Henrik Ibsen.

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Where got he his death-wound ?

The Man. Right across his brow.

ORNULF (pleased). Hm ; that is an honourable
spot ; he did not turn his back. But fell he sideways,
or in towards Gunnar's feet ?

The Man. Half sideways and half towards

Act II.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 171

Ornulf. That bodes but half vengeance ; well
well, — we shall see!

Gunnar {approaching). Ornulf, I know well that
all my goods were naught against thy loss ; but
crave of me what thou wilt

ORNULF {sternly 'interrupting him). Give me
Thorolf's body, and let me go ! Where lies he?
(GUNNAR points silently to the back.)

ORNULF {takes a step or two, but turns and says in
a voice of thunder to SlGURD, DAGNY, and others
who are preparing to follozv him, sorrozving). Stay !
Think ye Ornulf will be followed by a train of
mourners, like a whimpering woman ? Stay, I say !
— I can bear my Thorolf alone. ( With calm strength.)
Sonless I go ; but none shall say that he saw me
bowed. (He goes slowly out.)

HlORDlS (with forced laughter). Ay, let him go as
he will ; we shall scarce need many men to face him
should he come with strife again ! Now, Dagny — I
wot it is the last time thy father shall sail from Ice-
land on such a quest !

SlGURD (indignant). Oh, shame !

Dagny (likeivise). And thou canst scoff at him — ■
scoff at him, after all that has befallen ?

HlORDlS. A deed once done, 'tis wise to praise it.
This morning I swore hate and vengeance against
Ornulf; — the slaying of Jokul I might have forgotten
— all, save that he cast shame upon my lot. He
called me a leman ; if it be so, it shames me not ; for
Gunnar is mightier now than thy father ; he is greater
and more famous than Sigurd, thine own husband !

DAGNY (in wild indignation). There thou errcst,

i/2 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act II.

lli.irdis — and even now shall all men know that thou
dwellcst under a weakling's roof!

Sigurd (vehemently). Dagny, beware !

Gunnar. A weakling !

HiORDis {with scornful laughter). Thou pratest

DAGNY. It shall no longer be hidden ; I held my
peace till thou didst scoff at my father and my dead
brothers; I held my peace while Ornulf was here,
lest he should learn that Thorolf fell by a dastard's
hand. But now — praise Gunnar nevermore for that
deed in Iceland; for Gunnar is a weakling! The
sword that lay drawn between thee and the bear-
slayer hangs at my husband's side — and the ring
thou didst take from thy arm thou gavest to Sigurd.
{Takes it off and holds it aloft?) Behold it !

HiORDis {wildly). Sigurd !

The Crowd. Sigurd ! Sigurd did the deed !

HIORDIS {quivering with agitation). He ! he ! —
Gunnar, is this true ?

GUNNAR (with lofty calm). It is all true, save only
that I am a weakling; I am neither a weakling nor a

SiGURD (moved). That art thou not, Gunnar !
That hast thou never been ! (To the rest?) Away, my
men ! Away from here !

DAGNY (at the door, to HiORDis). Who is now the
mightiest man at the board — my husband, or thine ?
(She goes out with SiGURD and his men.)

HiORDis (to herself). Now have I but one thing
left to do — but one deed to brood upon : Sigurd or I
must die !

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 173

Act Third.

{The hall in Gunnar's house. It is day.)

(Hiordis siis on the bench in front of the smaller high-scat,

busy weaving a bow-string ; on the table lie a bow and some


HlORDIS {fulling at the bow-string). It is tough
and strong ; {with a glance at the arrows) the shaft is
both keen and well-weighted — {lets her hands fall in

her lap) but where is the hand that ! ( Vehemently.)

Befooled, befooled by him — by Sigurd ! I must hate
him more than others, that can I well mark ; but

ere many days have passed I will {Meditating.)

Ay, but the arm, the arm that shall do the deed ?

(GUNNAR enters, silent and thoughtful, from the
HlORDIS {after a short pause). How goes it with
thee, my husband ?

GUNNAR. Ill, Hiordis ; I cannot away with that
deed of yesterday ; it lies heavy on my heart.

HlORDIS. Do as I do ; get thee some work to
busy thee.

Gunnar. Doubtless I must.

{A pause ; GUNNAR paces up and down the hall,
notices what HlORDIS is doiwj, and approaches
Gunnar. What dost thou there?

174 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

HlORDIS (without looking up). I am weaving a
bow-string ; canst thou not sec ?

GUNNAR. A bow-string — of thine own hair?

HlORDIS (smiling). Great deeds are born with
every hour in these times ; yesterday thou didst slay
my foster-brother, and I have woven this since day-

GUNXAR. Hiordis, Hiordis !

HlORDIS (looking tip). What is amiss?

GUNNAR. Where wast thou last night ?

HlORDIS. Last night ?

GUNNAR. Thou wast not in the sleeping-room.

HlORDIS. Know'st thou that ?

GUNNAR. I could not sleep ; I tossed in restless
dreams of that — that which befell Thorolf. I dreamt

that he came No matter; I wakened. Then

meseemed I heard a strange, fair song through all
the house ; I arose ; I stole hither to the door ; here
I saw thee sitting by the log-fire — it burned blue and
red — fixing arrow-heads, and singing sorceries over

HlORDIS. The work was not wasted ; for strong
is the breast that must be pierced this day.

GUNNAR. I understand thee well ; thou wouldst
have Sigurd slain.

HlORDIS. Hm, mayhap.

GUNNAR. Thou shalt never have thy will. I
shall keep peace with Sigurd, howe'er thou goad me.

HlORDIS (smiling). Dost think so ?

GUNNAR. I know it !

HlORDIS (hands him the boiv-string). Tell me
Gunnar — canst loose this knot ?

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 175

GUNNAR {tries it). Nay, it is too cunningly and
firmly woven.

HlORDIS (rising). The Norns 1 weave yet more
cunningly ; their web is still harder to unravel.

GUNNAR. Dark are the ways of the Mighty
Ones ; — neither thou nor I know aught of

HlORDIS. Yet one thing I know surely : that to
both of us must Sigurd's life be baleful.

(A pause; GUNNAR stands lost in thought.)

HlORDIS (who has been silently watching him). Of
what thinkest thou ?

GUNNAR. Of a dream I had of late. Methought I
had done the deed thou cravest ; Sigurd lay slain on
the earth ; thou didst stand beside him, and thy face
was wondrous pale. Then said I : " Art thou glad,
now that I have done thy will?" But thou didst
laucrh and answer : " Blither were I didst thou,
Gunnar, lie there in Sigurd's stead."

HlORDIS {with forced laughter). Ill must thou know
me if such a senseless dream can make thee hold thy

GUNNAR. Hm ! — Tell me, Hiordis, what thinkest
thou of this hall ?

HlORDIS. To speak truly, Gunnar, — it sometimes
seems to me but straitened.

GUNNAR Ay, ay, so I have thought ; we arc one
too many.

HlORDIS. Two, mayhap.

GUNNAR (who has not Jieard her last words). But
that shall be remedied.

1 The " Nornir" were the Fates of northern mythology.

i;>> The Vikings \t Helgeland. [Act III.

1 1 iordis {looks at him interrogatively). Remedied ?
Then thou art minded to ?

( ii \ \ A.R. To fit out my warships and put to sea;
I will win back the honour I have lost because thou
wast dearer to me than all beside.

HlORDIS (thoughtfully). Thou wilt put to sea?
Ay, so it may be best for us both.

GUNNAR. Even from the day we sailed from
Iceland, I saw that it would go ill with us. Thy soul
is strong and proud ; there are times when I well
nigh fear thee ; yet, it is strange — chiefly for that do
I hold thee so dear. Dread enwraps thee like a
spell ; methinks thou could'st lure me to the blackest
deeds, and all would seem good to me that thou didst
crave. (Shaking his head reflectively '.) Unfathomable
is the Norn's rede ; Sigurd should have been thy

HlORDIS (vehemently). Sigurd !

Gunnar. Yes, Sigurd. Vengefulness and hatred
blind thee, else would'st thou prize him better. Had
I been like Sigurd, I could have made life bright for

HlORDIS (with strong but suppressed emotion). That
— that deemest thou Sigurd could have done ?

Gunnar. He is strong of soul, and proud as thou
to boot.

HlORDIS (violently). If that be so — (Collecting her-
self). No matter, no matter ! ( With a wild outburst.)
Gunnar, take Sigurd's life!

Gunnar. Never!

HlORDIS. By fraud and falsehood thou mad'st me
thy wife — that shall be forgotten ! Five joyless

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 177

years have I spent in this house — all shall be for-
gotten from the day when Sigurd lives no more !

GUNNAR. From my hand he need fear no harm.
(Shrinks back involuntarily). Hiordis, Hiordis, tempt
me not !

HIORDIS. Then must I find another avenger ;
Sigurd shall not live long to flout at me and thee !
(Clenching her hands in convulsive rage.) With her
— that simpleton — with her mayhap he is even now
sitting alone, dallying, and laughing at us ; speaking
of the bitter wrong that was done me when in thy
stead he bore me away ; telling how he laughed over
his guile as he stood in my dark bower, and I knew
him not !

GUNNAR. Nay, nay, he does "not so !

HIORDIS (firmly). Sigurd and Dagny must die !
I cannot breathe till they are gone ! (Comes close up to
him, with sparkling eyes, and speaks passionately, bat in
a whisper.) Would'st thou help me with that, Gunnar,
then should I live in love with thee ; then should
I clasp thee in such warm and wild embraces as thou
hast never dreamt of!

Gunnar (wavering). Hiordis! Would'st thou

HIORDIS. Do the deed, Gunnar — and the heavy
days shall be past. I will no longer quit the hall
when thou comest, no longer speak harsh things and
quench thy smile when thou art glad. I will clothe
me in furs and costly silken robes. When thou goest
to war, I will go with thee ; when thou ridest forth
in peace, I will ride by thy side. At the feast I
will sit by thee and fill thy horn, and drink to thee
and sing fair songs to make glad thy heart!


The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

GUNNAR {almost overcome). Is it true? Thou
wouldst !

HlORDIS. More than that, trust me, ten times
more ! Give me revenge ! Revenge on Sigurd and

Dagny, and I will (Stops as she sees the door open.)

Dagii)- — comest thou here !

DAGNY {from the back). Haste thee, Gunnar!
Call thy men to arms !

Gunnar. To arms ! Against whom?

DAGNY. Kare the Peasant is coming, and many
outlaws with him ; he means thee no good ; Sigurd
has barred his way for the time ; but who can

Gunnar (moved). Sigurd has done this for me !

DAGNY. Sigurd is ever thy faithful friend.

Gunnar. And we, Hiordis — we, who thought

to ! It is as I say — there is a spell in all thy

speech ; no deed but seemeth fair to me, when thou
dost name it.

Dagny (astonished). What meanest thou ?

Gunnar. Nothing, nothing ! Thanks for thy
tidings, Dagny ; I go to gather my men together.
(Turns towards the door, but stops and comes forward
again) Tell me — how goes it with Ornulf ?

Dagny (bowing her head). Ask me not. Yester-
day he bore Thorolf s body to the ships ; now he is
raising a grave-mound on the shore ; — there shall his
son be laid.

(Gunnar says nothing and goes out by the back.)

DAGNY. Until evening there is no danger. (Coming
nearer.) Hiordis, I have another errand in thy house;
it is to thee I come.

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 179

HlORDIS. Tome? After all that befell yesterday?

Dagnv. Just because of that. Hiordis, foster-
sister, do not hate me ; forget the words that sorrow
and evil spirits placed in my mouth ; forgive me all
the wrong I have done thee ; for, trust me, I am
tenfold more hapless than thou !

HlORDIS. Hapless — thou ! Sigurd's wife !

DAGNY. It was my doing, all that befell — the stir-
ring up of strife, and Thorolfs death, and all the
scorn that fell upon Gunnar and thee. Mine is all
the guilt ! Woe upon me ! — I have lived so happily ;
but after this day I shall never know joy again.

HlORDIS (as if seized by a sudden thought). But
before — in these five long years — all that time hast
thou been happy ?

DAGNY. Canst thou doubt it ?

HlORDIS. Hm ; yesterday I doubted it not:

DAGNY. What meanest thou ?

HlORDIS. Nay, 'tis nought ; let us speak of other

DAGNY. No truly. Hiordis, tell me !

HlORDIS. It will profit thee little ; but since thou

wilt have it so ( With a malignant expression.)

Canst thou remember once, over in Iceland — we had
followed with Ornulf thy father to the Council, and
we sat with our playmates in the Council Hall, as is
the manner of women. Then came two strangers into
the hall.

Dagny. Sigurd and Gunnar.

HlORDIS. They greeted us in courteous fashion,
and sat on the bench beside us; and there passed

1S0 Tin: Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

between us much merry talk. There were some who
must needs know why these two vikings came thither,
and if they were not minded to take them wives there
in the island. Then said Sigurd: " It will be hard fra-
me to find the woman that shall be to my mind."
Ornulf laughed, and said there was no lack of
high-born and well-dowered women in Iceland ; but
Sigurd answered : " The warrior needs a high-souled
wife. She whom I choose must not rest content with
a humble lot ; no honour must seem too high for her
to strive for ; she must go with me gladly a-viking ;
war-weed must she wear ; she must egg me on to
strife, and never wink her eyes where sword-blades
lighten ; for if she be faint-hearted, scant honour will
befall me." Is it not true, so Sigurd spake ?

DAGNY (hesitatingly). True, he did — but

HlORDIS. Suck was she to be, the woman who
could make life fair to him; and then — (with a scorn-
ful smile) then he chose thee !

DAGNY (starting, as in pain). Ha, thou wouldst
say that ?

HlORDIS. Doubtless thou has proved thyself
proud and high-souled; hast claimed honour of all,
that Sigurd might be honoured in thee — is it not so ?

DAGNY. Nay, Hiordis, but

HlORDIS. Thou hast egged him on to great deeds,
followed him in war-weed, and joyed to be where the
strife raged hottest — hast thou not ?

DAGNY (deeply moved). No, no !

Hiordis. Hast thou, then, been faint of heart, so
that Sigurd has been put to shame ?

DAGNY (overpozvered). Hiordis, Hiordis !

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 181

HlORDlS (smiling scornfully). Yet thy lot has been
a happy one all these years; — think'st thou that
Sigurd can say the same ?

Dagny. Torture me not. Woe is me ! thou hast
made me see myself too clearly.

HlORDlS. A jesting word, and at once thou art in
tears ! Think no more of it. Look what I have done
to-day. {Takes some arrows from the table.) Are
they not keen and biting — feel ! I know well how to
sharpen arrows, do I not ?

Dagny. And to use them too; thou strikest
surely, Hiordis ! All that thou hast said to me — I
had never thought of before. {More vehemently.) But

that Sigurd ! That for all these years I should

have made his life heavy and unhonoured; — no, no, it
cannot be true !

Hiordis. Nay now, comfort thee, Dagny; indeed
it is not true. Were Sigurd of the same mind as in
former days, it might be true enough; for then was
his whole soul bent on being the foremost man in the
land; — now he is content with a lowlier lot.

Dagny. No, Hiordis; Sigurd is high-minded now
as ever; I see it well, I am not the right mate for him.
He has hidden it from me; but it shall be so no

Hiordis. What wilt thou do ?

Dagny. I will no longer hang like a clog upon his
feet; I will be a hindrance to him no longer.

Hiordis. Then thou wilt ?

DAGNY. Peace; some one comes !
{A House-carl enters from the backl)

The Care. Sigurd Viking is coming to the hall.

iSj The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

Miordis. Sigurd! Then call Gunnar hither.

Till: Carl. Gunnar has ridden forth to gather
his neighbours together; for Kare the Peasant

HlORDIS. Good, good, I know it; go! {The Carl
goes. To DAGNY, who is also going.) Whither wilt

DAGNY. I will not meet Sigurd. Too well I feel
that we must part; but to meet him now — no, no, I
cannot !

{Goes out to the left.)

HlORDIS {looks after her in silence for a moment).

And it was she I would have {completes her thought

by a glance at the bow-string). That had been a poor
revenge; — nay, I have cut deeper now! Hm; it is
hard to die, but sometimes it is harder still to live!
(SlGURD enters from the back.)

HlORDIS. Doubtless thou seekest Gunnar; be
seated, he will be here even now.
{Is going.)

SlGURD. Nay, stay; it is thee I seek, rather than

Hiordis. Me?

SlGURD. And 'tis well I find thee alone.

HlORDIS. If thou comest to mock me, it would
sure be no hindrance to thee though the hall were
full of men and women.

SlGURD. Ay, ay, well I know what thoughts thou
hast of me.

HlORDIS {bitterly). I do thee wrong mayhap !
Nay, nay, Sigurd, thou hast been as a poison to all
my days. Bethink thee who it was that wrought that

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 183

shameful guile; who it was that sat by my side in the
bower, feigning love with the laugh of cunning in his
heart; who it was that flung me forth to Gunnar,
since for him I was good enough, forsooth — and then
sailed away with the woman he held dear !

SiGURD. Man's will can do this and that; but
fate rules in the deeds that shape our lives — so has it
gone with us twain.

HlORDlS. True enough ; evil Norns hold sway over
the world; but their might is little if they find not
helpers in our own heart. Happy is he who has
strength to battle with the Norn — and it is that I
have now in hand.

SiGURD. What mean'st thou ?

HlORDlS. I will essay a trial of strength against
those — those who are over me. But let us not talk
more of this ; I have much to do to-day. (She seats
herself at the table.)

SiGURD {after a short pause). Thou makest good
weapons for Gunnar.

HlORDlS (with a quiet smile). Not for Gunnar,
but against thee.

SiGURD. Most like it is the same thing.

HlORDlS. Ay, most like it is ; for if I be a match
for the Norn, then sooner or later shalt thou and Gun-
nar (breaks off, leans backwards against the table,

and says with an altered ring in her voice :) II m ;
knowest thou what I sometimes dream ? I have
often made it my pastime to limn pleasant pictures
in my mind; I sit and close my eyes and think: Now
comes Sigurd the Strong to the isle ; — he will burn
us in our house, me and my husband. All Gunnar's

184 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

men have fallen ; only he and I are left ; they set
light to the roof from without : — " A bow-shot," cries
Gunnar, "one bow-shot may save us;" — then the
bow-string breaks — " Hiordis, cut a tress of thy hair
and make a bow-string of it, — our life is at stake."
But then I laugh — " Let it burn, let it burn — to me,
life is not worth a handful of hair ! "

SlGURD. There is a strange might in all thy
speech. {Approaches her.)

HiORDlS (looks coldly at him). Wouldst sit beside

SlGURD. Thou deemest my heart is bitter towards
thee. Hiordis, this is the last time we shall have
speech together ; there is something that gnaws me
like a sore sickness, and thus I cannot part from
thee ; thou must know me better

Hiordis. What wouldst thou ?

SlGURD. Tell thee a saga.

Hiordis. Is it sad ?

Sigurd. Sad, as life itself.

Hiordis (bitterly). What knowest thou of the
sadness of life ?

SlGURD. Judge when my saga is over.

Hiordis. Then tell it me ; I shall work the while.
(He sits on a low stool to her right.)

SlGURD. Once upon a time there were two young
vikings, who set forth from Norway to win wealth
and honour ; they had sworn each other friendship,
and held truly together, how far soever they might

HIORDIS. And the two young vikings hight
Sigurd and Gunnar?

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 185

SlGURD. Ay, we may call them so. At last they
came to Iceland ; and there dwelt an old chieftain,
who had come forth from Norway in King Harald's
days. He had two fair women in his house ; but
one, his foster-daughter, was the noblest, for she was
wise and strong of soul ; and the vikings spoke of her
between themselves, and never had they seen a fairer
woman, so deemed they both.

HlORDIS (in suspense). Both ? Wilt thou mock
me ?

SlGURD. Gunnar thought of her night and day,
and that did Sigurd no less ; but both held their
peace, and no man could say from her bearing
whether Gunnar found favour in her eyes ; but that
Sigurd misliked her, that was easy to discern.

HlORDIS (breathlessly). Go on, go on !

SlGURD. Yet ever the more must Sigurd dream
of her ; but of that wist no man. Now it befell one
evening that there was a drinking-feast ; and then
swore that proud woman that no man should possess
her save he who wrought a mighty deed, which she
named. High beat Sigurd's heart for joy ; for he
felt within him the strength to do that deed ; but
Gunnar took him apart and told him of his love ; —
Sigurd said naught of his, but went to the

HlORDIS (vehemently). Sigurd, Sigurd ! (Control-
ling herself) And this saga — is it true ?

S10URD. True it is. One of us had to yield ;
Gunnar was my friend ; I could do nought else. So
thou becamest Gunnar's wife, and I wedded another

HlORDIS. And came to love her !

i86 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

SlGURD. I Learned to prize her; but one woman
only has Sigurd loved, and that is she who frowned
upon him from the first day they met Here ends
my saga ; and now let us part. — Farewell, Gunnar's
wife ; never shall we meet again.

HlORDIS {springing tip). Stay, stay ! Woe to us
both ; Sigurd, what hast thou done ?

SlGURD (starting). I, done ? What ails thee ?

HlORDIS. And all this dost thou tell me now !
But no — it cannot be true !

SlGURD. These are my last words to thee, and
every word is true. I would not thou shouldst think
hardly of me, therefore I needs must speak.

HlORDIS {involuntarily clasps her hands together and
gazes at him in voiceless astonishment). Loved — loved
me — thou ! ( Vehemently, coming close tip to him) I
will not believe thee ! {Looks Jiard at him, and bursts
forth in wild grief.) Yes, it is true, and — baleful
for us both !

{Hides her face in her hands, and turns away from
him. )

SlGURD {terror-stricken). Hiordis !

HlORDIS {softly, struggling with tears and laughter.)

Nay, heed me not ! This was all I meant, that

{Lays her hand on his arm.) Sigurd, thou hast not
told thy saga to the end ; that proud woman thou
didst tell of — she returned thy love !

SlGURD {starts backwards). Thou ?

HlORDIS {with composure). Yes, Sigurd, I have
loved thee, at last I understand it. Thou sayest I
was ungentle and short of speech towards thee ; what
wouldst thou have a woman do ? I could not offer

Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 187

thee my love, for then had I been little worthy of
thee. I deemed thee ever the noblest man of men ;
and then to know thee another's husband — 'twas that
caused me the bitter pain, that myself I could not
understand !

Sigurd (much moved). A baleful web has the
Norn woven around us twain.

HlORDlS. The blame is thine own ; bravely and
firmly it becomes a man to act. When I set that
hard proof for him who should win me, my thought
was all of thee ; — yet couldst thou !

SlGURD. I knew Gunnar's soul-sickness ; I alone
could heal it; — was there aught for me to choose?
And yet, had I known what I now know, I scarce
dare answer for myself; for great is the might of

Hiordis {with animation). But now, Sigurd ! —
A baleful hap has held us apart all these years ; now
the knot is loosed ; the days to come shall make good
the past to us.

SlGURD (shaking his head). It cannot be ; we must
part again.

HlORDlS. Nay, we must not. I love thee, that
may I now say unashamed ; for my love is no mere
dalliance, like a weak woman's ; were I a man — by
all the Mighty Ones, I could still love thee, even as
now I do ! Up then, Sigurd ! Happiness is worth a
daring deed ; we are both free if we but will it, and
then the game is won.

SlGURD. Free? What meanest thou ?

HlORDlS. What is Dagny to thee? What can
she be to thee? No more than I count Gunnar in

i88 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

my secret heart. What matters it though two worth-
less lives be wrecked ?

SlGURD. Hiordis, Hiordis!

HlORDIS. Let Gunnar stay where he is; let
Dagny fare with her father to Iceland ; I will follow
thee in harness of steel, whithersoever thou wendest.
(SlGURD makes a movement) Not as thy wife will
I follow thee ; for I have belonged to another, and
the woman lives that has lain by thy side. No,

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