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- Early Plays - 30/50 -
ARNE. 'Tis not, Lady Kirsten, for you to say so! We two have an old account to settle; it is not the first time that you set your cunning traps for me and mine. The race of Guldvik has long had to suffer, when you and your kinsmen plotted deception and guile. Power we had,--we had wealth and property too; but you were too crafty for us. You knew how to lure us with wily words and ready speech,--those are wares I am little able to reckon as I should.
LADY KIRSTEN. Lord Arne! Hear me, I pray!
ARNE. [Continuing.] Now I see clearly that I have behaved like the man who built his house on the ice-floe: a thaw came on and down he went to the bottom. But you shall have little joy of this. I shall hold you to account, Lady Kirsten! You must answer for your son; you it was who made love for him, and your affair it will be to keep the word you have given me! A fool I was, aye, tenfold a fool, that I put my faith in your glib tongue. Those who wished me well gave me warning; my enemies made me an object of scorn; but little heed gave I to either. I put on my gala attire; kinsmen and friends I gathered together; with song and laughter we set out for the festive hall, and then,--the bridegroom has fled.
INGEBORG. Never will I marry one who holds me so lightly.
ARNE. Be still!
HEMMING. [Softly to ARNE.] Mistress Ingeborg is right; best it is you break the agreement.
ARNE. Be still, I say!
LADY KIRSTEN. [To ARNE.] You may well be rilled with wrath and resentment; but if you think I meant to deceive you, you do me the greatest injustice. You think we are playing a game of deception with you. But tell me,--what would tempt me and my son to such a thing? Does he not love Ingeborg? Where could he choose him a better bride? Is she not fair and lithe? Is her father not rich and mighty? Is not her family mentioned with honor as far as it is known?
ARNE. But how then could Olaf--
LADY KIRSTEN. The lot I have suffered is worse than you think. You will pity me instead of growing angry when you have heard.--Since the sun rose this morning I have wandered up here to find him again.
ARNE. Up here?
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, up here; I must tell you--you'll be frightened--but nevertheless,--Olaf is bewitched in the mountain!
GUESTS. Bewitched in the mountain!
INGEBORG. [At the same time.] Deliver me, God!
ARNE. What say you, Lady Kirsten?
LADY KIRSTEN. He is bewitched in the mountain! Nothing else can it be.--Three weeks ago, after the betrothal feast at Guldvik, he did not come home till far into the next day. Pale he was and moody and quiet as I had never seen him before. And thus the days went by; he spoke but little; he lay in his bed most of the time and turned his face to the wall; but when evening came on, it seemed a strange uneasiness seized him; he saddled his horse and rode away, far up the mountain side; but no one dared follow him, and no one knew where he went beyond that. Believe me, 'tis evil spirits that have charmed his mind; great is the power they wield in here; from the time the terrible plague overran the country it has never been quite safe in the mountain here; there is scarcely a day goes by but the chalet girls hear strange playing and music, although there is no living soul in the place whence it comes.
ARNE. Bewitched in the mountain! Could such a thing be possible?
LADY KIRSTEN. Would to God it were not; but I can no longer doubt it. Three days is it now since he last was at home.
ARNE. And you have seen none who knows where he is?
LADY KIRSTEN. Alas, no, it is not so easy. Up here a hunter yesterday saw him; but he was wild and shy as the deer; he had picked all sorts of flowers, and these he scattered before him wherever he went, and all the while he whispered strange words. As soon as I heard of this, I set out with my people, but we have found nothing.
INGEBORG. You met none who could tell you--
LADY KIRSTEN. You know of course the mountain-side is desolate.
ARNE. [As he spies THORGJERD, who rises from the river.] Here comes one will I ask.
HEMMING. [Apprehensively.] Master! Master!
ARNE. What now?
HEMMING. Let him go! Do you not see who it is?
THE GUESTS AND LADY KIRSTEN'S PEOPLE. [Whispering among themselves.] Thorgjerd the fiddler! The crazy Thorgjerd!
INGEBORG. He has learned the nixie's songs.
HEMMING. Let him go, let him go!
ARNE. No,--not even were he the nixie himself--
* * * * *
[THORGJERD has in the meantime gone to the edge of the stage to the left; at ARNE's last words he turns about suddenly as if he had been addressed.]
THORGJERD. [As he draws a step or two nearer.] What do you want of me?
ARNE. [Startled.] What's that?
HEMMING. Now see!
ARNE. Let me manage this.
ARNE. [To THORGJERD.] We seek Olaf Liljekrans. Have you met him about here today?
THORGJERD. Olaf Liljekrans?
LADY KIRSTEN. Why, yes,--you know him well.
THORGJERD. Is he not one of the evil men from the villages?
LADY KIRSTEN. Evil?
THORGJERD. They are all evil there! Olaf Liljekrans curses the little bird when it sings on his mother's roof.
LADY KIRSTEN. You lie, you fiddler!
THORGJERD. [With an artful smile.] So much the better for him.
ARNE. How so?
THORGJERD. You ask about Olaf Liljekrans? Has he gone astray in here? You seek him and cannot find him?
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, yes!
THORGJERD. So much the better for him;--if it were a lie that I told, he will suffer no want.
INGEBORG. Speak out what you know!
THORGJERD. Then I should never be done!
THORGJERD. [Mischievously.] Elves and sprites hold sway here. Be you of good cheer! If you find him not he is at play with the elves; they are fond of all who love little birds, and Olaf, you said.... Go home,--go home again. Olaf is up in the mountain; he suffers no want.
LADY KIRSTEN. Curse you for saying such things!
ARNE. [To LADY KIRSTEN.] Do not heed what he says.
THORGJERD. [Approaches again.] I go hence now to tune my harp; Olaf Liljekrans is up in the mountain,--there shall his wedding be held.--Mad Thorgjerd must also be there; he can make tables and benches dance, so stirring is the music he plays. But you, take you heed; go you home again; it is not safe for you here. Have you not heard the old saying: Beware of the elves when they frolic around, They may draw you into their play; And all that you see and all that you hear Will stay with your mind alway.
THORGJERD. [Suddenly breaking out with wild joy.] But here there are wedding guests,--ah! Each lady has on her very best gown, each man his very best coat,--now I see. Olaf Liljekrans is likewise a groom in the village,--there also he has a betrothed! Well, you have heard of such things before! I know that at any rate once, --it is years ago--but well I remember....
THORGJERD. [He continues after a moment's pause, more and more wildly.] Sir Alvar and Ingrid had plighted their troth, She was a sprightly maiden; Three blessed long days they feasted and sang, With jolly good wine they were laden. The bride was fair and the bride was gay, The dance of the guests she led,
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