljot.

_Ljot._

I am only waiting for father.

_Jorunn._

Do you hear that, Sveinungi? Ljot is waiting for you, and the servants
can't sleep either before you go in.

_Sveinungi._

I am not going to stay in the tent to-night. I am going home.

_Jorunn._

You don't mean that!

_Ljot._

But, father dear!

_Sveinungi._

I won't let any foolish fear drive me out of my house, and it is nothing
but a foolish fear. The earthquake will not come so suddenly but that I
shall have time to get out. It's impossible. Besides, the _badstofa_
will hold. It's well built, though it's old.

_Jorunn._

Do you think the _badstofa_ will hold if there should come a big
earthquake? You cannot mean that!

_Sveinungi._

It is not at all sure there will be another shock. It's only a fancy
that the earthquake must needs keep on once it has begun. I believe it
is over; I feel it. (_During the last speeches the Servants have been
coming out of the tent._) What are you running out for? Go in, all of
you.

_Jakobina._

I must tell master about the dream I had. It was last night. I thought I
was standing out in the yard and saw a giant coming across the _hraun_.
He walked with long, unsteady strides (_she takes a few steps forward;
her voice sounds distant and threatening_), and seemed to grope as if he
were blind. Then I saw him standing right by the house-- with arms
stretched out; he bent down over the farm and stood there like a stone
cross. (_Makes the sign of the cross with her arms._)

_Sveinungi._

Did I ask you to tell me about your dream?

_Jorunn._

I beg of you, Sveinungi, that you do not stay at the house to-night.
It would be tempting God.

_Sveinungi._

It's rather He who is tempting me. If I ran away, it would serve me
right to have the house fall down. (_Pointing to the house._) There it
has stood waiting for me every evening as far back as I can remember.
I have seen the windows flaming in the sun. I have seen them wet with
rain. I have seen them white with frost. I've been with it ever since I
was a child. I have climbed on the roof as I climbed on my father's
shoulders. When I stood on the ridge, it seemed it had lifted me up to
let me see better. No, Jorunn, even if I knew the earthquake to be
coming, I should go home. Nor is it any wonder that I long to get into
my own bed. I am old now, and I have waked up there almost every morning
of my life. I have gone to bed so tired and worn that I could barely
stand on my feet and have waked up young and strong. I have been ill and
have lain there watching the sunbeams flitting across the floor.
    [_Sveinungi walks homeward._

_Jorunn._

Are you going home? (_Following him hurriedly._) Whatever happens, your
fate shall be mine.

_Sveinungi (stops and looks back)._

Do you hear that? She is not afraid, my wife.

    [_Sveinungi and Jorunn walk homeward._

_Ljot._

How can you do it, father? (_Walks a few steps away from the others and
remains standing there._)

_Jakobina._

God be with you, Jorunn, and with you, Sveinungi. You have been good to
me, these nineteen years.    [_Goes into the tent._

    (_Silence._)

_Helgi._

There, they went in.

_Bjørg._

Yes, they are in there now.

_Jon._

I think we had better go and lie down, since there is nothing we can do.

_Indridi._

No, we can do nothing.

_Thora._

It will be a long night.

_Rannveig._

Poor Ljot!

    [_The Servants walk slowly into the tent._

    (_Einar and Ljot remain. Silence._)

_Einar (goes to Ljot)._

I wish I could make you happy as easily now as when you were a little
girl.

_Ljot (struggling with her tears)._

Father does not care for me at all. He does not think of me for a
moment.

_Einar._

Your father cares for you, no doubt of that, but he is beside himself
with the earthquake.

_Ljot._

You don't know what I am talking about. (_In sudden fear._) If only
something dreadful does not happen!

_Einar._

We must trust to the Lord to keep us all. Won't you too try to lie down?

_Ljot._

I can't sleep.

_Einar._

Perhaps you would rather stay here a little while. Let me bring a shawl
for you; it is getting cold.    [_Goes into the tent._

    (_Ljot stands motionless looking out over the "hraun."_)

_Einar (coming from the tent)._

They are asleep in there already. Won't you put the shawl around your
shoulders?

_Ljot._

I am not cold.

_Einar._

Then I'll spread it over one of the rocks for you to sit on. They are
wet with dew. (_Spreads it over the stone._) There! What did you have in
mind when you stood there looking out over the _hraun_?

_Ljot._

I was thinking of an old tale Jakobina once told me. It was about a
young girl. She went out on the _hraun_ with bare feet to meet her
sweetheart, and wherever she stepped the moss grew under her foot.

_Einar._

That's a pretty story. I can tell you one too, if you care to hear it.
It might help to quiet you a little.

_Ljot (takes his hand)._

You are so good.

_Einar (sits down; relates)._

In olden times, they say, there was an underground stream that ran
straight through the country from south to north and was meant as a
sign of truce between land and sea. It happened that a cross-eyed,
ill-natured shark was trying to tempt a young whale to swim that stream
from end to end. The whale's name was Spray-tail. He was the handsomest
of all the young whales and could shoot three jets of water at once. The
shark boasted that he had swum through the stream himself, but of course
it was only real fishes that could do it. Spray-tail felt stung on
behalf of his kin, and as the shark had told him that there were
openings here and there in the roof of this underground way, he made up
his mind to try his luck, trusting that he could hold his breath from
one opening to another. But it fell out otherwise. Spray-tail never came
back. The last ever heard of him was that some swans, in their flight
over the hills, had seen a jet of blood spurting out of the ground.

The whales were in a rage and, as they thought in their grief that the
land had broken truce, they goaded the sea to wreak vengeance upon it.
Are you listening?

    (_Ljot nods her head._)

One night a dreadful storm broke. The sea came rushing in over the land,
fell upon the rocks like a monster, and tore them to pieces. The next
morning thousands of sea fowls' nests were wrecked, and where green
fields had been there were black sands. Now there was sore need of wise
counsel. A shrewd old raven said that the fire should be roused. All the
birds agreed that the raven had spoken well, but none dared do the deed.
The raven was made judge, and decided that the spider should undertake
the ticklish task, and that the eagle should carry her to the crater.

They gave the spider ten fat blue-flies to take with her. She spun
herself well and firmly under some strong feathers, and off they went.
They flew over deep dales, over dreary wastes, and over glaciers. In the
evening they came to the fire-mountain, and there they rested overnight,
but they did not sleep much, for the fire was snoring like a giant down
below in the earth. Early the next morning the eagle flew to the top of
the mountain. The spider made fast her thread and spun herself slowly
down into the crater. It was dark down there, and the heat and sulphur
made her eyes smart, but she could see enough to make out that the fire
lay sleeping under a very thin black coverlet. The spider knew nothing
but the finger-language, and she moved her legs incessantly, telling
fully and truly all about the havoc that was wrought, and urging the
fire to come to the rescue lest the whole land be swallowed up by the
sea. Yet the fire did not stir. Then the spider bent her legs up under
her and let herself fall all the way down to the fire. She stretched out
one leg and poked the black coverlet. From that moment she couldn't
remember anything till she was lying at the rim of the crater again. She
peeped down and saw that the fire had thrown off the coverlet and was
red and blazing. Then the spider understood that her task was done.
Everybody knows how the fire had its reckoning with the sea and filled
up whole fjords with lava and ashes.

    (_Sølvi is seen approaching from the "hraun."_)

_Ljot (rising)._

You must tell me that story over again some time. I could not listen
rightly.

_Einar (rising)._

Who is that coming so late? (_Looking._) Now I know him; it's Sølvi.

_Ljot._

I saw him a while ago walking over the _hraun_.

_Einar._

He may bring us news.

      _Enter Sølvi carrying a gun and with a game-bag on his back._

_Sølvi._

Good evening.

_Einar._

Good evening.

_Sølvi._

How good it seems to meet people! You have moved out, of course?

_Einar._

You are walking late.

_Sølvi._

You will have to take the earthquake as my excuse. This has been a bad
day. What has happened here at your place?

_Einar._

One of the outbuildings came down and a part of the yard-fence.

_Sølvi._

At Hol one wall of the house fell. The folks barely got out. (_Lays down
his gun._)

_Einar._

Was anybody hurt?

_Sølvi._

No. I could not stay there any longer. I saw your house standing, and
that was a relief. (_Looking at Ljot._) Yet I had to come.

_Einar._

What do you think? Do you believe the earthquake is over?

    (_Sølvi fails to answer; looks at Ljot._)

_Ljot._

My father and mother are sleeping in the house.

_Sølvi._

Why in the world are they doing that!

_Ljot._

We were ready to go to bed, but father would not come into the tent.
Mother begged him to stay, but it was no use, and when father went back
to the house, mother went with him.

_Sølvi._

But the buildings may fall at any moment if there should be another
shock.

_Einar._

Sveinungi knows that as well as we do, but he would not let the house
stand forsaken.

_Sølvi._

We must hope that no harm will come to them. So that is why you are
still up. Have the others been in bed long?

_Ljot._

No, they went in a little while ago.

_Einar._

May I look at your gun?

_Sølvi._

As much as you like.

_Einar._

Is it loaded?

_Sølvi._

It is. (_To Ljot._) You are not angry with me for coming so late? It
seemed an eternity till Sunday.

_Ljot._

I knew you would come.

_Sølvi._

You knew it! Won't you sit down? I have something to show you. (_Ljot
sits down. Sølvi opens the game-bag; takes from it a large fern._)
I found this out on the _hraun_. Is it not beautiful? (_Sits down._)
Look, the stem is no thicker than a hair, while the leaf can easily hide
your whole face. (_Holds it up before her face._) It trembles when your
breath touches it.

_Ljot._

You have pulled it up by the roots. May I have the moss that came with
it? (_Sølvi loosens the moss from the roots. Ljot lays it in her hand;
smiles._) When it withers, I'll keep it in my shoes.

_Sølvi._

Will you keep it in your shoes? See these two small ferns on one root.
They look like two slim hands. (_Looks at Ljot._)

_Einar (puts the gun aside)._

It's a fine one. It must have cost a good deal. Perhaps you bought it
yourself abroad?

_Sølvi._

I did. (_Lays down the fern. To Ljot._) If you have time, you can plant
it to-morrow. It won't hurt it to lie overnight in the wet grass.

_Einar (goes to Sølvi)._

How long were you abroad?

_Sølvi._

Seven years.

_Einar._

That's a long time. (_Sits down._)

_Ljot._

My father was angry with me for keeping your bird's skin.

_Sølvi._

Was he? And I was thinking of asking you to visit me at Hol some time
before I leave.

_Ljot._

I hardly think I dare to.

_Sølvi._

You could take Einar with you. It is not much more than an hour's ride,
and I have a number of things I should like to show you,-- petrified
tree-trunks that I have dug out of the earth, in which you can see
plainly every bud and shoot, and stone slabs with impressions of flowers
and leaves that lived thousands of years ago. Should you like to see
them?

_Ljot._

I should like it ever so much.

_Sølvi._

I have some rocks, too, baked by fire and furrowed by ice. If you knew
all the tales they tell me! They lay bare to me things that are hidden
from every one else.

    (_A whirring of wings is heard far away._)

_Einar (stands up, pointing with his finger)._

Look, there is a flock of ducks flying over the _hraun_. (_Stands
gazing._)

_Sølvi (in a low voice)._

It made me so happy to see you. This evening, when the sun was setting,
I reached out toward it. I did the same when I saw you.

_Einar._

They're flying unusually low. There they alight-- I'll get my gun.

_Sølvi (rising)._

I'll lend you mine. (_Hands him the gun._) It will carry a distance of a
hundred and thirty feet.

_Einar._

What size shot have you?

_Sølvi._

Duck-shot.

_Einar._

Ljot, you don't mind, do you? I shall not be gone long. If they rise,
I'm not going after them.    [_Exit._

    (_Ljot rises._)

_Sølvi (goes to her)._

My star must be in the heavens to-night.

_Ljot._

You must not think that I was sitting up so late because I was waiting
for you-- I saw you walking over the _hraun_-- but we shan't talk about
that.

_Sølvi._

Shall I tell you why I came home from abroad? It was for your sake.

_Ljot (sits down)._

That is not true.

_Sølvi (sits down)._

One night, the last winter I was away, I must have been dreaming, but it
seemed to me that I was awake. I had come back home and was walking on
the _hraun_. The _hraun_ was covered with ashes. As I walked, I suddenly
fell into a deep cleft and kept on falling and falling. At last I found
myself lying on the bottom, unable to stir. Death came and sucked the
life out of my eyes and held it in her hand like a tiny flame. Suddenly
a woman stood beside me dressed in moss. She pleaded for me so long that
death gave her my life. She looked like you. It was you. Don't you know
that you hold my life in your hands?

    (_They rise._)

_Ljot._

I think I shall go in. It is hard to tell when Einar will be back. When
he is out hunting he forgets everything.

_Sølvi._

I love you, Ljot! You have not been out of my thoughts since the first
time I saw you. Everything reminds me of you-- the sun, the sky--

_Ljot._

I too have been happy in seeing you and talking with you. (_Stands still
as death._) This morning, right after you had gone, my father told me
that on his way home from town he had seen his old friend,-- and my
father wanted me to promise myself to the son of his old friend, but I
would not, because I was thinking of you. Then my mother came and talked
to me-- and I gave in. I could not do anything else.

_Sølvi._

Why did I not speak before! You won't feel hurt at what I say, Ljot? You
must not let your parents decide your life. That is for you to do.

_Ljot._

You don't know my father. If he thought I was standing here talking to
you, I can't tell what he would do.

_Sølvi._

I am convinced your parents have but one wish, and that is for your
happiness.

_Ljot._

I don't know. My mother does not say much about happiness; she does her
duty-- and I know mine. (_Turns toward the tent._)

_Sølvi._

Are you going?

_Ljot._

It is better that we two should not meet again-- it would only cause us
suffering. (_Moves away._)

_Sølvi (following her)._

You don't realize what you are about to do! You will be committing a
terrible crime-- against all the wonderful days that life meant us two
to have together. For you do care for me, Ljot, don't you? (_Ljot is
silent._) I thought you cared for me. When you spoke to me this morning
you blushed, and I thought it was your heart that gave me its promise.
The joy of it overwhelmed me.

_Ljot._

It matters little whom I care for. I have given my word.

_Sølvi._

You think it is your duty to keep your word, but there is another duty
that is far greater, and that is to open your arms to happiness when it
comes. There is no greater duty. It is the meaning of our existence. You
must feel that, you who have grown like a flower out of the earth!

_Ljot._

It is not only that I have given my word. If I had neither father nor
mother, I should break my promise, but I know that it would grieve my
parents. This morning father said to me that it was the happiest day of
his life since he got my mother, and I know it was true.

_Sølvi._

You must tell your parents that you cannot keep your word. You must do
it for my sake. (_Kneeling._) You are the only one I care for in all the
world.

_Ljot._

I can't deal such a blow to my father. No other living being has been so
good to me as my father.

_Sølvi (rising)._

You do not care for me at all.

_Ljot._

You think it is easy for me! (_With tears in her eyes._) I own a
spring-- I cleanse it every Saturday. I have told it your name. (_Goes
to the tent._)

_Sølvi._

You are going! (_Turns away from Ljot, sits down on one of the rocks,
covers his face._)

_Ljot (stands silent for a long time, then goes over to him and takes
his hands from his face)._

I love you.

    (_Sølvi takes her face between his hands and kisses her._)

      _Enter Jakobina._

_Jakobina (coming slowly from the tent)._

We are not all asleep in there.

    (_Sølvi and Ljot rise._)

_Sølvi (holding Ljot by the hand)._

Let us go out on the _hraun_ and look for Einar.

_Ljot_ (_runs to Jakobina, puts her arms around Jakobina's neck and
holds her close_). I know that you care for me. (_Goes to Sølvi and
takes his hand._) Come!

    [_They go toward the "hraun."_

    (_Jakobina stands still, following them with her eyes, then
    shakes her head and turns toward the tent._)



ACT III


_The farm-house is in ruins. Only the farther side of the "badstofa" is
standing. It looks like a dark cavern. The servants have gathered near
the wreckage; they are bare-headed, the men in their shirt-sleeves.
Sveinungi is standing near the dark opening._

_It is night._


_Sveinungi (to Jon)._

You dare not go in.

_Jon (peering into the gloom)._

I don't know. There's only one post that holds the roof, and it may snap
at any moment.

_Sveinungi._

It won't. It is drift-timber, which never rots.

_Jon._

And besides, it stands aslant; the slightest push would make it go with
a crash, and there would be no getting out alive if the heavy roof came
down.

_Sveinungi._

You are afraid. Is there anybody else who dares?

_Jorunn._

You cannot ask any man to go in there.

_Sveinungi (to Jon)._

It would take you but a moment to bring out those few things. There's my
tall chest-- you know where it stands-- and my old clock; you can
unscrew it from the wall with your knife.

_Jon._

I am not going in there.

_Sveinungi._

Get drunk and brag-- that you know how to do, all of you. (_Starts into
the ruins._)

_Jon._

Is master going in there?

_Sveinungi._

Do you think I will let my things be ruined, because you are a coward?

_Jon._

Then I will go with you. It's easier for two.

    [_Sveinungi and Jon disappear from view._

_Jorunn._

No matter what happens to that man, he will never learn to bend. (_Goes
to the ruins; looks in._) Can you see anything in there? Is it not too
dark?

    (_Silence._)

_Sveinungi and Jon appear, carrying the tall chest._

_Sveinungi._

Indridi and you, Helgi, come here and take it from us. Set it over
there.

    [_Sveinungi and Jon disappear again._

_Indridi (to Jorunn, as the men carry the chest out into the open)._

Can we leave it here?

_Jorunn._

Yes. (_She peers into the ruins again._)

      _Enter Jakobina from the direction of the tent._

_Jakobina_ (_goes to Jorunn, lays her hand on Jorunn's shoulder_).
I must feel that you are indeed safe and sound. (_Stroking her arm._)
When you went home, I was afraid that you would never come out of that
house again. I thought your husband must be struck with blindness.

_Jorunn._

You don't know where Einar and Ljot have gone?

_Jakobina._

I saw Ljot going out on the _hraun_.

_Sveinungi and Jon appear, carrying the clock._

_Sveinungi._

You will have to be a little careful, the glass is broken. (_Steps out
into the open. To Jon._) I dare say you have had enough of this.

_Jon._

I can't say it was any too cheerful in there.

_Sveinungi (to the men)._

You can carry the clock into the tent; the dampness here might be bad
for it. And you, Bjørg, go and get a blanket to spread over the chest.

    [_Exeunt Servants, Bjørn running, Indridi and Helgi carrying
    the clock, Jakobina following them._

_Jorunn._

You are lucky, Sveinungi, that you have not come to grief with your
foolhardiness.

_Sveinungi._

It is nothing but my duty to care as best I can for what is mine. I have
risked my life before in a good deal worse dangers than this. But I must
send some one to look after the boy. He may have lost all the sheep.
Will you go, Jon?

_Jon._

I will.

_Sveinungi._

You had better drive the sheep home.

_Jorunn._

And if you should see Ljot and Einar, tell them to hurry.

_Jon._

I will.    [_Exit._

_Sveinungi._

Where are they?

_Jorunn._

They are out on the _hraun_.

      _Enter Bjørg, carrying a blanket._

_Bjørg._

Here is the blanket.

_Sveinungi._

Why did they go out there? (_Takes the blanket, goes to the chest, and
runs his hand over it._) Here it's been bruised. (_Throws the blanket
over it._) I did not think you would have all this to go through.
(_Takes a long breath._) It is pretty hard when one has grown as old as
I am to see one's work destroyed.

_Jorunn._

That is true.

_Sveinungi._

My only comfort is that I shall have a capable man to help me put up the
buildings again. (_Gazing over the "hraun."_) What can it be that is
keeping Ljot out there? Has she been gone long?

_Rannveig._

I don't know.

_Sveinungi._

I hope she has not gone down into one of the fissures. One can't tell
what may happen. The walls might cave in, or they might close overhead.

      _Enter Indridi from the direction of the tent._

_Indridi._

Einar and Ljot are coming now. We could see them from the tent.

_Sveinungi._

Are they coming? (_Goes toward the background._) Yes, Ljot has seen us;
she is running.

_Jorunn._

She must have thought we were buried under the ruins.

_Sveinungi (looking)._

There is a third person with them. Who can it be?

_Rannveig._

So there is.

_Indridi._

I believe it's Sølvi.

_Sveinungi._

What business has he out there at night?

_Indridi._

It's hard to tell!

_Sveinungi._

I do hope that Ljot has not been talking to that fellow.

      _Enter Helgi from the direction of the tent._

    (_Silence._)

      _Enter Ljot, running._

_Ljot (puts her arms around her mother)._

I was so frightened!

_Jorunn._

Were you frightened? You are quite out of breath with running.

_Sveinungi (smiling)._

And have you no greeting for your father?

_Ljot._

Dear, dear father! (_Embraces him._)

_Sveinungi._

You were glad when you saw us?

_Ljot._

I was so glad that I don't know yet what I am saying. I was afraid you
had been caught under the ruins. I thought that was to be my punishment.

_Sveinungi (stroking her hair)._

Have you done anything you should be punished for?

_Ljot (taking his hand)._

Be fond of me, father! Be very, very fond of me!

      _Enter Einar and Sølvi._

_Einar._

Thank God, you are safe! Then you had time to get out?

_Jorunn._

No, we were in there.

_Ljot._

Were you in there? (_Goes to the ruins._) How weird it looks!

_Sveinungi (goes to the ruins)._

It is only the one post that holds it all. If that had snapped, you
would never have laid eyes on us again.

_Einar (looks into the ruins)._

It's a miracle it didn't break.

_Jorunn._

Yes, if it had not been God's will, we should not be here now.

_Einar (turns from the ruins)._

It was not any too cheerful out on the _hraun_ either. The place seemed
suddenly to have become alive.

_Sveinungi._

What in the world made you go out there?

_Einar._

There was a flock of ducks flying over the _hraun_, and I wanted to try
a shot at them.

_Sveinungi (to Ljot)._

And why did you go with him?

_Ljot._

I was not with him. Sølvi and I stayed behind.

_Sveinungi._

Do you sit alone with a stranger in the middle of the night? (_To
Sølvi._) And you, why are you here at this time? I will not have you go
hunting on my land without asking my leave.

_Sølvi._

I was not hunting on your land.

_Sveinungi._

But you are picking up stones, and I forbid you to take as much as a
single pebble from my land. Now you know that.

_Ljot._

Why do you say that, father?

_Sveinungi._

You can go into the tent, Ljot. You have nothing to do here.

_Ljot._

I have something to say to you.

_Sveinungi._

What is it? (_Ljot is silent. To the Servants._) You can go. To-morrow I
shall have a talk with you, Einar, which you will remember.

_Einar._

It was not my fault.

_Sveinungi (to the Servants)._

Go! What are you waiting for?    [_Exeunt Servants._

_Sveinungi (to Ljot)._

Now, what is it you have to say to me?

_Sølvi._

I have come here to ask for the hand of your daughter.

_Sveinungi._

Has not my daughter told you that she is betrothed?

_Ljot._

I have told him everything. I never cared for Halfdan-- you know that,
father, and I will not be his wife.

_Jorunn._

Ljot, it has never happened yet that one of my kin has broken faith.
If you do it, you will be the first.

_Sveinungi._

And you have not reckoned with your father. It does not lie altogether
with yourself to break your word. Do you think you can make a fool of
me? (_To Sølvi._) It does not make you my son-in-law that you have
trifled with my daughter.

_Sølvi._

It was no mere chance that we two found each other. Only for Ljot's sake
have I stayed so long in these parts. I came here to-night to find out
how you had fared; I could not help it.

_Sveinungi._

You feel proud that you have coaxed a young girl to break her word. You
think yourself very brave, and you have taken advantage of her when she
was beside herself with fear. You have come like a thief in the dead of
night.

_Sølvi._

I love your daughter. There is nothing wrong in that, and I am proud and
happy that she has given me her heart.

_Sveinungi (to Ljot)._

So that is what you have done. I dare say you have met him before and
more than once behind my back.

_Ljot._

Not once.

_Sveinungi._

And straightway you are ready to break your word. You knew that
Halfdan's father is the best friend I have.

_Ljot._

You must forgive me, father!

_Sveinungi._

And you knew I had sent him word that everything was settled.

_Ljot (takes his hand)._

Do you remember, father, when I was so little that I had to put my arms
around your knee? Then you never said no when I asked you for anything.
I am still your little girl.

_Sveinungi._

Let me go!

_Ljot._

You do care for me, father. I know of no one who has been so good to me
as you. You have given me everything that I call my own. You must give
me my happiness!

_Sveinungi._

Let go my hand!

_Jorunn._

I understand that Sølvi is very dear to you, my child, but this comes
upon us unawares, and it has been a terrible night for us all. (_To
Sølvi._) Could you not have waited before speaking to Sveinungi?

_Sølvi._

I cannot help it that it has come in this way. I would have waited if I
could.

_Jorunn._

I might perhaps have seen my way to put in a good word for you two. (_To
Sveinungi._) You won't be hard on your daughter! If we had been lying
under the ruins now, she would have had no need to ask us. To-night we
must not be merciless.

_Sveinungi._

Who is this man? I don't know him, nor do I know his people.

_Sølvi._

My father was a farmer like yourself. Had he been living, you two might
have become friends.

_Sveinungi (interrupting)._

The only thing I know about you is that you go about picking up stones
like the children.

_Sølvi._

You speak slightingly of my stones, but the knowledge I gain from them
can bring me more money than you ever made on your farm, and it can
bring me fame.

_Sveinungi._

What kind of knowledge is that?

_Sølvi._

Those stones teach me to know my country and how it has been built by
fire and water and ice. They give me an opportunity of finding out new
links in laws that are eternal and mightier than all mankind.

_Sveinungi._

Indeed! Since you are so passing wise, you ought to have told me days
ago that a great earthquake would come to-night. _That_ I could have
understood; but it seems that you knew as little there as the rest of
us. I believe old Jakobina is wiser than you.

_Sølvi._

I don't know how wise she is, but I do know of people who go through
life as if they were blind. They may have been living in the same place
all their lives, and yet they have never seen the landscape they live
with-- neither its beauty nor its peculiar character.

_Sveinungi._

They haven't? (_Points toward the "hraun."_) I have been out there in a
snowstorm so heavy that I could scarcely see a hand before me, and shall
I tell you how I found my way? I knew where I was by feeling before me
with my hands. (_Laughs._) No, I have never seen the _hraun_!

_Sølvi._

I did not say that you were among the blind, and I am sure you are human
enough not to force your daughter to marry against her will. It would
not give you much joy to feel that you had made her unhappy for her
whole life. If you think you do not know me well enough, you can find
out all you wish from myself or from others.

_Sveinungi._

I have no desire to learn anything about you, and you need not worry
about my daughter. She will stay here with me.

_Sølvi._

Ljot is not a child any longer. She can decide for herself.

_Sveinungi._

Perhaps you think she can't live without you. (_To Ljot._) If you care
as much for him as he imagines, I will let you prove it. I will let you
choose between him and me. If you choose him, then I have no daughter
any more.

_Ljot._

You don't mean to force me to such a choice!

_Sveinungi._

Can you for a single moment be in doubt about whom to choose of us two--
him or your old father?

_Ljot (kneeling)._

He is so unutterably dear to me.

_Sveinungi._

Get up! I don't want to see you lying like a dog at my feet.

_Ljot (rising)._

Then you have no daughter.

_Sølvi._

I knew you would not fail me!

_Jorunn._

You had better give your consent, Sveinungi, since it cannot be
otherwise. I cannot do without my only child.

_Sveinungi (goes to Ljot)._

You are quite free, Ljot; I will not try to force you, but when you have
thought it over, you will not leave your father and mother for the sake
of a stranger. You are my only child, and you have been the light of my
eyes since you were a little tot. When I came home from work I was never
too tired to listen to what you had to say. When you stroked my cheek it
was like warm summer rain falling on my face. It will be lonely and
empty here if you go. You cannot do it.

_Ljot._

Father, it is you who drive me away.

_Sveinungi._

You must listen to me. It has always been my intention that you should
take the farm, and yesterday when you promised to marry Halfdan it
seemed to me that all my wishes had been fulfilled. I was happy, and not
only for your sake, but fully as much for the farm. Yet you would leave
it now in the midst of misfortune. Look about you! Not a single building
is standing. Can you let your old father sit here alone and forsaken?
You might as well kill your father. And for whom should I build it up
again if you are not to have it? It might as well be left to rot on the
ground.

_Ljot._

You don't know, father, how much I care for him. I used to dream often
that the mountains fell so that I could see the land beyond. To-night it
seemed to me that the mountains fell.

_Sveinungi._

You are a wilful girl. (_To Sølvi._) Could you think of taking over my
farm, perhaps?

_Sølvi._

I could not--

_Sveinungi (interrupting)._

Do you two believe that you can cow me? (_Pointing to the ruins._) There
is a chest of drawers in there that Ljot keeps her clothes in. I will
have nothing of hers in my house. (_To Sølvi._) Will you go in there
with me and bring it out?

_Sølvi._

I have nothing to do in there.

_Sveinungi._

You can go, Ljot. I can't bear to see you. (_Goes over to the ruins;
stands resting his hands on the walls._)

_Sølvi (takes Ljot by the hand quietly)._

It is better that we leave your parents alone for a little while.
    [_Exeunt._

_Jorunn._

You will have to give your consent, Sveinungi. You say yourself that all
you have done has been for your daughter.

_Sveinungi_ (_turns to Jorunn, passing his earth-stained hand over his
forehead_). Did you understand what I was about to do? I wanted to get
him into the ruins, and then I meant to give the post a shove.

_Jorunn._

God forgive you, man!

_Sveinungi._

Now we two must hold together. If we two are of one mind, I believe Ljot
will give in. You must try to bring her to her senses.

_Jorunn._

They are very fond of each other. It warmed my heart to see them. It
brought back the days of my own youth. I feel sure it would be a sin to
try to part those two.

_Sveinungi._

And you say that!

_Jorunn._

I think it was her fate to meet this man. She has always been a good and
dutiful daughter.

_Sveinungi._

And it was you who went with me into the house! Have you turned against
me-- you too?

_Jorunn (goes to him)._

You must not make the evil worse than it really is. The man looks as if
he came of good people, and we have every reason to believe that he is a
capable man. Even if we can't keep Ljot here, as we had hoped to do, she
will certainly find time to come and see us once in a while, and we
shall have that to look forward to.

_Sveinungi._

You think only of your daughter. It is nothing to you if my life-work is
wasted. I could name you many farms that have been an ornament to the
neighborhood as long as they have been handed down from man to man in
the same family, but once they have passed into other hands, they have
been tended in a makeshift way or left to go to rack and ruin
altogether. You have seen those old forlorn places, where the site is
overgrown with grass, and the heather has been allowed to spread all
over the yard. They remind me of graves. I tell you the truth: if such a
fate were in store for my farm, I should wish for nothing but to be
lying under the ruins myself.

_Jorunn._

Who says that your farm will not be rebuilt! You are not so old that you
cannot do it without help. If I know you rightly, you always grow
younger and stronger whenever there is anything that needs all your
powers. In a year or two you will have the buildings up again every bit
as fine as before.

_Sveinungi._

Spare your wheedling! What would be the use, even though I got the
houses up again? When my days are over, everything will pass into the
hands of careless people. And to think that this should happen only
because of a fleeting fancy!

_Jorunn._

Did it seem to you like a passing whim when Ljot was begging for your
consent? To me it seemed that she was pleading for her life.

_Sveinungi._

Even though this should mean more to my daughter than I think it does,
that can alter nothing. It is my right to care for my home and keep it
intact even after I am gone. When I am standing out in the _hraun_ and
looking toward home, the green yard looks like a spot of sunshine.

_Jorunn._

You take it for granted that none of your kin will ever reap the benefit
of your work, but your daughter is not dead, though she has chosen
another man than the one you wanted her to marry. Why should not those
two have children? They are both strong and healthy, and there is, after
all, a chance that some day one of their sons may take over the farm.

_Sveinungi._

I dare say a son of his would be the right man!

_Jorunn._

A daughter's son is often more like his grandfather than his father. You
know that as well as I.

_Sveinungi._

You are like a child playing with soap-bubbles. When one breaks, you are
straightway ready to blow a new one. You can't make me play at that
game. Even though they should have children, do I know how they would
turn out? And you see it the same way yourself, but you are trying to
fool me into giving my consent.

_Jorunn._

What do you gain even if you have your way and part those two? You may
bring it about that your daughter becomes one of those sour old maids;
for you cannot mean to drag her to the altar against her will.

_Sveinungi._

I didn't expect you to be against me. You wouldn't mind leaving the
farm, if you could live with your daughter. You care more for her than
for me.

_Jorunn (her voice growing husky)._

Why do you say this, Sveinungi? I have never weighed my feelings for you
two, nor do I intend to do it. I only know that where you are, there I
stay too.

_Sveinungi._

Even this very earth upon my hand is dear to me. I care for it as the
old house-leek would if she could feel. As for the young man whom you
think so much of, I should have grudged him even to have the earth fall
on his face. But you were not born here, as I was. You have not lived
here as a child. You are an outsider.

_Jorunn._

Am I an outsider! I am grown too old to kneel before you as your
daughter did, but if you send her away, I know that even though you
build your house both larger and finer, the room will seem less light to
me, and the smile will be gone from my face. Can you not spare me the
sorrow of losing my only child?

_Sveinungi._

I thought you knew me well enough not to tease me with bootless prayers.
What I have said stands.

_Jorunn._

I don't know what gives you the right to be so heartless. You were
tempting God when you went into the house, but He had mercy on you and
spared your life, and the very first thing you do is an act of cruelty.
(_Bursts out sobbing._)

_Sveinungi._

Don't take to crying, wife.

_Jorunn (weeping; sits down on one of the stones that have been torn
from the wall by the earthquake)._

I don't see how I am going to live through it if you send her away.

_Sveinungi (stands puzzled for a moment, then goes to her)._

I understand that you take this very much to heart. Do go into the tent
now and lie down. We must try to get over this as best we can.

_Jorunn (rising)._

I am sure I have lost my daughter forever. (_Weeps._)

_Sveinungi (takes her hands and kisses her on the cheek)._

I have always said good night to you with a kiss. You have been a good
wife to me. I little thought, when you went with me into the house, that
you should cry yourself to sleep this very night because of me. (_Jorunn
clings to him, weeping. Sveinungi releases himself suddenly._) Listen to
what I say. You shall not leave me this way. Now you can go to the young
folks and tell them that I give my consent. (_Moves a little away._) But
it will be on one strict condition. (_Jorunn wipes her eyes on her
apron._) They must promise me that if they have a son, he shall be
brought up here with us.

_Jorunn (her face lighting up)._

I believe this thought was sent you by Him who showed mercy upon you
this night.

_Sveinungi._

Even if it should be their only child. (_Goes to Jorunn._) And you can
tell them that it is only for your sake I yield. Now you won't cry any
more?

_Jorunn._

God bless you! How happy Ljot will be! (_Turns to go._)

_Sveinungi._

You needn't be in such a hurry. I don't care to have the young folks see
that you have been crying. And one thing more; Sølvi must not come here
until I send him word. I want to explain to my old friend how all this
has come about.

_Jorunn._

Sølvi will understand. (_Sits down, very still, with her hands in her
lap, gazing straight before her._) And the boy is to be named Sveinungi.
(_Unconsciously she passes her right hand back and forth over the edge
of the stones._)

_Sveinungi._

Yes, they can well be used again, the old stones. Now you had better go
to Ljot.

_Jorunn (rising, pats his arm)._

Yes, yes, I am going, and I am happy.    [_Exit._

    (_Sveinungi stands for a moment looking after her, then bends
    down over the stones, examining them closely. He turns over
    one stone-- and one more-- _)



  [Transcriber's Note:

  The following songs were printed with musical notation (melody only).
  The HTML version of this e-text includes the songs in three forms:
  raw lilypond (.ly extension, can be converted to other formats),
  .pdf (image), and MIDI (sound). Some sites will allow you to download
  these files individually; if so, look in the "files" directory
  associated with the HTML text. The first "Folk Melody" appears under
  the name "Lullaby".]


_Kari's Song_

  Far in the hills I wandered; softly shone the summer night,
  And the sun had ne'er a thought of sleeping.
  Now will I bring my sweetheart dear the hidden treasure bright,
  For faithfully my vows I would be keeping.
  Heigh, ho! New and fine my stockings are, new and fine my shoes,
  And not a care in all the world to plague me!


_Icelandic Folk Melody_

  Sweetly sleep, my dear young love,
  Outside rain is falling,
  Mother safely away will stow
  Horse and sheep and swan and dove.
  Then we'll rest, we two, for night is calling.


_Icelandic Folk Melody_

  Have you seen a brave young lad?
  'Tis my friend,
  Dearest friend;
  'Mongst all men in byrnie clad
  The bonniest is he.
  I have smiled my teeth all white and shining,
  I have smiled my teeth all white and shining with glee.


NOTE: _The Editors are responsible for the translation of the lyrics._



PUBLICATIONS OF

THE AMERICAN-SCANDINAVIAN FOUNDATION

ESTABLISHED BY NIELS POULSON, 1911


COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATIONS

WILLIAM HENRY SCHOFIELD, Professor of Comparative Literature in Harvard
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ARTHUR HUBBELL PALMER, Professor of the German Language and Literature
in Yale University

HENRY GODDARD LEACH, Secretary of the Foundation



SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS


I. _Comedies by Holberg_: _Jeppe of the Hill_, _The Political Tinker_,
_Erasmus Montanus_

Translated from the Danish by OSCAR JAMES CAMPBELL, JR., and FREDERIC
SCHENCK, with an Introduction by OSCAR JAMES CAMPBELL, JR. 1914. xv +
178 pages. Price $1.50

To the American-Scandinavian Foundation the English reading public is
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attempt at "revival." Ludvig Holberg is too lusty to admit of reviving;
he still lives, and most heartily at that. _New York Times._


II. _Poems by Tegnér_: _The Children of the Lord's Supper_, _Frithiof's
Saga_

Translated from the Swedish by HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, and by Rev.
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xxvii + 207 pages. Price $1.50

The life of Tegnér was for the most part a happy one, and this happiness
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III. _Poems and Songs by Björnstjerne Björnson_

Translated from the Norwegian in the Original Meters, with an
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Lovers of Björnson will be grateful to the translator for the
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he has left the hewn stones of Björnson's lines in their native
ruggedness instead of attempting to reduce them to a brick-and-mortar
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IV. _Master Olof by August Strindberg_

Translated from the Swedish, with an Introduction, by EDWIN BJÖRKMAN.
1915. xxiii + 125 pages. Price $1.50

In Strindberg's presentation of his hero, Olof becomes the prototype of
all idealistic reformers, uncompromising at moments as Ibsen's Brand,
but more living than he because more subtly studied in his moods of
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V. _The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson_

Translated from the Icelandic, with an Introduction, by ARTHUR GILCHRIST
BRODEUR. 1916. xxii + 266 pages. Price $1.50


VI. _Modern Icelandic Plays_: _Eyvind of the Hills_, _The Hraun Farm_,
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Translated from the Danish by HENNINGE KROHN SCHANCHE. 1916. xii + 134
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SCANDINAVIAN MONOGRAPHS


I. _The Voyages of the Norsemen to America_

By WILLIAM HOVGAARD. With eighty-three Illustrations and seven Maps.
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There has always been a peculiar fascination for the student of American
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following of the scientific method, should go a long way toward its
completion.... Professor Hovgaard has made the best complete exposition
up to date of the voyages of the Norsemen to America. _Boston
Transcript._


II. _Ballad Criticism in Scandinavia and Great Britain during the
Eighteenth Century_

By SIGURD BERNHARD HUSTVEDT. 1916. ix + 335 pages. Price $3.00

He has attempted to trace the development of interest in popular ballads
as reflected in Scandinavian, English, and Scottish criticism
particularly during the eighteenth century.... Mr. Hustvedt's book is
not only valuable by reason of the research and the judicially critical
spirit; it is written in a manner that should interest the general
reader. _Boston Herald._



THE AMERICAN-SCANDINAVIAN REVIEW

The Review is an illustrated magazine, published bi-monthly, presenting
the progress of life and literature in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

  Volume I, 1913. 192 pages. Price $5.00
  Volume II, 1914. 320 pages. Price $3.00
  Volume III, 1915. 384 pages. Price $2.50

The REVIEW has an admirable array of articles, and it is hoped will be
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resources of culture also. _Chicago Tribune._

  _For information regarding the above volumes, address the_
  SECRETARY OF THE AMERICAN-SCANDINAVIAN FOUNDATION
  _25 West 45th Street, New York City_



       *       *       *       *       *



Errata noted by transcriber:

... sympathetic cooperation to good ends.
  _paragraph-ending period (full stop) missing_

Do you know when they will come to catch the thief!
  _punctuation unchanged_





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