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Title: Pelle the Conqueror — Volume 02
Author: Andersen Nexø, Martin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Pelle the Conqueror — Volume 02" ***

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PELLE THE CONQUEROR

PART II.--APPRENTICESHIP


BY MARTIN ANDERSON NEXO



TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH
By Bernard Miall.



II. APPRENTICESHIP


I

On that windy May-morning when Pelle tumbled out of the nest, it so
happened that old Klaus Hermann was clattering into town with his
manure-cart, in order to fetch a load of dung. And this trifling
circumstance decided the boy's position in life. There was no more
pother than this about the question: What was Pelle to be?

He had never put that question to himself. He had simply gone onward
at hazard, as the meaning of the radiant world unfolded itself. As to
what he should make of himself when he was really out in the world
--well, the matter was so incomprehensible that it was mere folly to
think about it. So he just went on.

Now he had reached the further end of the ridge. He lay down in the
ditch to recover his breath after his long walk; he was tired and
hungry, but in excellent spirits. Down there at his feet, only half
a mile distant, lay the town. There was a cheerful glitter about it;
from its hundreds of fireplaces the smoke of midday fires curled
upward into the blue sky, and the red roofs laughed roguishly into
the beaming face of the day. Pelle immediately began to count the
houses; not wishing to exaggerate, he had estimated them at a million
only, and already he was well into the first hundred.

But in the midst of his counting he jumped up. What did the people
down there get for dinner? They must surely live well there! And was
it polite to go on eating until one was quite full, or should one lay
down one's spoon when one had only half finished, like the landowners
when they attended a dinner? For one who was always hungry this was
a very important question.

There was a great deal of traffic on the high-road. People were
coming and going; some had their boxes behind them in a cart, and
others carried their sole worldly possessions in a bag slung over
their shoulders, just as he did. Pelle knew some of these people,
and nodded to them benevolently; he knew something about all of them.
There were people who were going to the town--his town--and some were
going farther, far over the sea, to America, or even farther still,
to serve the King there; one could see that by their equipment and
the frozen look on their faces. Others were merely going into the
town to make a hole in their wages, and to celebrate May-day. These
came along the road in whole parties, humming or whistling, with
empty hands and overflowing spirits. But the most interesting people
were those who had put their boxes on a wheelbarrow, or were carrying
them by both handles. These had flushed faces, and were feverish in
their movements; they were people who had torn themselves away from
their own country-side, and their accustomed way of life, and had
chosen the town, as he himself had done.

There was one man, a cottager, with a little green chest on his
wheelbarrow; this latter was broad in the beam, and it was neatly
adorned with flowers painted by his own hand. Beside him walked his
daughter; her cheeks were red, and her eyes were gazing into the
unknown future. The father was speaking to her, but she did not look
as though she heard him. "Yes--now you must take it on you to look
out for yourself; you must think about it, and not throw yourself
away. The town is quite a good place for those who go right ahead
and think of their own advantage, but it thinks nothing of who gets
trodden underfoot. So don't be too trusting, for the people there
are wonderful clever in all sorts of tricks to take you in and trip
you up. At the same time you want to be soft-spoken and friendly."
She did not reply to this; she was apparently more taken up with
the problem of putting down her feet in their new shoes so that the
heels should not turn over.

There was a stream of people coming up from the town too. All the
forenoon Pelle had been meeting Swedes who had come that morning
in the steamer, and were now looking for a job on the land. There
were old folk, worn out with labor, and little children; there were
maidens as pretty as yellow-haired Marie, and young laborers who had
the strength of the whole world in their loins and muscles. And this
current of life was setting hither to fill up the gaps left by the
swarms that were going away--but that did not concern Pelle. For
seven years ago he had felt everything that made their faces look
so troubled now; what they were just entering upon he had already
put behind him. So there was no good in looking back.

Presently the old man from Neuendorf came along the road. He was got
up quite like an American, with a portmanteau and a silk neckerchief,
and the inside pockets of his open coat were stuffed full of papers.
At last he had made up his mind, and was going out to his betrothed,
who had already been three years away.

"Hullo!" cried Pelle, "so you are going away?"

The man came over to Pelle and set his portmanteau down by the side
of the ditch.

"Well, yes; it's time to be going," he said. "Laura won't wait for
me any longer. So the old people must see how they can get along
without a son; I've done everything for them now for three years.
Provided they can manage all by themselves--"

"They can do that all right," said Pelle, with an experienced air.
"And they had to get help formerly. There is no future for young
people at home." He had heard his elders say this. He struck at the
grass with his stick, assuming a superior air.

"No," said the other, "and Laura refuses to be a cottager's wife.
Well, good-bye!" He held out his hand to Pelle and tried to smile,
but his features had it their own way; nothing but a rather twisted
expression came over them. He stood there a minute, looking at his
boots, his thumb groping over his face as though he wanted to wipe
the tormented look away; then he picked up his portmanteau and went.
He was evidently not very comfortable.

"I'll willingly take over the ticket and the bride," shouted Pelle
merrily. He felt in the deuce of a good humor.

Everybody to-day was treading the road along which Pelle's own young
blood had called him--every young fellow with a little pluck, every
good-looking wench. Not for a moment was the road free of traffic;
it was like a vast exodus, an army of people escaping from places
where everyone had the feeling that he was condemned to live and die
on the very spot where he was born; an army of people who had chosen
the excitement of the unknown. Those little brick houses which lay
scattered over the green, or stood drawn up in two straight rows
where the high-road ran into the town--those were the cottages of
the peasant folk who had renounced the outdoor life, and dressed
themselves in townified clothes, and had then adventured hither;
and down on the sea-front the houses stood all squeezed and heaped
together round the church, so close that there looked to be no room
between them; there were the crowds who had gone wandering, driven
far afield by the longing in their hearts--and then the sea had set
a limit to their journey.

Pelle had no intention of allowing anything whatever to set a
limit to his journeying. Perhaps, if he had no luck in the town,
he would go to sea. And then one day he would come to some coast
that interested him, and he would land, and go to the gold-diggings.
Over there the girls went mother-naked, with nothing but some blue
tattoo-work to hide their shame; but Pelle had his girl sitting at
home, true to him, waiting for his return. She was more beautiful
even than Bodil and yellow-haired Marie put together, and whole
crowds followed her footsteps, but she sat at home and was faithful,
and she would sing the old love-song:

  "I had a lad, but he went away
  All over the false, false sea,
  Three years they are gone, and now to-day
  He writes no more to me!"

And while she sang the letter came to the door. But out of every
letter that his father Lasse received fell ten-kroner banknotes,
and one day a letter came with steamer-tickets for the two of them.
The song would not serve him any further, for in the song they
perished during the voyage, and the poor young man spent the rest
of his days on the sea-shore, gazing, through the shadow of insanity,
upon every rising sail. She and Lasse arrived safely--after all sorts
of difficulties, that went without saying--and Pelle stood on the
shore and welcomed them. He had dressed himself up like a savage,
and he carried on as though he meant to eat them before he made
himself known.

_Houp la!_ Pelle jumped to his feet. Up the road there was
a rattling and a clanking as though a thousand scythes were clashing
together: an old cart with loose plank sides came slowly jolting
along, drawn by the two most miserable moorland horses he had ever
seen. On the driver's seat was an old peasant, who was bobbing about
as though he would every moment fall in pieces, like all the rest
of his equipment. Pelle did not at first feel sure whether it was
the cart itself or the two bags of bones between the shafts that
made such a frightful din whenever they moved, but as the vehicle
at last drew level with him, and the old peasant drew up, he could
not resist the invitation to get up and have a lift. His shoulders
were still aching from carrying his sack.

"So you are going to town, after all?" said old Klaus, pointing
to his goods and chattels.

To town, yes indeed! Something seemed to grip hold of Pelle's
bursting heart, and before he was aware of it he had delivered
himself and his whole future into the old peasant's hands.

"Yes, yes--yes indeed--why, naturally!" said Klaus, nodding as Pelle
came forward. "Yes, of course! A man can't do less. And what's your
idea about what you are going to be in the long run--councillor or
king?" He looked up slowly. "Yes, goin' to town; well, well, they
all, take the road they feel something calling them to take....
Directly a young greyhound feels the marrow in his bones, or has got
a shilling in his pocket, he's got to go to town and leave it there.
And what do you think conies back out the town? Just manure and
nothing else! What else have I ever in my life been able to pick up
there? And now I'm sixty-five. But what's the good of talking? No
more than if a man was to stick his tail out and blow against a gale.
It comes over them just like the May-gripes takes the young calves--
heigh-ho! and away they go, goin' to do something big. Afterward,
then old Klaus Hermann can come and clean up after them! They've no
situation there, and no kinsfolk what could put them up--but they
always expect something big. Why, down in the town there are beds
made up in the streets, and the gutters are running over with food
and money! But what do you mean to do? Let's hear it now."

Pelle turned crimson. He had not yet succeeded in making a beginning,
and already he had been caught behaving like a blockhead.

"Well, well, well," said Klaus, in a good-humored tone, "you are no
bigger fool than all the rest. But if you'll take my advice, you'll
go to shoemaker Jeppe Kofod as apprentice; I am going straight to
his place to fetch manure, and I know he's looking for an apprentice.
Then you needn't go floundering about uncertain-like, and you can
drive right up to the door like the quality."

Pelle winced all over. Never in his life had it entered his head
that he could ever become a shoemaker. Even back there on the land,
where people looked up to the handicrafts, they used always to say,
if a boy had not turned out quite right: "Well, we can always make
a cobbler or a tailor of him!" But Pelle was no cripple, that he
must lead a sedentary life indoors in order to get on at all; he was
strong and well-made. What he would be--well, that certainly lay in
the hands of fortune; but he felt very strongly that it ought to be
something active, something that needed courage and energy. And in
any case he was quite sure as to what he did not want to be. But as
they jolted through the town, and Pelle--so as to be beforehand with
the great world--kept on taking off his cap to everybody, although
no one returned his greeting, his spirits began to sink, and a sense
of his own insignificance possessed him. The miserable cart, at
which all the little town boys laughed and pointed with their
fingers, had a great deal to do with this feeling.

"Take off your cap to a pack like that!" grumbled Klaus; "why,
only look how puffed up they behave, and yet everything they've got
they've stolen from us others. Or what do you suppose--can you see
if they've got their summer seeds in the earth yet?" And he glared
contemptuously down the street.

No, there was nothing growing on the stone pavements, and all these
little houses, which stood so close that now and then they seemed
to Pelle as if they must be squeezed out of the row--these gradually
took his breath away. Here were thousands and thousands of people,
if that made any difference; and all his blind confidence wavered
at the question: where did all their food come from? For here he was
once more at home in his needy, familiar world, where no amount of
smoke will enable one to buy a pair of socks. All at once he felt
thoroughly humble, and he decided that it would be all he could
do here to hold his own, and find his daily bread among all these
stones, for here people did not raise it naturally from the soil,
but got it--well, how _did_ they get it?

The streets were full of servants. The girls stood about in groups,
their arms round one another's waists, staring with burning eyes
at the cotton-stuffs displayed in the shops; they rocked themselves
gently to and fro as though they were dreaming. A 'prentice boy of
about Pelle's age, with a red, spotty face, was walking down the
middle of the street, eating a great wheaten roll which he held
with both hands; his ears were full of scabs and his hands swollen
with the cold. Farm laborers went by, carrying red bundles in their
hands, their overcoats flapping against their calves; they would
stop suddenly at a turning, look cautiously round, and then hurry
down a side street. In front of the shops the salesmen were walking
up and down, bareheaded, and if any one stopped in front of their
windows they would beg them, in the politest manner, to step nearer,
and would secretly wink at one another across the street.

"The shopkeepers have arranged their things very neatly to-day,"
said Pelle.

Klaus nodded. "Yes, yes; to-day they've brought out everything they
couldn't get rid of sooner. To-day the block-heads have come to
market--the easy purses. Those"--and he pointed to a side street,
"those are the publicans. They are looking this way so longingly,
but the procession don't come as far as them. But you wait till
this evening, and then take a turn along here, and ask the different
people how much they've got left of their year's wages. Yes, the
town's a fine place--the very deuce of a fine place!" And he spat
disgustedly.

Pelle had quite lost all his blind courage. He saw not a single
person doing anything by which he himself might earn his bread. And
gladly as he would have belonged to this new world, yet he could not
venture into anything where, perhaps without knowing it, he would be
an associate of people who would tear the rags off his old comrades'
backs. All the courage had gone out of him, and with a miserable
feeling that even his only riches, his hands, were here useless,
he sat irresolute, and allowed himself to be driven, rattling and
jangling, to Master Jeppe Kofod's workshop.



II

The workshop stood over an entry which opened off the street. People
came and went along this entry: Madame Rasmussen and old Captain
Elleby; the old maid-servant of a Comptroller, an aged pensioner
who wore a white cap, drew her money from the Court, and expended
it here, and a feeble, gouty old sailor who had bidden the sea
farewell. Out in the street, on the sharp-edged cobble-stones, the
sparrows were clamoring loudly, lying there with puffed-out feathers,
feasting among the horse-droppings, tugging at them and scattering
them about to the accompaniment of a storm of chirping and
scolding.

Everything overlooking the yard stood open. In the workshop all four
windows were opened wide, and the green light sifted into the room
and fell on the faces of those present. But that was no help. Not a
breath of wind was blowing; moreover, Pelle's heat came from within.
He was sweating with sheer anxiety.

For the rest, he pulled industriously at his cobbler's wax, unless,
indeed, something outside captured his harassed mind, so that it
wandered out into the sunshine.

Everything out there was splashed with vivid sunlight; seen from the
stuffy workshop the light was like a golden river, streaming down
between the two rows of houses, and always in the same direction,
down to the sea. Then a speck of white down came floating on the air,
followed by whitish-gray thistle-seeds, and a whole swarm of gnats,
and a big broad bumble-bee swung to and fro. All these eddied,
gleaming, in the open doorway, and they went on circling as though
there was something there which attracted them all--doubtless an
accident, or perhaps a festival.

"Are you asleep, booby?" asked the journeyman sharply. Pelle shrank
into his shell and continued to work at the wax; he kneaded away at
it, holding it in hot water.

Inside the court, at the baker's--the baker was the old master's
brother--they were hoisting sacks of meal. The windlass squeaked
horribly, and in between the squeaking one could hear Master Jorgen
Kofod, in a high falsetto, disputing with his son. "You're a noodle,
a pitiful simpleton--whatever will become of you? Do you think we've
nothing more to do than to go running out to prayer-meetings on a
working day? Perhaps that will get us our daily bread? Now you just
stay here, or, God's mercy, I'll break every bone in your body!"
Then the wife chimed in, and then of a sudden all was silent. And
after a while the son stole like a phantom along the wall of the
opposite house, a hymn-book in his hand. He was not unlike Howling
Peter. He squeezed himself against the wall, and his knees gave
under him if any one looked sharply at him. He was twenty-five years
old, and he took beatings from his father without a murmur. But when
matters of religion were in question he defied public opinion, the
stick, and his father's anger.

"Are you asleep, booby? I shall really have to come over and teach
you to hurry!"

For a time no one spoke in the workshop--the journeyman was silent,
so the others had to hold their tongues. Each bent over his work,
and Pelle pulled the pitch out to as great a length as possible,
kneaded some grease into it, and pulled again. Outside, in the
sunshine, some street urchins were playing, running to and fro. When
they saw Pelle, they held their clenched fist under their noses,
nodded to him in a provocative manner, and sang--

  "The cobbler has a pitchy nose,
  The more he wipes it the blacker it grows!"

Pelle pretended not to see them, but he secretly ticked them all
off in his mind. It was his sincere intention to wipe them all off
the face of the earth.

Suddenly they all ran into the street, where a tremendous,
monotonous voice lifted itself and flowed abroad. This was the crazy
watchmaker; he was standing on his high steps, crying damnation on
the world at large.

Pelle knew perfectly well that the man was crazy, and in the words
which he so ponderously hurled at the town there was not the
slightest meaning. But they sounded wonderfully fine notwithstanding,
and the "ordeal by wax" was hanging over him like a sort of last
judgment. Involuntarily, he began to turn cold at the sound of this
warning voice, which uttered such solemn words and had so little
meaning, just as he did at the strong language in the Bible. It was
just the voice that frightened him; it was such a terrible voice,
such a voice as one might hear speaking out of the clouds; the sort
of voice, in short, that made the knees of Moses and Paul give under
them; a portentous voice, such as Pelle himself used to hear coming
out of the darkness at Stone Farm when a quarrel was going on.

Only the knee-strap of little Nikas, the journeyman, kept him from
jumping up then and there and throwing himself down like Paul. This
knee-strap was a piece of undeniable reality in the midst of all his
imaginings; in two months it had taught him never quite to forget
who and where he was. He pulled himself together, and satisfied
himself that all his miseries arose from his labors over this
wretched cobbler's wax; besides, there was such a temptation to
compare his puddle of cobbler's wax with the hell in which he was
told he would be tormented. But then he heard the cheerful voice
of the young shoemaker in the yard outside, and the whole trouble
disappeared. The "ordeal by wax" could not really be so terrible,
since all the others had undergone it--he had certainly seen tougher
fellows than these in his lifetime!

Jens sat down and ducked his head, as though he was expecting a box
on the ears;--that was the curse of the house which continually
hung over him. He was so slow at his work that already Pelle could
overtake him; there was something inside him that seemed to hamper
his movements like a sort of spell. But Peter and Emil were smart
fellows--only they were always wanting to thrash him.

Among the apple trees in the yard it was early summer, and close
under the workshop windows the pig stood smacking at his food. This
sound was like a warm breeze that blew over Pelle's heart. Since the
day when Klaus Hermann had shaken the squeaking little porker out
of his sack, Pelle had begun to take root. It had squealed at first
in a most desolate manner, and something of Pelle's own feeling of
loneliness was taken away from him by its cries. Now it complained
simply because it was badly fed, and it made Pelle quite furious to
see the nasty trash that was thrown to it--a young pig must eat well,
that is half the battle. They ought not to go running out every few
minute to throw something or other to the pig; when once the heat
really set in it would get acidity of the stomach. But there was no
sense in these town folk.

"Are you really asleep, booby? Why, you are snoring, deuce take me!"

The young master came limping in, took a drink, and buried himself
in his book. As he read he whistled softly in time with the hammer-
strokes of the others. Little Nikas began to whistle too, and the
two older apprentices who were beating leather began to strike in
time with the whistling, and they even kept double time, so that
everything went like greased lightning. The journeyman's trills and
quavers became more and more extraordinary, in order to catch up
with the blows--the blows and the whistling seemed to be chasing one
another--and Master Andres raised his head from his book to listen.
He sat there staring into the far distance, as though the shadowy
pictures evoked by his reading were hovering before his eyes. Then,
with a start, he was present and among them all, his eyes running
over them with a waggish expression; and then he stood up, placing
his stick so that it supported his diseased hip. The master's hands
danced loosely in the air, his head and his whole figure jerking
crazily under the compulsion of the rhythm.

_Swoop!_--and the dancing hands fell upon the cutting-out
knife, and the master fingered the notes on the sharp edge, his head
on one side and his eyes closed--his whole appearance that of one
absorbed in intent inward listening. But then suddenly his face
beamed with felicity, his whole figure contracted in a frenzy of
delight, one foot clutched at the air as though bewitched, as though
he were playing a harp with his toes--Master Andres was all at once
a musical idiot and a musical clown. And _smack!_ the knife
flew to the ground and he had the great tin cover in his hand--
_chin-da-da-da chin-da-da-da!_ Suddenly by a stroke of magic
the flute had turned into a drum and cymbals!

Pelle was doubled up with laughter: then he looked in alarm at the
knee-strap and again burst out laughing; but no one took any notice
of him. The master's fingers and wrist were dancing a sort of
devil's dance on the tin cover, and all of a sudden his elbows too
were called into requisition, so that the cover banged against the
master's left knee, bounced off again and quick as lightning struck
against his wooden heel, which stuck out behind him; then against
Pelle's head, and round about it went, striking the most improbable
objects, _dum, dum, dum_, as though in wild, demoniacal
obedience to the flute-like tones of the journeyman. There was no
holding back. Emil, the oldest apprentice, began boldly to whistle
too, cautiously at first, and then, as no one smacked his head,
more forcefully. Then the next apprentice, Jens--the music-devil,
as he was called, because anything would produce a note between his
fingers--plucked so cleverly at his waxed-end that it straightway
began to give out a buzzing undertone, rising and falling through
two or three notes, as though an educated bumble-bee had been
leading the whole orchestra. Out of doors the birds came hopping on
to the apple-boughs; they twisted their heads inquisitively to one
side, frantically fluffed out their feathers, and then they too
joined in this orgy of jubilation, which was caused merely by a
scrap of bright blue sky. But then the young master had an attack
of coughing, and the whole business came to an end.

Pelle worked away at his cobbler's wax, kneading the pitch and
mixing grease with it. When the black lump was on the point of
stiffening, he had to plunge both hands into hot water, so that he
got hangnails. Old Jeppe came tripping in from the yard, and Master
Andres quickly laid the cutting-board over his book and diligently
stropped his knife.

"That's right!" said Jeppe; "warm the wax, then it binds all
the better."

Pelle had rolled the wax into balls, and had put them in the
soaking-tub, and now stood silent; for he had not the courage
of his own accord to say, "I am ready." The others had magnified
the "ordeal by wax" into something positively terrible; all sorts
of terrors lurked in the mystery that was now awaiting him; and if
he himself had not known that he was a smart fellow--why--yes, he
would have left them all in the lurch. But now he meant to submit to
it, however bad it might be; he only wanted time to swallow first.
Then at last he would have succeeded in shaking off the peasant, and
the handicraft would be open to him, with its song and its wandering
life and its smart journeyman's clothes. The workshop here was no
better than a stuffy hole where one sat and slaved over smelly
greasy boots, but he saw that one must go through with it in order
to reach the great world, where journeymen wore patent-leather shoes
on workdays and made footwear fit for kings. The little town had
given Pelle a preliminary foreboding that the world was almost
incredibly great, and this foreboding filled him with impatience.
He meant to conquer it all!

"Now I am ready!" he said resolutely; now he would decide whether
he and the handicraft were made for one another.

"Then you can pull a waxed end--but make it as long as a bad year!"
said the journeyman.

The old master was all on fire at the idea. He went over and watched
Pelle closely, his tongue hanging out of his mouth; he felt quite
young again, and began to descant upon his own apprenticeship in
Copenhagen, sixty years ago. Those were times! The apprentices
didn't lie in bed and snore in those days till six o'clock in the
morning, and throw down their work on the very stroke of eight,
simply to go out and run about. No; up they got at four, and stuck
at it as long as there was work to do. Then fellows _could_
work--and then they still learned something; they were told things
just once, and then--the knee-strap! Then, too, the manual crafts
still enjoyed some reputation; even the kings had to learn a
handicraft. It was very different to the present, with its bungling
and cheap retailing and pinching and paring everywhere.

The apprentices winked at one another. Master Andres and the
journeyman were silent. You might as well quarrel with the
sewing-machine because it purred. Jeppe was allowed to spin his
yarn alone.

"Are you waxing it well?" said little Nikas. "It's for pigskin."

The others laughed, but Pelle rubbed the thread with a feeling as
though he were building his own scaffold.

"Now I am ready!" he said, in a low voice.

The largest pair of men's lasts was taken down from the shelf, and
these were tied to one end of the waxed-end and were let right down
to the pavement. People collected in the street outside, and stood
there staring. Pelle had to lean right out of the window, and bend
over as far as he could, while Emil, as the oldest apprentice,
laid the waxed-end over his neck. They were all on their feet now,
with the exception of the young master; he took no part in this
diversion.

"Pull, then!" ordered the journeyman, who was directing the solemn
business. "Pull them along till they're right under your feet!"

Pelle pulled, and the heavy lasts joggled over the pavement, but he
paused with a sigh; the waxed-end was slipping over his warm neck.
He stood there stamping, like an animal which stamps its feet on the
ground, without knowing why; he lifted them cautiously and looked at
them in torment.

"Pull, pull!" ordered Jeppe. "You must keep the thing moving or it
sticks!" But it was too late; the wax had hardened in the hairs of
his nape--Father Lasse used to call them his "luck curls," and
prophesied a great future for him on their account--and there he
stood, and could not remove the waxed-end, however hard he tried.
He made droll grimaces, the pain was so bad, and the saliva ran
out of his mouth.

"Huh! He can't even manage a pair of lasts!" said Jeppe jeeringly.
"He'd better go back to the land again and wash down the cows'
behinds!"

Then Pelle, boiling with rage, gave a jerk, closing his eyes and
writhing as he loosed himself. Something sticky and slippery slipped
through his fingers with the waxed-end; it was bloody hair, and
across his neck the thread had bitten its way in a gutter of lymph
and molten wax. But Pelle no longer felt the pain, his head was
boiling so, and he felt a vague but tremendous longing to pick up
a hammer and strike them all to the ground, and then to run through
the street, banging at the skulls of all he met. But then the
journeyman took the lasts off him, and the pain came back to him,
and his whole miserable plight. He heard Jeppe's squeaky voice,
and looked at the young master, who sat there submissively, without
having the courage to express his opinion, and all at once he felt
terribly sorry for himself.

"That was right," buzzed old Jeppe, "a shoemaker mustn't be afraid
to wax his hide a little. What? I believe it has actually brought
the water to his eyes! No, when I was apprentice we had a real
ordeal; we had to pass the waxed-end twice round our necks before we
were allowed to pull. Our heads used to hang by a thread and dangle
when we were done. Yes, those were times!"

Pelle stood there shuffling, in order to fight down his tears; but
he had to snigger with mischievous delight at the idea of Jeppe's
dangling head.

"Then we must see whether he can stand a buzzing head," said the
journeyman, getting ready to strike him.

"No, you can wait until he deserves it," said Master Andres hastily.
"You will soon find an occasion."

"Well, he's done with the wax," said Jeppe, "but the question is,
can he sit? Because there are some who never learn the art of
sitting."

"That must be tested, too, before we can declare him to be useful,"
said little Nikas, in deadly earnest.

"Are you done with your tomfoolery now?" said Master Andres angrily,
and he went his way.

But Jeppe was altogether in his element; his head was full of the
memories of his boyhood, a whole train of devilish tricks, which
completed the ordination. "Then we used to brand them indelibly
with their special branch, and they never took to their heels, but
they considered it a great honor as long as they drew breath. But
now these are weakly times and full of pretences; the one can't
do this and the other can't do that; and there's leather colic and
sore behinds and God knows what. Every other day they come with
certificates that they're suffering from boils from sitting down,
and then you can begin all over again. No, in my time we behaved
very different--the booby got held naked over a three-legged stool
and a couple of men used to go at him with knee-straps! That was
leather on leather, and like that they learned, damn and blast it
all! how to put up with sitting on a stool!"

The journeyman made a sign.

"Now, is the seat of the stool ready consecrated, and prayed over?
Yes, then you can go over there and sit down."

Pelle went stupidly across the room and sat down--it was all the
same to him. But he leaped into the air with a yell of pain, looked
malevolently about him, and in a moment he had a hammer in his hand.
But he dropped it again, and now he cried--wept buckets of tears.

"What the devil are you doing to him now?"

The young master came out of the cutting-out room. "What dirty
tricks are you hatching now?" He ran his hand over the seat of the
stool; it was studded with broken awl-points. "You are barbarous
devils; any one would think he was among a lot of savages!"

"What a weakling!" sneered Jeppe. "In these days a man can't take
a boy as apprentice and inoculate him a bit against boils! One ought
to anoint the boobies back and front with honey, perhaps, like the
kings of Israel? But you are a freethinker!"

"You get out of this, father!" shouted Master Andres, quite beside
himself. "You get out of this, father!" He trembled, and his face
was quite gray. And then he pushed the old man out of the room
before he had struck Pelle on the shoulder and received him properly
into the handicraft.

Pelle sat there and reflected. He was altogether disillusioned. All
the covert allusions had evoked something terrifying, but at the
same time impressive. In his imagination the ordeal had grown into
something that constituted the great barrier of his life, so that
one passed over to the other side as quite a different being; it
was something after the fashion of the mysterious circumcision in
the Bible, a consecration to new things. And now the whole thing
was just a spitefully devised torture!

The young master threw him a pair of children's shoes, which had to
be soled. So he was admitted to that department, and need no longer
submit to preparing waxed-ends for the others! But the fact did
not give him any pleasure. He sat there struggling with something
irrational that seemed to keep on rising deep within him; when no
one was looking he licked his fingers and drew them over his neck.
He seemed to himself like a half-stupefied cat which had freed
itself from the snare and sat there drying its fur.

Out of doors, under the apple-trees, the sunlight lay green and
golden, and a long way off, in the skipper's garden, three brightly
dressed girls were walking and playing; they seemed to Pelle like
beings out of another world. "Fortune's children on the sunbright
shore," as the song had it. From time to time a rat made its
appearance behind the pigsty, and went clattering over the great
heap of broken glass that lay there. The pig stood there gobbling
down its spoiled potatoes with that despairing noise that put an end
to all Pelle's proud dreams of the future, while it filled him with
longing--oh, such a mad longing!

And everything that possibly could do so made its assault upon him
at this moment when he was feeling particularly victorious; the
miseries of his probation here in the workshop, the street urchins,
the apprentices, who would not accept him as one of themselves, and
all the sharp edges and corners which he was continually running
up against in this unfamiliar world. And then the smelly workshop
itself, where never a ray of sunlight entered. And no one here
seemed to respect anything.

When the master was not present, little Nikas would sometimes
indulge in tittle-tattle with the older apprentices. Remarks were
made at such times which opened new spheres of thought to Pelle, and
he had to ask questions; or they would talk of the country, which
Pelle knew better than all of them put together, and he would chime
in with some correction. _Smack!_ came a box on his ears that
would send him rolling into the corner; he was to hold his tongue
until he was spoken to. But Pelle, who was all eyes and ears, and
had been accustomed to discuss everything in heaven or earth with
Father Lasse, could not learn to hold his tongue.

Each exacted with a strong hand his quantum of respect, from
the apprentices to the old master, who was nearly bursting with
professional pride in his handicraft; only Pelle had no claim to any
respect whatever, but must pay tribute to all. The young master was
the only one who did not press like a yoke on the youngster's neck.
Easygoing as he was, he would disregard the journeyman and the rest,
and at times he would plump himself down beside Pelle, who sat there
feeling dreadfully small.

Outside, when the sun was shining through the trees in a particular
way, and a peculiar note came into the twittering of the birds,
Pelle knew it was about the time when the cows began to get on their
feet after their midday chewing of the cud. And then a youngster
would come out from among the little fir-trees, lustily cracking his
whip; he was the general of the whole lot--Pelle, the youngster--who
had no one set over him. And the figure that came stumbling across
the arable yonder, in order to drive the cows home--why, that was
Lasse!

Father Lasse!

He did not know why, but it wrung a sob from him; it took him so
unawares. "Hold your row!" cried the journeyman threateningly. Pelle
was greatly concerned; he had not once made the attempt to go over
and see Lasse.

The young master came to get something off the shelf above his head,
and leaned confidentially on Pelle's shoulder, his weak leg hanging
free and dangling. He stood there loitering for a time, staring at
the sky outside, and this warm hand on Pelle's shoulder quieted him.

But there could be no talk of enjoyment when he thought where
good Father Lasse was. He had not seen his father since that sunny
morning when he himself had gone away and left the old man to his
loneliness. He had not heard of him; he had scarcely given a thought
to him. He had to get through the day with a whole skin, and to
adapt himself to the new life; a whole new world was before him,
in which he had to find his feet. Pelle had simply had no time;
the town had swallowed him.

But at this moment his conduct confronted him as the worst example
of unfaithfulness the world had ever known. And his neck continued
to hurt him--he must go somewhere or other where no one would look
at him. He made a pretence of having to do something in the yard
outside; he went behind the washhouse, and he crouched down by the
woodpile beside the well.

There he lay, shrinking into himself, in the blackest despair at
having left Father Lasse so shamelessly in the lurch, just for the
sake of all these new strange surroundings. Yes, and then, when they
used to work together, he had been neither as good nor as heedful
as he should have been. It was really Lasse who, old as he was, had
sacrificed himself for Pelle, in order to lighten his work and take
the worst of the burden off him, although Pelle had the younger
shoulders. And he had been a little hard at times, as over that
business between his father and Madame Olsen; and he had not always
been very patient with his good-humored elderly tittle-tattle,
although if he could hear it now he would give his life to listen.
He could remember only too plainly occasions when he had snapped at
Lasse, so unkindly that Lasse had given a sigh and made off; for
Lasse never snapped back--he was only silent and very sad.

But how dreadful that was! Pelle threw all his high-and-mighty airs
to the winds and gave himself up to despair. What was he doing here,
with Father Lasse wandering among strangers, and perhaps unable to
find shelter? There was nothing with which he could console himself,
no evasion or excuse was possible; Pelle howled at the thought of
his faithlessness. And as he lay there despairing, worrying over
the whole business and crying himself into a state of exhaustion,
quite a manful resolve began to form within him; he must give up
everything of his own--the future, and the great world, and all,
and devote his days to making the old man's life happy. He must go
back to Stone Farm! He forgot that he was only a child who could
just earn his own keep. To protect the infirm old man at every point
and make his life easy--that was just what he wanted. And Pelle was
by no means disposed to doubt that he could do it. In the midst of
his childish collapse he took upon himself all the duties of a
strong man.

As he lay there, woe-begone, playing with a couple of bits of
firewood, the elder-boughs behind the well parted, and a pair of
big eyes stared at him wonderingly. It was only Manna.

"Did they beat you--or why are you crying?" she asked earnestly.

Pelle turned his face away.

Manna shook her hair back and looked at him fixedly. "Did they beat
you? What? If they did, I shall go in and scold them hard!"

"What is it to you?"

"People who don't answer aren't well-behaved."

"Oh, hold your row!"

Then he was left in peace; over at the back of the garden Manna and
her two younger sisters were scrambling about the trellis, hanging
on it and gazing steadfastly across the yard at him. But that was
nothing to him; he wanted to know nothing about them; he didn't want
petticoats to pity him or intercede for him. They were saucy jades,
even if their father had sailed on the wide ocean and earned a lot
of money. If he had them here they would get the stick from him!
Now he must content himself with putting out his tongue at them.

He heard their horrified outcry--but what then? He didn't want to
go scrambling about with them any more, or to play with the great
conch-shells and lumps of coral in their garden! He would go back
to the land and look after his old father! Afterward, when that was
done, he would go out into the world himself, and bring such things
home with him--whole shiploads of them!

They were calling him from the workshop window. "Where in the
world has that little blighter got to?" he heard them say. He
started, shrinking; he had quite forgotten that he was serving
his apprenticeship. He got on his feet and ran quickly indoors.

Pelle had soon tidied up after leaving off work. The others had run
out in search of amusement; he was alone upstairs in the garret.
He put his worldly possessions into his sack. There was a whole
collection of wonderful things--tin steamboats, railway-trains, and
horses that were hollow inside--as much of the irresistible wonders
of the town as he had been able to obtain for five white krone
pieces. They went in among the washing, so that they should not
get damaged, and then he threw the bag out of the gable-window into
the little alley. Now the question was how he himself should slip
through the kitchen without arousing the suspicions of Jeppe's old
woman; she had eyes like a witch, and Pelle had a feeling that every
one who saw him would know what he was about.

But he went. He controlled himself, and sauntered along, so that
the people should think he was taking washing to the laundrywoman;
but he could only keep it up as far as the first turning; then
he started off as fast as he could go. He was homesick. A few
street-boys yelled and threw stones after him, but that didn't
matter, so long as he only got away; he was insensible to everything
but the remorse and homesickness that filled his heart.

It was past midnight when he at last reached the outbuildings of
Stone Farm. He was breathless, and had a stitch in his side. He
leaned against the ruined forge, and closed his eyes, the better to
recover himself. As soon as he had recovered his breath, he entered
the cowshed from the back and made for the herdsman's room. The
floor of the cowshed felt familiar to his feet, and now he came in
the darkness to the place where the big bull lay. He breathed in
the scent of the creature's body and blew it out again--ah, didn't
he remember it! But the scent of the cowherd's room was strange to
him. "Father Lasse is neglecting himself," he thought, and he pulled
the feather-bed from under the sleeper's head. A strange voice began
to upbraid him. "Then isn't this Lasse?" said Pelle. His knees were
shaking under him.

"Lasse?" cried the new cowherd, as he sat upright. "Do you say Lasse?
Have you come to fetch that child of God, Mr. Devil? They've been
here already from Hell and taken him with them--in the living body
they've taken him there with them--he was too good for this world,
d'ye see? Old Satan was here himself in the form of a woman and took
him away. You'd better go there and look for him. Go straight on
till you come to the devil's great-grandmother, and then you've only
got to ask your way to the hairy one."

Pelle stood for a while in the yard below and considered. So Father
Lasse had gone away! And wanted to marry, or was perhaps already
married. And to Karna, of course. He stood bolt-upright, sunk in
intimate memories. The great farm lay hushed in moonlight, in
deepest slumber, and all about him rose memories from their sleep,
speaking to him caressingly, with a voice like that contented
purring, remembered from childhood, when the little kittens used
to sleep upon his pillow, and he would lay his cheek against their
soft, quivering bodies.

Pelle's memory had deep roots. Once, at Uncle Kalle's, he had laid
himself in the big twins' cradle and had let the other children rock
him--he was then fully nine years old--and as they rocked him a
while the surroundings began to take hold of him, and he saw a smoky,
raftered ceiling, which did not belong to Kalle's house, swaying
high over his head, and he had a feeling that a muffled-up old woman,
wrapped in a shawl, sat like a shadow at the head of the cradle, and
rocked it with her foot. The cradle jolted with the over-vigorous
rocking, and every time the rocking foot slipped from the footboard
it struck on the floor with the sound of a sprung wooden shoe. Pelle
jumped up--"she bumped so," he said, bewildered. "What? No, you
certainly dreamed that!" Kalle looked, smiling, under the rockers.
"Bumped!" said Lasse. "That ought to suit you first-rate! At one
time, when you were little, you couldn't sleep if the cradle didn't
bump, so we had to make the rockers all uneven. It was almost
impossible to rock it. Bengta cracked many a good wooden shoe in
trying to give you your fancy."

The farmyard here was like a great cradle, which swayed and swayed
in the uncertain moonlight, and now that Pelle had once quite
surrendered himself to the past, there was no end to the memories
of childhood that rose within him. His whole existence passed before
him, swaying above his head as before, and the earth itself seemed
like a dark speck in the abysm of space.

And then the crying broke out from the house--big with destiny, to
be heard all over the place, so that Kongstrup slunk away shamefaced,
and the other grew angry and ungovernable. ... And Lasse ... yes,
where was Father Lasse?

With one leap, Pelle was in the brew-house, knocking on the door
of the maid's room.

"Is that you, Anders?" whispered a voice from within, and then the
door opened, and a pair of arms fastened themselves about him and
drew him in. Pelle felt about him, and his hands sank into a naked
bosom--why, it was yellow-haired Marie!

"Is Karna still here?" he asked. "Can't I speak to Karna a moment?"

They were glad to see him again; and yellow-haired Marie patted his
cheeks quite affectionately, and just before that she kissed him too.
Karna could scarcely recover from her surprise; he had acquired such
a townsman's air. "And now you are a shoemaker too, in the biggest
workshop in the town! Yes, we've heard; Butcher Jensen heard about
it on the market. And you have grown tall and townified. You do hold
yourself well!" Karna was dressing herself.

"Where is Father Lasse?" said Pelle; he had a lump in his throat
only from speaking of him.

"Give me time, and I'll come out with you. How fine you dress now!
I should hardly have known you. Would you, Marie?"

"He's a darling boy--he always was," said Marie, and she pushed
at him with her arched foot--she was now in bed again.

"It's the same suit as I always had," said Pelle.

"Yes, yes; but then you held yourself different--there in town they
all look like lords. Well, shall we go?"

Pelle said good-by to Marie affectionately; it occurred to him that
he had much to thank her for. She looked at him in a very odd way,
and tried to draw his hand under the coverlet.

"What's the matter with father?" said Pelle impatiently, as soon
as they were outside.

Well, Lasse had taken to his heels too! He couldn't stand it when
Pelle had gone. And the work was too heavy for one. Where he was
just at the moment Karna could not say. "He's now here, now there,
considering farms and houses," she said proudly. "Some fine day
he'll be able to take you in on his visit to town."

"And how are things going here?" inquired Pelle.

"Well, Erik has got his speech back and is beginning to be a man
again--he can make himself understood. And Kongstrup and his wife,
they drink one against the other."

"They drink together, do they, like the wooden shoemaker and his
old woman?"

"Yes, and so much that they often lie in the room upstairs soaking,
and can't see one another for the drink, they're that foggy.
Everything goes crooked here, as you may suppose, with no master.
'Masterless, defenceless,' as the old proverb says. But what can you
say about it--they haven't anything else in common! But it's all the
same to me--as soon as Lasse finds something I'm off!"

Pelle could well believe that, and had nothing to say against it.
Karna looked at him from head to foot in surprise as they walked on.
"They feed you devilish well in the town there, don't they?"

"Yes--vinegary soup and rotten greaves. We were much better fed
here."

She would not believe it--it sounded too foolish. "But where are
all the things they have in the shop windows--all the meats and
cakes and sweet things? What becomes of all them?"

"That I don't know," said Pelle grumpily; he himself had racked his
brains over this very question. "I get all I can eat, but washing
and clothes I have to see to myself."

Karna could scarcely conceal her amazement; she had supposed that
Pelle had been, so to speak, caught up to Heaven while yet living.
"But how do you manage?" she said anxiously. "You must find that
difficult. Yes, yes, directly we set out feet under our own table
we'll help you all we can."

They parted up on the high-road, and Pelle, tired and defeated, set
out on his way back. It was broad daylight when he got back, and he
crawled into bed without any one noticing anything of his attempted
flight.



III

Little Nikas had washed the blacking from his face and had put on
his best clothes; he wanted to go to the market with a bundle of
washing, which the butcher from Aaker was to take home to his mother,
and Pelle walked behind him, carrying the bundle. Little Nikas
saluted many friendly maidservants in the houses of the neighborhood,
and Pelle found it more amusing to walk beside him than to follow;
two people who are together ought to walk abreast. But every time he
walked beside the journeyman the latter pushed him into the gutter,
and finally Pelle fell over a curbstone; then he gave it up.

Up the street the crazy watchmaker was standing on the edge of his
high steps, swinging a weight; it was attached to the end of a long
cord, and he followed the swinging of the pendulum with his fingers,
as though he were timing the beats. This was very interesting, and
Pelle feared it would escape the journeyman.

"The watchmaker's making an experiment," he said cheerfully.

"Stop your jaw!" said the journeyman sharply. Then it occurred
to Pelle that he was not allowed to speak, so he closed his mouth
tight.

He felt the bundle, in order to picture to himself what the contents
were like. His eyes swept all the windows and the side streets,
and every moment he carried his free hand to his mouth, as though
he were yawning, and introduced a crumb of black bread, which he
had picked up in the kitchen. His braces were broken, so he had
continually to puff out his belly; there were hundreds of things
to look at, and the coal-merchant's dog to be kicked while, in all
good faith, he snuffed at a curbstone.

A funeral procession came toward them, and the journeyman passed
it with his head bared, so Pelle did the same. Eight at the back
of the procession came Tailor Bjerregrav with his crutch; he always
followed every funeral, and always walked light at the back because
his method of progression called for plenty of room. He would stand
still and look on the ground until the last of the other followers
had gone a few steps in advance, then he would set his crutch in
front of him, swing himself forward for a space, and then stand
still again. Then he would swing forward again on his lame legs,
and again stand still and watch the others, and again take a few
paces, looking like a slowly wandering pair of compasses which was
tracing the path followed by the procession.

But the funniest thing was that the tailor had forgotten to button
up the flap of his black mourning-breeches, so that it hung over his
knees like an apron. Pelle was not quite sure that the journeyman
had noticed this.

"Bjerregrav has forgotten--"

"Hold your jaw." Little Nikas made a movement backward, and Pelle
ducked his head and pressed his hand tightly to his mouth.

Over in Staal Street there was a great uproar; an enormously fat
woman was standing there quarrelling with two seamen. She was in
her nightcap and petticoat, and Pelle knew her.

"That's the Sow!" he began. "She's a dreadful woman; up at Stone
Farm----"

_Smack!_ Little Nikas gave him such a box on the ear that he
had to sit down on the woodcarver's steps. "One, two, three, four--
that's it; now come on!" He counted ten steps forward and set off
again. "But God help you if you don't keep your distance!"

Pelle kept his distance religiously, but he instantly discovered
that little Nikas, like old Jeppe, had too large a posterior.
That certainly came of sitting too much--and it twisted one's loins.
He protruded his own buttocks as far as he could, smoothed down a
crease in his jacket over his hips, raised himself elegantly upon
the balls of his feet and marched proudly forward, one hand thrust
into the breast of his coat. If the journeyman scratched himself,
Pelle did the same--and he swayed his body in the same buoyant
manner; his cheeks were burning, but he was highly pleased with
himself.

Directly he was his own master he went the round of the country
butchers, questioning them, in the hope of hearing some news of
Lasse, but no one could tell him anything. He went from cart to cart,
asking his questions. "Lasse Karlson?" said one. "Ah, he was cowherd
up at Stone Farm!" Then he called to another, asking him about Lasse
--the old cowherd at Stone Farm--and he again called to a third, and
they all gathered about the carts, in order to talk the matter over.
There were men here who travelled all over the island [Bornholm] in
order to buy cattle; they knew everything and everybody, but they
could tell him nothing of Lasse. "Then he's not in the island," said
one, very decidedly. "You must get another father, my lad!"

Pelle did not feel inclined for chaff, so he slipped away. Besides,
he must go back and get to work; the young master, who was busily
going from cart to cart, ordering meat, had called to him. They hung
together like the halves of a pea-pod when it was a question of
keeping the apprentices on the curb, although otherwise they were
jealous enough of one another.

Bjerregrav's crutch stood behind the door, and he himself sat
in stiff funereal state by the window; he held a folded white
handkerchief in his folded hands, and was diligently mopping
his eyes.

"Was he perhaps a relation of yours?" said the young master slyly.

"No; but it is so sad for those who are left--a wife and children.
There is always some one to mourn and regret the dead. Man's life
is a strange thing, Andres."

"Ah, and potatoes are bad this year, Bjerregrav!"

Neighbor Jorgen filled up the whole doorway. "Lord, here we have
that blessed Bjerregrav!" he shouted; "and in state, too! What's
on to-day then--going courting, are you?"

"I've been following!" answered Bjerregrav, in a hushed voice.

The big baker made an involuntary movement; he did not like being
unexpectedly reminded of death. "You, Bjerregrav, you ought to be
a hearse-driver; then at least you wouldn't work to no purpose!"

"It isn't to no purpose when they are dead," stammered Bjerregrav.
"I am not so poor that I need much, and there is no one who stands
near to me. No living person loses anything because I follow those
who die. And then I know them all, and I've followed them all in
thought since they were born," he added apologetically.

"If only you got invited to the funeral feast and got something
of all the good things they have to eat," continued the baker,
"I could understand it better."

"The poor widow, who sits there with her four little ones and
doesn't know how she's to feed them--to take food from her--no,
I couldn't do it! She's had to borrow three hundred kroner so that
her man could have a respectable funeral party."

"That ought to be forbidden by law," said Master Andres; "any one
with little children hasn't the right to throw away money on the
dead."

"She is giving her husband the last honors," said Jeppe reprovingly.
"That is the duty of every good wife."

"Of course," rejoined Master Andres. "God knows, something must be
done. It's like the performances on the other side of the earth,
where the widow throws herself on the funeral pyre when the husband
dies, and has to be burned to death."

Baker Jorgen scratched his thighs and grimaced. "You are trying to
get us to swallow one of your stinking lies, Andres. You'd never get
a woman to do that, if I know anything of womankind."

But Bjerregrav knew that the shoemaker was not lying, and fluttered
his thin hands in the air, as though he were trying to keep
something invisible from touching his body. "God be thanked that we
came into the world on this island here," he said, in a low voice.
"Here only ordinary things happen, however wrongheaded they may be."

"What puzzles me is where she got all that money!" said the baker.

"She's borrowed it, of course," said Bjerregrav, in a tone of voice
that made it clear that he wanted to terminate the conversation.

Jeppe retorted contemptuously, "Who's going to lend a poor mate's
widow three hundred kroner? He might as well throw it into the sea
right away."

But Baker Jorgen gave Bjerregrav a great smack on the back. "You've
given her the money, it's you has done it; nobody else would he such
a silly sheep!" he said threateningly.

"You let me be!" stammered Bjerregrav. "I've done nothing to you!
And she has had one happy day in the midst of all her sorrow." His
hands were trembling.

"You're a goat!" said Jeppe shortly.

"What is Bjerregrav really thinking about when he stands like this
looking down into the grave?" asked the young master, in order to
divert the conversation.

"I am thinking: Now you are lying there, where you are better off
than here," said the old tailor simply.

"Yes, because Bjerregrav follows only poor people," said Jeppe,
rather contemptuously.

"I can't help it, but I'm always thinking," continued Master Andres;
"just supposing it were all a take-in! Suppose he follows them and
enjoys the whole thing--and then there's nothing! That's why I never
like to see a funeral."

"Ah, you see, that's the question--supposing there's nothing."
Baker Jorgen turned his thick body. "Here we go about imagining
a whole lot of things; but what if it's all just lies?"

"That's the mind of an unbeliever!" said Jeppe, and stamped
violently on the floor.

"God preserve my mind from unbelief!" retorted brother Jorgen,
and he stroked his face gravely. "But a man can't very well help
thinking. And what does a man see round about him? Sickness and
death and halleluiah! We live, and we live, I tell you, Brother
Jeppe--and we live in order to live! But, good heavens! all the
poor things that aren't born yet!"

He sank into thought again, as was usual with him when he thought
of Little Jorgen, who refused to come into the world and assume his
name and likeness, and carry on after him.... There lay his belief;
there was nothing to be done about it. And the others began to speak
in hushed voices, in order not to disturb his memories.

Pelle, who concerned himself with everything in heaven and earth,
had been absorbing every word that was spoken with his protruding
ears, but when the conversation turned upon death he yawned. He
himself had never been seriously ill, and since Mother Bengta died,
death had never encroached upon his world. And that was lucky for
him, as it would have been a case of all or nothing, for he had only
Father Lasse. For Pelle the cruel hands of death hardly existed,
and he could not understand how people could lay themselves down
with their noses in the air; there was so much to observe here
below--the town alone kept one busy.

On the very first evening he had run out to look for the other boys,
just where the crowd was thickest. There was no use in waiting;
Pelle was accustomed to take the bull by the horns, and he longed
to be taken into favor.

"What sort of brat is that?" they said, flocking round him.

"I'm Pelle," he said, standing confidently in the midst of the
group, and looking at them all. "I have been at Stone Farm since
I was eight, and that is the biggest farm in the north country."
He had put his hands in his pockets, and spat coolly in front of
him, for that was nothing to what he had in reserve.

"Oh, so you're a farmer chap, then!" said one, and the others
laughed. Rud was among them.

"Yes," said Pelle; "and I've done a bit of ploughing, and mowing
fodder for the calves."

They winked at one another. "Are you really a farmer chap?"

"Yes, truly," replied Pelle, perplexed; they had spoken the word
in a tone which he now remarked.

They all burst out laughing: "He confesses it himself. And he comes
from the biggest farm in the country. Then he's the biggest farmer
in the country!"

"No, the farmer was called Kongstrup," said Pelle emphatically.
"I was only the herd-boy."

They roared with laughter. "He doesn't see it now! Why, Lord,
that's the biggest farmer's lout!"

Pelle had not yet lost his head, for he had heavier ammunition, and
now he was about to play a trump. "And there at the farm there was
a man called Erik, who was so strong that he could thrash three men,
but the bailiff was stronger still; and he gave Erik such a blow
that he lost his senses."

"Oh, indeed! How did he manage that? Can you hit a farmer chap
so that he loses his senses? Who was it hit you like that?" The
questions rained upon him.

Pelle pushed the boy who had asked the last question, and fixed his
eyes upon his. But the rascal let fly at him again. "Take care of
your best clothes," he said, laughing. "Don't crumple your cuffs!"

Pelle had put on a clean blue shirt, of which the neckband and
wristbands had to serve as collar and cuffs. He knew well enough
that he was clean and neat, and now they were being smart at his
expense on that very account.

"And what sort of a pair of Elbe barges has he got on? Good Lord!
Why, they'd fill half the harbor!" This was in reference to
Kongstrup's shoes. Pelle had debated with himself as to whether he
should wear them on a week-day. "When did you celebrate hiring-day?"
asked a third. This was in reference to his fat red cheeks.

Now he was ready to jump out of his skin, and cast his eyes around
to see if there was nothing with which he could lay about him, for
this would infallibly end in an attack upon the whole party. Pelle
already had them all against him.

But just then a long, thin lad came forward. "Have you a pretty
sister?" he asked.

"I have no sisters at all," answered Pelle shortly.

"That's a shame. Well, can you play hide-and-seek?"

Of course Pelle could!

"Well, then, play!" The thin boy pushed Pelle's cap over his eyes,
and turned him with his face against the plank fence. "Count to a
hundred--and no cheating, I tell you!"

No, Pelle would not cheat--he would neither look nor count short--
so much depended on this beginning. But he solemnly promised
himself to use his legs to some purpose; they should all be caught,
one after another! He finished his counting and took his cap from
his eyes. No one was to be seen. "Say 'peep'!" he cried; but no
one answered. For half an hour Pelle searched among timbers and
warehouses, and at last he slipped away home and to bed. But he
dreamed, that night, that he caught them all, and they elected
him as their leader for all future time.

The town did not meet him with open arms, into which he could fall,
with his childlike confidence, and be carried up the ladder. Here,
apparently, one did not talk about the heroic deeds which elsewhere
gave a man foothold; here such things merely aroused scornful
laughter. He tried it again and again, always with something new,
but the answer was always the same--"Farmer!" His whole little
person was overflowing with good-will, and he became deplorably
dejected.

Pelle soon perceived that his whole store of ammunition was
crumbling between his hands, and any respect he had won at home,
on the farm or in the village, by his courage and good nature,
went for nothing here. Here other qualities counted; there was a
different jargon, the clothes were different, and people went about
things in a different way. Everything he had valued was turned to
ridicule, even down to his pretty cap with its ear-flaps and its
ribbon adorned with representations of harvest implements. He had
come to town so calmly confident in himself--to make the painful
discovery that he was a laughable object! Every time he tried to
make one of a party, he was pushed to one side; he had no right
to speak to others; he must take the hindmost rank!

Nothing remained to him but to sound the retreat all along the line
until he had reached the lowest place of all. And hard as this was
for a smart youngster who was burning to set his mark on everything,
Pelle did it, and confidently prepared to scramble up again. However
sore his defeat, he always retained an obstinate feeling of his own
worth, which no one could take away from him. He was persuaded that
the trouble lay not with himself but with all sorts of things about
him, and he set himself restlessly to find out the new values and
to conduct a war of elimination against himself. After every defeat
he took himself unweariedly to task, and the next evening he would
go forth once more, enriched by so many experiences, and would
suffer defeat at a new point. He wanted to conquer--but what must
he not sacrifice first? He knew of nothing more splendid than to
march resoundingly through the streets, his legs thrust into Lasse's
old boots--this was the essence of manliness. But he was man enough
to abstain from so doing--for here such conduct would be regarded
as boorish. It was harder for him to suppress his past; it was so
inseparable from Father Lasse that he was obsessed by a sense of
unfaithfulness. But there was no alternative; if he wanted to get
on he must adapt himself in everything, in prejudices and opinions
alike. But he promised himself to flout the lot of them so soon as
he felt sufficiently high-spirited.

What distressed him most was the fact that his handicraft was so
little regarded. However accomplished he might become, the cobbler
was, and remained, a poor creature with a pitchy snout and a big
behind! Personal performance counted for nothing; it was obvious
that he must as soon as possible escape into some other walk of
life.

But at least he was in the town, and as one of its inhabitants--
there was no getting over that. And the town seemed still as great
and as splendid, although it had lost the look of enchantment it
once had, when Lasse and he had passed through it on their way to
the country. Most of the people wore their Sunday clothes, and many
sat still and earned lots of money, but no one knew how. All roads
came hither, and the town swallowed everything: pigs and corn and
men--everything sooner or later found its harbor here! The Sow lived
here with Rud, who was now apprenticed to a painter, and the twins
were here! And one day Pelle saw a tall boy leaning against a door
and bellowing at the top of his voice, his arms over his face, while
a couple of smaller boys were thrashing him; it was Howling Peter,
who was cook's boy on a vessel. Everything flowed into the town!

But Father Lasse--he was not here!



IV

There was something about the town that made it hard to go to bed
and hard to get up. In the town there was no sunrise shining over
the earth and waking everybody. The open face of morning could not
be seen indoors. And the dying day poured no evening weariness into
one's limbs, driving them to repose; life seemed here to flow in
the reverse direction, for here people grew lively at night!

About half-past six in the morning the master, who slept downstairs,
would strike the ceiling with his stick. Pelle, whose business it
was to reply, would mechanically sit up and strike the side of the
bedstead with his clenched fist. Then, still sleeping, he would fall
back again. After a while the process was repeated. But then the
master grew impatient. "Devil take it! aren't you going to get up
to-day?" he would bellow. "Is this to end in my bringing you your
coffee in bed?" Drunken with sleep, Pelle would tumble out of bed.
"Get up, get up!" he would cry, shaking the others. Jens got nimbly
on his feet; he always awoke with a cry of terror, guarding his
head; but Emil and Peter, who were in the hobbledehoy stage,
were terribly difficult to wake.

Pelle would hasten downstairs, and begin to set everything in order,
filling the soaking-tub and laying a sand-heap by the window-bench
for the master to spit into. He bothered no further about the others;
he was in a morning temper himself. On the days when he had to
settle right away into the cobbler's hunch, without first running
a few early errands or doing a few odd tasks, it took hours to thaw
him.

He used to look round to see whether on the preceding evening he
had made a chalk-mark in any conspicuous place; for then there must
be something that he had to remember. Memory was not his strong
point, hence this ingenious device. Then it was only a matter of not
forgetting what the mark stood for; if he forgot, he was no better
off than before.

When the workshop was tidy, he would hurry downstairs and run out
for Madame, to fetch morning rolls "for themselves." He himself was
given a wheaten biscuit with his coffee, which he drank out in the
kitchen, while the old woman went grumbling to and fro. She was dry
as a mummy and moved about bent double, and when she was not using
her hands she carried one forearm pressed against her midriff. She
was discontented with everything, and was always talking of the
grave. "My two eldest are overseas, in America and Australia;
I shall never see them again. And here at home two menfolk go
strutting about doing nothing and expecting to be waited on. Andres,
poor fellow, isn't strong, and Jeppe's no use any longer; he can't
even keep himself warm in bed nowadays. But they know how to ask for
things, that they do, and they let me go running all over the place
without any help; I have to do everything myself. I shall truly
thank God when at last I lie in my grave. What are you standing
there for with your mouth and your eyes wide open? Get away with
you!" Thereupon Pelle would finish his coffee--it was sweetened
with brown sugar--out of doors, by the workshop window.

In the mornings, before the master appeared, there was no great
eagerness to work; they were all sleepy still, looking forward to
a long, dreary day. The journeyman did not encourage them to work;
he had a difficulty in finding enough for himself. So they sat there
wool-gathering, striking a few blows with the hammer now and then
for appearance's sake, and one or another would fall asleep again
over the table. They all started when three blows were struck on
the wall as a signal for Pelle.

"What are you doing? It seems to me you are very idle in there!"
the master would say, staring suspiciously at Pelle. But Pelle had
remarked what work each was supposed to have in hand, and would run
over it all. "What day's this--Thursday? Damnation take it! Tell
that Jens he's to put aside Manna's uppers and begin on the pilot's
boots this moment--they were promised for last Monday." The master
would struggle miserably to get his breath: "Ah, I've had a bad
night, Pelle, a horrible night; I was so hot, with such a ringing
in my ears. New blood is so devilishly unruly; it's all the time
boiling in my head like soda-water. But it's a good thing I'm making
it, God knows; I used to be so soon done up. Do you believe in Hell?
Heaven, now, that's sheer nonsense; what happiness can we expect
elsewhere if we can't be properly happy here? But do you believe in
Hell? I dreamed I'd spat up the last bit of my lungs and that I went
to Hell. 'What the devil d'you want here, Andres?' they asked me;
'your heart is still whole!' And they wouldn't have me. But what
does that signify? I can't breathe with my heart, so I'm dying.
And what becomes of me then? Will you tell me that?

"There's something that bids a man enter again into his mother's
womb; now if only a man could do that, and come into the world again
with two sound legs, you'd see me disappear oversea double-quick,
whoop! I wouldn't stay messing about here any longer.... Well, have
you seen your navel yet to-day? Yes, you ragamuffin, you laugh; but
I'm in earnest. It would pay you well if you always began the day
by contemplating your navel."

The master was half serious, half jesting. "Well, now, you can fetch
me my port wine; it's on the shelf, behind the box with the laces in
it. I'm deadly cold."

Pelle came back and announced that the bottle was empty. The master
looked at him mildly.

"Then run along and get me another. I've no money--you must say--
well, think it out for yourself; you've got a head." The master
looked at him with an expression which went to Pelle's heart, so
that he often felt like bursting into tears. Hitherto Pelle's life
had been spent on the straight highway; he did not understand this
combination of wit and misery, roguishness and deadly affliction.
But he felt something of the presence of the good God, and trembled
inwardly; he would have died for the young master.

When the weather was wet it was difficult for the sick man to get
about; the cold pulled him down. If he came into the workshop,
freshly washed and with his hair still wet, he would go over to the
cold stove, and stand there, stamping his feet. His cheeks had quite
fallen in. "I've so little blood for the moment," he said at such
times, "but the new blood is on the way; it sings in my ears every
night." Then he would be silent a while. "There, by my soul, we've
got a piece of lung again," he said, and showed Pelle, who stood at
the stove brushing shoes, a gelatinous lump. "But they grow again
afterward!"

"The master will soon be in his thirtieth year," said the
journeyman; "then the dangerous time is over."

"Yes, deuce take it--if only I can hang together so long--only
another six months," said the master eagerly, and he looked at Pelle,
as though Pelle had it in his power to help him; "only another six
months! Then the whole body renews itself--new lungs--everything new.
But new legs, God knows, I shall never get."

A peculiar, secret understanding grew up between Pelle and the
master; it did not manifest itself in words, but in glances, in
tones of the voice, and in the whole conduct of each. When Pelle
stood behind him, it was as though even the master's leather jacket
emitted a feeling of warmth, and Pelle followed him with his eyes
whenever and wherever he could, and the master's behavior to Pelle
was different from his behavior to the others.

When, on his return from running errands in the town, he came to
the corner, he was delighted to see the young master standing in
the doorway, tightly grasping his stick, with his lame leg in an
easy position. He stood there, sweeping his eyes from side to side,
gazing longingly into the distance. This was his place when he was
not indoors, sitting over some book of adventure. But Pelle liked
him to stand there, and as he slipped past he would hang his head
shyly, for it often happened that the master would clutch his
shoulder, so hard that it hurt, and shake him to and fro, and would
say affectionately: "Oh, you limb of Satan!" This was the only
endearment that life had vouchsafed Pelle, and he sunned himself
in it.

Pelle could not understand the master, nor did he understand his
sighs and groans. The master never went out, save as an exception,
when he was feeling well; then he would hobble across to the
beerhouse and make up a party, but as a rule his travels ended at
the house door. There he would stand, looking about him a little,
and then he would hobble indoors again, with that infectious good
humor which transformed the dark workshop into a grove full of
the twittering of birds. He had never been abroad, and he felt no
craving to go; but in spite of this his mind and his speech roamed
over the whole wide world, so that Pelle at times felt like falling
sick from sheer longing. He demanded nothing more than health of
the future, and adventures hovered all about him; one received the
impression that happiness itself had fluttered to earth and settled
upon him. Pelle idolized him, but did not understand him. The
master, who at one moment would make sport of his lame leg and the
next moment forget that he had one, or jest about his poverty as
though he were flinging good gold pieces about him--this was a man
Pelle could not fathom. He was no wiser when he secretly looked into
the books which Master Andres read so breathlessly; he would have
been content with a much more modest adventure than a journey to the
North Pole or the center of the earth, if only he himself could have
been of the party.

He had no opportunity to sit still and indulge in fancies. Every
moment it was, "Pelle, run and do something or other!" Everything
was purchased in small quantities, although it was obtained on
credit. "Then it doesn't run up so," Jeppe used to say; it was all
the same to Master Andres. The foreman's young woman came running
in; she absolutely must have her young lady's shoes; they were
promised for Monday. The master had quite forgotten them. "They are
in hand now," he said, undaunted. "To the devil with you, Jens!" And
Jens had hastily thrust a pair of lasts into the shoes, while Master
Andres went outside with the girl, and joked with her on the landing,
in order to smooth her down. "Just a few nails, so that they'll
hang together," said the master to Jens. And then, "Pelle, out you
go, as quick as your legs will carry you! Say we'll send for them
early to-morrow morning and finish them properly! But run as though
the devil were at your heels!"

Pelle ran, and when he returned, just as he was slipping into his
leather apron, he had to go out again. "Pelle, run out and borrow a
few brass nails--then we needn't buy any to-day. Go to Klausen--no,
go to Blom, rather; you've been to Klausen already this morning."

"Blom's are angry about the screw-block!" said Pelle.

"Death and all the devils! We must see about putting it in repair
and returning it; remember that, and take it with you to the smith's.
Well, what in the world shall we do?" The young master stared
helplessly from one to another.

"Shoemaker Marker," suggested little Nikas.

"We don't borrow from Marker," and the master wrinkled his forehead.
"Marker's a louse!" Marker had succeeded in stealing one of the
oldest customers of the workshop.

"There isn't salt to eat an egg!"

"Well, what _shall_ I do?" asked Pelle, somewhat impatiently.

The master sat for a while in silence. "Well, take it, then!" he
cried, and threw a krone toward Pelle; "I have no peace from you
so long as I've got a farthing in my pocket, you demon! Buy a packet
and pay back Klausen and Blom what we've borrowed."

"But then they'd see we've got a whole packet," said Pelle.

"Besides, they owe us lots of other things that they've borrowed
of us." Pelle showed circumspection in his dealings.

"What a rogue!" said the master, and he settled himself to read.
"Lord above us, what a gallows-bird!" He looked extremely contented.

And after a time it was once more, "Pelle, run out, etc."

The day was largely passed in running errands, and Pelle was not
one to curtail them; he had no liking for the smelly workshop and
its wooden chairs. There was so much to be fetched and carried, and
Pelle considered these errands to be his especial duty; when he had
nothing else to do he roved about like a young puppy, and thrust his
nose into everything. Already the town had no more secrets from him.

There was in Pelle an honorable streak which subdued the whole.
But hitherto he had suffered only defeat; he had again and again
sacrificed his qualities and accomplishments, without so far
receiving anything in return. His timidity and distrust he had
stripped from him indoors, where it was of importance that he should
open his defences on all sides, and his solid qualities he was on
the point of sacrificing on the altar of the town as boorish. But
the less protection he possessed the more he gained in intrepidity,
so he went about out-of-doors undauntedly--the town should be
conquered. He was enticed out of the safe refuge of his shell,
and might easily be gobbled up.

The town had lured him from the security of his lair, but in other
matters he was the same good little fellow--most people would have
seen no difference in him, except that he had grown taller. But
Father Lasse would have wept tears of blood to see his boy as he
now walked along the streets, full of uncertainty and uneasy
imitativeness, wearing his best coat on a workday, and yet
disorderly in his dress.

Yonder he goes, sauntering along with a pair of boots, his fingers
thrust through the string of the parcel, whistling with an air of
bravado. Now and again he makes a grimace and moves cautiously--when
his trousers rub the sensitive spots of his body. He has had a
bad day. In the morning he was passing a smithy, and allowed the
splendid display of energy within, half in the firelight and half
in the shadow, to detain him. The flames and the clanging of the
metal, the whole lively uproar of real work, fascinated him, and he
had to go in and ask whether there was an opening for an apprentice.
He was not so stupid as to tell them where he came from, but when
he got home, Jeppe had already been told of it! But that is soon
forgotten, unless, indeed, his trousers rub against his sore places.
Then he remembers it; remembers that in this world everything has
to be paid for; there is no getting out of things; once one begins
anything one has to eat one's way through it, like the boy in
the fairy-tale. And this discovery is, in the abstract, not so
strikingly novel to Pelle.

He has, as always, chosen the longest way, rummaging about back
yards and side streets, where there is a possibility of adventure;
and all at once he is suddenly accosted by Albinus, who is now
employed by a tradesman. Albinus is not amusing. He has no right
to play and loiter about the warehouse in the aimless fashion that
is possible out-of-doors; nor to devote himself to making a ladder
stand straight up in the air while he climbs up it. Not a word can
be got out of him, although Pelle does his best; so he picks up
a handful of raisins and absconds.

Down at the harbor he boards a Swedish vessel, which has just
arrived with a cargo of timber. "Have you anything for us to do?"
he asks, holding one hand behind him, where his trousers have a
hole in them.

"Klausen's apprentice has just been here and got what there was,"
replied the skipper.

"That's a nuisance--you ought to have given it to us," says Pelle.
"Have you got a clay pipe?"

"Yes--just you come here!" The skipper reaches for a rope's end,
but Pelle escapes and runs ashore.

"Will you give me a thrashing now?" he cries, jeering.

"You shall have a clay pipe if you'll run and get me half a krone's
worth of chewing 'bacca."

"What will it cost?" asks Pelle, with an air of simplicity. The
skipper reaches for his rope's end again, but Pelle is off already.

"Five ore worth of chewing tobacco, the long kind," he cries, before
he gets to the door even. "But it must be the very best, because
it's for an invalid." He throws the money on the counter and puts
on a cheeky expression.

Old Skipper Lau rises by the aid of his two sticks and hands Pelle
the twist; his jaws are working like a mill, and all his limbs are
twisted with gout. "Is it for some one lying-in?" he asks slyly.

Pelle breaks off the stem of the clay pipe, lest it should stick out
of his pocket, boards the salvage steamer, and disappears forward.
After a time he reappears from under the cabin hatchway, with a
gigantic pair of sea-boots and a scrap of chewing tobacco. Behind
the deck-house he bites a huge mouthful off the brown Cavendish,
and begins to chew courageously, which makes him feel tremendously
manly. But near the furnace where the ship's timbers are bent he
has to unload his stomach; it seems as though all his inward parts
are doing their very utmost to see how matters would be with them
hanging out of his mouth. He drags himself along, sick as a cat,
with thumping temples; but somewhere or other inside him a little
feeling of satisfaction informs him that one has to undergo the most
dreadful consequences in order to perform any really heroic deed.

In most respects the harbor, with its stacks of timber and its
vessels on the slips, is just as fascinating as it was on the day
when Pelle lay on the shavings and guarded Father Lasse's sack. The
black man with the barking hounds still leans from the roof of the
harbor warehouse, but the inexplicable thing is that one could ever
have been frightened of him. But Pelle is in a hurry.

He runs a few yards, but he must of necessity stop when he comes to
the old quay. There the "strong man," the "Great Power," is trimming
some blocks of granite. He is tanned a coppery brown with wind and
sun, and his thick black hair is full of splinters of granite; he
wears only a shirt and canvas trousers, and the shirt is open on
his powerful breast; but it lies close on his back, and reveals the
play of his muscles. Every time he strikes a blow the air whistles--
_whew!_--and the walls and timber-stacks echo the sound. People
come hurrying by, stop short at a certain distance, and stand there
looking on. A little group stands there all the time, newcomers
taking the place of those that move on, like spectators in front of
a cage of lions. It is as though they expect something to happen--
something that will stagger everybody and give the bystanders a good
fright.

Pelle goes right up to the "Great Power." The "strong man" is the
father of Jens, the second youngest apprentice. "Good-day," he says
boldly, and stands right in the giant's shadow. But the stonecutter
pushes him to one side without looking to see who it is, and
continues to hew at the granite: _whew! whew!_

"It is quite a long time now since he has properly used his
strength," says an old townsman. "Is he quieting down, d'you
think?"

"He must have quieted down for good," says another. "The town ought
to see that he keeps quiet." And they move on, and Pelle must move
on, too--anywhere, where no one can see him.

  "Cobbler, wobbler, groats in your gruel,
  Smack on your back goes the stick--how cruel!"

It is those accursed street-urchins. Pelle is by no means in a
warlike humor; he pretends not to see them. But they come up close
behind him and tread on his heels, and before he knows what is
happening they are upon him. The first he knows about it is that he
is lying in the gutter, on his back, with all three on top of him.
He has fallen alongside of the curbstone and cannot move; he is
faint, too, as a result of his indiscretion; the two biggest boys
spread his arms wide open on the flagstones and press them down with
all their might, while the third ventures to deal with his face.
It is a carefully planned outrage, and all Pelle can do is to twist
his head round under the blows--and for once he is thankful for his
disgracefully fat cheeks.

Then, in his need, a dazzling apparition appears before him;
standing in the doorway yonder is a white baker's boy, who is
royally amused. It is no other than Nilen, the wonderful little
devil Nilen, of his schooldays, who was always fighting everybody
like a terrier and always came out of it with a whole skin. Pelle
shuts his eyes and blushes for himself, although he knows perfectly
well that this is only an apparition.

But then a wonderful thing happens; the apparition leaps down into
the gutter, slings the boys to one side, and helps him to his feet.
Pelle recognizes the grip of those fingers--even in his schooldays
they were like claws of iron.

And soon he is sitting behind the oven, on Nilen's grimy bed. "So
you've become a cobbler?" says Nilen, to begin with, compassionately,
for he feels a deucedly smart fellow himself in his fine white
clothes, with his bare arms crossed over his naked breast. Pelle
feels remarkably comfortable; he has been given a slice of bread and
cream, and he decides that the world is more interesting than ever.
Nilen is chewing manfully, and spitting over the end of the bed.

"Do you chew?" asks Pelle, and hastens to offer him the
leaf-tobacco.

"Yes, we all do; a fellow has to when he works all night."

Pelle cannot understand how people can keep going day and night.

"All the bakers in Copenhagen do--so that the people can get fresh
bread in the morning--and our master wants to introduce it here. But
it isn't every one can do it; the whole staff had to be reorganized.
It's worst about midnight, when everything is turning round. Then it
comes over you so that you keep on looking at the time, and the very
moment the clock strikes twelve we all hold our breath, and then no
one can come in or go out any more. The master himself can't stand
the night shift; the 'baccy turns sour in his mouth and he has to
lay it on the table. When he wakes up again he thinks it's a raisin
and sticks it in the dough. What's the name of your girl?"

For a moment Pelle's thoughts caress the three daughters of old
Skipper Elleby--but no, none of them shall be immolated. No, he
has no girl.

"Well, you get one, then you needn't let them sit on you. I'm
flirting a bit just now with the master's daughter--fine girl, she
is, quite developed already--you know! But we have to look out when
the old man's about!"

"Then are you going to marry her when you are a journeyman?" asks
Pelle, with interest.

"And have a wife and kids on my back? You are a duffer, Pelle! No
need to trouble about that! But a woman--well, that's only for when
a man's bored. See?" He stretches himself, yawning.

Nilen has become quite a young man, but a little crude in his
manner of expressing himself. He sits there and looks at Pelle
with a curious expression in his eyes. "Cobbler's patch!" he says
contemptuously, and thrusts his tongue into his cheek so as to make
it bulge. Pelle says nothing; he knows he cannot thrash Nilen.

Nilen has lit his pipe and is lying on his back in bed--with his
muddy shoes on--chattering. "What's your journeyman like? Ours is
a conceited ass. The other day I had to fetch him a box on the ears,
he was so saucy. I've learned the Copenhagen trick of doing it;
it soon settles a man. Only you want to keep your head about it."
A deuce of a fellow, this Nilen, he is so grown up! Pelle feels
smaller and smaller.

But suddenly Nilen jumps up in the greatest hurry. Out in the bakery
a sharp voice is calling. "Out of the window--to the devil with you!"
he yelps--"the journeyman!" And Pelle has to get through the window,
and is so slow about it that his boots go whizzing past him. While
he is jumping down he hears the well-known sound of a ringing box
on the ear.

When Pelle returned from his wanderings he was tired and languid;
the stuffy workshop did not seem alluring. He was dispirited, too;
for the watchmaker's clock told him that he had been three hours
away. He could not believe it.

The young master stood at the front door, peeping out, still in his
leather jacket and apron of green baize; he was whistling softly to
himself, and looked like a grown fledgling that did not dare to let
itself tumble out of the nest. A whole world of amazement lay in his
inquiring eyes.

"Have you been to the harbor again, you young devil?" he asked,
sinking his claws into Pelle.

"Yes." Pelle was properly ashamed.

"Well, what's going on there? What's the news?"

So Pelle had to tell it all on the stairs; how there was a Swedish
timber ship whose skipper's wife was taken with childbirth out at
sea, and how the cook had to deliver her; of a Russian vessel which
had run into port with a mutiny on board; and anything else that
might have happened. To-day there were only these boots. "They are
from the salvage steamer--they want soling."

"H'm!" The master looked at them indifferently. "Is the schooner
_Andreas_ ready to sail?"

But that Pelle did not know.

"What sort of a sheep's head have you got, then? Haven't you any
eyes in it? Well, well, go and get me three bottles of beer! Only
stick them under your blouse so that father don't see, you monster!"
The master was quite good-tempered again.

Then Pelle got into his apron and buckled on the knee-strap.
Everybody was bending over his work, and Master Andres was reading;
no sound was to be heard but those produced by the workers, and now
and again a word of reprimand from the journeyman.

Every second afternoon, about five o'clock, the workshop door would
open slightly, and a naked, floury arm introduced the newspaper and
laid it on the counter. This was the baker's son, Soren, who never
allowed himself to be seen; he moved about from choice like a thief
in the night. If the master--as he occasionally did--seized him and
pulled him into the workshop, he was like a scared faun strayed from
his thickets; he would stand with hanging head, concealing his eyes,
and no one could get a word from him; and when he saw an opportunity,
he would slip away.

The arrival of the newspaper caused quite a small commotion in the
workshop. When the master felt inclined, he would read aloud--of
calves with two heads and four pairs of legs; of a pumpkin that
weighed fifty pounds; of the fattest man in the world; of fatalities
due to the careless handling of firearms, or of snakes in Martinique.
The dazzling wonder of the whole world passed like a pageant,
filling the dark workshop; the political news was ignored. If the
master happened to be in one of his desperate humors, he would read
the most damnable nonsense: of how the Atlantic Ocean had caught
fire, so that the people were living on boiled codfish; or how the
heavens had got torn over America, so that angels fell right on to
somebody's supper-tray. Things which one knew at once for lies--and
blasphemous nonsense, too, which might at any time have got him
into trouble. Rowing people was not in the master's line, he was
ill the moment there was any unpleasantness; but he had his own way
of making himself respected. As he went on reading some one would
discover that he was getting a wigging, and would give a jump,
believing that all his failings were in the paper.

When the time drew near for leaving off work, a brisker note sounded
in the workshop. The long working-day was coming to an end, and the
day's weariness and satiety were forgotten, and the mind looked
forward--filling with thoughts of the sand-hills or the woods,
wandering down a road that was bright with pleasure. Now and again
a neighbor would step in, and while away the time with his gossip;
something or other had happened, and Master Andres, who was so
clever, must say what he thought about it. Sounds that had been
confused during the day now entered the workshop, so that those
within felt that they were participating in the life of the town;
it was as though the walls had fallen.

About seven o'clock a peculiar sound was heard in the street
without, approaching in very slowly _tempo;_ there was a dull
thump and then two clacking sounds; and then came the thump again,
like the tread of a huge padded foot, and once more the clack-clack.
This was old Bjerregrav, swinging toward the workshop on his
crutches; Bjerregrav, who moved more slowly than anybody, and got
forward more quickly. If Master Andres happened to be in one of his
bad humors, he would limp away, in order not to remain in the same
room with a cripple; at other times he was glad to see Bjerregrav.

"Well, you are a rare bird, aren't you?" he would cry, when
Bjerregrav reached the landing and swung himself sideways through
the door; and the old man would laugh--he had paid this visit daily
now for many years. The master took no further notice of him, but
went on reading; and Bjerregrav sank into his dumb pondering; his
pale hands feeling one thing after another, as though the most
everyday objects were unknown to him. He took hold of things just
as a newborn child might have done; one had to smile at him and
leave him to sit there, grubbing about like the child he really was.
It was quite impossible to hold a continuous conversation with him;
for even if he did actually make an observation it was sure to be
quite beside the mark; Bjerregrav was given to remarking attributes
which no one else noticed, or which no one would have dwelt upon.

When he sat thus, pondering over and fingering some perfectly
familiar object, people used to say, "Now Bjerregrav's questioning
fit is coming on!" For Bjerregrav was an inquirer; he would ask
questions about the wind and the weather, and even the food that
he ate. He would ask questions about the most laughable subjects--
things that were self-evident to any one else--why a stone was hard,
or why water extinguished fire. People did not answer him, but
shrugged their shoulders compassionately. "He is quite all there,"
they would say; "his head's all right. But he takes everything the
wrong way round!"

The young master looked up from his book. "Now, shall I inherit
Bjerregrav's money?" he asked mischievously.

"No--you've always been good to me; I don't want to cause you any
misfortune."

"Worse things than that might befall me, don't you think?"

"No, for you've got a fair competence. No one has a right to more,
so long as the many suffer need."

"Certain people have money in the bank themselves," said Master
Andres allusively.

"No, that's all over," answered the old man cheerfully. "I'm
now exactly as rich as you."

"The devil! Have you run through the lot?" The young master turned
round on his chair.

"You and your 'run through it all'! You always sit over me like
a judge and accuse me of things! I'm not conscious of having done
anything wrong; but it's true that the need gets worse every winter.
It's a burden to have money, Andres, when men are hungry all about
you; and if you help them then you learn afterward that you've done
the man injury; they say it themselves, so it must be true. But now
I've given the money to the Charity Organization Society, so now it
will go to the right people."

"Five thousand kroner!" said the master, musing. "Then there ought
to be great rejoicing among the poor this winter."

"Well, they won't get it direct in food and firing," said
Bjerregrav, "but it will come to them just as well in other ways.
For when I'd made my offer to the Society, Shipowner Monsen--you
know him--came to me, and begged me to lend him the money at one
year. He would have gone bankrupt if he hadn't had it, and it was
terrible to think of all the poor people who would have gone without
bread if that great business of his had come to a standstill. Now
the responsibility falls on me. But the money is safe enough, and
in that way it does the poor twice as much good."

Master Andres shook his head. "Suppose Bjerregrav has just sat
himself down in the nettles?"

"Why? But what else could I have done?" said the old man uneasily.

"The devil knows it won't be long before he's bankrupt. He's a
frothy old rogue," murmured the master. "Has Bjerregrav got a note
of hand?"

The old man nodded; he was quite proud of himself.

"And interest? Five per cent.?"

"No, no interest. For money to stand out and receive interest--I
don't like that. It has to suck the interest somewhere or other,
and of course it's from the poor. Interest is blood-money, Andres
--and it's a new-fangled contrivance, too. When I was young we knew
nothing about getting interest on our money."

"Yes, yes:

  'Who gives to other folks his bread
  And after suffers in their stead,
  Why club him, club him, club him dead!'"

said the master, and went on reading.

Bjerregrav sat there sunk in his own thoughts. Suddenly he looked up.

"Can you, who are so well read, tell me what keeps the moon from
falling? I lay overnight puzzling over it, so as I couldn't sleep.
She wanders and wanders through the sky, and you can see plainly
there's nothing but air under her."

"The devil may know," said Master Andres thoughtfully. "She must
have strength of her own, so that she holds herself up."

"I've thought that myself--for obligation isn't enough. Now we can
do that--we walk and walk where we are put down, but then we've the
earth under us to support us. And you are always studying, aren't
you? I suppose you have read nearly all the books in the world?"
Bjerregrav took the master's book and felt it thoroughly. "That's
a good book," he said, striking his knuckles against the cover and
holding the book to his ear; "good material, that. Is it a lying
story or a history book?"

"It's a travel book. They go up to the North Pole, and they get
frozen in, and they don't know if they'll ever get home alive
again."

"But that's terrible--that people should risk their lives so.
I've often thought about that--what it's like at the end of the
world--but to go and find out--no, I should never have had the
courage. Never to get home again!" Bjerregrav, with an afflicted
expression, looked first at one, then at another.

"And they get frost-bite in their feet--and their toes have to be
amputated--in some cases, the whole foot."

"No, be quiet! So they lose their health, poor fellows!--I don't
want to hear any more!" The old man sat rocking himself to and
fro, as though he felt unwell. But a few moments later he asked
inquisitively: "Did the king send them up there to make war?"

"No; they went to look for the Garden of Eden. One of the people who
investigate writings has discovered that it is said to lie behind
the ice," declared the master solemnly.

"The Garden of Eden--or they call it Paradise, too--but that lies
where the two rivers fall into a third, in the East! That is quite
plainly written. Consequently what you read there is false teaching."

"It's at the North Pole, God's truth it is!" said the master, who
was inclined to be a free-thinker; "God's truth, I tell you! The
other's just a silly superstition."

Bjerregrav maintained an angry silence. He sat for some time bending
low in his chair, his eyes roaming anywhere so that they did not
meet another's. "Yes, yes," he said, in a low voice; "everybody
thinks something new in order to make himself remarkable, but no
one can alter the grave."

Master Andres wriggled impatiently to and fro; he could change
his mood like a woman. Bjerregrav's presence began to distress him.
"Now, I've learned to conjure up spirits; will Bjerregrav make
the experiment?" he said suddenly.

"No, not at any price!" said the old man, smiling uneasily.

But the master pointed, with two fingers, at his blinking eyes,
and gazed at him, while he uttered the conjuration.

"In the name of the Blood, in the name of the Sap, in the name of
all the Humors of the Body, the good and the bad alike, and in the
name of the Ocean," he murmured, crouching like a tom-cat.

"Stop it, I tell you! Stop it! I won't have it!" Bjerregrav was
hanging helplessly between his crutches, swinging to and fro,
with an eye to the door, but he could not wrest himself away from
the enchantment. Then, desperately, he struck down the master's
conjuring hand, and profited by the interruption of the incantation
to slip away.

The master sat there blowing upon his hand. "He struck out properly,"
he said, in surprise, turning his reddened hand with the palm inward.

Little Nikas did not respond. He was not superstitious, but he did
not like to hear ridicule cast upon the reality of things.

"What shall I do?" asked Peter.

"Are mate Jensen's boots ready?" The master looked at the clock.
"Then you can nibble your shin-bones."

It was time to stop work. The master took his stick and hat and
limped over to the beer-house to play a game of billiards; the
journeyman dressed and went out; the older apprentices washed their
necks in the soaking-tub. Presently they too would go out and have
a proper time of it.

Pelle gazed after them. He too experienced a desperate need to
shake off the oppressive day, and to escape out of doors, but his
stockings were nothing but holes, and his working-blouse had to be
washed so that it should be dry by the following morning. Yes, and
his shirt--and he blushed up to his ears--was it a fortnight he had
worn it, or was this the fourth week? The time had slipped past
so.... He had meant to defer the disagreeable business of washing
only for a few days--and now it had mounted up to fourteen! His body
had a horrible crawling feeling; was his punishment come upon him
because he had turned a deaf ear to the voice of conscience, and had
ignored Father Lasse's warning, that disgrace awaited those who did
not keep themselves clean?

No, thank God! But Pelle had received a thorough fright, and
his ears were still burning as he scrubbed his shirt and blouse
downstairs in the yard. It would be well to take it as a timely
warning from on high!

And then blouse and shirt were hanging on the fence, spreading
themselves abroad as though they wanted to hug the heavens for joy
in their cleanliness. But Pelle sat dejectedly upstairs, at the
window of the apprentices' garret, one leg outside, so that part
of him at least was in the open air. The skillful darning which his
father had taught him was not put into practice here; the holes were
simply cobbled together, so that Father Lasse would have sunk into
the earth for shame. Gradually he crept right out on to the roof;
below, in the skipper's garden, the three girls were wandering idly,
looking over toward the workshop, and evidently feeling bored.

Then they caught sight of him, and at once became different beings.
Manna came toward him, thrust her body impatiently against the stone
wall, and motioned to him with her lips. She threw her head back
imperiously, and stamped with her feet--but without making a sound.
The other two were bent double with suppressed laughter.

Pelle understood perfectly what this silent speech intended, but for
a time he courageously stood his ground. At last, however, he could
endure it no longer; he threw everything aside and next moment was
with the girls.

All Pelle's dreams and unuttered longings hovered over those places
where men disported themselves. To him nothing was more ridiculous
than to run after petticoats. Women, for Pelle, were really rather
contemptible; they had no strength, and very little intelligence;
indeed, they understood nothing but the art of making themselves
ornamental. But Manna and her sisters were something apart; he was
still enough of a child to play, and they were excellent playmates.

Manna--the wild cat--was afraid of nothing; with her short skirts
and her pigtail and her skipping movements she reminded him of a
frolicsome, inquisitive young bird--Skip! out of the thicket and
back again! She could climb like a boy, and could carry Pelle all
round the garden on her back; it was really an oversight that she
should have to wear skirts. Her clothes wouldn't keep on her, and
she was always tumbling into the workshop, having torn something
or other off her shoes. Then she would turn everything upside down,
take the master's stick away, so that he could not move, and would
even get her fingers among the journeyman's American tools.

She was on good terms with Pelle the very first day.

"Whose new boy are you?" she asked him, smacking him on the back.
And Pelle laughed, and returned her look frankly, with that
immediate comprehension which is the secret of our early years.
There was no trace of embarrassment between them; they had always
known one another, and could at any time resume their play just
where they had left off. In the evening Pelle used to station
himself by the garden wall and wait for her; then in a moment he
was over and in the middle of some game.

Manna was no ordinary cry-baby; not one who seeks to escape the
consequences of her action by a display of tears. If she let herself
in for a scuffle, she never sued for mercy, however hardly it went
with her. But Pelle was to a certain extent restrained by the fact
of her petticoats. And she, on one occasion, did not deny that she
wished she could only be a little stronger!

But she had courage, and Pelle, like a good comrade, gave as good
as he got, except in the workshop, where she bullied him. If she
assailed him from behind, dropping something down his neck or
pushing him off his wooden stool, he restrained himself, and was
merely thankful that his bones were still unbroken.

All his best hours were spent in the skipper's garden, and this
garden was a wonderful place, which might well hold his senses
captive. The girls had strange outlandish names, which their father
had brought home with him on his long voyages: Aina, Dolores, and
Sjermanna! They wore heavy beads of red coral round their necks and
in their ears. And about the garden lay gigantic conch-shells, in
which one could hear the surging of the ocean, and tortoise-shells
as big as a fifteen-pound loaf, and whole great lumps of coral.

All these things were new to Pelle, but he would not allow them to
confound him; he enrolled them as quickly as possible among the
things that were matters of course, and reserved himself the right
to encounter, at any moment, something finer and more remarkable.

But on some evenings he would disappoint the girls, and would stroll
about the town where he could see real life--or go down to the dunes
or the harbor. Then they would stand dejectedly at the garden wall,
bored and quarrelsome. But on Sundays, as soon as he had finished in
the workshop, he would faithfully appear, and they would spin out
their games, conscious of a long day in front of them. They played
games innumerable, and Pelle was the center of them all; he could
turn himself to anything; he became everything in turn--lawful
husband, cannibal, or slave. He was like a tame bear in their hands;
they would ride on him, trample all over him, and at times they
would all three fall upon him and "murder" him. And he had to lie
still, and allow them to bury his body and conceal all traces of it.
The reality of the affair was enhanced by the fact that he was
really covered with earth--all but his face, which was left bare
only from necessity--they contented themselves with covering that
with withered leaves. When he cried afterward over the state of his
fine confirmation clothes, they brushed him with solicitous hands,
and when he could scarcely be comforted they all three kissed him.
With them he was always referred to as "Manna's husband."

So Pelle's days went by. He had a certain grim humor rather than
a cheerful mind; he felt gloomy, and as though things were going
badly with him; and he had no one to lean upon. But he continued his
campaign against the town, undaunted; he thought of it night and day,
and fought, it in his sleep.

"If you're ever in a difficulty, you've always Alfred and Albinus
to help you out," Uncle Kalle had said, when Pelle was bidding him
good-bye; and he did not fail to look them up. But the twins were
to-day the same slippery, evasive customers as they were among the
pastures; they ventured their skins neither for themselves nor for
anybody else.

In other respects they had considerably improved. They had come
hither from the country in order to better their positions, and to
that end had accepted situations which would serve them until they
had saved sufficient to allow them to commence a more distinguished
career. Albinus had advanced no further, as he had no inclination
to any handicraft. He was a good-tempered youth, who was willing
to give up everything else if only he could practise his acrobatic
feats. He always went about balancing something or other, taking
pains to put all sorts of objects to the most impossible uses. He
had no respect for the order of nature; he would twist his limbs
into all imaginable positions, and if he threw anything into the air
he expected it to stay there while he did something else. "Things
must be broken in as well as animals," he would say, and persevere
indefatigably. Pelle laughed; he liked him, but he did not count on
him any further.

Alfred had struck out in quite another direction. He no longer
indulged in hand-springs, but walked decorously on his legs, had
always much ado to pull down and straighten his collar and cuffs,
and was in continual anxiety as to his clothes. He was now
apprentice to a painter, but had a parting in his hair like a
counter-jumper, and bought all sorts of things at the chemist's,
which he smeared on his hair. If Pelle ran across him in the street,
Alfred always made some excuse to shake him off; he preferred to
associate with tradesmen's apprentices, and was continually greeting
acquaintances right and left--people who were in a better position
than himself. Alfred put on airs of importance which made Pelle long
one fine day to cudgel him soundly.

The twins resembled one another in this--no one need look to them
for assistance of any kind. They laughed comfortably at the very
idea, and if any one made fun of Pelle they joined in the laughter.

It was not easy to get on. He had quite shaken off the farm-boy; it
was his poverty that gave him trouble now. He had recklessly bound
himself as apprentice for board and lodging; he had a few clothes on
his body, and he had not thought other requisites necessary for one
who did not stroll up and down and gad about with girls. But the
town demanded that he should rig himself out. Sunday clothes were
here not a bit too good for weekdays. He ought to see about getting
himself a rubber collar--which had the advantage that one could wash
it oneself; cuffs he regarded as a further desideratum. But that
needed money, and the mighty sum of five kroner, with which he had
set out to conquer the world, or, at the worst, to buy it--well, the
town had enticed it out of his pocket before he was aware of it.

Hitherto Father Lasse had taken all very difficult matters upon
himself; but now Pelle stood alone, and had only himself to rely on.
Now he stood face to face with life, and he struggled courageously
forward, like the excellent boy he was. But at times he broke down.
And this struggle was a drag upon all his boyish doings and
strivings.

In the workshop he made himself useful and tried to stand well
with everybody. He won over little Nikas by drawing a somewhat
extravagant representation of his betrothed from a photograph. The
face would not come out quite right; it looked as though some one
had trodden on it; but the clothes and the brooch at the throat were
capital. The picture hung for a week in the workshop, and brought
Pelle a wonderful piece of luck: Carlsen, who ran errands for the
stone-workers, ordered two large pictures, one of himself and one of
his wife, at the rate of twenty-five ore apiece. "But you must show
a few curls in my hair," he said, "for my mother's always wished I
had curls."

Pelle could not promise the pictures in less than two months' time;
it was tedious work if they were to be accurate.

"Well, well; we can't spare the money sooner. This month there's
the lottery, and next month the rent to pay." Pelle could very well
appreciate that, for Carlsen earned eight kroner a week and had nine
children. But he felt that he could not well reduce the price. Truly,
people weren't rolling in money here! And when for once he actually
had a shilling in hand, then it was sure to take to its heels under
his very nose, directly he began to rack his brains to decide how
it could most usefully be applied: on one such occasion, for example,
he had seen, in a huckster's window, a pipe in the form of a
boot-leg, which was quite irresistible.

When the three girls called to him over the garden wall his
childhood found companionship, and he forgot his cares and struggles.
He was rather shy of anybody seeing him when he slipped across; he
felt that his intercourse with the children was not to his credit;
moreover, they were only "petticoats." But he felt that he was lucky
to be there, where there were curious things which were useful to
play with--Chinese cups and saucers, and weapons from the South Sea
Islands. Manna had a necklace of white teeth, sharp and irregular,
strung together in a haphazard way, which she maintained were human
teeth, and she had the courage to wear them round her bare neck.
And the garden was full of wonderful plants; there were maize, and
tobacco, and all sorts of other plants, which were said, in some
parts of the world, to grow as thick as corn does at home.

They were finer of skin than other folk, and they were fragrant of
the strange places of the world. And he played with them, and they
regarded him with wonder and mended his clothes when he tore them;
they made him the center of all their games--even when he was not
present. There was a secret satisfaction in this--although he
accepted it as a matter of course, it was a portion of all that
fate and good fortune had reserved for him, a slight advance payment
from the infinite fairy-tale of life. He longed to rule over them
absolutely, and if they were obstinate he lectured them angrily, so
that they suddenly gave in to him. He knew well enough that every
proper man makes his wife behave submissively.

So passed the early summer; time was moving onward. The townsfolk
had already, at Whitsuntide, provided themselves with what they
needed for the summer, and out in the country people had other
things to think about than trapesing into town with work for the
artisans; the coming harvest occupied all their thoughts. Even in
the poorest quarters, where no work was done for the peasants, one
realized how utterly dependent the little town was upon the country.
It was as though the town had in a moment forgotten its superiority;
the manual workers no longer looked down on the peasants; they
looked longingly toward the fields, spoke of the weather and the
prospects of harvest, and had forgotten all their urban interests.
If by exception a farmer's cart came through the streets, people
ran to the window to look after it. And as the harvest stood almost
at their doors, it seemed as though old memories were calling to
them, and they raised their heads to listen; those who could gave up
their town life and went into the country to help in the work of
harvest. Both the journeyman and the two apprentices had left the
workshop; Jens and Pelle could comfortably manage the work.

Pelle saw nothing of this stagnant mood; he was occupied on all
sides in keeping a whole skin and getting the utmost out of life;
there were thousands of impressions of good and evil which had to be
assimilated, and which made a balanced whole--that remarkable thing,
the town, of which Pelle never knew whether he felt inclined to
bless it or curse it,--or it always held him in suspense.

And amidst all his activities, Lasse's face rose up before him and
made him feel lonely in the midst of the bustle. Wherever could
Father Lasse be? Would he ever hear of him again? Every day he had
expected, in reliance on Karna's word, to see him blundering in at
the door, and when anybody fumbled at the door-knocker he felt quite
certain it was Lasse. It became a silent grief in the boy's mind,
a note that sounded through all that he undertook.



V

One Sunday evening, as Pelle was running down East Street, a cart
loaded with household goods came jolting in from the country. Pelle
was in a great hurry, but was obliged to look at it. The driver sat
in front, below the load, almost between the horses; he was tall and
had ruddy cheeks, and was monstrously wrapped up, in spite of the
heat. "Hallo!" Why, it was the worthy Due, Kalle's son-in-law; and
above him, in the midst of all the lumber, sat Anna and the children,
swaying to and fro with the motion of the cart. "Hullo!" Pelle waved
his cap, and with one spring he had his foot on the shaft and was
sitting next to Due, who was laughing all over his face at the
encounter.

"Yes, we've had enough of the farming country, and now we've come
to see if things aren't better here in town," said Due, in his quiet
manner. "And here you are, running about just like you did at home!"
There was amazement in his voice.

Anna came crawling over the load, and smiled down upon him.

"Have you news of Father Lasse?" Pelle asked her. This was always
his question when he met an acquaintance.

"Yes, that we have--he's just going to buy a farm up on the heath.
Now, you devil, are you goin' to behave?" Anna crawled backward,
and a child began to cry. Then she reappeared. "Yes, and we were
to remember father to you, and mother, and all the rest."

But Pelle had no thoughts to spare for Uncle Kalle.

"Is it up by Stone Farm?" he asked.

"No--farther to the east, by the Witch's Cell," said Due. "It is a
big piece of land, but it's not much more than stone. So long as he
doesn't ruin himself over it--two have gone smash there before him.
He's arranged it together with Karna."

"Uncle Lasse will know what he's about," said Anna. "Karna has
found the money for it; she has something saved."

Pelle couldn't sit still; his heart leaped in his body at this news.
No more uncertainty--no more horrible possibilities: he had his
father once more! And the dream of Lasse's life was about to be
fulfilled: he could now put his feet under his own table. He had
become a landowner into the bargain, if one didn't use the term
too precisely; and Pelle himself--why, he was a landowner's son!

By nine o'clock in the evening he had finished everything, and was
able to get off; his blood was pulsing with excitement.... Would
there be horses? Why, of course; but would there be laborers, too?
Had Father Lasse become one of those farmers who pay wages on
a quarter-day, and come into town on a Sunday afternoon, their
fur-lined collars up to their ears? Pelle could see the men quite
plainly going up the stairs, one after another, taking off their
wooden shoes and knocking on the door of the office--yes, they
wanted to see about an advance on their wages. And Lasse scratched
the back of his head, looked at them thoughtfully, and said: "Not on
any account, you'd only waste it on drink." But he gave it to them
finally, for all that. "One is much too good-natured," he said to
Pelle....

For Pelle had bidden farewell to cobbling, and was living at home
as a landowner's son. Really, Pelle managed the whole business--only
it wouldn't do to say so. And at the Christmas feast he danced with
the buxom farmer's daughters. There was whispering in the corners
when Pelle made his appearance; but he went straight across the room
and invited the Pastor's daughter to a dance, so that she lost her
breath, and more besides, and begged him on the spot to marry her....

He hurried onward, still dreaming; longing drew him onward, and
before he knew it he had travelled some miles along the high-road.
The road he now turned into led him by pine woods and heath-covered
hills; the houses he passed were poorer, and the distance from one
to another was increasing.

Pelle took a turning a little farther on, which, to the best of his
knowledge, led in the required direction, and hurried forward with
awakened senses. The landscape was only half revealed by the summer
night, but it was all as familiar as the mends in the back of Father
Lasse's waistcoat, although he had never been here before. The
poverty-stricken landscape spoke to him as with a mother's voice.
Among these clay-daubed huts, the homes of poor cultivators who
waged war upon the rocky ground surrounding their handful of soil,
he felt safe as he had never felt before. All this had been his
through many generations, down to the rags thrust into the broken
window-panes and the lumber piled upon the thatch to secure it. Here
was nothing for any one to rack his brains over, as elsewhere in the
world; here a man could lie down at peace and rest. Yet it was not
for him to till the ground and to dwell amid all these things. For
he had outgrown them, as he had outgrown the shelter of his mother's
skirts.

The lane gradually became a deep cart-track, which meandered between
rocks and moorland. Pelle knew that he ought to keep to the east,
but the track went now to the south, now to the north. He soon had
enough of it, noted his direction exactly, and struck off obliquely.
But it was difficult to make his way; the moonlight deceived his
eyes so that he stumbled and sank into hollows, while the heather
and the juniper reached as high as his waist, and hampered every
movement. And then he turned obstinate, and would not turn back to
the cart-track, but labored forward, so that he was soon steaming
with heat; clambering over slanting ridges of rock, which were
slippery with the dewfall on the moss, and letting himself tumble
at hazard over the ledges. A little too late he felt a depth below
him; it was as though a cold wave washed through his heart, and he
clutched wildly at the air for some support. "Father Lasse!" he
cried woefully; and at the same moment he was caught by brambles,
and sank slowly down through their interwoven runners, which struck
their myriad claws into him and reluctantly let him pass, until he
was cautiously deposited, deep down among the sharp stones at the
bottom of a ravine, shuddering and thanking his stars for all the
thorns that had mercifully flayed his hide in order that he should
not split his skull. Then he must needs grope forward, through the
darkness and running water, until he found a tree and was able to
climb to the surface.

Now he had lost his bearings, and when that became clear he lost his
head as well. Nothing was left of the confident Pelle of a while ago;
he ran blindly forward, in order to reach the summit of the hill.
And as he was hastening upward, so that he might take note of the
crags that lay about him, the ground rose and closed above him with
a frightful clamor, and the air turned black and full of noises, and
he could not see his hand before his eyes. It was like a stupendous
explosion--as though released by his cheerful stamping over the
rocks, the earth was hurled into the sky and dissolved in darkness,
and the darkness itself cried aloud with terror and eddied round him.
His heart pounded in his breast and robbed him of his last remnant
of understanding; he jumped for sheer unbridled terror and bellowed
like a maniac. The black mass drove over his head, so that he was
forced to duck, and gleaming rifts showed and disappeared; and the
darkness surged like the ocean and cried continually aloud with a
hellish chaos of sounds. Then it suddenly swung to one side, drifted
northward, and descended. And Pelle understood that he had stumbled
upon a rookery.

He found himself behind a great rock. How he got there he did not
know; but he knew that he was a terrible duffer. How easily he could
have brought confusion on the fifty-odd crows by tossing a few
stones into the air!

He went along the slope, very valiant in his resolve, but with
shaking knees. In the far distance a fox sat upon a cliff and howled
insanely at the moon, and far to the north and the south lay a
transient glimmer of sea. Up here subterranean creatures had their
home; when one trod upon the rock it sounded hollow.

In the southern opening the sea lay silver in the moonlight, but
as Pelle looked again it disappeared, and the low-lying plain was
drowned in white. In every direction the land was disappearing;
Pelle watched in amazement while the sea slowly rose and filled
every hollow. Then it closed above the lesser hills; one by one it
swallowed them, and then it took the long ridge of hills to the east,
until only the crests of the pine-trees lifted themselves above it;
but Pelle did not as yet give himself up for lost; for behind all
his anxiety lay a confused conception of Mount Ararat, which kept
up his courage. But then it became so dreadfully cold that Pelle's
breeches seemed to stick to his body. "That's the water," he thought,
and he looked round in alarm; the rock had become a little island,
and he and it were floating on the ocean.

Pelle was a sturdy little realist, who had already had all manner of
experiences. But now the fear had at last curdled his blood, and he
accepted the supernatural without a protest. The world had evidently
perished, and he himself was drifting--drifting out into space, and
space was terribly cold. Father Lasse, and the workshop, Manna and
the young master's shining eyes--here was an end of them all. He did
not mourn them; he simply felt terribly lonely. What would be the
end of it all--or was this perhaps death? Had he perhaps fallen dead
a little while ago, when he tumbled over the precipice? And was he
now voyaging toward the land of the blessed? Or was this the end of
the world itself, of which he had heard such dreadful things said,
as far back as he could remember? Perhaps he was adrift on the last
scrap of earth, and was the only person still living? It did not in
the least surprise Pelle that he should be left where everybody else
had perished; in this moment of despair he found it quite natural.

He stood breathlessly silent and listened to the infinite; and he
heard the cudgel-like blows of his pulses. Still he listened, and
now he heard something more: far away in the night that surged
against his ears he heard the suggestion of a sound, the vibrating
note of some living creature. Infinitely remote and faint though it
was, yet Pelle was so aware of it that it thrilled him all through.
It was a cow feeding on the chain; he could follow the sound of her
neck scrubbing up and down against the post.

He ran down over the craggy declivity, fell, and was again on his
feet and running forward; the mist had swallowed him unawares. Then
he was down on arable that had once been woodland; then he trod on
something that felt familiar as it brushed against his feet--it was
land that had once been ploughed but had now been recaptured by the
heath. The sound grew louder, and changed to all those familiar
sounds that one hears at night coming from an open cowshed; and
now a decayed farmhouse showed through the mist. This could not of
course be the farm Pelle was looking for--Father Lasse had a proper
farmhouse with four wings! But he went forward.

Out in the country people do not lock everything up as carefully as
they do in town; so Pelle could walk right in. Directly he opened
the door of the sitting-room he was filled with an uplifting joy.
The most comfortable odor he had ever known struck upon his senses
--the foundation of everything fragrant--the scent of Father Lasse!
It was dark in the room, and the light of the night without could
not make its way through the low window. He heard the deep breathing
of persons asleep, and knew that they had not awakened--the night
was not nearly over yet. "Good-evening!" he said.

A hand began to grope for the matches.

"Is any one there?" said a drowsy woman's voice.

"Good-evening!" he cried again, and went forward into the room.
"It's Pelle!" He brought out the name in a singsong voice.

"So it's you, boy!" Lasse's voice quavered, and the hands could not
manage the matches; but Pelle stepped toward the voice and clasped
his wrist. "And how did you find your way here in the wilderness--
and at night, too? Yes, yes, I'll get up!" he continued, and he
tried, with a groan, to sit up.

"No, you stop there and let me get up," said Karna, who lay against
the wall--she had kept silence while the men-folk were speaking. "He
gets this lumbago, I can tell you!" she declared, jumping out of bed.

"Ay, I've been at it a bit too hard. Work comes easy when a man's
his own master--it's difficult to leave off. But it'll be all right
when once I've got things properly going. Work's a good embrocation
for the lumbago. And how goes it with you then? I was near believing
you must be dead!"

So Pelle had to sit on the edge of the bed and tell about everything
in town--about the workshop, and the young master's lame leg, and
everything. But he said nothing of the disagreeable things; it was
not for men to dwell upon such things.

"Then you've been getting on well in foreign parts!" said Lasse,
delighted. "And do they think well of you?"

"Yes!" This came a trifle slowly. In the first place, respect was
just particularly what he had not won--but why trumpet forth his
miseries? "The young master must like me--he often chats with me,
even over the journeyman's head."

"Now, think of that! I have often wondered, I can tell you, how you
were getting on, and whether we shouldn't soon have good news of
you. But everything takes time, that we know. And as you see, I'm
in a very different position."

"Yes, you've become a landowner!" said Pelle, smiling.

"The deuce, yes, so I am!" Lasse laughed, too, but then he groaned
piteously with the pain in his back. "In the daytime, when I'm
working hard, I get along well enough, but as soon as I lie down,
then it comes on directly. And it's the devil of a pain--as though
the wheels of a heavy loaded wagon were going to and fro across your
back, whatever name you like to give it. Well, well! It's a fine
thing, all the same, to be your own master! It's funny how it takes
me--but dry bread tastes better to me at my own table than--yes, by
God, I can tell you, it tastes better than cake at any other body's
table! And then to be all alone on your own bit of land, and to be
able to spit wherever you like to spit, without asking anybody's
leave! And the soil isn't so bad; even if most of it has never been
under cultivation, it has all been lying there storing up its power
to produce since the beginning of the world. But about the people
in the town--are they agreeable?"

Oh, Pelle had nothing to complain about. "But when were you
married?" he asked suddenly.

"Well, you see," and Lasse began to stumble over his own words,
although he had been prepared for the boy to ask this very question;
"in a way we aren't exactly married. That takes money, and the work
here is getting forward.... But it's our intention, I needn't say,
as soon as we have time and money." It was honestly Lasse's opinion
that one could just as well dispense with the ceremony; at least
until children came, and demanded an honorable birth. But he could
see that Pelle did not relish the idea; he was still the same
pedantic little chap the moment a point of honor was in question.
"As soon as we've got the harvest under shelter we'll invite people
to a grand feast," he said resolutely.

Pelle nodded eagerly. Now he was a landowner's son, and he could
make the shabby-genteel boys of the town envious of him. But they
mustn't be able to throw it in his face that his father was "living
with a woman!"

Now Karna came in with some food. She looked at the boy with much
affection. "Now, fall to, and don't despise our poor table, my son,"
she said, and gave his arm a friendly pat. Pelle fell to with a good
appetite. Lasse hung half out of the alcove, delighted.

"You haven't lost your appetite down there," he said. "Do you get
anything decent to eat? Karna thought the food wasn't any too good."

"It's passable!" said Pelle obstinately. He repented of having
betrayed himself to Karna that evening, when he was so depressed.

The desire to eat awoke in Lasse, so that little by little he crept
out of the alcove. "You are sitting alone there," he said, and
sat down at the table in his nightcap and pants. He was wearing
a knitted nightcap, one end of which fell loosely over his ear. He
looked like a genuine old farmer, one that had money in his mattress.
And Karna, who was moving to and fro while the menfolk ate, had a
round, comfortable figure, and was carrying a big bread-knife in
her hand. She inspired confidence, and she too looked a regular
farmer's wife.

A place was found for Pelle on the bed. He extinguished the tallow
dip before he undressed, and thrust his underclothing under the
pillow.

He woke late; the sun had already left the eastern heavens. The most
delicious smell of coffee filled the room. Pelle started up hastily,
in order to dress himself before Karna could come in and espy his
condition; he felt under the pillow--and his shirt was no longer
there! And his stockings lay on a stool, and they had been darned!

"When Karna came in he lay motionless, in obstinate silence; he did
not reply to her morning salutation, and kept his eyes turned toward
the alcove. She ought not to have gone rummaging among his things!

"I've taken your shirt and washed it," she said serenely, "but you
can have it again this evening. After all, you can wear this until
then." She laid one of Lasse's shirts on the coverlet.

Pelle lay there for a time as though he had not heard Karna. Then he
sat up, feeling very cross and got into the shirt. "No, stay there
until you've drunk your coffee," she said as he attempted to get up,
and she placed a stool by him. And so Pelle had his coffee in bed,
as he had dreamed it was to happen when Father Lasse remarried;
and he could not go on feeling angry. But he was still burning with
shame, and that made him taciturn.

During the morning Lasse and Pelle went out and inspected
the property.

"It'll be best if we go round it first; then you will see plainly
where the boundary lies," said Lasse, who knew that the dimensions
of the place would be a surprise to Pelle. They wandered through
heather and brambles and thorns, striking across the moorland and
skirting precipitous slopes. It was several hours before they had
finished their round.

"It's an awfully large holding," Pelle said again and again.

And Lasse answered proudly. "Yes, there's nearly seventy acres
here--if only it were all tilled!"

It was virgin soil, but it was overrun with heather and juniper-
scrub, through which brambles and honeysuckle twined their way.
Halfway up a perpendicular wall of rock hung the ash and the wild
cherry, gripping the bare cliff with roots that looked like crippled
hands. Crab-apple trees, sloe-bushes and wild rose-briars made an
impenetrable jungle, which already bore traces of Lasse's exertions.
And in the midst of this luxuriant growth the rocky subsoil
protruded its grim features, or came so near the surface that
the sun had scorched the roots of the herbage.

"That's a proper little Paradise," said Lasse; "you can scarcely
set foot in it without treading on the berries. But it's got to be
turned into arable if one is to live here.

"Isn't the soil rather middling?" said Pelle.

"Middling--when all that can grow and flourish there?" Lasse pointed
to where birch and aspen stood waving their shining foliage to and
fro in the breeze. "No, but it'll be a damned rough bit of work to
get it ready for ploughing; I'm sorry now that you aren't at home."

Lasse had several times made this allusion, but Pelle was deaf to it.
All this was not what he had imagined; he felt no desire to play the
landowner's son at home in the way Lasse had in mind.

"It'll be trouble enough here to manage about your daily bread,"
he said, with remarkable precocity.

"Oh, it won't be so difficult to earn our daily bread, even if we
can't hold a feast every day," said Lasse, affronted. "And here at
any rate a man can straighten his back without having a bailiff come
yapping round him. Even if I were to work myself to death here, at
least I've done with slavery. And you must not forget the pleasure
of seeing the soil coming under one's hands, day after day, and
yielding something instead of lying there useless. That is indeed
the finest task a man can perform--to till the earth and make it
fruitful--I can think of none better! But you--have you lost the
farmer's instinct in town?"

Pelle did not reply. Although there might be something fine and
splendid in working oneself to death over a bit of land, just so
that something different might grow there, he himself was glad that
he did not possess this farmer's instinct.

"My father, and his father, and all of our family I have ever known,
we've all had something in us so that we've been driven to improve
the soil, without thinking of our own comfort. But it certainly
never entered the mind of one of us that we should ever hear it ill
spoken of--and by one of our own people too!" Lasse spoke with his
face turned away--as did the Almighty when He was wroth with His
people; and Pelle felt as though he were a hateful renegade, as
bad as bad could be. But nevertheless he would not give in.

"I should be no use at all here," he said apologetically, gazing
in the direction of the sea. "I don't believe in it."

"No, you've cut yourself loose from it all, you have!" retorted
Lasse bitterly. "But you'll repent it some day, in the long run.
Life among the strangers there isn't all splendor and enjoyment."

Pelle did not answer; he felt at that moment too much of a man to
bandy words. He contained himself, and they went onward in silence.

"Well, of course, it isn't an estate," said Lasse suddenly, in order
to take the sting out of further criticism. Pelle was still silent.

Round the house the land was cultivated, and all round the
cultivated land the luxuriant heather revealed disappearing traces
of cultivation, and obliterated furrows.

"This was a cornfield once," said Pelle.

"Well, to think of your seeing that right off!" exclaimed Lasse,
half sarcastically, half in real admiration. "The deuce of an eye
you've got, you truly have! I should certainly have noticed nothing
particular about the heath--if I had not known. Yes, that has been
under cultivation, but the heath has won it back again! That was
under my predecessor, who took in more than he could work, so that
it ruined him. But you can see now that something can be done with
the land!" Lasse pointed to a patch of rye, and Pelle was obliged
to recognize that it looked very well. But through the whole length
of the field ran high ridges of broken stone, which told him what
a terrible labor this soil demanded before it could be brought under
cultivation. Beyond the rye lay newly-broken soil, which looked like
a dammed-up ice-field; the plough had been driven through mere
patches of soil. Pelle looked at it all, and it made him sad to
think of his father.

Lasse himself was undismayed.

"As it is, it needs two to hold the plough. Karna is very strong,
but even so it's as though one's arms would be torn from one's body
every time the plough strikes. And most of it has to be broken up
with pick and drill--and now and again it takes a bit of a sneeze.
I use dynamite; it's more powerful than powder, and it bites down
into the ground better," he said proudly.

"How much is under cultivation here?" asked Pelle.

"With meadow and garden, almost fourteen acres; but it will be more
before the year is out."

"And two families have been ruined already by those fourteen acres,"
said Karna, who had come out to call them in to dinner.

"Yes, yes; God be merciful to them--and now we get the fruit of
their labors! The parish won't take the farm away again--not from
us," he said. Lasse spoke in a tone full of self-reliance. Pelle
had never seen him stand so upright.

"I can never feel quite easy about it," said Karna; "it's as though
one were ploughing up churchyard soil. The first who was turned out
by the parish hanged himself, so they say."

"Yes, he had a hut on the heath there--where you see the elder-trees
--but it's fallen to pieces since then. I'm so glad it didn't happen
in the house." Lasse shuddered uncomfortably. "People say he haunts
the place when any misfortune is in store for those that come after
him."

"Then the house was built later?" asked Pelle, astonished, for it
had such a tumble-down appearance.

"Yes, my predecessor built that. He got the land from the parish
free for twenty years, provided he built a house and tilled a tonde
of land a year. Those were not such bad conditions. Only he took
in too much at a time; he was one of those people who rake away
fiercely all the morning and have tired themselves out before midday.
But he built the house well"--and Lasse kicked the thin mud-daubed
wall--"and the timber-work is good. I think I shall break a lot
of stone when the winter comes; the stone must be got out of the
way, and it isn't so bad to earn a few hundred kroner. And in two
or three years we will make the old house into a barn and build
ourselves a new house--eh, Karna? With a cellar underneath and high
steps outside, like they have at Stone Farm. It could be of unhewn
granite, and I can manage the walls myself."

Karna beamed with joy, but Pelle could not enter into their mood. He
was disillusioned; the descent from his dream to this naked reality
was too great. And a feeling rose within him of dull resentment
against this endless labor, which, inexperienced though he was,
was yet part of his very being by virtue of the lives of ten, nay,
twenty generations. He himself had not waged the hard-fought war
against the soil, but he had as a matter of course understood
everything that had to do with tilling the soil ever since he could
crawl, and his hands had an inborn aptitude for spade and rake and
plough. But he had not inherited his father's joy in the soil;
his thoughts had struck out in a new direction. Yet this endless
bondage to the soil lay rooted in him, like a hatred, which gave him
a survey unknown to his father. He was reasonable; he did not lose
his head at the sight of seventy acres of land, but asked what they
contained. He himself was not aware of it, but his whole being was
quick with hostility toward the idea of spending one's strength in
this useless labor; and his point of view was as experienced as
though he had been Lasse's father.

"Wouldn't you have done better to buy a cottage-holding with twelve
or fourteen acres of land, and that in a good state of cultivation?"
he asked.

Lasse turned on him impatiently. "Yes, and then a man might stint
and save all his life, and never get beyond cutting off his fly
to mend his seat; he'd most likely spend twice what he made! What
the deuce! I might as well have stayed where I was. Here, it's true,
I do work harder and I have to use my brains more, but then there's
a future before me. When I've once got the place under cultivation
this will be a farm to hold its own with any of them!" Lasse gazed
proudly over his holding; in his mind's eye it was waving with grain
and full of prime cattle.

"It would carry six horses and a score or two of cows easily," he
said aloud. "That would bring in a nice income! What do you think,
Karna?"

"I think the dinner will be cold," said Karna, laughing. She was
perfectly happy.

At dinner Lasse proposed that Pelle should send his clothes to
be washed and mended at home. "You've certainly got enough to do
without that," he said indulgently. "Butcher Jensen goes to market
every Saturday; he'd take it for you and put it down by the church,
and it would be odd if on a Sunday no one from the heath went to
church, who could bring the bundle back to us."

But Pelle suddenly turned stubborn and made no reply.

"I just thought it would be too much for you to wash and mend for
yourself," said Lasse patiently. "In town one must have other things
to think about, and then it isn't really proper work for a man!"

"I'll do it myself all right," murmured Pelle ungraciously.

Now he would show them that he could keep himself decent. It was
partly in order to revenge himself for his own neglect that he
refused the offer.

"Yes, yes," said Lasse meekly; "I just asked you. I hope you won't
take it amiss."

However strong Karna might be, and however willing to help in
everything, Lasse did greatly feel the need of a man to work with
him. Work of a kind that needed two had accumulated, and Pelle did
not spare himself. The greater part of the day was spent in heaving
great stones out of the soil and dragging them away; Lasse had
knocked a sledge together, and the two moorland horses were
harnessed up to it.

"Yes, you mustn't look at them too closely," said Lasse, as he
stroked the two scarecrows caressingly. "Just wait until a few
months have gone by, and then you'll see! But they've plenty of
spirit now."

There was much to be done, and the sweat was soon pouring down their
faces; but they were both in good spirits. Lasse was surprised at
the boy's strength--with two or three such lads he could turn the
whole wilderness over. Once again he sighed that Pelle was not
living at home; but to this Pelle still turned a deaf ear. And
before they were aware of it Karna had come out again and was
calling them to supper.

"I think we'll harness the horses and drive Pelle halfway to town--
as a reward for the work he's done," said Lasse gaily. "And we've
both earned a drive." So the two screws were put into the cart.

It was amusing to watch Lasse; he was a notable driver, and one
could not but be almost persuaded that he had a pair of blood horses
in front of him. When they met any one he would cautiously gather up
the reins in order to be prepared lest the horses should shy--"they
might so easily bolt," he said solemnly. And when he succeeded in
inducing them to trot he was delighted. "They take some holding," he
would say, and to look at him you would have thought they called for
a strong pair of wrists. "Damn it all, I believe I shall have to put
the curb on them!" And he set both his feet against the dashboard,
and sawed the reins to and fro.

When half the distance was covered Father Lasse wanted to drive
just a little further, and again a little further still--oh, well,
then, they might as well drive right up to the house! He had quite
forgotten that the following day would be a day of hard labor both
for himself and for the horses. But at last Pelle jumped out.

"Shan't we arrange that about your washing?" asked Lasse.

"No!" Pelle turned his face away--surely they might stop asking
him that!

"Well, well, take care of yourself, and thanks for your help.
You'll come again as soon as you can?"

Pelle smiled at them, but said nothing; he dared not open his mouth,
for fear of the unmanly lump that had risen in his throat. Silently
he held out his hand and ran toward the town.



VI

The other apprentices were able to provide themselves with clothes,
as they worked on their own account in their own time; they got work
from their friends, and at times they pirated the master's customers,
by underbidding him in secret. They kept their own work under the
bench; when the master was not at home they got it out and proceeded
with it. "To-night I shall go out and meet my girl," they would say,
laughing. Little Nikas said nothing at all.

Pelle had no friends to give him work, and he could not have done
much. If the others had much to do after work-hours or on Sundays
he had to help them; but he gained nothing by so doing. And he also
had Nilen's shoes to keep mended, for old acquaintances' sake.

Jeppe lectured them at great length on the subject of tips, as
he had promised; for the townsfolk had been complaining of this
burdensome addition to their expenditure, and in no measured
terms had sworn either to abate or abolish this tax on all retail
transactions. But it was only because they had read of the matter
in the newspapers, and didn't want to be behind the capital! They
always referred to the subject when Pelle went round with his shoes,
and felt in their purses; if there was a shilling there they would
hide it between their fingers, and say that he should have something
next time for certain--he must remind them of it another time! At
first he did remind them--they had told him to do so--but then Jeppe
received a hint that his youngest apprentice must stop his attempts
at swindling. Pelle could not understand it, but he conceived an
increasing dislike of these people, who could resort to such a
shameless trick in order to save a penny piece, which they would
never have missed.

Pelle, who had been thinking that he had had enough of the world
of poor folk, and must somehow contrive to get into another class,
learned once again to rely on the poor, and rejoiced over every pair
of poor folk's shoes which the master anathematized because they
were so worn out. The poor were not afraid to pay a shilling if they
had one; it made him feel really sad to see how they would search in
every corner to get a few pence together, and empty their children's
money-boxes, while the little ones stood by in silence, looking on
with mournful eyes. And if he did not wish to accept their money
they were offended. The little that he did receive he owed to people
who were as poor as himself.

Money, to these folk, no longer consisted of those round,
indifferent objects which people in the upper strata of human
society piled up in whole heaps. Here every shilling meant so much
suffering or happiness, and a grimy little copper would still the
man's angry clamor and the child's despairing cry for food. Widow
Hoest gave him a ten-ore piece, and he could not help reflecting
that she had given him her mid-day meal for two days to come!

One day, as he was passing the miserable hovels which lay out by
the northern dunes, a poor young woman came to her door and called
to him; she held the remains of a pair of elastic-sided boots in her
hand. "Oh, shoemaker's boy, do be so kind as to mend these a bit for
me!" she pleaded. "Just sew them up anyhow, so that they'll stick
on my feet for half the evening. The stone-masons are giving their
feast, and I do so want to go to it!" Pelle examined the boots;
there was not much to be done for them, nevertheless he took them,
and mended them in his own time. He learned from Jens that the woman
was the widow of a stone-cutter, who was killed by an explosion
shortly after their marriage. The boots looked quite decent when
he returned them.

"Well, I've no money, but I do offer you many, many thanks!" she
said, looking delightedly at the boots; "and how nice you've made
them look! God bless you for it."

"Thanks killed the blacksmith's cat," said Pelle smiling. Her
pleasure was contagious.

"Yes, and God's blessing falls where two poor people share their
bed," the young woman rejoined jestingly. "Still, I wish you
everything good as payment--now I can dance after all!"

Pelle was quite pleased with himself as he made off. But few doors
farther on another poor woman accosted him; she had evidently heard
of the success of the first, and there she stood holding a dirty
pair of children's boots, which she earnestly begged him to mend.
He took the boots and repaired them although it left him still
poorer; he knew too well what need was to refuse. This was the first
time that any one in the town had regarded him as an equal, and
recognized him at the first glance as a fellow-creature. Pelle
pondered over this; he did not know that poverty is cosmopolitan.

When he went out after the day's work he took a back seat; he went
about with the poorest boys and behaved as unobtrusively as possible.
But sometimes a desperate mood came over him, and at times he would
make himself conspicuous by behavior that would have made old Lasse
weep; as, for example, when he defiantly sat upon a freshly-tarred
bollard. He became thereby the hero of the evening; but as soon as
he was alone he went behind a fence and let down his breeches in
order to ascertain the extent of the damage. He had been running his
errands that day in the best clothes he possessed. This was no joke.
Lasse had deeply imbued him with his own moderation, and had taught
him to treat his things carefully, so that it seemed to Pelle almost
a pious duty. But Pelle felt himself forsaken by all the gods, and
now he defied them.

The poor women in the streets were the only people who had eyes for
him. "Now look at the booby, wearing his confirmation jacket on a
weekday!" they would say, and call him over in order to give him a
lecture, which as a rule ended in an offer to repair the damage. But
it was all one to Pelle; if he ran about out-of-doors in his best
clothes he was only doing as the town did. At all events he had
a shirt on, even if it was rather big! And the barber's assistant
himself, who looked most important in tail-coat and top-hat, and was
the ideal of every apprentice, did not always wear a shirt; Pelle
had once noticed that fact as the youth was swinging some ladies.
Up in the country, where a man was appraised according to the number
of his shirts, such a thing would have been impossible. But here in
town people did not regard such matters so strictly.

He was no longer beside himself with astonishment at the number of
people--respectable folk for the most part--who had no abiding place
anywhere, but all through the year drifted in the most casual manner
from one spot to another. Yet the men looked contented, had wives
and children, went out on Sundays, and amused themselves; and after
all why should one behave as if the world was coming to an end
because one hadn't a barrel of salt pork or a clamp of potatoes to
see one through the winter? Recklessness was finally Pelle's refuge
too; when all the lights seemed to have gone out of the future it
helped him to take up the fairy-tale of life anew, and lent a glamor
to naked poverty. Imagination entered even into starvation: are you
or are you not going to die of it?

Pelle was poor enough for everything to be still before him, and
he possessed the poor man's alert imagination; the great world and
the romance of life were the motives that drew him through the void,
that peculiar music of life which is never silent, but murmurs to
the reckless and the careful alike. Of the world he knew well enough
that it was something incomprehensibly vast--something that was
always receding; yet in eighty days one could travel right round it,
to the place where men walk about with their heads downward, and
back again, and experience all its wonders. He himself had set out
into this incomprehensible world, and here he was, stranded in
this little town, where there was never a crumb to feed a hungry
imagination; nothing but a teeming confusion of petty cares. One
felt the cold breath of the outer winds, and the dizziness of great
spaces; when the little newspaper came the small tradesmen and
employers would run eagerly across the street, their spectacles on
their noses, and would speak, with gestures of amazement, of the
things that happened outside. "China," they would say; "America!"
and fancy that they themselves made part of the bustling world. But
Pelle used to wish most ardently that something great and wonderful
might wander thither and settle down among them just for once! He
would have been quite contented with a little volcano underfoot,
so that the houses would begin to sway and bob to one another; or
a trifling inundation, so that ships would ride over the town, and
have to moor themselves to the weather-cock on the church steeple.
He had an irrational longing that something of this kind should
happen, something to drive the blood from his heart and make his
hair stand on end. But now he had enough to contend against apart
from matters of this sort; the world must look after itself until
times were better.

It was more difficult to renounce the old fairy-tales, for poverty
itself had sung them into his heart, and they spoke to him with
Father Lasse's quivering voice. "A rich child often lies in a poor
mother's lap," his father used to say, when he prophesied concerning
his son's future, and the saying sank deep into the boy's mind, like
the refrain of a song. But he had learned this much, that there were
no elephants here, on whose necks a plucky youngster could ride
astraddle, in order to ride down the tiger which was on the point
of tearing the King of the Himalayas to pieces so that he would of
course receive the king's daughter and half his kingdom as a reward
for his heroic deed. Pelle often loitered about the harbor, but no
beautifully dressed little girl ever fell into the water, so that he
might rescue her, and then, when he was grown up, make her his wife.
And if such a thing did really happen he knew now that his elders
would cheat him out of any tip he might receive. And he had quite
given up looking for the golden coach which was to run over him,
so that the two terrified ladies, who would be dressed in mourning,
would take him into their carriage and carry him off to their six-
storied castle! Of course, they would adopt him permanently in place
of the son which they had just lost, and who, curiously enough, was
exactly the same age as himself. No, there were no golden coaches
here!

Out in the great world the poorest boy had the most wonderful
prospects; all the great men the books had ever heard of had been
poor lads like himself, who had reached their high estate through
good fortune and their own valor. But all the men in town who
possessed anything had attained their wealth by wearily plodding
forward and sucking the blood of the poor. They were always sitting
and brooding over their money, and they threw nothing away for a
lucky fellow to pick up; and they left nothing lying about, lest
some poor lad should come and take it. Not one of them considered
it beneath him to pick up an old trouser-button off the pavement,
and carry it home.

One evening Pelle was running out to fetch half a pound of canister
tobacco for Jeppe. In front of the coal-merchant's house the big dog,
as always, made for his legs, and he lost the twenty-five-ore piece.
While he was looking for it, an elderly man came up to him. Pelle
knew him very well; he was Monsen the shipowner, the richest man
in the town.

"Have you lost something, my lad?" he asked, and began to assist
in the search.

"Now he will question me," thought Pelle. "And then I shall answer
him boldly, and then he will look at me attentively and say--"

Pelle was always hoping for some mysterious adventure, such as
happens to an able lad and raises him to fortune.

But the shipowner did nothing he was expected to do. He merely
searched eagerly, and inquired: "Where were you walking? Here,
weren't you? Are you quite certain of that?"

"In any case he'll give me another twenty-five ore," thought Pelle.
"Extraordinary--how eager he is!" Pelle did not really want to go on
searching, but he could not very well leave off before the other.

"Well, well!" said the shipowner at last, "you may as well whistle
for those twenty-five ore. But what a booby you are!" And he moved
on, and Pelle looked after him for a long while before putting his
hand into his own pocket.

Later, as he was returning that way, he saw a man bowed over the
flagstones, striking matches as he searched. It was Monsen. The
sight tickled Pelle tremendously. "Have you lost anything?" he asked
mischievously, standing on the alert, lest he should get a box on
the ear. "Yes, yes; twenty-five ore;" groaned the shipowner. "Can't
you help me to find it, my boy?"

Well, he had long understood that Monsen was the richest man in the
town, and that he had become so by provisioning ships with spoiled
foodstuffs, and refitting old crank vessels, which he heavily
insured. And he knew who was a thief and who a bankrupt speculator,
and that Merchant Lau only did business with the little shopkeepers,
because his daughter had gone to the bad. Pelle knew the secret
pride of the town, the "Top-galeass," as she was called, who in her
sole self represented the allurements of the capital, and he knew
the two sharpers, and the consul with the disease which was eating
him up. All this was very gratifying knowledge for one of the
rejected.

He had no intention of letting the town retain any trace of those
splendors with which he had once endowed it. In his constant
ramblings he stripped it to the buff. For instance, there stood the
houses of the town, some retiring, some standing well forward, but
all so neat on the side that faced the street, with their wonderful
old doorways and flowers in every window. Their neatly tarred
framework glistened, and they were always newly lime-washed, ochrous
yellow or dazzling white, sea-green, or blue as the sky. And on
Sundays there was quite a festive display of flags. But Pelle had
explored the back quarters of every house; and there were sinks and
traps there, with dense slimy growths, and stinking refuse-barrels,
and one great dustbin with a drooping elder-tree over it. And the
spaces between the cobble-stones were foul with the scales of
herrings and the guts of codfish, and the lower portions of the
walls were covered with patches of green moss.

The bookbinder and his wife went about hand in hand when they set
out for the meeting of some religious society. But at home they
fought, and in chapel, as they sat together and sang out of the
same hymn-book, they would secretly pinch one another's legs. "Yes,"
people used to say, "such a nice couple!" But the town couldn't
throw dust in Pelle's eyes; he knew a thing or two. If only he had
known just how to get himself a new blouse!

Some people didn't go without clothes so readily; they were
forever making use of that fabulous thing--credit! At first it took
his breath away to discover that the people here in the town got
everything they wanted without paying money for it. "Will you please
put it down?" they would say, when they came for their boots; and
"it's to be entered," he himself would say, when he made a purchase
for his employers. All spoke the same magical formula, and Pelle was
reminded of Father Lasse, who had counted his shillings over a score
of times before he ventured to buy anything. He anticipated much
from this discovery, and it was his intention to make good use of
the magic words when his own means became exhausted.

Now, naturally, he was wiser. He had discovered that the very poor
must always go marketing with their money in their hands, and even
for the others there came a day of reckoning. The master already
spoke with horror of the New Year; and it was very unfortunate for
his business that the leather-sellers had got him in their pocket,
so that he could not buy his material where it was cheapest. All
the small employers made the same complaint.

But the fairy-tale of credit was not yet exhausted--there was
still a manner of drawing a draft upon fortune, which could be kept
waiting, and on the future, which redeems all drafts. Credit was
a spark of poetry in the scramble of life; there were people going
about who were poor as church mice, yet they played the lord. Alfred
was such a lucky fellow; he earned not a red cent, but was always
dressed like a counter-jumper, and let himself want for nothing. If
he took a fancy to anything he simply went in and got it on "tick";
and he was never refused. His comrades envied him and regarded him
as a child of fortune.

Pelle himself had a little flirtation with fortune. One day he went
gaily into a shop, in order to procure himself some underclothing.
When he asked for credit they looked at him as though he could not
be quite sane, and he had to go away without effecting his object.
"There must be some secret about it that I don't know," he thought;
and he dimly remembered another boy, who couldn't stir the pot to
cook his porridge or lay the table for himself, because he didn't
know the necessary word. He sought Alfred forthwith in order to
receive enlightenment.

Alfred was wearing new patent braces, and was putting on his collar.
On his feet were slippers with fur edging, which looked like feeding
pigeons. "I got them from a shopkeeper's daughter," he said; and he
coquetted with his legs; "she's quite gone on me. A nice girl too--
only there's no money."

Pelle explained his requirements.

"Shirts! shirts!" Alfred chortled with delight, and clapped his
hands before his face. "Good Lord, he wants to gets shirts on tick!
If only they had been linen shirts!" He was near bursting with
laughter.

Pelle tried again. As a peasant--for he was still that--he had
thought of shirts first of all; but now he wanted a summer overcoat
and rubber cuffs. "Why do you want credit?" asked the shopkeeper,
hesitating. "Are you expecting any money? Or is there any one who
will give you a reference?"

No, Pelle didn't want to bring any one else into it; it was simply
that he had no money.

"Then wait until you have," said the shopkeeper surlily. "We don't
clothe paupers!" Pelle slunk away abashed.

"You're a fool!" said Alfred shortly. "You are just like Albinus--he
can never learn how to do it!"

"How do you do it then?" asked Pelle meekly.

"How do I do it--how do I do it?" Alfred could give no explanation;
"it just came of itself. But naturally I don't tell them that I'm
poor! No, you'd better leave it alone--it'll never succeed with you!"

"Why do you sit there and pinch your upper lip?" asked Pelle
discontentedly.

"Pinch? You goat, I'm stroking my moustache!"



VII

On Saturday afternoon Pelle was busily sweeping the street. It was
getting on for evening; in the little houses there was already
a fire in the grate; one could hear it crackling at Builder
Rasmussen's and Swedish Anders', and the smell of broiled herrings
filled the street. The women were preparing something extra good in
order to wheedle their husbands when they came home with the week's
wages. Then they ran across to the huckster's for schnaps and beer,
leaving the door wide open behind them; there was just half a minute
to spare while the herring was getting cooked on the one side! And
now Pelle sniffed it afar off--Madame Rasmussen was tattling away
to the huckster, and a voice screeched after her: "Madame Rasmussen!
Your herring is burning!" Now she came rushing back, turning her
head confusedly from house to house as she scampered across the
street and into her house. The blue smoke drifted down among the
houses; the sun fell lower and filled the street with gold-dust.

There were people sweeping all along the street; Baker Jorgen, the
washerwoman, and the Comptroller's maid-servant. The heavy boughs
of the mulberry-tree across the road drooped over the wall and
offered their last ripe fruits to whomsoever would pick them. On
the other side of the wall the rich merchant Hans--he who married
the nurse-maid--was pottering about his garden. He never came out,
and the rumor ran that he was held a prisoner by his wife and her
kin. But Pelle had leaned his ear against the wall, and had heard
a stammering old voice repeating the same pet names, so that it
sounded like one of those love-songs that never come to an end; and
when in the twilight he slipped out of his attic window and climbed
on to the ridge of the roof, in order to take a look at the world,
he had seen a tiny little white-haired man walking down there in the
garden, with his arm round the waist of a woman younger than himself.
They were like a couple of young lovers, and they had to stop every
other moment in order to caress one another. The most monstrous
things were said of him and his money; of his fortune, that once
upon a time was founded on a paper of pins, and was now so great
that some curse must rest upon it.

From the baker's house the baker's son came slinking hymn-book in
hand. He fled across to the shelter of the wall, and hurried off;
old Jorgen stood there gobbling with laughter as he watched him,
his hands folded over his broomstick.

"O Lord, is that a man?" he cried to Jeppe, who sat at his window,
shaving himself before the milk-can. "Just look how he puffs! Now
he'll go in and beg God to forgive him for going courting!"

Jeppe came to the window to see and to silence him; one could hear
Brother Jorgen's falsetto voice right down the street. "Has he been
courting? However did you get him to venture such a leap?" he asked
eagerly.

"Oh, it was while we were sitting at table. I had a tussle with my
melancholy madman--because I couldn't help thinking of the little
Jorgen. God knows, I told myself, no little Jorgen has come to carry
on your name, and the boy's a weakling, and you've no one else to
build on! It's all very well going about with your nose in the air
all the days God gives you--everything will be swept away and be to
no purpose. And everything of that sort--you know how I get thinking
when ideas like that get the upper hand with me. I sat there and
looked at the boy, and angry I felt with him, that I did; and right
opposite him there was sitting a fine bit of womanhood, and he not
looking at her. And with that I struck my hand on the table, and I
says, 'Now, boy, just you take Marie by the hand and ask her whether
she'll be your wife--I want to make an end of the matter now and see
what you're good for!' The boy all shrivels up and holds out his
hand, and Marie, it don't come amiss to her. 'Yes, that I will!'
she says, and grips hold of him before he has time to think what
he's doing. And we shall be having the marriage soon."

"If you can make a boot out of that leather!" said Jeppe.

"Oh, she's a warm piece--look at the way she's built. She's thawing
him already. Women, they know the way--he won't freeze in bed."

Old Jorgen laughed contentedly, and went off to his work. "Yes, why,
she'd breathe life into the dead," he announced to the street at
large.

The others went out in their finest clothes, but Pelle did not care
to go. He had not been able to accomplish his constant resolution to
keep himself neat and clean, and this failure weighed upon him and
abashed him. And the holes in his stockings, which were now so big
that they could no longer be darned, were disgustingly apparent,
with his skin showing through them, so that he had a loathing for
himself.

Now all the young people were going out. He could see the sea in
the opening at the end of the street; it was perfectly calm, and had
borrowed the colors of the sunset. They would be going to the harbor
or the dunes by the sea; there would be dancing on the grass, and
perhaps some would get to fighting about a girl. But he wasn't going
to be driven out of the pack like a mangy dog; he didn't care a hang
for the whole lot of them!

He threw off his apron and established himself on a beer-barrel
which stood outside before the gate. On the bench opposite sat
the older inhabitants of the street, puffing at their pipes and
gossiping about everything under the sun. Now the bells sounded the
hour for leaving off work. Madame Rasmussen was beating her child
and reviling it in time with her blows. Then suddenly all was silent;
only the crying of the child continued, like a feeble evening hymn.
Old Jeppe was talking about Malaga--"when I ran ashore at Malaga!"--
but Baker Jorgen was still lamenting his want of an heir, and
sighing: "Yes, yes; if only one could see into the future!" Then he
suddenly began to talk about the Mormons. "It might really be great
fun to see, some time, what they have to offer you," he said.

"I thought you'd been a Mormon a long time, Uncle Jorgen," said
Master Andres. The old man laughed.

"Well, well; one tries all sorts of things in one's time," he said,
and looked out at the sky.

Up the street stood the watchmaker, on his stone steps, his face
turned up to the zenith, while he shouted his senseless warnings:
"The new time! I ask you about the new time, O God the Father!"
he repeated.

Two weary stevedores were going homeward. "He'll drive all poverty
out of the world and give us all a new life--that's the form his
madness takes," said one of them, with a dreary laugh.

"Then he's got the millennium on the brain?" said the other.

"No, he's just snarling at the world," said old Jorgen, behind
them. "We shall certainly get a change in the weather."

"Things are bad with him just now, poor fellow," said Bjerregrav,
shuddering. "It was about this time of the year that he lost his
wits."

An inner voice admonished Pelle: "Don't sit there with your hands
in your lap, but go in and look after your clothes!" But he could
not bring himself to do so--the difficulties had become too
insurmountable. On the following day Manna and the others called
him, but he could not spring over the wall to join them; they had
begun to turn up their noses at him and regard him critically.
He did not very well understand it, but he had become an outcast,
a creature who no longer cared about washing himself properly.
But what was the use? He could not go on contending against the
invincible! No one had warned him in time, and now the town had
captured him, and he had given up everything else. He must shuffle
through life as best he could.

No one had a thought for him! When washing was being done for his
employers it never occurred to Madam to wash anything of his, and he
was not the boy to come forward of himself. The washerwoman was more
considerate; when she could she would smuggle in some of Pelle's
dirty linen, although it meant more work for her. But she was poor
herself; as for the rest, they only wanted to make use of him. There
was no one in town who cared sufficiently for his welfare to take
the trouble even to open his mouth to tell him the truth. This was
a thought that made him feel quite weak about the knees, although
he was fifteen years old and had courage to tackle a mad bull. More
than anything else it was his loneliness that weakened his powers of
resistance. He was helpless alone among all these people, a child,
who had to look after himself as best he could, and be prepared for
attacks from every quarter.

He sat there, making no effort to dispel the misery that had come
over him, and was working its will with him, while with half an ear
he listened to the life around him. But suddenly he felt something
in his waistcoat pocket--money! He felt immensely relieved at once,
but he did not hurry; he slipped behind the gate and counted it.
One and a half kroner. He was on the point of regarding it as a
gift from on high, as something which the Almighty had in His great
goodness placed there, but then it occurred to him that this was his
master's money. It had been given him the day before for repairs to
a pair of ladies' shoes, and he had forgotten to pay it in, while
the master, strangely enough, had quite forgotten to ask for it.

Pelle stood with bent back by the well outside, scrubbing himself
over a bucket until his blood tingled. Then he put on his best
clothes, drew his shoes on to his naked feet, to avoid the painful
feeling of the ragged stockings, and buttoned his rubber collar--for
the last time innocent of any tie--to his shirt. Shortly afterward
he was standing outside a shop-window, contemplating some large
neckties, which had just been put upon the market, and could be worn
with any one of four faces outward; they filled the whole of the
waistcoat, so that one did not see the shirt. Now he would be
disdained no longer! For a moment he ran to and fro and breathed
the air; then he got upon the scent, and ran at a breathless gallop
toward the sea-dunes, where the young folk of the town played late
into the summer night that lay over the wan sea.

Of course, it was only a loan. Pelle had to sole a pair of shoes
for a baker's apprentice who worked with Nilen; as soon as they were
finished he would repay the money. He could put the money under the
cutting-out board in his master's room; the master would find it
there, would gaze at it with a droll expression, and say: "What the
devil is this?" And then he would knock on the wall, and would treat
Pelle to a long rigmarole about his magical gifts--and then he would
ask him to run out and fetch a half-bottle of port.

He did not receive the money for soling the shoes; half the sum he
had to pay out for leather, and the rest was a long time coming, for
the baker's apprentice was a needy wretch. But he did not doubt his
own integrity; the master might be as sure of his money as if it had
been in the bank. Yet now and again he forgot to give up petty sums
--if some necessity or other was pressing him unexpectedly. They
were, of course, all loans--until the golden time came. And that
was never far away.

One day he returned home as the young master was standing at the
door, staring at the driving clouds overhead. He gave Pelle's
shoulder a familiar squeeze. "How was it they didn't pay you for
the shoes at the Chamberlain's yesterday?"

Pelle went crimson and his hand went to his waistcoat pocket.
"I forgot it," he said in a low voice.

"Now, now!" The master shook him good-naturedly. "It's not that
I mistrust you. But just to be methodical!"

Pelle's heart pounded wildly in his body; he had just decided to use
the money to buy a pair of stockings, the very next time he went out
--and then what would have happened? And the master's belief in him!
And all at once his offence showed itself to him in all its shameful
treachery; he felt as if he was on the point of being sick, so
disturbed was he. Until this moment he had preserved through
everything the feeling of his own worth, and now it was destroyed;
there could not be any one wickeder than he in all the world. In
future no one could trust him any more, and he could no longer look
people straight in the face; unless he went to the master at once
and cast himself and his shame unconditionally on his mercy. There
was no other salvation, that he knew.

But he was not certain that the master would conceive the matter
in its finer aspect, or that everything would turn out for the best;
he had given up believing in fairy-tales. Then he would simply be
turned away, or perhaps be sent to the courthouse, and it would be
all up with him.

Pelle resolved to keep it to himself; and for many days he went
about suffering from a sense of his own wickedness. But then
necessity gripped him by the throat and brushed all else aside; and
in order to procure himself the most necessary things he was forced
to resort to the dangerous expedient of stating; when the master
gave him money to buy anything, that it was to be put down. And then
one day it was all up with him. The others were ready to pull down
the house about his ears; they threw his things out of the garret
and called him a filthy, beast. Pelle wept; he was quite convinced
that not he was the guilty person, but Peter, who was always keeping
company with the nastiest women, but he could get no hearing. He
hurried away, with the resolves that he would never come back.

On the dunes he was captured by Emil and Peter, who had been sent
out after him by old Jeppe. He did not want to go back with them,
but they threw him down and dragged him back, one taking his head
and one his legs. People came to the door and laughed and asked
questions, and the other two gave their explanation of the matter,
which was a terrible disgrace for Pelle.

And then he fell ill. He lay under the tiled roof raving with fever;
they had thrown his bed into the loft. "What, isn't he up yet?" said
Jeppe, astounded, when he came in to the workshop. "No? Well, he'll
soon get up when he gets hungry." It was no joke to take a sick
apprentice his meals in bed. But Pelle did not come down.

Once the young master threw all considerations overboard and took
some food up to him. "You're making yourself ridiculous," sneered
Jeppe; "you'll never be able to manage people like that!" And Madam
scolded. But Master Andres whistled until he was out of hearing.

Poor Pelle lay there, in delirium; his little head was full of
fancies, more than it would hold. But now the reaction set in, and
he lay there stuffing himself with all that was brought him.

The young master sat upstairs a great deal and received enlightenment
on many points. It was not his nature to do anything energetically,
but he arranged that Pelle's washing should be done in the house,
and he took care that Lasse should be sent for.



VIII

Jeppe was related to about half the island, but he was not greatly
interested in disentangling his relationship. He could easily go
right back to the founder of the family, and trace the generations
through two centuries, and follow the several branches of the family
from country to town and over the sea and back again, and show that
Andres and the judge must be cousins twice removed. But if any
insignificant person asked him: "How was it, then--weren't my father
and you first cousins?" he would answer brusquely, "Maybe, but the
soup grows too thin after a time. This relationship!"

"Then you and I, good Lord! are second cousins, and you are related
to the judge as well," Master Andres would say. He did not grudge
people any pleasure they could derive from the facts of relationship.
Poor people regarded him gratefully--they said he had kind eyes; it
was a shame that he should not be allowed to live.

Jeppe was the oldest employer in the town, and among the shoemakers
his workshop was the biggest. He was able, too, or rather he had
been, and he still possessed the manual skill peculiar to the old
days. When it came to a ticklish job he would willingly show them
how to get on with it, or plan some contrivance to assist them.
Elastic-sided boots and lace-up boots had superseded the old
footwear, but honest skill still meant an honest reputation. And
if some old fellow wanted a pair of Wellingtons or Bluchers of
leather waterproofed with grease, instead of by some new-fangled
devilry, he must needs go to Jeppe--no one else could shape an
instep as he could. And when it came to handling the heavy dressed
leathers for sea-boots there was no one like Jeppe. He was obstinate,
and rigidly opposed to everything new, where everybody else was led
away by novelty. In this he was peculiarly the representative of
the old days, and people respected him as such.

The apprentices alone did not respect him. They did everything they
could to vex him and to retaliate on him for being such a severe
task-master. They all laid themselves out to mystify him, speaking
of the most matter-of-fact things in dark and covert hints, in order
to make old Jeppe suspicious, and if he spied upon them and caught
them at something which proved to be nothing at all they had a great
day of it.

"What does this mean? Where are you going without permission?" asked
Jeppe, if one of them got up to go into the court; he was always
forgetting that times had altered. They did not answer, and then he
would fly into a passion. "I'll have you show me respect!" he would
cry, stamping on the floor until the dust eddied round him. Master
Andres would slowly raise his head. "What's the matter with you this
time, father?" he would ask wearily. Then Jeppe would break out into
fulminations against the new times.

If Master Andres and the journeyman were not present, the
apprentices amused themselves by making the old man lose his temper;
and this was not difficult, as he saw hostility in everything.
Then he would snatch up a knee-strap and begin to rain blows upon
the sinner. At the same time he would make the most extraordinary
grimaces and give vent to a singular gurgling sound. "There, take
that, although it grieves me to use harsh measures!" he would mew.
"And that, too--and that! You've got to go through with it, if you
want to enter the craft!" Then he would give the lad something that
faintly resembled a kick, and would stand there struggling for
breath. "You're a troublesome youngster--you'll allow that?" "Yes,
my mother used to break a broomstick over my head every other day!"
replied Peter, the rogue, snorting. "There, you see you are! But it
may all turn out for the best even now. The foundation's not so bad!"
Jeppe doddered to and fro, his hands behind his back. The rest of
the day he was inclined to solemnity, and did his best to obliterate
all remembrance of the punishment. "It was only for your own good!"
he would say, in a propitiatory tone.

Jeppe was first cousin to the crazy Anker, but he preferred not to
lay claim to the fact; the man could not help being mad, but he made
his living, disgracefully enough, by selling sand in the streets--a
specialist in his way. Day by day one saw Anker's long, thin figure
in the streets, with a sackful of sand slung over his sloping
shoulders; he wore a suit of blue twill and white woollen stockings,
and his face was death-like. He was quite fleshless. "That comes of
all his digging," people said. "Look at his assistant!"

He never appeared in the workshop with his sack of sand; he was
afraid of Jeppe, who was now the oldest member of the family.
Elsewhere he went in and out everywhere with his clattering wooden
shoes; and people bought of him, as they must have sand for their
floors, and his was as good as any other. He needed next to nothing
for his livelihood; people maintained that he never ate anything,
but lived on his own vitals. With the money he received he bought
materials for the "New Time," and what was left he threw away,
in his more exalted moments, from the top of his high stairs. The
street-urchins always came running up when the word went round that
the madness about the "new time" was attacking him.

He and Bjerregrav had been friends as boys. Formerly they had been
inseparable, and neither of them was willing to do his duty and
marry, although each was in a position to keep a wife and children.
At an age when others were thinking about how to find favor with
the womenfolk, these two were running about with their heads full of
rubbish which enraged people. At that time a dangerous revolutionist
was living with Bjerregrav's brother; he had spent many years on
Christianso, but then the Government had sent him to spend the rest
of his term of captivity on Bornholm. Dampe was his name; Jeppe
had known him when an apprentice in Copenhagen; and his ambition was
to overthrow God and king. This ambition of his did not profit him
greatly; he was cast down like a second Lucifer, and only kept his
head on his shoulders by virtue of an act of mercy. The two young
people regarded him as then justification, and he turned their heads
with his venomous talk, so that they began to ponder over things
which common folk do better to leave alone. Bjerregrav came through
this phase with a whole skin, but Anker paid the penalty by losing
his wits. Although they both had a comfortable competence, they
pondered above all things over the question of poverty--as though
there was anything particular to be discovered about that!

All this was many years ago; it was about the time when the
craze for freedom had broken out in the surrounding nations with
fratricide and rebellion. Matters were not so bad on the island, for
neither Anker nor Bjerregrav was particularly warlike; yet everybody
could see that the town was not behind the rest of the world. Here
the vanity of the town was quite in agreement with Master Jeppe,
but for the rest he roundly condemned the whole movement. He always
looked ready to fall upon Bjerregrav tooth and nail if the
conversation turned on Anker's misfortune.

"Dampe!" said Jeppe scornfully, "he has turned both your heads!"

"That's a lie!" stammered Bjerregrav. "Anker went wrong later
than that--after King Frederick granted us liberty. And it's only
that I'm not very capable; I have my wits, thank God!" Bjerregrav
solemnly raised the fingers of his right hand to his lips, a gesture
which had all the appearance of a surviving vestige of the sign of
the cross.

"You and your wits!" hissed Jeppe contemptuously. "You, who throw
your money away over the first tramp you meet! And you defend an
abominable agitator, who never goes out by daylight like other
people, but goes gallivanting about at night!"

"Yes, because he's ashamed of humanity; he wants to make the world
more beautiful!" Bjerregrav blushed with embarrassment when he had
said this.

But Jeppe was beside himself with contempt. "So gaol-birds are
ashamed of honest people! So that's why he takes his walks at night!
Well, the world would of course be a more beautiful place if it were
filled with people like you and Dampe!"

The pitiful thing about Anker was that he was such a good craftsman.
He had inherited the watchmaker's trade from his father and
grandfather, and his Bornholm striking-clocks were known all over
the world; orders came to him from Funen as well as from the capital.
But when the Constitution was granted he behaved like a child--as
though people had not always been free on Bornholm! Now, he said,
the new time had begun, and in its honor he intended, in his insane
rejoicing, to make an ingenious clock which should show the moon and
the date and the month and year. Being an excellent craftsman, he
completed it successfully, but then it entered his head that the
clock ought to show the weather as well. Like so many whom God had
endowed with His gifts, he ventured too far and sought to rival God
Himself. But here the brakes were clapped on, and the whole project
was nearly derailed. For a long time he took it greatly to heart,
but when the work was completed he rejoiced. He was offered a large
price for his masterpiece, and Jeppe bade him close with the offer,
but he answered crazily--for he was now definitely insane--"This
cannot be bought with money. Everything I made formerly had its
value in money, but not this. Can any one buy _me_?"

For a long time he was in a dilemma as to what he should do with
his work, but then one day he came to Jeppe, saying: "Now I know;
the best ought to have the clock. I shall send it to the King. He
has given us the new time, and this clock will tell the new time."
Anker sent the clock away, and after some time he received two
hundred thalers, paid him through the Treasury.

This was a large sum of money, but Anker was not satisfied; he had
expected a letter of thanks from the King's own hand. He behaved
very oddly about this, and everything went wrong with him; over and
over again trouble built its nest with him. The money he gave to
the poor, and he lamented that the new time had not yet arrived. So
he sank even deeper into his madness, and however hard Jeppe scolded
him and lectured him it did no good. Finally he went so far as to
fancy that he was appointed to create the new time, and then he
became cheerful once more.

Three or four families of the town--very poor people, so demoralized
that the sects would have nothing to do with them--gathered around
Anker, and heard the voice of God in his message. "_They_ lose
nothing by sitting under a crazy man," saw Jeppe scornfully. Anker
himself paid no attention to them, but went his own way. Presently
he was a king's son in disguise, and was betrothed to the eldest
daughter of the King--and the new time was coming. Or when his mood
was quieter, he would sit and work at an infallible clock which
would not show the time; it would _be_ the time--the new time
itself.

He went to and fro in the workshop, in order to let Master Andres
see the progress of his invention; he had conceived a blind
affection for the young master. Every year, about the first of
January, Master Andres had to write a letter for him, a love-letter
to the king's daughter, and had also to take it upon him to despatch
it to the proper quarter; and from time to time Anker would run in
to ask whether an answer had yet arrived; and at the New Year a
fresh love-letter was sent off. Master Andres had them all put away.

One evening--it was nearly time to knock off--there was a thundering
knock on the workshop door, and the sound of some one humming a
march drifted in from the entry. "Can you not open?" cried a solemn
voice: "the Prince is here!"

"Pelle, open the door quick!" said the master. Pelle flung the door
wide open, and Anker marched in. He wore a paper hat with a waving
plume, and epaulettes made out of paper frills; his face was beaming,
and he stood there with his hand to his hat as he allowed the march
to die away. The young master rose gaily and shouldered arms with
his stick.

"Your Majesty," he said, "how goes it with the new time?"

"Not at all well!" replied Anker, becoming serious. "The pendulums
that should keep the whole in motion are failing me." He stood still,
gazing at the door; his brain was working mysteriously.

"Ought they to be made of gold?" The master's eyes were twinkling,
but he was earnestness personified.

"They ought to be made of eternity," said Anker unwillingly,
"and first it has got to be invented."

For a long time he stood there, staring in front of him with his
gray, empty eyes, without speaking a word. He did not move; only
his temples went on working as though some worm was gnawing at them
and seeking its way out.

Suddenly it became uncomfortable; his silence was sometimes like
a living darkness that surrounded those about him. Pelle sat there
with palpitating heart.

Then the lunatic came forward and bent over the young master's ear.
"Has an answer come from the king?" he asked, in a penetrating
whisper.

"No, not yet; but I expect it every day. You can be quite easy," the
master whispered back. Anker stood for a few moments in silence; he
looked as though he must be meditating, but after his own fashion.
Then he turned round and marched out of the workshop.

"Go after him and see he gets home all right," said the young
master. His voice sounded mournful now. Pelle followed the
clockmaker up the street.

It was a Saturday evening, and the workers were on their way
homeward from the great quarries and the potteries which lay about
half a mile beyond the town. They passed in large groups, their
dinner-boxes on their back, with a beer-bottle hung in front as a
counter-weight. Their sticks struck loudly on the flagstones, and
the iron heel-pieces of their wooden shoes struck out sparks as they
passed. Pelle knew that weary homecoming; it was as though weariness
in person had invaded the town. And he knew the sound of this
taciturn procession; the snarling sound when this man or that made
an unexpected and involuntary movement with his stiffened limbs, and
was forced to groan with the pain of it. But to-night they gave him
a different impression, and something like a smile broke through the
encrusted stone-dust on their faces; it was the reflection of the
bright new kroner that lay in their pockets after the exhausting
labor of the week. Some of them had to visit the post-office to
renew their lottery tickets or to ask for a postponement, and here
and there one was about to enter a tavern, but at the last moment
would be captured by his wife, leading a child by the hand.

Anker stood motionless on the sidewalk, his face turned toward the
passing workers. He had bared his head, and the great plume of his
hat drooped to the ground behind him; he looked agitated, as though
something were fermenting within him, which could not find utterance,
save in an odd, unintelligible noise. The workers shook their heads
sadly as they trudged onward; one solitary young fellow threw him a
playful remark. "Keep your hat on--it's not a funeral!" he cried.
A few foreign seamen came strolling over the hill from the harbor;
they came zigzagging down the street, peeping in at all the street
doors, and laughing immoderately as they did so. One of them made
straight for Anker with outstretched arms, knocked off his hat,
and went on with his arm in the air as though nothing had happened.
Suddenly he wheeled about. "What, are you giving yourself airs?" he
cried, and therewith he attacked the lunatic, who timidly set about
resisting him. Then another sailor ran up and struck Anker behind
the knees, so that he fell. He lay on the ground shouting and
kicking with fright, and the whole party flung itself upon him.

The boys scattered in all directions, in order to gather stones
and come to Anker's assistance. Pelle stood still, his body jerking
convulsively, as though the old sickness were about to attack him.
Once he sprang forward toward Anker, but something within him told
him that sickness had deprived him of his blind courage.

There was one pale, slender youth who was not afraid. He went right
among the sailors, in order to drag them off the lunatic, who was
becoming quite frantic under their treatment of him.

"He isn't in his right mind!" cried the boy, but he was hurled back
with a bleeding face.

This was Morten, the brother of Jens the apprentice. He was so angry
that he was sobbing.

Then a tall man came forward out of the darkness, with a rolling
gait; he came forward muttering to himself. "Hurrah!" cried the
boys. "Here comes the 'Great Power.'" But the man did not hear; he
came to a standstill by the fighting group and stood there, still
muttering. His giant figure swayed to and fro above them. "Help him,
father!" cried Morten. The man laughed foolishly, and began slowly
to pull his coat off. "Help him, then!" bellowed the boy, quite
beside himself, shaking his father's arm. Jorgensen stretched out
his hand to pat the boy's cheek, when he saw the blood on his face.
"Knock them down!" cried the boy, like one possessed. Then a sudden
shock ran through the giant's body--somewhat as when a heavy load
is suddenly set in motion; he bowed himself a little, shook himself,
and began to throw the sailors aside. One after another they stood
still for a moment, feeling the place where he had seized them, and
then they set off running as hard as they could toward the harbor.

Jorgensen set the madman on his legs again and escorted him home.
Pelle and Morten followed them hand-in-hand. A peculiar feeling
of satisfaction thrilled Pelle through; he had seen strength
personified in action, and he had made a friend.

After that they were inseparable. Their friendship did not grow to
full strength; it overshadowed them suddenly, magically conjured out
of their hearts. In Morten's pale, handsome face there was something
indescribable that made Pelle's heart throb in his breast, and a
gentler note came into the voices of all who spoke to him. Pelle did
not clearly understand what there could be attractive about himself;
but he steeped himself in this friendship, which fell upon his
ravaged soul like a beneficent rain. Morten would come up into the
workshop as soon as work was over, or wait for Pelle at the corner.
They always ran when they were going to meet. If Pelle had to work
overtime, Morten did not go out, but sat in the workshop and amused
him. He was very fond of reading, and told Pelle about the contents
of many books.

Through Morten, Pelle drew nearer to Jens, and found that he had
many good qualities under his warped exterior. Jens had just that
broken, despondent manner which makes a child instinctively suspect
a miserable home. Pelle had at first supposed that Jens and Morten
must have been supported by the poor-box; he could not understand
how a boy could bear his father to be a giant of whom the whole
town went in terror. Jens seemed hard of hearing when any one spoke
to him. "He has had so many beatings," said Morten. "Father can't
endure him, because he is stupid." Clever he was not, but he could
produce the most wonderful melodies by whistling merely with his
lips, so that people would stand still and listen to him.

After his illness Pelle had a more delicate ear for everything. He
no longer let the waves pass over him, careless as a child, but sent
out tentacles--he was seeking for something. Everything had appeared
to him as simpler than it was, and his dream of fortune had been too
crudely conceived; it was easily shattered, and there was nothing
behind it for him to rest on. Now he felt that he must build a
better foundation, now he demanded nourishment from a wider radius,
and his soul was on the alert for wider ventures; he dropped his
anchors in unfamiliar seas. The goal of his desires receded into
the unknown; he now overcame his aversion from the great and
mysterious Beyond, where the outlines of the face of God lay hidden.
The God of Bible history and the sects had for Pelle been only a
man, equipped with a beard, and uprightness, and mercy, and all the
rest; he was not to be despised, but the "Great Power" was certainly
stronger. Hitherto Pelle had not felt the want of a God; he had only
obscurely felt his membership in that all-loving God who will arise
from the lowest and foulest and overshadow heaven; in that frenzied
dream of the poor, who see, in a thousand bitter privations, the
pilgrimage to the beloved land. But now he was seeking for that
which no words can express; now the words, "the millennium," had
a peculiar sound in his ears.

Anker, of course, was crazy, because the others said so; when they
laughed at him, Pelle laughed with them, but there was still
something in him that filled Pelle with remorse for having laughed
at him. Pelle himself would have liked to scramble money from the
top of his high steps if he had been rich; and if Anker talked
strangely, in curious phrases, of a time of happiness for all the
poor, why, Father Lasse's lamentations had dealt with the same
subject, as far back as he could remember. The foundation of the
boy's nature felt a touch of the same pious awe which had forbidden
Lasse and the others, out in the country, to laugh at the insane,
for God's finger had touched them, so that their souls wandered in
places to which no other could attain. Pelle felt the face of the
unknown God gazing at him out of the mist.

He had become another being since his illness; his movements were
more deliberate, and the features of his round childish face had
become more marked and prominent. Those two weeks of illness had
dislodged his cares, but they were imprinted on his character,
to which they lent a certain gravity. He still roamed about alone,
encompassing himself with solitude, and he observed the young master
in his own assiduous way. He had an impression that the master was
putting him to the proof, and this wounded him. He himself knew that
that which lay behind his illness would never be repeated, and he
writhed uneasily under suspicion.

One day he could bear it no longer. He took the ten kroner which
Lasse had given him so that he might buy a much-needed winter
overcoat, and went in to the master, who was in the cutting-out
room, and laid them on the table. The master looked at him with
a wondering expression, but there was a light in his eyes.

"What the devil is that?" he asked, drawling.

"That's master's money," said Pelle, with averted face.

Master Andres gazed at him with dreamy eyes, and then he seemed
to return, as though from another world, and Pelle all at once
understood what every one said--that the young master was going
to die. Then he burst into tears.

But the master himself could not understand.

"What the deuce. But that means nothing!" he cried, and he tossed
the ten kroner in the air. "Lord o' me! what a lot of money! Well,
you aren't poor!" He stood there, not knowing what to believe, his
hand resting on Pelle's shoulder.

"It's right," whispered Pelle. "I've reckoned it up exactly. And the
master mustn't suspect me--I'll never do it again."

Master Andres made a gesture of refusal with his hand, and wanted
to speak, but at that very moment he was attacked by a paroxysm of
coughing. "You young devil!" he groaned, and leaned heavily on Pelle;
his face was purple. Then came a fit of sickness, and the sweat
beaded his face. He stood there for a little, gasping for breath
while his strength returned, and then he slipped the money into
Pelle's hand and pushed him out of the room.

Pelle was greatly dejected. His uprightness was unrewarded, and what
had become of his vindication? He had been so glad to think that
he would shake himself free of all the disgrace. But late in the
afternoon the master called him into the cutting-out room. "Here,
Pelle," he said confidentially, "I want to renew my lottery ticket;
but I've no money. Can you lend me those ten kroner for a week?"
So it was all as it should be; his one object was to put the whole
disgrace away from him.

Jens and Morten helped him in that. There were three of them now;
and Pelle had a feeling that he had a whole army at his back. The
world had grown no smaller, no less attractive, by reason of the
endless humiliations of the year. And Pelle knew down to the ground
exactly where he stood, and that knowledge was bitter enough. Below
him lay the misty void, and the bubbles which now and again rose to
the surface and broke did not produce in him any feeling of mystical
wonder as to the depths. But he did not feel oppressed thereby; what
was, was so because it must be. And over him the other half of the
round world revolved in the mystery of the blue heavens, and again
and again he heard its joyous _Forward! On!_



IX

In his loneliness Pelle had often taken his way to the little house
by the cemetery, where Due lived in two little rooms. It was always
a sort of consolation to see familiar faces, but in other respects
he did not gain much by his visits; Due was pleasant enough, but
Anna thought of nothing but herself, and how she could best get on.
Due had a situation as coachman at a jobmaster's, and they seemed
to have a sufficiency.

"We have no intention of being satisfied with driving other people's
horses," Anna would say, "but you must crawl before you can walk."
She had no desire to return to the country.

"Out there there's no prospects for small people, who want something
more than groats in their belly and a few rags on their back. You
are respected about as much as the dirt you walk on, and there's no
talk of any future. I shall never regret that we've come away from
the country."

Due, on the contrary, was homesick. He was quite used to knowing
that there was a quarter of a mile between him and the nearest
neighbor, and here he could hear, through the flimsy walls, whether
his neighbors were kissing, fighting, or counting their money. "It
is so close here, and then I miss the earth; the pavements are so
hard."

"He misses the manure--he can't come treading it into the room,"
said Anna, in a superior way; "for that was the only thing there was
plenty of in the country. Here in the town too the children can get
on better; in the country poor children can't learn anything that'll
help them to amount to something; they've got to work for their
daily bread. It's bad to be poor in the country!"

"It's worse here in town," said Pelle bitterly, "for here only those
who dress finely amount to anything!"

"But there are all sorts of ways here by which a man can earn money,
and if one way doesn't answer, he can try another. Many a man has
come into town with his naked rump sticking out of his trousers, and
now he's looked up to! If a man's only got the will and the energy
--well, I've thought both the children ought to go to the municipal
school, when they are older; knowledge is never to be despised."

"Why not Marie as well?" asked Pelle.

"She? What? She's not fitted to learn anything. Besides, she's only
a girl."

Anna, like her brother Alfred, had set herself a lofty goal. Her
eyes were quite bright when she spoke of it, and it was evidently
her intention to follow it regardless of consequences. She was a
loud-voiced, capable woman with an authoritative manner; Due simply
sat by and smiled and kept his temper. But in his inmost heart,
according to report, he knew well enough what he wanted. He never
went to the public-house, but came straight home after work; and in
the evening he was never happier than when all three children were
scrambling over him. He made no distinction between his own two
youngsters and the six-year-old Marie, whom Anna had borne before
she married him.

Pelle was very fond of little Marie, who had thrived well enough so
long as her child-loving grandparents had had her, but now she was
thin and had stopped growing, and her eyes were too experienced.
She gazed at one like a poor housewife who is always fretted and
distressed, and Pelle was sorry for her. If her mother was harsh to
her, he always remembered that Christmastide evening when he first
visited his Uncle Kalle, and when Anna, weeping and abashed, had
crept into the house, soon to be a mother. Little Anna, with the
mind of a merry child, whom everybody liked. What had become of
her now?

One evening, as Morten was not at liberty, he ran thither. Just
as he was on the point of knocking, he heard Anna storming about
indoors; suddenly the door flew open and little Marie was thrown
out upon the footpath. The child was crying terribly.

"What's the matter, then?" asked Pelle, in his cheerful way.

"What's the matter? The matter is that the brat is saucy and won't
eat just because she doesn't get exactly the same as the others.
Here one has to slave and reckon and contrive--and for a bad girl
like that! Now she's punishing herself and won't eat. Is it anything
to her what the others have? Can she compare herself with them?
She's a bastard brat and always will be, however you like to dress
it up!"

"She can't help that!" said Pelle angrily.

"Can't help it! Perhaps I can help it? Is it my fault that she
didn't come into the world a farmer's daughter, but has to put up
with being a bastard? Yes, you may believe me, the neighbors' wives
tell me to my face she hasn't her father's eyes, and they look at
me as friendly as a lot of cats! Am I to be punished all my life,
perhaps, because I looked a bit higher, and let myself be led astray
in a way that didn't lead to anything? Ah, the little monster!" And
she clenched her fists and shook them in the direction from which
the child's crying could still be heard.

"Here one goes and wears oneself out to keep the house tidy and to
be respectable, and then no one will treat me as being as good as
themselves, just because once I was a bit careless!" She was quite
beside herself.

"If you aren't kind to little Marie, I shall tell Uncle Kalle,"
said Pelle warningly.

She spat contemptuously. "Then you can tell him. Yes, I wish to
God you'd do it! Then he'd come and take her away, and delighted
I should be!"

But now Due was heard stamping on the flags outside the door, and
they could hear him too consoling the child. He came in holding her
by the hand, and gave his wife a warning look, but said nothing.
"There, there--now all that's forgotten," he repeated, in order to
check the child's sobs, and he wiped away the grimy tears from her
cheeks with his great thumbs.

Anna brought him his food, sulkily enough, and out in the kitchen
she muttered to herself. Due, while he ate his supper of bacon
and black bread, stood the child between his knees and stared at
her with round eyes. "Rider!" she said, and smiled persuasively.
"Rider!" Due laid a cube of bacon on a piece of bread.

  "There came a rider riding
  On his white hoss, hoss, hoss, hoss!"

he sang, and he made the bread ride up to her mouth. "And then?"

"Then, _pop_ he rode in at the gate!" said the child, and
swallowed horse and rider.

While she ate she kept her eyes fixed upon him unwaveringly, with
that painful earnestness which was so sad to see. But sometimes it
happened that the rider rode right up to her mouth, and then, with
a jerk, turned about, and disappeared, at a frantic gallop, between
Due's white teeth. Then she smiled for a moment.

"There's really no sense shoving anything into her," said Anna, who
was bringing coffee in honor of the visitor. "She gets as much as
she can eat, and she's not hungry."

"She's hungry, all the same!" hummed Due.

"Then she's dainty--our poor food isn't good enough for her. She
takes after her father, I can tell you! And what's more, if she
isn't naughty now she soon will be when once she sees she's
backed up."

Due did not reply. "Are you quite well again now?" he asked,
turning to Pelle.

"What have you been doing to-day?" asked Anna, filling her husband's
long pipe.

"I had to drive a forest ranger from up yonder right across the
whole of the moor. I got a krone and a half for a tip."

"Give it to me, right away!"

Due passed her the money, and she put it into an old coffeepot.
"This evening you must take the bucket to the inspector's,"
she said.

Due stretched himself wearily. "I've been on the go since half-past
four this morning," he said.

"But I've promised it faithfully, so there's nothing else to be done.
And then I thought you'd see to the digging for them this autumn;
you can see when we've got the moonlight, and then there's Sundays.
If we don't get it some one else will--and they are good payers."

Due did not reply.

"In a year or two from now, I'm thinking, you'll have your own
horses and won't need to go scraping other people's daily bread
together," she said, laying her hand on his shoulder, "Won't you
go right away and take the bucket? Then it's done. And I must have
some small firewood cut before you go to bed."

Due sat there wearily blinking. After eating, fatigue came over him.
He could hardly see out of his eyes, so sleepy was he. Marie handed
him his cap, and at last he got on his legs. He and Pelle went out
together.

The house in which Due lived lay far up the long street, which ran
steeply down to the sea. It was an old watercourse, and even now
when there was a violent shower the water ran down like a rushing
torrent between the poor cottages.

Down on the sea-road they met a group of men who were carrying
lanterns in their hands; they were armed with heavy sticks, and one
of them wore an old leather hat and carried a club studded with
spikes. This was the night-watch. They moved off, and behind them
all went the new policeman, Pihl, in his resplendent uniform. He
kept well behind the others, in order to show off his uniform, and
also to ensure that none of the watch took to their heels. They were
half drunk, and were taking their time; whenever they met any one
they stood still and related with much detail precisely why they had
taken the field. The "Great Power" was at his tricks again. He had
been refractory all day, and the provost had given the order to keep
an eye on him. And quite rightly, for in his cups he had met Ship-
owner Monsen, on Church Hill, and had fallen upon him with blows
and words of abuse: "So you take the widow's bread out of her mouth,
do you? You told her the _Three Sisters_ was damaged at sea,
and you took over her shares for next to nothing, did you? Out of
pure compassion, eh, you scoundrel? And there was nothing the matter
with the ship except that she had done only too well and made a big
profit, eh? So you did the poor widow a kindness, eh?" A scoundrel,
he called him and at every question he struck him a blow, so that he
rolled on the ground. "We are all witnesses, and now he must go to
prison. A poor stone-cutter oughtn't to go about playing the judge.
Come and help us catch him, Due--you are pretty strong!"

"It's nothing to do with me," said Due.

"You do best to keep your fingers out of it," said one of the men
derisively; "you might get to know the feel of his fist." And they
went on, laughing contemptuously.

"They won't be so pleased with their errand when they've done," said
Due, laughing. "That's why they've got a nice drop stowed away--
under their belts. To give them courage. The strong man's a swine,
but I'd rather not be the one he goes for."

"Suppose they don't get him at all!" said Pelle eagerly.

Due laughed. "They'll time it so that they are where he isn't. But
why don't he stick to his work and leave his fool's tricks alone? He
could have a good drink and sleep it off at home--he's only a poor
devil, he ought to leave it to the great people to drink themselves
silly!"

But Pelle took another view of the affair. The poor man of course
ought to go quietly along the street and take his hat off to
everybody; and if anybody greeted him in return he'd be quite proud,
and tell it to his wife as quite an event, as they were going to
bed. "The clerk raised his hat to me to-day--yes, that he did!" But
Stonecutter Jorgensen looked neither to right nor to left when he
was sober, and in his cups he trampled everybody underfoot.

Pelle by no means agreed with the pitiful opinions of the town. In
the country, whence he came, strength was regarded as everything,
and here was a man who could have taken strong Erik himself and put
him in his pocket. He roamed about in secret, furtively measuring
his wrists, and lifted objects which were much too heavy for him; he
would by no means have objected to be like the "Great Power," who,
as a single individual, kept the whole town in a state of breathless
excitement, whether he was in one of his raging moods or whether he
lay like one dead. The thought that he was the comrade of Jens and
Morten made him quite giddy, and he could not understand why they
bowed themselves so completely to the judgment of the town, as no
one could cast it in their teeth that they were on the parish, but
only that their father was a powerful fellow.

Jens shrank from continually hearing his father's name on all lips,
and avoided looking people in the eyes, but in Morten's open glance
he saw no trace of this nameless grief.

One evening, when matters were quite at their worst, they took Pelle
home with them. They lived in the east, by the great clay-pit, where
the refuse of the town was cast away. Their mother was busy warming
the supper in the oven, and in the chimney-corner sat a shrivelled
old grandmother, knitting. It was a poverty-stricken home.

"I really thought that was father," said the woman, shivering.
"Has any of you heard of him?"

The boys related what they had heard; some one had seen him here,
another there. "People are only too glad to keep us informed," said
Jens bitterly.

"Now it's the fourth evening that I've warmed up his supper to no
purpose," the mother continued. "Formerly he used to take care to
look in at home, however much they were after him--but he may come
yet."

She tried to smile hopefully, but suddenly threw her apron in front
of her eyes and burst into tears. Jens went about with hanging head,
not knowing what he ought to do; Morten put his arm behind the weary
back and spoke soothingly: "Come, come; it isn't worse than it has
often been!" And he stroked the projecting shoulder-blades.

"No, but I did feel so glad that it was over. A whole year almost
he never broke out, but took his food quietly when he came home from
work, and then crawled into bed. All that time he broke nothing; he
just slept and slept; at last I believed he had become weak-minded,
and I was glad for him, for he had peace from those terrible ideas.
I believed he had quieted down after all his disgraces, and would
take life as it came; as the rest of his comrades do. And now he's
broken out again as audacious as possible, and it's all begun over
again!" She wept desolately.

The old woman sat by the stove, her shifting glance wandering from
one to another; she was like a crafty bird of prey sitting in a cage.
Then her voice began, passionless and uninflected:

"You're a great donkey; now it's the fourth evening you've made
pancakes for your vagabond; you're always at him, kissing and
petting him! I wouldn't sweeten my husband's sleep if he had behaved
so scandalously to his wife and family; he could go to bed and
get up again hungry, and dry too, for all I cared; then he'd learn
manners at last. But there's no grit in you--that's the trouble;
you put up with all his sauciness."

"If I were to lay a stone in his way--why, who would be good to him,
if his poor head wanted to lie soft? Grandmother ought to know how
much he needs some one who believes in him. And there's nothing else
I can do for him."

"Yes, yes; work away and wear yourself out, so that there's always
something for the great fellow to smash if he has a mind to! But now
you go to bed and lie down; I'll wait up for Peter and give him his
food, if he comes; you must be half dead with weariness, you poor
worm."

"There's an old proverb says, 'A man's mother is the devil's pother,'
but it don't apply to you, grandmother," said the mother of the boys
mildly. "You always take my part, although there's no need. But now
you go to bed! It's far past your bed-time, and I'll look after
Peter. It's so easy to manage him if only he knows that you mean
well by him."

The old woman behaved as though she did not hear; she went on
knitting. The boys remembered that they had brought something with
them; a bag of coffee-beans, some sugar-candy, and a few rolls.

"You waste all your hard-earned shillings on me," said the mother
reproachfully, and put the water to boil for the coffee, while her
face beamed with gratitude.

"They've no young women to waste it on," said the old woman dryly.

"Grandmother's out of humor this evening," said Morten. He had taken
off the old woman's glasses and looked smilingly into her gray eyes.

"Out of humor--yes, that I am! But time passes, I tell you, and here
one sits on the edge of the grave, waiting for her own flesh and
blood to get on and do something wonderful, but nothing ever happens!
Energies are wasted--they run away like brook-water into the sea--
and the years are wasted too--or is it lies I'm telling you? All
want to be masters; no one wants to carry the sack; and one man
seizes hold of another and clambers over him just to reach an inch
higher. And there ought to be plenty in the house--but there's
poverty and filth in every corner. I should think the dear God will
soon have had enough of it all! Not an hour goes by but I curse
the day when I let myself be wheedled away from the country; there
a poor man's daily bread grows in the field, if he'll take it as it
comes. But here he must go with a shilling in his fist, if it's only
that he wants a scrap of cabbage for his soup. If you've money you
can have it; if you haven't, you can leave it. Yes, that's how it is!
But one must live in town in order to have the same luck as Peter!
Everything promised splendidly, and I, stupid old woman, have always
had a craving to see my own flesh and blood up at the top. And now
I sit here like a beggar-princess! Oh, it has been splendid--I'm
the mother of the biggest vagabond in town!"

"Grandmother shouldn't talk like that," said the mother of the boys.

"Yes, yes; but I'm sick of it all--and yet I can't think about dying!
How can I go and lay me down--who would take a stick to Peter?--the
strong man!" she said contemptuously.

"Grandmother had better go quietly and lie down; I can manage Peter
best if I'm alone with him," said the wife, but the old woman did
not move.

"Can't you get her to go, Morten?" whispered the mother. "You are
the only one she will listen to."

Morten lectured the old woman until he had enticed her away; he had
to promise to go with her and arrange the bedclothes over her feet.

"Now, thank goodness, we've got her out of the way!" said the mother,
relieved. "I'm always so afraid that father might forget what he's
doing when he's like he is now; and she doesn't think of giving in
to him, so it's flint against flint. But now I think you ought to go
where the rest of the young folks are, instead of sitting here and
hanging your heads."

"We'll stay and see whether father comes," declared Morten.

"But what does it matter to you--you can say good-day to father at
any time. Go now--listen--father prefers to find me alone when he's
like this and comes home merry. Perhaps he takes me in his arms and
swings me round--he's so strong--so that I feel as giddy as a young
girl. 'Ho, heigh, wench, here's the "Great Power"!' he says, and he
laughs as loud as he used to in his rowdy young days. Yes, when he's
got just enough in him he gets as strong and jolly as ever he was in
his very best days. I'm glad it's soon over. But that's not for you
--you had better go." She looked at them appealingly, and shrank
back as some one fumbled at the door. Out-of-doors it was terrible
weather.

It was only the youngest, who had come home from her day's work. She
might have been ten or twelve years old and was small for her age,
although she looked older; her voice was harsh and strident, and
her little body seemed coarsened and worn with work. There was not
a spot about her that shed or reflected a single ray of light; she
was like some subterranean creature that has strayed to the surface.
She went silently across the room and let herself drop into her
grandmother's chair; she leaned over to one side as she sat, and
now and again her features contracted.

"She's got that mischief in her back," said the mother, stroking her
thin, unlovely hair. "She got it always carrying the doctor's little
boy--he's so tall and so heavy. But as long as the doctor says
nothing, it can't be anything dangerous. Yes, you did really leave
home too early, my child; but, after all, you get good food and you
learn to be smart. And capable, that she is; she looks after the
doctor's three children all by herself! The eldest is her own age,
but she has to dress and undress her. Such grand children, they
don't even learn how to do things for themselves!"

Pelle stared at her curiously. He himself had put up with a good
deal, but to cripple himself by dragging children about, who were
perhaps stronger than himself--no, no one need expect that of him!
"Why do you carry the over-fed brat?" he asked.

"They must have some one to look after them," said the mother, "and
their mother, who's the nearest to them, she doesn't feel inclined
to do it. And they pay her for it."

"If it was me, I'd let the brat fall," said Pelle boldly.

The little girl just glanced at him with her dull eyes, and a
feeble interest glimmered in them. But her face retained its frozen
indifference, and it was impossible to say what she was thinking,
so hard and experienced was her expression.

"You mustn't teach her anything naughty," said the mother; "she has
enough to struggle against already; she's got an obstinate nature.
And now you must go to bed, Karen"--she caressed her once more--
"Father can't bear to see you when he's had too much. He's so fond
of her," she added helplessly.

Karen drew away from the caress without the slightest change of
expression; silently she went up to the garret where she slept.
Pelle had not heard her utter a sound.

"That's how she is," said the mother, shivering. "Never a word to
say 'good night'! Nothing makes any impression on her nowadays--
neither good nor bad; she's grown up too soon. And I have to manage
so that father doesn't see her when he's merry. He goes on like a
wild beast against himself and everybody else when it comes across
his mind how she's been put upon." She looked nervously at the clock.
"But go now--do listen! You'll do me a great favor if you'll go!"
She was almost crying.

Morten stood up, hesitating, and the others followed his example.
"Pull your collars up and run," said the mother, and buttoned up
their coats. The October gale was beating in gusts against the house,
and the rain was lashing violently against the window-panes.

As they were saying good night a fresh noise was heard outside. The
outer door banged against the wall, and they heard the storm burst
in and fill the entry. "Ah, now it's too late!" lamented the mother
reproachfully. "Why didn't you go sooner?" A monstrous breathing
sounded outside, like the breathing of a gigantic beast, sniffing up
and down at the crack of the door, and fumbling after the latch with
its dripping paws. Jens wanted to run and open the door. "No, you
mustn't do that!" cried his mother despairingly, and she pushed the
bolt. She stood there, rigid, her whole body trembling. Pelle too
began to shiver; he had a feeling that the storm itself was lying
there in the entry like a great unwieldy being, puffing and snorting
in a kind of gross content, and licking itself dry while it waited
for them.

The woman bent her ear to the door, listening in frantic suspense.
"What is he up to now?" she murmured; "he is so fond of teasing!"
She was crying again. The boys had for the moment forgotten her.

Then the outer door was beaten in, and the monster got up on all
four dripping paws, and began to call them with familiar growls.
The woman turned about in her distress; waving her hands helplessly
before her, and then clapping them to her face. But now the great
beast became impatient; it struck the door sharply, and snarled
warningly. The woman shrank back as though she herself were about
to drop on all fours and answered him. "No, no!" she cried, and
considered a moment. Then the door was burst in with one tremendous
blow, and Master Bruin rolled over the threshold and leaped toward
them in clumsy jumps, his head thrown somewhat backward as though
wondering why his little comrade had not rushed to meet him, with
an eager growl. "Peter, Peter, the boy!" she whispered, bending over
him; but he pushed her to the floor with a snarl, and laid one heavy
paw upon her. She tore herself away from him and escaped to a chair.

"Who am I?" he asked, in a stumbling, ghostly voice, confronting
her.

"The great strong man!" She could not help smiling; he was ramping
about in such a clumsy, comical way.

"And you?"

"The luckiest woman in all the world!" But now her voice died away
in a sob.

"And where is the strong man to rest to-night?" He snatched at her
breast.

She sprang up with blazing eyes. "You beast--oh, you beast!" she
cried, red with shame, and she struck him in the face.

The "Great Power" wiped his face wonderingly after each blow. "We're
only playing," he said. Then, in a flash, he caught sight of the
boys, who had shrunk into a corner. "There you are!" he said, and he
laughed crazily; "yes, mother and I, we're having a bit of a game!
Aren't we, mother?"

But the woman had run out of doors, and now stood under the eaves,
sobbing.

Jorgensen moved restlessly to and fro. "She's crying," he muttered.
"There's no grit in her--she ought to have married some farmer's
lad, devil take it, if the truth must be told! It catches me here
and presses as though some one were shoving an iron ferrule into my
brain. Come on, 'Great Power'! Come on! so that you can get some
peace from it! I say every day. No, let be, I say then--you must
keep a hold on yourself, or she just goes about crying! And she's
never been anything but good to you! But deuce take it, if it would
only come out! And then one goes to bed and says, Praise God, the
day is done--and another day, and another. And they stand there and
stare--and wait; but let them wait; nothing happens, for now the
'Great Power' has got control of himself! And then all at once it's
there behind! Hit away! Eight in the thick of the heap! Send them
all to hell, the scoundrels! 'Cause a man must drink, in order to
keep his energies in check.... Well, and there she sits! Can one
of you lend me a krone?"

"Not I!" said Jens.

"No, not you--he'd be a pretty duffer who'd expect anything from you!
Haven't I always said 'he takes after the wrong side'? He's like his
mother. He's got a heart, but he's incapable. What can you really do,
Jens? Do you get fine clothes from your master, and does he treat
you like a son, and will you finish up by taking over the business
as his son-in-law? And why not? if I may ask the question. Your
father is as much respected as Morten's."

"Morten won't be a son-in-law, either, if his master has no
daughter," Jens muttered.

"No. But he might have had a daughter, hey? But there we've got an
answer. You don't reflect. Morten, he's got something there!" He
touched his forehead.

"Then you shouldn't have hit me on the head," retorted Jens sulkily.

"On the head--well! But the understanding has its seat in the head.
That's where one ought to hammer it in. For what use would it be,
I ask you, supposing you commit some stupidity with your head and I
smack you on the behind? You don't need any understanding there? But
it has helped--you've grown much smarter. That was no fool's answer
you gave me just now: 'Then you shouldn't have hit me on the head!'"
He nodded in acknowledgment. "No, but here is a head that can give
them some trouble--there are knots of sense in this wood, hey?" And
the three boys had to feel the top of his head.

He stood there like a swaying tree, and listened with a changing
expression to the less frequent sobs of his wife; she was now
sitting by the fire, just facing the door. "She does nothing but
cry," he said compassionately; "that's a way the women have of
amusing themselves nowadays. Life has been hard on us, and she
couldn't stand hardships, poor thing! For example, if I were to say
now that I'd like to smash the stove"--and here he seized a heavy
chair and waved it about in the air--"then she begins to cry. She
cries about everything. But if I get on I shall take another wife
--one who can make a bit of a show. Because this is nonsense. Can
she receive her guests and make fine conversation? Pah! What the
devil is the use of my working and pulling us all out of the mud?
But now I'm going out again--God knows, it ain't amusing here!"

His wife hurried across to him. "Ah, don't go out, Peter--stay
here, do!" she begged.

"Am I to hang about here listening to you maundering on?" he asked
sulkily, shrugging his shoulders. He was like a great, good-natured
boy who gives himself airs.

"I won't maunder--I'm ever so jolly--if only you'll stay!" she
cried, and she smiled through her tears. "Look at me--don't you
see how glad I am? Stay with me, do, 'Great Power!'" She breathed
warmly into his ear; she had shaken off her cares and pulled herself
together, and was now really pretty with her glowing face.

The "Great Power" looked at her affectionately; he laughed stupidly,
as though he was tickled, and allowed himself to be pulled about; he
imitated her whisper to the empty air, and was overflowing with good
humor. Then he slyly approached his mouth to her ear, and as she
listened he trumpeted loudly, so that she started back with a little
cry. "Do stay, you great baby!" she said, laughing. "I won't let you
go; I can hold you!" But he shook her off, laughing, and ran out
bareheaded.

For a moment it looked as though she would run after him, but then
her hands fell, and she drooped her head. "Let him run off," she
said wearily; "now things must go as they will. There's nothing to
be done; I've never seen him so drunk. Yes, you look at me, but you
must remember that he carries his drink differently to every one
else--he is quite by himself in everything!" She said this with a
certain air of pride. "And he has punished the shipowner--and even
the judge daren't touch him. The good God Himself can't be more
upright than he is."



X

Now the dark evenings had come when the lamp had to be lit early for
the workers. The journeyman left while it was still twilight; there
was little for him to do. In November the eldest apprentice had
served his time. He was made to sit all alone in the master's room,
and there he stayed for a whole week, working on his journeyman's
task--a pair of sea-boots. No one was allowed to go in to him, and
the whole affair was extremely exciting. When the boots were ready
and had been inspected by some of the master-shoemakers, they were
filled to the top with water and suspended in the garret; there they
hung for a few days, in order to show that they were water-tight.
Then Emil was solemnly appointed a journeyman, and had to treat the
whole workshop. He drank brotherhood with little Nikas, and in the
evening he went out and treated the other journeymen--and came home
drunk as a lord. Everything passed off just as it should.

On the following day Jeppe came into the workshop. "Well, Emil, now
you're a journeyman. What do you think of it? Do you mean to travel?
It does a freshly baked journeyman good to go out into the world and
move about and learn something."

Emil did not reply, but began to bundle his things together. "No,
no; it's not a matter of life and death to turn you out. You can
come to the workshop here and share the light and the warmth until
you've got something better--those are good conditions, it seems
to me. Now, when I was learning, things were very different--a kick
behind, and out you went! And that's for young men--it's good for
them!"

He could sit in the workshop and enumerate all the masters in the
whole island who had a journeyman. But that was really only a joke
--it never happened that a new journeyman was engaged. On the other
hand, he and the others knew well enough how many freshly-baked
journeymen had been thrown on to the streets that autumn.

Emil was by no means dejected. Two evenings later they saw him off
on the Copenhagen steamer. "There is work enough," he said, beaming
with delight. "You must promise me that you'll write to me in a
year," said Peter, who had finished his apprenticeship at the same
time. "That I will!" said Emil.

But before a month had passed they heard that Emil was home again.
He was ashamed to let himself be seen. And then one morning he came,
much embarrassed, slinking into the workshop. Yes, he had got work
--in several places, but had soon been sent away again. "I have
learned nothing," he said dejectedly. He loitered about for a time,
to enjoy the light and warmth of the workshop, and would sit there
doing some jobs of cobbling which he had got hold of. He kept
himself above water until nearly Christmas-time, but then he gave
in, and disgraced his handicraft by working at the harbor as an
ordinary stevedore.

"I have wasted five years of my life," he used to say when they met
him; "Run away while there's time! Or it'll be the same with you as
it was with me." He did not come to the workshop any longer out of
fear of Jeppe, who was extremely wroth with him for dishonoring his
trade.

It was cozy in the workshop when the fire crackled in the stove and
the darkness looked in at the black, uncovered window-panes. The
table was moved away from the window so that all four could find
place about it, the master with his book and the three apprentices
each with his repairing job. The lamp hung over the table, and
smoked; it managed to lessen the darkness a little. The little light
it gave was gathered up by the great glass balls which focussed it
and cast it upon the work. The lamp swayed slightly, and the specks
of light wriggled hither and thither like tadpoles, so that the work
was continually left in darkness. Then the master would curse and
stare miserably at the lamp.

The others suffered with their eyes, but the master sickened in
the darkness. Every moment he would stand up with a shudder. "Damn
and blast it, how dark it is here; it's as dark as though one lay
in the grave! Won't it give any light to-night?" Then Pelle would
twist the regulator, but it was no better.

When old Jeppe came tripping in, Master Andres looked up without
trying to hide his book; he was in a fighting mood.

"Who is there?" he asked, staring into the darkness. "Ah, it's
father!"

"Have you got bad eyes?" asked the old man derisively. "Will you
have some eye-water?"

"Father's eye-water--no thanks! But this damned light--one can't
see one's hand before one's face!"

"Open your mouth, then, and your teeth will shine!" Jeppe spat the
words out. This lighting was always a source of strike between them.

"No one else in the whole island works by so wretched a light,
you take my word, father."

"In my time I never heard complaints about the light," retorted
Jeppe. "And better work has been done under the glass ball than
any one can do now with all their artificial discoveries. But it's
disappearing now; the young people to-day know no greater pleasure
than throwing their money out of the window after such modern
trash."

"Yes, in father's time--then everything was so splendid!" said
Master Andres. "That was when the angels ran about with white sticks
in their mouths!"

In the course of the evening now one and another would drop in to
hear and tell the news. And if the young master was in a good temper
they would stay. He was the fire and soul of the party, as old
Bjerregrav said; he could, thanks to his reading, give explanations
of so many things.

When Pelle lifted his eyes from his work he was blind. Yonder, in
the workshop, where Baker Jorgen and the rest sat and gossiped, he
could see nothing but dancing specks of light, and his work swam
round in the midst of them; and of his comrades he saw nothing but
their aprons. But in the glass ball the light was like a living
fire, in whose streams a world was laboring.

"Well, this evening there's a capital light," said Jeppe, if one
of them looked to the lamp.

"You mean there's no light at all!" retorted Master Andres,
twisting the regulator.

But one day the ironmonger's man brought something in a big basket
--a hanging lamp with a round burner; and when it was dark the
ironmonger himself came in order to light it for the first time, and
to initiate Pelle into the management of the wonderful contrivance.
He went to work very circumstantially and with much caution. "It can
explode, I needn't tell you," he said, "but you'd have to treat the
mechanism very badly first. If you only set to work with care and
reason there is no danger whatever."

Pelle stood close to him, holding the cylinder, but the others
turned their heads away from the table, while the young master
stood right at the back, and shuffled to and fro. "Devil knows
I don't want to go to heaven in my living body!" he said, with
a comical expression; "but deuce take it, where did you get the
courage, Pelle? You're a saucy young spark!" And he looked at him
with his wide, wondering gaze, which held in it both jest and
earnest.

At last the lamp shone out; and even on the furthest shelf, high
up under the ceiling, one could count every single last. "That's
a regular sun!" said the young master, and he put his hand to his
face; "why, good Lord, I believe it warms the room!" He was quite
flushed, and his eyes were sparkling.

The old master kept well away from the lamp until the ironmonger
had gone; then he came rushing over to it. "Well, aren't you blown
sky-high?" he asked, in great astonishment. "It gives an ugly light
--oh, a horrible light! Poof, I say! And it doesn't shine properly;
it catches you in the eyes. Well, well, you can spoil your sight as
far as I'm concerned!"

But for the others the lamp was a renewal of life. Master Andres
sunned himself in its rays. He was like a sun-intoxicated bird; as
he sat there, quite at peace, a wave of joy would suddenly come over
him. And to the neighbors who gathered round the lamp in order to
discover its qualities he held forth in great style, so that the
light was doubled. They came often and stayed readily; the master
beamed and the lamp shone; they were like insects attracted by the
light--the glorious light!

Twenty times a day the master would go out to the front door, but
he always came in again and sat by the window to read, his boot with
the wooden heel sticking out behind him. He spat so much that Pelle
had to put fresh sand every day under his place.

"Is there some sort of beast that sits in your chest and gnaws?"
said Uncle Jorgen, when Andres' cough troubled him badly. "You look
so well otherwise. You'll recover before we know where we are!"

"Yes, thank God!" The master laughed gaily between two attacks.

"If you only go at the beast hard enough, it'll surely die. Now,
where you are, in your thirtieth year, you ought to be able to get
at it. Suppose you were to give it cognac?"

Jorgen Kofod, as a rule, came clumping in with great wooden shoes,
and Jeppe used to scold him. "One wouldn't believe you've got a
shoemaker for a brother!" he would say crossly; "and yet we all
get our black bread from you."

"But what if I can't keep my feet warm now in those damned leather
shoes? And I'm full through and through of gout--it's a real misery!"
The big baker twisted himself dolefully.

"It must be dreadful with gout like that," said Bjerregrav. "I
myself have never had it."

"Tailors don't get gout," rejoined Baker Jorgen scornfully. "A
tailor's body has no room to harbor it. So much I do know--twelve
tailors go to a pound."

Bjerregrav did not reply.

"The tailors have their own topsy-turvy world," continued the baker.
"I can't compare myself with them. A crippled tailor--well, even he
has got his full strength of body."

"A tailor is as fine a fellow as a black-bread baker!" stammered
Bjerregrav nervously. "To bake black bread--why, every farmer's
wife can do that!"

"Fine! I believe you! Hell and blazes! If the tailor makes a cap
he has enough cloth left over to make himself a pair of breeches.
That's why tailors are always dressed so fine!" The baker was
talking to the empty air.

"Millers and bakers are always rogues, everybody says." Old
Bjerregrav turned to Master Andres, trembling with excitement.
But the young master stood there looking gaily from one to the
other, his lame leg dangling in the air.

"For the tailor nothing comes amiss--there's too much room in me!"
said the baker, as though something were choking him. "Or, as
another proverb says--it's of no more consequence than a tailor in
hell. They are the fellows! We all know the story of the woman who
brought a full-grown tailor into the world without even knowing she
was with child."

Jeppe laughed. "Now, that's enough, really; God knows neither of
you will give in to the other."

"Well, and I've no intention of trampling a tailor to death, if it
can anyhow be avoided--but one can't always see them." Baker Jorgen
carefully lifted his great wooden shoes. "But they are not men.
Now is there even one tailor in the town who has been overseas? No,
and there were no men about while the tailor was being made. A woman
stood in a draught at the front door, and there she brought forth
the tailor." The baker could not stop himself when once he began
to quiz anybody; now that Soren was married, he had recovered all
his good spirits.

Bjerregrav could not beat this. "You can say what you like about
tailors," he succeeded in saying at last. "But people who bake
black bread are not respected as handicraftsmen--no more than the
washerwoman! Tailoring and shoemaking, they are proper crafts,
with craftman's tests, and all the rest."

"Yes, shoemaking of course is another thing," said Jeppe.

"But as many proverbs and sayings are as true of you as of us,"
said Bjerregrav, desperately blinking.

"Well, it's no longer ago than last year that Master Klausen married
a cabinet-maker's daughter. But whom must a tailor marry? His own
serving-maid?"

"Now how can you, father!" sighed Master Andres. "One man's as good
as another."

"Yes, you turn everything upside down! But I'll have my handicraft
respected. To-day all sorts of agents and wool-merchants and other
trash settle in the town and talk big. But in the old days the
handicraftsmen were the marrow of the land. Even the king himself
had to learn a handicraft. I myself served my apprenticeship in the
capital, and in the workshop where I was a prince had learned the
trade. But, hang it all, I never heard of a king who learned
tailoring!"

They were capable of going on forever in this way, but, as the
dispute was at its worst, the door opened, and Wooden-leg Larsen
stumped in, filling the workshop with fresh air. He was wearing a
storm-cap and a blue pilot-coat. "Good evening, children!" he said
gaily, and threw down a heap of leather ferrules and single boots
on the window-bench.

His entrance put life into all. "Here's a playboy for us! Welcome
home! Has it been a good summer?"

Jeppe picked up the five boots for the right foot, one after another,
turned back the uppers, and held heels and soles in a straight line
before his eyes. "A bungler has had these in hand," he growled, and
then he set to work on the casing for the wooden leg. "Well, did the
layer of felt answer?" Larsen suffered from cold in his amputated
foot.

"Yes; I've not had cold feet any more."

"Cold feet!" The baker struck himself on the loins and laughed.

"Yes, you can say what you like, but every time my wooden leg gets
wet I get a cold in the head!"

"That's the very deuce!" cried Jorgen, and his great body rolled
like a hippopotamus. "A funny thing, that!"

"There are many funny things in the world," stammered Bjerregrav.
"When my brother died, my watch stopped at that very moment--it
was he who gave it me."

Wooden-leg Larsen had been through the whole kingdom with his
barrel-organ, and had to tell them all about it; of the railway-
trains which travelled so fast that the landscape turned round on
its own axis, and of the great shops and places of amusement in
the capital.

"It must be as it will," said Master Andres. "But in the summer
I shall go to the capital and work there!"

"In Jutland--that's where they have so many wrecks!" said the baker.
"They say everything is sand there! I've heard that the country is
shifting under their feet--moving away toward the east. Is it true
that they have a post there that a man must scratch himself against
before he can sit down?"

"My sister has a son who has married a Jutland woman and settled
down there," said Bjerregrav. "Have you seen anything of them?"

The baker laughed. "Tailors are so big--they've got the whole world
in their waistcoat pocket. Well, and Funen? Have you been there,
too? That's where the women have such a pleasant disposition. I've
lain before Svendborg and taken in water, but there was no time to
go ashore." This remark sounded like a sigh.

"Can you stand it, wandering so much?" asked Bjerregrav anxiously.

Wooden-leg Larsen looked contemptuously at Bjerregrav's congenital
club-foot--he had received his own injury at Heligoland, at the
hands of an honorable bullet. "If one's sound of limb," he said,
spitting on the floor by the window.

Then the others had to relate what had happened in town during the
course of the summer; of the Finnish barque which had stranded in
the north, and how the "Great Power" had broken out again. "Now he's
sitting in the dumps under lock and key."

Bjerregrav took exception to the name they gave him; he called it
blasphemy, on the ground that the Bible said that power and might
belonged to God alone.

Wooden-leg Larsen said that the word, as they had used it, had
nothing to do with God; it was an earthly thing; across the water
people used it to drive machinery, instead of horses.

"I should think woman is the greatest power," said Baker Jorgen,
"for women rule the world, God knows they do! And God protect us
if they are once let loose on us! But what do you think, Andres,
you who are so book-learned?"

"The sun is the greatest power," said Master Andres. "It rules over
all life, and science has discovered that all strength and force
come from the sun. When it falls into the sea and cools, then the
whole world will become a lump of ice."

"Then the sea is the greatest power!" cried Jeppe triumphantly.
"Or do you know of anything else that tears everything down and
washes it away? And from the sea we get everything back again.
Once when I went to Malaga----"

"Yes, that really is true," said Bjerregrav, "for most people get
their living from the sea, and many their death. And the rich people
we have get all their money from the sea."

Jeppe drew himself up proudly and his glasses began to glitter.
"The sea can bear what it likes, stone or iron, although it is soft
itself! The heaviest loads can travel on its back. And then all at
once it swallows everything down. I have seen ships which sailed
right into the weather and disappeared when their time came."

"I should very much like to know whether the different countries
float on the water, or whether they stand firm on the bottom of
the sea. Don't you know that, Andres?" asked Bjerregrav.

Master Andres thought they stood on the bottom of the sea, far below
the surface; but Uncle Jorgen said: "Nay! Big as the sea is!"

"Yes, it's big, for I've been over the whole island," said
Bjerregrav self-consciously; "but I never got anywhere where I
couldn't see the sea. Every parish in all Bornholm borders on the
sea. But it has no power over the farmers and peasants--they belong
to the land, don't they?"

"The sea has power over all of us," said Larsen. "Some it refuses;
they go to sea for years and years, but then in their old age they
suffer from sea-sickness, and then they are warned. That is why
Skipper Andersen came on shore. And others it attracts, from right
away up in the country! I have been to sea with such people--they
had spent their whole lives up on the island, and had seen the sea,
but had never been down to the shore. And then one day the devil
collared them and they left the plough and ran down to the sea
and hired themselves out. And they weren't the worse seamen."

"Yes," said Baker Jorgen, "and all of us here have been to sea,
and Bornholmers sail on all the seas, as far as a ship can go. And
I have met people who had never been on the sea, and yet they were
as though it was their home. When I sailed the brig _Clara_
for Skipper Andersen, I had such a lad on board as ordinary seaman.
He had never bathed in the sea; but one day, as we were lying at
anchor, and the others were swimming around, he jumped into the
water too--now this is God's truth--as though he were tumbling into
his mother's arms; he thought that swimming came of its own accord.
He went straight to the bottom, and was half dead before we fished
him up again."

"The devil may understand the sea!" cried Master Andres breathlessly.
"It is curved like an arch everywhere, and it can get up on its hind
legs and stand like a wall, although it's a fluid! And I have read
in a book that there is so much silver in the sea that every man in
the whole world might be rich."

"Thou righteous God!" cried Bjerregrav, "such a thing I have never
heard. Now does that come from all the ships that have gone down?
Yes, the sea--that, curse it, is the greatest power!"

"It's ten o'clock," said Jeppe. "And the lamp is going out--that
devil's contrivance!" They broke up hastily, and Pelle turned the
lamp out.

But long after he had laid his head on his pillow everything was
going round inside it. He had swallowed everything, and imaginary
pictures thronged in his brain like young birds in an over-full nest,
pushing and wriggling to find a place wherein to rest. The sea was
strong; now in the wintertime the surging of the billows against the
cliffs was continually in his ear. Pelle was not sure whether it
would stand aside for him! He had an unconscious reluctance to set
himself limits, and as for the power about which they had all been
disputing, it certainly had its seat in Pelle himself, like a vague
consciousness that he was, despite all his defeats, invincible.

At times this feeling manifested itself visibly and helped him
through the day. One afternoon they were sitting and working, after
having swallowed their food in five minutes, as their custom was;
the journeyman was the only one who did not grudge himself a brief
mid-day rest, and he sat reading the newspaper. Suddenly he raised
his head and looked wonderingly at Pelle. "Now what's this? Lasse
Karlson--isn't that your father?"

"Yes," answered Pelle, with a paralyzed tongue, and the blood rushed
to his cheeks. Was Father Lasse in the news? Not among the accidents?
He must have made himself remarkable in one way or another through
his farming! Pelle was nearly choking with excitement, but he did
not venture to ask, and Little Nikas simply sat there and looked
secretive. He had assumed the expression peculiar to the young
master.

But then he read aloud: "Lost! A louse with three tails has escaped,
and may be left, in return for a good tip, with the landowner Lasse
Karlson, Heath Farm. Broken black bread may also be brought there."

The others burst into a shout of laughter, but Pelle turned an ashen
gray. With a leap he was across the table and had pulled little
Nikas to the ground underneath him; there he lay, squeezing the
man's throat with his fingers, trying to throttle him, until he was
overpowered. Emil and Peter had to hold him while the knee-strap put
in its work.

And yet he was proud of the occurrence; what did a miserable
thrashing signify as against the feat of throwing the journeyman
to the ground and overcoming the slavish respect he had felt for
him! Let them dare to get at him again with their lying allusions,
or to make sport of Father Lasse! Pelle was not inclined to adopt
circuitous methods.

And the circumstances justified him. After this he received more
consideration; no one felt anxious to bring Pelle and his cobbler's
tools on top of him, even although the boy could be thrashed
afterward.



XI

The skipper's garden was a desert. Trees and bushes were leafless;
from the workshop window one could look right through them, and
over other gardens beyond, and as far as the backs of the houses
in East Street. There were no more games in the garden; the paths
were buried in ice and melting snow, and the blocks of coral, and
the great conch-shells which, with their rosy mouths and fish-like
teeth, had sung so wonderfully of the great ocean, had been taken
in on account of the frost.

Manna he saw often enough. She used to come tumbling into the
workshop with her school satchel or her skates; a button had got
torn off, or a heel had been wrenched loose by a skate. A fresh
breeze hovered about her hair and cheeks, and the cold made her
face glow. "There is blood!" the young master would say, looking
at her delightedly; he laughed and jested when she came in. But
Manna would hold on to Pelle's shoulder and throw her foot into his
lap, so that he could button her boots. Sometimes she would pinch
him secretly and look angry--she was jealous of Morten. But Pelle
did not understand; Morten's gentle, capable mind had entirely
subjugated him and assumed the direction of their relations. Pelle
was miserable if Morten was not there when he had an hour to spare.
Then he would run, with his heart in his mouth, to find him;
everything else was indifferent to him.

One Sunday morning, as he was sweeping the snow in the yard, the
girls were in their garden; they were making a snowman.

"Hey, Pelle!" they cried, and they clapped their mittens; "come over
here! You can help us to build a snow-house. We'll wall up the door
and light some Christmas-tree candles: we've got some ends. Oh, do
come!"

"Then Morten must come too--he'll be here directly!"

Manna turned up her nose. "No, we don't want Morten here!"

"Why not? He's so jolly!" said Pelle, wounded.

"Yes, but his father is so dreadful--everybody is afraid of him.
And then he's been in prison."

"Yes, for beating some one--that's nothing so dreadful! My father
was too, when he was a young man. That's no disgrace, for it isn't
for stealing."

But Manna looked at him with an expression exactly like Jeppe's when
he was criticizing somebody from his standpoint as a respectable
citizen.

"But, Pelle, aren't you ashamed of it? That's how only the very
poorest people think--those who haven't any feelings of shame!"

Pelle blushed for his vulgar way of looking at things. "It's no
fault of Morten's that his father's like that!" he retorted lamely.

"No, we won't have Morten here. And mother won't let us. She says
perhaps we can play with you, but not with anybody else. We belong
to a very good family," she said, in explanation.

"My father has a great farm--it's worth quite as much as a rotten
barge," said Pelle angrily.

"Father's ship isn't rotten!" rejoined Manna, affronted. "It's the
best in the harbor here, and it has three masts!"

"All the same, you're nothing but a mean hussy!" Pelle spat over
the hedge.

"Yes, and you're a Swede!" Manna blinked her eyes triumphantly,
while Dolores and Aina stood behind her and put out their tongues.

Pelle felt strongly inclined to jump over the garden wall and
beat them; but just then Jeppe's old woman began scolding from
the kitchen, and he went on with his work.

Now, after Christmas, there was nothing at all to do. People were
wearing out their old boots, or they went about in wooden shoes.
Little Nikas was seldom in the workshop; he came in at meal-times
and went away again, and he was always wearing his best clothes.
"He earns his daily bread easily," said Jeppe. Over on the mainland
they didn't feed their people through the winter; the moment there
was no more work, they kicked them out.

In the daytime Pelle was often sent on a round through the harbor
in order to visit the shipping. He would find the masters standing
about there in their leather aprons, talking about nautical affairs;
or they would gather before their doors, to gossip, and each, from
sheer habit, would carry some tool or other in his hand.

And the wolf was at the door. The "Saints" held daily meetings,
and the people had time enough to attend them. Winter proved how
insecurely the town was established, how feeble were its roots; it
was not here as it was up in the country, where a man could enjoy
himself in the knowledge that the earth was working for him. Here
people made themselves as small and ate as little as possible, in
order to win through the slack season.

In the workshops the apprentices sat working at cheap boots and
shoes for stock; every spring the shoemakers would charter a ship
in common and send a cargo to Iceland. This helped them on a little.
"Fire away!" the master would repeat, over and over again; "make
haste--we don't get much for it!"

The slack season gave rise to many serious questions. Many of the
workers were near to destitution, and it was said that the organized
charities would find it very difficult to give assistance to all who
applied for it. They were busy everywhere, to their full capacity.
"And I've heard it's nothing here to what it is on the mainland,"
said Baker Jorgen. "There the unemployed are numbered in tens of
thousands."

"How can they live, all those thousands of poor people, if the
unemployment is so great?" asked Bjerregrav. "The need is bad enough
here in town, where every employer provides his people with their
daily bread."

"Here no one starves unless he wants to," said Jeppe. "We have
a well-organized system of relief."

"You're certainly becoming a Social Democrat, Jeppe," said Baker
Jorgen; "you want to put everything on to the organized charities!"

Wooden-leg Larsen laughed; that was a new interpretation.

"Well, what do they really want? For they are not freemasons. They
say they are raising their heads again over on the mainland."

"Well, that, of course, is a thing that comes and goes with
unemployment," said Jeppe. "The people must do something. Last
winter a son of the sailmaker's came home--well, he was one of them
in secret. But the old folks would never admit it, and he himself
was so clever that he got out of it somehow."

"If he'd been a son of mine he would have got the stick," said
Jorgen.

"Aren't they the sort of people who are making ready for the
millennium? We've got a few of their sort here," said Bjerregrav
diffidently.

"D'you mean the poor devils who believe in the watchmaker and his
'new time'? Yes, that may well be," said Jeppe contemptuously.
"I have heard they are quite wicked enough for that. I'm inclined
to think they are the Antichrist the Bible foretells."

"Ah, but what do they really want?" asked Baker Jorgen. "What is
their madness really driving at?"

"What do they want?" Wooden-leg Larsen pulled himself together.
"I've knocked up against a lot of people, I have, and as far as I
can understand it they want to get justice; they want to take the
right of coining money away from the Crown and give it to everybody.
And they want to overthrow everything, that is quite certain."

"Well," said Master Andres, "what they want, I believe, is perfectly
right, only they'll never get it. I know a little about it, on
account of Garibaldi."

"But what _do_ they want, then, if they don't want to overthrow
the whole world?"

"What do they want? Well, what do they want? That everybody should
have exactly the same?" Master Andres was uncertain.

"Then the ship's boy would have as much as the captain! No, it would
be the devil and all!" Baker Jorgen smacked his thigh and laughed.

"And they want to abolish the king," said Wooden-leg Larsen eagerly.

"Who the devil would reign over us then? The Germans would soon come
hurrying over! That's a most wicked thing, that Danish people should
want to hand over their country to the enemy! All I wonder is that
they don't shoot them down without trial! They'd never be admitted
to Bornholm."

"That we don't really know!" The young master smiled.

"To the devil with them--we'd all go down to the shore and shoot
them: they should never land alive!"

"They are just a miserable rabble, the lot of them," said Jeppe.
"I should very much like to know whether there is a decent citizen
among them."

"Naturally, it's always the poor who complain of poverty," said
Bjerregrav. "So the thing never comes to an end."

Baker Jorgen was the only one of them who had anything to do. Things
would have to be bad indeed before the people stopped buying his
black bread. He even had more to do than usual; the more people
abstained from meat and cheese, the more bread they ate. He often
hired Jeppe's apprentices so that they might help him in the
kneading.

But he was not in a happy frame of mind. He was always shouting his
abuse of Soren through the open doors, because the latter would not
go near his buxom young wife. Old Jorgen had taken him and put him
into bed with her with his own hands, but Soren had got out of the
business by crying and trembling like a new-born calf.

"D'you think he's perhaps bewitched?" asked Master Andres.

"She's young and pretty, and there's not the least fault to be found
with her--and we've fed him with eggs right through the winter. She
goes about hanging her head, she gets no attention from him. 'Marie!
Soren!' I cry, just to put a little life into them--he ought to be
the sort of devil I was, I can tell you! She laughs and blushes, but
Soren, he simply sneaks off. It's really a shame--so dainty as she
is too, in every way. Ah, it ought to have been in my young days,
I can tell you!"

"You are still young enough, Uncle Jorgen!" laughed Master Andres.

"Well, a man could almost bring himself to it--when he considers
what a dreadful injustice is going on under his own eyes. For, look
you, Andres, I've been a dirty beast about all that sort of thing,
but I've been a jolly fellow too; people were always glad to be on
board with me. And I've had strength for a booze, and a girl; and
for hard work in bad weather. The life I've led--it hasn't been
bad; I'd live it all over again the same. But Soren--what sort of
a strayed weakling is he? He can't find his own way about! Now, if
only you would have a chat with him--you've got some influence over
him."

"I'll willingly try."

"Thanks; but look here, I owe you money." Jorgen took ten kroner
and laid them on the table as he was going.

"Pelle, you devil's imp, can you run an errand for me?" The young
master limped into the cutting-out room, Pelle following on his
heels.

A hundred times a day the master would run to the front door, but he
hurried back again directly; he could not stand the cold. His eyes
were full of dreams of other countries, whose climates were kinder,
and he spoke of his two brothers, of whom one was lost in South
America--perhaps murdered. But the other was in Australia, herding
sheep. He earned more at that than the town magistrate received as
salary, and was the cleverest boxer in the neighborhood. Here the
master made his bloodless hands circle one round the other, and let
them fall clenched upon Pelle's back. "That," he said, in a superior
tone, "is what they call boxing. Brother Martin can cripple a man
with one blow. He is paid for it, the devil!" The master shuddered.
His brother had on several occasions offered to send him his
steamer-ticket, but there was that damned leg. "Tell me what
I should do over there, eh, Pelle?"

Pelle had to bring books from the lending library every day,
and he soon learned which writers were the most exciting. He also
attempted to read himself, but he could not get on with it; it was
more amusing to stand about by the skating-pond and freeze and watch
the others gliding over the ice. But he got Morten to tell him of
exciting books, and these he brought home for the master; such was
the "Flying Dutchman." "That's a work of poetry, Lord alive!" said
the master, and he related its contents to Bjerregrav, who took them
all for reality.

"You should have played some part in the great world, Andres--I for
my part do best to stay at home here. But you could have managed
it--I'm sure of it."

"The great world!" said the master scornfully. No, he didn't take
much stock in the world--it wasn't big enough. "If I were to travel,
I should like to look for the way into the interior of the earth--
they say there's a way into it in Iceland. Or it would be glorious
to make a voyage to the moon; but that will always be just a story."

At the beginning of the new year the crazy Anker came to the young
master and dictated a love-letter to the eldest daughter of the
king. "This year he will surely answer," he said thoughtfully.
"Time is passing, and fortune disappears, and there are few that
have their share of it; we need the new time very badly."

"Yes, we certainly do," said Master Andres. "But if such a
misfortune should happen that the king should refuse, why, you
are man enough to manage the matter yourself, Anker!"

It was a slack season, and, just as it was at its very worst,
shoemaker Bohn returned and opened a shop on the marketplace. He
had spent a year on the mainland and had learned all sorts of modern
humbug. There was only one pair of boots in his window, and those
were his own Sunday boots. Every Monday they were put out and
exhibited again, so that there should be something to look at.

If he himself was in the shop, talking to the people, his wife
would sit in the living-room behind and hammer on a boot, so that
it sounded as though there were men in the workshop.

But at Shrovetide Jeppe received some orders. Master Andres came
home quite cheerfully one day from Bjerhansen's cellar; there he
had made the acquaintance of some of the actors of a troupe which
had just arrived. "They are fellows, too!" he said, stroking his
cheeks. "They travel continually from one place to another and give
performances--they get to see the world!" He could not sit quiet.

The next morning they came rioting into the workshop, filling the
place with their deafening gabble. "Soles and heels!" "Heels that
won't come off!" "A bit of heel-work and two on the snout!" So they
went on, bringing great armfuls of boots from under their cloaks,
or fishing them out of bottomless pockets, and throwing them in
heaps on the window-bench, each with his droll remarks. Boots and
shoes they called "understandings"; they turned and twisted every
word, tossing it like a ball from mouth to mouth, until not a trace
of sense was left in it.

The apprentices forgot everything, and could scarcely contain
themselves for laughing, and the young master overflowed with wit--
he was equal to the best of them. Now one saw that he really might
have luck with the women: there was no boasting or lying about it.
The young actress with the hair like the lightest flax could not
keep her eyes off him, although she evidently had all the others
at her petticoat-tails; she made signs to her companions that they
should admire the master's splendid big mustache. The master had
forgotten his lame leg and thrown his stick away; he was on his
knees, taking the actress's measure for a pair of high boots with
patent tops and concertina-like folds in the legs. She had a hole
in the heel of her stocking, but she only laughed over it; one of
the actors cried "Poached egg!" and then they laughed uproariously.

Old Jeppe came tumbling into the room, attracted by the merriment.
The blonde lady called him "Grandfather," and wanted to dance with
him, and Jeppe forgot his dignity and laughed with the rest. "Yes,
it's to us they come when they want to have something good," he said
proudly. "And I learned my trade in Copenhagen, and I used to carry
boots and shoes to more than one play-actor there. We had to work
for the whole theater; Jungfer Patges, who became so famous later
on, got her first dancing shoes from us."

"Yes, those are the fellows!" said Master Andres, as at last they
bustled out; "devil take me, but those are the chaps!" Jeppe could
not in the least understand how they had found their way thither,
and Master Andres did not explain that he had been to the tavern.
"Perhaps Jungfer Patges sent them to me," he said, gazing into the
distance. "She must somehow have kept me in mind."

Free tickets poured in on them; the young master was in the theater
every evening. Pelle received a gallery ticket every time he went
round with a pair of boots. He was to say nothing--but the price
was plainly marked on the sole with chalk.

"Did you get the money?" the master would ask eagerly; he used to
stand on the stairs all the time, waiting. No, Pelle was to present
their very best wishes, and to say they would come round and settle
up themselves.

"Well, well, people of that sort are safe enough," said the master.

One day Lasse came stamping into the workshop and into the midst of
them all, looking the picture of a big farmer, with his fur collar
drawn round his ears. He had a sack of potatoes outside; it was a
present to Pelle's employers, because Pelle was learning his trade
so well. Pelle was given leave and went out with his father; and he
kept looking furtively at the fur collar. At last he could contain
himself no longer, but turned it up inquiringly. Disillusioned, he
let it fall again.

"Ah, yes--er--well--that's just tacked on to my driving-cloak. It
looks well, and it keeps my ears nice and warm. You thought I'd
blossomed out into a proper fur coat? No, it won't run to that just
yet--but it will soon. And I could name you more than one big farmer
who has nothing better than this."

Yes, Pelle was just a trifle disappointed. But he must admit that
there was no difference to be perceived between this cloak and the
real bear-skin. "Are things going on all right?" he asked.

"Oh, yes; at present I am breaking stone. I've got to break twenty
cords if I'm to pay everybody what's owing to him by the Devil's
birthday. [Footnote: The 11th December--the general pay-day and
hiring-day.--TB.] So long as we keep our health and strength, Karna
and I."

They drove to the merchant's and put up the horses. Pelle noticed
that the people at the merchant's did not rush forward to Lasse
quite so eagerly as they did to the real farmers; but Lasse himself
behaved in quite an important manner. He stumped right into the
merchant's counting-house, just like the rest, filled his pipe at
the barrel, and helped himself to a drink of brandy. A cold breath
of air hung about him as he went backward and forward from the
cart with buttoned-up cloak, and he stamped as loudly on the sharp
cobble-stones as though his boot-soles too were made of stone.

Then they went on to Due's cottage; Lasse was anxious to see how
matters were prospering there. "It isn't always easy when one of
the parties brings a love-child into the business."

Pelle explained to him how matters stood. "Tell them at Uncle
Kalle's that they must take little Maria back again. Anna ill-treats
her. They are getting on well in other ways; now they want to buy
a wagon and horses and set up as carriers."

"Do they? Well, it's easy for those to get on who haven't any
heart." Lasse sighed.

"Look, father," said Pelle suddenly, "there's a theater here now,
and I know all the players. I take them their boots, and they give
me a ticket every evening. I've seen the whole thing."

"But, of course, that's all lies, eh?" Lasse had to pull up, in
order to scrutinize Pelle's face. "So you've been in a proper
theater, eh? Well, those who live in the town have got the devil
to thank for it if they are cleverer than a peasant. One can
have everything here!"

"Will you go with me to-night? I can get the tickets."

Lasse was uneasy. It wasn't that he didn't want to go; but the whole
thing was so unaccustomed. However, it was arranged that he should
sleep the night at Due's, and in the evening they both went to the
theater.

"Is it here?" asked Lasse, astounded. They had come to a great
building like a barn, before which a number of people were standing.
But it was fine inside. They sat right up at the top, at the back,
where the seats were arranged like the side of a hill, and they had
a view over the whole theater. Down below, right in front, sat some
ladies who, so far as Lasse could see, were naked. "I suppose those
are the performers?" he inquired.

Pelle laughed. "No, those are the grandest ladies in the town--the
doctor's wife, the burgomaster's lady, and the inspector's wife,
and such like."

"What, they are so grand that they haven't enough clothes to
wear!" cried Lasse. "With us we call that poverty! But where are
the players, then?"

"They are the other side of the curtain."

"Then have they begun already?"

"No, you can see they haven't--the curtain has to go up first."

There was a hole in the curtain, and a finger came through it, and
began to turn from side to side, pointing at the spectators. Lasse
laughed. "That's devilish funny!" he cried, slapping his thighs,
as the finger continued to point.

"It hasn't begun yet," said Pelle.

"Is that so?" This damped Lasse's spirits a little.

But then the big crown-light began suddenly to run up through a hole
in the ceiling; up in the loft some boys were kneeling round the
hole, and as the light came up they blew out the lamps. Then the
curtain went up, and there was a great brightly-lit hall, in which
a number of pretty young girls were moving about, dressed in the
most wonderful costumes--and they were speaking! Lasse was quite
astonished to find that he could understand what they said; the
whole thing seemed so strange and foreign to him; it was like a
peep into dreamland. But there was one maiden who sat there all
alone at her spinning wheel, and she was the fairest of them all.

"That's surely a fine lady?" asked Lasse.

But Pelle whispered that she was only a poor forest maiden, whom the
lord of the castle had robbed, and now he wanted to force her to be
his sweetheart. All the others were making a tremendous lot of her,
combing her golden hair and kneeling before her; but she only looked
unhappier than before. And sometimes her sadness was more than she
could bear; then she opened her beautiful mouth and her wounded
heart bled in song, which affected Lasse so that he had to fetch
a long sighing breath.

Then a tall man with a huge red beard came stamping into the hall.
Lasse saw that he was dressed like a man who has been keeping
Carnival.

"That's the one we made the fine boots for," whispered Pelle: "the
lord of the castle, who wants to seduce her."

"An ugly devil he looks too!" said Lasse, and spat. "The master at
Stone Farm is a child of God compared with him!" Pelle signed to
him to be quiet.

The lord of the castle drove all the other women away, and then
began to tramp stormily to and fro, eyeing the forest maiden and
showing the whites of his eyes. "Well, have you at last decided?"
he roared, and snorted like a mad bull. And suddenly he sprang at
her as if to take her by force.

"Ha! Touch me not!" she cried, "or by the living God, I will plunge
this dagger into my heart! You believe you can buy my innocence
because I am poor, but the honor of the poor is not to be bought
with gold!"

"That's a true word!" said Lasse loudly.

But the lord of the castle gave a malicious laugh, and tugged at
his red beard. He rolled his r's dreadfully.

"Is my offer not enough for you? Come, stay this night with me and
you shall receive a farm with ten head of cattle, so that to-morrow
you can stand at the altar with your huntsman!"

"Hold your tongue, you whoremonger!" said Lasse angrily.

Those round about him tried to calm him; one or another nudged him
in the ribs. "Well, can't a man speak any longer?" Lasse turned
crossly to Pelle. "I'm no clergyman, but if the girl doesn't want
to, let him leave her alone; at any rate he shan't slake his lust
publicly in the presence of hundreds of people with impunity! A
swine like that!" Lasse was speaking loudly, and it seemed as though
his words had had their effect on the lord of the castle. He stood
there awhile staring in front of him, and then called a man, and
bade him lead the maiden back to the forest.

Lasse breathed easily again as the curtain fell and the boys
overhead by the hole in the ceiling relit the lamps and let them
down again. "So far she's got out of it all right," he told Pelle,
"but I don't trust the lord--he's a scoundrel!" He was perspiring
freely, and did not look entirely satisfied.

The next scene which was conjured up on the stage was a forest.
It was wonderfully fine, with pelargoniums blooming on the ground,
and a spring which was flowing out of something green. "That is a
covered beer-barrel!" said Pelle, and now Lasse too could see the
tap, but it was wonderfully natural. Right in the background one
could see the lord's castle on a cliff, and in the foreground lay
a fallen tree-trunk; two green-clad huntsmen sat astride of it,
concocting their evil schemes. Lasse nodded--he knew something of
the wickedness of the world.

Now they heard a sound, and crouched down behind the tree-trunk,
each with a knife in his hand. For a moment all was silent; then
came the forest maiden and her huntsman, wandering all unawares down
the forest path. By the spring they took a clinging and affectionate
farewell; then the man came forward, hurrying to his certain death.

This was too much. Lasse stood up. "Look out!" he cried in a choking
voice: "look out!" Those behind him pulled his coat and scolded him.
"No, devil take you all, I won't hold my tongue!" he cried, and
laid about him. And then he leaned forward again: "Look where you're
going, d'you hear! Your life is at stake! They're hiding behind the
fallen tree!"

The huntsman stood where he was and stared up, and the two
assassins had risen to their feet and were staring, and the actors
and actresses came through from the wings and gazed upward over
the auditorium. Lasse saw that the man was saved, but now he had
to suffer for his services; the manager wanted to throw him out.
"I can perfectly well go by myself," he said. "An honorable man
is one too many in this company!" In the street below he talked
aloud to himself; he was in a blazing temper.

"It was only a play," said Pelle dejectedly. In his heart he was
ashamed of his father.

"You needn't try to teach me about that! I know very well that it
all happened long ago and that I can do nothing to alter it, not
if I was to stand on my head. But that such low doings should be
brought to life again! If the others had felt as I did we should
have taken the lord and thrashed him to death, even if it did come
a hundred years too late!"

"Why--but that was Actor West, who comes to our workshop every day."

"Is that so? Actor West, eh? Then you are Actor Codfish, to let
yourself be imposed on like that! I have met people before now who
had the gift of falling asleep and conjuring up long dead people
in their place--but not so real as here, you understand. If you
had been behind the curtain you would have seen West lying there
like dead, while he, the other one--the Devil--was carrying on
and ordering everybody about. It's a gift I'd rather not have; a
dangerous game! If the others forget the word of command that brings
him back into the body it would be all up with him, and the other
would take his place."

"But that is all superstition! When I know it's West in a play--why,
I recognized him at once!"

"Oh, of course! You are always the cleverer! You'd like a dispute
with the devil himself every day! So it was only a show? When he
was rolling the whites of his eyes in his frantic lust! You believe
me--if she hadn't had that knife he would have fallen on her and
satisfied his desire in front of everybody! Because if you conjure
up long bygone times the action has to have its way, however many
there are to see. But that they should do it for money--for money
--ugh! And now I'm going home!" Lasse would say nothing more, but
had the horses harnessed.

"You had best not go there again," he said at parting. "But if it
has got hold of you already, at least put a knife in your pocket.
Yes, and we'll send you your washing by Butcher Jensen, one
Saturday, soon."

Pelle went to the theater as before; he had a shrewd idea that it
was only a play, but there _was_ something mysterious about it;
people must have a supernatural gift who evening after evening could
so entirely alter their appearance and so completely enter into the
people they represented. Pelle thought he would like to become an
actor if he could only climb high enough.

The players created a considerable excitement when they strolled
through the streets with their napping clothes and queer head-gear;
people ran to their windows to see them, the old folk peeping over
their shoulders. The town was as though transformed as long as they
were in it.

Every mind had taken a perverse direction. The girls cried out in
their sleep and dreamed of abductions; they even left their windows
a little open; and every young fellow was ready to run away with the
players. Those who were not theater-mad attended religious meetings
in order to combat the evil.

And one day the players disappeared--as they had come--and left a
cloud of debts behind them. "Devil's trash!" said the master with
his despondent expression. "They've tricked us! But, all the same,
they were fine fellows in their way, and they had seen the world!"

But after these happenings he could by no means get warm again. He
crawled into bed and spent the best part of the month lying there.



XII

It can be very cozy on those winter evenings when everybody sits at
home in the workshop and passes the time by doing nothing, because
it is so dark and cold out of doors, and one has nowhere to go to.
To stand about by the skating-ponds and to look on, frozen, while
others go swinging past--well, Pelle has had enough of it; and as
for strolling up the street toward the north, and then turning about
and returning toward the south, and turning yet again, up and down
the selfsame street--well, there is nothing in it unless one has
good warm clothes and a girl whose waist one can hold. And Morten
too is no fresh-air disciple; he is freezing, and wants to sit in
the warmth.

So they slink into the workshop as soon as it begins to grow dark,
and they take out the key and hang it on the nail in the entry, in
order to deceive Jeppe, and then they secretly make a fire in the
stove, placing a screen in front of it, so that Jeppe shall not see
the light from it when he makes his rounds past the workshop windows.
They crouch together on the ledge at the bottom of the stove, each
with an arm round the other's shoulder, and Morten tells Pelle about
the books he has read.

"Why do you do nothing but read those stupid books?" asks Pelle,
when he has listened for a time.

"Because I want to know something about life and about the world,"
answers Morten, out of the darkness.

"Of the world?" says Pelle, in a contemptuous tone. "I want to go
out into the world and see things--what's in the books is only lies.
But go on."

And Morten goes on, good-natured as always. And in the midst of his
narrative something suddenly occurs to him, and he pulls a paper
packet from his breast-pocket: "That's chocolate from Bodil," he
says, and breaks the stick in two.

"Where had she put it?" asks Pelle.

"Under the sheet--I felt something hard under my back when
I lay down."

The boys laugh, while they nibble at the chocolate. Suddenly Pelle
says: "Bodil, she's a child-seducer! She enticed Hans Peter away
from Stone Farm--and he was only fifteen!"

Morten does not reply; but after a time his head sinks on Pelle's
shoulder--his body is twitching.

"Well, you are seventeen," says Pelle, consoling. "But it's silly
all the same; she might well be your mother--apart from her age."
And they both laugh.

It can be still cozier on work-day evenings. Then the fire is
burning openly in the stove, even after eight o'clock, and the
lamp is shining, and Morten is there again. People come from
all directions and look in for a moment's visit, and the cold,
an impediment to everything else, awakens all sorts of notable
reminiscences. It is as though the world itself comes creeping
into the workshop. Jeppe conjures up his apprentice years in the
capital, and tells of the great bankruptcy; he goes right back to
the beginning of the century, to a wonderful old capital where the
old people wore wigs, and the rope's-end was always at hand and the
apprentices just kept body and soul together, begging on Sundays
before the doors of the townsfolk. Ah, those were times! And he
comes home and wants to settle down as master, but the guild won't
accept him; he is too young. So he goes to sea as cook, and comes
to places down south where the sun burns so fiercely that the pitch
melts in the seams and the deck scorches one's feet. They are a
merry band, and Jeppe, little as he is, by no means lags behind the
rest. In Malaga they storm a tavern, throw all the Spaniards out
of the window, and sport with the girls--until the whole town falls
upon them and they have to fly to their boat. Jeppe cannot keep up
with them, and the boat shoves off, so that he has to jump into the
water and swim for it. Knives fall splashing about him in the water,
and one sticks shivering in his shoulder-blades. When Jeppe comes to
this he always begins to strip his back to show the scar, and Master
Andres holds him back. Pelle and Morten have heard the story many
a time, but they are willing always to hear it again.

And Baker Jorgen, who for the greater part of his life has been a
seaman on the big vessels sailing the northern and southern oceans,
talks about capstans and icebergs and beautiful black women from
the West Indies. He sets the capstan turning, so that the great
three-master makes sail out of the Havana roadstead, and all his
hearers feel their hearts grow light.

  "Heave ho, the capstan,
  Waltz her well along!
  Leave the girl a-weeping,
  Strike up the song!"

So they walk round and round, twelve men with their breasts pressed
against the heavy capstan-bars; the anchor is weighed, and the sail
fills with the wind--and behind and through his words gleam the
features of a sweetheart in every port. Bjerregrav cannot help
crossing himself--he who has never accomplished anything, except
to feel for the poor; but in the young master's eyes everybody
travels--round and round the world, round and round the world. And
Wooden-leg Larsen, who in winter is quite the well-to-do pensioner,
in blue pilot-coat and fur cap, leaves his pretty, solidly-built
cottage when the Spring comes, and sallies forth into the world as
a poor organ-grinder--he tells them of the Zoological Gardens on the
hill, and the adventurous Holm-Street, and of extraordinary beings
who live upon the dustbins in the back-yards of the capital.

But Pelle's body creaks whenever he moves; his bones are growing
and seeking to stretch themselves; he feels growth and restlessness
in every part and corner of his being. He is the first to whom the
Spring comes; one day it announces itself in him in the form of a
curiosity as to what his appearance is like. Pelle has never asked
himself this question before; and the scrap of looking-glass which
he begged from the glazier from whom he fetches the glass scrapers
tells him nothing truly. He has at bottom a feeling that he is an
impossible person.

He begins to give heed to the opinions of others respecting his
outward appearance; now and again a girl looks after him, and his
cheeks are no longer so fat that people can chaff him about them.
His fair hair is wavy; the lucky curl on his forehead is still
visible as an obstinate little streak; but his ears are still
terribly big, and it is of no use to pull his cap over them, in
order to press them close to his head. But he is tall and well-grown
for his age, and the air of the workshop has been powerless to spoil
his ruddy complexion; and he is afraid of nothing in the world--
particularly when he is angry. He thinks out a hundred different
kinds of exercise in order to satisfy the demands of his body, but
it is of no use. If he only bends over his hammer-work he feels it
in every joint of his body.

And then one day the ice breaks and goes out to sea. Ships are
fitted out again, and provisioned, and follow the ice, and the
people of the town awake to the idea of a new life, and begin to
think of green woods and summer clothing.

And one day the fishing-boats arrive! They come gliding across
from Hellavik and Nogesund on the Swedish coast. They cut swiftly
through the water, heeling far over under their queer lateen sails,
like hungry sea-birds that sweep the waves with one wing-tip in
their search for booty. A mile to seaward the fishermen of the town
receive them with gunshots; they have no permission to anchor in
the fishing port, but have to rent moorings for themselves in the
old ship's harbor, and to spread out the gear to dry toward the
north. The craftsmen of the town come flocking down to the harbor,
discussing the foreign thieves who have come from a poorer country
in order to take the bread out of the mouths of the townsfolk;
for they are inured to all weathers, and full of courage, and are
successful in their fishing. They say the same things every Spring,
but when they want to buy herrings they deal with the Swedes, who
sell more cheaply than the Bornholmers. "Perhaps our fishermen wear
leather boots?" inquires Jeppe. "No, they wear wooden shoes week-
days and Sunday alike. Let the wooden-shoe makers deal with them--I
buy where the fish is cheapest!"

It is as though the Spring in person has arrived with these thin,
sinewy figures, who go singing through the streets, challenging the
petty envy of the town. There are women, too, on every boat, to mend
and clean the gear, and they pass the workshop in crowds, searching
for their old lodgings in the poor part of the town near the "Great
Power's" home. Pelle's heart leaps at the sight of these young women,
with pretty slippers on their feet, black shawls round their oval
faces, and many fine colors in their dress. His mind is full of
shadowy memories of his childhood, which have lain as quiet as
though they were indeed extinguished; vague traditions of a time
that he has experienced but can no longer remember; it is like a
warm breath of air from another and unknown existence.

If it happens that one or another of these girls has a little
child on her arm, then the town has something to talk about. Is it
Merchant Lund again, as it was last year? Lund, who since then had
been known only as "the Herring Merchant"? Or is it some sixteen-
year-old apprentice, a scandal to his pastor and schoolmaster,
whose hands he has only just left?

Then Jens goes forth with his concertina, and Pelle makes haste with
his tidying up, and he and Morten hurry up to Gallows Hill, hand-in-
hand, for Morten finds it difficult to run so quickly. All that the
town possesses of reckless youth is there; but the Swedish girls
take the lead. They dance and whirl until their slippers fly off,
and little battles are fought over them. But on Saturdays the boats
do not go to sea; then the men turn up, with smouldering brows, and
claim their women, and then there is great slaughter.

Pelle enters into it all eagerly; here he finds an opportunity of
that exercise of which his handicraft deprives his body. He hungers
for heroic deeds, and presses so close to the fighters that now and
again he gets a blow himself. He dances with Morten, and plucks up
courage to ask one of the girls to dance with him; he is shy, and
dances like a leaping kid in order to banish his shyness; and in
the midst of the dance he takes to his heels and leaves the girl
standing there. "Damned silly!" say the onlookers, and he hears them
laughing behind him. He has a peculiar manner of entering into all
this recklessness which lets the body claim its due without thought
for the following day and the following year. If some man-hunting
young woman tries to capture his youth he lashes out behind, and
with a few wanton leaps he is off and away. But he loves to join in
the singing when the men and women go homeward with closely-twined
arms, and he and Morten follow them, they too with their arms about
each other. Then the moon builds her bridge of light across the sea,
and in the pinewood, where a white mist lies over the tree-tops,
a song rises from every path, heard as a lulling music in the haunts
of the wandering couples; insistently melancholy in its meaning,
but issuing from the lightest hearts. It is just the kind of song
to express their happiness.

  "Put up, put up thy golden hair;
  A son thou'lt have before a year--
  No help in thy clamor and crying!
  In forty weeks may'st look for me.
  I come to ask how it fares with thee.
  The forty weeks were left behind.
  And sad she was and sick of mind,
  And fell to her clamor and crying--"

And the song continues as they go through the town, couple after
couple, wandering as they list. The quiet winding closes ring with
songs of love and death, so that the old townsfolk lift their heads
from their pillows, and, their nightcaps pushed to one side, wag
gravely at all this frivolity. But youth knows nothing of this;
it plunges reveling onward, with its surging blood. And one day
the old people have the best of it; the blood surges no longer, but
there they are, and there are the consequences, and the consequences
demand paternity and maintenance. "Didn't we say so?" cry the
old folk; but the young ones hang their heads, and foresee a long,
crippled existence, with a hasty marriage or continual payments
to a strange woman, while all through their lives a shadow of
degradation and ridicule clings to them; both their wives and their
company must be taken from beneath them. They talk no longer of
going out into the world and making their way; they used to strut
arrogantly before the old folk and demand free play for their youth,
but now they go meekly in harness with hanging heads, and blink
shamefacedly at the mention of their one heroic deed. And those who
cannot endure their fate must leave the country secretly and by
night, or swear themselves free.

The young master has his own way of enjoying himself. He takes no
part in the chase after the girls; but when the sunlight is really
warm, he sits before the workshop window and lets it warm his back.
"Ah, that's glorious!" he says, shaking himself. Pelle has to feel
his fur jacket to see how powerful the sun is. "Thank God, now we
have the spring here!"

Inside the workshop they whistle and sing to the hammer-strokes;
there are times when the dark room sounds like a bird-shop. "Thank
God, now we have the spring!" says Master Andres over and over again,
"but the messenger of spring doesn't seem to be coming this year."

"Perhaps he is dead," says little Nikas.

"Garibaldi dead? Good Lord! he won't die just yet. All the years I
can remember he has looked just as he does now and has drunk just as
hard. Lord of my body! but how he has boozed in his time, the rascal!
But you won't find his equal as a shoemaker all the world over."

One morning, soon after the arrival of the steamer, a thin, tall,
sharp-shouldered man comes ducking through the workshop door. His
hands and face are blue with the cold of the morning and his cheeks
are rather baggy, but in his eyes burns an undying fire. "Morning,
comrades!" he says, with a genial wave of the hand. "Well, how's
life treating us? Master well?" He dances into the workshop, his hat
pressed flat under his left arm. His coat and trousers flap against
his body, revealing the fact that he is wearing nothing beneath
them; his feet are thrust bare into his shoes, and he wears a thick
kerchief round his neck. But such a manner and a carriage in a
craftsman Pelle has never seen in all his days; and Garibaldi's
voice alone is like a bell.

"Now, my son," he says, and strikes Pelle lightly on the shoulder,
"can you fetch me something to drink? Just a little, now at once,
for I'm murderously thirsty. The master has credit! Pst! We'll have
the bottleful--then you needn't go twice."

Pelle runs. In half a minute he is back again. Garibaldi knows how
to do things quickly; he has already tied his apron, and is on the
point of passing his opinion on the work in the workshop. He takes
the bottle from Pelle, throws it over his shoulder, catches it with
the other hand, sets his thumb against the middle of the bottle,
and drinks. Then he shows the bottle to the others. "Just to the
thumbnail, eh?"

"I call that smart drinking!" says little Nikas.

"It can be done though the night is black as a crow"; Garibaldi
waves his hand in a superior manner. "And old Jeppe is alive still?
A smart fellow!"

Master Andres strikes on the wall. "He has come in--he is there!"
he says, with his wide-opened eyes. After a time he slips into his
clothes and comes out into the workshop; he hangs about gossiping,
but Garibaldi is sparing of his words; he is still rusty after the
night voyage.

A certain feverishness has affected them all; an anxiety lest
anything should escape them. No one regards his daily work with
aversion to-day; everybody exerts his capacities to the utmost.
Garibaldi comes from the great world, and the spirit of adventure
and the wandering life exhales from his flimsy clothes.

"If he'll only begin to tell us about it," whispers Pelle to Jens;
he cannot sit still. They hang upon his lips, gazing at him; if he
is silent it is the will of Providence. Even the master does not
bother him, but endures his taciturnity and little Nikas submits
to being treated like an apprentice.

Garibaldi raises his head. "Well, one didn't come here to sit
about and idle!" he cries gaily. "Plenty to do, master?"

"There's not much doing here, but we've always work for you,"
replies Master Andres. "Besides, we've had an order for a pair of
wedding-shoes, white satin with yellow stitching; but we haven't
properly tackled it." He gives little Nikas a meaning glance.

"No yellow stitching with white satin, master; white silk,
of course, and white edges."

"Is that the Paris fashion?" asks Master Andres eagerly. Garibaldi
shrugs his shoulders. "Don't let us speak of Paris, Master Andres;
here we have neither the leather nor the tools to make Parisian
shoes; and we haven't the legs to put into them, either."

"The deuce! Are they so fashionable?"

"Fashionable! I should say so! I can hold the foot of a well-grown
Parisian woman in the hollow of my hand. And when they walk they
don't touch the pavement! You could make shoes for a Parisian girl
out of whipped cream, and they'd hold together! If you were to fit
her with a pair of ordinary woman's beetle-crushers she'd jump
straight into the sewer!"

"Well, I'm damned!" The master is hastily cutting some leather
to shape. "The devil she would!"

Never did any one make himself at home more easily; Garibaldi draws
a seat up to the table and is at once in full swing. No rummaging
about after tools; his hand finds his way to the exact spot where
the thing required lies, as though an invisible track lay between
them. These hands do everything of themselves, quietly, with gentle
movements, while the eyes are elsewhere; gazing out into the garden,
or examining the young master, or the work of the apprentices. To
Pelle and the others, who always have to look at everything from
every side in turn, this is absolutely marvelous. And before they
have had time to look round Garibaldi has put everything in order,
and is sitting there working and looking across the room at the
master, who is himself sewing to-day.

And then Jeppe comes tumbling in, annoyed that no one has told him
of Garibaldi's arrival. "'Day, master--'day, craft-master!" says
Garibaldi, who stands up and bows.

"Yes," says Jeppe self-consciously, "if there were craft-masters
still, I should be one. But manual work is in a wretched case to-day;
there's no respect for it, and where shall a man look for respect if
he doesn't respect himself?"

"That's meant for the young master, eh?" says Garibaldi laughing.
"But times have altered, Master Jeppe; knee-straps and respect have
given out; yes, those days are over! Begin at seven, and at six off
and away! So it is in the big cities!"

"Is that this sosherlism?" says Jeppe disdainfully.

"It's all the same to me what it is--Garibaldi begins and leaves
off when it pleases him! And if he wants more for his work he asks
for it! And if that doesn't please them--then adieu, master, adieu!
There are slaves enough, said the boy, when he got no bread."

The others did not get very much done; they have enough to do to
watch Garibaldi's manner of working. He has emptied the bottle,
and now his tongue is oiled; the young master questions him,
and Garibaldi talks and talks, with continual gestures. Not for
a moment do his hands persist at their work; and yet the work
progresses so quickly it is a revelation to watch it; it is as
though it were proceeding of itself. His attention is directed
upon their work, and he always interferes at the right moment;
he criticizes their way of holding their tools, and works out the
various fashions of cut which lend beauty to the heel and sole. It
is as though he feels it when they do anything wrongly; his spirit
pervades the whole workshop. "That's how one does it in Paris," he
says, or "this is Nuremberg fashion." He speaks of Vienna and Greece
in as matter-of-fact a way as though they lay yonder under Skipper
Elleby's trees. In Athens he went to the castle to shake the king
by the hand, for countrymen should always stand by one another in
foreign parts.

"He was very nice, by the by; but he had had his breakfast already.
And otherwise it's a damned bad country for traveling; there are
no shoemakers there. No, there I recommend you Italy--there are
shoemakers there, but no work; however, you can safely risk it and
beg your way from place to place. They aren't like those industrious
Germans; every time you ask them for a little present they come
and say, 'Come in, please, there is some work you can do!' And it
is so warm there a man can sleep on the bare ground. Wine flows in
every gutter there, but otherwise it's no joke." Garibaldi raises
the empty bottle high in the air and peeps wonderingly up at the
shelves; the young master winks at Pelle, and the latter fetches
another supply of drink at the gallop.

The hot blood is seething in Pelle's ears. He must go away, far
away from here, and live the wandering life, like Garibaldi, who
hid himself in the vineyards from the gendarmes, and stole the bacon
from the chimneys while the people were in the fields. A spirit is
working in him and the others; the spirit of their craft. They touch
their tools and their material caressingly with their fingers;
everything one handles has an inward color of its own; which tells
one something. All the dustiness and familiarity of the workshop is
swept away; the objects standing on the shelves glow with interest;
the most tedious things contain a radiant life of their own.

The world rises before them like a cloudy wonder, traversed by
endless highways deep in white dust, and Garibaldi treads them all.
He has sold his journeyman's pass to a comrade for a slice of bread
and butter, and is left without papers; German policemen give chase
to him, and he creeps through the vineyards for fourteen days, on
hands and knees, getting nothing for his pains but grapes and a
shocking attack of summer cholera. Finally his clothes are so very
much alive that he no longer needs to move of himself; he simply
lies quiet, and lets himself be carried along until he comes to a
little town. "An inn?" asks Garibaldi. Yes, there is an inn. There
he tells a story to the effect that he has been robbed; and the
good people put him to bed, and warm and dry his clothes. Garibaldi
snores, and pushes the chair nearer the stove; snores, and pushes it
a little further; and as his clothes burst into a blaze he starts up
roaring and scolding and weeping, and is inconsolable. So then he is
given fine new clothes and new papers, and is out on the road again,
and the begging begins afresh; mountains rise and pass him by, and
great cities too, cities with wide rivers. There are towns in which
the wandering journeyman can get no money, but is forced to work;
damnable places, and there are German hostels where one is treated
like a prisoner; all clothes must be taken off in a long corridor,
even to one's shirt; a handful of men examine them, and then
everything is put safely away. Thirty or forty naked men are
admitted, one after another, to the great bare dormitory.

Paris--the name is like a bubble bursting in one's ear! There
Garibaldi has worked for two years, and he has been there a score
of times on passing visits. Paris is the glory of the whole world
massed together, and all the convenient contrivances of the world
brought to a state of perfection. Here in the town no respectable
shoemaker will mend the dirty shoes of the "Top-galeass"; she goes
about in down-trodden top-boots, or, if the snipping season has
been poor, she wears wooden shoes. In Paris there are women who
wear shoes at twenty guineas a pair, who carry themselves like
queens, earn forty thousand pounds a year, and are yet nothing
but prostitutes. Forty thousand! If another than Garibaldi had
said it he would have had all the lasts thrown at his head!

Pelle does not hear what the master says to him, and Jens is in a
great hurry for the cobbler's wax; he has cut the upper of the shoe
he is soling. They are quite irresponsible; as though bewitched by
this wonderful being, who goes on pouring brandy down his throat,
and turning the accursed drink into a many-colored panorama of the
whole world, and work that is like a miracle.

The news has soon spread, and people come hurrying in to see
Garibaldi, and perhaps to venture to shake him by the hand; Klausen
wants to borrow some pegs, and Marker, quite unabashed, looks in to
borrow the biggest last. The old cobbler Drejer stands modestly in
a corner and says "Yes, yes!" to the other's remarks. Garibaldi has
reached him his hand, and now he can go home to his gloomy shop and
his dirty stock and his old man's solitude. The genius of the craft
has touched him, and for the rest of his days has shed a light upon
his wretched work of patching and repairing; he has exchanged a
handshake with the man who made the cork-soled boots for the Emperor
of Germany himself when he went out to fight the French. And the
crazy Anker is there too; but does not come in, as he is shy of
strangers. He walks up and down the yard before the workshop window,
and keeps on peeping in. Garibaldi points his finger to his forehead
and nods, and Anker does the same; he is shaking with suppressed
laughter, as over some excellent joke, and runs off like a child who
must hide himself in a corner in order to savor his delight. Baker
Jorgen is there, bending down with his hands on his thighs, and his
mouth wide open. "Lor' Jiminy!" he cries from time to time; "did
ever one hear the like!" He watches the white silk run through the
sole and form itself into glistening pearls along the edge. Pearl
after pearl appears; Garibaldi's arms fly about him, and presently
he touches the baker on the hip. "Am I in the way?" asks old Jorgen.
"No, God forbid--stay where you are!" And his arms fly out again,
and the butt of the bodkin touches the baker with a little click.
"I'm certainly in the way," says Jorgen, and moves a few inches.
"Not in the least!" replies Garibaldi, stitching away. Then out
fly his arms again, but this time the point of the bodkin is turned
toward the baker. "Now, good Lord, I can see I'm in the way!" says
Jorgen, rubbing himself behind. "Not at all!" replies Garibaldi
courteously, with an inviting flourish of his hand. "Pray come
nearer." "No, thank you! No, thank you!" Old Jorgen gives a forced
laugh, and hobbles away.

Otherwise Garibaldi lets them come and stare and go as they like.
It does not trouble him that he is an eminent and remarkable person;
quite unperturbed, he puts the brandy-bottle to his lips and drinks
just as long as he is thirsty. He sits there, playing thoughtlessly
with knife and leather and silk, as though he had sat on the stool
all his life, instead of having just fallen from the moon. And about
the middle of the afternoon the incomparable result is completed; a
pair of wonderful satin shoes, slender as a neat's tongue, dazzling
in their white brilliance, as though they had just walked out of the
fairy-tale and were waiting for the feet of the Princess.

"Look at them, damn it all!" says the master, and passes them to
little Nikas, who passes them round the circle. Garibaldi throws
back his close-cropped gray head.

"You need not say who has made them--everybody can see that. Suppose
now the shoes go to Jutland and are worn there and are thrown on
the rubbish-heap. One day, years hence, some porridge-eater goes
ploughing; a scrap of the instep comes to the surface; and a
wandering journeyman, who is sitting in the ditch nibbling at his
supper, rakes it toward him with his stick. That bit of instep, he
says, that, or the Devil may fry me else, was part of a shoe made
by Garibaldi--deuce take me, he says, but that's what it was. And
in that case the journeyman must be from Paris, or Nuremberg, or
Hamburg--one or the other, that's certain. Or am I talking nonsense,
master?"

No; Master Andres can asseverate this is no nonsense--he who from
childhood lived with Garibaldi on the highways and in great cities,
who followed him so impetuously with that lame leg of his that he
remembers Garibaldi's heroic feats better than Garibaldi himself.
"But now you will stay here," he says persuasively. "Now we'll work
up the business--we'll get all the fine work of the whole island."
Garibaldi has nothing against this; he has had enough of toiling
through the world.

Klausen will gladly make one of the company; in the eyes of all
those present this proposal is a dream which will once more raise
the craft to its proper level; will perhaps improve it until the
little town can compete with Copenhagen. "How many medals have you
really received?" says Jeppe, as he stands there with a great framed
diploma in his hand. Garibaldi shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know,
old master; one gets old, and one's hand gets unsteady. But what is
this? Has Master Jeppe got the silver medal?"

Jeppe laughs. "For this I have to thank a tramp by the name of
Garibaldi. He was here four years ago and won the silver medal for
me!" Well--that is a thing Garibaldi has long forgotten! But medals
are scattered about wherever he has been.

"Yes, there are a hundred masters knocking about who boast of their
distinctions: first-class workshop--you can see it for yourself--
'a silver medal.' But who did the work? Who got his day's wages and
an extra drop of drink and then--good-bye, Garibaldi! What has one
to show for it, master? There are plenty of trees a man can change
his clothes behind--but the shirt?" For a moment he seems dejected.
"Lorrain in Paris gave me two hundred francs for the golden medal
I won for him; but otherwise it was always--Look in my waistcoat
pocket! or--I've an old pair of trousers for you, Garibaldi! But now
there's an end to that, I tell you; Garibaldi has done with bringing
water to the mill for the rich townsfolk; for now he's a sosherlist!"
He strikes the table so that the glass scrapers jingle. "That last
was Franz in Cologne--gent's boots with cork socks. He was a stingy
fellow; he annoyed Garibaldi. I'm afraid this isn't enough for the
medal, master, I said; there's too much unrest in the air. Then he
bid me more and yet more--but it won't run to the medal--that's all
I will say. At last he sends Madame to me with coffee and Vienna
bread--and she was in other respects a lady, who drove with a
lackey on the box. But we were furious by that time! Well, it
was a glorious distinction--to please Madame."

"Had he many journeymen?" asks Jeppe.

"Oh, quite thirty or forty."

"Then he must have been somebody." Jeppe speaks in a reproving tone.

"Somebody--yes--he was a rascal! What did it matter to me that he
had a lot of journeymen? I didn't cheat them out of their wages!"

Now Garibaldi is annoyed; he takes off his apron, puts his hat on
sideways, and he goes into the town.

"Now he's going to look for a sweetheart!" says the young master;
"he has a sweetheart in every town."

At eight he comes sailing into the workshop again. "What, still
sitting here?" he says to the apprentices. "In other parts of the
world they have knocked off work two hours ago. What sort of slaves
are you to sit crouching here for fourteen hours? Strike, damn it
all!"

They look at one another stupidly. "Strike--what is that?"

Then comes the young master. "Now it would do one good to warm
one's eyes a bit," says Garibaldi.

"There's a bed made up for you in the cutting-out room," says the
master. But Garibaldi rolls his coat under his head and lies down on
the window-bench. "If I snore, just pull my nose," he says to Pelle,
and goes to sleep. Next day he makes two pairs of kid boots with
yellow stitching--for little Nikas this would be a three days' job.
Master Andres has all his plans ready--Garibaldi is to be a partner.
"We'll knock out a bit of wall and put in a big shop-window!"
Garibaldi agrees--he really does for once feel a desire to settle
down. "But we mustn't begin too big," he says: "this isn't Paris."
He drinks a little more and does not talk much; his eyes stray to
the wandering clouds outside.

On the third day Garibaldi begins to show his capacities. He does
not do much more work, but he breaks a heavy stick in two with one
blow as it flies through the air, and jumps over a stick which he
holds in both hands. "One must have exercise," he says restlessly.
He balances an awl on the face of a hammer and strikes it into a
hole in the sole of a boot.

And suddenly he throws down his work. "Lend me ten kroner, master,"
he says; "I must go and buy myself a proper suit. Now I'm settled
and a partner in a business I can't go about looking like a pig."

"It will be better for you to get that finished," says the master
quietly, pushing Garibaldi's work across to little Nikas. "We
shan't see him again!"

This is really the case. He will go into the town with the honorable
intentions, to buy something, and then he will be caught and whirled
out into the great world, far away, quite at hazard. "He's on the
way to Germany with some skipper already," says the master.

"But he hasn't even said good-bye!" The master shrugs his shoulders.

He was like a falling star! But for Pelle and the others he
signified more than that; they learned more in three days than in
the whole course of their apprenticeship. And they saw brilliant
prospects for the craft; it was no hole-and-corner business after
all; with Garibaldi, they traveled the whole wonderful world.
Pelle's blood burned with the desire to wander; he knew now what
he wanted. To be capable as Garibaldi--that genius personified;
and to enter the great cities with stick and knapsack as though
to a flourish of trumpets.

They all retained traces of his fleeting visit. Something inside
them had broken with a snap; they gripped their tools more freely,
more courageously; and they had seen their handicraft pass before
their eyes like a species of technical pageant. For a long time
the wind of the passage of the great bird hung about the little
workshop with its atmosphere of respectable citizenship.

And this fresh wind in one's ears was the spirit of handicraft
itself which hovered above their heads--borne upon its two mighty
pinions--genius and debauchery.

But one thing remained in Pelle's mind as a meaningless fragment--
the word "strike." What did it mean?



XIII

One could not be quite as cheerful and secure here as one could
at home in the country; there was always a gnawing something in
the background, which kept one from wholly surrendering oneself.
Most people had wandered hither in search of fortune--poverty had
destroyed their faculty of surrendering to fate; they were weary of
waiting and had resolved to take matters into their own hands. And
now here they were, sunk in wretchedness. They could not stir from
the spot; they only labored and sunk deeper into the mire. But they
continued to strive, with the strength of their bodies, until that
gave way, and it was all over with them.

Pelle had often enough wondered to see how many poor people there
were in the town. Why did not they go ahead with might and main
until they were well off? They had all of them had intentions of
that kind, but nothing came of them. Why? They themselves did not
understand why, but bowed their heads as though under a curse. And
if they raised them again it was only to seek that consolation of
the poor--alcohol, or to attend the meetings of the home missions.

Pelle could not understand it either. He had an obscure sense of
that joyous madness which arises from poverty itself, like a dim but
wonderful dream of reaching the light. And he could not understand
why it failed; and yet he must always follow that impetus upward
which resided in him, and scramble up once more. Yet otherwise his
knowledge was wide; a patched-up window-pane, or a scurfy child's
head, marked an entrance to that underworld which he had known so
well from birth, so that he could have found his way about it with
bandaged eyes. He attached no particular importance to it, but in
this direction his knowledge was continually extended; he "thee'd
and thou'd" poor people from the first moment, and knew the mournful
history of every cottage. And all he saw and heard was like a weary
refrain--it spoke of the same eternally unalterable longing and
the same defeats. He reflected no further about the matter, but
it entered into his blood like an oppression, purged his mind of
presumption, and vitiated his tense alertness. When he lay his head
on his pillow and went to sleep the endless pulsing of his blood
in his ears became the tramping of weary hordes who were for ever
passing in their blind groping after the road which should lead to
light and happiness. His consciousness did not grasp it, but it
brooded oppressively over his days.

The middle-class society of the town was still, as far as he was
concerned, a foreign world. Most of the townsfolk were as poor as
church mice, but they concealed the fact skilfully, and seemed to
have no other desire than to preserve appearances. "Money!" said
Master Andres; "here there's only one ten-kroner note among all the
employers in the town, and that goes from hand to hand. If it were
to stop too long with one of them all the rest of us would stop
payment!" The want of loose capital weighed on them oppressively,
but they boasted of Shipowner Monsen's money--there were still rich
people in the town! For the rest, each kept himself going by means
of his own earnings; one had sent footwear to the West Indies, and
another had made the bride-bed for the burgomaster's daughter; they
maintained themselves as a caste and looked down with contempt upon
the people.

Pelle himself had honestly and honorably intended to follow the same
path; to keep smiles for those above him and harsh judgments for
those below him; in short, like Alfred, to wriggle his way upward.
But in the depths of his being his energies were working in another
direction, and they continually thrust him back where he belonged.
His conflict with the street-urchins stopped of itself, it was so
aimless; Pelle went in and out of their houses, and the boys, so
soon as they were confirmed, became his comrades.

The street boys sustained an implacable conflict with those who
attended the town school and the grammar-school. They called them
pigs, after the trough-like satchels which they carried on their
backs. Pelle found himself between a double fire, although he
accepted the disdain and the insult of those above him, as Lasse
had taught him, as something that was inherent in the nature of
things. "Some are born to command and some to obey," as Lasse said.

But one day he came to blows with one of them. And having thrashed
the postmaster's son until not a clean spot was left on him, he
discovered that he now had a crow to pluck with the sons of all
the fine folks, or else they would hold him up to ridicule. It was
as though something was redeemed at his hands when he managed to
plant them in the face of one of these lads, and there seemed to
be a particular charm connected with the act of rolling their fine
clothes in the mire. When he had thrashed a "pig" he was always in
the rosiest of tempers, and he laughed to think how Father Lasse
would have crossed himself!

One day he met three grammar-school students, who fell upon him
then and there, beating him with their books; there was repayment
in every blow. Pelle got his back against the wall, and defended
himself with his belt, but could not manage the three of them; so
he gave the biggest of them a terrific kick in the lower part of
the body and took to his heels. The boy rolled on the ground and
lay there shrieking; Pelle could see, from the other end of the
street, how the other two were toiling to set him on his legs
again. He himself had got off with a black eye.

"Have you been fighting again, you devil's imp?" said the young
master.

No! Pelle had fallen and bruised himself.

In the evening he went round the harbor to see the steamer go out
and to say good-bye to Peter. He was in a bad temper; he was
oppressed by a foreboding of evil.

The steamer was swarming with people. Over the rail hung a swarm
of freshly-made journeymen of that year's batch--the most courageous
of them; the others had already gone into other trades, had become
postmen or farm servants. "There is no employment for us in the
shoe trade," they said dejectedly as they sank. As soon as their
journeyman's test-work was done they took to their heels, and new
apprentices were taken all along the line. But these fellows here
were crossing to the capital; they wanted to go on working at their
own trade. The hundreds of apprentices of the little town were there,
shouting "Hurrah!" every other moment, for those departing were the
heroes who were going forth to conquer the land of promise for them
all. "We are coming after you!" they cried. "Find me a place, you!
Find me a place!"

Emil stood by the harbor shed, with some waterside workers, looking
on. His time was long ago over. The eldest apprentice had not had
the pluck to leave the island; he was now a postman in Sudland
and cobbled shoes at night in order to live. Now Peter stood on
the deck above, while Jens and Pelle stood below and looked up at
him admiringly. "Good-bye, Pelle!" he cried. "Give Jeppe my best
respects and tell him he can kiss my bootsoles!"

Some of the masters were strolling to and fro on the quay, in order
to note that none of their apprentices were absconding from the town.

Jens foresaw the time when he himself would stand there penniless.
"Send me your address," he said, "and find me something over there."

"And me too," said Pelle.

Peter spat. "There's a bit of sour cabbage soup--take it home and
give it to Jeppe with my love and I wish him good appetite! But give
my very best respects to Master Andres. And when I write, then come
over--there's nothing to be done in this hole."

"Don't let the Social Democrats eat you up!" cried some one from
among the spectators. The words "Social Democrat" were at this time
in every mouth, although no one knew what they meant; they were used
as terms of abuse.

"If they come to me with their damned rot they'll get one on the
mouth!" said Peter, disdainfully. And then the steamer began to
move; the last cheers were given from the outer breakwater. Pelle
could have thrown himself into the sea; he was burning with desire
to turn his back on it all. And then he let himself drift with the
crowd from the harbor to the circus-ground. On the way he heard a
few words of a conversation which made his ears burn. Two townsmen
were walking ahead of him and were talking.

"They say he got such a kick that he brought up blood," said
the one.

"Yes, it's terrible, the way that scum behaves! I hope they'll
arrest the ruffian."

Pelle crept along behind the tent until he came to the opening.
There he stood every evening, drinking everything in by his sense
of smell. He had no money to pay his way in; but he could catch a
glimpse of a whole host of magnificent things when the curtain was
drawn up in order to admit a late-comer. Albinus came and went at
will--as always, when jugglers were in the town. He was acquainted
with them almost before he had seen them. When he had seen some
clever feat of strength or skill he would come crawling out from
under the canvas in order to show his companions that he could do
the same thing. Then he was absolutely in his element; he would walk
on his hands along the harbor railings and let his body hang over
the water.

Pelle wanted to go home and sleep on the day's doings, but a happy
pair came up to him--a woman who was dancing as she walked, and a
timid young workman, whom she held firmly by the arm. "Here, Hans!"
she said, "this is Pelle, whose doing it is that we two belong to
each other!"

Then she laughed aloud for sheer delight, and Hans, smiling, held
out his hand to Pelle. "I ought to thank you for it," he said.

"Yes, it was that dance," she said. "If my dancing-shoes hadn't
been mended Hans would have run off with somebody else!" She seized
Pelle's arm. And then they went on, very much pleased with one
another, and Pelle's old merriment returned for a time. He too
could perform all sorts of feats of strength.

On the following day Pelle was hired by Baker Jorgensen to knead
some dough; the baker had received, at short notice, a large order
for ship's biscuit for the _Three Sisters_.

"Keep moving properly!" he would cry every moment to the two boys,
who had pulled off their stockings and were now standing up in the
great kneading-trough, stamping away, with their hands gripping the
battens which were firmly nailed to the rafters. The wooden ceiling
between the rafters was black and greasy; a slimy paste of dust and
dough and condensed vapor was running down the walls. When the boys
hung too heavily on the battens the baker would cry: "Use your
whole weight! Down into the dough with you--then you'll get a foot
like a fine young lady!"

Soren was pottering about alone, with hanging head as always; now
and again he sighed. Then old Jorgen would nudge Marie in the side,
and they would both laugh. They stood close together, and as they
were rolling out the dough their hands kept on meeting; they laughed
and jested together. But the young man saw nothing of this.

"Don't you see?" whispered his mother, striking him sharply in the
ribs; her angry eyes were constantly fixed on the pair.

"Oh, leave me alone!" the son would say, moving a little away from
her. But she moved after him. "Go and put your arm round her waist--
that's what she wants! Let her feel your hands on her hips! Why do
you suppose she sticks out her bosom like that? Let her feel your
hands on her hips! Push the old man aside!"

"Oh, leave me alone!" replied Soren, and he moved further away from
her again.

"You are tempting your father to sin--you know what he is! And she
can't properly control herself any longer, now that she claims to
have a word in the matter. Are you going to put up with that? Go and
take her round the waist--strike her if you can't put up with her,
but make her feel that you're a man!"

"Well, are you working up there?" old Jorgen cried to the boys,
turning his laughing countenance from Marie. "Tread away! The dough
will draw all the rottenness out of your bodies! And you, Soren--get
a move on you!"

"Yes, get a move on--don't stand there like an idiot!" continued
his mother.

"Oh, leave me alone! I've done nothing to anybody; leave me
in peace!"

"Pah!" The old woman spat at him. "Are you a man? Letting another
handle your wife! There she is, obliged to take up with a gouty old
man like that! Pah, I say! But perhaps you are a woman after all? I
did once bring a girl into the world, only I always thought she was
dead. But perhaps you are she? Yes, make long ears at me!" she cried
to the two boys, "you've never seen anything like what's going on
here! There's a son for you, who leaves his father to do all the
work by himself!"

"Now then, what's the matter with you?" cried old Jorgen jollily.
"Is mother turning the boys' heads?" Marie broke into a loud laugh.

Jeppe came to fetch Pelle. "Now you'll go to the Town Hall and get
a thrashing," he said, as they entered the workshop. Pelle turned
an ashen gray.

"What have you been doing now?" asked Master Andres, looking sadly
at him.

"Yes, and to one of our customers, too!" said Jeppe. "You've
deserved that, haven't you?"

"Can't father get him let off the beating?" said Master Andres.

"I have proposed that Pelle should have a good flogging here in the
workshop, in the presence of the deputy and his son. But the deputy
says no. He wants justice to run its course."

Pelle collapsed. He knew what it meant when a poor boy went to the
town hall and was branded for life. His brain sought desperately for
some way of escape. There was only one--death! He could secretly
hide the knee-strap under his blouse and go into the little house
and hang himself. He was conscious of a monotonous din; that was
Jeppe, admonishing him; but the words escaped him; his soul had
already began its journey toward death. As the noise ceased he
rose silently.

"Well? What are you going out for?" asked Jeppe.

"I'm going to the yard." He spoke like a sleepwalker.

"Perhaps you want to take the knee-strap out with you?"

Jeppe and the master exchanged a look of understanding. Then Master
Andres came over to him. "You wouldn't be so silly?" he said, and
looked deep into Pelle's eyes. Then he made himself tidy and went
into the town.

"Pelle, you devil's imp," he said, as he came home, "I've been
running from Herod to Pilate, and I've arranged matters so that you
can get off if you will ask for pardon. You must go to the grammar-
school about one o'clock. But think it over first, as to what you
are going to say, because the whole class will hear it."

"I won't ask for pardon." It sounded like a cry.

The master looked at Pelle hesitatingly. "But that is no disgrace--
if one has done wrong."

"I have not done wrong. They began it, and they have been making
game of me for a long time."

"But you thrashed him, Pelle, and one mustn't thrash fine folks like
that; they have got a doctor's certificate that might be your ruin.
Is your father a friend of the magistrate's? They can dishonor you
for the rest of your life. I think you ought to choose the lesser
evil."

No, Pelle could not do that. "So let them flog me instead!"
he said morosely.

"Then it will be about three o'clock at the town hall," said
the master, shortly, and he turned red about the eyes.

Suddenly Pelle felt how obstinacy must pain the young master, who,
lame and sick as he was, had of his own accord gone running about
the town for him. "Yes, I'll do it!" he said; "I'll do it!"

"Yes, yes!" replied Master Andres quietly; "for your own sake as
well. And I believe you ought to be getting ready now."

Pelle slunk away; it was not his intention to apologize, and he
had plenty of time. He walked as though asleep; everything was dead
within him. His thoughts were busy with all sorts of indifferent
matters, as though he sought to delay something by chattering;
Crazy Anker went by with his bag of sand on his back, his thin legs
wobbling under him. "I will help him to carry it," thought Pelle
dejectedly, as he went onward; "I will help him to carry it."

Alfred came strolling down the street; he was carrying his best
walking-stick and was wearing gloves, although it was in the midst
of working hours. "If he sees me now he'll turn down the corner by
the coal-merchant's," thought Pelle bitterly. "Oughtn't I to ask
him to say a good word for me? He is such an important person! And
he still owes me money for soling a pair of boots."

But Alfred made straight for him. "Have you seen anything of
Albinus? He has disappeared!" he said; and his pretty face seemed
somehow unusually moved. He stood there chewing at his moustache,
just as fine folk do when they are musing over something.

"I've got to go to the town hall," said Pelle.

"Yes, I know--you've got to be flogged. But don't you know anything
of Albinus?" Alfred had drawn him into the coal-merchant's doorway,
in order not to be seen in his company.

"Yes, Albinus, Albinus--" Something was dawning in Pelle's mind.
"Wait a minute--he--he--I'm sure he has run away with the circus.
At least, I believe he has!" Whereat Alfred turned about and ran--
ran in his best clothes!

Of course Albinus had run away with the circus. Pelle could
understand the whole affair perfectly well. The evening before he
had slipped on board Ole Hansen's yacht, which during the night was
to have taken the trick-rider across to Sweden, and now he would
live a glorious life and do what he liked. To run away--that was
the only clear opening in life. Before Pelle knew it, he was down
by the harbor, staring at a ship which was on the point of sailing.
He followed up his inspiration, and went about inquiring after a
vacancy on board some vessel, but there was none.

He sat down by the waterside, and played with a chip of wood. It
represented a three-master, and Pelle gave it a cargo; but every
time it should have gone to sea it canted over, and he had to begin
the loading all over again. All round him carpenters and stone-
cutters were working on the preparations for the new harbor; and
behind them, a little apart, stood the "Great Power," at work, while,
as usual, a handful of people were loitering near him; they stood
there staring, in uneasy expectation that something would happen.
Pelle himself had a feeling of something ominous as he sat there
and plashed in the water to drive his ship out to sea; he would have
accepted it as a manifestation of the most sacred principle of life
had Jorgensen begun to rage before his eyes.

But the stone-cutter only laid down his hammer, in order to take
his brandy-bottle from under the stone and swallow a mouthful; with
that exception, he stood there bowed over the granite as peacefully
as though there were no other powers in the world save it and him.
He did not see the onlookers who watched him in gaping expectation,
their feet full of agility, ready to take to flight at his slightest
movement.

He struck so that the air moaned, and when he raised himself again
his glance swept over them. Gradually Pelle had concentrated all his
expectations upon this one man, who endured the hatred of the town
without moving an eyelash, and was a haunting presence in every mind.
In the boy's imagination he was like a loaded mine; one stood there
not knowing whether or not it was ignited, and in a moment the whole
might leap into the air. He was a volcano, and the town existed from
day to day by his mercy. And from time to time Pelle allowed him to
shake himself a little--just enough to make the town rock.

But now, moreover, there was a secret between them; the "Great Power"
had been punished too for beating the rich folks. Pelle was not
slow in deducing the consequences--was there not already a townsman
standing and watching him at play? He too was the terror of the
people. Perhaps he would join himself to the "Great Power"; there
would be little left of the town then! In the daytime they would lie
hidden among the cliffs, but at night they came down and plundered
the town.

They fell upon all who had earned their living as bloodsuckers;
people hid themselves in their cellars and garrets when they heard
that Pelle and the "Great Power" were on the march. They hanged the
rich shipowner Monsen to the church steeple, and he dangled there
a terror and a warning to all. But the poor folk came to them as
trustingly as lambs and ate out of their hands. They received all
they desired; so poverty was banished from the world, and Pelle
could proceed upon his radiant, onward way without a feeling of
betrayal.

His glance fell upon the clock on the harbor guard-house; it was
nearly three. He sprang up and looked irresolutely about him; he
gazed out over the sea and down into the deep water of the harbor,
looking for help. Manna and her sisters--they would disdainfully
turn their backs upon the dishonored Pelle; they would no longer
look at him. And the people would point their fingers at him, or
merely look at him, and think: "Ha, there goes the boy who was
flogged at the town hall!" Wherever he went in the world it would
follow him like a shadow, that he had been flogged as a child;
such a thing clings visibly to a man. He knew men and maids and old
white-headed men who had come to Stone Farm from places where no one
else had ever been. They might come as absolute strangers, but there
was something in their past which in spite of all rose up behind
them and went whispering from mouth to mouth.

He roamed about, desperately in his helplessness, and in the course
of his wanderings came to stone-cutter Jorgensen.

"Well," said the "Great Power," as he laid down his hammer, "you've
quarrelled nicely with the big townsfolk! Do you think you can keep
a stiff upper-lip?" Then he reached for his hammer again. But Pelle
took his bearings and ran despondently to the town-hall.



XIV

The punishment itself was nothing. It was almost laughable, those
few strokes, laid on through his trousers, by the stick of the
old gaoler; Pelle had known worse thrashings. But he was branded,
an outcast from the society even of the very poorest; he read as
much into the compassion of the people to whom he carried boots and
shoes. "Good Lord, this miserable booby! Has it gone as far as that
with him!" This was what he read in their eyes. Everybody would
always stare at him now, and when he went down the street he saw
faces in the "spy" mirrors fixed outside the windows. "There goes
that shoemaker boy!"

The young master was the only one who treated him precisely as
before; and Pelle repaid him for that with the most limitless
devotion. He bought on credit for him and saved him from blows
where only he could. If the young master in his easy-going way
had promised to have something completed and had then forgotten
it, Pelle would sit in his place and work overtime on it. "What's
it matter to us?" Jens used to say. But Pelle would not have the
customers coming to scold Master Andres, nor would he allow him
to suffer the want of anything that would keep him on his feet.

He became more intimate than ever with Jens and Morten; they all
suffered from the same disgrace; and he often accompanied them home,
although no pleasure awaited them in their miserable cottage. They
were among the very poorest, although the whole household worked.
It was all of no avail.

"Nothing's any use," the "Great Power" himself would say when he was
disposed to talk; "poverty is like a sieve: everything goes straight
through it, and if we stop one hole, it's running through ten others
at the same time. They say I'm a swine, and why shouldn't I be? I
can do the work of three men--yes, but do I get the wages of three?
I get my day's wages and the rest goes into the pockets of those who
employ me. Even if I wanted to keep myself decent, what should we
gain by it? Can a family get decent lodging and decent food and
decent clothing for nine kroner a week? Will the means of a laborer
allow him to live anywhere but by the refuse-heaps, where only the
pigs used to be kept? Why should I be housed like a pig and live
like a pig and yet be no pig--is there any sense in that? My wife
and children have to work as well as me, and how can things be
decent with us when wife and children have to go out and make things
decent for other people? No, look here! A peg of brandy, that makes
everything seem decent, and if that doesn't do it, why, then, a
bottle!" So he would sit talking, when he had been drinking a little,
but otherwise he was usually silent.

Pelle knew the story of the "Great Power" now, from the daily gossip
of the townsfolk, and his career seemed to him sadder than all the
rest; it was as though a fairy-tale of fortune had come to a sudden
end.

Among the evil reports which were continually in circulation
respecting Stone-cutter Jorgensen--it seemed that there was never an
end of them--it was said that in his youth he had strolled into town
from across the cliffs, clad in canvas trousers, with cracked wooden
shoes on his feet, but with his head in the clouds as though the
whole town belonged to him. Brandy he did not touch. He had a better
use for his energies, he said: he was full of great ideas of himself
and would not content himself with ordinary things. And he was
thoroughly capable--he was quite absurdly talented for a poor man.
And at once he wanted to begin turning everything topsy-turvy. Just
because he was begotten among the cliffs and crags by an old toil-
worn stone-cutter, he behaved like a deity of the rocks; he brushed
long-established experience aside, and introduced novel methods of
work which he evolved out of his own mind. The stone was as though
bewitched in his hands. If one only put a sketch before him, he
would make devils' heads and subterranean monsters and sea-serpents
--the sort of thing that before his time had to be ordered from the
sculptors in Copenhagen. Old deserving stone-masons saw themselves
suddenly set aside and had then and there to take to breaking stones;
and this young fellow who had strayed into the town straightway
ignored and discounted the experience of their many years. They
tried, by the most ancient of all methods, to teach the young man
modesty. But they gave it up. Peter Jorgensen had the strength of
three men and the courage of ten. It was not good to meddle with
one who had stolen his capacities from God himself, or perhaps was
in league with Satan. So they resigned themselves, and avenged
themselves by calling him the "Great Power"--and they put their
trust in misfortune. To follow in his footsteps meant to risk a
broken neck. And whenever the brave townsfolk made the journey,
something of its dizzy quality remained with them.

In the night he would sit sketching and calculating, so that no one
could understand when he slept; and on Sundays, when decent people
went to church, he would stop at home and cut the queerest things
out of stone--although he never got a penny for it.

It was at this time that the famous sculptor came from the capital
of Germany to hew a great lion out of granite, in honor of Liberty.
But he could not get forward with his toolbox full of butter-knives;
the stone was too hard for one who was accustomed to stand
scratching at marble. And when for once he really did succeed in
knocking off a bit of granite, it was always in the wrong place.

Then the "Great Power" asserted himself, and undertook to hew the
lion out of granite, according to a scale model of some sort which
the sculptor slapped together for him! All were persuaded that he
would break down in this undertaking, but he negotiated it so
cleverly that he completed the work to the utmost satisfaction of
those concerned. He received a good sum of money for this, but it
was not enough for him; he wanted half the honor, and to be spoken
of in the newspapers like the sculptor himself; and as nothing came
of it he threw down his tools and refused to work any more for other
people. "Why should I do the work and others have the honor of it?"
he asked, and sent in a tender for a stone-cutting contract. In his
unbounded arrogance he sought to push to one side those who were
born to ride on the top of things. But pride comes before a fall;
his doom was already hanging over him.

He had sent in the lowest tender for the work on the South Bridge.
They could not disregard it; so they sought to lay every obstacle
in his path; they enticed his workmen away from him and made it
difficult for him to obtain materials. The district judge, who was
in the conspiracy, demanded that the contract should be observed;
so the "Great Power" had to work day and night with the few men left
to him in order to complete the work in time. A finer bridge no one
had ever seen. But he had to sell the shirt off his body in order
to meet his engagements.

He lived at that time in a pretty little house that was his own
property. It lay out on the eastern highway, and had a turret on the
mansard--Jens and Morten had spent their early childhood there. A
little garden, with tidy paths, and a grotto which was like a heap
of rocks, lay in front of it. Jorgenson had planned it all himself.
It was taken from him, and he had to remove to a poor quarter of
the town, to live among the people to whom he rightly belonged, and
to rent a house there. But he was not yet broken. He was cheerful
in spite of his downfall, and more high-and-mighty than ever in his
manners. It was not easy to hit him! But then he sent in a tender
for the new crane-platform. They could have refused him the contract
on the pretext that he had no capital at his disposal. But now he
_should_ be struck down! He got credit from the savings-bank,
in order to get well under way, and workers and material were his
to dispose of. And then, as he was in the midst of the work, the
same story was repeated--only this time he was to break his neck!
Rich and poor, the whole town was at one in this matter. All
demanded the restoration of the old certainty, high and low,
appointed by God Himself. The "Great Power" was of the humblest
descent; now he could quietly go back to the class he was born in!

He failed! The legal proprietor took over a good piece of work
and got it for nothing, and Stonemason Jorgensen stood up in a pair
of cracked wooden shoes, with a load of debts which he would never
be able to shake off. Every one rejoiced to see him return to the
existence of a day-laborer. But he did not submit quietly. He took
to drink. From time to time he broke out and raged like the devil
himself. They could not get rid of him; he weighed upon the minds
of all, like an angry rumbling; even when he was quietly going about
his work they could not quite forget him. Under these conditions he
squandered his last possessions, and he moved into the cottage by
the refuse-heaps, where formerly no one had dwelt.

He had become another man since the grant for the great harbor
project had been approved. He no longer touched any brandy; when
Pelle went out to see his friends, the "Great Power" would be
sitting at the window, busying himself with sketches and figures.
His wife was moving about and weeping quietly to herself; the old
woman was scolding. But Jorgensen turned his broad back upon them
and pored silently over his own affairs. He was not to be shaken
out of his self-sufficiency.

The mother received them out in the kitchen, when she heard their
noisy approach. "You must move quietly--Father is calculating and
calculating, poor fellow! He can get no peace in his head since
the harbor plans have been seriously adopted. His ideas are always
working in him. That must be so, he says, and that so! If he would
only take life quietly among his equals and leave the great people
to worry over their own affairs!"

He sat in the window, right in the sunlight, adding up some
troublesome accounts; he whispered half to himself, and his
mutilated forefinger, whose outer joint had been blown off, ran up
and down the columns. Then he struck the table. "Oh, if only a man
had learned something!" he groaned. The sunlight played on his dark
beard; his weary labors had been powerless to stiffen his limbs or
to pull him down. Drink had failed to hurt him--he sat there like
strength personified; his great forehead and his throat were deeply
bronzed by the sun.

"Look here, Morten!" he cried, turning to the boys. "Just look at
these figures!"

Morten looked. "What is it, father?"

"What is it? Our earnings during the last week! You can see they
are big figures!"

"No, father; what are they?" Morten twined his slender hand in his
father's beard.

The "Great Power's" eyes grew mild under this caress.

"It's a proposed alteration--they want to keep the channel in the
old place, and that is wrong; when the wind blows in from the sea,
one can't get into the harbor. The channel must run out there, and
the outer breakwater must curve like this"--and he pointed to his
sketches. "Every fisherman and sailor will confirm what I say--but
the big engineer gentlemen are so clever!"

"But are you going--again--to send in a tender?" Morten looked at
his father, horrified. The man nodded.

"But you aren't good enough for them--you know you aren't! They
just laugh at you!"

"This time I shall be the one to laugh," retorted Jorgensen, his
brow clouding at the thought of all the contempt he had had to
endure.

"Of course they laugh at him," said the old woman from the chimney-
corner, turning her hawk-like head toward them; "but one must play
at something. Peter must always play the great man!"

Her son did not reply.

"They say you know something about sketching, Pelle?" he said
quietly. "Can't you bring this into order a bit? This here is the
breakwater--supposing the water isn't there--and this is the basin
--cut through the middle, you understand? But I can't get it to
look right--yet the dimensions are quite correct. Here above the
water-line there will be big coping-stones, and underneath it's
broken stone."

Pelle set to work, but he was too finicking.

"Not so exact!" said Jorgensen. "Only roughly!"

He was always sitting over his work when they came. From his wife
they learned that he did not put in a tender, after all, but took
his plans to those who had undertaken the contract and offered them
his cooperation. She had now lost all faith in his schemes, and was
in a state of continual anxiety. "He's so queer--he's always taken
up with only this one thing," she said, shuddering. "He never drinks
--and he doesn't go raging against all the world as he used to do."

"But that's a good thing," said Morten consolingly.

"Yes, you may talk, but what do you know about it? If he looks after
his daily bread, well, one knows what that means. But now, like
this.... I'm so afraid of the reaction if he gets a set-back. Don't
you believe he's changed--it's only sleeping in him. He's the same
as ever about Karen; he can't endure seeing her crooked figure; she
reminds him always too much of everything that isn't as it should
be. She mustn't go to work, he says, but how can we do without her
help? We must live! I daren't let him catch sight of her. He gets
so bitter against himself, but the child has to suffer for it. And
he's the only one she cares anything about."

Karen had not grown during the last few years; she had become even
more deformed; her voice was dry and shrill, as though she had
passed through a frozen desert on her way to earth. She was glad
when Pelle was there and she could hear him talk; if she thought he
would come in the evening, she would hurry home from her situation.
But she never joined in the conversation and never took part in
anything. No one could guess what was going on in her mind. Her
mother would suddenly break down and burst into tears if her glance
by chance fell upon her.

"She really ought to leave her place at once," said her mother over
and again. "But the doctor's wife has one child after another, and
then they ask so pleadingly if she can't stay yet another half-year.
They think great things of her; she is so reliable with children."

"Yes, if it was Pelle, he'd certainly let them fall." Karen laughed
--it was a creaking laugh. She said nothing more; she never asked to
be allowed to go out, and she never complained. But her silence was
like a silent accusation, destroying all comfort and intimacy.

But one day she came home and threw some money on the table. "Now
I needn't go to Doctor's any more."

"What's the matter? Have you done something wrong?" asked the
mother, horrified.

"The doctor gave me a box on the ear because I couldn't carry
Anna over the gutter--she's so heavy."

"But you can't be sent away because he has struck you! You've
certainly had a quarrel--you are so stubborn!"

"No; but I accidentally upset the perambulator with little Erik
in it--so that he fell out. His head is like a mottled apple."
Her expression was unchanged.

The mother burst into tears. "But how could you do such a thing?"
Karen stood there and looked at the other defiantly. Suddenly her
mother seized hold of her. "You didn't do it on purpose? Did you
do it on purpose?"

Karen turned away with a shrug of the shoulders and went up to the
garret without saying good night. Her mother wanted to follow her.

"Let her go!" said the old woman, as though from a great distance.
"You have no power over her! She was begotten in wrath."



XV

All the winter Jens had smeared his upper lip with fowl's dung
in order to grow a moustache; now it was sprouting, and he found
himself a young woman; she was nurse-maid at the Consul's. "It's
tremendous fun," he said; "you ought to get one yourself. When she
kisses me she sticks out her tongue like a little kid." But Pelle
wanted no young woman--in the first place, no young woman would have
him, branded as he was; and then he was greatly worried.

When he raised his head from his work and looked out sideways over
the manure-sheds and pigsties, he saw the green half-twilight of the
heart of the apple-tree, and he could dream himself into it. It was
an enchanted world of green shadows and silent movement; countless
yellow caterpillars hung there, dangling to and fro, each on its
slender thread; chaffinches and yellow-hammers swung themselves
impetuously from bough to bough, and at every swoop snapped up a
caterpillar; but these never became any fewer. Without a pause they
rolled themselves down from the twigs, and hung there, so enticingly
yellow, swinging to and fro in the gentle breath of the summer day,
and waited to be gobbled up.

And deeper still in the green light--as though on the floor of a
green sea--three brightly-clad maidens moved and played. Now and
again the two younger would suddenly look over at Pelle, but they
turned their eyes away again the moment he looked at them; and Manna
was as grown-up and self-controlled as though he had never existed.
Manna had been confirmed a long time now; her skirts were halfway to
the ground, and she walked soberly along the street, arm-in-arm with
her girl friends. She no longer played; she had long been conscious
of a rapidly-increasing certainty that it wouldn't do to play any
longer. In a few days she went over from Pelle's side to the camp of
the grown-ups. She no longer turned to him in the workshop, and if
he met her in the street she looked in another direction. No longer
did she leap like a wild cat into the shop, tearing Pelle from his
stool if she wanted something done; she went demurely up to the
young master, who wrapped up her shoes in paper. But in secret she
still recognized her playmate; if no one was by she would pinch his
arm quite hard, and gnash her teeth together as she passed him.

But Pelle was too clumsy to understand the transition, and too much
of a child to be shy of the light himself. He hung hack, lonely, and
pondered, uncomprehending, over the new condition of affairs.

But now she did not know him in secret even--he simply did not exist
for her any longer. And Dolores and Aina too had withdrawn their
favor; when he looked out, they averted their heads and shrugged
their shoulders. They were ashamed that they had ever had anything
to do with such a person, and he knew very well why that was.

It had been a peculiar and voluptuous delight to be handled by those
delicate and generous hands. It had been really splendid to sit
there with open mouth and let all three stuff him with delicacies,
so that he was in danger of choking! He wasn't allowed to swallow
them down--they wanted to see how much his mouth would hold; and
then they would laugh and dance round him, and their plump girlish
hands would take hold of his head, one on each side, and press his
jaws together. Now Pelle had gradually added quite an ell to his
stature as a worldly wise citizen; he knew very well that he was of
coarser clay than his companions, and that there must have been an
end of it all, even without the town hall.

But it hurt him; he felt as though he had been betrayed; properly
he oughtn't to touch his food. For was not Manna his betrothed? He
had never thought of that! These were the pains of love! So this was
what they were like! Did those who took their lives on account of
unhappy love feel any different? His grief, to be sure, was not very
stupendous; when the young master made a joke or cursed in his funny
way he could laugh quite heartily still. That, with his disgrace,
was the worst of all.

"You ought to get yourself a young woman," said Jens. "She's as
soft as a young bird, and she warms you through your clothes and
everything!"

But Pelle had something else on hand. He wanted to learn to swim.
He wanted to know how to do everything that the town boys did, and
to win back his place among them. He no longer dreamed of leading
them. So he went about with the "gang"; he drew back a little if
they teased him too brutally, and then crept back again; finally
they grew accustomed to him.

Every evening he ran down to the harbor. To the south of the big
basin, which was now being pumped dry, there was always, in the
twilight, a crowd of apprentices; they leaped naked among the rocks
and swam in chattering shoals toward the west, where the sky still
glowed after the sunset. A long way out a reef lay under the water,
and on this they could just touch bottom; there they would rest
before they swam back, their dark heads brooding on the water like
chattering sea-birds.

Pelle swam out with them in order to accustom himself to deep water,
although they always tried to pull him under by his legs. When the
sea blushed it was as though one was swimming amid roses; and the
light, slippery, shining fronds which the deep-lying weed-beds had
thrown up gleamed in the evening light and slid gently across his
shoulders, and far out in the west lay the land of Fortune, beyond
the vast radiant portals of the sunset; or it showed its golden
plains stretching out into infinity. There it lay, shining with a
strange enticing radiance, so that Pelle forgot the limits of his
strength, and swam out farther than his powers justified. And when
he turned round, parting the floating weed with vigorous strokes,
the water stared at him blackly, and the terror of the depths seized
upon him.

One evening the boys had been hostile in their attitude, and one
of them maintained that the marks of the whip could still be seen
on Pelle's back. "Pelle has never been beaten with a whip!" cried
Morten, in a rage. Pelle himself made no reply, but followed the
"squadron"; his whole nature felt somehow embittered.

There was a slight swell, and this perhaps washed the swimmers out
of their proper course; they could not find the reef on which they
were used to rest. For a time they splashed about, trying to find
it, and wasting their strength; then they turned back to the shore.
Pelle looked after them with wondering eyes.

"Lie on your back and rest!" they cried, as they passed him, and
then they made for the beach; a touch of panic had fallen on them.
Pelle tried to rest, but he had had no practice in floating; the
waves broke over his face; so he labored after the others. On the
shore there was great excitement; he wondered what it meant. Morten,
who had never bathed with the others, was standing on a rock and
was shouting.

Some of the foremost swimmers were already in safety. "You can touch
bottom here!" they shouted, standing with outstretched arms, the
water up to their chins. Pelle labored on indefatigably, but he
was quite convinced that it was useless. He was making hardly any
progress, and he was sinking deeper and deeper. Every moment a wave
washed over him and filled him with water. The stronger swimmers
came out again; they swam round him and tried to help him, but they
only made matters worse. He saw Morten run shouting into the water
with all his clothes on, and that gave him a little strength. But
then suddenly his arms became paralyzed; he went round and round in
the same spot, and only his eyes were above water. Pelle had often
flown in his dreams, and something had always clutched his legs
and hampered his flight. But now this had become reality; he was
floating in the blue sky and poised on his outspread pinions; and
out of the darkness below he heard voices. "Pelle!" they cried,
"little Pelle!" "Yes, Father Lasse!" he answered, and with a sense
of relief he folded his weary wings; he sank in whirling haste,
and a surging sounded in his ears.

Then of a sudden he felt a violent pain in his shins. His hands
clutched at growing plants. He stood up with a leap, and light and
air flowed over him as from a new existence. The boys were running
about, frightened, one leg in their trousers, and he was standing
on the submarine reef, up to the breast in the sea, vomiting salt
water. Round about him swimmers were splashing, diving in every
direction to fetch him up from the bottom of the sea. It was all
really rather funny, and Pelle raised his arms high above his head
as a greeting to life, and took the water with a long dive. Some
distance farther in he appeared again, and swam to shore, parting
the waves like a frolicsome porpoise. But on the beach he fell down
as God had made him, in a profound sleep; he had just pulled one
stocking over his big toe.

Since that day the boys recognized him again. He had certainly
performed no heroic deed, but Destiny had for a moment rested upon
his head--that was enough! Pelle always took the steel sharpener
with him after that; and laid it on the beach with the point toward
the land; he wanted after all to live a little longer. He did not
allow himself to be intimidated, but plunged headlong into the
water.

If the sea was so rough that they could not swim, they would lie
on the brink of the water and let the waves roll them over and over.
Then the waves would come in sweeping flight from the west, as
though to spring upon them; the herds of white horses drove onward,
their grayish manes streaming obliquely behind them. Rearing they
came, sweeping the sea with their white tails, striking out wildly
with their hooves and plunging under the surface. But others sprang
up and leaped over them in serried ranks. They lay flat on the water
and rushed toward the land. The storm whipped the white foam out of
their mouths and drove it along the beach, where it hung gleaming
on the bushes, and then vanished into nothingness. Right up to the
shore they dashed, and then fell dead. But fresh hordes stormed
shoreward from the offing, as though the land must be over-run by
them; they reared, foaming, and struck at one another; they sprang,
snorting and quivering, high in the air; they broke asunder in
panic; there was never an end to it all. And far out in the distance
the sun went down in a flame-red mist. A streak of cloud lay across
it, stretching far out into infinity. A conflagration like a glowing
prairie fire surrounded the horizon, and drove the hordes before it
in panic-stricken flight, and on the beach shouted the naked swarm
of boys. Now and again they sprang up with outspread arms, and,
shouting, chased the wild horses back into the sea.



XVI

Things were not going well in the brothers' home. Jorgensen had done
nothing with his plans. He was the only person who had not known
that such would be the case. The people knew, too, on very good
authority, that the engineer had offered him a hundred kroner for
them, and as he would not take them, but demanded a share in the
undertaking and the honor of executing it, he was shown to the door.

He had never before taken anything so quietly. He did not burst out
roaring with violent words; he simply betook himself to his usual
day-laborer's work in the harbor, like any other worker. He did not
mention his defeat, and allowed no one else to do so. He treated
his wife as though she did not exist. But she had to watch him wrap
himself up in silence, without knowing what was going on in his mind.
She had a foreboding of something terrible, and spoke of her trouble
to the boys. He made no scenes, although now and again he got drunk;
he ate in silence and went to bed. When he was not working, he slept.

But as he himself had so far revealed his plans that they were
known to all, it was all up with his work. The engineer had taken
from Jorgensen's plans as much as he could use--every one could see
that--and now the "Great Power" stood with his mouth empty, simply
because he had put more in his spoon than his mouth would hold. Most
people were far from envying his position, and they took plenty of
time to talk about it; the town was quite accustomed to neglect its
own affairs in order to throw its whole weight on his obstinate back.
But now he was down in the dust all had been to the harbor to watch
the "Great Power" working there--to see him, as a common laborer,
carting the earth for his own wonderful scheme. They marvelled
only that he took it all so quietly; it was to some extent a
disappointment that he did not flinch under the weight of his
burden and break out into impotent raving.

He contented himself with drinking; but that he did thoroughly. He
went about it as it were in the midst of a cloud of alcoholic vapor,
and worked only just enough to enable him to go on drinking. "He has
never yet been like this," said his wife, weeping. "He doesn't storm
and rage, but he is angry all the time so that one can't bear him
at home any longer. He breaks everything in his anger, and he scolds
poor Karen so that it's wretched. He has no regard for anybody,
only for his old mother, and God knows how long that will last. He
doesn't work, he only drinks. He steals my hard-earned money out of
my dress-pocket and buys brandy with it. He has no shame left in him,
although he always used to be so honorable in his way of life. And
he can't stand his boozing as he used to; he's always falling about
and staggering. Lately he came home all bloody--he'd knocked a hole
in his head. What have we ever done to the dear God that he should
punish us like this?"

The old woman said nothing, but let her glance sweep from one to
the other, and thought her own thoughts.

So it went on, week after week. The boys became weary of listening
to their mother's complaints, and kept away from home.

One day, when Karen had been sent on an errand for her mother, she
did not return. Neither had she returned on the following day. Pelle
heard of it down at the boat-harbor, where she had last been seen.
They were dragging the water with nets in the hope of finding her,
but no one dared tell Jorgensen. On the following afternoon they
brought her to the workshop; Pelle knew what it was when he heard
the many heavy footsteps out in the street. She lay on a stretcher,
and two men carried her; before her the autumn wind whirled the
first falling leaves, and her thin arms were hanging down to the
pavement, as though she sought to find a hold there. Her disordered
hair was hanging, too, and the water was dripping from her. Behind
the stretcher came the "Great Power." He was drunk. He held one hand
before his eyes, and murmured as though in thought, and at every
moment he raised his forefinger in the air. "She has found peace,"
he said thickly, trying to look intelligent.

"Peace--the higher it is----" He could not find the word he wanted.

Jens and Pelle replaced the men at the stretcher, and bore it home.
They were afraid of what was before them. But the mother stood at
the door and received them silently, as though she had expected them;
she was merely pale. "She couldn't bear it!" she whispered to them,
and she kneeled down beside the child.

She laid her head on the little crippled body, and whispered
indistinctly; now and again she pressed the child's fingers into
her mouth, in order to stifle her sobs. "And you were to have run
an errand for mother," she said, and she shook her head, smilingly.
"You are a nice sort of girl to me--not to be able to buy me two
skeins of thread; and the money I gave you for it--have you thrown
it away?" Her words came between smiles and sobs, and they sounded
like a slow lament. "Did you throw the money away? It doesn't matter
--it wasn't your fault. Dear child, dear little one!" Then her
strength gave way. Her firmly closed mouth broke open, and closed
again, and so she went on, her head rocking to and fro, while her
hands felt eagerly in the child's pocket. "Didn't you run that
errand for mother?" she moaned. She felt, in the midst of her grief,
the need of some sort of corroboration, even if it referred to
something quite indifferent. And she felt in the child's purse.
There lay a few ore and a scrap of paper.

Then she suddenly stood up. Her face was terribly hard as she turned
to her husband, who stood against the wall, swaying to and fro.
"Peter!" she cried in agony, "Peter! Don't you know what you have
done? 'Forgive me, mother,' it says here, and she has taken four
ore of the thirteen to buy sugar-candy. Look here, her hand is still
quite sticky." She opened the clenched hand, which was closed upon
a scrap of sticky paper. "Ah, the poor persecuted child! She wanted
to sweeten her existence with four ore worth of sugar-candy, and then
into the water! A child has so much pleasure at home here! 'Forgive
me, mother!' she says, as though she had done something wrong. And
everything she did was wrong; so she had to go away. Karen! Karen!
I'm not angry with you--you were very welcome--what do they signify,
those few ore! I didn't mean it like that when I reproached you for
hanging about at home! But I didn't know what to do--we had nothing
to eat. And he spent the little money there was!" She turned her
face from the body to the father and pointed to him. It was the
first time that the wife of the "Great Power" had ever turned upon
him accusingly. But he did not understand her. "She has found peace,"
he murmured, and attempted to pull himself up a little; "the peace
of--" But here the old woman rose in the chimney-corner--until this
moment she had not moved. "Be silent!" she said harshly, setting
her stick at his breast, "or your old mother will curse the day when
she brought you into the world." Wondering, he stared at her; and
a light seemed to shine through the mist as he gazed. For a time he
still stood there, unable to tear his eyes from the body. He looked
as though he wished to throw himself down beside his wife, who once
more lay bowed above the bier, whispering. Then, with hanging head,
he went upstairs and lay down.



XVII

It was after working hours when Pelle went homeward; but he did not
feel inclined to run down to the harbor or to bathe. The image of
the drowned child continued to follow him, and for the first time
Death had met him with its mysterious "Why?". He found no answer,
and gradually he forgot it for other things. But the mystery itself
continued to brood within him, and made him afraid without any
sort of reason, so that he encountered the twilight even with
a foreboding of evil. The secret powers which exhale from heaven
and earth when light and darkness meet clutched at him with their
enigmatical unrest, and he turned unquietly from one thing to
another, although he must be everywhere in order to cope with this
inconceivable Something that stood, threatening, behind everything.
For the first time he felt, rid of all disguise, the unmercifulness
which was imminent in this or that transgression of his. Never
before had Life itself pressed upon him with its heavy burden.

It seemed to Pelle that something called him, but he could not
clearly discover whence the call came. He crept from his window on
to the roof and thence to the gable-end; perhaps it was the world
that called. The hundreds of tile-covered roofs of the town lay
before him, absorbing the crimson of the evening sky, and a blue
smoke was rising. And voices rose out of the warm darkness that lay
between the houses. He heard, too, the crazy Anker's cry; and this
eternal prophecy of things irrational sounded like the complaint of
a wild beast. The sea down yonder and the heavy pine-woods that lay
to the north and the south--these had long been familiar to him.

But there was a singing in his ears, and out of the far distance,
and something or some one stood behind him, whose warm breath struck
upon his neck. He turned slowly about. He was no longer afraid in
the darkness, and he knew beforehand that nothing was there. But
his lucid mind had been invaded by the twilight, with its mysterious
train of beings which none of the senses can confirm.

He went down into the courtyard and strolled about. Everywhere
prevailed the same profound repose. Peers, the cat, was sitting on
the rain-water butt, mewing peevishly at a sparrow which had perched
upon the clothes-line. The young master was in his room, coughing;
he had already gone to bed. Pelle bent over the edge of the well and
gazed vacantly over the gardens. He was hot and dizzy, but a cool
draught rose from the well and soothingly caressed his head. The
bats were gliding through the air like spirits, passing so close
to his face that he felt the wind of their flight, and turning about
with a tiny clapping sound. He felt a most painful desire to cry.

Among the tall currant-bushes yonder something moved, and
Sjermanna's head made its appearance. She was moving cautiously and
peering before her. When she saw Pelle she came quickly forward.

"Good evening!" she whispered.

"Good evening!" he answered aloud, delighted to return to human
society.

"Hush! You mustn't shout!" she said peremptorily.

"Why not?" Pelle himself was whispering now. He was feeling quite
concerned. "Because you mustn't! Donkey! Come, I'll show you
something. No, nearer still!"

Pelle pushed his head forward through the tall elder-bush, and
suddenly she put her two hands about his head and kissed him
violently and pushed him back. He tried gropingly to take hold of
her, but she stood there laughing at him. Her face glowed in the
darkness. "You haven't heard anything about it!" she whispered.
"Come, I'll tell you!"

Now he was smiling all over his face. He pushed his way eagerly into
the elder-bush. But at the same moment he felt her clenched fist
strike his face. She laughed crazily, but he stood fixed in the
same position, as though stunned, his mouth held forward as if still
awaiting a kiss. "Why do you hit me?" he asked, gazing at her
brokenly.

"Because I can't endure you! You're a perfect oaf, and so ugly and
so common!"

"I have never done anything to you!"

"No? Anyhow, you richly deserved it! What did you want to kiss me
for?"

Pelle stood there helplessly stammering. The whole world of his
experience collapsed under him. "But I didn't!" he at last brought
out; he looked extraordinarily foolish. Manna aped his expression.
"Ugh! Bugh! Take care, or you'll freeze to the ground and turn into
a lamp-post! There's nothing on the hedge here that will throw light
on your understanding!"

With a leap Pelle was over the hedge. Manna took him hastily by the
hand and drew him through the bushes. "Aina and Dolores will be here
directly. Then we'll play," she declared.

"I thought they couldn't come out in the evenings any more," said
Pelle, obediently allowing her to lead him. She made no reply, but
looked about her as though she wanted to treat him to something as
in the old days. In her need she stripped a handful of leaves off
the currant-boughs, and stuffed them into his mouth. "There, take
that and hold your mouth!" She was quite the old Manna once more,
and Pelle laughed.

They had come to the summer-house. Manna cooled his swollen cheeks
with wet earth while they waited.

"Did it hurt you much?" she asked sympathetically, putting her arm
about his shoulder.

"It's nothing. What's a box on the ear?" he said manfully.

"I didn't mean it--you know that. Did _that_ hurt you very
much?"

Pelle gazed at her sadly. She looked at him inquisitively. "Was
it here?" she said, letting her hand slide down his back. He rose
silently, in order to go, but she seized him by the wrist. "Forgive
me," she whispered.

"Aren't the others coming soon?" asked Pelle harshly. He proposed
to be angry with her, as in the old days.

"No! They aren't coming at all! I've deceived you. I wanted to talk
to you!" Manna was gasping for breath.

"I thought you didn't want to have anything more to do with me?"

"Well, I don't! I only want--" She could not find words, and stamped
angrily on the ground. Then she said slowly and solemnly, with the
earnestness of a child: "Do you know what I believe? I believe--I
love you!"

"Then we can get married when we are old enough!" said Pelle
joyfully.

She looked at him for a moment with a measuring glance. The
town-hall and the flogging! thought Pelle. He was quite resolved
that he would do the beating now; but here she laughed at him.
"What a glorious booby you are!" she said, and as though deep in
thought, she let a handful of wet earth run down his neck.

Pelle thought for a moment of revenge; then, as though in sport,
he thrust his hand into her bosom. She fell back weakly, groping
submissively with her hands; a new knowledge arose in him, and
impelled him to embrace her violently.

She looked at him in amazement, and tried gently to push his hand
away. But it was too late. The boy had broken down her defences.

As Pelle went back into the house he was overwhelmed, but not happy.
His heart hammered wildly, and a chaos reigned in his brain. Quite
instinctively he trod very softly. For a long time he lay tossing
to and fro without being able to sleep. His mind had resolved the
enigma, and now he discovered the living blood in himself. It sang
its sufferings in his ear; it welled into his cheeks and his heart;
it murmured everywhere in numberless pulses, so that his whole body
thrilled. Mighty and full of mystery, it surged through him like an
inundation, filling him with a warm, deep astonishment. Never before
had he known all this!

In the time that followed his blood was his secret confidant
in everything; he felt it like a caress when it filled his limbs,
causing a feeling of distension in wrists and throat. He had his
secret now, and his face never betrayed the fact that he had ever
known Sjermanna. His radiant days had all at once changed into
radiant nights. He was still enough of a child to long for the old
days, with their games in the broad light of day; but something
impelled him to look forward, listening, and his questing soul
bowed itself before the mysteries of life. The night had made
him accomplice in her mysteries. With Manna he never spoke again.
She never came into the garden, and if he met her she turned into
another street. A rosy flame lay continually over her face, as
though it had burned its way in. Soon afterward she went to a farm
in Ostland, where an uncle of hers lived.

But Pelle felt nothing and was in no way dejected. He went about as
though in a half-slumber; everything was blurred and veiled before
his spiritual vision. He was quite bewildered by all that was going
on within him. Something was hammering and laboring in every part
and corner of him. Ideas which were too fragile were broken down
and built up more strongly, so that they should bear the weight of
the man in him. His limbs grew harder; his muscles became like steel,
and he was conscious of a general feeling of breadth across his
back, and of unapplied strength. At times he awakened out of his
half-slumber into a brief amazement, when he felt himself, in one
particular or another, to have become a man; as when one day he
heard his own voice. It had gained a deep resonance, which was quite
foreign to his ear, and forced him to listen as though it had been
another that spoke.



XVIII

Pelle fought against the decline of the business. A new apprentice
had been taken into the workshop, but Pelle, as before, had to do
all the delicate jobs. He borrowed articles when necessary, and
bought things on credit; and he had to interview impatient customers,
and endeavor to pacify them. He got plenty of exercise, but he
learned nothing properly. "Just run down to the harbor," the master
used to say: "Perhaps there will be some work to bring back!" But
the master was much more interested in the news which he brought
thence.

Pelle would also go thither without having received any orders.
Everybody in the town must needs make for the harbor whenever he
went from home; it was the heart through which everything came and
went, money and dreams and desires and that which gratified them.
Every man had been to sea, and his best memories and his hardest
battles belonged to the sea. Dreams took the outward way; yonder
lay the sea, and all men's thoughts were drawn to it; the thoughts
of the young, who longed to go forth and seek adventure, and of
the old, who lived on their memories. It was the song in all men's
hearts, and the God in the inmost soul of all; the roving-ground of
life's surplus, the home of all that was inexplicable and mystical.
The sea had drunk the blood of thousands, but its color knew no
change; the riddle of life brooded in its restless waters.

Destiny rose from the floor of the deep and with short shrift
set her mark upon a man; he might escape to the land, like Baker
Jorgensen, who went no more to sea when once the warning had come
to him, or, like Boatman Jensen, he might rise in his sleep and walk
straight over the vessel's side. Down below, where the drowned dwelt,
the ships sank to bring them what they needed; and from time to time
the bloodless children of the sea rose to the shore, to play with
the children that were born on a Sunday, and to bring them death
or happiness.

Over the sea, three times a week, came the steamer with news from
Copenhagen; and vessels all wrapped in ice, and others that had
sprung a heavy leak, or bore dead bodies on board; and great ships
which came from warm countries and had real negroes among their
crews.

Down by the harbor stood the old men who had forsaken the sea, and
now all the long day through they stared out over the playground
of their manhood, until Death came for them. The sea had blown gout
into their limbs, had buffeted them until they were bent and bowed,
and in the winter nights one could hear them roar with the pain like
wild beasts. Down to the harbor drifted all the flotsam and jetsam
of the land, invalids and idle men and dying men, and busy folk
raced round about and up and down with fluttering coat-tails,
in order to scent out possible profits.

The young sported here continually; it was as though they
encountered the future when they played here by the open sea. Many
never went further, but many let themselves be caught and whirled
away out into the unknown. Of these was Nilen. When the ships were
being fitted out he could wait no longer. He sacrificed two years'
apprenticeship, and ran away on board a vessel which was starting
on a long voyage. Now he was far away in the Trades, on the southern
passage round America, homeward bound with a cargo of redwood. And
a few left with every steamer. The girls were the most courageous
when it came to cutting themselves loose; they steamed away swiftly,
and the young men followed them in amorous blindness. And men fought
their way outward in order to seek something more profitable than
could be found at home.

Pelle had experienced all this already: he had felt this same
longing, and had known the attractive force of the unknown. Up
in the country districts it was the dream of all poor people to
fight their way to town, and the boldest one day ventured thither,
with burning cheeks, while the old people spoke warningly of the
immorality of cities. And in the town here it was the dream of all
to go to the capital, to Copenhagen; there fortune and happiness
were to be found! He who had the courage hung one day over the
ship's rail, and waved farewell, with an absent expression in his
eyes, as though he had been playing a game with high stakes; over
there on the mainland he would have to be a match with the best
of them. But the old people shook their heads and spoke at length
of the temptations and immorality of the capital.

Now and again one came back and justified their wisdom. Then they
would run delightedly from door to door. "Didn't we tell you so?"
But many came home at holiday seasons and were such swells that it
was really the limit! And this or that girl was so extremely stylish
that people had to ask the opinion of Wooden-leg Larsen about her.

The girls who got married over there--well, they were well provided
for! After an interval of many years they came back to their
parents' homes, travelling on deck among the cattle, and giving
the stewardess a few pence to have them put in the newspaper as
cabin-passengers. They were fine enough as to their clothes, but
their thin haggard faces told another story. "There is certainly
not enough to eat for all over there!" said the old women.

But Pelle took no interest in those that came home again. All his
thoughts were with those who went away; his heart tugged painfully
in his breast, so powerful was his longing to be off. The sea,
whether it lay idle or seethed with anger, continually filled his
head with the humming of the world "over yonder," with a vague,
mysterious song of happiness.

One day, as he was on his way to the harbor, he met old thatcher
Holm from Stone Farm. Holm was going about looking at the houses
from top to bottom; he was raising his feet quite high in the air
from sheer astonishment, and was chattering to himself. On his arm
he carried a basket loaded with bread and butter, brandy, and beer.

"Well, here's some one at last!" he said, and offered his hand.
"I'm going round and wondering to myself where they all live,
those that come here day after day and year after year, and whether
they've done any good. Mother and I have often talked about it, that
it would be splendid to know how things have turned out for this
one or that. And this morning she said it would be best if I were
to make a short job of it before I quite forget how to find my way
about the streets here, I haven't been here for ten years. Well,
according to what I've seen so far, mother and I needn't regret
we've stayed at home. Nothing grows here except lamp-posts, and
mother wouldn't understand anything about rearing them. Thatched
roofs I've not seen here. Here in the town they'd grudge a thatcher
his bread. But I'll see the harbor before I go home."

"Then we'll go together," said Pelle. He was glad to meet some one
from his home. The country round about Stone Farm was always for him
the home of his childhood. He gossiped with the old man and pointed
out various objects of interest.

"Yes, I've been once, twice, three times before this to the harbor,"
said Holm, "but I've never managed to see the steamer. They tell
me wonderful things of it; they say all our crops are taken to
Copenhagen in the steamer nowadays."

"It's lying here to-day," said Pelle eagerly. "This evening
it goes out."

Holm's eyes beamed. "Then I shall be able to see the beggar! I've
often seen the smoke from the hill at home--drifting over the sea--
and that always gave me a lot to think about. They say it eats coals
and is made of iron." He looked at Pelle uncertainly.

The great empty harbor basin, in which some hundreds of men were at
work, interested him greatly. Pelle pointed out the "Great Power,"
who was toiling like a madman and allowing himself to be saddled
with the heaviest work.

"So that is he!" cried Holm. "I knew his father; he was a man who
wanted to do things above the ordinary, but he never brought them
off. And how goes it with your father? Not any too well, as I've
heard?"

Pelle had been home a little while before; nothing was going well
there, but as to that he was silent. "Karna isn't very well," he
said. "She tried to do too much; she's strained herself lifting
things."

"They say he'll have a difficult job to pull through. They have
taken too much on themselves," Holm continued.

Pelle made no reply; and then the steamer absorbed their whole
attention. Talkative as he was, Holm quite forgot to wag his
tongue.

The steamer was on the point of taking in cargo; the steam derricks
were busy at both hatches, squealing each time they swung round in
another direction. Holm became so light on his legs one might have
thought he was treading on needles; when the derrick swung round
over the quay and the chain came rattling down, he ran right back
to the granary. Pelle wanted to take him on board, but he would not
hear of it. "It looks a bad-tempered monster," he said: "look how
it sneezes and fusses!"

On the quay, by the forward hold, the goods of a poverty-stricken
household lay all mixed together. A man stood there holding a
mahogany looking-glass, the only article of value, in his arms. His
expression was gloomy. By the manner in which he blew his nose--with
his knuckles instead of with his fingers--one could see that he had
something unaccustomed on hand. His eyes were fixed immovably on his
miserable household possessions, and they anxiously followed every
breakable article as it went its airy way into the vessel's maw.
His wife and children were sitting on the quay-wall, eating out of
a basket of provisions. They had been sitting there for hours. The
children were tired and tearful; the mother was trying to console
them, and to induce them to sleep on the stone.

"Shan't we start soon?" they asked continually, in complaining
tones.

"Yes, the ship starts directly, but you must be very good or
I shan't take you with me. And then you'll come to the capital city,
where they eat white bread and always wear leather boots. The King
himself lives there, and they've got everything in the shops there."
She arranged her shawl under their heads.

"But that's Per Anker's son from Blaaholt!" cried Holm, when he had
been standing a while on the quay and had caught sight of the man.
"What, are you leaving the country?"

"Yes, I've decided to do so," said the man, in an undertone, passing
his hand over his face.

"And I thought you were doing so well! Didn't you go to Ostland,
and didn't you take over a hotel there?"

"Yes, they enticed me out there, and now I've lost everything
there."

"You ought to have considered--considering costs nothing but
a little trouble."

"But they showed me false books, which showed a greater surplus
than there really was. Shipowner Monsen was behind the whole affair,
together with the brewer from the mainland, who had taken the hotel
over in payment of outstanding debts."

"But how did big folks like that manage to smell you out?" Holm
scratched his head; he didn't understand the whole affair.

"Oh, they'd heard of the ten thousand, of course, which I'd
inherited from my father. They throw their nets out for sums like
that, and one day they sent an agent to see me. Ten thousand was
just enough for the first instalment, and now they have taken the
hotel over again. Out of compassion, they let me keep this trash
here." He suddenly turned his face away and wept; and then his wife
came swiftly up to him.

Holm drew Pelle away. "They'd rather be rid of us," he said quietly;
and he continued to discuss the man's dismal misfortune, while they
strolled out along the mole. But Pelle was not listening to him. He
had caught sight of a little schooner which was cruising outside,
and was every moment growing more restless.

"I believe that's the Iceland schooner!" he said at last. "So
I must go back."

"Yes, run off," said Holm, "and many thanks for your guidance,
and give my respects to Lasse and Karna."

On the harbor hill Pelle met Master Jeppe, and farther on Drejer,
Klaussen, and Blom. The Iceland boat had kept them waiting for
several months; the news that she was in the roads quickly spread,
and all the shoemakers of the whole town were hurrying down to the
harbor, in order to hear whether good business had been done before
the gangway was run out.

"The Iceland boat is there now!" said the merchants and leather-
dealers, when they saw the shoemakers running by. "We must make
haste and make out our bills, for now the shoemakers will be having
money."

But the skipper had most of the boots and shoes still in his hold;
he returned with the terrifying news that no more boots and shoes
could be disposed of in Iceland. The winter industry had been of
great importance to the shoemakers.

"What does this mean?" asked Jeppe angrily. "You have been long
enough about it! Have you been trying to open another agency over
there? In others years you have managed to sell the whole lot."

"I have done what I could," replied the captain gloomily. "I offered
them to the dealers in big parcels, and then I lay there and carried
on a retail trade from the ship. Then I ran down the whole west
coast; but there is nothing to be done."

"Well, well," said Jeppe, "but do the Icelanders mean to go without
boots?"

"There's the factories," replied the captain.

"The factories, the factories!" Jeppe laughed disdainfully, but
with a touch of uncertainty. "You'll tell me next that they can
make shoes by machinery--cut out and peg and sew and fix the treads
and all? No, damn it, that can only be done by human hands directed
by human intelligence. Shoemaking is work for men only. Perhaps I
myself might be replaced by a machine--by a few cog-wheels that go
round and round! Bah! A machine is dead, I know that, and it can't
think or adapt itself to circumstances; you may have to shape the
boot in a particular way for a special foot, on account of tender
toes, or--here I give the sole a certain cut in the instep, so that
it looks smart, or--well, one has to be careful, or one cuts into
the upper!"

"There are machines which make boots, and they make them cheaper
than you, too," said the skipper brusquely.

"I should like to see them! Can you show me a boot that hasn't
been made by human hands?" Jeppe laughed contemptuously. "No;
there's something behind all this, by God! Some one is trying to
play us a trick!" The skipper went his way, offended.

Jeppe stuck to it that there was something uncanny about it--the
idea of a machine making boots was enough to haunt him. He kept
on returning to it.

"They'll be making human beings by machinery too, soon!" he
exclaimed angrily.

"No," said Baker Jorgen; "there, I believe, the old method will
survive!"

One day the skipper came in at the workshop door, banged a pair of
shoes down on the window-bench, and went out again. They had been
bought in England, and belonged to the helmsman of a bark which had
just come into the harbor. The young master looked at them, turned
them over in his hands, and looked at them again. Then he called
Jeppe. They were sewn throughout--shoes for a grown man, yet sewn
throughout! Moreover, the factory stamp was under the sole.

In Jeppe's opinion they were not worth a couple of shillings. But
he could not get over the fact that they were machine-made.

"Then we are superfluous," he said, in a quavering voice. All his
old importance seemed to have fallen from him. "For if they can make
the one kind on a machine, they can make another. The handicraft is
condemned to death, and we shall all be without bread one fine day!
Well, I, thank God, have not many years before me." It was the first
time that Jeppe had admitted that he owed his life to God.

Every time he came into the workshop he began to expatiate on the
same subject. He would stand there turning the hated shoes over
between his hands. Then he would criticize them. "We must take more
pains next winter."

"Father forgets it's all up with us now," said the young master
wearily.

Then the old man would be silent and hobble out. But after a time
he would be back again, fingering the boots and shoes, in order to
discover defects in them. His thoughts were constantly directed upon
this new subject; no song of praise, no eulogy of his handicraft,
passed his lips nowadays. If the young master came to him and asked
his help in some difficult situation, he would refuse it; he felt
no further desire to triumph over youth with his ancient dexterity,
but shuffled about and shrank into himself. "And all that we have
thought so highly of--what's to become of it?" he would ask. "For
machines don't make masterpieces and medal work, so where will real
good work come in?"

The young master did not look so far ahead; he thought principally
of the money that was needed. "Devil take it, Pelle, how are we
going to pay every one, Pelle?" he would ask dejectedly. Little
Nikas had to look out for something else; their means would not
allow them to keep a journeyman. So Nikas decided to marry, and
to set up as a master shoemaker in the north. The shoemaker of
the Baptist community had just died, and he could get plenty of
customers by joining the sect; he was already attending their
services. "But go to work carefully!" said Jeppe. "Or matters
will go awry!"

It was a bad shock to all of them. Klaussen went bankrupt and had to
find work on the new harbor. Blom ran away, deserting his wife and
children, and they had to go home to the house of her parents. In
the workshop matters had been getting worse for a long time. And now
this had happened, throwing a dazzling light upon the whole question.
But the young master refused to believe the worst. "I shall soon be
well again now," he said. "And then you will just see how I'll work
up the business!" He lay in bed more often now, and was susceptible
to every change in the weather. Pelle had to see to everything.

"Run and borrow something!" the master would say. And if Pelle
returned with a refusal, he would look at the boy with his wide,
wondering eyes. "They've got the souls of grocers!" he would cry.
"Then we must peg those soles!"

"That won't answer with ladies' patent-leather shoes!" replied
Pelle very positively.

"Damn and blast it all, it will answer! We'll black the bottom
with cobbler's wax."

But when the black was trodden off, Jungfer Lund and the others
called, and were wroth. They were not accustomed to walk in pegged
shoes. "It's a misunderstanding!" said the young master, the
perspiration standing in clear beads on his forehead. Or he would
hide and leave it to Pelle. When it was over, he would reach up to
the shelf, panting with exhaustion. "Can't you do anything for me,
Pelle?" he whispered.

One day Pelle plucked up courage and said it certainly wasn't
healthy to take so much spirit; the master needed so much now.

"Healthy?" said the master; "no, good God, it isn't healthy! But the
beasts demand it! In the beginning I couldn't get the stuff down,
especially beer; but now I've accustomed myself to it. If I didn't
feed them, they'd soon rush all over me and eat me up."

"Do they swallow it, then?"

"I should think they do! As much as ever you like to give them. Or
have you ever seen me tipsy? I can't get drunk; the tubercles take
it all. And for them it's sheer poison. On the day when I am able
to get drunk again I shall thank God, for then the beasts will be
dead and the spirit will be able to attack me again. Then it'll only
be a question of stopping it, otherwise it'll play the deuce with my
mind!"

Since the journeyman had left, the meals had become more meager than
ever. The masters had not had enough money in the spring to buy a
pig. So there was no one to consume the scraps. Now they had to eat
them all themselves. Master Andres was never at the table; he took
scarcely any nourishment nowadays; a piece of bread-and-butter now
and again, that was all. Breakfast, at half-past seven, they ate
alone. It consisted of salt herrings, bread and hog's lard, and
soup. The soup was made out of all sorts of odds and ends of bread
and porridge, with an addition of thin beer. It was fermented and
unpalatable. What was left over from breakfast was put into a great
crock which stood in one corner of the kitchen, on the floor, and
this was warmed up again the next morning, with the addition of a
little fresh beer. So it went on all the year round. The contents
were renewed only when some one kicked the crock so that it broke.
The boys confined themselves to the herrings and the lard; the soup
they did not use except to fish about in it. They made a jest of it,
throwing all sorts of objects into it, and finding them again after
half a year.

Jeppe was still lying in the alcove, asleep; his nightcap was
hoved awry over one eye. Even in his sleep he still had a comical
expression of self-importance. The room was thick with vapor; the
old man had his own way of getting air, breathing it in with a long
snort and letting it run rumbling through him. If it got too bad,
the boys would make a noise; then he would wake and scold them.

They were longing for food by dinner-time; the moment Jeppe called
his "Dinner!" at the door they threw everything down, ranged
themselves according to age, and tumbled in behind him. They held
one another tightly by the coat-tails, and made stupid grimaces.
Jeppe was enthroned at the head of the table, a little cap on his
head, trying to preserve seemly table-manners. No one might begin
before him or continue after he had finished. They snatched at
their spoons, laid them down again with a terrified glance at the
old man, and nearly exploded with suppressed laughter. "Yes, I'm
very hungry to-day, but there's no need for you to remark it!" he
would say warningly, once they were in full swing. Pelle would wink
at the others, and they would go on eating, emptying one dish after
another. "There's no respect nowadays!" roared Jeppe, striking on
the table. But when he did this discipline suddenly entered into
them, and they all struck the table after him in turn. Sometimes,
when matters got too bad, Master Andres had to find some reason
for coming into the room.

The long working-hours, the bad food, and the foul air of the
workshop left their mark on Pelle. His attachment to Master Andres
was limitless; he could sit there till midnight and work without
payment if a promise had been made to finish some particular job.
But otherwise he was imperceptibly slipping into the general
slackness, sharing the others' opinion of the day as something
utterly abominable, which one must somehow endeavor to get through.
To work at half pressure was a physical necessity; his rare
movements wearied him, and he felt less inclined to work than to
brood. The semi-darkness of the sunless workshop bleached his skin
and filled him with unhealthy imaginations.

He did little work now on his own account; but he had learned to
manage with very little. Whenever he contrived to get hold of a
ten-ore piece, he bought a savings-stamp, so that in this way he
was able to collect a few shillings, until they had grown to quite
a little sum. Now and again, too, he got a little help from Lasse,
but Lasse found it more and more difficult to spare anything.
Moreover, he had learned to compose his mind by his work.



XIX

The crazy Anker was knocking on the workshop door. "Bjerregrav is
dead!" he said solemnly. "Now there is only one who can mourn over
poverty!" Then he went away and announced the news to Baker Jorgen.
They heard him going from house to house, all along the street.

Bjerregrav dead! Only yesterday evening he was sitting yonder, on
the chair by the window-bench, and his crutch was standing in the
corner by the door; and he had offered them all his hand in his
odd, ingenuous way--that unpleasantly flabby hand, at whose touch
they all felt a certain aversion, so importunate was it, and almost
skinless in its warmth, so that one felt as if one had involuntarily
touched some one on a naked part. Pelle was always reminded of
Father Lasse; he too had never learned to put on armor, but had
always remained the same loyal, simple soul, unaffected by his
hard experience.

The big baker had fallen foul of him as usual. Contact with this
childlike, thin-skinned creature, who let his very heart burn itself
out in a clasp of his hand, always made him brutal. "Now, Bjerregrav,
have you tried it--you know what--since we last saw you?"

Bjerregrav turned crimson. "I am content with the experience which
the dear God has chosen for me," he answered, with blinking eyes.

"Would you believe it, he is over seventy and doesn't know yet how
a woman is made!"

"Because, after all I find it suits me best to live alone, and then
there's my club foot."

"So he goes about asking questions about everything, things
such as every child knows about," said Jeppe, in a superior tone.
"Bjerregrav has never rubbed off his childish innocence."

Yet as he was going home, and Pelle was helping him over the gutter,
he was still in his mood of everlasting wonder.

"What star is that?" he said; "it has quite a different light to
the others. It looks so red to me--if only we don't have a severe
winter, with the soil frozen and dear fuel for all the poor people."
Bjerregrav sighed.

"You mustn't look at the moon so much. Skipper Andersen came by his
accident simply because he slept on deck and the moon shone right in
his face; now he has gone crazy!"

Yesterday evening just the same as always--and now dead! And no one
had known or guessed, so that they might have been a little kinder
to him just at the last! He died in his bed, with his mind full of
their last disdainful words, and now they could never go to him and
say: "Don't take any notice of it, Bjerregrav; we didn't mean to be
unkind." Perhaps their behavior had embittered his last hours. At
all events, there stood Jeppe and Brother Jorgen, and they could not
look one another in the face; an immovable burden weighed upon them.

And it meant a void--as when the clock in a room stops ticking.
The faithful sound of his crutch no longer approached the workshop
about six o'clock. The young master grew restless about that time;
he could not get used to the idea of Bjerregrav's absence.

"Death is a hateful thing," he would say, when the truth came over
him; "it is horribly repugnant. Why must one go away from here
without leaving the least part of one behind? Now I listen for
Bjerregrav's crutch, and there's a void in my ears, and after a time
there won't be even that. Then he will be forgotten, and perhaps
more besides, who will have followed him, and so it goes on forever.
Is there anything reasonable about it all, Pelle? They talk about
Heaven, but what should I care about sitting on a damp cloud and
singing 'Hallelujah'? I'd much rather go about down here and get
myself a drink--especially if I had a sound leg!"

The apprentices accompanied him to the grave. Jeppe wished them to
do so, as a sort of atonement. Jeppe himself and Baker Jorgen, in
tall hats, walked just behind the coffin. Otherwise only a few poor
women and children followed, who had joined the procession out of
curiosity. Coachman Due drove the hearse. He had now bought a pair
of horses, and this was his first good job.

Otherwise life flowed onward, sluggish and monotonous. Winter had
come again, with its commercial stagnation, and the Iceland trade
was ruined. The shoemakers did no more work by artificial light;
there was so little to do that it would not repay the cost of the
petroleum; so the hanging lamp was put on one side and the old tin
lamp was brought out again. That was good enough to sit round and
to gossip by. The neighbors would come into the twilight of the
workshop; if Master Andres was not there, they would slip out again,
or they would sit idly there until Jeppe said it was bed-time. Pelle
had begun to occupy himself with carving once more; he got as close
to the lamp as possible, listening to the conversation while he
worked upon a button which was to be carved like a twenty-five-ore
piece. Morten was to have it for a tie-pin.

The conversation turned upon the weather, and how fortunate it was
that the frost had not yet come to stop the great harbor works. Then
it touched upon the "Great Power," and from him it glanced at the
crazy Anker, and poverty, and discontent. The Social Democrats "over
yonder" had for a long time been occupying the public mind. All
the summer through disquieting rumors had crossed the water; it was
quite plain that they were increasing their power and their numbers
--but what were they actually aiming at? In any case, it was nothing
good. "They must be the very poorest who are revolting," said
Wooden-leg Larsen. "So their numbers must be very great!" It was
as though one heard the roaring of something or other out on the
horizon, but did not know what was going on there. The echo of the
upheaval of the lower classes was quite distorted by the time it
reached the island; people understood just so much, that the lowest
classes wanted to turn God's appointed order upside down and to get
to the top themselves, and involuntarily their glance fell covertly
on the poor in the town. But these were going about in their
customary half-slumber, working when there was work to be had and
contenting themselves with that. "That would be the last straw,"
said Jeppe, "here, where we have such a well-organized poor-relief!"

Baker Jorgen was the most eager--every day he came with news of
some kind to discuss. Now they had threatened the life of the King
himself! And now the troops were called out.

"The troops!" The young master made a disdainful gesture. "That'll
help a lot! If they merely throw a handful of dynamite among the
soldiers there won't be a trouser-button left whole! No, they'll
conquer the capital now!" His cheeks glowed: he saw the event
already in his mind's eye. "Yes, and then? Then they'll plunder
the royal Mint!"

"Yes--no. Then they'll come over here--the whole party!"

"Come over here? No, by God! We'd call out all the militia and shoot
them down from the shore. I've put my gun in order already!"

One day Marker came running in. "The pastrycook's got a new
journeyman from over yonder--and he's a Social Democrat!" he cried
breathlessly. "He came yesterday evening by the steamer." Baker
Jorgen had also heard the news.

"Yes, now they're on you!" said Jeppe, as one announcing disaster.
"You've all been trifling with the new spirit of the times. This
would have been something for Bjerregrav to see--him with his
compassion for the poor!"

"Let the tailor rest in peace in his grave," said Wooden-leg Larsen,
in a conciliatory tone. "You mustn't blame him for the angry masses
that exist to-day. He wanted nothing but people's good--and perhaps
these people want to do good, too!"

"Good!" Jeppe was loud with scorn. "They want to overturn law and
order, and sell the fatherland to the Germans! They say the sum is
settled already, and all!"

"They say they'll be let into the capital during the night, when
our own people are asleep," said Marker.

"Yes," said Master Andres solemnly. "They've let out that the key's
hidden under the mat--the devils!" Here Baker Jorgen burst into a
shout of laughter; his laughter filled the whole workshop when he
once began.

They guessed what sort of a fellow the new journeyman might be. No
one had seen him yet. "He certainly has red hair and a red beard,"
said Baker Jorgen. "That's the good God's way of marking those who
have signed themselves to the Evil One."

"God knows what the pastrycook wants with him," said Jeppe. "People
of that sort can't do anything--they only ask. I've heard the whole
lot of them are free-thinkers."

"What a lark!" The young master shook himself contentedly. "He won't
grow old here in the town!"

"Old?" The baker drew up his heavy body. "To-morrow I shall go to
the pastrycook and demand that he be sent away. I am commander of
the militia, and I know all the townsfolk think as I do."

Drejer thought it might be well to pray from the pulpit--as in
time of plague, and in the bad year when the field-mice infested
the country.

Next morning Jorgen Kofod looked in on his way to the pastrycook's.
He was wearing his old militia coat, and at his belt hung the
leather wallet in which flints for the old flint-locks had been
carried many years before. He filled his uniform well; but he came
back without success. The pastrycook praised his new journeyman
beyond all measure, and wouldn't hear a word of sending him away.
He was quite besotted. "But we shall buy there no more--we must all
stick to that--and no respectable family can deal with the traitor
in future."

"Did you see the journeyman, Uncle Jorgen?" asked Master Andres
eagerly.

"Yes, I saw him--that is, from a distance! He had a pair of terrible,
piercing eyes; but he shan't bewitch me with his serpent's glance!"

In the evening Pelle and the others were strolling about the market
in order to catch a glimpse of the new journeyman--there were a
number of people there, and they were all strolling to and fro with
the same object in view. But he evidently kept the house.

And then one day, toward evening, the master came tumbling into the
workshop. "Hurry up, damn it all!" he cried, quite out of breath;
"he's passing now!" They threw down their work and stumbled along
the passage into the best room, which at ordinary times they were
not allowed to enter. He was a tall, powerful man, with full cheeks
and a big, dashing moustache, quite as big as the master's. His
nostrils were distended, and he held his chest well forward. His
jacket and wasitcoat were open, as though he wanted more air. Behind
him slunk a few street urchins, in the hope of seeing something;
they had quite lost their accustomed insolence, and followed him
in silence.

"He walks as though the whole town belonged to him!" said Jeppe
scornfully. "But we'll soon finish with him here!"



XX

Out in the street some one went by, and then another, and then
another; there was quite a trampling of feet. The young master
knocked on the wall. "What in the world is it, Pelle?" He did not
mean to get up that day.

Pelle ran out to seek information. "Jen's father has got delirium--
he's cleared the whole harbor and is threatening to kill them all!"

The master raised his head a little. "By God, I believe I shall
get up!" His eyes were glistening; presently he had got into his
clothes, and limped out of doors; they heard him coughing terribly
in the cold.

Old Jeppe put his official cap in his pocket before he ran out;
perhaps the authorities would be needed. For a time the apprentices
sat staring at the door like sick birds; then they, too, ran out
of the house.

Outside everything was in confusion. The wildest rumors were flying
about as to what Stonemason Jorgensen had done. The excitement could
not have been greater had a hostile squadron come to anchor and
commenced to bombard the town. Everybody dropped what he was holding
and rushed down to the harbor. The smaller side-streets were one
unbroken procession of children and old women and small employers
in their aprons. Old gouty seamen awoke from their decrepit slumber
and hobbled away, their hands dropped to the back of their loins
and their faces twisted with pain.

  "Toot aroot aroot aroot.
  All the pitchy snouts!"

A few street-urchins allowed themselves this little diversion, as
Pelle came running by with the other apprentices; otherwise all
attention was concentrated on the one fact that the "Great Power"
had broken out again! A certain festivity might have been noted on
the faces of the hurrying crowd; a vivid expectation. The stonemason
had been quiet for a long time now; he had labored like a giant
beast of burden, to all appearance extinguished, but toiling like
an elephant, and quietly taking home a couple of kroner in the
evening. It was almost painful to watch him, and a disappointed
silence gathered about him. And now came a sudden explosion,
thrilling everybody through!

All had something to say of the "strong man" while they hastened
down to the harbor. Everybody had foreseen that it must come; he had
for a long time looked so strange, and had done nothing wrong, so
that it was only a wonder that it hadn't come sooner! Such people
ought not really to be at large; they ought to be shut up for life!
They went over the events of his life for the hundredth time--from
the day when he came trudging into town, young and fearless in his
rags, to find a market for his energies, until the time when he
drove his child into the sea and settled down as a lunatic.

Down by the harbor the people were swarming; everybody who could
creep or crawl was stationed there. The crowd was good-humored, in
spite of the cold and the hard times; the people stamped their feet
and cracked jokes. The town had in a moment shaken off its winter
sleep; the people clambered up on the blocks of stone, or hung
close-packed over the rough timber frames that were to be sunk
in building the breakwater. They craned their necks and started
nervously, as though some one might come up suddenly and hit them
over the head. Jens and Morten were there, too; they stood quite
apart and were speaking to one another. They looked on mournfully,
with shy, harrassed glances, and where the great slip ran obliquely
down to the floor of the basin the workmen stood in crowds; they
hitched up their trousers, for the sake of something to do,
exchanged embarrassed glances, and swore.

But down on the floor of the great basin the "Great Power"
ruled supreme. He was moving about alone, and he seemed to be as
unconscious of his surroundings as a child absorbed in play; he had
some purpose of his own to attend to. But what that was it was not
easy to tell. In one hand he held a bundle of dynamite cartridges;
with the other he was leaning on a heavy iron bar. His movements
were slow and regular, not unlike those of a clumsy bear. When he
stood up, his comrades shouted to him excitedly; they would come
and tear him into little pieces; they would slit his belly so that
he could see his own bowels; they would slash him with their knives
and rub his wounds with vitriol if he didn't at once lay down his
weapons and let them come down to their work.

But the "Great Power" did not deign to answer. Perhaps he never
heard them. When he raised his head his glance swept the distance,
laden with a mysterious burden which was not human. That face,
with its deadly weariness, seemed in its sadness to be turned upon
some distant place whither none could follow him. "He is mad!"
they whispered; "God has taken away his wits!" Then he bent himself
to his task again; he seemed to be placing the cartridges under
the great breakwater which he himself had proposed. He was pulling
cartridges out of every pocket; that was why they had stuck out
from his body curiously.

"What the devil is he going to do now? Blow up the breakwater?"
they asked, and tried to creep along behind the causeway, so as to
come upon him from behind. But he had eyes all round him; at the
slightest movement on their part he was there with his iron bar.

The whole works were at a standstill! Two hundred men stood idle
hour after hour, growling and swearing and threatening death and
the devil, but no one ventured forward. The overseer ran about
irresolutely, and even the engineer had lost his head; everything
was in a state of dissolution. The district judge was walking up
and down in full uniform, with an impenetrable expression of face;
his mere presence had a calming effect, but he did nothing.

Each proposal made was wilder than the last. Some wanted to make
a gigantic screen which might be pushed toward him; others suggested
capturing him with a huge pair of tongs made of long balks of timber;
but no one attempted to carry out these suggestions; they were only
too thankful that he allowed them to stand where they were. The
"Great Power" could throw a dynamite cartridge with such force that
it would explode where it struck and sweep away everything around it.

"The tip-wagons!" cried some one. Here at last was an idea!
The wagons were quickly filled with armed workmen. The catch was
released, but the wagons did not move. The "Great Power" with
his devilish cunning, had been before them; he had spiked the
endless chain so that it could not move. And now he struck away
the under-pinning of a few of the supports, so that the wagons
could not be launched upon him by hand.

This was no delirium; no one had ever yet seen delirium manifest
itself in such a way! And he had touched no spirit since the
day they had carried his daughter home. No; it was the quietest
resolution imaginable; when they got up after the breakfast-hour
and were strolling down to the slip, he stood there with his iron
bar and quietly commanded them to keep away--the harbor belonged
to him! They had received more than one sharp blow before they
understood that he was in earnest; but there was no malice in
him--one could see quite plainly how it hurt him to strike them.
It was certainly the devil riding him--against his own will.

But where was it going to end? They had had enough of it now!
For now the great harbor bell was striking midday, and there was
something derisive in the sound, as though it was jeering at
respectable people who only wanted to resume their work. They
didn't want to waste the whole day; neither did they want to risk
life and limb against the fool's tricks of a lunatic. Even the
mighty Bergendal had left his contempt of death at home to-day,
and was content to grumble like the rest.

"We must knock a hole in the dam," he said, "then the brute may
perish in the waves!"

They immediately picked up their tools, in order to set to work. The
engineer threatened them with the law and the authorities; it would
cost thousands of kroner to empty the harbor again. They would not
listen to him; what use was he if he couldn't contrive for them to
do their work in peace?

They strolled toward the dam, with picks and iron crowbars, in order
to make the breach; the engineer and the police were thrust aside.
Now it was no longer a matter of work; it was a matter of showing
that two hundred men were not going to allow one crazy devil to make
fools of them. Beelzebub had got to be smoked out. Either the "Great
Power" would come up from the floor of the basin, or he would drown.

"You shall have a full day's wages!" cried the engineer, to hold
them back. They did not listen; but when they reached the place of
the intended breach, the "Great Power" was standing at the foot of
the dam, swinging his pick so that the walls of the basin resounded.
He beamed with helpfulness at every blow; he had posted himself at
the spot where the water trickled in, and they saw with horror what
an effect his blows had. It was sheer madness to do what he was
doing there.

"He'll fill the harbor with water, the devil!" they cried, and they
hurled stones at his head. "And such a work as it was to empty it!"

The "Great Power" took cover behind a pile and worked away.

Then there was nothing for it but to shoot him down before he had
attained his object. A charge of shot in the legs, if nothing more,
and he would at least be rendered harmless. The district judge was
at his wits' end; but Wooden-leg Larsen was already on the way home
to fetch his gun. Soon he came stumping back, surrounded by a swarm
of boys.

"I've loaded it with coarse salt!" he cried, so that the judge
might hear.

"Now you'll be shot dead!" they called down to him. In reply, the
"Great Power" struck his pick into the foot of the dam, so that
the trampled clay sighed and the moisture rose underfoot. A long
crackling sound told them that the first plank was shattered.

The final resolve had been formed quite of itself; everybody was
speaking of shooting him down as though the man had been long ago
sentenced, and now everybody was longing for the execution. They
hated the man below there with a secret hatred which needed no
explanation; his defiance and unruliness affected them like a slap
in the face; they would gladly have trampled him underfoot if they
could.

They shouted down insults; they reminded him how in his presumption
he had ruined his family, and driven his daughter to suicide; and
they cast in his face his brutal attack on the rich shipowner Monsen,
the benefactor of the town. For a time they roused themselves from
their apathy in order to take a hand in striking him down. And now
it must be done thoroughly; they must have peace from this fellow,
who couldn't wear his chains quietly, but must make them grate like
the voice of hatred that lay behind poverty and oppression.

The judge leaned out over the quay, in order to read his sentence
over the "Great Power"--three times must it be read, so the man
might have opportunity to repent. He was deathly pale, and at the
second announcement he started convulsively; but the "Great Power"
threw no dynamite cartridges at him; he merely lifted his hand to
his head, as though in greeting, and made a few thrusting motions in
the air with two of his fingers, which stood out from his forehead
like a pair of horns. From where the apothecary stood in a circle
of fine ladies a stifled laugh was heard. All faces were turned to
where the burgomaster's wife stood tall and stately on a block of
stone. But she gazed down unflinchingly at the "Great Power" as
though she had never seen him before.

On the burgomaster the gesture had an effect like that of an
explosion. "Shoot him down!" he roared, with purple face, stumbling
excitedly along the breakwater. "Shoot him down, Larsen!"

But no one heeded his command. All were streaming toward the
wagon-slip, where an old, faded little woman was in the act of
groping her way along the track toward the floor of the basin.
"It's the 'Great Power's' mother!" The word passed from mouth
to mouth. "No! How little and old she is! One can hardly believe
she could have brought such a giant into the world!"

Excitedly they followed her, while she tottered over the broken
stone of the floor of the basin, which was littered with the
_debris_ of explosions until it resembled an ice-floe under
pressure. She made her way but slowly, and it looked continually
as though she must break her legs. But the old lady persevered,
bent and withered though she was, with her shortsighted eyes
fixed on the rocks before her feet.

Then she perceived her son, who stood with his iron bar poised
in his hand. "Throw the stick away, Peter!" she cried sharply,
and mechanically he let the iron rod fall. He gave way before her,
slowly, until she had pinned him in a corner and attempted to seize
him; then he pushed her carefully aside, as though she was something
that inconvenienced him.

A sigh went through the crowd, and crept round the harbor like
a wandering shudder. "He strikes his own mother--he must be mad!"
they repeated, shuddering.

But the old woman was on her legs again. "Do you strike your own
mother, Peter?" she cried, with sheer amazement in her voice, and
reached up after his ear; she could not reach so far; but the "Great
Power" bent down as though something heavy pressed upon him, and
allowed her to seize his ear. Then she drew him away, over stock
and stone, in a slanting path to the slipway, where the people
stood like a wall. And he went, bowed, across the floor of the
basin, like a great beast in the little woman's hands.

Up on the quay the police stood ready to fall upon the "Great Power"
with ropes; but the old woman was like pepper and salt when she saw
their intention. "Get out of the way, or I'll let him loose on you!"
she hissed. "Don't you see he has lost his intellect? Would you
attack a man whom God has smitten?"

"Yes, he is mad!" said the people, in a conciliatory tone; "let
his mother punish him--she is the nearest to him!"



XXI

Now Pelle and the youngest apprentice had to see to everything,
for in November Jens had finished his term and had left at once. He
had not the courage to go to Copenhagen to seek his fortune. So he
rented a room in the poor quarter of the town and settled there with
his young woman. They could not get married; he was only nineteen
years of age. When Pelle had business in the northern portion of the
town he used to look in on them. The table stood between the bed and
the window, and there sat Jens, working on repairs for the poor folk
of the neighborhood. When he had managed to get a job the girl would
stand bending over him, waiting intently until he had finished, so
that she could get something to eat. Then she would come back and
cook something right away at the stove, and Jens would sit there
and watch her with burning eyes until he had more work in hand.
He had grown thin, and sported a sparse pointed beard; a lack of
nourishment was written in both their faces. But they loved one
another, and they helped one another in everything, as awkwardly
as two children who are playing at "father and mother." They had
chosen the most dismal locality; the lane fell steeply to the sea,
and was full of refuse; mangy cats and dogs ran about, dragging
fish-offal up the steps of the houses and leaving it lying there.
Dirty children were grubbing about before every door.

One Sunday morning, when Pelle had run out there to see them, he
heard a shriek from one of the cottages, and the sound of chairs
overturned. Startled, he stood still. "That's only one-eyed Johann
beating his wife," said an eight-year-old girl; "he does that
almost every day."

Before the door, on a chair, sat an old man, staring imperturbably
at a little boy who continually circled round him.

Suddenly the child ran inward, laid his hands on the old man's knee,
and said delightedly: "Father runs round the table--mother runs
round the table--father beats mother--mother runs round the table
and--cries." He imitated the crying, laughed all over his little
idiot's face, and dribbled. "Yes, yes," was all the old man said.
The child had no eyebrows, and the forehead was hollow over the eyes.
Gleefully he ran round and round, stamping and imitating the uproar
within. "Yes, yes," said the old man imperturbably, "yes, yes!"

At the window of one of the cottages sat a woman, gazing out
thoughtfully, her forehead leaning against the sash-bar. Pelle
recognized her; he greeted her cheerfully. She motioned him to the
door. Her bosom was still plump, but there was a shadow over her
face. "Hans!" she cried uncertainly, "here is Pelle, whose doing
it was that we found one another!"

The young workman replied from within the room: "Then he can
clear out, and I don't care if he looks sharp about it!" He spoke
threateningly.

In spite of the mild winter, Master Andres was almost always in bed
now. Pelle had to receive all instructions, and replace the master
as well as he could. There was no making of new boots now--only
repairs. Every moment the master would knock on the wall, in order
to gossip a little.

"To-morrow I shall get up," he would say, and his eyes would shine;
"yes, that I shall, Pelle! Give me sunlight tomorrow, you devil's
imp! This is the turning-point--now nature is turning round in me.
When that's finished I shall be quite well! I can feel how it's
raging in my blood--it's war to the knife now--but the good sap is
conquering! You should see me when the business is well forward--
this is nothing to what it will be! And you won't forget to borrow
the list of the lottery-drawings?"

He would not admit it to himself, but he was sinking. He no longer
cursed the clergy, and one day Jeppe silently went for the pastor.
When he had gone, Master Jeppe knocked on the wall.

"It's really devilish queer," he said, "for suppose there should
be anything in it? And then the pastor is so old, he ought rather
to be thinking of himself." The master lay there and looked
thoughtful; he was staring up at the ceiling. He would lie all day
like that; he did not care about reading now. "Jens was really a
good boy," he would say suddenly. "I could never endure him, but he
really had a good disposition. And do you believe that I shall ever
be a man again?"

"Yes, when once the warm weather comes," said Pelle.

From time to time the crazy Anker would come to ask after Master
Andres. Then the master would knock on the wall. "Let him come in,
then," he said to Pelle. "I find myself so terribly wearisome."
Anker had quite given up the marriage with the king's eldest
daughter, and had now taken matters into his own hands. He was now
working at a clock which would _be_ the "new time" itself, and
which would go in time with the happiness of the people. He brought
the wheels and spring and the whole works with him, and explained
them, while his gray eyes, fixed out-of-doors, wandered from one
object to another. They were never on the thing he was exhibiting.
He, like all the others, had a blind confidence in the young master,
and explained his invention in detail. The clock would be so devised
that it would show the time only when every one in the land had what
he wanted. "Then one can always see and know if anybody is suffering
need--there'll be no excuse then! For the time goes and goes, and
they get nothing to eat; and one day their hour comes, and they go
hungry into the grave." In his temples that everlasting thing was
beating which seemed to Pelle like the knocking of a restless soul
imprisoned there; and his eyes skipped from one object to another
with their vague, indescribable expression.

The master allowed himself to be quite carried away by Anker's talk
as long as it lasted; but as soon as the watchmaker was on the other
side of the door he shook it all off. "It's only the twaddle of a
madman," he said, astonished at himself.

Then Anker repeated his visit, and had something else to show. It
was a cuckoo; every ten-thousandth year it would appear to the hour
and cry "Cuckoo!" The time would not be shown any longer--only the
long, long course of time--which never comes to an end--eternity.
The master looked at Anker bewildered. "Send him away, Pelle!" he
whispered, wiping the sweat from his forehead: "he makes me quite
giddy; he'll turn me crazy with his nonsense!"

Pelle ought really to have spent Christmas at home, but the master
would not let him leave him. "Who will chat with me all that time
and look after everything?" he said. And Pelle himself was not so
set on going; it was no particular pleasure nowadays to go home.
Karna was ill, and Father Lasse had enough to do to keep her in good
spirits. He himself was valiant enough, but it did not escape Pelle
that as time went on he was sinking deeper into difficulties. He had
not paid the latest instalment due, and he had not done well with
the winter stone-breaking, which from year to year had helped him
over the worst. He had not sufficient strength for all that fell
to his lot. But he was plucky. "What does it matter if I'm a few
hundred kroner in arrears when I have improved the property to the
tune of several thousand?" he would say.

Pelle was obliged to admit the truth of that. "Raise a loan,"
he advised.

Lasse did try to do so. Every time he was in the town he went to
the lawyers and the savings-banks. But he could not raise a loan on
the land, as on paper it belonged to the commune, until, in a given
number of years, the whole of the sum to which Lasse had pledged
himself should be paid up. On Shrove Tuesday he was again in town,
and then he had lost his cheerful humor. "Now we know it, we had
better give up at once," he said despondently, "for now Ole Jensen
is haunting the place--you know, he had the farm before me and
hanged himself because he couldn't fulfill his engagements. Karna
saw him last night."

"Nonsense!" said Pelle. "Don't believe such a thing!" But he could
not help believing in it just a little himself.

"You think so? But you see yourself that things are always getting
more difficult for us--and just now, too, when we have improved the
whole property so far, and ought to be enjoying the fruit of our
labor. And Karna can't get well again," he added despondently.

"Well, who knows?--perhaps it's only superstition!" he cried at
last. He had courage for another attempt.

Master Andres was keeping his bed. But he was jolly enough there;
the more quickly he sank, the more boldly he talked. It was quite
wonderful to listen to his big words, and to see him lying there
so wasted, ready to take his departure when the time should come.

At the end of February the winter was so mild that people were
already beginning to look for the first heralds of spring; but then
in one night came the winter from the north, blustering southward on
a mighty ice-floe. Seen from the shore it looked as though all the
vessels in the world had hoisted new white sails, and were on the
way to Bornholm, to pay the island a visit, before they once again
set out, after the winter's rest, on their distant voyages. But
rejoicings over the breaking-up of the ice were brief; in four-and-
twenty hours the island was hemmed in on every side by the ice-pack,
so that there was not a speck of open water to be seen.

And then the snow began. "We really thought it was time to begin
work on the land," said the people; but they could put up with the
cold--there was still time enough. They proceeded to snowball one
another, and set their sledges in order; all through the winter
there had been no toboggan-slide. Soon the snow was up to one's
ankles, and the slide was made. Now it might as well stop snowing.
It might lie a week or two, so that people might enjoy a few proper
sleighing-parties. But the snow continued to flutter down, until it
reached to the knee, and then to the waist; and by the time people
were going to bed it was no longer possible to struggle through it.
And those who did not need to rise before daylight were very near
not getting out of bed at all, for in the night a snowstorm set in,
and by the morning the snow reached to the roofs and covered all
the windows. One could hear the storm raging about the chimneys,
but down below it was warm enough. The apprentices had to go through
the living-room to reach the workshop. The snow was deep there and
had closed all outlets.

"What the devil is it?" said Master Andres, looking at Pelle
in alarm. "Is the world coming to an end?"

Was the world coming to an end? Well, it might have come to an
end already; they could not hear the smallest sound from without,
to tell them whether their fellow-men were living still, or were
already dead. They had to burn lamps all day long; but the coal was
out in the snow, so they must contrive to get to the shed. They all
pushed against the upper half-door of the kitchen, and succeeded in
forcing it so far open that Pelle could just creep through. But once
out there it was impossible to move. He disappeared in the mass of
snow. They must dig a path to the well and the coal-shed; as for
food, they would have to manage as best they could. At noon the sun
came out, and so far the snow melted on the south side of the house
that the upper edge of the window admitted a little daylight. A
faint milky shimmer shone through the snow. But there was no sign
of life outside.

"I believe we shall starve, like the people who go to the North
Pole," said the master, his eyes and mouth quite round with
excitement. His eyes were blazing like lamps; he was deep in
the world's fairy-tale.

During the evening they dug and bored halfway to Baker Jorgen's.
They must at least secure their connection with the baker. Jeppe
went in with a light. "Look out that it doesn't fall on you,"
he said warningly. The light glistened in the snow, and the boys
proceeded to amuse themselves. The young master lay in bed, and
called out at every sound that came to him from outside--so loudly
that his cough was terrible. He could not contain himself for
curiosity. "I'll go and see the robbers' path, too, by God!" he
said, over and over again. Jeppe scolded him, but he took no notice.
He had his way, got into his trousers and fur jacket, and had a
counterpane thrown about him. But he could not stand up, and with
a despairing cry he fell back on the bed.

Pelle watched him until his heart burned within him. He took the
master on his arm, and supported him carefully until they entered
the tunnel. "You are strong; good Lord, you are strong!" The master
held Pelle convulsively, one arm about his neck, while he waved the
other in the air, as defiantly as the strong man in the circus. "Hip,
hip!" He was infected by Pelle's strength. Cautiously he turned
round in the glittering vault; his eyes shone like crystals of ice.
But the fever was raging in his emaciated body. Pelle felt it like
a devouring fire through all his clothes.

Next day the tunnel was driven farther--as far as Baker Jorgen's
steps, and their connection with the outer world was secure. At
Jorgen's great things had happened in the course of the last four-
and-twenty hours. Marie had been so excited by the idea that the end
of the world was perhaps at hand that she had hastily brought the
little Jorgen into it. Old Jorgen was in the seventh heaven; he had
to come over at once and tell them about it. "He's a regular devil,
and he's the very image of me!"

"That I can well believe!" cried Master Andres, and laughed.
"And is Uncle pleased?"

But Jeppe took the announcement very coolly; the condition of his
brother's household did not please him. "Is Soren delighted with
the youngster?" he asked cautiously.

"Soren?" The baker gave vent to a shout of laughter. "He can think
of nothing but the last judgment--he's praying to the dear God!"

Later in the day the noise of shovels was heard. The workmen were
outside; they cleared one of the pavements so that one could just
get by; but the surface of the street was still on a level with
the roofs.

Now one could get down to the harbor once more; it felt almost as
though one were breathing again after a choking-fit. As far as the
eyes could reach the ice extended, packed in high ridges and long
ramparts where the waves had battled. A storm was brewing. "God be
thanked!" said the old seamen, "now the ice will go!" But it did not
move. And then they understood that the whole sea was frozen; there
could not be one open spot as big as a soup-plate on which the storm
could begin its work. But it was a wonderful sight, to see the sea
lying dead and motionless as a rocky desert in the midst of this
devastating storm.

And one day the first farmer came to town, with news of the country.
The farms inland were snowed up; men had to dig pathways into the
open fields, and lead the horses in one by one; but of accidents
he knew nothing.

All activities came to a standstill. No one could do any work, and
everything had to be used sparingly--especially coals and oil, both
of which threatened to give out. The merchants had issued warnings
as early as the beginning of the second week. Then the people began
to take to all sorts of aimless doings; they built wonderful things
with the snow, or wandered over the ice from town to town. And one
day a dozen men made ready to go with the ice-boat to Sweden, to
fetch the post; people could no longer do without news from the
outside world. On Christianso they had hoisted the flag of distress;
provisions were collected in small quantities, here, there, and
everywhere, and preparations were made for sending an expedition
thither.

And then came the famine; it grew out of the frozen earth, and
became the only subject of conversation. But only those who were
well provided for spoke of it; those who suffered from want were
silent. People appealed to organized charity; there was Bjerregrav's
five thousand kroner in the bank. But no, they were not there.
Ship-owner Monsen declared that Bjerregrav had recalled the money
during his lifetime. There was no statement in his will to the
contrary. The people knew nothing positively; but the matter gave
plenty of occasion for discussion. However things might be, Monsen
was the great man, now as always--and he gave a thousand kroner out
of his own pocket for the help of the needy.

Many eyes gazed out over the sea, but the men with the ice-boat
did not come back; the mysterious "over yonder" had swallowed them.
It was as though the world had sunk into the sea; as if, behind the
rugged ice-field which reached to the horizon, there now lay nothing
but the abyss.

The "Saints" were the only people who were busy; they held
overcrowded meetings, and spoke about the end of the world. All else
lay as though dead. Under these conditions, who would worry himself
about the future? In the workshop they sat in caps and overcoats and
froze; the little coal that still remained had to be saved for the
master. Pelle was in his room every moment. The master did not speak
much now; he lay there and tossed to and fro, his eyes gazing up at
the ceiling; but as soon as Pelle had left him he knocked for him
again. "How are things going now?" he would ask wearily. "Run down
to the harbor and see whether the ice isn't near breaking--it is so
very cold; at this rate the whole earth will become a lump of ice.
This evening they will certainly hold another meeting about the last
judgment. Run and hear what they think about it."

Pelle went, and returned with the desired information, but when he
had done so the master had usually forgotten all about the matter.
From time to time Pelle would announce that there seemed to be a
bluish shimmer on the sea, far beyond the ice. Then the master's
eyes would light up. But he was always cast down again by the next
announcement. "The sea will eat up the ice yet--you'll see," said
Master Andres, as though from a great distance. "But perhaps it
cannot digest so much. Then the cold will get the upper hand, and
we shall all be done for!"

But one morning the ice-field drove out seaward, and a hundred men
got ready to clear the channel of ice by means of dynamite. Three
weeks had gone by since any post had been received from the outer
world, and the steamer went out in order to fetch news from Sweden.
It was caught by the ice out in the offing, and driven toward the
south; from the harbor they could see it for days, drifting about
in the ice-pack, now to the north and now to the south.

At last the heavy bonds were broken. But it was difficult alike for
the earth and for mankind to resume the normal activities of life.
Everybody's health had suffered. The young master could not stand
the change from the bitter frost to the thaw; when his cough did not
torment him he lay quite still. "Oh, I suffer so dreadfully, Pelle!"
he complained, whispering. "I have no pain--but I suffer, Pelle."

But then one morning he was in a good humor. "Now I am past the
turning-point," he said, in a weak but cheerful voice; "now you'll
just see how quickly I shall get well. What day is it really to-day?
Thursday? Death and the devil! then I must renew my lottery ticket!
I am so light I was flying through the air all night long, and if
I only shut my eyes I am flying again. That is the force in the new
blood--by summer I shall be quite well. Then I shall go out and see
the world! But one never--deuce take it!--gets to see the best--the
stars and space and all that! So man must learn to fly. But I was
there last night."

Then the cough overpowered him again. Pelle had to lift him up;
at every spasm there was a wet, slapping sound in his chest. He
put one hand on Pelle's shoulder and leaned his forehead against
the boy's body. Suddenly the cough ceased; and the white, bony hand
convulsively clutched Pelle's shoulder. "Pelle, Pelle!" moaned the
master, and he gazed at him, a horrible anxiety in his dying eyes.

"What does he see now?" thought Pelle, shuddering; and he laid him
back on his pillow.



XXII

Often enough did Pelle regret that he had wasted five years as
apprentice. During his apprenticeship he had seen a hundred, nay,
two hundred youths pass into the ranks of the journeymen; and then
they were forthwith turned into the streets, while new apprentices
from the country filled up the ranks again. There they were, and
they had to stand on their own legs. In most cases they had learned
nothing properly; they had only sat earning their master's daily
bread, and now they suddenly had to vindicate their calling. Emil
had gone to the dogs; Peter was a postman and earned a krone a day,
and had to go five miles to do that. When he got home he had to
sit over the knee-strap and waxed-end, and earn the rest of his
livelihood at night. Many forsook their calling altogether. They
had spent the best years of their youth in useless labor.

Jens had done no better than the majority. He sat all day over
repairs, and had become a small employer, but they were positively
starving. The girl had recently had a miscarriage, and they had
nothing to eat. When Pelle went to see them they were usually
sitting still and staring at one another with red eyes; and over
their heads hung the threat of the police, for they were not yet
married. "If I only understood farm work!" said Jens. "Then I'd
go into the country and serve with a farmer."

Despite all his recklessness, Pelle could not help seeing his own
fate in theirs; only his attachment to Master Andres had hindered
him from taking to his heels and beginning something else.

Now everything suddenly came to an end; old Jeppe sold the business,
with apprentices and all. Pelle did not wish to be sold. Now was
his opportunity; now, by a sudden resolve, he might bring this
whole chapter to an end.

"You don't go!" said Jeppe threateningly; "you have still a year
of your apprenticeship before you! I shall give information to the
police about you--and you've learned what that means." But Pelle
went. Afterward they could run to the police as often as they liked.

With a light and cheerful mind he rented an attic on the hill above
the harbor, and removed his possessions thither. He felt as though
he was stretching himself after his years of slavery; he no longer
had any one over him, and he had no responsibilities, and no burdens.
Year by year he had fought against a continual descent. It had by no
means fortified his youthful courage vainly to pit his energies, day
after day, against the decline of the workshop; he was only able to
hold back the tide a little, and as for the rest, he must perforce
sink with the business.

A good share of resignation and a little too much patience with
regard to his eighteen years--this was for the moment his net
profit from the process of going downhill.

Now it all lay at the foot of the hill, and he could stand aside
and draw himself up a little. His conscience was clear, and he felt
a somewhat mitigated delight in his freedom; that was all he had
won. He had no money for traveling, and his clothes were in a sad
case; but that did not trouble him at first. He breathed deeply,
and considered the times. The death of the master had left a great
void within him; he missed that intelligent glance, which had given
him the feeling that he was serving an idea; and the world was a
terribly desolate and God-forsaken place now that this glance no
longer rested on him, half lucid and half unfathomable, and now
that the voice was silent which had always gone to his heart--when
it was angry just as much as when it was infinitely mild or
frolicsome. And where he was used to hear that voice his ear
encountered only solitude.

He did nothing to arouse himself; he was for the present idle. This
or that employer was after him, truly, for they all knew that he
was a quick and reliable worker, and would willingly have taken him
as apprentice, for a krone a week and his food. But Pelle would have
none of them; he felt that his future did not lie in that direction.
Beyond that he knew nothing, but only waited, with a curious apathy,
for something to happen--something, anything. He had been hurried
out of his settled way of life, yet he had no desire to set to
work. From his window he could look out over the harbor, where the
extensive alterations that had been interrupted by the winter were
again in full swing. And the murmur of the work rose up to him; they
were hewing, boring and blasting; the tip-wagons wandered in long
rows up the slipway, threw their contents out on the shore, and
returned. His limbs longed for strenuous work with pick and shovel,
but his thoughts took another direction.

If he walked along the street the industrious townsfolk would turn
to look after him, exchanging remarks which were loud enough to
reach his ear. "There goes Master Jeppe's apprentice, loafing
along," they would tell one another; "young and strong he is, but he
doesn't like work. He'll turn into a loafer if you give him time--
that you can see. Yes, wasn't it he who got a beating at the town
hall, for his brutal behavior? What else can you expect of him?"

So then Pelle kept the house. Now and again he got a little work
from comrades, and poor people of his acquaintance; he did his best
without proper implements, or if he could not manage otherwise he
would go to Jens. Jens had lasts and an anvil. At other times he sat
at the window, freezing, and gazed out over the harbor and the sea.
He saw the ships being rigged and fitted, and with every ship that
went gliding out of the harbor, to disappear below the horizon, it
seemed to him that a last possibility had escaped him; but although
he had such a feeling it did not stir him. He shrank from Morten,
and did not mix with other people. He was ashamed to be so idle
when every one else was working.

As for food, he managed fairly well; he lived on milk and bread,
and needed only a few ore a day. He was able to avoid extreme
hunger. As for firing, it was not to be thought of. Sitting idly
in his room, he enjoyed his repose, apart from a certain feeling
of shame; otherwise he was sunk in apathy.

On sunny mornings he got up early and slipped out of the town. All
day long he would stroll in the great pine-woods or lie on the dunes
by the shore, with the murmur of the sea sounding through his half-
slumber. He ate like a dog whatever he could get that was eatable,
without particularly thinking of what it consisted. The glitter of
the sun on the water, and the poignant scent of the pine-trees, and
the first rising of the sluggish sap which came with spring, made
him dizzy, and filled his brain with half-wild imaginations. The
wild animals were not afraid of him, but only stood for a moment
inhaling his scent; then they would resume their daily life before
his eyes. They had no power to disturb his half-slumber; but if
human beings approached, he would hide himself, with a feeling of
hostility, almost of hatred. He experienced a kind of well-being
out in the country. The thought often occurred to him that he would
give up his dwelling in the town, and creep at night under the
nearest tree.

Only when the darkness hid him did he return to his room. He would
throw himself, fully dressed, on his bed, and lie there until he
fell asleep. As though from a remote distance he could hear his
next-door neighbor, Strom the diver, moving about his room with
tottering steps, and clattering with his cooking utensils close at
hand. The smell of food, mingled with tobacco smoke and the odor of
bedding, which crept through the thin board partition, and hovered,
heavy and suffocating, above his head, became even more overpowering.
His mouth watered. He shut his eyes and forced himself to think
of other things, in order to deaden his hunger. Then a light,
well-known step sounded on the stairs and some one knocked on the
door--it was Morten. "Are you there, Pelle?" he asked. But Pelle
did not move.

Pelle could hear Strom attacking his bread with great bites, and
chewing it with a smacking sound; and suddenly in the intervals of
mastication, another sound was audible; a curious bellowing, which
was interrupted every time the man took a bite; it sounded like a
child eating and crying simultaneously. That another person should
cry melted something in Pelle, and filled him with a feeble sense
of something living; he raised himself on his elbows and listened
to Strom struggling with terror, while cold shudders chased one
another down his back.

People said that Strom lived here because in his youth he had done
something at home. Pelle forgot his own need and listened, rigid
with terror, to this conflict with the powers of evil. Patiently,
through his clenched teeth, in a voice broken by weeping, Strom
attacked the throng of tiny devils with words from the Bible.
"I'll do something to you at last that'll make you tuck your tails
between your legs!" he cried, when he had read a little. There was
a peculiar heaviness about his speech, which seemed charged with
a craving for peace. "Ah!" he cried presently, "you want some more,
you damned rascals, do you? Then what have you got to say to this
--'I, the Lord thy God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the
God of Jacob'"--Strom hurled the words at them, anger crept into his
voice, and suddenly he lost patience. He took the Bible and flung
it on the floor. "Satan take you, then!" he shouted, laying about
him with the furniture.

Pelle lay bathed in sweat, listening to this demoniac struggle; and
it was with a feeling of relief that he heard Strom open the window
and drive the devils out over the roofs. The diver fought the last
part of the battle with a certain humor. He addressed the corner of
the room in a wheedling, flattering tone. "Come, you sweet, pretty
little devil! What a white skin you have--Strom would so like to
stroke you a little! No, you didn't expect that! Are we getting
too clever for you? What? You'd still bite, would you, you devil's
brat? There, don't scowl like that!"--Strom shut the window with
an inward chuckle.

For a while he strolled about amusing himself. "Strom is still man
enough to clear up Hell itself!" he said, delighted.

Pelle heard him go to bed, and he himself fell asleep. But in the
night he awoke; Strom was beating time with his head against the
board partition, while he lay tearfully singing "By the waters of
Babylon!" But halfway through the psalm the diver stopped and stood
up. Pelle heard him groping to and fro across the floor and out on
the landing. Seized with alarm, he sprang out of bed and struck a
light. Outside stood Strom, in the act of throwing a noose over the
rafters. "What do you want here?" he said fiercely. "Can I never
get any peace from you?"

"Why do you want to lay hands on yourself?" asked Pelle quietly.

"There's a woman and a little child sitting there, and she's forever
and forever crying in my ear. I can't stand it any longer!" answered
Strom, knotting his rope.

"Think of the little child, then!" said Pelle firmly, and he tore
down the rope. Strom submitted to be led back into his room, and he
crawled into bed. But Pelle must stay with him; he dared not put out
the light and lie alone in the darkness.

"Is it the devils?" asked Pelle.

"What devils?" Strom knew nothing of any devils. "No, it's remorse,"
he replied. "The child and its mother are continually complaining of
my faithlessness."

But next moment he would spring out of bed and stand there whistling
as though he was coaxing a dog. With a sudden grip he seized
something by the throat, opened the window, and threw it out. "So,
that was it!" he said, relieved; "now there's none of the devil's
brood left!" He reached after the bottle of brandy.

"Leave it alone!" said Pelle, and he took the bottle away from him.
His will increased in strength at the sight of the other's misery.

Strom crept into bed again. He lay there tossing to and fro, and
his teeth chattered. "If I could only have a mouthful!" he said
pleadingly; "what harm can that do me? It's the only thing that
helps me! Why should a man always torment himself and play the
respectable when he can buy peace for his soul so cheaply? Give
me a mouthful!" Pelle passed him the bottle. "You should take one
yourself--it sets a man up! Do you think I can't see that you've
suffered shipwreck, too? The poor man goes aground so easily, he has
so little water under the keel. And who d'you think will help him to
get off again if he's betrayed his own best friend? Take a swallow,
then--it wakes the devil in us and gives us courage to live."

No, Pelle wanted to go to bed.

"Why do you want to go now? Stay here, it is so comfortable. If you
could, tell me about something, something that'll drive that damned
noise out of my ears for a bit! There's a young woman and a little
child, and they're always crying in my ears."

Pelle stayed, and tried to distract the diver. He looked into his
own empty soul, and he could find nothing there; so he told the man
of Father Lasse and of their life at Stone Farm, with everything
mixed up just as it occurred to him. But his memories rose up within
him as he spoke of them, and they gazed at him so mournfully that
they awakened his crippled soul to life. Suddenly he felt utterly
wretched about himself, and he broke down helplessly.

"Now, now!" said Strom, raising his head. "Is it your turn now?
Have you, too, something wicked to repent of, or what is it?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know? That's almost like the women--crying is one of
their pleasures. But Strom doesn't hang his head; he would like
to be at peace with himself, if it weren't for a pair of child's
eyes that look at him so reproachfully, day in and day out, and the
crying of a girl! They're both at home there in Sweden, wringing
their hands for their daily bread. And the one that should provide
for them is away from them here and throws away his earnings in the
beer-houses. But perhaps they're dead now because I've forsaken them.
Look you, that is a real grief; there's no child's talk about that!
But you must take a drink for it."

But Pelle did not hear; he sat there gazing blindly in front of him.
All at once the chair began to sail through air with him; he was
almost fainting with hunger. "Give me just one drink--I've had not
a mouthful of food to-day!" He smiled a shamefaced smile at the
confession.

With one leap, Strom was out of bed. "No, then you shall have
something to eat," he said eagerly, and he fetched some food.
"Did one ever see the like--such a desperate devil! To take brandy
on an empty stomach! Eat now, and then you can drink yourself full
elsewhere! Strom has enough on his conscience without that.... He
can drink his brandy himself! Well, well, then, so you cried from
hunger! It sounded like a child crying to me!"

Pelle often experienced such nights. They enlarged his world in
the direction of the darkness. When he came home late and groped
his way across the landing he always experienced a secret terror
lest he should rub against Strom's lifeless body; and he only
breathed freely when he heard him snoring or ramping round his room.
He liked to look in on him before he went to bed.

Strom was always delighted to see him, and gave him food; but brandy
he would not give him. "It's not for fellows as young as you! You'll
get the taste for it early enough, perhaps."

"You drink, yourself," said Pelle obstinately.

"Yes, I drink to deaden remorse. But that's not necessary
in your case."

"I'm so empty inside," said Pelle. "Really brandy might set me up
a little. I feel as if I weren't human at all, but a dead thing,
a table, for instance."

"You must do something--anything--or you'll become a good-for-
nothing. I've seen so many of our sort go to the dogs; we haven't
enough power of resistance!"

"It's all the same to me what becomes of me!" replied Pelle
drowsily. "I'm sick of the whole thing!"



XXIII

It was Sunday, and Pelle felt a longing for something unaccustomed.
At first he went out to see Jens, but the young couple had had
a dispute and had come to blows. The girl had let the frying-pan
containing the dinner fall into the fire, and Jens had given
her a box on the ears. She was still white and poorly after her
miscarriage. Now they were sitting each in a corner, sulking like
children. They were both penitent, but neither would say the first
word. Pelle succeeded in reconciling them, and they wanted him
to stay for dinner. "We've still got potatoes and salt, and I can
borrow a drop of brandy from a neighbor!" But Pelle went; he could
not watch them hanging on one another's necks, half weeping, and
kissing and babbling, and eternally asking pardon of one another.

So he went out to Due's. They had removed to an old merchant's house
where there was room for Due's horses. They seemed to be getting on
well. It was said that the old consul took an interest in them and
helped them on. Pelle never went into the house, but looked up Due
in the stable, and if he was not at home Pelle would go away again.
Anna did not treat him as though he was welcome. Due himself greeted
him cordially. If he had no rounds to make he used to hang about the
stable and potter round the horses; he did not care about being in
the house. Pelle gave him a hand, cutting chaff for him, or helping
in anything that came to hand, and then they would go into the house
together. Due was at once another man if he had Pelle behind him;
he was more decided in his behavior. Anna was gradually and
increasingly getting the upper hand over him.

She was just as decided as ever, and kept the house in good order.
She no longer had little Marie with her. She dressed her own two
children well, and sent them to a school for young children, and
she paid for their attendance. She was delightful to look at, and
understood how to dress herself, but she would hear nothing good
of any one else. Pelle was not smart enough for her; she turned up
her nose at his every-day clothes, and in order to make him feel
uncomfortable she was always talking about Alfred's engagement to
Merchant Lau's daughter. This was a fine match for him. "_He_
doesn't loaf about and sleep his time away, and sniff at other
people's doors in order to get their plate of food," she said. Pelle
only laughed; nothing made any particular impression on him nowadays.
The children ran about, wearying themselves in their fine clothes
--they must not play with the poor children out-of-doors, and must
not make themselves dirty. "Oh, play with us for a bit, Uncle Pelle!"
they would say, hanging on to him. "Aren't you our uncle too? Mother
says you aren't our uncle. She's always wanting us to call the
consul uncle, but we just run away. His nose is so horribly red."

"Does the consul come to see you, then?" asked Pelle.

"Yes, he often comes--he's here now!"

Pelle peeped into the yard. The pretty wagon had been taken out.
"Father's gone out," said the children. Then he slipped home again.
He stole a scrap of bread and a drop of brandy from Strom, who was
not at home, and threw himself on his bed. As the darkness came on
he strolled out and lounged, freezing, about the street corners.
He had a vague desire to do something. Well-dressed people were
promenading up and down the street, and many of his acquaintances
were there, taking their girls for a walk; he avoided having to
greet them, and to listen to whispered remarks and laughter at
his expense. Lethargic as he was, he still had the acute sense of
hearing that dated from the time of his disgrace at the town hall.
People enjoyed finding something to say when he passed them; their
laughter still had the effect of making his knees begin to jerk
with a nervous movement, like the quickly-suppressed commencement
of a flight.

He slipped into a side-street; he had buttoned his thin jacket
tightly about him, and turned up his collar. In the half-darkness
of the doorways stood young men and girls, in familiar, whispered
conversation. Warmth radiated from the girls, and their bibbed
aprons shone in the darkness. Pelle crept along in the cold, and
knew less than ever what to do with himself; he ranged about to
find a sweetheart for himself.

In the market he met Alfred, arm-in-arm with Lau's daughter. He
carried a smart walking-stick, and wore brown gloves and a tall
hat. "The scamp--he still owes me two and a half kroner, and I shall
never get it out of him!" thought Pelle, and for a moment he felt
a real desire to spring upon him and to roll all his finery in the
mud. Alfred turned his head the other way. "He only knows me when
he wants to do something and has no money!" said Pelle bitterly.

He ran down the street at a jog-trot, in order to keep himself
warm, turning his eyes toward the windows. The bookbinder and
his wife were sitting at home, singing pious songs. The man drank
when at home; that one could see plainly on the blind. At the
wool-merchant's they were having supper.

Farther on, at the Sow's, there was life, as always. A mist of
tobacco smoke and a great deal of noise were escaping through the
open window. The Sow kept a house for idle seamen, and made a great
deal of money. Pelle had often been invited to visit her, but had
always considered himself too good; moreover, he could not bear
Rud. But this evening he seized greedily upon the memory of this
invitation, and went in. Perhaps a mouthful of food would come
his way.

At a round table sat a few tipsy seamen, shouting at one another,
and making a deafening row. The Sow sat on a young fellow's knee;
she lay half over the table and dabbled her fingers in a puddle of
spilt beer; from time to time she shouted right in the face of those
who were making the most noise. The last few years had not reduced
her circumference.

"Now look at that! Is that you, Pelle?" she said, and she stood
up to give him her hand. She was not quite sober, and had some
difficulty in taking his. "That's nice of you to come, now--I really
thought we weren't good enough for you! Now, sit down and have
a drop; it won't cost you anything." She motioned to him to take
a seat.

The sailors were out of humor; they sat staring sleepily at Pelle.
Their heavy heads wagged helplessly. "That's surely a new customer?"
asked one, and the others laughed.

The Sow laughed too, but all at once became serious. "Then you can
leave him out of your games, for he's far too good to be dragged
into anything; one knows what you are!" She sank into a chair next
to Pelle, and sat looking at him, while she rubbed her own greasy
countenance. "How tall and fine you've grown--but you aren't
well-off for clothes! And you don't look to be overfed.... Ah,
I've known you from the time when you and your father came into
the country; a little fellow you were then, and Lasse brought me my
mother's hymn-book!" She was suddenly silent, and her eyes filled
with tears.

One of the sailors whispered to the rest, and they began to laugh.

"Stop laughing, you swine!" she cried angrily, and she crossed over
to them. "You aren't going to play any of your nonsense with him--he
comes like a memory of the times when I was respectable, too. His
father is the only creature living who can prove that I was once a
pretty, innocent little maid, who got into bad company. He's had me
on his lap and sung lullabies to me." She looked about her defiantly,
and her red face quivered.

"Didn't you weigh as much then as you do now?" asked one of the men,
and embraced her.

"Don't play the fool with the little thing!" cried another. "Don't
you see she's crying? Take her on your lap and sing her a lullaby--
then she'll believe you are Lasse-Basse!"

Raging, she snatched up a bottle. "Will you hold your tongue with
your jeering? Or you'll get this on the head!" Her greasy features
seemed to run together in her excitement.

They let her be, and she sat there sobbing, her hands before her
face. "Is your father still alive?" she asked. "Then give him my
respects--just say the Sow sends her respects--you can safely call
me the Sow!--and tell him he's the only person in the world I have
to thank for anything. He thought well of me, and he brought me the
news of mother's death."

Pelle sat there listening with constraint to her tearful speech,
with an empty smile. He had knives in his bowels, he was so empty,
and the beer was going to his head. He remembered all the details
of Stone Farm, where he had first seen and heard the Sow, just as
Father Lasse had recalled her home and her childhood to her. But he
did not connect any further ideas with that meeting; it was a long
time ago, and--"isn't she going to give me anything to eat?" he
thought, and listened unsympathetically to her heavy breathing.

The sailors sat looking at her constrainedly; a solemn silence lay
on their mist-wreathed faces; they were like drunken men standing
about a grave. "Give over washing the decks now--and get us
something to drink!" an old fellow said suddenly. "Each of us knows
what it is to have times of childish innocence come back to him,
and I say it's a jolly fine thing when they will peep through the
door at old devils like us! But let the water stop overboard now,
I say! The more one scours an old barge the more damage comes to
light! So, give us something to drink now, and then the cards,
ma'am!"

She stood up and gave them what they asked for; she had mastered
her emotion, but her legs were still heavy.

"That's right--and then we've got a sort of idea that to-day is
Sunday! Show us your skill, ma'am, quick!"

"But that costs a krone, you know!" she said, laughing.

They collected the money and she went behind the bar and undressed.
She reappeared in her chemise, with a burning candle in her hand....

Pelle slipped out. He was quite dizzy with hunger and a dull feeling
of shame. He strolled on at random, not knowing what he did. He had
only one feeling--that everything in the world was indifferent to
him, whatever happened--whether he went on living in laborious
honesty, or defiled himself with drinking, or perished--it was all
one to him! What was the good of it all? No one cared what happened
to him--not even he himself. Not a human soul would miss him if he
went to the dogs--but yes, there was Lasse, Father Lasse! But as for
going home now and allowing them to see him in all his wretchedness
--when they had expected such unreasonable things of him--no, he
could not do it! The last remnants of shame protested against it.
And to work--what at? His dream was dead. He stood there with a
vague feeling that he had come to the very edge of the abyss, which
is so ominous to those in the depths.

Year in, year out, he had kept himself by his never-flagging
exertions, and with the demented idea that he was mounting upward.
And now he stood very near the lowest depth of life--the very bottom.
And he was so tired. Why not let himself sink yet a little further;
why not let destiny run its course? There would be a seductive
repose in the acts, after his crazy struggle against the superior
powers.

The sound of a hymn aroused him slightly. He had come down a
side-street, and right in front of him stood a wide, lofty building,
with the gable facing the street and a cross on the point of the
gable. Hundreds of voices had sought, in the course of the years,
to entice him hither; but in his arrogance he had had no use for
spiritual things. What was there here for a smart youngster? And now
he was stranded outside! And now he felt a longing for a little care,
and he had a feeling that a hand had led him hither.

The hall was quite filled with poor families. They were packed
amazingly close together on the benches, each family by itself; the
men, as a rule, were asleep, and the women had all they could do to
quiet their children, and to make them sit politely with their legs
sticking out in front of them. These were people who had come to
enjoy a little light and warmth, free of cost, in the midst of their
desolate lives; on Sundays, at least, they thought, they could ask
for a little of these things. They were the very poorest of the poor,
and they sought refuge here, where they would not be persecuted, and
where they were promised their part in the millennium. Pelle knew
them all, both those whom he had seen before and those others, who
wore the same expression, as of people drowned in the ocean of life.
He soon found himself cozily settled among all these dishevelled
nestlings, whom the pitiless wind had driven oversea, and who were
now washed ashore by the waves.

A tall man with a full beard and a pair of good child-like eyes
stood up among the benches, beating the time of a hymn--he was Dam,
the smith. He led the singing, and as he stood there he bent his
knees in time, and they all sang with him, with tremulous voices,
each in his own key, of that which had passed over them. The notes
forced their way through the parched, worn throats, cowering, as
though afraid, now that they had flown into the light. Hesitatingly
they unfurled their fragile, gauzy wings, and floated out into the
room, up from the quivering lips. And under the roof they met with
their hundreds of sisters, and their defilement fell from them. They
became a jubilation, loud and splendid, over some unknown treasure,
over the kingdom of happiness, that was close at hand. To Pelle
it seemed that the air must be full of butterflies winged with
sunshine:

  "O blessed, blessed shall we be
  When we, from care and mis'ry free,
  The splendor of Thy kingdom see,
  And with our Saviour come to Thee!"

"Mother, I'm hungry!" said a child's voice, as the hymn was followed
by silence. The mother, herself emaciated, silenced the child with a
shocked expression, and looked wonderingly about her. What a stupid
idea of the child's! "You've just had your food!" she said loudly,
as though she had been comfortably off. But the child went on
crying: "Mother, I'm so hungry!"

Then Baker Jorgen's Soren came by, and gave the child a roll. He had
a whole basket full of bread. "Are there any more children who are
hungry?" he asked aloud. He looked easily in people's faces, and was
quite another creature to what he was at home; here no one laughed
at him, and no one whispered that he was the brother of his own son.

An old white-bearded man mounted the pulpit at the back of the
hall. "That's him," was whispered in every direction, and they
all hastened to clear their throats by coughing, and to induce
the children to empty their mouths of food. He took the cry of
the little one as his text: "Mother, I am so hungry!" That was the
voice of the world--that great, terrible cry--put into the mouth of
a child. He saw no one there who had not writhed at the sound of
that cry on the lips of his own flesh and blood--no one who, lest
he should hear it again, had not sought to secure bread during his
lifetime--no one who had not been beaten back. But they did not see
God's hand when that hand, in its loving-kindness, changed that mere
hunger for bread into a hunger for happiness. They were the poor,
and the poor are God's chosen people. For that reason they must
wander in the desert, and must blindly ask: "Where is the Promised
Land?" But the gleam of which the faithful followed was not earthly
happiness! God himself led them to and fro until their hunger was
purged and became the true hunger--the hunger of the soul for
eternal happiness!

They did not understand much of what he said; but his words set free
something within them, so that they engaged in lively conversation
over everyday things. But suddenly the buzz of conversation was
silenced; a little hunchbacked man had clambered up on a bench and
was looking them over with glittering eyes. This was Sort, the
traveling shoemaker from the outer suburb.

"We want to be glad and merry," he said, assuming a droll
expression; "God's children are always glad, however much evil they
have to fight against, and they can meet with no misfortune--God is
Joy!" He began to laugh, as boisterously as a child, and they all
laughed with him; one infected the next. They could not control
themselves; it was as though an immense merriment had overwhelmed
them all. The little children looked at the grown-ups and laughed,
till their little throats began to cough with laughing. "He's a
proper clown!" said the men to their wives, their own faces broad
with laughter, "but he's got a good heart!"

On the bench next to Pelle sat a silent family, a man and wife and
three children, who breathed politely through their raw little noses.
The parents were little people, and there was a kind of inward
deftness about them, as though they were continually striving to
make themselves yet smaller. Pelle knew them a little, and entered
into conversation with them. The man was a clay-worker, and they
lived in one of the miserable huts near the "Great Power's" home.

"Yes, that is true--that about happiness," said the wife. "Once we
too used to dream of getting on in the world a little, so that we
might be sure of our livelihood; and we scraped a little money
together, that some good people lent us, and we set up in a little
shop, and I kept it while father went to work. But it wouldn't
answer; no one supported us, and we got poorer goods because we were
poor, and who cares about dealing with very poor people? We had to
give it up, and we were deeply in debt, and we're still having to
pay it off--fifty ore every week, and there we shall be as long
as we live, for the interest is always mounting up. But we are
honorable people, thank God!" she concluded. The man took no part
in the conversation.

Her last remark was perhaps evoked by a man who had quietly entered
the hall, and was now crouching on a bench in the background; for
he was not an honorable man. He had lived on a convict's bread and
water; he was "Thieving Jacob," who about ten years earlier had
smashed in the window of Master Jeppe's best room and had stolen
a pair of patent-leather shoes for his wife. He had heard of a rich
man who had given his betrothed such a pair of shoes, and he wanted
to see what it was like, just for once, to give a really fine
present--a present worth as much as one would earn in two weeks.
This he had explained before the court. "Numbskull!" said Jeppe
always, when the conversation touched upon Jacob; "for such a
miserable louse suddenly to get a swollen head, to want to make big
presents! And if it had been for his young woman even--but for his
wife! No, he paid the penalty to the very last day--in spite of
Andres."

Yes, he certainly had to pay the penalty! Even here no one would sit
next to him! Pelle looked at him and wondered that his own offence
should be so little regarded. The remembrance of it now only lay in
people's eyes when they spoke to him. But at this moment Smith Dam
went and sat next to Thieving Jacob, and they sat hand-in-hand and
whispered.

And over yonder sat some one who nodded to Pelle--in such a friendly
manner; it was the woman of the dancing-shoes; her young man had
left her, and now she was stranded here--her dancing days were
over. Yet she was grateful to Pelle; the sight of him had recalled
delightful memories; one could see that by the expression of her
eyes and mouth.

Pelle's own temper was softened as he sat there. Something melted
within him; a quiet and humble feeling of happiness came over him.
There was still one human being who believed herself in Pelle's
debt, although everything had gone wrong for her.

As the meeting was breaking up, at half-past nine, she was standing
in the street, in conversation with another woman. She came up to
Pelle, giving him her hand. "Shall we walk a little way together?"
she asked him. She evidently knew of his circumstances; he read
compassion in her glance. "Come with me," she said, as their ways
parted. "I have a scrap of sausage that's got to be eaten. And we
are both of us lonely."

Hesitatingly he went with her, a little hostile, for the occasion
was new and unfamiliar. But once he was seated in her little room
he felt thoroughly at ease. Her white, dainty bed stood against
the wall. She went to and fro about the room, cooking the sausage
at the stove, while she opened her heart to him, unabashed.

It isn't everybody would take things so easily! thought Pelle,
and he watched her moving figure quite happily.

They had a cheerful meal, and Pelle wanted to embrace her in his
gratitude, but she pushed his hands away. "You can keep that for
another time!" she said, laughing. "I'm a poor old widow, and you
are nothing but a child. If you want to give me pleasure, why, just
settle down and come to yourself again. It isn't right that you
should be just loafing about and idling, and you so young and such
a nice boy. And now go home, for I must get up early to-morrow and
go to my work."

Pelle visited her almost every evening. She had a disagreeable habit
of shaking him out of his slumber, but her simple and unchanging
manner of accepting and enduring everything was invigorating. Now
and again she found a little work for him, and was always delighted
when she could share her poor meal with him. "Any one like myself
feels a need of seeing a man-body at the table-end once in a while,"
she said. "But hands off--you don't owe me anything!"

She criticized his clothes. "They'll all fall off your body soon--
why don't you put on something else and let me see to them?"

"I have nothing but these," said Pelle, ashamed.

On Saturday evening he had to take off his rags, and creep, mother-
naked, into her bed. She would take no refusal, and she took shirt
and all, and put them into a bucket of water. It took her half
the night to clean everything. Pelle lay in bed watching her, the
coverlet up to his chin. He felt very strange. As for her, she hung
the whole wash to dry over the stove, and made herself a bed on a
couple of chairs. When he woke up in the middle of the morning she
was sitting by the window mending his clothes.

"But what sort of a night did you have?" asked Pelle, a trifle
concerned.

"Excellent! Do you know what I've thought of this morning? You ought
to give up your room and stay here until you are on your feet again
--you've had a good rest--for once," she smiled teasingly. "That
room is an unnecessary expense. As you see, there's room here for
two."

But Pelle would not agree. He would not hear of being supported
by a woman. "Then people will believe that there's something wrong
between us--and make a scandal of it," he said.

"Let them then!" she answered, with her gay laugh. "If I've a good
conscience it's indifferent to me what others think." While she was
talking she was working diligently at his linen, and she threw one
article after another at his head. Then she ironed his suit. "Now
you're quite a swell again!" she said, when he stood up dressed once
more, and she looked at him affectionately. "It's as though you had
become a new creature. If I were only ten or fifteen years younger
I'd be glad to go down the street on your arm. But you shall give me
a kiss--I've put you to rights again, as if you were my own child."
She kissed him heartily and turned about to the stove.

"And now I've got no better advice than that we have some cold
dinner together and then go our ways," she said, with her back still
turned. "All my firing has been used overnight to dry your things,
and you can't stay here in the cold. I think I can pay a visit
somewhere or other, and so the day will pass; and you can find
some corner to put yourself in.'

"It's all the same to me where I am," said Pelle indifferently.

She looked at him with a peculiar smile. "Are you really always
going to be a loafer?" she said. "You men are extraordinary
creatures! If anything at all goes wrong with you, you must start
drinking right away, or plunge yourself into unhappiness in some
other way--you are no better than babies! We must work quietly on,
however things go with us!" She stood there hesitating in her hat
and cloak. "Here's five-and-twenty ore," she said; "that's just
for a cup of coffee to warm you!"

Pelle would not accept it. "What do I want with your money?" he
said. "Keep it yourself!"

"Take it, do! I know it's only a little, but I have no more,
and there's no need for us to be ashamed of being helped by one
another." She put the coin in his jacket pocket and hurried off.

Pelle strolled out to the woods. He did not feel inclined to go
home, to resume the aimless battle with Strom. He wandered along
the deserted paths, and experienced a feeble sense of well-being
when he noticed that the spring was really coming. The snow was
still lying beneath the old moss-gray pinetrees, but the toadstools
were already thrusting their heads up through the pine-needles, and
one had a feeling, when walking over the ground, as though one trod
upon rising dough.

He found himself pondering over his own affairs, and all of a sudden
he awoke out of his half-slumber. Something had just occurred to
him, something cozy and intimate--why, yes, it was the thought that
he might go to Marie and set up for himself, like Jens and his girl.
He could get hold of a few lasts and sit at home and work ... he
could scrape along for a bit, until better times came. She earned
something too, and she was generous.

But when he thought over the matter seriously it assumed a less
pleasant aspect. He had already sufficiently abused her poverty and
her goodness of heart. He had taken her last scrap of firing, so
that she was now forced to go out in order to get a little warmth
and some supper. The idea oppressed him. Now that his eyes were
opened he could not escape this feeling of shame. It went home and
to bed with him, and behind all her goodness he felt her contempt
for him, because he did not overcome his misery by means of work,
like a respectable fellow.

On the following morning he was up early, and applied for work down
at the harbor. He did not see the necessity of work in the abstract,
but he would not be indebted to a woman. On Sunday evening he would
repay her outlay over him and his clothes.



XXIV

Pelle stood on the floor of the basin, loading broken stone into the
tip-wagons. When a wagon was full he and his comrade pushed it up to
the head of the track, and came gliding back hanging to the empty
wagons. Now and again the others let fall their tools, and looked
across to where he stood; he was really working well for a cobbler!
And he had a fine grip when it came to lifting the stone. When he
had to load a great mass of rock into the wagon, he would lift it
first to his knee, then he would let out an oath and put his whole
body into it; he would wipe the sweat from his forehead and take a
dram of brandy or a drop of beer. He was as good as any of the other
men!

He did not bother himself with ideas; two and two might make five
for all he cared; work and fatigue were enough for him. Hard work
had made his body supple and filled him with a sense of sheer animal
well-being. "Will my beer last out the afternoon to-day?" he would
wonder; beyond that nothing mattered. The future did not exist, nor
yet the painful feeling that it did not exist; there was no remorse
in him for what he had lost, or what he had neglected; hard work
swallowed up everything else. There was only this stone that had to
be removed--and then the next! This wagon which had to be filled--
and then the next! If the stone would not move at the first heave
he clenched his teeth; he was as though possessed by his work. "He's
still fresh to harness," said the others; "he'll soon knock his
horns off!" But Pelle wanted to show his strength; that was his only
ambition. His mate let him work away in peace and did not fatigue
himself. From time to time he praised Pelle, in order to keep his
steam up.

This work down at the harbor was the hardest and lowest kind
of labor; any one could get taken on for it without previous
qualifications. Most of Pelle's comrades were men who had done with
the world, who now let themselves go as the stream carried them,
and he felt at ease among them. He stood on the solid ground, and
no words had power to call the dead past to life; it had power to
haunt only an empty brain. An iron curtain hung before the future;
happiness lay here to his hand; the day's fatigue could straightway
be banished by joyous drinking.

His free time he spent with his companions. They led an unsettled,
roving life; the rumor that extensive works were to be carried out
had enticed them hither. Most were unmarried; a few had wives and
children somewhere, but held their tongues about them, or no longer
remembered their existence, unless reminded by something outside
themselves. They had no proper lodgings, but slept in Carrier
Koller's forsaken barn, which was close to the harbor. They never
undressed, but slept in the straw, and washed in a bucket of water
that was seldom changed; their usual diet consisted of stale bread,
and eggs, which they grilled over a fire made between two stones.

The life pleased Pelle, and he liked the society. On Sundays they
ate and drank alternately, all day long, and lay in the smoke-filled
barn; burrowing deep into the straw, they told stories, tragic
stories of youngest sons who seized an axe and killed their father
and mother, and all their brothers and sisters, because they thought
they were being cheated of their share of their inheritance! Of
children who attended confirmation class, and gave way to love, and
had children themselves, and were beheaded for what they did! And of
wives who did not wish to bring into the world the children it was
their duty to bear, and whose wombs were closed as punishment!

Since Pelle had begun to work here he had never been out to see
Marie Nielsen. "She's making a fool of you," said the others, to
whom he had spoken of Marie; "she's playing the respectable so that
you shall bite. Women have always got second thoughts--it's safest
to be on the lookout. They and these young widows would rather take
two than one--they're the worst of all. A man must be a sturdy devil
to be able to stand up against them."

But Pelle was a man, and would allow no woman to lead him by the
nose. Either you were good friends and no fuss about it, or nothing.
He'd tell her that on Saturday, and throw ten kroner on the table--
then they would sure enough be quits! And if she made difficulties
she'd get one over the mouth! He could not forgive her for using all
her firing, and having to pass Sunday in the street; the remembrance
would not leave him, and it burned like an angry spark. She wanted
to make herself out a martyr.

One day, about noon, Pelle was standing among the miners on the
floor of the basin; Emil and he had just come from the shed, where
they had swallowed a few mouthfuls of dinner. They had given up
their midday sleep in order to witness the firing of a big blast
during the midday pause when the harbor would be empty. The whole
space was cleared, and the people in the adjacent houses had opened
their windows so that they should not be shattered by the force of
the explosion.

The fuse was lit, and the men took shelter behind the caissons, and
stood there chatting while they waited for the explosion. The "Great
Power" was there too. He was always in the neighborhood; he would
stand and stare at the workers with his apathetic expression,
without taking part in anything. They took no notice of him, but let
him move about as he pleased. "Take better cover, Pelle," said Emil;
"it's going off directly!"

"Where are Olsen and Strom?" said some one suddenly. The men looked
at one another bewildered.

"They'll be taking their midday sleep," said Emil. "They've been
drinking something chronic this morning."

"Where are they sleeping?" roared the foreman, and he sprang from
his cover. They all had a foreboding, but no one wanted to say. It
flashed across them that they must do something. But no one stirred.
"Lord Jesus!" said Bergendal, and he struck his fist against the
stone wall. "Lord Jesus!"

The "Great Power" sprang from his shelter and ran along the side of
the basin, taking long leaps from one mass of rock to the next, his
mighty wooden shoes clattering as he went. "He's going to tear the
fuse away!" cried Bergendal. "He'll never reach it--it must be burnt
in!" There was a sound as of a cry of distress, far above the heads
of those who heard it. They breathlessly followed the movements of
the "Great Power"; they had come completely out of shelter. In Pelle
an irrational impulse sprang into being. He made a leap forward,
but was seized by the scruff of the neck. "One is enough," said
Bergendal, and he threw him back.

Now the "Great Power" had reached the goal. His hand was stretched
out to seize the fuse. Suddenly he was hurled away from the fuse,
as though by an invisible hand, and was swept upward and backward
through the air, gently, like a human balloon, and fell on his back.
Then the roar of the explosion drowned everything.

When the last fragments had fallen the men ran forward. The "Great
Power" lay stretched upon his back, looking quietly up at the sky.
The corners of his mouth were a little bloody and the blood trickled
from a hole behind the ear. The two drunken men were scathless. They
rose to their feet, bewildered, a few paces beyond the site of the
explosion. The "Great Power" was borne into the shed, and while the
doctor was sent for Emil tore a strip from his blouse, and soaked it
in brandy, and laid it behind the ear.

The "Great Power" opened his eyes and looked about him. His glance
was so intelligent that every one knew that he had not long to live.

"It smells of brandy here," he said. "Who will stand me a drop?"
Emil reached him the bottle, and he emptied it. "It tastes good,"
he said easily. "Now I haven't touched brandy for I don't know how
long, but what was the good? The poor man must drink brandy, or he's
good for nothing; it is no joke being a poor man! There is no other
salvation for him; that you have seen by Strom and Olsen--drunken
men never come to any harm. Have they come to any harm?" He tried
to raise his head. Strom stepped forward. "Here we are," he said,
his voice stifled with emotion. "But I'd give a good dead to have
had us both blown to hell instead of this happening. None of us
has wished you any good!" He held out his hand.

But the "Great Power" could not raise his; he lay there, staring up
through the holes in the thatched roof. "It has been hard enough,
certainly, to belong to the poor," he said, "and it's a good thing
it's all over. But you owe me no thanks. Why should I leave you in
the lurch and take everything for myself--would that be like the
'Great Power'? Of course, the plan was mine! But could I have
carried it out alone? No, money does everything. You've fairly
deserved it! The 'Great Power' doesn't want to have more than any
one else--where we have all done an equal amount of work." He raised
his hand, painfully, and made a magnanimous gesture.

"There--he believes he's the engineer of the harbor works!" said
Strom. "He's wandering. Wouldn't a cold application do him good?"
Emil took the bucket in order to fetch fresh water. The "Great Power"
lay with closed eyes and a faint smile on his face; he was like a
blind man who is listening. "Do you understand," he said, without
opening his eyes, "how we have labored and labored, and yet have
been barely able to earn our daily bread? The big people sat there
and ate up everything that we could produce; when we laid down our
tools and wanted to still our hunger there was nothing. They stole
our thoughts, and if we had a pretty sweetheart or a young daughter
they could do with her too--they didn't disdain our cripple even.
But now that's done with, and we will rejoice that we have lived
to see it; it might have gone on for a long time. Mother wouldn't
believe what I told her at all--that the bad days would soon be over.
But now just see! Don't I get just as much for my work as the doctor
for his? Can't I keep my wife and daughter neat and have books
and get myself a piano, just as he can? Isn't it a great thing to
perform manual labor too? Karen has piano lessons now, just as I've
always wished, for she's weakly and can't stand any hard work. You
should just come home with me and hear her play--she does it so
easily too! Poor people's children have talent too, it's just that
no one notices it."

"God, how he talks!" said Strom, crying. "It's almost as if he had
the delirium."

Pelle bent down over the "Great Power." "Now you must be good and be
quiet," he said, and laid something wet on his forehead. The blood
was trickling rapidly from behind his ear.

"Let him talk," said Olsen. "He hasn't spoken a word for months now;
he must feel the need to clear his mind this once. It'll be long
before he speaks again, too!"

Now the "Great Power" was only weakly moving his lips. His life was
slowly bleeding away. "Have you got wet, little Karen?" he murmured.
"Ah, well, it'll dry again! And now it's all well with you, now
you can't complain. Is it fine to be a young lady? Only tell me
everything you want. Why be modest? We've been that long enough!
Gloves for the work-worn fingers, yes, yes. But you must play
something for me too. Play that lovely song: 'On the joyful journey
through the lands of earth....' That about the Eternal Kingdom!"

Gently he began to hum it; he could no longer keep time by moving
his head, but he blinked his eyes in time; and now his humming broke
out into words.

Something irresistibly impelled the others to sing in concert with
him; perhaps the fact that it was a religious song. Pelle led them
with his clear young voice; and it was he who best knew the words
by heart.

  "Fair, fair is earth,
  And glorious Heaven;
  Fair is the spirit's journey long;
  Through all the lovely earthly kingdoms,
  Go we to Paradise with song."

The "Great Power" sang with increasing strength, as though he would
outsing Pelle. One of his feet was moving now, beating the time of
the song. He lay with closed eyes, blindly rocking his head in time
with the voices, like one who, at a drunken orgy, must put in his
last word before he slips under the table. The saliva was running
from the corners of his mouth.

  "The years they come,
  The years they go
  And down the road to death we throng,
  But ever sound the strains from heaven--
  The spirit's joyful pilgrim song!"

The "Great Power" ceased; his head drooped to one side, and at the
same moment the others ceased to sing.

They sat in the straw and gazed at him--his last words still rang
in their ears, like a crazy dream, which mingled oddly with the
victorious notes of the hymn.

They were all sensible of the silent accusation of the dead, and in
the solemnity of the moment they judged and condemned themselves.

"Yes, who knows what we might come to!" said one ragged fellow,
thoughtfully chewing a length of straw.

"I shall never do any good," said Emil dejectedly. "With me it's
always been from bad to worse. I was apprenticed, and when I became
a journeyman they gave me the sack; I had wasted five years of my
life and couldn't do a thing. Pelle--he'll get on all right."

Astonished, Pelle raised his head and gazed at Emil
uncomprehendingly.

"What use is it if a poor devil tries to make his way up? He'll
always be pushed down again!" said Olsen. "Just look at the 'Great
Power'; could any one have had a better claim than he? No, the big
folks don't allow us others to make our way up!"

"And have we allowed it ourselves?" muttered Strom. "We are always
uneasy if one of our own people wants to fly over our heads!"

"I don't understand why all the poor folk don't make a stand
together against the others," said Bergendal. "We suffer the same
wrongs. If we all acted together, and had nothing to do with them
that mean us harm, for instance, then it would soon be seen that
collective poverty is what makes the wealth of the others. And
I've heard that that's what they're doing elsewhere."

"But we shall never in this life be unanimous about anything
whatever," said an old stonemason sadly. "If one of the gentlemen
only scratches our neck a bit, then we all grovel at his feet, and
let ourselves be set on to one of our own chaps. If we were all
like the 'Great Power,' then things might have turned out
different."

They were silent again; they sat there and gazed at the dead man;
there was something apologetic in the bearing of each and all.

"Yes, that comes late!" said Strom, with a sigh. Then he felt in
the straw and pulled out a bottle.

Some of the men still sat there, trying to put into words something
that ought perhaps to be said; but then came the doctor, and they
drew in their horns. They picked up their beer-cans and went out to
their work.

Silently Pelle gathered his possessions together and went to the
foreman. He asked for his wages.

"That's sudden," said the foreman. "You were getting on so well
just now. What do you want to do now?"

"I just want my wages," rejoined Pelle. What more he wanted, he
himself did not know. And then he went home and put his room in
order. It was like a pigsty; he could not understand how he could
have endured such untidiness. In the meantime he thought listlessly
of some way of escape. It had been very convenient to belong to the
dregs of society, and to know that he could not sink any deeper; but
perhaps there were still other possibilities. Emil had said a stupid
thing--what did he mean by it? "Pelle, he'll get on all right!"
Well, what did Emil know of the misery of others? He had enough
of his own.

He went down into the street in order to buy a little milk; then
he would go back and sleep. He felt a longing to deaden all the
thoughts that once more began to seethe in his head.

Down in the street he ran into the arms of Sort, the wandering
shoemaker. "Now we've got you!" cried Sort. "I was just coming here
and wondering how best I could get to speak with you. I wanted to
tell you that I begin my travelling to-morrow. Will you come with
me? It is a splendid life, to be making the round of the farms now
in the spring-time; and you'll go to the dogs if you stay here. Now
you know all about it and you can decide. I start at six o'clock!
I can't put it off any later!"

Sort had observed Pelle that evening at the prayer-meeting, and on
several occasions had spoken to him in the hope of arousing him. "He
can put off his travels for a fortnight as far as I'm concerned!"
thought Pelle, with a touch of self-esteem. He wouldn't go! To go
begging for work from farm to farm! Pelle had learned his craft in
the workshop, and looked down with contempt upon the travelling
cobbler, who lives from hand to mouth and goes from place to place
like a beggar, working with leather and waxed-ends provided on the
spot, and eating out of the same bowl as the farm servants. So much
pride of craft was still left in Pelle. Since his apprentice days,
he had been accustomed to regard Sort as a pitiful survival from
the past, a species properly belonging to the days of serfdom.

"You'll go to the dogs!" Sort had said. And all Marie Melsen's
covert allusions had meant the same thing. But what then? Perhaps he
had already gone to the dogs! Suppose there was no other escape than
this! But now he would sleep, and think no more of all these things.

He drank his bottle of milk and ate some bread with it, and went
to bed. He heard the church clock striking--it was midnight, and
glorious weather. But Pelle wanted to sleep--only to sleep! His
heart was like lead.

He awoke early next morning and was out of bed with one leap. The
sun filled his room, and he himself was filled with a sense of
health and well-being. Quickly he slipped into his clothes--there
was still so much that he wanted to do! He threw up the window, and
drank in the spring morning in a breath that filled his body with
a sense of profound joy. Out at sea the boats were approaching the
harbor; the morning sun fell on the slack sails, and made them glow;
every boat was laboring heavily forward with the aid of its tiller.
He had slept like a stone, from the moment of lying down until now.
Sleep lay like a gulf between yesterday and to-day. Whistling a tune
to himself, he packed his belongings and set out upon his way, a
little bundle under his arm. He took the direction of the church, in
order to see the time. It was still not much past five. Then he made
for the outermost suburb with vigorous steps, as joyful as though he
were treading the road to happiness.



XXV

Two men appeared from the wood and crossed the highroad. One was
little and hump-backed; he had a shoemaker's bench strapped tightly
on his back; the edge rested on his hump, and a little pillow was
thrust between, so that the bench should not chafe him. The other
was young and strongly built; a little thin, but healthy and fresh-
colored. He carried a great bundle of lasts on his back, which were
held in equilibrium by another box, which he carried on his chest,
and which, to judge by the sounds that proceeded from it, contained
tools. At the edge of the ditch he threw down his burden and
unstrapped the bench from the hunchback. They threw themselves
down in the grass and gazed up into the blue sky. It was a glorious
morning; the birds twittered and flew busily to and fro, and the
cattle were feeding in the dewy clover, leaving long streaks behind
them as they moved.

"And in spite of that, you are always happy?" said Pelle. Sort had
been telling him the sad story of his childhood.

"Yes, look you, it often vexes me that I take everything so easily--
but what if I can't find anything to be sad about? If I once go into
the matter thoroughly, I always hit on something or other that makes
me still happier--as, for instance, your society. You are young, and
health beams out of your eyes. The girls become so friendly wherever
we go, and it's as though I myself were the cause of their pleasure!"

"Where do you really get your knowledge of everything?" asked Pelle.

"Do you find that I know so much?" Sort laughed gaily. "I go about
so much, and I see so many different households, some where man and
wife are as one, and others where they live like cat and dog. I come
into contact with people of every kind. And I get to know a lot, too,
because I'm not like other men--more than one maiden has confided
her miseries to me. And then in winter, when I sit alone, I think
over everything--and the Bible is a good book, a book a man can draw
wisdom from. There a man learns to look behind things; and if you
once realize that everything has its other side, then you learn to
use your understanding. You can go behind everything if you want to,
and they all lead in the same direction--to God. And they all came
from Him. He is the connection, do you see; and once a man grasps
that, then he is always happy. It would be splendid to follow things
up further--right up to where they divide, and then to show, in
spite of all, that they finally run together in God again! But that
I'm not able to do."

"We ought to see about getting on." Pelle yawned, and he began
to bestir himself.

"Why? We're so comfortable here--and we've already done what we
undertook to do. What if there should be a pair of boots yonder
which Sort and Pelle won't get to sole before they're done with?
Some one else will get the job!"

Pelle threw himself on his back and again pulled his cap over his
eyes--he was in no hurry. He had now been travelling nearly a month
with Sort, and had spent almost as much time on the road as sitting
at his work. Sort could never rest when he had been a few days in
one place; he must go on again! He loved the edge of the wood and
the edge of the meadow, and could spend half the day there. And
Pelle had many points of contact with this leisurely life in the
open air; he had his whole childhood to draw upon. He could lie
for hours, chewing a grass-stem, patient as a convalescent, while
sun and air did their work upon him.

"Why do you never preach to me?" he said suddenly, and he peeped
mischievously from tinder his cap.

"Why should I preach to you? Because I am religious? Well, so are
you; every one who rejoices and is content is religious."

"But I'm not at all content!" retorted Pelle, and he rolled on his
back with all four limbs in the air. "But you--I don't understand
why you don't get a congregation; you've got such a power over
language."

"Yes, if I were built as you are--fast enough. But I'm humpbacked!"

"What does that matter? You don't want to run after the women!"

"No, but one can't get on without them; they bring the men and the
children after them. And it's really queer that they should--for
women don't bother themselves about God! They haven't the faculty of
going behind things. They choose only according to the outside--they
want to hang everything on their bodies as finery--and the men too,
yes, and the dear God best of all--they've got a use for the lot!"

Pelle lay still for a time, revolving his scattered experiences.
"But Marie Nielsen wasn't like that," he said thoughtfully. "She'd
willingly give the shirt off her body and ask nothing for herself.
I've behaved badly to her--I didn't even say goodbye before I came
away!"

"Then you must look her up when we come to town and confess your
fault. There was no lovemaking between you?"

"She treated me like a child; I've told you."

Sort was silent a while.

"If you would help me, we'd soon get a congregation! I can see it
in your eyes, that you've got influence over them, if you only cared
about it; for instance, the girl at Willow Farm. Thousands would
come to us."

Pelle did not answer. His thoughts were roaming back wonderingly
to Willow Farm, where Sort and he had last been working; he was once
more in that cold, damp room with the over-large bed, on which the
pale girl's face was almost invisible. She lay there encircling her
thick braids with her transparent hand, and gazed at him; and the
door was gently closed behind him. "That was really a queer fancy,"
he said, and he breathed deeply; "some one she'd never laid eyes on
before; I could cry now when I think of it."

"The old folks had told her we were there, and asked if she wouldn't
like me to read something from God's word with her. But she'd rather
see you. The father was angry and didn't want to allow it. 'She has
never thought about young men before,' he said, 'and she shall stand
before the throne of God and the Lamb quite pure.' But I said, 'Do
you know so precisely that the good God cares anything for what you
call purity, Ole Jensen? Let the two of them come together, if they
can take any joy in it.' Then we shut the door behind you--and how
was it then?" Sort turned toward Pelle.

"You know," replied Pelle crossly. "She just lay there and looked at
me as though she was thinking: 'That's what he looks like--and he's
come a long way here.' I could see by her eyes that you had spoken
of me and that she knew about all my swinishness."

Sort nodded.

"Then she held out her hand to me. How like she is to one of God's
angels already--I thought--but it's a pity in one who's so young.
And then I went close to her and took her hand."

"And what then?" Sort drew nearer to Pelle. His eyes hung
expectantly on Pelle's lips.

"Then she stretched out her mouth to me a little--and at that very
moment I forgot what sort of a hog I'd been--and I kissed her!"

"Didn't she say anything to you--not a word?"

"She only looked at me with those eyes that you can't understand.
Then I didn't know what I--what I ought to do next, so I came away."

"Weren't you afraid that she might transfer death to you?"

"No; why should I be? I didn't think about it. But she could never
think of a thing like that--so child-like as she was!"

They both lay for a time without speaking. "You have something in
you that conquers them all!" said Sort at length. "If only you would
help me--I'd see to the preaching!"

Pelle stretched himself indolently--he felt no desire to create
a new religion. "No, I want to go away and see the world now," he
said. "There must be places in that world where they've already
begun to go for the rich folks--that's where I want to go!"

"One can't achieve good by the aid of evil--you had better stay
here! Here you know where you are--and if we went together--"

"No, there's nothing here for any one to do who is poor--if I go on
here any longer, I shall end in the mud again. I want to have my
share--even if I have to strike a bloodsucker dead to get it--and
that couldn't be any very great sin! But shan't we see about getting
on now? We've been a whole month now tramping round these Sudland
farms. You've always promised me that we should make our way toward
the heath. For months now I've heard nothing of Father Lasse and
Karna. When things began to go wrong with me, it was as though I
had quite forgotten them."

Sort rose quickly. "Good! So you've still thoughts for other things
than killing bloodsuckers! How far is it, then, to Heath Farm?"

"A good six miles."

"We'll go straight there. I've no wish to begin anything to-day."

They packed their possessions on their backs and trudged onward in
cheerful gossip. Sort pictured their arrival to Pelle. "I shall go
in first and ask whether they've any old boots or harness that we
can mend; and then you'll come in, while we're in the middle of a
conversation."

Pelle laughed. "Shan't I carry the bench for you? I can very well
strap it on the other things."

"You shan't sweat for me as well as yourself!" rejoined Sort,
laughing. "You'd want to take off even your trousers then."

They had chattered enough, and tramped on in silence. Pelle stepped
forward carelessly, drinking in the fresh air. He was conscious of
a superfluity of strength and well-being; otherwise he thought of
nothing, but merely rejoiced unconsciously over his visit to his
home. At every moment he had to moderate his steps, so that Sort
should not be left behind.

"What are you really thinking about now?" he asked suddenly. He
would always have it that Sort was thinking of something the moment
he fell silent. One could never know beforehand in what region he
would crop up next.

"That's just what the children ask!" replied Sort, laughing. "They
always want to know what's inside."

"Tell me, then--you might as well tell me!"

"I was thinking about life. Here you walk at my side, strong and
certain of victory as the young David. And yet a month ago you
were part of the dregs of society!"

"Yes, that is really queer," said Pelle, and he became thoughtful.

"But how did you get into such a mess? You could quite well have
kept your head above water if you had only wanted to!"

"That I really don't know. I tell you, it's as if some one had hit
you over the head; and then you run about and don't know what you're
doing; and it isn't so bad if you've once got there. You work and
drink and bang each other over the head with your beer-cans or
bottles--"

"You say that so contentedly--you don't look behind things--that's
the point! I've seen so many people shipwrecked; for the poor man
it's only one little step aside, and he goes to the dogs; and he
himself believes he's a devilish fine fellow. But it was a piece of
luck that you got out of it all! Yes, it's a wonder remorse didn't
make your life bitter."

"If we felt remorse we had brandy," said Pelle, with an experienced
air. "That soon drives out everything else."

"Then it certainly has its good points--it helps a man over the time
of waiting!"

"Do you really believe that an eternal kingdom is coming--the
'thousand-year kingdom'--the millennium? With good times for all,
for the poor and the miserable?"

Sort nodded. "God has promised it, and we must believe His Word.
Something is being prepared over on the mainland, but whether it's
the real millennium, I don't know."

They tramped along. The road was stony and deserted. On either side
the rocky cliffs, with their scrubby growth, were beginning to rise
from the fields, and before them ranged the bluish rocky landscape
of the heath or moorland. "As soon as we've been home, I shall
travel; I must cross the sea and find out what they do really intend
there," said Pelle.

"I have no right to hold you back," answered Sort quietly, "but it
will be lonely travelling for me. I shall feel as if I'd lost a son.
But of course you've got other things to think of than to remember
a poor hunchback! The world is open to you. Once you've feathered
your nest, you'll think no more of little Sort!"

"I shall think of you, right enough," replied Pelle. "And as soon as
I'm doing well I shall come back and look out for you--not before.
Father will be sure to object to my idea of travelling--he would so
like me to take over Heath Farm from him; but there you must back
me up. I've no desire to be a farmer."

"I'll do that."

"Now just look at it! Nothing but stone upon stone with heather and
scrubby bushes in between! That's what Heath Farm was four years ago
--and now it's quite a fine property. That the two of them have done
--without any outside help."

"You must be built of good timber," said Sort. "But what poor fellow
is that up on the hill? He's got a great sack on his back and he's
walking as if he'd fall down at every step."

"That--that is Father Lasse! Hallo!" Pelle waved his cap.

Lasse came stumbling up to them; he dropped his sack and gave them
his hand without looking at them.

"Are you coming this way?" cried Pelle joyfully; "we were just going
on to look for you!"

"You can save yourself the trouble! You've become stingy about using
your legs. Spare them altogether!" said Lasse lifelessly.

Pelle stared at him. "What's the matter? Are you leaving?"

"Yes, we're leaving!" Lasse laughed--a hollow laugh. "Leaving--yes!
We've left--indeed, we've each of us gone our own way. Karna has
gone where there's no more care and trouble--and here's Lasse, with
all that's his!" He struck his foot against the sack, and stood
there with face averted from them, his eyes fixed upon the ground.

All signs of life had vanished from Pelle's face. Horrified, he
stared at his father, and his lips moved, but he could form no
words.

"Here I must meet my own son by accident in the middle of the empty
fields! So often as I've looked for you and asked after you! No one
knew anything about you. Your own flesh and blood has turned from
you, I thought--but I had to tell Karna you were ill. She fully
expected to see you before she went away. Then you must give him my
love, she said, and God grant all may go well with him. She thought
more about you than many a mother would have done! Badly you've
repaid it. It's a long time ago since you set foot in our house."

Still Pelle did not speak; he stood there swaying from side to side;
every word was like the blow of a club.

"You mustn't be too hard on him!" said Sort. "He's not to blame--ill
as he's been!"

"Ah, so you too have been through bad times and have got to fight
your way, eh? Then, as your father, I must truly be the last to
blame you." Lasse stroked his son's sleeve, and the caress gave
Pelle pleasure. "Cry, too, my son--it eases the mind. In me the
tears are dried up long ago. I must see how I can bear my grief;
these have become hard times for me, you may well believe. Many
a night have I sat by Karna and been at my wits' end--I could not
leave her and go for help, and everything went wrong with us all at
the same time. It almost came to my wishing you were ill. You were
the one who ought to have had a kindly thought for us, and you could
always have sent us news. But there's an end of it all!"

"Are you going to leave Heath Farm, father?" asked Pelle quietly.

"They have taken it away from me," replied Lasse wretchedly. "With
all these troubles, I couldn't pay the last instalment, and now
their patience is at an end. Out of sheer compassion they let me
stay till Karna had fought out her fight and was happily buried
in the earth--every one could see it wasn't a matter of many days
more."

"If it is only the interest," said Sort, "I have a few hundred
kroner which I've saved up for my old days."

"Now it's too late; the farm is already taken over by another man.
And even if that were not the case--what should I do there without
Karna? I'm no longer any use!"

"We'll go away together, father!" said Pelle, raising his head.

"No; I go nowhere now except to the churchyard. They have taken
my farm away from me, and Karna has worked herself to death, and I
myself have left what strength I had behind me. And then they took
it away from me!"

"I will work for us both--you shall be comfortable and enjoy your
old days!" Pelle saw light in the distance.

Lasse shook his head. "I can no longer put things away from me--I
can no longer leave them behind and go on again!"

"I propose that we go into the town," said Sort. "Up by the church
we are sure to find some one who will drive us in."

They collected their things and set off. Lasse walked behind the
others, talking to himself; from time to time he broke out into
lamentation. Then Pelle turned back to him in silence and took his
hand.

"There is no one to help us and give us good advice. On the contrary,
they'd gladly see us lose life and fortune if they could only earn
a few shillings on that account. Even the authorities won't help the
poor man. He's only there so that they can all have a cut at him and
then each run off with his booty. What do they care that they bring
need and misery and ruin upon us? So long as they get their taxes
and their interest! I could stick them all in the throat, in cold
blood!"

So he continued a while, increasing in bitterness, until he broke
down like a little child.



XXVI

They lived with Sort, who had his own little house in the outermost
suburb. The little travelling cobbler did not know what to do for
them: Lasse was so dejected and so aimless. He could not rest; he
did not recover; from time to time he broke out into lamentation.
He had grown very frail, and could no longer lift his spoon to his
mouth without spilling the contents. If they tried to distract him,
he became obstinate.

"Now we must see about fetching your things," they would both say
repeatedly. "There is no sense in giving your furniture to the
parish."

But Lasse would not have them sent for. "They've taken everything
else from me; they can take that, too," he said. "And I won't go
out there again--and let myself be pitied by every one."

"But you'll beggar yourself," said Sort.

"They've done that already. Let them have their way. But they'll
have to answer for it in the end!"

Then Pelle procured a cart, and drove over himself to fetch them.
There was quite a load to bring back. Mother Bengta's green chest
he found upstairs in the attic; it was full of balls of thread. It
was so strange to see it again--for many years he had not thought
of his mother. "I'll have that for a travelling trunk," he thought,
and he took it with him.

Lasse was standing before the door when he returned.

"See, I've brought everything here for you, father!" he cried,
lustily cracking his whip. But Lasse went in without saying a word.
When they had unloaded the cart and went to look for him, he had
crawled into bed. There he lay with his face to the wall, and would
not speak.

Pelle told him all sorts of news of Heath Farm, in order to put
a little life into him. "Now the parish has sold Heath Farm to the
Hill Farm man for five thousand kroner, and they say he's got a good
bargain. He wants to live there himself and to leave Hill Farm in
his son's hands."

Lasse half turned his head. "Yes, something grows there now. Now
they are making thousands--and the farmer will do better still,"
he said bitterly. "But it's well-manured soil. Karna overstrained
herself and died and left me.... And we went so well in harness
together. Her thousand kroner went into it, too ... and now I'm a
poor wreck. All that was put into the barren, rocky soil, so that
it became good and generous soil. And then the farmer buys it, and
now he wants to live there--we poor lice have prepared the way for
him! What else were we there for? Fools we are to excite ourselves
so over such a thing! But, how I loved the place!" Lasse suddenly
burst into tears.

"Now you must be reasonable and see about becoming cheerful again,"
said Sort. "The bad times for the poor man will soon be over. There
is a time coming when no one will need to work himself to death for
others, and when every one will reap what he himself has sown. What
injury have you suffered? For you are on the right side and have
thousands of kroner on which you can draw a bill. It would be still
worse if you owed money to others!"

"I haven't much more time," said Lasse, raising himself on his
elbows.

"Perhaps not, you and I, for those who start on the pilgrimage must
die in the desert! But for that reason we are God's chosen people,
we poor folk. And Pelle, he will surely behold the Promised Land!"

"Now you ought to come in, father, and see how we have arranged it,"
said Pelle.

Lasse stood up wearily and went with them. They had furnished one
of Sort's empty rooms with Lasse's things. It looked quite cozy.

"We thought that you would live here until Pelle is getting on
well 'over there,'" said Sort. "No, you don't need to thank me!
I'm delighted to think I shall have society, as you may well
understand."

"The good God will repay it to you," said Lasse, with a quavering
voice. "We poor folk have no one but Him to rely on."

Pelle could not rest, nor control his thoughts any longer; he must
be off! "If you'll give me what the fare comes to, as I've helped
you," he told Sort, "then I'll start this evening...."

Sort gave him thirty kroner.

"That's the half of what we took. There's not so much owing to me,"
said Pelle. "You are the master and had the tools and everything."

"I won't live by the work of other hands--only by that of my own,"
said Sort, and he pushed the money across to Pelle. "Are you going
to travel just as you stand?"

"No, I have plenty of money," said Pelle gaily. "I've never before
possessed so much money all at once! One can get quite a lot of
clothes for that."

"But you mustn't touch the money! Five kroner you'll need for the
passage and the like; the rest you must save, so that you can face
the future with confidence!"

"I shall soon earn plenty of money in Copenhagen!"

"He has always been a thoughtless lad," said Lasse anxiously. "Once,
when he came into town here to be apprenticed he had five kroner;
and as for what he spent them on, he could never give any proper
account!"

Sort laughed.

"Then I shall travel as I stand!" said Pelle resolutely. But that
wouldn't do, either!

He could not by any means please both--they were like two anxious
clucking hens.

He had no lack of linen, for Lasse had just thought of his own
supply. Karna had looked after him well. "But it will be very short
for your long body. It's not the same now as it was when you left
Stone Farm--then we had to put a tuck in my shirt for you."

In the matter of shoes he was not well off. It would never do for
a journeyman shoemaker to look for work wearing such shoes as his.
Sort and Pelle must make a pair of respectable boots. "We must leave
ourselves time," said Sort. "Think! They must be able to stand the
judgment of the capital!" Pelle was impatient, and wanted to get
the work quickly out of hand.

Now there was only the question of a new suit. "Then buy it ready
made on credit," said Sort. "Lasse and I will be good enough
securities for a suit."

In the evening, before he started, he and Lasse went out to look
up Due. They chose the time when they were certain of meeting
Due himself. They neither of them cared much for Anna. As they
approached the house they saw an old richly-dressed gentleman go
in at the front door.

"That is the consul," said Pelle, "who has helped them to get on.
Then Due is out with the horses, and we are certainly not welcome."

"Is it like that with them?" said Lasse, standing still. "Then I
am sorry for Due when he first finds out how his affairs really
stand! He will certainly find that he has bought his independence
too dearly! Yes, yes; for those who want to get on the price is
hard to pay. I hope it will go well with you over there, my boy."

They had reached the church. There stood a cart full of green
plants; two men were carrying them into a dwelling-house.

"What festivity's going on here?" asked Pelle.

"There's to be a wedding to-morrow," answered one of the men.
"Merchant Lau's daughter is marrying that swaggering fellow, who's
always giving himself airs--Karlsen, he's called, and he's a poor
chap like ourselves. But do you suppose he'll notice us? When dirt
comes to honor, there's no bearing with it! Now he's become a
partner in the business!"

"Then I'll go to the wedding," said Lasse eagerly, while they
strolled on. "It is very interesting to see when one of a family
comes to something." Pelle felt that this was to some extent meant
as a reproach, but he said nothing.

"Shall we have one look at the new harbor?" he said.

"No, now the sun's going down, and I'll go home and get to bed.
I'm old--but you go. I shall soon find my way back." Pelle strolled
onward, but then turned aside toward the north--he would go and
bid Marie Nielsen good-bye. He owed her a friendly word for all
her goodness. Also, as an exception, she should for once see him in
respectable clothes. She had just come home from her work, and was
on the point of preparing her supper.

"No, Pelle, is that you?" she cried delightedly, "and so grand,
too--you look like a prince!" Pelle had to remain to supper.

"I have really only come to thank you for all your friendliness
and to say good-bye. To-morrow I go to Copenhagen."

She looked at him earnestly. "And you are glad!"

Pelle had to tell her what he had been doing since he had last seen
her. He sat there looking gratefully about the poor, clean room,
with the bed set so innocently against the wall, covered with a
snow-white counterpane. He had never forgotten that fragrance of
soap and cleanliness and her fresh, simple nature. She had taken
him in the midst of all his misery and had not thought her own white
bed too good for him while she scrubbed the mire from him. When he
reached the capital he would have himself photographed and send her
his portrait.

"And how are you doing now?" he asked gently.

"Just as when you last saw me--only a little more lonely," she
answered earnestly.

And then he must go. "Good-bye, and may everything go well with
you!" he said, and he shook her hand. "And many thanks for all
your goodness!"

She stood before him silently, looking at him with an uncertain
smile. "Ah, no! I'm only a human being too!" she cried suddenly,
and she flung her arms about him in a passionate embrace.

And then the great day broke! Pelle awaked with the sun and had
the green chest already packed before the others were up, and then
he roamed about, not knowing what he should set his hand to, he
was so restless and so excited. He answered at random, and his eyes
were full of radiant dreams. In the morning he and Lasse carried the
chest to the steamer, in order to have the evening free. Then they
went to the church, in order to attend Alfred's wedding. Pelle would
gladly have stayed away; he had enough to do with his own affairs,
and he had no sympathy for Alfred's doings.

But Lasse pushed him along.

The sun stood high in heaven and blazed in the winding side-streets
so that the tarred timberwork sweated and the gutters stank; from
the harbor came the sound of the crier, with his drum, crying
herrings, and announcing an auction. The people streamed to church
in breathless conversation concerning this child of fortune, Alfred,
who had climbed so far.

The church was full of people. It was gaily decorated, and up by
the organ stood eight young women who were to sing "It is so lovely
together to be!" Lasse had never seen or heard of such a wedding.
"I feel quite proud!" he said.

"He's a bladder full of wind!" said Pelle. "He's taking her simply
on account of the honor."

And then the bridal pair stepped up to the altar. "It's tremendous
the way Alfred has greased his head!" whispered Lasse. "It looks
like a newly-licked calf's head! But she is pretty. I'm only puzzled
that she's not put on her myrtle-wreath--I suppose nothing has
happened?"

"Yes, she's got a child," whispered Pelle. "Otherwise, he would
never in this world have got her!"

"Oh, I see! Yes, but that's smart of him, to catch such a fine
lady!"

Now the young women sang, and it sounded just as if they were angels
from heaven who had come to seal the bond.

"We must take our places so that we can congratulate them," said
Lasse, and he wanted to push right through the crowd, but Pelle
held him back.

"I'm afraid he won't know us to-day; but look now, there's Uncle
Kalle."

Kalle stood squeezed among the hindmost chairs, and there he had
to stay until everybody had passed out. "Yes, I was very anxious to
take part in this great day," he said, "and I wanted to bring mother
with me, but she thought her clothes weren't respectable enough."
Kalle wore a new gray linsey-woolsey suit; he had grown smaller
and more bent with the years.

"Why do you stand right away in the corner here, where you can see
nothing? As the bridegroom's father, you must have been given your
place in the first row," said Lasse.

"I have been sitting there, too--didn't you see me sitting next
to Merchant Lau? We sang out of the same hymn-book. I only got
pushed here in the crowd. Now I ought to go to the wedding-feast.
I was properly invited, but I don't quite know...." He looked down
at himself. Suddenly he made a movement, and laughed in his own
reckless way. "Ugh--what am I doing standing here and telling
lies to people who don't believe me! No, pigs don't belong in the
counting-house! I might spread a bad smell, you know! People like
us haven't learned to sweat scent!"

"Bah! He's too grand to know his own father! Devil take it! Then
come with us so that you needn't go away hungry!" said Lasse.

"No--I've been so overfed with roast meats and wine and cakes that I
can't get any more down for the present. Now I must go home and tell
mother about all the splendid things. I've eighteen miles to go."

"And you came here on foot--thirty-six miles! That's too much for
your years!"

"I had really reckoned that I'd stay the night here. I didn't think
... Well, an owl's been sitting there! Children can't very well
climb higher than that--not to recognize their own fathers! Anna is
now taking the best way to become a fine lady, too.... I shall be
wondering how long I shall know myself! Devil take it, Kalle Karlsen,
I'm of good family, too, look you! Well, then, ajoo!"

Wearily he set about tramping home. He looked quite pitiful in his
disappointment. "He's never looked so miserable in his life!" said
Lasse, gazing after him, "and it takes something, too, to make
Brother Kalle chuck his gun into the ditch!"

Toward evening they went through the town to the steamer. Pelle took
long strides, and a strange feeling of solemnity kept him silent.
Lasse trotted along at his side; he stooped as he went. He was in a
doleful mood. "Now you won't forget your old father?" he said, again
and again.

"There's no danger of that," rejoined Sort. Pelle heard nothing of
this; his thoughts were all set on his journey. The blue smoke of
kitchen fires was drifting down among the narrow lanes. The old
people were sitting out of doors on their front steps, and were
gossiping over the news of the day. The evening sun fell upon round
spectacles, so that great fiery eyes seemed to be staring out of
their wrinkled faces. The profound peace of evening lay over the
streets. But in the narrow lanes there was the breathing of that
eternal, dull unrest, as of a great beast that tosses and turns and
cannot sleep. Now and again it blazed up into a shout, or the crying
of a child, and then began anew--like heavy, labored breathing. Pelle
knew it well, that ghostly breathing, which rises always from the
lair of the poor man. The cares of poverty had shepherded the evil
dreams home for the night. But he was leaving this world of poverty,
where life was bleeding away unnoted in the silence; in his thoughts
it was fading away like a mournful song; and he gazed out over the
sea, which lay glowing redly at the end of the street. Now he was
going out into the world!

The crazy Anker was standing at the top of his high steps.
"Good-bye!" cried Pelle, but Anker did not understand. He turned
his face up to the sky and sent forth his demented cry.

Pelle threw a last glance at the workshop. "There have I spent many
a good hour!" he thought; and he thought, too, of the young master.
Old Jorgen was standing before his window, playing with the little
Jorgen, who sat inside on the windowseat. "Peep, peep, little one!"
he cried, in his shrill voice, and he hid, and bobbed up into sight
again. The young wife was holding the child; she was rosy with
maternal delight.

"You'll be sure to let us hear from you," said Lasse yet again, as
Pelle stood leaning over the steamer's rail. "Don't forget your old
father!" He was quite helpless in his anxiety.

"I will write to you as soon as I'm getting on," said Pelle, for
the twentieth time at least. "Only don't worry!" Sure of victory,
he laughed down at the old man. For the rest they stood silent and
gazed at one another.

At last the steamer moved. "Good luck--take care of yourself!" he
cried for the last time, as they turned the pier-head; and as long
as he could see he waved his cap. Then he went right forward and sat
on a coil of rope.

He had forgotten all that lay behind him. He gazed ahead as though
at any moment the great world itself might rise in front of the
vessel's bow. He pictured nothing to himself of what was to come
and how he would meet it--he was only longing--longing!

THE END.





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