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Title: Inger Johanne's Lively Doings
Author: Zwilgmeyer, Dikken
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Inger Johanne's Lively Doings" ***

  Transcriber’s Note
  Italic text displayed as: _italic_



  WHAT HAPPENED TO INGER JOHANNE  } _Translated from the_
  FOUR COUSINS                    }   _Norwegian of_
  INGER JOHANNE’S LIVELY DOINGS   }   _Dikken Zwilgmeyer_




[Illustration: AT LAST I GOT HER INTO THE SMITHY.—_Page 24._]


  Translated from the Norwegian of


  [Illustration: Girl writing]

  Illustrated by


  Copyright, 1926,

  _All rights reserved_


  Printed in U. S. A.

  Norwood Press


  CHAPTER              PAGE

  I. CONFIDENTIAL         9

  II. AT THE PARSONAGE         16

  III. THE LOST KEY         34


  V. THE DANCING-SCHOOL           57


  VII. IN PECKELL’S HAYLOFT           81


  IX. ON BOARD THE _SEVEN STARS_           115

  X. A MOLASSES CAKE STORY          133


  XII. PLAY ACTING          160

  XIII. A DAY AT SCHOOL          172



  XVI. GHOSTS          211

  XVII. A SNOW FIGHT          224



  At last I got her into the smithy (page 24)          _Frontispiece_

            FACING PAGE

  Just imagine! I really did get five heads
  of cabbage as a present            42

  We danced and skipped and shouted,
  “Hurrah!”           76

  “If it only doesn’t break!” cried Mina            108

  “Kalle, you rascal!” I said, grabbing
  him by the hair            156

  I felt the staff pulled from above            196

  “Here is your earthquake, Inger Johanne,”
  said Father            222

  Oh-h! All the potatoes tumbled off and
  rolled among the sheep            256






It is certainly comical that I, Inger Johanne, wrote a book[1] a
while ago and that it was printed, so I (I!) am an author. Really, it
is too funny. I have to laugh whenever I think of it.

But what I wrote was only scribblings, not like a real author’s book;
for persons who know how to write can picture everything so vividly
that the readers see it clearly in their own minds; and I am very
sure that you can’t see our delightful town at all, though my whole
book is about how things are there.

You can’t see the little red and yellow houses among the gray rocks;
the shining blue water and the big ships ready to start on long
voyages, with the sailors hauling up the anchors, while on the hill
the wives and children stand waving big handkerchiefs and crying.
They even climb Big Rock and stand there until the ship is just a
little speck far, far out on the water.

Oh, you can’t know, either, how the fresh wind feels on your cheeks,
or how the heather brushes against the bottom of your dress, or how
our old house on the hillside looks—or Peter or Karsten——No, I wrote
about it all so poorly that you can’t have much idea of any of it.

Before the stories were printed I let Nils and Peter and Karsten and
Massa and Mina read them, but I shouldn’t have done that, for I got
paid for it well and quickly, I can tell you.

Karsten thwacked me on the head hard, four times, because I had
written that he was troublesome. Nils thought I had said too little
about him, so he squirted a lot of water right in my face.

Peter, the dean’s son, was mightily offended (and has been ever
since) because I told about his father leading him home by the ear.
As for Massa and Mina, they thought it was so tedious to read about
the children here at home that they would not even finish the stories.

So, you see, you get something besides pleasure when you write a book.

But what do you think? My book was praised in the newspapers! It
really was! and I must say that that was exceedingly pleasant.

I had decided that I would never write another book, but I have
changed my mind; for when people say I write “so very”—why, of course
I want to write.

At one time I thought that to be head milkmaid with a large herd of
cows in my care would be the most delightful thing in the world, but
now I know I should rather be an author. Hurrah!

Yes—I shout, “Hurrah!” because it has been in the newspaper that
“Inger Johanne is full of talent, has humor and is hearty and sound.”

Hearty and sound am I, that is sure, for I have never had anything
the matter with me except that time I broke my arm when I thought I
should be a circus rider. (I told about that in the other book.)

Every time there was anything in the paper about me when my book
first came out, I would take the paper and read the notices aloud to
Massa, Mina, and the rest.

“Style, color, and tone are well maintained throughout Inger
Johanne’s book,” I read in a loud voice. “And the whole is pervaded
by humor that is irresistible.”

While reading, I usually stood on a fence or a rock, and when I
finished, I swung the paper out in the air and shouted, “Hurrah!”

Naturally the others made fun of me, but I never bothered myself the
least bit about that. I don’t believe you could find in our whole
town one single other person who has written a real book. True
enough, Candidate Juul has made a French dictionary for schools, but
that doesn’t mean that he has talent, as the papers say I have.

However, when the boys and girls laugh at me too much because I talk
about my book, I go away from them; but I soon come back, for there
is no fun in staying alone, even if you are “full of talent.”

Most people think that nothing very important happens in our town,
but we girls and boys always have plenty of fun and excitement, and
that is what I’m going to tell you about in a minute. But first I
want to tell you about Karsten. He is exactly the same as ever,
thinking of awfully queer things to do almost every day. One of his
plans was quite a stroke of genius, I must say!

As I walked down-town one morning, I was surprised to see some
peasants and town boys in the middle of the market-place where there
is almost never anybody. And what do you think I found when I went
to see what was going on?

There stood Karsten in the middle of the bunch. He had our smallest
bread-basket with Mother’s carving-knife in it, a half-stick of
sealing-wax, a tooth-brush I had bought the day before, and a number
of other little things from home.

“Why, Karsten! Are you crazy? What are you doing?” I called.

“I’m in business, as you can easily see,” said Karsten grandly. “Go

Imagine it! That foolish child stood there in the market-place
actually trying to sell a half-stick of sealing-wax and my new
tooth-brush! Some of the other boys had sold postage stamps and
buttons, and so of course Karsten wanted to sell something.

You may well believe that I took him home with me in a hurry; and
there he got the good scolding from Father that he deserved.

I could write a much longer letter than this, but perhaps I had
better not, for I have lately read that the art of writing is to
limit yourself, and so I will close at once.

Thank you for liking my book.


P. S. My dears, you must be sure to praise this book a little, also,
or else I shall be horribly embarrassed and mortified before Massa,
Mina, and Peter, and the others.

  I. J.


[1] “What Happened to Inger Johanne.”



The boat bumped and scraped against the wharf. We had arrived. Hurrah!

The instant Karsten set foot on the wharf, he was off and away at
full speed up the hill, and swinging into the avenue that led to the

On my way up, I happened to think of some strawberry patches I had
known the summer before, and I simply had to go a little aside on
the hill to look at them. Yes, there they were, with specks of red
shining out between the leaves and stones. Good!

But now I could see Aunt Magda’s garden hat at the end of the avenue
and I must hurry, for she would be wondering what had become of me. I
began to run, and soon sprang into her open arms. I put both my arms
around her and squeezed her frightfully hard till she shrieked. I
always do that with any one I like awfully well, you see.

On the Parsonage steps sat Uncle’s friend, the queer old lawyer, Mr.
Witt, with his mass of bristling white hair and his sharp eyes.

And now Great-Aunt came. She is aunt to Mother and Aunt Magda and is
awfully old. Great-Aunt thinks she knows everything, I do believe.
No matter what incredible thing happens in the town or in the world,
she insists that she foresaw long ago that it would happen. “There!
Didn’t I know it? No need to tell me,” says Great-Aunt.

Between you and me, I will own that I cannot like her; but she is
frightfully clever, and Aunt Magda daren’t do a thing except just
what Great-Aunt wishes.

“Well,” said Great-Aunt, looking me over, “seems to me you had better
stop growing now. You will soon be so tall that you can look into
people’s second-story windows.”

Great-Aunt is a good half a head taller than I, so she had better
think of her own height; but I didn’t say that. I only curtsied
nicely and gave her all the proper greetings from Mother and Father.

Karsten had done nothing but run around through the rooms without
greeting any one, shouting, “Where is Hedvig? Where is Dan?” Ugh!
that rude Karsten! What would Mother think of his not greeting
anybody, but just running around asking for the milkmaid and the dog?
I must say it was decidedly necessary that I should come and behave
properly. When I choose, I can behave myself charmingly, almost like
a grown-up young lady. I say, “What, please?” or “I beg your pardon?”
to people sometimes even when I hear perfectly what they say; and
when I drink from a cup or glass I curl my little finger out in the
air, for that is what I have seen fine ladies do.

Well, there I sat and drank chocolate and talked grown-up talk; and
presently Karsten, warm and out of breath, came in from the kitchen.

“My! Hedvig and Dan have grown awfully little since last summer,”
said he.

“Is that so? Has Hedvig, too, grown little?” asked Great-Aunt.

Yes, Karsten thought she had shrunken remarkably.

       *       *       *       *       *

Oh, that pleasant old living-room at the Parsonage! It has a low
ceiling, and all the walls are crowded with pictures. There are
Luther and Melancthon, and the King in Leire and Gustavus Adolphus
and Wellington and Bishop Gislesen and his wife, and Skipper
Marenssen from down on the shore, and William of Orange with his
crown and sceptre. Uncle goes around and talks to them sometimes as
if they were alive and could answer him.

There are green woven pieces over the sofas and chairs, and the
windows are full of fuchsias, always in bloom. Great-Aunt and Aunt
Magda sit, each on her own side of a table between the windows.

Great-Aunt has many interesting things in her work-box, a basket
carved from a cherrystone, a corkscrew as little as a fly, and other
queer things. I look at them when Great-Aunt is out. I should not
dare to at any other time.

The door stood open, and summer fragrance was wafted in. Between the
white rails of the garden fence, I could see bunches of currants,
clear and red, and I knew that in the garden there were raspberries
as big as the cook’s thimble, and garden strawberries so big they had
the distinction of being laid out on pieces of roof tiles to ripen.
Hurrah! What a good time we should have! Suddenly I sprang up and for
pure joy leaped down the steps four or five at a time to the grass

“See that now!” said the old lawyer still sitting on the steps. “And
I had thought you a grown-up young lady!” This embarrassed me a
little, but I pretended not to notice it.

The whole of the first day, I went about visiting the places and the
people I had known the year before. First, I went to the men’s room
to see Jon. He was poorly, he said, and had a stitch in his side a
foot long. It was a great deal worse because he had had to row out
to the steamer for us,—which he needn’t have done if children only
stayed in their own homes as was proper, he thought. He was not so
very polite,—he usually isn’t—but I never trouble myself in the least
about that.

“Oh, you’ll be all right soon, Jon,” I said.

“Humph! It would be pretty bad for other folk if I weren’t,” said
Jon, looking much offended.

Later I was in the henhouse and saw a hen sitting on her nest, and
in the pig-pen where I scratched a pig’s back with a stick. “Piggy,
piggy, piggy!” “Uf, uf, uf,” said the pig. Then I went to the
cow-house and the barn, and last of all to the churchyard,—the church
is right near the Parsonage, you see,—where I went around and read
all the verses on the gravestones, although I knew most of them by

It is an awfully pleasant churchyard, with big, plump maple-trees,
through which the sunlight falls in flecks and patches on the tall
grass and sunken graves, where the old sailors and their wives lie
buried. Some have beautiful gravestones with verses on them which
Uncle wrote. Round the churchyard is a very broad stone wall. Karsten
and I get up on it and play tag there.

At the very farthest end of the Parsonage garden I play, all by
myself, a most delightful kind of play. I am awfully fond of cows
and sheep and everything about a farm. That is why I used to think
I would be a milkmaid, you see, but, as I told you, I have given up
that idea. I prefer to be an author.

Well, far down in the garden where nobody ever comes, under some old
gooseberry-bushes, I have lots of cattle,—cows and calves and sheep
and lambs! The cows are big round smooth stones; they stand in their
stalls with fresh green grass before them; the calves—smaller round
stones,—stand in calf-pens. Everything is nicely arranged, I assure
you. The sheep and lambs are pretty white stones that I find on the

Near my barns I have built a little bit of a hut of moss and stone
with a tiny piece of glass in it for a window. Inside the hut there
are two dolls,—the milkmaids who take care of the cows. Oh, I love
all such planning and arranging and pretending!

But when I happened to speak of it one day, that horrid old lawyer
began to make fun of me because I at my age could find pleasure in
such make-believe things. And somehow after that, I began to be
tired of my cattle farm under the gooseberry-bushes. It would be a
different matter if one could have a real cow to take care of.

In the south meadow that summer there was a big brown-and-white cow
named Brownie. She was so quarrelsome that she could not be with the
other cows. Great-Aunt told Karsten and me to look out for ourselves
when near her, because she was very cross. But I used to go often to
look at her, and soon I had a tremendous desire that Brownie should
be _my_ cow, as it were, and that I should take the entire care of
her myself.

One day I decided that I would put Brownie in the old smithy that no
one used any more; and there I would feed her and milk her every day.
But first I must have a collar for her; so I went to the cow-house,
where I found an old one. It was firmly fastened in a stall, but I
jiggled and twisted and jerked and tugged at it until I finally got
it out. Then I hammered it into the wall of the smithy. The next
thing was to get Brownie into her new quarters.

The first time I went near her she gave me such a forcible push in my
chest that I fell right over. However, I don’t give up very easily,
and I coaxed and pushed and pulled at Brownie so long that at last I
got her into the smithy and the collar on her neck. Hurrah! Now I had
a cow-house and a cow with a collar on, just for myself alone. What

I tore up a lot of grass and laid it before her so that she should
not be hungry, and I fastened the door with a stick. Of course I must
milk her. The milk I could set up on the shelf there in the smithy;
perhaps I could churn butter! As for cream porridge, there would be
no difficulty at all about having that now as often as I wished.

I stole into the kitchen to get something I could milk into, but
Great-Aunt came upon me so suddenly that I couldn’t get hold of
anything but a pint measure. That was pretty small for the use I had
for it, but I must try to make it do.

I don’t know whether any of you ever tried to milk a cow, but I can
tell you that it isn’t easy to milk one that kicks and thrashes its
tail about—especially if you have to milk into a pint measure. At
last I got the measure full, however, and set it up on the shelf.
Of course it was rather sooty and dirty there, but I would wash the
shelf in the morning. I gave Brownie a new supply of grass and then
left her for the night. I had not said a word about all my plans for
the cow to a single person.

Well! In the evening Hedvig, the milkmaid, came to the house
frightened almost out of her wits. She couldn’t find Brownie
anywhere, and I could see that she was ready to believe that the
goblins had been at work. Excitement ran high, especially with

“Didn’t I know it? You shall soon both hear and see that something
dreadful has happened to Brownie,” Great-Aunt said solemnly.

Then I had to tell where Brownie was, and that it was I who had taken
her and put her in the smithy.

“There now! Did any one ever see such a girl?” said Great-Aunt. “You
ought to be whipped, big as you are, to put a cow in such a place and
give it neither food nor water.”

O dear! O dear! I had never thought to give the cow water the whole

Well, Hedvig went to the smithy and let Brownie out; so there was an
end to that amusement. And when I went to get my pint measure of
milk the next day, it had such a thick layer of soot and dust on it
that I gave it to Dan, the dog, and I had hard work to get even him
to drink it.

When we had been at the Parsonage about a fortnight, Peter, the
dean’s son, came to make a visit, too. He had grown shyer and more
freckled than ever since I saw him last, I thought. He spoke never a
word when he was in the living-room, but it was rather jolly to have
him with us, even though I now had two boys to look after instead of
one. There is always something to see to with such boys,—that they
cut the cheese nicely at the table, change their shirts often enough,
comb their hair properly, and all such matters.

Great-Aunt was cross about many things, but one thing made her very
angry, and that was if we ate any of her yellow raspberries. The red
ones we might take a few of, but the yellow ones we mustn’t even
think of touching.

One morning when I lay out on the grass under the avenue trees
reading “Waldemar the Conqueror,” I heard all at once a mysterious
rustling behind the raspberry-bushes in the garden. I peeped between
the bushes and—wasn’t it just as I had thought?—there sat Karsten and
Peter picking yellow raspberries and putting them into their straw

When they heard me, they took to their heels, over the garden fence
and off towards the churchyard. As I caught up with them, Peter said:

“If you’ll promise not to tell on us, Inger Johanne, you shall have
some of the berries.” Both the boys had their hats half full.

Well, really, it is awfully mean to tattle, and the raspberries were
so tempting, not one worm-eaten—and why should Peter and Karsten eat
them all, I ask you? So we divided them equally and sat on one of the
gravestones to eat them.

I had forgotten “Waldemar the Conqueror” that I had thrown down and
left lying in the grass, and just think! When I went to get it, Dan
was playing with it, and torn-out leaves were scattered all over the

“You bad, bad dog, let go, I say!”

At last I got it away from him, but he had torn out eight leaves, and
crumpled and bitten several others. You may be sure I was disgusted
with myself and my carelessness, but I said nothing about the book
to any one. I always looked at it guiltily though, where it stood in
the bookcase, knowing that Aunt Magda did not dream that anything was
wrong with it. But she was always so very kind to us, that before
I went away I was awfully sorry about “Waldemar the Conqueror” and
those raspberries. Peter and Karsten weren’t the least bit sorry,
they said, because the berries they picked were so near the ground
that Great-Aunt, who is old and stout, couldn’t possibly have picked
them or even have seen them; but I thought it was horrid of us,

At last I wrote a little bit of a note,—the paper wasn’t much more
than an inch square,—which I gave to Aunt Magda asking her not to
read it until after I had gone. In the note I told about the book and
the raspberries and begged her not to be angry, as I was so sorry.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now towards the end of vacation. Soon there would be no
more jumping in the haycocks or riding home on the big loads of
hay, no more raspberries and cream for dessert at dinner, no more
bonny-clabber at supper; and Saturday would be the last time that I
could be Uncle’s driver this year.

When Uncle goes to the other parish church or to visit the sick, I
am always allowed to drive him down to the shore. You see they have
to go everywhere by boat from the Parsonage. Uncle has to ride in a
funny way. He is so awfully stout that he has great difficulty in
getting into a carriage, so he rides in a single sleigh, scraping
over the road on wooden runners. I sit on the tiny high seat behind
and crack the whip. We don’t go very fast on the road to the shore
because Uncle is so heavy, but when I go back I sit in the sleigh
and drive so fast that the sand spatters on my ears. It is great fun.

The day before we were to go home, one of the Cochin China hens was
sick. It may have eaten some salt that had been spilled outside of
the storehouse. At any rate, it was sick and ran round and round
continually; it was horrid to see. The trouble must be in its head. I
thought of putting a wet bandage on it, such as people use when they
have headache, but to put a wet bandage on a hen that is spinning
round and round would be a little difficult.

I ran in to Great-Aunt. “Oh, Great-Aunt, there is a hen that is sick
and that keeps spinning round and round and round! What shall we do
with it?”

“Oh, it will have to spin till it stops,” said Great-Aunt.

There was no use. Nobody here at the Parsonage understood about hens.
When I went away no one would care about that poor sick thing, or do
anything for it, I was sure.

I went out to the barn to speak to the milkmaid.

“Dear Hedvig, if you can’t cure that Cochin China hen, you must chop
its head off, the minute I have gone.”

“Oh, no! I’d never dare do that unless Mistress herself said so.”

“Please, please do, Hedvig. No one will take any care of it when I’m
not here.”

“But you know I don’t dare because of the old lady.” That was

“Oh, yes, Hedvig. You are so kind. Please do it and quickly, too.” I
felt as if I ought to say this even if I didn’t believe she would do
what I told her to do. The poor sick hen!

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, our visit at the Parsonage was over and we were starting for
home. Aunt Magda, Great-Aunt and Uncle and Mr. Witt, the old lawyer,
went to the wharf with us, and they all stood there and waved
and waved. Uncle waved his cane and Mr. Witt, who wore a linen
dust-coat, waved his long coattails. Then what shouts from shore and

“Good-bye!” “Good-bye!” “G-o-o-o-d-by-e!”

Jon was in the best of humors as he rowed us from the shore to the
steamer. I didn’t know whether it was because he would now be rid of
us for this year or the present of money I had given him, that made
him so pleasant.

“Good luck to all three on your journey,” called Jon as he shoved his
boat from the steamer.

For a while we could see the church tower and the roof of the
Parsonage between the trees; then the steamer rounded an island and
we saw them no more.



Mrs. Polby is the sort of person who stands on her front steps, with
arms akimbo, every minute when she isn’t working, and talks with
every one who passes by. That is why she knows all that is going on;
and she knows, too, every single hen in the town and every single dog
and every single person.

One time she blamed me for something which I hadn’t done at all; and
from that very time we became good friends!

Now you shall hear about it from beginning to end.

Mrs. Polby has a son named Karl Johan,—a pale, namby-pamby boy who
is offended if you only look at him. In this, he is like his mother,
who is easily offended, too, but otherwise they are very different.
She is a regular roly-poly, with round eyes and round, rosy cheeks,
works hard in her vegetable garden, and talks a great deal, as I have
told you.

It is rather unfortunate that Karl Johan is so namby-pamby when he
has such a kingly name. That’s why we tease him, calling him Karl
Johan Gustavus Adolphus Kristian Fredrik Julius Cæsar Polby or other
grand names; and he gets so furious that he runs home and tattles to
his mother. Then Mrs. Polby stands on her steps and holds a Judgment
Day for us, blaming me especially; so you can understand that she and
I have never been very good friends.

Back of her house, Mrs. Polby has a big garden where she grows a
quantity of cabbages which she sells in the autumn.

In the farthest end of the garden there is an old tumble-down
building where she stores the cabbages until they are sold.

Although Mrs. Polby doesn’t know it, we often play hide-and-seek in
that building, for there are so many closets and bins and little
rooms in it where we can hide. The house is so old and rickety that
there are big cracks everywhere in the floor and the walls.

One day Mother said to me, “Run down and buy two heads of cabbage
from Mrs. Polby.” Off I ran like the wind, as I always do. Mrs.
Polby, for a wonder, was not on her steps, but Karl Johan sat in the
kitchen drinking coffee out of a big bowl.

“Well, Karl Johan Victor Emmanuel Clodevig,” said I, “have you any
cabbages to sell?”

He began to scold at a great rate, his face in the bowl the whole
time, but he didn’t answer my question about cabbages; so I thought
it was best to find Mrs. Polby herself, and I ran out to the
vegetable field.

The door of the shanty stood open, and one cabbage-head after another
came dancing out. She is in there, I thought, and probably not
in good humor, for the cabbages were being thrown with a certain
wrathful haste. I couldn’t see Mrs. Polby herself, for she was
farther inside the house.

True enough, there she was, hard at work in the midst of her
cabbages, and very red in the face; she was throwing out the rotten
ones, and, as I had thought, was not in a very gentle mood.

“I should like two heads of cabbage, Mrs. Polby,” I said. “But I must
tell you that your son has been talking horridly to me.”

“Is that so? Well, who is it he learns such talk from, sauce-box?”

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” said I. “But I should like the cabbages
right away.”

No, she hadn’t any cabbages, she said; they all rotted and she was
sick and tired of the whole business, and, anyway, she sold no
cabbages to persons who called her Karl Johan nicknames.

“Do you call Julius Cæsar, and Gustavus Adolphus and Clodevig
nicknames, Mrs. Polby?” I asked.

“Heathen names and dog names we have no use for in this country,” she
said, “and you can go your way for you’ll get no cabbages from me.
Tell your mother so, with my compliments.”

With that she went into a little closet at the back of the shanty,
and slammed the door after her. Probably she slammed it a little
harder than she really meant to, (for she was in a temper, you know,)
and the lock caught. At the same moment the key tumbled out of the
keyhole, and fell down through a crack in the floor, vanishing in the
depth below.

“The key fell through a crack, Mrs. Polby,” I called.

Mrs. Polby fumbled at the door, took hold of it and pulled and pushed
till the whole house shook.

“Will you unlock this door and do it at once?” she shouted.

“I can’t unlock it. The key fell through a crack and under the
floor,” I shouted back.

Just think! she didn’t believe me!

“Don’t tell me such a thing as that. You unlock this door this
minute!” she screamed.

Nothing I could say would make her believe that I had not the key.
She kept on beating and pounding at the door and berating me for not
letting her out.

“Oh, I shall suffocate in here. I certainly shall,—with my
asthma!—Oh! Oh!”

It was a very small closet she was in, scarcely bigger than a

“Put your mouth up to that little hole in the door and I’ll run after
the locksmith,” I said.

“Oh, no! Don’t go!” shrieked Mrs. Polby. “I don’t dare to stay here

What in the world should I do? There stood Mrs. Polby with her mouth
close to the hole which was about as big as the bunghole in a barrel.

Sometimes her mouth disappeared while she cried, “Oh, my asthma! my

“Karl Johan,” I shouted from the door. “Hurry! Come as fast as you
can! Your mother is locked in the closet.”

He came dragging himself slowly along as if there were no need of

“Hurry! Hurry!” I shouted anxiously. “She can’t breathe, she says,
locked in that little place.”

“Well, let her out then,” said Karl Johan, crossly.

O dear! Like his mother, he thought it was all my doing.

“But I can’t let her out. I can’t! The key is under the floor,” I
cried, stamping my foot at him. “But you can get it. You are so thin
and small you can creep under the building easily. The key is right
below the closet. Do go, Karl Johan.”

“Oh, do, my jewel!” cried his mother from the hole in the door. “Oh,
oh, do go!”

But just imagine! He would not go, even when his mother begged him to.

“It’s full of rats under the floor,” said Karl Johan. “I don’t want
to go there.”

“Then run for the locksmith,” I said. “Only do hurry.”

Well, Karl Johan went, though he took his own time about it; but I
felt so sorry for poor Mrs. Polby, who was wailing piteously, that I
couldn’t bear to wait for the locksmith.

“I’ll creep under the house, Mrs. Polby,” I said. “Just keep calm.”

“Oh, will you? God bless you! This is the worst thing that ever
happened to me,” she moaned.

So I crept under the house. It was all I could do to get along,
for the ground was wet and slimy and disgustingly filthy, with old
straw, broken bottles, and every kind of trash. And Karl Johan was
right—_rats_. Ugh! But I crept and crept. Mrs. Polby stamped on the
floor and called all the time so that I should know about where the
key would lie.

I fumbled and fumbled in the dark. No, I could not find it. A rat
ran right over my hand and I only just managed to keep myself from

“Can’t you find it?” called Mrs. Polby.

There! my hand touched it! I was so glad that I shouted loudly, “I’ve
got it! I’m coming, I’m coming!” as I started to creep out. But you
may well believe that it was difficult to turn one’s self around
under that floor; it was about the hardest of all.

Ah-h! Now I was out in the air again! My, but it was good! Into the
house I bounded, put the key in the lock and flung the door wide open.

Mrs. Polby was sitting on the floor, chalk-white in the face and
without power to speak at first. In a moment, though, she threw her
arms about my neck with such force that I nearly fell over backward,
for she is pretty heavy, I can tell you; then she began to cry.

“I really didn’t throw the key away,” I said.

“Oh, no! The keyhole has been bad this long time—and you have saved
my life——Oh! Oh!”

She kept on coughing and crying and at last said I should have five
cabbages as a present; and then she cried again.

“Why do you cry now?” I asked. “Here comes Karl Johan with the
locksmith.” True enough—they were coming at full speed with a very
long pair of tongs.

AS A PRESENT.—_Page 43._]

“So you’ve been sitting under lock and key, have you?” said the

“Don’t talk to me, for I haven’t any breath,” said Mrs. Polby; but at
the same minute she gave a scolding lecture to Karl Johan because he
would not creep under the floor after the key.

Just imagine! I really did get five heads of cabbage as a present—and
had my money besides!

So nowadays whenever I see Mrs. Polby standing on her front steps, I
stop and we have a little chat; for we are the very best of friends.



So many strange things are always happening to me. Can you understand
why? Some persons (like my aunt who went to Paris) never have
anything the least bit interesting happen to them. Why, when she came
home, she said (I heard her with my own ears):

“I suppose I ought to have a great deal to tell about my trip, but
really nothing especial happened and I haven’t seen or done anything
worth telling of.”

“If that’s so,” said Father, “your trip wasn’t worth the money it
cost,” and I agreed with him entirely. If I had gone to Paris, I
should have had enough to talk about continually for a month or more.
At home they say that if I just go out on the front doorstep, look
up and down the street, and come right in again, I have immediately
a great deal to tell. It may well be, however, that I talk a little
bit too much—but when so many exciting things are happening all the
time, am I to keep still and not talk about them? No, indeed, I’m not
that kind of person. Talk I must.

Now you shall hear how I came to be in Tobiesen’s grand parlor where
none of the town folk have ever been; for it was in a curious way, as
you will agree.

Tobiesen is an assistant at the Custom House—but he doesn’t look like
the other officers. They are all short and stout and red-faced—at
least they are in our town. But it is not so long ago that Tobiesen
came here, so probably that is why he is so unlike the other
officers. He is very tall and cross-looking; won’t talk to people
and doesn’t associate with any one. Would you like to know what he
does when he sits alone at home in the evenings? He embroiders,—works
on canvas! Ingeborg, our maid, says that all men who do needlework
are cross; so it isn’t strange that Tobiesen looks so glum and
disagreeable, since he sits and sews on canvas every evening. He
is not married, and he lives alone, a little way out of town over
the new road, in a house that he has bought and made all pretty and
bright with new paint. Tobiesen, as I have said, never goes anywhere
and nobody ever goes to his house; yet both Mina and I have sat for
a whole hour in his best parlor! and that without having any idea of
doing it! I was afraid enough that time, I can tell you.

I don’t know whether it is so where you live,—that a great many
wandering Gypsy tribes come to the town,—but they certainly come to
ours. There are Flintian’s tribe and Griffenfeldt’s tribe and Long
Sarah’s tribe, and many others.

Most of them come by land with packs on their backs full of tinware
and woven baskets that they wish to sell; and they always have a
crowd of dirty dark-skinned children and cross women and cross dogs
with them. Some Gypsies, though, come by boat—but I don’t know any of
those except Lars and Guro, who belong to Flintian’s tribe. They own
a big boat exactly like a pilot-boat and travel from town to town and
deal in pottery and rags. They always bring their boat to the wharf
near the market-place.

My, but you should see Lars and Guro! Both are dark, lively little
persons. There is only this difference between them: Guro wears as
little as she can, while Lars has as much as possible on him—he is
all stuffed out with clothes and rags.

Guro says that Lars is weak in the head, and that anything weak must
be kept warm, so Lars wears a heavy fur cap all summer, no matter how
hot the sun is there on the wharf.

Guro attends to the rag business and Lars to the pottery. He has some
savings-banks of red clay in the form of a bird with a slit in the
back which all the children in town are crazy to buy. Guro with bare
brown legs fairly wades in the heaps of rags on the deck, and scolds
at the children who stand on the wharf and watch her.

Perhaps you are wondering what Lars and Guro have to do with
Tobiesen’s grand parlor. Well, just wait.

The longer Lars and Guro are in town, the crosser they get at all of
us children. At first they are quite pleasant and let us go down on
the deck where they are and peep into their cabin—my! but it looks
disgusting—but later no such favors are to be thought of. Whether
this is because Lars and Guro, when their business has brought them
in some money, are always drunk, or because all the children are so
horrid about teasing them, I don’t know; but the fact is that when
the rag-boat has been at the wharf about a week, Lars and Guro are so
angry and behave so abominably that a policeman has to stand on the
wharf all day to stop Guro when she gets too outrageous. Their visit
usually ends with their being told by the police to get away from our
town with their boat the quickest they can.

The rag-boat had been at the wharf about four days and Lars and Guro
were, even for them, in an unusually bad humor. Guro had promised me
and the other children a mighty warm welcome if she once got hold of
us. And on top of that she promised that she would surely get us in
her clutches before she left the town, for worse children, she said,
were not to be found along the whole coast. That long-legged one, the
Judge’s girl, (that was I) was the worst of the whole lot. For that
matter, said Guro, she didn’t care whether we were the children of
priest or prophet or magistrate, she would catch us just the same.

One afternoon Mina and I went for a walk up on the new road. Not a
person was in sight. Oh, yes, there was; Lars and Guro were coming
down the road towards us. They walked hand in hand, staggering a
little, and quarreling loudly as they came. Mina and I did not dare
to pass them on that lonely road with no one else near, so we ran up
the hill and hid while they passed us.

But when they were just below us, Mina called out, “Raggedy
Guro—raggedy Lars!” From that came all the trouble. I was awfully
provoked with Mina. Really, she might rather have let them go in
peace that time.

But you should have seen and heard the commotion, then!

Guro and Lars dashed back to where they could scramble up the bank.
They showed that they could both make good use of their legs, I can
tell you. There was no time to be lost, for they had almost caught up
with us.

Mina and I ran as we had never run in our lives before, hopped over
stones, and ran and ran. Oh, how afraid I was!

Guro was after us swift as the wind; Lars had so many clothes on
that he was clumsy and slow in his movements, and was very soon left

For an instant, I thought it might be safest to run farther up the
hill, but no, my next thought was that it was best to get to the road
again, so I sprang down five or six feet at one leap—Mina after me.
Guro dared not take such a leap as that. Luckily for us she had to
run a roundabout way, so we had a little the start of her.

Not a sound came from Mina or me, but Guro scolded incessantly. We
ran for dear life. Lars and Guro had both reached the road now, and
the noise they made as they ran could be heard a long way. Oh! There
stood Tobiesen’s house!

“Come, let us run into Tobiesen’s,” I exclaimed, panting. In a
twinkling we were through the court and in the hall; we rushed to a
door and found ourselves in a fine, well-furnished room with white
shades pulled down over the windows. The key was on the inside of
the parlor door and I turned it hastily. There we stood. But at that
instant Lars and Guro came tramping into the hall; Guro shrieked
and scolded and vowed that she would find us, sure as fate. I was
horribly afraid, more so than I can describe; Mina sat herself flat
on the floor with her eyes bulging with terror.

There were hasty steps in the room above us, and then from the top
of the stairs came the thin, high voice that was surely Tobiesen’s,
calling, “Now, in heaven’s name, what is all this rumpus?”

“We want to get hold of the girls who came home just now,” shrieked
Guro with the voice she uses when she is in her most furious rages on
the rag-boat.

“Came home? No one comes home here.” Tobiesen trudged down the stairs
in his slippers.

“I don’t know what kind of man you are,” said Guro, “for I’ve never
seen your face before; but it’s that young one of yours I want to get
hold of—the one who came home here just now with that long-legged
girl of the Judge’s.”

“Are you crazy, folk? I have no young one—I am not married.”

“When we find them, we’ll break every bone in their bodies,” Lars’
thick voice growled from under his fur cap and out of his muffled

Mina and I looked at each other. What a frightful position we were
in—only a little thin door between us and that furious Guro and Lars
and with no one to protect us but Tobiesen, who might be angry with
us, too!

Guro screamed louder and louder.

“If you think I am afraid of you, you make a big mistake,” she
shouted. “I’m going to find them, be sure of that.” She rushed
farther into the hall, and shook one of the doors. Tobiesen spoke
again, his voice sounding perfectly desperate.

“See here, you two,—here—take this, but go—only go away.”

Guro’s manner and tone changed at once.

“Thanks and honor—thanks and honor—My, such a wonderful nice man!
Now, truly, you can’t tell by the outside of folk how they are
inside—such a wonderful nice man!”

Evidently he had given them money to make them go away.

“Now go,” Tobiesen repeated. “Go away at once.”

There! They were out of the door and he turned the key in its lock
after them.

“Whew!” Tobiesen gave a long whistle of relief, but if he had known
that we were in his grand parlor he’d have whistled louder yet! I had
a little hope that he might go up-stairs again; but no, he went into
a room just across the hall.

“Oh, Mina! How splendid that they have gone!”

“But I’m almost as afraid of Tobiesen as I am of Lars and Guro,”
whispered Mina, looking up at me.

“Sh—just keep still. We must wait a little while.” We listened and
listened; not a sound was to be heard in the whole house.

Perhaps we could steal away now; but, scared as we were, I simply had
to see Tobiesen’s fancy work.

Everywhere in the room, on the chairs and on the sofa were placed
small white covers that must surely have embroidered pieces under
them. I went on tiptoe over the floor.

“Why, Mina! Really, his work isn’t so bad! Come and see.” There was
an angel’s head worked on canvas in white beads on a sofa-pillow, and
a harp among roses on the back of a chair.

But Mina dared not stir from the door.

“Sh-sh! Don’t talk. Come back again, Inger Johanne; he will hear you.
Ugh! if he should come——”

I turned the key of the parlor door slowly, slowly round. It was
great good luck for us that everything in Tobiesen’s house was so
well taken care of, for the lock had just been oiled, and the key
didn’t make a sound. We tiptoed out into the hall, in dead silence,
only making motions to each other.

We reached the street door, turned that key as carefully as we had
the other, opened the door quickly—and we were out!

When we had gone three or four steps from the house I turned and
looked back. At the door stood Tobiesen staring after us. Such
astonishment as his face showed I never saw on any other face. Mina
and I ran down the street as fast as we could.

Well, that’s the way we escaped from Tobiesen as well as from Lars
and Guro, but tell me, don’t you think it was a frightful situation
for us?

Ever since that time, when I see Tobiesen in the distance, I turn and
go into another street, I am so afraid he will recognize me.

In the evening of the same day that Lars and Guro had chased us, they
were sent out of town for quarreling in the streets, and since then
nothing has been seen of them.



A dancing-master had come to town and almost all the children were to
go to his dancing-school. He was Swedish, his name was Baklind, and
he had engaged a room at Madam Pirk’s.

Madam Pirk kept cows and made her living chiefly by selling milk. She
sold cream, too; but into that she put potato flour so that it should
look thick. She was glad to rent a room, you may be sure.

It was an immense room on the first floor and ran the whole length
of the house; its big windows looked out on both the yard and the
street. Under this room was the cellar where Madam Pirk kept her
cows; that must have been why there was always such a peculiar odor
in the room.

The wall-paper on this drawing-room represented a countless
multitude of green-clad shepherds who played on golden horns in
a crimson sunset glow. Midway down one of the long walls stood a
monster of an old-fashioned stove, an enormous bulgy contrivance with
a pipe that went straight up through the ceiling. To make a fire in
that stove would take half a cord of wood, I do believe!

Fortunately for Madam Pirk and Mr. Baklind, there was no question of
heating the room. The month of May had come, there was a south wind,
and a constant drip-drip outside from the melting snow in the roof
gutters. But probably the room was somewhat cold, for Mr. Baklind
always wore his spring coat, I remember. If we children wished a
little more warmth, the idea was that we should get it by dancing.

Mr. Baklind was a tall, stout man with long hair falling down over
his neck. It never occurred to me then, but now I am pretty sure that
he curled his hair with curling-tongs. I remember scarcely anything
else about him but his legs, which were very thin. He wore striped
stockings and pointed patent-leather shoes, and came every day with
these dancing-shoes in his pocket, changing to them right there in
the dancing-hall while we stood around looking at him.

Baklind himself was the whole orchestra; he played the violin,
tramped out the rhythm, and sang, “Tra-la-la!” or Swedish songs. He
was a happy fellow, that Mr. Baklind! I should like to know where he
waltzes around now.

There were about thirty children who went to Baklind’s
dancing-school. We stood arranged according to height; girls in a
long row on one side of the room, boys on the other side. Massa was
the tallest girl and I came next. Nils Trap was the tallest boy, and
Massa was to have him as her partner.

Angemal Terkelsen fell to my lot, a big, awkward boy who could
neither bow nor dance, and would never swing himself round except
when he came to a corner of the hall, where he had to turn. At first
he danced so poorly, that he had to practise all alone while the
rest of us sat and watched him. He was stiff as a poker and looked
bored all the time he was in the class.

I was mightily offended with Baklind because I had to have Angemal
for my partner, although of course Baklind was not to blame that
Angemal and I were of the same height. Still, I remember that at that
time I thought it was all his fault. Dance with Angemal I must, two
hours every day for six weeks.

Towards the last, however, he wasn’t so bad. Whether it was I or
Baklind who had improved him, I don’t know, but he even grew rather
agreeable. He found out one day that I was awfully fond of chocolate,
and always after that he brought me a thick cake of chocolate, and
sometimes two cakes. Angemal’s father was a storekeeper. I am afraid
that many pounds of chocolate disappeared from the shop during those
weeks of dancing-school.

Every evening between six and eight o’clock, Madam Pirk’s garden
fence was full of street urchins who had climbed up there to look
in at us who were dancing. They made a tremendous rumpus out there,
threw each other down off the fence, laughed and shouted.

In the hall, the floor rocked under our sixty feet, the cows in the
cellar lowed, the old stove shook and rattled. Baklind played the
violin, struck one and another sinner with his bow, counted out the
time: one-two-three-hop! one-two-three-hop! I shoved and dragged
Angemal, and the whole hall was in a cloud of dust that sifted down
from the ceiling and out of the corners and from Madam Pirk’s old
straight-backed chairs.

In the breathing-time between dances, we sat and rested, like hens
gone to roost, on Madam Pirk’s steep, white-scoured attic stairs; or
else Baklind taught us how we should enter a room or look out of a
window or do something else in a proper manner. The most beautiful,
but also the most complicated way to look out of a window was the
following: feet crossed, body in a curve, and arms leaning lightly
on the window-sill. He added also that, having taken this position,
the person ought to turn his gaze upward. I wonder if Angemal
Terkelsen, or any other of us ever stands and looks out of the window
in that fashion?

Once in a while Baklind would get frantic over the street boys
perching on the garden fence and peeping in at us. Never in my
life have I seen a person leap as our dancing-master did, when he
dashed out after those boys. I am not exaggerating when I say that
he took steps five or six feet long. With uplifted cane and curls
flying every-which-way, he literally stretched himself out flat
against Madam Pirk’s fence. But if Baklind thought he could get
hold of Stian, the watchman’s boy, or George, the street-sweeper’s,
he made a great mistake. They were up on the hill like a streak of
lightning, pointing their fingers at him and roaring with laughter.
“Such wolf-cubs—I’d like to break the noses off of those imps,” said
Baklind when he came in all out of breath.

When dancing-school had lasted for about a month, the big old stove
began to shake and clatter in a very disquieting manner.

“Poor old thing!” said Baklind. “He doesn’t care much for all this
dancing. I think we must brace him up a little. We’ll tie a rope
around him!”

Then things were lively for a few minutes. Angemal ran home for a
rope. Baklind put one chair on another, balanced himself on the top
one and tied the stout rope around the stove and then to some big
nails in the wall.

“There! now I think the old fellow is happy!” said Baklind as he
hopped down from the chairs and drew back in the hall to see how the
arrangement looked.

But Baklind had that time reckoned without his hostess. The next
evening Madam Pirk presented herself in the hall, her face wearing an
extraordinarily displeased expression.

“What is that arrangement for?” asked Madam Pirk pointing to the
rope-bound stove.

“I was afraid the old fellow would fall in a swoon,” said Baklind. “I
thought it would be wise to support him a little.”

“No, thank your majesty! My stove can stand alone perfectly well.”

“As Madam will,” said Baklind. So he got up on the chairs again and
took down the rope.

Two evenings later, we were dancing the polka mazurka with great
gusto. Baklind played the violin, the floor rocked, the stove and
even the pipe shook and rattled violently.

At home, I had heard Gunhild, one of the maids, say that to dance the
polka mazurka “with bumps”—that is, bumping into the other couples,
was the greatest fun in the world. I suggested to Angemal that we
should dance that way, and he immediately agreed. We bumped against
all the others, pushed and shoved, and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

But all at once we heard a crash from the stove—a crash so loud that
it drowned all the uproar we were making. Every one of us stopped
instantly, and stared in terror at the big, old stove. And at that
very moment—well, any one who has never seen a stove break all to
pieces can have but a faint idea of it—at that very moment, it was
as if the legs were struck from under the stove, it sprang apart in
different places, and the big heavy iron pieces toppled, clanked
against each other and fell with a frightful bang on the floor. The
long stovepipe came last. It pitched far out in the room amongst
us, and an avalanche of soot spread like thick smoke through the
drawing-room. We all sprang for the door, Baklind with us. Madam Pirk
and her maid came rushing into the entry. A heavy cloud of soot was
pouring out of the door of the dancing-room.

“What is it?” shrieked Madam Pirk. “What is going on? Are you tearing
the house down?”

“Oh, the old chap fell over. He wouldn’t stand there any longer,”
said Baklind.

Madam Pirk shrieked and wept and scolded, scolded Baklind, shrieked
to us that we should pack ourselves off out of her house. She didn’t
wish to see even a shadow of any of us inside her doors ever again.
But she wept over all the green-robed shepherds around the walls. It
was indeed to be feared that they would never again play their horns
in such rosy red light as heretofore.

“Well, it isn’t my fault,” said Baklind. “You wouldn’t let me tie it

At this, all Madam Pirk’s wrath poured out on Baklind’s curly head.

“Is it work for a grown man to traipse around, and do nothing but
dance? Well, if you don’t this minute dance out of my house, I shall
call both the mayor and the police.”

Nothing would pacify her. We had danced for the last time in Madam
Pirk’s big room.

During the two weeks that remained of the course, we had to crowd
ourselves together in Baklind’s room at the hotel; and Angemal and I
were not allowed to dance the polka mazurka “with bumps” any more.



I don’t know anything more delightful than St. John’s
Night,—beautiful, bright St. John’s Night.

There are, though, three awfully jolly days in the year: Christmas,
my birthday, and St. John’s or Midsummer Day.

Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve, is something very special; it
stands entirely by itself, and seems to mean Father and Mother and
all the family. No one should be with us then except those we are
most fond of—those that belong here at home.

Then my birthday is my very own day. What I like best about that are
the presents I get and also that I am a year older. For, really,
isn’t it tedious to keep on being twelve years old everlastingly?
Of course, when any one asked me last year how old I was, I always
said, “In my thirteenth year.” That sounded older,—not so unspeakably

But St. John’s Day! Then there is pleasure and sport for everybody.
There is no school; the fields everywhere are bright with spring
flowers, and the houses are decorated outside with little birch-trees
standing beside the doors. Inside, birch leaves trim the stoves,
fresh garlands hang from the ceiling around the walls, buttercups and
daisies and long waving grasses are in bouquets in all the rooms.

And perhaps we have cream porridge for dinner.

Last and best of all, though, are the St. John’s bonfires in the
evening, blazing and shining wherever you look.

No one stays at home on St. John’s Night except the very old folks.
The other people of the town row out to the islands with big
lunch-baskets and bottles of fruit-juice.

Many take accordions with them, and the music, coming over the water,
sounds sad and joyful at the same time. It wouldn’t seem like St.
John’s Night at all if Agent Levorsen did not play “Sons of Norway”
out in the summer night on Green Island. The sailor boys at the Point
play such tunes as:

    “_Naa kommer jenta med kjolen grön.
    Aa hei du, aa haa!_”[2]

And everything is oh, so jolly and gay!

On the hills round about in the town the old people sit among the
small houses and look at the blazing fires and think of the days when
they were young and had jolly times out on the islands on St. John’s

“Yes, yes!” say the old women, sitting with their hands under their
aprons and wagging their heads sideways.

One after another the fires are lighted. “See there!” “And see
there!” “And there!” The air is warm and soft and still. The islands
are swarming with people who eat cake and drink fruit-juice and laugh
and dance and sometimes fight.

The bonfires crackle and flash up against the dark sky and the sparks
fly around far and near. Suddenly a piece of board or a charred
butter-firkin tumbles down from the fire and the boys make wagers
as to which of them can come nearest to the fire without burning
himself. Their faces are so black with soot that they look like

O bright, jolly St. John’s Night!

But now you shall hear how we celebrated it once. I shall never
forget that celebration, for it ended in terror.

We shouldn’t have thought of having a bonfire if it hadn’t been for
Andreas, a boy who came from near Stavanger last spring. His father,
Oscar Eisland, works at the wharf in Espeviken, and he and his wife
and five children live in a tiny red house on our hill. That is why I
know the family so well.

In their house there are two beds, one bench, and one table, and
nothing more except newspaper pictures on the walls; pictures of
murders, weddings in Russia, kings, and so on.

Although Oscar and his family are surely not rich, I have never seen
any people as happy as they are. That is why I like so much to be up

Well, it was Andreas who suggested that we children who lived on the
hill should have a St. John’s Night bonfire of our very own. Children
where he came from did that, he said; and my brother Karsten and I
thought it would be awfully good fun.

We were not going to say a word to any one about it. It was to be a
glorious surprise for the whole town when all at once a big bonfire
blazed out on our hill.

But it wasn’t easy to find things to burn, I can tell you. All that
we collected we were to hide in a place on the hill that we called
“Sahara.” We had many places on the hill that we had given names
to, “Nagasaki,” “Paris,” and so on; but “Sahara” was the best for a

Andreas, Karsten, and I each had our particular work to do. Karsten
was to get kerosene for us to pour over the fire to make it burn
very briskly. And just think! He took an empty bottle and went around
to all the cooks on our street and asked them for a few drops of
kerosene. That was stupid, I thought, for naturally the maids would
tattle—but Karsten said no, cooks never tattled.

I did nothing but spy around in all the woodsheds and lofts I could
get into for things to burn. You see, we couldn’t expect to get hold
of old boats as the people on the islands did. A few bits of board I
found, of course, but nothing of any account.

Andreas was the handiest person you can imagine, swift as a chamois
and very strong. Every day he, with dirty bare legs, appeared in
our hall and asked if there was something for him to carry up to
“Sahara,” for that was his business; but usually there was nothing.

Day after day went by, and still the store of fuel up in “Sahara” was
not very big. Then one day my eyes fell on an old bedstead that stood
in Mrs. Petersen’s woodshed. It was very dirty and had stood there a
long time, surely half a year.

I could not get that bedstead out of my mind. Mrs. Petersen couldn’t
care the least bit about it, since it had stood in the woodshed so
long. It was very old, and painted red, and would burn gloriously.
Probably Mrs. Petersen would only be thankful if we took it, dirty as
it was, out of her way.

I consulted with Andreas and Karsten. “Oh, yes, we’ll take it,” said
Andreas. I rather think Andreas would have taken the two beds out of
his house, if he could, so as to have something to burn.

“If Mrs. Petersen were only not so severe, we might ask her for the
bed,” said Karsten. Karsten always says people are “severe” when they
are cross or angry.

No, ask Mrs. Petersen for the bed we dared not, that was sure. But
we couldn’t have a bonfire without fuel, so if you’ll believe it, we
took the old bedstead one evening without so much as saying “by your
leave” to any one.

Andreas took it apart and carried it all up to “Sahara” as if it were
a feather!

My, but that would make a grand bonfire!

First the bedstead, then a big butter-firkin filled with heather on
top of it, and in the firkin we fixed a tall pole with an enormous
bunch of heather soaked in kerosene tied on its top.

Now people needn’t plume themselves on their grand bonfires out on
the island, for our bonfire would be seen as far away as Jomfruland,
that was certain.

The weather wasn’t very good that St. John’s Night. It had been dingy
and gray all day, getting ready to rain; and that was good surely,
for we hadn’t had rain for four weeks and the grass was stiff and
yellow and the heather as dry as tinder over the whole hill.

But since the rain had waited so long, it might as well wait until
St. John’s Night was over. That is what I thought then, at any rate.

The whole afternoon we stayed up there on the hill, arranging and
improving our pile of fuel, so that everything should be perfect
for the evening. From that height we could see over the whole town,
into the streets and courtyards. Men looked about as big as pins, and
children looked like pinheads; yet we knew every pin and pinhead we
saw down there. We saw the boys rowing out to the islands; and far
beyond the islands we could see Skagerak, gray and billowy, with tiny
white-capped waves, and with heavy gray air lying above its waters.

O dear, O dear! How the time dragged before it grew dark that
evening! At last we could wait no longer but lighted our bonfire
before any others were lighted.

The bunch of heather at the top of the pole blazed up like a great
bouquet of fire. It looked perfectly magnificent, really.

There! Now Mrs. Petersen’s bedstead had caught. Hurrah! What fun!
Greatest fun in the world!

We danced and skipped and shouted, “Hurrah!” looking towards the town
all the time to see whether any one noticed our splendid bonfire.
Hurrah! Hurrah!

The wind began to blow,—to blow very hard. Sparks flew all over the
hill. We could not stand in the lee of the bonfire, for it would have
been like standing in a sea of flame.

Well, if the townsfolk didn’t see that fire now, it must be that
they had no eyes in their heads. Andreas turned somersaults in the
heather. Hurrah! Hurrah!

But all at once I noticed some little flames springing up here and

“The heather is on fire!” I shouted.

“Hurrah!” shouted Andreas and Karsten in high glee.

But at that moment something seemed to tighten in my chest. I was
afraid with a great sudden fear.

“Now all that will be a St. John’s Night bonfire,” said Karsten
gleefully, pointing towards the moor.

“Are you crazy? Put it out! Only put it out!” I shouted.


_Page 75._]

The whole hill was covered with heather as far as one could see,
heather as dry as tinder from the long drought. Suppose it should all
get on fire! I rushed forward, tramped in the burning heather and
beat it with a stick.

“Help me put it out! Help me put it out!” I cried. The boys were
frightened, too, now, and we all worked frantically; but the sparks
showered down faster and faster and the fire seemed to blaze up
everywhere at the same instant.

It was terrible. Down in the streets people stopped and looked up
and some began to run. I was ready to throw myself into the burning
heather, so terrified was I. And the wind howled and blew and swarms
of sparks danced about in all directions.

Suppose the whole moor should take fire,—and perhaps the whole world
be burnt up—it would all be our fault. The bonfire crackled and
blazed against the dark sky and the flames hissed in the heather.

Those moments I cannot write about. I don’t believe I thought of
anything, I was so overwhelmed by fear.

I tramped, I shrieked, I ran right into the midst of the burning
heather and shouted I don’t know what.

Over the moor some people came running swiftly, big, smoke-begrimed
men, Constable Midsen, Alexander Brygga, Herman Dilt, and many, many

“What lawlessness and foolery is this?” shouted Constable Midsen.
“There is hard punishment, and fines besides, for such doings. Help
here, fellows. Quick!”

The whole of our beautiful bonfire was thrown down before you could
count three, tramped on and put out, Constable Midsen giving the

It seems to me I can hear his voice yet, mingled with the noisy
blasts of the wind over the dark moor where the fire still crackled
and snapped in the heather.

And it was all our fault! Such hard work as we had had, and such
grand fun as we had expected to have! It would be best for me to
run away at once, I thought; but no, it would be a shame to do that.
Midsen held Karsten and Andreas as in a vise so that they should not
run away; and it was just as much my fault as theirs.

I sat on a stone and cried hard; Andreas choked and cried and dried
his eyes on his jacket-sleeves, first one and then the other; but
Karsten fairly bellowed—his way of crying.

The men kept on tearing up the heather so as to stop the fire, and
scolding us constantly. I wonder whether you can possibly imagine how
perfectly horrid it was. I shall never again have a bonfire of my
own, if I live to be a hundred years old.

Suddenly I felt a raindrop—then another and another—and then it began
to pour.

“Well, you may thank the Lord for His merciful judgment,” said
Midsen. “Now the fire will be put out by the rain.”

And what do you think? I cried harder than ever then for joy; and in
my heart I thanked God over and over that He had let the rain come
just at that time.

When the fire was entirely out and we trudged down the hill, it was
almost pitch-dark; water trickled from my clothes, my eyes smarted
from the smoke, my hands were scorched, but the worst was, I was
unspeakably afraid of what Father would say.

What he said and what came afterward, I won’t tell of in detail for
it was altogether too horrid. I was dreadfully, dreadfully sorry I
had not asked Mother about having a bonfire, I can tell you.

Father had to pay Mrs. Petersen for her old bedstead. What do you
think of that! Probably he had to pay extra for the dirt on it.

And yet, she was so “severe,” as Karsten would say, that she all but
chased me out of her house with a broom when I went to beg her pardon.

I had to do that. Father said I must.

Ugh! But of course it _was_ wrong to take her bedstead.



  Now comes the maiden with dress of green.
  Oh, heigh, dear! Oh, ho!



Every once in a while, a traveling photographer comes to our town.
They take rather spotty pictures in one or another courtyard under
the open sky, seldom pay for the room where they have lodged, and
are suddenly gone. Such traveling photographers look almost alike,
usually having black curly hair with pomade in it, and pale faces;
they parade around in the street, walking quickly as if they were
awfully busy.

But one summer a photographer came who was altogether different. In
the first place, his name was Cavallius, and he was a little bit of
a man; that is, his legs were very short. The upper part of his body
was big enough, and his face was large, with a long golden, curly
beard that reached down over his chest; and the whole time he was in
town, he had big patches of court-plaster behind his ears. He never
looked as if he were busy. He spoke slowly and never walked fast; and
there was a kind of dignity about him, from the court-plaster patches
to his long golden beard and even to his short legs, that was quite

That dignified appearance was a real achievement for little
Cavallius; for truly it can’t be very easy to appear dignified with
almost no legs and with plasters behind the ears.

The first time I saw Cavallius on the street I naturally had no idea
who he was, so of course I followed him till I saw that he went into
Stiansen’s bakery. Fortunately I had two _öre_[3] in my pocket, so I
could make an errand in the shop. I had an overwhelming desire, you
see, to find out something about this queer person. Baker Stiansen
was in the shop himself. “Two _öre_ worth of brown barley sugar,

Stiansen’s barley sugar is never very good,—it is too soft,—but of
course I had to buy something, since I had gone in.

“Who was that who came in here just now, Stiansen, a little man with
a yellow beard?” I asked.

“Oh, he is one who takes pictures of people,” Stiansen answered

“What is his name?”

“His name is nothing less than Cavallius.”

That is the way I found out who Cavallius was. I didn’t like to
ask any more questions, although there was still much I wanted to
know. After this, however, I had a tremendous desire to peep into
Stiansen’s courtyard to see how the little photographer arranged
things there; but I didn’t dare venture through the gate, because
Stiansen is so cross and disagreeable if you even stick your nose in
his courtyard.

But one day it suddenly occurred to me that any one in the loft up in
Peckells’ barn would have the most perfect view over Cavallius in the
courtyard. I went immediately to Massa Peckell.

“Oh, Massa!” I said, “let’s go up into your hayloft. Through that
round window there we can look right down on the little photographer
taking pictures in Stiansen’s courtyard.”

Yes, indeed, Massa would go.

Stiansen’s courtyard is a narrow oblong, and the sun beats down upon
it bright and hot. We had come at a fortunate moment, it seemed, for
Cavallius was just about to photograph fat Barbara who works for
Madam Pirk.

Barbara sat stiffly upright on a chair. Her dress was so tight that
it looked ready to burst open any minute. Her big, red hands were
crossed as if they were tied together at the wrists. Cavallius was
arranging the screw she should have at the back of her neck to hold
her head still.

“Sh, sh!” I whispered. “Keep perfectly quiet so that he will not
notice us.” Massa and I scarcely stirred, up there at the loft window.

“Will you sit for a full face or for a profile?” Cavallius asked.
He talked in a slow formal way that corresponded well with his
dignified bearing.

“What’s that?” asked Barbara turning herself hastily towards him.

“There, there,” said Cavallius, soothingly. “Will you sit sideways or

“Straight,” said Barbara. “Talk decent, you, when you talk to decent

Cavallius was humming a little to himself and took hold of her face
to place it in the right position.

He had scarcely put one of his small stumpy fingers against Barbara’s
fat cheek before she pushed her big working-woman’s fist with such
force against Cavallius’ chest that he tumbled backward. It was an
awfully comical sight. Both Massa and I forgot ourselves and shrieked
with laughter. Cavallius threw an astonished glance up at the loft
window where we stood, but he said nothing. Moreover, he did not lose
his air of dignity.

“Are you out of your mind, woman?” asked Cavallius.

“Just you try that again,” said Barbara, looking furious.

Cavallius stooped under the black velvet cloth such as all
photographers have over their cameras.

“Look a little pleasant, now,” he said in a coaxing voice as if to a

“Look pleasant? At you? Humph! I’d like to catch myself!” Her face
was like a thunder-cloud.

“Oh! Oh! I shall split my sides laughing,” said Massa. “Oh! Oh!”

“May I ask the ladies up there to indulge us with their absence?”
said Cavallius.

Oh! how we laughed! No, it was altogether too amusing for us to be
willing to leave. “No, Cavallius, we’re not going; do not imagine
that we are.” Of course we did not dare to say that aloud.

Repeated exhortations to Barbara from Cavallius to look pleasant.
Barbara looked, if possible, still more angry, and assured him most
positively that if there was anything in the world she would not do,
it was to look pleasant “at such a one as you.”

Massa and I laughed till we were worn out with it.

“That’s right, Barbara,” shouted Massa, “look more fierce. Don’t give
in, Barbara.”

“Go away,” said Cavallius, shaking his little stumpy hand
threateningly towards us. “Go away, ladies; I will not endure this,
on my honor I will not. Go!”

Just think, he called us “ladies”! We ducked down behind the window
in silent laughter, then we peeped out again. Cavallius kept on
threatening us.

“Go, I say!” We ducked down but popped up again the next instant.
Cavallius grew more and more angry. We kept popping down and up and
laughing continually, but go away we would not, you may be sure.

At last Barbara’s picture was ready.

“Well, my girl,” said Cavallius, “it isn’t my fault that you look
like a lion-tamer in your picture.”

“What is it I look like?” asked Barbara. “It’s your fault if it’s a
horrid picture.”

“That’s right, Barbara,” called Massa. “Scowl at him. Of course it is
his fault.”

“Go away!” roared Cavallius up at us.

Barbara drew backward towards the door and bumped into old Mrs.
Huus who was just coming in to be photographed. Mrs. Huus wore a
brown silk dress, gold brooch, gold chain, gold bracelets, and some
quivering golden ornaments in her hair. People in the town said that
Mrs. Huus stuffed cotton into her cheeks to fill them out so as to
look younger. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but Mrs. Huus
certainly does speak as if her mouth were full.

Cavallius conducted her most respectfully to a chair, but as he
went, he shook his fist threateningly again up towards us in the
barn window. Mrs. Huus did not see us, but I noticed that she cast a
frightened glance at Cavallius as he shook his fist in the air.

He got down on one knee and arranged the brown silk dress in careful
folds. While he knelt there, he turned and again made the threatening
gesture towards us. Mrs. Huus sent an anxious look heavenward;
evidently she thought he was crazy.

Massa and I tumbled over each other below the window in fits of
laughter, although we choked back the noise. Then we heard Cavallius
talking, and I put my head up cautiously. Cavallius saw me and
threatened again with both fists, but still Mrs. Huus had not seen a
sign of us, so to her his angry gestures were unaccountable.

“No, no, no,” she said hastily, getting up. “I don’t think I am very
well. I don’t think I care to be photographed to-day.” With that
she darted, swift as an arrow, out of the gate without even saying

I heard later that she had been mortally afraid the few minutes she
was in Cavallius’ studio, because of his shaking his fists towards
heaven, and she thought herself fortunate to have come away unharmed.

When Mrs. Huus was gone, Cavallius, with hands at his side, looked up
at us.

“There now, ladies, whose fault was that? Whose fault was it, I ask,
that that fine lady would not let herself be photographed to-day? It
was your fault. I saw that she looked up at you again and again. As
true as my name is Isaiah Cavallius, I won’t stand this any longer.
If you ladies don’t make yourselves scarce this instant,”—again he
shook his fist at us,—“I have something that will make you go, I warn

Massa and I disappeared from the window quick as lightning.

“We mustn’t tease him any more,” said Massa. “He’s too angry.”

“Oh, but it is such fun; so awfully comical.”

“Well, I’m scared; suppose he should shoot up here at us.”

“Nonsense, Massa. Let’s peep out once more.”

There were voices in the courtyard again. I put one eye to the window
and saw, if you’ll believe it, Herman Nibb, the storekeeper, who
had come to be photographed. Oh, what fun! That queer Nibb! No, we
couldn’t go now; it was impossible, with such a prospect of amusement
ahead. Cavallius couldn’t get hold of us up here, and if he tried, we
could run like the wind.

Nibb came into the courtyard, bowing and bowing. He always walks with
a dancing step in the street, as if he were on springs. He is surely
very vain, for in one day I have seen him wear as many as seven
different hats. That is absolutely true. Nibb always has something to
do with bankruptcy; either he has just gone bankrupt or is just about
to do so. There is never anything in his shop-window but a bunch of
shoe-lasts, and he sells only kerosene. Often I should like to go
into his shop because he is so queer, but since one can scarcely ask
for a sample of shoe-lasts or kerosene, I can’t make any errand in

“Be so kind as to take a seat,” said Cavallius. “Vignette or the
whole figure?”

“Is it any dearer with legs than without legs?” asked Nibb.

“The price is the same for the whole figure,” was the satisfactory

Nibb placed himself in position. He looked as blank as if he didn’t
know enough to count four, as he stood there.

“That is a fine expression you have now,” said Cavallius. “Don’t lose
that expression and you will have a beautiful picture; don’t lose it.
Pshaw! You let it go, after all.”

Nibb strove in vain to re-capture the beautiful expression.

“How was it I looked?” he asked.

I can’t tell you how Massa and I laughed. “We must go, Massa, or I
shall die of laughing.” Nevertheless, we did not go.

“Are you there again?” shouted Cavallius. “On my honor, I will not
stand this any longer.” With that he went into the house, leaving
Nibb alone.

Nibb made an elegant bow to us, whom he saw in the loft window.

“Beautiful weather, little girls,” he observed politely.

“Oh, yes.” We felt as if we were in an oven, it was so hot, and Nibb
wiped his forehead every minute.

“Perhaps it is rather temperate,” he continued, bowing to us again.

“It wouldn’t matter if it were a little more temperate,” I said.

Nibb made no reply to this, but remarked, “A queer man, that one,”
pointing over his shoulder after Cavallius.

Yes, Massa and Nibb and I could all agree as to that.

But what in the world had become of Cavallius? Could he be looking
for us?

“O dear! Suppose he is standing inside behind a curtain and shoots us
with a gun!” said Massa. “He said he had something that would make us
go away, you know.”

The situation began to be rather uncomfortable; perhaps we had
better go away, notwithstanding the fun. At that instant, we heard
a strange, short, labored breathing from the loft stairway. We both
turned,—the stairs were just outside the door,—a yellow beard showed
in the dim light. True as gospel, it was Cavallius! If I live to
be as old as Methusaleh, I shall never forget how terribly Massa
shrieked. She shrieked as if beside herself, or as if some one had
stuck a knife into her.

I did not scream, but I must own that I wasn’t at all comfortable.
However, this was no time for any long meditation.

Cavallius’ little legs straddled over the high doorsill, and now his
whole body was in the loft. There was only one door, the door by
which he had entered; our “peep-hole” was the only window.

Not a word was exchanged between Massa and me, but with a common
impulse, we sprang over to the trap-door in the corner through which
the hay was thrown down into the stable below.

Plump! Massa was down. Plump! I was down. Both of us landed on a big
heap of hay that lay just under the trap-door.

I glanced up to see whether Cavallius were coming down the way we
did, but I saw nothing of him. We rushed to the stable door, out to
the Peckells’ courtyard, out to the street, but not even here dared
we stop. The safest place at that moment seemed to us to be the
dean’s garden, so in there we dashed, fastening the high garden gate
after us. There! Out of danger! Massa was chalk-white with terror.

Looking through the picket fence a moment after, we saw Cavallius
with more than usual dignity come out of Peckells’ yard and disappear
through Stiansen’s gate.

But how in the world Cavallius, a perfect stranger in the town, found
the way all by himself up to Peckells’ hayloft that day, will always
remain a mystery to me.


[3] An _öre_ is less than three-tenths of a cent.



Madam Igland has an enormous garden with a high board fence around
it. To call it a beautiful garden would be a sin and a shame. The
whole place is filled with beds of carrots, parsley, cabbages, onions
and such things; while at one end there is a row of currant-bushes
and an old tumble-down summer-house that stands with one side on
the street. Madam Igland is a market-gardener, you see, and sells
vegetables to the townsfolk. However, I say wrong when I say she
is a gardener, for she can’t even walk, but sits all day long in
a wheel-chair by the window. She has a “spy-mirror” there which
reflects a part of the street she could not see otherwise.

No, it is not Madam Igland, it is Oline, who is really the gardener
and the ruler over the garden. Oline is an old servant, awfully old
and with only one tooth in her mouth; but that one is frightfully
long and white.

I used to think that if I were in Oline’s place, I should have that
tooth pulled out, for I thought that, being so very long, it must be
in the way. Once I asked Oline why she didn’t do that.

“No, indeed, I sha’n’t do that,” said Oline. “For if I hadn’t that
tooth, I couldn’t nourish myself.” Since that time I have looked at
it with more respect, considering it is all that keeps Oline alive.

Oline is frightfully deaf, yet it is she who sells the garden stuff
to people. All the money she gets for parsley, onions, or anything,
she puts in an enormous pocket which she wears under the front of her

Ola Silnes helps her in the garden. He always wears filthy white
canvas trousers and jacket, has a very red face, and when he talks,
grunts out something you can hardly understand from deep down in his

All through the long summer day, Oline with her bare, brown
weather-beaten legs is in the carrot-bed weeding. If you want five
cents’ worth of onion tops, or anything, you have to go right up to
her and take hold of her, for she doesn’t hear a thing. But I can
tell you it isn’t advisable to steal into the garden when you don’t
want to buy anything, for that makes her fly into a rage.

The board fence isn’t altogether tight at the back of the garden.
There are little cracks between the boards, just big enough to stick
your nose through and look in with one eye at a time; but through the
cracks you can see lots of big, delicious-looking currants. O dear!
There’s no pleasure in standing and looking through a crack at big,
juicy, red currants when you can’t get any of them.

Our currants were gone long ago. Karsten eats them when they are a
little red on one side, and the few that are left shrivel up in the
roasting hot sun; for our garden is awfully sunny, you see. But Madam
Igland’s garden, being on lower ground, is always cool and fresh,
with a sweetish, spicy smell of cabbage and herbs and onion and
newly-turned soil, and stiff, tall grasses in the outer corners of
the garden.

I had long known that there was a loose board in the fence,—well, not
entirely loose, but very shaky, you know. If you should just pull a
little hard on it, it would come loose, that was certain.

One afternoon Mina and I hadn’t a thing to do. We couldn’t play up
on the hilltop, it was so unbearably hot there. To play ball in such
heat was utterly impossible; besides, Karsten had lost our best ball.
The flat church steps which are so exactly suitable for playing
jackstones on, and where Mina and I play almost every afternoon, were
packed full of street boys who were playing with buttons.

Pshaw! There wasn’t a thing for us to do.

All at once, something flashed into my mind.

“Let’s go down to Madam Igland’s garden and see whether there are
many currants there,” said I.

Mina agreed instantly.

Soon we stood with our noses through the cracks. My! so big as those
currants were to-day, currants had surely never been before! And oh,
how ripe! The branches were so full that they drooped right down
to the ground. Ola Silnes was nowhere to be seen. Oline was in the
carrot-bed weeding. On her head she had a towel, pulled far forward
to keep the sun off of her face.

“Oh, Mina! Do you know there is a board loose over there?”

I went to it to show her. Yes, it was very, very shaky; almost ready
to come out.

“Mina, shall we pull the board away and creep through and eat a few
currants? Oline can’t hear even a gun-shot, you know.”

First a slight jerk at the board, then a longer pull; it creaked a
little and we peeped in, frightened. Oline’s toweled head had not
moved. She was still weeding in the burning hot sun.

“Come on, now.” I was already in the garden. Mina came quickly
after. We ran along beside the fence, hopped through some
cabbage-beds, and got behind the currant-bushes.

My, but those were currants! There were as many as fourteen on each
string. How we did eat and eat! Our mouths really felt sore at last
from eating so many. Now and then we peeped out at Oline, who still
stayed among the carrots, weeding and weeding.

“Can you understand how she can keep on in such heat?” said Mina.

“No, I can’t; but my, haven’t we had a jolly feast? It doesn’t show
a bit that any currants are gone, and think what a quantity we have

Neither of us could eat another one.

All at once we heard a shout outside the fence and some one called,
“Well, I declare! Is this where you are?”

It was Karsten. We looked anxiously along the fence, for at first we
couldn’t judge where the sound came from.

“Sh! Karsten. Sh!” He was tramping along outside the fence.
Evidently he, too, knew about the loose board. He pulled it away, and
was half inside the garden when—of all things!—Oline saw him.

“Out with you or I’ll make you stir your stumps, you scamp, you

“Well, some girls are behind the currant-bushes, Oline,” shouted

Oline didn’t hear a word he said, but she pushed him out through the
hole in the fence.

“Somebody is stealing your currants,” shouted Karsten from the

“Yes, you’ll catch it, you scamp.”

“Look behind the currant-bushes and you’ll see——”

“If you don’t go away and that quickly——”

We were on pins and needles, but Oline did not know what he said, of

There was Karsten outside the fence near where we were crouching.

“You’ll get paid for this, Inger Johanne, depend upon it. You’ll get
paid. Shame on you! I shall tell about it at home.” And off he ran.

Mina and I felt that the prospect was anything but pleasant,—horrid,
in fact. Ugh!

Ola Silnes came into the garden, and Oline called to him, telling
about Karsten. Ola’s red face looked very thoughtful. They both
went to the fence and inspected the loose board very particularly.
Then—who’d have thought it?—Ola Silnes, who evidently carried a lot
of big nails in his pocket, took some out and with a big stone for a
hammer, whack! whack! he nailed the board fast!

Mina and I stared at each other. We were in a pretty fix. We couldn’t
possibly get out through the gate without being seen, as long as Ola
Silnes stayed in the garden. Our only hope was that he might go out
on some errand.

We crouched there behind the currant-bushes and kept peeping out at
Ola. Apparently he had no thought of leaving the garden. He wheeled
away one wheelbarrowful of weeds after another, and emptied them out
not far from us. We sat with our hearts in our mouths each time
until we saw the back of his canvas jacket. Ugh! How afraid we were
that he would see us!

The time dragged on endlessly.

“Come, let’s go out,” said Mina almost in tears. “It’s your fault.
You’re the one who thought of it. I can’t sit here any longer, and
I’m so afraid of Ola.”

“Oh, wait, Mina! Sit still, just sit still a little longer.”

At last, Oline seemed to have finished for the day. She put on her
wooden shoes and straightened the towel on her head. Ola had nothing
to arrange about his clothes, but the two stood a long time at the
gate. Oline screeched higher and higher. She was talking of Karsten.

“And that boy,” said Ola, “is a child out of a fine family!” He spat
as far as he could just to show his scorn.

Well, they finally went. I had had a little hope that they might
forget to fasten the gate. Far from it. No such good luck for us. I
heard the lock click as the key turned.

Mina and I crept out from behind the bushes. We were stiff from
sitting so long in one position. It was good to stir yourself. Pooh!
There wouldn’t be any difficulty about getting out of the garden now,
since Oline and Ola were both gone. You can always find one board or
another loose in a fence. We ran along and tugged at every single
board. No, they were all tight, as if they were nailed fast, as of
course they were; not a single board was even a bit shaky.

Ugh! That horrid Ola Silnes, who went about with nails in his pocket!
To climb over the fence was impossible for us; it was several feet
higher than I was tall. What in the world could we do? If we knocked
on the gate, people would come from the street and every one would
have to know what we had been doing.

Once again we went around the fence. No, it was absolutely impossible
to get out that way. And how hungry we were! We had certainly been
in the garden for four hours. What could we eat? Not currants, no,
not one more. What about carrots? Pshaw! They were too small, not
bigger than my little finger; but we ate some of them, anyway, or
perhaps we might have starved.

We went into the summer-house which had eight corners and a pointed
roof. Such air as there was in there,—stifling hot and full of dust.
The light-green paint on the walls was old and cracked; there was
nothing in the room but a pile of bean-poles at one side. The windows
were of colored glass.

Mina and I peeped out at the street through the red and blue and
yellow panes and disputed as to which was the prettiest. What if a
blood-red light such as there is when you look through red glass
should come suddenly over the whole world, how awfully frightened
people would be!

Really, it was rather cosy in the summer-house.

“Suppose we should have to stay here all night,” said I. “We could
lie on that heap of bean-poles and it wouldn’t be so very bad, Mina.”

“Oh, no! I want to get out,” said Mina. The sun was now almost gone
from the garden. “If you won’t knock on the gate now, I will. I will
not stay here any longer.”

“No, no, Mina. Wait a minute.” I looked anxiously about for some way
of escape.

Perhaps—perhaps we could climb the pear-tree in the corner, creep
carefully along the branch and jump down outside the fence; but the
branches began very high up on the tree-trunk.

First we pushed Ola’s wheelbarrow under the tree. O dear! Even on
the wheelbarrow I couldn’t reach anywhere near high enough. By the
summer-house stood an old barrel; we rolled this over to the tree,
and put it on top of the wheelbarrow. Mina held me and steadied me.
Hurrah! There I was on the slender branch. I shoved myself along very
slowly and carefully.

“If it only doesn’t break,” cried Mina. “Oh, it is breaking, it is

No, it didn’t break. I was soon on the fence, hung there by my arms a
minute and then dropped down on the outside.

“Now you come, Mina,” I shouted.

I could hear how she tried and tried, but finally when the barrel
rolled off of the wheelbarrow, she burst out crying.

“No, I can’t! I can’t climb up to that branch.”

Well there! It would have been better if Mina had climbed up first.

“Mina, don’t cry! Just wait. I’ll run and get a ladder, and be back
in a jiffy.”

I dashed up the street hoping to find Karsten or some of the other
boys. No, Karsten was probably out sailing and none of the others
were to be seen. The ladder I had expected to get was altogether too
heavy for me to carry without help. I ran back to Madam Igland’s

“Mina! Mina!”

[Illustration: “IF IT ONLY DOESN’T BREAK!” CRIED MINA.—_Page 108._]

Not a sound from inside. I peeped through the cracks. No Mina was to
be seen.

“Mina dear! Oh, Mina!”

No, she must certainly have got out, but how? Or perhaps she was
lying in the summer-house in a faint from all the excitement. I was
perfectly disgusted with myself for having left her, and ran around
the garden to the gate. Far down the street I saw Mina’s blue dress.
I rushed after her.

“How in the world did you get out?”

“Why, when you were gone I got so desperate because I was alone, that
I banged and hammered on the gate as hard as I could; and some one
went after Oline and she came and unlocked the gate.”

“Was she angry?”

“Yes, frightfully angry.”

       *       *       *       *       *

When I reached home, Karsten had come back from his sailing and
had told of seeing Mina and me behind the currant-bushes in Madam
Igland’s garden, eating currants. That wanted to get in there
himself, he said not a word about, the rascal!

Mother scolded me. It is distressing when Mother scolds; not because
of what she says, exactly,—though that hurts, too,—but she looks so
grieved that it makes you unspeakably sad to see her.

“And of course, Inger Johanne, you must go to Madam Igland and beg
her pardon.”

When I came home from school the next day, Oline was standing in the
hall. “O dear! O dear! What is coming now?” I thought. Her errand was
to ask me to call at Madam Igland’s when I was passing by there.

That afternoon Mina and I went to Madam Igland’s house; through the
courtyard, over the high threshold into the tiny blue-painted hall
that led into her room.

“You must knock,” Mina whispered.

“No, you,” said I. Finally I had to knock at the door.

“Come in,” said a pleasant voice.

“Shall we run away?” whispered Mina.

But I had already lifted the latch, and there we were—in Madam
Igland’s room. I had never been in there before and the only thing I
saw now was Madam Igland in her wheel-chair by the window. She turned
her face towards us.

“Come right in, children. Why! Is it these two nice little girls who
would steal from a lame old woman’s garden when that is all she has
to live on?”

We began to cry, both of us.

“No, no! Don’t cry. It’s nothing to cry about. Come and sit here.”

“Uh-hu-hu!” sobbed Mina. “Have you nothing to live on but currants
and parsley, Madam Igland?”

“Oh, I live on the money I get for them, you know.”

“We’ll never, never do it again, Madam Igland,” I promised.

“No, no. You surely will not. But sit here now and talk a little with

So there we sat, each on her chair and Madam Igland in her immense
wheel-chair by the window where the “spy-mirror” was. In her lap she
had a black cat and on the window-sill sat another, blinking its
green eyes.

“Isn’t it awfully tedious to sit here all day long and only look out
of the window?” I asked when we had composed ourselves a little.

“Oh, no! One gets used to anything. It will soon be fifteen years
since the Lord took the use of my legs from me. First, I sat in the
corner by the bed for twelve years, but I got very tired of that. I
knew every nail-head in the floor and every dot in the wall-paper. So
I moved over to the window and have sat here for three years; and it
is much better.”

Think of it! She had sat in her chair much longer than I had lived!
How terribly sad it was!

“But how do you get to bed, Madam Igland?” I asked.

“Oh, Oline helps me. She’s a kind person, I can tell you. The good
Lord sent her to me, you see. Yes, and then there are all the kind
people who come often to see me, old and lame as I am.”

Only think! The good Lord had sent Oline to Madam Igland! How many
queer things there are in the world! It had never occurred to me that
God thought about Oline.

“Yes, she is faithful, she is faithful,” said Madam Igland with a
happy face, rocking herself back and forth.

Who would have supposed there was any one who rejoiced over queer old

I really liked being in there with Madam Igland.

“I ought to have something to treat you with,” said Madam Igland at
last. “It’s a shame that I haven’t anything. But you must come in
again, for there will soon be some kittens here, and perhaps I may
then have some good little treat for you.”

I had sat and pondered over something I wanted to say, but I couldn’t
get it out until we were at the door.

“Madam Igland, won’t you let me come in and help you sometimes? Help
you get to bed or whatever you like?”

“Oh, no, child. I am heavy, very heavy. No, the good Lord managed
wonderfully well for me when He sent me Oline; and He won’t forget
you, who have a heart for one who is old and lame. Adieu, adieu,

Ever since that time, whenever we pass her house, Madam Igland nods
to us and we smile and wave to her. One day she tapped on the window.
The kittens had come.



I love the sea. I know nothing else I delight in so much. Just to
get the smell of seaweed, or to see the white spray dashing over a
bare island, makes me happy. Poor naked hills and rocks, the salty
sea air, old wharves, rocking boats, ships that have been on long
voyages and are now laid up in the harbor,—all such things are the
pleasantest to be found anywhere in the world. If you don’t think so,
you can’t ever have known them, I am sure.

Sometimes I think that the sea is most beautiful in summer, when it
lies like a polished mirror and the yellow seaweed sways lazily and
silently against the steep gray shore; when the sun glitters out over
Skagerak so that it hurts your eyes; when the sloops lie becalmed
with loose sails and stay in one spot while the big steamers hurry
past, bound for some foreign land, and their smoke makes a straight
black streak in the sunshine.

But when the southwest wind rushes in and puts white-caps everywhere
on the sea, and the sky is so clear and so blue; and the pilot-boat
with the broad red stripe in its sail seems to hop over the waves,
while the boat we are rowing in rocks and bobs up and down, and our
hair blows all over our faces,—oh, then I think that is the very
jolliest time on the sea, after all!

In the autumn when the sea moans and roars, and the water looks black
while the spray rises like great white ghosts out on the islands, the
sea often seems grim and terrible; for there is always some one on
the water we are afraid will not come back,—there are so many wrecks
in the autumn.

One summer I was on the sea almost every day, although we had no
boat of our own. Father says that if he bought us a boat we would
certainly get drowned, all of us. However, I could always manage
to get a boat some way. If there were no other to be had, it was
usually easy to get hold of Sorensen’s old skiff; just climb over two
fences, creep around behind a little mound, and then jump right down
the steep bank on to Sorensen’s wharf, where the boat is tied.

Once, however, it happened that I jumped almost on old Sorensen’s
head as he stood looking out over the sea and talking to himself.
Then I was in a bad fix, for he is not a person to joke with.

Another time I had just untied the boat and rowed a few strokes, when
an old cracked voice called out:

“Let that skiff alone, drat you!” It was Sorensen’s, so of course I
had to row back to land and tie the boat fast again, and he came down
to the wharf and nearly scolded my head off,—he was so angry.

But I happened to get acquainted with his granddaughter Louisa, and
then everything was as smooth as butter. It was that summer I was on
the water almost every day.

The equal of Sorensen’s good old rowboat I’ve never seen in all
my days, and I’ve seen plenty of rowboats, I can tell you. It was
pretty old and water-soaked, but for all that, it was a remarkably
comfortable boat, and easy to row.

Louisa wasn’t so bad, either. Bright red hair, freckled to the tips
of her ears, and with white eyelashes—that’s the way she looked; but
search Norway over and you wouldn’t find any one to match her at
rowing and paddling and such things. She was lively and jolly, too,
and full of all kinds of marvelous stories about mermaids and ghosts
and many other queer things that had been seen on the sea. Louisa
believed in these stories as if they were gospel truth.

Well, I attached myself to her that summer and fun enough we had
every single day. I would take luncheon for both of us and Louisa
would take the rowboat.

If her grandfather objected, we had only to promise to whittle some
pitch-pine firelighters for him and he would let us have the boat at

We would stay on the water the whole afternoon rowing out to the
islands or away off in Dams bay, fishing, catching crabs and mussels,
talking, laughing, and having the jolliest kind of times.

But once something frightful happened to us, and that is what I shall
tell you of now.

We seldom rowed out as far as Bird Island, for the open sea was right
outside of that, and there was always a heavy swell there, even when
the weather was not rough.

But one afternoon we were tired of splashing around near the land
and we decided that we would row out to Bird Island and just make a
flying visit. Louisa knew a woman who lived in the only house on the
island and it would be great fun to see how everything was out there.

A light breeze blew from the southeast, the sun was shining gaily,
the skiff was as dry as a floor, for we had just emptied it; and I
had four pieces of rye cake, spread with extra good Danish butter,
in my pocket.

Oh, everything was splendid! Louisa told sea stories and we bent to
our oars with a will.

“Grandfather says,” announced Louisa, “that you may be all by
yourself on the sea on board a schooner or a yacht or whatever, and
you think that you are alone, and you are not, for the sea-spirits
are with you.”

“Ugh, Louisa! that would be horrid.”

“And Grandfather says,” continued Louisa, “that they can take
different forms. It may happen that one shows itself as a big
flapping bird or a gray maiden. Grandfather himself has seen a spirit
in the form of a cloud of fire.”

“Oh, come now, Louisa! You’re talking nonsense.”

“If it isn’t true, you may chop my head off,” said Louisa.
“Grandfather was just outside of Dröbak in his yacht; it was in the
middle of the night in late autumn, and all at once as he sat there,
a queer shape of fire glided close to him.”

“Don’t talk of spirits, Louisa—don’t. I won’t listen any more.”

“Well, there are sea-spirits and they are ugly, too,” insisted Louisa.

It was farther to Bird Island than we had counted on, and we rowed
and rowed till our arms were tired and weak with rowing so far; but
at last our boat scraped against the little wharf.

Andrea’s house stood lonely and forlorn on the rocky island. It was a
two-story house painted red, with big vacant windows, up-stairs and

“Andrea’s husband is a sailor, and I saw her and her son in town
to-day with fish to sell,” said Louisa.

We went everywhere around the locked-up, forlorn house. In front was
the open sea, gulls and other sea-birds flapped their wings over our
heads, bare rocks and stones were everywhere.

“Really, it must be jolly to live here,—like Robinson Crusoe on a
desert island,” said I. “To do everything for yourself, live on fish
and go in a boat whenever you like.”

“Oh, no!” said Louisa. “No, I should be afraid to live here. Hush,
keep still! Hear what a sighing comes from the sea.”

A green yacht was moored down in front of the house. There was no one
on board and it lay dipping slowly up and down in the swell of the
sea. On the stern was painted the name of the yacht in yellow letters
on a black ground,—_Seven Stars_.

“Oh, let’s row out to the yacht and go on board and look it over,”
said I. Louisa made no objection though she said stoutly:

“But you can say what you will, there _are_ spirits here on the
island in the afternoons.”

This was not particularly comfortable to hear just then, but I
pretended not to notice it. Twenty or thirty strokes would take us to
the _Seven Stars_,—not many more, at any rate.

It was difficult to climb on board, but Louisa, whose arms were very
strong, pulled herself up first and drew me up after her.

Then we discovered that a frightful thing had happened. We had let
go the rope to the skiff! Whether Louisa had had hold of it or I, or
neither of us, I don’t know. I only know that as Louisa drew me up
after her, I chanced to kick the rowboat; it glided away and in the
same moment was several feet from the _Seven Stars_.

I can’t say that I was awfully afraid just then. We must be able to
get hold of the boat one way or another, I thought; but it drifted
farther and farther out and there we stood.

Then we began to quarrel.

“It was your fault, Louisa; you pulled me so hard.”

“Why, the idea! It was you who kicked it away.”

“But you should have held on to the rope.”

“No, you should have held it.”

The boat drifted, drifted, farther and farther away. Neither of us
could swim. What in the world should we do?

Not a person on Bird Island. Not a person on the other islands. Far,
far back in the bay lay the town. Not a boat was to be seen—nothing,
in fact, but gulls and sea-swallows flapping their white wings and
whirling swiftly about in the air.

Louisa, with her freckled face and her white eyelashes, looked at me.

“Suppose Andrea stays in town over night at her married
daughter’s,—she does that sometimes,—then no one would come here
until morning.”

“But her son August will come, you know,” I said.

“Well, I’m afraid, I am,” said Louisa.

“Oh, no, Louisa, dear. We are perfectly safe here, you know.”

“But there are so many sounds, and it’s so lonely and strange, it’s
uncomfortable to be here; and if there are spirits anywhere, they
will be here, you may depend upon it.”

Louisa whispered the last, although we stood absolutely alone on the
_Seven Stars_, alone on the wide sea.

The skiff, bobbing and rocking, had now drifted quite a distance
beyond Bird Island.

“It’s drifting out to sea!” shouted Louisa, despairingly. “Oh,
deliver me from Grandfather! He’ll be so angry about his boat.”

O dear! O dear! How worrisome it was! And now the sun had gone and it
would soon begin to grow dark. We had not had time to look about on
the yacht yet, and it seemed as if we must prepare ourselves to stay
there for a while. But the doors were locked and nothing did we find
on the deck but a man’s old weather-worn hat.

What should we do? Stay on the open deck all night? There was no use
in shouting for help out in this solitude.

Louisa had gone to the stern, but came running back, with her eyes
starting out of her head.

“Oh, Inger Johanne! Some one is groaning in the cabin!”

“What nonsense!”

“No, no, it’s true, it’s true.” Louisa was almost beside herself.
“Some one is groaning and sighing, I tell you.”

We listened and yes,—think of it! A queer, heavy sound did come from
the locked cabin, a strange sound, as if from the bottom of the sea,
it seemed to us.

I thought Louisa had gone out of her senses, she was so afraid; for
imagine! she wanted to jump overboard.

“It is the spirits,” she whispered. “I’d rather jump into the sea—I
will jump, I will.”

I was afraid enough, but it was all very exciting, too. I kept hold
of Louisa’s dress.

“Don’t be so stupid as to jump overboard,” I said.

But at that instant fear overwhelmed me, too. Everything was so
still, so unspeakably quiet, only the sound of the waves washing
against the island, spurting up a little, then falling back; the wide
silent sky over us, the town far, far away.

From beneath the deck, however, the strange sound came louder and
louder. There really must be something queer down there. Louisa was
right—it must be sea-spirits. Fear clutched at my heart.

If only the gray maiden does not come—for she is the worst of all.
Suppose a gray figure glided noiselessly up from the cabin——

We were both ready to jump overboard now. I did not know what I was
doing, I was so possessed by fear. Not a boat to be seen, only the
gray, boundless sea!

Oh, that horrible _Seven Stars_!

Louisa sat with both legs outside of the railing; it would not take
an instant for her to jump down.

The sound from below grew louder, and it was as if some one were
walking there with a slow, dragging step. We caught hold of each
other’s hands and stared horror-stricken at the cabin door. Some one
tried to open it from the inside, turned the key—and a big tousled,
carroty head peeped out.

I drew a deep sigh of relief. The head was Singdahlsen’s, crazy
Singdahlsen who imagined that his legs had grown together down to
his knees. He was somewhat ill-tempered and particularly ugly when
he was teased. Often and often he would be on the chase after boys
who had plagued him. His pursuit was not swift, however, as you can
understand, since he thought he could only move his legs from the
knees down.

Oh, what a relief that it was Singdahlsen and not a ghostly gray
maiden! Louisa and I let go of each other’s hands and went over to

“Was it you who sang the Columbia Song?” he asked with a threatening

No, indeed. We could certainly declare ourselves innocent on that
score. Nothing could have been farther from our thoughts than singing.

“Well, if it had been you, I’d have hurled you into the sea, both of

Singdahlsen had once been to America and ever since then the worst
thing any one could do was to sing an American song to him. He took
it as a personal insult, though nobody knew why.

Pooh! We could get along with him perfectly well.

“How did you come here, Singdahlsen?” asked Louisa. Evidently she
should not have asked that, for he looked angry at once.

“How did you come here on my boat?” he retorted quickly.

“It is an awfully pretty yacht, this _Seven Stars_,” I said.

“Yes, when I once get it gilded over, and set a diamond as big as
that (measuring with his hands) upon the mast, then it will be as it
should be.”

“Oh, yes! Then it will be charming,” we both said.

“Really, I ought to be king of the seas,” said Singdahlsen.

“Yes, you ought; and have a crown upon your head.”

“No, indeed! I’ll have no crown upon my head.” And there he was, as
mad as a hornet again.

We kept on talking with him, though. One time he was so angry that he
tramped after us around the whole deck with his legs squeezed tight
together. But we were not a bit afraid of him even then, for we were
so mightily glad he was not a ghost.

Our rowboat showed now only like a thin black streak far away from
Bird Island. What if Louisa and I should have to stay out here on the
_Seven Stars_ all night with crazy Singdahlsen? It would be horrible.

Suddenly he shouted: “Up the mast with you! Both of you!”

We tried to turn his mind from that, but no, indeed; we must climb
the mast, he said, or he would throw us into the sea.

“I’m sick and tired of you now, so up the mast with you, I say.”

I can’t deny that I began to be a little afraid of him. We tried our
best to be agreeable and talked of diamonds and gold-pieces,—things
which he usually liked to talk of; but it was of no use.

“Now I shall count twelve,” said crazy Singdahlsen. “And if you are
not at the top of the mast when I say twelve, out you go into the

Oh! Oh! What should we do? I cast a terrified glance over the lonely
sea.—Just think! A boat was at that instant rounding the point and in
it was Andrea! We knew her by the plaid kerchief on her head.

Oh, how glad, how glad we were! All fear left us at the sight of her.

“Andrea! Andrea!” we shouted. We were almost crying, the relief was
so great.

Five minutes after, we were in her boat and then we did cry, cried as
if we had been whipped. Andrea knew nothing one way or another, but
it was plain that she believed Singdahlsen was wholly to blame.

While rowing us home, she told us that he was in her care for board
and lodging; and that when she went to town with fish, she put him
on the yacht so that he should not do any mischief while she was gone.

You may well believe that Louisa’s grandfather wasn’t at all pleasant
to meet when we went back without his rowboat. However, a pilot from
Krabbesund found it and brought it home the next day; so Grandfather
didn’t have to worry long.



Every one in our town says that Mrs. Simonsen’s molasses cakes are
the best in the world,—they are so thick and soft and extraordinarily
tasty. Mrs. Simonsen doesn’t make them herself,—Heinrich Schulze, the
head baker, does that. How in the world could she ever have learned
to make such good cakes? But she stands behind the counter in her
shop and sells them every single day.

Mrs. Simonsen came from Telemarken. When I was a little bit of a girl
she was the servant in Madam Land’s house, at the foot of our hill.
At that time she was Sigrid—something or other—some queer surname
that I’ve forgotten. She had azure-blue eyes and golden hair that
lay in small curly waves just as if she didn’t do a thing all day in
Madam Land’s kitchen but crimp her hair! Sigrid married the baker
Simonsen, and he died; and ever since then Heinrich Schulze has been
the head baker.

Although I had known Madam Simonsen such a long time there was no use
in going into her shop without money, you may be sure; but whenever I
have money, I go there and buy molasses cakes. If I have no money I
go in the back way through the gate and beg from Heinrich Schulze. As
a matter of fact, I go oftenest the back way.

I can always find him in the yard there. He is usually hurrying to
and fro between the shop and the bakery, and often the molasses cake
dough hangs over his shoulder like a long sausage. Schulze says that
good molasses cake dough should be so tough that it will hang over
one’s shoulder without breaking. Some people think it is disgusting
for him to carry the dough that way, but I don’t. I even eat it raw,
right from his shoulder, very often.

For Schulze and I are great friends, let me tell you. He is German,
rather old and small, has black eyes and is very wide-awake, and
quick in his motions.

One day I got him to give me his photograph. On the back of the
picture is written, “_Heinrich Schulze, geboren in Halle_.” So I
know exactly how his name is spelled. I am delighted to have his
photograph, for it is so amusing and so “grown-up” to have a good
many pictures in your album. Heinrich Schulze’s is the nicest one
I have. He looks so free and easy, standing with his legs crossed,
beside a curtain. I have an old picture of Father, and one of
Grandfather, but that has his legs torn off. Then I have a picture
of Mrs. Huus’s little dog; I begged that from the photographer
because it was so sweet. And finally I have Marie Lokke’s lover. She
wouldn’t keep his picture any longer, because he had become engaged
to another girl without her knowing anything about it; so she gave
his photograph to me. These are all the pictures I have,—few enough,
it seems to me,—and Schulze’s is the very nicest. So you see that is
why I am so friendly with him. If we had not been such good friends,
there would not have been any molasses cake story.

I know just exactly the days when he bakes molasses cakes; and on
those days I hang around the door and tease and tease.

“Give me a little dough, Schulze, just a little piece, Schulze.” And
he almost always gives me some.

One Thursday afternoon, (my, how vividly I remember it!) Schulze,
with the dough over his shoulder, came swinging out into the back
yard where I sat on a barrel waiting. It happened that I had in my
hand a tiny china doll, one of those little “bath dolls” without any
clothes on.

Schulze was in grand good humor that day.

“It may happen that I shall be the master of this bakery here in the
town. Then Heinrich Schulze will be on top and can snap his fingers
at the whole world,” said Schulze, with the dough over his shoulder
and snapping his fingers in the air as he spoke. I think that what
made him so happy was that Mrs. Simonsen had been extra kind to him
and he thought she would probably marry him; then he would be the
master of the bakery.

I don’t know how I happened to think of it, but while Schulze stood
there talking, I stuck that little china doll right into the dough.
Schulze didn’t notice what I was doing. I smoothed over the place
where I had poked the doll in and a moment after, Schulze vanished in
the bake-house.

Ha, ha, ha! What fun it will be when he finds the doll in the dough!
He won’t be the least bit angry; he will only laugh. So I sat still
on the barrel and waited, but he didn’t come back.

Oh, well, he just wanted to fool me, I was sure; for of course he
must have found the doll.

I stole over to the bake-house door. The molasses cakes were in the
pans, ready to be put into the oven that minute.

Schulze never likes to have any one come into the bake-house, so I
dared not go farther than the door. Not a word did he say about the
doll. He was surely trying to fool me into thinking he had not found
it. Suddenly I remembered that I had not studied my lessons; so I at
once started on a run for home.

That whole evening I laughed to myself every time I thought of the
doll in the cakedough. I would get the little thing back from Schulze
in the morning. But he said not a word about it then, either; nor was
he the least bit roguish or joky.

Suppose he hadn’t found the doll! Suppose it was baked in a cake and
sold, and should get into some one’s stomach and the person should
die of it!

That was a dreadful thought, and I grew so frightened, oh! so
frightened; but I didn’t dare say a word to any one about it. Mrs.
Simonsen and Schulze would both be furious, and perhaps some one in
the town was dying to-day—it might be just now—some one dying from
that molasses cake with my little china doll in it!

Oh, how I did suffer that day! I begged Father for twenty _öre_ and
spent it all on molasses cakes, for perhaps the little doll might be
in one of those I bought. No such good luck. I ate so many molasses
cakes, I got perfectly sick of them; I ate them with despair in my

At last I stationed myself beside the steps of Mrs. Simonsen’s shop
and stared at every one who came out who had bought molasses cakes.
“Perhaps it is you who will get the doll in your stomach,—or perhaps
it is you,” I kept thinking. But if it had been to save my life, I
could not have said anything to them even though I was so worried.

When children bought the cakes, however, I took their cakes without
any ceremony and squeezed them to find out whether the doll was
inside. No, I did not find it.

At last I was really sick, I was so anxious. Several times I was on
the point of going in and telling Mrs. Simonsen; but it would be so
difficult and so frightfully embarrassing. Anyway, I couldn’t muster
up courage enough to do it.

The day dragged on. At night I dreamed of the doll in the cake and in
the afternoon when I came from school, I sat again on the steps of
the bakery. Mrs. Simonsen stood in the doorway, sunning herself.

“It is warm and pleasant these days,” said Mrs. Simonsen.

Yes, I, too, thought it was warm. Indeed, I broke into a perspiration
whenever I thought of the molasses cake with the doll in it.

“Why, true as you live, if there isn’t the Collector of the Port
himself coming here,” exclaimed Mrs. Simonsen. “He’s even coming into
the shop, I declare! Go away from the steps, child.”

Yes, it was really the old Collector himself, with his keen face, his
bent back and his cap with broad gold braid on it. He stopped beside
the steps, stuck his cane between the pavingstones and looked up at
Mrs. Simonsen in the doorway.

“Is this Mrs. Simonsen who sells molasses cakes?”

Mrs. Simonsen curtsied.

“Yes, your honor,” she answered, respectfully.

The old wooden steps creaked under the Collector’s heavy tread. Now
he was in the shop. I peeped in at the door.

“May I then ask you, my good woman,” continued the Collector, “what
you call this?”

He searched in one vest pocket, searched a long time,—searched in the
other vest pocket; then oh! wonder of wonders! Between his crooked
thumb and big pointer finger, he held high in the air my little china

The instant I saw it, I was awfully, awfully glad, for now I knew
that no one had swallowed it, that it wasn’t lying in any one’s
stomach causing pain if not death.

“What do you call this?” repeated the Collector, staring in a
terrifying way at Mrs. Simonsen from under his bushy eyebrows.

There was utter vacancy in Mrs. Simonsen’s sky-blue eyes as she
looked from the doll to the Collector and from the Collector to the
doll. He had to ask her three times before she answered.

“That—that is a—a doll,” said Mrs. Simonsen at last, so frightened
that she was ready to sink to the floor.

“Yes, perfectly true—a doll. But then may I ask what a doll has to do
in my molasses cake? What has it to do there, I ask you?”

“In your molasses cake?” exclaimed Mrs. Simonsen in the utmost
astonishment. It seemed, however, as if she were a little braver now
that the talk came to molasses cakes. There she felt herself surer.

“Yes, right in the molasses cake,” snapped the Collector. “I sat
drinking my coffee and eating my cake, when I suddenly felt something
sc-r-runch between my teeth. I came within a hair’s breadth of
getting it in my throat and choking to death,—giving up the ghost
instanter; and that molasses cake came from you,” concluded the
Collector, putting his silver-mounted cane right against Mrs.
Simonsen’s breast as if it were a pistol.

“Has the Collector found a doll in his molasses cake?” cried Mrs.
Simonsen in dismay.

“Exactly, my much respected Mrs. Simonsen,—a doll in my molasses

Then there was a great to-do! Schulze was called from the bake-house
and in his baker’s cap and apron stood there talking German and
insisting that he knew nothing about the doll. The Collector scolded
and fumed, and Mrs. Simonsen never got any further than to say,
“But, your honor, your esteemed highness——” before the Collector
interrupted her:

“Keep still, I say. It is I who will talk.”

Oh, how frightened I was! Several times I was about to spring in and
say that the doll was mine and that it was I who had put it in the
dough; but I didn’t dare.

“I will just give you notice, my good woman, that hereafter no cakes
for me shall be purchased here;” and the Collector struck his cane
on the floor many times with great emphasis.

When he said that, I felt so sorry for Mrs. Simonsen and nice kind
Heinrich Schulze that before I knew it, I was in the bakery.

“Oh, it was I who did it! It was I who put the doll into the
dough,—just for fun,—just for a joke on Schulze. Oh, I have been so
sorry about it—uh, hu, hu!” I threw myself down across the counter
and lay there, crying and sobbing; but it was a relief to have told
at last.

“Well, I must say!” exclaimed the Collector, but his tone and manner
had changed. “Is it here we have the sinner? And you did that for
fun? for _fun_?”

“Yes, I thought Schulze would find it right away,” I sobbed.

“Whose child are you?” asked the Collector. I told him through all my
tears and without raising my head from the counter.

“H’m, h’m.” The Collector cleared his throat. “Well, well. Let it
pass, my good Mrs. Simonsen. I shall, after all, continue to buy
my molasses cakes here; they are exactly to my taste. And you,
child,”—he tapped my head with the silver head of his cane,—“you must
find some other kind of fun than putting dolls into molasses cakes
for people to choke on.” With that the Collector stamped heavily out
of the shop.

Mrs. Simonsen was angry with me and so was Schulze; but I was so glad
to have the doll in my hands again, so glad that no one had died from
it, and that I had eased my conscience by confessing,—oh, I can’t
express how glad I was!

“Please don’t be angry. I did it just for a joke, you know. I will
never, never do anything like that again. No, indeed, indeed I will

But what do you think? Somehow, since that time, I don’t feel like
going as often as I used to into Mrs. Simonsen’s shop or into
the back yard to see Schulze; and I scarcely ever get a bit of
molasses-cake dough any more.

I was perfectly disgusted that my splendid joke should have turned
out not to be funny at all; but the doll that was baked in a molasses
cake and all but swallowed by the Collector of the Port, I still



Up in the attic of Lindquist, the tailor, lives a comical person,
Madam Knoll. She is big and broad and very rheumatic, but she laughs
at almost everything, although she can get angry enough, too, as you
shall hear.

But my, how Madam Knoll can laugh! She shakes all over and makes
scarcely a sound except a couple of hoarse cackles at the last when
her breath gives out. It is rather alarming until she catches her
breath again and hurries on with her talk just where she left off.

For Madam Knoll can talk, too, I assure you. She says that because
she is alone so much, words get all tangled up for her and she
forgets how to use speech; but I’ve never noticed this, not yet, at
any rate.

“Uf!” says Madam Knoll when I go to see her. “I’ve had no one to
speak to all day and I’m perishing for talk; it is good to have you

To tell the truth, I go up there because there is so much to amuse
myself with. In the first place, Madam Knoll has a toy shop. Two
great wide tables are packed full of all kinds of toys. On the walls
hang jumping-jacks and red-cheeked dolls that shine and simper in the
sun; and from the ceiling hang small birdcages and brownies and every
such thing that can in any way be made to hang from a ceiling. I am
allowed to go about and play with anything and everything. I wind
up the music-boxes till our ears ring with opera melodies. I wind
the tops, too, and get a whole crowd of them spinning on the floor
at once. Oh, there is plenty of fun to be had up in Madam Knoll’s
attic room, I assure you. And Madam Knoll sits on the little platform
beside the window, singing in a quavering voice and sewing on shirts,
for she sells them as well as toys.

However, few customers climb the steep stairs up to Madam Knoll’s
room. Many days can pass when I am the only customer, and of course,
I never buy anything.

Madam Knoll had married a Danish glazier, but the name, Knoll, had
always been a thorn in the flesh to her, so, all of her own accord,
she began to call herself Madam Hansen, for she thought Hansen an
extremely pretty name. On one side of the tailor’s front door there
is a green sign with white letters which says:


and on the other side of the entrance:


People read the signs, then go in and ask for Madam Knoll.

It is not true that the newest toys are to be bought at her shop,
though; for, between you and me, she never buys any new ones.

“I should be pretty stupid if I bought new things before I had sold
out the old ones,” says Madam Knoll. But it is stupid of her not to,
I think.

Well, besides the toys there is the big tortoise. That was brought
home by a sailor many years ago, and has now crept and crawled over
Madam Knoll’s floor for at least ten years. It is slow and clumsy
about turning around, but it has lively little black eyes. Sometimes
when I sit and look at the tortoise I think how dreadful for it just
to crawl about in the half-darkness between the chair legs when it
had been used to glorious sunshine and soft warm white sand and
sea-water thoroughly warmed by the sun, down on the coast of Guinea
where it came from.

But Madam Knoll does not like me to say that the tortoise does not
enjoy itself with her.

“I should be thankful, if I were a tortoise, to walk about in
quietness on a clean, scoured floor, instead of being swallowed by
a shark or roasted by the sun,” says Madam Knoll. But I am not sure
that the tortoise would have the same opinion as she about its home.
However, Madam Knoll takes great pleasure in the tortoise. “Its eyes
are so much like my man Knoll’s eyes,” she says.

Lindquist, the tailor, owns the house and lives on the first floor.
He has one son, Kalle, an idle good-for-nothing boy who has a great
habit of sitting on the stairs leading to Madam Knoll’s room; and
on that account, she and Kalle live in continual warfare. She says
that he keeps customers away, because he is always sitting on her
stairs. Time after time she limps to the hallway and peers down to
see whether he is there. She keeps an old broom in the corner just to
have something at hand to thump Kalle’s head with if he won’t go off
her stairs.

“Now be a good boy, Kalle,” says Madam Knoll, holding the broom
behind her, “and go away when I tell you to.”

“No,” says Kalle from the stairs.

“Are you defying me, you impudent lazybones? Go away—and that
quickly.” A warning thump with the broom on Kalle’s head. “Do you
think it is any help to me to have you sit there?” Thump, thump. “Do
you think folk will take the trouble to jam themselves against the
wall past you when they want to come up to do some business with an
old friend?” A heavy thump on Kalle’s red head.

“No,” says Kalle, not stirring.

“Well, then, I shall knock on the floor for your father.” Since
Madam Knoll has had the rheumatism, it hurts her to go up and down
stairs, so she calls Lindquist that way. He knows well what it means,
darts out to the stairs and hauls Kalle by force into his room. This
happens quite often, but really not many more customers come to Madam
Knoll when Kalle isn’t sitting on the stairs than when he is.

Madam Knoll has lived in the tailor’s attic for seventeen years. She
has thought of giving up her lodging every day in all these years,
she says; but there is one thing that keeps her from moving, and that
is that nowhere in the whole town could she find such a good warm
floor for her own feet and for the tortoise’s, because Lindquist
keeps a good fire both summer and winter to heat his irons for

One day, to my great astonishment, I met Madam Knoll and Policeman
Weiby away up in Grand Street. Madam Knoll, you see, almost never
goes down-stairs, even. Her face was as red as a boiled lobster and
she talked incessantly as she limped along. Policeman Weiby’s under
lip stuck out, and he toddled beside her with short mincing steps,
for he’s an old man. Naturally, I joined them at once.

“They have stolen my tortoise,” said Madam Knoll. “Oh, that
beautiful, poor, dear creature!”

“Who stole it?” I asked.

“Well, if I knew that,” said Madam Knoll angrily, “I shouldn’t have
needed to get a policeman. Haven’t I walked with my bad legs all the
way over here after Weiby?”

When we arrived at the house Weiby searched the whole attic, poked
his cane under the bed and the commode and shook the mat the
tortoise usually lay on.

“I’ve done all that myself,” said Madam Knoll angrier than ever.

“Yes, the turtle is gone,” said Weiby.

“Turtle!” said Madam Knoll, so indignant that she could scarcely get
the word out.

“We must advertise it,” said Weiby.

“Advertise? Much good that would do!” sniffed Madam Knoll.

“What did you call the police for, Madam Knoll, if you won’t do what
he says?” Weiby was angry, too, now.

“Call me Madam Hansen, as my name is,” said Madam Knoll. “However,
you may as well go. I can see that you would never find the tortoise
if you stumbled over it.” And now she and the policeman were
decidedly at loggerheads.

The end was that Weiby stamped down the stairs promising that it
would be a long time before he would come there again.

“What is such a man good for?” said Madam Knoll. “Shake the mat and
look under the bed as if he had thought of something brand-new, when
he might know that I had done all that; he’d never find my tortoise,
not if he walked on his head all over town, I could see that by his
whole make-up. Oh, the poor lost tortoise! Do you think that whoever
has taken it knows that it has four raisins every day,—uh, hu,
hu!—and a carrot? Well, I’ll say this,” concluded Madam Knoll, drying
her eyes; “if you find the tortoise, you shall have the music-box
that plays, ‘Bim bam! Bilibum, bum, bum,’ and my thanks besides.”

Oh-h! Wonder of wonders! That charming music-box for my own!

And so began the time when I hunted for the tortoise. It was really
great fun, you know,—exactly as if I were a detective; though people
said I would never make a detective, for I was too indiscreet and
talked too much.

My! The places I went to, to inquire about that tortoise! Into yards
and barns and sheds of all sorts, down in the town, and up on the
hill; and I talked with every man, woman and child about the lost
tortoise. But no. No one had seen anything a bit like such a creature.

“Well?” Madam Knoll would say questioningly, looking over her
spectacles, the minute I opened the door. “Have you found any trace
of my dear, beautiful tortoise?”

It began to look as if there were little hope of my getting the
music-box that played, “Bim bam! Bilibum, bum, bum.”

Eight days had passed since the tortoise had disappeared. Shame on
me, I scarcely thought of it any more; but a person can’t go on
thinking of one thing forever.

One day, though, when I went home from school, past the cemetery,
I suddenly wanted awfully to play hop-scotch on Peter Bertzen’s
gravestone, it is so remarkably flat and broad, just the thing for
hop-scotch. While I was hopping there, something moved among the
barberry-bushes over by the stone wall. When I went to find out what
it was, I saw Kalle Lindquist squatting on the ground, handling
something. I crept softly up to him—and just think! It was the
tortoise! It had been lying in the stone wall, I could see, for Kalle
had taken out some stones from there.

_Page 157._]

“Kalle, you rascal!” I said, grabbing him by the hair.

“Let me go! Let me go!” screamed Kalle. But I had no idea of doing
that until I had got the tortoise from him.

The tortoise was dead; I saw that instantly. The little black eyes
usually so lively were half-shut and dim.

“Oh, you cruel Kalle!” I said. “You put the poor thing in the stone
wall and let it starve to death. You’d better look out for Madam
Knoll. You’ll catch it from her!”

Kalle only laughed and dug in the dirt with a stick.

I took the tortoise in my apron and ran full gallop to Madam Knoll’s.
I forgot my schoolbooks altogether and left them in their strap on
Peter Bertzen’s gravestone.

“Well?” said Madam Knoll as usual, looking over her spectacles as
soon as I appeared at the door.

I was so out of breath that I couldn’t speak; I just showed her what
I had in my apron.

Madam Knoll struck her hands together, but when she saw that the
tortoise was dead, she began to cry.

“It was Kalle who took it,” said I.

“Kalle!” shouted Madam Knoll. “Give me the broom!” she shouted even

When she got the broom, she pounded on the floor and called
“Lindquist!” so that people heard her far up the street. Lindquist
came hastily up, his tailor’s sewing-ring on his finger and holding a
needle with a long thread trailing from it. He must have thought that
the house was on fire, he looked so frightened.

“See here!” said Madam Knoll in a quivering voice. “See here what
your bad boy has done.” She laid the tortoise on its back and
presented it to him in that manner, so that Lindquist should see at
once how dead it was.

“What—what does this mean?” asked Lindquist, bewildered.

“Mean?” cried Madam Knoll. “It means that I shall move from here
to-morrow, Lindquist, understand that. It means that your son has
killed my tortoise.”

Madam Knoll talked louder and louder as she threatened Lindquist with
both the police and the Parliament. Lindquist was utterly unable to
make himself heard when he tried to speak, for Madam Knoll entirely
out-talked him. My, but there was a hullabaloo in her attic that day!

But Madam Knoll did not move from his house as she had threatened to,
after all, for she lives there even now.

Although the tortoise was dead when I found it, I got the music-box,
nevertheless. It stands beside my bed. In the mornings everything
has to go in such a tearing hurry that I have no time to think of
music-boxes; but every night when I undress, I wind it up and then
fall asleep while it plays, oh, so delicately and prettily, “Bim,
bam! Bilibum, bum, bum!”



Oh, I am so angry with Otto, the woodcutter! for it was all his
fault. Just because he was cross over Father’s having bought so much
green wood, he had to——Well, I’m going to tell you all about it.

A better theater than our woodshed is not to be found in the whole
town. Emil Rasmussen’s hall, where all the traveling actors play,
can’t come up to our woodshed, that is certain. Of course I mean in
the summer when there isn’t any wood there.

The little platform over in the corner, where the heavy old
baby-carriage stands and old boxes and all the other rubbish,
is the most magnificent stage any one could wish; and the long,
narrow woodshed is a fine place for the spectators. There is also a
dressing-room for the actors in the old carriage-house. True, you
have to creep through a hole rather high up in the wall to get in
there from the woodshed, but that is a small matter. What is worse
is that a box of red ochre stands right under the hole and there’s
always danger of falling into it. Except for that the carriage-house
is a capital dressing-room.

There are no windows in the woodshed. When we shut the door, the only
light is what comes through cracks and holes and sifts down between
the tiles in the roof; but there are so many cracks and openings that
there is more than enough light, anyway.

All the year round, Otto, the woodcutter, stands in the woodshed with
sawdust in his hair and chops and saws with his rough purplish hands.

I often sit on a chopping-block near him and tell him fairy tales
that I invent myself. Little reward do I get for my trouble, for Otto
says never a word about my stories, though I make them as exciting as
ever I can.

Well, once we girls decided that we would act a play.

“Warburg’s Company” had just been in town and played “Cousin Lottie”
and “Adventures on a Walking Tour.” We had had free tickets every
evening and I had sat in the front row and been in the seventh heaven
of ecstasy.

Oh, you should have seen Warburg! Such eyes! Such a beautiful nose!
And he spoke so charmingly! All the girls in our class went to the
wharf to see him off when he left town, and Karen Jensen cried
because she would not see him any more. She will not own up now that
she cried, but I distinctly saw tears shining in her eyes.

It was when we went home from the wharf that time, that we decided
we would act a play. There were Massa, Mina, Karen, Lolla, and I. We
should need Karsten, but not any of the other boys,—they are all so
disgusting nowadays. They whistle through keys and laugh and whisper
when we go past them, and I call such behavior disgusting.

But we must have Karsten, because he sings so charmingly. His voice
is so clear, so clear! When he sings:

    “_Ja, vi elsker dette landet_,”[4]

it always makes the shivers go down my back; and old Miss Weyergang
says that is a sign of the “highest artistic enjoyment” any one can
have. Miss Weyergang was in Berlin once and heard “Lucca” sing, and
she felt as if one pail of cold water after another were emptied over
her; and nothing could have been more delightful, Miss Weyergang says.

So we must have Karsten. I can’t sing a bit. When I try to take a
high note, there comes out the queerest sound. It is like the noise
Karsten makes when I have shut him in the big empty meal-chest, and
he screeches so frightfully from inside there.

But if you imagine Karsten is willing to help us with our
performance, you make a great mistake.

“Do you think I will come and play with you girls? Be the only boy?
No, thank you. Perhaps you can get such a girl-boy as Peter, the
dean’s son, to do that, but not me. Very likely you’d dress me up as
you used to when I was little. Humph! No, indeed. I’m a chap who has
outgrown all that sort of thing.”

Well, this was going to cost us dear. To try to force Karsten would
be of no use. We must coax him.

“If you will be in our theatricals, Karsten, I’ll rip off the two
big buttons from the back of my winter coat and give them to you;
crocheted buttons, you know.”

“We-ell, you’ll have to give me the two that are on the front of the
coat, too.”

“Yes, yes; but then you must sing four times,—once for each button.”

Karsten grumbled a little at this, but Massa promised him a
cornucopia full of plums from their shop, and so he gave in.

At school the next day, off in a corner of the class-room, we wrote
the program. All the other girls crowded about us, wishing to know
what the secret was. Massa and I stood in front and pushed them
away, while behind us Mina and Karen wrote as fast as they could on
the program. Such an excitement!

The principal came to the door, displeased at the noise; and Anna
Brynildsen went and tattled, saying that I had pulled Kima Pirk’s
hair. Well, it was true that I had clutched Kima by that red-brown
hair of hers, but it was purely in self-defense, for Kima is much
stronger than I.

At last the program was all written out. Here it is:



_Saturday, the 12th_

  1. _Ja, vi elsker_   Sung by Young Gioja
             (That was Karsten.)

  2. Declamation                Miss Ella Gioja
                (That was I.)

  3. The Play, “Cousin Lottie.” Freely rendered
  from memory. By the whole
  Gioja Company.

  4. “The Wild Duck Swims in Silence,” Young Gioja

  5. Perhaps two extra numbers.

Entrance fee: What you please, but not less than one _öre_ for each

It was certainly a magnificent program and a great deal for the
money. In the next recess we put the program up on the wall so that
every one could see it. They all said they would come.

Right after dinner on Saturday Mina and I cleared up the woodshed.
You may well believe we worked hard. Chopping-blocks, boards,
shavings, axes, and saws,—away into the corners with them all. We
swept and swept and arranged and rearranged; but we made it look
awfully nice, you may depend upon that.

We wouldn’t try to have scenery or “wings.” To fix up such theater
contrivances is tremendously troublesome. No, we could creep in and
out of the hole in the wall; that was much more convenient.

When it came to the point, Karsten was determined that he would not
dress in costume, and of course he must, or it wouldn’t be like a
real theater.

More coaxing of Karsten, a promise of another button from my winter
coat, and a very rare Rio Janeiro stamp,—and at last he yielded. We
took off his jacket, put a red scarf over one shoulder, slanting down
to his waist, and set an old peaked felt hat on his head. His face
was awfully red and angry,—he hated the whole thing, you see,—but he
couldn’t resist that rare Rio Janeiro stamp.

Now the spectators began to come. We peeped through the hole to see
them, and my goodness! how quickly the woodshed was filled! Pshaw!
There were the boys, Nils and Anton and Ezekiel and all. Ugh! Massa
stood at the door and took the money and I saw her shove some boys
out who were trying to get in without paying.

It was five o’clock, the time for the performance to begin.

I rang a little cow-bell and Karsten crept through the hole in the
wall in full costume. I followed him with an accordion for I was to
play an accompaniment, you see. I can’t play the accordion very well
but I hoped I might get along all right, nevertheless.

“_Ja, vi elsker_,” began Karsten, and I accompanied him as well as
I could but he sang faster than I played, so I kept several notes
behind him.

“You’re playing wrong,” said Karsten, stopping short in the song.

“I’m not, either. We’ll soon get together. You just keep on singing.”

We went at it again.

“If you can’t play properly I won’t sing any more,” said Karsten
after a few more notes.

“Oh, you horrid thing! Keep on singing. I’ll catch up.”

But Karsten sprang at me and thumped me over the head two or three
times. I grabbed him by both ears but he wrenched himself away.
There was a roar of laughter throughout the whole woodshed, and the
boys shouted, “Bravo! Bravo!”

O pshaw!

Karsten had already clambered back through the hole. I saw only his
legs when I turned around. Under the circumstances, there was nothing
for me to do but to creep after him.

In the woodshed, the spectators whistled through their fingers,
shouted and screeched. After draping a black shawl over my head I
again made my entrée in as dignified a manner as was possible through
the hole.

Until the very moment I stepped forward on the stage, I was in
the most horrible uncertainty as to what I should recite. It was
impossible for me to decide whether it should be “_Terje Vigen_,” or
“The Church Clock in Farum,” or “Little squirrel sat,” or what. The
room was now still as death.

“Ahem! h’m!” I kept clearing my throat.

O dear me! Which poem _should_ I choose?

But of all things in the world! There, at the woodshed door, stood
Otto, the woodcutter, looking frightfully cross.

“What’s all this?” he called in a rough, angry voice.

I saw danger ahead, and spoke from the stage as mildly and soothingly
as I could.

“This is a theater, Otto. We’re acting—having awfully good fun.”
Almost before I had finished speaking, the spectators shouted in

“Theater, Otto! Theater!” and rushed at him, snatching at his jacket
from behind, while Nils set up a blood-curdling Indian howl, such as
only he can give; and everything was in a hullabaloo in no time.

Suddenly I saw Otto stride over to a heap of wood in the corner and
grab a stick.

“Such trash! Such foolishness!” he shouted, swinging the stick in the
air. “There must be a stop put to this, I tell you! Such goings on in
a regular woodshed! Out with you!” He was like a furious savage.

“Look out! He harms people when he is so angry,” shouted Karsten from
the hole.

All the spectators ran for the door, tumbling and scrambling over
each other. I retired as hastily as possible through the hole,
and darted out of the carriage-house door; and up the hill sprang
spectators and actors in a wild rush.

All the rest of the day Otto went rummaging and ransacking around in
the woodshed and scolding over wicked children, the foolishness of
the world, and the misery of having green wood to cut up.

He was in a bad humor over the affair the whole summer, and will
surely never forget it.

The next day at school, all the spectators came to us and wanted
their money back. I thought that was mean, but, anyway, they didn’t
get it; for of course we had immediately spent it on lemon-drops.


[4] National Song of Norway. (“Yes, we love this land.”)



Sometimes it is rather pleasant to go to school; a little tedious, oh
yes, but often jolly good fun.

What makes it horrid is that one has to go to school in all kinds of
weather. When there is sunshine and such fresh, crisp, clear air that
it tingles through your whole body even to your finger-tips, and you
have to go to school and sit there three, four, five hours, then I
really think it is disgusting. Yes, I allow myself to say that then
it truly is disgusting.

But when there is a drizzling rain and I know my lessons, it is not
so bad to go to school, after all. I almost always know my lessons,
for that matter. When I study them twice over and then shut my eyes
and hear myself, I know them. When there is something very difficult
in our “History of the World,” such as the French Revolution, the
Legislative Assembly, the Representative Assembly, and all that,
why, then I have to study the lesson over three times.

I am at the head of the class, and always have been, as far back as I
can remember. So the other girls plague me to translate for them till
I am often bored. I scarcely get inside the class-room door in the
mornings before they rush at me, each with her book in her hand, and
draw me to a window or a corner to translate the German lesson or the
English lesson for them.

There is only one girl that I am afraid might get above me in the
class and take my place away from me. That is Anna Brynildsen. From
the moment she came into the school, and being a new pupil was put at
the foot of the class, I have been afraid of her, because people said
she was frightfully clever. She has already crept up so that her seat
is the second from the head.

There is something awfully exasperating to me about Anna Brynildsen.
I don’t like her looks, I don’t like her clothes or anything.
Antoinette Wium says I’d like her better if she weren’t so clever.
Well, I _don’t_ like the glib way she recites, as if everything were
as easy as A B C; and that self-satisfied look she wears is enough to
exasperate any one, I think. She almost never talks but when she does
say anything, every word is so sensible that she might as well be
eighty years old.

Ugh! that Anna Brynildsen!

Now I will tell you how a day at school goes with us. One only time
in all my life have I cheated at school, and it is that particular
day I am going to tell about.

I must begin at the beginning, and that is old Ingeborg who cleans
the schoolroom, wipes up the dust, puts wood in the stove, and so on.
But old Ingeborg is so old that she can’t see the dust, and when we
come to school it is lying thick everywhere. That is why I began to
do the dusting.

In the first hour, we always have a student from a Normal School, Mr.
Bu, as teacher. Did you ever hear such a name? But he is not half
bad, Mr. Bu; he is exceedingly kind. You see, very often I don’t get
the dusting and arranging done in time, but he doesn’t say anything
if I, once in a while, keep on dusting after the lesson begins.

“It is absolutely necessary, Mr. Bu,” I say.

And it really is. All the desks, the window-sills, the maps, even up
on the platform around Mr. Bu’s elbows on his desk, I have to dust.
It was only once I did that, however.

At recess I clean the ink-wells. I think it is fun to do such things.
Sometimes I dust the ledges of the logs that make the walls, so that
the dusting shall last as long as possible; for it is much pleasanter
to go about dusting than to sit still at your desk.

Well, it was one summer day just before vacation. Such sunshine you
never saw. The sea was one mass of sparkles; two or three mackerel
boats lay outside the islands. Oh, to row out there now, to sit in
the boat and dabble in the blue-green water, to land on Marcussen’s
Island, and run up on the hill there and shout and play and enjoy

But no. I must go to school; and I didn’t know a word of my lesson
which was about Olaf Kyrre. I had been certain the evening before
that I should have time to study my “History of Norway” in the
morning; but let me tell you, it isn’t safe to depend on time ahead
that way. There wasn’t a minute. I had to dash down the hill through
the dean’s garden to get to school in time, and even then I only just
got there before the bell rang.

The dust lay thick everywhere. It was highly necessary for me to
be on hand, that was evident. But would you believe it? Antoinette
Wium had taken it upon herself to begin to put the room in order and
manage things; but she soon found out her mistake.

“No, Miss,” said I. “Be so good as to sit down. It is I who shall do
this. Do you suppose Mr. Bu wants so much confusion here? Be so good
as to take your seat and keep quiet.”

So Antoinette had to go back to her desk. Mr. Bu said nothing but I
could see plainly that he agreed with me. Of course there should be
order and quiet in the class-room.

Mr. Bu is rather queer, however. When the weather is fine, he leans
out of the window the whole lesson hour, asks the questions out in
the air and we answer from where we sit, back in the room. We get
awfully lively, you may be sure, but when there is too much noise
behind him, he comes in from the window, very angry.

“You’ll get marked for this; you’ll get marked for such behavior,” he
says, shaking his forefinger at us and glaring fiercely around the
class-room. But we know very well that he won’t give us any marks,
for Mr. Bu is after all very easy-going.

Antoinette Wium was highly offended with me because I would not allow
her to attend to the class-room. While Mr. Bu was hanging out of the
window, a ball of paper hit me suddenly on the head. On the inside of
the paper was written:

  “There ought to be a limit to self-conceit as well as to other
  things. You are the most conceited person in the whole world, Inger
  Johanne High-and-Mighty. Mother says so, too.”

Pooh! That fat Mrs. Wium who goes through the streets with her
market-basket, and the neck of her dress unfastened! As if I cared
the least bit for her. I wrote a note in reply immediately:

  “Whether your mother likes me or not is for me a bagatelle.”

I really must ask if you don’t think that that was well said?

The bell rang, Mr. Bu came in from the window, assigned our new
lesson and the class was dismissed.

Well, that was good. In this recess I must learn what I could about
Olaf Kyrre, for I didn’t know the least speck about him. But there
was no studying for me, I assure you, for the instant Mr. Bu shut the
door, Antoinette came at me, angry as could be because I had called
her mother a bagatelle, she said.

“It may easily be that your mother is a bagatelle,” said I. “But I
never called her that.”

“Yes, you did,” said Antoinette.

“No, I didn’t,” said I.

We kept on disputing that way the whole recess. I held my “History of
Norway” in my hand but didn’t get a chance to see a word in it.

Pshaw! Now we must have arithmetic. There stood Mr. Holmesland at the

“Mental arithmetic! Mental arithmetic!” shouted the class. “Let us
have mental arithmetic.”

Mr. Holmesland is a stout man with sleepy-looking eyes and a reddish
beard. He said never a word, but walked up to his desk and sat down
with his hand under his cheek as usual.

“Written arithmetic,” he said emphatically when he was well settled.

“Oh, no, Mr. Holmesland! Mental arithmetic, mental——”

“When I was outside the door,” said Mr. Holmesland, “I thought that
we should have mental arithmetic to-day, but since you shouted and
screamed so, I decided that you should not have it.”

A grumbling murmur came from all the desks.

“Written arithmetic,” said Mr. Holmesland again. His water-blue eyes
looked as if they would shut any minute.

As far as I am concerned, it is absolutely the same whether it is
mental or written arithmetic, for I am equally poor in both.

Isn’t it remarkable that I cannot do anything with numbers? Just
think, I believe it would be perfectly impossible for me to do a
“rule of three” example correctly! How I shall manage when I come
to higher mathematics I can’t imagine, especially if we have Mr.
Holmesland. He only looks heavily down at you and lets it go, and one
can’t learn a great deal that way. At any rate I can’t, I’m sure of
that. But the most elaborate and difficult problems in arithmetic are
just “rat for cat” to Anna Brynildsen. She gets every one correct to
the last dot. That’s the kind of head she has.

When she goes up to Mr. Holmesland’s desk, gets “Correct” on all her
examples, and comes down again with that unspeakably self-satisfied
look of hers, she is so exasperating to me that I feel like flying
right at her and knocking her over. My! Suppose I should do it some

I worked out four examples that hour. One I really thought was right,
but the others I had no hope of.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong,” said Mr. Holmesland, as he drew a heavy
mark through them all.


“You are most remarkably incapable as an arithmetician,” said Mr.
Holmesland. “I believe if any one asked you how many eyes you had,
you would make a mistake in counting them.”

“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed the pupils at their desks, Anna Brynildsen
with them—she who seldom laughs at anything. She laughed so
exasperatingly, too, keeping her mouth tight shut, and not making any
sound except “h’m, h’m, h’m.”

At last the bell rang and I rushed around opening windows. Fresh air
I must have.

Anna Brynildsen took up her lunch-box and began to eat her
sandwiches, made with sausage. She spends the whole recess eating.

This was the time to study my history lesson; but as I threw open the
farthest window, the one that looks out on a little grassy place,
I suddenly had an irresistible desire to jump out into that green
grass. Although our class-room is on the first floor, it is quite far
from the ground, because the foundation of the building is so high.
Massa wanted to jump out, too, so out we went, I with my history book
in my hand. Thump, thump! It was lots of fun. Other girls jumped out
after us, thump, thump, thump!

Anna Brynildsen was the only one of the class who didn’t jump out.
She stood at the window eating her bread and sausage.

We stormed back into the room, out of the window again, every one of
us. What uproarious fun we had!

And then, my gracious, if recess wasn’t over!

Ugh! Olaf Kyrre. I read hastily as we went into the class-room.
Mr. Juul, who teaches our history class, was already there. Such a
beautiful nose as he has! It could be a model for a sculptor, it is
so finely shaped.

Mr. Juul swung himself up to his chair on the platform.

“Close the windows,” he said.

“Oh, Mr. Juul! Let us have one open; just one!”

“Close the windows, I say.”

Pshaw! We have to sit as if in a box with the lid on when Mr. Juul
has the class.

Now for the lesson. How in the world should I get along when I didn’t
know anything at all about him,—that bothersome old Olaf Kyrre.

I had a faint hope that Mr. Juul might forget to call on me. I
wouldn’t even look at him for fear that might remind him of me; and I
made myself as small as possible and sat as still as a stone.

“Kima Pirk, please begin.”

Kima stood up and began to rattle off something. She almost never
knows the lesson, but when she is called upon to recite, she swallows
and mutters and stutters and uses her mouth so queerly that it is
almost impossible to understand anything she says.

For once, I was glad to hear her. Mr. Juul always calls on us in
regular order, and since he had begun with Kima, who sat at the
farthest end of the class from me, I should escape.

Oh, what a relief!—that I should not be called upon to recite.

Kima sputtered and stammered. Meanwhile I made a beautiful chicken
out of paper, under my desk.

“What kind of a king was Olaf Kyrre?—Inger Johanne.”

I jumped up.

“He was—he was very bloodthirsty.”

“Is that so?”

“Oh, no,—he was very brave—only a little bloodthirsty.”

Mr. Juul went over to the window to get himself a glass of water.

Quick as a flash, I opened my history, placing another book so as to
hide it. When Mr. Juul was in his seat again, I read a whole half
page as if I knew it by rote.

I cast a glance at Mr. Juul. He was looking intently at me with those
brown eyes of his.

“Inger Johanne! If I had not seen it myself, I should never have
believed it, never—that you would cheat!”

“Inger Johanne cheated?” “Inger Johanne?” “Cheated?” different voices
called in loud whispers from the desks as all the class turned and
stretched their necks to look at me.

Oh, how sorry, how sorry I was! How I wished I had not done it.
Sorry, ashamed, disgraced!

“You may go out into the hall, Inger Johanne, and stay there the rest
of the hour,” said Mr. Juul in a deep voice.

I went out, every one in the class still staring at me.

I had been sent out into the hall before, but that was because I had
been too lively; never for cheating. Never in my life for cheating.
Oh, what a disgrace! What a disgrace! It was the very worst thing I
could have done. What would Father say when he saw the marks in my
report book? For I should surely be marked; I saw that by Mr. Juul’s
manner. Oh, I should never in the world be happy again, never! How
could I be?

I don’t know whether any of you ever stood out in the hall a whole
hour, thinking of the marks you would get and the scoldings. Well,
it is not at all comfortable. As the time dragged on, I could think
of nothing to do but to reach up as far as I could on the walls and
destroy the spider webs, setting free the captured flies that hung in
the webs, buzzing.

At last the hour came to an end. All the class looked hard at me when
I went back into the room. No one said anything, they only stared.

“Pooh!” said I, tossing my head and pretending there was nothing
the matter; but I had to own to myself that it was frightfully

I would not go out at recess; no, not for anything would I go out. I
sat at my desk the whole time and sketched pen-and-ink heads on a new
blotting-paper. I felt as if I should never play any more, I was so
disgusted with myself. Oh, no one should ever, ever cheat!

How remorseful I was, and how miserable, as I sat there alone that
recess, while the girls were chattering and laughing and having a
jolly time together out-of-doors!

During the last two hours of school we have Norwegian composition
with the school principal. We had written compositions upon “Our
Country’s Productions,” and they were to be returned to us on this
day. Usually the hours with the principal are the pleasantest any one
could have, but to-day everything was horrid for me.

Mr. Juul had, of course, told him that I had been cheating. I
scarcely dared look at him.

When the lesson time came to an end, the principal said, “Inger
Johanne, come with me to my office.”

What he said to me in there I shall never tell. It made me terribly
unhappy and I cried and cried. Never, oh! never in my life would I
cheat again. Probably the principal was sure of that, too, because he
did not put any bad mark in my report-book.

As soon as I got home, however, I told Mother what I had done, for
everything is easier to bear, somehow, no matter what it is, if I
only tell Mother.



Oh yes—that time——

In reality, this story isn’t much to my credit, but you shall hear it

You ought to see how many queer persons there are in our town. I mean
persons who are not exactly right in their minds, but who are allowed
to go about because they never do any harm. I used to think it was
great fun to run after them and tease them, but I never do that any
more; and the reason I do not is just what I am going to tell you

Well, Mrs. Lennertsen is one of these queer persons. She is awfully
dressy, wears a French shawl that trails on the ground and carries a
blue silk parasol with a jointed handle so that it can be turned at
different angles. When any one greets her, she stands stockstill and
makes a grand curtsey such as we learn at dancing-school. She is so
old that there are criss-cross wrinkles all over her face.

With every single ship that comes in Mrs. Lennertsen expects seven
barrels of gold, neither more nor less. Under her shawl she carries
a whip and is not at all slow in bringing it out to use if any one
teases her; and she is awfully comical then. But I never tease her
any more, I really don’t.

Well, then there is Jens Julsen, with a humpy nose such as the
ancient kings of Oldenborg had. He wears a worn-out silk hat and
sings songs, one after the other, incessantly. After each song he
says, “Finis,” and immediately starts a new one.

But never mind about Jens Julsen now. Evan “Henny-Penny” (I don’t
know his real last name) is the one this story is about. He is
small and rosy-cheeked and wears a gray coat that reaches down
to his shoes; and he carries a big staff that is much longer
than himself. It is really a big, stout fence rail, and you can
understand what a long way he can reach and hit with that. He was
once a school-teacher, but now he lives at the old yellow poorhouse,
although he usually spends the whole day on the wharf. There is
no one that all of us children have been so horrid to as to Evan

Whenever he showed himself at the street corner we were after him,
shouting, teasing, and snatching at his coat. The rough boys from the
Point may have treated him shamefully, but among the children in our
part of the town, I believe I was the worst.

Every single day I thought of some new way to tease him. Of course,
at that time, it seemed mighty good fun; now it makes me loathe
myself to think how I plagued him, for if it had not been for that
queer little Evan——

It was one afternoon in October. The weather was just the kind that I
like so much, a strong gale blowing from the sea, high tide washing
over the wharf, and a rumbling, roaring sound like thunder in the
air. The big ash-trees near the church writhed and creaked and
groaned; the weather-vane turned round and round, squeaking every
minute. All that blowing and stir and noise everywhere suits me
exactly. I just love it.

But I could never get any of my friends to enjoy it with me.

“Ugh! No.—Are you going out in such weather?” they say when I ask
them to go. “Ugh! Such frightful weather.”

So I go alone, up on the hills, or down on the wharf, or anywhere.

That day, too, I was alone. I had gone to the big ice-house at South
Bay, because some one had said that a big ship was adrift out there
and I wanted to see it. But, if you please, that was all bosh—there
was neither ship nor anything else worth looking at in South Bay.

When I go off alone that way I think of tremendously entertaining
things. I think of families with ever so many children and the
jolly times they have. I know how all the people I invent look,
and what they say, and what they do; and they travel over the whole
wide world. I decide everything for them. I am queen over them all.
To invent this way is the most entertaining thing in the world.
Sometimes I tell Karen and Mina about it, but I can see plainly that
they don’t understand at all what I mean.

“Do you know these people?” asked Karen once.

“No, I just invent them, you know.”

“Can there be any fun in that?” sniffed Karen, scornfully. Since then
I never talk about what I think of when I am alone.

I remember well that as I walked to the icehouse at South Bay that
afternoon I made up a story about two little girls who traveled alone
all the way to Egypt to visit an awfully rich uncle.

Since there was no ship or anything interesting to be seen, I sat
down on the edge of the wharf, thinking it would be fun to see
whether the waves would dash high enough to wet my legs if I
stretched them far down. One wave after another came rolling in,
black but topped with white foam. Whack!—splash!—one struck against
the wharf. No, it did not reach me. Now another wave,—an enormous
one—but that did not reach me either.

Some one came pattering along behind me. I turned around and saw Evan
Henny-Penny with his long staff.

“Is that you, Henny-Penny?” I called.

“You’ll fall into the water if you sit there,” said Evan.

“Shall I really, Henny-Penny?”

He came nearer, right to where I was sitting. I got up hastily. I am
not in the least afraid of Evan, but for all that, it made me feel
queer to have him come so close to me with that long staff of his.

As you can well understand, I hadn’t a clear conscience with regard
to Evan, so horrid as I had always been to him with my teasing and
calling him names.

When I had run a few steps away from him, I got hold of a little
stick and began to tease him. I danced round and round him, poked
him with the stick and sang a nonsense song that always made him
frightfully angry:

    “Anna Pelanna with light blue beard,
    If you live till summer
          You’ll lay an egg,
          You’ll lay an egg——”

“If I once get hold of you, you young villain,” said Evan Henny-Penny.

He tried to hit me with his stick, time after time, while I kept on
dancing round and round him and chanting, “You’ll lay an egg. You’ll

Without knowing it, I had danced to the very edge of the wharf
and—splash! over I went, down into the black water.

Never to my dying day shall I forget that moment. To fall and fall,
to feel the ice-cold water covering me, nothing to catch hold of,
knowing myself sinking—— The water seemed to freeze my very heart. I
tried to scream, but could not; the water thundered in my ears. I
clutched with both hands—everything failed me—only ice-cold water—I

I came up again. Oh, there was the wharf! I gave a piercing shriek,
then—what was that? Something was let down from the wharf, something
that moved. I grabbed it, and recognized it as Evan Henny-Penny’s
staff. Keeping tight hold with both hands, I felt the staff pulled
from above. How little Evan managed it, I can’t understand. People
who heard about it afterward said it was a perfect miracle, but up to
the wharf he drew me, till I could catch hold of the edge. Then he
grasped my arms, pulled and pulled with all his might, and there I
was on the wharf.

“Oh, Evan—Evan! Don’t be angry, Evan,” were the first words I said.

“I got you up,” said Evan, with a sly smile. “You screamed horribly
there by the wharf.”

“Come home with me, Evan,” I said. “Please do.”

[Illustration: I FELT THE STAFF PULLED FROM ABOVE.—_Page 196._]

I felt that I must have him go home with me or I couldn’t thank him

“Not a bit of it. You needn’t think I’ll do that,” answered Evan

So I had to run home alone, in my dripping clothes. My teeth
chattered, I was so cold. I ran all the way, and right up-stairs to
Gunhild, who put me to bed and sent some one to call Mother.

Oh, how I cried when I got to bed—because it was Evan Henny-Penny who
had saved me; Evan, whom I had teased and been so horrid to, always,

“Oh, Mother, Mother! You must give Evan a lot to eat—lots of good

“Yes, child, you may be sure I shall; but you must beg his pardon for
behaving so outrageously to him, Inger Johanne; and you must never
tease him or any other such poor creatures again.”

Since that October afternoon Evan has had dinner at our house every
single day. When we have anything especially good, I am glad for
his sake. I always look out that the best isn’t all eaten up at our
table, but that Evan, out in the kitchen, gets a good big portion.

And now I never tease any of them any more, never,—Mrs. Lennertsen,
Jens Julsen, or Evan; and if anybody else attempts it when I am
around, I put an end to it pretty quickly, you may depend upon that.
I run after a policeman immediately. Not after Mr. Weiby, who would
only say, “Well, well. Off with you!” but after Mr. Skarnes, who
takes them by the neck and strikes out with his club. Of course, all
the children are terribly afraid of him, so teasing is getting out of
fashion in our town, I am happy to say.



Never in my life have I liked Clockmaker Krause, and for that I have
three good reasons. The first is that he never bows to me, although
Consul Gjertz and the Chief of Police take off their hats to me when
I curtsey—and he also might do as much as that, I think.

The second reason is that I can’t bear the way he carries himself
when he walks. Some persons stoop forward, but Clockmaker Krause
leans over back. From his heels to the top of his head, his figure
makes a slanting line backward just like the mast of a sailboat in a
heavy sea. He carries himself that way just because he thinks himself
of so much consequence.

The third reason for my not liking him is that he has nailed some
boards together in the fence around his yard, so that we can’t run
through that short way when the clock says ten minutes to nine and
we are rushing to school in a hurry. It is really awfully mean of
Clockmaker Krause to do that, for it can’t hurt him a mite if we run
through his yard two or three times a day.

Clockmaker Krause is never out except in the evening, when there is
moonlight; and he never walks farther than from his own steps to the
deacon’s fence—from the deacon’s fence to his own steps;—that’s the
way he keeps on,—and he looks like a thin slanting streak in the

I really believe it was Teresa Billington’s fault that the fence was
nailed together. Yes, I’m sure we can thank her for that. Teresa is
housekeeper for Clockmaker Krause, and she is even more exasperating
to me than he is. She is fat and pale and the expression of her face
never changes; and when people are consequential like Krause and with
such a set face as Teresa’s, I call it exasperating. She has nothing
to feel high and mighty about. She is not from our town.

Although her expression is so set, I made her change it once, at
any rate. It was one summer evening when I was allowed to ride
the truckman’s horse home. This man lived a little outside of the
town; and there were many persons on the road taking a walk in the
twilight. As I rode along, I suddenly saw Teresa Billington with her
red parasol and her disgustingly haughty air. “Now I’ll just see if
I can’t make that set expression change,” I thought, and with that I
turned the big horse towards her and rode right close to her.

Goodness gracious! You may well believe that her face took on a
different look. The red parasol dropped into the road, Teresa
Billington opened her mouth wide and shrieked and stretched her
arms up against the steep hillside. It was impossible for her to go
anywhere, you see, for the bank was straight up and down like a wall.
But I very calmly turned the horse and rode on my way.

Another time that Teresa was angry with me was about the kittens,
but that time I was innocent. It was Mrs. Pussy’s fault. Our dear
delightful Mrs. Pussy had four little kittens and I put them in a
basket in our attic. It was a fine basket, beautifully trimmed with
lace and with a doll’s blanket in the bottom of it; but, only think!
Mrs. Pussy wouldn’t stay there.

Clockmaker Krause lives a little way from us, back on the hill. In
his yard there is a tumble-down woodshed and in its attic, yes,
there, if you please, was where Mrs. Pussy wanted to keep her
kittens. One by one she carried them, holding them by the neck, from
that lace-trimmed basket in our attic, up the hill and into the loft
of that rickety woodshed of Krause’s. Naturally I followed her, and,
sure enough, on a heap of rags in a corner lay Mrs. Pussy purring,
with all the four black, silky-soft kittens scrambling over her.

The very minute I got up there Teresa Billington came also.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, her voice quivering, for she
was in a regular rage.

“I am just taking our kittens away,” I said, gathering them up in my

“Such alley-cats that go into other folks’ houses—it would serve
them right if they had their heads chopped off,” said Teresa. “And
such gad-about children, too,” she shouted down the ladder after me.
“Children that grow up to be nothing but nuisances to other folks.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, later came the time that I planned the surprise for Clockmaker
Krause. One moonlight night he was walking up and down the street as
usual. Karen and I went past him again and again and curtsied every
time, but he looked only at the moon. Then we took a great notion to
play some joke on him; and do you know what we did?

The clocks in his shop had struck seven almost at one and the same
instant. Some boomed slowly in deep muffled tones, some rang delicate
quick strokes. It sounded like chimes when all his clocks were

The clockmaker had just gone away from his steps, and we knew that
there was no one in the shop when he took these little walks.

“I’m going to run in and move the hands of all the clocks around to
eight,” said I. “So the next time Krause comes to his shop door, they
will strike again. My! What a surprise it will be for him, won’t it?”

Karen was to stand outside and whistle through her fingers if Krause
came down the street sooner than we expected.

I dashed up the high flight of stone steps into the shop and shoved
the hands quickly around on five clocks. Just then Karen whistled
furiously through her fingers—right under the window—and I heard
Krause on the stone steps.

Never shall I forget my fright. I ducked down behind the counter in
the darkest corner, and there I lay. Sin brought its own punishment
that time, I can tell you, for it was horrible lying there expecting
every minute to be discovered. Krause busied himself with something
over on a table; then two of the clocks whose hands I had moved began
to strike, and the strokes rang out sharp and clear in the stillness.
Krause turned hastily around.

“What’s that?” he exclaimed aloud. Another clock began to strike,
then another and another. I can’t describe how I felt as I lay there
and heard them.

Krause could scarcely believe his own ears.

“What in the world is the matter?” he exclaimed. “The clocks are all
striking eight, five minutes after they have struck seven!”

Just then Karen whistled again under the window.

“It’s those rascally young ones who have been doing mischief here!”
shouted Krause suddenly, and he rushed headlong out-of-doors.

That was my salvation; for Krause naturally thought that whoever had
meddled with his clocks was out in the street. He had no idea that I
was lying behind his counter.

When he had dashed out, it didn’t take me long to get out either,
I can tell you! Down the stone steps in two hops, up the street
and around Mrs. Milberg’s corner; and there I was—safe. Karen came
breathlessly the other way through Miss Fretteland’s garden. Krause
had not seen her, either, and joyful indeed were we at our escape.

A little later we, with a most innocent air, walked up and down past
Clockmaker Krause, who stood in his doorway watching. But would you
believe it? I was found out after all! Now you shall hear.

The next morning when I was on my way to school, Teresa stood at the
clockmaker’s door.

“Are not these yellow gloves yours?” she asked.

Yes, of course they were mine. They were deep yellow and very
stylish, and I made a great display of them whenever I had them on.

“Well, well. They are yours, are they? They lay on the floor in the
shop, so perhaps you know who it was went in there and ruined all the
clocks for Krause.”

“Ruined them?” I said aghast, looking up at Teresa in real fright.

“Krause, Krause!” called Teresa. “Come out here.”

But I dared not stay any longer to talk with Teresa, for it was late
and I must hurry to school; so I took to my heels and ran away, not
sorry to avoid meeting the clockmaker.

At school I felt all the time that there was something weighing upon
me, something disagreeable. Nothing was pleasant. I got “one” on my
composition about “Love of Country,” but even that did not cheer me.
What Teresa had said,—that I had ruined the clocks,—was too dreadful.

Suppose Krause said I must pay for those five big clocks! Ugh! I was
so upset that my heart was in my mouth all day.

By now Krause had probably been up to see Father. For a moment I
thought I would not go home that day; I would go up on the hill and
eat frozen whortleberries for dinner,—or stay down on the wharf all
day and sleep in our old barn, and never go home any more,—or go off
in a steamship. Oh, what should I do? What should I do?

When school was over I went around by the wharf to drag out the time.
Every one had gone home to dinner but myself and Constable Stiksrud,
and it was absolutely still over the whole market-place. A dog barked
up by the corner and Stiksrud turned around quickly with an angry
face. Everything is to be very quiet and orderly at the market-place
in our town, you see.

“Aren’t you going home to your dinner?” asked Stiksrud, at last. So
of course I had to go.

As soon as I got home I had a suspicion that they knew what I had
done. There was a heavy feeling in the air at the dinner table.
Everybody was so silent—so silent! I ate all the soup from my
plate—something I seldom do. I didn’t believe Father was silent
because he knew about the clocks, for he always keeps still at meals;
but Mother usually talks, and to-day there wasn’t a word breathed
from behind the soup tureen.

After we had finished dinner, the blow came. Mother called me into
the pantry.

“Clockmaker Krause’s housekeeper has been up here, Inger Johanne. You
have been doing something wrong again, haven’t you?”

“No, Mother—I don’t believe I ruined the clocks—I only—I only shoved
the hands around—very quickly, you know——”

“Shoved the hands, you say?”

“Yes—just for fun, Mother—don’t be angry—just so that the clocks
should strike again—Krause would be so surprised.”

Mother looked thoughtfully out of the pantry window.

“Well, we shall have to see about finding a way out of all this;
perhaps we ought to send you to boarding-school in Germany, for you
are really as wild as the worst boy.”

“No, no, Mother. Don’t send me away—I’ll never think of any more
mischief—I’ll be so good——”

“The heart is good enough,” said Mother, opening the pantry door.
“But, my dear Inger Johanne, don’t let me hear any more complaints
about you.”

Ugh! They always threaten me with these horrid boarding-schools,
where I should learn to behave properly. When I have done something
that is a little bad, then I am to go to boarding-school in
Sondfjord, but when I have been perfectly wild, as Mother calls
it—then I am to go to Germany or to Pommeren, wherever that is.

However, none of the clocks were damaged at all. Teresa had only
said they were ruined to frighten me. But just think! I never got my
yellow gloves back. Teresa kept them and I couldn’t bear to ask her
for them.

Well, that’s the way I surprised Clockmaker Krause, and I got more
trouble than fun out of it. However, I shall never curtsey to him any
more; he may depend upon that.



All the people in the town think that our house is haunted. They say
that old Customs Officer Borgen, who used to own the house and who
has been dead for many, many years is the ghost that haunts it.

The house is awfully old, with a tremendously long sloping roof, a
big garret, lots of closets and poke-holes under the eaves, and a
pitch-dark hall with unexpected steps, over which people who don’t
know about them tumble head over heels.

Above the big garret, in the high peak of the roof, there are two
lofts, one above the other; and it is in the topmost loft that the
old customs officer walks about and busies himself; at least, so
people say.

“V-s-s-s,” sounds from up there, and a little while after, “Bum,
bum, bum.” It may be the wind in under the roof-tiles that says,
“V-s-s-s,” but no one can explain the “Bum, bum, bum.” That must be
the customs officer, you see.

The maids are always afraid to go to the uppermost loft after dark,
and really it isn’t pleasant to go up there when it is light, either.
It seems so queer, somehow, as if some one stood behind you all the
time who would grab hold of your dress or your braids. Karsten is
just as afraid as I am, but he will never own it; he just brags.

“Pooh! It’s nothing. Girls and women are afraid of everything. Well,
here’s the boy so strong that he could and would throttle seven
customs officers, if necessary.”

Ugh! Karsten has grown so conceited lately that he is beyond
everything. He is always saying that I am nothing but a girl, but
that he is a boy, he is. (Oh, you wait, Karsten Cocky-cub; you’ll get
paid for such talk, depend upon it.)

The thought of the customs officer wouldn’t bother me much if I
didn’t need now and then to go into the top loft, but I do need to,
you see. Up there in one corner lies a great heap of papers that old
Mr. Borgen left in the house, stiff yellow papers with accounts on
them. Whenever Karsten and I want any paper,—and that is almost every
day, you know,—we are allowed to take what we need from that heap.

Mother doesn’t like us to bring too much of the old dusty paper down
at one time, and that’s why I have to go up often for it. But I go
like the wind up and back again. Not that I have ever seen old Mr.
Borgen there, but it isn’t pleasant to think that he rambles around
the loft in his felt shoes and with a shade over his eyes. That’s the
way he looks, people say.

One evening Father and Mother were going out to a party, and Karsten
and I would be alone at home, except that I was to have Massa and
Mina to supper. The weather was perfectly horrid that night. The
wind wrestled with the old maple-trees around the house, pulled
and tugged at them till they creaked. The branches of the pear-tree
outside the drawing-room windows swayed to and fro and struck against
the panes.

We had been romping at a great rate all the afternoon before dark,
and had danced so hard that the drawing-room floor shook, and
Ingeborg, the cook, had come up from the basement to know whether we
were going to tear the house down. But we didn’t bother ourselves
about what she said, for she is always fussy.

Later we teased Karsten, chasing him through all the rooms, the
parlor, the little room, dining-room, living-room and out through the
kitchen; and we kept shouting at him:

    “Karsten Cocky-Cub,
    In a half butter-tub.”

The boys at school call him that, and it always makes him furious.
His white hair was standing straight up, his face was fiery red.
Suddenly he turned and sprang towards us, waving a piece of knotted
rope which he said was a Russian “knout.” Massa, Mina, and I
screeched like locomotive whistles, hid behind doors and shrieked
again in terror when Karsten caught us.

Just then Ingeborg appeared again and said in her scolding voice,
“Now, children, don’t you know you shouldn’t race and romp like this
so late in the evening, and here in this house where it isn’t safe,
and in such weather?”

“Look out for the customs officer, Ingeborg; he’ll soon be here,”
shouted Karsten.

Ingeborg shook her fist at him. “Don’t talk ugly, boy; he may come
before you think.”

I don’t know why it was, but suddenly I lost all desire for noisy
fun. I proposed that we go into the drawing-room again. Great, broken
clouds hurried over the sky, the moon shone out now and then and
gleamed into the room, bright and clear between the leafless, swaying

I should much rather have had the lamps lighted, but since the others
preferred sitting in the dark I said nothing. We packed ourselves
together on a sofa in a corner. The moon had gone behind a cloud now,
the branches kept tapping, tapping, the big room was perfectly dark
and had grown cold, too.

“Let’s tell ghost-stories,” suggested Massa. “I suppose you have
heard about Eyvind who met a ghost in the churchyard once.”

“Oh, Massa! don’t tell that. I’m so afraid I’m going to put my feet
up on the sofa,” said Mina.

All of us must have our feet up, even Karsten the braggart.

“Well, people say, you know, that the attic in this house is
haunted,” said Massa.

“Yes, but that is only nonsense,” said Karsten scornfully.

“Don’t you be so superior, Karsten boy,” I said. “You would not dare
to go up in the top loft, not for a million dollars.”

“Yes, indeed, I dare.”

“Well, go then.”

“That would be the easiest thing in the world for me,” Karsten
announced; “but there is nothing brave about going up there now.”

“Oh, he’s afraid!” “Shame on him!” “It’s a disgrace for a boy to be

We taunted and teased him, all three of us, and pointed scornful
fingers at him. “Sha-a-me!”

“I’d just as soon go up there this very minute, if that’s what you
want,” said Karsten, stoutly.

Yes, it was exactly what we wanted. Another long argument from him,
more and more teasing from us; at last he was sick of it.

“Well, I’m going. You shall see I’m no ’fraid-cat, not I.” And out of
the door he ran. We heard him tramp up the attic stairs, and stumble
around making all the noise he could as he crossed the long garret.

Never had I admired Karsten so much. He isn’t anything to admire in
daily life, more’s the pity, but when he ran up to that haunted
attic I had to admire him.

Down-stairs on the sofa we listened with nerves on edge. The
wind whined and roared; there came a sudden, violent blast down
the chimney, but we heard not a sound from Karsten. Oh, how
terror-stricken I was! Suppose the ghost was choking Karsten that
moment, and it was I who had teased him into going up there.

I sprang to the door. “Oh, Karsten, Karsten, come down! Come down!”

“Bum, bum, bum!” sounded with frightful distinctness from the loft.

“Did you hear that? Oh, oh, oh, Karsten, Karsten!”

A fresh blast of wind came, the hall door blew open, and in the very
same instant there was such a bang and a crash up in the attic as
I never heard the equal of. It sounded exactly like an earthquake.
It’s true there’s never been an earthquake in our town and I don’t
know what kind of noise it would make, but I imagine it would be
just about as loud and terrifying as that thundering commotion in the
loft. I thought I should die of fright. Massa, Mina, and I clung to
each other.

“Oh, I shall die! My heart is thumping dreadfully,” I said.

Just then we heard Karsten. He darted through the hall in a flash,
wild with fright.

“Oh, oh, oh, the customs officer said ‘V-s-s-s’ right in my ear!”

We took no long time to think, I assure you, but rushed all together
to the door of the drawing-room that led into Father’s office. We did
not dare run through the hall, for the customs officer was surely
right on Karsten’s heels. It was perfectly pitch-dark in the office.
Mina upset a chair as she ran, Massa dashed into a bookcase and
screamed. My knees shook so that my legs would scarcely carry me when
I got to the office entry.

There is only one door from the office to the courtyard. The
important thing now was to unbolt this outside door quickly. Oh,
how I pulled! At last I got the door open and the cold outside air
struck us. I felt that we were saved as we rushed out into the black

“Let’s run home to my house,” said Massa.

So down the hill we all sprang in desperate haste, Karsten leading.
How the wind blew! Not a person was to be seen on the whole street
down which we ran as if for our lives.

We came within an inch of frightening the wits out of Massa’s mother
when we rushed in upon her, white as a sheet and panting for breath.
We could scarcely speak we were so terrified.

“Oh! Oh! Such a terrible noise, Mrs. Peckell,” I exclaimed. “Exactly
like Pompeii.” I meant “Vesuvius,” but I didn’t remember the right
name that minute.

When we had quieted down and had eaten some fig-cake and sweetmeats,
we found to our amazement that Karsten denied positively that he had
been afraid.

“I ran because you ran,” said he. “And it was just because it was
so dark up there that I ran down from the loft. I am not a cat to
see in the dark. The rumbling was terrible and something whispered
‘V-s-s-s’ close to my ears; but if the customs officer himself had
come he’d have got a warm welcome. Here’s the boy to manage him,”
said Karsten.

After a while Ingeborg, with a most bewildered face and carrying our
outside things, came to Mrs. Peckell’s to inquire whether we were

When she couldn’t find us in any of the rooms and discovered the
office door wide open she understood that we had gone out. She had
been frightfully worried and had searched for us a long time, and now
she was very angry.

“Who ever saw the like of you children? Such outrageous behavior!”
grumbled Ingeborg, hurrying us home.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were the ones who got the “warm welcome,” as Karsten calls it,
when Father heard about the ghost. He immediately got a light and we
had to go with him up into the loft. Right near the last flight of
stairs lay the heavy old folding screen on top of a big tin bath-tub.

“Here is your earthquake, Inger Johanne,” said Father. “Don’t you
remember that the tub hung here and the screen stood there? Karsten
must have knocked them both down in his fright.”

“Yes, I did run against something,” said Karsten.

“You were the ghost yourself,” said Father. “And as for the other
remarkable sounds that you tell of, I shall have a man up on the roof
to-morrow to see to the tiles. He’ll put a stop to strange noises,
I’ll warrant.”

Just think of its being only the big screen and the bath-tub that we
had been so awfully frightened by! Karsten was extremely embarrassed.

Mother did not scold us or laugh at us. She said that those who had
died were so happy and so much better off in heaven that they would
not wish to come back here.

FATHER.—_Page 222._]

And that is surely true. For, really, when you come to think of it,
what pleasure could it be for an old customs officer to go wandering
about in the dark up in a loft?



I wonder if you ever knew anything to equal the wonderful winter
weather we had that day. It had been snowing until all the mountains
and rocks around our old house had vanished, and instead of them,
there were only beautiful mounds so soft-looking that you wanted
awfully to turn somersaults in them.

The day before, there had been a very slight thaw, but during the
night everything was frozen hard again, and when the sun came out
that morning, thousands and tens of thousands of diamonds were
scattered everywhere, sparkling, glittering, flashing, so that the
brightness hurt your eyes.

On the old trees down the hillside bits of frozen, glistening snow
shone out against the blue sky; the sky was wonderfully blue that
day, I remember.

How a sudden overwhelming gladness can sometimes take possession of
one! Not necessarily because there is anything especial to be happy
over. For that matter, such sudden joy can come simply because it is
fine, bright weather, and can be so exciting that you want to shout
at the top of your lungs, throw out your arms, or turn somersaults,
just because it is so good to be alive!

Exactly that way did I feel the morning I am telling you about. Our
month’s vacation had begun. I stood on the front steps with my hat
and coat on, for I was going to see Massa and Mina, and I was in
such high glee over nothing that I had a great mind to jump up into
the shining air. But I controlled myself, for through the window of
Father’s office I could see Policeman Weiby’s purple nose, and he
would certainly think I was crazy if I behaved that way.

When it is frightfully icy on the hill Policeman Weiby always wears
boots with sharp nails on the soles when he comes up to see Father.
Once inside the house the dumpy old policeman lifts first one foot
and then the other so that the nails won’t go into the floor and
fasten him there. My! I wish that might happen some day!

I buttoned my light brown gloves very nicely,—they go away up over
my wrists,—held my muff straight down, and pushed my chest out and
my stomach in, as the grown-up ladies do when they walk about the
street. Policeman Weiby probably had wit enough to see now that I was
almost grown up.

A long steep slope with trees on both sides leads up to our house.
At the bottom of the hill Karsten was toiling and struggling with a
great big box which he kept turning over and over so as to get it up
the icy hill which was smooth as glass.

The ear-tabs on his fur cap were unfastened and stuck straight out in
the air, and his ears, fiery red, looked like two big handles. With
his thick fur cap and his hard work, he was dripping with sweat; and
on his hands he had big white mittens that were frozen stiff.

“Come and help me,” he called.

I looked at my light brown, tight-fitting gloves.

“No, I thank you,” I said.

“You ought to see what fun it is to coast down on this box; it bumps
and makes such a rattlety-bang noise—it’s awfully jolly.”

I suddenly had a burning desire to try this sport, forgot completely
that the chest should be held out and the stomach in, took good hold
of the box and pulled,—and there it was, up the hill. Then Karsten
sat on the front of the box, I back of him and down the hill we went.

It might well be said that we bumped and thumped along. I felt as if
I were being shaken to pieces, especially where the road turned at
an angle half-way down the hill. Whether that turn caused it or not,
smash went the box and thud! Out I tumbled on one side, Karsten on
the other, while the remains of the box sped down and hit against
Madam Land’s woodshed with a violent whack. My hands had struck the
road with such force that both my light brown gloves had burst right
across the middle of the palm and my left knee had such a horrid pain
in it that I could scarcely get up.

The red-cheeked old woodchopper came out of Madam Land’s woodshed,
hitching up his trousers.

“Did she fall off?” he asked. I did not deign to answer him.

Karsten was furious.

“It was your fault, you are so heavy and clumsy; and now the box is
smashed that we were to use this afternoon in the snow-fight.”

“A fight? With whom?”

“With the boys at Tangen, of course. Why should they have that grand
big coast all to themselves? We boys from the town never go there
with a sled without their coming at us and hitting us; and we have
only this miserable little hill to coast on.”

“Miserable little hill? This?”

“Yes, I call it a miserable little hill to coast down when Madam
Land’s woodshed is right at the foot, blocking the way so that you
have to twist your legs off, almost, to steer around on to the church
green. But we have had a council of war, and this afternoon we shall
thrash those Tangen boys thoroughly and take the hill for our use.”

This sounded frightfully interesting.

“What time are you going to fight?”

“Oh, you needn’t think that we’ll have you girls with us. You may be
mighty sure we won’t.”

Karsten always pretends that he knows everything the bigger boys plan
among themselves. As a matter of fact, they simply order him around
as much as they please, but he will never acknowledge that.

“We were going to have that box to put our balls in,—snowballs, you
know. We were going to make lots of them right after dinner, and then
drag the box full of snowballs through Main Street and up Back Gorge
and there we would be—right behind Tangen in a jiffy.”

I limped up the hill with my bruised knee aching, but I determined
that I would go out to Tangen that afternoon to see the snow-fight,
no matter how painful my knee was.

In the living-room all through the noon-hour I could hear Karsten
in the woodshed, pounding and hammering at the box. Naturally I had
wormed out of him that the fight was to begin at half-past three

I said nothing about having hurt my knee, and a little past three
o’clock went down to the town after Massa and Mina. Yes, indeed, they
were crazy to go to the fight, even if the boys didn’t want us; and
we knew a short cut through Terkelsen’s garden, so off we ran.

By this short cut, we reached the top of the Tangen hill in no time.
Oh, but it was a splendid hill! Very steep to begin with, so that it
gave you a great send-off—tremendous speed at the start—then a long,
long even stretch. You sometimes go as far as away out to Landvigen;
but it is only our old blue sled “Seagull” and Nils Trap’s “Racer”
that go that distance. That is because they are the best sleds in

Only very poor people live at Tangen, pilots and fishermen and
laborers. The small houses are scattered about irregularly, one
little hut on a height, and another in a hollow.

The whole hill was swarming with children that day,—boys and girls,
big and little, and the air rang with their shouting and laughter
and jollity. Not many of the children had real sleds; they coasted
mostly on a long board, six or eight of them on it at a time. What
of that? Hey hurrah! how they went! Some stood on skiis, the kind
they make themselves out of barrel-hoops. They whizzed down the hill,
bow-legged, bent way over, but they kept on their feet, anyway.

One child had a forlorn sled with a broken runner; and far below on
the slope a wee little boy with a kerchief tied round his head, was
dragging a stick of wood after him by a string. That was his sled.

None of our boys were to be seen yet. Our appearance on the hill
caused great astonishment. Those who were coming up stood still,
whispered together and went a little to one side. At that moment a
big sailor boy came up—a regular broad-shouldered square-built fellow.

“Come, now!” he shouted to us. “What are you staying around here for?
We have a right to coast down our own hill even if some elegant city
flies stand and look at us.” His voice was changing, and he talked as
loud as if he were in the worst kind of a storm at sea.

At that moment Nils Trap’s crooked nose appeared from behind the
slope, and there were the boys, Angemal Terkelsen, Jens Stub, Peter,
the dean’s son, Axel Wasserfall, and a whole bunch of boys besides.
I saw Karsten bringing up the rear with the box heaping full of
snowballs. Ugh! I almost had palpitation of the heart at the thought
of what was coming but I couldn’t bear to leave.

“What do you want?” asked the young sailor.

“We want this slope to coast on,” said Axel Wasserfall. “You must
pack yourselves off, every one of you, or——”

The young sailor had come close up to Axel, turning sideways and
holding his arms out as boys do when they wish to pick a quarrel with
any one, and staring the whole time straight into Axel’s eyes.

“Pack yourselves off, did you say? Pack yourselves off? I’ll give you
‘pack yourselves’—mass of herring-bones that you are!”

And before Axel could catch his breath, the young sailor’s fist
struck him in the chest, and he was lying in the snowdrift with
the sailor over him; but at the same instant Nils Trap and Angemal
Terkelsen jumped on the sailor’s back. Then there was such a tussle
that the snow flew in all directions.

A crowd of Tangen boys came storming up the hill, but now Karsten and
the rear-guard pressed forward with the snowballs.

Massa, Mina, and I were thoroughly scared and went off to one side.
The air was filled with the fast-flying icy snowballs, which hurt
wherever they hit, as I myself can bear witness, for one hit me on
the cheek and I had to hold my handkerchief there the whole time, it
hurt me so much.

My, but it was exciting! They shouted and they screamed; they did not
keep to the coast any longer, but struggled and fought out in the
deep snow beside the road while fast as ever, without a pause, came
the snowballs from the rear-guard whistling past one’s ears.

The women from the houses around flocked out on their stone steps
with babies in their arms and kept calling out something to which no
one listened.

Our boys had naturally the better position the whole time, for they
stood on the hilltop and threw their snowballs down, while the Tangen
boys stood below and had to throw theirs up. It was not many minutes
before the Tangen boys had to take to their heels and run for shelter
among the houses.

One and another lonely snowball still came whizzing up in a long
curve, but it was easy to see that the Tangen boys felt themselves

Axel and Ludvig on our old broad “Seagull” coasted down first; and
after them the others in a long row. My! how they laughed and shouted.

Angemal Terkelsen threw himself on his stomach on a sled—he always
wants to be so bold—and Jens Stub sat astride his back.

Peter, the dean’s son, started off with his flat red sled. It was
made in the country and goes so slowly that the other boys call it
the “Snail.” Then Peter gets offended, for he is the kind of boy who
never gets angry, but only offended.

But in the midst of all the fun and hurrahing, I began to hear
a pitiful sound of crying. When I looked about, I found it came
from the little boy with the kerchief on his head, the child I had
noticed dragging a stick of wood by a string. It was Tollef, our
washerwoman’s little boy.

A snowball had hit him in the eye, he had lost his stick of wood, and
he was crying and crying. He knocked on the door of a little house,
but his mother had gone out and the door was locked.

In the house next to the one outside of which Tollef stood crying,
lived a man whom the whole town called Jack-of-all-trades, because he
fixed lamps, soldered old teakettles, and mended all sorts of things.
He was a little, grimy man and was now standing out on his front

“Will you take away even this little bit of pleasure from the poor
folks’ children?” asked Jack-of-all-trades. He looked at our boys
laughing and shouting as they coasted down the long hill. His black
eyes flashed and I came pretty near being afraid of him as I stood
there. And all at once it struck me what a shame it was and what a
horrid, mean thing we had done when we drove those poverty-stricken
children from that hill of theirs. I rushed to the snowball box,
tipped it over and trampled what snowballs there were left into the
snow with all my might.

I remember that I began to cry when I got home; I told Mother that
my knee pained me from the knock it got when I coasted on the box,
and that was true; but really my crying was more because of what
Jack-of-all-trades had said, and because we had spoiled the fun of
poor little bow-legged Tollef.

However, the Tangen boys got their hill back again before long, you
may be sure of that! And I’m glad to say that our boys have let them
alone ever since.



A few days before Christmas, whether because Mother was sick or for
some other reason, it was decided that Karsten and I should be sent
to the Parsonage for a short visit. Peter Olsen, from Uncle’s parish,
was just then in town, so a message was sent to him, asking if he
would take us with him in his sleigh. All waters were frozen, even
the fjord, so we could drive the whole distance.

Indeed, Peter Olsen had not the least objection to taking us, and
late in the evening two days before Christmas the sleigh and two big
horses stood before our door. I always like to sit where I can see
the horses, so I sat in front with the driver and Karsten sat behind
with Peter Olsen.

Karsten was so stuffed out with wraps that people in town, as I heard
later, thought that he was Peter’s wife. For a long time afterward,
when I wished to tease Karsten, I would call him Mrs. Peter Olsen,
for that made him furious.

We drove along in the moonlight over hills and frozen ponds, and
through groves where the branches hung so low that they hit our heads
and sent an avalanche of soft wet snow down our necks.

On Sandy-point fjord, the moonlight shed its silver radiance over
the ice; and the ice gave forth a hollow roaring sound under the big
sleigh and the heavy feet of the horses. Peter Olsen was known as a
regular dare-devil on the ice but perhaps even he felt that the fjord
was not wholly to be trusted that night, for all at once he stood up
to his full height in the sleigh, struck out with his arms and called
loudly to the horses in both German and French.

“_Allons!_” shouted Peter with all the power of his lungs. His red,
curly beard showed clearly in the moonlight. Sharp particles of
frozen snow whizzed about our ears; and bits of ice and lumps of
snow were thrown upon us as the horses dashed swiftly along. Now we
were nearing the shore. Peter called to the driver that he must throw
himself out of the sleigh to lighten it; he himself, still standing
upright, seized the reins in his powerful hands. The ice groaned and
creaked. Peter kept on shouting to the horses. There! At last they
had firm ground under their feet. The driver came trudging along, and
Peter Olsen turned to look back at the breaking ice.

“Well! We managed that fine!” said he, chuckling and laughing.

Farther up the slope, we overtook a little schoolmaster who was
allowed to stand on the runners at the back of the sleigh. The road
was only a wood-road and very rough with naked tree-roots, stones and
lumps of ice.

“This isn’t as flat as a pancake, is it?” remarked the little

Far off in the forest some beast gave an ugly howl. Peter said it
was a wolf, but I was not the least bit scared. It was impossible to
be afraid, when you were with Peter Olsen, so stout and strong and

At a sharp turn in the road, the little schoolmaster fell off his
perch on the runners of the sleigh and lay flat in the road.

“Now we have discharged the teacher,” said Peter Olsen. We had to
wait quite a while in the darkness under the trees before he caught
up with us.

Nothing a bit interesting happened during the rest of the long ride,
and at half-past twelve we drew up at the Parsonage.

I had rejoiced at the prospect of going to the Parsonage at Christmas
time, but now that I was there, it wasn’t just as I had expected it
to be.

It looked so altogether different in winter from what it did in
summer,—so old and gray, almost hidden in snow, and as if crouching
under the hill. In the second story where the rooms were not used in
winter, all the windows were entirely covered with white frost. The
courtyard was one expanse of ice, with narrow black paths, where
ashes had been strewn, leading from one building to another. The
maids stepped cautiously along these ash paths, but even so, one or
another maid would suddenly sit down with a resounding thwack.

Great-Aunt was at the door and seemed glad enough to see us. She was
pretty good to us children, though she never liked any of our fun or
play, no matter what it was. Karsten was her especial favorite. He
amused her mightily because he exaggerated so much. She would listen
with a most serious face to Karsten’s yarns.

“We have a cat at home,” Karsten told her, “that is the wickedest cat
in the whole town. No other cat dares come into our yard, for our cat
either bites its head off or kills it at once.”

“That must be a bad cat,” said Great-Aunt.

“Yes, and it is so big, too. Why, really, if you see it a little way
off, you would think it was a calf; yes, some have thought it was a

“Ugh! That must be a horrid town to live in, with such cats around,”
said Great-Aunt. “But I suppose there are some big, strong men there,

“Oh, yes! You may be sure of that. One man at home is so strong that
he carried a barrel of wheat, full of water besides, up a hill that
was as steep as the wall of this room.”

That is the way Karsten would go on, and Great-Aunt was tremendously
amused by it.

But now I must tell you how things went during Christmas tide.

The whole place was in perfect order, freshly cleaned from cellar
to attic, shining and beautiful. When we came down-stairs in the
morning, the regular Christmas Eve dinner was already under way. I
sat on the kitchen bench and ate various Christmas goodies.

Later, I went to the barn and stable and to see the pigs and the

When evening came, it wasn’t as cosy and delightful as Christmas Eve
at home always is, but it wasn’t so bad, after all. Karsten never
behaves himself anything extra when he is away from home, and he
didn’t this time. First, he slept while Uncle preached, and nodded so
that he nearly fell off his chair several times. Then he was sick in
the night because he had eaten too much, as he has done every single
Christmas as far back as I can remember.

Uncle gave me a gold-piece,—an English sovereign. Aunt Magda gave me
a religious book in red binding and with gilt edges that will look
very bright and handsome in my bookcase; and Great-Aunt gave me a
charming little brooch of silver filigree.

It was really a pleasant Christmas Eve, after all; but when I had
gone to bed, I lay awake and thought of Mother, and at last I
couldn’t help crying. I smothered my crying in the blankets, however,
so that Karsten should not hear, for if he heard me crying, he would
begin; and he roars so when he cries that he would have aroused the
whole house.

Well, what do you think? On Christmas morning it rained! Yes, a
fine drizzling rain with fog out over the sea and up on the hill.
When the church bells rang, they sounded like big muffled cow-bells
through the fog. From the shore came the church folk, walking slowly
in large groups. They did not go into the church but stood out in the
drizzling rain, by the door or by the stone wall of the churchyard,
waiting for the minister to go in first.

Uncle in his cassock was walking up and down the living-room floor
talking with the deacon. The deacon was a big, fat man in a frock
coat that was too narrow for him and pinched at the armholes.
Everything about Deacon Vebjornsen was unusually large—except his
frock coat. His mouth was big, his smile was big and his neck was
very, very big.

“Well, well!” said Uncle.

“Well, well! Well, well!” said the deacon.

The church in another part of the parish was being repaired, so the
people from there came to the service in Uncle’s church in Sandvaag.
Their deacon came, too, and Deacon Vebjornsen and he tried to see
which could sing loudest. Neither would give up. Never in my life
have I seen or heard any one sing as the two deacons did that
Christmas day in Sandvaag church. They stood erect in the pew, both
with their mouths stretched wide open. I expected every minute that
they would burst something inside of them.

Above the piercing sounds the two deacons made, came Uncle’s dear
voice from the pulpit, sweet and mellow and kind.

It made me think of Mother, and I had to try with all my might to
keep from crying. I couldn’t bear that any one should see me crying
in church.

Uncle invited ever so many to go to the Parsonage to dinner; —two
sailors with their wives, three school-teachers and a widow with
three children. Great-Aunt stood out in the kitchen, crimson in the
face, and awfully provoked at Uncle.

“Did you ever see such a man?” she burst out. “He goes and invites
eleven strangers to dinner without my having any idea of it; and
the roast will be too small. The three teachers are equal to eating
up all the princess pudding, just themselves alone, and—oh, I wish I
were thirty feet under ground!—But I could have told you beforehand
that this would happen. I could have told you!”

Aunt Magda had to go out to comfort her, and it took much coaxing to
get Great-Aunt to go to the dinner-table.

“There are people enough there already,” she said.

When she was at the table she kept urging and insisting that the
three teachers should eat more and more of the French beans for she
knew there were plenty of them.

I should like to tell you that we had a pleasant time after dinner
that Christmas Day; but to tell the plain truth, I was perfectly

The ladies sat in the big parlor, drank coffee and talked old-granny
fashion about every possible kind of sickness; so I knew it would be
much pleasanter in the sitting-room with Uncle and the sailors and
the three teachers. I had just sat down in there to listen to them
when Aunt Magda came and asked me to go and amuse the strange little

Karsten and the oldest boy were out on the front steps.

“Have you good muscle in your arms?” asked Karsten.

“No, I don’t think so,” answered the strange boy.

“Look here,—here you can see”—Karsten stretched out his arm. “That’s
the way an arm should be, the muscle standing up in a curve; feel of
this and you’ll know what muscle is.”

The boy felt of Karsten’s arm.

“You feel of it, too,” said Karsten to the two smaller boys. “Exactly
like lignum vitæ, and lignum vitæ is the hardest thing in the world.”

All the boys admired Karsten’s muscle tremendously, that was easy to

It still rained steadily, so I suggested that we go into the inner
hall. Oh, that dear old Parsonage hall, where there was always a
smell of old cheese and such things. Yes, the front hall smelled of
rose-leaves, but the inner hall of old cheese. In the front hall, we
bowed and curtsied nicely and were well-behaved; but in the other
hall we played and romped and had great fun.

For the moment, I couldn’t think of anything to do there but slide
down the banisters. You know what jolly fun that is, sliding so
frightfully fast, especially where the banister curves. I went ahead
up the stairs, the four boys after me, away up to the attic, then
whizz! down the banisters! The whole troop tramped up the stairs
again, whizz! down again. My! this was getting to be great fun—there
stood Great-Aunt at the door.

“Are you crazy, you children? Will you tear the house down over our
heads? Out with you! Out, I say.”

So there we were. What should we do now?

“Let’s put up a swing in the woodshed,” I suggested.

The others agreed instantly. Karsten ran to the harness-room to get a
rope. I climbed up one side of the woodshed and Karsten the other; we
tied and knotted the rope around a beam and made a perfectly splendid
swing. When we swung very high, we went through the doorway right out
into the air. To be so awfully high up gave me a tickle-y feeling in
my stomach, but I liked it.

We took turns. The littlest boy was afraid. He clung tight to the
rope and screamed!

“Fie for shame! A boy that doesn’t dare to swing!” I said. So he got
into the swing and we pushed him; but suddenly, when he was at the
very highest, he let go and fell whack! on the woodshed floor.

I was terribly scared, for it was really my fault that he had got
into the swing. He sobbed and cried, poor little thing, and had a big
blue bump on his forehead. I picked up a lump of ice and held it to
the bump. The other children kept on swinging as high as they could.

Just then Great-Aunt appeared, with a purple handkerchief over her

“There! Didn’t I know there was something crazy going on again? It
would be a fine thing if you made all the wood here tumble down
on you, wouldn’t it? And he has fallen and hurt himself. Well, it
is a wonder to me that you are all alive as yet. Take that down,”
concluded Great-Aunt in her crossest tone. “Take that swing down this
moment, Inger Johanne.” Great-Aunt turned to me. “For it is certainly
you who are responsible for this whole business.” Karsten and I had
to climb and untie the rope.

“And now come with me into the big parlor, every one of you,” said
Great-Aunt. “I can’t be easy a minute unless I have you sitting right
under my eyes.”

Well! There we had to sit, five of us in a row, as stiff as posts the
whole long afternoon. Ugh! how angry I was at Great-Aunt.

The next day there was service in the church again, and the two
deacons tried as hard as ever to out-sing each other; but Uncle
did not invite any one home to dinner. I suppose he didn’t wish to
displease Great-Aunt again.

“There now! To-day he might have invited half the town,” said
Great-Aunt, “for to-day I have plenty of food.”

It rained and it rained. What in the world should Karsten and I
do? Slide down the banisters we mustn’t, swing in the woodshed we
mustn’t; but to lay a board across the chopping block and play
seesaw, surely there could be no harm in that.

We found a board and seesawed up and down, up and down, until Nella,
the parlor maid, came out with the message that we were to stop. We
might pinch our fingers, Great-Aunt thought!

“Well, let’s go and jump in the hay in the barn,” suggested Karsten.
“That’s awfully good fun.”

I had just got Karsten in the hay under me and heaped so much hay
on top of him that he could scarcely breathe, when we heard Aunt
Magda’s sweet, gentle voice from the barn door.

“Oh, you dear, dear children! Don’t do that! Great-Aunt says that you
might lose a pin in the hay that a cow would eat, and the pin might
stick in her insides. Come, dears, be good children and don’t play in
the hay any more.”

“Oh, no, Aunt Magda! Don’t say that. Just come and see what fun it
is. I haven’t a single pin about me, Aunt Magda.”

“Well, but you might lose a button, Great-Aunt says, and a cow
might get it in her throat and choke on it; so come now, like good

Of course there was nothing else to do. Out of the hay must we come.
Karsten was perfectly desperate with boredom.

“I’m going home,” he said. “I won’t stay here any longer, and I’m
never, never in the world coming here again. They can eat their good
food themselves for all of me.”

I wouldn’t tell Karsten so, but I felt just as he did; and every
night when I had gone to bed, I had a dreadful longing for home. I
felt as if something heavy lay on my heart and clutched it. Why are
they so afraid and won’t let us do anything? How queer old people
are! When I am old I am not going to be like Great-Aunt, I’m sure of

We had been at the Parsonage four days and still had to stay over
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I didn’t believe I should ever see Father and Mother again. And
people said it was so pleasant to go visiting! No, it wasn’t; it was
horrid, it was very, very sad. I thought that if I ever got home
again,—_if_ I ever did,—I’d never, never go away from Father and
Mother any more.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I awoke next morning and saw Nella at my bedside with a tray of
coffee and little cakes, I found myself, strangely enough, in much
better spirits. It was rather pleasant, after all, to go visiting.

“What kind of weather is it, Nella?”

“Delightful and warm,” said Nella.

Karsten and I would rather have had good ice for skating and hard
snow for coasting, so we couldn’t agree with Nella that the weather
was delightful when the wind was warm and the roofs dripping.

However, we were in brilliant good humor that morning, Karsten and I.
If I had imagined then what the day would bring——

Great-Aunt had not forbidden us to go into the sheep-barn, and so we
were there early and late. How cosy and snug it is in a sheep-barn
and what a good smell there is of sheep’s wool and dry leaves and hay!

Almost all the sheep were afraid of us, and they crowded themselves
together and pushed and squeezed each other away off to a corner,
looking at us with innocent eyes. There was just one sheep that was
not afraid of people and liked to be petted. It squeezed itself up
against me and lay close beside me when I sat down. My! How I did
love that sheep!

Before we went down there that morning, Karsten suggested that we get
some boiled potatoes from those that had been cooked for breakfast
and take them to the sheep. I thought this was an excellent idea.
It happened that there was no one in the kitchen when I went in; I
supplied myself with a heaping plateful of big potatoes and went my

When the sheep had once tasted the potatoes, I thought they had gone
crazy. They jumped over each other, pushed and jammed and pressed
themselves forward, trying to get at the plate. I held it high above
my head. Oh-h! All the potatoes tumbled off and rolled among the
sheep. They butted each other, scrambled for the potatoes, snatched
and ate in haste.

“Oh, see that sheep of yours!” said Karsten suddenly. “How queerly it
behaves! Did you ever see anything like it?”

I looked. Yes, I had to agree with him, that the sheep he pointed
to, my dear pet sheep, was behaving in a most peculiar manner. It
went backward round and round a couple of times with wide-open mouth;
suddenly it fell on its side, kicked a little, stretched its legs out
to their full length and then lay perfectly still.

THE SHEEP.—_Page 256._]

Oh, how frightened I was!

“What is it, Karsten? What is the matter with it? Help me to get it
up. Oh, my sweet, dear sheep! Go after the milkmaid, Karsten,” I said.

He was gone an eternity it seemed to me, but at last came back with
the milkmaid.

“What have you done, child?” she asked in terror. “The sheep is dead.
You’ll catch it from old Miss.” (She meant Great-Aunt.) “You gave it
a whole potato and that stuck in its throat, you see, and choked it
so it couldn’t breathe. O me! O me! What a misfortune!”

I ran out of the sheep-barn; Karsten was right at my heels and we
rushed into the kitchen where Great-Aunt stood at the stove cooking

“Oh, Great-Aunt! I have killed a sheep with a potato!”

If I live a hundred years, I shall never forget how Great-Aunt looked
as she turned towards me.

“There! Didn’t I know it would be so?” Words came at last.
“Trouble-maker that you are! Why in the world did you come here?
Children should stay at home, I think——”

I heard no more, for I ran out—ran I did not know where, but at
last I found myself sitting in a dark corner of the barn behind the

O dear! O dear! How horrid it was! I should never be happy again,
never, never! Why did we have to come here this Christmas? Why did
the sheep get the potato in its throat? I meant to give them all a
treat. And now Uncle and Aunt Magda would be furiously angry with me,
and perhaps Father and Mother would be too. I cried and sobbed as if
my heart would break.

How long I sat there I do not know, but it must have been for hours.
I heard them call me many times, but I kept still; the thought of
seeing any one was unbearable.

Little by little my crying stopped and I began to follow a new train
of thought. I would stay in this corner all my life—yes, and starve
to death—perhaps steal out at night and get a little food—but no one
should know that I lay in hiding here; and when many years later
they found me behind the hay-cutter, lying dead with a tear-stained
face—then horrid Great-Aunt would be sorry enough.

Suddenly I heard Aunt Magda’s voice right near me.

“Oh, my dear, blessed child! Are you lying here? We’ve been looking
everywhere for you.”

“Are you very angry about the sheep, Auntie?”

“Oh, far from it! You didn’t mean to do any harm. Great-Aunt is very
hasty, you know.”

“And Uncle?”

“Oh, Uncle will understand,” said Aunt Magda, comfortingly. “And now,
my jewel, don’t think of it any more.”

Oh, how I loved Aunt Magda! How unspeakably, unspeakably! The whole
afternoon I sat close beside her or followed her about. I would not
leave her for an instant.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last the day came for us to go home, traveling this time by the

Great-Aunt gave us a big package of fig-cakes and raisins and
almonds, and when we said good-bye, she patted us on the shoulder and
asked us to come again soon. So she wasn’t so bad, after all!

When the steamer reached our town, Karsten and I were the first on
the wharf. We leaped up the hill to our home in just about one bound,
and up the steps. We hadn’t time to shut the doors after us, but left
them standing open all the way to Mother’s room. There sat Mother in
an easy-chair, reaching out her arms to us.

“Oh, Mamma! Mamma! Mamma!” And Mother took us in her arms, pressing
us close to her breast.

“Oh, my dear, dear children!”

       *       *       *       *       *

There is nothing in the world so delightful as to come home.

  Transcriber’s Notes

  pg 119 Changed: we were tired of plashing
              to: we were tired of splashing

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