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(Halla comes back and listens.)
Second Peasant. I don't know about that, but those who flee to the hills do it from need. If the laws were milder, I believe there would be no outlaws. What do you say, Arngrim?
Arngrim. If we were all to be judged by our thoughts, the hills would be swarming with outlaws.
Halla. It is too light yet to be talking about thieves. Can't you tell us something funny?
Fon's Wife. Tell about our calf.
Yon (laughing). When he saw the sun for the first time in his life, he fell down on his tail from fright.
Enter Arnes, somewhat intoxicated. Yon. There comes the man who can tell us stories. (Rises and goes to meet him.)
Arnes. Good day to you all! So you want a story?
Jon. You shall have a drink if you tell us a story, but it must be a good one.
Arnes. Hand me the bottle. (Drinks.) I could tell you some spook stories that would make your hair stand on end, but they are better told in the gloaming. (Laughs.) The girls are less afraid of us men folks when they hear about spooks.
Jon (laughing). Yes, of two evils men are better than spooks.
Arnes (sees Halla). Now I know what I shall tell you. Hush! Once upon a time there were two outlaws. What their crime had been I don't know, but they had to fee to the hills to save their lives. They found a green spot among the glaciers, hemmed in by huge rocks. There they built their hut, for there they knew they would be left in
peace. But the hills were hankering for their old loneliness and hated those two, and swore they would drive them away. First they sent the storms and the frost. There came a winter night so terrible that the roots of the grass trembled with fear under the snow, but unknown to those two their love had built an invisible wall around the hut, and the storm and the snow could not get in. Then the hills sent hunger. It came to them in their dreams, tempting them with sweet-smelling hot bread and butter fresh from the churn. It would have them barter their love
Enter a Farm Hand.
The Farm Hand. There is a sheep with earmarks that nobody can make out. Will you come over and take a look at it?
Arnes (rising). No peace to be had!
Halla (holding out her hand to Arnes). Thanks for the story.
[Arnes takes Halla's hand. Exit. The Farm Hand (to Jon). Your brown bell-wether ran away from the men as they were trying to drive it in.
Jon (rising). That promises a fine fall. (All the peasants rise.)
Jon's Wife (to Halla). We shall see each other later.
[Exeunt peasants. Gudfinna. They have not been sparing of the shark's meat. (Packs it away.)
Enter Kari, warm from running, happy and smiling.
Halla (has gone to meet Kari). Good day to you, and welcome back!
Arngrim (rising). Now I am so drunk that I can enjoy listening to the bleating of the sheep. By the way, washing with lukewarm milk is good for freckles. [Exit.
Halla. Thanks! (To Gudfinna.) You may go now, if you like. You have been here with the luggage long enough.
[Exit Gudfinna. (Halla and Kari stand silent until Gudfinna has disappeared. Then Kari draws her to him and kisses her.)
Halla. I would rather wait for you here than meet you at the fold. I was so frightened! I thought you had gone and would never come back. (Takes his hand and looks at him in loving wonder.) Where do you get your courage? I can't understand that you have not Aed long ago.
Kari. I will tell you where I get my courage. (Kisses her.) I don't know how the days can be so gloriously long. It seems to me that I have lived more than the age of man since the first time you kissed me.
Halla. You love me!
Halla. You don't know how much that one word promises me. It means the sunshine on the hills. It means the streams and lakes. Shall I tell you something, Kari? Something you don't know?
Kari. What could that be?
Halla. I am not going to say it just now, but I will tell you something else. I care a thousand times more for you now than I did three months ago. Do you know why?
Halla. Because you are so brave. You sleep in my arms as calmly as if you had not a foe in the whole country.
Kari (smiling). I must have borrowed your courage.
Halla. It is dear to see you smile. Your hair is like a cloud, and when you smile it seems to lift from your forehead..
Kari. You must not make me out braver than I am. Part of my courage is recklessness. I close my eyes and let the sun shine on my face.
Halla. Do you never think of the future?
Halla. I have blamed myself much these last days. I ought to have sent you away long ago, but I could not. I had to be sure that you loved me. Last night I heard the hills calling you, and I called against them with all my soul. If you had never come back, I would have forgiven you, though it had broken my heart. (Exultantly.) And then I saw you coming down the mountain like a god, driving a white snowslide before you!
Kari. Did you think I could have gone without letting you know? I remember once you had fallen asleep in my arms. The night was light. Your eyes were closed, but I could see through your eyelids. I saw a little girl with black hair. (Fondly stroking her hair.)
Halla (taking his right hand). How well I know this hand! (Lays it on her heart.) My heart beats with joy.
Kari. I am like the man in the fairy-tale who fell down into a deep well. He thought he would never again see the sun, but suddenly he stood in a green meadow. There was a tall castle, and the king's daughter came out to meet him. Halla, do you understand? If I had not stolen, we two should never have met.
Halla. That is true. · .
Kari. The year I lived in the hills, I would sometimes get into such a rage that I wanted to give myself a good
thrashing. Once I really did it-I beat myself with a knotted rope.
Halla. How you must have suffered!
Kari. If anybody had told me in those days that I should ever become a happy man, I would have laughed at him. Then I believed riches and honors meant happiness. I used to dream of riding through the parish where I was born, dressed in fine clothes and with many horses.
Halla (laughing). I did not know you were vain.
Kari. Nor am I any more, but I have grown stingy. The minutes are my gold-pieces. (Takes her hand.) When I hold your hand in mine, I am happy. Before I cared for you, I did not see the sun shining, and now when it rains, all the drops prattle about you.
Halla. You do love me!
Kari. I seem to be in a church. I hold a torch in my hand and light one taper after another. For every taper that is lighted, the church grows larger and more beautiful/But I am a thief. If I am caught I must be buried alive, and now the church-bells are ringing. I hear the crowd gathering outside.
Halla. You frighten me.
Kari(taking her face between his hands). I must have a long look at your face. If I were to become blind this moment, I should always remember it. Your soul is in your eyes. When you look at me, I feel an unseen hand fondling my face. Whenever the sun shines, I shall see your eyes. It is hard to tell you, but when the sky grows red to-morrow, 1 shall be on my way to the hills. I must flee this very night.
Halla. I knew it. (Sits down.) Tell me how you have planned your Aight.
Kari. I must be off before the winter sets in, and besides the letter from the south may be here any day now.