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Gunnar. Thy claim is just; what the youth has
marred, the man must mend. Long have I looked
for thee, Ornulf, for this cause; and if amends content
thee, we shall soon be at one.

SlGURD. So deem I too. Ornulf will not press
thee hard.

GUNNAR (warmly). Nay, Ornulf, didst thou crave
her full worth, all my goods would not suffice.

ORNULF. I shall go by law and usage, be sure of



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgelaxd. 135

that. But now another matter. {Pointing to Kare.)
Seest thou yonder man ?

GUNNAR. Kare! {To ORNULF.) Thou knowest,
then, that there is a strife between us ?

ORNULF. Thy men have stolen his cattle, and
theft must be atoned.

GUNNAR. Murder no less; he has slain my
thrall.

KARE. Because he flouted me.

GUNNAR. I have offered thee terms of peace.

KARE. But that had Hiordis no mind to, and this
morning, whilst thou wert gone, she fell upon me and
hunts me now to my death.

GUNNAR {angrily). Is it true what thou sayest?
Has she ?

Kare. True, every word.

Ornulf. Therefore the peasant besought me to
stand by him, and that will I do.

GUNNAR {after a moment's tJwught). Honourably
hast thou dealt with me, Ornulf ; therefore is it fit that
I should yield to thy will. Hear then, Kare : I am
willing to let the slaying of the thrall and the wrongs
done toward thee quit each other.

KAre {gives GUNNAR his hand). It is a good
offer ; I am content

ORNULF. And he shall have peace for thee and
thine ?

Gunnar. Peace shall he have, here and overall.

SlGURD {pointing to the right). See yonder !

Gunnar {disturbed). It is Hiordis !

Ornulf. With armed men!

KAre. She is seeking me !



136 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

(Hiordis enters, with a troop of house-carls. She

is clad in black, wearing a kirtle, cloak, and

hood ; the men are armed with swords and

axes ; she lierself carries a light spear!)

Hiordis {stops on entering). A meeting of many,

meseems.

Dagny {rus/ies to meet Iter). Peace and joy to thee,
Hiordis !

Hiordis {coldly). Thanks. It was told me that
thou wast not far off.

{Comes forzvard, looking sharply at those assembled.)
Gunnar, and — Kare, my foeman — Ornulf and his

sons, and

{As s/ie catches sight of SlGURD, she starts almost
imperceptibly, is silent a mome?it, but collects
herself and says :)
Many I see here who are known to me — but little
I know who is best minded towards me.

ORNULF. We are all well-minded towards thee.
Hiordis. If so be, thou wilt not deny to give
Kare into my husband's hands.
Ornulf. There is no need.

GUNNAR. There is peace and friendship between
us.

HlORDIS {with suppressed scorn). Friendship? Well
well, I know thou art a wise man, Gunnar! Kare
has met mighty friends, and well I wot thou deem'st

it safest

GUNNAR. Thy taunts avail not! {With dignity.)
Kare is at peace for us !

Hiordis {restraining herself). Well and good ; if
thou hast sworn him peace, the vow must be held.



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 137

GUNNAR (forcibly, but without anger). It must'
and it shall.

Ornulf (to Hiordis). Another pact had been
well-nigh made ere thy coming.

Hiordis (sharply). Between thee and Gunnar.

ORNULF (nods). It had to do with thee.

HIORDIS. Well can I guess what it had to do
with ; but this I tell thee, foster-father, never shall it
be said that Gunnar let himself be cowed because
thou earnest in arms to the isle. Hadst thou come
alone, a single wayfarer, to our hall, the quarrel had
more easily been healed.

Gunnar. Ornulf and his sons come in peace.

Hiordis. Mayhap ; but otherwise will it sound
in the mouths of men ; and thou thyself, Gunnar,
didst show scant trust in the peace yesterday, in
sending our son Egil to the southland so soon as it
was known that Ornulf s warship lay in the fiord.

Sigurd (to Gunnar). Didst thou send thy son
to the south ?

Hiordis. Ay, that he might be in safety should
Ornulf fall upon us.

ORNULF. Scoff not at that, Hiordis ; what Gunnar
has done may prove wise in the end, if so be thou
hindcrest the pact.

Hiordis. Life must take its chance ; come what
will, I had liever die than save my life by a shameful
pact.

DAGNY. Sigurd makes atonement, and will not
be deemed the lesser man for that.

Hiordis. Sigurd best knows what his own honour
can bear.



138 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

SlGURD. On that score shall I never need
reminding.

Hiordis. Sigurd has done famous deeds, but the
boldest deed of all was Gunnar's, when he slew the
white bear that guarded my bower.

GUNNAR {with an embarrassed glance at Sigurd).
Nay nay, no more of that !

Ornulf. In truth it was the boldest deed that
e'er was seen in Iceland ; and therefore

SlGURD. The more easily can Gunnar yield, and
not be deemed a coward.

Hiordis. If amends are to be made, amends shall
also be craved. Bethink thee, Gunnar, of thy vow !

Gunnar. That vow was ill bethought; wilt thou
hold me to it ?

Hiordis. That will I, if we two are to dwell under
one roof after this day. Know then, Ornulf, that if
atonement is to be made for the carrying away of thy
foster-daughter, thou, too, must atone for the slaying
of Jokul my father, and the seizure of his goods and
gear.

Ornulf. Jokul was slain in fair fight; 1 thy kins-
men did me a worse wrong when they sent thee to
Iceland and entrapped me into adopting 2 thee, un-
witting who thou wast.

HlORDIS. Honour, and no wrong, befell thee in
adopting Jokul's daughter.

1 " I serlig holmgang. " The established form of duel in the viking
times was to land the combatants on one of the rocky islets or "holms"
that stud the Norwegian coast, and there let them fight it out. Hence
" holmgang " = duel.

2 " At knsessette "=to knee set a child, to take it on one's knee, an
irrevocable form of adoption.



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 139

Ornulf. Nought but strife hast thou brought me,
that I know.

HlORDlS. Sterner strife may be at hand, if

Ornulf. I came not hither to bandy words with
women ! — Gunnar, hear my last word : art willing to
make atonement ?

HlORDlS (to GUNNAR). Think of thy vow !

Gunnar {to Ornulf). Thou hearest, I have
sworn a vow, and that must I

Ornulf {irritated). Enough, enough ! Never shall
it be said that I made atonement for slaying in fair
fight.

HlORDlS {forcibly). Then we bid defiance to thee
and thine.

Ornulf {in rising wrath). And who has the right
to crave atonement for Jokul ? Where are his kins-
men ? There is none alive ! Where is his lawful
avenger ?

HlORDlS. That is Gunnar, on my behalf.

ORNULF. Gunnar! Ay, hadst thou been betrothed
to him with thy foster-father's good-will, or had he
made atonement for carrying thee away, then were
he thy father's lawful avenger ; but

DAGN Y {apprehensive and imploring). Father, father !

SlGURD {quickly). Do not speak it !

ORNULF {raising his voice). Nay, loudly shall it be
spoken ! A woman wedded by force has no lawful
husband !

Gunnar {vehemently). Ornulf!

HlORDlS {in a wild outburst). Flouted and
shamed ! {In a quivering voice) This — this shalt
thou come to rue !



140 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

ORNULF (continuing). A woman wedded by force
is lawfully no more than a leman ! Wilt thou regain
thine honour, then must thou

HlORDls [controlling herself). Nay, Ornulf, I know
better what is fitting. If I am to be held as Gunnar's
leman — well and good, then must he win me honour
by his deeds — by deeds so mighty that my shame
shall be shame no more ! And thou, Ornulf, beware !
Here our ways part, and from this day I shall make
war upon thee and thine whensoever and wheresoever
it may be ; thou shalt know no safety, thou, or any

whom thou {Looking fiercely at KAre.) Kare !

Ornulf has stood thy friend, forsooth, and there is
peace between us ; but I counsel thee not to seek
thy home yet awhile ; the man thou slewest has

many avengers, and it well might befall See,

I have shown thee the danger ; thou must e'en
take what follows. Come, Gunnar, we must gird
ourselves for the fight. A famous deed didst
thou achieve in Iceland, but greater deeds must
here be done, if thou wouldst not have thy
— thy leman shrink with shame from thee and from
herself!

GUNNAR. Curb thyself, Hiordis ; it is unseemly
to bear thee thus.

DAGNY {imploringly'). Stay, foster-sister — stay ; I
will appease my father.

HlORDIS {without listening to her). Homewards,
homewards ! Who could have foretold me that I
should wear out my life as a worthless leman ? But
if I am to bear this life of shame, ay, even a single
day longer, then must my husband do such a deed —



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 141

such a deed as shall make his name more famous
than all other names of men.
(Goes out to the right.)

GUNNAR {softly). Sigurd, this thou must promise
me, that we shall have speech together ere thou leave
the land.

(Goes out with his wen to the right.)
( The storm has meanwhile ceased ; the mid-day sun
is now visible, like a red disc, loiv upon the rim
of the sea.)

Ornulf (threateningly). Dearly shalt thou aby
this day's work, foster-daughter !

DAGNY. Father, father! Surely thou wilt not
harm her !

Ornulf. Let me be ! Now, Sigurd, now can no
amends avail between Gunnar and me.

SlGURD. What thinkest thou to do ?

Ornulf. That I know not ; but far and wide
shall the tale be told how Ornulf of the Fiords came
to Gunnar's hall.

SlGURD (with quiet determination). That may
be ; but this I tell thee, Ornulf, that thou shalt
never bear arms against him so long as I am
alive.

ORNULF. So, so! And what if it be my will to ?

SlGURD. It shall not be — let thy will be never so
strong.

ORNULF (angrily). Go then ; join thou with my
foes ; I can match the twain of you !

SlGURD. Hear me out, Ornulf ; the day shall
never dawn that shall see thee and me at strife.
There is honourable peace between us, Dagny is



14^ The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

dearer to me than weapons or gold, and never shall I
forget that thou art her nearest kinsman.

Ornulf. There I know thee again, brave Sigurd!

SlGURD. But Gunnar is my foster-brother ; faith
and friendship have we sworn each other. Both in war
and peace have we faced fortune together, and of all
men he is dearest to me. Stout though he be, he
loves not war ; — but as for me, ye know, all of you,
that I shrink not from strife ; yet here I stand forth,
Ornulf, and pray for peace on Gunnar's behalf. Let
me have my will !

Ornulf. I cannot ; I should be a scoff to all
brave men, were I to fare empty-handed back to
Iceland.

SlGURD. Empty-handed shalt thou not fare.
Here in the cove my two long-ships are lying, with
all the wealth I have won in my viking-ventures.
There are many costly gifts from outland kings, good
weapons by the chestful, and other priceless chattels.
Take thou one of the ships ; choose which thou wilt,
and it shall be thine with all it contains — be that
the atonement for Hiordis, and let Gunnar be at
peace.

Ornulf. Brave Sigurd, wilt thou do this for
Gunnar?

SlGURD. For a faithful friend, no man can do too
much.

ORNULF. Give half thy goods and gear !

SlGURD {urgently). Take the whole, take both my
ships, take all that is mine, and let me fare with thee
to Iceland as the poorest man in thy train. What I
give, I can win once more ; but if thou and Gunnar



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 143

come to strife, I shall never see a glad day again.
Now, Ornulf, thy answer ?

ORNULF {reflecting). Two good long - ships,
weapons and other chattels — too much gear can no

man have ; but {^vehemently) no no ! — Hiordis

has threatened me ; I will not ! It were shameful for
me to take thy goods !

Sigurd. Yet listen

Ornulf. No, I say ! I must fight my own
battle, be my fortune what it may.

Kare {approaching). Right friendly is Sigurd's
rede, but if thou wilt indeed fight thine own battle
with all thy might, I can counsel thee better. Dream
not of atonement so long as Hiordis has aught to
say ; but revenge can be thine if thou wilt hearken to
me.

Ornulf. Revenge? What dost thou counsel ?

Sigurd. Evil, I can well see.

Dagny {to Ornulf). Oh, do not hear him !

KAre. Hiordis has declared me an outlaw ; with
cunning will she seek to take my life ; do thou swear
to see me scatheless, and this night will I burn
Gunnar's hall and all within it. Is that to thy
mind ?

SlGURD. Dastard !

ORNULF {quietly). To my mind ? Knowest thou,
Kare, what were more to my mind ? {In a voice of
thunder.) To hew off thy nose and ears, thou vile
thrall. Little dost thou know old Ornulf if thou
thinkcst to have his help in such a deed of shame !

KARE {who has shrunk backivards). If thou fall
not upon Gunnar he will surely fall upon thee.



144 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

Ornulf. Have I not weapons, and strength to
wield them ?

Sigurd {to KAre). And now away with thee!
Thy presence is a shame to honourable men !

KAre {going off). Well well, I must shield myself
as best I can. But this I tell you : if ye think to deal
gently with Hiordis, ye will come to rue it ; I know
her — and I know where to strike her sorest !
{Goes down tozvards the shore?)

Dagny. He is plotting revenge. Sigurd, it must
be hindered !

ORNULF {with annoyance). Nay, let him do as he
will ; she is worth no better !

Dagny. That meanest thou not ; bethink thee,
she is thy foster-child.

ORNULF. Woe worth the day when I took her
under my roof! Jokul's words are coming true.

Sigurd. Jokul's?

ORNULF. Ay, her father's. When I gave him his
death-wound he fell back upon the sward, and fixed
his eyes on me and sang : —

Jokul's kin for Jokul's slayer
many a woe shall still be weaving;
Jokul's hoard whoe'er shall harry
heartily shall rue his rashness.
When he had sung that, he was silent a while, and
laughed ; and thereupon he died.

SlGURD. Why should'st thou heed his words ?

Ornulf. Who knows ? The story goes, and
many believe it, that Jokul gave his children a wolf's
heart to eat, that they might be fierce and fell ; and
Hiordis has surely had her share, that one can well



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 145

see. {Breaks off, on looking out towards the right.)
Gunnar ! — Are we two to meet again !

GUNNAR (enters). Ay, Ornulf, think of me what
thou wilt, but I cannot part from thee as thy foe.

Ornulf. What is thy purpose ?

Gunnar. To hold out the hand of fellowship to
thee ere thou depart. Hear me all of you : go with
me to my homestead, and be my guests as long as ye
will. We lack not meat or drink or sleeping-room,
and there shall be no talk of our quarrel either to-day
or to-morrow.

Sigurd. But Hiordis ?

Gunnar. Yields to my will ; she changed her
thought on the homeward way, and deemed, as I did,
that we would soon be at one if ye would but be
our guests.

Dagny. Yes, yes ; let it be so.

Sigurd (doubtfully). But I know not whether

Dagny. Gunnar is thy foster-brother; little I
know thee if thou say him nay.

Gunnar (to Sigurd). Thou hast been my friend
where'er we fared ; thou wilt not stand against me now.

DAGNY. And to depart from the land, leaving
Hiordis with hate in her heart — no, no, that must we
not!

GUNNAR. I have done Ornulf a great wrong;
until it is made good, I cannot be at peace with
myself.

SlGURD (vehemently). All else will I do for thee,
Gunnar, but not stay here ! (Mastering himself.)
I am in King ^Ethelstan's service, and I must be
with him in England ere the winter is out.

10



146 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act 1.

Dai; NY. But that thou canst be, nevertheless.

GUNNAR. No man can know what lot awaits him ;
mayhap this is our last meeting, Sigurd, and thou
wilt repent that thou didst not stand by me to the
end.

DAGNY. And long will it be ere thou see me glad
again, if thou set sail to-day.

SlGURD {determined). Well, be it so ! It shall be

as ye will, although But no more of that ; here

is my hand ; I will stay to feast with thee and
Hiordis.

GUNNAR (shakes his hand). Thanks, Sigurd, I
never doubted thee. — And thou, Ornulf, dost thou
say likewise?

ORNULF {unappeased). I shall think upon it
Bitterly has Hiordis wounded me ; — I will not answer
to-day.

GUNNAR. It is well, old warrior ; Sigurd and
Dagny will know how to smooth thy brow. Now
must I prepare the feast ; peace be with you the
while, and well met in my hall ! {Goes out by the
right.)

SlGURD {to himself). Hiordis has changed her
thought, said he ? Little he knows her ; I rather

deem that she is plotting {interrupting himself

and turning to his men). Come, follow me all to the
ships ; good gifts will I choose for Gunnar and his
household.

Dagny. Gifts of the best we have. And thou,
father — thou shalt have no peace for me until thou
yield thee. {She goes with SlGURD and his men
down towards the shore at the back?}



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 147

ORNULF. Yield me? Ay, if there were no

women-folk in Gunnar's house, then Oh, if I

but knew how to pierce her armour ! — Thorolf, thou
here !

THOROLF (who has entered hastily). As thou seest.
Is it true that thou hast met with Gunnar ?

Ornulf. Yes.

THOROLF. And art at enmity with him ?

Ornulf. Hra — at least with Hiordis.

Thorolf. Then be of good cheer ; soon shalt thou
be avenged !

Ornulf. Avenged? Who shall avenge me ?

TllOROLF. Listen: as I stood on board the ship,
there came a man running, with a staff in his hand,
and called to me: "If thou be of Ornulf's shipfolk, then
greet him from Kare the Peasant, and say that now
am I avenging the twain of us." Thereupon he took
a boat and rowed away, saying as he passed : " Twenty
outlaws are at haven in the fiord; with them I fare
southward, and ere eventide shall Hiordis be child-
less."

Ornulf. He said that ! Ha, now I understand ;
Gunnar has sent his son away; Kare is at feud with
him

TllOROLF. And now he is rowing southward to
slay the boy !

ORNULF {with, sudden resolution). Up all ! That
booty will we fight for !

Thorolf. What wilt thou do ?

ORNULF. Ask me not; it shall be I, and not Kare,
that will take revenge !

Thorolf. I will go with thee !



148 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

Ornulf. Nay, do thou follow with Sigurd and
thy sister to Gunnar's hall.

THOROLF. Sigurd ? Is he in the isle ?

ORNULF. There may'st thou see his warships; we
are at one — do thou go with him.

THOROLF. Among thy foes ?

Ornulf. Go thou to the feast. Now shall
Hiordis learn to know old Ornulf! But hark thee,
Thorolf, to no one must thou speak of what I pur-
pose; dost hear ? to no one !

Thorolf. I promise.

ORNULF {takes his hand and looks at him affection-
ately). Farewell then, my fair boy; bear thee in
courtly wise at the feast-house, that I may have
honour of thee. Beware of idle babbling; but what
thou sayest, let it be keen as a sword. Be friendly to
those that deal with thee in friendly wise; but if thou
be taunted, hold not thy peace. Drink not more than
thou canst bear; but put not the horn aside when it is
offered thee in measure, lest thou be deemed womanish.

THOROLF. Nay, be at ease !

Ornulf. Then away to the feast at Gunnar's hall.
I too will come to the feast, and that in the guise
they least think of. {Blithely to the rest?) Come, my
wolf-cubs; be your fangs keen; — now shall ye have
blood to drink.

(He goes off with his elder sons to the right, at the

back.)
(SlGURD and DAGNY come up from the ships,
richly dressed for the banquet. They are followed
by two men, carrying a chest, who lay it down
and return as they came?)



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 149

THOROLF {looking out after his father). Now fare
they all forth to fight, and I must stay behind; it is
hard to be the youngest of the house. — Dagny ! all
hail and greetings to thee, sister mine !

Dagny. Thorolf! All good powers! — thou art a
man, grown !

THOROLF. That may I well be, forsooth, in five
years

Dagny. Ay, true, true.

SlGURD {giving him his hand). In thee will Ornulf
find a stout carl, or I mistake me.

Thorolf. Would he but prove me !

Dagny {smiling). He spares thee more than thou
hast a mind to ? Thou wast ever well-nigh too dear
to him.

Sigurd. Whither has he gone ?

Thorolf. Down to his ships ; — he will return ere
long.

SlGURD. I await my men ; they are mooring my
ships and bringing ashore wares.

THOROLF. There must I lend a hand !
{Goes down towards the shore.)

SlGURD {after a moment's reflection). Dagny, my
wife, we are alone ; I have that to tell thee which
must no longer be hidden.

DAGNY {surprised). What meanest thou ?

SlGURD. There may be danger in this faring to
Gunnar's hall.

DAGNY. Danger? Thinkcst thou that Gunnar ?

SlGURD. Nay, Gunnar is brave and true — yet better
had it been that I had sailed from the isle without
crossing his threshold.



150 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

DAGNY. Thou makest me fear! Sigurd, what is
amiss ?

SlGURD. First answer me this: the golden ring
that I gave thee, where hast thou it ?

DAGNY {showing it). Here, on my arm; thou
badest me wear it.

SlGURD. Cast it to the bottom of the sea, so deep
that none may ever set eyes on it again ; else may it
be the banc of many men !

DAGNY. The ring!

SlGURD (in a low voice). That evening when we
carried away thy father's daughters — dost remember
it?

DAGNY. Do I remember it !

SlGURD. It is of that I would speak.

DAGNY (in suspense). What is it ? Say on !

SlGURD. Thou knowest there had been a feast ;
thou didst seek thy chamber betimes ; but Hiordis
still sat among the men in the feast-hall. The horn
went busily round, and many a great vow was sworn.
I swore to bear away a fair maid with me from Ice-
land ; Gunnar swore the same as I, and passed the
cup to Hiordis. She grasped it and stood up, and
vowed this vow, that no warrior should have her to
wife, save he who should go to her bower, slay the
white bear that stood bound at the door, and carry
her away in his arms.

DAGNY. Yes, yes ; all this I know !

SlGURD. All men deemed that it might not be,
for the bear was the fiercest of beasts ; none but
Hiordis might come near it, and it had the strength of
twenty men.



Act I.] The Vikings at Helgeland. 151

DAGNV. But Gunnar slew it, and by that deed
won fame throughout all lands.

Sigurd (in a low voice). He won the fame — but —
/ did the deed !

Dagny {with a cry). Thou !

SlGURD. When the men left the feast-hall, Gunnar
prayed me to come with him alone to our sleeping-
place. Then said he : " Hiordis is dearer to me than
all women ; without her I cannot live." I answered
him : " Then go to her bower ; thou knowest the vow
she hath sworn." But he said: " Life is dear to him
that loves ; if I should assail the bear, the end were
doubtful, and I am loath to lose my life, for then
should I lose Hiordis too." Long did we talk, and
the end was that Gunnar made ready his ship, while
I drew my sword, donned Gunnar's harness, and went
to the bower.

DAGNY {with pride and joy). And thou — thou
didst slay the bear !

Sigurd. I slew him. In the bower it was dark
as under a raven's wing; Hiordis deemed it was
Gunnar that sat by her — she was heated with the
mead — she drew a ring from her arm and gave it
to me — it is that thou wearest now.

Dagny (hesitating). And thou didst pass the
night with Hiordis in her bower?

SlGURD. My sword lay drawn between us. (A short
pause). Ere the dawn, I bore Hiordis to Gunnar's
ship ; she dreamed not of our wiles, and he sailed
away with her. Then went I to thy sleeping-place
and found thee there among thy women ; — what
followed, thou knowest ; I sailed from Iceland with a



152 The Vikings at Helgeland. [Act I.

fair maid, as I had sworn, and from that day hast
thou stood faithfully at my side whithersoever I
might wander.

Dagny {much moved). My brave husband ! And
that great deed was thine ! — Oh, I should have known
it ; none but thou would have dared ! Hiordis, that
proud and stately woman, couldst thou have won,
yet didst choose me ! Now wouldst thou be tenfold
dearer to me, wert thou not already dearer than all
the world.

SlGURD. Dagny, my sweet wife, now thou
knowest all — that is needful. I could not but warn
thee ; for that ring — Hiordis must never set eyes on
it ! Wouldst thou do my will, then cast it from
thee — into the depths of the sea.

DAGNY. Nay, Sigurd, it is too dear to me ; is it
not thy gift? But be thou at ease, I shall hide it
from every eye, and never shall I breathe a word of
what thou hast told me.

(THOROLF comes up from the ships, with SlGURD's
men.)

THOROLF. All is ready for the feast.

DAGNY. Come then, Sigurd — my brave, my noble
warrior !


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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenIbsen's prose dramas (Volume 3) → online text (page 9 of 22)