[The Preceding. ALFHILD comes unnoticed out of the storehouse in glittering bridal dress with a crown on her head and her hair flowing.]
ARNE. [Aside.] This has been a cursed day for me! O, he is a cunning dog, this Hemming! He knew that Ingeborg had a fancy for him; it was therefore so galling to him that Olaf should have her.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Who has in the meantime regained her composure.] And now to the festive hall! Hemming we can think of later.—Olaf, take your bride by the hand!
ARNE. [Reluctantly, as he sees INGEBORG whisper to HEMMING.] Where is the bride? Come, come!
ALFHILD AND INGEBORG. [At the same time, as they each seize one of OLAF’s hands.] Here I am!
THE GUESTS. How,—she takes Olaf?
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside.] So far has he gone, then!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aloud, to ALFHILD.] You are mistaken! That is not your bridegroom!
ALFHILD. Why, certainly, it is Olaf!
INGEBORG. [Lets go his hand.] If then he has promised her—!
LADY KIRSTEN. [In great agitation.] Olaf is not your bridegroom, I say! Tell her it yourself, my son!
[OLAF is silent. LADY KIRSTEN’s Kinsmen look at each other embarrassed. ARNE’s Relatives draw nearer, angry and threatening.]
LADY KIRSTEN. [With raised voice.] Olaf Liljekrans! Answer loudly and clearly! You owe it to yourself and to us.
OLAF. [In despair, struggling with himself.] Let it be as you wish then, mother! Yes, by all the saints! I shall answer. Alfhild! you are mistaken! I am not your bridegroom.
OLAF. [Pointing to INGEBORG.] There—there stands my bride!
ALFHILD. [Withdraws a step or two dumfounded and stares at him.] She—your—
OLAF. [With rising irritation.] Alfhild! go hence! Go, go, far into the mountain again; ’twill be best for you. I was sick and bewildered in mind when I wandered up there! What I have told you I little remember! I do not know and I do not want to know! Do you hear,—I do not want to!—The golden crown you can keep! Keep all, both the silver and gold, that you there stand dressed in. More,—yea, tenfold more you shall have.—Well! why do you stare at me so?
[ALFHILD takes off the crown and the other adornments and places them at OLAF’s feet as she continues uninterruptedly to stare at him.]
OLAF. Perhaps I pretended to you that you were to be my bride tonight, perhaps you believed me! Perhaps you thought that Olaf Liljekrans would marry a—a—what was it you called her?
OLAF. [Stamps with his foot.] Do not stare at me so, I say! I know you well enough; you have bewitched me. I forgot my family; I forgot my bride, my betrothed, she who stands there.
OLAF. [Seizes ALFHILD violently by the arm.] Look at her, Alfhild! Aha, it is she that I love!
[ALFHILD sinks down on her knees and covers her face with her hands.]
OLAF. Rise, Alfhild! rise, I say! If you dare to grieve in this way, I shall kill you!—Why are you not happy? Be merry and wild as I am!—And the rest of you! Why do you stand so silently, looking at one another? Laugh,—laugh loudly, so that it may echo around!—Alfhild! Why don’t you answer? Have I not told you enough! Aha! Then add, you others, a word to what I have said! Come, say something, you too; Lady Kirsten would like it! Laugh at her, mock her, trample her under your feet!
OLAF. [With ringing laughter.] Ha, ha, ha! She is Olaf’s darling!
[ALFHILD sinks down to the ground in such a way that she rests prostrate against the stone bench at the left. A flash of lightning illuminates the scene and the thunder rolls; during the following to the close of the act the darkness and the storm increase.]
OLAF. See, see! That I like; now do the powers above join in! Right now will I ride to the church with my bride! Come, Mistress Ingeborg! But first will we drink,—yes, drink, drink! Bring here the beaker and horn,—not in there—! Light the candles in the church! Let the organ resound; prepare for a dance—not mournful psalms—fie, fie, no, a dance!
[Thunder and lightning.]
OLAF. Ah, it is rumored in heaven that Olaf Liljekrans is celebrating his wedding!
[Rushes out to the right.]
ARNE. Christ save me! his reason is gone!
LADY KIRSTEN. Ah, have no fear; it will soon pass,—I know him.
[Draws ARNE aside with her.]
ARNE. [Gently threatening HEMMING in passing.] O, Hemming, Hemming! You are a sly dog!
[The GUESTS go quietly and gloomily out to the right; the SERVANTS to the left.]
INGEBORG. [Detains HEMMING.] Hemming! I will not go to church with Olaf Liljekrans!
HEMMING. Alas, what will prevent it?
INGEBORG. If it comes to that, I shall say no,—no before the very altar itself, in the presence of all!
INGEBORG. Hold my horse saddled and ready!
HEMMING. What! You will—!
INGEBORG. I will! Now I know for the first time how dear you are to me,—now when I stand in danger of losing you. Go,—do as I say, and let me know when it is time.
[She goes out to the right.]
HEMMING. Yes, now am I strong; now I dare venture whatever it be!
[He goes out to the left.]