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for a wife. You are healthy and strong of body, and you are good-looking. What answer do you give?

Halla. I must have some time to think it over. This comes upon me unawares. Within three days you shall have my answer. Are you satisfied with that?

Bjørn. I think it is but natural that you should want some time to make up your mind, and all the more as we have not always been the best of friends. Perhaps you will now more readily understand why I did not wish you to have a thief as overseer of your farm, and I am sorry to say that my distrust was well founded. (Pulls from his pocket a letter with a large seal.) This letter came yesterday.

Halla (holding out her hand). May I see it?

Bjørn. It is an official letter, which I do not like to give out of my hands, but I am not afraid to trust you with it. (Halla takes the letter; reads.) I can lend you one of my men to drive your sheep home this evening, for you will have to do without your overseer. It is lucky that the judge is here to-day.

Halla. I shall keep this letter.
Bjørn. I can understand a joke.

Halla. Kari has been with me for more than a year. He has been a hard worker and an able man. I will not have any one lay hands on him so long as he is in my service. I want to give him a chance to get away. That is what you yourself advised, three months ago.

Bjørn. At that time the case was very different. There was no proof of his guilt then.

Halla (putting her hand to her forehead). I can't believe yet that he is a thief. (Hands the letter to Bjørn.) Bjørn, I beg of you to show me a great favor. You must let this matter rest, till we get home.

Bjørn. In that I cannot serve you.
Halla. Perhaps I can do something for you in return.

Bjørn. I don't understand how you can pity a felon and a thief.

Halla. Nor do I understand it myself, but somehow I do. You have just asked me if I would be your wife. Surely you will grant me the first thing I ask of you!

Bjørn. One would think you were pleading for your best friend.

Halla. I may have cared more for him than I knew myself. If you will let him get away, I shall have no objection to making our two farms into one.

Bjørn. I never thought your overseer would be the means of my getting you for a wife, but I yield on those terms. Once we are married, you will surely forget him. But he must be gone from here within twenty-four hours, and I want you to know that if he ever shows himself in these parts again, he will have to take his punishment.

Halla. You need have no fear that he will ever come back here.

Bjørn. Then let us forget all about him. You have saved him from jail for a time, but he's sure to end there any way. (Goes to her.) Who would have thought that you should become my little wife! (Tries to put his arm around her waist.)

Halla (draws back). So many things happen that we do not look for.

Enter Kari. Bjørn. You are just in time. It will surely please you to hear that your mistress is to marry me within a short time.

Kari (turning to Halla). What does this mean?

Bjørn (laughing). You had n't expected this. (Goes to Halla.) My sweetheart might give me a kiss.

· Halla (warding him off). No, no!

Kari (grasping Bjørn's arm). That man lies! She is mine. (T. Halla.) If you two get married to-morrow, still you are mine. Bjørn. Has my brother's wife become a harlot?

[Exit. Halla. What have you done, Kari? It was to save you I promised to be his wife. I hoped to get a chance to speak to you. He has the letter and is going to give you up to the judge to-day.

Kari. I could not bear that man to touch you.
Halla. You must run for the horses and fee!

Kari. That would be madness. The others have just as good horses. We must take what comes. I shall deny everything.

Halla. What good would that do? It is impossible to mistake the description. I have read it myself.

Kari. Did you really mean to marry the bailiff to save my life?

Halla. I lied to him, so that I could fee with you. I hate him.

Kari. I love you, Halla.

Halla (in rising fear). What shall we do? (Wrings her hands.) It is all my fault for holding you back. (On the point of weeping.) I am an unhappy woman.

Kari. You must not cry. Even if I faced the death warrant, I should not be sorry that I stayed. (Kisses her hands.) These summer days we have had together — in all eternity no one can take them from us.

Halla (withdraws her hands excitedly). Don't you know of any way? Say that the bailiff is your enemy and has had the letter framed up.

· Kari. You know yourself that it would be no use. (Goes to her.) I believe it is God's will that you should not flee with me. I have told you how beautiful it can be in the hills, but all the terrors I have not told you of — the sandstorms, when the whole plain seems to be on fire, the nights as long as a whole winter, and the hunger stealing close to you like an evil mist. You might have come to hate me.

Halla. I will hear nothing of all that. (Under her breath in terror.) They are coming! Enter Bjørn and the District Judge, followed by a crowd of peasants and farm hands. Others come in as the action proceeds.

Bjørn (pointing). There stands the man.

The Judge (goes to Kari). You say your name is Kari. (Shows the letter.) According to this letter, your name is Eyvind, and you are an escaped thief.

Kari. That is a lie.

Bjørn. Read the letter. (The Judge gives him a sharp look. He opens the letter and reads to himself, now and then raising his eyes from the letter to Kari's face.)

A Peasant (in a low voice). What does the judge say ?

Bjørn. In the early spring, a man came here who knew him (pointing) as an escaped thief. I wrote to have the case looked up, and yesterday I got the answer.

The Judge. The description fits you. It is my duty under the law to take you into custody. (Murmuring among the peasants.)

First Peasant. I never should have believed it.

Kari. It is the bailiff to whom this letter was sent. May I be allowed to ask where it came from?

· Bjørn. From the southland where you were born.

Kari. I was born in the east and have never been south.
Bjørn. Will the judge look at the seal?

The Judge. The seal is correct. (To Halla.) He is in your service. Have you found this man to be a thief?

Halla. No. He has shown himself a trustworthy and an able man. (To the people.) Don't you believe, as I do, that Kari is innocent?

The Crowd (murmuring). Yes, yes!

The Judge. I cannot judge this case. I must send him to the district where Eyvind's home is. (To Halla.) Can you vouch for him a few days? At present I cannot well spare two men for the journey.

Halla. I am not afraid to do that.

Bjørn. It seems to me unwise to set a woman to watch a thief. If the judge wishes it, I will take him into safekeeping myself.

Halla. Does the bailiff think he can give counsel to the judge? I offer my farm as surety for Kari.

The Judge (interrupting Bjørn, who is about to reply). Silence! (To Halla.) Then you are responsible. [Exit.

Bjørn. I must say that the former judge was not wont to delay the law.

Halla (to the peasants). You came here to listen to false charges, but you shall have a better pastime. You shall see the bailiff himself play at glima with the man he calls thief.

Bjørn. You must be crazy! I won't touch him.

Halla. My dear brother-in-law made me a promise last spring that he would wrestle with Kari here at the folds. It was a wager, and now he is backing out of it. What do you say to that?

Bjørn. An honest man does not play with a thief.

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