A birch grove adjoining the house, one corner of which
is seen to
the left. At the back, a footpath leads up the hillside. To
the right of the footpath a river comes tumbling down a ravine
and loses itself among boulders and stones. It is a light
summer evening. The door leading to the house stands open;
the windows are lighted up. Music is heard from within.
THE GUESTS. [Singing in the Feast Hall.]
Set bow to fiddle! To sound of strings
We’ll dance till night shall furl her wings,
Through the long hours glad and golden!
Like blood-red blossom the maiden glows—
Come, bold young wooer and hold the rose
In a soft embrace enfolden.
[KNUT GESLING and ERIK
OF HEGGE enter from the house. Sounds
of music, dancing and merriment are heard from
within during what follows.
If only you come not to repent it, Knut.
That is my affair.
Well, say what you will, ’tis a daring move. You are the King’s Sheriff. Commands go forth to you that you shall seize the person of Gudmund Alfson, wherever you may find him. And now, when you have him in your grasp, you proffer him your friendship, and let him go freely, whithersoever he will.
I know what I am doing. I sought him in his own dwelling, but there he was not to be found. If, now, I went about to seize him here—think you that Dame Margit would be minded to give me Signe to wife?
[With deliberation.] No, by fair means it might scarcely be, but—
And by foul means I am loth to proceed. Moreover, Gudmund is my friend from bygone days; and he can be helpful to me. [With decision.] Therefore it shall be as I have said. This evening no one at Solhoug shall know that Gudmund Alfson is an outlaw;— to-morrow he must look to himself.
Aye, but the King’s decree?
Oh, the King’s decree! You know as well as I that the King’s decree is but little heeded here in the uplands. Were the King’s decree to be enforced, many a stout fellow among us would have to pay dear both for bride-rape and for man-slaying. Come this way, I would fain know where Signe—?
[They go out to the
[GUDMUND and SIGNE come down the footpath at the back.
Oh, speak! Say on! For sweeter far
Such words than sweetest music are.