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Sølvi (lowering his voice). Do you never go for a walk by yourself in the hraun?
Ljot. Why do you ask?
Sølvi. You know the pretty spot by the old roan tree; it is not more than a good ten minutes' walk from here. I thought perhaps you might go there sometimes on Sundays.
Ljot (blushes). I don't know. Sølvi. I shall be there all day Sunday. Good-bye, Ljot. Ljot (confused ). Good-bye.
Sølvi. I shall be there at sunrise, and I shall be there when the sun goes down.
[Exit to the left. Enter Sveinungi, hurriedly. Sveinungi. Who was it that went just now? Indridi. Is he gone? It was Sølvi. Sveinungi. What did he want here? Indridi. He got a cup of milk.
Sveinungi (to Ljot). It seemed to me he was talking to you. What have you there?
Ljot. He gave me a bird's skin.
Sveinungi. Pshaw! You should have made him keep it himself.
Ljot. There was no harm meant.
Sveinungi. Einar could have brought you down one just like it, if you had cared for it. Why are you blushing so?
Ljot. I did not think you would be so angry because I took the bird's skin.
Sveinungi. I can't bear him, that stone-picker! He roves from place to place like a tramp. Let him dare to set his nets for you! Give me the creature, and I'll hand it back to him next time he comes; for he's sure to come.
Ljot. I can burn it myself, if you grudge me the keeping it.
[Goes in. Sveinungi (talking in the doorway). And then you get angry to boot. (To Indridi.) I see you have undone all the strappings.
Enter Helgi from the left. Sveinungi. There he comes. Then you can do what I told you.
· [Goes in. Helgi. Anything amiss? The master seemed cross. Indridi. That's nothing. Helgi. Is Sølvi gone?
Indridi. Yes. Let's get through with this. You go into the storehouse and take the things as I hand them to you.
[They carry the breadstuffs into the storehouse.
Einar appears in the door of the smithy. Einar. H'm, I feel I 'm getting old. There was a time when I could forge three nails in one heating, and now it's a hard rub getting through with one.
Indridi. We can't be young more than once.
Einar. And we can't cast the slough of old age, as they could once upon a time.
Indridi. Would you care to?
Einar. I don't know. I almost think these new times are not for me.
Enter Frida. Frida. Einar, I was to call you to breakfast. (Runs against Sveinungi, who is coming out.)
Sveinungi. There, there! Why, you have brought it all under cover and the ropes in the shed. That 's fine. Now, Helgi, when you have eaten, you can go and begin to cut turf. The others will join you when they have had their sleep. (Lowering his voice.) Einar, will you ask Ljot to come out? I want to have a little talk with her. Einar. I will.
[Einar and Frida go in. (Sveinungi locks the drying-shed and looks into the storehouse, pretending to be very busy.)
Enter Ljot from the house.
Sveinungi. I did not hear you. (Smiles.) You step as lightly as a young foal. You are not hurt at what I said a moment ago? It was only for your own good. I won't have any shiftless straggler around here making eyes at you. The parish can gossip about something else. (Ljot goes to the
fence, resting her hands on it.) But that was not what I wanted to talk to you about. (Goes to her.) You know Arne, the farmer at Skrida. You have seen his son Halfdan. What do you think of him?
Ljot. I have seen him only a few times.
Sveinungi. There are two brothers. The older one is married and is going to take the farm, but Halfdan is most like his father. You should see the way their place is kept. Their yard is nearly as big as this, and there are long stretches where the grass stands so high that it falls over. It's as fine a sight as I have ever seen. We stopped there, Jorunn and I, for a full hour, on our way back from town, and there was no lack of welcome. Can you guess what we talked about?
Sveinungi (laughs). You can't? Arne asked me whether I would have his son Halfdan for a son-in-law.
Ljot. And what did you say?
Sveinungi. I said I had nothing against it— quite the contrary. I should be content if you had a husband like him, and we are getting old, your mother and I. We don't know when death may strike us. It may come at any time, and I should like to see the man who is to take my place when I am gone.
Ljot. I don't think you are getting old.
Sveinungi. Oh, yes, I feel it. Sometimes when I want to use this or that for my work I find that I have clean forgotten where I put it. That could never have happened when I was young; there was not a thing that slipped my mind. But what do you say, Ljot? Your mother thinks as I do, so it lies solely with you whether you will accept this happiness or not.
Ljot. I don't think I care for that happiness.
Sveinungi. You should weigh your words well before you speak. Perhaps you fancy there will be a wooer like Halfdan coming every day. But you don't mean that; you only mean that he must come and speak for himself.
Ljot. I am so young, father.
Sveinungi. You are past nineteen. There are many girls who marry at seventeen, and you have been so well taught that you can readily take your place at the head of a household. I need not be ashamed of you there, that 's sure. And you will have your mother near you, for it is understood, of course, that you and Halfdan stay here with us. You will have your bridal now in the fall, and next spring you can take over the farm.
Ljot. But I scarcely know him at all!
Sveinungi. Your mother did not know me, and I can't see but that we two have lived happily together all these years. It is not always those who marry for what they call love who are happiest. Arne and I are friends from old times, and I have as good as given him my word.
Enter Jorunn from the house. Ljot (straightening herself ). You should not have done that without speaking to me.
Sveinungi. What has come over you? Do you mean to go right against the will of your parents? I can tell you one thing, if it is this tramp you are thinking of, it shall never come to pass. Not as long as I live.
[Goes in. forunn. Your father was angry. What were you talking about?
Ljot. He wants me to marry a man I don't know.
Jorunn. Does he? You cannot say of Halfdan that he is a man you don't know.
Ljot. We have never spoken a word to each other.
Jorunn. Yet he has been here several times. Once he stayed overnight. Besides you have heard him spoken of, and you know his people. Everybody knows the Hofstad people.
Ljot. Father has given his word without asking me. He had no right to do that.
Jorunn. You have worked yourself up, Ljot. I don't understand you. Can it really be that you have promised yourself to some one without letting your parents know
Ljot. I have not.
Jorunn. You need not hide anything from me. If you have given your word, you must keep it.