[Astonished.] Yes, did you not know it! But what ails you, Margit?
[In an almost toneless voice.] Nay, nothing, nothing.
[To MARGIT.] And this morning, when you made me give my word that I would stir no strife here to-night—you already knew that Gudmund Alfson was coming. Ha, ha, think not that you can hoodwink Knut Gesling! Signe has become dear to me. Even this morning ’twas but my hasty vow that drove me to seek her hand; but now—
[To MARGIT.] He? Was this the wooer that was in your mind?
[Firmly and harshly.] Dame Margit—you are her elder sister; you shall give me an answer.
[Battling with herself.] Signe has already made her choice;—I have naught to answer.
Good; then I have nothing more to do at Solhoug. But after midnight—mark you this—the day is at an end; then you may chance to see me again, and then Fortune must decide whether it be Gudmund or I that shall bear Signe away from this house.
Aye, try if you dare; it shall cost you a bloody sconce.
[In terror.] Gudmund! By all the saints—!
Gently, gently, Gudmund Alfson! Ere sunrise you shall be in my power. And she—your lady-love— [Goes up to the door, beckons and calls in a low voice.] Erik! Erik! come hither! we must away to our kinsfolk. [Threateningly, while ERIK shows himself in the doorway.] Woe upon you all when I come again!
[He and ERIK go off to the left at the back.
[Softly to GUDMUND.] Oh, tell me, what does all this mean?
[Whispering.] We must both leave Solhoug this very night.
God shield me—you would—!
Say nought of it! No word to any one, not even to your sister.
[To herself.] She—it is she! She of whom he had scarce thought before to-night. Had I been free, I know well whom he had chosen.— Aye, free!
[BENGT and GUESTS, both Men and Women enter from the house.
YOUNG MEN AND MAIDENS.
Out here, out here be the feast arrayed,
While the birds are asleep in the greenwood shade,
How sweet to sport in the flowery glade
’Neath the birches.