Tilbake

Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen

ACT 3

SCENE FOURTH

(ASE's room. Evening. The room is lighted by a wood fire on the open hearth. A cat is lying on a chair at the foot of the bed.)

(ASE lies in the bed, fumbling about restlessly with her hands on the coverlet.)

ASE

Oh, Lord my God, isn't he coming?
The time drags so drearily on.
I have no one to send with a message;
and I've much, oh so much, to say.
I haven't a moment to lose now!
So quickly! Who could have foreseen!
Oh me, if I only were certain
I'd not been too strict with him!

PEER GYNT

(enters).

Good evening!

ASE

The Lord give you gladness!
You've come then, my boy, my dear!
But how dare you show face in the valley?
You know your life's forfeit here.

PEER

Oh, life must e'en go as it may go;
I felt that I must look in.

ASE

Ay, now Kari is put to silence,
and I can depart in peace!

PEER

Depart? Why, what are you saying?
Where is it you think to go?

ASE

Alas, Peer, the end is nearing; I have but a short time left.

PEER

(writhing, and walking towards the back of the room).

See there now! I'm fleeing from trouble;
I thought at least here I'd be free-!
Are your hands and your feet a-cold, then?

ASE

Ay, Peer; all will soon be o'er.-
When you see that my eyes are glazing,
you must close them carefully.
And then you must see to my coffin;
and be sure it's a fine one, dear.
Ah no, by-the-bye-

PEER

Be quiet!
There's time yet to think of that.

ASE

Ay, ay.

(Looks restlessly around the room.)

Here you see the little
they've left us! It's like them, just.

PEER

(with a writhe).

Again! (Harshly.) Well, I know it was my fault.
What's the use of reminding me?

ASE

You! No, that accursed liquor,
from that all the mischief came!
Dear my boy, you know you'd been drinking;
and then no one knows what he does;
and besides, you'd been riding the reindeer;
no wonder your head was turned!

PEER

Ay, ay; of that yarn enough now.
Enough of the whole affair.
All that's heavy we'll let stand over
till after-some other day.
(Sits on the edge of the bed.)

Now, mother, we'll chat together;
but only of this and that,-
forget what's awry and crooked,
and all that is sharp and sore.-
Why see now, the same old pussy;
so she is alive then, still?

ASE

She makes such a noise o' nights now;
you know what that bodes, my boy!

PEER

(changing the subject).

What news is there here in the parish?

ASE

(smiling).

There's somewhere about, they say,
a girl who would fain to the uplands-

PEER

(hastily).

Mads Moen, is he content?

ASE

They say that she hears and heeds not
the old people's prayers and tears.
You ought to look in and see them;-
you, Peer, might perhaps bring help-

PEER

The smith, what's become of him now?

ASE

Don't talk of that filthy smith.
Her name I would rather tell you,
the name of the girl, you know-

PEER

No, now we will chat together,
but only of this and that,-
forget what's awry and crooked,
and all that is sharp and sore.
Are you thirsty? I'll fetch you water.
Can you stretch you? The bed is short.
Let me see;-if I don't believe, now,
It's the bed that I had when a boy!
Do you mind, dear, how oft in the evenings
you sat at my bedside here,
and spread the fur-coverlet o'er me,
and sang many a lilt and lay?

ASE

Ay, mind you? And then we played sledges
when your father was far abroad.
The coverlet served for sledge-apron,
and the floor for an ice-bound fiord.

PEER

Ah, but the best of all, though,-
mother, you mind that too?-
the best was the fleet-foot horses-

ASE

Ay, think you that I've forgot?-
It was Kari's cat that we borrowed;
it sat on the log-scooped chair-

PEER

To the castle west of the moon, and
the castle east of the sun,
to Soria-Moria Castle
the road ran both high and low.
A stick that we found in the closet,

for a whip-shaft you made it serve.

ASE

Right proudly I perked on the box-seat-

PEER

Ay, ay; you threw loose the reins,
and kept turning round as we travelled,
and asked me if I was cold.
God bless you, ugly old mother,-
you were ever a kindly soul-!
What's hurting you now?

ASE

My back aches,
because of the hard, bare boards.

PEER

Stretch yourself; I'll support you.
There now, you're lying soft.

ASE

(uneasily).

No, Peer, I'd be moving!

PEER

Moving?

ASE

Ay, moving; 'tis ever my wish.

PEER

Oh, nonsense! Spread o'er you the bed-fur.
Let me sit at your bedside here.
There; now we'll shorten the evening
with many a lilt and lay.

ASE

Best bring from the closet the prayer-book:
I feel so uneasy of soul.

PEER

In Soria-Moria Castle
the King and the Prince give a feast.
On the sledge-cushions lie and rest you;
I'll drive you there over the heath-

ASE

But, Peer dear, am I invited?

PEER

Ay, that we are, both of us.

(He throws a string round the back of the chair on which the cat is lying, takes up a stick, and seats himself at the foot of the bed.)

Gee-up! Will you stir yourself, Black-boy?
Mother, you're not a-cold?
Ay, ay; by the pace one knows it,
when Grane begins to go!

ASE

Why, Peer, what is it that's ringing-?

PEER

The glittering sledge-bells, dear!

ASE

Oh, mercy, how hollow it's rumbling!

PEER

We're just driving over a fiord.

ASE

I'm afraid! What is that I hear rushing
and sighing so strange and wild?

PEER

It's the sough of the pine-trees, mother,
on the heath. Do you but sit still.

ASE

There's a sparkling and gleaming afar now;
whence comes all that blaze of light?

PEER

From the castle's windows and doorways.
Don't you hear, they are dancing?

ASE

Yes.

PEER

Outside the door stands Saint Peter,
and prays you to enter in.

ASE

Does he greet us?

PEER

He does, with honor,
and pours out the sweetest wine.

ASE

Wine! Has he cakes as well, Peer?

PEER

Cakes? Ay, a heaped-up dish.
And the dean's wife is getting ready
your coffee and your dessert.

ASE

Oh, Christ; shall we two come together?

PEER

As freely as ever you will.

ASE

Oh, deary, Peer, what a frolic
you're driving me to, poor soul!

PEER

(cracking his whip).

Gee-up; will you stir yourself, Black-boy!

ASE

Peer, dear, you're driving right?

PEER

(cracking his whip again).

Ay, broad is the way.

ASE

This journey,
it makes me so weak and tired.

PEER

There's the castle rising before us;
the drive will be over soon.

ASE

I will lie back and close my eyes then,
and trust me to you, my boy!

PEER

Come up with you, Grane, my trotter!
In the castle the throng is great;
they bustle and swarm to the gateway.
Peer Gynt and his mother are here!
What say you, Master Saint Peter?
Shall mother not enter in?
You may search a long time, I tell you,
ere you find such an honest old soul.
Myself I don't want to speak of;
I can turn at the castle gate.
If you'll treat me, I'll take it kindly;
if not, I'll go off just as pleased.
I have made up as many flim-flams
as the devil at the pulpit-desk,
and called my old mother a hen, too,
because she would cackle and crow.
But her you shall honour and reverence,
and make her at home indeed;
there comes not a soul to beat her
from the parishes nowadays.-
Ho-ho; here comes God the Father!
Saint Peter! you're in for it now!

(In a deep voice.)

"Have done with these jack-in-office airs, sir;
Mother Ase shall enter free!"

(Laughs loudly, and turns towards his mother.)

Ay, didn't I know what would happen?
Now they dance to another tune!

(Uneasily.)

Why, what makes your eyes so glassy?
Mother! Have you gone out of your wits-?

(Goes to the head of the bed.)

You mustn't lie there and stare so-!
Speak, mother; it's I, your boy!

(Feels her forehead and hands cautiously; then throws the string on the chair, and says softly:)

Ay, ay!-You can rest yourself, Grane;
for even now the journey's done.

(Closes her eyes, and bends over her.)

For all of your days I thank you,
for beatings and lullabies!-
But see, you must thank me back, now-

(Presses his cheek against her mouth)

There; that was the driver's fare.

THE COTTAR'S WIFE

(entering).

What? Peer! Ah, then we are over
the worst of the sorrow and need!
Dear Lord, but she's sleeping soundly-
or can she be-?

PEER

Hush; she is dead.

(KARI weeps beside the body; PEER GYNT walks up and down the room for some time; at last he stops beside the bed.)

PEER

See mother buried with honour.
I must try to fare forth from here.

KARI

Are you faring afar?

PEER

To seaward.

KARI

So far!

PEER

Ay, and further still. (He goes.)


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