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Title: Feats on the Fiord
Author: Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Feats on the Fiord" ***

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[Frontispiece: It came nearer and nearer, and at last quite up to the
can of ale.]



FEATS ON THE FIORD


BY

HARRIET MARTINEAU



WITH COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS

BY ARTHUR RACKHAM



LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS LIMITED

NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY


1914



INTRODUCTION

Miss Martineau's Norwegian romance won its way long since into the
hearts of children in this country.  The unhackneyed setting to the
incidents of the tale distinguish it from thousands of more ordinary
children's stories; nor is there any other tale so well-known having
its scenes laid in the land of the fiords.  It is quite safe to add
that perhaps no other author has felt so strongly and communicated so
convincingly the mystic charm of these northern lagoons with their
still depths and reflections, their inaccessible walls of rock and
their teeming wild-fowl life.

This mystic charm is deepened in the book by the thread of popular
superstition which runs throughout the episodes and, in fact, gives
rise to them.  Miss Martineau's _dénouements_ were calculated to
shatter the follies of belief in Nipen and other supernatural agents;
but her own crusading traffic in them rather endears them to the
imagination of the reader and certainly supplies a fascination which
the most sceptical of young readers would be sorry to miss.

The author also brings home to the youthful mind the wonder of the
physiographical peculiarities of northern latitudes.  The book opens
with the long nights and ends with the long days.  The midnight sun and
the northern lights play their parts, whilst the beautiful simplicity
of farm-life in the Arctic circle is unfolded with authoritative
interest.

As for the hero, young Oddo, he is a prince among dauntless boys, yet
he never oversteps the bounds of true boyishness.  He would be a hero
anywhere; but as a leading character in this romance, combined with all
the charm of natural effect in which he moves, he makes _Feats on the
Fiord_ a book to be classed among the few best of its kind.

F. C. TILNEY.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


It came nearer and nearer, and at last quite up to the can
  of ale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

In the porch she found Oddo

And that vessel, he knew, was the pirate schooner

He sometimes hammered at his skiff

No other than the Mountain-Demon

At the end of a ledge he found the remains of a ladder
  made of birch-poles

In desperation Hund, unarmed as he was, threw himself
  upon the pirate

It was Hund, with his feet tied under his horse, and the
  bridle held by a man on each side



FEATS ON THE FIORD



Every one who has looked at the map of Norway must have been struck
with the singular character of its coast.  On the map it looks so
jagged; a strange mixture of land and sea.  On the spot, however, this
coast is very sublime.  The long straggling promontories are
mountainous, towering ridges of rock, springing up in precipices from
the water; while the bays between them, instead of being rounded with
shelving sandy shores, on which the sea tumbles its waves, as in bays
of our coast, are, in fact, long narrow valleys, filled with sea,
instead of being laid out in fields and meadows.  The high rocky banks
shelter these deep bays (called fiords) from almost every wind; so that
their waters are usually as still as those of a lake.  For days and
weeks together, they reflect each separate tree-top of the pine-forests
which clothe the mountain sides, the mirror being broken only by the
leap of some sportive fish, or the oars of the boatman as he goes to
inspect the sea-fowl from islet to islet of the fiord, or carries out
his nets or his rod to catch the sea-trout, or char, or cod, or
herrings, which abound, in their seasons, on the coast of Norway.

It is difficult to say whether these fiords are the most beautiful in
summer or in winter.  In summer, they glitter with golden sunshine; and
purple and green shadows from the mountain and forest lie on them; and
these may be more lovely than the faint light of the winter noons of
those latitudes, and the snowy pictures of frozen peaks which then show
themselves on the surface: but before the day is half over, out come
the stars--the glorious stars, which shine like nothing that we have
ever seen.  There the planets cast a faint shadow, as the young moon
does with us; and these planets and the constellations of the sky, as
they silently glide over from peak to peak of these rocky passes, are
imaged on the waters so clearly that the fisherman, as he unmoors his
boat for his evening task, feels as if he were about to shoot forth his
vessel into another heaven, and to cleave his way among the stars.

Still as everything is to the eye, sometimes for a hundred miles
together along these deep sea-valleys, there is rarely silence.  The
ear is kept awake by a thousand voices.  In the summer, there are
cataracts leaping from ledge to ledge of the rocks; and there is the
bleating of the kids that browse there, and the flap of the great
eagle's wings, as it dashes abroad from its eyrie, and the cries of
whole clouds of sea-birds which inhabit the islets; and all these
sounds are mingled and multiplied by the strong echoes, till they
become a din as loud as that of a city.  Even at night, when the flocks
are in the fold, and the birds at roost, and the echoes themselves seem
to be asleep, there is occasionally a sweet music heard, too soft for
even the listening ear to catch by day.  There is the rumble of some
avalanche, as, after a drifting storm, a mass of snow too heavy to keep
its place slides and tumbles from the mountain peak.  Wherever there is
a nook between the rocks on the shore, where a man may build a house,
and clear a field or two;--wherever there is a platform beside the
cataract where the sawyer may plant his mill, and make a path from it
to join some great road, there is a human habitation, and the sounds
that belong to it.  Thence, in winter nights, come music and laughter,
and the tread of dancers, and the hum of many voices.  The Norwegians
are a social and hospitable people, and they hold their gay meetings in
defiance of their Arctic climate, through every season of the year.

On a January night, a hundred years ago, there was great merriment in
the house of a farmer who had fixed his abode within the Arctic circle,
in Nordland, not far from the foot of Sulitelma, the highest mountain
in Norway.  This dwelling, with its few fields about it, was in a
recess between the rocks, on the shore of the fiord, about five miles
from Saltdalen, and two miles from the junction of the Salten's Elv
(river) with the fiord.  The occasion, on the particular January day
mentioned above, was the betrothment of one of the house-maidens to a
young farm servant of the establishment.  It was merely an engagement
to be married; but this engagement is a much more formal and public
affair in Norway (and indeed wherever the people belong to the Lutheran
church) than with us.  According to the rites of the Lutheran church,
there are two ceremonies--one when a couple become engaged, and another
when they are married.

As Madame Erlingsen had two daughters growing up, and they were no less
active than the girls of a Norwegian household usually are, she had
occasion for only two maidens to assist in the business of the dwelling
and the dairy.

Of these two, the younger, Erica, was the maiden betrothed to-day.  No
one perhaps rejoiced so much at the event as her mistress, both for
Erica's sake, and on account of her own two young daughters.  Erica was
not the best companion for them; and the servants of a Norwegian farmer
are necessarily the companions of the daughters of the house.  There
was nothing wrong in Erica's conduct or temper towards the family.  But
she had sustained a shock which hurt her spirits, and increased a
weakness which she owed to her mother.  Her mother, a widow, had
brought up her child in all the superstitions of the country, some of
which remain in full strength even to this day, and were then very
powerful; and the poor woman's death at last confirmed the lessons of
her life.  She had stayed too long, one autumn day, at the Erlingsen's
and, being benighted on her return, and suddenly seized and bewildered
by the cold, had wandered from the road, and was found frozen to death
in a recess of the forest which it was surprising that she should have
reached.  Erica never believed that she did reach this spot of her own
accord.  Having had some fears before of the Wood-Demon having been
offended by one of the family, Erica regarded this accident as a token
of his vengeance.  She said this when she first heard of her mother's
death; and no reasonings from the zealous pastor of the district, no
soothing from her mistress, could shake her persuasion.  She listened
with submission, wiping away her quiet tears as they discoursed; but no
one could ever get her to say that she doubted whether there was a
Wood-Demon, or that she was not afraid of what he would do if offended.

Erlingsen and his wife always treated her superstition as a weakness;
and when she was not present, they ridiculed it.  Yet they saw that it
had its effect on their daughters.  Erica most strictly obeyed their
wish that she should not talk about the spirits of the region with Orga
and Frolich; but the girls found plenty of people to tell them what
they could not learn from Erica.  Besides what everybody knows who
lives in the rural districts of Norway--about Nipen, the spirit that is
always so busy after everybody's affairs--about the Water-Sprite, an
acquaintance of every one who lives beside a river or lake--and about
the Mountain-Demon, familiar to all who lived so near Sulitelma;
besides these common spirits, the girls used to hear of a multitude of
others from old Peder, the blind houseman, and from all the
farm-people, down to Oddo, the herd-boy.  Their parents hoped that this
taste of theirs might die away if once Erica, with her sad, serious
face and subdued voice, were removed to a house of her own, where they
would see her supported by her husband's unfearing mind, and occupied
with domestic business more entirely than in her mistress's house.  So
Madame Erlingsen was well pleased that Erica was betrothed.

For this marrying, however, the young people must wait.  There was no
house, or houseman's place, vacant for them at present.  The old
houseman Peder, who had served Erlingsen's father and Erlingsen himself
for fifty-eight years, could now no longer do the weekly work on the
farm which was his rent for his house, field, and cow.  He was blind
and old.  His aged wife Ulla could not leave the house; and it was the
most she could do to keep the dwelling in order, with occasional help
from one and another.  Houseman who make this sort of contract with
farmers in Norway are never turned out.  They have their dwelling and
field for their own life and that of their wives.  What they do, when
disabled, is to take in a deserving young man to do their work for the
farmer, on the understanding that he succeeds to the houseman's place
on the death of the old people.  Peder and Ulla had made this agreement
with Erica's lover, Rolf; and it was understood that his marriage with
Erica should take place whenever the old people should die.

It was impossible for Erica herself to fear that Nipen was offended, at
the outset of this festival day.  If he had chosen to send a wind, the
guests could not have come; for no human frame can endure travelling in
a wind in Nordland on a January day.  Happily, the air was so calm that
a flake of snow, or a lock of eider-down, would have fallen straight to
the ground.  At two o'clock, when the short daylight was gone, the
stars were shining so brightly, that the company who came by the fiord
would be sure to have an easy voyage.  Erlingsen and some of his
servants went out to the porch, on hearing music from the water, and
stood with lighted pine-torches to receive their guests when,
approaching from behind, they heard the sound of the sleigh-bells, and
found that company was arriving both by sea and land.

Glad had the visitors been, whether they came by land or water, to
arrive in sight of the lighted dwelling, whose windows looked like rows
of yellow stars, contrasting with the blue ones overhead; and more glad
still were they to be ushered into the great room, where all was so
light, so warm, so cheerful.  Warm it was to the farthest corner; and
too warm near the roaring and crackling fires, for the fires were of
pine wood.  Rows upon rows of candles were fastened against the walls
above the heads of the company: the floor was strewn with juniper
twigs, and the spinning-wheels, the carding-boards, every token of
household labour was removed except a loom, which remained in one
corner.  In another corner was a welcome sight, a platform of rough
boards two feet from the floor, and on it two stools.  This was a token
that there was to be dancing; and indeed, Oddo, the herd-boy, old
Peder's grandson, was seen to have his clarionet in his belt, as he ran
in and out on the arrival of fresh parties.

[Illustration: In the porch she found Oddo.]

The whole company walked about the large room, sipping their strong
coffee, and helping one another to the good things on the trays which
were carried round.  When these trays disappeared, Oddo was seen to
reach the platform with a hop, skip, and jump, followed by a
dull-looking young man with a violin.  The oldest men lighted their
pipes, and sat down to talk, two or three together.  Others withdrew to
a smaller room, where card-tables were sets out, while the younger men
selected their partners.  The dance was led by the blushing Erica,
whose master was her partner.  It had never occurred to her that she
was not to take her usual place; and she was greatly embarrassed, not
the less so that she knew that her mistress was immediately behind,
with Rolf for her partner.  All the women in Norway dance well, being
practised in it from their infancy.  Every woman present danced well;
but none better than Erica.

"Very well! very pretty! very good!" observed the pastor, M. Kollsen,
as he sat, with his pipe in his mouth, looking on.  "There are many
youths in Tronyem that would be glad of so pretty a partner as M.
Erlingsen has, if she would not look so frightened."

"Did you say she looks frightened, sir?" asked Peder.

"Yes.  When does she not?  Some ghost from the grave has scared her, I
suppose.  It is her great fault that she has so little faith.  I never
met with such a case; I hardly know how to conduct it.  I must begin
with the people about her--abolish their superstitions--and then there
may be a chance for her."

"Pray, sir, who plays the violin at this moment?" said Peder.

"A fellow who looks as if he did not like this business.  He is
frowning with his red brows, as if he would frown out the lights."

"His red brows!  Oh, then it is Hund.  I was thinking it would be hard
upon him, poor fellow, if he had to play to-night.  Yet not so hard as
if he had to dance.  It is weary work dancing with the heels when the
heart is too heavy to move.  You may have heard, sir, for every one
knows it, that Hund wanted to have young Rolf's place; and, some say,
Erica herself.  Is she dancing, sir, if I may ask?"

"Yes, with Rolf.  What sort of a man is Rolf--with regard to these
superstitions, I mean?  Is he as foolish as Erica--always frightened
about something?"

"No, indeed.  It is to be wished that Rolf was not so light as he is,
so inconsiderate about these matters.  Rolf has his troubles and his
faults, but they are not of that kind."

"Enough," said M. Kollsen with a voice of authority.  "I rejoice to
hear that he is superior to the popular delusions.  As to his troubles
and his faults, they may be left for me to discover, all in good time."

"With all my heart, sir.  They are nobody's business but his own; and,
may be, Erica's."

"How goes it, Rolf?" said his master, who, having done his duty in the
dancing-room, was now making his way to the card-tables, in another
apartment, to see how his guests there were entertained.  Thinking that
Rolf looked very absent as he stood, in the pause of the dance, in
silence by Erica's side, Erlingsen clapped him on the shoulder and
said, "How goes it?  Make your friends merry."

Rolf bowed and smiled, and his master passed on.

"How goes it?" repeated Rolf to Erica, as he looked earnestly into her
face.  "Is all going on well, Erica?"

"Certainly.  I suppose so.  Why not?" she replied.  "If you see
anything wrong--anything omitted, be sure and tell me.  Madame
Erlingsen would be very sorry.  Is there anything forgotten, Rolf?"

"I think you have forgotten what to-day is, that is all.  Nobody that
looked at you, love, would fancy it to be your own day.  You look
anything but merry.  O Erica!  I wish you would trust me.  I could take
care of you, and make you quite happy, if you would only believe it.
Nothing in the universe shall touch you to your hurt, while----"

"Oh, hush! hush!" said Erica, turning pale and red at the presumption
of this speech.  "See, they are waiting for us.  One more round before
supper."

And in the whirl of the waltz she tried to forget the last words Rolf
had spoken; but they rang in her ears; and before her eyes were images
of Nipen overhearing this defiance--and the Water-Sprite planning
vengeance in its palace under the ice--and the Mountain-Demon laughing
in scorn, till the echoes shouted again--and the Wood-Demon waiting
only for summer to see how he could beguile the rash lover.

Long was the supper, and hearty was the mirth round the table.  People
in Norway have universally a hearty appetite--such an appetite as we
English have no idea of.

At last appeared the final dish of the long feast, the sweet cake, with
which dinner and supper in Norway usually conclude.

It is the custom in the country regions of Norway to give the spirit
Nipen a share at festival times.  His Christmas cake is richer than
that prepared for the guests, and before the feast is finished it is
laid in some place out of doors, where, as might be expected, it is
never to be found in the morning.  Everybody knew, therefore, why Rolf
rose from his seat, though some were too far off to hear him say that
he would carry out the treat for old Nipen.

"Now, pray do not speak so; do not call him those names," said Erica
anxiously.  "It is quite as easy to speak so as not to offend him.
Pray, Rolf, to please me, do speak respectfully.  And promise me to
play no tricks, but just set the things down, and come straight in, and
do not look behind you.  Promise me, Rolf."

Rolf did promise, but he was stopped by two voices calling upon him.
Oddo, the herd-boy, came running to claim the office of carrying out
Nipen's cake.  Erica eagerly put an ale-can into his hand, and the cake
under his arm; and Oddo was going out, when his blind grandfather,
hearing that he was to be the messenger, observed that he should be
better pleased if it were somebody else; for Oddo, though a good boy,
was inquisitive, and apt to get into mischief by looking too closely
into everything, having never a thought of fear.  Everybody knew this
to be true; though Oddo himself declared that he was as frightened as
anybody sometimes.  Moreover, he asked what there was to pry into, on
the present occasion, in the middle of the night; and appealed to the
company whether Nipen was not best pleased to be served by the youngest
of a party.  This was allowed; and he was permitted to go, when Peder's
consent was obtained.

The place where Nipen liked to find his offerings was at the end of the
barn, below the gallery which ran round the outside of the building.
There, in the summer, lay a plot of green grass; and, in the winter, a
sheet of pure frozen snow.  Thither Oddo shuffled on, over the slippery
surface of the yard.  He looked more like a prowling cub then a boy,
wrapped as he was in his wolf-skin coat, and his fox-skin cap doubled
down over his ears.

The cake steamed up in the frosty air under his nose, so warm and spicy
and rich, that Oddo began to wonder what so very superior a cake could
be like.  He had never tasted any cake so rich as this; nor had any one
in the house tasted such, for Nipen would be offended if his cake was
not richer than anybody's else.  He broke a piece off and ate it, and
then wondered whether Nipen would mind his cake being just a little
smaller than usual.  After a few steps more the wonder was how far
Nipen's charity would go for the cake was now a great deal smaller; and
Oddo next wondered whether anybody could stop eating such a cake when
it was once tasted.  He was surprised to see when he came out into the
starlight, at the end of the barn, how small a piece was left.  He
stood listening whether Nipen was coming in a gust of wind; and when he
heard no breeze stirring, he looked about for a cloud where Nipen might
be.  There was no cloud, as far as he could see.  The moon had set; but
the stars were so bright as to throw a faint shadow from Oddo's form
upon the snow.  There was no sign of any spirit being angry at present;
but Oddo thought Nipen would certainly be angry at finding so very
small a piece of cake.  It might be better to let the ale stand by
itself, and Nipen would perhaps suppose that Madame Erlingsen's stock
of groceries had fallen short, at least that it was in some way
inconvenient to make the cake on the present occasion.  So putting down
his can upon the snow, and holding the last fragment of the cake
between his teeth, he seized a birch pole which hung down from the
gallery, and by its help climbed one of the posts and got over the
rails into the gallery, whence he could watch what would happen.  To
remain on the very spot where Nipen was expected was a little more than
he was equal to; but he thought he could stand in the gallery, in the
shadow of the broad eaves of the barn, and wait for a little while.  He
was so very curious to see Nipen, and to learn how it liked its ale!

There he stood in the shadow, growing more and more impatient as the
minutes passed on, and he was aware that he was wanted in the house.
Once or twice he walked slowly away, looking behind him, and then
turned again, unwilling to miss this opportunity of seeing Nipen.  Then
he called the spirit--actually begged it to appear.  His first call was
almost a whisper; but he called louder and louder till he was suddenly
stopped by hearing an answer.

The call he heard was soft and sweet.  There was nothing terrible in
the sound itself; yet Oddo grasped the rail of the gallery with all his
strength as he heard it.  The strangest thing was, it was not a single
cry: others followed it, all soft and sweet; but Oddo thought that
Nipen must have many companions, and he had not prepared himself to see
more spirits than one.  As usual, however, his curiosity grew more
intense from the little he had heard, and he presently called again.
Again he was answered by four or five voices in succession.

"Was ever anybody so stupid!" cried the boy, now stamping with
vexation.  "It is the echo, after all.  As if there was not always an
echo here opposite the rock.  It is not Nipen at all.  I will just wait
another minute, however."

He leaned in silence on his folded arms, and had not so waited for many
seconds before he saw something moving on the snow at a little
distance.  It came nearer and nearer, and at last quite up to the can
of ale.

"I am glad I stayed," thought Oddo.  "Now I can say I have seen Nipen.
It is much less terrible then I expected.  Grandfather told me that it
sometimes came like an enormous elephant or hippopotamus, and never
smaller than a large bear.  But this is no bigger then--let me see--I
think it is most like a fox.  I should like to make it speak to me.
They would think so much of me at home if I had talked with Nipen."

So he began gently--"Is that Nipen?"

The thing moved its bushy tail, but did not answer.

"There is no cake for you to-night, Nipen.  I hope the ale will do.  Is
the ale good, Nipen?"

Off went the dark creature without a word, as quick as it could go.

"It is offended?" thought Oddo; "or is it really what it looks like, a
fox?  If it does not come back, I will go down presently and see
whether it is only a fox."

He presently let himself down to the ground by the way he had come up,
and eagerly laid hold of the ale can.  It would not stir.  It was as
fast on the ground as if it was enchanted, which Oddo did not doubt was
the case; and he started back with more fear than he had yet had.  The
cold he felt on this exposed spot soon reminded him, however, that the
can was probably frozen to the snow, which it might well be, after
being brought warm from the fireside.  It was so.  The vessel had sunk
an inch into the snow, and was there fixed by the frost.

None of the ale seemed to have been drunk; and so cold was Oddo by this
time, that he longed for a sup of it.  He took first a sup and then a
draught; and then he remembered that the rest would be entirely spoiled
by the frost if it stood another hour.  This would be a pity, he
thought; so he finished it, saying to himself that he did not believe
Nipen would come that night.

At that very moment he heard a cry so dreadful that it shot, like
sudden pain, through every nerve of his body.  It was not a shout of
anger: it was something between a shriek and a wail--like what he
fancied would be the cry of a person in the act of being murdered.
That Nipen was here now, he could not doubt; and, at length, Oddo fled.
He fled the faster, at first, for hearing the rustle of wings; but the
curiosity of the boy even now got the better of his terror, and he
looked up at the barn where the wings were rustling.  There he saw in
the starlight the glitter of two enormous round eyes, shining down upon
him from the ridge of the roof.  But it struck him at once that he had
seen those eyes before.  He checked his speed, stopped, went back a
little, sprang up once more into the gallery, hissed, waved his cap,
and clapped his hands, till the echoes were all awake again; and, as he
had hoped, the great white owl spread its wings, sprang off from the
ridge, and sailed away over the fiord.

Oddo tossed up his cap, cold as the night was, so delighted was he to
have scared away the bird which had, for a moment, scared him.  He
hushed his mirth, however, when he perceived that lights were wandering
in the yard, and that there were voices approaching.  He saw that the
household were alarmed about him, and were coming forth to search for
him.  Curious to see what they would do, Oddo crouched down in the
darkest corner of the gallery to watch and listen.

First came Rolf and his master, carrying torches, with which they
lighted up the whole expanse of snow as they came.  They looked round
them without any fear, and Oddo heard Rolf say--

"If it were not for that cry, sir, I should think nothing of it.  But
my fear is that some beast has got him."

"Search first the place where the cake and ale ought to be," said
Erlingsen.  "Till I see blood, I shall hope the best."

"You will not see that," said Hund, who followed; his gloomy
countenance, now distorted by fear, looking ghastly in the yellow light
of the torch he carried.  "You will see no blood.  Nipen does not draw
blood."

"Never tell me that any one that was not wounded and torn could send
out such a cry as that," said Rolf.  "Some wild brute seized him, no
doubt, at the very moment that Erica and I were standing at the door
listening."

Oddo repented of his prank when he saw, in the flickering light behind
the crowd of guests, who seemed to hang together like a bunch of
grapes, the figures of his grandfather and Erica.  The old man had come
out in the cold for his sake; and Erica, who looked as white as the
snow, had no doubt come forth because the old man wanted a guide.  Oddo
now wished himself out of the scrape.  Sorry as he was, he could not
help being amused, and keeping himself hidden a little longer, when he
saw Rolf discover the round hole in the snow where the can had sunk,
and heard the different opinions of the company as to what this
portended.  Most were convinced that his curiosity had been his
destruction, as they had always prophesied.  What could be clearer, by
this hole, than that the ale had stood there, and been carried off with
the cake; and Oddo with it, because he chose to stay and witness what
is forbidden to mortals?

"I wonder where he is now," said a shivering youth, the gayest dancer
of the evening.

"Oh, there is no doubt about that; any one can tell you that," replied
the elderly and experienced M. Holberg.  "He is chained upon a wind,
poor fellow, like all Nipen's victims.  He will have to be shut up in a
cave all the hot summer through, when it is pleasantest to be abroad;
and when the frost and snow come again, he will be driven out, with a
lash of Nipen's whip, and he must go flying wherever the wind flies,
without resting, or stopping to warm himself at any fire in the
country."

Oddo had thus far kept his laughter to himself; but now he could
contain himself no longer.  He laughed aloud--and then louder and
louder as he heard the echoes all laughing with him.  The faces below,
too, were so very ridiculous--some of the people staring up in the air;
and others at the rock where the echo came from; some having their
mouths wide open, others their eyes starting, and all looking unlike
themselves in the torchlight.  His mirth was stopped by his master.

"Come down, sir," cried Erlingsen, looking up at the gallery.  "Come
down this moment.  We shall make you remember this night, as well
perhaps as Nipen could do.  Come down, and bring my can, and the ale
and the cake.  The more pranks you play the more you will repent it."

Most of the company thought Erlingsen very bold to talk in this way;
but he was presently justified by Oddo's appearance on the balustrade.
His master seized him as he touched the ground, while the others stood
aloof.

"Where is my ale can?" said Erlingsen.

"Here, sir;" and Oddo held it up dangling by the handle.

"And the cake--I bade you bring it down with you."

"So I did, sir."

And to his master's look of inquiry, the boy answered by pointing down
his throat with one finger, and laying the other hand upon his stomach.
"It is all here, sir."

"And the ale in the same place?"

Oddo bowed, and Erlingsen turned away without speaking.  He could not
have spoken without laughing.

"Bring this gentleman home," said Erlingsen presently to Rolf; "and do
not let him out of your hands.  Let no one ask him any questions till
he is in the house."  Rolf grasped the boy's arm, and Erlingsen went
forward to relieve Peder, though it was not very clear to him at the
moment whether such a grandchild was better safe or missing.  The old
man made no such question, but hastened back with many expressions of
thanksgiving.

As the search-party crowded in among the women, and pushed all before
them into the large warm room, M. Kollsen was seen standing on the
stair-head, wrapped in the bear-skin coverlid.

"Is the boy there?" he inquired.

Oddo showed himself.

"How much have you seen of Nipen, hey?"

"Nobody ever had a better sight of it, sir.  It was as plain as I see
you now, and no farther off."

"Nonsense--it is a lie," said M. Kollsen.  "Do not believe a word he
says," advised the pastor.

Oddo bowed, and proceeded to the great room, where he took up his
clarionet, as if it was a matter of course that the dancing was to
begin again immediately.  He blew upon his fingers, however, observing
that they were too stiff with cold to do their duty well.  And when he
turned towards the fire, every one made way for him, in a very
different manner from what they would have dreamed of three hours
before.  Oddo had his curiosity gratified as to how they would regard
one who was believed to have seen something supernatural.

When seriously questioned, Oddo had no wish to say anything but the
truth; and he admitted the whole--that he had eaten the entire cake,
drunk all the ale, seen a fox and an owl, and heard the echoes, in
answer to himself.  As he finished his story, Hund, who was perhaps the
most eager listener of all, leaped thrice upon the floor, snapping his
fingers, as if in a passion of delight.  He met Erlingsen's eye, full
of severity, and was quiet; but his countenance still glowed with
exultation.

The rest of the company were greatly shocked at these daring insults to
Nipen: and none more so than Peder.  The old man's features worked with
emotion, as he said in a low voice that he should be very thankful if
all the mischief that might follow upon this adventure might be borne
by the kin of him who had provoked it.  If it should fall upon those
who were innocent, never surely had boy been so miserable as his poor
lad would then be.  Oddo's eyes filled with tears as he heard this; and
he looked up at his master and mistress, as if to ask whether they had
no word of comfort to say.

"Neighbour," said Madame Erlingsen to Peder, "is there any one here who
does not believe that God is over all, and that He protects the
innocent?"

"Is there any one who does not feel," added Erlingsen, "that the
innocent should be gay, safe as they are in the goodwill of God and
man?  Come, neighbours--to your dancing again!  You have lost too much
time already.  Now, Oddo, play your best--and you, Hund."

"I hope," said Oddo, "that, if any mischief is to come, it will fall
upon me.  We'll see how I shall bear it."


When M. Kollsen appeared the next morning, the household had so much of
its usual air that no stranger would have imagined how it had been
occupied the day before.  The large room was fresh strewn with
evergreen sprigs; the breakfast-table stood at one end, where each took
breakfast, standing, immediately on coming downstairs.  At the bottom
of the room was a busy group.  Peder was twisting strips of leather,
thin and narrow, into whips.  Rolf and Hund were silently intent upon a
sort of work which the Norwegian peasant delights in--carving wood.
They spoke only to answer Peder's questions about the progress of the
work.  Peder loved to hear about their carving, and to feel it; for he
had been remarkable for his skill in the art, as long as his sight
lasted.

The whole party rose when M. Kollsen entered the room.  He talked
politics a little with his host, by the fireside; in the midst of which
conversation Erlingsen managed to intimate that nothing would be heard
of Nipen to-day, if the subject was let alone by themselves: a hint
which the clergyman was willing to take, as he supposed it meant in
deference to his views.

Erica heard M. Kollsen inquiring of Peder about his old wife, so she
started up from her work, and said she must run and prepare Ulla for
the pastor's visit.  Poor Ulla would think herself forgotten this
morning, it was growing so late, and nobody had been over to see her.

Ulla, however, was far from having any such thoughts.  There sat the
old woman, propped up in bed, knitting as fast as fingers could move,
and singing, with her soul in her song, though her voice was weak and
unsteady.

"I thought you would come," said Ulla.  "I knew you would come, and
take my blessing on your betrothment.  I must not say that I hope to
see you crowned; for we all know--and nobody so well as I--that it is I
that stand between you and your crown.  I often think of it, my
dear----"

"Then I wish you would not, Ulla--you know that."

"I do know it, my dear; and I would not be for hastening God's
appointments.  Let all be in His own time."

"There was news this morning," said Erica, "of a lodgment of logs at
the top of the foss;[1] and they were all going, except Peder, to slide
them down the gully to the fiord.  The gully is frozen so slippery,
that the work will not take long.  They will make a raft of the logs in
the fiord; and either Rolf or Hund will carry them out to the islands
when the tide ebbs."



[1] Waterfall.  Pine-trunks felled in the forest are drawn over the
frozen snow to the banks of a river, or to the top of a waterfall,
whence they may be either slid down over the ice, or left to be carried
down by the floods, at the melting of the snows in the spring.



"Will it be Rolf, do you think, or Hund, dear?"

"I wish it may be Hund.  If it be Rolf, I shall go with him.  O Ulla!
I cannot lose sight of him, after what happened last night.  Did you
hear?  I do wish Oddo would grow wiser."

Ulla shook her head.  "How did Hund conduct himself yesterday?  Did you
mark his countenance, dear?"

"Indeed there was no helping it, any more than one can help watching a
storm-cloud as it comes up."

"So it was dark and wrathful, was it, that ugly face of his?"  There
was a knock, and before Erica could reach the door, Frolich burst in.

"Such news!" she cried--"You never heard such news."

"Good or bad?" inquired Ulla.

"Oh, bad--very bad," declared Frolich; "there is a pirate vessel among
the islands.  She was seen off Soroe some time ago, but she is much
nearer to us now.  There was a farmhouse seen burning on Alten fiord
last week, and as the family are all gone and nothing but ruins left,
there is little doubt the pirates lit the torch that did it.  And the
cod has been carried off from the beach in the few places where any has
been caught yet."

"They have not found out our fiord yet?" inquired Ulla.

"Oh dear!  I hope not.  But they may, any day.  And father says the
coast must be raised, from Hammerfest to Tronyem, and a watch set till
this wicked vessel can be taken or driven away.  He was going to send a
running message both ways, but there is something else to be done
first."

"Another misfortune?" asked Erica faintly.

"No; they say it is a piece of very good fortune--at least for those
who like bears' feet for dinner.  Somebody or other has lighted upon
the great bear that got away in the summer, and poked her out of her
den on the fjelde.  She is certainly abroad with her two last year's
cubs, and their traces have been found just above, near the foss.  Oddo
has come running home to tell us, and father says he must get up a hunt
before more snow falls and we lose the tracks, or the family may
establish themselves among us and make away with our first calves."

"Does he expect to kill them all?"

"I tell you we are all to grow stout on bears' feet.  For my part I
like bears' feet best on the other side of Tronyem."

"You will change your mind, Miss Frolich, when you see them on the
table," observed Ulla.

"That is just what father said.  And he asked how I thought Erica and
Stiorna would like to have a den in their neighbourhood when they got
up to the mountain for the summer."

Erica with a sigh rose to return to the house.  In the porch she found
Oddo.

Wooden dwellings resound so much as to be inconvenient for those who
have secrets to tell.  In the porch of Peder's house Oddo had heard all
that passed within.

"Dear Erica," said he, "I want you to do a very kind thing for me.  Do
get leave for me to go with Rolf after the bears.  If I get one stroke
at them--if I can but wound one of them, I shall have a paw for my
share, and I will lay it out for Nipen.  You will, will not you?"

"It must be as Erlingsen chooses, Oddo, but I fancy you will not be
allowed to go just now."

The establishment was now in a great hurry and bustle for an hour,
after which time it promised to be unusually quiet.

M. Kollsen began to be anxious to be on the other side of the fiord.
It was rather inconvenient, as the two men were wanted to go in
different directions, while their master took a third, to rouse the
farmers for the bear-hunt.  The hunters were all to arrive before night
within a certain distance of the thickets where the bears were now
believed to be.  On calm nights it was no great hardship to spend the
dark hours in the bivouac of the country.  Each party was to shelter
itself under a bank of snow, or in a pit dug out of it, an enormous
fire blazing in the midst, and brandy and tobacco being plentifully
distributed on such occasions.  Early in the morning the director of
the hunt was to go his rounds, and arrange the hunters in a ring
enclosing the hiding-place of the bears, so that all might be prepared,
and no waste made of the few hours of daylight which the season
afforded.  As soon as it was light enough to see distinctly among the
trees, or bushes, or holes of the rocks where the bears might be
couched, they were to be driven from their retreat and disposed of as
quickly as possible.  Such was the plan, well understood in such cases
throughout the country.  On the present occasion it might be expected
that the peasantry would be ready at the first summons.  Yet the more
messengers and helpers the better, and Erlingsen was rather vexed to
see Hund go with alacrity to unmoor the boat and offer officiously to
row the pastor across the fiord.  His daughters knew what he was
thinking about, and, after a moment's consultation, Frolich asked
whether she and the maid Stiorna might not be the rowers.

Nobody would have objected if Hund had not.  The girls could row,
though they could not hunt bears, and the weather was fair enough; but
Hund shook his head, and went on preparing the boat.  His master spoke
to him, but Hund was not remarkable for giving up his own way.  He
would only say that there would be plenty of time for both affairs, and
that he could follow the hunt when he returned, and across the lake he
went.

Erlingsen and Rolf presently departed.  The women and Peder were left
behind.

They occupied themselves, to keep away anxious thoughts.  Old Peder
sang to them, too.  Hour after hour they looked for Hund.  His news of
his voyage, and the sending him after his master, would be something to
do and to think of; but Hund did not come.  Stiorna at last let fall
that she did not think he would come yet, for that he meant to catch
some cod before his return.  He had taken tackle with him for that
purpose, she knew, and she should not wonder if he did not appear till
the morning.

Every one was surprised and Madame Erlingsen highly displeased.  At the
time when her husband would be wanting every strong arm that could be
mustered, his servant chose to be out fishing, instead of obeying
orders.  The girls pronounced him a coward, and Peder observed that to
a coward, as well as a sluggard, there was ever a lion in the path.
Erica doubted whether this act of disobedience arose from cowardice,
for there were dangers in the fiord for such as went out as far as the
cod.  She supposed Hund had heard----

She stopped short, as a sudden flash of suspicion crossed her mind.
She had seen Hund inquiring of Olaf about the pirates, and his strange
obstinacy about this day's boating looked much as if he meant to learn
more.

"Danger in the fiord!" repeated Orga; "oh, you mean the pirates.  They
are far enough from our fiord, I suppose.  If ever they do come, I wish
they would catch Hund and carry him off, I am sure we could spare them
nothing they would be so welcome to."

"Did not you see M. Kollsen in the boat with Hund?" Madame Erlingsen
inquired of Oddo when he came in.

"No, Hund was quite alone, pulling with all his might down the fiord.
The tide was with him, so that he shot along like a fish."

"How do you know it was Hund that you saw?"

"Don't I know our boat?  And don't I know his pull?  It is no more like
Rolf's then Rolf's is like master's."

"Perhaps he was making for the best fishing-ground as fast as he could."

"We shall see that by the fish he brings home."

"True.  By supper-time we shall know."

"Hund will not be home by supper-time," said Oddo decidedly,

"Why not?  Come, say out what you mean."

"Well, I will tell you what I saw, I watched him rowing as fast as his
arm and the tide would carry him.  It was so plain that there was a
plan in his head, that I followed on from point to point, catching a
sight now and then, till I had gone a good stretch beyond Salten
heights.  I was just going to turn back when I took one more look, and
he was then pulling in for the land."

"On the north shore or south?" asked Peder.

"The north--just at the narrow part of the fiord, where one can see
into the holes of the rocks opposite."

"The fiord takes a wide sweep below there," observed Peder.

"Yes; and that was why he landed," replied Oddo.  "He was then but a
little way from the fishing-ground, if he had wanted fish.  But he
drove up the boat into a little cove, a narrow dark creek, where it
will lie safe enough, I have no doubt, till he comes back--if he means
to come back."

[Illustration: And that vessel, he knew, was the pirate schooner.]

"Why, where should he go?  What should he do but come back?" asked
Madame Erlingsen.

"He is now gone over the ridge to the north.  I saw him moor the boat,
and begin to climb; and I watched his dark figure on the white snow,
higher and higher, till it was a speck, and I could not make it out."

"What do you think of this story, Peder?" asked his mistress.

"I think Hund has taken the short cut over the promontory, on business
of his own at the islands.  He is not on any business of yours, depend
upon it, madame."

"And what business can he have among the islands?"

"I could say that with more certainty if I knew exactly where the
pirate vessel is."

"That is your idea, Erica," said her mistress.  "I saw what your
thoughts were an hour ago, before we knew all this."

"I was thinking then, madame, that if Hund was gone to join the
pirates, Nipen would be very ready to give them a wind just now.  A
baffling wind would be our only defence; and we cannot expect that much
from Nipen to-day."

"I will do anything in the world," cried Oddo eagerly.  "Send me
anywhere.  Do think of something that I can do."

"What must be done, Peder?" asked his mistress.

"There is quite enough to fear, Erica, without a word of Nipen.
Pirates on the coast, and one farmhouse seen burning already."

"I will tell you what you must let me do, madame," said Erica.  "Indeed
you must not oppose me.  My mind is quite set upon going for the
boat--immediately--this very minute.  That will give us time, it will
give us safety for this night.  Hund might bring seven or eight men
upon us over the promontory; but if they find no boat, I think they can
hardly work up the windings of the fiord in their own vessel to-night;
unless, indeed," she added with a sigh, "they have a most favourable
wind."

"All this is true enough," said her mistress; "but how will you go?
Will you swim?"

"The raft, madame."

"And there is the old skiff on Thor islet," said Oddo.  "It is a
rickety little thing, hardly big enough for two; but it will carry down
Erica and me, if we go before the tide turns."

"But how will you get to Thor islet?" inquired Madame Erlingsen.  "I
wish the scheme were not such a wild one."

"A wild one must serve at such a time, madame," replied Erica.  "Rolf
had lashed several logs before he went.  I am sure we can get over to
the islet.  See, madame, the fiord is as smooth as a pond."

"Let her go," said Peder.  "She will never repent."

"Then come back, I charge you, if you find the least danger," said her
mistress.  "No one is safer at the oar than you; but if there is a
ripple in the water, or a gust on the heights, or a cloud in the sky,
come back.  Such is my command, Erica."

"Wife," said Peder, "give her your pelisse.  That will save her seeing
the girls before she goes.  And she shall have my cap, and then there
is not an eye along that fiord that can tell whether she is man or
woman."

Ulla lent her deer-skin pelisse willingly enough; but she entreated
that Oddo might be kept at home.  She folded her arms about the boy
with tears; but Peder decided the matter with the words--

"Let him go.  It is the least he can do to make up for last night.
Equip, Oddo."

Oddo equipped willingly enough.  In two minutes he and his companion
looked like two walking bundles of fur.  Oddo carried a frail basket,
containing rye-bread, salt fish, and a flask of corn-brandy; for in
Norway no one goes on the shortest expedition without carrying
provisions.

"Surely it must be dusk by this time," said Peder.

It was dusk; and this was well, as the pair could steal down to the
shore without being perceived from the house.  Madame Erlingsen gave
them her blessing, saying that if the enterprise saved them from
nothing worse than Hund's company this night, it would be a great good.
There could be no more comfort in having Hund for an inmate; for some
improper secret he certainly had.  Her hope was that, finding the boat
gone, he would never show himself again.


Erica now profited by her lover's industry in the morning.  He had so
far advanced with the raft that, though no one would have thought of
taking it in its present state to the mouth of the fiord for shipment,
it would serve as a conveyance in still water for a short distance
safely enough.

And still indeed the waters were.  As Erica and Oddo were busily and
silently employed in tying moss round their oars to muffle their sound,
the ripple of the tide upon the white sand could scarcely be heard; and
it appeared to the eye as if the lingering remains of the daylight
brooded on the fiord, unwilling to depart.  The stars had, however,
been showing themselves for some time; and they might now be seen
twinkling below almost as clearly and steadily as overhead.  As Erica
and Oddo put their little raft off from the shore, and then waited with
their oars suspended, to observe whether the tide carried them towards
the islet they must reach, it seemed as if some invisible hand was
pushing them forth, to shiver the bright pavement of constellations as
it lay.  Star after star was shivered, and its bright fragments danced
in their wake; and those fragments reunited and became a star again, as
the waters closed over the path of the raft, and subsided into perfect
stillness.

The tide favoured Erica's object.  A few strokes of the oar brought the
raft to the right point for landing on the islet.  They stepped ashore,
and towed the raft along till they came to the skiff, and then they
fastened the raft with the boat-hook, which had been fixed there for
the skiff.  This done, Oddo ran to turn over the little boat and
examine its condition, but he found he could not move it.  It was
frozen fast to the ground.  It was scarcely possible to get a firm hold
of it, it was so slippery with ice; and all pulling and pushing of the
two together was in vain, though the boat was so light that either of
them could have lifted and carried it in a time of thaw.

This circumstance caused a great deal of delay; and what was worse, it
obliged them to make some noise.  They struck at the ice with sharp
stones, but it was long before they could make any visible impression,
and Erica proposed again and again that they should proceed on the
raft.  Oddo was unwilling.  The skiff would go so incomparably faster,
that it was worth spending some time upon it; and the fears he had had
of its leaking were removed, now that he found what a sheet of ice it
was covered with--ice which would not melt to admit a drop of water
while they were in it.  So he knocked and knocked away, wishing that
the echoes would be quiet for once, and then laughing as he imagined
the ghost stories that would spring up all round the fiord to-morrow,
from the noise he was then making.

Erica worked hard too; and one advantage of their labour was that they
were well warmed before they put off again.  The boat's icy fastenings
were all broken at last, and it was launched; but all was not yet
ready.  The skiff had lain in a direction east and west; and its north
side had so much thicker a coating of ice than the other, that its
balance was destroyed.  It hung so low on one side as to promise to
upset with a touch.

"We must clear off more of the ice," said Erica.  "But how late it is
growing!"

"No more knocking, I say," replied Oddo.  "There is a quieter way of
trimming the boat."

He fastened a few stones to the gunwale on the lighter side, and took
in a few more for the purpose of shifting the weight if necessary,
while they were on their way.

They did not leave quiet behind them when they departed.  They had
roused the multitude of eider ducks and other sea-fowl which thronged
the islet, and which now, being roused, began their night-feeding and
flying, though at an earlier hour than usual.  When their discordant
cries were left so far behind as to be softened by distance, the
flapping of wings and swash of water, as the fowl plunged in, still
made the air busy all around.

The rowers were so occupied with the management of their dangerous
craft, that they had not spoken since they left the islet.  The skiff
would have been unmanageable by any maiden and boy in our country; but
on the coast of Norway, it is as natural to persons of all ages and
degrees to guide a boat as to walk.  Swiftly but cautiously they shot
through the water.

"Are you sure you know the cove?" asked Erica.

"Quite sure.  I wish I was as sure that Hund would not find it again
before me.  Pull away."

"How much farther is it?"

"Farther than I like to think of.  I doubt your arm holding out; I wish
Rolf was here."

Erica did not wish the same thing.  She thought that Rolf was, on the
whole, safer waging war with bears than with pirates, especially if
Hund was among them.  She pulled her oar cheerfully, observing that
there was no fatigue at present; and that when they were once afloat in
the heavier boat, and had cleared the cove, there need be no
hurry--unless indeed they should see something of the pirate schooner
on the way; and of this she had no expectation, as the booty that might
be had where the fishery was beginning was worth more than anything
that could be found higher up the fiords, to say nothing of the danger
of running up into the country so far as that getting away again
depended upon one particular wind.

Yet Erica looked behind her after every few strokes of her oar; and
once, when she saw something, her start was felt like a start of the
skiff itself.  There was a fire glancing and gleaming and quivering
over the water, some way down the fiord.

"Some people night-fishing," observed Oddo.  "What sport they will
have!  I wish I was with them.  How fast we go!  How you can row when
you choose!  I can see the man that is holding the torch.  Cannot you
see his black figure?  And the spearman--see how he stands at the
bow--now going to cast his spear!  I wish I was there."

"We must get farther away--into the shadow somewhere, or wait,"
observed Erica.  "I had rather not wait, it is growing so late.  We
might creep along under that promontory, in the shadow, if you would be
quiet.  I wonder whether you can be silent in the sight of
night-fishing."

"To be sure," said Oddo, disposed to be angry, and only kept from it by
the thought of last night.  He helped to bring the skiff into the
shadow of the overhanging rocks, and only spoke once more, to whisper
that the fishing-boat was drifting down with the tide, and that he
thought their cove lay between them and the fishing-party.

It was so.  As the skiff rounded the point of the promontory, Oddo
pointed out what appeared like a mere dark chasm in the high
perpendicular wall of rock that bounded the waters.  This chasm still
looked so narrow on approaching it, that Erica hesitated to push her
skiff into it, till certain that there was no one there.  Oddo was so
clear that she might safely do this, so noiseless was their rowing, and
it was so plain that there was no footing on the rocks by which he
might enter to explore, that in a sort of desperation, and seeing
nothing else to be done, Erica agreed.  She wished it had been summer,
when either of them might have learned what they wanted by swimming.
This was now out of the question; and stealthily therefore she pulled
her little craft into the deepest shadow, and crept into the cove.

At a little distance from the entrance it widened, but it was a wonder
to Erica that even Oddo's eyes should have seen Hund moor his boat here
from the other side of the fiord; though the fiord was not more than a
gunshot over in this part.  Oddo himself wondered, till he recalled how
the sun was shining down into the chasm at the time.  By starlight, the
outline of all that the cove contained might be seen, the outline of
the boat among other things.  There she lay!  But there was something
about her which was unpleasant enough.  There were three men in her.

What was to be done now?  Here was the very worst danger that Erica had
feared--worse than finding the boat gone--worse than meeting it in the
wide fiord.  What was to be done?

There was nothing for it but to do nothing--to lie perfectly still in
the shadow, ready, however, to push out on the first movement of the
boat to leave the cove; for, though the canoe might remain unnoticed at
present, it was impossible that anybody could pass out of the cove
without seeing her.  In such a case there would be nothing for it but a
race--a race for which Erica and Oddo held themselves prepared without
any mutual explanation, for they dared not speak.  The faintest whisper
would have crept over the smooth water to the ears in the larger boat.

One thing was certain--that something must happen presently.  It is
impossible for the hardiest men to sit inactive in a boat for any
length of time in a January night in Norway.  In the calmest nights the
cold is only to be sustained by means of the glow from strong exercise.
It was certain that these three men could not have been long in their
places, and that they would not sit many moments more without some
change in their arrangements.

They did not seem to be talking, for Oddo, who was the best listener in
the world, could not discover that a sound issued from their boat.  He
fancied they were drowsy, and, being aware what were the consequences
of yielding to drowsiness in severe cold, the boy began to entertain
high hopes of taking these three men prisoners.  The whole country
would ring with such a feat performed by Erica and himself.

The men were too much awake to be made prisoners of at present.  One
was seen to drink from a flask, and the hoarse voice of another was
heard grumbling, as far as the listeners could make out, at being kept
waiting.  The third then rose to look about him, and Erica trembled
from head to foot.  He only looked upon the land, however, declared he
saw nothing of those he was expecting, and began to warm himself as he
stood, by repeatedly clapping his arms across his breast.  This was
Hund.  He could not have been known by his figure, for all persons look
alike in wolf-skin pelisses, but the voice and the action were his.
Oddo saw how Erica shuddered.  He put his finger on his lips, but Erica
needed no reminding of the necessity of quietness.

The other two men then rose, and after a consultation, the words of
which could not be heard, all stepped ashore, one after another, and
climbed a rocky pathway.

"Now, now!" whispered Erica.  "Now we can get away."

"Not without the boat," said Oddo.  "You would not leave them the boat?"

"No--not if--but they will be back in a moment.  They are only gone to
hasten their companions."

"I know it," said Oddo.  "Now two strokes forward!"

While she gave these two strokes, which brought the skiff to the stern
of the boat, Erica saw that Oddo had taken out a knife which gleamed in
the starlight.  It was for cutting the thong by which the boat was
fastened to a birch-pole, the other end of which was hooked on shore.
This was to save his going ashore to unhook the pole.  It was well for
him that boat chains were not in use, owing to the scarcity of metal in
that region.  The clink of a chain would certainly have been heard.

Quickly and silently he entered the boat and tied the skiff to its
stern, and he and Erica took their places where the men had sat one
minute before.  They used their own muffled oars to turn the boat
round, till Oddo observed that the boat oars were muffled too.  Then
voices were heard again.  The men were returning.  Strongly did the two
companions draw their strokes till a good breadth of water lay between
them and the shore, and then till they had again entered the deep
shadow which shrouded the mouth of the cove.  There they paused.

"In with you!" some loud voice said, as man after man was seen in
outline coming down the pathway.  "In with you!  We have lost time
enough already."

"Where is she?  I can't see the boat," answered the foremost man.

"You can't miss her," said one behind, "unless the brandy has got into
your eyes."

"So I should have said; but I do miss her."

Oddo shook with stifled laughter as he partly saw and partly overheard
the perplexity of these men.  At last one gave a deep groan, and
another declared that the spirits of the fiord were against them, and
there was no doubt that their boat was now lying twenty fathoms deep at
the bottom of the creek, drawn down by the strong hand of an angry
water-sprite.  Oddo squeezed Erica's little hand as he heard this.  If
it had been light enough, he would have seen that even she was smiling.

One of the men mourned their having no other boat, so that they must
give up their plan.  Another said that if they had a dozen boats he
would not set foot in one after what had happened.  He should go
straight back, the way he came, to their own vessel.  Another said he
would not go till he had looked abroad over the fiord for some chance
of seeing the boat.  This he persisted in, though told by the rest that
it was absurd to suppose that the boat had loosed itself and gone out
into the fiord in the course of the two minutes that they had been
absent.  He showed the fragment of the cut thong in proof of the boat
not having loosed itself, and set off for a point on the heights which
he said overlooked the fiord.  One or two went with him, the rest
returning up the narrow pathway at some speed--such speed that Erica
thought they were afraid of the hindmost being caught by the same enemy
that had taken their boat.  Oddo observed this too, and he quickened
their pace by setting up very loud the mournful cry with which he was
accustomed to call out to the plovers on the mountain-side on sporting
days.  No sound can be more melancholy; and now, as it rang from the
rocks, it was so unsuitable to the place, and so terrible to the
already frightened men, that they ran on as fast as the slipperiness of
the rocks would allow, till they were all out of sight over the ridge.

"Now for it, before the other two come out above us there!" said Oddo,
and in another minute they were again in the fiord, keeping as much in
the shadow as they could, however, till they must strike over to the
islet.

"Thank God that we came!" exclaimed Erica.  "We shall never forget what
we owe you, Oddo.  You shall see, by the care we take of your
grandfather and Ulla, that we do not forget what you have done this
night.  If Nipen will only forgive, for the sake of this----"

"We were just in the nick of time," observed Oddo.  "It was better than
if we had been earlier."

"I do not know," said Erica.  "Here are their brandy-bottles, and many
things besides.  I had rather not have had to bring these away."

"But if we had been earlier they would not have had their fright.  That
is the best part of it.  Depend upon it, some that have not said their
prayers for long will say them to-night."

"That will be good.  But I do not like carrying home these things that
are not ours.  If they are seen at Erlingsen's they may bring the
pirates down upon us.  I would leave them on the islet but that the
skiff has to be left there too, and that would explain our trick."

Erica would not consent to throw the property overboard.  This would be
robbing those who had not actually injured her, whatever their
intentions might have been.  She thought that if the goods were left
upon some barren, uninhabited part of the shore, the pirates would
probably be the first to find them; and that, if not, the rumour of
such an extraordinary fact, spread by the simple country people, would
be sure to reach them.  So Oddo carried on shore, at the first stretch
of white beach they came to, the brandy-flasks, the bear-skins, the
tobacco-pouch, the muskets and powder-horns, and the tinder-box.  He
scattered these about, just above high-water mark, laughing to think
how report would tell of the sprites' care in placing all these
articles out of reach of injury from the water.

Oddo did not want for light while doing this.  When he returned, he
found Erica gazing up over the towering precipices at the Northern
Lights, which had now unfurled their broad yellow blaze.  She was glad
that they had not appeared sooner to spoil the adventure of the night,
but she was thankful to have the way home thus illumined now that the
business was done.  She answered with so much alacrity to Oddo's
question whether she was not very weary, that he ventured to say two
things which had before been upon his tongue without his having the
courage to utter them.

"You will not be so afraid of Nipen any more," observed he, glancing at
her face, of which he could see every feature by the quivering light.
"You see how well everything has turned out."

"Oh, hush!  It is too soon yet to speak so.  It is never right to speak
so.  Pray do not speak any more, Oddo."

"Well, not about that.  But what was it exactly that you thought Hund
would do with this boat and those people?  Did you think," he
continued, after a short pause, "that they would come up to Erlingsen's
to rob the place?"

"Not for the object of robbing the place, because there is very little
that is worth their taking; far less than at the fishing-grounds.  Not
but they might have robbed us, if they took a fancy to anything we
have.  No; I thought, and I still think, that they would have carried
off Rolf, led on by Hund----"

"Oh, ho! carried off Rolf!  So here is the secret of your wonderful
courage to-night, you who durst not look round at your own shadow last
night!  This is the secret of your not being tired, you who are out of
breath with rowing a mile sometimes!"

"That is in summer," pleaded Erica.  "However, you have my secret, as
you say, a thing which is no secret at home.  We all think that Hund
bears such a grudge against Rolf, for having got the houseman's
place----"

"And for nothing else?"

"That," continued Erica, "he would be glad to--to----"

"To get rid of Rolf, and be a houseman, and get betrothed instead of
him.  Well; Hund is baulked for this time.  Rolf must look to himself
after to-day."

Erica sighed deeply.  She did not believe that Rolf would attend to his
own safety; and the future looked very dark, all shrouded by her fears.

By the time the skiff was deposited where it had been found, both the
rowers were so weary that they gave up the idea of taking the raft in
tow, as for full security they ought to do.  They doubted whether they
could get home, if they had more weight to draw than their own boat.
It was well that they left this encumbrance behind, for there was quite
peril and difficulty enough without it; and Erica's strength and
spirits failed the more the farther the enemy was left behind.

A breath of wind seemed to bring a sudden darkening of the friendly
lights which had blazed up higher and brighter, from their first
appearance till now.  Both rowers looked down the fiord, and uttered an
exclamation at the same moment.

"See the fog!" cried Oddo, putting fresh strength into his oar.

"O Nippen!  Nipen!" mournfully exclaimed Erica.  "Here it is, Oddo, the
west wind!"

The west wind is, in winter, the great foe of the fishermen of the
fiords; it brings in the fog from the sea, and the fogs of the Arctic
Circle are no trifling enemy.  If Nipen really had the charge of the
winds, he could not more emphatically show his displeasure towards any
unhappy boatman than by overtaking him with the west wind and fog.

"The wind must have just changed," said Oddo, pulling exhausting
strokes, as the fog marched towards them over the water, like a solid
and immeasurably lofty wall.  "The wind must have gone right round in a
minute."

"To be sure, since you said what you did of Nipen," replied Erica
bitterly.

Oddo made no answer; but he did what he could.  Erica had to tell him
not to wear himself out too quickly, as there was no saying now how
long they should be on the water.

How long they had been on the water, how far they had deviated from
their right course, they could not at all tell, when, at last more by
accident than skill, they touched the shore near home, and heard
friendly voices, and saw the light of torches-through the thick air.
The fog had wrapped them round so that they could not even see the
water, or each other.  They had rowed mechanically, sometimes touching
the rock, sometimes grazing upon the sand, but never knowing where they
were till the ringing of a bell, which they recognised as the farm
bell, roused hope in their hearts, and strengthened them to throw off
the fatal drowsiness caused by cold and fatigue.  They made towards the
bell; and then heard Peder's shouts, and next saw the dull light of two
torches which looked as if they could not burn in the fog.  The old man
lent a strong hand to pull up the boat upon the beach, and to lift out
the benumbed rowers; and they were presently revived by having their
limbs chafed, and by a strong dose of the universal
medicine--corn-brandy and camphor--which, in Norway, neither man nor
woman, young nor old, sick nor well, thinks of refusing upon occasion.

When Erica was in bed, warm beneath an eider-down coverlid, her
mistress bent over her and whispered--

"You saw and heard Hund himself?"

"Hund himself, madame."

"What shall we do if he comes back before my husband is home from the
bear-hunt?"

"If he comes, it will be in fear and penitence, thinking that all the
powers are against him.  But oh, madame, let him never know how it
really was!"

"Leave that to me, and go to sleep now, Erica.  You ought to rest well;
for there is no saying what you and Oddo have saved us from.  I could
not have asked such a service.  My husband and I must see how we can
reward it."  And her kind and grateful mistress kissed Erica's cheek,
though Erica tried to explain that she was thinking most of some one
else, when she undertook this expedition.


Great was Stiorna's consternation at Hund's non-appearance the next
day, seeing us she did with her own eyes that the boat was safe in its
proper place.  She saw that no one wished him back.  He was rarely
spoken of, and then it was with dislike or fear; and when she wept over
the idea of his being drowned, or carried off by hostile spirits, the
only comfort offered her was that she need not fear his being dead, or
that he could not come back if he chose.  She was indeed obliged to
suppose, at last, that it was his choice to keep away; for amidst the
flying rumours that amused the inhabitants of the district for the rest
of the winter--rumours of the movements of the pirate vessel, and of
the pranks of the spirits of the region--there were some such clear
notices of the appearance of Hund, so many eyes had seen him in one
place or another, by land and water, by day and night, that Stiorna
could not doubt of his being alive, and free to come home or stay away
as he pleased.  She could not conceal from herself that he had probably
joined the pirates.

Erlingsen and Rolf came home sooner than might reasonably have been
expected, and well laden with bears' flesh.  The whole family of bears
had been found and shot.

[Illustration: He sometimes hammered at his skiff.]

Erlingsen kept a keen and constant look-out upon the fiord.  His wife's
account of the adventures of the day of his absence made him anxious;
and he never went a mile out of sight of home, so vivid in his
imagination was the vision of his house burning, and his family at the
mercy of pirates.

So came on and passed away the spring of this year at Erlingsen's farm.
It soon passed, for spring in Nordland lasts only a month.  About the
bridges which spanned the falls were little groups of the peasants
gathered, mending such as had burst with the floods, or strengthening
such as did not seem secure enough for the passage of the herds to the
mountain.

During the one busy month of spring, a slight shade of sadness was
thrown over the household within by the decline of old Ulla.  It was
hardly sadness, it was little more than gravity; for Ulla herself was
glad to go.  Peder knew that he should soon follow, and every one else
was reconciled to one who had suffered so long going to her rest.

One day Rolf led Erica to the grave when they knew that no one was
there.

"Now," he said, "you know what she who lies there would like us to be
settling.  She herself said her burial-day would soon be over, and then
would come our wedding-day."

"When everything is ready," replied Erica, "we will fix; but not now.
There is much to be done--there are many uncertainties."

"What uncertainties?  It is often an uncertainty to me, Erica, after
all that has happened, whether you mean to marry me at all.  There are
so many doubts, and so many considerations, and so many fears!"

Erica quietly observed that they had enemies--one deadly enemy not very
far off, if nothing were to be said of any but human foes.  Rolf
declared that he had rather have Hund for a declared enemy than for a
companion.  Erica understood this very well, but she could not forget
that Hund wanted to be houseman in Rolf's stead, and that he desired to
prevent their marriage.

"That is the very reason," said Rolf, "why we should marry as soon as
we can.  Why not fix the day, and engage the pastor while he is here?"

"Because it would hurt Peder's feelings.  There will be no difficulty
in sending for the pastor when everything is ready.  But now, Rolf,
that all may go well, do promise not to run into needless danger."

"According to you," said Rolf, smiling, "one can never get out of
danger.  Where is the use of taking care, if all the powers of earth
and air are against us?"

"I am not speaking of Nipen now--(not because I do not think of it)--I
am speaking of Hund.  Do promise me not to go more than four miles down
the fiord.  After that, there is a long stretch of precipices, without
a single dwelling.  There is not a boat that could put off, there is
not an eye or an ear that could bear witness what had become of you if
you and Hund should meet there."

"I will promise you not to go farther down, while alone, than Vogel
islet, unless it is quite certain that Hund and the pirates are far
enough off in another direction.  I partly think as you do, and as
Erlingsen does, that they meant to come for me the night you carried
off their boat; so I will be on the watch, and go no farther than where
they cannot hurt me."

"Then why say Vogel islet?  It is out of all reasonable distance."

"Not to those who know the fiord as I do.  I have my reasons, Erica,
for fixing that distance and no other; and that far I intend to go,
whether my friends think me able to take care of myself or not."

"At least," pleaded Erica, "let me go with you."

"Not for the world, my love."  And Erica saw, by his look of horror at
the idea of her going, that he felt anything but secure from the
pirates.  He took her hand, and kissed it again and again, as he said
that there was plenty for that little hand to do at home, instead of
pulling the oar in the hot sun.  "I shall think of you all while I am
fishing," he went on.  "I shall fancy you making ready for the
seater.[2]  How happy we shall be, Erica, when we once get to the
seater!"



[2] The mountain pasture belonging to a farm is called its seater.



Erica sighed, and pressed her lover's hand as he held hers.


Who was ever happier than Rolf, when abroad in his skiff, on one of the
most glorious days of the year!  He found his angling tolerably
successful near home; but the farther he went the more the herrings
abounded, and he therefore dropped down the fiord with the tide,
fishing as he receded, till all home objects had disappeared.  When he
came to the narrow part of the fiord, near the creek which had been the
scene of Erica's exploit, Rolf laid aside his rod, with the bright hook
that herrings so much admire, to guide his canoe through the currents
caused by the approach of the rocks and contraction of the passage; and
he then wished he had brought Erica with him, so lovely was the scene.
Here and there a clump of dark pines overhung some busy cataract,
which, itself overshadowed, sent forth its little clouds of spray,
dancing and glittering in the sunlight.  A pair of fishing eagles were
perched on a high ledge of rock, screaming to the echoes.  On went
Rolf, beyond the bounds of prudence, as many have done before him.  He
soon found himself in a still and somewhat dreary region, where there
was no motion but of the sea-birds, and of the air which appeared to
quiver before the eye, from the evaporation caused by the heat of the
sun.  Leisurely and softly did Rolf cast his net; and then steadily did
he draw it in, so rich in fish, that when they lay in the bottom of the
boat, they at once sank it deeper in the water, and checked its speed
by their weight.

Rolf then rested awhile.  There lay Vogel islet looming in the heated
atmosphere.  He was roused at length by a shout, and looked towards the
point from which it came; and there, in a little harbour of the fiord,
a recess which now actually lay behind him--between him and home--lay a
vessel; and that vessel he knew, by a second glance, was the
pirate-schooner.

Of the schooner itself he had no fear, for there was so little wind
that it could not have come out in time to annoy him; but there was the
schooner's boat, with five men in it--four rowing and one
steering--already in full pursuit of him.  He knew, by the general air
and native dress of the man at the helm, that it was Hund; and he
fancied he heard Hund's malicious voice in the shout which came rushing
over the water from their boat to his.  How fast they seemed to be
coming!  How the spray from their oars glittered in the sun; and how
their wake lengthened with every stroke!  No spectator from the shore
(if there had been any) could have doubted that the boat was in pursuit
of the skiff, and would snap it up presently.  Rolf saw that he had
five determined foes, gaining upon him every instant; and yet he was
not alarmed.  He had had his reasons for thinking himself safe near
Vogel islet; and, calculating for a moment the time of the tide, he was
quite at his ease.  As he took his oars he smiled at the hot haste of
his pursuers, and at the thought of the amazement they would feel when
he slipped through their fingers; and then he began to row.

Rolf did not over-heat himself with too much exertion.  He permitted
his foes to gain a little upon him.

When very near the islet, however, he became more active, and his skiff
disappeared behind its southern point while the enemy's boat was still
two furlongs off.  The steersman looked for the reappearance of the
canoe beyond the islet; but he looked in vain.  He thought, and his
companions agreed with him, that it was foolish of Rolf to land upon
the islet, where they could lay hands on him in a moment; but they
could only suppose he had done this, and prepared to do the same.  They
rowed quite round the islet; but, to their amazement, they could not
only perceive no place to land at, but there was no trace of the canoe.
It seemed to them as if those calm and clear waters had swallowed up
the skiff and Rolf, in a few minutes after they had lost sight of him.
Hund thought the case was accounted for, when he recalled Nipen's
displeasure.

The rowers wondered, questioned, uttered shouts, spoke all together,
and then looked at Hund in silence, struck by his countenance; and
finished by rowing two or three times round the islet, slowly, and
looking up its bare rocky sides, which rose like walls from the water;
but nothing could they see or hear.  When tired of their fruitless
search they returned to the schooner, ready to report to the master
that the fiord was enchanted.

Meantime, Rolf had heard every splash of their oars, and every tone of
their voices, as they rowed round his place of refuge.  He was not on
the islet, but in it.  This was such an island as Swein, the sea-king
of former days, took refuge in; and Rolf was only following his
example.  Long before, he had discovered a curious cleft in the rock,
very narrow, and all but invisible at high water, even if a bush of
dwarf ash and birch had not hung down over it.  At high water, nothing
larger than a bird could go in and out beneath the low arch; but there
was a cavern within, whose sandy floor sloped up to some distance above
high-water mark.  In this cavern was Rolf.  He had thrust his little
skiff between the walls of rock, crushing in its sides as he did so.
The bushes drooped behind him, hanging naturally over the entrance as
before.  Rolf pulled up his broken vessel upon the little sandy beach
within the cave; saved a pile of his fish, and returned a good many to
the water; and then sat down upon the sea-weeds to listen.  There was
no light but a little which found its way through the bushy screen, and
up from the green water; and the sounds--the tones of the pirates'
voices, and the splash of the waters against the rocky walls of his
singular prison--came deadened and changed to his ear.  Yet he heard
enough to be aware how long his enemies remained, and when they were
really gone.

It was a prison indeed, as Rolf reflected when he looked upon his
broken skiff.  He could not imagine how he was to get away; for his
friends would certainly never think of coming to look for him here; but
he put off the consideration of this point for the present, and turned
away from the image of Erica's distress when he should fail to return.
He amused himself now with imagining Hund's disappointment, and the
reports which would arise from it; and he found this so very
entertaining that he laughed aloud; and then the echo of his laughter
sounded so very merry that it set him laughing again.  This, in its
turn, seemed to rouse the eider-ducks that thronged the island and
their clatter and commotion was so great overhead, that any spectator
might have been excused for believing that Vogel islet was indeed
bewitched.


Rolf turned his boat about and about, and shook his head over every
bruise, hole, or crack that he found, till he finished with a nod of
decision that nothing could be done with it.  He was a good swimmer;
but the nearest point of the shore was so far off that it would be all
he could do to reach it when the waters were in their most favourable
state.  At present, they were so chilled with the melted snows that
were pouring down from every steep along the fiord, that he doubted the
safety of attempting to swim at all.  What chance of release had he
then?

If he could by any means climb upon the rocks, in whose recesses he was
now hidden, he might possibly fall in with some fishing-boat which
would fetch him off; but, besides that the pirates were more likely to
see him than anybody else, he believed there was no way by which he
could climb upon the islet.  It had always been considered the
exclusive property of the aquatic birds with which it swarmed, because
its sides rose so abruptly from the water, so like the smooth stone
walls of a lofty building that there was no hold for foot or hand, and
the summit seemed unattainable by anything that had not wings.  Rolf
remembered, however, having heard Peder say that when he was young,
there might be seen hanging down one part of the precipice the remains
of a birchen ladder, which must have been made and placed there by
human hands.  Rolf determined that he would try the point.  He would
wait till the tide was flowing in, as the waters from the open sea were
somewhat less chilled than when returning from the head of the
fiord:--he would take the waters at their warmest, and try and try
again to make a footing upon the islet.

His cave was really a very pretty place.  The golden light which
blesses the high and low places of the earth did not disdain to cheer
and adorn even this humble chamber, which the waters had patiently
scooped out of the hard rock.  As the sun drew to its setting, near the
middle of the Nordland summer night, it levelled its golden rays
through the cleft, and made the place far more brilliant than at noon.
The beach suddenly appeared of a more dazzling white, and the waters of
a deeper green, while, by their motion, they cast quivering circles of
reflected light upon the roof, which had before been invisible.  Rolf
had supposed, from the pleasant freshness of the air, that the cave was
lofty; and he now saw that the roof did indeed spring up to a vast
height.  He saw also that there was a great deal of driftwood
accumulated; and some of it thrown into such distant corners as to
prove that the waves could dash up to a much higher water-line, in
stormy weather, than he had supposed.  No matter!  He hoped to be gone
before there were any more storms.  Tired and sleepy as he was, so near
midnight, he made an exertion, while there was plenty of light, to
clear away the sea-weeds from a space on the sand where he must
to-morrow make his fire and broil his fish.  The smell of the smallest
quantity of burnt weed would be intolerable in so confined a place; so
he cleared away every sprout of it, and laid some of the drift-wood on
a spot above high-water mark, picking out the driest pieces of firewood
he could find for kindling a flame.

When this was done, he made haste to heap up a bed of fine dry sand in
a corner; and here he lay down as the twilight darkened.  For this one
night he could rest without any very painful thoughts of poor Erica;
for she was prepared for his remaining out till the middle of the next
day, at least.

When he awoke in the morning, the scene was marvellously changed.  His
cave was so dim that he could scarcely distinguish its white floor from
its rocky sides.  The water was low, and the cleft therefore enlarged;
so that he saw at once that now was the time for making his fire--now
when there was the freest access for the air.  Yet he could not help
pausing to admire what he saw.  He could see now a long strip of the
fiord--a perspective of waters and of shores, ending in a lofty peak
still capped with snow, and glittering in the sunlight.  He began to
sing, while rubbing together, with all his might, the dry sticks of fir
with which his fire was to be kindled.  First they smoked, and then, by
a skilful breath of air, they blazed, and set fire to the heap; and by
the time the herrings were ready for broiling, the cave was so filled
with smoke that Rolf's singing was turned to coughing.

Some of the smoke hung in soot on the roof and walls of the cave,
curling up so well at first that Rolf almost thought there must be some
opening in the lofty roof which served as a chimney.  But there was
not; and some of the smoke came down again, issuing at last from the
mouth of the cave.  Rolf observed this; and, seeing the danger of his
place of retreat being thus discovered, he made haste to finish his
cookery, resolving that, if he had to remain here for any length of
time, he would always make his fire in the night.  He presently threw
water over his burning brands, and hoped that nothing had been seen of
the process of preparing his breakfast.

The smoke had been seen, however, and by several people; but in such a
way as to lead to no discovery of the cave.  From the schooner, Hund
kept his eyes fixed on the islet, at every moment he had to spare.
Either he was the murderer of his fellow-servant, or the islet was
bewitched; and if Rolf was under the protection and favour of the
powers of the region, he, Hund, was out of favour, and might expect bad
consequences.  Whichever might be the case, Hund was very uneasy; and
he could think of nothing but the islet, and look no other way.  His
companions had at first joked him about his luck in getting rid of his
enemies; but, being themselves superstitious, they caught the infection
of his gravity, and watched the spot almost as carefully as he.

As their vessel lay higher up in the fiord than the islet, they were on
the opposite side from the crevice, and could not see from whence the
smoke issued.  But they saw it in the form of a light cloud hanging
over the place.  Hund's eyes were fixed upon it, when one of his
comrades touched him on the shoulder.  Hund started.

"You see there," said the man, pointing.

"To be sure I do.  What else was I looking at?"

"Well, what is it?" inquired the man.  "Has your friend got a
visitor--come a great way this morning?  They say the mountain-sprite
travels in mist.  If so, it is now going.  See, there it sails
off--melts away.  It is as like common smoke as anything that ever I
saw.  What say you to taking the boat, and trying again whether there
is no place where your friend might not land, and be now making a fire
among the birds' nests?"

"Nonsense!" cried Hund.  "What became of the skiff, then?"

"True," said the man; and, shaking his head, he passed on, and spoke to
the master.

In his own secret mind, the master of the schooner did not quite like
his present situation.  After hearing the words dropped by his crew, he
did not relish being stationed between the bewitched islet and the head
of the fiord, where all the residents were, of course, enemies.  As
there was now a light wind, enough to take his vessel down, he gave
orders accordingly.

Slowly, and at some distance, the schooner passed the islet, and all on
board crowded together to see what they could see.  None saw anything
remarkable; but all heard something.  There was a faint muffled sound
of knocks--blows such as were never heard in a mere haunt of sea-birds.
It was evident that the birds were disturbed by it.  They rose and
fell, made short flights and came back again, fluttered, and sometimes
screamed.  But if they were quiet for a minute, the knock, knock, was
heard again, with great regularity, and every knock went to Hund's
heart.

The fact was that, after breakfast, Rolf soon became tired of having
nothing to do.  The water was so very cold that he deferred till noon
the attempt to swim round the islet.  He thought he had better try to
mend his little craft than do nothing.  After collecting from the wood
in the cave all the nails that happened to be sticking in it, and all
the pieces that were sound enough to patch a boat with, he made a stone
serve him for a hammer, straightened his nails upon another stone, and
tried to fasten on a piece of wood over a hole.  It was discouraging
work enough; but it helped to pass the hours till the restless waters
reached their highest mark in the cave, when he knew that it was noon,
and time for his little expedition.

It was too cold by far for safe swimming.  All the snows of Sulitelma
could hardly have made the waters more chilly to the swimmer than they
felt at the first plunge.  But Rolf would not retreat for this reason.
He thought of the sunshine outside, and of the free open view he should
enjoy, dived beneath the almost closed entrance, and came up on the
other side.  The first thing he saw was the schooner, now lying below
his island, and the next thing was a small boat between him and it,
evidently making towards him.  When convinced that Hund was one of the
three men in it, he saw that he must go back, or make haste to finish
his expedition.  He made haste, swam round so close as to touch the
warm rock in many places, and could not discover, any more than before,
any trace of a footing by which a man might climb to the summit.  There
was a crevice or two, however, from which vegetation hung, still left
unsearched.  He could not search them now, for he must make haste home.

The boat was indeed so near when he had reached the point he set out
from, that he used every effort to conceal himself; and it seemed that
he could only have escaped by the eyes of his enemies being fixed on
the summit of the rock.  When once more in the cave he rather enjoyed
hearing them come nearer and nearer, so that the bushes which hung down
between him and them shook with the wind of their oars, and dipped into
the waves.  He laughed silently when he heard one of them swear that he
would not leave the spot till he had seen something, upon which another
rebuked his presumption.  Presently a voice, which he knew to be
Hund's, called upon his name, at first gently, and then more and more
loudly, as if taking courage at not being answered.

"I will wait till he rounds the point," thought Rolf, "and then give
him such an answer as may send a guilty man away quicker than he came."

He waited till they were on the opposite side, so that his voice might
appear to come from the summit of the islet, and then began with the
melancholy sound used to lure the plover on the moors.  The men in the
boat instantly observed that this was the same sound used when
Erlingsen's boat was spirited away from them.  It was rather singular
that Rolf and Oddo should have used the same sound; but they probably
chose it as the most mournful they knew.  Rolf moaned louder and
louder, till the sound resembled the bellowing of a tormented spirit
enclosed in the rock; and the consequence was, as he had said, that his
enemies retreated faster than they came.

For the next few days Rolf kept a close watch upon the proceedings of
the pirates, and saw enough of their thievery to be able to lay
information against them, if ever he should again make his way to a
town or village, and see the face of a magistrate.  The worst of it was
that the season for boating was nearly at an end.  The inhabitants were
day by day driving their cattle up the mountains, there to remain for
the summer; and the heads of families remained in the farmhouses almost
alone, and little likely to put out so far into the fiord as to pass
near him.  To drive off thoughts of his poor distressed Erica, he
sometimes hammered a little at his skiff; but it was too plain that no
botching that he could perform in the cave would render the broken
craft safe to float in.

One sunny day, when the tide was flowing in warmer than usual, Rolf
amused himself with more evolutions in bathing than he had hitherto
indulged in.  He forgot his troubles and his foes in diving, floating,
and swimming.  As he dashed round a point of a rock, he saw something,
and was certain he was seen.  Hund appeared at least as much bewitched
as the islet itself, for he could not keep away from it.  He seemed
irresistibly drawn to the scene of his guilt and terror.  Here he was
now, with one other man, in the schooner's smallest boat.  Rolf had to
determine in an instant what to do; for they were within a hundred
yards, and Hund's starting eyes showed that he saw what he took for the
ghost of his fellow-servant.  Rolf raised himself as high as he could
out of the water, throwing his arms up above his head, fixed his eyes
on Hund, uttered a shrill cry, and dived, hoping to rise to the surface
at some point out of sight.  Hund looked no more.  After one shriek of
terror and remorse had burst from his white lips, he sank his head upon
his knee and let his comrade take all the trouble of rowing home again.

This vision decided Hund's proceedings.  Half-crazed with remorse, he
left the pirates that night.  After long consideration where to go, he
decided upon returning to Erlingsen's.  He did not know to what extent
they suspected him; he was pretty sure that they held no proofs against
him.  He felt irresistibly drawn towards poor Erica, now that no rival
was there; and if mixed with all these considerations there were some
thoughts of the situation of houseman being vacant, and needing much to
be filled up, it is no wonder that such a mingling of motives took
place in a mind so selfish as Hund's.

Hund performed his journey by night.  He did not for a moment think of
going by the fiord.  Laboriously and diligently therefore he overcame
the difficulties of the path, crossing ravines, wading through swamps,
scaling rocks, leaping across water-courses, and only now and then
throwing himself down on some tempting slope of grass, to wipe his
brows, and to moisten his parched throat with the wild strawberries
which were fast ripening in the sheltered nooks of the hills.  It was
now so near midsummer, and the nights were so fast melting into the
days, that Hund could at the latest scarcely see a star, though there
was not a fleece of cloud in the whole circle of the heavens.  While
yet the sun was sparkling on the fiord, and glittering on every
farmhouse window that fronted the west, all around was as still as if
the deepest darkness had settled down.  Hund knew as he passed one
dwelling after another--knew as well as if he had looked in at the
windows--that the inhabitants were all asleep, even with the sunshine
lying across their very faces.

Every few minutes he observed how his shadow lengthened, and he longed
for the brief twilight which would now soon be coming on.  There were a
few extremely faint stars--a very few--for only the brightest could now
show themselves in the sky where daylight lingered so as never quite to
depart.  A pale green hue remained where the sun had disappeared, and a
deep red glow was even now beginning to kindle where he was soon to
rise.  But man must have rest, be the sun high or sunk beneath the
horizon; so that Hund saw no face, and heard no human voice, before he
found himself standing at the top of the steep rocky pathway which led
down to Erlingsen's abode.

He found everything in a different state from that in which he had left
the place.  The stable-doors stood wide, and there was no trace of
milk-pails.  The hurdles of the fold were piled upon one another in a
corner of the yard.  It was plain that herd, flock, and dairy-women
were gone to the mountain; and though Hund dreaded meeting Erica, it
struck upon his heart to think that she was not here.  He felt now how
much it was for her sake that he had come back.

His eye fell upon the boat which lay gently rocking with the receding
tide in its tiny cove; and he resolved to lie down in it and rest,
while considering what to do next.  He went down, stepping gently over
the pebbles of the beach lest his tread should reach and waken any ear
through the open windows, lay down at the bottom of the boat, and fell
asleep.

Oddo was the first to come forth, to water the one horse that remained
at the farm, and to give a turn and a shake to the two or three little
cocks of hay which had been mown behind the house.  His quick eye noted
the deep marks of a man's feet in the sand and pebbles below high-water
mark proving that some one had been on the premises during the night.
He followed these marks to the boat, where he was amazed to find the
enemy (as he called Hund) fast asleep.  Oddo was in a great hurry to
tell his grandfather (Erlingsen being on the mountain); but he thought
it only proper caution to secure his prize from escaping in his absence.

He summoned his companion, the dog which had warned him of many dangers
abroad, and helped him faithfully with his work at home; and nothing
could be clearer to Skorro than that he was to crouch on the thwarts of
the boat, with his nose close to Hund's face, and not to let Hund stir
till Oddo came back.  Then Oddo ran, and wakened his grandfather, who
made all haste to rise and dress.  Erica now lived in Peder's house.
Hearing Oddo's story, she rushed out, and her voice was soon heard in
passionate entreaty, above the bark of the dog, which was trying to
prevent the prisoner from rising.

"Only tell me," Erica was heard to say, "only tell me where and how he
died.  I know he is dead--I knew he would die; from that terrible night
when we were betrothed.  Tell me who did it--for I am sure you know.
Was it Nipen?  O Hund, speak!  Say only where his body is, and I will
try--I will try never to speak to you again--never to----"

[Illustration: No other than the Mountain-Demon.]

Hund looked miserable; he moved his lips, but no sound was heard
mingling with Erica's rapid speech.

Madame Erlingsen, who, with Orga, had by this time reached the spot,
laid her hand on Erica's arm, to beg for a moment's silence, made Oddo
call his dog out of the boat, and then spoke, in a severe tone, to Hund.

"Why do you shake your head, Hund, and speak no word?  Say what you
know, for the sake of those whom, we grievously suspect, you have
deeply injured.  Say what you know, Hund."

"What I say is, that I do not know," replied Hund in a hoarse and
agitated voice.  "I only know that we live in an enchanted place, here
by this fiord, and that the spirits try to make us answer for their
doings.  The very first night after I went forth, this very boat was
spirited away from me, so that I could not come home.  Nipen had a
spite against me there--to make you all suspect me.  I declare to you
that the boat was gone, in a twinkling, by magic, and I heard the cry
of the spirit that took it."

"What was the cry like?" asked Oddo gravely.

"Where were you, that you were not spirited away with the boat?" asked
his mistress.

"I was tumbled out upon the shore, I don't know how," declared Hund;
"found myself sprawling on a rock, while the creature's cries brought
my heart into my mouth as I lay."

"Alone?  Were you alone?" asked his mistress.

"I had landed the pastor some hours before, madame; and I took nobody
else with me, as Stiorna can tell, for she saw me go."

"Stiorna is at the mountain," observed madame coolly.

"But, Hund," said Oddo, "how did Nipen take hold of you when it laid
you sprawling on the rock?  Neck and heels?  Or did it bid you go and
hearken whether the pirates were coming, and whip away the boat before
you came back?  Are you quite sure that you sprawled on the rock at all
before you ran away from the horrible cry you speak of?  Our rocks are
very slippery when Nipen is at one's heels."

Hund stared at Oddo, and his voice was yet hoarser when he said that he
had long thought that boy was a favourite with Nipen, and he was sure
of it now.

Erica had thrown herself down on the sand hiding her face on her hands,
on the edge of the boat, as if in despair of her misery being attended
to--her questions answered.  Old Peder stood beside her, stroking her
hair tenderly, and he now spoke the things she could not.

"Attend to me, Hund," said Peder, in the grave, quiet tone which every
one regarded.  "Hear my words; and for your own sake answer them.  We
suspect you of being in communication with the pirates yonder; we
suspect that you went to meet them when you refused to go hunting the
bears.  We know that you have long felt ill-will towards Rolf--envy of
him--jealousy of him--and----"

Here Erica looked up, pale as ashes, and said: "Do not question him
further.  There is no truth in his answers.  He spoke falsehood even
now."

Peder knew how Hund shrank under this, and thought the present the
moment to get truth out of him, if he ever could speak it.  He
therefore went on to say--

"We suspect you of having done something to keep your rival out of the
way, in order that you might obtain the house and situation--and
perhaps something else that you wish."

"Have you killed him?" asked Erica abruptly, looking full in his face.

"No," returned Hund firmly.  From his manner everybody believed this
much.

"Do you know that anybody else has killed him?"

"No."

"Do you know whether he is alive or dead?"

To this Hund could, in the confusion of his ideas about Rolf's fate and
condition, fairly say "No;" as also to the question, "Do you know where
he is?"

Then they all cried out--

"Tell us what you do know about him."

"Ay, there you come," said Hund, resuming some courage, and putting on
the appearance of more than he had.  "You load me with foul
accusations, and when you find yourselves all in the wrong, you alter
your tone, and put yourselves under obligation to me for what I will
tell.  I will treat you better than you treat me, and I will tell you
plainly why.  I repent of my feelings towards my fellow-servant, now
that evil has befallen him----"

"What?  Oh, what?" cried Erica.

"He was seen fishing on the fiord in that poor little worn-out skiff.
I myself saw him.  And when I looked next for the skiff, it was gone."

"And where were you?"

"Never mind where I was.  I was about my own business.  And I tell you,
I no more laid a finger on him than any one of you."

"Where was it?"

"Close by Vogel islet."

Erica started, and in one moment's flush of hope told that Rolf had
said he should be safe at any time near Vogel islet.  Hund caught at
her words so eagerly as to make a favourable impression on all, who
saw, what was indeed the truth, that he would have been glad to know
that Rolf was alive.

"I believe some of the things you have told.  I believe that you did
not lay hands on Rolf."

"Bless you!  Bless you for that!" interrupted Hund, almost forgetting
how far he really was guilty.

"Tell me then," proceeded Erica, "how you believe he really perished."

"I believe," whispered Hund, "that the strong hand pulled him
down--down to the bottom."

"I knew it," said Erica, turning away.

"Erica--one word," exclaimed Hund.  "I must stay here--I am very
miserable, and I must stay here and work, and work till I get some
comfort.  But you must tell me how you think of me--you must say that
you do not hate me----"

"I do hate you," said Erica with disgust, as her suspicions of his
wanting to fill Rolf's place were renewed, "I mistrust you, Hund, more
deeply than I can tell."

"Will no penitence change your feelings, Erica?  I tell you I am as
miserable as you."

"That is false, like everything else that you say," cried Erica.  "I
wish you would go--go and seek Rolf under the waters."

Hund shuddered at the thought, as it recalled what he had seen and
heard at the islet.  Erica saw this, and sternly repeated--

"Go and bring back Rolf from the deeps, and then I will cease to hate
you."

As Erica slowly returned into Peder's house, Oddo ran past, and was
there before her.  He closed the door when she had entered, put his
hand within hers, and said--

"Did Rolf really tell you that he should be safe anywhere near Vogel
islet?"

"Yes," sighed Erica, "safe from the pirates.  That was his answer when
I begged him not to go so far down the fiord; but Rolf always had an
answer when one asked him not to go into danger."

"Erica, you went one trip with me, and I know you are brave.  Will you
go another?  Will you go to the islet and see what Rolf could have
meant about being safe there?"

Erica brightened for a moment, and perhaps would have agreed to go; but
Peder came in, and Peder said he knew the islet well, and that it was
universally considered that it was now inaccessible to human foot, and
that that was the reason why the fowl flourished there as they did in
no other place.  Erica must not be permitted to go so far down among
the haunts of the pirates.  Instead of this, her mistress had just
decided that, as there were no present means of getting rid of Hund,
and as Erica could not be expected to remain just now in his presence,
she should set off immediately for the mountain, and request Erlingsen
to come home.

Under Peder's urgency she made up her bundle of clothes, took in her
hand her lure,[3] with which to call home the cattle in the evenings,
bade her mistress farewell privately, and stole away without Hund's
knowledge.



[3] The lure is a wooden trumpet, nearly five feet long, made of two
hollow pieces of birch-wood, bound together throughout the whole length
with slips of willow.  It is used to call the cattle together on a wide
pasture.



Wandering with unwilling steps farther and farther from the spot where
she had last seen Rolf, Erica dashed the tears from her eyes, and
looked behind her at the entrance of a ravine which would hide from her
the fiord and the dwelling she had left.  Thor islet lay like a
fragment of the leafy forest cast into the blue waters, but Vogel islet
could not be seen.  It was not too far down to be seen from an
elevation like this, but it was hidden behind the promontories by which
the fiord was contracted.  She looked behind her no more, but made her
way rapidly through the ravine; the more rapidly because she had seen a
man ascending by the same path at no great distance, and she had little
inclination to be joined by a party of wandering Laplanders, still less
by any neighbour from the fiord who might think civility required that
he should escort her to the seater.  This wayfarer was walking at a
pace so much faster than hers that he would soon pass, and she would
hide among the rocks beside the tarn at the head of the ravine till he
had gone by.

Through the rich pasture Erica waded till she reached the tarn which
fed the stream that gambolled down the ravine.  The death-cold
unfathomed waters lay calm and still under the shelter of the rocks
which nearly surrounded them.

In the shadow of one of these rocks, Erica sank down into the long
grass.  Here she would remain long enough to let the other wayfarer
have a good start up the mountain, and by that time she should be cool
and tranquillised.  She hid her face in the fragrant grass, and did not
look up again till the grief of her soul was stilled.  Then her eye and
her heart were open to the beauty of the place which she had made her
temple of worship, and she gazed around till she saw something that
surprised her.

The traveller, who she had hoped was now some way up the mountain, was
standing on the margin of the tarn, immediately opposite to her.

She sat up, and took her bundle and her lure, believing now that she
must accept the unwelcome civility of an escort for the whole of the
rest of the way, and thinking that she might as well make haste and get
it over.  The man approached and took his seat on the huge stone beside
her, crossed his arms, made no greeting, but looked her full in the
face.

She did not know the face, nor was it like any that she had ever seen.
There was such long hair, and so much beard, that the eyes seemed the
only feature which made any distinct impression.  Erica's heart now
began to beat violently.  Though wishing to be alone, she had not
dreamed of being afraid till now; but now it occurred to her that she
was seeing the rarest of sights--one not seen twice in a century, no
other than the mountain-demon.

She sprang to her feet, and began to wade back through the high grass
to the pathway, almost expecting to be seized by a strong hand and cast
into the unfathomable tarn, whose waters were said to well up from the
centre of the earth.  Her companion, however, merely walked by her
side.  As he did not offer to carry her bundle, he could be no
countryman of hers.

They walked quietly on till the tarn was left some way behind.  Erica
found she was not to die that way.  Presently after, she came in sight
of a settlement of Lapps--a cluster of low and dirty tents, round which
some tame reindeer were feeding.  Erica was not sorry to see these,
though no one knew better than she the helpless cowardice of these
people; and it was not easy to say what assistance they could afford
against the mountain-demon.  Yet they were human beings, and would
appear in answer to a cry.  She involuntarily shifted her lure, to be
ready to utter a call.  The stranger stopped to look at the distant
tents, and Erica went on at the same pace.  He presently overtook her,
and pointed towards the Lapps with an inquiring look.  Erica only
nodded.

"Why you no speak?" growled the stranger in broken language.

"Because I have nothing to say," declared Erica, in the sudden vivacity
inspired by the discovery that this was probably no demon.  Her doubts
were renewed, however, by the next question.

"Is the bishop coming?"

Now, none were supposed to have a deeper interest in the holy bishop's
travels than the evil spirits of any region through which he was to
pass.

"Yes, he is coming," replied Erica.  "Are you afraid of him?"

The stranger burst into a loud laugh at her question: and very like a
mocking fiend he looked, as his thick beard parted to show his wide
mouth, with its two ranges of teeth.  When he finished laughing, he
said, "No, no--we no fear bishop."

"'We!'" repeated Erica to herself.  "He speaks for his tribe as well as
himself."

"We no fear bishop," said the stranger, still laughing.  "You no
fear----" and he pointed to the long stretch of path--the prodigious
ascent before them.

Erica said there was nothing to fear on the mountain for those who did
their duty to the powers, as it was her intention to do.  Her first
Gammel cheese was to be for him whose due it was, and it should be the
best she could make.

This speech she thought would suit, whatever might be the nature of her
companion.  If it was the demon, she could do no more to please him
than promise him his cheese.

Her companion seemed not to understand or attend to what she said.

When Erica saw that she had no demon for a companion, but only a
foreigner, she was so much relieved as not to be afraid at all.

The stranger pointed to the tiny cove in which Erlingsen's farm might
be seen, looking no bigger than an infant's toy, and said--

"Do you leave an enemy there, or is Hund now your friend?"

"Hund is nobody's friend, unless he happens to be yours," Erica
replied, perceiving at once that her companion belonged to the pirates.
"Hund is everybody's enemy; and, above all, he is an enemy to himself.
He is a wretched man."

"The bishop will cure that," said the stranger.  "He is coward enough
to call in the bishop to cure all.  When comes the bishop?"

"Next week."

"What day, and what hour?"

Erica did not choose to gratify so close a curiosity as this.  She did
not reply; and while silent, was not sorry to hear the distant sound of
cattle-bells--and Erlingsen's cattle-bells too.  The stranger did not
seem to notice the sound, even though quickening his pace to suit
Erica's, who pressed on faster when she believed protection was at
hand.  And yet the next thing the stranger said brought her to a full
stop.  He said he thought a part of Hund's business with the bishop
would be to get him to disenchant the fiord, so that boats might not be
spirited away almost before men's eyes, and that a rower and his skiff
might not sink like lead one day, and the man may be heard the second
day, and seen the third, so that there was no satisfactory knowledge as
to whether he was really dead.  Erica stopped, and her eager looks made
the inquiry which her lips could not speak.  Her eagerness put her
companion on his guard, and he would explain no further than by saying
that the fiord was certainly enchanted, and that strange tales were
circulating all round its shores, very striking to a stranger; a
stranger had nothing more to do with the wonders of a country than to
listen to them.  He wanted to turn the conversation back to Hund.
Having found out that he was at Erlingsen's, he next tried to discover
what he had said and done since his arrival.  Erica told the little
there was to tell--that he seemed full of sorrow and remorse.  She told
this in hope of a further explanation about drowned men being seen
alive, but the stranger stopped when the bells were heard again, and a
woman's voice singing, nearer still.  He complimented Erica on her
courage, and turned to go back the way he came, and walked away rapidly.

The only thing now to be done was to run forwards.  Erica forgot heat,
weariness, and the safety of her property, and ran on towards the
singing voice.  In five minutes she found the singer, Frolich, lying
along the ground and picking cloud-berries, with which she was filling
her basket for supper.

"Where is Erlingsen?--quick--quick!" cried Erica.

"My father?  You may just see him with your good eyes--up there."

And Frolich pointed to a patch of verdure on a slope high up the
mountain, where the gazer might just discern that there were haycocks
standing, and two or three moving figures beside them.

"Stiorna is there to-day, besides Jan.  They hope to finish this
evening," said Frolich; "and so here I am, all alone; and I am glad you
have come to help me to have a good supper ready for them.  Their
hunger will beat all my berry-gathering."

"You are alone!" said Erica, discovering that it was well that the
pirate had turned back when he did.  "You alone, and gathering berries,
instead of having an eye on the cattle!"

"But why are your hands empty?" asked Frolich.  "Who is to lend you
clothes?  And what will the cows say to your leaving your lure behind,
when you know they like it so much better than Stiorna's?"

Erica returned for her bundle and lure; and then proceeded to an
eminence where two or three of her cows were grazing, and there sounded
her lure.  She put her whole strength to it, in hope that others
besides the cattle might appear in answer, for she was really anxious
to see her master.

The peculiar and far from musical sounds spread wide over the pastures
and up the slopes, and through the distant woods, so that the cattle of
another seater stood to listen, and her own cows began to move, leaving
the sweetest tufts of grass and rising up from their couches in the
richest herbage, to converge towards the point whence she called.  The
far-off herdsman observed to his fellow that there was a new call among
the pastures; and Erlingsen, on the upland, desired Jan and Stiorna to
finish cocking the hay, and began his descent to his seater, to learn
whether Erica had brought any news from home.

Long before he could appear, Frolich threw herself down at Erica's feet.

"You want news," said Erica, avoiding as usual all conversation about
her superstitions.  "How will it please you that the bishop is coming?"

"Very much, if we had any chance of seeing him.  Very much, whether we
see him or not, if he can give any help--any advice.  My poor Erica, I
do not like to ask; but you have had no good news, I fear."

Erica shook her head.

"I saw that in your face in a moment.  Do not speak about it till you
tell my father.  He may help you, I cannot; so do not tell me anything."

Erica was glad to take her at her word.  She kissed Frolich's hand,
which lay on her knee, in token of thanks, and then inquired whether
any Gammel cheese was made yet.

"No," said Frolich, inwardly sighing for news.  "We have the whey, but
not sweet cream enough till after this evening's milking.  So you are
just in time."

Erica was glad, as she could not otherwise have been sure of the demon
having his due.

"There is your father," said Erica.  "Now do go and gather more
berries, Frolich.  There are not half enough."


It may be supposed that Erlingsen was anxious to be at home when he had
heard Erica's story.  He was not to be detained by any promise of
berries and cream for supper.  He put away the thought even of his hay,
yet unfinished on the upland, and would hear nothing that Frolich had
to say of his fatigue at the end of a long working day.  He took some
provision with him, drank off a glass of corn-brandy, and set off at a
good pace down the mountain.

Scarcely a word was spoken (though the mountain-dairies have the
reputation of being the merriest places in the world), till Erica and
Frolich were about their cheese-making the next morning.  Erica had
rather have kept the cattle; but Frolich so earnestly begged that she
would let Stiorna do that, as she could not destroy the cattle in her
ill-humour, while she might easily spoil the cheese, that Erica put
away her knitting, tied on her apron, tucked up her sleeves, and
prepared for the great work.

"Frolich," said Erica, "is the cream good?"

"Stiorna would say that the demon will smack his lips over it.  Come
and taste."

"Do not speak so, dear."

"I was only quoting Stiorna----"

"What are you saying about me?" inquired Stiorna, appearing at the
door.  "Only talking about the cream and the cheese?  Are you sure of
that?  Bless me! what a smell of the yellow flowers!  It will be a
prime cheese."

"How can you leave the cattle, Stiorna?" cried Erica.  "If they are all
gone when you get back----"

"Well, come then, and see the sight.  I get scolded either way always.
You would have scolded me finely to-night if I had not called you to
see the sight."

"What sight?"

"Why, there is such a procession of boats on the fiord that you would
suppose there were three weddings happening at once."

"What can we do?" exclaimed Frolich, dolefully looking at the cream,
which had reached such a point that the stirring could not cease for a
minute without risk of spoiling the cheese.

Erica took the long wooden spoon from Frolich's hand, and bade her run
and see where the bishop (for no doubt it was the bishop) was going to
land.  The cream should not spoil while she was absent.

Frolich bounded away over the grass, declaring that if it was the
bishop going to her father's, she could not possibly stay on the
mountain for all the cheeses in Nordland.  Erica remained alone,
patiently stirring the cream, and hardly heeding the heat of the fire,
while planning how the bishop would be told her story, and how he would
examine Hund, and perhaps be able to give some news of the pirates, and
certainly be ready with his advice.  Some degree of hope arose within
her as she thought of the esteem in which all Norway held the wisdom
and kindness of the Bishop of Tronyem, and then again she felt it hard
to be absent during the visit of the only person to whom she looked for
comfort.

Frolich returned after a long while to defer her hopes a little.  The
boats had all drawn to shore on the northern side of the fiord, where,
no doubt, the bishop had a visit to pay before proceeding to
Erlingsen's.  The cheese-making might yet be done in time, even if
Frolich should be sent for from home to see and be seen by the good
bishop.


The day after Erica's departure to the dairy, Peder was sitting alone
in his house weaving a frail basket.  He sighed to think how empty and
silent the house appeared.  Erica's light, active step was gone.
Rolf's hearty laugh was silent, perhaps for ever.  Oddo was an inmate
still, but Oddo was much altered of late; and who could wonder?

From the hour of Hund's return, the boy had hardly been heard to speak.
All these thoughts were too melancholy for old Peder; and, to break the
silence, he began to sing as he wove his basket.

He had nearly got through a ballad of a hundred and five stanzas when
he heard a footstep on the floor.

"Oddo, my boy," said he, "surely you are in early.  Can it be
dinner-time yet?"

"No, not this hour," replied Oddo in a low voice, which sank to a
whisper as he said, "I have left Hund laying the troughs to water the
meadow;[4] and if he misses me I don't care.  I could not stay; I could
not help coming; and if he kills me for telling you, he may, for tell
you I must."



[4] The strips of meadow which lie between high rocks in Norway would
be parched by the reflection of the long summer sunshine, and
unproductive, if the inhabitants did not use great industry in the
irrigation of their lands.  They conduct water from the spring-heads by
means of hollow trunks of trees laid end to end, through which water
flows in the directions in which It is wanted, sometimes for an extent
of fifty miles from one spring.



And Oddo went to close and fasten the door; and then he sat down on the
ground, rested his arms on his grandfather's knees, and told his story
in such a low tone that no "little bird" under the eaves could "carry
the matter."

"O grandfather, what a mind that fellow has!  He will go crazy with
horror soon.  I am not sure that he is not crazy now."

"He has murdered Rolf, has he?"

"I can't be sure.  He is like one bewitched, that cannot hold his
tongue.  While I was bringing the troughs, one by one, for him to lay,
where the meadow was driest, he still kept muttering and muttering to
himself.  As often as I came within six yards of him, I heard him
mutter, mutter.  Then when I helped him to lay the troughs, he began to
talk to me.  I was not in the mind to make him many answers; but on he
went, just the same as if I had asked him a hundred questions."

"It was such an opportunity for a curious boy, that I wonder you did
not."

"Perhaps I might, if he had stopped long enough.  But if he stopped for
a moment to wipe his brow (for he was all trembling with the heat), he
began again before I could well speak.  He asked me whether I had ever
heard that drowned men could show their heads above water, and stare
with their eyes, and throw their arms about, a whole day--two days
after they were drowned."

"Ay!  Indeed!  Did he ask that?"

"Yes, and several other things.  He asked whether I had ever heard that
the islets in the fiord were so many prison-houses."

"And what did you say?"

"I wanted him to explain; so I said they were prison-houses to the
eider-ducks when they were sitting, for they never stir a yard from
their nests.  But he did not heed a word I spoke.  He went on about
drowned men being kept prisoners in the islets, moaning because they
can't get out.  And he says they will knock, knock, as if they could
cleave the thick hard rock."

"What do you think of all this, my boy?"

"Why, when I said I had not heard a word of any such thing, even from
my grandmother or Erica, he declared he had heard the moans
himself--moaning and crying; but then he mixed up something about the
barking of wolves that made confusion in the story.  Though he had been
hot just before, there he stood shivering, as if it was winter, as he
stood in the broiling sun.  Then I asked him if he had seen dead men
swim and stare, as he said he had heard them moan and cry."

"And what did he say then?"

"He started bolt upright, as if I had been picking his pocket.  He was
in a passion for a minute, I know, if ever he was in his life.  Then he
tried to laugh as he said what a lot of new stories--stories of
spirits, such stories as people love--he should have to carry home to
the north, whenever he went back to his own place."

"In the north, his own place in the north!  He wanted to mislead you
there, boy.  Hund was born some way to the south."

"No, was he really?  How is one to believe a word he says, except when
he speaks as if he was in his sleep, straight out from his conscience,
I suppose?  He began to talk about the bishop next, wanting to know
when I thought he would come, and whether he was apt to hold private
talk with every sort of person at the houses he stayed at."

"How did you answer him?  You know nothing about the bishop's visits."

[Illustration: At the end of a ledge he found the remains of a ladder
made of birch-poles.]

"So I told him; but, to try him, I said I knew one thing, that a
quantity of fresh fish would be wanted when the bishop comes with his
train, and I asked him whether he would go fishing with me as soon as
we could hear that the bishop was drawing near."

"He would not agree to that, I fancy."

"He asked how far out I thought of going.  Of course I said to Vogel
islet--at least as far as Vogel islet.  Do you know, grandfather, I
thought he would have knocked me down at the word.  He muttered
something, I could not hear what, to get off.  By that time we were
laying the last trough.  I asked him to go for some more; and the
minute he was out of sight I scampered here.  Now, what sort of a mind
do you think this fellow has?"

"Not an easy one, it is plain.  It is too clear also that he thinks
Rolf is drowned."

"But do you think so, grandfather?"

"Do you think so, grandson?"

"Not a bit of it.  Depend upon it, Rolf is all alive, if he is swimming
and staring, and throwing his arms about in the water.  I think I see
him now.  And I will see him, if he is to be seen alive or dead."

"And pray how?"

"I ought to have said, if you will help me.  You say sometimes,
grandfather, that you can pull a good stroke with the oar still, and I
can steer as well as our master himself; and the fiord never was
stiller than it is to-day.  Think what it would be to bring home Rolf,
or some good news of him!  We would have a race up to the seater
afterwards to see who could be the first to tell Erica."

"Gently, gently, boy!  What is Rolf about not to come home, if he is
alive?"

"That we shall learn from him.  Did you hear that he told Erica he
should go as far as Vogel islet, dropping something about being safe
there from pirates and everything?"

Peder really thought there was something in this.  He sent off Oddo to
his work in the little meadow, and himself sought out Madame Erlingsen,
who, having less belief in spirits and enchantments than Peder, was in
proportion more struck with the necessity of seeing whether there was
any meaning in Hund's revelations, lest Rolf should be perishing for
want of help.  The story of his disappearance had spread through the
whole region; and there was not a fisherman on the fiord who had not,
by this time, given an opinion as to how he was drowned.  But madame
was well aware that, if he were only wrecked, there was no sign that he
could make that would not terrify the superstitious minds of the
neighbours, and make them keep aloof, instead of helping him.  In
addition to all this, it was doubtful whether his signals would be seen
by anybody, at a season when every one who could be spared was gone up
to the dairies.

As soon as Hund was gone out after dinner, the old man and his grandson
put off in the boat, carrying a note from Madame Erlingsen to her
neighbours along the fiord, requesting the assistance of one or two
rowers on an occasion which might prove one of life and death.  The
neighbours were obliging; so that the boat was soon in fast career down
the fiord, Oddo full of expectation, and of pride in commanding such an
expedition, and Peder being relieved from all necessity of rowing more
than he liked.

Oddo had found occasionally the truth of a common proverb--he had
easily brought his master's horses to the water, but could not make
them drink.  He now found that he had easily got rowers into the boat,
but that it was impossible to make them row beyond a certain point.  He
had used as much discretion as Peder himself about not revealing the
precise place of their destination; and when Vogel islet came in sight,
the two helpers at once gave him hints to steer so as to keep as near
the shore and as far from the island as possible.  Oddo gravely steered
for the island notwithstanding.  When the men saw that this was his
resolution they shipped their oars, and refused to strike another
stroke, unless one of them might steer.  That island had a bad
reputation, it was betwitched or haunted; and in that direction the men
would not go.  They were willing to do all they could to oblige; they
would row twenty miles without resting with pleasure; but they would
not brave Nipen, nor any other demon, for any consideration.

"How far off is it, Oddo?" asked Peder.

"Two miles, grandfather.  Can you and I manage it by ourselves, think
you?"

"Ay, surely; if we can land these friends of ours.  They will wait
ashore till we call for them again."

"I will leave you my supper, if you will wait for us here, on this
headland," said Oddo to the man.

The men could make no other objection than that they were certain the
boat would never return.  They were very civil--would not accept Oddo's
supper on any account--would remain on the watch--wished their friends
would be persuaded; and, when they found all persuasion in vain,
declared they would bear testimony to Erica, and as long as they should
live, to the bravery of the old man and boy who thus threw away their
lives in search of a comrade who had fallen a victim to Nipen.

Amidst these friendly words, the old man and his grandson put off once
more alone, making straight for the islet.  Of the two Peder was the
greater hero, for he saw the most ground for fear.

"Promise me, Oddo," said he, "not to take advantage of my not seeing.
As sure as you observe anything strange, tell me exactly what you see."

"I will, grandfather.  There is nothing yet but what is so beautiful
that I could not for the life of me find out anything to be afraid of."

Oddo rowed stoutly too for some way, and then he stopped to ask on what
side the remains of a birch ladder used to hang down, as Peder had
often told him.

"On the north side, but there is no use in looking for that, my boy.
That birch ladder must have rotted away with frost and wet long and
long ago."

"It is likely," said Oddo, "but, thinking that some man must have put
it there, I should like to see whether it really is impossible for one
with a strong hand and light foot to mount this wall.  I brought our
longest boat-hook on purpose to try.  Where a ladder hung before, a
foot must have climbed; and if I mount, Rolf may have mounted before
me."

It chilled Peder's heart to remember the aspect of the precipice which
his boy talked of climbing; but he said nothing, feeling that it would
be in vain.  This forbearance touched Oddo's feelings.

"I will run into no folly, trust me," said he.  "I do not forget that
you depend on me for getting home, and that the truth about Nipen and
such things depends for an age to come on our being seen at home again
safe.  But I have a pretty clear notion that Rolf is somewhere on the
top there."

"Suppose you call him, then."

Oddo had much rather catch him.  He pictured to himself the pride and
pleasure of mastering the ascent, the delight of surprising Rolf asleep
in his solitude, and the fun of standing over him to waken him, and
witness his surprise.  He could not give up the attempt to scale the
rock, but he would do it very cautiously.

Slowly and watchfully they passed round the islet, Oddo seeking with
his eye any ledge of the rock on which he might mount.  Pulling off his
shoes that his bare feet might have the better hold, and stripping off
almost all his clothes, for lightness in climbing and perhaps swimming,
he clambered up to more than one promising spot, and then, finding that
further progress was impossible, had to come down again.  At last,
seeing a narrow chasm filled with leafy shrubs, he determined to try
how high he could reach by means of these.  He swung himself up by
means of a bush which grew downwards, having its roots firmly fixed in
a crevice of the rock.  This gave him hold of another, which brought
him in reach of a third, so that, making his way like a squirrel or a
monkey, he found himself hanging at such a height that it seemed easier
to go on than to turn back.  For some time after leaving his
grandfather he had spoken to him, as an assurance of his safety.  When
too far off to speak, he had sung aloud, to save the old man from
fears; and now that he did not feel at all sure whether he should ever
get up or down, he began to whistle cheerily.  He was pleased to hear
it answered from the boat.  The thought of the old man sitting there
alone, and his return wholly depending upon the safety of his
companion, animated Oddo afresh to find a way up the rock.  It looked
to him as like a wall as any other rock about the islet.  There was no
footing where he was looking, that was certain.  So he advanced farther
into the chasm, where the rocks so nearly met that a giant's arm might
have touched the opposite wall.  Here there was promise of release from
his dangerous situation.  At the end of a ledge he saw something like
poles hanging on the rock--some work of human hands, certainly.  Having
scrambled towards them, he found the remains of a ladder made of birch
poles fastened together with thongs of leather.  This ladder had once,
no doubt, hung from top to bottom of the chasm, and its lower part, now
gone, was that ladder of which Peder had often spoken as a proof that
men had been on the island.

With a careful hand Oddo pulled at the ladder, and it did not give way.
He tugged harder, and still it only shook.  He must try it; there was
nothing else to be done.  It was well for him now that he was used to
dangerous climbing--that he had had adventures on the slippery, cracked
glaciers of Sulitelma--and that being on a height, with precipices
below, was no new situation to him.  He climbed, trusting as little as
possible to the ladder, setting his foot in preference on any
projection of the rock, or any root of the smallest shrub.  More than
one pole cracked, more than one fastening gave way, when he had barely
time to shift his weight upon a better support.  He heard his
grandfather's voice calling, and he could not answer.  It disturbed
him, now that his joints were strained, his limbs trembling, and his
mouth parched so that his breath rattled as it came.

He reached the top, however.  He sprang from the edge of the precipice,
unable to look down, threw himself on his face, and panted and
trembled, as if he had never before climbed anything less safe than a
staircase.  Never before, indeed, had he done anything like this.  The
feat was performed--the islet was not to him inaccessible.  This
thought gave him strength.  He sprang to his feet again, and whistled
loud and shrill.  He could imagine the comfort this must be to Peder;
and he whistled more and more merrily till he found himself rested
enough to proceed on his search for Rolf.  He went briskly on his way,
not troubling himself with any thoughts of how he was to get down again.

Never had he seen a place so full of water-birds and their nests.
Their nests strewed all the ground, and they themselves were strutting
and waddling, fluttering and vociferating, in every direction.  They
were perfectly tame, knowing nothing of men, and having had no
experience of disturbance.  The ducks that were leading their broods
allowed Oddo to stroke their feathers, and the drakes looked on,
without taking any offence.

"If Rolf is here," thought Oddo, "he has been living on most amiable
terms with his neighbours."

After an anxious thought or two of Nipen--after a glance or two round
the sky and shores for a sign of wind--Oddo began in earnest his quest
of Rolf.  He called his name gently, then louder.

There was some kind of answer.  Some sound of human voice he heard, he
was certain; but so muffled, so dull, that whence it came he could not
tell.  It might even be his grandfather calling from below.  So he
crossed to quite the verge of the little island, wishing with all his
heart that the birds would be quiet, and cease their civility of all
answering when he spoke.  When quite out of hearing of Peder, Oddo
called again, with scarcely a hope of any result, so plain was it to
his eyes that no one resided on the island.  On its small summit there
was really no intermission of birds' nests--no space where any one had
lain down--no sign of habitation, no vestige of food, dress, or
utensils.  With a saddened heart, therefore, Oddo called again, and
again he was sure there was an answer, though whence and what he could
not make out.

He then sang a part of a chant that he had learnt by Rolf singing it as
he sat carving his share of the new pulpit.  He stopped in the middle,
and presently believed that he heard the air continued, though the
voice seemed so indistinct, and the music so much as if it came from
underground, that Oddo began to recall, with some doubt and fear, the
stories of the enchantment of the place.  It was not long before he
heard a cry from the water below.  Looking over the precipice, he saw
what made him draw back in terror: he saw the very thing Hund had
described--the swimming and staring head of Rolf, and the arms thrown
up in the air.  Not having Hund's conscience, however, and having much
more curiosity, he looked again, and then a third time.

"Are you Rolf, really?" asked he at last.

"Yes, but who are you--Oddo or the demon--up there where nobody can
climb?  Who are you?"

"I will show you.  We will find each other out," thought Oddo, with a
determination to take the leap and ascertain the truth.

He leaped, and struck the water at a sufficient distance from Rolf.
When he came up again, they approached each other, staring, and each
with some doubt as to whether the other was human or a demon.

"Are you really alive, Rolf?" said the one.

"To be sure I am, Oddo," said the other; "but what demon carried you to
the top of that rock, that no man ever climbed?"

Oddo looked mysterious, suddenly resolving to keep his secret for the
present.

"Not that way," said Rolf.  "I have not the strength I had, and I can't
swim round the place now.  I was just resting myself when I heard you
call, and came out to see.  Follow me home."

He turned and began to swim homewards.  Oddo had the strongest
inclination to go with him, to see what would be revealed, but there
were two objections.  His grandfather must be growing anxious, and he
was not perfectly sure yet whether his guide might not be Nipen in
Rolf's likeness about to lead him to some hidden prison.

"Give me your hand, Rolf," said the boy bravely.

It was a real, substantial, warm hand.

"I don't wonder you doubt," said Rolf; "I can't look much like
myself--unshaven, and shrunk, and haggard as my face must be."

Oddo was now quite satisfied; and he told of the boat and his
grandfather.  The boat was scarcely farther off than the cave, and poor
Rolf was almost in extremity for drink.  The water and brandy he
brought with him had been finished nearly two days, and he was
suffering extremely from thirst.  He thought he could reach the boat
and Oddo led the way, bidding him not mind his being without clothes
till they could find him some.

Glad was the old man to hear his boy's call from the water; and his
face lighted up with wonder and pleasure when he heard that Rolf was
not far behind.  He lent a hand to help him into the boat, and asked no
questions till he had given him food and drink.  He reproached himself
for having brought neither camphor nor assafoetida, to administer with
the corn-brandy.  Here was the brandy, however, and some water, and
fish, and bread, and cloud-berries.  Great was the amazement of Peder
and Oddo at Rolf's pushing aside the brandy, and seizing the water.
When he had drained the last drop, he even preferred the cloud-berries
to the brandy.  A transient doubt thence occurred, whether this was
Rolf after all.  Rolf saw it in their faces, and laughed; and when they
had heard his story of what he had suffered from thirst, they were
quite satisfied, and wondered no longer.

He was all impatience to be gone.  It tried him more now to think how
long it would be before Erica could hear of his preservation than to
bear all that had gone before.  Being without clothes, however, it was
necessary to visit the cave, and bring away what was there.  In truth,
Oddo was not sorry for this.  His curiosity about the cave was so great
that he felt it impossible to go home without seeing it; and the
advantage of holding the secret knowledge of such a place was one which
he would not give up.  He seized an oar, gave another to Rolf; and they
were presently off the mouth of the cave.  Peder sighed at their having
to leave him again; but he believed what Rolf said of there being no
danger, and of their remaining close at hand.  One or the other came
popping up beside the boat every minute, with clothes, or net, or
lines, or brandy-flask, and finally with the oars of the poor broken
skiff, being obliged to leave the skiff itself behind.  Rolf did not
forget to bring away whole handfuls of beautiful shells, which he had
amused himself with collecting for Erica.

At last they entered the boat again; and while they were dressing, Oddo
charmed his grandfather with a description of the cave--of the dark,
sounding walls, the lofty roof, and the green tide breaking on the
white sands.  It almost made the listener cool to hear of these things;
but, as Oddo had remarked, the heat had abated.  It was near midnight,
and the sun was going to set.  Their row to the shore would be in the
cool twilight; and then they should take in companions, who, fresh from
rest, would save them the trouble of rowing home.

When all were too tired to talk, and the oars were dipping somewhat
lazily, and the breeze had died away, and the sea-birds were quiet, old
Peder, who appeared to his companions to be asleep, raised his head,
and said--

"I heard a sob.  Are you crying, Oddo?"

"Yes, grandfather."

"What is your grief, my boy?"

"No grief, anything but grief now.  I have felt more grief than you
know of, though, or anybody.  I did not know it fully myself till now."

"Right, my boy; and right to say it out too."

"I don't care now who knows how miserable I have been.  I did not
believe, all the time, that Nipen had anything to do with these
misfortunes----"

"Right, Oddo!" exclaimed Rolf now.

"But I was not quite certain; and how could I say a word against it
when I was the one to provoke Nipen?  Now Rolf is safe, and Erica will
be happy again, and I shall not feel as if everybody's eyes were upon
me, and know that it is only out of kindness that they do not reproach
me as having done all the mischief.  I shall hold up my head again
now--as some may think I have done all along; but I did not, in my own
eyes--no, not in my own eyes, for all these weary days that are gone."

"Well, they are gone now," said Rolf.  "Let them go by and be
forgotten."

"Nay, not forgotten," said Peder.  "How is my boy to learn if he
forgets----"

"Don't fear that for me, grandfather," said Oddo, as the tears still
streamed down his face.  "No fear of that.  I shall not forget these
last days;--no, not as long as I live."

The comrades who were waiting and watching on the point were duly
amazed to see three heads in the boat, on her return; and duly
delighted to find that the third was Rolf--alive and no ghost.  They
asked question upon question, and Rolf answered some fully and truly,
while he showed reserve upon others; and at last, when closely pressed,
he declared himself too much exhausted to talk, and begged permission
to lie down in the bottom of the boat and sleep.  Upon this a long
silence ensued.  It lasted till the farmhouse was in sight at which one
of the rowers was to be landed.  Oddo then exclaimed--

"I wonder what we all have been thinking about.  We have not settled a
single thing about what is to be said and done; and here we are almost
in sight of home, and Hund's cunning eyes."

"I have settled all about it," replied Rolf, raising himself up from
the bottom of the boat, where they all thought he had been sleeping
soundly.  "My mind," said he, "is quite clear.  The first thing I have
decided upon is that I may rely on the honour of our friends here to
say nothing yet.  You have proved your kindness, friends, in coming on
this expedition, but for which I should have died in my hole, like a
superannuated bear in its den.  This is a story that the whole country
will hear of; and our grandchildren will tell it, on winter nights,
when there is talk of the war that brought the pirates on our coasts.
The best way will be for you to set me ashore some way short of home,
and ask Erlingsen to meet me at the Black Tarn.  There cannot be a
quieter place; and I shall be so far on my way to the seater."

"If you will just make a looking-glass of the Black Tarn," said Oddo,
"you will see that you have no business to carry such a face as yours
to the seater.  Erica will die of terror at you for the mountain-demon,
before you can persuade her it is only you."

"I was thinking," observed one of the rowers, who relished the idea of
going down to posterity in a wonderful story, "I was just thinking that
your wisest way will be to take a rest in my bed at Holberg's, without
anybody knowing, and shave yourself with my razor, and dress in my
Sunday clothes, and show yourself to your betrothed in such a trim as
that she will be glad to see you."

"Do so, Rolf," urged Peder.  Everybody said "do so," and agreed that
Erica would suffer far less by remaining five or six hours longer in
her present state of mind, than by seeing her lover look like a ghastly
savage, or perhaps hearing that he was lying by the roadside, dying of
his exertions to reach her.  Rolf tried to laugh at all this; but he
could not contradict it.

All took place as it was settled in the boat.  Before the people on a
neighbour's farm had come in to breakfast, Rolf was snug in bed, with a
large pitcher of whey by the bedside, to quench his still insatiable
thirst.  No one but the neighbours knew of his being there; and he got
away unseen in the afternoon, rested, shaven, and dressed, so as to
look more like himself, though still haggard.  Packing his old clothes
into a bundle, which he carried with a stick over his shoulder, and
laden with nothing else but a few rye-cakes and a flask of the
everlasting corn-brandy, he set forth, thanking his hosts very heartily
for their care, and somewhat mysteriously assuring them that they would
hear something soon, and that meantime they had better not have to be
sought far from home.

As he expected, he met no one whom he knew.  Nine-tenths of the
neighbours were far away on the seaters; and of the small remainder,
almost all were attending the bishop on the opposite shore of the lake.
Rolf shook his head at every deserted farmhouse that he passed,
thinking how the pirates might ransack the dwellings if they should
happen to discover that few inhabitants remained in them but those
whose limbs were too old to climb the mountain.  He shook his head
again when he thought what consternation he might spread through these
dwellings by dropping at the doors the news of how near the pirate
schooner lay.  It seemed to be out of the people's minds now, because
it was out of sight, and the bishop had become visible instead.  As for
the security which some talked of from there being so little worth
taking in the Nordland farmhouses--this might be true if only one house
was to be attacked, and that one defended; but half-a-dozen ruffians,
coming ashore to search eight or ten undefended houses in a day, might
gather enough booty to pay them for their trouble.  Of money they would
find little or none; but in some families there were gold chains,
crosses, and earrings, which had come down from a remote generation; or
silver goblets and tankards.  There were goats worth carrying away for
their milk, and spirited horses and their harness to sell at a
distance.  There were stores of the finest bed and table linen in the
world, sacks of flour, cellars full of ale, kegs of brandy, and a mass
of tobacco in every house.  Fervently did Rolf wish, as he passed by
these comfortable dwellings, that the enemy would cast no eye or
thought upon their comforts till he should have given such information
in the proper quarters as should deprive them of the power of doing
mischief in this neighbourhood.

The breeze blew in his face, refreshing him with its coolness, and with
the fragrance of the birch, with which it was loaded.  But it brought
something else--a transient sound which surprised Rolf--voices of men,
who seemed, if he could judge from so rapid a hint, to be talking
angrily.  He began to consider whom, besides Oddo, Elringsen could have
thought it safe or necessary to bring with him, or whether it was
somebody met with by chance.  At all events, it would be wisest not to
show himself, and to approach with all possible caution.  Cautiously,
therefore, he drew near, keeping a vigilant watch all around, and ready
to pop down into the grass on any alarm.  Being unable to see anyone
near the tarn, he was convinced the talkers must be seated under the
crags on its margin; and he therefore made a circuit to get behind the
rocks, and then climbed a huge fragment, which seemed to have been
toppled down from some steep, and to have rolled to the brink of the
water.  Two stunted pines grew out from the summit of this crag; and
between these pines Rolf placed himself, and looked down from thence.

Two men sat on the ground in the shadow of the rock.  One was Hund, and
the other must undoubtedly be one of the pirate crew.  His dress, arms,
and broken language all showed him to be so; and it was, in fact, the
same man that Erica had met near the same place, though that she had
had such an adventure was the last thing her lover dreamed of as he
surveyed the man's figure from above.

This man appeared surly.  Hund was extremely agitated.

"It is very hard," said he, "when all I want is to do no harm to
anybody--neither to my old friends nor my new acquaintances--that I
cannot be let alone.  I have done too much mischief in my life already.
The demons have made sport of me.  It is their sport that I have as
many lives to answer for as any man of twice my age in Nordland; and
now that I would be harmless for the rest of my days----"

"Don't trouble yourself to talk about your days," interrupted the
pirate, "they will be too few to be worth speaking of, if you do not
put yourself under our orders again.  You are a deserter--and as a
deserter you go back with me, unless you choose to go as a comrade."

"And what might I expect that your orders would be, if I went with you?"

"You know very well that we want you for a guide.  That is all you are
worth.  In a fight, you would only be in the way--unless indeed you
could contrive to get out of the way."

"Then you would not expect me to fight against my master and his
people?"

"Nobody was ever so foolish as to expect you to fight, more or less, I
should think.  No, your business would be to pilot us to Erlingsen's,
and answer truly all our questions about their ways and doings."

"Surprise them in their sleep!" muttered Hund.  "Wake them up with the
light of their own burning roofs!  And they would know me by that
light!  They would point me out to the bishop;--they would find time in
their hurry to mark me for the monster they might well think me!"

"Yes; you would be in the front, of course," observed the pirate.  "But
there is one comfort for you--if you are so earnest to see the bishop,
as you told me you were, my plan is the best.  When once we lock him
down on board our schooner, you can have him all to yourself.  You can
confess your sins to him the whole day long; for nobody else will want
a word with either of you.  You can show him your enchanted island,
down in the fiord, and see if he can lay the ghost for you."

[Illustration: In desperation Hund, unarmed as he was, threw himself
upon the pirate.]

Hund sprang to his feet in an agony of passion.  The well-armed pirate
was up as soon as he.  Rolf drew back two paces, to be out of sight, if
by chance they should look up, and armed himself with a heavy stone.
He heard the pirate say--

"You can try to run away, if you like; I shall shoot you through the
head before you have gone five yards.  And you may refuse to return
with me; and then I shall know how to report of you to my captain.  I
shall tell him that you are lying at the bottom of this lake--if it has
a bottom--with a stone tied round your neck, like a drowned wild cat.
I hope you may chance to find your enemy there, to make the place the
pleasanter."

Rolf could not resist the impulse to send his heavy stone into the
middle of the tarn, to see the effect upon the men below.  He gave a
good cast, on the very instant; and prodigious was the splash, as the
stone hit the water, precisely in the middle of the little lake.  The
men did not see the cause of the commotion that followed; but, staring
and turning at the splash, they saw the rings spreading in the dark
waters which had lain as still as the heavens but a moment before.  How
could two guilty, superstitious men doubt that the waters were thrown
into agitation by the pirate's last words?  Yet they glanced fearfully
round the whole landscape, far and near.  They saw no living thing but
a hawk which, startled from its perch on a scathed pine was wheeling
round in the air in an unsteady flight.  The pirate pointed to the bird
with one hand, while he laid the other on the pistol in his belt.

"Yes," said Hund, trembling, "the bird saw it.  Did you see it?"

"See what?"

"The water-sprite, Uldra.  Before you throw me in to the water-sprite,
we will see which is the strongest."

And in desperation Hund, unarmed as he was, threw himself upon the
pirate, sprang at his throat, and both wrestled with all their force.
Rolf could not but look; and he saw that the pirate had drawn forth his
pistol, and that all would be over with Hund in a moment if he did not
interfere.  He stood forward between the two pine stems, on the ridge
of the rock, and uttered very loud the mournful cry which had so
terrified his enemies at Vogel islet.  The combatants flew asunder, as
if parted by a flash of lightning.  Both looked up to the point whence
the sound had come; and there they saw what they supposed to be Rolf's
spectre, pointing at them, and the eyes staring as when looking up from
the waters of the fiord.  How could these guilty and superstitious men
doubt that it was Rolf's spectre, which, rising through the centre of
the tarn, had caused the late commotion in its waters?  Away they
fled--at first in different directions; but it amused Rolf to observe
that rather than be alone, Hund turned to follow the track of the
tyrant, who had just been threatening and insulting him, and driving
him to struggle for his life.

"Ay," thought Rolf, "it is his conscience that makes me so much more
terrible to him than that ruffian.  I never hurt a hair of his head;
and yet, through his conscience, my face is worse than the blasting
lightning to his eyes.  Heigh-ho!  Where is Erlingsen?  It is nothing
short of cruel to keep me waiting to-day, of all days; and in this
spot, of all places--almost within sight of the seater where my poor
Erica sits pining, and seeing nothing of the pastures, but only, with
her minds' eye, the sea-caves where she thinks these limbs are
stretched, cold and helpless, as in a grave.  A pretty story I shall
have to tell her, if she will only believe it, of another sort of
sea-cave."

To pass the time he took out the shells he had collected for Erica, and
admired them afresh, and planned where she would place them, so as best
to adorn their sitting-room, when they were married.  Erlingsen arrived
before he had been thus engaged five minutes; and indeed before he had
been more than a quarter of an hour altogether at the place of meeting.

"My dear master!" exclaimed Rolf, on seeing him coming, "have pity on
Erica and me, and hear what I have to tell you, that I may be gone."

"You shall be gone at once, my good fellow!  I will walk with you, and
you shall tell your story as we go."

Rolf shook his head, and objected that he could not, in conscience,
take Erlingsen a step further from home than was necessary, as he was
only too much wanted there.

"Is that Oddo yonder?" he asked.  "He said you would bring him."

"Yes; he has grown trustworthy of late.  We have had fewer heads and
hands among us than the times require since Peder grew old and blind,
and you were missing, and Hund had to be watched instead of trusted.
So we have been obliged to make a man of Oddo, though he has the years
of a boy, and the curiosity of a woman.  I brought him now, thinking
that a messenger might be wanted to raise the country against the
pirates; and I believe Oddo, in his present mood, will be as sure as we
know he can be swift."

"It is well we have a messenger.  Where is the bishop?"

"Just going to his boat, at this moment, I doubt not," replied
Erlingsen, measuring with his eye the length of the shadows.  "The
bishop is to sup with us this evening."

"And how long to stay?"

"Over to-morrow night, at the least.  If many of the neighbours should
bring their business to him, it may be longer.  My little Frolich will
be vexed that he should come while she is absent.  Indeed I should not
much wonder if she sets out homeward when she hears the news you will
carry, so that we shall see her at breakfast."

"It is more likely," observed Rolf, "that we shall see the bishop up
the mountain at breakfast.  Ah! you stare; but you will find I am not
out of my wits when you hear what has come to my knowledge since we
parted, and especially within this hour."

Erlingsen was indeed presently convinced that it was the intention of
the pirates to carry off the Bishop of Tronyem, in order that his
ransom might make up to them for the poverty of the coasts.  He heard
besides such an ample detail of the plundering practices which Rolf had
witnessed from his retreat as convinced him that the strangers, though
in great force, must be prevented by a vigorous effort from doing
further mischief.  The first thing to be done was to place the bishop
in safety on the mountain; and the next was so to raise the country as
that these pirates should be certainly taken when they should come
within reach.

Oddo was called, and entrusted with the information which had to be
conveyed to the magistrate at Saltdalen.  He carried his master's
tobacco-pouch as a token--this pouch, of Lapland make, being well known
to the magistrate as Erlingsen's.  Oddo was to tell him of the danger
of the bishop, and to request him to send to the spot whatever force
could be mustered at Saltdalen; and moreover to issue the budstick,[5]
to raise the country.  The pirates having once entered the upper reach
of the fiord, might thus be prevented from ever going back again, and
from annoying any more the neighbourhood which they had so long
infested.



[5] When it is desired to send a summons or other message over a
district in Norway where the dwellings are scattered, the budstick is
sent round by running messengers.  It is a stick made hollow, to hold
the magistrate's order, and a screw at one end to secure the paper in
its place.  Each messenger runs a certain distance, and then delivers
it to another, who must carry it forward.  If any one is absent, the
budstick must be laid upon the "housefather's great chair, by the
fireside;" and if the house is locked, it must be fastened outside the
door, so as to be seen as soon as the host returns.  Upon great
occasions, it was formerly found that a whole region could be raised in
a very short time.  The method is still in use for appointments on
public business.



Erlingsen promised to be wary on his return homewards, so as not to
fall in with the two whom Rolf had put to flight.  He said, however,
that if by chance he should cross their path, he did not doubt he could
also make them run, by acting the ghost or demon, though he had not had
Rolf's advantage of disappearing in the fiord before their eyes.  They
were already terrified enough to fly from anything that called itself a
ghost.

The three then went on their several ways--Oddo speeding over the
ridges like a sprite on a night errand, and Rolf striding up the grassy
slopes like (what he was) a lover anxious to be beside his betrothed
after a perilous absence.


This was the day when the first cheese of the season was found to be
perfect and complete.  Frolich, Stiorna, and Erica examined it
carefully, and pronounced it a well-pressed, excellent Gammel cheese,
such as they should not be ashamed to set before the bishop, and
therefore one which ought to satisfy the demon.  It now only remained
to carry it to its destination--to the ridge where the first cheese of
the season was always laid for the demon, and where, it appeared, he
regularly came for his offering, as no vestige of the gift was ever to
be found the next morning--only the round place in the grass where it
had lain, and the marks of some feet which had trodden the herbage.

"Help me up with it upon my head, Stiorna," said Erica.

"I know why you will not let me carry the cheese," said Frolich,
smiling.  "You are thinking of Oddo with the cake and ale.  Nobody but
you must deposit offerings henceforward.  You are afraid I should eat
up that cheese, almost as heavy as myself.  You think there would not
be a paring left for the demon by the time I got to the ridge."

"Not so," replied Erica.  "I think that he to whom this cheese is
destined had rather be served by one who does not laugh at him.  And it
is a safer plan for you, Frolich."

And off went Erica with her cheese.

The ridge on which she laid it would have tempted her at any other time
to sit down.  It was green and soft with mosses, and offered as
comfortable a couch to one tired with the labours of the day as any to
be found at the farm.  But to-night it was to be haunted; so Erica
merely stayed to do her duty.  She selected the softest tuft of moss on
which to lay the cheese, put her offering reverently down, and then
diligently gathered the brightest blossoms from the herbage around, and
strewed them over the cheese.  She then walked rapidly homewards,
without once looking behind her.  If she had had the curiosity and
courage to watch for a little while, she would have seen her offering
carried off by an odd little figure, with nothing very terrible in its
appearance--namely, a woman about four feet high, with a flat face, and
eyes wide apart, wearing a reindeer garment like a waggoner's frock, a
red comforter about her neck, a red cloth cap on her head, a blue
worsted sash, and leather boots up to the knee--in short, such a
Lapland girl as Erica would have given a rye-cake to as charity, but
would not have thought of asking to sit down even in her master's
kitchen; for the Norwegian servants are very high and saucy towards the
Laps who wander to their doors.  It is not surprising that the Lapps,
who pitch their tents on the mountain, should like having a fine Gammel
cheese for the trouble of picking it up; and the company whose tents
Erica had passed on her way up to the seater, kept a good look-out upon
all the dairy people round, and carried off every cheese meant for the
demon.  While Erica was gathering and strewing the blossoms, this girl
was hidden near; and trusting to Erica's not looking behind her, the
rogue swept off the blossoms, and threw them at her before she had gone
ten yards, trundled the cheese down the other side of the ridge, made a
circuit, and was at the tents with her prize before supper-time.  What
would Erica have thought if she had beheld this fruit of so many
milkings and skimmings, so much boiling and pressing, devoured by
greedy Lapps in their dirty tent?

On her way homewards Erica remembered that this was Midsummer Eve--a
season when her mother was in her thoughts more than at any other time;
for Midsummer Eve is sacred in Norway to the wood-demon, whose victim
she believed her mother to have been.  Every woodman sticks his axe
into a tree that night, that the demon may, if he pleases, begin the
work of the year by felling trees or making a faggot.  Erica hastened
to the seater, to discover whether Erlingsen had left his axe behind,
and whether Jan had one with him.

Jan had an axe, and remembering his duty, though tired and sleepy, was
just going to the nearest pine-grove with it when Erica reached home.
She seized Erlingsen's axe and went also, and stuck it in a tree, just
within the verge of the grove, which was in that part a thicket, from
the growth of underwood.  This thicket was so near the back of the
dairy that the two were home in five minutes.  Yet they found Frolich
almost as impatient as if they had been gone an hour.  She asked
whether their heathen worship was done at last, so that all might go to
bed; or whether they were to be kept awake till midnight by more
mummery?

Erica replied by showing that Jan was already gone to his loft over the
shed, and begging leave to comb and curl Frolich's hair, and see her to
rest at once.  Stiorna was asleep; and Erica herself meant to watch the
cattle this night.  They lay crouched in the grass, all near each
other, and within view, in the mild slanting sunshine; and here she
intended to sit, on the bench outside the home-shed, and keep her eye
on them till morning.

"You are thinking of the Bishop of Tronyem's cattle," said Frolich.

"I am, dear.  This is Midsummer Eve, you know, when, as we think, all
the spirits love to be abroad."

"You will die before your time, Erica," said the weary girl.  "These
spirits give you no rest of body or mind.  What a day's work we have
done!  And now you are going to watch till twelve, one, two o'clock!  I
could not keep awake," she said, yawning, "if there was one demon at
the head of the bed, and another at the foot, and the underground
people running like mice all over the floor."

"Then go and sleep, dear.  I will fetch your comb, if you will just
keep an eye on the cattle for the moment I am gone."

As Erica combed Frolich's long fair hair, and admired its shine in the
sunlight, and twisted it up behind, and curled it on each side, the
weary girl leaned her head against her, and dropped asleep.  When all
was done, she just opened her eyes to find her way to bed, and say--

"You may as well go to bed comfortably; for you will certainly drop
asleep here, if you don't there."

"Not with my pretty Spiel in sight.  I would not lose my white heifer
for seven nights' sleep.  You will thank me when you find your cow, and
all the rest, safe in the morning.  Good-night, dear."

And Erica closed the door after her young mistress, and sat down on the
bench outside, with her face towards the sun, her lure by her side, and
her knitting in her hands.  She was glad that the herd lay so that by
keeping her eye on them she could watch that wonder of Midsummer night
within the Arctic Circle, the dipping of the sun below the horizon, to
appear again immediately.  She had never been far enough to the north
to see the sun complete its circle without disappearing at all; but she
did not wish it.  She thought the softening of the light which she was
about to witness, and the speedy renewing of day, more wonderful and
beautiful.

She sat, soothed by her employment and by the tranquillity of the
scene, and free from fear.  She had done her duty by the spirits of the
mountain and the wood; and in case of the appearance of any object that
she did not like, she could slip into the house in an instant.  Her
thoughts were therefore wholly Rolf's.  She could endure now to
contemplate a long life spent in doing honour to his memory by the
industrious discharge of duty.  She would watch over Peder, and receive
his last breath--an office which should have been Rolf's.  She would
see another houseman arrive, and take possession of that house, and
become betrothed, and marry; and no one, not even her watchful mistress
should see a trace of repining in her countenance, or hear a tone of
bitterness from her lips.  However weary her heart might be, she would
dance at every wedding--of fellow-servant or of young mistress.  She
would cloud nobody's happiness, but would do all she could to make
Rolf's memory pleasant to those who had known him, and wished him well.

Her eyes rested on the lovely scene before her.  From the elevation at
which she was, it appeared as if the ocean swelled up into the very
sky, so high was the horizon line; and between lay a vast region of
rock and river, hill and dale, forest, fiord, and town, part in golden
sunlight, part in deep shadow, but all, though bright as the skies
could make it, silent as became the hour.  As Erica found that she
could glance at the sun itself without losing sight of the cattle,
which still lay within her indirect vision, she carefully watched the
descent of the orb, anxious to observe precisely when it should
disappear, and how soon its golden spark would kindle up again from the
waves.  When its lower rim was just touching the waters, its circle
seemed to be of an enormous size, and its whole mass to be flaming.
Its appearance was very unlike that of the comparatively small,
compact, brilliant luminary which rides the sky at noon.  Erica was
just thinking so, when a rustle in the thicket, within the pine grove,
made her involuntarily turn her head in that direction.  Instantly
remembering that it was a common device of the underground people for
one of them to make the watcher look away, in order that others might
drive off the cattle, she resumed her duty, and gazed steadfastly at
the herd.  They were safe--neither reduced to the size of mice, nor
wandering off, though she had let her eye glance away from them.

The sky, however, did not look itself.  There were two suns in it.  Now
Erica really did quite forget the herd for some time, even her dear
white heifer--while she stared bewildered at the spectacle before her
eyes.  There was one sun, the sun she had always known--half sunk in
the sea, while above it hung another, round and complete, somewhat less
bright perhaps, but as distinct and plain before her eyes as any object
in heaven or earth had ever been.  Her work dropped from her hands, as
she covered her eyes for a moment.  She started to her feet, and then
looked again.  It was still there, though the lower sun was almost
gone.  As she stood gazing, she once more heard the rustle in the wood.
Though it crossed her mind that the wood-demon was doubtless there
making choice of his axe and his tree, she could not move, and had not
even a wish to take refuge in the house, so wonderful was his
spectacle--the clearest instance of enchantment she had ever seen.  Was
it meant for good--a token that the coming year was to be a doubly
bright one?  If not, how was she to understand it?

"Erica!" cried a voice at this moment from the wood--a voice which
thrilled her whole frame.  "My Erica!"

She not only looked towards the wood now, but sprang forwards; but her
eyes were so dazzled by having gazed at the sun that she could see
nothing.  Then she remembered how many forms the cunning demon could
assume, and she turned back thinking how cruel it was to delude her
with her lover's voice, when instead of his form she should doubtless
see some horrid monster.  She turned in haste, and laid her hand on the
latch of the door, glancing once more at the horizon.

There was now no sun at all.  The burnish was gone from every point of
the landscape, and a mild twilight reigned.

One good omen had vanished; but there was still enchantment around, for
again she heard the thrilling "Erica!"

There was no huge beast glaring through the pine stems, and trampling
down the thicket; but instead, there was the figure of a man advancing
from the shadow into the pasture.  "Why do you take that form?" said
the trembling girl, sinking down on the bench.  "I had rather have seen
you as a bear.  Did you not find the axe?  I laid it for you.
Pray--pray, come no nearer."

"I must, my love, to show you that it is your own Rolf.  Erica, do not
let your superstition come for ever between us."

She held out her arms--she could not rise, though she strove to do so.
Rolf sat beside her--she felt his kisses on her forehead--she felt his
heart beat--she felt that not even a spirit could assume the very tones
of that voice.

"Do forgive me," she murmured; "but it is Mid-summer Eve, and I felt so
sure----"

"As sure of my being the demon as I am sure there is no cruel spirit
here, though it is Midsummer Eve.  Look, love! see how the day smiles
upon us!"

And he pointed to where a golden star seemed to kindle on the edge of
the sea.  It was the sun again, rising after its few minutes of absence.

"I saw two just now," cried Erica--"two suns.  Where are we, really?
And how is all this?  And where do you come from?"

And she gazed, still wistfully, doubtfully, in her lover's face.

"I will show you," said he, smiling.  And while he still held her with
one arm, lest in some sudden fancy she should fly him as a ghost, he
used the other hand to empty his pockets of the beautiful shells he had
brought, tossing them into her lap.

"Did you ever see such, Erica?  I have been where they lie in heaps.
Did you ever see such beauties?"

"I never did, Rolf; you have been at the bottom of the sea."

And once more she shrank from what she took for the grasp of a drowned
man.

"Not to the bottom, love," replied he, still clasping her hand.  "Our
fiord is deep, perhaps as deep as they say.  I dived as deep as a man
may to come up with the breath in his body, but I could never find the
bottom.  Did I not tell you that I should go down as far as Vogel
island, and that I should there be safe?"

"Yes!  You did--you did!"

"Well!  I went to Vogel island, and here I am safe!"

"It is you!  We are together again!" she exclaimed, now in full belief.
"Thank God!  Thank God!"  And she wept upon his shoulder.

They did not heed the time, as they talked and talked; and Rolf was
just telling how he had more than once seen a double sun without
finding any remarkable consequences follow, when Stiorna came forth
with her milk pails just before four o'clock.  She started and dropped
one of her pails when she saw who was sitting on the bench, and Erica
started no less at the thought of how completely she had forgotten the
cattle and the underground people all this time.  The herd was all
safe, however--every cow as large as life, and looking exactly like
itself, so that the good fortune of this Midsummer Eve had been perfect.

The appearance of Stiorna reminded the lovers that it was time to begin
the business of the morning.  They startled Stiorna with the news that
a large company was coming to breakfast.  Being in no very amiable
temper towards happy lovers, she refused after a moment's thought to
believe what they said, and sat down sulking to her task of milking.
So Rolf proceeded to rouse Jan, and Erica stepped to Frolich's bedside,
and waked her with a kiss.

"Erica!  No, can it be?" said the active girl, up in a moment.  "You
look too happy to be Erica."

"Erica never was so happy before, dear, that is the reason.  You were
right, Frolich--bless your kind heart for it!  Rolf was not dead.  He
is here."

Frolich gallopaded round the room, like one crazy, before proceeding to
dress.

"Whenever you like to stop," said Erica, laughing, "I have some good
news for you too."

"I am to go and see the bishop!" cried Frolich, clapping her hands, and
whirling round on one foot like an opera-dancer.

"Not so, Frolich."

"There now! you promise me good news, and then you won't let me go and
see the bishop when you know that is the only thing in the world I want
or wish for!"

"Would it not be a great compliment to you, and save you a great deal
of trouble, if the bishop were to come here to see you?"

"Ah! that would be a pretty sight!  The Bishop of Tronyem over the
ankles in the sodden, trodden pasture--sticking in the mud of
Sulitelma!  The Bishop of Tronyem sleeping upon hay in the loft, and
eating his dinner off a wooden platter!  That would be the most
wonderful sight that Nordland ever saw."

"Prepare, then, to see the Bishop of Tronyem drink his morning coffee
out of a wooden bowl.  Meantime, I must go and grind his coffee.
Seriously, Frolich, you must make haste to dress and help.  The pirates
want to carry off the bishop for ransom.  Erlingsen is raising the
country.  Hund is coming here as a prisoner, and the bishop, and my
mistress, and Orga, to be safe; and if you do not help me I shall have
nothing ready, for Stiorna does not like the news."

Never had Frolich dressed more quickly.  She thought it very hard that
the bishop should see her when she had nothing but her dairy dress to
wear, but she was ready all the sooner for this.  Erica consoled her
with her belief that the bishop was the last person who could be
supposed to make a point of a silk gown for a mountain maiden.

A consultation about the arrangements was held before the door by the
four who were in a good humour, for Stiorna remained aloof.  This, like
other mountain dwellings, was a mere sleeping and eating shed, only
calculated for a bare shelter at night, at meals, and from occasional
rain.  There was no apartment at the seater in which the bishop could
hold an audience, out of the way of the cooking and other household
transactions.  It could not be expected of him to sit on the bench
outside, or on the grass, like the people of the establishment; for,
unaccustomed as he was to spend his days in the open air, his eyes
would be blinded, and his face blistered by the sun.  The young people
cast their eyes on the pine wood as the fittest summer parlour for him,
if it could be provided with seats.

Erica sprang forward to prevent any one from entering the wood till she
should have seen what state the place was in on this particular
morning.  No trees had been felled, and no branches cut since the night
before, and the axes remained where they had been hung.  The demon had
not wanted them, it seemed, and there was no fear of intruding upon him
now.  So the two young men set to work to raise a semicircular range of
turf seats in the pleasantest part of the shady grove.  The central
seat, which was raised above the rest, and had a foot-stool, was well
cushioned with dry and soft moss, and the rough bark was cut from the
trunk of the tree against which it was built, so that the stem served
as a comfortable back to the chair.  Rolf tried the seat when finished,
and as he leaned back, feasting his eyes on the vast sunny landscape
which was to be seen between the trees of the grove, he declared that
it was infinitely better to sit here than in the bishop's stall in
Tronyem Cathedral.

All being done now for which a strong man was wanted, Rolf declared
that he and Jan must be gone to the farm.  Not a man could be spared
from the shores of the fiord till the affairs of the pirates should be
settled.  Erica ought to have expected to hear this, but her cheek grew
white as it was told.  She spoke no word of objection, however, seeing
plainly what her lover's duty was.

She turned towards the dairy when he was gone, instead of indulging
herself with watching him down the mountain.  She was busy skimming
bowl after bowl of rich milk, when Frolich ran in to say that Stiorna
had dressed herself, and put up her bundle, and was setting forth
homewards to see, as she said, the truth of things there--which meant,
of course, to learn Hund's condition and prospects.  It was now
necessary to tell her that she would presently see Hund brought up to
the seater a prisoner, and that the farm was no place for any but
fighting men this day.  To save her feelings and temper, Erica asked
her to watch the herd, leading them to a point whence she could soonest
see the expected company mounting the uplands.

[Illustration: It was Hund, with his feet tied under his horse, and the
bridle held by a man on each side.]

Presently there were voices heard from the hill above.  Some traveller
who had met the budstick had reported the proceedings below, and the
news had spread to a northern seater.  The men had gone down to the
fiord, and here were the women with above a gallon of strawberries,
fresh gathered, and a score of plovers' eggs.  Next appeared a pony,
coming westward over the pasture, laden with panniers containing a
tender kid, a packet of spices, a jar of preserved cherries, and a few
of the present season, early ripe, and a stone bottle of ant vinegar.
Frolich's spirits rose higher and higher, as more people came from
below, sent by Rolf on his way down.  A deputation of Lapps came from
the tents, bringing reindeer venison, and half of a fine Gammel cheese.
Before Erica had had time to pour out a glass of corn-brandy for each
of this dwarfish party, in token of thanks, and because it is
considered unlucky to send away Lapps without a treat, other mountain
dwellers came with offerings of various wild fowl, so that the dresser
was loaded with game enough to feed half a hundred hungry men.

Erica and Frolich returned to their breakfast-table, to make the new
arrangements now necessary, and place the fruit, and spices.  Erica
closely examined the piece of Gammel cheese brought by the Lapps, and
then, with glowing cheeks, called Frolich to her.

"What now?" said Frolich.  "Have you found a way of telling fortunes
with the hard cheese, as some pretend to do with the soft curds?"

"Look here," said Erica.  "What stamp is this?  The cheese has been
scraped--almost pared, you see, but they have left one little corner.
And whose stamp is there?"

"Ours," said Frolich coolly.  "This is the cheese you laid out on the
ridge last night."

"I believe it.  I see it," exclaimed Erica.

"Now, dear Erica, do not let us have the old story of your being
frightened about what the demon will say and do.  Nobody but you will
be surprised that the Lapps help themselves with good things that lie
strewing the ground."

To Frolich's delight and surprise she appeared too busy--or was rather,
perhaps, too happy--to lament this mischance, as she would formerly
have done.  Just when a youth from the highest pasture on Sulitelma had
come running and panting, to present Frolich with a handful of fringed
pinks and blue gentian, plucked from the very edge of the glacier, so
that their colours were reflected in the ice, Stiorna appeared in haste
to tell that a party on horseback and on foot were winding out of the
ravine, and coming straight up over the pasture.  All was now
certainty, and great was the bustle to put out of sight all unseemly
tokens of preparation.  In the midst of the hurry Frolich found time to
twist some of her pretty flowers into her pretty hair, so that it might
easily chance that the bishop would not miss her silk gown.

The bishop's reputation preceded him, as is usual in such cases.  As
his horse, followed by those which bore the ladies, reached the house
door, all present cried--

"Welcome to the mountain!"  "Welcome to Sulitelma!"

The bishop observed that, often as he had wished to look abroad from
Sulitelma, and to see with his own eyes what life at the seaters was
like, he should have grown old without the desire being gratified but
for the design of the enemy upon him.  It was all he could do to go the
rounds of his diocese, from station to station below, without thinking
of journeys of pleasure.  Yet here he was on Sulitelma!

When he and M. Kollsen and the ladies had dismounted, and were entering
the house to breakfast, the gazers found leisure to observe the
hindmost of the train of riders.  It was Hund, with his feet tied under
his horse, and the bridle held by a man on each side.  He had seen and
heard too much of the preparations against the enemy to be allowed to
remain below, or at large anywhere, till the attack should be over.  He
could not dismount till some one untied his legs; and no one would do
that till a safe place could be found in which to confine him.  It was
an awkward situation enough, sitting there bound before everybody's
eyes; and not the less for Stiorna's leaning her head against the
horse, and crying at seeing him so treated; and yet Hund had often been
seen, on small occasions, to look far more black and miserable.  His
face now was almost cheerful.  Stiorna praised this as a sign of
bravery; but the truth was, the party had been met by Rolf and Jan
going down the mountain.  It was no longer possible to take Rolf for a
ghost; and though Hund was as far as possible from understanding the
matter, he was unspeakably relieved to find that he had not the death
of his rival to answer for.  It made his countenance almost gay to
think of this, even while stared at by men, women, and children as a
prisoner.

"What is it?" whimpered Stiorna--"what are you a prisoner for, Hund?"

"Ask them that know," said Hund.  "I thought at first that it was on
Rolf's account; and now that they see with their own eyes that Rolf is
safe they best know what they have to bring against me."

"It is no secret," said Madame Erlingsen.  "Hund was seen with the
pirates, acting with and assisting them, when they committed various
acts of thievery on the shores of the fiord.  If the pirates are taken,
Hund will be tried with them for robberies at There's, Kyril's, Tank's,
and other places along the shore, about which information has been
given by a witness."

"There's, Kyril's, and Tank's!" repeated Hund to himself; "then there
must be magic in the case.  I could have sworn that not an eye on earth
witnessed the doings there.  If Rolf turns out to be the witness, I
shall be certain that he has the powers of the region to help him."

So little is robbery to be dreaded at the seaters, that there really
was no place where Hund could be fastened in--no lock upon any
door--not a window from which he might not escape.  The zealous
neighbours, therefore, whose interest it was to detain him, offered to
take it in turn to be beside him, his right arm tied to the left of
another man.  And thus it was settled.


When the bishop came forth in the afternoon to take his seat in the
shade of the wood, those who were there assembled were singing _For
Norgé_.  Instead of permitting them to stop, on account of his arrival,
he joined in the song; solely because his heart was in it.  As he
looked around him, and saw deep shades and sunny uplands, blue glaciers
above, green pastures and glittering waters below, and all around,
herds on every hillside, he felt his love of old Norway, and his
thankfulness for being one of her sons, as warm as that of any one of
the singers in the wood.  Out of the fulness of his heart, the good
bishop addressed his companions on the goodness of God in creating such
a land, and placing them in it, with their happiness so far in their
own hands as that little worthy of being called evil could befall them,
except through faults of their own.  M. Kollsen, who had before uttered
his complaints of the superstition of his flock, hoped that his bishop
was now about to attack the mischief vigorously.

The bishop only took his seat--the mossy seat prepared for him--and
declared himself to be now at the service of any who wished to consult
or converse with him.  Instead of thrusting his own opinions and
reproofs upon them, as it was M. Kollsen's wont to do, he waited for
the people to open their minds to him in their own way; and by this
means, whatever he found occasion to say had double influence from
coming naturally.  The words dropped by him that day were not forgotten
through long years after; and he was quoted half a century after he had
been in his grave, as old Ulla had quoted the good Bishop of Tronyem of
her day.

In a few hours, many of the people were gone for the present, some
being wanted at home, and others for the expected affair on the fiord.
The bishop and M. Kollsen had thought themselves alone in their shady
retreat, when they saw Erica lingering near among the trees.  With a
kind smile, the bishop beckoned to her, and bade her sit down, and tell
him whether he had not been right in promising a while ago that God
would soothe her sorrows with time, as is the plan of His kind
providence.  He remembered well the story of the death of her mother.
Erica replied that not only had her grief been soothed, but that she
was now so blessed that her heart was burdened with its gratitude.

"I wish," said Erica, with a sigh--"I do wish I knew what to think
about Nipen."

"Ay! here it comes," observed M. Kollsen, folding his arms as if for an
argument.

Encouraged by the bishop, Erica told the whole story of the last few
months, from the night of Oddo's prank to that which found her at the
feet of her friend; for she cast herself down at the bishop's feet,
sitting as she had done in her childhood, looking up in his face.

"You want to know what I think of all this?" said the bishop, when she
had done.  "I think that you could hardly help believing as you have
believed, amidst these strange circumstances, and with your mind full
of the common accounts of Nipen.  Yet I do not believe there is any
such spirit as Nipen, or any demon in the forest, or on the mountain.

"This is one of the many tales belonging to the old religion of this
country.  And how did this old religion arise?  Why, the people saw
grand spectacles every day, and heard wonders whichever way they
turned; and they supposed that the whole universe was alive.  The sun
as it travelled they thought was alive, and kind and good to men.  The
tempest they thought was alive, and angry with men.  The fire and frost
they thought were alive, pleased to make sport with them."

"As people who ought to know better," observed M. Kollsen, "now think
the wind is alive, and call it Nipen; or the mist of the lake and
river, which they call the sprite Uldra."

"It is true," said the bishop, "that we now have better knowledge, and
see that the earth, and all that is in it, is made and moved by one
Good Spirit, who, instead of sporting with men, or being angry with
them, rules all things for their good.  But I am not surprised that
some of the old stories remain, and are believed in still, and by good
and dutiful Christians too.  The mother sings the old songs over the
cradle, and the child hears tell of sprites and demons before it hears
of the good God, who 'sends forth the snow and rain, the hail and
vapour, and the stormy winds fulfilling His word.'  And when the child
is grown to be a man or woman, the northern lights shooting over the
sky, and the sighing of the winds in the pine forest, bring back those
old songs and old thoughts about demons and sprites, and the stoutest
man trembles.  I do not wonder, nor do I blame any man or woman for
this, though I wish they were as happy as the weakest infant or the
most worn-out old man, who has learned from the gentle Jesus to fear
nothing at any time, because His Father was with Him."

Erica hid her face, ashamed under the good man's smile.

"In our towns," continued he, "much of this blessed change is already
wrought.  No one in my city of Tronyem now fears the angry and cunning
fire-giant Loke; but every citizen closes his eyes in peace when he
hears the midnight cry of the watch, 'Except the Lord keepeth the city,
the watchman waketh but in vain.'[6]  In the wilds of the country every
man's faith will hereafter be his watchman, crying out upon all that
happens, 'It is the Lord's hand: let Him do what seemeth to Him good!'
This might have been said, Erica, as it appears to me, at every turn of
your story, where you and your friends were not in fault."



[6] The watchman's call in the towns of Norway.



"Oh!" exclaimed Erica, dropping her hands from before her glowing face,
"if I dared but think there were no bad spirits; if I dared only hope
that everything that happens is done by God's own hand, I could bear
everything!  I would never be afraid again!"

"It is what I believe," said the bishop.  Laying his hand on her head,
he continued--

"We know that the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  I see that
you are weary of your fears; that you have long been heavy laden with
anxiety.  It is you, then, that He invites to trust Him, when He says
by the lips of Jesus, 'Come ye that are weary and heavy-laden and I
will give you rest.'"

"Rest; rest is what I have wanted," said Erica, while her tears flowed
gently; "but Peder and Ulla did not believe as you do, and could not
explain things; and----"

"You should have asked me," said M. Kollsen; "I could have explained
everything."

"Perhaps so, sir; but--but, M. Kollsen, you always seemed angry, and
you said you despised us for believing anything that you did not; and
it is the most difficult thing in the world to ask questions which one
knows will be despised."

M. Kollsen glanced in the bishop's face, to see how he took this, and
how he meant to support the pastor's authority.  The bishop looked sad,
and said nothing.

"And then," continued Erica, "there were others who laughed--even Rolf
himself laughed; and what one fears becomes only the more terrible when
it is laughed at."

"Very true," said the bishop.  "When Jesus sat on the well in Samaria,
and taught how the true worship was come, He neither frowned on the
woman who inquired, nor despised her, nor made light of her
superstition about a sacred mountain."

There was a long silence, which was broken at last by Erica asking the
bishop whether he could not console poor Hund, who wanted comfort more
than she had ever done.  The bishop replied, that the demons who most
tormented poor Hund were not abroad on the earth or in the air, but
within his breast--his remorse, his envy, his covetousness, his fear.
He meant not to lose sight of poor Hund, either in the prison, to which
he was to travel to-morrow, or after he should come out of it.

Here Frolich appeared, running to ask whether those who were in the
grove would not like to look forth from the ridge, and see what good
the budstick had done, and how many parties were on their way, from all
quarters, to the farm.

M. Kollsen was glad to rise and escape from what he thought a
schooling; and the bishop himself was as interested in what was going
on as if the farm had been his home.  He was actually the first at the
ridge.

This part of the mountain was a singularly favourable situation for
seeing what was doing on the spot on which every one's attention was
fixed this day.  While the people on the fiord could not see what was
going forward at Saltdalen, nor those at Saltdalen what were the
movements at the farm, the watchers on the ridge could observe the
proceedings at all the three points.  The opportunity was much improved
by the bishop having a glass--a glass of a quality so rare at that time
that there would probably have been some talk of magic and charms if it
had been seen in any hands but the bishop's.

By means of this glass the bishop, M. Kollsen, or Madame Erlingsen
announced from time to time what was doing as the evening advanced--how
parties of two or three were leaving Saltdalen, creeping towards the
farm under cover of rising grounds, rocks, and pine woods; how small
companies, well armed, were hidden in every place of concealment near
Erlingsen's, and how there seemed to be a great number of women about
the place.  This was puzzling.  Who these women could be, and why they
should choose to resort to the farm when its female inhabitants had
left it for safety, it was difficult at first to imagine.  But the
truth soon occurred to Frolich.  No doubt some one had remembered how
strange and suspicious it would appear to the pirates, who supposed the
bishop to be at the farm, that there should be no women in the company
assembled to meet him.  No doubt these people in blue, white, and green
petticoats, who were striding about the yards, and looking forth from
the galleries, were men dressed in their wives' clothes, or in such as
Erlingsen furnished from the family chests.  This disguise was as good
as an ambush while it also served to give the place the festive
appearance looked for by the enemy.  It was found afterwards that Oddo
had acted as lady's-maid, fitting the gowns to the shortest men, and
dressing up their heads so as best to hide the shaggy hair.  Great
numbers were certainly assembled before night; yet still a little group
might be seen now and then winding down from some recess of the
wide-spreading mountain, making circuits by the ravines and
water-courses, so as to avoid crossing the upland slopes, which the
pirates might be surveying by means of such a glass as the bishop's.

The bishop was of opinion that scarcely a blow would be struck, so
great was the country force compared with that of the pirates.  He
believed that the enemy would be overpowered and disarmed almost
without a struggle.  Erica, who could not but tremble with fear as well
as expectation, blessed his words in her heart, and so, in truth, did
every woman present.

No one thought of going to rest, though Madame Erlingsen urged it upon
those over whom she had influence.  Finding that Erica had sat up to
watch the cattle the night before, she compelled her to go and lie
down, but no compulsion could make her sleep; and Orga and Frolich did
the best they could for her, by running to her with news of any fresh
appearance below.  Just after midnight they brought her word that the
bishop had ordered every one but M. Kollsen away from the ridge.  The
schooner had peeped out from behind the promontory, and was stealing up
with a soft west wind.

The girls went on to describe how the schooner was working up, and why
the bishop thought that the people at the farm were aware of every inch
of her progress.

Erica sprang from the bed, and joined the group who were sitting on the
grass awaiting the sunrise, and eagerly listening for every word from
their watchman, the bishop.  He told when he saw two boats, full of
men, put off from the schooner, and creep towards Erlingsen's cove
under the shadow of the rocks.  He told how the country people
immediately gathered behind the barn and the house, and every
outbuilding; and, at length, when the boats touched the shore, he said--

"Now come and look yourselves.  They are too busy now to be observing
us."

Then how eyes were strained, and what silence there was, broken only by
an occasional exclamation, as it became certain that the decisive
moment was come!  The glass passed rapidly from hand to hand, but it
revealed little.  There was smoke, covering a struggling crowd; and
such gazers as had a husband, a father, or a lover there, could look no
longer.  The bishop himself did not attempt to comfort them, at a
moment when he knew it would be in vain.

In the midst of all this, some one observed two boats appearing from
behind the promontory, and making directly and rapidly for the
schooner; and presently there was a little smoke there too, only a puff
or two, and then all was quiet till she began to hang out her sails,
which had been taken in, and to glide over the waters in the direction
of a small sandy beach, on which she ran straight up, till she was
evidently fast grounded.

"Excellent!" exclaimed M. Kollsen.  "How admirably they are conducting
the whole affair!  The retreat of these fellows is completely cut
off--their vessel taken, and driven ashore, while they are busy
elsewhere."

"That is Oddo's doings," observed Orga quietly.

"Oddo's doings!  How do you know?  Are you serious?  Can you see?  Or
did you hear?"

"I was by when Oddo told his plan to my father, and begged to be
allowed to take the schooner.  My father laughed so that I thought Oddo
would be for going over to the enemy."

"No fear of that," said Erica.  "Oddo has a brave, faithful heart."

"And," said his mistress, "a conscience and temper which will keep him
meek and patient till he has atoned for mischief that he thinks he has
done."

"I must see more of this boy," observed the bishop.  "Did your father
grant his request?" he inquired of Orga.

"At last he did.  Oddo said that a young boy could do little good in
the fight at the farm; but that he might lead a party to attack the
schooner, in the absence of almost all her crew.  He said it was no
more than a boy might do, with half-a-dozen lads to help him; for he
had reason to feel sure that only just hands enough to manage her would
be left on board, and those the weakest of the pirate party.  My father
said there were men to spare, and he put twelve, well armed, under
Oddo's orders."

"Who would submit to be under Oddo's command?" asked Frolich, laughing
at the idea.

"Twice twelve, if he had wanted so many," replied Orga.  "Between the
goodness of the joke and their zeal, there were volunteers in
plenty--my father told me, as he was putting me on my horse."

In a very few minutes all signs of fighting were over at the farm.  But
there was a fire.  The barn was seen to smoke and then to flame.  It
was plain that the neighbours were at liberty to attend to the fire,
and had no fighting on their hands.  They were seen to form a line from
the burning barn to the brink of the water, and to hand buckets till
the fire was out.  The barn had been nearly empty, and the fire did not
spread farther; so that Madame Erlingsen herself did not spend one
grudging thought on this small sacrifice, in return for their
deliverance from the enemy, who, she had feared, would ransack her
dwelling, and fire it over her children's heads.  She was satisfied and
thankful, if indeed the pirates were taken.

At the bishop's question about who would go down the mountain for news,
each of Hund's guards begged to be the man.  The swiftest of foot was
chosen, and off he went--not without a barley-cake and brandy-flask--at
a pace which promised speedy tidings.

As Madame Erlingsen hoped in her heart, he met a messenger despatched
by her husband; so that all who had lain down to sleep--all but
herself, that is--were greeted by good news as they appeared at the
breakfast-table.  The pirates were all taken, and on their way, bound,
to Saltdalen, there to be examined by the magistrate, and, no doubt,
thence transferred to the jail at Tronyem.  Hund was to follow
immediately, either to take his trial with them, or to appear as
evidence against them.

One of the pirates was wounded, and two of the country people, but not
a life was lost; and Erlingsen, Rolf, Peder, and Oddo were all safe and
unhurt.

Oddo was superintending the unlading of the schooner, and was appointed
by the magistrate, at his master's desire, head guard of the property,
as it lay on the beach, till the necessary evidence of its having been
stolen by the pirates was taken, and the owners could be permitted to
identify and resume their property.  Oddo was certainly the greatest
man concerned in the affair, after Erlingsen.  When it was finished,
and he returned to his home, he found he cared more for the pressure of
his grandfather's hand upon his head, as the old man blessed his boy,
than for all the praises of the whole country round.

An idea occurred to everybody but one, within the next few hours, which
occasioned some consultation.  Everybody but Erica felt and said that
it would be a great honour and privilege, but one not undeserved by the
district, for the Bishop of Tronyem to marry Rolf and Erica before he
left Nordland.  The bishop wished to make some acknowledgment for the
zealous protection and hospitality which had been afforded him; and he
soon found that no act would be so generally acceptable as his blessing
the union of these young people.  He spoke to Madame Erlingsen about
it, and her only doubt was whether it was not too soon after the burial
of old Ulla.  If Peder, however, should not object on this ground, no
one else had a right to do so.

So far from objecting, Peder shed tears of pleasure at the thought.  He
was sure Ulla would be delighted, if she knew--would feel it an honour
to herself that her place should be filled by one whose marriage-crown
should be blessed by the bishop himself.  Erica was startled, and had
several good reasons to give why there should be no hurry; but she was
brought round to see that Rolf could go to Tronyem to give his evidence
against the pirates, even better after his marriage than before,
because he would leave Peder in a condition of greater comfort; and she
even smiled to herself as she thought how rapidly she might improve the
appearance of the house during his absence, so that he should delight
in it on his return.  When the bishop assured her that she should not
be hurried into her marriage within two days, but that he would appoint
a day and hour when he should be at the distant church, to confirm the
young people resident lower down the fiord, she gratefully consented,
wondering at the interest so high and revered a man seemed to feel in
her lot.  When it was once settled that the wedding was to be next
week, she gave hearty aid to the preparations, as freely and openly as
if she was not herself to be the bride.

The bishop embarked immediately on descending the mountain.  His
considerate eye saw at a glance that there was necessarily much
confusion at the farm, and that his further presence would be an
inconvenience.  So he bade his host and the neighbours farewell for a
short time, desiring them not to fail to meet him again at the church
on his summons.

The kindness of the neighbours did not cease when danger from the enemy
was over.  Some offered boats for the wedding procession, several sent
gilt paper to adorn the bridal crown which Orga and Frolich were
making, and some yielded a more important assistance still.  They put
trusty persons into the seater, and over the herd, for two days, so
that all Erlingsen's household might be at the wedding.  Stiorna
preferred making butter, and gazing southwards, to attending the
wedding of Hund's rival; but every one else was glad to go.  Nobody
would have thought of urging Peder's presence, but he chose to do his
part--(a part which no one could discharge so well)--singing bridal
songs in the leading boat.

The summons arrived quite as soon as it could have been looked for, and
the next day there was as pretty a boat-procession on the still waters
of the fiord as had ever before glided over its surface.  Within the
memory of man, no bride had been prettier--no crown more glittering--no
bridegroom more happy--no chanting was ever more soothing than old
Peder's--no clarionet better played than Oddo's--no bridesmaids more
gay and kindly than Orga and Frolich.  The neighbours were hearty in
their cheers as the boats put off and the cheers were repeated from
every settlement in the coves and on the heights of the fiord, and were
again taken up by the echoes till the summer air seemed to be full of
gladness.

To conclude, the bishop was punctual, and kindly in his welcome of
Erica to the altar.  He was also graciously pleased with Rolf's
explanation that he had not ventured to bring a gift for so great a
dignitary, but that he hoped the bishop would approve of his giving his
humble offering to the church instead.  The six sides of the new pulpit
were nearly finished now, and Rolf desired to take upon himself the
carving of the basement as his marriage-fee.  As the bishop smiled
approbation, M. Kollsen bowed acquiescence, and Rolf found himself in
prospect of indoor work for some time to come.

Erica carried home in her heart, and kept there for ever, certain words
of the Bishop's address which he uttered with his eye kindly fixed upon
hers.  "Go, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  So shall you
not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by
day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the
destruction that wasteth at noon-day.  When you shall have made the
Lord your habitation, you shall not fear that evil may befall you, or
that any plague shall come nigh your dwelling.  Go, and peace be on
your house!"



THE TEMPLE PRESS, PRINTERS, LETCHWORTH





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