Aye, you may be sure she does. There is nothing she lacks. She has five handmaidens, no less, at her beck and call; a courser stands ready saddled in the stall when she lists to ride abroad. In one word, she has all that a noble lady can desire to make her happy in her lot.
And Margit—is she then happy?
God and all men would think that she must be; but, strange to say—
What mean you?
Well, believe it or not as you list, but it seems to me that Margit was merrier of heart in the days of her poverty, than since she became the lady of Solhoug.
[To himself.] I knew it; so it must be.
What say you, kinsman?
I say that I wonder greatly at what you tell me of your wife.
Aye, you may be sure I wonder at it too. On the faith and troth of an honest gentleman, ’tis beyond me to guess what more she can desire. I am about her all day long; and no one can say of me that I rule her harshly. All the cares of household and husbandry I have taken on myself; yet notwithstanding— Well, well, you were ever a merry heart; I doubt not you will bring sunshine with you. Hush! here comes Dame Margit! Let her not see that I—
[MARGIT enters from the left, richly dressed.
[Going to meet her.] Margit—my dear Margit!
[Stops, and looks at him without recognition.] Your pardon, Sir Knight; but—? [As though she only now recognized him.] Surely, if I mistake not, ’tis Gudmund Alfson.
[Holding out her hand to him.
[Without taking it.] And you did not at once know me again?
[Laughing.] Why, Margit, of what are you thinking? I told you but a moment agone that your kinsman—
[Crossing to the table on the right.] Twelve years is a long time, Gudmund. The freshest plant may wither ten times over in that space.
’Tis seven years since last we met.
Surely it must be more than that.
[Looking at her.] I could almost think so. But ’tis as I say.
How strange! I must have been but a child then; and it seems to me a whole eternity since I was a child. [Throws herself down on a chair.] Well, sit you down, my kinsman! Rest you, for to-night you shall dance, and rejoice us with your singing. [With a forced smile.] Doubtless you know we are merry here to-day—we are holding a feast.