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malice, for sure. — Hearken, Biorn — know you the
song that is going round the country ?

BlORN. A song?

FINN. Ay, 'tis on all folks' lips. Tis a shameful
scurril thing, for sure; yet it goes prettily. Just
listen (sings in a low voice):

Dame Inger sitteth in Ostrat fair,

She wraps her in cosily furs —

She decks her in velvet and ermine and vair,

Red gold are the beads that she twines in her hair —

But small peace in that soul of hers.

Dame Inger hath sold her to Denmark 's lord.
She bringeth her folk 'neath the stranger's yoke —
In guerdon whereof

(BlORN enraged, seizes him by the throat. Elina
Gyldexlove withdraws without having been
BlORN. And I will send you guerdonless to the
foul fiend, if you prate of Lady Inger but one un-
seemly word more.

FINN {breaking from his grasp). Why — did I
make the song ?

{The blast of a horn is heard from the right.)
BlORN. Hush — what is that ?
Finn. A horn. So we are to have guests to-

BlORN {at the window). They are opening the
gate. I hear the clatter of hoofs in the courtyard.
It must be a knight.

Act I.] Lady Inger of Ostrat. 7

Finn. A knight ? A knight can it scarce be.

BlORN. Why not ?

Finn. You said it yourself: the last of our knight-
hood is dead and gone. {Goes out to the right.)

BlORN. The accursed knave, with his prying and
peering ! What avails all my striving to hide and

hush things? They whisper of her even now ;

ere long will all men be clamouring for

Elina {comes in again through the door on the left;
looks round her, and says with suppressed emotion).
Are you alone, Biorn ?

BlORN. Is it you, Mistress Elina ?

ELINA. Come, Biorn, tell me one of your stories ;
I know you have more to tell than those that

BlORN. A story ? Now — so late in the evening

ELINA. If you count from the time when it grew
dark at Ostrat, it is late indeed.

BlORN. What ails you? Has aught crossed you ?
You seem so restless.

Elina. May be so.

BlORN. There is something the matter. I have
hardly known you this half year past.

Elina. Bethink you : this half year past my
dearest sister Lucia has been sleeping in the vault

BlORN. That is not all, Mistress Elina — it is not
that alone that makes you now thoughtful and white
and silent, now restless and ill at ease, as you are

Elina. You think so? And wherefore not?
Was she not gentle and pure and fair as a summer

Lady [nger of Gstrat. [Act I.

night? Biorn, I tell you, Lucia was dear to me as
my life. Have you forgotten how many a time, as
children, we sat on your knee in the winter evenings?
You sang songs to us, and told us tales

BlORN. Ay, then you were blithe and gay.

ELINA. Ah, then, Biorn ! Then I lived a glorious
lite in the fable-land of my own imaginings. ICan it
be that the sea-strand was naked then as now ? If it
were so, I did not know it. It was there I loved to
go, weaving all my fair romances ; my heroes came
from afar and sailed again across the sea ; I lived in
their midst, and set forth with them when they sailed
away. {Sinks on a chair?) Now I feel so faint and
weary ; I can live no longer in my tales. They are
only — tales. (Rises hastily.) ( Biorn, do you know
what has made me sick ? A truth ; a hateful, hateful
truth, that gnaws me day and night

BlORN. What mean you ?

Elina Do you remember how sometimes you
would give us good counsel and wise saws ? Sister
Lucia followed them ; but I — ah, well-a-day !

BlORN {consoling Iter). Well, well !

Elina I know it — I was proud and self-centred !
In all our games, I would still be the Queen,
because I was the tallest, the fairest, the wisest ! I
know it !

BlORN. That is true.

ELINA Once you took me by the hand and
looked earnestly at me, and said : " Be not proud of
your fairness, or your wisdom ; but be proud as the
mountain eagle as often as you think : I am Inger
Gyldenlove's daughter ! "

Act I.] Lady Inger of Ostrat. 9

BlORN. And was it not matter enough for pride ?

ELINA. You told me so often enough, Biom!
Oh, you told me so many tales in those days.
{Presses his hand.) Thanks for them all ! Now, tell
me one more ; it might make me light of heart again,
as of old.

BlORN. You are a child no longer.

Elina. Nay, indeed ! But let me dream that I
am. — Come, tell on !

( Throws herself into a chair. BlORN sits in the

BlORN. Once upon a time there was a high-born

ELINA {who has been listening restlessly in the
direction of the hall, seizes his ann and breaks out in a
vehement whisper). Hush! No need to shout so
loud ; I can hear well !

BlORN {more softly). Once upon a time there was
a high-born knight, of whom there went the strange


(ELINA half-rises and listens in anxious suspense
in the direction of the hall.)

BlORN. Mistress Elina, what ails you ?

ELINA {sits down again). Me ? Nothing. Go on.

BlORN. Well, as I was saying, when he did but
look straight in a woman's eyes, never could she
forget it after ; her thoughts must follow him where-
ever he went, and she must waste away with sorrow.

ELINA. I have heard that tale And,

moreover, 'tis no tale you are telling, for the knight
you speak of is Nils Lykke, who sits even now in the
Council of Denmark

io Lad? Inger of OstrAt. [Act I.

BlttRN. May be so.

ELINA. Well, let it pass — go on !

B16RN. Now it happened once-

ELINA (rises suddenly). Hush ; be still !

BiORN. What now? What is the matter?

ELINA (listening). Do you hear?

Bl6RN. What?

ELINA It is there! Yes, by the cross of Christ,
it is there !

BiORN {rises). What is there ? Where?

Elina. It is she — in the hall. {Goes hastily
towards the hall.)

BiORN (following). How can you think ?

Mistress Elina, go to your chamber!

ELINA. Hush ; stand still ! Do not move ; do
not let her see you ! Wait — the moon is coming out
Can you not see the black-robed figure ?

BiORN. By all the holy !

Elina. Do you see — she turns Knut Alfson's
picture to the wall. Ha-ha ; be sure it looks her too
straight in the eyes !

BiORN. Mistress Elina, hear me !

Elina (going back towards the fireplace). Now I
know what I know !

BiORN (to himself). Then it is true !

ELINA Who was it, Biorn ? Who was it ?

BiORN. You saw as plainly as I.

ELINA. Well ? Whom did I see ?

BiORN. You saw your mother.

Elina (half to herself). Night after night I have
heard her steps in there. I have heard her whispering
and moaning like a soul in pain. And what says

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. ii

the song Ah, now I know ! Now I know


BlORN. Hush !
(Lady Inger Gyldenlove enters rapidly from
the hall, without noticing the others ; she goes to
the window, draws the curtain, and gazes out as
if watching for some one on the high road ;
after a while, she turns and goes slowly back
into the hall.)
Elina (softly, following her with her eyes). White

as a corpse !

(An uproar of many voices is heard outside the
door on the right?)
BlORN. What can this be ?
Elina. Go out and see what is amiss.

(ElNAR Huk, the bailiff, appears in the ante-
room, with a crowd of Retainers and Peasants?)
Einar Huk (in the doorway). Straight in to her !
And see you lose not heart !
BlORN. What do you seek ?
Einar Huk. Lady Inger herself.
BlORN. Lady Inger? So late ?
Einar Huk. Late, but time enough, I wot
The PEASANTS. Yes, yes ; she must hear us
now !

(The whole rabble crozuds into the room. At the
same moment LADY INGER appears in the
doorzvay of the hall. A sudden silence.)
Lady Inger. What would you with me?

ElNAR Huk. We sought you, noble lady, to

Lady Inger, Well, speak out!

Einar Huk. Why, we are not ashamed of our

Lady [nger of Ostrat. [Act I.

errand In one word, we come to pray you for
weapons and leave ■

LADY INGER. Weapons and leave ? And

for what ?

ElNAR II UK. There has come a rumour from
Sweden that the people of the Dales have risen
against King Gustav

Lady Inger. The people of the Dales?

Eixar HUK. Ay, so the tidings run, and they
seem sure enough.

Lady Ixger. Well, if it were so, what have you
to do with the Dale-folk's rising ?

The Peasants. We will join them! We will
help ! Wc will free ourselves !

Lady Inger {aside). Can the time be come?

Einar HUK. From all our borderlands the
peasants are pouring across to the Dales. Even
outlaws that have wandered for years in the moun-
tains are venturing down to the homesteads again,
and drawing men together, and whetting their rusty

Lady Inger {after a pause). Tell me, men, have
you thought well of this ? Have you counted the
cost, if King Gustav's men should win ?

BlORN {softly and imploringly to Lady Inger).
Count the cost to the Danes if King Gustav's men
should lose.

Lady Inger {evasively). That reckoning is not'
for me to make. {Turns to the people?)

You know that King Gustav is sure of help from
Denmark. King Frederick is his friend, and will
never leave him in the lurch

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 13

Einar HUK. But if the people were now to rise
all over Norway's land ? — if we all rose as one man,
nobles and peasants together? — ay, Lady Inger
Gyldenlove, the time we have waited for is surely
come. We have but to rise now to drive the strangers
from the land.

THE PEASANTS. Ay, out with the Danish sheriffs!
Out with the foreign masters ! Out with the Coun-
cillors' lackeys !

Lady Inger (aside). Ah, there is metal in them ;
and yet, yet !

BiORN (to himself). She is of two minds. (To
ELINA.) What say you now, Mistress Elina — have
you not sinned in misjudging your mother ?

ELINA. Biorn, if my eyes have deceived me, I
could tear them out of my head !

Einar Huk. See you not, my noble lady,
King Gustav must be dealt with first. Once his
power is gone, the Danes cannot long hold this

Lady Inger. And then ?

Einar Huk. Then we shall be free. We shall
have no more foreign masters, and can choose
ourselves a king, as the Swedes have done before

LADY Inger (with animation). A king for our-
selves. Are you thinking of the Sture stock ?

ElNAR Huk. King Christiern and others after
him have swept bare our ancient houses. The best
of our nobles are outlaws on the hill-paths, if so be
they still live ; nevertheless, it might still be possible
to find one or other shoot of the old stems

1 1 Lady [nger of OstrAt. [Act I.

Ladv [NGER (hastily). Enough, Einar Huk,
enough! {'To herself.) Ah, my dearest hope!
( Turns to the Peasants and Retainers.)

I have warned you, now, as well as I can. I have
told you how great is the risk you run. But if you
arc fixed in your purpose, it were folly of me to forbid
what I have no power to prevent.

ElNAR HUK. Then we have your leave to ?

Lady I nger. You have your own firm will ; take
counsel with that. Ifitbeas you say, that you are

daily harassed and oppressed I know but

little of these matters, and would not know more.

What can I, a lonely woman ? Even if you were

to plunder the Banquet Hall — and there's many a good
weapon on the walls — you are the masters at Ostrat
to-night. You must do as seems good to you. Good-
night !

{Loud cries of joy from the' multitude. Candles
are lighted ; the retainers bring out tveapons of
different kinds from the hall.)

BlORN {seizes Lady Inger's hand as she is going).
Thanks, my noble and high-souled mistress ! I, that
have known you from childhood up — I have never
doubted you.

Lady Inger. Hush, Biorn. It is a dangerous
game that I have ventured this night. The others
stake only their lives ; but I, trust me, a thousandfold
more !

BlORN. How mean you ? Do you fear for your
power and your favour with ?

Lady Inger. My power? O God in Heaven!

A Retainer {comes from the hall with a large

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 15

sword). See, here's a real good wolf's-tooth to flay
the blood-suckers' lackeys with !

Einar Huk (to another). What is that you have
found ?

The Retainer. The breastplate they call
Herlof Hyttefad's.

ElNAR Huk. 'Tis too good for such as you.
Look, here is the shaft of Sten Sture's 1 lance ; hang
the breastplate upon it, and we shall have the noblest
standard heart can desire.

Finn {comes from the door on the left, with a letter
in his hand, and goes towards LADY Inger). I have
sought you through all the house.

Lady Inger. What do you want ?

Finn (hands her the letter). A messenger is come
from Trondhiem with a letter for you.

Lady Inger. Let me see ! (opening the letter).
From Trondhiem ? What can it be ? (Runs through
the letter.) Help, Christ ! From him ! and here in


(Reads on with strong emotion, while the men go
on bringing out ar?ns from the hall.)

Lady Inger (to herself). He is coming here. He
is coming here to-night ! — Ay, then 'tis with our
wits we must fight, not with the sword.

Einar Huk. Enough, enough, good fellows ; we
are well armed now, and can set forth on our way.

Lady Inger (with a sudden change of tone). No
man shall leave my house to-night !

ElNAR HUK. But the wind is fair, noble lady;
we can sail up the fiord, and

1 Pronounce Stayn Stoor?.

16 Lady Inger of Ostrat. [Act I.

LADY [NGER. It shall be as I have said.

ElNAR IIuk. Are we to wait till to-morrow,
then ?

Lady INGER. Till to-morrow, and longer still.
No armed man shall go forth from Ostrat yet awhile.
(Signs of displeasure among the crowd.)

Some of the Peasants. We will go all the
same, Lady Inger !

The Cry Spreads. Yes, yes ; we will go !

LADY INGER {advancing a step towards them).
Who dares to move?

{A silence. After a momenfs pause, she adds :)

I have thought for you. What do you common
folk know of the country's needs? How dare you
judge of such things? You must even bear your
oppressions and burdens yet awhile. Why murmur
at that, when you see that we, your leaders, are as ill

bested as you ? Take all the weapons

back to the hall. You shall know my further will
hereafter. Go !

{The Retainers take back the arms, and the
whole crowd tlien withdraws by the door on
the right.)

Elina {softly to BlORN). Do you still think I
have sinned in misjudging — the Lady of Ostrat ?

Lady Inger {beckons to BlORN, and says). Have
a guest chamber ready.

BlORN. It is well, Lady Inger !

Lady Inger. And let the gate stand open to all
that knock.

BlORN. But ?

Lady Inger. The gate open !

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 17

BlORN. The gate open. (Goes out to the right.)

LADY INGER {to ELINA, %vho has already reached

the door on the left). Stay here ! Elina —

my child — I have something to say to you alone.

Elina. I hear you.

LADY INGER. Elina you think evil of

your mother.

Elina. I think, to my sorrow, what your deeds
have forced me to think.

Lady Inger. You answer out of the bitterness
of your heart.

ELINA. Who has filled my heart with bitterness?
From my childhood I have been wont to look up to
you as a great and high-souled woman, f It was in
your likeness I pictured the women we read of in the
chronicles and the Book of Heroes. I thought the
Lord God himself had set his seal on your brow, and
marked you out as the leader of the helpless and the
oppressed. I Knights and nobles sang your praise in
the feast-hall, and the peasants, far and near, called
you the country's pillar and its hope. All thought
that through you the good times were to come again !
All thought that through you a new day was to dawn
over the land ! , The night is still here ; and I no l
longer know if I dare look for any morning to come
through you.)

Lady INGER. It is easy to sec whence you have
learnt such venomous words. You have let yourself
give ear to what the thoughtless rabble mutters and
murmurs about things it can little judge of.

ELINA. " Truth is in the people's mouth," was
your word when they praised you in speech and song.


i8 Lady Inger of Ostkat. [Act I..

Lady INGER. May be so. But if indeed I had
chosen to sit here idle, though it was my part to act
— do you not think that such a choice were bur-
den enough for me, without your adding to its
weight ?

Elina. The weight I add to your burden bears
on me as heavily as on you. Lightly and freely I
drew the breath of life, so long as I had you to
believe in. For my pride is my life ; and well had it
become me, if you had remained what once you were.

LADY INGER. And what proves to you I have
not ? Elina, how can you know so surely that you
are not doing your mother wrong ?

Elina {vehemently). Oh, that I were !

LADY Inger. Peace ! You have no right to call

your mother to account With a single word I

could ; but it would be an ill word for you

to hear ; you must await what time shall bring ; may
be that

Elina {turns to go). Sleep well, my mother !

Lady Inger {hesitates). Nay, stay with me ; I
have still somewhat — Come nearer ;— you must hear
me, Elina !

{Sits down by the table in front of the window.)

Elina. I am listening.

LADY Inger. For as silent as you are, I know
well that you often long to be gone from here.
Ostrat is too lonely and lifeless for you.

Elina. Do you wonder at that, my mother ?

Lady Inger. It rests with you whether all this
shall henceforth be changed.

Elina. How so ?

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 19

Lady Inger. Listen. — I look for a guest to-night.

Elina (comes nearer). A guest ?

Lady Inger. A stranger, who must remain a
stranger to all. None must know whence he comes
or whither he goes.

ELINA {throws herself, with a cry of joy, at Jier
mother's feet and seizes her hands). My mother !
My mother ! Forgive me, if you can, all the wrong I
have done you !

LADY Inger. What do you mean? Elina, I do
not understand you.

ELINA. Then they were all deceived ! You are
still true at heart !

Lady Inger. Rise, rise and tell me

Elina. Do you think I do not know who the
stranger is ?

Lady Inger. You know? And yet ?

Elina / Do you think the gates of Ostrat shut so
close that never a whisper of evil tidings can slip
through ? } Do you think I do not know that the heir
of many a noble line wanders outlawed, without rest
or shelter, while Danish masters lord it in the home
of his fathers ? .

[ Lady Inger. And what then?

ELINA. I know well that many a high-born knight
is hunted through the woods like a hungry wolf.
No hearth has he to rest by, no bread to eat

Lady Inger {coldly). Enough! Now I under-
stand you.

ELINA (continuing). And that is why the gates of
Ostrat must stand open by night ! That is why he
must remain a stranger to all, this guest of whom

20 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act I.

none must know whence he comes or whither he

:s! Von are setting at naught the harsh decree

that forbids you to harbour or succour the exiles

Lady INGER. Enough, I say!

{After a short silence, adds with an effort :)

You mistake, Elina — it is no outlaw that I look

ELINA (rises). Then I have understood you ill

Lady INGER. Listen to me, my child; but think
as you listen ; if indeed you can tame that wild spirit
of yours.

Elina. I am tame, till you have spoken.
,-^Lady Inger. Then hear what I have to say — I
have sought, so far as lay in my power, to keep you
in ignorance of all our griefs and miseries. What
could it avail to fill your young heart with wrath and
care ? It is not weeping and wailing of women that
can free us from our evil lot; we need the courage
and strength of men.

ELINA. Who has told you that, when courage and
strength are needed, I shall be found wanting ?

Lady Inger. Hush, child; — I might take you at
your word.

ELINA. How mean you, my mother ?

LADY Inger. I might call on you for both; I

might ; but let me say my say out first.

^ Know then that the time seems now to be drawing
nigh, towards which the Danish Council have been
working for many a year — the time for them to strike
a final blow at our rights and our freedom. There-
fore must we now

Act L] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 21

ELINA {eagerly). Throw off the yoke, my mother ?
Lady Inger. No; we must gain breathing-time.
The Council is now sitting in Copenhagen, consider-
__ ing how best to aim the blow. ( Most of them are
said to hold that there can be no. end to dissensions
till Norway and Denmark are one ; for if we should
still have our rights as a free land when the time
comes to choose the next king, it is most like that
the feud will break out openly. Now the Danish
Councillors would hinder this

ELINA. Ay, they would hinder it ! But are

we to endure such things? Are we to look on quietly
while ?

Lady Inger. No, we will not endure it. But to
take up arms — to begin open warfare — what would
come of that, so long as we are not united ? And
were we ever less united in this land than we are
even now ? — No, if aught is to be done, it must be
done secretly and in silence. Even as I said, we
must have time to draw breathj In the South, a good
part of the nobles are for the Dane; but here in the
North they are still in doubt. Therefore King
Frederick has sent hither one of his most trusted
councillors, to assure himself with his own eyes how
we stand affected.

ELINA (anxiously). Well — and then ?

Lady Inger. He is the guest I look for to-night.

Elina. He comes here ? And to-night ?

LADY INGER. He reached Trondhiem yesterday
by a trading ship. Word has just been brought that
he is coming to visit me; he may be here within the

22 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act I.

ELINA. Have you not thought, my mother, how it
will endanger your fame thus to receive the Danish
envoy? Do not the people already regard you with
distrustful eyes ? How can you hope that, when the
time comes, they will let you rule and guide them, if
it be known that

Lady Inger. Fear not. All this I have fully
weighed ; but there is no danger, j His errand in Nor-
way is a secret; he has come unknown to Trondhiem,
and unknown shall he be our guest at Ostrat. ;

Elina And the name of this Danish lord ?

Lady Inger. It sounds well, Elina; Denmark
has scarce a nobler name.

Elina. But what do you purpose then ? I can-
not yet grasp your meaning.

Lady Inger. You will soon understand. — Since
we cannot trample on the serpent, we must bind

ELINA. Take heed that he burst not your bonds.

Lady Inger. It rests with you to tighten them
as you will.

Elina. With me?

Lady Inger. I have long seen that Ostrat is as
a cage to you. The young falcon chafes behind the
iron bars.

Elina. My wings are clipped. Even if you set
me free — it would avail me little.

Lady Inger. Your wings are not clipped, except
by your own will.

Elina Will? My will is in your hands. Be
what you once were, and I too

Lady Inger. Enough, enough. Hear what re-

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 23

mains It would scarce break your heart to leave


Elina. Maybe not, my mother !

Lady Inger. You told me once, that you lived
your happiest life in tales and histories. What if that
life were to be yours once more ?

Elina. What mean you?

Lady Inger. Elina — if a mighty noble were now
to come and lead you to his castle, where you should
find damsels and pages, silken robes and lofty halls
awaiting you ?

Elina. A noble, you say ?
(^Lady Inger. A noble.

Elina {more softly). And the Danish envoy comes
here to-night ?

Lady Inger. To-night.

Elina. If so be, then I fear to read the meaning
of your words.

Lady INGER. There is nought to fear if you mis-
read them not. Be sure it is far from my thought to
put force upon you. You shall choose for yourself in
this matter, and follow your own counsel.

Elina {comes a step nearer). Have you heard the
story of the mother that drove across the hills by
night with her little children by her in the sledge?
The wolves were on her track; it was life or death
with her; — and one by one she cast out her little
ones, to gain time and save herself.

LADY Inger. Nursery tales ! A mother would
tear the heart from her breast, before she would cast
her child to the wolves !

Elina. Were I not my mother's daughter, I would

24 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act I.

say you were right.) But you are like that mother ;
one by one you have cast out your daughters to the
wolves. The eldest went first. Five years ago
Mcretc 1 went forth from Ostrat; now she dwells in
Bergen, and is Vinzents Lunge's 2 wife. But think
you she is happy as the Danish noble's lady ? Vin-
zents Lunge is mighty, well-nigh as a king; Merete
has damsels and pages, silken robes and lofty halls;
but the day has no sunshine for her, and the night no
rest; for she has never loved him. (He came hither
and he wooed her; for she was the greatest heiress in

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