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    Act Third

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    Chapter 3
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    (The hall in GUNNAR'S house. It is day.)

    (HIORDIS sits on the bench in front of the smaller high-seat busy weaving a bow-string; on the table lie a bow and some arrows.)

    HIORDIS (pulling at the bow-string). It is tough and strong; (with a glance at the arrows) the shaft is both keen and well-weighted-- (lets her hands fall in her lap) but where is the hand that----! (Vehemently.) Befooled, befooled by him--by Sigurd! I must hate him more than others, that can I well mark; but ere many days have passed I will---- (Meditating.) Ay, but the arm, the arm that shall do the deed----?

    (GUNNAR enters, silent and thoughtful, from the back.)

    HIORDIS (after a short pause). How goes it with thee, my husband?

    GUNNAR. Ill, Hiordis; I cannot away with that deed of yesterday; it lies heavy on my heart.

    HIORDIS. Do as I do; get thee some work to busy thee.

    GUNNAR. Doubtless I must.

    (A pause; GUNNAR paces up and down the hall, notices what HIORDIS is doing, and approaches her.)

    GUNNAR. What dost thou there?

    HIORDIS (without looking up). I am weaving a bow-string; canst thou not see?

    GUNNAR. A bow-string--of thine own hair?

    HIORDIS (smiling). Great deeds are born with every hour in these times; yesterday thou didst slay my foster-brother, and I have woven this since day-break.

    GUNNAR. Hiordis, Hiordis!

    HIORDIS (looking up). What is amiss?

    GUNNAR. Where wast thou last night?

    HIORDIS. Last night?

    GUNNAR. Thou wast not in the sleeping-room.

    HIORDIS. Know'st thou that?

    GUNNAR. I could not sleep; I tossed in restless dreams of that-- that which befell Thorolf. I dreamt that he came---- No matter; I awakened. Then meseemed I heard a strange, fair song through all the house; I arose; I stole hither to the door; here I saw thee sitting by the log-fire--it burned blue and red--fixing arrow-heads, and singing sorceries over them.

    HIORDIS. The work was not wasted; for strong is the breast that must be pierced this day.

    GUNNAR. I understand thee well; thou wouldst have Sigurd slain.

    HIORDIS. Hm, mayhap.

    GUNNAR. Thou shalt never have thy will. I shall keep peace with Sigurd, howe'er thou goad me.

    HIORDIS (smiling). Dost think so?

    SIGURD. I know it!

    HIORDIS (hands him the bow-string). Tell me, Gunnar--canst loose this knot?

    GUNNAR (tries it). Nay it is too cunningly and firmly woven.

    HIORDIS (rising). The Norns[1] weave yet more cunningly; their web is still harder to unravel.

    [1] The "Nornir" were the Fates of northern mythology.

    GUNNAR. Dark are the ways of the Mighty Ones;--neither thou nor I know aught of them.

    HIORDIS. Yet one thing I know surely: that to both of us must Sigurd's life be baleful.

    (A pause; GUNNAR stands lost in thought.)

    HIORDIS (who has been silently watching him). Of what thinkest thou?

    GUNNAR. Of a dream I had of late. Methought I had done the deed thou cravest; Sigurd lay slain on the earth; thou didst stand beside him, and thy face was wondrous pale. Then said I: "Art thou glad, now that I have done thy will?" But thou didst laugh and answer: "Blither were I didst thou, Gunnar, lie there in Sigurd's stead."

    HIORDIS (with forced laughter). Ill must thou know me if such a senseless dream can make thee hold thy hand.

    GUNNAR. Hm!--Tell me, Hiordis, what thinkest thou of this hall?

    HIORDIS. To speak truly, Gunnar,--it sometimes seems to me to be straitened.

    GUNNAR. Ay, ay, so I have thought; we are one too many.

    HIORDIS. Two, mayhap.

    GUNNAR (who has not heard her last words). But that shall be remedied.

    HIORDIS (looks at him interrogatively). Remedied? Then thou art minded to----?

    GUNNAR. To fit out my warships and put to sea; I will win back the honour I have lost because thou wast dearer to me than all beside.

    HIORDIS (thoughtfully). Thou wilt put to sea? Ay, so it may be best for us both.

    GUNNAR. Even from the day we sailed from Iceland, I saw that it would go ill with us. Thy soul is strong and proud; there are times when I well nigh fear thee; yet, it is strange--chiefly for that do I hold thee so dear. Dread enwraps thee like a spell; methinks thou could'st lure me to the blackest deeds, and all would seem good to me that thou didst crave. (Shaking his head reflectively.) Unfathomable is the Norn's rede; Sigurd should have been thy husband.

    HIORDIS (vehemently). Sigurd!

    GUNNAR. Yes, Sigurd. Vengefulness and hatred blind thee, else would'st thou prize him better. Had I been like Sigurd, I could have made life bright for thee.

    HIORDIS (with strong but suppressed emotion). That--that deemest thou Sigurd could have done?

    GUNNAR. He is strong of soul, and proud as thou to boot.

    HIORDIS (violently). If that be so--(Collecting herself.) No matter, no matter! (With a wild outburst.) Gunnar, take Sigurd's life!

    GUNNAR. Never!

    HIORDIS. By fraud and falsehood thou mad'st me thy wife--that shall be forgotten! Five joyless years have I spent in this house-- all shall be forgotten from the day when Sigurd lives no more!

    GUNNAR. From my hand he need fear no harm. (Shrinks back involuntarily.) Hiordis, Hiordis, tempt me not!

    HIORDIS. Then must I find another avenger; Sigurd shall not live long to flout at me and thee! (Clenching her hands in convulsive rage.) With her--that simpleton--with her mayhap he is even now sitting alone, dallying, and laughing at us; speaking of the bitter wrong that was done me when in thy stead he bore me away; telling how he laughed over his guile as he stood in my dark bower, and I knew him not!

    GUNNAR. Nay, nay, he does not so!

    HIORDIS (firmly). Sigurd and Dagny must die! I cannot breathe till they are gone! (Comes close up to him, with sparkling eyes, and speaks passionately, but in a whisper.) Would'st thou help me with that, Gunnar, then should I live in love with thee; then should I clasp thee in such warm and wild embraces as thou hast never dreamt of!

    GUNNAR (wavering). Hiordis! Would'st thou----

    HIORDIS. Do the deed, Gunnar--and the heavy days shall be past. I will no longer quit the hall when thou comest, no longer speak harsh things and quench thy smile when thou art glad. I will clothe me in furs and costly silken robes. When thou goest to war, I will ride by thy side. At the feast I will sit by thee and fill thy horn, and drink to thee and sing fair songs to make glad thy heart!

    GUNNAR (almost overcome). Is it true? Thou wouldst----!

    HIORDIS. More than that, trust me, ten times more! Give me revenge! Revenge on Sigurd and Dagny, and I will---- (Stops as she sees the door open.) Dagny--comest thou here!

    DAGNY (from the back). Haste thee, Gunnar! Call thy men to arms!

    GUNNAR. To arms! Against whom?

    DAGNY. Kare the Peasant is coming, and many outlaws with him; he means thee no good; Sigurd has barred his way for the time; but who can tell----

    GUNNAR (moved). Sigurd has done this for me!

    DAGNY. Sigurd is ever thy faithful friend.

    GUNNAR. And we, Hiordis--we, who thought to----! It is as I say-- there is a spell in all thy speech; no deed but seemeth fair to me, when thou dost name it.

    DAGNY (astonished). What meanest thou?

    GUNNAR. Nothing, nothing! Thanks for thy tidings, Dagny; I go to gather my men together. (Turns towards the door, but stops and comes forward again.) Tell me--how goes it with Ornulf?

    DAGNY (bowing her head). Ask me not. Yesterday he bore Thorolf's body to the ships; now he is raising a grave-mound on the shore;-- there shall his son be laid.

    (GUNNAR says nothing and goes out by the back.)

    DAGNY. Until evening there is no danger. (Coming nearer.) Hiordis, I have another errand in thy house; it is to thee I come.

    HIORDIS. To me? After all that befell yesterday?

    DAGNY. Just because of that. Hiordis, foster-sister, do not hate me; forget the words that sorrow and evil spirits placed in my mouth; forgive me all the wrong I have done thee; for, trust me, I am tenfold more hapless than thou!

    HIORDIS. Hapless--thou! Sigurd's wife!

    DAGNY. It was my doing, all that befell--the stirring up of strife, and Thorolf's death, and all the scorn that fell upon Gunnar and thee. Mine is all the guilt! Woe upon me!--I have lived so happily; but after this day I shall never know joy again.

    HIORDIS (as if seized by a sudden thought). But before--in these five long years--all that time hast thou been happy?

    DAGNY. Canst thou doubt it?

    HIORDIS. Hm; yesterday I doubted it not; but----

    DAGNY. What meanest thou?

    HIORDIS. Nay, 'tis nought; let us speak of other matters.

    DAGNY. No truly. Hiordis, tell me----!

    HIORDIS. It will profit thee little; but since thou wilt have it so---- (With a malignant expression.) Canst thou remember once, over in Iceland--we had followed with Ornulf thy father to the Council, and we sat with our playmates in the Council Hall, as is the manner of women. Then came two strangers into the hall.

    DAGNY. Sigurd and Gunnar.

    HIORDIS. They greeted us in courteous fashion, and sat on the bench beside us; and there passed between us much merry talk. There were some who must needs know why these two vikings came thither, and if they were not minded to take them wives there in the island. Then said Sigurd: "It will be hard for me to find the woman that shall be to my mind." Ornulf laughed, and said there was no lack of high-born and well-dowered women in Iceland; but Sigurd answered: "The warrior needs a high-souled wife. She whom I choose must not rest content with a humble lot; no honour must seem to high for her to strive for; she must go with me gladly a-viking; war-weed must she wear; she must egg me on to strife, and never wink her eyes where sword-blades lighten; for if she be faint-hearted, scant honour will befall me." Is it not true, so Sigurd spake?

    DAGNY (hesitatingly). True, he did--but----

    HIORDIS. Such was she to be, the woman who could make life fair to him; and then--(with a scornful smile) then he chose thee!

    DAGNY (starting, as in pain). Ha, thou wouldst say that----?

    HIORDIS. Doubtless thou has proved thyself proud and high-souled; hast claimed honour of all, that Sigurd might be honoured in thee-- is it not so?

    DAGNY. Nay, Hiordis, but----

    HIORDIS. Thou hast egged him on to great deeds, followed him in war- weed, and joyed to be where the strife raged hottest--hast thou not?

    DAGNY (deeply moved). No, no!

    HIORDIS. Hast thou, then, been faint of heart, so that Sigurd has been put to shame?

    DAGNY (overpowered). Hiordis, Hiordis!

    HIORDIS (smiling scornfully). Yet thy lot has been a happy one all these years;--think'st thou that Sigurd can say the same?

    DAGNY. Torture me not. Woe is me! thou hast made me see myself too clearly.

    HIORDIS. A jesting word, and at once thou art in tears! Think no more of it. Look what I have done to-day. (Takes some arrows from the table.) Are they not keen and biting--feel! I know well how to sharpen arrows, do I not?

    DAGNY. And to use them too; thou strikest surely, Hiordis! All that thou hast said to me--I have never thought of before. (More vehemently.) But that Sigurd----! That for all these years I should have made his life heavy and unhonoured;--no, no, it cannot be true!

    HIORDIS. Nay now, comfort thee, Dagny; indeed it is not true. Were Sigurd of the same mind as in former days, it might be true enough; for then was his whole soul bent on being the foremost man in the land;--now he is content with a lowlier lot.

    DAGNY. No, Hiordis; Sigurd is high-minded now as ever; I see it well, I am not the right mate for him. He has hidden it from me; but it shall be so no longer.

    HIORDIS. What wilt thou do?

    DAGNY. I will no longer hang like a clog upon his feet; I will be a hindrance to him no longer.

    HIORDIS. Then thou wilt----?

    DAGNY. Peace; some one comes!

    (A House-carl enters from the back.)

    THE CARL. Sigurd Viking is coming to the hall.

    HIORDIS. Sigurd! Then call Gunnar hither.

    THE CARL. Gunnar has ridden forth to gather his neighbours together; for Kare the Peasant would----

    HIORDIS. Good, good, I know it; go! (The Carl goes. To DAGNY, who is also going.) Whither wilt thou?

    DAGNY. I will not meet Sigurd. Too well I feel that we must part; but to meet him now--no, no, I cannot!

    (Goes out to the left.)

    HIORDIS (looks after her in silence for a moment). And it was she I would have---- (completes her thought by a glance at the bow-string). That would have been a poor revenge;--nay, I have cut deeper now! Hm; it is hard to die, but sometimes it is harder still to live!

    (SIGURD enters from the back.)

    HIORDIS. Doubtless thou seekest Gunnar; be seated, he will be here even now.

    (Is going.)

    SIGURD. Nay, stay; it is thee I seek, rather than him.

    HIORDIS. Me?

    SIGURD. And 'tis well I find thee alone.

    HIORDIS. If thou comest to mock me, it would sure be no hindrance to thee though the hall were full of men and women.

    SIGURD. Ay, ay, well I know what thoughts thou hast of me.

    HIORDIS (bitterly). I do thee wrong mayhap! Nay, nay, Sigurd, thou hast been as a poison to all my days. Bethink thee who it was that wrought that shameful guile; who it was that lay by my side in the bower, feigning love with the laugh of cunning in his heart; who it was that flung me forth to Gunnar, since for him I was good enough, forsooth--and then sailed away with the woman he held dear!

    SIGURD. Man's will can do this and that; but fate rules in the deeds that shape our lives--so has it gone with us twain.

    HIORDIS. True enough; evil Norns hold sway over the world; but their might is little if they find not helpers in our own heart. Happy is he who has strength to battle with the Norn--and it is that I have now in hand.

    SIGURD. What mean'st thou?

    HIORDIS. I will essay a trial of strength against those--those who are over me. But let us not talk more of this; I have much to do to- day. (She seats herself at the table.)

    SIGURD (after a pause). Thou makest good weapons for Gunnar.

    HIORDIS (with a quiet smile). Not for Gunnar, but against thee.

    SIGURD. Most like it is the same thing.

    HIORDIS. Ay, most like it is; for if I be a match for the Norn, then sooner or later shalt thou and Gunnar---- (breaks off, leans backwards against the table, and says with an altered ring in her voice:) Hm; knowest thou what I sometimes dream? I have often made it my pastime to limn pleasant pictures in my mind; I sit and close my eyes and think: Now comes Sigurd the Strong to the isle;--he will burn us in our house, me and my husband. All Gunnar's men have fallen; only he and I are left; they set light to the roof from without:--"A bow-shot," cries Gunnar, "one bow-shot may save us;"-- then the bow-string breaks--"Hiordis, cut a tress of thy hair and make a bow-string of it,--our life is at stake." But then I laugh-- "Let it burn, let it burn--to me, life is not worth a handful of hair!"

    SIGURD. There is a strange might in all thy speech. (Approaches her.)

    HIORDIS (looks coldly at him). Wouldst sit beside me?

    SIGURD. Thou deemest my heart is bitter towards thee. Hiordis, this is the last time we shall have speech together; there is something that gnaws me like a sore sickness, and thus I cannot part from thee; thou must know me better.

    HIORDIS. What wouldst thou?

    SIGURD. Tell thee a saga.

    HIORDIS. Is it sad?

    SIGURD. Sad, as life itself.

    HIORDIS (bitterly). What knowest thou of the sadness of life?

    SIGURD. Judge when my saga is over.

    HIORDIS. Then tell it me; I shall work the while.

    (He sits on a low stool to her right.)

    SIGURD. Once upon a time there were two young vikings, who set forth from Norway to win wealth and honour; they had sworn each other friendship; and held truly together, how far soever thy might fare.

    HIORDIS. And the two young vikings hight Sigurd and Gunnar?

    SIGURD. Ay, we may call them so. At last they came to Iceland; and there dwelt an old chieftain, who had come forth from Norway in King Harald's days. He had two fair women in his house; but one, his foster-daughter, was the noblest, for she was wise and strong of soul; and the vikings spoke of her between themselves, and never had they seen a fairer woman, so deemed they both.

    HIORDIS (in suspense). Both? Wilt thou mock me?

    SIGURD. Gunnar thought of her night and day, and that did Sigurd no less; but both held their peace, and no man could say from her bearing whether Gunnar found favour in her eyes; but that Sigurd misliked her, that was easy to discern.

    HIORDIS (breathlessly). Go on, go on----!

    SIGURD. Yet ever the more must Sigurd dream of her; but of that wist no man. Now it befell one evening that there was a drinking-feast; and then swore that proud woman that no man should possess her save he who wrought a mighty deed, which she named. High beat Sigurd's heart for joy; for he felt within him the strength to do that deed; but Gunnar took him apart and told him of his love;--Sigurd said naught of his, but went to the----

    HIORDIS (vehemently). Sigurd, Sigurd! (Controlling herself.) And this saga--is it true?

    SIGURD. True it is. One of us had to yield; Gunnar was my friend; I could do aught else. So thou becamest Gunnar's wife, and I wedded another woman.

    HIORDIS. And came to love her!

    SIGURD. I learned to prize her; but one woman only has Sigurd loved, and that is she who frowned upon him from the first day they met. Here ends my saga; and now let us part.--Farewell, Gunnar's wife; never shall we meet again.

    HIORDIS (springing up). Stay, stay! Woe to us both; Sigurd, what hast thou done?

    SIGURD (starting). I, done? What ails thee?

    HIORDIS. And all this dost thou tell me now! But no--it cannot be true!

    SIGURD. These are my last words to thee, and every word is true. I would not thou shouldst think hardly of me, therefore I needs must speak.

    HIORDIS (involuntarily clasps her hands together and gazes at him in voiceless astonishment). Loved--loved me--thou! (Vehemently, coming close up to him.) I will not believe thee! (Looks hard at him.) Yes, it is true, and--baleful for us both!

    (Hides her face in her hands, and turns away from him.)

    SIGURD (terror-stricken). Hiordis!

    HIORDIS (softly, struggling with tears and laughter). Nay, heed me not! This was all I meant, that---- (Lays her hand on his arm.) Sigurd, thou hast not told thy saga to the end; that proud woman thou didst tell of--she returned thy love!

    SIGURD (starts backwards). Thou?

    HIORDIS (with composure). Yes, Sigurd, I have loved thee, at last I understand it. Thou sayest I was ungentle and short of speech towards thee; what wouldst thou have a woman do? I could not offer thee my love, for then had I been little worthy of thee. I deemed thee ever the noblest man of men; and then to know thee another's husband--'twas that caused me the bitter pain, that myself I could not understand!

    SIGURD (much moved). A baleful web has the Norn woven around us twain.

    HIORDIS. The blame is thine own; bravely and firmly it becomes a man to act. When I set that hard proof for him who should win me, my thought was of thee;--yet could'st thou----!

    SIGURD. I knew Gunnar's soul-sickness; I alone could heal it;--was there aught for me to choose? And yet, had I known what I now know, I scarce dare answer for myself; for great is the might of love.

    HIORDIS (with animation). But now, Sigurd!--A baleful hap has held us apart all these years; now the knot is loosed; the days to come shall make good the past to us.

    SIGURD (shaking his head). It cannot be; we must part again.

    HIORDIS. Nay, we must not. I love thee, that may I now say unashamed; for my love is no mere dalliance, like a weak woman's; were I a man-- by all the Mighty Ones, I could still love thee, even as now I do! Up then, Sigurd! Happiness is worth a daring deed; we are both free if we but will it, and then the game is won.

    SIGURD. Free? What meanest thou?

    HIORDIS. What is Dagny to thee? What can she be to thee? No more than I count Gunnar in my secret heart. What matters it though two worthless lives be wrecked?

    SIGURD. Hiordis, Hiordis!

    HIORDIS. Let Gunnar stay where he is; let Dagny fare with her father to Iceland; I will follow thee in harness of steel, withersoever thou wendest. (SIGURD makes a movement.) Not as thy wife will I follow thee; for I have belonged to another, and the woman lives that has lain by thy side. No, Sigurd, not as they wife, but like those mighty women, like Hilde's sisters,[1] will I follow thee, and fire thee to strife and to manly deeds, so that thy name shall be heard over every land. In the sword-game will I stand by thy side; I will fare forth among thy warriors on the stormy viking-raids; and when the death- song is sung, it shall tell of Sigurd and Hiordis in one!

    [1] The Valkyries.

    SIGURD. Once was that my fairest dream; now, it is too late. Gunnar and Dagny stand between us, and that by right. I crushed my love for Gunnar's sake;--how great soever my suffering, I cannot undo my deed. And Dagny--full of faith and trust she left her home and kindred; never must she dream that I longed for Hiordis as often as she took me to her breast.

    HIORDIS. And for such a cause wilt thou lay a burden on thy life! To what end hast thou strength and might, and therewith all noble gifts of the mind? And deemest thou it can now beseem me to dwell beneath Gunnar's roof? Nay, Sigurd, trust me, there are many tasks awaiting such a man as thou. Erik is king of Norway--do thou rise against him! Many goodly warriors will join thee and swear thee fealty; with unconquerable might will we press onward, and fight and toil unresting until thou art seated on the throne of Harfager!

    SIGURD. Hiordis, Hiordis, so have I dreamt in my wild youth; let it be forgotten--tempt me not!

    HIORDIS (impressively). It is the Norn's will that we two shall hold together; it cannot be altered. Plainly now I see my task in life: to make thee famous over all the world. Thou hast stood before me every day, every hour of my life; I sought to tear thee out of my mind, but I lacked the might; now it is needless, now that I know thou lovest me.

    SIGURD (with forced coldness). If that be so--then know--I have loved thee; it is past now;--I have forgot those days.

    HIORDIS. Sigurd, in that thou liest! So much at least am I worth, that if thou hast loved me once, thou canst never forget it.

    SIGURD (vehemently). I must; and now I will.

    HIORDIS. So be it; but thou canst not. Thou wilt seek to hinder me, but in vain; ere evening falls, Gunnar and Dagny shall know all.

    SIGURD. Ha, that wilt thou never do!

    HIORDIS. That will I do!

    SIGURD. Then must I know thee ill; high-souled have I ever deemed thee.

    HIORDIS. Evil days breed evil thoughts; too great has been thy trust in me. I will, I must, go forth by thy side--forth to face life and strife; Gunnar's roof-tree is too low for me.

    SIGURD (with emphasis). But honour between man and man hast thou highly prized. There lack not grounds for strife between me and Gunnar; say, now, that he fell by my hand, wouldst thou still make all known and follow me?

    HIORDIS (starting). Wherefore askest thou?

    SIGURD. Answer me first: what wouldst thou do, were I to thy husband his bane.

    HIORDIS (looks hard at him). Then must I keep silence and never rest until I had seen thee slain.

    SIGURD (with a smile). It is well, Hiordis--I knew it.

    HIORDIS (hastily). But it can never come to pass!

    SIGURD. It must come to pass; thou thyself hast cast the die for Gunnar's life and mine.

    (GUNNAR, with some House-carls, enters from the back.)

    GUNNAR (gloomily, to HIORDIS). See now; the seed thou hast sown is shooting bravely!

    SIGURD (approaching). What is amiss with thee?

    GUNNAR. Sigurd, is it thou? What is amiss? Nought but what I might well have foreseen. As soon as Dagny, thy wife, had brought tidings of Kare the Peasant, I took horse and rode to my neighbours to crave help against him.

    HIORDIS (eagerly). Well?

    GUNNAR. I was answered awry where'er I came: my dealings with Kare had been little to my honour, it was said;--hm, other things were said to boot, that I will not utter.--I am spurned at by all; I am thought to have done a dastard deed; men hold it a shame to make common cause with me.

    SIGURD. It shall not long be held a shame; ere evening comes, thou shalt have men enough to face Kare.

    GUNNAR. Sigurd!

    HIORDIS (in a low voice, triumphantly). Ha, I knew it well!

    SIGURD (with forced resolution). But then is there an end to the peace between us; for hearken to my words, Gunnar--thou hast slain Thorolf, my wife's kinsman, and therefore do I challenge thee to single combat[1] to-morrow at break of day.

    [1] Holmgang--see note, p. 138 [Holmgang=duel.]

    (HIORDIS, in violent inward emotion, makes a stride towards SIGURD, but collects herself and remains standing motionless during the following.)

    GUNNAR (in extreme astonishment). To single combat----! Me!--Thou art jesting, Sigurd!

    SIGURD. Thou art lawfully challenged to single combat; 'twill be a game for life or death; one of us must fall!

    GUNNAR (bitterly). Ha, I understand it well. When I came, thou didst talk with Hiordis alone; she has goaded thee afresh!

    SIGURD. May hap. (Half towards HIORDIS.) A high-souled woman must ever guard her husband's honour. (To the men in the background.) And do ye, house-carls, now go to Gunnar's neighbours, and say to them that to-morrow he is to ply sword-strokes with me; none dare call that man a dastard who bears arms against Sigurd Viking!

    (The House-carls go out by the back.)

    GUNNAR (goes quickly up to SIGURD and presses his hands, in strong emotion). Sigurd, my brave brother, now I understand thee! Thou venturest thy life for my honour, as of old for my happiness!

    SIGURD. Thank thy wife; she has the largest part in what I do. To- morrow at break of day----

    GUNNAR. I will meet thee. (Tenderly.) Foster-brother, wilt thou have a good blade of me? It is a gift of price.

    SIGURD. I thank thee; but let it hang.--Who knows if next evening I may have any use for it.

    GUNNAR (shakes his hand). Farewell, Sigurd!

    SIGURD. Again farewell, and fortune befriend thee this night!

    (They part. GUNNAR goes out to the right. SIGURD casts a glance at HIORDIS, and goes out by the back.)

    HIORDIS (after a pause, softly and thoughtfully). To-morrow they fight! Which will fall? (After a moment's silence, she bursts forth as if seized by a strong resolution.) Let fall who will--Sigurd and I shall still be together!
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