No, not all; some wait till later in the day; ere now they are sleeping sound.
And Gudmund Alfson—?
He, too, is doubtless asleep. [Points to the right.] ’Tis some time since he went to his chamber—yonder, across the passage.
Good; you may go.
[The MAID goes out to
[MARGIT walks slowly across the hall, seats herself by the
table on the right, and gazes out at the open window.
To-morrow, then, Gudmund will ride away
Out into the world so great and wide.
Alone with my husband here I must stay;
And well do I know what will then betide.
Like the broken branch and the trampled flower
I shall suffer and fade from hour to hour.
[Short pause; she leans back in her chair.
I once heard a tale of a child blind from birth,
Whose childhood was full of joy and mirth;
For the mother, with spells of magic might,
Wove for the dark eyes a world of light.
And the child looked forth with wonder and glee
Upon the valley and hill, upon land and sea.
Then suddenly the witchcraft failed—
The child once more was in darkness pent;
Good-bye to games and merriment;
With longing vain the red cheeks paled.
And its wail of woe, as it pined away,
Was ceaseless, and sadder than words can say.—
Oh! like the child’s my eyes were sealed,
To the light and the life of summer blind—
[She springs up.
But now—! And I in this cage confined!
No, now is the worth of my youth revealed!
Three years of life I on him have spent—
My husband—but were I longer content
This hapless, hopeless weird to dree,
Meek as a dove I needs must be.
I am wearied to death of petty brawls;
The stirring life of the great world calls.
I will follow Gudmund with shield and bow,
I will share his joys, I will soothe his woe,
Watch o’er him both by night and day.
All that behold shall envy the life
Of the valiant knight and Margit his wife.—
[Wrings her hands.
God, what is this I say!
Forgive me, forgive me, and oh! let me feel
The peace that hath power both to soothe and to heal.
[Walks back and forward, brooding silently.
Signe, my sister—? How hateful ’twere
To steal her glad young life from her!
But who can tell? In very sooth
She may love him but with the light love of youth.
[Again silence; she takes out the little phial, looks long
at it and says under her breath:
This phial—were I its powers to try—
My husband would sleep for ever and aye!
No, no! To the river’s depths with it
[In the act of throwing it out of the window, stops.