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Plays: The Father; Countess Julie; The Outlaw; The Stronger by August Strindberg

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JULIE. But I am born of a count, that you can never be.

JEAN. That is true, but I can be the father of counts--if--

JULIE. But you are a thief--that I am not.

JEAN. There are worse things than that, and for that matter when I
serve in a house I regard myself as a member of the family, a child
of the house as it were. And one doesn't consider it theft if
children snoop a berry from full bushes. [With renewed passion].
Miss Julie, you are a glorious woman--too good for such as I. You
have been the victim of an infatuation and you want to disguise
this fault by fancying that you love me. But you do not--unless
perhaps my outer self attracts you. And then your love is no better
than mine. But I cannot be satisfied with that, and your real love
I can never awaken.

JULIE. Are you sure of that?

JEAN. You mean that we could get along with such an arrangement?
There's no doubt about my loving you--you are beautiful, you are
elegant--[Goes to her and takes her hand] accomplished, lovable
when you wish to be, and the flame that you awaken in man does not
die easily. [Puts arm around her.] You are like hot wine with
strong spices, and your lips--

[Tries to kiss her. Julie pulls herself away slowly.]

JULIE. Leave me--I'm not to be won this way.

JEAN. How then? Not with caresses and beautiful words? Not by
thoughts for the future, to save humiliation? How then?

JULIE. How? I don't know. I don't know! I shrink from you as I
would from a rat. But I cannot escape from you.

JEAN. Escape with me.

JULIE. Escape? Yes, we must escape.--But I'm so tired. Give me a
glass of wine. [Jean fills a glass with wine, Julie looks at her
watch.] We must talk it over first for we have still a little time

[She empties the glass and puts it out for more.]

JEAN. Don't drink too much. It will go to your head.

JULIE. What harm will that do?

JEAN. What harm? It's foolish to get intoxicated. But what did you
want to say?

JULIE. We must go away, but we must talk first. That is, I must
speak, for until now you have done all the talking. You have told
me about your life--now I will tell you about mine, then we will
know each other through and through before we start on our
wandering together.

JEAN. One moment, pardon. Think well whether you won't regret
having told your life's secrets.

JULIE. Aren't you my friend?

JEAN. Yes. Sometimes. But don't depend on me.

JULIE. You only say that. And for that matter I have no secrets.
You see, my mother was not of noble birth. She was brought up with
ideas of equality, woman's freedom and all that. She had very
decided opinions against matrimony, and when my father courted her
she declared that she would never be his wife--but she did so for
all that. I came into the world against my mother's wishes, I
discovered, and was brought up like a child of nature by my mother,
and taught everything that a boy must know as well; I was to be an
example of a woman being as good as a man--I was made to go about
in boy's clothes and take care of the horses and harness and saddle
and hunt, and all such things; in fact, all over the estate women
servants were taught to do men's work, with the result that the
property came near being ruined--and so we became the laughing
stock of the countryside. At last my father must have awakened from
his bewitched condition, for he revolted, and ran things according
to his ideas. My mother became ill--what it was I don't know, but
she often had cramps and acted queerly--sometimes hiding in the
attic or the orchard, and would even be gone all night at times.
Then came the big fire which of course you have heard about. The
house, the stables--everything was burned, under circumstances that
pointed strongly to an incendiary, for the misfortune happened the
day after the quarterly insurance was due and the premiums sent in
by father were strangely delayed by his messenger so that they
arrived too late. [She fills a wine glass and drinks.]

JEAN. Don't drink any more.

JULIE. Oh, what does it matter? My father was utterly at a loss to
know where to get money to rebuild with. Then my mother suggested
that he try to borrow from a man who had been her friend in her
youth--a brick manufacturer here in the neighborhood. My father
made the loan, but wasn't allowed to pay any interest, which
suprised him. Then the house was rebuilt. [Julie drinks again.] Do
you know who burned the house?

JEAN. Her ladyship, your mother?

JULIE. Do you know who the brick manufacturer was?

JEAN. Your mother's lover?

JULIE. Do you know whose money it was?

JEAN. Just a moment, that I don't know.

JULIE. It was my mother's.

JEAN. The Count's--that is to say, unless there was a contract.

JULIE. There was no contract. My mother had some money which she
had not wished to have in my father's keeping and therefore, she
had entrusted it to her friend's care.

JEAN. Who kept it.

JULIE. Quite right--he held on to it. All this came to my father's
knowledge. He couldn't proceed against him, wasn't allowed to pay
his wife's friend, and couldn't prove that it was his wife's money.
That was my mother's revenge for his taking the reins of the
establishment into his own hands. At that time he was ready to
shoot himself. Gossip had it that he had tried and failed. Well, he
lived it down--and my mother paid full penalty for her misdeed.
Those were five terrible years for me, as you can fancy. I
sympathized with my father, but I took my mother's part, for I
didn't know the true circumstances. Through her I learned to
distrust and hate men, and I swore to her never to be a man's

JEAN. But you became engaged to the Lieutenant Governor.

JULIE. Just to make him my slave.

JEAN. But that he didn't care to be.

JULIE. He wanted to be, fast enough, but I grew tired of him.

JEAN. Yes--I noticed that--in the stable-yard!

JULIE. What do you mean?

JEAN. I saw how he broke the engagement.

JULIE. That's a lie. It was I who broke it. Did he say he broke it--
the wretch!

JEAN. I don't believe that he was a wretch. You hate men, Miss

JULIE. Most of them. Sometimes one is weak--

JEAN. You hate me?

JULIE. Excessively. I could see you shot--

JEAN. Like a mad dog?

JULIE. Exactly!

JEAN. But there is nothing here to shoot with. What shall we do

JULIE [Rousing herself].We must get away from here--travel.

JEAN. And torture each other to death?

JULIE. No--to enjoy, a few days, a week--as long as we can. And
then to die.

JEAN. Die! How silly. I think it's better to start the hotel.

JULIE [Not heeding him]. By the Lake of Como where the sun is
always shining, where the laurel is green at Christmas and the
oranges glow.

JEAN. The Lake of Como is it rain hole, I never saw any oranges
there except on fruit stands. But it's a good resort, and there are
many villas to rent to loving couples. That's a very paying
industry. You know why? They take leases for half a year at least,
but they usually leave in three weeks.

JULIE [Naively]. Why after three weeks?

JEAN. Why? They quarrel of course, but the rent must be paid all
the same. Then you re-let, and so one after another they come and
go, for there is plenty of love, although it doesn't last long.

JULIE. Then you don't want to die with me?

JEAN. I don't want to die at all, both because I enjoy living and
because I regard suicide as a crime to Him who has given us life.

JULIE. Then you believe in God?

JEAN. Yes. Of course I do, and I go to church every other Sunday--
But I'm tired of all this and I'm going to bed.

JULIE. Do you think I would allow myself to be satisfied with such
an ending? Do you know what a man owes to a woman he hits-- --

JEAN [Takes out a silver coin and throws it on the table]. Allow
me, I don't want to owe anything to anyone.

JULIE [Pretending not to notice the insult]. Do you know what the
law demands?

JEAN. I know that the law demands nothing of a woman who seduces a

JULIE [Again not heeding him]. Do you see any way out of it but to
travel?--wed--and separate?

JEAN. And if I protest against this misalliance?

JULIE. Misalliance!

JEAN. Yes, for me. For you see I have a finer ancestry than you,
for I have no fire-bug in my family.

JULIE. How do you know?

JEAN. You can't prove the contrary. We have no family record except
that which the police keep. But your pedigree I have read in a book
on the drawing room table. Do you know who the founder of your
family was? It was a miller whose wife found favor with the king
during the Danish War. Such ancestry I have not.

JULIE. This is my reward for opening my heart to anyone so
unworthy, with whom I have talked about my family honor.

JEAN. Dishonor--yes, I said it. I told you not to drink because
then one talks too freely and one should never talk.

JULIE. Oh, how I repent all this. If at least you loved me!

JEAN. For the last time--what do you mean? Shall I weep, shall I
jump over your riding whip, shall I kiss you, lure you to Lake Como
for three weeks, and then--what do you want anyway? This is getting
tiresome. But that's the way it always is when you get mixed up in
women's affairs. Miss Julie, I see that you are unhappy, I know
that you suffer, but I can't understand you. Among my kind there is
no nonsense of this sort; we love as we play when work gives us
time. We haven't the whole day and night for it like you.

JULIE. You must be good to me and speak to me as though I were a
human being.

JEAN. Be one yourself. You spit on me and expect me to stand it.

JULIE. Help me, help me. Only tell me what to do--show me a way out
of this!

JEAN. In heaven's name, if I only knew myself.

JULIE. I have been raving, I have been mad, but is there no means
of deliverance?

JEAN. Stay here at home and say nothing. No one knows.

JULIE. Impossible. These people know it, and Kristin.

JEAN. They don't know it and could never suspect such a thing.

JULIE [Hesitating]. But--it might happen again.

JEAN. That is true.

JULIE. And the consequences?

JEAN [Frightened]. Consequences--where were my wits not to have
thought of that! There is only one thing to do. Get away from here
immediately. I can't go with you or they will suspect. You must go
alone--away from here--anywhere.

JULIE. Alone? Where? I cannot.

JEAN. You must--and before the Count returns. If you stay, we know
how it will be. If one has taken a false step it's likely to happen
again as the harm has already been done, and one grows more and
more daring until at last all is discovered. Write the Count
afterward and confess all--except that it was I. That he could
never guess, and I don't think he'll be so anxious to know who it
was, anyway.

JULIE. I will go if you'll go with me.

JEAN. Are you raving again? Miss Julie running away with her
coachman? All the papers would be full of it and that the Count
could never live through.

JULIE. I can't go--I can't stay. Help me, I'm so tired--so weary.
Command me, set me in motion--I can't think any more,--can't act--

JEAN. See now, what creatures you aristocrats are! Why do you
bristle up and stick up your noses as though you were the lords of
creation. Very well--I will command you! Go up and dress yourself
and see to it that you have travelling money and then come down.
[She hesitates.] Go immediately.

[She still hesitates. He takes her hand and leads her to door.]

JULIE. Speak gently to me, Jean.

JEAN. A command always sounds harsh. Feel it yourself now.

[Exit Julie.]

[Jean draws a sigh of relief, seats himself by the table, takes out
a notebook and pencil and counts aloud now and then until, Kristin
comes in, dressed for church.]

KRISTIN. My heavens, how it looks here. What's been going on?

JEAN. Oh, Miss Julie dragged in the people. Have you been sleeping
so soundly that you didn't hear anything?

KRISTIN. I've slept like a log.

JEAN. And already dressed for church!

KRISTIN. Ye-es, [Sleepily] didn't you promise to go to early
service with me?

JEAN. Yes, quite so, and there you have my stock and front. All

[He seats himself. Kristin putting on his stock.]

JEAN [Sleepily]. What is the text today?

KRISTIN. St. John's Day! It is of course about the beheading of
John the Baptist.

JEAN. I'm afraid it will be terribly long drawn out--that. Hey,
you're choking me. I'm so sleepy, so sleepy.

KRISTIN. What have you been doing up all night? You are actually
green in the face.

JEAN. I have been sitting here talking to Miss Julie.

KRISTIN. Oh you don't know your place.


JEAN. Listen, Kristin.


JEAN. It's queer about her when you think it over.

KRISTIN. What is queer?

JEAN. The whole thing.

[Pause. Kristin looks at half empty glasses on table.]

KRISTIN. Have you been drinking together, too?

JEAN. Yes!

KRISTIN. For shame. Look me in the eye.

JEAN. Yes.

KRISTIN. Is it possible? Is it possible?

JEAN [After reflecting]. Yes, it is.

KRISTIN. Ugh! That I would never have believed. For shame, for

JEAN. You are not jealous of her?

KRISTIN. No, not of her. But if it had been Clara or Sophie--then I
would have scratched your eyes out. So that is what has happened--
how I can't understand! No, that wasn't very nice!

JEAN. Are you mad at her?

KRISTIN. No, but with you. That was bad of you, very bad. Poor
girl. Do you know what--I don't want to be here in this house any
longer where one cannot respect one's betters.

JEAN. Why should one respect them?

KRISTIN. Yes, you can say that, you are so smart. But I don't want
to serve people who behave so. It reflects on oneself, I think.

JEAN. Yes, but it's a comfort that they're not a bit better than

KRISTIN. No, I don't, think so, for if they are not better there's
no use in our trying to better ourselves in this world. And to
think of the Count! Think of him who has had so much sorrow all his
days? No, I don't want to stay in this house any longer! And to
think of it being with such as you! If it had been the Lieutenant--

JEAN. What's that?

KRISTIN. Yes! He was good enough, to be sure, but there's a
difference between people just the same. No, this I can never
forget. Miss Julie who was always so proud and indifferent to men!
One never would believe that she would give herself--and to one
like you! She who was ready to have Diana shot because she would
run after the gatekeeper's mongrels. Yes, I say it--and here I
won't stay any longer and on the twenty-fourth of October I go my

JEAN. And then?

KRISTIN. Well, as we've come to talk about it, it's high time you
looked around for something else, since we're going to get married.

JEAN. Well, what'll I look for? A married man couldn't get a place
like this.

KRISTIN. No, of course not. But you could take a gatekeeper's job
or look for it watchman's place in some factory. The government's
plums are few, but they are sure. And then the wife and children
get a pension--

JEAN [With a grimace]. That's all very fine--all that, but it's not
exactly in my line to think about dying for my wife and children
just now. I must confess that I have slightly different aspirations.

KRISTIN. Aspirations? Aspirations--anyway you have obligations.
Think of those, you.

JEAN. Don't irritate me with talk about my obligations. I know my
own business. [He listens.] We'll have plenty of time for all this
some other day. Go and get ready and we'll be off to church.

KRISTIN [Listening]. Who's that walking upstairs?

JEAN. I don't know--unless it's Clara.

KRISTIN [Starting to go]. It could never be the Count who has come
home without anyone hearing him?

JEAN [Frightened]. The Count! I can't believe that. He would have
rung the bell.

KRISTIN. God help us! Never have I been mixed up in anything like

[Exit Kristin. The sun has risen and lights up the scene. Presently
the sunshine comes in through windows at an angle. Jean goes to
door and motions. Enter Julie, dressed for travelling, carrying a
small bird cage covered with a cloth, which she places on a chair.]

JULIE. I am ready!

JEAN. Hush, Kristin is stirring!

[Julie frightened and nervous throughout following scene.]

JULIE. Does she suspect anything?

JEAN. She knows nothing. But, good heavens, how you look!


JEAN. You are pale as a ghost.

JULIE [Sighs]. Am I? Oh, the sun is rising, the sun!

JEAN. And now the troll's spell is broken.

JULIE. The trolls have indeed been at work this night. But, Jean,
listen--come with me, I have money enough.

JEAN. Plenty?

JULIE. Enough to start with. Go with me for I can't go alone--
today, midsummer day. Think of the stuffy train, packed in with the
crowds of people staring at one; the long stops at the stations
when one would be speeding away. No, I cannot, I cannot! And then
the memories, childhood's memories of midsummer day--the church
decorated with birch branches and syringa blossoms; the festive
dinner table with relations and friends, afternoon in the park,
music, dancing, flowers and games--oh, one may fly, fly, but
anguish and remorse follow in the pack wagon.

JEAN. I'll go with you--if we leave instantly--before it's too

JULIE. Go and dress then. [She takes up bird cage.]

JEAN. But no baggage! That would betray us.

JULIE. Nothing but what we can take in the coupe.

[Jean has picked up his hat.]

JEAN. What have you there?

JULIE. It's only my canary. I cannot, will not, leave it behind.

JEAN. So we are to lug a bird cage with us. Are you crazy? Let go
of it.

JULIE. It is all I take from home. The only living creature that
cares for me. Don't be hard--let me take it with me.

JEAN. Let go the cage and don't talk so loud. Kristin will hear us.

JULIE. No, I will not leave it to strange hands. I would rather see
it dead.

JEAN. Give me the creature. I'll fix it.

JULIE. Yes, but don't hurt it. Don't--no, I cannot.

JEAN. Let go. I can.

JULIE [Takes the canary from cage]. Oh, my little siren. Must your
mistress part with you?

JEAN. Be so good as not to make a scene. Your welfare, your life,
is at stake. So--quickly. [Snatches bird from her and goes to
chopping block and takes up meat chopper]. You should have learned
how to chop off a chicken's head instead of shooting with a
revolver. [He chops off the bird's head]. Then you wouldn't swoon
at a drop of blood.

JULIE [Shrieks]. Kill me, too. Kill me! You who can butcher an
innocent bird without a tremble. Oh, how I shrink from you. I curse
the moment I first saw you. I curse the moment I was conceived in
my mother's womb.

JEAN. Come now! What good is your cursing, let's be off.

JULIE [Looks toward chopping block as though obsessed by thought of
the slain bird]. No, I cannot. I must see-- --hush, a carriage is
passing. Don't you think I can stand the sight of blood? You think
I am weak. Oh, I should like to see your blood flowing--to see your
brain on the chopping block, all your sex swimming in a sea of
blood. I believe I could drink out of your skull, bathe my feet in
your breast and eat your heart cooked whole. You think I am weak;
you believe that I love you because my life has mingled with yours;
you think that I would carry your offspring under my heart, and
nourish it with my blood--give birth to your child and take your
name! Hear, you, what are you called, what is your family name? But
I'm sure you have none. I should be "Mrs. Gate-Keeper," perhaps, or
"Madame Dumpheap." You dog with my collar on, you lackey with my
father's hallmark on your buttons. I play rival to my cook--oh--oh--
oh! You believe that I am cowardly and want to run away. No, now I
shall stay. The thunder may roll. My father will return--and find
his desk broken into--his money gone! Then he will ring--that bell.
A scuffle with his servant--then sends for the police--and then I
tell all--everything! Oh, it will be beautiful to have it all over
with--if only that were the end! And my father--he'll have a shock
and die, and then that will be the end. Then they will place his
swords across the coffin--and the Count's line is extinct. The
serf's line will continue in an orphanage, win honors in the gutter
and end in prison.

JEAN. Now it is the king's blood talking. Splendid, Miss Julie!
Only keep the miller in his sack.

[Enter Kristin with prayer-book in hand.]

JULIE [Hastening to Kristin and falls in her arms as though seeking
protection]. Help me, Kristin, help me against this man.

KRISTIN [Cold and unmoved]. What kind of performance is this for a
holy day morning? What does this mean--this noise and fuss?

JULIE. Kristin, you are a woman,--and my friend. Beware of this

JEAN [A little embarrassed and surprised]. While the ladies are
arguing I'll go and shave myself.

[Jean goes, R.]

JULIE. You must understand me--you must listen to me.

KRISTIN. No--I can't understand all this bosh. Where may you be
going in your traveling dress?--and he had his hat on! Hey?

JULIE. Listen to me, Kristin, listen to me and I'll tell you

KRISTIN. I don't want to know anything--

JULIE. You must listen to me--

KRISTIN. What about? Is it that foolishness with Jean? That doesn't
concern me at all. That I won't be mixed up with, but if you're
trying to lure him to run away with you then we must put a stop to

JULIE [Nervously]. Try to be calm now Kristin, and listen to me. I
can't stay here and Jean can't stay here. That being true, we must
leave-- --Kristin.

KRISTIN. Hm, hm!

JULIE [Brightening up]. But I have an idea--what if we three should
go--away--to foreign parts. To Switzerland and set up a hotel
together--I have money you see--and Jean and I would back the whole
thing, you could run the kitchen. Won't that be fine? Say yes, now--
and come with us--there everything would be arranged--say yes!
[Throws her arms around Kristin and coaxes her].

KRISTIN [Cold and reflecting]. Hm--hm!

JULIE [Presto tempo]. You leave never been out and traveled,
Kristin. You shall look about you in the world. Yon can't believe
how pleasant traveling on a train is--new faces continually, new
countries--and we'll go to Hamburg--and passing through we'll see
the zoological gardens--that you will like--then we'll go to the
theatre and hear the opera--and when we reach Munich there will be
the museum--there are Rubins and Raphaels and all the big painters
that you know--you have heard of Munich--where King Ludwig lived--
the King, you know, who went mad. Then we'll see his palace--a
palace like those in the Sagas--and from there it isn't far to
Switzerland--and the Alps, the Alps mind you with snow in
mid-summer. And there oranges grow and laurel--green all the year
round if--[Jean is seen in the doorway R. stropping his razor on
the strop which he holds between his teeth and left hand. He listens
and nods his head favorably now and then. Julie continues, tempo
prestissimo] And there we'll take a hotel and I'll sit taking the
cash while Jean greets the guests--goes out and markets writes
letters--that will be life, you may believe--then the train
whistles--then the omnibus comes--then a bell rings upstairs, then
in the restaurant--and then I make out the bills--and I can salt
them--you can't think how people tremble when they receive their
bill--and you--you can sit like a lady--of course you won't have
to stand over the stove--you can dress finely and neatly when you
show yourself to the people--and you with your appearance--Oh, I'm
not flattering, you can catch a husband some fine day--a rich Englishman
perhaps--they are so easy to--[Slowing up] to catch-- --Then we'll
be rich--and then we'll build a villa by Lake Como--to be sure it
rains sometimes--but [becoming languid] the sun must shine too
sometimes-- -- --although it seems dark-- -- --and if not--we can
at least travel homeward--and come back--here--or some other place.

KRISTIN. Listen now. Does Miss Julie believe in all this?

[Julie going to pieces.]

JULIE. Do I believe in it?


JULIE [Tired]. I don't know. I don't believe in anything any more.
[Sinks down on bench, and takes head in her hand on table.] In

KRISTIN [Turns to R. and looks toward Jean]. So--you intended to
run away?

JEAN [Rather shamefaced comes forward and puts razor on table]. Run
away? That's putting it rather strong. You heard Miss Julie's
project, I think it might be carried out.

KRISTIN. Now listen to that! Was it meant that I should be her cook--

JEAN [Sharply]. Be so good as to use proper language when you speak
of your mistress.

KRISTIN. Mistress?

JEAN. Yes.

KRISTIN. No--hear! Listen to him!

JEAN. Yes, you listen--you need to, and talk less. Miss Julie is
your mistress and for the same reason that you do not respect her
now you should not respect yourself.

KRISTIN. I have always had so much respect for myself--

JEAN. That you never had any left for others!

KRISTIN. I have never lowered my position. Let any one say, if they
can, that the Count's cook has had anything to do with the riding
master or the swineherd. Let them come and say it!

JEAN. Yes, you happened to get a fine fellow. That was your good

KRISTIN. Yes, a fine fellow--who sells the Count's oats from his

JEAN. Is it for you to say anything--you who get a commission on
all the groceries and a bribe from the butcher?

KRISTIN. What's that?

JEAN. And you can't have respect for your master and mistress any
longer--you, you!

KRISTIN [Glad to change the subject]. Are you coming to church with
me? You need a good sermon for your actions.

JEAN. No, I'm not going to church today. You can go alone--and
confess your doings.

KRISTIN. Yes, that I shall do, and I shall return with so much
forgiveness that there will be enough for you too. The Savior
suffered and died on the cross for all our sins, and when we go to
Him in faith and a repentant spirit he takes our sins on Himself.

JULIE. Do you believe that, Kristin?

KRISTIN. That is my life's belief, as true as I stand here. And
that was my childhood's belief that I have kept since my youth,
Miss Julie. And where sin overflows, there mercy overflows also.

JULIE. Oh, if I only had your faith. Oh, if--

KRISTIN. Yes, but you see that is not given without God's
particular grace, and that is not allotted to all, that!

JULIE. Who are the chosen?

KRISTIN. That is the great secret of the Kingdom of Grace, and the
Lord has no respect for persons. But there the last shall be first.

JULIE. But then has he respect for the last--the lowliest person?

KRISTIN [Continuing]. It is easier for a camel to pass through the
eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
That's the way it is, Miss Julie. However--now I am going--alone.
And on any way I shall stop in and tell the stable boy not to let
any horses go out in case any one wants to get away before the
Count comes home. Good bye.

[Exit Kristin.]

JEAN. Such a devil. And all this on account of your confounded

JULIE [Tired]. Oh, don't speak of the canary--do you see any way
out--any end to this?

JEAN [Thinking]. No.

JULIE. What would you do in my place?

JEAN. In your place--wait. As a noble lady, as a woman--fallen--I
don't know. Yes, now I know.

JULIE [She takes up razor from table and makes gestures saying]

JEAN. Yes. But _I_ should not do it, mark you, for there is a
difference between us.

JULIE. Because you are a man and I am a woman? What other
difference is there?

JEAN. That very difference--of man and woman.

JULIE [Razor in hand]. I want to do it--but I can't. My father
couldn't either that time when he should have done it.

JEAN. No, he was right, not to do it--he had to avenge himself

JULIE. And now my mother revenges herself again through me.

JEAN. Haven't you loved your father, Miss Julie?

JULIE. Yes, deeply. But I have probably hated him too, I must have--
without being aware of it. And it is due to my father's training
that I have learned to scorn my own sex. Between them both they
have made me half man, half woman. Whose is the fault for what has
happened--my father's? My mother's? My own? I haven't anything of
my own. I haven't a thought which was not nay father's--not a
passion that wasn't my mother's. And last of all from my betrothed
the idea that all people are equal. For that I now call him a
wretch. How can it be my own fault then? Throw the burden on Jesus
as Kristin did? No, I am too proud, too intelligent, thanks to my
father's teaching.-- --And that a rich man cannot enter the Kingdom
of Heaven--that is a lie, and Kristin, who has money in the savings
bank--she surely cannot enter there. Whose is the fault? What does
it concern us whose fault it is? It is I who must bear the burden
and the consequences.

JEAN. Yes, but-- --

[Two sharp rings on bell are heard. Julie starts to her feet. Jean
changes his coat.]

JEAN. The Count--has returned. Think if Kristin has-- [Goes up to
speaking tube and listens.]

JULIE. Now he has seen the desk!

JEAN [Speaking in the tube]. It is Jean, Excellency. [Listens].
Yes, Excellency. [Listens] .Yes, Excellency,--right away--
immediately, Excellency. Yes--in half an hour.

JULIE [In great agitation]. What did he say? In Heaven's name, what
did he say?

JEAN. He wants his boots and coffee in a half hour.

JULIE. In half an hour then. Oh, I'm so tired--I'm incapable of
feeling, not able to be sorry, not able to go, not able to stay,
not able to live--not able to die. Help me now. Command me--I will
obey like a dog. Do me this last service save my honor. Save his
name. You know what I have the will to do--but cannot do. You will
it and command me to execute your will.

JEAN. I don't know why--but now I can't either.--I don't understand
myself. It is absolutely as though this coat does it--but I can't
command you now. And since the Count spoke to me-- --I can't
account for it--but oh, it is that damned servant in my back--I
believe if the Count came in here now and told me to cut my throat
I would do it on the spot.

JULIE. Make believe you are he--and I you. You could act so well a
little while ago when you knelt at my feet. Then you were a
nobleman--or haven't you ever been at the theatre and seen the
hypnotist--[Jean nods] He says to his subject "Take the broom," and
he takes it; he says, "Sweep," and he sweeps.

JEAN. Then the subject must be asleep!

JULIE [Ecstatically]. I sleep already. The whole room is like smoke
before me--and you are like a tall black stove, like a man clad in
black clothes with a high hat; and your eyes gleam like the hot
coals when the fire is dying; and your face a white spot like
fallen ashes. [The sunshine is coming in through the windows and
falls on Jean. Julie rubs her hands as though warming them before a
fire]. It is so warm and good--and so bright and quiet!

JEAN [Takes razor and puts it in her hand]. There is the broom, go
now while it's bright--out to the hay loft--and--[He whispers in
her ear.]

JULIE [Rousing herself]. Thanks. And now I go to rest. But tell me
this--the foremost may receive the gift of Grace? Say it, even if
you don't believe it.

JEAN. The foremost? No, I can't say that. But wait, Miss Julie--you
are no longer among the foremost since you are of the lowliest.

JULIE. That's true, I am the lowliest--the lowliest of the lowly.
Oh, now I can't go. Tell me once more that I must go.

JEAN. No, now I cannot either--I cannot.

JULIE. And the first shall be last-- -- --

JEAN. Don't think. You take my strength from me, too, so that I
become cowardly.--What-- --I thought I heard the bell!-- -- No! To
be afraid of the sound of is bell! But it's not the bell--it's
someone behind the bell, the hand that sets the lull in motion--and
something else that sets the land in motion. But stop your cars,
stop your ears. Then he will only ring louder and keep on ringing
until it's answered--and then it is too late! Then come the police
and then--[Two loud rings on bell are heard, Jean falls in a heap
for a moment, but straightens up immediately.] It is horrible! But
there is no other way. Go!

[Countess Julie goes out resolutely.]




THORFINN, Erl of Iceland
VALGERD, his wife
GUNLOED, their daughter
GUNNAR, a Crusader
ORM, a minstrel, foster brother to Thorfinn

Action takes place in Iceland.


[SCENE--A hut, door at back, window-holes, right and, left, closed
by big heavy wooden shutters. Wooden benches against walls, the
high bench, a sort of rude throne, at left. The uprights of this
high beach are carved with images of the gods Odin and Thor. From
the wall beams hang swords, battle axes and shields. Near the high
bench stands a harp. Gunloed stands at an open window-hole peering
out; through the opening one gets a glimpse of the sea lighted by
the aurora borealis. Valgerd sits by the fire, which is in the
middle of the room, spinning.]

VALGERD. Close the window-hole.

[Gunloed is silent.]

VALGERD. Gunloed!

GUNLOED. Did you speak, mother?

VALGERD. What are you doing?

GUNLOED. I am watching the sea.

VALGERD. When will you learn to forget?

GUNLOED. Take everything away from me but memories!

VALGERD. Look forward--not back.

GUNLOED. Who reproaches the strong viking who looks back when he is
quitting his native strand?

VALGERD. You have had three winters to make your farewell.

GUNLOED. You speak truly--three winters! For here never came a

VALGERD. When the floating ice melts, then shall spring be here.

GUNLOED. The Northern Lights melt no ice.

VALGERD. Nor your tears.

GUNLOED. You never saw me weep.

VALGERD. But I have heard you. As long as you do that, you are a

GUNLOED. I am not a child.

VALGERD. If you would be a woman, suffer in silence.

GUNLOED. I'll cast sorrow from me, mother.

VALGERD. No, no--bury it, as your deepest treasure. The seed must
not lie on top of the earth if it would sprout and ripen. You have
a deep sorrow. It should bear great gladness--and great peace.

GUNLOED [After a pause]. I shall forget.

VALGERD. Everything?

GUNLOED. I shall try.

VALGERD. Can you forget your father's hardness?

GUNLOED. That I have forgotten.

VALGERD. Can you forget that there was a time when your
fore-fathers' dwelling stood on Broevikens' strand? Where the south
wind sang in the oak wood when the ice-bound seas ran free--where
the hemlocks gave forth their fragrance and the finches twittered
among the linden trees--and Balder, the God of spring and joy,
lulled you to sleep on the green meadows? Can you forget all this,
while you listen to the sea gulls' plaints on these bare rocks and
cliffs, and the cold storms out of the north howl through the
stunted birches?


VALGERD. Can you forget the friend of your childhood from whom your
father tore you to save you from the white Christ?

GUNLOED [in desperation]. Yes, yes!

VALGERD. You are weeping.

GUNLOED [Disturbed]. Some one is walking out there. Perhaps father
is coming home.

VALGERD. Will you bear in mind every day without tears that we now
dwell in the land of ice--fugitives from the kingdom of Svea and
hated here by the Christ-men? But we have suffered no loss of
greatness, although we have not been baptized and kissed the
bishop's hand. Have you ever spoken to any of the Christians since
we have been here?

GUNLOED [After a pause]. No. Tell me, mother, is it true that father
is to be Erl here in Iceland, too?

VALGERD. Don't let that trouble you, child.

GUNLOED. Then I'm afraid he will fare badly with the Christians.

VALGERD. You fear that?

GUNLOED. Some one is out there.

VALGERD [Anxiously]. Did you see the ship lying in the inlet this

GUNLOED. With heart-felt gladness!

VALGERD. Bore it the figure-head of Thorfinn?

GUNLOED. That I could not make out.

VALGERD. Have a care, girl.

GUNLOED. Is it tonight that I may go out?

VALGERD. Tomorrow--that you know well.


VALGERD [Going]. Mind the fire. [Valgerd goes.]

[Gunloed looks after her mother, then cautiously takes from her
breast a crucifix, puts it on the high bench and falls on her

GUNLOED. Christ, Christ, forgive me the lie I told. [Springs up
noticing the images of the gods on the high bench.] No, I cannot
pray before these wicked images. [She looks for another place.]
Holy St. Olof, holy--oh, I can't remember how the bishop named her!
God! God! Cast me not into purgatory for this sin! I will repeat
the whole long prayer of the monks--credo, credo--in patrem--oh, I
have forgotten that too. I shall give five tall candles for the
altar of the mother of God the next time I go to the chapel--Credo,
in patrem omnipotentem--[Kissing the crucifix eagerly.]

[A song is heard outside the hut accompanied by a lyre.]

A crusader went out to the Holy Land,
O, Christ, take the maiden's soul in hand,
And to your kingdom bring her!
I'll return, mayhap, when the spruce trees bloom.

Summers three he wanders far from thee,
Where nightingales sing their delight,
And masses he holds both day and night,
At the holy sepulchre's chapel.
I'll return, mayhap, when the spruce trees bloom.

When the palm trees bud on Jordan's strand,
Then makes he a prayer to God,
That he may return to his native land,
And press to his heart his love.
I'll return, my love, when the spruce trees bloom.

GUNLOED [At beginning of song springs up and then listens with more
and more agitation and eagerness. When the song is over she goes
toward door to bolt it, but so slowly that Gunnar is able to enter
before she slips the bolt. Gunnar is clad in the costume of a
crusader with a lyre swung across his shoulder.]

GUNNAR. Gunloed! [They embrace. Gunloed pulls away and goes toward
door.] You are afraid of me? What is it, Gunloed?

GUNLOED. You never took me in your arms before!

GUNNAR. We were children then!

GUNLOED You are right--we were children then. What means that silver
falcon on your shield? I saw it on your ship's bow this morning,

GUNNAR. You saw my ship--you knew my song, and you would have
barred the door against me! What am I to understand, Gunloed?

GUNLOED. Oh, ask me nothing! I am so unquiet of spirit but sit and
let me talk to you.

GUNNAR [Sits]. You are silent.

GUNLOED. You are silent, too.

GUNNAR [Pulls her to his side]. Gunloed, Gunloed--has the snow fallen
so heavily that memories have been chilled even the mountains here
burst forth with fire--and you are cold as a snow wind--but speak--
speak! Why are you here in Iceland--and what has happened?

GUNLOED. Terrible things--and more may follow if you stay here
longer.--[Springs up]. Go, before my father comes.

GUNNAR. Do you think I would leave you now--I, who have sought you
for long years? When I could not find you in the home land I went
to the wars against the Saracens to seek you the other side of the
grave. But my time had not yet come; when the fourth spring came, I
heard through wandering merchants that you were to be found here.
Now I have found you--and you wish me to leave you in this heathen

GUNLOED. I am not alone!

GUNNAR. Your father does not love you--your mother does not
understand you, and they are both heathen.

GUNLOED. I have friends among the Christians.

GUNNAR. Then you have become a Christian, Gunloed!--the holy virgin
has heard my prayer.

GUNLOED. Yes, yes! Oh, let me kiss the cross you bear on your
shoulder--that you got at the holy sepulchre!

GUNNAR. Now I give you a brother Christian's kiss--the first,
Gunloed, you have from me.

GUNLOED. You must never kiss me again.

GUNNAR. But tell me, how did you become a Christian?

GUNLOED. First I believed in my father--he was so strong; then I
believed in my mother--she was so good; last I believed in you--you
were so strong and good--and so beautiful; and when you went away--
I stood alone--myself I could never believe in--I was so weak; then
I thought of your God, whom you so often begged me to love--and I
prayed to Him.

GUNNAR. And the old gods--

GUNLOED. I have never been able to believe in them--although my
father commanded me to do so--they are wicked.

GUNNAR. Who has taught you to pray? Who gave you the crucifix?

GUNLOED. The bishop.

GUNNAR. And that no one knows?

GUNLOED. No--I have had to lie to my mother and that troubles me.

GUNNAR. And your father hid you here so that the Christians should
not get you?

GUNLOED. Yes--and now he is expected home from Norway with followers
as he is to be Erl of the island.

GUNNAR. God forbid!

GUNLOED. Yes--yes--but you must not delay. He is expected home

GUNNAR. Good--there beyond Hjaerleif's headland lies my ship.--Out
to sea! There is a land wind, and before the first cock's crow we
shall be beyond pursuit.

GUNLOED. Yes! Yes!

GUNNAR. Soon we should be at Ostergoetland--where the summer is
still green--and there you shall live in my castle which I have
built where your father's house stood.

GUNLOED. Does not that still stand?

GUNNAR. No--it was burned.

GUNLOED. By the Christians?

GUNNAR. You are so passionate, Gunloed!

GUNLOED. I suffer to say I would rather be a heathen.

GUNNAR. What are you saying, girl!

GUNLOED. [After a pause]. Forgive me, forgive me--I am in such a
wild mood--and when I see the Christians, who should be examples,
commit such deeds--

GUNNAR. Crush out that thought, Gunloed--it is ungodly. Do you see
this wreath?

GUNLOED. Where did you gather it?

GUNNAR. You recognize the flowers, Gunloed?

GUNLOED. They grew in my father's garden--may I keep them?

GUNNAR. Gladly--but, why do you care to have them when we are going
to journey there ourselves?

GUNLOED. I shall look at them the long winter through--the hemlock
shall remind me of the green woods and the anemones of the blue

GUNNAR. And when they are withered--

GUNLOED. Of that I do not think.

GUNNAR. Then go with me from this drear land--far away, and there
where our childhood was spent we will live as free as the birds
among the flowers and sunshine. There you shall not go in stealth
to the temple of the Lord when the bells tell you of the Sabbath.
Oh, you shall see the new chapel with its vaulted roof and high
pillared aisles. And hear the acolytes singing when the bishop
lights the incense on the high altar. There shall you solemnize the
God service with those of Christ and you shall feel you heart
cleansed of sin.

GUNLOED. Shall I fly--leave my mother?

GUNNAR. She will forgive you some time.

GUNLOED. But my father would call me cowardly and that I would
never allow.

GUNNAR. That you must endure for the sake of your belief.

GUNLOED. Thorfinn's daughter was never cowardly.

GUNNAR. Your father does not love you, and he will hate you when he
knows of your conversion.

GUNLOED. That he may do--but he shall never despise me.

GUNNAR. You surrender your love, Gunloed.

GUNLOED. Love!--I remember--there was a maiden--she had a friend who
went away--after, she was never again glad--she only sat sewing
silk and gold--what she was making no one knew--and when they asked
her she would only weep. And when they asked her why she wept, she
never answered--only wept. She grew pale of cheek and her mother
made ready her shroud.--Then there came an old woman and she said
it was love. Gunnar,--I never wept when you went away as father
says it is weak to shed tears; I never sewed silk and gold for that
my mother has never taught me to do--then had I not love?

GUNNAR. You have often thought of me during these years?

GUNLOED. I have dreamed so often of you, and this morning when I
stood by the window where I linger so willingly and, gazing over
the sea, I saw your ship come up out of the east, I became unquiet
although I did not know it was your ship.

GUNNAR. Why do you gaze so willingly over the sea?

GUNLOED. You ask many questions!

GUNNAR. Why did you want to close the door against me?

GUNLOED. [Silent].

GUNNAR. Why didn't you close it?

GUNLOED. [Silent].

GUNNAR. Why are you silent?

[Gunloed bursts into tears.]

GUNNAR. You weep, Gunloed, and you know why? I know,--you love!
[Takes her in his arms and kisses her.]

GUNLOED. [Tearing herself away]. You must not kiss me! Go!

GUNNAR. Yes--and you shall go with me.

GUNLOED. I do not care to be commanded by you--and I shall not obey.

GUNNAR. The volcano gives forth fire--and burns itself out!

GUNLOED. You have destroyed my peace--forever! Go and let me forget

GUNNAR. Do you know what the silver falcon with the ribbon stands
for? It is the symbol of the wild girl I shall tame.

GUNLOED. [With force]. You! Go before I hate you!--No one yet has
bent my will!

GUNNAR. The wild fire of the viking's blood still burns in your
veins, but it shall be quenched. A day and a night shall I wait for
you. And you will come--mild as a dove seeking shelter, although
you now would fly above the clouds like a wild falcon. But I still
hold the ribbon in my hand--that is your love, which you cannot
tear away. When twilight falls again you will come. Till then,
farewell. [Goes to the door and stops.]

GUNLOED. [Silent.]

GUNNAR. [Going.] Farewell.

GUNLOED. We shall see, proud knight, who comes first. When this
garland shall bloom again, then shall I come. [Throws garland in
fire. She watches it burn in a thoughtful mood. When it is quite
burnt she breaks into tears again and falls on her knees.] God!
God! Soften my proud spirit! Oh, that he should leave me! [Hastens
to door. At same moment Valgerd enters, passes Gunloed, and goes to

VALGERD. Why did you not tend the fire?

GUNLOED. [Silent.]

VALGERD [Putting her hand against Gunloed's heart]. You have a

GUNLOED. Yes, mother, yes.

VALGERD. Hide it well.

GUNLOED. Oh, I must speak--I can't bear it any longer.

VALGERD. When saw you a mother who did not know a daughter's

GUNLOED. Who told you mine?

VALGERD [Harshly]. Dry your tears.

[A pause.]

GUNLOED. Oh, let me go out--on the mountains--on the strand. It is
so stifling here.

VALGERD. Go up to the loft--and you can be alone. [Enter a thrall.]
What would you?

THRALL. The Erl's trumpets are heard beyond the rocks and the storm
is growing.

VALGERD. Has darkness fallen?

THRALL. Yes, and a terrible darkness it is.

[A pause.]

GUNLOED. Send out a boat--two--as many as can be found.

THRALL. All the boats are out for the hunt.

GUNLOED. Light beacon fires.

THRALL. All the fuel is so rain-soaked that we haven't had so much
as a twig on the hearth all the evening.


THRALL. How will it go with the Erl?

VALGERD. Does that concern you?

[Thrall goes.]

GUNLOED. You have not forgotten your wrong!

VALGERD. Nor my revenge! One should not lay hands on the daughter
of an Erl!

GUNLOED. So be it. Now your moment has come--take your revenge--I'll
show you how--like this. [Takes a lighted torch.] Put this torch in
the window-hole on the right and you wreck him. Put it in the left
and you save him--

VALGERD [Interrupts]. Give me the torch and leave me.

GUNLOED. There is a sacrifice which can pacify your god's. Sacrifice
your revenge.

VALGERD. [Takes torch, hesitates, and goes quickly to left
window-hole and places it there. Trumpets are heard]. You struck
me, Thorfinn--I swore revenge--I shall humble you with a kind deed.

GUNLOED [Unseen by Valgerd has entered and falls on her mother's
neck]. Thanks, mother.

VALGERD [Disconcerted]. Haven't you gone--

GUNLOED. Now I shall go. [Gunloed goes.]

VALGERD [Alone by the window-hole]. You shout for help, you mighty
man, who always helped yourself. [Trumpets are heard.] Where is now
your might--where is your kingdom--[A gust of wind blows out the
lighted torch. Valgerd, terribly frightened, takes torch and lights
it.] Oh, he will perish! What shall I do? Pray? To whom? Odin?
Njard? Ogir? I have called to them for four times ten years, but
never have they answered. I have sacrificed, but never have they
helped. Thou, God, however you may be called--Thou mighty one, who
bids the sun to rise and set, thou tremendous one who rules over
the winds and water--to you will I pray, to you will I sacrifice my
revenge if you will save him.

[Orm enters unnoticed.]

ORM. Good evening to you, Valgerd. Put on your cloak--the wind is

VALGERD [Disconcerted, takes down torch and closes window-hole.]
Welcome, Orm.

ORM. Thanks.

VALGERD. How is it with you, Orm?

ORM. Tolerable enough---when one gets near the big logs.

VALGERD [Irritated]. How went the journey I mean?

ORM. That is a long saga.

VALGERD. Make it short.

ORM. Well, as you know, we fared to Norway, seeking men and timber.


ORM. Valgerd!

VALGERD. You have not spoken a word of the Erl.

ORM. Have you asked a word about your mate?

VALGERD. Where is he? Lives he?

ORM. I know not.

VALGERD. You know not!--you, his foster brother? Where did you part
from him?

ORM. Far out in the gulf. It was merry out there you may believe.
You should have seen him swimming with my lyre in his hand. The
sea-weed was so tangled in his beard and hair that one was tempted
to believe that it was Neptune himself. Just then came a wave as
big as a house--

VALGERD. And then?

ORM. And then--I saw my lyre no more.

VALGERD. Orm! You jest while your lord and brother is perhaps
perishing out there! I command you--go at once and seek him! Do you

ORM. Why, what is the matter? You were never before so concerned
about your mate! You might find time to give me a drink of ale
before I go.

VALGERD. Warm your knees by the hearth. I shall go--and defy wind
and storm.

ORM. [Taking her hounds]. Woman, woman--after all, you are a woman!

VALGERD [Angry]. Let go my hand.

ORM. Now the Erl is saved!


ORM. Yes, you have been given back to him--and that is his voice
now. [Goes.]

[Voices of Thorfinn and Orm are heard outside, Thorfinn laughing

VALGERD. The Erl comes--he laughs--that I have never heard before--
oh, there is something terrible approaching! [Wrings her hands.]

[Enter Thorfinn and Orm.]

THORFINN [Laughing]. That was a murderous sight--

ORM. Yes, I promise you!

VALGERD. Welcome home, mate.

THORFINN. Thanks, wife. Have you been out in the rain? Your eyes
are wet.

VALGERD. You are so merry!

THORFINN. Merry? Yes--yes.

VALGERD. What became of your ships?

ORM. They went to the bottom--all but one.

VALGERD [To Thorfinn]. And you can nevertheless be so gay?

THORFINN. Ho! Ho! Timber grows in plenty in the north!

ORM. Now perhaps we might have something life-giving.

THORFINN. Well said! Fetch some ale, wife, and let's be merry.

ORM. And we'll thank the gods who saved us.

THORFINN. When will you ever outgrow those sagas, Orm?

ORM. Why do you force your wife and daughter to believe in them?

THORFINN. Women folk should have gods.

ORM. Whom do you believe helped you out there in the storm?

THORFINN. I helped myself.

ORM. And yet you cried out to Ake-Thor when the big wave swallowed

THORFINN. There you lie.

ORM. Orm never lies.

THORFINN. Orm is a poet!

ORM. Thorfinn must have swallowed too much sea water when he cried
for help to have such a bitter tongue.

THORFINN. Take care of your own tongue, Orm.

[Valgerd with drinking horns.]

VALGERD. Here, foster brothers, I drink to your oath of friendship
and better luck for your next voyage.

THORFINN. I forbid you to speak of that again. [They drink.
Thorfinn takes horn hastily from mouth and asks] Where is the

VALGERD [Troubled]. She is in the loft.

THORFINN. Call her hither.

VALGERD. She's not well.

THORFINN [Looks sharply at Valgerd]. She shall--come!

VALGERD. You don't mean that.

THORFINN. Did you hear the word?

VALGERD. It is not your last.

THORFINN. A man has but one, though woman must always have the

VALGERD [Weakly]. You mock me.

THORFINN. You are angry I believe.

VALGERD. You laugh so much tonight.

[Goes out.]

THORFINN. Orm! A thought comes to me.

ORM. If it's a great one you had better hide it. Great thoughts are
scarce these days.

THORFINN. Did you notice my wife?

ORM. I never notice other men's wives.

THORFINN. How kindly and mild she was.

ORM. She pitied you.

THORFINN. Pitied me?

ORM. Yes, because sorrow that laughs is the laughter of death, she

THORFINN. Woman cannot think.

ORM. No, not with her head, but with her heart. That's why she has
a smaller head but a bigger breast than we.

THORFINN. Forebodings of evil torture me.

ORM. Poor Thorfinn.

THORFINN. My child! Orm! When she comes do you bid her drink from
the horn to Asa-Odin.

ORM. The fox scents against, the wind. I understand.

THORFINN. Be ready--they come.

ORM. Be not hard with the child, Thorfinn, or you will have me to
reckon with.

[Valgerd and Gunloed enter. The latter heavy with sleepiness.]

GUNLOED. Welcome home, father.

THORFINN. Do you speak truthfully?

GUNLOED. [Silent.]

THORFINN. You are ill, are you not?

GUNLOED. I am not quite myself.

THORFINN. I fear so.

ORM [Waning a drinking horn over the fire]. Come, Gunloed, and empty
this sacred horn to Odin who saved your father from shipwreck.

[All empty their horns except Gunloed.]

THORFINN [Tremblingly]. Drink, Gunloed.

[Gunloed throws the horn on floor and goes to Thorfinn and buries
her head in his lap.]

GUNLOED. Hear me, father. I am a Christian. Do with me what you
will--my soul you cannot destroy. God and the Saints will protect

[Thorfinn is beside himself with grief and rage. Rises and pushes
Gunloed away from him and tries to speak, but words fail him. Sits
on his high bench again in silence. Orm goes to the women and
speaks quietly to them. They go toward door. Suddenly Gunloed

GUNLOED. No! I won't go. I must speak that you, my father, may not
go to the grave with a lie--for your whole life has been a lie! I
shall sacrifice the child's respect--love I have never felt--and
prove to you what terrible guilt you have gathered on your head.
Know then, you have taught me to hate--for when did you ever give
me love--you taught me to fear the great Erl Thorfinn and you have
succeeded, because I tremble before your harshness. I respect your
many scars and great deeds, but you never taught me to love my
father. You always thrust me away when I wanted to come to you--you
poisoned my soul and now you see God's punishment. You have made me
a criminal--for such I am at this moment, but it cannot be
otherwise. Why do you hate my belief? Because it is love and yours
is hate! Oh, father, father, I want to kiss the clouds from your
brow. I wanted to caress your white locks and make you forget the
sorrows that whitened them. I wanted to support you when your steps
began to falter--Oh! forget what I have said--open your arms [falls
on her knees] and take me to your heart. Look at me tenderly--just
once before it is too late. Speak one word--[springs to her feet]
Oh, your glance freezes me! You will not! I shall pray for power
to love you. [Bursts into tears and goes out, followed by Valgerd,
Orm goes forward to Thorfinn.]

THORFINN. Sing for me, Orm.

ORM. Orm sings nothing but lies.

THORFINN. Lie then.

ORM. Was the truth so bitter?

THORFINN. What do you say?

ORM. Never mind. You shall hear more from me later.

THORFINN. Orm, you are my friend!

ORM. H'm--of course!

THORFINN. I lack peace.

ORM. There are two ways to gain peace: one is never to do anything
one regrets--the other never to regret anything one does!

THORFINN. But if one has already done what one regrets?

ORM. Thorfinn! That is to say, you regret your harshness toward
your child?

THORFINN [Angry]. I regret nothing. And as far as the child is
concerned you had better hold your tongue!

ORM. Hear you, Thorfinn--have you ever thought about what your life
has been?

THORFINN. Thinking is for old women--doing has been my life.

ORM. What do you intend to do now?

THORFINN. What do I intend to do now?

ORM. Yes.

THORFINN [Shaken, is silent.]

ORM. You see how even a little thought struck you--think then if a
big thought should come. Why don't you dare to look back? Because
you are afraid of the sights you would see.

THORFINN. Let the past remain buried.

ORM. No, I shall tear the corpses from their graves and they shall
stare at you with their empty orbits until you quake with anguish
and fear--and you shall see that with all your strength you were
not a man.

THORFINN. What are you saying, madman?

ORM. Yes, shout--you are still a boy. Yes, you--I have seen big,
tall children with bushy beards and gray hairs and crooked backs as

THORFINN. Hold your tongue, Orm.

ORM. Shout until the hut trembles--the truth you cannot shout down.

THORFINN. Silence, before I strike you!

ORM. Strike! Strike me to death--tear the tongue out of my mouth--
with copper trumpets shall the truth be blasted into your ears,
"Your life has been a lie."

THORFINN [With repressed anger and pain]. Orm, I beg of you--speak
no more.

ORM. Yes, Thorfinn, I shall speak. Feel how the earth trembles
under you. That means an earthquake! The whole earth trembles these
days, for she is about to give birth. She is to bring forth in dire
pain a glorious hero. Open your eyes and look. Do you see how the
east wars with the wes.? It is love's first conflict--the new bride
trembles under the elder's embraces, she struggles and suffers--but
soon she shall rejoice, and thousands of torches shall be lighted
and radiate peace and gladness, because he shall he born, the
young, the strong, the beautiful princeling, who shall rule over
all peoples and whose sceptre is called love and whose crown is
called light and whose name is the new age! Thorfinn! do you
remember the saga about Thor at Utgorda Loake? He lifted the cat so
high that the trolls turned pale; he drank so deep from the horn
that the trolls trembled--but when the old woman felled him to his
knees then the trolls laughed. It was the age that vanquished him,
and it is the age that you have warred against, and which has slain
you--it is the lord of the age, it is God who has crushed you.

THORFINN. I have never known any god but my own strength, and that
god I believe in!

ORM. You don't know him--you who have so long been lying at feud
with him. It was he who drove you from your native land, and you
thought you were escaping him. It was he who struck your ships to
splinters and swallowed up your treasures and ended your power. It
was he who tore your child from you--and you said you lacked peace!
It was he--[Messenger enters.]

MESSENGER. Are you the Erl Thorfinn.


MESSENGER. You committed the coast massacre at Reyd-fiord last

THORFINN [Undisturbed]. I did.

MESSENGER. You plundered and burned Hallfred at Thorvalla?


MESSENGER. And then you disappeared.

THORFINN [Silent.]

MESSENGER. The Allting has now declared you an outlaw and
pronounced you a felon. Your house is to be burned to the ground,
and whomsoever will may take your life. Your enemies are at hand,
therefore fly while there is yet time--make your escape this night.

[Messenger goes out and there is a long pause.]

ORM. Do you know who that was?

THORFINN. You may well ask that.

ORM. It--was a messenger from that old woman who felled Thor--the

THORFINN. You talk like an old woman.

ORM. This age does not want to use force, but you have violated it
and it strikes you.

THORFINN. This age cannot suffer strength, therefore it worships

ORM. When you came to this island you swore peace. You have broken
your oath, you have violated your honor, therefore you must die
like a felon.

THORFINN. Do you too call me a felon?

ORM. Yes.

THORFINN. Would you dare to break an oath? Would you dare to in
called a felon?

ORM [Silent.]

THORFINN. Poor wretch! It is you who put shackles on me when I want
to fly! Like a snake you coil yourself around my legs. Let go of

ORM. We have sworn the oath of foster-brothers.

THORFINN. I break it!

ORM. You cannot.

THORFINN. Then I'll kick you out of the way.

ORM. That will be our death.

THORFINN. Are you a man, Orm?

ORM. I've become a poet only.

THORFINN. Therefore you have become nothing.

ORM. I knew what I wanted, but I could not attain it. You could
attain anything, but did not know what you wanted.

THORFINN. Thanks for your song. Farewell.

ORM. Who will sing your death song?

THORFINN. The ravens no doubt.

ORM. Do you dare to die, Thorfinn?

THORFINN. I dare more! I dare to be forgotten!

ORM. You were always stronger than I. Farewell. We'll meet again.
[Orm goes out.]

THORFINN. Alone! Alone! Alone! [Pause.] I remember one autumn when
the equinoctial storm raged over England's sun my dragon ship was
wrecked and I was tossd up on the rocks alone. Afterward everything
grew calm. Oh, what long days and nights! Only the cloudless sky
above and endlessly the deep blue sea around me. Not a sound of any
living creature! Not even the gulls to wake me with their
screeching! Not even a breeze stirred the waves to lap against the
stones. It seemed as if I myself were dead! Loudly I talked and
shouted, but the sound of my voice frightened me, and thirst bound
my tongue. Only the even beat of my heart in my breast told me that
I was alive! But after a moment's listening I heard it no longer
and, trembling, I rose to my feet, and so it was each time until,
senseless, I swooned. When at last I revived I heard the slow beats
of a heart beside me and a deep breathing that was not mine, and
courage revived in my soul. I looked about--it was a seal seeking
rest; it gazed at me with its moist eyes as if filled with
compassion for me. Now I was no longer alone! I stretched out my
hand to caress its rough body; then it fled and I was doubly alone.
Again I am on the rocks! What do I fear? Yes, loneliness! What is
loneliness? It is I, myself! Who am I then to fear myself? Am I not
Erl Thorfinn, the strong, who has bowed thousands of wills to his?
Who never asked for friendship or love but himself bore his own
sorrows! No! No! I am another! And therefore Thorfinn the strong
fears Thorfinn the weak! Who stole my strength? Who struck me down?
Was it the sea? Have I not vanquished the sea three times ten
voyages? And it, has defeated me but once--but then to the death!
It was the stronger. It was a God. But who subdued the sea that
lately raged? Who? Who? Who? It was the stronger! Who are you then,
the stronger! Oh, answer, that I may believe! He does not answer!--
All is silent!--Again I hear my heart beating. Oh, help, help! I am
cold, I freeze--[Goes to door and calls Valgerd.]

[Enter a thrall.]

THRALL. You called, Master Erl?

THORFINN [Recovering himself]. You were mistaken.

THRALL. Yes, master.

THORFINN. How many men are we?

THRALL. Oh--half three score I think.

THORFINN. Are you afraid to die, thrall?

THRALL. How can I be when I believe that I shall be saved?

[Crosses himself.]

THORFINN. What does that mean?

THRALL. The bishop has taught us to do that.

THORFINN. I forgot that you are a Christian.

THRALL. Do you wish me to stay in your service when you are a

THORFINN. I want to prove how little I respect their belief. We
must put double bolts on the north gate!

THRALL. Yes, Master, but the belief is stronger than a hundred

THORFINN. Who questioned you? [Pause.] What happened when you
became Christians here on the island?

THRALL. Oh, it was easier than any one would think. They only
poured water on us and the bishop read from a big book and then
they gave us each a white shirt.

THORFINN. Tell the twelve strongest to take their new axes--do you

THRALL [Starting to go]. Yes, Master.

THORFINN. Wait. [Pause.] Do you remember what was written in that
big book?

THRALL. I don't remember much of it, but there was something about
two thieves who were hanged on crosses along with the Son of God.
But one of them went to heaven.

THORFINN. Did they pour water on him, too?

THRALL. The bishop didn't say.

THORFINN. Do you know whether there are any horses in the stable?

THRALL. They must be out at pasture--but I'll see. [Starts to go.]

THORFINN. You mustn't leave me--Stay. [Pause.] Could you die in
peace this night?

THRALL. Yes, if I only had time for a prayer first.

THORFINN. Does that bring peace to one?

THRALL. Oh, yes, Master.

THORFINN [Rises, takes up a goblet]. This you shall have if you
will pray for me.

THRALL. That's not enough.

THORFINN. You shall have ten, but if you ever tell of it--I'll take
your life.

THRALL. It would not help even if you gave me a hundred. You must
pray yourself.

THORFINN. I cannot, but. I command you to pray.

THRALL. I will obey--but you will see that it does not help.
[Praying.] Jesus Christ, have pity on this poor sinner who begs for

THORFINN. That's a lie. I never begged for anything!

THRALL. You see now that it doesn't help.

THORFINN. Give me my armor and help me buckle.

THRALL [Helping]. You are not keeping still. I can't fasten the


THRALL. But your whole body is shaking.

THORFINN. That's a lie!

[Valgerd and Gunloed enter.]

THRALL. May I go now?


VALGERD [Coming forward]. You called me.

THORFINN. That's not true.

VALGERD. Your enemies are upon you.

THORFINN. What does that concern you?

VALGRED. Make ready. I have heard what has come to pass.

THORFINN. Then it is best that you [indicating both Valgerd and
Gunloed] hide yourselves in the cellar passage.

[Another messenger enters.]

MESSENGER. Erl Thorfinn, we are here. Will you surrender to our
superior strength?

THORFINN [Silent.]

MESSENGER. You do not answer. Let the women go as we shall burn
your home. [Thorfinn is silent.] Your answer!

[Gunloed who has been standing by the door, comes forward and takes
a battle axe from wall.]

GUNLOED. I give you your answer! Ill must Erl Thorfinn have brought
up his daughter and little would his wife have loved him if they
should desert him now. Here is your answer. [Throws battle axe at
messenger's feet.]

MESSENGER. You are stronger than I thought, Thorfinn. For your
daughter's sake you shall have a chance to fall like a hero and not
as a felon. Make ready for open conflict--out on the field. [Goes

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