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    Act Second

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    Chapter 2
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    (The feast-room in GUNNAR'S house. The entrance-door is in the back; smaller doors in the side-walls. In front, on the left, the greater high-seat; opposite it on the right, the lesser. In the middle of the floor, a wood fire is burning on a built-up hearth. In the background, on both sides of the door, are daises for the women of the household. From each of the high-seats, a long table, with benches, stretches backwards, parallel with the wall. It is dark outside; the fire lights the room.)

    (HIORDIS and DAGNY enter from the right.)

    DAGNY. Nay, Hiordis, I cannot understand thee. Thou hast shown me all the house; I know not what thing thou lackest, and all thou hast is fair and goodly;--then why bemoan thy lot?

    HIORDIS. Cage an eagle and it will bite at the wires, be they of iron or of gold.

    DAGNY. In one thing at least thou art richer than I; thou hast Egil, thy little son.

    HIORDIS. Better no child, than one born in shame.

    DAGNY. In shame?

    HIORDIS. Dost thou forgot thy father's saying? Egil is the son of a leman; that was his word.

    DAGNY. A word spoken in wrath--why wilt thou heed it?

    HIORDIS. Nay, nay, Ornulf was right; Egil is weak; one can see he is no freeborn child.

    DAGNY. Hiordis, how canst thou----?

    HIORDIS (unheeding). Thus is shame sucked into the blood, like the venom of a snake-bite. Of another mettle are the freeborn sons of mighty men. I have heard of a queen that took her son and sewed his kirtle fast to his flesh, yet he never blinked an eye. (With a look of cruelty.) Dagny, that will I try with Egil!

    DAGNY (horrified). Hiordis, Hiordis!

    HIORDIS (laughing). Ha-ha-ha! Dost thou think I meant my words? (Changing her tone.) But, believe me or not as thou wilt, there are times when such deeds seem to lure me; it must run in the blood,-- for I am of the race of the Jotuns,[1] they say.--Come, sit thou here, Dagny. Far hast thou wandered in these five long years; tell me, thou hast ofttimes been a guest in the halls of kings?

    [1] The giants or Titans of Scandinavian mythology.

    DAGNY. Many a time--and chiefly with AEthelstan of England.

    HIORDIS. And everywhere thou hast been held in honour, and hast sat in the highest seats at the board?

    DAGNY. Doubtless. As Sigurd's wife----

    HIORDIS. Ay, ay--a famous man is Sigurd--though Gunnar stands above him.

    DAGNY. Gunnar?

    HIORDIS. One deed did Gunnar do that Sigurd shrank from. But let that be! Tell me, when thou didst go a-viking with Sigurd, when thou didst hear the sword-blades sing in the fierce war-game, when the blood streamed red on the deck--came there not over thee an untameable longing to plunge into the strife? Didst thou not don harness and take up arms?

    DAGNY. Never! How canst thou think it? I, a woman!

    HIORDIS. A woman, a woman,--who knows what a woman may do!--But one thing thou canst tell me, Dagny, for that thou surely knowest: when a man clasps to his breast the woman he loves--is it true that her blood burns, that her bosom throbs--that she swoons in a shuddering ecstasy?

    DAGNY (blushing). Hiordis, how canst thou----!

    HIORDIS. Come, tell me----!

    DAGNY. Surely thou thyself hast known it.

    HIORDIS. Ay once, and only once; it was that night when Gunnar sat with me in my bower; he crushed me in his arms till his byrnie burst, and then, then----!

    DAGNY (exclaiming). What! Sigurd----!

    HIORDIS. Sigurd? What of Sigurd? I spoke of Gunnar--that night when he bore me away----

    DAGNY (collecting herself). Yes, yes, I remember--I know well----

    HIORDIS. That was the only time; never, never again! I deemed I was bewitched; for that Gunnar could clasp a woman---- (Stops and looks at DAGNY.) What ails thee? Methinks thou turnest pale and red!

    DARNY. Nay, nay!

    HIORDIS (without noticing her). The merry viking-raid should have been my lot; it had been better for me, and--mayhap for all of us. That were life, full and rich life! Dost thou not wonder, Dagny, to find me here alive? Art not afraid to be alone with me in the hall? Deem'st thou not that I must have died in all these years, and that it is my ghost that stands at thy side?

    DAGNY (painfully affected). Come--let us go--to the others.

    HIORDIS (seizing her by the arm). No, stay! Seems it not strange to thee, Dagny, that any woman can yet live after five such nights?

    DAGNY. Five nights?

    HIORDIS. Here in the north each night is a whole winter long. (Quickly and with an altered expression.) Yet the place is fair enough, doubt it not! Thou shalt see sights here such as thou hast not seen in the halls of the English king. We shall be together as sisters whilst thou bidest with me; we shall go down to the sea when the storm begins once more; thou shalt see the billows rushing upon the land like wild, white-maned horses--and then the whales far out in the offing! They dash one against another like steel-clad knights! Ha, what joy to be a witching-wife and ride on the whale's back--to speed before the skiff, and wake the storm, and lure men to the deeps with lovely songs of sorcery!

    DAGNY. Fie, Hiordis, how canst thou talk so!

    HIORDIS. Canst thou sing sorceries, Dagny?

    DAGNY (with horror). I!

    HIORDIS. I trow thou canst; how else didst thou lure Sigurd to thee?

    DAGNY. Thou speakest shameful things; let me go!

    HIORDIS (holding her back). Because I jest! Nay, hear me to the end! Think, Dagny, what it is to sit by the window in the eventide and hear the kelpie[1] wailing in the boat-house; to sit waiting and listening for the dead men's ride to Valhal; for their way lies past us here in the north. They are the brave men that fell in fight, the strong women that did not drag out their lives tamely, like thee and me; they sweep through the storm-night on their black horses, with jangling bells! (Embraces DAGNY, and presses her wildly in her arms.) Ha, Dagny! think of riding the last ride on so rare a steed!

    [1] "Draugen," a vague and horrible sea-monster.

    DAGNY (struggling to escape). Hiordis, Hiordis! Let me go! I will not hear thee!

    HIORDIS (laughing). Weak art thou of heart, and easily affrighted.

    (GUNNAR enters from the back, with SIGURD and THOROLF.)

    GUNNAR. Now, truly, are all things to my very mind! I have found thee again, Sigurd, my brave brother, as kind and true as of old. I have Ornulf's son under my roof, and the old man himself follows speedily after; is it not so?

    THOROLF. So he promised.

    GUNNAR. Then all I lack is that Egil should be here.

    THOROLF. 'Tis plain thou lovest the boy, thou namest him so oft.

    GUNNAR. Truly I love him; he is my only child; and he is like to grow up fair and kindly.

    HIORDIS. But no warrior.

    GUNNAR. Nay--that thou must not say.

    SIGURD. I marvel thou didst send him from thee----

    GUNNAR. Would that I had not! (Half aside.) But thou knowest, Sigurd, he who loves overmuch, takes not always the manliest part. (Aloud.) I had few men in my house, and none could be sure of his life when it was known that Ornulf lay in the cove with a ship of war.

    HIORDIS. One thing I know that ought first to be made safe, life afterwards.

    THOROLF. And that is----?

    HIORDIS. Honour and fame among men.

    GUNNAR. Hiordis!

    SIGURD. It shall not be said of Gunnar that he has risked his honour by doing this.

    GUNNAR (sternly). None shall make strife between me and Ornulf's kinsfolk!

    HIORDIS (smiling). Hm; tell me, Sigurd--can thy ship sail with any wind?

    SIGURD. Ay, when it is cunningly steered.

    HIORDIS. Good! I too will steer my ship cunningly, and make my way whither I will.

    (Retires towards the back.)

    DAGNY (whispers, uneasily). Sigurd, let us hence--this very night!

    SIGURD. It is too late now; it was thou that----

    DAGNY. Then I held Hiordis dear; but now----; I have heard her speak words I shudder to think of.

    (SIGURD'S men, with other guests, men and women, house-carls and handmaidens, enter from the back.)

    GUNNAR (after a short pause for the exchange of greetings and so forth). Now to the board! My chief guest, Ornulf of the Fiords, comes later; so Thorolf promises.

    HIORDIS (to the house-folk). Pass ale and mead around, that hearts may wax merry and tongues may be loosened.

    (GUNNAR leads SIGURD to the high-seat on the right. DAGNY seats herself on SIGURD'S right, HIORDIS opposite him at the other side of the same table. THOROLF is in like manner ushered to a place at the other table, and thus sits opposite GUNNAR, who occupies the greater high-seat. The others take their seats further back.)

    HIORDIS (after a pause in which they drink with each other and converse quietly across the tables). It seldom chances that so many brave men are seated together, as I see to-night in our hall. It were fitting, then, that we should essay the old pastime: Let each man name his chief exploit, that all may judge which is the mightiest.

    GUNNAR. That is an ill custom at a drinking-feast; it will oft breed strife.

    HIORDIS. Little did I deem that Gunnar was afraid.

    SIGURD. That no one deems; but it were long ere we came to an end, were we all to tell of our exploits, so many as we be. Do thou rather tell us, Gunnar, of thy journey to Biarmeland; 'tis no small exploit to fare so far to the north, and gladly would we hear of it.

    HIORDIS. The journey to Biarmeland is chapman's work, and little worth to be named among warriors. Nay, do thou begin, Sigurd, if thou would'st not have me deem that thou shrinkest from hearing my husband's praise! Say on; name that one of thy deeds which thou dost prize the highest.

    SIGURD. Well, since thou will have it so, so must it be. Let it be told, then, that I lay a-viking among the Orkneys; there came foemen against us, but we swept them from their ships, and I fought alone against eight men.

    HIORDIS. Good was that deed; but wast thou fully armed?

    SIGURD. Fully armed, with axe, spear, and sword.

    HIORDIS. Still the deed was good. Now must thou, my husband, name that which thou deemest the greatest among thy exploits.

    GUNNAR (unwillingly). I slew two berserkers who had seized a merchant-ship; and thereupon I sent the captive chapmen home, giving them there ship freely, without ransom. The King of England deemed well of that deed; he said that I had done hounourably, and gave me thanks and good gifts.

    HIORDIS. Nay truly, Gunnar, a better deed than that couldst thou name.

    GUNNAR (vehemently). I will boast of no other deed! Since last I fared from Iceland I have lived at peace and traded in merchandise. No more word on this matter!

    HIORDIS. If thou thyself wilt hide thy renown, thy wife shall speak.

    GUNNAR. Peace, Hiordis--I command thee!

    HIORDIS. Sigurd fought with eight men, being fully armed; Gunnar came to my bower in the black night, slew the bear that had twenty men's strength, and yet had but a short sword in his hand.

    GUNNAR (violently agitated). Woman, not a word more!

    DAGNY (softly). Sigurd, wilt thou bear----?

    SIGURD (likewise). Be still!

    HIORDIS (to the company). And now, ye brave men--which is the mightier, Sigurd or Gunnar?

    GUNNAR. Silence!

    HIORDIS (loudly). Speak out; I have the right to crave your judgement.

    AN OLD MAN (among the guests). If the truth be told, then is Gunnar's deed greater than all other deeds of men; Gunnar is the mightiest warrior, and Sigurd is second to him.

    GUNNAR (with a glance across the table). Ah, Sigurd, Sigurd, didst thou but know----!

    DAGNY (softly). This is too much--even for a friend!

    SIGURD. Peace, wife! (Aloud, to the others.) Ay truly, Gunnar is the most honourable of all men; so would I esteem him to my dying day, even had he never done that deed; for that I hold more lightly than ye.

    HIORDIS. There speaks thy envy, Sigurd Viking!

    SIGURD (smiling). Mightily art thou mistaken. (Kindly, to GUNNAR, drinking to him across the table.) Hail, noble Gunnar; our friendship shall stand fast, whosoever may seek to break it.

    HIORDIS. No one, that I wot of, has such a thought.

    SIGURD. Say not that; I could almost find it in me to think that thou hadst bidden us hither to stir up strife.

    HIORDIS. That is like thee, Sigurd; now art thou wroth that thou may'st not be held the mightiest man at the feast-board.

    SIGURD. I have ever esteemed Gunnar more highly than myself.

    HIORDIS. Well, well--second to Gunnar is still a good place, and---- (with a side-glance at THOROLF) had Ornulf been here, he could have had the third seat.

    THOROLF. Then would Jokul, thy father, find a low place indeed; for he fell before Ornulf.

    (The following dispute is carried on, by both parties, with rising and yet repressed irritation.)

    HIORDIS. That shalt thou never say! Ornulf is a skald, and men whisper that he has praised himself for greater deeds than he has done.

    THOROLF. Then woe to him who whispers so loudly that it comes to my ear!

    HIORDIS (with a smile of provocation). Wouldst thou avenge it?

    THOROLF. Ay, so that my vengeance should be told of far and wide.

    HIORDIS. Then here I pledge a cup to this, that thou may'st first have a beard on thy chin.

    THOROLF. Even a beardless lad is too good to wrangle with women.

    HIORDIS. But too weak to fight with men; therefore thy father let thee lie by the hearth at home in Iceland, whilst thy brothers went a-viking.

    THOROLF. It had been well had he kept as good an eye on thee; for then hadst thou not left Iceland a dishonoured woman.


    DAGNY (simultaneously). Brother!

    HIORDIS (softly, and quivering with rage). Ha! wait--wait!

    THOROLF (gives GUNNAR his hand). Be not wroth, Gunnar; evil words came to my tongue; but thy wife egged me!

    DAGNY (softly and imploringly). Foster-sister, by any love thou hast ever borne me, stir not up strife!

    HIORDIS (laughing). Jests must pass at the feast-board if the merriment is to thrive.

    GUNNAR (who has been talking softly to THOROLF). Thou art a brave lad! (Hands him a sword which hangs beside the high-seat.) Here, Thorolf, here is a good gift for thee. Wield it well, and let us be friends.

    HIORDIS. Beware how thou givest away thy weapons, Gunnar; for men may say thou dost part with things thou canst not use!

    THOROLF (who has meanwhile examined the sword). Thanks for the gift, Gunnar; it shall never be drawn in an unworthy cause.

    HIORDIS. If thou wilt keep that promise, then do thou never lend the sword to thy brothers.

    GUNNAR. Hiordis!

    HIORDIS (continuing). Neither let it hang on thy father's wall; for there it would hang with base men's weapons.

    THOROLF. True enough, Hiordis--for there thy father's axe and shield have hung this many a year.

    HIORDIS (mastering herself). That Ornulf slew my father,--that deed is ever on thy tongue; but if report speak true, it was scarce so honourable a deed as thou deemest.

    THOROLF. Of what report dost thou speak?

    HIORDIS. I dare not name it, for it would make thee wroth.

    THOROLF. Then hold thy peace--I ask no better.

    (Turns from her.)

    HIORDIS. Nay, why should I not tell it? Is it true, Thorolf, that for three nights thy father sat in woman's weed, doing sorceries with the witch of Smalserhorn, ere he dared face Jokul in fight.

    (All rise; violent excitement among the guests.)


    THOROLF (bitterly exasperated). So base a lie has no man spoken of Ornulf of the Fiords! Thou thyself hast made it, for no one less venomous than thou could dream of such a thing. The blackest crime a man can do hast thou laid at my father's door. (Throwing the sword away.) There, Gunnar, take thy gift again; I can take nought from the house wherein my father is reviled.

    GUNNAR. Thorolf, hear me----!

    THOROLF. Let me go! But beware both thou and Hiordis; for my father has now in his power one whom ye hold dearest of all!

    HIORDIS (starting). Thy father has----!

    GUNNAR (with a cry). What sayst thou!

    SIGURD (vehemently). Where is Ornulf?

    THOROLF (with mocking laughter). Gone southward--with my brothers.

    GUNNAR. Southward!

    HIORDIS (shrieking). Gunnar! Ornulf has slain Egil, our son.

    GUNNAR. Slain!--Egil slain! Then woe to Ornulf and all his race! Thorolf, speak out;--is this true?

    SIGURD. Gunnar, Gunnar--hear me!

    GUNNAR. Speak out, if thou care for thy life!

    THOROLF. Thou canst not fright me! Wait till my father comes; he shall plant a mark of shame over against Gunnar's house! And meanwhile, Hiordis, do thou cheer thee with these words I heard to-day: "Ere eventide shall Gunnar and his wife be childless."

    (Goes out by the back.)

    GUNNAR (in the deepest pain). Slain--slain! My little Egil slain!

    HIORDIS (wildly). And thou--dost thou let him go? Let Egil, thy child, lie unavenged! Then wert thou the dastard of dastards----!

    GUNNAR (as if beside himself). A sword--an axe! It is the last message he shall bring!

    (Seizes an axe from the bystanders and rushes out.)

    SIGURD (about to follow). Gunnar, hold thy hand!

    HIORDIS (holding him back). Stay, stay! The men will part them; I know Gunnar!

    (A cry from the crowd, which has flocked together at the main door.)

    SIGURD AND DAGNY. What is it?

    A VOICE AMONG THE CROWD. Thorolf has fallen.

    SIGURD. Thorolf! Ha, let me go!

    DAGNY. My brother! Oh, my brother!

    (SIGURD is on the point of rushing out. At the same moment, the crowd parts, GUNNAR enters, and throws down the axe at the door.)

    GUNNAR. Now it is done. Egil is avenged!

    SIGURD. Well for thee if thy hand has not been too hasty.

    GUNNAR. Mayhap, mayhap; but Egil, Egil, my sweet boy!

    HIORDIS. Now must we arm us, and seek help among our friends; for Thorolf has many avengers.

    GUNNAR (gloomily). He will be his own worst avenger; he will haunt me night and day.

    HIORDIS. Thorolf got his reward. Kinsmen must suffer for kinsmen's deeds.

    GUNNAR. True, true; but this I know, my mind was lighter ere this befell.

    HIORDIS. This first night[1] is ever the worst;--Ornulf has sought his revenge by shameful wiles; he would not come against us in open strife; he feigned to be peacefully-minded; and then he falls upon our defenceless child! Ha, I saw more clearly than ye; well I deemed that Ornulf was evil-minded and false; I had good cause to egg thee on against him and all his faithless tribe!

    [1] Literally the "blood-night."

    GUNNAR (fiercely). That hadst thou! My vengeance is poor beside Ornulf's crime. He has lost Thorolf, but he has six sons left-- and I have none--none!

    A HOUSE-CARL (enters hastily from the back). Ornulf of the Fiords is at hand!

    GUNNAR. Ornulf!

    HIORDIS AND SEVERAL MEN. To arms! to arms!

    DAGNY (simultaneously). My father!

    SIGURD (as if seized by a foreboding). Ornulf----! Ah, Gunnar, Gunnar!

    GUNNAR (draws his sword). Up all my men! Vengeance for Egil's death!

    (ORNULF enters, with EGIL in his arms.)

    GUNNAR (with a shriek). Egil!

    ORNULF. Here I bring thee little Egil.

    ALL (one to another). Egil! Egil alive!

    GUNNAR (letting his sword fall). Woe is me! what have I done?

    DAGNY. Oh, Thorolf, my brother!

    SIGURD. I knew it! I knew it!

    ORNULF (setting EGIL down). There, Gunnar, hast thou thy pretty boy again.

    EGIL. Father! Old Ornulf would not do me ill, as thou saidst when I went away.

    ORNULF (to HIORDIS). Now have I atoned for thy father; now surely there may be peace between us.

    HIORDIS (with repressed emotion). Mayhap!

    GUNNAR (as if waking up). Is it a ghastly dream that maddens me! Thou--thou bringest Egil home!

    ORNULF. As thou seest; but in truth he has been near his death.

    GUNNAR. That I know.

    ORNULF. And hast no more joy in his return?

    GUNNAR. Had he come sooner, I had been glad indeed. But tell me all that has befallen!

    ORNULF. That is soon done. Kare the Peasant was plotting evil against you; with other caitiffs he fared southward after Egil.

    GUNNAR. Kare! (To himself.) Ha, now I understand Thorolf's words!

    ORNULF. His purpose came to my ears; I needs must thwart so black a deed. I would not give atonement for Jokul, and, had things so befallen, I had willingly slain thee, Gunnar, in single combat--yet I could not but protect thy child. With my sons, I hasted after Kare.

    SIGURD (softly). An accursed deed has here been done.

    ORNULF. When I came up with him, Egil's guards lay bound; thy son was already in thy foemen's hand, and they would not long have spared him. Hot was the fight! Seldom have I given and taken keener strokes; Kare and two men fled inland; the rest sleep safely, and will be hard to waken.

    GUNNAR (in eager suspense). But thou--thou, Ornulf----?

    ORNULF (gloomily). Six sons followed me into the fight.

    GUNNAR (breathlessly). But homewards----?

    ORNULF. None.

    GUNNAR (appalled). None! (Softly.) And Thorolf, Thorolf!

    (Deep emotion among the bystanders. HIORDIS shows signs of a violent mental struggle; DAGNY weeps silently by the high-seat on the right. SIGURD stands beside her, painfully agitated.)

    ORNULF (after a short pause). It is hard for a many-branching pine to be stripped in a single storm. But men die and men live;--I will drink to my sons' memory. (One of SIGURD'S men hands him a horn.) Hail to you where now ye ride, my bold sons! Close upon your heels shall the copper-gates not clang, for ye come to the hall with a great following. (Drinks, and hands back the horn.) And now home to Iceland! Ornulf has fought his last fight; the old tree has but one green branch left, and it must be shielded warily. Where is Thorolf?

    EGIL (to his father). Ay, show me Thorolf! Ornulf told me he would carve me a ship with many, many warriors on board.

    ORNULF. I praise all good wights that Thorolf came not with us; for if he too--nay, strong though I be, that had been too heavy for me to bear. But why comes he not? He was ever the first to meet his father; for both of us it seemed we could not live without each other a single day.

    GUNNAR. Ornulf, Ornulf!

    ORNULF (with growing uneasiness). Ye stand all silent, I mark it now. What ails you? Where is Thorolf?

    DAGNY. Sigurd, Sigurd--this will be the direst blow to him!

    GUNNAR (struggling with himself). Old man!--No---- ---- and yet, it cannot be hid----

    ORNULF (vehemently). My son! Where is he!

    GUNNAR. Thorolf is slain!

    ORNULF. Slain! Thorolf? Thorolf? Ha, thou liest!

    GUNNAR. I would give my warmest heart-blood to know him alive!

    HIORDIS (to ORNULF). Thorolf was himself to blame for what befell; with dark sayings he gave us to wit that thou hadst fallen upon Egil and slain him;--we had parted half in wrath, and thou hast ere now brought death among my kindred. And moreover--Thorolf bore himself at the feast like a wanton boy; he brooked not our jesting, and spoke many evil things. Not till then did Gunnar wax wroth; not till then did he raise his hand upon thy son; and well I wot that he had good and lawful ground for that deed.

    ORNULF (calmly). Well may we see that thou art a woman, for thou usest many words. To what end? If Thorolf is slain, then is his saga over.

    EGIL. If Thorolf is slain, I shall have no warriors.

    ORNULF. Nay, Egil--we have lost our warriors, but thou and I. (To HIORDIS.) Thy father sang:

    Jokul's kin for Jokul's slayer many a woe shall still be weaving.

    Well has thou wrought that his words should come true. (Pauses a moment, then turns to one of the men.) Where got he his death-wound?

    THE MAN. Right across his brow.

    ORNULF (pleased). Hm; that is an honourable spot; he did not turn his back. But fell he sideways, or in towards Gunnar's feet?

    THE MAN. Half sideways and half towards Gunnar.

    ORNULF. That bodes but half vengeance; well well,--we shall see!

    GUNNAR (approaching). Ornulf, I know well that all my goods were naught against thy loss; but crave of me what thou wilt----

    ORNULF (sternly interrupting him). Give me Thorolf's body, and let me go! Where lies he?

    (GUNNAR points silently to the back.)

    ORNULF (takes a step or two, but turns and says in a voice of thunder to SIGURD, DAGNY, and others who are preparing to follow him, sorrowing). Stay! Think ye Ornulf will be followed by a train of mourners, like a whimpering woman? Stay, I say!--I can bear my Thorolf alone. (With calm strength.) Sonless I go; but none shall say that he saw me bowed. (He goes slowly out.)

    HIORDIS (with forced laughter). Ay, let him go as he will; we shall scarce need many men to face him should he come with strife again! Now, Dagny--I wot it is the last time thy father shall sail from Iceland on such a quest!

    SIGURD (indignant). Oh, shame!

    DAGNY (likewise). And thou canst scoff at him--scoff at him, after all that has befallen?

    HIORDIS. A deed once done, 'tis wise to praise it. This morning I swore hate and vengeance against Ornulf;--the slaying of Jokul I might have forgotten--all, save that he cast shame upon my lot. He called me a leman; if it be so, it shames me not; for Gunnar is mightier now than thy father; he is greater and more famous than Sigurd, thine own husband!

    DAGNY (in wild indignation). There thou errest, Hiordis--and even now shall all men know that thou dwellest under a weakling's roof!

    SIGURD (vehemently). Dagny, beware!

    GUNNAR. A weakling!

    DAGNY. It shall no longer be hidden; I held my peace till thou didst scoff at my father and my dead brothers; I held my peace while Ornulf was here, lest he should learn that Thorolf fell by a dastard's hand. But now--praise Gunnar nevermore for that deed in Iceland; for Gunnar is a weakling! The sword that lay drawn between thee and the bear-slayer hangs at my husband's side--and the ring thou didst take from thy arm thou gavest to Sigurd. (Takes it off and holds if aloft.) Behold it!

    HIORDIS (wildly). Sigurd!

    THE CROWD. Sigurd! Sigurd did the deed!

    HIORDIS (quivering with agitation). He! he!--Gunnar, is this true?

    GUNNAR (with lofty calm). It is all true save only that I am a weakling; I am neither a weakling nor a coward.

    SIGURD (moved). That art thou not, Gunnar! That hast thou never been! (To the rest.) Away, my men! Away from here!

    DAGNY (at the door, to HIORDIS). Who is now the mightiest man at the board--my husband or thine?

    HIORDIS (to herself). Now have I but one thing left to do--but one deed to brood upon: Sigurd or I must die!
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