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Title: Pelle the Conqueror — Volume 03
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 03" ***

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PELLE THE CONQUEROR

PART III.--THE GREAT STRUGGLE.


BY MARTIN ANDERSON NEXO



TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH
By Bernard Miall.



III. THE GREAT STRUGGLE


I


A swarm of children was playing on the damp floor of the shaft. They
hung from the lower portions of the timber-work, or ran in and out
between the upright supports, humming tunes, with bread-and-dripping in
their hands; or they sat on the ground and pushed themselves forward
across the sticky flagstones. The air hung clammy and raw, as it does in
an old well, and already it had made the little voices husky, and had
marked their faces with the scars of scrofula. Yet out of the tunnel-
like passage which led to the street there blew now and again a warm
breath of air and the fragrance of budding trees--from the world that
lay behind those surrounding walls.

They had finished playing "Bro-bro-brille," for the last rider had
entered the black cauldron; and Hansel and Gretel had crept safely out
of the dwarf Vinslev's den, across the sewer-grating, and had reached
the pancake-house, which, marvelously enough, had also a grating in
front of the door, through which one could thrust a stick or a cabbage-
stalk, in order to stab the witch. Sticks of wood and cabbage-stalks
were to be found in plenty in the dustbins near the pancake-house, and
they knew very well who the witch was! Now and again she would pop up
out of the cellar and scatter the whole crowd with her kitchen tongs! It
was almost a little too lifelike; even the smell of pancakes came
drifting down from where the well-to-do Olsens lived, so that one could
hardly call it a real fairy tale. But then perhaps the dwarf Vinslev
would come out of his den, and would once again tell them the story of
how he had sailed off with the King's gold and sunk it out yonder, in
the King's Deep, when the Germans were in the land. A whole ship's crew
took out the King's treasure, but not one save Vinslev knew where it was
sunk, and even he did not know now. A terrible secret that, such as well
might make a man a bit queer in the head. He would explain the whole
chart on his double-breasted waistcoat; he had only to steer from this
button to that, and then down yonder, and he was close above the
treasure. But now some of the buttons had fallen off, and he could no
longer make out the chart. Day by day the children helped him to trace
it; this was an exciting bit of work, for the King was getting
impatient!

There were other wonderful things to do; for instance, one could lie
flat down on the slippery flagstones and play Hanne's game--the "Glory"
game. You turned your eyes from the darkness down below, looking up
through the gloomy shaft at the sky overhead, which floated there
blazing with light, and then you suddenly looked down again, so that
everything was quite dark. And in the darkness floated blue and yellow
rings of color, where formerly there had been nothing but dustbins and
privies. This dizzy flux of colors before the eyes was the journey far
out to the land of happiness, in search of all the things that cannot be
told. "I can see something myself, and I know quite well what it is, but
I'm just not going to tell," they murmured, blinking mysteriously up
into the blue.

However, one could have too much of a good thing.... But the round
grating under the timbers yonder, where Hanne's father drowned himself,
was a thing one never grew weary of. The depths were forever bubbling
upward, filling the little children with a secret horror; and the half-
grown girls would stand a-straddle over the grating, shuddering at the
cold breath that came murmuring up from below. The grating was sure
enough the way down to hell, and if you gazed long enough you could see
the faintest glimmer of the inky stream that was flowing down below.
Every moment it sent its putrid breath up into your face; that was the
Devil, who sat panting down there in a corner. If you turned your eyes
away from the depths the twilight of the well had turned to brightest
day, so you could make the world light or dark just as you wished.

A few children always lay there, on all fours, gazing down with anxious
faces; and all summer through, directly over the grating, hung a cloud
of midges, swaying in the breath of the depths. They would rise to a
certain height, then suddenly fall, and rise again, just like a
juggler's balls. Sometimes the breathing from below sucked the whole
swarm right down, but it rose up again, veering hither and thither like
a dancing wraith in the draught from the tunnel-like entry. The little
girls would gaze at it, lift their petticoats, and take a few graceful
steps. Olsen's Elvira had learned her first dance-steps here, and now
she was dancing respectable citizens into the poor-house. And the
furniture broker's daughter was in Petersburg, and was _almost_ a
Grand Duchess!

On the walls of the narrow shaft projecting porches hung crazily, so
that they left only a small free space, and here the clothes-lines ran
to and fro, loaded with dishclouts and children's clothing. The decaying
wooden staircases ran zig-zag up the walls, disappearing into the
projecting porches and coming out again, until they reached the very
garrets.

From the projecting porches and the galleries, doors led into the
various tenements, or to long corridors that connected the inner
portions of the house. Only in Pipman's side there were neither porches
nor galleries, from the second story upward; time had devoured them, so
that the stairs alone remained in place. The ends of the joists stuck
out of the wall like decaying tooth stumps, and a rope hung from above,
on which one could obtain a hold. It was black and smooth from the grip
of many hands.

On one of those hot June days when the heavens shone like a blazing fire
above the rift overhead, the heavy, mouldering timbers came to life
again, as if their forest days had returned. People swarmed in and out
on the stairs, shadows came and went, and an incessant chattering filled
the twilight. From porch to porch dropped the sour-smelling suds from
the children's washing, until at last it reached the ground, where the
children were playing by the sluggish rivulets which ran from the
gutters. The timbers groaned continually, like ancient boughs that rub
together, and a clammy smell as of earth and moist vegetation saturated
the air, while all that one touched wore a coating of slime, as in token
of its exuberant fertility.

One's gaze could not travel a couple of steps before it was checked by
wooden walls, but one felt conscious of the world that lay behind them.
When the doors of the long passages opened and shut, one heard the rumor
of the innumerable creatures that lived in the depths of the "Ark"; the
crying of little children, the peculiar fidgeting sound of marred,
eccentric individuals, for many a whole life's history unfolded itself
within there, undisturbed, never daring the light of day. On Pipman's
side the waste-pipes stuck straight out of the wall, like wood-goblins
grinning from the thicket with wide-open mouths, and long gray beards,
which bred rose-pink earthworms, and from time to time fell with a heavy
smack into the yard. Green hanging bushes grew out of holes in the wall.
The waste water trickled through them and dripped continually as though
from the wet locks of the forest. Inside, in the greenish, dripping
darkness, sat curiously marked toads, like little water-nymphs, each in
her grotto, shining with unwholesome humidity. And up among the timbers
of the third story hung Hanne's canary, singing quite preposterously,
its beak pointing up toward the spot of fiery light overhead. Across the
floor of the courtyard went an endless procession of people, light-shy
creatures who emerged from the womb of the "Ark" or disappeared into it.
Most of them were women, weirdly clad, unwholesomely pale, but with a
layer of grime as though the darkness had worked into their skins, with
drowsy steps and fanatical, glittering eyes.

Little old men, who commonly lay in their dark corners waiting for
death, came hobbling out on the galleries, lifted their noses toward the
blazing speck of sky overhead, and sneezed three times. "That's the
sun!" they told one another, delighted. "Artishu! One don't catch cold
so easy in winter!"



II


High up, out of Pipman's garret, a young man stepped out onto the
platform. He stood there a moment turning his smiling face toward the
bright heavens overhead. Then he lowered his head and ran down the
break-neck stairs, without holding on by the rope. Under his arm he
carried something wrapped in a blue cloth.

"Just look at the clown! Laughing right into the face of the sun as
though there was no such thing as blindness!" said the women, thrusting
their heads out of window. "But then, of course, he's from the country.
And now he's going to deliver his work. Lord, how long is he going to
squat up there and earn bread for that sweater? The red'll soon go from
his cheeks if he stops there much longer!" And they looked after him
anxiously.

The children down in the courtyard raised their heads when they heard
his steps above them.

"Have you got some nice leather for us to-day, Pelle?" they cried,
clutching at his legs.

He brought out of his pockets some little bits of patent-leather and red
imitation morocco.

"That's from the Emperor's new slippers," he said, as he shared the
pieces among the children. Then the youngsters laughed until their
throats began to wheeze.

Pelle was just the same as of old, except that he was more upright and
elastic in his walk, and had grown a little fair moustache. His
protruding ears had withdrawn themselves a little, as though they were
no longer worked so hard. His blue eyes still accepted everything as
good coin, though they now had a faint expression that seemed to say
that all that happened was no longer to their liking. His "lucky curls"
still shone with a golden light.

The narrow streets lay always brooding in a dense, unbearable atmosphere
that never seemed to renew itself. The houses were grimy and crazy;
where a patch of sunlight touched a window there were stained bed-
clothes hung out to dry. Up one of the side streets was an ambulance
wagon, surrounded by women and children who were waiting excitedly for
the bearers to appear with their uneasy burden, and Pelle joined them;
he always had to take part in everything.

It was not quite the shortest way which he took. The capital was quite a
new world to him; nothing was the same as at home; here a hundred
different things would happen in the course of the day, and Pelle was
willing enough to begin all over again; and he still felt his old
longing to take part in it all and to assimilate it all.

In the narrow street leading down to the canal a thirteen-year-old girl
placed herself provocatively in his way. "Mother's ill," she said,
pointing up a dark flight of steps. "If you've got any money, come
along!" He was actually on the point of following her, when he
discovered that the old women who lived in the street were flattening
their noses against their windowpanes. "One has to be on one's guard
here!" he told himself, at least for the hundredth time. The worst of it
was that it was so easy to forget the necessity.

He strolled along the canal-side. The old quay-wall, the apple-barges,
and the granaries with the high row of hatchways overhead and the
creaking pulleys right up in the gables awakened memories of home.
Sometimes, too, there were vessels from home lying here, with cargoes of
fish or pottery, and then he was able to get news. He wrote but seldom.
There was little success to be reported; just now he had to make his
way, and he still owed Sort for his passage-money.

But it would soon come.... Pelle hadn't the least doubt as to the
future. The city was so monstrously large and incalculable; it seemed to
have undertaken the impossible; but there could be no doubt of such an
obvious matter of course as that he should make his way. Here wealth was
simply lying in great heaps, and the poor man too could win it if only
he grasped at it boldly enough. Fortune here was a golden bird, which
could be captured by a little adroitness; the endless chances were like
a fairy tale. And one day Pelle would catch the bird; when and how he
left confidingly to chance.

In one of the side streets which ran out of the Market Street there was
a crowd; a swarm of people filled the whole street in front of the iron-
foundry, shouting eagerly to the blackened iron-workers, who stood
grouped together by the gateway, looking at one another irresolutely.

"What's up here?" asked Pelle.

"This is up--that they can't earn enough to live on," said an old man.
"And the manufacturers won't increase their pay. So they've taken to
some new-fangled fool's trick which they say has been brought here from
abroad, where they seem to have done well with it. That's to say, they
all suddenly chuck up their work and rush bareheaded into the street and
make a noise, and then back to work again, just like school children in
play-time. They've already been in and out two or three times, and now
half of them's outside and the others are at work, and the gate is
locked. Nonsense! A lot that's going to help their wages! No; in my time
we used to ask for them prettily, and we always got something, too. But,
anyhow, we're only working-folks, and where's it going to come from? And
now, what's more, they've lost their whole week's wages!"

The workmen were at a loss as to what they should do; they stood there
gazing mechanically up at the windows of the counting-house, from which
all decisions were commonly issued. Now and again an impatient shudder
ran through the crowd, as it made threats toward the windows and
demanded what was owing it. "He won't give us the wages that we've
honestly earned, the tyrant!" they cried. "A nice thing, truly, when
one's got a wife and kids at home, and on a Saturday afternoon, too!
What a shark, to take the bread out of their mouths! Won't the gracious
gentleman give us an answer--just his greeting, so that we can take it
home with us?--just his kind regards, or else they'll have to go hungry
to bed!" And they laughed, a low, snarling laugh, spat on the pavement,
and once more turned their masterless faces up to the counting-house
windows.

Proposals were showered upon them, proposals of every kind; and they
were as wise as they were before. "What the devil are we to do if
there's no one who can lead us?" they said dejectedly, and they stood
staring again. That was the only thing they knew how to do.

"Choose a few of your comrades and send them in to negotiate with the
manufacturer," said a gentleman standing by.

"Hear, hear! Forward with Eriksen! He understands the deaf-and-dumb
alphabet!" they shouted. The stranger shrugged his shoulders and
departed.

A tall, powerful workman approached the group. "Have you got your killer
with you, Eriksen?" cried one, and Eriksen turned on the staircase and
exhibited his clenched fist.

"Look out!" they shouted at the windows. "Look out we don't set fire to
the place!" Then all was suddenly silent, and the heavy house-door was
barred.

Pelle listened with open mouth. He did not know what they wanted, and
they hardly knew, themselves; none the less, there was a new note in all
this! These people didn't beg for what they wanted; they preferred to
use their fists in order to get it, and they didn't get drunk first,
like the strong man Eriksen and the rest at home. "This is the capital!"
he thought, and again he congratulated himself for having come thither.

A squad of policemen came marching up. "Room there!" they cried, and
began to hustle the crowd in order to disperse it. The workmen would not
be driven away. "Not before we've got our wages!" they said, and they
pressed back to the gates again. "This is where we work, and we're going
to have our rights, that we are!" Then the police began to drive the
onlookers away; at each onset they fell back a few steps, hesitating,
and then stood still, laughing. Pelle received a blow in the back; he
turned quickly round, stared for a moment into the red face of a
policeman, and went his way, muttering and feeling his back.

"Did he hit you?" asked an old woman. "Devil take him, the filthy lout!
He's the son of the mangling-woman what lives in the house here, and now
he takes up the cudgels against his own people! Devil take him!"

"Move on!" ordered the policeman, winking, as he pushed her aside with
his body. She retired to her cellar, and stood there using her tongue to
such purpose that the saliva flew from her toothless mouth.

"Yes, you go about bullying old people who used to carry you in their
arms and put dry clouts on you when you didn't know enough to ask....
Are you going to use your truncheon on me, too? Wouldn't you like to,
Fredrik? Take your orders from the great folks, and then come yelping at
us, because we aren't fine enough for you!" She was shaking with rage;
her yellowish gray hair had become loosened and was tumbling about her
face; she was a perfect volcano.

The police marched across the Knippel Bridge, escorted by a swarm of
street urchins, who yelled and whistled between their fingers. From time
to time a policeman would turn round; then the whole swarm took to its
heels, but next moment it was there again. The police were nervous:
their fingers were opening and closing in their longing to strike out.
They looked like a party of criminals being escorted to the court-house
by the extreme youth of the town, and the people were laughing.

Pelle kept step on the pavement. He was in a wayward mood. Somewhere
within him he felt a violent impulse to give way to that absurd longing
to leap into the air and beat his head upon the pavement which was the
lingering result of his illness. But now it assumed the guise of
insolent strength. He saw quite plainly how big Eriksen ran roaring at
the bailiff, and how he was struck to the ground, and thereafter
wandered about an idiot. Then the "Great Power" rose up before him,
mighty in his strength, and was hurled to his death; they had all been
like dogs, ready to fall on him, and to fawn upon everything that smelt
of their superiors and the authorities. And he himself, Pelle, had had a
whipping at the court-house, and people had pointed the finger at him,
just as they pointed at the "Great Power." "See, there he goes loafing,
the scum of humanity!" Yes, he had learned what righteousness was, and
what mischief it did. But now he had escaped from the old
excommunication, and had entered a new world, where respectable men
never turned to look after the police, but left such things to the
street urchins and old women. There was a great satisfaction in this;
and Pelle wanted to take part in this world; he longed to understand it.

It was Saturday, and there was a crowd of journeymen and seamstresses in
the warehouse, who had come to deliver their work. The foreman went
round as usual, grumbling over the work, and before he paid for it he
would pull at it and crumple it so that it lost its shape, and then he
made the most infernal to-do because it was not good enough. Now and
again he would make a deduction from the week's wages, averring that the
material was ruined; and he was especially hard on the women, who stood
there not daring to contradict him. People said he cheated all the
seamstresses who would not let him have his way with them.

Pelle stood there boiling with rage. "If he says one word to me, we
shall come to blows!" he thought. But the foreman took the work without
glancing at it--ah, yes, that was from Pipman!

But while he was paying for it a thick-set man came forward out of a
back room; this was the court shoemaker, Meyer himself. He had been a
poor young man with barely a seat to his breeches when he came to
Copenhagen from Germany as a wandering journeyman. He did not know much
about his craft, but he knew how to make others work for him! He did not
answer the respectful greetings of the workers, but stationed himself
before Pelle, his belly bumping against the counter, wheezing loudly
through his nose, and gazing at the young man.

"New man?" he asked, at length. "That's Pipman's assistant," replied the
foreman, smiling. "Ah! Pipman--he knows the trick, eh? You do the work
and he takes the money and drinks it, eh?" The master shoemaker laughed
as at an excellent joke.

Pelle turned red. "I should like to be independent as soon as possible,"
he said.

"Yes, yes, you can talk it over with the foreman; but no unionists here,
mind that! We've no use for those folks."

Pelle pressed his lips together and pushed the cloth wrapper into the
breast of his coat in silence. It was all he could do not to make some
retort; he couldn't approve of that prohibition. He went out quickly
into Kobmager Street and turned out of the Coal Market into Hauser
Street, where, as he knew, the president of the struggling Shoemakers'
Union was living. He found a little cobbler occupying a dark cellar.
This must be the man he sought; so he ran down the steps. He had not
understood that the president of the Union would be found in such a
miserable dwelling-place.

Under the window sat a hollow-cheeked man bowed over his bench, in the
act of sewing a new sole on to a worn-out shoe. The legs of the passers-
by were just above his head. At the back of the room a woman stood
cooking something on the stove; she had a little child on her arm, while
two older children lay on the ground playing with some lasts. It was
frightfully hot and oppressive.

"Good day, comrade!" said Pelle. "Can I become a member of the Union?"

The man looked up, astonished. Something like a smile passed over his
mournful face.

"Can you indulge yourself so far?" he asked slowly. "It may prove a
costly pleasure. Who d'you work for, if I may ask?"

"For Meyer, in Kobmager Street."

"Then you'll be fired as soon as he gets to know of it!"

"I know that sure enough; all the same, I want to join the Union. He's
not going to tell me what I can and what I can't do. Besides, we'll soon
settle with him."

"That's what I thought, too. But there's too few of us. You'll be
starved out of the Union as soon as you've joined."

"We must see about getting a bit more numerous," said Pelle cheerfully,
"and then one fine day we'll shut up shop for him!"

A spark of life gleamed in the tired eyes of the president. "Yes, devil
take him, if we could only make him shut up shop!" he cried, shaking his
clenched fist in the air. "He tramples on all those hereabouts that make
money for him; it's a shame that I should sit here now and have come down
to cobbling; and he keeps the whole miserable trade in poverty! Ah, what
a revenge, comrade!" The blood rushed into his hollow cheeks until they
burned, and then he began to cough. "Petersen!" said the woman anxiously,
supporting his back. "Petersen!" She sighed and shook her head, while she
helped him to struggle through his fit of coughing. "When the talk's about
the Court shoemaker Petersen always gets like one possessed," she said,
when he had overcome it. "He really don't know what he's doing. No--if
everybody would only be as clever as Meyer and just look after his own
business, then certain people would be sitting there in good health and
earning good money!"

"Hold your tongue!" said Petersen angrily. "You're a woman--you know
nothing about the matter." At which the woman went back to her cooking.

Petersen filled out a paper, and Pelle signed his name to it and paid
his subscription for a week. "And now you must try to break away from
that bloodsucker as soon as possible!" said Petersen earnestly. "A
respectable workman can't put up with such things!"

"I was forced into it," said Pelle. "And I learned nothing of this at
home. But now that's over and done with."

"Good, comrade! There's my hand on it--and good luck to you! We must
work the cause up, and perhaps we shall succeed yet; I tell you, you've
given me back my courage! Now you persuade as many as you can, and don't
miss the meetings; they'll be announced in _The Working Man_." He
shook Pelle's hand eagerly. Pelle took a brisk walk out to the
northward. He felt pleased and in the best of spirits.

It was about the time when the workers are returning home; they drifted
along singly and in crowds, stooping and loitering, shuffling a little
after the fatigue of the day. There was a whole new world out here,
quite different from that of the "Ark." The houses were new and orderly,
built with level and plumb-line; the men went their appointed ways, and
one could see at a glance what each one was.

This quarter was the home of socialism and the new ideas. Pelle often
strolled out thither on holidays in order to get a glimpse of these
things; what they were he didn't know, and he hadn't dared to thrust
himself forward, a stranger, as he still felt himself to be there; but
it all attracted him powerfully. However, to-day he forgot that he was a
stranger, and he went onward with a long, steady stride that took him
over the bridge and into North Bridge Street. Now he himself was a
trades unionist; he was like all these others, he could go straight up
to any one if he wished and shake him by the hand. There was a strong
and peculiar appeal about the bearing of these people, as though they
had been soldiers. Involuntarily he fell into step with them, and felt
himself stronger on that account, supported by a feeling of community.
He felt solemnly happy, as on his birthday; and he had a feeling as
though he must do something. The public houses were open, and the
workmen were entering them in little groups. But he had no desire to sit
there and pour spirits down his throat. One could do that sort of thing
when everything had gone to the dogs.

He stationed himself in front of a pastry cook's window, eagerly
occupied in comparing the different kinds of cakes. He wanted to go
inside and expend five and twenty öre in celebration of the day. But
first of all the whole affair must be properly and methodically planned
out, so that he should not be disappointed afterward. He must, of
course, have something that he had never eaten before, and that was just
the difficult part. Many of the cakes were hollow inside too, and the
feast would have to serve as his evening meal.

It was by no means easy, and just as Pelle was on the point of solving
the difficulty he was startled out of the whole affair by a slap on the
shoulder. Behind him was Morten, smiling at him with that kindly smile
of his, as though nothing had gone wrong between them. Pelle was ashamed
of himself and could not find a word to say. He had been unfaithful to
his only friend; and it was not easy for him to account for his
behavior. But Morten didn't want any explanations; he simply shook Pelle
by the hand. His pale face was shining with joy. It still betrayed that
trace of suffering which was so touching, and Pelle had to surrender at
discretion. "Well, to think we should meet here!" he cried, and laughed
good-naturedly.

Morten was working at the pastry cook's, and had been out; now he was
going in to get some sleep before the night's work. "But come in with
me; we can at least sit and talk for half an hour; and you shall have a
cake too." He was just the same as in the old days.

They went in through the gate and up the back stairs; Morten went into
the shop and returned with five "Napoleons." "You see I know your
taste," he said laughing.  Morten's room was right up under the roof; it
was a kind of turret-room with windows on both sides. One could look out
over the endless mass of roofs, which lay in rows, one behind the other,
like the hotbeds in a monstrous nursery garden. From the numberless
flues and chimneys rose a thin bluish smoke, which lay oppressively over
all. Due south lay the Kalvebod Strand, and further to the west the hill
of Frederiksberg with its castle rose above the mist. On the opposite
side lay the Common, and out beyond the chimneys of the limekilns
glittered the Sound with its many sails. "That's something like a view,
eh?" said Morten proudly.

Pelle remained staring; he went from one window to another and said
nothing. This was the city, the capital, for which he and all other poor
men from the farthest corners of the land, had longed so boundlessly;
the Fortunate Land, where they were to win free of poverty!

He had wandered through it in all directions, had marvelled at its
palaces and its treasures, and had found it to be great beyond all
expectation. Everything here was on the grand scale; what men built one
day they tore down again on the morrow, in order to build something more
sumptuous. So much was going on here, surely the poor man might somehow
make his fortune out of it all!

And yet he had had no true conception of the whole. Now for the first
time he saw the City! It lay there, a mighty whole, outspread at his
feet, with palaces, churches, and factory chimneys rising above the mass
of houses. Down in the street flowed a black, unending stream, a stream
of people continually renewed, as though from a mighty ocean that could
never be exhausted. They all had some object; one could not see it, but
really they were running along like ants, each bearing his little burden
to the mighty heap of precious things, which was gathered together from
all the ends of the earth.

"There are millions in all this!" said Pelle at last, drawing a deep
breath. "Yes," said Morten standing beside him. "And it's all put
together by human hands--by the hands of working people!"

Pelle started. That was a wonderful idea. But it was true enough, if one
thought about it.

"But now it has fallen into very different hands!" he exclaimed,
laughing. "Yes, they've got it away from us by trickery, just as one
wheedles a child out of a thing," cried Morten morosely. "But there's no
real efficiency in anything that children do--and the poor have never
been anything more than children! Only now they are beginning to grow
up, look you, and one fine day they'll ask for their own back."

"It would go ill with us if we went and tried to take it for ourselves,"
said Pelle.

"Not if we were united about it--but we are only the many."

Pelle listened; it had never occurred to him that the question of
organization was so stupendous. Men combined, sure enough, but it was to
secure better conditions in their trade.

"You are like your father!" he said. "He always had big ideas, and
wanted to get his rights. I was thinking about him a little while ago,
how he never let himself be trampled on. Then you used to be ashamed of
him; but...."

Morten hung his head. "I couldn't bear the contempt of respectable
folks," he said half under his breath. "I understood nothing beyond the
fact that he was destroying our home and bringing disgrace on us. And I
was horribly afraid, too, when he began to lay about him; I wake up
sometimes now quite wet and cold with sweat, when I've been dreaming of
my childhood. But now I'm proud that I'm the son of the 'Great Power.' I
haven't much strength myself; yet perhaps I'll do something to surprise
the city folks after all.'"

"And I too!"

Power! It was really extraordinary that Morten should be the son of the
giant stone-cutter, so quiet and delicate was he. He had not yet quite
recovered the strength of which Bodil had robbed him in his early
boyhood; it was as though that early abuse was still wasting him.

He had retained his girlish love of comfort. The room was nicely kept;
and there were actually flowers in a vase beneath the looking-glass.
Flowers, good Lord! "How did you get those?" asked Pelle.

"Bought them, of course!"

Pelle had to laugh. Was there another man in the world who would pay
money for flowers?

But he did not laugh at the books. There seemed to be a sort of
mysterious connection between them and Morten's peculiar, still energy.
He had now a whole shelf full. Pelle took a few down and looked into
them.

"What sort of stuff is this, now?" he asked doubtfully. "It looks like
learning!"

"Those are books about us, and how the new conditions are coming, and
how we must make ready for them."

"Ah, you've got the laugh of me," said Pelle. "In a moment of depression
you've got your book-learning to help you along. But we other chaps can
just sit where we are and kick our heels." Morten turned to him hastily.

"That's the usual complaint!" he cried irritably. "A man spits on his
own class and wants to get into another one. But that's not the point at
stake, damn it all! We want to stay precisely where we are, shoemakers
and bakers, all together! But we must demand proper conditions! Scarcely
one out of thousands can come out on top; and then the rest can sit
where they are and gape after him! But do you believe he'd get a chance
of rising if it wasn't that society needs him--wants to use him to
strike at his own people and keep them down? 'Now you can see for
yourself what a poor man can do if he likes!' That's what they tell you.
There's no need to blame society.

"No, the masses themselves are to blame if they aren't all rich men!
Good God! They just don't want to be! So they treat you like a fool, and
you put up with it and baa after them! No, let them all together demand
that they shall receive enough for their work to live on decently. I say
a working man ought to get as much for his work as a doctor or a
barrister, and to be educated as well. That's my Lord's Prayer!"

"Now I've set you off finely!" said Pelle good-naturedly. "And it's just
the same as what your father was raving about when he lay dying in the
shed. He lay there delirious, and he believed the ordinary workman had
got pictures on the wall and a piano, just like the fine folks."

"Did he say that?" cried Morten, and he raised his head. Then he fell
into thought. For he understood that longing. But Pelle sat there
brooding. Was this the "new time" all over again? Then there was really
some sense in banding people together--yes, and as many as possible.

"I don't rightly understand it," he said at last. "But to-day I joined
the trade union. I shan't stand still and look on when there's anything
big to be done."

Morten nodded, faintly smiling. He was tired now, and hardly heard what
Pelle was saying. "I must go to bed now so that I can get up at one. But
where do you live? I'll come and see you some time. How queer it is that
we should have run across one another here!"

"I live out in Kristianshavn--in the 'Ark,' if you know where that is!"

"That's a queer sort of house to have tumbled into! I know the 'Ark'
very well, it's been so often described in the papers. There's all sorts
of people live there!"

"I don't know anything about that," said Pelle, half offended. "I like
the people well enough.... But it's capital that we should have run into
one another's arms like this! What bit of luck, eh? And I behaved like a
clown and kept out of your way? But that was when I was going to the
dogs, and hated everybody! But now nothing's going to come between us
again, you may lay to that!"

"That's good, but now be off with you," replied Morten, smiling; he was
already half-undressed.

"I'm going, I'm going!" said Pelle, and he picked up his hat, and stood
for a moment gazing out over the city. "But it's magnificent, what you
were saying about things just now!" he cried suddenly. "If I had the
strength of all us poor folks in me, I'd break out right away and
conquer the whole of it! If such a mass of wealth were shared out
there'd never be any poverty any more!" He stood there with his arms
uplifted, as though he held it all in his hands. Then he laughed
uproariously. He looked full of energy. Morten lay half asleep, staring
at him and saying nothing. And then he went.

Pipman scolded Pelle outrageously when at last he returned. "Curse it
all, what are you thinking of? To go strolling about and playing the
duke while such as we can sit here working our eyes out of our heads!
And we have to go thirsty too! Now don't you dream of being insolent to
me, or there'll be an end of the matter. I am excessively annoyed!"

He held out his hand in pathetic expostulation, although Pelle had no
intention of answering him. He no longer took Pipman seriously. "Devil
fry me, but a man must sit here and drink the clothes off his body while
a lout like you goes for a stroll!"

Pelle was standing there counting the week's earnings when he suddenly
burst into a loud laugh as his glance fell upon Pipman. His blue naked
shanks, miserably shivering under his leather apron, looked so
enormously ridiculous when contrasted with the fully-dressed body and
the venerable beard.

"Yes, you grin!" said Pipman, laughing too. "But suppose it was you had
to take off your trousers in front of the old clothes' man, and wanted
to get upstairs respectably! Those damned brats! 'Pipman's got D. T.,'
they yell. 'Pipman's got D. T. And God knows I haven't got D. T., but I
haven't got any trousers, and that's just the trouble! And these
accursed open staircases! Olsen's hired girl took the opportunity, and
you may be sure she saw all there was to see! You might lend me your old
bags!"

Pelle opened his green chest and took out his work-day trousers.

"You'd better put a few more locks on that spinach-green lumber-chest of
yours," said Pipman surlily. "After all, there might be a thief here,
near heaven as we are!"

Pelle apparently did not hear the allusion, and locked the chest up
again. Then, his short pipe in his hand, he strolled out on to the
platform. Above the roofs the twilight was rising from the Sound. A few
doves were flying there, catching the last red rays of the sun on their
white pinions, while down in the shaft the darkness lay like a hot lilac
mist. The hurdy-gurdy man had come home and was playing his evening
tune down there to the dancing children, while the inhabitants of the
"Ark" were gossiping and squabbling from gallery to gallery. Now and
again a faint vibrating note rose upward, and all fell silent. This was
the dwarf Vinslev, who sat playing his flute somewhere in his den deep
within the "Ark." He always hid himself right away when he played, for
at such times he was like a sick animal, and sat quaking in his lair.
The notes of his flute were so sweet, as they came trickling out of his
hiding place, that they seemed like a song or a lament from another
world. And the restless creatures in the "Ark" must perforce be silent
and listen. Now Vinslev was in one of his gentle moods, and one somehow
felt better for hearing him. But at times, in his dark moods, the devil
seemed to enter into him, and breathed such music into his crazy mind
that all his hearers felt a panic terror. Then the decaying timbers of
the "Ark" seemed to expand and form a vast monstrous, pitch-black
forest, in which all terror lay lurking, and one must strike out blindly
in order to avoid being trampled on. The hearse-driver in the fourth
story, who at other times was so gentle in his cups, would beat his wife
shamefully, and the two lay about in their den drinking and fighting in
self-defence. And Vinslev's devilish flute was to blame when Johnsen
vainly bewailed his miserable life and ended it under the sewer-grating.
But there was nothing to be said about the matter; Vinslev played the
flute, and Johnsen's suicide was a death like any other.

Now the devil was going about with a ring in his nose; Vinslev's playing
was like a gentle breeze that played on people's hearts, so that they
opened like flowers. This was his good time.

Pelle knew all this, although he had not long been here; but it was
nothing to him. For he wore the conqueror's shirt of mail, such as
Father Lasse had dreamed of for him.

Down in the third story, on the built-out gallery, another sort of magic
was at work. A climbing pelargonium and some ivy had wound themselves
round the broken beams and met overhead, and there hung a little red
paper lantern, which cast a cheerful glow over it all.

It was as though the summer night had found a sanctuary in the heart of
this wilderness of stone. Under the lantern sat Madam Johnsen and her
daughter sewing; and Hanne's face glowed like a rose in the night, and
every now and then she turned it up toward Pelle and smiled, and made an
impatient movement of her head. Then Pelle turned away a little, re-
crossed his leg, and leant over on the other side, restless as a horse
in blinkers.

Close behind him his neighbor, Madam Frandsen, was bustling about her
little kitchen. The door stood open on to the platform, and she
chattered incessantly, half to herself and half to Pelle, about her
gout, her dead husband, and her lout of a son. She needed to rest her
body, did this old woman. "My God, yes; and here I have to keep slaving
and getting his food ready for Ferdinand from morning to night and from
night to morning again. And he doesn't even trouble himself to come home
to it. I can't go looking into his wild ways; all I can do is to sit
here and worry and keep his meals warm. Now that's a tasty little bit;
and he'll soon come when he's hungry, I tell myself. Ah, yes, our young
days, they're soon gone. And you stand there and stare like a baa-lamb
and the girl down there is nodding at you fit to crick her neck! Yes,
the men are a queer race; they pretend they wouldn't dare--and yet who
is it causes all the misfortunes?"

"She doesn't want anything to do with me!" said Pelle grumpily; "she's
just playing with me."

"Yes, a girl goes on playing with a white mouse until she gets it! You
ought to be ashamed to stand there hanging your head! So young and well-
grown as you are too! You cut her tail-feathers off, and you'll get a
good wife!" She nudged him in the side with her elbow.

Then at last Pelle made up his mind to go clattering down the stairs to
the third story, and along the gallery.

"Why have you been so stand-offish to-day?" said Madam Johnsen, making
room for him. "You know you are always very welcome. What are all these
preliminaries for?"

"Pelle is short-sighted; he can't see as far as this," said Hanne,
tossing her head. She sat there turning her head about; she gazed at him
smiling, her head thrown back and her mouth open. The light fell on her
white teeth.

"Shall we get fine weather to-morrow?" asked the mother.

Pelle thought they would; he gazed up at the little speck of sky in a
weather-wise manner. Hanne laughed.

"Are you a weather-prophet, Pelle? But you haven't any corns!"

"Now stop your teasing, child!" said the mother, pretending to slap her.
"If it's fine to-morrow we want to go into the woods. Will you come with
us?"

Pelle would be glad to go; but he hesitated slightly before answering.

"Come with us, Pelle," said Hanne, and she laid her hand invitingly on
his shoulder. "And then you shall be my young man. It's so tedious going
to the woods with the old lady; and then I want to be able to do as I
like." She made a challenging movement with her head.

"Then we'll go from the North Gate by omnibus; I don't care a bit about
going by train."

"From the North Gate? But it doesn't exist any longer, mummy! But there
are still omnibuses running from the Triangle."

"Well then, from the Triangle, you clever one! Can I help it if they go
pulling everything down? When I was a girl that North Gate was a
splendid place. From there you could get a view over the country where
my home was, and the summer nights were never so fine as on the wall.
One didn't know what it was to feel the cold then. If one's clothes were
thin one's heart was young."

Hanne went into the kitchen to make coffee. The door stood open. She
hummed at her task and now and again joined in the conversation. Then
she came out, serving Pelle with a cracked tea-tray. "But you look very
peculiar tonight!" She touched Pelle's face and gazed at him
searchingly.

"I joined the trade union to-day," answered Pelle; he still had the
feeling that of something unusual, and felt as though everybody must
notice something about him.

Hanne burst out laughing. "Is that where you got that black sign on your
forehead? Just look, mother, just look at him! The trade mark!" She
turned her head toward the old woman.

"Ah, the rogue!" said the old woman, laughing. "Now she's smeared soot
over your face!" She wetted her apron with her tongue and began to rub
the soot away, Hanne standing behind him and holding his head in both
hands so that he should not move. "Thank your stars that Pelle's a good-
natured fellow," said the old woman, as she rubbed. "Or else he'd take
it in bad part!"

Pelle himself laughed shamefacedly.

The hearse-driver came up through the trap in the gallery and turned
round to mount to the fourth story. "Good evening!" he said, in his deep
bass voice, as he approached them; "and good digestion, too, I ought to
say!" He carried a great ham under his arm.

"Lord o' my body!" whispered Madam Johnsen. "There he is again with his
ham; that means he's wasted the whole week's wages again. They've always
got more than enough ham and bacon up there, poor things, but they've
seldom got bread as well."

Now one sound was heard in the "Ark," now another. The crying of
children which drifted so mournfully out of the long corridors whenever
a door was opened turned to a feeble clucking every time some belated
mother came rushing home from work to clasp the little one to her
breast. And there was one that went on crying whether the mother was at
home or at work. Her milk had failed her.

From somewhere down in the cellars the sleepy tones of a cradle-song
rose up through the shaft; it was only "Grete with the child," who was
singing her rag-doll asleep. The real mothers did not sing.

"She's always bawling away," said Hanne; "those who've got real children
haven't got strength left to sing. But her brat doesn't need any food;
and that makes a lot of difference when one is poor."

"To-day she was washing and ironing the child's things to make her fine
for to-morrow, when her father comes. He is a lieutenant," said Hanne.

"Is he coming to-morrow, then?" asked Pelle naively.

Hanne laughed loudly. "She expects him every Sunday, but she has never
seen him yet!"

"Well, well, that's hardly a thing to laugh about," said the old woman.
"She's happy in her delusions, and her pension keeps her from need."



III


Pelle awoke to find Hanne standing by his bed and pulling his nose, and
imitating his comical grimaces. She had come in over the roof. "Why are
you stopping here, you?" she said eagerly. "We are waiting for you!"

"I can't get up!" replied Pelle piteously. "Pipman went out overnight
with my trousers on and hasn't come back, so I lay down to sleep again!"
Hanne broke into a ringing laugh. "What if he never comes back at all?
You'll have to lie in bed always, like Mother Jahn!"

At this Pelle laughed too.

"I really don't know what I shall do! You must just go without me."

"No, that we shan't!" said Hanne very decidedly. "No, we'll fetch the
picnic-basket and spread the things on your counterpane! After all, it's
green! But wait now, I know what!" And she slipped through the back door
and out on to the roof. Half an hour later she came again and threw a
pair of striped trousers on the bed. "He's obliging, is Herr Klodsmajor!
Now just hurry yourself a bit. I ran round to see the hearse-driver's
Marie, where she works, and she gave me a pair of her master's week-day
breeches. But she must have them again early to-morrow morning, so that
his lordship doesn't notice it."

Directly she had gone Pelle jumped into the trousers. Just as he was
ready he heard a terrific creaking of timbers. The Pipman was coming up
the stairs. He held the rope in one hand, and at every turn of the
staircase he bowed a few times outward over the rope. The women were
shrieking in the surrounding galleries and landings. That amused him.
His big, venerable head beamed with an expression of sublime joy.

"Ah, hold your tongue!" he said good-naturedly, as soon as he set eyes
on Pelle. "You hold your tongue!" He propped himself up in the doorway
and stood there staring.

Pelle seized him by the collar. "Where are my Sunday trousers?" he asked
angrily. The Pipman had the old ones on, but where were the new?

The Pipman stared at him uncomprehending, his drowsy features working in
the effort to disinter some memory or other. Suddenly he whistled.
"Trousers, did you say, young man? What, what? Did you really say
trousers? And you ask me where your trousers have got to? Then you might
have said so at once! Because, d'you see, your bags ... I've ... yes ...
why, I've pawned them!"

"You've pawned my best trousers?" cried Pelle, so startled that he
loosed his hold.

"Yes, by God, that's what I did! You can look for yourself--there's no
need to get so hot about it! You can't eat me, you know. That goes
without saying. Yes, that's about it. One just mustn't get excited!"

"You're a scoundrelly thief!" cried Pelle. "That's what you are!"

"Now, now, comrade, always keep cool! Don't shout yourself hoarse.
Nothing's been taken by me. Pipman's a respectable man, I tell you.
Here, you can see for yourself! What'll you give me for that, eh?" He
had taken the pawnticket from his pocket and held it out to Pelle,
deeply offended.

Pelle fingered his collar nervously; he was quite beside himself with
rage. But what was the use? And now Hanne and her mother had come out
over yonder. Hanne was wearing a yellow straw hat with broad ribbons.
She looked bewitching; the old lady had the lunch-basket on her arm. She
locked the door carefully and put the key under the doorstep. Then they
set out.

There was no reasoning with this sot of a Pipman! He edged round Pelle
with an uncertain smile, gazed inquisitively into his face, and kept
carefully just out of his reach. "You're angry, aren't you?" he said
confidingly, as though he had been speaking to a little child.
"Dreadfully angry? But what the devil do you want with two pairs of
trousers, comrade? Yes, what do you want with two pairs of trousers?"
His voice sounded quite bewildered and reproachful.

Pelle pulled out a pair of easy-looking women's shoes from under his
bed, and slipped out through the inner door. He squeezed his way between
the steep roof and the back wall of the room, ducked under a beam or
two, and tumbled into the long gangway which ran between the roof-
buildings and had rooms on either side of it. A loud buzzing sound
struck suddenly on his ears. The doors of all the little rooms stood
open on to the long gangway, which served as a common livingroom.
Wrangling and chattering and the crying of children surged together in a
deafening uproar; here was the life of a bee-hive. Here it's really
lively, thought Pelle. To-morrow I shall move over here! He had thought
over this for a long time, and now there should be an end of his lodging
with Pipman.

In front of one of the doors stood a little eleven-years-old maiden, who
was polishing a pair of plump-looking boy's boots; she wore an apron of
sacking which fell down below her ankles, so that she kept treading on
it. Within the room two children of nine and twelve were moving backward
and forward with mighty strides, their hands in their pockets. Then
enjoyed Sundays. In their clean shirt-sleeves, they looked like a couple
of little grown-up men. This was the "Family"; they were Pelle's
rescuers.

"Here are your shoes, Marie," said Pelle. "I couldn't do them any
better."

She took them eagerly and examined the soles. Pelle had repaired them
with old leather, and had therefore polished the insteps with cobbler's
wax. "They're splendid now!" she whispered, and she looked at him
gratefully. The boys came and shook hands with Pelle. "What will the
shoes cost?" asked the elder, feeling for his purse with a solemn
countenance.

"We'd better let that stand over, Peter; I'm in a hurry to-day," said
Pelle, laughing. "We'll put it on the account until the New Year."

"I'm going out, too, to-day with the boys," said Marie, beaming with
delight. "And you are going to the woods with Hanne and her mother, we
know all about it!" Hopping and skipping, she accompanied him to the
steps, and stood laughing down at him. To-day she was really like a
child; the shrewd, old, careful woman was as though cast to the winds.
"You can go down the main staircase," she cried.

A narrow garret-stairs led down to the main staircase, which lay inside
the building and was supposed to be used only by those who lived on the
side facing the street. This was the fashionable portion of the "Ark";
here lived old sea-dogs, shipbuilders, and other folks with regular
incomes. The tradesmen who rented the cellars--the coal merchant, the
old iron merchant, and the old clothes dealer, also had their dwellings
here.

These dwellings were composed of two splendid rooms; they had no kitchen
or entry, but in a corner of the landing on the main staircase, by the
door, each family had a sink with a little board cover. When the cover
was on one could use the sink as a seat; this was very convenient.

The others had almost reached the Knippels Bridge when he overtook them.
"What a long time you've been!" said Hanne, as she took his arm. "And
how's the 'Family?' Was Marie pleased with the shoes? Poor little thing,
she hasn't been out for two Sundays because she had no soles to her
shoes."

"She had only to come to me; I'm ever so much in her debt!"

"No, don't you believe she'd do that. The 'Family' is proud. I had to go
over and steal the shoes somehow!"

"Poor little things!" said Madam Johnsen, "it's really touching to see
how they hold together! And they know how to get along. But why are you
taking Pelle's arm, Hanne? You don't mean anything by it."

"Must one always mean something by it, little mother? Pelle is my young
man to-day, and has to protect me."

"Good Lord, what is he to protect you from? From yourself, mostly, and
that's not easy!"

"Against a horde of robbers, who will fall upon me in the forest and
carry me away. And you'll have to pay a tremendous ransom!"

"Good Lord, I'd much rather pay money to get rid of you! If I had any
money at all! But have you noticed how blue the sky is? It's splendid
with all this sun on your back--it warms you right through the cockles
of your heart."

At the Triangle they took an omnibus and bowled along the sea-front. The
vehicle was full of cheerful folk; they sat there laughing at a couple
of good-natured citizens who were perspiring and hurling silly
witticisms at one another. Behind them the dust rolled threateningly,
and hung in a lazy cloud round the great black waterbutts which stood on
their high trestles along the edge of the road. Out in the Sound the
boats lay with sails outspread, but did not move; everything was keeping
the Sabbath.

In the Zoological Gardens it was fresh and cool. The beech-leaves still
retained their youthful brightness, and looked wonderfully light and
festive against the century-old trunks. "Heigh, how beautiful the forest
is!" cried Pelle. "It is like an old giant who has taken a young bride!"

He had never been in a real beech-wood before. One could wander about
here as in a church. There were lots of other people here as well; all
Copenhagen was on its legs in this fine weather. The people were as
though intoxicated by the sunshine; they were quite boisterous, and the
sound of their voices lingered about the tree-tops and only challenged
them to give vent to their feelings. People went strolling between the
tree-trunks and amusing themselves in their own way, laying about them
with great boughs and shouting with no other object than to hear their
own voices. On the borders of the wood, a few men were standing and
singing in chorus; they wore white caps, and over the grassy meadows
merry groups were strolling or playing touch or rolling in the grass
like young kittens.

Madam Johnsen walked confidently a few steps in advance; she was the
most at home out here and led the way. Pelle and Hanne walked close
together, in order to converse. Hanne was silent and absent; Pelle took
her hand in order to make her run up a hillock, but she did not at first
notice that he was touching her, and the hand was limp and clammy. She
walked on as in a sleep, her whole bearing lifeless and taciturn. "She's
dreaming!" said Pelle, and released her hand, offended. It fell
lifelessly to her side.

The old woman turned round and looked about her with beaming eyes.

"The forest hasn't been so splendid for many years," she said. "Not
since I was a young girl."

They climbed up past the Hermitage and thence out over the grass and
into the forest again, until they came to the little ranger's house
where they drank coffee and ate some of the bread-and-butter they had
brought with them. Then they trudged on again. Madam Johnsen was paying
a rare visit to the forest and wanted to see everything. The young
people raised objections, but she was not to be dissuaded. She had
girlhood memories of the forest, and she wanted to renew them; let them
say what they would. If they were tired of running after her they could
go their own way. But they followed her faithfully, looking about them
wearily and moving along dully onward, moving along rather more stupidly
than was justifiable.

On the path leading to Raavad there were not so many people.

"It's just as forest-like here as in my young days!" said the old woman.
"And beautiful it is here. The leaves are so close, it's just the place
for a loving couple of lovers. Now I'm going to sit down and take my
boots off for a bit, my feet are beginning to hurt me. You look about
you for a bit."

But the young people looked at one another strangely and threw
themselves down at her feet. She had taken off her boots, and was
cooling her feet in the fresh grass as she sat there chatting. "It's so
warm to-day the stones feel quite burning--but you two certainly won't
catch fire. Why do you stare in that funny way? Give each other a kiss
in the grass, now! There's no harm in it, and it's so pretty to see!"

Pelle did not move. But Hanne moved over to him on her knees, put her
hands gently round his head, and kissed him. When she had done so she
looked into his eyes, lovingly, as a child might look at her doll. Her
hat had slipped on to her shoulders. On her white forehead and her upper
lip were little clear drops of sweat. Then, with a merry laugh, she
suddenly released him. Pelle and the old woman had gathered flowers and
boughs of foliage; these they now began to arrange. Hanne lay on her
back and gazed up at the sky.

"You leave that old staring of yours alone," said the mother. "It does
you no good."

"I'm only playing at 'Glory'; it's such a height here," said Hanne. "But
at home in the 'Ark' you see more. Here it's too light."

"Yes, God knows, one does see more--a sewer and two privies. A good
thing it's so dark there. No, one ought to have enough money to be able
to go into the forests every Sunday all the summer. When one has grown
up in the open air it's hard to be penned in between dirty walls all
one's life. But now I think we ought to be going on. We waste so much
time."

"Oh Lord, and I'm so comfortable lying here!" said Hanne lazily. "Pelle,
just push my shawl under my head!"

Out of the boughs high above them broke a great bird. "There, there,
what a chap!" cried Pelle, pointing at it. It sailed slowly downward, on
its mighty outspread wings, now and again compressing the air beneath it
with a few powerful strokes, and then flew onward, close above the tree-
tops, with a scrutinizing glance.

"Jiminy, I believe that was a stork!" said Madam Johnsen. She reached
for her boots, alarmed. "I won't stay here any longer now. One never
knows what may happen." She hastily laced up her boots, with a prudish
expression on her face. Pelle laughed until the tears stood in his eyes.

Hanne raised her head. "That was surely a crane, don't you think so?
Stupid bird, always to fly along like that, staring down at everything
as though he were short-sighted. If I were he I should fly straight up
in the air and then shut my eyes and come swooping down. Then, wherever
one got to, something or other would happen."

"Sure enough, this would happen, that you'd fall into the sea and be
drowned. Hanne has always had the feeling that something has got to
happen; and for that reason she can never hold on to what she's got in
her hands."

"No, for I haven't anything in them!" cried Hanne, showing her hands and
laughing. "Can you hold what you haven't got, Pelle?"

About four o'clock they came to the Schleswig Stone, where the Social-
Democrats were holding a meeting. Pelle had never yet attended any big
meeting at which he could hear agitators speaking, but had obtained his
ideas of the new movements at second hand. They were in tune with the
blind instinct within him. But he had never experienced anything really
electrifying--only that confused, monotonous surging such as he had
heard in his childhood when he listened with his ear to the hollow of
the wooden shoe.

"Well, it looks as if the whole society was here!" said Madam Johnsen
half contemptuously. "Now you can see all the Social-Democrats of
Copenhagen. They never have been more numerous, although they pretend
the whole of society belongs to them. But things don't always go so
smoothly as they do on paper."

Pelle frowned, but was silent. He himself knew too little of the matter
to be able to convert another.

The crowd affected him powerfully; here were several thousands of people
gathered together for a common object, and it became exceedingly clear
to him that he himself belonged to this crowd. "I belong to them too!"
Over and over again the words repeated themselves rejoicingly in his
mind. He felt the need to verify it all himself, and to prove himself
grateful for the quickly-passing day. If the Court shoemaker hadn't
spoken the words that drove him to join the Union he would still have
been standing apart from it all, like a heathen. The act of subscribing
the day before was like a baptism. He felt quite different in the
society of these men--he felt as he did not feel with others. And as the
thousands of voices broke into song, a song of jubilation of the new
times that were to come, a cold shudder went through him. He had a
feeling as though a door within him had opened, and as though something
that had lain closely penned within him had found its way to the light.

Up on the platform stood a darkish man talking earnestly in a mighty
voice. Shoulder to shoulder the crowd stood breathless, listening open-
mouthed, with every face turned fixedly upon the speaker. A few were so
completely under his spell that they reproduced the play of his
features. When he made some particular sally from his citadel a murmur
of admiration ran through the crowd. There was no shouting. He spoke of
want and poverty, of the wearisome, endless wandering that won no
further forward. As the Israelites in their faith bore the Ark of the
Covenant through the wilderness, so the poor bore their hope through the
unfruitful years. If one division was overthrown another was ready with
the carrying-staves, and at last the day was breaking. Now they stood at
the entrance to the Promised Land, with the proof in their hands that
they were the rightful dwellers therein. All that was quite a matter of
course; if there was anything that Pelle had experienced it was that
wearisome wandering of God's people through the wilderness. That was the
great symbol of poverty. The words came to him like something long
familiar. But the greatness of the man's voice affected Pelle; there was
something in the speech of this man which did not reach him through the
understanding, but seemed somehow to burn its way in through the skin,
there to meet something that lay expanding within him. The mere ring of
anger in his voice affected Pelle; his words beat upon one's old wounds,
so that they broke open like poisonous ulcers, and one heaved a deep
breath of relief. Pelle had heard such a voice, ringing over all, when
he lived in the fields and tended cows. He felt as though he too must
let himself go in a great shout and subdue the whole crowd by his voice
--he too! To be able to speak like that, now thundering and now mild,
like the ancient prophets!

A peculiar sense of energy was exhaled by this dense crowd of men, this
thinking and feeling crowd. It produced a singular feeling of strength.
Pelle was no longer the poor journeyman shoemaker, who found it
difficult enough to make his way. He became one, as he stood there, with
that vast being; he felt its strength swelling within him; the little
finger shares in the strength of the whole body. A blind certainty of
irresistibility went out from this mighty gathering, a spur to ride the
storm with. His limbs swelled; he became a vast, monstrous being that
only needed to go trampling onward in order to conquer everything. His
brain was whirling with energy, with illimitable, unconquerable
strength!

Pelle had before this gone soaring on high and had come safely to earth
again. And this time also he came to ground, with a long sigh of relief,
as though he had cast off a heavy burden. Hanne's arm lay in his; he
pressed it slightly. But she did notice him; she too now was far away.
He looked at her pretty neck, and bent forward to see her face. The
great yellow hat threw a golden glimmer over it. Her active intelligence
played restlessly behind her strained, frozen features; her eyes looked
fixedly before her. It has taken hold of her too, he thought, full of
happiness; she is far away from here. It was something wonderful to know
that they were coupled together in the same interests--were like man and
wife!

At that very moment he accidentally noticed the direction of her fixed
gaze, and a sharp pain ran through his heart. Standing on the level
ground, quite apart from the crowd, stood a tall, handsome man,
astonishingly like the owner of Stone Farm in his best days; the
sunlight was coming and going over his brown skin and his soft beard.
Now that he turned his face toward Pelle his big, open features reminded
him of the sea.

Hanne started, as though awakening from a deep sleep, and noticed Pelle.

"He is a sailor!" she said, in a curious, remote voice, although Pelle
had not questioned her. God knows, thought Pelle, vexedly, how is it she
knows him; and he drew his arm from hers. But she took it again at once
and pressed it against her soft bosom. It was as though she suddenly
wanted to give him a feeling of security.

She hung heavily on his arm and stood with her eyes fixed unwaveringly
on the speakers' platform. Her hands busied themselves nervously about
her hair. "You are so restless, child," said the mother, who had seated
herself at their feet. "You might let me lean back against your knee; I
was sitting so comfortably before."

"Yes," said Hanne, and she put herself in the desired position. Her
voice sounded quite excited.

"Pelle," she whispered suddenly, "if he comes over to us I shan't answer
him. I shan't."

"Do you know him, then?"

"No, but it does happen sometimes that men come and speak to one. But
then you'll say I belong to you, won't you?"

Pelle was going to refuse, but a shudder ran through her. She's
feverish, he thought compassionately; one gets fever so easily in the
"Ark." It comes up with the smell out of the sewer. She must have lied
to me nicely, he thought after a while. Women are cunning, but he was
too proud to question her. And then the crowd shouted "Hurrah!" so that
the air rang. Pelle shouted with them; and when they had finished the
man had disappeared.

They went over to the Hill, the old woman keeping her few steps in
advance. Hanne hummed as she went; now and then she looked questioningly
at Pelle--and then went on humming.

"It's nothing to do with me," said Pelle morosely. "But it's not right
of you to have lied to me."

"I lie to you? But Pelle!" She gazed wonderingly into his eyes.

"Yes, that you do! There's something between you and him."

Hanne laughed, a clear, innocent laugh, but suddenly broken off. "No,
Pelle, no, what should I have to do with him? I have never even seen him
before. I have never even once kissed a man--yes, you, but you are my
brother."

"I don't particularly care about being your brother--not a straw, and
you know that!"

"Have I done anything to offend you? I'm sorry if I have." She seized
his hand.

"I want you for my wife!" cried Pelle passionately.

Hanne laughed. "Did you hear, mother? Pelle wants me for his wife!" she
cried, beaming.

"Yes, I see and hear more than you think," said Madam Johnsen shortly.

Hanne looked from one to the other and became serious. "You are so good,
Pelle," she said softly, "but you can't come to me bringing me something
from foreign parts--I know everything about you, but I've never dreamed
of you at night. Are you a fortunate person?"

"I'll soon show you if I am," said Pelle, raising his head. "Only give
me a little time."

"Lord, now she's blethering about fortune again," cried the mother,
turning round. "You really needn't have spoiled this lovely day for us
with your nonsense. I was enjoying it all so."

Hanne laughed helplessly. "Mother will have it that I'm not quite right
in my mind, because father hit me on the head once when I was a little
girl," she told Pelle.

"Yes, it's since then she's had these ideas. She'll do nothing but go
rambling on at random with her ideas and her wishes. She'll sit whole
days at the window and stare, and she used to make the children down in
the yard even crazier than herself with her nonsense. And she was always
bothering me to leave everything standing--poor as we were after my man
died--just to go round and round the room with her and the dolls and
sing those songs all about earls. Yes, Pelle, you may believe I've wept
tears of blood over her."

Hanne wandered on, laughing at her mother's rebuke, and humming--it was
the tune of the "Earl's Song."

"There, you hear her yourself," said the old woman, nudging Pelle.
"She's got no shame in her--there's nothing to be done with her!"

Up on the hill there was a deafening confusion of people in playful
mood; wandering to and fro in groups, blowing into children's trumpets
and "dying pigs," and behaving like frolicsome wild beasts. At every
moment some one tooted in your ear, to make you jump, or you suddenly
discovered that some rogue was fixing something on the back of your
coat. Hanne was nervous; she kept between Pelle and her mother, and
could not stand still. "No, let's go away somewhere--anywhere!" she
said, laughing in bewilderment.

Pelle wanted to treat them to coffee, so they went on till they found a
tent where there was room for them. Hallo! There was the hurdy-gurdy man
from home, on a roundabout, nodding to him as he went whirling round. He
held his hand in front of his mouth like a speaking-trumpet in order to
shout above the noise. "Mother's coming up behind you with the Olsens,"
he roared.

"I can't hear what he says at all," said Madam Johnsen. She didn't care
about meeting people out of the "Ark" to-day.

When the coffee was finished they wandered up and down between the
booths and amused themselves by watching the crowd. Hanne consented to
have her fortune told; it cost five and twenty öre, but she was rewarded
by an unexpected suitor who was coming across the sea with lots of
money. Her eyes shone.

"I could have done it much better than that!" said Madam Johnsen.

"No, mother, for you never foretell me anything but misfortune," replied
Hanne, laughing.

Madam Johnsen met an acquaintance who was selling "dying pigs." She sat
down beside her. "You go over there now and have a bit of a dance while
I rest my tired legs," she said.

The young people went across to the dancing marquee and stood among the
onlookers. From time to time they had five öre worth of dancing. When
other men came up and asked Hanne to dance, she shook her head; she did
not care to dance with any one but Pelle.

The rejected applicants stood a little way off, their hats on the backs
of their heads, and reviled her. Pelle had to reprove her. "You have
offended them," he said, "and perhaps they're screwed and will begin to
quarrel."

"Why should I be forced to dance with anybody, with somebody I don't
know at all?" replied Hanne. "I'm only going to dance with you!" She
made angry eyes, and looked bewitching in her unapproachableness. Pelle
had nothing against being her only partner. He would gladly have fought
for her, had it been needful.

When they were about to go he discovered the foreigner right at the back
of the dancing-tent. He urged Hanne to make haste, but she stood there,
staring absent-mindedly in the midst of the dancers as though she did
not know what was happening around her. The stranger came over to them.
Pelle was certain that Hanne had not seen him.

Suddenly she came to herself and gripped Pelle's arm. "Shan't we go,
then?" she said impatiently, and she quickly dragged him away.

At the doorway the stranger came to meet them and bowed before Hanne.
She did not look at him, but her left arm twitched as though she wanted
to lay it across his shoulders.

"My sweetheart isn't dancing any more; she is tired," said Pelle
shortly, and he led her away.

"A good thing we've come out from there," she cried, with a feeling of
deliverance, as they went back to her mother. "There were no amusing
dancers."

Pelle was taken aback; then she had not seen the stranger, but merely
believed that it had been one of the others who had asked her to dance!
It was inconceivable that she should have seen him; and yet a peculiar
knowledge had enveloped her, as though she had seen obliquely through
her down-dropped eyelids; and then it was well known women could see
round corners! And that twitch of the arm! He did not know what to
think. "Well, it's all one to me," he thought, "for I'm not going to be
led by the nose!"

He had them both on his arm as they returned under the trees to the
station. The old woman was lively; Hanne walked on in silence and let
them both talk. But suddenly she begged Pelle to be quiet a moment; he
looked at her in surprise.

"It's singing so beautifully in my ears; but when you talk then it
stops!"

"Nonsense! Your blood is too unruly," said the mother, "and mouths were
meant to be used."

During the journey Pelle was reserved. Now and again he pressed Hanne's
hand, which lay, warm and slightly perspiring, in his upon the seat.

But the old woman's delight was by no means exhausted, the light shining
from the city and the dark peaceful Sound had their message for her
secluded life, and she began to sing, in a thin, quavering falsetto:

  "Gently the Night upon her silent wings
  Comes, and the stars are bright in east and west;
  And lo, the bell of evening rings;
  And men draw homewards, and the birds all rest."

But from the Triangle onward it was difficult for her to keep step; she
had run herself off her legs.

"Many thanks for to-day," she said to Pelle, down in the courtyard. "To-
morrow one must start work again and clean old uniform trousers. But
it's been a beautiful outing." She waddled forward and up the steps,
groaning a little at the numbers of them, talking to herself.

Hanne stood hesitating. "Why did you say 'my sweetheart'?" she asked
suddenly. "I'm not."

"You told me to," answered Pelle, who would willingly have said more.

"Oh, well!" said Hanne, and she ran up the stairs. "Goodnight, Pelle!"
she called down to him.



IV


Pelle was bound to the "Family" by peculiar ties. The three orphans were
the first to reach him a friendly helping hand when he stood in the open
street three days after his landing, robbed of his last penny.

He had come over feeling important enough. He had not slept all night on
his bench between decks among the cattle. Excitement had kept him awake;
and he lay there making far-reaching plans concerning himself and his
twenty-five kroner. He was up on deck by the first light of morning,
gazing at the shore, where the great capital with its towers and
factory-chimneys showed out of the mist. Above the city floated its
misty light, which reddened in the morning sun, and gave a splendor to
the prospect. And the passage between the forts and the naval harbor was
sufficiently magnificent to impress him. The crowd on the landing-stage
before the steamer laid alongside and the cabmen and porters began
shouting and calling, was enough to stupefy him, but he had made up his
mind beforehand that nothing should disconcert him. It would have been
difficult enough in any case to disentangle himself from all this
confusion.

And then Fortune herself was on his side. Down on the quay stood a
thick-set, jovial man, who looked familiarly at Pelle; he did not shout
and bawl, but merely said quietly, "Good-day, countryman," and offered
Pelle board and lodging for two kroner a day. It was good to find a
countryman in all this bustle, and Pelle confidingly put himself in his
hands. He was remarkably helpful; Pelle was by no means allowed to carry
the green chest. "I'll soon have that brought along!" said the man, and
he answered everything with a jolly "I'll soon arrange that; you just
leave that to me!"

When three days had gone by, he presented Pelle with a circumstantial
account, which amounted exactly to five and twenty kroner. It was a
curious chance that Pelle had just that amount of money. He was not
willing to be done out of it, but the boarding-house keeper, Elleby,
called in a policeman from the street, and Pelle had to pay.

He was standing in the street with his green box, helpless and
bewildered, not knowing what to be about. Then a little boy came
whistling up to him and asked if he could not help him. "I can easily
carry the box alone, to wherever you want it, but it will cost twenty-
five öre and ten öre for the barrow. But if I just take one handle it
will be only ten ore," he said, and he looked Pelle over in a business-
like manner. He did not seem to be more than nine or ten years old.

"But I don't know where I shall go," said Pelle, almost crying. "I've
been turned out on the street and have nowhere where I can turn. I am
quite a stranger here in the city and all my money has been taken from
me."

The youngster made a gesture in the air as though butting something with
his head. "Yes, that's a cursed business. You've fallen into the hands
of the farmer-catchers, my lad. So you must come home with us--you can
very well stay with us, if you don't mind lying on the floor."

"But what will your parents say if you go dragging me home?"

"I haven't any parents, and Marie and Peter, they'll say nothing. Just
come with me, and, after all, you can get work with old Pipman. Where do
you come from?"

"From Bornholm."

"So did we! That's to say, a long time ago, when we were quite children.
Come along with me, countryman!" The boy laughed delightedly and seized
one handle of the chest.

It was also, to be sure, a fellow-countryman who had robbed him; but
none the less he went with the boy; it was not in Pelle's nature to be
distrustful.

So he had entered the "Ark," under the protection of a child. The
sister, a little older than the other two, found little Karl's action
entirely reasonable, and the three waifs, who had formerly been shy and
retiring, quickly attached themselves to Pelle. They found him in the
street and treated him like an elder comrade, who was a stranger, and
needed protection. They afforded him his first glimpse of the great city,
and they helped him to get work from Pipman.

On the day after the outing in the forest, Pelle moved over to the row
of attics, into a room near the "Family," which was standing empty just
then. Marie helped him to get tidy and to bring his things along, and
with an easier mind he shook himself free of his burdensome relations
with Pipman. There was an end of his profit-sharing, and all the
recriminations which were involved in it. Now he could enter into direct
relations with the employers and look his comrades straight in the eyes.
For various reasons it had been a humiliating time; but he had no
feeling of resentment toward Pipman; he had learned more with him in a
few months than during his whole apprenticeship at home.

He obtained a few necessary tools from an ironmonger, and bought a bench
and a bed for ready money. From the master-shoemaker he obtained as a
beginning some material for children's shoes, which he made at odd
times. His principal living he got from Master Beck in Market Street.

Beck was a man of the old school; his clientele consisted principally of
night watchmen, pilots, and old seamen, who lived out in Kristianshavn.
Although he was born and had grown up in Copenhagen, he was like a
country shoemaker to look at, going about in canvas slippers which his
daughter made for him, and in the mornings he smoked his long pipe at
the house-door. He had old-fashioned views concerning handwork, and was
delighted with Pelle, who could strain any piece of greased leather and
was not afraid to strap a pair of old dubbin'd boots with it. Beck's
work could not well be given out to do at home, and Pelle willingly
established himself in the workshop and was afraid of no work that came
his way. But he would not accept bed and board from his master in the
old-fashioned way.

From the very first day this change was an improvement. He worked heart
and soul and began to put by something with which to pay off his debt to
Sort. Now he saw the day in the distance when he should be able to send
for Father Lasse.

In the morning, when the dwellers on the roof, drunken with sleep,
tumbled out into the long gangway, in order to go to their work, before
the quarter-to-six whistle sounded, Pelle already sat in his room
hammering on his cobbler's last. About seven o'clock he went to Beck's
workshop, if there was anything for him to do there. And he received
orders too from the dwellers in the "Ark."

In connection with this work he acquired an item of practical
experience, an idea which was like a fruitful seed which lay germinating
where it fell and continually produced fresh fruit. It was equivalent to
an improvement in his circumstances to discover that he had shaken off
one parasite; if only he could send the other after him and keep all his
profits for himself!

That sounded quite fantastic, but Pelle had no desire to climb up to the
heights only to fall flat on the earth again. He had obtained certain
tangible experience, and he wanted to know how far it would take him.
While he sat there working he pursued the question in and out among his
thoughts, so that he could properly consider it.

Pipman was superfluous as a middleman; one could get a little work
without the necessity of going to him and pouring a flask of brandy down
his thirsty gullet. But was it any more reasonable that the shoes Pelle
made should go to the customer by way of the Court shoemaker and yield
him carriages and high living? Could not Pelle himself establish
relations with his customers? And shake off Meyer as he had shaken off
Pipman? Why, of course! It was said that the Court shoemaker paid taxes
on a yearly income of thirty thousand kroner. "That ought to be evenly
divided among all those who work for him!" thought Pelle, as he hammered
away at his pegs. "Then Father Lasse wouldn't need to stay at home a day
longer, or drag himself through life so miserably."

Here was something which he could take in hand with the feeling that he
was setting himself a practical problem in economics--and one that
apparently had nothing to do with his easy belief in luck. This idea was
always lurking somewhere in secrecy, and held him upright through
everything--although it did not afford him any definite assistance. A
hardly earned instinct told him that it was only among poor people that
this idea could be developed. This belief was his family inheritance,
and he would retain it faithfully through all vicissitudes; as millions
had done before him, always ready to cope with the unknown, until they
reached the grave and resigned the inherited dream. There lay hope for
himself in this, but if he miscarried, the hope itself would remain in
spite of him. With Fortune there was no definite promise of tangible
success for the individual, but only a general promise, which was
maintained through hundreds of years of servitude with something of the
long patience of eternity.

Pelle bore the whole endless wandering within himself: it lay deep in
his heart, like a great and incomprehensible patience. In his world,
capacity was often great enough, but resignation was always greater. It
was thoroughly accustomed to see everything go to ruin and yet to go on
hoping.

Often enough during the long march, hope had assumed tones like those of
"David's City with streets of gold," or "Paradise," or "The splendor of
the Lord returns." He himself had questioningly given ear; but never
until now had the voice of hope sounded in a song that had to do with
food and clothing, house and farm; so how was he to find his way?

He could only sit and meditate the problem as to how he should obtain,
quickly and easily, a share in the good things of this world;
presumptuously, and with an impatience for which he himself could not
have accounted.

And round about him things were happening in the same way. An awakening
shudder was passing through the masses. They no longer wandered on and
on with blind and patient surrender, but turned this way and that in
bewildered consultation. The miracle was no longer to be accomplished of
itself when the time was fulfilled. For an evil power had seized upon
their great hope, and pressed her knees together so that she could not
bring forth; they themselves must help to bring happiness into the
world!

The unshakable fatalism which hitherto had kept them on their difficult
path was shattered; the masses would no longer allow themselves to be
held down in stupid resignation. Men who all their lives had plodded
their accustomed way to and from their work now stood still and asked
unreasonable questions as to the aim of it all. Even the simple ventured
to cast doubts upon the established order of things. Things were no
longer thus because they must be; there was a painful cause of poverty.
That was the beginning of the matter; and now they conceived a desire to
master life; their fingers itched to be tearing down something that
obstructed them--but what it was they did not know.

All this was rather like a whirlpool; all boundaries disappeared.
Unfamiliar powers arose, and the most good-natured became suspicious or
were frankly bewildered. People who had hitherto crawled like dogs in
order to win their food were now filled with self-will, and preferred to
be struck down rather than bow down of their own accord. Prudent folks
who had worked all their lives in one place could no longer put up with
the conditions, and went at a word. Their hard-won endurance was
banished from their minds, and those who had quietly borne the whole
burden on their shoulders were now becoming restive; they were as
unwilling and unruly as a pregnant woman. It was as though they were
acting under the inward compulsion of an invisible power, and were
striving to break open the hard shell which lay over something new
within them. One could perceive that painful striving in their
bewildered gaze and in their sudden crazy grasp at the empty air.

There was something menacing in the very uncertainty which possessed the
masses. It was as though they were listening for a word to sound out of
the darkness. Swiftly they resolved to banish old custom and convention
from their minds, in order to make room there. On every side men
continually spoke of new things, and sought blindly to find their way to
them; it was a matter of course that the time had come and the promised
land was about to be opened to them. They went about in readiness to
accomplish something--what, they did not know; they formed themselves
into little groups; they conducted unfortunate strikes, quite at random.
Others organized debating societies, and began in weighty speech to
squabble about the new ideas--which none of them knew anything about.
These were more particularly the young men. Many of them had come to the
city in search of fortune, as had Pelle himself, and these were full of
burning restlessness. There was something violent and feverish about
them.

Such was the situation when Pelle entered the capital. It was chaotic;
there was no definite plan by which they could reach their goal. The
masses no longer supported one another, but were in a state of solution,
bewildered and drifting about in the search for something that would
weld them together. In the upper ranks of society people noted nothing
but the insecurity of the position of the workers; people complained of
their restlessness, a senseless restlessness which jeopardized revenue
and aggravated foreign competition. A few thoughtful individuals saw the
people as one great listening ear; new preachers were arising who wanted
to lead the crowd by new ways to God. Pelle now and again allowed the
stream to carry him into such quarters, but he did allow himself to be
caught; it was only the old story over again; there was nothing in it.
Nobody now was satisfied with directions how to reach heaven--the new
prophets disappeared as quickly as they had arisen.

But in the midst of all this confusion there was one permanent center,
one community, which had steadily increased during the years, and had
fanatically endured the scorn and the persecution of those above and
below, until it at last possessed several thousand of members. It stood
fast in the maelstrom and obstinately affirmed that its doctrines were
those of the future. And now the wind seemed to be filling its sails; it
replied after its own fashion to the impatient demands for a heaven to
be enjoyed here on earth and an attainable happiness.

Pelle had been captured by the new doctrines out by the Schleswig Stone,
and had thrown himself, glowing and energetic, into the heart of the
movement. He attended meetings and discussions, his ears on the alert to
absorb anything really essential; for his practical nature called for
something palpable whereupon his mind could get to work. Deep within his
being was a mighty flux, like that of a river beneath its ice; and at
times traces of it rose to the surface, and alarmed him. Yet he had no
power to sound the retreat; and when he heard the complaint, in respect
of the prevailing unrest, that it endangered the welfare of the nation,
he was not able to grasp the connection.

"It's preposterous that they should knock off work without any reason,"
he once told Morten, when the baker's driver had thrown up his place.
"Like your driver, for example--he had no ground for complaint."

"Perhaps he suddenly got a pain between the legs because his ancestor
great-grandfather was once made to ride on a wooden horse--he came from
the country," said Morten solemnly.

Pelle looked at him quickly. He did not like Morten's ambiguous manner
of expressing himself. It made him feel insecure.

"Can't you talk reasonably?" he said. "I can't understand you."

"No? And yet that's quite reason enough--there have been lots of reasons
since his great-grandfather's days. What the devil--why should they want
a reason referring to yesterday precisely? Don't you realize that the
worker, who has so long been working the treadmill in the belief that
the movement was caused by somebody else, has suddenly discovered that
it's he that keeps the whole thing in motion? For that's what is going
on. The poor man is not merely a slave who treads the wheel, and had a
handful of meal shoved down his gullet now and again to keep him from
starving to death. He is on the point of discovering that he performs a
higher service, look you! And now the movement is altering--it is
continuing of itself! But that you probably can't see," he added, as he
noted Pelle's incredulous expression.

"No, for I'm not one of the big-bellies," said Pelle, laughing, "and
you're no prophet, to prophesy such great things. And I have enough
understanding to realize that if you want to make a row you must
absolutely have something definite to make a fuss about, otherwise it
won't work. But that about the wooden horse isn't good enough!"

"That's just the point about lots of fusses," Morten replied. "There's
no need to give a pretext for anything that everybody's interested in."

Pelle pondered further over all this while at work. But these
deliberations did not proceed as in general; as a rule, such matters as
were considered in his world of thought were fixed by the generations
and referred principally to life and death. He had to set to work in a
practical manner, and to return to his own significant experience.

Old Pipman was superfluous; that Pelle himself had proved. And there was
really no reason why he should not shake off the Court shoemaker as
well; the journeymen saw to the measuring and the cutting-out; indeed,
they did the whole work. He was also really a parasite, who had placed
himself at the head of them all, and was sucking up their profits. But
then Morten was right with his unabashed assertion that the working-man
carried on the whole business! Pelle hesitated a little over this
conclusion; he cautiously verified the fact that it was in any case
valid in his craft. There was some sense in winning back his own--but
how?

His sound common-sense demanded something that would take the place of
Meyer and the other big parasites. It wouldn't do for every journeyman
to sit down and botch away on his own account, like a little employer;
he had seen that plainly enough in the little town at home; it was mere
bungling.

So he set himself to work out a plan for a cooperative business. A
number of craftsmen should band together, each should contribute his
little capital, and a place of business would be selected. The work
would be distributed according to the various capacities of the men, and
they would choose one from their midst who would superintend the whole.
In this way the problem could be solved--every man would receive the
full profit of his work.

When he had thoroughly thought out his plan, he went to Morten.

"They've already put that into practice!" cried Morten, and he pulled
out a book. "But it didn't work particularly well. Where did you get the
idea from?"

"I thought it out myself," answered Pelle self-consciously.

Morten looked a trifle incredulous; then he consulted the book, and
showed Pelle that his idea was described there--almost word for word--as
a phase of the progressive movement. The book was a work on Socialism.

But Pelle did not lose heart on that account! He was proud to have hit
on something that others had worked out before him--and learned people,
too! He began to have confidence in his own ideas, and eagerly attended
lectures and meetings. He had energy and courage, that he knew. He would
try to make himself efficient, and then he would seek out those at the
head of things, who were preparing the way, and would offer them his
services.

Hitherto Fortune had always hovered before his eyes, obscurely, like a
fairy-tale, as something that suddenly swooped down upon a man and
lifted him to higher regions, while all those who were left behind gazed
longingly after him--that was the worst of it! But now he perceived new
paths, which for all those that were in need led on to fortune, just as
the "Great Power" had fancied in the hour of his death. He did not quite
understand where everything was to come from, but that was just the
thing he must discover.

All this kept his mind in a state of new and unaccustomed activity. He
was not used to thinking things out for himself, but had until now
always adhered to the ideas which had been handed down from generation
to generation as established--and he often found it difficult and
wearisome. Then he would try to shelve the whole subject, in order to
escape from it; but it always returned to him.

When he was tired, Hanne regained her influence over him, and then he
went over to see her in the evenings. He knew very well that this would
lead to nothing good. To picture for himself a future beside Hanne
seemed impossible; for her only the moment existed. Her peculiar nature
had a certain power over him--that was all. He often vowed to himself
that he would not allow her to make a fool of him--but he always went
over to see her again. He must try to conquer her--and then take the
consequences.

One day, when work was over, he strolled across to see her. There was no
one on the gallery, so he went into the little kitchen.

"Is that you, Pelle?" Hanne's voice sounded from the living-room. "Come
in, then!"

She had apparently been washing her body, and was now sitting in a white
petticoat and chemise, and combing her beautiful hair. There was
something of the princess about her; she took such care of her body, and
knew how it should be done. The mirror stood before her, on the window-
sill; from the little back room one could see, between the roofs and the
mottled party-wall, the prison and the bridge and the canal that ran
beneath it. Out beyond the Exchange the air was gray and streaked with
the tackle of ships.

Pelle sat down heavily by the stove, his elbows on his knees, and gazed
on the floor. He was greatly moved. If only the old woman would come! "I
believe I'll go out," he thought, "and behave as though I were looking
out for her." But he remained sitting there. Against the wall was the
double bed with its red-flowered counterpane, while the table stood by
the opposite wall, with the chairs pushed under it. "She shouldn't drive
me too far," he thought, "or perhaps it'll end in my seizing her, and
then she'll have her fingers burnt!"

"Why don't you talk to me, Pelle?" said Hanne.

He raised his head and looked at her in the mirror. She was holding the
end of her plait in her mouth, and looked like a kitten biting its tail.

"Oh, what should I talk about?" he replied morosely.

"You are angry with me, but it isn't fair of you--really, it isn't fair!
Is it my fault that I'm so terrified of poverty? Oh, how it does
frighten me! It has always been like that ever since I was born, and you
are poor too, Pelle, as poor as I am! What would become of us both? We
know the whole story!"

"What will become of us?" said Pelle.

"That I don't know, and it's all the same to me--only it must be
something I don't know all about. Everything is so familiar if one is
poor--one knows every stitch of one's clothes by heart; one can watch
them wearing out. If you'd only been a sailor, Pelle!"

"Have you seen _him_ again?" asked Pelle.

Hanne laughingly shook her head. "No; but I believe something will
happen--something splendid. Out there lies a great ship--I can see it
from the window. It's full of wonderful things, Pelle."

"You are crazy!" said Pelle scornfully. "That's a bark--bound for the
coal quay. She comes from England with coals."

"That may well be," replied Hanne indifferently. "I don't mind that.
There's something in me singing, 'There lies the ship, and it has
brought something for me from foreign parts.' And you needn't grudge me
my happiness."

But now her mother came in, and began to mimic her.

"Yes, out there lies the ship that has brought me something--out there
lies the ship that has brought me something! Good God! Haven't you had
enough of listening to your own crazy nonsense? All through your
childhood you've sat there and made up stories and looked out for the
ship! We shall soon have had enough of it! And you let Pelle sit there
and watch you uncovering your youth--aren't you ashamed of yourself?"

"Pelle's so good, mother--and he's my brother, too. He thinks nothing of
it."

"Thinks nothing of it? Yes, he does; he thinks how soft and white your
bosom is! And he's fit to cry inside of him because he mustn't lay his
head there. I, too, have known what it is to give joy, in my young
days."

Hanne blushed from her bosom upward. She threw a kerchief over her bosom
and ran into the kitchen.

The mother looked after her.

"She's got a skin as tender as that of a king's daughter. Wouldn't one
think she was a cuckoo's child? Her father couldn't stand her. 'You've
betrayed me with some fine gentleman'--he used so often to say that. 'We
poor folks couldn't bring a piece like that into the world!' 'As God
lives, Johnsen,' I used to say, 'you and no other are the girl's
father.' But he used to beat us--he wouldn't believe me. He used to fly
into a rage when he looked at the child, and he hated us both because
she was so fine. So its no wonder that she had gone a bit queer in the
head. You can believe she's cost me tears of blood, Pelle. But you let
her be, Pelle. I could wish you could get her, but it wouldn't be best
for you, and it isn't good for you to have her playing with you. And if
you got her after all, it would be even worse. A woman's whims are poor
capital for setting up house with."

Pelle agreed with her in cold blood; he had allowed himself to he
fooled, and was wasting his youth upon a path that led nowhere. But now
there should be an end of it.

Hanne came back and looked at him, radiant, full of visions. "Will you
take me for a walk, Pelle?" she asked him.

"Yes!" answered Pelle joyfully, and he threw all his good resolutions
overboard.



V


Pelle and his little neighbor used to compete as to which of them should
be up first in the morning. When she was lucky and had to wake him her
face was radiant with pride. It sometimes happened that he would lie in
bed a little longer, so that he should not deprive her of a pleasure,
and when she knocked on the wall he would answer in a voice quite stupid
with drowsiness. But sometimes her childish years demanded the sleep
that was their right, when Pelle would move about as quietly as
possible, and then, at half-past six, it would be his turn to knock on
the wall. On these occasions she would feel ashamed of herself all the
morning. Her brothers were supposed to get their early coffee and go to
work by six o'clock. Peter, who was the elder, worked in a tin-plate
works, while Earl sold the morning papers, and undertook every possible
kind of occasional work as well; this he had to hunt for, and you could
read as much in his whole little person. There was something restless
and nomadic about him, as though his thoughts were always seeking some
outlet.

It was quite a lively neighborhood at this time of day; across the floor
of the well, and out through the tunnel-like entry there was an endless
clattering of footsteps, as the hundreds of the "Ark" tumbled out into
the daylight, half tipsy with sleep, dishevelled, with evidence of hasty
rising in their eyes and their garments, smacking their lips as though
they relished the contrast between the night and day, audibly yawning as
they scuttled away. Up in Pelle's long gangway factory girls, artisans,
and newspaper women came tumbling out, half naked; they were always
late, and stood there scolding until their turn came to wash themselves.
There was only one lavatory at either end of the gangway, and there was
only just time to sluice their eyes and wake themselves up. The doors of
all the rooms stood open; the odors of night were heavy on the air.

On the days when Pelle worked at home little Marie was in high spirits.
She sang and hummed continually, with her curiously small voice, and
every few minutes she would run in and offer Pelle her services. At such
times she would station herself behind him and stand there in silence,
watching the progress of his work, while her breathing was audibly
perceptible, as a faint, whistling sound. There was a curious, still,
brooding look about her little under-grown figure that reminded Pelle of
Morten's unhappy sister; something hard and undeveloped, as in the fruit
of a too-young tree. But the same shadow did not lie upon her; childish
toil had not steeped her as with a bitter sap; only her outer shell was
branded by it. There was about her, on the contrary, a gleam of careful
happiness, as though things had turned out much better than she had
expected. Perhaps this was because she could see the result of her hard
childish labors; no one could scatter that to the winds.

She was a capable little housewife, and her brothers respected her, and
faithfully brought home what they earned. Then she took what she needed,
laid something by toward the rent, in a box which was put away in the
chest of drawers, and gave them something wherewith to amuse themselves.
"They must have something!" she told people; "besides, men always need
money in their pockets. But they deserve it, for they have never yet
spent a farthing in drink. On Saturday nights they always come straight
home with their earnings. But now I must get on with my work; it's
dreadful how the time runs through one's hands."

She talked just like a young married woman, and Pelle inwardly chuckled
over her.

After a while she would peep in again; it was time for Pelle to have a
bite of something; or else she would bring her mending with her and sit
down on the edge of a chair.

She was always in a fidget lest a saucepan should boil over, or
something else go amiss.

At such times they had long, sensible talks. Little Marie did not care
about gossip; but there were plenty of serious things which had to be
talked over; the difficult times, Marie's parents, and then the
wonderful fact that they had met one another once before, a long time
ago; that was an event which provided her with an inexhaustible mine of
discussion, although she herself could not remember the occasion.

But Pelle remembered it all quite well, and over and over again he had
to tell her how one day at home he had gone down to the harbor, in order
to show old Thatcher Holm the steamers; and she always laughed when she
heard how Holm had run away in his alarm every time the steam-crane blew
off steam. And then? Yes, the steamer was just on the point of taking on
board a heap of furniture, old beds, tables, and the like.

"That was all ours!" cried Marie, clapping her hands. "We still had a
few things then. We took them to the pawn-shop when father lay ill after
his fall." And then she would meet his gaze, asking for more.

And in the midst of all the furniture stood a man with a fine old mirror
in his arms. Thatcher Holm knew him, and had a talk with him.

"He was crying, wasn't he?" asked Marie compassionately. "Father was so
unhappy, because things were going so badly with us."

And then she herself would talk about the hotel, down among the cliffs
of the east coast, and of the fine guests who came there in summer.
Three years they had kept the hotel, and Pelle had to name the sum out
of which her father had been cheated. She was proud that they had once
possessed so much. Ten thousand kroner!

Over here her father had found work as a stonemason's laborer, but one
day he trod on a loose beam and fell. For a few months he lay sick, and
all their household goods found their way to the pawn-shop; then he
died, and then they came to the "Ark." Their mother did washing out of
doors, but at last she became queer in the head. She could not bear
unhappiness, and neglected her housework, to run about seeking
consolation from all sorts of religious sects. At last she was quite
demented, and one day she disappeared. It was believed that she had
drowned herself in the canal. "But things are going well with us now,"
Marie always concluded; "now there's nothing to worry about."

"But don't you get tired of having all this to look after?" Pelle would
ask, wondering.

She would look at him in astonishment. "Why should I be tired? There's
not more than one can manage--if one only knows how to manage. And the
children never make things difficult for me; they are pleased with
everything I do."

The three orphans struggled on as well as they could, and were quite
proud of their little household. When things went badly with them, they
went hungry, and took serious counsel together; but they accepted help
from no one. They lived in the continual fear that the police would get
to know of their position, and haul them off to school. Then they would
be forcibly separated and brought up at the expense of the poorrates.
They were shy, and "kept themselves to themselves." In the "Ark"
everybody liked them, and helped them to keep their secret. The other
inmates managed their family affairs as best they could; there was
always a scandal somewhere. It was a sort of satisfaction to have these
three children living so decently in the midst of all this hotch-potch.
People thought a great deal of their little model household, and
protected it as though it had been a sanctuary.

To Pelle they attached themselves blindly. They had picked him up out of
the streets, and they certainly regarded him to some extent as a
foundling who was still under their protection. When Marie had given the
boys their morning coffee, she carried some in to Pelle--it was no use
protesting. And in the mornings, when she was busy indoors by herself,
she would go round to him with broom and bucket. Her precocious,
intelligent face was beaming with circumspection and the desire to help.
She did not ask permission, but set to work where need was. If Pelle was
away at Beck's workshop, he always found his room clean and tidy in the
evening.

If he had work at home, she would bring coffee for the two of them
during the morning. He did not dare to drive her away, for she would
take that to heart, and would go about offended all the rest of the day;
so he would run below to fetch a roll of white bread. Marie always found
some pretext for putting aside her share for the boys; it gave her no
real pleasure to enjoy anything by herself.

Pelle felt that he was making headway; and he was conscious of his own
youth. He was continually in the rosiest of humors, and even Hanne could
not throw any real shadow over his existence. In his relations with her
there was something of a beautiful unreality; they left no permanent
scar upon his heart.

He felt quite simply ashamed in the presence of this much tried child,
whenever something cropped up to put him out of temper. He felt it was
his duty to brighten her poverty-stricken life with his high spirits. He
chatted merrily to her, chaffed her, teased her, to charm her from her
unnatural solemnity. And she would smile, in her quiet, motherly
fashion, as one smiles at a much-loved child who seeks to drive away our
cares--and would then offer to do something for him.

"Shall I wash out your blouse or do up your shirt?" she would ask. Her
gratitude always found its expression in some kind of work.

"No, thanks, Marie; Hanne and her mother look after that."

"But that's not work for the Princess--I can do it much better."

"The Princess?" said Pelle, raising his head. "Is that what they call
her?"

"Only us children--we don't mean it unkindly. But we always played at
there being a princess when she was with us--and she was always the
princess. But do you know what? Some one will come and take her away--
some one very distinguished. She has been promised from the cradle to a
fine gentleman."

"What nonsense!" said Pelle crossly.

"But that's really true! When it rained we used to sit under the
gallery--in the corner by the dustbin--and she used to tell us--and it's
really true! And, besides, don't you think she's fascinating? She's
really just like a princess--like that!" Marie made a gesture in the air
with her fingers outspread. "And she knows everything that is going to
happen. She used to run down to us, in the courtyard, in her long dress,
and her mother used to stand up above and call her; then she'd sit on
the grating as if it was a throne and she was the queen and we were her
ladies. She used to braid our hair, and then dress it beautifully with
colored ribbons, and when I came up here again mother used to tear it
all down and make my hair rough again. It was a sin against God to deck
one's self out like that, she said. And when mother disappeared I hadn't
time to play down there any more."

"Poor little girl!" said Pelle, stroking her hair.

"Why do you say that?" she asked him, looking at him in astonishment.

He enjoyed her absolute confidence, and was told things that the boys
were not allowed to know. She began to dress more carefully, and her
fine fair hair was always brushed smoothly back from her forehead. She
was delighted when they both had some errand in the city. Then she put
on her best and went through the streets at his side, her whole face
smiling. "Now perhaps people will think we are a couple of lovers--but
what does it matter? Let them think it!" Pelle laughed; with her
thirteen years she was no bigger than a child of nine, so backward in
growth was she.

She often found it difficult to make both ends meet; she would say
little or nothing about it, but a kind of fear would betray itself in
her expression. Then Pelle would speak cheerfully of the good times that
would soon be coming for all poor people. It cost him a great deal of
exertion to put this in words so as to make it sound as it ought to
sound. His thoughts were still so new--even to himself. But the children
thought nothing of his unwieldy speech; to them it was easier to believe
in the new age than it was to him.



VI


Pelle was going through a peculiar change at this time. He had seen
enough need and poverty in his life; and the capital was simply a
battlefield on which army upon army had rushed forward and had miserably
been defeated. Round about him lay the fallen. The town was built over
them as over a cemetery; one had to tread upon them in order to win
forward and harden one's heart. Such was life in these days; one shut
one's eyes--like the sheep when they see their comrades about to be
slaughtered--and waited until one's own turn came. There was nothing
else to do.

But now he was awake and suffering; it hurt him with a stabbing pain
whenever he saw others suffer; and he railed against misfortune,
unreasonable though it might be.

There came a day when he sat working at home. At the other end of the
gangway a factory girl with her child had moved in a short while before.
Every morning she locked the door and went to work--and she did not
return until the evening. When Pelle came home he could hear the sound
of crying within the room.

He sat at his work, wrestling with his confused ideas. And all the time
a curious stifled sound was in his ears--a grievous sound, as though
something were incessantly complaining. Perhaps it was only the dirge of
poverty itself, some strophe of which was always vibrating upon the air.

Little Marie came hurrying in. "Oh, Pelle, it's crying again!" she said,
and she wrung her hands anxiously upon her hollow chest. "It has cried
all day, ever since she came here--it is horrible!"

"We'll go and see what's wrong," said Pelle, and he threw down his
hammer.

The door was locked; they tried to look through the keyhole, but could
see nothing. The child within stopped its crying for a moment, as though
it heard them, but it began again at once; the sound was low and
monotonous, as though the child was prepared to hold out indefinitely.
They looked at one another; it was unendurable.

"The keys on this gangway do for all the doors," said Marie, under her
breath. With one leap Pelle had rushed indoors, obtained his key, and
opened the door.

Close by the door sat a little four-year-old boy; he stared up at them,
holding a rusty tin vessel in his hand. He was tied fast to the stove;
near him, on an old wooden stool, was a tin plate containing a few half-
nibbled crusts of bread. The child was dressed in filthy rags and
presented a shocking appearance. He sat in his own filth; his little
hands were covered with it. His tearful, swollen face was smeared all
over with it. He held up his hands to them beseechingly.

Pelle burst into tears at the horrible sight and wanted to pick the
child up. "Let me do that!" cried Marie, horrified. "You'll make
yourself filthy!"

"What then?" said Pelle stupidly. He helped to untie the child; his
hands were trembling.

To some extent they got the child to rights and gave him food. Then they
let him loose in the long gangway. For a time he stood stupidly gaping
by the doorpost; then he discovered that he was not tied up, and began
to rush up and down. He still held in his hand the old tea-strainer
which he had been grasping when they rescued him; he had held on to it
convulsively all the time. Marie had to dip his hand in the water in
order to clean the strainer.

From time to time he stood in front of Pelle's open door, and peeped
inside. Pelle nodded to him, when he went storming up and down again--he
was like a wild thing. But suddenly he came right in, laid the tea-
strainer in Pelle's lap and looked at him. "Am I to have that?" asked
Pelle. "Look, Marie, he is giving me the only thing he's got!"

"Oh, poor little thing!" cried Marie pityingly. "He wants to thank you!"

In the evening the factory girl came rushing in; she was in a rage, and
began to abuse them for breaking into her room. Pelle wondered at
himself, that he was able to answer her so quietly instead of railing
back at her. But he understood very well that she was ashamed of her
poverty and did not want any one else to see it. "It is unkind to the
child," was all he said. "And yet you are fond of it!"

Then she began to cry. "I have to tie him up, or he climbs out over the
window-sill and runs into the street--he got to the corner once before.
And I've no clothes, to take him to the crêche!"

"Then leave the door open on the gangway! We will look after him, Marie
and I."

After this the child tumbled about the gangway and ran to and fro. Marie
looked after him, and was like a mother to him. Pelle bought some old
clothes, and they altered them to fit him. The child looked very droll
in them; he was a little goblin who took everything in good part. In his
loneliness he had not learned to speak, but now speech came quickly to
him.

In Pelle this incident awakened something quite novel. Poverty he had
known before, but now he saw the injustice that lay beneath it, and
cried to heaven. His hands would suddenly clench with anger as he sat so
quietly in his room. Here was something one must hasten forward, without
intermission, day and night, as long as one drew breath--Morten was
right about that! This child's father was a factory hand, and the girl
dared not summon him before the magistrates in order to make him pay for
its support for fear of being dismissed from her place. The whole
business seemed so hopeless--society seemed so unassailable--yet he felt
that he must strike a blow. His own hands alone signified so little; but
if they could only strike the blow all together--then perhaps it would
have some effect.

In the evenings he and Morten went to meetings where the situation was
passionately discussed. Those who attended these meetings were mostly
young people like himself. They met in some inn by the North Bridge. But
Pelle longed to see some result, and applied himself eagerly to the
organization of his own craft.

He inspired the weary president with his own zeal, and they prepared
together a list of all the members of their trade--as the basis of a
more vigorous agitation. When the "comrades" were invited to a meeting
through the press, they turned lazy and failed to appear. More effectual
means were needed; and Pelle started a house-to-house agitation. This
helped immediately; they were in a dilemma when one got them face to
face, and the Union was considerably increased, in spite of the
persecution of the big masters.

Morten began to treat him with respect; and wanted him to read about the
movement. But Pelle had no time for that. Together with Peter and Karl,
who were extremely zealous, he took in _The Working Man_, and that
was enough for him. "I know more about poverty than they write there,"
he said.

There was no lack of fuel to keep this fire burning. He had participated
in the march of poverty, from the country to the town and thence to the
capital, and there they stood and could go no farther for all their
longing, but perished on a desert shore. The many lives of the "Ark" lay
always before his eyes as a great common possession, where no one need
conceal himself, and where the need of the one was another's grief.

His nature was at this time undergoing a great change. There was an end
of his old careless acceptance of things. He laughed less and performed
apparently trivial actions with an earnestness which had its comical
side. And he began to display an appearance of self-respect which seemed
ill-justified by his position and his poverty.

One evening, when work was over, as he came homeward from Beck's
workshop, he heard the children singing Hanne's song down in the
courtyard. He stood still in the tunnel-like entry; Hanne herself stood
in the midst of a circle, and the children were dancing round her and
singing:

  "I looked from the lofty mountain
  Down over vale and lea,
  And I saw a ship come sailing,
     Sailing, sailing,
  I saw a ship come sailing,
  And on it were lordlings three."

On Hanne's countenance lay a blind, fixed smile; her eyes were tightly
closed. She turned slowly about as the children sang, and she sang
softly with them:

  "The youngest of all the lordlings
  Who on the ship did stand..."

But suddenly she saw Pelle and broke out of the circle. She went up the
stairs with him. The children, disappointed, stood calling after her.

"Aren't you coming to us this evening?" she asked. "It is so long since
we have seen you."

"I've no time. I've got an appointment," replied Pelle briefly.

"But you must come! I beg you to, Pelle." She looked at him pleadingly,
her eyes burning.

Pelle's heart began to thump as he met her gaze. "What do you want with
me?" he asked sharply.

Hanne stood still, gazing irresolutely into the distance.

"You must help me, Pelle," she said, in a toneless voice, without
meeting his eye.

"Yesterday I met.... Yesterday evening, as I was coming out of the
factory ... he stood down below here ... he knows where I live. I went
across to the other side and behaved as though I did not see him; but he
came up to me and said I was to go to the New Market this evening!"

"And what did you say to that?" answered Pelle sulkily.

"I didn't say anything--I ran as hard as I could!"

"Is that all you want me for?" cried Pelle harshly. "You can keep away
from him, if you don't want him!"

A cold shudder ran through her. "But if he comes here to look for
me?... And you are so.... I don't care for anybody in the world but you
and mother!" She spoke passionately.

"Well, well, I'll come over to you," answered Pelle cheerfully.

He dressed himself quickly and went across. The old woman was delighted
to see him. Hanne was quite frolicsome; she rallied him continually, and
it was not long before he had abandoned his firm attitude and allowed
himself to be drawn into the most delightful romancing. They sat out on
the gallery under the green foliage, Hanne's face glowing to rival the
climbing pelargonium; she kept on swinging her foot, and continually
touched Pelle's leg with the tip of her shoe.

She was nervously full of life, and kept on asking the time. When her
mother went into the kitchen to make coffee, she took Pelle's hand and
smilingly stroked it.

"Come with me," she said. "I should so like to see if he is really so
silly as to think I'd come. We can stand in a corner somewhere and look
out."

Pelle did not answer.

"Mother," said Hanne, when Madam Johnsen returned with the coffee, "I'm
going out to buy some stuff for my bodice. Pelle's coming with me."

The excuse was easy to see through. But the old woman betrayed no
emotion. She had already seen that Hanne was well disposed toward Pelle
to-day; something was going on in the girl's mind, and if Pelle only
wanted to, he could now bridle her properly. She had no objection to
make if both the young people kicked over the traces a little. Perhaps
then they would find peace together.

"You ought to take your shawl with you," she told Hanne. "The evening
air may turn cold."

Hanne walked so quickly that Pelle could hardly follow her. "It'll be a
lark to see his disappointment when we don't turn up," she said,
laughing. Pelle laughed also. She stationed herself behind one of the
pillars of the Town Hall, where she could peep out across the market.
She was quite out of breath, she had hurried so.

Gradually, as the time went by and the stranger did not appear, her
animation vanished; she was silent, and her expression was one of
disappointment.

"No one's going to come!" she said suddenly, and she laughed shortly.

"I only made up the whole thing to tell you, to see what you'd say."

"Then let's go!" said Pelle quietly, and he took her hand.

As they went down the steps, Hanne started; and her hand fell limply
from his. The stranger came quickly up to her. He held out his hand to
Hanne, quietly and as a matter of course, as though he had known her for
years. Pelle, apparently, he did not see.

"Will you come somewhere with me--where we can hear music, for example?"
he asked, and he continued to hold her hand. She looked irresolutely at
Pelle.

For a moment Pelle felt an inordinate longing to throw himself upon this
man and strike him to the ground, but then he met Hanne's eyes, which
wore an expression as though she was longing for some means of shaking
him off. "Well, it looks as if one was in the way here!" he thought.
"And what does it all matter to me?" He turned away from her and
sauntered off down a side street.

Pelle strolled along to the quays by the gasworks, and he stood there,
sunk in thought, gazing at the ships and the oily water. He did not
suffer; it was only so terribly stupid that a strange hand should appear
out of the unknown, and that the bird which he with all his striving
could not entice, should have hopped right away on to that hand.

Below the quay-wall the water plashed with a drowsy sound; fragments of
wood and other rubbish floated on it; it was all so home-like! Out by
the coal-quay lay a three-master. It was after working hours; the crew
were making an uproar below decks, or standing about on deck and washing
themselves in a bucket. One well-grown young seaman in blue clothes and
a white neckerchief came out of the cabin and stared up at the rigging
as though out of habit, and yawned. Then he strolled ashore. His cap was
on the back of his head, and between his teeth was a new pipe. His face
was full of freakish merriment, and he walked with a swing of the hips.
As he came up to Pelle he swayed to and fro a few times and then bumped
into him. "Oh, excuse me!" he said, touching his cap. "I thought it was
a scratching-post, the gentleman stood so stiff. Well, you mustn't take
it amiss!" And he began to go round and round Pelle, bending far forward
as though he were looking for something on him, and finally he pawed his
own ears, like a friendly bear, and shook with laughter. He was
overflowing with high spirits and good humor.

Pelle had not shaken off his feeling of resentment; he did not know
whether to be angry or to laugh at the whole thing.

He turned about cautiously, so as to keep his eye on the sailor, lest
the latter should pull his feet from under him. He knew the grip, and
also how it should be parried; and he held his hands in readiness.
Suddenly something in the stooping position struck him as familiar. This
was Per Kofod--Howling Peter, from the village school at home, in his
own person! He who used to roar and blubber at the slightest word! Yes,
this was he!

"Good evening, Per!" he cried, delighted, and he gave him a thump in the
back.

The seaman stood up, astonished. "What the devil! Good evening! Well,
that I should meet you here, Pelle; that's the most comical thing I've
ever known! You must excuse my puppy-tricks! Really!" He shook Pelle
heartily by the hand.

They loafed about the harbor, chatting of old times. There was so much
to recall from their schooldays. Old Fris with his cane, and the games
on the beach! Per Kofod spoke as though he had taken part in all of
them; he had quite forgotten that he used always to stand still gripping
on to something and bellowing, if the others came bawling round him.
"And Nilen, too, I met him lately in New Orleans. He is second mate on a
big American full-rigged ship, and is earning big money. A smart fellow
he is. But hang it all, he's a tough case! Always with his revolver in
his hand. But that's how it has to be over there--among the niggers.
Still, one fine day they'll slit his belly up, by God they will! Now
then, what's the matter there?"

From some stacks of timber near by came a bellowing as of some one in
torment, and the sound of blows. Pelle wanted, to turn aside, but Per
Kofod seized his arm and dragged him forward.

In among the timber-stacks three "coalies" were engaged in beating a
fourth. He did not cry out, but gave vent to a muffled roar every time
he received a blow. The blood was flowing down his face.

"Come on!" shouted Per Kofod, hitching up his trousers. And then, with a
roar, he hurled himself into their midst, and began to lay about him in
all directions. It was like an explosion with its following hail of
rocks. Howling Peter had learned to use his strength; only a sailor
could lay about him in that fashion. It was impossible to say where his
blows were going to fall; but they all went home. Pelle stood by for a
moment, mouth and eyes open in the fury of the fray; then he, too,
tumbled into the midst of it, and the three dock-laborers were soon
biting the dust.

"Damn it all, why did you interfere!" said Pelle crossly, when it was
over, as he stood pulling his collar straight.

"I don't know," said Howling Peter. "But it does one no harm to bestir
one's self a bit for once!"

After the heat of the battle they had all but forgotten the man
originally attacked; he lay huddled up at the foot of a timber-stack and
made no sound. They got him on his legs again, but had to hold him
upright; he stood as limp as though asleep, and his eyes were staring
stupidly. He was making a heavy snoring sound, and at every breath the
blood made two red bubbles at his nostrils. From time to time he ground
his teeth, and then his eyes turned upward and the whites gleamed
strangely in his coal-blackened face.

The sailor scolded him, and that helped him so far that he was able to
stand on his feet. They drew a red rag from his bulging jacket-pocket,
and wiped the worst of the blood away. "What sort of a fellow are you,
damn it all, that you can't stand a drubbing?" said Per Kofod.

"I didn't call for help," said the man thickly. His lips were swollen to
a snout.

"But you didn't hit back again! Yet you look as if you'd strength
enough. Either a fellow manages to look after himself or he sings out so
that others can come to help him. D'ye see, mate?"

"I didn't want to bring the police into it; and I'd earned a thrashing.
Only they hit so damned hard, and when I fell they used their clogs."

He lived in the Saksogade, and they took each an arm. "If only I don't
get ill now!" he groaned from time to time. "I'm all a jelly inside."
And they had to stop while he vomited.

There was a certain firm for which he and his mates had decided no
longer to unload, as they had cut down the wages offered. There were
only four of them who stuck to their refusal; and what use was it when
others immediately took their place? The four of them could only hang
about and play the gentleman at large; nothing more came of it. But of
course he had given his word--that was why he had not hit back. The
other three had found work elsewhere, so he went back to the firm and
ate humble pie. Why should he hang about idle and killing time when
there was nothing to eat at home? He was damned if he understood these
new ways; all the same, he had betrayed the others, for he had given his
word. But they had struck him so cursedly hard, and had kicked him in
the belly with their clogs.

He continued rambling thus, like a man in delirium, as they led him
along. In the Saksogade they were stopped by a policeman, but Per Kofod
quickly told him a story to the effect that the man had been struck on
the head by a falling crane. He lived right up in the attics. When they
opened the door a woman who lay there in child-bed raised herself up on
the iron bedstead and gazed at them in alarm. She was thin and anemic.
When she perceived the condition of her husband she burst into a
heartrending fit of crying.

"He's sober," said Pelle, in order to console her; "he has only got a
bit damaged."

They took him into the kitchen and bathed his head over the sink with
cold water. But Per Kofod's assistance was not of much use; every time
the woman's crying reached his ears he stopped helplessly and turned his
head toward the door; and suddenly he gave up and tumbled head-foremost
down the back stairs.

"What was really the matter with you?" asked Pelle crossly, when he,
too, could get away. Per was waiting at the door for him.

"Perhaps you didn't hear her hymn-singing, you blockhead! But, anyhow,
you saw her sitting up in bed and looking like wax? It's beastly, I tell
you; it's infamous! He'd no need to go making her cry like that! I had
the greatest longing to thrash him again, weak as a baby though he was.
The devil--what did he want to break his word for?"

"Because they were starving, Per!" said Pelle earnestly. "That does
happen at times in this accursed city."

Kofod stared at him and whistled. "Oh, Satan! Wife and child, and the
whole lot without food--what? And she in childbed. They were married,
right enough, you can see that. Oh, the devil! What a honeymoon! What
misery!"

He stood there plunging deep into his trouser pockets; he fetched out a
handful of things: chewing-tobacco, bits of flock, broken matches, and
in the midst of all a crumpled ten-kroner note. "So I thought!" he said,
fishing out the note. "I was afraid the girls had quite cleaned me out
last night! Now Pelle, you go up and spin them some sort of a yarn; I
can't do it properly myself; for, look you, if I know that woman she
won't stop crying day and night for another twenty-four hours! That's
the last of my pay. But--oh, well, blast it ... we go to sea to-morrow!"

"She stopped crying when I took her the money," said Pelle, when he came
down again.

"That's good. We sailors are dirty beasts; you know; we do our business
into china and eat our butter out of the tarbucket; all the same, we--I
tell you, I should have left the thing alone and used the money to have
made a jolly night of it to-night...." He was suddenly silent; he chewed
at his quid as though inwardly considering his difficult philosophy.
"Damn it all, to-morrow we put to sea!" he cried suddenly.

They went out to Alleenberg and sat in the gardens. Pelle ordered beer.
"I can very well stand a few pints when I meet a good pal," he said,
"but at other times I save like the devil. I've got to see about getting
my old father over here; he's living on charity at home."

"So your father's still living? I can see him still so plainly--he had a
love-affair with Madam Olsen for some time, but then bo'sun Olsen came
home unexpectedly; they thought he'd remain abroad."

Pelle laughed. Much water had run into the sea since those days. Now he
was no longer ashamed of Father Lasse's foolish prank.

Light was gleaming from the booths in the garden. Young couples wandered
about and had their fortunes told; they ventured themselves on the Wheel
of Happiness, or had their portraits cut out by the silhouette artist.
By the roundabout was a mingled whirl of cries and music and brightly
colored petticoats. Now and again a tremendous outcry arose, curiously
dreadful, over all other sounds, and from the concert-pavilion one heard
the cracked, straining voices of one-time "stars." Wretched little
worldlings came breathlessly hurrying thither, pushing through the
crowd, and disappeared into the pavilion, nodding familiarly to the man
in the ticket-office window.

"It's really quite jolly here," said Per Kofod. "You have a damn good
time of it on land!"

On the wide pathway under the trees apprentices, workmen, soldiers, and
now and again a student, loitered up and down, to and fro, looking
sideways at the servant-girls, who had stationed themselves on either
side of the walk, standing there arm-in-arm, or forming little groups.
Their eyes sent many a message before ever one of them stopped and
ventured to speak. Perhaps the maiden turned away; if so, that was an
end of the matter, and the youngster began the business all over again.
Or perhaps she ran off with him to one of the closed arbors, where they
drank coffee, or else to the roundabouts. Several of the young people
were from Pelle's home; and every time he heard the confident voices of
the Bornholm girls Pelle's heart stirred like a bird about to fly away.

Suddenly his troubles returned to his mind. "I really felt inclined,
this evening, to have done with the whole thing.... Just look at those
two, Per!" Two girls were standing arm-in-arm under a tree, quite close
to their table. They were rocking to and fro together, and now and again
they glanced at the two young men.

"Nothing there for me--that's only for you land-lubbers," said Per
Kofod. "For look you now, they're like so many little lambs whose ears
you've got to tickle. And then it all comes back to you in the nights
when you take the dog-watch alone; you've told her lies, or you promised
to come back again when she undid her bodice.... And in the end there
she is, planted, and goin' to have a kid! It don't do. A sailor ought to
keep to the naughty girls."

"But married women can be frisky sometimes," said Pelle.

"That so, really? Once I wouldn't have believed that any one could have
kicked a good woman; but after all they strangle little children.... And
they come and eat out of your hand if you give 'em a kind word--that's
the mischief of it.... D'you remember Howling Peter?"

"Yes, as you ask me, I remember him very well."

"Well, his father was a sailor, too, and that's just what he did.... And
she was just such a girl, one who couldn't say no, and believed
everything a man told her. He was going to come back again--of course.
'When you hear the trap-door of the loft rattle, that'll be me,' he told
her. But the trap-door rattled several times, and he didn't come. Then
she hanged herself from the trap-door with a rope. Howling Peter came on
to the parish. And you know how they all scorned him. Even the wenches
thought they had the right to spit at him. He could do nothing but
bellow. His mother had cried such a lot before he was born, d'ye see?
Yes, and then he hanged himself too--twice he tried to do it. He'd
inherited that! After that he had a worse time than ever; everybody
thought it honorable to ill-use him and ask after the marks on his
throat. No, not you; you were the only one who didn't raise a hand to
him. That's why I've so often thought about you. 'What has become of
him?' I used to ask myself. 'God only knows where he's got to!'" And he
gazed at Pelle with a pair of eyes full of trust.

"No, that was due to Father Lasse," said Pelle, and his tone was quite
childlike. "He always said I must be good to you because you were in
God's keeping."

"In God's keeping, did he say?" repeated Per Kofod thoughtfully. "That
was a curious thing to say. That's a feeling I've never had. There was
nothing in the whole world at that time that could have helped me to
stand up for myself. I can scarcely understand how it is that I'm
sitting here talking to you--I mean, that they didn't torment the life
out of my body."

"Yes, you've altered very much. How does it really come about that
you're such a smart fellow now?"

"Why, such as I am now, that's really my real nature. It has just waked
up, that's what I think. But I don't understand really what was the
matter with me then. I knew well enough I could knock you down if I had
only wanted to. But I didn't dare strike out, just out of sheer
wretchedness. I saw so much that you others couldn't see. Damn it all, I
can't make head nor tail of it! It must have been my mother's dreadful
misery that was still in my bones. A horror used to come over me--quite
causeless--so that I had to bellow aloud; and then the farmers used to
beat me. And every time I tried to get out of it all by hanging myself,
they beat me worse than ever. The parish council decided I was to be
beaten. Well, that's why I don't do it, Pelle--a sailor ought to keep to
women that get paid for it, if they have anything to do with him--that
is, if he can't get married. There, you have my opinion."

"You've had a very bad time," said Pelle, and he took his hand. "But
it's a tremendous change that's come over you!"

"Change! You may well say so! One moment Howling Peter--and the next,
the strongest man on board! There you have the whole story! For look
here now, at sea, of course, it was just the same; even the ship's boy
felt obliged to give me a kick on the shins in passing. Everybody who
got a blow on a rowing passed it on to me. And when I went to sea in an
American bark, there was a nigger on board, and all of them used to
hound him down; he crawled before them, but you may take your oath he
hated them out of the whites of his devil's eyes. But me, who treated
him with humanity, he played all manner of tricks on--it was nothing to
him that I was white. Yet even with him I didn't dare to fetch him one--
there was always like a flabby lump in my midriff. But once the thing
went too far--or else the still-born something inside me was exhausted.
I just aimed at him a bit with one arm, so that he fell down. That
really was a rummy business. It was, let's say, like a fairy tale where
the toad suddenly turns into a man. I set to then and there and thrashed
him till he was half dead. And while I was about it, and in the vein, it
seemed best to get the whole thing over, so I went right ahead and
thrashed the whole crew from beginning to end. It was a tremendous
moment, there was such a heap of rage inside me that had got to come
out!"

Pelle laughed. "A lucky thing that I knew you a little while ago, or you
would have made mincemeat of me, after all!"

"Not me, mate, that was only a little joke. A fellow is in such high
spirits when he comes ashore again. But out at sea it's--thrash the
others, or they'll thrash you! Well, that's all right, but one ought to
be good to the women. That's what I've told the old man on board; he's a
fellow-countryman, but a swine in his dealings with women. There isn't a
single port where he hasn't a love-affair. In the South, and on the
American coast. It's madman's work often, and I have to go along with
him and look out that he doesn't get a knife between his ribs. 'Per,' he
says, 'this evening we'll go on the bust together.' 'All right, cap'n,'
I say. 'But it's a pity about all the women.' 'Shut your mouth, Per,' he
says; 'they're most of them married safe enough.' He's one of us from
home, too--from a little cottage up on the heath."

"What's his name, then?" said Pelle, interested.

"Albert Karlsen."

"Why, then he's Uncle Kalle's eldest, and in a way my cousin--Kalle,
that is to say, isn't really his father. His wife had him before she was
married--he's the son of the owner of Stone Farm."

"So he's a Kongstrup, then!" cried Per Kofod, and he laughed loudly.
"Well, that's as it should be!"

Pelle paid, and they got up to go. The two girls were still standing by
the tree. Per Kofod went up to one of them as though she had been a bird
that might escape him. Suddenly he seized her round the waist; she
withdrew herself slowly from his grip and laughed in his big fair face.
He embraced her once again, and now she stood still; it was still in her
mind to escape, for she laughingly half-turned away. He looked deep into
her eyes, then released her and followed Pelle.

"What's the use, Pelle--why, I can hear her complaining already! A
fellow ought to be well warned," he said, with a despairing accent.
"But, damn it all, why should a man have so much compassion when he
himself has been so cruelly treated? And the others; they've no
compassion. Did you see how gentle her eyes were? If I'd money I'd marry
her right away."

"Perhaps she wouldn't have you," replied Pelle. "It doesn't do to take
the girls for granted."

In the avenue a few men were going to and fro and calling; they were
looking for their young women, who had given them the slip. One of them
came up to Per and Pelle--he was wearing a student's cap. "Have the
gentlemen seen anything of our ladies?" he asked. "We've been sitting
with them and treating them all the evening, and then they said they'd
just got to go to a certain place, and they've gone off."

They went down to the harbor. "Can't you come on board with me and say
how d'ye-do to the old man?" said Per. "But of course, he's ashore to-
night. I saw him go over the side about the time we knocked off--rigged
out for chasing the girls."

"I don't know him at all," said Pelle; "he was at sea already when I was
still a youngster. Anyhow, I've got to go home to bed now--I get to work
early in the mornings."

They stood on the quay, taking leave of one another. Per Kofod promised
to look Pelle up next time he was in port. While they were talking the
door of the after-cabin rattled. Howling Peter drew Pelle behind a stack
of coal. A powerful, bearded man came out, leading a young girl by the
hand. She went slowly, and appeared to resist. He set her ceremoniously
ashore, turned back to the cabin, and locked the door behind him. The
girl stood still for a moment. A low 'plaint escaped her lips. She
stretched her arms pleadingly toward the cabin. Then she turned and went
mournfully along the quay.

"That was the old man," whispered Per Kofod. "That's how he treats them
all--and yet they don't want to give him up."

Pelle could not utter a word; he stood there cowering, oppressed as by
some terrible burden. Suddenly he pulled himself together, pressed his
comrade's hand, and set off quickly between the coal-stacks.

After a time he turned aside and followed the young girl at a little
distance. Like a sleep-walker, she staggered along the quay and went
over the long bridge. He feared she would throw herself in the water, so
strangely did she behave.

On the bridge she stood gazing across at the ship, with a frozen look on
her face. Pelle stood still; turned to ice by the thought that she might
see him. He could not have borne to speak to her just then--much less
look into her eyes.

But then she moved on. Her bearing was broken; from behind she looked
like one of those elderly, shipwrecked females from the "Ark," who
shuffled along by the house-walls in trodden-down men's shoes, and
always boasted a dubious past. "Good God!" thought Pelle, "is her dream
over already? Good God!"

He followed her at a short distance down the narrow street, and as soon
as he knew that she must have reached her dwelling he entered the
tunnel.



VII


In the depths of Pelle's soul lay a confident feeling that he was
destined for something particular; it was his old dream of fortune,
which would not be wholly satisfied by the good conditions for all men
which he wanted to help to bring about. His fate was no longer in his
eyes a grievous and crushing predestination to poverty, which could only
be lifted from him by a miracle; he was lord of his own future, and
already he was restlessly building it up!

But in addition to this there was something else that belonged only to
him and to life, something that no one else in the world could
undertake. What it was he had not yet figured to himself; but it was
something that raised him above all others, secretly, so that only he
was conscious of it. It was the same obscure feeling of being a pioneer
that had always urged him forward; and when it did take the form of a
definite question he answered it with the confident nod of his
childhood. Yes, he would see it through all right! As though that which
was to befall him was so great and so wonderful that it could not be put
into words, nor even thought of. He saw the straight path in front of
him, and he sauntered on, strong and courageous. There were no other
enemies than those a prudent man might perceive; those lurking forces of
evil which in his childhood had hovered threateningly above his head
were the shadows of the poor man's wretchedness. There was nothing else
evil, and that was sinister enough. He knew now that the shadows were
long. Morten was right. Although he himself when a child had sported in
the light, yet his mind was saddened by the misery of all those who were
dead or fighting in distant parts of the earth; and it was on this fact
that the feeling of solidarity must be based. The miraculous simply had
no existence, and that was a good thing for those who had to fight with
the weapon of their own physical strength. No invisible deity sat
overhead making his own plans for them or obstructing others. What one
willed, that could one accomplish, if only he had strength enough to
carry it through. Strength--it was on that and that alone that
everything depended. And there was strength in plenty. But the strength
of all must be united, must act as the strength of one. People always
wondered why Pelle, who was so industrious and respectable, should live
in the "Ark" instead of in the northern quarter, in the midst of the
Movement. He wondered at himself when he ever thought about it at all;
but he could not as yet tear himself away from the "Ark." Here, at the
bottom of the ladder, he had found peace in his time of need. He was too
loyal to turn his back on those among whom he had been happy.

He knew they would feel it as a betrayal; the adoration with which the
inmates of the "Ark" regarded the three orphan children was also
bestowed upon him; he was the foundling, the fourth member of the
"Family," and now they were proud of him too!

It was not the way of the inmates of the "Ark" to make plans for the
future. Sufficient to the day was the evil thereof; to-morrow's cares
were left for the morrow. The future did not exist for them. They were
like careless birds, who had once suffered shipwreck and had forgotten
it. Many of them made their living where they could; but however down in
the world they were, let the slightest ray of sunlight flicker down to
them, and all was forgotten. Of the labor movement and other new things
they gossiped as frivolously as so many chattering starlings, who had
snapped up the news on the wind.

But Pelle went so confidently out into the world, and set his shoulders
against it, and then came back home to them. He had no fear; he could
look Life straight in the face, he grappled boldly with the future,
before which they shudderingly closed their eyes. And thereby his name
came to be spoken with a particular accent; Pelle was a prince; what a
pity it was that he wouldn't, it seemed, have the princess!

He was tall and well-grown, and to them he seemed even taller. They went
to him in their misery, and loaded it all on his strong young shoulders,
so that he could bear it for them. And Pelle accepted it all with an
increasing sense that perhaps it was not quite aimlessly that he
lingered here--so near the foundations of society!

At this time Widow Frandsen and her son Ferdinand came upon the scene.
Misfortune must house itself somewhere!

Ferdinand was a sturdy young fellow of eighteen years, with a powerfully
modelled head, which looked as though it had originally been intended to
absorb all the knowledge there is in all the world. But he used it only
for dispensing blows; he had no other use for it whatever.

Yet he was by no means stupid; one might even call him a gifted young
man. But his gifts were of a peculiar quality, and had gradually become
even more peculiar.

As a little child he had been forced to fight a besotted father, in
order to protect his mother, who had no other protector. This unequal
battle _had_ to be fought; and it necessarily blunted his capacity
for feeling pain, and particularly his sense of danger. He knew what was
in store for him, but he rushed blindly into the fray the moment his
mother was attacked; just as a dog will attack a great beast of prey, so
he hung upon the big man's fists, and would not be shaken off. He hated
his father, and he longed in his heart to be a policeman when he was
grown up. With his blind and obtuse courage he was particularly adapted
to such a calling; but he actually became a homeless vagabond.

Gradually as he grew in height and strength and the battle was no longer
so unequal, his father began to fear him and to think of revenge; and
once, when Ferdinand had thoroughly thrashed him, he reported him, and
the boy was flogged. The boy felt this to be a damnable piece of
injustice; the flogging left scars behind it, and another of its results
was that his mother was no longer left in peace.

From that time onward he hated the police, and indulged his hatred at
every opportunity. His mother was the only being for whom he still
cared. It was like a flash of sunshine when his father died. But it came
too late to effect any transformation; Ferdinand had long ago begun to
look after his mother in his own peculiar way--which was partly due to
the conditions of his life.

He had grown up in the streets, and even when quite a child was one of
those who are secretly branded. The police knew him well, and were only
awaiting their opportunity to ask him inside. Ferdinand could see it in
their eyes--they reckoned quite confidently on that visit, and had got a
bed already for him in their hotel on the New Market.

But Ferdinand would not allow himself to be caught. When he had anything
doubtful in hand, he always managed to clear himself. He was an
unusually strong and supple young fellow, and was by no means afraid to
work; he obtained all kinds of occasional work, and he always did it
well. But whenever he got into anything that offered him a future, any
sort of regular work which must be learned and attacked with patience,
he could never go on with it.

"You speak to him, Pelle!" said his mother. "You are so sensible, and he
does respect you!" Pelle did speak to him, and helped him to find some
calling for which he was suited; and Ferdinand set to work with a will,
but when he got to a certain point he always threw it up.

His mother never lacked actual necessaries; although sometimes he only
procured them at the last moment. When not otherwise engaged, he would
stand in some doorway on the market-place, loafing about, his hands in
his pockets, his supple shoulders leaning against the wall. He was
always in clogs and mittens; at stated intervals he spat upon the
pavement, his sea-blue eyes following the passers-by with an
unfathomable expression. The policeman, who was aggressively pacing up
and down his beat, glanced at him in secret every time he passed him, as
much as to say, "Shan't we ever manage to catch the rogue? Why doesn't
he make a slip?"

And one day the thing happened--quite of itself, and not on account of
any clumsiness on his part--in the "Ark" they laid particular stress
upon that. It was simply his goodness of heart that was responsible. Had
Ferdinand not been the lad he was, matters had not gone awry, for he was
a gifted young man.

He was in the grocer's shop on the corner of the Market buying a few
coppers' worth of chewing-tobacco. An eight-year-old boy from the "Ark"
was standing by the counter, asking for a little flour on credit for his
mother. The grocer was making a tremendous fuss about the affair. "Put
it down--I dare say! One keeps shop on the corner here just to feed all
the poor folks in the neighborhood! I shall have the money to-morrow?
Peculiar it is, that in this miserable, poverty-stricken quarter folks
are always going to have money the very next day! Only the next day
never comes!"

"Herre Petersen can depend on it," said the child, in a low voice.

The grocer continued to scoff, but began to weigh the meal. Before the
scales there was a pile of yard brooms and other articles, but Ferdinand
could see that the grocer was pressing the scale with his fingers. He's
giving false weight because it's for a poor person, thought Ferdinand,
and he felt an angry pricking in his head, just where his thoughts were.

The boy stood by, fingering something concealed in his hand. Suddenly a
coin fell on the floor and went rolling round their feet. Quick as
lightning the grocer cast a glance at the till, as he sprang over the
counter and seized the boy by the scruff of the neck. "Ay, ay," he said
sharply, "a clever little rogue!"

"I haven't stolen anything!" cried the boy, trying to wrench himself
loose and to pick up his krone-piece. "That's mother's money!"

"You leave the kid alone!" said Ferdinand threateningly. "He hasn't done
anything!"

The grocer struggled with the boy, who was twisting and turning in order
to recover his money. "Hasn't done anything!" he growled, panting, "then
why did he cry out about stealing before ever I had mentioned the word?
And where does the money come from? He wanted credit, because they
hadn't got any! No, thanks--I'm not to be caught like that."

"The money belongs to mother!" shrieked the youngster, twisting
desperately in the grocer's grip. "Mother is ill--I'm to get medicine
with it!" And he began to blubber.

"It's quite right--his mother is ill!" said Ferdinand, with a growl.
"And the chemist certainly won't give credit. You'd best let him go,
Petersen." He took a step forward.

"You've thought it out nicely!" laughed the grocer scornfully, and he
wrenched the shop-door open. "Here, policeman, here!"

The policeman, who was keeping watch at the street corner, came quickly
over to the shop. "Here's a lad who plays tricks with other folks'
money," said the grocer excitedly. "Take care of him for a bit,
Iversen!"

The boy was still hitting out in all directions; the policeman had to
hold him off at arm's length. He was a ragged, hungry little fellow. The
policeman saw at a glance what he had in his fingers, and proceeded to
drag him away; and there was no need to have made any more ado about the
matter.

Ferdinand went after him and laid his hand on the policeman's arm.
"Mister Policeman, the boy hasn't done anything," he said. "I was
standing there myself, and I saw that he did nothing, and I know his
mother!"

The policeman stood still for a moment, measuring Ferdinand with a
threatening eye; then he dragged the boy forward again, the latter still
struggling to get free, and bellowing: "My mother is ill; she's waiting
for me and the medicine!" Ferdinand kept step with them, in his thin
canvas shoes.

"If you drag him off to the town hall, I shall come with you, at all
events, and give evidence for him," he continued; "the boy hasn't done
anything, and his mother is lying sick and waiting for the medicine at
home."

The policeman turned about, exasperated. "Yes, you're a nice witness.
One crow don't pick another's eyes out. You mind your own business--and
just you be off!"

Ferdinand stood his ground. "Who are you talking to, you Laban?" he
muttered, angrily looking the other up and down. Suddenly he took a run
and caught the policeman a blow in the neck so that he fell with his
face upon the pavement while his helmet rolled far along the street.
Ferdinand and the boy dashed off, each in a different direction, and
disappeared.

And now they had been hunting him for three weeks already. He did not
dare go home. The "Ark" was watched night and day, in the hope of
catching him--he was so fond of his mother. God only knew where he might
be in that rainy, cold autumn. Madam Frandsen moved about her attic,
lonely and forsaken. It was a miserable life. Every morning she came
over to beg Pelle to look in _The Working Man_, to see whether her
son had been caught. He was in the city--Pelle and Madam Frandsen knew
that. The police knew it also; and they believed him responsible for a
series of nocturnal burglaries. He might well be sleeping in the
outhouses and the kennels of the suburban villas.

The inmates of the "Ark" followed his fate with painful interest. He had
grown up beneath their eyes. He had never done anything wrong there; he
had always respected the "Ark" and its inhabitants; that at least could
be said of him, and he loved his mother dearly. And he had been entirely
in the right when he took the part of the boy; a brave little fellow he
was! His mother was very ill; she lived at the end of one of the long
gangways, and the boy was her only support. But it was a mad undertaking
to lay hands on the police; that was the greatest crime on earth! A man
had far better murder his own parents--as far as the punishment went. As
soon as they got hold of him, he would go to jail, for the policeman had
hit his handsome face against the flagstones; according to the
newspaper, anybody but a policeman would have had concussion of the
brain.

       *       *       *       *       *

Old Madam Frandsen loved to cross the gangway to visit Pelle, in order
to talk about her son.

"We must be cautious," she said. At times she would purse up her mouth,
tripping restlessly to and fro; then he knew there was something
particular in the wind.

"Shall I tell you something?" she would ask, looking at him importantly.

"No; better keep it to yourself," Pelle would reply. "What one doesn't
know one can't give evidence about."

"You'd better let me chatter, Pelle--else I shall go running in and
gossiping with strangers. Old chatterbox that I am, I go fidgeting round
here, and I've no one I can trust; and I daren't even talk to myself!
Then that Pipman hears it all  through the wooden partition; it's almost
more than I can bear, and I tremble lest my toothless old mouth should
get him into trouble!"

"Well, then, tell it me!" said Pelle, laughing. "But you mustn't speak
loud."

"He's been here again!" she whispered, beaming. "This morning, when I
got up, there was money for me in the kitchen. Do you know where he had
put it? In the sink! He's such a sensible lad! He must have come
creeping over the roofs--otherwise I can't think how he does it, they
are looking for him so. But you must admit that--he's a good lad!"

"If only you can keep quiet about it!" said Pelle anxiously. She was so
proud of her son!

"M--m!" she said, tapping her shrunken lips. "No need to tell me that--
and do you know what I've hit on, so that the bloodhounds shan't wonder
what I live on? I'm sewing canvas slippers."

Then came little Marie with mop and bucket, and the old woman hobbled
away.

It was a slack time now in Master Beck's workshop, so Pelle was working
mostly at home. He could order his hours himself now, and was able to
use the day, when people were indoors, in looking up his fellow-
craftsmen and winning them for the organization. This often cost him a
lengthy argument, and he was proud of every man he was able to inscribe.
He very quickly learned to classify all kinds of men, and he suited his
procedure to the character of the man he was dealing with; one could
threaten the waverers, while others had to be enticed or got into a good
humor by chatting over the latest theories with them. This was good
practice, and he accustomed himself to think rapidly, and to have his
subject at his fingers' ends. The feeling of mastery over his means
continually increased in strength, and lent assurance to his bearing.

He had to make up for neglecting his work, and at such times he was
doubly busy, rising early and sitting late at his bench.

He kept away from his neighbors on the third story; but when he heard
Hanne's light step on the planking over there, he used to peep furtively
across the well. She went her way like a nun--straight to her work and
straight home again, her eyes fixed on the ground. She never looked up
at his window, or indeed anywhere. It was as though her nature had
completed its airy flutterings, as though it now lay quietly growing.

It surprised him that he should now regard her with such strange and
indifferent eyes, as though she had never been anything to him. And he
gazed curiously into his own heart--no, there was nothing wrong with
him. His appetite was good, and there was nothing whatever the matter
with his heart. It must all have been a pleasant illusion, a mirage such
as the traveller sees upon his way. Certainly she was beautiful; but he
could not possibly see anything fairy-like about her. God only knew how
he had allowed himself to be so entangled! It was a piece of luck that
he hadn't been caught--there was no future for Hanne.

Madam Johnsen continued to lean on him affectionately, and she often
came over for a little conversation; she could not forget the good times
they had had together. She always wound up by lamenting the change in
Hanne; the old woman felt that the girl had forsaken her.

"Can you understand what's the matter with her, Pelle? She goes about as
if she were asleep, and to everything I say she answers nothing but
'Yes, mother; yes, mother!' I could cry, it sounds so strange and empty,
like a voice from the grave. And she never says anything about good
fortune now--and she never decks herself out to be ready for it! If
she'd only begin with her fool's tricks again--if she only cared to look
out and watch for the stranger--then I should have my child again. But
she just goes about all sunk into herself, and she stares about her as
if she was half asleep, as though she were in the middle of empty space;
and she's never in any spirits now. She goes about so unmeaning--like
with her own dreary thoughts, it's like a wandering corpse. Can you
understand what's wrong with her?"

"No, I don't know," answered Pelle.

"You say that so curiously, as if you did know something and wouldn't
come out with it--and I, poor woman, I don't know where to turn." The
good-natured woman began to cry. "And why don't you come over to see us
any more?"

"Oh, I don't know--I've so much on hand, Madam Johnsen," answered Pelle
evasively.

"If only she's not bewitched. She doesn't enter into anything I tell
her; you might really come over just for once; perhaps that would cheer
her up a little. You oughtn't to take your revenge on us. She was very
fond of you in her way--and to me you've been like a son. Won't you come
over this evening?"

"I really haven't the time. But I'll see, some time," he said, in a low
voice.

And then she went, drooping and melancholy. She was showing her fifty
years. Pelle was sorry for her, but he could not make up his mind to
visit her.

"You are quite detestable!" said Marie, stamping angrily on the floor.
"It's wretched of you!"

Pelle wrinkled his forehead. "You don't understand, Marie."

"Oh, so you think I don't know all about it? But do you know what the
women say about you? They say you're no man, or you would have managed
to clip Hanne's feathers."

Pelle gazed at her, wondering; he said nothing, but looked at her and
shook his head.

"What are you staring at me for?" she said, placing herself aggressively
in front of him. "Perhaps you think I'm afraid to say what I like to
you? Don't you stare at me with that face, or you'll get one in the
mouth!" She was burning red with shame. "Shall I say something still
worse? with you staring at me with that face? Eh? No one need think I'm
ashamed to say what I like!" Her voice was hard and hoarse; she was
quite beside herself with rage.

Pelle was perfectly conscious that it was shame that was working in her.
She must be allowed to run down. He was silent, but did not avert his
reproachful gaze. Suddenly she spat in his face and ran into her own
room with a malicious laugh.

There she was very busy for a time.

There for a time she worked with extreme vigor, but presently grew
quieter. Through the stillness Pelle could hear her gently sobbing. He
did not go in to her. Such scenes had occurred between them before, and
he knew that for the rest of the day she would be ashamed of herself,
and it would he misery for her to look him in the face. He did not wish
to lessen that feeling.

He dressed himself and went out.



VIII


The "Ark" now showed as a clumsy gray mass. It was always dark; the
autumn daylight was unable to penetrate it. In the interior of the mass
the pitch-black night brooded continually; those who lived there had to
grope their way like moles. In the darkness sounds rose to the surface
which failed to make themselves noticeable in the radiance of summer.
Innumerable sounds of creatures that lived in the half-darkness were
heard. When sleep had laid silence upon it all, the stillness of night
unveiled yet another world: then the death-watches audibly bored their
way beneath the old wall-papers, while rats and mice and the larvae of
wood-beetles vied with one another in their efforts. The darkness was
full of the aromatic fragrance of the falling worm-dust. All through
this old box of a building dissolution was at work, with thousands of
tiny creatures to aid it. At times the sound of it all rose to a
tremendous crash which awoke Pelle from sleep, when some old worm-eaten
timber was undermined and sagged in a fresh place. Then he would turn
over on the other side.

When he went out of an evening he liked to make his way through the
cheerful, crowded streets, in order to share in the brightness of it
all; the rich luxury of the shops awakened something within him which
noted the startling contrast between this quarter of the town and his
own. When he passed from the brightly lit city into his own quarter, the
streets were like ugly gutters to drain the darkness, and the "Ark" rose
mysteriously into the sky of night like a ponderous mountain. Dark
cellar-openings led down into the roots of the mountain, and there, in
its dark entrails, moved wan, grimy creatures with smoky lamps; there
were all those who lived upon the poverty of the "Ark"--the old iron
merchant, the old clothes merchant, and the money-lender who lent money
upon tangible pledges. They moved fearfully, burrowing into strange-
looking heaps. The darkness was ingrained in them; Pelle was always
reminded of the "underground people" at home. So the base of the cliffs
had opened before his eyes in childhood, and he had shudderingly watched
the dwarfs pottering about their accursed treasure. Here they moved
about like greedy goblins, tearing away the foundations from under the
careless beings in the "Ark," so that one day these might well fall into
the cellars--and in the meantime they devoured them hair and hide. At
all events, the bad side of the fairy tale was no lie!

One day Pelle threw down his work in the twilight and went off to carry
out his mission. Pipman had some days earlier fallen drunk from the
rickety steps, and down in the well the children of the quarter
surrounded the place where he had dropped dead, and illuminated it with
matches. They could quite plainly see the dark impress of a shape that
looked like a man, and were all full of the spectacle.

Outside the mouth of the tunnel-like entry he stopped by the window of
the old clothes dealer's cellar. Old Pipman's tools lay spread out there
in the window. So she had got her claws into them too! She was rummaging
about down there, scurfy and repulsive to look at, chewing an
unappetizing slice of bread-and-butter, and starting at every sound that
came from above, so anxious was she about her filthy money! Pelle needed
a new heel-iron, so he went in and purchased that of Pipman. He had to
haggle with her over the price.

"Well, have you thought over my proposal?" she asked, when the deal was
concluded.

"What proposal?" said Pelle, in all ignorance.

"That you should leave your cobbling alone and be my assistant in the
business."

So that was what she meant? No, Pelle hadn't thought over it
sufficiently.

"I should think there isn't much to think over. I have offered you more
than you could earn otherwise, and there's not much to do. And I keep a
man who fetches and carries things. It's mostly that I have a fancy to
have a male assistant. I am an old woman, going about alone here, and
you are so reliable, I know that."

She needed some one to protect all the thousands of kroner which she had
concealed in these underground chambers. Pelle knew that well enough--
she had approached him before on the subject.

"I should scarcely be the one for that--to make my living out of the
poverty of others," said Pelle, smiling. "Perhaps I might knock you over
the head and distribute all your pennies to the poor!"

The old woman stared at him for a moment in alarm. "Ugh, what a horrible
thing to say!" she cried, shuddering. "You libel your good heart, joking
about such things. Now I shan't like to stay here in the cellar any
longer when you've gone. How can you jest so brutally about life and
death? Day and night I go about here trembling for my life, and yet I've
nothing at all, the living God knows I've nothing. That is just gossip!
Everybody looks at me as much as to say, 'I'd gladly strike you dead to
get your money!' And that's why I'd like to have a trustworthy man in
the business; for what good is it to me that I've got nothing when they
all believe I have? And there are so many worthless fellows who might
fall upon one at any moment."

"If you have nothing, you can be easy," said Pelle teasingly. "No need
for an empty stomach to have the nightmare!"

"Have nothing! Of course one always has something! And Pelle"--she
leaned confidentially over him with a smirk on her face--"now Mary will
soon come home, perhaps no later than this summer. She has earned so
much over there that she can live on it, and she'll still be in the
prime of her youth. What do you think of that? In her last letter she
asked me to look out for a husband for her. He need only be handsome,
for she has money enough for two. Then she'd rent a big house in the
fine part of the city, and keep her own carriage, and live only for her
handsome husband. What do you say to that, Pelle?"

"Well, that is certainly worth thinking over!" answered Pelle; he was in
overflowing high spirits.

"Thinking over? Is that a thing to think over? Many a poor lord would
accept such an offer and kiss my hand for it, if only he were here."

"But I'm not a lord, and now I must be going."

"Won't you just see her pictures?" The old woman began to rummage in a
drawer.

"No." Pelle only wanted to be gone. He had seen these pictures often
enough, grimed with the air of the cellar and the old woman's filthy
hands; pictures which represented Mary now as a slim figure, striped
like a tiger-cat, as she sang in the fashionable variety theaters of St.
Petersburg, now naked, with a mantle of white furs, alone in the midst
of a crowd of Russian officers--princes, the old woman said. There was
also a picture from the aquarium, in which she was swimming about in a
great glass tank amid some curious-looking plants, with nothing on her
body but golden scales and diamond ornaments. She had a magnificent
body--that he could plainly see; but that she could turn the heads of
fabulously wealthy princes and get thousands out of their pockets merely
by undressing herself--that he could not understand. And he was to take
her to wife, was he?--and to get all that she had hoarded up! That was
tremendously funny! That beat everything!

He went along the High Street with a rapid step. It was raining a
little; the light from the street lamps and shop-windows was reflected
in the wet flagstones; the street wore a cheerful look. He went onward
with a feeling that his mind was lifted above the things of everyday;
the grimy old woman who lived as a parasite on the poverty of the "Ark"
and who had a wonderful daughter who was absorbing riches like a leech.
And on top of it all the little Pelle with the "lucky curl," like the
curly-haired apprentice in the story! Here at last was the much-longed-
for fairy tale!

He threw back his head and laughed. Pelle, who formerly used to feel
insults so bitterly, had achieved a sense of the divinity of life.

That evening his round included the Rabarber ward. Pelle had made
himself a list, according to which he went forth to search each ward of
the city separately, in order to save himself unnecessary running about.
First of all, he took a journeyman cobbler in Smith Street; he was one
of Meyer's regular workers, and Pelle was prepared for a hard fight. The
man was not at home. "But you can certainly put him down," said his
wife. "We've been talking it over lately, and we've come to see it's
really the best thing." That was a wife after Pelle's heart. Many would
deny that their husbands were at home when they learned what Pelle
wanted; or would slam the door in his face; they were tired of his
running to and fro.

He visited various houses in Gardener Street, Castle Street, Norway
Street, making his way through backyards and up dark, narrow stairs, up
to the garrets or down to the cellars.

Over all was the same poverty; without exception the cobblers were
lodged in the most miserable holes. He had not a single success to
record. Some had gone away or were at fresh addresses; others wanted
time to consider or gave him a direct refusal. He promised himself that
he would presently give the wobblers another call; he would soon bring
them round; the others he ticked off, keeping them for better times--
their day too would come before long! It did not discourage him to meet
with refusals; he rejoiced over the single sheep. This was a work of
patience, and patience was the one thing in which he had always been
rich.

He turned into Hunter Street and entered a barrack-like building,
climbing until he was right under the roof, when he knocked on a door.
It was opened by a tall thin man with a thin beard. This was Peter, his
fellow-'prentice at home. They were speedily talking of the days of
their apprenticeship, and the workshop at home with all the curious
company there. There was not much that was good to be said of Master
Jeppe. But the memory of the young master filled them with warmth. "I
often think of him in the course of the year," said Peter. "He was no
ordinary man. That was why he died."

There was something abstracted about Peter; and his den gave one an
impression of loneliness. Nothing was left to remind one of the
mischievous fellow who must always be running; but something hostile and
obstinate glowed within his close-set eyes. Pelle sat there wondering
what could really be the matter with him. He had a curious bleached look
as though he had shed his skin; but he wasn't one of the holy sort, to
judge by his conversation.

"Peter, what's the truth of it--are you one of us?" said Pelle suddenly.

A disagreeable smile spread over Peter's features. "Am I one of you?
That sounds just like when they ask you--have you found Jesus? Have you
become a missionary?"

"You are welcome to call it that," replied Pelle frankly, "if you'll
only join our organization. We want you."

"You won't miss me--nobody is missed, I believe, if he only does his
work. I've tried the whole lot of them--churches and sects and all--and
none of them has any use for a man. They want one more listener, one
more to add to their list; it's the same everywhere." He sat lost in
thought, looking into vacancy. Suddenly he made a gesture with his hands
as though to wave something away. "I don't believe in anything any
longer, Pelle--there's nothing worth believing in."

"Don't you believe in improving the lot of the poor, then? You haven't
tried joining the movement?" asked Pelle.

"What should I do there? They only want to get more to eat--and the
little food I need I can easily get. But if they could manage to make me
feel that I'm a man, and not merely a machine that wants a bit more
greasing, I'd as soon be a thin dog as a fat one."

"They'd soon do that!" said Pelle convincingly. "If we only hold
together, they'll have to respect the individual as well, and listen to
his demands. The poor man must have his say with the rest."

Peter made an impatient movement. "What good can it do me to club folks
on the head till they look at me? It don't matter a damn to me! But
perhaps they'd look at me of their own accord--and say, of their own
accord--'Look, there goes a man made in God's image, who thinks and
feels in his heart just as I do!' That's what I want!"

"I honestly don't understand what you mean with your 'man,'" said Pelle
irritably. "What's the good of running your head against a wall when
there are reasonable things in store for us? We want to organize
ourselves and see if we can't escape from slavery. Afterward every man
can amuse himself as he likes."

"Well, well, if it's so easy to escape from slavery! Why not? Put down
my name for one!" said Peter, with a slightly ironical expression.

"Thanks, comrade!" cried Pelle, joyfully shaking his hand. "But you'll
do something for the cause?"

Peter looked about him forlornly. "Horrible weather for you to be out
in," he said, and he lighted Pelle down the stairs.

Pelle went northward along Chapel Street. He wanted to look up Morten.
The wind was chasing the leaves along by the cemetery, driving the rain
in his face. He kept close against the cemetery wall in order to get
shelter, and charged against the wind, head down. He was in the best of
humors. That was two new members he had won over; he was getting on by
degrees! What an odd fish Peter had become; the word, "man, man,"
sounded meaningless to Pelle's ears. Well, anyhow, he had got him on the
list.

Suddenly he heard light, running steps behind him. The figure of a man
reached his side, and pushed a little packet under Pelle's arm without
stopping for a moment. At a short distance he disappeared. It seemed to
Pelle as though he disappeared over the cemetery wall.

Under one of the street lamps he stopped and wonderingly examined the
parcel; it was bound tightly with tape. "For mother" was written upon it
in an awkward hand. Pelle was not long in doubt--in that word "mother"
he seemed plainly to hear Ferdinand's hoarse voice. "Now Madam Frandsen
will be delighted," he thought, and he put it in his pocket. During the
past week she had had no news of Ferdinand. He dared no longer venture
through Kristianshavn. Pelle could not understand how Ferdinand had lit
upon him. Was he living out here in the Rabarber ward?

Morten was sitting down, writing in a thick copybook. He closed it
hastily as Pelle entered.

"What is that?" asked Pelle, who wanted to open the book; "are you still
writing in your copybook?"

Morten, confused, laid his hand on the book. "No. Besides--oh, as far as
that goes," he said, "you may as well know. I have written a poem. But
you mustn't speak of it."

"Oh, do read it out to me!" Pelle begged.

"Yes; but you must promise me to be silent about it, or the others will
just think I've gone crazy."

He was quite embarrassed, and he stammered as he read. It was a poem
about poor people, who bore the whole world on their upraised hands, and
with resignation watched the enjoyment of those above them. It was
called, "Let them die!" and the words were repeated as the refrain of
every verse. And now that Morten was in the vein, he read also an
unpretentious story of the struggle of the poor to win their bread.

"That's damned fine!" cried Pelle enthusiastically. "Monstrously good,
Morten! I don't understand how you put it together, especially the
verse. But you're a real poet. But I've always thought that--that you
had something particular in you. You've got your own way of looking at
things, and they won't clip your wings in a hurry. But why don't you
write about something big and thrilling that would repay reading--
there's nothing interesting about us!"

"But I find there is!"

"No, I don't understand that. What can happen to poor fellows like us?"

"Then don't you believe in greatness?"

To be sure Pelle did. "But why shouldn't we have splendid things right
away?"

"You want to read about counts and barons!" said Morten. "You are all
like that. You regard yourself as one of the rabble, if it comes to
that! Yes, you do! Only you don't know it! That's the slave-nature in
you; the higher classes of society regard you as such and you
involuntarily do the same. Yes, you may pull faces, but it's true, all
the same! You don't like to hear about your own kind, for you don't
believe they can amount to anything! No, you must have fine folks--
always rich folks! One would like to spit on one's past and one's
parents and climb up among the fine folks, and because one can't manage
it one asks for it in books." Morten was irritated.

"No, no," said Pelle soothingly, "it isn't as bad as all that!"

"Yes, it is as bad as all that!" cried Morten passionately. "And do you
know why? Because you don't yet understand that humanity is holy, and
that it's all one where a man is found!"

"Humanity is holy?" said Pelle, laughing. "But I'm not holy, and I
didn't really think you were!"

"For your sake, I hope you are," said Morten earnestly, "for otherwise
you are no more than a horse or a machine that can do so much work." And
then he was silent, with a look that seemed to say that the matter had
been sufficiently discussed.

Morten's reserved expression made Pelle serious. He might jestingly
pretend that this was nonsense, but Morten was one of those who looked
into things--perhaps there was something here that he didn't understand.

"I know well enough that I'm a clown compared with you," he said good-
naturedly, "but you needn't be so angry on that account. By the way, do
you still remember Peter, who was at Jeppe's with your brother Jens and
me? He's here, too--I--I came across him a little while ago. He's
always looking into things too, but he can't find any foundation to
anything, as you can. He believes in nothing in the whole world. Things
are in a bad way with him. It would do him good if he could talk with
you."

"But I'm no prophet--you are that rather than I," said Morten
ironically.

"But you might perhaps say something of use to him. No, I'm only a
trades unionist, and that's no good."

On his way home Pelle pondered honestly over Morten's words, but he had
to admit that he couldn't take them in. No, he had no occasion to
surround his person with any sort of holiness or halo; he was only a
healthy body, and he just wanted to do things.



IX


Pelle came rushing home from Master Beck's workshop, threw off his coat
and waistcoat, and thrust his head into a bucket of water. While he was
scrubbing himself dry, he ran over to the "Family." "Would you care to
come out with me? I have some tickets for an evening entertainment--only
you must hurry up."

The three children were sitting round the table, doing tricks with
cards. The fire was crackling in the stove, and there was a delicious
smell of coffee. They were tired after the day's work and they didn't
feel inclined to dress themselves to go out. One could see how they
enjoyed feeling that they were at home. "You should give Hanne and her
mother the tickets," said Marie, "they never go out."

Pelle thought the matter over while he was dressing. Well, why not?
After all, it was stupid to rake up an old story.

Hanne did not want to go with him. She sat with downcast eyes, like a
lady in her boudoir, and did not look at him. But Madam Johnsen was
quite ready to go--the poor old woman quickly got into her best clothes.

"It's a long time since we two have been out together, Pelle," she said
gaily, as they walked through the city. "You've been so frightfully busy
lately. They say you go about to meetings. That is all right for a young
man. Do you gain anything by it?"

"Yes, one could certainly gain something by it--if only one used one's
strength!"

"What can you gain by it, then? Are you going to eat up the Germans
again, as in my young days, or what is it you are after?"

"We want to make life just a little happier," said Pelle quietly.

"Oh, you don't want to gain anything more than happiness? That's easy
enough, of course!" said Madam Johnsen, laughing loudly. "Why, to be
sure, in my pretty young days too the men wanted to go to the capital to
make their fortunes. I was just sixteen when I came here for purposes of
my own--where was a pretty girl to find everything splendid, if not
here? One easily made friends--there were plenty to go walking with a
nice girl in thin shoes, and they wanted to give her all sorts of fine
things, and every day brought its happiness with it. But then I met a
man who wanted to do the best thing by me, and who believed in himself,
too. He got me to believe that the two of us together might manage
something lasting. And he was just such a poor bird as I was, with empty
hands--but he set to valiantly. Clever in his work he was, too, and he
thought we could make ourselves a quiet, happy life, cozy between our
four walls, if only we'd work. Happiness--pooh! He wanted to be a
master, at all costs--for what can a journeyman earn! And more than once
we had scraped a little together, and thought things would be easier
now; but misfortune always fell on us and took it all away. It's always
hovering like a great bird over the poor man's home; and you must have a
long stick if you want to drive it away! It was always the same story
whenever we managed to get on a little. A whole winter he was ill. We
only kept alive by pawning all we'd got, stick by stick. And when the
last thing had gone to the devil we borrowed a bit on the pawn-ticket."
The old woman had to pause to recover her breath.

"Why are we hurrying like this?" she said, panting. "Any one would think
the world was trying to run away from us!"

"Well, there was nothing left!" she continued, shuffling on again. "And
he was too tired to begin all over again, so we moved into the 'Ark.'
And when he'd got a few shillings he sought consolation--but it was a
poor consolation for me, who was carrying Hanne, that you may believe!
She was like a gift after all that misfortune; but he couldn't bear her,
because our fancy for a little magnificence was born again in her. She
had inherited that from us--poor little thing!--with rags and dirt to
set it off. You should just have seen her, as quite a little child,
making up the fine folks' world out of the rags she got together out of
the dustbins. 'What's that?' Johnsen he said once--he was a little less
full than usual. 'Oh, that's the best room with the carpet on the floor,
and there by the stove is your room, father. But you mustn't spit on the
floor, because we are rich people.'"

Madam Johnsen began to cry. "And then he struck her on the head. 'Hold
your tongue!' he cried, and he cursed and swore at the child something
frightful. 'I don't want to hear your infernal chatter!' That's the sort
he was. Life began to be a bit easier when he had drowned himself in the
sewer. The times when I might have amused myself he'd stolen from me
with his talk of the future, and now I sit there turning old soldiers'
trousers that fill the room with filth, and when I do two a day I can
earn a mark. And Hanne goes about like a sleep-walker. Happiness! Is
there a soul in the 'Ark' that didn't begin with a firm belief in
something better? One doesn't move from one's own choice into such a
mixed louse's nest, but one ends up there all the same. And is there
anybody here who is really sure of his daily bread? Yes, Olsens with the
warm wall, but they've got their daughter's shame to thank for that."

"All the more reason to set to work," said Pelle.

"Yes, you may well say that! But any one who fights against the
unconquerable will soon be tired out. No, let things be and amuse
yourself while you are still young. But don't you take any notice of my
complaining--me--an old whimperer, I am--walking with you and being in
the dumps like this--now we'll go and amuse ourselves!" And now she
looked quite contented again.

"Then take my arm--it's only proper with a pair of sweethearts," said
Pelle, joking. The old woman took his arm and went tripping youthfully
along. "Yes, if it had been in my young days, I would soon have known
how to dissuade you from your silly tricks," she said gaily. "I should
have been taking you to the dance."

"But you didn't manage to get Johnsen to give them up," said Pelle in
reply.

"No, because then I was too credulous. But no one would succeed in
robbing me of my youth now!"

The meeting was held in a big hall in one of the side streets by the
North Bridge. The entertainment, which was got up by some of the
agitators, was designed principally for young people; but many women and
young girls were present. Among other things a poem was read which dealt
with an old respectable blacksmith who was ruined by a strike. "That may
be very fine and touching," whispered Madam Johnsen, polishing her nose
in her emotion, "but they really ought to have something one can laugh
over. We see misfortune every day."

Then a small choir of artisans sang some songs, and one of the older
leaders mounted the platform and told them about the early years of the
movement. When he had finished, he asked if there was no one else who
had something to tell them. It was evidently not easy to fill out the
evening.

There was no spirit in the gathering. The women were not finding it
amusing, and the men sat watching for anything they could carp at. Pelle
knew most of those present; even the young men had hard faces, on which
could be read an obstinate questioning. This homely, innocent
entertainment did not appease the burning impatience which filled their
hearts, listening for a promise of better things.

Pelle sat there pained by the proceedings; the passion for progress and
agitation was in his very blood. Here was such an opportunity to strike
a blow for unification, and it was passing unused. The women only needed
a little rousing, the factory-girls and the married women too, who held
back their husbands. And they stood up there, frittering away the time
with their singing and their poetry-twaddle! With one leap he stood on
the platform.

"All these fine words may be very nice," he cried passionately, "but
they are very little use to all those who can't live on them! The
clergyman and the dog earn their living with their mouths, but the rest
of us are thrown on our own resources when we want to get anything. Why
do we slink round the point like cats on hot bricks, why all this
palaver and preaching? Perhaps we don't yet know what we want? They say
we've been slaves for a thousand years! Then we ought to have had time
enough to think it out! Why does so little happen, although we are all
waiting for something, and are ready? Is there no one anywhere who has
the courage to lead us?"

Loud applause followed, especially from the young men; they stamped and
shouted. Pelle staggered down from the platform; he was covered with
sweat.

The old leader ascended the platform again and thanked his colleagues
for their acceptable entertainment. He turned also with smiling thanks
to Pelle. It was gratifying that there was still fire glowing in the
young men; although the occasion was unsuitable. The old folks had led
the movement through evil times; but they by no means wished to prevent
youth from testing itself.

Pelle wanted to stand up and make some answer, but Madam Johnsen held
him fast by his coat. "Be quiet, Pelle," she whispered anxiously;
"you'll venture too far." She would not let go of him, so he had to sit
down again to avoid attracting attention. His cheeks were burning, and
he was as breathless as though he had been running up a hill. It was the
first time he had ventured on a public platform; excitement had sent him
thither.

The people began to get up and to mix together. "Is it over already?"
asked Madam Johnsen. Pelle could see that she was disappointed.

"No, no; now we'll treat ourselves to something," he said, leading the
old woman to a table at the back of the hall. "What can I offer you?"

"Coffee, please, for me! But you ought to have a glass of beer, you are
so warm!"

Pelle wanted coffee too. "You're a funny one for a man!" she said,
laughing. "First you go pitching into a whole crowd of men, and then you
sit down here with an old wife like me and drink coffee! What a crowd of
people there are here; it's almost like a holiday!" She sat looking
about her with shining eyes and rosy cheeks, like a young girl at a
dance. "Take some more of the skin of the milk, Pelle; you haven't got
any. This really is cream!"

The leader came up to ask if he might make Pelle's acquaintance. "I've
heard of you from the president of your Union," he said, giving Pelle
his hand. "I am glad to make your acquaintance; you have done a pretty
piece of work."

"Oh, it wasn't so bad," said Pelle, blushing. "But it really would be
fine if we could really get to work!"

"I know your impatience only too well," retorted the old campaigner,
laughing. "It's always so with the young men. But those who really want
to do something must be able to see to the end of the road." He patted
Pelle on the shoulders and went.

Pelle felt that the people were standing about him and speaking of him.
God knows whether you haven't made yourself ridiculous, he thought.
Close by him two young men were standing, who kept on looking at him
sideways. Suddenly they came up to him.

"We should much like to shake hands with you," said one of them. "My
name is Otto Stolpe, and this is my brother Frederik. That was good,
what you said up there, we want to thank you for it!" They stood by for
some little while, chatting to Pelle. "It would please my father and
mother too, if they could make your acquaintance," said Otto Stolpe.
"Would you care to come home with us?"

"I can't very well this evening; I have some one with me," replied
Pelle.

"You go with them," said Madam Johnsen. "I see some folks from
Kristianshavn back there, I can go home with them."

"But we were meaning to go on the spree a bit now that we've at last
come out!" said Pelle, smiling.

"God forbid! No, we've been on the spree enough for one evening, my old
head is quite turned already. You just be off; that's a thing I haven't
said for thirty years! And many thanks for bringing me with you." She
laughed boisterously.

The Stolpe family lived in Elm Street, on the second floor of one of the
new workmen's tenement houses. The stairs were roomy, and on the door
there was a porcelain plate with their name on it. In the entry an
elderly, well-dressed woman up to them.

"Here is a comrade, mother," said Otto.

"Welcome," she said, as she took Pelle's hand. She held it a moment in
her own as she looked at him.

In the living room sat Stolpe, a mason, reading _The Working Man_.
He was in shirt sleeves, and was resting his heavy arms on the table. He
read whispering to himself, he had not noticed that a guest was in the
room.

"Here's some one who would like to say how-d'ye-do to father," said
Otto, laying his hand on his father's arm.

Stolpe raised his head and looked at Pelle. "Perhaps you would like to
join the Union?" he asked, rising with difficulty, with one hand pressed
on the table. He was tall, his hair was sprinkled with gray; his eyes
were mottled from the impact of splinters of limestone.

"You and your Union!" said Madam Stolpe. "Perhaps you think there's no
one in it but you!"

"No, mother; little by little a whole crowd of people have entered it,
but all the same I was the first."

"I'm already in the Union," said Pelle. "But not in yours. I'm a
shoemaker, you know."

"Shoemaker, ah, that's a poor trade for a journeyman; but all the same a
man can get to be a master; but to-day a mason can't do that--there's a
great difference there. And if one remains a journeyman all his life
long, he has more interest in modifying his position. Do you understand?
That's why the organization of the shoemakers has never been of more
than middling dimensions. Another reason is that they work in their own
rooms, and one can't get them together. But now there's a new man come,
who seems to be making things move."

"Yes, and this is he, father," said Otto, laughing.

"The deuce, and here I stand making a fool of myself! Then I'll say how-
d'ye-do over again! And here's good luck to your plans, young comrade."
He shook Pelle by the hand. "I think we might have a drop of beer,
mother?"

Pelle and Stolpe were soon engaged in a lively conversation; Pelle was
in his element. Until now he had never found his way to the heart of the
movement. There was so much he wanted to ask about, and the old man
incontinently told him of the growth of the organization from year to
year, of their first beginning, when there was only one trades unionist
in Denmark, namely, himself, down to the present time. He knew all the
numbers of the various trades, and was precisely informed as to the
development of each individual union. The sons sat silent, thoughtfully
listening. When they had something to say, they always waited until the
old man nodded his head to show that he had finished. The younger,
Frederik, who was a mason's apprentice, never said "thou" to his father;
he addressed him in the third person, and his continual "father says,
father thinks," sounded curious to Pelle's ears.

While they were still talking Madam Stolpe opened the door leading into
an even prettier room, and invited them to go in and to drink their
coffee. The living-room had already produced an extremely pleasant
impression on Pelle, with its oak-grained dining-room suite and its
horse-hair sofa. But here was a red plush suite, an octagonal table of
walnut wood, with a black inlaid border and twisted wooden feet, and an
etagere full of knick-knacks and pieces of china; mostly droll, impudent
little things. On the walls hung pictures of trades unions and
assemblies and large photographs of workshops; one of a building during
construction, with the scaffolding full of the bricklayers and their
mortar-buckets beside them, each with a trowel or a beer-bottle can in
his hand. On the wall over the sofa hung a large half-length portrait of
a dark, handsome man in a riding-cloak. He looked half a dreamy
adventurer, half a soldier.

"That's the grand master," said Stolpe proudly, standing at Pelle's
side. "There was always a crowd of women at his heels. But they kept
themselves politely in the background, for a fire went out of him at
such times--do you understand? Then it was--Men to the front! And even
the laziest fellow pricked up his ears."

"Then he's dead now, is he?" asked Pelle, with interest.

Stolpe did not answer. "Well," he said briefly, "shall we have our
coffee now?" Otto winked at Pelle; here evidently was a matter that must
not be touched upon.

Stolpe sat staring into his cup, but suddenly he raised his head. "There
are things one doesn't understand," he cried earnestly. "But this is
certain, that but for the grand master here I and a whole host of other
men wouldn't perhaps be respectable fathers of families to-day. There
were many smart fellows among us young comrades, as is always the case;
but as a rule the gifted ones always went to the dogs. For when a man
has no opportunity to alter things, he naturally grows impatient, and
then one fine day he begins to pour spirit on the flames in order to
stop his mouth. I myself had that accursed feeling that I must do
something, and little by little I began to drink. But then I discovered
the movement, before it existed, I might venture to say; it was in the
air like, d'you see. It was as though something was coming, and one
sniffed about like a dog in order to catch a glimpse of it. Presently it
was, Here it is! There it is! But when one looked into it, there was
just a few hungry men bawling at one another about something or other,
but the devil himself didn't know what it was. But then the grand master
came forward, and that was like a flash of light for all of us. For he
could say to a nicety just where the shoe pinched, although he didn't
belong to our class at all. Since that time there's been no need to go
searching for the best people--they were always to be found in the
movement! Although there weren't very many of them, the best people were
always on the side of the movement."

"But now there's wind in the sails," said Pelle.

"Yes, now there's talk of it everywhere. But to whom is that due? God
knows, to us old veterans--and to him there!"

Stolpe began to talk of indifferent matters, but quite involuntarily the
conversation returned to the movement; man and wife lived and breathed
for nothing else. They were brave, honest people, who quite simply
divided mankind into two parts: those who were for and those who were
against the movement. Pelle seemed to breathe more freely and deeply in
this home, where the air was as though steeped in Socialism.

He noticed a heavy chest which stood against the wall on four twisted
legs. It was thickly ornamented with nail-heads and looked like an old
muniment chest.

"Yes--that's the standard!" said Madam Stolpe, but she checked herself
in alarm. Mason Stolpe knitted his brows.

"Ah, well, you're a decent fellow, after all," he said. "One needn't
slink on tiptoe in front of you!" He took a key out of a secret
compartment in his writing-table. "Now the danger's a thing of the past,
but one still has to be careful. That's a vestige of the times when
things used to go hardly with us. The police used to be down on all our
badges of common unity. The grand master himself came to me one evening
with the flag under his cloak, and said to me, 'You must look out for
it, Stolpe, you are the most reliable of us all.'"

He and his wife unfolded the great piece of bunting. "See, that's the
banner of the International. It looks a little the worse for wear, for
it has undergone all sorts of treatment. At the communist meetings out
in the fields, when the troops were sent against us with ball cartridge,
it waved over the speaker's platform, and held us together. When it
flapped over our heads it was as though we were swearing an oath to it.
The police understood that, and they were mad to get it. They went for
the flag during a meeting, but nothing came of it, and since then
they've hunted for it so, it's had to be passed from man to man. In that
way it has more than once come to me."

"Yes, and once the police broke in here and took father away as we were
sitting at supper. They turned the whole place upside down, and dragged
him off to the cells without a word of explanation. The children were
little then, and you can imagine how miserable it seemed to me. I didn't
know when they would let him out again."

"Yes, but they didn't get the colors," said Stolpe, and he laughed
heartily. "I had already passed them on, they were never very long in
one place in those days. Now they lead a comparatively quiet life, and
mother and the rest of us too!"

The young men stood in silence, gazing at the standard that had seen so
many vicissitudes, and that was like the hot red blood of the movement.
Before Pelle a whole new world was unfolding itself; the hope that had
burned in the depths of his soul was after all not so extravagant. When
he was still running, wild at home, playing the games of childhood or
herding the cows, strong men had already been at work and had laid the
foundations of the cause.... A peculiar warmth spread through him and
rose to his head. If only it had been he who had waved the glowing
standard in the face of the oppressor--he, Pelle!

"And now it lies here in the chest and is forgotten!" he said
dejectedly.

"It is only resting," said Stolpe. "Forgotten, yes; the police have no
idea that it still exists. But fix it on a staff, and you will see how
the comrades flock about it! Old and young alike. There's fire in that
bit of cloth! True fire, that never goes out!"

Carefully they folded the colors and laid them back in the chest. "It
won't do even now to speak aloud of the colors! You understand?" said
Stolpe.

There was a knock, and Stolpe made haste to lock the chest and hide the
key, while Frederik went to the door. They looked at one another
uneasily and stood listening.

"It is only Ellen," said Frederik, and he returned, followed by a tall
dark girl with an earnest bearing. She had a veil over her face, and
before her mouth her breath showed like a pearly tissue.

"Ah, that's the lass!" cried Stolpe, laughing. "What folly--we were
quite nervous, just as nervous as in the old days. And you're abroad in
the streets at this hour of night! And in this weather?" He looked at
her affectionately; one could see that she was his darling. Outwardly
they were very unlike.

She greeted Pelle with the tiniest nod, but looked at him earnestly.
There was something still and gracious about her that fascinated him.
She wore dark clothes, without the slightest adornment, but they were of
good sound stuff.

"Won't you change?" asked the mother, unbuttoning her cloak. "You are
quite wet, child."

"No, I must go out again at once," Ellen replied. "I only wanted to peep
in."

"But it's really very late," grumbled Stolpe. "Are you only off duty
now?"

"Yes, it's not my going-out day."

"Not to-day again? Yes, it's sheer slavery, till eleven at night!"

"That's the way things are, and it doesn't make it any better for you to
scold me," said Ellen courageously.

"No, but you needn't go out to service. There's no sense in our children
going out to service in the houses of the employers. Don't you agree
with me?" He turned to Pelle.

Ellen laughed brightly. "It's all the same--father works for the
employers as well."

"Yes, but that's a different thing. It's from one fixed hour to another,
and then it's over. But this other work is a home; she goes from one
home to another and undertakes all the dirty work."

"Father's not in a position to keep me at home."

"I know that very well, but all the same I can't bear it. Besides, you
could surely get some other kind of work."

"Yes, but I don't want to! I claim the right to dispose of myself!" she
replied heatedly.

The others sat silent, looking nervously at one another. The veins
swelled on Stolpe's forehead; he was purple, and terribly angry. But
Ellen looked at him with a little laugh. He got up and went grumbling
into the other room.

Her mother shook her head at Ellen. She was quite pale. "Oh, child,
child!" she whispered.

After a while Stolpe returned with some old newspapers, which he wanted
to show Pelle. Ellen stood behind his chair, looking down at them; she
rested her arm on his shoulders and idly ruffled his hair. The mother
pulled at her skirt. The papers were illustrated, and went back to the
stirring times.

The clock struck the half-hour; it was half-past eleven. Pelle rose in
consternation; he had quite forgotten the time.

"Take the lass with you," said Stolpe. "You go the same way, don't you,
Ellen? Then you'll have company. There's no danger going with her, for
she's a saint." It sounded as though he wanted to make up for his
scolding. "Come again soon; you will always be welcome here."

They did not speak much on the way home. Pelle was embarrassed, and he
had a feeling that she was considering him and thinking him over as they
walked, wondering what sort of a fellow he might be. When he ventured to
say something, she answered briefly and looked at him searchingly. And
yet he found it was an interesting walk. He would gladly have prolonged
it.

"Many thanks for your company," he said, when they stood at her house-
door. "I should be very glad to see you again."

"You will if we meet," she said taciturnly; but she gave him her hand
for a moment.

"We are sure to meet again! Be sure of that!" cried Pelle jovially. "But
you are forgetting to reward me for my escort?" He bent over her.

She gazed at him in astonishment--with eyes that were turning him to
stone, he thought. Then she slowly turned and went indoors.



X


One day, after his working hours, Pelle was taking some freshly
completed work to the Court shoemaker's. The foreman took it and paid
for it, and proceeded to give out work to the others, leaving Pelle
standing. Pelle waited impatiently, but did no more than clear his
throat now and again. This was the way of these people; one had to put
up with it if one wanted work. "Have you forgotten me?" he said at last,
a little impatiently.

"You can go," said the foreman. "You've finished here."

"What does that mean?" asked Pelle, startled.

"It means what you hear. You've got the sack--if you understand that
better."

Pelle understood that very well, but he wanted to establish the fact of
his persecution in the presence of his comrades. "Have you any fault to
find with my work?" he asked.

"You mix yourself up too much with things that don't concern you, my
good fellow, and then you can't do the work you ought to do."

"I should like very much to know what fault you have to find with my
work," said Pelle obstinately.

"Go to the devil! I've told you already!" roared the foreman.

The Court shoemaker came down through the door of the back room and
looked about him. When he saw Pelle, he went up to him.

"You get out of here, and that at once!" he cried, in a rage. "Do you
think we give bread to people that undermine us? Out, out of my place of
business, Mossoo Trades-Unionist!"

Pelle stood his ground, and looked his employer in the eyes; he would
have struck the man a blow in the face rather than allow himself to be
sent away. "Be cool, now; be cool!" he said to himself. He laughed, but
his features were quivering. The Court shoemaker kept a certain
distance, and continued to shout, "Out with him! Here, foreman, call the
police at once!"

"Now you can see, comrades, how they value one here," said Pelle,
turning his broad back on Meyer. "We are dogs; nothing more!"

They stood there, staring at the counter, deaf and dumb in their dread
of taking sides. Then Pelle went.  He made his way northward. His heart
was full of violent emotion. Indignation raged within him like a
tempest, and by fits and starts found utterance on his lips. Meyer's
work was quite immaterial to him; it was badly paid, and he only did it
as a stop-gap. But it was disgusting to think they could buy his
convictions with badly-paid work! And there they stood not daring to
show their colors, as if it wasn't enough to support such a fellow with
their skill and energy! Meyer stood there like a wall, in the way of any
real progress, but he needn't think he could strike at Pelle, for he'd
get a blow in return if he did!

He went straight to Mason Stolpe, in order to talk the matter over with
him; the old trades unionist was a man of great experience.

"So he's one of those who go in for the open slave-trade!" said Stolpe.
"We've had a go at them before now. 'We've done with you, my good man;
we can make no use of agitators!' And if one steals a little march on
them 'Off you go; you're done with here!' I myself have been like a
hunted cur, and at home mother used to go about crying. I could see what
she was feeling, but when I put the matter before her she said, 'Hold
out, Stolpe, you shan't give in!' 'You're forgetting our daily bread,
mother,' I say. 'Oh, our daily bread. I can just go out washing!' That
was in those days--they sing another tune to us now! Now the master
politely raises his hat to old Stolpe! If he thinks he can allow himself
to hound a man down, an embargo must be put on him!"

Pelle had nothing to say against that. "If only it works," he said. "But
our organization looks weak enough as yet."

"Only try it; in any case, you can always damage him. He attacks your
livelihood in order to strike at your conscience, so you hit back at his
purse-that's where his conscience is! Even if it does no good, at least
it makes him realize that you're not a slave."

Pelle sat a while longer chatting. He had secretly hoped to meet Ellen
again, but he dared not ask whether that was her day for coming home.
Madam Stolpe invited him to stay and to have supper with them she was
only waiting for her sons. But Pelle had no time; he must be off to
think out instructions for the embargo. "Then come on Sunday," said the
mother; "Sunday is Ellen's birthday."

With rapid strides he went off to the president of the Union; the
invitation for the following Sunday had dissipated the remains of his
anger. The prospect of a tussle with Meyer had put him in the best of
tempers. He was certain of winning the president, Petersen, for his
purpose, if only he could find him out of bed; he himself had in his
time worked for wholesale shoemakers, and hated them like the plague. It
was said that Petersen had worked out a clever little invention--a
patent button for ladies' boots--which he had taken to Meyer, as he
himself did not know how to exploit it. But Meyer had, without more ado,
treated the invention as his own, inasmuch as it was produced by one of
his workmen. He took out a patent and made a lot of money by it,
trifling as the thing was. When Petersen demanded a share of the
profits, he was dismissed. He himself never spoke of the matter; he just
sat in his cellar brooding over the injustice, so that he never managed
to recover his position. Almost his whole time had been devoted to the
Union, so that he might revenge himself through it; but it never really
made much progress. He fired up passionately enough, but he was lacking
in persistence. And his lungs were weak.

He trembled with excitement when Pelle explained his plan. "Great God in
heaven, if only we could get at him!" he whispered hoarsely, clenching
his skinny fists which Death had already marked with its dusky shadows.
"I would willingly give my miserable life to see the scoundrel ruined!
Look at that!" He bent down, whispering, and showed Pelle a file ground
to a point, which was fastened into a heavy handle. "If I hadn't the
children, he would have got that between his ribs long before this!" His
gray, restless eyes, which reminded Pelle of Anker, the crazy
clockmaker, had a cold, piercing expression.

"Yes, yes," said Pelle, laying his hand soothingly on the other's; "but
it's no use to do anything stupid. We shall only do what we want to do
if we all stand together."

The day was well spent; on the very next evening the members of the
Union were summoned to a meeting. Petersen spoke first, and beginning
with a fiery speech. It was like the final efforts of a dying man. "You
organize the struggle," said Petersen. "I'm no good nowadays for that--
and I've no strength. But I'll sound the assault--ay, and so that they
wake up. Then you yourself must see to keeping the fire alight in them."
His eyes burned in their shadowy sockets; he stood there like a martyr
upholding the necessity of the conflict. The embargo was agreed upon
unanimously!

Then Pelle came forward and organized the necessary plan of campaign. It
was his turn now. There was no money in the chest, but every man had to
promise a certain contribution to be divided among those who were
refusing to work. Every man must do his share to deprive Meyer of all
access to the labor market. And there was to be no delirious enthusiasm
--which they would regret when they woke up next morning. It was
essential that every man should form beforehand a clear conception of
the difficulties, and must realize what he was pledging himself to. And
then--three cheers for a successful issue!

This business meant a lot of running about. But what of that! Pelle, who
had to sit such a lot, wouldn't suffer from getting out into the fresh
air! He employed the evenings in making up for lost time. He got work
from the small employers in Kristianshavn, who were very busy in view of
Christmas, which made up for that which he had lost through the Court
shoemaker.

On the second day after his dismissal, the declaration of the embargo
appeared under the "Labor Items" in _The Working Man_. "Assistance
strictly prohibited!" It was like the day's orders, given by Pelle's own
word of mouth. He cut the notice out, and now and again, as he sat at
his work, he took it out and considered it. This was Pelle--although it
didn't say so--

Pelle and the big employer were having a bit of a tussle! Now they
should see which was the stronger!

Pelle went often to see Stolpe. Strangely enough, his visits always
coincided with Ellen's days off. Then he accompanied her homeward, and
they walked side by side talking of serious things. There was nothing
impetuous about them--they behaved as though a long life lay before
them. His vehemence cooled in the conflict with Meyer. He was sure of
Ellen's character, unapproachable though she was. Something in him told
him that she ought to be and would remain so. She was one of those
natures to whom it is difficult to come out of their shell, so as to
reveal the kernel within; but he felt that there was something that was
growing for him within that reserved nature, and he was not impatient.

One evening he had as usual accompanied her to the door, and they stood
there bidding one another good night. She gave him her hand in her shy,
awkward manner, which might even mean reluctance, and was then about to
go indoors.

"But are we going on like this all our lives?" said Pelle, holding her
fingers tightly. "I love you so!"

She stood there a while, with an impenetrable expression, then advanced
her face and kissed him mechanically, as a child kisses, with tightly
closed lips. She was already on her way to the house when she suddenly
started back, drew him to herself, and kissed him passionately and
unrestrainedly. There was something so violent, so wild and fanatical in
her demeanor, that he was quite bewildered. He scarcely recognized her,
and when he had come to himself she was already on her way up the
kitchen steps. He stood still, as though blinded by a rain of fire, and
heard her running as though pursued.

Since that day she had been another creature. Her love was like the
spring that comes in a single night. She could not be without him for a
day; when she went out to make purchases, she came running over to the
"Ark." Her nature had thrown off its restraint; there was tension in her
manner and her movements; and this tension now and again escaped from
within in little explosions. She did not say very much; when they were
together, she clung to him passionately as though to deaden some pain,
and hid her face; if he lifted it, she kept her eyes persistently
closed. Then she breathed deeply, and sat down smiling and humming to
herself when he spoke to her.

It was as though she was delving deep into his inmost being, and Pelle,
who felt the need to reach and to know that inner nature, drew
confidence from her society. No matter what confronted him, he had
always sought in his inner self for his natural support, anxiously
listening for that which came to the surface, and unconsciously doubting
and inquiring. And now, so surely as she leaned silently on his arm, she
confirmed something deep within him, and her steadfast gaze vibrated
within him like a proud vocation, and he felt himself infinitely rich.
She spoke to something deep within him when she gazed at him so
thoughtfully. But what she said he did not know--nor what answer she
received. When he recalled her from that gaze of hers, as of one
bewitched, she only sighed like one awaking, and kissed him.

Ellen was loyal and unselfish and greatly valued by her employers. There
was no real development to be perceived in her--she longed to become
his--and that was all. But the future was born on Pelle's own lips under
her dreamy gaze, as though it was she who inspired him with the
illuminating words. And then she listened with an absent smile--as to
something delightful; but she herself seemed to give no thought to the
future. She seemed full of a hidden devotion, that filled Pelle with an
inward warmth, so that he held up his head very high toward the light.
This constant devotion of Ellen's made the children "Family" teasingly
call her "the Saint."

It gave him much secret pleasure to be admitted to her home, where the
robust Copenhagen humor concealed conditions quite patriarchal in their
nature. Everything was founded on order and respect for the parents,
especially the father, who spoke the decisive word in every matter, and
had his own place, in which no one else ever sat. When he came home from
his work, the grown-up sons would always race to take him his slippers,
and the wife always had some extra snack for him. The younger son,
Frederik, who was just out of his apprenticeship, was as delighted as a
child to think of the day when he should become a journeyman and be able
to drink brotherhood with the old man.

They lived in a new, spacious, three-roomed tenement with a servant's
room thrown in; to Pelle, who was accustomed to find his comrades over
here living in one room with a kitchen, this was a new experience. The
sons boarded and lodged at home; they slept in the servant's room. The
household was founded on and supported by their common energies;
although the family submitted unconditionally to the master of the
house, they did not do so out of servility; they only did as all others
did. For Stolpe was the foremost man in his calling, an esteemed worker
and the veteran of the labor movement. His word was unchallenged.

Ellen was the only one who did not respect his supremacy, but
courageously opposed him, often without any further motive than that of
contradiction. She was the only girl of the family, and the favorite;
and she took advantage of her position. Sometimes it looked as though
Stolpe would be driven to extremities; as though he longed to pulverize
her in his wrath; but he always gave in to her.

He was greatly pleased with Pelle. And he secretly admired his daughter
more than ever. "You see, mother, there's something in that lass! She
understands how to pick a man for himself!" he would cry
enthusiastically.

"Yes; I've nothing against him, either," Madam Stolpe would reply. "A
bit countrified still, but of course he's growing out of it."

"Countrified? He? No, you take my word, he knows what he wants. She's
really found her master there!" said Stolpe triumphantly.

In the two brothers Pelle found a pair of loyal comrades, who could not
but look up to him.



XI


With the embargo matters were going so-so. Meyer replied to it by
convoking the employers to a meeting with a view to establishing an
employers' union, which would refuse employment to the members of the
trade union. Then the matter would have been settled at one blow.

However, things did not go so far as that. The small employers were
afraid the journeymen would set up for themselves and compete against
them. And instinctively they feared the big employers more than the
journeymen, and were shy of entering the Union with them. The inner
tendency of the industrial movement was to concentrate everything in a
few hands, and to ruin the small business. The small employers had yet
another crow to pluck with Meyer, who had extended his business at the
expense of their own.

Through Master Beck, Pelle learned what was taking place among the
employers. Meyer had demanded that Beck should discharge Pelle, but Beck
would not submit to him.

"I can't really complain of you," he said. "Your trades-unionism I don't
like--you would do better to leave it alone. But with your work I am
very well satisfied. I have always endeavored to render justice to all
parties. But if you can knock Meyer's feet from under him, we small
employers will be very grateful to your Union, for he's freezing us
out."

To knock his feet from under him-that wasn't an easy thing to do. On the
contrary, he was driving the weaker brethren out of the Union, and had
always enough workers--partly Swedes, with whom he had a written
contract, and whom he had to pay high wages. The system of home
employment made it impossible to get to grips with him. Pelle and the
president of the Union carefully picketed the warehouse about the time
when the work was delivered, in order to discover who was working for
him. And they succeeded in snatching a few workers away from him and in
bringing them to reason, or else their names were published in The
Working Man. But then the journeymen sent their wives or children with
the work--and there was really nothing that could be done. It cost Meyer
large sums of money to keep his business going, but the Union suffered
more. It had not as yet sufficient authority, and the large employers
stood by Meyer and would not employ members of the Union as long as the
embargo lasted. So it was finally raised.

That was a defeat; but Pelle had learned something, none the less! The
victory was to the strong, and their organization was not as yet
sufficient. They must talk and agitate, and hold meetings! The tendency
to embrace the new ideas certainly inclined the men to organize
themselves, but their sense of honor was as yet undeveloped. The
slightest mishap dispersed them.

Pelle did not lose heart; he must begin all over again, that was all.

On the morning after the defeat was an accomplished fact he was up
early. His resolution to go ahead with redoubled energies, he had, so to
speak, slept into him, so that it pervaded his body and put energy and
decision into his hammer-strokes.

He whistled as the work progressed rapidly under his hands. The window
stood open so that the night air might escape; hoar frost lay on the
roofs, and the stars twinkled overhead in the cold heavens. But Pelle
was not cold! He had just awakened the "Family" and could hear them
moving about in their room. People were beginning to tumble out into the
gangway, still drunken with sleep. Pelle was whistling a march. On the
previous evening he had sent off the last instalment of his debt to
Sort, and at the same time had written definitely to Father Lasse that
he was to come. And now the day was dawning!

Marie came and reached him his coffee through the door. "Good morning!"
she cried merrily, through the crack of the door. "We're going to have
fine weather to-day, Pelle!" She was not quite dressed yet and would not
let herself be seen. The boys nodded good morning as they ran out. Karl
had his coat and waistcoat under his arm. These articles of clothing he
always used to put on as he ran down the stairs.

When it was daylight Marie came in to set the room in order. She
conversed with him as she scrubbed.

"Look here, Marie!" cried Pelle suddenly. "Ellen came here yesterday and
asked you to bring me a message when I came home. You didn't do it."

Marie's face became set, but she did not reply.

"It was only by pure chance that I met her yesterday, otherwise we
should have missed one another."

"Then I must have forgotten it," said Marie morosely.

"Why, of course you forgot it. But that's the second time this week. You
must be in love!" he added, smiling.

Marie turned her back on him. "I've got nothing to do with her--I don't
owe her anything!" suddenly she cried defiantly. "And I'm not going to
clean your room any longer, either--let her do it--so there!" She seized
her pail and scrubbing-brush and ran into her own room. After a time he
heard her voice from within the room; at first he thought she was
singing a tune to herself, but then he heard sobs.

He hurried into the room; she was lying on the bed, weeping, biting the
pillow and striking at it angrily with her roughened hands. Her thin
body burned as if with fever.

"You are ill, Marie dear," said Pelle anxiously, laying his hand on her
forehead. "You ought to go to bed and take something to make you sweat.
I'll warm it up for you."

She was really ill; her eyes were dry and burning, and her hands were
cold and clammy. But she would agree to nothing. "Go away!" she said
angrily, "and attend to your own work! Leave me alone!" She had turned
her back on him and nudged him away defiantly with her shoulder. "You'd
best go in and cuddle Ellen!" she cried suddenly, with a malicious
laugh.

"Why are you like this, Marie?" said Pelle, distressed. "You are quite
naughty!"

She buried her face in the bed and would neither look at him nor answer
him. So he went back to his work.

After a time she came into his room again and resumed her work of
cleaning. She banged the things about; pulling down some work of his
that he had set to dry by the stove, and giving him a malicious sidelong
look. Then a cup containing paste fell to the ground and was broken.
"She did that on purpose," he thought unhappily, and he put the paste
into an empty box. She stood watching him with a piercing, malicious
gaze.

He turned to his work again, and made as though nothing had happened.
Suddenly he felt her thin arms about his neck. "Forgive me!" she said,
weeping, and she hid her face against his shoulder.

"Come, come, nothing very dreadful has happened! The silly old cup!" he
said consolingly, as he stroked her head. "You couldn't help it!"

But at that she broke down altogether, and it seemed as though her
crying would destroy her meager body. "Yes, I did it on purpose!" she
bellowed. "And I threw down the boots on purpose, and yesterday I didn't
give you the message on purpose. I would have liked to hurt you still
more, I'm so bad, bad, bad! Why doesn't some one give me a good beating?
If you'd only once be properly angry with me!"

She was quite beside herself and did not know what she was saying.

"Now listen to me at once--you've got to be sensible!" said Pelle
decidedly, "for this sort of thing is not amusing. I was pleased to
think I was going to be at home to-day, so as to work beside you, and
then you go and have an attack just like a fine lady!"

She overcame her weeping by a tremendous effort, and went back to her
room, gently sobbing. She returned at once with a cracked cup for the
paste and a small tin box with a slit in the lid. This was her money-
box.

"Take it," she said, pushing the box onto his lap. "Then you can buy
yourself lasts and needn't go asking the small employers for work.
There's work enough here in the 'Ark.'"

"But, Marie--that's your rent!" said Pelle, aghast.

"What does that matter? I can easily get the money together again by the
first."

Oh, she could easily do that! Pelle laughed, a bewildered laugh. How
cheerfully she threw her money about, the money that cost her thirty
days of painful thought and saving, in order to have it ready each
month!

"What do you think Peter and Karl would say to your chucking your money
about like that? Put the box away again safely-and be quick about it!"

"Oh, take it!" she cried persistently, thrusting the box upon him.
again. "Yes--or I'll throw it out of the window!" She quickly opened one
of the sashes. Pelle stood up.

"It's true I still owe you for the last washing," he said, offering to
put a krone in the box.

"A good thing you reminded me." She stared at him with an impenetrable
expression and ran back to her room.

In there she moved about singing in her harsh voice. After a while she
went out to make some purchases clad in a gray shawl, with her house-
wife's basket on her arm. He could follow her individual step, which was
light as a child's, and yet sounded so old--right to the end of the
tunnel. Then he went into the children's room and pulled out the third
drawer in the chest of drawers. There she always hid her money-box,
wrapped up in her linen. He still possessed two kroner, which he
inserted in the box.

He used always to pay her in this way. When she counted out her money
and found there was too much, she believed the good God had put the
money in her box, and would come jubilantly into his room to tell him
about it. The child believed blindly in Fortune, and accepted the money
as a sign of election; and for her this money was something quite
different to that which she herself had saved.

About noon she came to invite him into her room. "There's fried herring,
Pelle, so you can't possibly say no," she said persuasively, "for no
Bornholmer could! Then you needn't go and buy that stuffy food from the
hawker, and throw away five and twenty ore." She had bought half a score
of the fish, and had kept back five for her brothers when they came
home. "And there's coffee after," she said. She had set out everything
delightfully, with a clean napkin at one end of the table.

The factory girl's little Paul came in and was given a mouthful of food.
Then he ran out into the gangway again and tumbled about there, for the
little fellow was never a moment still from the moment his mother let
him out in the morning; there was so much to make up for after his long
imprisonment. From the little idiot whom his mother had to tie to the
stove because he had water on the brain and wanted to throw himself out
of the window, he had become a regular vagabond. Every moment he would
thrust his head in at the door and look at Pelle; and he would often
come right in, put his hand on Pelle's knee, and say, "You's my father!"
Then he would rush off again. Marie helped him in all his infantile
necessities--he always appealed to her!

After she had washed up, she sat by Pelle with her mending, chattering
away concerning her household cares. "I shall soon have to get jackets
for the boys--it's awful what they need now they're grown up. I peep in
at the second-hand clothes shop every day. And you must have a new
blouse, too, Pelle; that one will soon be done for; and then you've none
to go to the wash. If you'll buy the stuff, I'll soon make it up for
you--I can sew! I made my best blouse myself--Hanne helped me with it!
Why, really, don't you go to see Hanne any longer?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"Hanne has grown so peculiar. She never comes down into the courtyard
now to dance with us. She used to. Then I used to watch out of the
window, and run down. It was so jolly, playing with her. We used to go
round and round her and sing! 'We all bow to Hanne, we curtsy all to
Hanne, we all turn round before her!' And then we bowed and curtsied and
suddenly we all turned round. I tell you, it was jolly! You ought to
have taken Hanne."

"But you didn't like it when I took Ellen. Why should I have taken
Hanne?"

"Oh, I don't know ... Hanne...." Marie stopped, listened, and suddenly
wrenched the window open.

Down in the "Ark" a door slammed, and a long hooting sound rose up from
below, sounding just like a husky scream from the crazy Vinslev's flute
or like the wind in the long corridors. Like a strange, disconnected
snatch of melody, the sound floated about below, trickling up along the
wooden walls, and breaking out into the daylight with a note of ecstasy:
"Hanne's with child! The Fairy Princess is going to be confined!"

Marie went down the stairs like a flash. The half-grown girls were
shrieking and running together in the court below; the women on the
galleries were murmuring to others above and below. Not that this was in
itself anything novel; but in this case it was Hanne herself, the
immaculate, whom as yet no tongue had dared to besmirch. And even now
they dared hardly speak of it openly; it had come as such a shock. In a
certain sense they had all entered into her exaltation, and with her had
waited for the fairy-tale to come true; as quite a child she had been
elected to represent the incomprehensible; and now she was merely going
to have a child! It really was like a miracle just at first; it was such
a surprise to them all!

Marie came back with dragging steps and with an expression of horror and
astonishment. Down in the court the grimy-nosed little brats were
screeching, as they wheeled hand in hand round the sewer-grating--it was
splendid for dancing round--

  "Bro-bro-brille-brid
  Hanne's doin' to have a tid!"

They couldn't speak plainly yet.

And there was "Grete with the baby," the mad-woman, tearing her cellar-
window open, leaning out of it backward, with her doll on her arm, and
yelling up through the well, so that it echoed loud and shrill: "The
Fairy Princess has got a child, and Pelle's its father!"

Pelle bent over his work in silence. Fortunately he was not the king's
son in disguise in this case! But he wasn't going to wrangle with women.

Hanne's mother came storming out onto her gallery. "That's a shameless
lie!" she cried. "Pelle's name ain't going to be dragged into this--the
other may be who he likes!"

Overhead the hearse-driver came staggering out onto his gallery. "The
princess there has run a beam into her body," he rumbled, in his good-
natured bass. "What a pity I'm not a midwife! They've got hold of the
wrong end of it!"

"Clear off into your hole and hold your tongue, you body-snatcher!"
cried Madam Johnsen, spitting with rage. "You've got to stick your
brandy-nose into everything!"

He stood there, half drunk, leaning over the rail, babbling, teasing,
without returning Madam Johnsen's vituperation. But then little Marie
flung up a window and came to her assistance, and up from her platform
Ferdinand's mother emerged. "How many hams did you buy last month? Fetch
out your bear hams, then, and show us them! He kills a bear for every
corpse, the drunkard!" From all sides they fell upon him. He could do
nothing against them, and contented himself with opening his eyes and
his mouth and giving vent to a "Ba-a-a!" Then his red-haired wife came
out and hailed him in.



XII


From the moment when the gray morning broke there was audible a peculiar
note in the buzzing of the "Ark," a hoarse excitement, which thrust all
care aside. Down the long corridors there was a sound of weeping and
scrubbing; while the galleries and the dark wooden stair-cases were
sluiced with water. "Look out there!" called somebody every moment from
somewhere, and then it was a question of escaping the downward-streaming
flood. During the whole morning the water poured from one gallery to
another, as over a mill-race.

But now the "Ark" stood freezing in its own cleanliness, with an
expression that seemed to say the old warren didn't know itself. Here
and there a curtain or a bit of furniture had disappeared from a window
--it had found its way to the pawn shop in honor of the day. What was
lacking in that way was made up for by the expectation and festive
delight on the faces of the inmates.

Little fir-trees peeped out of the cellar entries in the City Ward, and
in the market-place they stood like a whole forest along the wall of the
prison. In the windows of the basement-shops hung hearts and colored
candles, and the grocer at the corner had a great Christmas goblin in
his window--it was made of red and gray wool-work and had a whole cat's
skin for its beard.

On the stairs of the "Ark" the children lay about cleaning knives and
forks with sand sprinkled on the steps.

Pelle sat over his work and listened in secret. His appearance usually
had a quieting effect on these crazy outbursts of the "Ark," but he did
not want to mix himself up with this affair. And he had never even
dreamed that Hanne's mother could be like this! She was like a fury,
turning her head, quick as lightning, now to one side, now to the
other, and listening to every sound, ready to break out again!

Ah, she was protecting her child now that it was too late! She was like
a spitting cat.

  "The youngest of all the lordlin's,"

sang the children down in the court. That was Hanne's song. Madam
Johnsen stood there as though she would like to swoop down on their
heads. Suddenly she flung her apron over her face and ran indoors,
sobbing.

"Ah!" they said, and they slapped their bellies every time an odor of
something cooking streamed out into the court. Every few minutes they
had to run out and buy five or ten ore worth of something or other;
there was no end to the things that were needed in preparation for
Christmas Eve. "We're having lovely red beetroot!" said one little
child, singing, making a song of it--"We're having lovely red beetroot,
aha, aha, aha!" And they swayed their little bodies to and fro as they
scoured.

"Frederik!" a sharp voice cried from one of the corridors. "Run and get
a score of firewood and a white roll--a ten-ore one. But look out the
grocer counts the score properly and don't pick out the crumb!"

Madam Olsen with the warm wall was frying pork. She couldn't pull her
range out onto the gallery, but she did let the pork burn so that the
whole courtyard was filled with bluish smoke. "Madam Olsen! Your pork is
burning!" cried a dozen women at once.

"That's because the frying-pan's too small!" replied Frau Olsen,
thrusting her red head out through the balusters. "What's a poor devil
to do when her frying-pan's too small?" And Madam Olsen's frying-pan was
the biggest in the whole "Ark"!

Shortly before the twilight fell Pelle came home from the workshop. He
saw the streets and the people with strange eyes that diffused a
radiance over all things; it was the Christmas spirit in his heart. But
why? he asked himself involuntarily. Nothing in particular was in store
for him. To-day he would have to work longer than usual, and he would
not be able to spend the evening with Ellen, for she had to be busy in
her kitchen, making things jolly for others. Why, then, did this feeling
possess him? It was not a memory; so far as he could look back he had
never taken part in a genuine cheerful Christmas Eve, but had been
forced to content himself with the current reports of such festivities.
And all the other poor folks whom he met were in the same mood as he
himself. The hard questioning look had gone from their faces; they were
smiling to themselves as they went. To-day there was nothing of that
wan, heavy depression which commonly broods over the lower classes like
the foreboding of disaster; they could not have looked more cheerful had
all their hopes been fulfilled! A woman with a feather-bed in her arms
passed him and disappeared into the pawn-shop; and she looked extremely
well pleased. Were they really so cheerful just because they were going
to have a bit of a feast, while to do so they were making a succession
of lean days yet leaner? No, they were going to keep festival because
the Christmas spirit prevailed in their hearts, because they must keep
holiday, however dearly it might cost them!

It was on this night to be sure that Christ was born. Were the people so
kind and cheerful on that account?

Pelle still knew by heart most of the Bible texts of his school-days.
They had remained stowed away somewhere in his mind, without burdening
him or taking up any room, and now and again they reappeared and helped
to build up his knowledge of mankind. But of Christ Himself he had
formed his own private picture, from the day when as a boy he first
stumbled upon the command given to the rich: to sell all that they had
and to give to the starving. But they took precious good care not to do
so; they took the great friend of the poor man and hanged him on high!
He achieved no more than this, that He became a promise to the poor; but
perhaps it was this promise that, after two thousand years, they were
now so solemnly celebrating!

They had so long been silent, holding themselves in readiness, like the
wise virgins in the Bible, and now at last it was coming! Now at last
they were beginning to proclaim the great Gospel of the Poor--it was a
goodly motive for all this Christmas joy! Why did they not assemble the
multitudes on the night of Christ's birth and announce the Gospel to them?
Then they would all understand the Cause and would join it then and there!
There was a whirl of new living thoughts in Pelle's head. He had not
hitherto known that that in which he was participating was so great a
thing. He felt that he was serving the Highest.

He stood a while in the market-place, silently considering the
Christmas-trees--they led his thoughts back to the pasture on which he
had herded the cows, and the little wood of firs. It pleased him to buy
a tree, and to take the children by surprise; the previous evening they
had sat together cutting out Christmas-tree decorations, and Karl had
fastened four fir-tree boughs together to make a Christmas-tree.

At the grocer's he bought some sweets and Christmas candles. The grocer
was going about on tip-toe in honor of the day, and was serving the
dirty little urchins with ceremonious bows. He was "throwing things in,"
and had quite forgotten his customary, "Here, you, don't forget that you
still owe for two lots of tea and a quarter of coffee!" But he was
cheating with the scales as usual.

Marie was going about with rolled-up sleeves, and was very busy. But she
dropped her work and came running when she saw the tree. "It won't stand
here yet, Pelle," she cried, "it will have to be cut shorter. It will
have to be cut still shorter even now! Oh, how pretty it is! No, at the
end there--at the end! We had a Christmas-tree at home; father went out
himself and cut it down on the cliffs; and we children went with him.
But this one is much finer!" Then she ran out into the gangway, in order
to tell the news, but it suddenly occurred to her that the boys had not
come home yet, so she rushed in to Pelle once more.

Pelle sat down to his work. From time to time he lifted his head and
looked out. The seamstress, who had just moved into Pipman's old den,
and who was working away at her snoring machine, looked longingly at
him. Of course she must be lonely; perhaps there was nowhere where she
could spend the evening.

Old Madam Frandsen came out on her platform and shuffled down the steep
stairs in her cloth slippers. The rope slipped through her trembling
hands. She had a little basket on her arm and a purse in her hand--she
too looked so lonely, the poor old worm! She had now heard nothing of
her son for three months. Madam Olsen called out to her and invited her
in, but the old woman shook her head. On the way back she looked in on
Pelle.

"He's coming this evening," she whispered delightedly. "I've been buying
brandy and beefsteak for him, because he's coming this evening!"

"Well, don't be disappointed, Madam Frandsen," said Pelle, "but he
daren't venture here any more. Come over to us instead and keep
Christmas with us."

She nodded confidently. "He'll come tonight. On Christmas Eve he has
always slept in mother's bed, ever since he could crawl, and he can't do
without it, not if I know my Ferdinand!" She had already made up a bed
for herself on the chairs, so certain was she.

The police evidently thought as she did, for down in the court strange
footsteps were heard. It was just about twilight, when so many were
coming and going unremarked. But at these steps a female head popped
back over the balustrade, a sharp cry was heard, and at the same moment
every gallery was filled with women and children. They hung over the
rails and made an ear-splitting din, so that the whole deep, narrow
shaft was filled with an unendurable uproar. It sounded as though a
hurricane came raging down through the shaft, sweeping with it a
hailstorm of roofing-slates. The policeman leaped back into the tunnel-
entry, stupefied. He stood there a moment recovering himself before he
withdrew. Upstairs, in the galleries, they leaned on the rails and
recovered their breath, exhausted by the terrific eruption; and then
fell to chattering like a flock of small birds that have been chasing a
flying hawk.

"Merry Christmas!" was now shouted from gallery to gallery. "Thanks, the
same to you!" And the children shouted to one another, "A jolly feast
and all the best!" "A dainty feast for man and beast!"

Christmas Eve was here! The men came shuffling home at a heavy trot, and
the factory-girls came rushing in. Here and there a feeble wail filtered
out of one of the long corridors, so that the milk-filled breast ached.
Children incessantly ran in and out, fetching the last ingredients of
the feast. Down by the exit into the street they had to push two tramps,
who stood there shuddering in the cold. They were suspicious-looking
people. "There are two men down there, but they aren't genuine," said
Karl. "They look as if they came out of a music-hall."

"Run over to old Madam Frandsen and tell her that," said Pelle. But her
only answer was, "God be thanked, then they haven't caught him yet!"

Over at Olsen's their daughter Elvira had come home. The blind was not
drawn, and she was standing at the window with her huge hat with flowers
in it, allowing herself to be admired. Marie came running in. "Have you
seen how fine she is, Pelle?" she said, quite stupefied. "And she gets
all that for nothing from the gentlemen, just because they think she's
so pretty. But at night she paints her naked back!"

The children were running about in the gangway, waiting until Pelle
should have finished. They would not keep Christmas without him. But now
he, too, had finished work; he pulled on a jacket, wrapped up his work,
and ran off.

Out on the platform he stood still for a moment. He could see the light
of the city glimmering in the deep, star-filled sky. The night was so
solemnly beautiful. Below him the galleries were forsaken; they were
creaking in the frost. All the doors were closed to keep the cold out
and the joy in. "Down, down from the green fir-trees!"--it sounded from
every corner. The light shone through the window and in all directions
through the woodwork. Suddenly there was a dull booming sound on the
stairs--it was the hearse-driver staggering home with a ham under either
arm. Then all grew quiet--quiet as it never was at other times in the
"Ark," where night or day some one was always complaining. A child came
out and lifted a pair of questioning eyes, in order to look at the Star
of Bethlehem! There was a light at Madam Frandsen's. She had hung a
white sheet over the window today, and had drawn it tight; the lamp
stood close to the window, so that any one moving within would cast no
shadow across it.

The poor old worm! thought Pelle, as he ran past; she might have spared
herself the trouble! When he had delivered his work he hurried over to
Holberg Street, in order to wish Ellen a happy Christmas.  The table was
finely decked out in his room when he got home; there was pork chops,
rice boiled in milk, and Christmas beer. Marie was glowing with pride
over her performance; she sat helping the others, but she herself took
nothing.

"You ought to cook a dinner as good as this every day, lass!" said Karl,
as he set to. "God knows, you might well get a situation in the King's
kitchen."

"Why don't you eat any of this nice food?" said Pelle.

"Oh, no, I can't," she replied, touching her cheeks; her eyes beamed
upon him.

They laughed and chattered and clinked their glasses together. Karl came
out with the latest puns and the newest street-songs; so he had gained
something by his scouring of the city streets. Peter sat there looking
impenetrably now at one, now at another; he never laughed, but from time
to time he made a dry remark by which one knew that he was amusing
himself. Now and again they looked over at old Madam Frandsen's window--
it was a pity that she wouldn't be with them.

Five candles were now burning over there--they were apparently fixed on
a little Christmas tree which stood in a flowerpot. They twinkled like
distant stars through the white curtain, and Madam Frandsen's voice
sounded cracked and thin: "O thou joyful, O thou holy, mercy-bringing
Christmas-tide!" Pelle opened his window and listened; he wondered that
the old woman should be so cheerful.

Suddenly a warning voice sounded from below: "Madam Frandsen, there are
visitors coming!"

Doors and windows flew open on the galleries round about. People tumbled
out of doorways, their food in their hands, and leaned over the
railings. "Who dares to disturb our Christmas rejoicings?" cried a deep,
threatening voice.

"The officers of the law!" the reply came out of the darkness. "Keep
quiet, all of you--in the name of the law!"

Over on Madam Frandsen's side two figures became visible, noiselessly
running up on all fours. Upstairs nothing was happening; apparently they
had lost their heads. "Ferdinand, Ferdinand!" shrieked a girl's voice
wildly; "they're coming now!"

At the same moment the door flew open, and with a leap Ferdinand stood
on the platform. He flung a chair down at his pursuers, and violently
swayed the hand-rope, in order to sweep them off the steps. Then he
seized the gutter and swung himself up onto the roof. "Good-bye,
mother!" he cried from above, and his leap resounded in the darkness.
"Good-bye, mother, and a merry Christmas!" A howl like that of a wounded
beast flung the alarm far out into the night, and they heard the
stumbling pursuit of the policemen over the roofs. And then all was
still.

They returned unsuccessful. "Well, then you haven't got him!" cried
Olsen, leaning out of his window down below.

"No; d'you think we are going to break our necks for the like of him?"
retorted the policemen, as they scrambled down. "Any one going to stand
a glass of Christmas beer?" As no response followed, they departed.

Old Madam Frandsen went into her room and locked up; she was tired and
worried and wanted to go to bed. But after a time she came shuffling
down the long gangway. "Pelle," she whispered, "he's in bed in my room!
While they were scrambling about on the roofs he slipped quietly back
over the garrets and got into my bed! Good God, he hasn't slept in a bed
for four months! He's snoring already!" And she slipped out again.

Yes, that was an annoying interruption! No one felt inclined to begin
all over again excepting Karl, and Marie did not count him, as he was
always hungry. So she cleared away, gossiping as she went in and out;
she did not like to see Pelle so serious.

"But the secret!" she cried of a sudden, quite startled. The boys ran in
to her; then they came back, close together, with Marie behind them,
carrying something under her apron. The two boys flung themselves upon
Pelle and closed his eyes, while Marie inserted something in his mouth.
"Guess now!" she cried, "guess now!" It was a porcelain pipe with a
green silken tassel. On the bowl of the pipe, which was Ellen's
Christmas gift, was a representation of a ten-kroner note. The children
had inserted a screw of tobacco. "Now you'll be able to smoke properly,"
said Marie, pursing her lips together round the mouthpiece; "you are so
clever in everything else."

The children had invited guests for the Christmas-tree; the seamstress,
the old night-watchman from the courtyard, the factory-hand with her
little boy; all those who were sitting at home and keeping Christmas all
alone. They didn't know themselves, there were so many of them! Hanne
and her mother were invited too, but they had gone to bed early--they
were not inclined for sociability. One after another they were pulled
into the room, and they came with cheerful faces. Marie turned the lamp
out and went in to light up the Christmas tree.

They sat in silence and expectation. The light from the stove flickered
cheerfully to and fro in the room, lighting up a face with closed
eyelids and eager features, and dying away with a little crash. The
factory hand's little boy was the only one to chatter; he had sought a
refuge on Pelle's knee and felt quite safe in the darkness; his childish
voice sounded strangely bright in the firelight. "Paul must be quite
good and quiet," repeated the mother admonishingly.

"Mus'n't Paul 'peak?" asked the child, feeling for Pelle's face.

"Yes, to-night Paul can do just as he likes," replied Pelle. Then the
youngster chattered on and kicked out at the darkness with his little
legs.

"Now you can come!" cried Marie, and she opened the door leading to the
gangway. In the children's room everything had been cleared away. The
Christmas-tree stood in the middle, on the floor, and was blazing with
light. And how splendid it was--and how tall! Now they could have a
proper good look! The lights were reflected in their eyes, and in the
window-panes, and in the old mahogany-framed mirror, and the glass of
the cheap pictures, so that they seemed suddenly to be moving about in
the midst of myriads of stars, and forgot all their miseries. It was as
though they had escaped from all their griefs and cares, and had entered
straightway into glory, and all of a sudden a pure, clear voice arose,
tremulous with embarrassment, and the voice sang:

  "O little angel, make us glad!
  Down from high Heaven's halls
  Through sunshine flown, in splendor clad,
  Earth's shadow on thee falls!"

It sounded like a greeting from the clouds. They closed their eyes and
wandered, hand in hand, about the tree. Then the seamstress fell silent,
blushing. "You aren't singing with me!" she cried.

"We'll sing the Yule Song--we all know that," said Pelle.

"Down, down from the high green tree!"--It was Karl who struck up. And
they just did sing that! It fitted in so admirably--even the name of
Peter fitted in! And it was great fun, too, when all the presents
cropped up in the song; every single person was remembered! Only, the
lines about the purse, at the end, were all too true! There wasn't much
more to be said for that song! But suddenly the boys set the ring-dance
going; they stamped like a couple of soldiers, and then they all went
whirling round in frantic movement--a real witches' dance!

  "Hey dicker dick,
  My man fell smack;
  It was on Christmas Eve!
  I took a stick
  And broke it on his back,
  It was on Christmas Eve!"

How hot all the candles made it, and how it all went to one's head! They
had to open the door on to the gangway.

And there outside stood the inmates of the garrets, listening and
craning their necks. "Come inside," cried the boys. "There's room enough
if we make two rings!" So once again they moved round the tree, singing
Christmas carols. Every time there was a pause somebody struck up a new
carol, that had to be sung through. The doors opposite were open too,
the old rag-picker sat at the head of his table singing on his own
account. He had a loaf of black bread and a plate of bacon in front of
him, and after every carol he took a mouthful. In the other doorway sat
three coal-porters playing "sixty-six" for beer and brandy. They sat
facing toward the Christmas-tree, and they joined in the singing as they
played; but from time to time they broke off in the middle of a verse in
order to say something or to cry "Trumped!" Now they suddenly threw down
their cards and came into the room. "We don't want to sit here idle and
look on while others are working," they said, and they joined the
circle.

Finally they had all had enough of circling round the tree and singing.
So chairs and stools were brought in from the other rooms; they had to
squeeze close together, right under the sloping roof, and some sat up on
the window-sill. There was a clear circle left round the Christmas-tree.
And there they sat gossiping, crouching in all sorts of distorted
postures, as though that was the only way in which their bodies could
really find repose, their arms hanging loosely between their knees. But
their faces were still eager and excited; and the smoke from the candles
and the crackling fir-boughs of the tree veiled them in a bluish cloud,
through which they loomed as round as so many moons. The burning
turpentine gave the smoke a mysterious, alluring fragrance, and the
devout and attentive faces were like so many murmuring spirits, hovering
in the clouds, each above its outworn body.

Pelle sat there considering them till his heart bled for them--that was
his Christmas devotion. Poor storm-beaten birds, what was this splendid
experience which outweighed all their privations? Only a little light!
And they looked as though they could fall down before it and give up
their lives! He knew the life's story of each one of them better than
they knew. But their faces were still eager and excited; and they
themselves; when they approached the light they always burned themselves
in it, like the moths, they were so chilled!

"All the same, that's a queer invention, when one thinks about it," said
one of the dockers, nodding toward the Christmas-tree. "But it's fine.
God knows what it really is supposed to mean!"

"It means that now the year is returning toward the light again," said
the old night-watchman.

"No; it stands for the joy of the shepherds over the birth of Christ,"
said the rag-picker, stepping into the doorway.

"The shepherds were poor folks, like ourselves, who lived in the
darkness. That's why they rejoiced so over Him, because He came with the
light."

"Well, it don't seem to me we've been granted such a terrible deal of
light! Oh, yes, the Christmas-tree here, that's splendid, Lord knows it
is, and we should all of us like to thank the children for it--but one
can't have trees like that to set light to every day; and as for the
sun--well, you see, the rich folks have got a monopoly of that!"

"Yes, you are right there, Jacob," said Pelle, who was moving about
round the tree, taking down the hearts and packages for the children,
who distributed the sweets. "You are all three of you right--curiously
enough. The Christmas-tree is to remind us of Christ's birth, and also
that the year is returning toward the sun--but that's all the same
thing. And then it's to remind us, too, that we too ought to have a
share in things; Christ was born especially to remind the poor of their
rights! Yes, that is so! For the Lord God isn't one to give long-winded
directions as to how one should go ahead; He sends the sun rolling round
the earth every day, and each of us must look out for himself, and see
how best he himself can get into the sunshine. It's just like the wife
of a public-house keeper I remember at home, who used to tell
travellers, 'What would you like to eat? You can have ducks or pork
chops or sweets--anything you've brought with you!'"

"That was a devilish funny statement!" said his hearers, laughing.

"Yes, it's easy enough to invite one to all sorts of fine things when
all the time one has to bring them along one's self! You ought to have
been a preacher."

"He'd far better be the Devil's advocate!" said the old rag-picker. "For
there's not much Christianity in what he says!"

"But you yourself said that Christ came bringing light for the poor,"
said Pelle; "and He Himself said as much, quite plainly; what He wanted
was to make the blind to see and the dead to walk, and to restore
consideration to the despised and rejected. Also, He wanted men to have
faith!"

"The blind shall see, the lame shall walk, the leper shall be clean, the
deaf shall hear, and the dead shall arise, and the Word shall be preached
to the poor," said the rag-picker, correcting Pelle. "You are distorting
the Scriptures, Pelle."

"But I don't believe He meant only individual cripples--no, He meant all
of us in our misery, and all the temptations that lie in wait for us.
That's how Preacher Sort conceived it, and he was a godly, upright man.
He believed the millennium would come for the poor, and that Christ was
already on the earth making ready for its coming."

The women sat quite bemused, listening with open mouths; they dared
scarcely breathe. Paul was asleep on his mother's lap.

"Can He really have thought about us poor vermin, and so long
beforehand?" cried the men, looking from one to another. "Then why
haven't we long ago got a bit more forward than this?"

"Yes, I too don't understand that," said Pelle, hesitating. "Perhaps we
ourselves have got to work our way in the right direction--and that
takes time."

"Yes, but--if He would only give us proper conditions of life. But if we
have to win them for ourselves we don't need any Christ for that!"

This was something that Pelle could not explain even to himself,
although he felt it within him as a living conviction, A man must win
what was due to him himself--that was clear as the day, and he couldn't
understand how they could be blind to the fact; but why he must do so he
couldn't--however he racked his brains--explain to another person. "But
I can tell you a story," he said.

"But a proper exciting story!" cried Earl, who was feeling bored. "Oh,
if only Vinslev were here--he has such droll ideas!"

"Be quiet, boy!" said Marie crossly. "Pelle makes proper speeches--
before whole meetings," she said, nodding solemnly to the others. "What
is the story called?"

"Howling Peter."

"Oh, it's a story with Peter in it--then it's a fairy-tale! What is it
about?"

"You'll know that when you hear it, my child," said the old night-
watchman.

"Yes, but then one can't enjoy it when it comes out right. Isn't it a
story about a boy who goes out into the world?"

"The story is about"--Pelle bethought himself a moment; "the story is
about the birth of Christ," he said quickly, and then blushed a deep red
at his own audacity. But the others looked disappointed, and settled
themselves decently and stared at the floor, as though they had been in
church.

And then Pelle told them the story of Howling Peter; who was born and
grew up in poverty and grief, until he was big and strong, and every
man's cur to kick. For it was the greatest pity to see this finely-made
fellow, who was so full of fear and misery that if even a girl so much
as touched him he must flood himself with tears; and the only way out of
his misery was the rope. What a disgrace it was, that he should have
earned his daily bread and yet have been kept in the workhouse, as
though they did him a kindness in allowing him a hole to creep into
there, when with his capacity for work he could have got on anywhere!
And it became quite unendurable as he grew up and was still misused by
all the world, and treated like a dog. But then, all of a sudden, he
broke the magic spell, struck down his tormentors, and leaped out into
the daylight as the boldest of them all!

They drew a deep breath when he had finished. Marie clapped her hands.
"That was a real fairy-tale!" she cried. Karl threw himself upon Peter
and pummeled away at him, although that serious-minded lad was anything
but a tyrant!

They cheerfully talked the matter over. Everybody had something to say
about Howling Peter. "That was damned well done," said the men; "he
thrashed the whole crew from beginning to end; a fine fellow that! And a
strong one too! But why the devil did he take such a long time about it?
And put up with all that?"

"Yes, it isn't quite so easy for us to understand that--not for us, who
boast such a lot about our rights!" said Pelle, smiling.

"Well, you're a clever chap, and you've told it us properly!" cried the
cheerful Jacob. "But if ever you need a fist, there's mine!" He seized
and shook Pelle's hand.

The candles had long burned out, but they did not notice it.

Their eyes fastened on Pelle's as though seeking something, with a
peculiar expression in which a question plainly came and went. And
suddenly they overwhelmed him with questions. They wanted to know
enough, anyhow! He maintained that a whole world of splendors belonged
to them, and now they were in a hurry to get possession of them. Even
the old rag-picker let himself be carried away with the rest; it was too
alluring, the idea of giving way to a little intoxication, even if the
everyday world was to come after it.

Pelle stood among them all, strong and hearty, listening to all their
questions with a confident smile. He knew all that was to be theirs--
even if it couldn't come just at once. It was a matter of patience and
perseverance; but that they couldn't understand just now. When they had
at last entered into their glory they would know well enough how to
protect it. He had no doubts; he stood there among them like their
embodied consciousness, happily growing from deeply-buried roots.



XIII


From the foundations of the "Ark" rose a peculiar sound, a stumbling,
countrified footstep, dragging itself in heavy footgear over the
flagstones. All Pelle's blood rushed to his heart; he threw down his
work, and with a leap was on the gallery, quite convinced that this was
only an empty dream.... But there below in the court stood Father Lasse
in the flesh, staring up through the timbers, as though he couldn't
believe his own eyes. He had a sack filled with rubbish on his back.

"Hallo!" cried Pelle, taking the stairs in long leaps. "Hallo!"

"Good-day, my lad!" said Lasse, in a voice trembling with emotion,
considering his son with his lashless eyes. "Yes, here you have Father
Lasse--if you will have him. But where, really, did you come from? Seems
to me you fell down from heaven?"

Pelle took his father's sack. "You just come up with me," he said. "You
can trust the stairs all right; they are stronger than they look."

"Then they are like Lasse," answered the old man, trudging up close
behind him; the straps of his half-Wellingtons were peeping out at the
side, and he was quite the old man. At every landing he stood still and
uttered his comments on his surroundings. Pelle had to admonish him to
be silent.

"One doesn't discuss everything aloud here. It might so easily be
regarded as criticism," he said.

"No, really? Well, one must learn as long as one lives. But just look
how they stand about chattering up here! There must be a whole
courtyard-full! Well, well. I won't say any more. I knew they lived one
on top of another, but I didn't think there'd be so little room here. To
hang the backyard out in front of the kitchen door, one on top of
another, that's just like the birds that build all on one bough. Lord
God, suppose it was all to come tumbling down one fine day!"

"And do you live here?" he cried, gazing in a disillusioned manner round
the room with its sloping ceiling. "I've often wondered how you were
fixed up over here. A few days ago I met a man at home who said they
were talking about you already; but one wouldn't think so from your
lodgings. However, it isn't far to heaven, anyhow!"

Pelle was silent. He had come to love his den, and his whole life here;
but Father Lasse continued to enlarge upon his hopes of his son's
respectability and prosperity, and he felt ashamed. "Did you imagine I
was living in one of the royal palaces?" he said, rather bitterly.

Lasse looked at him kindly and laid both hands on his shoulders. "So big
and strong as you've grown, lad," he said, wondering. "Well, and now you
have me here too! But I won't be a burden to you. No, but at home it had
grown so dismal after what happened at Due's, that I got ready without
sending you word. And then I was able to come over with one of the
skippers for nothing."

"But what's this about Due?" asked Pelle. "I hope nothing bad?"

"Good God, haven't you heard? He revenged himself on his wife because he
discovered her with the Consul. He had been absolutely blind, and had
only believed the best of her, until he surprised her in her sin. Then
he killed her, her and the children they had together, and went to the
authorities and gave himself up. But the youngest, whom any one could
see was the Consul's, he didn't touch. Oh, it was a dreadful misfortune!
Before he gave himself up to the police he came to me; he wanted just
one last time to be with some one who would talk it over with him
without hypocrisy. 'I've strangled Anna,' he said, as soon as he had sat
down. 'It had to be, and I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry. The children that
were mine, too. I've dealt honestly with them.' Yes, yes, he had dealt
honestly with the poor things! 'I just wanted to say goodbye to you,
Lasse, for my life's over now, happy as I might have been, with my
contented nature. But Anna always wanted to be climbing, and if I got on
it was her shame I had to thank for it. I never wanted anything further
than the simple happiness of the poor man--a good wife and a few
children--and now I must go to prison! God be thanked that Anna hasn't
lived to see that! She was finer in her feelings than the rest, and she
had to deceive in order to get on in the world.' So he sat there,
talking of the dead, and one couldn't notice any feeling in him. I
wouldn't let him see how sick at heart he made me feel. For him it was
the best thing, so long as his conscience could sleep easy. 'Your eyes
are watering, Lasse,' he said quietly; 'you should bathe them a bit;
they say urine is good.' Yes, God knows, my eyes did water! God of my
life, yes! Then he stood up. 'You, too, Lasse, you haven't much longer
life granted you,' he said, and he gave me his hand. 'You are growing
old now. But you must give Pelle my greetings--he's safe to get on!'"

Pelle sat mournfully listening to the dismal story. But he shuddered at
the last words. He had so often heard the expression of that
anticipation of his good fortune, which they all seemed to feel, and had
rejoiced to hear it; it was, after all, only an echo of his own self-
confidence. But now it weighed upon him like a burden. It was always
those who were sinking who believed in his luck; and as they sank they
flung their hopes upward toward him. A grievous fashion was this in
which his good fortune was prophesied! A terrible and grievous blessing
it was that was spoken over him and his success in life by this man
dedicated to death, even as he stepped upon the scaffold. Pelle sat
staring at the floor without a sign of life, a brooding expression on
his face; his very soul was shuddering at the foreboding of a superhuman
burden; and suddenly a light was flashed before his eyes; there could
never be happiness for him alone--the fairy-tale was dead! He was bound
up with all the others--he must partake of happiness or misfortune with
them; that was why the unfortunate Due gave him his blessing. In his
soul he was conscious of Due's difficult journey, as though he himself
had to endure the horror of it. And Fine Anna, who must clamber up over
his own family and tread them in the dust! Never again could he wrench
himself quite free as before! He had already encountered much
unhappiness and had learned to hate its cause. But this was something
more--this was very affliction itself!

"Yes," sighed Lasse, "a lucky thing that Brother Kalle did not live to
see all this. He worked himself to skin and bone for his children, and
now, for all thanks, he lied buried in the poorhouse burying-ground.
Albinus, who travels about the country as a conjurer, was the only one
who had a thought for him; but the money came too late, although it was
sent by telegraph. Have you ever heard of a conjuring-trick like that--
to send money from England to Bornholm over the telegraph cable? A
devilish clever acrobat! Well, Brother Kalle, he knew all sorts of
conjuring-tricks too, but he didn't learn them abroad. They had heard
nothing at all of Alfred at the funeral. He belongs to the fine folks
now and has cut off all connection with his poor relations. He has been
appointed to various posts of honor, and they say he's a regular
bloodhound toward the poor--a man's always worst toward his own kind.
But the fine folks, they say, they think great things of him."

Pelle heard the old man's speech only as a monotonous trickle of sound.

Due, Due, the best, the most good-natured man he knew, who championed
Anna's illegitimate child against her own mother, and loved her like his
own, because she was defenceless and needed his love--Due was now to lay
his head on the scaffold! So dearly bought was the fulfilment of his
wish, to obtain a pair of horses and become a coachman! He had obtained
the horses and a carriage on credit, and had himself made up for the
instalments and the interest--the Consul had merely stood security for
him. And for this humble success he was now treading the path of shame!
His steps echoed in Pelle's soul; Pelle did not know how he was going to
bear it. He longed for his former obtuseness.

Lasse continued to chatter. For him it was fate--grievous and heavy, but
it could not be otherwise. And the meeting with Pelle had stirred up so
many memories; he was quite excited. Everything he saw amused him.
However did anybody hit on the idea of packing folks away like this, one
on top of another, like herrings in a barrel? And at home on Bornholm
there were whole stretches of country where no one lived at all! He did
not venture to approach the window, but prudently stood a little way
back in the room, looking out over the roofs. There, too, was a crazy
arrangement! One could count the ears in a cornfield as easily as the
houses over here!

Pelle called Marie, who had discreetly remained in her own room. "This
is my foster-mother," he said, with his arm round her shoulders. "And
that is Father Lasse, whom you are fond of already, so you always say.
Now can you get us some breakfast?" He gave her money.

"She's a good girl, that she is," said Lasse, feeling in his sack. "She
shall have a present. There's a red apple," he said to Marie, when she
returned; "you must eat it, and then you'll be my sweetheart." Marie
smiled gravely and looked at Pelle.

They borrowed the old clothes dealer's handcart and went across to the
apple barges to fetch Lasse's belongings. He had sold most of them in
order not to bring too great a load to the city. But he had retained a
bedstead with bedding, and all sorts of other things. "And then I have
still to give you greetings from Sort and Marie Nielsen," he said.

Pelle blushed. "I owe her a few words, but over here I quite forgot it
somehow! And I have half promised her my portrait. I must see now about
sending it."

"Yes, do," said Father Lasse. "I don't know how close you two stand to
each other, but she was a good woman. And those who stay behind, they're
sad when they're forgotten. Remember that."

At midday Lasse had tidied himself a trifle and began to brush his hat.

"What now?" inquired Pelle. "You don't want to go out all alone?"

"I want to go out and look at the city a bit," replied Lasse, as though
it were quite a matter of course. "I want to find some work, and perhaps
I'll go and have a peep at the king for once. You need only explain in
which direction I must go."

"You had better wait until I can come with you--you'll only lose
yourself."

"Shall I do that?" replied Lasse, offended. "But I found my way here
alone, I seem to remember!"

"I can go with the old man!" said Marie.

"Yes, you come with the old man, then no one can say he has lost his
youth!" cried Lasse jestingly, as he took her hand. "I think we two
shall be good friends."

Toward evening they returned. "There are folks enough here," said Lasse,
panting, "but there doesn't seem to be a superfluity of work. I've been
asking first this one and then that, but no one will have me. Well,
that's all right! If they won't, I can just put a spike on my stick and
set to work collecting the bits of paper in the streets, like the other
old men; I can at least do that still."

"But I can't give my consent to that," replied Pelle forcibly. "My
father shan't become a scavenger!"

"Well--but I must get something to do, or I shall go back home again.
I'm not going to go idling about here while you work."

"But you can surely rest and enjoy a little comfort in your old days,
father. However, we shall soon see."

"I can rest, can I? I had better lie on my back and let myself be fed
like a long-clothes child! Only I don't believe my back would stand it!"

They had placed Lasse's bed with the footboard under the sloping
ceiling; there was just room enough for it. Pelle felt like a little boy
when he went to bed that night; it was so many years since he had slept
in the same room as Father Lasse. But in the night he was oppressed by
evil dreams; Due's dreadful fate pursued him in his sleep. His
energetic, good-humored face went drifting through the endless grayness,
the head bowed low, the hands chained behind him, a heavy iron chain was
about his neck, and his eyes were fixed on the ground as though he were
searching the very abyss. When Pelle awoke it was because Father Lasse
stood bending over his bed, feeling his face, as in the days of his
childhood.



XIV


Lasse would not sit idle, and was busily employed in running about the
city in search of work. When he spoke to Pelle he put a cheerful face on
a bad business; and looked hopeful; but the capital had already
disillusioned him. He could not understand all this hubbub, and felt
that he was too old to enter into it and fathom its meaning--besides,
perhaps it had none! It really looked as though everybody was just
running to and fro and following his own nose, without troubling in the
least about all the rest. And there were no greetings when you passed
folks in the street; the whole thing was more than Lasse could
understand. "I ought to have stayed at home," he would often think.

And as for Pelle--well, Pelle was taken up with his own affairs! That
was only to be expected in a man. He ran about going to meetings and
agitating, and had a great deal to do; his thoughts were continually
occupied, so that there was no time for familiar gossip as in the old
days. He was engaged, moreover, so that what time was not devoted to the
Labor movement was given to his sweetheart. How the boy had grown, and
how he had altered, bodily and in every way! Lasse had a feeling that he
only reached up to Pelle's belt nowadays. He had grown terribly serious,
and was quite the man; he looked as though he was ready to grasp the
reins of something or other; you would never, to look at him, have
thought that he was only a journeyman cobbler. There was an air of
responsibility about him--just a little too much may be!

Marie got into the way of accompanying the old man. They had become good
friends, and there was plenty for them to gossip over. She would take
him to the courtyard of the Berlingske Tidende, where the people in
search of work eddied about the advertisement board, filling up the
gateway and forming a crowd in the street outside.

"We shall never get in there!" said Lasse dejectedly. But Marie worked
herself forward; when people scolded her she scolded them back. Lasse
was quite horrified by the language the child used; but it was a great
help!

Marie read out the different notices, and Lasse made his comments on
every one, and when the bystanders laughed Lasse gazed at them
uncomprehendingly, then laughed with them, and nodded his head merrily.
He entered into everything.

"What do you say? Gentleman's coachman? Yes, I can drive a pair of
horses well enough, but perhaps I'm not fine enough for the gentry--I'm
afraid my nose would drip!"

He looked about him importantly, like a child that is under observation.
"But errand boy--that isn't so bad. We'll make a note of that. There's
no great skill needed to be everybody's dog! House porter! Deuce take
it--there one need only sit downstairs and make angry faces out of a
basement window! We'll look in there and try our luck."

They impressed the addresses on their minds until they knew them by
heart, and then squeezed their way out through the crowd. "Damn funny
old codger!" said the people, looking after him with a smile--Lasse was
quite high-spirited. They went from house to house, but no one had any
use for him. The people only laughed at the broken old figure with the
wide-toed boots.

"They laugh at me," said Lasse, quite cast down; "perhaps because I
still look a bit countrified. But that after all can soon be overcome.

"I believe it's because you are so old and yet want to get work," said
Marie.

"Do you think it can be on that account? Yet I'm only just seventy, and
on both my father's and mother's side we have almost all lived to
ninety. Do you really think that's it? If they'd only let me set to work
they'd soon see there's still strength in old Lasse! Many a younger
fellow would sit on his backside for sheer astonishment. But what are
those people there, who stand there and look so dismal and keep their
hands in their pockets?"

"Those are the unemployed; it's a slack time for work, and they say it
will get still worse."

"And all those who were crowding round the notice-board--were they idle
hands too?"

Marie nodded.

"But then it's worse here than at home--there at least we always have
the stone-cutting when there is nothing else. And I had really believed
that the good time had already begun over here!"

"Pelle says it will soon come,' said Marie consolingly.

"Yes, Pelle--he can well talk. He is young and healthy and has the time
before him."

Lasse was in a bad temper; nothing seemed right to him. In order to give
him pleasure, Marie took him to see the guard changed, which cheered him
a little.

"Those are smart fellows truly," he said. "Hey, hey, how they hold
themselves! And fine clothes too. But that they know well enough
themselves! Yes--I've never been a king's soldier. I went up for it when
I was young and felt I'd like it; I was a smart fellow then, you can
take my word for it! But they wouldn't have me; my figure wouldn't do,
they said; I had worked too hard, from the time I was quite a child.
They'd got it into their heads in those days that a man ought to be made
just so and so. I think it's to please the fine ladies. Otherwise I,
too, might have defended my country."

Down by the Exchange the roadway was broken up; a crowd of navvies were
at work digging out the foundation for a conduit. Lasse grew quite
excited, and hurried up to them.

"That would be the sort of thing for me," he said, and he stood there
and fell into a dream at the sight of the work. Every time the workers
swung their picks he followed the movement with his old head. He drew
closer and closer. "Hi," he said to one of the workers, who was taking a
breath, "can a man get taken on here?"

The man took a long look at him. "Get taken on here?" he cried, turning
more to his comrades than to Lasse. "Ah, you'd like to, would you? Here
you foreigners come running, from Funen and Middlefart, and want to take
the bread out of the mouths of us natives. Get away with you, you
Jutland carrion!" Laughing, he swung his pick over his head.

Lasse drew slowly hack. "But he was angry!" he said dejectedly to Marie.

In the evening Pelle had to go to all his various meetings, whatever
they might be. He had a great deal to do, and, hard as he worked, the
situation still remained unfavorable. It was by no means so easy a
thing, to break the back of poverty!

"You just look after your own affairs," said Lasse. "I sit here and chat
a little with the children--and then I go to bed. I don't know why, but
my body gets fonder and fonder of bed, although I've never been
considered lazy exactly. It must be the grave that's calling me. But I
can't go about idle any longer--I'm quite stiff in my body from doing
it."

Formerly Lasse never used to speak of the grave; but now he had
seemingly reconciled himself to the idea. "And the city is so big and so
confusing," he told the children. "And the little one has put by soon
runs through one's fingers."

He found it much easier to confide his troubles to them. Pelle had grown
so big and so serious that he absolutely inspired respect. One could
take no real pleasure in worrying him with trivialities.

But with the children he found himself in tune. They had to contend with
little obstacles and difficulties, just as he did, and could grasp all
his troubles. They gave him good, practical advice, and in return he
gave them his senile words of wisdom.

"I don't exactly know why it is so," he said, "but this great city makes
me quite confused and queer in the head. To mention nothing else, no one
here knows me and looks after me when I go by. That takes all the
courage out of my knees. At home there was always one or another who
would turn his head and say to himself, 'Look, there goes old Lasse,
he'll be going down to the harbor to break stone; devil take me, but how
he holds himself! Many a man would nod to me too, and I myself knew
every second man. Here they all go running by as if they were crazy! I
don't understand how you manage to find employment here, Karl?"

"Oh, that's quite easy," replied the boy. "About six in the morning I
get to the vegetable market; there is always something to be delivered
for the small dealers who can't keep a man. When the vegetable market is
over I deliver flowers for the gardeners. That's a very uncertain
business, for I get nothing more than the tips. And besides that I run
wherever I think there's anything going. To the East Bridge and out to
Frederiksburg. And I have a few regular places too, where I go every
afternoon for an hour and deliver goods. There's always something if one
runs about properly."

"And does that provide you with an average good employment every day?"
said Lasse wonderingly. "The arrangement looks to me a little uncertain.
In the morning you can't be sure you will have earned anything when the
night comes."

"Ah, Karl is so quick," said Marie knowingly. "When the times are
ordinarily good he can earn a krone a day regularly."

"And that could really be made a regular calling?" No, Lasse couldn't
understand it.

"Very often it's evening before I have earned anything at all, but one
just has to stir one's stumps; there's always something or other if one
knows where to look for it."

"What do you think--suppose I were to go with you?" said Lasse
thoughtfully.

"You can't do that, because I run the whole time. Really you'd do much
better to hide one of your arms."

"Hide one of my arms?" said Lasse wonderingly.

"Yes--stick one arm under your coat and then go up to people and ask
them for something. That wouldn't be any trouble to you, you look like
an invalid."

"Do I, indeed?" asked Lasse, blinking his eyes. "I never knew that
before. But even if that were so I shouldn't like to beg at people's
doors. I don't think any one will get old Lasse to do that."

"Then go along to the lime works--they are looking for stone-breakers
these days," said the omniscient youngster.

"Now you are talking!" said Lasse; "so they have stone here? Yes, I
brought my stone-cutter's tools with me, and if there's one thing on
earth I long to do it is to be able to bang away at a stone again!"



XV


Pelle was now a man; he was able to look after his own affairs and a
little more besides; and he was capable of weighing one circumstance
against another. He had thrust aside his horror concerning Due's fate,
and once again saw light in the future. But this horror still lurked
within his mind, corroding everything else, lending everything a gloomy,
sinister hue. Over his brow brooded a dark cloud, as to which he himself
was not quite clear. But Ellen saw it and stroked it away with her soft
fingers, in order to make it disappear. It formed a curious contrast to
his fresh, ruddy face, like a meaningless threat upon a fine spring day.

He began to be conscious of confidence like a sustaining strength. It
was not only in the "Ark" that he was idolized; his comrades looked up
to him; if there was anything important in hand their eyes involuntarily
turned to him. Although he had, thoughtlessly enough, well-nigh wrecked
the organism in order to come to grips with Meyer, he had fully made up
for his action, and the Union was now stronger than ever, and this was
his doing. So he could stretch his limbs and give a little thought to
his own affairs.

He and Ellen felt a warm longing to come together and live in their own
little home. There were many objections that might be opposed to such a
course, and he was not blind to them. Pelle was a valiant worker, but
his earnings were not so large that one could found a family on them; it
was the naked truth that even a good worker could not properly support a
wife and children. He counted on children as a matter of course, and the
day would come also when Father Lasse would no longer be able to earn
his daily bread. But that day lay still in the remote future, and, on
the other hand, it was no more expensive to live with a companion than
alone--if that companion was a good and saving wife. If a man meant to
enjoy some little share of the joy of life, he must close his eyes and
leap over all obstacles, and for once put his trust in the exceptional.

"It'll soon be better, too," said Mason Stolpe. "Things look bad now in
most trades, but you see yourself, how everything is drawing to a great
crisis. Give progress a kick behind and ask her to hurry herself a
little--there's something to be gained by that. A man ought to marry
while he's still young; what's the good of going about and hankering
after one another?"

Madam Stolpe was, as always, of his opinion. "We married and enjoyed the
sweetness of it while our blood was still young. That's why we have
something now that we can depend on," she said simply, looking at Pelle.

So it was determined that the wedding should be held that spring. In
March the youngest son would complete his apprenticeship, so that the
wedding feast and the journeyman's feast could be celebrated
simultaneously.

On the canal, just opposite the prison, a little two-roomed dwelling was
standing vacant, and this they rented. Mason Stolpe wanted to have the
young couple to live out by the North Bridge, "among respectable
people," but Pelle had become attached to this quarter. Moreover, he had
a host of customers there, which would give him a foothold, and there,
too, were the canals. For Pelle, the canals were a window opening on the
outer world; they gave his mind a sense of liberty; he always felt
oppressed among the stone walls by the North Bridge. Ellen let him
choose--it was indifferent to her where they lived. She would gladly
have gone to the end of the world with him, in order to yield herself.

She had saved a little money in her situation, and Pelle also had a
little put by; he was wise in his generation, and cut down all their
necessities. When Ellen was free they rummaged about buying things for
their home. Many things they bought second-hand, for cheapness, but not
for the bedroom; there everything was to be brand-new!

It was a glorious time, in which every hour was full of its own rich
significance; there was no room for brooding or for care. Ellen often
came running in to drag him from his work; he must come with her and
look at something or other--one could get it so cheap--but quickly,
quickly, before it should be gone! On her "off" Sundays she would reduce
the little home to order, and afterward they would walk arm in arm
through the city, and visit the old people.

Pelle had had so much to do with the affairs of others, and had given so
little thought to his own, that it was delightful, for once in a way, to
be able to rest and think of himself. The crowded outer world went
drifting far away from him; he barely glanced at it as he built his
nest; he thought no more about social problems than the birds that nest
in spring.

And one day Pelle carried his possessions to his new home, and for the
last time lay down to sleep in the "Ark." There was no future for any
one here; only the shipwrecked sought an abiding refuge within these
walls. It was time for Pelle to move on. Yet from all this raggedness
and overcrowding rose a voice which one did not hear elsewhere; a
careless twittering, like that of unlucky birds that sit and plume their
feathers when a little sunlight falls on them. He looked back on the
time he had spent here with pensive melancholy.

On the night before his wedding he lay restlessly tossing to and fro.
Something seemed to follow him in his sleep. At last he woke, and was
sensible of a stifled moaning, that came and went with long intervals in
between, as though the "Ark" itself were moaning in an evil dream.
Suddenly he stood up, lit the lamp, and began to polish his wedding-
boots, which were still on the lasts, so that they might retain their
handsome shape. Lasse was still asleep, and the long gangway outside lay
still in slumber.

The sound returned, louder and more long-drawn, and something about it
reminded him of Stone Farm, and awaked the horror of his childish days.
He sat and sweated at his work. Suddenly he heard some one outside--some
one who groped along the gangway and fumbled at his door. He sprang
forward and opened it. Suspense ran through his body like an icy
shudder. Outside stood Hanne's mother, shivering in the morning cold.

"Pelle," she whispered anxiously, "it's so near now--would you run and
fetch Madam Blom from Market Street? I can't leave Hanne. And I ought to
be wishing you happiness, too."

The errand was not precisely convenient, nevertheless, he ran oft. And
then he sat listening, working still, but as quietly as possible, in
order not to wake Father Lasse. But then it was time for the children to
get up; for the last time he knocked on the wall and heard Marie's
sleepy "Ye--es!" At the same moment the silence of night was broken; the
inmates tumbled out and ran barefooted to the lavatories, slamming their
doors. "The Princess is lamenting," they told one another. "She's
lamenting because she's lost what she'll never get again." Then the
moaning rose to a loud shriek, and suddenly it was silent over there.

Poor Hanne! Now she had another to care for--and who was its father?
Hard times were in store for her.

Lasse was not going to work to-day, although the wedding-feast was not
to be held until the afternoon. He was in a solemn mood, from the
earliest morning, and admonished Pelle not to lay things cross-wise, and
the like. Pelle laughed every time.

"Yes, you laugh," said Lasse, "but this is an important day--perhaps the
most important in your life. You ought to take care lest the first
trifling thing you do should ruin everything."

He pottered about, treating everything as an omen. He was delighted with
the sun--it rose out of a sack and grew brighter and brighter in the
course of the day. It was never lucky for the sun to begin too blazing.

Marie went to and fro, considering Pelle with an expression of
suppressed anxiety, like a mother who is sending her child into the
world, and strives hard to seem cheerful, thought Pelle. Yes, yes, she
had been like a mother to him in many senses, although she was only a
child; she had taken him into her nest as a little forsaken bird, and
with amazement had seen him grow. He had secretly helped her when he
could. But what was that in comparison with the singing that had made
his work easy, when he saw how the three waifs accepted things as they
were, building their whole existence on nothing? Who would help them now
over the difficult places without letting them see the helping hand? He
must keep watchful eye on them.

Marie's cheeks were a hectic red, and her eyes were shining when he held
her roughened hands in his and thanked her for being such a good
neighbor. Her narrow chest was working, and a reflection of hidden
beauty rested upon her. Pelle had taught her blood to find the way to
her colorless face; whenever she was brought into intimate contact with
him or his affairs, her cheeks glowed, and every time a little of the
color was left behind. It was as though his vitality forced the sap to
flow upward in her, in sympathy, and now she stood before him, trying to
burst her stunted shell, and unfold her gracious capacities before him,
and as yet was unable to do so. Suddenly she fell upon his breast.
"Pelle, Pelle," she said, hiding her face against him. And then she ran
into her own room.

Lasse and Pelle carried the last things over to the new home, and put
everything tidy; then they dressed themselves in their best and set out
for the Stoples' home. Pelle was wearing a top-hat for the first time in
his life, and looked quite magnificent in it. "You are like a big city
chap," said Lasse, who could not look at him often enough. "But what do
you think they'll say of old Lasse? They are half-way fine folks
themselves, and I don't know how to conduct myself. Wouldn't it perhaps
be better if I were to turn back?"

"Don't talk like that, father!" said Pelle.

Lasse was monstrously pleased at the idea of attending the wedding-
feast, but he had all sorts of misgivings. These last years had made him
shy of strangers, and he liked to creep into corners. His holiday
clothes, moreover, were worn out, and his every-day things were patched
and mended; his long coat he had hired expressly for the occasion, while
the white collar and cuffs belonged to Peter. He did not feel at all at
home in his clothes, and looked like an embarrassed schoolboy waiting
for confirmation.

At the Stolpes' the whole household was topsy-turvy. The guests who were
to go to the church had already arrived; they were fidgeting about in
the living-room and whistling to themselves, or looking out into the
street, and feeling bored. Stople's writing-table had been turned into a
side-board, and the brothers were opening bottles of beer and politely
pressing everybody: "Do take a sandwich with it--you'll get a dry throat
standing so long and saying nothing."

In the best room Stolpe was pacing up and down and muttering. He was in
his shirtsleeves, waiting until it was his turn to use the bedroom,
where Ellen and her mother had locked themselves in. Prom time to time
the door was opened a little, and Ellen's bare white arm appeared, as
she threw her father some article of attire. Then Pelle's heart began to
thump.

On the window-sill stood Madam Stolpe's myrtle; it was stripped quite
bare.

Now Stolpe came back; he was ready! Pelle had only to button his collar
for him. He took Lasse's hand and then went to fetch _The Working
Man_. "Now you just ought to hear this, what they say of your son,"
he said, and began to read:

"Our young party-member, Pelle, to-day celebrates his nuptials with the
daughter of one of the oldest and most respected members of the party,
Mason Stolpe. This young man, who has already done a great deal of work
for the Cause, was last night unanimously proposed as President of his
organization. We give the young couple our best wishes for the future."

"That speaks for itself, eh?" Stolpe handed the paper to his guests.

"Yes, that looks well indeed," they said, passing the paper from hand to
hand. Lasse moved his lips as though he, too, were reading the notice
through. "Yes, devilish good, and they know how to put these things," he
said, delighted.

"But what's wrong with Petersen--is he going to resign?" asked Stolpe.

"He is ill," replied Pelle. "But I wasn't there last night, so I don't
know anything about it." Stolpe gazed at him, astonished.

Madam Stolpe came in and drew Pelle into the bedroom, where Ellen stood
like a snow-white revelation, with a long veil and a myrtle-wreath in
her hair. "Really you two are supposed not to see one another, but I
think that's wrong," she said, and with a loving glance she pushed them
into each other's arms.

Frederik, who was leaning out of the window, in order to watch for the
carriage, came and thundered on the door. "The carriage is there,
children!" he roared, in quite a needlessly loud voice. "The carriage is
there!"

And they drove away in it, although the church was only a few steps
distant. Pelle scarcely knew what happened to him after that, until he
found himself back in the carriage; they had to nudge him every time he
had to do anything. He saw no one but Ellen.

She was his sun; the rest meant nothing to him. At the altar he had
seized her hand and held it in his during the whole service.

Frederik had remained at home, in order to admit, receive messages and
people who came to offer their congratulations. As they returned he
leaned out of the window and threw crackers and detonating pellets under
the horses' feet, as a salute to the bridal pair.

People drank wine, touched glasses with the young couple, and examined
the wedding-presents. Stolpe looked to see the time; it was still quite
early. "You must go for a bit of a stroll, father," said Madam Stolpe.
"We can't eat anything for a couple of hours yet." So the men went
across to Ventegodt's beer-garden, in order to play a game of skittles,
while the women prepared the food.

Pelle would rather have stopped in the house with Ellen, but he must
not; he and Lasse went together. Lasse had not yet properly wished Pelle
happiness; he had waited until they should be alone.

"Well, happiness and all blessings, my boy," he said, much moved, as he
pressed Pelle's hand. "Now you, too, are a man with a family and
responsibilities. Now don't you forget that the women are like children.
In serious matters you mustn't be too ceremonious with them, but tell
them, short and plain. This is to be so! It goes down best with them. If
once a man begins discussing too much with them, then they don't know
which way they want to go. Otherwise they are quite all right, and it's
easy to get on with them--if one only treats them well. I never found it
any trouble, for they like a firm hand over them. You've reason to be
proud of your parents-in-law; they are capital people, even if they are
a bit proud of their calling. And Ellen will make you a good wife--if I
know anything of women. She'll attend to her own affairs and she'll
understand how to save what's left over. Long in the body she is, like a
fruitful cow--she won't fail you in the matter of children."

Outdoors in the beer-garden Swedish punch was served, and Lasse's
spirits began to rise. He tried to play at skittles--he had never done
so before; and he plucked up courage to utter witticisms.

The others laughed, and Lasse drew himself up and came out of his shell.
"Splendid people, the Copenhageners!" he whispered to Pelle. "A ready
hand for spending, and they've got a witty word ready for everything."

Before any one noticed it had grown dark, and now they must be home!

At home the table was laid, and the rest of the guests had come. Madam
Stolpe was already quite nervous, they had stopped away so long. "Now
we'll all wobble a bit on our legs," whispered Stolpe, in the entry;
"then my wife will go for us! Well, mother, have you got a warm welcome
ready for us?" he asked, as he tumbled into the room.

"Ah, you donkey, do you think I don't know you?" cried Madam Stolpe,
laughing. "No, one needn't go searching in the taverns for my man!"

Pelle went straight up to Ellen in the kitchen and led her away. Hand in
hand they went round the rooms, looking at the last presents to arrive.
There was a table-lamp, a dish-cover in German silver, and some
enamelled cooking-utensils. Some one, too, had sent a little china
figure of a child in swaddling-clothes, but had forgotten to attach his
name.

Ellen led Pelle out into the entry, in order to embrace him, but there
stood Morten, taking off his things. Then they fled into the kitchen,
but the hired cook was in possession; at length they found an
undisturbed haven in the bedroom. Ellen wound her arms round Pelle's
neck and gazed at him in silence, quite lost in happiness and longing.
And Pelle pressed the beloved, slender, girlish body against his own,
and looked deep in her eyes, which were dark and shadowy as velvet, as
they drank in the light in his. His heart swelled within him, and he
felt that he was unspeakably fortunate--richer than any one else in the
whole world--because of the treasure that he held in his arms. Silently
he vowed to himself that he would protect her and cherish her and have
no other thought than to make her happy.

An impatient trampling sounded from the other room. "The young couple--
the young couple!" they were calling. Pelle and Ellen hastened in, each
by a different door. The others were standing in their places at the
table, and were waiting for Pelle and Ellen to take their seats. "Well,
it isn't difficult to see what she's been about!" said Stolpe teasingly.
"One has only to look at the lass's peepers--such a pair of glowing
coals!"

Otto Stolpe, the slater, was spokesman, and opened the banquet by
offering brandy. "A drop of spirits," he said to each: "we must make
sure there's a vent to the gutter, or the whole thing will soon get
stopped up."

"Now, take something, people!" cried Stolpe, from the head of the table,
where he was carving a loin of roast pork. "Up with the bricks there!"
He had the young couple on his right and the newly-baked journeyman on
his left. On the table before him stood a new bedroom chamber with a
white wooden cover to it; the guests glanced at it and smiled at one
another. "What are you staring at?" he asked solemnly. "If you need
anything, let the cat out of the bag!"

"Ah, it's the tureen there!" said his brother, the carpenter, without
moving a muscle. "My wife would be glad to borrow it a moment, she
says."

His wife, taken aback, started up and gave him a thwack on the back.
"Monster!" she said, half ashamed, and laughing. "The men must always
make a fool of somebody!"

Then they all set to, and for a while eating stopped their mouths. From
time to time some droll remark was made. "Some sit and do themselves
proud, while others do the drudging," said the Vanishing Man, Otto's
comrade. Which was to say that he had finished his pork. "Give him one
in the mouth, mother!" said Stolpe.

When their hunger was satisfied the witticisms began to fly. Morten's
present was a great wedding-cake. It was a real work of art; he had made
it in the form of a pyramid. On the summit stood a youthful couple, made
of sugar, who held one another embraced, while behind them was a highly
glazed representation of the rising sun. Up the steps of the pyramid
various other figures were scrambling to the top, holding their arms
outstretched toward the summit. Wine was poured out when they came to
the cake, and Morten made a little speech in Pelle's honor, in which he
spoke of loyalty toward the new comrade whom he had chosen. Apparently
the speech concerned Ellen only, but Pelle understood that his words
were meant to be much more comprehensive; they had a double meaning all
the time.

"Thank you, Morten," he said, much moved, and he touched glasses with
him.

Then Stolpe delivered a speech admonishing the newly-married pair. This
was full of precious conceits and was received with jubilation.

"Now you see how father can speak," said Madam Stolpe. "When nothing
depends on it then he can speak!"

"What's that you say, mother?" cried Stolpe, astonished. He was not
accustomed to criticism from that source. "Just listen to that now--
one's own wife is beginning to pull away the scaffolding-poles from
under one!"

"Well, that's what I say!" she rejoined, looking at him boldly. Her face
was quite heated with wine. "Does any one stand in the front of things
like father does? He was the first, and he has been always the most
zealous; he has done a good stroke of work, more than most men. And to-
day he might well have been one of the leaders and have called the tune,
if it weren't for that damned hiccoughing. He's a clever man, and his
comrades respect him too, but what does all that signify if a man
hiccoughs? Every time he stands on the speaker's platform he has the
hiccoughs."

"And yet it isn't caused by brandy?" said the thick-set little Vanishing
Man, Albert Olsen.

"Oh, no, father has never gone in for bottle agitation," replied Madam
Stolpe.

"That was a fine speech that mother made about me," said Stolpe,
laughing, "and she didn't hiccough. It is astonishing, though--there are
some people who can't. But now it's your turn, Frederik. Now you have
become a journeyman and must accept the responsibility yourself for
doing things according to plumb-line and square. We have worked on the
scaffold together and we know one another pretty well. Many a time
you've been a clown and many a time a sheep, and a box on the ears from
your old man has never been lacking. But that was in your fledgling
years. When only you made up your mind there was no fault to be found
with you. I will say this to your credit--that you know your trade--you
needn't be shamed by anybody. Show what you can do, my lad! Do your
day's work so that your comrades don't need to take you in tow, and
never shirk when it comes to your turn!"

"Don't cheat the drinker of his bottle, either," said Albert Olsen,
interrupting. Otto nudged him in the ribs.

"No, don't do that," said Stolpe, and he laughed. "There are still two
things," he added seriously. "Take care the girls don't get running
about under the scaffold in working hours, that doesn't look well; and
always uphold the fellowship. There is nothing more despicable than the
name of strikebreaker."

"Hear, hear!" resounded about the table. "A true word!"

Frederik sat listening with an embarrassed smile.

He was dressed in a new suit of the white clothes of his calling, and on
his round chin grew a few dark downy hairs, which he fingered every
other moment. He was waiting excitedly until the old man had finished,
so that he might drink brotherhood with him.

"And now, my lad," said Stolpe, taking the cover from the "tureen," "now
you are admitted to the corporation of masons, and you are welcome!
Health, my lad." And with a sly little twinkle of his eye, he set the
utensil to his mouth, and drank.

"Health, father!" replied Frederik, with shining eyes, as his father
passed him the drinking-bowl. Then it went round the table. The women
shrieked before they drank; it was full of Bavarian beer, and in the
amber fluid swam Bavarian sausages. And while the drinking-bowl made its
cheerful round, Stolpe struck up with the Song of the Mason:

  "The man up there in snowy cap and blouse,
  He is a mason, any fool could swear.
  Just give him stone and lime, he'll build a house
  Fine as a palace, up in empty air!
  Down in the street below stands half the town:
  Ah, ah! Na, na!
  The scaffold sways, but it won't fall down!

  "Down in the street he's wobbly in his tread,
  He tumbles into every cellar door;
  That's 'cause his home is in the clouds o'erhead,
  Where all the little birds about him soar.
  Up there he works away with peaceful mind:
  Ah, ah. Na, na!
  The scaffold swings in the boisterous wind!

  "What it is to be giddy no mason knows:
  Left to himself he'd build for ever,
  Stone upon stone, till in Heaven, I s'pose!
  But up comes the Law, and says--Stop now, clever!
  There lives the Almighty, so just come off!
  Ah, ah! Na, na!
  Sheer slavery this, but he lets them scoff!

  "Before he knows it the work has passed:
  He measures all over and reckons it up.
  His wages are safe in his breeches at last,
  And he clatters off home to rest and to sup.
  And a goodly wage he's got in his pocket:
  Ah, ah! Na, na!
  The scaffold creaks to the winds that rock it!"

The little thick-set slater sat with both arms on the table, staring
right in front of him with veiled eyes. When the song was over he raised
his head a little. "Yes, that may be all very fine--for those it
concerns. But the slater, he climbs higher than the mason." His face was
purple.

"Now, comrade, let well alone," said Stolpe comfortably. "It isn't the
question, to-night, who climbs highest, it's a question of amusing
ourselves merely."

"Yes, that may be," replied Olsen, letting his head sink again. "But the
slater, he climbs the highest." After which he sat there murmuring to
himself.

"Just leave him alone," whispered Otto. "Otherwise he'll get in one of
his Berserker rages. Don't be so grumpy, old fellow," he said, laying
his arm on Olsen's shoulders. "No one can compete with you in the art of
tumbling down, anyhow!"

The Vanishing Man was so called because he was in the habit--while
lying quite quietly on the roof at work--of suddenly sliding downward
and disappearing into the street below. He had several times fallen from
the roof of a house without coming to any harm; but on one occasion he
had broken both legs, and had become visibly bow-legged in consequence.
In order to appease him, Otto, who was his comrade, related how he had
fallen down on the last occasion.

"We were lying on the roof, working away, he and I, and damned cold it
was. He, of course, had untied the safety-rope, and as we were lying
there quite comfortably and chatting, all of a sudden he was off. 'The
devil!' I shouted to the others, 'now the Vanishing Man has fallen down
again!' And we ran down the stairs as quick as we could. We weren't in a
humor for any fool's tricks, as you may suppose. But there was no Albert
Olsen lying on the pavement. 'Damn and blast it all, where has the
Vanisher got to?' we said, and we stared at one another, stupefied. And
then I accidentally glanced across at a beer-cellar opposite, and there,
by God, he was sitting at the basement window, winking at us so, with
his forefinger to his nose, making signs to us to go down and have a
glass of beer with him. 'I was so accursedly thirsty,' was all he said;
'I couldn't wait to run down the stairs!'"

The general laughter appeased the Vanishing Man. "Who'll give me a glass
of beer?" he said, rising with difficulty. He got his beer and sat down
in a corner.

Stolpe was sitting at the table playing with his canary, which had to
partake of its share in the feast. The bird sat on his red ear and fixed
its claws in his hair, then hopped onto his arm and along it onto the
table. Stolpe kept on asking it, "What would you like to smoke, Hansie?"
"Peep!" replied the canary, every time. Then they all laughed. "Hansie
would like a pipe!"

"How clever he is, to answer like that!" said the women.

"Clever?--ay, and he's sly too! Once we bought a little wife for him;
mother didn't think it fair that he shouldn't know what love is. Well,
they married themselves very nicely, and the little wife lay two eggs.
But when she wanted to begin to sit Hansie got sulky; he kept on calling
to her to come out on the perch. Well, she wouldn't, and one fine day,
when she wanted to get something to eat, he hopped in and threw the eggs
out between the bars! He was jealous--the rascal! Yes, animals are
wonderfully clever--stupendous it is, that such a little thing as that
could think that out! Now, now, just look at him!"

Hansie had hopped onto the table and had made his way to the remainder
of the cake. He was sitting on the edge of the dish, cheerfully flirting
his tail as he pecked away. Suddenly something fell upon the table-
cloth. "Lord bless me," cried Stolpe, in consternation, "if that had
been any one else! Wouldn't you have heard mother carry on!"

Old Lasse was near exploding at this. He had never before been in such
pleasant company. "It's just as if one had come upon a dozen of Brother
Kalle's sort," he whispered to Pelle. Pelle smiled absently. Ellen was
holding his hand in her lap and playing with his fingers.

A telegram of congratulation came for Pelle from his Union, and this
brought the conversation back to more serious matters. Morten and Stolpe
became involved in a dispute concerning the labor movement; Morten
considered that they did not sufficiently consider the individual, but
attached too much importance to the voice of the masses. In his opinion
the revolution must come from within.

"No," said Stolpe, "that leads to nothing. But if we could get our
comrades into Parliament and obtain a majority, then we should build up
the State according to our own programme, and that is in every respect a
legal one!"

"Yes, but it's a question of daily bread," said Morten, with energy.
"Hungry people can't sit down and try to become a majority; while the
grass grows the cow starves! They ought to help themselves. If they do
not, their self-consciousness is imperfect; they must wake up to the
consciousness of their own human value. If there were a law forbidding
the poor man to breathe the air, do you think he'd stop doing so? He
simply could not. It's painful for him to look on at others eating when
he gets nothing himself. He is wanting in physical courage. And so
society profits by his disadvantage. What has the poor man to do with
the law? He stands outside all that! A man mustn't starve his horse or
his dog, but the State which forbids him to do so starves its own
workers. I believe they'll have to pay for preaching obedience to the
poor; we are getting bad material for the now order of society that we
hope to found some day."

"Yes, but we don't obey the laws out of respect for the commands of a
capitalist society," said Stolpe, somewhat uncertainly, "but out of
regard for ourselves. God pity the poor man if he takes the law into his
own hands!"

"Still, it keeps the wound fresh! As for all the others, who go hungry
in silence, what do they do? There are too few of them, alas--there's
room in the prisons for them! But if every one who was hungry would
stick his arm through a shop window and help himself--then the question
of maintenance would soon be solved. They couldn't put the whole nation
in prison! Now, hunger is yet another human virtue, which is often
practised until men die of it--for the profit of those who hoard wealth.
They pat the poor, brave man on the back because he's so obedient to the
law. What more can he want?"

"Yes, devil take it, of course it's all topsy-turvy," replied Stolpe.
"But that's precisely the reason why----No, no, you won't persuade me,
my young friend! You seem to me a good deal too 'red.' It wouldn't do!
Now I've been concerned in the movement from the very first day, and no
one can say that Stolpe is afraid to risk his skin; but that way
wouldn't suit me. We have always held to the same course, and everything
that we have won we have taken on account."

"Yes, that's true," interrupted Frau Stolpe. "When I look back to those
early years and then consider these I can scarcely believe it's true.
Then it was all we could do to find safe shelter, even among people of
our own standing; they annoyed us in every possible way, and hated
father because he wasn't such a sheep as they were, but used to concern
himself about their affairs. Every time I went out of the kitchen door
I'd find a filthy rag of dishcloth hung over the handle, and they
smeared much worse things than that over the door--and whose doing was
it? I never told father; he would have been so enraged he would have
torn the whole house down to find the guilty person. No, father had
enough to contend against already. But now: 'Ah, here comes Stolpe--
Hurrah! Long live Stolpe! One must show respect to Stolpe, the
veteran!'"

"That may be all very fine," muttered Albert Olsen, "but the slater, he
climbs the highest." He was sitting with sunken head, staring angrily
before him.

"To be sure he climbs highest," said the women. "No one says he
doesn't."

"Leave him alone," said Otto; "he's had a drop too much!"

"Then he should take a walk in the fresh air and not sit there and make
himself disagreeable," said Madam Stolpe, with a good deal of temper.

The Vanishing Man rose with an effort. "Do you say a walk in the fresh
air, Madam Stolpe? Yes, if any one can stand the air, by God, it's
Albert Olsen. Those big-nosed masons, what can they do?" He stood with
bent head, muttering angrily to himself. "Yes, then we'll take a walk in
the fresh air. I don't want to have anything to do with your fools'
tricks." He staggered out through the kitchen door.

"What's he going to do there?" cried Madam Stolpe, in alarm.

"Oh, he'll just go down into the yard and turn himself inside out," said
Otto. "He's a brilliant fellow, but he can't carry much."

Pelle, still sitting at table, had been drawing with a pencil on a scrap
of paper while the others were arguing. Ellen leaned over his shoulder
watching him. He felt her warm breath upon his ear and smiled happily as
he used his pencil. Ellen took the drawing when he had finished and
pushed it across the table to the others. It showed a thick-set figure
of a man, dripping with sweat, pushing a wheelbarrow which supported his
belly. "Capitalism--when the rest of us refuse to serve him any longer!"
was written below. This drawing made a great sensation. "You're a deuce
of a chap!" cried Stolpe. "I'll send that to the editor of the humorous
page--I know him."

"Yes, Pelle," said Lasse proudly, "there's nothing he can't do; devil
knows where he gets it from, for he doesn't get it from his father." And
they all laughed.

Carpenter Stolpe's good lady sat considering the drawing with amazement,
quite bewildered, looking first at Pelle's fingers and then at the
drawing again. "I can understand how people can say funny things with
their mouths," she said, "but with their fingers--that I don't
understand. Poor fellow, obliged to push his belly in front of him! It's
almost worse than when I was going to have Victor."

"Cousin Victor, her youngest, who is so deucedly clever," said Otto, in
explanation, giving Pelle a meaning wink.

"Yes, indeed he is clever, if he is only six months old. The other day I
took him downstairs with me when I went to buy some milk. Since then he
won't accept his mother's left breast any more. The rascal noticed that
the milkman drew skim milk from the left side of the cart and full-cream
milk from the tap on the right side. And another time----"

"Now, mother, give over!" said Carpenter Stolpe; "don't you see they're
sitting laughing at you? And we ought to see about getting home
presently." He looked a trifle injured.

"What, are you going already?" said Stolpe. "Why, bless my soul, it's
quite late already. But we must have another song first."

"It'll be daylight soon," said Madam Stolpe; she was so tired that she
was nodding.

When they had sung the Socialist marching song, the party broke up.
Lasse had his pockets filled with sweets for the three orphans.

"What's become of the Vanishing Man?" said Otto suddenly.

"Perhaps he's been taken bad down in the yard," said Stolpe. "Run down
and see, Frederick." They had quite forgotten him.

Frederik returned and announced that Albert Olsen was not in the yard--
and the gate was locked.

"Surely he can't have gone on the roof?" said one. They ran up the back
stairs; the door of the loft was open, and the skylight also.

Otto threw off his coat and swung himself up through the opening. On the
extreme end of the ridge of the roof sat Albert Olsen, snoring.

He was leaning against the edge of the party-wall, which projected
upward about eighteen inches. Close behind him was empty space.

"For God's sake don't call him," said Mother Stolpe, under her breath;
"and catch hold of him before he wakes."

But Otto went straight up to his comrade. "Hullo, mate! Time's up!" he
cried.

"Righto!" said the Vanisher, and he rose to his feet. He stood there a
moment, swaying above the abyss, then, giving the preference to the way
leading over the roof, he followed in Otto's track and crept through the
window.

"What the dickens were you really doing there?" asked Stolpe, laughing.
"Have you been to work?"

"I just went up there and enjoyed the fresh air a bit. Have you got a
bottle of beer? But what's this? Everybody going home already?"  "Yes,
you've been two hours sitting up there and squinting at the stars,"
replied Otto.

Now all the guests had gone. Lasse and the young couple stood waiting to
say farewell. Madam Stolpe had tears in her eyes. She threw her arms
round Ellen. "Take good care of yourself, the night is so cold," she
said, in a choking voice, and she stood nodding after them with eyes
that were blinded with tears.

"Why, but there's nothing to cry about!" said Mason Stolpe, as he led
her indoors. "Go to bed now--I'll soon sing the Vanishing Man to sleep!
Thank God for to-day, mother!"



XVI


Pelle had placed his work-bench against the wall-space between the two
windows of the living-room. There was just room to squeeze past between
the edge of the bench and the round table which stood in the middle of
the room. Against the wall by the door stood an oak-stained sideboard,
which was Ellen's pride, and exactly opposite this, on the opposing
wall, stood the chest of drawers of her girlhood, with a mirror above it
and a white embroidered cover on the top. On this chest of drawers stood
a polished wooden workbox, a few photographs, and various knick-knacks;
with its white cover it was like a little altar.

Pelle went to Master Beck's only every other day; the rest of the time
he sat at home playing the little master. He had many acquaintances
hereabouts, really poor folks, who wore their boots until their
stockings appeared before they had them repaired; nevertheless, it was
possible to earn a day's pay among them. He obtained work, too, from
Ellen's family and their acquaintances. These were people of another
sort; even when things went badly with them they always kept up
appearances and even displayed a certain amount of luxury. They kept
their troubles to themselves.

He could have obtained plenty of journeyman work, but he preferred this
arrangement, which laid the foundation of a certain independence; there
was more chance of a future in it. And there was a peculiar feeling
about work done with his home as the background. When he lifted his eyes
from his work as he sat at home a fruitful warmth came into his heart;
things looked so familiar; they radiated comfort, as though they had
always belonged together. And when the morning sun shone into the room
everything wore a smile, and in the midst of it all Ellen moved busily
to and fro humming a tune. She felt a need always to be near him, and
rejoiced over every day which he spent at home. On those days she
hurried through her work in the kitchen as quickly as possible, and then
sat down to keep him company. He had to teach her how to make a patch,
and how to sew a sole on, and she helped him with his work.

"Now you are the master and I'm the journeyman!" she would say
delightedly. She brought him customers too; her ambition was to keep him
always at home. "I'll help you all I can. And one fine day you'll have
so much work you'll have to take an apprentice--and then a journeyman."
Then he would take her in his arms, and they worked in emulation, and
sang as they worked.

Pelle was perfectly happy, and had cast off all his cares and burdens.
This was his nest, where every stick and stone was worth more than all
else in the world besides. They had their work cut out to keep it
together and feed themselves a little daintily; and Pelle tackled his
work as joyfully as though he had at last found his true vocation. Now
and again a heavy wave came rolling up from the struggling masses,
making his heart beat violently, and then he would break out into fiery
speech; or his happiness would weave radiant pictures before his eyes,
and he would describe these to Ellen. She listened to him proudly, and
with her beloved eyes upon him he would venture upon stronger expression
and more vivid pictures, as was really natural to him. When at last he
was silent she would remain quietly gazing at him with those dark eyes
of hers that always seemed to be looking at something in him of which he
himself was unaware.

"What are you thinking of now?" Pelle would ask, for he would have
enjoyed an exposition of the ideas that filled his mind. There was no
one for him but Ellen, and he wanted to discuss the new ideas with her,
and to feel the wonderful happiness of sharing these too with her.

"I was thinking how red your lips are when you speak! They certainly
want to be kissed!" she replied, throwing her arms round his neck.

What happened round about her did not interest her; she could only speak
of their love and of what concerned herself. But the passionate gaze of
her eyes was like a deep background to their life. It had quite a
mysterious effect upon his mind; it was like a lure that called to the
unknown depths of his being. "The Pelle she sees must be different to
the one I know," he thought happily. There must be something fine and
strong in him for her to cling to him so closely and suffer so when
parted from him only for a moment. When she had gazed at him long enough
she would press herself against him, confused, and hide her face.

Without his remarking it, she directed his energies back to his own
calling. He could work for two when she sat at the bench facing him and
talked to him as she helped him. Pelle really found their little nest
quite comfortable, but Ellen's mind was full of plans for improvement
and progress. His business was to support a respectable home with dainty
furniture and all sorts of other things; she was counting on these
already. This home, which to him was like a beloved face that one cannot
imagine other than it is, was to her only a temporary affair, which
would by degrees be replaced by something finer and better. Behind her
intimate gossip of every-day trivialities she concealed a far-reaching
ambition. He must do his utmost if he was to accomplish all she expected
of him!

Ellen by no means neglected her housekeeping, and nothing ever slipped
through her fingers. When Pelle was away at the workshop she turned the
whole place upside down, sweeping and scrubbing, and had always
something good on the table for him. In the evening she was waiting for
him at the door of the workshop. Then they would take a stroll along the
canal, and across the green rampart where the children played. "Oh,
Pelle, how I've longed for you to-day!" she would say haltingly. "Now,
I've got you, and yet I've still got quite a pain in my breasts; they
don't know yet that you're with me!"

"Shan't we work a little this evening--just a quarter of an hour?" she
would say, when they had eaten, "so that you can become a master all the
sooner and make things more comfortable for yourself." Pelle perhaps
would rather have taken a walk through the city with her, or have gone
somewhere where they could enjoy the sunset, but her dark eyes fixed
themselves upon him.

She was full of energy from top to toe, and it was all centered on him.
There was something in her nature that excluded the possibility of
selfishness. In relation to herself, everything was indifferent; she
only wanted to be with him--and to live for him. She was beneficent and
intact as virgin soil; Pelle had awakened love in her--and it took the
shape of a perpetual need of giving. He felt, humbly, that she brought
all she had and was to him as a gift, and all he did was done to repay
her generosity.

He had refused to undertake the direction of the labor organization. His
life together with Ellen and the maintenance of the newly established
household left him no time for any effectual efforts outside his home.
Ellen did not interfere in the matter; but when he came home after
spending the evening at a meeting he could see she had been crying. So
he stopped at home with her; it was weak of him, out he did not see what
else he could do. And he missed nothing; Ellen more than made amends.
She knew how to make their little home close itself about him, how to
turn it into a world of exuberant inner life. There was no greater
pleasure than to set themselves to achieve some magnificent object--as,
for instance, to buy a china flower-pot, which could stand on the
window-sill and contain an aspidistra. That meant a week of saving, and
when they had got it they would cross over to the other side of the
canal, arm in arm, and look up at the window in order to see the effect.
And then something else would be needed; a perforating machine, an
engraved nameplate for the door; every Saturday meant some fresh
acquisition.

_The Working Man_ lay unread. If Pelle laid down his work a moment
in order to glance at it, there was Ellen nipping his ear with her lips;
his free time belonged to her, and it was a glorious distraction in
work-time, to frolic as carelessly as a couple of puppies, far more
delightful than shouldering the burden of the servitude of the masses!
So the paper was given up; Ellen received the money every week for her
savings-bank. She had discovered a corner in Market Street where she
wanted to set up a shop and work-room with three or four assistants--
that was what she was saving for. Pelle wondered at her sagacity, for
that was a good neighborhood.

After their marriage they did not visit Ellen's parents so often. Stolpe
found Pelle was cooling down, and used to tease him a little, in order
to make him answer the helm; but that angered Ellen, and resulted in
explosions--she would tolerate no criticism of Pelle. She went to see
them only when Pelle proposed it; she herself seemed to feel no desire
to see her family, but preferred staying at home. Often they pretended
they were not at home when "the family" knocked, in order to go out
alone, to the Zoological Gardens or to Lyngby.

They did not see much of Lasse. Ellen had invited him once for all to
eat his supper with them. But when he came home from work he was too
tired to change his clothes, and wash himself, and make himself tidy,
and Ellen was particular about her little home. He had a great respect
for her, but did not feel properly at home in her living-room.

He had taken Pelle's old room, and was boarding with the three orphans.
They thought great things of him, and all their queer care for the big
foundling Pelle was now transferred to old Lasse. And here they fell on
better soil. Lasse was becoming a child again, and had felt the need of
a little pampering. With devout attention he would listen to Marie's
little troubles, and the boy's narrations of everything that they did
and saw. In return he told them the adventures of his boyhood, or
related his experiences in the stone-breaking yard, swaggering suitably,
in order not to be outdone. When Pelle came to fetch his father the four
of them would be sitting down to some childish game. They would wrangle
as to how the game should be played, for Lasse was the most skilful. The
old man would excuse himself.

"You mustn't be angry, lad, because I neglect you--but I'm tired of an
evening and I go to bed early."

"Then come on Sunday--and breakfast with us; afterward we go out."

"No, I've something on for Sunday--an assignation," said Lasse
roguishly, in order to obviate further questions. "Enjoy your youthful
happiness; it won't last forever."

He would never accept help. "I earn what I need for my food and a few
clothes; I don't need much of either, and I am quite contented. And
you've enough to see to yourself," was his constant answer.

Lasse was always gentle and amiable, and appeared contented, but there
was a curious veil over his eyes, as though some disappointment were
gnawing at his heart.

And Pelle knew well what it was--it had always been an understood thing
that Lasse should spend his old age at Pelle's fireside. In his childish
dreams of the future, however various they might be, Father Lasse was
always at hand, enjoying a restful old age, in return for all he had
done for Pelle.

That was how it should be; at home in the country in every poor home a
gray-headed old man sat in the chimney-corner--for children among the
poor are the only comfort of age.

For the time being this could not be arranged; there was no room in
their two little rooms. Ellen was by no means lacking in heart; she
often thought of this or that for the old man's comfort, but her
passionate love would permit of no third person to approach them too
closely. Such a thing had never entered her mind; and Pelle felt that if
he were to persuade her to take Father Lasse into their home, the wonder
of their life together would be killed. They lived so fully from hour to
hour; theirs was a sacred happiness, that must not be sacrificed, but
which itself demanded the sacrifice of all else. Their relation was not
the usual practical self-love, but love itself, which seldom touches the
every-day life of the poor, save that they hear it in tragic and
beautiful songs of unhappy lovers. But here, to them, had come its very
self--a shining wonder!

And now Ellen was going to bear a child. Her figure grew fuller and
softer. Toward all others she was cold and remote in her behavior; only
to Pelle she disclosed herself utterly. The slight reserve which had
always lurked somewhere within her, as though there was something that
he could not yet conquer, had disappeared. Her gaze was no longer fixed
and searching; but sought his own with quiet self-surrender. A tender
and wonderful harmony was visible in her, as though she had now come
into her own, and from day to day she grew more beautiful.

Pelle was filled with pride to see how luxuriantly she unfolded beneath
his caresses. He was conscious of a sense of inexhaustible liberality,
such as the earth had suddenly inspired in him at times in his
childhood; and an infinite tenderness filled his heart. There was an
alluring power in Ellen's helplessness, so rich in promise as it was. He
would joyfully have sacrificed the whole world in order to serve her and
that which she so wonderfully bore within her.

He got up first in the morning, tidied the rooms, and made coffee before
he went to work. He was vexed if when he came home Ellen had been
sweeping or scrubbing. He made two of himself in order to spare her,
stinted himself of sleep, and was restlessly busy; his face had assumed
a fixed expression of happiness, which gave him almost a look of
stupidity. His thoughts never went beyond the four walls of his home;
Ellen's blessed form entirely engrossed him.

The buying of new furniture was discontinued; in its place Ellen made
curious purchases of linen and flannel and material for swaddling-bands,
and mysterious conversations were continually taking place between her
and her mother, from which Pelle was excluded; and when they went to see
Ellen's parents Madam Stolpe was always burrowing in her chests of
drawers, and giving Ellen little packages to be taken home.

The time passed only too quickly. Exclusively as they had lived for
their own affairs, it seemed as if they could never get everything
finished. And one day it was as though the world was shattered about
their heads. Ellen lay in bed, turning from side to side and shrieking
as though an evil spirit had taken possession of her body. Pelle bent
over her with a helpless expression, while at the foot of the bed sat
Madam Blom; she sat there knitting and reading the papers as though
nothing whatever was amiss. "Shriek away, little woman," she said from
time to time, when Ellen became silent; "that's part of the business!"
Ellen looked at her spitefully and defiantly pressed her lips together,
but next moment she opened her mouth wide and roared wildly. A rope was
fastened to the foot of the bed, and she pulled on this while she
shrieked. Then she collapsed, exhausted. "You wicked, wicked boy," she
whispered, with a faint smile. Pelle bent over her happily; but she
pushed him suddenly away; her beautiful body contorted itself, and the
dreadful struggle was raging again. But at last a feeble voice relieved
hers and filled the home with a new note. "Another mouth to fill," said
Madam Blom, holding the new-born child in the air by one leg. It was a
boy.

Pelle went about blushing and quite bewildered, as though something had
happened to him that no one else had ever experienced. At first he took
Master Beck's work home with him and looked after the child himself at
night. Every other moment he had to put down his work and run in to the
mother and child. "You are a wonderful woman, to give me such a child
for a kiss," he said, beaming, "and a boy into the bargain! What a man
he'll be!"

"So it's a boy!" said the "family." "Don't quite lose your head!"

"That would be the last straw!" said Pelle gravely.

The feminine members of the family teased him because he looked after
the child. "What a man--perhaps he'd like to lie in child-bed, too!"
they jeered.

"I don't doubt it," growled Stolpe. "But he's near becoming an idiot,
and that's much more serious. And it pains me to say it, but that's the
girl's fault. And yet all her life she has only heard what is good and
proper. But women are like cats--there's no depending on them."

Pelle only laughed at their gibes. He was immeasurably happy.

And now Lasse managed to find his way to see them! He had scarcely
received the news of the event, when he made his appearance just as he
was. He was full of audaciously high spirits; he threw his cap on the
ground outside the door, and rushed into the bedroom as though some one
were trying to hold him back.

"Ach, the little creature! Did any one ever see such an angel!" he
cried, and he began to babble over the child until Ellen was quite rosy
with maternal pride.

His joy at becoming a grandfather knew no limits. "So it's come at last,
it's come at last!" he repeated, over and over again. "And I was always
afraid I should have to go to my grave without leaving a representative
behind me! Ach, what a plump little devil! He's got something to begin
life on, he has! He'll surely be an important citizen, Pelle! Just look
how plump and round he is! Perhaps a merchant or a manufacturer or
something of that sort! To see him in his power and greatness--but  that
won't be granted to Father Lasse." He sighed. "Yes, yes, here he is, and
how he notices one already! Perhaps the rascal's wondering, who is this
wrinkled old man standing there and coming to see me in his old clothes?
Yes, it's Father Lasse, so look at him well, he's won his magnificence
by fair means!"

Then he went up to Pelle and fumbled for his hand. "Well, I've hardly
dared to hope for this--and how fine he is, my boy! What are you going
to call him?" Lasse always ended with that question, looking anxiously
at his son as he asked it. His old head trembled a little now when
anything moved him.

"He's to be called Lasse Frederik," said Pelle one day, "after his two
grandfathers."

This delighted the old man. He went off on a little carouse in honor of
the day.

And now he came almost every day. On Sunday mornings he made himself
scrupulously tidy, polishing his boots and brushing his clothes, so as
to make himself thoroughly presentable. As he went home from work he
would look in to ask whether little Lasse had slept well. He eulogized
Ellen for bringing such a bright, beautiful youngster into the world,
and she quite fell in love with the old man, on account of his delight
in the child.

She even trusted him to sit with the little one, and he was never so
pleased as when she wished to go out and sent for him accordingly.

So little Lasse succeeded, merely by his advent, in abolishing all
misunderstandings, and Pelle blessed him for it. He was the deuce of a
fellow already--one day he threw Lasse and Ellen right into one
another's arms! Pelle followed step by step the little creature's
entrance into the world; he noticed when first his glance showed a
watchful attention, and appeared to follow an object, and when first his
hand made a grab at something. "Hey, hey, just look! He wants his share
of things already!" he cried delightedly. It was Pelle's fair moustache
the child was after--and didn't he give it a tug!

The little hand gripped valiantly and was scarcely to be removed; there
were little dimples on the fingers and deep creases at the wrist. There
was any amount of strength in Ellen's milk!

They saw nothing more of Morton. He had visited them at first, but after
a time ceased coming. They were so taken up with one another at the
time, and Ellen's cool behavior had perhaps frightened him away. He
couldn't know that that was her manner to everybody. Pelle could never
find an idle hour to look him up, but often regretted him. "Can you
understand what's amiss with him?" he would ask Ellen wonderingly. "We
have so much in common, he and I. Shall I make short work of it and go
and look him up?"

Ellen made no answer to this; she only kissed him. She wanted to have
him quite to herself, and encompassed him with her love; her warm breath
made him feel faint with happiness. Her will pursued him and surrounded
him like a wall; he had a faint consciousness of the fact, but made no
attempt to bestir himself. He felt quite comfortable as he was.

The child occasioned fresh expenses, and Ellen had all she could do;
there was little time left for her to help him. He had to obtain
suitable work, so that they might not suffer by the slack winter season,
but could sit cozily between their four walls. There was no time for
loafing about and thinking. It was an obvious truth, which their daily
life confirmed, that poor people have all they can do to mind their own
affairs. This was a fact which they had not at once realized.

He no longer gave any thought to outside matters. It was really only
from old habit that, as he sat eating his breakfast in the workshop, he
would sometimes glance at the paper his sandwiches were wrapped in--part
of some back number of _The Working Man._ Or perhaps it would
happen that he felt something in the air, that passed him by, something
in which he had no part; and then he would raise his head with a
listening expression. But Ellen was familiar with the remoteness that
came into his eyes at such times, and she knew how to dispel it with a
kiss.

One day he met Morten in the street. Pelle was delighted, but there was
a sceptical expression in Morten's eyes. "Why don't you ever come to see
me now?" asked Pelle. "I often long to see you, but I can't well get
away from home."

"I've found a sweetheart--which is quite an occupation."

"Are you engaged?" said Pelle vivaciously. "Tell me something about
her!"

"Oh, there's not much to tell," said Morten, with a melancholy smile.
"She is so ragged and decayed that no one else would have her--that's
why I took her."

"That is truly just like you!" Pelle laughed. "But seriously, who is the
girl and where does she live?"

"Where does she live?" Morten stared at him for a moment
uncomprehendingly. "Yes, after all you're right. If you know where
people live you know all about them. The police always ask that
question."

Pelle did not know whether Morten was fooling him or whether he was
speaking in good faith; he could not understand him in the least to-day.
His pale face bore signs of suffering. There was a curious glitter in
his eyes. "One has to live somewhere in this winter cold."

"Yes, you are right! And she lives on the Common, when the policeman
doesn't drive her away. He's the landlord of the unfortunate, you know!
There has been a census lately--well, did you observe what happened? It
was given out that everybody was to declare where he lodged on a
particular night. But were the census-papers distributed among the
homeless? No--all those who live in sheds and outhouses, or on the
Common, or in newly erected buildings, or in the disused manure-pits of
the livery stables--they have no home, and consequently were not counted
in the census. That was cleverly managed, you know; they simply don't
exist! Otherwise there would be a very unpleasant item on the list--the
number of the homeless. Only one man in the city here knows what it is;
he's a street missionary, and I've sometimes been out with him at night;
it's horrifying, what we've seen! Everywhere, wherever there's a chink,
they crowd into it in order to find shelter; they lie under the iron
staircases even, and freeze to death. We found one like that--an old
man--and called up a policeman; he stuck his red nose right in the
corpse's mouth and said, 'Dead of drink.' And now that's put down, where
really it ought to say, 'Starved to death!' It mustn't be said that any
one really suffers need in this country, you understand. No one freezes
to death here who will only keep moving; no one starves unless it's his
own fault. It must necessarily be so in one of the most enlightened
countries in the world; people have become too cultivated to allow Want
to stalk free about the streets; it would spoil their enjoyment and
disturb their night's rest. And they must be kept at a distance too; to
do away with them would be too troublesome; but the police are drilled
to chase them back into their holes and corners. Go down to the whaling
quay and see what they bring ashore in a single day at this time of the
year--it isn't far from your place. Accidents, of course! The ground is
so slippery, and people go too near the edge of the quay. The other
night a woman brought a child into the world in an open doorway in North
Bridge Street--in ten degrees of frost. People who collected were
indignant; it was unpardonable of her to go about in such a condition--
she ought to have stopped at home. It didn't occur to them that she had
no home. Well then, she could have gone to the police; they are obliged
to take people in. On the other hand, as we were putting her in the cab,
she began to cry, in terror, 'Not the maternity hospital--not the
maternity hospital!' She had already been there some time or other. She
must have had some reason for preferring the doorstep--just as the
others preferred the canal to the workhouse."

Morten continued, regardless of Pelle, as though he had to ease some
inward torment. Pelle listened astounded to this outburst of lacerating
anguish with a shamed feeling that he himself had a layer of fat round
his heart. As Morten spoke poverty once more assumed a peculiar,
horrible, living glimmer.

"Why do you tell me all this as if I belonged to the upper classes?" he
said. "I know all this as well as you do."

"And we haven't even a bad year," Morten continued, "the circumstances
are as they always are at this time of year. Yesterday a poor man stole
a loaf from the counter and ran off with it; now he'll be branded all
his life. 'My God, that he should want to make himself a thief for so
little!' said the master's wife--it was a twopenny-ha'penny roll. It's
not easy to grasp--branded for his whole life for a roll of bread!"

"He was starving," said Pelle stupidly.

"Starving? Yes, of course he was starving! But to me it's insanity, I
tell you--I can't take it in; and every one else thinks it's so easy to
understand. Why do I tell you this, you ask? You know it as well as I
do. No, but you don't know it properly, or you'd have to rack your
brains till you were crazy over the frightful insanity of the fact that
these two words--bread and crime--can belong together! Isn't it insane,
that the two ends should bend together and close in a ring about a human
life? That a man should steal bread of all things--bread, do you
understand? Bread ought not to be stolen. What does any man want with
thieving who eats enough? In the mornings, long before six o'clock, the
poor people gather outside our shop, and stand there in rows, in order
to be the first to get the stale bread that is sold at half-price. The
police make them stand in a row, just as they do outside the box-office
at the theater, and some come as early as four, and stand two hours in
the cold, in order to be sure of their place. But besides those who buy
there is always a crowd of people still poorer; they have no money to
buy with, but they stand there and stare as though it interested them
greatly to see the others getting their bread cheap. They stand there
waiting for a miracle in the shape of a slice of bread. One can see that
in the way their eyes follow every movement, with the same desperate
hope that you see in the eyes of the dogs when they stand round the
butcher's cart and implore Heaven that the butcher may drop a bit of
meat. They don't understand that no one will pity them. Not we human
beings--you should see their surprise when we give them anything!--but
chance, some accident. Good God, bread is so cheap, the cheapest of all
the important things in this world--and yet they can't for once have
enough of it! This morning I slipped a loaf into an old woman's hand--
she kissed it and wept for joy! Do you feel that that's endurable?" He
stared at Pelle with madness lurking in his gaze.

"You do me an injustice if you think I don't feel it too," said Pelle
quietly. "But where is there a quick way out of this evil? We must be
patient and organize ourselves and trust to time. To seize on our rights
as they've done elsewhere won't do for us."

"No, that's just it! They know it won't do for us--that's why justice
never goes forward. The people get only what's due to them if the
leaders know that if the worst comes to the worst they can provide for
themselves."

"I don't believe that any good would come of a revolution," said Pelle
emphatically. He felt the old longing to fight within him.

"You can't understand about that unless you've felt it in yourself,"
replied Morten passionately. "Revolution is the voice of God, which
administers right and justice, and it cannot be disputed. If the poor
were to rise to see that justice was done it would be God's judgment,
and it would not be overthrown. The age has surely the right to redeem
itself when it has fallen into arrears in respect of matters so
important; but it could do so only by a leap forward. But the people
don't rise, they are like a damp powder! You must surely some time have
been in the cellar of the old iron merchant under the 'Ark,' and have
seen his store of rags and bones and old iron rubbish? They are mere
rakings of the refuse-heap, things that human society once needed and
then rejected. He collects them again, and now the poor can buy them.
And he buys the soldiers' bread too, when they want to go on the spree,
and throws it on his muck-heap; he calls it fodder for horses, but the
poor buy it of him and eat it. The refuse-heap is the poor man's larder
--that is, when the pigs have taken what they want. The Amager farmers
fatten their swine there, and the sanitary commission talks about
forbidding it; but no one has compassion on the Copenhagen poor."

Pelle shuddered. There was something demoniacal in Morten's hideous
knowledge--he knew more of the "Ark" than Pelle himself. "Have you, too,
been down in that loathsome rubbish-store?" he asked, "or how do you
know all this?"

"No, I've not been there--but I can't help knowing it--that's my curse!
Ask me even whether they make soup out of the rotten bones they get
there. And not even the poison of the refuse-heap will inflame them;
they lap it up and long for more! I can't bear it if nothing is going to
happen! Now you've pulled yourself out of the mire--and it's the same
with everybody who has accomplished anything--one after another--either
because they are contented or because they are absorbed in their own
pitiful affairs. Those who are of any use slink away, and only the needy
are left."

"I have never left you in the lurch," said Pelle warmly. "You must
realize that I haven't."

"It isn't to be wondered at that they get weary," Morten continued.
"Even God loses patience with those who always let themselves be
trampled upon. Last night I dreamed I was one of the starving. I was
going up the street, grieving at my condition, and I ran up against God.
He was dressed like an old Cossack officer, and had a knout hanging
round his neck.

"'Help me, dear God!' I cried, and fell on my knees before him. 'My
brothers won't help me.'

"'What ails you?' he asked, 'and who are you?'

"'I am one of Thy chosen folk, one of the poor,' I answered. 'I am
starving!'

"'You are starving and complain of your brothers, who have set forth
food for you in abundance?' he said angrily, pointing to all the fine
shops. 'You do not belong to my chosen people--away with you!' And then
he lashed me over the back with his knout."

Morten checked himself and spoke no more; it was as though he neither
saw nor heard; he had quite collapsed. Suddenly he turned away, without
saying good-bye.

Pelle went home; he was vexed by Morten's violence, which was, he felt,
an attack upon himself. He knew this of himself--that he was not
faithless; and no one had any right to grudge him the happiness of
founding a family. He was quite indignant--for the first time for a long
time. That they should taunt him, who had done more for the cause than
most!--just because he looked after his own affairs for a time!
Something unruly was rising within him; he felt a sudden need to lay
about him; to fight a good stiff battle and shake the warm domesticity
out of his bones.

Down by the canal they were engaged cutting the ice in order to clear
the water. It was already spring tide, and the ice-cakes were drifting
toward the sea, but with unbelievable slowness. After all, that's the
work for you, he told himself as he turned away. He was conscious of
that which lay beneath the surface, but he would not let it rise.

As soon as he was between four walls again he grew calmer. Ellen sat by
the stove busied with little Lasse, who lay sprawling on his belly in
her lap.

"Only look what a sweet little roly-poly he is! There isn't a trace of
chafing anywhere!"



XVII


From his place at the window Pelle could look out over the canal and the
bridge by the prison, where the prisoners lay on the rafts, washing
wool. He recognized Ferdinand's tall, powerful figure; shortly after
Christmas they had captured him in an underground vault in the cemetery,
where he had established himself; the snow had betrayed his hiding-
place. And now he lay yonder, so near the "Ark" and his mother! From
time to time he raised his closely-shorn head and looked thither.

Beyond the bridge toward the market, was the potter with his barge; he
had piled up his Jutland wares on the quay, and the women from
Kristianshavn came to deal with him. And behind at the back of all rose
the mass of the "Ark."

It was so huge that it did not give the impression of a barracks, but
had rather the character of a fantastic village--as though a hundred
hamlets had been swept together in one inextricable heap. Originally it
had been a little frame building of one story with a gabled roof. Then
it had gradually become an embryo town; it budded in all directions,
upward as well, kaleidoscopically increasing to a vast mass of little
bits of facade, high-pitched roofs, deep bays, and overhanging gables,
all mingled together in an endless confusion, till in the middle it was
five stories high. And there a bluish ring of vapor always hovered,
revealing the presence of the well, that hidden ventilating shaft for
the thronging inmates of the "Ark." One could recognize Madam Frandsen's
garret with its chimney-cowl, and farther back, in a deep recess, which
ran far into the mass of the building, Pelle could distinguish Hanne's
window. Otherwise he could not place many of the little windows. They
stared like failing eyes. Even the coal-dealer, who was the deputy
landlord of the "Ark," was imperfectly acquainted with all its holes and
corners.

He could see the inmates of the "Ark" running to and fro across the
bridge, careless and myopic; they always rushed along, having started at
the last moment.. There was something tranquilizing about their
negligence, which was evoked by privation; in the "Ark" a man began to
worry about his food only, when he sat down to table and discovered
there wasn't any!

And among them little groups of workmen wandered in and out across the
bridge; that steady march from the North Bridge had travelled hither, as
though seeking him out.

The masses were now no longer vaguely fermenting; a mighty will was in
process of formation. Amid the confusion, the chaotic hubbub, definite
lines became visible; a common consciousness came into being and assumed
a direction; the thousands of workers controlled themselves in a
remarkable way, and were now progressing, slowly and prudently, with the
ideal of closing up the ranks. One whose hearing was a little dull might
have received the impression that nothing was happening--that they were
reconciled with their lot; but Pelle knew what was going on. He himself
had put his shoulder to the wheel, and was secretly one of their number.

He was happy in Ellen's divided love, and all he undertook had reference
to her and the child.

But now again the sound of footsteps echoed through his brain; and it
would not be silenced. They had penetrated further than he himself could
go. It was as though a deadening screen had suddenly been removed and
whether he wished it or not, he heard every step of the wanderers
outside.

The hard times forced them to proceed quietly, but work was being done
in secret. The new ideas were in process of becoming current, the
newspapers introduced them into the bosom of the family, and they were
uttered from the speaker's platform, or discussed at meal-times in
workshop and factory. The contagion ran up staircases and went from door
to door. Organizations which more than once had been created and broken
up were created afresh--and this time to endure. The employers fought
them, but could not defeat them; there was an inward law working upon
the masses, making a structure behind which they must defend themselves.

They taxed themselves and stole the bread out of their own mouths in
order to increase the funds of their organization, in the blind
conviction that eventually something miraculous would come of it all.
The poor achieved power by means of privation, tears, and self-denial,
and had the satisfaction of feeling that they were rich through their
organization. When many united together they tasted of the sweets of
wealth; and, grateful as they were, they regarded that already as a
result. A sense of well-being lifted them above the unorganized, and
they felt themselves socially superior to the latter. To join the trades
unions now signified a rise in the social scale. This affected many, and
others were driven into the movement by the strong representations of
their house-mates. The big tenement buildings were gradually leavened by
the new ideas; those who would not join the Union must clear out. They
were treated as the scum of society, and could only settle down in
certain quarters of the city. It no longer seemed impossible to
establish the organization of labor in a stable fashion, and to
accomplish something for the workers--if only some courageous worker
would place himself at the head of affairs. The fact that most of them
worked at home in their lodgings could no longer make them invisible--
the movement had eyes everywhere. Pelle, with surprise, caught himself
sitting at his bench and making plans for the development of the
movement.

He put the matter from him, and devoted his whole mind to Ellen and the
child. What had he to do with the need of strangers, when these two
called for all his ability and all his strength, if he was to provide
them merely with necessities? He had tortured himself enough with the
burden of poverty--and to no end. And now he had found his release in a
blessed activity, which, if he was to neglect nothing, would entirely
absorb him. What then was the meaning of this inward admonition, that
seemed to tell him that he was sinning against his duty?

He silenced the inward voice by dwelling on his joy in his wife and
child. But it returned insidiously and haunted his mind like a shadow.

At times, as he sat quietly working, something called him: "Pelle,
Pelle!"--or the words throbbed in his ears in the depth of the night.

At such times he sat upright in bed, listening. Ellen and the child were
fast asleep; he could hear a faint whistling as little Lasse drew his
breath. He would go to the door and open it, although he shook his head
at his own folly. It was surely a warning that some one near to him was
in trouble!

At this time Pelle threw himself passionately into his life with Ellen
and the child; he lived for them as wholly as though he had anticipated
an immediate parting.

They had purchased a perambulator on the instalment system, and every
Sunday they packed sandwiches under the apron and pushed it before them
to the Common, or they turned into some beer-garden in the neighborhood
of the city, where they ate their provisions and drank coffee. Often too
they made their way along the coast road, and went right out into the
forest. Lasse-Frederik, as Ellen called him, sat throned in all his
splendor in the perambulator, like a little idol, Pelle and Ellen
pushing him alternately. Ellen did not want to permit this. "It's no
work for a man, pushing a perambulator," she would say. "You won't see
any other man doing it! They let their wives push the family coach."

"What are other people to me?" replied Pelle. "I don't keep a horse
yet."

She gave him a grateful look; nevertheless, she did not like it.

They spent glorious hours out there. Little Lasse was allowed to
scramble about to his heart's content, and it was wonderful how he
tumbled about; he was like a frolicsome little bear. "I believe he can
smell the earth under him," said Pelle, recalling his own childish
transports. "It's a pity he has to live in that barrack there!" Ellen
gazed at him uncomprehendingly.

They did not move about much; it contented them to lie there and to
delight in the child, when he suddenly sat up and gazed at them in
astonishment, as though he had just discovered them. "Now he's beginning
to think!" said Pelle, laughing.

"You take my word for it, he's hungry." And little Lasse scrambled
straight up to his mother, striking at her breast with his clenched
hands, and saying, "Mam, mam!" Pelle and the perambulator had to station
themselves in front of her while he was fed.

When they reached home it was evening. If the doormat was displaced it
meant that some one had been to call on them; and Ellen was able to
tell, from its position, who the visitor had been. Once it stood upright
against the wall.

"That's Uncle Carpenter," said Pelle quietly. Little Lasse was sleeping
on his arm, his head resting on Pelle's shoulder.

"No, it will have been Cousin Anna," said Ellen, opening the door.
"Thank the Lord we weren't at home, or we should have had such a
business till late in the evening! They never eat anything at home on
Sundays, they simply drink a mouthful of coffee and then go round eating
their relations out of house and home."



XVIII


Pelle often thought with concern of the three orphans in the "Ark." They
were learning nothing that would be of use to them in the future, but
had all they could do to make a living. The bad times had hit them too,
and little Karl in particular; people were stingy with their tips. In
these days they were never more than a day ahead of destitution, and the
slightest misfortune would have brought them face to face with it. But
they let nothing of this be seen--they were only a little quieter and
more solemn than usual. He had on several occasions made inquiries as to
obtaining help for them, but nothing could be done without immediately
tearing them asunder; all those who were in a position to help them
cried out against their little household, and separation was the worst
that could befall them.

When he went to see them Marie always had plenty to tell and to ask him;
he was still her particular confidant, and had to listen to all her
household cares and give her his advice. She was growing tall now, and
had a fresher look than of old; and Pelle's presence always filled her
eyes with joy and brought the color to her cheeks. Father Lasse she
eulogized, in a voice full of emotion, as though he were a little
helpless child; but when she asked after Ellen a little malice glittered
in her eyes.

One morning, as he sat working at home, while Ellen was out with the
child, there was a knock at the door. He went out and opened it. In the
little letter-box some one had thrust a number of _The Working
Man_, with an invitation to take the paper regularly. He opened the
paper eagerly, as he sat down to his bench again; an extraordinary
feeling of distress caused him first of all to run through the
"Accidents."

He started up in his chair; there was a heading concerning a fourteen-
year-old boy who worked in a tinplate works and had had the fingers of
the right hand cut off. A premonition told him that this misfortune had
befallen the little "Family"; he quickly drew on a coat and ran over to
the "Ark."

Marie met him anxiously. "Can you understand what has happened to Peter?
He never came home last night!" she said, in distress. "Lots of boys
roam about the streets all night, but Peter has never been like that,
and I kept his supper warm till midnight. I thought perhaps he'd got
into bad company."

Pelle showed her _The Working Man_. In a little while the inmates
of the "Ark" would see the report and come rushing up with it. It was
better that he should prepare her beforehand. "But it's by no means
certain," he said, to cheer her. "Perhaps it isn't he at all."

Marie burst into tears. "Yes, of course it is! I've so often gone about
worrying when he's been telling me about those sharp knives always
sliding between their fingers. And they can't take proper care of
themselves; they must work quickly or they get the sack. Oh, poor dear
Peter!" She had sunk into her chair and now sat rocking to and fro with
her apron to her eyes, like an unhappy mother.

"Now be grown-up and sensible," said Pelle, laying his hand on her
shoulder. "Perhaps it's not so bad after all; the papers always
exaggerate. Now I'll run out and see if I can trace him."

"Go to the factory first, then," said Marie, jumping to her feet, "for,
of course, they'll know best. But you mustn't in any case say where we
live--do you hear? Remember, we've not been to school, and he hasn't
been notified to the pastor for confirmation. We could be punished if
they found that out."

"I'll take good care," said Pelle, and he hurried away.

At the factory he received the information that Peter was lying in
hospital. He ran thither, and arrived just at the time for visitors.
Peter was sitting upright in bed, his hand in a sling; this gave him a
curiously crippled appearance. And on the boy's face affliction had
already left those deep, ineradicable traces which so dismally
distinguish the invalided worker. The terrible burden of the
consequences of mutilation could already be read in his pondering,
childish gaze.

He cheered up when he saw Pelle, made an involuntary movement with his
right hand, and then, remembering, held out his left. "There--I must
give you my left fist now," he said, with a dismal smile. "That'll seem
queer to me for a bit. If I can do anything at all. Otherwise"--he made
a threatening movement of the head--"I tell you this--I'll never be a
burden to Marie and Karl all my life. Take my word for it, I shall be
able to work again."

"We shall soon find something for you," said Pelle, "and there are kind
people, too. Perhaps some one will help you so that you can study." He
himself did not know just where that idea came from; he certainly had
never seen such a case. The magical dreams of his childhood had been
responsible for a whole class of ideas, which were nourished by the
anecdotes of poor boys in the reading-books. He was confronted by the
impossible, and quite simply he reached out after the impossible.

Peter had no reading-books at his back. "Kind people!" he cried
scornfully--"they never have anything themselves, and I can't even read
--how should I learn how to study? Karl can read; he taught himself from
the signs in the streets while he was running his errands; and he can
write as well. And Hanne has taught Marie a little. But all my life I've
only been in the factory." He stared bitterly into space; it was
melancholy to see how changed his face was--it had quite fallen in.

"Don't worry now," said Pelle confidently: "we shall soon find
something."

"Only spare me the poor-relief! Don't you go begging for me--that's
all!" said Peter angrily. "And, Pelle," he whispered, so that no one in
the room should hear, "it really isn't nice here. Last night an old man
lay there and died--close to me. He died of cancer, and they didn't even
put a screen round him. All the time he lay there and stared at me! But
in a few days I shall be able to go out. Then there'll be something to
be paid--otherwise the business will come before the Poor Law guardians,
and then they'll begin to snuff around--and I've told them fibs, Pelle!
Can't you come and get me out? Marie has money for the house-rent by
her--you can take that."

Pelle promised, and hurried back to his work. Ellen was at home; she was
moving about and seemed astonished. Pelle confided the whole affair to
her. "Such a splendid fellow he is," he said, almost crying. "A little
too solemn with all his work--and now he's a cripple! Only a child, and
an invalided worker already--it's horrible to think of!"

Ellen went up to him and pulled his head against her shoulder;
soothingly she stroked his hair. "We must do something for him, Ellen,"
he said dully.

"You are so good, Pelle. You'd like to help everybody; but what can we
do? We've paid away all our savings over my lying-in."

"We must sell or pawn some of our things."

She looked at him horrified. "Pelle, our dear home! And there's nothing
here but just what is absolutely necessary. And you who love our poor
little belongings so! But if you mean that, why, of course! Only you are
doing something for him already in sacrificing your time."

After that he was silent. She several times referred to the matter
again, as something that must be well deliberated, but he did not reply.
Her conversation hurt him--whether he replied to it or was silent.

In the afternoon he invented an errand in the city, and made his way to
the factory. He made for the counting-house, and succeeded in seeing the
manufacturer himself. The latter was quite upset by the occurrence, but
pleaded in vindication that the accident was entirely the result of
negligence. He advised Pelle to make a collection among the workers in
the factory, and he opened it himself with a contribution of twenty
kroner. He also held out the prospect that Peter, who was a reliable
lad, might take a place as messenger and collector when he was well
again.

Peter was much liked by his comrades; a nice little sum was collected.
Pelle paid his hospital dues, and there was so much left that he would
be able to stay at home and rest with an easy mind until his hand was
healed and he could take the place of messenger at the factory. The
young invalid was in high spirits, knowing that his living was assured;
he passed the time in lounging about the town, wherever there was music
to be heard, in order to learn fresh tunes. "This is the first holiday
I've had since I went to the factory," he told Pelle.

He did not get the place as messenger--some one stole a march on him;
but he received permission to go back to his old work! With the remains
of his right hand he could hold the sheet of tin-plate on the table,
while the left hand had to accustom itself to moving among the
threatening knives. This only demanded time and a little extra
watchfulness.

This accident was branded on Pelle's soul, and it aroused his slumbering
resentment. Chance had given him the three orphans in the place of
brothers and sisters, and he felt Peter's fate as keenly as if it had
been his own. It was a scandal that young children should be forced to
earn their living by work that endangered their lives, in order to keep
the detested Poor Law guardians at bay. What sort of a social order was
this? He felt a suffocating desire to strike out, to attack it.

The burden of Due's fate, aggravated by this fresh misfortune, was once
more visible in his face; Ellen's gentle hand, could not smooth it away.
"Don't look so angry, now--you frighten the child so!" she would say,
reaching him the boy. And Pelle would try to smile; but it was only a
grim sort of smile.

He did not feel that it was necessary to allow Ellen to look into his
bleeding soul; he conversed with her about indifferent things. At other
times he sat gazing into the distance, peering watchfully at every sign;
he was once more full of the feeling that he was appointed to some
particular purpose. He was certain that tidings of some kind were on the
way to him.

And then Shoemaker Petersen died, and he was again asked to take over
the management of the Union.

"What do you say to that?" he asked Ellen, although his mind was
irrevocably made up.

"You must know that yourself," she replied reservedly. "But if it gives
you pleasure, why, of course!"

"I am not doing it to please myself," said Pelle gloomily. "I am not a
woman!"

He regretted his words, and went over to Ellen and kissed her. She had
tears in her eyes, and looked at him in astonishment.



XIX


There was plenty to be done. The renegades must be shepherded back to
the organization--shepherded or driven; Pelle took the most willing
first, allowing numbers to impress the rest. Those who were quite
stubborn he left to their own devices for the time being; when they were
isolated and marked men into the bargain, they could do no further
mischief.

He felt well rested, and went very methodically to work. The feeling
that his strength would hold out to the very end lent him a quiet
courage that inspired confidence. He was not over-hasty, but saw to
everything from the foundations upward; individual questions he
postponed until the conditions for solving them should be at hand. He
knew from previous experience that nothing could be accomplished unless
the ranks were tightly knit together.

So passed the remainder of the summer. And then the organization was
complete; it looked as though it could stand a tussle. And the first
question was the tariff. This was bad and antiquated; thoroughly behind
the times in all respects; the trade was groaning under a low rate of
wages, which had not kept step with the general development and the
augmentation of prices. But Pelle allowed his practical common sense to
prevail. The moment was not favorable for a demand for higher wages. The
organization could not lend the demand sufficient support; they must for
the time being content themselves with causing the current tariff to be
respected. Many of the large employers did not observe it, although they
themselves had introduced it. Meyer was a particularly hard case; he
made use of every possible shift and evasion to beat down the clearest
wages bill.

Complaints were continually coming in, and one day Pelle went to him in
order to discuss the situation and come to some agreement. He was
prepared to fight for the inviolability of the tariff, otherwise Meyer
would make big promises and afterward break them. He had really expected
Meyer to show him the door; however, he did not do so, but treated him
with a sort of polite effrontery. Hatred of his old enemy awaked in
Pelle anew, and it was all he could do to control himself. "The embargo
will be declared against you if you don't come to an arrangement with
your workers within a week," he said threateningly.

Meyer laughed contemptuously. "What's that you say? Oh, yes, your
embargo, we know something about that! But then the employers will
declare a lock-out for the whole trade--what do you think of that? Old
hats will be selling cheap!"

Pelle was silent, and withdrew; it was the only way in which he could
succeed in keeping cool. He had said what had to be said, and he was no
diplomat, to smile quietly with a devil lurking in the corners of his
eyes.

Meyer obligingly accompanied him to the door. "Can I oblige you in any
other way--with work, for example? I could very well find room for a
worker who will make children's boots and shoes."

When Pelle reached the street he drew a long breath. Poof! That was
tough work; a little more insolence and he'd have given him one on the
jaw! That would have been the natural answer to the fellow's effrontery!
Well, it was a fine test for his hot temper, and he had stood it all
right! He could always be master of the situation if he held his tongue.

"Now suppose we do put an embargo on Meyer," he thought, as he went down
the street. "What then? Why, then he'll hit back and declare a lock-out.
Could we hold out? Not very long, but the employers don't know that--and
then their businesses would be ruined. But then they would introduce
workers from abroad--or, if that didn't answer, they would get the work
done elsewhere; or they would import whole cargoes of machinery, as they
have already begun to do on a small scale."

Pelle stood still in the middle of the street. Damn it all, this
wouldn't do! He must take care that he didn't make a hash of the whole
affair. If these foreign workers and machines were introduced, a whole
host of men would in a moment be deprived of their living. But he wanted
to have a go at Meyer; there must be some means of giving the
bloodsucker a blow that he would feel in his purse!

Next morning he went as usual to Beck's. Beck looked at him from over
his spectacles. "I've nothing more to do with you, Pelle," he said, in a
low voice.

"What!" cried Pelle, startled. "But we've such a lot of work on hand,
master!"

"Yes, but I can't employ you any longer. I'm not doing this of my own
free will; I have always been very well pleased with you; but that's how
it stands. There are so many things one has to take into consideration;
a shoemaker can do nothing without leather, and one can't very well do
without credit with the leather merchants."

He would not say anything further.

But Pelle had sufficiently grasped the situation. He was the president
of the Shoemakers' Union; Master Beck had been compelled to dismiss him,
by the threat of stopping his source of supplies. Pelle was a marked man
because he was at the head of the organization--although the latter was
now recognized. This was an offence against the right of combination.
Still there was nothing to be done about the matter; one had the right
to dismiss a man if one had no further need of him. Meyer was a cunning
fellow!

For a time Pelle drifted about dejectedly. He was by no means inclined
to go home to Ellen with this melancholy news; so he went to see various
employers in order to ask them for work. But as soon as they heard who
he was they found they had nothing for him to do. He saw that a black
mark had been set against his name.

So he must confine himself to home work, and must try to hunt up more
acquaintances of his acquaintances. And he must be ready day and night
lest some small shoemaker who muddled along without assistance should
suddenly have more to do than he could manage.

Ellen took things as they came, and did not complain. But she was mutely
hostile to the cause of their troubles. Pelle received no help from her
in his campaign; whatever he engaged in, he had to fight it out alone.
This did not alter his plans, but it engendered a greater obstinacy in
him. There was one side of his nature that Ellen's character was unable
to reach; well, she was only a woman, after all. One must be indulgent
with her! He was kind to her, and in his thoughts he more and more set
her on a level with little Lasse. In that way he avoided considering her
opinion concerning serious matters--and thereby felt more of a man.

Thanks to his small salary as president of his Union, they suffered no
actual privation. Pelle did not like the idea of accepting this salary;
he felt greatly inclined to refuse the few hundred kroner. There was not
a drop of bureaucratic blood in his veins, and he did not feel that a
man should receive payment for that which he accomplished for the
general good. But now this money came in very conveniently; and he had
other things to do than to make mountains out of molehills. He had given
up the embargo; but he was always racking his brains for some way of
getting at Meyer; it occupied him day and night.

One day his thoughts blundered upon Meyer's own tactics. Although he was
quite innocent, they had driven him away from his work. How would it be
if he were to employ the same method and, quite secretly, take Meyer's
workmen away from him? Meyer was the evil spirit of the shoemaker's
craft. He sat there like a tyrant, thanks to his omnipotence, and
oppressed the whole body of workers. It would not be so impossible to
set a black mark against his name! And Pelle did not mean to be too
particular as to the means.

He talked the matter over with his father-in-law, whose confidence in
him was now restored. Stolpe, who was an old experienced tactician,
advised him not to convoke any meeting on this occasion, but to settle
the matter with each man face to face, so that the Union could not be
attacked. "You've got plenty of time," he said. "Go first of all to the
trustworthy fellows, and make them understand what sort of a man Karl
Meyer is; take his best people away first of all; it won't do him much
good to keep the bad ones. You can put the fear of God into your mates
when you want to! Do your business so well that no one will have the
courage any longer to take the place of those that leave him. He must be
branded as what he is--but between man and man."

Pelle did not spare himself; he went from one comrade to another, fiery
and energetic. And what had proved impossible three years before he was
now able to accomplish; the resentment of Meyer's injustice had sunk
into the minds of all.

Meyer had been in the habit of letting his workers run about to no
purpose; if the work was not quite ready for them they could call again.
And when the work was given out to them they had, as a rule, to finish
it with a rush; there was intention in this; it made the people humble
and submissive.

But now the boot was on the other leg. The workers did not call; they
did not deliver urgent commissions at the appointed time; Meyer had to
send to them, and got his own words as answer; they were not quite ready
yet, but they would see what they could do for him! He had to run after
his own workers in order not to offend his rich customers. In the first
instances he settled the matter, as a rule, by dismissal. But that did
not help him at all; the devil of arrogance had entered into the simple
journeymen! It looked as though they had got their ideas of master and
subordinate reversed! He had to give up trusting to the hard hand on the
rein; he must seek them out with fair words! His business had the whole
fashionable world as customer, and always required a staff of the very
best workers. But not even friendly approaches availed. Scarcely did he
find a good journeyman-worker but he was off again, and if he asked the
reason he always received the same jeering answer: they didn't feel
inclined to work. He offered high wages, and at great expense engaged
qualified men from outside; but Pelle was at once informed and
immediately sought them out. When they had been subjected to his
influence only for a few days they went back to the place they came
from, or found other masters, who, now that Meyer's business was
failing, were getting more orders. People who went to the warehouse said
that Meyer was raging about upstairs, abusing innocent people and
driving them away from him.

Meyer was conscious of a hand behind all this, and he demanded that the
Employers' Union should declare a lock-out. But the other masters
scented a move for his benefit in this.

His own business was moribund, so he wanted to bring theirs to a
standstill also. They had no fundamental objection to the new state of
affairs; in any case they could see no real occasion for a lock-out.

So he was forced to give in, and wrote to Pelle requesting him to enter
into negotiations--in order to put an end to the unrest affecting the
craft. Pelle, who as yet possessed no skill in negotiations, answered
Meyer in a very casual manner, practically sending him about his
business. He showed his reply to his father-in-law before dispatching
it.

"No, deuce take it, that won't do!" said Stolpe. "Look you, my lad,
everything depends on the tone you take, if you are dealing with labor
politics! These big folks think such a damn lot about the way a thing is
wrapped up! If I were setting about this business I'd come out with the
truth and chuck it in their faces--but that won't answer; they'd be so
wild there'd be no dealing with them. Just a nice little lie--that
answers much better! Yes, yes, one has to be a diplomatist and set a fox
to catch a fox. Now you write what I tell you! I'll give you an example.
Now--"

Stolpe paced up and down the room a while, with a thoughtful expression;
he was in shirt-sleeves and slippers and had thrust both his forefingers
in his waistcoat pockets. "Are you ready, son-in-law? Then we'll begin!"

"To the President of the Employers' Union, Herre H. Meyer, Shoemaker to
the Court.

"Being in receipt of your honored favor of yesterday's date hereby
acknowledged, I take the liberty of remarking that so far as is known to
me complete quiet and the most orderly conditions prevail throughout the
trade. There appears therefore to be no motive for negotiation.

"For the Shoemakers' Union,

"Your obedient servant,

"PELLE."

"There, that's to the point, eh? Napoleon himself might have put his
name to that! And there's enough sting to it, too!" said Stolpe, much
gratified. "Now write that out nicely, and then get a big envelope."

Pelle felt quite important when he had written this out on a big sheet
of paper; it was like an order of the day issued by a sheriff or
burgomaster at home. Only in respect of its maliciousness he entertained
a certain doubt.

One morning, a few days later, he was sitting at home working. In the
meantime he had been obliged to undertake casual jobs for sailors in the
harbor, and now he was soling a pair of sea-boots for a seaman on board
a collier. On the other side of the bench sat little Lasse, chattering
and aping his movements, and every time Pelle drove a peg home the
youngster knocked his rattle against the edge of the table, and Pelle
smiled at him. Ellen was running in and out between the living-room and
the kitchen. She was serious and silent.

There was a knock at the door. She ran to the stove, snatching away some
of the child's linen which was drying there, ran out, and opened the
door.

A dark, corpulent gentleman in a fur overcoat entered, bowing, holding
his tall hat before him, together with his gloves and stick. Pelle could
not believe his eyes--it was the Court shoemaker! "He's come to have it
out!" thought Pelle, and prepared himself for a tussle. His heart began
to thump, there was a sudden sinking inside him; his old submissiveness
was on the point of coming to the surface and mastering him. But that
was only for a moment; then he was himself again. Quietly he offered his
guest a chair.

Meyer sat down, looking about the neat, simple room as though he wanted
to compare his enemy's means with his own before he made a move. Pelle
gathered something from his wandering glance, and suddenly found himself
considerably richer in his knowledge of human nature. "He's sitting
there staring about him to see if something has gone to the pawnshop,"
he thought indignantly.

"H'm! I have received your favor of the other day," began Meyer. "You
are of opinion that there is no occasion for a discussion of the
situation; but--however--ah--I think--"

"That is certainly my opinion," answered Pelle, who had resolved to
adhere to the tone of the letter. "The most perfect order prevails
everywhere. But generally speaking it would seem that matters ought to
go smoothly now, when we each have our Union and can discuss affairs
impartially." He gazed innocently at Meyer.

"Ah, you think so too! It cannot be unknown to you that my workers have
left me one after another--not to say that they were taken away from me.
Even to please you I can't call those orderly conditions."

Pelle sat there getting angrier and angrier at his finicking tone. Why
the devil couldn't he bluster like a proper man instead of sitting there
and making his damned allusions? But if he wanted that sort of foolery
he should have it! "Ah! your people are leaving you?" he said, in an
interested manner.

"They are," said Meyer, and he looked surprised. Pelle's tone made him
feel uncertain. "And they are playing tricks on me; they don't keep to
their engagements, and they keep my messengers running about to no
purpose. Formerly every man came to get his work and to deliver it, but
now I have to keep messengers for that; the business can't stand it."

"The journeymen have had to run about to no purpose--I myself have
worked for you," replied Pelle. "But you are perhaps of opinion that we
can better bear the loss of time?"

Meyer shrugged his shoulders. "That's a condition of your livelihood--
its conditions are naturally based on order. But if only I could at
least depend on getting hands! Man, this can't go on!" he cried
suddenly, "damn and blast it all, it can't go on, it's not honorable!"

Little Lasse gave a jump and began to bellow. Ellen came hurrying in and
took him into the bedroom.

Pelle's mouth was hard. "If your people are leaving you, they must
surely have some reason for it," he replied; he would far rather have
told Meyer to his face that he was a sweater! "The Union can't compel
its members to work for an employer with whom perhaps they can't agree.
I myself even have been dismissed from a workshop--but we can't bother
two Unions on those grounds!" He looked steadily at his opponent as he
made this thrust; his features were quivering slightly.

"Aha!" Meyer responded, and he rubbed his hands with an expression that
seemed to say that--now at last he felt firm ground under his feet.
"Aha--so it's out at last! So you're a diplomatist into the bargain--a
great diplomatist! You have a clever husband, little lady!" He turned to
Ellen, who was busying herself at the sideboard. "Now just listen, Herre
Pelle! You are just the man for me, and we must come to an arrangement.
When two capable men get talking together something always comes of it--
it couldn't be otherwise! I have room for a capable and intelligent
expert who understands fitting and cutting. The place is well paid, and
you can have a written contract for a term of years. What do you say to
that?"

Pelle raised his head with a start. Ellen's eyes began to sparkle, and
then became mysteriously dark; they rested on him compellingly, as
though they would burn their purpose into him. For a moment he gazed
before him, bewildered. The offer was so overpowering, so surprising;
and then he laughed. What, what, was he to sell himself to be the
understrapper of a sweater!

"That won't do for me," he replied.

"You must naturally consider my offer," said Meyer, rising. "Shall we
say three days?"

When the Court shoemaker had gone, Ellen came slowly back and laid her
arm round Pelle's shoulders. "What a clever, capable man you are, then!"
she said, in a low voice, playing with his hair; there was something
apologetic in her manner. She said nothing to call attention to the
offer, but she began to sing at her work. It was a long time since Pelle
had heard her sing; and the song was to him like a radiant assurance
that this time he would be the victor.



XX


Pelle continued the struggle indefatigably, contending with opposing
circumstances and with disloyalty, but always returning more boldly to
the charge. Many times in the course of the conflict he found himself
back at the same place; Meyer obtained a new lot of workers from abroad,
and he had to begin all over again; he had to work on them until they
went away again, or to make their position among their housemates so
impossible that they resigned. The later winter was hard and came to
Meyer's assistance. He paid his workers well now, and had brought
together a crowd of non-union hands; for a time it looked as though he
would get his business going again. But Pelle had left the non-unionists
alone only through lack of time; now he began to seek them out, and he
spoke with more authority than before. Already people were remarking on
his strength of will; and most of them surrendered beforehand. "The
devil couldn't stand up against him!" they said. He never wavered in his
faith in an ultimate victory, but went straight ahead; he did not
philosophize about the other aspect of the result, but devoted all his
energies to achieving it. He was actuated by sheer robust energy, and it
led him the shortest way. The members of the Union followed him
willingly, and willingly accepted the privations involved in the
emptying of the workshops. He possessed their confidence, and they found
that it was, after all, glorious sport to turn the tables, when for once
in a way they could bring the grievance home to its point of departure!
They knew by bitter experience what it was to run about to no purpose,
to beg for work, and to beg for their wages, and to haggle over them--in
short, to be the underdog. It was amusing to reverse the roles. Now the
mouse was playing with the cat and having a rattling good time of it--
although the claws did get home now and again!  Pelle felt their
confidence, the trust of one and all, in the readiness with which they
followed him, as though he were only the expression of their own
convictions. And when he stood up at the general meetings or
conferences, in order to make a report or to conduct an agitation, and
the applause of his comrades fell upon his ears, he felt an influx of
sheer power. He was like the ram of a ship; the weight of the whole was
behind him. He began to feel that he was the expression of something
great; that there was a purpose within him.

The Pelle who dealt so quietly and cleverly with Meyer and achieved
precisely what he willed was not the usual Pelle. A greater nature was
working within him, with more responsibility, according to his old
presentiment. He tested himself, in order to assimilate this as a
conviction, and he felt that there was virtue in the idea.

This higher nature stood in mystical connection with so much in his
life; far back into his childhood he could trace it, as an abundant
promise. So many had involuntarily expected something from him; he had
listened to them with wonder, but now their expectation was proving
prophetic.

He paid strict attention to his words in his personal relations, now
that their illimitable importance had been revealed to him. But in his
agitator's work the strongest words came to him most naturally; came
like an echo out of the illimitable void that lay behind him. He busied
himself with his personality. All that had hitherto had free and
careless play must now be circumscribed and made to serve an end. He
examined his relations with Ellen, was indulgent to her, and took pains
to understand her demand for happiness. He was kind and gentle to her,
but inflexible in his resolve.

He had no conscientious scruples in respect of the Court shoemaker.
Meyer had in all respects misused his omnipotence long enough; owing to
his huge business he had made conditions and ruled them; and the evil of
those conditions must be brought home to him. It was now summer and a
good time for the workers, and his business was rapidly failing. Pelle
foresaw his fall, and felt himself to be a righteous avenger.

The year-long conflict absorbed his whole mind. He was always on his
feet; came rushing home to the work that lay there waiting for him,
threw it aside like a maniac, and hurried off again. He did not see much
of Ellen and little Lasse these days; they lived their own life without
him.

He dared not rest on what he had accomplished, now that the cohesion of
the Union was so powerful. He was always seeking means to strengthen and
to undermine; he did not wish to fall a sacrifice to the unforeseen. His
indefatigability infected his comrades, they became more eager the
longer the struggle lasted. The conflict was magnified by the sacrifice
it demanded, and by the strength of the opposition; Meyer gradually
became a colossus whom all must stake their welfare to hew down.
Families were ruined thereby, but the more sacrifice the struggle
demanded the more recklessly they struggled on. And they were full of
jubilation on the day when the colossus fell, and buried some of them in
his fall!

Pelle was the undisputed victor. The journeyman-cobbler had laid low the
biggest employer in the trade. They did not ask what the victory had
cost, but carried his name in triumph. They cheered when they caught
sight of him or when his name was mentioned. Formerly this would have
turned his head, but now he regarded his success as entirely natural--as
the expression of a higher power!

A few days later he summoned a general meeting of the Union, laid before
them the draft of a new tariff which was adapted to the times, and
proposed that they should at once begin the fight for its adoption. "We
could never have a better opportunity," he said. "Now they have seen
what we can do! With the tariff question we struck down Meyer! We must
strike the iron while it is hot!"

He reckoned that his comrades were just in the mood for battle, despite
all the privations that the struggle had entailed, and he was not
mistaken. His proposal was unanimously accepted.

But there was no fight for better wages. Meyer was now making the rounds
of the employers' establishments with the sample-box of one of the
leather firms. The sight of this once so mighty man had a stimulating
effect. The masters' Union appointed a few employers with whom the
workers' Union could discuss the question of the tariff.



XXI


It often happened that Pelle would look back with longing on his quiet
home-life with Ellen and the child, and he felt dejectedly that they
lived in a happier world, and were on the point of accustoming
themselves to live without him. "When once you have got this out of hand
you can live really comfortably with them again," he thought.

But one thing inevitably followed on another, and one question arose
from the solution of another, and the poor man's world unfolded itself
like the development of a story. The fame of his skill as organizer
spread itself abroad; everywhere men were at work with the idea of
closing up the ranks, and many began to look toward him with expectant
eyes.

Frequently workers came to him begging him to help them to form an
organization--no one had such a turn for the work as he. Then they
called a meeting together, and Pelle explained the process to them.
There was a certain amount of fancifulness and emphasis in his speech,
but they understood him very well. "He talks so as to make your ears
itch," they told one another. He was the man they trusted, and he
initiated them into the practical side of the matter.

"But you must sacrifice your wages--so that you can start a fund," he
told them continually; "without money nothing can be done. Remember,
it's capital itself we are fighting against!"

"Will it be any use to understand boxing when the fight comes on?" asked
a simple-minded workman one day.

"Yes--cash-boxing!" retorted Pelle swiftly. They laughed, and turned
their pitiful pockets inside out. They gazed a moment at the money
before they gave it away. "Oh, well, it's of no consequence," they said.

"The day will soon come when it will be of consequence--if we only hang
together," said Pelle confidently.

It was the dripping they had scraped off their bread--he knew that well,
but there was no help for it! In these days he was no better situated
than they were.

His activities were leading him abroad, in wider and wider circles,
until he found himself at length in the very midst of the masses. Their
number did not astonish him; he had always really been conscious of
that. And he grew by this contact, and measured himself and the movement
by an ever-increasing standard.

At this time he underwent a noticeable change in his outer man. In his
forehead were always those deep creases which in young men speak of a
gloomy childhood; they were the only bitter token of that which he had
taken upon himself, and reminded one of a clouded sky. Otherwise he
looked fresh and healthy enough; his hard life was not undermining his
strength; he thrived on the sense of community, and was almost always
cheerful. His cheeks grew round as those of a cornet-player, and his
distended nostrils spoke of his fiery zeal; he needed much air, and
always wore his clothes open upon his chest. His carriage was upright
and elastic; his whole appearance was arresting, challenging. When he
spoke at meetings there was energy in his words; he grew deeply flushed,
and wet with perspiration. Something of this flush remained in his face
and neck, and there was always a feeling of heat in his body. When he
strode forward he looked like a trumpeter at the head of a column.

The many--that was his element. There were many who were to be brought
under one hat. Yet most of them lacked a clear understanding; old
suspicions suddenly came to light; and many doubts were abroad among the
masses. Some believed blindly; others said, "It's all one whether this
party or that does the plucking of us!" Nothing of palpable importance
occurred, such as to catch the eye; but they came to trust in his
personality as the blind man trusts his leader, and they were forever
demanding to hear his voice. Pelle became their darling speaker. He felt
that their blind confidence bore him up, and for them he gazed far over
the hubbub and confusion. He had always been a familiar of Fortune; now
he saw it plainly, far out along the route of march, and inflamed them
all with his enthusiasm.

One evening he was summoned to rouse a calling that was in low water. It
was the dustmen who applied to him. In order to stimulate their self-
consciousness he showed them what a vast power they possessed in their
despised activity. He imagined, as an example, that they refused to
work, and painted, with much humor, the results which their action would
have for the world of rich people. This had a tremendous effect on the
meeting. The men stared at one another as if they had just discovered
themselves, and then sat laughing like one man. To follow up his effect,
he showed how one kind of work depends on another, and imagined one
calling to support another, until a general strike had laid its
paralyzing hand on the city. What a fantastic picture it was! Pelle knew
nothing of the theory of the labor movement, but his energy and
enthusiasm lifted the veil from the remotest consequences. Stimulated
and startled by the terrible power which lay in their hands, the dustmen
went home.

There was something in all this that did not satisfy him; it was in his
nature to create, not to destroy. But if only the poor would, they could
make society all over again--so Morten had one day said, and the words
had never ceased to haunt Pelle's mind. But he could not endure the idea
of violent revolution; and now he had found a good way out of his
difficulty. He felt convinced that cohesion was irresistible, and that
life would undergo a peaceful change.

He had welded his own Union together so that the members hung together
through thick and thin. He had accomplished something there, but if a
real result were to be achieved the Unions here must work in conjunction
with those of all the cities in the country, and that was being done to
a certain small extent, in his own trade as well as in others. But all
these federations of local Unions must be combined in a mighty whole, so
that the whole country would be of one single mind. In other countries
matters were progressing as here, so why not summon all countries to one
vast work of cooperation?

Before Pelle was aware, he had included the whole world in his
solidarity. He knew now that poverty is international. And he was
convinced that the poor man felt alike all the world over.

The greatness of this idea did not go to his head. It had evolved
naturally on the lines of his own organization--it was just like the
idea at the base of the latter. But he continued to play with it until
it assumed a definite form. Then he went with his plan to his father-in-
law, who was a member of the party executive, and through him was
invited to lay the matter before the Central Committee.

Pelle was a practised speaker by now, but he was feverishly excited when
he stood in the presence of the actual heart of the labor movement. His
words delighted the many, but would he succeed in winning over these
tried and experienced men, the leaders who stood behind the whole
movement, while quietly going about their own business? He felt that
this was the most significant day in his life.

These were men with quieter temperaments than his own. They sat there
immovable, listening with half-closed eyes; his big words brought the
faintest smile to their lips--they had long got over that sort of thing!
They were artisans and craftsmen who worked hard all day for a living,
as did he himself, but several of them had given themselves a
considerable education; they must be regarded as scholarly persons. In
the evening and on Sundays they worked for the Cause, devising political
schemes and devoting themselves to keeping accounts and the ever-
increasing work of administration. They were awkward at these
unaccustomed tasks, which had hitherto been reserved by quite a
different class of society, and had had to grow accustomed thereto;
their heads were gray and wrinkled.

Pelle felt that he was still only at the beginning. These men gave him
the impression of a great secret council; outside they looked like any
one else, but here at the green table they sat creating the vast
organization into which he merely drove the masses. Here high politics
came into play. There was something impious in this--as though one saw
ants making plans to overturn a mountain; and he must do the same if he
wanted to accomplish anything! But here something more than big words
was needed! He involuntarily moderated his tone and did his best to
speak in a dry, professional manner.

He received no applause when he had finished; the men sat there gazing
in front of them with a slightly pondering expression. The silence and
the great empty room had the effect of making him feel dizzy. All his
faculties were directed outward, drawing strength from the echo from
without of the many who had shaped him. But at this decisive moment they
were silent, leaving him in suspense, without any kind of support. Was
the whole stupendous plan of federation a piece of madness, and was he a
fool to propound it? No one replied. The leaders quietly asked him the
details of his plan, and undertook to consider it.

Pelle left in a state of dreadful suspense. He felt that he had touched
upon something on which a great decision depended, and he wanted
corroboration of the fact that he had set about the matter rightly. In
this moment of need he turned to himself. It was not his way to ask
questions of his inner self, but now no other could answer him. He must
look to himself for recognition.

This was the first time that Pelle had sought refuge in his own ego, or
learned to fall back upon it in critical moments. But solitude did not
suit him and he sought it only under the compulsion of necessity. His
heart beat uncontrollably within him when he learned that his plan was
approved. A committee was appointed to put it into execution, and Pelle
was on the committee.

At one stroke the National Federation made a single army of the many
divisions, and was effective merely by the attractive virtue of its
mass. It became a heavy and fatiguing task to organize the swarms that
came streaming in, as water rushes to the sea, by virtue of a natural
law. It needed the talent of a great general to marshal them for a
conclusive battle and to lead them into the line of fire.

Pelle was naturally placed in the front ranks of the organization; his
work was properly that of the pioneer and agitator; no one possessed the
ear of the crowd as he did. He had received regular employment from one
of the larger employers, which amounted to a recognition of the
organization, and the increased rate of wages meant that he earned a
moderate income. He did not object to the fact that the work had to be
done away from home. Life at home had lost its radiance. Ellen was
loving enough, but she had always some purpose in view--and he would not
allow himself to be tied!

When he went home--and as a rule he managed to include a meal--it was
only to make himself ready and to rush out again--to general or
committee meetings. Father Lasse was there as a rule in the evenings,
and he gazed longingly after Pelle when the latter left his wife and
child; he did not understand it, but he did not venture to say anything
--he felt a great respect for the lad's undertakings. Ellen and the old
man had discovered one another; they were like a pair of horses in
harness; there was a great consolation in that.

Pelle went forward in a sort of intoxication of power, produced by the
sense of the multiplying hosts. He was like an embodiment of those
hosts, and he heard their step echoing in his own; it was natural that
the situation should assume large dimensions. He was a product of an
ancient culture, but a culture that had always dwelt in the shadow, and
was based on stern and narrow tenets, each of which summed up a lifetime
of bitter experience. The need of light and sunshine, continually
suppressed, had been accumulating, through illimitable years, until it
had resulted in a monstrous tension. Now it had exploded, and was
mounting dizzily upward. His mind was reeling in the heights, in a
blinding cloud of light!

But fundamentally he was still the sturdy realist and stood with his
feet on the earth! The generations beneath him had been disciplined by
the cold, and had learned to content themselves with bare necessities; a
lesson which they handed down to him, simply and directly, with no
inheritance of frivolity. In his world, cause and effect were in a
direct line; an obtrusive odor did not translate itself into a spectral
chattering of the teeth. The result was in a direct line with the cause
--but their relation was often that of the match and the bonfire. Herein
lay the strength of his imagination; this was why he could encompass all
things with so simple a preparation.

He was not afraid to consider the fate of the masses; when he could not
see ahead, his old fatalism came to his help. His words flamed high
despite himself and kept the hope alive in many who did not themselves
understand the meaning of the whole movement, but saw that its adherents
grew ever more numerous, and that in other respects they were just as
well off. Where he himself could not see he was like a lens that
collects the half-darkness and gives it out again as a beam of light.

Morten he preferred to avoid. Pelle had gradually absorbed all the
theories of the labor movement, and they comfortably filled his mind.
And how could one accomplish more than by remaining in harmony with the
whole? Morten had an unfruitful tendency to undermine the certainty of
one's mind; he always brought forth his words from his inner
consciousness, from places where no one else had ever been, and he
delivered them as though they had been God's voice in the Bible, which
always made people pause in their designs. Pelle respected his peculiar
nature, which never marched with the crowd, and avoided him.

But his thoughts often returned to him. Morten had first thrown a light
upon chaos--upon the knowledge of Pelle's world, the poor man's world;
and when he was confronted by any decisive question he involuntarily
asked himself how Morten would have dealt with it.

At times they met at meetings called together by the workers themselves,
and at which they both collaborated. Morten had no respect for the
existing laws and little for the new. He did not play a very zealous
part in the work of party organization, and was rather held at arm's
length by the leaders. But his relations with the man in the street were
of the closest. He worked independently; there was scarcely his match in
individual cases of need or injustice; and he was always laboring to
make people think for themselves.

And they loved him. They looked up to Pelle and the rest, and made way
for them with shining eyes; but they smilingly put themselves in
Morten's way. They wanted to press his hand--he could scarcely make his
way to the speaker's platform. His pale face filled them with joy--women
and children hung on to him. When he passed through the streets of the
poor quarters in his simple clothes, the women smiled at him. "That's
him, the master-journeyman, who is so good and so book-learned," they
would say. "And now he has sold all his books in order to help a poor
child!" And they gave their own children a little push, and the children
went up to him and held out their hands and followed him right to the
end of the street.



XXII


When Pelle went now and again to the "Ark," to see his brothers and
sister, the news of his visit spread quickly through the building.
"Pelle is here!" sounded from gallery to gallery, and they hurried up
the stairs in order to nod to him and to seek to entice him to swallow a
cup of coffee. Old Madam Frandsen had moved; she disappeared when
Ferdinand came out of prison--no one knew whither. Otherwise there were
no changes. A few factory women left by night on account of their rent,
and others had taken their places. And from time to time some one
completed his term, and was carried out of the dark corridors and borne
away on the dead-cart--as always. But in the "Ark" there was no change
to be observed.

It happened one day that he went over to call on Widow Johnsen. She
looked very melancholy sitting there as she turned her old soldiers'
trousers and attended to Hanne's child, which promised to be a fine
girl. She had aged; she was always sitting at home and scolding the
child; when Pelle visited her he brought a breath of fresh air into her
joyless existence. Then she recalled the excursion to the forest, and
the cozy evenings under the hanging lantern, and sighed. Hanne never
looked at Pelle. When she came running home from the factory, she had no
eyes for anything but her little girl, who threw herself upon her mother
and immediately wanted to play. For the remainder of the day the child
was close under her eyes, and Hanne had to hold her hand as she moved
about, and play with her and the doll.

  "Far up the mountain did I climb,"

sang Hanne, and the child sang with her--she could sing already! Hanne's
clear, quiet eyes rested on the child, and her expression was as joyful
as though fortune had really come to her. She was like a young widow who
has lived her share of life, and in the "Ark" every one addressed her as
Widow Hanne. This was a mark of respect paid to her character; they
threw a widow's veil over her fate because she bore it so finely. She
had expected so much, and now she centered everything in her child, as
though the Stranger could have brought her no more valuable present.

Peter's misfortune had struck the little home a serious blow. They had
always only just kept their heads above water; and now he earned less
than ever with his crippled hand. Karl wanted to get on in the world,
and was attending confirmation classes, which cost money and clothes.
They had made up for Peter's loss of earning power by giving up Father
Lasse's room and moving his bed into their own room. But all three were
growing, and needed food and clothing.

Peter's character had taken on a little kink; he was no longer so
cheerful over his work, and he often played the truant, loafing about
the streets instead of going to the factory. Sometimes he could not be
got out of bed in the morning; he crept under the bedclothes and hid
himself. "I can't work with my bad hand," he would say, crying, when
Marie wanted to drag him out; "every moment the knives are quite close
to it and nearly chop it off."

"Then stay at home!" said Marie at last. "Look after the house and I
will go out and see if I can earn something. I can get work as a
charwoman in the new buildings in Market Street."

But at that he got up and slunk away; he would not allow a woman to earn
his food for him.

Karl was a brisk, merry young vagabond; nothing made any impression on
him. The streets had brought him up, had covered his outer man with a
coating of grime, and had lit the inextinguishable sparks in his eyes.
He was like the sparrows of the capital; black with soot, but full of an
urban sharpness, they slip in and out among the heavy wagon-wheels, and
know everything. He was always getting into difficulties, but always
came home with a whole skin. His continual running about seemed to have
got into his blood like a never-resting impulse.

He was full of shifts for lessening the uncertainty of his earnings, and
the little household depended principally on him. But now he had had
enough of seeking his living in the streets; he wanted to get on; he
wanted most of all to be a shopkeeper. The only thing that held him back
was his regard for his home.

Pelle saw that the little home would have to be broken up. Marie was
developing rapidly; she must leave the "Ark," and if Karl could not live
his own life, but was forced to sacrifice himself to his brother and
sister, he would end as a street-loafer. Pelle resolved suddenly to deal
with the matter himself, as his habit was. He obtained an outfit for
Karl from a charitable society, and placed him as apprentice with a
shopkeeper for whom the boy had run errands.

One Sunday afternoon he went over to the "Ark" with a big parcel under
his arm. He was holding Young Lasse by the hand; every moment the child
stooped down, picked up a little stone, dragged his father to the quay-
wall, and threw the stone into the water. He chattered incessantly.

Pelle mechanically allowed himself to be pulled aside, and answered the
child at random. He was thinking of the children's little home, which
had once been so hospitably opened to him, and must now be broken up.
Perhaps it would be the salvation of Karl and Marie; there was a future
for them outside; they were both young and courageous. And Father Lasse
could come to him; it would be quite possible to make up his bed in the
living-room at night and put it out of the way in the daytime. Ellen was
no longer so particular. But Peter--what was to become of him? The home
was the only thing that still held him.

When Young Lasse looked through the tunnel-entry into the darkness of
the "Ark" he did not want to go in. "Ugly, ugly!" he said, in energetic
refusal. Pelle had to take him in his arms. "Lasse not like that!" he
said, pushing with his hands against his father's shoulders. "Lasse
wants to go back! get down!"

"What!" said Pelle, laughing, "doesn't Young Lasse like the 'Ark'?
Father thinks it's jolly here!"

"Why?" asked the boy, pouting.

"Why?" Well, Pelle could not at once explain. "Because I lived here once
on a time!" he replied.

"And where was Young Lasse then?"

"Then you used to sit in mother's eyes and laugh at father."

At this the child forgot his fear of the darkness and the heavy timbers.
He pressed his round little nose against his father's, and gazed into
his eyes, in order to see whether a little boy was sitting in them too.
He laughed when he glimpsed himself in them. "Who sits in mother's eyes
now?" he asked.

"Now a little sister sits there, who likes to play with Young Lasse,"
said Pelle. "But now you must walk again--it doesn't do for a man to sit
on anybody's arm!"

The three orphans were waiting for him eagerly; Karl hopped and leaped
into the air when he saw Pelle.

"Where is Father Lasse?" asked Pelle.

"He has gone out with the hand-cart for the second-hand dealer," said
Marie; "he had to fetch a sofa." She had taken Young Lasse on her lap
and was almost eating him.

Karl put on his fine new clothes, his fresh face beaming with delight.
The trousers were fully long enough, but it was quite fashionable to go
about with turned-up trousers. That was easily got over.

"Now you look like a real grocer!" said Pelle, laughing.

Karl ran out into the gangway and came back immediately with his head
wetted and his hair parted down the middle. "Ach, you fool, why don't
you leave well alone!" cried Marie, ruffling his head. A fight ensued.
Peter sat in a corner, self-absorbed, staring gloomily out of the
window.

"Now, Peter, hold your head up!" cried Pelle, clapping him on the
shoulder. "When we've got the great Federation together and things are
working properly, I'll manage something for you too. Perhaps you can act
as messenger for us."

Peter did not reply, but turned his head away.

"He's always like that--he's so grumpy! Do at least be a little polite,
Peter!" said Marie irritably. The boy took his cap and went out.

"Now he's going out by the North Bridge, to his sweetheart--and we
shan't see anything of him for the next few days," said Marie, looking
after him. "She's a factory girl--she's had a child by one man--he
deserted her," said Marie.

"He has a sweetheart already?" said Pelle.

"What of that? He's seventeen. But there's nothing in her."

"She has red hair! And she drags one leg behind her as though she wanted
to take the pavement with her," said Karl. "She might well be his
mother."

"I don't think you ought to tease him," said Pelle seriously.

"We don't," said Marie. "But he won't have it when we try to be nice to
him. And he can't bear to see us contented. Lasse says it is as though
he were bewitched."

"I have a situation for you too, Marie," said Pelle. "With Ellen's old
employers in Holberg Street--you'll be well treated there. But you must
be ready by October."

"That will be fine! Then Karl and I can go into situations on the same
day!" She clapped her hands. "But Peter!" she cried suddenly. "Who will
look after him? No, I can't do it, Pelle!"

"We must see if we can't find nice lodgings for him. You must take the
situation--you can't go on living here."

Prom the end of the long gangway came a curious noise, which sounded
like a mixture of singing and crying. Young Lasse got down onto his feet
near the open door, and said, "Sh! Singing! Sh!"

"Yes! That's the pasteboard-worker and her great Jutlander," said Marie.
"They've got a funeral to-day. The poor little worm has ceased to
suffer, thank God!"

"Is that any one new?" said Pelle.

"No, they are people who moved here in the spring. He hasn't been living
here, but every Saturday he used to come here and take her wages. 'You
are crazy to give him your wages when he doesn't even live with you!' we
told her. 'He ought to get a thrashing instead of money!' 'But he's the
child's father!' she said, and she went on giving him her money. And on
Sunday, when he had drunk it, he regretted it, and then he used to come
and beat her, because she needn't have given it to him. She was an awful
fool, for she could just have been out when he came. But she was fond of
him and thought nothing of a few blows--only it didn't do for the child.
She never had food for it, and now it's dead."

The door at the end of the gangway opened, and the big Jutlander came
out with a tiny coffin under his arm. He was singing a hymn in an
indistinct voice, as he stood there waiting. In the side passage, behind
the partition-wall, a boy's voice was mocking him. The Jutlander's face
was red and swollen with crying, and the debauch of the night before was
still heavy in his legs. Behind him came the mother, and now they went
down the gangway with funeral steps; the woman's thin black shawl hung
mournfully about her, and she held her handkerchief to her mouth; she
was crying still. Her livid face had a mildewed appearance.

Pelle and Young Lasse had to be off. "You are always in such a hurry!"
said Marie dolefully. "I wanted to make coffee."

"Yes, I've got a lot to do to-day still. Otherwise I'd gladly stay with
you a bit."

"Do you know you are gradually getting quite famous?" said Marie,
looking at him in admiration. "The people talk almost as much about you
as they do about the big tinplate manufacturer. They say you ruined the
biggest employer in the city."

"Yes. I ruined his business," said Pelle, laughing. "But where has the
shopwalker got to?"

"He's gone down into the streets to show himself!"

Karl, sure enough, was strolling about below and allowing the boys and
girls to admire him. "Look, when we come into the shop and the grocer
isn't there you'll stand us treat!" Pelle heard one of them say.

"You don't catch me! And if you dare you'll get one in the jaw!" replied
Karl. "Think I'm going to have you loafing about?"

At the end of the street the great Jutlander was rolling along, the
coffin under his arm; the girl followed at a distance, and they kept to
the middle of the road as though they formed part of a funeral
procession. It was a dismal sight. The gray, dismal street was like a
dungeon.

The shutters were up in all the basement windows, excepting that of the
bread-woman. Before the door of her shop stood a crowd of grimy little
children, smearing themselves with dainties; every moment one of them
slipped down into the cellar to spend an ore. One little girl, dressed
in her Sunday best, with a tightly braided head, was balancing herself
on the edge of the curbstone with a big jug of cream in her hand; and in
a doorway opposite stood a few young fellows meditating some mischief or
other.

"Shall we go anywhere to-day?" asked Ellen, when Pelle and young Lasse
got home. "The fine season is soon over."

"I must go to the committee-meeting," Pelle replied hesitatingly. He was
sorry for her; she was going to have another child, and she looked so
forsaken as she moved about the home. But it was impossible for him to
stay at home.

"When do you think you'll be back?"

"That I don't know, Ellen. It is very possible it will take the whole
day."

Then she was silent and set out his food.



XXIII


That year was, if possible, worse than the preceding. As early as
September the unemployed stood in long ranks beside the canals or in the
market-place, their feet in the wet. The bones of their wrists were blue
and prominent and foretold a hard winter, of which the corns of the old
people had long ago given warning; and sparks of fire were flying up
from under poor folks' kettles. "Now the hard winter is coming and
bringing poverty with it," said the people. "And then we shall have a
pretty time!"

In October the frost appeared and began to put an end to all work that
had not already been stopped by the hard times.

In the city the poor were living from hand to mouth; if a man had a bad
day it was visible on his plate the next morning. Famine lay curled up
beneath the table in ten thousand households; like a bear in its winter
sleep it had lain there all summer, shockingly wasted and groaning in
its evil dreams; but they were used to its society and took no notice of
it so long as it did not lay its heavy paw upon the table. One day's
sickness, one day's loss of work--and there it was!

"Ach, how good it would be if we only had a brine-tub that we could go
to!" said those who could still remember their life in the country. "But
the good God has taken the brine-tub and given us the pawnbroker
instead!" and then they began to pledge their possessions.

It was sad to see how the people kept together; the city was scattered
to the winds in summer, but now it grew compacter; the homeless came in
from the Common, and the great landowners returned to inhabit their
winter palaces. Madam Rasmussen, in her attic, suddenly appeared with a
husband; drunken Valde had returned--the cold, so to speak, had driven
him into her arms! At the first signs of spring he would be off again,
into the arms of his summer mistress, Madam Grassmower. But as long as
he was here, here he was! He stood lounging in the doorway downstairs,
with feathers sticking in the shaggy hair of his neck and bits of bed-
straw adhering to his flat back. His big boots were always beautifully
polished; Madam Rasmussen did that for him before she went to work in
the morning; after which she made two of herself, so that her big strong
handsome protector should have plenty of time to stand and scratch
himself.

Week by week the cold locked up all things more closely; it locked up
the earth, so that the husbandmen could not get at it; and it closed the
modest credit account of the poor. Already it had closed all the harbors
round about. Foreign trade shrunk away to nothing; the stevedores and
waterside workers might as well stop at home. It tightened the heart-
strings--and the strings of the big purse that kept everything going.
The established trades began to work shorter hours, and the less stable
trades entirely ceased. Initiative drew in its horns; people began
nothing new, and did no work for the warehouses; fear had entered into
them. All who had put out their feelers drew them back; they were
frostbitten, so to speak. The earth had withdrawn its sap into itself
and had laid a crust of ice over all; humanity did the same. The poor
withdrew their scanty blood into their hearts, in order to preserve the
germ of life. Their limbs were cold and bloodless, their skin gray. They
withdrew into themselves, and into the darkest corners, packed closely
together. They spent nothing. And many of those who had enough grudged
themselves even food; the cold ate their needs away, and set anxiety in
their place. Consumption was at a standstill.

One could not go by the thermometer, for according to that the frost had
been much harder earlier in the year. "What, is it no worse!" said the
people, taken aback. But they felt just as cold and wretched as ever.
What did the thermometer know of a hard winter? Winter is the companion
of hard times, and takes the same way whether it freezes or thaws--and
on this occasion it froze!

In the poor quarters of the city the streets were as though depopulated.
A fall of snow would entice the dwellers therein out of their hiding-
places; it made the air milder, and made it possible, too, to earn a few
kroner for sweeping away the snow. Then they disappeared again, falling
into a kind of numb trance and supporting their life on incredibly
little--on nothing at all. Only in the mornings were the streets
peopled--when the men went out to seek work. But everywhere where there
was work for one man hundreds applied and begged for it. The dawn saw
the defeated ones slinking home; they slept the time away, or sat all
day with their elbows on the table, never uttering a word. The cold,
that locked up all else, had an opposite effect upon the heart; there
was much compassion abroad. Many whose wits had been benumbed by the
cold, so that they did not attempt to carry on their avocations, had
suffered no damage at heart, but expended their means in beneficence.
Kindly people called the poor together, and took pains to find them out,
for they were not easy to find.

But the Almighty has created beings that live upon the earth and
creatures that live under the earth; creatures of the air and creatures
of the water; even in the fire live creatures that increase and
multiply. And the cold, too, saw the growth of a whole swarm of
creatures that live not by labor, but on it, as parasites. The good
times are their bad times; then they grow thin, and there are not many
of them about. But as soon as cold and destitution appear they come
forth in their swarms; it is they who arouse beneficence--and get the
best part of what is going. They scent the coming of a bad year and
inundate the rich quarters of the city. "How many poor people come to
the door this year!" people say, as they open their purses. "These are
hard times for the poor!"

In the autumn Pelle had removed; he was now dwelling in a little two-
roomed apartment on the Kapelvej. He had many points of contact with
this part of the city now; besides, he wanted Ellen to be near her
parents when she should be brought to bed. Lasse would not accompany
him; he preferred to be faithful to the "Ark"; he had got to know the
inmates now, and he could keep himself quite decently by occasional work
in the neighboring parts of the city.

Pelle fought valiantly to keep the winter at bay. There was nothing to
do at the workshop; and he had to be on the go from morning to night.
Wherever work was to be had, there he applied, squeezing his way through
hundreds of others. His customers needed footwear now more than ever;
but they had no money to pay for it.

Ellen and he drew nearer at this season and learned to know one another
on a new side. The hard times drew them together; and he had cause to
marvel at the stoutness of her heart. She accepted conditions as they
were with extraordinary willingness, and made a little go a very long
way. Only with the stove she could do nothing. "It eats up everything we
scrape together," she said dejectedly; "it sends everything up the
chimney and doesn't give out any warmth. I've put a bushel of coal on it
to-day, and it's as cold as ever! Where I was in service we were able to
warm two big rooms with one scuttle! I must be a fool, but won't you
look into it?" She was almost crying.

"You mustn't take that to heart so!" said Pelle gloomily. "That's the
way with poor folks' stoves. They are old articles that are past use,
and the landlords buy them up as old iron and then fit them in their
workmen's dwellings! And it's like that with everything! We poor people
get the worst and pay the dearest--although we make the things! Poverty
is a sieve."

"Yes, it's dreadful," said Ellen, looking at him with mournful eyes.
"And I can understand you so well now!"

Threatening Need had spread its pinions above them. They hardly dared to
think now; they accepted all things at its hands.

One day, soon after Ellen had been brought to bed, she asked Pelle to go
at once to see Father Lasse. "And mind you bring him with you!" she
said. "We can very well have him here, if we squeeze together a little.
I'm afraid he may be in want."

Pelle was pleased by the offer, and immediately set out. It was good of
Ellen to open her heart to the old man when they were by no means
certain of being able to feed themselves.

The "Ark" had a devastated appearance. All the curtains had disappeared
--except at Olsen's; with the gilt mouldings they always fetched fifty
ore. The flowers in the windows were frostbitten. One could see right
into the rooms, and inside also all was empty. There was something
shameless about the winter here; instead of clothing the "Ark" more
warmly it stripped it bare--and first of all of its protecting veils.
The privies in the court had lost their doors and covers, and it was all
Pelle could do to climb up to the attics! Most of the balustrades had
vanished, and every second step was lacking; the "Ark" was helping
itself as well as it could! Over at Madam Johnsen's the bucket of oak
was gone that had always stood in the corner of the gallery when it was
not lent to some one--the "Ark" possessed only the one. And now it was
burned or sold. Pelle looked across, but had not the courage to call.
Hanne, he knew, was out of work.

A woman came slinking out of the third story, and proceeded to break
away a fragment of woodwork; she nodded to Pelle. "For a drop of
coffee!" she said, "and God bless coffee! You can make it as weak as you
like as long as it's still nice and hot."

The room was empty; Lasse was not there. Pelle asked news of him along
the gangway. He learned that he was living in the cellar with the old
clothes woman. Thin gray faces appeared for a moment in the doorways,
gazed at him, and silently disappeared.

The cellar of the old clothes woman was overcrowded with all sorts of
objects; hither, that winter, the possessions of the poor had drifted.
Lasse was sitting in a corner, patching a mattress; he was alone down
there. "She has gone out to see about something," he said; "in these
times her money finds plenty of use! No, I'm not going to come with you
and eat your bread. I get food and drink here--I earn it by helping her
--and how many others can say this winter that they've their living
assured? And I've got a corner where I can lie. But can't you tell me
what's become of Peter? He left the room before me one day, and since
then I've never seen him again."

"Perhaps he's living with his sweetheart," said Pelle. "I'll see if I
can't find out."

"Yes, if you will. They were good children, those three, it would be a
pity if one of them were to come to any harm."

Pelle would not take his father away from a regular situation where he
was earning a steady living. "We don't very well see what we could offer
you in its place. But don't forget that you will always be welcome--
Ellen herself sent me here."

"Yes, yes! Give her many thanks for that! And now you be off, before the
old woman comes back," said Lasse anxiously. "She doesn't like any one
to be here--she's afraid for her money."

The first thing that had to go was Pelle's winter overcoat. He pawned it
one day, without letting Ellen know, and on coming home surprised her
with the money, which he delightedly threw on the table, krone by krone.
"How it rings!" he said to Young Lasse. The child gave a jump, and
wanted the money to play with.

"What do I want with a winter coat?" he retorted, to Ellen's kindly
reproaches. "I'm not cold, and it only hangs up indoors here. I've borne
with it all the summer. Ah, that's warm!" he cried, to the child, when
Ellen had brought some fuel. "That was really a good winter coat, that
of father's! Mother and sister and Young Lasse can all warm themselves
at it!"

The child put his hands on his knees and peeped into the fire after his
father's winter coat. The fire kindled flames in his big child's eyes,
and played on his red cheeks. "Pretty overcoat!" he said, laughing all
over his face.

They did not see much of the tenants of the house; nor of the family.
People were living quietly, each one fighting his own privations within
his four walls. On Sundays they gave the children to one of the
neighbors, went into the city, and stood for an hour outside some
concert-hall, freezing and listening to the music. Then they went home
again and sat vegetating in the firelight, without lighting the lamp.

One Sunday things looked bad. "The coals will hold out only till
midday," said Ellen; "we shall have to go out. And there's no more food
either. But perhaps we can go to the old folks; they'll put up with us
till evening."

As they were about to start, Ellen's brother Otto arrived, with his wife
and two children, to call on them. Ellen exchanged a despairing glance
with Pelle. Winter had left its stamp on them too; their faces were thin
and serious. But they still had warm clothes. "You must keep your cloaks
on," said Ellen, "for I have no more coal. I forgot it yesterday, I had
so much to do; I had to put off ordering it until to-day, and to-day,
unfortunately, the coal dealer isn't at home."

"If only the children aren't cold," said Pelle, "we grown-ups can easily
keep ourselves warm."

"Well, as long as they haven't icicles hanging from their noses they
won't come to any harm!" said Otto with a return of his old humor.

They moved restlessly about the room and spoke of the bad times and the
increasing need. "Yes, it's terrible that there isn't enough for
everybody," said Otto's wife.

"But the hard winter and the misery will come to an end and then things
will be better again."

"You mean we shall come to an end first?" said Otto, laughing
despairingly.

"No, not we--this poverty, of course. Ach, you know well enough what I
mean. But he's always like that," she said, turning to Pelle.

"Curious, how you women still go about in the pious belief that there's
not enough for all!" said Pelle. "Yet the harbor is full of stacks of
coal, and there's no lack of eatables in the shops. On the contrary--
there is more than usual, because so many are having to do without--and
you can see, too, that everything in the city is cheaper. But what good
is that when there's no money? It's the distribution that's all wrong."

"Yes, you are quite right!" said Otto Stolpe. "It's really damnable that
no one has the courage to help himself!"

Pelle heard Ellen go out through the kitchen door, and presently she
came back with firing in her apron. She had borrowed it. "I've scraped
together just a last little bit of coal," she said, going down on her
knees before the stove. "In any case it's enough to heat the water for a
cup of coffee."

Otto and his wife begged her urgently not to give herself any trouble;
they had had some coffee before they left home--after a good solid
breakfast. "On Sundays we always have a solid breakfast," said young
Madam Stolpe; "it does one such a lot of good!" While she was speaking
her eyes involuntarily followed Ellen's every moment, as though she
could tell thereby how soon the coffee would be ready.

Ellen chatted as she lit the fire. But of course they must have a cup of
coffee; they weren't to go away with dry throats!

Pelle sat by listening in melancholy surprise; her innocent boasting
only made their poverty more glaring. He could see that Ellen was
desperately perplexed, and he followed her into the kitchen.

"Pelle, Pelle!" she said, in desperation. "They've counted on stopping
here and eating until the evening. And I haven't a scrap in the house.
What's to be done?"

"Tell them how it is, of course!"

"I can't! And they've had nothing to eat to-day--can't you see by
looking at them?" She burst into tears.

"Now, now, let me see to the whole thing!" he said consolingly. "But
what are you going to give us with our coffee?"

"I don't know! I have nothing but black bread and a little butter."

"Lord, what a little donkey!" he said, smiling, and he took her face
between his hands. "And you stand there lamenting! Just you be cutting
the bread-and-butter!"

Ellen set to work hesitatingly. But before she appeared with the
refreshments they heard her bang the front door and go running down the
steps. After a time she returned. "Oh, Lord! Now the baker has sold out
of white bread," she said, "so you must just have black bread-and-butter
with your coffee."

"But that's capital," they cried. "Black bread always goes best with
coffee. Only it's a shame we are giving you so much trouble!"

"Look here," said Pelle, at last. "It may please you to play hide-and-
seek with one another, but it doesn't me--I am going to speak my mind.
With us things are bad, and it can't be any better with you. Now how is
it, really, with the old folks?"

"They are struggling along," said Otto. "They always have credit, and I
think they have a little put by as well."

"Then shan't we go there to-night and have supper? Otherwise I'm afraid
we shan't get anything."

"Yes, we will! It's true we were there the day before yesterday--but
what does that matter? We must go somewhere, and at least it's sticking
to the family!"

       *        *        *        *        *

The cold had no effect on Pelle; the blood ran swiftly through his
veins. He was always warm. Privation he accepted as an admonition, and
merely felt the stronger for it; and he made use of his involuntary
holiday to work for the Cause.

It was no time for public meetings and sounding words--many had not even
clothes with which to go to meetings. The movement had lost its impetus
through the cold; people had their work cut out to keep the little they
already had. Pelle made it his business to encourage the hopes of the
rejected, and was always on the run; he came into contact with many
people. Misery stripped them bare and developed his knowledge of
humanity.

Wherever a trade was at a standstill, and want had made its appearance,
he and others were at hand to prevent demoralization and to make the
prevailing conditions the subject of agitation. He saw how want
propagates itself like the plague, and gradually conquers all--a callous
accomplice in the fate of the poor man. In a week to a fortnight
unemployment would take all comfort from a home that represented the
scraping and saving of many years--so crying was the disproportion. Here
was enough to stamp a lasting comprehension upon the minds of all, and
enough to challenge agitation. All but persons of feeble mind could see
now what they were aiming at.

And there were people here like those at home. Want made them even more
submissive. They could hardly believe that they were so favored as to be
permitted to walk the earth and go hungry. With them there was nothing
to be done. They were born slaves, born with slavery deep in their
hearts, pitiful and cur-like.

They were people of a certain age--of an older generation than his. The
younger folk were of another and a harder stuff; and he often was amazed
to find how vigorously their minds echoed his ideas. They were ready to
dare, ready to meet force with force. These must be held back lest they
should prejudice the movement--for them its progress was never
sufficiently rapid.

His mind was young and intact and worked well in the cold weather; he
restlessly drew comparisons and formed conclusions in respect of
everything he came into contact with. The individual did not seem to
change. The agitation was especially directed to awakening what was
actually existent. For the rest, they must live their day and be
replaced by a younger generation in whom demands for compensation came
more readily to the tongue. So far as he could survey the evolution of
the movement, it did not proceed through the generations, but in some
amazing fashion grew out of the empty space between them. So youth, even
at the beginning, was further ahead than age had been where it left off.

The movements of the mind had an obscure and mystical effect upon him,
as had the movement of his blood in childhood; sometimes he felt a
mysterious shudder run through him, and he began to understand what
Morten had meant when he said that humanity was sacred. It was terrible
that human beings should suffer such need, and Pelle's resentment grew
deeper.

Through his contact with so many individuals he learned that Morten was
not so exceptional; the minds of many betrayed the same impatience, and
could not understand that a man who is hungry should control himself and
be content with the fact of organization. There was a revolutionary
feeling abroad; a sterner note was audible, and respectable people gave
the unemployed a wide berth, while old people prophesied the end of the
world. The poor had acquired a manner of thinking such as had never been
known.

One day Pelle stood in a doorway with some other young people,
discussing the aspect of affairs; it was a cold meeting-place, but they
had not sufficient means to call a meeting in the usual public room. The
discussion was conducted in a very subdued tune; their voices were
bitter and sullen. A well-dressed citizen went by. "There's a fine
overcoat," cried one; "I should like to have one like that! Shall we
fetch him into the doorway and pull his coat off?" He spoke loudly, and
was about to run out into the street.

"No stupidity!" said Pelle sadly, seizing him by the arm. "We should
only do ourselves harm! Remember the authorities are keeping their eyes
on us!"

"Well, what's a few weeks in prison?" the man replied. "At least one
would get board and lodging for so long." There was a look that
threatened mischief in his usually quiet and intelligent eyes.



XXIV


There were rumors that the city authorities intended to intervene in
order to remedy the condition of the unemployed, and shortly before
Christmas large numbers of navvies were given employment. Part of the
old ramparts was cleared away, and the space converted into parks and
boulevards. Pelle applied among a thousand others and had the good
fortune to be accepted. The contractor gave the preference to youthful
energy.

Every morning the workers appeared in a solid phalanx; the foreman of
the works chose those he had need of, and the rest were free to depart.
At home sat their wives and children, cheered by the possibility of
work; the men felt no inclination to go home with bad news, so they
loafed about in the vicinity.

They came there long before daybreak in order to be the first, although
there was not much hope. There was at least an excuse to leave one's
bed; idleness was burning like hell fire in their loins. When the
foreman came they thronged silently about him, with importunate eyes.
One woman brought her husband; he walked modestly behind her, kept his
eyes fixed upon her, and did precisely as she did. He was a great
powerful fellow, but he did nothing of his own accord--did not even blow
his nose unless she nudged him. "Come here, Thorvald!" she said, cuffing
him so hard as to hurt him. "Keep close behind me!" She spoke in a harsh
voice, into the empty air, as though to explain her behavior to the
others; but no one looked at her. "He can't speak for himself properly,
you see," she remarked at random. Her peevish voice made Pelle start;
she was from Bornholm. Ah, those smart young girls at home, they were a
man's salvation! "And the children have got to live too!" she continued.
"We have eight. Yes, eight."

"Then he's some use for something," said a workman who looked to be
perishing with the cold.

The woman worked her way through them, and actually succeeded in getting
her man accepted. "And now you do whatever they tell you, nicely, and
don't let them tempt you to play the fool in any way!" she said, and she
gave him a cuff which set him off working in his place. She raised her
head defiantly as contemptuous laughter sounded about her.

The place was like a slave-market. The foreman, went to and fro, seeking
out the strongest, eyeing them from head to foot and choosing them for
their muscular development and breadth of back. The contractor too was
moving about and giving orders. "One of them rich snobs!" said the
laborers, grumbling; "all the laborers in town have to march out here so
that he can pick himself the best. And he's beaten down the day's wages
to fifty öre. He's been a navvy himself, too; but now he's a man who
enjoys his hundred thousand a year. A regular bloodsucker, he is!"

The crowd continued to stand there and to loaf about all the day, in the
hope that some one would give up, or fall ill--or go crazy--so that
some one could take his place. They could not tear themselves away; the
mere fact that work was being done chained them to the spot. They looked
as though they might storm the works at any moment, and the police
formed a ring about the place. They stood pressing forward, absorbed by
their desire for work, with a sick longing in their faces. When the
crowd had pressed forward too far it hesitatingly allowed itself to be
pushed back again. Suddenly there was a break in the ranks; a man leaped
over the rail and seized a pickaxe. A couple of policemen wrested the
tool from his hand and led him away.

And as they stood there a feeling of defiance rose within them, a fierce
contempt for their privations and the whole shameless situation. It
expressed itself in an angry half-suppressed growl. They followed the
contractor with curious eyes as though they were looking for something
in him but could not conceive what it was.

In his arrogance at receiving such an excessive offer of labor, he
decided to go further, and to lengthen the working day by an hour. The
workers received an order to that effect one morning, just as they had
commenced work. But at the same moment the four hundred men, all but
two, threw down their implements and returned to their comrades. They
stood there discussing the matter, purple with rage. So now their
starving condition was to be made use of, in order to enrich the
contractor by a further hundred thousand! "We must go to the city
authorities," they cried. "No, to the newspaper!" others replied. "The
paper! The paper is better!"

"It's no use going to the city council--not until we have elected
members of our own party to it," cried Pelle. "Remember that at the
elections, comrades! We must elect men of our party everywhere, their
encroachments will never be stopped until then. And now we must stand
together and be firm! If it's got to be, better starve to death at once
than do it slowly!"

They did not reply, but pressed closely about him, heavily listening.
There was something altogether too fierce and profound in their
attention. These men had declared a strike in midwinter, as their only
remedy. What were they thinking of doing now? Pelle looked about him and
was daunted by their dumb rage. This threatening silence wouldn't do;
what would it lead to? It seemed as though something overwhelming, and
uncontrollable, would spring from this stony taciturnity. Pelle sprang
upon a heap of road-metal.

"Comrades!" he cried, in a powerful voice. "This is merely a change, as
the fox said when they flayed his skin off. They have deprived us of
clothes and food and drink, and comfort at home, and now they want to
find a way of depriving us of our skins too! The question to-day is--
forward or back? Perhaps this is the great time of trial, when we shall
enter into possession of all we have desired! Hold together, comrades!
Don't scatter and don't give way! Things are difficult enough now, but
remember, we are well on in the winter, and it promises to break up
early. The night is always darkest before daybreak! And shall we be
afraid to suffer a little--we, who have suffered and been patient for
hundreds of years? Our wives are sitting at home and fretting--perhaps
they will be angry with us. We might at least have accepted what was
offered us, they may say. But we can't go on seeing our dear ones at
home fading away in spite of our utmost exertions! Hitherto the poor
man's labor has been like an aimless prayer to Heaven: Deliver us from
hunger and dirt, from misery, poverty, and cold, and give us bread, and
again bread! Deliver our children from our lot--let not their limbs
wither and their minds lapse into madness! That has been our prayer, but
there is only one prayer that avails, and that is, to defy the wicked!
We are the chosen people, and for that reason we must cry a halt! We
will no longer do as we have done--for our wives' sakes, and our
children's, and theirs again! Ay, but what is posterity to us? Of course
it is something to us--precisely to us! Were your parents as you are?
No, they were ground down into poverty and the dust, they crept
submissively before the mighty. Then whence did we get all that makes us
so strong and causes us to stand together? Time has stood still,
comrades! It has placed its finger on our breast and he said, 'Thus you
shall do!' Here where we stand, the old time ceases and the new time
begins; and that is why we have thrown down our tools, with want staring
us in the face--such a thing as has never been seen before! We want to
revolutionize life--to make it sweet for the poor man! And for all time!
You, who have so often staked your life and welfare for a florin--you
now hold the whole future in your hands! You must endure, calmly and
prudently! And you will never be forgotten, so long as there are workers
on the earth! This winter will be the last through which we shall have
to endure--for yonder lies the land toward which we have been wandering!
Comrades! Through us the day shall come!"

Pelle himself did not know what words he uttered. He felt only that
something was speaking through him--something supremely mighty, that
never lies. There was a radiant, prophetic ring in his voice, which
carried his hearers off their feet; and his eyes were blazing. Before
their eyes a figure arose from the hopeless winter, towering in
radiance, a figure that was their own, and yet that of a young god. He
rose, new-born, out of misery itself, struck aside the old grievous idea
of fate, and in its place gave them a new faith--the radiant faith in
their own might! They cried up to him--first single voices, then all. He
gathered up their cries into a mighty cheer, a paean in honor of the new
age!

Every day they stationed themselves there, not to work, but to stand
there in dumb protest. When the foreman called for workers they stood
about in silent groups, threatening as a gloomy rock. Now and again they
shouted a curse at those who had left them in the lurch. The city did
nothing. They had held out a helping hand to the needy, and the latter
had struck it away--now they must accept the consequences. The
contractor had received permission to suspend the work entirely, but he
kept it going with a few dozen strike-breakers, in order to irritate the
workers.

All over the great terrace a silence as of death prevailed, except in
that corner where the little gang was at work, a policeman beside it, as
though the men had been convicts. The wheelbarrows lay with their legs
in the air; it was as though the pest had swept over the works.

The strike-breakers were men of all callings; a few of the unemployed
wrote down their names and addresses, in order to insert them in _The
Working Man_. One of Stolpe's fellow-unionists was among them; he was
a capable pater-familias, and had taken part in the movement from its
earliest days. "It's a pity about him," said Stolpe; "he's an old mate
of mine, and he's always been a good comrade till now. Now they'll give
it him hard in the paper--we are compelled to. It does the trade no good
when one of its representatives goes and turns traitor."

Madame Stolpe was unhappy. "It's such a nice family," she said; "we have
always been on friendly terms with them; and I know they were hungry a
long time. He has a young wife, father; it's not easy to stand out."

"It hurts me myself," replied Stolpe. "But one is compelled to do it,
otherwise one would be guilty of partisanship. And no one shall come to
me and say that I'm a respecter of persons."

"I should like to go and have a talk with them," said Pelle. "Perhaps
they'd give it up then."

He got the address and went there after working hours. The home had been
stripped bare. There were four little children. The atmosphere was
oppressive. The man, who was already well on in years, but was still
powerful, sat at the table with a careworn expression eating his supper,
while the children stood round with their chins on the edge of the
table, attentively following every bite he took. The young wife was
going to and fro; she brought him his simple food with a peculiarly
loving gesture.

Pelle broached the question at issue. It was not pleasant to attack this
old veteran. But it must be done.

"I know that well enough," said the man, nodding to himself. "You
needn't begin your lecture--I myself have been in the movement since the
first days, and until now I've kept my oath. But now it's done with, for
me. What do you want here, lad? Have you a wife and children crying for
bread? Then think of your own!"

"We don't cry, Hans," said the woman quietly.

"No, you don't, and that makes it even worse! Can I sit here and look
on, while you get thinner day by day, and perish with the cold? To hell
with the comrades and their big words--what have they led to? Formerly
we used to go hungry just for a little while, and now we starve
outright--that's the difference! Leave me alone, I tell you! Curse it,
why don't they leave me in peace?"

He took a mouthful of brandy from the bottle. His wife pushed a glass
toward him, but he pushed it violently away.

"You'll be put in the paper to-morrow," said Pelle, hesitating. "I only
wanted to tell you that."

"Yes, and to write of me that I'm a swine and a bad comrade, and perhaps
that I beat my wife as well. You know yourself it's all lies; but what
is that to me? Will you have a drink?"

No, Pelle wouldn't take anything. "Then I will myself," said the man,
and he laughed angrily. "Now you can certify that I'm a hog--I drink out
of the bottle! And another evening you can come and listen at the
keyhole--perhaps then you'll hear me beating my wife!"

The woman began to cry.

"Oh, damn it all, they might leave me in peace!" said the man defiantly.

Pelle had to go with nothing effected.



XXV


The "Ark" was now freezing in the north wind; all outward signs of life
were stripped from it. The sounds that in summer bubbled up from its
deep well-like shaft were silent now; the indistinguishable dripping of
a hundred waste-pipes, that turned the court into a little well with
green slimy walls, was silent too. The frost had fitted them all with
stoppers; and where the toads had sat gorging themselves in the cavities
of the walls--fantastic caverns of green moss and slimy filaments--a
crust of ice hung over all; a grimy glacier, which extended from the
attics right down to the floor of the court.

Where were they now, the grimy, joyful children? And what of the evening
carouse of the hearse-driver, for which his wife would soundly thrash
him? And the quarrelsome women's voices, which would suddenly break out
over this or that railing, criticizing the whole court, sharp as so many
razors?

The frost was harder than ever! It had swept all these things away and
had locked them up as closely as might be. The hurdy-gurdy man lay down
below in his cellar, and had as visitor that good friend of the north
wind, the gout; and down in the deserted court the draught went
shuffling along the dripping walls. Whenever any one entered the tunnel-
entry the draught clutched at his knees with icy fingers, so that the
pain penetrated to the very heart.

There stood the old barrack, staring emptily out of its black windows.
The cold had stripped away the last shred of figured curtain, and sent
it packing to the pawn-shop. It had exchanged the canary for a score of
firewood, and had put a stop to the day-long, lonely crying of the
little children behind the locked doors--that hymn of labor, which had
ceased only in the evening, when the mothers returned from the
factories. Now the mothers sat with their children all day long, and no
one but the cold grudged them this delight. But the cold and its sister,
hunger, came every day to look in upon them.

On the third floor, away from the court, Widow Johnsen sat in the corner
by the stove. Hanne's little girl lay cowering on the floor, on a
tattered patchwork counterpane. Through the naked window one saw only
ice, as though the atmosphere were frozen down to the ground.
Transparent spots had formed on the window-panes every time the child
had breathed on them in order to look out, but they had soon closed up
again. The old woman sat staring straight into the stove with big, round
eyes; her little head quivered continually; she was like a bird of ill
omen, that knew a great deal more than any one could bear to hear.

"Now I'm cold again, grandmother," said the child quietly.

"Don't keep from shivering, then you'll be warm," said the old woman.

"Are you shivering?"

"No, I'm too old and stiff for it--I can't shiver any more. But the cold
numbs my limbs, so that I can't feel them. I could manage well enough if
it wasn't for my back."

"You lean your back against the cold stove too!"

"Yes, the cold grips my poor back so."

"But that's stupid, when the stove isn't going."

"But if only my back would get numb too!" said the old woman piteously.

The child was silent, and turned her head away.

Over the whole of the wall were tiny glittering crystals. Now and again
there was a rustling sound under the wall-paper.

"Grandmother, what's that funny noise?" asked the child.

"That's the bugs--they are coming down," said the old woman. "It's too
cold for them up there in the attics, and they don't like it here. You
should see them; they go to Olsen's with the warm wall; they stay there
in the cold."

"Is the wall at Olsen's always warm, then?"

"Yes, when there's fire in the boiler of the steam mill."

Then the child was silent a while, wearily turning her head from side to
side. A dreadful weariness was stamped on her face. "I'm cold," she
complained after a time.

"See if you can't shiver!"

"Hadn't I better jump a bit?"

"No, then you'd just swallow down the cold--the air is like ice. Just
keep still, and soon mother will be here, and she'll bring something!"

"She never gets anything," said the child. "When she gets there it's
always all over."

"That's not true," said Madam Johnsen severely. "There's food enough in
the soup kitchens for all; it's just a matter of understanding how to go
about it. The poor must get shame out of their heads. She'll bring
something to-day!"

The child stood up and breathed a hole in the ice on the window-pane.

"Look now, whether it isn't going to snow a little so that the poor man
can get yet another day's employment," said the old woman.

No, the wind was still blowing from the north, although it commonly
shuffled along the canal; but now, week after week, it blew from the
Nicolai tower, and played the flute on the hollow bones of poverty. The
canals were covered with ice, and the ground looked horribly hard. The
naked frost chased the people across it like withered leaves. With a
thin rustling sound they were swept across the bridges and disappeared.

A great yellow van came driving by. The huge gates of the prison opened
slowly and swallowed it. It was the van containing the meat for the
prisoners. The child followed it with a desolate expression.

"Mother isn't coming," she said. "I am so hungry."

"She will soon come--you just wait! And don't stand in the light there;
come here in the corner! The light strikes the cold right through one."

"But I feel colder in the dark."

"That's just because you don't understand. I only long now for the pitch
darkness."

"I long for the sun!" retorted the child defiantly.

There was a creaking of timber out in the yard. The child ran out and
opened the door leading to the gallery. It was only the people opposite,
who were tearing a step away.

But then came mother, with a tin pail in her hand, and a bundle under
her arm; and there was something in the pail--it looked heavy. Tra-la-
la! And the bundle, the bundle! What was in that? "Mother, mother!" she
cried shrilly, leaning far over the rickety rail.

Hanne came swiftly up the stairs, with open mouth and red cheeks; and a
face peeped out of every little nest.

"Now Widow Hanne has taken the plunge," they said. They knew what a
point of honor it had been with her to look after her mother and her
child unaided. She was a good girl.

And Widow Hanne nodded to them all, as much as to say, "Now it's done,
thank God!"

She stood leaning over the table, and lifted the cover off the pail.
"Look!" she said, as she stirred the soup with a ladle: "there's pearl
barley and pot-herbs. If only we had something we could warm it up
with!"

"We can tear away a bit of the woodwork like other people," said the
mother.

"Yes," replied Hanne breathlessly, "yes, why not? If one can beg one can
do that!"

She ran out onto the gallery and tore away a few bits of trellis, so
that the sound re-echoed through the court. People watched her out of
all the dark windows. Widow Hanne had knocked off the head of her pride!

Then they sat down to their soup, the old woman and the child. "Eat!"
said Hanne, standing over them and looking on with glowing eyes. Her
cheeks were burning. "You look like a flower in the cold!" said her
mother. "But eat, yourself, or you'll starve to death."

No, Hanne would not eat. "I feel so light," she said, "I don't need any
food." She stood there fingering her bundle; all her features were
quivering, and her mouth was like that of a person sick of a fever.

"What have you there?" asked Madam Johnsen.

"Clothes for you and little Marie. You were so cold. I got them
downstairs from the old clothes woman--they were so cheap."

"Do you say you bought them?"

"Yes--I got them on credit."

"Well, well, if you haven't given too much for them! But it will do one
good to have something warm on one's back!"

Hanne undid the bundle, while the others looked on in suspense. A light
summer dress made its appearance, pleated and low-necked, blue as little
Marie's eyes, and a pair of thin kid shoes. The child and the old woman
gazed wonderingly at the dress. "How fine!" they said. They had
forgotten everything, and were all admiration. But Hanne stood staring
with horror, and suddenly burst into sobs.

"Come, come, Hanne!" said her mother, clapping her on the back. "You
have bought a dress for yourself--that's not so dreadful! Youth will
have its rights."

"No, mother, no, I didn't buy it at all! I knew you both needed
something to keep you warm, so I went into a fine house and asked if
they hadn't any cast-off things, and there was a young lady--she gave me
this--and she was so kind. No, I didn't know at all what was in the
bundle--I really didn't know, dear mother!"

"Well, well, they are fine enough!" said the old woman, spreading the
dress out in front of her. "They are fine things!" But Hanne put the
things together and threw them into the corner by the stove.

"You are ill!" said her mother, gazing at her searchingly; "your eyes
are blazing like fire."

The darkness descended, and they went to bed. People burned no useless
lights in those days, and it was certainly best to be in bed. They had
laid the feather-bed over themselves cross-wise, when it comfortably
covered all three; their daytime clothes they laid over their feet.
Little Marie lay in the middle. No harm could come to her there. They
talked at random about indifferent matters. Hanne's voice sounded loud
and cheerful in the darkness as though it came from a radiant
countryside.

"You are so restless," said the mother. "Won't you try to sleep a
little? I can feel the burning in you from here!"

"I feel so light," replied Hanne; "I can't lie still." But she did lie
still, gazing into space and humming inaudibly to herself, while the
fever raged in her veins.

After a time the old woman awoke; she was cold. Hanne was standing in
the middle of the room, with open mouth; and was engaged in putting on
her fine linen underclothing by the light of a candle-end.

Her breath came in short gasps and hung white on the air.

"Are you standing there naked in the cold?" said Madam Johnsen
reproachfully. "You ought to take a little care of yourself."

"Why, mother, I'm so warm! Why, it's summer now!"

"What are you doing, child?"

"I am only making myself a little bit smart, mother dear!"

"Yes, yes--dance, my baby. You've still got the best of your youth
before you, poor child! Why didn't you get a husband where you got the
child from?"

Hanne only hummed a tune to herself, and proceeded to don the bright
blue summer costume. It was a little full across the chest, but the
decolletage sat snugly over her uncovered bosom. A faint cloud of vapor
surrounded her person like a summer haze.

Her mother had to hook up the dress at the back. "If only we don't wake
Marie!" she whispered, entirely absorbed by the dress. "And the fine
lace on the chemise--you can always let that peep out of the dress a
little--it looks so pretty like that. Now you really look like a summer
girl!"

"I'll just run down and show it to Madam Olsen," said Hanne, pressing
her hand to her glowing cheeks.

"Yes, do--poor folks' joys must have their due," replied the old woman,
turning over to the wall.

Hanne ran down the steps and across the yard and out into the street.
The ground was hard and ringing in the frost, the cold was angry and
biting, but the road seemed to burn Hanne through her thin shoes. She
ran through the market, across the bridge, and into the less crowded
quarter of the city-right into Pelle's arms. He was just going to see
Father Lasse.

Pelle was wearied and stupefied with the continual battle with hard
reality. The bottomless depths of misery were beginning to waste his
courage. Was it really of any use to hold the many together? It only
made the torture yet harder for them to bear. But in a moment everything
looked as bright as though he had fallen into a state of ecstasy, as had
often happened lately. In the midst of the sternest realities it would
suddenly happen that his soul would leap within him and conjure up the
new age of happiness before his eyes, and the terrible dearth filled his
arms to overflowing with abundance! He did not feel the cold; the great
dearth had no existence; violent spiritual excitement and insufficient
nourishment made the blood sing continually in his ears. He accepted it
as a happy music from a contented world. It did not surprise him that he
should meet Hanne in summer clothing and attired as for a ball.

"Pelle, my protector!" she said, grasping his hand. "Will you go to the
dance with me?"

"That's really the old Hanne," thought Pelle delightedly--"the careless
Princess of the 'Ark,' and she is feverish, just as she used to be
then." He himself was in a fever. When their eyes met they emitted a
curious, cold, sparkling light. He had quite forgotten Father Lasse and
his errand, and went with Hanne.

The entrance of "The Seventh Heaven" was flooded with light, which
exposed the merciless cold of the street. Outside, in the sea of light,
thronged the children of the terrible winter, dishevelled and perishing
with the cold. They stood there shuddering, or felt in their pockets for
a five-öre piece, and if they found it they slipped through the blood-
red tunnel into the dancing-hall.

But it was cold in there too; their breath hung like white powder on the
air; and crystals of ice glittered on the polished floor. Who would
dream of heating a room where the joy of life was burning? and a
thousand candles? Here carelessness was wont to give of its abundance,
so that the lofty room lay in a cloud and the musicians were bathed in
sweat.

But now the cold had put an end to that. Unemployed workers lounged
about the tables, disinclined for movement. Winter had not left the poor
fellows an ounce of frivolity. Cerberus Olsen might spare himself the
trouble of going round with his giant arms outspread, driving the two or
three couples of dancers with their five-öre pieces indoors toward the
music, as though they had been a whole crowd. People only toiled across
the floor in order to have the right to remain there. Good Lord! Some of
them had rings and watches, and Cerberus had ready cash--what sort of
dearth was that? The men sat under the painted ceiling and the gilded
mirrors, over a glass of beer, leaving the girls to freeze--even Elvira
had to sit still. "Mazurka!" bellowed Cerberus, going threateningly from
table to table. They slunk into the hall like beaten curs, dejectedly
danced once round the floor, and paid.

But what is this? Is it not Summer herself stepping into the hall? All
glowing and lightly clad in the blue of forget-me-nots, with a rose in
her fair hair? Warmth lies like fleeting summer upon her bare shoulders,
although she has come straight out of the terrible winter, and she steps
with boldly moving limbs, like a daughter of joy. How proudly she
carries her bosom, as though she were the bride of fortune--and how she
burns! Who is she? Can no one say?

Oh, that is Widow Hanne, a respectable girl, who for seven long years
faithfully trod her way to and from the factory, in order to keep her
old mother and her child!

But how comes it then that she has the discreet Pelle on her arm? He who
has sold his own youth to the devil, in order to alleviate poverty? What
does he want here on the dancing-floor? And Hanne, whence did she get
her finery? She is still out of employment! And how in all the world has
she grown so beautiful?

They whisper behind her, following her as she advances; and in the midst
of the hall she stands still and smiles. Her eyes burn with a volcanic
fire. A young man rushes forward and encircles her with his arm. A dance
with Hanne! A dance with Hanne!

Hanne dances with a peculiar hesitation, as though her joy had brought
her from far away. Heavily, softly, she weighs on the arms of her
partners, and the warmth rises from her bare bosom and dispels the cold
of the terrible winter. It is as though she were on fire! Who could fail
to be warmed by her?

Now the room is warm once more. Hanne is like a blazing meteor that
kindles all as it circles round; where she glides past the fire springs
up and the blood runs warmly in the veins. They overturn the chairs in
their eagerness to dance with her. "Hi, steward! Five kroner on my
watch--only be quick!" "Ach, Hanne, a dance with me!"--"Do you remember
we were at the factory together?"--"We used to go to school together!"

Hanne does not reply, but she leaves Pelle and lays her naked arm upon
their shoulders, and if they touch it with their cheeks the fire streams
through them. They do not want to let her go again; they hold her fast
embraced, gliding along with her to where the musicians are sitting,
where all have to pay. No word passes her lips, but the fire within her
is a promise to each of them, a promise of things most precious. "May I
see you home to-night?" they whisper, hanging on her silent lips.

But to Pelle she speaks as they glide along. "Pelle, how strong you are!
Why have you never taken me? Do you love me?" Her hand is clasping his
shoulder as she whirls along beside him. Her breath burns in his ear.

"I don't know!" he says uneasily. "But stop now--you are ill."

"Hold me like that! Why have you never been stronger than I? Do you want
me, Pelle? I'll be yours!"

Pelle shakes his head. "No, I love you only like a sister now."

"And now I love you! Look--you are so distant to me--I don't understand
you--and your hand is as hard as if you came from another world! You are
heavy, Pelle! Have you brought me happiness from a foreign land with
you?"

"Hanne, you are ill! Stop now and let me take you home!"

"Pelle, you were not the right one. What is there strange about you?
Nothing! So let me alone--I am going to dance with the others as well!"

Hitherto Hanne has been dancing without intermission. The men stand
waiting for her; when one releases her ten spring forward, and this
evening Hanne wants to dance with them all. Every one of them should be
permitted to warm himself by her! Her eyes are like sparks in the
darkness; her silent demeanor excites them; they swing her round more
and more wildly. Those who cannot dance with her must slake the fire
within them with drink. The terrible winter is put to flight, and it is
warm as in Hell itself. The blood is seething in their brains; it
injects the whites of their eyes, and expresses itself in wanton frolic,
in a need to dance till they drop, or to fight.

"Hanne is wild to-night--she has got her second youth," says Elvira and
the other girls maliciously.

Hold your tongues. No one shall criticize Hanne's behavior! It is
wonderful to touch her; the touch of her skin hurts one, as though she
was not flesh and blood, but fire from Heaven! They say she has not had
a bite of food for a week. The old woman and the child have had all
there was. And yet she is burning! And see, she has now been dancing
without a break for two whole hours! Can one understand such a thing?
Hanne dances like a messenger from another world, where fire, not cold,
is the condition of life. Every dancer leaves his partner in the lurch
as soon as she is free! How lightly she dances! Dancing with her, one
soars upward, far away from the cold. One forgets all misery in her
eyes.

But she has grown paler and paler; she is dancing the fire out of her
body while others are dancing it in! Now she is quite white, and Olsen's
Elvira comes up and tugs at her dress, with anxiety in her glance.
"Hanne, Hanne!" But Hanne does not see her; she is only longing for the
next pair of arms--her eyes are closed. She has so much to make up for!
And who so innocent as she? She does not once realize that she is
robbing others of their pleasure. Is she suffering from vertigo or St.
Vitus's dance, in her widowhood?

Hold your tongue! How beautiful she is! Now she is growing rosy again,
and opening her eyes. Fire darts from them; she has brought Pelle out of
his corner and is whispering something to him, blushing as she does so;
perhaps that precious promise that hitherto no one has been able to draw
from her. Pelle must always be the lucky man!

"Pelle, why don't you dance with me oftener? Why do you sit in the
corner there always and sulk? Are you angry with me as you used to be,
and why are you so hard and cold? And your clothes are quite stiff!"

"I come from outside all this--from the terrible winter, Hanne, where
the children are crying for bread, and the women dying of starvation,
and the men go about with idle hands and look on the ground because they
are ashamed of their unemployment!"

"But why? It is still summer. Only look how cheerful every one is! Take
me, then, Pelle!"

Hanne grows red, redder than blood, and leans her head on his shoulder.
Only see how she surrenders herself, blissful in her unashamed ecstasy!
She droops backward in his arms, and from between her lips springs a
great rose of blood, that gushes down over the summer-blue dress.

Fastened to the spot by his terrible burden, Pelle stands there unable
to move. He can only gaze at Hanne, until Cerberus takes her in his
giant's arms and bears her out. She is so light in her summer finery--
she weighs nothing at all!

"Mazurka!" he bellows, as he returns, and goes commandingly along the
ranks of dancers.



XXVI


At the end of January, Pelle obtained a place as laborer in the
"Denmark" machine works. He was badly paid, but Ellen rejoiced, none the
less; with nothing one could only cry--with a little one could grow
strong again. She was still a little pale after her confinement, but she
looked courageous. At the first word of work her head was seething with
comprehensive plans. She began at once to redeem various articles and to
pay off little debts; she planned out a whole system and carried it out
undeviatingly.

The new sister was something for Young Lasse; he understood immediately
that she was some one given to him in order to amuse him in his
loneliness.

During the confinement he had remained with his grandparents, so that
the stork should not carry him away when it came with his little sister
--for he was dear to them! But when he returned home she was lying asleep
in her cradle. He just touched her eyelids, to see if she had eyes like
his own. They snatched his fingers away, so he could not solve the
exciting problem that day.

But sister had eyes, great dark eyes, which followed him about the room,
past the head of the bed and round the other side, always with the same
attentive expression, while the round cheeks went out and in like those
of a sucking animal. And Young Lasse felt very distinctly that one was
under obligations when eyes followed one about like that. He was quite a
little man already, and he longed to be noticed; so he ran about making
himself big, and rolling over like a clown, and playing the strong man
with the footstool, while his sister followed him with her eyes, without
moving a muscle of her face. He felt that she might have vouchsafed him
a little applause, when he had given himself so much trouble.

One day he inflated a paper bag and burst it before her face. That was
a help. Sister forgot her imperturbability, gave a jump, and began to
roar. He was smacked for that, but he had his compensation. Her little
face began to quiver directly he approached her, in order to show her
something; and she often began to roar before he had performed his
trick. "Go away from your sister Lasse Frederik!" said his mother. "You
are frightening her!"

But things were quite different only a month later. There was no one who
understood Young Lasse's doings better than sister. If he did but move
his plump little body, or uttered a sound, she twittered like a
starling.

Ellen's frozen expression had disappeared; now that she had something to
work at again. The cold had weaned her from many of her exactions, and
others were gratified by the children. The two little ones kept her very
busy; she did not miss Pelle now. She had become accustomed to his being
continually away from home, and she had taken possession of him in her
thoughts, in her own fashion; she held imaginary conversations with him
as she went about her work; and it was a joy to her to make him
comfortable during the short time that he was at home.

Pelle conceived his home as an intimate little world, in which he could
take shelter when he was weary. He had redeemed that obscure demand in
Ellen's eyes--in the shape of two dear little creatures that gave her
plenty to do. Now it was her real self that advanced to meet him. And
there was a peculiar loyalty about her, that laid hold of his heart; she
no longer resented his small earnings, and she did not reproach him
because he was only a workman.

He had been obliged to resign his position as president of his Union on
account of his longer hours. There was no prospect at present of his
being able to return to his vocation; but the hard bodily labor agreed
with him.

In order to help out his small earnings, he busied himself with repairs
in the evenings. Ellen helped him, and they sat together and gossiped
over their work. They ignored the labor movement--it did not interest
Ellen, and he by no means objected to a brief rest from it. Young Lasse
sat at the table, drawing and putting in his word now and then. Often,
when Pelle brought out the work, Ellen had done the greater part of it
during the day, and had only left what she did not understand. In return
he devised little ways of pleasing her.

In the new year the winter was not so severe. Already in February the
first promise of spring was perceptible. One noticed it in Ellen.

"Shan't we pack a picnic-basket and go out to one of the beer-gardens on
Sunday? It would do the children good to get into the air," she would
say.

Pelle was very willing. But on Sunday there was a meeting of the party
leaders and a meeting concerning the affairs of the factory--he must be
present at both. And in the evening he had promised to speak before a
trade union.

"Then we'll go out ourselves, the children and I!" said Ellen
peacefully. When they came home it seemed they had amused themselves
excellently; Pelle was no longer indispensable.

       *        *        *        *        *

The hard winter was over at last. It was still freezing--especially at
night--but the people knew it was over in spite of that. And the ice in
the canals knew it also. It began to show fractures running in all
directions, and to drift out toward the sea. Even the houses gave one a
feeling of spring; they were brighter in hue; and the sun was shining
into the sky overhead; if one looked for it one could see it glowing
above the roofs. Down in the narrow lanes and the well-like courtyards
the children stamped about in the snowy slush and sang to the sun which
they could not see.

People began to recover from the long privations of the winter. The cold
might return at any moment; but all were united in their belief in the
spring. The starlings began to make their appearance, and the moisture
of the earth rose again to the surface and broke its way through the
hard crust, in dark patches; and business ventured to raise its head. A
peculiar universal will seemed to prevail in all things. Down under the
earth it sprouted amid frost and snow, and crept forth, young, and
seemingly brought forth by the cold itself; and in all things frozen by
winter the promise unfolded itself--in spite of all.

The workmen's quarter of the city began to revive; now it was once more
of some use to go about looking for work. It did one good to get out and
walk in the daylight for a while. And it also did one good once more to
fill one's belly every day and to fetch the household goods home from
the pawn-shop, and to air one's self a little, until one's turn came
round again.

But things did not go as well as they should have done. It looked as
though the cold had completely crippled the sources of commercial
activity. The spring came nearer; the sun rose higher every day, and
began to recover its power; but business showed no signs of real
recovery as yet; it did no more than supply what was needed from day to
day. There was no life in it, as there had been of old! At this time of
the year manufacturers were glad as a rule to increase their stocks, so
as to meet the demands of the summer; it was usual to make up for the
time lost during the winter; the workers would put forth their utmost
strength, and would work overtime.

Many anxious questions were asked. What was the matter? Why didn't
things get going again? _The Working Man_ for the present offered
no explanation, but addressed a covert warning to certain people that
they had best not form an alliance with want.

Gradually the situation assumed more definite outlines; the employers
were making preparations of some kind, for which reason they did not
resume business with any great vigor. In spite of their privations
during the winter, the workers had once again returned some of their own
representatives to Parliament, and now they were getting ready to strike
a blow at the municipal elections. That was the thing to do now! And in
the forefront of the battle stood the ever-increasing organization which
now included all vocations and the whole country a single body, and
which claimed a decisive voice in the ordering of conditions! The poor
man was made to feel how little he could accomplish without those who
kept everything going!

In the meantime there were rumors that a lock-out was being prepared,
affecting every occupation, and intended to destroy the Federation at
one blow. But that was inconceivable. They had experienced only small
lock-outs, when there was disagreement about some particular point. That
any one could think of setting the winter's distress in opposition to
the will of Nature, when every man was willing to work on the basis of
the current tariff--no, the idea was too fiendish!

But one distinction was being made. Men who had done any particular work
for the movement would find it more difficult to obtain employment. They
would be degraded, or simply replaced by others, when they applied for
their old places after the standstill of the winter. Uncertainty
prevailed, especially in those trades which had the longest connection
with the labor organization; one could not but perceive this to be a
consequence of combination. For that reason the feeling of insecurity
increased. Every one felt that the situation was unendurable and
untenable, and foresaw some malicious stroke. Especially in the iron
industry relations were extremely strained; the iron-founders were
always a hard-handed lot; it was there that one first saw what was about
to develop.

Pelle anxiously watched events. If a conflict were to occur just now, it
would mean a defeat of the workers, who were without supplies and were
stripped to the buff. With the winter had ceased even the small chance
of employment on the ramparts; it was obvious that an assault would
shatter their cohesion. He did not express his anxieties to them. They
were at bottom like little children; it would do no good for them to
suffer too great anxiety. But to the leaders he insisted that they must
contrive to avoid a conflict, even if it entailed concessions. For the
first time Pelle proposed a retreat!

One week followed another, and the tension increased, but nothing
happened. The employers were afraid of public opinion. The winter had
struck terrible blows; they dared not assume the responsibility for
declaring war.

       *        *        *        *        *

In the "Denmark" machine-works the tension was of long standing. At the
time when the farmers were compelled, by the conditions of the world-
market, to give up the cultivation of cereals for dairy-farming, the
directors of the factory had perceived in advance that the future would
lie in that direction, and had begun to produce dairy machinery. The
factory succeeded in constructing a centrifugal separator which had a
great sale, and this new branch of industry absorbed an ever-increasing
body of workers. Hitherto the best-qualified men had been selected; they
were continually improving the manufacture, and the sales were
increasing both at home and abroad. The workers gradually became so
skilled in their specialty that the manufacturers found themselves
compelled to reduce their wages--otherwise they would have earned too
much. This had happened twice in the course of the years, and the
workers had received the hint that was necessary to meet competition in
foreign markets. But at the same time the centrifugal separators were
continually increasing in price, on account of the great demand for
them. The workers had regarded the lowering of their wages as something
inevitable, and took pains yet further to increase their skill, so that
their earnings had once more come to represent a good average wage.

Now, immediately after the winter slackness, there were rumors in
circulation that the manufacturers intended once more to decrease the
rate of pay. But this time the men had no intention of accommodating
themselves to the decrease. Their resentment against the unrighteousness
of this proceeding went to their heads; they were very near
demonstrating at the mere rumor. Pelle, however, succeeded in persuading
them that they were confronted by nothing more than foolish gossip for
which no one was responsible. Afterward, when their fear had evaporated
and all was again going as usual, they came to him and thanked him.

But on the next pay-day there was a notice from the office to the effect
that the current rate of wages was not in accordance with the times--it
was to be improved. This sounded absolutely innocent, but every one knew
what lay behind it.

It was one of the first days of spring. The sun was shining into the
vast workshop, casting great shafts of light across it, and in the blue
haze pulleys and belts were revolving. The workers, as they stood at
their work, were whistling in time with the many wheels and the ringing
of metal. They were like a flock of birds, who have just landed on a
familiar coast and are getting the spring.

Pelle was carrying in some raw material when the news came and
extinguished all their joy. It was passed on a scrap of paper from man
to man, brief and callous. The managers of the factory wanted to have
nothing to do with the organization, but silently went behind it. All
had a period of fourteen days in which to subscribe to the new tariff.
"No arguments, if you please--sign, or go!" When the notice came to
Pelle all eyes were turned upon him as though they expected a signal;
tools were laid down, but the machinery ran idly for a time. Pelle read
the notice and then bent over his work again.

During the midday pause they crowded about him. "What now?" they asked;
and their eyes were fixed upon him, while their hands were trembling.
"Hadn't we better pack up and go at once? This shearing will soon be too
much for us, if they do it every time a little wool has grown on us."

"Wait!" said Pelle. "Just wait! Let the other side do everything, and
let us see how far they will go. Behave as if nothing had happened, and
get on with your work. You have the responsibility of wives and
children!"

They grumblingly followed his advice, and went back to their work. Pelle
did not wonder at them; there had been a time when he too would throw
down his work if any one imposed on him, even if everything had gone to
the devil through it. But now he was responsible for many--which was
enough to make a man prudent. "Wait!" he told them over and over again.
"To-morrow we shall know more than we do to-day--it wants thinking over
before we deal with it!"

So they put the new tariff aside and went to work as though nothing had
happened. The management of the factory treated the matter as settled;
and the directors went about with a contented look. Pelle wondered at
his comrades' behavior; after a few days they were in their usual
spirits, indulging in all kinds of pastimes during their meal-time.

As soon as the whistle sounded at noon the machinery stopped running,
and the workers all dropped their tools. A few quickly drew their coats
on, intending to go home for a mouthful of warm food, while some went to
the beer-cellars of the neighborhood. Those who lived far from their
homes sat on the lathe-beds and ate their food there. When the food was
consumed they gathered together in groups, gossiping, or chaffing one
another. Pelle often made use of the midday rest to run over to the
"Ark" in order to greet Father Lasse, who had obtained work in one of
the granaries and was now able to get along quite nicely.

One day at noon Pelle was standing in the midst of a group of men,
making a drawing of a conceited, arrogant foreman with a scrap of chalk
on a large iron plate. The drawing evoked much merriment. Some of his
comrades had in the meantime been disputing as to the elevating
machinery of a submarine. Pelle rapidly erased his caricature and
silently sketched an elevation of the machinery in question. He had so
often seen it when the vessel lay in the harbor at home. The others were
obliged to admit that he was right.

There was a sudden silence as one of the engineers passed through the
workshop. He caught sight of the drawing and asked whose work it was.

Pelle had to go to the office with him. The engineer asked him all sorts
of questions, and was amazed to learn that he had never had lessons in
drawing. "Perhaps we could make use of you upstairs here," he said.
"Would you care for that?"

Pelle's heart gave a sudden leap. This was luck, the real genuine good
fortune that seized upon its man and lifted him straightway into a
region of dazzling radiance! "Yes," he stammered, "yes, thank you very
much!" His emotion was near choking him.

"Then come to-morrow at seven--to the drawing-office," said the
engineer. "No, what's to-day? Saturday. Then Monday morning." And so the
affair was settled, without any beating about the bush! There was a man
after Pelle's own heart!

When he went downstairs the men crowded about him, in order to hear the
result. "Now your fortune's made!" they said; "they'll put you to
machine-drawing now, and if you know your business you'll get
independent work and become a constructor. That's the way Director
Jeppesen got on; he started down here on the moulding-floor, and now
he's a great man!" Their faces were beaming with delight in his good
fortune. He looked at them, and realized that they regarded him as
capable of anything.

He spent the rest of the day as in a dream, and hurried home to share
the news with Ellen. He was quite confused; there was a surging in his
ears, as in childhood, when life suddenly revealed one of its miracles
to him. Ellen flung her arms round his neck in her joy; she would not
let him go again, but held him fast gazing at him wonderingly, as in the
old days. "I've always known you were intended for something!" she said,
looking at him with pride. "There's no one like you! And now, only
think. But the children, they must know too!" And she snatched little
sister from her sleep, and informed her what had happened. The child
began to cry.

"You are frightening her, you are so delighted," said Pelle, who was
himself smiling all over his face.

"But now--now we shall mix with genteel people," said Ellen suddenly, as
she was laying the table. "If only I can adapt myself to it! And the
children shall go to the middle-class school."

When Pelle had eaten he was about to sit down to his cobbling. "No!"
said Ellen decidedly, taking the work away, "that's no work for you any
longer!"

"But it must be finished," said Pelle; "we can't deliver half-finished
work!"

"I'll soon finish it for you; you just put your best clothes on; you
look like a--"

"Like a working-man, eh?" said Pelle, smiling.

Pelle dressed himself and went off to the "Ark" to give Father Lasse the
news. Later he would meet the others at his father-in-law's. Lasse was
at home, and was eating his supper. He had fried himself an egg over the
stove, and there was beer and brandy on the table. He had rented a
little room off the long corridor, near crazy Vinslev's; there was no
window, but there was a pane of glass over the door leading into the
gloomy passage. The lime was falling from the walls, so that the cob was
showing in great patches.

"Well, well," said Lasse, delighted, "so it's come to this! I've often
wondered to myself why you had been given such unprofitable talents--
such as lying about and painting on the walls or on paper--you, a poor
laborer's son. Something must be intended by that, I used to tell
myself, in my own mind; perhaps it's the gift of God and he'll get on by
reason of it! And now it really seems as if it's to find its use."

"It's not comfortable for you here, father!" said Pelle.

"But I shall soon take you away from here, whether you like it or not.
When we've paid off a few of the winter's debts we shall be moving into
a three-roomed apartment, and then you'll have a room for your own use;
but you mustn't go to work any longer then. You must be prepared for
that."

"Yes, yes, I've nothing against living with you, so long as I'm not
taking the bread out of others' mouths. Ah, no, Pelle, it won't be
difficult for me to give up my work; I have overworked myself ever since
I could crawl; for seventy years almost I've toiled for my daily bread--
and now I'm tired! So many thanks for your kind intentions. I shall pass
the time well with the children. Send me word whenever you will."

The news was already known in the "Ark," and the inmates came up to wish
him luck as he was leaving. "You won't he running in here any more and
gossiping with us when once you are settled in your new calling," they
said. "That would never do! But don't quite forget all about us just
because we are poor!"

"No, no, Pelle has been through so many hungry times with us poor folks;
he's not one of those who forget old friendship!" they themselves
replied.

Only now, when he had left the "Ark," did he realize that there was
something to which he was bidding farewell. It was the cordial community
with all his kind, their radiant faith in him, and his own belief in his
mission there; he had known a peculiar joy in the half-embittered
recklessness, the community of feeling, and the struggle. Was he not, so
to speak, the Prince of poverty, to whom they all looked up, and of whom
they all expected that he would lead them into a strange world? And
could he justify himself for leaving them all in the lurch because of
his own good fortune? Perhaps he was really appointed to lead the
movement--perhaps he was the only one who could do so!

This belief had always been faintly glimmering in the back of his mind,
had stood behind his endurance in the conflict, and behind all the
gladness with which he bore privation. Was he in his arrogance to
repudiate the place that had formed him? No, he was not so blatant as
all that! There was plenty beside himself capable of seeing the movement
through--and Fortune had tapped him on the shoulder. "March forward,
Pelle!" an inward voice exhorted him. "What have you to consider? You have
no right to thrust success away from you? Do you want to ruin yourself
without profiting others? You have been a good comrade, but here your ways
divide. God Himself has given you talent; even as a child you used to
practise it; no one will gain by your remaining poor. Choose your own
path!"

Yes, Pelle had chosen readily enough! He knew very well that he must
accept this good fortune, whatever the world might say to it. Only it
hurt him to leave the others behind! He was bound to poverty by such
intimate ties; he felt the solidarity of the poor so keenly that it hurt
him to tear himself away. Common cares had made him a man, and the
struggle had given him a peculiar and effective strength. But now he
would attend no more meetings! It would be droll indeed if he were to
have nothing more to do with the Cause, but were to belong to the other
side--he, Pelle, who had been a flaming torch! No, he would never leave
them in the lurch, that he knew; even if he were to climb ever so high--
and he entertained no doubts as to that--he would always feel for his
old comrades and show them the way to obtain good relations between
worker and employer.

Ellen saw how serious he was--perhaps she guessed that he was feeling
remorseful. She would help him to get over that.

"Can't we have your father here to-morrow?" she said. "He can lie on the
long chair in the living-room until we move into our new home. It isn't
right to let him stay where he is, and in your new situation you
couldn't do it."



XXVII


The unrest increased in the workshops round about; no one who had
anything to do with the organization felt really secure. It was
evidently the intention of the employers to drive the workers to
extremes, and thereby to force them to break the peace. "They want to
destroy the trades unions, so that they can scrape the butter off our
bread again," said the workers. "They think it'll be easier now that the
winter has made us thankful for a dry crust! But that's an infernal
lie!"

The masses grew more and more embittered; everywhere they were ready for
a fight, and asked nothing better than to plunge into it. The women wept
and shuddered; most of them understood only that the sufferings of the
winter were going to begin all over again. They took desperate steps to
prevent this; they threw their shawls over their heads and rushed off to
the offices, to the manufacturers, and pleaded with them to avert the
disaster. The central Committee counselled a peaceful demeanor and
caution. Everything depended upon their having the right on their side
in the opinion of the public.

It was easy for Pelle to follow all that was happening, although he now
stood outside the whole movement. He went to work in his good clothes
and elastic-sided boots, and did not need to arrive before seven, while
the others had to be there at six--which at once altered his point of
view.

He would soon be trusted with rule and compasses; for the present he was
kept busy copying a few worn-out working-drawings, or "filling in." He
felt in a curiously exalted frame of mind--as though he had been
slightly intoxicated; this was the first time in his life that he had
been employed on work that was of a clean nature and allowed him to wear
good clothes. It was particularly curious to survey life from where he
stood; a new perspective lay open before him. The old life had nothing
in prospect but a miserable old age; but this led upward. Here he could
achieve what he willed--even the highest place! What if he finally crept
up to the very topmost point, and established an eight-hour day and a
decent day's wage? Then he would show them that one could perfectly well
climb up from below without forgetting his origin and becoming a
bloodsucker! They should still drink to the health of Pelle, their good
comrade, although he would have left their ranks.

At home there was much to be done; as soon as he crossed the threshold
he was the prisoner of Ellen's hundred and one schemes. He must have a
new suit of clothes--a gray suit for the office, and more linen; and at
least twice a week he must go to the barber; he could no longer sit down
and scrape himself with an old razor with an edge like a saw. Pelle was
made to feel that it was not so easy after all to become an "upper-
classer," as he called it.

And all this cost money. There was the same searching, the same racking
of one's brains to find the necessary shillings as during the dearth of
the winter famine; but this time it was quite amusing; there was a
cheerful purpose in it all, and it would only last until he had properly
settled down. Lasse looked very respectable; he was wearing Pelle's
second-best suit, which Ellen had cleaned for him, and a black watered
silk cravat, with a white waterproof collar, and well-polished slippers
on his feet. These last were his old watertight boots--those in which
Pelle had left Stone Farm. They were still in existence, but had been
cut down to form house-slippers. The legs of them now formed part of a
pair of clogs.

Lasse was happiest with the children, and he looked quite an aged
grandfather now, with his wrinkled face and his kind glance, which was
now a little weak-sighted. When Young Lasse hid himself in the opposite
corner of the room Father Lasse could not see him, and the young rascal
took advantage of the fact; he could never understand those eyes, which
could not see farther than across the table, and was always asking
questions about them.

"It's because I have seen too much misery in my life," the old man would
always reply.

Otherwise he was quite overflowing with happiness, and his old worn-out
body manifested its gratitude, for he began to put on flesh again; and
his cheeks had soon grown quite full. He had a peculiar knack for
looking after the children; Pelle and Ellen could feel quite easy as
they went about their multitudinous affairs. There were a hundred things
that had to be seen to before they could move into the new home. They
thought of raising a loan of a few hundred kroner. "Father will go
security for us," said Ellen.

"Yes, then I should have the means of taking proper drawing-lessons,"
said Pelle; "I particularly need to get thoroughly grounded."

       *        *        *        *        *

On Saturday the term of the old tariff expired. The temper of the
workers was badly strained, but each completed his work, and contained
himself and waited. At noon the foreman went round asking each man for
his answer. They refused all information, as agreed, but in the
afternoon three men formed a deputation and entered the office, asking
if they could speak with the manager. As he entered Munck, the engine-
driver, stepped forward as spokesman, and began: "We have come in the
name of our comrades." He could get no further; the manager let fly at
him, pointing to the stairs, and crying, "I don't argue with my work-
people!"

So they went down again. The men stared up at them--this was quick work!
The burly Munck moved his lips, as though he were speaking, but no one
could hear a word on account of the frightful din of the machinery. With
a firm stride he went through the shop, picked up a hammer, and struck
three blows on the great steel gong. They sounded like the stroke of
doom, booming through the whole factory. At the same moment the man's
naked, blackened arms were lifted to strike the belts from the live
pulleys. The machinery ceased running, and the roar of it died away; it
was as still as though Death had passed through the workshop. The dense
network of belts that crossed the shop in all directions quivered and
hung slack; the silence yawned horribly in the great room.

The foremen ran from bench to bench, shouting and hardly knowing what to
do. Word was sent to the office, while the workers went to their buckets
and washed themselves, silent and melancholy as a funeral procession.
Their faces were uncommunicative. Did they perhaps foresee that those
three blows were the signal for a terrible conflict? Or were they merely
following their first angry impulse? They knew enough, at all events; it
was stamped upon their faces that this was fate--the inevitable. They
had summoned the winter because they were driven to it, and the winter
would return once more to ravage his victims.

They reappeared, washed and clean, each with his bundle under his arm,
and stood in silence waiting their turn to be paid. The foreman ran to
and fro apportioning the wages with nervous hands, comparing time-sheets
and reckoning the sum due to each. The manager came down the stairs of
his office, proud and unapproachable, and walked through the shop; the
workers made way for him. He looked sharply around him, as though he
would imprint the likeness of every individual worker on his mind, laid
his hand on the shoulder of one of the foremen, and said in a loud
voice, so that all heard him, "Make haste, now, Jacobsen, so that we can
be rid of these fellows quickly!" The workers slowly turned their
serious faces toward him, and here and there a fist was clenched. They
left the factory one by one, as soon as they were paid.

Outside they gathered in little groups, and relieved their feelings by
giving vent to significant exclamations. "Did you see the old man? He
was savage, he was; he'll hold out quite a while before we get back
again!"

Pelle was in a curious frame of mind; he knew that now the fight had
begun; first blood had been drawn, and one blow would follow on another.
Young Lasse, who heard his step on the stairs, ran into his arms as he
reached home; but Pelle did not notice him.

"You are so solemn!" said Ellen, "has anything happened?" He told her
quietly.

"Good God!" she cried, shuddering. "Now the unemployment will begin all
over again! Thank God it doesn't affect us!" Pelle did not reply. He sat
down in silence to his supper; sat hanging his head as though ashamed of
himself.



XXVIII


A most agitating time followed. For a number of years the conflict had,
so to speak, been preparing itself, and the workers had made ready for
it, had longed for it, had sought to precipitate it, in order to
determine once for all whether they were destined always to be slaves
and to stand still, or whether there was a future for them. Now the
conflict had come--and had taken them all by surprise; they would
willingly have concluded peace just now.

But there was no prospect of a peaceful solution of any kind. The
employers found the occasion favorable for setting their house in order;
the matter was to be fought out now! This was as good as telling the men
to go. Every morning there was news of a fresh lot of workers turned
into the streets, or leaving of their own accord.

One trade involved another. The iron-masters made common cause with the
"Denmark" factory, and declared a lock-out of the machine-smiths; then
the moulders and pattern-makers walked out, and other branches of the
industry joined the strike; they all stood by one another.

Pelle could survey them all from his point of vantage. Old memories of
battle rose to his mind; his blood grew warm, and he caught himself, up
in the drawing-office, making plans of campaign for this trade or that.
His was the quick-fighting blood that assumes the offensive, and he
noted their blunders; they were not acting with sufficient energy. They
were still exhausted, and found it hard to reconcile themselves to
another period of unemployment. They made no counter-attack that could
do any damage. The employers, who were acting energetically under the
leadership of the iron industry, enjoyed from the beginning a
considerable ascendancy. The "Denmark" factory was kept running, but the
trade was on its last legs.

It was kept alive by the help of a few strike-breakers, and every one of
the officials of the company who had the requisite knowledge was set to
work downstairs; even the manager of the machine department had donned a
blouse and was working a lathe. It was a matter of sapping the courage
of the strikers, while proving to them that it was possible to do
without them.

In the drawing-office and the counting-house all was confusion; the
strike-breakers had all to be obtained from abroad; while others ran
away and had to be replaced. Under these circumstances Pelle had to look
after himself and assimilate what he could. This did not suit him; it
was a long way to the top, and one couldn't learn quickly enough.

One day he received the summons to come downstairs and lend a hand in
the centrifugal separator department. The workers had made common cause
with the machine-smiths. This summons aroused him from delightful dreams
of the future. He was swiftly awakened. "I am no strike-breaker!" he
replied, offended.

Then the engineer himself came up. "Do you realize that you are refusing
to perform your duty?" he said.

"I can't take work away from my comrades," replied Pelle, in a low
voice.

"They may think that very nice of you. But now those men down there are
no longer your comrades. You are a salaried employee, and as such you
must serve the firm wherever you are asked to do so."

"But I can't do that! I can't strike the bread out of other folks'
hands."

"Then your whole future is at stake. Think a moment, man! I am sorry for
you, for you might have done something here; but I can't save you from
the results of your own obstinacy. We require absolute obedience here."

The engineer stood waiting for his answer, but Pelle had nothing to say.

"Now, I'll go so far as to give you till to-morrow to think over it--
although that's against the rules of the factory. Now think it over
well, and don't hang on to this stupid sentimentality of yours. The
first thing is to stand by those you belong to, through thick and thin.
Well, till to-morrow."

Pelle went. He did not want to go home before the usual time, only to be
met with a string of unseasonable questions. They would come soon enough
in any case. So he strolled through the mercantile quarter and gazed at
the shipping. Well, now his dream of success was shattered--and it had
been a short one. He could see Ellen's look of disappointment, and an
utter mental depression came over him. He was chiefly sorry for her; as
for him, there was nothing to be said--it was fate! It never occurred to
him for a moment to choose between his comrades and the future; he had
quite forgotten that the engineer had given him time for reflection.

At the usual time he strolled homeward. Ellen welcomed him cheerfully
and light-heartedly; she was living in a continual thrill of delight;
and it was quite touching to see what trouble she was taking to fit
herself for a different stratum of society. Her movements were
delightful to watch, and her mouth had assumed an expression which was
intended to betoken refinement. It suited her delightfully, and Pelle
was always seized by a desire to kiss her lips and so disarrange the
expression; but to-day he sat down to his supper in silence. Ellen was
accustomed to put aside his share of the midday dinner, and to warm it
up for him when he came home in the evening; at midday he ate bread-and-
butter in the office.

"When we have once got properly settled we'll all have dinner at six
o'clock; that is much more comfortable."

"That's what the fine folks do, I've been told," said Lasse. "That will
be pleasant, to give it a try."

Lasse was sitting with Young Lasse on his knee, telling him funny
stories. Little Lasse laughed, and every time he laughed his sister
screeched with delight in her cradle, as though she understood it all.
"What is it to be now, then--the story of the old wife? Then you must
listen carefully, or your ears won't grow! Well, then, the old wife."

"Wife!" said Young Lasse, with the very accent of the old man.

"Yes, the old wife!" repeated Lasse, and then all three laughed.

"'What shall I do first?' said the old wife, when she went to work; 'eat
or sleep? I think I'll eat first. What shall I do first?' asked the old
wife, when she had eaten; 'shall I sleep first or work? I think I'll
sleep first.' And then she slept, until it was evening, and then she
went home and went to bed."

Ellen went up to Pelle and laid her hand on his shoulder.

"I've been to see my former mistress, and she is going to help me to
turn my wedding-dress into a visiting-dress," she said. "Then we shall
only need to buy a frock-coat for you."

Pelle looked up slowly. A quiver passed over his features. Poor thing!
She was thinking about visiting-dresses! "You can save yourself the
trouble," he said, in a low voice. "I've finished with the office. They
asked me to turn strike-breaker, so I left."

"Ach, ach!" said Lasse, and he was near letting the child fall, his
withered hands were trembling so. Ellen gazed at Pelle as though turned
to stone. She grew paler and paler, but not a sound came from her lips.
She looked as though she would fall dead at his feet.



XXIX


Pelle was once more among his own people; he did not regret that fortune
had withdrawn her promise; at heart he was glad. After all, this was
where he belonged. He had played a great part in the great revolt--was
he to be excluded from the battle?

The leaders welcomed him. No one could draw the people as he could, when
it came to that; the sight of him inspired them with a cheerful faith,
and gave them endurance, and a fearless pugnacity. And he was so
skilled, too, in making plans!

The first thing every morning he made his way to the lock-out office,
whence the whole campaign was directed; here all the many threads ran
together. The situation for the moment was considered, men who had
precise knowledge of the enemy's weak points were called together, in
order to give information, and a comprehensive plan of campaign was
devised. At secret meetings, to which trustworthy members of the various
trades were invited, all sorts of material for offence was collected--
for the attack upon the employers, and for carrying on the newspaper
agitation. It was a question of striking at the blood-suckers, and those
who were loose in the saddle! There were trades which the employers kept
going for local reasons--these must be hunted out and brought to a
standstill, even at the cost of increasing unemployment. They were
making energetic preparations for war, and it was not the time to be
squeamish about their weapons. Pelle was in his element. This was
something better than ruining a single shoemaker, even if he was the
biggest in the city! He was rich in ideas, and never wavered in carrying
them into execution. Warfare was warfare!

This was the attacking side; but, permeated as he was by a sense of
community, he saw clearly that the real battle was for maintenance. The
utmost foresight and widely comprehensive instructions were required if
the masses were to last out the campaign; in the long run it would be a
question of endurance! Foreign strike-breakers had to be kept at a
distance by prompt communications to the party newspapers of the
different countries, and by the setting of pickets in the railway
stations and on the steamers. For the first time the workers took the
telegraph into their own service. The number of the foreign
strikebreakers must by every possible means be kept down, and in the
first place supplies must be assured, so that the unemployed masses
could keep famine at bay.

In a vision, Pelle had beheld the natural solidarity of the workers
extended over the whole earth, and now this vision was of service to
him. The leaders issued a powerful manifesto to the workers of Denmark;
pointing to the abyss from which they had climbed and to the pinnacles
of light toward which they were striving upward; and warning them, in
impressive phrases, to stand firm and to hold together. A statement as
to the origin of the lock-out and the intention which lay behind it was
printed and distributed throughout the country, with appeal for
assistance and support, in the name of freedom! And by means of appeals
to the labor parties of foreign countries they reminded the people of
the vast solidarity of labor. It was a huge machine to set in motion;
federation had increased from one small trade union until it
comprehended the whole kingdom, and now they were striving to comprehend
the laboring populations of the whole world, in order to win them over
as confederates in the campaign. And men who had risen from the masses
and were still sharing the same conditions, were managing all this! They
had kept step with the rapid growth of the movement, and they were still
growing.

The feeling that they were well prepared inspired them with courage and
the prospect of a favorable result. From the country offers of
employment for the locked-out workers daily reached the central office.
Money was sent too--and assistance in the form of provisions; and many
families outside the capital offered to take in the children of
unemployed parents. Remittances of money came from abroad, and the
liberal circles of the capital sympathized with the workers; and in the
workers' quarter of the city shopkeepers and publicans began to collect
for the Federation.

The workers displayed an extraordinary readiness to undergo sacrifices.
Books of coupons were circulated everywhere in the workshops, and
thousands of workers gave each week a fourth part of their modest wages.
The locked-out workers left their work with magnificent courage; the
sense of community made them heroic. Destitute though they were as a
result of the hard winter, they agreed, during the first two weeks, to
do without assistance. Many of them spared the treasury altogether,
helping themselves as well as they could, seeking a little private
employment, or going out into the country to work on the land. The young
unmarried men went abroad.

The employers did what they could to cope with all these shifts. They
forbade the merchants and contractors to supply those who worked at home
on their own account with materials for their work; and secret agents
were despatched all over the country to the small employers and the
farmers, in order to prejudice them against the locked-out workers; and
the frontier of the country was covered with placards.

Their intention was obvious enough--an iron ring was to be drawn round
the workers, and once imprisoned therein they could do nothing but keep
starvation at bay until they had had enough, and surrendered. This
knowledge increased their resistance. They were lean with wandering
through the wilderness, but they were just in the mood for a fight. Many
of them had not until now understood the entire bearings of the
campaign; the new ideas had been stirring within them, but in a
fragmentary and isolated condition--as an expression of a dumb feeling
that the promised land was at hand at last. Often it was just one single
word that had fixed itself in their minds, and had to serve to express
the whole position. Any one might approach them with plausible arguments
and strike it from under them, and shatter the theory to which they had
clung; but faith itself remained, and the far-reaching concord; deep in
their hearts was the dim, immovable knowledge that they were chosen to
enter into the time of promise.

And now everything was gradually becoming plain to them. The battle shed
light both backward and forward. It illumined their existence in all its
harshness. Life was the same as it had always been, but now it was
revealed so plainly that all could see it. All the many whips and scorns
of life had been bound together in one vast scourge--the scourge of
famine--which was to drive them back into the midst of poverty! Want was
to be set upon them in its compactest form! This was the last, most
extreme weapon; it confirmed them in the certainty that they were now on
the right track, and near the goal. The night was always darkest before
the break of day!

There were all sorts of things that they could understand now. People
used to go about saying that the Germans were the hereditary enemy, and
that the Fatherland was taking the lead of all other countries. But now
the employers were sending to Germany for troops of hirelings, and were
employing them to drive their own countrymen into a state of poverty.
All that talk about patriotic feeling had been only fine words! There
were only two nations--the oppressors and the oppressed!

That was how things appeared on closer inspection! One could never be
very sure of what those above one told one--and yet all teaching came
from them! A brave lot the clergy were--they knew very well which master
they had to serve! No, the people ought to have had their own schools,
where the children would learn the new ideas instead of religion and
patriotism! Then there would long ago have been an end of the curse of
poverty! So they profited by the campaign and their compulsory idleness
in order to think things over, and to endeavor to solve all manner of
problems.

The specter of hunger presently began to go from house to house, but the
result was not what was expected; it awakened only hatred and defiance.
It was precisely in this direction that they were invincible! In the
course of time they had learned to suffer--they had learned nothing more
thoroughly; and this came to their help now. They had an inexhaustible
fund to draw upon, from which they could derive their strength to
resist; they were not to be defeated. Weren't they nearly ready to
surrender? Very well--another thousand workers on the streets! But the
distress, to all appearance, became no greater than before; they had
learned to endure their privations in decency--that was their share in
the increasing culture. One saw no obtrusive signs of want; they
compromised with it in secret, and appeared full of courage. This
weakened the faith of their opponents in the infallible nature of their
means.

They even adopted hunger as their own weapon, boycotting the employers
and their dependents, striking the enemy a blow they were familiar with!
Many a great employer's door was marked with a cross, and all behind it
were doomed to ruin.

It was as though the courage of the people increased in proportion as
famine threatened them more closely. No one could tell how long this
would last; but they would make hay as long as the sun shone! Their
clothes were still tidy, and in the early spring there were many
excursions; the people went forth singing, with banners at their head,
and singing they came home.

This was the first time they had ever enjoyed their freedom, although
there was work enough to be done--it was their first holiday! As they
held the whip hand through their purchasing capacity, they boycotted all
the business concerns of their own quarter which did not array
themselves on the side of the workers. Their hatred was aroused; it was
"for us or against us"; all must declare themselves by taking sides. The
small shopkeepers concealed their convictions--if they had any--and
rivalled one another in friendliness toward the workers. On their
counters lay books of coupons for those who would contribute to the
funds, and some of them gave a percentage of their own takings. There
was plenty of time to keep a strict eye on such; the people's hatred was
aroused at last, and it grew more and more bitter.

The leaders held back and counselled prudence. But there was something
intoxicating in this battle for bare life--and for happiness! Something
that went to the head and tempted them to hazard all on the cast of the
dice. The leaders had given great attention to the problem of
restricting the number of idle hands--it was difficult for them to
procure sufficient funds. But those workers who still had work to do
forsook it, in order to join themselves, in blind solidarity, to their
locked-out comrades. They thought it was required of them!

One day the masons made an unexpected demand that an hour should be
struck off the day's work. They received a refusal. But that evening
they knocked off at six instead of seven. The men were unreasonable: to
demand shorter hours in the slack season following on a hard winter!

This move took the leaders by surprise. They feared that it might
diminish the general sympathy for the workers. It surprised them
particularly that the prudent and experienced Stolpe had not opposed
this demand. As president of the organization for many years, he had
great influence over the men; he must try to persuade them to go to work
again. Pelle opened negotiations with him.

"That is not my business," Stolpe replied. "I did not propose the
cessation of work, but at the general meeting the majority was in favor
of it--and with that there's no more to be said. I don't oppose my
comrades."

"But that's perverse of you," said Pelle. "You are the responsible
person, and your trade has the most favorable conditions of labor--and
you ought to remember the conflict in which we are engaged."

"Yes, the conflict! Of course we thought of it. And you are right, I
have a good and comfortable home, because my craft is in a good
position; and we masons have obtained good conditions, and we earn good
money. But are we to enjoy ourselves and look on while the others are
fighting for dry bread? No, we are with them when it comes to a fight!"

"But the support you were giving--it was ten thousand kroner a week, and
now we shall have to do without it! Your action may have incalculable
consequences for us. You must put an end to this, father-in-law! You
must see that the majority doesn't have its way."

"That would be diplomatic, wouldn't it? But you seem anxious to side
with our opponents! We hold the suffrage in honor, and it is the
suffrage that is to reform society. If once one begins to meddle with
the voting-papers!--"

"But that isn't necessary in the least! The people aren't really clear
as to what they are doing--you can't expect any quickness of perception
from them! You could demand a fresh vote--if I could first have a talk
with them about the campaign!"

"So you think we couldn't see what we were doing!" replied Stolpe, much
offended. "But we can accept the consequences--we can do that! And you
want to get up on the platform and talk them silly, and then they are to
vote the other way round! No, no nonsense here! They voted according to
their convictions--and with that the matter's settled, whether it's
right or wrong! It won't be altered!"

Pelle had to give in; the old man was not to be moved from his point of
view. The masons increased the unemployed by a few thousand men.

The employers profited by this aggression, which represented them to the
public in a favorable aspect, in order to strike a decisive blow. The
universal lock-out was declared.



XXX


At home matters were going badly with Pelle. They had not yet recovered
from the winter when he was drawn into the conflict; and the
preparations for his new position had plunged them into debt. Pelle
received the same relief as the other locked-out workers--ten to twelve
kroner a week--and out of this Ellen had to provide them with food and
firing. She thought he ought, as leader, to receive more than the
others, but Pelle did not wish to enjoy other conditions than those
allotted to the rest.

When he came home, thoroughly exhausted after his strenuous day, he was
met by Ellen's questioning eyes. She said nothing, but her eyes
obstinately repeated the same question day after day. It was as though
they asked him: "Well, have you found employment?" This irritated him,
for she knew perfectly well that he was not looking for work, that there
was none to look for. She knew what the situation was as well as he did,
but she persistently behaved as though she knew nothing of all that he
and his comrades were endeavoring to achieve, and when he turned the
conversation on to that subject she preserved a stubborn silence; she
did not wish to hear anything about it.

When the heat of battle rose to Pelle's head, there was no one with whom
he would rather have shared his opinions and his plans of campaign. In
other directions she had urged him on, and he had felt this as a
confirmation and augmentation of his own being; but now she was silent.
She had him and her home and the children, and all else besides was
nothing to her. She had shared the privations of the winter with him and
had done so cheerfully; they were undeserved. But now he could get work
whenever he wished. She had resumed her dumb opposition, and this had an
oppressive effect upon him; it took something from the joy of battle.

When he reached home and related what had been said and done during the
day, he addressed himself to Lasse. She moved about the home immersed in
her own cares, as though she were dumb; and she would suddenly interrupt
his conversation with the statement that this or that was lacking. So he
weaned himself from his communicative habits, and carried on all his
work away from home. If there was writing to be done, or if he had
negotiations to accomplish, he selected some tavern where he would be
free of her constraining presence. He avoided telling her of his post of
confidence, and although she could not help hearing about it when away
from home she behaved as if she knew nothing. For her he was still
merely Pelle the working-man, who shirked supporting his wife and
children. This obstinate attitude pained him; and the bitterness of his
home life made him throw himself with greater energy into the struggle.
He became a hard and dangerous opponent.

Lasse used to gaze at them unhappily. He would willingly have
intervened, but he did not know how to set about it; and he felt himself
superfluous. Every day he donned his old clothes and went out in order
to offer his services as casual laborer, but there were plenty of idle
hands younger than his. And he was afraid of obtaining employment that
might take the bread out of other folks' mouths. He could not understand
the campaign, and he found it difficult to understand what was forbidden
ground; but for Pelle he felt an unconditional respect. If the lad said
this or the other, then it was right; even if one had to go hungry for
it--the lad was appointed to some special end.

One day he silently left the house; Pelle scarcely noticed it, so
absorbed was he. "He must have gone back to the old clothes woman at the
'Ark,'" he thought; "it's by no means amusing here."

Pelle had charge of the external part of the campaign; he knew nothing
of bookkeeping or administration, but simply threw himself into the
fight. Even as a child of eight he had been faced with the problem of
mastering life by his own means, and he had accomplished it, and this he
profited by now. He enjoyed the confidence of the masses; his speech
sounded natural to them, so that they believed in him even when they did
not understand him. If there was any one who did not wish to follow
where Pelle led, he had to go just the same; there was no time just now
for lengthy argument; where civil words didn't answer he took more
energetic means.

The campaign consisted in the first place of the federation of the
masses, and Pelle was continually away from home; wherever anything was
afoot, there he put in an appearance. He had inaugurated a huge parade,
every morning all the locked-out workers reported themselves at various
stations in the city, and there the roll was called, every worker being
entered according to his Union. By means of this vast daily roll-call of
nearly forty thousand men it was possible to discover which of them had
deserted in order to act as strike-breakers. A few were always absent,
and those who had a good excuse had to establish it in order to draw
their strike-pay. Pelle was now here, now there, and always unexpected,
acting on impulse as he did. "Lightning Pelle," they called him, on
account of the suddenness of his movements. His actions were not based
upon long deliberations; nevertheless, he had a radical comprehension of
the entire movement; one thing grew out of another, naturally, until the
whole was more than any conscious intelligence could comprehend. And
Pelle grew with it, and by virtue of his impulsiveness was a summary of
it all.

There was plenty to be done; at the roll-call all those who failed to
attend had to be entered, and those who knew anything about them must
give information. This man had gone abroad; that one had gone into the
country, to look for work; so far, so good. If any fell away and acted
as strike-breaker, instructions were immediately given for his
punishment. In this way Pelle kept the ranks closed. There were many
weak elements among them--degenerate, ignorant fellows who didn't
understand the importance of the movement, but a strong controlling hand
and unfailing justice made it a serious matter for them to break away.

At the outset he had organized with Stolpe's assistance a large body of
the best workers as pickets or watchmen. These were zealous, fanatical
members of the various trades, who had taken part in the organization of
their own professional organization, and knew every individual member
thereof. They stationed themselves early in the morning in the
neighborhood of the various places of employment, marking those who went
to work there and doing their best to prevent them. They were in
constant conflict with the police, who put every possible obstacle in
their way.

Morten he met repeatedly. Privation had called him out of his
retirement. He did not believe that the campaign would lead to better
conditions, and on that account he took no part in it. But want he knew
as did no other; his insight in that direction was mysteriously keen.
The distribution of relief in the form of provisions could not have been
entrusted to better hands. He superintended the whole business of
distribution, but what he liked best was to stand, knife in hand,
cutting up pork for the families of locked-out workers. The portions
were strictly weighed; none the less, the women always thronged about
him. There was a blessing in that faint smile of his--they felt sure
his portions were the biggest!

Morten and Pelle were in disagreement on almost every point. Even now,
when everything depended on a strict cohesion, Morten could never be
trusted to behave with severity. "Remember, they aren't of age yet," he
would say continually. And it could not be gainsaid that there were many
to whom the conflict was unintelligible--they understood nothing of it,
although otherwise they were thoughtful and intelligent enough. These
were mostly people who had come in from the provinces at a somewhat
advanced age; indeed some had been small employers there. For them
trades unionism was a sort of lynch law, and they profited by the strike
in all simplicity in order to obtain well-paid employment. When they
were reviled as strikebreakers or "gentlemen," they laughed like little
children who are threatened with a revolver. Slow-witted as they were,
in this respect, they took the consequences to heart, although they
could not see the reason for them. These must be compelled to obey.

The iron industry was doing its utmost to keep going, as a trade which
must fulfill its contracted engagements, under penalty of seeing the
business fall into foreign hands. This industry had if possible to be
disabled. The pickets were at work, and _The Working Man_ published
the names and addresses of the strike-breakers. When these left the
factory they encountered a crowd of people who treated them with scorn
and contempt; they had to be escorted by the police. But the resentment
aroused by their treachery followed them home even to the barracks they
lived in. The wives and children of the locked-out workers resumed the
battle and carried on hostilities against the families of the strike-
breakers, so that they had to move. One saw them of a night, with all
their possessions on a handcart, trudging away to seek a new home under
cover of the darkness. But the day revealed them, and again they were
fugitives, until the police took them in hand and found lodging for
them.

One day a large factory by the North Bridge resumed operations with the
help of foreign labor and strike-breakers. Pelle set to work to prepare
a warm reception for the workers when they went homeward, but in the
course of the day a policeman who was friendly to the workers tipped him
the wink that two hundred police would be concealed in a neighboring
school, ready for the workers' departure.

In the afternoon people began to collect--unemployed workers, poor
women, and children. They came early, for it well might be that the
workers would be released an hour before their time, in order to avoid a
clash, and they were missing nothing by waiting there. Finally several
thousand people stood before the gates of the factory, and the police
were moving to and fro through the crowd, which stood many men deep, but
they had to give up the effort to drive them asunder. The street urchins
began to make an uproar, and to egg the watchers on. They felt the need
of warming themselves a little, so they gradually began to bait the
police.

"Hullo, there!" suddenly shouted a mighty voice. "In the school over
there are two hundred police, waiting for us to make a disturbance, so
that they can come and use their truncheons on us. Hadn't we better
leave them where they are? I think it's quite as well they should go
back to school for a time!"  "Hurrah!" they cried. "Hurrah! Long live
'Lightning'!" A movement went through the crowd. "That's Pelle!" The
whisper passed from mouth to mouth, and the women stood on tiptoe to see
him.

Pelle and Stolpe were standing against a wall, surrounded by a few dozen
pickets. The police went up to them and reprimanded them. They had
orders to hinder the picketing, but they had no desire to meddle with
Pelle. They lived in the workers' quarter, were at home there, and a
word from him would make the city impossible for them.

The usual time for stopping work came round, but the workers were not
released from the factory. The crowd used its wits to keep itself warm;
punning remarks concerning strike-breakers and capitalists buzzed
through the air. But suddenly an alarm ran through the crowd. The street
urchins, who are always the first to know everything, were whistling
between their fingers and running down the side streets. Then the crowd
began to move, and the police followed at a quick march, keeping to the
middle of the street. The factory had discharged the workers by a back
door. They were moving down Guldberg Street by now, disheartened and
with never a glance behind them, while a whole escort of police
accompanied them. They were soon overtaken and brought home to the
accompaniment of a sinister concert, which now and again was interrupted
by cries of, "Three cheers for the gentlemen!"

The pickets walked in a long file, close to the procession, zealously
occupied in noting each individual worker, while Pelle moved in the
midst of the crowd, endeavoring to prevent over-hasty action. There was
need to be careful. Several men were still in prison because during the
winter they had come to blows with the strike-breakers, and the police
had received stringent orders from the authorities. The press of the
propertied classes was daily calling for stricter measures, demanding
that every meeting in the streets, and especially before the gates of a
factory, should be broken up by the police.

Now and then a strike-breaker parted from the squad and ran into the
door of his dwelling, followed by a long whistle.

Among the workers was a solitary, elderly man, still powerful, whom
Pelle recognized. He kept at the extreme edge of the police, walking
heavily, with bowed head, along the pavement close to the houses. His
hair was quite gray, and his gait was almost crippled. This was Mason
Hansen, Stolpe's old comrade and fellow-unionist, whom Pelle had
interviewed in the winter, in the hope of persuading him to refrain from
strikebreaking.

"It's going badly with him," thought Pelle, involuntarily keeping his
eyes on him. The results of strike-breaking had dealt hardly with him.

By St. Hans Street he turned the corner, winking at the policeman who
was about to follow him, and went down the street alone, looking neither
to right nor left, embarrassed, and with hanging head. Every time a
child cried aloud, he started. Then he stood as though riveted to the
ground, for in front of his door a heap of poverty-stricken household
goods lay in the gutter. A crowd of gaping children stood round the
heap, and in the midst of the group stood a youngish woman, with four
children, who were keeping tearful watch over the heap of trash. The man
pressed through the crowd and exchanged a few words with the woman, then
clenched his fists and shook them threateningly at the tenement house.

Pelle went up to him. "Things aren't going well with you, comrade," he
said, laying his hand on the other's shoulder. "And you are much too
good for what you are doing. You had better come with me and re-enter
the organization."

The man slowly turned his head. "Oh, it's you!" he said, shaking Pelle's
hand away with a jerk. "And you seem as cool and impudent as ever.
Poverty hasn't dealt hardly with you! It's not at all a bad business,
growing fat on the pence of the workers, eh?"

Pelle grew crimson with anger, but he controlled himself. "Your insults
don't hurt me," he said. "I have gone hungry for the Cause while you
have been playing the turncoat. But that will be forgotten if you'll
come with me."

The man laughed bitterly, pointing at the tenement-house. "You'd better
go and give them a medal. Three months now they've tormented me and made
hell hot for my wife and children, in order to drive us away. And as
that didn't answer, they went to the landlord and forced him to give me
notice. But Hansen is obstinate--he wouldn't be shown the door. So now
they've got the bailiffs to turn me out, see?" He gave a hollow laugh.
"But these few sticks, why, we can soon carry them up again, damn it
all! Shall we begin, mother?"

"I'll willingly speak to the landlord. Remember, you are an old
unionist."

"An old--yes, I was in it from the very beginning." The man drew himself
proudly erect. "But for all that I don't let my wife and children
starve. So you want to go begging favors for me, eh? You be gone--at
once, will you? Be off, to the devil, or I'll beat you to a jelly with
this!" He seized a table-leg; his eyes were quite blood-shot. His young
wife went up to him and took his hand. "Hansen!" she said quietly. He
let his weapon fall. Pelle felt the woman's pleading eyes upon him, and
went.



XXXI


When Pelle, tired to death, made his way homeward in the evening, he
had lost the feeling of invincibility and his thoughts turned to Ellen.

In the daytime he felt neither hesitation nor certainty. When he set to
work it was always with thousands behind him. He felt the great body of
workers at his back, whether he was fighting in the open or waiting with
close-buttoned coat to deal with the leaders of the opposing camp. But
when he went home to Ellen he had only himself to rely on for support.
And he could not get near her. Strongly as he was drawn by the life away
from home, she still held the secret of his life in her hands. She was
strong and would not be swept aside. He was forced to ponder over her
nature and to search for a solution.

Pelle had to deal with countless numbers of families, and what he saw
was not always edifying. Home was a conception which was only now
forcing its way downward from the middle classes. Even in periods of
normal employment the workers earned little enough when it came to
providing a decent family life, and the women knew nothing of making a
comfortable home. The man might be tidy and well-dressed when one met
him out of doors, but if you went to his home it was always the same
thing; a dark, grimy den and a worn-out wife, who moved about scolding
amidst a swarm of children. Wages were enough for one only to live in
comfort. The man represented the household out of doors. He must take
sandwiches to his work, and he must have something decent too when he
got home. The others managed with a little bread and coffee; it was of
no use to talk of regular family meals. And the man must have clothes;
he was the visible portion of the household, and he supported it. It was
of no use to look for anything further in the way of ideas from these
women; they saw nothing but unemployment and the want at home, and when
the husband showed himself they drove him out of the house with their
scolding ways. "You go out and meddle with everything you can think of
that doesn't concern us--politics and big talk--instead of doing your
work properly and leaving the fools to squabble among themselves!" The
result was that they did their work for the organization in the taverns.
Many of them held positions of confidence, and Pelle went to the taverns
to confer with them. They were dejected, when they arrived, and had
before all else to be thawed out.

There Pelle came to them, with his brilliant hopes. When they lamented
in their dejection, he promised great things of the future. "Our wives
will soon see that we are in the right. The day will soon come when we
shall be able to go home with a proper week's wages, that will be enough
for the whole family."

"And suppose it doesn't come off?" they would say.

"It will come off--if only we hold out!" he cried, smiting the table.

Yes, he might well see the bright side of things. He had a wife who came
from a long-established home, who kept things clean and tidy for him,
and knew how to make much do the work of little; the daughter of an old
unionist who had grown up in the midst of the movement--a wife who saw
her husband's doings with understanding eyes; yes, he might well smile!
As to the last, Pelle was silent.

In this particular she had accepted neither inheritance nor teaching;
she was as she was, and she would never be different, whatever might
pass over her head. Pelle was sacrificing wife and children to a fixed
idea, in order not to leave a few indifferent comrades in the lurch!
That, and the strike, and the severe condemnation of those who would not
keep step, was, and remained, for her, so much tavern nonsense. It was
something the workers had got into their heads as a result of talking
when they were not precisely sober.

That was what it was, and it filled her heart with pain and
mortification that she and hers should be set aside for people who were
nothing to them. And this pain made her beautiful, and justified her in
her own eyes.

She did not complain in words, and she was always careful to set before
Pelle whatever the house could provide. He always found everything in
order, and he understood what efforts it must cost her--considering the
smallness of the means which she had at her disposal. There was no weak
point in her defences; and this made the position still more oppressive;
he could not evoke an explosion, a ventilation of her grievances; it was
impossible to quarrel with her and make friends again.

Often he wished that Ellen would become neglectful, like so many others.
But she was always attentive; the more the circumstances enabled her to
condemn him, the more correctly did she behave.

If only he could have explained her lack of comprehension by supposing
that her mind was barren and self-seeking! But in his eyes she had
always been quite simple and single-minded, and yet her nature was to
him a continual enigma! It was true she was not excessively benevolent
or sympathetic where others were concerned; but on the other hand she
asked nothing for herself--her thoughts were all for him and the
children. He must admit that she had, without a thought, sacrificed
everything to him--her home, her whole world--and that she had a right
to ask something in return.

And she was still unchangeably the same. She was indifferent where she
herself was concerned, if only Pelle and the children had something she
was contented; she herself needed so little, yet she seemed to take
enough when he watched her eating. Pelle often wondered that she
retained her healthy appearance, although the food she ate was so
inferior. Perhaps she helped herself in secret--but he drove the thought
away, and was ashamed. She was always completely indifferent as to what
she ate; she did not notice what it was, but served him and the children
with the best of it--especially himself--yet she seemed to thrive. Yes,
even now she gave the best to him. It was as though she was fulfilling
some deep-rooted law of her nature, which was independent of their
relations to one another. In this nothing could alter her habits. She
might have been compared to a great beautiful bitch that lies
attentively marking the appetite of her young, although none can tell,
from her deliberate quiet, that her own bowels are twisted with hunger.
If they left anything, she noticed it. "I have eaten," she would say, so
quietly that she succeeded as a rule in deceiving them. Yes, it made him
feel desperate to think about it; the more he thought of it the more
unendurable it was. She was sacrificing herself for him, yet she must
condemn all his doings! She knew how to defy starvation far better than
he--and she did not understand why they must go hungry!

But from all these painful deliberations she emerged always more
prominently capable, incomprehensible, and beautiful in all her
strangeness! And he would hurry home, full of burning longing and
devotion, continually hoping that this time she would come to him
glowing with love, to hide her eyes, full of confusion, on his shoulder.
The disappointment only flung him yet more violently into the struggle;
the longing of his heart for a tender, careless hand made his own hard.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was always exerting himself to find some means of making money. At
first, of course, there was no way, and he became so completely absorbed
in the conflict that finally the question no longer occupied his mind.
It lurked in his consciousness, like a voluptuous wish that merely
tinged his daily existence; it was as though something within his mind
had taken possession of his talent for design, and was always designing
beautiful paper money and displaying it to his imagination.

One day when he reached home he found Widow Rasmussen tending the
children and working on a pair of canvas shoes. Drunken Valde had left
her again--had flown out into the spring! Ellen had gone out to work. A
sudden pain shot through him. Her way of doing this, without saying a
word to him, was like a blow in the face, and at first he was angry. But
disloyalty was foreign to his nature. He had to admit that she was
within her rights; and with that his anger evaporated, leaving him
bewildered; something within him seemed tottering; surely this was a
topsy-turvy world! "I might as well stay at home and look after the
children," he thought bitterly.

"I'll stay with the children now, Madam Rasmussen!" he said. The woman
put her work together.

"Yes, they've got a lot to go through," she said, standing in the
doorway. "I don't myself understand what it's all about, but one must
always do something! That's my motto. For things can't be worse than
they are. 'Widow'! Pooh! They won't let us behave ourselves! A man can
scarcely look after himself, let alone a family, in this accursed world
--and one needn't call one's self Madam to get children! Here have I been
knocking about all my life, ruining my health and happiness, and have I
earned as much from all my blackguards as would pay for the rags I've
worn? No; I've had to beg them nicely of the fine folks for whom I do
washing! Yes, they are ready to skin one alive--Madam Rasmussen has
proved that. So I say, one must always try something! To-day the boy
comes home and says, 'Mother, they've put up the price of firewood
again--an öre the two dozen!' 'What does that matter to us, boy? Can we
buy two dozen at once?' I say. 'Yes, mother, but then the one dozen will
cost an öre more.' And eggs, they cost one krone twenty a score where
the rich folks buy them--but here! 'No, my dear madam, if you take two
eggs you must pay fifteen öre!' That makes eight ore for an egg, for if
one takes the smallest quantity the profits aren't in proportion. It's
hard to be poor. If it's never going to be better, may the devil take
him that's made it all! That was a fine swear!"

Pelle sat playing with Young Lasse. Madam Rasmussen's words had aroused
something in him. That was the eternal complaint, the old, old cry!
Whenever he heard it, the world of the poor man became even more plainly
visible for what it was--and he ought to know it! It was a frightful
abyss that he looked down into; it was bottomless; and it seemed forever
to reveal fresh depths. And he was right--he was right.

He sat carelessly drawing something for the child on a scrap of paper,
thinking of things quite different; but involuntarily the drawing took
shape from within his hand. "That's money, that's money!" cried Young
Lasse, clapping his hands. Pelle waked up and examined his drawing; sure
enough, there was a rough sketch of a ten-kroner note! It flattered his
father's heart that the child had recognized it; and he was seized by
the desire to see how like it was. But where in all the world was he to
get a "blue"? Pelle, who at this time superintended the collection and
distributing of millions, did not possess ten kroner! The pipe! The
pipe! That was what the boy got his idea from! His old Christmas
present, queerly enough, had a ten-kroner note on the bowl--and that
gave him an idea! He got it out and compared it; it was a long time
since he had smoked the pipe--he couldn't afford it. He began eagerly to
fill in the drawing while Young Lasse stood by, amusing himself by
watching the rapid movements of the pencil. "Father is clever--Father
draw!" he said, and wanted to wake his sister so that she could take
part in the game.

No, the result was not good! The design would have to be cut in wood and
printed in color for the appearance really to be similar. But then Ellen
came home, and he hid it away.  "Won't you give up going out to work?"
he said. "I'll provide what is absolutely necessary."

"Why?" she retorted resolutely. "I'm not too good to do anything!" There
was no tone in her voice from which he could elicit anything; so he got
ready to go to the meeting.

Now, when Ellen went out to work, he ran home as often as he had time in
order to look after the children. He had obtained a piece of hard wood
and a ten-kroner note. With great care he transferred the design onto
the wood, and began to engrave it while he sat there chattering to the
children. This task occupied unused faculties; it engrossed him as an
artistic exercise, which lingered at the back of his mind and
automatically continued to carry itself out, even when he was away from
home. This work filled his mind with a peculiar beauty so long as he was
engaged on it. A warm, blissful world was evoked by the sight of this
ten-kroner note, which shone ever more plainly out of the darkness and
swept all privations aside. When Pelle sat at this work his mind soared
above all oppression as though intoxicated; unhappy things no longer
existed for him. He became an optimist and mentally made Ellen all sorts
of costly presents.

It was all fundamentally so simple--it was only a misunderstanding--
nothing more! He must speak to her, and she would see at once what a
happy life they were going to live--if only they held out. Silence had
filled her with resentment. Fortune! Fortune! It was nearer than ever
now, greater and more splendid than on that other occasion when it had
knocked at their door! Why, he did not know--that did not seem very
clear!

But when he heard her step on the stairs his dream was shattered. He was
awake. He concealed his work, ashamed to think that she should come home
from work and find him at play.

At times he was oppressed by a feeling of the unattainable in his
relations with Ellen. Even to himself he could not explain the
contradiction between the constant longing for more ample and stable
conditions, for triumph and victory, and his impotency at home, where
his fortunes were declining. He wearied himself in trying to puzzle it
out, and he was seized by a desire that he might become indifferent to
the whole matter. He felt no inclination to drink, but none the less
something was working convulsively within him; a certain indifference as
to his own welfare, causing him to run risks, not caring whether he
might not commit some stupidity that would do him harm. And at such
times a voice cried loudly within him, especially when he was confronted
by the bitter utterances of want. "That is my old complaint," he
thought, and he became observant. In his childhood it had been a sort of
seizure; now it had become a voice.



XXXII


Early one morning Pelle wandered into the city. He had risen before
Ellen, in order to avoid the painfulness of sitting down to breakfast
with her. Ellen tried all sorts of ruses in order to give him a proper
breakfast, and it was not difficult to persuade his stomach; but
afterward he felt ashamed that he should have been cared for at the cost
of others; and cunning though he was too, he could not get the better of
her save by slipping away while she was still asleep.

His fasting condition endowed the city, and the whole of life, with a
curiously unsubstantial aspect. Before him lay a long day full of
terrific labors, and behind him was the fresh triumph of the day before.

As matters now stood, the employers in the iron industry had conceived
the cunning idea of founding a blackleg Union for smiths and mechanics,
and of giving it a name closely resembling that of the genuine Union.
Then they sent circulars to the men, stating that work would be resumed
on the following day. Many of the men were not accustomed to read, and
regarded the circular as an order from their own Union, while others
were enticed by the high wages offered by the new society. There was
great confusion among the workers of these trades. As soon as the trick
was exposed every respectable man drew back; but there was a great deal
of disappointment, and they felt horribly ashamed before their comrades.

Pelle was furious at this trick, which affected him more especially, as
the leader in open battle; he had suffered a defeat, and he meditated
revenge. In spite of all the efforts of the pickets, it was not possible
to procure a full list of the strikebreakers; his chagrin on this
account burned in his heart, like a shameful sense of impotency;
hitherto he had been noted for getting to the bottom of anything he
undertook! He resolved then and there to meet ruse with ruse. He set a
trap for his opponents, so that they themselves should deliver the
strikebreakers into his hands. One morning he published his list in
_The Working Man_ with the proud remark, "Look, the enemy has no
more!" Did the employers really fall into the trap, or was the fate of
the strike-breakers really indifferent to them? Next morning their organ
protested, and gave the number of the black-legs and their names into
the bargain!

This was a smack! A good one this; it brought a light to the thin,
impassive faces. There was an answer to the trick of the other day! This
Pelle was a deuce of a fellow! Three cheers for "Lightning Pelle!" Hip,
hip, hurrah!

Pelle was the deuce of a fellow as he strode along ruddy and full of
pugnacity, with the echoes from the side-streets and the tenement-houses
mingled with his own vigorous footsteps. Streets and houses were white
with the night's hoar frost, and overhead the air was full of a peculiar
glow that came from the city--a light flowing from hidden sources. He
had left all his cares at home; on every hand working-folk were greeting
him, and his greeting in return was like an inspiriting song. He did not
know them, but they knew him! The feeling that his work--however deep
the scars it might leave--was arousing gratitude, had an uplifting
effect upon him.

The city was in its morning mood. The lock-out lay like a paralyzing
hand upon everything; business was slack, and the middle classes were
complaining, but there was no prospect of peace; both sides were
irreconcilable. The workers had lost nothing through the rash cessation
of the masons. Sympathy for the lower classes had become a political
principle; and contributions were still pouring in from the country.
Considerable sums came from abroad. The campaign was now costing the
workers half a million kroner a week; and the help from outside was like
a drop in the ocean. But it had the effect of a moral support, and it
stimulated the self-taxation to which all were subject. The hundred
thousand households of the poor parted with their last possessions in
order to continue the struggle; they meant to force a decision that
should affect their whole future. The employers tried to hinder the
great National Federation by calling the attention of the authorities
to an ancient statute concerning mendicancy; but that merely aroused
merriment. A little laughter over such expedients was permissible.

The workers had become accustomed to starvation. They went no more into
the forest, but strolled thoughtfully through the streets like people
who have too much time on their hands, so that the city's face wore a
peculiar stamp of meditative poverty. Their loitering steps aroused no
echo, and in the houses the quietness gave one food for reflection. The
noisy, ever-hungry children were scattered over the face of the country
--they at least had plenty to eat. But the place was empty for the lack
of them!

Pelle met several squads of workers; they were on the way to the various
roll-calls. They raised their heads as he passed; his footsteps echoed
loudly enough for all! It was the hope and the will of forty thousand
men that passed there--Pelle was the expression of them all. They stared
at his indomitable figure, and drew themselves up. "A devil of a chap!"
they told one another joyfully; "he looks as if he could trample 'em all
underfoot! Look at him--he scarcely makes way for that great loaded
wagon! Long live Pelle, boys!"

The tavern-keepers stood on their cellar stairs gaping up at the morning
sky--this was a time of famine for them! In the tavern windows hung
cards with the inscription: "Contributions received here for the locked-
out workers!"

On the Queen Luise Bridge Pelle encountered a pale, fat little man in a
shabby coat. He had flabby features and a great red nose. "Good morning,
General!" cried Pelle gaily; the man made a condescending movement with
his hand. This was _The Working Man's_ man of straw; a sometime
capitalist, who for a small weekly wage was, as far as the public was
concerned, the responsible editor of the paper. He served various terms
of imprisonment for the paper, and for a further payment of five kroner
a week he also worked out in prison the fines inflicted on the paper.
When he was not in jail he kept himself alive by drinking. He suffered
from megalomania, and considered that he led the whole labor movement;
for which reason he could not bear Pelle.

In the great court-yard of _The Working Man_ building the dockers
were assembled to answer the roll. The president of their Union met
Pelle in the doorway; he was the very man whom Pelle and Howling Peter
had rescued down by the harbor--now he was working for the new ideas!

"Well, how goes it?" asked Pelle, shaking his hand.

"Splendid! A thousand men all but seven!"

"But where's the joyful Jacob? Is he ill?"

"He's in jail," replied the other gloomily. "He couldn't bear to see his
old folks starving--so he broke into a grocery, he and his brother--and
now they're both in prison."

For a moment the lines on Pelle's forehead were terribly deep and
gloomy; he stood gazing blindly into space; the radiant expression left
his countenance, which was filled with a pitying gravity. The docker
stared at him--was he going to sleep on his feet? But then he pulled
himself together.

"Well, comrades, are you finding the days too long?" he cried gaily.

"Ach, as for that! It's the first time one's had the time to get to know
one's own wife and children properly!" they replied. "But for all that
it would be fine to get busy again!"

It was obvious that idleness was at last beginning to depress them;
there was a peculiar pondering expression on their impassive features,
and their eyes turned to him with a persistent questioning. They asked
that this undertaking of his should be settled one way or the other.
They were not weakening; they always voted for the continuance of the
campaign, for that which they sought depended thereon; but they gazed
into his face for a look that might promise success.

He had to answer many singular questions; privation engendered in the
most fantastic ideas, which revealed the fact that their quiet,
controlled bearing was the product of the observation and the energy of
the many.

"Shall we deprive the rich of all their wealth and power?" asked one
man, after long pondering and gazing at Pelle. The struggle seemed to
have dealt hardly with him; but it had lit a spark in his eyes.

"Yes, we are going now to take our rights as men, and we shall demand
that the worker shall be respected," Pelle replied. "Then there'll be no
more talk of poor man and gentleman!"

"But suppose they try to get on top of us again? We must make short work
of them, so that they can't clamber on our backs and ride us again."

"Do you want to drive them all onto the Common and shoot them? That's
not necessary," said his neighbor. "When this is settled no one will
dare to take the food out of our mouths again."

"Won't there be any more poverty then?" asked the first speaker, turning
to Pelle.

"No, once we get our affairs properly in going order; then there will be
comfort in every home. Don't you read your paper?"

Yes, he read it, but there was no harm in hearing the great news
confirmed by Pelle himself. And Pelle could confirm it, because he never
harbored a doubt. It had been difficult to get the masses to grasp the
new conception of things--as difficult as to move the earth! Something
big must happen in return!

A few of the men had brought out sandwiches and began to eat them as
they debated. "Good digestion!" said Pelle, nodding farewell to them.
His mouth was watering, and he remembered that he had had nothing to eat
or drink. But he had no time to think about it; he must go to Stolpe to
arrange about the posting of the pickets.

Over the way stood Marie in a white cap, with a basket over her arm; she
nodded to him, with rosy cheeks. Transplantation had made her grow;
every time he saw her she was more erect and prettier.

At his parents'-in-law the strictest economy prevailed. All sorts of
things--household possessions--had disappeared from that once so
comfortable home; but there was no lack of good spirits. Stolpe was
pottering about waiting for his breakfast; he had been at work early
that morning.

"What's the girl doing?" he asked. "We never see her now."

"She has such a lot to do," said Pelle apologetically. "And now she's
going out to work as well."

"Well, well, with things as they are she's not too fine to lend a hand.
But we don't really know what's amiss with her--she's a rebellious
nature! Thank God she's not a man--she would have brought dissolution
into the ranks!"

Breakfast consisted of a portion of coffee and bread-and-butter and
porridge. Madam Stolpe could not find her fine new silver coffee-
service, which her children had given her on her silver-wedding day. "I
must have put it away," she said.

"Well, well, that'll soon be found again, mother!" said Stolpe. "Now we
shall soon have better times; many fine things will make their
appearance again then, we shall see!"

"Have you been to the machine-works this morning, father-in-law?" asked
Pelle.

"Yes, I've been there. But there is nothing more for the pickets to do.
The employers have quartered all the men in the factory; they get full
board and all there. There must be a crowd of foreign strike-breakers
there--the work's in full swing."

This was an overwhelming piece of news! The iron-masters had won the
first victory! This would quickly have a most depressing effect on the
workers, when they saw that their trade could be kept going without
them.

"We must put a bridle on them," said Pelle, "or they'll get off the
course and the whole organization will fall to pieces. As for those
fellows in there, we must get a louse under their shirts somehow."

"How can we do that when they are locked in, and the police are
patrolling day and night in front of the gates? We can't even speak to
them." Stolpe laughed despairingly.

"Then some one must slink in and pretend he's in want of employment!"

Stolpe started. "As a strike-breaker? You'll never in this life get a
respectable man to do that, even if it's only in jest! I wouldn't do it
myself! A strike-breaker is a strike-breaker, turn and twist it how you
will."

"A strike-breaker, I suppose, is one who does his comrades harm. The man
who risks his skin in this way deserves another name."

"I won't admit that," said Stolpe. "That's a little too abstract for me;
anyhow, I'm not going to argue with you. But in my catechism it says
that he is a strike-breaker who accepts employment where assistance is
forbidden--and that I stick to!"

Pelle might talk as much as he liked; the old man would not budge an
inch. "But it would be another matter if you wanted to do it yourself,"
said Stolpe. "You don't have to account to any one for what you do--you
just do what comes into your head."

"I have to account to the Cause for my doings," said Pelle sharply, "and
for that very reason I want to do it myself!"

Stolpe contracted his arms and stretched them out again. "Ah, it would
be good to have work again!" he cried suddenly. "Idleness eats into
one's limbs like the gout. And now there's the rent, mother--where the
devil are we to get that? It must be paid on the nail on Saturday,
otherwise out we go--so the landlord says."

"We'll soon find that, father!" said Madam Stolpe. "Don't you lose
heart!"

Stolpe looked round the room. "Yes, there's still a bit to take, as
Hunger said when he began on the bowels. But listen, Pelle--do you know
what? I'm your father-in-law-to be sure--but you haven't a wife like
mine!"

"I'm contented with Ellen as she is," said Pelle.

There was a knock; it was Stolpe's brother, the carpenter. He looked
exhausted; he was thin and poorly dressed; his eyes were surrounded by
red patches. He did not look at those whose hands he took.

"Sit down, brother," said Stolpe, pushing a chair toward him.

"Thanks--I must go on again directly. It was--I only wanted to tell you
--well...." He stared out of the window.

"Is anything wrong at home?"

"No, no, not that exactly. I just wanted to say--I want to give notice
that I'm deserting!" he cried suddenly.

Stolpe sprang to his feet; he was as white as chalk. "You think what you
are doing!" he cried threateningly.

"I've had time enough to think. They are starving, I tell you--and
there's got to be an end of it. I only wanted to tell you beforehand so
that you shouldn't hear it from others--after all, you're my brother."

"Your brother--I'm your brother no longer! You do this and we've done
with one another!" roared Stolpe, striking the table. "But you won't do
it, you shan't do it! God damn me, I couldn't live through the shame of
seeing the comrades condemning my own brother in the open street! And I
shall be with them! I shall be the first to give you a kick, if you are
my brother!" He was quite beside himself.

"Well, well, we can still talk it over," said the carpenter quietly.
"But now you know--I didn't want to do anything behind your back." And
then he went.

Stolpe paced up and down the room, moving from one object to another. He
picked them up and put them down again, quite unthinkingly. His hands
were trembling violently; and finally he went to the other room and shut
himself in. After a time his wife entered the room. "You had better go,
Pelle! I don't think father is fit for company to-day. He's lying there
quite gray in the face--if he could only cry even! Oh, those two
brothers have always been so much to each other till now! They wore so
united in everything!"

Pelle went; he was thinking earnestly. He could see that Stolpe, in his
integrity, would consider it his duty to treat his brother more harshly
than others, dearly as he loved him; perhaps he himself would undertake
the picketing of the place where his brother went to work.

Out by the lakes he met a squad of pickets who were on their way out of
the city; he accompanied them for some distance, in order to make
certain arrangements. Across the road a young fellow came out of a
doorway and slunk round the corner. "You there, stop!" cried one of the
comrades. "There he is--the toff!" A few pickets followed him down
Castle Street and came back leading him among them. A crowd began to
form round the whole party, women and children speedily joining it.

"You are not to do anything to him," said Pelle decisively.

"God knows no one wants to touch him!" they retorted. For a while they
stood silently gazing at him, as though weighing him in their minds;
then one after another spat at him, and they went their way. The fellow
went silently into a doorway and stood there wiping the spittle from his
face with his sleeve. Pelle followed him in order to say a kind word to
him and lead him back into the organization. The lad pulled himself up
hastily as Pelle approached.

"Are you coming to spit at me?" he said contemptuously. "You forgot it
before--why didn't you do it then?"

"I don't spit at people," said Pelle, "but your comrades are right to
despise you. You have left them in the lurch. Come with me, and I'll
enter you in the organization again, and no one shall molest you."

"I am to go about as a culprit and be taunted--no, thanks!"

"Do you prefer to injure your own comrades?"

"I ask for permission to look after my old mother. The rest of you can
go to the devil. My mother isn't going to hang about courtyards singing,
and picking over the dustbins, while her son plays the great man! I
leave that to certain other people!"

Pelle turned crimson. He knew this allusion was meant for Father Lasse;
the desperate condition of the old man was lurking somewhere in his mind
like an ingrowing grief, and now it came to the surface. "Dare you
repeat what you said?" he growled, pressing close up to the other.

"And if I were married I shouldn't let my wife earn my daily bread for
me--I should leave that to the pimps!"

Oho! That was like the tattlers, to blacken a man from behind! Evidently
they were spreading all sorts of lying rumors about him, while he had
placed all that he possessed at their disposal. Now Pelle was furious;
the leader could go to hell! He gave the fellow a few sound boxes on the
ear, and asked him which he would rather do--hold his mouth or take some
more?

Morten appeared in the doorway--this had happened in the doorway of the
house in which he worked. "This won't do!" he whispered, and he drew
Pelle away with him. Pelle could make no reply; he threw himself on
Morten's bed. His eyes were still blazing with anger at the insult, and
he needed air.

"Things are going badly here now," said Morten, looking at him with a
peculiar smile.

"Yes, I know very well you can't stand it--all the same, they must hold
together."

"And supposing they don't get better conditions?"

"Then they must accept the consequences. That's better than the whole
Cause should go to the wall!"

"Are those the new ideas? I think the ignorant have always had to take
the consequences! And there has never been lacking some one to spit on
them!" said Morten sadly.

"But, listen!" cried Pelle, springing to his feet. "You'll please not
blame me for spitting at anybody--the others did that!" He was very near
losing his temper again, but Morten's quiet manner mastered him.

"The others--that was nothing at all! But it was you who spat seven
times over into the poor devil's face--I was standing in the shop, and
saw it."

Pelle stared at him, speechless. Was this the truth-loving Morten who
stood there lying?

"You say you saw me spit at him?"

Morten nodded. "Do you want to accept the applause and the honor, and
sneak out of the beastliness and the destruction? You have taken a great
responsibility on yourself, Pelle. Look, how blindly they follow you--at
the sight of your bare face, I'm tempted to say. For I'm not myself
quite sure that you give enough of yourself. There is blood on your
hands--but is any of it your own blood?"

Pelle sat there heavily pondering; Morten's words always forced his
thoughts to follow paths they had never before known. But now he
understood him; and a dark shadow passed over his face, which left its
traces behind it. "This business has cost me my home," he said quietly.
"Ellen cares nothing for me now, and my children are being neglected,
and are drifting away from me. I have given up splendid prospects for
the future; I go hungry every day, and I have to see my old father in
want and wretchedness! I believe no one can feel as homeless and lonely
and forsaken as I do! So it has cost me something--you force me to say
it myself." He smiled at Morten, but there were tears in his eyes.

"Forgive me, my dear friend!" said Morten. "I was afraid you didn't
really know what you were doing. Already there are many left on the
field of battle, and it's grievous to see them--especially if it should
all lead to nothing."

"Do you condemn the Movement, then? According to you, I can never do
anything wise!"

"Not if it leads to an end! I myself have dreamed of leading them on to
fortune--in my own way; but it isn't a way after their own heart. You
have power over them--they follow you blindly--lead them on, then! But
every wound they receive in battle should be yours as well--otherwise
you are not the right man for the place. And are you certain of the
goal?"

Yes, Pelle was certain of that. "And we are reaching it!" he cried,
suddenly inspired. "See how cheerfully they approve of everything, and
just go forward!"

"But, Pelle!" said Morten, with a meaning smile, laying his hand on his
shoulder, "a leader is not Judge Lynch. Otherwise the parties would
fight it out with clubs!"

"Ah, you are thinking of what happened just now!" said Pelle. "That had
nothing to do with the Movement! He said my father was going about the
backyards fishing things out of dustbins--so I gave him a few on the
jaw. I have the same right as any one else to revenge an insult." He did
not mention the evil words concerning Ellen; he could not bring himself
to do so.

"But that is true," said Morten quietly.

"Then why didn't you tell me?" asked Pelle.

"I thought you knew it. And you have enough to struggle against as it
is--you've nothing to reproach yourself with."

"Perhaps you can tell me where he could be found?" said Pelle, in a low
voice.

"He is usually to be found in this quarter."

Pelle went. His mind was oppressed; all that day fresh responsibilities
had heaped themselves upon him; a burden heavy for one man to bear. Was
he to accept the responsibility for all that the Movement destroyed as
it progressed, simply because he had placed all his energies and his
whole fortune at its disposal? And now Father Lasse was going about as a
scavenger. He blushed for shame--yet how could he have prevented it? Was
he to be made responsible for the situation? And now they were spitting
upon Ellen--that was the thanks he got!

He did not know where to begin his search, so he went into the courts
and backyards and asked at random. People were crowding into a courtyard
in Blaagaard Street, so Pelle entered it. There was a missionary there
who spoke with the sing-song accent of the Bornholmer, in whose eyes was
the peculiar expression which Pelle remembered as that of the "saints"
of his childhood. He was preaching and singing alternately. Pelle gazed
at him with eyes full of reminiscence, and in his despairing mood he was
near losing control of himself and bellowing aloud as in his childish
years when anything touched him deeply. This was the very lad who had
said something rude about Father Lasse, and whom he--young as he was--
had kicked so that he became ruptured. He was able to protect his father
in those days, at all events!

He went up to the preacher and held out his hand. "It's Peter Kune! So
you are here?"

The man looked at him with a gaze that seemed to belong to another
world. "Yes, I had to come over here, Pelle!" he said significantly. "I
saw the poor wandering hither from the town and farther away, so I
followed them, so that no harm should come to them. For you poor are the
chosen people of God, who must wander and wander until they come into
the Kingdom. Now the sea has stayed you here, and you can go no farther;
so you think the Kingdom must lie here. God has sent me to tell you that
you are mistaken. And you, Pelle, will you join us now? God is waiting
and longing for you; he wants to use you for the good of all these
little ones." And he held Pelle's hand in his, gazing at him
compellingly; perhaps he thought Pelle had come in order to seek the
shelter of his "Kingdom."

Here was another who had the intention of leading the poor to the land
of fortune! But Pelle had his own poor. "I have done what I could for
them," he said self-consciously.

"Yes, I know that well; but that is not the right way, the way you are
following! You do not give them the bread of life!"

"I think they have more need of black bread. Look at them--d'you think
they get too much to eat?"

"And can you give them food, then? I can give them the joy of God, so
that they forget their hunger for a while. Can you do more than make
them feel their hunger even more keenly?"

"Perhaps I can. But I've got no time to talk it over now; I came to look
for my old father."

"Your father, I have met in the streets lately, with a sack on his back
--he did not look very cheerful. And I met him once over yonder with Sort
the shoemaker; he wanted to come over here and spend his old age with
his son."

Pelle said nothing, but ran off. He clenched his fists in impotent wrath
as he rushed out of the place. People went about jeering at him, one
more eagerly than the other, and the naked truth was that he--young and
strong and capable as he was in his calling--could not look after his
wife and children and his old father, even when he had regular work.
Yes, so damnable were the conditions that a man in the prime of his
youth could not follow the bidding of nature and found a family without
plunging those that were dependent on him into want and misery! Curse it
all, the entire system ought to be smashed! If he had power over it he
would want to make the best use of it!

In Stone Street he heard a hoarse, quavering voice singing in the
central courtyard of one of the houses. It was Father Lasse. The rag-bag
lay near him, with the hook stuck into it. He was clasping the book with
one hand, while with the other he gesticulated toward the windows as he
sang. The song made the people smile, and he tried to make it still more
amusing by violent gestures which ill-suited his pitiful appearance.

It cut Pelle to the heart to see his wretched condition. He stepped into
a doorway and waited until his father should have finished his song. At
certain points in the course of the song Lasse took off his cap and
smacked it against his head while he raised one leg in the air. He very
nearly lost his equilibrium when he did this, and the street urchins who
surrounded him pulled at his ragged coat-tails and pushed one another
against him. Then he stood still, spoke to them in his quavering voice,
and took up his song again.

  "O listen to my song, a tale of woe:
  I came into the world as do so many:
  My mother bore me in the street below,
  And as for father, why, I hadn't any!
  Till now I've faithfully her shame concealed:
  I tell it now to make my song complete.
  O drop a shilling down that I may eat,
  For eat I must, or soon to Death I yield.

  "Into this world without deceit I came,
  That's why you see me wear no stockings now.
  A poor old man who drudges anyhow,
  I have a wealthy brother, more's the shame.
  But he and I are opposites in all;
  While I rake muck he rakes his money up:
  Much gold is his and many a jewelled cup,
  And all he fancies, that is his at call.

  "My brother, he has built a palace splendid,
  And silver harness all his horses bear.
  Full twenty crowns an hour he gets, I hear,
  By twiddling thumbs and wishing day were ended!
  Gold comes to him as dirt to Lasse, blast him!
  And everywhere he turns there money lies.
  'Twill all be mine when once my brother dies--
  If I but live--so help me to outlast him!

  "Luck tried to help me once, but not again!
  Weary with toiling I was like to swoon.
  When God let fall milk-porridge 'stead of rain!
  And I, poor donkey, hadn't brought a spoon!
  Yes, Heaven had meant to help me, me accurst!
  I saw my luck but couldn't by it profit!
  Quickly my brother made a banquet of it--
  Ate my milk-porridge till he nearly burst!

  "Want bears the sceptre here on earth below,
  And life is always grievous to the poor.
  But God, who rules the world, and ought to know,
  Says all will get their rights when life is o'er.
  Therefore, good people, hear me for His sake--
  A trifle for the poor man's coffin give,
  Wherein his final journey he must take;
  Have mercy on my end while yet I live!

  "Yet one thing God has given me--my boy.
  And children are the poor man's wealth, I know.
  O does he think of me, my only joy,
  Who have no other treasure here below?
  Long time have we been parted by mishap:
  I'm tired of picking rags and sick of song;
  God who sees all reward you all ere long:
  O drop a trifle in poor Lasse's cap!"

When Lasse had finished his song the people clapped and threw down coins
wrapped in paper, and he went round picking them up. Then he took his
sack on his back and stumped away, bent almost double, through the
gateway.

"Father!" cried Pelle desperately. "Father!"

Lasse stood up with a jerk and peered through the gateway with his
feeble eyes. "Is that you, lad? Ach, it sounded like your voice when you
were a child, when any one was going to hurt you and you came to me for
help." The old man was trembling from head to foot. "And now I suppose
you've heard the whole thing and are ashamed of your old father?" He
dared not look at his son.

"Father, you must come home with me now--do you hear?" said Pelle, as
they entered the street together.

"No, that I can't do! There's not enough even for your own mouths--no,
you must let me go my own way. I must look after myself--and I'm doing
quite well."

"You are to come home with me--the children miss you, and Ellen asks
after you day after day."

"Yes, that would be very welcome.... But I know what folks would think
if I were to take the food out of your children's mouths! Besides--I'm a
rag-picker now! No, you mustn't lead me into temptation."

"You are to come with me now--never mind about anything else. I can't
bear this, father!"

"Well, then, in God's name, I must publish my shame before you, lad--if
you won't let me be! See now, I'm living with some one--with a woman. I
met her out on the refuse-heaps, where she was collecting rubbish, just
as I was. I had arranged a corner for myself out there--for the night,
until I could find a lodging--and then she said I was to go home with
her--it wouldn't be so cold if there were two of us. Won't you come home
with me, so that you can see where we've both got to? Then you can see
the whole thing and judge for yourself. We live quite close."

They turned into a narrow lane and entered a gateway. In the backyard,
in a shed, which looked like the remains of an old farm cottage, was
Lasse's home. It looked as though it had once been used as a fuel-shed;
the floor was of beaten earth and the roof consisted of loose boards.
Under the roof cords were stretched, on which rags, paper, and other
articles from the dustbins were hung to dry. In one corner was a mean-
looking iron stove, on which a coffee-pot was singing, mingling its
pleasant fragrance with the musty stench of the rubbish. Lasse stretched
himself to ease his limbs.

"Ach, I'm quite stiff!" he said, "and a little chilled. Well, here you
see my little mother--and this is my son, Pelle, my boy." He contentedly
stroked the cheeks of his new life's partner.

This was an old, bent, withered woman, grimy and ragged; her face was
covered with a red eruption which she had probably contracted on the
refuse-heaps. But a pair of kind eyes looked out of it, which made up
for everything else.

"So that is Pelle!" she said, looking at him. "So that's what he is
like! Yes, one has heard his name; he's one of those who will astonish
the world, although he hasn't red hair."

Pelle had to drink a cup of coffee. "You can only have bread-and-butter
with it; we old folks can't manage anything else for supper," said
Lasse. "We go to bed early, both of us, and one sleeps badly with an
over-full stomach."

"Well, now, what do you think of our home?" said Father Lasse, looking
proudly about him. "We pay only four kroner a month for it, and all the
furniture we get for nothing--mother and I have brought it all here
from the refuse-heaps, every stick of it, even the stove. Just look at
this straw mattress, now--it's really not bad, but the rich folks threw
it away! And the iron bedstead--we found that there; I've tied a leg to
it. And yesterday mother came in carrying those curtains, and hung them
up. A good thing there are people who have so much that they have to
throw it on the dust-heap!"

Lasse was quite cheerful; things seemed to be going well with him; and
the old woman looked after him as if he had been the love of her youth.
She helped him off with his boots and on with his list slippers, then
she brought a long pipe out of the corner, which she placed between his
lips; he smiled, and settled down to enjoy himself.

"Do you see this pipe, Pelle? Mother saved up for this, without my
knowing anything about it--she has got such a long one I can't light it
myself! She says I look like a regular pope!" Lasse had to lean back in
his chair while she lit the pipe.

When Pelle left, Lasse accompanied him across the yard. "Well, what do
you think of it?" he said.

"I am glad to see things are going so well with you," said Pelle humbly.

Lasse pressed his hand. "Thanks for that! I was afraid you would be
strict about it. As quite a little boy, you used to be deucedly strict
in that direction. And see now, of course, we could marry--there is no
impediment in either case. But that costs money--and the times are hard.
As for children coming, and asking to be brought into the world
respectably, there's no danger of that."

Pelle could not help smiling; the old man was so much in earnest.

"Look in on us again soon--you are always welcome," said Lasse. "But you
needn't say anything of this to Ellen--she is so peculiar in that
respect!"



XXXIII


No, Pelle never told Ellen anything now. She had frozen his speech. She
was like the winter sun; the side that was turned away from her received
no share of her warmth. Pelle made no claims on her now; he had long ago
satisfied himself that she could not respond to the strongest side of
his nature, and he had accustomed himself to the idea of waging his
fight alone. This had made him harder, but also more of a man.

At home the children were ailing--they did not receive proper care, and
the little girl was restless, especially during the night. The
complaining and coughing of the children made the home uncomfortable.
Ellen was dumb; like an avenging fate she went about her business and
cared for the children. Her expressive glance never encountered his;
although he often felt that her eyes were resting on him. She had grown
thin of late, which lent her beauty, a fanatical glow, and a touch of
malice. There were times when he would have given his life for an
honest, burning kiss as a token of this woman's love.

He understood her less and less, and was often filled with inexplicable
anxiety concerning her. She suffered terribly through the condition of
the children; and when she quieted them, with a bleeding heart, her
voice had a fateful sound that made him shudder. Sometimes he was driven
home by the idea that she might have made away with herself and the
children.

One day, when he had hurried home with this impression in his mind, she
met him smiling and laid on the table five and twenty kroner.

"What's that?" asked Pelle, in amazement.

"I've won that in the lottery!" she said.

So that was why her behavior had been so peculiarly mysterious during
the last few days--as though there had been something which he must not
on any account get to know. She had ventured her last shilling and was
afraid he would find it out!

"But where did you get the money?" he asked.

"I borrowed it from my old friend, Anna--we went in for it together. Now
we can have the doctor and medicine for the children, and we ourselves
can have anything we want," she said.

This money worked a transformation in Ellen, and their relations were
once more warmly affectionate. Ellen was more lovingly tender in her
behavior than ever before, and was continually spoiling him. Something
had come over her that was quite new; her manner showed a sort of
contrition, which made her gentle and loving, and bound Pelle to his
home with the bonds of ardent desire. Now once more he hurried home. He
took her manner to be an apology for her harsh judgment of him; for
here, too, she was different, and began to interest herself in his work
for the Cause, inciting him, by all sorts of allusions, to continue it.
It was evident that in spite of her apparent coldness she had kept
herself well informed concerning it. Her manner underwent a most
extraordinary transformation. She, the hard, confident Ellen, became
mild and uncertain in her manner. She no longer kept sourly out of
things, and had learned to bow her head good-naturedly. She was no
longer so self-righteous.

One day, toward evening, Pelle was sitting at home before the looking-
glass, and shaving himself; he had cut off the whole of his fine big
moustache and was now shaving off the last traces of it. Ellen was
amused to see how his face was altered. "I can scarcely recognize you!"
she said. He had thought she would have opposed its removal, and have
put his moustache before the Cause; but she was pleasant about the whole
matter. He could not at all understand this alteration in her.

When he had finished he stood up and went over to Young Lasse, but the
child cried out in terror. Then he put on his old working-clothes, made
his face and head black, and made his way to the machine-works.

The factory was in full swing now; they were working alternate shifts,
day and night, with the help of interned strike-breakers, the "locked-
in" workers, as the popular wit called them.

The iron-masters had followed up their victory and had managed to set
yet another industry in motion again. If this sort of thing went much
further the entire iron industry would one day be operated without the
locked-out workers, who could stand outside and look on. But now a blow
was about to be struck! Pelle's heart was full of warmth and joy as he
left home, and he felt equal for anything.

He slipped through the pickets unnoticed, and succeeded in reaching the
door of the factory. "They're asleep--the devils!" he thought angrily,
and was very near spoiling the whole thing by administering a reprimand.
He knocked softly on the door and was admitted. The doorkeeper took him
to the foreman, who was fortunately a German.

Pelle was given employment in the foundry, with very good wages. He was
also promised that he should receive a bonus of twenty-five kroner when
he had been there a certain time. "That's the Judas money," said the
foreman, grinning. "And then as soon as the lock-out is over you'll of
course be placed in the forefront of the workers. Now you are quite
clear about this--that you can't get out of here until then. If you want
to send something to your wife, we'll see to that."

He was shown to a corner where a sack full of straw lay on the floor;
this was his dwelling-place and his refuge for the night.

In the factory the work went on as best it might. The men rushed at
their work as in a frolic, drifted away again, lounged about the works,
or stood here and there in groups, doing as they chose. The foremen did
not dare to speak to them; if they made a friendly remark they were met
with insults. The workers were taking advantage of the fact that they
were indispensable; their behavior was sheer tyranny, and they were
continually harping on the fact that they would just as soon go as stay.
These words made them the masters of the situation.

They were paid big wages and received abundance to eat and to drink. And
the working day or shift was shorter than usual. They did not understand
the real significance of this change of life, but went about playing the
bally. But there was a peculiar hesitation visible in their faces, as
though they were not quite sure of one another. The native workers, who
were in the minority, kept to themselves--as though they felt an inward
contempt for those fellows who had travelled so far to fish in the
troubled waters of their distress.

They were working three shifts, each of eight hours' duration.

"Oho!" thought Pelle, "why, this, good God, is the eight-hours' day!
This is surely the State of the future!" At the very moment of his
arrival one shift was completed, and the men immediately proceeded to
make the most infernal uproar, hammering on metal and shouting for food
and brandy. A huge cauldron full of beef and potatoes was dragged in.
Pelle was told off to join a mess of ten men.

"Eat, matey!" they said. "Hungry, ain't you? How long had you been out
of work before you gave in?"

"Three months," said Pelle.

"Then you must be peckish. Here with the beef! More beef here!" they
cried, to the cook's mate. "You can keep the potatoes and welcome! We've
eaten enough potatoes all our lives!"--"This is Tom Tiddler's land, with
butter sauce into the bargain! This is how we've always said it ought to
be--good wages and little to do, lots to eat and brandy to drink! Now
you can see it was a good thing we held out till it came to this--now we
get our reward! Your health! Here, damme, what's your name, you there?"

"Karlsen," said Pelle.

"Here's to you, Karlsen! Well, and how are things looking outside? Have
you seen my wife lately? She's easy to recognize--she's a woman with
seven children with nothing inside their ribs! Well, how goes it with
the strikers?"

After eating they sat about playing cards, and drinking, or they loafed
about and began to quarrel; they were a sharp-tongued crew; they went
about actuated by a malicious longing to sting one another. "Come and
have a game with us, mate--and have a drink!" they cried to Pelle. "Damn
it all, how else should a man kill the time in this infernal place?
Sixteen hours' sleep a day--no, that's more than a chap can do with!"

There was a deafening uproar, as though the place had been a vast
tavern, with men shouting and abusing one another; each contributed to
the din as though he wanted to drown it by his own voice. They were able
to buy drink in the factory, and they drank what they earned. "That's
their conscience," thought Pelle. "At heart they are good comrades."
There seemed to be some hope of success for his audacious maneuver. A
group of Germans took no part in the orgy, but had set up a separate
colony in the remotest corner of the hall. They were there to make
money!

In one of the groups a dispute broke out between the players; they were
reviling one another in no measured language, and their terms of abuse
culminated in the term "strike-breaker." This made them perfectly
furious. It was as though an abscess had broken; all their bottled-up
shame and anger concerning their infamous position burst forth. They
began to use knives and tools on one another. The police, who kept watch
on the factory day and night, were called in, and restored tranquillity.
A wounded smith was bandaged in the office, but no arrest was made. Then
a sudden slackness overcame them.

They constantly crowded round Pelle. He was a new man; he came from
outside. "How are things going out there?" was the constant question.

"Things are going very well out there. It's a worse lookout for us in
here," said Pelle.

"Going very well, are they? We've been told they are near giving in."

"Who told you that?"

"The bosses of the factory here."

"Then they were fooling you, in order to keep you here."

"That's a lie! And what d'you mean by saying it's a worse look-out for
us? Out with it, now!"

"We shall never get regular work again. The comrades are winning--and
when they begin work again they'll demand that we others shall be locked
out."

"The devil--and they've promised us the best positions!" cried a great
smith. "But you're a liar! That you are! And why did you come here if
they are nearly winning outside? Answer me, damn it all! A man doesn't
come slinking into this hell unless he's compelled!"

"To leave his comrades in the lurch, you might add," replied Pelle
harshly. "I wanted to see how it feels to strike the bread away from the
mouths of the starving."

"That's a lie! No one would be so wicked! You are making fools of us,
you devil!"

"Give him a thrashing," said another. "He's playing a crooked game. Are
you a spy, or what do you want here? Do you belong to those idiots
outside?"

It had been Pelle's plan to put a good face on a crooked job, and
cautiously to feel his way; but now he grew angry.

"You had better think what you're doing before you call honorable men
idiots," he retorted violently. "Do you know what you are? Swine! You
lie there eating your fill and pouring the drink down your throats and
living easy on the need of your comrades! Swine, that you are--Judases,
who have sold a good cause for dirty money! How much did you get? Five
and twenty kroner, eh? And out there they are loyally starving, so that
all of us--yes, you too--can live a little more like human beings in the
future!"

"You hold your jaw!" said the big smith. "You've no wife and children--
you can easily talk!"

"Aren't you the fellow who lives in Jaegersborg Street?" Pelle demanded.
"Perhaps you are sending what you earn to your wife and children? Then
why are they in want? Yesterday they were turned out of doors; the
organization took them in and found a roof to go over their heads--
although they were a strike-breaker's family!" Pelle himself had made
this possible.

"Send--damn and blast it all--I'll send them something! But if one lives
this hell of a life in here the bit of money one earns all goes in rot-
gut! And now you're going to get a thrashing!" The smith turned up his
shirt-sleeves so that his mighty muscles were revealed. He was no longer
reasonable, but glared at Pelle like an angry bull.

"Wait a bit," said an older man, stepping up to Pelle. "I think I've
seen you before. What is your real name, if I may make bold to ask?"

"My name? You are welcome to know it. I am Pelle."

This name produced an effect like that of an explosion. They were
dazzled. The smith's arms fell slack; he turned his head aside in shame.
Pelle was among them! They had left him in the lurch, had turned their
backs on him, and now he stood there laughing at them, not the least bit
angry with them. What was more, he had called them comrades; so he did
not despise them! "Pelle is here!" they said quietly; further and
further spread the news, and their tongues dwelt curiously on his name.
A murmur ran through the shops. "What the devil--has Pelle come?" they
cried, stumbling to their legs.  Pelle had leaped onto a great anvil.
"Silence!" he cried, in a voice of thunder; "silence!" And there was
silence in the great building. The men could hear their own deep
breathing.

The foremen came rushing up and attempted to drag him down. "You can't
make speeches here!" they cried.

"Let him speak!" said the big smith threateningly. "You aren't big
enough to stop his mouth, not by a long chalk!" He seized a hammer and
stationed himself at the foot of the anvil.

"Comrades!" Pelle began, in an easy tone, "I have been sent here to you
with greetings from those outside there--from the comrades who used to
stand next to you at work, from your friends and fellow-unionists. Where
are our old comrades?--they are asking. We have fought so many battles
by their side, we have shared good and evil with them--are we to enter
into the new conditions without them? And your wives and children are
asking after you! Outside there it is the spring! They don't understand
why they can't pack the picnic basket and go out into the forest with
father!"

"No, there's no picnic basket!" said a heavy voice.

"There are fifty thousand men accepting the situation without
grumbling," Pelle earnestly replied. "And they are asking after you--
they don't understand why you demand more than they do. Have you done
more for the movement than they have?--they ask. Or are you a lot of
dukes, that you can't quietly stand by the rank and file? And now it's
the spring out there!" he cried once more. "The poor man's winter is
past, and the bright day is coming for him! And here you go over to the
wrong side and walk into prison! Do you know what the locked-out workers
call you? They call you the locked-in workers!"

There were a few suppressed smiles at this. "That's a dam' good smack!"
they told, one another. "He made that up himself!"

"They have other names for us as well!" cried a voice defiantly.

"Yes, they have," said Pelle vigorously. "But that's because they are
hungry. People get unreasonable then, you know very well--and they
grudge other folks their food!"

They thronged about him, pressing closer and closer. His words were
scorching them, yet were doing them good. No one could hit out like
Pelle, and yet at the same time make them feel that they were decent
fellows after all. The foreign workers stood round about them, eagerly
listening, in order that they, too, might catch a little of what was
said.

Pelle had suddenly plunged into the subject of the famine, laying bare
the year-long, endless despair of their families, so that they all saw
what the others had suffered--saw really for the first time. They were
amazed that they could have endured so much, but they knew that it was
so; they nodded continually, in agreement; it was all literally true. It
was Pelle's own desperate struggle that was speaking through him now,
but the refrain of suffering ran through it all. He stood before them
radiant and confident of victory, towering indomitably over them all.

Gradually his words became keen and vigorous. He reproached them with
their disloyalty; he reminded them how dearly and bitterly they had
bought the power of cohesion, and in brief, striking phrases he awakened
the inspiriting rhythm of the Cause, that lay slumbering in every heart.
It was the old, beloved music, the well-known melody of the home and
labor. Pelle sounded it with a new accent. Like all those that forsake
their country, they had forgotten the voice of their mother--that was
why they could not find their way home; but now she was calling them,
calling them back to the old dream of a Land of Fortune! He could see it
in their faces, and with a leap he was at them: "Do you know of anything
more infamous than to sell your mother-country? That is what you have
done--before ever you set foot in it--you have sold it, with your
brothers, your wives, and your children! You have foresworn your
religion--your faith in the great Cause! You have disobeyed orders, and
have sold yourselves for a miserable Judas-price and a keg of brandy!"

He stood with his left hand on the big smith's shoulder, his right hand
he clenched and held out toward them. In that hand he was holding them;
he felt that so strongly that he did not dare to let it sink, but
continued to hold it outstretched. A murmuring wave passed through the
ranks, reaching even to the foreign workers. They were infected by the
emotion of the others, and followed the proceedings with tense
attention, although they did not understand much of the language. At
each sally they nodded and nudged one another, until now they stood
there motionless, with expectant faces; they, too, were under the spell
of his words. This was solidarity, the mighty, earth-encircling power!
Pelle recognized the look of wonder on their faces; a cold shudder ran
up and down his spine. He held them all in his hand, and now the blow
was to be struck before they had time to think matters over. Now!

"Comrades!" he cried loudly. "I told those outside that you were
honorable men, who had been led into the devil's kitchen by want, and in
a moment of misunderstanding. And I am going in to fetch your friends
and comrades out, I said. They are longing to come out to you again, to
come out into the spring! Did I lie when I spoke well of you?"

"No, that you didn't!" they replied, with one voice. "Three cheers for
Pelle! Three cheers for 'Lightning'!"

"Come along, then!" Swiftly he leaped down from the anvil and marched
through the workshop, roaring out the Socialist marching-song. They
followed him without a moment's consideration, without regret or
remorse; the rhythm of the march had seized them; it was as though the
warm spring wind were blowing them out into the freedom of Nature. The
door was unlocked, the officials of the factory were pushed aside.
Singing in a booming rhythm that seemed to revenge itself for the long
days of confinement, they marched out into North Bridge Street, with
Pelle at their head, and turned into the Labor Building.



XXXIV.


That was a glorious stroke! The employers abandoned all further idea of
running the works without the Federation. The victory was the completer
in that the trades unions gave the foreign workers their passage-money,
and sent them off before they had time for reflection. They were
escorted to the steamers, and the workers saw them off with a comradely
"Hurrah!"

Pelle was the hero of the day. His doings were discussed in all the
newspapers, and even his opponents lowered their swords before him.

He took it all as a matter of course; he was striving with all his might
toward a fresh goal. There was no excuse for soaring into the clouds;
the lock-out was still the principal fact, and a grievous and burdensome
fact, and now he was feeling its whole weight. The armies of workers
were still sauntering about the streets, while the nation was consuming
its own strength, and there was no immediate prospect of a settlement.
But one day the springs would run dry--and what then?

He was too deeply immersed in the conflict to grow dizzy by reason of a
little flattery; and the general opinion more than ever laid the
responsibility for the situation on him. If this terrible struggle
should end in defeat, then his would be the blame! And he racked his
brains to find a means of breaking down the opposition of the enemy. The
masses were still enduring the conditions with patience, but how much
longer would this last? Rumors, which intended mischief, were flying
about; one day it was said that one of the leaders, who had been
entrusted with making collections, had run off with the cash-box; while
another rumor declared that the whole body of workers had been sold to
the employers! Something must happen! But what?

       *       *       *       *       *

One afternoon he went home to see his family before going to a meeting.
The children were alone. "Where is mother?" he asked, taking Young Lasse
on his knee. Little Sister was sitting upright in her cradle, playing.

"Mother made herself fine and went out into the city," replied the
child. "Mother so fine!"

"So? Was she so fine?" Pelle went into the bed-room; he looked into the
wardrobe. Ellen's wedding-dress was not there.

"That is curious," he thought, and began to play with the children. The
little girl stretched her tiny arms toward him. He had to take her up
and sit with a child on either knee. The little girl kept on picking at
his upper lip, as though she wanted to say something. "Yes, father's
moustache has fallen off, Little Sister," said Young Lasse, in
explanation.

"Yes, it has flown away," said Pelle. "There came a wind and--phew!--
away it went!" He looked into the glass with a little grimace--that
moustache had been his pride! Then he laughed at the children.

Ellen came home breathless, as though she had been running; a tender
rosiness lay over her face and throat. She went into the bedroom with
her cloak on. Pelle followed her. "You have your wedding-dress on," he
said wonderingly.

"Yes, I wanted something done to it, so I went to the dressmaker, so
that she could see the dress on me. But run out now, I'll come directly;
I only want to put another dress on."

Pelle wanted to stay, but she pushed him toward the door. "Run away!"
she said, pulling her dress across her bosom. The tender red had spread
all over her bosom--she was so beautiful in her confusion!

After a time she came into the living-room and laid some notes on the
table before him.

"What's this again?" he cried, half startled by the sight of all this
money.

"Yes, haven't I wonderful luck? I've won in the lottery again! Haven't
you a clever wife?" She was standing behind him with her arm across his
shoulders.

Pelle sat there for a moment, bowed down as though he had received a
blow on the head. Then he pushed her arm aside and turned round to her.
"You have won again already, you say? Twice? Twice running?" He spoke
slowly and monotonously, as though he wanted to let every word sink in.

"Yes; don't you think it's very clever of me?" She looked at him
uncertainly and attempted to smile.

"But that is quite impossible!" he said heavily. "That is quite
impossible!" Suddenly he sprang to his feet, seizing her by the throat.
"You are lying! You are lying!" he cried, raging. "Will you tell me the
truth? Out with it!" He pressed her back over the table, as though he
meant to kill her. Young Lasse began to cry.

She stared at him with wondering eyes, which were full of increasing
terror. He released her and averted his face in order not to see those
eyes; they were full of the fear of death. She made no attempt to rise,
but fixed him with an intolerable gaze, like that of a beast that is
about to be killed and does not know why. He rose, and went silently
over to the children, and busied himself in quieting them. He had a
horrible feeling in his hands, almost as when once in his childhood he
had killed a young bird. Otherwise he had no feeling, except that
everything was so loathsome. It was the fault of the situation ... and
now he would go.

He realized, as he packed his things, that she was standing by the
table, crying softly. He realized it quite suddenly, but it was no
concern of his.... When he was ready and had kissed the children, a
shudder ran through her body; she stepped before him in her old
energetic way.

"Don't leave me--you mustn't leave me!" she said, sobbing. "Oh--I only
wanted to do what was best for you--and you didn't see after anything.
No, that's not a reproach--but our daily bread, Pelle! For you and the
children! I could no longer look on and see you go without everything--
especially you--Pelle! I love you so! It was out of love for you--above
all, out of love for you!"

It sounded like a song in his ears, like a strange, remote refrain; the
words he did not hear. He put her gently aside, kissed the boy once
more, and stroked his face. Ellen stood as though dead, gazing at his
movements with staring, bewildered eyes. When he went out to the door
she collapsed.

Pelle left his belongings downstairs with the mangling-woman, and he
went mechanically toward the city; he heard no sound, no echo; he went
as one asleep. His feet carried him toward the Labor House, and up the
stairs, into the room whence the campaign was directed. He took his
place among the others without knowing what he did, and there he sat,
gazing down at the green table-cloth.

The general mood showed signs of dejection. For a long time now the
bottom of the cash-box had been visible, and as more and more workers
were turned into the street the product of self-imposed taxation was
gradually declining. And the readiness of those outside the movement to
make sacrifices was rapidly beginning to fail. The public had now had
enough of the affair. Everything was failing, now they would have to see
if they could not come to some arrangement. Starvation was beginning to
thrust its grinning head among the fifty thousand men now idle. The
moment had come upon which capital was counting; the moment when the
crying of children for bread begins to break the will of the workers,
until they are ready to sacrifice honor and independence in order to
satisfy the little creatures' hunger. And the enemy showed no sign of
wishing for peace!

This knowledge had laid its mark on all the members of the Council; and
as they sat there they knew that the weal or woe of hundreds of
thousands depended on them. No one dared accept the responsibility of
making a bold proposal in this direction or that. With things as they
stood, they would have, in a week or two, to give up the fight! Then
nearly a quarter of a million human beings would have suffered torment
for nothing! A terrible apathy would be the result of that suffering and
of the defeat; it would put them back many years. But if the employers
could not long withstand the pressure which the financial world was
beginning to exert on them, they would be throwing away the victory if
they gave up the fight now.

The cleverest calculations were useless here. A blind, monstrous Pate
would prevail. Who could say that he had lifted the veil of the future
and could point out the way?

No one! And Pelle, the blazing torch, who had shown them the road
regardless of all else--he sat there drowsing as though it meant nothing
to him! Apparently he had broken down under his monstrous labors.

The secretary came in with a newspaper marked with red pencil. He passed
it to the chairman, who stared for a while at the underlined portion,
then he rose and read it out; the paper was quivering in his hands.

"About thirty working women--young and of good appearance--can during
the lock-out find a home with various bachelors. Good treatment
guaranteed. The office of the paper will give further information."

Pelle sprang up out of his half-slumber; the horrible catastrophe of his
own home was blindingly clear now! "So it's come to that!" he cried.
"Now capital has laid its fingers on our wives--now they are to turn
whore! We must fight on, fight, fight! We must strike one last blow--and
it must be a heavy one!"

"But how?" they asked.

Pelle was white with enforced calm. His mind had never been so radiantly
clear. Now Ellen should be revenged on those who took everything, even
the poor man's one ewe lamb!

"In the first place we must issue an optimistic report--this very day!"
he said, smiling. "The cash-box is nearly empty--good! Then we will
state that the workers have abundant means to carry on the fight for
another year if need be, and then we'll go for them!"

Born of anger, an old, forgotten phantasy had flashed into his mind as a
definite plan.

"Hitherto we have fought passively," he continued, "with patience as our
chief weapon! We have opposed our necessities of life to the luxuries of
the other side; and if they strike at us in order to starve us to skin
and bone and empty our homes of our last possessions, we answered them
by refusing to do the work which was necessary to their comfort! Let us
for once strike at their vital necessities! Let us strike them where
they have struck us from the beginning! In the belly! Then perhaps
they'll turn submissive! Hitherto we have kept the most important of the
workers out of the conflict--those on whom the health and welfare of the
public depend, although we ourselves have benefited nothing thereby. Why
should we bake their bread? We, who haven't the means to eat it! Why
should we look after their cleanliness? We, who haven't the means to
keep ourselves clean! Let us bring the dustmen and the street-cleaners
into the line of fire! And if that isn't enough we'll turn off their gas
and water! Let us venture our last penny--let us strike the last blow!"

Pelle's proposal was adopted, and he went westward immediately to the
president of the Scavengers' Union. He had just got up and was sitting
down to his midday meal. He was a small, comfortable little man, who had
always a twinkle in his eye; he came from the coal country. Pelle had
helped him at one time to get his organization into working order, and
he knew that he could count on him and his men.

"Do you remember still, how I once showed you that you are the most
important workers in the city, Lars Hansen?"

The president nodded. "Yes, one would have to be a pretty sort of fool
to forget that! No, as long as I live I shall never forget the effect
your words had on us despised scavengers! It was you who gave us faith
in ourselves, and an organization! And even if we aren't quite the most
important people, still--"

"But that's just what you are--and now it's your turn to prove it! Could
you suspend work this night?"

Lars Hansen sat gazing thoughtfully into the lamp while he chewed his
food. "Our relations with the city are rather in the nature of a
contract," he said slowly and at length. "They could punish us for it,
and compel us to resume work. But if you want it, irrespective, why of
course we'll do it. There can be only one view as to that among
comrades! What you may gain by it you yourself know best."

"Thanks!" said Pelle, holding out his hand. "Then that is settled--no
more carts go out. And we must bring the street-cleaners to a standstill
too!"

"Then the authorities will put other men on--there are plenty to be
found for that work."

"They won't do that--or we'll put a stop to it if they do!"

"That sounds all right! It'll be a nasty business for the swells! It's
all the same to the poor, they haven't anything to eat. But suppose the
soldiers are ordered to do it! Scavenging must be done if the city isn't
to become pestilential!"

A flash of intelligence crossed Pelle's face. "Now listen, comrade! When
you stop working, deliver up all the keys, so that the authorities can't
touch you! Only put them all in a sack and give them a good shake-up!"

Lars Hansen broke into a resounding laugh. "That will be the deuce of a
joke!" he groaned, smacking his thighs. "Then they'll have to come to
us, for no one else will be able to sort them out again so quickly! I'll
take them the keys myself--I'll go upstairs as innocent as anything!"

Pelle thanked him again. "You'll save the whole Cause," he said quietly.
"It's the bread and the future happiness of many thousands that you are
now holding in your hands." He smiled brightly and took his leave. As
soon as he was alone his smile faded and an expression of deathly
weariness took its place.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pelle walked the streets, strolling hither and thither. Now all was
settled. There was nothing more to strive for. Everything within him
seemed broken; he had not even strength to decide what he should do with
himself. He walked on and on, came out into the High Street, and turned
off again into the side streets. Over the way, in the Colonial Stores,
he saw Karl, smiling and active, behind the counter serving customers.
"You ought really to go in and ask him how he's getting on," he thought,
but he strolled on. Once, before a tenement-house, he halted and
involuntarily looked up. No, he had already done his business here--this
was where the president of the Scavengers' Union lived. No, the day's
work was over now--he would go home to Ellen and the children!

Home? No home for him now--he was forsaken and alone! And yet he went
toward the north; which road he went by he did not know, but after a
time he found himself standing before his own door and staring at the
rusty little letter box. Within there was a sound of weeping; he could
hear Ellen moving to and fro, preparing everything for the night. Then
he turned and hastened away, and did not breathe easily until he had
turned the corner of the street.

He turned again and again, from one side street into another. Inside his
head everything seemed to be going round, and at every step he felt as
if it would crack. Suddenly he seemed to hear hasty but familiar steps
behind him. Ellen! He turned round; there was no one there. So it was an
illusion! But the steps began again as soon as he went on. There was
something about those steps--it was as though they wanted to say
something to him; he could hear plainly that they wanted to catch up
with him. He stopped suddenly--there was no one there, and no one
emerged from the darkness of the side streets.

Were these strange footsteps in his own mind, then? Pelle found them
incomprehensible; his heart began to thump; his terrible exhaustion had
made him helpless. And Ellen--what was the matter with her? That
reproachful weeping sounded in his ears! Understand--what was he to
understand? She had done it out of love, she had said! Ugh--away with it
all! He was too weary to justify her offence.

But what sort of wanderer was this? Now the footsteps were keeping time
with his now; they had a double sound. And when he thought, another
creature answered to him, from deep within him. There was something
persistent about this, as there was in Morten's influence; an opinion
that made its way through all obstacles, even when reduced to silence.
What was wanted of him now--hadn't he worked loyally enough? Was he not
Pelle, who had conducted the great campaign? Pelle, to whom all looked
up? But there was no joy in the thought now; he could not now hear the
march of his fifty thousand comrades in his own footsteps! He was left
in the lurch, left alone with this accursed Something here in the
deserted streets--and loneliness had come upon him! "You are afraid!" he
thought, with a bitter laugh.

But he did not wish to be alone; and he listened intently. The conflict
had taken all that he possessed. So there was a community--mournful as
it was--between him and the misery around him here. What had he to
complain of?

The city of the poor lay about him, terrible, ravaged by the battle of
unemployment--a city of weeping, and cold, and darkness, and want! From
the back premises sounded the crying of children--they were crying for
bread, he knew--while drunken men staggered round the corners, and the
screaming of women sounded from the back rooms and the back yards. Ugh--
this was Hell already! Thank God, victory was near!

Somewhere he could plainly hear voices; children were crying, and a
woman, who was moving to and fro in the room, was soothing them, and was
lulling the youngest to sleep--no doubt she had it in her arms. It all
came down to him so distinctly that he looked up. There were no windows
in the apartment! They were to be driven out by the cold, he thought
indignantly, and he ran up the stairs; he was accustomed to taking the
unfortunate by surprise.

"The landlord has taken out the doors and windows; he wanted to turn us
into the street, but we aren't going, for where should we go? So he
wants to drive us out through the cold--like the bugs! They've driven my
husband to death--" Suddenly she recognized Pelle. "So it's you, you
accursed devil!" she cried. "It was you yourself who set him on! Perhaps
you remember how he used to drink out of the bottle? Formerly he always
used to behave himself properly. And you saw, too, how we were turned
out of St. Hans Street--the tenants forced us to go--didn't you see
that? Oh, you torturer! You've followed him everywhere, hunted him like
a wild beast, taunted him and tormented him to death! When he went into
a tavern the others would stand away from him, and the landlord had to
ask him to go. But he had more sense of honor than you! 'I'm infected
with the plague!' he said, and one morning he hanged himself. Ah, if I
could pray the good God to smite you!" She was tearless; her voice was
dry and hoarse.

"You have no need to do that," replied Pelle bitterly. "He has smitten
me! But I never wished your husband any harm; both times, when I met
him, I tried to help him. We have to suffer for the benefit of all--my
own happiness is shattered into fragments." He suddenly found relief in
tears.

"They just ought to see that--the working men--Pelle crying! Then they
wouldn't shout 'Hurrah!' when he appears!" she cried scornfully.

"I have still ten kroner--will you take them?" said Pelle, handing her
the money.

She took it hesitating. "You must need that for your wife and children--
that must be your share of your strike pay!"

"I have no wife and children now. Take it!"

"Good God! Has your home gone to pieces too? Couldn't even Pelle keep it
together? Well, well, it's only natural that he who sows should reap!"

Pelle went his way without replying. The unjust judgment of this woman
depressed him more than the applause of thousands would have pleased
him. But it aroused a violent mental protest. Where she had struck him
he was invulnerable; he had not been looking after his own trivial
affairs; but had justly and honorably served the great Cause, and had
led the people to victory. The wounded and the fallen had no right to
abuse him. He had lost more than any one--he had lost everything!

With care-laden heart, but curiously calm, he went toward the North
Bridge and rented a room in a cheap lodging house.



XXXV


The final instructions issued to the workers aroused terrible
indignation in the city. At one blow the entire public was set against
them; the press was furious, and full of threats and warnings. Even the
independent journals considered that the workers had infringed the laws
of human civilization. But _The Working Man_ quietly called
attention to the fact that the conflict was a matter of life or death
for the lower classes. They were ready to proceed to extremities; they
still had it in their power to cut off the water and gas--the means of
the capital's commercial and physical life!

Then the tide set in against the employers. Something had to give
somewhere! And what was the real motive of the conflict? Merely a
question of power! They wanted to have the sole voice--to have their
workers bound hand and foot. The financiers, who stood at the back of
the big employers, had had enough of the whole affair. It would be an
expensive game first and last, and there would be little profit in
destroying the cohesion of the workers if the various industries were
ruined at the same time.

Pelle saw how the crisis was approaching while he wandered about the
lesser streets in search of Father Lasse. Now the Cause was progressing
by its own momentum, and he could rest. An unending strain was at last
lifted from his shoulders, and now he wanted time to gather together the
remnants of his own happiness--and at last to do something for one who
had always sacrificed himself for him. Now he and Lasse would find a
home together, and resume the old life in company together; he rejoiced
at the thought. Father Lasse's nature never clashed with his; he had
always stood by him through everything; his love was like a mother's.

Lasse was no longer living in his lair behind Baker Street. The old
woman with whom he was living had died shortly before this, and Lasse
had then disappeared.

Pelle continued to ask after him, and, well known as he was among the
poor, it was not difficult for him to follow the old man's traces, which
gradually led him out to Kristianshavn. During his inquiries he
encountered a great deal of misery, which delayed him. Now, when the
battle was fighting itself to a conclusion, he was everywhere confronted
by need, and his old compassion welled up in his heart. He helped where
he could, finding remedies with his usual energy.

Lasse had not been to the "Ark" itself, but some one there had seen him
in the streets, in a deplorable condition; where he lived no one knew.
"Have you looked in the cellar of the Merchant's House over yonder?" the
old night watchman asked him. "Many live there in these hard times.
Every morning about six o'clock I lock the cellar up, and then I call
down and warn them so that they shan't be pinched. If I happen to turn
away, then they come slinking up. It seems to me I heard of an old man
who was said to be lying down there, but I'm not sure, for I've wadding
in my ears; I'm obliged to in my calling, in order not to hear too
much!" He went to the place with Pelle.

The Merchant's House, which in the eighteenth century was the palace of
one of the great mercantile families of Kristianshavn, was now used as a
granary; it lay fronting on one of the canals. The deep cellars, which
were entirely below the level of the canal, were now empty. It was pitch
dark down there, and impracticable; the damp air seemed to gnaw at one's
vocal cords. They took a light and explored among the pillars, finding
here and there places where people had lain on straw. "There is no one
here," said the watchman. Pelle called, and heard a feeble sound as of
one clearing his throat. Far back in the cellars, in one of the cavities
in the wall, Father Lasse was lying on a mattress. "Yes, here I lie,
waiting for death," he whispered. "It won't last much longer now; the
rats have begun to sniff about me already." The cold, damp air had taken
his voice away.

He was altogether in a pitiful condition, but the sight of Pelle put
life into him in so far as he was able to stand on his  feet. They took
him over to the "Ark," the old night watchman giving up his room and
going up to Widow Johnsen;--there he slept in the daytime, and at night
went about his duties; a possible arrangement, although there was only
one bed.

When Lasse was put into a warm bed he lay there shivering; and he was
not quite clear in his mind. Pelle warmed some beer; the old man must go
through a sweating cure; from time to time he sat on the bed and gazed
anxiously at his father. Lasse lay there with his teeth chattering; he
had closed his eyes; now and again he tried to speak, but could not.

The warm drink helped him a little, and the blood flowed once more into
his dead, icy hands, and his voice returned.

"Do you think we are going to have a hard winter?" he said suddenly,
turning on his side.

"We are going on toward the summer now, dear father," Pelle replied.
"But you must not lie with your back uncovered."

"I'm so terribly cold--almost as cold as I was in winter; I wouldn't
care to go through that again. It got into my spine so. Good God, the
poor folks who are at sea!"

"You needn't worry about them--you just think about getting well again;
to-day we've got the sunshine and it's fine weather at sea!"

"Let a little sunshine in here to me, then," said Lasse peevishly.

"There's a great wall in front of the window, father," said Pelle,
bending down over him.

"Well, well, it'll soon be over, the little time that's still left me!
It's all the same to the night watchman--he wakes all night and yet he
doesn't see the sun. That is truly a curious calling! But it is good
that some one should watch over us while we sleep." Lasse rocked his
head restlessly to and fro.

"Yes, otherwise they'd come by night and steal our money," said Pelle
jestingly.

"Yes, that they would!" Lasse tried to laugh. "And how are things going
with you, lad?"

"The negotiations are proceeding; yesterday we held the first meeting."

Lasse laughed until his throat rattled. "So the fine folks couldn't
stomach the smell any longer! Yes, yes, I heard the news of that when I
was lying ill down there in the darkness. At night, when the others came
creeping in, they told me about it; we laughed properly over that idea
of yours. But oughtn't you to be at your meeting?"

"No, I have excused myself--I don't want to sit there squabbling about
the ending of a sentence. Now I'm going to be with you, and then we'll
both make ourselves comfortable."

"I am afraid we shan't have much more joy of one another, lad!"

"But you are quite jolly again now. To-morrow you will see--"

"Ah, no! Death doesn't play false. I couldn't stand that cellar."

"Why did you do it, father? You knew your place at home was waiting for
you."

"Yes, you must forgive my obstinacy, Pelle. But I was too old to be able
to help in the fight, and then I thought at least you won't lay a burden
on them so long as this lasts! So in that way I have borne my share. And
do you really believe that something will come of it?"

"Yes, we are winning--and then the new times will begin for the poor
man!"

"Yes, yes; I've no part in such fine things now! It was as though one
served the wicked goblin that stands over the door: Work to-day, eat to-
morrow! And to-morrow never came. What kindness I've known has been from
my own people; a poor bird will pull out its own feathers to cover
another. But I can't complain; I have had bad days, but there are folks
who have had worse. And the women have always been good to me. Bengta
was a grumbler, but she meant it kindly; Karna sacrificed money and
health to me--God be thanked that she didn't live after they took the
farm from me. For I've been a landowner too; I had almost forgotten that
in all my misery! Yes, and old Lise--Begging Lise, as they called her--
she shared bed and board with me! She died of starvation, smart though
she was. Would you believe that? 'Eat!' she used to say; 'we have food
enough!' And I, old devil, I ate the last crust, and suspected nothing,
and in the morning she was lying dead and cold at my side! There was not
a scrap of flesh on her whole body; nothing but skin over dry bones. But
she was one of God's angels! We used to sing together, she and I. Ach,
poor people take the bread out of one another's mouths!"

Lasse lay for a time sunk in memories, and began to sing, with the
gestures he had employed in the courtyard. Pelle held him down and
endeavored to bring him to reason, but the old man thought he was
dealing with the street urchins. When he came to the verse which spoke
of his son he wept.

"Don't cry, father!" said Pelle, quite beside himself, and he laid his
heavy head against that of the old man. "I am with you again!"

Lasse lay still for a time, blinking his eyes, with his hand groping to
and fro over his son's face.

"Yes, you are really here," he said faintly, "and I thought you had gone
away again. Do you know what, Pelle? You have been the whole light of my
life! When you came into the world I was already past the best of my
years; but then you came, and it was as though the sun had been born
anew! 'What may he not bring with him?' I used to think, and I held my
head high in the air. You were no bigger than a pint bottle! 'Perhaps
he'll make his fortune,' I thought, 'and then there'll be a bit of luck
for you as well!' So I thought, and so I've always believed--but now I
must give it up. But I've lived to see you respected. You haven't become
a rich man--well, that need not matter; but the poor speak well of you!
You have fought their battles for them without taking anything to fill
your own belly. Now I understand it, and my old heart rejoices that you
are my son!"

When Lasse fell asleep Pelle lay on the sofa for a while. But he did not
rest long; the old man slept like a bird, opening his eyes every moment.
If he did not see his son close to his bed he lay tossing from side to
side and complaining in a half-slumber. In the middle of the night he
raised his head and held it up in a listening attitude. Pelle awoke.

"What do you want, father?" he asked, as he tumbled onto his feet.

"Ach, I can hear something flowing, far out yonder, beyond the sea-
line.... It is as though the water were pouring into the abyss. But
oughtn't you to go home to Ellen now? I shall be all right alone
overnight, and perhaps she's sitting worrying as to where you are."

"I've sent to Ellen to tell her that I shouldn't be home overnight,"
said Pelle.

The old man lay considering his son with a pondering glance, "Are you
happy, too, now?" he asked. "It seems to me as though there is something
about your marriage that ought not to be."

"Yes, father, it's quite all right," Pelle replied in a half-choking
voice.

"Well, God be thanked for that! You've got a good wife in Ellen, and she
has given you splendid children. How is Young Lasse? I should dearly
like to see him again before I go from here--there will still be a
Lasse!"

"I'll bring him to you early in the morning," said Pelle. "And now you
ought to see if you can't sleep a little, father. It is pitch dark
still!"

Lasse turned himself submissively toward the wall. Once he cautiously
turned his head to see if Pelle was sleeping; his eyes could not see
across the room, so he attempted to get out of bed, but fell back with a
groan.

"What is it, father?" cried Pelle anxiously, and he was beside him in a
moment.

"I only wanted just to see that you'd got something over you in this
cold! But my old limbs won't bear me any more," said the old man, with a
shamefaced expression.

Toward morning he fell into a quiet sleep, and Pelle brought Madam
Johnsen to sit with the old man, while he went home for Young Lasse. It
was no easy thing to do; but the last wish of the old man must be
granted. And he knew that Ellen would not entrust the child to strange
hands.

Ellen's frozen expression lit up as he came; an exclamation of joy rose
to her lips, but the sight of his face killed it. "My father lies
dying," he said sadly--"he very much wants to see the boy." She nodded
and quietly busied herself in making the child ready. Pelle stood at the
window gazing out.

It seemed very strange to him that he should be here once more; the
memory of the little household rose to his mind and made him weak. He
must see Little Sister! Ellen led him silently into the bedroom; the
child was sleeping in her cradle; a deep and wonderful peace brooded
over her bright head. Ellen seemed to be nearer to him in this room
here; he felt her compelling eyes upon him. He pulled himself forcibly
together and went into the other room--he had nothing more to do there.
He was a stranger in this home. A thought occurred to him--whether she
was going on with _that_? Although it was nothing to him, the
question would not be suppressed; and he looked about him for some sign
that might be significant. It was a poverty-stricken place; everything
superfluous had vanished. But a shoemaker's sewing machine had made its
appearance, and there was work on it. Strike-breaking work! he thought
mechanically. But not disgraceful--for the first time he was glad to
discover a case of strike-breaking. She had also begun to take in
sewing--and she looked thoroughly overworked. This gave him downright
pleasure.

"The boy is ready to go with you now," she said.

Pelle cast a farewell glance over the room. "Is there anything you
need?" he asked.

"Thanks--I can look after myself," she replied proudly.

"You didn't take the money I sent you on Saturday!"

"I can manage myself--if I can only keep the boy. Don't forget that you
told me once he should always stay with me."

"He must have a mother who can look him in the face--remember that,
Ellen!"

"You needn't remind me of that," she replied bitterly.

Lasse was awake when they arrived. "Eh, that's a genuine Karlsen!" he
said. "He takes after our family. Look now, Pelle, boy! He has the same
prominent ears, and he's got the lucky curl on his forehead too! He'll
make his way in the world! I must kiss his little hands--for the hands,
they are our blessing--the only possession we come into the world with.
They say the world will be lifted up by the hands of poor; I should like
to know whether that will be so! I should like to know whether the new
times will come soon now. It's a pity after all that I shan't live to
see it!"

"You may very well be alive to see it yet, father," said Pelle, who on
the way had bought _The Working Man_, and was now eagerly reading
it. "They are going ahead in full force, and in the next few days the
fight will be over! Then we'll both settle down and be jolly together!"

"No, I shan't live to see that! Death has taken hold of me; he will soon
snatch me away. But if there's anything after it all, it would be fine
if I could sit up there and watch your good fortune coming true. You
have travelled the difficult way, Pelle--Lasse is not stupid! But
perhaps you'll he rewarded by a good position, if you take over the
leadership yourself now. But then you must see that you don't forget the
poor!"

"That's a long way off yet, father! And then there won't be any more
poor!"

"You say that so certainly, but poverty is not so easily dealt with--it
has eaten its way in too deep! Young Lasse will perhaps be a grown man
before that comes about. But now you must take the boy away, for it
isn't good that he should see how the old die. He looks so pale--does he
get out into the sun properly?"

"The rich have borrowed the sun--and they've forgotten to pay it back,"
said Pelle bitterly.

Lasse raised his head in the air, as though he were striving against
something. "Yes, yes! It needs good eyes to look into the future, and
mine won't serve me any longer. But now you must go and take the boy
with you. And you mustn't neglect your affairs, you can't outwit death,
however clever you may be." He laid his withered hand on Young Lasse's
head and turned his face to the wall.

Pelle got Madam Johnsen to take the boy home again, so that he himself
could remain with the old man. Their paths had of late years lain so
little together; they had forever been meeting and then leading far
apart. He felt the need of a lingering farewell. While he moved to and
fro, and lit a fire to warm up some food, and did what he could to make
Father Lasse comfortable, he listened to the old man's desultory speech
and let himself drift hack into the careless days of childhood. Like a
deep, tender murmur, like the voice of the earth itself, Lasse's
monotonous speech renewed his childhood; and as it continued, it became
the never-silent speech of the many concerning the conditions of life.
Now, in silence he turned again from the thousands to Father Lasse, and
saw how great a world this tender-hearted old man had supported. He had
always been old and worn-out so long as Pelle could remember. Labor so
soon robs the poor man of his youth and makes his age so long! But this
very frailty endowed him with a superhuman power--that of the father! He
had borne his poverty greatly, without becoming wicked or self-seeking
or narrow; his heart had always been full of the cheerfulness of
sacrifice, and full of tenderness; he had been strong even in his
impotence. Like the Heavenly Father Himself, he had encompassed Pelle's
whole existence with his warm affection, and it would be terrible indeed
when his kindly speech was no longer audible at the back of everything.

His departing soul hovered in ever-expanding circles over the way along
which he had travelled--like the doves when they migrate. Each time he
had recovered a little strength he took up the tale of his life anew.
"There has always been something to rejoice over, you know, but much of
it has been only an aimless struggle. In the days when I knew no better
I managed well enough; but from the moment when you were born my old
mind began to look to the future, and I couldn't feel at peace any more.
There was something about you that seemed like an omen, and since then
it has always stuck in my mind; and my intentions have been restless,
like the Jerusalem shoemaker's. It was as though something had suddenly
given me--poor louse!--the promise of a more beautiful life; and the
memory of that kept on running in my mind. Is it perhaps the longing for
Paradise, out of which they drove us once?--I used to think. If you'll
believe me, I, poor old blunderer as I am, have had splendid dreams of a
beautiful, care-free old age, when my son, with his wife and children,
would come and visit me in my own cozy room, where I could entertain
them a little with everything neat and tidy. I didn't give up hoping for
it even right at the end. I used to go about dreaming of a treasure
which I should find out on the refuse-heaps. Ah, I did so want to be
able to leave you something! I have been able to do so miserably little
for you."

"And you say that, who have been father and mother to me? During my
whole childhood you stood behind everything, protecting me; if anything
happened to me I always used to think; 'Father Lasse will soon set that
right!' And when I grew up I found in everything that I undertook that
you were helping me to raise myself. It would have gone but ill indeed
with everything if you hadn't given me such a good inheritance!"

"Do you say that?" cried Lasse proudly. "Shall I truly have done my
share in what you have done for the Cause of the poor? Ah, that sounds
good, in any case! No, but you have been my life, my boy, and I used to
wonder, poor weak man as I was, to see how great my strength was in you!
What I scarcely dared to think of even, you have had the power to do!
And now here I lie, and have not even the strength to die. You must
promise me that you won't burden yourself on my account with anything
that's beyond your ability--you must leave the matter to the poor-law
authorities. I've kept myself clear of them till now, but it was only my
stupid pride. The poor man and the poor-laws belong together after all.
I have learned lately to look at many things differently; and it is good
that I am dying--otherwise I should soon be alive and thinking but have
no power. If these ideas had come to me in the strength of my youth
perhaps I should have done something violent. I hadn't your prudence and
intelligence, to be able to carry eggs in a hop-sack...."

On the morning of the third day there was a change in Lasse, although it
was not easy to say where the alteration lay. Pelle sat at the bedside
reading the last issue of _The Working Man_, when he noticed that
Lasse was gazing at him. "Is there any news?" he asked faintly.

"The negotiations are proceeding," said Pelle, "but it is difficult to
agree upon a basis.... Several times everything has been on the point of
breaking down."

"It's dragging out such a long time," said Lasse dejectedly; "and I
shall die to-day, Pelle. There is something restless inside me, although
I should dearly like to rest a little. It is curious, how we wander
about trying to obtain something different to what we have! As a little
boy at home in Tommelilla I used to run round a well; I used to run like
one possessed, and I believed if I only ran properly I should be able to
catch my own heels! And now I've done it; for now there is always some
one in front of me, so that I can't go forward, and it's old Lasse
himself who is stopping the way! I am always thinking I must overtake
him, but I can't find my old views of the world again, they have altered
so. On the night when the big employers declared the lock-out I was
standing out there among the many thousands of other poor folks,
listening. They were toasting the resolution with champagne, and
cheering, and there my opinions were changed! It's strange how things
are in this world. Down in the granary cellar there lay a mason who had
built one of the finest palaces in the capital, and he hadn't even a
roof over his head."

A sharp line that had never been there before appeared round his mouth.
It became difficult for him to speak, but he could not stop. "Whatever
you do, never believe the clergy," he continued, when he had gathered a
little strength. "That has been my disadvantage--I began to think over
things too late. We mustn't grumble, they say, for one thing has
naturally grown out of another, big things out of little, and all
together depends on God's will. According to that our vermin must
finally become thorough-bred horse for the rich--and God knows I believe
that is possible! They have begun by sucking the blood of poverty--but
only see how they prance in front of the carriage! Ah, yes--how will the
new period take shape? What do you think about it?"

"It will be good for us all, father," replied Pelle, with anxiety in his
voice. "But it will be sad for me, because you will no longer have your
part in it all. But you shall have a fine resting-place, and I will give
you a great stone of Bornholm granite, with a beautiful inscription."

"You must put on the stone: 'Work to-day, eat to-morrow!'" replied Lasse
bitterly.

All day long he lay there in a half-sleep. But in the evening twilight
he raised his head. "Are those the angels I hear singing?" he whispered.
The ring had gone out of his voice.

"No, those are the little children of the factory women, their mothers
will be coming home directly to give them the breast; then they'll
stop."

Lasse sighed. "That will be poor food if they have to work all day. They
say the rich folks drink wine at twelve and fifteen kroner a bottle;
that sounds as if they take the milk away from the little children and
turn it into costly liquors."

He lay there whispering; Pelle had to bend his head till it was almost
against his mouth. "Hand in hand we've wandered hither, lad, yet each
has gone his own way. You are going the way of youth, and Lasse--but you
have given me much joy."

Then the loving spirit, which for Pelle had burned always clear and
untroubled amid all vicissitudes, was extinguished. It was as though
Providence had turned its face from him; life collapsed and sank into
space, and he found himself sitting on a chair--alone. All night long he
sat there motionless beside the body, staring with vacant eyes into the
incomprehensible, while his thoughts whispered sadly to the dead of all
that he had been. He did not move, but himself sat like a dead man,
until Madam Johnsen came in the morning to ask how matters were
progressing.

Then he awoke and went out, in order to make such arrangements as were
necessary.



XXXVI


On Saturday, at noon, it was reported that the treaty of peace was
signed, and that the great strike was over. The rumor spread through the
capital with incredible speed, finding its way everywhere. "Have you
heard yet? Have you heard yet? Peace is concluded!" The poor were busy
again; they lay huddled together no longer, but came out into the light
of day, their lean faces full of sunlight. The women got out their
baskets and sent the children running to make a few purchases for
Sunday--for now the grocer would give them a little credit! People
smiled and chattered and borrowed a little happiness! Summer had come,
and a monstrous accumulation of work was waiting to be done, and at last
they were going to set to work in real earnest! The news was shouted
from one back door to the next; people threw down what they had in their
hands and ran on with the news. It occurred to no one to stand still and
to doubt; they were only too willing to believe!

Later in the afternoon _The Working Man_ issued a board-sheet
confirming the rumor. Yes, it was really true! And it was a victory; the
right of combination was recognized, and Capital had been taught to
respect the workers as a political factor. It would no longer be
possible to oppress them. And in other respects the _status quo_
was confirmed.

"Just think--they've been taught to respect us, and they couldn't refuse
to accept the _status quo!_" And they laughed all over their faces
with joy to think that it was confirmed, although no one knew what it
was!

The men were in the streets; they were flocking to their organizations,
in order to receive orders and to learn the details of the victory. One
would hardly have supposed from their appearance that the victory was
theirs; they had become so accustomed to gloom that it was difficult to
shake it off.

There was a sound of chattering in backyards and on staircases. Work was
to be resumed--beautiful, glorious labor, that meant food and drink and
a little clothing for the body! Yes, and domestic security! No more
chewing the cud over an empty manger; now one could once more throw
one's money about a little, and then, by skimping and saving, with tears
and hardship, make it suffice! To-night father would have something
really good with his bread and butter, and to-morrow, perhaps, they
could go out into the forest with the picnic-basket! Or at all events,
as soon as they had got their best clothes back from the pawn-shop! They
must have a bit of an airing before the winter came, and they had to go
back into pawn! They were so overjoyed at the mere thought of peace that
they quite forgot, for the moment, to demand anything new!

Pelle had taken part in the concluding negotiations; after Father
Lasse's burial he was himself again. Toward evening he was roaming about
the poor quarter of the city, rejoicing in the mood of the people; he
had played such an important part in the bitter struggle of the poor
that he felt the need to share their joy as well. From the North Bridge
he went by way of the Lakes to West Bridge; and everywhere swarms of
people were afoot. In the side-streets by West Bridge all the families
had emerged from their dwellings and established themselves on the front
steps and the pavements; there they sat, bare-headed in the twilight,
gossiping, smoking, and absorbing refreshments. It was the first warm
evening; the sky was a deep blue, and at the end of the street the
darkness was flooded with purple. There was something extravagant about
them all; joy urged their movements to exceed the narrow every-day
limits, and made them stammer and stagger as though slightly
intoxicated.

Now they could all make their appearance again, all those families that
had hidden themselves during the time of want; they were just as ragged,
but that was of no consequence now! They were beaming with proud delight
to think that they had come through the conflict without turning to any
one for help; and the battles fought out in the darkness were forgotten.

Pelle had reached the open ground by the Gasworks Harbor; he wanted to
go over to see his old friends in the "Ark." Yonder it lay, lifting its
glowing mass into the deep night of the eastern sky. The red of the
sinking sun fell over it. High overhead, above the crater of the mass,
hung a cloud of vapor, like a shadow on the evening sky. Pelle, as he
wandered, had been gazing at this streak of shadow; it was the dense
exhalation of all the creatures in the heart of the mass below, the reek
of rotting material and inferior fuel. Now, among other consequences of
victory, there would be a thorough cleansing of the dens of poverty. A
dream floated before him, of comfortable little dwellings for the
workers, each with its little garden and its well-weeded paths. It would
repay a man then to go home after the day's fatigue!

It seemed to him that the streak of smoke yonder was growing denser and
denser. Or were his eyes merely exaggerating that which was occupying
his thoughts? He stood still, gazing--then he began to run. A red light
was striking upward against the cloud of smoke--touched a moment, and
disappeared; and a fresh mass of smoke unrolled itself, and hung
brooding heavily overhead.

Pelle rushed across the Staple Square, and over the long bridge. Only
too well did he know the terrible bulk of the "Ark"--and there was no
other exit than the tunnel! And the timber-work, which provided the sole
access to the upper stories! As he ran he could see it all clearly
before his eyes, and his mind began to search for means of rescue. The
fire brigade was of course given the alarm at once, but it would take
time to get the engines here, and it was all a matter of minutes! If the
timber staging fell and the tunnel were choked all the inmates would be
lost--and the "Ark" did not possess a single emergency-ladder!

Outside, in front of the "Ark," was a restless crowd of people, all
shouting together. "Here comes Pelle!" cried some one. At once they were
all silent, and turned their faces toward him. "Fetch the fire-escape
from the prison!" he shouted to some of the men in passing, and ran to
the tunnel-entry.

From the long corridors on the ground floor the inmates were rushing out
with their little children in their arms. Some were dragging valueless
possessions--the first things they could lay hands on. All that was left
of the timber-work after the wreckage of the terrible winter was now
brightly blazing. Pelle tried to run up the burning stairs, but fell
through. The inmates were hanging half out of their windows, staring
down with eyes full of madness; every moment they ran out onto the
platforms in an effort to get down, but always ran shrieking back.

At her third-story window Widow Johnsen stood wailing, with her
grandchild and the factory-girl's little Paul in her arms. Hanne's
little daughter stared silently out of the window, with the deep,
wondering gaze of her mother. "Don't be afraid," Pelle shouted to the
old woman; "we are coming to help you now!" When little Paul caught
sight of Pelle he wrenched himself away from Madam Johnsen and ran out
onto the gallery. He jumped right down, lay for a moment on the
flagstones, turned round and round, quite confused, and then, like a
flash of lightning, he rushed by Pelle and out into the street.

Pelle sent a few of the men into the long corridor, to see whether all
were out. "Break in the closed doors," he said; "there may possibly be
children or sick people inside." The inmates of the first and second
stories had saved themselves before the fire had got a hold on the
woodwork.

Pelle himself ran up the main staircase up to the lofts and under the
roof, in order to go to the assistance of the inmates of the
outbuildings over the attics. But he was met by the inmates of the long
roof-walk. "You can't get through any longer," said the old rag-picker;
"Pipman's whole garret is burning, and there are no more up here. God in
heaven have mercy on the poor souls over there!"

In spite of this, Pelle tried to find a way over the attics, but was
forced to turn back.

The men had fetched the fire-escape, and had with difficulty brought it
through the entry and had set it up! The burning timbers were beginning
to fall; fragments of burning woodwork lay all around, and at any moment
the whole building might collapse with a crash. But there was no time to
think of one's self. The smoke was rolling out of Vinslev's corridor and
filling the yard. There was need of haste.

"Of course, it was the lunatic who started the fire," said the men, as
they held the ladder.

It reached only to the second story, but Pelle threw a rope up to Madam
Johnsen, and she fastened it to the window-frame, so that he was able to
clamber up. With the rope he lowered first the child and then the old
woman to his comrades below, who were standing on the ladder to receive
them. The smoke was smarting in his eyes and throat, and all but stifled
him; he could see nothing, but he heard a horrible shrieking all about
him.

Just above him a woman was wailing. "Oh, Pelle, help me!" she whimpered,
half choking. It was the timid seamstress, who had moved thither; he
recognized her emotional voice. "She loves me!" suddenly flashed upon
his mind.

"Catch the rope and fasten it well to the window-frame, and I'll come up
and help you!" he said, and he swung the end of the rope up toward the
fourth story. But at the same moment a wild shriek rang out. A dark mass
flew past his head and struck the flagstones with a dull thud. The
flames darted hissing from the window, as though to reach after her, and
then drew back.

For a moment he hung stupefied over the window-sill. This was too
horrible. Was it not her gentle voice that he now heard singing with
him? And then the timbers fell with a long cracking sound, and a cloud
of hot ashes rose in the air and filled the lungs as with fire. "Come
down!" cried his comrades, "the ladder is burning!"

A deafening, long-drawn ringing told him that the fire-brigade was near
at hand.

But in the midst of all the uproar Pelle's ears had heard a faint,
intermittent sound. With one leap he was in Madam Johnsen's room; he
stood there listening; the crying of a child reached him from the other
side of the wall, where the rooms opened on to the inner corridor. It
was horrible to hear it and to stand there and be able to do nothing. A
wall lay between, and there was no thoroughfare on the other side. In
the court below they were shouting his name. Devil take them, he would
come when he was ready. There he stood, obstinate and apathetic, held
there by that complaining, childish voice. A blind fury arose in him;
sullenly he set his shoulder against that accursed wall, and prepared
himself for the shock. But the wall was giving! Yet again he charged it
--a terrible blow--and part of the barrier was down!

He was met by a rush of stifling heat and smoke; he had to hold his
breath and cover his face with his hands as he pressed forward. A little
child lay there in a cradle. He stumbled over to it and groped his way
back to the wall. The fire, now that it had access to the air, suddenly
leaped at him with an explosive force that made him stagger. He felt as
though a thirsty bull had licked his cheek. It bellowed at his heels
with a voice of thunder, but was silent when he slammed the door. Half
choking he found his way to the window and tried to shout to those
below, but he had no voice left; only a hoarse whisper came from his
throat.

Well, there he stood, with a child in his arms, and he was going to die!
But that didn't matter--he had got through the wall! Behind him the fire
was pressing forward; it had eaten a small hole through the door, and
had thus created the necessary draught. The hole grew larger; sparks
rose as under a pair of bellows, and a dry, burning heat blew through
the opening. Small, almost imperceptible flames were dancing over the
polished surface; very soon the whole door would burst into a blaze. His
clothes smelt of singeing; his hands were curiously dry like decaying
wood, and he felt as if the hair at the back of his head was curling.
And down below they were shouting his name. But all that was of no
consequence; only his head was so heavy with the smoke and heat! He felt
that he was on the point of falling. Was the child still alive? he
wondered. But he dared not look to see; he had spread his jacket over
its face in order to protect it.

He clutched the window-frame, and directed his dying thoughts toward
Ellen and the children. Why was he not with them? What nonsense had it
been that induced him to leave them? He could no longer recollect; but
if it had not been all up with him now he would have hurried home to
them, to play with Young Lasse. But now he must die; in a moment he
would fall, suffocated--even before the flames could reach him.

There was some slight satisfaction in that--it was as though he had
played a trick on some one.

Suddenly something shot up before his dying gaze and called him back. It
was the end of a fire-escape, and a fireman rose out of the smoke just
in front of him, seized the child, and handed it down. Pelle stood there
wrestling with the idea that he must move from where he was; but before
it had passed through his mind a fireman had seized him by the scruff of
his neck and had run down the ladder with him.

The fresh air aroused him. He sprang up from the stretcher on which the
fireman had laid him and looked excitedly about him. At the same moment
the people began quite senselessly to shout his name and to clap their
hands, and Madam Johnsen pushed her way through the barrier and threw
herself upon him. "Pelle!" she cried, weeping; "oh, you are alive,
Pelle!"

"Yes, of course I'm alive--but that's nothing to cry about."

"No, but we thought you were caught in there. But how you look, you poor
boy!" She took him with her to a working-man's home, and helped him to
set himself to rights. When he had once seen a looking-glass he
understood! He was unrecognizable, what with smoke and ashes, which had
burnt themselves into his skin and would not come off. And under the
grime there was a bad burn on one of his cheeks. He went to one of the
firemen and had a plaster applied.

"You really want a pair of eyebrows too," said the fireman. "You've been
properly in the fire, haven't you?"

"Why did the fire-engines take so long?" asked Pelle.

"Long? They were ten minutes getting here after the alarm was given. We
got the alarm at eight, and now it's half-past."

Pelle was silent; he was quite taken aback; he felt as though the whole
night must have gone by, so much had happened. Half an hour--and in that
time he had helped to snatch several people out of the claws of death
and had seen others fall into them. And he himself was singed by the
close passage of death! The knowledge was lurking somewhere at the back
of his mind, an accomplished but elusive fact; when he clenched his fist
cracks appeared in the skin, and his clothes smelt like burnt horn. In
the court the firemen were working unceasingly.

Some, from the tops of their ladders in the court, were pouring streams
of water upon the flames; others were forcing their way into the body of
the building and searching the rooms; and from time to time a fireman
made his appearance carrying a charred body. Then the inmates of the
"Ark" were called inside the barrier in order to identify the body. They
hurried weeping through the crowd, seeking one another; it was
impossible for the police to assemble them or to ascertain how many had
failed to escape.

Suddenly all eyes were directed toward the roof of the front portion of
the building, where the fire had not as yet entirely prevailed. There
stood the crazy Vinslev, playing on his flute; and when the cracking of
the fire was muffled for a moment one could hear his crazy music
"Listen! Listen! He is playing the march!" they cried. Yes, he was
playing the march, but it was interwoven with his own fantasies, so that
the well-known melody sounded quite insane on Vinslev's flute.

The firemen erected a ladder and ran up to the roof in order to save
him, but he fled before them. When he could go no farther he leaped into
the sea of flame.

The market-place and the banks of the canal were thick with people;
shoulder to shoulder they stood there, gazing at the voluptuous
spectacle of the burning "Ark." The grime and poverty and the reek of
centuries were going up in flames. How it rustled and blazed and
crackled! The crowd was in the best of spirits owing to the victory of
Labor; no one had been much inclined to sleep that night; and here was a
truly remarkable display of fireworks, a magnificent illumination in
honor of the victory of the poor! There were admiring cries of "Ah!"
people hissed in imitation of the sound of rockets and clapped their
hands when the flames leaped up or a roof crashed in.

Pelle moved about in the crowd, collecting the bewildered inmates of the
"Ark" by the gates of the prison, so that those who had relatives could
find them. They were weeping, and it was difficult to console them.
Alas, now the "Ark" was burnt, the beloved place of refuge for so many
ruined souls! "How can you take it to heart so?" said Pelle consolingly.
"You will be lodged overnight by the city, and afterward you will move
into proper dwelling-houses, where everything is clean and new. And you
needn't cry over your possessions, I'll soon get up a collection, and
you'll have better things than you had before."

Nevertheless they wept; like homeless wild beasts they whimpered and
rambled restlessly to and fro, seeking for they knew not what. Their
forest fastness, their glorious hiding-place, was burning! What was all
the rest of the city to them? It was not for them; it was as though
there was no place of refuge left for them in all the world! Every
moment a few of them slipped away, seeking again to enter the site of
the fire, like horses that seek to return to the burning stable. Pelle
might have spared his efforts at consolation; they were races apart, a
different species of humanity. In the dark, impenetrable entrails of the
"Ark" they had made for themselves a world of poverty and extremest
want; and they had been as fantastically gay in their careless existence
as though their world had been one of wealth and fortune. And now it was
all going up in flame!

The fire was unsparing; its purifying flames could not be withstood. The
flames tore off great sheets of the old wallpapers and flung them out
half-burned into the street. There were many layers pasted together,
many colors and patterns, one dimly showing through another, making the
most curious and fantastic pictures. And on the reverse side of these
sheets was a layer as of coagulated blood; this was the charred remnant
of the mysterious world of cupboards and chimney-corners, the fauna of
the fireplace, that had filled the children's sleep with dreams, and in
the little mussel-shaped bodies was contained the concentrated
exhalation of the poor man's night! And now the "Ark" must have been hot
right through to the ground, for the rats were beginning to leave. They
came in long, winding files from the entry, and up out of the cellars of
the old iron merchant and the old clothes dealer, headed by the old,
scabby males which used to visit the dustbins in the middle of the day.
The onlookers cheered and drove them back again.

About ten o'clock the fire was visibly decreasing and the work of
clearance could begin. The crowd scattered, a little disappointed that
all was over so soon. The "Ark" was an extinct bonfire! There could not
have been a sackful of sound firewood in all that heap of lumber!

Pelle took Madam Johnsen and her little grand-daughter to his lodgings
with him. The old woman had been complaining all the time; she was
afraid of being given over to the public authorities. But when she heard
that she was to go with Pelle she was reassured.

On the High Bridge they met the first dust-carts on their way outward.
They were decked out with green garlands and little national flags.



XXXVII


The next day broke with a lofty, radiant Sabbath sky. There was
something about it that reminded one of Easter--Easter morning, with its
hymns and the pure winds of resurrection. _The Working Man_ rung in
the day with a long and serious leading article--a greeting to the rosy
dawn--and invited the working-classes to attend a giant assembly on the
Common during the afternoon. All through the forenoon great industry
prevailed--wardrobes had to be overhauled, provision-baskets packed, and
liquid refreshment provided. There was much running across landings and
up and down stairs, much lending and borrowing. This was to be not
merely a feast of victory; it was also intended as a demonstration--that
was quite clear. The world should see how well they were still holding
together after all these weeks of the lock-out! They were to appear in
full strength, and they must look their best.

In the afternoon the people streamed from all sides toward the Labor
Building; it looked as though the whole city was flocking thither. In
the big court-yard, and all along the wide street as far as High Street,
the trades unions were gathered about their banners. The great review
had all been planned beforehand, and all went as by clockwork by those
who were accustomed to handling great masses of men; there was no
running from side to side; every one found his place with ease. Pelle
and Stolpe, who had devised the programme, went along the ranks setting
all to rights.

With the men there were no difficulties; but the women and children had
of course misunderstood their instructions. They should have gone direct
to the Common, but had turned up here with all their impedimenta. They
stood crowding together on both the side-walks; and when the procession
got under way they broke up and attached themselves to its sides. They
had fought through the campaign, and their place was beside their
husbands and fathers! It was a bannered procession with a double escort
of women and children! Had the like ever been seen?

No, the city had never seen such a going forth of the people! Like a
giant serpent the procession unrolled itself; when its head was at the
end of the street the greater part of its body was still coiled
together. But what was the matter in front there? The head of the
procession was turning toward the wrong side--toward the city, instead
of taking the direct way to the Common, as the police had ordered! That
wouldn't do! That would lead to a collision with the police! Make haste
and get Pelle to turn the stream before a catastrophe occurs!--Pelle?
But there he is, right in front! He himself has made a mistake as to the
direction! Ah, well, then, there is nothing to be said about it. But
what in the world was he thinking of?

Pelle marches in the front rank beside the standard-bearer. He sees and
hears nothing, but his luminous gaze sweeps over the heads of the crowd.
His skin is still blackened by the smoke of the fire; it is peeling off
his hands; his hair and moustache seem to have been cropped very
strangely; and the skin is drawn round the burn on his cheek. He is
conscious of one thing only: the rhythmic tread of fifty thousand men!
As a child he has known it in dreams, heard it like a surging out of
doors when he laid his head upon his pillow. This is the great
procession of the Chosen People, and he is leading them into the
Promised Land! And where should their road lie if not through the
capital?

At the North Wall the mounted police are drawn up, closing the inner
city. They are drawn up diagonally across the thoroughfare, and were
backing their horses into the procession, in order to force it to turn
aside. But they were swept aside, and the stream flowed on; nothing can
stop it.

It passes down the street with difficulty, like a viscous mass that
makes its way but slowly, yet cannot be held back. It is full of a
peaceful might. Who would venture to hew a way into it? The police are
following it like watchful dogs, and on the side-walks the people stand
pressed against the houses; they greet the procession or scoff at it,
according as they are friends or foes. Upstairs, behind the big windows,
are gaily clad ladies and gentlemen, quizzing the procession with half-
scornful, half-uneasy smiles. What weird, hungry, unkempt world is this
that has suddenly risen up from obscurity to take possession of the
highway? And behind their transparent lace curtains the manufacturers
gaze and grumble. What novel kind of demonstration is this? The people
have been forgiven, and instead of going quietly back to their work they
begin to parade the city as though to show how many they are--yes, and
how thin starvation has made them!

It is a curious procession in every way. If they wanted to demonstrate
how roughly they have been handled, they could not have done better!
They all bear the marks of battle--they are pale and sallow and ill-
clad; their Sunday best hangs in the great common wardrobe still; what
they wear to-day is patched and mended. Hunger has refined their
features; they are more like a procession of ghosts who have shaken off
the heavy bonds of earth and are ready to take possession of the world
of the spirit, than people who hope to conquer the Promised Land for
themselves and posterity. Such a procession of conquerors! They are all
limping! A flock with broken wings, that none the less are seeking to
fly. And whither are they going?

One of their choirs breaks into song: "We are bound for the Land of
Fortune!"

And where does that land lie? has any of your watchers seen it? Or was
it not merely a deceitful dream, engendered by hunger? Eat enough,
really enough, for once, good people, and then let us talk together!
What is it yonder? The emptiness that gave birth to you and even yet
surges crazily in your starving blood? Or the land of the living? Is
this then the beginning of a new world for you? Or is the curse eternal
that brings you into the world to be slaves?

There is a peculiar, confident rhythm in their tread which drowns all
other sounds, and seems to say, "We are the masters, poor as we look to
the eye! We have used four million kroner in waging the war, and twenty
millions have been wasted because they brought the work of our hands to
a standstill! We come from the darkness, and we go toward the light, and
no one can hold us back! Behind us lie hunger and poverty, ignorance and
slavery, and before us lies a happy existence, radiant with the rising
sun of Freedom! From this day onward a new age begins; we are its
youthful might, and we demand power for ten thousand families! The few
have long enough prevailed!"

Imperturbably they march onward, despite the wounds that must yet be
smarting; for see, they limp! Why should they still doubt?

Listen, they are singing! Hoarsely the sound emerges from ten thousand
throats, as though the song had grown rusty, or must first tear itself
free. A new instrument this, that has not yet been tuned by the master--
its first notes are discords! But the song runs to and fro along the
procession in rhythmical waves, it is an army on the march, and their
eyes kindle and blaze with the growing sense of their power, the
consciousness that they are the many! And the sound grows mighty, a
storm that rolls above the housetops, "Brother, soon will dawn the day!"

Touch not the humblest of them now! A vast, intoxicating power has
descended upon them; each one has grown beyond himself, and believes
himself capable of performing miracles. There are no loose particles;
the whole is a mighty avalanche. Touch but one of them and the might of
the mass will pour into him. He will be oblivious of consequences, but
will behave as though urged by destiny--as though the vast being of
which he forms a part will assume all responsibility, and constitutes
the law!

It is intoxicating to walk in the ranks, to be permitted to bear the
Union banners; even to look on fills one with strength and joy. Mothers
and children accompany the men, although they have for the most part to
walk in the gutters. It is great sport to fall out and watch the whole
mighty procession go by, and then, by taking a short cut, again to
station one's self at the head. Stand at a street-corner, and it will
take hours for the whole to pass you. _Trapp, trapp! Trapp, trapp!_
It gets into one's blood, and remains there, like an eternal rhythm.

One Union passes and another comes up; the machinists, with the sturdy
Munck at their head, as standard-bearer, the same who struck the three
blows of doom that summoned five and forty thousand men to the battle
for the right of combination! Hurrah for Munck! Here are the house-
painters, the printers, the glove-makers, the tinsmiths, the cork-
cutters, the leather-dressers, and a group of seamen with bandy legs. At
the head of these last marches Howling Peter, the giant transfigured!
The copper-smiths, the coal-miners, the carpenters, the journeymen
bakers, and the coach-builders! A queer sort of procession this! But
here are the girdlers and there the plasterers, the stucco-workers, and
the goldsmiths, and even the sand-blasters are here! The tailors and the
shoemakers are easy to recognize. And there, God bless me, are the
slipper-makers, close at their heels; they wouldn't be left in the cold!
The gilders, the tanners, the weavers, and the tobacco-workers! The
file-cutters, the bricklayers'-laborers, the pattern-makers, the
coopers, the book-binders, the joiners and shipbuilders! What, is there
no end to them? Hi, make way for the journeymen glaziers! Yes, you may
well smile--they are all their own masters! And here come the
gasworkers, and the water-company's men, and the cabinet-makers, who
turn in their toes like the blacksmiths, and march just in front of
them, as though these had anything to learn from them! Those are the
skilful ivory-turners, and those the brush-makers; spectacled these, and
with brushes growing out of their noses--that is, when they are old.
Well, so it is all over at last! The tail consists of a swarm of
frolicsome youngsters.

But no--these are the milk-boys, these young vagabonds! And behind them
come the factory-girls and behind them it all begins again--the
pianoforte-makers, the millers, the saddlers, and the paper-hangers--
banners as far as one can see! How big and how gay the world is, after
all! How many callings men pursue, so that work shall never fail them!
Ah, here are the masons, with all the old veterans at their head--those
have been in the movement since the beginning! Look, how steady on his
leg is old Stolpe! And the slaters, with the Vanishing Man at their
head--they look as if they don't much care about walking on the level
earth! And here are the sawyers, and the brewers, and the chair-makers!
Year by year their wages have been beaten down so that at the beginning
of the struggle they were earning only half as much as ten years ago;
but see how cheerful they look! Now there will be food in the larder
once more. Those faded-looking women there are weavers; they have no
banner; eight öre the hour won't run to flags. And finally a handful of
newspaper-women from _The Working Man_. God how weary they look!
Their legs are like lead from going up and down so many stairs. Each has
a bundle of papers under her arm, as a sign of her calling.

_Trapp, trapp, trapp, trapp!_ On they go, with a slow, deliberate
step. Whither? Where Pelle wills. "_Brother, soon will dawn the
day!_" One hears the song over and over again; when one division has
finished it the next takes it up. The side-streets are spewing their
contents out upon the procession; shrunken creatures that against their
will were singed in the struggle, and cannot recover their feet again.
But they follow the procession with big eyes and break into fanatical
explanations.

A young fellow stands on the side-walk yonder; he has hidden himself
behind some women, and is stretching his neck to see. For his own Union
is coming now, to which he was faithless in the conflict. Remorse has
brought him hither. But the rhythm of the marching feet carries him
away, so that he forgets all and marches off beside them. He imagines
himself in the ranks, singing and proud of the victory. And suddenly
some of his comrades seize him and drag him into the ranks; they lift
him up and march away with him. A trophy, a trophy! A pity he can't be
stuck on a pole and carried high overhead!

Pelle is still at the head of the procession, at the side of the sturdy
Munck. His aspect is quiet and smiling, but inwardly he is full of
unruly energy; never before has he felt so strong! On the side-walks the
police keep step with him, silent and fateful. He leads the procession
diagonally across the King's New Market, and suddenly a shiver runs
through the whole; he is going to make a demonstration in front of
Schloss Amalienborg! No one has thought of that! Only the police are too
clever for them the streets leading to the castle are held by troops.

Gradually the procession widens out until it fills the entire market-
place. A hundred and fifty trades unions, each with its waving standard!
A tremendous spectacle! Every banner has its motto or device. Red is the
color of all those banners which wave above the societies which were
established in the days of Socialism, and among them are many national
flags--blue, red, and white--the standards of the old guilds and
corporations. Those belong to ancient societies which have gradually
joined the movement. Over all waves the standard of the millers, which
is some hundreds of years old! It displays a curious-looking scrawl
which is the monogram of the first absolute king!

But the real standard is not here, the red banner of the International,
which led the movement through the first troubled years. The old men
would speedily recognize it, and the young men too, they have heard so
many legends attaching to it. If it still exists it is well hidden; it
would have too great an effect on the authorities--would be like a red
rag to a bull.

And as they stand staring it suddenly rises in the air--slashed and
tattered, imperishable as to color. Pelle stands on the box of a
carriage, solemnly raising it in the air. For a moment they are taken by
surprise; then they begin to shout, until the shouts grow to a tempest
of sound. They are greeting the flag of brotherhood, the blood-red sign
of the International--and Pelle, too, who is raising it in his blistered
hands--Pelle, the good comrade, who saved the child from the fire;
Pelle, who has led the movement cause to victory!

And Pelle stands there laughing at them frankly, like a great child.
This would have been the place to give them all a few words, but he has
not yet recovered his mighty voice. So he waves it round over them with
a slow movement as though he were administering an oath to them all. And
he is very silent. This is an old dream of his, and at last it has come
to fulfillment!

The police are pushing into the crowd in squads, but the banner has
disappeared; Munck is standing with an empty stave in his hands, and is
on the point of fixing his Union banner on it.

"You must take care to get these people away from here, or we shall hold
you responsible for the consequences," says the Police inspector, with a
look that promises mischief. Pelle looks in the face. "He'd like to
throw me into prison, if only he had the courage," he thought, and then
he sets the procession in motion again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Out on the Common the great gathering of people rocked to and fro, in
restless confusion. From beyond its confines it looked like a dark,
raging sea. About each of the numerous speakers' platforms stood a
densely packed crowd, listening to the leaders who were demonstrating
the great significance of the day. But the majority did not feel
inclined to-day to stand in a crowd about a platform. They felt a
longing to surrender themselves to careless enjoyment, after all the
hardships they had endured; to stand on their heads in the grass, to
play the clown for a moment. Group upon group lay all over the great
Common, eating and playing. The men had thrown off their coats and were
wrestling with one another, or trying to revive the gymnastic exercises
of their boyhood. They laughed more than they spoke; if any one
introduced a serious subject it was immediately suppressed with a
punning remark. Nobody was serious to-day!

Pelle moved slowly about, delighting in the crowd, while keeping a look-
out for Madam Johnsen and the child, who were to have met him out here.
Inwardly, at the back of everything, he was in a serious mood, and was
therefore quiet. It must be fine to lie on one's belly here, in the
midst of one's own family circle, eating hard-boiled eggs and bread-and-
butter--or to go running about with Young Lasse on his shoulders! But
what did it profit a man to put his trust in anything? He could not
begin over again with Ellen; the impossible stood between them. To drive
Young Lasse out of his thoughts--that would be the hardest thing of all;
he must see if he could not get him away from Ellen in a friendly
manner. As for applying to the law in order to get him back, that he
would not do.

The entire Stolpe family was lying in a big circle, enjoying a meal; the
sons were there with their wives and children; only Pelle and his family
were lacking.

"Come and set to!" said Stolpe, "or you'll be making too long a day of
it."

"Yes," cried Madam Stolpe, "it is such a time since we've been together.
No need for us to suffer because you and Ellen can't agree!" She did not
know the reason of the breach--at all events, not from him--but was none
the less friendly toward him.

"I am really looking for my own basket of food," said Pelle, lying down
beside them.

"Now look here, you are the deuce of a fellow," said Stolpe, suddenly
laughing. "You intended beforehand to look in and say how-d'ye-do to
Brother Christian, [Footnote: The king was so called.] hey? It wasn't
very wise of you, really--but that's all one to me. But what you have
done to-day no one else could do. The whole thing went like a dance! Not
a sign of wobbling in the ranks! You know, I expect, that they mean to
put you at the head of the Central Committee? Then you will have an
opportunity of working at your wonderful ideas of a world-federation.
But there'll be enough to do at home here without that; at the next
election we must win the city--and part of the country too. You'll let
them put you up?"

"If I recover my voice. I can't speak loudly at present."

"Try the raw yolk of an egg every night," said Madam Stolpe, much
concerned, "and tie your left-hand stocking round your throat when you
go to bed; that is a good way. But it must be the left-hand stocking."

"Mother is a Red, you know," said Stolpe. "If I go the right-hand side
of her she doesn't recognize me!"

The sun must have set--it was already beginning to grow dark. Black
clouds were rising in the west. Pelle felt remorseful that he had not
yet found the old woman and her grandchild, so he took his leave of the
Stolpes.

He moved about, looking for the two; wherever he went the people greeted
him, and there was a light in their eyes. He noticed that a policeman
was following him at some little distance; he was one of the secret
hangers-on of the party; possibly he had something to communicate to
him. So Pelle lay down in the grass, a little apart from the crowd, and
the policeman stood still and gazed cautiously about him. Then he came
up to Pelle. When he was near he bent down as though picking something
up. "They are after you," he said, under his breath; "this afternoon
there was a search made at your place, and you'll be arrested, as soon
as you leave here." Then he moved on.

Pelle lay there some minutes before he could understand the matter. A
search-but what was there at his house that every one might not know of?
Suddenly he thought of the wood block and the tracing of the ten-kroner
note. They had sought for some means of striking at him and they had
found the materials of a hobby!

He rose heavily and walked away from the crowd. On the East Common he
stood still and gazed back hesitatingly at this restless sea of
humanity, which was now beginning to break up, and would presently melt
away into the darkness. Now the victory was won and they were about to
take possession of the Promised Land--and he must go to prison, for a
fancy begotten of hunger! He had issued no false money, nor had he ever
had any intention of doing so. But of what avail was that? He was to be
arrested--he had read as much in the eyes of the police-inspector. Penal
servitude--or at best a term in prison!

He felt that he must postpone the decisive moment while he composed his
mind. So he went back to the city by way of the East Bridge. He kept to
the side-streets, in order not to be seen, and made his way toward St.
Saviour's churchyard; the police were mostly on the Common.

For a moment the shipping in the harbor made him think of escape. But
whither should he flee? And to wander about abroad as an outlaw, when
his task and his fate lay here could he do it? No, he must accept his
fate!

The churchyard was closed; he had to climb over the wall in order to get
in. Some one had put fresh flowers on Father Lasse's grave. Maria, he
thought. Yes, it must have been she! It was good to be here; he no
longer felt so terribly forsaken. It was as though Father Lasse's
untiring care still hovered protectingly about him.

But he must move on. The arrest weighed upon his mind and made him
restless. He wandered through the city, keeping continually to the
narrow side-streets, where the darkness concealed him. This was the
field of battle--how restful it was now! Thank God, it was not they who
condemned him! And now happiness lay before them--but for him!

Cautiously he drew near his lodging--two policemen in plain clothes were
patrolling to and fro before the house. After that he drew back again
into the narrow side-streets. He drifted about aimlessly, fighting
against the implacable, and at last resigning himself.

He would have liked to see Ellen--to have spoken kindly to her, and to
have kissed the children. But there was a watch on his home too--at
every point he was driven back into the solitude to which he was a
stranger. That was the dreadful part of it all. How was he going to live
alone with himself, he who only breathed when in the company of others?
Ellen was still his very life, however violently he might deny it. Her
questioning eyes still gazed at him enigmatically, from whatever corner
of existence he might approach. He had a strong feeling now that she had
held herself ready all this time--that she had sat waiting for him,
expecting him. How would she accept this?

From Castle Street he saw a light in Morten's room. He slipped into the
yard and up the stairs. Morten was reading.

"It's something quite new to see you--fireman!" he said, with a kindly
smile.

"I have come to say good-bye," said Pelle lightly.

Morten looked at him wonderingly. "Are you going to travel?"

"Yes ... I--I wanted...." he said, and sat down.

He gazed on the floor in front of his feet. "What would you do if the
authorities were sneaking after you?" he asked suddenly. Morten stared
at him for a time. Then he opened a drawer and took out a revolver. "I
wouldn't let them lay hands on me," he said blackly. "But why do you ask
me?"

"Oh, nothing.... Will you do me a favor, Morten? I have promised to take
up a collection for those poor creatures from the 'Ark,' but I've no
time for it now. They have lost all their belongings in the fire. Will
you see to the matter?"

"Willingly. Only I don't understand----"

"Why, I have got to go away for a time," said Pelle, with a grim laugh.
"I have always wanted to travel, as you know. Now there's an
opportunity."

"Good luck, then!" said Morten, looking at him curiously as he pressed
his hand. How much he had guessed Pelle did not know. There was Bornholm
blood in Morten's veins; he was not one to meddle in another's affairs.

And then he was in the streets again. No, Morten's way out was of no use
to him--and now he would give in, and surrender himself to the
authorities! He was in the High Street now; he had no purpose in hiding
himself any longer.

In North Street he saw a figure dealing with a shop-door in a very
suspicious manner; as Pelle came up it flattened itself against the
door. Pelle stood still on the pavement; the man, too, was motionless
for a while, pressing himself back into the shadow; then, with an angry
growl, he sprang out, in order to strike Pelle to the ground.

At that very moment the two men recognized one another. The stranger was
Ferdinand.

"What, are you still at liberty?" he cried, in amazement. "I thought
they had taken you!"

"How did you know that?" asked Pelle.

"Ach, one knows these things--it's part of one's business. You'll get
five to six years, Pelle, till you are stiff with it. Prison, of course
--not penal servitude."

Pelle shuddered.

"You'll freeze in there," said Ferdinand compassionately. "As for me, I
can settle down very well in there. But listen, Pelle--you've been so
good, and you've tried to save me--next to mother you are the only
person I care anything about. If you would like to go abroad I can soon
hide you and find the passage-money."

"Where will you get it?" asked Pelle, hesitating.

"Ach, I go in for the community of goods," said Ferdinand with a broad
smile. "The prefect of police himself has just five hundred kroner lying
in his desk. I'll try to get it for you if you like."

"No," said Pelle slowly, "I would rather undergo my punishment. But
thanks for your kind intentions--and give my best wishes to your old
mother. And if you ever have anything to spare, then give it to Widow
Johnsen. She and the child have gone hungry since Hanne's death."

And then there was nothing more to do or say; it was all over.... He
went straight across the market-place toward the court-house. There it
stood, looking so dismal! He strolled slowly past it, along the canal,
in order to collect himself a little before going in. He walked along
the quay, gazing down into the water, where the boats and the big live-
boxes full of fish were just visible. By Holmens Church he pulled
himself together and turned back--he must do it now! He raised his head
with a sudden resolve and found himself facing Marie. Her cheeks glowed
as he gazed at her.

"Pelle," she cried, rejoicing, "are you still at liberty? Then it wasn't
true! I have been to the meeting, and they said there you had been
arrested. Ach, we have been so unhappy!"

"I shall be arrested--I am on the way now."

"But, Pelle, dear Pelle!" She gazed at him with tearful eyes. Ah, he was
still the foundling, who needed her care! Pelle himself had tears in his
eyes; he suddenly felt weak and impressible. Here was a human child
whose heart was beating for him--and how beautiful she was, in her grief
at his misfortune!

She stood before him, slender, but generously formed; her hair--once so
thin and uncared-for--fell in heavy waves over her forehead. She had
emerged from her stunted shell into a glorious maturity. "Pelle," she
said, with downcast eyes, gripping both his hands, "don't go there to-
night--wait till tomorrow! All the others are rejoicing over the victory
to-night--and so should you! ... Come with me, to my room, Pelle, you
are so unhappy." Her face showed him that she was fighting down her
tears. She had never looked so much a child as now.

"Why do you hesitate? Come with me! Am I not pretty? And I have kept it
all for you! I have loved you since the very first time I ever saw you,
Pelle, and I began to grow, because I wanted to be beautiful for you. I
owe nothing to any one but you, and if you don't want me I don't want to
go on living!"

No, she owed nothing to any one, this child from nowhere, but was solely
and entirely her own work. Lovely and untouched she came to him in her
abandonment, as though she were sent by the good angel of poverty to
quicken his heart. Beautiful and pure of heart she had grown up out of
wretchedness as though out of happiness itself, and where in the world
should he rest his head, that was wearied to death, but on the heart of
her who to him was child and mother and beloved?

"Pelle, do you know, there was dancing to-day in the Federation building
after the meeting on the Common, and we young girls had made a green
garland, and I was to crown you with it when you came into the hall. Oh,
we did cry when some one came up and called out to us that they had
taken you! But now you have won the wreath after all, haven't you? And
you shall sleep sweetly and not think of to-morrow!"

And Pelle fell asleep with his head on her girlish bosom. And as she lay
there gazing at him with the eyes of a mother, he dreamed that Denmark's
hundred thousand workers were engaged in building a splendid castle, and
that he was the architect. And when the castle was finished he marched
in at the head of the army of workers; singing they passed through the
long corridors, to fill the shining halls. But the halls were not there
--the castle had turned into a prison! And they went on and on, but could
not find their way out again.

       *       *       *       *       *





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