Henrik Ibsen.

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Sigurd, not as thy wife, but like those mighty women,
like Hilde's sisters, 1 will I follow thee, and fire thee to
strife and to manly deeds, so that thy name shall be
heard over every land. In the sword-game will I
stand by thy side; I will fare forth among thy
warriors on the stormy viking-raids ; and when thy
death-song is sung, it shall tell of Sigurd and Hiordis
in one !

SlGURD. Once was that my fairest dream ; now,
it is too late. Gunnar and Dagny stand between us,
and that by right. I crushed my love for Gunnar's
sake ; — how great soever my suffering, I cannot undo
my deed. And Dagny — full of faith and trust she
left her home and kindred ; never must she dream
that I longed for Hiordis as often as she took me to
her breast.

HlORDIS. And for such a cause wilt thou lay a
burden on thy life ! To what end hast thou strength
and might, and therewith all noble gifts of the mind ?
And deemest thou it can now beseem me to dwell
beneath Gunnar's roof? Nay, Sigurd, trust me, there
are many tasks awaiting such a man as thou. Erik

1 The Valkyries.



Act III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. i8g

is king of Norway — do thou rise against him ! Many
goodly warriors will join thee and swear thee fealty ;
with unconquerable might will we press onward, and
fight and toil unresting until thou art seated on the
throne of Harfager !

SlGURD. Hiordis, Hiordis, so have I dreamt in my
wild youth ; let it be forgotten — tempt me not !

Hiordis {impressively). It is the Norn's will that
we two shall hold together ; it cannot be altered.
Plainly now I see my task in life : to make thee
famous over all the world. Thou hast stood before
me every day, every hour of my life ; I sought to tear
thee out of my mind, but I lacked the might ; now it
is needless, now that I know thou lovest me.

SlGURD {with forced coldness). If that be so — then
know — I have loved thee ; it is past now ; — I have
forgot those days.

Hiordis. Sigurd, in that thou liest ! So much at
least am I worth, that if thou hast loved me once,
thou canst never forget it.

SlGURD {vehemently). I must ; and now I will.

HIORDIS. So be it ; but thou canst not. Thou
wilt seek to hinder me, but in vain ; ere evening falls,
Gunnar and Dagny shall know all.

SlGURD. Ha, that wilt thou never do !

Hiordis. That will I do !

SlGURD. Then must I know thee ill ; high-souled
have I ever deemed thee.

Hiordis. Evil days breed evil thoughts; too great
has been thy trust in me. I will, I must, go forth by
thy side — forth to face life and strife; Gunnar's roof-
tree is too low for me.



190 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

SlGURD {with emphasis). But honour between man

and man hast thou highly prized. There lack not

,n>unds for strife between me and Gunnar; say, now,

that he fell by my hand, wouldst thou still make all

known and follow me?

HlORDIS (starting). Wherefore askest thou?

SlGURD. Answer me first: what wouldst thou do,
were I to give thy husband his bane.

HlORDIS (looks hard at him). Then must I keep
silence and never rest until I had seen thee slain.

SlGURD {with a smile). It is well, Hiordis — I
knew it.

HlORDIS (hastily). But it can never come to pass !

SlGURD. It must come to pass; thou thyself hast
cast the die for Gunnar's life and mine.

(Gunnar, with some House-carls, enters from the
back.)

Gunnar (gloomily, to Hiordis). See now; the
seed thou hast sown is shooting bravely !

SlGURD (approaching). What is amiss with thee ?

GUNNAR. Sigurd, is it thou? What is amiss?
Nought but what I might well have foreseen. As
soon as Dagny, thy wife, had brought tidings of Kare
the Peasant, I took horse and rode to my neighbours
to crave help against him.

HlORDIS (eagerly). Well ?

Gunnar. I was answered awry where'er I came:
my dealings with Kare had been little to my honour,
it was said ; — hm, other things were said to boot, that
I will not utter. — I am spurned at by all; I am
thought to have done a dastard deed; men hold it
a shame to make common cause with me.



A< t III.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 191

SIGURD. It shall not long be held a shame; ere
evening comes, thou shalt have men enough to face
Kare.

GUNNAR. Sigurd !

Hiordis {in a low voice, triumphantly). Ha, I
knew it well !

SlGURD {with forced resolution). But then is there
an end to the peace between us ; for hearken to my
words, Gunnar — thou hast slain Thorolf, my wife's
kinsman, and therefore do I challenge thee to single
combat 1 to-morrow at break of day.

(HlORDIS, in violent inward emotion, makes a
stride towards SlGURD, but collects herself and
remains standing motionless during the follow-
ing.)
Gunnar {in extreme astonishment). To single

combat ! Me ! — Thou art jesting, Sigurd !

SlGURD. Thou art lawfully challenged to single
combat ; 'twill be a game for life or death ; one of us
must fall !

GUNNAR {bitterly). Ha, I understand it well.
When I came, thou didst talk with Hiordis alone;
she has goaded thee afresh !

SlGURD. Mayhap. {Half tozvards HlORDIS.) A
high-souled woman must ever guard her husband's
honour. {To the men in the background.) And do
ye, house-carls, now go to Gunnar's neighbours, and
say to them that to-morrow he is to ply sword-
strokes with me; none dare call that man a dastard
who bears arms against Sigurd Viking !
{The House-carls go out by the back.)

1 Ilohngang — see note, p. 138.



192 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act III.

GUNNAR {goes quickly up to SlGURD and presses his
hands, in strong emotion). Sigurd, my brave brother,
now I understand thee! Thou venturest thy life for
my honour, as of old for my happiness !

SlGURD. Thank thy wife ; she has the largest
part in what I do. To-morrow at break of day

GUNNAR. I will meet thee. (Tenderly?) Foster-
brother, wilt thou have a good blade of me ? It is a
gift of price.

SlGURD. I thank thee ; but let it hang. — Who
knows if next evening I may have any use for it.

GUNNAR [shakes his hand). Farewell, Sigurd !

SlGURD. Again farewell, and fortune befriend thee
this night !

{They part. GUNNAR goes out to the right.
SlGURD casts a glance at Hiordis, and goes
out by the back.)

Hiordis {after a pause, softly and thoughtfully).
To-morrow they fight ! Which will fall ? (After a
moment's silence, she bursts forth as if seized by a strong
resolution?) Let fall who will — Sigurd and I shall
still be together i



Act IV.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 193



Act Fourth.

(By the coast. It is evening ; the moon breaks foi'th now and
again, from among dark and ragged storm-clouds. At the
back, a black grave-mound, newly heaped-up^)

(ORNULF sits on a stone, in front on the right, his head bare,
his elbows resting on his knees, and his face buried i?i his
hands. His men are digging at the mound j some give light
with pine-knot torches. After a short pause, SiGURD and
Dagny enter from the boat-house, where a wood fire is
burning.)

Dagny {in a low voice). There sits he still.
(/folding' SiGURD back.) Nay, speak not to him !

SiGURD. Thou say'st well ; it is too soon ; best
leave him to himself.

DAGNY {goes over to the right, and gazes at her
father in quiet sorroiv). So strong was he yesterday
when he bore Thorolf's body on his back ; strong was
he as he helped to heap the grave-mound ; but when
they were all laid to rest, and earth and stones piled
over them — then the sorrow seized him ; then seemed
it of a sudden as though his fire were quenched.
{Dries her tears.) Tell me, Sigurd, when thinkest
thou to fare homeward to Iceland ?

SiGURD. So soon as the storm abates, and my
quarrel with Gunnar is ended.

DAGNY. And then wilt thou buy land and build
thee a homestead, and go a-viking no more?

13



194 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act IV.

SiGURD. Yes, yes, — that have I promised.

Dagny. And I may believe without doubt that
Hiordis spoke falsely when she said that 1 was
unworthy to be thy wife ?

SiGURD. Yes yes, Dagny, trust thou to my word.

DAGNY. Then am I glad again, and will try to
forget all the evil that here has been wrought. In
the long winter evenings we will talk together of
'.lunnar and Hiordis, and

SiGURD. Nay, Dagny, wouldst thou have things
go well with us, do thou never speak Hiordis' name
when we sit together in Iceland.

DAGNY {mildly upbraiding him). Unjust is thy
hatred towards her. Sigurd, Sigurd, it is unlike
thee.

One of the Men {approaching). There now,
the mound is finished.

Ornulf (as if awaking). The mound ? Is it —
ay, ay

SiGURD. Now speak to him, Dagny.

DAGNY (approaching). Father, it is cold out here ;
a storm is gathering to-night.

ORNULF. Hm ; heed it not ; the mound is close-
heaped and crannyless ; they lie warm in there.

Dagny. Ay, but thou

Ornulf. i ? I am not cold.

DAGNY. Nought hast thou eaten to-day ; wilt
thou not go in ? The supper- board stands ready.

Ornulf. Let the supper-board stand ; I have no
hunger.

Dagny. But to sit here so still — trust me, thou
wilt take hurt of it ; thou art ever wont to be stirring.



Act IV.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 195

Ornulf. True, true ; there is somewhat that
crushes my breast ; I cannot draw breath.

(He again hides his face in his hands. A pause.
Dag NY seats herself beside him.)

Dagny. To-morrow wilt thou make ready thy
ship and set forth for Iceland ?

Ornulf {without looking up). What should I do
there ? Nay, I will to my sons.

Dagny (with pain). Father!

ORNULF (raises his head). Go in and let me sit
here ; when the storm has played with me for a night
or two, the game will be over, I ween.

SlGURD. Thou canst not think to deal thus with
thyself.

ORNULF. Dost marvel that I fain would rest ?
My day's work is done ; I have laid my sons in their
grave. ( Vehemently.) Go from me ! — Go, go !
(He hides his face.)

Sigurd (softly, to Dagny, who rises). Let him sit
yet a while.

DAGNY. Nay, I have one rede yet untried ; — I
know him. (To ORNULF.) Thy day's work done,
say'st thou ? Nay, that it is not. Thou hast laid thy
sons in the grave ; — but art thou not a skald ? It is
meet that thou should'st sing their memory.

ORNULF (shaking his head). Sing? Nay, nay;
yesterday I could sing ; I am too old to-day.

Da


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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenIbsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) → online text (page 12 of 22)