Henrik Ibsen.

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Norway.

The Monk. Hear now, King Skule, what brings
me to you —
my Master's henchmen down there are legion,
and each up here is allotted a region ;
they gave Norway to me, as the place I best knew.
Hakon Hakonsson serves not my Master's will;
we hate him, for he is our foeman still —
so he must fall, leaving you at the helm,
the sole possessor of crown and realm.

King Skule. Ay, give me the crown ! When
once I have that, I will rule so as to buy myself free
again.

The Monk. Ay, that we can always talk of later

we must seize the time if we'd win the fight.

King Hakon's child sleeps at Elgesaeter ;

could you once wrap him in the web of night,

then like storm-swept motes will your foes fly routed,

then your victory's sure and your kingship undoubted !

King Skule. Think you surely that the victory
were mine ?

THE MONK All men in Norway are sighing for
rest;
the king with an heir 1 is the king they love best —
a son to succeed to the throne without wrangling ;
for the people are tired of this hundred-years'

jangling.
Rouse you, King Skule ! one great endeavour !

1 Et koiips-e/wie.



Act V.] The Pretenders. 359

the foe must perish to-night or never !
See to the northward how light it has grown,
see how the fog lifts o'er fiord and o'er valley- — ■
there gather noiselessly galley on galley —
hark ! men are marching with rumble and drone !
One word of promise, and all is your own —
hundreds of glittering sails on the water,
thousands of warriors hurtling to slaughter.

King Skule. What word would you have ?

The Monk. For raising you highest, my one
condition
is just that you follow your heart's ambition ;
all Norway is yours, to the kingship I'll speed you,
if only you vow that your son shall succeed you !

King SKULE {raising his Jiand as if for an oath).

My son shall (Stops suddenly, and breaks forth in

terror?) The church-robber! All the might to him !
Ha ! now I understand ; — you seek for his soul's
perdition ! Get thee behind me, get thee behind me !
{Stretches out his arms to heaven.) Oh have mercy
on me, thou to whom I now call for help in my
sorest need !

{He falls prone to the earth.)

THE Monk. Accursed ! He's slipped through
my fingers at last —
and I thought of a surety I held him so fast !
But the Light, it seems, had a trick in store
that I knew not of — and the game is o'er.
Well, well ; what matters a little delay?
Perpeluum mobile' 1 * well under way;
my might is assured through the years and the
the haters of light shall be still in my wages ;



360 The Pretenders. [Act V.

in Norway my empire for ever is founded,
though it be to my subjects a riddle unsounded.

( Com ing forzvard. )
While to their life-work Norsemen set out
will-lcssly wavering, daunted with doubt,
while hearts are shrunken, minds helplessly shivering,
weak as a willow-wand wind-swept and quivering, —
while about one thing alone they're united,
namely, that greatness be stoned and despited, —
when they seek honour in fleeing and falling
under the banner of baseness unfurled, —
then Bishop Nicholas 'tends to his calling,
the Bagler-Bishop's at work in the world !

{He disappears in the fog among the trees.)
King Skule {after a short pause, half rises and
looks around). Where is he, my black comrade ?
(Springs up.) My guide, my guide, where are you ?
Gone ! — No matter ; now I myself know the way,
both to Elgesseter and further.

{Goes out to the right.)



( The Courtyard of Elgesceter Convent. To the left lies
the chapel, with an entrance from the courtyard ; the
windows are lighted up. Along the opposite side of
the space stretch some lower buildings ; in the back,
the convent wall with a strong gate, which is locked.
It is a clear moonlight night. Three BlRCHLEG
Chiefs stand by the gate ; Margrete, Lady
Ragnhild, and Dagfinn the Peasant come out
from tJie diapel.)



Act V.] The Pretenders. 361

LADY Ragnhild {half to herself). King Skulc
had to flee into the church, you say ! He, he, a fugi-
tive ! begging at the altar for peace — begging for his
life mayhap — oh no, no, that cannot be ; but God will
punish you who dared to let it come to this !

MARGRETE. My dear, dear mother, curb yourself ;
you know not what you say ; 'tis your grief that
speaks.

Lady Ragnhild. Hear me, ye Birchlegs ! Tis
Hakon Hakonsson that should lie before the altar,
and beseech King Skule for life and peace.

A BlRCHLEG. It ill beseems faithful men to listen
to such words.

MARGRETE. Uncover before a wife's sorrow !

Lady Ragnhild. King Skule doomed ! Woe
upon you, woe upon you all, when he recovers his
power !

Dagfinn. That will never be, Lady Ragnhild.

MARGRETE. Hush, hush !

Lady Ragnhild. Think you Hakon Hakonsson
dare let his doom be fulfilled if the King should fall
into his hands ?

DAGFINN. King Hakon himself best knows
whether a king's oath can be broken.

Lady Ragnhild {to Margrete). And this man
of blood have you followed in faith and Iovel
Are you your father's child ? May the wrath of
heaven ! Go from me, go from me !

MARGRETE. Blessed be your lips, although they
curse me now.

Lady Ragnhild. T must down to Nidaros and
into the church to find King Skule. He sent Die



362 The Pretenders. [Act V.

from him when he sat victorious on the throne ; then,
truly, he had no need of me — now will he not be
wroth if I come to him. Open the gate for me; let
me go to Nidaros !

Margrete. My mother, for God's pity's sake !

(A loud knocking at the convent gate?)

DAGFINN. Who knocks ?

King Skule {without). A king.

Dagfinn. Skule Bardsson.

Lady Ragnhild. King Skule !

Margrete. My father !

King Skule. Open, open !

Dagfinn. We open not here to outlaws.

KING SKULE. 'Tis a king who knocks, I tell you ;
a king who has no roof over his head ; a king whose
life is forfeit if he reach not consecrated ground.

Margrete. Dagfinn, Dagfinn, 'tis my father !

DAGFINN {goes to the gate and opens a small shutter).
Come you with many men to the convent ?

King Skule. With all the men that remained
true to me in my need.

Dagfinn. And how many be they?

King Skule. Fewer than one.

MARGRETE. He is alone, Dagfinn.

Lady Ragnhild. Heaven's wrath will fall upon
you if you deny him consecrated ground !

DAGFINN. In God's name, then !

{He opens the gate ; the Birchlegs respectfully
uncover their heads. KING SKULE enters the
courtyard?)

Margrete {throwing herself on his neck). My
father ! My dear, unhappy father !



Act V.] The Pretenders. 363

Lady Ragnhild {interposing wildly between him
and the Birchlegs). Ye who feign reverence for him,
ye will betray him, like Judas. Dare not to come
near him ! Ye shall not lay a finger on him while I live !

Dagfinn. He is safe, for he is on consecrated
ground.

Margrete. And not one of all your men had the
heart to follow you this night !

King Skule. Both monks and spearmen
brought me on the way ; but they slipped from me
one by one, for they knew there were Birchlegs at
Elgesaeter. Paul Flida was the last to leave mc ; ho
came with me to the convent gate ; there he gave me
his last hand-grip, in memory of the time when there
were Vargbaelgs in Norway.

Dagfinn {to the Birchlegs). Get you in, chieftains,
and set you as guards about the King-child ; I must
to Nidaros to acquaint the King that Skulc Bardsson
is at Elgesaeter ; in so weighty a matter 'tis for him
to act.

Margrete. Oh, Dagfinn, Dagfinn, have you the
heart for that?

Dagfinn. Else should I ill serve King and land.
{To the men.) Lock the gates after mc, watch over
the child, and open to none until the King be come.
{Softly, to SKULE.) Farewell, Skulc Bardsson — and
God grant you a blessed end.

{Goes out by the gate; the Birchlegs close it after
him, and go into the chapel)

Lady Ragnhild. Ay, let Hakon come; I will
not loose you ; I will hold you straitly .'in 1 tenderly
in my arms, as I have never held you before.



3 r, 4 The Pretenders. [Act V.

MARGRETE. Oh, how pale you arc — and aged ;
you arc cold.

KING Skule. I am not cold — but I am weary,
weary.

MARGRETE. Come in then, and rest you

King Skule. Yes, yes; 'twill soon be time to
rest.

SlGRID {from the chapel). You come at last, my
brother !

King SKULE. Sigrid ! you here ?

SlGRID. I promised that we should meet when
you were fain of me in your sorest need.

KING SKULE. Where is your child, Margrete?

MARGRETE. He sleeps, in the sacristy.

King Skule. Then is our whole house gathered
at Elgesaeter to-night.

SlGRID. Ay, gathered after straying long and far.

KiXG SKULE. Hakon Hakonsson alone is wanting.

Margrete and Lady Ragnhild {cling about him,
exclaiming sorroivfully). My father ! — My husband !

King SKULE {looking at them, much moved). Have
you loved me so deeply, you two ? I sought after
happiness abroad, and noted not that I had a home
wherein I might have found it. I pursued after love
through sin and guilt, little dreaming that 'twas mine
already, in right of God's law and man's. — And you,
Ragnhild, my wife, you, against whom I have sinned
so deeply, you cling to me warmly and softly in the
hour of my sorest need ; you can tremble and be
afraid for the life of the man who has never cast a ray
of sunshine upon your path.

Lady Ragnhild. Have you sinned! Oh, Skule,



Act V.] The Pretenders. 365

speak not so ; think you I should ever dare accuse
you ! From the first I was too mean a mate for you,
my noble husband ; there can rest no guilt on any
deed of yours.

King Skule. Have you believed in me so surely,
Ragnhild ?

LADY RAGNHILD. From the first day I saw you.

King Skule {with animation). When Hakon
comes, I will beg grace of him ! You gentle, loving
women, — oh, but it is fair to live !

SlGRID {with an expression of terror). Skule, my
brother ! Woe to you if you stray from the path this
night !

{A loud noise without; immediately afterwards,
a knocking at the gate.)

MARGRETE. Listen, listen ! Who is rushing
hitherward ?

Lady Ragnhild. Who knocks at the gate ?

VOICES {without). Townsfolk from Nidaros!
Open ! We know that Skule Bardsson is within !

KING SKULE. Ay, he is within; what would you
with him ?

Noisy Voices {without). Come out, come out !
Death to the evil man !

MARGRETE. You townsfolk dare to thp
that?

A Single Voice. King Hakon doomed him al 1

Another. 'Tis every man's duty to slay him.

Margrete. I am the Queen ; I command you to
depart !

A Voice. 'Tis Skule Bardsson's daughter, and not
the Queen, that speaks thus.



$66 The Pretenders. [Act V.

Another. You have no power over life and
death ; the King has doomed him !

LADY RAGNHILD. Into the church, Skule ! For
the merciful God's sake, let not the bloodthirsty
caitiffs approach you !

King Skule. Ay, into the church ; I would not
fall at the hands of such as these. My wife, my
daughter ; mescems I have found peace and light ; oh,
I cannot lose them again so soon ! (Moves toivards
the chapelt)

Peter {without, on the right). My father, my king !
Now will you soon have the victory !

King Skule {with a shriek). He ! He ! {Sinks
upon the church steps.)

Lady Ragnhild. Who is that?

A Townsman (without). See, see! the church-
robber climbs over the convent-roof!

Others. Stone him ! Stone him !

Peter (appears on a roof to the riglit, and jumps
down into the yard). Well met again, my father!

King Skule (looks at him aghast). You — I had
forgotten you ! Whence come you ?

Peter (wildly?). Where is the King-child ?

Margrete. The King-child !

KING SKULE (starts up). Whence come you, I ask ?

PETER. From Hladehammer ; I have given Bard
Bratte and the Vargbaelgs to know that the King-
child lies at Elgesaeter to-night.

Margrete. Oh God !

King Skule. You have done that! And
now ?

Peter. He is gathering together his men, and



Act V.] The Pretenders. 367

they are hasting up to the convent — Where is the
King-child, woman ?

Margrete {who has placed Jierself before the
church-door). He sleeps in the sacristy!

Peter. 'Twere the same if he slept on the altar !
I have dragged out St. Olaf's shrine — I fear not to
drag out the King-child as well.

Lady Ragnhild {calls to Skule). He it is you
have loved so deeply !

Margrete. Father, father! How could you
forget us all for his sake ?

King Skule. He was pure as a lamb of God
when the penitent woman gave him to me ; — 'tis his
faith in me has made him what he now is.

PETER {without heeding him). The child must out !
Slay it, slay it in the Queen's arms, — that was King
Skule's word in Oslo !

Margrete. Oh shame, oh shame !

PETER. A saint might do it unsinning, at my
father's command ! My father is King ; for the great
king's-thought is his !

Townsmen {knocking at the gate). Open! Come
out, you and the church-robber, else will we burn the
convent down !

KING Skule {as if seized by a strong resolution).
The great king's-thought! 'Tis that has poisoned
your young loving soul ! Pure and blameless I was
to give you back; 'tis faith in me that drives you
thus wildly from crime to crime, from deadly sin to
deadly sin ! Oh, but I can save you yet : I can save
us all! {Calls tozvards the background.') Wait, wait,
ye townsmen without there : I come !



3 r, S The Pretenders. [Act V.

Margrete {seizing his hand in terror). My father!
what would you do ?

Lady Ragnhild {clinging to him with a shriek).
Skule!

Sigrid {tears them away from him, and calls with
wild) radiant joy). Loose him, loose him, women ; —
now his thought puts forth wings !

King Skule {firmly and forcibly, to Peter). You
saw in me the heaven-chosen one, — him who should
do the great king's-work in the land. Look at me
better, bewildered boy! The rags of kingship I have
decked myself withal, they were borrowed and stolen
— now I put them off me, one by one.

Peter {in dread). My great, noble father, speak
not thus !

KING SKULE. The king's-thought is Hakon's, not
mine ; to him alone has the Lord granted the power
that can make substance of it. You have believed in
a lie ; turn from me, and save your soul.

Peter {in a broken voice). The king's-thought is
Hakon's !

KING Skule. I yearned to be the greatest in the
land. My God ! my God ! behold, I abase myself
before thee, and stand as the least of all men.

Peter. Take rne from the earth, O Lord ! Punish
me for all my sin ; but take me from the earth ; for
here am I homeless now ! {Sinks upon the church-steps.)

King Skule. I had a friend who bled for me at
Oslo. He said : A man can die for another's life-
work ; but if he is to go on living, he must live for his
own. I have no life-work to live for, neither can I
live for Hakon's, — but I can die for it.



Act V.] The Pretenders. 369

MARGRETE. Nay, nay, that shall you never do !

KING Skule {takes her hand, and looks at her
tenderly). Do you love your husband, Margrete ?

MARGRETE. Better than the whole world.

KING Skule. You could endure that he should
doom me ; but could you also endure that he should
cause the doom to be fulfilled ?

Margrete. Lord of heaven, give me strength !

King Skule. Could you, Margrete ?

MARGRETE (softly and shuddering-). No, no — we
should have to part, — I could never see him more !

King Skule. You would darken the fairest light
of his life and yours ; — be at peace, Margrete, — it
shall not be needful.

Lady Ragnhild. Flee from the land, Skule ; I
will follow you whithersoever you will.

King Skule (shaking his head). With a mocking
shade between us ? — To-night have I found you for
the first time ; there must fall no shade between mc
and you, my silent, faithful wife ; — therefore must we
not seek to unite our lives on this earth.

SlGRID. My kingly brother ! I see you need me
not ; — I see you know what path to take.

King SKULE. There are men born to live, and
men born to die. My desire was ever thitherward
where God's finger pointed not the way for mc ;
therefore I never saw my path clear, till now. My
peaceful home-life have I wrecked — that I can
never restore. My sins against Hakon I can atone
by freeing him from a kingly duty which nm 1
have parted him from his dean '. 1 l The

townsfolk stand without; I will not wait for King

24



370 The Pretenders. [Act V.

Hakon ! The Vargbadgs are near ; so long as I
live they will not swerve from their purpose ; if
they find me here, I cannot save your child, Margrete.
— See, look upwards ! See how it wanes and pales,
the flaming sword that has hung over my head !
Yes, yes, — God has spoken and I have understood
him, and his wrath is appeased. Not in the sanctuary
of Elgesseter will I cast me down and beg for grace
of an earthly king; — I must into the mighty church
roofed with the vault of stars, and 'tis the King of
Kings I must implore for grace and salvation over all
my life-work.

SlGRlD. Withstand him not ! Withstand not the
call of God ! The day dawns ; it dawns in Norway
and it dawns in his restless soul ! Have not we
trembling women stood long enough in our closets,
terror-stricken and hidden in the darkest corners,
listening to all the horror that was doing without,
listening to the bloody pageant that stalked over the
land from end to end ? Have we not lain pale and
stone-like in the churches, not daring to look forth,
even as Christ's disciples lay in Jerusalem on the
Great Good Friday when the Lord was led by to
Golgotha ! Use thy wings, and woe to them who
would bind thee now !

Lady Ragnhild. Fare forth in peace, my hus-
band ; fare thither, where no mocking shade shall
stand between us, when we meet.
{Hastens into the chapel.}

Margrete. My father, farewell, farewell, — a
thousand times farewell !

{Follows Lady Ragnhild.)



Act V.] The Pretenders. 371

SlGRID {opens the church door and calls in). Forth,
forth, all ye women ! Assemble yourselves in prayer;
send up a message in song to the Lord, proclaiming
to him that now Skule Bardsson comes penitent home
from his rebellious race on earth.

KING SKULE. Sigrid, my faithful sister, greet
King Hakon from me; tell him that even in my last
hour I know not whether he be king-born ; but this I
know of a surety : he it is whom God has chosen.

SlGRID. I will bring him your greeting.

King SKULE. And yet another greeting must
you bear. There sits a penitent woman in the north,
in Halogaland ; tell her that her son has gone before;
he followed with me when there was great danger for
his soul.

SlGRID. That will I.

King Skule. Tell her, it was not with the heart
he sinned ; pure and blameless shall she surely meet
him again.

SlGRID. That will I. {Points towards the back-
ground^) Hark ! they are breaking the lock !

KING SKULE {points tozuards the chapel). Hark !
they are singing loud to God of salvation and peace !

SlGRID. Hark again! All the bells in Nidaros
arc ringing !



KING SKULE {sorrowfully). They arc ringing a
king to his grave.

SlGRID. Nay, nay, they ring for your true crown-
ing! Farewell, my brother, let the purple robe of His
blood flow wide over your shoulders ; under it may
all sin be hidden ! Go forth, go into the great church
and take the crown of life. {Hastens into the chapel.)



372 The Pretenders. [Act V.

{Chanting and bell-ringing continue during what
follozvs.)

VOICES {outside the gate). The lock has burst!
Force us not to break the peace of the church !

King Skule. I come.

The Townsmen. And the church-robber must
come too !

King Skule. Ay, the church-robber shall also
come. {Goes over to PETER.) My son, arc you
ready ?

Peter. Ay, father, I am ready.

King Skule {looks upwards). O God, I am a
poor man, I have but my life to give ; but take that,
and keep watch over Hakon's great king's-thought.
See now, reach me your hand.

Peter. Here is my hand, father.

King Skule. And fear not for that which is now
to come.

Peter. Nay, father, I fear not, when I go with
you.

King Skule. A safer way have we two never
gone together. {He opens the gate ; the Townsmen
stand without with upraised weapons?) Here are we ;
we come willingly ; — but strike him not in the face.
( They go out, hand in hand ; the gate glides to.)

A Voice. Aim not, spare not; — strike them where
ye can !

King Skule's Voice. 'Tis base to deal thus with
chieftains !

{A short noise of weapons ; then a heavy fall is
heard; all is still for a moment?)

A VOICE. They are dead, both !



Act V.] The Pretenders. 373

{The KING'S horn sounds.)
Another Voice. There comes King Hakon
with all his guard !

The CROWD. Hail Hakon Hakonsson; now have
you no longer any foemen.

GREGORIUS JONSSON {stops a little be/ore the
corpses). So I have come too late !
{Enters the convent yard.)
DAGFINN. It had been ill for Norway had you
come sooner. {Calls out.) In here, King Hakon!
Hakon {stopping). The body lies in my way !
DAGFINN. If Hakon Hakonsson would go for-
ward, he must pass over Skule Bardsson's body !
Hakon. In God's name then !

{Steps over the corpse and comes in.)
Dagfinn. At last you can set about your king's-
work with free hands. In there are those you love ;
in Nidaros they are ringing in peace in the land ; and
yonder he lies who was your direst foe.

HAKON. All men misjudged him; there was a
mystery over him.
Dagfinn. A mystery ?

HAKON {seizes him by the arm, and says softly).
Skule Bardsson was God's step-child on earth ; tint
was the mystery.

{The song of the women is heard more loudlv
from the chapel; all bells are still ringu.
Nidaros.)



THE CURTAIN FALLS.



APPENDIX.



ORIGINAL TEXT OF LYRICS IN THIS VOL I



Ornulfs Drapa.

{Page 196.)

Sind, som svaer-mod stinger,
savner Brages glaede ;
sorgfuld skald sa sare
kvides ved at kvrede.

Skaldeguden skaenked
cvnc mig at sjunge ; —
klinge lad min klagc
for mit tab, dct tungc!

Harmfuld nornc h.x-rgcd
hardt mig vcrdcns vcjc,
listed lykl«'n fra mig,
odte ( >rnulfs eje



3;6 Appendix.

Sonner syv til Ornulf
blev af guder givet ; —
nu gar gubben ensom,
sonnelos i livet.

Sonner syv, sa fagre,
fostret mellem svserde,
vaerned vikings hvide
har, som gsevest gserde.

Nu er gaerdet jaevnet,
mine sonner dode ;
glaedelos star gubben,
og hans hus star ode.

Torolf, — du, min yngste !
Boldest blandt de bolde i
Lidet gad jeg klage,
fik jeg dig beholde.

Ven du var, som varen,
mod din fader kaerlig,
arted dig at seldes
til en helt sa herlig.

Ulivs-sar, usaligt,
vaerste ve mon volde,
har min gamle bringe
klemt, som mellem skjolde.

Nidsyg norne nodig
na^gted mig sit eje, —



Appendix. 377

dryssed smertens rigdom
over Ornulfs veje.

Vegt er visst mit vaerge.
Fik jeg guders evne,
en da blev min idraet :
nornens faerd at hsevne.

En da blev min gerning :
nornens fald at friste, —
hun, som har mig rovct
alt — og nu det sidste !

Har hun alt mig rovet?
Nej, det har hun ikke ;
tidligt fik jo Ornulf
Suttungs mjod at drikke.

Minne sonner tog hun ;
men hun gav min tunge
evnen til i kvseder
ud min sorg at sjunge.

Pa min mund hun lagde
sangens fagrc gave ; —
lydt da lad den klinge,
sclv ved sonners grave !

Till jer, sonner gaeve I
Hil jer, dcr I rider!
Gudegaven la
verdens vc og kvider!



578 Appendix.

Margretes Vuggevise.

{Page 289.)

Nu loftes laft og lofte
til stjernehvrclven bla ;
nu flyver lille Hakon
med drommevinger pa.

Der er en stige stillet
fra jord til himlen op ;
nu stiger lille Hakon
med englene tiltop.

Guds engle sma, de vager
for vuggebarnets fred ;
Gud sign' dig, lille Hakon,
din moder vager med.



Jatgeirs Kvad.

{Page 304.)

Hertug Skule blaeste til Orething

under messen i Nidaros by;

hertug Skule tog kongsnavn, mens klokkerne

ringed,
og svaerdslag pa skjold gav gny.

Kong Skule skred over Dovreskard
med tusende svende pa ski ;
Gudbrandsdolerne graed for grid
og kobte for solv sig fri.



Appendix. 379

Kong Skule sorover Mjosen focr, —
Oplaendingen svor og snaerred ;
kong Skule foer gennem Raumarike
til Laka i Nannestad herred.

Det var den hellige faste-uge ;
Birkebejnerhseren kom ;
Knut jarl var hovding, — svrerdene talte
og fseldte i kongstraetten dom.

Det siges forvisst : siden Sverres dage
stod aldrig sa hed en strid ;
blommet, som blodige kaempers lagen,
blev vidden, der for var hvid.

De satte pi sprang, de Birkebejner, —
slang fra sig bade biler og skjolde ;
mange hundrede satte dog ikke pa sprang,
for de la og var isende kolde. —

Ingen vcd hvor kong Hakon frcrdes ; —
kong Skule har byer og borge.
Hil dig, herre! Laenge sidde du stor,
som konge for hele Norge !



■„i Wai Tl.lt Sinn, Pellin at'inf.



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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenIbsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) → online text (page 21 of 22)