[HEMMING. Shortly afterwards OLAF Liljekrans from the, background. The moon rises.]
HEMMING. The golden ring unto me she has granted, Then still is she true, I am not deceived! ‘Twas only in jest that she scolded and ranted As though she were bitterly grieved. All will I venture, no more will I dread!
HEMMING. [Despondent.] And yet, I am only a penniless swain, And early tomorrow is she to be wed!
HEMMING. [Quickly.] But into the forest the bridegroom is fled; O, if he should never come home again!
HEMMING. [Starts to rush out, but stops with a cry.] Olaf! there is he!
[OLAF comes slowly forward between the rocks in the background. He walks dreaming, his head uncovered, and his hands full of flowers which he tears to pieces and scatters on the way; his whole behavior during the following indicates an unsettled mind.]
OLAF. [Without noticing HEMMING.] If only I knew What she meant, could somehow the riddle unravel!
[Starts to go out to the left.]
HEMMING. Lord Olaf! Lord Olaf! O where do you travel? O hear me, Lord Olaf!
OLAF. [Half awakening.] Hemming! Is it you? Stand not in my way!
HEMMING. What is it that weighs On your mind, that you wander in here for three days?
[Observes him more closely.]
HEMMING. And what is the game that here you do play,— Your cheek is white, and your forehead is gray!
OLAF. Be not so amazed that my cheek is white, Three nights have I fought so strange a fight; Be not so amazed that my forehead is gray, Three nights have I been in the elfen play.
HEMMING. Heaven protect us!
OLAF. I am ill, I am faint! I remember neither devil nor saint!
HEMMING. [Apprehensively.] Come, Olaf, with me to your mother’s estate!
OLAF. My mother’s estate! Where stood it of late? ‘Tis here, as it seems, that I have my home! The wood has become my ancestral hall, The river’s roaring, the pine-trees’ moan, Is sweeter to me than my mother’s call.
OLAF. [With increasing rapture.] Aye, here it is quiet! Aye, here it is fair! Behold, my hall for the feast I prepare.
HEMMING. [Aside.] O what has come o’er him?
OLAF. Soon comes my bride!
HEMMING. Your bride! Then you know—?
OLAF. [Continuing.] When the day has died, When slumber the birds, when fades the cloud, Then here will she come so young and so proud!
HEMMING. [Crosses himself.] All heavenly saints! I fear the worst!
Know you when it was that I saw her here first? I rode late one evening from Guldvik hall, Some kind of feast I seem to recall. My spirit was heavy, my heart full of woe! That something had grieved me is all that I know. I rode all alone up the mountain side, At midnight I passed by the river so wide; Then heard I beyond a melodious wail, That rang like a song over mountain and dale. It seemed a plaintive, bewitching lay; I folded my hands, I tried to pray, But tied was my tongue and my thoughts went astray; The strains did beguile and lure me away. 'Twas now like weeping and now like laughter, 'Twas now full of mirth, and now ever after As were it the cry of a perishing man, As were it a soul in the anguish of death, That I heard in the song so beguiling, that ran Like a stream around me!—I scarce got my breath! So sorely bewildered was I in my soul; It was as if powers both gentle and strong Enticed me and lured me away from my goal, I needs must come up, I was carried along. And ever rang out the mysterious call; How far I rode on I no longer recall.
HEMMING. [Aside.] And the bride, of whom the minstrel sang,—she too had to follow—
My foal stopped short, I awoke in a maze, I looked around with a wondering gaze; 'Twas all so pleasant and fair! But what land I was in I could not understand! I stood in a valley;—a deep peace lay Over all like dew in the night! The moon on the edge of the tarn did play; It seemed to laugh as it vanished away In the rolling billows so bright! My head was heavy, my spirit oppressed, I yearned for nothing but sleep; I laid me down 'neath a linden to rest In the whispering forest so sweet!
HEMMING. Lord Olaf! Lord Olaf! How dared you do it?
I ventured then into the elf-maidens' play; The fairest of maidens gave me a bouquet Of snow-drops blue and of lilies white; She pierced my soul with her glances so bright, And whispered to me what nobody knows,— A word I'll keep ever in mind: "Olaf Liljekrans! know you where happiness grows, Know you the hour when peace you will find? Of all the flowers on the hill over yonder Must you the fairest one find, And bit by bit you must tear it asunder And scatter it far to the wind, Then—only then will you happiness find!"
HEMMING. You have slumbered and dreamed!
That very same day My mother's estate grew cramped and narrow! Through thicket, o'er highway, I hastened away To the grove so pleasant with bow and with arrow! There met I again the elf-maiden fair.
HEMMING. [Steps back amazed.] When then,—have you wakened and found—?
OLAF. I took my betrothal ring, shot with it there Right over her head, far into the air; Now is she evermore bound!
HEMMING. And it is the bride you are waiting for here?
OLAF. Yes, yes, the bride; soon will she be near!
HEMMING. [Aside.] His soul is enthralled, his mind is ill; All this Lady Kirsten shall know!
HEMMING. [Aloud.] And dare you go wandering fearless up here In the hills?
OLAF. It is here so still, ‘Tis sweetly I dream as I go!
[Goes slowly in between the huge rocks in front on the right.]
His wedding tomorrow his people prepare; Yet for his betrothed he seems little to care; 'Tis little he knows that she is so near, And less that she holds another one dear!— He wanders around in the forest astray, And Ingeborg gave me the golden ring! His mother I'll seek without further delay; The saints only know what the morrow will bring!
[Goes out to the left.]