Out here, out here, shall be mirth and jest,
No sigh on the lips and no care in the breast,
When the fiddle is tuned at the dancers’ ’hest,
’Neath the birches.
That is well, that is well! So I fain would see it! I am merry, and my wife likewise; and therefore I pray ye all to be merry along with us.
ONE OF THE GUESTS.
Aye, now let us have a stave-match.*
A contest in impromptu verse-making.
[Shout.] Yes, yes, a stave-match!
Nay, let that be; it leads but to strife at the feast. [Lowering his voice.] Bear in mind that Knut Gesling is with us to-night.
[Whispering among themselves.] Aye, aye, that is true. Remember the last time, how he—. Best beware.
AN OLD MAN.
But you, Dame Margit—I know your kind had ever wealth of tales in store; and you yourself, even as a child, knew many a fair legend.
Alas! I have forgot them all. But ask Gudmund Alfson, my kinsman; he knows a tale that is merry enough.
[In a low voice, imploringly.] Margit!
Why, what a pitiful countenance you put on! Be merry, Gudmund! Be merry! Aye, aye, it comes easy to you, well I wot. [Laughing, to the GUESTS.] He has seen the huldra to-night. She would fain have tempted him; but Gudmund is a faithful swain. [Turns again to GUDMUND.] Aye, but the tale is not finished yet. When you bear away your lady-love, over hill and through forest, be sure you turn not round; be sure you never look back—the huldra sits laughing behind every bush; and when all is done— [In a low voice, coming close up to him.] —you will go no further than she will let you.
[She crosses to the right.
Oh, God! Oh, God!
[Going around among the GUESTS in high contentment.] Ha, ha, ha! Dame Margit knows how to set the mirth afoot! When she takes it in hand, she does it much better than I.
[To himself.] She threatens! I must tear the last hope out of her breast; else will peace never come to her mind. [Turns to the GUESTS.] I mind me of a little song. If it please you to hear it—
Thanks, thanks, Gudmund Alfson!
[They close around him
some sitting, others standing. MARGIT
leans against a tree in front on the right. SIGNE stands
on the left, near the house.