[Rising.] I like her well. It repents me not a whit that I took her to wife, though of heritage she owned no more than yonder goblet and the brooches of her wedding gown.
[He goes to the table
at the window and takes the goblet.
[A HOUSE-CARL enters hurriedly and with scared looks, from
[Calls.] Sir Bengt, Sir Bengt! haste forth with all the speed you can! Knut Gesling with an armed train is drawing near the house.
[Putting down the goblet.] Knut Gesling? Who brings the tidings?
Some of your guests espied him on the road beneath, and hastened back to warn you.
E’en so. Then will I—! Fetch me my grandfather’s battle-axe!
[He and the HOUSE-CARL
go out at the back.
[Soon after, GUDMUND and SIGNE enter quietly and cautiously
by the door at the back.
SIGNE. [In muffled tones.]
It must then, be so!
GUDMUND. [Also softly.]
Oh! thus under cover
To steal from the valley where I was born?
[Dries her eyes.
Yet shalt thou hear no plaint forlorn.
’Tis for thy sake my home I flee;
Wert thou not outlawed, Gudmund dear,
I’d stay with my sister.
Only to be
Ta’en by Knut Gesling, with bow and spear,
Swung on the croup of his battle-horse,
And made his wife by force.
Quick, let us flee. But whither go?
Down by the fiord a friend I know;
He’ll find us a ship. O’er the salt sea foam
We’ll sail away south to Denmark’s bowers.
There waits you there a happy home;
Right joyously will fleet the hours;
The fairest of flowers they bloom in the shade
Of the beech-tree glade.
SIGNE. [Bursts into tears.]
Farewell, my poor sister! Like my mother tender
Thou hast guarded the ways my feet have trod,
Hast guided my footsteps, aye praying to God,
The Almighty, to be my defender.—
Gudmund—here is a goblet filled with mead;
Let us drink to her; let us wish that ere long
Her soul may again be calm and strong,
And that God may be good to her need.
[She takes the goblet into her hands.
Aye, let us drain it, naming her name!
[Takes the goblet from her.