[OLAF and ALFHILD come in from the right in the background. Later LADY KIRSTEN.]
O, you must tell me still more of the world! Your words to my soul are refreshing indeed; It seems as if here in the wonders you tell My innermost longings you read!.... Did you ne'er on a summer night sit by a tarn, So deep that no one could fathom it quite, And see in the water the stars so bright, Those knowing eyes that express with their flickering light Much more than a thousand tongues could possibly say? I often sat thus; I sought with my hands to capture The sparkling riddles below in the deep— I snatched after them, I would see them close, Then they grew blurred like eyes that weep,— It is idle to search and to seek— So too in my soul there was many a riddle I yearned to solve in the days that are gone! They tricked me as did all the stars in the deep, Grew stranger and stranger the more I brooded thereon!
Am I not to myself a mysterious riddle? Am I Olaf Liljekrans, the nobly born, The knight so proud, who vaunted his race, Who laughed the singing of birds to scorn! And yet, from my heart I tear what I was! Happy I am,—and that can I understand— Your prophecy failed,—I should happiness find, When the fairest of flowers I had found in the land. Ah! happiness here I have found!
ALFHILD. I prophesied nothing. But—tell me more of the life that is yonder!
The life that is yonder may go its own way; Here is my home; with you will I wander, My lovely wife! Alfhild, behold! Is it not as if here in the mountainous fold Were built for us two a bower so fair! The snowdrops in splendor stand garbed everywhere; In here there is feasting, there is joy, there is mirth, More real than any I have found on this earth! The song rings out from the river so deep; It is that which makes me both laugh and weep! The song of magic, the mysterious lay, Has made me so free, so happy and gay!
[Seizes her passionately in his arms.]
Farewell to the village below I say! 'Tis here that my bridal-bed I shall prepare; Farewell to the world forever and ay,— For here I shall hold my beautiful bride!
ALFHILD. [Moves away apprehensively.] Olaf!
OLAF. [Stops suddenly, as if seized with a vague and painful remembrance.]
My bride! What is it I say! Tell me—when first—I happened this way— Can you still remember the very first night? What was it I sought?—No longer I know! Did I come to fetch you—to—the village below? Did I come the wedding guests to invite?
ALFHILD. What mean you? Wedding? I can’t understand—?
Our betrothal at Guldvik was held, you remember! For three weeks thereafter our wedding was planned— But it seems to me that,—no, my brow like an ember Burns hot! I will try no more to remember!
CHORUS. [Softly and far in the forest.]
Olaf Liljekrans! Olaf Liljekrans! Why sleep you so deep and so long?
ALFHILD. Hush, Olaf! do you hear?
OLAF. Did you hear it too?
ALFHILD. What was it?
A memory of long ago, Which often comes back when I wander with you! 'Tis evil,—it calls from the village below.
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside, as she enters from the rear of the stage unobserved by the others.] Ah, there! He speaks; could I understand—!
OLAF. [With increasing vehemence.]
Yes, yes, I come; not alone will I ride! For ladies and knights shall heed my command, And come hither with song to greet my bride! For you shall be saddled my swiftest steed, The poet and minstrel shall ride in the lead, Thereafter shall follow the steward and priest, The people shall all be bid to the feast! Pages so courtly shall guide your steed, And beautiful flowers be strewn at your feet, The peasant shall bow to the ground like a weed, His wife shall curtsy to you as is meet! The church bell shall ring to the countryside: Now rides Olaf Liljekrans home with his bride!
CHORUS OF WEDDING GUESTS. [Animated, yet softly, in the forest to the left.]
Now hasten we all To the wedding hall! The foal runneth light and gay! The hoofs resound On the grassy ground, As the merry swains gallop away!
LADY KIRSTEN. [Aside during the chorus.] Heaven he praised then! Hemming has told—!
They come, they come, their voices I hear! How sweetly it sounds! O Olaf, behold!
LADY KIRSTEN. Olaf, my son!
[Rushes to him unobserved by ALFHILD, who continues to look out to the left.]
OLAF. God help me! What’s here! My mother!
My poor unfortunate son! Now are you saved from the evil one! There comes Lord Arne with Ingeborg, your wife!
OLAF. [With a cry and as if suddenly awakening.]
Ingeborg!—With that have you shattered my life! My happiness then was not what it seemed! Alas, that you had to inform me of this!
OLAF. [In despair.]
Dear mother! a beautiful dream I have dreamed; You waken me now,—there's an end to my bliss!