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Gudfinna. Don't speak of them! They are the worst monsters in the world—except, perhaps, the skoffin.
The Boy. What is a skoffin? • Gudfinna. Don't you know that? When a rooster gets to be very old, he lays an egg, and if that 's hatched, it becomes a skoffin. It kills a man by just looking at him, and the only thing that can slay it is a church-blessed silver bullet. Indeed, there are many things you have to be careful of, my child. Are you not afraid of the outlaws? They're not good, those fellows; they go about in skins with the wool on them and carry long sticks with ice-spurs, and that at midsummer. Have you ever seen anything of them?
The Boy. No, but yesterday I pretty near got scared. There came a man with a big bag under his arm. I did n't know him at first, but it was only Arnes. Gudfinna. And what did he want of you?
The Boy. He asked me to show him the way to a spring. He was thirsty.
Gudfinna. You had better not have too much talk with him. (Hands him the shoes.) There! Now they will last till to-morrow anyway. (Kneels down, pulls out a box, and examines its contents.)
Enter Halla from her chamber. Halla. It is time for the sheep to be milked.
The Boy. I am going now to drive them home. I was waiting for my shoes.
Halla. Have you seen anything of the cows to-day?
The Boy. No. (To Oddny.) When I get rich I'll give you a cow's tail to tie up your plaits with. Oddny. Hold your tongue!
[Exit the Boy. Halla (smiling). I heard him teasing you a while ago.
Oddny. He's forever pestering me about Kari—as if I cared!
Halla (with a little laugh). Well, Sigrid does n't take such good care of Magnus's clothes as you of Kari's. [Exit.
Oddny (is silent for a moment and looks at the door). If I were a widow and owned a farm, the men would be noticing me too, even if I had been nothing but a poor orphan servant girl before I married — like some others.,
Gudfinna (rising, a pair of stockings in her hand). What are you talking about? (Pushes the box under the bed.)
Oddny. Do you know who was Halla's father?
Gudfinna. That is what no one seems to know. Some would have it that he was a parson. (She darns the stockings.)
Oddny. Yes, or a vagabond. There were also some ugly whispers about a stain on her birth.
Gudfinna. You'd better bridle your tongue!
Oddny. I am not so dull as you imagine. When Halla thinks no one is looking, she does n't take her eyes from Kari. And she has made him overseer; that seems queer to others besides me. Last Sunday at church some one asked me if there was anything between the widow and the “overseer.”
Gudfinna. And what did you say? - Oddny. I told them that it was quite possible Halla had her lines out for him, but that I did not think Kari would swallow the fly, even if it had gold on its wings.
Gudfinna. Much good it did you, the gospel you heard in church! I am sorry for you, poor girl! You are crazy about a man who has neither eye nor ear for you, but that is no reason why you should be running around spreading gossip. Halla is not the kind of woman that is fond of men. There was never a harsh word between her and her 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 few 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.
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.
Gud finna (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). Are n't you wet, too?
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 could n't stand against.
Magnus. And who is that? (Sigrid pulls at his stockings.) There! There!
Oddny. Bjørn, 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.)
Enter Halla. 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.