Tilbake

Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen

ACT 1

SCENE 3

(The farm-place at Hegstad. In the background, the dwelling-house. A THRONG OF GUESTS. A lively dance in progress on the green. THE FIDDLER sits on a table. THE MASTER-COOK is standing in the doorway. COOKMAIDS are going to and fro between the different buildings. Groups of ELDERLY PEOPLE sit here and there, talking.)

A WOMAN

(joins a group that is seated on some logs of wood).

The bride? Oh yes, she is crying a bit;
but that, you know, isn't worth heeding.

THE MASTER-COOK

(in another group).

Now then, good folk, you must empty the barrel.

A MAN

Thanks to you, friend; but you fill up too quick.

A LAD

(to the FIDDLER as he flies past, holding A GIRL by the hand).

To it now, Guttorm, and don't spare the fiddlestrings!

THE GIRL

Scrape till it echoes out over the meadows!

OTHER GIRLS

(standing in a ring round a lad who is dancing).

That's a rare fling!

A GIRL

He has legs that can lift him!

THE LAD

(dancing)

. The roof here is high, and the walls wide asunder!

THE BRIDEGROOM

(comes whimpering up to his FATHER, who is standing talking with some other men, and twitches his jacket).

Father, she will not; she is so proud!

HIS FATHER

What won't she do?

THE BRIDEGROOM

She has locked herself in.

HIS FATHER

Well, you must manage to find the key.

THE BRIDEGROOM

I don't know how.

HIS FATHER

You're a nincompoop!

(Turns away to the others. The BRIDEGROOM drifts across the yard.)

A LAD

(comes from behind the house).

Wait a bit, girls! Things 'll soon be lively!
Here comes Peer Gynt.

THE SMITH

(who has just come up)

.

Who invited him?

THE MASTER-COOK

No one.

(Goes towards the house.)

THE SMITH

(to the girls).

If he should speak to you, never take notice!

A GIRL

(to the others).

No, we'll pretend that we don't even see him.

PEER GYNT

(comes in heated and full of animation, stops right in front of the group, and claps his hands).

Which is the liveliest girl of the lot of you?

A GIRL

(as he approaches her).

I am not.

ANOTHER

(similarly).

I am not.

A THIRD

No; nor I either.

PEER

(to a fourth).

You come along, then, for want of a better.

THE GIRL

Haven't got time.

PEER

(to a fifth).

Well then, you!

THE GIRL

(going).

I'm for home.

PEER

To-night? are you utterly out of your senses?

THE SMITH

(after a moment, in a low voice). See, Peer, she's taken a greybeard for partner.

PEER

(turns sharply to an elderly man).

Where are the unbespoke girls?

THE MAN

Find them out.

(Goes away from him.)

(PEER GYNT has suddenly become subdued. He glances shyly and furtively at the group. All look at him, but no one speaks. He approaches other groups. Wherever he goes there is silence; when he moves away, they look after him and smile.)

PEER

(to himself).

Mocking looks; needle-keen whispers and smiles.
They grate like a sawblade under the file!

(He slinks along close to the fence. SOLVEIG, leading little HELGA by the hand, comes into the yard, along with her PARENTS.)

THE MAN

(to another, close to PEER GYNT).

Look, here are the new folk.

THE OTHER

The ones from the west?

THE FIRST MAN

Ay, the people from Hedal.

THE OTHER

Ah yes, so they are.

PEER

(places himself in the path of the new-comers, points to SOLVEIG, and asks the FATHER:)

May I dance with your daughter?

THE FATHER

(quietly).

You may so; but first
we must go to the farm-house and greet the good people.

(They go in.)

THE MASTER-COOK

(Talking to PEER GYNT, offering him drink).

Since you are here, you'd best take a pull at the liquor.

PEER

(looking fixedly after the new-comers).

Thanks; I'm for dancing; I am not athirst.

(The MASTER-COOK goes away from him. PEER GYNT gazes towards the house and laughs.)

How fair! Did ever you see the like?
Looked down at her shoes and her snow-white-apron-!
And then she held on to her mother's skirt-folds,
and carried a psalm-book wrapped up in a kerchief-!
I must look at that girl.

(Going into the house.)

A LAD

(coming out of the house, with several others).

Are you off so soon, Peer,
from the dance?

PEER

No, no.

THE LAD

Then you're heading amiss!

(Takes hold of his shoulder to turn him round.)

PEER

Let me pass!

THE LAD

I believe you're afraid of the smith.

PEER

I afraid!

THE LAD

You remember what happened at Lunde?

(They go off, laughing, to the dancing-green.)

SOLVEIG

(in the doorway of the house).

Are you not the lad that was wanting to dance?

PEER

Of course it was me; don't you know me again?

(Takes her hand.)

Come, then!

SOLVEIG

We mustn't go far, mother said.

PEER

Mother said! Mother said! Were you born yesterday?

SOLVEIG

Now you're laughing-!

PEER

Why sure, you are almost a child.
Are you grown up?

SOLVEIG

I read with the pastor last spring.

PEER

Tell me your name, lass, and then we'll talk easier.

SOLVEIG

My name is Solveig. And what are you called?

PEER

Peer Gynt.

SOLVEIG

(withdrawing her hand).

Oh heaven!

PEER

Why, what is it now?

SOLVEIG

My garter is loose; I must tie it up tighter. (Goes away from him.)

THE BRIDEGROOM

(pulling at his MOTHER'S gown).

Mother, she will not-!

HIS MOTHER

She will not? What?

THE BRIDEGROOM

She won't, mother-

HIS MOTHER

What?

THE BRIDEGROOM

Unlock the door.

HIS FATHER

(angrily, below his breath). Oh, you're only fit to be tied in a stall!

HIS MOTHER

Don't scold him. Poor dear, he'll be all right yet.

(They move away.)

A LAD

(coming with a whole crowd of others from the dancing-green).

Peer, have some brandy?

PEER

No.

THE LAD

Only a drain?

PEER

(looking darkly at him).

Got any?

THE LAD

Well, I won't say but I have.

(Pulls out a pocket-flask and drinks.)

Ah! How it stings your throat!-Well?

PEER

(Drinks.)

Let me try it.

ANOTHER LAD

Now you must try mine as well, you know.

PEER

No!

THE LAD

Oh, nonsense; now don't be a fool. Take a pull, Peer!

PEER

Well then, give me a drop.

(Drinks again.)

A GIRL

(half aloud).

Come, let's be going.

PEER

Afraid of me, wench?

A THIRD LAD

Who isn't afraid of you?

A FOURTH

At Lunde
you showed us clearly what tricks you could play.

PEER

I can do more than that, when once I get started!

THE FIRST LAD

(whispering).

Now he's getting into swing!

SEVERAL OTHERS

(forming a circle around him).

Tell away! Tell away!
What can you-?

PEER

To-morrow-!

OTHERS

No, now, to-night!

A GIRL

Can you conjure, Peer?

PEER

I can call up the devil!

A MAN

My grandam could do that before I was born!

PEER

Liar! What I can do, that no one else can.
I one day conjured him into a nut.
It was worm-bored, you see!

SEVERAL

(laughing).

Ay, that's easily guessed!

PEER

He cursed, and he wept, and he wanted to bribe me
with all sorts of things-

ONE OF THE CROWD

But he had to go in?

PEER

Of course. I stopped up the hole with a peg.
Hei! If you'd heard him rumbling and grumbling!

A GIRL

Only think!

PEER

It was just like a humble-bee buzzing.

THE GIRL

Have you got him still in the nut?

PEER

Why, no;
by this time that devil has flown on his way.
The grudge the smith bears me is all his doing.

A LAD

Indeed?

PEER

I went to the smithy, and begged
that he would crack that same nutshell for me.
He promised he would!-laid it down on his anvil;
but Aslak, you know, is so heavy of hand;-
for ever swinging that great sledge-hammer-

A VOICE FROM THE CROWD

Did he kill the foul fiend?

PEER

He laid on like a man.
But the devil showed fight, and tore off in a flame
through the roof, and shattered the wall asunder.

SEVERAL VOICES

And the smith-?

PEER

Stood there with his hands all scorched.
And from that day onwards, we've never been friends.

(General laughter.)

SOME OF THE CROWD

That yarn is a good one.

OTHERS

About his best.

PEER

Do you think I am making it up?

A MAN

Oh no,
that you're certainly not; for I've heard the most on't
from my grandfather-

PEER

Liar! It happened to me!

THE MAN

Yes, like everything else.

PEER

(with a fling)

I can ride, I can,
clean through the air, on the bravest of steeds!
Oh, many's the thing I can do, I tell you!

(Another roar of laughter.)

ONE OF THE GROUP

Peer, ride through the air a bit!

MANY

Do, dear Peer Gynt-!

PEER

You may spare you the trouble of begging so hard.
I will ride like a hurricane over you all!
Every man in the parish shall fall at my feet!

AN ELDERLY MAN

Now he is clean off his head.

ANOTHER

The dolt!

A THIRD

Braggart!

A FOURTH

Liar!

PEER

(threatening them).

Ay, wait till you see!

A MAN

(half drunk).

Ay, wait; you'll soon get your jacket dusted!

OTHERS

Your back beaten tender! Your eyes painted blue!

(The crowd disperses, the elder men angry, the younger laughing and jeering.)

THE BRIDEGROOM

(close to PEER GYNT).

Peer, is it true you can ride through the air?

PEER

(shortly).

It's all true, Mads! You must know I'm a rare one!

THE BRIDEGROOM

Then have you got the Invisible Cloak too?

PEER

The Invisible Hat, do you mean? Yes, I have.

(Turns away from him. SOLVEIG crosses the yard, leading little HELGA.)

PEER

(goes towards them; his face lights up).

Solveig! Oh, it is well you have come!

(Takes hold of her wrist.)

Now will I swing you round fast and fine!

SOLVEIG

Loose me!

PEER

Wherefore?

SOLVEIG

You are so wild.

PEER

The reindeer is wild, too, when summer is dawning.
Come then, lass; do not be wayward now!

SOLVEIG

(withdrawing her arm).

Dare not.

PEER

Wherefore?

SOLVEIG

No, you've been drinking.

(Moves off with HELGA.)

PEER

Oh, if I had but my knife-blade driven
clean through the heart of them,-one and all!

THE BRIDEGROOM

(nudging him with his elbow).

Peer, can't you help me to get at the bride?

PEER

(absently).

The bride? Where is she?

THE BRIDEGROOM

In the store-house.

PEER

Ah.

THE BRIDEGROOM

Oh, dear Peer Gynt, you must try at least!

PEER

No, you must get on without my help.

(A thought strikes him; he says softly but sharply:)

Ingrid! The store-house!

(Goes Up tO SOLVEIG.)

Have you thought better on't?

(SOLVEIG tries to go; he blocks her path.)

You're ashamed to, because I've the look of a tramp.

SOLVEIG

(hastily).

No, that you haven't; that's not true at all!

PEER

Yes! And I've taken a drop as well;
but that was to spite you, because you had hurt me.
Come then!

SOLVEIG

Even if I would now, I daren't.

PEER

Who are you frightened of?

SOLVEIG

Father, most.

PEER

Father? Ay, ay; he is one of the quiet ones!
One of the godly, eh?-Answer, come!

SOLVEIG

What shall I say?

PEER

Is your father a psalm-singer?
And you and your mother as well, no doubt?
Come, will you speak?

SOLVEIG

Let me go in peace.

PEER

No!

(In a low but sharp and threatening tone.)

I can turn myself into a troll!
I'll come to your bedside at midnight to-night.
If you should hear some one hissing and spitting,
you mustn't imagine it's only the cat.
It's me, lass! I'll drain out your blood in a cup,
and your little sister, I'll eat her up;
ay, you must know I'm a werewolf at night;-
I'll bite you all over the loins and the back-

(Suddenly changes his tone, and entreats, as if in dread:)

Dance with me, Solveig!

SOLVEIG

(looking darkly at him).

Then you were grim.

(Goes into the house.)

THE BRIDEGROOM

(comes sidling up again).

I'll give you an ox if you'll help me!

PEER

Then come!

(They go out behind the house. At the same moment a crowd of men come up from the dancing-green; most of them are drunk. Noise and hubbub. SOLVEIG, HELGA, and their PARENTS appear among a number of elderly people in the doorway.)

THE MASTER-COOK

(to the SMITH, who is the foremost of the crowd).

Keep peace now!

THE SMITH

(pulling off his jacket).

No, we must fight it out here.
Peer Gynt or I must be taught a lesson.

SOME VOICES

Ay, let them fight for it!

OTHERS

No, only wrangle!

THE SMITH

Fists must decide; for the case is past words.

SOLVEIG'S FATHER

Control yourself, man!

HELGA

Will they beat him, mother?

A LAD

Let us rather tease him with all his lies!

ANOTHER

Kick him out of the company!

A THIRD

Spit in his eyes!

A FOURTH

(to the SMITH)

You're not backing out, smith?

THE SMITH

(flinging away his jacket)

The jade shall be slaughtered!

SOLVEIG'S MOTHER

(to SOLVEIG).

There, you can see how that windbag is thought of.

ÅSE

(coming up with a stick in her hand)

Is that son of mine here? Now he's in for a drubbing!
Oh! how heartily I will dang him!

THE SMITH

(rolling up his shirt-sleeves)

That switch is too light for a carcass like his.
The smith will dang him!

OTHERS

Bang him!

THE SMITH

(spits on his hands and nods to ÅSE).

Hang him!

ÅSE

What? Hang my Peer? Ay, just try if you dare;-
ÅSE and I, we have teeth and claws!-
Where is he?

(Calls across the yard:)

Peer!

THE BRIDEGROOM

(comes running up)

Oh, God's death on the cross!
Come father, come mother, and-!

HIS FATHER

What is the matter?

THE BRIDEGROOM

Just fancy, Peer Gynt-!

ÅSE

(screams).

Have they taken his life?

THE BRIDEGROOM

No, but Peer Gynt-! Look, there on the hillside-!

THE CROWD

With the bride!

ÅSE

(lets her stick sink).

Oh, the beast!

THE SMITH

(as if thunderstruck).

Where the slope rises sheerest
he's clambering upwards, by God, like a goat!

THE BRIDEGROOM

(crying)

He's shouldered her, mother, as I might a pig!

ÅSE

(shaking her fist up at him)

Would God you might fall, and-!

(Screams out in terror.)

Take care of your footing!

THE HEGSTAD FARMER

(comes in, bare-headed and white with rage)

I'll have his life for this bride-rape yet!

ÅSE

Oh no, God punish me if I let you!


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