[LADY KIRSTEN. OLAF comes from the house in festive garb; he is pale and thoughtful.]
OLAF. [To himself.] Yesterday and today! There is but a midsummer night between the two, and yet it seems to me that both autumn and winter have overtaken my soul since the time I wandered up there on the mountain side—with her, with Alfhild!
OLAF. [Notices Lady Kirsten.] Alas, my dear mother, are you there?
LADY KIRSTEN. Quite so, my son! I like to see you dressed in gold and in silk. Now one can see by your dress who it is that is bridegroom tonight. I see you have rested.
OLAF. I have slept, but little have I rested; for all the while I was dreaming.
LADY KIRSTEN. A bridegroom must dream,—that is an ancient custom.
OLAF. My fairest dream is ended; let us not think any longer about that.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Changing the subject.] We shall have a merry time today, I think.
OLAF. It does not appear that heaven is pleased with my wedding day.
LADY KIRSTEN. How so?
OLAF. There are indications of a storm. Do you see how heavily the clouds are gathering in the west?
LADY KIRSTEN. The brighter the festive candles will shine when you go to the church tonight.
OLAF. [Paces back and forth a few times; at length he stops before his mother and says.] If I had married a poor man’s daughter, without family or wealth,—tell me, mother, what would you have done?
LADY KIRSTEN. [Looks at him sharply.] Why do you ask?
OLAF. Answer me first. What would you have done?
LADY KIRSTEN. Cursed you and gone to my grave in sorrow!—But tell me, why do you ask?
OLAF. Ah, it was only a jest; I little thought of doing so.
LADY KIRSTEN. That I can believe; for you have always held your family in high honor. But be merry and gay; tomorrow Ingeborg will sit in there as your wife, and then you will find both peace and happiness.
OLAF. Peace and happiness. One thing there is lacking.
LADY KIRSTEN. What do you mean?
OLAF. The fairest of flowers which I was to pick asunder and scatter far to the winds.
LADY KIRSTEN. The silly dream;—think no longer about it.
OLAF. Perhaps it would be best for me if I could forget.
LADY KIRSTEN. In the ladies’ room your betrothed sits with all her maids; little have you talked with her today. Do you not want to go in?
OLAF. [In thought.] Yes, yes! Where is she?
LADY KIRSTEN. In the ladies’ room, as I said.
OLAF. [Lively.] Nothing shall be lacking to her from this day. Shoes with silver buckles I shall give her; she shall wear brooches and rings. The withered twigs shall be put away; I shall give her a golden necklace to wear.
LADY KIRSTEN. Of whom do you speak?
OLAF. Of Alfhild!
LADY KIRSTEN. I was speaking of Ingeborg, your betrothed. Olaf! Olaf! You make me anxious and worried,—so strange are you. I could really almost believe that she had bewitched you.
OLAF. That she has! Yes, forsooth, mother, I have been bewitched. I have been in the elf maidens’ play; happy and gay I was as long as it lasted, but now—. Through long, long years I shall be weighed down with woe as often as I call it to mind.
LADY KIRSTEN. If she were a witch, the stake would surely be hers; but she is a crafty and wily woman who has lured you on with her fair speech.
OLAF. She is pure as the mother of God herself!
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, yes, but beware! Remember, whatever she is, tomorrow you are wed; it would be both sin and shame to you if you longer took notice of her.
OLAF. I realize it, mother, full well!
LADY KIRSTEN. And Ingeborg, whom you have betrothed and who loves you, yes, Olaf! loves you with all her heart—the punishment of heaven would be visited on you, in case you—
OLAF. True, true!
LADY KIRSTEN. I will not speak of our own circumstances; but you can easily see that Arne’s daughter can help us greatly in one thing or another; our affairs have been going from bad to worse, and if the harvest should fail this year I should not in the least be surprised if we had to take up the beggar’s staff.
OLAF. Yes, I know it.
LADY KIRSTEN. With Arne’s money we can mend everything; an honorable place you will win for yourself among the king’s men. Think this carefully over; if you have promised Alfhild more than you can fulfil—and I seem to notice in her something like that in spite of her quiet demeanor—why, speak with her about it. Tell her,—well, tell her anything you please; empty-handed she shall not go away from here,—that you can freely promise. See, here she comes! Olaf, my son! think of your betrothed and your noble race, think of your old mother who would have to go to her grave in shame, in case—be a man, Olaf! Now I go in to look after the banqueting table.
[Goes into the house.]