Henrik Ibsen.

Ibsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) online

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{Goes to the door on the left, and knocks.) My lord
King, you must take the helm in your own hands ;
things cannot go on in this fashion.

King Skule {within). I am sick, Paul Flida.

PAUL Flida. What else can you look for ? You
have eaten nought these two days ; you must nourish
and strengthen you

King Skule. I am sick.

PAUL FLIDA. By the Almighty, 'tis no time for
sickness. King Hakon lies out in the fiord, and may
be upon us here in Nidaros at any moment.

King Skule. Strike him down for me ! Slay
him and the King-child !

Paul Flida. You must come with us, my lord !

King Skule. No, no, no, — you are surest of for-
tune and victory when I am not there.

PETER {enters from the right ; he is in armour).
The townsfolk are ill at ease ; they flock together in
great masses before the palace.

BArd BRATTE. Unless the King speak to them,
they will desert him in the hour of need.

PETER. Then must he speak to them. {At the
door on the left.) Father ! The Trondcrs, your
trustiest subjects, will fall away from you if you do
not give them courage.

KING SKULE. What said the skald ?

Peter The skald !



340 The Pretenders. [Act V.

KING Skule. The skald who died for my sake at
Oslo. A man cannot give what he himself does not
possess, he said.

Peter. Then neither can you give away the
kingdom ; for it is mine after you !

King Skule. Now I come !

PAUL Flida. God be praised !

King Skule {comes forward in the door-way; lie
is pale and haggard; his hair has groivn very grey).
You shall not look at me ! I will not have you look
at me when I am sick ! {Goes up to Peter.) Take
the kingdom from you, did you say? Great God in
heaven, what was I about to do !

Peter. Oh, forgive me; — I know that what you
do is ever the right.

King Skule. No, no, not hitherto; but I will be
strong and sound now — I will act !

LOUD SHOUTS {without, on the right). King Skule !
King Skule !

King Skule. What is that ?

Bard Bratte {at the window). The townsmen
are flocking together; the whole courtyard is full of
people ; — you must speak to them.

King Skule. Do I look like a king? Can I
speak now?

PETER. You must, my noble father!

KING SKULE. Well, be it so. {Goes to the window
and draws the curtain aside, but lets it go quickly and
starts back in terror?) There stands the flaming sword
over me again !

Paul Flida It bodes that the sword of victory
is drawn for you.



Act V.] The Pretenders. 341

King Skule. Ah, were it but so ! {Goes to the
window and speaks out) Tronders, what would you ?
Here stands your King.

A Townsman {without). Leave the town ! The
Birchlegs will burn and slay if they find you here.

KING SKULE. We must all hold together. I
have been a gracious king to you ; I have craved but
small war-tax

A Man's VOICE {down in the crowd). What call
you all the blood, then, that flowed at Laka and
Oslo?

A Woman. Give me my betrothed again !

A BOY. Give me my father and my brother !

ANOTHER Woman. Give me my three sons, King
Skule !

A Man. He is no king ; he has not been hom-
aged on St. Olaf s shrine !

Many Voices. No, no, he has not been homaged
on St. Olaf's shrine ! He is no king !

KING Skule {shrinks behind the curtain). Not
homaged ! No king !

Paul Flida. 'Twas a dire mischance that the
shrine was not brought forth when you were chosen.

BARD BRATTE. Should the townsfolk desert us,
we cannot hold Nidaros when the Birchlegs come.

King Skule. And they will desert us so long as
I am not homaged on the Saint's shrine.

PETER. Then let the shrine be brought forth, and
take our homage now !

Paul Flida {shaking his head). How should that
be possible ?

PETER. Is aught impossible, where he is concerned?



34 2 The Pretenders. [Act V.

Sound the call for the folkmote, and bring
forth the shrine !

Several OF THE Men {shrinking back). Sacrilege !

Peter. No sacrilege ! — Come, come ! The monks
arc well disposed towards King Skule ; they will
grant us

PAUL FLIDA. That will they not ; they dare not,
for the Archbishop.

Peter. Are you king's-men, and will not lend
your aid when so great a cause is at stake ! Good,
there are others below of better will. My father and
King, the monks shall give way ; I will pray, I will
beseech ; sound the summons for the folkmote ; you
shall bear your kingship rightfully. {Rushes out to the
right.)

King Skule {beaming with joy). Saw you him !
Saw you my gallant son ! How his eyes shone ! Yes,
we will all fight and conquer. How strong are the
Birchlegs ?

Paul FLIDA. Not stronger than that we may
master them, if but the townsfolk hold to us !

King Skule. They shall hold to us. We must
all be at one now and put an end to this time of
dread. See you not that 'tis Heaven's command that
we should end it ? Heaven is wroth with all Norway
for the deeds that have so long been doing. A flaming
sword glows night by night in the sky ; women swoon
and bear children in the churches ; a frenzy creeps
abroad among priests and monks, causing them to run
through the streets and proclaim that the last day
is come. Ay, by the Almighty, this shall be ended at
one stroke !



Act V.] The Pretenders. 343

PAUL Flida What are your commands?
KING Skule. All the bridges shall be broken
down !

PAUL Flida Go, and let all the bridges be broken
down. {One of the Men-at-arms goes out to the
right.)

KING SKULE. Gather all our men upon the fore-
shore ; not one Birchleg shall set foot in Nidaros.

Paul Flida. Well spoken, King.

King Skule. When the shrine is borne forth, a
folkmote shall be summoned. The host and the
townsfolk shall be called together.

Paul FLIDA {to one of the men). Go forth and bid
the hornblower wind his horn in all the streets.
{The man goes.)

King Skule {addresses the people from the window).
Hold fast to me, all my sorrowing people. There shall
come peace and light over the land once more, as in
Hakon's first glad days, when the fields yielded two
harvests every summer. Hold fast to me ; believe in
me and trust to me ; 'tis that I need so unspeakably.
I will watch over you and fight for you ; I will bleed
and fall for you, if need be; but fail me not, and doubt

not ! {Loud cries, as though of terror, are heard

among the peopled) What is that ?

A Wild Voice. Atone ! Atone !

BArd Bratte {looks out). 'Tis a priest possessed
of the devil !

PAUL FLIDA. He is tearing his cowl to shreds and
scourging himself with a whip.

The VOICE. Atone, atone ! The last day is
come.



344 The Pretenders. [Act V.

MANY VOICES. Flee, flee! Woe upon Nidaros!
A deed of sin !

KING Skule. What has befallen ?

BArd Bratte. All flee, all shrink away as though
a wild beast were in their, midst.

King Skule. Yes, all flee. ( With a cry of Joy.)
Ha ! it matters not. We are saved ! See, see — King
Olaf's shrine stands in the middle of the court-
yard.

Paul Flida King Olaf's shrine !

BARD BRATTE. Ay, by Heaven — there it stands !

KING SKULE. The monks are true to me; so
good a deed have they never done before !

Paul Flida. Hark ! the call to the folkmote !

King Skule. Now shall I be lawfully homaged.

PETER {enters from the right). Take on you the
kingly mantle ; now stands the shrine out yonder.

King Skule. Then have you saved the kingdom
for me and for yourself; and tenfold will we thank
the pious monks for yielding.

Peter. The monks, father — you have nought to
thank them for.

King SKULE. 'Twas not they that helped you ?

Peter. They laid the ban of the Church on
whoever should dare to touch the holy thing.

King Skule. The Archbishop then ! At last he
gives way.

Peter. The Archbishop hurled forth direr curses
than the monks.

KING Skule. Ah, then I see that I still have trusty
men. You here, who should have been the first to
serve me, stood terrified and shrank back — but down



Act V.] The Pretenders. 345

in the crowd have I friends who for my sake fear not
to take a sin upon their souls.

PETER. You have not one trusty man who dared
to take the sin upon him.

King Skule. Almighty God ! has then a miracle
come to pass ? Who bore out the holy thing ?

PETER. I, my father !

King Skule {shrieks). You !

The Men {shrink back appalled). Church-robber!
(PAUL Flida, BArd Bratte, and one or two
others go out.)

Peter. The deed had to be done. No man's
faith is assured ere you be lawfully homaged. I
begged, I besought the monks; it availed not. Then
I broke open the church door ; none dared to follow
me. I sprang up to the high altar, gripped the
handle, and pressed hard with my knees ; 'twas as
though an unseen power gave me more than human
strength. The shrine came loose, I dragged it after
me down the nave, while the ban moaned like a
storm high up under the vaultings. I dragged it out
of the church ; all fled and shrank from me. When I
came to the middle of the courtyard the handle broke;
here it is ! {Holds it aloft.)

KING SKULE {quietly, appalled). Church-robber !

PETER. For your sake ; for the sake of your
great king's-thought! You will wipe out the sin ; all
that is evil you will wipe away. Light and peace
will follow you ; a glorious day will dawn over tin-
land — what matter, then, if there were a storm-nighl
before it ?

KING SKULE. There was as 'twere a halo round



346 The Pretenders. [Act V.

your head when your mother brought you to me ; —
now I see in its stead the lightnings of the ban.

Peter. Father, father, think not of me ; be not
afraid for my woe or weal. Is it not your will I have
fulfilled ? — how can it be accounted to me for a
crime ?

KING Skule. I hungered for your faith in me,
and your faith has turned to sin.

Peter (zvildly). For your sake, for your sake !
Therefore God dare not deny to blot it out !

King Skule. " Pure and blameless," I swore to
Ingeborg — and he scoffs at heaven !

PAUL Flida (entering). All is in uproar! The
impious deed has struck terror to your men ; they
flee into the churches.

King Skule. They shall out ; they must out !

BARD Bratte (entering). The townsfolk have
risen against you ; they are slaying the Varbaelgs
wherever they find them, on the streets or in the
houses !

A Man-at-Arms (entering). The Birchlegs are
sailing up the river !

King SKULE. Summon all my men together!
None must fail me here !

Paul Flida. They will not come ; they are
benumbed with dread.

King Skule (despairingly). But I cannot fall
now ! My son must not die with a deadly sin upon
his soul !

Peter. Think not of me ; 'tis you alone that are
to be thought of. Let us make for Indherred ; there
all men are true to you !



Act V.] The Pretenders. 347

King Skule. Ay, to flight ! Follow me, whoso
would save his life !

BArd Bratte. What way?

King Skule. Over the bridge !

Paul Flida All the bridges are broken down,
my lord.

King Skule. Broken down ! All the bridges

broken down, say you ?

Paul Flida. Had you broken them down at
Oslo, you might have let them stand at Nidaros.

King Skule. We must over the river none the
less ; — we have our lives and our souls to save ! To
flight ! To flight !

(He and Peter rush out to the left.)

BArd Bratte. Ay, better so than to fall at the
hands of the townsfolk and the Birchlegs.

Paul Flida. In God's name, then, to flight !
(All follow Skule).

( The room stands empty for a short time; a distant
and confused noise is heard from the streets ;
then a troop of armed Townsmen rushes in by the
door on the right.)

A TOWNSMAN. Here ! He must be here !

Another. Slay him !

MANY. Slay the church-robber too !

A SINGLE One. Go carefully ! They may yet
bite!

The First Townsman. No need ; the Birchlegs
are already coming up the street.

A Townsman (entering). Too late — King Skule
has fled !

MANY. Whither? Whither?



348 The Pretenders. [Act V.

The New-comer. Into one of the churches,
methinks; they are full of Vargbaelgs.

The First Townsman. Then let us seek for
him ; great thanks and reward will King Hakon give
to the man who slays Skule.

ANOTHER. Here come the Birchlegs.

A Third. King Hakon himself!

Many of the Crowd {shout). Hail to King
Hakon Hakonsson !

Hakon {otters from the right, folloived by Gre-
GORIUS JONSSON, DAGFINN THE PEASANT, and many
others). Ay, now are you humble, you Tronders;
you have stood against me long enough.

The First Townsman {kneeling). Mercy, my
lord ! Skule Bardsson bore so hardly on us!

Another {also kneeling). He compelled us, else
had we never followed him.

The First. He seized our goods and forced us
to fight for his unrighteous cause.

The SECOND. Alas, noble lord, he has been a
scourge to his friends no less than to his foes.

MANY VOICES. Ay, ay, — Skule Bardsson has been
a scourge to the whole land.

Dagfinn. That, at least, is true enough.

HAKON. Good ; with you townsfolk I will speak
later ; 'tis my purpose to punish sternly all transgres-
sions ; but first there are other matters to be thought
of. Knows any man where Skule Bardsson is ?

Many. In one of the churches, lord !

HAKON. Do you know it certainly ?

THE TOWNSMEN. Ay, there are all the Varg-
baelg-s.



Act V.] The Pretenders. 349

Hakon {softly, to Dagfinn). He must be found ;
set a watch on all the churches in the town.

Dagfinn. And when he is found, he must be slain
without delay.

Hakon {softly). Slain ! Dagfinn, Dagfinn, how
hard it seems !

Dagfinn. My lord, you swore it solemnly at
Oslo.

HAKON. And all men in the land will call for his
death. {Turns to GREGORIUS JONSSON and says,
unheard by the others.) Go ; you were once his friend;
seek him out and prevail on him to fly the land.

GREGORIUS {joyfully). You will suffer it, my lord !

Hakon. For my gentle, well-beloved wife's sake.

GREGORIUS Jonsson. But should he not flee ? If
he will not or cannot ?

HAKON. Then, in God's name, I cannot spare
him ; then must my kingly word be fulfilled. Go !

GREGORIUS JONSSON. I go, and shall do my
utmost. Heaven grant I may succeed.
{Goes out by the right.)

HAKON. You, Dagfinn, go with trusty men down
to the King's-ship ; you shall conduct the Queen and
her child up to Elgesaeter 1 convent.

DAGFINN. My lord, think you she will be safe
there ?

HAKON. Nowhere safer. The Vargbaelgs have
shut themselves up in the churches, and she has
besought to be sent thither ; her mother is at El
saeter.

DAGFINN. Ay, ay, that I know.

1 Zt£s?ta?/


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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenIbsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) → online text (page 20 of 22)