Henrik Ibsen.

Ibsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) online

. (page 4 of 22)
Online LibraryHenrik IbsenIbsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

done all in my power to hide my child's unhappy fate.
But because it is out of sight, think not it is out of
mind. It may yet happen

Nils Lykke. You threaten me, Lady Inger ? I
have offered you my hand in amity ; you refuse to
take it. Henceforth, then, it is to be open war
between us ?

Lady Inger. Was there ever aught else?

Nils Lykke. Not on your side, mayhap. / have

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 43

never been your enemy, — though as a subject of the
King of Denmark I lacked not good cause.

Lady Inger. I understand you. I have not
been pliant enough. It has not proved so easy as
some of you hoped to lure me over into your camp. —
Yet methinks you have nought to complain of. My
daughter' Merete's husband is your countryman-
further I cannot go. My position is no easy one,
Nils Lykke !

Nils Lykke. That I can well believe. Both
nobles and people here in Norway think they have
an ancient claim on you — a claim, 'tis said, you have
but half fulfilled.

Lady Inger. Your pardon, Sir Councillor, — I
account for my doings to none but God and myself.
If it please you, then, let me understand what brings
you hither.

NILS Lykke. Gladly, Lady Inger ! The purport
of my mission to this country can scarce be unknown
to you ?

Lady INGER. I know the mission that report
assigns you. Our King would fain know how the
Norwegian nobles stand affected towards him.

Nils Lykke. Assuredly.

LADY INGER. Then that is why you visit Ostrat?

Nils LYKKE. In part. But it is far from my
purpose to demand any profession of loyalty from

LADY Inger. What then?

Nils Lykke. Hearken to me, Lady Inger! You
said yourself but now that your position is no easy
one. You stand half way between two hostile camps,

44 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

neither of which dares trust you fully. Your own
interest must needs bind you to us. On the other
hand, you are bound to the disaffected by the bond of
nationality, and — who knows ? — mayhap by some
secret tie as well.

Lady Inger (aside). A secret tie ! Christ, does
he ?

Nils Lykke (notices her emotion, but makes no sign,
and continues without change of manner). You can-
not but see that such a position must ere long become
impossible. — Suppose, now, it lay in my power to
free you from these embarrassments which

Lady Inger. In your power, you say?

Nils Lykke. First of all, Lady Inger, I would
beg you to lay no stress on any careless words I may
have used concerning that which lies between us two.
Think not that I have forgotten for a moment the
wrong I have done you. Suppose, now, I had long
purposed to make atonement, as far as might be,
where I had sinned. Suppose that were my reason
for undertaking this mission.

LADY INGER. Speak your meaning more clearly,
Sir Councillor ; — I cannot follow you.

NILS Lykke. I can scarce be mistaken in think-
ing that you, as well as I, know of the threatened
troubles in Sweden. \ You know, or at least you can
guess, that this rising is of far wider aim than is com-
monly supposed, and you understand therefore that
our King cannot look on quietly and let things take
their course. Am I not right ?

Lady Inger. Go on.

Nils Lykke (searchingly, after a short pause).

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 45

There is one possible chance that might endanger
Gustav Vasa's throne

Lady Inger {aside). Whither is he tending?

NILS LYKKE. the chance, namely, that there

should exist in Sweden a man entitled by his birth
to claim election to the kingship.

Lady Inger {evasively). The Swedish nobles have
been even as bloodily hewn down as our own, Sir
Councillor. Where would you seek for ?

Nils Lykke {with a smile). Seek ? The man is
found already

Lady Inger {starts violently). Ah ! He is
found ?

Nils Lykke. And he is too closely akin to

you, Lady Inger, to be far from your thoughts at this

{Looks at her.)

The last Count Sture left a son

Lady Inger {with a cry). Holy Saviour, how
know you ?

Nils Lykke {surprised). Be calm, Madam, and
let me finish. — This young man has lived quietly
till now with his mother, Sten Sture's widow.

Lady Inger {breathes more freely). With ?

Ah, yes — true, true !

Nils Lykke. But now he has come forward
openly. He has shown himself in the Dales as
leader of the peasants; their numbers are growing
day by day; and — as perhaps you know — they are
finding friends among the peasants on this side of
the border-hills.

Lady Inger {who has in the meantime regained

46 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

her composure). Sir Councillor, — you speak of all
these things as though they must of necessity be
known to me. What ground have I given you to
believe so? I know, and wish to know, nothing.
All my care is to live quietly within my own domain;
I give no helping hand to the rebels; but neither
must you count on me if it be your purpose to put
them down.

NILS LYKKE {in a low voice). Would you still be
inactive, if it were my purpose to stand by them ?

Lady Inger. How am I to understand you?

Nils Lykke. Have you not seen whither I have
been aiming all this time ? — Well, I will tell you all,
honestly and straightforwardly. Know, then, that the
King and his Council see clearly that we can have no
sure footing in Norway so long as the nobles and the
people continue, as now, to think themselves wronged
and oppressed. We understand to the full that will-
ing allies are better than sullen subjects; and we have
therefore no heartier wish than to loosen the bonds
that hamper us, in effect, quite as straitly as you.
But you will scarce deny that the temper of Norway
towards us makes such a step too dangerous — so long
as we have no sure support behind us.

Lady Inger. And this support ?

NILS LYKKE. Should naturally come from Sweden.
But, mark well, not so long as Gustav Vasa holds the
helm ; his reckoning with Denmark is not settled yet,
and mayhap never will be. But a new king of Sweden,
who had the people with him, and who owed his

throne to the help of Denmark Well, you

begin to understand me ? Then we could safely say

Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 47

to you Norwegians ; " Take back your old ancestral
rights; choose you a ruler after your own mind; be
our friends in need, as we will be yours ! " — Maik you
well, Lady Inger, herein is our generosity less than it
may seem ; for you must see that, far from weakening,
'twill rather strengthen us.

And now that I have opened my heart to you so
fully, do you too cast away all mistrust. And there-
fore {confidently) — the knight from Sweden, who came
hither an hour before me

Lady INGER. Then you already know of his

Nils Lykke Most certainly. It is him I seek.

LADY INGER (to herself). Strange ! It must be
as Olaf Skaktavl said. (To NILS LYKKE.) I pray
you wait here, Sir Councillor' I go to bring him
to you.

(Goes out through the Banquet Hall.)

Nils Lykke (looks after her a while in exultant
astonishment). She is bringing him I Ay, truly —
she is bringing him ! The battle is half won. I
little thought it would go so smoothly

She is deep in the counsels of the rebels; she
started in terror when I named Sten Sture's son

And now? Hm ! Since Lady Inger has been
simple enough to walk into the snare, Nils Sture will
not make many difficulties. A hot-blooded boy,

thoughtless and rash With my promise of

help he will set forth at once — unhappily Jens Biclke
will snap him up by the way— £and the whole rising
will be nipped in the bud.

And then? Then one step more in our own

48 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

behalf. It is spread abroad that the young Count
Sture has been at Ostrat, — that a Danish envoy has
had audience of Lady Inger — that thereupon the
young Count Nils has been snapped up by King

Gustav's men-at-arms a mile from the castle

Let Inger Gyldenlove's name among the people stand
never so high — it will scarce recover from such a

{Starts up in sudden uneasiness!)

By all the devils ! What if she has scented

mischief! It may be he is slipping through our

fingers even now {Listens towards the hall, and

says with relief!) Ah, there is no fear. Here they

(Lady Inger Gyldenlove enters from the kail
along with OLAF SKAKTAVL.)

Lady Inger {to Nils Lykke). Here is the man
you seek.

Nils Lykke {aside). In the name of hell — what
means this ?

Lady Inger. I have told this knight your name
and all that you have imparted to me

Nils LYKKE {irresolutely). Ay? Have you so?

Lady Inger And I will not hide from you

that his faith in your help is none of the strongest

Nils Lykke. Is it not ?

Lady Inger. Can you marvel at that? You
know, surely, both the cause he fights for and his
bitter fate

Nils Lykke. This man's ? Ah — yes, truly

Olaf Skaktavl {to Nils Lykke). But seeing


Act II.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 49

'tis Peter Kanzler himself that has appointed us this

Nils Lykke. Peter Kanzler ? {Recovers

himself quickly.) Ay, right, — I have a mission from
Peter Kanzler

Olaf Skaktavl. He must know best whom he
can trust. So why should I trouble my head with
thinking how

Nils Lykke. Ay, you are right, noble Sir; that
were folly indeed.

Olaf Skaktavl. Rather let us come straight to
the matter.

Nils Lykke. Straight to the point; no beating
about the bush — 'tis ever my fashion.

Olaf Skaktavl. Then will you tell me your
errand here ?

NILS LYKKE. Methinks you can partly guess my

Olaf Skaktavl. Peter Kanzler said something
of papers that

NILS LYKKE. Papers ? Ay, true, the papers !

Olaf Skaktavl. Doubtless you have them with

NILS Lykke. Of course; safely bestowed; so

safely that I cannot at once

{Appears to search the inner pockets of his doublet;
says to himself •)

Who the devil is he? What pretext shall I make?

I may be on the brink of great discoveries

{Notices that the Servants are laying the table
and lighting the lamps in the Banquet Hall, and
says to Olaf Skaktavl :)


50 Lady Inger of Ostrat. [Act II.

Ah, I sec Lady Inger has taken order for the even-
in- meal. We could perhaps better talk of our
affairs at table.

Olaf Skaktavl. Good; as you will.

NILS Lykke (aside). Time gained — all gained !
(To Lady Inger with a show of great friendli-

And meanwhile we might learn what part Lady
Inger Gyldenlove purposes to take in our design ?

Lady Inger. I? — None.

Nils Lykke and Olaf Skaktavl. None !

Lady Inger. Can ye marvel, noble Sirs, that I
venture not on a game, wherein all is staked on one
cast? And that, too, when none of my allies dare
trust me fully.

Nils Lykke. That reproach touches not me. I
trust you blindly; I pray you be assured of that.

Olaf Skaktavl. Who should believe in you, if
not your countrymen ?

Lady Inger. Truly, — this confidence rejoices me.
(Goes to a cupboard in the back wall and fills two
goblets with wine.)

NILS Lykke (aside). Curse her, will she slip out
of the noose ?

Lady Inger (hands a goblet to each). And since
so it is, I offer you a cup of welcome to Ostrat.
Drink, noble knights ! Pledge me to the last drop !
(Looks from one to the other after they have drunk>
and says gravely :)

But now I must tell you — one goblet held a
welcome for my friend ; the other — death for my
enemy !

Act II.] Lady Inger of Ostrat. 51

NILS Lykke {throws down the goblet). Ah, I am
poisoned !

Olaf Skaktavl (at the same time, clutches his
szvord). Death and hell, have you murdered me ?

Lady Inger {to Olaf Skaktavl, pointing to
Nils Lykke). You see the Danes' trust in Inger


(To Nils Lykke, pointing to Olaf Skaktavl.)

and likewise my countrymen's faith in me !

{To both of them)

And I am to place myself in your power ? Gently,
noble Sirs — gently ! The Lady of Ostrat is not yet in
her dotage.

(Elina Gyldenlove enters by the door on the

Elina. I heard loud voices ! What is amiss ?

Lady Inger (to Nils Lykke). My daughter Elina.

Nils Lykke {softly). Elina ! I had not pictured
her thus.

(Elina catches sight 0/N1LS Lykke, and stands
still } as in surprise, gazing at him.)

LADY INGER (touches her arm). My child — this
knight is

Elina (motions her mother back with her hand, still
looking intently at him, and says:) There is no
need ! I see who he is. He is Nils Lykke.

Nils Lykke (aside, to Lady Inger). How?

Does she know me? Can Lucia have ? Can

she know ?

Lady Inger. Hush! She knows nothing.

Elina (to herself). I knew it ; — even so must Nils
Lykke appear.

52 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act II.

Nils Lykke (approaches her). Yes, Elina Gylden-
lovc, — you have guessed rightly. And as it seems
that, in some sense, you know me, — and, moreover, as
I am your mother's guest, — you will not deny me the
flower-spray you wear in your bosom. So long as it is
fresh and fragrant I shall have in it an image of yourself.

ELINA (proudly, but still gazing at him). Pardon
me, Sir Knight — it was plucked in my own chamber,
and there can grow no flower for you.

Nils Lykke (loosening a spray of flozvers that he
wears in the front of his doublet). At least you will
not disdain this humble gift. 'Twas a farewell
token from a courtly lady when I set forth from
Trondhiem this morning. — But mark me, noble
maiden, — were I to offer you a gift that were fully
worthy of you, it could be naught less than a
princely crown.

Elina (who has taken the flowers passively). And
were it the royal crown of Denmark you held forth to
me — before I shared it with you, I would crush it to
pieces between my hands, and cast the fragments at
your feet !

(Throws down the flowers at his feet, and goes
into the Banquet Hall.)

Olaf Skaktavl (mutters to himself). Bold — as
Inger Ottisdaughter by Knut Alfson's bier!

LADY INGER (softly, after looking alternately at
Elina and Nils Lykke). The wolf can be tamed.
Now to forge the fetters.

Nils Lykke (picks up the flowers and gazes in
rapture after ELINA). God's holy blood, but she is
proud and fair !

Act III.] Lady Inger of Ostrat. 53

Act Third.

( The Banquet Hall. A high bow-window in the background j
a smaller window in front on the left. Several doors on each
side. The roof is supported by massive wooden pillars, on
which, as well as on the walls, are hung all sorts of weapons.
Pictures of saints, knights, and ladies hang in long rows.
Pende7it from the roof, a large 7tiany-bra?tched lamp, alight.
In front, on the right, an ancient carve?i high-seat. In the
middle of the hall, a table with the remnants of the evcni?tg
meal. )

(Elina Gyldenlove enters from the left, slowly and in deep
thought. Her expression shows that she is going over again
in her mind the scene with Nils Lykke. At last she repeats
the motion with which she flung away the flowers, and says in
a low voice :)

Elina. And then he gathered up the

fragments of the crown of Denmark — no, 'twas the
flowers — and : " God's holy blood, but she is proud
and fair ! "

Had he whispered the words in the remotest corner,
long leagues from Ostrat, — still had I heard them !

How I hate him ! How I have always hated him,
— this Nils Lykke ! — There lives not another man
like him, 'tis said. He plays with women — and treads
them under his feet.

And it was to him my mother thought to offer me !
— How I hate him !

They say Nils Lykke is unlike all other men. It

54 Lady Inger of Ostrat. [Act III.

is not true ! There is nothing strange in him. There
are many, many like him ! When Biorn used to tell
me his tales, all the princes looked as Nils Lykke
looks. When I sat lonely here in the hall and
dreamed my histories, and my knights came and
went, — they were one and all even as he.

How strange and how good it is to hate ! Never
have I known how sweet it can be — till to-night.
Ah — not to live a thousand years would I sell the
moments I have lived since I saw him ! —

" God's holy blood, but she is proud "

{Goes slozvly towards the background, opens the
window and looks out. Nils Lykke comes in
by the first door on the right.)

NILS LYKKE (to himself). " Sleep well at Ostrat,
Sir Knight," said Inger Gyldenlove as she left me.

Sleep well ? Ay, it is easily said, but

Out there, sky and sea in tumult; below, in the grave-
vault, a young girl on her bier ; the fate of two
kingdoms in my hand ; and in my breast a withered
flower that a woman has flung at my feet. Truly, I
fear me sleep will be slow of coming.

{Notices Elina, who has left the window, and is
going out oft the left.)
There she is. Her haughty eyes seem veiled with
thought. — Ah, if I but dared — {aloud). Mistress
Elina !

Elina {stops at the door). What will you ? Why -
do you pursue me ? >„ ....

f Nils LYKKE. You err ; I pursue you not. I am
myself pursued.

Elina. You ?

Act III.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 55


Nils LYKKE. By a multitude of thoughts. There-
fore 'tis with sleep as with you : — it flees me.

Elina. Go to the window, and there you will
find pastime ; — a storm-tossed sea

Nils LYKKE {smiles). A storm-tossed sea ? That
I may find in you as well.

Elina. In me ?

Nils LYKKE. Ay, of that our first meeting has
assured me.

Elina. And that offends you ?

Nils LYKKE. Nay, in nowise ; yet I could wish
to see you of milder mood.

Elina {proudly). Think you that you will ever
k have your wish ?

Nils Lykke. J am s u ce-of.it I have a welcome
word to say to you.

Elina. What is it?

Nils Lykke. Farewell.

ELINA {comes a step nearer him). Farewell ? You
are leaving Ostrat — so soon ?

Nils Lykke. This very night

ELINA {seems to hesitate for a moment ; then says
coldly :) Then take my greeting, Sir Knight ! {Bows
and is about to go.)

Nils Lykke. Elina Gyldenlove, — I have no right
to keep you here ; but 'twill be unlike your nobleness
if you refuse to hear what I have to say to you.

ELINA. I hear you, Sir Knight.

Nils Lykke. I know you hate me.

ELINA. You are keen-sighted, I perceive.

Nils Lykke. But I know, too, that I have fully
merited your hate. Unseemly and insolent were

56 Lady Inger of Ostrat. [Act III.

the words I wrote of you in my letter to Lady

LUNA. It may be ; I have not read th em.

Nils Lykke. Hut at least their purport is not
/unknown to you ; I know your mother has not left
/you in ignorance of the matter ; at the least she has

/ told you how I praised the lot of the man who ;

/ surely you know the hope I nursed

Elina. Sir Knight — if it is of that you would
J speak

Nils Lykke. I speak of it, only to excuse what
i I have done ; for no other reason, I swear to you.
If my fame has reached you — as I have too much
cause to fear — before I myself set foot in Ostrat, you
must needs know enough of my life not to wonder
that in such things I should go to work something
boldly. I have met many women, Elina Gyldenlove ;
but not one have I found unyielding. Such lessons,
look you, teach a man to be secure. He loses the
habit of roundabout ways

Elina. May be so. I know not of what metal
those women can have been.

For the rest, you err in thinking 'twas your letter
to my mother that aroused my soul's hatred and
.bitterne ss aga inst you,/' It is of older date.

NiLS~ lJnEk&Xt0itasi/y). Of older date? What
mean you?

ELINA. 'Tis as you guessed : — your fame has gone
before you, to Ostrat, even as over all the land.
Nils Lykke's name is never spoken save with the
name of some woman whom he has beguiled and
cast off. Some speak it in wrath, others with laughter

Act III.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 57

and wanton jeering at those weak-souled creatures.
But through the wrath and the laughter and the jeers
rings the song they have made of you, masterful and
insolent as an enemy's song of triumph.

Tis all this that has begotten my hate for you.
You were ever in my thoughts, and I longed to
meet you face to face, that you might learn that
there are women on whom your soft speeches are
lost — if you should think to use them.

NILS Lykke. You judge me unjustly, if you
judge from what rumour has told of me. Even if
there be truth in all you have heard, — you
know not the causes that have made me what
I am. — As a boy of seventeen I began my course
of pleasure. I have lived full fifteen years since
then. -Light women granted me all that I would
— even before the wish had shaped itself into
a prayer ; and what I offered them they seized
with eager hands. You are the first woman that
has flung back a gift of mine with scorn at my feet.

Think not I reproach you. Rather I honour you
for it, as never before have I honoured woman. But
for this I reproach my fate — and the thought is a
gnawing pain to me — that I did not meet you

Elina Gyldenlove ! Your mother has told me of
you. While far from Ostrat life ran its restless
course, you went your lonely way in silence, living
in your dreams and histories. Therefore you will
.understand what I have to tell you. — Know, then,
thai once f too lived even such a life as yours.
Methought that when I stepped forth into the great

58 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act III.

world, a noble and stately woman would come to
meet me, and would beckon me to her and point me
the path towards a lofty goal. — I was deceived, Elina
Gyldenlove! Women came to meet me; but she
was not among them. Ere yet I had come to full
manhood, I had learnt to despise them all. — — ■

Was it my fault ? Why were not the otfocTsT even
as you ? — I know the fate of your fatherland lies
heavy on your soul, and you know the part I have

«. in these affairs 'Tis said of me that I am

false as the sea-foam. Mayhap I am; but if I be, it
is women who have made me so. Had I sooner
found what I sought, — had I met a woman proud
and noble and high-souled even as you, then had my
path been different indeed. f At this moment, mayBe^N
I had been standing. at you? side as the ch ampion of j

suffer wrong in Norway's land. For this I
believe: a woman is the mightiest power in the world,
and in her hand it lies to guide a man whither God
Almighty would have him go.

Elina {to herself). Can it be as he says ? Nay
nay; there is falsehood in his eyes and deceit
on his lips. And yet — no song is sweeter than his

NILS Lykke {coming closer, speaks low and more
intimately). How often, when you have been sitting
here at Ostrat, alone with your changeful thoughts,
have you felt your bosom stifling; how often have the
roof and walls seemed to shrink together till they
crushed your very soul. Then have your longings
taken wing with you; then have you yearned to fly
far from here, you knew not whither. — How often

Act III.] Lady Inger of OstrAt. 59

have you not wandered alone by the fiord ; far out \
a ship has sailed by in fair array, with knights and
ladies on her deck, with song and music of stringed
instruments ; — a faint, far-off rumour of great events
has reached your ears; — and you have felt a longing
in your breast, an unconquerable craving to know all
that lies beyond the sea. But you have not under-
stood what ailed you. At times you have thought it
was the fate of your fatherland that filled you with all
these restless broodings. You deceived yourself; — a
maiden so young as you has other food for musing
— Elina Gyldenlove ! Have you never had
visions of an unknown power — a strong mysterious
might, that binds together the destinies of mortals?
When you dreamed of the many-coloured life far out
in the wide world — when-you dreamed of knightly
~j.ous.ts. and Joyous, festivals — saw you never in your
dreams a knight, who stood in the midst of the
gayest rout, with a smile on his lips and with bitter-
ness in his heart, — a knight that had once dreamed
a dream as fair as yours, of a woman noble
and stately, for whom he went ever seeking, and
in vain ?

Elina. Who are you, that have power to clothe
my most secret thoughts in words ? How can you
tell me what I have borne in my inmost soul — and
knew it not myself? How know you ?

Nils Lykke. All that I have told you, I have
read in your eyes.

ELINA. Never has any man spoken to me as you
have. I have understood you but dimly; and yet — •
all, all seems changed since

60 Lady Inger of OstrAt. [Act III.

{To herself.) Now I understand why they said that
Nils L ykke was unlike al l others.

Nils Lykke. There is "one thing in the world
that might drive a man to madness, but to think of
it ; and that is the thought of what might have been
if things had fallen out in this way or that. Had I
met you on my path while the tree of my life was yet

1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryHenrik IbsenIbsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) → online text (page 4 of 22)