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style!” And the French critic, Leon Pineau, concludes a long account of Sigurjónsson's production with the following estimate of Eyvind of the Hills: “In this drama there is no haze of fantasy, no bold and startling thesis, not even a new theory of art—nothing but poetry; not the poetry of charming and fallacious words, not that of lulling rhythm, nor of dazzling imagery which causes forgetfulness, but the sublimely powerful poetry which creates being of flesh and blood like ourselves—to whom Jóhann Sigurjónsson has given of his own soul.”
Written by the author in a language not his by birth, this rock-ribbed tragedy of the strong and simple passions of Iceland lends itself peculiarly to international interpretation. It is with some curiosity, therefore, as well as satisfaction, that we introduce to English readers a young representative of the renaissance of Icelandic literature. How will he be judged by our countrymen, and what will be his place, if any, upon the American stage?
H. G. L.
New York, June 1, 1916.
Halla (pronounced Hadla), a well-to-do widow.
Kari (pronounced Kowri), overseer on Halla's farm. · BJØRN, Halld's brother-in-law, farmer and bailiff.
ARNEs, a vagrant laborer.
Halla's servants. A Shepherd Boy) ARNGRIM, a leper. A District Judge. Tota, a child of three years. Peasants, peasant women, and farm-hands. The action takes place in Iceland in the middle of the eighteenth century. The story of the two principal characters is founded on historical events. Halla's nature is moulded on a Danish woman's soul.
A " badstofa” or servants' hall. Along each side-wall, a row of bedsteads with bright coverlets of knitted wool. Between the bedsteads, a narrow passageway. On the right, the entrance, which is reached by a staircase. On the left, opposite the entrance, a dormer-window with panes of bladder. On the right, over the bedsteads, a similar window. Long green blades of grass are visible through the panes. In the centre back a door opens into Halld's bed-chamber, which is separated from the “badstofa” by a thin board partition. A small table-leaf is attached by hinges to the partition. A copper train-oil lamp is fastened in the doorcase. Over the nearest bedsteads a cross-beam runs at a man's height from the floor; from this to the roof-tree is half of a man's height. Under the window stands a painted chest. Carved wooden boxes are pushed in under the bedsteads. The “badstofa” is old, the woodwork blackened by age and soot.
It is early spring, a late afternoon. Gudfinna and Oddny are sitting on the beds facing each other, Gudfinna mending shoes, Oddny putting patches on a coat. The Shepherd Boy is standing in the middle of the room, throwing a dart adorned with red cock's feathers. The costumes are old Icelandic.
The Boy (throws his dart). Ho! ho! I came pretty near hitting her that time!
Gudfinna. Hitting whom?
The Boy. Can't you see the little spider hanging down from the beam? I mean to shoot and break her thread.
Oddny. You are always up to some tomfoolery.
Gudfinna. Leave the poor creature in peace! It has done you no harm.
The Boy (laughing). Do you think she'd break her legs if she should happen to fall down on the floor?
Gudfinna. I won't have it! Destroying a spider's web is sure to bring bad luck, and you 'll end by tearing the window-pane with your dart.
The Boy. Kari has told me of a man who broke a bowstring with one shot, and that from way off. (Shoots.)
Gudfinna. If you don't stop, you shall wear your shoes with the holes in them.
The Boy (pulling the dart out of the beam). Would you rather have me shoot your ear-locks? Gudfinna. Are you crazy, lad? You might hit my eyes.
The Boy. I must have some kind of fun. I think I'll have a shot at Oddny's plaits.
Oddny. If you dare!
The Boy (laughing). If I have bad luck, you will look at Kari with only one eye.
Oddny. You need a good spanking.
The Boy (going to the spider, makes a fanning motion with his hand). Up, old spinning-woman, if you bode good! Down, if you bode ill! Up, if you bode good! Down, if you bode ill!
Gudfinna. You are awfully hard on your shoes, worse than a grown man. I hope you don't walk on the sharpest stones just for fun?
Oddny. Of course he does!
The Boy. The sheep were so restless to-day. Some of them came near slipping away from me.
Oddny. If they had, you would n't be riding such a high horse now!
Gudfinna. Have they been bad to you, laddie? Do you never feel timid when you are alone so much?
The Boy. Sometimes I keep thinking what I should do if a mad bull came tearing down the mountains.