Sometimes he dreamed of his home as it was before the wartime. Sometimes he dreamed of the days when he and Ingebjorg roamed through the fields and woods together, or listened to old Hilding’s stories by the blazing hearth; and then he would wake up with a start and stroke his faithful hound, who was ever near him, saying, “Thou alone knowest no change; to thee all is alike, so long as thy master is with thee.”
One night, however, as Frithiof was musing on the deck of his vessel, gazing into the cloudless sky, a vision of the past rose up before him: old familiar faces crowded round him, and in their midst he marked one, best beloved of all, pale, sad, with sorrowful eyes; and her lips moved, and he seemed to hear her say, “I am very sad without thee, Frithiof.”
Then a great longing came upon Frithiof to see Ingebjorg once more. He would go northward, even to the country of King Ring; he must see Ingebjorg. What did he care for danger? He must go.
To the cold, dark north.
Yet he dared not go openly, for King Ring looked upon him as an enemy, and would seize him at once, and if he did not kill him would shut him up in prison, so that either way he would not see the beautiful Queen.
Frithiof. therefore disguised himself as an old man, and wrapped in bearskins, presented himself at the palace.
The old King sat upon his throne, and at his side was Ingebjorg the Fair, looking like spring by the side of fading autumn.
As the strangely dressed figure passed along, the courtiers jeered, and Frithiof, thrown off his guard, angrily seized one of them, and twirled him round with but little effort.
“Ho!” said the King, “thou art a strong old man, O stranger! Whence art thou?”
“I was reared in anguish and want,” returned Frithiof; “sorrow has filled a bitter cup for me, and I have almost drunk it to the dregs. Once I rode upon a dragon, but now it lies dead upon the seashore, and I am left in my old age to burn salt upon the strand.”
“Thou art not old,” answered the wise King; “thy voice is clear, and thy grasp is strong. Throw off thy rude disguise, that we may know our guest.”
Then Frithiof threw aside his bearskin, and appeared clad in a mantle of blue embroidered velvet, and his hair fell like a golden wave upon his shoulder.
Ring did not know him, but Ingebjorg did; and when she handed the goblet for him to drink, her color went and came “like to the northern light on a field of snow.”
And Frithiof stayed at the court, until the year came round again, and spring once more put forth its early blossoms.
One day a gay hunting train went forth, but old King Ring, not being strong, as in former years, lay down to rest upon the mossy turf beneath some arching pines, while the hunters rode on.
Then Frithiof drew near, and in his heart wild thoughts arose. One blow of his sword, and Ingebjorg was free to be his wife.