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husband, God rest his soul, but there was not much lovemaking between them either. No, indeed!
Oddny. Well, what of that! He was a man up in years and had a fine farm.
Gudfinna. He was an upright and honest man, and Halla made him a good wife, my dear.
Oddny. Who doubts that? (Silence.) I don't know what ails Kari of late. Yesterday he flew into a rage when I asked him if he knew of a cure for freckles. I hope Halla has not become such a saint yet that one can't notice her freckles.
Enter Kari and Magnus.
Kari and Magnus. Good evening!
Gudfinna and Oddny. Good evening!
Oddny (rising). I am sitting on your bed, I believe.
Magnus (throws off his cap). Oddny, ask Sigrid to come here and pull ofF my stockings. (Sits down.) It feels good to sit down. [ Oddny goes reluctantly.
Kari. Why is she so grumpy? She is not so cheerful a body as you are. I should like to have known you in your young days. I dare say you knew how to handle a rake.
Gudfinna (straightening her back). You may be sure. On dry ground,two lively fellows had all they could do to make ready for my rake.
Kari. And you were not afraid to tuck up your skirts, where the ground was low and marshy.
Gudfinna. Indeed not! Many a time I had water in my shoes.
Enter Sigrid and Oddny.
Magnus (stretching his feet out on the floor). Pull off' my shoes! I'm so tired to-night I can't move.
Sigrid. It must be laziness that ails you, as usual. (Kneels down.) How in the name of heaven did you manage to get so wet in this dry weather? I can wring the water out of your stockings.
Magnus. Kari wanted to jump the creek to make a short cut, and I fell in.
Oddny (to Kari). Aren't you wet, too?
Kari. No. (Sits down.)
Magnus. Kari skims over everything like a bird.
Kari. Every man has his gift. (To Sigrid.) You should see the rocks Magnus can lift.
Magnus. Well, it may be true that I am pretty strong, but I should like to see the man who could throw you in an honest glima.
Oddny. I know one whom Kari couldn't stand against.
Magnus. And who is that? (Sigridpulls at his stockings.) There! There!
Oddny. Bj0rn, Halla's brother-in-law.
Magnus. I should not be afraid to bet on Kari against him. (To Sigrid.) Give me the stockings! (Dries his feet with the stocking legs.) (Sigrid pulls out a chest, where she finds dry stockings.)
Oddny. I don't think Kari would dare to try a fall with the bailiff.
Kari. If you were the prize, I should not dare to!
Gudfinna (laughing). There you got it! (Everybody laughs except Oddny.)
Halla (smiling). Yet many have fought for less.
Magnus. I 'm ready to make a wager with you, Oddny, that Kari would win.
Halla. It does not look as if the cows were coming home to-night. Magnus, won't you go up the gorge and see
if they are there, and I will send the boy down to the creek.
[Exit Sigrid with the wet stockings.
Magnus. Oh, why did I bother to change my stockings!
Halla. You can take a horse. (A dog is heard barking.) There! we shall have company.
Kari (rising). I 'll run up there.
Halla. You have your trout nets to look after. I know Magnus won't mind.
Magnus. Confound those cows! Why can't they come home in time! (Puts on his shoes.)
(Kari pulls out a small box from under the bed and begins to whittle teeth for a rake.)
Arnes puts his head in at the door; he carries a large bag.
Arnes. Good evening! I did not want to trouble any one to come to the outside door. (Drops his bag on the floor.) Now Arnes is rich—there 's gold sand in my bag.
Halla. I dare say there is.
Arnes. You people don't know what lies hidden in the hills. I have heard of a man who lost his way in Surt's Cave. For days he walked underground, and when at last he came up he had gold sand in his shoes.
Halla. What would you do if that were really gold in your bag?
Arnes. Then Arnes would do many things. You should help yourself to all your hands could hold, and as many times as you have given me shelter, and Arngrim the leper should also fill his fists. I know of no one else to whom I care to do good.
Gudfinna. And should I have nothing?
Arnes. I would give you new, long ear-locks of gold.':. .
Magnus (laughing). Some little gift you 'd surely have for the bailiff—no?
Arnes. For him? Yes, if I could throw the sand into his eyes. (Opens the bag and takes out a handful of Iceland mosses They are fine, these lichens, and taste good when you cook them in milk.
Gudfinna (rising and muttering to herself). The milk!
Arnes (holding up a handful). See how big they are.
Halla. Yes, they are fine.
Arnes (patting the bag). And it is well stuffed, too.
Enter the Boy.
The Boy. Now you can milk the sheep.
Halla. You are not through yet, poor boy. You will have to go down along the creek and look for the cows.
The Boy. I hope they 're not up to new tricks and begin to stay out nights. . [Exit.
Halla (calling after him). Take a drink of milk in the pantry; the key is in the door. (Magnus rises slowly.)
Arnes. Are you going to buy my bag?
Halla. If you make the price right.
Arnes. You ought to have it for nothing—you've given me shelter and good food so often. (Lifts his foot.) What I need most just now is to get something on my feet.
Halla. I don't think we shall quarrel about the price. (To Magnus.) Take it out into the kitchen.
[Exit Magnus with the bag.
Halla. Will you not sit down? I 'll go and find you a .bitd to eat. [Exit.
Arnes (following her with his eyes). That woman has a ] kind heart. (Sits down.) How long have you been working here on the farm?
Kari. This is my second year.
Arnes. And overseer already ? Yes, some folks have luck. (Leans toward him.) As you may know, I haven't a very good name. I can't settle down very long at any one place, and it comes hard for me to be anybody's servant. You must surely have heard me spoken of as a thief?
Kari. People will say so many things.
Arnes [passing his hand over his ears). My ears are not marked yet, but somehow it sticks to you like dust—what people say—no matter whether it is true or not. Have you ever been the target for gossipy tales?
Kari (slowly). Not that I know of.
Arnes. Then you have it coming to you. Shall I tell you what they are saying about you in these parts?
Kari. Is it about me and Halla?
Arnes. I have heard that too, but this story is about yourself.
Kari. I would rather be spared listening to gossip.
Arnes. If I had been quite sure that it was nothing but gossip, I should not have opened my mouth about it.
Kari (laughing coldly). You are at least frank.
Arnes (rising). It is all the same to me, but if you have anything to hide, you had better keep your eyes and ears open, for you have an enemy, that much I can tell you.
Kari. I don't know that I have harmed any one around here.
Arnes. You live and fill your place. That is enough to make enemies.