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Norway, and he needed to gain a footing in the land.
I know it ; I know it well f) Merete bowed to your
will; she went with the stranger lord. — But what has
it cost her? More tears than a mother should wish
to answer for at the day of reckoning.

LADY Inger. I know my reckoning, and I fear it

ELINA. Your reckoning ends not here. Where is
Lucia, your second child ?

Lady Inger. Ask God. who took her.

Elina. It is you I ask j it is you that must answer
for her young life.j. She was glad as a bird in spring
when she sailed from Ostrat to be Merete's guest. (A
year passed, and she stood in this room once more ;
but her cheeks were white, and death had gnawed
deep into her breast*) Ah, you wonder at me, my
mother ! You thought that the ugly secret was
buried with her; — but she told me all. /A courtly
knight had won her heart. He would have wedded

1 Pronounce MayraytS. 2 Pronounce Loonghe.

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 25

her.) You knew that her honour was at stake ; yet
your will never bent — and your child had to die. You
see, I know all !

Lady Inger. All ? Then she told you his

Elina His name ? No ; his name she did not
tell me. ; His name was a torturing horror to her ; —
she never uttered it \

LADY Inger {relieved, to herself).! Ah, then you

do not know all-}

Elina— it is true that the whole of this matter was
well known to me. ) But there is one thing about it
you seem not to have noted. The lord whom Lucia

met in Bergen was a Dane

Elina. That too I know.

Lady Inger. And his love was a lie. With
guile and soft speeches he had ensnared her.

Elina. I know it ; but nevertheless she loved
him ; and had you had a mother's heart, your
daughter's honour had been more to you than all.

Lady Inger. Not more than her happiness. Do
you think that, with Merete's lot before my eyes, I
could sacrifice my second child to a man that loved
her not ?

Elina. Cunning words may befool many, but

they befool not me

Think not I know nothing of all that is passing in
our land. I understand your counsels but too well.
I know well that our Danish lords have no true friend
in you. It may be that you hate them ; but you fear
them too. When you gave Mcrcte to Vinzents
Lunge the Danes held the mastery on all sides

26 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act I.

throughout our land. Three years later, when you
forbade Lucia to wed the man she had given her life
to, though he had deceived her, — things were far
different then. The King's Danish governors had
shamefully misused the common people, and you
thought it not wise to link yourself still more closely
to the foreign tyrants.

And what have you done to avenge her that had
to die so young ? You have done nothing. Well
then, I will act in your stead ; I will avenge all
the shame they have brought upon our people and
our house.

Lady Inger. You ? What will you do?

ELINA. I shall go my way, even as you go yours.^
What I shall do I myself know not ; but I feel
within me the strength to dare all for our righteous

LADY INGER. Then you have a hard fight before
you. I once promised as you do now — and my hair
has grown grey under the burden of that promise.

ELINA. Good-night ! Your guest will soon be
here, and at that meeting I should be out of

It may be there is yet time for you ;

well, God strengthen you and guide your way ! For-
get not that the eyes of many thousands are fixed
upon you. Think on Merete, weeping late and early
over her wasted life. Think on Lucia, sleeping in
her black coffin.

And one thing more. Forget not that in the game
you play this night, your stake is your last child.
{Goes out to the left.)

Act I.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 27

LADY INGER {looks after her awhile). My last
child ? You know not how true was that word

But the stake is not my child only. God help

me, I am playing to-night for the whole of Norway's

Ah — is not that some one riding through the gate-
way ? {Listens at the window.)

No ; not yet. Only the wind ; it blows cold as
the grave

Has God a right to do this ? — To make me a
woman — and then to lay a man's duty upon my
shoulders ?

For I have the welfare of the country in my hands.
It is in my power to make them rise as one man.
They look to me for the signal ; and if I give it not
now it may never be given.

To delay ? To sacrifice the many for the sake of

one ? — Were it not better if I could ? No,

no, no — I will not ! I cannot ! {Steals a glance
towards tJte Banquet Hall, but turns away again as if
in dread, and whispers :)

I can see them in there now. Pale spectres — dead
ancestors — fallen kinsfolk. — Ah, those eyes that
pierce me from every corner! {Makes a backward
gesture with her hand, and cries :)

Sten Sture ! Knut Alfson ! Olaf Skaktavl ! Back-
back ! — I cannot do this !

{A STRANGER, strongly built, and with grizzled
hair and beard, lias entered from the Banquet
Hall. He is dressed in a torn lambskin tunic;
his weapons are rusty?)

The Stranger {stops in the doorway, and

2S Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act I.

says in a low voice). Hail to you, Inger Gylden-
love !

Lady INGER {turns with a scream). Ah, Christ in
heaven save me !

{Falls back into a chair. The STRANGER stands
gazing at her, motionless ; leaning on his sivord.)

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 29

Act Second.

{The room at sir at, as in the first Act.)

(Lady Inger Gyldenlove is seated at the table on the right,
by the window. Olaf Skaktavl is standing a little way
fro7ii her. Their faces show that they have been engaged in
an animated discussion.)

Olaf Skaktavl. For the last time, Inger Gylden-
love — you are not to be moved from your purpose ?

LADY Inger. I can do nought else. And my
counsel to you is : do as I do. If it be Heaven's will
that Norway perish utterly, perish it must, for all we
may do to save it.

Olaf Skaktavl. And think you I can content
myself with words like these ? ^ Shall I sit and look
quietly on, now that the hour is come? Do you
forget the reckoning I have to pay?\ They have
robbed me of my lands, and parcelled them out
among themselves. My son, my only child, the last
of my race, they have slaughtered like a dog. Myself
they have outlawed and forced to lurk by forest and
fell these twenty years.— vOnce and again have
folk whispered of my death); but this I believe, that
they shall not lay me beneath the earth before I have
seen my vengeance.

Lady Inger. Then is there a long life before
you. What would you do?

30 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

Olaf Skaktavl. Do? How should I know
what I will do ? It has never been my part to plot
and plan. That is where you must help me. You
have the wit for that. I have but my sword and my
two arms.

Lady Inger. Your sword is rusted, Olaf Skak-
tavl ! All the swords in Norway are rusted.

Olaf Skaktavl. That is doubtless why some
folk fight only with their tongues. — Inger Gylden-
love — great is the change in you/) Time was when
the heart of a man beat in your breast.

Lady Inger. Put me not in mind of what was.

Olaf Skaktavl. (Tis for that alone I am here.)
You shall hear me, even if

Lady Inger. Be it so then; but be brief; for —
I must say it — this is no place of safety for you.

Olaf Skaktavl. Ostrat is no place of safety for
an outlaw? That I have long known. But you
forget that an outlaw is unsafe wheresoever he may

Lady Inger. Speak then ; I will not hinder you.

Olaf Skaktavl. It is nigh on thirty years now
since first I saw you. It was at Akershus 1 in the
house of Knut Alfson and his wife. You were
scarce more than a child then ; yet you were bold as
the soaring falcon, and wild and headstrong too at
times. Many were the wooers around you. I too
held you dear — dear as no woman before or since.
But you cared for nothing, thought of nothing, save
your country's evil case and its great need.

Lady Inger. I counted but fifteen summers then

1 Pronounce Ahkcrs-hoos.

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 31

— remember that. And was it not as though a
frenzy had seized us all in those days ?

Olaf Skaktavl. Call it what you will ; but one
thing I know — even the old and sober men among us
doubted not that it was written in the counsels of the
Lord that you were she who should break our
thraldom and win us all our rights again. And
more : you yourself then thought as we did.

Lady Inger. It was a sinful thought, Olaf
Skaktavl. It was my proud heart, and not the
Lord's call, that spoke in me.

Olaf Skaktavl. You could have been the chosen
one had you but willed it. You came of the noblest
blood in Norway ; power and riches were at your
feet ; and you had an ear for the cries of anguish —
then J}

Do you remember that afternoon when Henrik
Krummedike and the Danish fleet anchored off
Akershus ? The captains of the fleet offered terms of
settlement, and, trusting to the safe-conduct, Knut
Alfson rowed on board. Three hours later, we bore
him through the castle gate

Lady Inger. A corpse ; a corpse !

Olaf Skaktavl. The best heart in Norway
burst, when Krummedike's hirelings struck him down.
Methinks I still can see the long procession that
passed into the banquet-hall, heavily, two by two.
There he lay on his bier, white as a spring cloud,
with the axe-cleft in his brow. I may safely say
that the boldest men in Norway were gathered
there that night. Lady Margrete stood by her dead
husband's head, and we swore as one man to venture

Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

lands and life to avenge this last misdeed and all that
had gone before.^- Inger Gyldcnlove, — who was it
that burst through the circle of men ? A maiden
— then almost a child — with fire in her eyes and her
voice half choked with tears. — What was it she
swore ? Shall I repeat your words ?

Lady INGER. I swore what the rest of you swore ;
neither more nor less. - )

Olaf Skaktavl. You remember your oath —
and yet you have forgotten it.

Lady Inger. And how did the others keep their
promise? I speak not of you, Olaf Skaktavl, but of
your friends, all our Norwegian nobles ? Not one of
them, in all these years, has had the courage to be a
man ; and yet they lay it to my charge that I am a

C Olaf Skaktavl. I know what you would say.
Why have they bent to the yoke, and not defied the
tyrants to the last ? 'Tis but too true ; there is base
metal enough in our noble houses nowadays.") But
had they held together — who knows what might have
been ? And you could have held them together, for
before you all had bowed.

Lady Inger. My answer were easy enough, but
it would scarce content you. So let us leave speaking
of what cannot be changed. Tell me rather what has
brought you to Ostrat. ! Do you need harbour?]
Well, I will try to hide you. If you would have;
aught else, speak out ; you shall find me ready

Olaf Skaktavl. For twenty years have I been
homeless. In the mountains of Jaemteland my hair
has grown grey. My dwelling has been with wolves




Act II.] Lady Inger of Ostrat. 33

and bears. — You see, Lady Inger — / need you not ;
but both nobles and people stand in sore need
of you.

Lady Inger. The old burden.
I OLAF SKAKTAVL. Ay, it sounds but ill in your
ears, I know ; yet hear it you must for all that. In
brief, then : I come from Sweden : troubles are at
hand : the Dales are ready to rise.

Lady Inger. I know it.

OLAF SKAKTAVL. Peter Kanzler is with us —
secretly, you understand.

Lady Inger {starting). Peter Kanzler?

OLAF Skaktavl. It is he that has sent me to

Lady Inger {rises). Peter Kanzler, say you?

OLAF SKAKTAVL. He himself ; — but mayhap you
no longer know him ?

Lady Inger {half to herself). Only too well! —
But tell me, I pray you, — what message do you bring?

OLAF SKAKTAVL. When the rumour of the rising
reached the border mountains, where I then was, I
set off at once into Sweden. 'Twas not hard to guess
that Peter Kanzler had a finger in the game. I
sought him out and offered to stand by him ; — he
knew me of old, as you know, and knew that he
could trust me ; so he has sent me hither.

Lady Inger {impatiently). Yes yes, — he sent you
hither to ?

Olaf Skaktavl {with secrecy). Lady Inger — a
stranger comes to Ostrat to-night.

Lady Inger {surprised). What? Know you

that ?



34 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

OLAF SKAKTAVL. Assuredly I know it I know
all. 'Twas to meet him that Peter Kanzler sent me

Lady Inger. To meet him ? Impossible, Olaf
Skaktavl, — impossible !

Olaf Skaktavl. Tis as I tell you If he be
not already come, he will soon

Lady Inger. Yes, I know; but-

Olaf Skaktavl. Then you know of his coming ?

Lady Inger Ay, surely. He sent me a mes-
sage. That was why they opened to you as soon as
you knocked.

Olaf Skaktavl (listens). Hush! — some one is
riding along the road. {Goes to the window.) They
are opening the gate.

Lady Inger (looks out). It is a knight and his
attendant They are dismounting in the courtyard.

Olaf Skaktavl. Then it is he. His name?

Lady Inger. You know not his name?

Olaf Skaktavl. Peter Kanzler refused to tell
it me. He would only say that I should find him at
Ostrat the third evening after Martinmas

Lady Inger. Ay; even to-night.

Olaf Skaktavl. He was to bring letters with
him, and from them, and from you, I was to learn
who he is.

Lady Inger. Then let me lead you to your
chamber. You have need of rest and refreshment
You shall soon have speech with the stranger.

Olaf Skaktavl. Well, be it as you will. {Both
go out to the left.)

{After a short pause, FINN enters cautiously

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 35

through the door on the right, looks round the
room, and peeps into the Banquet Hall ; he then
goes back to the door, and makes a sign to some
one outside. Immediately after, enter Coun-
cillor Nils Lykke and the Swedish Com-
mander, Jens Bielke.)

Nils Lykke {softly). No one ?

Finn (in the same tone). No one, master !

Nils LYKKE. And we may depend on you in all

Finn. The commandant in Trondhiem has ever
given me a name for trustiness.

Nils Lykke. It is well ; he has said as much to
me. First of all, then — has there come any stranger
to Ostrat to-night, before us ?

FINN. Ay ; a stranger came an hour since.

Nils Lykke {softly, to Jens Bielke). He is here.
{Turns again to Finn.) Would you know him again ?
Have you seen him ?

Finn. Nay, none have seen him, that I know, but
the gatekeeper. He was brought at once to Lady
Inger, and she

Nils Lykke. Well ? What of her ? He is not
gone again already ?

Finn. No ; but it seems she keeps him hidden in
one of her own rooms ; for

Nils Lykke. It is well.

Jens Bielke {whispers). Then the first thing is
to put a guard on the gate ; then we are sure of him.

Nils Lykke {with a smile). Hm ! (To Finn.)
Tell mc — is there any way of leaving the castle but
by the gate ? Gape not at me so ! I mean — can one

36 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

escape from Ostrat unseen, while the castle gate is
shut ?

Finn. Nay, that I know not. Tis true they talk
of secret ways in the vaults beneath ; but no one knows
them save Lady Inger — and mayhap Mistress Elina.

Jens Bielke. The devil !

Nils Lykke. It is well. You may go.

Finn. And should you need me in aught again,
you have but to open the second door on the right in
the Banquet Hall, and I shall presently be at hand.

Nils Lykke. Good. {Points to the entrance-door.
Finn goes out.)

Jens Bielke. Now, by my soul, dear friend and
brother — this campaign is like to end but scurvily for
both of us.

Nils Lykke {with a smile). Oh — not for me, I

Jens BIELKE. Not? First of all, there is small
honour to be got in hunting an overgrown whelp like
this Nils Sture. Are we to think him mad or in his
sober senses after the pranks he has played ? First
he breeds bad blood among the peasants; promises
them help and all their hearts can desire ; — and then,
when it comes to the pinch, off he runs to hide behind
a petticoat !

Moreover, to tell the truth, I repent that I followed
your counsel and went not my own way.

Nils Lykke {aside). Your repentance comes
somewhat late, my brother.

Jens Bielke. Look you, I have never loved dig-
ging at a badger's earth. I looked for quite other
sport Here have I ridden all the way from the

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 37

Jaemteland with my horsemen, and have got me a
warrant from the Trondhiem commandant to search
for the rebel wheresoever I please. All his tracks

point towards Ostrat

NILS Lykke. He is here! He is here, I tell
you !

""^ENS Bielke. If that were so, should we not
have found the gate barred and well guarded ?
Would that we had; then could I have found use

for my men-at-arms

Nils Lykke. But instead, the gate is opened for
us in all hospitality. Mark now — if Inger Gylden-
love's fame belie her not, I warrant she will not let
her guests lack for either meat or drink.

Jens Bielke. Ay, to turn us aside from our
errand ! And what wild whim was that of yours to
persuade me to leave my horsemen a good mile from

the castle ? Had we come in force n.

Nils Lykke. She had made us none the less
welcome for that. But mark well that then our com-
ing had made a stir. The peasants round about had
held it for an outrage against Lady Inger ; she had
risen high in their favour once more — and with that,
look you, we were ill served.

Jens Bielke. May be so. But what am I to do
now? Count Sture is in Ostrat, you say. Ay, but
how does that profit me? Be sure Lady Inger
Gyldenlove has as many hiding-places as the fox,
and more than one outlet to them. We two can go
snuffing about here alone as long as we please. I
would the devil had the whole affair !

NILS Lykke. Well, then, my friend — if you like

3S Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

not the turn your errand has taken, you have but to
leave the field to me.

JENS BlELKE. To you? What will you do?

NILS Lykke. Caution and cunning may here do
more than could be achieved by force of arms. —
And to say truth, Captain Jens Bielke — something of
the sort has been in my mind ever since we met in
Trondhiem yesterday.

Jens BlELKE. Was that why you persuaded me
to leave the men-at-arms ?

Nils Lykke. Both your purpose at Ostrat and
mine could best be served without them ; and so

Jens Bielke. The foul fiend seize you — I had
almost said ! And me to boot ! Might I not have
known that there is guile in all your dealings ?

Nils Lykke. Be sure I shall need all my guile
here, if I am to face my foe with even weapons. And
let me tell you 'tis of the utmost moment to me that
I acquit me of my mission secretly and well. You
must know that when I set forth I was scarce in
favour with my lord the King. He held me in suspi-
cion; though I dare swear I have served him as well
as any man could, in more than one ticklish charge.

Jens Bielke. That you may safely boast God
and all men know you for the craftiest devil in all the
three kingdoms.

Nils Lykke. You flatter ! But after all, 'tis not
much to say. Now this present errand I hold for
the crowning proof of my policy; for here I have to
outwit a woman

Jens Bielke. Ha-ha-ha ! In that art you have
long since given crowning proofs of your skill, dear

Act II.] Lady Inger of Ostrat.

brother. Think you we in Sweden know not the
song —

Fair maidens a-many they sigh and they pine :
"Ah God, that A r i/s Lykke were mine, mine, mine /"

NILS LYKKE. Alas, it is women of twenty and
thereabouts that ditty speaks of. Lady Inger
Gyldenldve is nigh on fifty, and wily to boot beyond
all women. It will be no light matter to overcome
her. But it must be done — at any cost. If I succeed
in winning certain advantages over her that the King
has long desired, I can reckon on the embassy to
France next spring. You know that I spent three
years at the University in Paris ? My whole soul is
bent on coming thither again, most of all if I can <
appear in lofty place, a king's ambassador. — Well,
then — is it agreed ? — do you leave Lady Inger to me?
Remember — when you were last at Court in Copen-
hagen, I made way for you with more than one fair
lady \-

Jens BlELKE. Nay, truly now — that generosity
cost you little ; one and all of them were at your beck
and call. But let that pass; now that I have begun
amiss in this matter, I had as lief that you should
take it on your shoulders. One thing, though, you
must promise — if the young Count Sture be in Ostrat,
you will deliver him into my hands, dead or alive !

Nils LYKKE. You shall have him all alive. I, at
any rate, mean not to kill him. But now you must
ride back and join your people. Keep guard on the
road. Should I mark aught that mislikes me, you
shall know it forthwith.

4o Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

Jens Bielke. Good,good. But how am I to get out?

NILS LYKKE. The fellow that brought us in will
show the way. But go quietly

Jens Bielke. Of course, of course. Well — good
fortune to you !

NILS LYKKE. Fortune has never failed me in a
war with women. Haste you now !
(Jens Bielke goes out to tlie right)

NILS LYKKE {stands still for a while ; then walks
about the room, looking round him ; at last he says
softly). So I am at Ostrat at last — the ancient seat
that a child, two years ago, told me so much of.

Lucia. Ay, two years ago she was still a child.
And now — now she is dead. {Hums with a half-
smile.) " Blossoms plucked are blossoms withered
" {Looks round him again.)

Ostrat. Tis as though I had seen it all before ; as
though I were at home here. — In there is the Banquet
Hall. And underneath is — the grave-vault. It must
be there that Lucia lies.

{In a lower voice, half seriously, half with forced

Were I timorous, I might well find myself fancying
that when I set foot within Ostrat gate she turned
about in her coffin ; as I walked across the courtyard
she lifted the lid ; and when I named her name but
now, 'twas as though a voice summoned her forth
from the grave- vault. — Maybe she is even now
groping her way up the stairs. The face-cloth blinds
her, but she gropes on and on in spite of it.

Now she has reached the Banquet Hall ; she stands
watching me from behind the door !

Act II.] Lady Inger of Ostrat. 41

{Turns his head backwards over one shoulder, nods,

and says aloud :)

Come nearer, Lucia ! Talk to me a little ! Your

mother keeps me waiting. 'Tis tedious waiting —

and you have helped me to while away many a

tedious hour •=___ ___

{Passes his hand over his forehead, and takes one
or two turns up and down?)
Ah, there ! — Right, right ; there is the deep cur-
tained window. It is there that Inger Gyldenlove is
wont to stand gazing out over the road, as though
looking for one that never comes. In there — {looks
towards the door on the left) — somewhere in there is
Sister Elina's chamber. Elina ? Ay, Elina is her
name. Can it be that she is so rare a being — so wise
and so brave as Lucia drew her? Fair, too, they

say. But for a wedded wife ? I should not have

written so plainly

{Lost in thought, he is on the point of sitting down
by the table, but stands up again?)
How will Lady Inger receive me ? She will
scarce burn the castle over our heads, or slip me

through a trap-door. A stab from behind ? No,

not that way either

{Listens toivards the hall.)

(Lady Inger Gyldenlove enters from the hall?)
Lady Inger {coldly). My greeting to you, Sir


NILS LYKKE {bows deeply). Ah— the Lady of
Ostrat !

42 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

Lady Inger. And my thanks that you have
forewarned me of your visit.

Nils Lykke. I could do no less. I had
reason to think that my coming might surprise

Lady Inger. In truth, Sir Councillor, you thought
right there. Nils Lykke was certainly the last guest
I looked to see at Ostrat.

NILS Lykke. And still less, mayhap, did you
think to see him come as a friend ?

Lady Inger. As a friend ? You add insult to
all the shame and sorrow you have heaped upon my
house ? After bringing my child to the grave, you
still dare

NILS Lykke. With your leave, Lady Inger
Gyldenlove — on that matter we should scarce agree ;
for you count as nothing what / lost by that same
unhappy chance. I purposed nought but in honour.
I was tired of my unbridled life ; my thirtieth year
was already past ; I longed to mate me with a good
and gentle wife. Add to all this the hope of becom-
ing your son-in-law

LADY INGER. Beware, Sir Councillor ! I have

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