No peaceful home is your father’s
With your lawless, reckless crew,
Day out, day in, must you hold carouse—
God help her who mates with you.
God help the maiden you lure or buy
With gold and with forests green—
Soon will her sore heart long to lie
Still in the grave, I ween.
Aye, aye—true enough—Knut Gesling lives not overpeaceably. But there will soon come a change in that, when he gets him a wife in his hall.
And this I would have you mark, Dame Margit: it may be a week since, I was at a feast at Hegge, at Erik’s bidding, whom here you see. I vowed a vow that Signe, your fair sister, should be my wife, and that before the year was out. Never shall it be said of Knut Gesling that he brake any vow. You can see, then, that you must e’en choose me for your sister’s husband—be it with your will or against it.
Ere that may be, I must tell you plain,
You must rid yourself of your ravening train.
You must scour no longer with yell and shout
O’er the country-side in a galloping rout;
You must still the shudder that spreads around
When Knut Gesling is to a bride-ale bound.
Courteous must your mien be when a-feasting you ride;
Let your battle-axe hang at home at the chimney-side—
It ever sits loose in your hand, well you know,
When the mead has gone round and your brain is aglow.
From no man his rightful gear shall you wrest,
You shall harm no harmless maiden;
You shall send no man the shameless hest
That when his path crosses yours, he were best
Come with his grave-clothes laden.
And if you will so bear you till the year be past,
You may win my sister for your bride at last.
[With suppressed rage.] You know how to order your words cunningly, Dame Margit. Truly, you should have been a priest, and not your husbands wife.
Oh, for that matter, I too could—
[Paying no heed to him.] But I would have you take note that had a sword-bearing man spoken to me in such wise—
Nay, but listen, Knut Gesling—you must understand us!
[As before.] Well, briefly, he should have learnt that the axe sits loose in my hand, as you said but now.
[Softly.] There we have it! Margit, Margit, this will never end well.
[To KNUT.] You asked for a forthright answer, and that I have given you.
Well, well; I will not reckon too closely with you, Dame Margit. You have more wit than all the rest of us together. Here is my hand;—it may be there was somewhat of reason in the keen-edged words you spoke to me.