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- Early Plays - 40/50 -

Olaf; he has always wanted to stand in high honor among the men of the village, and for that reason he will certainly--yes, yes, it must, it shall succeed.

[She goes out to the right.]

* * * * *


[HEMMING comes from the left with a bowl of ale hidden under his coat. ARNE follows him cautiously, looking about.]

ARNE. Is there anyone?

HEMMING. No, come along, master.

ARNE. But it seemed to me I heard Lady Kirsten.

HEMMING. She is gone now, come along!

ARNE. [Sits down on the bench to the left.] Hemming! it is well that the wedding is to be held tonight. Tomorrow I go home; yes, that I will. Not a day longer will I remain in Lady Kirsten's house.

HEMMING. Why, master! is there enmity again between you?

ARNE. Is it not enough, do you think, that she and all her superior relatives look down on me; at supper they laughed and jested among themselves because I could not bring myself to eat of all those ungodly, outlandish dishes. And what was it that we got to drink? Sweet wine and cider that will stay in my stomach for eight days. No, the good old homebrewed ale for me.

[Drinks and adds softly and bitterly.]

ARNE. Of this I had sent the wretched woman three full barrels. And what has she done? Thrown it to her servants, and here I must steal myself a drink,--yes, Hemming! steal myself a drink of my own ale, that they may not revile me as a coarse peasant, who doesn't understand the more refined drinks.

HEMMING. Well, master! I gave you warning.

ARNE. Ah--gave me warning! You are stupid, Hemming! You think I haven't noticed it myself; but wait, just wait!

ARNE. [Flaring up.] To place my good nourishing ale before the house servants, as though it were not worthy to be put on the table of a lord.--

HEMMING. Yes, Lady Kirsten treats you ill, that is certain.

ARNE. [Hands him the bowl.] Come, sit down and drink!

ARNE. [HEMMING sits down.] Listen, Hemming! I could wish we were home again.

HEMMING. Well, I have no fancy for this festive home.

ARNE. No, my old room at Guldvik for me;--when we sat there of an evening and played chess with the ale jug between us--

HEMMING. The while Mistress Ingeborg sat at the loom and embroidered roses and all sorts of flowers in the linen--

ARNE. And sang all the time so merrily that it seemed to me that I became young and active again. Yes, Hemming! when the wedding is over, we shall go back and live our old ways again.

HEMMING. But then there will be no one who works the loom and sings merry lays the while.

ARNE. No, that is true enough; Ingeborg will then be gone. It will be a little hard on me; she is wild and self-willed, but I shall miss her nevertheless,--miss her greatly.

ARNE. [Considers.] Now and then I suppose I could visit her here--But no, that I will not! Here they laugh at me, they whisper behind my back,--I see it well enough.

HEMMING. But in case you wished, it could still be changed.

ARNE. Changed! You are stupid, Hemming! Always you talk about changing.

ARNE. [Hands him the bowl.] Come, drink, it will do you good. Changed; no, no, it shall never be changed! It was evil spirits who put into my head the idea of marrying into Lady Kirsten's family. But now it is done; the superior kinsmen will have to behave as they please, but my own relatives and friends shall not laugh at me,--if I have given my word, I shall keep it too.

ARNE. [Disheartened.] If I only knew that Olaf would be kind to her; I shall ask him to--.

ARNE. [Vehemently.] He _shall_ be kind, else I shall come and beat him with my old fists.

HEMMING. Yes, it is well that you keep your eye on her, for Olaf cares little for her, I do believe.

ARNE. So, you think so?

HEMMING. Do you remember Alfhild, the poor girl, who yesterday followed us down from the mountain?

ARNE. Indeed I do. She is pretty!

HEMMING. [Rises.] So thinks Olaf, too.

ARNE. What does that mean?

HEMMING. Olaf loves her! 'Tis many a time he visited her up there;--what Lady Kirsten has told you, you must never believe.

ARNE. And what you blab about I believe still less. You are provoked with Ingeborg because at times she makes fun of you, and therefore you begrudge her this attractive marriage; yes, yes, I know you too well.

HEMMING. Why, master! you could believe that--

ARNE. Make me believe that Olaf Liljekrans loves that beggar woman! A noble, high-born lord such as he! It is almost as if one were to say that Ingeborg, my daughter, had a fancy for you.

HEMMING. [Embarrassed.] For me--how could you ever imagine--

ARNE. No, I don't imagine! But the one is as unreasonable as the other. Come, drink! and don't talk any more such nonsense.

ARNE. [Rises.] There is Lady Kirsten with the guests. What's going to happen now?

HEMMING. They are all to assemble out here; they will then follow the bride and bridegroom to the banquet-table and thence to the church.

ARNE. Aye, what a cursed custom! To the church at night! Is then marriage a work of darkness?

* * * * *


[The Preceding. LADY KIRSTEN, OLAF, INGEBORG, GUESTS, and SERVANTS and MAIDS enter gradually from the several sides.]

LADY KIRSTEN. [To herself.] I have not seen Olaf alone; but when I think it over, it is probably best that he know nothing about it until it is all over.

LADY KIRSTEN. [Softly, to HEMMING, who has been whispering with INGEBORG.] Well, Hemming! How do you think your master is disposed?

HEMMING. Alas, Lady Kirsten! I have but little hope unless you lend your aid.

LADY KIRSTEN. Aye, we'll manage it all right.

[She mingles with the GUESTS.]

INGEBORG. [Softly, to HEMMING.] What do you mean? What blessed hope is it you are speaking of?

HEMMING. Alas, I hardly dare believe it myself; but Lady Kirsten means well by us. She will soon show you that--

INGEBORG. Hush! they are approaching.

OLAF. [In an undertone.] Tell me, mother! how goes it with her?

LADY KIRSTEN. Well enough, as I knew before.

OLAF. Then she knows how to comfort herself?

LADY KIRSTEN. [Smiling.] It seems so. Only wait! This very evening you shall know for certain.

OLAF. What do you mean?

LADY KIRSTEN. I mean that she is a sly witch. All her fair words have been deceitful wiles.

OLAF. No, no, mother!

LADY KIRSTEN. That we shall see! Alfhild is happy and gay,--so much I know.

OLAF. It were well for me if she were!

Early Plays - 40/50

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