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makes me think of the head of a dead horse. (Reaches out his arms.) May I feel of your hair if it does n't all come out?

Halla. Don't touch me!

Kari (lets his arms fall. An expression of sadness comes into his voice). I thought you were the only one who understood that I could not help what I did. Neither could you help what you have done, and yet you are bringing my misdeeds up against me.

Halla. Never before have I upbraided you for this, but you put the whole blame on me.

Kari. And you said it in such a hard tone. It was as if you struck me with stones.

Halla. My voice was no harder than yours.

Kari. It's becoming in you to chide me, as if you had not yourself urged me to steal many a time!

Halla. Since we became outlawed we have had a right to steal. We had to do it to keep from starving.

Kari. I thought you had forgiven me, and then you have been hoarding your charges. For sixteen years you have kept them, and they have not been corrupted either by rust or moth.

Halla. Come now, don't be angry, Kari. I said it in the heat of temper.

Kari. I am not angry, but it hurt so! I thought that you would be my spokesman before the Great Judge. If you could forgive me, He might do it, too.

Halla. I did not mean to hurt you. I only said it to defend myself.

Kari ( following up his own thoughts). There are stones in the hills that are blood-stained from my feet; you must gather those and bring them before the Great Judge.

Halla. Won't you take to weeping, so I can gather up your tears and bring them before the Great Judge?

Kari. Are you mocking me?

Halla. Yes; I won't listen to your whining any longer. Now we shall sit down and hold our peace. (Sits down.)

Kari. You shall not be worried by my whining. (Takes the fur socks down from the wall; sits down and unties the straps of his shoes. Halla watches him in silence, while he puts on one sock.)

Halla. Are you going?
Kari. Yes.
Halla. You don't ask my advice?
Kari. No, this time I don't ask it.

Halla (rising). When you go out of that door, you need not think of me any more.

Kari. I know your voice when you are angry. You ought to thank me for going out in such weather.

Halla. Yes, you are brave. It is not that you have any hope of saving our lives. You will only lie down in the snow and die.

Kari. You can believe it if you like.

Halla (goes to him). I beg of you, let those hard words be forgotten.

Kari. It is not because of them that I am going. The worst that can befall me is to die in the snow, and that is better than sitting here.

Halla. First of all, we must use our common sense. The only thing we can do is to wait here until the weather clears.

Kari. And then the food will come flying in through the door!

Halla. Not that, but there will be means of help. We can dig up roots to still the worst hunger, and we can go to the lake for fish.

Kari. The snowstorm may last four or five days yet, and by that time we shall be dead from hunger.

Halla. How long shall you be gone?
Kari. Two days at the most.

Halla (goes to him and touches his shoulder). I beg you to stay for my sake! We have lived together for sixteen years, and now let us also die together.

Kari. I know your way of hiding your will. Now it is your will that I should stay, but this time you are foiled.

Halla. You cared for me when I Aled with you to the hills. You told me there was no one like me in all the world. You carried me across the streams, until I grew strong enough to ford them myself. You risked your life to get the things you knew I liked. Have you forgotten?

Kari. I have forgotten nothing.

Halla. And all the nights we slept with the heavens above us! Was it not blessed to feel the morning breeze over your face and to open your eyes and look into the blue sky? Then you kissed me and said that you loved me.

Kari. You shall not stop me from going.

Halla (turns away from him). I know why I have this fear of being alone. It is because I am so far away from every living thing, and there's no sun and no stream here. (Turns toward him.) If we feel that we must die, you can close the smoke-hole, and I will fill the hut with smoke. We shall lie down side by side. (Touches his hand.) I will take your hand, and we shall dream that we are going out into a sand-storm together.

Kari (harshly). Now leave me in peace.

Halla (in helpless fear). I will tell you the truth. I don't dare to be alone.

Kari. Are you afraid of the dark?

Halla. When you are gone, I know I shall begin to listen. I know what I shall hear.

Kari. What do you hear?

Halla. I hear the sound of a great heavy waterfall. I hear the screams of my child. You must not leave me.

Kari (turns away). You spare me nothing; you make my going as hard as can be.

Halla. I forbid you to go! It's inhuman to leave me here alone. If you ever come back, you will find me a mad beast.

Kari. Now you shall keep still. I will not listen to your whining any longer.

Halla. You are like all the rest. When your will is set, you have no heart. (Sits down silently.)

Kari (fastens his foot-gear; ties a rope around his waist). When I draw it tight enough, I don't feel that I am hungry. (Puts on a coat of heavy fur.) You must watch the fire and not let it go out. I'll bring you some more faggots from the wood-shed.

Halla (stands up; her voice is husky). Better kill me before you go. (Bares her breast.) Stab me with your knife— right here! I won't scream. (Shuts her eyes.) I shall think I am nursing my child, and the little teeth are biting my breast.

Kari. Have you gone mad?

Halla. You have n't the heart, but you have the heart to let me sit here all alone. A wretched little train-oil lamp you would put out before you went; you could not bear to let it burn over nothing. (Sits down.)

Kari (stands silent a long time). I have been guilty of many a bad deed, but so far as I know, I have never been cruel. Nor will I be cruel to you. (Takes off his coat.) Then we shall wait together as you wish. Does that make you feel happier?

Halla. I don't know. I can feel neither joy nor grief any longer. I think I would rather be alone.

Kari. You don't mean that.
Halla. If you think it wiser to go, you must do so.
Kari. I thought it would make you glad if I stayed.

Halla (rising). If you had taken me in your arms and told me that you loved me with all my wretchedness and all my homeliness, that would have made me glad; but you did not.

Kari. Yet you know it was for your sake I stayed.

Halla. Are you so sure of that? Perhaps you were afraid that you might be guilty of a wrong deed. I think you had in mind the Great Judge rather than me.

Kari. I have once been judged by men; that is why I so often think of the last judgment.

Halla. I will have no talk of conscience between you and me. Be yourself with me, whether you are good or bad. After all, you don't know if the Great Judge looks kindly at what you call good deeds. Look at me! Look at me! You could not be more cruel to your worst enemy. Why was I given this hunger and not the food to still it? I have never wished to be born. I would rather be anything else than a human being. I would rather be the sand, whirling aimlessly over yonder waste. If there is a God, He must be cruel — but there is no God.

Kari. You are only lashing yourself up. You ought rather to humble yourself and pray God to help both you and me. Without Him we are but dust and ashes.

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