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King Skule. She died, then ?

Jatgeir. No, she deceived me.

King Skule. And then you became a skald ?

Jatgeir. Ay, then I became a skald.

King Skule {seizes him by the arm). What gift
do I need to become a king ?

Jatgeir. Not the gift of doubt ; else would y< »u
not question so.

King Skule. What gift do I need ?



320 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

Jatgeir. My lord, you are a king.

KING Skule. Have you at all times full faith
that you are a skald ?

Jatgeir {looks silently at him for a while, and asks).
Have you never loved ?

King Skule. Yes, once — burningly, blissfully,
and in sin.

Jatgeir. You have a wife.

King Skule. Her I took to bear me sons.

Jatgeir. But you have a daughter, my lord — a
gracious and noble daughter.

King Skule. Were my daughter a son, I would
not ask you what gift I need. ( Vehemently?) I must
have some one by me who sinks his own will utterly
in mine — who believes in me unflinchingly, who will
cling close to me in good hap and ill, who lives only
to shed light and warmth over my life, and must die
if I fall. Give me counsel, Jatgeir Skald !

Jatgeir. Buy yourself a dog, my lord.

King Skule. Would no man suffice ?

Jatgeir. You would have to search long for such
a man.

King Skule {suddenly). Will you be that man
to me, Jatgeir ? Will you be a son to me ? You
shall have Norway's crown to your heritage —
the whole land shall be yours, if you will be
a son to me, and live for my life-work, and believe
in me.

Jatgeir. And what should be my warranty that
I did not feign ?

King Skule. Give up your calling in life ; sing
no more songs, and then will I believe you !



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 321

JATGEIR. No, lord — that were to buy the crown
too dear.

KING Skule. Bethink you well— 'tis greater to
be a king than a skald.

JATGEIR. Not always.

King Skule. Tis but your unsung songs you
must sacrifice !

JATGEIR. Songs unsung are ever the fairest

King Skule. But I must — I must have one who
can trust in me! Only one. I feel it — had I that
one, I were saved !

JATGEIR. Trust in yourself and you will be saved !

Paul Flida {enters hastily). King Skule, look to
yourself! Hakon Hakonsson lies off Elgjarness with
all his fleet !

King Skule. Off Elgjarness ! Then he is

close at hand.

JATGEIR. Get we to arms then ! If there be
bloodshed to-night, I will gladly be the first to die for
you !

KING SKULE. You, who would not live for me !

JATGEIR. A man can die for another's life-work ;
but if he go on living, he must live for his own.
(Goes.)

PAUL FLIDA (impatiently). Your commands, my
lord ! The Birchlegs may be in Oslo this very hour.

KING SKULE. 'Twere best if we could fare to
Saint Thomas Beckett's grave ; he has helped so
many a sorrowful and penitent soul.

PAUL Flida (more forcibly). My lord, speak not
so wildly now; I tell you, the Birchlegs are upon

us!

21



$22 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

KING Skule. Let all the churches be opened, that
\vc may betake us thither and find grace.

Paul Flida. You can crush all your foemen at
one stroke, and yet would betake you to the
churches !

King Skule. Yes, yes, keep all the churches
open !

Paul Flida Be sure Hakon will break sanctuary,
when 'tis Varbaelgs he pursues.

King Skule. That will he not ; God will shield
him from such a sin ; — God always shields Hakon.

Paul Flida {in deep and sorrowful wrath). Hear-
ing you speak thus, men could not but ask : Who is
king in this land ?

King Skule {smiling mournfully). Ay, Paul
Flida, that is the great question : w/io is king in this
land?

Paul Flida {imploringly). You are soul-sick to-
night, my lord ; let me act for you.

King Skule. Ay, ay, do so.

PAUL Flida {going). First will I break down all
the bridges.

King Skule. Madman ! Stay ! — Break down all
the bridges ! Know you what that means ? I have
assayed it ; — beware of that !

Paul FLIDA. What would you then, my lord ?

King Skule. I will talk with Hakon.

Paul Flida. He will answer you with a tongue
of steel.

King Skule. Go, go ; — you shall learn my will
later.

PAUL Flida. Every moment is precious ! {Seizes



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 323

his hand) King Skule, let us break down all the
bridges, fight like Wolves, 1 and trust in Heaven !

King Skule {softly). Heaven trusts not in me ; I
dare not trust in Heaven.

Paul Flida. Short has been the saga of Varg-
baelgs. {Goes out by the back.)

King SKULE. A hundred cunning heads, a thou-
sand mighty arms, are at my beck ; but not a single
loving, trusting heart. That is kingly beggary ; no
more, no less.

BArd Bratte {from the back). Two wayfarers
from afar stand without, praying to have speech with
you, my lord.

King Skule. Who are they ?

BArd Bratte. A woman and a priest.

King SKULE. Let the woman and the priest
approach.

(BArd goes; King SKULE seats himself musing,
on the right; presently there enters a black-robed
Woman; she wears a long cloak, a hood, and a
thick veil, which conceals her face; a Priest
follows her, and remains standing by the
door)

King Skule. Who are you ?

The Woman. One you have loved.

KING SKULE {shaking his head). There lives no
one who remembers that I have loved. Who arc you,
I ask?

The Woman. One who loves you.

King SKULE. Then are you surely one of the
dead.

1 Varger, the first part of the word Vargl'izlg.



324 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

The Woman {comes close to him and says softly a)id
passionately). Skulc Bardsson !

King Skule {rises with a cry). Ingeborg!

Ingeborg. Do you know me now, Skule?

King Skule. Ingeborg, — Ingeborg!

INGEBORG. Oh, let me look at you — look long at
you, so long ! {Seizes his hand; a pause.) You fair,
you deeply-loved, you faithless man !

King Skule. Take off that veil ; look at me with
the eyes that once were as clear and blue as the sky.

INGEBORG. These eyes have been but as rain-
clouds for twenty years ; you would not know them
again, and you shall never see them more.

King Skule. But your voice is fresh and soft
and young as ever !

Ingeborg. I have used it only to whisper your
name, to imprint your greatness in a young heart, and
to pray to the sinners' God for grace towards us
twain, who have loved in sin.

King Skule. You have done that ?

Ingeborg. I have been silent save to speak loving
words of you ; — therefore has my voice remained
fresh and young.

King Skule. There lies a life-time between.
Every fair memory from those days have I wasted
and let slip

Ingeborg. It was your right.

King Skule. And meantime you, Ingeborg, lov-
ing, faithful woman, have sat there in the north,
guarding and treasuring your memories, in ice-cold
loneliness !

INGEBORG. It was my happiness.



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 325

KING SKULE. And I could give you up to win
might and riches ! With you at my side, as my wife,
I had found it easier to be a king.

INGEBORG. God has been good to me in willing it
otherwise. A soul like mine had need of a great sin,
to arouse it to remorse and expiation.

King SKULE. And now you come ?

INGEBORG. As Andres Skialdarband's widow.

King SKULE. Your husband is dead !

Ingeborg. On the way from Jerusalem.

King SKULE. Then has he atoned for the slaying
of Vegard.

INGEBORG. 'Twas not therefore that my noble
husband took the Cross.

King Skule. Not therefore?

INGEBORG. No; it was my sin he took upon his
strong, loving shoulders ; 'twas that he went to wash
away in Jordan stream ; 'twas for that he bled.

King Skule [softly). Then he knew all ?

INGEBORG. From the first. And Bishop Nicholas
knew it, for to him I confessed. And there was one
other man that came to know it, though how I cannot
guess.

King Skule. Who ?

INGEBORG. Vegard Va;radal.

King Skule. Vegard !

INGEBORG. He whispered a mocking word of me
into my husband's ear, and thereupon Andres Skialdar-
band drew his sword, and slew him on the spot.

King SKULE. He kept ward over her whom I
betrayed and forgot. — And wherefore seek you mc
now ?



326 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

INGEBORG. To bring you the last sacrifice.

King Skule. What mean you ?

Ingeborg (points to the Priest who stands by the
door). Look at him ! — Peter, my son, come hither !

King Skule. Your son !

Ingeborg. And yours, King Skule!

King SKULE (half bewildered). Ingeborg!

(Peter approaches in silent emotion, and throws
himself before King SKULE.)

Ingeborg. Take him ! For twenty years has he
been the light and comfort of my life ; — now are
you King of Norway ; the King's-son must enter on
his heritage ; I have no longer any right to him.

KING SKULE (raises him up, in a storm of joy).
Here, to my heart, you whom I have yearned for so
burningly ! (Presses him in his arms, lets him go, looks
at him, and embraces him again?) My son ! My son !
I have a son ! Ha-ha-ha ! who can stand against me
now? (Goes over to INGEBORG and seizes her hand?)
And you, you give him to me, Ingeborg! You take
not back your word ? You give him to me indeed ?

INGEBORG. Heavy is the sacrifice, and scarce had
I had strength to make it, but that Bishop Nicholas
sent him to me, bearing a letter with tidings of Andres
Skialdarband's death. 'Twas the Bishop that laid
on me the heavy sacrifice, as atonement for all my
sin.

King Skule. Then is the sin blotted out, and
henceforth he is mine alone ; is it not so, mine alone?

INGEBORG. Yes ; but one promise I crave of you.

King SKULE. Heaven and earth, crave all you
will!



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 327

INGEBORG. He is pure as a lamb of God, as I
now give him into your hands. 'Tis a perilous path
that leads up to the throne ; let him not take hurt
to his soul. Hear you, King Skule, let not my child
take hurt to his soul !

King Skule. That I promise and swear to you !

INGEBORG {seizes his arm). From the moment
you mark that his soul suffers harm, let him rather
die!

KING SKULE. Rather die! I promise and swear it!

INGEBORG. Then shall I be of good cheer as I go
back to Halogaland.

King SKULE. Ay, you may be of good cheer.

INGEBORG. There will I repent and pray, till the
Lord calls me. And when we meet before God, he
shall come back to me pure and blameless.

King Skule. Pure and blameless ! {Turning to
Peter.) Let me look at you ! Ay, your mother's
features and mine; you are he for whom I have
longed so sorely.

PETER. My father, my great, noble father ! Let
me live and fight for you ! Let your cause be mine ;
and be your cause what it may — I know that I am
fighting for the right.

King Skule {with a cry of joy). You trust in
me ! You trust in me !

PETER. Immovably !

KING SKULE. Then all is well; then am I surely
saved ! Listen : you shall cast off the monkish hood ;
the Archbishop shall loose you from your vows; the
King's-son shall wield the sword, shall go forward
unwavering to might and honour.



328 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

Peter. Together with you, my noble father ! We
will go together!

King Skule {drawing the youth close up to him-
self). Ay, together, we two alone !

Ingeborg {to herself). To love, to sacrifice all and
be forgotten, that is my saga. {Goes quietly out by the
back.)

King Skule. Now shall a great king's-work be
done in Norway ! Listen, Peter, my son ! We will
awaken the whole people, and gather it into one ; the
man of Viken and the Tronder, the Halogalander
and the Agdeman, the Uplander and the Sogndale-
man, all shall be one great family ! Then shall you
see how the land will come to flourish !

Peter. What a great and dizzy thought !

King Skule. Do you grasp it ?

Peter. Yes — yes ! — Clearly !

King Skule. And have you faith in it?

Peter. Yes, yes ; for I have faith in you !

King SKULE {wildly). Hakon Hakonsson must
die!

PETER. If you will it, then it is right that he
die.

King Skule. 'Twill cost blood ; but that we
cannot heed !

Peter. The blood is not wasted that flows in
your cause.

King Skule. All the might shall be yours when
I have built up the kingdom. You shall sit on the
throne with the circlet on your brow, with the purple
mantle flowing wide over your shoulders ; all men in
the land shall bow before you {The sounds of



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 329

distant horns 1 are heard.) Ha! what was that?
( With a cry.) The Birchleg host ! What was it Paul
Flida said ? (Rushes towards the back.)

Paul Flida {enters and cries). The hour is upon
us, King Skule !

King Skule (bewildered). The Birchlegs ! King
Hakon's host ! Where are they ?

PAUL FLIDA. They are swarming in thousands
down over the Ekeberg.

King Skule. Sound the call to arms! Sound,
sound ! Give counsel; where shall we meet them?

Paul Flida. All the churches stand open for us.

King Skule. 'Tis of the Birchlegs I ask ?

PAUL Flida. For them all the bridges stand open.

King Skule. Unhappy man, what have you done!

Paul Flida. Obeyed my King !

King Skule. My son! My son ! Woe is me; I
have lost your kingdom !

PETER. No, you will conquer ! So great a king's-
thought cannot die !

King Skule. Peace, peace ! (Horns and shouts
are heard, nearer at hand.) To horse ! To arms !
More is at stake here than the life and death of men !
(Rushes out by the back; the others follow him.)



(A street in Oslo. On each side, low wooden houses,
with porches. At the back, Saint Hallvard's church-
yard, enclosed by a high wall witJi a gate. On the

1 Lur, the long wooden horn still used among the mountains in
Norway.



330 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

left, at the end of the wall, is seen the church, the

chief portal of which stands open. It is still night ;

after a little, the day begins to dawn. The alarm-
bell is ringing ; far azvay on the right are heard

battle-shouts and confused noises?)

King S rule's Horn blower {enters from the
right, blows his horn, and shouts). To arms ! To
arms, all King Skule's men ! {Blows his horn again,
and proceeds on his zvay ; presently he is heard blowing
and shouting in the next street?)

A Woman {appears at a house-door on the right).
Merciful God, what is astir ?

A TOWNSMAN {who has come out, half-dressed, from
a house on the other side of the street). The Birchlegs
are in the town ! Now will Skule have his reward
for all his misdeeds.

One of Skule's Men {enters with some others,
bearing their cloaks and weapons on their arms, from a
side street on the left). Where are the Birchlegs ?

Another of Skule's Men {coming from a house
on the right). I know not !

The First. Hist ! Listen ! — They must be down
at the Geite-bridge.

The Second. Off to the Geite-bridge then !
( They all rush out to the right; a Tozvnsman comes
running in from the same side.)

The First Townsman. Hey, neighbour, whence
come you ?

The Second Townsman. From down at the
Lo-river ; there's ugly work there.

The Woman. Saint Olaf and Saint Hallvard !
Is it the Birchlegs, or who is it ?



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 331

The Second Townsman. Who else but the
Birchlegs ! King Hakon is with them ; the whole
fleet is laying in to the wharves ; but he himself
landed with his best men out at Ekcberg.

The First Townsman. Then will he take
revenge for the slaughter at Laka !
The Second Townsman. Ay, be sure of that.
The First Townsman. See, see ! The Varbaelgs
are flying already !

{A troop ofS KULE's men enter in full flight, from
the right.)
One of them. Into the church ! None can
stand against the Birchlegs as they lay about them
to-night.

(The troop rushes into the church and bars the door
on the inside?)
The Second Townsman {looking out to the right).
I see a standard far down the street ; it must be King
Hakon's.

The First Townsman. See, see, how the Var-
baelgs are running !

(A second troop enters from the right?)
One of the Fugitives. Let us betake us to
the church and pray for grace. {They rush at tJie
door?)

SEVERAL VArB/ELGS. 'Tis barred ! 'tis barred !
The First. Up over Martestokke then !
ANOTHER. Where is King Skulc?
THE FIRST. I know not. Away ! yonder I see
the Birchlegs' standard !

{They flee past the church, out to the left. 1 1 akon
enters from the right with his Standard-bearer,



332 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

GregoriusJonsson.Dagfinn the Peasant,
and several other men.)

Dagfinn. Hark to the war-cry ! Skule is gather-
ing his men behind the churchyard.

An Old Townsman (calls from his porch, to
Hakon). Take heed for yourself, dear my lord ; the
Vargbselgs are fierce, now they are fighting for
life.

Hakon. Is it you, old Guthorm Erlendsson?
You have fought both for my father and for my grand-
father.

The Townsman. Would to God I could fight for
you as well.

Hakon. For that you are too old, and there is no
need ; men pour in upon me from all sides.

Dagfinn (pointing off over the wall to the right),
There comes the Duke's standard !

GREGORIUS JONSSON. The Duke himself! He
rides his white war-horse.

DAGFINN. We must hinder his passage through
the gate here!

HAKON. Wind the horn, wind the horn! (The
Hornblower does so.) You blew better, whelp, when
you blew for money on Bergen wharf.

( The Hornblower winds another blast, louder than
the first ; many men come rushing in.)

A VARB/ELG (from the right, fleeing toivards the
church, pursued by a Birchleg). Spare my life ! Spare
my life !

The Birchleg. Not though you sat on the
altar! (Cuts him down.) Methinks you wear a
costly cloak; 'twill fit me well. (Is about to take the



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 333

cloak, but utters a cry and casts away his sword?) My
lord King ! I strike not another stroke for you !
DAGFINN. You say that in such an hour as this?
The Birchleg. Not another stroke !
DAGFINN {cuts him down). Then shall you have
reason to refrain !

THE BIRCHLEG {pointing to the dead Varbalg).
Methought I had done enough when I slew my own
brother. {Dies.)

HAKON. His brother !
DAGFINN. What !

{Goes up to the Varbcelg's body?)
HAKON. Is it true ?
DAGFINN. I fear me it is.

HAKON {shaken). Here see we what a war we are
waging. Brother against brother, father against son ;
— by God Almighty, this must have an end !

GREGORIUS JONSSON. There comes the Duke, in
full fight with Earl Knut's troop !

DAGFINN. Bar the gate against him, king's-
men !

{On the other side of the wall, the combatants come
in sight. The Varbalgs are forcing their way
towards the left, driving the Birchlegs back, foot
by foot. KING SKULE rides his white war-
horse, with his sword drawn. PETER walks at
his side, holding the horse's bridle, and with his
left hand uplifting a crucifix. Paul FLIDA
bears S RULE'S standard, which is blue, with a
golden lion rampant, without the axe.) 1
King Skule. Cut them down ! Sparc no man !

1 The arms of Norway consist of a lion rampant, holding an axe.



334 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

There is come a new heir 1 to the throne of
Norway !

The BlRCHLEGS. A new heir, said he ?

Hakon. Skule Bardsson, let us share the kingdom !

King Skule. All or naught !

HAKON. Think of the Queen, your daughter !

King Skule. I have a son, I have a son ! I think
of none but him !

Hakon. I too have a son ; — if I fall the kingdom
will be his !

KING Skule. Slay the King-child, wherever you
find it ! Slay it on the throne ; slay it at the altar ;
slay it in the Queen's arms !

HAKON. There did you utter your own doom !

King Skule {slashing about him). Slay, slay
without mercy ! King Skule has a son ! Slay, slay !
{The fight gradually passes atuay to the left.)

GREGORIUS JONSSON. The Vargbaelgs are hewing
their way through !

DAGFINN. Ay, but only to flee.

Gregorius JONSSON. Yes, by Heaven, — the other
gate stands open ; they are fleeing already !

DAGFINN. Up towards Martestokke. {Calls out.)
After them, after them, Earl Knut ! Take vengeance,
for the slaughter at Laka !

HAKON. You heard it : he proclaimed my child
an outlaw — my innocent child, Norway's chosen king
after me !

The King's Men. Ay, ay, we heard it !

Hakon. And what is the punishment for such a
crime ?

1 Et nyt kongs-evme.



Act IV.] The Pretenders. 335

The Men. Death !

Hakon. Then must he die ! (Raises his hand to
make oath) Here I swear it : Skule Bardsson shall
die, wherever he be met on unconsecrated ground !

DAGFINN. 'Tis every true man's duty to slay him.

A BlRCHLEG (from the left). Duke Skule has
taken to flight !

THE TOWNSFOLK. The Birchlegs have conquered!

Hakon. What way ?

The BlRCHLEG. Past Martestokke, up towards
Eidsvold ; most of them had horses waiting up
in the streets, else had not one escaped with his life.

HAKON. Thanks be to God that helped us this
time too ! Now may the Queen safely come ashore
from the fleet.

GREGORIUS JONSSON (points off to the right). She
has already landed, my lord ; there she comes !

Hakon (to those nearest him). The heaviest task-
is yet before me ; she is a loving daughter ; — listen —
no word to her of the danger that threatens her child.
Swear to me, one and all, to keep ward over your
King's son ; but let her know nothing.

The Men (softly). We swear it.

MARGRETE (enters, with ladies and attendants, from
the right). Hakon, my husband ! Heaven has
shielded you ; you have conquered and are unhurt !

HAKON. Yes, I have conquered. Where is the
child ?

MARGRETE. On board the King's-ship, in the
hands of trusty men.

Hakon. Go more of you thither. (Some of the
men go.)



336 The Pretenders. [Act IV.

Margrete. Hakon, where is — Duke Skule ?

Hakon. He has made for the Uplands.

Margrete. He lives, then ! — My husband, may
I thank God that he lives ?

HAKON {in painful agitation). Hear me, Margrete:
you have been a faithful wife to me, you have followed
me through good and evil, you have been unspeak-
ably rich in love ; — now must I cause you a heavy
sorrow ; I am loath to do it ; but I am King, there-
fore must I

MARGRETE (in suspense). Has it to do with — the
Duke?

Hakon. Yes. No bitterer lot could befall me
than to live my life far from you ; but if you think it
must be so after what I now tell you — if you feel
that you can no longer sit by my side, no longer
look at me without turning pale — well, we must even
part — live each alone — and I shall not blame you for it

MARGRETE. To part from you ! How can you
think such a thought ? Give me your hand !

Hakon. Touch it not ! — It has even now been
lifted in oath

Margrete. In oath ?

Hakon. An oath that was as the inviolable seal
upon a death-warrant.

MARGRETE {with a shriek). My father ! Oh, my
father! (Totters; two women rush forward to support
her.)

Hakon. Yes, Margrete — his King has doomed
your father to death.

Margrete. Then well I know he has committed
a greater crime than when he took the kingly title.



Act IV. J- The Pretenders. 2>37

HAKON. That has he ; — and now, if you feel that
we must part, so let it be.

Margrete {coming close to him, firmly). We can
never part ! I am your wife, naught in the world but
your wife !

HAKON. Are you strong enough ? Did you hear
and understand all ? I have doomed your father.

MARGRETE. I heard and understood. You have
doomed my father.

Hakon. And you ask not to know what was his
crime?

MARGRETE. 'Tis enough thatj/ozi know it.

HAKON. But it was to death that I doomed him !

Margrete {kneels before the King, and kisses his
hand). My husband and noble lord, your doom is
righteous !



THE CURTAIN FALLS.



22



338 The Pretenders. [Act V.



Act Fifth.

{A room in the Palace at Nidaros. The entrance door is on the
right; to the left a smaller door. It is after night-fall. Paul
Flida, Bard Bratte, and several of King Skule's principal
followers are standing at the window and looking ztpwards.)

A Man-at-arms. How fiercely it glows!

A SECOND. It stretches over half the sky, like a
flaming sword.

BArd Bratte. Holy King Olaf, what bodes such
a sign of dread ?

An OLD VARB^ELG. Assuredly it bodes a great
chief's death.

Paul Flida Hakon's death, my good Varbaelgs.
He is lying out in the fiord with his fleet ; we may
look for him in the town to-night. This time, 'tis our
turn to conquer !

BArd Bratte. Trust not to that ; there is little
heart in the host now.

The OLD VArb^lg. And reason enough, in
sooth ; ever since the flight from Oslo has King
Skule shut himself in, and will neither see nor speak
with his men.

The First Man-at-arms. There are those in
the town who know not whether to believe him alive
or dead.

Paul Flida. The King must out, however sick



Act V.] The Pretenders. 339

he may be. Speak to him, Bard Bratte — the safety
of all is at stake.

BArd Bratte. It avails not ; I have spoken to
him already.

Paul Flida. Then must I try what I can do.


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