[THORGJERD has in the meantime gone to the edge of the stage to the left; at ARNE’s last words he turns about suddenly as if he had been addressed.]
THORGJERD. [As he draws a step or two nearer.] What do you want of me?
ARNE. [Startled.] What’s that?
HEMMING. Now see!
ARNE. Let me manage this.
ARNE. [To THORGJERD.] We seek Olaf Liljekrans. Have you met him about here today?
THORGJERD. Olaf Liljekrans?
LADY KIRSTEN. Why, yes,—you know him well.
THORGJERD. Is he not one of the evil men from the villages?
LADY KIRSTEN. Evil?
THORGJERD. They are all evil there! Olaf Liljekrans curses the little bird when it sings on his mother’s roof.
LADY KIRSTEN. You lie, you fiddler!
THORGJERD. [With an artful smile.] So much the better for him.
ARNE. How so?
THORGJERD. You ask about Olaf Liljekrans? Has he gone astray in here? You seek him and cannot find him?
LADY KIRSTEN. Yes, yes!
THORGJERD. So much the better for him;—if it were a lie that I told, he will suffer no want.
INGEBORG. Speak out what you know!
THORGJERD. Then I should never be done!
THORGJERD. [Mischievously.] Elves and sprites hold sway here. Be you of good cheer! If you find him not he is at play with the elves; they are fond of all who love little birds, and Olaf, you said…. Go home,—go home again. Olaf is up in the mountain; he suffers no want.
LADY KIRSTEN. Curse you for saying such things!
ARNE. [To LADY KIRSTEN.] Do not heed what he says.
THORGJERD. [Approaches again.] I go hence now to tune my harp; Olaf Liljekrans is up in the mountain,—there shall his wedding be held.—Mad Thorgjerd must also be there; he can make tables and benches dance, so stirring is the music he plays. But you, take you heed; go you home again; it is not safe for you here. Have you not heard the old saying:
Beware of the elves when they frolic around, They may draw you into their play; And all that you see and all that you hear Will stay with your mind alway.
THORGJERD. [Suddenly breaking out with wild joy.] But here there are wedding guests,—ah! Each lady has on her very best gown, each man his very best coat,—now I see. Olaf Liljekrans is likewise a groom in the village,—there also he has a betrothed! Well, you have heard of such things before! I know that at any rate once, —it is years ago—but well I remember….
THORGJERD. [He continues after a moment’s pause, more and more wildly.]
Sir Alvar and Ingrid had plighted their troth, She was a sprightly maiden; Three blessed long days they feasted and sang, With jolly good wine they were laden. The bride was fair and the bride was gay, The dance of the guests she led, When in came the nixie, the evil wight, And sat on the edge of the bed. Like a fiddler he sat on the edge of the bed, And music bewitchingly played. Around danced the benches and tables and all, As lightly as servant and maid!— The nixie he went through the open door,— The truth it boots not to hide!— And while he played on the harpstrings sweet, There followed him ever—the bride!
THORGJERD. [Wildly, triumphantly.]
Fast in a spell lay knight and page, The groom knew not whither to go, The nixie made ready the bridal bed, Little Ingrid's bed in the river below.
THORGJERD. [Suddenly becomes quiet and says softly.] That song I shall never forget!—But go you home, night is coming on, and when the sun is down the forest belongs to the others. Farewell! I shall take greetings to Olaf where he sits—in the mountain!
[Goes out to the left.]