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once. It welled out from a moss-covered hillock and ran
Enter Arnes, running.
Arnes. They 'll be here in a minute. I counted nine.
Kari. We stand no chance, three against nine. You must leave her with them. There they are! For God's sake, run! (Halla is on the point of running.)
Bjørn's voice ( full of bitter malice). Now catch the foxes!
Halla (startled, stops). It’s Bjørn! (A terrible expression as of madness darkens her features. She seizes Tota; her voice is harsh and unnatural.) The cub he shall not have!
Tota (frightened and sleepy). Mother!
Halla (runs sobbing to the gorge). Tota!Tota! Tota!(Disappears.)
Kari (who has remained inert and dumb with terror runs
(Kari seizes his knife and stabs Bjørn through the heart. Bjørn
falls dead. Kari and Halla flee. Bjørn's men enter, stand as though paralyzed at the sight of the slain man. Arnes goes slowly up to them.)
could hardly walk. (Plants hin. self in front of Halla.) If he stood there now, bodily, should you have strength enough to hold his feet for me?
Halla. I think I should
Kari. We should have to take care not to be too greedy. If we could only hold back the first two days, we might eat as much as we wanted afterward. (His mouth waters; he swallows saliva.) You have seen a butchered sheep hung up to dry in the wind; its flesh is as tender as a young girl's. I feel as though I could fondle it; I could bite it.
Halla. We have promised each other not to speak of food.
Kari. And how do you think the heart would taste smoking hot from the fire? I could swallow it in one mouthful. I should feel as if I had eaten, if I could only smell warm meat.
Halla. You will make me sick if you don't stop talking about food. Don't you think I am just as hungry as you are? And I hold my peace.
Kari. Yes, you hold your peace. (Puts down the knife.) If J I did not see your eyes, I should think you were dead,
and yet you are human and living like myself. Are you not? (Halla is silent.) Or perhaps you are a heathen image? Must I kneel down before you and pray for fine weather? Shall I build a fire before you and stain your feet with blood? What do you want?
Halla. I want to be left in peace.
Kari. You ought to be a tree, then you could wither in W peace. Why don't you cry out like every living thing that
suffers. You don't know how your calmness racks me. Even the trees cry and moan in the autumn gales — they wail!
ACT IV A small hut in the hills. Two large stones covered with skins serve as seats. The low bedstead is also covered with skins. On the wall hang some poor, clumsy tools. In the slanting roof, a small window is darkened with snow. On the hearth, a low fire. Outside, a snowstorm. Now and then, snow comes whirling down the smoke-hole.
Kari is pacing to and fro, beating his arms. Halla sits silent. They are both dressed in skins. Halla. Are you cold?
Kari. I don't know. (Halla rises and puts some faggots on the fire. Kari takes a stick from the wall; counts.) I need n't count the notches. This is the seventh day the snowstorm is raging without a break, and it is past Easter. How long do you think it can keep on?
Halla. It's no use asking me about it.
Kari (replaces the stick in the wall). If the walls were not frozen so hard, the storm would have torn down the hut long ago.
Halla. It is bound to stop sometime.
Kari. You think so? It's four years now since that terrible summer when the sun was red and dim from morning till night. (In secret awe.) There may come a summer when the sun does not rise at all.
Halla. It was the ashes that made the sun look so red that summer.
Kari. I could well live a whole summer without the sun, if I only had food. (Picks up a big knife.) This fellow has not tasted meat in a whole eternity. (A rapturous ring comes into his voice.) I remember a ram I once killed; he was so fat he X
Halla. I should wail too, if there was any one that could hear me.
Kari. I don't care whether anybody hears my screams or not. I'll scream; I'll yell. (Yells.)
Halla (stands up). Are you not ashamed of yourself?
Kari (in a weak voice). This cannot last. I should have gone long ago. I ought to have gone at once, the first day the food gave out, but you thought every day that the morrow would bring fine weather. I know you said it to soothe me, but it was not right.
Halla. It was no use going to certain death.
Kari. I should never be afraid of getting lost. If the snowstorm is ever so dark, I find my way.(Raises his hand.) I know where I am by trend of the wind.
Halla. If you were so sure of yourself, you ought indeed to have gone long ago.
Kari (hardening). You say that?
Kari. Take care! You have tempted me to stay day after day. Your believing and hoping palsied my will. You wormed your own fear into my heart and broke my courage. If we both die of hunger, the fault is yours, and yours alone.
Halla. Is it my fault?
Kari. You have lived in the hills for sixteen years, and you don't know them more than a child does. Perhaps you think the snowstorm will have pity? Won't you open the door and bid the snowstorm be still? Why don't you?
Halla. You say that it is my fault if we starve to death. Who was it that stole?
Kari (stands for a moment speechless). You are homely. I have never before seen how homely you are. Your face