The King’s men are without. They seek Gudmund Alfson.
[In great alarm.] The King’s men!
All is at an end, then. Oh Signe, to lose you now—could there be a harder fate?
Nay, Gudmund; sell your life dearly, man! Unbind us; we are ready to fight for you, one and all.
[Looks out.] ’Twould be in vain; they are too many for us.
Here they come. Oh Gudmund, Gudmund!
[The KING’s MESSENGER enters from the back, with his escort.
In the King’s name I seek you, Gudmund Alfson, and bring you his behests.
Be it so. Yet am I guiltless; I swear it by all that is holy!
We know it.
What say you?
[Agitation amongst those present.
I am ordered to bid you as a guest to the King’s house. His friendship is yours as it was before, and along with it he bestows on you rich fiefs.
But tell me—?
Your enemy, the Chancellor Audun Hugleikson, has fallen.
[To each other, in half-whisper.] Fallen!
Three days ago he was beheaded at Bergen. [Lowering his voice.] His offence was against Norway’s Queen.
MARGIT. [Placing herself between GUDMUND and SIGNE.]
Thus punishment treads on the heels of crime!
Protecting angels, loving and bright,
Have looked down in mercy on me to-night,
And come to my rescue while yet it was time.
Now know I that life’s most precious treasure
Is nor worldly wealth nor earthly pleasure,
I have felt the remorse, the terror I know,
Of those who wantonly peril their soul,
To St. Sunniva’s cloister forthwith I go.—
[Before GUDMUND and SIGNE can speak.
Nay: think not to move me or control.
[Places SIGNE’s hand in GUDMUND’s.
Take her then Gudmund, and make her your bride.
Your union is holy; God’s on your side.
[Waving farewell, she
goes towards the doorway on the left.
GUDMUND and SIGNE follow her, she stops them with a
motion of her hand, goes out, and shuts the door behind
her. At this moment the sun rises and sheds its light
in the hall.